Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Where Am I?

Giants vs. Marlins. Royals vs. A's.

If you told me the way these series would have the Giants and A's down two-to-zip, I'd have doubted you.

The A's, I suppose, are doing their yearly swoon, which'll inevitably be followed by their yearly tear. Guess I ought to be happy the Royals are beating a team that isn't the Cleveland Indians.

The Giants just can't be bothered to score runs. To use a couple of words I made up while watching the game and chatting on Grant's site, it's causing me a lot of frustrativocity watching the feeblenessivity of the offense.

Let's be real, here -- missing Barry Bonds and Moises Alou cannot make us feel confident that the Giants are going to pound out a 15-hit barrage, but scoring more than three runs in two games against arguably the worst team in the National League would be pretty darn cool.

Power is still the overall missing link from the offense, as the team is tied for 3rd to last in the NL in SLG percentage(again, Bonds and Alou missing so many games hurts terribly), and are tied for 2nd to last with the Padres and the Marlins for least home runs in the NL (the Cubs are their hitter's ballpark? Ouch).

Lance Niekro actually hit two bombs in the Giants 5-3 loss to the Marlins, but with somebody like Pedro "Feast or Famine" Feliz batting in front of Niekro, it comes as little surprise there were no baserunners either time Niekro went deep. See, walking more than once about every 21 plate appearances has its uses, doesn't it? Miguel Cabrera had two runners on base when he hit the only home run Florida hit all game...

A couple of Giants are slumping, among them Randy Winn (who, honestly, looks a lot like I'd thought he'd be when he first came over...very average), and Steve Finley (perhaps the super-sub role fit him better, and he's not as good playing everyday).

A very odd comment by Mike Krukow at the end of the game (and I'm definitely paraphrasing). He talked about Winn perhaps being gassed from playing everyday, and that when Alou comes off the DL Winn could get a day off.

Exactly what the heck is Jason Ellison on the team for, then? There's a few things, when take together, that show the incompetence of how this team has been built and run in regards to Ellison occupying a roster spot:
  1. Despite being the fifth outfielder and both Alou and Bonds missing 38 games between them, Ellison has started in exactly one game in the outfield this season. One. Mark Sweeney, on the other hand, has started six in the outfield despite being brought in as a 1st baseman.
  2. Ellison has somehow played in twice as many games as he has at-bats (42 to 21). Despite playing in those 42 games, Giants pitchers Matt Morris, Jason Schmidt, and Jamey Wright have more at-bats than Ellison does despite only playing in 9 to 11 games overall and not playing the entire game in the vast majority of those games.
  3. Winn has, indeed, started all 52 games so far, and hasn't gotten a single day off despite having a 5th outfielder that can play all three defensive outfield positions.
  4. Travis Ishikawa, bless his heart, was called up and immediately acquired triple the amount of starts Ellison has while being with the club the entire season.

I mean, I suppose it's a job that we'd all like to have -- to get paid well over $300k to spend some late innings playing defense, and only have to get in the batter's box in roughly 40% of the team's games...but c'mon, what did you keep the guy out of Spring for?

Monday, May 29, 2006


Boy, is there egg on my face. Hardboiled, methinks.

See, there's a problem with assuming a win, especially in baseball. Perhaps it was wishful thinking, but with Matt Morris making the start against one of the worst teams in the National League, I was thinking he could right his ship and the Giants could get going back in a positive direction at the Marlins' expense.

That was a pretty dumb assumption on my part. Makes my wanna put on my invisibility cloak and hide from public view for a while. 5-1, Marlins win.

While Morris did pitch a decent game statwise, this is a time where I...gasp!...throw the stats outta da window. This is the Marlins, after all, so I hesitate to think that this will jumpstart Morris towards pitching to his ability.

Brian Wilson also took one on the chin in this game, but there's insufficient data here. Not worried 'bout the kid at all at this point.

Isn't it amazing that even with all of his problems at the plate, Barry Bonds is still running a .965 OPS? Looking at his pedestrian .483 SLG percentage makes many people look to his lack of home runs, but for me, I also look at his doubles. It's one thing to not have the power anymore to hit as many home runs, but it's another to have your knees turning your doubles into singles. Bonds has lost some power, yes, but now needing to launch a ball into the gap or corner and past the outfielders just to get a double is making that seem a tad more drastic than it is...

Bonds hit 45 home runs in 614 plate appearances in 2004 to average a home run every 13.6 plate appearances (and one for every 8.3 at-bats, for those who like prefer that slant on the stat). In 2006, that has dropped to 7 home runs in 170 plate apperances, for an average of a homer every 24.3 plate appearances (one every 16.9 at-bats). So, in effect, it's taking him about twice as long to hit a home run.

It took Bonds an average of 22.7 plate appearances to hit a double in 2004, a number which has climbed to a double every 28.3 plate appearances in 2006.

And we'll just skip over the triples. He hit only three in 2004, but he will hit none this year. If Bonds ends up with a triple this year, it'll have to be because an outfielder misjudges a carom off of the right field wall at Mays Field, sending the ball towards the right field foul line. If Barry happens to be running...check that, ambitiously jogging the entire time, he might be able to slide...check that, dance his way into 3rd base ahead of a throw.

Sidenote: I've added two links to that thar sidebar under the Giants Blogs: Giants Win is one I've linked in a previous entry, but neglected to mention that Big D's site was permanently linked up on the sidebar, and Sour Grapes, written by a gentleman going by the name of PEFACommish. I've read his latest entries and found them entertaining, thus I have caused the link to that site to come into being...doesn't hurt that he was kind enough to link me up, too.

And oh, by the way, that invisibility cloak thing wasn't a joke. It's estimated the darn things could be operational in as little as 18 months. It'll start with military applications, but you know how these things work...

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Seven Hundred and Fifteen...

Never has something that means so much meant so little.

For me, and the majority of Giants fans, it means a lot. It's us who has been along for the entire ride, and whether it was a steroid-aided one or not, we have all been entertained by Barry Bonds. There has never, every been a time where I have felt cheated watching the man hit. Regardless of what everyone else thinks, it has been the greatest show in baseball for many years now.

Those who ridicule Bonds in discussions find it easy because he's never been part of their team, and they've only watch him sporadically -- either when the Giants are playing their team or during their favorite sports show highlights. As much and as loudly as they are willing to dismiss what he's done, all of them are quiet, attentive, and observant when he is in the batter's box. If the nation at-large really wanted to stick it to Bonds and show their feelings, they'd collectively turn the channel at home and turn their backs in the road ballparks. They don't do that, of course, because they are busy being just as entertained as Giants fans are when we watch.

However, it doesn't change the fact that the moment itself has lost the flair it should have had, due to the scandal and the length of time it has taken to accomplish the feat.

Joe over at Giants Cove sketched a few notes on Bonds, including a link to an interesting study on how many home runs he would've hit without any performance-enhancing drugs.

Personally I think the study is believable -- at least, the method that Patrick Hruby used seems to make sense, except for a couple of what I think are important points:
  • The study seems to disregard the workout regimen and change in diet, etc., with the assumption that steroids were involved. I don't mind assuming steroids were involved and that they helped, but I do mind assuming that the training Bonds underwent wouldn't have had an effect without steroids. Lifting all those weights would've still helped even without steroids, just to a lesser degree.
  • Intentional walks. When you break down how Bonds has been pitched to...or, rather, how he hasn't been pitched to, you realize that if these pitchers and teams don't treat Bonds differently than any other player has ever been treated in the history of the game, he'd have hit quite a few more homers than he has now.

So, it's a balancing act between the extra home runs steroids provided vs. all of the "special" treatment Bonds has gotten over the last six or so years. I don't pretend to think that they cancel each other out, simply that these things do lessen the impact of how much steroids has inflated Bonds' totals.

Friday, May 26, 2006


Watching the Giants, thus far, beat up on the Colorado Rockies. Travis Ishikawa showing out with a couple of hits...

Wait. This just in. The Kansas City Royals have defeated the New York Yankees, 7-6. I don't talk about the Royals much on this site because I really don't have the time, but their losing streaks this year have been like having someone telling you they're going to punch you in the balls, then slowly winding up to do it. You know it's coming, you know it's going to hurt, but when it happens it still manages to hurt more than you ever thought it could.

Anyhow, the nice thing I see in the Giants game isn't necessarily Ishikawa's nice game or even Jason Schmidt's dominant performance to this point, but rather Omar Vizquel. Reason being that after Vizquel's incredibly hot start and subsequent nosedive back to Earth, he's heated back up again -- always nice to see out of someone his age playing the 2nd toughest defensive position on the diamond.

Also, wanted to clarify something about yesterday's post and a comment that was left in response to it by AllFrank which read:
You don't run a team by saying "yeah, he can't be worse than..." Merkin clearly is not ready. He didn't win a spot out of Spring Training and he's done nothing in Fresno to show he's improved significantly. Taschner, on the other hand, has improved, tho I still don't see enough improvement to make him the clear cut choice to be called up. It will be a lefty, and the two best lefty's right now are Taschner and Sanchez. They, at least are showing the potential to succeed in the bigs, which Mrkin is not.
This was in response to an admittedly flippant comment I made that Merkin Valdez "couldn't be any worse than (Scott) Munter". Now, while I still believe that to be true, this was not meant to be any kind of endorsement of Valdez or suggestion that bringing up Valdez is the organization's smartest choice.

Rather, if you read the post, I simply said I wanted to see Valdez brought up. Didn't mean I thought he'd be any good, didn't mean I thought that move made sense. I simply like flamethrowing relievers that strike a lot of hitters out, which is what Valdez does best. Nevermind that he doesn't seem to do anything else well -- throws fast, strikes guys out, throwing fast and striking guys out is an exciting thing to watch, thus...

...I really hate explaining myself, but I suddenly had visions of other people thinking that yesterday's entry was me endorsing Valdez's promotion. Thought I was pretty clear that although I wanted to see him pitch, Valdez wasn't doing well, thus his callup was unlikely at best.

Sidenote: You should see continued improvement out of Ray Durham. While many might attribute this to Durham simply snapping out of his early-season troubles and finally becoming the hitter that he really is, to that I say balderdash.

"Balderdash!" There. I said it.

No, this is because I invoked the Jersey Mojo, something that can be used once per year by a passionate fan who owns an authentic (and expensive) jersey of a major league player.

It's simple. When a player is slumping and you own an authentic (again, expensive, and something that you really paid way too much money for), then you have the ability to invoke a hot streak for that player once in a season. Durham was slumping, I invoked the Jersey Mojo, and the result is a bonafide hot streak.

And don't you bastards go checking your shoes, the bullshit you're wading through isn't even ankle-deep. You'll be fine, just fine.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Danieldamus has returned

Yes, my powers of prediction are back in full force.

(Nevermind that I've been wrong about 45 other things during the interim between my last accurate prediction and my latest one. Whaddya expect me to admit my failures?)

As I predicted and Big D from Giants Win pointed out, the team has sent down Scott Munter to Connecticut (yeah, down to double A) and Dan Ortmeier back to Fresno.

While AA ball sounds like they're really down on him, the article in SFgate quotes the Giants as saying they wanted Munter to link back up with pitching coach Bob Stanley, which is probably the smartest move -- but honestly, when a one-pitch pitcher doesn't have control of the one pitch that he throws...well, call me skeptical that Munter will return soon.

Who's going to replace Munter? Dunno yet, but I'm hoping the Giants keep the youth movement going by bringing back Merkin Valdez. The last time Valdez was brought up was 2004, where he was a bit wild in the two appearances he had in August. I think this is a good time age-wise, as Valdez is currently 24. Only problem is, Merkin's not having the best year at Fresno. He's getting hit hard and issuing quite a few walks.

I'd be surprised if Brian Sabean brought Valdez up with stats looking like these, but then, we all know the Giants don't always pay attention to stats -- otherwise Jose Vizcaino would've been gone, too. Doesn't his performance so far this year seem just as bad as Munter's?

Heh. Does a baby go "goo"? The The Let's Waive Goodbye to Jose Vizcaino Count-Up shall continue.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

That's it, now I'm just plain pissed

So, in addition to the absolute lack of any offensive skill whatsoever besides the occasion ability to luck into a base hit, we now find out that Jose Vizcaino can't even field the position that he shouldn't be playing.

This is past silly, it's embarrassing. Vizcaino's two errors in the 8-5 loss to the Cardinals Tuesday ended up costing the Giants three unearned runs -- and, gee, wouldja lookie there, the Giants lost by exactly that margin.

I understand letting a player play through his cold streaks and bad spells when he is either: 1) highly paid, b) a star player, or c) the team's best option. But Vizcaino is none of those things, so the team's patience with his struggles and willingness to find him a spot in the lineup is baffling. While Mark Sweeney's splits vs. left-handed pitching aren't exactly encouraging (he doesn't have a hit in 11 plate appearances vs. lefties this season), I think he's made enough contribution to the club overall to warrant extra playing time in front of Vizcaino.

In fact, were I Sweeney looking at Vizcaino's body of work this season, I'd consider it an insult to have Vizcaino play in front of me.

So, as I usually do when something is going on that I want to end, I'm going to start the Let's Waive Goodbye to Vizcaino Count-Up. This will work similarly to count-up some of you may remember from last season: The Count-Up of How Many Days Late Brian Sabean is in Letting That Useless Hunk of Protoplasm Alex Sanchez Go.

The difference between a countdown and a count-up is simple (at least, the way I'm defining it). A countdown counts down to when an event begins or starts, and my count-ups count the time from when something should have begun or started.

So the Let's Waive Goodbye to Jose Vizcaino Count-Up will begin on Thursday, May 25th, as that is the day after the day Vizcaino should've been waived. As this won't actually happen on Wednesday like it should, the count-up will start at one on Thursday and count up the days since the mistake was committed. And, just to ratchet up the brutality, I'll also count up the number of plate appearances the Giants have wasted on him.

If you think I'm a bit obsessed with this, well, you're right. Very astute of you to notice.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Madness Must Cease!

Dear Father Alou:

The Jose Vizcaino Experiment is over. Please, please (oh God, please) stop playing him at first base. In the 9-2 victory over the Cardinals on Monday, he again failed to contribute via the hit, and his average fell to .183. You not only benched Jason Ellison on Friday to play this "hitter" at 1st, but in Monday's game you even benched Mark Sweeney to insert Vizcaino at 1st, a move that is only acceptable if Sweeney has use of neither his legs nor his arms.

We already know that you're fairly close to senility, but a few of us still harbor hope that you may be able to fight off the darkness long enough to contruct a few lineup cards without Vizcaino on them before this year is over. Ray Durham is healthy and playing everyday, Felipe, thus it is expected that the .183-hitting, backup 2nd baseman not play as much.


Orange & Black Baseball

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Barrett Sox Pierzynski

Those guys at McCovey Chronicles sure know how to motivate a guy to be creative.

Which one do you all like better?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

2+2, on occasion, = 4, unless there's a Veteran involved

To follow up yesterday's quasi-rant about how Father Alou constructed his lineup yesterday, I also came to wonder this...

What kind of message is Felipe sending to Jason Ellison? Ellison is the 5th outfielder, yet Felipe has played Mark Sweeney in front of him a couple of times already this year. Now, granted, I'm imagining this was an offensive move on Felipe's part -- Sweeney has hit well against right handed pitching this season, so I understand the move to get him in the lineup on Friday although Sweeney has hardly played any outfield in his career (edit: thanks to Josh for a correction -- Sweeney has played plenty of outfield during his career, just not in 2005, which happened to be the only year that I checked...shame on me).

However, when you follow up that move by putting the Force of Outtage a.k.a. Jose Vizcaino at 1st base, that logic flies out of the window. I can follow wanting Sweeney's bat in the lineup, but I can't follow finding a spot for Vizcaino.

It's simple. Ellison is the 5th outfielder on a team that was playing with one outfielder already hurt (Moises Alou), and another one playing DH (Barry Bonds). So, with this being the case, not only did Felipe not play the next outfielder in line (Ellison), but he instead took a player out of position to put him in the outfield (Sweeney) in Ellison's place, then took another player out of position (Vizcaino) to put in the spot that Sweeney could've occupied naturally at 1st base.

Felipe could've had two players playing at natural positions in Ellison and Sweeney, and could've made sure Vizcaino's pressed-board bat didn't make it into the lineup to exert its gravitational pull on outs. What type of message is Felipe transmitting here?

The message is: Jason, you won't play, ever. You'll pinch run and be a late inning defensive replacement, but that's it. The Giants didn't seem to mind getting Kevin Frandsen a run at 2nd base playing instead of Vizcaino, but when a chance to get Ellison instead of Vizcaino arose, Felipe instead moved two players out of position to set his starting lineup.

That is horrible, horrible managment on Felipe's part. Ellison really isn't very good, but: 1) he's a better hitter than Vizcaino, 2) he's better defensively in the outfield than Sweeney, and most importantly, 3) he's done everything they've asked of him this year, which has basically been all cleanup work.

So why, Felipe, when there's a genuine opportunity to get the man one measly start, did you turn around and shit on him? Remember, this is the guy they kept out of Spring Training...why hasn't there been more than 15 at-bats worth of opportunity on a team where Moises Alou has missed significant time with injury, and Bonds has missed a bunch of games resting his knee?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Just wondering about...


1st baseman Mark Sweeney.

2nd baseman Jose Vizcaino.

Outfielder Jason Ellison.

Father Alou decided that his best use of these three players was the following: Sweeney in left field, Vizcaino starting at 1st, and Ellison on the bench.


Vizcaino can't hit, thus when an extra player is put in due to Barry Bonds doing the DH thing, it never, ever should be him if another option exists.

And wonder of wonders, another option did exist. Play Ellison and Sweeney at their natural positions, and not only get a better bat in the lineup in Ellison over Vizcaino, but also get better defensively in left field by using Ellison there instead of Sweeney.

Is there something I'm missing in all of this?

And if any of you say lefty/righty hitter/pitcher matchups, you're going to get my best sneer in response.



Vizcaino, a switch-hitter, has been more of a switch-outter this season -- here's his...splits..vs. right-handers: .188/.278/.188

Yeah. What is there about this guy that ever needs to hit in front of anyone, or, for that matter, play in front of anyone?

I like Felipe, but sometimes I do believe the occasional bong hit interferes with his higher brain functions.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

(There's a dagger) Deep in the Heart of Texas

You got your Barry Bonds Beaning (tm), and we got our three game Absolute Astro Annihilation (tm).

To Houston fans, apparently, that's an even trade. For me, after laughing to the point of tears, I disagree. I'll take the small bruise on Bonds' back and the sweep, thanks. Perhaps Astro fans should be more concerned with the fact that their entire team's scoring from the series was matched by Pedro the very first game of the series (5 to 5).

The incident will loom larger than the meaning of this series for the Giants, but it shouldn't -- several players seem to be taking a healthy dose of Get Right in pushing the team back above .500 (along with...gasp!...the rest of the NL West):
  • Matt Morris, more than anyone else got up so he could get down and funky...alright, corny as that line was, it has the vague vestiges of truth ingrained -- he used his defense and held down the Astros in that lovely little launching pad that they call a stadium. A game Morris sorely needed, and it came at exactly the right time.
  • Ray Durham showed us why we're glad neither Jose Vizcaino or Kevin Frandsen is starting at 2nd base -- he can hit. Durham's got a pretty drastic difference thus far in his splits, what with him killing lefty pitchers in limited plate appearances and struggling against righties. Normally he is more productive hitting right-handed, but this year it's been night and day.
  • I said a day or so ago I'd leave Pedro Feliz alone since he had righted his ship, but I think I take that back. He got hot right around the time I was talking bad about him and is slugging .900 in his last seven games. Yes, because Feliz reads my blog and took my comments personally, that is why he is hitting Yep. Makes sense. Oh, and he's suddenly 6th in the NL in RBI, too. That'll get Joe Morgan's blood a-flowin', yeah.

So now we come to the really interesting stuff -- interleague. While it was widely speculated that it'd be much better for Bonds to hit #714 at home, I can't help but think him hitting it in Oakland wouldn't be too bad of an alternative.

I'm going to predict it happens on Friday, on Bonds' 1st at bat. Remember where you heard it first...unless it doesn't happen. Then, don't remember anything I just said about it. Forget my name, and tell people you don't know me.


To be honest, I haven't followed Houston as closely as I did last year, but I have to say I'm confounded by how poorly they've fared against the Giants in games 1 & 2 of this series. As I write, game 3 is going on. Seconds ago, Ray Durham hit a three run homer (shortly after Omar bunted himself to first), putting the Giants ahead 6-1. Is it even remotely possible that the Giants could humiliate the Minute Maid girls three nights in a row? Wait a minute, in the same inning, Feliz just drove in Steve Finley from 2nd. 7-1. Wow, maybe by the time I finish this post, San Francisco will be once again in double digits.

I missed last night's game, but learned from the loudmouth guy and his sidekick on KNBR that Bonds got beaned good. Drama ensued. Callers into the show displayed an exceptional level of vengeful stupidity, demanding that the Giants return the favor by beaning a bunch of guys tonight. Yes, I think that the Bush solution will improve affairs and raise the glamor of baseball to new heights. Why don't we just give batters the authority to race toward the mound and break their bats on the offending pitcher's skull? I mean, why should pitcher's get all the fun? And brains exploding in the wake of a power hitter's blow would make for awesome highlight reels. Let's face it, baseball is a pretty bloodless sport (the most blood I've seen this season was a zoom shot of the blister on Carlos Zambrano's middle finger -- what a warrior!).

Okey dokey, I'm going back to the isolated fantasy world in which San Francisco blows into foreign towns and leaves teams whimpering in their wake. Go Giants!

[UPDATE] Whoa. Pedro Feliz's 8th-inning 2-run homer put the Giants in double digits. Um, for the third night in a row. 10-1.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Division winner? Heck, I dunno. Thundercats, however, I do know.

I haven't a clue.

Who, in the name of Snarf, is going to win this division?

While the Giants do seem to possess the ability to come back again and again like Mumm-ra, the Ever Living, they have a plethora of evil henchmen within their division to overcome.

They do not have the speed of Cheetara. With Barry Bonds still struggling and Moises Alou on the shelf, they do not have the power of Panthro. The guile of their manager, Father Alou, is not thought to be the equal of Tygra. So how are they to defend AT&T Lair and bring the battle to enemy territory?

It's plain the team needs their Hero, Bonds, to step up. They need him to wield his weapon even though he not in the fullness of his powers. Although I think the division will stay within reach of any team close to .500, I'm sure the Giants will need Bonds' production to put them over the top.

This is what happens when you give a goofball a blog, let him write whatever he wants...and then someone lets fly with a stray Thundercats reference during the day. The results should be predictable.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Waiting to Exhale

Anticipation can be great for a little while, then it starts to suck.

So while I've been waiting for Barry Bonds to make some more history, I've tried not to dwell on it. Instead, I've waited for a few other things.

I've been waiting for Mike Matheny, Ray Durham, and Pedro Feliz to start hitting. I've been waiting for Mike Morris to start pitching. I've been waiting for Brian Sabean to awake from this slumber and realize Jose Vizcaino doesn't belong on a major league roster anymore. I've been waiting for interleague so that the Giants can DH Barry, and run a decent defensive outfield in Jason Ellison, Steve Finley, and Randy Winn. I've also been waiting for interleague so that Finley can get some regular at-bats to see if he's really as good of a pickup as he's looking right now.

A little of what I've been waiting for has come to pass. Matheny is hitting well now...check that. Matheny is hitting to his ability, which will have to suffice. This is about as good of a hitter as he is capable of being.

Feliz is hitting to his ability as well, and that will have to suffice as well. Heck, take one look at Adrian Beltre's numbers from last year and so far this year, and Feliz's pedestrian production looks absolutely svelte.

That being said, I am plenty happy to see him at least being himself. Being that we're about at the 25% mark of the season, multiplying Feliz's stats by four would yield us 28 home runs and 108 RBI, which does have some value -- I just wish he could scrape together something higher than a .761 OPS to do it, but with nobody behind him and no prospects coming up the Giants in the near future at 3rd base, it'll do.

Small note: I wrote bad things about Feliz on April 27th, and he's improved on all of the things I pointed out expect for his ISO discipline number. His ISO SLG is way up from a forgettable .122 to a much more palatable .197, and I think some of that can be trace to two other numbers: his pitcher per plate appearance rose from a nasty, impatient 3.18 to a still-nasty-and-impatient-yet-better 3.27 (he's taking a few more pitches here and there), and his ground ball to fly ball ratio went from 1.27 to 1.13 -- for Feliz, I think hitting more fly balls is a good sign, because it could mean he's not getting caught trying to pull those offspeed and breaking pitches on the outside as much.

I'm hoping, as I'm sure we all are, that Brian Wilson comes back to pitch just like he did in his debut. Not only am I hoping for that just for the sake of a young Giant doing well, but also for the addition in the makeup of the team that it will continue:

Jeremy Accardo, Kevin Correia, Brad Hennessey, Brian Wilson, Noah Lowry, and Matt Cain are all young, with Hennessey being the oldest at 26. At this point it's hard to not see those guys sticking with the big club for a while (although it's obviously shaky with Cain at the moment), and that is a refreshing thing to see some Accardos and Correias pitching in some important late-game situations rather than a Jeff Fassero or a Tim Worrell.

And with the allowable exception of Hennessey they all have live arms with the ability to miss bats. Pretty nice, I think.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I'm wondering...

When will the league stop walking Barry Bonds? While it's obvious he can still get a hold of one and hit it a long ways, he's been very normal this season.

Bonds has 17 intentional walks, and Albert Pujols, the best hitter in baseball, has all of six.

Can't help but think some of that is due to Moises Alou's absence from the lineup. Whereas it was always debateable in the past how much any hitter could protect Bonds and get him more chances to hit, now I believe it is necessary for the Giants to have a good hitter behind Bonds not only to get him more chances to hit, but to get him better pitches to swing at in his at-bats.

Still can't figure out why the league pitches to Phat Albert, though.

On the bright side of things, our main man Pedro Feliz is finally making enough offensive contribution to warrant a spot in the batting order. He's run his OPS over 700, thus I will leave him alone for a little while.

It's funny -- the Giants had a chance to win the series vs. the Dodgers earlier today and failed to do so. If they had, it'd have been easy to say that it was a great series win and move one, but since they lost, all I can think about is the fact that it should've been a sweep barring the miracle comeback on Saturday.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

All the Right Moves and Less is Morris

The Kevin Frandsen Walk and Power Watch did it's duty a few days ago (as Frandsen finally drew a walk), and apparently the Giants brass noted it and decided to cut things short.

Ray Durham in, and the no power having, no walk drawing, no pitch taking, ground ball hitting Frandsen is out.

I don't really think Frandsen is quite that bad, but despite all of the support the kid got, that's exactly what he did in his 50 plate appearances with the club. I think there is this tendency to sort of...over-support (to make up a word) a player when he has a spectacular debut. Remember Brain Dallimore? Whenever a rookie players shows out in his first test, the support for that players seems to last way beyond what it should, even if the player basically tanks afterward (which is precisely what Frandsen did).

I want to see him back here, but not this season.

With that, it's time to look at the other pieces of dead wood on the club, and that starts with Jose Vizcaino. He's a utility player that the Giants shouldn't utilize, and one that should take almost no effort to replace. Get 'er done, Sabes.

...oh jeez. I hate that expression, and I just used it.

Also becoming a serious, serious problem is Matt Morris. While it's easy to simply say that Morris sucks and it was a mistake to sign him (try it for yourself...g'head), what I see is a pitcher who is not himself:

  • His strikeouts per nine innings (k/9) is at 4.20, which is a precipitous drop from even the pedestrian 5.47 it was in 2005. This number has been falling for six consecutive years, though, so it's hard to just call it a fluke. I'm just trying to figure out why it's dropping so much -- while Morris is aging, he's still only 31, so I would've thought that he would've been able to hold in the fives somewhere on his k/9. Time will tell.
  • With that drop in strikeouts and a rise in his walk rate (he's already walked about half the number of batters in 45 innings this year that he walked in 193 innings last year), of course Morris' strikeout-to-walk ratio (k/bb) takes a big hit. Last year it was a stellar 3.14, and the lowest it's been in the last five years was 2.34, which is still plenty good. This is the biggest reason I liked him as a pitcher, and this year it's at a by-far career worst at 1.17. Ick.
  • Two other numbers that are at career-high levels (or, career low levels, depending on your glass being half empty or half full of a fine cognac...because you've already drank the other half, and now you're feeling kind of...nevermind. Ahem.): his pitches per plate appearance (p/pa) and his pitches per innings pitched (p/ip) are significantly higher than his norm. It's taking Morris more pitches per batter, and thus taking him longer to get out of innings. While these numbers don't always tell much of a story by themselves, when taken in context with Morris' struggles they reinforce what's been going on.
  • Opponents are teeing off on Morris. Opposing batters are hitting...perhaps you'd better sit down, first...opposing batters are putting up the following line against Morris: .340/.424/.558. List of players with similar numbers right now: Prince Fielder, Derek Jeter, Miguel Tejada, Hank Blalock, Austin Kearns, and Todd Helton. Who the heck would want to face off against a lineup like that every time out? But that's what it's been like for Morris. This is something where it's easy to expect improvement because it really can't get any worse.
  • And what could be the most telling stat of them all is Morris' own ground ball/fly ball ratio. Normally he's getting a chunk more ground balls than fly balls hit against him (his career number is 1.64). This year he's about dead even at 0.96, which sometimes could mean there's a lot of line drives being hit -- and with that .558 SLG percentage against Morris, I wouldn't doubt that. Morris has induced an average of 20 double plays over the last five years, this year he's on pace for about four.

In essence, there's nothing Morris is doing well. For better or worse, he's going to get ample opportunity to right the ship because of the type of signing this was thought to be. Let's just hope things turn around, because right now it's looking as if bringing back Brett Tomko was the move to make.

...just had to end it that way (chuckle).

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Winning baseball and interesting reading...

The Giants have taken the series against the Cubs with a 9-3 win, and the Royals enjoyed a day off today after sweeping the Cleveland Indians yesterday.

Can everything just stay...just like this?

I also read a neat piece by Dayn Perry over at FOX Sports which summarizes a bunch of reasons why Babe Ruth was overrated. I agree with him wholeheartedly while disagreeing with him -- all of his reasoning is solid and factual: Ruth drank heavily and cheated on his wife, he didn't play against the best competition because baseball wasn't integrated, the dimensions of Yankee Stadium favored his home run exploits, etc, etc.

There can be absolutely no doubt that if Ruth played today as he was then, he wouldn't have gotten anywhere. His physical limitations (brought on by his eating and drinking habits) would have greatly hampered his effectiveness in today's game, and even if he was to do well enough to hold down a job as a DH or something, he'd get blasted in the media day-in and day-out for his lack of morals. He either wouldn't have been good enough to stick around unless he got in shape, and he wouldn't even have been welcomed for very long by any club with all of the negative press he would've brought with him.

However, that being said, there is a reason why Ruth is so huge -- he was so much better than anyone else playing around him, weakened talent pool or not. Not admiring Ruth's baseball career would be like to discount, say, LeBron James' high school career. Sure, it was obvious he was head and shoulders above those around him, but what could he do about it?

It would've been nice if Ruth had been tested against the world's best players, which is what someone like Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, or Greg Maddux have to do everytime they play. This wasn't the case, but there's nothing that can change that, so I don't see much value in bringing Ruth down because of it.

If we are doing a comparison of Ruth and Willie Mays as players and trying to equate their accomplishments, then sure, Ruth's era and circumstances warrants a huge hit. But if we are compare Ruth's and Bonds' stature and impact on the game at the respective times they played, well, Ruth is and should be just as big of a deal as he is.

And who knows? If Ruth had been tested against the world's best and had found his physical condition lacking, perhaps he would have made the necessary changes to adjust and still be just as good as he was. While it might be a valid point to doubt the absolute validity of Ruth's accomplishments from a statistical standpoint (especially when compared with today's players), I don't think it's wise to doubt his talent and impact on baseball.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Well, that was quick

The Kevin Frandsen Walk and Power Watch has done it's duty.

Frandsen drew a walk in his first at-bat against Carlos Zambrano in tonight's game vs. the Cubs -which, incidentally, was his first at-bat since the inception of the Watch.

That's what I do. I crab and moan about things, and they get fixed. Notice how Pedro Feliz and Mike Matheny have both hit better since I've bitched about them. No, it doesn't have anything to do with the fact that it was very unlikely that they would hit that poorly for the whole season or, not at all.

Nevertheless, I will still keep the Watch going, because otherwise I'd be bored.

Calm excitement, and stick a fork in Vizcaino

I want to get excited about Jason Schmidt's and the Giants performance yesterday in their 6-1 win over the Cubs.

I am excited, really -- can't help it. Lance Niekro went oppo field with a blast, which is 10 times more exciting than it should be (showing that kind of power to right field for him is something I didn't quite knew he had in him). Mike Matheny is heating up, getting to the point where at least he can be justified to hold a spot in the batting order.

Steve Finley seems to have found a sweet spot in Triples Alley, and quite honestly is looking like the best pickup of the offseason. The man is running a .900 OPS, and speaking of running, doesn't look like he's slowed down (what the heck is he eating?). While I like Jason Ellison, there just isn't any reason for him to play much beyond pinch-running unless there is an injury...which there is right now, of course, but after Moises Alou comes back, any and all extra plate appearances should go to Finley.

And then there's Schmidt. I wrote a week ago about Schmidt's performance against the Brewers on the road, wondering whether the Giants have gotten their ace back...and I still don't quite know. Yes, he was dominant against the Cubs, and that reinforces the start against Milwaukee, but the Cubs have lost eight games in a row and are quite wounded right now -- their offense is on the...ahem, south side of effective. So gimme one more pearl and call me a Believer.

Despite my misgivings about Kevin Frandsen's start, it's got to be becoming more and more difficult for Father Alou to play Jose Vizcaino. Hitting a buck-fifty is just unacceptable -- having a position player who can't hit as well as about four pitchers on the roster cannot be had...tell me, does anyone pinch hit Vizcaino over Brad Hennessey, Noah Lowry, Jamey Wright, or even Matt Cain at this point? I certainly don't, and thus I'm feeling the desire to see him not play anymore.

Yes, Brian Sabean, he is old. Not old as in "veteran", but old as, old. Old like Jeff Fassero. I would rather have Joe McEwing, and if you knew how much that pains me to say, you'd realize how much I'm down on Vizcaino right now.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

It just hit me...

I'm late.

I can imagine the rest of you laughing at me, as undoubtedly most of the rest of you have had no issues with this. What's this, you query?

Seven. Four. Teen.

I've been anticipating it, sure. I've known for a while I want to see it pretty badly, and I'm so glad I'm able to watch most of tonight's game and have the next couple o' days off to make certain I can watch both games.

But, it really didn't hit me exactly what I'm watching unfold until it darn near happened.

In the 5th inning, Barry Bonds hit a deep fly ball into centerfield causing flashbulbs to go off by the thousands, and 40,000 people watch the flight of that ball in perfect unison. It had the right crack, the right distance, the right height...

...but, unfortunately, the wrong person playing defense. Juan Pierre caught the ball about 6 inches above the fence and hauled it back from history. Shame 'bout that.

Honestly, it would've been a bit of a funky one, barely clearing the fence. Remember Mark McGwire's 62nd home run in '98? It was a laser, and out of the park so quickly it was hard to get your bearings before you realized what you were seeing. While Bonds' blast in that 5th inning was home run worthy, it just wouldn't have quite fit the magnitude of the moment, the man, and all of the things that have surrounded both these past months.

I'm thinking splash hit, personally...put it out there in the Cove to put a stamp on the whole thing. Plus, it'll be worth it just to: 1) see the watercraft make the mad dash towards it, and 2) save us from that silly situation with home run #73 in 2001.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Facing the music...

Jeff Fassero has been DFA'd in favor of Brad Hennessey. It's wonderful and terrible at the same time.

I've spent most of the time I've talked about Fassero talking bad about him, but I've never doubted that he had heart. Last season he squared off against Retirement and went the full 12 rounds, winning a majority decision. In the rematch, it looks like Retirement wins by TKO in the 3rd round.

He had a decent year in 2005, showing he still had some life on his fastball and being the epitome of the "crafty left-hander". This year he was fooling no one and was getting tagged more than the fat kids in grade school. Still, it's sad seeing a career come to a close -- and while it's still very possible (and perhaps even likely) that some team will pick Fassero up to see if just a skoche of gas is left in the tank, it's unlikely I'm going to be following any of his future expoits as his body tries to tell his mind that it's had enough.

Good luck to you, Jeff. I do agree with Kruk -- he was a good Giant.

In the meantime, I'm watching the Giants ride the strength of one breakout inning and some strong pitching from OH-MY-GOD-I'M-SO-GLAD-HE'S-BACK Noah Lowry to defeat the Houston Astros in the Cover Girl Make-up Game. Not only is it great to see Lowry back, but it's just as good to see more and more of Jeremy Accardo. Apparently he wants to become a closer, and I say more power to him. He's got the full pedigree -- the velocity, the stuff, and the ability to use those two things to miss bats and strike some guys out (more strikeouts than innings pitched is just lovely to see from any Giants bullpen pitcher). The only thing he seems to lack is experience, but it's to be hoped that the Giants don't take experience over ability all the time... I'm watching the game...not...quite...end, I feel like I have to add Tim Worrell to my list of very "done" looking pitchers. He relieves Accardo, and promptly throws a BP fastball to Mike Lamb which ended up deposited over the centerfield fence.

Credit to Father Alou in one sense -- he showed absoutely no patience with Worrell and took him right out. I can only hope it wasn't necessarily because he felt he needed to call on Armando Benitez to get the last out, but because he was sending a bit of a message to Worrell that he's not going to tolerate many more of these sad excuses for pitching performances.

You've got to think that Worrell and Scott Munter are on short leashes.

Oh, and today starts the Kevin Frandsen Watch. While the rookie has certainly shown he can put together a variety of singles and get hit by a few inside pitches, he hasn't shown much interest in drawing a walk thus far in 42 plate appearances. While Jeff Francouer had quite a run last year before drawing a walk, he was hitting quite a few extra-base hits along the way -- Frandsen has only one double in 11 total hits, for a SLG % only 27 points higher than his batting average.

I've like seeing Frandsen, and with backup infielders like Jose Vizcaino, it's not as if Frandsen has no value...but c'mon, man, let's hit a couple more doubles and throw in a couple of walks, alright?

Power Outage

How is it that one team can collect 11 hits and only score one run, while another team can scrape together six hits yet score four runs?

Extra base hits.

Of the Phillies six hits in their 4-1 win over the Giants, they had three doubles and one home run. Of the Giants 11 hits, they're only extra base-hit was a double.

The Giants offense has one huge problem with power -- they ain't got none. Compounding the problem is the fact that they don't have a lot of team speed, so they aren't able to make up for their lack of power much by stealing bases or stretching singles into doubles or doubles into triples.

If we look solely at power, there are only four teams worse than the Giants in the NL in SLG %: the Dodgers, Pirates, Cubs and Padres.

If we look solely at steals, there are only two teams worse than the Giants: the Pirates and the Astros (be proud, fellas, you definitely got it all over Pittsburgh).

I would seriously doubt that increasing their steal attempts would help the Giants in any way, so what's left? In team batting average and on-base percentage, the Giants are currently in the middle of the pack (9th and 10th, respectively).

So. Only a month into the season, and quite honestly, it's already time for Brian Sabean to leap...nay, spring! into action. Were the Giants to stay around .500, I don't think the division will get away from them, but that's a silly thing to count on -- not to mention there's no guarantee the team can stay close to .500 with its current makeup.

The rotation is competitive, and the bullpen has stabilized to some extent (although it bears watching). But the offense? While there are a few players hitting below expectations, I don't see some kind of huge turnaround in the making. Their entire infield can't hit for power (and for those that want to counter with Pedro Feliz, I say to you...heh, sure), and only Omar Vizquel has made any sort of significant offensive contribution thus far this season...oh, and he's finally cooling off.

But am I worried? Nah, 'course not.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Awww Schmidt

Jason Schmidt. Have we gotten our ace back?

Well: 9.0 innings/5 hits allowed (only one an extra base hit)/Zero runs allowed/Zero walks/7 strikeouts

...and all that on just 113 pitches, which may be the most important piece of it. Oh, and by the way, he did it on the road in a hitter's park against a team which, before the start of this game, was 2nd in the NL in runs per game at 5.26 runs/game.

That's like, cool. 2-0, Giants.

I must admit I got a chuckle when reading the MLB game recap from Giants beat writer Rich Draper. I'm sure part of his mandate is to up-play the positive and find a positive spin on the negative, but lying just shouldn't be allowed. The Giants offense was 100% provided by Pedro Feliz, which is great -- it's nice to see him go deep and drive in some runs, but Draper had the following to say about Feliz and his efforts:

Fireworks came from third baseman Pedro Feliz, who is struggling offensively, but has a knack of rising to the occasional with men on base
That's incredibly untrue. From 2003-2005, where pretty much all of Feliz' career resides, he's hit .254 with runners on base, and .240 with runners in scoring position. This year, he's hit .200 with runners on and .148 with runners in scoring position.

Rich, what the heck are you talking about? I think he means well, but when he talks about the Giants, I think some kind of fluid leaks into his brain and dumb stuff flies from his keyboard. I've started to pick up the habit, if I happen to read a game recap from, of reading the opposing teams' recap from the opposing teams' beat writer. There's just less of a chance of wading knee-deep through fecal matter doing things that way. Or, at least I'm wading knee-deep through the fecal matter of that other team rather than the one I follow. That, I can stand.

One thing that is becoming painfully obvious once again this season -- ain't no wildcard coming out of the NL West. It's win the division or bust. The NL Central has three teams with over a .600 winning percentage, and five of six teams with a record above .500.

Lance Niekro, after having some encouraging at-bats earlier this season, is starting to look a lot like he did last season -- smack in the middle of the Amazon without a guide.

(That was a tough one, deciding between the remote place of the world to finish that metaphor. I started with Siberia, moved onto the Sahara Desert, then to the Nepalese Mountains, Antartica, the Bermuda Triangle, finally settling on the Amazon. I was even switching between his method of aid -- from a compass, to a map, to a GPS, then instead choosing to go with a guide. See, I bet you all just thought I threw things together here with no kind of plan, didn't you? Far from it. There is careful planning that goes into each...wait, what was I talking about before this?)

The Giants upcoming schedule is truly screwed. The short two-game set with San Diego that they played followed by hitting the road for the two-game set with Milwaukee, starting a three-game series in Philadephia the day after ending with Milwaukee, then flying all the way back across the country to play the make-up game with Houston the day after the Philadelphia series ends. Oh, and they play for nine consecutive days after that, too.

Their next day off is May 18th, which will make it 20 straight games. Most of the games will have been at home, luckily, but that's got to take it's toll on a team this old. I'm going to set a bit of a mile-marker on that Thursday, May 18th, to see where the team stands after all those games. Could be a little rough.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

That's gotta be it, right?

Well, at least that's out of the way.

It's obvious the San Diego Padres just decided to get all of their run-scoring in the series out of the way in one game. Before the game yesterday, the Padres were scoring at a 3.7 runs per game clip, meaning in a three-game series, they've been averaging about 11 runs.

Simple logic would dictate that we note that their 10-4 smothering of the Giants yesterday as a temporary occurence, with zero chance of reoccurence -- as this is a two-game series, it would be impossible for the Padres to score any more runs, right? They've already scored more than their share of runs. Yes, yes, that makes sense.

The Giants, meanwhile, currently have four offensive vacuums in their lineup at catcher, 3rd base, 2nd base, and the pitcher's spot. Care to guess which one has been most productive? Stats are approximate -- had to add and divide every darn thing myself:
  • The line for 3rd base (for the sake of ease, I've assumed Pedro Feliz has gotten enough of the plate appearances here to not include anyone else): .208/.243/.313 (556 OPS)
  • The line for 2nd base (Ray Durham, Jose Vizcaino, and Kevin Frandsen): .203/.315/.250 (565 OPS)
  • The line for the pitchers: .190/.190/.224 (414 OPS)
  • The line for the catchers (Mike Matheny and Todd Greene): .239/.304/.348 (652 OPS)

The winner is...kinda...the catcher position, although without Greene's hot contribution Matheny's numbers would be 3rd to last. No big shockers there, I suppose, but I think we can all admit the catchers, 3rd base, and 2nd base offensive stats are much closer to the pitchers' than we'd like.

Looking at it another way, the Giants have given about 30.5% of their plate appearances to hitters who have the following line: .203/.278/.282 (Matheny, Feliz, Durham, and Vizcaino). About a third of the team's at-bats given to that...and I didn't include the pitcher's, mind you. How would this lineup look to you?

Omar Vizquel, SS

Solid Defensive .203 Hitter, 2B

Randy Winn, CF

Barry Bonds, LF

Moises Alou, RF

Sold Defensive .203 Hitter, 3B

Sweeney/Niekro, 1B

Solid Defensive .203 Hitter, C

Pitcher's Spot

If I went on to tell you that those three Solid Defensive .203 Hitters also hit a chunk more ground balls than fly balls, and doesn't that look like a rally-killer of a lineup?

Well, enough soapbox -- I doubt there is much the Giants can do about the situation, what with two of the culprits in Durham and Feliz and virtually untradeable at this point, Vizcaino just filling in, and Matheny not about to lose any playing time no matter how poorly he hits.

Well, Jon Miller has described the weather for today's game as, "Absolutely perfect in every way", so I 'spose I ought to get to watching.

Go Giants!

Monday, May 01, 2006

No, not exactly, but yeah, kinda...

Paraphrasing a Richard Pryor bit:

You ever hear one name in boxing you can say, and it'd fuck everybody up?
"Well, what if he'd fought Sugar Ray Robinson?"
"Aw shit! Don't fuck with the SUGAR! I ain't lyin', Sugar fight so good, it'll make your dick hard."
I mean, I won't go so far as to say Omar Vizquel does that, but boy, he sure does come as close as possible while playing shortstop. Another day, another spectacular play, this one coming from a total standstill, leaping up to snag a snowcone from about seven feet off the ground -- courtesy of Rob Bowen, who's probably mad, but not too mad. One of those tip-your-cap plays, like Kruk says.

So, that play, plus making the other outs of the inning, and then? Well, of course, Vizquel simply comes up the next inning and lines a single into centerfield to plate the Giants first run. It's just a bit unfair for a guy to produce as many defensive highlights as Vizquel does on a daily basis, then have a month of April where he runs about a .945 OPS.

I feel a bit bad for Bowen, though -- after getting robbed by Vizquel, his next defensive inning has seen him drop a catchable ball behind the plate, then has a passed ball that allowed Randy Winn to score (although it ended up being ruled a wild pitch).

And the Giants are just becoming magnets for beanball wars. After Steve Finley gets buzzed and Barry Bonds gets hit on the hand, Jamey Wright comes out the next inning and wastes no time in drilling the first batter he faces on the second pitch. Wright has pitched very well this year although I didn't expect it, but regardless, I respect him for coming right out and protecting his teammates.

As an aside, is it just me, or has Wright picked up an extra two mph from someplace? I haven't seen him this consistently between 92-94 before...

It's pretty obvious that the Giants pitchers have sent an early message to the league: hit one of ours, we're going to hit one of yours. Unfortunately, Wright followed the beanball with a walk, so this one could end up hurting a bit.

UPDATE: Well, shucky darn. Bases loaded, one out, and one run in thus far this inning. Two walks after the beanball plus a single...he had Khalil Greene down 1-2 in the count and lost him, which has set the Padres up nicely for the big inning.

UPDATE: Egads, this got ugly in a hurry. Wright just lost the plate for a bit, and when he found it again the Padres were waiting for him (I think they were whistling while they were waiting, too). Lots of loud contact ending up in six more runs scoring. It's a shame that the beanball started all this off, but the fact remains that Wright walked the next two batters, then could only get in the zone again after he took something off. I'd have felt bad for him if he had allowed a run or two in the inning, but seven?

Dude, that's ya own damn fault.