Week In Review (9/19-9/25)

Results:

1-5 (84-75, 9 GB in NL West)

2-1 L @ LAD; 8-5 W @ LAD; 8-2 L @ LAD; 3-1 L @ Ari; 15-2 L @ Ari; 5-2 L @ Ari

Another season, another failed attempt at a repeat champion in Major League Baseball. I will have a lot more to say about the Giants season in future posts, but for now thank you boys for a great 2010, and for hanging in for most of 2011 even after you lost your best player for nearly 75% of the season. In a strange way this has been one of the more memorable seasons in a long time, mostly because I have never such a deeply flawed team make a legitimate run at a division title. There’s something commendable about that.

Hitter of the Week:

Despite the 1-5 belly flop of a last full week of baseball, the Giants actually had some decent offensive performances. Torres gave us a “where has that been all season” .400 average and a home run, Sandoval hit when he was in the lineup (despite his shoulder), and even Mark DeRosa contributed a 4 for 12 week. However, let’s tip our cap to Carlos Beltran who I’d love to have back, but let’s face it he’ll be in the AL next year making some fantasy owners very happy. All he did in a Giants uniform was hit .335/.379/.576 with 7 home runs and 18 RBI in 41 games. A lot of people have criticized the trade and, yeah, it would have been great to have had in the lineup about 15 more times, but, hey, everyone got hurt this year! They brought him over to hit and he hit. The end.

Pitcher of the Week:

Hard to find anyone to get too excited about this week (Vogelsong got the only win but did it with an ERA of 7.20). I’ll give it to Sergio Romo for being so awesome all season and pitching in 3 games this week without allowing a run. Tim Lincecum’s season, though, pretty much tells the whole story. 13-14 with 217 IP, 220 K, a 1.21 WHIP, and a 2.74 ERA. A losing record. Unbelievable.

Looking Ahead:

Start the roster prediction engines, it’s time to speculate about what the 2012 Giants will look like. Early predictions have Jimmy Rollins coming home to the Bay to play short stop. In the near future we will wrap up 2011, look ahead to the winter, predict some playoff series, and enjoy October baseball.

Thanks again Giants!

(-SB)

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Week in Review (9/12-9/18)

Results:

7-0 (83-70, 5.0 GB in NL West)

8-3 W vs. SD; 3-2 W vs. SD; 3-1 W vs. SD; 8-5 W @ COL; 9-1 W @ COL; 6-5 W @ COL; 12-5 W @ COL

Wow. What a week. 7 wins, cutting the lead in half, losing Bill Neukom, more injuries (Ross and Stewart), and Brian Wilson returns. No big deal. Just another week in Crazy Giants’ Land. Hard to say what is the most surprising/important development, but I think what’s been great is the way the team has been (forced) to go with some younger guys and they’ve responded. No matter what happens with this race, you have to root for Belt/Crawford/Pill/Surkamp to do well. It is only good for the organization if  these guys can be successful. On to the awards…

Hitter of the Week:

Carlos Beltran had a GREAT week, Cody Ross was awesome, and even Aubrey Huff got in on the action. But I have to highlight Pablo Sandoval again because (a) he had a great week (.440/.481/1.120 with 4 home runs and 10 RBI), and (b) he plays the game like he realizes there are only a few weeks left and he just doesn’t want the season to end. I LOVE that. Play on Panda!

Pitcher of the Week:

Tim Lincecum had a great start this week (7 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 6 K, 0 ER, W) but this award is about tomorrow as much as anything. See below for why this is the game of the year, but Tim needs to repeat this performance this week. It is simplistic to pin everything on Timmy, but as your best player goes (oftentimes) so goes the rest of the team. Get it done Timmy!

Looking Ahead:

It’s an understatement to say that tomorrow night’s game is the biggest of the year. Every game since September 1 has been the biggest game of the year. The Giants still need to go 8-1 or 9-0 to have a realistic shot at pulling the playoffs out of a hat (no less than 91 wins gets them in). But it would do the Giants a world of good, both in the short-term and especially the long-term to beat Clayton Kershaw (and to have Timmy beat him head to head). Even if the Giants fall short of the playoffs, winning this game against their arch nemesis will be huge going in to 2012. If they lose tomorrow they still have a shot, but they will also head in to next year with a big old Kershaw hex hanging over their heads (so far this year in 5 starts Kershaw is 4-0 with 34.2 IP, 43 K, a 1.04 ERA, a 0.84 WHIP, and .183 BAA).

Beat LA!

(-SB)

Week in Review (9/5-9/11)

Results:

3-3 (76-70, 8.5 GB in NL West)

7-2 W @ SD; 6-4 W @ SD; 2-1 L vs. LAD; 3-0 L vs. LAD; 8-1 vs. LAD

Hitter of the Week:

Let’s all pause for a minute and applaud the season that Pablo Sandoval has had for the Giants. Huge offseason workout plan. Great start. Missed 6 weeks with a broken hand. Picked right back up where he left off. He has been our best hitter all year and it’s not even close (for comparison sake, and for a good-long-sad laugh, consider that Pablo’s OPS+ is what you get when add together Aaron Rowand’s and Miguel Tejada‘s). It’s beyond imagination that the Giants won a World Series without his significant involvement in the proceedings, and it’s also hard to believe he was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, question mark heading in to the season. Looking forward to watching this guy for several more years.

Pitcher of the Week:

How about Madison Bumgarner: 13.1 IP, 21 Ks!, 2 wins, 2.02 ERA, 1.05 WHIP. Nasty. On a different note, how interesting would it be if Cain, Lincecum, and MadBum all finished 12-12. That would tell you just about everything you would need to know about the 2011 Giants. Probably won’t happen but they will all be close to that. Too bad they aren’t “winners” who can figure out how “win games.” Again, I think the chance that such a thing is even possible speaks to their consistency and the utter horribleness of the offense.

Looking Ahead:

16 days left in the season. I am still looking forward to more playing time for Belt, Crawford, a couple of starts for Surkamp, and, well, that’s about it. And Pablo hitting. Most of all, I am really, really interested to see the approach this offseason. To me, this season is a fail because of the injuries, not the design. That said, there is substantial evidence that the design needs to be tweaked, and there is ample possibility for that due to all the free agents the Giants will have this winter.

Maybe the most interesting thing of all is the nearly complete benching of Torres. This leaves a huge question about the top of the order and center field (could we see jose reyes or jimmy rollins next year?). Enjoy the last days, enjoy the playoffs, but watch closely this November and December. Something interesting is on the horizon.

(-SB)

Week in Review (8/29-9/4)

Results:

2-4 (73-67; 7 GB in NL West)

7-0 L vs. CHI; 5-2 L vs. CHI; 4-0 W vs. CHI; 6-2 W vs ARI; 7-2 L vs. ARI; 4-1 L vs. ARI

Well, this was the make or break week and the Giants broke. As I wrote earlier in the week the Giants actually broke back in May and it’s been remarkable that they lasted in the race as long as they did. Let’s face it, the division is weak, but Arizona is good (performing similarly to the way many thought the Rockies would play this year) and the Giants needed to be healthy to compete. They were not (24 DLs this year and their position player out for over 100 games).

To reiterate, there’s plenty to complain about: Sabean will take his hits, Bochy will too, certainly several players need to be accountable for what’s transpired, but I actually think everyone should get a hat tip for not folding in early June. Sabean did what he had to do to add (or subtract) to the roster (even if a few of the moves were questionable), Bochy managed with a lot of spare parts and duct tape, and some players rose to the occasion, came back, or emerged out of no where. 2011 should be remembered as the loss of Posey, but also for Ryan Vogelsong story, the return of the Panda, and the maturation of Madison Bumgarner (among others).

Someone tweeted this weekend (I think it was Rory Paap) that when Burrell went down (again) on Saturday that it was a metaphor for the season. Agreed. Too little, too late, too hurt. But that’s sports.

Hitter of the Week:

Carlos Beltran is a good player. He was great at one point (scroll about half way down to read Pos’s take on Beltran), and watching him play, even in his current-somewhat-diminished state, reveals how much better he is than anyone else in the Giants current lineup. It’s a shame he got hurt, and it’s a shame that most Giants fans will probably complain about this trade for years even though it was pretty sound. I actually think the Giants should consider going after him this offseason. Burrell and Rowand are gone leaving a potential starting outfield of Belt, Torres, and Schierholtz. Ross could come back but probably for around $6-7 million. Beltran for 2 years at $22-24 (similar to Huff) would not be a bad idea. Let Nate be the fourth outfielder and use Ford or a cheap FA to hold down the 5th spot.

Pitcher of the Week:

Another interesting twitter comment. GiantsNirvana asked his followers in the wake of Saturdays crushing loss who Giants’ fans would rather have for the next 5 years: Timmy or Matty? The majority of folks said Both. Which is, of course, the right answer but I was surprised that it was so close. I expected: Tim, Both, Matt. Matt Cain came up big this week and I think the move that will define the Giants for the next five years is whether they extend him this offseason or not. I think they should. I think it is a no-brainer. But the Giants ate a ton of money last week, and they may eat more with Zito in the not-t00-distant future. Can they keep both Cain and Lincecum long-term? Yes please, but if they decide they have to choose, who do you want? Hmmmmmm….

Looking Ahead:

There are several scenarios where the Giants are still alive. The Twins and Phillies are two recent teams to pull off a six or seven game comeback in the final three weeks. It can be done. These Giants are not going to do it. I hope they do, but I just don’t see it.

Here are the priorities: Crawford, Belt, and Torres play everyday as they represent some of the bigger issues the Giants need to consider this offseason: OF, SS, and leadoff. Let Hector Sanchez do the bulk of the catching. Limit Bumgarner’s pitch count to 100. Shut down Wilson, we need him next year. Give Brett Pill a couple of starts (read the last paragraph of Lefty Malo’s post for a good laugh).

Finally, allow Burrell and Ross to say goodbye to the fans who love them. I hope they both get a nice ovation at some point during the final home stand.

That’s about it. A fascinating season that I am afraid has come to its inevitable end.

(-SB)

Week in Review (8/22-8/28)

Results:

3-3 (71-63; 4 GB in NL West)

7-5 L vs. SD; 2-1 W vs. SD; 3-1 L vs. HOU; 2-1 W vs. HOU; 2-1 4-3 L vs. HOU

Every Giants’ season that I can remember ended with the Giants screwing something up. Sometimes they screwed up before the season began (see 1995, 1996, 2008) and so the finale was somewhat anti-climactic. Sometimes they blew it at the end in heart breaking fashion (see 2002, 2003). No matter how it happened, I learned to always expect the worst. At some point, you just realized: this is not going to happen for us this year.

Then 2010 happened. All along, it seemed like the same script would hold. But it never did. Someone always came through, some lucky bounce went our way, disaster was always averted. World Championship. A paradigm shifting moment.

This year, the Giants have kept us firmly ensconced in this new way of looking at the world. One run victories, great pitching, and walk off wins have reinforced that “hey it will all work out” perspective. Overcoming early season injuries, the Vogelsong story, and the fact that the Giants actually “got better” after Posey went down all helped to convince us that in the end the Giants will prevail.

There is still a lot of baseball left, and plenty of opportunity for the Giants to overcome Arizona, but I think yesterday was the first day that I really began to accept the fact that 2011 might be a lot more like 2004 than last year. I’m not throwing in the towel, I’m not losing hope, but I do think the perfect world I’ve been living in has now had a fair shake of reality added to it. Not every season ends like 2010 and it’s foolish to think otherwise.

The Giants are good, and the future is bright, but no one can win them all.

Hitter of the Week:

Statistically this honor should go to Carlos Beltran (.429, 1 HR, 2 RBI, even a SB). I want to give the honor, though, to Mark Derosa. Mark Derosa is a good baseball player and most Giants fans never got a chance to see it. Blame the Giants for signing a broken player to two-year, 12 million dollar deal, but don’t take it out on the dude. He finally got a couple of big moments here recently and that’s good to see. It’s a shame we never got to experience him at his full powers in a San Francisco uniform.

Pitcher of the Week:

I posted about Tim Lincecum earlier this week. I’m happy that Romo is back. Cain and Bumgarner had good turns at the end of the week. Santiago Casilla held it down in the 9th a couple of times to earn this honor. He was the man in the 8th last year in October, if anyone remembers. A lot of that had to do with Bochy playing the hot hand, but this guy had a really important role on a championship team and has been lost in the mix a bit this year. Well done Santiago.

Looking Ahead:

Hopefully the Giants don’t look past the Cubs! Things do line up well for them in this series. Kip Wells and Rodrigo Lopez are completely beatable, even with our anemic offense. Matt Garza has gotten the Matt Cain treatment, going 6-10 but pitching much better than that. Hopefully the trend continues. They NEED 2 of 3 against the Cubs, and then 2 of 3 against Arizona and they could be 2 games back by the end of the week. Of course better is better (nice turn of phrase), but I think this is completely reasonable. A bad week, though, and we might start seeing a lot more of the Grizzlies, if you know what I mean.

BIG Week!

(-SB)

Week in Review (8/15-8/21)

Results:

2-5, 68-60 (1.5 GB in NL West)

5-4 L @ ATL; 2-1 L @ ATL; 7-5 W @ ATL; 1-0 L @ ATL; 6-0 L @ HOU; 7-5 L @ HOU; 5-4 W @ HOU

Well, what to make of this week, this season, this team? The Giants suffer through a miserable, 2-5 week, their worst week literally and emotionally (sans losing Posey), and yet they gain a half game on the Diamondbacks. What in the world? By all accounts this team should be buried in the standings and yet, here they are, very much alive and very much in this.

I don’t have much to add to the dichotomous existence of the 2011 Giants, but it is worth checking these two articles out: Baggs runs down the names who have unavailable in the last week due to injury, and McCovey points out that despite all that the Giants could not have a better schedule to finish out the year. Can a team be utterly decimated by injuries and still good enough to make the playoffs? We shall see…

Hitter of the Week:

The Giants have two good hitters right now (they could have three if Beltran gets better). Those two hitters are Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt. Everyone else, at this point, is in the “hope for the best” category (Cody, Aubrey, and Nate can all get hot, so please let’s do that at the same time…that same time being this week). Pablo for the week: .304, a huge home run and 6 RBI (also only 1 run scored, when he drove himself in). Brandon, since returning, is “only” 6 for 22 (.273), but he has 3 home runs 5 RBI and 4 runs scored during that week. Let the dude play.

Pitcher of the Week:

Cain was nasty in Atlanta. Timmy was great as well. Props to Mota for creating some order on Sunday. But the Pitcher of the Week is Jeremy Affeldt because he is now the defacto closer and he’s really done a great job all year, mostly under the radar. The Giants bullpen is loaded and it will now be seriously tested with Wilson and Romo out. This team plays close games which means the closer is more valuable than on most clubs. So, Jeremy, this is your time to shine. Make it happen!

Unbelievably, the Giants are in this thing, and as said earlier, they couldn’t ask for a better path to the playoffs than what lies before them. I will admit, I quit on Tuesday…I thought it was over and done for after two crushing loses and all the injuries. But there is still a chance, and quite frankly it’s a good chance. Which is mind bending, but it’s there, so go for it Giants. Seize the day!

(-SB)

 

Week in Review (8/8-8/14)

Results:

3-3 (66-55, 2 games back in NL West)

5-0 L vs. PIT; 6-0 W vs. PIT; 9-2 L vs. PIT; 2-1 L @ FL; 3-0 W @ FL; 5-2 W @ FL

Giants go .500 for the week, which is not so bad considering how it started, but unfortunately the Diamondbacks didn’t lose . 2 games out is not the worst thing in the world. I think this team does better went it is hunting than when it is the hunted.

Hitter of the Week:

Brandon Belt. I’ll have more on Belt later in the day, but the kid comes back from Fresno, on two hours of sleep, and goes 0-2 in his first to ABs. Baggarly tweeted (after his strikeout) something to the effect of get used to the pine in Atlanta kid. Then he hit broke out of his sleepless funk and hit two bombs. The second was really impressive to me because it looked like he didn’t even have his best swing on that pitch. A little out in front, he used his tremendous hands to launch the ball into right field and keep it fair. Not east to do. He should play more =)

Also, Cody Ross get/stay hot!

Pitcher of the Week:

Take your pick: Tim Lincecum (7 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 0 ER, 10 K) or Madison Bumgarner (7 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 0 ER, 10 K). Both pitched after loses, and Lincecum’s start in particular came at a time when things were looking particularly bleak. Whatever else there is to say about the Giants this year (and there is plenty) you have to step back and appreciate what a joy it is to watch these guys pitch.

Looking Ahead:

After the Giants finish this 4 game series with the Braves the only team they play the rest of the season that has a winning record is the Diamondbacks (6 games). That’s kind of crazy, and a major indictment on the NL West. If the Giants can split with the Braves and win the Houston series they will have accomplished a 6-4 road trip, which would be amazing. The potential for better than that is there though, so go ahead guys, pay the Braves back for that sweep in SF earlier this year!

(-SB)