As the Giants are 3-0 since their last off day, and the Dodgers are 1-3 in their last 4, fans of both franchises have seen a separation starting to form with 30-31 games left to go. Nothing is done by any means, but the Giants now square off in a weekend series against the Cubbies who are 4-10 since their last off day, but had a nice comeback win over the Brewers in yesterday’s game, with the final score of 12-11. These are still games the Giants need to win, but beat writer Alex Pavlovic was noting on Twitter (above), the team is tired, since they got to their hotel rooms around 3:15 AM, I’m guessing local time, and they’re already in the locker room. Travel is a part of professional sports and it wouldn’t be the first time a team’s played lower on energy. They should still be able to get the job done against a rebuilding Chicago squad.
Friday, August 31st: LHP Madison Bumgarner vs. RHP Chris Volstad
One sentence summary: Volstad’s last start was his first of the year where he allowed less than 4 hits, and had no ER attached to his line, and MadBum would like to put his last start behind him, but he has allowed 15/19 of his HRA on the road this year.
Saturday, September 1st: RHP Tim Lincecum vs. RHP Justin Germano
One sentence summary: Germano hasn’t had many starts with the Cubs, but he has allowed a HR in four straight starts while never walking more than two in 2012; Lincecum hasn’t struck out more than 5 since July, but has also been able to keep the walks relatively down (6 in 4 starts).
Sunday, September 2nd: RHP Matt Cain vs. LHP Travis Wood
One sentence summary: Wood’s gone 7 IP in three of his last four starts, along with only two walks allowed in the last four; Matt Cain has done what’s expected against his last four opponents of HOU, LA, SD, and COL, so look for that to continue against the ChiCubs.
Another series preview, another one where Joaquin Arias has barely over 10 PA and leads the last seven for the team in wOBA (.623, .315 wOBA overall). There’s no one contributing to that level on the Giants, but after a series in Houston, you will have some guys that have inflated numbers like Pence (.437 wOBA L7, .327 overall), Pagan (.420, .338), and Belt (.406, .337), and will have a chance to improve upon those numbers against a group of pitchers that are a couple notches below the quality of pitchers more competitive teams might throw out there. Brandon Crawford (.117, .270), and Pablo Sandoval (.195, .335) have not really had their bats heard from in the past week, although Pablo did contribute to the win last night.
Former Top 100 prospect Brett Jackson (.603 wOBA L7, .346 wOBA overall) is lighting the way for the Cubs of late, with 3 HR in the past week, and having 4 in his 88 PA overall, but I believe the book on him was about him hitting enough, as the power and speed will be there. No one else on the squad is quite as hot right now, but Starlin Castro (.366 wOBA L7, .313 wOBA overall), and Luis Valbuena (.352, .303) have been healthy contributors of late as well. The slack has come from guys like Josh Vitters (.098, .139), and Darwin Barney (.133, .289), but at least with Barney, you don’t expect that to keep happening. Guys with more than 20 SB are Starlin Castro and Tony Campana, while you can look from their power to come from guys like Alfonso Soriano (23 HR), Starlin Castro (12), and Anthony Rizzo (9 in 236 PA).
Gotta say, I’m feeling pretty good about these Giants, so that probably means these predictions will be not be 100% correct.
Friday: Giants win (Chris Volstad, pretty much)
Saturday: Giants win (The bats relieve Tim Lincecum)
Sunday: Giants win (Matt Cain toys with the lesser competition)
I had been waiting for today for a while. This was one of those days you circled on your calendar, and I told my wife she had to ask for it off. Luckily, she was able to get enough of the day off so that we could make it happen. It’s not often I get this excited for a game in which the Giants aren’t involved in it, but tonight was a special one: Vin Scully Bobblehead Night. If you’re not a bobblehead fan like how I’m not a gnome fan, then I can see how that’s hard to get on board with. The wife and I hung out in Little Tokyo for a couple of hours before we headed over to Dodger Stadium, and even before the gates open we get to our spot in the Top Deck area and it’s all like:
A line? Man. I hate these. But unlike AT&T if you’re getting there 30 minutes before the gates open (I thought they’d open them two hours before at Dodger Stadium but apparently not), I wasn’t a half-mile away from the stadium to get one of 20,000 giveaway items. Instead, I was maybe 50 yards from getting one of 50,000 Vin Scully bobbleheads. I know I tweet about it a lot, but the Dodgers do giveaways right: nearly everybody gets one. Not “oh, you didn’t get here 1.5-2.5 hours before gates opened? Too bad, sucker! Now watch this base ball game on Scott’s lawn grass. Feed it!” Anyway, after some wait time the line starts moving I start getting all giddy like a little kid in my non-Giants gear (but I was wearing a shirt that said “San Jose” on it! Rebel!) as we get closer and closer. Of course my wife has to get her bag inspected by security because she brings a purse… like a girl! (Am I doing it right, @MLB?)
And so this happens once it’s all said and done:
I have never seen Vin Scully look so young. No really, I haven’t. But gosh darn it, he is just the most fantastic story teller I’ve had the good fortune of encountering and it really wouldn’t have happened if not I started dating a Dodger fan. Really, I’m quite stubborn and I love my hometown broadcasters, but I love listening to Scully talk and tell tales of baseball now and then.
The ceremony was really lovely — Mr. Scully’s family was out in full force, all wearing the home whites with “Scully” and the number “64″ to commemorate his upcoming 64th year of broadcasting on the back of their jerseys (this is to squash the rumor that Vin Scully was trying to release a MLB Broadcasting game for the Nintendo 64 platform). One of his grandchildren did the singing for the night, and Vin still looks to have a pretty good arm. I hope I can throw that well at his age, much less be alive, my goodness. There was also a video tribute to him in the middle of the game so the whole stadium could give him the standing ovation he deserves (he deserves one all the time).
For those that have never been to Dodger Stadium, the video below should give you a rough feel for it. This really is their fans at their best. This was taken from an iPhone on the top deck, and I would’ve loved to have been closer to the action, but I don’t have a job right now so unless you’re going to hire me on… nevermind that rant. Here’s most of the ceremony, take this in:
Just a great ceremony for a great, classy man in Vin Scully. If you haven’t heard him broadcast a game, you really oughta. Even with 30 games left, you still have a chance to catch an inning or so a night of him talking. I’m not asking you to watch a full game of Dodgers. Lord, no. You have things to do — like watch Giants games!
- When your kids ask you who they should marry when they grow up, tell them it’s Clayton Kershaw’s curveball. Oh my gosh that thing is gorgeous.
- I don’t understand how Juan Cruz is doing what he’s doing out there. Great story.
- Matt Kemp was out again today. L.A. needed someone that didn’t look completely lost at the plate.
- The wave… I don’t think it ever made it around the stadium a full revolution. I was very pleasantly surprised at this turn of events! It’s like you go to a baseball game… to watch baseball! (To be fair, if they did this during the breaks in between innings,then it’s whatever for me, but they usually don’t.)
- The “Let’s Go Dodgers” chant in the 9th was the biggest embodiment of a feeling for hope I’ve been hit with in a while. When those fans turn it on, they can be impressive. They just need to work together to focus on baseball, and their team that their owners and front office have been creating.
- J.J. Putz threw something to the tune of 11 consecutive strikes. I’m all for efficiency, but I’m also OK with throwing a ball so that you don’t end up throwing a cookie for Hanley to rip up the middle.
In the end, the lesser of the two bad guys won the game, and now the bigger bad guys are 4.5 games back of the good guys. Huzzah! May I also remind you there’s still plenty of games left, and the Giants and Dodgers play 6 games against each other still. This means if the Giants played nearly .500 ball (17-16), the Dodgers would need to be 20-10 just to tie, and the Diamondbacks would need to be 25-5. But that’s if the Giants play 17-16 baseball. Lots of “ifs” there, so let’s not worry about that just yet.
Coming into today’s games, you might be wondering how many games the Giants have spent in certain spots of the NL West standings. No? Oh. Well, here:
5th – 2
3rd – 12
2nd – 65
1st – 47
That’s right: The Giants have spent more days in 1st place than the Astros have wins. The Astros can officially be eliminated from Wild Card contention today with a loss and a Cardinals win.
You probably know very well that the Dodgers are behind the Giants by 3.5 games at the moment. Now for some notes on other teams!
Los Angeles Dodgers (70-61)
Matt Kemp’s day-to-day since yesterday after the Coors Field OF wall won battles against him, and for me his most recent one was hard to watch, just because of the way he bounced off and then falling to the ground. Kenley Jansen is out indefinitely due to a heart-related problem, and Chad Billingsley is feared by their CEO to be done for the year. As a rival fan, you are glad when the other team isn’t as good, but you never, ever, cheer for that to happen because of health reasons. Hopefully all of them return to 100%, because that’s the condition in which it’s best to triumph over your rival, right?
Arizona Diamondbacks (64-67)
They’ve lost six in a row and begin a three-game set against the Dodgers today. Being 2-8 in their last ten, you gotta figure they’re due for a series win, right? They are currently closer to the Padres in the standings than they are to the Dodgers. Like the Giants and the Dodgers, 3.5 games separate the DBacks and the Padres.
San Diego Padres (61-71)
Since their 5-game losing streak in mid-August, they’ve rolled off a cool 9-1 in their past 10 games. They have plenty of time to cool off until they play the Giants in the middle of September.
Colorado Rockies (53-76)
It got announced today that the Rockies will continue their 4-man, 75-pitch rotation setup for the 2013 season. Should be interesting, especially if they acquire a SP that can give them the more standard 5-man rotation. They are 28-36 since beginning their 4-man rotation in 2012, per @CeeAngi.
After today, the Giants are off to Chicago to play a weekend series with the Cubs.
Even since their time in New York, the Giants and the Trolley Dodgers never had much love for each other. It’s almost too perfect that one resides in Northern California, and the other in Southern California, bumping up the intensity of the NorCal vs. SoCal “who is better” cockfight that never seems to end. Thankfully, it’s baseball season right now, so everyone has their eyes focused on these two teams, instead of the Sharks & Kings, Warriors & Lakers (or Clippers), 49ers & Raiders (although nobody really talks about hating the 49ers down here), Earthquakes & Galaxy (or Chivas). Did I hit all the sports? No, I’m not getting into collegiate stuffs. Enough! This is a baseball article, gosh darnit, and this tangent has gone far enough.
The most recent blockbuster deal has been written about, and discussed about ad nauseam to the point that even the casual fan can probably name the two PTBNL in the deal. What is news is how much payroll the new ownership has added to their major league roster, including an international signing, and that money isn’t just for this year, but what the guys with the checkbooks are responsible for: $675 million. Nearly 3/4 of a billion dollars. The Dodgers have come out and said they’re not done yet, and while some might scoff at that because they’re right around the luxury tax line, it’s hard to see why they would stop. If you are being given just $175MM/year for 20 years, that’s just about paying for the current 25-man roster for LA. Now imagine if they create their own network and start making about $400MM/year. I don’t even know what you do with that kind of stupid money. Oh and if you haven’t heard, ESPN and MLB just extended their agreement to keep showing the sport of baseball for eight more years. So while the Giants will get some money, so will the Dodgers. Very likely the Dodgers will stash that to buy their bench players or something, if not used for TV stuffs.
So if you’re the Dodgers, and you want to flex your financial muscle, you’re going to outdo the Yankees’ nearly $210MM payroll. That probably means two more big names for the Dodgers — I’m thinking along the lines of Zack Greinke and they trade for a guy like Cliff Lee. They’re going to get annoying, and the baseball world will notice. I’m not arguing the Giants haven’t been anybody’s favorite team: some people probably not getting all the Buster Posey love, others who have never done drugs judging Tim Lincecum, and self-proclaimed douchebag haters blowing off steam every time Brian Wilson shows his beard with his face, but the Dodgers are going to get annoying a la the Philadelphia Phillies with a New York Yankees sized set of pockets. The Dodgers will win games, and plenty of them for the next three years. Will it end up in a/multiple parade(s) at L.A. Live? Who knows. Knowledgable baseball fans know the best team doesn’t always win it, especially with more teams gracing the postseason picture, so it really is anyone’s game within those ten teams.
Now, they could also become the laughing stock of baseball, like the Cubs or like the Phillies of now, but that’s less likely, in my opinion. They’ll be good for a while, and they’ll be annoying, being the organization nearly every casual fan wants their team to be: obnoxious, big pockets, and all about the short-term. As a baseball fan, how do you not despise that?… If you’re not a fan of Dodger Blue? Although, as a baseball fan, you are going to marvel at the product they put out there as long as everybody’s healthy.
Not a typo. That does say 88 losses. You may have heard the Astros are bad, but may not have heard that they’ve been this bad in 2012. It’s true — the Astros are 5-17 in August, and were 3-24 in July. That’s 8-41 in those two months and all sorts of bad. For the record, the Giants went 12-12 in July and are 15-9 in August. This series also begins a run for the Giants against two notoriously bad teams in the Astros and the Cubs. The Giants must win the games they’re supposed to, since they shouldn’t expect the Dodgers to wilt against the rest of the NL West. The Giants are 5-1 against the Astros this season thus far.
Tuesday, August 28th: RHP Matt Cain vs. RHP Bud Norris
One sentence summary: Incredibly odd, but Bud Norris has a 2.18 ERA at home, and a 7.27 ERA away, and normally I don’t bust out ERA for talking points, but I guess his pitch execution and defense are that much better at MMP.
Wednesday, August 29th: LHP Barry Zito vs. LHP Dallas Keuchel
One sentence summary: Progress for Keuchel as he hasn’t allowed more than two walks in a game since the end of July while Barry Zito hopes he doesn’t get blown up by Houston in their park for the 3rd time in 4 career starts at Minute Maid.
Thursday, August 30th: RHP Ryan Vogelsong vs. RHP Jordan Lyles
One sentence summary: 12/19 of Lyles’ starts he’s given up 2 or 3 BB so there’s that, and Vogelsong hopes to see fewer than 3 men cross the plate for the first time since his outing in St. Louis.
When Joaquin Arias is still your hottest hitter in the last week by the numbers (.607 wOBA L7, .303 wOBA overall) I’m pretty sure that’s “LOL” quality, but if you’ve watched him, he is making it look pretty easy out there. Angel Pagan’s return to the role of leadoff has been well spoken about and the numbers back it up as well (.463 wOBA L7, .334 wOBA overall). While you will take baserunners at any time, it is nice to start the game off putting pressure on your opponent, as we saw in the most recent LA series. Gregor Blanco, while maybe not what you’d classify as “hot,” is contributing again (.360 wOBA L7, .314 wOBA overall), which if you’re going to be a starter, is obviously pretty important. Power bats that really need to step up are Hunter Pence (.224 wOBA L7), and Pablo Sandoval (.220 wOBA L7), as it would undoubtedly be great to get some confidence in before they head back West from this Houston and Chicago excursion.
Chris Snyder has had 10 PA in the past week. He also sports a Joaquin Arias-like .624 wOBA in his past week (.287 wOBA overall), so I can’t wait to see how that continues. Jason Castro is also contributing a little bit recently (.351 wOBA in 12 PA, .305 wOBA overall), but from there it’s all below average production, which isn’t the biggest surprise for a 40-88 team, and a team that’s gone 5-17 in August. Scott Moore might embody the Astros’ season in his past week: 22 PA, .069 wOBA, -70 wRC+. Ugh. I’d guess Houston fans might be thinking some these guys can only improve… but if they can, let’s hope they wait until after the Giants leave town.
Hunter Pence’s homecoming should be a good one for the most part for the Giants, although I’m not convinced they’ll sweep. It’s baseball, ya’ll, and the Dodgers just got beat 10-0 by the Rockies of all people.
Tuesday: Giants win (Matt Cain doesn’t need to be his best)
Wednesday: Giants win (I can’t believe there’s someone that much worse than Zito statistically)
Thursday: Astros win (I think the Astros win one, just couldn’t figure out which one it’d be)
Baseball has a notoriously long season, so it’s easy for people to get tired of the regular season and start wanting to call things before even the first month of the season is over. We’re on the verge of getting to the last month of the season and before Monday’s set of NL West games this is what the standings look like, courtesy of MLB.com:
So there’s 34 games left, and now the elimination numbers will become a talking point for the sillyheads because if you’ll notice, the Giants need a combination of 33 Giants wins and Dodger losses over the course of the next 34 games to clinch a spot in the playoffs. That’s a stupid high number to start counting, so if you love “E#,” may I suggest you be concerned more about “GB” for the next three weeks, at the very least.
Anna (@SFBleacherGirl) created a great chart to educate the good people of the world about the remaining schedule of both the Giants, the Dodgers, and even listed their probables. This is great work, so take a gander at this:
You will notice Billingsley is not in there, and we don’t know yet how he’ll be able to contribute to the Dodger run, and these probables are certainly subject to change. Going by the stretches, here’s what I think:
Aug 27-Sep 12: The schedules aren’t all super different, but the Giants will have a bigger margin for error with their opponents than the Dodgers. I think the Dodgers will go 8-7 in that stretch, and the Giants will go 9-6. The Giants gain a game.
Sep 13-Sep 24: While the Giants are busy playing the NL West, the Dodgers will get to face playoff hopefuls in the Cardinals, Nationals, and Reds. This is the most important stretch where the two teams do not play each other. I think the Dodgers will go 5-5 in these 10 tough games, and the Giants will go 6-4, because they’re the Giants. They gain another game, up 4 games on the Dodgers with 10 games to go.
Sep 25-Oct 3: The Dodgers certainly have the easier schedule as the two race toward Game 162, and the amount of home/away games are opposites for the California rivals (3/6 for SF, 6/3 for LA). I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Dodgers go 4-2 in the first 6, and the Giants go 3-3, meaning the Giants would be up 3 games going into the last series of the season. I believe the Giants clinch this division by Game 161, and will do so in Los Angeles.
Something I think could happen is in the games beginning September 25th, Cain and Zito might switch spots. Imagine if you’re the Dodgers and your path to the playoffs has to go through Cain, Vogelsong, and Bumgarner? Yea, no thanks.
Could my predictions be wrong? Of course. Is this race over? On the contrary: this is the part where you start losing your hair, you say things you don’t mean to loved ones, and your household pets start hiding from you. So get ready, write those “I’m sorry” notes early, and most importantly, save up that money, just in case the need for celebration happens in October.
If you’re a baseball fan, unless you’ve separated yourself from anyone with internet access, you’ve been hearing about this blockbuster of a deal for the last 24 hours or so. If you’re from the LA Times, you’ve actually thought about this since Thursday. We’ve had plenty of time to digest what players would be involved, and really the only thing we’re not exactly sure of is the dollar amount that the Red Sox will cover. I’ve also personally wondered how the Dodgers finances with the luxury tax would go, and luckily there are people that know how that works.
A lot of people, Giants fans especially, aren’t sure how they feel, with the emotions ranging all over the place. While I can’t tell you how to feel, let me tell you what I feel:
How the trade impacts 2012: The Dodgers won’t get these guys
until Sunday at the earliest I believe until Saturday’s game, so the Dodgers will get 36 37 games out of Gonzalez, Beckett (6-7 starts?), and Punto for this season. Carl Crawford is out due to Tommy John surgery, so we won’t see him until 2013. While Adrian Gonzalez makes the Dodger lineup more formidable all by himself, he doesn’t all of a sudden make it invincible. After the Giants got swept by a team led by Kemp, Ethier, and Hanley, they returned the favor by sweeping them in their own house with the same team in Dodger blue. While the addition is scary, we should be realistic as well. All together, these guys may add 1-2 extra wins to their lineup than what they would’ve had without them. I do not think the Dodgers win the West this year, but I think they’ll be competitive for the 2nd wild card spot.
How the trade impacts 2013-2016: This is what Giants fans should be worried about and where the Dodgers get their money’s worth out of their players. Assuming good health, you’re looking at a lineup that has Crawford, Hanley, Gonzalez, Kemp, and Ethier. This doesn’t even include guys the Dodgers might add or bring up from the farm. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Giants play second fiddle to the Dodgers these years a la Nationals in the NL East, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see them and the Giants neck-and-neck again (Clayton Kershaw can’t do everything).
Important to note Hanley will be a FA in 2014, Clayton Kershaw in 2015, and Josh Beckett in 2015 as well. I think the Dodgers will hold on to two of the three of those guys. I’ll let you guess which two.
How the trade impacts 2017-2019: This is when the contracts are starting to end, and more importantly when some of the players start to get old. Carl Crawford (age 36, contract ends in 2017), Adrian Gonzalez (36, 2018), Andre Ethier (35, 2017), Matt Kemp (35, 2019), and probably Clayton Kershaw and Hanley Ramirez will all be in their mid-30′s (probably for CK and HR = if they’re on the LAD) and taking up from $100-$120MM of their team’s payroll. You may not be worried about guys like Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw if you’re a Dodger fan, but what about Adrian Gonzalez? Carl Crawford? Even Hanley Ramirez? I’m not convinced these every one of these guys are still amazing when we’re closer to the year 2020 than we are to 2012.
I don’t know what the Giants will be these years, and the climate of the NL West could be totally different — the Rockies could be relevant! — who knows! Maybe realignment will have happened! All you need to know is that the Dodgers won’t be as great in 2017-2019 as they will be in 2013 and 2014 for sure. So until the next couple years, enjoy the pennant race of 2012.
Ok, let’s make this quick. You’ve heard LA won the waiver claim on Adrian Gonzalez. They got it on Josh Beckett, too. They could also get it on Nick Punto (shocker). Then we hear this out of Boston:
Which is totally wtf material but whatever. If it gets done, I believe this is what the Dodgers’ payroll for 2013 looks like:
Jon Morosi from FOX was saying Boston would send the Dodgers money, probably to cover some of that over-the-luxury-tax-payroll. From MLBTradeRumors.com:
This whole thing could go to ashes right away with Josh Beckett turning down a deal or something, so you never know. This could be just crazy speculation, but this would be the trade of the season if it did go down. We’ll see. Until then, we wait… until Sunday morning when the waiver expires.
It appears the great catch Justin Christian made last night did cost him some playing time — 15 days at the very least — as he gets put on the DL with a wrist sprain. In his spot gets called up “Top 100″ prospect Francisco Peguero, 24 years of age. I put “Top 100″ in quotes because Peguero shouldn’t be expected to be anything a big contributor (now and forever, really) like what we’ve been spoiled with from guys like Posey, Cain, Bumgarner, Lincecum, etc. His role will be bench player that platoons against LHP, most likely. Referring to his MiLB page, .317/.333/.488 vs. lefties is Peguero with 2 HR in a very power and hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
The scouting report on Francisco on MLB.com looks like this:
“Peguero has tools galore and uses them with an all-or-nothing style. He’s aggressive at the plate, a free swinger who doesn’t walk but also doesn’t strike out, making contact with anything and everything. He runs the bases the same way and has the speed to be a basestealing threat. Peguero’s power hasn’t shown up consistently yet, but he’s got pop in his bat for sure. He moved over to right field last year, partially because he was coming back from a knee injury. His strong arm works well there, and he split time between right and center in 2012. More than anything, Peguero needs to refine his tools and his approach to succeed as he moves up the ladder. He spent three weeks on the disabled list in July with a side strain.”
Today’s lineup against the Braves looks like this:
As you see, Buster Posey is still missing, Brandon Belt has been moved up to 5th, and Hunter Pence is batting 4th. Both Belt and Pence didn’t look too good last night, and Pence in the LA series as a whole. Hector Sanchez has been abysmal lately, so Bochy’s being a bit hopeful here. Basically, you feel good about the top 3, and then hope and cross your fingers from there. You also hope the Giants play as well at home as they did on the road, granted they are playing a higher quality team in the Braves, who’ve lost 4 of their last 5.
Dear Sweet Spot,
If you haven’t already, I ask that you please read this blog post written by an observant reader (it wasn’t me), and continue to read the comments. The evidence of the problem in question is incredible against the person who might have done the act that I dare not say. I have seen a conversation of the accused with another baseball fan and they have continued to deny any wrong-doing and some of us beg that this writer leave the game, for there are so many hard-working writers that try to make a good name for themselves, and their reputations, as well as ESPN’s, are affected by his staying.
Thank you for your time,
An aspiring writer