Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year - and thanks!

Good Lord, what a year this was to be a Giants fan. Not everyone thought it was a great year, however. Rob Neyer of SB Nation has nominated several poorly written pieces for worst sportswriting of the year - including one particularly embarrassing pre-World Series piece out of Detroit by Jeff Seidel -- 

The insight free piece takes Giants fans to task for eating garlic fries, which are damn tasty in my experience -- and mocks us for suporting a stadium that's a little different -- 
 
But there is no way the Detroit Tigers can lose to these guys. They would never live it down.
First of all, the Giants have a Build-A-Bear Workshop in the stands behind leftfield at AT&T Park. Seriously. How the heck can you lose to a team where the fans can go to a game and stuff a teddy bear and then buy a cute little outfit?
Can you imagine that in Detroit? .... They sit there -- decked out in orange and black, waving orange towels -- watching their Giants while eating garlic fries, crab sandwiches on grilled sourdough bread, clam chowder, fried calamari, sweet potato fries with cinnamon and chipotle sprinkle, and clove garlic chicken sandwiches. Others can be found drinking margaritas, Irish coffee and an assortment of wines.Can you imagine eating clam chowder and drinking wine in the bleachers at old Tiger Stadium?You'd get thrown out on your tush. Just because.
And here's part of Neyer's response -- Just in case anyone's forgotten ... the Tigers tore down the bleachers at old Tiger Stadium. Along with the rest of the place. I'm all for tradition and beers and brats and all the rest of it, but the Tigers killed those traditions when they knocked down the best baseball stadium in the world. So give me a break, please.
Of course there's lots more. Which isn't to say that a Detroit writer couldn't write an amusing column about baseball in San Francisco, California. This just wasn't that column. It's like that Seinfeld episode where Tim Whatley converts to Judaism, and Jerry suspects he did it just for the jokes.
"And this offends you," a priest asks Jerry, "as a Jewish person?"
"No," Jerry replies. "It offends me as a comedian."
Seidel's piece, full of one-sentence paragraphs and tired stereotypes, offends me as a writer. I understand that almost everybody occasionally phones one in. But during the World Series?

So if you've gotten to the end of this, let me say THANKS FOR READING. Neyer's column is a good lesson to me to 1. Keep it interesting 2. Keep it to the point and 3. Support the San Francisco Giants. 

LET'S GO GIANTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

You've come a long way, baby

That was a pretty silly ad slogan back in the late 1960s for some kind cigarette for women. For some reason, I think it was Virginia Slims ....

I was surfing around the blogroll and checked out China Baseball Baseball, which had an interesting point  in a post written by Gregory Wong shortly after the World Series win by referencing the Opening Day lineup of 2008 -- 

Dave Roberts LF 3 0 1 0 0 0 .333 .667









   Daniel Ortmeier PH-1B 1 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000









Rich Aurilia 1B 4 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000









   Erick Threets P 0 0 0 0 0 0











Randy Winn RF 4 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000









Bengie Molina C 4 0 1 0 0 1 .250 .500









Ray Durham 2B 3 0 0 0 1 2 .000 .250









Aaron Rowand CF 3 0 2 0 0 0 .667 1.333









Jose Castillo 3B 3 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000









Brian Bocock SS 1 0 0 0 2 0 .000 .667









Barry Zito P 0 0 0 0 0 0











   Fred Lewis PH 1 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000









   Merkin Valdez P 0 0 0 0 0 0











   Keiichi Yabu P 0 0 0 0 0 0











   Eugenio Velez PH-LF


As I said, Gregory Wong has a fine post 

Here's the end of it --  All you really need to remember is this was a championship team that once featured an infield with Charlie Culberson, Emmaneul Burriss and Brett Pill. 


For now, let me just reiterate my favorite memory from the season. The Giants were down 2-0 to the Reds. Bronson Arroyo had just 1 hit the Giants. The Reds had 3 chances at home to eliminate the Giants. In game 3, Homer Bailey carried a no hitter into the 6th inning, and also 1 hit the Giants. With the score 1-1 in the 9th inning, Aroldis Chapman struckout Pablo Sandoval to send the game to the bottom of the 9th inning, where the Reds could win the series with just one run.



The final 3 games of that series provided the most exciting, nerve wracking, vomit inducing innings of baseball I’ve ever watched. So many little plays that could have gone either way completely changed the series. Zach Cosart and Scott Rolen, two of the most best Reds defenders, made critical fielding blunders. Brandon Phillips inexplicably tried to advance to third from first on a wild pitch. After game 2, Marty Lurie was criticizing the Giants for not coming out of the dugout to thank the fans for a great season. In retrospect, it would be hilarious if they did that.


Less than 3 weeks later, the Giants swept the Tigers to capture their 2nd World Series title in 3 years. Soak this one in a while.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Petco shrinking a bit

Get ready for Denver-like scores out of San Diego. Well, maybe not 17-14, but more like 9-7. 

It got announced in October and I guess I wasn't paying attention -- the Padres are bringing in the fences in 2013. I guess I missed the story in all the excitement about the Giants surviving the NLDS and NLCS and sweeping the World Series.

I'm sure it must be a problem with getting free agent hitters to sign. Per Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune, they're also putting seats on top of the RF wall -- something like the Arcade seats at AT&T Park, which have a fine view but are damn chilly at night  

The Dads hit 121 HRs in 2012 - third lowest in the NL and 18 behind the Giants, who had the lowest MLB total. The Giants did score 718 runs, which was 6th highest in the NL, which shows that homers aren't the definitive offensive stat.

Scott Hairston in the Orange and Black?

That's what Trevor Cole at Giants Baseball Blog proposes as a way to get a bigger righthanded bat for the Giants. Trevor dopes out the 25-man roster, which includes Brett Pill, Francisco Peguero and Jean Machi. Hairston has a knack for just killing the Giants, so at least he'd stop doing that if he wound up in a Giants uni. Here's the Hairston part of the post -- 

 One of the big spots that I'd like to see them address most is finding another right-handed bat in the outfield. They did bring back Andres Torres earlier this month to add depth to the outfield, but if they could manage to find a right-hander with some punch, that would really round out this roster in my opinion. The one name remaining that I've been monitoring since free agency started is Scott Hairston, and he's still sitting out there waiting to find a new home. I know the Giants are pretty much at their budget for 2013 already, which makes another significant singing unlikely, but I think a right-handed bopper like Hairston makes enough of an impact to warrant a slight budget increase.

  He had a career high of 20 HRs in 2012 as a Met with a 1.5 WAR; he's totalled 7.2 in WAR over nine seasons. Despite the Giant-killing HRs over the years, he's not an impressive guy. He'll be 33 next year.

Bengie coaching the Cards

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Strange but true Orange and Black postseason

Jayson Stark of ESPN has a long but satisfying recap of all the oddities of the 2012 posteason. Here are a couple of my faves -- 

• After the Giants fell behind the Cardinals in the NLCS three games to one, they won every game they played. They outscored the Cardinals and Tigers, 36-7. They sent 234 consecutive hitters to the plate without any of them having to hit with their team trailing. Their pitching staff compiled an ERA of 0.98. And their starters gave up a TOTAL of five runs in seven starts -- or as many as Verlander allowed in the first four innings of Game 1 of the World Series.
 - In 71 games, 259 at-bats and four and a half months from May 2 to Sept. 18, Pablo Sandoval hit a total of three home runs. Then he hit three home runs in three at-bats in Game 1 of the World Series, which was started by Justin Verlander. Of course he did.
• The Tigers went 33 days in September and October without losing a home game and were shut out twice all season. So what happened in the World Series? They were shut out two games in a row and lost both games they played at home.
• In the first three games of this World Series, Giants starters allowed a TOTAL of one run. The last time any team's rotation did that over any three consecutive World Series games was 107 years ago -- when the 1905 Giants did it in Games 3, 4 and 5. Christy Mathewson pitched two of those games. Christy Mathewson.
• Giants pitchers drove in a run in four postseason games in a row. No Yankee drove in a run in three postseason games in a row.
 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Strange but true, 2012

Jayson Stark of ESPN has a long column about the oddities of the 2012 season and mentions Matt Cain's perfecto-- 

• My other favorite no-hitter of 2012 was Matt Cain's June 13 perfect game against the Astros -- because it was saved by one of the most astonishing catches you will ever see. That was an insane, diving, eat-some-warning-track-for-dessert seventh-inning Web Gem by the right fielder, Gregor Blanco, on a Jordan Schafer shot to what can only be described as nearly dead center field. So what makes it so strange but true? Because, according to Baseball Info Solutions, no right fielder has caught a ball hit that hard to that part of any park in any other game over the past three seasons.
• Has anyone mentioned yet that all those no-hitters can be hazardous to a guy's health? Twice in 12 days, no-hitters were the chief culprit in sending two different players to the disabled list -- just not the guys who pitched them. First, Mets reliever Ramon Ramirez charged out of the bullpen on the way to celebrating Santana's no-hitter -- and blew out his hamstring. A week and a half later, Aubrey Huff leaped over the dugout railing after Cain's perfect game -- and forgot to nail the landing. He sprained his knee -- and started only one more game the rest of the season.

What's up with Michael Bourn?

I am joining Eric Sams at Fangraphs in being perplexed why there's not more interest in this guy, who was worth 6 wins last year. It seems that the Giants have decided that Pagan, Pence and Andres Torres/Gregor Blanco will be enough for 2013. 

I would guess that the asking price is too high -- along with the Giants having committed to Pagan in a major way. Still, Bourn has racked up a pretty fine 19.0 WAR so far in the bigs. Much as I like Blanco and Torres, this guy would be awesome to have in the Orange and Black.  Here's Sams' first paragraph --

  A six-win center fielder is on the market, and our most recent article on the subject is whether or not his agent has waited too long to get him a deal. We don’t know what his asking price is, but the idea that a player coming off a career year and four straight seasons with more than four wins now needs a pillow contract seems to suggest that either there’s a reason to doubt Bourn’s work, or there’s a lack of demand for his services in the market place.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Zito in 2014?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The second hitting coach

Well, you can learn something every day. In this case, it's that having a second hitting coach has become more and more popular, per a pretty good ESPN story by Anna McDonald. She makes a good point --

This offseason, nine teams -- the Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers, White Sox, Phillies, Royals, Rays, Pirates and Reds -- have added a second hitting coach. Several other teams are thinking about hiring an assistant hitting coach before spring training. Before this offseason, only five teams -- the Cardinals, Giants, Padres, Tigers and Braves -- employed an assistant hitting coach. Before this offseason, only five teams -- the Cardinals, Giants, Padres, Tigers and Braves -- employed an assistant hitting coach.

The Giants' assistant hitting coach is a familiar name -- Joe Lefebvre. 

The Dodgers hired John Valentin, who was a pretty fine infielder for the Bosox during the 1990s. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rosario in the Orange and Black

It's odd to type this -- Sandy Rosario is now a Giant. For a guy who's been awful in the MLB, he's certainly drawn plenty of interest in the offsason. So if the Giants are claiming him, someone clearly believes he's still got a shot. Chris Haft of mlb.com has a story on the official team web site-- 


On Oct. 17, Boston claimed him off waivers from Miami. Then on Nov. 28, the Red Sox traded him to the A's for a player to be named later, who turned out to be right-hander Graham Godfrey.
Boston reacquired Rosario through a waiver claim on Dec. 10. Two days later, Rosario went from the Red Sox to the Cubs on another waiver claim.
Rosario made 10 appearances from 2010-12 with the Marlins, posting no record and a 15.26 ERA. That included an 18.00 ERA in four outings this past season.

He's the 9th Rosario to have played in the bigs. 

Count yourself a real Giants fan if you know that one of those is Jimmy Rosario, who was an outfielder for the Orange and Black in 1971 and 1972.  

Cody to the Dbacks

Not the way to San Jose

The Oakland A's won't move to San Jose for at least five years, per the San Jose Merc. They have just asked for a 5-year extension on their lease in Oakland. This means that owner Lew Wolff can keep whining about how he wants and needs to move to San Jose.What a bungler.

Perhaps you can tell that I have no affection for Wolff and for the A's, who damn near caused the Giants to move in 1976 and 1993. The only time I liked the A's was in 1974, when they embarrassed the Dodgers in the World Series.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Schulman votes for "Grade A tool"

The Garv does not belong in the Hall of Fame

Steve Wulf at ESPN embarrasses himself by making a case for the Garv being in the Hall. He doesn't bother to explain that Garvey was an occasional All-Star but nowhere a dominant player with a career WAR of 34.

The 1974 MVP voting was a travesty. Mike Schmidt had the highest WAR with 9.5 and Garv's was 4.3.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It starts with Buster

You can spend days looking at Fangraphs Zips projections for the 2013 Giants --

Player PA RC/27 OPS+ Def WAR No.1 Comp
Buster Posey 583 6.9 139 5 6.5 Joe Torre
Pablo Sandoval 547 5.9 125 2 4.1 Jim Lefebvre
Angel Pagan 610 4.9 103 4 3.5 Mookie Wilson
Brandon Belt 544 5.7 121 1 2.7 Johnny Callison
Gary Brown 654 4.0 89 5 2.1 Lemmie Miller
Hunter Pence 665 4.8 104 -1 2.1 Gary Matthews
Andres Torres 425 4.2 94 4 2.1 Mitch Webster
Joe Panik 640 4.0 87 -6 1.9 Liu Rodriguez
Marco Scutaro 542 4.2 91 0 1.9 Mark Loretta
Conor Gillaspie 566 4.0 91 1 1.8 Ernest Riles
Brandon Crawford 475 3.3 78 6 1.7 Craig Cooper

Dan Szymborski has this to say, including a suggestion that Tim could follow in the footsteps of Flash Gordon  --  The Giants’ success is tied pretty strongly to the health and success of Buster Posey — not merely because only one player (i.e. Mike Trout) posted a higher WAR than Posey in 2012, but also because San Francisco’s catching corps lacks anything like impact talent. At 23, Hector Sanchez certainly has some promise, but even approaching Posey’s production would be a considerable challenge.....

 Allow the author to make all necessary caveats and disclaimers regarding, in particular, Matt Cain‘s ability to prevent runs above and beyond those inputs for which WAR accounts. Adjudged solely by runs allowed per nine innings, Cain was worth 6.1 wins in 2012 — and has exceeded his WAR totals by ca. 10 wins by that measure over the course of his career. He’s good. Everyone acknowledges it. Huz-zah.
Otherwise, besides the departure of Brian Wilson (who was non-tendered) and a couple pieces maybe at the very back end of the bullpen, almost the entire pitching staff returns. Tim Lincecum‘s No. 1 comparable player, Tom Gordon, is notable, perhaps: Gordon was an undersized right-hander who made 203 starts between his age-20 and -29 seasons before becoming a dominant reliever. Lincecum, who enters his own age-29 season, has made 188 starts. Despite an underwhelming season in the rotation, Lincecum was excellent out of the bullpen during the postseason.

 Here are the pitchers --


Player IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA+ WAR No. 1 Comp
Matt Cain 210.7 7.65 2.35 0.73 121 4.2 Freddy Garcia
Madison Bumgarner 209.0 8.40 2.11 0.82 112 3.5 Eric Milton
Tim Lincecum 188.7 9.25 3.72 0.86 98 2.2 Tom Gordon
Ryan Vogelsong 163.7 7.15 3.13 0.82 98 1.9 Mike Torrez
Sergio Romo 52.0 11.08 1.90 0.69 161 1.4 Ugueth Urbina
Barry Zito 135.7 6.04 3.52 0.99 84 0.6 Bob Knepper
Santiago Casilla 56.3 8.15 3.84 0.80 108 0.5 Doug Bochtler
Chris Heston 136.7 5.66 3.29 0.72 82 0.4 Mike LaCoss
Jose Mijares 50.7 8.52 3.73 0.71 107 0.4 Randy Choate
Jeremy Affeldt 55.0 7.85 3.60 0.65 105 0.4 Scott Schoeneweis

Bye-bye Brian Wilson

Lefty Malo has a solid analysis of the Santiago Casilla contract and notes that it means that the door is closing on a deal for Brian Wilson -- unless it's at a deep discount. Here's part of the post. Boldface is mine --

. Casilla threw the ball really well last year in a ton of high-leverage situations. He got a little unlucky with the home runs.

That's no guarantee of future performance, of course, and a 32-year-old arm is a 32-year-old arm, metonymically and tautologically speaking. A three year contract could go kerblooey in year one, and the Giants know it. Odd thing is, they didn't have to pile on like this. Casilla was under contract, due a final year of arbitration eligibility, in 2013. Unlike Affeldt, who would have found plenty of suitors on the open market, Casilla wasn't going anywhere for a while. He was likely to make north of $5 million then hit the free agent market a year from now.

Apparently the Giants felt a slightly discounted Casilla in 2013 was worth the risk of paying roughly the same amount of guaranteed money in 2014 and 2015. That tells me they really really like the look of his medical records, which they are intimate with, and they see the performance we've all seen the past couple years and believe it's repeatable (except for the home runs). It also means they're comfortable with the idea of flushing $10 million down the Jairo-hole in a post-2013 nightmare scenario. They know the risk of human pitching flesh.

Finally, the contract has to be an ominous sign for Brian Wilson. I'm sure the door hasn't closed yet, but one can imagine the Giants pointing to Javy Lopez, Casilla, and Affeldt, all making $4 to $6 million in 2013, and telling Wilson he has to make concessions with his twice-reconstructed elbow.

Trophy tour starting Jan. 8

The World Series trophy tour will start in Sacramento. The Giants web site has just posted the itinerary.

True confession time -- I was at a game in July 2011 with an old friend when we came across the 2010 trophy on the top deck, which included an offer to pose with the trophy and get a photo for $15. The photographer said, "You can look at the photo and then decide if you want to buy it."

It's been on my refrigerator ever since.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Matt The Workhorse

Howard Bender at Fangraphs makes the case that Matt Cain was the most valuable Giant this season--

 When the Giants won the World Series in 2012, there were a number of contributors at whom to point when fans were looking for someone to thank. Buster Posey was an absolute beast in the second half, Sergio Romo stood tall when closing out games and even Tim Lincecum deserved a healthy bit of gratitude for his relief work during the playoffs. But for me, it was Matt Cain who deserved most of the accolades. From his lights-out start of the season to his perfect game in June, over a minor July speed bump, and into an August recovery for the stretch-run, Cain put the team on his back and carried them for the first half until the rest of the team picked it up after the All Star break and then helped them finish of the National League in style.  He was, without questions, the workhorse the Giants needed him to be.

Baseball Reference gives Matt a 3.5 WAR score, while Buster got a 7.2, Melky got 4.7, Angel got 4.0 and Brandon Belt got 2.7. 

Three years of Casilla

The Giants have just signed him to a 3-year $15 million deal, Chris Haft of mlb.com reports on the Giants web site. Seems like a lot for a set-up man but these lines are guaranteed to pick up any Giants fan -- 

Casilla led the reigning World Series champions with 73 appearances and 25 saves in 2012. He was San Francisco's initial replacement for closer Brian Wilson when Tommy John elbow surgery sidelined the three-time National League All-Star in April. Casilla converted 19 of his first 20 save opportunities, but he lost the closer's role after blowing five of nine save chances between June 24 and July 21.
Casilla managed to contribute in a setup role, blanking opponents in 19 of his final 23 games before finishing 7-6 with a 2.84 ERA. He excelled in the postseason, surrendering one earned run in seven innings spanning 11 outings. He was the winning pitcher in the Game 4 World Series clincher at Detroit, recording one out to preserve a 3-3 tie and force extra innings. In three years with the Giants, Casilla is 16-10 with a 2.22 ERA and 33 saves in 174 relief outings.

In the last three years, he's racked WAR scores of 1.5, 1.3 and 0.4. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

How not to handle a star

John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters has his usual fine post in which he expresses amazement as to how poorly the Mets' have front office has bungled contract extension negotiations with Cy Young winner RA Dickey, essentially bashing Dickey and telling him that he got lucky this year. I concur with John's assessment. 

I've had my share of disagreements over the years with front office moves from the Giants but I do give them a lot of credit for not giving into the temptation to go around bashing players. What in the world does it get you to do that? Aren't free agents going to think twice about signing with you? How are your fans going to react?    

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports just tweeted that the Mets have a deal for Dickey --
Sources: , have agreement in principle on Dickey trade. Window open for Jays to extend Dickey, which would complete deal.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Starting lineup for the Orange and Black

1. Pagan, CF
2. Scutaro, 2B
3. Sandoval, 3B
4. Posey, C
5. Pence, RF
6. Belt, 1B
7. Blanco/Torres, LF
8. Crawford, SS

I always have thought that Torres getting his appendix out late in the 2010 season was quite unlucky. I got mine out when I was 12 and it wasted me for a month. Torres wasn't the same guy when he came back and really hasn't been since. Giants fans everywhere are hoping for a bounce-back! 

Chris Quick at Bay City Ball has a decent analysis of the Andres Torres signing. Here's part of it -- 

Hitting aside, the Giants should be able to boast above-average defense in LF. It’s hard to think of many teams with a better defensive corner unit. Torres still appears to be a an above-average defender and he should rate solidly plus in LF. In Torres and Blanco the team has two center fielders playing a corner OF spot and hopefully they’ll be able to make up for the occasional bad Pagan route.
If Torres can hit LHP at a near league average rate, combined with his defense and running skills, the Giants will be extremely happy. Though, at age 35, he’s somewhat of a risky bet. Health issues have often plagued Andres and players don’t get magically healthier as they age. (He missed 21 games in 2012 with calf issues.) He’s not a bad gamble at $2M, but of all the positions on the 2013 Giants, LF clearly looks like the one with the potential for the most headaches.
Welcome back, Andres. Please don’t be terrible.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"These moves lack the pizzaz"

That's how Henry Schulman describes the Giants offseason moves while the Dodgers and Angels have become the Yankees and Red Sox of the West with over $300 million in new contracts over the past few days (Greinke, Hyun-Jin and Hamilton). Then, there's the Giants picking up Andres Torres for $2 million

Torres, who turns 35 next month, is attractive because he can play all three outfield positions, including center if Pagan needs a day off or gets hurt.
Giants executive Bobby Evans said the team is not necessarily done shopping, as Sabean wants to keep looking for ways to improve the club and add depth.
That includes the bullpen, which could gain former A's and Cubs right-hander Chad Gaudin, whom the Giants signed to a minor-league contract with a spring-training invitation. Gaudin turns 30 in March. He can start or relieve and could fill the Guillermo Mota swingman role.
These moves lack the pizzazz of what the team in blue has announced 400 miles down the road.
With the weekend signings of pitchers Zack Greinke ($147 million) and Ryu Hyun-jin ($36 million), the Dodgers have surpassed $600 million in new contract commitments since getting Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto from Boston in August. That total will soar when the Dodgers give pitcher Clayton Kershaw his multiyear deal.
Their 2013 payroll could reach a record $230 million.

Torres has a career WAR of 7.0 -- 5.1 of that in 2010. 

 That made him the second most valuable player on the team behind Aubrey Huff at 5.5.

Welcome back,Andres!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Out-Yankeeing the Yankees

That would be Los Angeles Evildoers aka the Dodgers, who look like they will have a payroll as high as $230 million next season. I got the headline for this post from a comment on a McCovey Chronicle post from Grant Bisbee.Here's part -- 

These Dodgers are going nuts.
And if they don't win the World Series, it will be a total failure.
I love that. There aren't going to be bonus points for them winning the division, for beating the Giants. There's going to be a mindset of "You'd better make your way this small-sample tournament of 10 equally matched teams, or else!", and it will be completely unreasonable. The odds are the Dodgers fail a lot more than they succeed, regardless of what kind of team they build.
As long as they don't actually win the stupid thing, I'm a fan of this new Dodgers strategy. It gives the Giants an even bigger villain to root against. It makes the Dodgers hated by everyone, too. THE BIGGER THEY COME, Y'ALL.
Tommy Lasorda.
Sorry, that didn't mean anything, but the SB Nation editor let me know that I was on word #664, so I had to make the next two count in a post about the Dodgers because that's my whole thing, man.
Long post short: I'd rather have the Dodgers be a rich powerhouse burdened with nearly impossible expectations than be a miserably bankrupt afterthought. The corollary to that is if there had to be one team in the N.L. West that won the Powerball drawing, I'm glad it wasn't, like, the Padres. It would be hard to care as much about that.
The Dodgers aren't building a guaranteed winner. They're just growing their handlebar mustache longer and twisting it tighter. After a season in which the Giants had it all, that's almost the best thing possible to make every game feel just as important as it ever has.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Orange and Black pitching prospects

The Giants front office continues to emphasize the import of pitching. 

Fangraphs has the top 15 SF Giants prospects, topped by pitcher Kyle Crick and two other young pitchers with Gary Brown at the No. 4 spot, followed by reliever Heath Hembree. The only guy who's actually been to The Show is Francisco Peguero at the No. 10 slot. 

Peguero went 3 for 16 (all singles) and stole 3 bases in 2012 

Here's what Frangraphs says about Crick --

Crick has quickly become the Giants’ best prospect after being selected 49th overall during the 2011 draft out of a Texas high school. Crick, 20, has a strong pitcher’s frame and the velocity to match. He struck out 128 batters in 111.1 innings at the A-ball level in 2012.
A scout I spoke with said the right-hander is definitely a potential front-line starter with premium power, as well as a potentially-plus cutter/slider. “He’s a great athlete for a big guy… and you can’t teach that kind of velocity,” he said. “His delivery is pretty easy and the ball really jumps out of his hand… The fastball is on top of them [before they know it].” Crick also a solid downward plane on his pitches, which results in poor contact, and he also has some deception.
On the down side, the scout said Crick tries to be too fine at times and needs to trust his stuff more. “He is really, really hard to hit,” he said.”He tries to make the perfect pitch but he doesn’t need to. His stuff is more than good enough.” Crick should open 2013 in high-A ball but could easily reach double-A by the end of the year and could see the majors by the end of 2014.

Sanchez back in the Orange and Black???

An intriguing idea for sure -- a reader writes into mlb.com's Chris Haft suggesting the Giants sign Jonathan Sanchez. Here's the question and response:  



Can pitching coach Dave Righetti and bullpen coach Mark Gardner turn Jonathan Sanchez into a successful reliever?
-- Mike O., Guayabitos, Mexico

The notion of bringing back Sanchez, a free agent who won't command a high salary after his subpar 2010-11 seasons, is intriguing. His skill remains tantalizing, though the diminished velocity and command that he displayed with the Giants in 2010 was disturbing. But Sanchez has bullpen experience and just might be suited to display his stuff in short, intense bursts, as Lincecum did in the postseason. Though the Giants have a full complement of left-handers (Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Jose Mijares and Dan Runzler), the more the merrier. If anybody can coax effectiveness from Sanchez, it's Righetti, Gardner and vice president of player personnel Dick Tidrow, a group that probably knows him better than anyone. 

He had a pretty nice year in 2010 with a WAR of 3.0. All told, though, his WAR over 7 seasons is 2.7. 

It's strange how this worked out. The Giants got Melky for Sanchez, who flopped in KC and then in Colorado. I wonder if the Giants will offer him a non-roster spot....

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Nate signs with the Cubbies

The Cubs web site posted this story by Carrie Muskat of mlb.com 3 days ago but no one seems particularly jazzed about this -- 

The Cubs have reportedly added an extra outfielder, signing Nate Schierholtz to a one-year, $2.25 million contract, pending his passing a physical.
The Cubs would not confirm or comment on the deal. General manager Jed Hoyer did say Thursday that the team was still in the market for another outfielder.
A left-handed-hitting outfielder who could play right field was high on the Cubs' wish list. Schierholtz, 28, batted .257 for the Giants and Phillies with six home runs in 114 games last season. He began the year with San Francisco and was dealt to Philadelphia on July 31 along with two Minor League players for Hunter Pence. He made a good impression in his Phillies debut, hitting a home run against the Nationals. His playing time was limited when he fractured his right big toe on Aug. 13.

Yankees of the West keep spending

They just signed a South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin, who's never spent a day in the MLB to a six-year $36 million deal. Again -- it must be driving the Dodgers crazy that the Giants have won two World Series, so they've become the new Steinbrenners. Here's part of the story from Ken Gurnick of mlb.com 

The Ryu deal beat the 2 p.m PT deadline at the end of the exclusive 30-day negotiating window the Dodgers won by posting a fee of $25.7 million that will go to Ryu's Korean team, the Hanwha Eagles.
Adding Ryu completes management's offseason goal of loading up on starting pitching. The Dodgers now have a rotation of two Cy Young winners (Clayton Kershaw and Greinke), a seven-time All-Star in Ryu, followed by Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett. Each of the four Americans was a first-round Draft pick.
Starting pitchers Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang and Ted Lilly are now expendable for trades. However, the club also values depth because the health of Billingsley and Lilly is in question.

Greinke signs for more than Matt Cain

Saturday, December 08, 2012

It was 20 years ago today

McCovey Chronicles alerted me to a nice post in Hardball Times by Chris Jaffe -- 

Twenty years ago today, one of the biggest and best—probably the best—free agent signings of all-time occurred. The Giants inked a deal with left fielder Barry Bonds, formerly of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Yeah, that was a pretty good deal.

In the 1992-93 offseason, Bonds was as big a free agent as there could be. He’d just won the MVP Award in 1992, his second such trophy in the past three seasons. In between, he’d been runner-up in the 1991 NL MVP voting.

From 1990 through 1992, he was among the league leaders in virtually every offensive category: first in slugging percentage (.566), first in OPS (999), second in on-base percentage (.424), second in runs (308), second in walks (327), third in RBIs (333), tied for fifth in home runs (92), and seventh in stolen bases (134). Oh, and he did it while hitting .301. It’s everything you could want in a player, so it’s not surprising that WAR considers him the best in all the land in those years: 26.0 WAR easily topping runner-up Cal Ripken Jr.

Oh, and Bonds would be just 28 in the upcoming 1993 season, so he still was near the outset of his prime
.

Damon in the Orange and Black?

Well, Johnny Damon told the Boston Herald he'd like to give it another go in 2013. I'm willing to bet his agent has contacted the Giants but that's just me speculating. 

He played 64 games for the Indians last season before they cut him loose because he was no damn good any more with a lousy slash line of .222/.281/.329 in 224 plate appearances. The Indians signed him after the season started on April 17 and cut him on Aug. 9 -- showing that if you're an older player without a contract, it's probably a lousy idea to miss spring training.

 He'll be 39 next year and has racked up a WAR of over 52 -- not quite a Hall of Fame career but not too shabby either.  

He was a pretty decent player in 2011 so maybe he's worth a try in spring training....

One strange thing about Damon -- he's played for six AL teams but never in the NL.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Grilli in the Orange and Black?

We're now down to the nitty gritty of signings for the Giants, per John Shea of the SF Chron. After recapping that the giants signed Affeldt, Pagan and Scutaro, he reports this -- 

Now the focus is on what Evans called the “next market” –  a right-handed hitter to platoon in left and right-handed reliever.
The Giants were interested in reliever Jason Grilli, who was leaning elsewhere as the meetings finished.
The Giants neither selected nor lost anyone in the major-league phase of Thursday’s Rule 5 draft. In the Triple-A phase of the draft, the Giants acquired pitcher Scott Shuman, who has a strong arm but not much control. Check this: 47 walks, 54 K’s in 34 innings at Double-A. The Giants lost a pitcher, Cameron Lamb, to the Astros. He had a 2.42 ERA in nine games for Salem-Keizer.

Jason Grilli has been around for 10 season and racked up a WAR of 2.8 in 330 games -- not too impressive 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

"It's not my money"

Chris Quick at Bay City Ball has a sharp analysis of the Scutaro signing --
  • Yes, the third year is kind of scary, but I’m not sure how many times I can write “this is the market now” before I get sick of writing it. So, I’ll just move on to the next point.
  • Since 2008, Scutaro has posted the following fWAR scores: 2.9, 4.5, 2.4, 2.8, and 2.5. If you do a quick and simple 5/4/3 weighting of his past three years you come up with 2.2 2.6 WAR. He’s been an above-average player.
  • You figure that Scutaro, as long as he stays healthy, should be a league average player for most of this contract. You never really know how players will age, but I can’t see anything in Scutaro’s profile that indicates that he’s ready to collapse.
  • When it comes to getting the bat on the ball, no one is better than Scutaro — since 2010 he leads the majors in contact percentage at 95-percent. For the Giants and their “put the ball in play” offense, he’s a pretty good piece to have.
  • It’s not exactly like the 2014 middle infield free agent class is brimming with talent. Sure there’s guys like Robinson Cano and Chase Utley that should be available, but it’s hard to say if they’ll make it to market. Who’s left? Aaron Hill? Skip Schumaker? Jhonny Peralta? Ick.
This really is the price of doing business right now. In short: baseball’s lost its damned mind but what the hell, it’s not my money.

Lefty Malo notes that the Giants are now likely to start the 2013 season with the same lineup as they did in the World Series.


CF Pagan
2B Scutaro
3B Sandoval
C Posey
RF Pence
1B Belt
LF Blanco
SS Crawford

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

"Scutaro hit .362 after arriving in a July 27 trade"

He's now $20 million richer. The Giants front office didn't mess around, signing Affeldt, Pagan and Scutaro and letting Brian Wilson go. Bobby Evans of the front office told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chron that all three gave SF a hometown discount.:

 "They were our priority," Evans said. "We had the benefit that all three wanted to come back. We have a very special group, and they all showed loyalty in coming back to us and the fans. They could've stayed out there and tried to get bigger deals. It's a tribute to them."

The .362 average is reminiscent of how Randy Winn performed in 2005 when he arrived in San Francisco.For those two months, Winn mashed with a line of .359/.391/.680 with 14 HRs.

Scutaro will be 37 next year. He sure didn't play like a 36-year-old in August, September and October.  

Monday, December 03, 2012

Nakajima in the Orange and Black?

John Shea of the SF Chron recaps the Pagan deal with a focus on whether Marco Scutaro will be signed. He confirms that the Giants are considering a Japanese shortstop -- Hiroyuki Nakajima -- if they can't get Scutaro signed. 

Nakajima is 30 years old and has hit 162 HRs in Japan. The Yanks paid $2 million for his posting fee last year but failed to reach a deal.  

Tsyoshi Shinjo was the only Japanese player the Giants have had within memory. He was the starting centerfielder for the 2002 Giants -- with most of his value on defense. He did not play much after Kenny Lofton came in deadline deal for Feliix Diaz and Ryan Meaux.  

Lofton is one of the more under-rated players of recent years with a 64.9 WAR in 20 years -- close to Hall of Fame numbers. In other words, there are guys who weren't as good who are in the Hall.  

Angel coming back

Dodgers don't want Wilson

The LA Times is reporting that the Blue Evildoers aren't interested.Here's part of what Dylan Hernandez reports -- 


Brian Wilson might want to pitch for the Dodgers, but it appears the interest isn't mutual.

The colorful and magnificently bearded closer wasn't tendered a contract for next season by the San Francisco Giants, making him a free agent. Wilson lives in Los Angeles in the off-season, and the Dodgers are among the teams with which he would like to sign, according to multiple reports.

Though the Dodgers won't publicly comment on free agents, people familiar with team officials' thinking say they aren't looking to sign Wilson.

Wilson pitched in only two games this year, as he underwent reconstructive elbow surgery in April. Wilson could sign an incentive-laden deal similar to the one Ryan Madson signed with the Angels. Madson, who underwent a similar procedure, is guaranteed $3.5 million and could earn another $3.5 million in roster bonuses and performance-based incentives.

With Brandon League, Kenley Jansen and Ronald Belisario under club control, the back of the Dodgers' bullpen appears to be close to set. The Dodgers continue to look for bullpen help, but are primarily focused on adding a left-hander. They have also talked to the Pittsburgh Pirates about Joel Hanrahan, but a trade appears unlikely, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Dodgers executives were traveling on Sunday to baseball’s winter meetings in Nashville. The meetings are scheduled to run from Monday through Thursday.


Sunday, December 02, 2012

Huff as a Dback?

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Phils say adios, Nate

Our old buddy Nate Schierholtz got non-tendered by the Phils. He doesn't seem to have much of a future as anything other than a 5th outfielder.

He's racked up an uimpressive 3.3 WAR in over 1,300 plate appearances over 6 seasons.  

UPDATE -- Looks like Nate will catch on somewhere. I'd say it's because he's only 28 ...

 
Nine teams called on Nate Schierholtz within the first 12 hours after he was non-tendered. NYY, looking for a right fielder, are in the mix.

Brian Wilson vs. Melky Cabrera

What in the world am I talking about? I was glancing through Chris Haft's recap of the Giants non-tendering Wilson and came across this -- 

Wilson reached his zenith in 2010, when the Giants won the World Series for the first time since the franchise's relocation to San Francisco in 1958. He saved 48 games, matching Beck's 1993 single-season club mark. Wilson performed even better in the postseason, yielding no earned runs and recording six saves in 10 appearances. He threw the final pitch in each postseason round -- coaxing Melky Cabrera's groundout at Atlanta in Game 4 of their National League Division Series, slipping a called third strike past Ryan Howard at Philadelphia in Game 6 of the NLCS, and fanning Nelson Cruz at Texas in Game 5 of the World Series.  

According to Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle, Wilson will now join Cabrera as an ex-Giant  --


The Giants signaled they were not willing to offer Wilson the required minimum guarantee of $6.8 million without knowing when he would return in 2013 and how effective he would be.
A lack of budget space for a team that is not significantly raising payroll also factored into the equation.
The Giants technically can negotiate a lower-priced, incentive-rich deal with Wilson now that he is a free agent, but multiple sources said the 30-year-old right-hander is upset about the Giants' stance and has told people he will sign elsewhere.
Wilson is recovering from a second elbow-reconstruction surgery. General manager Brian Sabean said Friday afternoon that Wilson's rehab is proceeding "really at a snail's pace at this time, which is not unexpected. He's throwing 60 feet, flat ground."
Wilson did not respond to an e-mail requesting comment, but his camp believes he will receive numerous big-league contract offers at more than what the Giants were willing to pay.
Wilson was the Giants' only arbitration-eligible player not offered a contract. Sergio Romo, Jose Mijares, Santiago Casilla, Buster Posey, Joaquin Arias, Hunter Pence and Gregor Blanco all were tendered and are considered signed players. Only the dollar figure needs to be negotiated or arbitrated.

The HBP guys

So I found that Reed Johnson is 48th on the all-time list of being hit by a pitch with 119, according to Baseball Reference. Aaron Rowand has 126 and Jeff Kent is at 125. Here are the all-time leaders --