Monday, May 24, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 22-21: Picking on the Nats

Losing always hurt.  That's why they play the games.  Every team will face a tough part of the schedule for them and we see whether they sink or swim.  The Giants are facing their bad stretch and we will see if they can battle back or if they fall further back.  Given how they have beaten up on other team's top starters plus have shown the ability to come back in games we have no business getting back into, I think that they will eventually get out of this slide and start winning again.  But until they do, people will be hurting and agitating for change.

Game 1:  Livan Hernandez vs. Todd Wellemeyer

Apparently, from Schulman's reportage, Lincecum's bad start and Wellemeyer's (so far) good home starts saved Wellemeyer from being skipped (or worse) for this start.  In addition, bringing up Santiago Casilla took up the last spot easily available for Eric Hacker, the pitcher who was seriously considered for the call up, who is not on the 40 man at the moment and, thus, bringing up Hacker would require opening up a 40-man spot, that is, resulting in releasing somebody.

Plus, not to be cold, but why not sacrifice Wellemeyer against the Nat's best starter, Livan, instead of throwing our recently struggling ace against the rejuvenated Livan, who, no matter where he has been since leaving the Giants, seem to come up big against us with a well-pitched game?

Despite Wellemeyer doing well at home, I have to give the Nats the edge in this start, as Livan has done well both on the road and at his pitcher's park of a home, as well as at AT&T vs. his career numbers.   Plus, in the past, he has done well when he felt like it, and I think he likes to show up the Giants ever since they basically gave him away to the Expos for basically nothing, just to get rid of him.  Which was a pretty big insult to his ego, I bet.

Game 2:  Luis Atilano vs. Tim Lincecum

Atilano has not pitched well in his brief stay in the majors so far, though he has three wins (showing how untied wins and losses are to ERA).  However, unlike Wellemeyer, he has pitched poorly at home while pitching very well on the road, so he has been tough so far on the road.  However, he's never been that good a prospect (#20 this season on BA's Top 30), so he should regress to the mean on the road at some point.  Against Lincecum, even a struggling one, should give us the edge in winning this game.

Game 3:  Scott Olsen vs. Barry Zito

Which leaves the rubber match of the series.  Both Olsen and Zito have pitched well this season.  Olsen's ERA is much better on the road, but his home peripherals look better (all small samples).  He's only had one bad start in SF.  Meanwhile, Zito had his worse start of the season in his last start, though that appears to mainly be a function of bad luck with balls falling in, else his peripherals didn't look all that bad compared to games earlier in the season.  They seem to be evenly matched, though I would lean towards Zito in this matchup because he usually pitches better at home than on the road.  So, overall, it looks like it can go either way but would have to lean towards the Nats because Olsen has been good before and Zito has just been good this season and had a rough last start and month of May relative to April.

Giants Thoughts

Obviously the biggest thing is the Giants sputtering offense.  For that I blame it on Sandoval's poor month of May.  He has been hitting better lately but not powerfully, and I think the other teams' plan of attack on our offense has been able to take advantage of that lack of power hitting for the month of May.  I also think it may have been related to his health, though as far as I know, he has not been reported to have been sick.

The Cold That Shut Down an Offense?

Ultimately speculation, but I recently tied together some bits of information together.  First, Jonathan Sanchez had a cold that was bad enough to affect his pitching but not enough to have him skip a start.  That was the April 26th and May 2nd starts.  This was according to what I heard on the radio, I believe it was the Bochy pre-game show.  Second, it was revealed during this season that Sandoval and Sanchez are roommates on the road and thus pretty good buddies who hang around with each other (I do not recall exactly where I got that piece of information, however).

Third, Pablo has slumped from April 30 to present, hitting .195/.245/.253/.498 since then.  He has hit .314/.400/.371/.771 from May 14 to today, so basically his slump was from April 30 to May 13th, hitting .115/.130/.173/.303 in that time period.  That was some weak hitting and basically around the time when Sanchez could have passed the old to him and then a slow recovery to health.

Stages from 4/30:
7 games:  .094/.094/.125/.219 in 32 AB/32 PA
5 games:  .150/.182/.250/.432 in 20 AB/22 PA
4 games:  .313/.421/.313/.734 in 16 AB/19 PA
5 games:  .316/.381/.421/.802 in 19 AB/21 PA

I would have to think that the opposing team would have adjusted how they attacked Giants hitters given fear of Pando driving them in.  In April, 4.55 RS avg to April 28th, from April 30th to today, 3.59 RS avg, basically one run less per game.  For the first nine games of his poor hitting since April 29th, the Giants averaged 4.89 RS, showing that the offense was still functioning OK, but since May 11th, the Giants have averaged 2.7 RS as Panda's hitting malaise has affected the team as well.

That seems to reflect their average BB trend.  To April 28th, 3.0 walks per game.  To May 9th, 3.9 walks per game.  From May 11th to today:  2.6 walks per game.

Small sampling but something to consider.

Home is Where the Offense Lives?

Marty Lurie recently tweeted that shaky offenses struggles on the road (I love his addition to the Giants weekend pre and post game shows, though it must be tough on him because in between his shows are Urban's pre-game show, Giants pre-game shows, the game (3-4 hours), Giants post-game show, Urban's post-game show, before finally Lurie's post-game show).  I took a look at the numbers:

Series  RS
  1       6.0 (but extreme hitter's park)
  2       3.7 (but LA and SD are two extreme pitcher's parks)
  3       5.3 (more representative/neutral, if not pitcher's parks for FLA and NYM)
  4       2.4 (two pitcher's parks in OAK and SD, one hitter's park in AZ)

There is not enough to say either way, I would say.  And they have been skewed by many pitcher's parks.

In any case, they are returning home, where they have averaged 4.10 RS per game (vs. 4.05 RS on the road) so there has not been a huge difference so far.

Lineup:  Posey Promotion?

Fans have been agitating for Posey to be promoted, but as the Schulman blog post noted, he's not coming up any time soon.  They want him ready to come up and stay up here on merit plus playing significant time, but Molina, while slumping, is still OK overall and handling the pitching staff well, and Huff appears to have solidified at 1B offensively and defensively.

The big idea for improving the offense right now is to move Franchez from 2B to 3B, Sandoval from 3B to 1B, Huff from 1B to LF, and finally Torres to RF, leaving Bowker and Schierholtz out in the cold and on the bench, at least until Torres cools off, plus Schierholtz will probably see starts against RHP to give Uribe a rest sometimes, as he hasn't really hit for much since taking over SS.

And fans see the inflated numbers Posey is putting up in AAA, but the MLE for that is much lower.  He is currently batting .327/.422/.506/.928 overall, but the level of pitching is nowhere nears that of the majors, which was Sabean's main point in his poorly expressed explanation regarding why Posey was staying down in AAA.  His MLE is only .276/.353/.417/.770, which is good, and slightly better than Molina's current batting line, but which is either an offensive starter nor that much better than what Molina has been hitting for this season.  And it is built on the hot streak he had in early May, as his April numbers MLE was only .286/.351/.381/.732, which is basically what Molina got now, and he has cooled off since then.

Adding him to the lineup might improve the offense, but will not necessarily make the offense good.  And that, to me is the crux of the matter, whether bringing him up is a smart move or a desperate move.  To me, it only seems to be a desperate move, and there is no reason to be desperate now.  There are still a lot of games to be played and we are not that far behind the division leaders right now.  And he has cooled off great recently:  in his last 10 games he has hit .229/.341/.257/.598, with only one double in 35 AB and 10 K's, which is not the batting line of someone who is ready to take on MLB pitching.  And that is his actual line, not his MLE; fans miss details like this when they just eye a hitter's top line in the minors and drool.

Affeldt Hamstring Appraisal

According to Schulman's blog post, Affeldt's hamstring injury which took him out of yesterday's game, plus probably was affecting him during the game, leading to his poor performance, does not look serious and thus should not put him on the DL.  Tests will be done to see if that is true or not.

Our bullpen has been taking a number of hits and losing Affeldt would greatly affect the structure since he's the go-to guy before Wilson.  Runzler would presumably take over the lefty duties, and I would guess that Mota, who is currently doing better, would get the call before Romo, who drew first relief duty in the blow-out the other day.  And obviously it would greatly weaken the bullpen to replace him, unlike losing Medders, where it may have been an improvement with the addition of Bautista.


  1. FYI: I'm not sure why Minor League Splits has Posey's line wrong, but he's hitting .344/.435/.525 and not the .327/.422/.506 -- that's like an additional 40 points of OPS.

  2. Actually, I might have answered my own question. It appears that Minor League Splits hasn't updated over the past day or so. Buster went 4-4 last night.

  3. I guess my point about Buster is that everyone focused on him when he was hot in early May. He was pretty cold for the past 10 games until going 4-4. He was not that great in April, nice, but certainly not slump-busting goodness.

    To me, the overall number is not as important as consistency. That rears its ugly head with Schierholtz, he would get white hot for two weeks but then be dead cold
    offensively, and even if it was his shoulder, that has been his pattern in the major leagues, hot then cold and so on. The Giants clearly don't want that, else Bowker would have had a job long ago.

    Also, there is an interview in the Chronicle with Sabean, and it further makes clear that the Giants will not be bringing up Posey unless he's playing regularly.

    That unfortunately, would mean that Molina and/or Huff would have to be so bad that Posey would come up and be better or injured. Not likely.

    I was hoping that he would come up and take two starts per week from each, for four starts per week, but it sounds like Sabean wants him playing full-time, which is 5+ starts per week. Not sure what will happen now.

    Hopefully it is just Sabean talking about now and not later. If I were in control, Posey would be coming up, ready or not, in August at the latest, if not after the All-Star break when there are all those games with no breaks. We need Molina to mentor him for 2011, particularly since Lincecum likes Molina so much. And I think Posey coming to the team will give it more energy and excitement.

    Plus, I think bringing Posey up now, where he would be considered the savior of the offense, would be a big disservice to him and put too much pressure on him. He should be transitioning in, not thrown into the deep side of the pool to sink or swim.

  4. Thought I would mention that the Giants made a number of moves the past couple of days.

    Unfortunately, Renteria pulled a hammy and was placed on the DL again. They were able to bring back up Rohlinger somehow - I thought the rule was that once a player went down, he had to wait 10 days before he can come up again.

    Then today, because of the high use of the bullpen in recent games, particularly with Lincecum struggling so much, the Giants sent down Matt Downs and brought back up Waldis Joaquin, because Affeldt is still out but is recovering from his hamstring problem.

    I thought I would also note some news from Schulman:

    Emmanuel Burriss while rehabbing has been working out with the Giants and impressing Bochy with his hitting. He's still only 25 for this season, so he could be developing despite being on rehab, because now they can work extensively with him to get him to use his natural strength more when hitting in order to hit for more power.

    That is his main negative as a hitter. With his great bat control, he should be able to hit for a high average. With moderate walks, he should get on base at least as well as the average hitter, where he should be able to steal a lot of bases.

    But he had almost zero power, that despite strong forearms that Carney Lansford admired and thought should lead to much more power. Figuring that out would change him from so-so prospect to a strong contributor in the lineup, providing OBP, some SLG, plus good defense.

    Didn't realize until now but the Nats changed their starter for today from Olson to Craig Stammen, a pretty so-so pitcher. We should beat him - and we are leading right now in the 9th - but was lucky that Zito didn't give up more runs in his disaster start of his, another poor start for him.

    OK, Giants win, Giants win the series. Pivotal play is probably the passed ball by Stamman, which placed Bowker at 2B where he could not have been doubled off when Molina grounded out to the pitcher. That set up the rest of the inning (of course, one would also point out that Bowker wouldn't even be on first if not for the error, so maybe that one is just as pivotal).

    Still, however it was set up, Schierholtz, Torres, and Sanchez still did get clutch hits consecutively to drive in 3 runs to win the game.

  5. Schulman reports Giants talking with Pat "the Bat" Burrell about a AAA contract:

    I can live with that, and if he figures out his hitting down there, maybe bring him up and send Bowker down to play everyday. He could also take LHP at 1B too.



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