Pat the Bat

My wife will be the first to tell you that I hate Pat Burrell. Long before he was on the Giants she had heard all about how he was firmly ensconced in my top 5 Least Favorite Players list. In many ways he seems harmless (I mean no one is going to confuse this guy with Barry Bonds), but in so many ways he was easy to hate.

Pat Burrell is the jock in high school that could play basketball all winter for a team that makes a run at state, walk off the court and on to a baseball field and hit a home run on his first swing. He’s the guy that just stole your girlfriend. He’s bigger, stronger, better looking, and has more money than you.

He also grew up on the central coast of California, went to Bellarmine (a quasi-rival of my high school alma mater), attended one of the least likeable Universities in the USA (Miami), was the top pick in the draft, and then killed the Giants EVERY time the Phillies came to town. EVERYTIME.

Plus there was something about his game that was aggravating. He struck out a lot. On bad pitches. He hit hanging sliders a long way. He was terrible in the outfield. He was a dead pull power hitter. His game was all brawn and no brain.

And then he came to the Giants. Again, my wife will tell you how I cursed the computer up and down when I read about that transaction. I hated that Pat Burrell was on the Giants. I hated that my favorite player to boo and tell about how much he sucked was now wearing Orange and Black. And I hated that I knew…knew in the depths of my soul…that I would end up loving him.

Which is exactly what happened. For the 202 games he was a Giant I would say, in almost every game, “I hate Pat Burrell” as he swung and missed at a slider in the dirt, only to proclaim my love for him when he hit a home run or game breaking double later on.

He didn’t do much in the playoffs (especially the World Series), but the Giants don’t win a championship without him. I also begrudgingly admired his strike zone discipline and ability to take a walk. I’ve never had to flip-flop so strongly on a player before.

But Pat Burrell helped the Giants win a World Series. It’s perfect. I love you Pat Burrell, enjoy retirement.

(-SB)

Melky?

So I’ll be honest, I originally planned on writing this post a few days ago when the Giants/Royals trade occurred and my response was how awful a trade it was. I hated it, thought it was a stereotypical stupid Sabean trade and that was that. However as the days have passed and I’ve had time to process my feelings have changed, not a lot mind you, but some. I still don’t like the trade overall but I don’t think it’s quite as bad as I thought at first.

First of all we have Melky, as average of a ballplayer as you can get. I had a friend ask me if anyone who starts for the Yankees could truly be considered average, and the answer is yes and his name was Melky Cabrera. His stats through 5 seasons and a little over 2100 at bats as a Yankee were 90 doubles, 12 triples, 36 HR’s, 228 RBI, 44 Stolen bases, 171 walks, 246 K’s and a .269/.331/.335 line, in other words, nothing exciting or outstanding at all. Add to that a terrible season in Atlanta and a career year in KC where he hit half of the amount of HR’s he hit in his whole 5 seasons in New York and I’m not excited, at least not for the price it cost, and there is the real issue with this trade. Melky is a fine addition to the Giants and a much better option than someone like Coco Crisp or David DeJesus, but for what the Giants gave up, we should have gotten more.

Now before anyone says it, yes, Jonathan Sanchez is no more than an above average pitcher, a good 3rd or 4th starter option for almost any team in the league. His career stats in 6 seasons with the Giants are a 38-46 record with a 4.26 ERA and 376 walks. However he also has 736 strikeouts and he’s a lefty, which by nature means he has more value than an identical righty. Do I think it was a good idea to trade Sanchez? I do, in fact I said so in a post shortly after the regular season ended, and trading him for a bat brings more value than DFA’ing him or trading him for another arm, but Jonathan Sanchez is still a valuable pitcher who should have brought more value in than an average outfielder that management doesn’t yet know how to fit in the lineup. Now I know real life baseball is not like a video game where you can propose any trade and it works out for your team 99% of the time, and if this is what the market thought Sanchez was worth, than that is what he’s worth, but it’s hard for me to see how this pitcher wouldn’t be more coveted in a league where pitching is valued so much. I didn’t expect to get an all-star for Sanchez, but it feels like Sabean took the first offer given to him rather than wait for the market to develop (the Red Sox, for instance, didn’t even know he was on the market).

Will Melky help the Giants next year? I hope so, but it’s not like he’s a power hitter. We need to resign Beltran and get another veteran infielder and maybe a 5th starter, but a solid bat HAS to be our priority this offseason, and Melky just isn’t that.

(-NW)

Hola Melky, Adios Jonathan

So, nick is going to have a post on the trade the Giants made today soon. I will try not to steal his thunder.

Here are my quick hit thoughts:

  • We easily could have just cut Sanchez and got nothing for him
  • We could have traded Sanchez for Orlando Cabrera!
  • We could have kept Sanchez and continued to hear about Coco Crisp. I’m 97% sure Coco would have been our starting center fielder next year
  • We could have kept him, hoped he had a great first half and then traded him for Jeff Francouer (ha!)
  • I don’t really like the idea of Melky Cabrera in center field. But I do like the idea of Melky in left, Beltran in right, and Torres in center. And Belt at first and Aubrey in an A’s uniform. I would love that.
  • Don’t forget that Melky Cabrera was always supposed to be good. Let’s hope he’s a late bloomer, plus he is entering free agency and the magical age 27 year. That bodes well.
  • We should have traded Sanchez to Tampa three years ago for Ben Zobrist
Thoughts on Cabrera for Sanchez?
(-SB)

Closing the Book on 2011

As I wrote earlier, this World Series had the air of 2002 written all over it. Turns out that was more on point than I imagined. Team with a rally animal gains a 2-1 advantage, then falls behind on the road 3-2, but then wins a Game 6 for the ages and defeats its deflated opponent relatively easily in Game 7. I’ve seen this one before.

The Cardinals are frustrating to me for two reasons: (1) I was not so secretly rooting for the Rangers because I felt like their taking home the title would somehow validate the Giants World Series victory of 2010. (2) The Cardinals do not neatly follow my pitching addition/emergence theory that I’ve been harping on all year.

But here’s the interesting thing. In some ways the Cardinals validate the Giants run of a year ago by showing that a hot team that gets in at the last-minute is a dangerous, dangerous foe. In fact, in the system might actually favor this type of team (see paragraph 6).

And, if you break down the season, the Cardinals actually follow the pattern I set out, but they did it in compressed time (over the course of the season instead of the offseason). This happened in part because of the injury to Adam Wainwright. But, over the course of the season the Cardinals witnessed the emergence of a closer (Jason Motte) who posted an ERA+ of 162, career years from Kyle Loshe, a strong sophomore (injury free) season from Jaime Garcia, and the midseason reinforcements of Edwin Jackson (who ensured that Jake Westbrook would not pitch in the post-season), Mark Rzepczynski, and Octavio Dotel (who ensured that Ryan Franklin would not pitch in the post-season).

All of that translated to season-best-production in September/October. They set season best marks in Strikeouts, ERA, K/BB ratio, OBP, SLG, OPS+, WHIP, and K/9.

Of course, and this will always burn me a little, if the Houston Astros played the Cardinals as well as they did the Giants, we’d be writing a very different story right now.

(-SB)