Tomko's secrets revealed

Interesting interview with Tomko on sfgiants.com where his secret comes out. It is not the sessions with the shrink, though perhaps they helped, but a tip that was given him the year before from former teammate Woody Williams, when they were on the Cardinals. The tip was to throw a four-seam fastball and pound it inside instead of going with other pitches, like a slider, and just showing the fastball. Sounds kind of similar to Schmidt's realization that he should go with his best pitch first. This is confirmed by his usage of being in the Top 10 in Bill James 2005 book (as noted in McCovey Chronicles "Fun With The Bill James Handbook, Part I"; great book, BTW) for usage of fastball and top overall speed).

Apparently he didn't believe the advice but after his horrid first half with the Giants he was finally ready to try something else (after umpteen years of so-so success since his breakout first year) but didn't want to do it during the baseball season. However, with his time on the DL, he decided to try to use that time pitching in rehab to learn to do what Williams suggested. Obviously he succeeded.

The article also noted Tomko's tendency lately to pitch poorly in the first half and then better in the second half. To combat that, Tomko continued his exercise program during this off-season plus continued throwing off the mound. His thought is that it takes him up to half the season for his mechanics to be perfected, resulting in him doing better in the second half. He is hoping that being ready when the first pitch of the season is thrown will allow him to get in his groove from the get-go instead of taking half a year to get in his groove.

However, most articles and commentary talk about his 11-4 record in the second half of 2003 - plus noted his talking with an old coach then at Toronto and getting advice - but missed something very important about that: his ERA was really not that great during his 11-4 run. I calculated his ERA during this period, which one would think would be as dominating as his low 3 ERA in 2004, but it was a very mediocre to lousy 4.62, which would only earn an 11-4 record for a great highly potent offensive team (which he luckily was on with the Cards). Oddly enough, he was dominating at Busch Stadium with a sub 3 ERA but beaten to a pulp on the road with a near 8 ERA. So while he was better in the second half vs. the first (5.60 ERA before he started winning for a 2-5 overall record at the "turnaround" point), it wasn't like a lightbulb turned on, it probably meant that he got more home starts while previously getting more road games (based on that huge split).

Hopefully, this secret is more concrete than just headshrinking and is related to his changing how he approached pitching and is augmented by how much better he takes care of his body this year. If so, we could have Schmidt-lite pitcher to go with Schmidt, which would be a key to winning a World Series championship as history have shown that having two dominant pitchers going - and Tomko was dominating at the end of 2004 - increases the odds of going all the way. That coupled with Williams hopefully returning to his form in 2003 and Lowry being close to how he did last year and the offense being close to last year's second place finish, could mean another banner regular season close to 2003's record, if not better.


Durham is disappointing the fans... again!

Damn, had a nice post and it got stuck in an infinite loop...

Basically he has been disappointing but very valuable, too bad he didn't go the extra mile and did everything the Giants asked him to do, given that he was not successful staying healthy by himself. He is paid big money, that means he owes it to us to do all he can to play 140-150 games for us this season especially since it cost us last season with Ransom and Neifi subbing for him. Plus, isn't this his last season on the contract?

Durhham is disappointing the fans... again!

Durham is not deliverying on his multi-million dollar salary (what, $7.7M this year?). According to a Chronicle article, Durham did not travel to Arizona for a voluntary conditioning minicamp or to SF to work with Conte. What? Are we not paying you enough?

I think it was bad enough that he missed so much of the past two years insisting on doing things his way. His bat is extremely valuable and critical for the Giants lineup and any missed time hurts our chances to win, like it did especially in 2005 when neither of his replacements, Neifi and Ransom, performed adequately. I feel that he owes it to us to put in the extra effort to ensure that he is healthy for the whole 2005 season.

At least he said that he followed the special workout regimen that Conte had prescribed to strengthen Durham's legs. But had he been here working with Conte, the Giants could have monitored his progress and make adjustments to his exercise routine to maximize whatever they were hoping to do. Instead, it is like running a computer program and hoping it will work on its first compile versus running it in debug mode and checking to see if there are any problems with how you thought the program would work.

For the Giants and Durham's sake, I hope that the workout regimen worked as planned. I would be disappointed if Durham played under 140 games and my hope is that he will come in around the 150 game range. His missed games costed us the NL West pennant in 2004 and I expect a tight race again with LA and SD being competitive, and perhaps AZ if things work out perfectly for them (meaning some of their Baby 'Backs come through in 2005).


Bonds out 6 weeks, expected back 2 weeks before season starts

Bonds just got arthroscopic surgery on his right knee - his earlier one was for his left knee. I wonder if he waited until now to complain so that he could get the surgery and avoid most of spring training. It would give him rest, allowing him to save some strength for the end of the year, plus he has complained in the past about not needing all of spring training to get ready. Which is probably true for most established veterans.

Whether it was planned or not, it should give him some rest for the season and that is good given all his complaints last year about being tired. Hopefully it will pay off.