Thursday, July 30, 2009
Giants Deal For Crappy Infielder; Sky Is Blue
Okay, so I caught wind of the Freddy Sanchez rumors yesterday at work. When it became almost a certainty that Sanchez would be a Giant, I started rolling around who would be sent the other way to Pittsburgh. Probably not a great prospect, I figured, certainly not one of the Big Four. My guess was some combination of Kevin Frandsen (would have made sense) and/or one or two Scott Barnes-esque A-ball types that we've never heard of.
Later on I learned that it was indeed Tim Alderson, one of the Four, being sent to the Pirates. Tim Alderson. The 60th best prospect in baseball, according to Kevin Goldstein of BP, and a guy placed on many Top 100 lists before this season. A bit after that, I read that no money would be changing hands, i.e. the Pirates would not be paying any of the $6 million owed to Sanchez this year or the $8 million option that will most likely vest for 2010. As it so happens, my day job requires me to be very friendly to all of the people I interact with on a daily basis. No, this wasn't going make it easy.
Freddy Sanchez once won a batting title by hitting .344. That's wonderful, but man cannot live on batting average alone, and that was three years ago, anyway. Since then he's been decent-to-awful and, at 31, he is not young nor getting better. He doesn't walk, he doesn't hit for power, and he doesn't play phenomenal defense, certainly no better than Juan Uribe. He's a singles hitter with a mediocre OBP, a sub-.700 OPS waiting to happen. Don't the Giants have enough of these guys already? And as if that weren't enough, he's also hurt. Just ugh.
In fact, at this point, Sanchez isn't much of an upgrade from Uribe playing a full-time second base. That's not flattering. I don't think Uribe can sustain his current hitting line, but the fact that it's even close should be a big freakin' indicator that maybe this trade isn't worth it. The only reason this trade was made was because of the shiny All-Star credentials Sanchez has, but someone needs to tell Brian Sabean that someone had to be the Pirates' representative all those years. It wasn't going to be Tike effing Redman.
There are some Giants fans now who want to see Sabean waterboarded and lynched, much less fired, over this. I don't like the trade at all, but I will say that I don't see it blowing up in the team's face. The major reason for this is that Alderson just isn't the prospect he was coming into the season. Scouts have been down on him all year, as apparently his stuff has waned to that of a finesse lefty. Keith Law, who used to rave about him after having seen him pitch in high school, said in a chat today that he basically projects as a fifth starter now. Yeah, that doesn't exactly get me excited.
So trading Alderson isn't the end of the world, and probably doesn't merit the kind of venom being spit at Sabean in the past 24 hours. My question: If you are going to trade Alderson, was it even remotely possible to nab either Adam Dunn or Josh Willingham? Why not use that trade chip to net a guy with power who could improve the lineup substantially? I voiced concern about the defensive side of the spectrum, but if the Giants are just going to put Velez out there, why not go after one of these slow guys?
I'm basically having too much fun with the Giants to get too riled up about silly trades like this. I'm perturbed, but not ready to jump in front of an oncoming semi...yet. Freddy Sanchez isn't that good, the Giants overpaid for him, but it's probably not the worst thing in the world and he will be at least a marginal improvement, for what that's worth. It just seems like the team could have gotten a little more for what they gave up.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Cellar Door (or, Garko Rhymes With Darko)
The pitcher the Giants gave up, Scott Barnes, is leading the Cal League in wins and strikes out a fair amount of batters. From what I read, he's sort of a finesse guy who outthinks opposing batters, something that may not last the higher up the chain he climbs. In a system already loaded with pitching, the Giants aren't likely to miss him.
Garko isn't a star but he provides power and a pretty solid upgrade to the lineup at the cost of a C-grade prospect. No harm, no foul. More insightful words to come tomorrow, when I'm not half asleep and drunk off of a 15-K Tim Lincecum performance.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Road Trip Over; Permission To Stop Panicking Granted
A few comments on the Colorado series. Coors Field is usually a place where the Giants lose in the most horrible ways possible, like building up a 15-run lead and blowing it in the ninth when Fred Lewis loses a fly ball after being tackled by Morganna the Kissing Bandit, or something. This time, the only crazy thing that happened was a hawk swooping in and nearly killing Andres Torres in the outfield. The Giants lost the last two games in routine, boring fashion. They got behind early and couldn't catch up because their offense sucks. Simple. Easy. No giant leads blown or Neifi game-winning bombs to speak of.
Anybody who hasn't been indoctrinated in the wonders of DiPS theory and still thinks defense is overrated obviously hasn't seen Troy Tulowitzki play. Good God, does anything get by this guy? A Giant would hit a hard grounder up the middle. Would it slip through for a single? Nope, there's Tulowitzki. A Giant hits a slow chopper past the pitchers mound. Can he beat it out for an infield hit? Nope, there's Tulowitzki. A fire breaks out in the luxury boxes and a damsel in distress screams for her life. Will she perish? Nope, there's Tulowitzki.
For those who are flabbergasted why Jason Marquis suddenly looks like a genius after years of wallowing in overpaid mediocrity, look no further than the Tulo/Clint Barmes middle infield tandem. The Rockies have a staff anchored by a bunch of extreme groundball pitchers, and when you have this caliber of fielder around the diamond gobbling up everything that moves, it's not hard to see why the Rockies' pitching as a whole has been so good this year.
Speaking of defense, when the Giants trot out an outfield of Randy Winn, Nate Schierholtz, and Andres Torres, that's one of the best outfield defenses you'll see these days. That's very important, because if you go here, you'll see that the Giants have a staff full of extreme fly ball pitchers. Obviously, if your outfielders cover a ton of ground, and your pitchers give up nothing but fly balls (which are less-likely to go out in Mays Field, to boot), that's going to lead to a lot of outs.
This is why I shrug a little when fans demand a trade for a defensively-challenged slugger like Adam Dunn or Josh Willingham. Yes, the offensive gain is enormous, but you can't just stick a sloth in the outfield behind this pitching staff and expect everything to be okay. If you think Barry Zito's ERA looks bad now, just imagine all those fly balls he surrenders suddenly dropping for doubles because Dunn is out there running like he has a boulder in his trousers.
--I hate to say it, but I think we're seeing the real Big Sadowski. Yeah, maybe I'm overreacting to one bad start in Coors Field, of all places, but just look at the fateful third inning. With runners all over, in a strikeout situation, Sadowski started nibbling. And nibbling. And nibbling.
Why wasn't he going for the strikeout? Because he has no strikeout pitch. Once it became clear that he didn't have anything to challenge Rockie hitters with, it looked like he was just closing his eyes and praying they would chase breaking balls out of the strike zone. Not surprisingly, Bruce Bochy got him the hell out of there while the game was still close.
--I'm not sure you can say enough about Justin Miller this year. Plucked off the scrap heap before the season, he been one of the team's most valuable relievers. He came in today to snuff out the third inning rally before it became a complete debacle, then pitched a scoreless fourth, as the bullpen as a whole did a good job of keeping the game close.
Miller has proven himself adept at both squirming out of late-inning jams and providing quality work as a general long man. He serves a purpose that is not glamourous, but seeing as how the Giants have suffered through so many mediocre middle relievers over the past few years, he's a godsend right now. I'd love to see him back next year, and he further justifies my undying allegiance to the Cult of the CHUB (CHeaply Utilized Bullpenite).
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Head In Oven Watch: Day Two
The offense? Still MIA. The Big Sadowski? Just...done. John Bowker? Still in the majors, in the starting lineup, but ineffective. Rich Aurilia? Still miraculously on the team, albeit with a hilarious fake injury. I fell asleep midway through tonight's game, but it was still on the TV in the ninth inning when I woke up, so I still get points for technically sticking this one out.
The return to Mays Field can't come soon enough. If the struggles of the past two series weren't bad enough, the Giants have to play three games in that Colorado hellhole after leaving Atlanta. Nothing ever goes well there. Tim Lincecum goes tomorrow, providing hope that the Giants can at least salvage one of these games, and maybe a series split if Good Zito shows up Thursday.
For now, though, that headline seems about as likely to appear as "Sidney Ponson Pitches Well, Isn't a Fat Degenerate." Screw it, there's nothing good to say about this team right now, and if you can't say something nice...
--Barry Zito shut down his Twitter recently, which is bad news for people who actually think that any of these athletes are interesting people away from the field (they aren't...but there are exceptions). Speaking of uninteresting people with Twitter accounts...ahem.
--More on Zito. Baseball Think Factory (still threatening to destroy my social life on a daily basis) presented a study on whether Zito is actually worse than his statistics attest because of his extreme inconsistency. In other words when he's bad, he's really bad, and maybe that hurts the Giants more than just any ol' pitcher with a five ERA.
The conclusion? Probably not, but read for yourself.
--Bay City Ball had this post recently that I found very neat, examining the Giants' OPS by position over the past ten years, as compared to the league average. The Bonds-spattered blue line in the outfield graph is obviously historic, but that red line representing first baseman is just a sick joke.
--Last but not least, More Hardball has a loving post on Dave Dravecky, one of the most inspirational sports figures in history. Dravecky's victory over the Reds in his first game back from what should have been career-ending surgery was, well, amazing.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Post All-Star Break Blues
Seriously though, I got back Sunday just in time to see that the Giants had been busy laying down their arms to the Pirates. Is it just me, or does every Giant hot streak seem to come to a grinding halt once the team rolls into Pittsburgh? Must we remember the consecutive extra-inning losses in 2004, or the ill-fated clash between two viscerally-hated Giants in 2006? The Giants managed to score one run in the first 23 innings of the series. And just when we thought this offense had some giddy-up, after all.
Tonight's game was more of the same, with the Giants able to eke out three runs only because Nate McClouth has a habit of letting routine fly balls drop twenty feet behind his head. Couple that with a bullpen meltdown from an unexpected source (Sergio Romo), a boatload of (ugly-looking) strikeouts at the hands of the nasty Tommy Hanson, and an injury to Aaron Rowand, and I had honestly flipped over to "Mythbusters" by the time the seventh inning had ended. Finding out whether you can turn crappy vodka into top shelf vodka by running it through six filters seemed sooooo much more interesting than watching the bullpen serve up longballs to Braves scrubeenies.
Hopefully this lull is just your typical road woes, and the perfect cure is the start of the seven-game homestand next week, with the lowly Pirates arriving to help the medicine go down. I'll tell you one thing, watching this offense is a good way to test the limits of your sanity. Even Duane Kuiper is getting noticeably cranky on the air!
--Don't look now, but Aaron Rowand's batting average is down to .275, and he certainly looks a lot more like the '08 version of himself that Giants fans hated so much than the super-leadoff hitter that possessed him in May and June. Perhaps the whole leadoff thing was more correlation with his hot streak than causation? Were we wrong to believe that he had suddenly transformed into Roberto Clemente simply because of a shift to the top of the order? The rational baseball nerd in me knew this success would be fleeting, but like a subtitle for a crappy X-Files sequel, I wanted to believe.
--Ryan Sadowski (or, El Saderino, if you're into the whole brevity thing*) will start tomorrow, hoping to still have some of that magic voodoo dust left that has enabled him to get so many outs with so little stuff. John Bowker looks like the number one candidate to get sent down, but many are clamoring for Rich Aurilia's head. Nostalgia and awesome goatees can buy you a few weeks of extra life, but the Giants didn't seem to have this same problem when cutting Kirk Rueter loose, and he was more beloved than Richie.
*Honestly, we need...need...Sadowski to have a ten-year career just so we can continue to make these stupid Big Lebowski jokes at every oppurtunity. If, in thirty years, I can go to Sadowski's Baseball Reference page and see under "nicknames" the words "The Dude", I'd die a happy man.
Monday, July 13, 2009
First Half Pablos
Also, the unholy announcing trinity of Chris Berman, Joe Morgan, and Steve Phillips has got to be the worst collection of nincompoops ever to be clustered into a booth for a popular sporting event. I tuned in today just in time to hear Berman's ear-immolating "Back! Back! Back!" home run call and another of his horrible player nicknames, and that was all I needed to change the channel faster than the speed of light. There was no way in hell I was going to sit through that for more than five seconds. Luckily the MLB Network was playing the 1971 All-Star Game (Reggie Jackson's light tower shot off of Dock Ellis), and my baseball craving was sufficiently satisfied for the day.
On to the Giants, and some first half heroes and zeroes. Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way first...
1st Half Most Valuable Hitter
Pablo. Let's see, He's first on the team in just about every major offensive category (including second in walks...WTF?!). He's handled third base with reasonable aplomb when everybody thought he'd be a sort of infield Glenallen Hill redux at the position. To top things off, he's cooler than a sloth of polar pandas jamming to Van Halen's "Ice Cream Man". Yeah, that's really cool, if you didn't know.
So we all thought Pablo had the ability to hit .330. He did it over and over in the minors, after all. No one thought we'd see this kind of power display though, at least not yet. I think 15 home runs for the entire season was an optimistic projection for Sandoval. In fact, I predicted he'd do just that back at Bugs and Cranks. Now 30 bombs is a realistic goal. That's crazy. Being able to hit .330 with this kind of power is elite. All the more frustrating that he got completely shafted in the All-Star picks.
1st Half Most Valuable Pitcher
Tim Lincecum. Duh. Is he walking on water yet? Maintaining that ridiculous strikeout rate while cutting the walk rate by a third is, as we cool kids say, taking it to the next level. He's been able to pitch deep into games without racking up big pitch counts and he's on the fast track to Cy #2.
He'll get the All-Star start tomorrow, one year removed from unfortunately having to miss the game last year due to
Least Valuable Hitter
Edgar Renteria. He's not exactly quieting the naysayers who called him washed up, is he? He isn't hitting for any power, he isn't getting on base a lot, he isn't playing particularly good defense, and he's getting paid $9 million this year and next. Other than that, no problem.
Least Valuable Pitcher
Groan. I've spent so much time over the years dwelling on the bad (awful contract; obnoxious, uninformative Twitter account, etc.), that we should probably look at some encouraging points here. Yeah, his ERA is back over five, but his strikeout rate and his velocity are both up this year, and his walk rate is down. That, and a run of pre-2007 Zito-ish effectiveness in May and June, could provide some hope that Zito won't be a complete waste down the stretch. I can't help but be reminded of a certain song by The Who, however.
Stories For Boys. We were all clamoring for the youth movement to start, so how's it going? All things considered, not bad. We all know about Pablo, of course. Nate Schierholtz is finally getting some playing time, and he's impressed with both bat and cannon arm (Cody Ross still doesn't know where that throw came from).
I'd still like to see the Giants throw up their hands and give Kevin Frandsen the second base job, but Lefty Malo has a good point about sticking with Juan Uribe as long as his bat is hot, since his glove is top-notch. I generally agree, but I wouldn't put money on Uribe hitting .301/.328/.464, or anything close to that, for much longer.
Travis Ishikawa's career looked dead as a doornail as May dawned, but he's found some of that old AAA power stroke and he's been at least acceptable, with more room to grow. The burning question: If Ishikawa basically tops out as a .270/.340/.430-type, is that enough to support his great glove? The Giants lived with J.T. Snow basically doing this in the early years of the '00's, but then again those teams had a great offense surrounding him. This is a lineup that needs all the help it can get, so common sense dictates that the team look for an offensive upgrade at the position where it's easiest to find it. That glove sure is sweet, though.
The only real youngster washout was Emmanuel Burriss, who fell into an 0-for-bajillion slump and found himself on a bullet train to Fresno. He's now out for the season with an injury. Yuck. He's talented enough to be a good player, even if it's not as a starter, so here's to a speedy recovery.
Funny fact: I liked to justify Burriss's powerless bat by telling everyone who would listen that his glove was so good, it didn't really matter that he couldn't hit it over the first baseman's head. Then I looked at the numbers. Turns out, Burriss has a UZR of -3.9, so he was actually costing the team runs in the field. Again, I think Burriss will be a good ballplayer, but damn, he really was terrible this season.
Wooly Bully. Last, but not least, let's hear it for the bullpen, the unsung collective MVP of this team. Jeremy Affeldt and Sergio Romo have been steller, Brian Wilson has been pretty good, for the most part, but most surprising has been the performances of Justin Miller and Brandon Medders. Miller has proven adept at squeezing out of tight jams, while Medders has transformed from disposable mop-up man to a guy who doesn't scare the crap out of me if he comes in to a crucial late-inning situation.
Not many are talking about it, but one of Brian Sabean's most impressive accomplishments this season has been to turn what was a mishmash of unknowns in 2008 into one of the team's key strengths. Wilson is still suspect at closer, but it's nice to have bullpenites like Affeldt and Romo who you have complete confidence in. It hasn't been this way since the Felix Rodriguez-to-Robb Nen days of yore, I don't think.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
On the other hand, I've seen the Giants get no-hit more often than I care to mention. I watched Kevin Brown dominate them in '97, then saw Kevin Millwood no-hit them six years later. I remember Kevin Gross (?!) no-hitting them once, and also Terry Mulholland (?!?!) like a year after the Giants traded him for Steve Bedrosian. Mike Scott famously no-hit them to clinch the NL West championship in 1986. So since I've been alive on this planet the Giants have always been the no-hit victims, not the ones dishing out the zeroes.
That all changed Friday night. Until the moment the final out was recorded, I refused to believe that Jonathan Sanchez was actually going to become the first Giant in over 30 years to throw a no-hitter. With every strike one fastball poured down the plate, with every befuddled Padre batter death-marching back to the dugout, with every nasty slider that hit a cluelessly swinging Kevin Kouzmanoff in the shin, I still told myself that, no, I'd seen this before, and I was destined to be disappointed. I wasn't going to answer the siren song of getting my hopes up. Hell, it happened the night before with Tim Lincecum!
Except that Sanchez didn't disappoint. The Padres couldn't touch him until the bitter end and he finished off one of the most spectacular pitching performances I've ever seen by a Giants pitcher. I mean, it's one thing to throw a no-hitter where you strike out like four guys and your defense makes all the plays behind you. Sanchez was just completely dominant, with one of the filthiest sliders going that you'll ever see. It was enough to bring a tear to a poor, beleaguered Giants fan's eye.
A lot of us had been down on Sanchez for a while now. He's always had the potential and the stuff to do something like this, but he's always been undone by awful control. After his early season problems, I personally was ready to give up on him ever turning his talent into something worthwhile. Oops.
Krukow had mentioned that Dave Righetti had had Sanchez tweak his mechanics a little (he's bringing his front leg back further), and apparently that paid immediate dividends. So one week Sanchez has me pondering the career potential of Ryan Sadowski, the next he has me jumping up and down and yelling like an idiot in front of the TV. Baseball is a crazy game. I guess it's safe to say that Sanchez has his rotation spot back for good.
--Aaron Rowand may have completely justified his contract with that leaping grab in the ninth inning of Sanchez's no-hitter. When I saw the arc of that ball, I nearly had a heart attack.
--Funny story. When the game was over, a friend of mine tried to send me a text that said "Damn Uribe", in reference to Uribe's error, which prevented Sanchez from completing a perfect game. However, his iPhone's autotext read the message as "Damn Urine", and that's what I received. I replied by saying that that Urine guy sucks, too.
I don't get angry at Uribe for that play. It was a tough short-hop that would have handcuffed almost anybody. If it had been an easy bouncer with a true hop, then maybe it'd be fair to get mad at him.
--The Giants seem totally incapable of finishing off a sweep of any kind. Today Bad Zito made his triumphant return and the Pads salvaged one game in the series. Screw being humble, I wanted blood! I wanted a four-game sweep and that much more momentum going into the All-Star Break.
Oh well. The Giants end the first half with 49 wins and are on pace to go 90-72 and win the Wild Card. There are still some issues to deal with, like adding another power bat, but damn, this has been some fun!
--What's up with Eliezer Alfonzo suddenly acting like a total douche? Did the Giants do something to piss him off? I mean, other than not re-signing him because they realized he sucked and was a steroid cheat?
Today ol' Notgardo flipped his bat after launching a home run in the 3rd, then tried to pick Bengie Molina off at second base...in the late innings of a 9-1 game. I mean, the latter isn't heinous or anything, but give me a break. I think Bengie had some words for him a little later. As for the former...methinks if you're a crappy second-string catcher on a horrible 100-loss team, you shouldn't be doing bat flips in the batter's box. To wit: that home run was sandwiched around three strikeouts.
--The Giant Panda Screw Job (that's what I'm calling the All-Star Game this year. I mean, Zach Duke? Ryan Franklin?? They couldn't squeeze Pablo in there somewhere?) festivities start tomorrow. We'll take a look at some of the MVPs of the first half and some of those who, um, aren't living up to their contracts.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Sweep! or Bleep?
I guess that's all there is to say about today's game. All it takes is something like this to bring us back to the crushing reality that the Giants still have a pretty crummy offense. They've been plating more runs of late, which is great and all, but that doesn't take away from the fact that Bengie Molina is still the cleanup hitter and Aaron Rowand is the team's second-best hitter.
A deal is coming, but probably (hopefully) not one that will relinquish one of the "Big Four" prospects. If that's the case the return will probably be pretty uninspiring. I wouldn't be surprised if the wonderfully "meh" Adam Laroche finds his way into a Giants uniform soon, although I think I'd just as well take my chances with Travis Ishikawa's improving bat and magical glove.
--Ryan Sadowski gave up his first runs as a major leaguer today. His first two starts were awesome, and stories like his are great, but the pessimistic stat nerd in me is ready to whip the pen out from the pocket protector and scribble all over his sudden success. As I'm sure you know, his minor league numbers are not spectacular at all. Not in the least. He's like the Mark Gardner of AAA. Solid but decidedly averagish. That isn't the greatest indicator of future major league success.
Jonathan Sanchez has regained his starting spot with Randy Johnson on the DL, which means that Sadowski gets an extended look. Will his variety of slop and breaking balls hold up over a larger sample size? Is he better than Matt Palmer? Will the Big Unit's injury and Sanchez's general flakiness force the Giants to swing a minor deal for a veteran hurler? I don't know. What I do know is that in the past the Giants would be giving Sadowski's starts to some burned-out husk like Jamey Wright or Russ Ortiz. At least we get to have some fun learning if the rook has what it takes.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Good Zito Rears His Head; Gets Our Hopes Up...Again
When Barry Zito does this I just get flashbacks to the post-1997 Shawn Estes years. Every once in a while Estes would have these shutdown starts where his velocity was back up and his curveball was filthy, and we'd all think that the All-Star of '97 was back to dominate the NL again. Then in his next start The Flake would return and opponents would carousel around the bases in a sea of free passes. The 1997 version of Estes never did return, forever convincing me that his one great season happened only because I wished him good luck at a card signing in the winter of '96.
Zito isn't the monumental head case Estes was, but I still get those same vibes when he breaks out a shutdown start like tonight. Are we back to seeing the Zito of yore, where he gets strikeouts with his curve and keeps his walks under control? Or are we just going to be treated to Bad Zito again in his next start? At this point I just close my eyes, cross my fingers, pray that he can stay in the strike zone, and then don't be surprised when he can't.
To his credit, the game he pitched today was a gem. I felt the need to rip him on Twitter before the game, so maybe he was trying to prove something to me. I guess I should put up a disparaging tweet before every Zito start, to act as a motivator or a weird reverse good luck charm. Then again, the only people who see my little remarks on there are friends and family members who are dumbfounded that I'm egotistical enough to have a Twitter account in the first place, so I doubt it has much effect.
Zito was never in trouble at any point in the game tonight and a little Bruce Jenkins came out of me when I saw Bruce Bochy come to pull him in the ninth inning. If he were yanked for Brian Wilson, I would have been incensed, but instead it was the awesome Sergio Romo, who came in and dispatched Dan Uggla and Jorge Cantu as if he was brushing flies off of his shoulder. When does the "Romo for Closer" bandwagon start spinning its wheels?
The hitting star tonight was Juan Uribe, who blasted a two-run homer off of Josh Johnson, who is one hell of a pitcher (and who is now free from the negligent hand of Joe Girardi). I'll give Uribe this; he doesn't get cheated. All three of his home runs this year have been no-doubt-about-er's, and his shot tonight was a rocket into the seats.
Uribe has been a nice find, and has been a valuable bench player so far. I don't want him as my starting second baseman, though. Remember, kids, "good utility player" does not equate to "adequate starter". Uribe swings at damn near everything and his .305 OBP isn't what you want from an everyday player. Um, or at least more than one everyday player.
I'll take the good glove and the decent bat while it lasts, though, at least until the Giants find an upgrade. Seriously, just let Kevin Frandsen go out there and play for a month. Emmanuel Burriss got his shot and failed (at least for now). Now it's Frandsen's time. I doubt he's going to hit .069 forever.
Monday, July 06, 2009
When Aaron Rowand went up hacking at West's first two offerings tonight, it seemed like more of the same, but luckily the team was able to work the count a little and put some runners on for Sandoval's blast (though it helped that West suddenly couldn't find the plate when faced against Cain and his mighty .194 batting average). The win pushes the team ever closer to that magical "10 games over .500" plateau that no one in their right mind imagined the Giants would reach this year.
As far as Sandoval's rise to the ranks of Giants royalty goes, I couldn't have put it better myself. So you know what to do. Go here, get your ballot box-stuffing gloves on, and mouse click like you've never mouse clicked before. There's no limit to this thing, so if you have an hour to kill, and are willing to risk an arthritic right finger, vote away. I've already voted ten times, and I'm sure there's another fifty in me before the night's through. Seriously, I'll have memorized every number combo on that stupid verification line in no time.
More about Pablo: Remember back to the time when we were all worried that his inability to take pitches would be the death of his career? Yeah, all the way back in early April? Well, if you're into the whole "on pace" thing, Sandoval is now on pace to draw about 45 walks. That's not Barry Bonds, but it's way more than we could ever have imagined after watching him swing at everything and its mom's dog last season. Couple that improved plate approach to the fact that he's been essentially a net even at third base (at least according to UZR), and it's safe to say he's exceeded our lofty expectations. The superlatives just won't stop.
--Brian Wilson is getting the job done in the sense that he's racking up saves by giving up two runs with a three-run lead and driving us all insane. That's nice, I guess. Please, though, Giants marketing department, stop treating him like he's this shutdown closer who makes opposing hitters quiver in their spikes. He just isn't that good. If I have to watch that ridiculous mafia/meat commercial where Tim Lincecum flips him the ball at the end one more time, I'm jumping off the nearest flight of stairs.
Few epitomize the asininity (real word? I'm going with it!) of the save stat than Wilson, where mediocre pitchers are celebrated as heroes based on a dumb number tallied solely on some rather arbitrary definition of a late-game situation. Hey, I guess it's the only way Ryan Franklin gets into an All-Star game, though.