Friday, September 04, 2009

Giant's Great Rotation: What I've Been Saying

I wrote most of this on ELM (I'm a tweaker), but thought I should post it here too, as I discuss my theories about how the Giants having a great rotation, top to bottom, is an advantage:

You can bet that the Phillies are starting to sweat now and hope the Rockies win the wild card, because the Giants could be facing the Phillies (though the Cards have charged past them and currently would be the team playing the wild card team) at some point in the playoffs. They have beaten them 4 out of 5 games and now has Lincecum on the mound today.

I would think any team we face would have to sweat now. Even if they avoid Lincecum, they get to face Cain, or they can miss Zito, but they get to face Sanchez. The hope for other teams would have been that Penny would be the Bad Penny from Boston, instead of the Bad-Ass Penny from LA/Florida, but it looks like the Giants got the latter. Now even if you avoid Cain, you could end up facing Penny, Lincecum, Zito or Sanchez, Penny, Linecum.

Any way you slice it, you get to face 3 tough pitchers when you face the Giants in September 2009. You might tough out the first game, but to face such good pitching, day after day, has to be hard on their confidence as hitters. Even the best hitters has their fears, that is why some come up with Lincecum flu whenever he pitches against them. They have their insecurities too.

So this series is a strong message to the rest of the NL, the rest of the majors. The Phillies are one of the top offensive teams in the majors, and particularly in their bandbox ballpark, and boast great hitters in Rollins, Victorino, Howard, and especially Utley, plus Werth and Ibanez has been great too. 1 run in 18 innings. And while they have a pretty safe lead, teams have lost 7 game leads before in September, so you don't want to be throwing away games yet, you are still playing hard. 1 run in 18 innings and now they get to face a well rested Lincecum, who pitches better with more rest. And they did this facing the Giants #4 and #5 pitchers. And no one is blinking an eye that they did that, these pitchers are capable of such good outings. 1 run in 18 innings. Other teams can't look at that without shaking their heads and being glad that they don't have any more games with the Giants because those facing them has to feel it.

Not that other teams will lie down and roll over for the Giants, but there is no gimmes in any series for the rest of the season against the Giants. You missed Lincecum, whew!, but now you face Zito, Cain, Sanchez, or Cain, Sanchez, Penny. You get a Cy Young candidate and a guy who threw a no-hitter, either way. If you miss Cain, you get Sanchez, Penny, Lincecum or Penny, Lincecum, Zito. You get last year's Cy Young winner and contender for this season, plus a rejuventated Penny.

Or you could face Lincecum, Zito, Cain. It was not that long ago that such a series would not be considered that bad. Zito was the gimme and Cain always seemed to give up just enough runs to lose, so it's OK to face Lincecum since you got the other two. Now, Zito is the one to be feared right now, Cain has raised things a notch this season, and you still have to face Lincecum.

And that's what the Rockies face in our last series with them. We will probably be one or two games behind them at that point, needing to sweep them again to catch up. And we'll have the pitching to do that again.

And the Dodgers get to face Cain, Sanchez, Penny in our first series, then Sanchez, Penny, Lincecum in our second series. Penny is going to want blood there. And it would not surprise me if Sanchez pitches a complete game in one of those starts (his only other one is his no-hitter, I believe).

The Brewers are sinking fast and get to face Zito, Cain, Sanchez. And later Chicago gets to see Penny, Lincecum, Zito, and Cain, missing Mr. No-hitter.

Advantage of the Great Rotation

This, is what I've been saying for years now about where the Giants are headed. Building a rotation full of good to great pitchers, having teams bow down to us like the animals do in the jungle when the army ants come through. When you have great pitching like that, it won't take much offense to win with that. Adding a good pitcher, as Penny appears to be now, gives us a glipse of future, of what it'll be like when Bumgarner then (hopefully) Wheeler join the rotation.

And once you get into the playoffs, that will give you the advantage once again: like the lineup where there are no easy outs, this is a pitcher rotation where there are no easy game. Each game will be a grind, a test of their hitter's mental strength, and each game is wildly different, from Lincecum's fastball and changeup, to Zito's soft stuff and nasty curveball, to Cain's fastball, to Sanchez's quirky lefty fastball, to now Penny's heat, sinkers, and stuff.

Great hitters, when they can concentrate, can hit great, but by late season, it is getting harder and harder to keep that concentration going. To keep it up for a 5 or 7 game series chould wear out most hitters except for the best. We got that rotation to do it now.


  1. It's wonderful to have great pitching, but if you can't hit the ball, you're not going to be a consistent winner. The Phillies exposed that point once again. The Giants pitched 3 gems on the road, held the Phillies to 3 runs in 3 games, and the Giants came away with losing 2 of the 3 games. You just simply cannot win without pitching alone and that is the Achilles Heel of the Giants this season.

  2. What you say is obvious Boof. It does not take genius to see that.

    What you (and many others) leave out is that the Giants were rebuilding this year. Nobody (except perhaps me and a few others) thought that they could be a .500 team. Even fewer thought that they could possibly play for a playoff spot this season. Rebuilding teams have flaws. Obviously, ours is offense.

    So instead of crying over why our "child" isn't going to college at age 12, why not enjoy whatever joy they bring us at their level of development?

    And help is on the way in the shape of Posey at some point. Meanwhile, next year, I think Schierholtz playing fulltime can be another big bat for us. I'm hopeful Bowker playing fulltime in LF can be a big bat for us. And hopefully one of either Garko or Ishikawa could be productive at 1B.

  3. (P.S. I hate the comment limit...)

    However, a theory I'm having about Giants use of Garko next season is that he might be our starting catcher. I know Boof made fun of me for suggesting he might play LF or C for us, but that was the only way I could reconcile how the Giants could trade for Garko and still say that Ishikawa is in the mix. Otherwise, I thought the trade was stupid and still think it is, and the Giants are close to admiting it because they are thinking of starting Uribe at 3B and shifting Pablo to 1B, probably to save his leg more, but also because of Uribe's bat and lack of Garko and Ishikawa hitting.

    Which, admitedly, Uribe has, what, 5 HRs in his last 60 AB or so, I can see why they want him in there.

    Still, I saw on Baggarly someone saying that Garko won all sorts of catching awards when he was in college, similar to the awards that Posey and Johnny Bench won, implying that Garko could be a good defensive catcher.

    Assuming that is true, then the plan could be starting Garko at C - his bat would be premium there - and letting Posey play in AAA the whole 2010 season before bringing him up in September call-ups (or maybe sooner if Garko is still not hitting). Most hitters need a full year in AAA before making the big show, it appears to help improve the likelihood of them succeeding the first time they are brought up for good.

    Just a thoughtful speculation.

    Again, since some (cough, Boof) sometimes ascribe things to me when I'm only speculating on what the Giants might do based on what they say and do, let me make this clear: I'm not saying I want Garko to play C (or even LF) for us, I'm just wondering if this is the Giants plan for 2010.

    Because Ishikawa had been very good for us this year - uneven, yes, but was doing well at the time of the trade, and now neither he with sporadic play nor Garko appears to be hitting now. I still don't like the trade (me and many others, I know).

    That plan could work if Garko was really as good as that commenter said he was. And I understand why the Indians would go with Martinez at C and move Garko to 1B. But they kept Shoppard at C and he has took over the catching position there, particularly now that V-Mart has been traded, while they shifted Garko to 1B and occassionally LF, implying that they did not think that he would be that valuable playing catcher, and given how well he hit for them, that suggests that defensively, while he may have been great in college (like Posey was), like Posey, he had a lot to learn about catching and never developed that.

    Again, not my suggestion that he starts, but given that factoid another commenter gave, I'm speculating on what the Giants might do given that information.

  4. We need scores, we need a truly imapct hitter (beside Kung-Fu Panda), and we need to give Tim Lincecum a LONG TERM DEAL.

    Sabean do it all or get lost.

  5. It will be an interesting off-season, seeing what the Giants do to improve this offense. I think replacing Winn with Schierholtz will be a big lift, as will Franchez at 2B if he can be healthy. LF has been a hole this season, and hopefully Bowker can take that over and do as well as his MLE in AAA suggests he could. And Posey will probably come up to start at some point, perhaps even to start the season.

    And Pablo, as amazing as he has been this season, he was actually average his first two months but has been elite since, so if he can put it together for a whole season, we could be talking not just All-Star but MVP considerations, 30-40 HR, 100+ RBI, battle for batting title.

    Plus, if Renteria is healthy, he seems like he could be a very good hitter for us when healthy.

    However, I'm kind of giving up on Rowand, if he's hurt, then he should sit until healthy and let us start Bowker in LF, but he hasn't hit well for us during crunch time, which is bad for someone who is suppose to be a gamer. It's "Show me" time.

    And whether it is Posey or Garko at C, I think offense there should be improved over what Molina provided this season, he definitely had a down season (yet still projects to be a Type A free agent, which means we probably don't get a pick for him) and given the public whining, I don't see how he returns, unless we offer him arbitration and he accepts because nobody will give up their first round pick for him (though maybe second round).

  6. You don't know what Lincecum is asking for in a long term deal. Would you be willing to give him a $50-80M deal for his next 4-5 seasons? I think that is what his agent wants, some huge deal like that, because if he keeps on being Cy Young quality, the sky is the limit for him in arbitration.

    However, we are still dealing with unproven grounds here. He's been great but the the general worry is that his arm is going to fall off at any time because of the violence of the motion. His drop in K/9 over the last month had some worried that he might be headed towards an injury.

    Are you OK that we might be paying him $50-80M for the next four or five years and he Fopperts on us?

    And remember, we do have a long term deal with Lincecum, we still control him for the next four seasons, we just have to do a new contract each year.

    I think the Giants are going to one year him until he's 26-27, at which point he's old enough and physically developed enough and pitched enough, that they would feel comfortable giving him a contract to cover his remaining years with us plus extend him beyond into his free agent years, kind of like what Peavy got.

    But I would love a long term deal now with Lincecum, only I would not want the Giants to risk so large a contract for a pitcher who is still in what some call the "injury nexus" where young pitchers often come up lame with one problem or another.

  7. And I'll say again, I hope the Giants give Sabean another two year extension, I think he deserves it for what he has done in rebuilding the Giants. I would like to see what he can do in the next two years, let him finish the job, and reassess again.

    Remember, all the people who have been complaining about Sabean, complained about Sabean two years ago when he was given his current two year contract, and I think he has proven them wrong with their assessment then and now.

  8. We entered this year as a "rebuilding" year with tempered expectations. However, once you get to mid-July/August and have a real chance at making the playoffs, the "rebuilding" tag has got to come off and you have to take appropriate steps to give your team a real chance to succeed. The Sanchez & Garko moves were half steps and overpayments for "meh" talents. It would've been a lot better to package Alderson, Barnes and the cash committed to those trades and acquired a real talent like Holliday. Alas, our management doesn't understand this, so this is why many people are so frustrated with Giants management.

    Schierholtz is not a huge improvement over Winn. In fact, they are very similar players. Similarly, Bowker in LF is not a huge improvement over what we've run out there this year. Renteria a good contributor......are you serious? If this is your plan for taking the next step, be prepared for more of what you've witnessed this year.......staying in and winning a fair amount of games because the pitching is keeping you close, but not winning enough of them because the offense is so inept. All you're doing is treading water here.

    You can make bank on this.......Garko will not be playing C or LF for any extended time year. If you think he's a defensive liability at 1B, just project those issues to positions he has not played extensively in the major leagues. Choose not to believe me on this one, but again, mark my words on this's a pipe dream of yours.

  9. Boof, you and I agree that the trades were half steps. I wouldn't have done either one. We've discussed this already.

    You're dreaming if you think the A's would have been happy with Alderson and Barnes to get Holliday.

    They got a player ready to start in the majors next season in Brett Wallace, at a position of need for them, 3B. They only player we had comparable to him was Posey. No way I trade Posey for a couple of months of Holliday.

    Then you add two more players on top.

    Alderson I would consider equivalent to Shane Peterson.

    Barnes is not equivalent to Clayton Mortensen, we would have to give up some more prospects to match value.

    So no, no way the Giants get Holliday, that is YOUR pipe dream.

    Schierholtz is similar to Winn before the 2009 season. Verus this season's Winn: huge improvement.

    Here is what we got out of LF this season: .260/.332/.384/.716 with 6 HR in 515 AB. Bowker last season hit .255/.300/.408/.708 with 10 HR in 326 AB. Plus, he learned to have more plate discipline this season in AAA, and he'll only be 26 next year. Huge improvement.

    Them alone should be enough to get us to the division title, along with further development/maturation of our starting rotation.

    I threw in the Renteria because when he is feeling healthy, he has hit well this season. He just hasn't felt healthy often. Since the start of August (since I can't remember when exactly he said he was feeling better), he has hit .280/.345/.400/.745 with 2 HR, 10 walks, and only 13 strikeouts in 110 AB. I would take that over a full season.

    Tempered expectations? I'll quote you from early comments: "And if a bull had teats, he'd be a cow. There is no way that the Giants get to 89 wins without an infusion of offensive talent and some better defense." "If they finish around .500, that would be about the ceiling."

    Again, with the pipe dream! I am only speculating on what the Giants would do! We've discussed this already.

    You are the one with pipe dream trying to make it seem like I'm the one with this idea. We've discussed this already.

    I already said I wouldn't have done the trade, I would be just as happy burying him on the bench and starting Ishikawa instead, who might have a future, who knows, we won't know if we don't let him play regularly. We've discussed this already.

    Someone else suggested that Garko was a strong defensive catcher in college, so I speculated that the Giants could think that way too.

    I'm tired of discussing your same delusion where you try to paint me as person who wants this, that or the other to happen. If you think that's a bad move, that's fine, say so. If I haven't come to a conclusion on whether that is good or not, where there are things to suggest it could be good, some that it could be bad, I won't give my opinion.

    While I may not have come to any conclusion, I have thought that people would find my speculation interesting because the Giants might do this, whether I like it or not.

    If you cannot tell the difference between what I'm suggesting and what I'm speculating then I would suggest that you don't bother reading or commenting here anymore.

    If this continues, perhaps it's better I don't speculate anymore, or I could do more drastic actions instead. I'm getting tired of this crap.

  10. Hey, let's not your knickers all in a twist. You posted here a speculation, and it's not the first time that you posted it. I commented that it's not going to happen. I read a fair amount of Giants' related blogs and yours is the only one who keeps bring up this subject.

    If you post something and don't wnat people to comment on yor thoughts, then just cut off the public comments. Just because you state something here, doesn't make it a's only an opinion. Similarly my opinion are mine also....not facts. Again, if you only want opinions that agree with yours, them just delete all comments that are not in line with yours.

    I don't think I was out of line with what I posted. It was in disagreement, but was not disrespectful. Your comment, IMO, was out of line.

  11. Oh really, you don't think that this is out of line: "it's a pipe dream of yours."

    Not the first time you have said that, either.

    I have no problem with people commenting on my thoughts, but I do have a problem when people ascribe something to me as if I was promoting that idea as a good thing to do.

    If I had a problem with disagreement, I would have deleted plenty already, but I am happy to say that the only comments I have ever deleted are spams and one bad language comment that I then reposted without the language. I believe in open comment and dissent where you see fit. All the comments that have disagreed with me are still on my site (including all of yours).

    But when you write "it's a pipe dream of yours" then I am going to take it personally when it is not a pipe dream of mine (and I know I had plenty of pipe dreams in the past) and get upset, particularly since I explained myself once again, sensing another re-run.



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