Monday, October 31, 2011

Hasta la vista, Tony La Russa

He retired today at the age of 67. He was playing for the KC Athletics in 1963 as an 18-year-old and was a pinch runner in the game that Early Wynn won for his last and 300th victory.

He was a terrible player but has now won three World Series. He's particularly credited for being willing to use a bullpen as extensively as possible, which has had a profound influence in team construction. He managed like a dingbat in Game 5 of the World Series but the Cards came up big in Game 6 and 7 -- and Tony didn't screw up again. Of course, it helps to have guys like David Freese, Lance Berkman and Chris Carpenter in your lineup...and it helps to get hot in September.

He also was arrested for DUI in 2007 but he's also a strong supporter of rescued animals.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lopez back in the Orange and Black

Buster busting his hump to get ready for 2012





Remember this guy? Fine photo of Buster Posey from 2010 by SD Dirk






In the wake of having to watch the World Series get won by a team that the Giants played pretty well this year, here's some decent news -- Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle reports that Posey's now running wind sprints in Arizona.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pitchers and catchers report in 112 days...

...for all major league teams and the Dodgers

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nice going, dingbat Frank!

Giants still World Series champs, thanks to epic game

Oh my. That was a pretty great game. If I were a kid on the East Coast, I would have stayed up to watch. David Freese, Allan Craig, Lance Berkman, Josh Hamilton, John Jay, Nelson Cruz, Mike Napoli....giving it everything they have. They put the focus back on the players rather than on the managers.

I have to wonder if the Rangers are still a bit spooked by losing last year's World Series -- particularly that oh-so-unexpected 3-run homer by Edgar in Game 5. As I've said before, one of the great things about the 2010 World Series was that it was by far the easiest of the three postseason series last year for the Orange and Black.

By the way -- this will be the first Game 7 since the Giants and Angels in 2002. I still haven't gotten over that one but I'm getting there. Thanks, Edgar!!!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cody back in the Orange and Black?

He hit 22 HRs in 2008 and 24 in 2009 but Julian Levine at Giants Nirvana doesn't think Cody will be back in SF next year.

I think he's right. Cody was magical in the 2010 postseason but he's a pretty ordinary player, except for 2008 when he put a 3.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement). He was a 1.6 this season.

Essentially, signing Ross would be a bet that he can revert to the form he showed three and four years ago as a Marlin. He's told the SF Chron's Henry Schulman he'd like to come back. Smart dude. With that kind of pitching, there's always a shot at another World Series title.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why I like Bruce Bochy

Because he's not a showboating dingbat like Tony La Russa, that's why. Also, because he kept his cool when it counted last year. He orders too many stolen base attempts but I doubt he would have bungled Game 5 the way La Russa did last night.

Let's compare and contrast, shall we? In game 5 of last year's World Series, Bochy made a mininum of moves -- two. He had Huff sacrifice with two on in the 7th and no one out; he brought in Brian Wilson to pitch the 9th. That was it.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports savages La Russa in a long column, noting at the start that La Russa is basically too chicken to own up to his mistakes --

He couldn’t do it. The Genius couldn’t take ownership of the fiasco he oversaw. Of all the places to manage the single worst inning of a career with 50,000 of them, Tony La Russa chose the eighth inning of the fifth game of a dead-even World Series. And as the fallout of his meltdown pervaded a St. Louis Cardinals club still mortified at what had transpired, he chalked it up to three screw-ups, as if the gods had decided to conspire against him.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rollins in the Orange and Black?

Merry Christmas, Rangers

Tony La Russa has gift-wrapped the World Series to the Rangers. Why am I bringing this up? This is, after all, a Giants blog. So let me say that I never saw Bruce Bochy come anywhere close to the deranged stylings of La Russa tonight. In fact, one could argue that Bochy's managing during September and October 2010 -- particularly Game 6 of the NLCS -- helped get the Giants into the world championship.

Orel Hershiser could barely contain himself on the radio tonight as the supposed genius Tony La Russa mismanaged the Cards into a World Series loss. Orel was understandably stunned as La Russa did his level best to give away outs -- trying to have an obviously gassed Alan Craig easily thrown out stealing in the 7th and 9th. The idea is to have a hit and run, I guess.

"It was a mix up and that's all I'm going to say," La Russa said afterward. "It didn't work."

Here he has Craig running in the 9th with the best hitter in baseball, Albert Pujols, at the plate with a 2-run deficit. What kind of hit-and-run worshipping idiot does that? You don't need to get Craig to third. You need baserunners. Of course, La Russa thinks he's smarter than everyone else.

La Russa has also just said he wanted Jason Motte to pitch in the 8th but that it was too loud to properly communicate. That's just lame, particularly considering that the bases were loaded with one out and the red hot Mike Napoli was at bat.

The MLB Network guys are now trying to say that Pujols put on the hit and run himself in the 7th, though Pujols won't admit it. I think he's trying to protect his idiot manager.

David Schoenfield of ESPN blogs extensively about just how badly La Russa managed, paticularly on the pitching side.

Of course, the St. Louis media worship La Russa, who was also stupid enough to rack up a DUI in 2007. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Bernie Miklasz attacked the critics of LaRussa, concluding with a thundering put-down of anyone with the temerity to say anything negative about the incident, calling them "sanctimonious haters." Here's the last 3 grafs of this stomach-turning nonsense --

So you'll have to excuse me if I don't sign off on the opinion that La Russa is being handed a get-out-of-jail-free card because he's a baseball celeb. If La Russa were a sales manager or restaurant manager instead of a baseball manager, his arrest would have received no public scrutiny outside a small circle of family and friends. But La Russa's error in judgment became headlines, a lead TV story, fresh chum for sports-talk radio, and an increase in page views for Internet bloggers. A good but imperfect man made a mistake, and this stain of red wine will stick to La Russa's reputation for a long time. He's received a life sentence of insults and scorn.And so I ask the sanctimonious haters: Isn't that enough punishment for you?

Here's what I posted four years ago -- For anyone who's read this far and wants to know what all the fuss is about, I direct you to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving web site at www.madd.org. Here's one item from the site --

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2005, 16,885 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes - an average of one almost every half-hour. These deaths constituted approximately 39 percent of the 43,443 total traffic fatalities.

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Desperate times at Chavez Latrine

The Dodgers are doing a fire sale of their season tickets after attendance fell by more than 17 percent, the LA Times reports.

The tickets have been seriously over-priced as the McCourts drained the team of cash in recent years -- and then had such crappy security that thugs felt they had the run of the place -- which may or may not have contributed to the Stow tragedy.

Frank and Jamie -- what a pair!

Unfortunately, the Dodgers have managed to develop some outstanding players in Kemp and Kershaw. Despite the best efforts of dingbat LA Times columnist TJ Simers to run Kemp out of town, he appears to enjoy being a Dodger.

At least Eugenio Velez did his part to make the Dodgers lousy this season.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A few more days as World Series champs

Fans of the Giants were big winners tonight as the Rangers dominated with a 4-0 skunking of the Cards so the World Series will last until Wednesday at least. The Rangers have now doubled the number of wins they got last year.

If the Giants make it back next year, it's going to have a lot to do with Pablo Sandoval. Julian Levine at Splashing Pumpkins has a fine (thought lengthy) recap.

Pujols = the new HR king?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Meulens back?

Chris Haft, the mlb.com reporter on the Giants, thinks so. He points to the strong performance by the Giants offense in the second half of 2010. I still believe that Hensley should be blamed for the crappiness of the offense in 2011 -- particularly in the refusal to take pitches outside the strike zone -- but Chris says he'll be back and should not be blamed.

It's difficult to believe how hard it was for the Giants to score this year -- given how the Cards and Rangers were slugging in the World Series game tonight. Geez, there are guys out there who can really hit. How come so few of them (other than Sandoval) were in the Orange and Black this season?

Scott Cousins plays the victim card

The Associated Press has done a worthless article about what a groovy guy Scott Cousins is and how he's suffered for the vilification he received for attempting to maim Buster Posey. He never apologizes for the despicable act of deciding to injure another player and acts as if he's actually the real victim. He refuses to admit that he was wrong. He won't admit that just because he could get away with trying to end a player's career, that it's not OK to do so. And make no mistake -- that's what he was trying to do. And the AP never asks the question of "why haven't you apologized?"

As a Giants fan, I am somewhat mystified as to why the SF Chronicle decided to post this clueless article on their web site. I guess it's because the Chron editors believe that Giants fans aren't already depressed enough. This is, of course, the same paper that couldn't restrain itself from telling us over and over and over and over again what an evil bastard Barry Bonds was, is and forever shall be.

I try to keep things fairly light and bright at Giants Win but I find myself unable to find anything uplifting about AP's pointless blather about Scott Cousins and how he is working out at USF and got good grades in school and is engaged to be married. Big deal. His future mother in law makes the assertion "He always takes the high road." Except when he doesn't, lady. Except when he doesn't. You just don't want to face the facts.

Those of you who read this blog know that I'm not a particular fan of Brian Sabean, who misjudges players because he overvalues past performance. Still, he had the guts to make my favorite roster moves of the season -- DFAing Rowand and Tejada on the same day. My other favorite Sabean move was his reaction to Cousins, making it clear that Cousins is a jerk who can't perform at the MLB level and doesn't belong in the big leagues. Sabean subsequently apologized but I believe that he truly meant what he said --

"If I never hear from Cousins again, or he doesn't play another day in the big leagues, I think we'll all be happy," Sabean said at the time. "He chose to be a hero, in my mind. If that's his flash of fame, that's as good as it's going to get, pal. We'll have a long memory."

Friday, October 21, 2011

What the hell happened, Aubrey?

I'd have to say that my fave moves by the Giants' front office this year were DFAing Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada on the same day. I'd strongly suggest that if Aubrey Huff doesn't show up in shape next year, he should also be DFAd. I'm sure that the front office kept figuring he was going to get better this year...and he never did.
Link
Huff was largely worthless this season despite being the third highest paid player on the Giants -- and the SF Chron reported on Sept. 30 that he'd been OUT OF SHAPE. Man, that annoys me!

Julian Levine at Splashing Pumpkins has an excellent recap --

His .676 OPS was the worst ever by a San Francisco Giants first baseman (min. 502 PAs), and it’s not even particularly close. All in all, he made a strong case for the National League’s least valuable player, and Tyler Kepner of the New York Times even named him such. It was an awful season, far worse than I’d have ever expected (in fact, I had him penciled in for a pretty respectable .280/.350/.460 this year).

His struggles came at quite a price, too: in addition to his integral role as a member of one of the worst-hitting teams in recent history, the organization’s handling of Huff created a poor environment for Brandon Belt’s development. Huff was penciled in the lineup on a daily basis, with Belt tossed aside as somewhat of an afterthought. Belt’s inconsistent playing time — as he was yo-yoed between the majors and the minors — most likely made it harder for him to work through his struggles at the major-league level, and it’s pretty easy to point at Huff, or rather, the way the organization handled Huff, as a major roadblock in Belt’s maturation.

The one positive aspect of Huff’s season that’s mostly overlooked is his solid defense at first base. FRAA, the defensive metric based on objective play-by-play data, had Huff at +7.1 runs above average, and he’s pretty good at scoops.

Nevertheless, his season was nothing more than a massive disappointment, and one of the major reasons the Giants missed out on the playoffs this year. It’s hard not to be frustrated with both Huff and the way he was handled this year, especially since news came out that he was out of shape this season.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A year ago today - SF 6, PHI 5

Ah, yes. Giants Win was fortunate enough to attend this one down by the rightfield foul pole.Here's my favorite sequence of the game in the bottom of the 6th with the good guys down 4-3...

Cody Ross walks, Pat the Bat doubles, Pablo Sandoval fouls one down the RF line by inches and then lines a long double to left center. In an instant, the game goes from 4-3 to 5-4. Truly an electrifying moment.

It was really the only decent moment of the postseason for the Panda, who had fallen into such disrepute that he was batting 7th and only got a total of 17 at bats in the three postseason series, including an 0-for3 in the World Series. These were his only postseason RBIs...and an overlooked contribution to the Game 4 vic. Truly clutch.

He only started one other game in the NLCS, getting a single during the 4-2 loss in Game 5. He went 1-6 in the NLDS.

I've always like Sandoval and was particularly impressed that he took all that weight off after the 2010 season. The man knows how to square up a ball and hit it HARD.






































Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Close only counts in hand grenades and horseshoes

OK, I didn't make that up that phrase but it's what I thought when I read Chris Haft's story for mlb.com, which dwells on Ian Kinsler's double off Matt Cain in game 2 of the World Series...and the fact that it didn't become a homer.

I have two words for Ian: too bad. You didn't hit it far enough, dude. So too bad. I know that you wish you'd won the World Series but you didn't. I also wish that I'd done a lunch with Michelle Pfeiffer and Julia Roberts but I didn't.

Here's a news flash -- the Giants won the game, 9-0, so Haft has written a pretty silly story, except that he does get several players to say that the Giants winning the series helped fire up the Rangers this year.

While I'm at it, I think the Cards are going to win the Series. The Rangers are the better team on paper but the Cards -- like the Giants last year -- have gotten hot at the right time. This David Freese guy is raking right now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A year ago tomorrow

Hey, Phillies fans -- guess what happened a year and a day ago? Matt Cain happened. Link
Matt dominated the touted Phils lineup with seven innings of rock-solid pitching -- two singles, three walks -- to give the Giants a 3-0 victory and a 2-1 lead in games in the NLCS. Matt pitched a total of 21 and a third innings in 3 games in the 2010 postseason and did not allow an earned run. He gave up 13 hits and 7 walks and struck out 13.

Because of the Eastern media bias, no one east of the Mississippi knows what a topline guy Cain is. They gush over the rotation of Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt and now Cliff Lee. But the Giants pitching was measurably better -- 22.6 to 17.6 in wins above replacement value -- and this game proved it.

We are fortunate to have such a fine player as Matt Cain in the Orange and Black. I looked up the recap on Raising (Matt) Cain, and here's part of the verbiage --

I was really impressed by his confidence and concentration. He seemed to be able to make the pitches he wanted to all day long, regardless of the count and situation, and the Phillie hitters never got anything going. Rollins was caught on the Fox broadcast's 'Sounds of the Game' talking to the 1st base coach about the deceptive movement in Cain's fastball, saying that even though it was "right over the plate" he couldn't pick it up. Bobby Valentine (on ESPN) was raving about Cain's change-up, saying he thinks it's a new pitch he developed late in the season. Whatever it was, it was part of a devastating repertoire that kept the hitters off balance. Matt got the first batter of every inning he pitched: Victorino, Howard, Ibanez, Polanco, Ruiz, Polanco, Rollins.

Monday, October 17, 2011

It was 20 (and 2) years ago today

photo by s__i

Yes, I was at the Stick on that fateful afternoon in 1989 when the Giants were finally back to play at home in the World Series for the first time in 27 years.

For all its faults, the Stick withstood the force of the Loma Prieta quake.

All hail the Stick! I love the new park but the Stick managed to stay upright on that strange day when many other structures crumbled.

Here's what I remember about Oct. 17, 1989:

-- it was a warm day, so that when the quake hit. Most people weren't in the usual bundled up mode for the Stick.

-- there weren't any cell phones

-- there was a massive cheer that went up after the shaking stopped. That was the damndest thing. I guess that people felt like, "Wow, that was some serious earthquake. And the Stick is still standing!"

-- I kept faintly (and foolishly) hoping that somehow the game would get played. But then the TV sets in the press section came back on near where I was seated with my sister in the upper deck and we could see the part of the Bay Bridge that had collapsed.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Who's to blame?

Now that the Cards are the official NL champs, it's time assess blame since the Giants could have repeated. So here are the culprits in order of culpability --

1. Scott Cousins, whose career escaped the anonymity it so richly deserved by his perverse desire to prove himself by trying to maim the other team's best player. Go to hell, Scott.

2. Barry Zito, for destroying payroll flexibility for five straight years and not having the good sense to do what Gil Meche did and retire once he realized that he could no longer compete at the MLB level.

3. Aaron Rowand, for destroying payroll flexibility for four straight years and for having the lack of class to whine about not getting playing time despite being the worst starting outfielder in MLB. Also for whining about not being to root for the Chicago Bears. Enjoy retirement, whiner.

4. Miguel Tejada, for not hustling. Go to hell, Miguel

4A. The mainstream press for whining endlessly about Barry Bonds. I'd respect sports reporters a lot more if they whined about Miguel Tejada

5. Brian Sabean, for signing Zito, Rowand and Tejada and not taking advantage of world-class pitching. Please retire, Brian.

6. Bruce Bochy, for giving so many ABs to Rowand and Tejada. I make this selection a bit half-heratedly and I forgive Bruce because of how he managed during the 2010 season, particularly during the September stretch and for Game 6 of the NLCS -- a truly masterful job.

Rangers looking good to go to WAR

As readers of this blog may know, I've become more and more interested in measuring teams by their WAR (wins above replacement) value. At this point, the Rangers are looking like a better team than the Cards or Brewers. The Rangers have a 29.0 WAR on offense with Kinsler, Napoli and Beltre all over 5.0 and a 21.0 in pitching, led by CJ Wilson at 5.0 and Matt Harrison at 4.0.

The Cards have a 30 WAR on offense and a 10.9 on pitching.

The Brewers are better balanced with a 24.4 WAR on offense and a 17.8 on pitching.

The Giants and the Rangers were more evenly matched last year with the Orange and Black having a an 18.0 WAR on offense -- nearly all of that from four guys: Aubrey Huff at 5.8, Torres at 4.6, Buster Posey at 3.1 and Pat the Bat at 3.0 -- and 22.6 WAR on pitching, with Cain at 4.6, Tim and Jonathan Sanchez at 3.6 each, Wilson at 3.3 and Bumgarner at 2.3.

Last year's Rangers were 21 WAR on offense (7.0 from Hamilton) and 18.6 WAR on pitching

How were the Giants this year? They declined in both areas -- offense was just 16 WAR and the pitching was 20 WAR. Sandoval delivered a 6.1 WAR, while Nate and Cody each came in at 1.6. Tim led the pitchers a 4.4, followed by Cain at 3.9, Vogelsong at 3.6, Bumgarner at 2.8 and Romo at 2.0

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Giants still World champs for another week


photo by godutchbaby



The World Series starts Wednesday and could be over on Sunday. I would not have thought that of the two teams that were in the 2010 World Series, the one to make it back would be the Rangers -- though it must help to play in a 4-team division.


Already waiting for next year



It's a nice day and I'm already looking forward to April. Photo by Oliver_Vincent

First home game is Friday the 13th against the Pirates. First road game is in Phoenix on April 6, followed by a series against the Rox

Extending Matt Cain

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"That should be us. No more excuses"

Lefty Malo analyzes the meaning of Theo Epstein's departure from the Boston Red Sox. He concludes that the ownership group of the Giants -- who were willing to tell Bill Neukom to take a hike -- might be willing to tell Brian Sabean the same:

Or, fresh from their inglorious ouster of Bill Neukom -- one minute he's Mr. Giants Way World Series Microsoft Smart Fella, and next he's an Intel 386 machine running Windows 95, so yesterday's lunch meat -- perhaps the Giants ownership is looking around for others to shit-can just to make a mark. And with the Texas Rangers on the doorstep of a World Series return -- what would you have said if someone asked you on Nov. 3, 2010 if the Giants or the Rangers were more likely to get back to the World Series in 2011? -- perhaps the new owners, fairly or not, are grinding their teeth at Sabean. That should be us. No more excuses.

Maybe it's the Moneyball movie, making everyone itchy for new ideas, new blood, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in a jockstrap. I'm not making any predictions, but let's just say that if the Giants stumble in 2012, I won't be shocked if Brian Sabean's tenure ends prematurely. And it won't necessarily be a good thing.

Cheap shots at A-Rod

And here I thought the Dodger fans acted over-entitled.

This should tell you all you need to know about the New York Post and its willingness to play to the over-entitled feelings that the Yankee fans have -- that they somehow deserve to always win. The paper decided to blast A-Rod, who had a lousy ALDS, by mocking his decision to go golfing...as if somehow the only thing to do would be to slash his wrists, I suppose.

What makes it especially gratuitous is that there's no mention of his injuries this year. It's also worth noting that the Yanks got a decent offensive contribution from A-Rod with a 2.7 WAR this year.

On the other hand, the Post may have something in that Joe Posnanski recently posted at length as to the worst contracts in MLB and concluded that A-Rod's (6 years left at $153 million!!!) was second worst only to Vernon Wells. Zito's deal (two years, $46 mil) is ranked as the 5th worst.
Link

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

That felt like an Orange and Black win

I'm referring to tonight's 4-3 vic by the Cards -- featuring four straight innings of lockdown relief by the Cardinal bullpen, 12 up and 12 down, by four relievers. Link
It's a bit like Game 1 of the NLCS last year -- a 4-3 vic by the Giants over the Phils. Everyone remembers the 2 homers by Cody Ross. Lincecum pitched into the 7th and held the Phils to 3; Lopez and Wilson closed them out. Lopez went one-two-three; Wilson hit a guy and struck out the other three.

Oddly enough, Ross was in the No. 8 slot and homered in his first two ABs. The other two runs came in the 6th when Buster Posey singled, Pat the Bat doubled and Uribe singled. Hard to believe it was less than a year ago on Oct. 16, 2010.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Buster's coming back

A year ago today

For some reason, Game 4's 3-2 victory in the NLDS last year doesn't get quite the recognition it deserves. To refresh your memories -- Cody Ross tied the game 1-1 with a solo HR in the 6th at Atlanta, then drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh to cap a two-run rally after a pickoff throw from Peter Moylan had let in a run. Brian McCann drove in both runs for the Braves. Melky Cabrera grounded out to Fontenot at third to end the game with two guys on. The Phillie and Ranger series followed but this was a tough tough series to get through. The Braves were a quality team.

The Giants had won 92 games and the Braves had won 91 to take the wild card. The Giants had won the first game 1-0, lost the second in 11 innings by 5-4 and then won the third by 3-2. Had the Braves gotten hot and gotten past the Giants, they could have easily beaten the Phils and Rangers.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Remembering No. 71

A Giants Win cap tip to Giants Nirvana for this link -- Chris Jaffe at Hardball Times remembers Barry Bonds' 71st homer 10 years ago. A fine post and here's some of the verbiage --

When he made the majors, Bonds’ goal was to be the first member of the 400/400 club with power and speed. He achieved it in late 1998, and no one really cared. Homers were the attention getting item. So Bonds shifted focus and became the home run machine. Up to that point, he’d topped 40 homers three times, with a career high of 46.

In 1999, he belted only 34 homers—but played a mere 102 games. The next year he went deep 49 times despite missing almost 20 games.

Then came 2001. The great lost stat on the season? All the attention on his 71 homers obscures that Bonds had only 49 singles in 664 plate appearances. That’s tough to do. Among other things, Bonds had the incredible ability to hit the ball in the air, not the ground. That led to 107 extra base hits.

Bonds never topped 50 homers again, let alone 70, in part because pitchers wouldn’t give him anything good to hit. He set walk record after walk record, but he’s still on the books with the most homers hit in a single season.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

October ball for the Orange and Black

Thanks, Panda!

I'll say it again -- The Panda was far and away the best Giant this year. Julian Levine at Giants Nirvana has an excellent post about why --

-- On offense, he was more-or-less a replica of that ’09 Sandoval. A little more power, slightly fewer walks, a lower batting average on balls in play — though all in a decreased run environment. Overall, he posted a 142 wRC+, just a few points off the mark (145 wRC+) he had posted a couple years prior. Among third-basemen in the majors with at least 450 plate appearances, not one hit better than the Panda.

-- On defense, though, the improvement was astounding. By Ultimate Zone Rating, he saved +12.3 runs with the glove this year, roughly a 12-run improvement from the previous year. By Defensive Runs Saved, he was worth +22 runs at third, roughly a 20-run improvement from the previous year. And Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA) had him at +8.0 runs, a 14-run improvement on defense. He certainly passed the eye test too, displaying noticeable progress at third base — especially with regards to his range. He played Gold Glove caliber defense all season long.

-- In total, he racked up 5.5 wins above replacement. Despite missing 45 games due to injury, he was the Giants’ best position player by far. Aubrey Huff and Andres Torres took nosedives, Buster Posey was injured in that awful collision, and Carlos Beltran, of course, didn’t arrive until July. Amid the trainwreck that was the Giants’ daily lineup card, Sandoval was the only bright spot.

So here’s my appreciation. Thank you, Pablo Sandoval. On a team that displayed historical incompetence when it came to scoring runs, you were the only constant driving force. I can’t even begin to imagine how awful this offense would have been without you.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

The clutch guy = Nate

Geez, this is a bit depressing. The Giants offense was crappy on many levels including a league-low .219 with runners in scoring position. Someone please fire Hensley Meulens.
Chris Haft of mlb.com reports that Nate Schierholtz was the team's best performer in clutch situations and began to show more patience --

He became more patient, averaging 4.09 pitches per plate appearance. That represented an upgrade from 3.54 last year, 3.41 in '08 and '09 and 3.30 as a Giants rookie in '07.

Schierholtz also became the most reliable Giants hitter in the clutch, batting .295 (26-for-88) with runners in scoring position. That contrasted dramatically with San Francisco's Major League-low .219 average in that category. Mark DeRosa hit .308 in those situations, but he received significantly fewer opportunities (8-for-26).

Friday, October 07, 2011

Tough, tough, tough

Man, what a tough season ender for the Phils and their fans -- seeing their best everyday player Ryan go down trying to get out of the batter's box with the game on the line. I always figured the Phils would have that season-long motivation from being edged out by Orange and Black last year. I'm writing this as Chris Carpenter being gracious to the Phils following his outstanding pitching perf -- the kind of lights-out playoff pitching the Giants delivered last year. So now, Howard has been the last out in the last two Phillies seasons after the called strike three in Game 6 of last year's NLCS off Brian Wilson.

Losing the last game of a postseason by a 1-0 score -- that's tough. Giants fans who were around for the 1962 World Series know: that's a tough tough tough way to end the season. Charles Schulz wrote several Peanuts strips about it.

I'd have to say that the Cards are a legit candidate to go all the way with that kind of pitching. The Brewers didn't exactly overwhelm the Dbacks.

Despite the loss, I'm sure that the Giants are going to give Rollins serious consideration -- the front office is so in love with guys in their 30s who may be on the fade.

The future of A-Rod

The Yankees have a problem like the Giants -- older players who are starting to break down (Freddy Sanchez, Aubrey Huff, Andres Torres, Mark DeRosa, Aaron Rowand, Miguel Tejada, Barry Zito). In this case, it's the highest paid guy on the Yankee roster, which is saying something. A-Rod struck out three times last night, including a bases-loaded one-out situation in the 7th and the game-ender in the 9th. Rather than admit that the Tigers are a better team, Yankees fans may be wondering "Why didn't we hang on to that Cody Ransom guy?"

Now that A-Rod is going to get blamed -- fairly or unfairly -- for the Yankees failing to get through the ALDS, I'm wondering if he can manage to stay healthy enough to make it past Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds.

He's 35 and he's at 629 HRs. I would have thought that he had a shot at 800 but now he's getting injured a lot. He only hit 16 HRs this year -- the lowest since he was a 19-year-old rookie in 1995 and only had five. He hit 36 the following year.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Bob Robertson?

Monday, October 03, 2011

The high point of 2011

That would be on July 28, when the Giants beat the Phils in Philly 4-1 to go 61-44 -- 17 games over .500 with a little over a third of the season left. Things were looking OK, what with the pitching staff performing at world class levels while the offense was adequate -- Sandoval homered, Nate drove in a run and the Giants scored two on a throwing error. Then the Giants went 25-32 the rest of the way to gift wrap the NL West title to the extremely annoying Dbacks.

I was compelled to look up that game after reading a Sept. 23 post by "The Ranter" at Ranting On. He doesn't post very often but when he does, it's always worth a read. Here are the key points --

-- This has been a extremely disappointing year, largely because the Giants' failure was both forseeable and preventable. And the blame for this disaster should lie firmly at the feet of management.

-- The first failure came in the off-season, when the Giants made no significant upgrade to a team that was offensively challenged despite seeing a number of players having career years. Did they really believe a full season of Cody Ross was going to make a difference? Instead of help we got Miguel Tejada.

-- Failure number two came on the day Buster Posey went down. This was the centerpiece of a still challenged line-up. The Giants' response this loss? Crickets. They whistled in the dark and claimed their catching situation was okay. Hmmn. The number-four hitter goes down, replaced by two guys who couldn't hit an old lady in a crosswalk, and the team doesn't need to make a move? When the guys replacing your big stick bat eighth only because traditon puts the pitcher ninth, you're losing offense. Nice non-move Sabean.

-- And still this team had a shot. It was smoke and mirrors, but at one point there were 16 games over .500. Even then Sabean publicly admitted that the team wasn't as good as its record. The wall had to come, and it did. The Giants gambled that one bat, the overhyped Carlos Beltran, would be enough. Had he been added to a healthy Posey in April, and had the Giants actually obtained a real shortstop instead of an aging malcontent whose range consisted of a step and a dive, they might have had a chance. In this case it was too little and much too late.

-- What really killed me was the Houston series on the homestand, when the Giants were twice done in by Henry Sosa and Matt Downs, two "failed" Giants prospects. The Giants dealt them for vets, and when it game time for the showdown, the kids won. That's a theme for the current front office. Young talent is just a baraining chip. Yeah, the kid may hit .300 but he's not proven. Better to take a known quantity, even if he hits .230. No gambles here. If your name is Brandon Belt, Brett Pill, Brandon Crawford, Hector Sancez, etc., get your suitcase ready. There is no place for you in San Francisco, not when there's a 36-year-old, .220-hitting middle infielder on the market.

-- Looking back at the full season, the perfect mascot for this team would be Randy Winn. The Giants failed to learn from that awful experience and paid a record payroll in 2011 to players like Aubrey Huff, Cody Ross, Andres Torres and Mike Fontenot; men who got paid like on an average day they'd perform like they did last September. But that's not who they are. The Giants paid off on career years, and, predictably, got a lousy return on the investment.

-- The 2010 Giants got hot at the right time, and a tremendous pitching staff made it stand up. But you cannot build a team like that. The Giants seem to beleive that "good enough" on the offensive side is sufficient. They stubbornly rely on arms. Hey, Philly can pitch too. So can the Brewers and Tigers and Rays and Red Sox. You know what else they can do? Hit. The Giants can't.

-- The first move is gonna be painful. The Giants ate Rowand's idiotic deal, now they need to be willing to do the same for Zito and Huff. In fact, there are a number of Giants that need not return. Also say goodbye to the following: Whiteside, Keppinger, Cabrerra, DeRosa, Ross, Torres, J. Sanchez, Edlefsen, Ramirez and Mota. Bury Stewart and Pill in Fresno as insurance.

-- The offseason search has to be for a leadoff man and a clean-up hitter, and the Giants have to be willing to break the bank to do so. Fans came out and supported the Giants all season, selling out every home game to date. They did so and received bad baseball. Last year was torture? This year was death by slow poison. In 2012, they owe us. There are three big prizes on the free agent market: Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes. Two of them need to end up in San Francisco.

-- The Giants have good pitching, better than most. With an average offense they'd be a dominant team. But competitive guys want to win, and if the front office doesn't give them the tools to do so, it'll be far too easy to jump ship when teams like the Yankees and Red Sox start circling Lincecum and Cain waiving big checks combined with bushels of run support. Giants, the future is now. You're at a turning point. You can can bite the bullet, trim the fat, rebuild the offense and save your pitchers from a mental breakdown, or you can slide into oblivion: a one-hit wonder the likes of Ah-Ha and Dexy's Midnight Runners.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Bruce Bochy's message

This showed up a few days ago -- very classy, say I

September 26, 2011
Dear Giants Fan,

The best part of every road trip is the moment I sink into my seat on the team plane and say to myself, "We're going home." I know what's waiting for us at AT&T Park: Our reinforcements. Our fans.

I look up at that sea of orange-and-black -- at the Panda and Baby Giraffe hats, the beards, the Timmy wigs, the scarves and towels, the poster board signs that say "Believe!" - and feel as if no one can beat us. The incredible energy generated from 41,000 stomping, cheering, passionate Giants fans is like having a tenth man on the field.

Tonight, the Giants will set a record for the highest single-season attendance in the franchise's 128-year history -- 3,303,000 surpassing the 3,277,244 set in 2001. Tonight also marks the 79th consecutive sell-out of the 2011 season. These attendance milestones simply demonstrate what our players, coaches and front office already know: We have the best and most devoted fans in baseball.

On behalf of everyone at the Giants, thank you.

I am writing not only to thank you, but also to make sure you know that your support makes a difference. Your thunderous cheers for Romo or Wilson or Casilla to get the third out late in a game - they matter. Your rally caps, your "Beat LA" chants, your "Get Well" signs for Buster, your willingness to weather cold nights on Orange Fridays - they all matter. You could have given up on us this season. Wracked by injuries, we've struggled to score runs. But just as you were there during last year's magical World Series season, you're with us still - a show of loyalty that continues to inspire us as coaches and players.

In baseball, the difference between winning and losing can be as slight as a bunt that stays fair instead of rolling foul. A team is always looking for an edge. Opposing players and coaches tell us all the time that AT&T Park gives us an edge. They're right but not completely. It's the not park. It's the people in it.

I look forward to seeing you over these last few days of 2011 and for seasons to come. Thank you for helping us draw out the best in ourselves.

Sincerely,

Bruce Bochy
San Francisco Giants Manager

Brown in the Orange and Black

There's a little bit of good news on the offensive front above and beyond the awesomeness of Pablo Sandoval and the return of Buster Posey. With the trade of Zach Wheeler, outfielder Gary Brown is now the top prospect for the Orange and Black. He had a solid season in San Jose at Class A. Given how crappy the offense was in 2011, this is welcome news.

Julian at Splashing Pumpkins has a solid recap of the Giants prospects, led by Brown, the first pick last year. I'm sure the front office -- even as wedded as it is to sticking with vets -- was tempted to bring him up anyhow this year and will be tempted to do that in 2012 if he's mashing in the high minors. Here's the key verbiage --

He’s the best prospect the Giants have, and after an excellent season in San Jose, he’s one of the top 50 prospects in all of baseball. One of the major concerns about Brown entering this season was walks: he didn’t draw very many walks in college, which is (for obvious reasons) alarming for a prospect whose game is speed. No longer much of an issue though: he posted a 7.2% walk rate this season, which is perfectly acceptable for a hitter with above-average contact skills. And considering that he has a penchant for getting hit by pitches (which, I’d assume is a somewhat repeatable skill), all the better.

Hardball Times ranks him at No. 41 overall and had this to say -- The Giants' 2010 first round pick played tremendously in his full season debut this year. The next step will be succeeding against upper minor league talent. He should be on the fast track to the majors, and if his tools fully develop could be a top-of-the-order hitter. He may not offer more than a handful of home runs (though Kevin Goldstein suggested in a recent podcast he could flirt with 20), but his speed is a clear 80 on the 20-80 scale and should allow him to be a big stolen base contributor (he stole 53 this year). He makes contact at a high rate, and punished the ball in the the offensive-friendly Cal League, hinting at being a batting average contributor in fantasy as well.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Giants MVP = Panda

It's been a great year for Sandoval. He would have had the 5th highest WAR in the NL last season. He was more valuable at 6.1 WAR this year than Huff was last year at 5.8

And it's not even close among Giants -- a WAR (wins above replacement) of 6.1 for the Panda -- followed by the pitching staff.

Sandoval -- 6.1
Lincecum -- 4.4
Cain -- 3.9
Vogelsong -- 3.6
Bumgarner -- 2.8
Romo -- 2.0
Ross -- 1.6
Schierholtz -- 1.6
Posey -- 1.5
Casilla -- 1.4
Lopez -- 1.3
Torres -- 1.3
Freddy Sanchez -- 1.1
Beltran -- 1.0
Wilson -- 1.0
Burrell -- 1.0
Tejada -- 1.0
Rowand -- 0.9
Affeldt -- 0.9
Fontenot -- 0.9
Ramirez -- 0.8
Stewart -- 0.8
Pill -- 0.7
Mota -- 0.3
Ford -- 0.2
Crawford -- 0.1
Jonathan Sanchez -- 0.1

Finally -- here are the negative WAR guys
Huff -- negative 0.9
Hall -- negative 0.7
Zito -- negative 0.6
Keppinger -- negative 0.6
Surkamp -- negative 0.6
Edelfson -- negative 0.5
Cabrera -- negative 0.4
Belt -- negative 0.3

Time to go, Brian

Not Wilson. Sabean. Time to give someone else a turn. 570 runs scored. 570 on the heels of winning a World Series and having world-class pitching and not taking advantage of it.

Where Have You Gone Joe explains it much better than I can.Here's the key verbiage --



Commencing in 2005 the Giants have ranked 29, 24, 29, 29, 26, 17, 29 in runs scored. The last time they scored this few runs was 1985 when they lost 100 games. Even notorious cheapskate Lurie had enough, showing Davenport the door before season's end. Enter Hmmmmm baby. And the rest as they say is history. But by 1992 it was clear Roger Craig was ready to move on, his contacts in the player world not what they once were. Then came Baker, a long overdue addition to the Managerial ranks after serving his apprenticeship in the Giants organization, at the end of his playing days.

There is this irrational stupid sounding idea that the Giants are still rebuilding. Which is of course how Arizona went from 97 losses to Division champs in one year. The Giants themselves went from 100 losses in 1985 to first place in 1987 by getting rid of Davenport and Haller and bringing in Craig and Al Rosen. The earth is not flat and hair spray doesn't cause climate change. Putting out the worst offense in the history of the Giants for 6 out of the last 7 years is only considered rebuilding in the minds of people who have become separated from rational thought.