Monday, December 28, 2015

High hopes for 2016

2010, 2012, 2014, 2016

Any responsible Giants Fan knows what those 4 numbers mean.

Chris Haft of examines the keys for the good guys

1. How will the new guys do?
All eyes will be on right-handers Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, the pricey free agents acquired to reinforce the starting rotation. If both perform at or near their best, the Giants should have one of the best rotations in the Majors, assuming Madison Bumgarner continues to pitch at an All-Star level. Consider that Jake Peavy and Matt Cain, who entered Spring Training last year as San Francisco's second and third starters, respectively, could form the back end of this rotation. Should Cueto and Samardzija encounter the struggles that occasionally befell them in recent years, the scene at AT&T Park will recall Barry Zito's unpleasant early years as a Giant.
2. How's the right side of the infield?
We'll see. The Giants have been waiting for first baseman Brandon Belt to sustain the run production that he has provided in relatively short bursts throughout his career. Though Belt is eligible for salary arbitration again next year, he'd probably prefer a multi-year contract such as the one shortstop Brandon Crawford received. But Belt must deliver offensively to coax the Giants into considering him worthy of this privilege. Second baseman Joe Panik appeared destined for greatness in 2015 when he made the All-Star team in his first full season. Then came the back injury that sidelined him prematurely. Spring Training should indicate whether Panik has overcome this problem or must continue to grapple with it at age 25.

3. Is the outfield whole?
This issue could nag the Giants all season if the health of center fielder Angel Pagan and right fielder Hunter Pence causes concern. If Pagan avoids the knee problems that hampered him last season, the Giants will have the offensive catalyst they need. Pence's lost 2015 began with a freak injury when he was hit by a pitch in a Cactus League game, so there's every reason to believe that he can resume being an everyday performer.

4. Are auditions for the closer's role open?
Possibly. Incumbent closer Santiago Casilla, who quietly converted 38 of 44 save opportunities last season, is in the final year of his contract. So is erstwhile closer Sergio Romo. Management hasn't said so, but if the Giants need to economize somewhere next season, they might let Casilla and Romo enter free agency and bestow the closer's duties upon Hunter Strickland, Josh Osich or one of their other promising young relievers -- based on 2016 performance.
5. What can be expected from Buster Posey?
Anything from multifaceted competence to soaring excellence. Right now, Bay Area sports fans are watching Warriors guard Stephen Curry develop into an all-time great before their very eyes. Come baseball season, the same could be said of Posey, who steadily performs at an All-Star level yet probably hasn't yet put together his best season. Reducing or eliminating the disparity between his home and road performance could make a difference. Though Posey has had seasons when his AT&T Park output topped his numbers elsewhere in at least one major offensive category, he has fared better overall on the road (.328/.393/.520 with 63 homers and 245 RBIs, compared with .291/.355/.444, 39 and 202). A year in which Posey's home numbers matched his road statistics could be prodigious.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Big Six

All good Giants fans know that "Big Six" was Christy Mathewson's nickname. I read the entire Wikipedia entry on him but it didn't say how he got the nickname.

It turns out that he was named Big Six after New York City's most famous fire engine.

Anyhow, MC O'Connor at Raising (Matt Cain) has a fine post about how 12 of the guys on the 2012 World Series team are still on the team. What's the "Big Six" in my headline -- it's the six guys (Bumgarner, Cain, Casilla, Lopez, Romo and Posey) who were on all three Series winners and are still Giants.

 The Giants carried 12 pitchers on that squad:

*Jeremy Affeldt: retired.
*Madison Bumgarner: signed through 2017 with options for '18 and '19.
*Matt Cain: signed through 2017 with an option for '18.
*Santiago Casilla: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
George Kontos: first-year arb-eligible
*Tim Lincecum: a free agent.
*Javier Lopez: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Jose Mijares: a free agent.
*Guillermo Mota: retired.
*Sergio Romo: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Ryan Vogelsong: signed with Pittsburgh for 2016.
Barry Zito: retired

Two catchers:

*Buster Posey: signed through 2021.
Hector Sanchez: signed a minor-league deal with the Chicago White Sox.

A whopping seven infielders:

Joaquin Arias: signed a minor-league deal with Arizona.
Brandon Belt: third year of arbitration.
Brandon Crawford: signed through 2021.
*Aubrey Huff: retired.
*Pablo Sandoval: with the Boston Red Sox.
Marco Scutaro: retired.
Ryan Theriot: retired.

Only four outfielders:

Gregor Blanco: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Xavier Nady: a free agent.
Angel Pagan: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Hunter Pence: signed through through 2018.

Adios, Vogey

He's signed with the Pirates. He managed to become a pretty fine pitcher at times during his five seasons with the Giants.

He started 7 postseason games in 2012 and 2014. The Giants won all seven.

Mccovey Chronicles notes --

The Giants signed Vogelsong to a minor league deal in January, 2011. He had one of the most unlikely seasons in San Francisco history, then helped them to one of the most unlikely set of postseason comebacks in baseball history. And somehow, five seasons later, we're just now getting used to the idea of him leaving. Best of luck with the Pirates, Ryan Vogelsong. That was a lot of fun.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Johnny's deliveries

Fangraphs has a highly entertaining piece about the multitude of Johnny Cueto deliveries.

August Fagerstrom has written it -- here's part --

Johnny Cueto Is the Most Entertaining Player in Baseball.
Whew! That felt good. Johnny Cueto, yep. Most entertaining player in baseball. Try and stop me. I’ve even got a list of four subjective reasons as to why Johnny Cueto is the Most Entertaining Player in baseball, and, yes, I’d put them in a slideshow if I could.
Reason number one: dreadlocks. They’re awesome and baseball needs more of them. Let Cueto’s brothers play too. Number two: he yells on the mound a lot. Yells at himself, yells at the umpire, yells at opposing batters after he strikes them out. If I can go against the hot take grain for a second, I’d like to put forth that the more emotion in baseball, the better. Number three: the unpredictability of his performance. Never know what you’re gonna get from Cueto! All-time postseason clunker, or all-time World Series great? How about both, in back-to-back starts? I’ll tell you who the most boring pitcher in baseball is — that Clayton Kershaw. Yawn. Where’s the fun in watching a guy who’s just awesome every time out? (Crosses “Call Clayton Kershaw boring” off outline.) Last, but certainly not least: he has four different deliveries! Four! And one of them is called “The Rocking Chair”! If anybody else strays from their typical mechanics by even a hair, they have to sit down with their pitching coach the next day to fix it and someone on the internet writes 1,000 words on how that pitcher is now broken. Cueto does this on purpose!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Johnny Cueto is a Giant

 That's what Buster Olney of ESPN just tweeted --

He's got a 25.9 WAR over eight seasons, Baseball Reference says. The last game he pitched a two-hitter complete game in Game 2 of the World Series.

 He's been in the bigs for eight years and is only 29. I'm sure that everyone will make the observation that the Giants are gearing up for their even-year World Series appearance.

Here's the story on the Giants Web site --

The Giants have reached an agreement with free-agent right-hander Johnny Cueto, pending a physical, according to an ESPN report. reported the deal is for six years. The club has not confirmed or commented on the reports.

Cueto went 11-13 with a 3.44 ERA and 176 strikeouts in 212 innings for the Reds and Royals in 2015. The 29-year-old had posted a 2.48 ERA over the past four seasons for Cincinnati, finishing in the top four for the National League Cy Young Award twice.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Barry Bonds is a Marlin

Well, he's the hitting coach now. I despise the Marlins a little less for giving him the gig.

Here's part of John Shea's interview for the SF chron

You had a great final season. It’s been eight years. How much have you missed it, and do you think that time make it easier . . . to be in uniform again?
“I guess time will tell. Yes, I believe so. I’ve been away for a while. I love biking. I can only ride my bike so much. I love that sport. But baseball’s who I am. This is who I am. This is what I was raised to do. This is what God put me on Earth to do. This is what God blessed me to do. The only way I’m going to find out is if I try. I know some people are going to be upset. Some people are going to be happy. I can’t make everybody happy. That’s the bottom line. That’s what I learned over time as years have gone by in my life. If I don’t try, I won’t know. I’m going to try and see if I’m really good at it.” 
How much do you think your return to baseball in a full-time capacity will help your Hall of Fame chances?
“First of all, I don’t vote so I don’t know what that chance will be. I’m a Hall of Fame baseball player. No doubt in my mind. No doubt in my heart. God knows that. That’s all that matters to me. I’ll leave the voting process up to you guys.”

Adios, Mike Leake?

Fox's Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Dbacks have the upper hand in signing Mike Leake. Sounds like the Snakes are not done with over-paying for pitchers.

He had a 2.3 WAR with the Reds, then a 0.6 with SF last season. And he hit a homer. If the Giants do sign him, it's a sign that they don't expect to get much out of Cain.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Giants respond to insane Greinke signing

Hard to believe that the Dbacks have given a six-year $200 mil deal to Greinke, who's 32.

The Giants have made a relatively sensible deal for Jeff Samardjia 

Here's the story on the Giants site -- 5 years for $90 mil 

This gives the Giants a rotation of MadBum, Jeff S., Matt Cain and Peavy

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Hasta la vista, Yusmeiro Petit

I'm a little surprised that the Giants non-tendered Yusmeiro Petit, who's been all kinds of effective for the team.

Chris Haft of says the Giants want to get Zach Greinke away from the dodgers and are willing to give him a 5-year deal at $30 million plus per year

Sure wish I could have figured out how to throw a curve and slider!

Anyhow, the relief he provided in the 2014 postseason was epic.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Bumgarner and Posey on Charlie Brown

I didn't realize that the Giants duo had appeared on the 50th anniversary TV special, hosted by Kristin Bell.

Bumgarner: Charlie Brown, come to San Francisco and I can give you some tips on pitching.
Posey: I'll even teach you how to hit.
Together: Happy anniversary, Charlie Brown.