Monday, October 29, 2007

The Glory Days

I was perusing the 2003 Giants Media Guide--Felipe, superimposed over the Park, is on the cover, with inset photos of Bonds and Robb Nen and the "2002 NL Champions" logo. I found my way to page 378 which lists the 2002 June Draft Selections. There are 50 total, of that 24 had been signed. Here are the first four, in order:

Round 1, pick 25, MATT CAIN (17 yrs. old)
Round 2, pick 66, FRED LEWIS (21 yrs. old)
Round 3, pick 97, DANIEL ORTMEIER (21 yrs. old)
Round 4, pick 127, KEVIN CORREIA (21 yrs. old)

(2001's #1 pick was Brad Hennessey)

The only other name of note on the list from '02 was #8, the 247th pick, Clay Hensley, who went to San Diego for Matt Herges in July of 2003. Then 18-year old Travis Ishikawa was the 637th pick (#21) overall. The other 44 names are nobodies.

So, in June of 2008, six years later, who will be making the biggest impact on the San Francisco Giants? The Hurra-Cain is a shoo-in, but what about the other three? Talk amongst yourselves . . .

Saturday, October 27, 2007

More kudos for M.C.

The Hurra-Cain gets more notice:

Cain recognized: Right-hander Matt Cain was ranked eighth on famed baseball analyst Bill James' list of the game's top 25 players under the age of 29. The feature appears in The Bill James Handbook 2008, which will be published next month.
"His 7-16 record disguises one of the league's best pitchers," James wrote of Cain, 23. "He had the same number of quality starts last year as Brandon Webb, but whereas Webb was 17-2 with three no-decisions in those games, Cain was 6-8 with eight no-decisions."

This was the last item in the Chris Haft article about Eugenio Velez ("Velez on the run in Arizona Fall League") from the Giants webpage. Of course, we knew this already. Bill James is the well-known stat guru. Here's another link to his work. (We'll have to talk about Eugenio Velez pretty soon, eh?)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Crox or BoTox?

OK, readers (er, RMC has readers, eh?), time to chime in on the World Serious. Crox? BoTox? Don't care? The BoTox were pre-season favorites, they have been the best team all year, they just scored 30 runs (while yielding 5) in the last three games of the ALCS, they are hotter than Alabama asphalt on sunny day. The Crox have The Streak, The Team of Destiny, the Humidor Hoo-doo goin' on, and they SWEPT their opponents in the playoffs. Too bad the Crox are a non-story. I mean, winning 20 of 21 is something special, but you have to be baseball junky to care. No one outside the shadow of the Rocky Mountains gives a shit about that team. The TV folks were sacrificing virgins to get the Mets into the Series, or at least the Phillies, some team with a goddamn market. You'd probably get more folks watching the Dodgers minor-league team from Vero Beach than the Crox. Then there is the elephant in the room, the damn Red Sox and their goddamn Nation. The team is absolutely loaded. They have youth, veterans, fielding, power, speed, starting pitching, bullpen, everything. This Series is theirs to lose. I'll be surprised if they don't crush the Rockies. My family is from Boston--I've got the Sox in my blood. But I've had my fill of the goddamn Nation. Congratulations on a great season, and congrats in advance for winning the Series. Now bugger off ya damn wankers.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Tao of '08

Handle a large kingdom with as gentle a touch as if
you were cooking a small fish.
If you manage people by letting them alone,
Ghosts of the dead shall not haunt you.

--Lao Tzu (trans. Witter Bynner)

I'm convinced that the best thing the Giants can do is nothing. No free agent signings*. No trades. The Giants have a large arsenal of young arms. Some of them will be effective (or better) major leaguers. Let's find out who they are, and what role they will shine in. The team has several OF prospects. Let's give them a chance to play. I've already blogged about Dan Ortmeier and Kevin Frandsen--I think they are our 2008 1B and 2B. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but there it is. We might lose 120 games. Fine. If we have a FUTURE and are RE-BUILDING I can live with losing. Normally, I would encourage the team's leadership to spend the "currency" of young arms on young hitters. But I am haunted by the ghosts of failed trades and idiotic signings. I do not trust Brian Sabean to make good judgments. I do not trust our scouting department to make good evaluations of other teams' talent. I do not trust the ownership group to make sound financial decisions. Sometimes you have to hold your cards and bluff. This is that time.

*Omar. OK, I can live with Omar.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ort! Ort! Ort!

Daniel David Ortmeier is kicking some serious hiney in the Arizona Fall League, and the Chris Haft article on the SF Giants website makes the obvious comparison to Kevin Frandsen, Giants AFL Golden Boy last year. KF really struggled this season, looking like a blind man at a piƱata convention, but he seemed to really get it together in September and finished well. A mini-story surfaced claiming that a chat with Barry Bonds helped him. Well, duh. Too bad a Bonds story like that has no "legs," we sure wouldn't want anyone to think he was a good teammate. If anyone ever played with Bonds and FAILED to ask him hitting advice he should be sent back to the minors, DFA'd, or traded. Hell, I'D ask Bonds' advice and I play slo-pitch! Regardless, DO is trying to be our 1B next year. I say RIGHT ON! Go for it, Dan, the job is yours to lose. And I expect to see your fellow AFL star starting at 2B right next to you. These guys have done everything the organization has asked them to do--time to find out what they have. I'd rather lose 120 games with these guys in the lineup everyday than pay some over-the-hill veteran hack to hit .250. The best thing Brian Sabean can do this off-season is NOTHING.

Monday, October 15, 2007

God Bless You, Mr. Sabean

Yorvit Torrealba was a Giant. Now he is a Rockie. He was a big hero yesterday with a 3-run bomb off (former Giant) Livan Hernandez. Way to go, Yorvit. As much as I hate rooting for the Crox, the Dirt-Bax are even harder to root for. Wait--that Bob Melvin fellow, he was a Giant, eh? (And a Golden Bear!) Gee, he could have been OUR manager instead of the clown we got stuck with when the Puds upgraded to Bud Black (he was a Giant, too).

Brian Sabean sneezes and the NL West passes us by.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


There's a fellow over at Baseball Think Factory named Dan Szymborski who has a stat-geek player projection system called ZiPS. There are lots of these floating around, and RMC will get to them in due course. I took a look at his projections for Matt Cain and Barry Zito for 2007 (you can see the entire '07 team here).


xMatt Cain 4.01 13 10 33 32 193.0 167 86 24 87 174
Barry Zito 4.01 14 11 34 34 216.0 196 96 25 96 165

Now here is the reality of 2007:

xMatt Cain 3.65 07 16 32 32 200.0 173 81 14 79 163
Barry Zito 4.53 11 13 34 33 196.2 182 99 24 83 131

Stat projections are just that--projections. But there is nothing else to do in October except root for the Yankees to lose (YES!!) and watch other teams celebrate. Why I bring this up, O My Brothers, is the stark ugliness of the 2008 projections. You can peruse them here. Note: we are referred to as "Cellar Dwellers." There is some confusing stuff in among the numbers (all these systems use, to some degree, a theoretical "average" player to compare an individual against), but you'll get the gist.

Here's our boys again, "projected" for next season:

xMatt Cain 3.63 14 10 34 33 206.0 186 83 18 76 173
Barry Zito 3.99 13 12 34 34 210.0 193 93 22 90 159

I'm skipping the batting stuff, it is just too bleak. I'd be happy if Zito has an ERA below 4.00 and pitches over 200 innings. I'd like to see Cain push it a little past these projections, getting his ERA below 3.50 and reaching 220 innings. That being said, he pitched damn well this year, and he will likely pitch damn well next year. (Just cut down the walks and pitch counts, me bucko!) Here's the look at Tim "Link" Lincecum (not in the 2007 database):

Player Spotlight - Tim Lincecum

Stud 2.58 14 4 34 34 206 156 59 11 72 230
Mean 3.28 10 5 29 29 173 146 63 13 67 173
Wuss 4.17 06 6 24 24 138 130 64 13 65 126

Top Near-Age Comps: Jim Maloney, Kerry Wood

The projection assumes a 70% chance of being "mean" and an equal 15% chance each of "badass" or "stinko." (That corresponds roughly to a "normal" distribution.) I like the comparison to Jim Maloney, but obviously not to Kerry "Where Have All the Strikeouts Gone" Wood. I've been using Wood to keep me from hyperventilating over Link--you just never know. (BTW, Mr. Szymborski calls Our Boy Matt the rather predictable "Citizen" Cain.) No matter what else happens in 2008 (please, Brian Sabean, please don't sign any old boring guys or make any trades with our young arsenal of arms), even if we stay in last place from April to September, we get to watch Matt "Sugar" Cain and Tim "Second Coming" Lincecum every week. Throw in a rejuventated Barry "Beezy" Zito and we might have some fun now and then.

I had some problems formatting the text so forgive the X by Sugar Cain and other oddities like being unable to put headers (W, L . . .) over the numbers, leading zeros, etc.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Au revoir Joe Lefebvre

The blog-o-sphere is alive and kicking this a.m. about the role of a hitting coach at the ML level and the 'impact' of losing one and getting a new one. For the record, Lefebvre will still be in the organization. So will Willie Upshaw, who was supposedly our 'second' hitting coach. Next year we will see a new butt-slapping whisperer along the 1B line. Gee, I wonder who it will be? I vote for a strapping, manly-looking fellow who can intimidate umpires into making close calls go our way. I expect to see a lot of our team speed in action next year, weak-hitting guys straining like galley slaves to eke out dribblers. A good 1B coach could add 10 points to a batting average just by threatening to emasculate the man in blue if he calls our boy out. Seriously, what in God's name does replacing a 1B coach have to do with WINNING? (Now a 3B coach, on the other hand, can LOSE games for you. Tim-I-never-met-an-OF-with-a-good-throwing-arm-Flannery had his share of "git-along, little doggies" windmills that turned in to easy outs at home this year. With our new team speed, I expect that to continue!) So, who replaces Morgan (er, Joe) LaFey? Someone who actually TEACHES young players. Gives them the benefit of their experience. Scouts pitchers for them. Helps them relax and focus. Encourages good habits. Mike Sciosia (my favorite manager despite being a Smogger Scum) says "you have to encapsulate the game." In other words, do the task at hand, don't try to see the whole game and all that has to be done. If it is 1-2 with a guy on 2nd, shorten your swing and try to go the other way. Stuff like that. A good coach can help young players with their mental approach. Does such a guy exist? We'll see. Now if we can just get rid of Righetti, we might be able to build a bullpen with the plethora of young arms we have.

Monday, October 8, 2007

LCS set

Yes, this is a GIANTS blog, but I can't avoid remarks on the playoffs. The wildly improbable Colorado-Arizona NL West match-up is a head-scratcher's nightmare. Who knew? Who figured? Boston overwhelmed LA-Anaheim, out-manning them in every phase of the game. But the real news is the Cleveland Indians have eliminated the New York Yankees. Who can't enjoy that? I come from a Red Sox family (my Mom and Dad were born and raised in Boston, Mom saw Ted Williams play), but I'm rooting for the Indians. Cosmically, their World Series Futility Streak is linked to the Giants. In 1954, the Indians were defeated by Willie Mays' New York Giants despite having the all-time best record in baseball. Cleveland had been champs in 1948, and after such a great season most pundits figured them to beat the Giants. But they got swept, four games to none. So if Cleveland breaks the curse of 1954, maybe the San Francisco Giants can as well! (Hey, throw me a bone here, eh?) The Indians had two close calls, with the Manny Ramirez-Kenny Lofton-Omar Vizquel teams in 1995 and 1997. Giants fans don't have to be reminded of our club's championship drought. One of these days it will be OUR TURN.
Go Indians!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Bringin' some cheese . . .

Hardball Times had a nice look at our boy this spring. If you haven't seen it, check it out here. Otherwise, go to HT and search for "cheese." Carlos Gomez evaluates pitchers with a lot of video frame-by-frame stuff and very wonky technical discussions. Some of his columns are called "Bringin' Some Serious Cheese." Warning: serious time sink.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Down on the Farm

Lisa Winston of has an article on the Giants farm system that says all sorts of bright, sunny things. Check it out here. I'm intrigued by John Bowker who is with the Connecticut club (The Defenders, Eastern League, AA).

Check out the look at the Devil Rays prospects. Some trade material here?

Time to start looking for youngsters for us to go out and get!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


I'm posting another's words today (source):

The Mets didn’t lose the NL East because of a failure of character. They didn’t lose because they were somehow less virtuous than the Phillies. They didn’t lose because of some grand plan of an incomprehensible God. They lost because they just didn’t play good baseball down the stretch, and they got beat. Tom Glavine’s got some postseason experience (if it matters — I don’t know if it does), and has proved his worth in the game a thousand times over. No matter how big the strike zone was for him during his career, he’s a deserving Hall Of Famer. And today, he just got pounded. Not because of some mystical rubbish that allows those of us with access to a keyboard or microphone to pass judgment on players like some sort of meddlesome scold, but because he just got beat up.

This is from a fellow named Gary Huckabay and was posted on Baseball Prospectus on 30 September. Check it out here. BP is a subscriber thing, but there is lots of good stuff available for free. I believe Mr. Huckabay is a founder or senior writer or somesuch. I liked this piece, it was titled WOW. The final weekend of NL baseball was certainly high on the WOW factor, with the Phillies pulling off their comeback and the Padres failing to clinch, giving the Rockies a chance. After last night's dramatic, improbable win in Denver, the Rox go through and the Pads go home. Game 163 could have gone either way, I had no real preference, but had to think the Mile High Crew had a bit of home field advantage (and I was happy to see ex-Giant Yorvit Torrealba get a big HR). Regardless, it was great baseball. The fact that my SFG's finished in LAST PLACE is even more painful when I watch a thrilling contest like that one. But the real point is this: anything can happen. Teams win, teams lose. No one can say WHY one team plays well and gets the breaks at the right time, and another doesn't. It just happens. Random chance is a cruel arbiter of our fates, and we refuse to believe that Lady Luck is the biggest player in these games. But She is. The Pads threw their best out there, Peavy and Hoffman, and lost. Go figure. I mean, if you're Bud Black, wouldn't you figure those two would give you the best chance of winning? Sure you would. But hey--it didn't work out. And that's what makes baseball so great.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Barry Zito, 6-and-3 man

33 starts at 6 IP/start is 198 IP, 33 starts at 3 ER/start is 99 ER. Our Billion Dollar Boy, Barry Zito, managed 196-2/3. With an actual total of 99 ER this season, his ERA is 4.53. That makes him officially a 6-and-3 man. 6 IP and 3 ER per start. A quick calculation (6/3 = 9/x) gives us a 4.50 expected ERA for a 6-and-3 man. Lifetime, with 255 starts, 1627 IP, and 663 ER, he comes out a 6-1/3 man (6.38 IP/start) with 2.6 ER/start (3.67 ERA). Suffice to say he had a shitty year by his standards. I want a 7-and-3 man! I do, really. It makes it a lot easier on your bullpen if you only need a set-up man and a closer. Sure, the 8th could involve a lefty-righty thing, so you might need 3 guys to finish it out, but I'm not quibbling. I don't expect Mr. 6-1/3 to suddenly change to Mr. 7 IP, but it would be nice if Mr. 6-and-3 could try to be Mr. 6-and-2. Throw a few more 6-and-2's in the mix, with an occasional 7 or 8 with only 2 or 3 (like yesterday), and you have a guy who wins more than he loses. Even on our team. Barry Zito's lifetime win percentage is .598--in 33 starts he should get 19 wins! OK, OK, I'll throw in 9 NDs, and get 14 wins with that pct. Whaddya say, big fella, can ya get us 14 next year?