Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Done and Done

Wow, I knew that the season was reaching a crucial point, but did not see it crashing and burning so fast.  As Boof aptly commented on another post, the season appears to be done.  And the Giants appear to be acknowledging this by bringing up Brett Pill and Roger Kieschnick.

ogc thoughts

Everyone has their own milestone where they give up on the season.  But I prefer logic to have governance over that.  One of the great tools I've seen for managing a baseball season I learned from Dusty Baker (and I've seen references to other people using this tool, I'm only acknowledging my source) during one of his interviews long ago.

One Game A Week, That's All He Asks

Basically, the rule is to make up one game in the standings per week.  One of the best project management tips I have ever heard for breaking down a much larger project into an easily comprehended and calculated metric.  That helps players get out from under a huge deficit in the standings and be able to take a breath and not be as nervous/pressurized about where the team is in the standings.

However, the flipside of that is if you are more games behind than weeks left in the season, then your team is in a pretty bad position in competing for the division title.  And the Giants just passed that this past week, as they are now 10 games back (oops, 11 games...)  and there are only 8 weeks (roughly) left in the season.  While I never give up final hope until September and this rule is in effect, for me, now that we are behind by that much, looking ahead to next season while trying to be competitive should now be the focus.

I have seen a lot of people say that it has been over for a while - one in fact asked me to apologize for saying that the Giants still had a chance - so the above is the reasoning I use for guiding following my team.   There is no apology forthcoming.

Frankly, some of them are those I've seen before who said the team had no chance in 2010 and 2012, that the season was over, further, are people I've seen in late 2000's decade saying that the Giants were done and going nowhere, and they were clearly wrong, so why would I listen to them now?  And some were very rude to me but I've never gotten an apology nor do I expect one from people who are so delusional to think that people like me would now listen to what they are spouting off now about the Giants when they have been mostly wrong for the past six or more years about the Giants direction.  Just because they think the sky is falling and it actually does one time does not make them futuristic savants whose latest missives I should heed.

Not that you should heed my missives either, I wholeheartedly believe in sharing what information I know so that if I'm as delusional as others, I get pulled back from the ledge as well.  I think I've been in a good spot, the Giants weren't doing well, but there were some signs of improvement that I pointed out as positives for the future - and for all the Naysayers saying they called it, not all of you did because the pitching this last weekend was amazing and some of you thought they were done - that did not work out as I thought they might.  It happens.

I still have some hope of the Giants getting back into contention for the same reasons I thought that they still had a chance.  But we are so far back that we need to start at least figuring out some things for next season. 

Looking Forward

Lots of things happening, lots of things to consider.  Here are the ones I can remember:
  • Heston was DFAed and resigned with us, he's in AAA
  • Hunter Strickland was DFAed and still has a few more days before we find out what happens with him, but given he has been out since early April, I don't see any team dropping someone on their 40 man to pick up a still injured player.
  • Petit was surprisingly (to me) DFAed after his nice relief outing for us, so Shankbone's observation that Petit didn't have that great of stuff in spring training seems to be the best explanation of that move.
  • The Giants picked up Guillermo Moscosco from the Cubs for cash or a player to be named later, which is why the Giants dropped Petit.   
  • Giants activated Arias and optioned Dunning, who did a great job for us, to Fresno.
  • Brian Wilson had a nice session in front of MLB teams and a handful, including the Giants, are interested in his services and are serious contenders.  Still don't know if he's mad at the Giants enough to not sign with them - it seemed like he had burned that bridge already though - or if he's cooled down enough to be open to it.  However, a retweet by John Shea of a Tim Brown tweet noted that Wilson signed with Dodgers.  Hard to tell if that was a big middle finger to Giants or just the Dodgers love for ex-Giants (Colletti) and/or big stack of cash they have burning in their pockets.  Part of me was wishing he would return, but the poor homestand put the kibosh on that, he didn't work as hard as he did to return only to pitch for a non-contender.
  • Vogie still appears to be on track to return sometime in the first half of August. 
  • Abreu was placed on the 15 day DL while Tanaka was optioned to Fresno. 
  • Pill and Kieschnick were both called up,meaning Arias is the only backup MI.
Given that Belt has been struggling now for about a month, I would think that Pill will be platooning with him at 1B to give Pill some playing time.  I assume that Francoeur's and Tanaka's struggles with the bat is part of the impetus to calling up Kieschnick, but he earned his call-up by hitting really well recently, basically in July, and getting his strikeout rate down significantly, enough that it is almost good.  Roger was pretty bad in June and probably hence why Sabean said that he was not close last month.  Maybe Roger will start platooning with Francoeur in LF, it is interesting that the Giants kept Francoeur around given how poorly he's been hitting (part of it is that he's been having bad BABIP luck, he has a good contact rate with us right now, just not the batting line to reflect that; but his BABIP has not been good the past two years, perhaps that's not part of his skill set anymore, still, his contact rate has been great, maybe the Giants helped him tweak something, remember, players joining Bochy teams tend to add a win - altogether - per season).  That may have to do with the Pence trade possibility.

The beats say that the Giants are not looking to trade anyone specifically but are at the point where they have to listen to deals and see what they can get.  Sabean has already pointed out that Lincecum and Pence will get qualifying offers, which means that they get picks, and that sets the minimum bar for what the Giants would want for them.  Sounds like the Giants are unlikely to trade Lincecum however, while Pence is available for the right price, but the Giants appear to still want to resign Pence.

Rumors include:
  • Belt to Astros for Bud Norris (mere speculation, I think, due to Pill call-up)
  • At minimum, the Giants were "hard in"  on Norris previously, so that is something to note.  And the Astros are looking for at least a top prospect, so that means, for the Giants, starting with Crick probably, maybe Blackburn would be OK too, to start.
  • Lopez for prospects (more speculation since he's valuable to contender and a free agent after the season).
  • Reportedly, Reds are interested in Pence, as well as the Yankees, Rangers and Pirates. 
  • Scutaro has also been subject to speculation as well among fans, due to his age and contract.
I have not really cared for many of the trade suggestions/rumors.  I expect the Giants to compete in 2014 and trading away Lincecum, Pence, or even Belt would diminish our chances greatly, I believe.  That's because I still believe in Lincecum and Pence, and hope the Giants resign them.

Not that I think that they will be bargains either, I expect to overpay some.  In Lincecum's case, we just don't know what we are going to get.  I don't expect him to get any deal over $15M per season, and when it's that close to the qualifying offer, I don't see why the Giants won't just offer around that much if he turns down the QO and why he won't resign in hopes of rebuilding his free agent value with the team for one more season.  Meanwhile, I'm hoping he makes the transition in 2014 to pitcher from thrower, or if not, transition to a super utility reliever who pitches as short or as long and as often as he feels like it.  I'm willing to overpay 2014 in case he's that close, and I think he is.  If 2014 is another bad year, then I'll be willing to let him go.

Pence I think is way overpriced.  Not that great defensively, and really, his offense isn't THAT great, though good.  But the Giants offense cannot get any worse without hurting our chances in 2014 and frankly I doubt there is anyone out on the market that we can get equivalent production for cheaper cost.  So I'm willing to overpay to $13-15M per year for him for 3-4 seasons to retain his offensive production.

Belt I still believe in.  I understand some are frustrated, but just look at Matt Williams' arc, he took three seasons to figure things out, before busting out in his fourth season, so I would rather keep Belt to see if he can do that, he's actually hit much better than Matt did in their early seasons.  When there is the potential for a Votto-like player, I think you just have to be patient with him.  But Norris is pretty good too, so I would probably do that trade if it were available, but I have to think that they would want younger prospects for Norris.

Same with Sandoval.  I understand why some want to trade him (particular Shankbone), but guys who are potential 900+ OPS hitters don't grow on trees and while an offense with Posey, Pence, Belt is good, it would that much better with Sandoval.  I will put up with him and be OK with getting a draft pick for him when he leaves, that's too much risk to go long-term with him without a clause on his weight.

The two I am OK with trading are Scutaro and Lopez.  Scutaro the Giants really only wanted for two seasons, and he's hitting well, so if someone wants to overpay for him, great, take the deal, but it is only for so-so prospects, then that's OK, I would keep him.

Lopez makes the most sense.  He's a free agent and Mijares has done very well for us, so we have a ready replacement already.  Some are hoping for a bonanza like the A's got with Reddick, but really, that was just a fluke, like the Mets trading Kazmir, you have to be in the right time, right place, right players, right desperation/stupidity.  You don't hope to get such deals, you just fall into them.

Still, a shutdown lefty reliever like him was shown to be very valuable during the playoffs in 2010 and 2012, and a team might be willing to overpay some to get him.  He's the only one I would push to trade and do it for the best offer out there.  That would also free up space for one of our AAA relievers to come up and see what he's got.

With Moscosco in tow now, the Giants now have Bumgarner, Cain, Vogelsong, Gaudin, and Moscosco as the 2014 starting rotation, not great but not too bad either.  The Giants can now enter into negotiations with Lincecum wanting him to return, but not needing him to return. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Fanatics, Keep Your Dawber Up

After the nice run of wins, these two losses probably returns some to their prior glass is half empty mental state.  And I am starting to understand this phenomenon, why Giants fans get so down on the team even though the past four seasons have been the most successful period in San Francisco Giants franchise history, and among the best in Giants franchise history:  it is media driven.

It started long before it became a trend, with the bad road losses, when the Giants were 8-8 on the road previously and it was fully acknowledged that it was oddities to lose to Toronto and Colorado like that.  And it has spiraled downward, justifiably, ultimately, as the team succumbed to injuries that followed - which is the sole reason for the downturn, not that road trip.  Enough that one beat writer, who had not written for a long time on his blog, suddenly decided that the season was over, that it was time to give up.

And now, after a nice streak of wins, you get one loss to the D-backs, after a well-pitched game by Bumgarner, you get another beat writer talking about how the Giants don't have much of a chance of winning the division, because we would need to beat both the D-backs and D-gers to get the division title, and we are in even worse position to try to get either of the wild cards.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Bobby Evans' News on Players

Evans was interviewed, Schulman tweeted info, blogger covered the news and gave his views.  I think he did a nice job and a great service to Giants fans:  http://aroundthefoghorn.com/2013/07/19/vp-bobby-evans-on-siriusxm-on-vogey-pence-brown-and-a-note-on-romo/?utm_source=FanSided&utm_medium=Network&utm_campaign=Trending

ogc thoughts


Vogie starts rehab in AA, shoot for return in early to mid August.  To me, that is big news, it is not that far from now potentially, the start of August is only 13 days away.  At that point, the Giants will have an interesting decision to make:  who losses their starting rotation job? 

Before it was easy to say Gaudin, as we need a long man, but he has one really well for us.  I agree with covechatter that it might be Zito, though my speculation on my blog was that he could be DFAed at that point, as we are still at a full 40-man and Vogie is on the 60-day DL and someone would have to be cleared off the island to bring back Vogie.  If Zito is DFAed, then I think Kickham would come up and be our long relief guy.

About Pence, I took it the opposite of the author, I viewed it as more that Evans hoped that we don't go south and have to consider such an issue.  But I agree that it was a non-comittal to Pence. 

I think the Giants are still on the fence, Pence's cold streak lately hasn't helped his cause, if he were still hitting like he were in April/May, I think it would be likely the Giants do pursue Pence, with QO at minimum, but I think they have a price in their head that they won't go over, and are willing to let free agency determine whether another team overpays for him or not. 

I still hope the Giants pursue Pence and be in the mix, but I don't want to pay him the market value that his arb awards portend, which is $17M per year.  Astros really screwed up with him on his arbs, set a bad precedence, I think.  But a 3-4 years deal in the $13-15M per year range is OK with me, as we need at least two good bats in the middle, Posey is clearly one, but Sandoval's weight and injury issues makes him iffy, and Belt, while he could be that bat for us someday, I don't know if he'll reach that point by the end of the season.

About Brown, that's been the Giants position with all prospects that they expect to play a significant role on the team in the near future, they have said that about Wilson, Bumgarner, Posey, at minimum that I remember.  They want them getting a lot of playing time and focused on improving themselves.

About Romo, I didn't take that to be a not solid commitment to Romo.  I view that more as an organizational stance, much like how Beane thinks closers are fungible and easily replaced.  This to me confirms that the Giants do not share Beane's (or saber's) view that closers can be easily replaced.  This to me means that the Giants, once they found their closer, will hold onto him as long as possible (and productive).  So I did not view that as a slight to Romo relative to Sabean's statement about LincecuCame here to share this link:  http://aroundthefoghorn.com/2013/07/19/vp-bobby-evans-on-siriusxm-on-vogey-pence-brown-and-a-note-on-romo/?utm_source=FanSided&utm_medium=Network&utm_campaign=Trending

Evans was interviewed, Schulman tweeted info, blogger covered the news and gave his views.  I think he did a nice job and a great service to Giants fans.

Vogie starts rehab in AA, shoot for return in early to mid August.  To me, that is big news, it is not that far from now potentially, the start of August is only 13 days away.  At that point, the Giants will have an interesting decision to make:  who losses their starting rotation job? 

Before it was easy to say Gaudin, as we need a long man, but he has one really well for us.  I agree with covechatter that it might be Zito, though my speculation on my blog was that he could be DFAed at that point, as we are still at a full 40-man and Vogie is on the 60-day DL and someone would have to be cleared off the island to bring back Vogie.  If Zito is DFAed, then I think Kickham would come up and be our long relief guy.

About Pence, I took it the opposite of the author, I viewed it as more that Evans hoped that we don't go south and have to consider such an issue.  But I agree that it was a non-comittal to Pence. 

I think the Giants are still on the fence, Pence's cold streak lately hasn't helped his cause, if he were still hitting like he were in April/May, I think it would be likely the Giants do pursue Pence, with QO at minimum, but I think they have a price in their head that they won't go over, and are willing to let free agency determine whether another team overpays for him or not. 

I still hope the Giants pursue Pence and be in the mix, but I don't want to pay him the market value that his arb awards portend, which is $17M per year.  Astros really screwed up with him on his arbs, set a bad precedence, I think.  But a 3-4 years deal in the $13-15M per year range is OK with me, as we need at least two good bats in the middle, Posey is clearly one, but Sandoval's weight and injury issues makes him iffy, and Belt, while he could be that bat for us someday, I don't know if he'll reach that point by the end of the season.

About Brown, that's been the Giants position with all prospects that they expect to play a significant role on the team in the near future, they have said that about Wilson, Bumgarner, Posey, at minimum that I remember.  They want them getting a lot of playing time and focused on improving themselves.

About Romo, I didn't take that to be a not solid commitment to Romo.  I view that more as an organizational stance, much like how Beane thinks closers are fungible and easily replaced.  This to me confirms that the Giants do not share Beane's (or saber's) view that closers can be easily replaced.  This to me means that the Giants, once they found their closer, will hold onto him as long as possible (and productive).  So I did not view that as a slight to Romo relative to Sabean's statement about Lincecum.

And speaking of Lincecum, if anything, Sabean's statement could be construed like the Pence statement, said in a different way.  In any case, I think the Giants feel that they will be close enough to battle to late in the season for relevancy, and they can't do that without Lincecum (or somebody in his place) pitching well enough, plus there is the potential for Lincecum to have a really nice second half, much like he did in 2012 when he led  the rotation in ERA until his last two bad starts, where his stamina issues finally took over.  So it is very unlikely to see him traded, I think.

Plus, I think the Giants still hope to work out something with Lincecum, depending on what the market bears for Tim.  They are not going to go crazy, but if the other teams make reasonable offers, I can see the Giants upping the contract value to resign Tim. 

Plus, top relievers are getting $14-15M per year right now.  The Giants could structure the deal to pay him, say, $16M per year, with $1M added on for each IP threshold that he makes, so that he makes, say, $22M per year if he's starting, but making good money for a reliever if not.  Maybe starting with the 25th start to the 30th start.

I believe that he can be a great super-reliever once he transitions over from starting.  We could have a closer, like most teams, but Tim would pitch based on what the team needs at the moment.  If they need a long man in the 2nd, he'll pitch that game.  But maybe the next day, they need someone to come in the 5th, and he can bridge to the setup relievers if necessary.  But maybe the setup guys are struggling to shut down things in the 7th or 8th, and like how the Giants used to bring in Wilson in the 8th to get 4 or 5 outs, he could do that as well.  Or if the closer is struggling, bring in Timmy as needed, depending on how Bochy and Rags assess the situation.  He could also be our extra innings guy, going 3-4-5 innings, as long as necessary to get that extra innings win, shutting down the other team. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Pitching and Fielding, Intertwined

I was thinking about the Giants, and how the pitching is having a down year when I realized that defense is also part of the equation.  Could that be part of the problem?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Thoughts on Rotation Plans

Bochy released the Giants rotation plans.  To give Cain extra time, as well as Bumgarner with the All-Star game traveling, and Lincecum with his huge pitch count in his no-hitter, the Giants start out with Gaudin, then Cain, Bumgarner, Lincecum, and lastly Zito (of course), though technically there are two games that day, to make up for the rained out game in Cincinnati.

For that old fashion double header, Kickham will be called up to start one game, with Zito pitching the other start.  The first game will be considered a "home" game for the Reds since it is making up their rain out, and people were joking that since Zito has been hammered on the road, the Giants should start him in the second game, which is considered our original home game for that day.

ogc thoughts

First off, I expect the Giants to pitch Kickham in the first game, then send him down and pull up another pitcher at that point for relief.  Not sure who will be riding that Fresno-SF express, but bets are on Machi since I think his ten required days in AAA, after getting sent down, would be fulfilled by then.  Not sure who gets sent down to bring up Kickham, maybe Kontos, since he's been up and down this season, whereas Dunning has been doing well.

Second, people have been worried about Cain's health since he got bombed in his last two starts, and this move just fuels the fires.  The Giants and Cain have said that he is healthy and that there is nothing wrong.  However, Cain should have 9 days of rest between starts to July 19, the first game back, 10 days of rest for his scheduled start on July 20th.  And he didn't really throw that many pitches in that last start either, so it was not like it was a regular start, he got rest that day too.  There is caution about giving a pitcher more rest, and then there is CAUTION, and the difference between 9 and 10 days seems trivial - for a healthy pitcher. 

Third, I counted through all the starts and we have more home games than road games in the second half, 5 in total.  By positioning them in this way, Bumgarner, clearly our best pitcher now, gets the call for the most road games, at 7, everyone has 6.  It also gives both Gaudin and Cain 8 home starts, while Lincecum and Zito end up with 7, so that works out the way we want it too.  The only question then is whether Cain first or Gaudin first, and they went Gaudin to give Cain more rest.  I guess since the results are the same, why not give him more rest?

OK, here's where it makes sense to position Cain this way.  First he gets to pitch in first series against AZ.    Then he also faces Orioles, a tough team now, in the rubber game.  He also draws the first start of the Pirates series at home.  Then here we go, he gets to pitch in Colorado, then two starts later, AZ, following that up with first start of LAD series in LA, then first start of LAD series at home, plus the final game of the season.  That's 8 key/tough starts out of 14, and he faces almost every series against AZ and LAD in the second half.  He just misses the AZ series at the end of August.

And Bumgarner being next after him, he also gets AZ, Nats in DC, Pirates at home also, Rockies on road also, AZ at home also, LAD on road also, LAD at home also, plus he's available to start the first game of the playoffs since we make it that far.  That's 7 key/tough starts out of 14.

Gaudin gets 3 against AZ, plus CIN, BAL, BOS, COL twice, plus NYY, that's 9 starts against good teams, but he misses both of the LAD series.

Which means that Lincecum makes many of them.  Let's see:  Reds, Rays, Nats, BOS, Pirates, AZ, COL, LAD, NYY, LAD (yep, both LA series too, we throw Cain, Bumgarner, Lincecum against LAD twice in two weeks, plus a Zito start).  He has 10 starts against good teams.

And Zito gets the leftovers, however that works out.  Reds, Rays, O's, Nat's, BOS, Pirates, AZ, AZ, COL, LAD, NYY.  That's 11 starts against good teams, so hopefully he's ready to start another good run for us, like he did at the end of last season for us.

Oddly, our back end of the rotation faces more of the better teams, but less of our top NL West contenders, AZ and LAD.  And that is good, a loss to a good team outside of our division does not hurt as much as losing to any of our top competitors, who are the D-backs and Dodgers.   And it is not like we can hide Zito, he has to face teams too. 

The one thing that this means, though, is that the Giants can't throw in Kickham anytime in August to try to give the starters an extra day off, there are only one off days from July 26 to August 28, that's 33 straight days with only one off day within (and off days on July 25 and August 29).  Then the next day off is on September 16, 18 days later.  So that is a brutal run of games, that's why I thought maybe the Giants might stick in Kickham once or twice in that stretch to give the starters an extra day of rest.  But then that would screw up the order of Cain, Bum, Tim facing LAD twice near the end. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Tim Lincecum's First No-Hitter

Congrats to Big Time Timmy Jim's first no-hitter.  He did give up 4 walks but did strikeout 13.  He did it in a staggering 148 pitches.  He ended strong, at least for him today, throwing 91 MPH in the 9th.  He was helped by a 4 run lead after throwing 3 innings, 8 runs after 4, plus a number of great plays led by Sandoval and Pence in particular.

ogc thoughts

With this game, he fulfilled my hopes for him that I had after his third start, just as I had after Cain's first great start.  With stuff like that, I thought, he could finally get us that first no-hitter since The Count did it so long ago.  Of course, who knew that Dirty would beat the two of them to it?  Funny how life works sometimes.  Plus, it was the Padres again.

Wow, 148 pitches.  Saber brains are melting all over.  Of course, part of the calculus of this is that with the ASB, Lincecum will have about 10 days of rest between starts.  Another of the calculus is that The Kid's arm is one that is suppose to bounce back quickly from this type of usage, where he comes back THE NEXT DAY, and throws his usual routine of throwing pole to pole.

Still, I have to worry.  Cain has not been the same after his Perfect Game no-hitter, as while he has been a good pitcher, he has not been the elite starter that he had been for a number of years and was in the games prior to the PG.  And he "only" threw 125 pitches, which is actually considered OK by saber standards, BP noted that when rebutting Bill James complaints about their PAP methodology and theories (I agreed with Bill, FYI, I think pitch counts are over done but this is something pitchers don't do today).  Lincecum threw 23 more pitches than that.  Can Timmy recover OK?  One can only hope, given the extra rest and his ability to come back so fast.

Still, congrats to the Kid, I'm happy he was able to do it for the Giants, given that his contract is over after this season and could be his last with us.  I'm still hopeful we can retain him in some way.  I think he's one of the greats and I would like to hold onto him as long as we could.  I think he could still be effective for us going forward, but he won't be a top tier pitcher for us all the time, and that's OK, if he can be like this for us every once in a while.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Not the Time to Give Up

I totally disagree with the idea that it is time to give up on the Giants season. The Giants are only 6.5 games out. They were similarly out in August in 2010, if I remember right, and we still got the rest of July and parts of August to reach that point.

The Giants have been decimated by injuries to their offense, and then the pressure of trying to make up for the losses in the lineup. For the past two months, we had been either missing or getting poor performances from three of our top five hitters, Pagan, Scutaro, Sandoval.

Blanco has been OK batting leadoff, but Sandoval has still been rehabbing from his DL, like he did in 2011 and 2012, it takes him 2-4 weeks to get his first homer after returning, then he turns up the power. He just hit a homer last night, so that could be the sign of a hot streak for him. That would help the offense greatly, Pence was carrying the offense for a while, before the pressure got to him too.   Crawford has started hitting too, after playing with his finger injury from sliding into secondbase. 

The pitching might not be as good as seasons' past but still good. Cain hasn't been the same since his Perfect Game and I'm not sure if he'll ever reach his prior standards, but he's still been good, just not in his last two games. Extended rest - and lowered pitch counts -  should help him. Lincecum has been pitching better in his last four starts, just giving up a few too many key hits. He cleared his mind last season during ASB, leading the rotation in ERA for most of the second half before his stamina left him in his last starts. I expect him to be better too with rest, but more for his mind. Gaudin has been very good so far, been a find like Vogelsong was. And Zito is Zito, he was up to start the season, been down recently, I expect him to be up again soon as well.  And Vogie sounds like he's coming back early and does not feel any difference in his pitching, which is good.

The relievers haven't been the same since Casilla went on the DL. And no wonder, most teams losing their key right-handed set-up man will suffer, as there is not always that backup who could take his place. I was hoping Kontos could rise to the occasion, but so far nobody has, even Affeldt has been off. I wonder if he's still using that brace that was helping him last season - if not, maybe he should think about it.  But Casilla is getting close to returning, and that should return the bullpen to its normal configuration in the second half.

People note how bad they have been since mid-May but neglected to note that at that point, they were 8 games over .500 after only 6 weeks of play. Once we get some key pieces back onto the roster and performing as expected, we can return to some semblance of that team.

It is easy to rip into a team when things are not going well, but it was injuries that tipped this team into this morass, then over trying to make up for the losses of personnel and performance. Key people are returning and that should help a lot, as well as getting all those home games to start the second half.

Also, I would rather not trade Lincecum or Pence, two names popping up a lot as trade targets given how the Giants might be in a selling mode with the losing.

I still hope the Giants keep Lincecum, he's actually been pretty good overall, just giving up the wrong pitch at the wrong time. He fixed it last year, and I think he can fix it during the ASB this year. And I think he can be a super-reliever for us at some point in the future, capable of pitching a long game one night then returning the next night to shut down a rally as a set-up man, with little warmup, plus close when the closer had too many games or if the closer is not doing well, and reliever the closer, but if we trade him, he'll probably do that for another team.  I want him doing it for us.

And given how up and down Sandoval has been, I hope the Giants resign Pence as well, given that he sounds like he wants to stay here, that would give our offense more stability, I think.  I think Belt and Crawford will be improved as well, so that helps, but I think the money is there for Pence and Pence has been a pretty good player overall for his career and for us, he was carrying the team for the first couple of months before his downturn.  He gives us more in the lineup, I think, though with the possibility that Belt might be our starting LF at some point in the future, and maybe Brown or Peguero might push Pagan to RF in the next year or two, the Giants might be leaning towards not retaining Pence to keep space open for top prospects.

If there is anyone I would think about trading, it would be Lopez.  Not that he hasn't been good or that he's done anything wrong, just more that we have a lot of lefty relievers now, and trading him would clear $5M off the payroll, while giving Mijares a chance to take over an important role.  Affeldt and Mijares would be a good pair of lefties, we have gone with two lefties before. 

Now is not the time to give up yet on the Giants. That time may be close, perhaps as close as the start of August, but not yet.  Plenty of season to see before we can officially give up, I believe.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Will This Drop Turn Into a Storm? Panda Homers

What an ace Madison Bumgarner is!  Stops another four game losing streak.  And he's only 23 and we have him signed, looooooooong term.  And to think many people were very against selecting Madison in that draft, angry even that the Giants selected ANOTHER pitcher, when we clearly needed hitting (I'll admit wanted hitting too and wrote that the Giants better be damn sure about this but generally supported the pick; I can still remember the interview with Tidrow and Sabean afterward, and they said that they expected Madison to make the majors in two years, which is very aggressive and advanced, and dang if they were right!).  But I want to talk about the Panda in this post.

Many people have been (understandably) grousing about Pablo's lack of hitting, and the go to complaint is his size.  And it has costed him before, he was benched in 2010 because of that and publicly challenged by the team to get into shape.  And it should not too surprising that a guy his size is DLed that he'll gain weight, because the injury interferes with his exercise routine, particularly leg injuries. 

What I have been noticing is that each time he's been DLed, it takes him a few weeks to get his bat back into his Panda-licious hitting wonder.  After this homer, which has been a sign of him getting his stroke back in the past, I thought I would look at this pattern.

2013

After DLing and returning, he has played 15 games, hitting .140/.219/.175/.394 with a .182 BABIP during that streak, 14 K's in 57 AB, 2 doubles in 8 hits, plus 5 walks.  He just hit his first homer back.  This has been the worse he has been among his warm-ups to getting back into shape.

2012

After DLing for his second hamate bone break in two seasons, he played 18 games before hitting his first homer after returning from DL. In those games, he hit .292/.347/.354/.701 with a .365 BABIP, 14 K's in 65 AB (78% contact), 4 double in 19 hits (21% XBH), plus 5 walks.  In the next 20 games, until his next injury, he hit .284/.325/.554/.879 with a .300 BABIP, 12 K's in 74 AB (84% contact), 12 doubles, 1 triple, and 3 HR in 26 hits (62% XBH), with 6 walks.

After DLing for his hamstring injury, wow, didn't remember him being so cold so long, he took 32 games to hit his first homer.  From August 13 to September 18, he hit .237/.291/.288/.579 with a .262 BABIP, 16 K's in 118 AB (86% contact), 4 doubles and 1 triple in 28 hits (18% XBH), plus 11 walks.  He then hit homers in three straight games and for the rest of the season, he hit .318/.423/.636/1.059 with a .303 BABIP, 7 K's in 44 AB (84% contact), 2 doubles and 4 homers in 14 hits (43% XBH), plus 8 walks.

2011

After DLing for his first hamate bone break, he played 15 games before his first homer.  He hit .262/.281/.328/.609 with a .314 BABIP, 11 K's in 61 AB (82% contact), 4 doubles in 16 hits (25% XBH), plus 2 walks.  From June 30 to the end of the season, 78 games, he hit .326/.368/.606/.974 with a .319 BABIP, 38 K's in 282 AB (87% contact), 19 doubles, 3 triples, and 18 homers in 92 hits (43% XBH), plus 22 walks.

ogc thoughts

Looking over the various DL's, neither BABIP nor contact rate seems to be affected after his return, both show the skills that he had that season, it seems, for those two metrics.  The biggest difference is his power, as evidenced by his XBH% while still getting his bat into shape, and how good it is after he gets back into shape. 

Hitting his first homer seems to be a sign he's out of it, though there was one game for his second hamate break where he got 2 doubles, which is where I was going to start his good stretch, but decided to stick to homers for continuity of the stats across all the DLs.  Else, his bad would have been worse, and his good would have been better, as he got a number of doubles before the homer. 

So hopefully this pattern holds, and the homer he hit tonight is the start of a nice stretch of hitting for the Panda-meister for the rest of the season (health permitting). 

Cain Watch

After a nice string of DOM starts, Cain has had two bad disaster starts in a row.  So his lowered performance since his Perfect Game continues.  Hopefully, this upcoming long rest between starts will rejuvenate his arm some, he will get roughly 10 days between starts because the rain cancelled game dropped his last start of this half, giving him long glorious days of rest. 

Hopefully this will help his arm recover enough, but for something that has lingered from last season (though until the DIS starts, he looked like he might be coming out of it with some great DOM starts), I have a bad feeling that it will continue for the rest of the season, and hopefully, very hopefully, his body will recuperate over this off-season, which looks like it will be longer at the moment (i.e. no playoffs), will do his body good.  And there will not be any WBC to take away any rest either. 

Not that I've given up on this season, but right now, we need to focus on getting to .500 first, then we can think about making the playoffs.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

2013 Giants: June 2013 PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of June 2013, PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here (unfortunately, they removed the article; this link gets you at least to the PQS definition, read down to middle for details). I wrote on this first in 2006 and have compiled their stats on a regular basis, so I'm continuing it this season for continuity and historical comparison (there is the "PQS" label that you can click to see the old posts on this). Regular readers can skip to the next section.

This is the Quality Start with a sabermetric DIPS twist, and it gets really easy to calculate once you get used to it. I don't think it's the end all or be all, but then nothing really is that. It is, as I like to say, another piece of the puzzle. A dominating start is scored a 4 or 5 and a disaster start is scored a 0 or 1. DOM% is the percentage of starts that are dominating, DIS% is the percentage of starts that are disasters (any start under 5.0 IP is automatically a 0, or disaster).

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