Alfonzo hopes to gain by losing (18 pounds)

According to an article on the Giants official website, Alfonzo has decided to answer criticism about his weight by losing 18 pounds plus has gone back to play in the Winter Leagues in Venezuela, where in 18 games, he is hitting .342 with 2 homers and 13 RBI.

This also answers the question of whether his birthday is bogus or not because some critics had wondered if he is actually older than he says he is (31 years old currently) and poised for a steep decline and theorized that he has been staying away from the winter leagues to avoid having to go through immigration and giving his "true" age (like Pedro Feliz was forced to admit he was actually two years older than previously thought, and Merkin Valdez was found to be almost a year older). However, he hasn't returned to the U.S. yet....

  • he was unwilling to admit that age was getting to him and he couldn't prepare for baseball the same way;
  • he was put out by the fact that the had to take a "pay cut" the past two years - versus what he was making the year before the Giants signed him - but now that he's making a lot more he feels he needs to earn it;
  • he realizes that there's enough questions about his belonging as a starting 3B that could threaten his chances at free agency multi-millions in two seasons that he needs to do something now (else the question becomes which do you believe, the three seasons of mediocrity or the one season of a contract run. Then again, look at what other one year wonders have gotten...);
  • one of his friends and relatives finally kicked him in his behind and told him to get going;
  • he feels Pedro Feliz' breath on his neck (finally) and realizes that he better get going or find himself "Cirilloed" with some loser team in some city that he doesn't like;
  • it is some combination of these factors or something not even listed here.
In any case, at least finally he's finally doing something that sounds like the conscientious Alfonzo that his NY Mets fans loved so much. If he can return to his previous hitting prowess (though he has been a good RBI guy for the Giants despite he reduced performance) and with him probably batting 6th behind Bonds and Alou for most RHP and 3rd for most LHP, he could have a monster year scoring and driving in runs, perhaps teaming with Bonds and Alou for a trio of 100+ runs and 100+ RBIs.

If he can do that, I would say that the Giants would be the prohibitive favorites to win the Western Division, even if the Dodgers manage to trade Green to somebody and Drew happens to be healthy again (his career looks like a Gary Sheffield career, rarely play over 140 games but pounds the ball when he is in the lineup). That is, do that plus Bonds be close to where he has been the past three seasons (required for any Giants pennant run...). This would be the Alfonzo I and many others thought we were getting when he was first signed. Hopefully that will be true.


Pierzynski signs with White Sox

What did I tell A.J. in my article I wrote for sfdugout.com? Negotiate a nice multi-year contract with the Giants for $2-3M per year, at minimum until he's a free agent (two years) plus a big option maybe for the third year. No, he and his agent have to play hardball and now he's playing for the White Sox for $2.25M plus is tied to them for next year as well. Instead of potentially playing for the World Series as the Giants are making the big push over the next couple of years, he will be with the White Sox, who will be trying to figure out how to replace Magglio Ordonez (yikes!) and Carlos Lee, though at least they'll have Podsednik to start the offense (hopefully that is, if he's more 2003 than 2004). They have perennially been a second place team, just short of winning the division, last playing in the playoffs in 2000.

Good luck, thanks for the great hitting and the attitude. The White Sox is no where close to where the Giants are, scrapping by each year. At least he's back in the AL Central again, I guess, where he is most familiar with the teams.

However, here's an interesting quote: "But Williams and Pierzynski both expect his numbers to rise again once he's away from Pac Bell Park, which may not be as much of a hitter's park as Barry Bonds makes it seem." Here's his home vs. away stats for last season:

Home: .283/.325/.412/.737
Away: .261/.313/.408/.720

Doesn't look like he suffered much hitting at SBC Park (not Pac Bell Park). Though his HR power went down drastically at SBC (3 in 233 AB vs. 8 in 238 AB), he made up for that in triples (2 vs. 0) and doubles (17 vs. 11), resulting in his SLG being slightly higher at home than away.

However, ever since Detroit got their new stadium, Chicago's stadium went from a mild pitcher's park to a strong offensive park (103-107 in 4 of the last 5 seasons). But he does love their park (or at least their pitching :^): for his career, he has hit .326/.359/.477/.835 there with 1 HR every 43 AB but with 14 SO (vs. career .294/.336/.438/.773 with 1 HR every 51 AB but only 220 SO).

For such a competitor who likes to win, this doesn't seem like such a good move.

Tomko Interview on KNBR

Don't remember most of the interview (as I was working :^) but the key quote there was his discussion of Mike Matheny since Tomko was with Matheny on the 2003 Cards team. He feels that Matheny and Ausmus are the top two catchers in knowing the hitters tendencies in the NL. That is very important for our staff over the next three seasons of Matheny catching for us because our staff will be populated with young pitchers who don't know the hitters, like Jerome Williams, Noah Lowry, Brad Henessey, David Aardsma, Kevin Correia, Matt Cain, Merkin Valdez and perhaps Pat Misch, Jack Tauscher, Chris Begg, Billy Sadler, Brion Treadway, Scott Munter, Joe Bateman, James Garcia, Brian Burres, Ben Thurmond, Sean "Spider" Martin, Michael Kunes, and Craig Whitaker.

That's something he can impart to Yorvit Torrealba over the next three seasons and prepare him to be a top defensive catcher, which he already is, who can also help the pitchers with batters across the league. Or if not him, then the future catcher residing in our farm system (hopefully).