Thursday, May 12, 2005


Pride Of El Camino High

Phil Rogers of ESPN has a nice piece on Cubs First Baseman Derrek Lee, who is off to a scorching start this season. Lee, I'm proud to say, is a product of El Camino High in Sacramento, the same school I attended and graduated from. Of course, Lee graduated a full three years before I became a Freshman, but I still like to make the association to give myself some sort of sad feeling of prestige. C'mon, everybody does it!

As mentioned before, Lee is off to a red-hot start to the young season, raking to the tune of a 1.209 OPS while leading the league in home runs with 10 and RBIs with 33. He is currently on pace to obliterate the 40 homer plateau many pundits have projected him to reach for a while now.

Lee first came onto the scene as a young prospect with the Marlins after they acquired from San Diego in the Kevin Brown deal. Giants fans may remember that in the last game of the season in 1997, Lee hit his first major league home run off of Cory Bailey (remember him?) to give the Padres the win (the game was irrelevant, as the Giants had clinched the division the day before). After being traded to the Marlins, Lee developed a rap as a Rob Deer/Three True Outcomes-type hitter, mixing good power and good plate discipline with too many strikeouts. While statheads liked him for his power bat and his ability to draw a walk, Lee's penchant for whiffing drew the ire of his coaches, and he was even demoted back to AAA for a stretch in 1999.

Lee eventually got his strikeouts somewhat under control, and since 2003 he has been one of the most dangerous 1B in the game. Lee's excellence goes past his prowess with the stick, however. He is one of the best fielding 1B's in the game, and he's a rare 1B who can steal bases, racking up a total as high as 21 in 2003. A more comprehensive study of Lee's history as a prospect can be found here in a profile by John Sickels at Minor League Ball.

In the linked article above, Rogers claims that Lee is underrated. It's tempting to agree, but when analysts are predicting 40-HR seasons for you before every season, it's a little hard to make that case. What I do know is that Lee is in the middle of his prime at 29, and should have several more excellent years in him. So one day, with grandchild on my knee, I can say with a proud grin that I went to the same school as one of the top sluggers in MLB.

Note: I had actually created this post for yesterday, but Blogger crashed and the whole thing got wiped. I was too lazy to then rewrite the whole thing so you're getting this now instead of a depressing summary of the Giants' losses to the Pirates.

Also, if you were wondering just who the hell Jeremy Accardo is, John Sickels attempts to answer that here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Tough Schmidt

One of my favorite pastimes is roaming through the local discount video store to check out which hidden treasures can be dug up amongst the crappy $3 VHS movies. I've been searching for the 1990 Captain America movie for a few weeks now, a film that I loved when I was 11 but I'm sure will find unwatchable now. The sight of a manic Red Skull chopping off his own hand to free himself from the grasp of Captain America, whom he'd just tied to a nuclear missile, seemed so hardcore back then, but now it will probably just seem cheesy. So far in my search I have come up with nothing. In the meantime, I've come across such timeless gems as Nukie, a heartwarming story about an alien stranded on Earth who befriends a couple of precocious youngsters. Any resemblance to E.T. is, I'm sure, purely coincidental. Then there's Dudes, featuring the incomparable Jon Cryer, and Daniel Roebuck, of Matlock fame. You can't find stuff like this at your local Blockbuster, folks.

As for my other favorite pastime (how's that for a half-assed segueway?), the Giants have won two in a row after dropping four straight to the Diamondbacks and, Nationals. Despite the stellar performance from Brett Tomko last night, the pitching staff has continued to perform at the levels of the aforementioned basement level VHS movies. Noah Lowry has been a Nukie-esque disaster in his last three starts, and the bullpen was horrendous in the first two games against Washington before salvaging Game 3 with a rare inspired effort.

To make matters worse, Jason Schmidt was put on the DL today with a shoulder strain. Hopefully the two-week rest will help Schmidt return to form. His lack of command and velocity has been well-chronicled, and the concern reached its nadir when Schmidt coughed up a 4-0 lead in Saturday's game. Alou expressed concern about Schmidt's workload, apparently forgetting that he had left Schmidt in to slog through a 131-pitch start against San Diego and then a 120-pitch start against Arizona.

Jeff Fassero gets the emergency start tonight. I know what you're thinking, but calm down for a moment. The Pirate offense is pathetic enough and SBC is enough of a pitcher's park that this might not turn into too much of a disaster. And after all, it is only one start. I think...

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Don't Forget to Put on Your Rubber Match

Well, I was wrong in predicting last night's game to be a slugfest, as it turned into a pitching duel between two slop-throwing lefties.

Today is Tomko v. Webb. Webb has some really nasty stuff and always scares me, and he's been pitching pretty well this season. Tomko dominated the Pirates' piddling offense, but against a pretty good Dback lineup, in a bandbox ballpark, he might be hard pressed to continue his recent solid pitching.

I'd love to see Lance Neikro get some more at-bats, but I fear his recent success is attributable to small sample size and the fact that major league pitchers haven't seen much of him. Once they realize he has a Feliz-esque distaste for taking pitches, things might not be so rosy.

And please, Felipe, let's keep Ellison in there and stick Grissom to the pine until Ellison cools off. His youthful exuberance is a nice contrast to the rest of the old fusspots in the lineup.


Sabermetricize This!

While Brian Sabean has been notorious for showing his disdain for everything SABR (at one point saying "Don't give me that OBP shit"), it must be noted that this year the Giants offense is showing some of the characteristics of a SABR-devised team. Coming into today, the Giants are 1st in the National League in runs scored (136), 1st in OBP (.355), 1st in OPS (.791), and 7th in walks, and this is all without Barry Bonds and his astronomical .609 OBP.

Of course, Sabean obviously didn't construct this team in the stathead vein, as evidenced by his doling out weird contracts to Mike Matheny and Omar Vizquel. Still, it's interesting to see guys like Vizquel, Ray Durham, J.T. Snow, Edgardo Alfonso, and Moises Alou demonstrate that you don't have to have a whole lot of power to have a good offense if you can just get on base. Heck, even Pedro Feliz, regarded by many as a hopeless case for finding his plate discipline, is on pace to obliterate his career high in walks.

Of course, at the other end of the spectrum, there's that pitching. The pitching staff is like the hideous Black Tom Cassidy, scheming to bring his cousin Banshee (the offense) down (boy, is that an obscure reference). The Giants pitching represents pretty much everything sabermetrics dread, comprising a group of low strikeout soft tossers and a bullpen that is about as dysfunctional as Mama's Family. The team's pitching staff is next to last in the NL in K/BB ratio, dead last in K/9, and 12th in WHIP. Regardless of your baseball philosophy, that's pretty crummy.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Stankeyeus Randomus

Here's a quick recap of some stuff, mostly unrelated to baseball, that went on over the weekend.

-Family Guy made it's triumphant return to network TV after a four-year hibernation. The episode, a delightfully sacreligious farce in which Peter and Lois stumble upon a secret copy of The Passion of the Christ 2: Crucify This , wasn't as brilliant as some of the early shows, but it was just so soothing to see Peter, Brian and co. back on the air again. The line "Let he who is without sin kick the first ass" might be my favorite quote in TV history.

-Here's a fun little story featuring a piece of scum who should be hanged in a public square. No, really. If you don't know who Ahmad Chalabi is, you damn well should, and you can read up on this charlatan here and here. I try to stay away from the political soapbox here on Stankeye, but there are just certain people and things that I can't resist going off on. Chalabi duped a bunch of naive neoconservatives into initiating this goofy war in Iraq and now he's making with the anti-American sentiment because it suddenly fits his agenda. He fancies himself an ally, but no reasonable person can say that Chalabi is anything but an enemy of this country.

-Former pitcher Tom House (better known as the guy who caught Hank Aaron's 715th home run ball in Atlanta) admitted today that he and a bunch of teammates used the late 1960's and early '70's. As John Perricone has been hammering to death on OBM, use of performance enhancers is nothing new in baseball or any sport. Only when a media-despised figure such as Bonds starts setting records do we get the pulpit-bashing from sportswriters.

-Oh yeah, and the boys in black and orange have won six straight, thanks to a sweep of the hapless pirates and a thrilling win over Arizona last night. The team's pitching is looking absolutely gawdawful, but the offense has been picking them up.

Jason Schmidt's velocity is down, so let's hold our breath and pray it isn't due to some undisclosed injury, just early season kinks. His inability to hold a 7-2 lead is less than encouraging, though Felipe shouldn't have let him start the seventh, as Schmidt was clearly gassed. The bullpen did its usual crappy thing, with Tyler Walker giving the Giants community heart palpitations with his brink of disaster performance in the 10th before miraculously getting Shawn Green to fly out with the bases loaded, on a 3-2 count no less.

Lest I forget, Mike Matheny continues to prove me and just about every other cynical Giants fan wrong by not embarrassing himself at the plate early on. He has three home runs already, including last night's grand slam off of Russ Ortiz, and his .800 OPS looks rather shiny. Of course, this is a man with a .633 career OPS, so let's not mess ourselves just yet, but Matheny's early-season swinging is putting a lid on my mouth for now.

It's Rueter v. Halsey in Round 2 tonight. Woody pitched pretty well in his last start, and he's been decent (4.30 ERA) at the BOB over his career, but at this point I'm just not confident in predicting anything better than a 5-inning-and-out start for Rueter. The Giant offense should be able to chew up on Brad Halsey, though, so look for another 8-7-ish ballgame tonight.

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