Week in Review (4/18-4/24)

Results:

2-4 (10-11 overall; 4 GB)

8-1 W @ Col; 6-3 W @ Col; 10-2 L @ Col; 4-1 L vs.Atl; 5-2 L vs.Atl; 9-6 L v.Atl

It sure liked this was going to be a great week after Tuesday night’s game. Then it looked like a crappy week. Then on Sunday it looked like it might end well, then tragic, then magical, then really, really, really, depressingly awful. BUT, only 4 games back even with all that. Not much to be excited about though: only a few guys hitting, not a lot of great pitching, and more bad defense. That’s a 10-11 team.

Hitter of the Week:

I keep picking Pablo (this is not a bad thing) and he probably did have the best week of anyone in the lineup, but I’m going with Pat Burrell. I hate Pat Burrell. I love Pat Burrell. He’s been hitting for power all year, and this week he added some other kinds of hits (you know, singles and doubles) to raise the average. More importantly, he helped set the tone early against the Rockies with his big first inning homer last Monday. Line for the week: 5 runs, 1 HR, 4 RBI, .429 avg. Well done.

Pitcher of the Week:

Well, Tim Lincecum nearly threw a no-hitter in Coors so that should earn him pitcher of the month, right? However, the Giants played on national TV here in Boston on Saturday, which meant I got to watch the game live. Timmy kind of ruined my day with all his walks. My pitcher of the week is Ryan Vogelsong because we might hate this guy with a passion in another week or so depending on how he fares as a starter. But back in the day this guy was a top pick and future hope and then he magically turned in to Jason Schmidt via a trade. So, there’s something nostalgic about his return the Gigantes. And he may never get a chance to be the POTW again. This week he was good for 4 and 2/3 innings of shutout ball out of the ‘pen. Hopefully this is a sign of good things.

Looking Ahead:

I really, really hope I don’t have to write about Ryan Vogelsong and Pat Burrell next week. We need a Buster Posey/Aubrey Huff battle for hitter of the week and a Matt Cain/Madison Bumgarner  death match for the top pitcher prize.

The Bad news: Giants go on the road (actually ten games on the east coast). The Good news: Pirates and Nationals and Mets. Feels like a time to get some momentum. Also, the next time the Giants play a home game: May 6th against the Rockies. Lots of work to be done boys.

(-SB)

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Week in Review (4/11-4/17)

Results:

4-2 (8-7 overall; 4.0 GB)

6-1 L vs.LA; 5-4 W vs.LA; 4-3 W vs.LA; 5-2 W @ Ari; 5-3 W @ Ari; 6-5 L @ Ari

Hitter of the Week:

Aaron Rowand keeps trying to sneak his way into this honor, but I refuse (although he collected more total bases this week than Buster Posey did)…so, tie…Posey and Pablo Sandoval. Somewhere, there is a version of 2010 that had Posey and Sandoval in the middle of lineup, mashing the NL and leading the Giants to glory. The Giants found glory in 2010 and Posey had a lot to do with it but Pablo forgot about his role. Looks like he’s back, though, and this is the vision we had last year. Also, these guys are  24 years old!!! 5 home runs and 13 RBIs. Well done boys, we’ll take some more please!

Pitcher of the Week:

Matt Cain continue to quietly dominate. How solid is this kid (won’t be 27 until the season is over)? He always seems to be overlooked and that trend continues this week, because the beard is back. Brian Wilson: 4 games, 4 saves, 5 strikeouts, 0 walks, 1 hit. And he ended a 1 run game against the Dodgers (5-4) by striking out the side. BW thank you for being awesome. Pitcher of the Week. You’re welcome.

Looking Ahead:

Bottom line: the Rockies are wicked hot. The Giants play them next. Three times. At Coors Field. There is no way that is going to go well. Right? The good news is Lincecum, Sanchez, and Cain get the starts. The bad news is the Rockies are hot and only bad things happen at Coors. This is a cover-your-eyes-and-peek-through-a-finger-to-watch-the-action type of series. Not looking forward to it. After that, back to SF for three against the Braves who are not off to a great start, but that is still a good team.

Zito is now on the DL, Torres is on the DL, and Ross is coming off the DL (possibly this week). As a result, this team is still a work in progress. That said, the week ahead will go a long way to giving some shape to what kind of season this will be. Big, important week. Go Giants.

(-SB)

Quick Hit Opening Day Thoughts

– Lincecum looked good. Kershaw looked really good.

– Belt did not look like a rookie. Posey did.

– Sandoval had a couple of moments that made me say “this is a totally different player.” He had a few other moments where I thought it might have still been August 2010.

– Santiago Casilla did not inspire confidence that the bullpen can repeat last year’s performance. But, it was only one inning (sample size!).

– Every game I watch Pat Burrell play I look over at my wife at least once (probably more) and say: “I HATE Pat Burrell.” Usually, after I say this he does something beautiful (like hit a home run off Jonathan Broxton).

– No one likes to lose the first game, and no one ever wants to lose the Dodgers, but it was only one game, so no freaking out. Except for this…allow me to freak out over this: Are we really going to have to watch Tejada all season? There is no way he is the shortstop for 2011!

(-SB)

Winter Inventory

February is upon us and pitchers and catchers are on their way south. Tim Lincecum told me on facebook that he is already en route to Arizona via SF. At this point, it seems fitting to put analysis to the side for a minute and just be fans.

This community post focuses on what we enjoyed last season, our impressions of the off-season, and what we are looking forward to once the 2011 season gets underway. Read it up and feel free to chime in:

Favorite Player of 2010:

  • Josh: Brian Wilson. Now I know that most of you would answer this way and let me be the first to say, you are correct. There is a right and wrong answer to this question and Brian Wilson is the correct response. Reason #1 for his brilliance is his interview skills. Do I need to elaborate? No. But I will. I’ve always wanted a player to interview the way he does. He is in this game for the good times and you can see that in the way he talks and acts. I respect that. I embrace that. I love him. Not in that way. Reason #2 is because he isn’t that great. Don’t get me wrong. He is darn good. I hate it when people say “More guts than stuff.” He has stuff, it just isn’t Mo Rivera stuff. I compare him to Maddox stuff. With Maddox, you know he won’t blow you away, he just hits his pitches and somehow got you out. (I still never understood how he was so successful with an 85 MPH fastball). Brian Wilson throws harder, but has the same attitude.  At the end of games, I’d have no idea how we won, but we did. He embodies the Giants season for me.
  • Tim: I know this seems obvious, but I just can’t help giving Gerald Dempsey Posey III this honor. (He’s just Buster to the rest of us). Seeing a 23-year-old kid come in and just take charge of a staff full of huge names was something to behold. He’s got the face of a 12-year-old, and the wisdom of a vet.
  • Jon: Andres Torres. The dude has all the entertaining attributes of a young kid that blew through the minors (speed, glove, leadoff skills, etc)…but he didn’t. Instead, he has an incredible underdog story now culminating in his early 30’s. He was given a chance, he took it, and he was one of the major pieces of the G-men’s World Series puzzle.
  • Steve: So many good choices…love Huff for the value, Posey for the potential, Torres for coming out of nowhere, the pitching staff for doing its thing, Uribe for his jazz hands. I could go on and on. My favorite player of 2010 though was Javier Lopez. Thank you Javier for making me look like a dummy (I hated the trade at the time) and for winning me over with your left-handed awesomeness. I never thought a LOOGY could inspire such confidence! Like Josh, I think Javy’s unexpected greatness represents what kind of year it was for the Giants.

Player You Are Excited for in 2011

  • Josh: Brandon Belt. Oh yes boys and girls, I’m talking minor leagues. I want to see this minx in the majors this year. Are you ready for some sexy numbers? Yes, they are minor league numbers so don’t put him in the Hall yet, but: batting average .352, OPS 1.075 (how the guacamole?), 23 HR and 112 RBI in 136 games last year.  He may need to marinate for one more year in the minors but I’m excited to see what he can do in September…Possibly sooner.
  • Tim: As far as explosive players go, no one beat Cody Ross down the stretch. He was knocking round trippers like his toothy smile depended on it last season, and the team really fed off of his energy. This guy seems to be the real deal, and it makes it even sweeter that no one wanted him, which made him perfect for our squad. I love his attitude, and his knack for clutch hitting, and I can’t wait to see what he does in the batters box and on the field this year.
  • Jon: Pablo Sandoval. To say the least, last year the Panda left his faithful fan base wanting. After an electric rookie campaign (well, not TECHNICALLY his rookie year which is why he didn’t win the ROY) we still have the sweet taste of a Pablo feast on our tongues. We just want a few more courses on the table this year. Let’s just hope the feast Pablo takes part in isn’t literal.
  • Steve: I’m looking forward to watching Matt Cain. The debate about Cain (is he lucky or good) rages on, and I hope Cain keeps sticking it to those who say it’s all luck. I was on the fence until the post-season…He gets people out, who cares how he does it. In a NL stacked with great arms, is this the year Matty moves in to the elite or does it all catch up to him and get a little ugly? I am looking for eliteness: a big 2011 for Matt Cain.

Best Move of the Off-Season

  • Josh: Miguel Tejada. Read my earlier post. The more I think about it, the more excited I get. I’m really looking forward to him at SS. I hope he gels well with the team.
  • Tim: Brian Sabean is doing his best to keep the world champs intact, signing Burrell and Ross to extensions. And yesterday, it was announced that Lou Piniella will be joining the organization. His passion for the game is unparalleled, and I think his fire-spitting personality will be a great addition to the team. I’m excited to see how he settles into whatever role he takes.
  • Steve: Obviously not a ton of moves to choose from, but the thing I liked was settling quickly and painlessly with all the arbitration eligible players. Also, Burrell for a million is a sweet deal.

Best Non-Move of the Offseason

  • Josh: Best off-season non-move was the avoidance of Pedro Feliz. It is well documented that I can’t stand Pedro. He has crushed my heart and soul with so many dang double plays. I saw that he was free, and something told me that Brian was going to pick him up. I would have been devastated. You can have him Royals. Good riddance.
  • Tim: Keeping the front office intact. Alternate Universe: Imagine if Bochy had been in his last year, and we had somehow not been able to re-sign him to be our skip. Who out there would be a capable leader? It would be great to have Dusty back in the dugout, but I’m gonna go with Terry Francona. Talk about an even keel! This guy is Teflon, and that’s what we would need to repeat this year. He’s proven he can win in a big baseball market, and handle the big names in the clubhouse. Lucky for us, we do have Bochy back this year, but if we didn’t, I would hope we could land someone like Francona. Kudos for keeping the leadership together.
  • Jon: I’ll give you a two-for and get myself kicked outta the Bay. Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria. Juan was worth some serious cash after his last two years, but the Giants would have been crazy to pay him more than the Dogs are giving him. 3 years @ $21 million, really? Edgar, you are forever at the precipice of Giants lore after your 3 run shot in the WS, but you’re old. Great dude I’m sure, but way too old to demand the kind of cash money you were looking for.
  • Steve: There’s a small part of me that would love to see Carl Crawford in the orange and black. Sometimes I fantasize about Cliff Lee. Also, what if the 49ers had drafted Aaron Rodgers instead of Alex Smith. Anyway, there is a part of me that says, open the wallet and go for it, but the best non-move of the offseason was not going crazy and keeping the band together. The formula over the past two years has been pitching, home-grown talent, and wiser/shorter contracts for useful vets. Keep it going!

Giants Dynasty?

ok, ok i’m a giants fan, so this is homer-positivity all the way, i’ll admit that upfront. but hear me out…the Giants are in the beginning of a national league dynasty.

two disclaimers to begin with:

1) i DO NOT think the giants will repeat in 2011. it is really hard to do, and in fact has proven to be impossible under the last two collective bargaining agreements (in place since 2002). the yankees haven’t done it, the red sox have won twice in that time frame but with two different teams, and the phillies went to the WS in back to back years but could not pull it off. playoff teams under the current CBA’s are evenly matched, meaning luck has a lot to do with it, and as much as i loved and appreciated the run of the 2010 giants (only WS champion in my life time and, for that matter, in my dad’s lifetime) they benefited from a good deal of amazing fortune (thank you cody ross, edgar renteria, brooks conrad, and the center field wall at AT&T, among other things, for that). all that to say any number of things could go incredibly wrong and mess it all up, which makes repeating very difficult, in fact impossible.

2) the competition is going to be good this year: the phillies just got scarier, the red sox have added a few good players, the rockies are locking up their young core, the white sox are quietly nasty, the reds could be even better this year, the cards can hit and pitch, don’t forget about the yankees (still pretty good) and it goes on and on. the giants are the same team essentially, and miguel tejada doesn’t exactly get the blood flowing.

with that in mind though, i do think the Giants have begun a golden era that could harken memories of the Atlanta Braves 1995-2005 run (or the yankees for that matter). let me explain:

1) the baseball powers of the day will be great in 2011 and 2012 but could enter into a down window after that:

i’ll post some red sox thoughts soon but maybe the best thing they’ve done is replace beltre/martinez with better (slightly) AND younger players. that’s key (the price to do was pretty steep however). on the other hand their rotation is getting old fast and it is my opinion that the last couple of years of the crawford deal will be painful (AGon, i think will age well).

same can be said for the phillies…as nasty as they will be in 2011, their guys are getting older and the game today, especially in regards to pitching, is more and more a young man’s game. they have a ton of cash tied in to three guys who will be in their mid 30’s, plus the lineup is aging fast (and showing it in injuries, a big reason i think the giants got past them in the NLCS)…it’s not hard to imagine philly trying to dump a lot of expensive old guys with big names after the 2012 season.

the yankees, as presently constructed, are in worse shape than anyone. they will be good in 2011 and certainly competitive every year after that, but again, tons of money invested in old and declining players means they will be vulnerable (see the 2010 NY Mets or the 2008 Yankees).

conclusion: the next two years are going to be ultra competitive and then a huge window will open up in which the big players will vulnerable. look for teams like the reds, royals, rays, and a’s to start thinking very strategically about the 2013-2014 window, the stars may be aligning for them during that time.

and it will be an opportunity for the Giants…

2) I will break down the Giants’ off-season and future outlook more in upcoming posts, but consider this…by the end of the 2011 season the Giants’ could have a lineup that feature a young, homegrown core of Posey C, Sandoval 3B, and Belt 1B to go along with the arms they already have.

a lot will have to break right for the following scenario to occur, but in 2013 the Giant’s will NOT have Rowand and probably not have Zito (any chance the Giants ship him to the Yankees now), and could have a completely homegrown lineup AND rotation:

CF Brown

RF Ford/Peguero

1B Belt

C Posey

3B Sandoval

LF Neal

2B Culberson

SS Crawford/Adrianza

1) Lincecum

2) Cain

3) Bumgartner

4) Wheeler

5) Runzler

and a bullpen built around Wilson, Romo, Sosa, at al.

conclusion: for that to happen a whole lot will have to go right. naturally, i don’t realistically think this will/could happen. but the giants are entering a window where they, like the vintage braves, could keep integrating a few young players each season around their core of great pitching providing the ground work for a consistent winner for the foreseeable future. a remarkable change events for giants fans. likely? we’ll see.

-SB