Monday, June 29, 2015

History in the making

Madison Bumgarner has become the third youngest Giants pitcher to get 1,000 strikeouts.

Per mlb.com --  At 25 years and 331 days old, Bumgarner became the third-youngest Giants pitcher to strike out 1,000 batters behind Amos Rusie (21 years old in 1893) and Christy Mathewson (25 years, 12 days old in 1905).

You can call yourself a true baseball buff if you know that the Giants traded Rusie -- who'd been out of baseball for two years due to problems from being hit in the head and personal problems -- in 1900 to the Reds for Mathewson, who was just a rookie at that point.

Mathewson was one of the five five players selected for the Hall of Fame along with Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner. He was only one who wasn't alive for the induction in 1936, as he'd inhaled poison gas during World War I.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Buster for MVP

Sunday, June 21, 2015

What happened to Tim?

A very succinct "End of Tim" post from the guys at Raising (Matt) Cain -- 

It was the shortest outing of his career but it felt plenty long to me.  Tim Lincecum lasted a paltry 1 1/3 innings and picked up a well deserved loss as the doggers avoided the sweep and stayed in first with an easy 10-2 victory.  The highly vaulted LA offense broke out on a Father's Day matchup that is best forgotten but may well have long term ramifications. 

Lincecum sure did not give his father much of a present (1.1 innings, 7 hits, 5 earned runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts).  To be fair, Tim did look very good TO THE FIRST TWO BATTERS and then it all fell apart. Wild pitches, fat 0-2 pitches, basically pitches that he had no idea where they were going.  I'm not a pitching coach but I'm pretty sure that is not a good thing.  Considering two starters are likely to return this week, I can not conceive of a worse time for Tim to lay such a turd.  In what universe can we possibly leave Tim in the starting rotation now?  Granted Petit looked just as bad tonight (3.2 innings, 5 runs on 4 homers!) but Vogie, Heston and Hudson have all been sharp.  We just have too many starters for Lincecum to stay. However, we also have too much bullpen depth to find a place for Tim too. I mean do we really think that Tim can handle the current Strickland role? And we send down Strickland just because he has options left? I suppose Petit may have played himself out of a bigger role with the batting practice that he threw tonight. So Tim can take over the garbage/long role....except what about Vogelsong?  So many questions, so few answers.

I do not truly believe that the Age of Tim is over, even though I used the provocative title.  But I do think it is safe to say we are entering another era in the amazing career of Tim Lincecum. Is this the beginning of the end....or another exciting new role? What do you think?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tasty

The Giants are now 8-2 against the dodgers this year

Heston now has 7 wins

Puig struck out end the game

Buster hit a grand slam and stole a base...

Here's mlb.com's recap partially -

 
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Grand mistake: Bolsinger got ahead, 0-2, on Posey in the top of the third but couldn't put him away. A cutter just missed the plate to even the count at 2-2 and after Posey fouled off a pitch, Bolsinger hung a curveball over the middle of the plate that Posey put into the Dodgers' bullpen for a grand slam.
"I was able to see some pitches in that at-bat," Posey said. "Fortunately, I got a pitch that stayed up."
Said Bolsinger, "I think I got a little too lazy with that curveball and just kind of served it up to him. Maybe I could've thrown another pitch, but I wanted to go with my strength."

Friday, June 19, 2015

Scutaro re-signed symbolically

The Giants do a pretty good job of acknowledging team history. I guess he's not coming back ....

But it's a reminder of how tough the game can be. Per CSN Bay Area --


The 2013 All-Star and 2012 NLCS MVP played in just five games for the Giants last year due to a lower back injury that required surgery to fuse two vertebrae in December of 2014. 
According to the Giants, "he continues to rehab near his home in Florida in hopes of maintaining a quality of life and be pain-free with his family."
Scutaro, 39, hit .277 with a .341 on-base percentage and 77 home runs over 13 MLB seasons, playing for the Mets, A's, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Rockies and Giants.
He was a key component of the Giants' 2012 World Series title, hitting .362 over the final 61 games after he was acquired from the Rockies. 
At 36, he went 14-for-28 (.500) against the Cardinals in the 2012 NLCS and was awarded MVP for the seven-game series. Giants fans will always remember the image of Scutaro opening his palms to the sky as the rain poured down in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

"I missed it"

That's Angel Pagan admitting that he should have caught the ball yesterday in Seattle. 

Here's the top of Chris Haft's story for mlb.com --

 Throwing a no-hitter is so rare that to consider the feat inevitable in any pitcher's career might seem foolhardy. Presumptuous. An affront to the baseball gods. Then again, Madison Bumgarner has proven that he's not just any pitcher.
Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for #ASGWorthy players
As he has done repeatedly in six Major League seasons, Bumgarner looked dazzling enough Wednesday night at Safeco Field to join the coterie of teammates past and present -- Jonathan Sanchez, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Chris Heston -- to hold the opposition hitless. But a bad-hop single and a questionably played RBI triple helped dash Bumgarner's momentum in San Francisco's 2-0 Interleague loss to the Seattle Mariners.
Complementing a darting fastball that reached 94 mph with an impressive array of curveballs and sliders, Bumgarner retired the first 13 batters he faced. In the Giants' dugout, manager Bruce Bochy allowed himself to speculate about a no-hitter for Bumgarner.
"I thought he had a chance tonight, I'll be honest," Bochy said. "I hope I didn't jinx him."
Even Bumgarner, who proved capable of prodigious accomplishments during his otherworldly October last postseason, admitted he had settled into a favorable groove.
"It was one of those days when everything was there," he said. "... One of those starts in the the year where you feel about as good as you can feel."
Bumgarner's perfect game evaporated as Mark Trumbo recorded a single on a grounder that took a sudden, wicked hop off shortstop Brandon Crawford's chest.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Least Valuable Player

That's Casey McGehee, who celebrated his return to the starting lineup by grouding into 2 DPs, putting back in the MLB lead with 14 despite his month away from the bigs.

I'm unsure what the front office is trying to prove. Casey is SIMPLY NOT AN MLB player. I don't care what he did in Sacramento for the River Cats.

Here's a guy who single-handedly has killed more rallies than anyone else in the bigs.

I listened to the radiocast, which was painful because they used Scott Greenwald and Randy Winn -- the minor league announcers. Anyhow, it's the first time I've heard a Giants player booed since the heyday of Armando Blownitez

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

4 no-nos in 4 years

Matt Cain in 2012, Timmy in 2013 and 2014 and Chris Heston tonight at Citi Field

Here's Alex Pavlovic for CSN Bay Area --


A right-hander who is only in the rotation because of two injuries, Heston became the 17th Giant to throw a no-hitter and the first Giants rookie to do it in 103 years. Heston allowed just three baserunners — all were hit by pitches — got 14 outs on the ground and struck out 11 in a 5-0 masterpiece that was one of the easiest no-hitters you’ll ever see.


“It’s definitely a little hard to believe,” he said a few minutes after capping the night by striking out the final three hitters he faced. “I was just blessed to get called back up here early in the season. To fill in and do good things is pretty cool.”

Heston was a godsend in April, replacing the injured Matt Cain and turning in an ace-like stretch of starts. It’s been up and down for him since, and with Cain and Jake Peavy on rehab assignments, there was some question entering Tuesday’s game about how long Heston would remain in the big leagues. The only question now: What will the Giants have to do to make sure the 27-year-old still has a rotation spot?

In his 12th big league start, Heston threw his first no-hitter at any level. Every no-hitter is remembered in part for the defensive plays that save the feat, or the moves managers pull to make life easier for a pitcher chasing history. Not this one. The hardest-hit ball was a grounder to the hole at short in the eighth that wasn’t difficult by Brandon Crawford’s standards.

“He was nasty tonight,” Crawford said. “When he’s on, he’s one of the best pitchers I’ve played behind. And that includes some pretty good pitchers.”
The list includes Cain and Tim Lincecum, who have teamed with Heston to give the Giants four no-hitters in four seasons. Bochy maneuvered in the previous ones, making defensive changes and having pitchers secretly warm up in the batting cage. On Tuesday, all Bochy had to do was make sure Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez got loose in the covered bullpen when Heston hit the first batter of the ninth.
“He was going to test me,” Bochy joked. “I said, ‘Well, what’s going to happen if he hits the first three?’ It was a lot easier with the fact that we had the lead, and he helped with that.”
Heston’s two-run single in the fourth gave him his first career RBIs and padded the lead. He cruised before that hit (his first of two) and after, getting at least one out on the ground in every inning and striking out a batter in seven of his nine frames. 


Bochy and catcher Buster Posey (who caught his third no-hitter) have been here before, and both said it was around the fifth that they noticed Heston might take a run at putting his name in the record books. 
“For one reason or another, this one had a different feel to it,” Posey said, noting that Heston was hitting both sides of the plate with his sinker, throwing his off-speed pitches wherever he wanted and getting a ton of movement on his fastball. 
Posey said Heston shook him off just once in 110 pitches, and the two sailed along in unison, getting closer and closer to the ninth. While the Giants stayed with tradition and ignored Heston, this chase was unlikely to bother the rookie. Heston is as cool as they come. Before starting on the night of the World Series ring ceremony, Heston looked out at the field and told a reporter, simply, “I’m ready to rock.” Before his first start in New York, he chatted with backup catcher Andrew Susac, getting tips on how to attack recent call-ups Susac had seen earlier this season in the Pacific Coast League. 
Heston has never shown nerves in the big leagues, but even he wasn't fully immune as the 27th out neared. 
“It starts to creep in there and you try not to do more than you want to do,” he said. “You try not to do too much.”
To help with the nerves, Heston found a distraction. He apologized to Duffy and Nori Aoki, who lost an RBI during that eighth-inning blunder.
“These guys play way too hard to take that stuff away from them,” Heston said. 
Duffy hoped the moment simply allowed Heston to relax a bit. 
“He had the presence of mind to think about that,” Duffy said, shaking his head. “He wasn’t completely spinning.”

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Nori Aoki on the road = .407

Yes, you read that right. The Giants leftfielder is leading the MLB with a .407 batting average on the road, according to the Alex Pavlovic story on CSNBay Area.

It's in the game story, which mostly talked about Bumgarner's strange day -- giving up a grand slam to the worthless Jeff Francouer and striking out 11. But after the first 10 paragraphs comes the notes section --


--- Nori Aoki felt like he let the team down when he was too sick to start on Friday. "Taking care of your health is part of the game," he said through translator Kosuke Inaji. He bounced back in a big way, reaching base five times, three times on singles. Aoki joked that he "didn't want to lose to (Bumgarner) in hitting."
"He had quite a day, didn't he?" Bochy said. "He finds a way."
The big day raised Aoki's average on the road to an MLB-leading .407.
--- Joe Panik's hitting streak is a career-high-tying 11 games thanks to a first-inning single. Brandon Belt has reached base an MLB-best 21 straight games.
--- Some pre-game notes: Hunter Pence is expected to be fine by Tuesday, the first game in New York. Matt Cain will throw 50 pitches for Double-A Richmond on Tuesday. Jake Peavy will throw 70-ish for Triple-A Sacramento tonight.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Crawford and Panik

Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs has a nice analysis of the Giants middle infield.  

It’s a really interesting evolution that’s taking place in San Francisco. Crawford’s offensive development has been something to behold, starting out as a glove-first shortstop with a better bat than most pitchers. Crawford, now, is one of the best shortstops in baseball, provided the season doesn’t wear him down. But any attention paid to Crawford is attention not paid to Panik. And while Panik didn’t begin his big-league career in the same sort of way, he’s also reaching a level at the plate few would’ve imagined. Joe Panik isn’t just a slap hitter. Joe Panik is a genuine threat!
When the Giants first promoted Panik to the majors, they admitted they didn’t think he was ready. He was just going to get some on-the-job training, as the Giants were desperate, and you can see now how quickly Panik has adjusted to the competition level. This isn’t the point of the article, but here are the top three lefties hitting against lefties since the start of last season (by wRC+):
  1. Anthony Rizzo
  2. Brandon Crawford
  3. Joe Panik
In seventh, by the way, is Nori Aoki. It’s not a coincidence. The Giants have a plan here, and it would be tough to argue it isn’t successful.
Even the rushed version of Panik held up. Last year, he was an above-average hitter, spraying the ball around and making a ton of contact. But conclusions were reached about his ceiling, because he went deep just once in nearly 300 regular-season trips to the plate. It didn’t appear Panik had power. Guys who don’t have power have trouble drawing consistent walks. Guys without power and walks have low offensive ceilings. No reason Panik couldn’t be useful, but I’d say he fell short of exciting.
In March, an answer to a question, and an answer of certain intrigue, in hindsight:
Over time, my swing is actually going to lead to more power. I’m not too concerned about that right now.
Panik homered on Sunday. He homered last Wednesday. He’s up to four homers, in far fewer plate appearances than a year ago, and he’s more than doubled his isolated power. Of maybe even greater relevance: Panik has lowered his groundball rate 11 percentage points, and he’s increased his fly-ball rate 12 percentage points. It’s one of the biggest fly-ball-rate increases in baseball, and that’s the sort of thing that tends to mean something.
Panik is changing, and Panik is growing. Under the eye of Hensley Meulens and the rest of the coaching staff, Panik is hitting the ball with more selective authority, and he hasn’t even sacrificed any contact. While Panik will never blossom into a slugger, he can turn into a guy who slugs more pitches, and here let’s take a look at some big swings in approach.

smip-- 

  What might we observe here? Panik is clearly quick to the baseball. We already know he has to be, based on his contact rate. There’s a change in the behavior of the front foot — the second small step is gone, with Panik just lowering his heel. In the 2014 swing, Panik is more out over his front foot, while the more recent swing seems to be getting more from the back leg. And look at how Panik finishes. Previously, he cut himself off some. In the more recent swing, he turns his whole back to the camera. He finishes higher, having swung to get more loft. In short, it just looks like the 2015 version of Panik is a hitter who isn’t just content to put the ball in play.
I can’t speak to how representative those swings might be, but when you blend them with the numbers, you do get a certain picture. Sometimes, a hitter just isn’t strong enough to want to hit more fly balls. Billy Hamilton, for example, shouldn’t hit as many fly balls as he does. Ben Revere should try to keep the ball out of the air. A year ago, Panik looked like a guy who’d want to keep the ball on the ground or on a line, but now he has proof of some power upside. He shouldn’t get too fly-ball happy, but for him, a fly ball can be a hit. It can be the best of hits. With more strength in his swing, Panik is more like a hitter and less like a wall.
At the moment, the Giants have one of the best middle infields in baseball. Neither Crawford nor Panik were all that highly regarded, but they’re beating expectations and allowing the Giants to contend with what was supposed to be the league’s most terrifying juggernaut. Once upon a time, it seemed like the Giants were particularly good about developing pitchers. Now they’re having real success developing hitters. Maybe the Giants are just good at developing players.
 

Casey at the Bat is 128

Jon Miller and Dave Flemming provided some historical insight during yesterday's broadcast during the 1-1 part of the game - it's the 128th anniversary of the first publication of "Casey at the Bat"

The  San Francisco Examiner is the first place it appeared. 

Miller had a lot of fun with reciting parts of the poem such as "
“That ain’t my style," said Casey. “Strike one!” the umpire said.
 
 
Well, here's the whole thing -- 
 
 
The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, “If only Casey could but get a whack at that—
We’d put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.”

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despisèd, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile lit Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ‘twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his
     shirt;
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the
     air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—
“That ain’t my style," said Casey. “Strike one!” the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled
     roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;
And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his
     hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;
But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, “Strike two!”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered
     “Fraud!”
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles
     strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate;
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children
     shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.

Matt Cain's future