Friday, May 20, 2011

Looketh not, if thou art faint of heart

Miguel Tejada went 2-4 in last night's game, which puts him at 7-16 in his last four games. This is good, especially considering how horrible he had been in May prior to this little stretch. But while it's wonderful to see him above the Mendoza line again, the composition of his hits aren't exactly impressive: 1 double, 6 singles.

If you're looking for a sign that Miggy is breaking out of his slump, I don't think you've seen it quite yet. He's been due a little good BABIP luck for a while (his recent streak has brought him to a .235 BABIP), and this recent collection of hits could be his bad luck evening out a bit.

But any real signs that he's turning it around would be in the following categories:
  • More walks. Miggy has never been an on-base machine or anything, but 6 walks in 155 plate appearances is throw-up-in-my-mouth-a-little territory. The only time in his career he was this bad at drawing a walk was in Houston (2008 & 2009), but there he was hitting for decent-to-good average, so at least his on-base % was over .300. But this will only get better if Miggy sees...
  • More pitches. The last time Miggy was this impatient at the plate was...well, just last year during his time with Baltimore, which saw him perform poorly enough to be traded for a AA pitcher. Seeing only 3.3 pitches per plate appearance isn't giving yourself much chance to draw a walk or see a pitch in your hitting zone.
  • More power. Miggy has had essentially no power this year. He's hit just one HR and 7 doubles, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think those doubles have been anything other than line, none of them have been the result of balls hit into the gaps. His IsoP, at just .067, is easily the worst of his career.
  • More fly balls. Miggy's g/f ratio is 1.18, which isn't a huge deal in and of itself, but it is his highest ratio of ground balls to fly balls hit in his career -- for most of his career he's been under 1.00.
Any of those could be signs of a declining, aging player, but all four at once is a sign of a player that is pretty much finished. His line drive % is 12.8, which is absolutely horrible, and really takes away much of the bad luck BABIP excuse -- if he isn't hitting many line drives, we can't really expect much progression to the mean for his BABIP.

I'll continue to have my fingers crossed, but I'm just wondering what contingency plan Brian Sabean has if Tejada keeps this up well into June...and around the time Pablo Sandoval might return.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Was that...offense?

*rubs eyes*

Alright, so here's the deal...I'm just going to call last night pivotal. Not for any reason to do with the standings, although the Giants did regain first place with their win.

I'm going to call it pivotal because of injuries -- two of them, Mark DeRosa and Aaron Rowand, will be especially interesting. I would much rather they not be injured seriously, but if indeed they are injured enough to miss time or even hit the DL, what the Giants do after that will be the interesting part.

First off, DeRosa is done. Time and time again last season, I heard many different things about how DeRosa was helping to provide clubhouse leadership and keep things loose, and considering the Giants won the World Series, that can't be disregarded. I also have heard the same things about him this year, too.

But while you can't put a price tag on such things, I'm going to go out on a limb and say those things aren't worth $12 million over two years. Nor is a sub .200 batting average w/ no power while mostly playing 3rd base -- a position which traditionally should provide some pop.

(and as I'm typing this, they just announced DeRosa will indeed hit the DL)

So, as tough as it is, the business side of baseball needs to kick in, here, and DeRosa needs to be waived. I tend to think that his wrist affected him even while he was playing, and the Giants just can't count on it letting him use his full ability at any point this season. This should mean more starts for Mike Fontenot -- still struggling some with the batting average, but he's still contributing plenty via walks and by hitting for extra bases when he does get a hit. I'm also more confident with Fontenot at SS rather than Miguel Tejada right now.

As far as Rowand...well, I've said enough negative things about him. Suffice it to say, though, that if he hits the DL, it'll should mean more playing time for Pat Burrell and, hopefully, Nate Schierholtz.

While injuries are the last thing I wish upon any player, the fact is that Schierholtz, Burrell, and Fontenot have more to contribute overall than DeRosa and Rowand, and this should help the team's chances for success going forward.

Other tings, mon:
  • Cody Ross looks comfortable at the plate, now, whereas in April he looked like he was pressing to help the team right away. His May slashline: .306/.405/.528
  • Hey, another two hit-day for Miggy -- three cheers for muscle memory
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to counting the days until Pablo Sandoval's return.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fun while it lasted, huh?

Aaron Rowand in the month of May: 18 k's in 46 pa's, which means he's striking out once every 2.6 plate apperances.

(UPDATE: With his silver sombrero today, it's 21 k's in 50 pa's, so now it's a strikeout every 2.4 plate appearances in May, or 42% of the time. C'mon, Bruce Bochy, sit this guy.)

That, ladies and gents, is smelly. The only issue in replacing him? Pat Burrell isn't exactly lighting it up offensively, although he's found ways to contribute via the longball and walks...and then, of course, there's his water-buffalo-ness in left field to worry about.

There is, however, one option the Giants have -- one only spoken of in dark whispers in dark alleys on the darkest of nights when the city lights are dark and everyone is in the dark eating dark chocolate and looking at Alvin Dark's stats...

Bring back Brandon Belt. It's not only a cool idea, it's alliterative, too.

This is why they're having him play the outfield in Fresno, right? Brian Sabean made a smart move -- he's seen Aubrey Huff play the outfield like Mike Tyson plays the role of Bobby Brown (badly, in case you're too scared to click that link...and I wouldn't blame you, either). He knows Rowand would be a very good choice in LF if only the NL would hurry up and create the Designated Fielder position. He wouldn't mind Burrell if it weren't for him being so likely to whiff on both breaking balls and line drives hit to either side of him...

Hence, Sabean's clever move in grooming Belt to play a corner outfield position of some sort so that he can come back and immediately have a spot to play every day. At least, that's what I assume the plan was. But when would that happen?

Belt's slashline in Fresno is currently .388/.533./.567 -- maybe Sabean isn't impressed and wants Belt to duplicate Eric Hosmer's .439/.525/.583 before recalling him? C'mon, Brandon...just a few more singles, you slacker.

One would also wonder what the subsequent move would be in regards to the outfielders currently on the big league roster -- Rowand would be a candidate to be waived, although there'd be the small matter of the Giants eating $20+ million in salary. Nate Schierholtz is always brought up in trade discussions, but although he's having a very good year in limited duty, there would be the obstacle of him not being worth much in a trade.

And then there's Darren Ford -- as great of a story as he is, to me this seems like the move the Giants would make. It would allow them to disillusion themselves into thinking that Rowand can still contribute (although sadly, Rowand can still easily outhit Ford), and to keep Schierholtz, even though it would mean that his appearances would mostly be limited to left-handed pinch-hitting duty and late-inning defensive replacements in RF...again.

And while we're lamenting over Rowand's contract, we may as well lament some more over Miguel Tejada's and...Mark DeRosa's.

We are still basking in the 2010 World Series victory, sure, and a ton of that credit goes to Sabean for the roster moves/tweaks he made last season, but that doesn't mean we have to ignore the fact that he's paying about $44 million to those three and Barry Zito in 2011 -- or roughly around 36% of the team's total payroll.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Were you nervous? Yeah, me neither

I'm laughing quite a bit at the similarities between my two favorite teams, the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants, who both won 4-3 games last night.

The results speak for themselves. Observe:
  • One-run games: Royals - 15 total, 10-5 record, Giants - 14 total, 11-3 record
  • Overall record: Royals - 19-17, Giants - 20-16
  • Big-time 1B prospects who hit their 1st major league HR against teams I hate:Royals - Eric Hosmer (vs. Yankees), Giants - Brandon Belt (vs. Dodgers)
  • Stupidly fast pinch-running, base-stealing, all-defense, close game-changing CF: Royals - Jerrod Dyson, Giants - Darren Ford
  • Home runs that can get wet: Royals - Water Spectacular, Giants - McCovey Cove
  • Two-letter city nicknames, six-letter team nicknames: KC Royals, SF Giants
  • ...
  • Alright, now I'm just kind of reaching.
How each team got to those results, of course, was very different.

It is stupidly nice to have Andres Torres back -- without him, the Giants are a significantly less potent offensive team.

Also, I propose a rule for Bruce Bochy: to play regularly, your OPS must be higher than Jonathan Sanchez's, currently at .624.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ah, nothing like the smell of doubt and despair...

At least, when it's coming from the Colorado Rockies.

Although the Giants weren't the first to put a hitch in the Rockies' get-along, they certainly made it into a full-blown limp.

Not a pimp limp, either.

But if we look closer at the Rockies recent schedule, they really haven't been right since the Giants Tonya Harding'd them back in mid-April. Since the time the Giants rolled into Denver and took 2 of 3, the Rockies record is a rather pedestrian and unimpressive 6-11. Since they took the rubber match game of that Giants series 10-2, they've only managed to score more than 5 runs one time...and they scored 6 runs in that game.

Sometimes the Rockies' losing ways confound me more than their win streaks.

Now the Giants play the Arizona Diamonbacks, who have remained competitive to this point and haven't yet gone gentle into that good night.

Regardless of the issues the Giants have had with injury and uneven performances from most of their roster, I think we have to be happy that they've managed to negotiate it and still have a winning record*.

*essentially this means I just don't have anything new to complain about

Thursday, May 5, 2011

One competitor fading early, with little hope on the horizon ...

I haven't really reported from the enemy front, but it's not looking like 2011 is going to be the year of the Dodgers. Anyone surprised, raise your hand.

(that's a cricket)

Consider:Long story short ... as players are hitting the DL, the horses aren't there to back them up. With several positions making Hardball Talk's list of worst offensive production by position (and we can't blame injuries for deficient performances from 1B, catcher ... really, the Dodgers have four positions producing less of an OPS than the Astros' pitchers?!?). Start thinking about 2012 and how much that group led by Magic Johnson, Steve Garvey or Mark Cuban will want to spend on a key free agent.

Recipe for disaster

Miguel Tejada
You will need:
  • 1 video clip of Tejada hitting (2011) -- Doesn't matter when -- even when he gets a hit, it tends to look bad.
  • 2 video clips of Tejada fielding (2011) -- The first is usually enough, but you will probably need the 2nd one to prove to yourself that he really looks that immobile and slow
  • 1 Tejada double -- He will do that silly "spotlight" gesture and annoy you
  • 3 Tejada post-non-productive out -- he'll toss his helmet, slam his bat into the turf, smack the rail on the way into the dugout...he'll let you know, in some way, that making an out wasn't what he intended to do, in case you weren't sure. And he'll do it almost every time. And annoy you.
  • Medium Saucepan
You may be able to get all of the ingredients for this recipe in one game...and before you ask, yes, there are medium saucepans available at the game. You may have to break into a few tailgate-equipped SUV's to get one, but they can be had.

Once you have what you need, just mix everything together in the saucepan under low heat. Caution: never use high heat, because any recipe with Tejada can't handle the high heat.

Simmer for about 3 hours, since that's about how long you have to simmer while watching a Giants game with Tejada in it. While simmering, add in expletives to taste.

When it's finished...and by the way, anything made with Tejada in 2011 is finished, trust me...then put it on a paper plate, and stick a fork in it!
Warning: putting anything made with Tejada in 2011 on something that isn't disposable is...well, a waste. Sure, sure, you paid a price for it that dictates the finest of China, but no matter how you prepare the Tejada, it always comes out overcooked. You shouldn't have bought it in the first place.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Command & Conquer

I was looking at Jonathan Sanchez's game log, because it just seemed to me that each time he went out to pitch, there was a sameness to his starts:








Easy enough to see...his starts have all finished more or less within an inning of each other. At either the start of the 6th or 7th inning, he's done. He uses so many pitches either striking people out or walking them, it's hard to let him continue out of fear that he's gassed, or fear that he'll somehow figure out to issue four walks in only two plate appearances*.

This is hardly anything new -- these starts best represent who Sanchez is as a pitcher. Still though, it starts to get odd after a while that he doesn't have a more extreme start in there yet; one where he puts it all together and takes past the 7th inning, or one where he completely unravels and and gets pulled after 3 or 4 innings.

It's still early, of course, but Sanchez's numbers are either impressive or alarming, depending on where one's eyes wander on his stat page:
  • K/9 - 10.91, highest strikeout rate of his career
  • BB/9 - 5.45, highest walk rate of his career
  • HR/9 - 0.27, lowest HR rate of his career
  • OPS Against - .607, lowest of his career
  • OBP - .091, lowest of his career**
Six starts aren't anything to base many conclusions on, if any, but one of two things is bound to happen soon: 1) either all those walks are going to catch up with him and he's going to put out a stinker, or 2) he's going to get it under control and he's going to throw a gem.

*don't put it past him...the man's a world champion, you know
**alright, so that isn't alarming at all, but I needed something else for shock value, and besides, you should've seen the looks on your faces as you tried to figure out how I was going to make Sanchez's hitting stats relevant

Monday, May 2, 2011

A sign of Desperation

I can't watch today's game, so I went to take a peek at the boxscore. Unsurprisingly, it was a 0-0 tie. Besides noticing that the Giants only had one hit when I looked (and Aaron Rowand got his 2nd one as I'm typing this), I noticed a curious thing below that said:

S: F Sanchez

I'm going to have to verify this, but I'm going to go with what I think I'm seeing here -- Rowand led off the game with a double, and while still in the first inning, he was sacrificed to 3rd by Freddy Sanchez?

Is that what things have come to already, that Bruce Bochy feels he should essentially sabotage his team's chances at a big inning and go for a single run at the beginning of a game?

Let's see what we have here:
  1. Giants having a ton of difficulty scoring
  2. Bruce Bochy not having much confidence that his team can put up a crooked number
#1 is obviously true, and if #2 is, also -- Bochy thinking really is the team doesn't have much chance to score in bunches right now -- I don't blame him.

But here's the deal...if you don't think the team can get the hits necessary to put up a big inning, what faith do you have that the single run you're going for in the first inning is going to hold up? It usually takes more than one run to win a ballgame the vast majority of the time, which is precisely why you this shouldn't be done in the 1st inning of a ballgame...while the entire game is an unknown, the objective to be to score as much as possible, and giving away outs in the first inning is in direct contrast to that.

Plus, there's never a guarantee the sacrifice will work, and of course no guarantee you'll score that one run anway...which is exactly what ended up happening.

Hey, it's not to say a team has never put up a crooked number when sacrificing in the same inning, either, but it's just a lot less likely when you give up outs. The Giants are making enough outs on their own without Bochy making more for them.