Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lousiest game of the year

Damn, I hate seeing the Giants lose to the Cubs. "Anytime you lose to the Cubs, it's a disgrace," Alvin Dark told Charlie Einstein in "A Flag For San Francisco," published in 1962. It's still true today.

This is as lousy as the July 4, 2010 loss to the Rox in 15 innings, which left the Giants at 41-40. They then went 51-30 for the rest of the year.

Raising (Matt) Cain notes that Cain and Lincecum held the Cubs to 2 runs in 14 innings. That's wasting a lot of good pitching. It's now been a month since Buster went down and 3 weeks since Freddy Sanchez hit the DL. Hey Sabean -- you want to win this thing? Then do something.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tim Lincecum 2011 = Matt Cain 2007-08

It looks like Tim's dealing again. He's superb once again at Wrigley with 9 Ks and one run over seven innings, but the Cubs finally play like an MLB team with a clutch ninth and leave Lincecum with a no decision and a 6-6 record. For me, it was reminiscent of seeing Matt Cain pitch well enough to win but rack up a and lose during the two-year stretch of 2007 and 2008 when he racked up a scary but deceptive record of 15-30.

Anyhow -- the offense reverted to being lousy as the Giants hit the halfway mark at 46-35, as Chris Haft of notes in his game story.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lucky seven in a row?

On paper, this is not the kind of team that should be capable of a 7-game win streak, given how disastrous the offense is. And yet ...
Something about Wrigley Field and Coors changes the character of teams. In this case, the Giants gave up 10 runs in the doubleheader and still won fairly easily, pounding out 19 runs and 30 hits. Lefty Malo makes some astute observations -- particularly the D by Brandon Crawford at SS (click through for the video). Lefty believes he's a better hitter than he's shown recently --

That's the Giants' shortstop of the future. It doesn't matter if he hits .200. The Giants need to find other hitters to pick up the slack. This is a team that can afford a banjo-hitting shortstop in the 8-hole, as long as he turns seeds into outs with his glove. There's a bonus with Crawford, too: He's going to be OK with the bat. I'm no scout, and I'm no Nostradamus, but I've seen the kid take enough solid at-bats against tough lefty relievers -- like his two-run double against John Grabow tonight -- indeed, against all manner of pitching, to give me hope. He's been making lots of outs, but he hasn't looked lost at the plate. The hidden numbers back me up: His average on balls put in play is .209, extremely unlucky even for a light-hitting shortstop. (League average is .291.) What's more, he's actually walking more and striking out less than the league average. He might not ever be a force at the plate, but my eyes and the stats tell me that he's got the ability not to embarrass himself. And if the rest of the Giants hit decently, that's all the team could ask for. Seven in a row, three games to the good in the division, all without their rock-solid second baseman or folk-hero catcher, without their Panda for much of the year or anyone vaguely resembling a middle-of-the-order power hitter. If there were half-year manager of the year awards, could the NL prize go to anyone other than Bruce Bochy? .

Monday, June 27, 2011

Here's why Zito is a multi-millionaire

Train wreck in LA?

Best game of the season so far

What a fine fine night.

Here's the top of Henry Schulman game story for the Chron -- Madison Bumgarner did not have to prove his mettle to anybody. He checked that box in indelible ink when he pitched eight shutout innings in his first World Series start as a 21-year-old rookie.

If any skeptics remained, Bumgarner gave them Exhibit B on Sunday night, when he overcame his historically bad start against Minnesota by going on national television, striking out a career-high 11 and holding Cleveland to one run over seven innings in a 3-1 Giants victory.

Great games also for Chris Stewart, Jeremy Affeldt and Sandoval, who's looking locked in occasionally

Sunday, June 26, 2011

More wasted $ on scapegoating Bonds

The judge in the Barry Bonds case has given prosecutors more time to decide if they want to keep wasting money. AP reports the next court date is August 26.

John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters and the site Where Have You Gone Joe have weighed in with reactions that are far more articulate than mine. Where Have You Gone Joe nails it --
The alleged wrongdoing has been reduced to fibbing about something so inconsequential, as to hardly merit an uplifted eyebrow amongst those with a sense of perspective and fair-play. At least when contrasted with what the founders of this country considered to be transgressions. But when you have a Justice Department that wants to charge private citizens with felony-level terrorist acts for unauthorized use of music videos, nobody should be surprised at the travesty going on at 450 Golden Gate Ave. in San Francisco.

As the Bill Clinton debacle demonstrated, and what this trial is continuing to do, is to diminish and trivialize the stature, prestige and credibility of our Federal Judicial system. In both cases, it really boiled down to a a few bullies using their government provided power to bully famous and unpopular personalities.

Here's John's conclusion -- Every person involved in this witch hunt will forever have their names and reputations besmirched by their corrupt participation.

Thanks, Balkin' Bob

Bob Davidson -- who gifted the Giants yesterday's win -- was the same ump who called the 12th inning balks on Armando Benitez back in May, 2007, which were followed by a walkoff homer by Carlos Delgado.

That was the last game Benitez ever pitched for the Giants -- they traded him 2 days later to the Marlins for Randy Messenger. I was glad to see him go. For me, Benitez may have been the Giant who was hardest to like in the 54 seasons that I've followed the team.

He hasn't been in the MLB since pitching eight games for the Jays in 2008. He got signed and released in 2009 by Houston and then by Florida last year without making it back to the MLB.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Four in a row!

Even since Madison Bumgarner's historic 8-run first inning on Tuesday, the Giants pitchers have clamped down big time -- there was only one more run Tuesday, one on Wednesday, one on Thursday, three last night and Zero today.

That's the way to get over a 5-game losing streak. It's only the second 1-0 vic for the Orange and Black this year. The other came on May 10 against the Dbacks and was the 4th win a 6-game winning streak. Grant at McCovey Chronicles says the Giants have won a total of 152 1-0 games since 1919. They did it 3 times last year, including two down the stretch on Sept. 10 and 21.

Today's run came in on a balk call by "Balkin' Bob Davidson."

Adam Berry of turned in a pretty good lead on his game story -- The Giants have found a way to win all season, posting the fourth-highest winning percentage in the National League despite scoring the fewest runs in the Majors. Saturday, however, it seemed like a way to win found the Giants.

They scored their lone run in a seventh inning, in which Nate Schierholtz tripped on a sure standup triple, two errors were committed by Indians second baseman Cord Phelps and a run came home on a balk. With Matt Cain dealing on the mound and another strong outing by the bullpen, that unusual run was good enough to secure San Francisco's 1-0 win over Cleveland before a sold-out crowd of 42,130 in AT&T Park.

Walking machine on the DL

The pen = A thing of beauty

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"Just say no to Zito"

Dan Pera at Dodgerhater has a long but fascinating post examining the upcoming return of Barry Zito to the MLB.He's unimpressed with Zito's rehab starts. Here's the start --

I said it yesterday on Twitter, and I'll say it again here.

I don't care if Barry Zito threw 4 perfect games in a row in he minor leagues, he's not better than Ryan Vogelsong, and he does NOT under any circumstances belong in the Giants' starting rotation (barring injury to another starer of course).

Zito is a cat that has run out of lives. Somehow though, he's still there, like a zombie that just won't die in a terrible movie.


What a relief.

After a masterful performance by Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Lincecum delivers the kind of stunning numbers that have made him legendary -- 3 hits, 2 walks, 12 Ks. In other words, Tim's back to being Tim.

Alex Pavlovic of the Merc-News notes Tim struck out the side in the 5th and 7th.

Julian Levine at Splashing Pumpkins points out that there were 22 swinging strikes in the 109 pitches and that 9 of the 11 balls put into play were grounders. That's pretty filthy.

Max Ramirez headed for SF?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Vogelsong the stopper

Just when it looked like the Giants would never win another game, Ryan Vogelsong stopped a 5-game losing streak and continued making the case for being an All-Star. He's been the best Giants pitcher this season. Henry Schulman points out that Vogelsong's verging into Marichal territory --
One night after the bullpen threw 8 2/3 innings following Madison Bumgarner's epic first-inning collapse, Vogelsong gave the relievers most of the night off, which he has done frequently.Vogelsong held Minnesota to one unearned run, which scored in his seventh and final inning. That made him the first Giant since Jason Schmidt in 2006 to allow two or fewer runs over nine consecutive starts. If Vogelsong does it again in Chicago next week, he will tie Juan Marichal's San Francisco record.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Eight hits in a row is hard to believe"

I could focus on stellar relief from Guillermo Mota or Eli Whiteside's homer or Emmanuel Burris finally driving in a runner in scoring position after the Giants had gone 0-for-31 in those situations. But that's not what anyone will remember.

The quote is what Mike Krukow said in the postgame wrap on KNBR. He made the point that MLB players don't even get eight hits in a row in batting practice. It was all strangely historic. Here's how John Shea of the SF Chronicle put it in his game story (along with warning us that Zito was stellar for Fresno tonight) --The previous team with its first eight men hitting safely to open a game (with all scoring) was the 1990 Yankees in a Sept. 25 game against the Orioles.

Bumgarner's string was broken when he struck out pitcher Carl Pavano, but Revere doubled home two runs, making Bumgarner the first pitcher in the live-ball era (since 1900) to surrender nine hits without getting at least two outs.

Dave Flemming pointed out during the 3rd inning that Pavano got to participate in a strange game opener in 2003 when he was on the Marlins and gave up 6 straight hits to the Bosox to open a game (double, single, double, homer, double, single) and left without getting anyone out. The Sox scored 14 runs in the first (at Fenway) and went on to win 25-8. And the Marlins won the World Series that year.

"We need to do something now"

Ron at Raising (Matt) Cain examines the Giants so-called offense and concludes that there's only player -- Nate Schierholtz -- who's improved from last year. Here's his conclusion --

Overall - We are quite a bit worse this year than last. Even if Huff starts to hit, the overall prognosis is not good.

Conclusion - We need to do something, even if it means giving up a prospect or 2. We need a C, a SS, & a left-handed utility OF. And, I don't think that we can wait until the end of July. We need to do something now.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A bit of sympathy for Dodger fans

Readers of this blog know I don't have much use for Dodger fans. Yet I feel strangely sympathetic for them right now. Yes, they're guilty of year-in year-out arrogance, obsession with beach balls, chanting "Barry sucks" endlessly and being generally clueless about baseball -- particularly in the insistence that Steve Garvey and Walter O'Malley are sterling human beings.

But I actually feel some measure of sympathy for Dodger fans. Perhaps part of that is my being impressed with how Dodger fans were properly horrified about the Brian Stow beating and put two and two together -- that the McCourts maybe didn't care much about the fans and their saftey -- and decided to stay away to the tune of more than 8,000 per game. And the latest takedowns of Frank McCourt are absolutely brutal. Larry at the It's About the Money, Stupid blog has a long but solid piece explaining how the McCourts have essentially looted the franchise for the past 7 years and will probably keep looting it unless MLB intervenes.

Josh Fisher of Dodger Divorce spells out what a mess this has turned out to be because McCourt has managed to strip out key assets from the team and place them under his control --

Sources familiar with McCourt's strategy indicated Monday that significant sources of Dodgers revenue would not be available to Major League Baseball or another owner without McCourt's consent. These are said to include a $21 million annual lease obligation owed from the team to a McCourt entity for the club's use of the parking lots surrounding Dodger Stadium and any ticket revenue in excess of the $6-7 million per year of service on certain McCourt debt, according to the sources. This year's figures were not available, but the surplus cash after debt service exceeded $60 million in 2005. Both of these revenue streams are slated to stay with McCourt for at least 20 more years.

The lease payments and ticket sales revenue could act together as a poison pill discouraging what would be called in the corporate world a hostile takeover. Baseball's recourse would most likely be legal action seeking a determination that such revenue cannot be diverted from team operations. McCourt's counter could be that baseball has always had knowledge of these practices and, indeed, approved the separate sale of the team and surrounding land when McCourt purchased the Dodgers before the 2004 season.

The takeaway for fans is that McCourt likely will make a complete MLB takeover as painful as possible. After all, any money baseball spends running the Dodgers until a new owner is identified ultimately comes from the league's other 29 team owners. Furthermore, the team is likely much less marketable to potential ownership groups if such significant revenue streams do not flow back to the team, but to McCourt entities.

Bud tells McCourt to go to hell

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Can't anyone hit the damn ball?

Yet another fine pitching performance goes down the drain thanks to the popgun offense. You know you're in trouble when the biggest hit of the day -- Aaron Rowand's RBI double -- comes from a guy who's essentially staving off being DFA'd every time he gets a hit. The rest of the offense was a walk by Nate and singles by Sandoval, Huff, Ross and Burriss.

Andrew Baggarly of the Merc-News just tweeted that Brian Sabean's actively seeking help for the offense. John Perricone of Only Baseball Matters says it's time to make a move.

Readers of this blog know that I was strenuous about calling for Carney Lansford to be fired as batting coach during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Color me unimpressed with the job that Hensley Meulens has done with this team. There's gotta be someone else who can do better.

It's the 4th loss in a row for the Gmen -- matching the April 21-24 stretch, where the Braves swept the Giants in San Francisco, culminating in a 9-6 nightmare loss. Rowand got a two-run double in that game, too. And it was also his only hit.

"Call it the curse of baseball ignorance"

Marcos Breton of the Sacramento Bee has a fine analysis of what's happened to the Florida Marlins since dingbat Scott Cousins' successful attempt to injure Buster Posey. Here's the nut of it --

The Marlins' sudden demise has the feel of deserved karma. For many reasons, it seems right that it is the Marlins and not the Giants who are suffering in the standings in the wake of Cousins-Posey.
It feels good, too, for those of us who think baseball should protect catchers from needless collisions.

247 runs = 29th of 30

Saturday, June 18, 2011

He's back, sorta kinda

Topps 2007 Rookie card from the Daily Sports Card blog (hard to believe it's just been four years...)

This is one those annoying losses to a no-name Oakland starter that contains a bit of good news: Tim Lincecum bounced back from a couple of lousy starts but the Giants put up just two runs again. Henry Schulman of the SF Chron reports that he looked pretty solid, just not dominating --

He lasted six-plus innings and allowed three runs, two earned, with seven strikeouts. That might not be vintage Lincecum, but it sure beats the 16 earned runs he allowed in 15 1/3 innings over his first three starts this month. That includes a seven-run monstrosity in a 10-2 loss to Cincinnati a week ago.

MY COMMENT -- Scott Cousins is a deranged dingbat who may have messed up Lincecum's year, too. Carl Steward of the Merc-News makes the point much more diplomatically in his notes post.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Now batting, Hal Lanier

Dick Schofield and Hal Lanier in the 1966 Topps set. Good fielders, lousy hitters. Posted in the 1966 Topps blog, which observes -- In 1965, these two were the Giants' starting Keystone Combo for 81 games. In 1966, they only hooked up 4 times before Schofield was sold to the Yankees in mid-May.

Here's why I'm thinking of Hal Lanier. This is what's up in 2011 -- This team is running out a Triple A lineup some nights, or as Grant at McCovey Chronicles put it --

No sense in getting worked up over this one. The Giants won a series against the second-place team on the road. They did it even though the lineup featured Hal Lanier, Brad Wellman, and Desi Wilson hitting in the middle of the order. It was a good series for the most part. If Ian Kennedy is getting the corner strikes, he's pretty unhittable. And it wasn't Willie Bloomquist who hit the home run. It wasn't a walk-off balk. It was an impressive opposite-field home run from the best player on the Diamondbacks. Would have been a lot cooler if he, you know, didn't hit the home run, but it's not a shameful way to lose. Or, in other words: it's bad to lose a game in which Ryan Vogelsong gets tagged for eight earned, making us question his renaissance. It's not as bad to lose a game after a ninth-inning comeback takes Vogelsong off the hook, especially if the game-winning home run is just a good player doing good-player things.

The best 3-8 pitcher in MLB

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

92 wins for the Orange and Black

Henry Schulman of the Chron just tweeted this --

I'm not a big fan of "on pace" stats, but for the record, Gs on pace to win 91.85 games. In last decade 92 has been main playoff threshold.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stretch in his prime

Here's part of the Collective Troll post from last Nov. 2 --He is one of only 3 players to hit homers in 4 different decades. He was the NL's homerun king 3 times and hit 521 for his career. He also hit 18 grand slams, the most by any player in the National League. McCovey made it to the World Series 1 time over 22 seasons, in 1962 when he was platooning with Orlando Cepeda. McCovey batted only .200, but did homer in the Giants effort. San Francisco would fall to the Yankees in 7 games and Big Mac would never return to the Series.
Stretch McCovey retired after the 1980 season and was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1986, his first year on the ballot. Last night over 50 years after
Willie McCovey stormed into the big leagues, the Giants won a World Series, and after half a century in MLB Stretch got his first ring. Congratulations the Giants winning their first World Series since 1954 - finally proving they could win without Willie Mays and Monte Irvin.
Oh, by the way - they don't name a Cove after you if you ain't Nitty Gritty. I love this game, I love this hobby! 42 years LATER.

How about some cheese to go with that whine?

Diamondbacks announcers Jeff Munn and Tom Candiotti whined for several moments about the called third strike that Stephen Drew took to end tonight's game. They alleged that Brian Wilson's pitch was several inches outside.

Well, Jeff and Tom, those are the breaks. You may have heard that the Giants haven't had a lot of good ones lately. Plus, what the hell is Drew doing taking a borderline pitch in that situation?

All I remember from when I played and got two strikes on me was the words of legendary pinch hitter Gates Brown, who said something like "If you have two strikes on you and the pitcher throws his hat up to the plate, you'd better be swinging at it."

For what it's worth, the Giants got the short end of the stick in the 6th when the umps missed a call on a great throw by Matt Cain to first that had Chris Young out. At least that's what Henry Schulman says in his game story for the Chron. Bad calls even out. But give me your address, Tom and Jeff, so I can Fed-Ex some cheese to go with that whine.

UPDATE -- Here's what Schulman just tweeted: hankschulman
Just saw my first replay of Wilson's final pitch. Drew had no right to complain. If it wasn't a strike, it was damn close.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Willie Mays in 1968

Readers of this blog may have noticed that I'm having some fun picking up cards from various outstanding collector blogs -- such as this 1968 Topps Baseball blog assembled by Jim of Downingtown. Here's what he said about this card --

Topps got a little lazy when it came to Mays' cards. This is the same photo that was used on the 1965 card. (The 1966 Mays photo was also used in 1969.)It looks like age is catching up to Willie. A quick check on his stats shows that 1967 was an off year for Mays. 1966 was a good year for him, but it was a step down from his previous seasons. Willie went on to play 5 more seasons, finishing in 1973 with the NL champion Mets. He retired with 660 home runs (2nd place at the time).

Should Jonathan Sanchez be traded?

I don't think so. Lefty Malo has a long post advocating cashing in on his elevated value -- plus the need for some offense now -- but I'm utterly unconvinced that Barry Zito will be worth more than a bucket of batting practice baseballs when he returns to the big leagues. This is going to be a tough race (the Dbacks are only half a game out of first) and counting on Zito to come through in any kind of high pressure situation is foolish. Or have we already forgotten his awfulness in Game 161 last season? I have a problem with Lefty's argument --

Trading Sanchez is rolling the dice, I admit. I'd do it and pray Ryan Vogelsong doesn't revert back into a Lehigh Valley IronPig Pumpkin and that Barry Zito can, for $20 million a year, do a decent job as the fifth starter. But look at it this way: Sanchez will probably be in another uniform come 2013; do you really think the Giants will extend him long-term into his free-agent years? Why not cash him in for a big bat this summer (and save on the Maalox bill, to boot)?

MY RESPONSE -- Because Zito will probably suck. At various times during his five years in the Orange and Black, he's been among the worst starting pitchers in MLB. "Rolling the dice" doesn't come close to describing what this means -- "falling on the sword" would be more like it. Plus, I'm also unconvinced that Zito will remain injury-free now that he's gone through a major injury.

Little prospect for an Orange and Black trade

So says Chris Haft of in a post today about Sandoval's return. Here are the first 3 paragraphs --

Pablo Sandoval's anticipated return for Tuesday's series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks does more than restore a formidable presence to the Giants' lineup.

Sandoval's activation from the disabled list -- more specifically, his impending performance -- has implications for the immediate future. That's a critical period, with the July 31 Trade Deadline looming.

History has proven that general manager Brian Sabean acts decisively almost every summer to address the club's needs. But with relatively few highly sought prospects in the Minor League system available for trade, the reigning World Series champions might have to survive with what they have.

The pen does it again

This Orange and Black bullpen is freaking fantastic and a credit to Dave Righetti and Bruce Boch's coaching. Here you have the Reds, who demolished Tim Lincecum yesterday with some serious offense (Phillips, Bruce, Votto are the real deal) but got held in the other three games in the series to a total of eight runs. Here's the germane verbiage from Andrew Baggarly in his Extra Baggs blog tonight (boldface is mine) --

–Jonathan Sanchez .. what can you say? He’s maddening to watch, but he gives the Giants a chance to win. I’m sure there were times Bruce Bochy and Dave Righetti wanted to strangle him for walking guys in the afternoon shadows, when nobody could see what he was throwing. But it usually seems to work out.

–Jonny Sanchez’s inefficiency would be a bigger issue if he played for a team with a lousy bullpen. That’s not an issue with the Giants. Javier Lopez struck out Jay Bruce and Joey Votto like it was the postseason again. Ramon Ramirez and Sergio Romo did the job one more time, too. The Giants probably aren’t a .500 team if they have a substandard bullpen. Instead, they’ve got the best group in the business. (And it’s better than ever now that Jeremy Affeldt is throwing sickness again.)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Garry and Gary

You can count yourself as a real Giants fan if you remember that the Giants decided to trade Garry Maddox early in the 1975 season to the Phils for Willie Montanez -- partly because they had Gary Thomasson ready to go. Problem was that while Maddox was as good as it gets when it comes to centerfield, Thomasson was pretty awful, at least every time I showed up at the Stick in the 1975 and 1976 seasons. He had a hardcore ability to misplay balls at a time when the Stick had an extremely hard Astroturf surface. Every ball hit to center was a challenge to his artless defense. Meanwhile, Maddox was a mainstay to a playoff contender and the 1980 World Series champs. He even came in fifth in the MVP voting in 1976, when Joe Morgan was winning his second consecutive MVP with an impressive WAR rating of 10.0.

I found these cards at the 1975 Topps (It's Far Out, Man) site, which I love despite the fact that it's obviously been assembled by a Dodger fan. The Thomasson recap made me laugh out loud.

Gary Thomasson's bat looks like it came from Kay-Bee toys.Other stuff: Thomasson came up with the Giants and was a fourth outfielder for San Francisco during the days when the team featured a starting outfield of Bobby Bonds, Garry Maddox and Gary Matthews. Thomasson also played some first base, as you see by the position designation on the card.Thomasson was shipped to Oakland in the massive trade that brought Vida Blue to the Giants. But Thomasson was traded again to the Yankees three months later. He played in the postseason in 1978 (going 1-for-5) and then was traded to the Dodgers, where he was a backup outfielder for two seasons.Afterward, Thomasson signed to play in Japan, inking the highest-paying contract in Nippon Pro Baseball at the time. He led the league in strikeouts, receiving the nickname "The Human Giant Fan" by Japanese writers. His playing career ended with a knee injury his final year in Japan in '82.

MY COMMENT -- The one positive Thomasson moment that sticks out in my mind came on opening day at Dodger Stadium in 1976 when he hit the first pitch of the season out of the park.

'Tis but a scratch

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bobby Murcer magically becomes a Giant

This 1975 card of Murcer made laugh out loud, particularly after the 10-2 buttkick by the Reds today. What's really odd about this is that the photo was probably shot in 1973, two years before the card was issued -- since Yankee Stadium was closed for remodeling in 1974 and 1975. The Yanks played their home games at Shea Stadium. (The trademark white facade in the background is a dead giveaway)

If there was a book on "The History of Airbrushing," this card would be Exhibit A in the lengths that Topps would go to to depict a player in the correct uniform.

The Lincecum problem

Man, he got blasted today. What's the cause? I say it's the combination of the alarming 133-pitch game on May 21 plus Posey being taken out for the season by deranged dingbat Scott Cousins.

Julian Levine at Splashing Pumpkins has a sensible reaction and offers some perspective to take us fans back from the ledge --

It's unusual for Lincecum to have a couple bad back-to-back starts, sure. But not something so unprecedented that we should really start to worry.

Welcome Bill Hall

Bill Hall will be wearing No. 29 today for the Orange and Black.

He was released by the Astros a week ago. Hard not to be dazzled by his 35 homers back in 2006...but then you look at a career on-based percentage of .308....

Still, it's a low-cost fix what with Freddy's injury. The Giants web site has a story and has posted a video of Hall getting 4 hits against the Dodgers on May 23. I couldn't get the video to run, however.

Why the heck did I post this very groovy card of Derrel Thomas? You may wonder. The answer is pretty random -- one poster to the Giants web site noted that Hall reminds him of the former Giant in that he can play any position. I gotta say I like this card.

Speier says Crawford's the real deal

Friday, June 10, 2011

Why is Nate not starting?

Why am I asking this question when I already know the answer? I guess I just don't like Aaron Rowand. I know he can hit lefties better than righties but I want Nate out there.

I know that it's a platoon situation because the Reds had a lefty starter last night but I'm surprised that Nate Schierholtz isn't starting more when he remains better defensively than Rowand and Burrell and better offensively than Rowand. My best guess is that Nate's always been perceived as a fourth or fifth outfielder so he'll keep getting used as one, despite making the case with walk-off hits like tonight's. It's the 9th walkoff win of the season.

One of the keys to winning the pennant last year was benching Rowand. Outside of Eli Whiteside, Rowand is the least effective regular on the team yet he has the fourth most ABs on the team. Even with two singles tonight, his offense is dismal. He's now 19 for 50 this year against lefties so I suppose that when one's starting, Rowand gets to start.

Another one bites the dust

Man, whatever good luck the Giants had last year in avoiding injuries hasn't visited the team this year. Posey, Sandoval, Torres, Ross, Fontenot, DeRosa. I'm not including Zito since that actually worked out by giving a starting slot to the Amazing Ryan Vogelsong.

A truly bittersweet walkoff win tonight as Freddy Sanchez goes down with a separated shoulder. Freddy's made a convert out of me. I had thought of him as a brittle guy dining off the past glory of a 2006 batting title but his solid performance last year (once he got over the offseason surgery) won me over. It's a damn shame. Carl Steward's game story for the Merc-News points out that, unfortunately, the injury was to Freddy's right shoulder.

But how about that Vogelsong kid? Wow.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Bumgarner = The new Matt Cain

"I feel for the kid" -- Duane Kuiper after watching Madison Bumgarner lose on a single earned run to go 2-8 despite a 3.23 ERA. Kuip, Jon Miller, Mike Krukow and Jon Miller all agreed that Bumgarner is going through the same kind of lousy run support from the Giants that Matt Cain often saw early. Henry Schulman sounds a similar theme in his Chronicle game story --

Here is Bumgarner's Caining almanac:

Five of his eight losses have come by scores of 3-1, 2-0, 2-0, 2-1 and now 3-0. In seven of his eight losses, the Giants have scored once or been shut out. Over his past nine starts, Bumgarner has a 1.93 ERA, yet is 2-5.

... the Giants really need Pablo Sandoval in the middle of their lineup, or even a cardboard cutout of the Panda, if only to present pitchers one hitter to fear. Sandoval had two singles in the opener of a four-game series for Triple-A Fresno in Salt Lake City on Thursday night, but Bochy said the staff is resisting the urge to end his rehab early.

MY COMMENT -- Let's get Sandoval back in the lineup ASAP

Edgar Renteria's moment

RIP Jose Pagan

He was a starter on the early 1960s teams, and wound up 11th in the MVP voting in 1962. He was traded straight up in mid-season 1965 for Dick Schofield of the Pirates. A year later, the Giants sold Schofield to the Yanks and began starting Tito Fuentes at short.

Chris Haft's obit on the Giants site notes that he played 164 games in 1962.

He got to play in the 1962 and 1971 World Series and went 11 for 34.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Bucs break even

Depressing times for Giant fans was that period from 2005 to 2008. Four straight losing seasons but nothing like the 18 straight that the Pittsburgh fans have endured.

The Pirates stunned the Dbacks -- who had been red-hot -- and won their second game in a row on a walk-off HR tonight by Andrew McCutcheon in the 12th. The Pirate announcers could not believe what had happened. The Bucs helped keep the Giants in first and are 30-30. They were last at .500 this late in the season in 2005.

Does Eli Whiteside read this blog?

I can't help but wonder! After I posted early today how dismal he's been this season, he delivers the big hits in Matt Cain's complete game vic over the Nats, 3-1.

He had been 9 for 55 prior to today's game

Cain struck out 11. It was the 13th complete game of his career. What a stud.

Seeking someone besides Whiteside and Stewart

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Stuck with Aaron Rowand

The Giants are stuck with the $12 million man. So, it was a joyous moment when Rowand his his 2nd homer of the year last night to give the Gmen their first run, but the guy's just been awful most of the time. He got hot early in the season and has been dining out on that since (he batted .294 in April, .198 in May and .143 in June). Hard to believe that, with runs so badly needed, that Rowand started in left while Cody Ross and Pat the Bat sat. As I said, I was delighted to get the homer last night but it means that -- for a while longer -- we're stuck with a guy who shouldn't be starting getting starts. I hope Bochy stops giving him all these at bats.

Here's how Grant at McCovey Chronicles puts it -- Since Aaron Rowand went 2-for-5 on April 17th, he’s hit .191/.254/.296 with six walks and 36 strikeouts in 115 at-bats he is not a starter. He’s barely a bench player, and I’m getting to the point where I’ll trade his bi-weekly power display for Darren Ford’s speed on the bench. That’s insane. Rowand for Chone Figgins -- who hangs up first?

Hurry back, Panda!

"A first-class organization"

Joe Panik starts his career as a Giants first-round pick by giving a solid interview.Here's from the story on the Giants site --
"The Giants are a first-class organization," Panik said. "To be their first pick, I'm excited beyond belief. You dream about this as a kid, and finally hearing Bud Selig call your name is truly an honor." The 6-foot-1, 193-pound Panik said he hopes to sign quickly with the Giants.

Milestone night for the Orange and Black

Monday, June 06, 2011

The lucky 13th

This pitching staff is something else. Man, what a night. The Franchise puts the Gmen in a 4-0 hole as of the 4th inning, then it's lights out for the next 9 innings. Freddy Sanchez comes through with the walkoff single -- the eighth walkoff win of the year.

This is the stat that most impresses me -- the Giants are now 7-3 in extras. That's some serious pitching power in the pen.

What about the othe Barry?

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Gwen Knapp = hypocrite

Of all the blathering nonsense defending Scott Cousins, perhaps the most offensive comes from the SF Chron's Gwen Knapp who insists that Cousins was just "doing his job" in delivering a potentially career-ending cheap shot to the Giants franchise player.

She's an utter hypocrite and a practioner of pretzel logic. Knapp spent years on the Barry Bonds Hate Train, writing insight-free columns that bashed Bonds again and again for suspected steroid use and for not being charming to reporters. So it's OK in Gwen's fevered mind to go out and deliberately injure someone but to use a performance enhancer -- even though it wasn't illegal at the time -- is an egregious crime that merits her scorn and the collusive blackballing of Bonds by MLB.

Knapp is also flat out inaccurate as a poster named Papi Chulo points out -- the problem with the Cousins trampling Posey is that Posey WAS NOT BLOCKING the plate.if he had been then by all means go ahead and try to dislodge the ball.the fact Posey was in front of the plate and there was a clear path for Cousins to get home is what makes the collision filthy.PLUS Cousins had to change his direction to INITIATE the contact.

Not a fluke any more

It looks like Ryan Vogelsong has moved out of the realm of fluke. He just won his 4th game going 8 innings, giving up 4 hits, one earned run and striking out seven. Remember, this guy hadn't even pitched in the MLB since 2006.

Sounds like Dave Righetti deserves some serious props as pitching coach.

Get a load of Zito's numbers since he became a Giant.

A glimpse into the future of Scott Cousins

Not in the MLB, says the blog Where Have You Gone Joe. He posted Friday an analysis of Brian Sabean's outburst on KNBR... Here's his conclusion:

What Sabean and Bochy and Matheny said is true "Insider" stuff. Guys who've been far more successful at their jobs than Cousins or his lackey agent or the tools at ESPN/Disney, or Logan Morrison, or former players who find it necessary to use incidents like this to advance their own agendas.

In any event, Cousins will be gone by the time the Giants get to Miami in August, so this is all just so much posturing. He's a marginal player. Baseball is tough enough without having to circle your finite number of wagons around a nimrod busher, and despite the public posing, Cousins will be slipped out the back door when nobody's looking, long before the Giants hit town the second weekend in August..

And that will be that.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Welcome back Conor Gillaspie!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Feeling the heat from Cody Ross

Some players really do go hot and cold. Ron Cey of the Dodgers is one who sticks out for me. He'd look pathetic for a week or two with that goofy body, then just absolutely hammer the ball for awhile.

Grant at McCovey Chronicles has a solid postgame post that notes just how streaky a player Cody Ross is. Fortunately, tonight he provided enough offense for Matt Cain to rack up a vic. Here's the relevant part of the post --

All year, it's been Tejada this, Tejada that. Huff grumblings, and is that Rowand? Grrrr. Meanwhile, Ross has been puttering along, not being very good. He could still field, and he wasn't as wretched as the other guys, so he was mostly left alone. But Ross is the streakiest player I've watched since Randy Winn. Maybe hot and cold streaks don't exist; or, more accurately, maybe they do exist, but it's impossible for anyone to really figure out what's a streak and what's a random sample. But danged if Ross isn't an exception to that idea, and right now, he's streakin' like Jimmy Montello in "Bare Ambition".

Too true, say I. Ross has now gone 10-for-20 in the last five games with 5 RBIs, following an 0-for-14 spell.

As for Randy Winn, Grant is probably thinking of six years ago. Get a load of his stats once he joined the Gmen in August, 2005. In 231 ABs, he had 83 hits, 22 doubles, 14 HRs, 26 RBIs, a .359 batting average and a .680 slugging average. It was by far the hottest stretch of his career. One game that exemplified this came on Sept. 16 when he went 4-for-4 including a lead-off HR in the first, followed by Barry Bonds' first homer of the year, No. 704. Todd Linden, of all people, drove in the winning run in the 9th off Duaner Sanchez to give the Giants a 5-4 vic over the Dodgers.

Aubrey's super sample size for June

Scott Willis at Crazy Crabbers has a nice post about Huff's performance --

Huff's pace for the month, 56 home runs, 56 runs, 98 RBIs. I think that would end up being pretty good.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Huff Huff Huff

Sabean tells it like is

Guess who took BP yesterday?

Peephole took this nice shot of Sandoval in April, 2010

The official Giants site reports he hit some HRs in BP in his 75 pain-free swings Tuesday in St. Louis. He's supposed to start playing in the minors on Friday.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Nate makes the case for himself

Are you listening, Joe?

Bruce Bochy comes down hard on deranged dingbat Scott Cousins and says he's going to give Joe Torre, who was a pretty good catcher, a piece of his mind about changing the rules -- so that psychos like Cousins receive a real punishment, more than the scorn of bloggers like Giants Win. It's yet another area in which Bud "Do Nothing" Selig has abbrogated his responsibility. Here's part of Henry Schulman's post on the Chron site:

Bochy said he cannot understand why football has rules to protect the quarterback and baseball has rules to protect second baseman, but the catcher is fair game.

He would like to see a rule that prohibits a runner from hitting a catcher on the fair side of the third-base line, as Scott Cousins did with Posey. Bochy does not just want the runner to be out, but punished by the league as well.

"I compare it almost to a fair catch in football," Bochy said. "The guy is defenseless."