Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Game Wrap 8/14/2013: Nationals 6 Giants 5

The Giants rallied late to make it close, but in the end continued their drive for the #4 overall draft pick.  Key Lines:

Brandon Belt- 2 for 5, HR(14).  BA= .273.  One has to wonder what this season might be like if Belt had made the requested adjustments in spring training or last offseason.

Pablo Sandoval- 3 for 4, 2B.  BA= .261.  Maybe Sandoval got the message that he isn't too popular or considered too valuable right now?

Hunter Pence- 2 for 4, SB(18).  BA= .282.  Pence is contributing, but I think he still has only 1 HR since July 1.  Giants need more power than that from him.

Tim Lincecum- 6 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 3 K's, GO/AO= 9/3.  ERA= 4.38.  Timmy gave up a 5 spot in the 4'th inning and just 1 other run in the other 5 innings he pitched.  Pretty much the story of his last 2 seasons.

Barry Zito- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 5.31.  Zito mopped up and almost came away with a W.  How about that?

This game was pretty much another microcosm of the season.  Pitchers pitching well except for 1 bad inning.  When the offense scores 5 runs, the pitchers give up 6.  When the pitchers give up 2 runs the offense scores 1.

If the season ended today, the Giants would have the #6 overall draft pick.


  1. Going to be interesting to see what Pence ends up getting. I think he can be a 5 tool player but just not spectacular in any one. I am afraid we may end up overpaying for him due to lack of other options. I would have liked to kick the tires on Alex Rios. I think he is a similar player to Pence and we could have gotten him cheaper for the next year or so while we sort things out.

    1. Alex Rios? How is he any better than Hunter Pence. At least Pence is consistent. Rios has had years where he barely hit the Mendoza line. Gotta also remember the environment he plays in. Toronto and Chicago are two of the more hitter friendly places in MLB.

    2. Rios wouldn't have been such a bad option. He had part of one season (after getting moved from Tor to Chi) where he hovered at the Mendoza line. His career BA is .278, and he's averaged 15 HR and 20 SB. That alone warrants consideration.

      The real sell, though, is that he's under contract through next year with an option for the following. In those two years, he'll make less than what Pence ends up getting through free agency.


    3. Baggs spitballed that Pence is looking at 3/45MM with an option/buyout in his chat yesterday. I'd be cool with that. Baggs did slip in the joke about avoiding 5/60MM and ex-Phillies... that joke never gets old.

      With the dearth of FAs, the Giants may have to get creative, and that may include shifting Pagan or Pence to different parts of the OF. Pence would be a great LF/6 hole hitter I think.

      Unfortunately Ellsbury will cost the draft pick, and be very expensive, and is a huge risk for decline/injury. But putting him in CF, Pagan in RF and Pence in LF could be a pretty nice solution. Alternatively, putting Belt in LF and keeping Pence in RF could work, if Catcher/1B/3B can be worked on.

      I just don't see a clear "go get em" OF besides hanging onto Pence. Everybody is drooling over Choo, but that's not a solution to the Giants power drought, I doubt he'd hit 10 HRs at PacBell. Just looked up HR tracker, and Choo actually has pretty good oppo power to LF, he would have 11 HRs and be AT&T'd 4 times... Saw Mets fans comping Choo to Jason Bay yesterday.

      You have to realize there is fierce competition for any established hitter. And then the shots in the dark like Cuban Abreu. Teams will throw mad money. Personally I'd be nervous about Choo or Ellsbury, and if they cost draft picks, that would really sour me on them.

    4. Yep, Lucky, you are right, the value in Rios is in the contract situation. He's not the same as Pence but he is similar and if the stars align he can be just as good. He'd be a serviceable relatively reasonable and short term bridge as opposed to what Pence might command. I just don't want us to overpay for Hunter based on what he did before he got to SF.

  2. A thoroughbred needs a good jockey to bring the best of him.

    Why didn't Belt make the changes earlier? - that question will always be asked, not of him, but of him and coaches.

    At the end, it may be that the process, or any process, has its own rhythm and unfolds at its own pace, regardless of the actors/player in it. And the wise people learn to be patient.

    And so the question, in that case, becomes: 'Why did I give as a fan so early?'

    1. It is well documented that the coaches have wanted Belt to stop "wrapping" for a long time. This strikes me as the same argument that if a diabetic patient refuses to stop eating concentrated sweets in their diet or take their medication properly it's the doctor's fault for not communicating it clearly enough, which maybe I am a bit sensitive about.

    2. The relationship between a doctor and a patient is not a life long one like that between a disciple and a master.

      Belt and his coaches are a lot close to the latter than the former.

    3. Well, it could be a life long relationship, I just don't know much about doctors these days. Sometimes, you see different doctors, even to the same office. But more often than not, you spent 5 or 10 minutes and you are out. Good doctors might educate you a bit. You count yourself lucky. Coaches are teachers and are there every game with the student (well, hopefully).

    4. No, it's not you, its them, DrB.

      Very easy to blame management, it seems, even more so for certain players. For some reason, it is hard to understand that the Giants coaches know what they are talking about. But they do: THT did a study on a manager's effect on hitters acquired and found that players joining Bochy managed teams on average added 1 WAR, and that he was among the best in getting more out of hitters. You don't do that unless you know something about hitting that is teachable.

      One story I loved is about Ted Williams first (and I think last) managerial job. He took over and, of course, he loves hitting, so he's working them all through spring and he took a team that wasn't hitting for much and turned them around greatly. Unfortunately, he didn't care about the pitching, didn't pay attention to it, and so they ended up going nowhere again. I think he lasted two years. That shows that a focus on hitting well by a manager will pay off.

      But I don't know how many times I have read that a player is either stubborn or, worse, a lunkhead, who won't change. Manny Burriss is the latest one, with his eye he should have been a better hitter, and he had strong arms, and should have had more power. But it was his failure that seems to have ruined Carney Lansford's, a Giants fan in his youth, experience as the Giants hitting instructor, and make him regret ever joining the Giants.

      Most had a variety of reasons, but Belt's reason at least makes sense: he felt that he's been successful with what he's been doing, so why change? And so far, he's been slightly above average hitter, so that at least is logical to me, though as a lifelong learner, anathema to me. Nobody has all the answers, but over time, you can figure out who at least makes sense, and learn something all the time.

      Luckily, the Giants hitting coach, Sir Bam Bam, chatted up Domonic Brown, and found someone who changed his grip and found almost instant success with it. That dropped the threshold for testing it for Belt enough that he finally yielded to his coaches recommendations. And the success has been so quick that he swears he's going to stick with it now. He claims to feel very comfortable with his swing now, like he was in spring, and vows to keep that feeling.

      But for some reason, even though news like this has been widely circulated among the Giants community, this escapes the notice of some people (even though we even discussed it a number times here) or worse, they ignore it, because they can't believe the player would do that (I've seen that given before by others, since he's a coach's son plus made changes to hit well with us), or whatnot.

      As the very old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. Truer words never said.

    5. Not management.


      What do we mean we would give credit to a manager or a coach when a player achieves his potential he previously didn't achieve under other managers/coaches?

      The talent has always been there.

      So we congratulate the person(s) for being able to reach that player. Maybe the coach/manager said something new. Maybe the coach/management said the same thing other coaches/managers had always said, but somehow the player started to buy into it.

      So, what do we have here?

      It takes both.

      Not just the player...well, not always.

    6. So, to keep it short, I want to repeat the same thing at the top of this discussion - not of him, but of him and the coaches.

      I never said, only of the coaches.

    7. I have been seeing many of my patients for longer than 10 years. Most of my diabetic patients are well controlled and take good care of themselves. A few will openly tell you they do not follow dietary recommendations and have no intention to, even after a frank discussion of the long term consequences of uncontrolled blood sugars. I one time had a diabetic patient tell me that she went over to the A&W every afternoon for a root beer float! I had another tell me she eats Tony the Tiger ever morning for breakfast! Maybe there is some physician out there who could do a better job of communicating than I and get 100% of their patients to eat right, but I haven't met that doc yet. BLSL, do you really think in that situation it is the doc's fault that the patient ends up having complications from their diabetes? Do you really think it is Bochy and Bam-Bam's fault that Belt spurned their pleas to change his batting grip for 2 years? Sorry, but I'm just not buying it.

    8. I don't think it's their fault any more than Belt's fault.

      If a coach can get a player to fulfill his potential, you still give that coach credit.

      That is to say, you give that coach for doing something other coaches couldn't do.

      Now, it maybe this coach is saying something new.

      Or maybe he is saying the same thing, but somehow he gets through to the player, or somehow the player would listen now.

      All this says is that the coach plays a part.

      That's why I say both.

    9. Brandon Belt looked at the lineup card and saw Brett Pill listed as the first baseman. THAT is when he decided maybe he should listen to the coaches. If you want to give Bochy the credit for changing Belt's mind by writing Pill's name in the lineup, to each his own. It took a huge wakeup call like that to get Belt's attention and that is all on Belt.

    10. ....and Belt IS at fault for being stubborn.

    11. If I try to communicate something and my reader does not get it, I tend to blame myself.

      If a neutral observer blames the listener, that's kind of him.

      Perhaps it's fair to say it's both me and my listener, though my first inclination is to blame myself.

      Maybe someone will jump into this conversation and does a better job saying what I am trying to say and I will give him credit for getting the job done.

    12. That's what we talked about at the time - Pill being used by the Giants to light a fire.

      Now if we can just get a 3B alternative... I fear the only wakeup is getting traded for Sando.

      Seen chatter on Brandon Crawford's UZR rating going down, defensively he's not putting up WAR score. Here's a crackpot theory on that: he's got to cover for Pablo so he's shading too far.

      Anyways, I agree: Belt is at fault for being stubborn. And he's admitted it. And the grip thing is settled. As is moving back in the box. All credit to the Gigantes, not snarky bloggers on the interwebz.

    13. BLSF,

      In Belt's case, as in the cases of some of my diabetes patients, it is not a matter of the listener not getting it. They get it! They simply do not want to make the changes that they know need to be made because of something in their life they have chosen to hang onto even when they know there are negative consequences.

    14. Shankbone,

      UZR is well known to be an imperfect measure of defense. If there is a big disparity between the eyeball test and the UZR and if the UZR is out of line with past performances, then it may simply be a sample size anomaly.

      Also, although he makes a lot of spectacular plays, my eye tells me that he is not getting to quite as many balls this year. Whether that's because he is trying to cover for Pablo or just because he has leg fatigue, I don't know, but I've seen some balls get by that I thought he was going to get.

    15. DrB, perhaps we are not using the terms the say way.

      When they 'get' it but don't make the changes, to me, they don't really get it.

      In any case, I want to go back to the top because I am not comfortable with saying we should 'blame' this or that party. I simply said, maybe we should ask the question (why did it take so long to implement the changes) of not just Belt but of them both. I would like to stay from blaming anyone.

      Lastly, (I am trying to reword this a different way), different people communicate the same message differently way - some more effective, some less, some just click with his audience and some without that luck. I believe, the whole thing reduces to this, the teacher plays a part in the outcome as well as the student (no blame here).

    16. We'll have to agree to disagree on this. There is ample documentation that the Giants coaches clearly communicated to Belt both what they wanted him to do and why they wanted him to do it. Any delay in implementing their recommendations is on him.

    17. I get that the teacher plays a part, and some teachers are not good at communicating. You are talking in generalities. I get that.

      Here, it is very specific. Stand back in the box. Change your grip. The message is extremely crystal clear: you are having struggles because of these two issues, change them and you will be a better hitter.

      The Giants coaches have wanted this for a while, Belt admits this, he also admits that he didn't listen to them because of his fear of changing from what had been successful for him up to now. He was stubborn.

      To say in this particular situation that the teacher plays a part is equivalent to blaming the teacher when the student does not implement the lessons because there is no way the message was not conveyed in a way to make it very clear to Belt that his struggles was tied to these changes that the Giants wanted him to make. These specific points of their communication is very clear, not the generics in your scenarios.

      And to say the teacher has played a part of the outcome, and the outcome in this case is failure for the student to change, then yes, you are laying blame on the teacher. Changing the way you describe the situation does not change the fact that when there is a failure like this, blame will be placed on the teacher the way you stated it. Failure leads to "blaming" or if you want to put it in the way you've been writing, the teacher played a part in the student's failure, if that is not blame, I don't know what is.

      Here is what I see. The Giants should get congratulated for identifying what was wrong with Belt and suggesting changes that would and did help him. Bam Bam should be congratulated for continuing to find a way to get it through Belt's head, and for finding the example that got Belt to change (Domonic Brown's endorsement). Bochy should be congratulated for motivating Belt by starting Pill. Belt gets the blame for not at least entertaining the idea of making the changes the Giants suggested. He should have been doing it in spring training when that is the time for players to experiment with things. He gets credit for finally taking that final step and making the changes, and for executing it well by hitting well.

    18. Perhaps it's not what they said, but how they said it.

      But I agree with you. We will have to agree to disagree, between you and me. If another person likes to continue, I will be impolite not to respond that my point is that when it succeeds, we should give credit to both parties and when things don't work out, we look to both of them, together.

  3. zito threw well, so they tossed him out of the waiver wire...and he cleared

    10 days to trade or turn him into a male model

    i need a great baseball mind to please explain to me how the deal between the bosox and the bums ended turning out great for both sides

    although i still believe that the bums will fold in the playoffs

    belt is a headcase and the giants would be smart to float him during the offseason....

    honestly...i dont care if you play well when there is no pressure...


    1. It's better than 'He can't even hit when there is no pressure.'

      There is always something...he just got lucky.

    2. Zito doesn't have to be traded and won't be, clearing the waivers just means they can trade him to any team at any time now, not just the claiming team. He's going to ride out the season cleaning up messes. Or starting new ones.

      The trade that worked out was Hanley. He hit another gear. The Bosox trade is a massive bridge for the Doyers to new talent. RDF best keep that in mind.

      I think the Bums fold fast in the playoffs as well.

    3. What we may be overlooking here with the Bums is their pitching. To me, that's what's getting it done, along with opponents brain cramps like the Mess last night. Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu, Nolasco. That's a pretty formidable group to go to war with in the playoffs. I'll be rooting for them to lose, but not counting on it. Playoffs are a bit of a crapshoot. As we know better than most fans, it's often more about emotion and just having the hot hand. Oh, and pitching!!

    4. The Dodgers have good pitching, but they've been getting great pitching while they've been hot.

      Apr-to-June: 3.81 ERA, 718.2 IP, 704 hits (8.8 H/9), 255 BB (3.2 BB/9), 628 K's (7.9 K/9), 0.95 HR/9, 2.46 K/BB, 38-43
      July-to-now: 2.33 ERA, 360.0 IP, 296 hits (7.4 H/9), 88 BB (2.2 BB/9), 310 K's (7.8 K/9), 0.55 HR/9, 3.52 K/BB, 32-7

      Wow, didn't know that, 32-7 since July started, hard for any team to compete with a historic run like that. Even the Giants in 2010, ran off something like 20-10. And they bumped up their hitting big time too, they averaged 5.0 RS/game in July and August. And the Pythagorean on that was 29 wins, so they were 3 games over their Pythag on top of that.

      Basically the same starters but they added Nolasco, but his ERA, while a great 2.97, is still high for the group. Kershaw even outdid himself, 1.46 ERA and overall 1.88 ERA, great either way. Ryu had a 2.27 ERA. This is Ryu's first season, and he has a 2.91 ERA so far this season. But his second half numbers look good, he upped his K/9 to 8 and dropped his BB/9 from 3 to 1.1, raising his K/BB to 7.0. He's a good one. Greinke 2.48 ERA, pretty low 3.21 ERA overall (second best in career) and 3.73 for his career. Yet his K/BB is the lowest it has been since his early seasons, suggesting some helium . Nolasco has 2.96 ERA and Capuano 4.73 ERA.

      The relievers were even more unreal. Since the ASB, 3 relievers have ERA's under 1, 2 are under 2, 1 (League) is in the low 2's, and Marmol is the low man at 4.00 ERA.

      Starters 2.77 ERA after ASB, Relievers 1.39 ERA. Overall 2.25 ERA.

      Hard to believe that they will all continue being so good, but even if they regress to their first half 3.81 ERA, they still win a lot of games with 5.0 RS/game, which after a longish cold streak (2.7 RS/g over 11 games), they heated back up again. If they regress to their early season levels, they can forget about doing much in the playoffs.

    5. Looking over their lineup, they have a pretty ordinary lineup outside of Hanley and Puig. And Hanley cooled off to 885 in the second half, but then Mark Ellis and Shumaker is suddenly hot, as well as Punto and Ethier. Once these other guys cool off, the offense will be much more ordinary, but with so few time left, they could ride this hot streak into the playoffs.

      But I don't see how they can keep it up into the playoffs, so the decline I've been expecting for the Dodgers for a while now, should at least happen by the time they reach the playoffs. I tip my cap to them, they have continued to play well, when one cools off, another heats up, it is almost like nuclear fusion happening. They have stayed white hot for over 6 weeks now, but can they continue it for another 6 weeks?

      Fangraphs RoS projections show LA going 24-18, 4.14 RS/game, 3.45 RA/game. So that shows the cool off that I've been projecting.

    6. Oh, here is the link:

      And they are 5 games over Pythag with that projected 94-68 W/L, so if there is any regression in the final 42 games, their record would range from 24-18 to 19-24, from 5 wins over to exactly Pythag (of course, Pythag is the theoretical win figure, based on how teams have scored and won/loss previously, and while teams eventually regress to 0, or even, over time, that does not mean it has to happen for LA this season).

    7. I think they just pulled a victory from the jaws of defeat. I imagine that hopes of a shiny crooked 4-10 draft pick will be replaced by a non-protected pick and lots of angst over whether they'll boot it...

  4. FYI, nice article on MLB vast expansion of instant replay:

    This is the death knell for umpires lousy strike zones, won't be too long now, I think.

  5. Wow, was checking out Belt's hot streak and amazingly, in the 12 games since he came back to the lineup, changed, he has been responsible for 17 (12 runs + 9 RBI - 4 HR = 17 runs) runs out of the 32 (yes, only 32!) runs scored in those games, over half the runs scored by the Giants. In other words, their anemic output would be way worse if Belt wasn't producing at all lately.

    Hah, just listening to KNBR, and they are repeating my metric for measuring a functioning offense, scoring at least 4 runs (CSN has been using it for a while too now, as well, I've noticed) and how well the Giants have done when they score at least 4 runs. Given that I'm the only Giants blog that I'm aware of that's been updating this stat for years now, in fact, the only baseball oriented media source to make any notice of the importance of that, it would be nice to be acknowledged but oh well, the 50,000 watt flame throwing station and the Bay Area cable network can steal what they want I suppose (just realized I don't listen to much of KNBR's talk anymore, mostly just Marty on the weekends, though I like Mister T and especially Ray, through which I learned about Buckhorn Grill, great place for tri-tip sandwiches, yum!).