Saturday, February 28, 2015

"That was huge"

That's BB, Brandon Belt, talking about the 18th inning HR he hit in Game 2 of the NLDS.

Here's part of the SF Chron's story --

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Brandon Belt walked into the Scottsdale Stadium clubhouse Thursday morning carrying a lime green soft-sided cooler. The kind your kid might carry to school.
Inside the cooler could be the secret to the Giants season: a chorizo scramble, parmesan-crusted turkey and fruit.
Belt has been on a serious nutrition plan for most of the past three months. In consultation with the Giants’ performance dietician Danielle LaFata, Belt has relied on prepared meals to help him become leaner, stronger and healthier.
“I don’t trust myself to make those meals and make the right portion sizes,” Belt said. “So I let this company do it.”
A new interest in health is usually a sign of a player’s growing maturity. Belt is now 26, and the Giants are ready for him to have a big season in 2015, his fifth in the majors.
“We’re waiting on a bust-out season from Brandon,” general manager Brian Sabean said earlier this week. “He’s capable of it. He might be poised to do it.”
No pressure there, right?
“It does not put any pressure on me,” Belt said. “I expect it from myself.”
Others have been expecting it for a while. Belt made the Giants at 22 (famously breaking into tears on camera, prompting Bruce Bochy to offer, “You need a beer? Grab a beer.”) It was probably too early and he went back and forth between San Francisco and Fresno. In 2012, he eventually became the full-time first baseman, played 145 games and helped the Giants win a World Series. After a slow start in 2013, Belt adjusted his stance and was blistering hot over the final two months of the season.
Last year, he seemed poised to pick up where he left off in 2013, to have a breakout season. Instead he broke his thumb. Shortly after coming off the disabled list, he was hit in the head by an errant infield throw and suffered a serious concussion, endangering his entire season. Belt played only 61 games.
“It was frustrating,” he said. “But I’m proud of myself because I came back and was able to contribute.”
When the playoffs started, Belt was healthy. He started all 17 playoff games and batted .295. His most memorable contribution was a winning home run in the 18th inning in Washington that put the Giants up 2-0 in the series against a Nationals team that was expected to win. It was October’s turning point.
“That was huge,” he said. “I think after that game we kind of knew. ... There was a good chance we were going to do this again.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hunter Strickland deals with his postseason record

Monday, February 23, 2015

SI gives the Giants a D for off-season

Well, the team shouldn't be too over-confident with reports like this. 

Along with the Mets and Rox, the Giants got a D from Sports Illustrated for their offseason moves.Here's the verbiage -- 

Preliminary Grade (Feb. 4): D
Final Grade: D
Key moves since preliminary grade: Signed LHP Clay Rapada to a minor league deal

Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse are gone, Casey McGehee and Nori Aoki are here, and Jake Peavy, Ryan Vogelsong and Sergio Romo were retained. The Giants avoid the minus here because Morse didn't fit on an NL team with a good first baseman, and Sandoval is likely to prove a poor investment. San Francisco did technically replace both, and coming off the team's third championship in five years, there's only so much criticism that will stick to this organization. —Cliff Corcoran

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The 3 Buster Hugs

Henry Schulman of the SF Chron has a fine piece about Buster Posey being there for the final out of the 2010, 2012 and 2014 World Series. 

Here's part --

 The first thing when I see that picture is, I can’t believe Bumgarner just did what he did. What stands out to me is the conversation we had after Gordon got on third, and just how calm and confident Bum was. He just said, “I got this. I’m going to get him out.” There was no other thought in his mind. It definitely made me settle in a lot more once he said that.
Playing in a Game 7 was completely different. It’s the last game of the year. There are no other games for anybody else in baseball. As a fan, I understand how unique a Game 7 of the World Series is. They don’t come around too often. As much as I could, I tried to appreciate the moment. Once the game got going, it seemed to move pretty quickly.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Humble Pie for Timmy

Henry Schulman of the SF Chron explains that Tim Lincecum was so desperate to make his pitching motion work that he turned to his dad.

I'm thinking "What took you so long?" But that's easy for me to say  

He said a very Tim-like thing -- 
“It’s kind of like a kid with a bad report card,” Lincecum said. “You can’t hide it from (your parents) all summer, can you?”

 Lincecum’s inability to repeat his mechanics has been the main reason he has struggled. He still had the stuff to no-hit the San Diego Padres for a second season in a row last year but could not consistenlty pitch well. By season’s end, he was in the bullpen and was practically an afterthought in the postseason.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The biggest question marks for the Orange and Black

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Your 85-77 SF Giants

ESPN's David Schoenfield has placed the Orange and Black as the No.  11 team this year.  He does not like the McGehee deal and says Panik will decline. He's also unimpressed with the rotation: 

Big offseason moves: Lost 3B Pablo Sandoval to free agency; re-signed RHPs Jake Peavy, Sergio Romo and Ryan Vogelsong; acquired 3B Casey McGehee from the Marlins; lost OF Michael Morse to free agency; signed OF Norichika Aoki.
Most intriguing player: Madison Bumgarner. Can he replicate his postseason dominance over 30-something starts? Will the Giants handle him differently early in the season after pitching 270 innings between the regular season and postseason in 2014? Will he hit four home runs again?

Due for a better year: Brandon Belt played just 61 games and hit just .243. But he did crack 12 home runs in 214 at-bats, indicating he could hit 20 to 25 home runs if he stays on the field.

Due for a worse year: Joe Panik was a career .293 hitter in the minors but hit .305 with the Giants. He does put the ball in play, but don't expect another .300 season -- especially if he tries to add some power to his game.

I'm just the messenger: My least favorite acquisition of the offseason was McGehee. The Giants do love their vets. McGehee had an acceptable year with the Marlins, mainly because of an above-average OBP. But buried in that was a lack of power (four home runs), a ton of double plays hit into (31) and a lack of range at third. If he doesn't hit .287 again, his value dips to replacement level and the Giants will be looking for a different third baseman.

the final word: It was obviously a bit of a strange offseason for the champs, who were reportedly interested in signing Jon Lester and then James Shields, but failed to bring either guy to San Francisco, instead re-signing Peavy and Vogelsong and hoping Matt Cain returns from his elbow surgery. In analyzing the Giants, I'm left wondering: How they are going to get better? And they barely made the playoffs last year. The offense should be solid with Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and an improved Belt. Brandon Crawford is a superb defender at short and the bullpen should once again be deep and effective. But the rotation behind Bumgarner is shaky: Cain's health, Tim Hudson's age, Tim Lincecum's ineffectiveness and Peavy's age/health are all legitimate issues. I don't foresee a sub-.500 season like 2013, but I do see the Dodgers as the clear favorite in the NL West.

Prediction: 85-77

Monday, February 09, 2015

"I tell ya, I get no respect"

The  Giants are the Rodney Dangerfield of MLB. Here's a list of the top 10 lineups and no mention of the Giants, who as usual have stronger pitching than average. 

Park factors at ATT tend to hold down the SF offense -- which has been good enough to win 3 World Series in 5 years....

Anyhow, the Good Guys certainly probably are not going to give into the curse of complacency...

The current lineup -- my guess anyhow

Pagan CF
Panik 2b
Blet 1B
Posey C
Pence RF
McGehee 3B
Crawford SS
Aoki LF

Anyhow, the blog Sports on Earth sees it this way

Blue Jays
Tie between Astros and Rox

Belt ready to belt

Remember  this? Top of the 18th, Giants Batting, Tied 1-1, Nationals' Tanner Roark facing 6-7-8

John Shea of the SF Chron has a nice story about Brandon Belt focusing on staying in shape and eating healthy...

The Giants lost a lot of power with the departures of Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse, but Brandon Belt doesn’t see a problem.
“We lost 40 home runs, but I’m probably going to hit 50 or 60,” he said.
Prepare for a more confident Belt this season. Maybe a more steady Belt. Preferably a more healthy Belt. Certainly a more in-shape Belt, who’s training like no other time in his career, including more functional workouts and a better diet.
No kidding. The first baseman ditched junk food. For the most part, anyway. He has better eating habits. Feels better. Might even look better. The next step is to play better. Or at least play with more consistency while staying clear of long stints on the disabled list, an absolute necessity for a team that lost two big run producers.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

RIP Rocky Bridges

Rocky had a 3.0 WAR over 11 seasons. He passed away in Idaho on Jan. 27.

He was part of an elaborate trade in 1953 -- : Traded as part of a 4-team trade by the Brooklyn Dodgers to the Cincinnati Reds. The Milwaukee Braves sent cash to the Cincinnati Reds. The Milwaukee Braves sent Earl Torgeson to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Cincinnati Reds sent Joe Adcock to the Milwaukee Braves. The Brooklyn Dodgers sent Jim Pendleton to the Milwaukee Braves. The Philadelphia Phillies sent cash to the Milwaukee Braves. The Philadelphia Phillies sent Russ Meyer to the Brooklyn Dodgers.

 Rocky was the manager of the Giants' Phoenix farm club and a coach under Jim Davenport and left behind a fine legacy. Jay Jaffe at Futility Infielder has a long post. Here's part -- 

In an 11-year major league career that included all of 562 hits, 16 home runs, 10 stolen bases and a pedestrian .247/.310/.313 batting line — yet somehow also an All-Star appearance — the limitations of Rocky Bridges’ ability were dwarfed by a persistence that allowed him to spend nearly half a century in the game. Armed with a self-deprecating wit, he was a natural in conveying to impressionable young men  the message that talent and skill alone aren’t sufficient to thrive, that the need to enjoy the game, to remember that it’s supposed to be fun, is necessary to cope with its ups and downs.
As the manager of the Pacific Coast League’s Phoenix Giants from 1974 through 1982, Bridges brought his team through my hometown of Salt Lake City (host of the Angels and later Mariner affiliates during that timespan) with regularity, and quips from the eminently quotable skipper often found their way into The Salt Lake Tribune. The passage from the Boyd/Harris book, which I stumbled across when I was 13 or 14, sketched out his back story as a fringe major leaguer, and in the late 1990s, my pal Nick Stone unearthing a used copy of the Jim Bouton-edited I Managed Good, But Boy Did They Play Bad, an anthology whose title and first chapter came from a 1964 Sports Illustrated profile of Bridges just as he was winding up the first of his 21 seasons piloting a minor league club. Writer Gilbert Rogin called Bridges “one of the best stand-up comics in the history of baseball,” and several generations of scribes who had the fortune to cover him over the years would probably agree. Rogin’s 3,500-word piece — and just about everything else written about him over the past sixty-some years — is stuffed with punchline after punchline from the former Punch-and-Judy hitter.