Thursday, May 18, 2006
The Best Kind of Sweep
To see the Houston fans cheer heartily like a bunch of Romans watching Christians being eaten by lions as Bonds was ducking Springer's pitches made me pretty sick. I can't in all honesty say that my reaction wouldn't have been the same if I were a fan of another team opposing Bonds, but good lord. Laughing with glee while a player dodges 95 mph projectiles hardly seems like healthy behavior. Seriously, screw you Astro fans. Hope you enjoyed that little spanking.
I must say, Pedro Feliz seems to be on a one-man assault on the Give 'Em Some Stankeye mantra that he sucks. Feliz has been hitting the crap out of the ball lately. I don't know if he's stopped swinging with his eyes closed or what, but whatever the hell it is, it's working. With the heroics in Houston and the vengeance-wreaking after the Bonds fiasco, the 'Stros probably found themselves with visions of Feliz as this guy...
Mike Matheny has also stepped it up a bit at the plate (though his .654 OPS simply merits a "terrible" rating as opposed to "Uwe Boll"), which means that at this point there is only one stooge diseasing the Giant lineup, as opposed to three.
The posts have been scarce, but I'm not dead, or even in a coma for that matter, just in the midst of a finals week/graduation muddle. I'll do my best to bring you bad commentary on the Bay Bridge series this weekend, hopefully with pointless You Tube links thrown in for the sake of annoyance. Speaking of which...
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Stuff That Does Have To Do With the Giants
So what happens? Oswalt gets belted around for 10 hits and seven runs and the Giants win easily. Pedro Feliz does his "once-in-a-blue-moon" big hit thing and hits a decisive home run off of one of the toughest pitchers in the majors. Maybe I should compare his batting skills to pitchers more often. Maybe the shelling was the karma gods biting the 'Stros in the ass for ostensibly throwing Oswalt at the Giants twice in the same series.
I got home from work at 9:30 last night, and switched the game on right as the Giant bullpen looked ready to cough up the win. I was beginning to think I was cursed, but it turned out that no, Tim Worrell just sucks.
Not to be hard on the guy, because I like him, but Worrell has been atrocious since leaving the closer role. Since April 20, Worrell has pitched 5 total innings (in seven appearances) and given up (lock the children away) 10 earned runs on 13 hits and five home runs. Yuck.
Baseball Prospectus is always commenting on how Worrell is actually an ideal closer because his record with inherited runners on base is atrocious, while he's always been better with nobody on (I'm too lazy to look up the numbers; just take my word for it). Perhaps it's not such a horrible idea to make him the closer, since Benitez always has Giants fans reaching for the Gas-X and Worrell has traditionally been solid in that role.
Speaking of Baseball Prospectus, they have Todd Greene rated as the team's fifth-best player according to Value Over Replacement Player. I'm just saying...
And I'm as sad as anybody about Jeff Fassero being DFA'd. Well, not really. I'll give him this, he was surprisingly terrific last year in a somewhat underrated role. However, even though he's being paid chicken scraps, he just has no business being on a major league roster at this point unless he's pulling a Jesse Orosco/lefty-killing thing out of his bum. I have to say though, that his time in a Giant uniform was a pretty good one, so happy trails.
The Giants play the Cubs tonight, a team ranking dead last in the NL in runs scored. Jason Schmidt could throw a 27-K perfect game tonight and we still wouldn't know if he's back to his old self because the Cubs minus Derrek Lee are horrendous.
The Giants face Rich Hill, a lefty who has had all kinds of control problems in his short time in the majors. Of course, this means nothing to people like Feliz, Matheny, et al, who will hack away at whatever pitch they see fit, scouting report be damned. Still, it's polite to point these control problems out.
It's fun to kick opposing teams when they're down, particularly teams stuck in doldrums worse than the Giants. Here are two of the Cubs' major offseason acquisitions:
Juan Pierre: .238/.284/.310
Jacque Jones .253/.298/.460
Meanwhile, Dusty Baker, with toothpick firmly in mouth, leans back and cackles at his critics, as younger, better, cheaper players toil away on the bench or in the minors. And the Cubs finish below .500 yet again. I'm beginning to understand. (Neifi Perez sports a sexy .440 OPS, in case you were wondering)
-I'm trying to shake the addiction, but....ehhhh, one more.
Stuff That Has Nothing To Do With The Giants...
This makes no damn sense, at least not in the basketball sense (as opposed to the business sense, as maybe the Maloofs are going cheapo). You'd be hard-pressed to name me ten active coaches who are undeniably better than Adelman. Popovich, Phil Jackson, Larry Brown...it gets pretty shaky after that. I'd like to know the reasoning behind this move, because I can't find a good one, especially after Ron Artest personally advocated Adelman yesterday.
Maybe it's one of those dry hump things like the Ken Macha debacle, where Adelman will just get a new contract. If not, good luck finding a decent replacement.
-OK, this does sorta have something to do with the Giants. For my school paper, we have an opinion column-type dealie on the sports page called On Second Thought, where three writers are given a topic to discuss. This week's topic is "What's the Craziest Post-Ejection Tantrum?", in honor of Delmon Young's antics a couple weeks back (speaking of which, he got what he deserved). My pick was the magical game in 1998 when Charlie Hayes was ejected in a game against the A's and tossed Dusty Baker over his back. Enjoy.
-And because I can't stop...
Monday, May 08, 2006
Matt Cain: 4 IP, 9 hits, 6 runs, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 4 (!) home runs. He might be on a short leash.
Jamey Wright: 6 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 2 BB, 2Ks, 1 home run. Started off terrible, but battled through six to keep the team in the game.
Matt Morris: 5 IP, 8 hits, 7 earnies, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 2 home runs. $28 million, not looking so good right now.
Ground control to Major Lowry: check ignition, and may God's love be with you.
One little comparison, just for the hell of it.
Pedro Feliz 2006: .233/.260/.375
Noah Lowry, 2005: .271/.302/.373
Again, Noah, really nice to have you back.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Split in Brew Town
When Mike Matheny came up with one on and the Giants down 5-2 in the 7th inning I was pretty much resigned to the fact that the inning was over, so I diverted my attention to other things (namely old men getting hit in the groin with footballs). Of course, when Matheny ended up lining a home run over the left field wall, I pumped my fist and yelled (always been behind ya, Mikey!).
Perhaps I've become jaded to the point where I can't even enthusiastically root for my team anymore. Has it gotten so bad that I just assume Giant hitters won't come through in key situations? And have these assumptions permanently impaired my ability to root on the Giants?
Maybe. Or maybe Matheny just plain sucks. The Giants ended up losing the game, but they at least showed some fight, coming back after being down 5-0. It would have been a much more deflating loss if they had simply rolled over without so much as a whimper. The fact that they came close to tying the game late is something to build on, at least.
The bottom of the order still can't hit worth beans. People, I'm not letting this go until we get it fixed. It's just interminable. The "Dump Lance Neikro" campaign seems to be collecting steam, and I'm certainly hopping aboard that bandwagon. The Giants' offensive woes are doubly problematic. One, bad offense means it's hard to win games, obviously. Two, it makes a team damned boring. If I'm going to have a bad team, give me a team with a good offense and bad pitching over the opposite. I mean, both scenarios are painful to watch, but a lineup full of bad hitters is excruciating. Seriously, how many Giants fans out there actually enjoy watching guys like Matheny and Pedro Feliz flail at crappy pitches?
Speaking of bad hitters: It's early, and Ray Durham is hurt, so there's no reason to harp about this too much, but Jose Vizcaino just should not be starting major league games with any sort of regularity, for any reason. Yes, he can walk, and those who read my stuff know that I'm all about guys who walk. But what the hell does it matter when you can't hit, and no manner of OBP is going to shield Vizcaino's hideous .485 OPS from our eyes.
Putting Todd Greene in the number three hole is the kind of creativity that I like to see from Felipe Alou. Unfortunately, it's still Todd Greene we're talking about here, and sure enough that whole brainstorm got shot to hell when Prince Fielder barreled into him in the second inning on a play at home plate. Again, Greene isn't Mike Piazza, or even Adam Melhuse, but heck, anything that gets him some more at bats in place of Matheny is fine by me, although with Matheny's fairy dust-filled glove, that probably won't happen.
On to better things, namely yesterday's 2-0 win, and Jason Schmidt's brilliance. Here is Schmidt's line from his last two starts, both wins:
16 IP, 2 runs, 10 hits, 16 K's, 2 BB.
What jumps out at you? For me, it's those two walks. Just from watching Schmidt in 2005 and his first few starts of this year, it looked like his troubles came from a lack of command. In 2003-04, when up in the count 1-2, Schmidt would either blow a fastball by a guy on the corner or get him swinging at a changeup just below the zone. 2005 Schmidt throws the fastball high and away or the changeup in the dirt on the way to a walk or a line drive hit.
In his first 27 innings, Schmidt walked 16 batters, and he was predictably struggling. Now he's seemingly regained his control, and it's been against two teams with above average offenses, not creampuffs like the Royals or something. Even when he was off, Schmidt could still limit hits and strike guys out. It was just the walks that were killing him. This new development is the most encouraging thing I've seen regarding Schmidt in quite some time.
The Giants face the Phils this weekend, a team likewise struggling to meet their high preseason expectations. Citizens Bank Park is a good place to get the bats going, although the same thing was said about Coors Field two weeks ago, and the Giants still found a way to screw that up.
Random YouTube stuff:
-This You Tube thing is my new drug of choice. You can find everything here, from ridiculous music videos from the 80's to baseball players karate kicking catchers.
For fun, here's some classic baseball brawlin', with our own Mike Krukow squaring off against Dave Winfield for good measure.
And because no one cares except me, here's the best scene from Pink Floyd: The Wall, featuring a couple of flowers, uh, mating.
And, before I go, God bless the person who put this on there.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
The Giants are now 13-12 and in second place. I hate to say it, but this team is going to sink fast if they don't make some changes soon. The offense is not there, the starting pitching has been off and on, and the less said about the bullpen, the better. This 13-12 stuff...pure Mysterio magic. The Giants have been outscored by their opponents and on several occasions (i.e. Saturday's escape job against the D'Backs) they've been flat out lucky to come out on top.
There are hitters who are doing their job. Moises Alou, Randy Winn, and Omar Vizquel could hardly be asked to do any better. Alou is killing the ball like he did in 2004, and he's single-handedly won about three games thus far.
Then there are the guys who aren't doing their job, and not surprisingly, they're the usual suspects.
Pedro Feliz: .208/.243/.313
Mike Matheny: .203/.259/.284
Lance Neikro: 232/.293/.319
Yes, it's early, but at what point do we stop making excuses for this shit? It's one thing if it's Barry Bonds or Ray Durham who aren't hitting; their track record indicates that they'll pick it up at some point (Bonds already has). But the Three Stooges are guys we all expected to hit like crap, and lo and behold, they're doing just that. The NL West sucks. Balls. However, I just can't see the Giants winning even this crappy division with non-production like they're getting out of those three spots in the lineup. Something needs to be done.
Which brings me to Kevin Frandsen. The kid has hit well in the minors and has shown the ability to steal some bags and take walks. Most importantly, he's not Pedro Feliz. That alone is enough reason to try him out as a regular and stick Feliz on the pine. Frandsen has three hits in 12 at-bats so far filling in for Durham, and I think it's worth giving him a shot at third base when Durham is back from the DL.
I don't know, he may be bad, and he may not be able to play the keystone well, and he could just flame out Chris Brown-style. Then again, he could turn into a very good player, like a Robby Thompson. The Giants won't know unless they play him. Conversely, they know what they're going to get by continuing to play Feliz, and that's a non-stop avalanche of steaming pig shit.
The pitching has been anything but steady, but there are plenty of good signs. Jason Schmidt broke out the first vintage Schmidt performance of the season, and frankly his best since 2004. Hopefully there are more of these to come.
Matt Cain's ERA is a lofty 5.28, but a lot of that has come from his tendency to give up the long ball in key situations. He's still tough to hit (.246 opponents' average), and his 1.31 WHIP is pretty good, an indication that if he can keep the ball in the yard he could turn into a top starter very quickly.
Brad Hennessey has pitched out of his mind. We probably shouldn't expect anything like this to continue, especially with the 5:9 K.BB, but it's nice as long as it lasts.
Finally, it looks like Noah Lowry will be back from the DL very soon, which is good for the pitching staff and the offense, since Lowry can outhit any of the aforementioned Three Stooges.
Now for the bad. Jamey Wright showed his true colors last night. Expect much, much more of this. He'd been good so far, but in the typical "good-but-really-not-all-that-good-when-you-really-look-at-it" way. He wasn't striking anybody out and was walking on eggshells in three of his four good starts. Patented Stankeye prediction: he's out of the rotation by the All-Star Break.
Matt Morris also scares me a little. His dancing curveball looks tough against crappy offenses like San Diego's, but against the Mets or D'Backs in Arizona, he just looks like another dude with mediocre stuff. And again, he's not striking out guys, which is not good in the long term.
The team squares off against the Padres (just as I write this, actually) after being trounced last night. They won't have to face Peavy, which is good. They do have Kevin Frandsen in there leading off, which is good. However, the Three Stooges are also in the lineup, and that's oh so bad.
-Quick note on the NBA action. Being a Clippers fan (don't ask), I've never been a fan of Chris Kaman. He was overdrafted, he turns the ball over too much, and frankly he just isn't that good, and I don't see him ever justifying his draft position. And if that's not enough, he just may be the most repulsive-looking human being on the face of the planet, or at least the worst-looking individual who gets any sort of regular screen time on television. Seeing him run around in High Definition is a horror show of epic proportions.
However, I can never say another bad word about him after what he did to Denver's Reggie Evans in Game 4 of the Clips-Nuggets series. That shove gave me all kinds of new respect for the guy, and I'm going to lay off him now.
If you missed the incident (here's video of the play), Evans (a guy who is basically in there to play dirty and do nothing else) essentially tried to tear Kaman's nut sack off going for a rebound at the end of a quarter. The buzzer sounded and Kaman responded by shoving Evans into the ground. I give Kaman credit for keeping his cool; a lot of guys would have murdered Evans on the court for doing that. Kaman didn't go berserk, but at least he did something, and he and the Clips came out on top, as Evans was issued a heavy fine and the Nuggets were spanked in five games. Mr. Kaman, you have my respect.
See, Pedro Feliz next time you play the Rockies, if you plant an elbow upside Jose Mesa's head, I'll never say another bad thing about you.
-He may be a white boy-hating sociopath, but Bonzi Wells is a freaking beast. He seems like, amazingly, one of the few players who Bruce Bowen just can't guard.