Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Go Time! Key Matchups

Gabe Kapler has a nice piece on a key matchup: Aoki versus the Giants infielders.  Sandoval and Crawford get good rankings, 5th best in the NL at the position since 2013.  Joltin' Joe Panik doesn't have enough sample size to get ranked.  Belt is consistently down in the dWAR rankings and yet the eye test says something different.  The relatively immobile positions of 1B and C are tough ones.

Want a great preview?  CBS Sports surprises and pleases.

Looking for an advantage of lefties against Shields?  Not really there.  One of his big points of success in his career is being tough on lefties.

As always, how will Bumgarner come out the gate?  If he gets out of the first untouched, game on.

How will the Royals react if they get punched in the mouth?  They have been gliding along on a magical mystery tour, will it continue?

What's the Giants plan for shutting down the running game?  More throws to first?  That simple move actually helped the O's a bunch.  Will the Giants pitchers field their position well?  They did practice a bunch, except for Timmy Lince, who had a sore neck.

Lincecum - hype from fans or a secret weapon?  Only the pitcher whisperers know...

Royals pen is very good.  There are three advantages for the Giants: first, experience with the 4 savvy vets, second, the long man Petit and third, two reliable lefties for matchup purposes.  So a key question is how will Brandon Finnegan react?  Tim Collins?  Danny Duffy is being treated the way of Lincecum.  Will there be in-inning switches?  Or will Yost let his guy stay out no matter?  Bochy is pretty ruthless in the post-season on this front.

Giants went with 12 pitchers, Royals with 11.  Royals have their pinch running specialist in Gore as well as their defensive replacement in Dyson.  Giants counter with... Juan Perez.

KC was last in K's in the entire majors.  They will put the ball in play and pressure the defense.  Whoever can make the least number of mistakes will win the game most likely.  The Giants did this to perfection against teams that were favored to get to the Ship.

I think this will be a great series.  Giants have their hands full with a fast team that plays loose.  If they can steal a win on the opener, I do think it might change the dynamic and dialogue in a huge way.  But its a tall order.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Bare Bones For A Post On Best Record Versus Winning In Postseason - Mock Draft For 2015

Hey, another mock draft!  My MLB Draft picks... Los Gigantes taking Kyle Tucker, the prep OF lefty bat from Florida.  I would love that pick.  Dude is getting high praise, big time power and no strikeouts.  Big comps that I'm not going to repeat.  I bet he rises up.  This one had Dansby Swanson dropping to 17 which would be a big fat tease...

Some insight into Sabean from Carl Steward - I think its worth the read for a) acknowledging the Yankee connection, b) the pic of Sabean and Tidrow, c) some love for Jeff Kent, who was the real deal and d) a quote from Hudson that won't endear him to saber types.

You want a profile on Buster Posey AND some Dodger fan sour grapes?  Fangraphs has you covered.  Yours truly had to open his fat trap for a sec...

Here is the gist of his argument, which was proceeded by some chit-chat on Volquez over Cole, Matheny and Choate, you get the idea...

"For an 88-win team to get to the World Series, a lot has to go their way. Much of it is going to be of their own doing, and some of it is going to be the usual insanity that comes in short-series baseball, which is less about crowning the “best” team and more about rewarding the right team, the one that did what needed to be done at the appropriate times."

And here's what I said:
"Every team knows the rules, until they change them for other rules. Sabers and traditionalists seem to agree that the playoffs award too much randomness and don’t acknowledge the grind of 162 enough.
But what if the rules were different? Would teams adjust their strategies? The Dodgers, sitting at home by the way, were up six games on the Giants in the NL West. Within reason of the “small sample” series that gets sneered at by Billy Beane disciples.
The Dodgers and Giants played against some of the most incompetent teams in baseball though, as did the Cards with the Cubs, the A’s and Angels with the Astros and Rangers… counting wins as the defining characteristic has its follies as well if you look at interdivision play.
Teams since the 1994 season that were less than 90 wins to make the series: 1997 Indians 86, lost; 2000 Yankees 87, won; 2005 Astros 89, lost; 2006 Cards 83, won; 2010 Rangers 90, lost; 2011 Cards 90, won; 2012 Tigers 88, lost.
Ironically the Giants had the better W-L in 2010 and 2012, were almost universally not favored, and put the beat down both times. The Cards won two with less than 90 games, but they had the best player in the game (maybe a bit more of an argument during the 2nd one but slam dunk in the first).
Teams have to prepare for the grind and the sprint."

 And so... the bare bones of that old win-loss record.  Obviously B-ball changed a bunch when they went to the wild card in 1995 following the strike of 1994.  The Giants had to deal with 1993, the last pure pennant race.  They lost in part because the expansion Colorado Rockies folded to the Atlanta Braves.  The Braves won 104, the Giants won 103, the Phils knocked them out with 97 and were knocked out by the Jays with 95.  Who was the best team?  I'm going with the Jays all the way.  Why?  They had a shut down bullpen baby!  They took down the brass ring according to the rules in place at the time.

Why bother having a short tournament?  Well, each league has different levels of talent.  In addition, with the division play, each division has vastly different levels of competition each year, and the month of September is mainly inter-division games.  Or, as in the case with the Moneyball A's and their crazy win streak, beating up on an inferior division, as they whooped on the AL Central in 2002.  Here's those A's: Royals 8-1, White Sox 7-2, Cleveland 5-2, Detroit 6-1 and Minny, the only decent team that year, 6-3.  Now I'm sure I'd hear something along the lines of "they're just that good" or "good teams beat up on bad teams" but getting a third of your wins that way?

(I'm also digging around trying to summon the energy to do a piece on Trader Billy and His Bridge Too Far but its just a headache to wade through all those trades)

1995 (strike shortened at start)
Best 4 teams by wins: Cle 100, Atlanta 90, Boston 86, Cincy 85
WS: Braves Beat Indians

1996: Best 4: Cle 99, Atlanta 96, NYY 92, SDP 91
WS: Yanks Beat Braves

1997: Best 4: Braves 101, Balto 98, NYY 96, Florida 92 (Giants were 90)
WS: Marlins Beat Indians
This is our first hmmm...  to look at

1998: Best 4: NYY 114, Braves 106, Houston 102, SDP 98
WS: Yanks Beat Padres

1999: Best 4: Braves 103, D-backs 100, NYY 98, HOU 97
WS: Yanks Beat Braves

2000: Best 4: Giants 97, Cards/WhiteSox/Braves 95
WS: NYY (87 wins) Beat NYM (94 wins)
That was my favorite team of that era, but did I think they were the best based on record?  Hell no.
The Yanks went on a big losing streak at the end of the year, did that really matter?

2001: Best 4: Seattle 116, Oakland 102, NYY 95, HOU 93
WS: D-backs (92 wins) over Yanks

2002: Best 4: NYY/Oak 103, Braves 101, Angels 99
WS: Angels over Giants (95 wins)

2003: Best 4: NYY/Braves 101, Giants 100, Oak 96
WS: Marlins (91 wins) over Yanks
I didn't think this was that good a team either, the Felipe Alou 1st place all year long jobby.

2004: Best 4: Cards 105, NYY 101, BOS 98, Braves 96
WS: Sox over Cards
Sorry, I'm just not impressed by the Cards lording it over the NL Central.  They folded in the series.

2005: Best 4: Cards 100, White Sox 99, Yanks 95, Angels 95
WS: White Sox over Astros (89 wins)

2006: Best 4: Yanks/Mets 97, Minny 96, Det 95
WS: Cards over Tigers (Cards this year... 83 wins and most likely the genesis for a lot of the saber chit-chat)

2007: Best 4: Cle/Bos 96, LAA/NYY 94
WS: Red Sox over Rockies (WC with 90 wins)

2008: Best 4: LAA 100, CHC/Rays 97, Bos 95
WS: Phillies (92 wins) over Rays
The Rays kick this talk into overdrive taking on the Red Sox and Yankees, who are now in a spending war with aging cores.

2009: Best 4: NYY 103, LAA 97, LAD/Bos 95
WS: NYY over Phils (93 wins)

2010: Best 4: Phis 97, Rays 96, Yanks 95, Twins 94
WS: Giants (92 wins - 5th) over Rangers (90 wins - 8th)

2011: Best 4: Phils 102, Yanks 97, Brewers/Rangers 96
WS: Cards (90 wins) over Rangers

2012: Best 4: Nats 98, Reds 97, Yanks 95, Giants/A's 94
WS: Giants over Tigers (88 wins)

2013: Best 4: Cards/Red Sox 97, Braves/A's 96
WS: Red Sox over Cards

2014: Best 4: Angels 98, O's/Nats 96, Dodgers 94
WS.... ????  Giants 88 wins and Royals 89 wins.

So should Billy Beane be given a pass for his postseason failures?  Should we just not bother with having a postseason?  Should the award be given to the team with the most WAR?

Its a team game.  Everybody knows the rules at the start of the year.  You have to grind, and you have to sprint.  Beane is horrible at sprinting.  He's a good GM, but he's also had to only compete with 1 team at a time most years in the AL West, including getting past a choking Ranger team until they cratered with injuries finally. 

You wouldn't build a defense first team for Yankee/Fenway and the AL East bloodbaths.  You wouldn't have much luck with slow power hitters in the NL West.  Each GM and team has to compete within their division, then within their league.

That's my bare bones for the moment.  It pisses me off no end that Beane throws that line out there and it gets swallowed hook line and sinker.  He always has had flaws - inattention to fundamentals and defense.  Or a bad pen.  Or the latest, this hype about platooning.  In the postseason, the pitching is better, you can't manipulate through (as you see in stat lines sometimes).  It's the real deal.  In Tim Hudson's words... You got a jock strap on, and you're competing.  Beane got done in by his various catching schemes not having enough.  The excuse about the Soto injury is comical.  Lester looked uncomfortable as hell with the pitch calling and might have been shelled the next inning if Soto hadn't come out.

So you can imagine what I'll have to say about the Cespedes trade...

Something to do as I get nervous for the big game tomorrow.  The one that counts.  For all the marbles.  Go tell a player that they aren't the best team.  You'll get punched in the mouth.  This is what every ballplayer dreams of, coming up right now.  I think there is a ton of laziness going on right now - the Giants and Royals are at the forefront of new baseball - pitching, shutdown defense, baserunning, tight low scoring games and shutdown bullpens.  That's what's up.  The saber dinosaurs haven't caught up yet.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

BA Breaking Down The 2014 Draft

Great bunch of number crunching over at Baseball America with regards to the past draft.

Giants signed the least number of players (23 of 40).  This is an overall number, the number that counts a tad more is where they were drafted, and the Giants as usual got most of their early picks signed, the first no-sign was in the 15th round.  The average was 30 out of 40.  So this is a tad surprising, the Giants got a little chippy with risk and also went after more HS guys on the back end than usual.  Is this a sign they are happy with their system?

They decided to break it out in percentages, so the Giants 21.7% on 5 shiny yoots ranked out as 7th best in MLB.  This is a bit misleading, and a bit useless.  The shiny yoots are: Logan Webb (4th), Stetson Woods (9th), Luis Lacen (13th), Kevin Rivera (14th) and Byron Murray (25th).  I thought they had a shot at Timothy Susnara or Hunter Williams, but those lads will play for big time programs of Oregon and North Carolina instead.

First miss on HS signs was the 18th round Edrick Agosto, a righty out of Puerto Rico.  The other 9 attempts were in rounds 31-40.  The Giants do draft for signibility.  Either they determined they couldn't sign the youths, ran out of guys to draft and started throwing up attaboys (Benito Santiago Jr sure was one) or they didn't have enough moneys to play with once they finished with the big fish Tyler Beede.  They did spend most of their extra money on Logan Webb, and that looks like a fun place to park some dreams. 

I wish BA broke out the pitchers/hitters for each club.  Not enough lefties in my opinion!

In other news, BA traded out the 2009 class, 5 years out.  Gigantes get a C+ grade for Wheeler and Belt.  They gave out 4 A's (Angels, Cards, D-backs, Nats), 6 B's, 8 C's, 8 D's and 3 F's and an incomplete to the Mets because of Steven Matz.

I'd go up to a B for the draft, but Belt hasn't completed his jedi training.  Only 4 1st rounders can beat him in WAR score though.  And 2 of those are the names that gave the team's the A's: Mike Trout and Steven Strasburg. 

Last chance saloon coming for the 2010 draft as the 2009 one gets cycled out.  Brown, Parker, Duvall and Kickham are looking like throw-ins or cuts off the 40-man next year.  The 2010 draft was not a strong one across MLB.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Who The Hell Is Josh Byrnes?

So the Dodgers might be considering hiring Josh Byrnes for the GM spot underneath Andrew Friedman.  They have to hire somebody, its a subordinate position to Friedman obviously, and this type of positioning might be the wave of the future in MLB.

Giants fans are familiar with the name, he's GM'd two NL West rivals.  But who the hell is he?

Peter Gammons: "Byrnes is one of the most inherently civil, respectful persons one could meet."

Byrnes came up as an Intern with Cleveland.  The "John Hart" school.  He was hired as an assistant GM by Theo Epstein from 2002-2005.  He is part of the "Young Turk" movement of new age GMs.  In fact, if you put a picture up of Jed Hoyer next to Byrnes... Byrnes rose to scouting director of Cleveland in 1998, hired by Colorado to be assistant GM in 1999 until Epstein plucked him.  The Indians didn't have a high pick in 1999.  The Rockies in 2000 took Matt Harrington 7th overall, he didn't sign.  Its unclear exactly how much Byrnes had to do with the pick, but his name does come up in relation to it.

The new age GM loosely defined: Billy Beane, made famous by Moneyball, basically enforcing a set of policies put in place by Sandy Alderson.  Paul DePodesta, also got his start with John Hart, famously came aboard Beane's Fightin' A's as Scott Hatteburg helped them conquer the world.  DePodesta had a short lived shot at GM'ing the Bums in 2004-5 and has since settled with Alderson and the Mets.  Jon Daniels of Texas has been the most consistently employed, along with Andrew Friedman, formally of the Rays of Tampa.  And then there's the one guy who's won it all: Theo Epstein of the Red Sox, now trying to get the Cubs of Chicago relevant again.  His buddy Jed Hoyer was formally with the Padres, now is the GM in Chi-town.  One more "young turk" type would be Alex Anthopoulos in Toronto.

Brian Sabean runs though the entirety of this thread, often portrayed as the "anti-Moneyball" guy to Beane.  Sabean and Beane are the two longest tenured GMs at this point.  I think back to the brew up regarding Buster Olney writing that "Sabean doesn't return phone calls" back in July of 2010.  Here's what he said: Sabean also suggested there are some teams with whom the Giants have no match, some general managers who like to “throw things on the wall to see what sticks,” and that if he doesn’t return a call, his assistant Bobby Evans does.

I've always thought that he was talking about three guys: Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and... Josh Byrnes.
New age GMs are marked by a) being college educated, preferably Ivy League, b) handsome and well dressed, c) extremely sabermetrically and numbers oriented, and d) young.  EDIT: I forgot to add e) extremely good at cultivating good relationships with sportswriters and bloggers.  PR Friendly.

Successes?  The Red Sox took down the Brass Ring in 2004 and 2007.  Nobody can ever take that away from Theo Epstein, who took the reins in November 2002.  How much foundation did Dan Duquette leave him?  Debateable, but Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez were definitely pretty huge.  But Epstein made the Kurt Schilling trade, he got the two rings, and flags fly forever.  Big bold move.

Now... back to the premise of the post: who the hell is Josh Byrnes?
Hired away from Boston in 2005 by Jeff Moorad to run the Diamondbacks.  He inherited a farm system drafted by Mike Rizzo, who soon departed for Washington after being passed over.  He was fired in July of 2010.   So he was the man in charge for 5 years solid with a little periphery.
D-backs did the following:
2005: 2nd place in the NL West, 77-85 (2nd with a 406 WP!)
2006: 4th in the NL West, 76-86
2007: 1st place NL West 90-72, lost to the Rockies for the pennant 4 games to zero.
2008: 2nd place NL West 82-80
2009: 5th place NL West 70-92
2010: 5th place NL West 65-97

Notably Byrnes hired AJ Hinch to manage the club.  It was widely hinted that Byrnes refused to fire him under ownership pressure, which led to his dismissal.  This might have been Byrnes most notable move, promoting a manager with no previous experience.  Just like all GMs, he had to handle some meddling ownership: Jeff Moorad negotiated a Eric Byrnes extension for 3/30MM, not letting Josh Byrnes (no relation) into the room. 

What else did he do?  He traded for Dan Haren.  He traded away Max Scherzer.  The 2007 team, led by Bob Melvin, was a light hitting pitching heavy team, peaking at the same time the Giants were fading and the McCourt owned Dodgers were mucking around.  Getting Haren as another piece alongside Brandon Webb seemed like a good idea.  Trading away Scherzer for Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy was a creative 3-way trade in 2009.  These are bold moves.  Byrnes had trouble building a bullpen, one thing that his successor Kevin Towers had a rep for being able to do on the fly.  Towers declared war on strikeouts, and between him and Gibson, went on a all out rampage to acquire "Warrior Grit" that lasted roughly 3 years with initial success and then extreme flame out.

Quick look at his drafts:
2006 (w/Rizzo): Scherzer at 11, Brett Anderson 2/55.
2007 (w/Tom Allison): Jerrod Parker 1/9 (passed on Bumgarner/Heyward), Josh Collmenter 15th
2008 (w/Allison): Daniel Schlereth 1/26, Wade Miley 1S/43
2009 (w/Allison): Bobby Bochering 1/16, AJ Pollock 1/17, Matt Davidson 1S/35, Chris Owings 1S/41, Paul Goldschmidt 8th
2010 (w/Allison): Barret Loux 1/6 - didn't sign, became a big PR mess, Adam Eaton 19th round

Byrnes has his hands in two of the highest profile top draft pick not signing fiascos.  He got a big win with Paul Goldschmidt but wasn't around to enjoy the Lincecum show downs.  Towers eventually traded off Jerrod Parker, yet another trade with Billy Beane, who definitely has favorite trading partner status with the Snakes.

The contents of the Dan Haren trade: Brett Anderson, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, Dana Eveland, Greg Smith and... some cat named Carlos Gonzalez.

If you're going on a "keep your best talent" standpoint, Byrnes traded away all-stars in Scherzer and Gonzalez.  He got back Haren.  How you feel about Haren will cloud your judgement on that one.  Personally I think he's a inning eater type.  So ultimately I think Byrnes got the short end of this stick.

So moving on... More Jeff Moorad!  Moorad gets a stake in the Padres, one he had to ultimately give up.  He hires Byrnes again, here is a review of his moves for them.  First under Jed Hoyer, and then as his successor once Hoyer joins Epstein in Chicago.

Once again, there is a big trade that goes down: Giant fan favorite Mat Latos to the Reds for a big bundle of shiny prospectness: Edinson Volquez, Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxburger.  This should be a big fat lesson that a lot of prospects don't ever turn out.  Alonso and Grandal have been hit with PED suspensions, and a whole lot of struggles.  Latos has been quite good pitching in a difficult hitters park.  Once again, Byrnes gave up the best player.

He doesn't have a lot of time on the job in SD.  One thing that happened that was quite shameful was the PR stunt draft pick of Johnny Manziel.  This was most likely a ownership driven move, and it was piss poor, panned across the game.  Which brings up a point: how strong a guy is Byrnes?  He seems like he can get pushed around by eager ownership.  Now all GMs have to deal with this, and owners can be difficult and make boneheaded decisions, no doubt.  But to me, I just get the impression that Byrnes for all his hype... is sort of a vanilla type.

Let's look at the draft picks (and its murkier with Hoyer at the helm):
2011:  1/10 Corey Spangenberg, 1/25 Joe Ross, 1S/48 Michael Kelly, 1S/54 Brett Austin
2012: 1/7 Max Fried, 1S/33 Zach Elfin, 1S/44 Travis Jankowski, 1/55 Walker Weickel
2013: 1/13 Hunter Renfroe, 2/50 Dustin Peterson
2014: 1/13 Trea Turner, 2/51 Michael Gettys

I really liked that Renfroe pick!  The arms drafted in 2012 follow a doctrine preached by some as collect as many HS high upside high risk arms as possible.  The Giants picked next in 2014, they took Tyler Beede.  Let's see who gets lucky first.

He also traded for Carlos Quentin, and extended him to the tune of 4/34MM.  This looks to be a pretty meh deal, Quentin is oft injured and a pretty easy pitch around when it counts.

He traded off Anthony Rizzo for Andrew Cashner.  Another oft injured pitcher.

He signed Josh Johnson, a huge injury risk.  And he got... injured.

He also traded to get Ian Kennedy again (further proof of incestious NL West dealings?), giving up Joe Thatcher and Matt Stites.

He traded yet again with Billy Beane, getting a nice steal with Seth Smith for bullpen stalwart Luke Gregorson.

The big extensions?  Quentin, Cameron Maybin and Jed Gyorko are the big ones.

So he was fired for a second time, here's the fangraphs summary.  The Pads have finished 5th, 4th, 3rd and 3rd in the NL West in the past 4.  Its more Colorado and Arizona being absolutely horrible this year than any big move.

Conclusion: while he has had to struggle with meddling ownership, small budgets and possibly not enough time to really build his own vision of a club, Byrnes big moves have given away more talent than he's received.  He doesn't have any big wins in the draft, and he's actually punted a couple of times.  He appears to be a adherent of going after shiny bonus baby youth, which is highly volatile.  Mainly, despite a lot of hype about being a good baseball guy, its hard to get a clear picture of his personality.  Lots of other names mixed in with his, and he doesn't stand out for anything.  Its quite possible he's the next Dodger GM, although he would be completely subordinate to Friedman.  Dude sounds like middle management going for a middle management position. 

Verdict: not impressed, a bunch of saber hype.

The concept of stability comes crashing down researching this.  There are way too many twists and turns in the rest of the NL West.  Having the same manager, the same GM, the same ownership: huge advantage for Los Gigantes.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Giants Win The Pennant! Series Rundown #54

Bedlam

 When I started the season I expected the Gigantes to be good.  I was hopeful there'd be an extension past "51 of these"... But it's still wild, nothing should ever be taken for granted.  These are the Glory Days, and you don't know when it'll end so you best savor every second!  The Giants take down the Pennant for the 6th time in the City By The Bay.  The first 3 didn't go as planned, the next 2 buried those bones, we'll see where the 6th one takes us.  No matter what, there will be one more Rundown, 55 on the year, due to that Wild Card Play-In.  Baseball! 

Two wild card teams will meet.  2nd time ever, first time was back in 2002, Los Gigantes and that Damn Rally Monkey.

The Giants go through the Cards again to get there.  Since the ill-fated 1987 battle where Hack Man won the MVP in a losing effort, the Giants have buried those bones as well: 2002, 2012 and 2014.  The Cards are a great organization.  They however do not have the best fans in baseball.  The best fans in baseball are at 2nd and King, going nuts.

October 11 Giants 3, Cards 0
October 12 Cards 5, Giants 4
October 14 Giants 5, Cards 4
October 15 Giants 6, Cards 4
October 16 Giants 6, Cards 3

Tense and crazy series.  Each game turned on one or two plays.  That John Jay character sure is pesky.  Matt Carpenter can straight up hit.  Kolten Wong has a bright future.  Losing Yadier Molina was a huge blow, I think he would have been the difference in one of the 3 games in San Francisco.

The pens were both pretty good.  Defense ultimately let down the Cards enough for the "Cockroaches" to squeek through.  The managers?  Might be a little bit of advantage there as well, Bochy is hands down the best manager in the game.

Game 1: Bumgarner, all the way.  Giants scored on a Ishi bloop, a Carpenter error and a Belt Sac Fly.  Casilla slammed the door.

Game 2: Cards got homer happy.  Covered it here, lots of inside pitches to LH pull.  That game could have gone either way, the Giants squandered chances to add on, but give credit to the Cards for taking dead aim and letting loose.  Molina's injury had huge consequences.

Game 3: Bochy left Huddy in for the 7th, he had struck out Grichuk twice.  It didn't end well.  I thought it was a defensible move and based on his knowledge of his pen's energy level, but others have said Huddy was tired and hittable.  The Gigantes ultimately won with the ground attack of Crawford-Perez-Blanco in the 10th to walk off, aided by bad fielding by Randy Choate, one of only 2 lefties on the Cards roster.

Game 4: Vogey didn't have his A game, most likely jinxed by all the hype over his 1 run in 5 playoff game streak.  AJ Doubleplay did a flop that was pure circus act, he also singled in the 2nd run on a very high outside fastball.  It became a bullpen game fast, with Shelby Miller not up to the task either.  The Giants kept it close by responding in the 3rd, a 4-3 game that they then took down in the 6th.  The ground attack of Crawford-Perez-Blanco, followed by a Panik grounder.  All that on Matt Adams, who looks like a refuge from a rec league softball game.  (Dude can hit though).  Posey added an insurance run single that gave some nice cushion, and Casilla closed it out.  Special recognition to the pen, 4 dudes who have been there in spades for Bochy, and some extra: Petit for 3IP, 1 hit - stealth MVP on the team, Affeldt, Machi (1 batter, 1 hit, one Bochy trot), Lopez, a very sharp Romo and Casilla.  Romo and Casilla scattered hits no problem.

Game 5: Cards got a run on Ishi misplaying a hard Jay hit into a double.  Then Joltin' Joe Panik goes deep - such a cool story - he watched old tape of Mo Riv and Billy Mueller hitting off of him - keeping it fair unlike a splash hit in September that just missed.  We wuz barely done celebrating though when the Cards came back with two unlikely jacks - Adams off of Bumgarner, just like Kershaw it just doesn't happen against a lefty, and then the backup catcher Cruz crushed a ball to LF.  3-2 Cards.  It was getting nail biting, as Adam Wainwright was dominating.  8th inning, he's out the game... Nashek versus the Beast?  Beeeeeaasassstttt!  The ninth was a blackout of nail biting, Casilla was tired.  To his credit, he didn't let a mistake pitch beat him.  Sandoval dived for a ball and Crawford's awesome awesome b-ball instincts came to play.  You will not see a better play from a shortstop for many years.  Amazing to get the out at 2nd.  Then Casilla couldn't locate, so the bases got loaded for Affedlt versus Taveras.  Affeldt won the battle, he was Good Affeldt. 

And then... Travis Ishikawa.  Who knows the state of the Cards pen at the time, but it is an odd move to plug in a young pitcher who hasn't been seen for 3 weeks.  Wacha is crazy talented, but he's a starter, that's a lot to ask.  Maybe Mikey M knew his pen was shot at the moment.  Or he didn't have faith in Rosenthal, and I have to say, I wouldn't have faith in Rosenthal either.  Tough call but the Panda singles, Belt draws a walk (as he is apt to do) and then Ishi gets tired of having the most important walk in Giants history as the highlight of his jacket because walks are for wusses so he goes deep, deep, deep into the loud and crazy night.

Just a beautiful moment in Giants history.  Enjoy the hell out of it.

The Royals are going to be tough.  They are the most interesting opponent so far coming from the AL, and I think they'll be bigger challenges than the Rangers or Tigers.  They are also the team most like the Giants as far as roster makeup.  Its going to be a great World Series.  More on that later, love me some Lorenzo Cain, Hosmer and Moose are taking off the training wheels, Alex Gordon is the man - best LF in the game - and those 3 arms in their pen are insane.  Where the Gigantes match up as equals is starting pitching.  And then we'll get into the enjoyable debate of Bochy versus Yost.  Will there be any bunting?  Of course there will be bunting all over the joint!  Its the World Series.  Red White and Blue All over the joint.  And juuuuust a little bit of Orange.

Ishikawa earned an extension.
Petit earned an extension.
Sandoval definitely earned an offer of a 4th year from Los Gigantes.  His fielding is awesome, no doubt.  The market might have something to say though.
Blanco and Arias were under the radar signings that have really worked: unselfish role players who can defend the hell out of the ball.
The kids: Giants have 3 bats to slot in with Panik, Susac and Duffy.  That is huge if you are going to go look at payroll, them WAR scores and roster flex.
The redass pitchers: Vogelsong and Peavy have earned extensions for sure.  Giants are going to have to get creative in the offseason.

And Bumgarner had great things to say about his MVP.  Coulda gone to anybody.  He is a Giant part of this Gigante team. 

Kool & the Gang is cranking.  And you know this, man!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Giants Win The Pennant! The Giants Win The Pennant!

Ten sweetest words in the English language. 

Travis Ishikawa decided enough with being a Good Giant, and owning the most important walk in franchise history, he had to up his game...

Legendary.

Amazing.

Wonderful.

Los Gigantes Baby!

Giants Still Up All Night To Get Lucky

What a series.  The Cards keep hitting home runs.  The Giants counter with Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez.  Blanco is a grizzled vet at this point, and Perez is starting to get there as well...

Hey, I'll admit it, I wanted Gary Brown out there last series.  Bochy know best?  Usually...

Perez can swing a bit against lefties.  He can go get the ball.  He's fast as hell, puts pressure on defenders.  He's a great 4th OF.

Matt Duffy put down a great bunt on a high pitch.  That is ice water in the veins.  Great fundamentals, and it can't be emphasized enough how important that was for the breakthrough 6th inning.

Kolten Wong is for real!  Dude is raking!  I love to comp Joe Panik to him, because I think Panik is massively underrated.  But Wong is showing up big time, hottest hitter on either team.  Future is bright for him!

I'll also admit I was wrong about Yusmeiro Petit.  Soft tossing snickered I.  Well, he gets some of the best swing miss stuff on the club.  And he's been the man to go to in emergency.  I love, love, love Javy Lopez calling him "The Cooler".

Buster Posey continues to just wack hits.  No extra bases?  Saving it for a big moment?  Hunter Pence brought his A game as well.  The Panda, not so much, 2 GIDP's.  Belt couldn't get runners in with 2 outs.  But he plays a mean D.  You wouldn't see a screwup like Adams did from Belt.

Huge game to try and close out.  Bumgarner has to have a good first inning.  The Giants score first, the pressure can get to be too much.  But nothing gets taken for granted, the Gigantes did this to the Cards last year, Game 5 was the improbable Barry Zito game.  Everything was looking dire, he got a great GIDP from Lance Lynn's bat, and then the Gigantes poured on 4 runs in the 4th, capped by Zito dropping a perfect 2 out run scoring bunt.  Don't ever take anything for granted!  And the vet team put on their stoic faces, said the right things, just like that.

In other news, the harsh critics of Dayton Moore and Ned Yost are figuring out how to write snarky bend all over, back handed compliments to the guys... who just took down the AL Pennant!  Huge congrats to a young hungry Royals team that is on fire.  Alex Gordon is the dude.  Lorenzo Cain is looking like a breakout star.  Hosmer.  Moose.  Infante.  That pen!  The Royals look a ton like the Giants.  A big time pen.  Big time defense.  Enough offense.  Good pitching.  Love it.

Dayton Moore won the back end of the Grienke trade huge.
Dayton Moore won the hell out of the Shields-Myers trade.  I said a few choice things here and there on the interwebz about it.  Go compete!  He did.  Nothing shuts up critics faster than winning.

I wish Fangraphs still did org rankings...

Here is to hoping the Giants can get a game so I can yell the 10 sweetest words in the English Language tonight.  Come on Bumgarner!  Let's Go Giants!