The National

Yesterday I had the joy and privilege of watching our fabulous Giants live in DC. This gave me my first opportunity to see this team live since 2008. That is a large drought!

I wanted to point out a couple of things as I watched our team that don’t appear in the normal stat line. The first thing about that game was it was weird. There was 9 walks and 3 HBP allowed by the Giants. That’s 12 free baserunners and they only scored 1 run. Amazing. Apparently that is the first time in the live ball era where a team has been issued 12 free bags and scored less than 2. Odd ball stat, but I like it.

There are a couple of fun quirks that I enjoyed about this team. Watching Tejada play third was interesting. HE MOVES A LOT! He is either stretching, practice swinging, or doing sprints. It was fascinating. Another interesting thing happened on every bunt attempt. He would sprint in to play the ball and when they pulled back or missed (they never actually bunted it to him) he would raise his finger and shake it. It was reminiscent of Mutumbo when he would block someone and shake his finger. It was genius and quite funny. You could tell he still has fun playing the game even if he is at third.

Another interesting thing to see was the fan’s reaction to Brian Wilson. Since he always comes into stadiums during commercial breaks, you never get to see how the crowd reacts.  The biggest reaction the fans had to anything was when he came out of the left field bullpen.  The place went nuts. All the Giants fans went crazy and the boos were ridiculous. I loved it. I guarantee that Wilson loves it too. Fun to watch.

The demographics in the stands were a little surprising to me. There were so many Giants fans. Holy cow! I didn’t feel like a minority at all. I have been to plenty of games in other stadiums and felt like a tool for wearing a Giants hat. Not here. I’d say that 25% of the stands were Giants fans. That isn’t an exact stat, but just try to prove me wrong. It was bizarre. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about the number of fans. I’m not sure if they are all band wagon fans that jumped on after the World Series, but I like fans that have been through the hard times. Now, no Giant’s fan is a bad fan, it was just a weird feeling. It’s probably what it feels like being a Yankee or Red Sox fan, but it was a unique experience for me.

If you’re ever in the DC area, you should try to get out to the park. It’s a really fun place to watch a game. The fans are great, the stadium is very nice and the ticket prices are really good. We sat in the club level which may have been a mistake because I think I spoiled my wife. She loved the padded seats, the separate bathrooms and indoor “classy” food court.  Overall, it’s a great experience and I’d highly recommend it.

I also recommend that the Giants win every day.

(-JS)

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!

Get Miggy With It

I was thinking to myself the other week, “Whatever happened to Miguel Tejada?”  And then BAM, the Giants have a new shortstop.

Don’t get me wrong, Tejada can be a great player, but I have to wonder if his best days are behind him.  He made virtually no news in Houston or Baltimore so I sort of assumed he sucked and vanished. He is never on my fantasy baseball teams, which is the barometer by which all players should be judged, so basically I just didn’t care about him.

When I first heard the news the he was now on the beloved Giants, I was pissed.  I wanted some spry, young whippersnapper to take over shortstop, not some old washed up fart. But because I drank the Brian Sabian Kool-Aid many years ago, I thought I’d do my homework on this grandpa playing shortstop.

What I found was actually exciting.  Some of you may know the following, and if you do, stop reading now because I’m about to bore you.  For the rest of you, it is quite all right to keep thinking I’m a genius.  Miguel (we’re on a first name basis now) has averaged at least 158 games per season since 1999.  Okay wait, he played 133 games in 2007 when he broke his wrist. We will forgive him because he was hit by a pitch.  Gamer.

He actually holds the fifth longest consecutive game streak at 1,151.  Double gamer.

He also has a decent defensive game. I’d count him an average shortstop with a nice arm. He can be prone to errors so I predict he will break all our hearts about 15 times this year.

Hitting wise, he can still play also. In 2009, he led the majors with 46 doubles. Granted he was playing in a ballpark with a freaking hill in center field. Ridiculous. Most encouraging, last year when he was traded to the Padres he hit 10 home runs in 59 games at Petco. That’s impressive. He has a .287 lifetime batting average which is fine except that has started to slide in the last 2 years.

Another potential for heartbreak is his ability to hit into the dreaded double play. He has led the majors 5 times in this category. Nary a good stat to lead the league.

So let’s sum this up.  If I were to tell you that our shortstop would bat about .275, get 80 to 90 RBIs, hit 15 to 20 HRs, score about 80 to 90 runs, and play every day, would you take it?  I would.  And that is about what he has been averaging in the last 5 years.  Most importantly, who else is out there?  Bobby Crosby, Orlando Cabrera, Cristian Guzman, Julio Lugo or Nick Punto?  I’ll take our chances with Tejada.

(-JS)