Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 41-40: Brewers Up Next

Sorry, forgot to post up this series before taking off for a mini-vacation down the coast.

Obviously, disappointing to lose the series 1-3 to D-Rox, but as I covered in my post on the series, it did not look good for us to break even in the series, we were facing pretty good pitching while also in an offensive funk. Coors did not break them out of it.  Still, they almost did it, dragging out the last game to 15 innings before succumbing.  Up next:  the Brew-Crew, led by the King Pin, Prince Fielder.

Game 1:  Dave Bush vs. Sanchez

Obviously, the Giants won.  Still, I think it would be instructive to see how it looked going into the game.  Sanchez hasn't been that good against the Brewers in his career:
MLB Notes:  Sanchez saw his personal three-game winning streak snap in his last start against the Dodgers, when he allowed five runs -- four earned -- in five innings. Sanchez is 0-1 with a 8.31 ERA in eight career appearances (four starts) against the Brewers.

Still, he was haunted there by timely hits previously, in his first two starts there, but was pretty good against them last season (7IP, 3 hits, 3 walks, 12 K's), which would be closer to where he is today as a pitcher. It looked like he would walk a bunch, strike out a bunch, give up some hits, and how he would fare would depend on whether he shut them down when needed, as there would be a lot of base runners.

Dave Bush, however, had a 3.29 ERA against the Giants at home in his career, covering four starts, so he pretty much shut them down previously. It looked like it would be a evenly fought battle between the two, given how well Sanchez has pitched this season (3.15 ERA overall; 3.26 ERA on road), with a lean towards Bush because of his past control of the Giants at home.

Game 2: Randy Wolf vs. Bumgarner

MLB Notes:
Giants: Bumgarner has worked seven innings in each of his two starts since being recalled from Triple-A. Both times, the rookie has fallen prey to the long ball during the early innings before settling down.

Brewers: Wolf was in control Thursday against the Cardinals, giving up just one walk and scattering four hits over 6 1/3 innings. His command was excellent, as he threw a first-pitch strike to the first 11 batters he faced while mixing in his curveball effectively.
Bumgarner has been amazing in his first two starts this season.  He pitched like a pro in both games, giving us seven strong innings.  However, shakiness early on costed him, and he ended up losing both games.  However, he handled strong offensive teams pretty well so he looks like he'll be able to handle the Brewers OK at their home park as well.

And OK might do it against Randy Wolf.  Wolf has been a pretty good pitcher most of his career, particularly for our divisional rivals in recent seasons - ironically, he grew up nearby, possibly as a Giants fan - but he has had a tough season, particularly at home, with a 5.25 ERA.  However, he has pitched well against the Giants at whatever his home park was before, and particularly well in recent seasons, so he might have enough to take on the Giants even in Miller park.

Still, his problem at home is giving up a lot of hits and homers, while not striking out that many batters.  For whatever reason, he has had a tough time pitching in this park.  If anything, the park appears to be getting into his head, his first start was a DOM start, but since then his PQS at home was either a poor 3, or a DIS start.  In fact, 3 of his last 5 starts were DIS starts here at home.

Given his strong history against the Giants, I have to call the game relatively even, but I would have to lean strongly towards Bumgarner because he's controlled good offensive team thus far, even in a strong offensive home like Colorado, and Wolf has been struggling to figure out how to pitch at his new home here.

Game 3:  Chris Narveson vs. Lincecum

MLB Notes:

Giants:  Lincecum has lost his last two starts after winning three in a row. However, he managed to maintain his velocity in his most recent outing at Colorado, and he did so in 87-degree heat -- the sort of weather that often has drained his energy.

Brewers: Narveson stumbled out of the gates in St. Louis, giving up four hits and two runs in the first to put his club immediately behind the eight-ball, a familiar theme for Narveson. The lefty has allowed 17 runs and 32 baserunners in opening frames in just 13 starts.

Narveson has been so bad, don't need much to discuss, should be a win day for Lincecum, even with his recent struggles.

Game 4: Manny Parra vs. Zito

MLB Notes:

Giants: Zito has lost his last two decisions over a span of four starts. That stretch actually began with a strong outing -- a complete game in a setback on June 18. The Giants gave Zito a lead last Saturday with their stunning seven-run outburst, but Zito couldn't hold it.

Brewers: Spotted an eight-run lead after four innings and an 11-run lead after the fifth, Parra was unable to take advantage, laboring through 5 2/3 innings and giving up five earned runs. He threw deep into most counts, ringing up a pitch count of 116 in less than six innings.

Two struggling pitchers but much different starts to the season. Parra was thrust in the starting rotation due to an injury to another starter, he has struggled with walks but has struck out enough to counter that problem. However, he has been unable to stop the hits or the homers from happening, and that has costed him big as a starter, 5.15 ERA so far. He has done slightly better at home in terms of HR but the hits have cost him big time.

Zito was bad to his pre-Giants goodness early this season before taking a big steps down in May. His June was actually pretty good if you look at his peripherals, but he was a bit unlucky and ended up with a bad ERA again, and he just got slammed in Colorado. However, he depends greatly on his curve and Coors tends to destroy pitchers like that - though he actually pitched well there when he was struggling elsewhere previously, odd that - so I'm willing to give him that start.

He hasn't really pitched that well in Milwaukee before, but he had struggled for us before as well. This season has been different for Zito, so while I would call this game about even, I would have to lean towards the Giants for this game, as Parra has been pretty bad this season as a starter, though it is hard to blame him since he probably prepared to be a reliever.

Giants Thoughts

The Giants are in great shape for at least splitting the series, given the win in game one, with a good possibility of winning the series, and an outside shot at sweeping. That would certainly take out the bitter taste in Giants fans mouths from the past few weeks.

People have been questioning the Giants because of their 41-40 half-way record, some comparing it to the 88-74 record of last season, but I've never felt that it is correct to look at one snapshot and say that is what is going on. If the Giants were around .500 for the whole season, then that would be a fair question, but at one point they were 37-28, 9 games above, on pace for a 92-70 record.

As Burrell was quoted as saying the other day to another Giant, if the Giants focused on gaining one game per week, we are not that far behind (this is Dusty's old rule of thumb for judging how far behind you are and for making a seemingly hard task much easier). A 7 game lead can dissipate pretty fast. The Giants were at a similar point earlier this season, long losing streak, 23-22 record and 4.5 games back, then they went on a 14-6 win streak.

With the Brewers and then the Nationals, even on the road, before the All-Star break, they could return to better footing. The Brewers have been horrible at home this season. Their HOF closer lost his job to a rookie and Fielder has been so-so this season (I know, he's on my fantasy team), though Corey Hart resuscitated his career this season (and apparently attracted the attention of the Giants, Schulman tweeted that the Giants are focusing on him). And as I covered, even before the win, the Giants looked in good shape to at least split the series, and now with the win in the one game in strong question against the Giants, look good to win the series.

Against the Nats, they were actually doing OK, about .500 until the bottom fell out about 3 weeks ago. They have gone 6-16 in that period. However, in general this season, they have played OK at home. Still, given that bad streak, with three games, one has to think that the Giants could possibly win the series, though it will be hard because the Giants will face Stephen Strasburg in Friday's game, though we have Matt Cain facing him. Strasburg has mostly handled teams, but has been showing cracks in his last couple of starts. Plus it looks like we'll be facing Stammen and Martin, two rookies, and Stammen has been struggling and while Martin has a good ERA, his Runs Allowed has been high, due to the hits he gave up, so I would downgrade his performance enough that these two games should lean towards Giants wins.

No On Hart

As noted above, the Giants are looking at Corey Hart. After looking like a perennial All-Star in 2007, he slumped in 2008 and 2009, before coming back this season. He has great overall numbers right now, 19 homers, .288/.350/.573/.923 with 61 RBI right now.

But people looking at his overall numbers now, which are great, would miss that he was scuffling again in April, looking like the same-old, same-old disappointment he has been the past two seasons. He then had a great May, where he slugged 10 homers to fuel a great performance. He has also had a great June and July, but if you look at his BABIP, it was .368 in June, .467 in July, neither of which is sustainable by him, a .306 career BABIP hitter, and .305 BABIP for the past three seasons. There is no way he will be able to continue hitting like he has for this season, let alone for 2011, which is controllable for the Giants if we got him.

Of course, the other part of the equation is what we might give up for him. I would be OK with a trade if we were to trade prospects that the Giants did not consider to be keepers, like they did last season with Barnes and Alderson. Hart might be able to continue to hitting close to this for the rest of the season, that has happened for players before, then reverting to his past couple of seasons' performance in 2011.

However, I don't find that likely right now. Most probably it would cost the Giants Jonathan Sanchez to get Hart. I would not do that. Hart is on a down trend career-wise, with no plus quality other than he can hit 20+ homers for Milwaukee, which is boosted greatly by his home park. His road numbers are very ordinary, average. He strikes out a little too much, walks not enough, does not hit well enough, particularly on the road, though he has hit OK in AT&T.

Sanchez however, is on the brink of figuring things out. And he has had a great season so far despite not figuring it all out. He strikes out a large percentage of the batters he face, which makes up for his walks, his K/BB ratio is OK at 1.92.

Plus, Schulman tweets that it would take Sanchez PLUS prospects to get Hart. No thanks. There is no upside to getting Hart.

Plus, getting him would mean we have to release an outfielder. We already have Huff, Burrell, Rowand, Torres, and Schierholtz in the outfield. Getting Hart would mean getting rid of one of those players. Unless the Giants are ready to give up on Rowand and release his big contract, I would not be happy with getting Hart, just in terms of what it does to the Giants outfield roster.

Getting Hart will probably mean the DFA of Schierholtz. I think that Nate is the equivalent of Hart. Both will hit around high 700 OPS plus provide good defense in RF. Hart might be more likely to provide that, but we would be paying a lot more money for him than Schierholtz. I would rather rotate Schierholtz into the starting mix than to give up anybody significant for Hart, and particularly for Jonathan Sanchez.

Hopefully this is more a case of the Giants kicking the tires of the Brewers, doing their due diligence, to see what it would cost us to get Hart. That is often the case with the Giants rumors, the Giants are usually pretty quiet on their player moves, they usually come out of no-where. However, because they did indicate an interest in the other team's player, that team then releases the rumor to kick up interest with other teams and let the rest of the league know that they are interested in trading Hart. This is similar to the laughable Lincecum for Rios rumor that Toronto released a few years back.

My view is supported by Baggarly's tweet that the Brewers are only looking for a team that will overpay, but that his intel with the Giants says "Giants aren't sufficiently enamored w/Hart to do that." He then tweeted that the Giants wonder if his numbers are inflated by their strong offensive lineup and his ballpark (which I noted from his stats). If the Giants aren't that interested, then the rumor has to be coming from the Brewers, not the Giants.


  1. I have been impressed with how resilient the team has been this season. Started out hot, got in losing streak to fall to .500 then went on winning streak.

    Now they have gone through another losing streak and particularly after losing that 15 inning game in Colorado, then having to fly out to Milwaukee for a day game the next day, no one would have blamed them for having a down first game in Milwaukee.

    But they put the hurt on the Brewcrew, and continue to pile it on.

    I wonder how much of this is driven by the Giants outrage over Fielder's bowling pin routine with the Giants last season where all his teammates participated and there was no remorse on their side at all, no apology.

    Amazing how some people can raise their performance when they feel that they have been wronged (like Lincecum every time he starts). But if the Giants can sweep them, that would show them up pretty good.

  2. Giants sweep Brewers! Torres, Huff, and Posey are the hitting stars of this series, plus the pitching was pretty good, except for Zito and a couple of relievers. Ray appears to be a find, but Runzler suffered injury.

  3. In what world does anyone support Zito's angst over getting pulled with the bases loaded and him showing little ability to get the Brews out?

    He's pissed over getting pulled?

    We're pissed that he walked a left-handed hitter 3 times when he was 0-6 against lefties this season.

    We're pissed that he walked the bases full, making our big lead that should lead to a win look shaky.

    We're pissed that out of 27 batters faced, he allowed 7 hits and 6 walks.

    We're pissed that he was at 113 pitches before the 5th inning was over.

    We're pissed that we had to go through two seasons of horrible pitching before he started pitching like he is capable of.

    What happened to Zito not caring about what other people think, and rather, he should focus on the 13 base runners he allowed in 5 innings.



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