Thursday, September 28, 2006
The team is in a bit of a negotiating pickle. They'd surely like to retain Bonds on a deal in the low double digits, but if they can't agree to terms, the only remaining option would be to take Bonds to arbitration, which could be a disaster. Bonds is guaranteed at least $14.4 million if he loses; if he wins (and taking into account his history, it'd take like a Bill James/Alan Dershowitz super-tandem to beat him), the dollars could really skyrocket. If the two parties can't come to terms and the Giants refuse arbitration, the team can't negotiate with Bonds until May 1st, by which time some other team will probably scoop him up. So Bonds is pretty much in the driver's seat. What if he wants a deal worth $15 million for 2007? Is it worth it?
My take is basically this: hell, the Giants are paying Bonds $5 million a year in deferred salary until 2011 anyway, so the team might as well pay him to go out there and play since he's going to get that money regardless. Bonds is a big injury risk, obviously, but remember, it's not like we're talking about Ellis Burks or something, here. We're talking about maybe the best hitter of our generation, a guy who is right now tossing up a 1.000 OPS in a down year.
For all the flak Bonds has taken this season, he's still ranked as the fifth best left fielder by BP's VORP, and second on the team behind Ray Durham in that category. I think that we can justify bringing Bonds back simply because his mere presence in the batting order makes the lineup better. Opposing pitchers still fear Bonds's power, and that leads to a ton of walks, and that means a lot of times on base, which means more opportunities to score, which is always a good thing, unless Pedro Feliz is batting.
My favorite example of the Bonds effect on a lineup comes from 2004. Here's the Giant lineup from that year, with each player's 2004 OPS+ (100 is league average for those not in the know):
2b: Durham 115
3b: Alfonso 93
1b: Snow 144
LF: Bonds 260
CF: Grissom 95
C: Pierzynski 85
RF: Tucker 95
SS: Cruz 90
Feliz (who did get 503 at-bats) 98
Ledee -8 (just thought I'd throw that in for comedy's sake)
J.T. Snow's ridiculous second half notwithstanding, I don't think anybody would call this, with the exception of Bonds, an All-Star caliber lineup. Replace Bonds with even a hitter of the caliber of Moises Alou or something and this team is going to be hard-pressed to score 700 runs.
So how many runs did the Giants score in 2004? 850, second (by just five runs) behind a Cardinal team that featured Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Larry Walker, and Jim Edmonds, and that was with Neifi Perez diseasing the lineup for half the season. This is how awesome Bonds is. His ability to create a ton of runs can turn a run-of-the-mill lineup into a force.
Obviously, it's foolish to expect Bonds to mash to another 1400 OPS next year, but the 2004 example just shows how much he can impact a team even if he isn't quite what he used to be. Even if he plays just a little better than he has this year (not out of the question considering the second-half improvement), he could certainly help give the Giants a more potent offense, especially if the Giants find some adequate replacements for the corners and dump Feliz and Shea Hillenbrand.
But forget all that for a second. Forget the VORPs and the WARPs and all that stuff. I think we can all agree that it'd be worth it to bring Bonds back just to see him retire as a Giant. Nobody wants to watch Bonds, maybe the greatest Giants player ever, break Hank Aaron's record in a Yankee uniform or something. The prevailing wisdom is that the Giants won't be very good next season. Having Bonds for one more year not only gives the team a better shot at winning, but also gives the fans something to go to the ballpark for. And hey, if the team still sucks, we can watch the big guy break perhaps the most iconic record in sports and also give him one last hearty send-off. With a lot of franchise players, this kind of sentimentalism usually trumps common sense for the worst, but in this case I just don't see how the Giants can not bring Bonds back, no matter what the circumstances.
-Random Stankeye Stuff
-I know saves are stupid and overrated and all that stuff, but watching Trevor Hoffman break the all-time saves record was still really cool. Anytime a guy breaks a longstanding record like that it's fun to see the electricity at the ballpark and the emotions from the players. Kinda makes me wish the Giants had a decent closer.
-It looks as though the humidor has been turned off at Coors Field. Good lord
-This has probably been discussed elsewhere, but has anybody else noticed the absolutely horrendous year that Oakland's Antonio Perez is having? Good God, the man's batting line coming into today's game is .105/.190/.211, with 44 strikeouts in 95 at-bats! Somebody light a match! The weird thing is, Perez had been pretty good before this season. He hit a solid .297/.360/.398 as a semi-regular last year, and it seemed like quite a coup for Billy Beane to get him as a throw-in in the Milton Bradley deal. Maybe it's sample size bullshit, or maybe he's having vision problems or something, but he's been historically bad this season.
-For no reason, here are two of the most haunting music videos you'll ever see. This one, by an obscure band called Kenna, is beautiful. This one, by Pink Floyd, is just...weird (great song though).
-Finally, here's a trailer for the most hilarious (and one of the hardest...seriously) XBOX games I've ever played.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Guys I Don't Want Back Next Year
The future, John Ryder?
Yes, anonymous disembodied voice...all the way into the year 2007!
Let's face it, the team pretty much sucked this year, with the exception of like two red-hot streaks, so the list of guys I don't want to see back in a Giants uni next season is quite extensive. For time's sake, though, we'll just talk about those players who are impending free agents, which is why the obvious selections of Armando Benitez and Matt Morris (who would absolutely head this list) are omitted. Here they are, the Giant free agents I absolutely do not want back in 2007.
Pedro Feliz Ah, my favorite whipping boy. It seems like every time I come on here to post Feliz's horrific batting line, that batting line just gets worse. To wit: he now stands at .247/.285/.433. The average National League catcher is hitting .268/.327/.416. If Bumblebee Man were here he'd be jumping up and down yelling "Jode Horrible!" or something. Just ugly.
Giants fans should hope that Feliz reaches that 100 RBI mark (he's currently at 96), because then he may raise some eyebrows on the market and price himself right out of the Giants' 2007 plans. At $5 million per for about 3 years, which is probably what he'll go for, he's too expensive. Let's put it this way: if he took a minor league deal to stay in SF, I still wouldn't want him back. He's so frigging bad, and I can't believe it's taken people this long to figure it out. As a guy who's getting 300 at-bats or so in a platoon like he did in 2003, he's got value. As a regular third baseman who hits like a beefed-up Brad Ausmus, he's gotta go.
I've heard Giants fans argue that Feliz should be brought back simply because there are no viable alternatives on the free agent market. Trust me, if he's got two legs, two eyes and can lay off first pitch sliders in the dirt, he's viable. It's cause for Brian Sabean to get creative, to go all Billy Beane up in this shit and find an undervalued player wandering around who can produce for cheap. I'm sure there's somebody out there, whether it be a Quad-A player or a couple of guys you can platoon. Anything but Pedro. Please, this time, don't vote for fucking Pedro.
Attractive, yet not altogether realistic option: Aramis Ramirez of the Cubs has an option to back out of his contract and become a free agent this winter. It'd be a bit of a gamble; he's due to make $11 million in 2007. However, the opportunity to make even more, coupled with the fact that the Cubbies suck butt, may be enough to push him onto the market. He'd cost a ton, maybe upwards of $15 million, but for a stud 3B with 40-homer pop (he's not a product of Wrigley Field, as his home/road splits are roughly even), who hits for a high average, rarely strikes out, and plays solid defense, I think it'd be more than worth it.
Shea Hillenbrand Hillenbrand is a platoon player stuck in a regular's body, and the platoon player inside him is just screaming to get out, as evidenced by the .863 OPS against lefty pitchers (.737 vs. righties). Hillenbrand would be great if played strictly as a lefty-masher, a la Greg Colbrunn. Unfortunately, once you get that "everyday player" label, it's hard to ever go back.
It's easy to see how much Hillenbrand sucks when he hits .251/.280/.422, as he has with the Giants. Sadly, when he hits something like .287/.325/.449 (his career line), he still isn't very good, but that batting average gets people thinking he can hold up as a regular, when he's really just hurting your team, because he doesn't have enough power or patience for a corner. If he comes back on a one-year deal for cheap...meh. More likely, he goes to some pseudo-contender in the NL Central, helps kill that team's playoff chances, and earns a Giants legacy as one of Sabean's failed trade deadline acquisitions, like Shawon Dunston in 1998 or, God help us, Ricky Ledee in 2004.
Jason Schmidt It pains me to put Schmitty on this list, because he's one of my favorite all-time Giants and his 2002-2004 years were pure, unaduterated badass. However, the man is done. Well, maybe not done, but he's finished being a dominant pitcher and his declining strikeout rate and 4.78 second half ERA are reason enough not to bring him back. He'll command at least $10 million on the market, and with Matt Cain emerging as an ace there's just no need to shell out that kind of money for a guy who may deteriorate into a 3rd-4th starter-type in a heartbeat. If he takes a hometown discount to stay in SF, like J.T. Snow a few years back, then hey, now we're talking, but it looks like he's as good as gone. It's been fun, Schmitty. We'll miss ya.
Moises Alou Again, nothing against Moises, but he'll be 40, he can't stay on the field, and he'll be too expensive. Alou is an amazing hitter when he's healthy, but he's seemingly on the DL like every other week, and even when he isn't hurting, he gets every third day off anyway. As with Schmidt, it's probably best to just give Moises a shake of the hand, thank him for his services, send him on his way, and give Todd Linden a shot in '07.
Felipe Alou Dubbed "Flippy" by many Giants fans, Alou's time is up as a manager. He hasn't been horrible; I can think of quite a few other managers who are worse, but he has to be one of the most ineffectual team motivators out there at this point. My main complaints with Felipe over the years include:
-His penchant for bringing in like ten relievers in one inning of a blowout game. This is perhaps the most interminable thing to watch on a baseball field.
-His handling of Jason Schmidt has at times been absolutely unacceptable. A typical Alou-caused Schmidt disgrace from the past two years goes like this: Schmidt tosses 120 pitches through six innings to keep the Giants ahead, but is obviously gassed. Regardless, Crazy Alou sends him out for the seventh, Schmidt has nothing, gets smoked, and the Giants blow it. This happened like five times last season.
-His penchant for bunting his best top of the order hitters in situations that simply don't call for it. If I ever see Omar Vizquel bunt a guy from second to third with nobody out again, I'm going to throw up. The man is hitting .300, he's one of the best hitters on the team...let him swing the goddamned bat!!!! Felipe did this same thing with Randy Winn last year, giving him the bunt sign with runners on even though Winn was hitting like .800 in September.
-It has nothing to do with on-field stuff, but the whole Larry Krueger thing still bugs me. Yes, Krueger said some uncalled-for things, but refusing to accept his apology and then calling him a messenger of Satan? Are you two-years-old, Felipe?
-Ridiculous batting order construction. Failing to maximize Barry Bonds's at-bats by hitting him 4th and then exacerbating that by hitting guys like Shea Hillenbrand and Pedro Feliz third...it boggles the mind.
-Steve Finley. I don't know if it's really Felipe's fault that Finley has soaked up 420 interminable at-bats, or if it's more of a mandate from the top, but man, Finley is freaking horrible.
(Speaking of Finley, this FJM teardown of a Rich Draper puff piece on Finley this past February made me laugh then, but looking at it now, it's like ten times funnier, and maybe even a little sad.)
Like I said, Alou wasn't really terrible, but I think it's time to bring a new face in and let Felipe ride off into the sunset. It's a the beginning of a new Giants era, for better or worse, and I think the team needs a manager who doesn't adhere so much to old-fashioned baseball wisdom.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Tuesdays With Thommy
Since I always want to see my drunken bleacher antics caught on camera, I taped the game on FOX and watched a little bit of it later that night. The game was announced by Thom Brenneman and Steve Lyons, perhaps the worst baseball broadcasting tandem in recent memory. Lyons is an idiot paid to be an idiot, which I guess makes him tolerable, but Brenneman is just unlistenable and may be my least favorite announcer out there, which is really saying something. In every broadcast it usually only takes Thom like two seconds to go off on a ridiculous sermon or tangent, and he sure didn't disappont on Saturday.
In the second inning, Thom began to criticize...yes, criticize...the ChiSox offense for relying too much on the home run. Now, it is possible, I guess, that an offense can be too home run-reliant, like if there aren't enough players with high OBPs supporting the power or something, like the Cubs of the past couple years. Of course, the Sox are currently second in the AL in runs scored, so whatever they're doing, it must be working. Ripping on the AL's second-best offense for hitting "too many home runs" seems rather nitpicky, or maybe just outright stupid.
Anyway, apparently to support Thom's point, FOX then put up a graphic showing the five ML teams with the highest percentage of their runs scored on home runs, with the White Sox second behind the Reds. Thom then said, with his usual self-important bravado, and I quote, "interestingly, all these teams are in serious danger of missing the playoffs."
Yes, and interestingly, Thom, you're a complete idiot. I can also throw out completely arbitrary statistics all day long and declare them the reason a team sucks, too, but that would make me a bad announcer, wouldn't it? Now, a reasonable person would probably say 1)the White Sox's troubles have nothing to do with home runs or offense, but are instead due to a pitching staff that has struggled all season, or 2)what troubles? The Sox are a terrific team stuck in an amazing division in a stacked league. They're probably going to miss the playoffs with 90-95 wins. Most years, they roll to the playoffs behind their sick offensive attack.
Sadly, the moronicism (is that a word? no? eh, I like it) didn't end there. Thom then compared the Sox lineup to that of the Twins. I could immediately see where this was going. The Twins currently lead the Sox in the division, but keep in mind that the Sox have outscored them by like 70 runs. The Twins have quirky guys like Jason Tyner who bunt and sacrifice and steal bases and do all those small things that purists fawn over, so they must have a better lineup, right, since they don't rely on the big, bad home run ball? Am I right, Thommy? The response:
"(The Twins) may not score more, but they have more ways to score."
Ugh. Apparently Thommy is too dumb to realize that this sentence is like one big contradiction. "Now, this team has scored more runs, but that team has more "ways" to score, so they're better, even though they haven't scored as many runs, which would make them...not better?...I, uh...ah...error...PC load letter...ahhhhhhhh!!!!!" (Brenneman explodes in a cacophony of shredded risque photos of Steve Finley).
It seems to me that if Team A has scored a shitload more runs than Team B, that is pretty much a gigantic freaking indicator that Team A has more ways to score. The Sox don't bunt or sacrifice, they just hammer you to death. Again, a reasonable person could tell you that the Twins are second in the AL in team ERA, and have the best starting pitcher on the planet at their disposal, and that is why they are ahead of the White Sox. Their offense, while not as good as Chicago's, as Thom would have you believe, ain't too shabby, either (6th in the AL). Chicago's pitching? Not so good; it's 8th in the AL. There's your difference in standings, not because the Sox throw out some Neanderthalish method of bashing while the Twins dazzle with their labyrinthine offensive scheme.
Seriously, what is it about announcers these days that prevents them from recognizing what makes good teams good and bad teams bad? In 2005, the White Sox won the title behind an awesome pitching staff and an offense that blew. How did this get misconstrued as meaning the Sox won because they had a "smart" offense? This year, their offense is studly and their pitching is struggling, but now they're going to miss the playoffs because they hit too many home runs. My head hurts. Honestly, I'm not the only one who hates Brenneman, am I?
Also, in the middle of Thom's lesson in baseball, Steve Lyons threw out the old "sometimes you can't sit around and wait for the three-run homer" line, which is the kind of tired, half-cooked analysis I thought we had gotten past as a society long ago. Apparently I was wrong.
----The Giants got punked again today in Colorado, effectively putting their playoff chances at nil. Two things I'll be doing for the rest of the season:
1)Figure out how this team is going to be competitive in 2007. Who should we keep? Who should we drop? (Hint: Pedro) What young guys can make a difference? What holes can the Giants fill cheaply, and what holes should they spend money on?
2) Root for the Dodgers to crash and burn like never before. Root for them to miss the playoffs and then mock them all winter long. I have tickets for the final series at Mays Field and I want those games to mean something, dammit! 1982 redux. Screw you, Ned Coletti, if that is your real name. Tonight's 10-6 Dodger loss to Pittsburgh was a good start.
Monday, September 18, 2006
20 Runs? Uh, Colorado, Isn't That A Little...?
Bam! "No, it's a lot."
Today was a bad day. Please don't take a picture. The Giants pitching staff assed it up quite nicely tonight, with Noah Lowry screwing his ERA for the year by allowing nine runs in less than two innings. Tonight the Rockies were Jackson Pollack, and the Giants were the freaking canvas. And to top it all off, the Dodgers won a completely ridiculous game against the Padres in which they hit four straight (!) home runs to tie the game (!) in the ninth (!). If the Giants don't make the playoffs, I at least want to see the freaking Dodgers falter and miss the postseason. The Pads had recently usurped them for first place, and the Phils were riding their asses for the Wild Card, but this win tonight is the kind of thing that sets momentum. Remember Brian Johnson? Yeah, it's like that, only evil and filled with pornstachey mayhem.
Are the Giants done? I mean, no, they aren't mathematically done, but come on, spiritually and mentally they seem about spent. This is the third straight game that they've had their asses handed to them, and now they're five back of the Dodgers and 4 1/2 back of San Diego. Part of me still wants them to pull out a miracle run, while another part just wants to be put out of its misery. If Schmidt can't come back, this team is toast, but with Lowry and Morris being systematically beat around at this point, and the offense doing its usual up-and-down thing, the burnt bread may be ready to pop up already.
Anyway, like I said, bad day. I just...ugh. I can't write anything intelligible anymore at this point, so here's some youtube fun from better days to sate my laziness. If I try to analyze anymore, it'll just deevolve into a series of Cromagnon flailings meant to signify how much Pedro Feliz sucks.
I actually had another long post all written up about how much Thom Brenneman sucks, but my computer froze and I forgot to save most of it, so I'll be rewriting the thing tomorrow. Anyways, comment starter leading up to my post tomorrow: Does anybody hate Brenneman as much as I do? He may be, in my opinion, the worst announcer out there, which is like being called the crappiest member of the Raiders' offensive line.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Stankeye Quote of the Week 9/15
"Whoever would understand the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball."
"All I can say, really, is that Jacques Barzan scares me a little bit."
So, who do we root for in the Dodgers/Padres series this weekend? Simon Gruber has planted a bomb somewhere in New York and the only way to get him to defuse it is to answer this riddle. What do you do? What do you do?
I guess we can root for Dodger Stadium to blow up, giving the Giants the division by default, but then a lot of innocent fans would be hurt, even if they are Dodger fans. The best thing to do is just root for the Pads to take two of three and hope the Giants can win the series against the Cards.
POSTSCRIPT: Why is anybody whiffing at Jeff Suppan's 87-mph heat? Care to explain, Randy?
POST-POSTSCRIPT: Brett Tomko sucks.
YET-ANOTHER-POSTSCRIPT: If I'm a Tiger fan, I want to kill Cleveland pitcher Tom Mastny right about now. He served up A.J. Pierzynski's game winning home run last week and just moments ago blew a two-run ninth inning lead against the Twins. With the Tigers on the brink of a historic collapse, they must be preparing to bomb Mr. Mastny's house via air. About the only guy who can't hit Mastny nowadays is Neifi.
And the Giants are getting clobbered tonight. Two of three, maybe?
I'll be at the ChiSox/A's game tomorrow yelling stuff at A.J. I'll click some pictures and put them on here if I get around to it...not that anybody wants to see pics of the Oakland Coliseum.
So Long, and Thanks For All the Crap
Armando's final line for the Giants in 2006: 38.1 innings, 39 H, 31:21 K/BB, 3.52 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 6 HR, and 17 saves in 25 opportunities. Five of Benitez's blown saves turned into losses, with of course the most memorable one being the Termel Sledge incident against the Padres. He probably would have blown even more in the past month if Felipe hadn't yanked him in a few games before hell could really break loose.
The thing is, this disaster was very foreseeable; it's just that no one (including me) wanted to admit it. When Benitez was signed in 2005 (coming off a year where he had a 1.29 ERA), most Giants fans were ecstatic, ignoring the fact that Armando had been run out of like three cities already and his peripheral stats were in the midst of a major decline. Me? I thought his 2004 was a fluke, and I never like paying closers a lot of money, but after watching the Giants' disgrace of a bullpen single-handedly give away the division the previous year, I didn't care. Any sort of stability was welcome, no matter what the price. No more Wayne Franklin on the mound with the season on the line.
Sadly, stability has been the last thing the Giants have gotten from Benitez. His sinking K totals in '04 proved to be no illusion; his stuff just isn't that good anymore. He doesn't throw as hard as he once did and his formerly fearsome splitter is now basically flat as a pancake. To top it all off, he has the temperment and mound composure of a ten-year-old boy raised by beatniks. He's not a team player and has proven to be the worst kind of cancer. As Bugs Bunny would say, "good riddance to bad rubbish."
I don't usually condone kicking a man when he's down, buuuuuut......
Now the Giants get to test out, the hard way, the theory that you don't need a "proven closer" to close out games. Mike Stanton has been getting the save opportunities in Benitez's stead, but Billy Sadler or even uber-prospect Todd Lincecum could step in and give it a go. Stanton has been a major coup for Brian Sabean. I'm still not going to be happy if Shairon Martis turns into something good, but it may have been worth it if Stanton helps the Giants make it to the playoffs. It's the Doyle Alexander/John Smoltz argument all over again. Stanton has been nothing but solid since donning a Giant uniform. I kinda dismissed him as a good-for-nothing LOOGY from the outset, but he's impressed me with his ability to handle multiple innings. He still has good enough stuff to get hitters out, so he probably won't pull a Matt Herges on us down the stretch.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Dan Wetzel Is a Very Silly Man
Your article on Ryan Howard was one of the most moronic pieces of baseball writing I've ever read. How do you know that Howard has never taken performance-enhancers? How do you know? Because he seems like a stand-up guy? Because he's never failed a test? Well guess what, Dan, neither Barry Bonds nor Mark McGwire have ever failed a test, either. Yet you proclaim Howard's record (if he attains it) to be legit because you assume he's clean. Are you there every day in his locker, making sure he's not sticking needles in his ass? No, you're just writing gibberish and submitting it to Yahoo!
Don't get me wrong, I love Howard, and I think he's one of the most exciting players out there. But his 62 home runs won't be the record, in anyone's book, just because you ridiculously think Bonds let us all down by juicing. Bonds and McGwire are still the home run kings, without asterisk, whether you like it or not.
By the way, as for the "1998 McGwire fraud show", where the hell were you back then when all that was going on? If he was such a fraud why weren't you the first person out there, dismissing Big Mac because of his dependence on performance-enhancers? My guess is that you were too starstruck, like everybody else, to care. Now, with 20/20 vision firmly in place and the rest of your fellow hack journalists following suit, you condemn him as a fraud. Give me a break.
Having spent four years in college as a journalism major (and growing to hate the journalistic process ever so much), I hate bad, uninformed, biased writing as much as anybody. I usually leave the criticism of other bad sportswriters to people who can lay it on much better than I can (like the FJM guys...you can never plug that site enough), but sometimes I see or hear something so stupid that I just can't refrain. I know Yahoo! Sports isn't exactly the paragon of baseball prose, but good lord...
I wasn't kidding when I said I loved Ryan Howard. The guy is a freaking beast. But just because there's a general perception that he isn't a user doesn't mean its so. Did he use PEDs at any point in his career? I don't know, and neither do you. The assumption is no, but assumptions just don't mean anything. Just because he appears to be a guy who never juiced doesn't mean he never did. Alex Sanchez sure as hell didn't look like a juicer, but there you go. Do I care if he used PEDs? No. I just want to watch the man play baseball.
I'm sorry to say it, but as much as some people may hate it, Barry Bonds is still the single-season home run record holder, no asterisks needed. Deal with it. No amount of self-righteous screaming or pulpit-bashing will ever take it away. To deny Bonds and McGwire is to just deny history, and that's just not possible.
I very much doubt that letter will get published in Wetzel's mailbag, at least not without some serious editing, and I don't expect a response via email. I don't even know why I felt the need to write that jackass. I've been hearing dumb fans crowing about the whole "legit Ryan Howard record" for a while now, and this was just the straw that broke the camel's back. Maybe I'm just pissed because the Giants got shut down today by a formerly cornrowed numbnuts who released a shitty cover album.
Jonathan Sanchez goes for the Giants tomorrow in maybe the most anticipated start since Cain made his debut last year.
Monday, September 04, 2006
The Bonds Revolutions
I'm sure you're all familiar with the Matrix trilogy, in particular the final film Matrix Revolutions. Ok, the first movie was awesome, the second one pretty good, but Revolutions, at least for the first 100 minutes or so, was a really crappy movie, with only Monica Bellucci's bursting cleavage serving as any kind of redeemer. The last twenty minutes of the film, though, is, in my opinion, one of the most brilliantly realized visual feasts in recent cinema, a beautifully dark, rainy free-for-all between Neo and the film's villain, Agent Smith.
Basically, as the pseudo-apocalyptic fight wears on, a thoroughly burned out Neo (his girlfriend did just die after all) starts to get his ass kicked all over the city streets, as Smith throws him through walls, smacks him around in mid air, and piledrives him into the pavement from thousands of feet above the street. Despite all this, despite the amazing pounding he's been getting, Neo continues to get up and fight for his people, as a truly baffled Smith questions why he continues on this presumably pointless endeavor and why he doesn't just give in to inevitability.
You see, Barry Bonds is Neo, and the media is Agent Smith. Eh? Eh? Writers from all over the place continue to pummel him, calling him evil, a cheat, demanding he retire. The punishment never stops. As he's struggled this year, the talking heads have come out in full force, telling us that his problems have surely come due to the fact that he's not taking steroids anymore, and have nothing to do with his year-long layoff or his animatronic knee.
But despite all the pounding, Bonds just stays the course, going about his business, not playing the media game. As a result, like a bunch of ten-year-olds being ignored, the scribes begin to wail ever louder. "Why, Mr. Bonds. Why? Why do you persist?"
"Because I choose to." Smash. Another one into the Cove. Jeff Pearlman wallows in his own filth.
Bonds has four home runs in the past week, and if he stays hot like this, it'll be like the Giants picked up a superstar at the trade deadline for nothing. Bonds's swing in the past few weeks has looked as good as it has in a long time. It might get to the point again where pitchers will just walk him intentionally whenever he comes up, which would mean an OBP upwards of .500 and nothing but good news for the Giants offense, as that means more runners on base, plus the threat of a guy dominating a league for a month.
The Giants are at .500 with about a month to go. They've teased us before, but right now the momentum is there, and as long as the Giants play well at home and keep the ball far, far away from Benitez, I don't see why they can't at least make this race interesting.
-Huh. Just for fun, I Googled "Pedro Feliz sucks" to see what would come up, and sure enough, Give em Some Stankeye provided the first two results. Well, chalk up entry #3, I guess.
Far be it from me to start a Pedro Feliz Watch, but he currently sits at .250/.288/.447, a line that would barely keep Todd Benzinger in the lineup. There's got to be a better option out there, somewhere (There's not? Ah, crap.)
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Call-ups? I'd a' Called 'Em Chazzwazzers!
Such is the life of these guys. You know the poor bastards. Wilson Delgado. Dante Powell. Brian Cooper. Corey Bailey. I guess once in a while you can get lucky and rise to the occasion a la Shane Spencer, but mostly you just serve as fodder for Krukow's horse laugh.
The Giants are a team right on the bubble. They're in the Wild Card hunt, but one misstep and it'll be time to start playing the young 'ins. That's why Lance Neikro and Jonathan Sanchez are here, to take playing time away from the vets if the Giants fall apart in the next week or so. Oddly enough, and I doubt Felipe Alou realizes this, but the Giants almost certainly have a better chance making the playoffs by giving these guys some playing time in lieu of crusty Steve Finley and co. Ah well. Here are the seven callups so far and how they figure to help.
Fred Lewis He roped a double in his first major league at-bat Friday, which is always exciting. Lewis isn't a prospect, but he's got the stick (.276/.375/.453 at AAA) and the speed to be a very good fourth outfielder. I don't see what the Giants have to lose by giving him all of Steve Finley's at-bats. Could he be any worse?
Brian Wilson He's 24, throws hard, and was fairly dominant at Fresno, so I'm excited. Of course, I also was excited about Jack Taschner's 2006 prospects, and we all know how that went. It hasn't happened for Wilson at the major league level, mostly because he's walked 17 batters in 23 innings, but the bare bones of talent are there. He should turn into one of those cheaply-utilized bullpenites that I like to rave about.
Jason Ellison Here's his line from AAA Fresno in 192 at-bats: .406/.452/.536. Um, what? All right, what joker peed in Jason's coffee and made him go all Vorhees against PCL pitching? I think we can chalk this up to good, old-fashioned flukiness, but if he wants to break out the Frank Thomas impression this month, more power to him.
Jonathan Sanchez Ok, now we're on to something. A September call-up with some meaning. Sanchez has excited the Giant community for a while now, with good reason. He doesn't throw that hard, but he has one of those bizarre deliveries in the Sid Fernandez vein that is hell for opposing batters to pick up. Thanks to that delivery, his fastball looks like 97 instead of 90, and his breaking pitches are just pure evil. To quote Madeline Kahn in Young Frankenstein: "Woof!"
He strikes me as a guy who could be murder on lefties, but he's too good to be a LOOGY. He impressed in his earlier cup of coffee with the Giants this season, and he's supposedly going to get a few starts down the stretch, hopefully in Brad Hennessey's stead.
One caveat: he's a beanpole, he's left-handed, and he's under 25, so he just screams injury risk, and he may have to be babied. Still, why curb the enthusiasm? Stay tuned.
Justin Knoedler The quintessential perennial September call-up guy, having amassed only 11 at-bats in two stints in the majors. Knoedler is purely insurance, so that Felipe can pinch hit Todd Greene in a key situation and not have to worry about not having a backup in case Elizier Alfonzo gets hurt. Knoedler stunk with the bat at both AAA and AA Connecticut, so this looks like it might be his career. At this point, even turning into Tom Prince looks bloody unlikely.
Scott Munter I liked Munter in the pen last year, but his horrible K/BB rate came back to bite him in the ass. Extreme ground ball pitchers who don't have a strikeout pitch can succeed (just look at Chien-Ming Wang), but they aren't good bets to have long careers. He's got to either figure out how to miss some bats or stop walking people if he's ever going to be worth a hoot.
Lance Niekro All right, enough already. I'm sick of this guy. Just sick of him. Every time he does something like smash 14 homers in 120 at-bats, we get excited, and then he fumbles away his chance to stick every freaking time. Geez, man, either make it last or just go away. This is the worst rollercoaster ride of crap since J.R. Phillips walked the earth. He's supposedly going to get a lot of playing time this month. My prediction: lots of wild swings, few walks, and a brand new hole punched into the wall of yours truly. Haven't we seen this before?
-The Giants did take the series from the Cubbies, thanks to some timely hitting, a couple homers from Bonds, and a sick pitching performance from Matt Cain. In the first few inings of Saturday's game, Cain was making Cubs hitters look positively silly. Jacque Jones is still wondering where that curveball is. Cain now has a 2.71 ERA since the Break, with 71 Ks in 66 innings. Is it time to get giddy yet?
The Giants now face the Reds, who have lost eight of their last ten games. If the Giants are going to make a move at the Wild Card, now's the time to do it.
-Armando Benitez has reached the point where he's become a disaster of such proportions that FEMA should just move in and blast him with a hose. When the man can't even be trusted to protect a three-run lead, what's the use of trotting him out there anymore? Give me Stanton, Wilson, Krazy Krab...anybody!
-What the hell is the point of this article by SI's John Donovan? The Giants are old? Duh. That the NL West sucks? Double Duh. That the Giants aren't a great team? Call Arthur Conan Doyle! We've got Sherlock fucking Holmes here, and he's writing for Sports Illustrated! Methinks maybe Donovan was a little bored at his desk on that particular day.
-And because it's been a solid three months since I've tossed a random picture of a hot chick up here...um, yeah...
It's good to be back.