Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jon Lester in the Orange and Black?

Jon Lester finished 4th in the Cy Young voting this year and had a 4.6 WAR between the Bosox and Oakland. However, he also ran out of gas during the play-in game. I will never understand why he was left in ......

Anyhow, the Giants want him. 

That's what John Shea of the SF Chronicle is reporting. It sounds like the Giants want another starting pitcher, third baseman and left fielder. Here's part --

With Pablo Sandoval deciding Boston’s $95 million was greener than San Francisco’s $95 million, the Giants have made it clear they’ll use that projected money to try signing an elite free-agent starting pitcher such as Jon Lester — the temporary A’s ace who reportedly will meet with the Giants next week — Max Scherzer or James Shields and/or Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas.
Any of which would require the Giants to do something they haven’t done since forking over a seven-year, $126 million deal to Zito in December 2006, liking that he was “a franchise player,” and a five-year, $60 million deal to Rowand in December 2007, liking that he was “a gamer.”
Those signings notwithstanding, the Giants won three championships with the philosophy of sticking with their own guys, along with those with team-friendly contracts who were found through trades or waiver claims. They spent big money only when one of their own reached or was on the verge of reaching free agency.
Now they’re OK with pursuing big names on the open market, because they feel they have little choice. Their lack of depth in the rotation and outfield didn’t bite them in the World Series but probably won’t work over another six-month journey, especially with so many holes to fill.
Free agents Michael Morse, Jake Peavy, Ryan Vogelsong and Sergio Romo could follow Sandoval out the door. But for now, the Giants are thinking bigger. Such as Lester, Scherzer, Shields, Tomas and other higher-end free agents.
Thanks in part to a philosophy change validated to some extent by Sandoval’s departure.


Adios, Tim Flannery

Lost in all the Pablo Sandoval news -- third base coach Tim Flannery is retiring to spend time at home. Nice work by the SF chron's Henry Schulman -- 

Tim Flannery, the old soul who can sing a perfect three-part harmony one night then chase a baserunner from third to home the next, is calling it a career.
A day after the Giants lost third baseman Pablo Sandoval, their third-base coach phoned general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy to say he was stepping down after eight seasons in San Francisco and 33 years in professional baseball.
Flannery, 57, told The Chronicle by phone he is physically and emotionally spent, has done all he wants to do on the baseball field, wants to spend more time with his wife and family and devote his energies to raising money for all manner of causes through his music.
In short, the all-encompasing parade of baseball seasons finally got to him.
“I call it the god-damned blessed road,” Flannery said. “I’ve buried friends. I’ve put friends in rehab. I’ve watched marriages dissolve. There’s a lot of collateral damage in this lifestyle I’ve had for 33 years. I’m going to send myself home safely.”
Flannery said he had thought about this all year.
“Physically, the grind of the season, and the way I demand how I work and what I expect of myself, I just didn’t feel I was capable in a quick turnaround to do it again.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sandoval gone?

CBS Sports is reporting that he's signed a deal with the Bosox. I would imagine that the chance to DH as he gets into his mid-30s is attractive but I'm a little surprised. According to what the Merc-News is reporting,  the Giants were willing to give him more money than they gave Hunter Pence last year (5 years, $90 mil)....

Here's part of the report, which indicates that the Giants won't settle for starting Joaquin Arias and/or Matt Duffy at third  --

"We don't have a solution in house," general manager Brian Sabean said earlier this month. "It would have to come from the outside."
Sandoval was signed out of Venezuela in 2003, starting an up-and-down decade with the Giants. He broke into the big leagues in 2008 and was an MVP candidate as a 22-year-old, hitting .330 with 25 homers and 90 RBIs in 2009. He would never reach those heights again, and in 2010 Sandoval was benched in the postseason because he was overweight and slumping.
Sandoval went through a well-publicized offseason conditioning program that winter and regained his job in 2011, hitting .315 with 23 homers and making his first All-Star team. His regular season numbers dropped off in his final three seasons with the Giants. He hit 12, 14 and 16 homers and his average never again hit .300. His OPS dropped to .789 in 2012, and then to .758 and .739 in his final two seasons with the Giants as he battled weight issues off and on. Sandoval was up around 280 pounds at points of the 2013 season but checked in at 250 this spring and was noticeably quicker at third base.
Despite the declining regular season numbers, Sandoval brought his best when the lights were brightest. He hit three home runs in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series and was the MVP as the Giants won a second title. Last month, Sandoval was a consistent threat in the middle of a banged-up lineup. In the midst of the run, Sandoval said he wasn't thinking about the offseason possibilities.
"I want to be a Giant and win a World Series again," he said in late October.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Panik to Crawford to Belt

Lefty Malo has a great analysis of the key DP in Game 7 of the World Series --

You can click through for the video. Here's the post....

This was the best defensive play the Giants made in 2014, and not just because it likely saved a run or more in the seventh game of the World Series. And not just because it was probably the difference between winning and losing the World Series.

It wasn't just the best play of the year contextually. It was the best defensive play because it required two players, not just one, each doing more than one spectacular thing. (You can watch the video above for the advanced-technology breakdown. You can also watch an animated GIF of it over and over and over, and read a great explanation of the Giants' underrated defense, here.)

Joe Panik starts it all with a flat-out dive to snare a ground ball on a hard, fast infield. Diving on hard dirt on one's belly with a glove extended to catch a ball is something we see major leaguers do every day, but it's difficult -- and it hurts!

Panik then boosted himself up with the bare right hand enough to flip the ball out of his glove to Crawford, just in time to get the bullet-train Lorenzo Cain at second.

That's two spectacular things from Joe Panik, and if we stopped right there, it would be good enough to be the play of the night, the Series, perhaps still of the year. One out, man on first, a much more manageable situation.

But wait. There's more. Panik's flip was good, but it wasn't perfectly accurate. Crawford had to jerk his glove up and to the left to receive the flip. Just that alone: great reflexes, great catch. Because Craw had to shift his weight toward center field to catch the ball, he was in terrible position to make a throw to first.

But, as you might have noticed, he did make a throw to first. Watch the footwork. He doesn't really get momentum toward first, but he makes a mini-crow hop to at least get in better position and perhaps avoid taking Cain's helmet in his kneecap. Still, it's a throw that middle infielders will often plant in the dirt or throw wide in either direction or simply get nothing on. Not Brandon Crawford. You might call his work on that play one spectacular thing, but I like to think of it as three: the catch, the pivot, and the throw.

That's five great athletic, reflexive, instinctive feats action-packed into one play. The greatest play of the year.

And note to all players out there: The Statcast technology shows that Hosmer slowed down by more than 2 MPH by diving into first base. If he had stayed upright, he would have been safe.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

RIP Ray Sadecki

If there's a trade that epitomizes the 1960s Giants, this is it -- the Giants had a surplus of Hall of Fame first basemen (Stretch and Cepeda) and not enough pitching.

So they traded Cepeda to the Cards for Sadecki and finished just behind the Cards for the next two seasons.

Ray had a 2.6 and a 2.8 WAR in 1967 and 1968

He stunk up the joint in 1969 so the Giants traded him and Dave Marshall for Bob Heise and some other guy

Friday, November 21, 2014

Romo not in the Orange and Black?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

RIP Alvin Dark

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Really, Barry?

One of the toughest parts of being a Giants fan between 2007 and 2013 was enduring Barry Zito's awful pitching and watching him burn through $126 million -- keeping the Giants hamstrung from getting any other free agents.

Now CSN Bay Area is reporting that he's going to try to come back next season.

I'm still stunned that he won two postseason games in 2012. Game 1 of the World Series had to be demoralizing for Detroit -- not just because of the 3 Sandoval homers but because it was Zito who was actually effective that night. 

I'm sure someone will give him a shot in spring training.

Here's how WAR over his Giants career, per Baseball Reference:

2007: 2.0
2008: -0.1 
2009: 2.6
2010: 1.5
2011: -0.6
2012: 0.2
2013: -2.6

So in seven seasons, he had a cumulative 2.6 WAR

It was pretty horrible most of the time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Bochy finishes 3rd in manager of the year voting

Really? Matt Williams of the Nats won?

It's a little silly that these awards don't include postseason performance, given that Williams got severely outmanaged in the postseason.

I guess the same thing will happen when Clayton Kershaw wins the Cy Young. Anyhow, I've linked to Mike Bauman's column for mlb.com, which ends this way ....

At some future date, Bruce Bochy will enter the Hall of Fame as a manager. His record will make him an indisputable selection. At that point, interested people will look back and wonder why, in the year of the Giants' third World Series championship in five seasons, he was not officially the NL Manager of the Year.
The answer will come in two parts: Matt Williams had a fine regular season managing the Washington club. And, one month later, Bruce Bochy was the best manager in the game.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

The foggy Sandoval future

 It's strange to have a guy who's demonstrably better during the post-season. Joaquin Arias and Matt Duffy seem to be the alternatives right now.

One thing that's interesting -- Sandoval did not get hurt this year for a change.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has a loooooonnng post about the future of Sandoval. My guess is that he'll see how much the Bosox are willing to offer. Here's part of it -- 

Three World Series rings. Postseason hero. Lovable nickname (Kung Fu Panda) complete with fans who wear panda masks during his at-bats.
But the Red Sox have interest in the 28-year-old free agent third baseman, and after contacting Sandoval’s representatives have scheduled a meeting between the parties at next week’s general managers’ meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz., according to a major league source.
Sandoval owns a .426 average in three World Series, with a 1.162 OPS. His postseason numbers — .344 average and .935 OPS — outshine his regular-season statistics.
Sandoval doesn’t turn 29 until Aug. 11, which is attractive for a team looking for a position player long term.
The Red Sox are in need of a lefthanded hitter. Sandoval is a switch-hitter whose 2014 splits favor the left side (.317 to .199), but he did have two key righthanded hits in the recent World Series.
He’s listed at 5 feet 11 inches and 245 pounds, but appears heavier. Sandoval dropped about 30 pounds between the end of 2013 and spring training, but according to one Giants official he gained at least 20 pounds back during the season.
When Sandoval’s weight is under control, he’s a very good third baseman. When he’s heavier, his quickness fades. The Red Sox don’t want to sign him just as a future replacement for Ortiz at DH; they want him for third base. Sandoval’s weight fluctuation is a big reason the Giants haven’t already committed to him. They don’t have a DH fallback.

Monday, November 03, 2014

How the Giants beat a mirror image of themselves

FanGraphs did a nice analysis of the World Series vic last week.

Tony Blengino notes that they're not really the exact same club and makes two key points

-- The Royals have a better outfield defense but the Giants have a superior infield defense

-- The Giants offense (because of AT and T Park) is vastly under-rated.

Here's the end of the article -

The Royals clearly measure up as a superior defensive club with regard to fly balls and line drives using this method. This is clearly not a surprise, considering the superior speed and instincts of their four primary outfielders, Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Nori Aoki and Jarrod Dyson. In the infield, however, the Giants have a very significant advantage, with a superior 88.2 ground ball multiplier, a better mark than any 2013 club.
It should be noted that the Giants’ defense improved significantly in the second half of the season. A number of factors caused this, and without any one of them, it is quite unlikely that they would have even made the playoffs. Panik replaced Brandon Hicks at second base, which turned out to be a major offensive and at least a slight defensive upgrade. The biggest change occurred in the outfield, however, and it was largely a matter of addition by subtraction.
Michael Morse may very well be the single worst defensive outfielder in baseball. He hits the ball really, really hard, but every advanced metric agrees that he gives back with his glove any offensive value that he provides. Less obviously, the loss of Angel Pagan actually turned out to be a defensive plus. The Pagan of a couple years back was a pretty solid defensive player, but even when healthy this season, wasn’t the same guy. Gregor Blanco turned out to be a defensive upgrade in center, and anyone they put in left – light-hitting Juan Perez, never-played-the-position before Travis Ishikawa – was certain to do less harm than would Morse.
Once safely ensconced in the World Series, with the DH now in play, the Giants were able to put their best offense/defense combo unit on the field for the first time all season. Their offense is plenty good enough to carry Juan Perez in left field when Morse is the DH. It is a near elite level offensive club, with a lights-out staff ace, and a surprisingly good defense, with no glaring individual weaknesses.
When you get down to it, defense is played by a team, not a group of individuals. The defensive strengths and weaknesses of each club’s individual members affect each player’s positioning. The Royals likely have superior individual defenders to the Giants – my eyes and the publicly available metrics say as much. The Giants’ individual defenders, however, are pretty solid in their own right, and the big-picture, macro level numbers suggest that their defense “plays up” as a unit.
There are a number of ironies surrounding the 2014 Giants. They signed Michael Morse to play left field, and wound up winning the World Series, in large part due to their team defense. Each of their championship clubs has featured highly paid mopup relievers such as Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum. Such imperfections cause one to lose sight of the big picture, though – they have quietly assembled a club that does lots of things very well, though you sometimes have to look a bit closer, and from a different perspective, to notice them. Hail to the victors – this was no fluke.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

The record for postseason homers given up

I was reading John Shea's recap of how rookies contributed to the SF Giants this year -- Panik, Perez, Strickland, Susac and Duffy -- and it mentioned the record that Strickland set for homers in the postseason

It's six -- 3 in the NLDS, one in the NLCS and two in the Series. 

It's easy to see why Bochy was so attracted to the guy -- no runs at all in 9 appearance in the regular season in 7 innings of work. That was enough to give Strickland a 0.3 WAR according to Baseball reference. 

Here's part of Shea's story --

Unselfishness was a Giants trait. So was avoiding complacency. Consider Panik, who proved himself offensively and defensively from early August through late October. Yet, when looking to 2015, he said he needs to prove himself all over again.
“There’s always somebody looking to take your spot,” he said. “I’ve got to prepare myself to battle for that spot. I know what happened this year, but I’m still young. I don’t even have a full year under my belt.”
While Sabean’s priority is forming a rotation, especially after starters not named Bumgarner struggled so mightily in the World Series, the farm system has no starter knocking on the door, including top prospect Kyle Crick. But Strickland could be in the bullpen if he recovers from setting the record for most homers yielded in a postseason.
Likewise, Susac, Duffy and Perez could have roles off the bench.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

"I'm not an idiot"

That was Brian Sabean's quote in the wake of the Matt Williams deal for Jeff Kent. MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsy -- he of the big black cowboy hat -- recaps Sabean's tenure...

under Sabean's guidance, the Giants, in the last 19 years have:
• Recorded the third-best winning percentage in the NL (1,556-1,358, .534) behind the Braves (1,651-1,263, .567) and Cardinals (1,545-1,319, .547).
• Played more postseason games (76) than any NL team other than the Cards (121) and have a better postseason winning percentage (.605) than any team that has played at least 34 postseason games.
• Made four World Series appearances, the only NL team other than the Cardinals (who also have made four) to have been in the World Series more than twice, and have won an NL-best three World Series in the last 18 years.
And don't forget that Sabean took advantage of the San Diego Padres' decision to fire manager Bruce Bochy by quickly signing Bochy to oversee things at AT&T Park.