Monday, August 20, 2012

Your 2012 Giants are 66-55: Downward Dog Position

I haven't done this in a long while, but Richard from Canada mentioned his wish for my daily notes at another site.  I assume he meant the post I used to do covering each series, which I'm doing here.  I can't promise to do this consistently for the rest of the season but for the D-gers series, I can man up for it.

D-gers Road Series

Game 1:  Kershaw vs. Bumgarner
Clayton Kershaw: Kershaw is on a four-start win streak after beating the Pirates, even though he did let a lead slip away and has allowed home runs in his last two starts. He shut out the Giants the last time he faced them and is 7-3 with a 1.32 ERA lifetime vs. SF. 
Madison Bumgarner: Bumgarner dominated the Nationals in his last outing, holding them to one run on five hits in his second career complete game. He lowered his NL-best home ERA to 1.87, but he still holds a 4.06 ERA away from AT&T Park this season.
The teams' two wunderkind LHP face off in a battle for the ages for fans of both teams, most likely the first of many confrontations they will have over the years.  Kershaw is a great pitcher and Bumgarner fast proving to be one as well.  Should be a great game, but tough to win.

Clayton has pitched extremely well against the Giants in his career, amazingly, better in SF than LA but still great in LA:  2.09 ERA, 7 starts, 47.1 IP (nearly 7 IP per), only 31 hits and 12 walks (0.91 WHIP), 56 K (10.6 K/9 and 4.7 K/BB).  Wow, no Giants hitter hits him well:  Posey .491 OPS, Sandoval .599 (best among most PA), Theriot .445, Belt .528, Pence .111 (yes, that's OPS, with 5 K's in 18 AB), Pagan .500, Blanco .286/.375/.286/.661 (best but in 8 PA; probably all earlier this season when he was white-hot).  Would also note Scutaro's 2 for 4, .500/.500/.500/1.000 and Bumgarner's 1 for 2, .500/.500/.500/1.000 also.

Madison has pitched very well in LA too overall:  2.79 ERA, 4 games, 3 starts, 19.1 IP, with 21 hits and 4 BB, vs. 9 K's for only 4.2 K/9 but 2.25 K/BB.  His one bad start, however, was his last one there, last season, 4 IP, 9 hits for 4 R/ER, only 1 K (but no walks), late in the season, on Sept 22nd.   His other two starts were OK.  Kemp kills him (.300/.438/.385/.822) with walks, while Rivera just kills him (.429/.429/.857/1.286).  Unfortunately, they added Victorino who has hit .333/.400/.444/.844 (10 PA/9 AB), but otherwise, he has pretty much controlled the D-ger's hitters pretty well, including Ethier (.200 OPS in 10 AB) and Hanley (.347 OPS in 9/8) and Loney (.573 OPS in 11/10).  He has also done well against Ellis (the MI) but in 6 AB.

As my research on PQS and top pitchers like these two, the game will depend on which one wants it more today, because when you got two great pitchers going at it, odds are that you will have two very well pitched games, and the game will probably swing on whichever pitcher faltered when men are on base and/or giving up the long-ball.  It is pretty much a coin flip.  Still, Kershaw has shut down the Giants before, whereas Bumgarner do have hitters who have done well against him before, so you have to lean towards Kershaw and thus LA, both for prior performance, recent performance, and home field advantage.  

But I would note also that Kershaw has never faced a white-hot Buster before and probably not an increasingly hot Hunter either.  That could even things up for the Giants and Bumgarner.  Again, should be a great game either way.

Game 2:  Blanton vs. Lincecum
Joe Blanton: Blanton allowed three homers and was lifted in the fifth inning of his most recent start in Pittsburgh, then for good measure was ejected for arguing. He's still winless with the Dodgers since his acquisition from the Phillies at the Trade Deadline. 
Tim Lincecum: Linecum snapped a streak of three-straight quality starts by allowing four earned runs in four innings against the Nationals on Aug. 15. He allowed a two-run single in the first inning, and has allowed 23 runs in the opening frame in his 25 starts.
Wow, talk about a bad first impression:  3 starts, 15.1 IP, 8.22 ERA pretty much says it all, though that is probably BABIP bad luck with 18 hits but still, 7 walks is very high too.  His K/9 of 7.0 is in line with his recent stats, though.  Obviously, he has never faced the Giants in LA.  He has not done well against the Giants in his career, 4.75 ERA in 9 starts, with 66 hits and 11 walks in 53.0 IP, only 32 K's.  However, I should note that he has done well in LA in his career, 3.24 ERA but obviously all except against LA lineups before.  In his one start for LA at home this season, he gave up only 2 runs in 6.0 IP against Cubs (3.00 ERA).

Hitters who have done well include:  Pagan 1.444 OPS (18 PA/AB), Posey 1.083 (12 PA/AB), Pence 1.208 (9/8).  Not as good:  Theriot .408; Sandoval .429; Blanco .167/.167/.500/.677 (due to one triple).  Scutaro was OK:  .260/.333/.375/.708 in 9/8.

I'll repeat again:  I was very happy that LA picked up Blanton and not, say, Dempster.  Thank goodness he avoided them like the plague, turning down the request for a trade, and he ended up elsewhere (with Texas I believe).  Blanton, to put it plainly, is not that great a pitcher.  And there's nothing wrong with that, he's a very useful and valuable pitcher because he can eat up a lot of innings and still keep his team in contention most games.  But in a playoff environment where the team almost got a top-line starter in Dempster, I'm very happy LA got Blanton instead.  He's actually been pretty good in August, but so far he has pretty much stunk for them, and hopefully will continue to do so.

Lincecum has been up and down all season and he ended his nice streak since the All-Star break with his poor start last week.  Hard to use his career numbers, given how poorly he has done this season, but I note for completeness.  For his career, he has done worse in LAD:  3.81 ERA in 9 games, 8 starts, 49.2 IP with 48 hits and 27 walks, and "only" 47 K for a 8.5 K/9 and 1.74 K/BB.  I note only because his K/9 at most parks are easily over 9.0, so this sticks out.  For parks with at least 4 starts, only Cards and Nats parks have lower K/9.  He appears to have come up "small" previously in LA, so his implosion this season is not without precedence, as I've noted before, there have been circumstances where Timmy did not excel, showing that nerves could affect him and lower his performance, only this season, it has been pervasive until the All-Star break.

Hitters who have done well include:  Ethier (.948 OPS in 43 PA), Rivera (.915 OPS in 18 PA), Kennedy (.788 in 22 PA).  He has done pretty well against all the rest of the hitters, though Hanley is .222/.222/.556/.778 due to his HR in 9 AB.   But given Tim's poor 2012 season overall, hard to say exactly what we will get out of him, though he has had one start in LA in 2012:  5.0 IP with 8 K's and 2 BB, which are good, but 8 hits and 4 R/ER for 7.20 ERA, which is bad.

That is pretty much in line with his 2012, where there are flashes of goodness,.  Which shows that he still has the stuff to shut down teams, but where before he performed unconsciously to his peak performance, he now starts thinking once runners are on and his performance suffers accordingly.  He appears to have corrected the boat greatly over the All-Star break, but his last start, of course, put the question marks out there again.  I would note that even when he was going great, he would have games where he just loses it, so that last game could just be one of those to remind us that he is human. 

Still, he will need to prove this in this start.  I believe that Tim is past his early difficulties, but given that facing LA has caused him to have poorer starts there than at other parks previously, one has to wonder about this start.  If he can give us a good start, that would be a pretty good sign that he is over his earlier problems this season, but if he has another hiccup, one has to wonder whether he will be able to turn things around again.  Still, with Blanton against him, I would have to lean towards the Giants in this matchup.

Game 3:  Capuano vs. Cain
Chris Capuano: Capuano pitched a winning game in Atlanta that the bullpen let get away. He's traditionally tailed off in the second half but has posted three straight quality starts and is seeking win No. 12 for the first time since 2005. 
Matt Cain: The Giants are 13-2 when they score three or more runs behind Cain. He's personally 11-0 in those games. Cain's 3.63 road ERA exceeds his 2.24 figure at home, partly because he has allowed 11 road homers compared with seven at AT&T Park.
Capuano was not even listed as the probable pitcher yesterday.  Not sure why, he's been doing well this season for LA, with a 3.14 ERA, though perhaps that hesitancy is related to his 4.41 ERA over the past 28 days (5 starts, but nice peripherals with 8.5 K/9 and 3.44 K/BB, and only 33 hits in 32.2 IP, so it appears that this is related more to bad bullpen support than anything).  But that is related more to his bad streak mid-season, with 3.62 ERA in June and 5.14 ERA in July.  He has a 2.01 ERA in 3 starts in August.  And this season, a 2.17 ERA at home vs. 4.10 ERA on the road, which is more typical of his career numbers.   D-ger Stadium is an extreme pitcher's park, what can we say?

He has not faced the Giants this season yet.  He has a career 5.00 ERA in 10 games, 6 starts, 45.0 IP and only 5.8 K/9 and 1.81 K/BB.  Amazingly, he has a worse ERA in SF than against SF at his homes during his career (5.32 ERA in SF, 4.64 ERA at home), despite pitching in a hitter's park for most of his career.  Only Pence has a lot of PA (and only 12) , then Theriot (8) and both have not hit well against him.  Most have had one start against Capuano, with Posey (1.250 OPS; 1 HR) and Sandoval (1.750 OPS; 3 fo 4 with double) and Scutaro (2 for 5 plus walk; .900 OPS) having good numbers.  And Theriot appears to have had some bad luck, as he only struck out once in those 8 AB, yet only had one hit (double).  So whoever on the Giants hit him well before are not around anymore.

I had been meaning to post this earlier about Cain but his last two starts are very significant in that they were the first time since the Perfecto where he was able to put two DOM starts (PQS score of 4 or 5) in a row.  And he didn't just squeak by, he earned 5 PQS in his last two starts.  Prior to that, he had 2 DOM starts in 9  starts since the perfect game.  And prior to the perfect game, he was racking up DOM starts like he had not before in his career, with 11 DOM out of 12 starts (92% DOM, where over 70% is elite).  The good thing is that despite his poorer outings since, he still does not have a single DIS start, which are the ones that really kick up your ERA.  Still, 4 DOM in 11 starts is only a 36% DOM, so he has not been particularly good for a long while, until hopefully with his last two starts.

Cain has done well in D-ger Stadium in his career:  3.23 ERA in 9 starts, 53.0 IP, with 54 hits and 22 walks, striking out 42 (7.1 K/9 and 1.91 K/BB).  Well, but it has been up and down during this career, they thumped him good in 2006, but he shut them down in 2008, he was OK in 2009, but they hit him in 2010, before he did well again in 2011.

Ethier and Loney kills Cainer (1.060 OPS and .951 respectively, in 56 and 49 PA).  However, he has kept Kemp to a .244/.262/.439/.701 batting line in 42 PA and Hanley to a .250/.344/.429/.772 in 32 PA.  Also, Victorino .470 OPS; Kennedy .205 OPS; Ellis .516 OPS in 14 PA, A.J. Ellis .667 in 3 PA.

Hard to call this one since Capuano has done very well in LA this season, but Cainer appears to be back into fine form and when he is on and wants a game, he is hard to beat.  On top of that, after years of futility in trying to beat the D-gers, he is 3-1, 2.78 ERA against them in 7 starts since 2010, which is when his numbers started to ascend even higher to elite status in PQS.  Have to lean towards Cain here, despite Capuano's great season in LA so far and they having home advantage.

ogc Thoughts

We all know it was going to be a tough series and then we lost Melky in a horrible, implosive type of manner (really, faking a website to "prove" your mistake was not your mistake?).  The team seemed to recover in SD, after understandably not showing much life in the last Nats game due to receiving the gut-punch news one hour before game time, winning two of three, though showing no life against Clayton Richards in the series finale, which, looking at his career stats, he just got their number in SD (under 2 ERA for his career), it seems, so perhaps it could have been expected.

And given the information above on the series, the Giants look like they have a chance of winning this series, but it is on a fine edge that could just as easily end up a D-gers series win.  But the Giants need a win to not only get ahead of LA again, but not to end up 1.5 or 3.5 games behind in the standings, as there is a 2 game swing in the standings with each game played.  A series loss is really not acceptable right now, the Giants players need to man up this series and win at least 2 games, or better, return the favor to the D-gers by sweeping them on the road, just as they did to us almost a month ago.

Did Mattingly Blink Again?

Bochy has shown up Mattingly before in managerial acumen, has Don screwed up again?  The Giants had been killing LHP previously, but obviously Melky was a key part of that.  Still, we picked up Pence, who loves to hit lefties too, so it would be my guess that maybe the D-gers held off on naming Capuano as the starter and might have been thinking of swapping a RHP into the rotation before settling on Capuano, who has a poor history against the Giants but great current history in LA., as the Giants are just .500 against RHP this season.   Else, why would there even be a question who is starting on the Sunday just before the series?

I think they made a tactical mistake if they were able to swap in a RHP in place of Capuano.  In fact, RHP Harang would have been next in the rotation, so they could have swapped their position in the starting rotation with minimal effect other than short rest for Harang.  Because Harang has done very well for his prior teams in their home parks against the Giants:  he's actually been pretty good against the Giants overall (like a 3.22 ERA), but average at AT&T (4.11 ERA), meaning great at his home parks (somewhere in the low-to-mid 2's).  And his ERA has been virtually the same, whether 4 days rest or 5, so hopefully their starting Capuano becomes a tactical mistake here costing them two games in the standings (again, each loss in this series costs that team 2 games in the standings).

Not that Bochy actually did anything to show up Mattingly, in this case, right now, since Bochy didn't adjust the rotation (though perhaps could have looked ahead to this series?).   But this could prove to be a crucial goof on Mattingly's part given prior performances for Capuano and Harang previously.  Hopefully the Giants can cash in on this difference.  In any case, we still have five good hitters vs. LHP this season in the lineup presumably, based on how Bochy has been setting up the lineups:  Posey, Arias, Belt, Sandoval, Pagan.  Plus, while we are missing Cabrera, we have Pence in his place, and he has done great vs. LHP his whole career.  And I guess that is where Bochy kicks in his tactics, he's been platooning Crawford and Arias at SS, instead of just starting one or the other, plus starting Belt at 1B against LHP as well as RHP. 

Melky Not Critical to Offense Nor Not Replaced

Looking at our last 28 days, Melky was not even a huge part of our offense.  Posey, Belt, Pagan, Arias, Scuataro were providing good batting lines, Posey in particular with a .380/.485/.696/1.181 batting line with 6 HR in 79 AB (99 PA as he has 18 BB vs. 15 K), a very Barry Bonds-like performance.  Also, suddenly Arias has been totally hot, after being totally cold since, like, May.  Plus, Crawford is hitting .406/.457/.563/1.020 in the last two weeks (and Arias even better, .458/.481/.708/1.190).

And the outfield has been replacing his hitting, so far.  For starters, Banco had two 2-hit games in his first two starts A.M. (after Melky), though Christian isn't taking advantage of his opportunity again and not hitting again, in fact, the radio announcers noted how he was flailing wildly at pitches.  On top of that, Pence is starting to find his bat (which he noted in a recent interview), with a great .471/.500/.647/1.147 in the past 7 days (5 starts), and perhaps it ignited once the Melky hit the fan. 

Meanwhile, Melky in the last 28 days hit .286/.333/.429/.762.  And that's exactly what Sandoval has been hitting since he returned to the lineup, as basically we had Melky but no Sandoval, then Sandoval but no Melky, offensively, except for that one game where both played.  So our offense, which has been relatively high powered since the All-Star break, didn't lose an important cog with the loss of Melky, he was simply replaced by Sandoval, just as Sandoval's presence was replaced by Pence when Pablo went on the DL. 

Sabean's move to get Pence when he did now proves to be a brilliant move in the light of the Melky-gate, even prescient, whether he knew about the potential suspension.  Aand even if Melky's agent's didn't inform the Giants, the rumor was already out there and I still don't see how it could not have been the final straw that pushed the Giants to make the trade.  In any case, the trade enabled the Giants offense to continue unhindered despite first the loss of Pablo, then Melky.  Scenario Planning certainly would have helped in this case in making the decision to trade, the move just made too much sense, no matter the circumstances.

Pence Pouncing UPon Poor Pitches Presently

Hunter Pence I wanted to cover a little here, as I noted some stats on his RISP hitting on another comment site (can't recall, probably DrB's though).  His overall numbers have been horrible with the Giants, just .222/.263/.361/.624, but I'm actually OK with that as I discovered that his poor hitting is only while the bases are empty or just a runner on first.

With RISP, he has hit .333/.321/.667/.988, which has resulted in 15 RBI for the Giants in 18 games so far.  His addition has made up for missing personnel (Sandoval then Melky) as well as poorer performances by the pitchers in August.  And, his bat is starting to heat up, starting with the second game of the Colorado series, since then he has hit in 6 of 8 games, 10 for 29 for .345/.400/.586/.986 batting line, still striking out a ton, but starting to pile up the hits instead of the outs.

Also, his poor 2012 season so far appears to be mostly because of very poor hitting against LHP (only .174/.192/.217/.410  vs. .287/.344/.501/.845 career) though he is down vs. RHP so far too (only .245/.296/.429/.725 vs. .289/.339/.471/.811 career).  And mostly because of his horrendous slump starting July 1st and lasting to only recently for the Giants.  Prior to that, he was above his career numbers, with an overall .286/.351/.498/.850 batting line as of June 30th (his career numbers are .288/.340/.478/.818).  If he can get hot for the rest of the season, like he did for the Phillies in 2011, the Giants will not miss Melky's contributions at all.

Mr Brown Can Play LF, Can You?

Recent reports is that Gary Brown, our future starting CF, suddenly was playing LF in recent games.  Sabean has already been public with his opinion that Brown will not be brought up now to start in LF, but did not reverse prior Giants management talk about perhaps bringing up Brown with the September call-ups.  I have to think that this is a sign that the Giants will bring up Brown once AA season is over (and Richmond is not in line for playoffs, I don't believe), at minimum, and if Christian continues to struggle with the bat, Brown will get those LHP starting opportunities in September.  And if Blanco should falter as well, maybe become the starter.   Once we are in the pennant race, Bochy has an all hands on deck attitude.

Also, I don't know if the loop hole still exists, but the rules allowed teams previously to substitute in a player who was not brought up before September 1st onto their playoff roster if the team had a player on the 60-day DL (not sure of exact circumstances, but it involves this).  That is how K-Rod was able to come in and save the 2002 World Series for the Angels even though he wasn't called up before September 1st.  If that hole still exists, with Franchez out for the season (seemingly), he could get put on the 60-day DL finally which should theoretically allow the Giants to put Brown on the playoff roster.  Or the Giants could simply bring up Brown before September 1st, but I don't really see that happening, I still expect the team to pick up a veteran bat for the bench before August ends, via a waiver wire trade.

Arias Rising

After a nice start to his Giants career, he went ice cold, hitting .198/.245/.257/.503 from May 8th to June 7th.  I thought he actually has been cold since then, but I have to correct my statements here and elsewhere.  After that cold stretch, he, while not great, was adequate as a utility MI, getting hot and cold, up and down, hitting .323/.371/.419/.791 from June 8th to July 4th, before cooling off again hitting .224/.255/.286/.541 from July 5th to August 3rd.  But since then, he has been super hot, for the past two weeks or so, .467/.485/.667/1.152, which has made it hard for Bochy to sit him for Crawford against LHP.  

Bochy is often good riding the hot hand when they are going good, so expect to see Arias starting for a while before Crawford gets the full-time gig again.  The good thing is that if Arias bat is hot, Bochy can sub in Arias for Sandoval at 3B, which ups the defense but normally drops the offense greatly.  If Arias can continue hitting good enough, the drop in offense, while severe, would at least not be a black hole, as I had been thinking before, while upping the defense plus taking out Pablo to rest his hammy, which still isn't 100%, it appears to have reached stasis at 90% since returning to the team.

In Appreciation of Bruce Bochy

Dave Flemming noted in his post game wrap over the weekend about how he likes that Bochy adjusts his managerial style as the season progresses.  For most of the season, it is all about getting through the long season, but then something switches and he's managing to get the win.  He noted that he saw the change in 2010 and contrasted it with Ron Washington's simple "We won playing this way, so we're playing this way all the way."

I also came away with a greater appreciation of Bochy's managerial style in 2010 as well.  I always felt that he lacked the killer's instinct, but I guess that was because we were never in a dog fight until 2010, really.  In 2010, he started managing without caring about what the player (including vets) might feel about the situation.  He would take out starting pitchers sooner, relief  pitchers sooner, take out players from the starting lineup, all to win that particular game, culminating with his startling (but correct) move to to not place Zito on the playoff rosters.  And, of course, once I discovered his statistically valid skill in winning 1-run games (I think at the 95 percentile), I was even more impressed.

Flemming's comment, the way he described it, got me thinking of an analogy that I thought I would throw out.  I compare Bochy's handling of the Giants to a jockey in a race track (and I'm chuckling at the mental image of Bochy in a jockey's clothes with his big head riding a poor horse).  For most of the race, the jockey lets the horse run as well as he can.  He will prod to pick up the pace, but basically most of the race involves keeping pace with the pack, while not falling too far behind the leader either.  Then, at the home stretch, you change tactics and start prodding your horse to get to the finish line first.

Bochy manages much like that.  He makes sure that everyone is used regularly and in important situations, from the start.  He prods as necessary, but mostly if the team is close, he doesn't tighten the reins much.  The goal is to keep everyone fresh for the dog days of August and September, when the pressure goes up a lot.  But then once those days come, at key points of games, he will change tactics, like he did this weekend, pulling Zito and Vogelsong out early, even though they weren't doing badly (just not good either), to get that extra PH, to use the bullpen more, instead of stretching out the IP of the starter.

His managerial expertise gives me great hope that we will pull this out and get into the playoffs this season.  Well, that and our great pitching and now with our pretty good hitting as well, led by Buster.

Go Giants!

22 comments:

  1. Should have mentioned this from my other post: Giants had a more leisurely bus ride up from SD to LA, whereas LA had to take a late flight from Atlanta to LA, which probably arrived on the West Coast past midnight.

    I should have also noticed that with 40 or so games left in the season, 9 of the Giants games are against the D-gers (Jon Miller noted this in the pre-game show), so the two teams are literally playing for the post-season mano-a-mano, in these final three series between the teams.

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  2. And the Giants take the first one, 2-1, behind the superlative pitching of Bumgarner and superlative defense, including Posey and Pence, and the offense delivered by Pagan and Pablo. Easy Peasy! :^)

    Classic pitching matchup, as both Bumgarner and Kershaw struck out 10 batters each, Madison had 8 innings of shutout and Kershaw was almost as good, only 2 runs in his 8 IP, only 10 hits given up but ZERO walks for BOTH. Madison gave up only 4 hits, Kershaw 6 but the top of the lineup accounted for 5 of them, allowing the Giants to scratch out 2 runs, which beat the one homer by Hanley off Romo in the 9th.

    Should note Pagan's double to start the game, jump starting the Giants offense immediately.

    Pence's defense is lauded by radio post-game show. As I noted in the trade analysis, his defensive stats once was good but was bad in recent years. Announcers note how well he has been playing, which I was hoping for, since our defensive placement by the coaches seem to be pretty good, as it enabled both Burrell and Huff (and Belt) to produce positive results in the outfield.

    This returns the Giants back to first place, as the two teams have leapfrogged each other for the division lead over and over again. Arizona lost to fall to 5.0 games back.

    As I noted, thais should be our toughest matchup in this series. Lincecum needs to step up and win the game against Blanton and put more space between the two teams, plus it would set up Cain to gain the sweep by beating Capuano.

    For epic events this season (I've missed a number of other ones since the last post on it), this is only the THIRD time in the live ball era (basically since 1920) that two pitchers have zero walks with 10+ strikeouts in a matchup.

    Also been forgetting that there are TWO wild card playoff teams, and thus the Giants were actually not that far away from the second spot after yesterday's games. LA is now 0.5 games behind the Pirates for the second playoff spot.

    Radio notes that Kershaw this year has lost 3 games, even though the Giants only scored 2 runs in each of those three games. Which is just the fates paying back, as he sweeped through the Giants and Lincecum a season or two ago, even though Lincecum had pitched good games himself.

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  3. http://www.csnbayarea.com/baseball-san-francisco-giants/giants-talk/Invigorated-Giants-surge-to-scoring-reco?blockID=758997&feedID=2796

    The Giants became the first opponent to score an eight-run inning in the ample ballpark wedged next to the Western Metal Supply Co. building. And they did it without a grand slam or even a solo home run. They racked up those eight runs by working counts, spoiling pitcher’s strikes and making hard contact on mistakes.

    Epic

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  4. What a game last night. Bumgarner refusing to give in on the 3-2 counts was absolutely epic. Hope Big Time Timmy Jim will be summoned in response to that ballsy performance, we need him. Pagan is playing quite nicely. Melky who?

    I would note the absolutely bad stats the Christian/Blanco platoon has put up so far. Not fair against Kershaw, but i have to think Gary Brown is getting debated big time right now by the Brain Trust.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, epic game for the ages, mano-a-mano, and Bumgarner did not blink. As someone on KNBR said, we signed the right two pitchers long-term, Cain and Bumgarner.

      Yes, we need Timmy.

      Paging Pagan and he has showed up big time. With Pence around, I think signing Pagan or a better lead-off guy would top off the lineup for next season.

      Yeah, Christian in particular has been pretty bad, but again, I would note that Blanco has a nice two starts once Melky got suspended. At minimum, we need someone to replace Christian in the platoon, and perhaps STAT, since Blanco got the start against LHP, then if promoting Brown happens to capture lightening in the bottle (like when the Giants promoted Sandoval to the majors after his nice AA season), then go for the win by starting Brown full-time.

      Given that he suddenly got a start in LF when he's viewed as the CF of the future, Brown must be being considered by Giants management for a trial run out in LF this season. It is more a matter of when, but with Christian already getting the hook with Blanco starting against a LHP (and doing nothing), it is probably more sooner than later, perhaps as early as after the D-ger's series.

      I don't really see them making such a move during the series, I think they will let Gregor start all three games and see how he does. But I agree, not fair since Kershaw, but that's life too. And he will get chances against regular pitchers like Blanton and Capuano.

      As many have been noting, it is do or die time, time where Bochy is changing tactics to fit the situation, and he will flip through everyone to find the guy who will deliver for him NOW!

      Honestly, though, I'm surprised he's not putting Belt into LF when Posey is at 1B, Brandon is an improvement on LF offensively. But I guess given Belt's fragile hold on his batting mechanics, Bochy don't want to change anything for him and upset the apple cart.

      Another good alternative might be to try Theriot out in LF, former SS seems to take to position moves easier than other positions. Scutaro has played some LF, but I prefer to keep him where he's more comfortable, given his age, changing things up might not be good for his body, though he handled 3B fine.

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  5. I wasn't sure where to put this, so I decided to drop it here in the most current post. Let me know if you think it should be put on another.

    http://www.bizofbaseball.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5719:mlb-mlbpa-come-out-swinging-on-testing-for-elevated-levels-of-testosterone&catid=30:mlb-news&Itemid=42

    Biz of Baseball reports on a joint statement by the MLB and MLBPA, discussing more details about how they test for testosterone, and the conditions for testing.

    I thought the details were interesting, go there for the full statement plus an interview with the testing organization.

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  6. Also, some news on Giants through MLB Trade Rumors website:

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/08/west-notes-felix-drew-giants.html

    Bochy was interviewed on MLB radio stating that Sabean is working on LF right now, but a reporter tweeted that Sabean says all is quiet right now.

    That suggests the scenario that Shankbone and I were commenting on above, that Blanco is the starting LF for now, but that the Giants are currently looking at internal solutions, starting with Gary Brown, though if a left fielder (or OF who can play LF) fell into their laps, they would not be adverse to him either. Or to Blanco figuring it out and taking the position by force with good hitting.

    Cody Ross has been mentioned before, but I thought I should note something I heard on Marty Lurie's weekend show last weekend: Ross would have to pass through ALL AL teams and then all NL teams under the Giants, in order for the team to pick him up again.

    Most probably highly unlikely, one should reasonably expect one of the NL teams under the Giants to pick up Ross, who I believe is relatively cheaply paid right now and performing pretty well. AZ, at minimum, out of spite, given the whole Gibson-Melky comment, plus they are not that far behind, Cody would make a nice RH power bat off the bench for very low cost.

    Still, got to consider it white flag time with their trade of Drew to A's. I guess Elmore is their new SS.

    Wow, talk about a candidate for PED testing, Elmore has been a pretty poor hitter for the past three seasons, even though he was old for each league, then suddenly he figures it out this season at age 25, how to hit for power and average. And I'm not saying he's cheating, only that with the Melky Way exposed, many are proposing ways to "detect" that there is cheating, and Elmore's performance would certainly fall under the suspect category of this new witch hunt. I mean, Elmore was so good that BA didn't even list him in the 2012 handbook, neither on the Top 30 NOR on their depth chart. He had basically zero prospect status pre-season, which makes sense given his poor performances previous to this season.

    Still, it is not like he was that bad either. His contact rate was actually pretty good in seasons past, as well as his ability to talk walks, usually at or above the number of strikeouts, which only the best hitters could do. Somebody maybe finally taught him how to swing better, a la Andres Torres, a la Ted Williams Science of Hitting, instead of slapping at the ball in order to use his speed.

    In any case, with his solid AAA numbers, no wonder the D-backs have been wanting to get rid of Drew's contract, Elmore has played well enough where he appears to be a certain upgrade over Drew NOW, let alone later.

    And lastly about Ross, we can still dream, can't we? Ross is Boss, Part Deux! :^)

    ReplyDelete
  7. http://www.csnbayarea.com/baseball-san-francisco-giants/giants-talk/Sutcliffe-Melky-should-be-deported?blockID=760577&feedID=2796

    OK, this is an interesting take: having Melky deported. Rick Sutcliffe gave that opinion.

    Not that I agree, but given Villalona's problems getting back into the United States, I wonder if a similar argument might be made by the State Department if Melky ever leaves the U.S. and then tries to return. Given his poor 2010 season followed by two much improved seasons, that could be a conclusion that could be reached.

    Now, deporting him is a whole another level of legal pursuit. From what I understand, there are Federal branches investigating him already, probably due to that fake website his friend put up for him.

    Given that many Latin American citizens have already been caught using but nothing has happened to them yet, Melky is probably safe, but given that he confessed to it, vs. blaming a children's cough syrup (cough - Mota!), that could be enough for some Federal official to exert their power and pursue Melky obsessively (like that IRS agrent who chased down Barry to the bitter end). Or maybe faking the website might have brought things to a new level.

    In any case, interesting twist here that Sutcliffe brings up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is the problem for Melky - it appears Novitsky is on the case again - although I have only seen his name in a couple of articles so far. But the guy needs a purpose in life, and a few scalps to compensate for no headway on Lance Armstrong might look like a meaningful pursuit at the moment.

      Delete
  8. More epicness:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120821&content_id=37098738&notebook_id=37118536&vkey=notebook_sf&c_id=sf&partnerId=rss_sf

    "The dual eight-inning, no-walk, 10-strikeout efforts Monday night by San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner and Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw would have blown plenty of dust off the record books in the pre-digital era.

    According to the Elias Sports Bureau and statistician Dan Peterson, it marked the first time in baseball's modern era (since 1900) that both starters in a Giants-Dodgers game met or exceeded those three standards.

    Bumgarner has pitched three games with at least 10 strikeouts and no walks. Elias found that no other modern-era Giants pitcher has recorded three such games in one season."

    I guess, in a perverse way, Melky getting suspended for PED usage, after being the All-Star game MVP, is a kind of epic (in a negative way) event as well.

    Along those lines, we also have Lincecum's pre-All-Star game pitching.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Giants win 4-1, takes 1.5 game lead now over D-dogs, and now will hold first place no matter what happens tomorrow.

    Lincecum pitched well enough for 5.2 IP, got a 4 PQS start, and was only one out away from a 5 PQS. Bullpen shuts down, with Casilla pitching 2 IP, allowing Bochy to mix and match otherwise to gain the win.

    Top of the order - Pagan, Scutaro, Sandoval - leads the offense again, and Posey contributes a 2-run single. Crawford also contributes offensively, and Blanco scored a run as well (but struck out twice) and I believe he has a 3 game hit streak as a starter since Melky went away.

    They actually sold out today's game, whereas there were a lot of empty seats in yesterday's game (sad for playoff battle, LA).

    Nothing epic today, except for the win for the series and now a chance to go for the sweep in LA with Cainer going up against Capuano, a lefty, which the Giants have beat to a pulp this season. Mattingly really should have pushed up Harang to face the Giants.

    That's something Bochy would have done - heck, he took out Lincecum today, very low pitch count, only the 6th.

    That's what won my admiration for Bochy, that he goes for the throat when the timing was right.

    Go Giants!

    ReplyDelete
  10. No evidence, but just a thought: anyone thinks that umpires might start squeezing the Giants because of the Melky advantage?

    The thought crossed my mind in today's game as the home ump was taking away the corners from Lincecum, but Posey complained about not getting the same call as he got a called third strike.

    Again, not saying that Cousins did (maybe it's something else, maybe he's related to the Cousins who ran over Posey?) do this against the Giants because of Melky, just wondering if anyone had the same thought, that what if an umpire feels the same way as Gibson about the fairness and decided to do something about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The home plate ump was so bad, especially to Timmy that he should at least be reviewed. Moreso, he should be investigated. I'm glad Timmy held it together with some pitches that should have been called strike 3's that were called balls without hesitation. Also did you see the K on Crawfords 3 pitch K. The ball came close to hitting the ground and it was called strike 3. Timmy was squeezed badly and I suspect it upped his pitch count quite a bit. At least he called the guy out at the plate with the Sanchez total body block.

      Delete
  11. Pagan is hustling and really showing up. I think he is our best bet to go Cowboy Cody Ross, as we won't be getting the real thing.

    I too admire Bochy going into win now mode. Pulling Timmy there was the absolutely right move.

    Pence is in the weeds. I have faith though. The LF is a conundrum, but Blanco gives some nice defense out there. Hector Sanchez looked to be pressing big time as well. I really like the defense substitutions, and Belt is a very very good defensive 1B. I don't think Posey can stretch for the game ender.

    Hope they can buck up with our ace versus their 4/5. Capuano is a nice back end pitcher, but the Gints need to get to him, and put their foot on the Doyers necks. Sweep time, something that has eluded all year.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm a bit concerned about Twitchy, and a little concerned about Chez3 as well...0-8 last night with 2 Ks, a FPOM, and a GIDP. SSS and all, but still worth noting as it came against a very mediocre pitcher that the rest of the lineup slapped around. That said, it's very nice to be going for the sweep tonight. Nobody with any real significant ABs vs. Capuano, save Twitchy who is 1-11 with 3 Ks. Looks like a game where Matty could get "Cained" again.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The idea that we do not miss Melky is just rationalization. There is at the moment a black hole in the lineup in left field. Blanco at least is a good fielder. Is anyone a tad worried that the giants have not yet had a hit against the dodger's bullpen? The giants hitters have failed to show up the third game of a series after they win the first two games, for almost the entire season. With the possible exceptions of the Cubs and Astros. No hitting is the classical "getting Cained" situation. I call it Cainzian baseball!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did not mean to give the impression that we do not miss Melky. What I was trying to say was that we can still win without Melky.

      We would have a superior lineup with Melky.

      However, Pagan, Scutaro, Sandoval, Posey, Pence, LF, Belt, SS is a pretty good lineup stil.

      LA has a good bullpen, you have to give them that. Bullpens can stop any team over a 3 game series.

      Well, the Giants hitters showed up today, and without Posey!

      On my blog, I said that getting Cained is now Cain taking care of the other team, not the derogotory way it has been used before. The Giants have been playing very good baseball since Cain spoke up in mid-May (see my box to the side). I think he deserves that much respect.

      Delete
  14. OGC, thanks for the great information. Richard in Winnipeg

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sweeeeeeep!

    Cainer cained the D-gers, PQS 5 start again! Giants win 8-4. And Arias took it to the Dogs with 5 RBI, funny how our two big RBI games in the past month were from Scutaro and Arias, our MI's. Pagan, Scutaro, and Sandoval did it again atop our lineup.

    Now we come home for 4 against the Braves, who have been struggling to find starting pitchers due to a series of injuries. Then six on the road against Astros and Cubs, who have not been that good at their homes. The Giants need to continue to put the foot on the pedal and gain more games over the D-gers, who face Miamia, then Rockies in COL, which is never easy and could eat up their bullpen, then the D-backs, who is still looking to get back into the running for the division, and need to pass up the D-gers if they hope to do that. They'll need to sweep to have a chance now.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Early leads, pressure on the bums, and pitchers refusing to give up free passes and knuckling down with runners on. Great series.

    Christian wants to rock that kind of defense, I can put up with some mendoza line batting for a bit.

    Casilla might be back on the mend. Just like Ol Barry Zito, I will never trust him. Speaking of his Zitoness, it would be nice for good Barry to show up for six, keep the ball down and pitch to contact. Hope he got the memo the Gints are passing around about the free passes being no bueno.

    It would be nice for the Gints to reverse these bad home jobbies and get a real streak going.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I was surprised at the Dbacks trading Drew. Does seem like a white flag, which... they're not that far back. However, if that's a caution, then Gary Brown is too. Seems apparent that putting him in LF is preparing for Sept 1 (or next year), but still, he's a rookie, and like AZ at SS, one should only expect competency. Be interesting to see what Bochy does - I understand he's only one of a multi-platoon and probably at this point no improvement, but I wonder what kind of look he'll get. The Giants obviously think very highly of him.

    The deport Melky thing is silly. Rick Sutcliffe is a loudmouth. Villilona (allegedly) shot someone. Not quite the same as testing for testosterone and being hapless. Still, if I were Melky, I'd winter in the US. You never know.

    And last, OGC - read an article on BP (?) about how there's deficiencies in Pythagoras, and it specifically mentions managerial skills. Wonder where I've heard that before?

    ReplyDelete

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