Monday, April 09, 2007

I Beg Your Pardon, I Never Promised You a Rose Gardon

I imagine Giants fans are not too happy right now. Me neither, but I'm not panicking. It's still early, I've seeen teams tank the first month to month and a half and still have a very good playoff-bound season, so let's take a look at what's happening and see whether things are as bad as they seem.

Not Everything Was Bad

First off, until Sunday's blowout, the Giants pitching had been good. In 45 IP, over 5 games, 3.80 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 3.2 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9, though only 5.6 K/9. They should have won 3 of those 5 games, with pitching like that. More on the putrid offense later.

That was mainly the starters doing that. Before Zito's blowup, in 29 IP over 5 games, 27 hits, 12 runs, 10 ER, 10 BB, 18 K, 2 HR, for 3.10 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9, but only 5.6 K/9. That should have been good enough to win 3-4 games, instead of just 1.

The relievers had similar peripherals but poorer results, 5.06 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, in 16 IP, 3.4 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9, but only 5.6 K/9. So that's no surprise, the bullpen was very unsettled going into the season, so it continues to be so. However, Benitez, Chulk and Taschner have been doing well, now the others have to pick it up.

In addition, the BABIP (batting average on ball in play) for the relief corp was .351 before yesterday's blowout, when .300 is the mean it should fall to, so they are suffering, collectively, from bad luck in that balls that should be outs are falling in. It happens. So the relief corp should get better with more IP, and the bad luck is averaged out.

However, Hennessey I am worried about. He expressed frustration this spring over his role and talked openly about how maybe he needs to be traded to where he can start. So I would think that this is weighing on his mind and affecting his performance. All I can say is that complaining publicly is the worse thing you can do if you want to be traded, as then the team would feel that they need to keep you, else it would encourage all the other malcontents to speak up and demand a trade. The best way to get a trade to happen is to pitch well enough that another team would bother to trade for you, or even better, want you on their team. Giving up a run every relief appearance will only buy you a ticket to Fresno once the Giants are tired of your act and your replacement - Sadler, Wilson - is ready to come up.

The offense has been putrid. I can see the subject lines of the some of the complainers about the Giants: I knew it, I told you so, I foresaw it. Well, the Giants are scoring at a 2.33 runs per game pace. Even the worse offensive team last year scored 4.27 runs per game (Giants scored 4.63 runs; average in NL was 4.76 runs/game). So, clearly, the Giants offense is underperforming greatly. That also happens.

Going Forward

Unfortunately, it is all happening in the first week of the season, so the doom and gloomers reign supreme for now. But the main problem has been the offense and, in particular, Randy Winn, Omar Vizquel, Dave Roberts, and Pedro Feliz, from low OPS to still low but higher OPS. Plus Molina, Klesko, and Bonds have not been doing as well as they should be. That's 6 regulars and one semi-regular, most teams don't win playing like that unless they have Sandy Koufax and Bob Giblson up and down their rotation.

But the offense will perk up at some point, during a long season, it will and it must. Proven skills will usually come out and prove itself. If the starting pitching (besides Zito) can continue doing what it has been doing and Zito can just get through April without going into double digit ERA (even Ortiz never reached that, I don't think), and the bullpen just solidifies (though I think Hennessey will probably be gone by month's end if he doesn't pick it up and there are rumors of the Giants looking for a trade, like Jose Capellan of Brewers, speaking of public malcontents), then the offense should be able to combine with the team's pitching and start some nice winning streaks.

However, San Diego is no place to go to in order to update and get into order your offense. That is an extreme pitchers park. It will probably take until Pittsburgh before the offense starts jelling and doing well, and even then it might still not happen there, as the weather out east has been brutally cold, neutral offensive park or no. Hopefully the pitching will build on its successes (again, except for Zito and Hennessey, who have had no success thus far), in order to build on their tentative successes thus far in the season.

Farm News

On the brighter side of things, we had two standouts in Fresno this week. Lincecum went 5 IP, giving up only 2 hits but 3 walks, but with 8 K's and shutting out the Beavers. Meanwhile, Schierholtz went 2 for 4 in that game, won 6-0 by the Grizzlies, with a homer and a double. That homer gave Schierholtz 3 homers in three games and batting .538. Winn could find himself platooning next year if Schierholtz has a standout season in Fresno and Winn continues to struggle, as Nate is a lefty and Winn is a natural righty. It could be Linden, Roberts, Winn, and Schierholtz all sharing the OF in 2008, assuming Bonds passes Aaron this season and the Giants decide to move on.

Ironically, the Pirates passed on Lincecum with their 4th pick overall last year and selected Brad Lincoln, who they just announced will miss the 2007 season because he had to have Tommy John surgery - he is scheduled to start throwing again sometime in 2008. Of course, it was the fear by the teams with the picks before the Giants that Lincecum will require surgery due to his unorthodox delivery and size that led to Lincecum falling into the Giants happy pockets. Lincecum was a consensus #1 pick talent, KC was considering him, but fortunately for the Giants, he was different enough that the Giants, who has tended to think differently than other teams in terms of drafting, got to pick him.

Other Grizzlies doing well too. Pat Misch in 2 games, has 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 8 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.40 WHIP. I've been touting him as a possible call up at some point, he was impressive in relief last season and continues to do well. Brian Wilson has pitched in 2 games, 3 IP, 1 H, 3 BB, 3 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 1 save. He is working his way back up here, and given Hennessey's problems and attitude, it would not surprise me if they are the swapped at some point.

Among the hitters, Clay Timpner is 6 for 12. Ortmeier is preparing to be 4th OF in 2008, 3 for 6 in 2 games, 3 SB. Justin Leone, 3B who we picked up from another team, is 4 for 11 with 2 HR. Chad Santos, who we picked up last season, is 4 for 11, 4 runs scored, 1 HR, 2 RBI. Freddie Lewis, however, hasn't been doing well, but has a HR and 2 SB, and it's early still.

Lastly, the guy we picked up for Ellison, Travis Blackley, pitched OK in his first start for the Grizzlies: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 R/ER, 7 K's, 3.60 ERA, 0.80 WHIP. Not too shabby, he's suppose to be healthy this season after labrum surgery in 2005, and he's always had a high strikeout rate, he just needs to get his walks down.

Not much news on Connecticut because many of their games have been snowed out. EME, Ishikawa (homer in only game he's played so far; on the road, of course), and Pereira are the big names in prospects there. Other interesting players there are Chris Begg, Osiris Matos, Brian Anderson, Justin Hedrick, Jake Wald, Mark Minicozzi, and Brian Horwitz.

3 comments:

  1. Hello Martin. I have to say, I do not understand the logic of bochy's failure to pinch hit tonioght. In my opinion, he should have pinch hit for Cain in the top of the 7th, with men (man?) on - the perfect time to bring in a left hander - Linden or Klesko. Then in the 9th, it is no insult to Feliz to bring in a the remaining LH pinch hitter.
    I do think, in a game like this (very low scoring) you have to pinch hit for Feliz with someone who understands the value of productive outs (refering to the AB when, following Benji's 1st double, Feliz grounds out uselessly to SS, failing to advance the runner. That is the situation where you go to the player and say, "son, if you can't play for the team, can't give youself up, I'll find someone who can" as Frandsen trots out to 2b to finish the game.
    When a team is struggling I think you ahve to make the percentage moves.

    ReplyDelete
  2. BTW, you are completely right about the fact that the team is just in an unsustainable funk. Look at the BAs of FIVE of the starters:
    Roberts 208
    Feliz 208
    Bonds 200
    Winn 200
    Viz 160
    I do not think all five of these guys will be so far from their career averages by mid May. I am worriede, though, that the team did not playwell / hit well over the last half of ST.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Even if it is early, Cain had a no-hitter going, you don't take the starter out automatically. The problem was that there was already two outs by then and I think Molina on 2B, so it would have taken a extra-base knock or two consecutive hits to score him, an unlikely proposition with two outs. If either Feliz or Winn were able to get on base so that it was man on first, man in scoring position (2B or 3B) and only one out, I think you could have seen Cain taken out in that situation, giving how poorly the Giants have been scoring runs. But with 2 outs, and the human statue at 2B, let Cain bat.

    About Feliz, well, playing matchups is nice, but Hoffman is equally tough against LHH and RHH, pretty equally, though he is not as tough on LHH as RHH: vs. LHH, 1.14 WHIP, .206 BAA; vs. RHH, 0.96 WHIP, .209 BAA, both for career. In 2006, not much different: vs. LHH, 1.08 WHIP, .194 BAA; vs. RHH, 0.88 WHIP, .214 BAA.

    So there is marginal improvement going with a lefty in that situation, even if you go with Klesko or Linden in this case.

    In any case, this is early in the season, the players are getting used to the manager, the manager is learning the players. If Bochy pulls Feliz in that situation, that shows total lack of confidence in your player right away and probably he falls into a funk because of that negative vote and becomes useless. Now we as Giants fans "know" that Feliz is useless, but a manager has to try to use everyone that he has and try to make them productive, and to do that, you let them bat in situations like this early on and hope that they produce for you. If they don't, pretty soon the manager can point to such failures and tell Feliz at some point soon, look, I've given you all these chances to come up with the big hit or whatnot and you failed, so I'm PHing Klesko/Linden.

    ReplyDelete

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