Thursday, August 05, 2010

Watching the Watchmen: Raging Razor

As regular readers know, I really hate it when the media goes off, spouting their ideas and opinions.  They are in a position of great influence and can mislead a large number of fans.  The latest who got me going is Ralph Barbieri.

I usually lay off Ralph because I like his show and he's pretty innocuous most of the time, plus he's a HUGE Giants fan, but I just couldn't let what he did yesterday go without writing about it.  He raged on and on about the Giants needing to do something.  That's OK.  But then he went on about how the Giants had to do something, ANYTHING, to prove to Ralph that the Giants were willing to do anything to win it all.

Prove it to ME!

He should get over himself.  Yes, he gets to hobnob with a lot of Giants personnel, and has access to people we can only dream about:  he is very lucky.  But he has to assured that they will do anything?  He periodically talks with Bill Neukom on his show, why not get into some sort of conversation with the guy with his hands on the pocketbook to get that assurance?  You know, like, interview him?

He basically gave the impression that if the Giants went out and signed someone to BIG money, that would be proof.  Can you imagine if we actually signed Manny, one of the guys he mentioned, to a, say, $30M per year contract?  With all the crap he does and time he has spent on the DL, I don't really see the Giants being where they are today had we signed him as many wanted back then

Or worse, what if we had signed, say, an Andruw Jones-type free agent, to name one recent big money bomb.  We already have Rowand, another big bomb would have killed our chances to win this season, but that's OK, it would prove to Ralph that the Giants really are willing to spend the bucks.

Also, the Giants have shown that they are ready to step up.  They signed Lincecum, Cain, Affeldt, and Wilson to extended deals this pre-season.  They didn't have to do that.  They could have waited to make these moves.  Give the Giants some credit for these moves, which ties up budget that they didn't need to do but did, particularly regarding Cain.

And you don't want them making stupid deals.  Stupid deals will hurt even more going forward because it would force the Giants to trade away some of their young talent who they now can't afford because of the stupid deal.  I would rather the Giants tread gingerly in the free agent market, like they did this past off-season, $6M, while more money than most of us will ever see in our lifetime, multiple lifetimes, would not kill the Giants budget.  Mistakes of those size don't hurt as much, aren't long-term, won't affect how we can afford our young stars..

WHOOSH!  Over His Head!

Then he went on and said that the Giants should just trade Jonathan Sanchez away and get a bat, he don't care, just get a 5th starter somewhere, look at other team's 5th starters, they don't have anyone good there either.  Ralph just don't get it.

I've been writing about how great it is to have a pitching rotation that can put down the other team at an ace-like level in any game.  With a rotation like that, there are no easy holes in the rotation, the other team will face a tough pitcher every game they play the Giants.  People always talk about how there are holes in a lineup and how a pitcher can ease up and relax, but if you have a great lineup, the pitcher gets no rest.  But until now, we have never really had an example of that except perhaps the Orioles circa 1970-ish.

But look at the game yesterday.  Sanchez has the stuff to strike out a lot of guys.  He did something that other big strikeout guys for the Giants couldn't do, strike out seven in a row like the great Juan Marichial. Gaylord Perry didn't.  John the Count Montefusco didn't.  Jason Schimidt didn't.  Matt Cain didn't.  Tim Lincecum didn't. Sanchez did.

And Sanchez did something Giants pitchers have had huge problems with in recent years, shutting down Colorado's potent lineup.  While they did miss the Giants killer, Dexter Fowler, because he had a rib cage injury, Tulowitski returned to the cleanup spot, Todd Helton to his #2 spot, Carlos Gonzalez has been on a raging hot streak recently, they have one of the best home records in the majors, and just won four in a row at home, against the Cubs and Pirates, they scored 40 runs in those four games.  Sanchez shut them down, 3-hit them in 6 innings.

Another media commenter noted Sanchez's 4 walks, but research from The Hardball Times found that as long as the pitcher is a high strikeout pitcher, the walks are tolerable as long as his K/BB ratio is above the 2.0 you want to see your starters at.  In fact, that research compared high K/high BB pitchers with low K/low BB pitchers who have K/BB over 2.0 and found that the high K pitchers had a better ERA than the low K pitchers.  So it appears that walks are OK as long as they are companied by at least two strikeouts to match it.

That kind of makes sense. With BABIP at .300 for most pitchers, if you strike out 3+ more than most pitchers, you on average give up one less hit than other pitchers, so you can afford to give up one more walk than other pitchers, as one walk is not as harmful, usually, as one hit, particularly an extra-base hit.

There are many good things about a great rotation like this.  One is that competitiveness will push each one to try to match or top the other, pushing them to greater heights.  I think that is what pushed Cain to take the step up last season, and keep it going this season, is being compared unfavorably relative to Lincecum.  Not that he is jealous, just, competitively, he wants to get where Lincecum is.

Another is that losing streaks will tend to be shorter.  One less hole in the rotation helps that.  The competitiveness is another that helps, in that each will want to be the one to stop the streak, and each are very capable of doing that.  Most of all, each are so good that the odds of a loss is that much less than for any other rotation, top to bottom.  For other teams, once they get past their first or second starter, they could go into a 3-4 games losing streak easily.

And this is not guarantee of good times in any short series.  Our pitchers are not that good.  But if we could run a simulation of this rotation one million times, more times than not, our pitchers can take on any other rotation and beat the other team, because when they are on, they can shut down good offensive teams like Colorado.   We need that advantage this year because we are neck and neck with SD and need every win, but perhaps we can do with just four next season.  But until then, I think we need to keep that advantage going.

I'm OK with Trading a Starting Pitcher

And it is not like I would not be willing to trade one of them to get a good bat.  The problem is that other people's opinion on an equivalent bat does not match what I see as to how good Sanchez is.  Most of the trade suggestions would be a overtrade where we give up a lot more value in Sanchez just to get a good bat.  Same for the ones involving Cain and Bumgarner as well.

No way we should do that.  If anything, the other team should overpay us to get one of our starters.  Starters who pitch this well are very rare.  People don't seem to realize or understand that.  Few teams have even two starters like this, while we have five.  We need to hold strong to our pitchers and when the other team is willing to overpay (think A's haul for Haren), then we can pull the trigger, as that would replenish the farm system while not harming our team significantly since we would still have four good starters in the rotation plus a more established offense.

Still, with media talking heads spout off using their 50,000 watt soapbox, people don't realize this and think that we should trade someone just to get a bat, that something like that makes sense under any circumstances.  It only makes sense under very few scenarios because most teams are not willing to give up their big bats easily.

Carpe Diem:  You Don't Know What Happens Next Year... Or Do You?

This is another sentiment that he expressed:  you don't know about next year, so just blow things out this year, trade Bumgarner, trade Sanchez, they are 5th starters.  Luckily, Tom Tolbert was there to remind him that neither of them are 5th starters on other teams.  Is Ralph really that stupid?  They are only 5th starters on our team.  On any other team, they would be front-line starters.

And this whole "Oh woe is me, I want to see a championship now, I'll sell my team's soul if necessary" B.S. really drives me up the wall.  We have a great core of young players around which we can have a dynasty type team over the next 3-6 years and these people want to throw that all away because they need to have a championship, now!   How mature!

Yeah, Lincecum might not be the same next year.  Cain too, everyone, heck.  But on an overall basis, they are what they are, and that is pretty good, barring really unfortunate circumstances.  And we should be in it every season for the foreseeable future.  If you are going to take that attitude of not knowing about next season, you may as well trade everyone away for prospects every year, because, you know, you don't know what you will have next year, so why risk it.  That is a very fatalistic view.

I just had to turn off KNBR at that point.  I was getting sick to my stomach.  That's why I don't go to most of the popular Giants' watering holes, because there are people like this spouting off all this garbage.

Golden Age:  Show Some Brains!

Grow a pair!  Man up!  We have a great team and these will be the core for the next 3-6 seasons, minimum.  This could be a golden age for us, and all people can think about is trading away that future just to get a hitter for 2 months.  TWO MONTHS!

Now, if I KNEW that such a move would win us the World Series, of course I would be OK with the trade. But the playoffs is such a crapshoot, all the studies show that, and just studying the playoff results show that even when you have a good to great team, you can easily be shut out of the World Series in the first or second round of the playoffs.  But people are willing to blow off a lot of talent in Sanchez or Bumgarner just to make the playoffs, and the way we are going now, we probably make the playoffs anyway.

That is why you build a good core of players, young and good, that you build around - and not trade away for shiny baubles - so that you can go to the playoffs every year and fight the good fight.  Go enough times, we will crack the code eventually and win a World Series.  It is a numbers game as well as a talent game.

And I love the makeup of this team.  We have a good group of hardcore competitors.  Lincecum.  Cain. Bumgarner.  Wilson.  And now, most of all, Posey, I think he's the tipping point for us.  He gives our offense a good image, he gives us a leader.  He is nonchalant about all the awards and accolades coming his way, he knows what the prize really is, and you only get there by winning.  His quiet confidence is infectious, I think, and he will lead us to our goal of a World Series championship.

But only if you can be patient and willing to go through the process.  Luckily, it seems like the Giants management has a plan and has been sticking to it.  Despite the awkwardness of having to meet near-sighted boneheads like Barbieri every week on KNBR and listening to this nonsense.  Ralph was cute in the way he cheered the Giants on all these years, but the Giants really got a good thing going now, and I won't want to see him or anyone else muck that all up.

Hopefully Sabean will rip him a new one soon, they have had good battles in the past, and you can hear it in Sabean's voice sometimes, the weariness of having to deal with Ralph.  That is probably why Baer and Neukom is now in the rotation for this, when Sabean don't feel like putting up with Ralph's crap, he sents Baer out to smooze with Ralph.

In Other News:  Buster Posey Player and Rookie of Month for July

I got my info from the Chron's The Splash by John Shea and he got it from Giants PR staff:
Buster Posey was named the NL's rookie of the month and player of the month for July.
The catcher hit .417 (43-for-103)in 27 games with 20 runs, six doubles, seven homers and 24 RBIs. His on-base percentage was .466., his slugging .699. He had a 21-game hit streak. The 43 hits broke Jim Ray Hart's San Francisco record for most hits in a month by a rookie.
Last Giant to win a player-of-the-month honor? Randy Winn in September 2005. No Giant ever had been named the NL's rookie of the month. It's a fairly new award.
Buster was recalled from Triple-A on May 29. He has the league's highest average (.356) since then while hitting safely in 43 of 56 games -- including 24 of the last 26. He has 21 multiple-hit games, including seven games with three or more hits.
Dude is hitting .429 on the road. With a 15-game hit streak.
Defense? Tim Lincecum swore by Bengie Molina. Now he likes throwing to Posey, who has caught four shutouts this year, including Tuesday's. He was the first rookie in big-league hsitory to catch back-to-back shutouts started by former Cy Young Award winners. That would be Lincecum and Barry Zito on July 15-16.
Want more? OK. .353 with runners in scoring position, including .423 over his last 22 games.
Thank you, Giants PR staff.

Congrats to Buster for his historic July and awards for that!  John Shea also tweeted that the last rookie to win the Player of the Month award was Ryan Braun in July 2007.  Posey continue to do things that only good to great players have done in their careers, good signs that he's the real deal and not just having a lucky streak so far in his MLB career.


  1. Yeah Ralph is a big blowhard. He thinks he's the smartest guy in the world, always want's to be the smart one. Problem is he's not..... Probably would help if he actually played a any time of his life.

  2. I gave up on listening to Ralphie boy years ago. His insipid comments drive me nuts. I remember a couple of years ago he wanted to trade Lincecum for Alex Rios. He compensates for his lack of sports knowledge with repetitive inane questions. I can't believe Sabaen puts up with him. My 80 year old aunt isn't as annoying as him. He's the Larry King of KNBR.

    Go Sharks




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