Monday, November 10, 2008


Timmy FTW!

Does this make the long and sometimes extremely painful 2008 season worth it? I say it does. Tim Lincecum has won the NL Cy Young Award, in a landslide vote that serves as a triumph for intelligent baseball analysis and forward thinking in the baseball community. For a while it seemed certain that Brandon Webb would get the award behind his gaudy win total, but luckily a majority of the voters recognized Lincecum's utter dominance and ignored the totally irrelevant difference in win total. I can't believe it, but the BBWAA actually didn't crap the bed on this one.

Crazily enough, this is only the second Giants Cy Young Award winner in the San Francisco era, and the first since Mike McCormick in 1967 (though hopefully Lincecum's post-Cy career doesn't go up in flames like McCormick's...yikes). You'd have thought Juan Marichal would have won it at least once, but nope, most of his best years were pitted against Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson, and no one wins those battles. The team never had a really dominant pitcher all throughout the 1970's and most of the 80's (Ron Bryant in 1973 and Mike Krukow in 1986 both finished with strong Cy cases, though). Bill Swift was awesome in 1993, but he had nothing on Greg Maddux. Jason Schmidt should have won in 2003, but lost out to Eric Gagne's perfect save season.

So, within a week's time, two encouraging progressive votes: Barack Obama as President, and Lincecum as Cy Young. It makes a guy incredibly proud to be an American and a Giants fan all at the same time.

I haven't been as active here lately, devoting most of my time to Bugs and Cranks (I even participated in a mini-debate over Timmy's Cy candidacy), so let's quickly get caught up on some other recent baseball and Giants developments.

--Perhaps you saw it already, but ESPN's Buster Olney wrote a piece arguing that signing C.C. Sabathia would make tons of sense for the Giants. The argument goes, in short, that Sabathia is a local kid who would boost ticket sales with his name recognition and would give the Giants the best starting rotation in the NL.

My full rebuttal to Olney's argument can be found here. My take is, essentially, that I don't think it makes sense to lock up another pitcher to a huge contract when the Giants aren't one pitcher away from title contention. Also, this idea that Sabathia would boost ticket sales by becoming the Face of the Franchise is exactly the same stupid line of thinking that brought us the Barry Zito disaster.

--The Josh Phelps signing: good. My face has turned a permanent shade of blue from arguing so much over the past few years that the Giants should be trying out Quad-A power types instead of bad veteran retreads to help solve their first base problems, so this fills me with glee. Phelps is 30 and he isn't like some first base messiah or anything, but he's still got power (he destroyed AAA in '08) and at worst could mix with Pablo Sandoval to form a quality first base platoon. Once again, my more fleshed-out article about this is here.

--Bringing in former Blue Jay and Marlin (and tatmaster) Justin Miller on a minor league contract is another solid zero risk, high reward move. Miller was merely okay in 2008, but he can strike guys out and sometimes these bullpen-types don't find a niche until they enter their 30's. He could slot in as a decent middle reliever, but if not, no harm, no foul. You gotta love those CHUBs!

--As for the shocking A's-Rockies trade that netted Oakland Matt Holliday, I have no idea what the A's are doing. This goes against almost everything the A's have represented since Billy Beane took over (or, you can argue, since Sandy Alderson took over way back when). There are murmurs from people who know better than I do that Billy Beane isn't running things anymore and has ceded baseball operations to his assistant David Forst. This trade could be another bit of evidence to support that theory.

Holliday is an impending free agent who forces the A's to take on more salary. He's historically just an above average hitter away from Coors Field (as opposed to a Hall of Famer at home), and he's a lousy fielder, by most accounts. His acquisition doesn't make the A's contenders, as their offense still sucks beyond belief even with his name penciled in the lineup every day.

To be honest, I don't think the A's gave up a whole lot. Greg Smith is a back-of-the-rotation guy with lousy peripherals. Huston Street is a middle-of-the-road closer and those guys are interchangeable. Carlos Gonzalez is probably the best of the bunch but he had a horrible rookie year and his awful plate approach probably didn't make him too popular with Oakland's brain trust.

I'm going to predict that the A's turn around and swap Holliday for a package that they consider more valuable than what they gave up. The Rockies had trouble dealing Holliday at the deadline last season, but many teams' needs have likely changed between now and then and I'm sure there are still suitors for Holliday's services. If it's not that, then maybe the A's are eyeing the two compensation picks he'll bring back when he leaves as a free agent. If not that, then I have no clue, because the A's still aren't winning anything, unless they compliment this signing with a big free agent acquisition like Rafael Furcal.

--For Veterans Day, a loving tribute to all who have served, and are serving, our country overseas and at home, from one of the best bands around.

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