Monday, September 30, 2013

Thoughts on Barry Zito

There are many ways to look at a baseball contract and a player's value.  For the purpose of this post, I am going to simply stipulate that most baseball contracts are determined by a player's WAR record and projection and by that standard, Barry Zito's contract was very bad.  Instead, I am going to focus on some other aspects of Barry Zito's tenure as a San Francisco Giant and try to show that his contract was not the Apocalypse of the Giants it has been made out to be.  Before I dive into it, I would also like to thank Shankbone and his terrific blog You Gotta Like These Kids, linked to the left, for doing the heavy lifting and posting a lot of the stats I am going to use in this post.

First of all, there are intangibles.  Now, I would be the first to agree that "intangibles" are no reason for pay a ballplayer $126 M, but they are not nothing either.  For all the disappointment and frustration heaped on Zito, especially in the first few years of the contract when it looked like the Giants would be paying him forever and his contract would be the barrier to countless potential championships, Zito showed up for work every single day and with a good attitude.  Even when he suffered the ultimate indignity of being left off the postseason roster in 2010, he did not complain.  Here is where you get the added benefit of that intangible.  If the guy who is being paid $126 M doesn't complain about being left off the playoff roster, then what grounds does anyone have to gripe about their situation?  Who else thinks their situation is more important than the needs of the team?  For the remaining future of the franchise, any player who thinks they have a gripe will be pointed to Barry Zito in 2010.  Nobody is bigger or more important than the team!

In a similar vein, his Strikeouts for Troops charity was a stroke of genius and represented the Giants organization in a tremendously positive light.  The Giants don't just have a fanbase.  They have built a fan community, and the whole vibe of the charity was one of community and taking care of our own.  It dovetailed right into the way the Giants stepped up for Brian Stow and his family.  What other team in sports is more embedded in their community than the Giants are right now?

On to some stats.  Everyone said or thought in the early years of the Zito contract, that it would be an "albatross" contract.  "Albatross" meant that the cost of his contract would prevent other, better, players from coming to the Giants and thus shut the door on any possibility of a championship during the term of the contract.  Whether Zito's contract prevented other, better players from coming to the Giants, we will never know.  We do know that the Giants won the only two championships in their 55 years in San Francisco during his contract.  It also did not prevent them from acquiring and retaining homegrown talents like Matt Cain, Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Pablo Sandoval or for trading for and keeping an expensive player like Hunter Pence.

We also know that Barry Zito contributed to those two championships.  In fact, the Giants probably would not have won either of them without Barry Zito!  The lasting image most people have of Barry Zito and the 2010 postseason of of him sitting quietly in the dugout, bundled up in his jacket.  One could only imagine what was going through his mind, but he never once complained so far as anyone has been able to dig up.  What a lot of people forget is that before his game collapsed down the stretch, he pitched 19 Quality Starts that season with the Giants winning many of them.  Again, we will never know if some other player or combination of players who the Giants might have acquired along the way instead of Barry Zito might have won more games for the Giants, but I'm quite convinced that without him and with a replacement player in his stead, the Giants would not have so much as reached the playoffs, let alone win the World Series!

As for 2012, I don't think there is much question about the contribution Zito made to that team.  From his first start of the season in Colorado to his string of 15 starts in which the Giants won to his amazing performances in the postseason, well, the Giants simply would not have won it without him.  I cannot think of any reasonable alternative player or players who would have made it any better, and it's tough to see anyone doing it better.  Championships are never won by a single player alone, but there are always players you would not have won without.  Barry Zito was one of those players in 2012.  The Giants, quite simply, owe their 2012 Championship Trophy to Barry Zito!

There are a lot of teams out there who would gladly pay a player $126 M if they knew that player would bring them a single World Series Championship.  Barry Zito definitely did that and contributed to a 2'nd!

Lastly, whether you believe in God or the baseball gods or a higher power or simply The Fates, life often works in strange and unexpected ways.  What if Barry Zito had come in and won the Cy Young Award in his first couple of seasons with the Giants?  Would it have been enough to win the World Series given his supporting cast?  Probably not!  Would it have been enough to prevent the Giants from drafting Buster Posey in 2008?  Quite possibly!  Would the Giants have won the World Series in 2010 and 2012 without Buster Posey?  Probably not!

You know, maybe Dave Cameron is right!  Maybe there really is pixie dust in the air in San Francisco!  Maybe there is something in the water!  Would I do it all again if I was in Brian Sabean's shoes? Does this make me want to be less analytical about current and future free agent signings and trades?  No  it doesn't.  In  a different time and place, that wonderful chain of events would not happen again!  You cannot plan Magic or Miracles and you can't outguess The Fates.  What you can do, though, is understand that there are more ways of measuring the outcome of a contract than by it's WAR score.

Barry Zito's contract was bad, but as the old expression I grew up with said, all things worked together for good in the end.  He's been a good Giant!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Game Wrap 9/29/2013: Giants 7 Padres 6

The Giants came from behind in a fashion that conjured up memories of last seasons playoff run, ending it, fittingly, with a walkoff hit by Hunter Pence to send everybody into the offseason on a positive note.  Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco- 0 for 2, 2 BB, SB(14).  BA= .265.  Blanco had to be helped off the field after a collision with Angel Pagan on a ball hit into the gap in the 8'th inning.  Blanco ended up with a pretty decent season.  Hope he's back next a reserve OF.

Francisco Peguero- 1 for 1, HR(1).  BA= .207.  Peguero would not have even gotten in the game had it not been for Blanco's injury. He ended up hitting the game-tying HR off a pretty good MLB closer, Huston Street.

Tony Abreu- 2 for 5, 2B.  BA= .268.  Abreu hit .390 over his last 10 games.  I don't think you can count on him to stay healthy as a starter, but he is a very dangerous player when healthy.  I would think he is well worth keeping around.  Lots of potential reserve players to sort through this offseason and some very tough choices.

Brandon Belt- 2 for 3, 2 2B, BB, HBP.  BA= .289.  Huge finish to the season for Belt.  Can he carry it over into next year for a true breakout?

Hunter Pence- 2 for 5.  BA= .283.  I think Dave Flemming was right in his postgame comments.  This was a statement game for Hunter Pence and set a tone for next year.  It was like, this is the guy you just signed up for the  next 5 years.  Here's what he's going to give you!

Pablo Sandoval- 2 for 4.  BA= .278.  Pablo ends the season on a positive note.  He ended up hitting .294 for the second half.  Let's see what he can do in his walk year.

Brandon Crawford- 0 for 2.  BA= .248.  Brandon Crawford left the game with an oblique strain.  He struggled down the stretch.  One thing I noticed in the last couple of games is he has fallen back into a bad habit he's had in the past.  He lets the bat drift down until it rests on his shoulder then brings it up as the pitcher is delivering the pitch.  He's not getting it up in time and it's making him late on fastballs and leaves him no time to adjust to different locations and speeds.  Get that bat up there, Brandon!

Guillermo Moscoso- 4.1 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 5.10.  Moscoso came out like he was going to pitch a shutout, striking out the first 2 batters and getting the 3'rd on a weak grounder.  He gradually lost command as the game progressed and by the 5'th inning he was clearly gassed.  He actually pitched much better than the line indicates as he was robbed of a called third strike that would have been out #2 in the 5'th.  He left the game with the bases loaded and Dunning came in and served up a grand slam HR to Jedd Gyorko.

Heath Hembree- 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 0.00.  Hembree finishes with 7.2 shutout innings in 9 appearances.  I think it's safe to say a roster spot is his to lose next spring.

Barry Zito- 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 5.74.  In what was probably the final batter of his Giants career, Zito face Mark Kotsay in the final AB of his career.  Zito got the best of that matchup and several ovations from the fans.

The Giants finish the season tied with the Padres for 3'rd place in the NL West.  After tie-breakers and compensation picks come into play, they will have the 14'th pick in the 2014 draft unless they sign a free agent who receives a qualifying offer.

Fantasy Focus: Savvy Vets Then and Now

My Savvy Vets fantasy baseball team was not able to defend it's Championship this year finishing 5'th in the regular season and 5'th after the playoffs.  My strategy of punting Saves and maximizing Wins and K's while targeting pitchers with low WHIP's worked like a dream as I won 3-4 pitching categories every week.  The offense  never got untracked as my most expensive player, Albert Pujols, got off to another agonizingly slow start and ended up on the DL.  Two other key offensive players, Jason Heyward and Bryce Harper had injury issues.  I ended up feeling lucky if I won even 1 offensive category in a given week.  Unlike 2012, when I found some real offensive gems on the waiver wire, I was not able to find adequate replacements this year.

Just for review, here is the team I drafted with $ auction cost and season stats with brief discussion:

1.  Albert Pujols $39  .258, 17 HR, 64 RBI, 49 R, 1 SB.  Very disappointing season from my most expensive player.  Went on the DL 7/27 and never came off.  Hamstrung my offense.

2.  Bryce Harper $30.  .274, 20 HR, 58 RBI, 71 R, 11 SB.  Started the season like a house afire, then ran into the OF wall and was never the same.  I ended up keeping him all season, but he never really got untracked again.

3.  Allan Craig  $21.  .315, 13 HR, 97 RBI, 71 R, 2 SB.  Craig was an RBI machine and kept my BA up.  I was hoping for closer to 20 HR's.  Ended up spraining his ankle and not playing most of September, so was no help in the playoffs.

4.  Carlos Marmol  $3.  2-4, 4.41, 59 K, 1.63 WHIP, 0 Save.  I packaged him in a trade for Alexi Ogando in the first week of the season.

5.  Jason Heyward  $22.  .257, 14 HR, 38 RBI, 66 R, 2 SB.  Very disappointing season.  Got off to a painfully slow start, spend most of the second half on the DL.  Could be a bargain next draft.

6.  Adam Jones  $24.  .285, 33 HR, 108 RBI, 100 R, 14 SB.  My MVP!!  What a great season and  huge bargain for $24!

7.  CC Sabathia  $16.  14-13, 4.78 ERA, 175 K, WHIP 1.37.  The 14 Wins and 175 K's helped and I won most of my ERA categories despite his bloated ERA.  I ended up dropping him for the playoffs and he went on the DL shortly after that anyway.  I will avoid him next year.

8. Mat Latos  $11.  14-7, 3.16 ERA, 187 K, 1.21 WHIP.  Very solid season and great value for $11.

9.  Yu Darvish  $18.  13-9, 2.82 ERA, 269 K's. 1.07 WHIP.  My most expensive pitcher and a tremendous bargain at that!

10.  Pablo Sandoval  $16.  .276, 14 HR, 78 RBI, 52 R, 0 SB.  Kind of a meh performance.  I kept trying to find an upgrade on the FA list, but was never able to.  I used Scott Frazier while he was on the DL, but ended up keeping Pablo after he came back.  The 3 HR game won me a week in HR and RBI!  I'd probably take him again next year for the same price.

11.  Ian Desmond  $19.  .280, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 77 R, 21 SB.  The #1 ranked SS by the end of the season.  Tremendous value at the price I paid.

12.  Rickie Weeks  $2.  .209, 10 HR, 24 RBI, 40 R, 7 SB.  I thought I had gotten a bargain for $2.  Turns out I didn't.  2B was extremely thin.  I could not find a replacement on the FA market for the longest time.  Finally dumped Weeks for Anthony Rendon who was OK.

13.  Melky Cabrera  $4.  .279, 3 HR, 30 RBI, 39 R, 2 SB.  A bust even at $4.  I dumped him pretty early.  I forget for whom.

14.  Glen Perkins  $1.  2-0, 2.30, 77 K, 0.93 WHIP, 36 Saves.  Packaged in a trade for Alexi Ogando when I punted Saves.  Shoulda kept him awhile longer and gotten a better return.

15.  Ryan Vogelsong  $4.  4-6, 5.73, 67 K, 1.56 WHIP.  A bust even at this price.  I dumped him pretty early.

16.  Salvador Perez  $6.  .289, 12 HR, 77 RBI, 47 R, 0 SB.  Decent production for the position and price.  I picked up Salty late when Perez went on the DL and ended up keeping Salty who amazingly helped me in SB's durign the playoffs.  I had $7 left over at the end of the draft, so should have sprung a bit higher for Wilin Rosario.

17. Hisashi Iwakuma  $2.  14-6, 2.66, 185 K, 1.01 WHIP.  Iwakuma was a big part of my punting Saves strategy and boy, did he deliver?  Tremendous SP value from a RP slot.

18.  Kyuji Fujikawa  $1.  1-1, 5.25, 14 K, 1.08 WHIP, 2 Saves.  Missed most of season with TJ surgery, but packaged in a trade for Alexi Ogando who was himself kind of a bust.

19.  Hiroki Kuroda  $4.  11-13, 3.31, 150 K, 1.16 WHIP.  Nice value for $4.

20.  Matt Harvey  $2.  9-5, 2.27, 191 K, 0.93 WHIP.  Tremendous value, but lost him for the playoffs due to injury.

21.  Alex Cobb  $1.  11-3, 2.76, 134 K, 1.15 WHIP.  Was injured by the line drive off the head, but still a nice value.

22.  Brett Anderson  $2.  1-4, 6.04, 46 K, 1.61 WHIP.  Missed most of the season.  I dumped him early.

23.  Julio Teheran  $1.  13-8, 3.09, 167 K, 1.17 WHIP.  Dumped him early and that was a mistake.  Solid season for the post-hype sleeper!

24.  Pedro Alvarez  $2.  .233, 36 HR, 100 RBI, 70 R, 2 SB.  Dropped him early and that was probably a mistake. Love the HR's and Ribeyes, but he's streaky as heck and the BA is hard to stomach.

25.  Dylan Bundy  $1.  DNP.  Took a flyer late in the draft.  Underwent TJ surgery early so was able to dump him before I lost too much time waiting for him.

26.  Gerrit Cole  $1.  10-7, 3.22, 100 K, 1.17 WHIP.  I got impatient and dumped him shortly after callup when it looked like he was going to not be a big K pitcher.  That was a mistake as he got progressively stronger down the stretch.    His last 4 starts were lights out!  Will go for a lot higher price next year.

So, that is the Savvy Vets Team I drafted.  Here is the team I ended up with:

C  Jarrod Saltalamacchia  .272, 14 HR, 65 RBI, 67 R, 4 SB.  He became a SB machine down the stretch!  Pretty good season. I might target him next draft.

1B  Billy Butler.  .291, 15 HR, 82 RBI, 62 R, 0 SB.  The guy I picked up to replace Pujols.  Did OK but not what you hope for from the position you paid the highest price for.

2B  Anthony Rendon.  .261, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 40 R, 1 SB.  I finally picked him up to replace Weeks.  I was reasonably happy with what he gave me.  He may move to 3B next year, but with carryover 2B eligibility may make a nice target there.  These number were in 348 AB.

3B  Pablo Sandoval.  See above.  Kept him all season.

SS  Ian Desmond.  See above.  Kept him all season.

IF  Brandon Belt.  .287, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 75 R, 5 SB.  I forget exactly when I picked him up, but we all know how awesome he was down the stretch. I'll be looking for him in the next year's draft.

OF  Adam Jones.  See above. Kept him all year.

OF  Christian Yelich.  .288, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 34 R, 10 SB.  I picked him up late and he did well.  These numbers were in 240 AB.  A little light on power, but I think that will develop.  Sleeper/breakout prospect for next season.

OF  Carlos Gomez.  .283, 24 HR, 73 RBI, 79 R, 39 SB.  I picked him off the waiver wire early and he had a great season.

UT  Bryce Harper.  See Above.  Kept him all season.

UT  Starling Marte.  .280, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 83 R, 41 SB.  I was looking for him in the draft.  Ran out of slots. He went undrafted and I picked him up early.  Great SB value who adds some power.  Breakout prospect for next year.  The guys in my league are obssessed by SB's so he will be expensive in my league.  Might still be undervalued because I think he has a lot of upside on the power side.

SP  Yu Darvish.  See Above. Kept him all season.

SP  Mat Latos.  See Above.  Kept him all season.

SP  Hiroki Kuroda.  See above.  Kept him all season.

SP  Alex Cobb.  See above.  Kept him all season.

SP  Martin Perez.  10-5, 3.55, 79 K, 1.34 WHIP.  Made 19 starts, 119 IP. 7 of his last 10 starts were QS.  Value target for next season.

RP  Hisashi Iwakuma.  See above. Kept him all season.

RP  Shelby Miller.  15-9, 3.06, 169 K, 1.21 WHIP.  Amazingly, he went undrafted and I picked him up after trading away my RP's for Ogando.  Tremendous SP value coming out of a RP slot.

RP  Kyle Kendrick.  10-13, 4.70, 110 K, 1.40 WHIP.  When I look at his stats, I'm surprised I held onto him until the end.  He didn't seem to hurt me from week to week and was good for a W here and there and a few K's each week.

P  Andrew Cashner.  10-9, 3.09, 128 K, 1.13 WHIP.  Solid production from a guy I picked up of the FA list after I traded all my RP's. Had 5 relief appearances, so not sure if he might have RP eligibility again next year.

P  Rick Porcello.  13-8, 4.35, 140 K, 1.29 WHIP.  Kind of a grinder.  Being on a good hitting team gave me quite a few W's and he would get a few K's each week without hurting ERA and WHIP too much.

BN  Bartolo Colon.  18-6, 2.65, 117 K, 1.17 WHIP.  Not much of a K pitcher anymore, but a huge season in other categories.

BN  Jhoulys Chacin.  14-10, 3.47, 126 K, 1.26 WHIP.  Nice solid stat line.  Helps the counting stats without hurting the ERA/WHIP.

BN  Chris Tillman.  16-7, 3.62, 174 K, 1.21 WHIP.  I picked him up on the FA list early.  Solid season!

BN  Sonny Gray.  4-3, 2.90, 59 K, 1.10 WHIP.  59 IP.   Late pickup.  Interesting target for next year's draft.  Breakout candidate!

BN  Bronson Arroyo.  14-12, 3.79, 124 K, 1.15 WHIP.  Helps your counting stats with a tremendous WHIP due to not walking anyone.

Overall, I believe my Save punting worked out the way I wanted.  I dominated 4 of the 5 pitching categories all season and into the playoffs.  I did not skimp on offense, I just did not draft it well, and the FA pickings were slim there.

Adjustments for next year:

1.  I won't bother drafting RP's.

2.  I won't waste early roster space on players who will start the season in the minors.

3.  I will try to target more power in the draft.

4.  I will no pay a lot of $$$ for Albert Pujols and he will probably have a monster season.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Game Wrap 9/28/2013: Padres 9 Giants 3

This game looked promising for the first 3 innings, but fell apart after a 14 pitch AB by Tommy Medica with 2 outs in the 4'th inning.   Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 3 for 5, 2B.  BA= .283.  Pagan and Pence make up 2/3's of a very dynamic OF and they will now be together for at least 3 more seasons.  Pagan has had trouble staying healthy for a full season, a problem Pence has not had up to this point.

Hunter Pence- 1 for 4, HR(27).  BA= .282.  This is Pence's best HR season and he did it playing over 100 games in 4 of the toughest parks for HR's in baseball:  AT&T, Dodger Stadium, Petco and Oakland, so this has probably been his career year, but average seasons for him are pretty good too.

Pablo Sandoval- 2 for 3, 2B, BB.  BA= .276.  Sandoval will be playing for his big contract next year.  As Sabes said, it's all up to Pablo!

Yusmeiro Petit- 3.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 3.56.  You could tell his command was off as early as the second pitch of the game when a fastball caught way too much of the plate and Denorfia hit a 2-iron over the CF wall.  He then proceeded to retire the next 11 batters, but you could see the impeccable command was not there, and there was a lot of BABIP luck involved.  With 2 outs in the 4'th inning, he allowed a double to Headley and then Tommy Medica fouled off about 10 pitches before finally ending a 14 pitch AB with a single up the middle to drive in Headley.  Petit did not record another out while giving up 4 more hits including a dinger to Jesus Guzman.

Heath Hembree- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.00.  Another impressive outing for Hembree.  His speed gun readings only get up to about 93, but the ball seems to get in the batter as quick as a mid-high 90's FB.  He also has nasty movement with good command.  Looks like a keeper!

Mike Kickham- 1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 10.16.   Kickham appeared to give up on himself until Sanchez came out and pointed out to him that nobody was warming up in the bullpen.  To his credit, Kickham rallied to finally get out of the inning.  I think the best place for him next season is staring in Fresno where he can hone his game some more.  He's got good stuff.  He just needs to learn how to pitch and how to pitch his way out of trouble.

Kruk and Kuip- Those two were on fire early in the game.  They were talking about Bumgarner having pent up energy from being shut down and how he wanted to wrestle everybody in the clubhouse. I don't know if that strikes you as being a bit odd, but it does me. Anyway, Kuip said that come Tuesday, Bummy will be wrestling cattle on his property.  The TV camera then focused on a fan wearing a rather ridiculous looking cowboy hat.  Kuip:  "I don't know if he has cattle."  The TV then found another fan looking even more ridiculous in another cowboy hat.  Kuip:  "He definitely does not have cattle.  He has cats and dogs!"  LOL!  Maybe it's just the end of ridiculous season, but I doubled over laughing for about 3 minutes!

It looks like the Giants are set for the 13'th pick in the 2014 draft barring the signing of a FA who received a QO. I think the chances of that are very slim.  It's a deep draft.  They should get a good player there.

PS:  Sabes and a bevy of scouts are headed to the DR to take in a 2 day exhibition by Jose Abreu, the Cuban Slugger who was declared eligible to sign by MLB.  Not sure how to square this with the lowered expectations Sabes threw out yesterday.  Maybe it was just Sabes lowering expectations?  At least one beat writer seems to think the Giants see Abreu as more of an AL/DH type of player and they aren't in love with his swing.  If that is the case, they must have had plenty of time to settle on that opinion and a delegation of this magnitude would seem to be unnecessary, so there has to be more interest than what Sabes is letting on in his statements.

CSN Bay Area had a link to some video of Abreu.  I did not find it very helpful because the one dinger came off a batting practice type hanging curveball off a Chinese pitcher.  The other was from a Cuban league game, I think.  In that one, he dropped the bathead quite nicely on a low-inside pitch and golfed it out of the park.  The swing is ugly and he looks like he could get real fat real easily, but then again, I've always though Big Papi had the ugliest swing and he's hit a lot of 'taters in his career.

Thoughts on the State of the Giants

Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy held their annual State of the Giants press conference yesterday.  Sabes dominated the discussion and gave his usual combination of blunt assessements, definitive statements and doubletalk.  For all his well-known wiliness and penchant for secrecy, Sabes has very rarely reversed himself on a definitive statement, so let's start with some of the comments that appear to be definitive:

1.  His first priority is re-signing Hunter Pence followed by re-signing Timmy and Javier Lopez.  In fact, it appears that a deal for Pence may be close enough to announce before the season ends on Sunday afternoon!  I'll make a prediction:  6/90!

2.  He plans to acquire a SP regardless of whether Timmy re-signs or not.  This would seem to not bode well for Ryan Vogelsong, and also seems to raise the probability that Timmy will be back, since if he left it would imply that the Giants would need to acquire 2 SP's via FA or trade.

3.  Don't expect a big international "splash."  He characterized Giants efforts in that areas as being more exploratory and a learning process as opposed to a plan to sign a big name player.

4.  He is really impressed by Heath Hembree.  Hembree was the first name Bochy mentioned too, so it would appear that a roster spot is Hembree's to lose next spring.

5.  He thinks the Giants pitching in the low minors is as good as any in baseball, but does not expect much help from that source before 2015.

6.  The free agent market is very thin.  Just stating the obvious here.  He also said he does not regard the FA crop of pitchers to be deeper than the position players.

7.  The trade market does not look particularly promising. He considers the success with trades in 2012 to be fortunate.

8.  There is a hard cap on the budget, but he did not say what it is. He implied that it will likely be not much more than the 2013 budget.

9.  Buster Posey is going to be the starting catcher next season!

Now for the doubletalk:

Sabes said that depth was the biggest problem in 2013 and criticized the farm system for not stepping up.  He then proceeded to downplay the possibility of getting more depth from the FA market and other sources and talked of pushing their prospects.

Perhaps the most cryptic and confusing comment came at the end when he talked about "windows" and how he thought the "window" was more likely to stay open for the 2011 season than the 2012 season.  He then declared the current "window" closed and declared that the Giants now need to open an "new window."  So, whattheheck does he mean by that?  A closed window and creating a new window would seem to imply a need for a large turnover in the roster, yet his biggest priorities are re-signing Pence, Timmy and Lopez?  The farm system is not going to be ready to contribute until 2015?  There isn't going to be much help on the FA, international or trade markets?  Is he writing off 2014 and aiming for 2015 when help arrives from the farm?  Is he simply being grandiose about the end of the Zito era?  Strange stuff!

Game Wrap 9/27/2013: Giants 7 Padres 3

On a night when Hunter Pence accepted his Willie Mac Award, the dingers were jumping out of AT&T Park with the Giants collecting 3 of them in an easy win.  Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco- 3 for 4, 3B, BB.  BA= .267.  Terrific game for Blanco except that he got thrown out on the basepaths 3 times:  Pickoff, out at 2B trying to stretch a single into a double and out at home trying to stretch a triple into a inside-the-park HR.  

Tony Abreu- 3 for 5, 3B.  BA= .264.  Abreu has been hot in September putting himself into the mix for a roster spot next year.

Brandon Belt- 1 for 5, HR(17).  BA= .287.  This one left the yard in a hurry appearing to come within inches of clearing the RF arcade and becoming a splash hit.  Better yet, it was a low-inside pitch that he dropped the bat head on, something we haven't seen enough of in the early stages of his career.  

Hunter Pence- 1 for 3, HR(26), BB.  BA= .282.  Pence was 0 for his last 27 coming into this one.  Nice way to break out of hit on the night he was honored.  

Juan Perez- 3 for 4, 2B, HR(1).  BA= .268.  Perez has been hot and earned a mention from Bochy in the State of the Giants presser. He definitely is putting himself in the mix for a roster spot next year.

Ryan Vogelsong- 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 5.73.  Vogey was battling a very tight and inconsistent strike zone, so may well have pitched better than the line indicates.  His velocity was a bit better running 88-90 and I saw a couple of 89's in the 6'th inning, so the stamina held up.  Sabes made it pretty clear yesterday that Vogey is on the bubble and the pricetag on his option is definitely an issue.  Was this game enough to sway the decision in his favor?

Yusmeiro Petit gets one more chance to impress the brass this afternoon facing Eric Stults on Fan Appreciation Day.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Game Wrap 9/26/2013: Giants 3 Dodgers 2

It wasn't quite vintage Timmy, but Tim Lincecum, in what might have been his final start as a San Francisco Giant, turned in a QS and the Giants offense scratched out enough runs to make it a winning night.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 1 for 4, HR(5).  BA= .277.  Pagan drove in the first run on a ground out and then drove in the game winner with a line drive HR that skipped off the top of the fence down the LF line of Paco Rodriquez.

Brandon Belt-  2 for 4, 2 2B.  BA= .288.  I didn't see the first double, but it must have been hit pretty good because Belt got thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple which is pretty much of a no-no with 2 outs.  The second one was a seeing-eye flyball down the LF line that bounced about 1 foot inside the line just out of the reach of a diving Carl Crawford.

Gregor Blanco- 0 for 1, 2 BB, Assist(Home)- Blanco drew a walk and scored ahead of Belt's first double.  He then threw out Federowicz at the plate on a throw from medium deep LF that Buster Posey caught on the fly.

Tim Lincecum- 7 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 4.37.  Very solid start from Timmy.  I don't know if players discuss their future plans or business strategy amongst themselves in private, but from the reaction of the coaches and teammates in the dugout when he came out of the game, I would have to say they are not expecting him back next year.  His comments after the game suggest he intends to test the market too.

Timmy looks strong and appears to be in the best shape of his life, literally!  I do think I've seen progress over the course of the season in his command, confidence and a diversifying of his pitches.  On the other hand, his ERA over his last 10 starts was 4.24, which is barely better than his season average, and he had just 5 QS over his last 10 starts.

I'm pretty sure the Giants will make a QO.  Beyond that, I would not want to see them go over that in salary and not longer than 2 years.  Maaaybe 3, but that is really stretching it.  I would have to say my odds of him coming back next year just went from 50-50 to 25-75.

Brian Wilson crossed the line into self parody a long time ago.  Tonight, he managed to make a complete ass of himself by approaching Larry Baer at the railing by the Giants dugout and proceeded to rip Baer a new one for not giving him his WS ring in a separate on-field ceremony THIS SERIES.  I mean, Wilson is a Dodger fer crissakes!  Really?  He really thought the Giants were going to hold an on-field ceremony just for him while he is wearing a Dodger uniform?  The beat reporters are saying the Giants made numerous attempts to invite him to the official ring ceremony in April and also offered to give it to him in a private ceremony in the clubhouse several times during the season.  Come on, Wilson!  If you want attention that bad, you are in Hollywood!  Just get your own reality TV show and be done with it!  I don't want to even think about what stunts he might pull if he had his own show.   He can still pitch, but good riddance to THAT act!

Sabes and Bochy hold their annual end-of-season, State of the Giants presser this afternoon.  We'll be straining to read the tea leaves.

Ryan Vogelsong goes against Burch Smith of the Padres in the first game of the final series of the season.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Game Wrap 9/25/2013: Giants 6 Dodgers 4

Barry Zito pitched decently enough in what is probably his final start for the Giants and got enough run support to defeat the Dodgers in AT&T Park.  Key Lines:

Buster Posey- 2 for 3, 2B, BB.  BA= .297.  Nice game for Buster who has struggled in the second half.

Pablo Sandoval- 2 for 4, HR(14).  BA= .276.  Pablo has hit .289/.364/.440 post All-Star break.  He's hitting .312/.398/.545 in September, although most of his slugging came in one 3-dinger game.  He's gotten himself in much better shape. He'll be back next year to try to win a big payday in free agency.

Tony Abreu- 2 for 4, 2B, 3B.  BA= .250.  Abreu has been a valuable reserve IF when healthy.  Giants currently have too many players who fit that description going into next year.  Somebody is going to have to go.

Barry Zito- 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 5.75.  The K's are not encouraging.  This was likely Zito's final start as a San Francisco Giant.  He's done some good things for the Giants, but I'm pretty sure most Giants fans are not sorry to see that contract come to an end.

Jean Machi- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 2.47.  Gotta think Machi is coming back next year.

Sergio Romo- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, Save(37).  ERA= 2.62.  Also, gotta think Romo is the closer for next year.

Tim Lincecum makes what could be his last start as a San Francisco Giant tonight facing Edinson Volquez.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Game Wrap 9/24/2013: Dodgers 2 Giants 1

The Giants and Dodgers traded longballs with the Dodgers hitting one more.  Key Lines:

Tony Abreu- 1 for 3, HR(2).  BA= .241.  Abreu has been a valuable backup player on the infield when he has been healthy.  Dude is made of glass, though.

Ehire Adrianza- 0 for 3.  BA= .231.  Adrianza didn't have much luck at the plate, but he made an impressive throw on a ball hit in the hole from the OF grass.  The runner was probably safe, but the ump was so impressed by the throw, he called him out!  It was a nice throw, though.

Matt Cain-  7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 4.00.  Cainer looked pretty sharp except on the two longballs.  The one to Puig was a fastball that he left waist high over the outside half of the plate.  The pitch was just too far up and caught too much of the plate.  Puig got his arms extended.  Gone!  I didn't get a good look at what Kemp hit.

Heath Hembree- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.00.  Hembree was tested when with Kemp at first and 2 outs, AJ Ellis struck out on a ball in the dirt.  Posey threw softly to first, bouncing it.  The ball skidded under Belt's glove and trickled to the OF grass behind him putting runners at first and third.  The kid stayed calm and got Mark Ellis to ground out to Adrianza to get out of hit.

The Loss put the Giants in a tie with 3 other teams for 9'th place in the race for the #1 draft pick in 2014.  Tiebreakers put the Giants in 12'th place which means they would draft #13 because Toronto has #11 as a compensation pick.

Never fear, though!  Bruce Bochy is playing the Zito card early as he announced that Bumgarner is being shut down for the remainder of the season and Zito will take the start tonight.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Thoughts on Buster Posey's Future

Buster Posey is a very good baseball player.  So good that he won an MVP award in his 3'rd MLB season leading his team to a World Series Championship in the process.  Not a small part of what makes Buster so valuable is the position he plays.  Catchers who can hit like him and play good defense in the process might be the rarest commodity in baseball.

The Giants know full well just how valuable Buster is and made sure he would play under their banner for most, if not all, of the rest of his career.  They committed themselves to paying him a lot of money to accomplish that, $167 M over 9 years(2013-2021 plus a club option for 2022 to be exact).  That is a lot of money for a long time!

The problem for Buster and the Giants, and part of the reason Buster is so valuable as a catcher, is that catching is not just a physically demanding position to play.  It is a physically dangerous position to play.  Buster himself has already had one career threatening injury and a whole multitude of lesser dings and dents along the way.  While you can find examples of catchers who remained productive over a long period of time, baseball history has many examples of catchers whose careers were cut short or became less productive due directly to injuries suffered in the line of duty.

We have witnessed a marked decline in Buster's offensive output over the second half of this season.  While we cannot be sure of the reasons for that, it seems likely that it is tied to catching too many games in the first half as well as nagging injuries such as the foul tip that fractured the tip of his right 4'th fingertip a few weeks ago.  Buster is a big man, but he is not particularly big for  catcher.  He also does not have a typical catcher's frame.  This may leave him more vulnerable to injury and fatigue than most catchers.

Buster Posey can also play other positions.  He played all 9 positions in one game once while in college.  In the pros, he has only played 1B as a secondary position.  He plays first base adequately, but not particularly well.  He has hit better when he plays first base than when he catches, and his hitting is certainly more than adequate for a first baseman, but it is not an elite level of hitting for that position as his hitting at catcher is.

Buster could well play another 8 years at catcher without suffering another serious injury.  He could also move to first base and suffer a career ender.  The probabilities are, however, that he is more likely to get injured playing catcher than playing first base. Aside from a serious, career-ending injury, he would not be squatting or taking foul tips off his mask or hands on a daily basis while playing first base.  The probabilities favor him maintaining or improving on his offensive output if he is at first base than at catcher.  Of course, he could move to another position where his bat might be more valuable than first base, most notably third base, but we have yet to see him play there.

I think everybody pretty much agrees that Buster is not going to stay at catcher for the full length of his contract. The question is how urgent is it to make a decision to move him off the position.  Since injuries can happen at any time, each day that Buster stays at catcher carries a risk of that being the day his career effectively ends rendering the remainder of his contract a sunk cost.  The decision for the Giants comes down to whether they want Buster to be more valuable at the front end of his contract or more valuable at the back end, with some risk that if they take the first option, you could lose the back end entirely.  What I think is also clear to everybody is that if Buster does continue to play catcher, he will need to catch fewer games, thus diminishing his positional value anyway.

In evaluating all of the above information, I favor moving Buster to first base full time next year rather than risking another season with him behind the plate.  Really, the Giants have already made their decision, or should have.  If the strategy is to maximize Buster's value at the front end of his career, then it would have made more sense to go year-to-year during his arbitration years and not take on the risk of the long term deal.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Game Wrap 9/22/2013: Giants 2 Yankees 1

Yusmeiro Petit put together another very impressive start and Ehire Adrianza hit his first MLB HR as the Giants defeated the Yankees and Andy Pettitte to salvage a game in their 3 game interleague series.  Key Lines:

Ehire Adrianza- 1 for 3, HR(1).  BA= .300.  Adrianza certainly has made the most of his meager opportunities.  I wonder if there were any scouts from other teams watching?  The dinger broke up a no-no by Pettitte.

Juan Perez- 1 for 4, Assist(Cano, home).  BA= .260.  Perez impresses once again with his D.  Oh, and his hit came against none other than Mariano Rivera!

Yusmeiro Petit- 6.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K's.  ERA= 2.84.  If any ballpark was going to expose Petit, you would think Yankee Stadium would be it.  Giving up dingers has always been his Achilles Heel and Yankee Stadium gives them up in bunches. Petit would seem to have put himself in the driver's seat for a rotation spot next year.  He certainly has earned the opportunity.  What is he?  Arbitration eligible?  He may even be putting himself in position for a nice little payday this offseason!  Sounds like this may have been his last start of the season with Zito getting the nod on Fan Appreciation day.  Not to disrespect Zito, who has done some good things as a Giant, but I'm not sure the fans will appreciate watching him pitch.

Sergio Romo- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, Save(36).  ERA= 2.67.  Romo has certainly been an adequate closer this year affording the Giants the luxury of not being forced to fill that position this offseason and to groom Hembree by using him in a middle inning/setup role next year.

Giants now get a day off to return home for final homestand with Matt Cain facing Hyun-jin Ryu in game 1 Tuesday night.

Bruce Bochy said that Brandon Belt and Hector Sanchez were the most improved players on the team.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Game Wrap 9/21/2013: Yankees 6 Giants 0

Ryan Vogelsong had another alarming start and the Giants bats fell silent against Ivan Nova as the Yankees dominated the Giants in Yankee Stadium.  Key Lines:

Brandon Belt- 2 for 4, 2B.  BA= .291.  Can Brandon Belt get to .300 by the end of the season?  

Buster Posey- 0 for 4.  BA= .297.  Whether his finger is bothering him or if he he worn down from long season, Buster has clearly hit a wall.  He caught way too many games in the first half.  I personally favor moving him out from behind the dish completely next year, but at the very least, he needs to catch fewer games, somewhere in the 100-120 range at most.

Hunter Pence- 0 for 4.  BA= .288.  Is the Rev's hot streak over?  He is a streaky guy.

Ryan Vogelsong- 5 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= .5.90.  $6+ M is not much to risk, but Giants need to decide if Vogey has anything left in the tank for next year.  The lack of regained velocity after the layoff is concerning.

Mike Kickham- 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 9.22.  Kickham's line since being recalled Sept 1:  4.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K's.  Still seems to have good stuff.  Could be a candidate for a lefty job out of the pen.  I would probably put him back in Fresno for more polishing and insurance as a starter.

The Loss leaves the Giants sitting at #11 in the race for the #1 overall draft pick in 2014, with several games left tonight by teams in the hunt.

Yusmeiro Petit goes against Andy Pettitte in Andy's farewell start at Yankee Stadium tomorrow.

PS:  Toronto won yesterday to put the Giants back in 10'th place in the draft race.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Game Wrap 9/20/2013: Yankees 5 Giants 1

The Giants were done in tonight by 2 pop flies that cleared the fence into the ridiculously short porch in RF at Yankee Stadium.  Key Lines:

Juan Perez- 2 for 4, 2 2B.  BA= .261.  Gotta be a thrill for Juan Perez to do so well in his hometown in front of his peeps.  He may be playing himself into contention for a roster spot on next year's team too!  The first double hit off the Left-centerfield fence in what is one of the deepest L-CF in baseball.  I thought it was going to go when he hit it.

Hector Sanchez- 2 for 4.  BA= .274.  Hector got his bell rung a bit on a foul back in the second inning, but hung in there.

Tim Lincecum- 6.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 4.44.  This line is not at all indicative of how he pitched.  At the time Timmy left the game, his line was 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K's.  George Kontos came in and served up a pop fly to ARod that would have been a can of corn in any other ballpark.  On the other hand, Timmy is the one who loaded the bases and at 121 pitches, Boch really couldn't leave him in there.  Them's the breaks.  I have always considered any HR records set by Yankees, particularly by LH hitters, yeah, you know who I mean, to be tainted by that ridiculously short porch.  Look, I'm all for tradition and I don't want to go back to the perfectly symmetrical, all-purpose bowl shaped parks, but that RF porch at Yankee Stadium in ridiculous!  Maybe the RF wall at AT&T is just as ridiculous in the other direction, but I'd rather watch AT&T games than wonder if every pop fly to RF is going out of the park.  Hate that!!

Heath Hembree- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.00.  I have no idea how Hembree would handle the pressure of a high leverage situation, but ya gotta find out at some point, right?  It seems to me the longer this goes on, the more the kid starts to think maybe he really doesn't have what it takes and then when the opportunity finally comes, he chokes on it.  Dunno, but it seems to me the good ones handle it from the get-go.

The loss leaves the Giants in 11'th place in the race for the #1 overall draft pick in 2014, which means they would have the 12'th pick due to Toronto getting a compensation pick.

Ryan Vogelsong faces Ivan Nova in tomorrow's game.

Game Wrap 9/19/2013: Giants 2 Mets 1

Madison Bumgarner had a dominant start and this time the bullpen brought it home for a 2-1 win.  Key Lines:

Juan Perez- 3 for 3, BB.  BA= .246.  Juan Perez got the start in his hometown in front of family and friends and made the most of it.  No matter what happens the rest of his career, I'm sure he will always treasure this game.  2 days earlier his mom had cooked up a storm and brought Caribbean food to the clubhouse.  Perez has gotten himself more PT due to his incredible D in the OF.

Ehire Adrianza- I'm sure Adrianza will always remember his first MLB start and getting a hit and an ribeye in the process.

Madison Bumgarner- 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 10 K's.  ERA= 2.77.  Cainer might have pitched better the day before, but this time the bullpen did it's job.

Javy Lopez- 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 1.63.  At this point, it looks like Casilla and Romo are too pooped to pop and Lopez is apparently the 3'rd string closer.  The press asked Bochy about Hembree and Boch said he was not a consideration.  Apparently the Giants are determined to not put Hembree in a high stress situation.  I say he's gotten his feet wet and done OK.  Put him out there!!

The Giants move on to Yankee Stadium with Tim Lincecum facing CC Sabathia in an interesting game 1 matchup.  Is Timmy auditioning for the Yankees?

PS:  The Dodgers clinched the NL West title in Arizona and a bunch of the players jumped the fence and started splashing around in the swimming pool.  Not cool at all!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Game Wrap 9/18/2013: Mets 5 Giants 4

Oh my!  Just when you thought it was safe to get excited about the Giants again, they lay an egg like this.  Matt Cain took a shutout into the 8'th inning, allowed only 1 unearned run and left the game leading 4-1.  Then Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo, the two most reliable members of the bullpen, blew the lead giving up 4 runs in the bottom of the 9'th inning for the loss.  Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco- 1 for 3, HR(3), 2 BB.  BA= .267.  Blanco has a 7 game hit streak and is hitting .433 over his last 10 games with an OBP of over .500.  If the Giants could only figure out what causes his annual mid-season slump!    He's terrific for the first 2 months of the season and the last 2 months.  It's those 2 months in the middle that are tough to stomach!

Matt Cain- 7.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 4.06.  Can't pitch much better than that.  The Giants found a new and novel way to Cain him tonight.

The Loss leaves the Giants in 10'th place in the race for the #1 overall draft pick in the 2014 draft.

Madison Bumgarner faces Jonathan Niese in the series finale tomorrow afternoon(morning PDT).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Game Wrap 9/17/2013: Giants 8 Mets 5

Zack Wheeler was wild and looked tired as the Giants outwalked and outscored the Mets.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 3 for 3, 3B, HR(4), 2 BB.  BA= .289.  Pagan reached base 5 times and was a double away from a cycle.  He's hitting .412 over his last 10 games and the Giants are 11-7 since his return from the DL. They were in first place the day he pulled up lame after the inside-the-parker.

Brandon Belt- 2 for 5.  BA= .290.  Belt is hitting .357 over his last 10 games.  Strangely, on a night when the Giants drew 10 walks, he didn't draw any.

Yusmeiro Petit- 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 3.08.  I'll give Petit some props for hanging in there after a very rough 4'th inning when he uncharacteristically lost control of the strike zone, walked the first 2 batters and paid the price.  Overall, he still threw 58 of 87 pitches for strikes.  I think that's pretty good, but I'm not sure.

Matt Cain tries to extend the Giants win streak to 5 facing Aaron Harang tomorrow evening.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Off Day Q&A

Since it's an off day and the minor league season is now officially done, including postseason games, I thought it might be time to do another Q&A which have been popular in the past.  I'll take questions about the Giants, their farm system, the draft, fantasy or anything about baseball in general.  Feel free to join in the discussion, constructively, of course.  I might not get to the answers until this evening, but fire away!

Again, thanks to all the daily readers and commentors out there who help make this the best discussion in baseball.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Game Wrap 9/15/2013: Giants 4 Dodgers 3

The Giants used two more longballs from Hunter Pence and another by Brett Pill to defeat a makeshift Dodger squad in Chavez Ravine to complete a 4 game series win that could easily have been a sweep.  Key Lines:

Brett Pill- 1 for 1, HR(3).  BA= .231.  Pill's shot was the go-ahead run and ultimately the game winner.  He's playing for a utility spot on next year's roster.

Hunter Pence- 2 for 3, 2 HR(25), BB.  BA= .295.  The Rev continues his torrid September, and what a drive for a contract.  That is the one downside to all this from the Giants perspective.

Ryan Vogelsong- 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 2 K.  ERA= 5.73.  A couple more games like this should sew up a pickup of his option for next year.  If the $6+ M on the option is an issue, then the Giants aren't in this to compete with the Dodgers anyway.  The 3 runs all came in one inning, the 5'th and it was a BABIP job all the way.  The big blow was a tomahawk hack by Adrian Gonzalez on a 90 MPH FB up and in about shoulder level that hugged the 1B line.  Of course, when you only strike out 2 batters in 6 innings, you leave yourself at the mercy of the BABIP gods.

Machi, Casilla and Romo brought it home with Romo picking up his 35'th Save.  I would expect all 3 back next year.

The Giants now have a day off to travel to New York for 3 against the Mets and then another 3 against the Yankees.  Should be interesting!  First matchup of the Mets series is Petit vs Wheeler.

Down on the Farm: 9/14/2013

The Inland Empire 66'ers once again stifled the San Jose Giants offense for a 3-1 win to complete a sweep of the best of 5 California League Championship Series:

Adalberto Mejia(LHP)- 6.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K's.
Jose Casilla(RHP- 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K's.
Derek Law(RHP)- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.

Terrific age 20 season for Mejia who appears to have a bright future.  Nice season also for Derek Law.

Congrats to the Inland Empire 66'ers.  The Angels farm system is not held in high regard and I'm not sure how many of the players on this team are legitimate prospects.  I know when I saw them early in the season I was not at all impressed and figured them to finish near the bottom of the league.  My impression from watching them the first two games of this series is that they are a tough-minded bunch who are well coached and play good fundamental baseball.  They earned their championship trophy.

So, we close the books on another minor league season.  I'm sure there will be no shortage of topics for what's left of the MLB season and the upcoming offseason, but any suggestions of what folks might want to read about?  Please let me know in the comments section.

Thanks to everybody for reading and commenting all season.  I think the comments are a big part of what makes this blog work and I appreciate everybody who participates.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Game Wrap 9/14/2013: Giants 19 Dodgers 3

Yep, you read the score right.  The Giants got enormous offensive games from Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt and crushed the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine.  Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco- 3 for 4, 2 BB.  BA= .266.  Let's not overlook Blanco getting on base 5 times out of the 2-hole. If he could only figure out how to avoid that yearly mid-season slump he goes into.....

Brandon Belt- 5 for 6, 2B, HR(16).  BA= .289.  6 Ribeyes and 4 runs scored for The Belter.  He might just be the second hottest hitter in baseball right now behind Hunter Pence.

Hunter Pence- 3 for 5, HR(23).  BA= .293.  The dinger as a Grand Slam to really put the game away at 12-1, although the Giants would go on to score 7 more runs after that.  Anybody still think Pence isn't getting paid this offseason?  How much do you think The Rev has added to his largesse just this month?  $10 M?  $20 M?  More?

Tim Lincecum- 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 4.40.  Well, he certainly got run support tonight.  A QS on a warm night in LA.

Heath Hembree- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.00.  Hembree may be winning a spot on next year's active roster with his September callup performance.

Ryan Vogelsong takes on Edinson Volquez in the series finale tomorrow afternoon.

Down on the Farm: 9/13/2013

The Inland Empire 66'ers turned a tight game into a runaway late to take a 2 games to 0 lead over the San Jose Giants in the best of 5 California League Championship series.  Final Score-  9-1:

Mitch Delfino- 2 for 3.
Mac Williamson- 1 for 2, 2 HBP.
Kyle Crick- 3.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 5 K's.

Cricky looked good through the first 3 innings.  It looked like he was trying to pitch backwards starting hitters off with pitches that registered in the high 80's on the stadium gun.  Then turning up the heat 3-4 pitches into the AB. Perfect example was Zach Borenstein's first AB:  4 pitches 88-90 then a 96 MPH high hard one that was swung through very late for strike 3.

In the 4'th inning, Crick got put in the stretch right off the bat.  He then got into a situation where he was pumping  95-96 MPH FB's and the 66'er batters kept fouling them off raising his pitch count alarmingly. It was eerily reminiscent of some of Matt Cain's early games(the physical resemblance of Kyle Crick to Matt Cain is striking).  You could see him get visibly frustrated out on the mound.  First, Jeff Arnold came out to try to calm him down and a batter later, Andy Skeels came out.  It was no avail as he then lost control of the strike zone.  I though he might pitch his way out of it when he got a K for out #2 with the bases loaded, but then he walked in a run and Skeels had to come get him.

I left after Austin Fleet gave up a 2 run dinger in the 6'th before the roof caved in on Chris Marlowe in the 7'th.

66'er starter Dan Reynolds has very pedestrian numbers on the season, but he was throwing a FB with great command 91-94 MPH and looked very good.  The San Jose Giants have been dominated by 2 pitchers with ordinary regular season numbers these first 2 games of the series.

Reynolds was obviously trying to bust Mac up and in, under the hands.  Mac got hit on the wrist/hand in both of his first 2 AB's, both on check swings.  He seemed to be OK after that, but that is living mighty dangerously!

Adalberto Mejia tries to avoid the sweep tonight in San Jose after an overnight bus ride back up the 5.

Game Wrap 9/13/2013: Giants 4 Dodgers 2

It wasn't quite the CG 1-0 win I have dreamed about for Madison Bumgarner vs Clayton Kershaw, but close enough.  Bummy and Kershaw locked up in a scoreless duel until LA broke through with 2 in the bottom of the 6'th, but the Giants answered back with 3 in the top of the 7'th, added on an insurance run in the 8'th and hung on for the win.  Key Lines:

Hunter Pence- 2 for 4, HR(22).  BA= .290.  The Rev's salary drive continues to roll along.  Pence started the rally in the 8'th with a single and homered for the insurance run with 2 outs in the 8'th.

Pablo Sandoval- 2 for 4.  BA= .278.  Pablo hit .333 in April and is hitting .362 in September.  The 4 months in between?  Not so good!

Joaquin Arias- 2 for 4.  BA= .279.  Arias is hitting .303 over his last 10 games, but his overall OPS is just .646 with a .293 OBP and .353 SLG%.  He's a nice piece off the bench who has played several defensive positions and played them well.  Overall, his UZR is positive and he has 0.7 fWAR in 226 PA's.  In particular, his 3B UZR is a whopping +21.7.  Bochy routinely uses him as a late inning defensive replacement at 3B.  Don't tell me the Giants don't use advanced defensive metrics!

Brett Pill- 1 for 4.  BA= .221.  Pill came through with the big hit with RISP to put the Giants ahead in the 7'th.

Madison Bumgarner- 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 2.83.  Bummy gets a Win it looked like had slipped away.

Sergio Romo- 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, Save(34).  ERA= 2.50.  Vin Scully told and interesting story about how Romo left tickets for his friends the first time he played in Dodger Stadium.  They all came wearing Dodger gear.  Seems Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean walked by and saw them and were not amused.  Romo was called on the carpet and told that if that ever happened again it would be the last time he ever got tickets from the Giants!  Don't know what I think of that from an interpersonal standpoint, but you gotta love the passion!

Tim Lincecum takes on Ricky Nolasco in Game 3 tonight.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Game Wrap 9/12/2013: Dodgers 3 Giants 2

The Giants rallied to tie a close game in the top of the 9'th inning only to lose it in the bottom of the 10'th as Jeremy Affeldt's season long struggles picked up where they left off before he went on the DL.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 2 for 5, SB(9).  BA= .283.  Another good game for Pagan who did not participate in the scoring as the Giants managed just 2 runs out of 14 baserunners.

Marco Scutaro- 1 for 3, 2 BB.  BA= .299.  So the top 2 batters reached base 5 out of 10 PA's yet neither one scored or drove in a run.  That is the Giants' season in a nutshell!

Hunter Pence- 1 for 5, HR(21).  BA= .289.  Pence's offseason paycheck continues to increase in value by the day.

Gregor Blanco- 3 for 4, 2 CS.  BA= .261.  Blanco drove in the tying run in the 9'th.

Matt Cain- 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 4.24.  Solid start for Cain who battled Greinke and the Dodgers to a standstill through 7.

The Giants remain in 9'th place in the race for the #1 overall draft pick in 2014.

Madison Bumgarner takes on Clayton Kershaw in game 2 of the series tonight.


There is a note in MLBTR that none other than Brian Sabean himself is in the Dominican Republic with Felipe Alou scouting Cuban defector Jose Abreu.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Down on the Farm: 9/13/2013

Ty Blach was a hard luck pitcher in almost every possible way as the San Jose Giants were shut down in the opening game of the California League Championship series 4-0:

Ty Blach(LHP)- 7.1 IP,  7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K's, GO/AO= 12/5.   Blach allowed an unearned run in the top of the first when Jesus Galindo took a terrible route to the ball and had it clank off his glove for an error.  He then proceeded to carve up the 66'ers lineup with a solid 3 pitch mix anchored by a 91 MPH fastball.  The FB velocity sat at 91 for the first 4-5 innings then dropped to 88-90, but he was still dialing it up to 90 when he had to in the 8'th inning.

He allowed a single and double to open the 8'th, then got Cal League HR king, Zach Borenstein, to ground out while the runners held.  Andy Skeels then brought in Tyler Rogers a 2013 draftee to relieve against a string of RH batters.  Rogers is an extreme sidewinder/submariner who was not able to command his pitches and allowed both inherited runners to score as well as one of his own.  Add in the silent SJ offense and it was a hard luck night for Ty Blach.

Blach is a sturdy looking LHP who has an upright windup with a high 3/4 deliver.  He has a rather abrupt deceleration then kind of falls forward after releasing the ball.

As for 66'er's starter Orangel Arenas, he is a 24 yo RHP from Venezuela who has been pitching in the minors forever.  He has a 91 MPH FB but rarely threw it while keeping the Giants hitters completely off balance with a steady diet of breaking balls.

Kyle Crick takes the mound for the Giants tomorrow night at San Manuel Stadium in San Bernardino.

Down on the Farm: 9/11/2013

The San Jose Giants won the deciding game of their semifinal California League playoff series over the Visalia Rawhide 9-5 to advance to the championship series against the Inland Empire 66'ers:

Matt Duffy(SS)- 2 for 4, BB.  BA= .389.
Mac Williamson(RF)- 2 for 4, BB.  BA= .368.
Ricky Oropesa(1B)- 2 for 5, HR(4).  BA= .364.
Trevor Brown(2B)- 2 for 5, 2B.  BA= .474.
Devin Harris(DH)- 3 for 5, 2B, HR(3).  BA= .286.
Myles Schroder(3B)- 2 for 4, 2 2B, HBP, SB(1).  BA= .118.
Pat Young(RHP)- 3.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K's.  ERA= 2.70.
Kelvin Marte(LHP)- 4.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 2.08.
Derek Law(RHP)- 1 IP, 2 H 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.00.

All above stats are for the postseason only.  As you can see, many SJ hitters had a very good series!  Ricky's dinger was his 4'th in the series.  Pat Young didn't make it to the 4'th inning and was hurt by an error, but the 7 K's in 3.2 IP against just 1 BB is impressive.

The Inland Empire 66'ers won their series finale over the Lancaster Jethawks 4-3 in 15 innings!  This has to be a bitter defeat for the Jethawks who won both halves of the regular season in the Southern Division.  The Championship series starts in San Bernardino tonight where games 1 and 2 will be played.  I will make every effort to attend both games.  I presume Blach will pitch game 1 with Cricky going in game 2 so Friday night is the game to attend if you have to choose.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Game Wrap 9/11/2013: Giants 4 Rockies 3

The Giants won a tight battle with the Rockies as Brandon Belt had the GW hit.  Key Lines:

Marco Scutaro- 2 for 4, 2B, BB.  BA= .299.  I saw Scooter grab his lower back during an AB in yesterday's game, but he showed up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed today and told Boch he really wanted to play.  The hit parade continues!

Brandon Belt- 1 for 3, 2 BB.  BA= .284.  Another nice game for Belt as he reaches base 3 times and drives in the winning run.

Brandon Crawford- 2 for 4, 2B.  BA= .260.  Crawford got a rest yesterday and came back with a strong game today.

Yusmeiro Petit- 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 7 K's.  ERA= 2.53.  Petit started out like he was going to try to finish what he started in his last start retiring the first 9 batters he faced.  As it was, he came within 1 out of a QS.  Kontos would have allowed one of Petit's runners to score, but Roger K hosed Arenado at the plate.

The Giants now travel to LA for a 4 gamer with Matt Cain opposing Zack Greinke in game 1.

Down on the Farm: 9/10/2013

The San Jose Giants mirrored the effort of the parent club and ended up losing a hit fest at the end 6-5 to even their best of 5 semi-final series with the Visalia Rawhide:

Jesus Galindo(CF)- 2 for 4, Sac, CS/PO.
Trevor Brown(2B)- 2 for 4.
Ricky Oropesa(1B)- 1 for 4, HR.
Jeff Arnold(C)- 2 for 4.
Elliott Blair(LF)- 1 for 3, 2B, BB.  BA= .250.
Clayton Blackburn(RHP)- 6 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 8 K's, 2 HR.
Jose Casilla(RHP)- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K's.

Ricky has 3 dingers in 3 games.  Blackburn had his usual stellar K/BB but gave up the longballs.  That sometimes happens with command/control pitchers.

Pat Young gets the start in the deciding game of the series tonight.

In the Southern Division, Lancaster Jethawks evened their series with the Inland Empire 66'ers at 2 games each.

Game Wrap 9/10/2013: Rockies 9 Giants 8

Hunter Pence and the Giants offense built a 6-0 lead that the pitchers could not hold and they ended up losing a hit fest.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 2 for 4, 2B, 2 BB.  BA= .278.  Pagan is on fire since returning from the DL.  Keeping him healthy seems to be a big key for next year.

Marco Scutaro- 3 for 6.  BA= .297.  Scooter and his magical bat keep cranking out the hits.

Hunter Pence- 4 for 5, 2B, HR(20).  BA= .289.  The Rev's 3 run dinger off the LF foul pole built a 3 run lead in the first  He kept adding on for a total of 6 RBI's.  He now officially has a 20/20 season.  His offseason value keeps climbing.

Ryan Vogelsong- 5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 0 K's.  ERA= 5.82.  There were a lot of hard-hit balls in the first 4 innings but Vogey continues a disturbing trend of falling apart all at once.  Even his top velocity is down about 4 MPH to around 88, but when the roof caves in, it drops precipitously even further into the mid 80's.  Strange.  Starting to wonder if the Giants should/will pick up his option this offseason.

George Kontos- 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 4.65.  Kontos seems to be relying less on his slider and has found a second wind here in Sept.

Giants are now in 9'th place in the race for the #1 overall draft pick in 2014.

Yusmeiro Petit faces Juan Nicasio in the afternoon finale to the series.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Down on the Farm: 9/9/2013

San Jose Giants crushed the Visalia Rawhide 9-2 to take a 2-1 lead in their best of 5 semi-final Cal League playoff series:

Matt Duffy(SS)- 2 for 4, 2B, BB.
Mac Williamson(RF)- 3 for 5, 2B, HR, Assist.
Ricky Oropesa(1B)- 2 for 5, HR.
Trevor Brown(2B)- 3 for 5.
Devin Harris(DH)- 1 for 4, HR.
Jesus Galindo(CF)- 2 for 3, Sac
Adalberto Mejia(LHP)- 6 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K's.

The Giants broke out the hitting sticks for this one.  Mejia gave up some hits but held the scoring down.  Clayton Blackburn tries to clinch the series facing Andrew Barbosa tonight.

Meanwhile Inland Empire 66'ers took a 2-1 lead over the Lancaster Jethawks in their Southern Division Semi-final series with a 6-2 win.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Game Wrap 9/9/2013: Giants 3 Rockies 2

Tim Lincecum had a Quality Start while Brandon Belt drove in the tying run in the bottom of the 8'th inning and the walkoff winning run in the bottom of the 10'th.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 3 for 5.  BA= .274.   The team was in second place when Pagan went down and they have certainly played much better since his return.  He scored 2 of the 3 runs in this one.

Brandon Belt- 2 for 5, 2B.  BA= .283.  Belt is now firmly established as a guy you anticipate giving the Giants a chance to score in an inning where he bats.

Buster Posey- 2 for 4, HR(15).  BA= .312.  Buster's finger does not seem to be hurting him at the plate.  He seemed to do OK behind the plate too.

Tim Lincecum- 8 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 4.40.  Timmy economized his pitches and took this one through 8.  Very nice effort!  Dave Cameron of Fangraphs thinks the Giants should give Timmy a Qualifying Offer and that he should reject it.  This is based mostly on the differential between his ERA and FIP/xFIP.  The only problem with that analysis is it ignores the cause of that differential, which is that Timmy loses his command when he's in the stretch.  That seems to be slowly getting better, though.

Ryan Vogelsong takes on Jorge De La Rosa tomorrow evening.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Down on the Farm: 9/8/2013

High A  San Jose Giants evened their semifinal playoff series against the Visalia Rawhide with a 2-0 shutout victory:

Matt Duffy(SS)- 2 for 3, BB.
Ricky Oropesa(1B)- 1 for 4, HR.
Elliott Blair(CF)- 1 for 3, 2B, BB.
Kyle Crick(RHP)- 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K's, GO/AO- 9/1, 90 pitches, 65 strikes.

It was the Cricky and Ricky show today.  Oh man!  It doesn't get a lot better than having the top prospect in your organization dominate like Crick did in a must-win playoff game.  Love it, love it, love it!! Oh, and Matt Duffy!

Game Wrap 9/8/2013: Giants 3 D'Backs 2

Hector Sanchez was the offensive star of a makeshift lineup as the Giants won a tight contest with a walkoff run in the bottom of the 12'th inning.  Key Lines:

Buster Posey- 2 for 5, 2B.  BA= .310.  Buster played 1B with a broken finger.  He is obviously able to swing the bat OK.

Hector Sanchez- 3 for 5.  BA= .281.  The Hector accounted for 2 of the Giants 3 runs with an RBI and Adrianza scoring the game winner after pinch running for him.  Hector is hitting .382 over his last 10 games and .288/345/.500 in 22 games/52 AB since the All-Star break.  Sounds like Bochy is thinking seriously about a future of Hector doing most of the catching with Buster Posey playing some other position.

Madison Bumgarner- 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K's  ERA= 2.82.  Good thing Bummy didn't have to deal with Hector Sanchez and his atrocious pitch framing.....wait, what?

Paul Goldschmidt(D'Backs)- 0 for 3, 2 IBB.  Now THAT is more like it!  Bochy has historically been reluctant to issue intentional walks to the opposing team's best hitter.  Us old-timers can remember when he used to let Barry Bonds swing away against the Padres and we all thanked him profusely for that!  When you are facing a team with 1 hitter who is head and shoulders above the rest of the lineup as Goldy is, you do not let him beat you!

The Rockies now come to town with Tim Lincecum facing Jhoulys Chacin in the opener Monday night.

Down on the Farm: 9/7/2013

Visalia Rawhide defeated the San Jose Giants in game 1 of their 5 game semi-final Cal League playoff series 4-2:

Ricky Oropesa(1B)- 2 for 4.
Devin Harris(LF)- 1 for 4, HR.
Ty Blach(LHP)- 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K's.
Austin Fleet(RHP)- 1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 1 K.
Pat Young(RHP)- 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K's.

Pretty good start for Blach.  Pat Young has a successful high A debut.  Fleet has bounced back and forth between Fresno and San Jose.  He didn't help here.

Kyle Crick takes the mound today in game 2.

Game Wrap 9/7/2013: D'Backs 2 Giants 1

Matt Cain had a Quality Start, but as is so often the case, got no support in a losing cause.  Key Lines:

Matt Cain- 6.1 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 4.37.  I did not see the game.  Although it was a QS, the line does not look like a classic Cainer line.  What happened in that Perfect Game last year?  Did he suffer an injury we don't know about?  Is there something psychological in knowing that was probably the best game he will ever pitch?  That game definitely marks a demarcation in his career.  He has not been quite the same since.

Hunter Pence had 2 hits and Angel Pagan had 2 assists from the OF.  Beyond that, it was a very forgettable night for the Giants position players.

The Giants are in 7'th place in the race for the #1 overall draft pick in 2014.

Madison Bumgarner faces lefty Wade Miley in the series finale this afternoon.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Down on the Farm: 9/6/2013

Low A  Savannah Sand Gnats shut out the Augusta Greenjackets 5-0 to eliminate the 'Jackets from the SAL playoffs:

Not much to see here.  The Greenjackets managed just 2 hits and Kendry Flores was not himself allowing 5 runs in 6.1 IP.  Stephen Johnson cleaned up with 1.2 scoreless IP.  Nice season for the Augusta club, though.

San Jose Giants start their Cal League semifinal playoff series vs Visalia today with Ty Blach getting the start.

Game Wrap 9/6/2013: Giants 3 D'Backs 0

Yusmeiro Petit retired the first 26 batters he faced before allowing a hit to pinch-hitter Eric Chavez that landed inches from the outstretched glove of Hunter Pence in RF.  It was the 12'th time in MLB history that a pitcher has lost a perfect game with 1 out to go.  Key Lines:

Hunter Pence- 3 for 3, 2B, HR(19), BB.  BA= .287.  The Rev is now just 1 HR away from a 20/20 season and is offseason FA payday is getting bigger by the game.  Might have gotten a split second late jump on Chavez liner that broke up the game, but I doubt any fielder gets to it.

Hector Sanchez- 3 for 3.  BA= .264.  I'm not sure how Petit managed to come within 1 out of a perfecto while having to deal with Sanchez' terrible pitch calling and framing.  OK, team.  Can we put that completely false meme to rest?  Sanchez was framing the pitches just fine because wherever he put his glove, Petit hit it right in the pocket.  When you are catching a pitcher with good command, you don't have to move the glove or stab at the ball.  When you are catching a pitcher who has no idea where the pitch is going, then yeah, you are going to be stabbing all night because you have no idea where it's going either.

Yusmeiro Petit- 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K's, GO/AO= 13/3, 95 Pitches, 69 strikes.  Petit's FB topped out at 91 MPH and ranged from 88-91, but he had a 4-seamer, 2 seamer and cutter going along with a slider and curveball with a rare changeup thrown in.  More importantly, he was able to pound the both corners at the knees plus elevate for a K or popup after establishing the bottom of the K zone.

So, I guess the question on everybody's mind is whether this is a fluke or if he is a serious candidate for next year's rotation.

Yusmeiro Petit was once a highly touted pitching prospect in the Mets organization.  He made his name as a prospect by putting up tremendous K/BB's at a young age.  Just one example:  2005 AA Age 20:  9-3, 2.91, 117.2 IP, 18 BB, 130 K's.  He was then traded to the Florida Marlins in 2006 and then the D'Backs in 2007.  His walk rates went up a little and his HR rates went through the roof.  He developed a reputation as a guy who maybe had too good control.  Maybe he was afraid to walk guys and was in the K zone too much and too fat and was giving up a lot of hard hits.  He spent 2011 in the Mexican League.

The Giants pulled him out of the dumpster in 2012 and he put up numbers similar to the old days when he was a prospect with the Mets:  7-7, 3.46, 166.2 IP, 36 BB, 153 K's.  More importantly, he kept his HR rate down despite pitching in a lot of PCL launching pads.  He returned to Fresno in 2013 and after a rough start, settled down to his commanding ways:  5-6, 4.52, 87.2 IP, 13 BB, 91 K's.

My interpretation of all those numbers is this:  What Petit is doing now is exactly what we would expect to see from him at the MLB level based on his numbers when he was a young prospect with the Mets.  His type of pitcher needs a lot of refinement to his game in order to make that last jump to the majors.  Petit has spent the last 2 seasons in Fresno making those refinements.  The PCL is a tough, tough place to pitch.  You have to keep your walks down and you have to keep the ball down in the zone to keep it in the ballpark.  What we are seeing now is the finally finished product that the Mets and prospect watchers were hoping to see back in 2005.  28 is old for a prospect but not old for a pitcher.  He should in the midst of his peak years and should be able to maintain his success for another 4-5 years before physical decline starts to set in.  While I don't think you can just hand a guy like this a starting job next year, he should be given an opportunity to win a spot in the rotation as there is a high probability that his currrent performance is sustainable.

Matt Cain comes off the DL to face Brandon McCarthy in game 3 of the series tonight.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Scouting the Draft: Mack's Mock 2014

Mack, from Big League Futures, linked over to the left, posted his first Mock Draft for 2014.  He used the standings as of 9/4 which put the Giants in the 6'th slot.  Here are the top 10 plus some more(you will see how deep this draft it):

1.  Houston- LHP Carlos Rodon, NC State.  Frontline starter off the shelf. Should be a MLB starter by early 2015.

2.  Miami- RHP Touki Toussaint, HS.  Loose armed kid with a big fastball.  Will need some development.

3.  Chicago(AL)- RHP Tyler Beede, Vanderbilt.  3 plus pitches. Needs to polish his command.

4.  Chicago(NL)- SS Trea Turner, NC State.  Rare 5 tool college SS. Has been compared to Tulo.

5.  Milwaukee- C Alex Jackson, HS.  Some scouts think he has the best HS bat in the draft.  Others say he's more of a corner OF with little or no projection.

6.  Giants- SS  Nick Gordon, HS.  Son of Tom "Flash" Gordon and brother of Dee Gordon.  A true SS with blinding speed like his bro.  Frame is a big sturdier than Dee's which may allow him to avoid being overpowered at the plate.

7.  Minnesota- 3B Jack Flaherty, HS.  Mack thinks he is the top power hitting prospect in the draft who projects to hit for average too.

8.  San Diego- OF Derek Fisher, Virginia.  Gap power.  Poor sophomore numbers.  I say there are lots of better choices here.

9.  Philadelphia- RHP Jeff Hoffman, East Carolina.  Top pitcher in the Cape Cod League this summer.  Hits mid-high 90's with finesse.  I'm not sold yet.

10.  Seattle- RHP Dylan Cease, HS.  FB 92-95 with command.  Developing secondary stuff.

11.  Toronto- RHP Tyler Kolek, HS.  I think Mack has this guy too low.  He'd be my pick at #6 but I think he might go higher.  Classic big-boned Texas RHP who sits in the upper 90's. Has hit 100 and hit 99 in the Perfect Game All-American Classic.  Looks like Roger Clemens to me.

12.  Toronto- OF Michael Conforto, Oregon St.  A fierce hitter for both power and average in college.  Some scouts question whether he can maintain the BA in the pros.  I really like him, but he does not fit the profile of a Giants first round pick.

13.  New York Mets- OF Michael Gettys, HS.  One of the best athletes in the draft.  Can both pitch and play CF but has the size you would expect of a corner player.  Bat is raw, but has potential to be special. Hit 100 MPH on a throw from the OF.


15.  Angels- SS Jacob Gatewood, HS.  Future physical monster who nobody thinks will stay as SS.  He's 6'5" and thin with all kinds of room to fill out his frame.  Had the only XBH at the PG All-American game. I saw it and it was a laser shot directly over the head of the LF that banged off the LF wall about 2 feet up.  If you want to shoot for the moon and are willing to take a risk, this is your guy.  I would seriously consider him if I held the #1 overall pick.

17.  Washington- RHP Michael Cederoth, SD State.  6'6" flamethrower who routinely hits triple digits on the gun.  Walks a few more than he should but that is quibbling.  May be a future closer.

21.  New York Yankees- RHP Luis Ortiz, HS.  Big bodied RHP in the mold of Matt Cain, who will pound the zone for inning after inning.

If you are a name freak, in addition to Touki Toussaint, who would be worth drafting for the name alone, there is also a kid named Handsome Monica and another named Jedediah Fagg.  Yeah, those are real names!

Game Wrap 9/4/2013: D'Backs 4 Giants 2

Ryan Vogelsong hit a wall with 2 outs in the 5'th inning.  6 batters and 4 runs later, a 2-0 lead had become a 4-2 deficit which held to the end of the game.  Key Lines:

Pablo Sandoval- 2 for 4, 3B.  BA= .279.  Sandoval is no a tear.

Marco Scutaro(.298) and Brandon Belt(.285) had 2 hits each.

Ryan Vogelsong- 4.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 3 BB.  ERA= 5.62.  Vogey allowed just 2 hits going into the 5'th inning.  He dispatched the first 2 batters with ease, then the roof caved in.  There was some BABIPing involved as the first hit barely got past Crawford the rolled into a large gap in left-center for a double.  A couple of other hits seemed to have eyes for where fielders weren't standing.  On the other hand, all of the hits were pretty much squared up and Vogey seemed to rapidly lose velocity on the FB and bit on the curveball.  As Barry Zito can attest, when your fastball is 85 MPH and your curveball is hanging, the BABIP tends to get ugly.

Jake Dunning- 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 3.10.
George Kontos- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 4.91.
Heath Hembree- 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 0.00.  The future of the bullpen seems to be in good hands here.  Hembree, in particular, impressed again by pounding the bottom of the strike zone with fastballs that got up to 94 MPH augmented by that tight slider that was not quite as tight tonight as his first appearance in SD.

Buster Posey has a small fracture on the tip of his right 4'th finger.  He seems to want to get back in there within a few days.  For what purpose?

Bruce Bochy appeared to close the book on Barry Zito's Giants career by saying he has no plans to start him again before the end of the season.

The Loss left the Giants in 7'th place in the race for the #1 overall draft pick.

Yusmeiro Petit faces Patrick Corbin in game 2 of the series.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Down on the Farm: 9/4/2013

Low A  Savannah Sand Gnats trounced the Augusta Greenjackets 10-2:

Mitch Delfino(3B)- 2 for 4.
Ben Turner(C)- 3 for 4.
Chuckie Jones(RF)- 2 for 4.
Martin Agosta(RHP)- 4.1 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 3 K's.
Joe Kurrasch(LHP)- 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.

Agosta allowed 1 run over the first 4 innings then the wheels came off in the 5'th as Savannah put up a 6 spot.

Short Season  Boise Hawks eliminated the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 11-7:

Leonardo Rojas(DH)- 2 for 5.
John Polonius(SS)- 3 for 3.
Ryan Tuntland(PR-3B)- 1 for 1, HR.
Dan Slania(RHP)- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K's.
Raymundo Montero(RHP)- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.

The Volcanoes committed 5 errors in this one, although just 2 of the Hawks runs were unearned.  There were also a total of 5 WP's and 4 HBP's in the game so it was quite the ragged affair.  So, the Volcanoes season is over, just like that.  Man, these 3 game playoffs are brutal!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Game Wrap 9/4/2013: Giants 13 Padres 5

Pablo Sandoval led a Giants 6 HR barrage with 3 of his own as the Giants won going away.  Key Lines:

Hunter Pence- 2 for 5, 2B, HR(18).  BA= .284.  When the Rev hits 'em out, they go a long ways.  This one reached well into the second deck at Petco, no small feat.

Pablo Sandoval- 4 for 5, 3 HR(13).  BA= .277.  Holy moly!  Sandoval has definitely had a resurgence since he got on a better diet and lost some of his weight, but he had not been showing signs of increased power.  Then this!  I've had my frustrations with Sandoval, but through it all, I did not drop him from my Savvy Vets  fantasy baseball team.  He singlehandedly put my team in the lead in 4 offensive categories for the week with this game.

Hector Sanchez- 1 for 5, HR(3).  BA= .247.  Sanchez hit this one from the right side and it carried over the deepest part of the wall at Pectco park in left-center.  I'm tellin' ya, if this kid can keep himself in shape and in good health, the sky is the limit.  I'm gonna predict it right here.  He makes the All-Star team someday!  He's only 24 years old.

Brandon Crawford-  1 for 5, HR(9).  BA= .260.  Crawford's bomb was pulled down the RF line and he got all of it.  A truly monster shot.  Crawford has been struggling at the plate hitting just .118 over his last 10.  It's not clear that this dinger is the end of that slump.

Tim Lincecum- 5.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 4.50.  Timmy pitched better than this line looks.  He came within 1 out of pitching a QS.  2 of the walks came in the 6'th and Mijares allowed two inherited runners to score.

Mike Kickham- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.  ERA= 9.85.  Although we would all like to see Kickham get another start, the strategy of giving him 1 low-leverage inning at a time may be the best thing for him right now.  He needs to keep pitching clean innings and build his confidence.  He has the stuff!

The Giants now return to SF and start a 4 gamer against the D'Backs with Ryan Vogelsong facing Trevor Cahill tomorrow evening.

Down on the Farm: 9/3/2013

Short Season  Boise Hawks took Game 1 of the 3-game playoff series with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 3-0:

Chase Johnson(RHP)- 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K's.

Johnson and the bullpen pitched well, but the Volcanoes, who have hit a ton this year, managed just 4 baserunners.

Game Wrap 9/3/2013: Padres 3 Giants 2

The Giants, once again, could not get baserunners home to save their lives which led to a close defeat.  Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 3 for 5, 2B, 3B, SB(8).  BA= .270.  Each of Pagan's hits led off an inning and he didn't score.  Amazing!

Tony Abreu- 0 for 5.  BA= .242.  A miserable night for Abreu who played 2B in place of Scutaro and batted second.  The batter in front of him plus the two batters behind him went a combined 7 for 15.  Hey, maybe next time Bochy needs to rest Scutaro and sit Crawford against a LHP, he might consider a configuration of Arias at 2B with Adrianza at SS.

Brandon Belt- 2 for 5, 2B.  BA= .282.  Belt had 2 hits, but made outs each time Pagan was on base ahead of him, and no, I'm not blaming Belt for the loss.  There is BABIP luck and there is clutch luck.  The Giants have had a pretty good dose of both this year on the negative side.

Buster Posey- 2 for 3.  BA= .309.  Buster took a foul off the 4'th finger of his right hand and had to leave the game.  It seems like just a bent back fingernail, and at this point he is planning to miss just one game.  No need to rush it at this point in the season, though.  Maybe someone can educate me on this.  Aren't catchers supposed to keep their throwing hand clenched and tucked behind them until the ball is received?

Madison Bumgarner- 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 2.91.  Another Caining for Bummy.

Heath Hembree- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.00.  Very nice MLB debut for Hembree whose family flew out from South Carolina to see the game.  He featured a FB that topped out at 92 MPH but looked faster and he was able to spot it on the corners and keep it down in the strike zone.  He backed that up with a tight slider that he threw on any count.  I did not see anything that I would call a changeup in his 11 pitch inning.  Hembree showed off a weird mouth tick between pitches so he's already in big league form with that.  Equipment manager Mike Murphy raised some eyebrows by giving Hembree #38.  I'm going to take a wild guess and say this may have as much to do with what Murph thought of the previous owner of the number as what he thinks of the kid!

The Loss puts the Giants in 6'th place in the race for the #1 overall pick in the 2014 draft.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Down on the Farm: 9/2/2013

Final day of the regular minor league season:

AAA  Fresno Grizzlies edged out the Colorado Springs Skysox 4-3:

Mitch Lively(RHP)- 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 4.72.
Brett Bochy(RHP)- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 3.99.

Gary Brown did not start this game. He came in as a defensive replacement late.  Not sure what, if anything, that means.  The Grizzlies finish the season with a 68-75 record and last place in the PCL Pacific Southern Division, 12.5 games behind the division winning Las Vegas 51's.  I would chalk up the poor W-L record to too many callups and players shuttled in and out along with an unexpectedly very poor season from Gary Brown, who should have been the top prospect on the team.

AA  Harrisburg Senators whitewashed the Richmond Flying Squirrels 1-0:

Ryan Bradley(LHP)- 5 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K's.  ERA= 6.37.
Josh Osich(LHP)- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 4.85.

The Squirrels managed just 2 hits in the game.  The Squirrels finished with a 70-72 record in 4'th place in the EL Western Division, 7 games behind division winning Harrisburg.  As usual, the Giants AA position prospects struggled to hit consistently, but the real problem with this team is until Edwin Escobar arrived on the scene, the pitching was substandard.

High A  Inland Empire 66'ers defeated the San Jose Giants 6-3:

Myles Schroder(3B)- 2 for 4, 2 2B.  BA= .296.
Devin Harris(LF)- 2 for 4, HR(23).  BA= .258.
Eric Sim(C)- 1 for 2, 2B, BB.  BA= .276.

Mac went 0 for 4 to finish with a .292 BA.  Myles Schroder came up just short of .300 but had another outstanding game at the plate.  The Giants finish the second half of the season with a 40-30 record 3 games behind the Modesto Nuts in the North Division.  The Giants were the first half winners in the North with a record of 43-27.  The Lancaster Jethawks won both halves of the South Division.  The Giants finished with the best overall record in the league at 83-57 1 game ahead of the Jethawks.  As first half champion of the North, the Giants get a first round bye in the playoffs.  Then they will play a Division Final best of 5 series against the winner of the first round mini-series(3 games).  The league championship series is a best of 5.  Great season by the SJ Giants mainly due to tremendous pitching.  Mac Williamson had an outstanding season at the plate and in the field and Myles Schroder emerged as a possible sleeper prospect.

Low A  Augusts Greenjackets completed their suspended game from yesterday with a win over the Ashevulle Tourists 6-2:

MItch Delfino(3B)- 3 for 4.  BA= .270.
Shayne Houck(LF)- 2 for 4, HR(5).  BA= .235.
Travious Relaford(SS)- 2 for 4, HR(2).  BA= .221.
Joan Gregorio(RHP)- 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 4.00.
Stephen Johnson(RHP)- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 3.61.

For those of you wondering what happened to Joan Gregorio, he's back!!  Stephen Johnson seems to have made great strides this season.  The regularly scheduled game was cancelled. The Greenjackets won the second half of the Southern Division of the SAL with a record of 44-24.  The now face the first half winning Savannah Sand Gnats in a best of 3 game playoff.  The winner then moves on to the league championship series which is best of 5.  The Greenjackets were led by tremendous pitching with Kendry Flores emerging as the ace of the staff.  Matt Duffy had a great first half at the plate and earned a mid-season promotion to San Jose.  Chuckie Jones emerged as an offensive force in the second half.  3B Mitch Delfino also had a strong second half as did 1B Joey Rapp.  Jesus Galindo stole 48 bases and had a .342 OBP, but was in and out of the lineup in the second half due to injuries.

Short Season  Salem-Keizer Volcanoes topped the Eugene Emeralds 6-4:

Tyler Hollick(CF)- 0 for 2, 2 BB, SB(20).  BA= .262.
Leonardo Rojas(DH)- 2 for 3, HBP.  BA= .306.
Brandon Bednar(SS)- 2 for 4, 2B, HR(6).  BA= .272.
Shilo McCall(LF)- 1 for 4, 3B.  BA= .235.
Jake Smith(RHP)- 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K's.  ERA= 3.61.

Smith started 4 games out of 19 appearances.  He ended up with 54 K's in 43.1 IP, but walked 21 batters in the same span.  The Volcanoes won both halves of their season.  They will now face the Boise Hawks who had the second best overall record in the South division in a best of 3 series.  The winner will then face the North division winner in a best of 3 championship series.  The Volcanoes got great performances from multiple members of the 2013 draft class and they didn't even have the first and second rounders who were HS draftees and made their pro debuts in Arizona.

Game Wrap 9/2/2013: Padres 4 Giants 1

The Giants had their chances to get into this one, but ended up sleepwalking through Petco Park.  Key Lines:

Brandon Belt- 2 for 3, 2B, BB.  BA= .280.  I think someone told us Brandon Belt would produce a .280/.360/.475 line with 15 HR's, we'd have all said, "yeah, that's about the right progression for him," no?  He has the rest of the month to add to that HR total too.  He hit .350/.421/.630 for the month of August and has hit .315/.388/.531 in 37 games since the All-Star Break.  His R-L splits are almost identical.  He's better away than at home, which you might expect since AT&T is so tough on LH batters.  For a guy who at one point his season appeared to be headed toward oblivion, he sure has turned it around!  He is just 25 years old, so has not even reached what should be his peak years yet.  He has to be a major building block for the future and the Giants have to be pleased as punch at the way he turned his season around.

Buster Posey- 1 for 4.  BA= .307.  The 5'th inning was a microcosm of the Giants season and why I continue to believe that at least part of their failure this season is due to the luck of the BABIP gods.  With 2 outs and a run in, the Giants had runners at 2'nd and 3'rd and Buster Posey at the plate.  Buster worked the count to 3-2 then hit a line drive directly over the head of the 3B Forsythe who reached up and snagged it.  3 or 4 inches higher or a foot the the right or left, that ball drives in both runners and it's a 1 run ballgame.  As it turned out, it was the high water mark for the Giants in this one.  If the Giants were lucky in 2010 and 2012, they have been every bit as unlucky this year!

Barry Zito- 4 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 3 K's.  ERA= 5.91.  Unfortunately, I don't think we can attribute Barry Zito's terrible numbers to luck anymore.  He was barely able to get his fastball, if that's what it was, up to 80 MPH.  To make matters worse, his pitches were up in the zone.  Can't get MLB hitters out with that kind of stuff!  Bochy hinted strongly that Petit would not be coming out of the rotation when Matt Cain returns and Zito is the obvious odd man out.  There was a rumor on Extra Giants that the Giants plan to start Zito on Fan Appreciation Day so he can get one last round of applause.  Maybe for a ceremonial 1 batter or at the most 1 inning.  More than that would be more like fan unappreciation day!  I mean, who wants to go to a game and see this?

Guillermo Moscoso- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 4.43.  Moscoso could be in the mix for long man out of the pen next year or the 5'th starter depending on how things shake out with Timmy.  For now, he's become fairly reliable for burning up 2 innings per appearance out of the pen.

Jean Machi- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 2.72.  This is a guy who I think has to be back next year.  He might enable the Giants to let some more expensive bullpen pieces go.

The Loss leaves the Giants in 8'th place for the #1 pick in the 2014 draft.