October 2012

Baby’s First Parade

I tear up easily, so the title refers to me being the “Baby,” but I guess that might make a lot of us big babies when it came to the Giants, right? Anyway, it was probably unnecessary that I did, but I woke up around 4:10 this morning and made it to the 5:06 train out of Fremont to get to the Civic Center area. After getting there, my Dad and I walked along what we thought was the route, and then found the barricades, telling us we had found the real route. We found a spot, made a friend to talk to, and once things got going, had a really good time cheering for the people that brought us so much happiness and giving thanks to the people that support them as well, and really gets quite overlooked, in my opinion.

After the hours of waiting, we were given a show, as we were tossed candy, bags of chips, t-shirts, some towels were thrown out, and then the front office and players showed up. It really was fantastic to see all the people up so close in such a happy setting. (By the way, showing up at 6:00am on the streets basically guarantees you a front row spot just about anywhere on the route.)

Some of the pre-game entertainment in this video (around 30 seconds) and then some parade pictures:

6:00AM spot that shows you where the parade came from

The horses, which were actually really beautiful, had the SF logos on the back of them

The Legend

 

I told Affeldt “Thank You.” He acknowledged.

Madison “The Fixed” Bumgarner

For some reason this car was very handsome

Buster Posey in a very sharp looking car. He wasn’t hounded as much as Marco Scutaro because he’s just not postseason MVP material.

I have 192 pictures, but I’m not posting all of those here. If you have requests, let me know and I’ll send the picture your way! This really was a fun outing, and I hope we do this again soon.

P.S.: Credit to the SFPD who kept things in pretty good order where I was. People were pretty well behaved in my area.

The Worst Thing About the Parade

This was a great production put on by the City of San Francisco and the Giants. It doesn’t matter what time I showed up and how long I waited for the parade to start, it really that has no bearing on this article. There is so much positive material about this parade, and I will provide my own article on it to counter this one afterwards, but this is probably a selfish suggestion: if the parades are for celebration and for the fans, ban the sports journalists from interviewing the people that are a part of the parade during the parade.

Lady, I’m sure you’re a nice person, but get out the way.

 

More blockage

 

This shot of J.T. Snow would be so great, except there’s a media team in front of me.

Now, when I parked it in the spot I would end up standing at, I noticed the media trucks nearby, but I didn’t think about how I might be blocked by media. Cameramen, OK. People interviewing? Never crossed my mind. To be fair, these guys are doing their jobs. They did not decide to pick on the people in my area and say “these people look like jerks, let’s give them what’s coming.” They were given permission to do their thing, and I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt that they were going to try and do the best job they try to do to interview the popular role players.

Watching some of Fox’s coverage that my mom DVR’d, it’s getting me really mad that they also talked to the players before the cars got moving and yet they had to talk to them again near the end of their route while they were moving, and I know Fox was not the only network to interview players during the parade and probably got some other people upset. Personally, I believe this is overkill, and if we’re lucky to have this happen again, the amount of people interviewing and slowing the parade down should be reduced to optimize the enjoyment for the hundreds of thousands of people that came out to see their heroes, not to see their experiences obstructed because of the people with media credentials.

Connecting Fanbases: Does Every Fanbase Know a Current Giant?

Was trying to figure out if all 30 MLB teams have some direct connection with a former player being with their squad. I cheated a little bit and included Bochy and Rags, but have a look-see:

 

Mota’s so old he played with the Expos. Anyway, the answer to the question is no: no Angels, and no Mariners. Timmy’s well known in the Seattle area maybe that counts, I’m not going to count it officially though. Still, most fanbases might be able to smile for one of their former players, but I know not every player leaves their team with the best image.

Offseason: So What Now?

Confession: I wrote this post during the off-day when the Giants went down to Cincinnati 0-2. I wanted to be ready, but I’m so glad I didn’t have to dust this off until now.

Well, it’s over! Let’s talk about the things that happen from here. Get a drink, get comfy, because there’s plenty to discuss.

The important dates for the off-season roster construction look like this:

Remember the Pujols and CJ Wilson signings? Winter Meetings.

  • Who are the “eligible players” for the Giants to become free agents? That would be: Marco Scutaro, Freddy Sanchez, Jeremy Affeldt, Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera, Santiago Casilla, Guillermo Mota, Clay Hensley, Jose Mijares, Xavier Nady, and Ryan Theriot. As you see in the graphic, the Giants will get exclusive negotiating rights with these players first.
  • The Giants have an option on Aubrey Huff they will very likely decline, costing them $2 million (shortened to just “MM” from here on out), and then Huff will become a free agent. Barry Zito’s option is not until 2014.
  • The Giants can also “non-tender” a player so that they are not forced to go to arbitration court with them. That could be likely for guys like Eli Whiteside, Emmanuel Burriss, and Brian Wilson. When they do that, they can become free agents, but sometimes this is done with the handshake agreement that the player will sign with the team that non-tendered them.
  • They can go to arbitration with Dan Runzler, Sergio Romo, Hunter Pence and Buster Posey. They also might sign a long-term deal with two out of the four of these players (Romo, Posey), or settle for a one-year deal.
  • Should those players not agree to a salary for 2013, they will be on the path to arbitration court, which will take place in 2013, probably February.
  • Guys who could just have their salaries set by the clubs, or agree upon some fantasticly low number are: George Kontos, Hector Sanchez, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, I believe Gregor Blanco, and Joaquin Arias. Not 100% positive on the last two, but I’m sure we’ll hear more about them.
  • Everyone else that had extended time on the 25-man roster not mentioned is currently is signed for 2013.

So, what does the roster look like? It looks like this:

Now you’re wondering who’s going to fill some of these holes, and who’s available, right? Here’s your free agent tracker from MLBTradeRumors.com and you’ll see who the Giants might be targeting. But first, think about how the Giants got the new guys in 2012 (sorry, Affeldt and Lopez, you’re old) who they used this year:

  • Melky Cabrera: traded from Kansas City
  • Angel Pagan: traded from the New York Mets
  • Gregor Blanco: Minor League contract
  • Joaquin Arias: Minor League contract
  • Xavier Nady: Minor League contract
  • Jose Mijares: Picked up off waivers from Kansas City
  • George Kontos: traded from the New York Yankees
  • Marco Scutaro: traded from the Colorado Rockies
  • Hunter Pence: traded from the Philadelphia Phillies
  • Ryan Theriot: Free Agent ML signing

Like him or not, Brian Sabean and his group can construct a frickin’ roster. This leaves me wondering how he’ll do it again before the 2013 season. Will they rely on Brett Pill to be the backup 1B? Or will he pull a Minor League contract on a RH 1B to be Belt’s (and Posey’s) backup? Are there solutions in-house like Gary Brown, and Eric Surkamp? Will Brian Sabean and his group be the trading machine they have been of late, or will they sign a Name to a big contract?

Here’s what we could be looking at without any additional free agents being signed, roster and money-wise:

The Giants started 2012 with an Opening Day payroll of $131,355,298, and considering ownership has come out and said the $130MM mark is where they want to stay, the Giants have 19 spots filled (20 with Huff, but he’s getting cut), so they have 6 spots to fill with about $15.5MM. If Bumgarner achieves “Super Two” status, his salary will go from $750K to $3MM in 2013, cutting the wiggle room to approximately $13.25MM for 6 players (this assumes the bar is set at around 2012’s payroll).

Looking back at the depth chart of the 25-man roster, the Giants need someone at 2B, and probably someone to back him up. They need at least a couple outfielders. If Bochy wants his 12-man staff, he’s going to need a couple relievers as well. I expect there will be a lot of talk to trade Lincecum and Pence over the off-season, and all I have to say to that is, “we’ll see.” Nobody thought anyone would want Jonathan Sanchez, so you never know sometimes. Here’s what I guess will be the attack strategy for each position, assuming no trade goes down and there’s $15.5MM to work with:

  • 2B: Try to get Marco Scutaro for a one-year deal, around the $4-5MM neighborhood. They might have to lock him up for two years to get a deal done, though. Get The Shire (aka Mike Fontenot) back to be your backup if the Phillies dare let him go. Kelly Johnson and Jeff Keppinger probably end up being too expensive. I’d mention Freddy Sanchez but he might injure himself actually signing the contract.
  • OF: How cheap can you get Angel Pagan, for how many years, and is he OK with manning a corner spot with Gary Brown up and coming (or does Gary Brown even make it? Prospects are, after all, no sure thing)? Melky Cabrera is as good as gone, so forget that burned bridge option (I would want him back though). Scott Hairston would be a great target if the Mets let him go, and Jonny Gomes could be intriguing if the A’s let him go, too. Austin Kearns could be a name for a back-up role, as could (cringing) pie-thrower Juan Pierre. There will be cries for Cody Ross (and I do love the guy), but they will fall on deaf ears. Grady Sizemore would love to play but has just hurt himself upon hearing me mention his name.
  • Relief: Gosh, I hope Surkamp makes it back, I really do. I know I included him on the money list, and that’s me being optimistic. What if he doesn’t? That’s another spot that needs filling. It’s not like making a bullpen is easy, either, otherwise anyone could be a GM. People will want Jeremy Affeldt, but will they be able to retain his services? I’ll let you dream about Mike Adams, but I don’t think it’s happening. This is going to be where Brian Sabean doesn’t sign seven-figure contracts but gets the ST invites, trades for them, or brings up Heath Hembree from the Minors.

So, as you see, there’s a lot to be done, and there’s going to be a lot of hot air being blown around in the sports radio, twitterverse, MLB Network sides of the world, but Brian Sabean and his crew have a pretty crazy off-season ahead of them as they watch the likes of the Dodgers acquire every name known to the human race while, relatively speaking, they will be pinching pennies to create a roster that is once again competitive enough to make the postseason, and maybe even do this crazy thing again.

World Series Champions: The Guys I’m Happiest For

Every World Series Championship team has their fill of stories. Everybody loves it when someone has fought through adversity to achieve, because no one knows what it’s like to skate by the whole time and be successful!… or maybe no one I know. Anyway, those kinds of stories give people hope. Twenty-five guys on the roster, so I’ll try to rank who I am happy for the most, but let it be very clear: I’m happy for all of these guys. It may be of no surprise to you that the guys earning their first ring are the ones at the top of my list.

#1 Ryan Vogelsong: Do you need the background on his story? Didn’t think so. He joined the Giants in 2011 after they had clinched and just wanted a chance, and got it. Now, the man’s can say he’s been to the top with the organization that drafted him. He’s also a lock for the 2013 All Star Game, by the way.

#2 Marco Scutaro: This guy has been on plenty of teams in his career, and his only other postseason was with the A’s when the Tigers showed them the door. How sweet it must’ve been for this guy, the NLCS MVP, to drive in the winning run, and have so many of his teammates fight for him to get there.

#3 Gregor Blanco: You want Andres Torres version 2.0, here it is, your minor league player that hits more than a quarter of the time in the World Series and did just enough for the Giants in the absence of their All Star Left Fielder.

#4 Brandon Crawford: The boy that grew up a fan of the Giants gets to be a Champion with them. How many of us in our childhoods grew up with that dream? And he gets to live it? Awesome.

#5 Barry Zito: Well chronicled as it was that he was left off the 2010 Postseason roster, Barry really has been the type of athlete a fan wants to see during a time of struggle: keep working, don’t whine, and figure it out. He may not have figured it all out, but he figured enough of it out to have an absolutely stellar NLCS and WS, beating guys the national media, and some Giants fans, thought he had no chance against. Kruk even called him “the soul of the team” this morning, so you know he admires the guy, haha.

#6 Tim Lincecum: The Freak may have been the Postseason MVP in 2010, but anybody who paid attention knows this year was tough on Timmy, and seeing him not be himself in the starter’s role was so painful. While he may or may not have 100% been on board with the bullpen role, he thrived in it, and flashed the Cy Young stuff he tantalized opponents with in years past.

#7 Buster Posey: Two healthy years, two World Series Championships. If that doesn’t make this kid the Boy Wonder of the San Francisco Giants, what will?

#8 Pablo Sandoval: The fat storyline got put on to him most of the season, didn’t hit for power as well as he had in the past, and yet he dominated the postseason scene, with a historic performance in Game 1.

#9 Sergio Romo: The dude really hadn’t been getting enough credit for his art, especially with his injury risk and maybe even perceived lack of a “closer mentality,” and perhaps the lack of a legitimate number of LHH splits to warrant him being the high leverage pitcher. He was given his shot, and unless the dude at the plate was named “Hanley Ramirez,” he did not disappoint.

#10 Brandon Belt: He’s been put through so much garbage, I’m not sure how good he will actually become and if he even stays with the Giants as long as he’s supposed to be under team control. That said, I’m glad he got to experience success with this team even if he is always being tinkered with.

#11 Madison Bumgarner: A Cy Young candidate in the middle of the season turned into a work-in-progress, including his NLCS Game 1 start that left him needing to work on his mechanics. Luckily, the North Carolina boy that loves cows or something got it all together just in time to throw 7 shutout innings at home.

#12 Angel Pagan: He was with the Mets, and it was time for him to go. He comes over for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez who were heroes from the 2010 campaign and he has a pretty decent year, with his salutes and crazy routes to the ball in the outfield.

#13 Aubrey Huff: The guy is at the end of his career, and what better way to go out than on top. Hopefully all issues he had have been overcome as he rides off into the sunset, 2 of his 3 years with the Giants involving parades.

From there, I think it’s all equal love across the board for the guys like Affeldt, Lopez, Pence, Theriot, Arias, all important pieces to the puzzle. Huge credit should of course go to Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean for putting those pieces together and putting them in just the formation to succeed. What a year. What a postseason run.

Postseason Recap: The Most Important Things the Giants Weren’t Involved In

A lot had to take place to create everything you saw come into play from Game 1 of the NLDS to Game 4 of the World Series. I’m going to do my best to recap the important things that could have very well affected the Giants being in, and the Giants matchups in, the World Series.

Wednesday, October 3rd: The A’s complete their comeback over the Texas Rangers to win the American League West. This sets up the Rangers for a date with the Orioles at home, and the A’s going to Detroit for the beginning of the ALDS.

Remember this mess? The staff had to clean up the trash fans were throwing on to the field in a very unforgettable moment in the first official play-in game.

Friday, October 5th: In Atlanta, the Cards and Braves were playing until the Braves were up and it was all INFIELD FLY MOTHER EFFERS and the momentum of a rally seem stifled, and in the end the Braves lost. What if the Braves won? The NLDS and NLCS are automatically different. And in the AL, If the A’s don’t come back, they’re playing the Orioles. That could’ve changed things. Instead, the Rangers complete their fallout and Joe Saunders beats them and they play the Yankees as a reward.

Thursday, October 11th: The A’s forced the Tigers to use Verlander a second time, maybe more importantly the Orioles force the Yankees to use Sabathia a second time, and Lance Lynn loses a battle to Jayson Werth to send the series to a fifth game where Adam Wainwright gets lit up and has to wait until Game 4 of the NLCS to be used.

This image would spawn some pretty funny photoshops

Friday, October 12th: The Yankees outlast the Orioles for the right to play the Tigers, and the Cardinals complete an unbelievable comeback against the Nationals. That Giants-Nationals NLCS? Maybe another time. Obligatory “WHAT IF STRASBURG” sentence.

Saturday, October 13th: A day after winning their ALDS series, the Yankees play the Tigers, and lose their Captain in extras, after pummeling Valverde with internet sensation in Philadelphia FHOFRI (“Future Hall of Famer Raul Ibanez”). From there…

Jeter’s injury was but the beginning of the end for the Yankees

Thursday, October 18th: Max Scherzer and his Tigers finish the dismantling of the Yankees, beginning a period of wait that may or may not have had some effect on the role players that would end up going against the Giants.

So in the end, yes, this post was about how everything had to be the way it was for us to have seen what we saw tonight. Might they have won if the Nationals held on? Or if the Rangers had been the AL West Champs? Or if the Braves had actually rallied without that whole infield fly fiasco? Who knows. What we do know is that everything, every stressful pitch, every disputed call, and every over-analyzed decision turned out for the best for the eventual Champs.

Courtesy of ESPN

World Series: So That Was Something Else

Play that victory tune I like

I’ve been battling what my wife and I think has been a sinus infection, and alcohol really congests the heck out of me, so I haven’t been drinking like many other adults out there. I wish I could have had a beer or something, but the extreme feeling of happiness will do. I don’t know how we can process this, so I’ll just do a by the numbers thing.

0: Number of times the Giants lost in the World Series

1: Extra inning game in the World Series, and ultimately, the final game the 2012 season would see

2: Wins the Reds had against the Giants before the G-men charged back; the number of championships in three years

3: Wins the Cards had until Zito led the charge; also the number of innings the Giants trailed in the World Series

4: Wins against the Tigers in their first ever World Series matchup

6: Runs scored by the Tigers, tied for the fourth-fewest in a four-game series in MLB history

7: Consecutive wins the Giants ended their season with

11: in the morning on the 31st is when the parade will begin in San Francisco

24: Hits in the postseason by Pablo Sandoval, a club record

56: Consecutive innings the Giants were not behind

89: MPH that Sergio Romo sinker had to end the baseball season

See you at the parade.

World Series Game 4: This Could Be It (Chance One of Four)

You’ve heard about the San Francisco Giants leading the Detroit Tigers 3-0 and the history in the World Series that teams with 3-0 leads have never gone further than 5 games. 20 of those 23 teams swept. I don’t care much for “it’s never happened before therefore it can never happen again” type talk, so let’s talk about what has happened: The Giants have lost 4 in a row two times this year, the Tigers have won 4 in a row eight times (seven times in the regular season, once in the postseason). The Giants know as well as anybody that a team with its back against the wall like the Tigers are capable of lighting it up at any time… getting hot, that’s what the postseason is all about, isn’t it?

Anyway, the lineups. The Giants with a new DH blessing their 8 spot:

 

Ryan Theriot has the slash line that would tell you things could be alright in .269/.314/.308, but obviously he hasn’t done much power against RHP, including a .279 wOBA against and a 76 wRC+ vs. RHP. Not really all that inspiring, but I will say it’s probably going to be better than what Hector Sanchez could do.

The Tigers and some notes from them:

 

It was going to be the normal Tigers lineup vs. a RHP, but now Gerald Laird will take Avila’s spot in the lineup. Gerald Laird, as you may remember, does not throw out basestealers at as good of a rate as Avila, so this could be a break for the Giants.

5:15PM PST first pitch on FOX. No matter what the score is in tonight’s game, or in any of the if necessary games, it is not over until the final out is recorded. Hopefully the baseball season ends tonight.

Go Giants.

World Series: Game 3 Lineups Have a Different Look

Perhaps the only thing more documented than Anibal Sanchez’s career numbers against the Giants and the fact that Tigers hit RHP better than LHP is the fact that we are now playing by American League rules. American League rules mean we get that Designated Hitter spot in the lineup. We heard yesterday that Bruce Bochy was leaning Hector Sanchez for the DH, and you only have to look to Game 3 of the ALCS to guess what Jimmy Leyland’s going to throw out there on the lineup card.

The visiting Giants are throwing out this lineup:

 

*Blet!* Bochy has split up the straight line of LHH at the bottom of the lineup by putting Sanchez in the 8 spot just in case Leyland might try to neutralize that spot with someone like Smyly or Coke later in the game. Could’ve done the same thing with Arias, but it is what it is.

While the Tigers are throwing out this unsurprising lineup:

 

Exact same thing as that lineup linked in the first paragraph, and as you’ll notice, the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th spots are all LHH, so their lineup goes R-L-R-L-R-L-R-L-R repeat, so no complaining from Tiger fans when Bruce Bochy walks to the mound after every batter in the 8th, because Leyland brought it upon himself!

————————

Familiar Formula: It’s also been no secret that the Giants starting pitching has saved the team and their fanbase from either abandoning baseball or watching the World Series with slumpy shoulders, to having a two-game advantage over their opponent in the Fall Classic. A look at the line scores for the rotation, with two starts from the very rich, and very omelettey Barry Zito:

NLCS Game 5, Zito: 7.2 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 6 K’s, 115 pitches, Game Score 72

NLCS Game 6, Vogey: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 9 K’s, 102 pitches, GS 73

NLCS Game 7, Cain: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 4 K’s, 102 pitches, GS 62

WS Game 1, Zito: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 3 K’s, 81 pitches, GS 55

WS Game 2, MadBum: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 8 K’s, 86 pitches, GS 79

Combined, 5 GS: 33.0 IP, 23 H, 6 BB, 30 K’s

If you’ve listened to Mike Krukow, you’ve heard him enjoy talking about WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched), and while it’s not my favorite method of evaluating pitchers, you notice that have less than a baserunner an inning allowed is pretty good when you’re going against teams in the postseason. If Vogelsong and Cain can continue their dominance of their opponent that Giants SP have established in the last five starts and not get Cain’d, the Giants could very well be looking at the improbable and very preferable sweep of the AL Champion Tigers.

Anibal Sanchez vs. the Giants

Game 3 SP Anibal Sanchez, courtesy of Leon Halip/Getty Images

You’ve heard the bad news: Anibal (I do not believe it’s pronounced “Anibelle” by the way) Sanchez is starting Game 3. He’s thrown 36.1 innings against the Giants in his career, and has a 1.98 ERA against them. Yikes! 31 strikeouts and 7 walks against them as well — uh oh! This is a post to tell you that yes, though Anibal Sanchez is good, we really need everyone to calm the f down, while also realizing that this year RHH have actually hit him better than LHH (thanks to @hangingsliders for the observation), and the dude at McCovey Chronicles scarily told us about Sanchez’s fastball is slowly getting faster as you can see in this chart here. Anibal has faced the Giants five times. All matchups were while Sanchez was still a young Marlin before he got promoted to being a Tiger. I’m going to show you the boxscores from the Giants lineups just to make a point that maybe any panic/narrative of dominance should be pushed down.

2010 on May 4th (9-6 Giants in 12 innings) and July 29th (5-0 Marlins):

 

Matt Downs started a game for a team that eventually won the World Series, haha.

Now for the one game in 2011, on May 26th against Ryan Vogelsong, also known as “the day after the unspeakable incident” which ended in a 1-0 victory for Florida:

 

Who let that Miguel Tejada in the lineup?!

And for the most recent matchups on May 3rd and May 24th, both against Ryan Vogelsong, where the results were 3-2 Miami, and 14-7 San Francisco, respectively.

 

 

Conor Gillaspie, Melky Cabrera, Emmanuel Burriss, Joaquin Arias all in the lineup, and all are not scheduled to be in the starting lineup against Anibal Sanchez tomorrow… though you never know… Burriss could sneak in there! In the 2012 games, 5 hits and 2 ER were not allowed by Anibal Sanchez but by those that took his place.

In 2010 and 2011 in games that Anibal pitched pretty well, only one position player from those box scores will be in the starting lineup and only one other will be on the roster, and that would be Pablo Sandoval (from 2010) and Aubrey Huff (now riding the pine).

So even with Anibal Sanchez having a 4.38 ERA in 12.1 IP against the Giants in 2012, it still isn’t the greatest representation of what to expect because of the obvious small sample size, and then only five of the nine starters in tomorrow’s lineup will have seen him in 2012. The Giants obviously want to win tomorrow’s game with Scherzer and possibly Verlander on the horizon, but this game is much less impossible in my opinion than people are trying to hype up with those “career numbers.” Poppycock to people using those numbers, I say. I fully expect Ryan Vogelsong to be angry and do well for the Gigantes, and do better than Anibal, which is all that will matter when they hand the ball to the bullpen.

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