Monday, November 01, 2010

Your 2010 Giants are 3-1 in World Series: No Leeway for Rangers Please

Bumgarner-Posey:  What is a battery for the Giants for the next six seasons?

And to think some Giants fans howled about how the Giants should have brought both of them up earlier, or even to start the season, but by keeping them in the minors, it not only allowed them to figure out how to improve themselves, it allows the Giants to control them for the next six seasons instead of the next five.  Together, they have put the Giants at the brink of finally winning a World Series in San Francisco.

Wow, what a game for Bumgarner!  He did it with a curveball that he was working on in spring training.  He did it with a 94 MPH fastball that was AWOL in spring training (many had written him off as an elite prospect, dropping him down in the prospect ranks).  He shut out a potent Rangers offense, particularly at home, who were only shut out at home once during the regular season, on August 28th, by A's Dallas Braden.  And he only turned 21 recently, he is the second-youngest pitcher in World Series history with at least eight shutout innings and the fourth youngest to win a World Series game, and the FIRST rookie in World Series history to throw eight shutout innings (got that from Baggarly's report on the game).  Fifth youngest pitcher to ever start a World Series game and the youngest since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981, and he had 22 first-pitch strikes in 28 batters.  Also, according to this MLB article:
"Bumgarner's eight scoreless innings made him the youngest rookie pitcher (21 years old, 91 days) in World Series history to make a scoreless start of six innings or more, and overall, he is only the seventh rookie to make a start of that kind -- the first since Les Straker pitched six scoreless innings in Game 3 of the 1987 World Series for the Minnesota Twins at the age of 28."
Moreover, he struck out VLAD THE IMPALER Guerrero, the guy the Rangers wanted in their lineup so much against the Giants that they stuck him out in RF in game 1 to get his offense in there, three times, and the only other time in his career that Vlad struck out three times vs. a left-handed starting pitcher in regular season was against Al Leiter on June 16, 1998, in other words, not even once in a blue moon, once every dozen years!  Keith Law tweeted that he loved seeing MadBum throw breaking ball for strikes, noting that left-handers who can do that will work for a long, long time in the MLB.

In post-game interview, he noted that he used his changeup a lot more than he usually does.  I think that is a sign of Posey trying to change up Bumgarner's repertoire in order to counter Molina's knowledge of Bumgarner.  And thus he probably has been doing that this whole series.  So far, so good.

And Posey, man, what a home run!  I knew it was a deep fly, but it didn't seem like it would go out, but it just kept going and going and going, and then before you knew it, it was out of here, almost dead centerfield, thanks to one of his "patented backspin shots" (quote from Baggarly's column).  He became the youngest catcher to hit a homer in the World Series since Johnny Bench in 1970.  While the game was pretty much in hand by that point, that was still an important run, 4-0 is a pretty sizable lead, 3-0 is only two bloop hits or walks away from the tying run coming up to the plate.

Baggarly reported that Bumgarner-Posey became the first all-rookie battery to start a World Series game since Spec Shea and Yogi Berra for the Yankees in the 1947 World Series.  "With the young pitching this team has and Buster behind the plate, this team has a chance to do something special for quite some time," said Huff.

And what about the Huff Papi?  He and his red thong went red-ass on a pitch from Hunter and he hit it deep in the heart of Texas, where the red-necks roam, for a 2-0 lead that proved enough for Bumgarner and the Giants to win with.  The red thong is now 30-14, a .682 winning percentage, which over a whole season would result in 110 wins.  He finally hit his first post-season homer (and thus also first World Series homer; great timing!) and he did it in the park/city that he roamed when he was a kid growing up in Texas and idolizing Nolan Ryan (he went to games at the old and new parks).  And he got all of that pitch, it was a no-doubter.

Got to give Renteria some love for his play during the playoffs and especially during the World Series, he's even gotten an article too.  From the way he's been playing, it is like he's found the Fountain of Youth somewhere;  Krukow said that it was from the adrenaline of playing in the playoffs, that has given Renteria a boost.  If the Giants do seal the deal and win the World Series, to me, Renteria would have earned his entire $18.5M with his play and veteran leadership during these playoffs, including his hitting in the World Series and his simple tip to Cody Ross about what he was doing wrong at the plate, which is a reason for Ross's hot hitting during the playoffs (had his 10 playoff game hitting streak ended yesterday; I think 11 is the record, from what I recall from the TV broadcast of the game).

Also have to mention Andres Torres 3-hit game as well, which led to two runs:  one he scored on Huff's homer, the other when he drove in Renteria.  He has finally either recovered from his surgery and/or nerves from playing in his first MLB playoffs, and in any case, has been an offensive catalyst up top the lineup.  He, along with Franchez, Huff, Ross, and Renteria have been providing enough offense to get the Giants to the precipice of their first World Series championship.


Lastly, the Giants are only the third team in MLB history to pitch 4 shutouts in one postseason, including one other historic Giants team and one influenced by current Giants:  Christy Mathewson-led 1905 NY Giants and the 1998 Yankees, which had key players scouted and drafted/signed by Brian Sabean when he worked for the Yankees.

I'll end with a quote of Brian Sabean (captured aptly by Andy Baggarly, who ended with this), when asked for perspective on Bumgarner's performance:  "Can't.  I have a lump in my throat. I can't even talk, that was so amazing."  Amen to that, amen to that.

Game 5:  Lee vs. Lincecum

I've covered this for Game 1:  two great pitchers, mano-a-mano.  Neither pitched particularly that well in that start, though at least Lincecum calmed down enough to pitch effectively enough.  This game should be the game everyone expected in Game 1, a tight pitchers' duel.  Lee should be good because he don't usually have two lousy games in a row.  

Lincecum for much the same reason, but also because he's usually suffered from nerves whenever the game was important for some reason, like first game of season, etc., though he was great for his first start of the playoffs, but there was not a lot of pressure for that, 0-0 for first game.  This being his second World Series start, I expect his mind to be more locked down, though nerves might still creep in the early innings, as it is still, after all, the World Series.  But he should also be pitching much better too, and may the best man win.  

Giants Thoughts

I'm thinking that Bochy will keep the same lineup, except that he has said that Burrell would start in LF in Game 5, so Schierholtz would be out.  

I was so impressed that Bochy went with both Schierholtz and Ishikawa to start Game 4.  Gutsy call on two reserves who haven't started in ages.  Though they did not do anything offensively, Ishikawa looked good around 1B and Schierholtz being in RF meant that Ross was in LF, and he got to a lot of balls that Burrell either wouldn't or would have had trouble with or getting to.  

That was the right call yesterday.  Hunter had not pitched well all through the playoffs.  He didn't last past the 5th in any game.  Offense should happen with or without Schierholtz and Ishikawa, giving the Giants the advantage since we had Bumgarner going for us.  However, if the defense gives anything to the Rangers, they might be able to create runs and negate that advantage.  So Bochy relied on his starting pitchers and fielding defense to keep the Ranger's scoring down, while the Giants offense takes care of Hunter enough to win the game.

The Giants only need to win one of the next three games to win the World Series;  the Rangers must win them all to win the World Series.  The Giants haven't lost three in a row since late August, and by the same team since early August (D-gers).  Only 6 teams out of 44 have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series, the last one being the KC Royals in 1985.  So the odds look pretty good for the Giants (though, still, roughly 15% of teams have come back from 3-1 deficit).

However, as Cain noted, "But there's 27 outs, and that's a lot of baseball left."  That's a theme repeated over and over again by any of the Giants interviewed before or after each game, about how they take nothing for granted, sure, they are in great position, but the Rangers are a good team (else they wouldn't be here too) and they approach each game as if the other team was ahead, and not the other way around.  I am gratified and heartened to hear them talk this way, as you never know until you seal the deal and win the four games you need.  They are taking nothing for granted, something Bumgarner noted in an interview, because you never know if you will ever be in this position again.

According to reports, Bochy has not discussed changing his pitching plans regarding Sanchez in Game 7 yet, despite Righetti's concerns over Sanchez's reduced velocity.  And pooh-poohed the thought of bringing in Zito for an injured Sanchez, noting that Jonathan isn't injured or receiving any treatment.  And any injury replacement would have to be approved by the league officials.  

2010's:  The Decade of the Giants
"With the young pitching this team has and Buster behind the plate, this team has a chance to do something special for quite some time," said Huff.  
I've been saying this for a couple of years now:  this will be the decade known for the Giants.  I was sure of that then, I'm surer of it now.  I've said this because I think that they will be in the playoffs nearly every season and making a number of World Series with the core that they have.  I thought it would be pushing it to say that they would make it this season, so they are ahead of the schedule that I had envisioned, but, you know, I'm OK with that.  :^)  

Look at who we have control over and to when, all at minimum because the Giants could always sign them to extensions for more years:
  • Lincecum:  2013
  • Cain:  2012
  • Sanchez:  2013
  • Bumgarner:  2016
  • Wilson:  2013
  • Posey:  2016
  • Sandoval:  2014
With pitching like that - and more playoff experienced too - the Giants should be dominating great MLB hitters and lineups for years to come.  I have no doubt that the Giants will eventually sign Lincecum and Cain to contracts that extend into at least to 2015, Wilson probably, Sanchez maybe too if they got enough money:  Rowand's $12M off books in 2013, Zito's $20M off in 2014, Renteria's $10M off in 2011, DeRosa and Franchez $6M in 2012, Huff probably re-signed to $6M for 2011 and 2012, Burrell says he's willing to come back as bench player in 2011, maybe re-sign Uribe too, or go with young SS, Brandon Crawford, whose bat is suspect, but his defense is suppose to be pretty good. Heck, I would be OK signing Renteria to $1M to be MI-utility off the bench, but he would probably pass on that, he was already thinking of retirement and going into business.

Before the season, one thought was that the Giants would ideally acquire Carl Crawford as a free agent this off-season to become our lead-off hitter and offensive sparkplug.  I haven't gone through the numbers, but while it would be great to have him as our starting LF, I'm worried that the big contract he would demand and get might make it hard to keep our core together in the mid-2010's unless there is a plan for the Giants to acquire additional investments.  Plus, the emergence of Andres Torres make that need less acute.

As I noted above, the Giants have been 30-14 with the red thong, a .681 pace that would result in a 110 win season if continued.  While that seems like a lot to hope for in 2011 and would be a pace that maybe one team in any decade could achieve, that winning percentage was actually a SLOWING of the Giants pace of winning during the Posey era.  From the time Molina was traded on July 1st and Posey took his first start as the Giants starting catcher, the team has gone 52-23 (and that includes them losing his first game as starting catcher), a .693 winning percentage, which over a full season would result in a 112 win season.  

While I would never predict such a win total for any particular season, it would not surprise me if they did it at some point in the 2010's nor that they did it multiple times.  We will have both Bumgarner and Posey for a full season going forward, plus both should be able to push up their production over time as they mature and develop and become more experienced.  Jonathan Sanchez too should be even more consistent.  Lincecum too, I think he'll revert back to his Cy Young winning form of the past two seasons going forward.  And I truly believe that Sandoval will revert to his 2009 form once his personal problems become less onerous (divorce, child custody, mother's near-death).

Of course, injuries could put a huge hamper on this.  That's why the Giants need to keep all the pitchers, because if one goes down, you will have the three plus Zito and then you bring up someone or hire a rental.  Having three great starters is still a great situation to be in, hence why you don't go trading them away.  

Giants Gauntlet

It will be the Giants Gauntlet of Lincecum, Zito, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner for the next few years.  Zito would be the weak link, but he could be the #2 starter for any number of teams, who would be happy to have him.  Just like there are lineups where there is no rest for the pitcher, our rotation will provide no rest for opposing hitters, no obvious weakness where the other team could hope to bash against.  Oh, you avoided twice-Cy Young winner Lincecum, oops, you get to face Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner.  You miss Cain?  BAM, see how you like Sanchez, Bumgarner, Lincecum.  And the way Bumgarner is growing and developing, teams might soon be happy that they missed him and got Lincecum, Zito, Cain.

Showing how rare this is, the Giants playoff rotation of Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner is the first since the 1986 Red Sox.  And we should have them for years together.  And they should only get better as a group.

This is the rotation I've been talking about for years now, people would ask me when the Giants should trade a pitcher and while I'm not against trading any of our starters, just on the principle that there ARE offers that you can't refuse, I don't expect to trade any of them because I doubt any team would give me what I would want in return for them.  People have been undervaluing Cain and Sanchez for years, but hopefully this glorious gallop towards the World Series championship over the past two months has shown the value of keeping both of them on our team, and how any of the players contemplated as equal value for them (Alex Rios, Prince Fielder, Jorge Cantu, Cory Hart) were not really.

With a pitching rotation like this, the offense does not have to do much in order for the team to win the 90-95 games necessary to win the NL West division each season.  People don't realize how powerful an advantage it is to have pitchers like this on your staff.  Huge advantage.  That is why you don't want to trade any of them, while it might be tempting to do so to boost your offense, by trading, you just made your pitching that much worse, so all you are hoping to do is break even in the trade, and if the player you trade for declines (see Prince Fielder in 2010 after many wanted to trade Cain for him in 2009), then your team declines along with him.

I don't see any being traded unless we couldn't afford them (Neukom:  work on that!!!  Or maybe the A's can help with that in exchange for South Bay rights) or if they don't want to sign extensions with us at a fair salary.  I don't see the latter happening, the players all seem to love playing for the Giants.  

But should that happen, hopefully Sabean will trade him before his last contract year and get us some great prospects, meanwhile, hopefully we will be able to bring up Zach Wheeler, or maybe Eric Surkamp, and any of the nice pitchers we picked up in the 2011 draft who look interesting at the moment.  

With the team looking good as perennial pennant contenders, we'll be having lousy first round draft picks for a long time, so the only way to pick up good prospects would be trading a young stud pitcher under some control to a team needing that one great starter.  I use the Haren example of what the Giants should shoot for, that was a great package of quality and quantity.  That would be the catalyst for continuing being successful in the second half of the 2010's, plus a key free agent signing here and there.

Which brings me back to Carl Crawford.  It is rare when you can sign such a great player at a young age.  He'll only be 29 next season.  He would be an improvement over Torres at leadoff because he can steal so many bases, and would allow us to field lineup of Crawford, Franchez, Torres, Huff, Posey (or Posey, Huff vs. LHP), Ross, Sandoval, plus SS (which would probably allow us to start Brandon Crawford at SS).  If Neukom can make the money work so that we still can keep our starting pitchers into the mid-2010's, then I would be happy with that.  

1 comment:

  1. OGC,

    Dude! They did it! The San Francisco Giants won the World Series. I've never been able to say that before tonight and it feels great!!

    Dr B

    ReplyDelete

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