Monday, February 28, 2011
Belt aleady belting
Sunday, February 27, 2011
RIP Duke Snider
Hard to believe that three Hall of Fame centerfielders -- Mays, Mantle and Snider -- were in their primes during the 1950s for the three New York teams. Snider was revered in Brooklyn and lost one of the closest MVP races ever in 1955 to teammate Roy Campanella.
You can count yourself as a true Giants fan if you remember that Duke spent his last year (1964) in the Orange and Black as a teammate to Mays. He got into 91 games and had less than 200 plate appearances with 4 homers and 17 RBIs.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
The 300 Win club and Tim
Fergie Jenkins (who got to 284) says it's a long shot --“Randy Johnson may be the last,” Jenkins said of the lanky lefty who reached the magic circle while pitching for the San Francisco Giants in 2009. “Because of the situation of not having run production and the age factor, unless somebody really comes along and puts a lot of 20-win seasons together, Randy could be it. You have to put up some big numbers.”
In case you're wondering, Tim Lincecum is 26 and already has 56 wins.
He's averaged 16 wins a year for his three full seasons, so if he did that for another 15 years, he'd have 240 more around 2025 at the age of 41. Keep in mind that Randy Johnson was 45 when he got to 300. The argument is that with the limits on pitch counts, it's less likely than it used to be. But it's not impossible. If Tim can stay uninjured, he's certainly got a shot.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Selig tells McCourt to go to hell
Giants 7, Diamondbacks 6
Feliz in Royal blue
He was a maddening player for the Giants because of his extremely low onbase percentage and lousy strike zone judgment. But that defense was pretty good, it turns out. He ranks in the top third (13 of 37) of the PMR range measure over 2060-10, according to this Baseball Musings post. (Do not ask me to explain PMR).
He also had pretty decent power and had a very likable personality. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy -- as is Pablo Sandoval, who's much further down the PMR list. That's one reason why Sandoval's 38-pound weight loss is such a positive -- it's likely that his defense will get better.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
The pain of Zito, season 5
There was some speculation that Madison Bumgarner would be sent to Fresno in April to stay fresh but I'm sure that the front office won't be surprised if Zito gets hammered early and often.
Rose says the Giants can repeat
Pete Rose, in an interview by Dan Brown at the San Jose Mercury News, believes that the Giants can repeat. He also says they'll miss Uribe and Renteria --
“They have pitching,’’ he said on the phone from Los Angeles. “And when you have pitching, you’re always going to be competitive. That’s just the nature of the beast.”
He also says they'll miss Uribe and Renteria --
"It’s just like a Super Bowl or an NBA championship. It seems like when a team wins, it’s usually a result of a lot of guys having great years,’’ he said. “So now all of a sudden, this guy leaves to go here or this guy leaves to go there and they just change teams because of more money. I think that’s the problem with repeating. The Reds had no such disruptions during their back to back titles. They had the exact same regulars in 1975 and ’76: catcher Johnny Bench, first baseman Tony Perez, second baseman Joe Morgan, shortstop Dave Concepcion, third baseman Rose, left fielder George Foster, center fielder Cesar Geronimo and right fielder Ken Griffey.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Keeping Buster fresh
This is a very sensible notion. Johnny Bench, the greatest catcher I ever saw, had to retire at age 35 because he was so banged up.
Here's part of John's post -- Last year Posey played all but 7 of the 114 games the team played after he was called up. During the run to the title, he was behind the plate for the last 35 consecutive games, and 45 of the last 46.
In fact, after he was called up, Bochy penciled his name in the lineup for 17 consecutive games, 17 games in 18 days, to be precise. Of course, he started out red-hot, but what no one seemed to notice was his plummeting production as the kid went from being coddled to ridden like the only horse in the corral. After 13 games, his OPS was a scorching 1.074. Exhausted and obviously worn down, Posey then went 7 for his next 45, all singles, as his OPS dropped all the way down to .693.
That kind of heedless management cannot continue if the team is going to protect his –and their– future with the budding superstar. His playing time must be monitored carefully, not haphazardly. Sabean and Bochy should already have looked at the schedule and decided when he was going to be give days off. Anytime a day off can give him multiple days off, he should be rested on that day.
Homer time in Scottsdale
They hit a total of 162 last year.
They hit a total of 122 in 2009.
They hit a total of 94 in 2008. It was the lowest HR total in 13 years.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Velez already acting like a Dodger
Monday, February 21, 2011
Home opener -- April 8
A terrific shot by cbowns
Yes, time to mark your calendars. The home opener is seven weeks away against the Cards.
Wild Thing returns
I don't want to seem prudish about this but Sheen has had problems staying sober -- to put it mildly -- so it's not exactly welcome news, particularly since the story broke on the TMZ site.
Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News offers a recap that seems aimed at reassuring worrywarts like me: Producers are planning to revive the movie franchise and Wilson said that Sheen, who portrayed inmate-turned-closer Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn, wanted to get a modern take on what life is like in the ninth inning.
"They could've asked any other closer, but Rick Vaughn asked for me," Wilson said. "When Rick Vaughn picks up the bullpen phone, you answer."
Wilson asked for and received permission from manager Bruce Bochy before making the quick trip. Although Sheen probably isn't the world's greatest influence, Giants officials had no concerns that Wilson would engage in any wild behavior.
"He got all his work in," Bochy said.
Wilson said the alcohol-free meeting was a professional setting; it also included former players Todd Zeile, Lenny Dykstra and Eddie Murray.
"I was honored," Wilson
Rowand's strange role in the Orange and Black
It’s where Rowand prefers to play and where he’s most comfortable, Bochy said. (Hard to believe, but Rowand hasn’t played an inning at a corner spot since 2004.) It’s a bit surprising that Rowand won’t be asked to roam around, given that Andres Torres is the center fielder on this team. But that’s what they’re going to do.
So here you have a guy with what's acknowledged to be a terrible contract and a guy who performed so poorly last year that he was replaced by a career minor leaguer -- who wound up being a key to the Giants' getting to the postseason. Torres probably came back too soon after getting his appendix out, but that's how tight the race was .... and how lousy Rowand was.
In any case, how is it that Rowand can't learn to play right field or left field, especially when he's being paid $12 million a year? Here's a shocking fact -- Rowand's 2010 value in WAR (wins Above Replacement) was measured at -0.1. And in case you're wondering, Torres had a 2010 WAR of 4.5, second among batter's to Huff's 4.5.
Here's what I don't get -- part of the reason why the Giants signed Rowand in the first place is that he was supposedly such a wonderful clubhouse influence, particularly with the Giants decided not to re-sign Bonds. It pains me to think that if the Giants had told Bud Selig to go to hell and signed Bonds for 2008 and 2009, they might have won a World Series in 2009, too. How is it that Rowand, if he's such a "gamer" and "great teammate," can't help the team out by learning to play another position?
I admit that I am presuming that this is coming for Rowand, but it's hard to believe that Bochy and Sabean have suddenly decided "No, we can't play Rowand in left or right." This is a front office that places a high value on guys (Uribe, DeRosa, Velez, Fontenot, Frandsen) who can play multiple positions.
Baggarly notes that Rowand hasn't played anywhere but center for the last six years and adds this --There’s already speculation that Schierholtz or Rowand will be traded this spring. I don’t have to tell you that Rowand, still due $24 million over the next two years, will be tougher to move.
MY SNARKY COMMENT -- "tougher to move" is an under-statement, especially if he's insisting that he can only play center field.
Lawrence in the Orange and Black
More dingbattery from Bruce Jenkins
The Giants won the World Series and managed to do it with a grand total of six complete games during the regular season. But that's not enough for Dingbat Bruce -- Complete games have been on the rise over the past two years in the major leagues, and look for that trend to continue. People are starting to realize - dreadfully late, in many cases - that if you limit someone to 100 pitches, then that's what you get: a pitcher all too prepared to leave the game in the seventh inning. Next thing you know, you're taking away innings from your best pitchers and handing them to middle relievers who, in many cases, were lucky just to make the roster.
EARTH TO BRUCE -- Have you ever heard of a guy named Mark Prior? A sterling young talent who was going over 200 innings at age 22, thanks to Dusty Baker's desire to pitch him til his arm fell off. He's been out of the bigs since 2006. Is that you want?
Bruce wrote a particularly insight-free column whining about the need to limit pitchers' workloads two years ago --using Sandy Koufax as an example of how pitchers used to rack up many more innings than they do currently. That's just flat out stupid, given that Koufax was forced to retire prematurely at age 30 DUE TO ARM PROBLEMS. It's jaw-dropping how dumb this column was, seeing that it didn't even mention that fact. How does this guy keep his job?
One of the reasons why the Giants won the World Series is because of a DEEP DEEP bullpen. But it's clear that Bruce Jenkins won't be satisfied until the entire Giants rotation is on the DL.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
"Now I can swing hard"
Sandoval didn't blow off a single session -- two of them per day, six days a week. Nor did he stray too far from a regimented diet that consisted of six prepared meals a day. The carbs and portion sizes gradually decreased.
Sandoval "was miserable early," said Banning, but he lost 10 pounds in his first week. The results fueled his willpower.
Sandoval couldn't do three pull-ups in early November. Now he does sets of 10. His legs shook when he tried to squat 135 pounds. Now he is squatting 400. The first day, Sandoval struggled to complete two reps of an exercise called the inverted row. He maxed out at 26 last week.
His flexibility and range of motion vastly increased, too. Sandoval, a switch-hitter, complained of constant hip pain last season, and now acknowledges that the problems wrecked his right-handed swing. (He hit .379 from the right side in '09 but just .227 last season.)
"It was bad, my hips," Sandoval said. "I (couldn't) even get through to the ball. Now I can swing hard. Now I get loose and nothing is sore."
Sandoval received chiropractic alignments and deep-tissue rubs -- what Banning called "hurt-you" massages -- to correct the dysfunction in his hips. Three months ago, he couldn't touch his fingertips to his toes. Now he palms the floor.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
"We'll win in five games"
This is Feb. 18, 2010, pitchers and catchers report, and I say, "We have it covered we'll win in five games." Throughout the season, I'm like, "Don't worry, it's five games, guys. Just remember." We get to the postseason: "Whoever wants to jump on the bandwagon. you're welcome. The more the merrier." ....We get to Game 5 of the World Series, Tim's starting. I say: "You know what it is? It's Game 5 and I'm pretty sure we win this." Very fitting it came to me. I'm thinking, "I cannot let them down" I told that to [first baseman Aubrey] Huff. I told it to [outfielder Pat Burrell]. I think I told that to [catcher] Bengie [Molina, whom the Giants traded to the Rangers at midseason]. I wonder if he was thinking about it on the other side.
Bonds judge suggests mediation
"As I've said since day one, I believe we're going to trial," he said.
And we're ready for you, Miguel
Friday, February 18, 2011
"The greatest baseball book ever written"
But then I came across a pretty good article about Jim Brosnan by the Baseball Biography Project. With the passing of time, it's become acknowledged that Brosnan's writing about the sport was about as good as it gets. (The quote in headline of this post is from Jimmy Cannon).
By 1961, I was a devoted reader of Sports Illiustrated, which would occasionally run Brosnan's articles, including one where he went on about how badly he wanted to beat the Dodgers, which the Reds managed to do. After the Reds got beaten four games to one in the Series, he wrote another piece -- "Embarrassing, Wasn't It?" -- “There are three monuments in center field,” he wrote of his first look at Yankee Stadium, “and plenty of room for more future self-exaltation if such is necessary to prove the greater glory of the Yankees.”
Thursday, February 17, 2011
The cheerleader wants to play
He's three years removed from a fine season with the Cubs, when he had 21 HRS, 87 RBIs and a .375 OBP.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
"I had too much going through my head"
This is the guy who went 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA in 37 post-season innings, including 2-0 in the World Series.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Pitchers and catchers report (along with 4 others)
I'm always impressed when guys show up early -- five days early in this case. Here's what Pat the Bat had to say -- "The reality is, last year's over," Burrell said. "It's a mindset. What do we have to do to get back to where we were? Well, it starts now. It's going to be harder than it was. We have a target on us and everyone's gunning for us because teams want to beat the best. And that's how it should be. We need to be ready for the challenge."
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Mount Shasta included on trophy tour
According to Wikipedia, the city had 3,000 residents in the 2000 census.
RIP Gino Cimoli
He was good enough to stick around for 10 seasons and even made the All-Star team in 1957 -- the year that the fans voted five Reds onto the NL starting team. Here was the starting lineup, with Mays and Aaron named by the commissioner instead of Gus Bell and Wally Post. Stan Musial was the only non-Red voted into the lineup.
1 Johnny Temple Reds 2B
2 Hank Aaron Braves RF
3 Stan Musial Cardinals 1B
4 Willie Mays Giants CF
5 Ed Bailey Reds C
6 Frank Robinson Reds LF
7 Don Hoak Reds 3B
8 Roy McMillan Reds SS
9 Curt Simmons Phillies P
The Cincinnati Enquirer had printed up pre-marked ballots and distributed them with the Sunday newspaper to make it easy for Reds fans to vote often. There were even stories of bars in Cincinnati not serving alcohol to customers until they filled out a ballot.
The NL lost 6-5 and Cimoli struck out in his only All-Star at bat.
"I feel as good as I ever have"
Bumgarner says he started throwing on New Year's Day.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Get em while they're hot -- Giants tickets, that is
It's been relatively easy to get tickets to home games in recent years at below fact value, either from the scalpers/sellers outside the park or online. That was the one compensation of four straight losing seasons between 2005 and 2008. I think those days are over. Anyhow, here's part of Brown's verbiage -- Longtime fans, meanwhile, must cope with the fleet of newbies who arrived on bandwagons last October. Asked how life will be different at the ballpark this year, one Giants official quipped: "Get your tickets early."
Season-ticket prices rose about 7 percent and fans are unfazed. Slaughter said the Giants had 21,000 season-ticket holders last season and that this year there are 25,000 -- with two months to go before opening day.
Individual game sales have spiked as well. A year ago at this time, the Giants had sold about 60,000 individual game tickets. By Friday, the figure was at 150,000.
More than anything, FanFest demonstrated the population explosion in Giants Nation. As recently as a few years ago, team officials wondered whether the event could attract 5,000 fans. This year, there were more 40,000 on hand and countless others were turned away. The event started at 11 a.m.; by 11:05, team officials sent word that fans not already on site shouldn't bother coming -- the stadium was full.
The onrush came on the heels of a World Series victory parade in November that drew a nearly 1 million fans. "We were completely humbled by that," said Slaughter, the Giants executive. "I think that's when we realized, 'Wow. This is more than just a game. This is about an emotional, personal connection between this city and this organization.'
Cain to win 20?
Friday, February 11, 2011
Feds drop six of 11 counts on Bonds
Lester Munson at ESPN has a long column posted today saying that he thinks 1. this case will still go to trial and 2. that Bonds will win. He even believes that the evidence may be so weak that the judge will simply throw the case out once the prosecutors have concluded their case (boldface is mine) --
At that point, Bonds' legal team will ask Judge Illston to rule that the evidence is so weak and so scant that the jury should not even be permitted to consider Bonds' guilt or innocence. It is a legal procedure known as a "motion for a directed verdict." It is usually a perfunctory procedure of no significance. In most cases, the judge routinely rules that the prosecutors have presented enough evidence to send the case to the jury for a decision. But in the Bonds perjury trial, this procedure will be a critical turning point. The government's evidence might or might not meet the standard required to send the case to the jury. Judge Illston, who has issued several rulings against the prosecutors already, could easily decide to end the case without any presentation from the defense or consideration by the jury. It would be a major triumph for Bonds and his lawyers and a pathetic end to the eight years of the BALCO investigation.
What a waste of taxpayer dollars at a time when government resources are being stretched to the breaking point.
Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle (which has been derelict in their coverage, never apologizing for its previous reporters on the case behaving egregiously) has a long story about the case in today's paper.Here's an interesting passage --
It wasn't clear why prosecutors had trimmed the indictment, although several of the dropped counts refer to events in 2001 and 2002, when Bonds allegedly tested positive for steroids - tests that are inadmissible because of Anderson's refusal to testify.
In case you're wondering why I'm fulminating about the Chronicle reporters (Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada), feel free to click through to my 2007 post titled "The SF Chronicle's reputation in tatters"
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Edgar Gonzalez in the Orange and Black
Let's hope that Mark DeRosa is recovered enough to fill this role. He's in the second year of a $12 million deal that hasn't worked out so far, to say the least.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
"Still The Underdogs"
“Cheaper Than Football”
“Now With More Trophies”
“Still The Underdogs”“Pitching, Defense, And Drama”
“Pop Flies and Garlic Fries”“San Francisco…. Yes, There’s A Team Here”
“West Coast Bias”“We Don’t Want To Belong”
Dessens in the Orange and Black
Spanish-language web site Puro Beisbol is reporting that the Giants have signed Elmer Dessens and will invite him to camp. He's 40 and pitched for 10 MLB teams. The Giants have posted the story to their official site.
He's pitched in 441 games.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
"Be proud, be loud, but be humble"
Monday, February 07, 2011
Offseason reading recommendations
I cannot recommend "A False Spring" more highly. Some of the other great baseball books (at least for me) are the two Jim Brosnan books "The Long Season" and "Pennant Race," Lawrence Ritter's "The Glory of Their Times," Eliot Asinof's "Eight Men Out" and Robert Whiting's "The Chrysanthemum and the Bat."
Less of Sandoval = more offense
The Bonds news is potentially important since Sandoval's plate judgment went out the window last year for long stretches. He's a truly gifted hitter if he squares up, as we saw in 2009, when he finished 7th in MVP voting --
Andres Torres = most dedicated Giant
Torres says he works out five or six days a week in the offseason, a minimum of five hours per day. That's a combination of workouts, including weight training, sprint training and baseball work.
He said he took one week off following the World Series before jumping into serious training.
"I'm in the best shape of my life," Torres told me Friday. "I'm faster and stronger than I've ever been. ... Last year I was in shape, but not like this year."
Sunday, February 06, 2011
"Apologize to Barry Bonds"
A confluence of factors led to Bonds being made the poster-child for the sport's "steroid era." Chiefly, he was an easy scapegoat for MLB and for the writers since he was not at all a fan favorite outside of San Francisco. Fans' intense hatred of Bonds (fueled by the writers) blinded them from MLB's incompetence.
Bonds has not played since 2007, but still has not officially retired. Prior to the '08 season, Bonds was trying to find a team -- any team -- interested in him; no one bit. His age, injury history and contract demands were cited as deterrents, but he said he would be willing to play for the league minimum and had just come off a season in which he posted a 1.045 OPS in 477 plate appearances at the age of 43.
Jamie Moyer is 48 years old and just had Tommy John surgery. Over the past two seasons, he has posted ERAs of 4.94 and 4.84, yet is eyeing a comeback. You can bet there will be some interested teams waiting for Moyer when he is once again healthy.
Whether MLB and the owners care to admit it or not, they colluded against Bonds to keep him from playing baseball after the '07 season. That, not the rampant steroid use during the 1990s and early 2000s, will be what ultimately leaves a black eye on baseball's history.
(for those of you wondering, the Crashburn Alley site is a Phillies blog and a reference to Richie Ashburn's "Ashburn Alley.") It's now part of Citizens Bank Park.
Christian in the Orange and Black
Saturday, February 05, 2011
"San Francisco deserves this"
Friday, February 04, 2011
Sticking with Bruce and Brian
John Schlegel of mlb.com has the story about extensions for both into 2012. This verbiage caught my eye -- Bochy, 55, became the sixth manager to guide at least two NL franchises to World Series appearances, and he became the fourth skipper to win a title at the helm of the Giants, joining John McGraw (1905, 1921-22), Bill Terry (1933) and Leo Durocher (1954). His 16 consecutive years as a manager, including 12 with the Padres, rank second only to Tony La Russa's 32 years.
Here we go again
Of course, there's nothing like winning World Series to make your head swell, so now we are treated to yet another proclamation by Brian Sabean that Brandon Belt will start the season in Triple A, according to Chris Haft at mlb.com. Here we have a world-class pitching staff and a very ordinary offense that could be helped measurably by Belt. What's so hard to figure out here?
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
The Orange and Black regression?
...or it could just be a natural regression after career years. And some teams got BETTER. Here's what he devotes to the Orange and Black -- The Giants played 15 postseason games, a total of 135 innings. Ace Tim Lincecum threw 37 innings in the postseason, raising his season total to 249 1/3, a career high and 22 1/3 more innings than he had ever thrown in a season. Matt Cain pitched 21 1/3 innings in the playoffs, raising his total to 244 2/3, 27 more than he had ever thrown. Jonathan Sanchez threw 20 innings in the postseason, raising his total for the season to 213 1/3, 50 more than he had ever thrown. Madison Bumgarner pitched 20 2/3 innings in the playoffs, raising his total (major and minor leagues) to 214 1/3, 72 more than he had ever thrown in a season. And closer Brian Wilson appeared in 10 games in the postseason, totaling 80 for the season, 12 more than his career high.
Sweet Lou joins the Orange and Black
Lou managed over 3,500 games during 23 years.
He also won Rookie of the Year in 1969, the first year of the KC Royals. He went 23-for-72 in four World Series.
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
A Giants banner over Chavez Latrine
Banking on Banks?
He's 28 and hasn't impressed at the MLB yet. He started 14 games for the Padres back in 2008, when the team went 63-99, and went 3-6.