Monday, July 31, 2006
And today is the trading deadline.
But man, it's a good thing Brian Sabean got Shea Hillenbrand and Mike Stanton, because otherwise things would be worse.
Oh, wait a minute...getting swept by two of the worst teams in the NL is about as bad as it gets, isn't it?
And wonder of wonders, Armando Benitez figures prominently in the loss last night to the Pirates.
...if anyone needs me, I'll be kicking small, cute animals and taking lollipops from small children in an attempt to balance the scales.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
There may have been a few of you who came by here after the Giants won their 4th and 5th games in a row recently, looking to see if I had anything to say about the team. After all, in winning the third game of the series against the Padres the Giants had not only won that series and catapulted themselves into 1st place in the NL West, but the five wins in a row qualified as their best winning streak all year, the first time they had won more than three in a row at any point this season.
Yes, well, I had a few things to say, and most of them complimentary, too, only I have been working some extra hours lately, have been messing with my new Dell computer, and had a wedding to help with and attend.
And, to be quite honest, I wasn't convinced the team had turned some magic corner.
A sweep against the Padres might have done it, but even after Armando Benitez added his unmistakable nine-million-dollars-per-year touch to that series and put the kibosh on the sweep, I still would've been counted amongst the believers with a series win against the Nationals.
I believe, alright -- in the power of gravity, and in the fact that the Giants are the moon, and .500 is the Earth.
Benitez, of course, was front and center again this time, ending all hope of winning this series with another blown save. Now, if you saw the game, you could be one of those who want to throw Ray Durham in the fire along with Benitez, as Durham wasn't able to make a play on a grounder that could possibly have resulted in an inning-ending double play. That's fine, but the leadoff walk and single given up by Benitez had just a bit more to do with it...plus, Durham's been carrying the team offensively lately.
Benitez? He's just been offensive. I'm so tired of him, even if he looked like this I wouldn't want to see him on the mound.
(That's a bald-faced lie. If Armando Benitez really looked like Elsa Benitez...nevermind. That'd just be freaky, come to think of it.)
I admire the Giants in their quest to get their money's worth out of Benitez, but enough is enough. A 1.65 WHIP is enough. A 68% save conversion rate is enough (and we all know it could've been worse). His pedestrian 1.31 k/bb ratio is enough. His lowest-in-his-career 6.92 k/9 rate is enough. His highest-in-career .816 OPS against is enough.
Enough. This isn't the pitcher you signed, and he's pitching the worst he's ever had in his career since 1995 -- that is, unless you compare his first injury-filled season with the Giants in 2005, that is, which was almost as bad.
Enough. He's bringing down the team, and no spin you can put on it makes it better for his teammates or the fans of the franchise. His velocity and break on his pitches is back...so what? He stinks. Whether he'll continue to stink like this the rest of his career is up for debate, but the Giants cannot afford to find that out. Since they've shipped off Jeremy Accardo for Shea Hillenbland, they've got two options for closer: Kevin Correia and Jonathan Sanchez. Personally, Correia gets my vote because he seems to have much better control this year than in previous seasons.
In any case, although I haven't a clue as to what they could do with Benitez, if they are serious about trying to keep this team in the race, it's time for some good ol' addition-by-subtraction. He's fleeced you and the team, Brian Sabean, and now it's time to cut bait. I think we all want off of the roller coaster.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
However, I can't help but think it's a bit disconcerting that the Giants have run up a 3-3 record after the Break so far, with the deficit in the losses being: eight, four, and nine. The margin of victory has been: two, one, and one. The scoring in the Phillies series was 23-12, in case you were wondering.
I'm thinking if that trend continues, the Giants won't be a contender in the NL West for long, even if all the other teams are still doing the Mediocrity Dance.
Now we come to another one of those important stretches. Twenty-three of the team's next thirty-two games are against divisional opponents, with the nine games that aren't being against the Pirates and the Nationals, two of the worse teams in the National League.
Any takers on the Giants record in those 32 games? I'm going to go out on a limb and say they'll compile a 16-16 record.
In what probably is the weirdest thing is that even with the Giants as ho-hum as they are, they aren't only in the divisional race, but they're second in the wild card race, too, behind the Cincinatti Reds and their .526 winning percentage (Giants are two games back).
Sidnote: This should be my last entry on my old computer, what with UPS's attempted delivery of my new one yesterday. I'm expecting them to try again today, and I'll be ready and waiting for them. I think the odds are about 2 to 1 that regardless of how easy the setup is, I'll have trouble getting it started.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
But, as usual, the NL West can't get away from itself -- the Diamondbacks are the only NL West team that won yesterday. The AL West and NL West just ought to randomly re-arrange the teams within the division, just for kicks...except that I bet that whatever the new arrangement would be, the teams still wouldn't be able to get too far away from .500.
An interesting discussion is over on Grant's site, where several people are chiming in on whether the Giants should take Craig Wilson or Sean Casey, both of whom have come up in the rumour mills as players Brian Sabean could be pursuing.
I don't necessarily think that Wilson is a better overall player than Casey, but I do not doubt that given their current salaries and the Giants specific needs, Wilson would be the better selection.
Casey is the better hitter in terms of accumulating hits. If my team only needs a single, well, he's darn good at that. However, the Giants have quite a few guys that are quite capable of hitting a single. It's not as if Casey has zero power, but being a left-handed line-drive hitter going against the wall in right field definitely won't improve his power numbers, not to mention that Casey doesn't really have the speed to take advantage of balls hit to Triples Alley.
So, Casey, I think, would end up as a J.T. Snow with a higher batting average and somewhat less defensive abilities. Is that what the Giants want? Is that what they want for 8.5 million dollars, which is what Casey is making this year?
Wilson hits right-handed, so his power stroke shouldn't suffer much here, if at all, and his large advantage in power is the biggest reason why I prefer him to Casey. Wilson isn't quite a slugger, but he's close enough. Wilson also makes only 3.3 million, which is 5.2 less than what Casey makes, and could be an easier, cheaper acquisition for Sabes. Wilson also can play outfield, 1st base, and even catch if need be.
And, if we keep half of one eye on the future, Wilson is a younger player and should the Giants be interested in retaining his services past this year, he would have a few good years left in him.
Call me ye of little faith, but I'm making the assumption that Sabean won't have some better deal in the works for Miguel Cabrera or Justin Morneau, and that other, premium-hitting 1st basemen would cost the Giants more than they have to give (like Nick Johnson) -- even if they were available.
So, get Wilson, and bat him in front of Barry whenever possible to see if there's still some of that hitting-in-front-of-or-behind-Bonds-will-net-you-many-more-hittable-fastballs magic left.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Acquiring Huff would've put Mark Sweeney in a bit of a twilight zone, as there'd be no real reason to have Sweeney on the team -- Huff plays all of the positions Sweeney plays, bats lefty, and is a better hitter overall. That is, unless the team DFA'd Jason Ellison, and used Sweeney as a 5th corner outfielder...they do have both Steve Finley and Randy Winn to play center, after all. But still, a left-handed bat at 1st base isn't really what the Giants need, unless it's a really, really good one.
So, what I'm saying is, although something might have been worked out, I wasn't really miffed that the Giants didn't get Huff.
That is, I wasn't until Huff runs out and hits an important, game-breaking home run in his first game with his new club, the Houston Astros.
I shouldn't really be mad -- there are other opportunities out there for Brain Sabean, although those don't seem to be many (psst...still Craig Wilson). The Giants still have time, after all -- they were in a worse position last year and still made a race of it at the end. And after all, this was just one game.
Then I thought about it for a sec. The Astros are one of the few teams in the NL with an offense just as bad as the Giants, and their situation in their division is undoubtedly a worse one than the Giants', what with two teams in the Cincinatti Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals that are not only further ahead in the division, but definitely look like better teams (the Cardinals' strange recent losing streak notwithstanding).
But, well, the Astros are doing something about their offensive problems, and they're doing it now. They aren't waiting for their fortunes to change, they weren't going to wait and see if Jason Lane regained his 2005 form, to see if Preston Wilson could match his numbers in Colorado (heh, don't hold your breath, Houston), etc., etc.
They went out and got somebody who will help. Huff likely isn't the answer for the Astros, either, as Houston's biggest problems occur outside of the friendly confines of the Juice -- their offense suddenly turns into a much improved version of Jose Vizcaino on the road, which incidentally, still sucks (.761 OPS at home, .694 OPS on the road). Huff isn't the kind of player that will change that all by his lonesome little self.
But can he add a win, maybe even two over what Lane was producing so far this year? Yep. Can the Giants us someone who will add a win or three over what Mark Sweeney and Lance Niekro would produce?
Like I said, Houston didn't exactly solve their problems with Huff, but at least they're moving in the right direction. Better.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
It's Orange & Black Baseball, not Orange & Black Speculation & Gossip.
Besides, plenty of other folks are going to talk about it, and most of them are either better writers or smarter than I, so I am quite comfortable letting others say all that there is to be said.
Monday, July 10, 2006
...that it isn't this piece of crap I've had for six years.
I've been fighting with this thing for the past couple of weeks. It seems to have this preternatural sense that a new computer was in the works and is doing its darndest to go down in flames. Battling with the thing to simply boot up correctly has been a big part of why my number of entries in a week has dropped off recently.
Oh, and I'm also da laziest basstad whut eva did write his own blog-ting dere.
I'm planning...hoping...to take an hour or two and put something nice together to break down the 1st half for the Giants, but I want to make sure I'm putting out some new information along with some of the stuff I've been finding throughout the 1st half. The day that would happen would be Wednesday.
Meantime, might I suggest some reading? Lefty always has an interesting thing or three to say, and he muses on the Giants 2nd half chances here. John Perricone, in a fit of...something a bit unexpected from him, thinks the Giants didn't do too badly in the 1st half over here.
Grant talks a bit about the rumours that Jason Schmidt could be on the trading block here, and Big D does some All-Star reflecting down yonder.
I'm making the mistake of actually listening to the ESPN guys talk about All-Star game strategy, and why one team has an advantage over the other.
Listen, fellas, it's the All-Star game. There's really good players on both sides, and both the NL and the AL are capable of crushing the other team provided they have a good day. They seem to think the AL has a big advantage.
Yes, guys, I wholeheartedly ag....I totally ag...
Thursday, July 06, 2006
The Royals no longer have the worst record in baseball. That particular distinction now belongs to the Pittsburgh Pirates -- at least, for however long it takes for the Royals to go on a losing streak at the same time the Pirates play a little .500 ball.
Whatever. This is, without bullshit, the happiest I've been looking at the standings all year. No joke. I've avoided talking about Kansas City for fear that I might instinctively open my veins at how horrible there were...and still are.
But the fact is that they've played some decent baseball lately, powered mostly by a winning record in interleague (what does that say about the National League?), and some smattering of wins before and after interleague. They're offense now actually exists, albeit on the scale of amoeba and other single-cell organisms.
And I've got to give some props to three players on the team: David DeJesus, who has simply sizzled since coming off the DL in late May, John Buck, who isn't on fire or anything, but is...productive, and fueling a lot of hopes that he might actually be as good as they were hoping he'd be when they got him in the Carlos Beltran trade, and Mark Teahen, who was demoted to triple A Omaha with the following line: .195/.241/.351, and since being brought back up has done some raking and is now at: .263/.316/.431 -- oh, and he also came over in the Beltran trade.
Oh, there's still plenty to work on -- Teahen and Buck still have pretty horrible k/bb ratios, and DeJesus is still managing to be fast yet seemingly have no real base-stealing ability, but with the career paths that Teahen and Buck were on last year it's simply wonderful to see them being productive enough to be major leaguers. And DeJesus is a stud whether or not he steal bases.
I just wish that they had taken DeJesus for the Royals' All-Star instead of Mark Redman -- at least David has All-Star numbers, even if he's only played in about half the team's games this year. Heck, they could've taken Jimmy Gobble or Elmer Dessens out of the bullpen before they took Redman, but...
...of course the move to make was to somehow find a way to make the Royals a bigger laughing stock than they already were, so they took Redman. Genius.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
See, I don't normally do too much talk radio. I usually find that whomever the host of whatever show is on misses a lot of points on whatever team he's covering, and over-emphasizes many other points for the sake of all that time the poor guy's got to fill with talk. Also, I think at least 2/3rds of the people that call into the shows to make a comment aren't worth my time to listen to -- a few "Yeah, man, they gotta do better 'n stuff"s and a couple "see, they never shoulda traded whozizface back in 2002"s, I become impatient.
So, after listening to host Damon Bruce for a bit, he had a caller that was venting about wanting a six or eight-game winning streak, or something.
Ding! Light, chimes...several small, annoying (yet attention-grabbing) devices went off in my brain, letting me know this was a chance to inform, what with my obsession...yes, I admit it...with wanting the Giants to have a single four-game winning streak this year, which they have yet to do.
So, I called, got an answer immediately by the staff, told them want I wanted to say, and waited about 10 minutes (I ended up catching one of those incredibly long commercial breaks). After the wait, I got on and talked with Bruce for about two or three minutes about the lack of even a four-game winning streak (which, of course, astonished him), the lack of offense, and the lack of options Brian Sabean had to fix the lack of offense. We chatted a bit about the NL West in general, too, and by the time we were done, he told me I was informative, but sounded depressed.
And he offered me tickets. And I graciously accepted the tickets. (and you will never hear a bad word out of my mouth about Damon Bruce)
So, courtesy of KNBR, I (along with Pops) am going to the July 17th game, where the Giants will be hosting the Brewers, and probably scoring something less than five runs in eight or nine innings of play.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
In a random check to see where people were coming from before coming to this site, I've found out that if one happens to be on Google Korea for some strange reason (being Korean and needing to find something on the Internet pops up as a decent reason), and happens to type in "baseball disaster" into the search box...
...this blog comes up first. Over the official MLB website, over a NY Times reference, over MSNBC, over...
Should I celebrate, or kill myself? Perhaps I should celebrate by killing myself?
One odd thought comes to mind...would I, personally be considered the baseball disaster, or the team this blog is based upon?
Yes, feel the symmetry. Feel it. Live it. Be it.
And speaking of symmetry, the stars seem to be aligning for Ray Durham, who has had a hot power bat lately -- slugging .643 in his last seven games, and hitting some very important, multiple-run shots in the mix. The only thing missing from this being one of Sugarman's most productive season is some points on his batting average, and as long as you believe Ray-Ray's historical averages will find a way to right themselves, it's easy to see he's about 20-40 points below what his batting average usually sits at.
And whether or not you believe his scorching-hot hitting will continue against left-handed pitching or not (.364/.444/673, but only 55 at-bats), his hitting against righties is starting to come around a bit -- .685 OPS currently.
And I must mention Pedro Feliz as well, who is on pace for career highs in plate appearances and home runs. The Giants just won't take the guy out of the lineup, so unless injury or an extended slump happens, I don't see why those things wouldn't come to pass. I've backed off my normal trade-Pedro rhetoric for a while now, because: 1) it ain't gonna happen unless there's just an incredibly sweet trade offer for him...and I don't know what would constitute an incredibly sweet trade offer for Brian Sabean (hint, Sabes -- it would involve Miguel Cabrera), and 2) for the salary, he's a productive player when you add his defense into the mix (which, coincidentally, has faltered just a bit lately).
No, Feliz isn't Scott Rolen, and he still isn't quite as productive as I'd want my 3rd baseman, but the fact is that he's earning his salary (unlike quite a few Giants) and he can be counted on to smack around a bunch of cripple breaking balls and 0-2 fastballs (I've seen him hit two home runs on fastballs thrown around the plate in 0-2 counts, including one last night, and I've yet to figure out what on God's Green Earth would make a battery throw Feliz a fastball in an 0-2 count).
And, finally, we come to two pitchers passing each other in the night -- Matt Morris and Jamey Wright. Morris had a month of June where he had better than a 3:1 k/bb ratio and a 2.19 ERA, allowing less than a hit per inning pitched (1.19 WHIP) compiling a 3-1 record in the process.
Wright had a month of June where his k/bb ratio was almost 1:1, carried a 5.79 ERA, and had a WHIP of 1.58 in compiling an 0-3 record.
Now, there isn't really a problem with Wright at this moment, to me -- I just see this as being the pitcher that he is, which isn't a very good one. He's only making 500k, so to expect anything more than this over the long haul isn't very realistic. He's a fifth starter in ability, and he's pitching like a fifth starter.
The question becomes, if this continues, when do you make a change? The obvious change would be to turn back to Brad Hennessey, who has pitched well this year...but is also fifth starter material. Both Wright and Hennessey have had quality starts in exactly half their opportunities this year (3 of 6 starts for Hennessey and 8 of 16 starts for Wright), but the main difference from there is that Hennessey has avoided the disastrous start and has pitched well out of relief to pad those numbers.
I don't think a change needs to be made at this moment, but they ought to watch Wright closely going into and coming out of the All-Star break. Another two or three poor starts might do it.
Tonight, let there be fireworks not only from pyrotechnics, but from the bats of the Giants offense!
...aw, heck, I'll just settle for the win and the four-game winning streak.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
The Giants reeled off a sweep of the Rangers after I wrote that piece on the 27th setting themselves up for the four-gamer, but ran into a brick wall named Father Alou.
Felipe doesn't seem to mind doing unorthodox things with his position players, whether it be starting Jose Vizcain'to at first base, or starting Mark Sweeney in left field several times over Jason Ellison. He's hit many of his players three or four different places in the lineup, not always paying attention to whether a hitter was hot or not.
That's fine. I can deal with that.
But for some strange reason, he refuses to alter his set roles for anyone in the bullpen. When he makes up his mind on a role for a bullpen pitcher, that's what they're going to do.
It's possible this type of thinking has already cost the Giants a few wins this year, including last night's 6-5 loss to the Padres.
A couple of Felipe's patterns is obvious -- he overuses pitchers that he trusts, and doesn't mind warming up relievers multiple times to be ready for various scenarios. The only problems are, sometimes those trusted guys become too tired to be effective, and those over-warmed pitchers end up being more taxed than they should be.
Case in point from last night:
- Kevin Correia warmed up three seperate times. Once, to possibly relieve a faltering Jamey Wright. They left Wright in, and had to warm Correia up a second time to possibly relieve a faltering Wright -- but then decided to put in Jonathen Sanchez instead. Third time was the charm, as Correia finally came in after warming up again in the 8th to relieve a faltering Sanchez.
- Correia faced one batter. He struck him out to end the 8th.
- Felipe, meanwhile, was having Jeremy Accardo warming up around the end of the 8th and inbetween innings to close out the 9th inning of the then one-run game. Only problem was, this was to be Accardo's 7th appearance in nine days.
Now, I'm not a major league manager, but with a double header being played against the Padres the very next day, why put yourself into a position where you heavily tax three relievers? And make no mistake, Correia's one batter appearance was much more than that with all of the warmups.
My move would've been to leave Correia in the game to close the 9th in order to save Accardo for the next day's two games. But no, Felipe apparently was doing the Accardo-is-the-closer-and-it-is-a-save-situation-therefore-in-comes-Accardo dance, and in came Accardo, and out went the victory.
Could the Padres have won anyway even if Correia had stayed in? Well, of course they could've, but give me a choice between a loss with three tired relievers as opposed to a loss with two tired relievers, and I'll take the latter...unless I'm 72 years old and set in my ways.
So, out goes the four-game winning streak, and now a losing streak is set up to be extremely possible if the games today and Sunday just happen to be close...and with the Giants, close games are a given, it seems.