Friday, April 27, 2007

InKlined to be Positive

The Merc had an article (probably don't mention it enough, but you have to register to be able to read Merc stuff, but you don't have to give your life story there, I don't recall, just e-mail) about how Steve Kline hasn't been used much thus far this season. And then co-inky-dink enough, Kline comes into the game later that same day. The article also notes Kline accepts that he isn't being used much, that he will be ready when Bochy gives him the call.

Bochy Spins Bullpen Gold

The thing is, all I hear on the radio now is how Bochy is a genius at creating a very productive bullpen, with San Diego a prime example of that (OK, only example of that :^), with how good a throw-in to a trade, Cla Meredith, became gold under his managerial genius. And thus far, I've been impressed. He has gone to his guys in the pen and in critical situations, and it is as he has been saying to the press, he will go to any of them in set up situations, they all need to be ready. Plus he has publicly supported Benitez, over and over, Benitez must be lapping it up.

So I'm assuming both Kline and Correia are not too nervous about not being used for a long while until last night. I assume this time now is for Bochy to determine what he got among his relievers and how he might use them. Kline being the vet, is probably not being used because Bochy told him that he needs to figure out what he got with his other relievers as he knows what he got in Kline.

Correia, being the ex-roommate of Bochy's son in college, and having done very well last season, probably trusts that Bochy will do the right thing by him, though, of course, he will have to perform to keep his job, friend or no friend of Bochy's son. And I don't mean he's getting special privileges, I just mean that since they already have a relationship, I think there will be more trust already inherent in Correia that allow him to accept that Bochy has chosen not to use him much thus far.

Frandsen Back = 11 Man Pitching Staff?

Bochy was also quoted in today's Merc that Frandsen will be coming back soon and that a 11 man pitching staff might be the say to go to do that. Right now, if they go that way, I think the pitchers on the bubble to go down would be Chulk and Sanchez.

Chulk was the guy Bochy went to first for set-up duties but lately Hennessey has been publicly named as the guy Bochy thinks is best suited to do that, though in his next breath he noted that everyone will get their chance to pitch in the 8th. That means that Bochy was disappointed in his performance. Well 12 hits in 7 IP will do that. However, Chulk has 4 K's and only 1 BB in that, so the rule on BABIP being around .300 suggests that Chulk is just suffering from some bad luck right now and things will even out.

Thus, I think Sanchez is the prime candidate to go down. The bullpen is settling down and doing well. The starting staff have been pitching deep into games, requiring less bullpen help. Bochy does not burn through relievers like Alou. Sanchez pitched 3 innings the other day. More importantly, the Giants still sees him as a starter, so I think he'll be a likely candidate to go down to AAA.

In addition, there are a number of relievers who are about ready to come up to the majors and contribute. Pat Misch, a lefty, leads the pack, probably will be the first to be called up when the need comes: 2.04 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 8 appearances, 17.2 IP, 10 hits, 0 HR, 4 (!) BB, 20 (!!) K's. He was never a strikeout artist but putting him in the pen has brought out his inner Randy Johnson, in terms of strikeout rate, if not velocity (he's lucky if he reaches 90 MPH). Billy Sadler has continued to do well: 2.53 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 7 appearances, 10.2 IP, 4 hits, 1 HR, 7 BB, 16 K's. The right-hander impressed last year, earning a unexpected late season call up, and still bringing it. Brian Wilson has done OK but has been very wild still: 2.45 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, 6 appearances, 7.1 IP, 4 hits, 0 HR, 8 BB, 11 K's. I don't see him coming up any time soon, even if Benitez is not the closer, he's probably going to have to spend the year in AAA and get his wildness down.

Maybe Lincecum Too?

And with Lincecum basically ready to come up anyday soon, even if Ortiz is doing OK, mid-4 ERA, I can see the Giants moving Ortiz into the bullpen in order to bring up Lincecum at some point; Ortiz will have to doing pretty well not to hold back Lincecum's onslaught: 3-0, 0.36 ERA, 25 IP, 9 hits, 11 walks, 32 strikeouts, 0.80 WHIP (still poor walk rate but what a k-rate!).
That would also reduce the need for Sanchez as a reliever, plus they can then put him back in a starting role. And he would need to go to AAA and get into starting pitching condition so that he can be ready to come up if there is any injuries along the way, to any of the starters.

There is also the chance that the Giants might bring up Lincecum as a reliever and keep Ortiz in the rotation. However, if they are going to start burning up his MLB service time, plus expose themselves to him becoming a Super-2, then you should want to maximize his service time by bringing him up to be a starter, not a reliever. Almost everyone has said that Lincecum throws weird and would be a good closer, but the Giants saw the merits of Lincecum's skills and that being a starter is much more valuable. And to quote Sabean from an article today in the MLB: summoning Lincecum to pitch in the Majors as a reliever "would be a stretch for me right now."

I would think that the main circumstances to bring Lincecum up as reliever during the regular season would be if Benitez was injured or traded and they needed Lincecum to close for them. However, if Lincecum is not up already, he almost definitely will come up the last day of August, which unfortunately will probably cost someone a spot on the playoff roster, so that he can be eligible for post-season play and be a reliever a la F-Rod against us for the Angels in 2002, and shut down the other teams. There's also still that loophole regarding players on the 60 day DL, not sure if anyone qualifies right now, maybe Merkin.

I don't know if the Giants will make the playoffs but I still think there is a good chance of them making it given that the pitching staff has been pitching very well, the way I thought they can, though obviously some are doing much better individually than can be expected and cannot keep that up all season long, like Cain and Morris. We will have to ride the backs of our starters to get into the playoffs, but that's the way you want it, as long as they keep things close for our hitters and we have Bonds in the mix, we will always have a chance to get back into things with a swing of his bat (or another of his inevitable IBBs). And adding a reliever of Lincecum's skill level to the bullpen in time for the playoffs could just get us to the promise land and end 49 years of SF frustration and 52 years of Giants frustration.

Oh, 8 Game Win Streak, Giants Sweep D-gers!

Got to celebrate them when they happen. Giants haven't had such a long win streak since late May 2004, when Schmidt came back from the DL and sparked the win streak. And haven't swept the D-gers at their home since early April 2002, according to the Merc. Also, the Giants have won 11 of 13 since losing four straight and seven of 8.

There has been three phases of this season thus far. First, there was the 6 losses in 7 games, where the offense was particularly putrid, only 2.0 runs scored per game. As much as some fans worried, such offensive ineptitude couldn't last, that would be historically bad. Even then, the pitching was good enough, at 4.6 runs allowed per game (not sure ERA, no time to compile that). Then there was the 5 game interlude, where they went 3-2, scoring 5.0 runs per game while giving up 3.8 runs per game. Then there was the 8 game win streak, where the offense scored only 4.4 runs average but the pitching has been great, giving up 2.6 runs on average.

Even the win streak is composed of three parts. There was the first game 6-5. Then the starting pitching took over for the next four games, giving up only 1.25 runs per game, which was great because the offense only provided 13 runs in that mini-streak, 3.25 runs, with a 1-0 win and a 2-1 win. Then the 3 games against the D-gers, both are doing their part, 5.3 runs scored, 3.7 runs allowed.

So the pitching has actually been pretty good the whole season, improving as the calendar has advanced, from 4.6 to 3.8 to 2.6. If the offense had been as bad as last year and not just plain bad, the Giants would have started the season 3-4 or 4-3 instead of 1-6. Obviously they cannot keep up a sub-3 ERA, but a sub-4 ERA is definitely doable in my opinion, though not a given. The starting rotation has been about what I thought, though Cain is not that good, at least for a whole season, and neither is Morris, so enjoy it while you can. But their poor 4.6 run scored rate of 2006 coupled with a 4.00 overall runs allowed rate would yield a 93 wins season.

Go Giants!!!

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