Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hasta la vista, Jeremy and Ramon?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hating the Dodgers and discourtesy

I deplore discourtesy and rudeness, yet my ingrained hatred of the Dodgers provoked me several times in the past to refer to Jonathan Broxton -- the occasionally dominant closer -- as Fat Broxton. I may have done this to other players but I know I did it on multiple occasions with Broxton.

Well, he's no longer a Dodger so I won't be calling him Fat anymore. Who knows how he might have done had he not been so overweight? He was pretty banged up and only pitched 12 innings this year with a plus 5.00 ERA but the KC Royals have taken a gamble on him with a 1-year $4 million deal. The 6-4-2 Blog points out that he's been awful since a meltdown game in June 2010 against the Yanks when he could not close at Chavez Latrine (there I go again hating on the dodgers) with a 6-2 lead.The Yanks tied in the 9th and won in the 10th on a Cano HR. Ah, sweet memories!

More of the same Orange and Black

Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean were extended through 2013 with a club option for 2014.

I suppose this means more great pitching and more lousy hitting for the time being. That's what happens when you win a World Series that way.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Maybe I should write longer posts

Longtime readers of this blog know that I am a fan of David Pinto's Baseball Musings site. He's an astute judge of what's important and writes very well. Occasionally, he'll refer to this blog -- such as over the weekend when he referenced my call to Fire Hensley Meulens. I didn't go into detail as to WHY, other than saying the team was terrible last year on offense and that Meulens had been bailed out in 2010 by career years by Torres and Huff plus strong playoff performances by Ross, Uribe and Renteria. I also took a somewhat gratuitous shot at Meulens by pointing out that he was a pretty terrible MLB player.

In response, David said that I should blame Brian Sabean for assembling last year's team and that with Posey back and Sandoval mashing, things may be better. That's a fair assertion. Still, we are going to have to agree to disagree as to Hensley Meulens. I say he should have been shown the door, much as Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada were. As I said in the headline, I probably should have explained myself more thoroughly, so here goes.

The Giants offense was particularly awful because very few of the hitters had any patience. It's one thing when you're Sandoval and can square up damn near any pitch. It's quite another when you're Miguel Tejada or Aaron Rowand and flat out refuse to work a walk -- setting a crappy example for the young guys on the team. How bad was it? Really bad:

-- the Giants were 29th in runs scored at 570
-- The Giants were 24th in walks at 448
-- the Giants were 29th in number of pitches seen at 22,835
-- the Giants were 29th in onbase percentage at .303

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a team that's hacking A LOT at bad pitches. And I would maintain that a batting coach DOES bear part of the blame -- particularly when an even marginal increase in offense would have gotten the Giants into the postseason. Anyone who watched the Giants play last year knows that the team had a hardcore propensity for swinging at pitches out of the strike zone. Here are the top walkers last year --

-- Ross, 49
-- Huff, 47
-- Torres, 42
-- Burrell, 33
-- Sandoval, 32
-- Fontenot, 25
-- Crawford, 23
-- Belt, 20
-- Whiteside, 18
-- Posey, 18
-- Stewart, 16

In case you've read this far, Cody Ross is tied for 86th in MLB; Tejada took 12 walks; Rowand took 10.

So perhaps Hensley Meulens was doing his level best with a bunch of free swingers. But these team's offensive numbers are flat out pathetic. I'm going to assert that another hitting coach -- particularly one who would say over and over and over "Stop swinging at pitches out of the strike zone, dammit, or you're not going to play!" -- would have delivered a better offense.

Belt = 30 for 100

A morsel of tasty post-Thanksgiving news -- Brandon Belt has done pretty well in the Dominican winter league and shown some consistency, according to the Giants Scout site.

Unless the Giants sign Carlos Beltran, my guess is that Belt will be an Opening Day starter for the second year in a row.

This was the lineup on March 31 in a 2-1 loss to Kershaw at Chavez Latrine -- a game that pretty much set the dominant tone for the rest of the season...

Torres CF
Sanchez 2B
Huff RF
Posey C
Burrell LF
Tejada SS
Belt 1B
Sandoval 3B
Lincecum P

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fire Hensley Meulens now

Adios, Cody?

The Giants didn't offer arbitration to Ross or Pat the Bat. Had Ross played a full season, he would have been signed again, I believe.

It looks like the Giants may have a starting outfield under 30 for a change -- Belt, Cabrera and Schierholtz.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm very thankful for my wife, friends, good health and to all you who take the time to read my posts -- and I hope it's worth your while -- and to the San Francisco Giants, who give me so much enjoyment.

Let's go, Giants!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Call the Waaambulance

One of the worst sportswriters to walk the planet -- Bill Plaschke of the LA Times -- is complaining about Ryan Braun winning the MVP over Kemp. What a no-talent hack he is. Cry me a river, Bill.

Here's the really annoying thing -- Plaschke, in a hackezoidal tone of sincere outrage, makes all the super-obvious points that Kemp had a better statistical season but that the writers decided that the Brewers getting to the NLCS carried enough weight to pick Braun. He even cites WAR. Then he kills any momentum that his argument would have by admitting that Kirk Gibson deserved the MVP in 1988 despite his statistical shortcomings (76 RBIs). It turns out that Gibson's WAR was the best in the league by a miniscule amount over Brett Buter (who finished 19th), Strawberry and Orel Hershiser.

Give me a break, Bill. Give me a goddam break, you dingbat. Why would I say such a snarky thing? Because he's contending that Gibson deserved the MVP because of non-statistical contributions.

What this brings back is the annoying and stupid sportswriter contention that they somehow can divine the intangibles like what an awesome "clubhouse guy" Gibson was. I despise sportswriters who insist that they "know" something that fans can't see. Hey Bill -- you're not as smart as you think you are. Let me enlighten you, you dingbat.

Plaschke insists that Kemp deserves the award because the Dear Old Dodger Franchise was having a tough year, what with the McCourts and "apathy." Excuse me? That has to be flimsiest of flimsy arguments. The team won 82 games and didn't contend -- so what the writers are saying is, "We think there's more value from a guy who played MEANINGFUL games all year."

So why bring up this "he saved the franchise" nonsense? The column is so poorly written is that we can only speculate. All I can guess is that this is yet another example of Dodger supporters feeling like they're somehow entitled to win every pennant because of some kind of moral superiority that the team has -- despite the eternal embarrassments of screwing over Brooklyn and Chavez Ravine, the rampant steroid abuse by Manny and Gagne and LoDuca, trading away the most popular player (Mike Piazza), the beating of Bryan Stow, two of the worst owners in memory (McCourt and Fox) and the obsession by the fans with batting beachballs in the stands.

As for players getting jobbed -- get a load of the 1962 results, when Maury Wills won the MVP even though he wasn't even the best player on his own team. Willie Mays had a 10.6 WAR, followed by F Robby, Aaron, Bob Purkey and Tommy Davis before we come to Wills with a pathetic (for an MVP) WAR of 6.1.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kemp loses MVP

Well, I do live in LA so it's been a real big laugh just now to see that Ryan Braun won the MVP over Matt Kemp. I was convinced that Kemp would win -- probably due to the worshipful tone of the local coverage here plus the 8-year $160 million deal he just signed. Plus he actually had a slightly better season with a WAR of 10.0, compared to 7.7 for Braun. Still, anything -- ANYTHING -- that goes against the Dodgers is a good thing. Pablo Sandoval finished 17th.

I suppose that making the playoffs makes a difference; it sure did in the AL MVP race.

I still am a bit bitter over Maury Wills winning the 1962 MVP over Willie Mays.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hembree in the Orange and Black?

Whenever one thinks about the future of Giants baseball, we have to start with the awfulness of the $36 million that Giants will waste on Barry Zito in 2012 and 2013 and the $12 that Aaron Rowand will get paid in 2012. That, ladies and gentlemen, limits what the Giants can do elsewhere.

I haven't been paying attention at all, but there soon could be another Heath who's closing. It seems like Brian Wilson has been closing forever, but Chris Haft of seems to think that Heath Hembree is the closer in waiting, as the Giants would have to pay Wilson big bucks next year at arbitration:

Right-hander Heath Hembree generated plenty of excitement last season by amassing 38 saves and 78 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings at high Class A San Jose and Double-A Richmond. By this time next year, the Giants might need a replacement for Brian Wilson, whose eligibility for salary arbitration will make him extremely expensive and thus difficult to squeeze within the payroll. Hembree, who turns 23 on Jan. 13, could be San Francisco's next closer.

Grant at McCovey Chronicles thinks that making Wilson a long-term deal is a huge mistake at this point. After a stellar 2010, he was occasionally quite lousy in 2011, leading Grant to declare that such a signing is the Number One Fear of the Offseason. (My number one fear is that the Giants will do something really stupid like trade Brandon Belt for someone like Rafael Furcal). In any case, Grant believes that Wilson will begin to cost huge bucks in 2012 and beyond...and that Heath Hembree is likely to be the next closer --

On a team with payroll constrictions, though, he can't possibly be a part of the future. If the Giants want to be quasi-frugal, if they want to hit a certain number when it comes to year-to-year profits, they've forfeited their right to a luxury closer. Committing to Wilson for almost $10 million a season for several seasons would be a miserable allocation of money. Even if you assume that Wilson will be effective despite his declining velocity and horrific walk rate last year -- a huge assumption -- the Giants still can't afford a luxury closer. Luxury closers are for teams that can afford luxuries. The Giants can't afford a real shortstop.

Part of me thinks that the Giants are of a similar mind, and that they'll be looking really closely at how Heath Hembree's season goes. Committing a baleful of cash to a closer, even one who is as marketable as Wilson, is never a great idea, and the Giants have been burned by Benitez and Robb Nen in the recent past.

The curse of Charlie Finley

Charlie Finley continues to muck things up for the Giants, even though he's been dead for 15 years.

I've never cared for the Oakland A's very much. I've always been a Giants fan. Charlie Finley moved from KC to Oakland in 1968 despite there being limited evidence that Oakland would support a baseball team. So when the A's moved to Oakland, it hurt the Giants attendance to the point that the team nearly moved to Toronto in 1975.

When the A's won three straight World Series in 1972-74, they barely drew a million. Then the A's managed to get whipped by the Dodgers in 1988, then pounded the Giants into submission in 1989, then folded up like a card table against the Reds in 1990.

Just as under the Charlie Finley regime, the current ownership of the Oakland A's has decided to run the team on the cheap. Fans are less likely to show up to the crappy Colisseum. The current owners have been whining about needing to move to San Jose for years even though the Giants have the territorial rights.

Now that the Giants have figured out how to draw fans -- by building a fine stadium to replace the Stick -- Bud Selig is trying to strongarm the Giants into giving up those rights. If Bud's in favor of it, I'm against it.

Billy Beane has apparently gotten fed up by the tightwad Oakland owners, if Peter Gammons is to be believed. Gammons said Beane may take the Dodger GM job if the Oakland A's aren't allowed to move to San Jose.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Crawford's murky outlook

It's really a bit depressing that the Giants just can't seem to develop position players who can hit at the MLB level. And it's no wonder the Giants wanted to find a shortstop who can hit, even to the point of offering Willie Bloomquist a pretty decent deal.

Chris Haft of has a story on the Giants official web site summing up Brandon Crawford's performance in the fall league. He did fine against righties but doesn't have much hope against lefties. He hit .344 (21-for-61) against right-handed pitchers and .130 (3-for-23) off left-handers. Reading it is not exactly guaranteed to resolve any of the doubts you may have surrounding the Giants 2012 offense.

One option has gone away -- It looks like the Pirates are going to sign Clint Barmes for a 2-year $11 million deal, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

As for Brandon, the Giants did give him 220 plate appearances. He showed at least a little plate discipline with 23 walks, though I'd bet that a lot of those were when he was in the 8th slot.

I'm not quite sure what the obvious alternative to Crawford is -- sign Mike Fontenot (who's not going to get any better at 31, cost $1.1 million in 2011 and had a 0.8 WAR in 252 PAs)? sign Jimmy Rollins? They reporters who cover the Giants aren't indicating that Rollins is a probability. It would seem that the Giants may be doomed to having another season with crappy production from shortstop.

On a somewhat related note, Trevor Cole at Giants Baseball Blog believes that the best option for the Giants is to sign Carlos Beltran to a two-year deal.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Angel in the Orange and Black

What a strange saga this has been -- and here the portagonist is only 21.

I never thought this was going to happen after the legal problems but Angel Villalona has managed to resolve the difficulties and is on the 40-man roster after reaching a settlement over his lawsuit against the team. The Giants are out $2.1 million after signing Angel at the age of 16. He's so young that it's still hard to say how this will play out though the self-righteous will tsk-tsk about this.

Andrew Baggarly of the Merc-News provides details, along with disclosing the other guys selected for the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft along with DFAs for Darren Ford and Waldis Joachim for the second time. OF Roger Kieschnick, 2B Charlie Culberson, RHP Dan Otero, RHP Hector Correa are the others along with OF Tyler Graham. Baggarly see Graham as the only surprise. He's a real hustle guy. Here's an excerpt from a piece Baggarly wrote for Baseball America -- Tyler Graham stole 60 bases for Triple-A Fresno — 16 more than anyone else in the Pacific Coast League.

And yet he probably saw the red light more than any player on Manager Steve Decker’s roster.

“I had to red-light him most of the time, actually,” said Decker, whose club stole a league-high 209 bases. “He was so aggressive, he’d be flashing me the green light pretty much every time. I’d have to say, `No, Tyler, we’re down by three.’ But that’s his personality. He plays so hard.”

Friday, November 18, 2011

The murky return of Freddy Sanchez

Damn, he was magic in 2010. Grant at McCovey Chronicles warns us not to expect much other than another injury-dominated season like last year. Anything else is gravy.

Grant notes that the Giants have mounted a rather odd propaganda campaign in the offseason --

Buster and Freddy are coming back. Buster and Freddy are coming back. Buster and Freddy are coming back. The former is coming back from a serious leg injury. The latter is Freddy Sanchez. He's pretty okay! When he's healthy! Which is rarely!

It's easy to joke about a player's fragility and say that he has dried seaweed for hamstrings, or something like that. But are the Giants forgetting how Sanchez's shoulder exploded? He dove for a ball. He didn't even do it awkwardly.


His shoulder didn't catch as he rolled, and he didn't leap six feet into the air and land on his shoulder. He did a very normal baseball thing, and his shoulder exploded. That's kind of a red flag.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Signing the Orange and Black aces

Chris Haft has a long post on the Giants web site about the efforts by the front office to sign Lincecum and Cain to multi-year deals.

In other news, the MLB will expand the playoffs next year -- a move to placate the crybaby ownerships of the Yanks and Bosox -- and the Astros will move to the AL West in 2013. I like the latter move as it removes the advantage that the four AL West teams have had.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

And now for an opposing point of view...

The excellent Where Have You Gone Joe blog has a long post expressing strong reservations about the Jonathan Sanchez deal. Key factor is just how poorly Brian Sabean has done in free agent acquistions of centerfielders -- Steve Finley, Dave Roberts and Aaron Rowand being the prime examples. I would add Tsyoshi Shinjo to the list.

In any case, the reason why the Jonathan Sanchez trade seems so hard to take for so many Giants fans is very simple -- it means more, not less, of Barry Zito. In other words, the utter uncertainty of a Sanchez start was still a far, far better option than the "we give up" feel of a Zito outing. Here's how Where Have You Gone Joe puts it --

Jonathan Sanchez, his 95 mph fastball his 9 strikeouts per nine innings, and knack for breaking hitters down, in spite of his capacity to load the bases on 2 walks and a HBP, still having the ability to pitch out of trouble will be replaced in the starting rotation by none other than the only free-agent signing worse than Aaron Rowands -- $126 Million bust-out, pie throwing, Barry Zito. He of the 83 mph fastball, 9 runs per nine innings, no ability to get out of trouble and singularly talented to almost guarantee a loss every time he starts a game, all while displaying an absence of mound presence, confidence, and command, but offset to an extent by the curious ability to lift his leg while standing on a MLB pitching mound in bicycle pants.

As Skipper Bruce said: “I’m not gonna hide from it. Barry Zito is our fifth starter next year.”" A vote of confidence

At least the Giant fans have only two more seasons after five years of having the biggest laughingstock in the history of major league pitchers on the roster.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Revisiting THE TRADE

I've been wondering about the Melky Cabrera-Jonathan Sanchez trade for a few days and have come to the conclusion that it was the right thing to do. He was flat out lousy most of the year. His best game was in late April when the Giants beat the Rox, 6-3, to go 10-7 for the year, as Jonathan pitched into the 7th and gave up 2 earned runs on two hits, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts.

Here's the last game that Sanchez won as a Giant on June 2 to lift his record to 4-3 -- he pitched into the sixth but couldn't get out the inning against the Cards after giving up 4 runs, three hits, six walks and striking out ONE. The Giants won 12-7 as Aubrey Huff 3 homers, or one quarter of what he'd hit all year. Sanchez would lose 4 more decisions before he got shut down after a particularly dispiriting 9-2 loss to the Buccos.

Here's most of what Paulie at Give Em Some Stankeye had to say --

-- I don't hate this trade, and at the risk of appearing either contrarian or outright dimwitted, especially in the eyes of fellow Giants fans, I actually kind of like the deal. I'm not in love with Melky Cabrera, and I wish, as do we all, that the Giants could have received a better player for our friend Dirty, but I don't think the team got shafted at all. One thing this morning's deal has done though, is put me in the totally unexpected and alien position of actually defending Brian Sabean.

Let's take a step back for a moment and try to assess Jonathan Sanchez's actual trade value. Some people see a relatively young strikeout artist and solid number three starter coming off of a subpar, injury-plagued year. Perhaps his poor performance was caused by his injury, and he is primed for a comeback this season. Me? I see a totally inconsistent, 29-year-old walk machine with exactly one truly good season on his resume and who now has an injury history.

I've always been concerned about Sanchez's ongoing battles with the evil base-on-balls monster but last season the walks just became untenable. Sanchez had always walked a lot of batters, but not an ungodly amount, and he'd always been able to get away with the wildness by being stingy with giving up hits. In 2011, though, his BB/9 rate shot up to a horrific 5.9. Unless your name is Nolan Ryan, you just can't survive that way. Sanchez's problem with walks meant that he was utterly incapable of working deep into games (just two of his nineteen starts lasted seven innings!). This created a huge burden for the bullpen and made Sanchez's starts just unwatchable in general.

If you look at the history of pitchers who last a long time in the league, you'll see that generally their control improves as the years pass. The aforementioned Nolan Ryan is just one example. Sanchez, again, saw his walk rate skyrocket, and with his general history of bad control, that's a horrible sign (the elevated walk rates were evident before his injury, before you go playing that card). Even his strikeout rate dropped a little, and now he's coming off of an arm injury and due to make somewhere around $6 million in 2012. Opposing front offices, even bad ones, aren't exactly chomping at the bit to trade for a pitcher like this, so why in the world do people still think Sanchez could bring an All-Star or anything even close back in a trade?

There's an old axiom, coined by Branch Rickey (supposedly), that it's better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late. I believe this is what's going on here and I give Brian Sabean credit because I think he sees what I do. I've given up all hope that Sanchez will ever reign in his control problems and I think he's done being an effective pitcher. Call me reactionary if you want, but 2010 is looking like the fluke, not aught eleven. The incredible spike in his walk total, the injury, and the fact that pitchers at his age generally don't magically discover the strike zone all combine to scare the hell out of me. I think the walks and high pitch counts and early exits are going to cause too much wear on his arm, and I think, unfortunately, that it's all downhill from here for Sanchez.

Cabrera is out-of-shape and is, by all metrics, an atrocious center fielder. His surprisingly good season with the bat could have also been a total fluke. It's absolutely possible that I could look like a complete blithering idiot in a year as Melky is DFA'd in July and Sanchez wins the AL Cy Young. Hell, I've looked like an idiot before, believe you me.

I think the opposite is true here, though. I think Sanchez has very little left in his arm and I think the Giants just got decent value for him now because they wouldn't have gotten anything for him after this season. Pitchers with his extreme command issues don't last long, and now that he's an injury risk, I think it was fair to bid adieu. Count me as maybe the only soul on the Internet who has this opinion, but I think that, in the end, the Giants are going to come away winners in this deal, and it won't be close.

Matt Cain = Mr. Quality Start

The Giants web site has posted a pretty good story by Chris Haft of that details why Matt Cain was one of the top pitchers in baseball this year.He had the most quality starts in the NL this year...

Opponents hit .217 off Cain, the league's third-lowest figure. Among the top Cy Young contenders, only Kershaw, who led the NL with a .207 figure, was more efficient.

Cain outperformed all of the NL's Cy Young candidates in preventing the long ball. He yielded nine home runs, fewest in the Majors among pitchers who worked at least 200 innings. His per-nine-inning average of 0.37 homers allowed ranked second among NL pitchers behind Pittsburgh's Charlie Morton (0.31).

Many experts deride the value of a "quality start," since the criteria (three or fewer earned runs allowed in at least six innings) don't define pitching excellence. Nevertheless, Cain's 26 quality starts topped the NL, ranked third in the Majors and reflected the consistency he maintained.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reggie Smith in the Orange and Black?

You can count yourself as a real Giants fan if you remember that Reggie Smith played a year as a Giant in 1982. He was pretty good player throughout his career, mostly with the Bosox, Dodgers and Cards. This card is from the Nite Owl blog with Reggie listed as a member of "I'm Bad Ass and You're Not club" along with Jeffrey Leonard, Gorman Thomas and Johnny Bench and a few others.

Reggie finished 4th in MVP voting in 1977 and 1978. I was at a game in Chavez Latrine on August 10, 1978, when Reggie hit a monstrous homer in the first off Vida Blue -- it hit the top of the back wall in the leftfield bullpen, at lest 30 feet up.

No Reyes in the Orange and Black

No way that it's happening, says Chris Haft of in his mailbag column posted on the official Giants web site. He also says that more deals are coming --

Giants management surely realizes that Cabrera isn't the cure-all for the club's ailing offense. Count on Sabean making another acquisition or two before Spring Training begins. During the 2009-10 offseason, for example, he followed the signing of Mark DeRosa by retaining Juan Uribe and Bengie Molina and adding Aubrey Huff. This year, Sabean made moves designed to improve the offense before (Jeff Keppinger) and after (Orlando Cabrera) trading for Beltran. These clusters of deals indicate that the Giants won't stop with Melky Cabrera. As for pursuing Reyes, it's just not going to happen. Yes, Giants fans deserve to be rewarded for their faith with the best possible ballclub. But signing Reyes to a five-year, $100 million deal simply doesn't fit the Giants' economic structure right now.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Already waiting for next season to start

This just seems like the right shot to post on a cold Saturday in the middle of November. A fine photo by Rod Begbie, taken during 2008 season.

I couldn't help myself -- What a lousy team that was! It went 72-90. The Giants hit 94 homers all year, becoming the first team since the 1995 Phils not to go over 100. The top WAR numbers:

Lincecum -- 6.9
Cain -- 4.0
Winn -- 3.7
Molina -- 1.6
Lewis -- 1.5
Sandoval -- 0.9 (in a mere 154 plate appearances)
Durham -- 0.8

Kevin Correia had the highest negative WAR at -1.4, barely beating Brad Hennessey at -1.3.

I guess it's a reminder why so many fans like me thought three years ago that Brian Sabean was a failure as a GM -- particularly given the resources that he has. I must point out that the 2008 Giants, as lousy as they were, did manage to score 640 runs. That's SEVENTY more than the 2011 Giants.

Barmes in the Orange and Black?

Ah, yes. We're deep into the offseason where far smarter sites than this one do a fine job of offering up wisdom (Since X happened, it's likely that Y may come to pass). One of the key issues for the Giants front office has been what the hell to do about shortstop since Brandon Crawford didn't exactly burn up the MLB after his first-game grand slam.

Anyhow, the recent signings of Jamie Carroll and Willie Bloomquist provoked Chris Quick at Bay City Ball to explore whether Clint Barmes is the solution.

Andrew Baggarly of the Merc-News tweeted three days ago that the Giants were interested in Barmes. I've been so slammed with my real job that I didn't notice until today when I began wondering why there was so much discussion about a guy best known (by me) for having had one of the strangest injuries ever -- breaking his collarbone while carrying a bag of venison. He had a 2.9 WAR last year, the best of his career and far higher than any other Giants position player other than Sandoval (Nate and Cody both had 1.6 WARs). But he's also going to be 33. Here's a tidbit -- he went 0 for 14 in the NLDS in 2009 against the Phils.

Chris believes that the Giants are not going to sign Jimmy Rollins or Jose Reyes. He thinks Barmes is now the best available SS:

There’s a good chance that the Giants were never “in” on Carroll, but that doesn’t change the fact the the infield market is really starting to get thin. If the Giants decide to go into 2012 with Brandon Crawford as their starting shortstop, I can’t help but wonder if it’s based on a huge leap of faith, an awesome internal evaluation, or the cold hard truth that the team is being cheap. Like most things, it’s probably a combination of all three, but short was a big problem in 2011 and it’s looking like it has the potential to be sore spot next season.

Man, Clint Barmes is really starting to look good right about now.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hasta la vista, Pat the Bat?

Panik in the Orange and Black?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Yankees didn't like Jonathan Sanchez

At least, that's what the New York Daily News is blogging. The Yanks are desperate for pitching so I'd say this shows how far the reputation of Jonathan Sanchez has declined.

He just couldn't get the ball over the plate this year. And it felt like he bugged much more than the other starters by the lack of run support. By the time he made his last start, he had become pretty damn lousy -- capped by a 9-2 buttkick on August 10 at home by the Pirates, for heavens sake. The loss left the Gmen half a game out first. That left him with a 4-7 record. I'm not sure that he pitched after that due to an ankle injury. Scouts for other teams must have realized that Sanchez was going to be available for trade. By August 27, Eric Surkamp was starting despite the fact that he's a marginal MLB pitcher.
Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Merc-News had a long post about Sanchez on Monday (bondface is mine):

If you listened to GM Brian Sabean’s comments carefully today, he said he began shopping Sanchez immediately after the season ended. He lamented that Sanchez’s inability (or unwillingness) to pitch again after spraining his ankle in August “probably dampened other opportunities.”

In other words, the Giants long ago determined that they didn’t want Sanchez back at his $5-6 million price point for next season. When you trade a guy you no longer want, that isn’t breaking up the rotation. That’s using your resources.

Sure, it’s a bit scary to think of Barry Zito or Eric Surkamp as the No.5 starter behind Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong. But I do think the Giants will find another pitcher or two, at least to provide competition in the spring.

Who knows? Maybe the Giants discover that Roy Oswalt really, really wants to spend a season in San Francisco. When you play half your games at AT&T Park, it’s always easier to attract a veteran starter looking to get a short-term bounce into a better position to make money a year from now. (Even a few weeks can do the trick, in Brad Penny’s case.)

Anyway, Sanchez’s time with the Giants had passed. He’ll be 29 soon and he remained as frustrating as ever with his lackadaisical attitude and high walks totals. I know he received a lecture from coaches in July after telling me he felt “unappreciated here” and that he didn’t expect to come off the disabled list till September.

Sure, Sanchez’s strikeout rate and OBA remain among the best in baseball. The statistical set love his FIP. But ask his fielders if they’re impressed with his FIP while they’re standing around as he walks hitters on a cold night.

Numbers by themselves don’t win games, and if you watched Sanchez pitch, he didn’t always compete so well. When he was struggling earlier in the season, he was asked about possibly getting skipped in the rotation. Hs response? “I’m the No.2 starter. I don’t feel any pressure about it.”

When I asked him last spring about leading the NL in walks, and whether he felt motivated to cut down the free passes — a softball question if ever one existed — Sanchez surprised reporters by saying no, he was fine pitching the way he’s pitched in the past.

“If I walk two guys and get a ground-ball double play, hey, the inning is over,” he said.

Sanchez’s attitude was understandable in one respect: He pitched away from contact because he had to. With a continual lack of run support, he simply couldn’t afford to give in. And in a few very important games, he didn’t. When the Giants needed Sanchez to step up in Game 162 a year ago, he faced down the same Padres team who frustrated him all season. Yep, he walked six batters. But he beared down and pitched the Giants to a division-clinching victory over Mat Latos. He made his own brash prediction come through.

It’s a reminder that Sanchez’s best moments as a Giant weren’t merely good. They were historic. You could argue that his no-hitter in 2009 — the first by a Giant in 35 years — was the first glint of hope that brought them out of nearly four seasons of darkness.

But he went the other direction in 2011. He needed a change of scenery as much as the Giants needed a hitter. If he hasn’t put it together by now, under Dave Righetti’s constant tutelage, it’s not a very good bet that he’ll be a better pitcher in 2012. And with his salary only going up and up, that bet involves putting a lot more chips in the middle — chips better saved for Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum.

Sanchez remains an interesting upside play for a team like the Royals, who are starved for pitching. They have top prospect Lorenzo Cain to plug into center, and they probably weren’t going to re-sign Cabrera beyond this season. So it’s a trade of players who, because of the time and place, had become imperfect fits. It’s a trade that could help both teams.

One thing is for sure: Whenever Sanchez finds himself back at AT&T Park again, the applause will be strong and sustained. And deservedly so.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

And now for some awesome Giants news

Very simply, it's Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reporting that Pablo Sandoval is already training for next year. It sounds like he understands how valuable it was to come into last season in good shape.

How good was Sandoval? Try the 7th best in the National League, as measured by Wins Above Replacement --

1.Kemp (LAD)10.0
2.Braun (MIL)7.7
3.Kershaw (LAD)7.6
4.Lee (PHI)7.4
5.Halladay (PHI)7.3
6.Votto (CIN)6.5
7.Sandoval (SFG)6.1
8.Tulowitzki (COL)5.8

Reyes (NYM)5.8
10.Stanton (FLA)5.7

This is going to be an interesting off-season, particularly now that the Bosox are targeting Carlos Beltran, according to Sports Illustrated.

John Shea of the Chronicle has a column that points out that the trade for Melky means that the Giants may have finally stopped committing to guys on the fade.

Monday, November 07, 2011

A vote for the other Orange and Black starters

Nothing shows confidence in the 4 starting pitchers -- Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong -- than trading away Jonathan Sanchez. Those four may not be quite as good as the Phillies four but they're better than anyone else's.

The Giants have a pretty good record of developing pitchers and it seems that they've finally reached the conclusion that Sanchez is never going to figure it out. He's the guy who seemed to have more headcase issues than the rest of the starters put together. Lefty Malo is OK with the trade, which is a good sign.

Sanchez drove us all a little nuts, as he was so damn inconsistent. John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters dislikes the trade -- contending that Sanchez is one of the better pitchers out there while Melky is fairly ordinary.

I'm a bit more hopeful, in that Melky's only 26 and just put up a pretty good year.

Eric, one of the commenters at OBM had a pretty good take -- Maybe I’m wrong and Sanchez turns out to be great, but if he isn’t showing some modicum of consistency by 28, time is not on his side to suddenly start throwing strikes more often.

Melky to the Orange and Black

Aaron Rowand's 5th Giants season... not happening. Man, that felt good to write!

The very useful Giants Nirvana site has been doing stellar work in covering the Giants site. A big Giants Win hat tip is in order -- particularly for this outstanding recap of Rowand's putrid 2011 season. Here are the highlights --

--Few players in franchise history have put together a greater showing of futility than Aaron Rowand in 2011 — and during his tenure as a whole, for that matter. In 2010, Rowand had hit .230/.281/.378, effectively losing his starting job — and setting an extremely low bar of performance standards. Yet somehow Rowand managed to put up even worse numbers this season: .233/.274/.347, a .270 weighted on-base average, and a BB/K ratio (0.12) of historically bad proportions.

Despite his constant struggles at the plate, Rowand had the sixth-most plate appearances on the team (351). And despite his utter inability to reach base (the man drew nine(!) unintentional walks this season), he led off for the Giants 46 times. I kid you not: fourty-six times.

I’m both thrilled and relieved to never have to see Rowand don a San Francisco Giants uniform ever again. His tenure as a Giant was increasingly disastrous, and he’s without doubt one of the worst free agent signings in franchise history.

He’ll be making $12MM next year to not play for the Giants.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Nate the Great?

I'm hoping so, given the front office's inability to find quality free agents. He's 27 and pretty great at playing D in right field. I'm betting that Sabean may gamble that Nate's ready to step up rather go for the fading veteran.

One of the few positive developments on offense this year -- other than Pablo Sandoval -- was the occasional strong performance by Nate Schierholtz. One of the better games of the year for Orange and Black came on July 6 when he hit 2 homers, including a walkoff in the 14th. I had the good fortune to be at that game and it did feel like the Giants had a pretty good shot at making the postseason.

When Nate went down with an injury late in the season, it was one of the final nails in the coffin.

Julian Levine at Giants Nirvana has a good recap of Nate's season.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Way to go, Flan!

He's holding a benefit concert for Bryan Stow on Wednesday.

They don't get much hipper than a third base coach who sang the Anthem with Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. Link

Thursday, November 03, 2011

RIP Matty Alou

The man who started the 9th inning rally in Game 7 of the 1962 World Series is gone. He was a damn good player.

Matty will always have a place in the hearts of Giants fans. He also started the epic 4-run rally in the 9th of the final playoff game in 1962 with a single.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Dingbat McCourt to sell Dodgers

All I really want to happen is for the Dodgers to go 0-162 every year. With Frank McCourt draining the team's cash, that possibility was increased.

I won't believe it until it actually happens, but the LA Times is reporting that Dingbat Frank McCourt -- who has exposed the Dodgers for the true fraud that they are as he drained the cash from the coffers -- will sell the team.

This is a guy who was such a bad owner that he made Walter O'Malley and Fox -- who both have done plenty of evil between them -- look good by comparison. McCourt had the benefit of Paul De Podesta's work in the front office to get to the postseason; fortunately, the Dodgers have now been without a World Series title for 23 years. Dodger fans are still stuck with having to revel in the 1988 team and Orel Hershiser's career year to remember what it feels like to win a World Series.

Let's hope that the new owner decides to make sure that the insane criminals who think it's OK to beat someone to death are not welcome at Chavez Latrine. Good luck with that.

Not that I'm bitter or anything. Hey Dodger fans -- no matter who owns them, the Dodgers are losers.

And don't bother trying to post comments if you're a Dodger fan. I'm not going to post them -- and I get to decide if your comment gets posted. If you don't like it, then get out of here.

A year ago today

You know what happened. Take a look at one of the most beautiful box scores ever. Buster Posey had two hits that night and guided Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson to shut down the Rangers, except for a Nelson Cruz homer.

Tom Singer of updates Buster Posey's progress. It sounds promising but who knows if he'll ever be the same player again.

Most people who know me think I'm not a bad guy. I don't hold grudges. That said, I mean this sincerely -- Go to hell, Scott Cousins. Go to hell. You don't know how to play and you haven't got the guts to admit that you were wrong. Maybe if you had apologized or at least stopped whining, I'd forgive you. Until you do, you're on my hate list. The ball's in your court, loser.

As for you, Bud Selig -- how about pushing for a rule change? What kind of idiot would let one of your best players have his career potentially ended by some dingbat who can't play -- in the name of "tradition"? What kind of stupid tradition is that? Oh, I know. It's the same kind of logic that canceled the 1994 World Series. Hope you run into Scott Cousins in hell, Bud. Then you both can sit and watch the May 25, 2011, collision over and over again.

Not that I'm bitter or anything. Go Giants!