Friday, January 30, 2015

Kyle Crick in the Orange and Black

With the Giants having an uncertain rotation after Bumgarner -- Cain, Peavy, Lincecum, Petit, Hudson and Vogelsong - Kyle Crick has a real shot at hitting the big time this year.

Chris Haft of points out that Crick is no. 79 on the MLB list of top 100 prospects. He spent the year in double A.

Here's part --

Crick is ranked No. 79 overall, down from 32nd a year ago. His 6-7 record with a 3.79 ERA in 23 games (22 starts) for San Francisco's Double-A Richmond affiliate last year did not connote greatness.
But when Crick throws his fastball, which regularly travels between 95-97 mph, expectations rise.
"He started out pretty rough, really struggling to command the ball," Bradley said, explaining the right-hander's uneven 2014 campaign. "In the second half of the season, he started pitching shorter stints and his curveball got better, his changeup got better and his command overall got better, for the most part."
As is the case with most developing pitchers, Crick must become able to repeat his pitching motion, which is the source of all consistency.
"He has to mature a little bit," Bradley said. "He still thinks that when he gets in trouble, he has to throw harder. He has to learn not to change the tempo of his delivery."
San Francisco's "sandwich" pick (49th overall) in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Crick immediately was regarded as a prime candidate to continue the lineage of homegrown starters who have excelled for the Giants, most notably Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner. Among those who maintained this belief was Crick, which impeded his progress.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Willie and Joe go to New York

Pure pleasure for Giants fans, reading Chris Haft's account on about Willie Mays and Joe Panik visiting New York. What a great event. Here's part -- 

"A few guys said their lives are complete now that they shook hands with the great Willie Mays," said Michael Weinberg, who grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of New York. "How many players can say they make people feel that way 42 years after they stopped playing?"
Mays, who accumulated 660 home runs while being widely regarded as the game's quintessential center fielder, reciprocated the adulation. "When they like you, they love you," he said of New Yorkers. Welcomed back to New York by the moderator, the Hall of Famer grinned widely and remarked, "I never left," referring to the apartment he kept in Riverdale after the Giants left town.
Mays, 83, jovially prodded guests to interrogate not just him, but also Panik: "Don't forget Joe here, guys." But Panik knew who the audience came to see. He playfully rolled his eyes when Mays casually mentioned that he hit "only" 29 home runs in 1958, wordlessly conveying that he could only dream of displaying such power.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Vogey's back's Chris Haft is reporting that Vogelsong is near a deal with the Giants.

The SF Chronicle's Bruce Jenkins proved how worthless he is a few days ago by saying that Vogey was gone.

Bruce has never cared much about facts. Way to embarrass the paper, Bruce. 

Has he bothered to acknowledge that he was in error? Well, here it is at 12:30 am Friday -- no word. 

Meanwhile, Haft explains succinctly what's going on here --

The Giants' current projected rotation consists of Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson. But Hudson (right ankle) and Cain (right elbow, right ankle) are coming off surgeries, though both are expected to be ready for the regular season. Lincecum is attempting to regain his form after ending last season in the bullpen. Peavy recorded a 6.19 ERA in four postseason starts. Swingman Yusmeiro Petit never has started for a full season in the Major Leagues.
Even Bumgarner, the World Series hero, must be watched carefully after working 270 innings, including a record 52 2/3 during the pressure-packed postseason in 2014.
It was widely assumed that Vogelsong would head elsewhere after Peavy signed a two-year deal on Dec. 23. However, about two weeks afterward, it was learned that Hudson underwent surgery, reviving the Giants' interest in Vogelsong.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Why Nori Aoki?

 My first reaction has been that Brian Sabean has decided that starting Gregor Blanco every day and having Juan Perez and Travis Ishikawa as the 4th and 5th outfielders isn't really that good an option, particularly given that Angel Pagan hasn't played a full season since 2012.

Juan Perez had some great moments in the 2014 postseason but the bottom line is that he went 5 for 25. He's just not much of a hitter.

Nori has racked up a 7.5 WAR in 3 years. That's more than decent.

Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs has a long but fascinating explanation of the Aoki signing. Bottom line -- Aoki should be a decent replacement for Michael Morse: a far better defender who's not going to go on the DL.

He's also not going to hit a lot of HRs in a park where it's damn difficult to hit them. Sullivan projects the Giants to hit the lowest amount of HRs in MLB this year. 

Here's part --

Yet there’s so much more to baseball than home runs. Sabean, at least, is betting on that being true. Dave already wrote some time back that Aoki compares very well to Nick Markakis, who signed with the Braves for $44 million. Aoki has signed for a minimum of $4.7 million and one year, and he’s signed for a maximum of $12.5 million and two years. Aoki apparently turned down a bigger offer or three because of San Francisco’s comfort and track record, but I think he’s been pretty clearly undervalued, which makes this a good get for a team whose success somehow always seems sneaky.
At the best of times, Aoki wasn’t a home-run hitter. As a rookie in Milwaukee, he knocked out ten dingers. Then he hit eight, then he hit one. His power didn’t translate to Kauffman Stadium from Miller Park, as Kauffman’s plenty bigger and Aoki’s power is just about completely down the right-field line. He’s yanked every single one of his career home runs that wasn’t an inside-the-parker (of which he’s hit one). According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, Aoki has hit one home run with a standard distance of at least 390 feet. He’s averaged 372 feet. He’s hit weak home runs, basically, and he’s hit a total of three career dingers that would’ve left every MLB ballpark.
San Francisco shouldn’t be bad for him — AT&T Park will yield home runs down the right-field line, and of course there’s the triple spot in the right-center gap. AT&T will be no more difficult for Aoki than Kauffman, and I probably shouldn’t even be dwelling on power anyway. Aoki has selling points, and power’s never been among them.
He’s very difficult to strike out. Every year, Aoki posts one of baseball’s highest contact rates. He doesn’t chase much, so Aoki can also work a walk. He’s shown absolutely no vulnerability against left-handed pitchers, so he doesn’t need to be platooned, and there might be no less shiftable hitter in the game. Aoki hits the ball anywhere and everywhere, provided you’re only looking within 350 feet of home plate. Though people remember some Aoki baserunning gaffes, he’s not a lousy baserunner. Though people remember some Aoki defensive gaffes, he’s not a lousy defender. As a matter of fact, by both DRS and UZR, he’s been above-average. He did see the bench during the World Series, but then just about everybody is an inferior defender to Jarrod Dyson. Aoki doesn’t have baseball’s greatest defensive instincts, but to this point he’s made more than enough plays.
In some sense, Aoki might seem redundant with Gregor Blanco, a versatile outfielder who’s also underrated for not having any power. But now the Giants have four functional outfielders, instead of three and Juan Perez. And while Angel Pagan is good, he hasn’t played every day since 2012. In 2013, he had surgery on his leg. In 2014, he had surgery on his back. It would’ve been irresponsible for a contending team to go into the year with three decent outfielders, and one of them being Pagan, so the Giants have done themselves an affordable favor, improving depth now and at the very least strengthening the bench.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Aoki in the Orange and Black

This looks like a decent signing for the Orange and Black; the front office certainly got a close look at him during the World Series. 

Per --

The Giants filled their vacant left-field position Friday, agreeing with outfielder Nori Aoki on a one-year contract with an option, according to multiple reports.
The deal is worth $4.7 million plus incentives with a $4 million guaranteed salary for 2015 and a $5.5 million option for 2016 or a $700,000 buyout, according to CBS Sports and the San Francisco Chronicle. The incentives could take the deal up to $12.5 million. The club has not confirmed the deal.
Aoki, 33, joins Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence in San Francisco's starting outfield, while Gregor Blanco moves to a backup role.
Aoki has been remarkably consistent in his three Major League seasons since coming over from Japan, hitting .288 in 2012, .286 in 2013 and .285 last season. He spent his first two years with the Brewers before playing a key role last season for the American League-champion Royals.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Memories of Kenny Lofton

One of the best moves made by the Giants in 2002 was a deadline deal for Kenny Lofton for two prospects. So instead of Tsuyoshi Shinjo, the team had a another fine centerfielder who could actually hit. He played two months on the team and got the winning RBI in the NLCS. He started the rally in the 8th with a single and scored on Bonds long sac fly, then concluded a 2-out rally in the ninth with a single that scored David Bell for a 2-1 vic.

Then he went 9 for 31 in the Series. He'd racked up a 3.7 WAR in 2002 between the Chisox and the Giants, but the Giants didn't sign him. He was 35 at the time but a fine centerfielder. The Giants decided to sign another 36-year old to play centerfield -- Marquis Grissom.

EPSN has now come up with a list of all-time under-rated players that the dingbat Hall of Fame voters can't recognize, such as Lou Whitaker (nearly 75 WAR) and Lofton (over 68 WAR)...

 CF: Kenny Lofton (1991-2007)
Stats: .299/.372/.423, 622 SB, 1,528 R, 2,428 H
Career WAR: 68.2
Higher WAR than ... Duke Snider, Richie Ashburn, Kirby Puckett

Here's something that may shock you: Among players who played at least 50 percent of their career games in center field since 1901, Lofton ranks seventh in all-time WAR, behind only the legends -- Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Mickey Mantle, Ken Griffey Jr. and Joe DiMaggio. But he was one-and-done on the Hall of Fame ballot. I'd say that makes him underrated.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Ethier in the Orange and Black?

What's intriguing about this idea is that Ethier was a pretty decent player in 2012 and 2013 with WARs of 3.8 and 3.0.

Anyhow, this is an idea being floated is all.

In this case, it's John Shea of the SF Chronicle, noting that Gregor Blanco actually had more homers (five) than Ethier (four). --

The Dodgers are OK with trading Andre Ethier even after moving Matt Kemp to San Diego because they still have Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford and Joc Pederson in the outfield. Pederson, 22, is considered the best defensive center fielder in the organization and was the MVP of the Pacific Coast League, the first PCL player in 80 years with at least 30 homers and 30 steals.
Ethier is 32, a year younger than Zobrist, but is coming off his worst season, hitting .249 with four homers. That was as a part-timer as the Dodgers tried to squeeze four or five outfielders into three spots. If the Dodgers deal Ethier, they might need to pick up most of his remaining contract, which averages $18 million per year over three years.
Imagine Ethier having a bounce-back year with the Giants on the Dodgers’ dime. On the other hand, Blanco actually outhit Ethier (.260, five homers), and the Giants would prefer to find a better, more stable fit, someone with a tinier contract. No, Josh Hamilton doesn’t fit that bill.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The strange but true 2014 postseason

ESPN's Jayson Stark has a long but very entertaining post about the wackiness that was the 2014 postseason 

Here is part --

The team that won the World Series, those apparently unstoppable San Francisco Giants, just had another one of those strange-but-true magic-carpet rides they've become so world-famous for. Let's try to comprehend their fascinating ride to the parade floats:
• Over their final 99 regular-season games, they had a worse record (46-53 -- seven games under .500) -- than the Mets, Cubs or Padres. For some reason, those teams won 12 fewer postseason games than the Giants did.
• The Giants then got one quality start out of starting pitchers not named Madison Bumgarner during the entire postseason. And that was by Tim Hudson, in a game they would have lost if baseball games were 26 outs long instead of 27.
• But wait. This gets even stranger. Giants starting pitchers never made it through the second inning in either Game 6 or Game 7 of the World Series. Naturally, they won the World Series anyway. That was one more start of five outs or shorter, incidentally, than we'd seen in potential clinching games in the previous 52 World Series put together.
• So obviously, the Giants won the World Series because of their lineup, right? Oh, wait. Have I mentioned that in postseason games Bumgarner started, seven of the eight position players in that lineup had a lower slugging percentage than the pitcher?
• Oh, and have I also mentioned that the face of the Giants' franchise, their very best offensive player, Buster Posey, had as many extra-base hits in this postseason as Joe Buck? Right. That would be none.

Biggio makes Hall of Fame even more of a joke

While the Giants have won 3 World Series, the perception of the team is no longer "the bastards who gave Barry Bonds a chance to play."

It's a strange payback for all those years of public approbation for having employed Bonds.

Meanwhile, the Hall of Fame is more and more irrelevant. How Craig Biggio can be in and Bonds out is something that is  the essence of pretzel logic.

Why would I make such a statement?

I was reading through John Shea's commentary for the SF Chron and his take was -- Bonds and Clemens will get in once another PED player gets in. 

Well, maybe. It occurs to me that use of PEDs was so widespread that there ARE already users in the Hall. We just don't know who. Which brings me back to Biggio. He hit a career-high 24 HRs when he was 38 and 26 when he was 39. What?????

He had a career WAR of 65, which makes him a marginal candidate, not a slam dunk. If there were a Hall of the Very Good, he'd be in it.

I'm not trying to insult Biggio. But it's worth pointing out that Bonds had a career WAR of 162. In other words, he was almost 3 times as valuable as Biggio over the course of his career.

I'll say it again -- the Hall of Fame is a joke.

A commenter named Ron40 summed it up nicely ....

Craig Biggio, a nice guy who smiles a lot, set a career home run record at age 38. And then he improved on that mark when he was 39. In the era of PEDs. Of course, there is no reason at all to suspect that he was a user. None at all. Because he smiles and is nice.

And that, of course, is the essential problem. No one knows who or who did not use. There are users already in the Hall. Of course there are.

At this point, the essential reason certain players who deserve the recognition are not in the Hall is the BBWA is (a) exhibiting bias of a variety of sorts and (b) many writers in the BBWA are boobs. Who don't even cover baseball. The BBWA is an anachronism, invented in the days when baseball writers were the only people who were able to see all players play. That is not the era in which we live. The Hall should adjust their procedures. Simpler said.

Monday, January 05, 2015

RIP Stu Miller

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Hasta la vista, Vogey

Ryan Vogelsong pitched twice in the 2014 World Series. He got knocked out of the box in the third in game 4, giving up 4 runs. Those were the only runs the Royals scored that night while Giants came from a 4-1 deficit to glorious 11-4 vic

Chris Haft of asserts that the Giants probably won't re-sign him. He was a pretty good pitcher in 2011 and 2012 but hasn't gotten it back since....

-- Ryan Vogelsong is more than a pitcher. He is a Giant through and through.
Vogelsong, a free agent, isn't yet officially an ex-Giant. But the two-year contract that Jake Peavy received gave the Giants a full complement of starting pitchers and likely will squeeze out Vogelsong -- who, according to those who know him closely, maintained hopes of spending the rest of his career with the club. Obviously, such sentiments cannot be allowed to determine personnel moves. If Brian Sabean believed the Giants are better off without Vogelsong, it's difficult to argue with the general manager who engineered three World Series triumphs in five seasons.
Nevertheless, Vogelsong deserves a special salute for his character, conduct and performance. He won the Willie Mac Award in 2011 as the club's most inspirational player. The Giants won all seven of his postseason starts -- including four in 2012, when he was their leading postseason winner (3-0).

Friday, January 02, 2015

The trophy tour

I try to not to be overly sentimental but I do enjoy having a photo of me that was shot in July, 2011, at AT&T Park with the 2011 World Series trophy. I'd waited since 1958 so it was pretty damn special.

In the interest of offering a public service, here are the dates and locations for the upcoming trophy tour -- starting Jan, 7 in Sacramento.

Back to me -- that night four years ago was the longest game of the season. Right after the 14th inning stretch, this happened -- 

b14 5-5 0 --- 5,(1-2)  R SFG N. Schierholtz P. Neshek 38% 100% Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep RF)

The seven homeruns in the Giants 2014 postseason

McCovey Chronicles has a long, fine post about them.

The top homer of the postseason came from Brandon Belt --

This was the ultimate troll. Late into the night, in the eighteenth inning, against a team the Giants weren't even supposed to beat. And yet they held on. They held on for so long and they held on so hard that eventually, they just wore down the Nationals. This troll job epitomized the Giants' entire run through the playoffs. It was improbable and it surprised the world. It trolled the world. If a team thinks the Giants are going to beat themselves, then that team is sadly mistaken (unless, of course, they think that after Hunter Strickland comes into the game). Beat the Giants or face the consequences.
Their greatest troll didn't come when they won the World Series again, it came when they beat a team with a better record and long after anyone could figure out what was happening in the NLDS. The Giants win the ugly ones because that's what trolls do.
When should you use it?
All the time. Whenever. All forums. In response to all tweets. Use it liberally. Don't be stingy with it. When you love Brandon Belt. When someone stumbles into your sphere of influence spouting off on Brandon Belt's latest slump -- drop a Brabelt on 'em. When Matt Williams manages in the playoffs over the next fives years -- Brabelt.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Dodgers = desperation

Happy New Year, by the way

The Dodgers will be giving up any shred of morality if they sign this guy, Chin-hui Tsao.

Baseball's biggest crisis came in 1919 when Arnold Rothstein fixed the World Series.

Say it ain't so, Dodgers. Here's part of the Yahoo Sports report --

While it’s fair to assume Tsao is remorseful for his actions – according to reports, he agreed to throw two games in exchange for “benefits” from gamblers – and we are a forgiving society for those whose fastballs tend to warm up a radar gun, inviting a player banned by not one but two leagues (three weeks ago the Australian Baseball League voided his contract with the Adelaide Bite before it began) ought to be sticky for Major League Baseball.
Think Black Sox. Think Pete Rose. Think about the official conniption over Alex Rodriguez’s occasional poker habit. Don’t, please, think about the clubhouse March Madness pools.
An investigation reportedly found Tsao had accepted these “benefits” (sex, among them) and was expected to throw those two games during the Chinese Professional Baseball League’s 2009 season. One game was rained out. The other didn’t come off because of lack of support in the locker room. His punishment was limited to expulsion from the league. Presumably he was saved further legal consequences because of his own inability to predict the weather or the competitive temperaments of his teammates.
The former big-leaguer – Colorado Rockies from 2003-05, Dodgers in ’07 – hadn’t played in a league of significance since ’09, but is attempting a comeback. According to one scout, Tsao had been “throwing the [bejesus] out of the ball.” So there’s that.
A few days ago, the Los Angeles Times reported the Dodgers were “close” to signing Tsao to a minor-league deal and suggested the club had received clearance from MLB to do so. Both are true. The Dodgers contacted MLB prior to engaging with Tsao, a baseball source with knowledge of those conversations told Yahoo Sports. The league looked into the circumstances surrounding Tsao’s expulsion, found some “ambiguities” in the case, and cleared the way for the signing, the source said.
This much seems clear, ambiguities notwithstanding: A guy banned from playing baseball somewhere else (or, in this case, two somewhere elses) for at least entertaining the idea of throwing games probably should not be rewarded with a second chance here. Not with a major league club. Not on a minor-league deal.