Saturday, February 23, 2013

Questions of a Tim Nature

As the defending World Champions, ( Wow! What a beautiful phrase.. ) the San Francisco Giants understandably have relatively few unanswered questions heading into the 2013 season.  Sure, there's always a spot or two in the bullpen to squabble about, but I'll leave that to smarter authors. For me, once again my baseball universe seems to revolve around the fortunes of Timothy Leroy Lincecum.  Big surprise, huh?  But seriously, let's face it, the once rock solid, "franchise player" that was Timmeh is a thing of the past.  He's a frigging "riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma".

So, let's get to some of those questions.  Off the top of my head I can think of 4 or 5...

Ok, this is not very forward thinking, but sometimes a problem can be identified and fixed. Right? Well, Tim makes this hard.  I sure haven't heard him or Righetti or Bochy or anybody really pinpoint a distinct flaw.  I guess there was some mention by Tim about his follow through, but it didn't sound very major. Could it explain his terrible fastball control last year?  And did he fix it for his post season relief resurgence?  We may have to let this question go;  however it sure would feel good to place some blame for such a disastrous season (ERA+ of 67 for god's sake!).

The short answer is, of course, no.  But perhaps it is an indication of a new focus or commitment to excellence... nah, the long answer is "no" too.

Now we are getting to the tough ones.  My answer: I can't believe he can be that bad again (he led the league in ER!) so I'm looking for a substantial rebound.  I've been burned too bad to really think that Tim will re-climb to the heights of dominance that  he once so easily ascended.  I'm hoping for about an ERA+ of 120 ( his career average now ) which would probably make him the best #3 starter in the league.  Will he matter much? Hell, yea!  We proved that we can win the division without him last year ( more like, in spite of him ) but how far do we go in the post season without Tim's contribution last year?  Like it or not, Lincecum is a key figure in the NL West race.

And, finally, the BIG question, the elephant in the room type question...

I have said for years that the Giants won't keep three big time starting pitcher contracts, nobody can. Two, sure, but not three.  Now I realize that kind of baseball dogma may no longer be true.  The Giants have clearly helped establish a new formula for team structure and payroll.  Swap that slugger outfielder for a cheaper fast guy and use the money for more pitching.  In fact, it could be argued that Tim Lincecum was a big reason for this new thinking; that he was truly a transformative agent.  Isn't that worth something?  I think so.  Which means my answer is NO, this better not be Tim's last season as a Giant.  Timmeh has a lot more history to write.  Good or bad, he remains one of the most engaging Giants of all time.  Matt, MadBum and The Freak all deserve to stay together for a long time to come.  And we deserve to see it.

Besides, I hate to mention the obvious ( and disgusting ) destination if Tim does decide to go the free agent route.  The filthy rich doggers could pick him up at top dollar rates just to piss us off.  That is a future I don't wish to contemplate. Sorry I brought it up.

So, have any questions of your own?  Or better yet, answers.  It is spring, the time of renewal, so get those brain cells fired up again! The off season is OVER!  ( In fact, the first spring training game starts in about a half hour.)

CONGRATULATIONS! You have officially survived another off season. Now write a damn comment!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Your 2013 Giants

I'm a thirteen guy. It's my favorite number. I suppose having a favorite number is a little too far along on the nerd spectrum for most folks, but I'm a little too far along on the nerd spectrum to worry about what most folks think. I was born, you see, on a Friday the 13th. Family lore has it that my maternal grandmother (born in the West of Ireland in the early aughts of the previous century) was angry at my mother for not "holding on" for another day. My dear mother, to her credit, was sufficiently modern and American to accept that babies come out when babies come out and was more concerned about me having ten fingers and ten toes than what the nurses would write on the birth certificate. Alas, I was born at 1:54 p.m. (PST), thus falling within the 13th hour. So, like I said before, I'm a thirteen guy. You can imagine, then, my bubbling excitement about the 2013 season for the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants. I'll admit to a still-lingering 2012 party hangover--I've hardly touched the keyboard these last several weeks. After all, you can only write about the joy and giddiness associated with the Giants winning the World Series so many times. Certainly I can obsess over it and revel in it, but communicating my self-indulgent wallowing to my loyal readers here at RMC would be tiresome. And would reveal me to be a silly, shallow, and narcissistic nincompoop. That may indeed already be the case, after all, I'm a grown man and I devote hours of my life to a blog named after my favorite ballplayer.

Mox nox in rem, as Caesar and Cicero would say, or "get on with it, you twit." Yes, 2013 is here. Pitchers and catchers have set up spring shop in the southern desert and the rest of the crew is soon to show. I like this team. I said that this time last season. The Giants have pitching, fielding, hitting, and baserunning. And that other stuff, too. Chemistry. Intangibles. Veteran Savvy Clutchness. Leadership. And don't bet against self-actualized, cosmically aware, and spiritually receptive. Throw in some tabouli and lentil nut loaf on the post-game spread and they'd get a PETA stamp of approval and a rung up on the ladder to heaven. That doesn't get you anywhere in Vegas, however, because the under/over on wins for the club is a mere 86. The moneychangers in Las Temple like the LA Dodgers (90) better, proving once again that Satan has orifices in both cities.

Eighty-six wins? Are you fucking kidding me? The Giants won 86 games in 2011 with Buster Posey's ankle tendons playing hide-the-salami with a demon-possessed Cuisinart. But it's fine, really. It's all good. Let the rabble eat their cake. When Hanley Ramirez jukes like an arthritic water buffalo at balls hit up the middle and Andre Ethier flails like a narcoleptic samurai at pitches from lefties, they'll switch to beach volleyball and UFC throwdowns. OK, to be fair, they've got some talent in the LAtrine. Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in the NL. That I'll grant them. And guys like Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez are the real thing. But excuse me for thinking that the Giants are better. It's a team game, y'know. They had all those guys last year and played .500 ball in the last three months of the season. Donnie Baseball didn't exactly dazzle at the helm, and even his bosses have some doubts about him, choosing not to extend his contract. Earvin Moneybags and His High Dollar Homies have publicly declared it's "World Series or Bust" for the blue-clads, and there's nothing like a little pressure added to the mega-media mix that is the City of Angels. If Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett thought that playing in Boston was tough, they are in for a wake-up. Laid-back Californians are just as ruthless as insecure New Englanders when it comes to $200+ million payrolls and dreams of glory. Hollywood has no shortage of buried bodies when it comes to the bottom line.

Since we are on the subject of the bottom line, here's mine: the Giants will win the West. The defending champions are the best team and, if they stay healthy, the rest of baseball will have to go through them if they want the big prize. I'm fresh out of Spring Training stories, I'm afraid, you'll have to go to the Comical Sporting Green for good stuff about Brandon Belt and karaoke. Seriously. That's what the professionals are scribbling about these days. I'm just an amateur hack so I don't have that kind of insight. I'll stick with pitching, fielding, hitting, and baserunning. The Giants did those things in 2012, and will do them again in 2013. And I'll take them over any other club in The Show, thankyouverymuch.



Thursday, February 7, 2013

Romo in the Fold

According to Henry Schulman in the Chron today, Sergio Romo has signed a two year contract for $9 million ($3.5/$5.5).   Mr. Romo was headed for arbitration, and is the last Giant that is unsigned.  That's a good thing.  With the addition of Ramon Ramirez, we have a lot of bullpen arms, and it looks like a re-visitation of the closer-by-committee approach.  The question is not whether we have a great bullpen, because after all, 2012 World Champions, but is it sufficient going into 2013?  My take is that more arms wouldn't hurt.  Sergio established himself as an elite reliever this year, but he still has a slight frame and is successful because of a pitch that puts a lot of torque on his elbow.  It suggests that Sergio might not be the go-to-closer-guy for the entire season.  If Santiago Castilla or some other pitcher can fill in, great, but given the style of team management these days, an every day closer seems preferable.  An affordable but incentive laden contract for Brian Wilson would be great, and I'm betting that Brian Sabean has not ruled out bringing in someone else.  I want to see Sergio Romo, including all of his fashion sense, his eloquent spokesmanship, and his debris scattering, around for a long time.  If that means he doesn't close every day to stay healthy, I'm all for it.

I'm kind of thinking about hitting, too.  We obviously had enough hitting last year, and Brandon Belt should be a greater contributor.  Pablo Sandoval, too, assuming (hoping) he has a healthy year, should give the Giants more rbi.  Buster (the God) Posey should add with a full year.  Hopefully, Hunter Pence, also.  But our addition this year has been Andres Torres.  I like out outfield, and Torres should make a great fourth outfielder, but do we have enough punch?  With our pitching staff, maybe so.  I hope so.  We couldn't stand a 2011-style drop off.  Just thinking.

Friday, February 1, 2013

News (Sort Of)

I have a Yoga Student who is friends with one of the Pitching Coaches in the NY Mets Organization.  Apparently, his Friend is the guy who watched Brian Wilson work out for them.  As has been reported in the media, his Friend (& the Mets) were very unimpressed.  Velocity appears to be the big issue.

I, like Lefty Malo, believe that, despite their protestations otherwise, the Giants will find it irresistible to sign Wilson to a small, incentive-rich deal, so that they can continue to market him as he proceeds with what is looking like a very long injury rehab.  He may not pitch in 2013, but they'll be able to sell lots of action figures, T-shirts, etc..

I'm OK with that - everyone wins, including those 8-year old Kids with their action figures!