Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sandoval already slugging

Kyle Crick is number 1

1. Kyle Crick, rhp
2. Joe Panik, ss
3. Chris Stratton, rhp
4. Gary Brown, of
5. Mike Kickham, lhp
6. Clayton Blackburn, rhp
7. Heath Hembree, rhp
8. Francisco Peguero, of
9. Roger Kieschnick, of
10. Adalberto Mejia, lhp

Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area reports on Baseball America ranking the top 10 prospects for the Orange and Black and Kyle Crick -- a big guy like Cain and Bumgarner -- is number one.Here's the key verbiage on what happened last year and what to expect -- 

Though the pitching staff was largely the same on both World Series winners, Posey was the only everyday position player held over from the team that took down the Rangers in 2010. But if San Francisco's first World Series title since 1954 was something of a happy accident won by a band of misfits and castoffs, its second championship featured the kind of lineup that longtime general manager Brian Sabean long had long coveted.
Sabean put together a younger, more athletic and defensively skilled team that sought to use AT&T Park's ample dimensions as an advantage instead of an excuse. The Giants became the first team since the 1985 Cardinals to reach the playoffs despite hitting the fewest homers in the majors, including just 31 longballs in 81 home games.

Sabean utilized prospects like Charlie Culberson, Tommy Joseph, Charlie Culberson and Seth Rosin in July deals for Marco Scutaro (the NLCS MVP) and Hunter Pence (who became San Francisco's inspirational leader). The farm system lacks depth as a result of trades and late draft positions in recent years, but the Giants still have their share of quality pitchers, starting with Kyle Crick, Chris Stratton and Mike Kickham. Pitching guru Dick Tidrow must matriculate some of those arms to the big leagues soon, because Lincecum and Zito could be spending their last season in a San Francisco uniform.

It's going to get tougher for the Giants now that the Dodgers have deep-pocketed ownership and are threatening to become the Yankees of the West. Though the Giants aren't run on a shoestring budget, they probably won't turn themselves into the Red Sox in order to compete.

Expect Sabean and his staff to adhere to their blend of scouting, pragmatic assessment and turning over rocks to find athletic, two-way players. That strategy couldn't be working any better.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Zito wins the Hutch Award

Talk about a bit of perspective. This should make us all a little less upset over Barry Zito's on-field failings. He won the Hutch Award today for his considerable charitable contributions. Stretch and Dave Dravecky are the previous Giants winners. 

Here's the report on the Giants web site. Boldface is mine -- 
Barry Zito's story of personal redemption got the silver-screen treatment when he rebounded from a few lost years by the Bay to pitch his San Francisco Giants out of a jam and become a huge factor in them winning the 2012 World Series. It would be difficult to top such a monumental achievement for an athlete, but Zito's accomplishments off the mound are far more significant in the world outside sports, and that spirit was honored Wednesday when he accepted the 48th Hutch Award for outstanding community service at the annual luncheon at Safeco Field.
The Hutch Award, a national honor presented by the Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has been given every year since 1965 in honor of Major League player and manager Fred Hutchinson, who died of cancer a year earlier at the age of 45, and its list of honorees reads like a Hall of Fame roster.
Winners have included Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax, Carl Yastrzemski, Pete Rose, Joe Torre, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Lou Brock, George Brett and Johnny Bench.
Now they include Zito, who in April 2005 founded the nonprofit organization Strikeouts For Troops, which provides the comforts of home for injured troops. What began with a simple idea and simple math -- money donated to troops by Zito for each strikeout -- has grown into funds provided for a wealth of statistical categories by over 100 Major League players.
The philanthropic effort has reached beyond baseball and has built on its success by furnishing grants that assist service members recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, the Naval Medical Center in San Diego -- where Zito grew up -- plus Walter Reed National Military Medical in Washington, D.C., and other care facilities, including Fisher House.
The money raised by Strikeouts For Troops has enabled loved ones to travel to be near injured family members and provides adaptive equipment for easy transitions at home and other necessities. It also has helped support morale-building events, research and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder issues, and supplied  holiday gifts and meals for military children and more.
"That's what really matters at the end of the day," Zito said. "It's great to have the sports and entertainment world to get us away from the daily grind of life, but all that stuff goes away when a family member is ill or when you have an illness yourself.
"So to focus on the things that really matter … that's what it really means."
In addition to founding and overseeing Strikeouts For Troops, Zito and his wife, Amber, also support the St. Anthony Foundation, which provides thousands of meals every day to San Francisco's hungry and homeless. They also support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Special Olympics, Make-A-Wish Foundation, global illiteracy, organ donation and cancer research.
During his day in Seattle, Zito also pledged financial and moral support to the "Hutch" moving forward.
His interest in the facility was piqued by a morning trip through its impressive labs along with keynote speaker and former Mariners manager Lou Piniella. The two put on white coats and tagged along with their tour guide, Beverly Torok-Storb of the clinical research division. They got a tutorial on HeLa cells, looked in on an electron microscope, saw laser cyclometers in action, and witnessed how much work goes into fighting this deadly disease.
Back at the ballpark, Zito was touched by the speech by former Hutch patient and leukemia survivor Ryan Kiggins, who ended his presentation by thanking his disease for the courage and motivation it provided him while he was trying to -- and ultimately succeeding in -- beating it.
That seemed to mean a lot more than Zito's World Series championship or the beautiful Hutch Award, which was a glass sculpture by renowned Seattle artist Dale Chihuly.
"Sometimes when there's adversity, instead of fighting it so hard and getting emotional about it, you can learn a lesson," Zito said. "There are gifts in that."

Matt Cain previews the 2013 season

Crick and Brown in the Orange and Black

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bourne = Rowand?

Well, maybe that's extreme but NY Post reporter Mike Puma tweets that Michael Bourne wants a 5-year deal and the Mets won't go there. No wonder the Giants decided to pick up Andres Torres.

It made me think of Aaron Rowand. Maybe that's why Bourne still hasn't got a deal.

Bourne just had a 6.0 WAR season at age 29 to bring his career to 19.0.

Rowand had a 4.8 WAR season in 2007 at age 29.then racked up seasons of 0.4, 0.4, 0.7 and 0.4 to bring his career to 18.9 before the Giants decided to eat the rest of the $60 million deal. In other words, they paid about $30 million per win. 

Geez, I remember the tone taken by advocates of the Rowand signing was "OK, now that we've gotten rid of that Barry Bonds creep, we're going to be hot tuna."

He fell apart so fast. He was no damn good. What a cruddy signing it was, ending up with Rowand whining about playing time and not being able to root for the Chicago Bears.

We're Number 17!

Grant at McCovey Chronicles picked up John Sickel's farm system rankings, which places the Giants at 17th, up nine places from last year -- no surprises here that the Giants front office is able to pick pitchers. The Evil Dodgers are 19th. Here's the key verbiage --

17) San Francisco Giants (26): Strengths: Pitching! Kyle Crick, Chris Stratton, Clayton Blackburn are all strong rotation candidates for the future and there are some nice lefties too (Mike Kickham, Steven Okert, Josh Osich, Adalberto Mejia) plus bullpen material. Weaknesses: Hitting. I have a lot of mixed feelings about Gary Brown, Joe Panik, and Francisco Peguero. Can Mac Williamson be the needed impact bat?

Following that link -- Bret Sayre has a Christmas Eve piece on the same site about Gary Brown and believes we will see in this year in San Francisco if he hits well in the spring and early season at AAA -- 

Bernie Pleskoff, a former scout and current contributor to, said at the SABR conference just last month that Brown "made the most significant mechanical change of anyone I've seen from spring training (of 2012) to now." He also added, "When I saw him in March, he couldn't reach a ball on the outside part of the plate. But he's made some adjustments and now he's on his way." Yes, the prognostication here is just the thoughts of one man, but the confirmation of changes to Brown's swing is the important takeaway here. And because of that, and the success he had during the second half of the season, I'm not willing to throw him down the OF prospect mineshaft.
So, in conclusion, Brown will more than likely start 2013 at Triple-A and has a clear path to playing time if he hits out of the gate (he has the daunting Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres ahead of him on the depth chart)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Giant real estate development

John Wildermuth at the San Francisco Chronicle has the scoop on the Giants' plans to develop the parking lot south of the ballpark as a way to increase team revenues. 

I say "good -- anything to keep up with the evil Dodgers"  

It is truly astounding how the ballpark has made the surrounding area upgrade itself over the past 13 years.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Arias avoids arbitration

A day after the Braves traded Martin Prado for Justin Upton, the Giants continue to have a non-eventful offseason by reaching a deal with Joaquin Arias, who was a pretty decent utility guy this past season. Chris Haft's story notes 2 major moments -- 1. hitting the ball that the Reds muffed in the 10th inning of Game 3 of the NLDS, allowing Posey to score and 2. catching the ground ball and and throwing to Belt at first for the final out in Matt Cain's perfecto.  

This is a guy Giants fans will remember long after they've forgotten the guy who started the season at third base in 2008 (Jose Castillo, who racked a -0.6 WAR that year in over 400 plate appearances. Hoo boy).

Interesting that Arias appeared in 112 games in 2012 after appearing in 113 games over the previous five seasons. He'd never hit a homer before 2012 and then had five for the Orange and Black. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pence promises more than .219

Delmon Young not in the Orange and Black

Nathan McCurley at Third Street Kings has an informative post about the Phils signing Delmon Young to an incentive-laden deal -- an amusing development in that Young is really nothing more than a pretty good DH. He also makes the argument that Michael Bourn would be a potentially excellent signing, Anhow, here's part of it --

Young was mentioned infrequently as a player the Giants could target, and on the surface one can see why. He plays outfield (“plays”), he crushes lefties, he seems to fit the Pat Burrell model of gargantuan dude who hits dingers. But there are several reasons why Young wouldn’t have made sense for the Giants. One is that he can’t play defense at all. He fails the eye test, the stats test, the sniff test, you name it. He’s a DH only at this point, which makes the Phillies’ assertion that he will play right field all the more hilarious. Mark your calendars for May 6th, folks. That’s the day that the Phillies will come to San Francisco for the first time in 2013, presumably with Delmon Young in RF. Remember what Vlad Guerrero looked like in right in the 2010 World Series? You ain’t seen nothing yet.
There’s ample evidence to the idea that the Giants front office is very interested in players who play good defense. Since 2007, the Giants lead the majors in UZR, which obviously isn’t a perfect measure of defensive skill but over such a large sample can be reasonably counted on. Since 2009, I can only think of one player the front office acquired who was clearly a poor defender, and that is the aforementioned Burrell. But Burrell was a) basically free and b) a great clubhouse presence, another attribute the Giants clearly take seriously when acquiring players.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

No Bourn in the Orange and Black

Grant Bisbee at McCovey Chronicles wonders about why no one has signed Michael Bourn yet and speculates that the Scott Boras ask price -- he thinks it's 5 years, $80 million -- is just too much for the Giants or anyone else for that matter.  

He may well be worth it as he's racked up a 19.0 WAR (wins above replacement) in the last 4 seasons including a 6.0 last year.  

There were only 5 better players in the NL last year -- Posey, McCutcheon, Braun, Yadier Molina and David Wright 

Anyhow, here's how Grant ended the post --  I wouldn't be surprised if either Pagan or Bourn were worth $80 million over the next three years. Having both would double the chances of getting that kind of value. I think. I'm not a big game-theory guy. I don't even know if that's even game theory.
In the end, it's still Scott Boras. And once a team thinks they're close to three years, another team will come back with four. And when that team's comfortable with four, Boras will get five. So there's no chance that Bourn will get within the Giants' price range, and it's unlikely that he'll get close to the range you think the Giants should have. But it's fun to dream, you know.
Close your eyes for a second, and picture Michael Bourn leading off. Wreaking havoc. Gliding around the spacious Mays Field outfield, at least for next year. Ahhhhhh. Now get back to work.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Remembering MLK in a baseball way

Dave Brown at Yahoo Sports has a fine story about the influence that Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Larry Doby had on Martin Luther King Jr. 

On the site, Richard Justice has a good piece, too -- 

King would later tell Robinson and other black baseball pioneers -- Larry Doby, Don Newcombe, Roy Campanella, Monte Irvin, others -- how much he admired them for their courage and for how they'd changed the country and helped clear a path for all who would follow.
A few weeks before King was killed in 1968, he told Newcombe, "You'll never know how easy you and Jackie and Doby and Campy made it for me to do my job by what you did on the baseball field."
Newcombe remembered those comments during a 2009 interview with the New York Post's Peter Vecsey.
"Imagine, here is Martin getting beaten with billy clubs, bitten by dogs and thrown in jail, and he says we made his job easier," Newcombe told Vecsey.

Adios, Brian Wilson

If this story is to be believed, the Mets want to sign Brian Wilson, who probably threw his arm out in 2010.  

Brian Sabean told the NY Post, of all people, that he's doubtful that Brian Wilson in coming back to the Orange and Black, which "opens the door" for the Mets and other teams to sign him.The second Tommy John surgery makes it impossible for the Giants to offer Wilson what he wants -- 

“I’m going to be brutally honest as I always am, I don’t [think Wilson will return],” Sabean said during an event in Midtown on Saturday. “In this case, where you are getting a second Tommy John…it’s the type of rehab where he’s still not further up along to judge exactly where he may be able to come back in major league fashion, let alone as a closer.”
Wilson appeared in just two games last season before undergoing Tommy John surgery. The 30-year-old closer made $8.2 million last season and the Giants non-tendered him in November, making him a free agent. The team would have had to guarantee Wilson $6.8 million in 2013 if it would have offered him a tender.
Sabean did leave slight hope that Wilson could return on a one-year, incentive laden contract.
“We spoke to [Wilson’s] agent repeatedly before we made the initial decision not to tender him a contract, to speak about, which in this case is very normal, starting with a low base and then from there building with incentives,” Sabean said.
Wilson has saved 171 games over seven seasons with the Giants, including a league-high 48 saves in 2010, when the team also won the World Series.
“It’s one of those things where it’s very difficult trying to change somebody’s mind, being [Wilson’s], in that the organization owes him, and we do owe him a debt of gratitude, but this is a tough business and we certainly have to be financially responsible,” Sabean said....

“We may be in a position to offer him a low base with some incentives, but at this time I see him more in the mindset to do that with somebody else, than coming back with us,” Sabean said.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sad Sam Jones

I was trying to figure out when I first saw Stan Musial play and figured it must have been in 1959 at Seals Stadium, possibly when Sam Jones was pitching.

Jones was a pretty good pitcher for the Cards in 1958. So the Giants -- who never had enough pitching in those days -- traded for him with Bill White and he had a couple of fine years for the Giants in 1959 and 1960. 

That 1959 season was brutal for a young fan -- one that taught me that disappointment is nearly inevitable in baseball. The Giants were up on the Dodgers by 2 with 8 games left, then lost 3 to the Bums and two to the Cubs before Sam finally stopped the slide with a vic over the Cards for his 21st win.

Stretch hit his 13th homer in that game (he'd only been in the bigs for two months) and Mays got his 34th.  

As for Jones, he won the ERA title and tied Spahn and Burdette for most wins. 

Stan the Man RIP

The Christian Science Monitor has a nice story on The Man frpm Phil Elderkn. Here's part of it. I noted that Branch Rickey -- who gets the credit for promoting Jackie Robinson -- was smart enough to promote  Stan as a 19-year-old pitcher -- 
One of the things Cardinals general manager Branch Rickey did in 1940 was to promote 19-year-old Stan Musial to his Daytona Beach farm team in the Florida State League. A step up from where Musial had been playing and still a pitcher, Rickey felt that Dickie Kerr was the ideal minor league manager to put the finishing touches on Stan.
With Kerr picking his spots, Musial won 18 games. But even more impressive to Dickie was the way Stan hit when he played him in the outfield. It was the same year that Musial, diving for a fly ball, injured his throwing arm so badly that he would never pitch again.
Kerr not only softened things for Musial by telling him to forget about it – that he would someday be a big league outfielder – he also invited Stan and his wife to move in with him and his family. Musial, of course, never forgot Kerr’s kindness and years later, on Dickie’s 65th birthday, Stan and his wife presented him with the deed to a new house in Houston, Texas.
Here are two more things the reader ought to know: Musial won seven National League batting championships, and on his 60th birthday checked in at only three more pounds than he weighed at the height of his career!

Tim Flannery's concerts for Stow

The key guy for 2013

Which Tim Lincecum will show up this year? That guy who was getting hammered in the first inning or that guy from the playoffs?

Lefty Malo analyzes the recent Fangraphs story and asserts that last year's decline came from Tim's inability to throw quality breaking pitches and change-ups  -- 

. The change-up definitely lacked bite. It's possible it also lacked deception because of the decreased gap between Lincecum's declining fastball speed and his 83-MPH changeup. But I suspect a lot of the balls down the middle represented in the Fangraphs heat map were off-speed pitches.

This is all quite worrisome and would be downright ulcerous if not for Timmy's post-season run, in which the snap returned to his off-speed stuff and his fastball had a bit more life to it. How much more life is hard to say -- I vaguely remember him hitting 91, 92, perhaps 93 on occasion, but my memory is, uh... crap, what was I saying? Oh yes -- and Fangraphs' post-season stats aren't loading on Lincecum's player page for some reason, so I can't say for sure. But it wasn't just a better fastball that turned things around. It was the breaking stuff; the change-ups diving in the dirt, the sliders snapping across the edges of the plate. If he can regain the positive grades on those pitches, however Fangraphs comes up with them, the fastball velocity and location won't matter as much. If he can't, I don't think better location of his 89-MPH two-seamer will help much. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

A non-neurotic offseason

The awfulness of Eric Gregg

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Love for the glove of Crawford

Yes, it really was that good. Brandon's Crawford's amazing D is not just something that Giants fans made up.

David Schoenfield of ESPN has an interesting  post stating that Crawford's defense is the single most unappreciated weapon in MLB. David Hernandez' slider and Ross Detwiler's fastball also made the top 5 list.

Baseball Reference gave him a 2.4 WAR last season -- most of that due to his defense. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Where Tim went wrong last year

Jeff Zimmerman of Fangraphs thinks he knows and has a long post to back himself up. It doesn't really explain why he was so effective in the post-season, though --

Tim Lincecum‘s resume contains the following items: 2 time Cy Young award winner, 4 time All-Star and twice World Series Champion. With all the achievements over the last 5 seasons, he was relegated to a long relief once the Giants made the playoffs because he was no longer effective as a starter. Lincecum’s problem is he can no longer just throw the ball across the plate and hope a batter just swings and misses. If he wants any hope of returning to be the starter he once was, he now needs to learn how to pitch.
In the past, Lincecum could use his fastball to blow away hitters. The problem with Timmy is he has aged and his velocity is down. His strikeouts followed his velocity on the downward spiral

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Weirdness in Washington DC is reporting that the Nats just reached a 2-year deal worth $28 million for Rafael Soriano, three months after their pen imploded in the NLDS and they got to watch the Giants beat the Cards and Tigers with pretty superior pitching. 

The deal seems like an over-reaction to Davey Johnson's managerial incompetence, demonstrated when he refused to lift Drew Storen as he gave up a 7-5 lead that became a 9-7 deficit in the top of the 9th --

Soriano, 33, had one of his best seasons in 2012, posting a 2.26 ERA with 42 saves for the Yankees, taking over the closer duties after Mariano Rivera's injury. He joins a Nats bullpen that already includes Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, who closed games in 2012.
Soriano has a 2.78 career ERA in 11 seasons with the Mariners, Braves, Rays and Yanks.
The signing of Soriano comes after Washington's bullpen imploded during the National League Division Series, allowing 16 earned runs against the Cardinals. The worst performance came in the ninth inning of Game 5, when Washington held a 7-5 lead going into the top of the ninth inning before Storen allowed four runs for a 9-7 loss.
Storen was one strike away from getting David Freese for the final out, but Freese walked. Daniel Descalso came to the plate, and on the first pitch, he singled off the glove of shortstop Ian Desmond, scoring Carlos Beltran and Adron Chambers to make it a 7-7 game.
Manager Davey Johnson then elected to pitch to Pete Kozma, rather than walk him to get to pitcher Jason Motte. Kozma singled to right field to send home Freese and Descalso to put the Cards on top.


What's that? It's the slash line for what looks like a pretty awful player -- in this case, try Hunter Pence's slash line as a Giant.It did include 45 RBIs to go along with 59 as Phillie but still -- it really stinks.

Lefty Malo has a solid post previewing spring training and speculating on the arbitration cases. Pence's offense as a Giant was so lousy enough that Left eve speculates that he could be traded ....  

Posey might get an extension, but one for Pence is less likely after his frustrating post-trade bat work. If there are any more trades to be made, which I'm not betting on, my guess is something would center around Pence. No one's going to take on Pence's salary, estimated to be something like $14 M in his final arb year, but if the Giants figure out a way to upgrade their outfield from another direction -- say, a trade for Mike Morse to play left field, or something even more out of the blue -- I could see them releasing Pence, saving that cash, and shifting Blanco to right field, which defensively would make a lot of sense.

but like I said, I don't expect it to happen. More likely they figure Pence will settle in, settle down, and produce something more like the Bill James' projection (.277 / .338 /.464) or his career line (.285 / .339 / .475). Those would be nice. Anything better than his miserable line as a Giant would be nice. After all, he's not going to Huffplode on us...

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wilson on the Mets?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tanaka and Tobin in the Orange and Black

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Victory for the childsavers

John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters had fine take on the ridiculous Hall of Fame voting.Here's the first part of it -- 

Well, the Hall of Fame vote has come and gone, and the child-savers have made their point:
Bill Madden:
…. By mimicking Congress on the deficit debate and kicking the steroid needles down the road for another year, the Baseball Writers Association of America made a powerful statement Wednesday that it does take the integrity/sportsmanship clause in the Hall of Fame ballot seriously and that the writers plan to look long and hard at all the proven and suspected cheats before awarding them a plaque in Cooperstown.
Only someone blinded by power and self-aggrandizing moralizing could fail to see the irony of being proud to mimic Congress, at a time when our government has an all-time low approval rating. Oh, and of course, Madden voted for Jack Morris, perhaps the most poorly qualified candidate of the last ten years. His argument for Morris is as flawed as his arguments against Bonds and Clemens, or, for that matter, Piazza.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The Hall of Fame is a joke

That's about all I have to say right now. Here's part of what Jason Stark posted at ESPN. 

 The votes are in. The earth is still rumbling. Now let's try to digest the magnitude of what just happened here:

A man who hit 762 home runs wasn't elected to the Hall of Fame.

A pitcher who won seven Cy Young Awards wasn't elected to the Hall of Fame.

A man who hit 609 home runs only got 12.5 percent of the vote.

A catcher who made 12 All-Star teams missed election by 98 votes.

It boggles the mind. Doesn't it? We were just presented the most star-studded Hall of Fame ballot in maybe 75 years. And NOBODY got elected?

It's enough to make you wonder: What kind of Hall of Fame are we building here?

I HAVE THE ANSWER JAYSON -- It's a joke. Oh, also - Pitchers and catchers report in 37 days.  

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Barry Bonds = Ty Cobb

That's how Joe Posnaski (whose Sports on Earth site I will include in the blog roll one on these days) views Barry Bonds' candidacy for the Hall of Fame, comparing him to a player who was widely despised by nearly everyone in the game except for Walter Johnson (I love that Cobb said that watching Johnson pitch was the scariest thing he ever saw). Anyhow, here's part of it -- 

So what do you think? Would Cobb, who famously needed to win but who held himself to principles that few others really understood, have used steroids?
Answer: We have no bleeping idea.
See, that's the trap of this whole PED Hall of Fame discussion -- it's tempting to start thinking you know more than you know, understand more than you understand and can get inside the heart of someone else.
What we do know is that Ty Cobb was obviously a rough player, disliked by many, involved in too many controversial incidents to count here, including a well-publicized gambling accusation and numerous violent encounters. And what we do know is that on the first Hall of Fame ballot -- with the so-called character clause already in place -- Ty Cobb received more votes than anyone else, including Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson and Honus Wagner.
Why? He was widely viewed by the sportswriters as the best player of all time. In the end, character clause or not, the writers understood their mission was to honor the best who ever played the game. I think that's still our mission. I don't think it's right to pretend that the steroid and PED stuff never happened -- it absolutely did happen and should be part of the evaluation of a baseball player's career. But I don't see how steroid use in an era when there was no testing, no policing and (I believe) tacit encouragement to use PEDs can or should be, on its own, a Hall of Fame disqualifier.
Barry Bonds is the greatest player I ever saw. How much of it was unnatural? I don't know -- some of it. How much of it was a taint on the game? I don't know -- some of it. I don't take his career numbers at face value, especially the home run numbers. But I do believe he's one of the best to ever play the game.
My Hall of Fame vote: Yes.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Orange and Black quotes

Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury-News assembled more than 100 quotes about the remarkable 2012 season. Here are some of my favorites -- 

 “I’m just glad the whole world got to see what this team is about. Starting with Game 5 of the NLCS, we played our best baseball of the season. I always knew we were capable of this,” Ryan Vogelsong, after the World Series.

 “I get my money’s worth,” Brandon Crawford, on having two grand slams and two three-run homers among his six career homers.

 You never want to say I’ve hit rock bottom or anything like that, but when things are going as bad as they are right now you’ve got to go out there with the feeling like you’ve got nothing left to lose. I have to erase this, obviously remember it and use it to know what I don’t want to go through again. It’s been terrible. It’s a terrible feeling. When you’re the weakest link, that wears on you,” Lincecum, at the end of a disappointing first half.

“We’ve all got a certain number of years to play this game, and obviously last year I saw how quickly it can all be gone. You’ve got to take advantage of each moment you have,” Posey, after making the All-Star team.
“That’s one of the best at-bats I’ve ever had off of me. I threw him at least five put-away pitches, I thought. And he just kept fouling them off. I make one mistake and it’s a homer,” Joe Blanton, after Posey fouled off six straight pitches and then hit a homer during a September game.
“I could see the seam marks on his Adam’s apple. He’s a tough son of a gun. If I was hit in the throat while I was catching, I’d probably be lying on the trainer’s table,” Vogelsong, after his bounced pitch hit Posey in the throat.

“I still can’t believe it. I don’t try to hit home runs. I’m not trying to do too much right now, especially at this time of the season,” Sandoval, after his three-homer game.
“I got punched in the mouth and I don’t even care,” Vogelsong, after winning the World Series.
“You can’t hurt steel. You can’t hurt steel, baby. This group was too special to take down,” Pagan, after winning the World Series.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Getting down with Gary Brown

The SF Giants web site has a long interesting post about Gary Brown -- who seems to have impressed scout Bernie Pleskoff with his most recent performance in the Arizona Fall League after having a tough year. I think he could become a potential fast 4th outfielder who could be in the bigs as early as this season and could eventually be the starting centerfielder, though Angel Pagan is signed into 2016. 

It's a good reminder of how tough it is to get to MLB. Here's what Pleskoff wrote --

He looked much more comfortable and relaxed at the plate.
Looking at the same player I had seen before, I saw a different picture.
The long swing was gone, replaced by a shorter, quicker stroke to the ball. Brown flashed an ability to hit the ball in the gaps. He stopped swinging at pitches outside the strike zone. He was more patient.
Brown hit .313 with five RBIs, five walks and 14 strikeouts over 64 AFL at-bats. He stole two bases and had two doubles and a triple. Most importantly, he returned to using his strengths -- contact hitting and speed.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Barry Bonds in the Hall by 2018

John Shea of the SF Chronicle predicts that the Hall of Fame will stop ridiculous by 2018 when it finally admits the 7-time MVP with 762 HRs. 

I have not been to the Hall but I'm going to boycott it until Bonds is in. Because it's a joke until then. You have guys like Catfish Hunter, Bruce Sutter, Red Schoendienst, Lloyd Waner, Chick Hafey, Jesse Haines, Travis Jackson, Freddie Lindstrom, Rube Marquard in? You don't include Bonds and Roger Clemens? How do you expect to be taken seriously?

If demented Dodger fans had their way, Maury Wills -- one of the most over-rated players of all time -- would be in the Hall, too. 

Here's the first half of Shea's column --  

Barry Bonds will be a Hall of Famer. Just a matter of time.
Not on the first ballot. But within five years. Nothing scientific. Just a guess.
I'm guessing he'll receive at least 40 percent of the vote in this Hall of Fame election.
I'm guessing it won't be long before he reaches 50 percent, which would make his election probable - other than Gil Hodges, no candidate on previous ballots topped 50 percent and eventually failed to get elected.
I'm guessing some hard-line stances will soften in time.
I'm guessing younger writers who rely heavily on metrics, who form opinions based largely if not solely on numbers, will vote for Bonds once they become eligible voters, after 10 years in the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

No respect out of Boston

Man, you would think that winning the World Series twice in three years would count for something but not in Boston, where Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says the Giants have the 9th best roster in MLB, right in front of the KC Royals (????!!!???)  

1. Nats
2. Reds
3. Tigers
4. Angels
5. Blue Jays
6. The Evil Ones/Dodgers
7. Braves
8. Cards
9. Giants
10. Royals

I suppose I could allege East Coast bias though he has two other California teams on the top 10 list. This isn't very deep analysis -- Here's what he said about the Giants --

9. San Francisco Giants — The names have never jumped off the page, except for the obvious one in Buster Posey, but it’s a lineup that produces enough to allow a fine pitching staff to do its thing. The key this season is to get Tim Lincecum back to being effective.

"A fine pitching staff" -- how dismissive of a staff that's won two World Series. Earth to Cafardo -- the Giants beat the Reds, Cards and Tigers when it was all on the line. Doesn't that count for anything? I guess not.


Proctor, Sadowski in the Orange and Black

Tejada tries to revive MLB career

I'd have to say that one of my favorite moments of the 2011 season came when the Giants front office released (DFAd) both Miguel Tejada and Aaron Rowand on the same day after both had been playing like garbage all year. Rowand had been whining about how he wasn't getting play and how much he loved the Chicago Bears. Tejada failed to run out a sacrifice bunt in late August in the 11th inning of a 5-4 loss to the Astros; Rowand then struck out.

Who knows what impact it had in the dugout but I think there were very few fans who didn't applaud

Miguel was so crappy last year in minors that he didn't make it back to the Show with the Orioles, who were trying damn near anyone. The Royals just signed him to a minor league deal.  

The Giants finished out the season at shortstop in 2011 with Orlando Cabrera, who was pretty awful too at age 36.He also hasn't been back to the bigs since. 

I guess we owe Miguel a bit of thanks -- Maybe the crappiness of the vet shortstops persuaded management that Brandon Crawford made a little more sense.He was a better player than Cabrera or Tejada in 2011 (0.5 WAR) and then racked up a 2.3 WAR last year.