Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Let's get back: together

It seems that's the slogan for the 2012 Giants, according to Grant Bisbee at McCovey Chronicles. I never pay much attention to slogans because I have my own. It would take some real guts for these to become official slogans --

1. A Giants win is a thing of beauty
2. Giants rule, Dodgers drool
3. Dodgers suck. Always have, always will
4. The perfect day -- a Giant win and a Dodger loss
5. Dodgers = Satan

Adios, Pat the Bat

Multiple reports say The Bat has decided to hang it up, according to a story posted on the Giants web site.

Whatever else Brian Sabean has done that's lacked insight, the signing of Pat turned out to be damn near a genius move during the 2010 season.

John Sickels at SB Nation has a nice career recap

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Brown = Bourn?

Way to go, Flan

Friday, January 27, 2012

Theriot in the Orange and Black


Keep in mind, Freddy Sanchez plays second base for the Giants, which means plenty of chances to look up and see " Theriot -- 2B" penciled into the lineup. All in all, not a bad move. Thank you, Orlando Cabrera for retiring and making it possible. With the Clay Hensley signing (which I missed yesterday), the Giants' 40-man roster is now topped up. They'll have to ditch someone to add someone. Hensley could well be the ditchee; his $750,000 contract is also non-guaranteed.

Here's the official story on the Giants site.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hensley in the Orange and Black

OK, I admit that I love how grim Clay looks in his rookie card from 2003. No smiling for this dude! "Here's my game face, OK?"

Clay Hensley, who gave up HR No. 755 to Barry Bonds at Petco Park, has signed a minor league deal with the Giants.

Yes, that homer tied the record by Hank Aaron. As much as the Bonds haters would like, that fact won't go away.

In any case, signing Hensley sounds like the front office is continuing to sign pitchers because they are expecting Barry Zito to be ineffective again in his SIXTH season as a Giant. Hensley was pretty effective in 2010 as a reliever, racking up a 2.4 WAR, but stunk up the joint last year as a starter for the Fish with a negative 0.2 WAR. Perhaps that's what happens when you're playing on a team with Scott Cousins

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

THIS is what it's all about for the Orange and Black

Tim Lincecum's obvious preference for a short deal ought to be a wake-up call to the front office. The bottom line is that Lincecum wants to win another World Series before he retires.

John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters has a succinct but solid analysis of why Tim Lincecum opted for a two-year deal:

This deal shows that Lincecum is saying that unless the Giants start building an offense that matches his talents, he won’t be a Giant once he reaches free agency. Another two seasons of winning 13 games instead of 20, of seven starts without a single run to work with, of losing four 1-0 games…. these things are not acceptable to him, and if they continue, he will become a Yankee.

Tim already has two World Series victories. Let's have a look at the all-time list --

1.Whitey Ford10 146.0

2.Red Ruffing 7 8 5.2

Bob Gibson 7 81.0

5.Chief Bender 6 85.0

Waite Hoyt 6 83.2

Vic Raschi 5 60.1

Herb Pennock 5 55.1

Of the 15 guys on this list, nine are Yankees. THAT should tell you all you need to know about where this is going. It's very interesting to me that Whitey Ford -- a smart undersized pitcher who was consistently brilliant -- leads the list. Ford's final World Series win was in Game 1 of the 1962 Series at the Stick.

This is a mind-blowing stat about Ford -- he started the first game of the World Series EIGHT times. One of the odder things about the 1960 Series was that Casey Stengel held back Ford until Game 3, which he won. He then won Game 6 but wasn't available for Game 7, which the Pirates won 10-9 on the epic Mazeroski homer. Ford was upset over Stengel's decision and felt that the Yanks would have won the Series had he been able to pitch in Games 1, 4 and 7. Hard to argue with him about that -- and Stengel got fired after that season. During Stengel's tenure from 1949 to 1960, the Yankees won 10 pennants and seven World Series.

Ford was a rookie in 1950 and missed the next two seasons due to the Korean War. He was the best pitcher on the best team in baseball for next decade and picked up rings in 1950 (when he won the last game at the age of 21), 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961 and 1962.

I have no idea if Tim Lincecum has ever heard of Whitey Ford but I wouldn't be surprised if he had.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cody Ross = Eddie Bressoud?

Mlb.com is reporting that Cody's close to a deal with the Bosox, who need some outfield depth due to the Carl Crawford injury. Maybe he'll go back to hitting 23 to 25 HRs a year. Given Cody's role in the 2010 postseason, we Giants fans wish him well.

OK, you're truly a real Giants fan if you get the Bressoud reference. Eddie was with the team for six years from 1956 to 1961 as a shortstop but lost playing time in 1961 to Jose Pagan -- getting only 114 ABs all year -- and was left unprotected in the expansion draft. He was first player picked up by the Houston Colt 45s, who later became the Astros. Houston traded him to Boston, where somehow Eddie figured out how to pull the ball effectively. He spent the next three years lofting lots of fly balls off and over the Green Monster, hitting 14, 20 and 15 HRs along with 40, 23 and 41 doubles. He even made the All-Star team in 1964 and had WARs of 4.7, 2.8 and 4.4 in those years. In other words, he became a damn good player in Boston for awhile.

Eddie had only 94 HRs in 12 seasons -- including 25 in six seasons in the Orange and Black -- and he hit over half of them in those 3 seasons on what were pretty terrible Bosox teams. My impression just looking at the jump in performance in 1962-64, at ages 30 to 32, is that he must have been a pretty smart player to figure out how to hit that effectively in Fenway. He later coached in the minors and scouted for the Angels.

"Lincecum is taking all the risk"

Henry Schulman of the SF Chron analyzes Tim's deal.Here's the key verbiage --

Lincecum is taking all the risk by going short on years (if accepting $40.5 million is considered “risky”). Pitchers get arm trouble, and though Lincecum’s health has not been an issue, he is mortal. He is bypassing the security of a longer deal in return for a potentially bigger payday down the road. If reports are true, Matt Cain is taking the opposite tack. He’s willing to accept a below-market, long-term deal in exchange for that security and stability. I’m told no deal is imminent with Cain.

The Giants’ risk on Lincecum is low. They are not saddled with a potentially crippling pitcher contract, and the worst that can happen is Lincecum walks in 2014 and the Giants have $25 million to spend elsewhere.

That said, the Giants should have plenty of money to play ball with Lincecum the free agent in 2014. Even if he and Cain consume $50 million of what should, by then, be a $140 million payroll (that no longer includes Barry Zito’s contract), they can build a pretty good team with the rest of the $90 million, particularly if younger players such as Brandon Belt, Gary Brown, Joe Panik, Kyle Crick, etc… pan out. They will be paid peanuts until they hit arbitration down the road.

Tim takes over from Barry Zito

Tim's signing a 2-year deal for just over $40 mil. This isn't a surprise at all. What it means is that Barry Zito no longer has the top salary on the Giants. Here's what the SF Chron's beat writer just tweeted --

Henry Schulman
Things move fast. An being told Lincecum, Giants have reached verbal agreement.

UPDATE -- he now says it's a $500,000 bonus for this year at $18 mil and $22 mil for 2013.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Blocking Belt

For me, the most frustrating aspect of the off-season has been that the Giants didn't really address their dire need for more offense because --

1. they didn't upgrade at shortstop, where Brandon Crawford hasn't shown an ability to hit MLB pitching
2. they've gotten into a situation where Brandon Belt -- their best hope for an improved offense -- is probably going to be blocked from playing as long as Huff, Pagan, Melky Cabrera and Shierholtz don’t completely stink.

Julian Levine at Giants Nirvana has a long and very well-written post about it. Some highlights --

-- A team with hopes of contending, a steady stream of revenue, and a dire need to improve its offense passed on Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins, and Carlos Beltran. In fact, their only offensive additions consisted of Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera, both of whom were acquired via trade, and both of whom are set to hit free agency after this season.

-- on an individual basis, the moves to retain Lopez and Affeldt aren’t all that bad. As a whole, however, especially as it pertains to the Giants’ needs and budgetary constraints, this was not terribly prudent allocation of money. The $5M that went to Affeldt would have been better spent on a dire need (i.e. a hitter).

-- The Melky Cabrera acquisition, on the other hand, might be the worst move of the offseason. The Giants are paying Melky $6M, which is a bit more than I was expecting. Jonathan Sanchez, in comparison, is getting $5.6M. Basically, the Giants didn’t save any money in making this trade. In retrospect, they essentially had the choice between $6M and Melky Cabrera, and they chose the latter.

I imagine the justification for this move is as follows: they needed a centerfielder, and they didn’t see Andres Torres as a suitable option. They otherwise would have non-tendered Jonathan Sanchez, so this way, at least they filled a position of need by ridding themselves of a wild southpaw. The problem, however, is two-fold: firstly, Cabrera was not all that more appealing an option than Andres Torres, if at all, despite a much better 2011. Secondly, the move was rendered pointless when the Giants went out and got Angel Pagan to play centerfield. Now they’re stuck with a relatively expensive player who — either directly or indirectly — is blocking Brandon Belt.

-- the outfield is now occupied: Nate Schierholtz in right field, Angel Pagan in center, and Melky Cabrera in left. Had the Giants never acquired Melky, there would be room for Belt. In fact, over a full season, Belt probably brings more value to the team than Melky. Few players on the roster have as much potential to improve the offense as he does*. So in effect, the Melky trade: cost the Giants $6M, did little or nothing to improve their team (as it pertains to how the players will likely be utilized), and blocked Brandon Belt, who was already yo-yoed between Fresno and the majors throughout 2011.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Culberson, Panik in the Orange and Black?

Grab some birthday cake, meat!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Romo's deal sets the stage for Tim's

Tim's 10 pitching duels last year

Bill James -- yes, that Bill James -- has compiled a list for the Grantland web site of the 100 best pitching duels last year with Tim Lincecum having participated in 10 of them, including three of the top six. He didn't compile the number by team but the Giants have LOTS of those for Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner. Nos. 3 and 5 were losses to Clayton Kershaw and No. 6 was a Lincecum vic over Ian Kennedy. Interestingly enough, James did NOT include Barry Zito's best game of the year, the 2-1 vic over the Padres on July 6 but perhaps the utter flukiness of it didn't make it valid. Or maybe he just figures Zito was lucky. I was in Section 238 that night and Zito actually performed like a $126 million pitcher.

But this post is about Lincecum, who will probably make more than Zito does this year. Of the 10 games that James mentions, Tim went 4-6. That, ladies and gentlemen, is crappy offensive support.

Last year's season opener was No. 32 on the James list. What he doesn't say is that this game really set the tone for the rest of the season. During the late innings, of course, Bryan Stow was getting attacked by psychos in the parking lot --

The first of four pitchers' duels between the two studs. The Dodgers got a run in the sixth on errors by Miguel Tejada and Buster Posey. Bullpens exchanged runs in their last at-bats. Dodgers 2, Giants 1; snakebite loss for Lincecum.

Lincecum and Kershaw matched up four times in 2011, Kershaw winning all four contests, all four of them tremendous duels. In the four games Lincecum pitched 29 innings with a 1.24 ERA, but an 0-4 record. Kershaw was 4-0, pitched 30.1 innings with a 0.30 ERA.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sadness about The Kid

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Orlando Cabrera retires in the Orange and Black


No wonder he looks so happy in this card. He got paid $22 million by the Angels from 2005 through 2007 and racked up WARs of 2.9 in 2005, 2.3 in 2006 and had the best year of his career in 2007 with a 3.8 WAR.

Brandon Crawford didn't exactly light it up last year in 220 plate appearances but at least he has an upside...and a 0.1 WAR. He did walk 23 times, showing at least some plate discipline. In other words, the Giants might have won another game or two had they just stuck with Crawford.

Remember, the Giants still had a shot at the Wild Card at the end. They had an eight-game winning streak and were 13 above .500 at 83-70 with nine games left. Then they lost 2-1 to the Dodgers and Kershaw to go 3-6 the rest of the way. Cabrera went 0-for-3 in that game.

Three days later, he hit his one HR as a Giant in a 3-1 loss to the Dbacks. He flew out in the 9th in what turned out to be his final MLB at bat as the Giants dropped to 84-73.

Just for the hell of it, I looked up the Cards regular season record -- 90-72. Had the Giants gone 7-2 in the those last nine games, they could have made the playoffs...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pandoval signs for three years

I was impressed at how well Sandoval bounced back last year and committed to staying in shape. Andrew Baggarly of the Merc-News makes the point that the Giants have been convinced that he'll stay that way. They bought out the 3 years of arbitration for a guy who looks like the best Giants third baseman since Matt Williams was in his prime.
I like this deal a lot. Pablo has shown us a lot in his four years in the bigs. He's only 25 and already an elite player. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chron believes it could be a real bargain --

The Giants did not have to sign him for longer than a year. But they bought his three arbitration years with salaries of $3.2 million for the coming season, $5.7 million in 2013 and $8.25 million in 2014 - a bargain if he can replicate his 2009 and 2011 seasons.

The Giants know what Sandoval looks like 3 1/2 months after the final out of 2011. They put him through a physical before completing the deal. "I think we've seen Pablo's commitment grow," Bobby Evans, Giants vice president of player personnel, said. "He's still very young in the game and young in his potential. With time, I think he'll continue to prosper as he continues to find a balance of priority in his conditioning. We see a commitment. We know that Pablo understands there are still challenges that he is facing and will continue to face, yet this is a confidence that we have in him that he's going to do everything possible to earn that contract and the next one."

Memories of Mays

Robert Creamer has been interviewed by the Sports Past and Present site and talks at length about No. 24. He recalls seeing one of his first games at the Polo Grounds --

I saw Mays play a lot. My father and I were in the moderate crowd at the Polo Grounds in May 1951 when Willie played his first game for the Giants. My father was only a mild baseball fan, although he told me his favorite ballplayer when he was a kid in New York back at the beginning of the 20th century was a bearded outfielder for the Giants named George Van Haltren, which indicates a certain degree of baseball intensity. In any case he and I drove down from Tuckahoe to the Polo Grounds, bought tickets (which you could do then) and sat in the lower stands between home and first base. Willie had broken in a few days earlier in Philadelphia where he went 0 for 12 in three games. He was batting third which if it seems a high spot for a brand-new rookie seemed a proper spot to take a look at a rookie who had been batting something like .477 in the minors.

The top of the first took some of the fun out of the game right away. Warren Spahn was pitching for the Boston Braves and in the top of the first Bob Elliott hit a three-run homer for Boston, which took a lot of the starch out of the Giant fans. If Spahn was on, and had a three-run lead already, we didn’t have a prayer. Spahn set the first two Giants down in order and here came Willie, our fabulous new rookie. I forget what the count went to — a ball and a strike, something like that. Spahn threw the next pitch and Willie hit it on a line high and deep to left center field. I cannot recall if it hit the wooden façade high in left field or went over the roof and out of the park. All I remember is the electric excitement that shot through the park at the sound and sight of our precious rookie in his first at-bat in New York hitting a tremendous home run off the great Spahn. “He’s real!” was the feeling. “He’s real!”

$6 mil for Melky

Monday, January 16, 2012

Brown in the Orange and Black

One of the forgotten moves in the memorable 2002 season came when the Giants acquired Kenny Lofton in a deadline deal with the White Sox. A decade later, I regret that the Giants didn't try and keep him longer. He has a career WAR of 65.8 -- higher than some of the guys in the Hall of Fame. Let's remember who it was who drove in the winning run with two outs in the 9th that got the Giants into the World Series that year. So it's more than intriguing that Giants prospect Gary Brown is mentioned in the same breath as Lofton.

I haven't gone to the always interesting Bay City Ball site for awhile but Chris Quick has a loooong recap of the top 5 prospects, led by Gary Brown, followed by Joe Panik, Tommy Joseph, Erik Surkamp and Heath Hembree.

Rory Paap is particularly enthused about Brown -- It’s probabaly foolish and wishful thinking that I’m fairly optimistic about the Giants’ system–which is frankly pretty thin–but I am. Fittingly, there’s no player on this list or any other that I’m more excited about than Gary Brown. I cannot wait to see what he does with the daunting challenge that Double-A will be for him in 2012. I hope he’s up for it. I think he is.

With the exception of Torres’ remarkable 2010 season, the Giants have not had a quality center fielder or a legitimate leadoff hitter since Kenny Lofton, and he came only for one half of a (nearly triumphant) season to patch up the Shinjo-Calvin Murray debacle. That’s 10 seasons. Gary Brown, if all goes to plan, is the answer to a painful, decade-long problem. He puts the demons of Dave Roberts to bed.

Brown is lightning fast, has excellent contact skills with a surprising amount of pop (14 home runs, .519 SLG in San Jose), and his absolute floor as a defender in a premium position is probably around average. If he can polish up his outfield instincts and continue to draw walks and get on base at a respectable rate, he’s going to be a very useful player with more star potential than Panik. And finally, I can confirm that he’s nothing like Aaron Rowand, the only exceptions being their Fullerton alumni status and a penchant for being hit by pitches. And that particular skill might well prove to be pretty handy given how dangerous Brown ought to be on the paths.

Giants sign Angel

That would be Angel Pagan. According to ESPN, the club reached a one-year deal for $4.85 million and avoided arbitration. He made $3.5 million last year for the Mets.

Andrew Baggarly of Merc-News has a couple of snarky blog posts in response --
Andrew Baggarly
Put another way, Pagan will get nearly a third of what Aaron Rowand will receive for not showing up for work every day.
Andrew Baggarly
Yes, Rowand signed a minor league deal with the Marlins. I'd imagine he'll compete w/Scott Cousins for a job. How about that, Giants fans?

No arbitration for Tim?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Belt = Maris?

Steve Treder at Hardball Times has an entertaining post comparing the startling similiarities between the 2011 version of Brandon Belt and the 1958 version of Roger Maris --

This isn't to suggest that Brandon Belt is the second coming of Roger Maris. Not necessarily, anyway. But in wondering just how this young left-handed slugger might (or might not) develop over the coming years, we have one highly intriguing comp with a famous left-handed slugger of long ago, just staring us in the face.

I remember the and 1958 and 1961 seasons vividly, mostly because the Giants contended until the last week or so of both of them. For the life of me, I couldn't understand why Roger Maris engendered so much negative reaction in 1961. He seemed like a completely decent guy to my 9-year-old mind.

A cap tip to Giants Nirvana for pointing out the post.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The impact of the Pineda deal

Tis truly the hot stove season --

Bryan at Around the Foghorn has an intriguing post. He believes that the Yanks-Mariners deal (Jesus Montero for Miguel Pineda) means that the Yankees are now less likely to make a run at Matt Cain next year -- assuming that the Giants have locked up Cain by then to a multi-year deal.

Again, it's hard for me to imagine Matt Cain in anything other than a Giants uni. A flyball specialist like Matt might have a rougher time in Yankee Stadium than in AT&T Park aka Mays Field.

.609 in 2004

You can call yourself a hardcore stats geek if you know what that headline means.

Jeff Sullivan at Baseball Nation has posted "An Incomplete Collection of Barry Bonds Fun Facts," including this stunner -- Barry Bonds had an OBP of .609 in 2004! Over a full season! Joe Carter had a career OBP of .306! Barry Bonds' OBP in 2004 was twice Joe Carter's OBP in his career!

And here's a pretty good list from Baseball Reference...

Friday, January 13, 2012

The way to San Jose?

It beats me. I read this column twice and I still don't know what to tell you...

The Oakland A's look like they're going to become the San Jose A's, at least according to Mark Purdy of the Mercury-News, despite the Giants having territorial rights. He surmises that Selig will have some kind of compromise to compensate the Giants. It appears the Merc-News is edited by shovel. The column's kind of sloppy on detail. I read this passage and have no idea what Mark is talking about since he doesn't bother to explain the boldface --

Trying to determine how an A's-Giants resolution might look is difficult. The most obvious template is the settlement received by Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos when the Montreal Expos were moved to within 40 miles of Angelos' franchise and became the Washington Nationals. As compensation, Angelos received guarantees from MLB on ticket revenue and franchise value.

Angelos was asked Thursday if he sees any parallels between that and the A's-Giants state of affairs.

"I don't have much knowledge about the situation," Angelos said. "But I wish them both luck."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Adios, John Bowker

I thought about saying "Sayanora, John Bowker" since he's been released by the Phils so he can sign a deal to go play baseball in Japan. I have some affection for Bowker -- he was always tearing it up in the minors but just could not hit consistently in the bigs. Link
Adios means "Go with God, John Bowker." For those of you who don't recall, he was dealt away on July 31, 2010 to the Pirates for Javier Lopez. Grant Bisbee at McCovey Chronicles has an excellent post about it.Here's some of it --

John Bowker was, for a weekend or so, the slugger of the future. Then he struggled so badly that he was removed from the 2008 Giants' lineup. That was … hard to do. After returning to the minors, he put up a fantastic 2009 season in AAA, even by Pacific Coast League standards. He hit for average (.342) and changed his approach at the plate, leading to more walks (.451 OBP). He had 47 extra-base hits in 366 at-bats.

And he couldn't hit a breaking ball if he stood in front of home plate with the lid of a garbage can. But now we're ahead of ourselves.

At the same time he was demolishing Fresno, the Giants' right fielder was having an abysmal season, as was the entire team....

He's one-man shorthand for the nuttiness of Giants baseball, and why we love and hate it so.

The comeback kid has a 2-year deal

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Happy birthday, Stretch!

A terrific shot by timbo94066!

I thought for awhile about my fave games where Stretch was the hero. The first was his first game on July 30, 1959, when he hit two triples and two singles.

Twenty years later, at the home opener on April 10, he pinch hit for Roger Metzger in the bottom of the 9th with two out and no one out in a 2-2 tie. I was there that day at the Stick and the anticipation as Stretch came out was electric. We KNEW something good was about to happen -- as it had so many other times when Stretch came up. We were right. He lined a single to right and was replaced by Max Venable in his first MLB appearance. A few moments later, John Tamargo pinch hit for Vida Blue and clobbered a pitch into the second deck. I can still see it and still hear the happy roar of that crowd.


"For Jan. 9, he's doing pretty well"

Who? Buster Posey, that's who. The quote is from the Giants trainer Dave Groeschner in a story by Chrs Haft on mlb.com

I'd have to say this is the best news of the offseason so far for Giants fans -- Buster is now doing sprints of 30 and 60 yards. Fingers crossed and let's hope Dingbat Psycho Scott Cousins doesn't get a deal anywhere.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Freddy's comeback coming along, I guess

I guess this is where veteran experience pays off. When he's healthy -- like he was six years ago, in his prime -- he's formidable. He racked a 5.5 WAR in 2006 with a batting title and 53 doubles.

Chris Haft of mlb.com posts that Freddy Sanchez has started hitting off a tee. He notes that Freddy's had so much experience with being on the DL that he knows how to rehab and is further along this time. Why am I not particularly re-assured? Anyhow, here's the key verbiage --

Various injuries limited Sanchez, 34, to 111 games in 2009 and '10 and 60 games last year. If there's anything positive about this, it's that he has learned to pace himself and maintain patience as he rehabilitates. "Obviously you want it to go easier," said Sanchez, a .297 lifetime hitter who's penciled in to bat second in manager Bruce Bochy's lineup. "You still want to hurry up and rush things. But having gone through it, I know that I'm a lot further than I was last year or the year before."

Saturday, January 07, 2012

"I hate the Dodgers" -- John Montefusco

Oh, my. I've discovered the SABR web site and their massive biographical database and just read the recap of John Montefusco's career.

I'd forgotten that The Count broke into the bigs on Sept. 3, 1974 as a reliever for Ron Bryant -- who had pitched six batters and not gotten out -- and proceeded to pitch the next 9 innings and beat the Dodgers, 9-5 and hit a homer in his first MLB at bat. After the game, he said, "I wanted to beat the Dodgers--I hate the Dodgers, I'm from New Jersey, and I've always been a Yankee fan."

Giants fans didn't have a lot to cheer about in those days so The Count was a fan fave right off the bat. When he shut out the Dodgers 1-0 next year on the Fourth of July, he said, "This is the greatest game of my life."

I think I went to this one on July 17, 1976 -- a complete game beauty over the Phils, 4-1

Friday, January 06, 2012

Petit = Vogelsong?

Well, we can only hope. The sharp-eyed Julian at Giants Nirvana (the former Splashing Pumpkins) has found out via a Spanish-language site that Yusmeiro Petit -- with 36 MLB starts -- has been signed to a minor league deal by the Giants.

These kinds of signings do occassionally work out, you know. But the guy hasn't shown much in a season with the Fish and 3 with the Snakes.

Not that it matters much, but he's a horrible batter -- 3 for 61 for an 0.49 batting average. Most fans are full of it when they say that there as good as an MLB batter, but they could actually make a case with Petit. He went 1-for-27 in 2009 with one walk after going 0-for-13 in 2008.

Vogelsong, in addition to racking up a 3.7 Wins Above Replacement last year with a 13-7 record in 179 innings, also got 12 hits in 53 at bats and scored 7 times.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Cain in pinstripes?

Tyler Kepner of the NY Times is theorizing that the reason why the Yanks haven't gone after big-ticket free agent pitchers this offseason -- they're saving for a year from now when Matt Cain and/or Cole Hamels may be available.

Well, the Yanks can wave the gazillions around. I'm not sure that a smart flyball pitcher like Matt would enjoy pitching in a homer haven like Yankee Stadium. And it's hard to imagine Matt in anything other than a Giants uni. The always astute MC O'Connor at Raising (Matt) Cain posted a pretty good recap yesterday in a forecast for 2012. Some highlights --

Such an interesting character for such a soft-spoken guy. When they stick the mike in his face he is generally dull and relies on the usual ballplayer platitudes ("Eli called a great game and the guys made some great plays.") At the same time, he's the player rep. He must be reasonably smart and articulate to fulfill that role. Being the longest-tenured Giant I imagine gives him some gravitas and trustworthiness beyond his age (a mere 27). Alabama-born and Tennessee-bred Cain makes his home and is raising his family in San Francisco. How many Giants can say that? Matt lent his voice to the "It Gets Better" campaign (Bravo, Giants). He makes little or no off-season noise, generates no controversy, and always seems to be there when the Giants do some community thing. I think I remember him getting ticked off at one of the Hairston brothers in a ball game, but that's about it. Maybe there was a Dodger game or two where he showed some emotion, I forget. The point is that this guy is so stoic and self-contained as to be almost boring. And he's so consistent and steady when he performs that you don't really appreciate how good he is until the season is over and he's racked up another 200+ innings of first-rate pitching. He has to be taken as a whole. Tim Lincecum is exciting just to watch--the freaky delivery, the chance of a dozen strikeouts, and that ridiculous pitch they flail at every week. Pablo Sandoval is so weird and full of quirks, has outsized emotions, and hits doubles off his shoe tops. Buster Posey makes it looks so easy and was born to speak to a room full of reporters. It isn't hard to imagine him as a manager some day. Brandon Belt looks like he's still a kid and sometimes plays like one. Not Matt. He's been the same from the day he debuted and spent every season getting a little better at doing the same thing over and over again, namely throwing strikes and getting outs. You hear ballplayers talk about "keeping it simple." Look no further than no. 18! I expect more of the same for 2012.

Joe Torre becomes more Evil

This post is a reflection of my Eternal Hostility Toward the dodgers.

It's hard to believe the Joe Torre could be more evil than he already is. I really didn't think much about Joe while he was racking up 4 World Series rings in five years but then he aligned himself with the Forces of Evil by becoming manager of the Dodgers. Then he got bored and got a flunky executive job for Bud Selig, during which he decided NOT to do anything about changing the rule that lets no-talent psychopaths like Scott Cousins maim a legitimate star like Buster Posey.

Now he's decided to ditch Bud and try buying the dodgers -- a franchise already tainted with the stink of Walter O'Malley, Rupert Murdoch and Frank and Jamie McCourt -- with real estate hustler Rick Caruso.

If any dodger fans are reading this and want to tell me what groovy people O'Malley, Murdoch, McCourt and Torre are, don't waste your time. I'm not going to post your comments.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Huffing and BLUFing

Aubrey Huff is spinning hard and I don't mean on a spin cycle either. This is damage control.

Well, you've got to give Huff points for recognizing publicly how badly he played last year and admitting it to Henry Schulman of the SF Chron. But the BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) -- what a knucklehead! Why would you not be in tip-top shape when the season started? No wonder Sabean and Bochy blasted him at the end of the season for being out of shape. Surely, he must know that he's got the potential to stink because he's been a lousy player in other seasons too.

A very knowledgeable Bosox fan and good friend reminds me that Huff's performance in his career is all over the map. He had a 5.8 WAR in 2010, a 3.7 WAR in 2004 and a 3.0 in 2008. He's also had a negative WAR in half of his 12 seasons, including three of the last four when it was -0.9, -0.8 and -0.7.

In other words, he's consistently inconsistent. Had he put up the seasons of 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2010 in the other years, he would have been a potential Hall of Famer. Maybe all the Pilates will help.

Monday, January 02, 2012

The Thrill in the Hall?

Julian at Giants Nirvana has an excellent post making the case for Will the Thrill getting into the Hall of Fame.

I always thought that Will missed out on the MVP in 1989, when he was the best player in the NL. Kevin Mitchell won due to his 47 homers -- a huge number back then. Will's Wins Above Replacement was 9.4 while Mitch's was 7.7, so it wasn't egregious but an MVP and/or a World Series ring might have been enough to get The Thrill into the Hall. (Oddly enough, Lonnie Smith -- who always seemed like a very good but not great player, had a very impressive 8.7 WAR that year).

Will retired pretty early at age 36 to spend more time with his son with autism. Julian makes a strong case --

Clark only played 15 seasons, so he didn’t stick around long enough to compile great counting stats. Additionally, he’s hurt without attention to context. His peak years occurred from 1987 to 1992, during which time he hit .303/.378/.515 with 151 homers. That’s quite good, but it’s even better when you consider how weak offense was during that period. In four of those six years, the National League OPS was below .690, and in two of them, it was below .680.

Nate -- better than average

Maybe there's some hope for the Giants outfield now that Aaron Rowand's been kicked off the team...

Man, it was frustrating watching the Giants last season when it seemed no one other Pablo Sandoval could hit consistently while Rowand continued to get at bats. I'd kind of forgotten that Nate Schierholtz was pretty decent before he went down with a season-ending injury he sustained in August; he played his last game Aug. 21, when the Giants were only a game and a half out of first. The Giants never seemed to be able to get hot in September like they did in September 2010. And it turns out that Nate Schierholtz was putting up offensive numbers that were significantly above the league average, M.C. O'Connor observes at Raising (Matt) Cain. Here's most of his post --

Nate's .278/.326/.430 line rates a 112 OPS+ with B-R and a 107 wRC+ with FanGraphs. Would it surprise you that he's about 10% better than the average hitter? I sorted NL hitters with 350+ PA by OPS and discovered that Nate's .756 is 53rd of the 117 listed, sandwiched between Alfonso Soriano and James Loney. Pablo Sandoval was 10th at .909, just behind Carlos Beltran (.910). The rest of the lineup was terrible: Cody Ross 66th (.730), Jeff Keppinger 97th (.677), Aubrey Huff 98th (.676), Andres Torres 111th (.643), and Aaron Rowand 115th (.621). Nate, when given the everyday job, delivered the goods. He wasn't a superstar, but he wasn't asked to be one, either. More important than that, he didn't stink. I know, I know, damning with faint praise. But he didn't. The other guys did stink, and that matters. Note that four of those names are no longer on the team.

I have good feelings about Schierholtz and 2012. He's under team control (arb-eligible this year, FA in 2015), he's not quite 28 (February), and his game is still improving. We've seen his tremendous glove and the value it delivers to the team, now we hope to see his bat show more polish and consistency. He has over 200 more games played in the minors than majors (and over twice as many PA) so he is still developing. I think we saw a lot of positives before the injury and I'm expecting more of the same. If I've learned anything over the years, it is to appreciate what a player can do rather than what he cannot. And that a player who has never had a full season has not had a real chance to reach his full potential. Nate can give the Giants solid production, speed on the bases, and range and athleticism in the field with a deadly goddamn cannon to boot. He needs to stay healthy, be steady, and play his game. If he can do that the 2012 Giants will be much improved over the 2011 version.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year!

Here's a superb shot from Artolog taken from the 2008 season, when Tim went 18-5.

This was one of the five losses, coming against the Brew Crew. Tim was down 2-0 in the 7th and hit Richie Weeks, gave up a single to JJ Hardy and a 3-run homer to Ryan Braun. The Giants wound up losing 7-4, coming up with two in the 8th and two in the 9th.

Here's hoping for a bit more run support for Tim in 2012!