Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thoughts on the Giants 2014 NLDS

Here are some random thoughts on the recently completed NLDS series in which the Giants took down a superior(at least on paper) Washington Nationals team:

The extended rest seemed to really help both Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong.  Thinking back to Huddy's struggles in the second half, how much of that was just him needing a bit of rest to recharge that 39 year old body?  That gets me to thinking about something I've been toying with for awhile.  Why not have a spot starter on the team that does more than eat innings while waiting for someone to go on the DL or for a doubleheader?  Why not have a planned series of skipped starts in which the spot starter is plugged in and the regular starter in that slot gets 9 days between starts?  I don't have data, but it just seems to me that we've seen starters energies flag in the dog days and then pick up after a short trip to the DL or some other form of time off enough that it might be worth taking some preventive action.

The Giants lineup is left-handed heavy.  Except for Crawford and maybe Panik, the LH bats are pretty much automatic outs against good LH relievers.  That situation is exacerbated by Pablo's struggles when batting right-handed.  When a lefty is in there, we have to pretty much wait for Posey and Pence to come up and hope they can put something together.  Fortunately, the Cardinals only have one lefty in their pen, at least that I can think of right now.

The way to beat a superior team(at least on paper) in a playoff series is for the pitching to step up and lock them down into low scoring games.  In tight, low scoring games, things like defense, smart baserunning, mistakes and decisionmaking become decisive.  Those are areas where the Giants seem to have a definite advantage over most, if not all, teams.  It sure worked against the Nationals!

Bryce Harper is really, really good!

Stephen Strasburg might be a bit overrated.  The talent is obvious, but the command can get shaky and the secondary stuff can go away.

Jordan Zimmermann is really, really good.  Might be the most underrated pitcher in baseball.

Bruce Bochy does not appear to have any faith in Tim Lincecum right now.  Might as well leave him off the roster and get another usable arm in the bullpen.

Yusmeiro Petit is amazing and the Giants secret weapon.

For the Giants to score runs, it is essential for the top of the lineup to get on base a lot.

What's with using Gary Brown's head for a bongo drum?  Poor Gary did not look too pleased when Juan Perez became the latest teammate to try beating out a rhythm on his head.

What are your thoughts on the NLDS?  Or anything else related to the Giants or baseball in general?

40 comments:

  1. I told everyone. Rally Bongo is why Brown was on the roster. We'll see how Morse does... might have to shave his head.

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  2. Another thought: Jayson Werth appears to be quite conscious of his own appearance most of the time.

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    1. We should thank Jayson for not swinging at a lot of hittable pitches. He had one really well hit ball, and Pence made the catch of the year. There is such a thing as being too patient, and Werth just flashed it up big time.

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    2. Every time the Nats came up to bat, I would mumble aloud to my son (another Giants fan - Father of the Year nominee!) that I didn't want Harper (obvious talent, but still a punk) or Rendon (probably a reaction to the ROY talk) beat us. But if Werth went deep, then it was okay, because he looks like Jesus. I'm a lazy Lutheran, but I couldn't go against Him. Thankfully, he answered my prayers and went 1 for alot. Now Harper....

      NWGiantsFan
      DtF!!!

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    3. "…he looks like Jesus." LOL! Or Mountain Mike! I really wonder what Werth is trying to look like, because he sure gives off the vibe that it's all very calculated.

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  3. On the lefty front, Cards edition, they rostered 3 for the NLDS: Marco Gonzalez, Randy Choate and Sam Freeman. Marco Gonzo was 19th overall in the 2013 draft, Randy Choate is the 13 year vet/39 year old loogy - pitched badly for the Doyers in 2012 and Sam Freeman was picked in the 32nd round back in 2008, he's 27 years young.

    I think the big conversation is Marco Gonzo. Will they ask him to eat 2 innings at a time? Freeman was used as a loogy/1 inning guy.

    I hope Morse is used as big pop off the bench and not a starter. The cold hard fact is weaknesses are exposed in the playoffs and any ball hit to left is a huge liability with him out there. On that front: hit it to left against the Cards! Holliday is quite likely just as bad a fielder as Morse.

    I agree with you on Stras being overrated and Zimmermann being criminally underrated.

    I don't think Posey will be calling for inside fastballs or even over the plate fastballs next time we face Harper. After he gets one in the ribs. I think some of this can be chaulked up to youth, but he is a pretty big jackhole as well. Interesting talk about Trout/Harper in the last post. Harper definitely won the first playoff side-by-side, I think he's a better hitter overall than Trout, but not quite there with him with fielding and baserunning. Should be fun to see them play for years to come, they are the big time stars of MLB.

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    1. Forgot about Marco Gonzalez. He may be the Cards secret weapon much like Yusmeiro Petit for the Giants.

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  4. So the Giants have a chance to win out for recent supremacy. This should be hammer and tongs. Bochy is finally getting talk as a hall of fame manager, the guy who wrote the book on the Rays put up an article on Grantland today. Hope he doesn't get any big ideas to write about Los Gigantes, we don't need that twisted hype. But a little recognition is good stuff.

    The Giants also have a chance to go to 2nd overall in WS appearances, the Cards and G's are tied at 19 currently. Wins is a different story: Yanks 27, Cards 11, A's 9, Red Sox 8, Giants 7, Dodgers 6, Reds/Pirates 5. The Yanks winning percentage directly effects the Dodgers/Giants losing percentage: Yanks have 13 losses, Bums/Gints 12. Yanks WP: 675. Bums: 333. Gints: 368.

    Big time bragging rights on the line. While the Bums sit and stew.

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    1. I enjoyed the Grantland piece (not as much as Dan Brown's in the Merc today though), but I do have to question the timing. The question I kept asking myself was, would Keri have written that piece if the Giants hadn't advanced this year? The recognition is great indeed, but I still shake my head at these national writers more often than not.

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  5. Skipping a start.

    They have done it before, but not often. In fact, more like, rarely (excluding medical issues)...only if the pitcher needed to work out something mechanically.

    I think you have to get a pitcher to buy into that, if he's not hurt (badly). Some competitive ones would not want to skip a start, if just 'feeling a little comfortably.'

    I look at Cain and wonder, you had this discomfort, this issue, and you decided to pitch through it in the last couple of seasons?


    But if you can get the players to go along, like the NBA team Spurs, then it's possible.

    Perhaps you talk about it in spring training.

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    Replies
    1. Make that '...a little discomfort..'

      In other news, Josh Beckett is retiring.

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  6. Hey Doc enjoy the blog very much..

    Couldn't agree more about the lefty starter point you made. I think against the Giants if you don't have one it plays to they're strengths and (not getting too ahead of myself there a a few lefty starter remaining amongst the rest) if you look at what lost the series for the Dodgers the bullpen..that will not be the case for the Giants.

    All and all, I like our chances.

    -IG

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  7. Giants biggest advantage is defense. We match up better at practically every position except for catcher, where Posey isn't a slouch but Yadi Molina is all-world. Besides that, its Advantage Gigantes all around. I think that could be a big key.

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  8. I think the Giants biggest advantage in the NLDS was the lower level of playoff experience on the part of both the Nationals players and Matt Williams. The Nationals offense went to sleep and they seemed either intimidated or to be pressing too hard at the plate (except Harper). The managerial difference was clear. Bochy was ready to pull Vogelsong after 5 2/3 even though he had only allowed 1 run on 2 hits. Bochy saw that he was starting to elevate his pitches and there were more deep fly balls and line drives. Matt Williams pulled Zimmerman after 8 2/3 in which he was dominant. He allowed a walk on some very close pitches, but Zimmerman was clearly still the best option available to pitch to Posey. Williams also left in the reliever who coughed up the WP to score Panik in game 4 when he was obviously having some sort of mechanical issues.

    Bryce Harper has a fiery competitive streak and a lot of natural hitting talent. I don't like him, but I think I would love him if he was on the home town team. I still think Mike Trout has all five tools and all five are a little more developed than they are in Harper at this point. Harper has also had more injury troubles, so I would take Trout over Harper.

    I agree that the rest really seemed to help Hudson and Vogelsong. Hudson had been leaving way too many pitches up and over the plate in September. He got away with a few in game 2, but overall, things seemed to be sinking and moving off of the middle of the plate with greater frequency.

    I expect all of the games in the NLCS to be relatively low scoring and won by the team who either comes up with one more clutch hit or avoids the costly mistake. Both teams have a fair amount of post season experience, so it is difficult to predict which team will do this better.

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    1. bochy left vogey in one player too late

      pence saved bochy from looking like a goat

      and for some reason, matty didnt get that zimmerman had totally demoralized the giants....it wasnt that bad of a move

      bacci

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  9. I totally agree with the spot starter idea. Look at the velocity drop of many of the pitchers when it gets to the dog days of the season.

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  10. Anyone else make note that Josh Beckett decided to announce his retirement right after the Dodgers were eliminated? Wouldn't have been a big issue to me, except it happened to be about the time the Giants were clinching the NLCS. It was a minor blip, but he's still a Dodger who stole some attention. That was exactly what you expect from a bum.

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    1. did beckett's contract end this season?

      cuz wilson should also have announced his retirement, but he had that player option and stuck it to the bums

      bacci

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    2. BuyLowSellLower mentioned it above (around 0840ish). Mixed feelings on his retirement: sad to see his drag on the Fodgers payroll go away (unless his contract ended as Bacci asked about), but happy to not have him face the Good Guys anymore. It seemed to me that he pitched us tough more times than not.

      NWGiantsFan
      DtF!!!

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  11. the brown as bongo drum started with pence and i thought he was the only one who brown allowed to do it (it became a part of pence's pregame hand shake ritual)

    perez shouldnt even be on the roster

    as for timmy, he is in and so is morse....both may be the undoing of the giants come the lcs

    here are joe posnanski's thoughts

    http://joeposnanski.com/joeblogs/why-do-we-yostify-ourselves/

    he makes some very good points, although im not sure that i agree that the season is now meaningless

    the current post magnifies weaknesses of each team that has made it, something that wasnt apparent before the lds or even the lcs.....one can even think of the current mlb post as the final kick of a marathon race.....only the smartest runners still have one

    bryce harper is an amazing player....and when he learns the difference between arrogance and actually having fun, he will become a superstar...i think his double to beat the shift was much more impressive than any of his homers

    i think its too bad that the mlb has yet to figure out how to market its product to the casual fan. as a result, many people are gonna miss seeing two very interesting lcs's

    bacci

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    Replies
    1. Timmy or Morse, or both, may just help us get past the Cards.

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    2. I don't have high expectations for either Morse or Timmy and I fear what might happen if Morse sets foot in LF.

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  12. Off topic but I was listening to 1090AM San Diego this morning and the talk show host actually believes that the Padres have a good shot to sign Yasmany Tomas. He was very optimistic and excited. Why would a $100MM contract for the Padres make sense to anyone? I can see him possibly being a Giant because we are already a contender but for a team that finished 8 games under .500 I don't think Tomas makes them a playoff team. I thought it was just as ridiculous for the Twins to spend all that money they did in the previous off season. Teams like this should be building through the draft as opposed to teams like the Dodgers who try to buy playoff berths. We saw a few days ago what a $200MM ++ payroll will get you, booted from the first round.

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    1. I heard Darin Smith talking about it earlier this afternoon. They need to talk about that to stir interest. The Padres do not spend money. Why would anyone expect them to be in the running for Tomas?

      If he costs 100M+, I do not see the logic in signing him anyway. The value in going after these international guys is that you may have a superstar at the price of a good starter. If you have to pay them like a superstar right at the get-go, where is the benefit? We don't know these guys will pan out. They are a risk until they step on the field and show it against the top competition.

      Will someone pay him 100M? Maybe. But whoever does is not increasing their value at all.

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    2. CSS,

      It may make sense for a team like the Giants who have a specific need at the player's position and it would make the difference between having a hole in LF all season vs a star player, but yeah, no way is Tomas going to be undervalued. Of course that depends on Giants ownership and whether they are willing to spend the extra money to fill the hole.

      Roger,

      Padres have a new GM whose main claim to fame is international scouting. He may want to make a splash and Padres ownership may be willing to go along since he's a new GM who they have put their faith in.

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    3. DrB,

      I agree with you. I just think it is a horrible idea for them. I understand that their GM is knowledgeable on the international front. However, he seemed to have endless pockets with the Rangers which is useless with the Padres. I think several "Daniel Carbonell" like signings would help the Padres more than a Yasmany Tomas signing. They may be able to bump their salary from $86MM this year to $90MM or more. Tomas will likely command an annual salary of around $15MM per year for around 6-7 years. That would mean that one player would be 17% of their payroll.

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    4. I saw the reports of Tomas holding extra workouts for the Padres, and I have to admit I dismissed the idea of them outbidding for him very quickly. Maybe I'm totally wrong (I didn't expect the A's to sign Cespedes), but it just doesn't seem likely at all.

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  13. So Dodgers' ownership is disappointed in Colletti's roster construction despite the payroll of $240 M? Like, what were they expecting? When you just throw money at the most expensive players available, regardless of how they fit into your team both as players and as people, you are going to get a mess, which is what the Dodgers were by the postseason. Who mandated the money throwing? That's right, ownership! I don't think Colletti is a good GM, but he was just doing what ownership wanted him to do.

    So their payroll is going to shrink to $180-$190 M? Yeah, how are they going to get there? I know Hanley is gone and So is Beckett, but they are going to have to pick up salary to unload one or more of their OF's and they are going to have to find a couple of starters plus most of a bullpen.

    If I were Andrew Friedman, I would not touch that job with a 10 foot pole!

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    1. someone has gotta take the fall, and the owners cant fire themselves

      is it colleti's fault that the dodgers spent money based on a tv contract that they couldnt sell?

      never spend money you dont actually have....bang zoom...there goes the deep pockets

      bacci

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    2. Oops, posted a link to that story below before I read this.

      It'd be fun to see what Friedman (or Beane for that matter) have a big budget to stop all the underdog rabble rabble and see what's what. The built in excuse for losing is always there.

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  14. So if Pablo walks is Hanley an option for us at 3rd?

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    1. Please no. His misses too many games for injury to be a starter. Almost 120 games in 2 years. He is also a horrible defender. Rated one of the worst at SS this year. He is going to want a huge contract. I would rather try to get Chase Headley on a short contract. Maybe a 1 or 2 year contract with incentives. He is a plus defender and has the potential to be good offensively. Only a few years removed from a "MVP like" season.

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    2. hanley is the oldest 31 year old in the world

      he is going to the al to dh

      bacci

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    3. Not a chance in hell. terrible fielder, terrible attitude, terrible injury history.

      Read this one: http://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/la-sp-dodgers-colletti-plaschke-20141010-column.html

      Boom goes the dynamite: "The Dodgers payroll is expected to drop into the $185-190-million range next season to offset expected financial losses from the unworkable television contract with Time Warner Cable"

      I think there's a good chance the Doyers don't even offer a QO on Hanley because he might accept. They're at 181MM right now before the Wilson/Haren options kick in, which puts it to 200MM, and then they have arb cases with Jansen, Ellis and Dee Gordon, and some others.

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    4. Yeah, the Dodgers are going to have a very tough time getting their payroll down that far. The only players with big contracts that they could trade without eating most of the salary are Kershaw, Greinke and Puig.

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    5. here is the breakdown for the bums

      http://www.truebluela.com/2014/10/9/6950367/dodgers-roster-breakdown-2014

      they already have 190 mil payroll sans the player option contracts for wilson and haren....those contracts bring the payroll up to 209 mil

      the only way they will be able to dump salary is by packaging some stud farmhands, which kasten wont do

      so they are screwed

      boofrickinhoo

      ps. while i have had my issues with sabey sabes, he has never been dumb enough to dig this big of a hole for the giants
      bacci

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  15. Wow. Well I would have to guess that Grienke is the short straw of those 3. Bummer trails for LA. Great for Los Gigantes!

    Al Leiter giving the Hometown 9 some love today. Giants vs Orioles? Let's beat the Cards first.

    NWGiantsFan
    DtF!!!

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  16. I like the idea of a spot starter DrB. The Giants were lucky to have essentially just that in Petit this year. I have no idea how they'll sort out the Petit/Lincecum dilemma next year, and whether they'll bring back one or both of Peavy and Vogey... but you have to think it's a stretch that Hudson will make anything more than 25-27 starts next year. It might make a lot of sense to keep as many of these guys around as possible... someone has to be the odd man out here, and I highly doubt it's Lincecum.

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    1. Yeah, $18 M says LIncecum starts next year in the rotation. How long he'll stay there is another question.

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