Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Double headed

It is so, so difficult to know what to expect from the Giants.

If you look at simple things, you might think that this would be a great opportunity for the Giants to sweep their double-header against the Chicago Cubs today and run their winning streak to seven in a row, gaining at least another 1/2 game on the Arizona Diamondbacks, possibly 1.5 games.

The Cubs aren't very good -- their offense is competent, but their pitching is horrible. Their best starter, Carlos Zambrano, isn't making an appearance today...however, two poor starting pitchers are.

And well, that's the issue with thinking too positively. When the Giants face a team with horrible pitching, rather than the Giants licking their chops, it's the opposing pitchers thinking, "Well, if I can shut down anybody, it ought to be these guys."

But if for no other reason, it's a chance to see Ryan Vogelsong try to extend his dominant streak, and Barry Zito trying to establish himself in his first major league start after coming off the DL.

And, who knows? Maybe the Giants will mess around and score.


UPDATE: It's pretty hilarious that I wrote the above, forgot to publish it, and then peeked at the boxscore and saw the Giants have scored 11 runs in 5 innings.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


First of all, Matt Cain's pitching has been a thing of beauty in June.

(yes, I'm ignoring the June 14th game at Arizona, mostly because I feel like it)

Second of all, good God is it hard to watch this team hit. Or, I should say, watch their plate appearances, since "hit" is a term loosely used with this club.

I retain the impression that certain players are very, very due to heat up -- whether it's Pablo Sandoval settling in after coming back from injury, Andres Torres going on one of his extra-base hit binges, or Aubrey Huff simply being competent for a stretch -- but mostly it's because this is by far the worst hitting team I've ever watched.

The worst team OPS by a Giants team in the last 10 years is .699, and the 2011 Giants are at .658. I guess it's of small consolation that there are several teams that are in that vicinity in the NL, but of those, only the Pittsburgh Pirates are in contention.

(did I just say that? Pirates in contention?)

So, if for no other reason, I'm thinking the Giants are going to score more consistently soon, basically because it's actually pretty difficult to be this horrible at the plate over an entire season.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Remember what I said? Hahaha....I was joking.

I said some several days ago that it was possible that Ryan Vogelsong could be the Giants biggest trading chip, depending on which team came a-calling -- especially teams looking to make a World Series run in 2011. I also said other stuff.

Well, I'm changing one thing and saying something else: 1) there is no doubt he's the biggest trading chip to teams looking to make a World Series run in 2011, and 2) I don't think the Giants can afford to trade him.

The rotation this year has been good, but it's been a bit of a mixed bag -- Tim Lincecum's recent struggles are well-documented, Matt Cain's had a couple of stinkers, Madison Bumgarner has had his stinkers, too (and...well, a stinkBOMB the other day), and Jonathan Sanchez has been trying to redefine the term "powerwalking".

But Vogelsong? Inconsistency? Apparently that's not in his lexicon, unless you're silly enough to look at the rest of his career stats in misguided confusion when comparing it to his 2011 stats.

He's also the reason the Giants are only 1/2 a game out of first.

I was quite unconvinced he would continue to be this good until his recent game vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks. Now, he took a no-decision in that game and the Giants lost, but that's not the point -- he pitched against a good offensive team in a hitter's ballpark, and he held them to two runs over six innings.

At that point, I became convinced. I'm not sure what's changed for him, exactly, but it's quite easy to see that he passes the "eye" test. His games are inarguably well-pitched. He strikes out a decent amount of hitters, and walks very few. Opposing hitters do not square him up often whatsoever, and are running a paltry .571 OPS against.

If he qualified to be counted in league-leading stats (which he should with his next start), he'd instantly lead the NL in ERA, be tied for 6th in WHIP, and tied for 3rd in OPS against.

It's easy to say he won't keep this up, because really, each season there's only a few pitchers that put up those kinds of numbers, period, and he would stand a better chance at it if he was more of a strikeout pitcher. However, that being said, we're at a point now with it where I believe it's time to set aside things like Law of Averages, historical precedents, and other, unimportant things that are usually important, and just...

...enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It doesn't get any simpler than this

My favorite teams are: 1a) the Kansas City Royals, and 1b) the San Francisco Giants.

Today, a series starts between the Royals, last place in the AL Central, and the Arizona Diamondbacks, 2nd place in the NL West.

Another series starts between the Giants, 1st place in the NL West, and the Minnesota Twins, 4th place in the AL Central.

I'd like the Royals to not be in last place. I'd like the Giants to remain in 1st place.

Okay boys, just head out there and sweep 'em. G'head. You can do it. Never mind that the Diamondbacks look genuinely decent, and thus are better than the Royals. Never mind that the Twins are red-hot, and have been playing much better than the Giants lately.

Do it for me, but mostly, do it for yoursel...ah, screw it. Do it for me, damnit.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

No good reason to feel this way, but..

It almost feels like the rest of the Giants' hitting incompetence so far this season is an anchor, dragging down Pablo Sandoval's OPS lower, and lower...

"C'mon, Pablo! Join the rest of us in sub .800 OPS land! Look! The Oakland A's are there, too!"

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What to do?

Ryan Vogelsong will take the hill tonight vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks. To me, this is an interesting start for "Voggy", as he's called, moreso than his other starts because this will be against a high-scoring team in a hitter's friendly ballpark.

If he manages to throw another gem, the Giants are really going to start to be in a bind with him. A good bind to be in, but a bind nonetheless. For the very short term, the Giants have made the decision that he's simply pitching too well to replace in the rotation with Barry Zito when Zito returns.

For the longer term -- longer as in the next month and change -- what are the Giants to do with him? Teams that want starting pitching for a run at the postseason this year are going to really want Vogelsong -- contracts don't get any friendlier than "minimum", and Vogelsong hasn't been just good, he's been very good.

Furthermore, while at this point the Giants might be more amenable to unloading Jonathan Sanchez, I'm thinking most teams would rather have Vogelsong if they're trying to address their needs for just 2011. I'm sure Sanchez will draw some interest, but 50 walks in 80 innings are going to scare off most teams, I think.

I'm imagining it will come down to what the Giants might be able to get -- they'd be looking for offensive help, of course, but it's difficult to figure out what position any bat would occupy. Short-term help at catcher would be a definite...not sure how often Pablo Sandoval really would catch, but I'm thinking the Giants would want someone they could slot there permanently for 2011 so Panda can slot permanently back at 3rd base.

Shortstop? Well, yes -- but I'm imagining that the New York Mets will be looking for multiple players in return for someone like Jose Reyes, and multiple young players, at that. I'd love a Sanchez and Brandon Crawford for Reyes deal, but I'm just doubtful the Mets would go for something like that.

Beyond that, things are either crowded or muddled by injuries. If the Giants have a chance to get a good-hitting corner outfielder they need to go for it, but that would necessitate some hard decisions -- they've hung onto just about everyone they could from last year's World Series run, but it's a simple fact the outfield is too crowded with guys who just aren't everyday players.

Beyond Andres Torres and Cody Ross, the other three should be viewed as expendable -- again, only if the Giants have a chance at a legitimately good-hitting corner outfielder. Otherwise, they may as well continue to play musical outfield chairs.

Rambling aside, I'm thinking it will really come down to what the Giants can get for Vogelsong, because if he continues to pitch this well, the best move may very well be to not make a move at all -- crowded starting rotation be damned.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Brian Wilson, purveyor of fine pitching

On April 25th, Brian Wilson had a 9.82 ERA -- the result of a few poor early-season outings, a bit of which could have been the result of him shaking off the last vestiges of the oblique injury he returned from on April 6th.

Since that time, he's given up one earned run in 22 appearances.

His WHIP isn't impressive at all at 1.37, and his strikeout rate is down. He's given up quite a few walks, too, which adds up to him having a k/bb ratio of 1.94, which again, isn't impressive.

So how is he doing it to this point? Well, the Beard might walk you, and you might even get a hit off of him. But you know what you're not doing? Getting an extra-base hit. Of the 127 plate apperances against Wilson, hitters have went 25-for-111 with...

Two doubles, zero triples, and zero home runs. Two doubles. I mean, heck, Jonathan Sanchez has four doubles this year by himself in 27 plate appearances.

He's not having as dominant a season as 2010, but he's still finding a way to get it done. This particular way won't last -- bad luck and law of averages will see to it somebody eventually touches him up for a few more doubles and a couple of home runs -- but B-Dub is still shutting them down.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's pretty close

Close to gouge-my-eyes-out-in-frustration-with-the-offense, that is.

While the Giants have had some unfortunate injury situations, the way things are shaping up, this will be a very simple period leading up to the trading deadline for Brian Sabean.

Get bats, Brian.

And here's the deal -- should things stay about as they are, he will also need to consider getting bats at the expense of just about everyone on the roster.

Yes, there are untouchables, but if a team comes knocking on Sabes door desperate for starting pitching and wants to talk Jonathan Sanchez or Ryan Vogelsong, he needs to listen. The bullpen should be just about totally expendable, with the exception of Brian Wilson and...possibly...Sergio Romo (Romo, I'm sure, will have a few teams thinking he could close for them, and that could lead to a decent haul in return).

As far as position players, well, many of them are currently the problem, of course, so I'm not sure how much the SF GM could do in trade with them, if anything.

Regardless, while it's great the Giants have managed to put themselves in 1st place, we have to realize that repeating as World Series Champs in the same fashion as last year is unlikely -- they need offense, and they'll have to give up some pitching to get it. Their lead in the NL West is tenuous, if for no other reason than that they're always going to be a batch of bad luck away from a losing streak, and just won't be able to separate from the other teams in the division with how they're currently comprised.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Stupidly Obvious

I will say this...when a team is willing to intentionally walk Aaron Rowand to get to someone, and that someone isn't a pitcher...well, that says quite a bit about that someone's inability to hit.

Hello, Chris Stewart.

At times like this, though, I remind myself that as horrid a hitter as Stewart is, he's still got more hitting talent in the last joint of his pinkie finger than I could dream of having in 6 lifetimes.

Still, though...ugh.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Okay, I'm back now

After spending a couple of weeks in Oregon for work, my inner outdoorsman is now satisfied, and I should have time to write again.

It would also seem I'm way overdue to say Miguel Tejada is done, and get rid of him as soon as possible -- say, when Pablo Sandoval comes back.

I don't really know what Brian Sabean will do, of course, and that's not good -- I think this is just about as simple of a decision as things get in baseball. Tejada is horrible, he's only on a one-year contract, and at this point it's essentially a sunk cost.

Mike Fontenot won't be far behind Panda, so it'll really come down to three players: Tejada, Manny Burriss, and Brandon Crawford.

Crawford is busy making sure it won't be him who will be off the roster -- some timely hitting, some pop in his bat, drawing walks, and playing good defense at shortstop is making sure of that. In other words, things Tejada hasn't done all season. Burriss can play all of the defensive positions Tejada can, can play them a bit better, has even played a game in the outfield, and is more valuable on the bases with his speed.

No brainer, Brian.

Pat Burrell is also done. Not done in a done-with-baseball kind of sense, but being the Pat Burrell he used to be isn't going to happen. He's basically become a Matt Stairs/Jason Giambi kind of player. Pinch-hit him late in games, let him swing for the fences or draw a walk...if he gets on, pinch-run for him.

Coming up soon as well will be the Barry Zito/Ryan Vogelsong decision -- again, I don't know what will be done, here, but in terms of the Giants trying to stay on top in the NL West, it's also a no-brainer. Vogelsong hasn't just been good, he's been very, very good, and even before Zito had his odd injury, Zito wasn't very good in his limited time in 2011.

So...within these next couple of weeks, a few "tough" decisions that really shouldn't be tough at all, including what they'll do with Brandon Belt and Darren Ford when they come off the DL.