Friday, August 01, 2008

Giants Asia-Pacific Influence Grows

I thought I would note this bit of news I caught in Andy Baggarley's article the other day: everyone knows that Keiichi Yabu is Japanese, but Baggarley reported that Geno Espinelli is a full-blooded Filipino and, surprising it hasn't been brought up before, Tim Lincecum is reportedly half-Filipino, as his mother is a Filipino (we never ever hear anything about her).

So Lincecum is a stealth Asian much like Tiger Woods, who is more Asian (Thai) than any other race.

10 comments:

  1. Espineli (one L) is American, as is Lincecum, Barry Bonds and Matt Cain. Why race (or religion, as was the case recently with Horwitz) has to be brought into the equation is beyond me.
    Now if you want to talk about the dearth of Giants success in acquiring true Asian Pacific players (Yabu and Shinjo were crap), lets discuss this.

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  2. Thank you for the spelling correction, it bothers me too when others get names wrong. I used to beat myself up over that, but learned to temper my reactions to my mistakes.

    The reason they are brought up is because it is a rare thing to see in baseball. Partly because of historic racism that pervaded baseball until recent years, partly because Asian-American parents didn't know how to support such activities (I would have loved to played Little League) or plain didn't support this activity (my cousin had a Dodger's scout tell him "too bad" when he told the scout that he wasn't going to play baseball in college.)

    Another reason I bring it up is because I'm periodically reminded that I'm not considered an American even though I was born and raised here, or, as some have told me to "go back to where you came from", and I only shake my head, move away quickly, and think, "I am".

    And while it is OK to show Irish pride on St. Patrick's day without accusations of bringing nationality or race into the equation, or Italian pride on Columbus day, or Canadian pride on Canada Day, eh?, or Mexican pride on Cinco de Mayo, or even Gay pride on Gay Pride day, I am taken to task because I had the temerity to note that two are now 1.5 Filipinos on the Giants.

    I didn't talk about how great that is or what it meant in the context of Asian-American history, I just reported it, because I thought it was interesting. I didn't even label it anything with "Asian" or anything like that, I just noted it.

    I am not all about just numbers analysis in baseball, I will talk about issues and events in baseball as I see fit, as they interest me. If you don't like it, please skip the posts that clearly don't interest you, I try to make my titles pertinent to the topic of the post.

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  3. And if you want to talk about dearth of success, you can pretty much include not just the Giants but almost the whole body of players who have come over from Japan. Ichiro has been the only real long-term significant success. Godzilla was not a raging success, though at least a good player, and the other position players are not worth mentioning other than as complementary pieces. There are no stars other than Ichiro, Matsui would probably not garner much press if he weren't "Godzilla" in the eyes of the Japanese press, even Fukudome has been average, at best.

    And the starting pitching has been crap, I analyzed those who came over when Dice-K came over, and all of them were crappy when not pitching at their home pitching-oriented parks, though Dice-K has been excellent this season and pretty good last season.

    The only pitching successes I would count are the ones who came over as relievers, Saito, Akinori Otsuka, now Hideki Okajima, could be one or two others too.

    Japan is OK if you are looking for complementary players, not so good if you are hoping to find a Vlad or Pedro in the bunch. Save your money for the Carribean.

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  4. I count Hideo Nomo as a pitching success.
    Besides the 120+ wins and seemingly dominant outings vs. SF, he got many MLB fans wondering if there weren't more excellent players playing across the Pacific.
    Granted, the paucity of MLB players with Asian (or Australian) ancestry could make one note said ancestry when they make it, surely a sense of pride to others of that nationality.
    Just that I hope the days of making a big deal out of someone being 25% Bulgarian American or 1/2 Italian American or full blooded Korean American etc. ending.
    I'd rather see Tim Lincecum answering baseball questions than if his mom made good lumpia prito.

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  5. I had seen the article in Asianweek on Espinelli, but did not know about Lincecum. Thats awesome. My wife, who is Pinay(born in US-both parents from Phillipines-and politically conscious) is an A's fan, I'm a giants fan and maybe this will let her cheer on my guys more often.

    And I see nothing wrong with bringing up people's background, especially since the dearth of African American's is becoming such a hot topic issue.

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  6. I disagree about Nomo:

    1995: 1.73 ERA home; 3.41 ERA away
    1996: 2.75 ERA home; 3.82 ERA away
    1997: 3.60 ERA home; 4.99 ERA away
    1998: 4.15 ERA home; 5.67 ERA away
    1999: 4.20 ERA home; 4.90 ERA away
    2000: 4.37 ERA home; 5.07 ERA away
    2001: 4.38 ERA home; 4.66 ERA away
    2002: 3.89 ERA home; 2.90 ERA away
    2003: 3.48 ERA home; 2.69 ERA away
    then he isn't starting as much any more...

    Career:3.80 ERA home; 4.73 ERA away

    I consider the away ERA to be a much better indicator of a pitcher's production when he pitches at a park that either favors pitchers or hitters, like LA's home does for pitchers.

    Now, 4.73 ERA is not that bad, that's about a #4 starter value, and if you throw him a little downward value on his ERA since he probably would have pitched in LA at some point in the NL, you can push that to a #3, middle of rotation starter. That is still very valuable, but it is not star worthy, or at least not in my eyes.

    And I would not count finding a middle of rotation pitcher to be a pitching success if you go fishing out in Japan for players, success to me means a star caliber player, particularly when you are paying premium salaries for these players.

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  7. We'll just have to agree to disagree re Nomo, who I consider to be successful because he was Rookie of the Year, threw 2 no-hitters, led the league in K's a couple of times, probably was 2nd or 3rd in K's a couple times too and had a long career.

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  8. Great blog, don't let the haters get you down. I think it's a good thing to see more players of Asian descent in the game, regardless of where they were born.

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  9. Thanks, long time giants fan, much appreciated.

    FYI, just found out that Dave Roberts is half Japanese, half Marine, all-American :^).

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  10. Yes, Statman, but since you gave some more points, here are my comments on them.

    Rookie of the year does not mean success, else Scott Williamson, Angel Berroa, Eric Hinske, and Ben Grieve are successes. That alone is not enough.

    Two no-hitters are not enough for success, or Johnny Vander Meer would be considered a success himself. That alone is not enough.

    Numerous have led the league in strikeouts but are not successful, again, that alone is not enough. Particularly if he was doing this early on, when he was with LA (1st 1995, 2nd 1996, 4th 1997, are all with LA; 1st 2001 was with Boston, which was a better feat as K's are depressed there a little) because according to Bill James Handbook, strikeouts, for whatever reason, is heightened in their home park, adding around 10% extra strikeouts. He would have still been 1st in 1995 and 4th in 1997, but in 1996, he would have fell to 5th. But again, strikeouts are not a success by itself.

    A long career is not success either, else Giants fans would have loved Tucker and Grissom, both of whom had long careers.

    As I noted, his home field advantage contributed to the illusion that he was "successful". As I showed above, he really only had 2 good years early on, then a mass of back of rotation years until he somehow turned it around in 2002 and 2003, pitching for LA again, then fell apart after that again.

    It appears that his unusual pitching motion is successful in the NL, which is more of a fastball league, but not much so in the AL, which is more breaking balls. Overall, he 4 very good seasons, 1 OK seasons (2001), and 8 pretty bad seasons. Like Brett Tomko, he got additional tries of recapturing the magic of his early success, so that allowed him to have a nice long career, much like Tomko.

    Was he good those 4 seasons? Undoubtedly. However, I would not call 4 good years coupled with 8 pretty bad years to be success. It was successful enough for him to cobble together a long MLB career - good for him - but I would not call that success, else every journeyman baseball player who had a bit of good playing early on is a success.

    And for the hubbub that is created when a team signs a Japanese League player, I think the bar is raised a bit on what constitutes success. It is not enough to pitch a long time, with a modicum of success, one would expect more consistency in results, not two very good years followed by 5 pretty crappy years, before another two good years (oddly enough, though by then PBP/AT&T joined the NL West rotation, another pitchers park, at least at that time, now it is pretty neutral).

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