Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 2010 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS: After the Bliss

It is all still sinking in.  The glory of it.  The joy of it!

While the game was going, I was anxiously nervous, but not worried, as I've been for a while now.  I had gotten used to the magic that the Giants would somehow win 2 of 3, and that the losses along the way were just part of the process, just as the wins were too.  So the losses did not bother me much, we still had the rest of the series or had already won that series.  And like that tired marathon racer, the Giants fell across the line and won the race to the NL West title.

So as Lincecum dueled with Lee, like a good novel, like a good thriller movie, I was anxious as the drama built up, pitch by pitch, inning by inning, until the 7th inning began.  First, of course, for this season, this playoffs, Cody Ross singles to get on firstbase.  Second, Uribe singles for runners on firstbase and secondbase, first time in the game that either team had a runner in scoring position.

Huff's Beautifully Placed Bunt

Then Huff, oh my gosh, Huff Daddy Rally Thong, our big hitter and RBI during the season, surprises the WORLD by dropping the most beautiful bunt, he almost got a hit with that, if not for a great play by Lee, but the more important thing is he did the job, he got the runners to second and third.  It wasn't surprising to hear that it was his first sacrifice bunt in the season, but not only that, it was his first sacrifice bunt in his MLB CAREER EVER!  You give the best bunters in the game today 10 good pitches to make as good a bunt and they probably couldn't do it 10 times, it was not that easy to do.

The more surprising thing is, and I heard this on KNBR radio, in early September (recall person saying Sept. 1), Bochy pulls Huff aside, said that he's not sure he'll ever call for it, but since Huff might be batting down in the order against a LHP, might give him the call to do it.  In an interview after the clinching game, Huff said that even if Bochy didn't order the bunt, he would have done it anyway.  And that bunt was masterfully done.

That epitomizes the Aubrey Huff that Giants fans have fallen in love with this season.  They said that he's pretty bad on defense, and he works his thong off so that he wasn't half bad.  The way Burrell was coming out for Schierholtz for most of the season, that was suppose to be the plan for Huff and Ishikawa, only Huff played defense well enough that Bochy did not do that in every game played.  I do not doubt that he worked hard to be able to drop that bunt.

Connection with 1962 World Series

I doubt I was the only one thinking of this, but when he dropped that bunt, I immediately thought of how Felipe Alou failed to bunt in a similar situation in 1962's World Series, and how that taught him a lesson in being prepared for anything, of knowing the fundamentals.  Felipe has talked of this moment often and the story was reported again for this World Series.  I'm sure Huff knows the story as well, and maybe that gave him added motivation to learn to bunt well.  Still, I think he would have done the work anyway (just like he would have bunted anyway), he's just that type of player.

Anyway, when Huff was successful at the bunt, I immediately thought of the connection with 1962 and how it was like we went back in time to redo the moment and this time the batter was successful bunting instead of failing, and it seemed like something was going to happen.

Burrell would have made the story great, I thought, took out because he wasn't hitting and especially because he was striking out all the time.  Unfortunately, he could not deliver, though he battled Lee for so many pitches  that I thought he was going to get to lee, he struck out - again.  Then Edgar Renteria strode to the plate...

Renteria 3-Run Blast:  It is Gaaawwwn!

I'll never forget Dave Flemming's classic call on that homer.  The emotion in his voice makes me weepy now, hearing it again.  I was screaming my head off, fist pumping, giving off random yells for the next few minutes.  I couldn't believe it, the Giants led 3-0, and we only needed 9 more outs.

Renteria had apparently jokingly told other players (such as Torres) that he was going to hit one out before the game, so he proved prophetic nonetheless.  He said that Burrell's AB was critical because it allowed him to see a bunch of Lee's pitches and he decided to focus on Lee's cutter to swing at.  His swing was a thing of beauty, and the ball just looked so good coming off the bat too.  And he got enough of it that it went over the fence.

Timmy made me nervous with his 7th, but he calmed down (he admitted he was a bit amped by the homer), and shut the Rangers down the rest of the way in the 7th and 8th.  At only 106 pitches, he probably would normally be given the chance to close it down.  As some said, he earned that honor, but this is why I've been so supportive of Bochy during the playoffs, he played it to win, and to do that, you go all in with your closer, who is fresh and pretty much shut down lately.  People forget, too, that Lincecum is only human, and he and the other starters are going far beyond the IP he had done previously.  Some of them were running on fumes.

Pandamonium

Wilson, as he has in the latter part of the season, shut down the Rangers in order, none of the drama people are used to in his prior incarnation.  Somewhere, in the latter part of the season, it just clicked for him.  Wish I knew when the Beard started up, but he suddenly just started becoming The Machine, getting outs without a lot of the drama that giving up runners generates.  Nen-like, even.

I was shopping with my wife and daughter (she's going on a Girl Scout backpacking outing and need equipment), so I brought my portable radio so that I could listen while shopping, but it failed me in the Target store, missing the drama (luckily) but held in suspense, because Timmy had just gave up the homer and was in the process of walking Kinsler.

But as fate would have it, the next store was Costco, and as we stroke into the store, the game was being played on one of their big screen TVs, and the bottom of the 9th was starting, so I stayed and watched to the clinching strikeout of Nelson Cruz.  I gave out a yelp, among the people who were suddenly my friends, and hugged my daughter, who stayed and watched with me while my wife was away.

It was so great getting to see that joyous celebration and not just listen to it.  I wish Fox would have followed it live, it was neat that they repeated the scene, over and over again, from seemingly each of the cameras they had operating at the game, but after a while, I just really wanted to see the live celebration, but then they cut to a commercial and reality returned and I had to go shopping.

Giants Random Thoughts

I have been reveling in the joy that I'm experiencing now that my Giants are World Series Champions.  I've been reading articles and watching videos, and my reaction to the win was actually pretty understated.  I was so pumped by Renteria's homer, I was screaming and yelling for a while, but as the game wound down, the win seemed anti-climatic somehow.  But I would now be reading or watching, and something would hit me randomly, and I would get all weepy with joy.  I expect this to last a while.

This was a team effort.  That was clear by the new hero every night, and yet certain names would continually pop up:  Torres, Sanchez, Huff, Posey, Burrell, Ross, Uribe, and now Renteria.   And, of course, the pitching staff epitomizes the team concept, each pitcher can only take care of what they can, then let another pitcher try to do the same, and win.  Having a Tim Lincecum is great (Cliff Lee), but how much better is it having Matt Cain (Colby Lewis), and then there is Jonathan Sanchez (CJ Wilson), and then the coup de grace, we also have Madison Bumgarner (no answer).  Then you have the bullpen, because no starter finishes all their games now, Cainer had 4 and people are amazed.  And THEN you have BWills, Fear the Beard, The Machine, and he shut down the opposition.

This team reminded me of the 1990 Reds, a team that didn't have any superstars, had a lot of players who had career years that you couldn't expect to do ever again.  Of course, we do have Timmy, 2-time Cy Young winner, but he had a down season (for him) in 2010.  This thought came to me during the end of the season, and it still seems like it is something that still fits, now that they won.

Off-Season:  Sign 'em Up!

Now comes the hard work of figuring out who stays and who goes, plus who wants to go.  Huff is probably the number one priority and I just don't see him not signing with the Giants.  He "only" got a 2-year, $16M contract in his last big contract, and he was three years younger.  I don't see how he doesn't sign a 2-year, $12M contract like Franchez and DeRosa did.

Number two is Cody Ross, and the Giants control him for one more year of arbitration, so it should be easy to get him on board.  I don't see him going to arb, the Giants are usually fair, and he is like Cinderella, with the pumpkin ride and dancing with royalty now, he will want to be here.  He made around $4.5M in the 2010 season and reports had him at $6M for arb in 2011.  But with his down year in 2010, I think somewhere in the $5M range is probably what he gets.  The team needs power and he can provide it, I see him being like the Jeff Kent acquisition, not that he's as good, but he has shown power before and should be able to deliver it for us in RF in 2011.

Number three is Pat Burrell.  He has already said that he's willing to come back as a bench player in 2011.  I don't see him changing his mind, though the Giants might have other plans for him eventually and start him again.  And if he's willing to be a bench player, that means he's only looking for $1-2M in salary.  He should be a slamdunk.

However, I'm not sure how this works in the outfield.  It actually works best if Burrell is on the bench, as the Giants will have Torres, Ross, Rowand, and Schierholtz battling for the starting spots.  Nate could be odd man out or maybe in a platoon with Rowand, perhaps.  Then there is 1B and if the Giants go with Ishikawa at 1B, then Huff would be in the OF for sure.  Lots of decisions to be made.

Shortstop is another area.  Renteria is certainly not getting his option picked up.  He might be good as a utility MI for $1-2M, but I doubt he would want to do that, he has his money, he has his business ventures, he'll probably want to retire up on top, and move on to the businesses he wants to do.  Uribe is probably going to be offered more by another team than the Giants are willing (able?) to pay.

The Giants could go with Brandon Crawford, as his D has gotten rave reviews, while his O hasn't, as a lineup with Torres, Sanchez, Huff, Posey, Ross, Burrell, Sandoval, SS is actually pretty good, particularly if Sandoval started hitting like Pandoval again.  That would save money as well as give a prospect a chance to start.  There is also Emmanuel Burriss as well, though most had him pegged as a 2B in the majors.

The pitching rotation, as I noted in a prior post, is set for years.  The bullpen is pretty much set for 2011, with the only probable change being Mota being let go as a free agent, as the Giants still have Chris Ray from the Molina trade and still control his contract, I think he's up for arb.

It was also announced that Dan Runzler will be tried at starting pitcher for 2011, so he's out of the bullpen now and will be the emergency starter in training in 2011, as the Giants traded away Pucetas and Martinez and don't really have anyone high in the system who might be able to step in, just in case of injury.

Re-Peat?  Three-Peat?  Quad-Peat?

So most of the Giants keys to the playoffs should be back next season, and there are a lot of situations that suggest improvement.  The Giants were winning at over a 2 of 3 pace after Posey took over, for half a season and into the playoffs.  He'll be starting all season in 2011. Sandoval should be back to normal now that his personal travails are over.  We'll have Torres for a full season too.  Probably Burrell too.  Bumgarner definitely, and a newly mature Jonathan Sanchez will be dealing for more of the season than he was in 2010, when he seemed up and down until September and DeRosa gave him that tip.  Lopez and Ramirez all season, plus Affeldt look like his old self by the end of the season, if he can approach his 2009 form, that would be a great addition.  I think Ray can be helpful in the setup situation as well.  And, of course, Cody Ross all season.  There is no reason right now to think that 2011 couldn't be a similar season.

Now that the Giants got their first World Series championship, now I want more.  I think we have the base core of players who can lead us to multiple trip to the big show during the 2010's, as I've been writing here for a while.  With our pitching, we should be able to seal the deal at least another time or maybe two.  The A's and their fans have been flaunting their championships for many years now, and we need three more to catch up, four to pass.  Of course, most of them happened 40 years ago and the last one 20 years ago, so they are like the Raiders, living on former glories.  Maybe they'll have better luck in San Jose.  In any case, I think we can come closer but that's a tall order to catch up and to pass.  Nonetheless:  Go Giants!

10 comments:

  1. Martin,
    Thanks for being here the last couple of years. This is where I came when I was tired of reading and hearing everywhere else how stupid Sabean and Bochy were. This was the one blog that consistently preached that not only were we rebuilding, but we were rebuilding something incredible. It took time for the young pitching to grow up and become the best staff in baseball. And when the rest of the Giants fan base was willing to trade Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner, or even Lincecum, this blog always preached patience because something special was coming. Man does it feel good.

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  2. Hey Bobo, you're welcome. Thank you for the comment and the compliment, I appreciate it. Yes, don't it feel soooo goood!

    The reason you came here is why I created this blog and continue to write: I have an obsession for having the right expectations for any situation. That requires good analysis and I wasn't seeing a lot of that out there, else I wouldn't have started this. I still don't see anything that I would be happy to stop blogging and to read instead.

    And it is not just a matter of them agreeing with me. Part of good analysis is not being biased towards one answer or another, of being willing to change your opinion based on the analysis. But as you noted most were biased against, they were blindly angry about one thing or another, but ignoring the big picture.

    And I understand their position too. I was there too until I did my analysis and it got me to see the light, at least for the draft.

    The general public has not caught on yet, heck, sabers haven't either, that great pitching trumps great hitting, period. I have been trying to demonstrate and illustrate this with my work on PQS.

    Lincecum rarely has a game where he blows up, and that enables him to beat more aces than he loses to. Cain, as I noted, has pushed to that elite status this season as well. And Bumgarner looks like he'll be joining them soon. That is a function of having a high DOM% and that multiples with having a low DIS%. This means that most starts will be low scoring games.

    Throw in a Sanchez who can dominate a fair amount of the time, and you have what I've been calling the Giants Gauntlet: LCSB.

    We have gotten a preview of how well the five of them function as a unit from their work in September and October: just wait until next season, when we get a full season of it. And just imagine, Posey couldn't possibly know it all already, could he? If not, he should improve in his handling of the pitchers too.

    I'll be writing on this soon, but look at what they did in the playoffs. They continued to keep the other team from scoring more than 3 runs.

    And as I've been capturing on the side of my blog, the pitching "wins" when it keeps the other team from more than 3 runs. They did it again in the World Series, three games where they kept the Rangers from scoring more than 2 runs, all of which the Giants won. And I have no doubt if they just went ahead and continued playing games 6 and 7, they probably would have won another game by keeping the scoring low.

    Yea Giants!

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  3. I just noticed in the news that the D-backs declined their option on Adam LaRoche.

    I can't imagine what he must be feeling right now. He blinked on the Giants 3 year $21M deal and ended up taking less money to be with D-backs. And now the Giants won the World Series and he's been released.

    Of course, if he were our 1B, there is no guarantee that the Giants would have won the World Series necessarily. Huff did have some key hits for us in the playoffs. And, of course, we would have never learned the wonders of the Rally Thong (in interview, he says he's not sure about 2011; this started as a joke and then grew a life of its own).

    Good luck, Adam, hope you enjoyed hitting in a hitters park, as that is what you said in an interview is part of the reason why you turned down what you thought was the Giants initial offer (he was waiting for a counter-offer when he learned that the Giants signed Huff).

    If his agent had any experience in dealing with Sabean, it is that Sabean don't like being played by someone in negotiations. Clearly he was being played if the "better" alternative for LaRoche was a much lesser contract with Arizona.

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  4. Speaking of being played, Molina recently opined that had he known that Sabean signed him with the intention of trading him mid-season (something Sabean said he did when being interviewed for the World Series), he would have never signed with the Giants.

    I don't see what his problem is. Had he not signed, he probably would have ended up with the Mets, a losing team despite the hot hitting catcher they eventually signed, and he probably would have been traded mid-season then, and perhaps not to the Rangers, he could have ended up with no share of the World Series, instead of the two that he is expecting to get now, that money more than makes up the difference in money between what he was looking for and what he eventually got.

    All he had to do is look at the Giants statements and how the Orioles handled the same situation (they signed catcher and replaced him mid-season via trade with Weiters), and he would have seen this was possibly coming, unless, of course, the Giants promised him he would stay, but if they had, he would be calling them a liar now.

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  5. I'm extremely pumped, I've had a hangover all day and it hasn't bothered me at all. Last night was magic, and you definitely predicted that special things were coming, however the only thing I can focus on in this whole article is that YOU WERE SHOPPING DURING THE CLINCHER?!?! How were you not planted in front of a tv sweating every pitch like the rest of us?!?!

    You should try to catch a replay of the game on the MLB network, it was a great game. Lincecum was absolutely dialed in the entire game, and the renteria inning was amazing.

    The best part of this team is that it should be the first of many, our staff is going to be a force to be reckoned with in playoff contention for years to come. I sort of hope they don't expand the playoffs as of now, the less innings on our arms the better. I can't imagine how tired starters would be if you threw in an additional round of play come the World Series.

    None of that really matters as of now though, today the giants are everywhere and life is great! GO GIANTS!

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  6. As early as the second inning, I looked at my family, knocked on a wood bookcase, and said, "Timmy is on fire." After watching Timmy for the last several years, you can just tell. I was about 90% sure that Cliff Lee was the one who would crack first.

    As for Wilson, my own opinion is that he got a lot better soon after Buster started catching him and as Buster has settled in and become more familiar with what Wilson can do, it's gotten even better. Buster calls better pitches and sets better targets than Bengie did.

    Specifically, Bengie used to set up for the outside corner OUTSIDE the strike zone while Buster sets up even with the corner making it easier for Wilson to hit the corner and to get it called a strike. Buster also is much more willing to play "climb the ladder" than Bengie, which I think is a great strategy for Wilson's stuff.

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  7. Thanks for the comment DrB! I wasn't sure about Timmy in the first, as he didn't strike anyone out, but once he started mowing them down, that's when I knew he was on fire.

    Like you, I expected Lee to crack first. Guys were hitting all sorts of line drives off of him from the very beginning, only right at people. That gave me hope that he would crack first, but like you, wasn't certain, he could after all just have one of those games where the baseball gods direct all the balls to fielders.

    Excellent observation on Wilson! I should have thought of that! I definitely credited (like all of us) Posey with improved handling of the starting pitching, given their great run in September, but yeah, you hit the nail on the head, Posey just handled Wilson, as well as the other pitchers, much better than Molina ever did.

    Per your observation of Bengie, one would think one of his two brothers, who are much better than their big brother is at catching, would have seen this quirk of his and note it. Both Yadier and Jose (who I was hoping the Giants would sign to pair up with Posey) were rated much better catchers than Bengie in handling pitchers (in terms of reduced ERA and equivalent runs/wins) in a off-the-cuff study by the Fielding Bible's author (Bengie was still one of the best in the study period, just not as great). Just can't imagine that two gold glove caliber catchers couldn't catch that and give big brother a help.

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  8. My favorite TV graphic: Cody Ross's rodeo clown twirl on the way to home plate when Edgar hit that dinger.

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  9. Thanks for the tip, Jim, I will have to check that out again, I've been randoming replaying all the key events for that game on sfgiants.com, anybody been doing that?

    I've also been recording all the calls that I can on my phone. I'm still looking for a clean version of Kuiper's ending call, the MLB cut out his 52 year statement, the others added background music...

    Got good ones of Fleming's HR call, though.

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  10. Sorry Kevin, somehow missed your comment, thanks for your comment.

    I don't have TV, a concession to owning a house I probably shouldn't be owning. Else, yeah, I probably would have promised anything to my wife to be able to watch the game. We are just too far south of the TV broadcast antennae to receive their signal; I was so mad when NBC-11 abandoned the south bay, I was relying on them for a long while.

    So I can't see it on MLB network. I recall someone somewhere mentioning that the game is on iTunes. If it is, I plan on buying it so that I can replay it anytime on my iPod.

    Yeah, Lincecum, after a shaky first, seemed like the Timmy we love and root for.

    Yeah, tireness is a problem, but with five quality starters (and yes, I include Zito in there; he's just not as quality as the rest), we can mix and match as necessary depending on each pitcher's tiredness. And given how well Cain and Bumgarner pitched, I would be OK with pushing Lincecum back and letting them go first, as needed.

    Plus, that gives the team incentive not to settle for the wild card, just win the division title, that's all. :^)

    ReplyDelete

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