Monday, August 24, 2009

Thank You 2009 Giants for Much Joy So Far

I write this not because I don't think the team won't go further this year, but as a way to cheer my team on to greater heights. I have greatly enjoyed this season and the way others are commenting, I felt the need to express my joy about this season. And there has been great joy.

I said at the beginning that while I would not predict that the Giants will make the playoffs, neither would I not be surprised if they do, they are capable of winning the division. And they have been playing well, it has not been a pipe dream, and if not for a Dodger fast start, the Giants not only would be competing for the wild card but also competing for the division title. They would have been either leading or near the lead in 4 of the other 5 divisions for much of this season, they have been that good.

The Team Has Been Good

The pitching has been that good, much better than expected by the pundits, plus Lincecum has continued his pace from last season. And that covers both the rotation and the bullpen, particularly the bullpen, which has been great up to now. There is also the wonder of Jonathan Sanchez's no-hitter and Barry Zito's emergence to pitch as well has he had when he was with the A's. And, of course, the big factor in the rotation is Matt Cain's emergence as a league ace, making the All-Star game and being good enough to be in the conversation for the Cy Young.

But the offense has had their successes too. Pablo "Kung Fu Panda" Sandoval, of course, is the biggest success, providing the big bat in the middle that we have been searching for. Unfortunately, he has been batting 3rd, where his bat's effectiveness in generating runs is lessened, but hopefully he should become our clean-up batter by next season. Nate Schierholtz has also shown that he should be ready to start for us next season at RF. Aaron Rowand has been pretty good much of the season, except when he is battling something physical. Travis Ishikawa has also shown flashes that he could be a starter, though eventually Ryan Garko was acquired. Still, Ishikawa has hit .286/.350/.451/.801 with 8 HR in 182 AB (22 AB/HR) since May 9th. Juan Uribe had been a nice surprise for much of the season

And we could have been better. Had Randy Winn hit like he hit during this career, we would be much better off offensively. Had Edgar Renteria not been battling bone spurs in his elbow, that position would have had a large improvement. As it was, he is still an improvement over what we got last season. Had Fred Lewis not lost his way mid-season, we could have been better, though that was what gave Schierholtz his big opportunity to show what he could do as a regular starter. Had Molina not taken a notch down in performance, our run performance would have been better since his effect is heightened by him batting 4th for the season when he is starting.

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Yes, the Giants have created much joy this season with their great play overall and competitive play thoughout much of the season. The way some have been reacting, you would think that the Giants were expected to win the NL West or something. Not only were they not, the majority of people complaining about the Giants were not even thinking the Giants could play .500 this season, let alone be competitive for a playoff position. They are acting like they believed in the Giants from the get-go, instead of just joining the bandwagon in June (or after).

While some are down about losing to Colorado this weekend, at least we were in each and every game, even in the blowout, when the offense made up 5 runs of their deficit and forced D-Rox to bring in their closer, Street. We led in each game and could have won if we could hold them off from scoring, but in Coors that is always an iffy proposition.

So while I'm disappointed in the results, I still think that this series has been a good educational experience for the young players on the team, a good thing to experience the pressures of playoff baseball that should pay dividends down the line, I believe. I think that is what contributed to Lincecum's wild performance yesterday (5 walks and balls on like half his first 40-50 pitches before he calmed down), so I think he will be that much more reliable the next time he's in a similar situation, as he has done that all through his career, get amped in his first experience with something, then he's lights out otherwise. Pablo also learned a lesson, according to Baggarly's post, about how to hit in certain situations especially in a pennant situation. That is why I hope we can squeak into the playoffs, let our young players get that initial jitters out of their system, and be more prepared for the playoffs in future seasons by having that playoff experience.

But really, no matter the result today, we are already 5-5 on our long road trip, and while it would be nice to rack up a winning road trip, the goal for any road trip is to play .500 on the trip and they have. Obviously, it would be better to win today than lose, as then we would only be 2 games back instead of 4 games back. Still, the Giants do have 22 games at home and 15 road games after today's game (though it should be noted that Colorado has the same too) and the Giants have been much better at home than Colorado, it is on the road that they have a big edge over us.

Plus, we have still have 6 games at home against them. We should be able to make up 2 games there by going 4-2, leaving only 2 games to make up otherwise should we lose today. That is doable and not the end of our playoff hopes.

GO ZITO! GO GIANTS!

In addition, the Giants have a good chance today, as - in addition to Zito pitching well in Colorado previously plus has been on a hot streak, his usual second half peak performance - I didn't realize this until now, but Marquis, in his first and only start against SF in Colorado earlier this season, gave up 7 runs in 6 IP, and for this season has pitched worse at home in Colorado than on the road (though still well overall, in spite of the poor results against SF, he has been very good overall all season, home or road).

Plus, he has given up way more HR on the road than at home, so he should be reverting to mean at some point, particularly in a homer haven like his home park has been, he can't keep on being so lucky. Remember, the Giants has hit 7 HR thus far in the 3 games. And Molina blasted 2 HR off him in that start earlier this season at home against SF, and he nearly had 3, with a blast that he said he hit the hardest of the three, died in deep CF. Plus, Sandoval, Ishikawa, and Schierholtz had not yet figured out how to hit HRs more regularly at that point (May 7th game) too. And Rowand was still scuffling at that point but has hit 2 HR in the 3 games here so far, and 3 in his last 7 games. And Garko finally unleashed for 2 HR for us this series too, should he start instead of Ishikawa.

These guys possibly start today due to past success against Marquis: Fred Lewis (5 for 12, 917 OPS), Juan Uribe (4 for 13, 1 HR, .973 OPS) and Randy Winn (8 for 22, 2 HR, 1.073 OPS). I can see Rowand (1 for 17) sitting with Lewis, Winn, Schierholtz in the OF and Renteria sitting (.445 OPS in 13 AB) with Uribe at SS, Velez at 2B. Not sure exactly how Bochy will roll with 1B, but he's been going with Garko thus far, so that's the best bet there. And of course Sandoval will play 3B and probably Molina catching.

Don't Mess with The Kid

Lastly, and perhaps importantly, I think Colorado might have messed with the wrong player. According to a blog post and article by Baggarly, the D-Rox appears to have tried to mess with Lincecum using the stadium radar reading. While Jimenez's radar readings were similar between the TV and scoreboard, the TV had Lincecum at 93-94 MPH while the stadium scoreboard showed 88-91. Lincecum mentioned this after the game. Hopefully this will provide the impetus for the Giants to take it to Colorado today (and in future series) for trying to mess with their best player's mind.

And, in addition, Lincecum has not been one to take being dissed lightly, he's a very competitive guy, and has a chip on his shoulder since forever. I can see that being a rally cry internally for the team, like that Jim Croce song goes, "You don't tug on Superman's cape. You don't spit into the wind. You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger, and you don't mess around with" Tim...

Yes, you don't fool around with The Kid, he's going to get you in the end if you mess with him.

2 comments:

  1. Response to a comment in the fourth paragraph... why in the heck would the Giants start Schierholtz at first base?

    The Giants have Ishikawa, who is a natural first baseman and their best defensive player at the position. They just acquired Garko to play first base (though I'm not convinced by him yet) AND the Giants need more power and offense from their outfielders.

    I say play Schierholtz in the outfield and release Randy Winn, the strikeout king.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the comment ScottA.

    It is a typo. I meant to put RF but made a mistake.

    I think we need everyone who can hit right now. Winn has been hitting .387/.457/.484/.941 since August 17th. The old Winn seems to be back, he only struck out 3 times in 31 AB, which is about his career norm until this season. However, he has had mini-surges like this prior this season, so we just need to ride it out until the new Winn returns.

    Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete

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