Archive for the ‘ Baseball ’ Category

Tuesday morning’s breaking news via @cwnevius: Mike Krukow battling a degenerative muscle disease

San Francisco Giants fans will certainly take great interest in this morning’s article from C.W. Nevius that is no doubt spreading like wildfire throughout the baseball and Giants community. The article goes into detail talking about inclusion-body myosotis, IBM, the generative muscle disease that Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow was diagnosed with eight years ago. Nevius relays that “IBM causes progressive weakness in the muscles of the wrist and fingers, the front of the thigh, and the muscles that lift the front of the foot. There’s no cure and no solid theory for what causes it.” Krukow said he noticed something might be going on when his drives while golfing weren’t what they used to be. His doctor told him that he would have to use a cane, then a walker, then would need a cart to get around, and currently will use a golf cart to get around the stadium as even a nudge could send Krukow for a spill. In April, as the article notes, Krukow stumbled off the team bus in Colorado that resulted in a torn rotator cuff. Broadcast partner Duane Kuiper says Kruk’s the same guy, and partner Dave Flemming shares similar sentiments:

Another question Giants fans would probably have is if this will affect the desire of Krukow to continue his broadcasting career.

“Kuip says he wants to do this until he is 80,” Krukow said. “So do I.”

Wife of Mike, Jennifer, says the best thing for Giants fans to do to support Mike is to “treat him like you normally would.”

We are all shocked and surprised to hear about this, and we hope this disease does no more to Krukow and that soon a cure is found for IBM.

NL West trade news: Padres make another trade with Angels, this time trading Huston Street

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have added another Padres reliever to their roster, once trading for Ernesto Frieri, now getting Huston Street and another pitcher for four minor league players in the Angels system. Jim Bowden was first to report, and gave these details:

Reliever Trevor Gott is now rated by MLB.com as the #15 prospect of the Angels with an above-average fastball. High-A SS Jose Rondon and Triple-A 2B Taylor Lindsey are now rated #9 and #10 respectively in the Padres’ system. RHP R.J. Alvarez is a reliever at Double-A and Elliot Morris has been a reliever at the High-A level. You can read more reports about them in MLB.com’s article.

Street was present at last night’s Padres game, so though it looked like there was an agreement in place before the game started, fans were probably on hug watch. Street has thirty-four strikeouts in thirty-three innings pitched with only seven walks. Those numbers are similar to what Street has been able to do career-wise against the Giants, but has allowed two home runs in four innings against them this year. Street will reportedly be the closer for the Angels while Joaquin Benoit, whom has also been the subject of trade rumors, steps into the closer role for the Padres.

The second-half arrives: 67 games left for the Giants and 65 left for the Dodgers

One game in the standings separates the two, but the Dodgers have two more wins than the Giants and the same amount of losses at forty-three. I broke down the Giants schedule in 2014 in a post before the season started to remind all of us what they have upcoming. Sixty-seven games left with thirty-nine of them away from the friendly confines at AT&T Park. Below is what the Giants have left this season, including twenty-nine games with the NL West. Nine of those come against the Dodgers.

July 18th-September 4th: All over the place and a sixteen-game stretch

3 @ Miami

4 @ Philadelphia

3 vs. LA Dodgers

3 vs. Pittsburgh

Day Off (comes on the same day as the trade deadline)

4 @ NY Mets

3 @ Milwaukee

3 @ Kansas City

Day Off

2 vs. White Sox

Day Off

3 vs. Philadelphia

Day Off

3 @ Cubs

3 @ Washington

4 vs. Colorado

3 vs. Milwaukee

3 @ Colorado

Day Off

I didn’t know how to break this one up (I’m sure you could tell), but this is another part of the schedule where the Giants will have a chance to play over-.500 ball against teams like the Marlins, Brewers, ChiSox, Rockies, Mets, Phillies, and the Cubs. Teams like the Dodgers, Royals, Nationals, and Pirates could make things tense and for make for possible Sunday Night Baseball material.

September 5th-September 28th: The Tigers and the NL West

3 @ Detroit

Day Off

3 vs. Arizona

3 vs. LA Dodgers

3 @ Arizona

Day Off

3 @ San Diego

3 @ LA Dodgers

4 vs. San Diego

So, if the road seems relatively easy for the Giants, it’s because by win-percentage, it is:

The Giants have a birth to the playoffs put on a silver platter for them, and the question is are they going to trip all over themselves, not stay healthy, or get close to the team that was putting on a 107-win pace? As Angel Pagan was winding down his first-half, the Giants were starting to trip all over themselves, then not be healthy, and then at the end of the first-half (arbitrary endpoints warning) they were able to put together a 5-4 ending — a winning stretch they hadn’t gone through since the home series against the Nationals had finished in early June. The Giants are reminding themselves they can win games, now can they keep those ways consistent and even become more dominant in the process as the season winds down? It doesn’t matter how the Giants get in to the playoffs if they get there, it’s a matter of if they get hot in October, and if they get some breaks to go their way as they work towards their third parade in five years. Here are some questions I have about the Giants as the season continues:

When will Angel Pagan return and how will his return help the Giants? 

Odd, but probably telling, that last season the Giants season crumbled when he left (hello, outfield depth), and now again things were not the same after he left for an extended time only to be put on the DL anyway. The Giants are not blessed with having four starting MLB players on their roster and one in the MiLB like the rival Dodgers are, so they’ve dealt with Gregor Blanco, Tyler Colvin, and Juan Perez all getting time. Gregor Blanco when hot can be a decent replacement for Pagan, but that’s not who he is. Pagan at the top will extend the lineup, which the Giants apparently really need.

Do the Giants trade for someone or someones?

I have no doubt that GM Brian Sabean can get a reliever or some bench help by the deadline if he needs a guy, finding a second baseman or a starter will be predictably more difficult. Trying to pull Daniel Murphy or even get Ben Zobrist will not be easy, and the Giants probably won’t be taking on too much money after this 2014 season from a trade.

Does Sergio Romo find his form and what if he doesn’t?

Manager Bruce Bochy has proclaimed his faith in Romo that he’ll be back to work, but if Romo can’t adjust at the pace the league has adjusted to him, the Giants higher-leverage bullpen depth takes a hit, and all of a sudden the holes in the ship get larger. Does Heath Hembree or Derek Law find their way on to the big club to save the day? May not be reliable to have Jean Machi continue his high leverage spots, that wave of hot Machi may have calmed.

How does Marco Scutaro hold up?

Can he do four days a week? Three? Five? What are we talking? As the beat writers have pointed out, the front office wants to see how Marco does through the next week so they have an idea of whom to target at the deadline, if anybody at second base.

Those are my biggest questions as we head into the second half. I think the Giants can and will make the Postseason. Perhaps that’s optimistic, but I don’t think it’s unrealistic. The Giants are almost back to full-strength and about to embark on a schedule that is not the most threatening, but will still have its challenges. I’m not expecting an insane finish like that insane beginning, but I believe the Giants will pull be able to make the playoffs, even if it’s as a Wild Card team, that’s still something.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are in first place all by themselves. The Giants are in second.

Just thought you should know. The Dodgers beat Cleveland 1-0 and so the Giants are now in second by a half game. The Giants have played three fewer games than the Dodgers. The Dodgers are 16-7 in their last 23 games while the Giants are 8-15, so it shouldn’t be a big mystery how the Dodgers all of a sudden caught up in June. This is the first time the Giants have been in second since April 23rd.

Just thought you’d like to know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June was awful.

Reliever readings on Jean Machi of the big club and Steven Okert (@steven_okert) of the baby Giants

The off-day and Friday morning has provided some reading on a reliever that’s taken the long road to get to the Majors in Jean Machi, and a San Jose Giant out of Oklahoma University in Steven Okert. Both have shown the ability to give fans faith they can handle high-leverage duties, especially for Machi when Sergio Romo struggled against the Rockies. On the farm, Okert has been used to close games in San Jose, collecting nineteen saves for the baby Giants. Of course, Machi’s lack of saves shouldn’t be what keep you from worrying if he can handle the high-leverage roles, as you might prefer to see some of his peripherals instead. Enough of me though, you came for the links.

  • Scott Stranberg of Rotographs wrote about Okert and some of his peripherals and his BABIP in this article that should get Giants fans excited there’s a high strikeout reliever in the system
  • Wednesday’s article from MiLB that detailed Okert’s outing in Wednesdays’ California-Carolina All-Star Game and the championship belt he sported afterwards
  • This is the only Baseball Prospectus eyewitness account on Okert for your reading pleasure
  • This is Alex Pavlovic’s report on Machi, and here is MLB.com’s Ryan Hood’s on the 32-year old Venezuelan having the biggest season of his life thus far

Nice to see good stories on players in the Giants systems. Of course, we hope they continue their success with the big club for years to come.

The Giants begin their weekend series with the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix tonight at 6:40 PM PST.

Who are the other 21st Century teams to win 64.8% or more games thru 54 games?

At 35-19, the San Francisco Giants are the only team left in the majors with less than twenty losses. They also have the best record in the bigs, along with the best winning percentage of all thirty teams. I wondered how good of a winning percentage this was relative to other clubs from 2001-2014, so I decided to look through the standings page on MLB.com and fiddle around. I found fourteen teams that had done as well or better than the Giants through their current point in the season and also wrote down how their season finished in terms of postseason results. Some didn’t even make it! Then there was also the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who would finish with 116 wins… and would lose in the ALCS. Anyway, here are the teams:

2013 — St. Louis Cardinals (36-18, 66.7%), lost in the World Series

2010 — Tampa Bay Rays (36-18, 66.7%), lost to Texas in the ALDS

2009 – Los Angeles Dodgers (36-18, 66.7%), lost in the NLCS to the Phillies

2007 — Boston Red Sox (37-17, 68.5%), won the World Series

2007 — New York Mets (35-19, 64.8%), didn’t make the playoffs

2006 — Detroit Tigers (35-19, 64.8%), lost in the World Series to the Cardinals

2005 — Chicago White Sox (36-18, 66.7%), won the World Series

2005 — St. Louis Cardinals (35-19, 64.8%), lost to the Astros in the ALCS

2003 — Seattle Mariners (36-18, 66.7%), didn’t make the playoffs

2003 — Atlanta Braves (37-17, 68.5%), lost in the NLDS to the Cubs

2002 — Boston Red Sox (37-17, 68.5%), didn’t make the playoffs

2001 — Minnesota Twins (36-18, 66.7%), didn’t make the playoffs

2001 — Seattle Mariners (42-12, 77.8%), lost in the ALCS to the Yankees

2001 – Philadelphia Phillies (36-18, 66.7%), didn’t make the playoffs

So in total, that’s five teams that didn’t make the playoffs, two teams that didn’t make it past the division series, three teams that were so close to representing their league but couldn’t, two that lost in the World Series and then two teams that won the World Series. I was curious to see how many of these teams with great starts had made the postseason, and it turns out, nine of fourteen (64.3%). Coming into today, the Giants had an 88% chance of making the postseason. Hoping that 12% doesn’t come into play.

Standings Monday and the Week Ahead: #SFGiants Have the Best Record in All The Land, NL Central Up Next

Fifty games into the season, the Giants have won sixty-four percent of their matches, with one of those being suspended and to be made up in September. The Giants have a Top-5 strand rate from their pitching staff, the bullpen is second in the league in shutdowns and are tied for seventh-fewest meltdowns. Their offense has stepped up with two outs and RISP producing a league-leading .281/.376/.457 line with 80 RBI. That they are so far of the league average has me wondering if they are going to be able to keep this up, or they’re striving to be the 2013 St. Louis Cardinals in these kinds of situations, which, I would have no problem with that. A look at the standings, which have the Giants with the best record in the Majors by two whole games:

Giants (32-18)

Rockies (27-23, 5.0 games back)

Dodgers (27-24, 5.5 GB)

Padres (23-28, 9.5 GB)

Diamondbacks (20-32, 13.0 GB)

The Rockies have lost Nolan Arenado for a little bit of time at least, that would be a hit to both their offense and defense. Carlos Gonzalez is back in the lineup and Troy Tulowitzki says he’s OK after leaving Sunday’s game early. I believe the Rockies need both Tulo and CarGo in order to stay competitive, and if either of them get benched for a long time, that would spell big-time trouble for the Rockies chances at a playoff spot.

The Dodgers have just come off a no-hitter by Josh Beckett, as they hope that accomplishment spins them into a more consistent winning direction. They have Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-jin Ryu back, and will be trying Matt Kemp in LF soon. The Dodgers have the pieces, although if they want to catapult to the top, their bullpen is going to have to step up.

The week ahead has the Giants finishing off their thirteen-of-sixteen game homestand with the Cubs, then beginning a seven-game roadtrip, beginning with a four-game 2012 NLCS rematch with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs are 8-17 on the road, and the Cardinals have the “Best Fans in Baseball” carrying them to a 14-7 home record. A look at the probables:

Monday: Jeff Samardzija vs. Yusmeiro Petit

The Shark has been the subject of a lot of trade talk, but the Giants don’t have the riches to spare to acquire Samardzija, as great of a get as it probably would be. You will hear about his 0-4 win-loss record, but don’t let that fool you: this is a quality pitcher, worthy of being a part of a 1-2 punch, were a rotation to have one. Petit gets the spot start while Matt Cain recovers from a grade one hamstring strain, and all expectations are pointing to him being ready for his next start.

Tuesday: Jeff Arrieta vs. Tim Hudson

Arrieta hasn’t done bad in his four starts this season, though I’m sure the Cubs will be looking for him to continue getting strikeouts, but hoping he can keep those walks down. Arrieta will have some very tough competition in Hudson, who, outside of his rain-shortened start in Colorado, has been consistently amazing.

Wednesday: Edwin Jackson vs. Tim Lincecum

Two pitchers that battle control issues and also have their fair share of strikeouts. If that’s your jam, Wednesday is your game.

Thursday: Ryan Vogelsong vs. Jaime Garcia

Jaime Garcia has no walks in his two starts in 2014, also has twelve K’s and has allowed two home runs. Vogey has been nails since that bullpen session in Colorado in mid-April.

Friday: Madison Bumgarner vs. Adam Wainwright

Cancel your plans because you have a baseball game to watch Friday night.

Saturday: Matt Cain vs. Lance Lynn

This assumes Cain will be ready, and if he isn’t, he’ll be on the DL and Petit will probably be starting in his place (again). Lance Lynn has a seemingly high .314 BABIP in 2014, but that’s actually right in line with his career average. Lynn is hoping he doesn’t have to deal with any errant throws that go off of bases, and he will be thrilled to avoid Barry Zito.

Sunday: Tim Hudson vs. Michael Wacha

Though glaringly absent during their 2013 Postseason run, Wacha has been back to being lights out for the Cardinals in 2014, and this will be the second of two really good pitching matchups between the Giants and Cardinals. Wacha was hit in the dugout above the elbow on a line drive, but he says he’s OK and will be starting Monday against the Yankees.

Fans will expect the Giants to win both series, but I think they go 1-0-1 in these two matchups. I think they take the second two from the Cubs, and win the bookends of the series against the Cardinals. A 4-3 stretch against two teams isn’t bad, and I think you could find a lot of fans that would be happy with that, considering the matchups.

#SFGiants Hamstring Injuries: Cain Leaves Game After 3, Casilla Swings When Told Not To

After a Tuesday comeback walk-off by the Colorado Rockies over the San Francisco Giants, having Matt Cain on the mound on Wednesday seemed like a promising chance for a bounce-back in the standings. Unfortunately, despite the 5-1 victory on Wednesday by the Giants thanks to many dingers (and not that annoying dinosaur), the Giants are left waiting for status reports on the hamstrings of Matt Cain and Santiago Casilla.

Just waiting to hear on the severity of the strain, maybe we’ll hear tomorrow during the pre-game, the same time we’ll probably hear about the move for Casilla:

There are always times you hope the people that watch baseball for a living are wrong:

May be the most maddening part of Casilla’s injury is the recklessness/selfish behavior of ignoring signs/orders and busting his tail down to first on an infield grounder:

So, really, Casilla brought this on himself, because a reliever really doesn’t need to exert the effort to swing, or sprint down a basepath because his skills are needed on the mound. Sure, it might be fair to question why was Casilla batting at all, though a four-pitch outing in the eighth seemed to be low enough for manager Bruce Bochy to say, what the heck, pitch the 9th, too.  

Sorry, Hunter, the Giants are going to have to look elsewhere.

The depth of the Giants farm system can handle a blow to the bullpen, even though Santiago Casilla has been the most-used reliever in terms of innings pitched for the Giants. He has 26.1 IP through 47 games, which easily puts him on pace to break his 63.1 IP season-high he set in 2012. Casilla was being used a lot, but Jean Machi could step in to be that 8th inning guy with the start to the season he’s brought. You also have Heath Hembree, Derek Law, and George Kontos doing just fine in the minors. One of them could see a promotion if the Giants decide to hold on to their probably-not-a-good-idea-thirteen-man-bullpen. Heaven forbid one of the out-of-option relievers get designated for assignment, though. Giants are squeezing every last bit of usable talent out of some of those relievers.

The depth of the Giants farm system for the 2014 season cannot handle a loss of Matt Cain. Has he been #1 starter Matt Cain this year? No. You know what he can be, and he can be better, which we may not be able to say the same of Yusmeiro Petit, David Huff, or even Edwin Escobar in being able to produce that kind of efficiency. If Matt Cain is out for a long period of time, I’d say that big lead in the West starts to fall and you’ll watch three teams jockeying for first place between the Giants, Dodgers, and Rockies. Losing a starter doesn’t just affect the games they’re supposed to pitch in, it can affect strategy of games after that due to bullpen usage, as good as the Giants bullpen has been it doesn’t necessarily trigger a “no big deal” mindset. I don’t trust Petit to keep dealing, though I will hope he does well! That health of the rotation, it is a big key to the Giants going far while their young guns continue to be molded into being more-or-less ready for the bigs.

The Giants and Rockies will conclude their three-game set tomorrow with the final game of the series beginning at 12:10 PM PST. They will then be happy to get out of there and come back home to begin a six-game homestand with the Minnesota Twins and Chicago Cubs.

Susan Slusser: Sacramento River Cats Would Like to Become an #SFGiants Affiliate

On a morning where I was reading about the possibilities of technology and internet mergers that could change entertainment life on a grand scale, I found this article sitting on my lap about the possibility that Minor League life for the organizations of the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s could be changed a little. The Fresno Grizzlies have been an affiliate of the Giants since 1998, while the A’s have had the Sacramento River Cats as their Triple-A affiliate since 1999. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle provides quotes and details of the possible move for the River Cats (two words, not one) to work with the Giants, and not the A’s, including the fact that both leases end between the Minor League team and the parent club end after this season. I haven’t been to either minor league park, so when she says Sacramento is nicer than Fresno, I’ll have to take her word for it. Proximity would also be a selling point, as it’s about 84 miles between AT&T Park and Riley Field in Sacramento while it’s 184 miles between AT&T Park and Chukchansi Park in Fresno. The article notes that Riley Field is one of the nicer parks in not just the Pacific Coast League, where both the Grizzlies and the River Cats play, but in all of the Minors. Of course, being that the Giants and A’s have a current feud over territory with the A’s trying to build a new stadium, it probably would not feel good for the Giants to take something the A’s have have enjoyed for the past decade-and-a-half. We shall see how this plays out, and if Giants fans prefer the drive to Sacramento, or will be disappointed with a move out of Fresno if that ends up being the plan.

Update: Slusser posted some answers to some FAQ’s she’s been getting on Twitter, about if the MiLB players become Giants players, if the Giants have been sneaky, and how often a change of MiLB affiliates happens. Good knowledge she’s dropping.

Another update!: The Sacramento River Cats released a statement on their Twitter account regarding their affiliation with the Athletics:

 

 

Injuries: Jose Fernandez Done for the Year, Brandon Belt May Be Out Eight Weeks

This could be the saddest day of the month for the sport of baseball as they’ve found out one of their superstars is probably done for the 2014 season in Jose Fernandez:

Horribly awful news. Here are some categories Jose Fernandez was leading the league in for pitchers that had a qualified number of innings:

  • K/9 (12.19)
  • K% (34.2%
  • FIP (2.14, 2nd)
  • tERA (2.14)
  • SIERA (2.20)
  • fWAR (1.6, 3rd overall, 1st in NL)

Advanced metrics love him, but unfortunately, Fernandez’s right elbow hates him. Another young star goes heads to the doctor’s office for Tommy John surgery.

Jayson Stark also had a long article that came out a little over a week ago on the possible Tommy John epidemic. It was an interesting read, and when you have some time, I recommend you take a look at it. As Ken Rosenthal noted on MLB Network, Jose Fernandez will be 23 when he returns to the bigs, which is the only silver lining in all this.

Changing the subject to the Giants, beat writer Alex Pavlolic spread some news on Brandon Belt:

Reading Andrew Baggarly yesterday also, the six week timeframe seems to be bordering on naive for the time being. That could put Belt back on the lineup card near the end of the first week of July. The All Star Game won’t be until the third week, so hopefully he will be playing again in the bigs by then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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