Sunday, October 18, 2009



The Giants fired hitting coach Carney Lansford the other day, insisting he wasn't a scapegoat for the team's poor offensive performance. Yeah, pull the other one. The Giants had one of the three worst offenses in baseball last season, and I guess it's only natural to blame the guy supposedly in charge of guiding the hitters throughout the season, as if Lansford could just magically make Edgar Renteria stop sucking. The Giants apparently informed Lansford of his firing on the same day that he was at a funeral, burying his father-in-law. I really hope that the team just didn't realize that one of Lansford's family members had passed away. If they did...humanity shudders.

Maybe Lansford was the worst hitting coach in the world. I don't know. What I do know is that it would be impossible to tell when in charge of this bunch. No one short of Harry Houdini could turn this Giants lineup into anything resembling quality. Aaron Rowand has been swinging at sliders a foot off the plate for years. Bengie Molina has been utterly clueless at the plate since the beginning of his career. There's nothing Lansford could have done to turn these guys into the OBP machines we all want them to be. If he had done so, then he would have deserved the Nobel Peace Prize or something (though some would say he did just as much to deserved it as!).

You can only build with the blocks you are given, and Lansford was handed three tiny Legos and some Elmer's glue and told to make magic happen. When he couldn't, he was sent on his way.

The real blame here, of course, should go to the architect, the man who brought such an inept cast of characters together and then stuck Lansford with the impossible task of turning dogshit into diamonds. That man, however, is here for another two years, riding the wave of a surprising 16-game improvement over the previous season.

Anyone who thought that Brain Sabean and/or Bruce Bochy would be axed after the Giants won 88 games this year is insane. You don't fire the guys who are supposedly behind such a drastic improvement, even if the Plexiglass Principle and other clear reasons for probable regression next season are staring you in the face. The Giants shocked the world, Sabean and Bochy got all the accolades. Lansford got a rock.

If anything, from reading his quotes in the paper about hitters needing to be more patient, it sounds like Lansford did everything he could to legitimately improve this offense. Instead of a pat on the back he got kicked to the curb, having to shoulder the blame for other peoples' failings. Ridiculous. It probably not a good sign that the offseason is being kicked off with a cold, asinine move such as this.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Some Fans Are Wiser Than Others

The story of the downfall of the 2009 San Francisco Giants will always start with the team's horrible offense, how they couldn't score enough runs or get enough guys on base, and how Brian Sabean's two trades to upgrade that offense were miserable failures. So obviously the (not-so-small) task in the offseason is to repair this broken lineup and find a way to plate runs. Even a marginal upgrade to turn this lineup into average-ish could mean the playoffs if the pitching continues to come through.

So, what's the best way to go about this? Is it to acquire a player who can hit for power, or a player who can draw walks? Is it to play Buster Posey and give Bengie Molina the heave-ho? Is it to just let Freddy Lewis play, dammit? Is it to dump Edgar Renteria already?

Well, Bruce Bochy's solution is to start bunting more. I'm not kidding. In this article, Bochy states that the Giants, a team uniquely skilled at making bushels full of outs in the first place, should give up more outs, and somehow this will help them improve. Color me mystified.

When I read the first two paragraphs or so of that article, I thought it was going to be the stupidest thing I've ever read, but honestly, it actually makes Bochy out to be much more illuminated than he's perceived. He actually admits that he doesn't like bunting (heart flutters), acknowledging that the simple act of giving up outs (especially early in the ballgame) is self-destructive. So he's not really advocating more bunting, per se, but just improved bunting. Fair enough, but this just seems like he's kicking out a brushfire as an inferno rages behind him.

So fine, the article isn't so horrible. No, the real hilarity comes in the comments section. I know picking on grammatically-challenged Internet denizens is low-hanging fruit, but just humor me, because it illustrates a larger point. The reaction to Gwen Knapp's article was pretty sour, with many fans showing open hatred of poor Bochy. The level of debate was about on par with your typical KNBR ramblings, ranging from the plain goofy to the batshit insane. Here are some of my personal favorite comments, complete with added snark.

>It seems like half the people who post on the internet forums are drunk or stoned.<

Well, he's got me on the drunk part, but even rip-roaring wasted I'm more coherent than most of the drivel being spewed in these reader comments. I also love the irony of a person criticizing those who post on Internet forums when he himself is a guy posting on an Internet forum.

>Lay off Bochy! He's the first manager in many years to have our G-nats playing in October!<

I can't tell if this guy is screwing with us or not, but in the event that he isn't, I'll give you three guesses as to what's wrong with this statement.

>I like the idea of bunting in the first 3 innings to frustrate the pitcher and throw off his rhythm and making him field every bunt. That could really mess up his timing and put all the pressure on him to make the play.<

This poster was actually pretty articulate, but I'm sorry, this premise is hokum. I'm more attracted to the idea of swinging away and lining doubles off the wall and bashing home runs into McCovey Cove, knocking the pitcher out of the box before he knows what's what, but that's just me.

>Bochy doesn't understand how to generate some offense when you can't hit.<

Sorry, but if you can't hit you aren't going to generate offense, period. I guess the idea here is that with a bad offense the only way to push across runs is to manufacture them and force the defense's hand and blah blah blah. The Giants ranked dead last in team OBP in the NL, and when you can't get guys on base, there ain't gonna be anybody to bunt over.

>Everyone calling for Buster Posey to play every day next year are the same people that would turn their Porsche over to a teenager who drove well at Malibu Grand Prix.<

Let's gloss over the asinine analogy and focus on the gaping flaw with this particular (and frustratingly popular) opinion. The Giants gave Posey a $6 million signing bonus because they knew he had franchise-changing potential. He's destroyed the minor leagues and is a major league hitter right now. I have no doubt...none...that he's a better hitter and defender now than Bengie Molina has been at just about any point in his career. How long does it take for Posey to suddenly learn all the tricks and intracacies of game-calling? A year on the bench, sitting behind Molina? If that's the case then the Giants are just costing themselves wins.

These comments illustrate not only the large disconnect many fans have from reality, but also the large chasm in perception between the average Giants fan and those who ardently follow the team through the blog world. We "Internet people" sit here with our spreadsheets and our Baseball Reference on hand and look down upon the unenlightened masses who still think RBIs matter. Those masses vastly outnumber us, however, and its those same fans who put pressure on Sabean and co. to make dumb moves like re-sign Molina because they can't figure out that pitchers do have the ability to shake off catchers once in a while.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Quick and Dirty Playoff Predictions: 2009 Edition

Tonight's Twins-Tigers game was epic, but at the same time it was probably one of the sloppiest
classic games you'll ever see. Tigers fans are going to be upset for years at the non-call on the Brandon Inge hit-by-pitch play, but they should probably be more pissed at Ryan Raburn's horrid diving catch attempt and Jim Leyland falling asleep at the wheel in extra innings. On the Twins side, Delmon Young had a miserable game and nearly cost his team the game by throwing to the wrong base in the 12th inning. Also, Orlando Cabrera is a totally obnoxious character, and that's not good because he's also just horrible.

The game had several memorable moments, but my absolute favorite came in the bottom of the tenth inning. With the winning run at third, Nick Punto hit a liner toward left field that looked like it had a slim chance of falling in for a hit. The announcer on TBS immediately broke into a breathless call that went something like, "Line drive to left field! Base Hit!" the ball sailed lazily into the glove of Ryan Raburn, who then threw home to gun down Alexei Casilla to save the game. Ah, Announcer Fail, you never cease to amuse me, though nothing can ever top Mike Krukow's "nasty shit" remark about Aaron Rowand last year.

Well, now that the consolation game is over with, it's playoff time again, which also means it's time for my woefully inaccurate playoff predictions. With the Giants not a factor, I have to pick one team to root for. Last year it was Tampa, since I love the underdogs. This year? I have no clue. Obviously I hate the Dodgers, and I want to see both the Red Sox and Yankees crash and burn. I'm totally apathetic to the Phils and Cardinals. I'd root for the Angels but, you know, 2002 and all. I've always liked the Twins, and the Metrodome usually makes for fun playoff hell for opposing teams. I guess I'll just root for the Twins to beat the Yankees an the Dodgers to fall on their asses and take it from there.

One thing I don't want to see is another Red Sox-Yankees ALCS. This rivalry is so overhyped now that it's bordering on parody. You have the TV networks licking their chops for this matchup and not even trying to hide it. We're forced to watch Pedro Martinez hurl Don Zimmer through the air a bajillion more times, to show that these teams hate each other, woooo. We also have to hear about "No No, Nanette!" over and over again. We have to hear drunken moron Sox and Yankee fans talk shit to one another in obnoxious accents and start fistfights like they have nothing better to do with their lives. It's just grown so old.

When the Red Sox were hapless jerks failing in hilarious ways in every attempt to win a championship, this was an exciting matchup. When they finally overthrew the Yankees in historic fashion in 2004, it was awesome. Now, though, these teams are just two high-payroll behemoths duking it out while more interesting teams lose the spotlight.

Enough ranting, and on to the predictions. Of course, the playoffs are a crapshoot, a lottery of sorts where Billy Beane's shit just doesn't work. That means I'm absolved of any accountability when it comes to these predictions. If that's not ass covering, I don't know what is. Here you go!

Yankees 3, Twins 1

Everybody is pimping the Yankees, but they have a very sketch pitching staff behind C.C. Sabathia. Would you want A.J. Burnett starting big games for you in the postseason? Their offense is so good, though, that I can't imagine them having any trouble with Minnesota and their collection of starting pitching ne'er-do-wells. Carl Pavano is their third-best pitcher? Egads! How hilarious a storyline would that make, though, if Pavano comes back to shut down the Bombers and lead the Twins to the next round? Johnny Damon would have to take back his infamous taxi cab remark.

On a side note, we have another non-story about how Jose Molina is going to be Burnett's personal catcher this postseason, and Jorge Posada is taking it as a personal affront. No one really gives a crap about Posada's hurt feelings except the jackals in the New York media, but this does hurt the Yankees because they're taking one of their best hitters out of the lineup and starting one of the most worthless players in history. Posada carries an .885 OPS into the playoffs; Molina is at .560. Bravo, Joe Girardi, for pre-emptively handing the Twins one advantage when they really had none apparent.

Red Sox 3, Angels 2

I'm desperately hoping the Angels win this series because I'm so damned sick of the Red Sox. The Angels have some really terrible pitchers behind John Lackey and Jered Weaver, but looking at the Sox behind Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, they aren't too inspiring, either. This will probably be a high-scoring, close series, much more entertaining than the last three series these teams played.

I do find it interesting how a lot of mainstream media types have continued to insist that the Angels beat you with the little things like bunting and taking the extra base, when in reality this year they've won by simply beating the crap out of other teams. The Angels were second in runs scored and fourth in slugging in the AL, and they have two guys who draw a ton of walks, so this isn't your grandpa's Mike Scioscia L.A. Angels. Their offense isn't the gritty (read: crappy) brand they've practiced in recent years. It's almost the exact opposite, really. Their hitting is terrific and their pitching, for once, is pretty mediocre.

Cardinals 3, Dodgers, 1

It pains me to even grant the Dodgers one game here, because I loathe this team so much. This season, when I was at a particularly dreadful Giant-Dodger game, as the Dodgers were in the midst of kicking more and more ass, I stood up, took in the devastation, and it hit me. I really, really hate the Dodgers.

It's not something I can even really put into words, either. I hate the Yankees because they've won throughout history and they suck in all the big name players with their huge payroll. I hate the Red Sox because their fans are loud alcoholics one step removed from Cro-Magnon Man. The Dodgers though? I hate them just because it seems like I have to. Watching the Dodgers is like watching Glenn Beck. Something this detrimental to humanity should never even be allowed to exist. In fact, the Los Angeles Dodgers Baseball Club makes a great exhibit in the case for atheism in America. If God exists, why do we have the Dodgers?

Semi-related: I caught some of the special on MLB Network on the Juan Marichal-John Roseboro fight at Candlestick Park in 1965, when Marichal temporarily lost his mind and attacked Roseboro with a bat. Watching the replay of the fight, Marichal hits Roseboro upside the head not once, but twice with his bat. Roseboro got knocked down, but immediately got right back up and went after Marichal, and brother, that is one tough son of a gun. Roseboro apparently harbored no hard feelings in the subsequent years, which shows what a class act he was. He probably had every reason to want to strangle the Giants' pitcher.

Rockies 3, Phillies 2

Wait, these teams played each other in the LDS two years ago? Shows how memorable that series was. Like their matchup in '07, this series will be played almost entirely during the day, while people are at work, so it could be the most exciting bunch of games in playoff history and no one will even know they happened. The Rockies rode the hot hand into the playoffs and the Phillies seem like a team ready to bow out early after a previous season's championship, so I'm taking Colorado. That may seem unscientific, but does it really matter? It's not like you, or I, will be seeing one second of any of these games as they transpire.

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