Sunday, February 26, 2006

Wish me luck...

Got tickets to the Korn concert tonight in San Jose. Dunno if it's the best situation -- the other two bands playing are guys I've never heard of in Mudvein and 10 Years, but one can hope they aren't too bad (I hear Mudvein is pretty heavy, though).

This'll be back to back nights watching bands, as I and a few of my cohorts, Lucky Luis, Dave, and Craig were in Livermore watching Lavish Green rock out. Tried to mosh a little last night, but figured I had to conserve some energy for tonight.

Should I even be moshing at my age? I keep making this joke that upon trying to get into the moshpit, security's going to check my ID at the edge and say, "Aren't you a little old to be in the moshpit, sir? You might get hurt in there at your age."

It's kind of like Chris Rock said in Bigger and Blacker:

(paraphrasing) You don't wanna be the old guy at the club. You know who I'm talking about. He really ain't old, just a little too old to be in the club.

Ah, screw it. You only live once.

Friday, February 24, 2006

I'll get that Hennessey for you Wright away, sir. And some other clever phrase utilizing Correia.

Not knowing sucks.

Wouldn't we all like to know if Barry Bonds will stay healthy? Wouldn't be nice to know that Armando Benitez will pull his...considerable...weight this upcoming season? Wouldn't it be wonderful to know that Rogain worked?

...nevermind. I'm just fine with my shaved head.

In any case, we'd all like to know whether or not Brad Hennessey will be able to cut it as the Giants 5th starter in 2006, but that's difficult. The main thing that Hennessey's 2006 campaign showed is that we still don't know, even after 21 starts of data.

Personally, I'm optimistic he can at least match last season's production, and perhaps improve upon it to some degree -- I like that his stuff matches the kind of pitcher he is (his stuff isn't spectacular and is sometimes very hittable, but that fact that he's a groundball pitcher negates that some), and we cannot ignore that in 14 of his 21 starts, Hennessey was able to pitch into the seventh inning and beyond, with 12 of the 14 being at or near the "quality start" level. That's plenty good enough for a 5th starter.

Of course, he also had four starts where he didn't even make it past the 3rd inning, so...

This sounds like a situation ripe for the ol' insurance policy. But, should Hennessey fail or become injured, which insurance policy is better -- Kevin Correia or Jamey Wright?

Wright is a fairly known quantity, with the possiblity of being better than his statline reads.

Career: 5.13 ERA, 4.84 k's/9 (strikeouts per 9 innings), 1.07 k/bb ratio (strikeout to walk ratio), 1.92 g/f ratio (ground ball to fly ball ratio), .822 OPS against.

That...isn't good. A low strikeout rate, a poor strikeout to walk ratio, and a high OPS against indicative of a journeyman pitcher who's been released by five teams during his career. The two things in Wright's favor are: 1) his great groundball to flyball ratio, and 2) six of the 10 years he's pitched in the majors have been with the Rockies.

So, perhaps we'll give him a break. Let's slide on by those numbers pitching in Coors Field, and let's compile Wright's road numbers from the past two seasons:

4.52 ERA, 5.87 k's/9, 5.07 bb/9, 1.15 k/bb ratio (127.1 innings pitched over 2004 and 2005)

Well, there's more pitcher there, obviously, but those still aren't numbers to...Wright...home about (I can hear you groaning, but I choose to ignore you). With that, we'll throw up Correia:

Career: 4.86 ERA, 6.63 k's/9, 4.53 bb/9, 1.46 k/bb ratio, 0.80 g/f ratio, .863 OPS against.

Forgive me if I look at Correia as the better option. Correia, despite control problems last year, still walks less hitters over a nine-inning stretch than Wright's superior road numbers, and strikes out another batter and a half more per nine over Wright's road totals from the past two seasons. Correia's biggest problem seems to be keeping the ball inside the ballpark -- he gave up close to two homers per nine innings last season (1.85/9), but given the type of stuff he has, I think that's fixable.

In summary, while I don't think picking up Wright as an insurance policy was a bad idea, using him as anything but an insurance policy would be a mistake, in my mind. He hasn't shown a definitive ability to do anything particularly well in his career other than induce ground balls, and he hasn't shown that he's appreciably better than Hennessey or Correia. Long relief/spot starter is the role that best fits Wright.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Can I have change for a dollar? Yes, two 20's and a 10 would be fine...

In honor of pitcher's and catcher's reporting today, I went out and smelled some grass.

Take that how you will.

In other news, Randy Winn was selected to represent the U.S. in the World Baseball Classic. The article spends most of it's time talking about Winn's scorching September last year.

Hm. Could that be because the rest of Winn's career isn't all that much to look at, and that his selection shows how few choices they must have had? I mean, I like Winn, like his hustle, loved his couple of months with the Giants last year, and hope he repeats that performance in 2006, but...

World Baseball Classic? Randy Winn, representing the U.S.? There wasn't anyone better? But yeah, you gotta love that September of 2005 Winn had...boy, that was some September. Did you know he was Player of the Month in the NL last September?

I've had a few months before where I've helped out some people with counseling, loaning money, doing favors -- you name it, I was there for people.

Was I cheated out of my Nobel Peace Prize, or what?

I really shouldn't be that bothered by this, but I hate adding two and two and coming up with 516,238.

Take that how you will.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Happy Chinese New Year! Uh, Parade!

I'm working tomorrow, but I'll be able to almost witness something cool firsthand: the Chinese New Year Parade. It takes place in downtown San Francisco, going down Market Street and around Union Square where I work.

I say almost witness because I'm getting the heck out of there before the thing starts. I'd love to watch, but it's one of those things that I'd only feel like watching if I was off work on the day it took place and the day after. I'm wierd like that. And speaking of wierd...

...why is it that the darned parade takes place two weeks after the actual start of the Chinese New Year? It's been like this for a while, I'm told, but why? Wouldn't it be a little odd to you if you were invited to a party to celebrate New Year's on January 14th?

One good thing, though, is that it looks like this will be the first Chinese New Year parade in years that won't be rained on. Perhaps it is a good omen for those born in the Year of the Dog (I'm a Year of the Tiger guy, myself).

In any case, go on San Francisco...get your parade on.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Surfin', surfin', USA

Bear with me, folks.

I'm off work today, and I'm bored. This combination usually leads to things involving ladders, a rodent, old car batteries, and a parachute, but today I've decided to surf popular baseball sites for stuff...and of course pass on the surfin' goodness onto you all. Thank me later. Oh, and the better stuff is on the bottom, really...but bear with me, folks.

Phil Rogers has a fluff article on about which players he thinks is poised for a Derrick Lee-type breakout season. I guess it kills some time, reading this, but Rogers doesn't seem to provide lots of concrete reasons as to why he believes these particular players will break out, other than: a) He's good, and he's capable of being better, b) He's improved for a few years straight, and c) the time honored reason, "Just 'cuz". It's articles like these which make me believe, if only for a few, reality-suspended seconds, that I could be a professional writer. The article just has the feel of, "Oh, man, my deadline is coming up, and I gotta put together something."

Baseball Prospectus has the Week In Quotes article up, and as usual, there's some fun stuff in there. My favorite is a quote from Royals 1st baseman (and cool guy) Mike Sweeney, where he states, "From top to bottom, we’ve got a great lineup. Or at least a better lineup, definitely."

I'm thinking I would find it difficult to downshift from 5th gear to 2nd, but apparently Sweeney is more skilled than I.

Rich Draper over at the Official Giants Site ( writes about the Giants outfield, managing to not tell us a single thing we didn't already know -- the season revolves around the health of Barry Bonds, and that there are also injury concerns for Moises Alou and Steve Finley. I'm gathering it's tough to write consistently interesting and informative stuff throughout the offseason.

Well, wasn't that fun? Wow, I can't wait to do that again. Now, onto the real stuff: blogs.

Grant at McCovey Chronicles has put up the most recent of his projection pieces, this one on Matt Cain. He notices Cain's fluky low hit rate, and I noticed the same about him last September in a comparison between him and Noah Lowry's first season:

Lowry, with a much larger sample size, had a higher strikeout rate and a lower walk rate, which are good signs. Cain is somehow doing a marvelous job of simply not allowing hits (to the tune of a .133 BABIP), but that is something which can't and won't last over the course of a full season. For perspective, the ERA leader in the NL, Roger Clemens, has a BABIP of .236.

See how cool that is? See how much cooler blogs are? See how much cool could a cool-chuck chuck if a cool-chuck could chuck cool?

John over at Give 'Em Some Stankeye (nice to see you writing again, John) doesn't eff around -- he tells us, straight up, he's just going to provide links to hot Jessica Alba pics, and baseball be damned. Well, for at least a day. Again, blogs cooler than other sites. We can do these types of things, whenever we please. For instance, just because I feel like it, I'm going to provide a link to a picture of Kate Beckinsale (Note: that used to be a link to a Kate Beckinsale pic, but the site I linked to yesterday that worked yesterday, apparently didn't work today and led to a site that tried to download a virus...I apologize profusely for this, but at the time I put the link up, it led to exactly what I said it led to -- a nice pic of Kate Beckinsale.)

Joe over at Giants Cove gives us a humourous account of why writing sucks. Yes, Joe, it does, when compared to say, sex, but otherwise it isn't too bad. Of course, this coming from a guy who writes better than I do anyway, but I'll forgive him his faults.

Alright, so there you go -- enough reading fodder to relieve the boredom of just about anyone...except me. I'm still bored.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

99 most desirable women...well, kinda has put up its list of the top 99 most desirable women. know, this is just one of those lists that just begs to be argued against at various points, but I agree with their #1 pick -- Jessica Alba. The funny thing about these lists is, she was #78 last year...did she undergo some sort of genetic enhancement that I am as yet unaware of? If she's numero uno this year, that means she was #1 last year and they just ranked her incorrectly.

Number Two is a mystifying Sienna Miller. If you're going, "Sienna Who?", then you understand my mystification. She's not bad looking, sure (although not my type), but she: 1) isn't a bombshell by any means, 2) doesn't have a voluptuous body to make up for the lack of looks, and 3) is probably best known as Jude Law's fiancee (according to the site), who apparently didn't think she was all that hot himself because he's already had an affair before they've even gotten married. Great job there, fellas. Spot on with your number two pick -- she actually rose more ranks than Alba did, going from #86 to #2.

Just for perspective, good ol' Anna Kournikova is barely hanging on, coming in at No. 99. Did her last birthday bring her to 70 years old or something? No, she's 24, and she's also 187.564 times hotter than Sienna Miller, period, no matter how little or how much spotlight either of them get.

You know, there's a little more commentary that I would throw up on this, only the...uh, men... at are morons. The only way to surf their list if you, say, don't have all the rankings memorized, is There's no master list, no way to search out a particular name to find out a woman's respective ranking more quickly. You can skip 10 at a time, but it brings you to a particular woman's page (at ranking #10, 20, get the idea), and the other nine ranked women on the page are just the numbers representing the ranks -- no names attached, so you can see the number five for the fifth ranking, but you haven't any idea who it is unless you click on the link.

Sure, it keeps the drama bubbling for a second or two, but then it just becomes tedious. I went through the whole ranking once, kind of semi-noting my favorites (Eva Longoria, Salma Hayek, Leeann Tweeden, Kate Beckinsale), but when I go to write a word or three about the list, I find I'd have to randomly search around the ranking number that I think a particular woman was at to find the page again.

Great job at either being stupid, or being lazy.

Monday, February 06, 2006

We need backups for our backups

I've been pretty silent -- that is, absolutely silent -- on the issue of catching for the Giants in 2006 thus far. The reasoning is simple. If I dwell on it, I'll scream.

There are some roles on a team that I believe you can get away with having some dude in a uniform: backup 1st baseman, pinch-hitter, and 5th outfielder all come to mind. But backup catcher isn't one of them.

Brian Sabean's non-move in regards to filling this spot is a bit mystifying to me. After all, this is a guy who seems to love making moves, even ones that seem unneccesary. I was reminiscing the other day about Reggie Sanders, who had a solid season offensively and a good season defensively for the Giants in 2002 playing right field, but was not brought back in 2003. In comes Jose Cruz, Jr., who was palatable offensively and stellar defensively in 2003, but also was not brought back for 2004. The two-headed monster of Michael Tucker and Dustan Mohr handled the right field duties in 2004, and both were effective in their roles...but again, were let go before 2005.

By the time we get to Moises Alou, folks, that's four roster moves made where one would have sufficed (simply re-signing Sanders). Not exactly a model of efficiency.

Another example is Dustin Hermanson, Tim Worrell, and Joe Nathan. While Sabean has hung onto the likes of Jason Christiansen and Matt Herges, both of whom were mediocre at their best during their tenure with the club, Sabes sometimes treats good relievers like hot potatoes. Worrell, Hermanson, and Nathan were good enough to keep (Worrell and Nathan after the 2003 season, and Hermanson after the 2004 season), and all were better than others who were allowed to stick around.

While I do see that all three might have cost more money than Sabean was willing to spend, let's look at two moves that were made for 2005 and think; LaTroy Hawkins and Armando Benitez. Didn't have much problem taking on payroll there, did he?

Wouldn't it have been worlds easier to just pay those players (all three of whom probably would have made close to the same salary combined as Benitez makes by himself) than go through all of this musical reliever crap? Not even to mention Sabean is doing it again with Scott Eyre, letting him go in the exact same fashion as Worrell and Nathan -- right after their career years.

Sabes, you can trade relievers after their career years, because their value is at the highest and you'll get something in return. But just letting them go because you don't want to pay them money that you end up spending on other relievers anyway? Just doesn't make sense.

Sabean, to me, seems to believe that the only thing that validates his presence as General Manager is moving players in and out, fitting pieces to a puzzle that ends up making a picture strikingly similar to the puzzle he dismantled the year before.

So, why the complacency with backup catcher? While I don't agree with many of the things Sabean's done, the only stupid move he's made was Alex Sanchez (although that was stupid enough for three or four other stupid moves of the normal variety). I'm not about to think he's going to let Justin Knoedler be the backup for a 35-year old Mike Matheny all season long, is he?

Both Knoedler and Yamid Haad amassed negative VORP's last year (Value Over Replacement Player), but I can see how one might pass over Knoedler's numbers given that he only had 10 at-bats to show anything.

But riddle me this -- if the organization believed Haad was the #1 guy behind Yorvit Torrealba, and believed it enough that they were willing to send Torry on his way and bring Haad in, what do they project for Knoedler after their #1 guy was so horrible? No, Knoedler cannot be any worse, true, but... this over-confidence in Knoedler, or over-confidence in Mike Matheny's ability to play the vast majority of the season at a high level?

I think it's the latter, and I cannot help but think there's a very good chance that this could easily hurt the Giants in 2006. We all should already know that Matheny's offensive output last year was above his normal levels (and, by the way, notice how those numbers came back to the mean by the end of the season?), and there is. not. any. way. that. he. will. hit. for. that. high. of. an. average. with. runners. in. scoring. position. again.

So, anybody with some sense should realize the only direction for Matheny's offensive production to go is down, especially given his age of 35. Which brings us to another point -- games played. Matheny played 134 games last year, and a la Benito Santiago, saw his offensive numbers fall deeper into the season when his legs were no longer fresh. Does Sabes now propose to have Matheny play more games next season after seeing this phenomenon of old catchers getting tired late in the season for four of the last five seasons?

I guess that's the case, because otherwise he's trying to say that Knoedler can start about 30 games next year and be productive -- and that's 30 games if the 35 year-old catcher they currently have doesn't get hurt.

Seems an incredible stretch of common sense to me.

UPDATE: Thanks to Adam for this update, which apparently just happened a bit after I made this entry -- Todd Greene has signed a minor-league contract with the Giants within the last hour or two. Greene is 34, and has had some decent offensive production at times, although notably his best offensive years have been with the Rockies and Rangers, respectively.

Things make a lot more sense now than they did...oh, about three hours ago. Greene seems capable enough for a backup role, although officially he's to compete for the job.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Speaking of Mays Field...

Good ol' Aneel over at Trapped in L.A. urges us to sign the petition started by the folks at, which happened to be such a good idea that I not only signed the petition, but then put up a large link on that thar sidebar for all of you all to click on and sign as well.

The petition goes as follows:
While we wholeheartedly support the sponsorship and financial commitment SBC/AT&T has provided to the San Francisco Giants, we believe the time has come to honor one of the most beloved ball players of all time whose name has been synonymous with the San Francisco Giants franchise for nearly half a century.

We propose re-branding SBC Park as “Willie Mays Field at AT&T Park” effective immediately.

This new name will continually remind the rest of the world of our rich baseball heritage and honor possibly the greatest player in baseball history. At the same time, the new name provides stability and class for one of the most beautiful ball parks in the nation and allows SBC/AT&T to continue their sponsorship while increasing their visibility. For this reason we believe this is a win-win situation for the San Francisco Giants, Major League Baseball, its fans, and the new combined SBC/AT&T Company.

I couldn't have said it better myself, which is why I didn't say it myself, opting instead to let the much more eloquent (and much less lazy) Mays Field peoples take care of things for me. They're so nice that way...

So, why are you still reading this? Go. Sign. Makes so much sense that even George W. could grasp the concept (ba dump! crash!).

Saturday, February 04, 2006

I saw the sign...

AT&T Park, eh?



....................... .. . ... ......... .. ...

I agree with Lefty. Whatever.

Mays Field.

Steve Finley vs. Jason Ellison

Here we go again.

Last year after the Giants acquired Randy Winn from the Seattle Mariners at the end of July, I was a little peeved.

Brian Sabean had traded away a good backup catcher and a younger, although questionable, pitcher in Yorvit Torrealba and Jesse Foppert to get an outfielder whose statistics were hardly better than the outfielders that had been playing to that point...and added a few million to the Giants payroll in the process. It wasn't that the Giants didn't need outfield help -- it was difficult to believe that Jason Ellison was the answer in CF, no matter how much effort the guy put out. So yes, help was needed, but Winn's statistical pedigree suggested he would have minimal impact.

Instead, Winn came in and posted a 1.071 OPS over 231 at-bats during August and September, was the sparkplug for just about all of the offense that the Giants managed to scrape together for those two months, and played a decent centerfield despite having a history of playing a questionable centerfield and playing one of the most difficult centerfields in all of the majors.

Yeah, well see, that would've been my 2nd guess.

The situation the Giants have created for themselves this offseason by picking up Steve Finley for Edgardo Alfonzo in the Trade of the Unwanteds has quite a few striking similarities to Winn's acquisition.

For one, the writing is again on the wall for Ellison. Last year, the writing said, "You're not good enough to start in our outfield", which wasn't a bad thing -- I loved the guy's hustle and effort, and he came out of the gate strong last year when the Giants were figuring out that Marquis Grissom wouldn't do them any good anymore, but he isn't a starting centerfielder, to be sure. Now, though, the writing says, "You're not good enough to be our 4th outfielder". Is that true?

(sigh) Yes, it is, but only if you have a better option. Is Finley a better option? Yes, no, maybe.

Stats are tough to compare for these two, because of two extreme circumstances for both players: Ellison has really only half a season's worth of big league at-bats to speak to what kind of numbers he's capable of putting up, and while Finley has a host of statistical data to analyze, he'll be 41 years of age by the time the 2006 season begins. But I'm a glutton for futile efforts, so...

Ellison: 352 at-bats, .264/.316/.361, 24 BB/44 SO (.55 bb/k ratio), 14 steals in 20 chances, 3.10 p/pa (pitches per plate appearance...say that 10 times fast), 1.67 g/f ratio (ground ball to fly ball)

Finley: 406 at-bats, .222/.271/.374, 26 BB/71 SO (.37 bb/k ratio), 8 steals in 12 chances, 3.84 p/pa, 0.92 g/f ratio

I would throw in Todd Linden, too, but my oracle told me that Dan Ortmeier and Adam Shabala have a better shot to make the team than Linden. Linden's career path seems destined to follow that of Pedro Feliz. He'll get a real shot when he's about 29 years old.

I won't bother with any career analysis for either Ellison or Finley, because it seems irrelevant. Ellison's inexperience and Finley's advanced age dictate we take things one year at a time.

But how does that one year comparison look? Horrible, really. Both players were terrible, but Finley costs a lot more to be terrible. Ellison strikes out at a lower rate (one per eight AB's, while Finley is at one per every 5.7 AB's), but doesn't do anything else significantly better. Finley sees almost a full pitch more in a plate appearance than Elly on average, which is good, and also has a much more palatable g/f ratio. He also has a much better ISO power number than Elly (152 vs. 97). Stolen base % and their walk rates are even enough to call it a wash.

Defensively, Finley has the edge if one look at Range Factor and Zone Ratings, which I really don't -- Finley Range Factor is much better then Elly at 2.72 to 2.00. But Finley also had a better fielding percentage, which is something I do glance at: .985 to .974.

What does this all boil down to? Finley, statistically, was a slightly worse player than Ellison last year, but they were both poor enough that it hardly matters. It really comes down to whether one believes Finley's age caught up with him last year and he's incapable of performing significantly better, or that he's got another year left in him to put up numbers that at least approach his 2003/2004 seasons with Arizona. One could also muse as to whether or not Ellison is talented enough to improve, but since we all know that Finley will be the only one to get enough plate appearances to show anything good or bad, it's a moot point.

In any case, it doesn't look good. Recalling a few other names of outfielders still playing at 40 doesn't exactly inspire confidence: Willie Mays, Rickey Henderson, B.J. Surhoff, Jose Cruz, Barry Bonds (oh, wait, nevermind that one). Heck, the Giants can do an in-depth study on the aging process of older outfielders all by themselves -- Grissom broke down a little shy of 40, while Moises Alou is almost there. I suppose it's hard not to believe Finley might have a little gas left in his tank with the 40-ish examples of Bonds and Alou right in front of you.