Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How To Win a Starting Job

Ishikawa 3 2 3 4




Spring!

I love the Giants and I love baseball and I love that the season is almost upon us. I'm stoked about our first Spring Training game.

BUT (you knew there was a "but," didn't you?), I cannot get excited about a few things. You know how I feel about Bengie Molina in the cleanup spot. Dave Roberts should be DFA'd or traded for Rajai Davis. Randy Winn is a fine fellow and a fine ballplayer but he is in the last year of his contract IS NOT part of the club's future. Aaron Rowand is a joke. Sure, he'll likely play well this year, and he is probably our best hitter (Fred, prove me wrong!). But I can't get excited. I can't. I won't. (FOUR MORE YEARS?!?!? Egad.) Barry Zito is a cosmic joke. The Giants are the laughingstock of baseball for that deal. He'll be lucky to be the last man out of the bullpen in two years. If Sanchez is a stud, Zito's stock plunges even further. And I'm rooting big time for J.S.

OK, I'm done with the cat o'nine tails and the deceased equine.

What am I excited about? Fred. Fred has a chance to be a real stud, and I'm thrilled about him being our everyday LF. Frandsen is getting a chance, finally. He may be a bust, but how will we ever find out? Sorry, Eugenio, but KF is the man. (And why not 3B?) Pablito, of course, will have the eyes of all Giants fans on him. I'm glad he's a big fellow because he's shouldering a LOT of expectations. And who knows? I think 3B is nuts (1B! 1B! C! C!), but I'LL BE HAPPY TO BE PROVEN WRONG!!!!! When is the last time we've had a youngster come out of nowhere and generate this kind of excitement? And I remain high on Nate Schierholz, despite having very little opportunity this year to show his stuff. As a 4th OF he'll have to impress to get ABs. But I'll be rooting for him. I'm not sold on Ishikawa, but I'd rather have him out there than some diseased, overpaid FA. Really. Better to get the crap kicked out of you while building for the future than pretending to be contenders and signing Shea Hillenbrand or his MMIX equivalent.

And the pitching! Wow, we are going to bring it. We got flame-age, serious flame-age, my friends. THAT is going to be fun. (Check out BCB. Chris has gone Excel-happy again and we mere mortal bloggers get to reap the benefits.) Bottom line? Studly starters, improved bullpen. We just might play the most 1-run games in the majors! Talk about excitement!

So there. I'm excited. I'm positive. I'm enthusiastic.

GO GIANTS!!!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pause/Still

I got one of those buttons on my DVD/VCR combo player. Gotta take a piss, hit "pause." Gotta refill the whiskey glass, get some more cookies, gotta settle one of those "is that Kevin Bacon again?" arguments, I'm all over the "still" control. What does this have to do with the MMIX Giants? Uh, well, everything. For starters, there's Dave Roberts. We are paying that guy $6.5 million to be a fifth outfielder. We've got a 6'2'', 215-lb. 25-year old who is out of options and he plays outfield. Ol' Boch is excited that he will be our fourth outfielder. Wow, that's building for the future. We've got the slowest man in the major leagues starting at catcher and pencilled in at cleanup (in 11 seasons he has a .415 SLG, the league average is .432). Does his career OPS+ of 88 excite you? We've got the nation's most exciting catching prospect in our system, and we get another goddamn season of Señor Muy Lento. Can you say space-filler? Placeholder? Ol' Boch loves this guy. Expect 140 starts, 550 PAs, and 400 outs. We've got three youngsters competing for the same job. One of them could play third at least as well as Rich Aurilia, Juan Uribe, or even Joe Crede, but we will make him work for a job that's his to lose. Our third baseman is a catcher who has 154 minor-league games at first. And we don't have a first baseman. But we do have Randy Winn, who plays outfield. His lifetime OPS+ is 102. He's locked in at RF for 2009 (at $8.25 million). The MMIX Giants are like a World Cup soccer team--we'll play real hard not to lose but we just don't have the guns to win. They're like the hors d'oeuvres you get at a fancy restaurant--you don't want to fill up and spoil the expensive meal. I'm not going to cover the ultimate placeholders--Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand--because my VCR "still" button defaults to "stop" after five minutes. By the time these clowns are no longer Giants they'll already be replacing Blu-Ray.

The good news? Our division stinks. A ballclub that can scare up 85 wins could go to the playoffs. And I'm excited, damn excited about the season starting. But 2009 is a space-filler unless we can get a stadium-wide chant going:

D-F-A!! D-F-A!! D-F-A!!

/link

Monday, February 16, 2009

A belated birthday wish . . .

. . . to Nate Schierholz, who turned 25 yesterday. Somebody besides his mom needs to notice this guy. What's that you say? Bill James?

Bill knows something we don't.

Over at FanGraphs, a stat-nerd's wet-dream site, they post the Bill James projections for 2009. That system says Nate Schierholz will play 140 games and get 536 ABs. How they do that is beyond me--I never got past tea leaves in school. Take a look.

Birthday boy will pound out a .299/.331/.491 line for an OPS of .822. Too few walks--24--to go along with 75 strikeouts. But 61 XBH (36 2B, 8 3B, 17 HR)! Who is this guy? Can we give him a job?

Extra-base hit leaders in 2008: (2B, 3B, HR, total)

R.WINN 38 2 10 50
ROWAND 37 0 13 50
MOLINA 33 0 16 49
FLEWIS 25 11 9 45



Hmmmm. That's our starting OF and our catcher.

Then there's this guy, who's been smelling for some time even though he hasn't reached his expiration date.

My question for y'all out there: what does Bill James know that we don't? And how does Nate Schierholz get all that playing time? And is he really an .822 OPS guy?

Prizes for the most creative answer.

(And somebody needs to teach me how to make tables!)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bye-bye, baby!

The fabulous Giants Jottings blog is up and running for the new spring season. "Giantfan9" takes great photos and reports on things in Arizona for all of us baseball-starved folks. Here's a fine snap of our future superstar, no. 28 Buster Posey:





What's not to like?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Tale of Two Players

Player A:

270 minor-league games, 1207 PA, 771 outs, 190 Runs Created, .845 OPS (.308/.391/.454), 71 2B, 21 HR, 125 BB.

Player B:

245 minor-league games, 1102 PA, 729 outs, 170 Runs Created, .849 OPS (.327/.391/.458), 75 2B, 13 HR, 62 BB.

Bill James projects Player B at a .724 OPS in 144 games next year (.280/.322/.402)

Player A is Dustin Pedroia, the AL MVP. Bill James projects an .848 OPS for him. That's reasonable given Pedroia's ML track record.

Player B is KEVIN FRANDSEN. Our boy turns 27 this May (D.P. turns 26 in August). That is a "shit-or-get-off-the-pot" number. Here's a piece from a Chris Haft story last month:

It has been a typical offseason for Frandsen. He has resumed training at Athletes Performance Institute in the Phoenix area alongside his personal workout partner, American League Most Valuable Player Dustin Pedroia of Boston, and other Major Leaguers such as the Dodgers' Andre Ethier, the Pirates' Freddy Sanchez and the Rangers' Josh Hamilton.

Frandsen fully expects to reach their level.

"If I get the opportunity," he said, "I think a lot of people know what I can do."


I'm on the Kevin Frandsen bandwagon. I want to see this guy grab the second base job by the throat and not let it go, and I want to see him start 150 games and pound out a Fred Lewis-like line (.282/.351/.440 for an OPS+ of 105).

Am I nuts?

What say, men? Give me your take KF--what do you project for him in MMIX?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

On target

You want to soften me up, feed me stuff like this:

"(Living in Phoenix), I hear everybody every year talking about the (Arizona) Cardinals going to the Super Bowl. Look what happened this year. Let's go to Scottsdale and be optimistic. Maybe this is our year for the Giants. Why should that be so funny to say that?"

--Randy Johnson, in Henry Schulman's Chronicle story today.

I think I've gone on record this off-season expecting little or nothing from the MMIX San Francisco Giants. Then this guy comes along and reminds me what it is all about. I know he's older than Moses fer chrissakes, but I think he wants to prove something, and when a guy with his resumé has something to prove, watch out. I'm starting to get really excited about our arsenal of hard throwers. We are going to blow some people away, and that will be something, even if we can't hit homeruns.

Go Giants!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Tim Lincecum Cult

There's a blog called More Hardball that has a post today titled Man Games Roar! That is an anagram of More Anagrams!

Here's the thing--I ranted earlier this morning about a Tim Lincecum cult. Then I read the Timothy Lincecum anagram on More Hardball:

I'm one mythic cult.

/twilight zone music

Respond, O My Brothers.

. . . the hit's wearing off

Matt Cain wins his first 13 decisions to finally get to .500, then endures 10 straight starts in which the team scores a total of 4 runs.

Barry Zito abandons the curveball and becomes a fastball/split-finger power pitcher. He offers to retire if the team builds him a statue next to Juan Marichal.

Randy Johnson decides to remain a Giant until he's 50 and passes both Clemens and Maddux in wins.

Jonathan Sanchez strikes out one batter every inning every time he pitches.

Tim Lincecum wins the NL Cy Young easily. A Lincecum cult develops nationwide among suburban junior high school boys. They "style" their hair to match Tim and remove their orthodontia. Posses of Timmers, as they are known, organize group ticket buys whenever The Franchise pitches and spend the entire game imitating his pitching motion en masse.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Enough already, I'm hittin' the crack pipe . . .

I have been accused of having a dismal outlook on the MMIX Giants. Nothing could be further from the truth, my friends, I'm as giddy and optimisitic about our team's chances as any wide-eyed twelve year old. To prove it, here are my projections for our panoply of stars:

1B--Travis Ishikawa hits .330 for half a season until felled by a mysterious ailment that requires 6 months of meditation in a Tibetan monastery with a controversial German herbalist. In the meantime, Josh Phelps finishes the season as the everyday mitt-man and cracks 20 HRs after the ASB.

2B--Move over Dustin Pedroia, the new breakout star is Kevin Frandsen, whose .900 OPS ( .300/.400/.500) dazzles the league.

SS--A resurgent Edgar Renteria channels the ghost of 2003 (OPS+ 130). Carefully timed injections of Omar Vizquel's blood gives him the edge in the Gold Glove voting and he walks away with that award and the Silver Slugger.

3B--Pablo Sandoval really is a .345 hitter who wins the batting title. He finishes with more SBs (22) than BBs (16).

LF--Fred Lewis does everything right but is barely noticed because an .870 OPS (.290/.390/.490) just doesn't win the fans' hearts. His bunion re-surfaces in the off-season but an artificial toe takes care of the problem and he goes on to a great career as the best player you never remember.

CF--Aaron Rowand and Jeff Kent have a motorcycle accident just before spring training and Capt. Gamer is out for the season. Steady Randy Winn gives us the glove and veteran presence we need.

RF--Nate Schierholz refuses to talk to the media after being dissed on by every beat writer in the NL. He sets a team doubles record and is featured on webgems more than any other outfielder.

C--Bengie Molina demands a trade in mid-season after Buster Posey is called up. We get Eliezer Alfonzo back and he and the young Golden Spikes winner handle the backstop duties with aplomb until Alfonzo tests postive for steroids. Posey gets the job and plays 1,347 consecutive games in orange and black.

Pitchers tomorrow.