Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What's wrong with the playoff format?

Zito breaking bats? Really?

Here is the absolutely typical early spring training story when damn near anything seems possible. In this case, it's Andrew Baggarly -- who should know better -- writing for CSN Bay Area about how Barry Zito looked My-T fine in workouts yesterday with greater velocity. It sounds like Sandoval really pounded one off of him, however. Good!

I suppose I should give props to Andrew for being productive, but come on. Pardon me while I wonder part of the galaxy Baggs has tele-transported to. I have no optimism whatsoever that Zito will be anywhere near adequate once the bell rings. He's not even as good a pitcher as he was in 2007, and he was pretty dismal then. He's lost velocity, he's lost control and he doesn't perform well under pressure. Does Baggs actually think that there's a single MLB team that places any value on Zito? Would trade anyone for him -- even if the Giants ate the next 2 years of his contract? He appears to be a very nice man, at least to sportswriters. Sort of the anti-Barry Bonds. Bonds was disliked by the writers and loved by the fans. Zito's loved by the writers and disliked by the fans.

Frankly, I want to more about who ELSE might be the No. 5 starter -- Erik Surkamp, Clay Hensley, Brian Burres, Ramon Ortiz, Travis Blackley? There's a good reason why those five guys -- all who have started at the MLB level -- are in camp. It's because the front office is prepped for Zito to embarrass himself once again.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Adios, Stankeye

Paulie Rice from Give Em Some Stankeye is closing down his always interesting blog. I've mentioned Stankeye dozens of times.

I've been updating the blog roll tonight, replacing inactive sites with new ones such as Seed Spitters and Saber by the Bay. Please let me know about other Giant blogs that are worthy of your time and trouble.

Here was what Paulie said about the Jonathan Sanchez-Melky Cabrera trade. I think it's worth another read --

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Smoothing out Runzler

A Giants Win hat tip to Lefty Malo for pointing out this very interesting post by Andrew Baggarly at CSN Bay Area on Dan Runzler's efforts to fine-tune his delivery. I remember being seated along the leftfield line at AT&T Park AKA Mays Field while watching him heat up and thinking "Lord, can this guy bring it." Here's some nice writing by Baggs --

LinkRunzler has something to build upon. Although he ended last season with a 6.26 ERA in 31 games, he strung together his best outings in September. In his last 11 appearances, he didn’t allow an earned run and walked two while striking out five over 5 1/3 innings. His workload increased after Affeldt stabbed his hand while trying to separate frozen hamburger patties.

Did we mention the Giants were snakebitten last season?

He's pitched 83 games over the past three years for the Orange and Black. I'd say Dave Righetti's track record gives me optimism that Dan can straighten out after a somewhat crappy year.

"Once a Giant, always a Giant"

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rowand whining

That's my reaction, at least, to a long story in the Miami Herald about the ungrateful and untalented Aaron Rowand trying to make it on to the Miami roster.

This is a guy who simply could not lay off breaking balls out of the strike zone. He managed to get 16 walks in 2010 and 10 walks in 2011. The reporter for the Herald doesn't bother to ask him why a veteran hitter shunned walks; instead, he lets Rowand go on about how hard it is to hit at AT&T Park.

The Marlins seem seriously committed to winning this year so I'll be surprised if Rowand makes the roster.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Talk about getting a second chance

I'm astounded that the Giants front office is still employing Hensley Meulens as the batting coach after the incredible crappiness of last year's offense. He must have a heck of a good personality.

He blames the lousiness on too much practice in the cage and looking at video -- “So we’re going to minimize our time with video and the cage and concentrate on having a better plan at the plate. Because not only were we late on the fastballs, but we were fooled a lot when we were ahead in the count. They threw Huffy a lot of 1-0 changeups and he chased."

My response -- The 2011 collapse of the offense is partly the fault of the coaching staff. The whole lineup except for Sandoval was chasing pitches they couldn't hit. The logical response would have been "if you're not willing to take crappy pitches, you're not going to be in the lineup."

Angel leading off

Bruce Bochy's given the lead off spot to Angel Pagan -- who was more than decent in 2010 and became less so last year. Chris Haft's story on has an astounding stat --

The Giants were below average in virtually every facet, beginning with the leadoff spot. Their No. 1 hitters finished next to last in the NL in batting (.232, compared with the league average of .268) and on-base percentage (.292, below the .331 league average).

Man, that's lousy. Pagan had a 3.3 WAR in 2009, a 5.1 WAR in 2010 and a lousy 0.2 WAR last year, including a .322 OBP.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What's not to love, Giants fans?

Here's Andrew Baggarly's recent tweet

Pablo Sandoval did way more swinging this winter than last, and it shows. He's putting on a display.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bud the Loser Selig

Rob Manfred has gone off on the arbitrator who ruled against MLB and tossed out Ryan Braun's suspension for using banned substances. Like Bud "Big Baby" Selig, he's crying how MLB "Vehemently disagrees." All I can say is "get a grip. Eat a salad. Calm the hell down." Ray Ratto of CSNBay Area has a pretty good column about it.Here's the end of it -- “Vehemently disagrees?” It’s your system, Robbo, the one your negotiators demanded. Is it only a good system when you win?

There was only one response baseball could have had here – “Braun and his people followed our procedures, and was found by an arbitrator to have not used any proscribed substances. This finding is binding, and he will report to Milwaukee’s camp as scheduled without repercussion.”

The end. Not an adversary procedure, but a fact-finding mission where facts were found.

But no, MLB went bat-guano nuts that someone outside the structure had the power to thwart its will, which was for Braun to be punished, damn it. And if that’s the name of the game, the players union may want to rethink the drug testing part of the next collective bargaining agreement.

Now it’s certainly possible that Manfred was speaking in the heat of the moment – if you forget that he was issuing a statement, which could be vetted and shaped to take any form. This was the form MLB wanted it to take – “Braun won, and we’re pissed about it.”

Then again, this is what happens when labor and management think everything is about the adversarial rather than the cooperative. This is what happens when it’s all about “I have to win so you can lose.”

And this proves yet again that Major League Baseball is more about punishing players than cleaning up the game. Ryan Braun was found to be clean in the instance in which MLB claimed he was guilty. That should have been the end of it.

Instead, we learned what we needed to learn about MLB’s position on drugs. It is the same as its position on everything else. “If we don’t win, you’re bad people.” If it was capable of shame, this would be an excellent time to exhibit some.

Joe the Loser Torre

I'm going to say right here and now that I'm delighted that Joe Torre won't be buying the Dodgers, according to the LA Times.

It continues to burn me up that he was gutless in his brief time working for Bud Selig and refused to do anything about changing the rules so that incompetent psycho dingbats like Scott Cousins can assault potential Hall of Fame catchers like Buster Posey with no consequences other than my eternal scorn. Joe took the lame approach and decided that there was no need to do anything.

Go away, Joe. Here's what he had to say while he was still working for Selig -- “Well, listen, I knew it was more emotional than anything else,” Torre said last week. “None of us like to see that. But I really haven’t heard anything that would encourage me to change anything or recommend a change. Being a catcher for a lot of years, I knew what the consequences were.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Aardsma in pinstripes

This guy was once pretty hot tuna. He made it to the Giants a year before Matt Cain.

David Aardsma, a one-time Giants prospect, has signed a deal with the Yanks even though he's still recovering from Tommy John surgery and probably won't pitch until 2013, according to the story. Man, do GMs love to stockpile pitchers!

He was damn lousy when he broke in 2004 in 10 games for the Orange and Black with a 6.75 ERA. You're a real Giants fan if you remember that he and Jerome Williams were swapped to the Cubs in 2005 for LaTroy Hawkins. David became a closer in 2009 and 2010 with the Mariners and racked up 69 saves in the two years. He had a 2.0 WAR in 2009. But he didn't pitch at all last year.

As for LaTroy, he got traded to the Orioles for Steve Kline. And Kline is the guy who threw the last pitch for the Cards in the 2002 season, giving up a single to Kenny Lofton in Game 5 of the NLCS. Giants Win was there.

Kline retired in a Giants uni after pitching two seasons out of the pen.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Another early guy -- the Panda

I do love guys showing up to spring training before the required date. Pablo Sandoval was out there today before I got up, according to Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury-News. I'd be telling a lie if I said I wasn't impressed.

Let's just take a look at my guestimate of what his numbers would have been like had he played a full season --

152 games, 580 plate appearances, 527 ABs, 72 runs, 158 hits, 37 doubles, 4 triples, 31 HRs, 88 RBIs.

He's only 25, so those numbers could get a lot better over the next three seasons.

Getting the bad stuff out of the way

If you read Twitter, you probably know already that The Franchise AKA Tim Lincecum had some back pains today. Chris Haft of has a "no big deal" story on the official web site, which calmed me down.

Man, if this were serious, I'd be in a terrible mood but that's just me. I just figure these kind of small injuries are par for the course over a long season so I figure that it's better now -- while hoping to the baseball gods that it's nothing serious.

He's pitched 1,028 innings in five seasons -- over 212 in each of the last four.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The pain of 2011

How much longer will Buster catch?

Deadspin has a long post by Barry Pachesky about Posey and whether the era of the catcher who can hit may be coming to an end. He contends that the wear and tear of catching is what shortens careers -- although I'd make a strong argument that psychotic dingbats like Scott Cousins play a larger role than previously acknowleged.

Here's the conclusion --

These are your choices: you can start making the transition early, like with Victor Martinez. Martinez averaged 132 games behind the plate over his first four full big league seasons, and 69 over his next four. Or maybe you don't make the transition until it's too late, like with Joe Mauer, who's shaping up to be the Giants' worst-case scenario with Buster Posey. Mauer's never had that one bone-rattling collision like Posey, but he hasn't needed one to start breaking down. Over the past three years, Mauer has missed time with ailments like back pain, sacroiliac joint inflammation, knee inflammation, a hyperextended neck, and the mysterious and ominous "bilateral leg weakness." Mauer made his debut at first base last season, and is expected to spend more time there this year. But Mauer's only 28 years old, he's already missed serious time, no one's sure what his baseline effectiveness will be from here out, and the Twins still owe him $161 million.

So that's what Posey could be looking at, whether or not he blocks the plate: a decline beginning when most players are entering their primes. Bengie Molina says Posey's far too valuable to let catch, and he's right. If you've got a young hitter who shows every indication of having a long and productive career ahead of him, why wouldn't you remove him from harm's way? Catching is the natural enemy of the long and productive career.

"I wasn't blocking the plate"

Buster Posey discusses the May 25 assault by Scott Cousins in an interview with Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

The comment was made in the context of Bruce Bochy's insistence that Posey not block the plate this year. Let me offer a big "thanks for nothing" to worthless Joe Torre for not doing anything about changing this -- allowing psychopaths like Cousins to attempt to end players' careers with no penalty, save for the scorn of fans like me and ex-catchers like Bochy and Mike Matheny -- while Torre was working for MLB.

Note to Scott Cousins -- if you're not going to admit that you were wrong, then please please please stop whining about how Buster won't talk to you and how unfair all this is to you. Buster Posey appears to be OK with moving on, according to Schulman -- Posey accepts that Cousins is sorry about what happened but reiterated he sees no need to talk to the player who ended his season.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The early guys

I'm always impressed when guys show up early for spring training. Andrew Baggarly of CSNBay Area has a long writeup about one of them -- Brandon Belt. Brandon Crawford, Nate Schierholtz and Emmanuel Burriss arrived early, too --

--It was a pretty typical reporting day for pitchers and catchers, who simply have to check in with staff and schedule a physical. There were a fair amount of position players here, too. Belt, Brandon Crawford and Nate Schierholtz were hitting in the cage before 8 a.m. Emmanuel Burriss is here, too. He spent all offseason working out in San Francisco -- hopefully on his flexibility, as he’ll probably be asked to play five or six positions this spring.

Weight, weight

The first big story from the Giants spring training comes from Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle -- Ryan Vogelsong has a back injury from weight lifting about 10 days ago. No wonder the Giants were signing up pitchers like Ramon Ortiz and Travis Blackley in the last few days in the hopes that someone else can be the "back from the dead" story of 2012.

You can count yourself as a real Giants fan if you remember Blackley's already pitched for the Orang and Black.

Blackley was lousy for the Mariners in 2004 and started two games for the Giants in 2007. His last appearance in a big league uni was the next to the last game of the 2007 season for the Giants at Chavez Ravine (or Latrine if you prefer). He got hammered and didn't make it out the 4th. Here's the lineup that day (Lewis and Alonzo were the only ones still getting playing time in the bigs last year) --

Dave Roberts CF-LF

Kevin Frandsen SS

Randy Winn RF

Ray Durham 2B

Fred Lewis LF

Daniel Ortmeier 1B

Pedro Feliz 3B

Eliezer Alfonzo C

Travis Blackley P

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Big 5 questions (actually 6)

Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle posts the five big spring training questions for the Giants. Except there are six --

1. Posey
2. 700 runs
3. Belt
4. Last year in the Orange and Black for Cain and Zito
5. Wilson's elbow

Here are my big 5
1. Crawford
2. Cabrera
3. Pagan
4. Vogelsong
5. Sandoval

Friday, February 17, 2012

Not for the faint of heart

Maybe this would have been written differently had Matt Cain been signed already. Since it's the offseason, I missed it but Where Have You Gone, Joe has a brutal takedown of Brian Sabean. He theorizes why free agents don't want to sign in San Francisco. He compares the Giants with the Angels and concludes this way --

Now if you're a free agent, and know for sure you will get your money someplace, where are you going to sign? With a GM who lashes out at young players under control and if they speak up, ships them out? With a club who is managed by a guy who is more interested in clubhouse peace with his clubhouse cronies and pets, than bringing along younger players with upside? With an organization who is serious about winning? With a franchise that will cut front-office bait if the guy in the suit is provably over-matched? If you're an impact free-agent do you really want to cast in with Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy and Barry Zito and a couple of promising minimum wagers in the field and a faceless ownership group that is forever whining about money and rainy day funds; just like Stoneham and Lurie?

Well, Do You?
Or do you want to go someplace where the ownerships demonstrates every off-season, that this year is their year to win, not maintain the status quo, hope to compete, get lucky once every 20 years and fill the seats while the longest tenured bureaucrat continues to call out and insult young players, play favorites with has-beens, and generally act and behave like Boss Tweed? Carlos Beltran, Vlad Guerrero, Jeff Kent, said no way; and those are the ones we know about. So. Do you feel lucky? Well, do you?

71 showing up at camp

Alex Pavlovic at the Mercury News posts at the Extra Baggs blog the list of the 40-man roster and the 31 non-roster invites. Here they are --


Jeremy Affeldt (41)
Madison Bumgarner (40)
Matt Cain (18)
Santiago Casilla (46)
Hector Correa (86)
Steve Edlefsen (65)
Clay Hensley (34)
Tim Lincecum (55)
Javier Lopez (49)
Guillermo Mota (59)
Danny Otero (43)
Sergio Romo (54)
Dan Runzler (45)
Eric Surkamp (47)
Ryan Vogelsong (32)
Brian Wilson (38)
Barry Zito (75)

Buster Posey (28)
Hector Sanchez (29)
Chris Stewart (37)
Eli Whiteside (22)

Ehire Adrianza (78)
Brandon Belt (9)
Emmanuel Burriss (2)
Brandon Crawford (35)
Charlie Culberson (33)
Mike Fontenot (14)
Conor Gillaspie (50)
Aubrey Huff (17)
Brett Pill (6)
Freddy Sanchez (21)
Pablo Sandoval (48)
Ryan Theriot (5)
Angel Villalona (61)

Melky Cabrera (53)
Tyler Graham (56)
Roger Kieschnick (8)
Angel Pagan (16)
Francisco Peguero (62)
Nate Schierholtz (12)


Travis Blackley
Brian Burres (62)
Jake Dunning (71)
Justin Fitzgerald (72)
Austin Fleet (73)
Stephen Harrold (74)
Heath Hembree (60)
Andrew Kown (76)
Mitch Lively (77)
Shane Loux (78)
Jean Machi (79)
Ramon Ortiz (43)
David Quinowski (80)
Wilmin Rodriguez (81)
Seth Rosin (82)
Shawn Sanford (83)
Matt Yourkin (77(

Tommy Joseph (68)
Andrew Susac (67)
Jackson Williams (51)

Joaquin Arias (13)
Chris Dominguez (85)
Nick Noonan (64)
Joe Panik (66)

Gregor Blanco (7)
Gary Brown (10)
Justin Christian (51)
Juan Perez (88)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Blackley, Christian in the Orange and Black

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

16-1 on another World Series title

Thanks to Raising (Matt) Cain for pointing it out -- the Bovada sports betting site puts the Giants chances of winning their second World Series in 3 years at 16-1, 7th best in the MLB and behind only the Phils and Marlins in the N.L. The fact that the Giants and Phils have the best pitching staffs on paper has a lot to do with how highly ranked they are...

By the way, I've never bet on baseball. I take enough chances driving to games in San Francisco and Los Angeles on Friday nights. Mostly, I'm glad that the Dodgers are going off at 40-1. Eat it, Dodger fans.




Ramon Ortiz in the Orange and Black

Well, this is blast from the past. Ramon Ortiz has signed a minor league deal with the Giants, reports

If he makes the club, the Giants will be the 8th MLB team that he's been on.

Ramon Ortiz actually has a World Series win from Game 3 in 2002 against the Giants -- the 10-4 loss in which Livan Hernandez pitched pathetically. Everyone in the world could see that Livan had nothing left in the tank except for Dusty Baker.

Ramon used to be decent as an Angels starter in 2001, 2002 and 20o4. He's been lousy in recent years. There's no other way to read this as anything other than giving the Giants options to deal with inevitable failure of Barry Zito as the fifth starter.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Where's Rowand?

Very amusing recap by SB Nation of the worst 10 swings of 2011

I noticed it from this tweet --

Can't get enough of these. RT It's a minor miracle that Aaron Rowand didn't make this list

Monday, February 13, 2012

Opening day lineup for the Orange and Black

Chris Haft of thinks it will look like this. I agree with him -- though I wish Brandon Belt were starting --

1. Pagan LF
2. Sanchez 2B
3. Sandoval 3B
4. Posey C
5. Cabrera CF
6. Huff 1B
7. Schierholtz RF
8. Crawford SS

The projected rotation has three guys who won 13, one who won 12 and one who won 3 for a total of $6 million per. Everyone else is stellar.

Projected rotation
1. Tim Lincecum, 13-14, 2.74 ERA in 2011
2. Matt Cain, 12-11, 2.88 ERA in 2011
3. Madison Bumgarner, 13-13, 3.21 ERA in 2011
4. Ryan Vogelsong, 13-7, 2.71 ERA in 2011
5. Barry Zito, 3-4, 5.87 ERA in 2011

Here's the key three in the pen --
Projected bullpen
Closer: Brian Wilson, 36/41 saves, 3.11 ERA in 2011
RH setup man: Sergio Romo, 1.50 ERA in 2011
LH setup man: Javier Lopez, 2.72 ERA in 2011

At this point, Haft stops guessing who the other nine will be but he thinks that Hector Sanchez, Erik Surkamp and Heath Hembree will make it the SF before the end of the season.

My guess on the other nine -- Belt, Fontenot, Theriot, Stewart and Whiteside on the bench; Affeldt, Hemsley, Mota and Runzler in the pen.

Why three catchers? I guess that Bochy is going to want to rest Posey at every opportunity. I agree with that thinking. I just wish that the backups could hit.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Spring training under way

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The other Angel in the Orange and Black

I'm talking about Angel Villalona, not Angel Pagan. Andrew Baggarly has posted at his Extra Baggs blog that Villalona -- the former top prospect arrested for murder in 2009 in the Dominican -- has been cleared by the US government to come into the United States. The Giants front office expects him to be in Scottsdale for spring training on Feb. 23 along with the rest of the position players.

Baggarly reports that he's not expected to make the opening day roster, given his missing the last two seasons. But here's a tantalizing mention of his power -- He’s considered a premier, power-hitting first baseman and has been working out at the Giants’ complex in the Dominican; according to scouting reports, he still has plenty of the bat speed that made him a standout talent as a teenager.

By the way, there's no mention of all this on the Giants web site, which just posted a list of the Giants top 20 prospects without including Villalona -- to whom the Giants paid $2.1 million as a 16-year-old prospect. The top 5 are Brown, Francisco Peguero, Heath Hembree, Erik Surkamp and Tommy Joseph. Sounds like all five will be in San Francisco at some point this season.

By the way, Baggarly himself is no longer at the San Jose Mercury News even though he posted the Villalona info through the Extra Baggs blog. He's joined Comcast Sports Net Bay Area as of earlier this week.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A: Willie Mays and Barry Bonds

Mr. Singles in the Orange and Black

Here's a strange stat -- who led the National League in singles in 2008, 2009 and 2010? The answer is Ryan Theriot. Augustin Kennedy at Bleacher Report has a good post about how he believes that Theriot is actually the best offseason acquisition for the Orange and Black even though it looks as if Freddy Sanchez and Brandon Crawford will the starting middle infielders.

He has very little power but he's been pretty durable over the years. He played 132 games last year and that was the fewest in since 2006. He had his best years in 2007 and 2008 with WAR scores of 1.7 and 1.8 -- which was above any offensive player on the Giants last year except for Sandoval.

Well, he strikes as a low-cost replacement in the middle infield, but not exactly what you need to win a pennant. I'm still a bit annoyed over the failure to sign Carlos Beltran.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Nothing like the Zito deal

FanGraphs' Dave Cameron has a fascinating post about the worst 10 signings/transactions of the off-season. Fortunately, none of them were made by the Giants. They include the Jonathan Papelpon deal with the Phils, the Prince deal with the Tigers, the Joe Nathan deal with Texas, the Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle deals with the Marlins, the Gio Gonzalez trade and signing and the Michael Cudyer deal with the Rox. Here's why I chose the Zito headline --

LinkMajor League teams are getting smarter. In prior years, we would have had easy pickings like the Barry Zito contract, the Carlos Lee signing, and even last year’s Vernon Wells acquisition. This year, there were some guys who got too much money, but there weren’t many instances of teams just paying through the nose for guys who just aren’t very good.

Here's the verbiage from his 10 best transactions piece, which said that the Beltran deal was the best all winter -- Losing Albert Pujols hurts, but adding Beltran and shifting Lance Berkman back to first base will cushion the blow and help keep the Cardinals right in the thick of things in the NL Central. The combination of Beltran’s offense and the upgrade on defense by getting Berkman out of the outfield will allow the team to replace most of what Pujols gave them on the field last year, and the fact that it only required a two year deal to land a premium hitter to replace Pujols keeps the team in position to stay competitive for the long term as well. Like with Reyes and Oswalt, there are durability concerns, but the price tag is so low that Beltran could spend weeks on the DL and still easily earn his salary. The Cardinals could have had a disastrous off-season, but they smartly targeted Beltran after Pujols left for Los Angeles, and with the moves they made, the defending champs may even have a better team next year than they did in 2011.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Bill Hall in pinstripes

The NY Daily News reports that the Yankees have signed Bill Hall, who was flat out awful in a Giants uni. Maybe a move back to the American League will help. After all, the Yankees did find some playing time for Cody Ransom last year, too

How bad was Hall as Giant? Try a -0.7 WAR (wins above replacement0 in just 41 plate appearances. He got six singles in 38 ABs for a slash line of .158/.220/.211. He got released by the Astros, who were dismal, and brought in a week later after Freddy Sanchez ended his year with an injury and then got DFAd six weeks later.

He did hit 18 HRs in 2010 for the Bosox, hit two for the Astros last year and none -- zero -- for the Gmen. I'd say he's probably done at the tender age of 33. He managed to have two pretty good years with the Brew Crew in 2005 and 2006 (WARs of 2.9 and 4.3) but that was a long time ago...

As for Cody Ransom, he's managed to stick with 4 teams since the Giants let him go at the end of the nightmare Game 161 in 2004. The Dbacks had him last year and he was awful but they've resigned him for 2012 despite him having a -0.4 WAR last year in a mere 37 plate appearances.

How do these marginal guys keep getting on teams?Link

Monday, February 06, 2012

Penny to Softbank?

Count yourself a real Giants fan if you remember Brad Penny in a pretty big Giants uni.

Brad Penny, who turned in a memorable six-start stint for the Orange and Black back in 2009, is off to a Japanese team called the Softbank Hawks.

Brad went 4-1 in 41 innings while in a Giants uni. He went 8 shutout innings against the Phils in his first start in a 4-0 vic on the road. Then he won again 5 days later at home in a 9-4 vic over San Diego. Then he won again in a 7-3 vic over the Dodgers, ending a 4-game losing streak.

At this point, with 3 vics in 12 days, Giant fans were thinking "What a steal!" Of course, we got disabused of that notion in his next start -- a 12-1 blowout at Chavez Latrine where Brad didn't make it out of the 3rd inning in a reminder of why the Bosox had let him go.

At that point, the Gmen were pretty much done but Penney turned in ANOTHER stellar start in a 3-2 loss --pitching 8 innings only to see the pen give up two in the 9th to the Cubbies. Finally, with SF eliminated mathematically, Penny pitched once more and it was a complete game masterpiece -- 4-1 over the Snakes in only 107 pitches.

The Giants had picked him up off the scrap heap on Aug. 31 that year, four days after the Bosox had released him. He signed with the Cards for $7.5 million and had a terrible year, going only 55 innings with a 3-4 record.

He was pretty bad last season with the Tigers, racking up a -0.4 WAR in 181 innings and capped the season off by giving up the final 5 runs in Game 6 of the Rangers 15-5 blowout in what turned out to the last game of the ALCS. He got five men out and gave up seven hits.

Is Brad thinking about Ryan Vogelsong and CJ Wilson and a return to the MLB?

By the way, I know I complain about Bud Selig, but I'm grateful that he hasn't let MLB teams sell naming rights...yet

Sunday, February 05, 2012

A good omen for the Giants?

Maybe, the New York Giants winning the Super Bowl in a very odd game is a good portent for the San Francisco Giants. For me, the baseball season officially starts at halftime of the Super Bowl when several of my good friends -- a Bosox fan, Twins fan and Mets fan -- ditch the halftime festivities for a game of catch in the park, featuring a real MLB baseball that I snagged in 2002 at a Giants-Padres game on a Mark Kotsay foul ball off a Livan Hernandez pitch. So, there are two things to remember --

1. Dodgers suck. Always have. Always will.
2. Let's go, Giants!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Giants = 13 out of 30

That's what Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune thinks. Hard to know how he arrived at the conclusion as there's no mention of Aubrey Huff or Brandon Crawford -- both likely starters. He's of a mind that the pitching will stay stellar and that Melky and Angel are the full-time starters in the outfield. He does think that Gary Brown is going to be in SF during the second half of the season. Here are his six main points of what the Giants need to do to get to the same level of production in 2010, when they scored 697 runs (they scored 570 last year) --

1. Posey must return with his rebuilt left ankle to play at the level he did when he ascended to the majors in 2010. If he could play 140 games and recreate his .862 OPS from his rookie season, he would generate about 55 extra-base hits, 20-something home runs and maybe 90 RBIs, depending on how the guys in front of him — probably Angel Pagan, Freddy Sanchez and Pablo Sandoval — hit.

2. Sandoval's improved conditioning and performance in 2011 earned him a three-year contract. He needs to stay healthy enough to play 153 games as he did in his first full season with the Giants (2009). If he raises his game just a tick, taking his .909 OPS from last season and going beyond the .943 OPS he had in '09, he and Posey could be dynamic hitting back-to-back.

3. Brandon Belt must hit like he should. A natural hitter who has flashed the Will Clark gene in his brief minor-league career, he stumbled to a .225 average in 63 games last season, in part because he was used out of position in left field. He should be more comfortable as the regular first baseman and could elevate the Giants' production at the position into the middle of the pack. They ranked at the bottom a year ago, along with the Dodgers, Pirates, Padres and A's.

4. Melky Cabrera, acquired from the Royals for left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, must retain his 2011 form to ensure there's no dropoff in right field. The stretch-run trade for Carlos Beltran helped the Giants finish 13th in the majors with an .801 OPS in right (where Nate Schierholz and Cody Ross had disappointed). Cabrera never had produced at that level until last season.

5. The Giants need to win the Pagan-for-Andres Torres trade. They swapped late-blooming center fielders with the Mets once they established Torres' 16-homer 2010 was an outlier, not an indication of things to come. Pagan had a pedestrian .694 OPS a year ago but stole 32 bases while having only 18 more strikeouts than walks (62-44).

6. Speedy outfielder Gary Brown, ranked as the team's best prospect by Baseball America, must contribute in the second half. The Cal State Fullerton product has Tony Campana speed and projects as a high-average hitter with average power. He will be the long-term center fielder, and at age 23 could be advanced quickly, a la Posey.

Weight, weight

I'm guessing that this 2009 Topps card photo was taken during Sandoval's rookie season of 2008. For all I gripe about the front office having a limited grasp on offensive players, it's to their credit that the Giants developed both Sandoval and Buster Posey -- two guys who may be perrenial All-Stars.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt = evil

You don't believe me? A guy gets nearly beaten to death in the Dodger Stadium parking lot and the Dodgers owners says "not our fault" in a court filing?

ESPN has some of the verbiage --

Stow's attorney, Tom Girardi, disagreed with the Dodgers' filing.

"All of these issues that they're raising now have already been raised in the California state court, and they were already denied," Girardi told "It took the court about 14 seconds to say 'baloney.' These are triable issues of fact. And that case is still pending."

Stow suffered a severe brain injury when he was attacked after the Dodgers' home opener against the Giants on March 31. He was hospitalized until October, then moved to a rehabilitation facility.

Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood were charged in the attack, which police described as the culmination of a string of confrontations they had with randomly selected Giants fans at the stadium.

McCourt is in the process of selling the team by April 30.

"I'm not surprised McCourt has been unwilling to settle because in life people make mistakes," Girardi said. How you're judged as a person is what you do after you make a mistake. This guy is just despicable. I wouldn't expect him to do the right thing."

Girardi added that the Stow family remains open to settling its suit against the Dodgers and McCourt before the team is sold, but they have so far been unwilling to do so. He expects the matter to go to trial or be passed on to the team's new owner.

"I think when they get a new owner, someone with integrity, someone who wants to do the right thing, everything will work out fine," Girardi said.

Scraping the hot stove barrel

I guess baseball writers have to write about something in the offseason but this is pretty hard to take. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle has written a puffy piece about the agent who represents psycho Scott Cousins and how groovy they are.

LinkThe agents repeat the assertion that Cousins received death threats, which has never been proven. It doesn't mention that the Buster Posey's career has been jeopardized; it doesn't address the fact that Cousins has never admitted that he's an incompetent runner; it doesn't address the fact that smart former catchers like Mike Matheny have said the rule should be changed.

Bottom line -- the SF Chronicle is being edited by shovel.

Willie Mays trivia

Just what I need to brighten up a winter's day. Here's one from my Giants calender -- Who are the three players who have led off All-Star games with homeruns?

The answer -- Lou Boudreau (1942), Willie Mays (1965) and Joe Morgan (1977).

The 1965 game was part of Willie's second MVP year.He took Milt Pappas deep to left field at Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis. Later in the first, Joe Torre hit a two-run homer. The NL won 6-5.