Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Optimism: In the Eye of the Beholder

Many commenters have called me optimistic over the years.  When I was a frequent contributor at McCovey Chronicles (until I was driven away by the Naysayers), there was a regular (who I think is a mod, bad memory but I think his handle was Goofus), who would ask "I need to hear something good about the Giants:  ogc?"  (and he meant it in the nicest way possible)  I've been called Pollyanna for my efforts as well.

I can see why people see me that way, but I've been blessed/cursed with the ability/need to see all the sides of the story, no matter the situation.  And that helped me survive my dad passing away when I was young and has served me well all my life.  But the curse is that some view me as wishy-washy because of that.

However, I can live with the messiness that is life, there is the good, the bad, and the ugly, this is not something others with OCD tendencies can do.  For those with long memories, I view myself much like Marvel Comic's character, the Watcher, in observing the Giants (except that I'm rooting for the Giants, while the Watcher is stoic).

What this reminds me of is a common conundrum in business investing.  Sometimes, the key difference between whether one person/company invests while another avoids is because where one sees risk, the other sees opportunity.  It is not necessarily a matter of risk tolerance either, though that is a huge factor in a lot of situations, but there are cases where success and failure swings clearly on the point of view of the observer, their perspective of the situation.

Lets take the Giants, for example, since this is a Giants blog :^).  I have been seeing a lot of negative talk in the media.  And I understand that, the Giants are in a bad stretch of losing right now, and to teams they should to beating.  I could point out names but really, most of the Giants media are beating the negative drum.  Same for Giants fans, but that seems to go without saying, unfortunately.

Again, I understand that.  It's never good to be losing 17 out of 24 games.  To lose games that you should be winning.  To watch good pitchers suddenly lose it and cost us the game.  To watch hitters not produce.  I get that.

But I've also been following baseball for 40 years now (whew, just realized that!).  Plus, I love history, so I've read about (and perused through a lot of baseball pennant chases and epic successes and fails on the playoff front, like the Boston Braves in 1914 or the 1964 Phillies, or more recently, the Rockies with their late season drives or the Padres last season.  So I've both seen a lot plus know a lot.

Two games behind is nothing.  A lead like that can disappear in two days.  We know it and we've seen it (like last season for the Giants or really any season, any team).

We've also seen teams go from good to bad to good again.   We know it and we've seen it (like last season for the Giants or really any season, any team).

Lots of Giants fans see "losing, losing, and more losing" and they lose their heads and say the sky is falling.  I've seen it many times over the years, I've seen it last year and this year.  They have a terrible angst about losing, from June Swoons to worries about the offense, "the bad son", while the pitching, "the good son", is totally ignored.

Great Pitching Makes Winning Easier

We have a lot of great pitching.  Maybe they are tired from the long extended run in 2010.  Probably not, at least overall, as my data showed about how the pitching is doing in August.  They certainly have been more inconsistent than they have been this season, but then again, they were very insistent last season as well, until they righted the ship and dominated in September and October.  Doesn't mean it will happen now, but they are great pitchers and have accomplished a lot, including their streak of 18 straight games with 3 runs or less given up, 23 straight games with 4 runs or less given up, that they did in September of last season.

That's not optimism.  That's a fact:  we have great pitching.  Great pitching keeps us in a lot of games.  Sure, they will cough up games like they did yesterday, or when BWeez blew his save.  But more often than not, they have done the job for us.  Plus, the better the pitchers, the less the offense has to do in order to win.

Doesn't mean that they will do it for us this month or this season, I totally agree.  But it won't stop me from enjoying these games in September.  Baseball is meant to be enjoyed.  Else why get so passionate about it?

Media:  Nattering Nabobs of Negativism

I think the media is at fault for at least part of that.  That seems to be how the media operates, I've learned.  Whether the stock market (with the quarter to quarter obsession that investors generally have) or baseball, where all they can write about is the here and now negativeness.

Honestly, I find that to be very knee-jerk reactionary.  I hate the swings from the highs to the lows - unless it is warranted.  But I saw that a lot in investing, a stock with no news at all could lose or gain 10 percent in a short period of time, just because people were nervous or not.

It could be bad news about the economy.

Followed by good news.

Followed by bad news.

Followed by good news.

One could get whiplash following all that.  I see the similarities in baseball.

It is all about "what are you doing now".  Bad quarterly earnings report?  Totally negative investor vibe and stock losses.  Bad losing streak?  Total negative fan vibe, lots of bitching and moaning.

Even Keel

If you are like that, my blog is not for you.  I try to steer an even keel, but will be positive when warranted, negative when warranted.

An optimist, to me, is someone who thinks positively about the situation without considering the negatives.  That is the heart of the definition of optimist: a person disposed to take a favorable view of things."  I don't view myself that way.

If I were a doctor, I would be a horrible doctor in that I would tell people when there is no hope.  I see no gain from sugar-coating the reality.  My bluntness has been softened by years of socializing, but that's where my brain goes to first.

I present the positives mainly because the negatives are all out there and part of my assumption is that my readers know all about the negatives there, that they are savvy enough fans who do not need me to hold their hand, that they are looking for that extra edge in understanding the Giants chances for making the playoffs.

If there were relentless optimism out there, I would point out the negatives, like, we only have 4 healthy starters right now, Wilson might not get healthy anytime this season, Beltran too, someone has noticed Pablo getting fatter, we have no reliable lead-off hitter, and our offense is still sputtering.

Pitching Staff Rules!

Still, overall, there is our lovely starting pitching and great bullpen. As it showed to great effect last season and this season, we can win a lot of games despite poor offense. They averaged 3.66 RS per game the last month, yet the team still went 19-10 because they only allowed 2.07 runs per game that last month. The Pythagorean on that is 21-8, so they actually underperformed.

So about yesterday's loss by the Giants. People forget that Cain is human. People forget, but he lost a key game for us in the final series against the 'Dres last season, he did not come through for us. Of course, he really came through for us in the playoffs, spinning 21.1 IP of pure shutout gold for us in 3 starts.

That's the key to the Giants pulling the division title out of the hat this season, yeah, sometimes our pitching sucks, but more often than not, they come through big time, like the 9.1 IP of shut-out relief by the bullpen the other day or Lincecum giving up only one run in his loss.

Still, if you want to focus on the negative, the pitching has not been doing its job lately, and for a long while. Since July 3rd, the pitching had kept the opposition from scoring more than 3 runs only 23 out of 45 games, per my metric on the side. They have only been 23-22 in keeping the opposition from scoring 4 runs or more. That is why they have been 20-25 since then.

Enjoy the Ride, Enjoy the Season

Will our heroes come through? That is the drama that I enjoy, whether we make the playoffs or not. Of course, I'll be bummed, but I will have the shiny and great pitching staff plus blossoming middle lineup (Sandoval, Posey, Belt) to keep me warm for the next few seasons. As well as a shiny 2010 World Championship trophy!

So enjoy the pennant chase, Giants fans.  That is something Pirates and Royals fans have not enjoyed for nearly a generation now.

Enjoy our great pitching.  This is something that does not come around often, but when it does, you have to enjoy it.  You can bitch all you want about the offense, but remember this:  baseball is a zero sum game, any improvements in offense would have come at a cost to our pitching (and perhaps fielding too; see Keppinger).    

Think about all the fans who wanted to trade away Cain.  Think about all the fans who wanted to trade away Lincecum.  Think about all the fans who wanted to break up the pitching in order to get the offense.  Think about what won us our championship:   it was our pitching, period.

Mistakes are a Given: It is What You Do to Make up For Them

When pitching is this good, you don't need good offense, you don't even need average offense, though, obviously, that is preferable.  I would love to have great offense, but accept that this is the cost of having a great pitching staff.  The people who all point to the mistakes on offense that have occurred over the years are more OCD than I am:  mistakes will happen.

The key in any business is:  how does your strategic plan still function when mistakes are made?  Is it flexible enough to handle tactical issues, like a lot of injuries, or unexpected poor performances?

People write off unexpected good performances as luck, but the fact of the matter is that in life, there will always be unexpected good and bad performances, and they tend to balance out over time.  It has nothing to do with luck, it has to do with there being a balance in life.  Many view the unexpected good as luck, but that is how the baseball bounces sometimes, one player's good luck is another player's bad luck.  I see people noting the good luck of Burrell hitting well for us last season, but they then ignore the bad luck of Panda being Pablo instead.

And as much as injuries have hurt the Giants this season, I think that last year was very injury marred as well.  DeRosa was basically done before the season began, too bad he was too stubborn to see that and ended up starting a bunch of games before DLing.  Renteria was never really that healthy until his tendon snapped off.  Molina suffered from injuries from foul balls in May that he never recovered from, he was hitting .880 on May 12th then faded from there.  Schierholtz was injured early and he reported afterward that he came back too soon and never really fully recovered.  Franchez was injured early too and missed a number of games.  Rowand was hit in the face with a HBP, and while he hit well once he came back, he has not been the same since, he at least in his first two seasons hit well for 3-4 months before disappointing, but he hasn't been good for any extended period.  Torres missed a lot of the pennant race with his appendicitis.  Guillen was hitting .800 OPS for us for 6-7 weeks until his neck problem made him horrible for the last 1-2 weeks of the season.

There were pitcher injuries too.  Wellemeyer was injured.  Affeldt missed a while on the DL.  Runzler suffered a bad injury as well.  If I recall right, Ray also had some sort of injury.  Mota made the DL once, as well.

So it is not like we were "lucky" about injuries last season, we had a fair number of significant injuries, losing our starting LF, RF, CF, SS, 2B, plus our 3B and C were affected but not DLed, as well as a key set-up reliever, for parts of the season (most for DeRosa and Renteria, I would throw Schierholtz and Sandoval in there too).

The key is having such a good pitching staff that you can ride out a lot of problems.  When your pitching is that good, you don't need to pay that much to other teams for offense, as even average offense would actually be valuable to you.  You can make a lot of mistakes there and still win a lot of games.  Injuries in your pitching staff is covered when a good pitching is missing.  You just have to kiss a few frogs along the way.  Despite not having Wilson or Romo, the relievers have been pretty good in their stead, it hasn't been catastrophic, though they certainly could have used Wilson in yesterday's game.

Giants Appear to be Set for Future

The plan is generally working, which the Naysayers refuse to acknowledge.  Of course, that is barring catastrophic injury, but even then, we have so many that we might even be able to ride out the loss of one good pitcher.

The Giants have been averaging roughly 90 wins the past three seasons (including this one).  At some point, they must realize that luck is not the reason for all this success.  I think they are just being pig-headed, but only the truly dense can believe that they can explain away three seasons of 90 wins average as luck.  But I'm patient, I expect this to continue, then they will have no more excuses.

Not only is it working, but with a lot of young hitters coming up, the lineup looks to be cheap and good, not just average, within a couple of years, especially once Gary Brown or Francisco Peguero come up and become our lead-off hitter, while the middle is filled with Sandoval, Posey, and Belt.  That plus our pitching, assuming Neukom ponies up the money to keep everyone (which will be tough with Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Wilson, Sandoval, Posey getting big dough soon), should make the 2010's the Decade of the Giants, the Team of the 2010's.


  1. your column is too long to really comment and give it justice, but this is how I follow baseball.

    I look at the boxscores. I look at trends. Why is what is happening happening. I look at past performance and future performance. I look at regression to the mean.

    Except under certain conditions (x number of games out with x number of games to play; last few days of the season) W/L from day to day does not sway me much. Of course I'm a fan, and last night it was "Timma! Belt! Beltran!". Or the opposite. I like to see peak performance, and honestly, I like baseball more than I like the Giants - they get shut out by Clayton Kershaw, I tip my hat.

    The only sane outlook is to look at the standings this morning, and to best assume what will happen going forward. One has to remember that the media (and, increasingly, the public) is just looking for something to get worked up about. I'm not too different, I just don't place "interesting" in the same category as "important".

    The Giants are a better team than the Diamondbacks. With the standings essentially tied, that means the Giants win the division. It's not that complicated a logical conclusion.

  2. were you driven away from McCovey Chronicles, or did they finally see you for what you really are?

  3. I was driven away by melodramatic comments like your comment, Anon (really brave by the way, crawling out from under your rock that way).

    I just got tired of stupid comments about the Giants when they clearly, at least to me, was heading into a new era of good playing and lots of winning. I wanted to share that with everyone but all I got were the complainers ganging up on me and infuriating me with their stupid comments about the dire stat of the future of the Giants.

    It was nothing personal, unlike the ones I get today - apparently the site's membership just gets worse and worse since I left there full-time. Had I gotten these types of comments I would have left even sooner.

    No, the comments were just stupid comments and I didn't have enough time in my day to deal with their drang and strum anymore, they could go cry together in their wine and console themselves over a winning team that would compete for a playoff spot every season going forever, because, you know, that's something to cry about.

    But, you know, thanks for coming by. At first, I was just a little annoyed that comments like these pop up on my site, but I really want to keep an open environment of commenting here, because I know that I don't know it all, that there might be something I miss that will cause me to expect more than the Giants are capable of. Keeps me on my toes.

    But at some point I started taking it as a compliment. I mean, I don't leave many of my comments there anymore. I go there for nostalgia, there is also some good commenters there, like FLA and SharkRog. I leave some at ExtraBaggs, but since he got down on me for long comments, I try not to leave any comment there anymore either unless some people drive me crazy there like they used to at MCC. So I leave my mark every so often because he's a really good source of Giants information (just not good for Giants analysis, Huff really?). I leave some at ELM, but lately the crowd there has been turning as well, though I expected that with the change in venue in the last year, he had to go for populism and that frankly means catering to Naysayers at some point, in some way. He's been walking the line pretty well, though, but I don't care for the new crowd there. And, of course, DrB, who I have found a kindred spirit in. But I only leave bits and pieces of my thoughts at any of those places.

    So, really, the only place to get my opinion, and I know it is only that, unadulterated and full-on, is to come read my blog and regularly.

    So thank you for your comment, it really brightened up my day, Anon. It means I'm on the right track because even though you cannot stand "who I really am", you come here and read my blog anyway.

    I try to make my blog different from others around. I know my competitive differentiators. I read widely and try to bring new research discoveries from the perspective of the Giants fan. I also think my analysis is different from others. I know I make mistakes, and sometimes too often, but I think overall my course has been sure and accurate enough. I don't care to be a blog for the masses but I don't want to waste my time writing stuff people don't read either. At some point that novelty ended.

    Hopefully, someday, I can get you to see the light. But I ain't holding my breath, and I'm not that really hopeful either.

    How's that for optimism?

    And Thanks for coming by and reading!

  4. I love Grant's writing, I will say that. He's extremely good at it. I'm a big fan... of Grant's writing.

    The comments though are a big waste of time for me. Nitwits. I'm gonna read 500 posts for the dick jokes? Feeling like it's Beavis and Butthead? I don't think I am.

    See, the internet is a big place. It's alright with me if a site is whatever it is, it makes the commenters happy, so what? I just go to other places.

    I don't get junior-high flame war mob mentality. "See you for who you really are"? What is this, a bad b-movie? This is just a good website, Grant is a good writer, and it's fucking baseball, not Wuthering Heights.

  5. I love Grant's writing as well. I just can't help also reading the comments.

  6. I like Grant's writing too, but he has always had a "glass half empty" mentality that tends to feed the pitchfork mob. I still read the site, mostly to see what Fla is up to and to get a feel for what Steve and Brute are saying about the farm system, but to me, the site has become very predictable and as has already been said, the 900 comment threads are unbearable.

  7. I'm starting to lose my optimism for this season. The cumulative weight of all the injuries is finally starting to weigh the team down.

    Although I still think the Giants had to make the Beltran trade, I'm starting to have to admit that the guy just doesn't look like he wants to be here. Maybe his hand is still hurting and that's getting him down, but he just looks morose out there.

    The future is bright though. So bright I gotta wear shades! Assuming Posey is back healthy next year the team should have a minimum of 4 homegrown position starters: Posey, Sandoval, Nate and Belt, all with several years until free-agency. There is an outside chance that Gary Brown and Brandon Crawford could be starting too. That would make 6 of 8 and that is only the tip of the iceberg for prospects in the pipeline.

    I looks like Eric Surkamp is coming up on Saturday. Despite the loss of Wheeler, the Giants still have a bevy of power arms down in the lower minors with no need to rush them along.

    Yes, the long term fundamentals of this team are still strongly positive.

  8. Thanks for the comments Marc and DrB.

    Yeah, hard to keep the dauber up, does seem like it is the D-backs season, they just keep on keeping on, now with Goldschmidt doing well for them. Seems like every time they start to falter, someone comes in and picks them up.

    But there is still a lot of baseball left. 3 games is still nothing at this point of the season. Their carriage could turn to a pumpkin soon.

    Let's see the clouds in their coffee...

    Hudson had 166.0 IP in 2009, 188.2 IP in 2010, and is on pace for 221.1 IP this season. He could start petering out by mid-Sept, going beyond what he has pitched before, though if they managed it right, he'll be OK.

    Collmenter had 66.1 IP in 2007, 145.1 IP in 2008, 145.1 IP in 2009, 152.0 IP in 2010, and is at 124.2 IP right now, so he'll be at 160-ish, so it looks like he'll be OK IP wise. However, in his last 12 starts, as the league learned about him, he has had a 4.86 ERA, after 6 great starts, 1.05 ERA.

    However, in those 12 starts, he has had 7 DOM starts, he is just very bad when he is bad, pretty good much of the time.

    Saunders have been having a number of bad starts. And it looks like Marquis is out on DL (too bad, probably did them a favor with that) and his replacement looks like Wade Miley, who has been serviceable so far, 4.50 ERA, but his numbers don't look good, more hits than IP and lots of walks, but good K's.

    Their hitting has actually been down a lot this month, overall, despite Goldschmidt, so apparently they have been winning with their pitching.

    And really, all that boils down to Ian Kennedy pitching well enough to go 4-1 and Putz being shut down, as well as Hernandez and Owings and Paterson. Hudson has been good too, but the rest of their starters have not been good at all, especially Saunders and Marquis.

  9. Ooops, not a lot of bad things to say about the D-backs, unfortunately. Maybe Hudson, but Collmenter, after being a bit lost in a few starts, have put together a good string.

    Goldschmidt is striking out way too much and his BABIP can't stay at .364, but given their offense was down, the rest of the lineup might perk up to make up the difference.

    Putz is older and pushing his limits on IP after an injury-plagued 2009, so he could start wearing down by mid-Sept as well.

    But not a lot to say that they will necessarily slow down greatly the rest of the season.

    Looks like the Giants will have to take them down in the 6 games between them, that's how SD stayed so close in 2010, they won all those games against the Giants, else we would have won going away.

    That's as optimistic as I can get right now, don't look like they will slow down, the Giants will need someone to will them to enough wins for the division title. Will it be Pablo? Beltran? Belt? Huff? Lincecum? Cain? Wilson?


    Should be an fun month of pennant contending.

  10. Here is part of the deal. The dbacks are a young team and if the giants were healthy, I would be able to say that the giants are the better team. But the giants have run into a string of injuries almost unprecented. The hitting has remained poor for way too long. I am sure had Posey not gone down, the giants would still be in first place. When you give a young talented team like the DBACKs too many opportunities, suddenly they will build confidence and winning ways. They have literally shut down a very hot Padres team. The giants came into play the pirates as the pirates had a ten game losing streak, and the Marlins when they had a 7 games losing streak. Yes indeed, the medicine for those teams was to play the giants. I read that the giants now have an eleven series record where they have lost the first game of each of those series. That does not breed optimism. However, this team when healthy is the best team in the division and by now would be better than 20 games over 500. The giants can still pull it out, but a few players at some point will have to get hot. If the giants do get into the playoffs, even if they cannot hit, they will still be a tough team to beat. They just keep throwing good pitchers at you. Thanks for your blog. It is a blog, and by definition it can be as long as you like. You keep blogging, I promise, I keep reading.

  11. Yeah, good points. The DL (or almost DL) list is beyond belief. I've been reading some criticism of Bochy, mostly revolving around Huff, Belt, Rowand - the usual suspects - but one player doesn't win or lose a division. There's not much Bochy can do that has more than a marginal effect.

    Hopefully Gibson's panache will cut both ways - the Dbacks could fold down the stretch. BP still has the Giants winning the division. But they still need to play .600 baseball (or whatever) - not sure where the offensive side is going to come from.

  12. With 28 to go....

    If Az goes 14-14
    SF needs 18-10 to tie

    Need a streak and a collapse.
    Tough to see how both can happen and no indicative signs.....

  13. Thank you Anon, marc, and El for your comments.

    All good comments. Thanks El for the stark outline of the hill we will need to climb to win the division. It will not be easy.

    It doesn't help when a team like the Dres just folds and bends over and take one. They appear to have belly-flopped and lost the D-backs as payback to the Giants for last season, they were pretty lifeless themselves.

    Hopefully Colorado will have more backbone, as the D-backs face them 6 times in the next 9 games. Unfortunately, D-backs has another 7 more games against SD after that, so it will be a steep upward climb if SD gives up without a fight again.

    For an indicative sign, the Giants defense has not given up more than 4 runs in 5 starts now. Another run like last season where they don't allow many runs over a 2-3 week period would do a lot towards bringing the Giants back from the ledge.

    And the starting pitching seems to be in pretty good shape to start another run, plus we just got back Romo, and soon we will be able to bring up Ford, Burriss, Gillaspie, plus all the pitchers, that will all help us, whereas I don't see who D-backs can call up, they already have called up a lot of people and/or traded them away.

    But they are only silver linings, it don't look good for our local 9 right now, and I know that some are saying that this is just like last season (and I think I did also earlier) but at this point of the season, being behind 4 games is no easy matter of getting over that, last season or any other season, that is still a big hole to climb out of.

    That said, it has happened before, last season being the latest.

  14. But, as the comments agree, we need someone to lead the way. I think I commented on DrB that this year is different because we are missing the leaders who stepped up last season: Posey and Renteria.

    Posey clearly was a leader in the clubhouse, you can see that with every quote that came out of his mouth during the pennant run, the playoffs, and to the parade. And Renteria did his crying speech.

    I don't see anyone stepping into the vacuum. Sandoval has been inspirational with his action, and he would win the Willie Mac Award for that if it weren't for Vogelsong's breakout season. Beltran is getting hot and if he ignites, he could lead by example and by removing the pressure off Huff and Belt and let them be the hitters that they can be.

    If DeRosa keeps on hitting, he could push Belt out of starting full-time in LF, and split time there with him, while also taking LHP starts from Huff at 1B. That could put him into position to lead us out of the wilderness.

    People harp on Cabrera leading off, but that's just their Naysayer side poking out, the fact is that Bochy had no real lead-off guy available. He decided to go with the vet who was pleading for the job and gave it to him in hope that might spark the offense, I'm OK with experiments that fail.

    That's another problem too, in society, there is such a stigma over trying something and failing.

    Personally, I thought that Bochy was giving Cabrera one last chance to keep a spot, and he failed, though looking at his numbers, he had a nice BB/K ratio and didn't strikeout much, his problem was his low BABIP, though at his age, that might be his new talent level. I see this as a sign that when Crawford returns, he will be the starter again, so that at least we got great defense, plus maybe he'll develop a little more.

  15. Thinking about DeRosa has brought back that thought I had earlier about resigning DeRosa for 2012.

    It might work.

    He feels bad, nay, terrible, about his two seasons with us but I have to think that he's not looking to retire since he's been hitting. Nobody's going to offer him starting money, but at $1M to sit on a bench, I don't think he'll have better offers outside of baseball.

    He could be our Uribe for 2012, except that he's a better hitter and can play good defense at 4-5 positions (3B, 2B, LF, RF, 1B?) plus could play SS in a pinch.

    Plus he would want a chance to show SF fans what he could have done if more healthy.

    Meanwhile, for the Giants this would be like the Burrell and Uribe deals, get a vet with nice value (in DeRosa's case: good hitter, good defensive player at multiple positions) for the bench cheap.

    I'm liking this idea more and more as DeRosa hits and provides some internal leadership.

  16. You know, I agree, or can see, a lot of the points in this post. But I do think that you undermine your "I'm not an optimist" post with the conclusion in which you state firmly (twice) that the Giants have been averaging 90 wins over the past three seasons including 2011. It will take 90 wins this year for that to be true, and that can certainly happen (I've certainly seen dramatic turnarounds in my lifetime of watching baseball), but it will take an exceptional last month of baseball. If they were to continue their pace of the last month (8-19), they wouldn't even make it to .500. I don't think that will happen, and I certainly hope that a 19-10 stretch run will, but you can't flatly state that they're in a perpetual 90-win state now without recognizing that it's going to take a strong uphill charge the next 4 weeks to make that come true, because otherwise you're just assuming a pretty positive outcome for September, ie, being optimistic.

  17. Roger, thank you for your comment, and I see your point, so I'll try to clarify. And perhaps I'm missing something, so perhaps you are correct.

    Again, I refer to the definition of optimist: "a person disposed to take a favorable view of things."

    To me, that means looking only at the favorable without accounting for the negatives.

    Hopefully, my last few comments show that I'm aware of the negatives and am not disposed to take a favorable view of the current situation. It will be a hard climb, a climb that not all teams make, and the way the Giants have been playing, they don't look ready.

    So your comment seems, to me, to really come down to my statement about a 90 win team. When I'm talking about that, I'm talking 90-ish (and in fact, for this post, I noted "roughly"). Clearly, since they "only" won 88 games in 2009, if you hold me to the literalness of that statement, then, really, there has only been one season, the 2010 season.

    17-11 and 16-12 would bring us to that range, at least in my mind, and that does not seem possible at this moment to many, but as I tried to make clear, it is a matter of perspective of the viewer of what the situation is, of what the risk and opportunity is.

    I think the pitching, after a so-so month, will revert back to their talent level, which they showed in May, June, July, when they averaged roughly 16-11 record. August was an anomaly relative to the rest of the season, there were a lot more disaster starts (which I'll admit I did not count but as I noted in a post, they have not been good in August about keeping the RA below 4 as they were earlier in the season) and it seems reasonable to me to think that the pitching will revert back to that mean in September, as the pitching seems to have settled down.

    Now the Giants will have to score more to reach that record, and I don't know if they have it in them. But they did do it for three months.

    So I don't view that as optimism, I view that as a regression to the mean of the talent they had shown this season. Also a regression to the mean they showed in prior seasons, for the pitching.

    I can see why some might see that as optimism, but there is a vast difference between expecting a good result for no reason and expecting a good result when it has happened for nearly three seasons now (and really to me back into the prior season as well).

  18. That gets back to my comment about the past three seasons.

    By any reasonable view of the statements of the Naysayers, they have generally been saying that the team cannot win with the offense that the Giants have and thought the team would lose hand over fist.

    The Giants W/L record clearly shows that they have been able to win, and not just win, but win at a playoff contention pace for three seasons now. So therefore, the Naysayers have a very faulty understanding of how a team can win, as the Giants have been winning, and the Naysayers have been waiting for the Giants to lose for nearly three seasons.

    So I cannot really rely on what they say to be the "truth" when they say the bumblebee can't fly and yet it does. And I don't understand why they can't see that.

  19. Still think that the pitching is enough to get us into the playoffs? I think last night's game was a microcosm of the Giants this year..........inability to hit, inability to play good defense, & no answers on the bench. This race is over for all intents & purposes.

    Lefty calls for some sweeping changes in today's column and I think he's right. This team needs a major shakeup and attitude adjustment.

  20. Tragic that this team is wasting all this good pitching with this woeful defense and hitting this, last, and hopefully not next year.

    This "plan" you talk of is lame.
    "The Giants have the fewest runs scored, fewest hits, fewest home runs, fewest walks, fewest total bases, the worst batting average (.229), the worst on-base percentage (.282), the worst slugging percentage (.343), and the worst OPS (.625). Taking into account that they have had, by far, the fewest baserunners, their 5th worst GIDP total of 33 is staggering."
    I'm not buying into the (as you say)"any improvements in offense would have come at a cost to our (sic) pitching" They are two different animals.



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