Playing great baseball through a gaunlet so far

Lost in the other news dominating some Giants fans thoughts lately, including mine, is the fact that the Giants are doing OK so far in facing a gaunlet of top pitchers. Not that they are in it after falling back to 7.5 games back with just 6 weeks or so left in the season, but I thought they would be shoved totally out of the way starting with the Houston series where they faced on successive games, Pettitte, Oswalt and Clemens. They surprised me, especially with the rotation up in the air with Rueter pushed out again and Tomko's foot in a boot and Moises Alou's hamstring ailing, by nearly sweeping the series, coming within a few innings of accomplishing that.

Then they faced Ramirez, Smoltz and Hudson of the Atlanta Braves in the next series. While they lost 2 of 3, they were playing the Braves tough for the two games against Smoltz and Hudson and with sightly better hitting, could have won those two games and the series.

Now they are facing the Marlins best starting three, Willis, Beckett, and Burnett, and won the game against Willis, despite getting only 1 run because of Lowry's and the bullpen's superlative pitching, combining for a shutout yesterday.

No matter how bad a team's season has gone thus far, or how far back you are, a baseball fan has got to enjoy a stretch like this where your team faces the best that the other team has got in starting pitchers and partly on the road, but has been able to battle them to a virtual standstill so far, going 4-3. Even if they lose the next two, they would still be 4-5 after facing a virtual Murderer's Row of starting pitchers, a win/loss record no one but the most optimistic fan could have expected if told before the Houston series which pitchers the Giants would be facing over the next 9 games (some literary license taken here, originally Davies was suppose the start the 2nd game and Smoltz the 3rd, but the Braves kindly took Davies out so that the Giants could face Hudson; nice guys :^).

Just because your team has stunk doesn't mean you don't root them on. I still think the Giants can still make a run at things if they could just get healthy and play the way they are capable. True, they would probably get run out of the first round, but if the starting pitching can get on a run (see the A's - sigh - for an example of that), you never know. With Schmidt and Lowry becoming a tough 1-2 punch, we just need Tomko or Hennessey to catch fire to have a nice run. Go Giants!


Anonymous bacci40 said...

looks like only spammers are visiting your board now, wonder why?

could it be your strange outlook on this team?

3 runs in 3 games

in the final game, bases loaded, no outs, 1 run scored

pathetic excuse for a ball team

overpaid hacks

they shouldnt have just dfad woody today, they shoulda sent the entire infield with him

Sun Aug 14, 04:31:00 PM PDT  
Blogger obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Like I said you are entitled to your opinion, just like, as you noted in another post, I have the Constitutional right to post my opinions.

But that's really mature, attacking my site because I happen to not share your opinion. If anything, my spam started showing up after you started commenting. Coincidence?

Just to be clear, I post this blog because I think I have something to share with Giants fans who don't have the time or inclination to read a lot of materials on the Giants or don't have the benefit of 30+ years of following the Giants and baseball in general, watching the ins and outs of the franchise, reading the media guide for morsels of information on our favorite team. If you don't think that is a benefit, then please do both of us a favor and don't waste your time here, I'm sure you have better things to do.

Also, I have no idea who or how many are reading my blog, nor has that been important to me. This is an experiment on my part with a trend that appears to be sweeping the U.S. I like to write and I have opinions (like many other people) plus I have the perspective of the past, so I thought I would try this out. Plus I've also had bad experiences posting on boards and took this route as a way to get my opinion out without having to put up with name calling. You have the "honor" of being the first one to do that. Of course, that and $3 bucks will get you a latte at Starbucks.

About the 3 runs, hello, the Giants just faced Willis, Beckett and Burnett, and without their two best hitters, Alou and Bonds, what did you expect, a slug-fest? If so, then you are the one with the strange outlook on this team.

I will agree that the Giants have been a pathetic excuse for a ball team, but, contrary to the opinion of all the fans who cry for the Giants to develop cheap prospects, that is the price you pay for developing cheap prospects: inconsistent offense, sometimes non-existent offense. Give me proven vets anyday.

So I suppose you would be happier with Tony Torcato, Brian Dallimore, Angel Chavez and Mike Cervenak manning the infield then?

I will agree that the Giants appear to over pay their players. I have been presuming that part of that is the market dynamics of limited resource availability and multiple teams needing that resource.

For example, I was going to write in a post on this, but Alfonzo is one example that people use. However, from what I remember, what he got was the going price for a 3B, like it or not. David Bell got a little less than that and the only other 3B on the market was Mueller if I recall right and he had two poor and injury plagued seasons. And other teams were willing to pay Alfonzo the same salary, only not the 4th year. And Feliz wasn't doing anything up to that point. So what was the Giants suppose to do?

Sun Aug 14, 11:42:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous bacci40 said...


giants offense stinks

and its gm is a classless jerk, with no clue as to how to run a sinking ship

next stop for sabean, yankees

cya sabes

Mon Aug 15, 09:09:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Lyle said...

In reading your reply above, I thought I found a kinship with you. I, too, have followed the Giants for more than 30 years, and believe I have some perspective as well. But there were 2 things you said that I don't agree with:
(1) "Give me proven vets anyday." You had me going, saying "that is the price you pay for developing cheap prospects." Absolutely! But wait, was that said sarcastically? This year *is* the price we must pay for the years of poor choices by Mr. Sabean. I relish it; this is how teams get better. You draft your future starters. You draft a lot of players because you can't predict with certainty who will succeed and who won't. And then (the critical missing element so far) you give them a chance to perform, to sort themselves out for you, to see who should stay and who should go. Hopefully, now we'll know if Niekro, Ellison, Linden, Munter, Taschner, Accardo, and others can be pieces of our future team. Why draft if you aren't going to use what you've drafted? Just for trade bait? That's too jaded to be a valid long-term strategy. So now maybe Ellison shows us he's a backup and not a starter. Fine. At least we know. Maybe next year we can decide about Linden. But we *should* have been deciding that this year, so we'd know for next year!
Second, "(Alfonzo) got what was the going price for a 3B..." I disagree. Not only did SF add the 4th year to the contract, but paid WAY more than Alfonzo was worth! Yes, the 3B options on the free agent market weren't great. And yes, Feliz had proven he wasn't the long-term answer at 3B. But sometimes your best move is no move at all. I'd much have preferred we stuck with Feliz at 3B (mediocre though he was/is) and spent that money on something else we really needed (pitching??). Now we've been stuck with a light-hitting 3B, a matching bookend for our light-hitting 1B - nice guys both, no doubt, but once Aurilia and Kent aren't covering for their lack of power, we can't afford to keep them both (power-wise).
That said, I enjoy your posts Martin - keep up the good work! Bacci40 seems pretty upset. Living at some distance, I don't know what might have led him to describe Sabean as "a classless jerk;" but I do suspect Sabean has no idea how to run a sinking ship - one of the unpleasant but necessary duties of a GM. The former description is needlessly personal, the latter seems right on the mark.
What do you think?

Tue Aug 16, 07:17:00 AM PDT  
Blogger obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Thanks for the post, Lyle.

I agree that prospects need playing time to figure out what their MLB potential is. However, I believe in making the playoffs even if there is a small (though realistic) chance. Back a few weeks to a month, ago, I thought it was still realistic, as long as the team started playing to their potential. The pitching did start to come around, then the injury bugaboo came along again with our position players, hitting Alou and Durham, killing the offense. Ooops.

So sure, right now, I would be for playing the young players, because we pretty much have no chance now. My comment about proven vets is in regards to during the season when you still have a chance in the pennant race. Obviously, when the season is lost (and that definition obviously differed between me and other Giants fans), you may as well trade off the vets and play the young players.

Unfortunately, the Giants were close enough to the golden ring to try to improve the team (Winn trade) instead of trying to trade for prospects (trading Tomko, which the failed waiver deal indicates the Giants were recently trying to do that). I thought the Giants would trade Tomko for prospects as then they could have given Rueter one last chance at starting regularly before dumping him (unless they got someone young to pitch, in which case he would go in, like what the Ponson trade netted the Orioles).

Vets are more reliable than prospects and if you hope to compete, you cannot really rely on a prospect to come through for you, you can only hope that he will. Plus you will also have to accept the good with the bad, the hot streaks when he can do no wrong, with the cold streaks where he can even buy a hit.

About Linden, he had his chance and he blew it in the middle of the team trying to get back into contention. And the OF next year is pretty set, Bonds or Feliz in LF, Winn in CF, Alou in RF, so the only thing to decide on Linden is whether you want him sitting the pines or hitting in Fresno. I would hit him in Fresno in case a regular goes on the DL (seems more a "when" rather than an "if" at the moment) so that Linden would be in the hitting groove already instead of sitting on the bench and then trying to get into shape.

So you would rather go with Feliz than sign Alfonzo? Going with a lifetime sub .240 hitter (and OPS worse than Neifi) starting at 3B and you expect to compete for the pennant? And what if Feliz proved to be that bad a hitter instead of the OK hitter he has turned out to be? What if he started hitting poorly like that?

Mid-season, to trade for a passable 3B, would you have given up Williams and Ainsworth then? Because no team is going to give you much of a player unless you pony up a good prospect or two because you have ZERO leverage. Because you desperately need a passable 3B or else you kiss away the season in May. You take this huge risk if you decide to play Feliz and cross your fingers.

Alfonzo still was hitting productively when he wasn't injured before he signed with us. Unfortunately, he has degraded since we got him instead of at least staying static. Even Baseball Prospectus listed the odds of him getting worse to be low (only 18% for the 2004 season). Better than paying similar money to keep David Bell, he was the main alternative then. Hindsight is nice - I would chose against Alfonzo given what I know now about him and Feliz - but I still think that he was the best choice at the time of the signing, given our alternatives.

And as much as you complained about the lack of power at the corner positions, the team still averaged 4.7 runs in 2003, good for 6th in NL, and 5.3 runs in 2004, good for 2nd in NL, both with light-hitting corner infielders.

Well, I think he has been doing OK running a sinking ship. As much as people have complained about things, he has given Niekro, Ellison, Munter, Hennessey, Linden, and Correia extended runs in the majors instead of trading for a vet, and for all the crying over Hawkins, these people appear to have not seen his stats before the Cubs, he was totally dominating with the Twins.

Remember, at the time, the Giants still thought Bonds would be returning soon plus Schmidt and Lowry didn't go into their death spiral yet (or much, don't remember exact timing). And only Eyre and Fassero was working out in the bullpen, both Brower and Herges were horrible, they needed to shore up the setup relievers. Walker, frankly, wasn't do that well as a setup guy and I think closing was a desperation move that has mostly worked so far. Who knew Hawkins would get injured immediately?

I still believe in Sabean's talent evaluation skills. Yes, he blew it on Nathan and it sounds like the lefty throw-in is also making waves. But he has made so many right moves in trades that I'm willing to forgive a few mistakes.

Wed Aug 17, 02:38:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Lyle said...

About Linden; yes, if Bonds and Alou can both play next year, he's on the bench (but surely you'd agree that after Bonds leaves, Linden is the next logical replacement?). But I suspect he's one of those hitters that just has to go through some struggles in the majors before he settles in to his "norm." And maybe he turns out to only be the next Adam Dunn (lots of HR's and K's), but we need to find out a.s.a.p. I hope he starts every game for the rest of this year - whether we are "in contention" or not. If he doesn't, then I'm convinced Sabean plans to leave after next year (& I'm ready for that to happen, too).
You make a good argument for Alfonzo vs. Feliz. And please understand I am *no* Feliz fan. I just thought our best tactical move was to keep him at 3B (and hope he'd become at least what he has now become) instead of trading for an over-30, back-injury-prone singles-hitting 3B....for SEVEN MILLION a year!! Yes, I have the benefit of hindsight to see that Feliz overcame his horrible start in the majors (he was great in AAA) to wind up MLB-average. And that Alfonzo had completely lost his power (and his batting eye for 2 years). Even so, I would still not make that deal at that time. Now, if he came for 2 years at $7m per....I might think about it. Or for 4 years at $3m per, maybe. (And in the meantime I'm drafting 3B like crazy..oh wait, we did that with Niekro, Schierholtz, Buscher...and yet our best hope is now Buscher in SJ, a long ways away) But $28-30m for 4 years is a huge investment; I want something bigger for my money - a slugger, a base-stealing OBP whiz, a #2 starter, something. I'd even gamble 4yrs/$28m on David Wright of the Mets (as an example) right now, because he has a clear upside. Alfonzo did *not* have that kind of upside then. So I guess I'm saying the money was the problem for me. I think we're getting what we're paying for with Feliz. And I'm hoping like crazy that Brian Buscher or Simon Klink or somebody turns out to be a good 3B for us.
And I hope that Sabean stays around for awhile, and makes some bold moves to give us hope. And that we make better choices with our draft picks (and actually USE them, not forfeit them). And that there's peace in N. Ireland. But history makes me think I won't get any of those outcomes.

Wed Aug 17, 06:39:00 AM PDT  

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