Monday, February 24, 2014

Where did those RBIs go?

Among the many things that went wrong last season was Buster's second half fadeout. The numbers were surprising .....

There's a long post by Chris Haft on the Giants web site about Buster Posey prepping for this season. Here's the jarring part --  

The Giants hope Posey won't peak at all, but instead reach a plateau and more or less remain there. That's largely what he accomplished in 2012, when he batted a National League-high .336 with 24 home runs and 103 RBIs while winning a slew of awards, including NL Most Valuable Player. Posey's performance sagged last year, when he hit .294 with 15 homers and 72 RBIs.
Most catchers fantasize about having a 2013 campaign like Posey's. But having proven capable of more, he seeks excellence, not just competence.
So Posey, who turns 27 on March 27, transformed last year's disappointment into diligence. No more 42-point dips in batting average. No more third-place NL West ties for the Giants.
"I definitely think it served as extra motivation," said Posey, who gained 10 pounds, mostly muscle, due to his winter workouts.
Posey pointed out that gaining weight wasn't his objective. Gaining power that resulted from the added pounds was. Posey faded physically as last season elapsed, batting .325 with 13 homers before the All-Star break and .244 with two homers after the Midsummer Classic. His 16 RBIs following the break matched the seventh-fewest among NL players with at least 200 plate appearances.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Barry Bonds coming back to coach

File this one in the "It's about damn time" file -- the Giants have arranged for Barry Bonds to show up as a coach next month at Scottsdale. Henry Schulman of the SF Chron reports that Posey and Belt are up for it. 

The news broke yesterday in the Mercury-News so the Giants put a story on the official web site.  

Of course, the Giants are anticipating that the Bonds haters will weigh in so they're making "we're-so-sorry" statements that acknowledge this is somehow controversial. As for me, I'm still steamed up over the enormous waste of government resources to trial to get a single conviction on a perjury rap....

"Collectively within the organization, we felt that given Barry's desire to continue to contribute to the Giants, we should be open-minded about giving him the same invite that we have given to other players in the past," Giants CEO and president Larry Baer told the newspaper.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

"The Man is here"

Chris Haft of mlb.com just tweeted this --

The Man is here. The Say Hey Kid. No. 24. "Buck." You know, Willie Mays. Nothing more needs to be said.

Well, here's his Baseball Reference page. 

It has this odd note --  Inducted into the Hall of Fame by BBWAA as Player in 1979 (409/432 ballots).

So there are those wacky 23 writers who voted against Mays?! How is that defensible? 

"I just didn't have it"

That's Ryan Vogelsong admitting that he had no effective curve ball last year. Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area has a long post about Vogey, saying that he injured his back in spring training last year after the World Baseball Classic.   

He acknowledges that both he and Lincecum have a lot to prove --

 

You cannot make too much of any throwing session in the spring, particularly in February. But Lincecum, after spending his winter throwing off a mound in a Seattle warehouse, was able to keep his fastball down in the zone – something he usually struggles all spring to do. Vogelsong, although you’d never know it by his perfectionist’s scowl, had encouraging stuff as well.
He had good action on his cutter down and away. He got ground balls on two-seamers on the hands of right-handed hitters. And the curveball was the best of all.
“That was encouraging because I really struggled with that pitch last year,” Vogelsong said. “I just didn’t have it. It was mechanical. I couldn’t get on top because I was around everything. I couldn’t keep it on the plate. This offseason I really focused on having better direction, keep my hand in the zone longer.”
Keeping his arm up – and his guard.
The question might not be whether Vogelsong can rediscover his stuff but how long he can maintain it. That’s a concern not only because of his age, but also because of the way he tends to grind through innings. His ability to will his way out of jams is one of his greatest strengths as a pitcher. But he’ll need to work cleaner, more efficient innings, too. He’ll need to save his punches.
Vogelsong acknowledged he got a little tired toward the end of his first live BP session.
“Which is normal,” he said. “But it’s also a little disappointing not to be able to hold my delivery together.”
No reason to panic, though. It’s February. Pitchers are supposed to be building stamina right now.
As Righetti bottom-lined it, Vogelsong and Lincecum are here. They know how much is riding on them. And they’re comfortable with it.
“Both of us are talking about it and we feel the same way,” Vogelsong said. “We’ve got a lot to prove and we’ve got a lot of people counting on us.”

Timmy's ready (and so am I)

Man, nothing like reading stories about the first weeks of spring training to fill you with optimism. In this case, Andrew Baggarly's recap of the two Tims (Hudson and Lincecum) looking good on the mound has me thinking, "Should I be planning some vacation for late October in case they make it to the Series?" 

Here's part --  One of Hudson’s first tips: when you’re trying to be efficient and get swings, sometimes it’s better to split the plate and keep the ball down than to work for the corners.
“When you see a veteran the first thing you ask is, `How has he stayed in the game so long? How has he simplified?’” Lincecum said.
After talking with Hudson, Lincecum thinks he understands the answer.
“When you get to that point (in your career), you don’t think, `Is my stuff going to be there?’ Or, `Can I get them out up in the zone?’” Lincecum said. “You eliminate that worry, or whatever, and keep the ball down and go from there.”
What is Lincecum’s goal this season? He put it into two words: “Crappy contact.”
While Hudson was throwing on the mound at Scottsdale Stadium, I watched Lincecum on the back field. For a pitcher who usually needs the entire spring to try to get his fastball down, it was remarkable to see Lincecum throwing his fastball mostly at the knees or below.
Lincecum had never displayed that kind of command this early in the spring. Then again, he’s never been this old before, either.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Brandon Belt, LF?

Lefty Malo makes the point that Belt would be more valuable if he were able to start playing left field -- particularly with Posey needing to get more starts at first base.

The Giants had a situation like this in the early 60s with both Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey having to play some left field.

He played 32 games in left in 2011, 4 in 2012 but not one last year when left fielders were bad news at the plate for the Orange and Black I love Gregor Blanco's defense but I'm always a bit surprised when he gets a hit.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Shame on Frank McCourt

Belt gets $2.9 million

The SF Chron's Henry Schulman reports that the Giants front office didn't make a deal until Brandon Belt had already gone to Florida for an arbitration hearing. I think he's a bargain at $2.9 mil -- and one of the guys on the roster with a big upside  

Grant Bisbee at McCovey Chronicles dissects the deal --

 

The Giants haven't gone to arbitration since A.J. Pierzynski and his unchinned countenance somehow convinced a third party of his relative worth. They don't like arbitration. It is nasty business, picking apart the contributions of a valued employee.
Considering their history, it's no surprise that the Giants settled with Brandon Belt, even though the two sides were further apart than almost any possible arbitration case this year. From Andrew Baggarly:
Belt traveled to St. Petersburg, Fla., in preparation for a hearing scheduled to take place on Wednesday. But the proceedings were avoided when he and the Giants agreed to terms on a one-year, $2.9 million contract Tuesday night.
Belt had filed at $3.6 million and the Giants filed at $2.05 million. They settled just above the $2.825 midpoint.
Whatever hopes the Giants had for locking Belt up long term were squashed by the Braves, who signed Freddie Freeman to a substantial deal. The Braves needed cost certainty because of their ill-advised contract with a UHF station. They come on after Wheel of Fish. As such, they were willing to give nine figures to Freddie Freeman, which was rather surprising. It also hosed the Giants.
Belt still has four seasons of team control left, though, so it's not exactly time to plot out schemes to reacquire Jesus Guzman.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Tim's ready

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dusty and Neifi

Neifi Perez was your classic good field no hit guy. In 2003, he had a 1.6 defensive WAR to go with a 0.2 offensive WAR for the Orange and Black.   

The Bleedcubbieblue blog has a good post about the thick-headed "old school" Dusty Baker over-valueing Neifi during the 2005 season by batting him lead off. The Giants had released him in August 2004 after racking up OBPs of .276 and .285 in 2003 and 2004....

He joined the Cubs in August 2004 after being released by the San Francisco Giants. And, in what turned out to be a problem, he played well. In just 23 games to finish off the '04 season, Neifi managed the best offensive stint of his career. He hit .371/.400/.548. Of course, this was all amassed in just 67 plate appearances, a total that should be a meaninglessly small sample size. But Perez looked like Cal Ripken at the plate compared to the "offense" provided by Cub shortstops (Alex Gonzalez, Ramon Martinez, Rey Ordonez) in '04 to that date. Naturally, the Cubs' brass thought this is what they were buying (rather than the consistently subpar offensive numbers that Perez had put up during his career) when they turned the shortstop spot over to Perez full time for the 2005 season.

And oh, the humanity, of that 2005 season. Quick side note: for those worried about offense out of the 2014 Cub outfield, check out the three guys who got the bulk of the playing time that 2005 season. When you're done cringing, we'll turn back to Perez.

Jim Hendry and Dusty Baker put Neifi Perez in a position to be exposed. In turn, Perez produced an offensive season that could have been ticketed for indecent exposure. In 609 (!) PA, Perez hit: .274/.298/.383. He was the perfect kind of player to fool the then Cub brass: a good defender with an empty batting average. To hit .274 and still not have an OBP over .300 is a nearly amazing feat of futility. But Perez achieved just that by walking 18 times all season. That's less than once a week. Good old Dusty never had to worry about Neifi "clogging the bases," that's for sure. Three of the walks were intentional, so Neifi only walked 15 times thanks to his own effort. So, naturally, Dusty frequently batted Neifi near the top of the order.

Perez had a wRC+ of just 72 that season and managed to amass 1 WAR, thanks to his defense.

In a more reduced role in 2006, Perez managed to hit even worse: .254/.266/.343 before being dealt to the Detroit Tigers in late August in exchange for Chris Robinson. All told in '06, Perez was a below-replacement-level player, costing his teams (mostly the Cubs) a total of -0.7 WAR. He played in 33 more games the following season for the Tigers before calling it a career.

He ended up being "worth" -2.8 WAR over his career. That actually makes the 2005 season Cub fans look back on in disgust as one of Perez' most valuable seasons.

So what should we make of Neifi Perez and his time with the Cubs? There is a place for good defenders like Perez in the big leagues, but they really ought to be the worst bat in an otherwise strong offensive line-up. They probably shouldn't be full-time players and should hit at the bottom of the line-up. Those were lesson lost on "old school" Dusty Baker.

Friday, February 14, 2014

5 Orange and Black questions

the SF Chron's Henry Schulman asks the big ones -- starting pitching, 700 runs, Panda, Belt and the kids. 

I ask one -- will the Dodgers suck? Yes they will.

Listen up: the evil dodgers always suck. Even when they win, they suck.

Got it? OK 

If you don't like it, get out of here

THE DODGERS SUCK. ALWAYS HAVE. ALWAYS WILL.

I'm glad we've sorted that out

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chad Gaudin released by Phils

One of the few success stories for the Giants last year was Chad Gaudin, who racked up a 5-1 record but did not pitch after mid-August with a carpal tunnel injury.

The Phils have just released him without specifying a reason, per this Comcast story ...

 I don’t want to get specific,” GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “We didn’t feel comfortable with the exam yesterday and we decided to let him go.”

Gaudin went to camp on a minor-league contract with the San Francisco Giants last season and ended up being an important member of that club. He pitched in 30 games, 12 of them starts, and went 5-2 with a 3.06 ERA. He was 5-1 with a 3.53 ERA in his 12 starts.

Gaudin did not pitch after Aug. 16 when he was treated for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Phillies medical officials examined Gaudin in January before he signed his minor-league contract. At the time, Amaro said, “He has a very good chance to make the team.” Something apparently changed in the time between Gaudin’s signing and Wednesday’s reporting-day physical.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

George Will's Opening Day Quiz

Though I ususally diagree with George Will's politics, he crafted a darn good quiz last year. 

It's 33 questions -- all of them pretty good! Mays, McCovey and Lincecum are some of the possible answers....

I got 25 right.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Worst Orange and Black rotation since 2006

Wow. According to Chris Haft of mlb.com, the Giants were just plain awful at starting pitching last year withuot much dept when Zito was awful, Vogelsong was bad, Cain had a lousy first half, Lincecum was inconsistent. Here's they key verbiage -- 

The lack of depth hit the starting rotation particularly hard last year. Giants' starters recorded a 4.37 ERA, their worst since they posted a 4.58 figure in 2006. Barry Zito never established consistency and Ryan Vogelsong dealt with ineffectiveness, then injury.
Asked recently to explain his confidence that the Giants have enough starters to avoid a similar collapse, general manager Brian Sabean said, "I can't tell you I have that confidence yet. We're going to find that out in Spring Training, [with] the competition for the 11th or 12th pitcher, and how much our younger guys progressed over the year.
"To me, that's exciting."
Hence the Giants will monitor their modestly accomplished starters as closely as their front five (Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Tim Hudson and Vogelsong), each of whom has made at least one All-Star team. A role as a long reliever -- who likely would be the first pitcher called upon when a substitute starter is needed -- probably awaits the winner of the competition that could develop among Yusmeiro Petit, Edwin Escobar and David Huff.

Friday, February 07, 2014

A-Rod gives up

Thursday, February 06, 2014

The left field strangeness of the Orange and Black

Chris Haft of mlb.com has a very interesting post about how the Giants have had a different Opening Day leftfielder every year since 2007. His point is that maybe Michael Morse can be a stable force. LETS'S GO GIANTS!!!

Here's the list --

Revolving door in left field
Giants' Opening Day starters in left since '07
Year Player
2007 Barry Bonds
2008 Dave Roberts
2009 Fred Lewis
2010 Mark DeRosa
2011 Pat Burrell
2012 Aubrey Huff
2013 Andres Torres  



Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The Opening Day starting pitcher

John Shea of the SF Chron contends it should be Madison Bumgarner. Here's who's starting on opening day for the last 14 seasons --

Livan Hernandez (2000-02),
Kirk Rueter (2003-04),
Jason Schmidt (2005-06),
Barry Zito (2007-08),
Tim Lincecum (2009-12)
Matt Cain (2013)

Here's part of the verbiage --  Bumgarner is the man who should start Opening Day, March 31, in Arizona.
He had a career year in 2013 while everyone else in the rotation was down, a major reason the Giants won just 76 games. Cain and Lincecum had 4-plus ERAs. Barry Zito's and Ryan Vogelsong's were in the high 5s. Their collective 4.78 was an embarrassment next to Bumgarner's 2.77.
Bumgarner led the rotation in wins (13), innings (201 1/3 ), strikeouts (199) and WHIP (1.03) and was the saving grace in a group that ranked 13th in a 15-team league in ERA after ranking in the top five the previous four seasons.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Yoon in the Orange and Black?

Hardball Talk has a post about Korean pitcher Suk-Min Yoon throwing for Giants and Orioles scouts. I guess he'd be someone to spot start and do long relief.  

He's 30 and repped by Scott Boras. From the short piece --  He won the 2011 MVP in the Korean Baseball Organization after posting a 2.45 ERA and 178 strikeouts in 172 1/3 innings.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Belt seeking $3.6 million