Monday, July 1, 2013

Game Wrap 7/1/2013: Reds 8 Giants 1

A rookie pitcher rushed to the majors and trying to find his footing goes up against a good hitting team in one of the more hitter-friendly ballparks in the country.  The results were predictable.  Mike Kickham's 3'rd MLB start did not go well as the Giants got blown out early.  The game was mercifully completed early due to rain.  Key Lines:

Brandon Belt- 1 for 1, HR(9), BB.  BA= .266.  It always amazes me how polarizing Brandon Belt is to fans on the internet and how irrational both extremes are about him.  On one side, people literally think he is the best hitter on the team and would rather have him in the lineup than Buster Freaking Posey.  On the other side are those who say he is a failure and it's already set in stone that he won't be on the roster next season.

At this point in the season, Belt's season totals are decent, though not outstanding.  His monthly splits are a little more interesting though:

April  .235/.287/.353.  I think we would all agree those are pretty bad.  But, as ogc has repeatedly pointed out, he had a severe gastrointestinal illness at the start of the season and did not regain full strength for at least 2-3 weeks.

May  .266/.363/.506.  Wow!  I did not realize that Belt had slugged >.500 for the month of May!  That is an OPS of .869 which is getting close to elite status if he were to keep it up.

June  .289/.344/.458.  A better BA but lower OBP and SLG and a much lower IsoP.  Still, an OPS of .802 is not terrible.

Throwing out April as an outlier due to the illness, his combined slash line for May/June is .278/.350/.481.  OPS= .831.  That is not at all bad.  In fact, there are just 9 MLB first basemen with more than 200 AB's on the season with a higher OPS!  Even with April stats included, his OPS is #15 for first basemen in MLB.

At some point, the Giants may need to decide whether to move Buster Posey to first base full time.  If and when that happens, I doubt they will let Belt stand in the way.  They will either move Belt to LF or trade him.  That day has not arrived and is unlikely to before next season.  It would be difficult, if not impossible for the Giants to find a replacement for Belt's offense at first base let alone his defense.  I believe Brandon Belt's future with the Giants is alive and well.  Heck, I could even envision him improving his game to the point the Giants would have to find some other position for Buster Posey to move to!

Mike Kickham- 2.2 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 13.94.  Kickham had a 1,2,3 first inning and struck out Joey Votto.  Once the Reds got things going, though, the roof caved in.  Kid has good stuff.  He just isn't ready to handle a good MLB lineup.  Back to Fresno!

With the Loss, amazingly, the Giants did not lose ground to the NL West leading D'Backs who lost their 4'th straight game, this time to the Mets, 5-4 in extra-innings.  The Giants remain in 4'th place, 3 games behind the D'Backs.  The second place Rockies were idle and gained 0.5 games to 1.5 out.  The Padres lost to the Marlins 4-0 to remain in 3'rd place 2.5 games off the pace.  The Last Place Dodgers, who might not be in Last Place much longer, were idle and are now 3.5 games behind the D'Backs and just 0.5 games behind the Giants.

Tim Lincecum takes the mound tomorrow night facing Homer Bailey who so far has not had the breakout season I predicted for him.


  1. doc,

    in any other park and that includes band boxes like houston, the ball belt hit, would be a lazy fly ball for an out...he sux...but will all come to my side sometime next season, when he wont have the excuse of getting the flu...or has he stopped using that one

    kickham wouldnt be up, were it not for the rash of injuries in the the pitching core in fresno...saying that, i hope sabean is paying attention as to why, unless there is another pitcher of equal talent and level, you dont trade pitching for a rental...end of story...i win...and i will beat this dead horse forever and ever...amen

    i also hope that the lure of winning the pathetic west doesnt lead the brain trust into doing something silly...

    in the past, this team was built for the post season....but they are 13 games under 500 on the road and their pitching staff is pretty beat up...not a good predictor for a long run in october

    heard something funny on knbr tonite...a regular who is a dodgers fan called in to talk about how the latrine was rockin this weekend
    im sorry....they still play that god awful boom box drum beat during both d and o...cuz those fans dont rock...too busy playing with beach balls, eating tortillas and dodger dogs and doing the wave...dodgers have talent....however, they, like the halos forgot to get a pen...nice run now...wont last long

    im looking forward to a throwback world series...bucs vs a's....outside of pittsburg and oaktown, i and the crawfords, will be the only people watching

    ps....TRADE FAT BOY

    thank you


    1. Ah Bacci! Those numbers I put up on Belt? They all happened BEFORE the game tonight in The Bandbox. He does not suxx!!! I could have gone on. Go back and look at his slash lines in August and September of last year. Even more reason to count April as an outlier!

      The Giants pitching is in good shape for the future. Look up Wheeler's lines his last 2 starts. Not a whole lot better than Kickham.

    2. The numbers show that right now, Brandon Belt is probably a top 10 MLB OFFENSIVE first baseman. Add in his D and he might be better than that!

    3. DrB, Brandon Belt is not a top 10 MLB first baseman and even if he is is just because there are a lot of mediocre first baseman out there. Stats don't mean everything. Many of his hits are meaningless like yesterday's one. Not to hate on the guy but he will never be an elite first baseman. He is very inconsistent. And about his defense would you rather have him or Fielder on this team. I know who I would rather have. At best he is an inconsistent 270 20 80 rbis kind of guy. Nothing to write about. Just another average major leaguer from the pack.

      Giants fans are obsessed with this guy because he is from the farm and they want him to succeed but the Giants brass are tired of his act always making up excuses. Villalona is waiting on the wings Belt. Soon enough he will be shipped out like Schierholtz.

    4. Villalona is not even hitting in the minors what Belt is hitting in the majors right now so its extremely premature to say that hes ready to take Belt spot. I would bet my money that Belt has a much greater chance of succeeding than Villalona.

    5. I'm not buying the clutch vs non-clutch stuff. There are small differences between hitters in high leverage vs non-high leverage situations, but for all practical purposes THERE IS NO CLUTCH! Stat lines do mean something and right now, Belt is probably a top 10 offensive first baseman. Is that due to the mediocrity of the position across the league? Yes, it probably is, but it doesn't change the fact that Belt is better than 2/3's of the first basemen out there right now.

      Why would you compare Belt to Prince Fielder? Fielder is ranked #6 in MLB in OPS at .845, but also has a career OPS of .925 and a couple of seasons >1.000! Of course I would take Fielder over Belt for and equal price, but I never made the claim that Belt was better or equal to Fielder!

      To say Angel V is waiting in the wings shows a complete misunderstanding of what's going on in the Giants minor leagues. Angel V, at this point, is no more than the longest of longshots. Yes, if he ever gets it all put together, he has a high ceiling. I've said the bat has a chance to be special, but emphasis should be on the word CHANCE. He has a long, long ways to go!

    6. Addendum re. clutch: Belt has had some big hits and Buster Posey has had his meaningless ones. Right now, Buster is going to get more clutch hits than Belt because Buster is a better hitter and is going to get more of both clutch and non-clutch hits.

    7. Typical novice fan stuff: Player X sux because he's not the best player to play that position in the majors.

      A player who has been above average for 2012 and 2013 does not suck, average is actually pretty good for the majors, hence why all sabermetrics valuation methods assign good value to average players. And again, Belt has been above average the past two seasons.

      For those who have missed this: offense in the majors have been down for years now, years. So if you are going to say that most firstbasemen aren't up to snuff, you are missing the fact that most HITTERS are not up to snuff across the entire baseball field, compared to hitters of the 2000's, the Naughts. And really, that don't matter, what matters is where he is in the season he's playing in, else you will see him being compared with, say, Lou Gehrig or Eddie Murphy or Mel Ott. Different eras, different level of competency.

      Luckily, we don't need Belt to be the best, we have Posey, Sandoval, and Pence ahead of him, plus Pagan and Scutaro, and now Crawford.

      Luckily, Belt has shown the skill to be the best, if he can ever get there, he'll be a high average, high walk rate, high HR rate, base stealing defensive firstbaseman, something in the mode of Joey Votto.

      That difference is why Belt will be around until he starts ACTUALLY sucking, while Schierholtz got shipped out. Teams will put up with big talent, and he's got it, and he's been showing it, off and on, hence why fans are impatient with him.

      And this is with him actually being above average, if he was like Matt Williams and really sucking, Matty might not be the beloved former Giant he is today if the internet was as big then as now, fans would have been all over him and shipped him out long before he started bombing for us nicely once he figured things out.

      Mostly same fans, I would bet, as those wanting to ship out Cain long ago too.

  2. As far as Belt's concerned, I think the day-to-day analysis is overdone. His talent and future as a Giant should be discussed after he completes the season. We'll all have a better idea of what he's capable of. We have so many other players that are slumping and/or looked lost...I'd think Belt is a misguided target.

    Also, Doc, you make a good point that the people on each end of the spectrum are off base. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, which happens to be a young first baseman who has shown improvement each month this season, and did the same to end the year in 2012. Oh, and he's projected to hit 18 HR by season's end.


    1. I think that's a key point many are missing: that we have so many other players that aren't doing well. For example, Cain hasn't been the same since his Perfect Game (though July is a good start towards changing that), throwing almost half as many quality games (per PQS methodology) as he was before. If he was at his pre-PG performance level this season, you probably can move 3 losses in 2013 to the win column, making us 41-37, only one game out, instead of 38-40.

      Unfortunately, fans really only look at the seasonal numbers when evaluating players. Hence Belt, who started out really cold because of his flu (had forgotten about that actually!), has been a favorite to beat on, even though he's probably been their 2nd or 3rd best hitte on the team (after Posey natch) since he got healthy again.

      Hence why Guillen was and is still hailed as a big mistake, when he actually contributed greatly to the 2010 Giants making the playoffs, hitting .800 OPS his first six weeks with us, before his neck issues caused him to basically oh-fer the last two weeks, but then other players carried us over the finish line. As the Giants slogan has been beating on us for the last couple of years, we're all in this together, as a team, and he was a valuable contributor to us during those six weeks of good hitting.

  3. Drb,

    I didn't see the game, but you were correct.. I hope they send Kickham down for his sake and be back for a September call-up. These are the lumps that a young pitcher has to take but the Giants are in a win-now mode. Even Zack Wheeler has taken his lumps in 2 out of 3 starts.

    I think their biggest need is another veteran starting pitcher(hopefully not a rental) that they might have to trade for. There are questions about their rotation: Gaudin is coming off the DL, but he's been a relief pitcher for the past 4 seasons. Vogie is not coming back for another 4 weeks. Can Gaudin hold down a rotation spot until Vogie returns?

    Nobody wants to win the Mild Mild West.. K. Gibson had a lot of explaining to do after the Dbacks lost to the Mets in extras. After our friend Cody Ross hit a homer in the top of the 13th to give him a 1 run lead, the Mets hit a 1 out double, then Gibson for some reason orders an intentional walk which put the winning run at 1st base. Matt Harvey then bunts both runners over, and both score on Andrew Brown's single on an 0-2 pitch.. It sounded just as bad as some the Giants games lately!


    1. There is talk about making Kickham a reliever up here. He has been stellar in his first inning or two, then the wheels come off.

      Wheeler's issues in the majors so far is reminiscent of what he did in the Giants farm system before he was shipped off, walking way too many hitters, making his K/BB ratio poor even though he had great K-rates. His struggles while with us is why I wanted him traded over Brown, elite prospect starters don't struggle in Advanced A-ball at age 21. He had apparently turned things around in AA and AAA with the Mets, but his starts so far in the majors remind me of his days with us.

      Of course, Lincecum also had issues like this in his second month with us and recovered, so we will see how Wheeler handle this bump in the road.

      Another reason I've been down on Wheeler is that he seems to be injury prone. John Shea had a blurb in the Chron about how tough he is because he's overcome a lot of injuries, but my take on that is that pitchers who overcome a lot of injuries tend to have shorter careers. Though some do make it, but that's pretty rare, I would think. I mean, he missed a large part of the 2010 season for us, I think due to a hangnail or something with his finger. Shades of Ainsworth.

  4. My take on Belt: He is a decent 1B who does not cost anything. You always need a few guys like him to keep the costs under control. Replacing him with someone like Fielder means saying bye to one of star players. As such, Belt is a success story for our farm system ( and I am glad that we have him) even if he does not improve drastically for the near future. The question is whether he improves enough to retain him once he becomes more expensive. I he does great, we have an excellent, home-grown 1B. If not, too bad, We will thank him for his services, and his contributions for the 12 championship, and move on to the next guy. Belt has earned the chances that he can be better for now. I hope he makes the most of them.

    1. Keiser you make the most sense out of anyone regarding belt. He is cheap and that has value. I stil cannot get over the fact that there are rusty gates at bumgarners ranch that have prettier swings than belt. Hideki irabu has a prettier swig than belt. His swing is uglier than his girlfriend! I was hopin they would have dumpster dove for Adam Lind last year but of course all the nerds here said that was a horrible idea.

    2. Very well said. I agree with this take.

  5. Ha ha! See, all I need to do to get a ton of comments is say something about Brandon Belt!

  6. Brandon Belt- 1 for 1, HR(9), BB

    Did anyone watch the game last night?

    Lots of other things to bitch about.

    ALL I know about the Giants is they are 3 games out.

    1. Totally: don't worry, be happy that we didn't get buried while we've been licking our wounds and getting some key players healthy. Hard to get an offense going when 2.5 of your top 5 hitters are missing (Pagan, but Blanco doing decent OBP) or not performing (I thought Scutaro's back problems was suppose to go away once he got his good shoes evening his legs; Pablo seems to come back cold for 2 weeks, then takes off hitting for power again, we are only into week one of his return, so he should get hot right before the ASB).

      I expect Sandoval to break out soon, and once that happens, our middle lineup will be open for business once more. I think hitters have been pressing with Pagan and Sandoval out. And fans need to remember that when a team loses their leadoff hitter as well as middle lineup hitters, they aren't going to be scoring a not of runs, normally. There is not enough talent so that teams can have a replacement spare part waiting in the minors at all positions.

      On top of that, both Bumgarner and Cain seems to be returning to normal in June, and Lincecum is showing some life as well. And Casilla is returning soon as well, Affeldt hasn't done well recently, but I blame that on using him too much, he seems to be much better when paired off with a good RHP, whether Romo before or Casilla lately. I thought Kontos was ready for that but he's been off this season, hopefully his time in AAA has straightened him out some.

      Plus, 15 home games in July and only 10 road games, and the ASB should give our team more time to heal up and get their heads straight. Lincecum came out last season and dominated for much of the second half. I expect something similar this season, as unlike last year's first half, he's actually been better this season, so he's close to figuring out his issues, I believe.

  7. First, there is talk that Kickham might become the long man out of the bullpen - like old school training for starters - when Gaudin comes back as a starter. He has actually done well in his first inning or two in his starts before the wheels come off.

    Second, I wonder if the Giants might want to think about briefly going with a 6th starter in the next two weeks, as the Giants are in the start of a brutal part of the schedule, they are playing games in 17 straight days, road, then home, then road again, before the ASB. They might want to give the starters an extra day rest somewhere, maybe put in Kickham in the first game of the Mets series at home (to make it easier for him, having already pitched vs. OAK then LAD then CIN all on the road).

    Hear hear on Belt, both extremes should just quiet down while he's doing well since he recovered from his flu aftereffects early on.

  8. Hey, DrB, here I am sitting in Paris at 3:32 am Paris time, waking up to find that after you said that homer Bailey hasn't yet had the breakout season you predicted for him, he has no hit the Giants for seven innings! I am hurriedly posting to break the jinx, but I believe jinx breaking is feeble transatlanticly and in translation. Since I will be here for the next two months, I hope this enfeebling idea is pure myth, or of course that jinx breaking turns out to be wholly unneeded for the Giants.

  9. Camp, way to be working hard on the Giants behalf VERY early your time.

    Homer has taken it through 8 as of now...

    Breaking out the rally cap.

  10. Belt didn't have any hits tonight he totally sucks!