Monday, June 28, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 40-34: Ducking the Fodgers

Tough series against the Red Sox.  People got to remember that they are a good team, and we are going to lose series to good teams sometimes.

Plus, our starters have appeared to fall into a collective funk all together, Lincecum, Zito, Cain, Sanchez all had tough starts in this turn of the rotation, probably the worse start for each of them all season.  Luckily our offense came through in Sanchez's start plus he re-grouped and held the fort after that, else we would have been swept.

Now we face the D-gers, losers of 8 of 10, 11 of 15, a pretty bad tailspin that knocked them out of 2nd place.  The offense fell a little, averaging 4.5 runs scored, but their pitching fell off the cliff, allowing 4.9 runs on average during that 15 game stretch.  They are rumored to be looking for starting pitching and is so desperate for pitching that they just picked up Jack Taschner, whom the Pirates just recently released (but to be fair, Taschner looks like he was just having some bad luck, he's been striking out a lot of batters and not walking that many).  And dame fortune smiles on us as Matt Kemp is apparently having some sort of injury issue and is out of the lineup for today's game, the second day in a row.

Game 1:  Chad Billingsley vs. Zito

MLB Notes:
Dodgers: Billingsley is returning from a stint on the disabled list with a tight groin suffered in his last start, but he passed a simulated game test Thursday and reported no stiffness Friday. He is 4-2 lifetime against the Giants and 2-1 at AT&T Park.
Giants: Zito lasted only four innings in his last outing against Houston, giving up five runs on seven hits. In Zito's last start against the Dodgers in April, the lefty tossed 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball en route to a no-decision.
Hard to say what is going to happen. Billingsley should be fresh but he should also be rusty. Zito was horrible, but that was at Minute Maid park and there were a lot of dink hits, which will find their way of falling in eventually and give you a bad start.

Billingsly has a 3.15 ERA lifetime against the Giants in SF, so he will be tough to beat here, no matter what, so we will need Zito to put up a game like he's been doing this season and not like the one he threw in his last start.  It is like the starters caught a collective cold this time around the rotation, hopefully Zito can get them out of the slide.  He does not typically give up so many hits, so it should not be a repeat performance.

Billingsly has history on his side but Zito has 2010 on his side and Billingsley is coming off the DL, so I would lean towards Zito, though I would call it even for the most part.  I am thankful that the 'Dres are facing Ubaldo today and probably will lose as Correia is their starter, and while I love Kevin, I don't think he's better than Ubaldo right now.

Game 2:  John Ely vs. Cain

MLB Notes:
Dodgers: Ely bounced back in Anaheim after repeated wobbly starts, allowing only one earned run in seven innings and drawing the loss because his offense ran out of a tying rally in the ninth. He's a strike thrower who doesn't throw hard enough to get away with misses.
Giants: Cain's steady streak of impressive outings went up in smoke against Houston in his last outing, in which he last only 2 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs on nine hits. The seven-run outing caused Cain's ERA to jump from 2.16 to 2.72.
Soft tossers typically have their way with the Giants, though they did beat up on Wakefield and Moyer.  But Cain has been dominating this season, particularly at home, and his horrible start in Houston was his first disaster start of the 2010 season, so I expect him to bounce back with another strong start against Ely.

I would call this pretty even with a lean towards Cain for dominance this season, because Ely had been pretty good himself this season until that bad three game start streak, but recovered nicely with that game against Anaheim, going 7 innings.  Being a young guy in his first season, hard to say if he won't struggle again or if he figured things out in his last start.

Game 3:  Vincent Padilla vs. Sanchez

MLB Notes:
Giants: Sanchez struggled early in his last outing against Boston, including a 37-pitch first inning in which he gave up a three-run homer to Kevin Youkilis. Sanchez managed to regrup and pitch into the sixth inning, only giving up those three runs but walking four.
It has already been announced on KNBR that Padilla will be starting, so I don't know why they list the game as TBD for LA.  Should be an interesting game, particularly if the Giants had won the first two games.  Padilla is the guy who hit Rowand in the face in April, but then did not call to apologize or even to check up to see how Rowand was doing.  Perhaps the Giants can put a hex on the D-gers like they did to the Red Sox, who lost Dustin Pedroia, Clay Buccholz, and Victor Martinez on successive days against us (interesting idea I heard on KNBR after the game is that the Red Sox needs a catcher and we have Bengie Molina available;  don't think it will happen for a 4-6 week need, as they still have Jason Veritek while Martinez is healing, but I thought I would throw it out there).

Padilla has not been doing well this season, but I think almost anybody except for the people in the D-gers front office knew that one.  He did pitch great for them after they traded for him last season, but his history was not pretty at all.  He has also just returned from the DL, and concurrent with that is the D-gers recent slide into losing a lot.  They are 1-5 in his starts this season, though he probably should have won one, maybe two, other starts.  He definitely should have won his last start, he did pitch well.

Hard to say which way to go with this start.  I can see Sanchez giving Padilla and their top hitters some close inside pitches, but we don't have a lot of games where we can screw around and be head-hunting, particularly against a team we will be competing closely with for a playoff spot.  He recovered nicely from his early hiccups and enabled the Giants to win Friday's game against the Red Sox.

I can only lean towards the Giants though because Padilla was very good in his last start, and he can have consecutive good starts.  But Sanchez has been pretty good this season so I have to give the edge to him.

Giants Thoughts

Pretty close games but I would lean towards the Giants winning the series.  However, Posey's bad streak of hitting continued during the Boston series:  he's not hitting, not walking, not hitting for any power.  He has been cold as ice in his last 12 games, hitting a freezing .152/.167/.196/.362.  He got 3 hits on Friday, giving hope that he'll snap out of his cold streak, but then went oh-fer the rest of the series.  He will need to get untracked for us soon if we are to win more games than we lose while he is starting.  I expect that we will be seeing him sit more often until he gets untracked.

But it is not all on Posey either in the last three series, a lot of people need to start hitting.  Sandoval (.185/.214/.222/.437), Torres (.182/.250/.273/.523), Molina (.263/.300/.263/.563), Sanchez (.161/.229/.290/.519), Uribe (.161/.257/.355/.612), even Huff (.222/.300/.333/.633) has been scuffling.  It is pretty hard to win when your top three hitters are hitting so poorly, as Torres, Sanchez, and Huff has been doing, and Uribe has not been that good either, though at least he hit for power.

Only Burrell and Renteria have been hitting well, with a batting line of .250/.357/.500/.857 for Pat the Bat and .417/.500/.542/1.042 for Edgar.  Rowand did poorly still, but just not as poorly as most everyone else:  .250/.318/.350/.668.  That's still not good enough to push either Huff or Uribe out of the lineup, but good enough to get him into the lineup still.

And the starting pitchers all had bad starts to boot in the last time through the rotation, so they will need to rebound from that and start pitching well again, particularly since we are facing the D-gers and especially because they have been struggling themselves.

This is the time to put our boot to their neck and take a giant step forward in the division.  A sweep would put good distance between us and them plus help to get us closer to the division leaders, San Diego.  It would also be a great statement.  We can only do that if the hitters start hitting again and the pitchers pitch like they usually do.


  1. Mr. ObsessiveGiant,

    I have a general sort of question, not a comment. You seem so knowledgeable about the Giants from short fall league to the majors, that I would like your opinion on the Giants A-ball Augusta team. Specifically how good are Bucardo and Casilla? Their numbers are incredible and only Casilla is old enough to buy beer. I know Bucardo is a starter and Casilla is a starter. My questions are--what do throw; velocity, different pitches, control? Can you see any of them on the September fast track to the majors? Might there be a spot for them with the Flying Squirrels?

  2. Geoffrey, questions are always welcome. I would label myself a voracious reader and thus I pass along Giants news that might not be as widely spread since I go to a number of different sources. Plus I'm an analyst, so I look over their career numbers and can give my impressions. I am not an expert but can pass my observations as a interested fan.

    First, I would note that the Sally League is younger too, so Jorge Bucardo is much younger relative to the competition, while Jose Casilla, while he is younger, at 21 he's very close to the average age of 21.6 for hitters and 21.8 for pitching. Still, what both is doing is excellent, whatever the age context.

    Bucardo signed with the Giants because his older brother Wilber signed with us. I don't see Wilber in the minors, so I'm guessing he had an injury that is keeping him out. FYI, he's been considering a fringe prospect with a plus fastball that can reach mid-90's yet he doesn't strike out many as he has no secondary pitch that is working.

    Jorge is not enough of a prospect to be ranked, but that's why I described his brother a little, as BA thought Jorge to be a better prospect. In Wilber's only ranking (in 2008, 19th), BA noted, "But Bucardo might have made his biggest contribution when he helped convince his younger brother Jorge to spurn a larger offer from the Yankees and sign with the Giants. Jorge Bucardo, who went 7-2, 1.35 in the DSL as a 17-year-old, has a similar build and repertoire as Wilber but is further along at a younger age and will be a player to watch when he makes his U.S. debut."

    Jorge has been rising one level at a time so far. I'm thinking the Giants will keep him in Augusta all season, that seems to be their M.O. with young Latin prospects in their first full minor league season in the U.S. Also, most promotions normally happen in May and June, and if he hasn't been promoted yet, he's probably not going to be, barring injury in a level above.

    So far, he has been fulfilling the description above by BA. He has been striking out a lot more guys than his brother. But not excessively so thus far, but he's also doing it at a younger age than his brother, plus his brother has never played a full-season league yet, so Jorge has passed up his older brother.

    With great K/BB ratios, low BB/9, and adequate K/9, Jorge looks like he could become a good enough prospect to be ranked in future years, but since he hadn't been ranked before this, I think he will probably need to put up another similar good year in San Jose before he gets ranked in the Giants Top 30. I would bet that he needs to add another pitch or two, which Kline seems pretty good at doing, so he could be learning it now in Augusta with their pitching coach.

  3. Jose Casilla is considered the better prospect. BA ranked him 27th this season and the following are bits of info BA wrote about him.

    He is Santiago's little brother, keeping with the brother link, and he is similar to his older brother, though the Giants are not sure if he'll be a starter or reliever(but so far he has mainly been used as a reliever in 2009 and 2010; the Giants have no problem with switching relievers to starters, Russ Ortiz was a closer, and Brian Wilson they were still thinking of starting him until they anointed him the future closer).

    He usually throws 92-94 MPH out of the bullpen (though I would note that most pitchers save a little to go longer as a starter, so he's probably closer to 90 when starting. For a RHP, that is not a lot). He has a "devastating" slider (he must have some good pitch because his current 1.17 ERA is great plus he hardly gives up many hits).

    He's still learning as a pitcher, a bit immature, as he gets distracted by runners and is less consistent out of the stretch. He fell in love with his slider and started over using it (pitchers need to mix their pitches or the batter will eventually see the pitch easily).

    Still, he strikes out a lot of batters while not walking that many, for a great K/BB ratio. Plus he is a groundball pitcher, which is a great combination with his ability to strike out guys (that's why Felix Hernandez is as good as he is for the Mariners; not that Casilla will be like him, just a good combo). That also means he gives up few homers, which is good as well.

    BA lastly noted that "he has the most upside among an intriguing group of young Giants international pitchers that also includes the Bucardo brothers, Jorge and Wilber, and Edward Concepcion."

    Here are my additional thoughts. Given the Giants riches at starting plus Wheeler is working his way up, and there's always Henry Sosa, I think Jose will stay a reliever. With his numbers, I would have to say that he is probably going to be Wilson's successor at some point, though he would start out in set-up, as I think we're keeping Wilson for a while longer (if Sabean does things as I hope, he'll be willing to trade off players once they reach the 30 age range as long as we have a replacement ready).

    He is perfect for a closer: lots of strikeouts, lots of ground balls when not striking out, leads to very few homers. Still only 21 so he could still add on some MPH and be more like his brother who has nasty stuff that goes to three digits sometimes.

    However, if the need arises (remember Noah Lowry, that could affect the Giants riches at starting pitching), that is perfect for a starter as well. So it makes some sense to just have Jose reliever for now, as that reduces the stress on his arm for now, then they could build up his endurance if the need arises, as he's still young and still far down the system.

    If he handles San Jose similarly in 2011, I think he could jump to AA mid-season and perhaps AAA. I think 2012 for the majors is realistic for him, though if the needs arises in 2011 and he's doing just as well, he could jump that high.

    Whereas Jorge Bucardo is probably going up the system one level per year, his stuff is not so great that he can be jumping levels. He will have to prove himself at every level, like Pucetas, because most pitchers without stuff tend to fizzle out by AA and AAA.

  4. Thanks for the great answers. Maybe I can throw one more question at you?

    Tyler Graham? His OBP is around 400, he leads each league he is in, or is near the top SB's. If he had the AB's he would lead the PCL in BA (probably a lot of others can say the same), yet he is still in the top five in SB's without the games played. One thing I like is that he has zero hr's which seems to indicate he embraces his role as a true lead-off hitter. Is he a Brett Butler type (I know he isn't real popular with Giant fans) But wouldn't it be nice to have a true lead-off hitter. How is his defense? It would sure be nice to have a true lead-off hitter that knows his role. A guy that can work a walk, bunt, infield single, into a trip to second base, or leg a single into a double.

    What is your opinion on him?

  5. No problem, glad to tackle your question.

    Hard to say much about Graham because he's never been much of a prospect and thus very little has been written about him.

    The only comment I could find was that BA's 2007 annual noted that he can fly with 80 speed. Of course, his problem previously has been that he has been unable to get on base with any regularity.

    So far, his best season before was in 2007 in Augusta, with a .352 OBP and 29 SB in 37 attempts. Otherwise, the numbers are pretty bad almost any way you slide it.

    The only good thing to note is that he has stolen a lot of bases, though his poor success rate suggests that he does that only because of his speed, and not due to any technique, which to me is a negative.

    Also, despite his speed, his defensive numbers don't show much above average ability in CF, he fields the corners better probably because of his speed (much like how Lewis is good defensively in LF but horrible in CF). So his defense looks like it could be OK on the corners but he doesn't hit well enough to play a corner position, he really needs to play CF and get on base a lot to become a major league player.

    About this season, sorry, but it appears to be very fluky. His BABIP is very high, which his speed can improve, but his BABIP for his career is .339 (which includes this season) and this season it is at .440. And he has not done many bunt tries for hits, though he is 3 for 3 so far this season.

    His strikeout rate appears to have improved, but still not ideal, plus he's not walking enough still.

    He is also greatly benefiting from playing at home, for some reason he's been walking a lot at home, hardly at all on the road, plus hitting significantly more line drives there, which should lead to a significant drop at some point, though he's been very consistently good for two months now.

    His MLE is not that great either for this season, .306/.343/.381/.724. That could work in CF, but his defense there has not been that great, though, which is what you hope for when his batting line is not that good and he has no power.

    He is due for a big fall by most measures.

    One huge positive change, which could suggest that this is his new career level, is that his line drive percentage is at 26.7% this season (which is very good), after being around 10% his whole career. Looks like he might have learned how to hit during the off-season, much like Torres. Line drives are much more likely to become hits, and with his speed, help him stretch singles into doubles.

    I don't know how long he has to play for that to become a new level of performance, but he is at 27% for both May and June (he missed most of April for some reason).

    I liked Brett Butler when he was with the Giants, but, yeah, his gushing about joining the D-gers killed any Giants fans interest in him. But we've been searching for a Brett Butler type since he left us.

    Gary Brown looks like he could be a Brett Butler type but with some line drive power (I just posted on him today).

    Tyler Graham does not look like he'll do much for us at the major league level in 2010. If he's still around next season and continue to do well, he could be someone they take a look at at some point, but at age 26 and having his first good season, the odds are against him.

    If this line drive percentage holds up, he could see a September call-up, though the odds are against that because we don't have any spots open on the 40 man roster and we would need to drop someone if he is brought up or make a big trade where we dump a lot of 40 roster guys for one guy.

    He could make the 40 man during the off-season, but again that would require someone to be dropped. Not sure that would happen.

  6. Mr. OCD-Giantfan,

    Maybe you can direct me to the correct forum to post questions for you. If you have an email or url for the correct spot I would appreciate it, but for now since this is the only place I am able to consistently navigate to, to find your in-depth info, I would like to ask another question.

    Bumgarner- the ball flying off his bat, on would seem are "normal" sort of lefty drifting or sweeping (not sure of correct term) fastballs, low 90's, I noticed the balls had a very unique sound. Almost as if there was a lot of spin on the ball. How would you describe what he is throwing? He does not seem like a difficult pitcher to "square-up", as the terminology now-a-days is so often used, but there does seem to be a lot of difficulty in doing just that. I noticed on a couple of the cheap singles in yesterday's game that ball seemed to land very soft with a slice spin and deaden. The balls didn't seem to have the normal height required or slice in the air to land in such a manner. My question is--what is he throwing that I am not seeing, but hearing? Was just the humidified baseballs at Coors? It is the sound of a thud versus a crack of the bad.

    Also, I haven't seen a lot of him let, but does he have, or is he developing, a more sweeping, Zito, sort of curve? Is it called 12-6 or more 11-5?

    Thanks. Keep on not taking the OCD meds. I need the info.

    PS- we're way to good to be 2 over 500 at this point. This is a low as it gets for us. Does your business background say if this team were a stock to buy now and sell (we would never sell) in the future at 20+ games over 500.

  7. Asking questions on a post is fine with me, I get notification by e-mail no matter how old the post is. I would suggest submitting the comment on a more recent post, look to the right, where the Blog Archive is, and click on the latest post. Or in this case, since MadBum pitched against the D-Rox, put your comment on my post covering this series.

  8. Geoffrey, most call me ogc for short, FYI.

    Don't know about Bumgarner's pitch sound, but I've read that he's hard to bat against because his across the body, three-quarters throwing motion hides the ball from the batter momentarily. Some fear that will lead to injury eventually, FYI.

    His new pitch that he developed this season is the cutter, and according to Baseball America, besides the fastball, he had "a slider with good tilt and an average changeup." I don't know about a curve.

    I think we are too good to be only 2 over .500 too, but it is what it is. The season is full of ups and downs, and it could get worse before it gets better. We might need to the All-Star break to regroup.

    It is not my business background, but my analysis background that would lead me to "buy" on the Giants now. I would have bought at the start of the season at .500 because I thought the team should win in the 90 win vicinity. I still think we are somewhere around there and should be competing for the title at the end.

    Of course, the pesky Padres has been much better than I expected (though they were my dark horse to win the West pre-season because of how well they played at the end of the 2009 season), their offense is as bad as I thought, but their pitching is waaay beyond what I thought they were capable of.

    Still, because they are young and unproven, I think that they will wear down, either from inexperience with late season pressure or physical tiredness from pitching more innings than they are used to, and falter down the stretch.

    Hopefully that is when the Giants vets can help push us forward.



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