Monday, June 29, 2009

Ascending Tim

My Mom and Dad did a great job of teaching me a true American value: the love of Baseball. Each of them had a great personal history with long standing franchises. I always envied their tales of incredible pitchers that they witnessed: Bob Feller for my mother and Carl Hubbell for my father. Everytime I got excited by The Count, or Bill Swift, or Jason Schmidt (you get the idea) they would just smirk and tell me about some no-hitter or 16 strikeout performance or 4 consecutive complete game streak (you get the idea) and I would be put in my place. I'm too young for Juan Marichal, so I really didn't have any "ammo" to fight back with. Well, it looks like those days are over...

Tim Lincecum continues his journey into Giants history with his third complete game in the last four starts, two of them shutouts. Tonight he went the distance giving up a weak single and a double (to Pujols), NO WALKS and eight strike outs. All that in 95 pitches! These last couple CG's are not at all like the ones last year. Those were brutal 130+ affairs; this year's are efficient and economical. Hell, we scored 10 runs but the game was still only 2 hours long!! Oh yeah, just in case you want even more from Lincecum, he singled, successfully sacrificed, and made an excellent defensive play. Sounds like old time baseball to me.

I'm telling you, something else has clicked in place for Tim and he has taken it to a new level. Every time he takes the mound it feels like history is taking place. I think I say this every post: We are so lucky to be along for the ride.

I think I'm going to call my Mom tomorrow. Maybe we can talk some baseball now.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The kids are alright

It took a journeyman minor-leaguer to give us the start we needed to win in Milwaukee. He gets his first MLB win--six shutout innings--and his first MLB hit. Matt Downs cranks his first home run. Nate Schierholtz pounds out four more hits including an 8th-inning jack. Last five games for Mr. Olympic: 3-4, 2-4, 2-4, 1-4, 4-5. He's a hacker in the great Sandovalian tradition, and he's "served notice" to Ol' Boch that he gets in the lineup every day. More blues for Mississippi Fred, he slashed a foul line drive that winged the Panda in the on-deck circle, made another misplay in LF, and added another K to his total. He got a big RBI early with an infield hit, but the positive contribution is lost in the glare of Olympic Nate's fireworks. More bench time for him, I'm afraid. Speaking of bench time, Aurilia's absence (bereavement leave) points out--again--his superfluous status. We don't need him. Let him go and free up the spot. Banished Jonathan Sanchez gets a measure of redemption with an impressive 3-K ninth. Way to go, kid.

Break out the forties, me buckos, this was a grand win.


Today's game, from
Chris Haft's piece
SF Gate
His very latest stats
Grizzlie stats

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Keep the forties on ice, bra

When Prince Fielder hit the 3-run homer in the bottom of the sixth, he changed the win probability for los Cerveceros from 9.6% to 33.1%, good for a .235 WPA. It was a huge hit, of course, and the tying blast by Casey McGehee (.187 WPA) off Brandon Medders' first pitch was only slightly less dramatic. A fine start by Da Beezy was suddenly in tatters. Matt Cain hurt himself with walks last night when down 3-1, BZ managed to hurt himself with walks tonight while having a 4-0 lead. If you depend on pitching to win, you have to pitch well to win.

Another great performance for Pablo Sandoval, who kept delivering every time up. I seem to remember another 22-year old who flashed some skillz with the stick back in the day. I wonder if this 22-year old has as bright a future. Will Clark had the pedigree, of course, and the hopes and dreams of the faithful as well. I know we all remember the 96- and 100-loss seasons in 1984 and 1985. Clark's arrival in 1986 was like manna to the fookin' Israelites. Pablo emerged from minor league obscurity, leaping levels at age 21, establishing himself as a genuine prospect in 2008. Now he's one of the best hitters in the league! (Note that he and David Wright are neck-and-neck in OPS.) Can he be The Man for this team all seson long?

It was great to get to Hoffman in the 9th--he lowered the Brewers win expectancy from 50% to less than 10% in short order. Sadly, it was not to be for our beloved Gigantes. Brian Wilson, in a supreme act of closer one-upmanship, gave it all away. Hardy's game-tying hit was worth .369 WPA, and Fielder's coup de grĂ¢ce came in at .386. Alas, I thought we had number forty in the bag. We'll see what Ryan Sadwoski can show us tomorrow.

X post facto

7 6 5 5 4 9
Game Score 50

Things looked good for Matt Cain last night before he even took the hill. Pablo Sandoval had cranked out an opposite-field bomb to make it 1-0 Giants. But then the first batter he faced, Craig Counsell, took a desperate late hack at some shoulder-high cheese and it wound up in the LF corner for a triple. Two extra-base hits later and it was 2-1 Brewers. It never got any better. Big Sugar was gnarly, but a Hardy homer and an ugly 5th ended his quest for the X-prize. Here's M.C. (via Chris Haft):

"I beat myself in the fifth by walking guys. There's no way around it," he said. He repeated that he "beat himself" by not handling Hardy's bunt properly. "As a pitcher," Cain said, "you have to make the assumption that you're fielding it no matter what until it happens or you get called off."

The walks were to Yovani Gallardo (the pitcher!) and the always-annoying Craig Counsell. J.J. Hardy put down a bunt that neither Sandoval nor Cain seemed to know what to do with, and then Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder put the final nails in with a hit and a sac fly. I saw the bunt play, Hardy is pretty quick and even a cleanly-fielded ball and a perfect throw would have been a tough out. Matt seemed to have good stuff, and made everyone in their big-hitting lineup look bad at one point or another, but it was not to be.

There are four guys (Matt Cain, Chad Billingsley, Jason Marquis, and Johan Santana) in the NL with nine wins. One of them will get the big X pretty soon, I was sure hoping it would be our guy. The three others all pitch again on Tuesday. The Giants have not announced their starter for Wednesday, but it would be Cain's turn. I know that "wins" are sort of a silly stat, but when it's one of ours I want all the gaudy numbers. This midwest swing through Milwaukee and St. Louis matches us up with two teams that have similar records to ours, and both expect to compete for playoff spots. It will be an interesting test of our mettle.

After 72 games (4/9 of the season), we are 39-33. We went 11-7 in our last 18 games. In our previous 18-game "innings" we went 9-9, 9-9, and 10-8. Is that a true indicator of our slow, steady improvement? I'd like to think so. But I will admit to looking over our shoulder at the surging Crockies. No rest until the All-Star break, 16 straight games, 6 on the road and then a 10-game homestand. We take a road trip ourselves (Lake Tahoe!) for the Fourth, and we'll wind up in San Francisco for the Monday and Tuesday games against the FloMars. Meanwhile the boys will have to prove they can win when wearing gray.

Friday, June 26, 2009

San Francisco Giants Opening Day April 15, 1958

The lineup:
Leading off and playing third base, Jimmy Davenport. Today is his major league debut game.
Batting second and playing left field, Jim King. His career as a Giant would include 34 games and 12 base hits.
Batting third and playing center field, Willie Mays. He was three weeks shy of his 27th birthday.
Batting fourth and playing right field, Willie Kirkland. Also in his ML debut, he would play 9 years in the majors with a career average of .240 and 148 HR.
Batting fifth and playing first base, Orlando Cepeda. The third Giant playing his first ever ML game, he would be Rookie of the Year in the NL in 1958. And of course end up in Cooperstown.
Batting sixth and playing shortstop, Daryl Spencer. Has been the team's every day SS for a few years already.
Batting seventh and playing second base, Danny O'Connell. Also a returning starter.
Batting eighth and catching, Valmy Thomas. A part-timer whose ML career comprised 252 games over 5 seasons.
Batting ninth and pitching, Ruben Gomez. His nickname: "El Divino Loco."

The box score:
Notice that all nine starters finished the game. The Giants beat the Dodgers 8-0. Don Drysdale was the loser.

The first pitch. (Thanks Tubesox Nation.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Exceeding expectations

The math says we should be 37-34 (.518 win pct.), but we are cruising along at 39-32 (.549), same record as the Damn Yankees. They find themselves--like us--in 2nd place, behind the best team in the league. The aforementioned math is from MLB and is their version* of the so-called "Pythagorean" or "Expected Wins" formula. The whole thing rests on only two numbers: runs scored (RS) and runs allowed (RA). That's pretty simple, it doesn't account for things like timing and luck, or veteran savvy clutchness, or the preponderance of gnarly mo-fos on your squad. Including tonight, we've scored 281 runs and allowed 270. The Damn Yankees have scored 386 runs and allowed 350, and the math says they should be 39-32. The Giants have allowed the fewest runs in the majors, quite an impressive feat. We got another impressive start, this time by The Great Old One. I continue to be impressed by this team--amazed, in fact. Improbabilities and intagibles are still improbable and intangible, but we seem to have an abundance of both. Then again, maybe we really are this good. After all, we are only "exceeding expectations" by two wins--that's not so surprising considering the vagaries of the game and the many ways one team can prevail over another. Our formula is "don't give up runs." Lately, we are including the other part, "score some runs," and by-golly, it works. I especially liked the two-run HR by Olympic Nate!


Seals Stadium, 1958

The Lefty O'Doul era had come and went. The Pacific Coast League continued to get by. Attempts to become a "third major league" came to nothing. Some teams became affiliates of major league clubs. The Oakland Oaks packed up and moved to Vancouver BC after the '55 season.
The monumental decision of the Giants and the Dodgers to move to California after the '57 season was the death knell for minor league baseball in SF. The Seals became the Giants' AAA club and moved to Phoenix, and over time have morphed into the Fresno Grizzlies.
From Wikipedia: "The Giants' final three years in New York City were unmemorable. They stumbled to third place the year after their World Series win and attendance fell off precipitously. While seeking a new stadium to replace the crumbling Polo Grounds, the Giants began to contemplate a move from New York, initially considering Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis-St. Paul, which was home to their top farm team, the Minneapolis Millers. Under the rules of the time, the Giants' ownership of the Millers gave them priority rights to a major league team in the area."

"At this time, the Giants were approached by San Francisco mayor George Christopher. Despite objections from shareholders such as Joan Whitney Payson, majority owner Horace Stoneham entered into negotiations with San Francisco officials around the same time that Dodgers' owner Walter O'Malley was courting the city of Los Angeles. O'Malley had been told that the Dodgers would not be allowed to move to Los Angeles unless a second team moved to California as well. He pushed Stoneham toward relocation. In the summer of 1957, both the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers announced their moves to California, and the golden age of baseball in the New York area ended."

Next: Opening Day 1958

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Schizo Tim

Two Tims showed up tonight. Normally that would mean bad news, but when you are Tim Lincecum, any version of yourself is way better than average. Not really fair is it?

It wasn't for Oakland. Each Tim was too much for the A's as he picked up his SEVENTH victory, tossing his second complete game this year. His final line, quite impressive - seven hits (including a solo HR), 2 walks, one run, and 12, count 'em 12, strikeouts - does not capture how weird Lincecum's dominance was. After cruising through the first four innings by striking out seven A's, Tim became remarkably hittable and put eight baserunners on during the next three innings. For a normal human, this would be a big problem. Not Wacko Tim, he would just all of a sudden decide he needed a double play grounder, and sure enough...he got 'em! To finish off this gem of pitching dissociative identity disorder, Lincecum sliced throught the last two innings, using 8 pitches in the eighth. Just when you thought maybe the A's were making the adjustments - like swinging at Tim's first pitch often, look for other teams to follow suit- Lincecum went back to blowing them away. Freaky even for the Freak.

Weirdly wonderful to experience. Man, are we lucky, or what?

Image credit

Goodbye Sanchez, Hello... Who?

The great Chris Haft spent a lot of virtual ink speculating about the fate of our #5 starter Jonny Sanchez.
"The Giants' scheduled off-day Thursday would allow them to push back Sanchez's next start to June 30 at St. Louis, the next day they'd need a fifth starter. Or they simply could demote Sanchez either to the bullpen or Triple-A Fresno, since he has a Minor League option remaining, and try somebody else. One possible alternative is right-hander Kevin Pucetas, who's 6-2 with a 3.59 ERA at Fresno. Ultra-prospects Madison Bumgarner (4-1, 2.13) and Tim Alderson (3-1, 1.82) are excelling at Double-A Connecticut, but the front office probably would prefer to let them mature a little longer."
All three are big fellas. at least 6'4" with Alderson towering at 6'6". Pucetas is the one with some meat on his bones. He looks like a Matt Cain doppelganger.
Which members of the Giants bullpen should be tried at spot-starter?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

X (almost) marks the spot

8 3 1 1 3 8
Game Score 77

When Matt Cain gets rewarded with win number X, he'll earn an All-Star spot. He pitched brilliantly tonight, having only one tough inning, the 6th. M.C. gave up a leadoff game-tying HR to Ian Kinsler, and threw another couple dozen pitches (walking two) before getting the third out. Other than that it was "lights out." Our pathetic offense delivered 4 hits and 1 run in those 8 innings of stellar work, failing to do its part in getting the vaunted X for Big Sugar. That would have made The Tennessee Stud the leader in wins in the NL, and tied for the ML lead.

Nonetheless, the improbable, intagible Giants got a hit from their best hitter, Pablo Sandoval, to lead off the 9th, giving the team's VSC Jefe an opportunity to get a game-winning hit. Alas, he whiffed. Winn's DP ended our hopes, and extras ensued.

Superb bullpen work by Wilson and Romo was rewarded in the 11th when Olympic Nate gave Gomer an opportunity just screaming for VSC. He whiffed. Flemm then heaped praise on The Rental for his season-long clutch hitting, and he grounded out. Flemm then wondered if the Rangers would walk Pablo Sandoval with No. 1 looming on deck, sure enough, BenMo got another chance. Payback--that's all everyone was thinking about after the free-swinging catcher had K'd in the 9th. On his way to another K, a wild pitch delivered the goods. Way to go, Nate Schierholtz!

I'm tossing out the stats and the analysis tonight, and just thinking about Matt Cain. He seems to take command of games this year, pitching with more confidence and getting the big, late outs more regularly. That's all old-school newspaperman jibber-jabber, of course, or fan-boy infatuation, no hard evidence presented. But that's my take, for what it's worth. Matt's certainly had much more run support this year, tonight a galling exception, and that is a big difference as well. What a treat we've had watching this fellow's entire career. We have him locked up for next year and a club option for 2011, so we will be seeing a lot more of him. Ain't that fabulous?

You have to love the symmetrical pitching line, too.

Seals Stadium, 1935

Built in 1931, a distinctive feature of the park was that it had 3 locker rooms. One for the visiting teams, one for the Seals, and one for the "Mission Reds," San Francisco's "other" ball club, the one you watched when the Seals were out of town.
Along with the Los Angeles Angels, Portland Beavers, Oakland Oaks, Sacramento Solons, and Seattle Indians, the Seals were charter members of the Pacific Coast League which was founded in 1903. The team played its home games at Recreation Park at Harrison and 8th Streets until it was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake.
A new Recreation Park was built at 14th and Valencia, and the Seals played there until 1930. They were PCL pennant winners in '09, '15, '17, '22, '23, and '25.
They also won the pennant in their inaugural year in the 18,600 seat Seals Stadium.
In 1932 Vince DiMaggio talked the manager into letting his 17 year old kid brother Joe try out at shortstop.
Next year Joe hit safely in every game from May 27 to July 25, 61 straight games.
At the end of the '34 season the Seals sold Joe to the Yankees, but part of the deal was that Joe would play one more season in SF.
In 1935 Joe DiMaggio hit .398 with 154 RBI and 34 HR. He was PCL MVP and the Seals won another pennant.
The Yankees won the next four World Series and 9 out of the next 13.

John the Revelator

I'm speaking in tongues, baby, the spirit is moving me! The baseball gods do smile once in a while, and they smiled upon us last night, O My Brothers. Giants Win noted that our three-homer explosion puts us on pace for a hundred, and that's got to be divine intervention. We get an eyeful of John's chapter 3 at every TV sporting event, but I think powers-that-be whipped out some chapter 11 this time:

Lazarus, come forth.

Except that Mississippi Fred, true to his blues roots, thought it was "Fred Lewis, come forth."

And he that was dead came forth.

And he that was benched redeemed himself. It didn't seem that way in the first two at-bats, but FreddieLew put a charge into one in the sixth that wound up wet! Alas and behold we were victors. Despite his slump, Lewis still has a 100-point lead over Edgar "$8 million" Rental in the team OPS-leaders race. This is The Rental's fifth team in six years. Hmmm. On to better news, the Jeremy Affeldt signing is one of the best things The Brian Trust has done in a while, and it ought to be a model for the future: short-term, low-cost, prudent risk. Ah, the hell with analysis. Let's just bask in the glory:

"Lord, don't you love some I"

Friday, June 19, 2009

Dusty Rhodes, RIP

He was the "every-man" hero, the cinderella story, the "Rudy" of the 1954 World Series, Dusty Rhodes was that pesky little journeyman ballplayer who performed miracles in the only fall classic he ever played in, the last World Series the Giants ever won.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tripped up Tim

That was not supposed to happen. Everything was going along rather smoothly, then the proverbial wheels came off. It was like skipping along at top speed, I mean really hauling. Then, all of a sudden, a toe catches a crack in the sidewalk that was not there a second ago. Down you go before you know what has happened.

Tim Lincecum got his second loss of the year this afternoon against the a tough Angel squad. His numbers were spectacular through seven but ended up only solid after eight. Eight hits (two doubles), no walks, three earned runs and nine strikeouts. The rally that was his undoing was started by Torii Hunter, whose numbers are rather remarkable, and the amazing Vladamir Guerrero. The key pitch may have been an 0-2 pitch to Vlad. I said out loud to my Brother that Tim needed to really waste it, not just throw it close. Sure enough, Tim put a tough pitch just off the corner...exactly the stuff Guerrero has made a career of hitting. I guess there are alot worse people out there that can beat you.

It was a heart-breaking loss, but you do have to tip your hats to them. Tim's streak is over (he had not lost since April) and his impressive record of 26-2 when given 3+ runs is still pretty damn studly. Nothing to fear, Tim will come back stronger than ever next time.

But I do have to admit it still smarts. Kind of like when you skin your knees after falling.

Rash Review: 6/15/09 home vs. LA

For premise, please see post below. Life is too short.

* Sorry, Ron but life does not mock me. Barry Zito does. I will never again say a kind word about that shit. He was crap. I may never forget how he got schooled by Lackey, an AL pitcher that had NEVER had a hit previously. I feel the need for a third reference to feces but I'll leave that up to you guys. Be creative.

* On a positive note #1 : Pablo is a God. His first homer was a fat pitch that he crushed but the second one was the one that was amazing. Inches above the outside corner, yet he still got enough to get it barely over the fence. He feels like the real deal to me.

* Aaron Rowand is painful to watch and I may stop doing it. ( I have been known to take short absences for "special" cases.) Apparently he has been hot lately, BFD! I saw him look like a fool and strikeout three times. He was yanked early ( a big part of our comback) or else he would have had four for sure.

* On a positive note #2 : Merkin Valdez is a God. Everybody is all talking about how great the Angels hit, and they are pretty damn good, but for a while they looked very human. That was when Valdez was out there. He hit 98 mph a couple times. A viscious slider that is almost Nenn-like. I am pretty sure I was watching next season's closer.

Bulleted Road Trip '09

I used to go to a whole boatload of games. Even after I left the Bay Area, I shared season tickets for awhile. But for this year, I will only be going to one: last Monday, June 15, 2009. In addition, I no longer have any TV coverage, only internet radio. Since my attendance has become so rare I have decided that I should GROSSLY OVER-PRIORITIZE the impressions and insights that I garner from them. Seeing is believing, right?

Given that premise I decided to deliver a quick and dirty, rash, impulsive, opinionated and poorly thought-out journey. Shades of grey be damned!

* The BEST way to and from the Ballpark is the ferry. Free parking at Larkspur, comfy seats, hella view. Sweet!

* Indian food is fabulous! We found this place Masala next to Golden Gate Park and had it all to ourselves. Shrimp tandoori. Check out the naan.
* I want a living roof! I want it, I want it, I want it. The new Academy of Sciences is way cool. I practically grew up there so it was a trip to see this version. The rain forest is outstanding! JCP says check it out.

* Paying homage to deities in the Haight apparently doesn't overcome the incompetence of Zito.

* This was our first time on the Club Level. Nice, weirdly exclusive but nice. It must be the best place for foul balls, we had several near us in Sec 207. (Perfect view of Torres's splash! It was obvious the second he hit it.)

* Robyn made the wise choice of a Portabella sandwich. I blew it with a gratuitious garlic fries that sucked but enjoyed a Sheboygan (I love to say that.) Needless to say the Anchor Steams were perfect.

Whew, I need a break. I'll be back in a cyber second with my rash game review. Smoke 'em if you got 'em and remember sharing is caring.

We're still better than

the Mets and the Cubs and the Marlins. But getting thrashed by the LAngels after a great weekend is like puking up a steak dinner. The whole Burriss-Frandsen-Downs comedy has me scratching my head. Who the hell runs the goddamn show? I understand why they like Burriss, hell, I like Burriss. But Frandsen is clearly the man for the 2nd base job, and his ability to play third and short make him a pretty useful guy. He'll never be Dustin Pedroia, fer chrissakes, but so what? Edgar "$8 million" Rental is chugging along at .635 OPS these days. Six-freakin'-thirty-five, me buckos. That's ghastly. Tell me again why he hits second? Maybe this Downs kid will show us something in the meantime. And, in a week, Frandsen will be back, I suppose. Then we can jerk him around some more. (Memo to KF's agent: seek trade.)

For all the recent excitement, this two-game stretch has given us a cool Skin Bracer slap on the face, and reminded us of the ugly weaknesses of the club. Our future star, Pablo Sandoval, is still unpolished, and we still don't know where to play him. Our old outfielders are still old. Rich Aurilia still has a job. Barry Zito is still Barry Zito. Our cleanup hitter still makes outs 72% of the time. "Lincecum, Cain, pray for rain" is still the refrain. (Sorry, RJ, but at 45 years old you are not part of the future.)

The Franchise is on the hill today, so I expect we can cool their bats this afternoon and get a win. The Rangers come to town after that with their .786 OPS (5th in the ML) and first-place swagger. They've got FIVE guys slugging over .500!! Let's hope we can regain that schpilkes-inducing form we showed not too long ago.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Me!

Today is NUMBER TEN with the ever-lovin' wife, Robyn. Pretty cool, huh? She is a truly great partner and makes me a better man every day. Who could ask for anything more? Ok, maybe she would be even more perfect if she was a slugging firstbaseman...nah, then I would have to share her with the rest of the world.

Yesterday we had our semi-annual pilgramage to the City and the Ballpark. I didn't take the big camera (too much public transportation for that) but our phone cameras did pretty good. This one at the right was taken THE EXACT SECOND that Pablo hit his first homerun that night. I shit you not! I heard the crack of the bat right as the shot was taken...check out my eyes. I'll post a few tomorrow, as well as Monday's game review. We had a great trip and the game was a doozy, so I'll have alot to discuss.

But right now I'm going to go give my favorite Giants fan a kiss. Why don't you do the same?


Eric Seidman of Fan Graphs has an interesting piece on our studly right-hander called Cain and Regression. M.C. sez "check it out." Mr. Seidman also wrote the piece on Sandoval that I pointed y'all to earlier.

The air got let out of the schpilkes balloon a bit last night, eh? It is a good thing that John Lackey is a stud pitcher--it takes a bit of the sting away. Nice to see Pablo continuing to wow us with his bat. I keep pinching myself and saying "he's only 22 years old." Keep on rockin', brother!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


9 4 1 1 0 9
Game Score: 84

Matt Cain is playing some serious ball! He had the big smoke today, blowing away some good hitters (Holliday, Giambi, Suzuki) and giving up some bombs (Cust). When you go with the 4-seamer, you are going to get it both ways. He was dominant, and like his mates this weekend, efficient. I'm not much for intangibles, but I have a strong feeling that the excellence we are seeing this year from M.C. isn't just about maturity, but about his fellow hill-men. You've got one of the greatest (if not the greatest) southpaw in the game, at 45 years old, throwing 7 gnarly innings, you've got your wunderkind teammate, the reinging Cy Young winner, tossing a shutout, don't you think that fires a guy up? Makes him more competitive? I like to think M.C. had that "I'll show those sumbitches" gasoline in his tank this afternoon. Athletes are naturally competitive, and always looking to "one-up" the other guy. You have to figure that even the pros need need to get pumped up and keep the flames going. Nailing the zone with 95 mph heat probably helps as well.

My man Mississippi Fred has been singing the benchwarmer blues, and that has given both Torres and Schierholz more chances. Torres had a brilliant game, as did Schierholz, who managed to knock the Panda off the highlight reels. I'm thrilled for both of them, especially our Young Olympian, if only because Torres has a track record as a 4th man. If either can play starter-level baseball it will be a joy-oozing scene.

We just played one of our best games of the season, swept the A's, racked up a 9th win for Big Sugar, and got a thunder-bomb from the surging Sandoval--what could be bad?

Dare I say it? Schpilkes! I've got schpilkes!

(.700 record at home)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Terrific Tim

That's a Game Score of 80 for all you nerds who keep track of that stuff. The phenom from Oakland got a taste of NL ball when The Timster roped an RBI single off him in the 5th. You could practically hear Tim riposting from first base, "that's how we roll in our yard, dawg." Ain't it sweet? Clever at-bat by the Panda, bunting to get it started, and red-hot Gomer drove home the final nail. But it was The Franchise tonight, taking a page from the Book of Cain--First Pitch Curveball--and befuddling the Oak-men with an insouciant efficiency. I think this Lincecum kid is pretty damn good. A few more times around the league and this young fellow is going to get noticed, you mark my words.

Where Are They Now?

Rajai Davis OF Oakland Athletics
One of the young speedy athletes the Giants hoped would succeed at patrolling the wide open spaces of PhoneCo Park, Davis is now a mediocre member of the goddam A's. The 28 year old has appeared in 35 games this year, with 71 AB, .239 AVG, .313 OBP, .282 SLG, 0 HR, 7 SB.

Matt Herges RHP Cleveland Indians
The Tribe called him up in early May from AAA Columbus and he's done a great job. In 12 games and 17.2 innings he has an ERA of 1.02, 4 BB vs. 14 SO, AVG against of .129 and a WHIP of 0.68. Good for him.

Brett Tomko RHP New YorkYankees
The damn Yankees are the 6th ML team for the 36 year old Tomko. He's appeared in 8 games and thrown 10.2 innings. But really who gives a shit. I'm reporting this because I thought he was dead. Not really.

Omar Vizquel SS Texas Rangers
Apparently happy to be back in the AL. In 23 games with 55 AB he's hitting .345! Very cool for a 42 year old man.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Homeward bound

Wailing and moaning about our lousy offense is one of the mainstays of my work here at RMC. If we started getting hits I might have to give up blogging. But no woe today, that kid Scherzer is an impressive talent. He was a 1st round draft pick (11th overall in 2006), and has a K/9 of 10.1 in his brief time in the bigs (123 IP) as well as an ERA+ of 127. And speaking of offensive woes, our opponents today are bursting at the seams with guys hitting well below expectations. Sanchez gave them a whole pile of extra baserunners and they only eked out a run against him. Meanwhile, the Crockies have won EIGHT in a row and are still four games below .500 and a half-game behind the Puds! Despite the loss, I'm encouraged by our 6-4 road trip, and our two impressive wins in AZ. Now we are coming home where we can zoog the A's with our .667 AT &T mojo. (And maybe Mississippi Fred, 3-for-25 on the trip, can find his mojo.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pablo! Pablo!

"He's amazing," Cain said. "He just hits. That's what he does." (from Jason Skoda,

Matt isn't the only one who likes Pablo Sandoval. Eric Seidman at FanGraphs has a nice piece on our boy ("A Second Look at Pablo Sandoval") this morning.

The big bomb in the 5th yesterday was good for a .265 WPA--it changed our win expectancy from 32.7 % to 59.2 %, the biggest hit of the game. It is nice to see a guy creeping up on the vaunted .500 SLG plateau. Other than Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, Pablo Sandoval is our brightest star right now. Are any of our other youngsters capable of stepping up and delivering this level of performance (.856 OPS)? If you are going to be a hacker who doesn't walk much, you have to hit for high average and deliver some power. Keep it up, Pablo!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Upside-down world

6.1 6 4 4 5 6

In 2009's upside-down world, Matt Cain gives up five walks and two homers but still gets a win. Matt survived not only a 29-pitch inning (the 2nd) but also a Righetti Visit of Doom in the 4th. In fairness, I should point out that after the RVOD M.C. got the next two guys easily. See, it's an upside-down world. It was un ugly night with weirdness abounding: Rental's hallucinatory base-running, Whiteside's missed-squeeze-double-off-the-wall play, Frandsen swinging at wild pitches in the dirt, and Cain throwing 115 pitches at 30 guys to get 19 outs. But this is upside-down world, remember? We pound the crap out of the AZ's nobody young righty (13 hits and 8 runs) one night after we are nearly no-hit by another nobody. It is always great to crank out some runs, and it is doubly great when we do it for Matt. He had one of his worst outings, yet still managed to finish six. Speaking of the 6th, it took only FOUR pitches for Cain to get three outs. Talk about upside-down world--normally we do that sort of thing. You have to love Pablo Sandoval's surge, he's the only young position player we have that's really lighting it up.

I feel for Fred Lewis. All the regulars pound out big hits, he goes 0-for-4 and looks bad in the field. It hurts to say it, but he's playing his way out of the lineup. Tell me it ain't so.


This guy has a game face.

Meet our 2nd round pick,
Tommy Joseph from the Horizon High School Huskies.

Look out, Buster!

It's Official

ZACK WHEELER, our newest Giant.

UPDATE (1745): Looks like it is ZACH Wheeler. Short for Zachary.

UPDATE (1849): Tommy Joseph, a HS catcher from Scottsdale is our 2nd round pick (#55). Check out the HS ballcub webpage and go find him on the varsity roster. What's his favorite class?

UPDATE (1919): Chris Dominguez, our first college player, is pick #86 in the 3rd round. Check him out at Louisville University. He's huge.

School's out

and the kids are ready to be drafted!

The buzz seems to be that we are eyeing prep pitching star TYLER MATZEK, a southpaw from Mission Viejo. See here and here.

Here's Rich Lederer from The Baseball Analysts:

. . . this year's draft seems more geared to high school arms. There's Purke and Turner, as well as Tyler Matzek, who just may be the best prep pitcher of them all . . . (emphasis mine)

Chris at BCB is talking draft today as well. We'll know something before Matt Cain takes the hill tonight in Arizona. My feeling is we just keep stocking the talent--make enough good draft picks and eventually they will pay off. You'll get good players on the big squad and you'll get more trade flexibility with your youngsters. We have six picks today: #6, #55, and #86 in the first three rounds, then #117, #147, and #177 in the last three.

Go Giants!

Monday, June 8, 2009

One Third + one

The season is one third over. Actually, it was one third over after Saturday's game. The Giants are 29-26, certainly better than almost anyone expected. Here is one man's opinions of the team at this point.
1) Pablo Sandoval's defense at third base has been a delightful surprise. He is not horrible. He is not a gold glover, but has played far better than anyone had a right to expect.
2) Aaron Rowand is swinging the bat well. Sorry, I know that as an internet poster, it is heresy to say anything positive about Mr. Rowand. He is currently hitting the ball well.
3) Sabean and Bochy have not yet done anything to destroy the team. One can argue with roster choices, lineups and the occasional situtional decision, but really, we could go a long way towards reducing global warming emissions if the internet servers dedicated to Sabean and Bochy angst could be powered down.
4) The Giants are 18-9 at home and 11-17 on the road. Hurray for the home record. Much has been made of the dismal road record, but part of that was the 0-6 road trip to San Diego and Los Angeles in April. Then again, the Giants inexplicably managed to drop another three in San Diego May 19-21. What is the deal with that place? Anyway, the team is looking pretty good without the horrible April road trip - a .500 record. Unfortunately, you can't really ignore losses at any point during the season. What would it take to get the Giants to a .500 road record including those defeats? Six games. We are 4-2 on the current road trip.
5) The team needs more hitting. We are not horrible, just lack slugging at our key positions. First, outfield. Pablo seems to be coming around at third. This may be fixable, but the internet whining about getting this guy or that guy ignores what all posters don't have any information about - that is, what the other GM thinks of what Sabean is willing to offer, and what another GM wants for their guy. Sorry to lay out a fundamental truth about a trade, but there it is. If everyone that Sabean calls wants Lincecum to start the conversation, do you still think Sabean is a terrible GM for having done nothing? Also, it might be fun to go back and see who we all were wishing for, wishing against, or speculating on early in the spring and see how well those those guys are doing. One thing I know on this subject, regardless of what some jerk on the radio was talking about when I was trying to find out what the hell was happening Saturday - Adam Dunn should be a DH in the AL, NOT a Giant.
5a) We are 29-26 with crappy hitters. Can this continue? The bullpen has been a vast upgrade from last year and our starters are solid, for the most part. Hurray, pitching.
6) I'm worried about Wilson. Yesterday, another couple of hits in the ninth. Yet, he is getting it done.
7) I was slowly becoming convinced that Emmanuel Burriss is a major leaguer, until the last week.

What else? What are your observations at one third? Surprises? Frustrations?
Bonus question: Name a tasty cocktail made with three portions of exactly one third. If successful, I might make you one.

A Link to History

A wonderful story in this morning's Sac Bee. I'm taking the lazy way today. Click here to read about a 24 inning complete game 100 years ago.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Adjustable Tim

Sounds like a cool action figure, huh? Maybe with "kung fu grip?" Nah, I am referring to a distinctly Lincecumian attribute clearly on display tonight as Tim won his fifth game by giving up 2 runs on 3 hits, 4 walks and 4 strikeouts over 7.1 innings.
The impressive final numbers and the fact that he entered the eighth inning with a one hit shutout could lead one to think that Tim had his best stuff. Not really. Each of the first three innings were started with walks, including one to the pitcher. A couple very wild pitches added to a very rocky and stressful beginning. Then Tim did something that he has done before, but it is not an adjustment that you see very often. To start the fourth inning, Lincecum abandoned the windup and went right to the stretch. I heard him once refer to it "having fewer moving parts" so it was easier to find his rhythm. Well, it seemed to work. Although the first guy got a single, then it was smooth sailing for about the next ten batters. He went back to the windup for the fifth and beyond, but that brief change had done the trick. Seems like a pretty savvy veteran move for such a young scrub. In fact, his ability to adjust, fine tune and monitor his unique abilities is a big part of his success. Many experts thought he would break by now. What I think they did not factor in was this remarkable and sensitive mechanism of self-correction.
SPECIAL NOTICE: I am going on a road trip to the Ball Park!! The wifey and I will see one game only (Monday 6/15 vs Angels) and I expect to take a BOATLOAD of pictures. The trip starts this Wednesday and includes camping so I may drop off the radar for a while. We are going to re-enact the good World Series game against the Angels (the one the wifey and I went to) by grabbing some small black children as we run the bases.
Photo credit

MLB First-Year Draft June 9-June 11

On the slim chance that some of you haven't yet heard of Stephen Strasburg, he is supposed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, as my mother would say.
A dominating power pitcher, he was the only amateur player on last year's Olympic team. Some say (and "some" are rarely wrong) if he was in the majors right now he would be one of the five best pitchers in the bigs.
The Washington Nationals have the #1 pick and they'd be crazy not to take him. Of course he's going to want huge bucks.
The next pick goes to Seattle, then San Diego, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and then YOUR San Francisco Giants.
Prominent position players available are Dustin Ackley, an OF/1B from UNC, and Grant Green, a shortstop from USC.
The top stud high school hitting prospect is Donovan Tate from Georgia.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Slippery when wet

I didn't understand that play with Torres, after he got the big RBI hit in the 5th, where he fell down heading to third, got tagged out in a rundown, but was awarded second by the umpire anyway. Jon Miller figured Torres must have been bumped by the first baseman (Cantu) while rounding the bag, thus constituting obstruction. I needed to see that one.

Another rocky day for Young Jonathan. There's a malaise that settles over Giants-Land when Sanchez takes the hill. The talk about him on the trading block is gaining acceptance among the faithful. Is it group-think? Should we calm down and take a breath? He's only a third of the way into the season, fer chrissakes. Or is it the realization that he's shown us what he's got? It's been a third of the season already, fer chrissakes! For his Giants career he's given us 306-2/3 IP and 311 strikeouts in 101 games.

We are exactly 1/3 of the way through the season, 54 games, and sit at 28-26. We were 9-9 after 18 games, and 18-18 after 36 games. So we've improved a bit and managed 10-8 in the next 18. Our 72nd game is June 26 in Milwaukee, that will bring us 4/9 of the way through the season. I'm quite pleasantly surprised that we've managed to keep the Good Ship Giant in fighting trim, not just floating either, but making occasional headway. I'm routinely sickened by our offense (our first four innings today were embarrassing), but our pitching has kept us in games, and we've pulled off some unlikely wins. I hope we keep it up.

The Mets claimed Pat Misch off waivers (according to Trade Rumors).

Is This Kid Special Or What?

Sergio Romo has more quirks and mannerisms than any player I've seen in a long time. Either he drinks WAY too much Red Bull, or a substance to be named later, or he's just a natural ball of energy.
When he gets out #3 he FLIES off the mound back to the dugout.
Oh and did I mention he's got NASTY stuff?
Barring setbacks it's easy to see him as our set-up guy.
And if Wilson can't stop with the excess 9th inning dramas, what the hell, make him the closer.
Wild thing, you make my heart sing.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Singin' in the rain

Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place
Come on with the rain
I've a smile on my face
I walk down the lane
With a happy refrain
Just singin',
Singin' in the rain

Matt Cain (5 5 1 1 2 7) racked up career win number 37 in a rain-shortened nightcap. Randy Johnson won his 300th in a rain-delayed afternoon game. We had a rare double-header in the District today to make up for yesterday's postponed-due-to-rain game.

And we pulled off a sweep! How's that for singin' in the rain?

The Nats are below .300, but they have some hitters and they can make pitchers work. M.C. had to grind through 22 batters and 82 pitches to nail down 5 IP. The Great Old One was more efficient, only two hits in his 6 IP. Johnson's 300th was worth a Game Score of 66, Cain's 37th (a complete game!) only 58.

Congratulations to Randy Johnson for the big milestone. A damn impressive feat. He had his greatest seasons in Arizona, and those gobshites kept us out of the playoffs more than once, so I get queasy sometimes when I see him in a Giants uniform. But he's still got something left, and he's doing it for our side now, so I say "keep it up, old man." The Hurri-Cain Express keeps a-rollin' on, just rackin' up the W's and slappin' down some E-R-A. Boo-yah!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Brian Sabean--History?

Sabean's 13 years as the Giants' general manager is the longest run by a general manager in the club's history. His first eight years was one of the more successful periods the Giants have ever had. He seemed to have the magic touch in trades, sending away young prospects for veterans. Most of those prospects never amounted to anything. It was like he knew something nobody else knew.
The November '96 trade is now legendary. The Great Matt Williams for Jose Vizcaino, Joe Roa, Julian Tavarez and Jeff Kent. "OMG" we all said. "I'm not stupid," Sabean said.
He picked up JT Snow, Robb Nen, Ellis Burks, etc. The team kept winning. Of course they had a pretty good left fielder the whole time.
It all peaked in 2002 with World Series that the Giants SHOULD HAVE WON. Shit, I'm still mad at Dusty Baker for giving that friggin ball to Russ Ortiz.
Then the '03 season under Felipe Alou; wire-to-wire in first place and 100 wins, but a bust in the post season.
Then: November 13, 2003- A Day That Will Live In Infamy.
Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser for AJ Fucking Pierzynski.
The wheels have come off.
Sidney Ponson.
Edgardo Alfonso.
Armando Benitez.
I could go on.
With Sabean it's a question of "What have you done for us lately?"
I guess with unloading of Bonds after '07 the team took a new direction, actually developing some talent via the farm system, rather than building around Bonds, trying to win "this year."
The jury's still out on that project. Maybe it's not something Sabean is good at.
We're facing the possibility of a fifth straight losing season. Sabean's contract will be up. It's probably the end of the line for him as Giants GM.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Quincentennial Tim

On a muggy night in the nation's capitol, young Tim Lincecum wasn't at his best. On the other hand, his team, our beloved San Francisco Giants, were quite possibly at their worst.

Lincecum used 110 pitches to battle through 6.1 innings while surrendering 8 hits (including a hr!), 2 walks (versus 7 strikeouts), 2 earned runs and yet another no decision. Not disgraceful by any means, but certainly not artistic. His weaknesses (high pitch counts, holding runners) were quite evident, and some of his strengths (few hard hit balls) were not their sharpest. Overall, Lincecum's performance was relatively forgettable.

How I wish I could say the same thing about that game! Yuck! Errors, wild pitches, horrible bullpen action, Double Yuck! Even the fact that Rowand is still producing kind of creeps me out. That kind of game leaves me needing a shower. Quick, I need a silly Tim-related statistical analysis in order to stop reliving that game....something especially inconsequential. What's that? A "milestone?" PERFECT!

It took him eight pitches, but the milestone was reached with his first batter. Not surprisingly, Tim is the fastest to crack this mark debuting as a Giant since 1900. With 506 strikeouts, he is tied with Stu Miller for #45 on the Giants All-Time list. It is truly fun to look at the list of Top 50 Giants strikeout artists. (You have to scroll down a fair bit.) I was really quite surprised by several items. For example, Krukow and Shawn Estes are way higher than I would have guessed; The Count was even more nasty than I remember; and Jason Schmidt was a good Giant (and since he is such a bad dogger, in a way, he still is) .
Give it a look over and let me know what you notice. It will take your mind off things.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The DL

I played slo-pitch softball today and landed on the DL. No, I didn't tear my ACL with an ill-advised slide into 3rd. I saw that once. Not good. No, this is a weird one. I misjudged a flyball--hey, I'm out of practice. I was in left, it was a high pop-up and I missed it with my glove hand. I had my right up, too, and the ball landed on the tips of my fingers, jamming them, and I botched it. I grabbed the stray ball and tossed it back to the infield--then I noticed my hand was bleeding. I had a gash between my right middle and right ring fingers that needed five stitches! I must have tried to catch the ball bare-handed while giving Spock a Vulcan salute. Live long and prosper, bra. It's as if my hand was being drawn and quartered for a bit before they said "sorry, wrong fellow" and let me go. I thought at first the seams of the ball had torn off some skin, but my hand was actually split open. The gash was about an inch long with an impressive pulpy depth, and curved from the palm side to the back in a rough crescent. I'm typing this with my left. The right doesn't hurt much, just a bit sore, but I'm down to a simple pincer grip at best for a few days. That's enough about me. I'm dying of thirst and I need a fookin' beer.

OPEN INJURY THREAD: tell us your tale.

Off-day round-up

David Pinto of the always-interesting Baseball Musings devotes a post to our very own Mississippi Fred, "The Curious Case of Fred Lewis" (31 May). I have two beefs with the site--it loads very slowly (could be my issue not theirs) and the adverts are annoying. But the writing is good and, like ShysterBall, it is a nice spot for a quick-and-dirty snapshot of MLB happenings. As we know, Fred is a unique ballplayer, and does not seem to fit any particular type. Just wait until he busts out his guitar and mouth organ and lays down some Delta blues!

Trade Rumors has a note (31 May) that the Giants have scouted the Brewers Corey Hart. Sounds like a whole lotta nuthin' but I thought I'd pass it on.

Baseball-Reference takes a look at 2009 attendance. The Giants, surprisingly, are doing better than I thought.

You've probably seen the Andrew Pentis story about The Franchise. Tim Lincecum's next strikeout victim will be his 500th. He's been in 68 games and pitched 438-2/3 innings. WOW. For comparison, Matt Cain has 604 K's in 721 IP (114 starts).