Saturday, March 31, 2018

Panik attack

It's the first time the same player has hit the homer in a 1-0 vic on consecutive days, per ESPN

LOS ANGELES -- Even the movie moguls of Hollywood might find the script Giants second baseman Joe Panik has written over the season's first two days too preposterous to turn into a film.
Panik homered off All-Star Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning on Friday, the only run in the Giants' 1-0 win in Los Angeles. It was a familiar scene: Panik's fifth-inning homer on Thursday off Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw was the only run in San Francisco's win on Opening Day.
This spring, I felt really good about my swing and just carried that momentum into the season," Panik said. "Granted, for me as hitter, two home runs in two games off those guys, that's a good feeling. It's not something you really expect or try to do."
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Panik became the first player to homer for his team in back-to-back 1-0 victories. In a sport as old as baseball, that's impressive enough. But to do it at Dodger Stadium, against Kershaw and Jansen, in the season's first two games -- that's a case of truth being stranger than fiction.
"Clayton dropped down a little bit, and that ball I thought was going to hook foul, then [Panik] comes out the next night and hits one off the best closer of the game," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who, with the win, became the first opposing manager to win 100 games at Dodger Stadium. "Two games, and to win the games 1-0, I've never seen that in all my years."
Hits have been hard to come by during the first two games of the series, much less runs. The teams combined for just three hits Friday. Before Panik's blast, the Giants' only hit against L.A. starter Alex Wood was Brandon Crawford's infield single in the fifth.
Meanwhile, San Francisco's Johnny Cueto carried a perfect game into the seventh inning before giving up a solid single to Chris Taylor to lead off the seventh. Bochy said that Cueto, who threw 97 pitches over seven innings, probably would have been replaced by a pinch hitter in the eighth even if his perfect game bid had remained intact.
"I wasn't even thinking about that," Cueto said via an interpreter. "My concern was just to go out there and put the pitches where I wanted to. If the no-hitter was going to come, then it would come."
Tony Watson and Hunter Strickland came on to throw a perfect inning apiece to finish off the win and give the Giants an early two-game lead over their hated division rival.
"It's a great feeling, coming into Dodger Stadium the first two games like that," Panik said. "With Kershaw and Wood, two very good pitchers, they did some really good work. For us to come out of here with two wins, it's a great feeling. When you're playing against NL West teams, every game is going to matter."
For the Giants, as good as the wins are on their own merit, the method of winning may be just as important. San Francisco's pitching staff is minus three key pieces to start the season, with starters Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija, plus closer Mark Melancon, all beginning the season on the disabled list.
"It's huge for these guys," Bochy said. "They took a pretty good blow, losing Madison and Shark and Melancon. To come away with these two wins, sure, that's got to do a lot for them."
The list of amazing facts from the game is long. Just a taste from ESPN Stats & Info:
  • The Giants, who lost 98 games last season, did not win a 1-0 game. This year they already have two.
  • Panik became the second player to homer off Kershaw and Jansen in the same season. Arizona'a Paul Goldschmidt did it in 2013.
  • The Dodgers have been shut out in consecutive games to start the season just twice, the other other time coming in 1968.
  • The only other team in the last 100 years to start the season with two 1-0 victories was the 1943 Cincinnati Reds.
As for Panik, his heroics during the season's first two games have earned him the honor bestowed upon many Giants starters over the years by the Dodger Stadium faithful: He was booed.
"It's a good feeling coming into Dodger Stadium and hit a home run in the ninth inning and they boo," Panik said. "That means you're doing something right."

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Evan Longoria probably won't suck

McCovey Chronicles explains why 

This is his age-32 season, and as Grant has mentioned before, a player doesn’t have to disintegrate as soon as he crosses into the 31-32 range, that that sort of value death tends to happen mostly in the 34-35 range. The Giants are counting on him still having some quality baseball left in those cells. I don’t think that’s a wild thing for them to count on.
After looking at his 2017, where he put up a 100 OPS+ (per Baseball-Reference), I thought about whether or not the Giants had another Edgardo Alfonzo on their hands, in terms of how his tenure as a Giant was going to look. And then I thought about all main third baseman the Giants have had so far this century (except for Pablo Sandoval, who’s too young to get into this comp orgy) — Alfonzo, Russ Davis, Pedro Feliz, David Bell, and Bill Mueller. Is Evan Longoria likely to follow in any of their footsteps?

I’m happy to report that, no, probably not. Alfonzo was signed to a 4-year deal that began in his age-29 season. Over the next 3 seasons (the Giants traded him before the last year of his deal), he posted an 88 OPS+ and hit into 40 double plays. He was hounded by back problems, as I recall, but his situation is not comparable to Longoria’s. He was good as recently as last season, his age-31 season. Edgardo Alfonzo was out of baseball after his age-32 season.
Russ David had a pretty solid 2001, actually, posting a 110 OPS+ while slugging .473 in 53 games in his age-31 season. But the fans booed him and called him “Roos”, and due to some family matters, the Giants designated him for assignment. And then he never played Major League Baseball again.
Bill Mueller played for the Red Sox in his age-32 season. It was his first season with the team, and it was an incredible season. He placed 12th in MVP voting with a 140 OPS+. This was also the season he became the first player to ever hit two grand slams in a game from both sides of the plate. It is highly unlikely Evan Longoria will replicate this season.
Pedro Feliz’s age-32 season was his final year with the Giants (2007), and he posted his third straight sub-100 OPS+ season. He did hit 20 home runs, though, while grounding into 15 double plays. I feel that Longoria can avoid a Felizesque tenure as a Giant simply because he’s able to draw walks from time to time and lay off of bad pitches. But still, here’s a haunting reminder of how bad it can get.
David Bell’s age-32 season was three seasons removed from his one year with the Giants (2002), and with 617 plate appearances he was able to generate a 72 OPS+. He managed to get a job in his age-33 season, but then he never played Major League Baseball again.
So, basically, Evan Longoria should be worried. The Giants chew up and spit out third baseman his age. Or maybe it’s just Time that does that. Still, I think his recent success coupled with his durability and skillset give him an edge on the aforementioned guys. And his defense is another strong positive in his favor. At least for this season.
Evan Longoria, projected 2018
AB: 605
AVG: .272
OBP: .329
SLG: .445
HR: 18
SB: 3
rWAR: 3.2

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Guessing the Giants roster

Grant Bisbee at McCovey Chronicles says it will be this

SP: Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija, Stratton, Blach
RP: Melancon, Dyson, Strickland, Watson, Gearrin, Osich, Holland
C: Posey, Hundley
INF: Belt, Panik, Crawford, Longoria, Sandoval, Tomlinson
OF: Pence, Jackson, McCutchen, Parker, Duggar

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Giants are giving it a shot

That's what Doug Bruzzone says in McCovey Chronicles.

The Giants found themselves at the bottom of a garbage can on a garbage scow last year, sailing a sea of garbage on their way to Garbageland. It was enormously dispiriting, and coming into this year, it was reasonable to expect that they couldn’t improve enough to make the playoffs. So here’s me saying (essentially) that it wasn’t worth it to trade part of their future to the Rays for Evan Longoria, and here’s me after the Andrew McCutchen deal with the Pirates (essentially) saying, “Oh, there go the Giants again, chasing that contention dragon, those silly fools who are behind the times.”
But here’s the thing: it’s better to be a Giants fan than a Rays fan or a Pirates fan, and it’s not close, and it’s because they try. The Rays, coming off a year where they were barely below .500, traded the face of their franchise because, welp, time to start that rebuild. The Pirates, coming off a bad year that wasn’t nearly as disastrous as the Giants’ year, traded the face of their franchise because, welp, time to start that rebuild. Then, after the Giants poached those two franchise players, they used every cent they could spend and still stay under the luxury tax to get Austin Jackson and Tony Watson, and hey, instant contention, maybe, unless it all blows up, which, like, 40% chance, max.
That was a lot of commas in one sentence.
This is the part where I acknowledge that the Giants are a much richer team than either the Rays or Pirates, and that is absolutely a big factor here. But it’s not like either of those teams is actually poor. What they are is poor in baseball terms, which only means they have an excuse to be cheap. Every baseball team has tons of money, and they can choose to spend it on the product on the field, or they can pocket it. Revenue sharing and huge TV deals (Tampa’s new deal is worth $50 million this year and will average $82 million over its lifespan, while Pittsburgh is lagging behind, though when their deal is up in a couple years they will get a windfall) have lined the coffers of every major league team, and the Rays and Pirates both are choosing not to spend it on the field, while the Giants are making a better choice.
Both the Pirates and Rays could be choosing to compete this year, and instead they’re choosing not to. The Giants had plenty of reasons not to try to compete this year, but they’re giving it a shot anyway. There’s more than a big market involved in that decision. If you want to be cynical about it, you could say it’s because they want to be seen as a team that competes, because that brings in fans, and then they make money. If you’re feeling more generous, then it’s because they want to be a team that competes, because being a bad baseball team sucks and nobody wants to be a bad baseball team. Either way, it amounts to the same thing: the Giants want to be good and they’re going to try to be good.
That shouldn’t be an uncommon thing in baseball, but here we are. There are incentives set up in the sport (higher draft picks, protected draft picks, more money for draft picks, etc.) that encourage teams to be really bad, and the Giants are saying, “Nah, we’d rather not.” Even if I am skeptical about how well it can even work this coming year, and if I am very skeptical about trading away some of the better prospects in the system coming off a disastrous year, there’s still something really admirable about that. I mean, I’m gonna watch this team a lot this year. I am glad that it’s likely to be watchable.
So yes, there are long term concerns. But the long term is just made up of a bunch of short terms, and for now, I’m happy that one of those short terms looks a lot better than it would if I was a Rays fan. That may be cold comfort in a couple years, but it’s pretty dang warm today.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Blach bringing it

Ah, spring training. Ty Blach becomes the first starter to make it into the 4th.

The strange thing is the Surprise, Florida dateline on Chris Haft's story on --

SURPRISE, Fla. -- So far, the skeptics and the hitters Ty Blach faces have responded identically to his pitching.
They've disappeared almost noiselessly.