Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Are the Giants out of it? Not by a long shot (and other clichés)

The San Francisco Giants had a bit of a hard home stand dropping 2 of 3 to the bottom dwelling Arizona Diamondbacks and the first game against the fellow playoff contender Colorado Rockies. The losses feel magnified this time of year and many are acting as if the air has been let out of the teams balloons.

I have a plan to shake people back into rational thinking like any good sports writer. It is time to break of the clichés to explain that the team still has a chance to make the playoffs.

The team has gone into a little bit of a funk and it is getting to the point where there backs are up against the wall, it just takes a couple of the leaders to step up and this ship will be righted. The baseball season is 162 games; it is a marathon and not a sprint. One game doesn't send a team to the World Series and the Giants just need to take it one game at a time. The veteran presence won't let this team get too down, they keep the clubhouse chemistry loose and fun, and it is one of the intangibles in a veteran team. They just know how to win and given the time the will perform. This team has fought too hard and has too much mental toughness to just roll over and die. If they give it 110 percent and buy into what Bruce Bochy is selling and play as a team this team can pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get back into the race.

Ladies and gentlemen that is a grand total of at least 17 clichés in the span of 173 words. That is an impossible task; I must really be on my A game today, but then again statistics can be misleading.
All joking aside if you take a sober look at the standings things are not that bad.

In the NL West the Giants sit 5 games back of the San Diego Padres with 5 weeks to play in the season. They have 7 head to head matchups which is more then enough on its own to wipe out that lead. This is by no means an insurmountable lead.

If the Padres blow it wouldn't even break into a top 10 list of late season collapses. That is not to say it is likely or easy but it is not time to count them out. The chance of a division title is still alive in the 10-15% range.

Things are even closer and more realistic is the Wild Card race.

The Giants sit just a game and a half back from Philadelphia Phillies. There are no teams that need to be jumped between them and the lead, to use one more cliché they have the inside track of all the teams chasing the Phillies. Getting past the Phillies doesn't require a collapse at all just a stretch of good baseball.

August has been a difficult month for the Giants but the schedule for September and October is set up pretty good for a final run at the playoffs. There are 30 games left in the season and just about all of them should be meaningful.


This is what you get when you type in a google image search for heartbreak:
This is what you should get:


Basically that sucked. Sucked real bad.

I hate the Rockies and their miracles, they always have to rain on the Giants parade.

Plus they wear purple, have a dinosaur for a mascot and they started the stupid vest jersey trend.

So much to despise, so little time.

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Late Giants vs. Diamondbacks Series Preview

A little late getting this out. Maybe getting it out at all will turn the Giants luck around.

I can't figure out this offense at all. It is all or nothing. Man shut out after 3 days of 11 plus runs and that outburst was on the heels of a 3 hit shutout too. Like they say "Giants Baseball... Torture."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Brandon Belt Scouting Report

Brandon Belt was an unheralded prospect coming in this season not even scratching the surface as one of the top 10 Giants Prospects. He was a 5th round pick out of the University of Texas and some thought even the 5th round was too high for him:
This was a surprising overdraft to me, as I loved what the Giants had done with their first four picks. However, Belt, despite blessed with exceptional size and good natural power, lacks the performance numbers or tools to be drafted this high. Since being drafted in the 11th round in both 2006 and 2007 (Red Sox and Braves), Belt has been a huge disappointment, with relatively weak hitting, making him going this high a big surprise. He's got good tools at first, and with mechanical adjustments, he might become a more powerful hitter, but it's just not likely.
Even Giants Scouting Director Doug Mapson didn't see Belt's meteoric rise through the system coming.
"Here's a guy who is 6-5, 220, who is a good athlete and a good fielder, has a good arm, he's just learning to hit and he's had moderate success. I think all the upside is in front of this guy… He might be able to contribute a few years down the line… We'll see what kind of offensive player he becomes, but anyone who thinks they can solve hitting in just a few years of amateur ball is sorely mistaken."

Well it seems the adjustments that have been made have done wonders for Belt who has hit at every level he has been to this season including a 1 for 3, HR(1), 2 BB, SB(1). BA= .333 night in his AAA debut last night. He was passed over by the majority of the scouting handbooks to start the season but now he is the topic de juor.

2010 Stats: .360/.460/.624 433 AB 66 XBH 20 Hr .236 ISO 84:79 K:BB 20/8 SB/CS .416 BABIP 33.3 GB% 25.2 LD% 41.4 FB%
When you put up numbers like that you are bound to be noticed, his numbers thus far eclipse even the chosen one Buster Posey. It is no wonder that he is building buzz and is in line for a September call up.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The 2010 Giants Offense, More Bipolar than Lindsay Lohan

My little league coach once told me that like a bad cold, hitting is contagious. Looking at the Giants offense my coach looks like a genius, the team is either hot up and down the order or ice cold.

The Giants average 4.425 runs per game but have only scored 4 or 5 runs 20 times this season. If you expect runs scored to be normally distributed you would expect these to the most common outcomes over the course of the season, they are far from it.

The standard deviation for the runs scored is 3.25 which is incredibly high for such a narrow range and relatively large sample. The team is like a classic true out come hitter, home run or strikeout, there is almost no in between for this team this season.

An amazing fact is that the Giants have been shutout 11 times this season, but have scored 10 or more runs 11 times as well. The G-Men have scored 3 runs or less 61 times and 6 or more 46 times.The offense has been very much feast or famine.

The Graph below shows the bipolar nature of the offense:

At this point in the season, one can only hope that the whole team keeps catching the hitting cold and stays away from the slump virus that has struck so many of the players during the course of this season *cough* Pablo Sandoval *cough*. Excuse me, but as I was saying more consistency would be quite lovely especially if it is of the scoring more runs variety.

In my opinion there is nothing more awesome then when this team plays great team Baseball. When they put together the great pitching with some hot hitters this team is very watchable, when they don't well just turn the channel.

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Re-Desinging the Giants Road Uniform

I am a fan of the Uni Watch blog run by ESPN columnist Paul Lukas and friends. Monday they posted the first set of entries for the “Design-A-Baseball-Jersey Contest” and in the first set of unis are two redesigns of the San Francisco Giants road uniform and yesterday there was a third take on the jersey.. While this isn't the usual fare that I write about I found this pretty interesting and this can be a good distraction if the playoff hunt turns for the worst.

I actually really like the current Giants road grays it is a very simple and classic look that to me is a very timeless look that can stand the test of time without constant updates. That being said I really like what these two guys came up with.

First up is a design from Chris Antipuesto:
Both Giants’ uniforms are classic simplicity, but their away sets needed more funk. The “San Francisco” script has never been used on a jersey and was long overdue. The black chest piping and the super-thick sleeve stripes are borrowed and tweaked from the late-80’s away getups I grew up watching.

This is a gorgeous looking set. The thick orange stripes on the selves and down the leg is straight out of the Humm Baby Giants. I like the use of the orange billed hat which has been nice to see brought back and I think that it actually goes much better with the road grays then it does with the home creams. Overall there is a lot to like in this design and I find it very appealing. If the team switched to these I would be a happy camper.

Second is a design from Daniel Chanelli:
Road jersey inspired by the 1933-35 set. Added piping to the front and moved the sleeve piping up a little. Ornate San Francisco script replaces the block lettering, with matching numbers and NNOB. Modernized the original Giants logo and placed it on the sleeve. I’d put this revamped classic up against the Giants current roads any day.
I don't like this one quite as much as the first design. There is something about the double orange piping on the front of the jersey that is distracting to me. I think removing the Name on the Back of the road jersey is a mistake, in addition I prefer the block numbers but these are pretty minor quibbles. I like how the designer brings back the 50's Giants logo that has been more or less banished to batting practice and spring training. It has a nice mid-century retro feel.

Lastly is a design by Andrew Grinberg:
The Giants are my favorite team and have the best uniforms in MLB, so no drastic changes. I have always loved the San Francisco script from the old batting practice jerseys and the sleeve patch is the perfect place to put the best logo ever in sports.

Like the others this design moves away from the block San Francisco and uses a more script like font with the traditional tail. After looking at this 3 times I have to say it is beginning to look a little bit too much like the Los Angeles road font for my own comfort. In addition I have to say that I don't like that he lifted the logo from the Warriors even if it is a classic. The Giants have enough of their own tradition that they don't need to borrow from there Bay Area brethern. This is probably my least favorite of all of the re-designs.

Overall all 3 of these designs are very nice but the only one that I would even really want to consider see replacing the current design would be the 80's inspired threads and think that is mostly for the memories of Will Clark that are invoked. It is a tough challenge to improve on what the team currently wears.

What does everyone else think?

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

6 Back, 6 Weeks to go

The Giants still have a chance to win the National League West but the window is closing fast.

After a hot July the team has had an uninspiring August and that is bad news because the schedule only gets less favorable from here on out with a bunch of road games a head which has been the Achilles heel of the 2010 Giants.

Time is running out on the playoff run, it is still possible to follow the old Dusty Backer rule of making up a game a week to get back into it the division lead but the margin of error has shrunk to zero. The Wild Card will also be a tight race down to the wire with the Giants fighting off two tough teams in the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies, honestly catching the Padres seems easier then fighting off both of these perennial playoff teams.

The things that give me night sweats are the road trips to San Diego (4 games), Los Angeles (3 games) and Colorado (3 games). These places have been a nightmare for the Giants this season. On the season they are a combined 6-11 on the road and overall are 13-22 against these teams.

So if things don't change against these 3 division rivals the Giants will have to really clean up against the rest of the schedule to even have a chance and hope the Padres finally hit a rough patch and come back to the pack.

Things were looking good just a 10 days ago before I went on vacation, I blame Las Vegas for this and for me falling into a pool with my iPhone in my pocket. Anyway here is the breakdown of games for September/October:

Rockies: 4 games 1 at home (carryover from August) 3 on the road

Dodgers: 6 games 3 at each

D-backs: 6 games 3 at each

Padres: 7 games 4 on the road, 3 at home (the season ends with SD coming to AT&T)

Brewers: 3 games at home

Cubs: 3 on the road

I didn't see that July hot streak coming after the nadir of the year so maybe this is a blessed season and the baseball gods will smile and this bunch of misfits/scrappy vets/ageing gamers/ DH Castoffs.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

The Giants Trade for Jose Guillen, YAWN

July 31, 2010 - Kansas City, Missouri, United States of America - 31 July 2010: Kansas City Royals designated hitter Jose Guillen.
First and foremost Jose Guillen is not the big bat that Giants fans have been looking for.

He is a mid 30's guy who swings for the fences. That is about all the good things that can be said for him. I am sure the thing that made Brian Sabean's eyes light up are that in 5 of the last 7 seasons he has 20 home runs and even topped 30 in 2003.

However after that he has very little value as can be seen in his WAR average over that same period is 1.46 with a 0.7 for this season.

He is not exactly a contact machine in fact he is pretty bad. He has a career contact rate of 78.9% and a rate of 78%. He has also been a bit of a free swinger this season swinging at a staggering 36.9% of pitches outside of the zone.

He has a below average walk rate, a career rate of 5% and at best a league average strike out rate that has hovered around 20%. This is a big reason for his very poor OBP which this season is a meager .314 that is Bengie Molina territory (he had a .312 OBP this season).

The other thing that would make this easier for me to swallow would be if he had some platoon splits and absolutely mashed against lefties but that doesn't seem to be the case. His career numbers show that he is pretty even against both righties and lefties. He has a triple slash line against southpaws of .272/ .333/ .466 and against righties he has a line of .274/ .326/ .456.

His defense has deteriorated to the point that in Kansas City he was primarily a DH, with the Giants he would most likely be put in right field, his career UZR/150 there is -4.2 not exactly a gold glove guy roaming in the biggest part of AT&T park.

That is pretty yawn inspiring, but that is expected when you are taking the rejects from a last place team that was happy to get anything in return for a guy they were going to put out with the trash. The other warning signal is that he has a reputation as a guy that is a bit of a malcontent but hopefully the push to make the playoffs and a good clubhouse helps counteract that.

If Guillen is a bat off the bench this is pretty good and he is a better power bat then what the team has available in AAA. In this role I hope he has lots of big hits and maybe even some walk off homers. That being said I don't really want to see him get many starts because as regular player he is past his prime and isn't much better then a replacement player.

UPDATE 10:24am: Bruce Bochy is saying that he is the everyday right fielder. Hand to forehead time. Bochy can't resist the veteran presence that he brings. That means Travis Ishikawa is the odd man out. The crazy thing is that they have about the same WAR value even with Ishikawa having about 300 less plate appearances.

I wonder how long it will take before he is hitting clean up?

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Jonathan Sanchez Guarantees a Giants Playoff Birth

July 28, 2010 - San Francisco, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - epa02264807 San Francisco Giants starting pitcher J Sanchez (R) gets a new ball as Florida Marlins Donnie  Murphy rounds third base after hitting a pinch-hit, three-run home run during the seventh inning at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California, USA, 28 July 2010. The Giants defeated the Marlins 10-9 in extra innings.

"We are going to make the playoffs" -Jonathan Sanchez, August 8 2010.

In a few months this could look good or really bad.

Sanchez is making a bold prediction not quite on the same scale as Joe Namath proclaiming that his Jets would win the Super Bowl but still a big statement with two months to go in the season and only a slim lead in the wild card.

It seems not only is he guaranteeing a playoff appearance but it seems also that he is gunning for the first place Padres. The road will be tough with a bunch of teams that are still in contention coming up for the team.

"San Diego has been winning series all year. …But we're going to play San Diego now and we're going to beat them three times. If we get to first place, we're not going to look back."

Sanchez of all people seems like a guy who can back up that statement; this is a team that he has thrown his no hitter and a one hitter against.

San Diego Padres242.70966.2402020526710.9909.62.73
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/11/2010.

Sanchez has reportedly taken some heat for these comments, but I would rather have a guy who is out there looking to take down the top team then a guy who gives us the same old tired worn out cliche that they "take it one game at a time" and "every game is important and every team is the same." It's nice to hear some real desire to get into first place and there is nothing wrong with some trash talking but you better be able to back it up.

I hope that Sanchez is right and that maybe this is part of him getting focused because this has been a major issue for him for his career.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What is a matter with Pablo Sandoval?

The lovable Kung Fu Panda isn't hitting and the natives are getting restless.

I am seeing calls for Pablo Sandoval to be sent down to Fresno, that he needs to be benched, that something must be done.

Looking at the stats it is not pretty: Pablo's battling Aaron Rowand and Freddy Sanchez for guy that is the biggest drag on the offense with a wOBA of just .303 and an OPS of .701.

Another big change is that his value as measured by WAR is basically zero. Fangraph's has him at 0.9 and Baseball-Reference has him at -0.1 for the season, a far cry from his 5+ WAR from last season.

What explains this slump? There is no shortage of explanations, it is the divorce he is going through, his eye sight issues haven't been fixed, his weight is a problem, he is just going through a string of bad luck.

I wish I knew the answer here but unfortunately it is unknowable wait that's not what bloggers do let me re-phrase that. I know the answer; he has pissed off the baseball gods. He needs to go all Pedro Cerrano and make some voodoo chicken sacrifices and wrap his bats in golf club head covers to placate them. He needs to don the stirrups and do whatever Babe Ruth did because you know he had a similar body type.

In all seriousness I have no idea what is the matter. Looking at his batted ball data it looks very similar to last season.











25.9 %

45.2 %

28.9 %

12.8 %




18.6 %

44.9 %

36.5 %

7.9 %




16.7 %

46.4 %

36.9 %

10.5 %

When you look at every thing it all looks about the same, slightly less line drives, a few more groundballs and fly balls, the only one that is higher is infield fly balls but still nothing that is horribly different.
















10.3 %

9.2 %












5.0 %

17.1 %












9.5 %

11.7 %












9.4 %

20.0 %












3.2 %

10.0 %










Looking at the splits by month it only gets more depressing. Since his awesome March and April he has been a bad hitter. Maybe the batted ball data by month will help out:













16.5 %

49.4 %

34.2 %

7.4 %

11.1 %

10.3 %




16.0 %

41.5 %

42.6 %

10.0 %

2.5 %

2.6 %




13.3 %

51.8 %

34.9 %

10.3 %

6.9 %

9.3 %




20.8 %

41.6 %

37.7 %

10.3 %

0.0 %

3.1 %




18.5 %

51.9 %

29.6 %

0.0 %

0.0 %

21.4 %

Again nothing jumps out at me that is different between April where he excelled and the other months where he has slumped.

I have no conclusion here, I am stumped, Pablo Sandoval you have defeated me whoops sorry not sure how that thought got in there, of course I know the answer. Voodoo or these steps from the all knowing wikihow (that's where I learn everything) I will just forward this to Bruce Bochy to share with Aaron Rowand and Freddy Sanchez as well.

Step 1) Relax. Don't get mad and stress out as you'll won't
improve and even -gasp- form bad habits. Just take a few breathes, count to ten,
and focus on the fundamentals.

Step 2) Take a Break. Continuing to do bad? Then it's time
to take a break, you'll be amazed how much this helps. Work on something else
for a while or take a walk to blow off some steam.

Step 3) Think. Try to think, try to correct what your doing
wrong. Go through the process step by step to see if you forgetting something or
doing something wrong.

Step 4) Change. Sometimes your body changes, and you just a
little taller or hit a little faster which throws off your game. Ask a coach for
help, and change up your swing. :)

  • Don't hurt yourself or overstrain yourself when following these steps.
  • it is HIGHLY recommended to ONLY do Step 4 with the supervision of a coach.
There you go, the internet has spoken.

Jeff Kent and the Hall of Fame

Me and the future Hall of Famer
Baseball Reference has a running topic on their blog discussing the Hall of Fame worthiness of players who are about to be eligible for the ballot.

Today it is Jeff Kent's turn.
I am solidly in the camp that he should be in the Hall and not just because I got my picture taken with him. His 6 seasons with the Giants were pure magic. I can still remember the short powerful swing that launched balls into the wide open gaps of AT&T park.

With him and Barry Bonds there was never a shortage of offensive power and unlike now a 2 or 3 run deficit felt like nothing and that it was just a matter of time before the Giants prevailed.

His numbers back up these warm and fuzzy feelings. He is among the best hitting 2nd Basemen of all time. Kent is in the top 10 for OPS+ for 2nd baseman, 14th among 2nd basemen in WAR, for batting runs he's 6th all-time among 2nd basemen.

Here are his number from his Giants peak:

SFG (6 yrs)90039033434570102124722175689364659.297.368.535.903136
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/10/2010.

He wasn't just a one trick pony either, he was a solid defender finishing his career right around average and during his Giants years finishing with a tally of 17 runs above replacement.

During his Giants years he accumulated 32.9 wins above replacement, second only to Barry Bonds over the same period.

He didn't always have the best relations with the media and left the team on not the best of terms but time has healed those wounds for me. I remember the good things that he did for the Giants and the playoff teams he helped lead.

He was a big part of the teams success, he played the game hard and deserves to be in the hall of fame. I encourage you all to go vote at Baseball Reference for Jeff Kent.

If your on Twitter you should definitely follow the The Crazy Crabbers. If you're not you should really consider joining, lots of good stuff going on there.