Hennessey had a nice game

Brad went 7.0 IP, only 4 hits and 2 walks, with 3 K's and 1 R/ER. That was his third consecutive quality start. In those 3 starts he has 20.2 IP, given up only 10 hits and 6 walks, with 4 R/ER and 10 strikeouts, 1 HR, 1.74 ERA and 0.77 WHIP. While it was done in three pitching oriented parks, it is still, nonetheless encouraging that he was able to muster up this up, he was not always able to do well when he should; for example, even with this great outing on Saturday, his home stats are horrible: 5.77 ERA, 1.66 WHIP, .306 BAA. His road stats were much better: 3.86 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, .254 BAA.

So there are a lot of encouraging signs that he could be a solid 4 pitcher next year with hints that if he can get more consistent with his outings, he could even be a 3 (3.86 road ERA) and eventually a 2 (look at all the dominating starts he has had, which unfortunately were sprinkled with batting practice outings.).

My thoughts on Bonds future I posted on another blog and on Ishikawa plus notes from BA's Cal League chat

Bonds Future

Bonds has already said that he wants to play in 2007 so I would bet on him playing in 2007. He claims that beating Aaron is not a big deal but his statement opening up the 2007 can of worms means that it does matter to him, otherwise he would retire in 2006 and preserve his knee. And if that matters to him, he knows Pujols and A-Rod will be hot on his trail and "wipe him out" soon after he sets it, like how he knocked off McGwire.

I expect him to play as long as he can man leftfield well enough to convince the Giants to sign him to another contract so that he can add to the record and make it that much harder for the two to beat him. And who knows how low he has to go to reach that, most commentary I've read on him says that he has been subpar for a while now and the Giants still picked up his option.

I think it is good for the team as long as he hits the way he did this season - the team as constructed when he came back is not far from where it was when it was losing all those games that sunk the team and yet adding him boosted the team enough to go 18-10. And look at how he ran - there is almost no way he could be any worse in the upcoming years unless he is riding in a wheelchair.

Thoughts on Ishikawa

I was disappointed he didn't make the Top 20 prospect list for the California League that Baseball America put out, but he, according to the chat today, was "very close".

In addition, it noted that he was the best 1B in the league and "has one of the prettiest swings you'll ever see".

However, it also noted how streaky he was and, surprisingly, despite the homer power he has shown last year and this, "not everyone's convinced he'll have enough pop."

I found that streakiness to be true as well. I collected data weekly on him and it showed that he would be white-hot for about two weeks, then be cold as ice for two weeks. However, he improved this year over last year in that he was still pretty steadily hitting at least a homer a week even while he was not hitting for average whereas last year his homer hitting was streaky as well.

However, I wonder what's different about his power (led the team with something like 22 homers or something) and the power of the other guys on the list who hit for power as well. Power has not been his problem at any of the levels he has played, hitting for average and not striking out has been.

And he was able to hit for average (.280-something) and was able to bring down his strikeouts (down during good two weeks; back to career norm during bad two weeks) this season; but he has never had any problem getting on base, he walks a ton to go with the strikeouts.

All in all, the chat moderator (Kevin Goldstein) said he is a "big Ishikawa fan" and he didn't not say that Ishikawa won't make AA next year when asked. He also said that Schierholtz would be in AA as well.

As streaky Ishikawa was, I don't see why he wouldn't move up to AA with the hitting he did in the Cal League this season. Especially since I've heard that the Cal League is more of a pitchers league, suppressing hits, homers, and runs, so it takes more to show good batting in this league, given that. He still has time as a prospect, he just turned 22 and will be 22 for next season.

Notes on Giants Prospects from the BA Chat

One of the questions asked why so few SJ Giants when they won the championship but what this questioner forgot is that this list is about the expected potential for each individual, not for a team. Kevin Goldstein, who moderated the chat, however noted that Ishikawa was very close and that Timpner got some support but doesn't have enough offense to be an everyday player, though he might get to the majors solely because of his speed and defense. To me, this sounds like another Darren Lewis, Calvin Murray, Jason Ellison.

He also noted that while he is a big Ishikawa fan, because of the high bar for 1B today, he is lacking relatively. It was here that he noted that Travis was the best defensive 1B in the league and have a pretty swing, though some are not convinced he'll have any pop, plus his streakiness. I noted my thoughts on Ishikawa above but will add here that my biggest hopes for our next power hitter from the farm system lies with him - it would be EME except he hasn't actually played a position for us yet, as far as I know, he looks right now to be trade bait with an AL team.

About Schierholtz, it was noted that despite tremdendous raw power, his long swing costs him a lot of bat speed so they are working to shorten his swing without losing that power. He is expected to be in AA in 2006 anyway. I lost faith last season when he clubbed all those homers at Hagerstown then was virtually shut down for homers - got a boatload of doubles and triples - at San Jose then I watched EME and Ishikawa go to San Jose and didn't lose a beat on their homer hitting.

About EME, it was noted that he could move to 1B, but no one thinks his glovework would be good there either. However, because, in the words of an AL scout, "that SOB sure can hit," the scouts sees a hitter who can hit .300+ with .400+ OBP and 30+ homers. I continue to hear about his arrogance, which also contributes to his being unwilling to devote much energy to his fielding; he truly embodies the term "mini-Manny Ramirez" and, if so, he doesn't want to play for the Giants because he knows we are an NL team and will need him to play a position. He has "AL" stamped all over his face and I think it will be a matter of time we trade him to an AL team for a hitter who can actually play a position.


Surprise: Giants starters got a rest today; plus inconsistent Yahoo columnist

OK, not so much a surprise. The bigger surprise is that Felipe didn't just go with an all-rookie team for the most part, but perhaps he included some of the regulars in order to give Lowry a chance to win the game. Snow, Alfonzo, Durham, Alou, and Feliz played with Ellison, Chavez, and Haad. I would have thought they would fit in Linden somewhere instead of Alou or Feliz. Alou could be playing because he is close to the minimum necessary to qualify for the Top 10 in batting, but he needs 24 (or so) AB in 4 games, so that's a long shot at best.

However, it hasn't worked this game, the Giants are out of gas, being 1-hit so far by Lawrence after scoring only 1 run in yesterday's game against a pitcher (Astacio) that the pitching poor Rangers deemed not good enough for their staff (then again, they gave up on Drese also, who then went to Washington and pitched well there before going on DL; the evaluator of pitching talent there has not done well...).

A newspaper reporter lambasted the Giants for falling to Astacio but I guess he didn't notice that he has pitched well with the 'Dres so far, 3.35 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, .247, so it is not like the Giants were the only ones, he has pitched well against the Nationals, Rockies, Braves (in Atlanta), Phillies, Nationals again, Phillies again (in Philadelphia!), with only a bad outing against the Reds.

D*(&#! D-backs won and we lost, we're in third by a game...

Yahoo's Inconsistent (at best) Columnist

I don't remember his name but I noted a few posts back about the guy who said that all Giants fans are "naive bumpkins" for not giving Bonds a bad welcome back, citing Palmeiro's bad reception everywhere he goes. He also claims that it is not a white/black thing because he has said some unkindly things about Giambi as well and, of course, he is white. However, I just realized that the columnist, at minimum, is being inconsistent.

Why is just Giants fans the naive bumpkins? Because, unlike Bonds, Giambi admitted in the illegally released and gotten grand jury transcripts that he took it and then apologized generally during spring training about some unspoken sin he committed, but since the grand jury leak (illegal by the way, shows that the system is corrupt in certain ways and the press doesn't care as long as it got a scoop) is the only thing that came out about him between the end of the season and his press conference, one can only assume it was because of his admitted use of the illegal drug. Whereas the most anyone can prove right now is that Bonds were supposedly given substances similar to what other atheletes were given, we have in Giambi, like Palmiero, a proven user.

But he is not booed everywhere. I don't recall him being booed all during spring training. In fact, I don't hear anything about Giambi getting boos everywhere he goes. Perhaps I just don't know and am totally out of it, even though I've been reading the sports page all season (and closer than past seasons because I'm in a Fantasy Baseball league) but I would think I would have heard something like "for the 150th straight game, Giambi has been booed in the stadium he played in and not one person cheered. Not once. Not even a peep. Nada. Nil. Nyet."

Why aren't all these people "naive bumpkins" as well? What is so special about Giambi that all the fans who were indifferent to him or cheered him is not called a naive bumpkin but when Bonds is treated the same way, SF fans are called a naive bumpkin? And why weren't other fans given the "bumpkin" treatment when they cheered wildly when Bonds hit a homer? Wasn't that even marginally inappropriate according to his ethos on the matter? He had a chance to mention their "bumpkin"-ness as well, he has a regular column, he could have given himself another headline grabbing title "Naive Bumpkins in Washington D.C. Too!" But there was something about Bonds that made his fans "naive bumpkins" but the New York fans not. Hmmm, I wonder what that could be?

Actually, he could have given the Washington fans an even lower designation. I mean, Giants fans would be expected to cheer Bonds; after all, he plays for the home team. What are the Washington's fans logical reason to cheer Bonds? He is playing for the opposing team, wouldn't that warrant something stronger than "naive bumpkin" from this columnist? But, again, he is strangely quiet.

No, instead, he feels quite proud talking about the fan reaction to his column, justifying his stance by touting "Then the rest of the country pretty much supported my original thought..." I guess that makes him feel better that everyone in the country supports his idea. "They really love me!"

Well, apparently not, there must be some non-e-mail enabled fans out there who don't support him because, as I noted, Giambi has not been booed by each and every fan who watched him during the season. Is he less guilty as the season passed? Is there an expiration date on when scorn and hatred should not be rained down upon him? Why do these fans get a pass from the columnist over Giambi? What is so special about Giambi that Bonds is not?

And remember, admitted abuser vs. suspected abuser, quasi-apology that was lame and odd, and his hitting has been all over the place, we don't know if he started using again after being tested since they only test once a year (from what I recall). Doesn't anyone find it odd that he could hit nothing, NOTHING, for half a season then suddenly everything in the world was OK again and he started hitting, and not just started hitting, but homers were flying out all over the place like he was Superman? Yet only Giant's fans are naive bumpkins?

The Fat Friar Has Sung

But we all kind of knew it would happen yesterday, didn't we, just deep down? As Grant aptly put it in his McCovey Chronicles: I didn't not believe. But we just didn't believe either. And that's OK. Hopefully Schmidt didn't aggravate anything, hopefully he can just rest all off-season and get himself into shape for next season, we need the old Schmidt back; hopefully Bonds didn't aggravate anything either and be ready for next season as well.

What a season: disappointing, maddening, frustrating, and yet we did get a little of that pennant fever in the past few weeks, after Bonds gave the team a little giddyup, only it was too late, ultimately too little, though he did hit .286 with 5 homers and 10 RBI in 14 games; not too shabby for someone with one healthy knee and no true "baseball" conditioning, whatever and however long that entails.

I assume all the question marks will play the rest of the way, Linden, Alfonzo, Chavez, Niekro, Ellison, Ramirez, Haad, but we have no one to play 2B so I don't know what the Giants will do, play Alfonzo there maybe and still play Feliz? Would seem a shame to rest everyone else and not rest Durham too.

But I digress and I'm tired. Go Giants, hopefully we can go out on a good note with some victories, we're still fighting Arizona for 2nd place in the NL West and whatever incremental share of the pot we get for that.


Well that didn't turn out well...

This hurts bad; this pitching debacle ranks up there in the annals of poor pitching performances with Salomon Torres beating at the hands of the Dodgers and Livan Hernandez' implosion in the 7th game of the World Series. The game should have been ours. We took the lead 3 freaking times in the first 4 innings, scoring in each of the first four innings, and every time they did anything, we countered and took the lead back, until the fateful 4th when Snow's error (plus, lest we not forget, Fassero's inability to throw enough strikes to the two batters who got walks, though according to a poster on McCovey Chronicles, he was robbed of a strike three from the umpire three times) allowed Ramon Hernandez to come to the plate... Undone again, basically, at the hands of a grand slam. And it wasted Bonds stunning 3-run homer to start the game....

Some fans have been debating what the Giants need for next season and many of them said that the Giants should resign Tomko if he is asking for a reasonable ($3-4M per year) contract. I think this game, and his previous games, show what type of pitcher he is, what type of heart he has. The sabres hate Rueter but, to me, he always found a way to get the Giants to a victory or at least close enough with a decent effort; Tomko, however, is like the anti-Rueter, he always found a way to keep the Giants close but frequently on the short end of the stick.

Unfortunately, he is like Livan, showing a taste of what he could be as a pitcher if he could just harness it full-time instead of short bursts. Writers talk about his second half "excellence" but none of them look at his numbers. Tomko always has his one month of good pitching for the Giants that tantalizes the fans, August last season (if I remember right), September this season (until this game...).

The only reason he won all those games with the Cards in the season before was because they scored a boatload of runs for him, his ERA was atrocious, 4.57 post ASG, and he really only had one "good" month, August, 4.15 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, .293 BAA (three previous months were .300, .349, .328, so it was good by comparison), only 19 K/34.2 IP. And last season, he did have a stellar September, 1.78 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, .161 BAA, 33 K/35.1 IP plus another great game in October, but a horrible 4.86 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, .262 BAA in August. He wasn't much better in July, 3.97 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, .292 BAA but 9 K/34 IP.

Lets face it, Tomko needs more than advice from his old Toronto coach (2003's turning point according to him), a sports psychiatrist (2004's turning point according to most press accounts), or a mechanical flaw that he fixed (2005's turning point according to him; impressed him enough to say that he should write it down somewhere; judging by the results of this game, he didn't take my advice and have the damn thing tattooed to his hand to remind him every time he pitched a baseball). He will always roll that boulder up the hill, only to see the damn thing roll down again and have to start over again.

He's not going to get better with us, just like Livan wasn't going to get better with us either. He needs to go elsewhere and find his mojo, like Livan did in Montreal. Livan, when he realized that if he didn't get his act together he wouldn't be able to vest his option, finally figured out how to pitch very well on a consistent basis, at least until he reached the option vesting point, at which point, he had a horrible game (but he got his option vested). But the light bulb had been turned on, and he knew how to turn it back on again.

Tomko's light is not working consistently, it flickers here, it flicker there, but it never really turns on. So he resorts to writing mechanic tips on a piece of paper - if he were a real pitcher, a lion heart, he would burn that into his memory, he wouldn't have to tell a newspaper reporter later that he figured out his mechanic's problem and should write it down somewhere. That is not something someone with cajones would do and we need starters with cajones. Schmidt and Cain has cajones; Lowry and Hennessey appear to be learning. Tomko's is like George's complaint in Seinfeld: "its shrinkage!"

Besides, the Giants have a nice core of Schmidt, Lowry, and Cain right now, and Hennessey has shown a lot the past two games, so perhaps he can be a legitimate #4 next season behind the three. So we are probably looking for a #5 starter to come in and take up innings productively. Correia might be able to do that. Valdez might get a chance in spring training to do that. Plus #5 starters are a dime a dozen (i.e. $10M for a dozen) so the Giants wouldn't be investing much to get such a starter, just a mil or so. Matt Kinney, despite his bad outing, probably will get a good look in spring training as well, he did well enough this season with Fresno.

Or if the Giants decide to open their purse as they hinted at earlier in the season, they may be able to sign a legit #2 starter to give the Giants a very strong - potentially - 4 man rotation with Hennessey as the #5. I've seen some posters mention A.J. Burnett, but I would think his outspokenness about his manager in Florida would have spooked Giants management.

But Hennessey should be given a chance. Hennessey has pitched wildly up and down since he first came up last season. He has had a large percent of dominating appearances but balanced against truly horrible starts last season and he continued that this season. But he has been impressive his last two outings, when the Giants were basically at the do or die point, and he did it. The Giants need to give him a chance next season to put it all together and pitch consistently. He is too dominating when he is on for the Giants not to give him more chances in the majors.


Giants beat the 'Dres with 2 in the 9th off Hoffman with 2 outs...

Can't get any better than that!!! What a game, what a game, what a game!

Hennessey gives up two hits to start the game, the second a 2-run homer (to Loretta and Klesko respectively, Klesko last homer coming exactly 1 month ago), so it looked like Mr. Hennessey was pitching, but then he settled down to retire 16 batters in a row (close enough; walk then DP) before Loretta got the only other hit off Hennessey. Hennessey ending up pitching 6.0 innings, 3 hits, 2 walks, 2 R/ER, with 3 strikeouts, changing a horrible start to the game to about as perfect as you can get it over the next 6 innings. This was his second great outing during the most difficult stretch when the Giants NEEDED a good outing (13.2 IP, 6 hits, 4 walks, 3 R/ER, with 7 strikeouts). Then 3 hitless relief innings by Accardo, Taschner, Walker, and Benitez to keep the score 2-1 into the ninth.

Then the ninth. Hoffman comes in, he of 41 saves this season, 434 total over his career, 38 straight saves with his last blown save on April 29 with a 2.85 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, .230 BAA this season. He relieves Peavy who, as the ace of the 'Dres staff, did not disappoint, going 8.0 IP, giving up only 6 hits, 1 walk, 1 R/ER, with 5 strikeouts, plus Bonds held hitless for four ABs.

First batter, Feliz, pops out on, what else, the first pitch. Matheny singles to start the rally and Ellison runs for him. Alfonzo flies out for the second out. The Giants are down to their last out.

Then Randy Winn caps the evening with his fourth hit in four ABs, a triple that popped out of Giles glove (losing a homer) to score Ellison to tie the game. Vizquel, in a horrible second half, got a walk to put runners at first and third. Then JT Snow comes up and singles to score Winn for a 3-2 lead, for his second clutch hit of the game for his second RBI. Then Bonds made the last out to go 0 for 5.

Then Benitez comes in and gets three outs for the save and the Giants victory!!! Now the Giants are 3 games back of the 'Dres.


The lead is down to 4 games; the Giants can tie with a sweep of the 'Dres

Wow, this is about as good as one could have hoped for the Giants given how this season has gone: they can tie for the lead with a sweep of the 'Dres. Odds still long to win the division but improved greatly with their victory coupled with the 'Dres loss. Unfortunately, we get tested early with Hennessey facing Peavy (2.93 ERA at home this season, 1.00 WHIP, .208 BAA; Bonds and Snow has ruled him) - talk about long odds! We either need Dr. Hennessey to show up for Monday's game or Bonds to have a 3 homer game or something.

It gets little better the rest of the series with Tomko vs. Eaton (3.13 ERA at home, 1.32 WHIP, .257 BAA; Alfonzo, Alou, Bonds, Durham, and Snow have clobbered him); Schmidt vs. Astacio (3.38 ERA at PETCO, 1.20 WHIP, .202 BAA; Alfonzo, Alou, Bonds, Matheny, and Snow have crushed him); and Lowry vs. Lawrence (4.64 ERA at home, 1.26 WHIP, .256 BAA; Bonds, Durham and Feliz have dominated him). It will just be a gaunlet of pitchers the Giants will face against the 'Dres, hopefully they will be up for it.

What about Cain?!? Another good outing, going 6.0 IP, only 3 hits, 3 walks, 1 homer, 1 R/ER, with 4 strikeouts. Although Hawkins promptly blew the save and cost Cain the victory, Cain was able to have another sterling pitching performance - in particular in Coors, the warped reality of baseball there where 5 run leads are not safe. He has not had one bad outing yet and continues to impress with his consistency, unlike King Felix, who had two bad starts in a row before nearly pitching a no-hitter.