Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Timmy to Texas

Tim Lincecum is signing a deal with the Rangers. I'm glad it's not the dodgers.

He went 2-6 for Angels two years ago. I'm skeptical that he can come back.

 Grant at McCovey Chronicles is also glad it's not the dodgers.

Here is part of the ESPN story --


He won Cy Youngs in 2008 and 2009, made four All-Star teams by age 27 and was a part of three World Series championships with the San Francisco Giants. But his velocity and effectiveness gradually diminished, in large part because of a series of injuries.
He threw no-hitters against the San Diego Padres in 2013 and 2014 but logged a mere 15 starts for San Francisco in 2015. The Angels signed Lincecum to a $2.5 million contract the following May, only to designate him for assignment three months later.
Nicknamed "The Freak," the 5-foot-11 Lincecum pitched at a scant 170 pounds with the Giants, but he appeared on social media this winter sporting a more muscular frame.


Meanwhile, Jeff Samardizja is trying to not have everyone homer off him, so he is working on a split

"I'm excited about having that pitch," Samardzija said. "I think it came along for us last year as the season went on, but it definitely wasn't there early. To have that pitch from the beginning with that curveball really gives me two changes of speed and two changes of eye angles for the hitters."

Monday, February 19, 2018

The older Giants may not be a losing team

Dan Lash of The Frisc (who used to post as Lefty Malo) wonders if the even-year magic for the Giants is going to work 

But for the first time in a long time, the Giants could be facing a drought. Years of baseball La Niña, if you will. The trouble began in mid-2016. They went from a juggernaut to the worst team in the second half, barely making the playoffs. Then in 2017, they tied for worst record in the bigs.
Smart observers think the team can, at least near-term, turn fortune around. The brass has restocked the team without too much farm-system depletion, while keeping the payroll under the sport’s luxury tax threshold. (More on that in a moment.)
But reloading, instead of rebuilding, is as much as about the team’s relationship to San Francisco as it is about competitive calculus. This is an expensive town, full of transients. How many times have you met someone who grew up in San Francisco? When you do, is it hard to contain your surprise?
A disproportionate amount of people aren’t from here. They have brought hometown allegiances with them. Or they’re happy to root for the Giants casually—when the team is on a roll and the park is full and buzzing. Or they’re into tech or art or robots or polyamory or politics or social justice or drugs, and they don’t give a crap about baseball.
If the Giants don’t win, and they keep not winning, they’re likely to see more of what happened down the stretch last year: Painful patches of empty seats, like the bare skin of a mangy dog, amid the official end of a long streak of sold-out games.
Already squeezed by the nation’s highest or second-highest cost of living (depends who you ask), our discretionary entertainment dollars have a ton of competition. A few years of intentional badness, plus an economic dip, and suddenly the bells and whistles of the home park — the great views, the urban location, the, uh, garlic fries (do people still eat those?) — don’t distract as much from the cold nights, the menacing seagulls, and of course, the crappy baseball.

 He says a losing season isn't inevitable ....

This year, however, they’ve stayed sober and under baseball’s $197 million payroll threshold not just to avoid massive immediate surcharges, but to give themselves leeway to spend ridiculously next winter, when a slate of stars, including Washington’s Bryce Harper and Baltimore’s Manny Machado, hits the free market.
Meanwhile, the bridge to that potential spending spree is no longer built with rotting shoelaces and Legos. A losing 2018 is not inevitable. The Giants traded, in essence, their incumbent center fielder Denard Span, a couple well-regarded minor leaguers, and a relief pitcher for two former superstars, Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria, who were beloved in Pittsburgh and Tampa, respectively, where they had spent their entire careers until now.
There are two operating principles in play: One, pray that the declines McCutchen and Longoria have shown recently don’t accelerate. Two, hope all the team’s incumbents who sputtered or got injured last year — first baseman Brandon Belt, outfielder Hunter Pence, ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner, co-ace pitcher Johnny Cueto, and most of the relief pitchers — do better across the table.
More than for any team in baseball, in fact, the latter could happen. The stat-nerds call it positive regression. Others call it good players bouncing back from a collective bad year.
The team has obvious flaws, so it would be a miracle if they finished 2018 ahead of the (boo) Los Angeles Dodgers. But the Giants should be interesting to watch and — what the ticket-sellers truly hope for — remain in the thick of competition for much of the summer.
Some people ask why bother striving for a ceiling of “Hey, not bad, Giants!” They would prefer the team trade their stars and start the rebuilding process. After all, the three World Series champs since the Giants last won it all — Astros, Cubs, Royals — reached the mountaintop only after a ruthless, multiyear exile to Death Valley.
But as they said in 1990s sketch comedy: “Homey don’t play that.” Even in the dreadful mid-aughts, the team was loath to trade too many aging veterans. They stubbornly spent too much on mediocrity because — well, we never quite figured that out.
But I’ll take an educated guess. It’s the same reason they want to reload for 2018 instead of rebuild. If the Giants aren’t good, they at least have to pretend they’re trying. Or have Barry Bonds chasing a home run-record. That always helps.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Spring training questions -- are the Giants too old???

Henry Schulman of the SF Chron has a good column as spring training opens --

As team slogans go, “We have nowhere to go but up” is not exactly inspirational, but it’s largely true. The Giants are tired of hearing about 98 losses in 2017. As they open spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Tuesday, they understand what they need to do to bleach that awful number from everyone’s minds.
Other teams in the same boat might be thrilled to improve by 17 wins and finish at .500, but not the Giants. They want to reach the postseason for the fifth consecutive even year.
Can they?
1. Can an older team win?
The Giants are still looking for center-field help to complement newly signed Austin Jackson, but if Jackson is their Opening Day center fielder, their projected lineup will have seven position players who will be in their 30s in 2018.
Ten teams in the wild-card era have had at least seven over-30 players who registered 400 or more plate appearances. Five reached the postseason, and one, the 2001 Diamondbacks, won the World Series with nine over-30s getting to the plate that many times. So it can be done.
 To be fair, the Giants are not decrepit. Most position players will be 30-32, including newcomers Jackson, Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen. Hunter Pence will be 34 but is expected to platoon. Still, older players have a harder time staying healthy, which means the Giants would be well-served to get a fair share of plate appearances from their farm system, particularly outfielders Steven Duggar and Austin Slater.

2. What can the Giants expect from Longoria and McCutchen?
Both unquestionably make the team better, but they come to San Francisco in some decline, Longoria offensively and McCutchen defensively — or so the numbers say.
On a team full of players with multiple World Series rings, the Giants do not need them to play like MVPs (which McCutchen was in 2013), but instead blend with Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, Joe Panik and the other outfielders.
However, the Giants gave away a lot to get McCutchen and Longoria, hoping the two could hoist the worst offense in the majors from 2017 and get much better defensively in the outfield. Longoria and McCutchen do not need to be All-Star-caliber, but given the team’s lofty ambitions for 2018, that sure would help.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Five homers by SF pitchers in 2017