Herges "sees" the light

I like Herges - he was aces for us in 2003 - but what is it about multi-year contracts that tell athletes that they can let it up? In an interview on sfgiants.com, he talks about how he used to be a workout fiend but then let up before last season and, as a result, could not get the movement he normally had on his fastball, which made him into a live batting tee (my words there :^). So he vowed not to let that happen again and worked out this off-season and is raring to go.

Funny how a contract year gets athletes to "see the light" and think "gee, I would really do better if I work out over the off-season". The classic boom and bust example was Greg Minton, who, prior to Nen, was the best reliever in San Francisco history. Every year he fought for a contract raise and he was pretty pissed off about how SF dealt with him. He finally free agents and signs a long-term deal with the Giants and immediately loses it. Never could find it back as a Giant so he was eventually released, probably in his last contract year. Whereupon he goes to the Angels and suddenly finds it again and pitches productively for a number of years. (Dana Stubblefield of the 49ers and Erick Dampier of the Warriors are other good examples of contract-year-stupenditis/first-year-stink-itis)


Bonds had arthroscopic surgery over offseason

According to sfgiants.com preview of the coming season (outfield edition), Bonds "was noticeably limping toward the end of 2004 and complained of "80-year-old knees," but offseason arthroscopic surgery has revitalized his legs."

Wow, so he could be better running on the base paths this year, better getting balls in the outfield, and, most importantly to moi, he might be willing to bat 3rd this season, in spite of the walks, since his knees should not be bothering him as much as the last couple of seasons. If he is willing to bat third, then the lineup should end up something like this:

vs. LHP/vs. RHP
1 Durham/Durham
2 Vizquel/Vizquel
3 Bonds/Bonds
4 Alou/Alou
5 Grissom/Snow
6 Alfonzo/Alfonzo
7 Snow/Grissom
8 Matheny/Matheny

Plus throw in Feliz for anyone and bat him high vs. LHP and lower vs. RHP.

The offense is better overall this year with the additions, with Vizquel hitting better vs. RHP, so he replaces the offense that Tucker provided there plus is better vs. LHP, Alou hitting well vs. RHP, so he replaces Pierzynski's offense vs. RHP (actually is better plus is even better vs. LHP), and Matheny, while bad, can provide about the same offense as the combined Neifi/Deivi combo last season, or just short since Deivi hit so well. However, Bonds, Grissom, and Snow can expect to be worse than last year, especially Snow. So that evens out.

That leaves Durham, Alfonzo, and Feliz. Durham is aces when he is playing and gives us a huge advantage at leadoff (despite missing so many games, Giants with him ranked first in OPS for batting leadoff). If his exercise regiment is able to help him play 150 games for us, that is like a 10-20% increase in offense (he played in only 120 games, with Neifi and Ransom being his main replacements; funnily enough, Neifi resigned with the Cubs and Ransom was picked up by the Cubs, presumably to replace Ramon Martinez, who used to play for the Giants).

Alfonzo went on a exercise regiment also over the offseason and lost almost 20 pounds. That should improve his offense at 3B PLUS help with his offense, so that should be a gain there offensively too.

Lastly, Feliz probably will end up contributing about as much as he did the last couple of seasons. Baseball Prospectus blasts the Giants for overpaying him but, while I agree that he is overpaid for what he produced, what is not being valued is the insurance he provides the Giants. If Snow or Alfonzo goes down, Feliz can take over without the offense or defense blinking much, like running on 87 instead of 89 or 91 octane. He could probably pitch in adequately in LF or RF, should, god forbid, anything should happen there. That is huge when such a loss would cripple most offenses.


Spring Training is only three weeks away

Oh yeah, baseball. :^) According to the Giants' official website, Felipe Alou might look into batting Bonds 3rd and Alou 4th. But the condition that led Bonds to decide that he wanted to bat 4th is that he was getting tired walking so much. It won't lessen much with Alou batting behind him, it will only lessen once Bonds starts to show that he is a mere mortal and no longer a hitting machine. In which case, we're screwed.

Even with Kent hitting behind him, he was still walked a lot in 2002. So I would bet that after the spring training fling of batting 3rd, Bonds will pull Felipe aside and say, "It's still not working for me, I'm batting fourth."

And frankly (and that's what this Blog is for :^), I probably prefer it that way now that we have Alou. Alfonzo is at heart a 3rd hitter, he's an RBI machine. With his lessened power, his main value is his high OBP due to his ability to draw walks plus his ability to put the ball into play and not strikeout much. About 70-80% of the time, with Durham and Vizquel batting 1-2, the #3 batter will come up with at least a runner on base; with his lessened power, he will get a single or walk a lot more often than anybody else, making it two runner on and one out or bases loaded for Barry.

If the pitcher avoids Barry, that basically leaves the bases loaded for Alou to then bat. Then you have Snow and Grissom following him, both better hitters with runners on than bases empty. Plus it could be even better if we bat Snow 3rd vs. RHP and flipping Alfonzo to 6th. I think we will have a higher octane offense in 2005 than 2004 and we were 2nd in runs in 2004. I expect the Cards to fall back offensively too, with no real replacement for losing JDDrew.