Thursday, October 25, 2018

MORE DODGER HUMILIATION

It's a thing of beauty. The Dodgers are being outclassed and outscored, 12-6, in two games.

David Pinto of Baseball Musings explains that the Bosox are not striking out much in the postseason -- 12% compared to 32% for the Dodgers

The post-season broadcasts have noted the Red Sox success batting with two outs this post-season. The are hitting .268/.400/.423 in the 2018 post-season with two out. Note that both Houston and Atlanta hit very well in that situation, so it isn’t the only reason a team wins.
What the Red Sox are doing very differently that all the other post-season teams is not striking out. They are either walking, or putting the ball in play. The other nine playoff teams struck out at least 20% of the times with two outs, many of them over 30%. The Brewers and Dodgers are both at around 32%. The Red Sox are at 12%. That rate is even more impressive given their high OBP compared to their batting average. They are doing a fantastic job of being selective, taking pitches they should take and putting the bat on the ball when they swing. It’s only 150 PA this post-season, but if this is a team philosophy that is actually executed, I’m very impressed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Dodgers humiliated

Boston looked very much like a team that won 108 games this year tonight

The Dodgers hot young players looked ordinary. Dave Roberts over-managed.

So here's a profile on Dereck Rodriguez from McCovey Chronicles. Because I hate the Dodgers that much

STAT LINE: 6-4, 118.1 IP, 2.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 89 K : 36 BB, 9 home runs allowed
Let us bow our heads and say a prayer for Dereck Rodriguez, savior of the 2018 season.
Yeah, I’m being dramatic, but I had bought an emergency backpack filled with essentials preparing myself for another tragically boring season for the Giants before his flowing locks rolled into town.
You all know the story -
...outfielder with the Twins converted into pitcher, yada yada yada.
...dad is a Hall of Fame catcher aka Pudge’s kid narrative etc.
...where did he come from? LITERALLY WHERE DID HE COME FROM?
Rodriguez had a lot of “narratives” that were attached to his name and reputation but when it comes down to it, the best part about D-Rod is that he stepped up when he was needed and actually EXCEEDED expectation. I spent a good part of his starts waiting for the other shoe to drop.
It never did.
ROLE ON THE 2018 TEAM: With Madison Bumgarner starting off on the disabled list, Jeff Samardzija being a total non-factor in 2018, and Johnny Cueto’s season being cut short, Dereck Rodriguez became the “ace” type figure, arguably one of the strongest pillars in the Giants foundation and pitching rotation. I found myself pondering a one-game playoff situation and whether I would rather put D-Rod out there or MadBum. Think about how insane that is. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised - Rodriguez was being discussed in the Rookie of the Year discussions alongside phenoms Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna Jr.
Dereck was tied for first in quality starts (14) on the team alongside Bumgarner - providing the Giants bullpen and offense something they needed desperately - consistency. He ate innings and he gave the team a chance to win (they often didn’t, but because of anything Rodriguez could have helped). And usually, as rookie pitchers sometimes tend to fade throughout the course of a season, D-Rod got better in the second half (batters were hitting .249 off him before the all-star break and .205 off him after).

Monday, October 15, 2018

Elegy for the 2018 Giants

The Dodgers were thoroughly beaten tonight 4-0 by the Brewers in the third game of the NLCS. That's about it for good news if you're a Giants fan.

Fangraphs took a long look at the Giants and didn't like what it saw.

The main point is that the Giants front office has been trying but not succeeding. Here's part --

Having aggressively spent after the 2015 season, signing Johnny Cueto and Samardzija in free agency just a week apart, the Giants can’t be blamed for lack of effort. The $251 million invested in the team that offseason was third in baseball. And it paid off, too, with Cueto and Samardzija combining for over 400 innings and 8.1 WAR, in addition to Madison Bumgarner, who had yet to start suffering a freak injury at the start of consecutive seasons.
In the weaker post-2016 free-agent market, the Giants didn’t stand pat either, risking $64 million on Mark Melancon as the Santiago Casilla era wound down.
But a disastrous 2017 campaign exposed the cracks in the organization. While the early parts of the Giants run were initially driven by an impressive crop of homegrown talent — including Bumgarner, Brandon Belt, Matt Cain, Brandon Crawford, Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey, and Pablo Sandoval — that pipeline largely dried up. After a few offseasons, a few injuries, and a few players aging quite suddenly, that lack of flexibility to patch holes on the fly proved deadly.
While a few players from more recent drafts (Heliot Ramos most notably) might have something to saw about it, the last position player drafted by the Giants who has also had a significant long-term role with the club is Joe Panik in 2011. Giants outfielders combined for 0.6 WAR in 2017, the worst in baseball, and though it takes a lot of ingredients to lose 98 games, the outfield with its toxic blend of has-beens and never-weres was one of the key problems, along with the starting rotation.
And to their credit, the Giants again weren’t negligent in approaching these issues after the 2017 season. At various times in the offseason they pursued the entire Marlin outfield, with Derek Jeter and crew looking to deal Marcell Ozuna, Giancarlo Stanton, and Christian Yelich. The team was just a hair from closing on Stanton, with Miami’s slugger putting the kibosh on the possibility only with an eleventh-hour invocation of his no-trade clause. 
San Francisco also was one of the seven finalists for Shohei Ohtani, a fit for the Giants as both a starting pitcher and in the outfield, two of the gaping holes on the roster. Again, they were unable to close the deal, with Shohei-mania heading instead to Anaheim.
In the end, the Giants had to make their larger improvements via trade, first banking on a bounceback season from Evan Longoria and then betting Andrew McCutchen could maintain his 2017 resurgence for another year and hold his value better in a corner spot.
San Francisco’s signings in the 2017-18 offseason — Derek Holland, Austin Jackson, and Tony Watson — were less exciting, thanks in large part to a payroll that was approaching the luxury-tax threshold. While GM Bobby Evans never explicitly said there was a mandate to get the team below the threshold in 2018, it was a secret to precisely zero people that the team wanted to finish under it and reset the penalty to 20% from 50%.
This gamble — and whether or not it represented enough to squeeze another playoff run from the current core — would define the 2018 Giants.

The Projection

ZiPS saw a playoff run as plausible, projecting the team at 83-79 going into the season. But the projections also saw a club with a significant downside, reflecting a fairly thin roster that didn’t receive as many improvements in the outfield and rotation as would have been ideal — and not a lot of plausible Plan Bs for things that went wrong.

The Results

San Francisco fell out of first for good by the end of the first series of the season but managed to stay around the edge of the playoff race for most of the year. For a long time, it looked like the team would be able to finish .500, not enough to make the playoffs, but a more than respectable 17-win improvement from 2017.
In fact, for a period from late June to around the All-Star break, there were actual reasons for optimism. An 18-10 June got the team into a second-place tie with the Dodgers, only 2.5 games behind Arizona. Bumgarner’s 2018 season finally started in June and both Cueto and Samardzija were finishing up their rehab stints.
It wasn’t meant to be. Cueto was back on the disabled list by the end of July and had his 2018 and 2019 end prematurely with Tommy John surgery in early August. Samardzija’s return consisted of two lackluster starts, with fastballs just peeking into the low 90s, before he was shut down for his shoulder, a respite that lasted the rest of the season.
By the trade deadline, the Giants had dropped off into fourth place, but they were still just five games back and above .500, with a possible-if-difficult path to an NL West victory. But the team was plagued by the twin problems of a luxury-tax threshold under which they desired to remeain and a weak farm system made even weaker with the loss of the players from the Longoria and McCutchen trades.
Where the Dodgers added Manny Machado and the Diamondbacks added depth, the Giants did precisely nothing. There would be no reinforcements, as it turned out that teams with valuable players to trade were total misers and wanted something in return for the players they were offering. With the team likely not good enough under any circumstance to justify trading off Ramos, that was that.
The Giants spent August slowly fading out of contention, the team finally trading McCutchen at the end of the month. Only in September did the Giants go into a full tailspin, winning just five games the rest of the year. They proved to be an equal-opportunity spoiler, getting swept by four of the five NL playoff teams (they finished with the Cubs in July) and the near-playoff Cardinals.
The season wasn’t a total loss, however. The Giants showed they can still assemble an above-average bullpen relatively cheaply, the very-expensive Melancon pitching decently but feeling redundant and never regaining the closing job. Dereck Rodriguez’s 2.81 ERA was likely a bit over his head, but there’s a decent chance he’ll at least be a dependable midrotation starter, something they can absolutely use. Alen Hanson also showed enough to hang around as a utility player.

What Comes Next?

The Giants fired Evans after the end of the season, but it shouldn’t be taken as a sign of a drastic change in direction for the franchise. Team vice president Brian Sabean has been clear that the team isn’t interested in a total rebuild, and while he’s not expected to be hands-on with the eventual hire, I don’t think the team will bring in someone with a dramatically different vision from what they intend.
While I don’t think it was absolutely necessary to start and rebuild the past few years, I think we’re getting to the point where enough of the core has disintegrated that it’s difficult to avoid doing so.
San Francisco needs to plan on adding 20 wins from 2017 to 2018 — there’s not a lot of upside on the roster, so they can’t just target an 85-win year and hope for lightning in a bottle — to make avoiding a rebuild worthwhile, and unless the team goes absolutely insane in free agency, I can’t see where they find these wins. Individual hitters will have better seasons, but almost the entire veteran offensive core is on the wrong side of 30 (Panik is the main exception), making it far more likely than not they decline as a group.
The team literally needs a whole outfield, and I don’t think Steven Duggar or Chris Shaw are actually all that likely to be league average. Cueto is guaranteed gone, and given the difficulty resolving the shoulder issues, I don’t think you can be all that confident in Samardzija in 2019. Adding an extra win to all of Belt, Crawford, Longoria, Panik, and Posey next year still leaves you finding another 15. Somehow adding Machado and Bryce Harper doesn’t get you to 15, and I’m quite certain the Giants aren’t signing Machado and Harper this winter.
At this point, I’m not optimistic about the 2019 Giants, and I think they’ll come to regret not starting to rebuild this year. Too many players are too far from their best years, and I don’t believe they’ll be able to add enough to the current roster. I could be wrong, but remember, it’s an odd year.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Clayton Kershaw is a big fat loser

Don't believe me? Read the AP story

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Clayton Kershaw pounded his glove over and over, yelling “Let’s go!” as he walked off the mound.
Pretty soon, he was gone.
Kershaw was hit hard in the shortest start of his spotty playoff career, and the shaky Los Angeles Dodgers lost 6-5 to the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series on Friday night.
“Got to do a better of keeping the score close for our guys to have a chance there at the end,” Kershaw said.
Los Angeles committed four errors, including two by catcher Yasmani Grandal in Milwaukee’s two-run third inning. But another playoff flop for its ace left-hander might be its biggest concern as it tries to cool off streaking Milwaukee.
“He’s been in the playoffs for a really long time,” Grandal said. “He knows what he needs to do to win games and that’s all that matters. Game 5 comes around, then he’ll be the guy on the mound and he’ll be the guy who will get us a win.”
Game 2 is Saturday afternoon at Miller Park.
Kershaw holds the team records for playoff wins (eight), starts (21), innings (133) and strikeouts (144), but is just 8-8 with a 4.26 ERA in 26 career postseason appearances. The Dodgers dropped to 13-13 when the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner takes the mound in the playoffs.
The 30-year-old Kershaw quieted some of those October questions when the Dodgers won the NL pennant last year for the first time since 1988, going 3-0 with a 3.82 ERA in six appearances. He pitched six sparkling innings in the NLCS-clinching victory at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, and worked four scoreless innings in relief in Los Angeles’ Game 7 loss to Houston in the World Series.
After he was passed over for Los Angeles’ Game 1 start in the NL Division Series this year, the 2014 NL MVP responded with eight innings of two-hit ball in a 3-0 victory over Atlanta.
The victory against the Baby Braves was one of his best playoff performances. The loss against the Brewers was one of his worst.
“It was a tough one,” he said. “Obviously you don’t want to get your team off to that start.”
The night started to get away from Kershaw and the Dodgers when Brandon Woodruff led off the third inning with a massive drive to right-center , becoming the third reliever in major league history to homer in a postseason game.
Kershaw glanced back with an incredulous look as Woodruff’s ball soared over the wall, tying it at 1 and sending a charge through the sellout crowd of 43,615.
It was the first time in postseason history that a lefty-batting pitcher went deep off a left-hander. Woodruff joined the Cubs’ Travis Wood (2016 NLDS) and the New York Giants’ Rosy Ryan (1924 World Series) as relievers to homer in the postseason.
“I knew he could swing the bat a little bit, for sure,” Kershaw said. “I didn’t know he could do that, but I knew he could hit a little bit.”
A passed ball and an interference call on Grandal helped set up Hernan Perez’s sacrifice fly. Kershaw minimized the damage by striking out Mike Moustakas, stranding two runners in scoring position and leading to his emotional display as he headed toward the dugout.
Whatever he was trying to do, it didn’t work.
Los Angeles went down in order in the fourth and Milwaukee’s first three batters reached in the bottom half, chasing Kershaw and producing two more runs on Domingo Santana’s pinch-hit single. Santana swiped second and scored on Ryan Braun’s two-out single against Ryan Madson.
Braun’s clutch swing closed the book on Kershaw, who was charged with five runs, four earned, and six hits. He dropped to 2-5 with a 5.24 ERA in 11 career NLCS games.
Kershaw’s shortest playoff start before the loss to Milwaukee was four-plus innings in a 9-0 loss at St. Louis in Game 6 of the 2013 NLCS, ending Los Angeles’ season.




Sunday, October 07, 2018

Dodgers finally lose

They lost game 3 of the division series, 6-5

They had two on and no out in the ninth before gagging, per the LA Times. 

The ninth inning encapsulated the frustration. Joc Pederson finished a 10-pitch leadoff at-bat by roping a hellacious single off Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino. Turner followed with a walk. Vizcaino threw three straight balls to Muncy, as the fearful fans sat on their giveaway props and murmured.
They would rise to their feet moments later. Vizcaino overpowered Muncy with a trio of fastballs. He fooled Machado with an 88-mph slider. Brian Dozier had no chance picking up the final wipeout slider of the evening, and the opportunity went for naught.