Sunday, July 01, 2007

Merc and Kawakami At It Again

It's pretty easy to bash the Giants right now and so Tim Kawakami of the Merc is at it again. And I don't mind that (besides the fact that it means the Giants stink) as long as it is accurate. But in his column today, he's shading the facts to fit his story.

The main thing was when he lists a number of young players for other teams and how poorly the Giants compare to them with Lewis, Schierholtz, Ortmeier, and Frandsen.

First Prince Fielder and J.J. Hardy of the Brewers. Fielder has done very well and is a good prospect to point out. But then he lists JJ Hardy, who was a huge failure for the previous two seasons, before breaking out this season. If you are going to use him as an example, then you need to give Lewis, Schierholtz, Ortmeier, and Frandsen at least another year or two to develop, just like Hardy needed. And you have to give the Giants credit for Cain, Lowry, and Lincecum heading up our rotation, and our pretty good bullpen, after roughly 2.5 years of rebuilding. Meanwhile, Milwaukee is in its 15th year of rebuilding, I guess they should break out and win at some point (don't tell that to KC or Pittsburgh though...).

Then he names the D-gers with Russell Martin and James Loney. Martin has done very well and is a good prospect to point out. Loney, however, has barely started out his career, hasn't even been seen twice by the league yet. Lewis was hitting about as well as Loney initially too, before the league started figuring him out. If you are going to use him as an example, you either have to give Lewis, Schierholtz, and Ortmeier their due for their initial success, or you wait before you use Loney as an example, else it is not a proper comparison. Again, you have to give the Giants credit for Cain, Lowry, and Lincecum heading up our rotation, and our pretty good bullpen, after roughly 2.5 years of rebuilding. The D-gers after years of having better pitching prospects than the Giants, year after year after year after year, only have one pitcher on their rotation homegrown and he's only on there because of the failures of other pitchers, not because he pitched that great, he's been only OK as a reliever.

Lastly, he notes Stephen Drew and Chris Young of the D-backs. Chris Young, he of the .245 batting average, .287 OBP, and .724 OPS. If he likes that, what's wrong with Schierholtz's .333/.357/.410/.767? Or Fred Lewis's .242/.317/.385/.701? True, less AB's but Young has been all over the board, up and down, mostly down, in his hitting. And OBP is the more key stat to look at. Plus, if he likes Stephen Drew, then he should love Schierholtz and Lewis and Frandsen, Drew is hitting .236/.302/.351/.653 this season. Not to mention, you have to give the Giants credit for Cain, Lowry, and Lincecum heading up our rotation, and our pretty good bullpen, after roughly 2.5 years of rebuilding. See the pattern there?

And the D-backs are finally doing well after 3 seasons of rebuilding, after an OK year in 2003. If you like what the D-backs are doing, then you need to see how the Giants do in 2008 before you pass judgement on their management, this is their third year of rebuilding - under most observers' noses - and that's how long the D-backs took to reach success.

And as Tim notes that he can go on and on: if he had, I probably could go on and on.

What is it with people who think that pitching is nothing? Or isn't worthy of praise? He can go on and on about other team's position prospects but then conveniently forget to compare other team's pitching staffs with our pitching staff and we run circles around them.

A lot of people have been forgetting about our great pitching, like it was nothing to be happy about because we have no position prospects. Sure, we are losing, but if you want to rebuild, why not enjoy how well the pitching staff is coming around and the position players who have contributed thus far?

Why does it require not signing any free agents at all and going young. For example, the Tigers didn't do that, even while they were losing, they signed I-Rod, Ordonez, Percival, Jones, and other high priced free agents to keep the teams relatively competitive while the young players matured and developed, and when they were ready, they had the old vets there to help them out and lead the way. Why can't the Giants take that route (and has) to rebuilding?

And personally, I would prefer to burn down everything and rebuild from scratch, not do it with these old guys either. That's the fastest and best way, I believe, to winning a World Series. But I understand the choice that the Giants made and can find my way to enjoying what is happening, even if I disagree with some of what has been done thus far.

Giants Second Half

As Kawakami quotes from Bochy, "...We have a good group of guys here. We're not getting it done right now. And we're not playing our best ball, right now. I want to emphasize right now. I still believe that this is a club that can get this turned around." I think we all realize that the Giants aren't hitting particularly well right now, 13 run explosion to the contrary. The switch is either off or on, mainly off thus far. That's because most of the players are not hitting what they have shown themselves to be capable of in recent years.

That does happen, and as some have been boasting, they foresaw all this happening, an old team, something is going to break down. But they also foresaw that the bullpen is going to be crappy, less than nothing, woe is us, what are we going to do! And the bullpen hasn't been crappy, it has been pretty good. They also foresaw that Matt Morris would continue to suck. And he hasn't. Some also thought Lowry would continue to suck. And he hasn't. The two of them have saved the team from even worse straits.

And our position prospects, while not blockbuster great, has been a breath of fresh air and a bit of excitement. Each of Lewis, Ortmeier, Schierholtz, Frandsen and Alfonzo has had their moment in the sun, while Linden, Niekro, and Figueroa didn't do much. And as I showed above, they are performing as well as other team's prospects, but just haven't been giving starting roles yet. In any case, no one foresaw any of this happening either.

As far as who foresaw what, as the old joke goes, that and two-bits will get you a coffee (today more like 4 bucks). I would say that most are sometimes right, sometimes wrong, me included. I would rather enjoy the season for what it is worth.

We all knew going it that it was going to be a rough season for the Giants, that it would not be a cakewalk. We also all knew that the pitching rotation could be something good, with the potential for it being really good, and with Zito as the occassional exception and Lincecum's rookie's ups and downs, it has. The bullpen had some good parts and some unknown parts, but for the most part, it has been good. The offense looked better on paper than it did last year.

Unfortunately, while the pitching has turned out pretty well on the whole, the offense aside from Bonds and I suppose Molina, has not exactly turned out to be as advertised. But the key one to me is that this offense was built to go off of Dave Roberts creating problems and opportunities for us at the top of the order, and first he was not healthy enough to do anything, and second, he has basically been going through spring training throughout June to get back to his normal offense but he's still struggling, meaning that our offense is still struggling. Perhaps it is the learning curve for hitters and AT&T Mays Field that I read about when Grissom, Durham, and Alfonzo joined the team, and Roberts is just behind the 8-ball on that.

Regarding our other key offensive pieces, while Durham has been struggling, Klesko has been picking up the slack. And Molina has been a godsend, who knows how bad we would be without him. Winn has been up and down, but I wonder if that has something to do with batting after Roberts when he was leading off previously. And Bonds has been Bonds for the most part, except for that extended period in May.

Hopefully the All-Star break will give these hitters a breather to regroup and get back to what they were successful at doing before. The season looks lost but there is still a slim bit of hope that they can turn things around. In the meanwhile, as I had planned from spring training, I'm enjoying the pitching and I have had the unexpected joy of enjoying the young position prospects getting their opportunity to play and doing OK with their chance.

Rebuilding is Not Easy

And I bite my lip with every loss, but sometimes seasons turn out this way, Kawakami makes it seems all smooth, but the D-backs have virtually the same young team that they had last year that they lost with, and same for the Brewers, you have to put up with years like we had in 2005, 2006, and, now it seems, 2007, before you get the pennant winning years, most teams do not start winning on a dime after losing for a number of years - wait, except that Sabean did it when he took over.

The Giants are doing their rebuild in a similar fashion to the Tigers except that the Giants were trying to win the past few years - and I would argue, had a chance to win in 2005, 2006, 2007. But they did a very similar thing in philosophy - you put the young pitchers in there to learn and develop when they are ready, and you add the vets around them to fill in the spots where we are lacking position prospects, which for us was just about everywhere. But Detroit hasn't really had anyone really successful except for Inge, their 1B shined for a month or so before flaming out, like Niekro did for us, Nook Logan didn't hold, Granderson has been OK but not a star, yeah, the two teams seem very similar in structure.

2 comments:

  1. Robb Nen will be making appearances at two Bank of America banking centers tomorrow, Tuesday, July 3rd signing autographs and giving away free All-Star Game FanFest tickets to anyone who opens up a new Bank of America checking account. Also, anyone who stops by can enter a drawing to win tickets to the All-Star Game and HR Derby.
    Nen will be at the BofA banking center at One Market Street from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. and the Stonestown banking center at 245 Winston Drive from 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
    Stop by, meet Robb, get an autograph and get a start on All-Star Week festivities...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Can't wait until All Star game is over and this spam ends. I could always delete it but, eh, don't feel like bothering with them, unless this continues afterward.

    I'm still mad that Nen didn't work out some sort of contract reshuffling that would have extended the payments for the $9M per year into future years, his lost salary was, in my opinion, a big contributor to us not doing as well in those years. Had he moved $6M into other years and freed up $6M, then perhaps we could have afforded Vlad or Ordonez or Beltran the years they went free agent, or even signed Greg Maddux instead of the Cubs.

    For that, we could have gave him an extra $1M along the way plus the contract could change into an extension or bonus of some sort, so that he didn't lose anything if he had come back, some creative contract. Aw, well...

    ReplyDelete

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