Monday, August 30, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 72-59: Must Clobber Colorado

Well, as I noted, the Giants had the bad luck to face the D-back's two best starters in their rotation right now, and it was not just the Giants who have not done well against the two of them, it has been every team so far, and now including the Giants.  At least that finally pulled out a win in the third game.

Now they face D-Rox, which has been working their way closer and closer to us, winning 6 of their last 7 games (including sweeping the Braves) and are now within 3 games of the Giants.  The 'Dres have been having their own problems, getting swept by the Phillies, so the Giants actually gained a game on them and are 5 games behind them now, but also 1.5 games behind the new wild card leader, the Phillies.

Game 1:  Jorge de la Rosa vs. Sanchez

MLB Notes:
D-Rox:  De La Rosa threw one of his best outings of the season, striking out seven and allowing just two runs against the Braves on Aug. 24. The southpaw appears to be regaining the dominant form of late last season.
Giants:  Sanchez has been almost incapable of thriving in back-to-back starts. But his inconsistency might bode well for him against Colorado, since he yielded five runs and six hits while walking three in 4 1/3 innings against Cincinnati.
De la Rosa is D-Rox's version of Sanchez, you never know when he's going to throw a gem or a stinker.  However, this season, he seems to be good for one start each month, then OK to poor ones the rest of the month.  They mention how good he was in his last start, but he was just as good in a start at the end of July, but then spent most of August not being that good, with walks being his big problem.   Historically, however, he has dominated the Giants in SF.

Sanchez is a bit of an enigma to fans, but really, he's been great for a 4th starter.  It is hard to look good in a rotation with Lincecum and Cain in it, and he looks bad in comparison, but for many clubs, his production would earn him the #2 spot in the rotation.  A pitcher who can keep his ERA around 4 every month in the 4th spot is gold.  However, he has not pitched well against the D-Rox in his career, not surprising for games in Colorado, but also in SF too, even worse ERA.  He will need to man up for the Giants to have a chance to win this game.  Have to call it even with a lean towards Colorado.

Game 2:  Esmil Rogers vs. Bumgarner

D-Rox:  Rogers was lit up in his worst start of the season when he gave up eight hits and seven earned runs in 1 2/3 innings against the Braves on Aug. 25. A nine-run comeback got him off the hook.
Giants:  There has been a pronounced difference between Bumgarner's performance at AT&T Park and away from it. The 21-year-old rookie is 0-2 with a 6.04 ERA in five home starts, compared to 5-2, 2.62 in seven road outings.
Esmil has been hot and cold this season.  Even against the Giants, he was battered early in the season, then shut them down in the long extra inning game we lost to them.  Bumgarner has been wildly inconsistent too, not pitching that well at home, though not as bad as intimated above, he has had good games and bad games.  

The good news for Giants fans is that Colorado does not hit has well against LHP as they do RHP.  And it was really just his last start at home that was so bad for Bumgarner, though it does bring up the concern that Bumgarner, having pitched more innings than ever before, might be tiring, but then again, it could just be that the Reds are a very good offensive team plus the weather in that series was abnormally hot, which made the park a launching pad similar to Coors in its heyday, according to the Giants announcers.

Given how well Bumgarner has pitched in general and how poorly Rogers has pitched, this should be a Giants win.  

Game 3:  Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Lincecum

D-Rox:  For the fourth straight start, Jimenez was denied what would be his big league-best 18th win of the year on Aug. 27, which would also break the franchise record for wins in a season. He's allowed 10 earned runs in his last 28 innings.
Giants:  Lincecum probably has never been so happy to see a month end. He lost all five of his August starts, posting a 7.82 ERA. He'll face Ubaldo Jimenez, to whom he lost, 4-0, on May 31. Lincecum's career record in August is 4-6 with a 3.70 ERA.
Ubaldo has returned to Earth, as expected, but Lincecum has pancaked on the ground, and until he shows otherwise, we'll have to assume bad Timmy is pitching.  It would have been a nice battle if Lincecum was up to his usual standards, but right now it looks like a D-Rox victory, particularly given that Ubaldo is pitching for them.

Giants Thoughts

Another tough series to win, it will be up to our starting pitching to man up and start performing up to the high standards they have set up for themselves.  We cannot afford a sweep at their hands, as that would allow them to tie our record.  So it is key that the Giants win one of the first two games in this series.

I don't know why so many Giants fans are running around like the sky is falling, though.  This is a good team with a good future, barring a series of catastrophic injuries to our pitching staff - not impossible, but with the number of good pitchers we have, that is insurance for any particular season.    I've enjoyed this season immensely.

But perhaps it's because I set up my expectations correctly, which I try to do every season.  Some seem to think "World Series or it is not worth it".  Well, good luck to them, but I would be in the loony bin if I were like that.  Others just hate Sabean and can see beyond their hatred to see how good a team the Giants have.  

This season is working out about what I was expecting overall, roughly on a low-90 win total, though I'll grant that the pitching has not done as well as I had hoped, but then again, the hitting has done better than expected, overall.  That's just part of the ups and downs of any MLB season.  I don't expect the playoffs, but with a low 90's win total, you usually make the playoffs.  

I see this season as another step in the maturation of the team.  I had hoped that they would have been more competitive and get it out of their system last season, but the thing is that many of these players are still young and get amped up when the situation gets amplified.  We have seen this, for example, all along in Lincecum's career, his first pro game, his first MLB start, his first season opener, etc., he gets amped up and pitches a terrible game.  It takes time and experience to get over that.

I also see that in how both Lincecum and Sandoval has done this season as well.  Both have been successful beyond hope and wish, and being young, felt that they could continue like that forever without taking care of their body, and conditioning it in preparation for the season.  And some never learn it, for example, Rowand finally got it this past off-season, but whereas others would do disciplined/organized gym work and the like, he rode his mountain bike for fitness, which would be great if he was riding a bike in the outfield.  

But I think Lincecum is finally seeing that he can't continue like he has been the past two seasons and still dominate hitters like he had previously, and he'll also won't have the distraction of the arbitration hearing either, so I expect him to return to normal next season.  I just hope that he doesn't do something to his arm/body this season that would hurt him for next season.  Sandoval hopefully will continue his workouts and diet control this off-season, without the distractions and temptations he was getting at home.  If he's in the San Diego area, maybe Zito and/or Wilson can clue him in on that personal chef service that helped them stay slim and fit.

So if the Giants don't make it, so be it, I felt that this would be a season with growing pains, as they adjust to success and the spotlight, as they get over their youth and immaturity.  I also saw it as a transition year as I was counting on Posey and Bumgarner to join the big club at some point, but not be the full-time contributors as we hope they would be in the future.  I'm glad that they were not brought up earlier, as many said that they should have been, I don't think either was ready, Bumgarner particularly, to start the season with us, plus this allows us to gain another full season control of them, in their prime, a key benefit that most of the "experts" who said the Giants were foolish, seem to forget about.  Seems like most people only care about today, right now, they don't look into the future and think strategically about that.  

However, I expect a lot more next season, they should be getting into the playoffs with no problem, and ideally winning the division.  I thought SD would be good, but not this good, and I think they were lucky in that Richard and LeBlanc have both been pitching much better than their performances in the minors would indicate.  I expect both to regress to the mean next season, which would hurt them greatly.  LA will be sliding further down with the divorce dragging them down.  It will the D-Rox who I expect to be competing, once again.


  1. What a horrible ending to a wonderfully pitched game by Sanchez! That has to be at least a top 20 worst loss I've witnessed in my 44 years as a Giants fan, maybe top 10.

    I agree, no matter the final outcome of this season, I see it as a positive, if for no other reason than the graduations of Posey and Bumgarner put them one step closer to a homegrown team.

    I'm afraid that we might have to wait out the contracts of Rowand and Zito to see the full impact of the Giants rebuild, but their farm system is still very good, especially down at the lower levels, so I expect a steady inflow of talent for years to come. Next in line? Belt and Neal.

  2. Yes, I know! I tweeted that I have not felt really bad about our chances to make the playoffs this season until this loss. I would agree with your assessment, I compared it to the Jose Cruz Jr. drop in the playoffs.

    I was thinking about that (the rebuild) myself, particularly about Rowand. I don't see how he makes next year's team, given how this one worked out. He's not going to be happy being the bench player for another two seasons, gamer or not. I was thinking of researching other "Alfonzo" contracts across the league to see who we could pick up, and I was thinking of focusing on a SS first.

    Because right now it looks like DeRosa presumably will be LF, Torres in CF, maybe Schierholtz in RF, or Belt in LF and DeRosa in RF. Rowand would be our 4th OF. Plus there is Burrell and whether they want him back.

    And it could be a package deal, of some sort, with Huff, I assume they will be able to work out a contract, so he probably ends up at 1B, but he could be swayed by where Burrell ends up, not sure yet.

    I don't see Zito as being a problem contract as long as he's pitching something like he has this season. This was all I was hoping to get from him, not league-beating stuff that matches his contract, though he was doing that in April.

    And with Wheeler's setback, it might work out. Wheeler will probably be put in Augusta again because he hasn't really shown anything, really, yet. Assume he moves up to San Jose by mid-season. That's 2011. AA in 2012, AAA in 2013, he's ready mid-season to end of 2013 season.

    Zito's contract ends in 2013, though he could conceivably vest his 2014 option. However, if he can continue pitching as well as he has this season, he should be tradeable (with money) for prospects by 2013, maybe even 2012, depending on how desperate the other team is. After all, the D-gers picks up Loaiza, doing the A's a big favor, and the Pirates took Morris's contract off our hands and books.

  3. If I had my druthers (i.e. ruled the universe), DeRosa would planned to be used as an oft-used super-utility guy in 2011 - that way if he has another relapse, it won't kill our lineup so badly. Plus, this would give regular rest to everyone, since he plays almost every position, instead of beating them to a pulp, then resting.

    1B I would start Ishikawa, but against LHP, Posey gets a "rest" and plays 1B. He's, of course, the catcher. Sanchez 2B. Sign Uribe to start at SS, but only one year plus team option, though if can trade Rowand for good field/no hit/high contract SS, I would do that instead. Uribe's offense should not be as needed in this lineup. Sandoval should be fine at 3B. Sign Burrell and Huff to play LF and RF, Torres start in CF, DeRosa and Schierholtz gets regular play as bench OF. AB's in OF can be opened by starting Huff at 1B sometimes as well when tough RHP.

    This leaves bringing up Belt mid-season as an option at 1B or LF, depending on how Burrell and Ishikawa is doing. Maybe 2010 is Burrell's last hurrah, performance-wise, he was pretty bad with the Rays.

  4. It's only one loss, but that loss didn't feel like the type of game any real playoff contender would have lost.

    Further more, Bruce Bochy left Cody Ross, a guy who just started playing RF in instead of subbing in Nate Schierholtz who plays a great RF in ATT. Bochy continues to be a mess of a manager.

    There's a month to go but I this team needs to build up a July-esque head of steam immediately or else it's another year of no playoffs and a great deal of decisions in the offseason as a lot of our players are older/up for new contracts

  5. There's no way they can go another year with Sandoval at 3B, especially if you go out and sign Uribe. The combination of those 2 on the same side just weakens the defense way too much. Sandoval has almost zero range and has to be moved to 1B, or traded.

    Assuming that they keep Sandoval, that would leave Huff (assuming they resign him) in LF. They should find a spot for Huff. I'm thinking more & more that it might be a good idea to look at Sandoval's trade value before he eats himself out of the league.

    If the worst thing happens (which it probably will) and they bring back Sabean, there's no way that Rowand does not make the team. He will never admit the mistake of signing him in the first place and has no chance of pawning him off on another team. I agree that he shouldn;t make the team, but it ain't happening as long as Sabean is at the helm.

  6. I have no problem with Sandoval at 3B. I think that he'll be better able to avoid temptation this off-season by saying here in the US than going home and getting his mom's home cooking. And to think that he'll get into shape after one fitness training session was probably not realistic, it's a lifelong habit that you have to work into.

    And you complain about his defense, but maybe you are suffering from a visual illusion due to his size, because according to UZR, his defense improved, and Baseball Projection's system has his defense improved as well, although BIS's system has him down a bit this season.

    In any case, he's either improved or just slightly below average defensively at 3B, by any of the major defensive statistics, which is not a significant reason to move him off 3B yet. Perhaps you are just too turned off by his fat, but I've seen him move gracefully to score at home a couple of times, so I'm a believer in the Panda.

    And speaking of Uribe, I was going by what I thought the Giants would probably do. I have no problem getting rid of Uribe. He has been horrible offensively the past two months, hopefully Renteria returning will boost our output from SS, particularly since Uribe has been in a position to drive in runs and been so crappy. I would be OK with the Giants pursuing a better option defensively there, particularly if that involves trading Rowand for one (though not sure if that is possible, and it is probably just wishful thinking, I know).

    I think you would regret trading Sandoval, a hitter like him is too rare to trade, one would have to be an idiot on par with what you think of Sabean to do a trade like that.

    I hope they bring back Sabean, and I don't see any reason for Neukom not to at this moment, barring a total collapse right now and they end up below .500 for the season. If anything, I can see Sabean getting another extension after the season, for a job well done.

    And if he were a person who wouldn't make a move to admit that they didn't make a mistake, they would have never DFAed Pierzynski, they would have kept him and tried to make things work out.

  7. Wow, hard to understate the importance of this game, both to our playoff hopes and to the hopeful return of the Lincecum we expect.

    I think Lincecum has been amping up because of the playoff chase. His failures are probably making him work that much harder, which amps him up even more. He eventually got over himself before, so I think he'll be back to his norm eventually, but this is learning he has to do before he can be the vet that we can rely on in pressure situations like this.

    People undervalue the value that a vet provides in times like this, but this is why it is good to have players/vets who can produce when the pressure is on. And not all vets produce (Rowand) and not all rookies not produce (Posey/Bumgarner), but generally that is true, more times than not.



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