"Nothing went right... It was a miserable day all around"
True, not too many highlights from the game. Here is one of the positives I got.
Zito had a typical Zito outing: low hits, low K's, moderate walks. He's never been a shutout dominating type of pitcher, he dings you to death. Bochy I've noticed tries harder than Alou in keeping pitch count down, so he took Zito out early this time, at only 86 pitches, probably because it's the first start of the season. Plus if Feliz doesn't do the error, maybe he pitches more innings plus give up less runs. For $126M, you naturally want more, but to objectively assess, you have to view it as sunk cost and just view it solely as how he did. He did OK, not good, but not bad either, he doesn't need to justify his contract to media commentators.
"The bullpen sucked"
Given all the complaints about the state of the bullpen, that's a pretty good knee jerk reaction: "the bullpen gave up 4 runs". But look at each reliever individually. Correia pitched an inning and gave up a run. While not great, you can't expect every reliever to shut down the opposition each and every time. And when he left, he hadn't given up a run yet, he needed the next reliever to save him.
Unfortunately, not only did Sanchez not save him but he gave up another 3 runs to boot. Truly awful performance on his part. Which actually should make most Giants fans happy, because the sooner he stinks up the place, the sooner they send him back down to AAA to hopefully become the starter he is meant to be. Personally, given the success Misch had been having relieving, I would have preferred taking him up instead of Sanchez and leaving Sanchez to pair with Lincecum and give Fresno a truly lovely rotation.
Next up, Vinnie Chulk. He did the same as Sanchez, not picking up for Sanchez's mistakes. He also pitched poorly as a reliever, allowing Sanchez's two runners to score. But as a pitching line, he was OK, 1 IP, 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 BB, 1 K. And he did what he was suppose to do, he got a ground ball that allowed a run to score but he still got the out. It was really only the double that was the problem. Every bullpen needs role players, maybe Chulk is not made out for picking up after others, maybe he can come in and give us quality innings, but his one real mistake this inning was the double, so I would say that his performance, while not good, didn't suck either.
Lastly, Kline came in. True, he gave up two hits, but again, you can't expect perfection out of relievers. The more important point is that he gave up no earned runs, either his own or others.
So, to me, the bullpen did not suck. Correia, Chulk, and Kline, I think they pitched acceptably, not great but they certainly didn't suck. Sanchez sucked, and perhaps this is a sign he should be back in AAA starting.
"The Giants Lost!"
Yes, after the tumultuous off-season of "We're going young" was misinterpreted by some fans as "Everyone will be young", and two losing seasons, and three seasons of no playoffs, you want to see your team win their season opener. But it's only one game, out of 162 games. Some might recall how rocky the 2000 season started, losing the first six games ever in what was then Pac Bell Park, but then the team came back and not only won the division but had the best record in the NL.
One can cry about the offense or one can tip the cap to Jake Peavy, who, when he is on, is one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball (and who, by the way, Matt Cain beat three times last season). What shame is there in being shut down by Jake Peavy? And by their good bullpen. And to point out that Bochy didn't affect the results much, well, if the other pitcher is dealing, he could be the best manager ever and that would mean squat.
So why point it out, unless, of course, you have an agenda, a thesis about the Giants success this year, plus a rooting interest against Bonds. Experts may be saying the Giants are in the bottom of the division, but, really, how many of them really dig down deep into their analysis of the team? Given surface knowledge of the team, you can easily blast the team's chances for 2007: "Ortiz? Give me a break! Roberts don't play every game, neither does Durham, Klesko is washed up, Aurilia benefited from Cincy's home, Vizquel is 40 years old, Bonds is 43 years old, Winn is washed up, Feliz is useless as a hitter, and Molina is washed up as a catcher. Cain will have a sophomore slump, Lowry is done, so is Morris, and Zito isn't worth $126M, plus there's no bullpen"
But as I've tried to show in my posts is that there is sometimes more to the story than just the surface knowledge. That's what computers can do, take the surface stats, apply some formulas, and Frank Viola, you have a bad forecast for the player. That's nice for batch processing of results, not so when you look at things individually.
Experts Not Always Right
Experts have said many things over the years and have been wrong. So saying that all the experts think that the Giants have no chance, as Boof commented, is cherry picking - you know why? Because a lot of the experts last season said that the Giants were going to win the division. So which is it, are the experts right this season, for sure, but not last season, or we can't accept what they said last season because they were high, "we" knew the Giants were not competitive, but they are correct this year?
It's one game. Chill. Zito is not the "savior" of our staff, as one columnist noted. Stop focusing on the money, money is not who plays the game. Zito just needs to do what he did before and the Giants should be happy: no DL, 200+ IP, ERA on the good side of 4.00, something in the 3's that is. He's not a strikeout pitcher, and he doesn't dominate games like other pitchers. He keeps the other team from getting hits, that is his main forte. Some games it works like a charm, others it hurts him. Kind of like when Big Daddy Rueschel used to pitch for us.
Feliz is an easy scapegoat, but he's normally a very good defensive 3B - comparing anyone to a gold glover like Eric Chavez will usually leave the other player short. But if one would bother to check all the available defensive stats that is accepted by the saber community, one would find that Feliz is considered to be a very good defensive 3B, among the best in the majors. If you are looking for perfection, then perhaps one should look in the mirror first and ask that question.
Mercury's Bias Against Giants: A's Kissing?
And it's amazing how one's biases affects your view of things. It was noted that Bonds, in his pre-game session with the media, "gritted his teeth and answered a number of questions, none of much import." Well, another journalist, the AP reporter Janie McCauley, had a greatly different view of the same session, with the title of her article, "Lighthearted Bonds ready to resume chase of Hank Aaron"? And she wrote "Bonds was light and breezy before the game on a glorious Bay Area day that perfectly matched the slugger's mood." This is the guy who "gritted his teeth"?
I don't know if this is intentional or not, but after it became clear that the A's were moving down south (eventually to Fremont), the Mercury appeared to collectively take a stance to, basically, kiss up to the A's. They get front page of the sports page reporting, whereas the Giants more often saw their story inside. The columnists collectively decided that Bonds is bad after all these years and take their pot shots at him, whereas previously they were much more balanced in their tone.
Bonds is not the face of the performance enhancers era, the reporter should look themselves in the mirror. To expect athletes to be clean is noble but naive, to expect management to do something, crazier still if the turnstiles are spinning, and to expect fans to do something, well, they really have no power over that, really, they want their games. It was reporters, as the self-appointed watchdogs who was asleep on the job when McGwire was caught with his Andro, that should have set in motion some Deep Throat action where significant stars are caught cheating, but unlike Gary Hart with his challenge to catch him doing something, nothing ever happened with the baseball reporters, they happily continued writing on the sport without addressing this issue.
And they drive a stake into the Giants chances for 2007, but neglect to mention that the A's replaced Frank Thomas with Mike Piazza, who hasn't seen 30 HRs since almost last century, their best pitcher (Harden) is extremely injury prone, so is their starting SS and Milton Bradley, and they have two unproven unknowns at the bottom of their rotation in Gaudin and Kennedy, so one can only cringe as to who they will have to bring up if Harden goes down again, their three main stalwarts of the bullpen, Street, Duchscherer, and Calero, all saw extended time on the DL the past two years, young or not, plus an unproven manager, who is highly touted by only one person - Beane. I want my old Merc back, fair, balanced, objective.