Giants Pitching Not As It Good as Seems - According to FIP

I was reading on The Hardball Times this article on FIP and it says that pitchers with positive FIP-ERA should fall back to the "mean", as defined by the FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching; read article for explanation of the concept or this glossary). Many of our pitchers we are relying on qualified there as pitchers who are not as good as they would seem from their data.

Here is the Giants pitchers from THT database of stats who should fall back to the mean (i.e. should do worse) in 2006 based on their skill stats in 2005 (ERA, FIP, xFIP, which is expected FIP adjusting for normal HR rate):

Cain : 2.33 - 4.06
Taschner: 1.59 - 3.05
Correia: 4.63 - 5.97
Munter: 2.56 - 3.78
Benitez: 4.50 - 5.24
Walker: 4.23 - 4.61
Eyre: 2.63 - 2.99
Hennessey: 4.64 - 4.99
Lowry: 3.78 - 3.87

So basically our whole pitching staff, according to this stat, had better ERA than their stats would indicate. I wonder if SBC skews this but I could not figure out a way to get the numbers for 2004 season. But no one important got horribly bad except for Benitez and I wouldn't trust his numbers, he came back faster than expected and pitched when he wasn't 100% so I have to give him his due for trying when we needed it. Correia is pretty bad so it would make sense, given this stat, to try someone else than him as starter. If he is out of options, though, we might have to trade him or trade someone (probably Walker) to open a position for him. Lastly, Cain doesn't look so impressive anymore, statistically so I guess I was hasty to think that he would do great going into his first season (however, BA thinks that Cain is a ROY candidate so that can't be all bad; plus a 4-ish ERA is better than anything Tomko ever did for us).

Here are the ones expected to get better:

Accardo: 3.94 - 3.81
Hawkins: 4.10 - 3.81
Tomko: 4.48 - 4.18
Fassero: 4.05 - 3.71
Schmidt: 4.40 - 3.86

Well Accardo came off well from this. And Hawkins looked like the pitcher I liked in the trade for Williams and Aardsma (can you imagine if we had Aardsma and Accardo in the pen?). Tomko came off better but still not worth $7M per season to me. And Schmidt was particularly heartening, it looks like a bit of bad luck finally hit him last season.

Here's how our acquisitions so far has for their FIP:

Worrell (PHI): 7.41 - 4.77
Worrell (ARI): 2.27 - 4.20
Kline: 4.28 - 5.70
Morris: 4.11 - 3.97

Boy, this makes the trade for Kline look particularly bad. Hawkins may have had his faults but he was still good last season, whereas Kline and Worrell look even worse. This makes it look like Sabean just imploded the bullpen.

Our best hope is that the psychology of the move really affected Kline - and one can reasonably assume so because how rare is it for a ballplayer to openly state that he made a mistake signing with a team? And Kline looked particularly good the previous few seasons with, who else, Matheny behind the plate. So hopefully that (especially since it looks like Javy Lopez isn't that great a catcher, he's being moved to either 1B or DH or traded) plus the return to the NL where he was comfortable plus his now pitching at a neutral ballpark like SBC (last three seasons, look in baseball-reference).

A similar hope for Worrell too, that whatever personal problems that caused him to leave the team upset his whole season and now he can return to how he did before, which was pretty good. Again, factors like familiarity and SBC (Phillies and D-Backs have huge hitter's ballparks) should help him out.

Looks like Morris was a bit better than his overall stats, so that's good. And perhaps a return to Matheny, who is a good friend of his, will help him out as well. Matheny probably knows Morris' stuff better than anyone and would be better pitch selector for him in 2006.

FIP Says....

Here is our current staff's FIP and the overall average:

Schmidt - 3.86
Morris - 3.97
Lowry - 3.87
Cain - 4.06
Hennessey - 4.99
Correia (backup in AAA) - 5.97

Benitez - 5.24
Worrell - 4.40-4.50
Kline - 5.70
Walker - 4.61
Fassero - 3.71
Munter - 3.78
Taschner - 3.05
Accardo (backup in AAA) - 3.81

Overall, this makes our starting staff look good but our bullpen look pretty bad. There were mitigating factors for our three main relievers - Benitez, Worrell, and Kline - so hopefully there will be improvements there. After them, the rest of the bullpen look decent though not as awesome as their actual ERAs would suggest.

Ideas for 2006 Given FIP

Assuming FIP works as advertised (and the examples given in the article obviously support that, though I wish I could examine past data for Giants pitchers to see how FIP did in predicting them), then perhaps the Giants might consider starting Fassero as the #5 to begin the season and give Hennessey time in the minors to learn to be consistent. This would allow the Giants to keep Accardo in the bullpen with us.

Then we go half a season like that (plus we could return to the old way of going with four starters to begin the season, then work in the #5 starter later in the season) and reassess then: maybe Fassero doing well, then continue, but if Hennessey is going good (or any other prospect that looks that good), bring him up to start and send down a reliever (or trade away for prospect; Walker should look attractive to any team looking for a closer after ineffectiveness or injury or whatever).


Musing on Kruk and Kuip...

Ah, Kruk and Kuip. Who knew that two trades I totally hated would end up so well in the end, after their careers had ended? I love them as our broadcasting team, I wish they would do more stuff together on radio (my main way of catching Giants games via the media).

Two Hated Trades, Two Beloved Broadcasters

I was so mad at Giants management when Joe Morgan was traded to get Krukow. And Al Holland was given up to boot! We had just started tasting some success and Morgan and Smith were jettisoned, just like that. What was up with that? (Plus Haller screwed up and let Barry Bonds go unsigned that year as our draft pick over $5K! $5K! Bonds makes probably that much just sitting on the on-deck circle today!)

But it worked out in the end, Krukow had a great career with the Giants and he bled the Orange and Black like nobody, even back then, even though he was a Cubbie originally. I wonder which team was his boyhood team, he was born in SoCal if I remember right and played college ball at St. Luis Obispo.

Kuip, oy, we traded Ed "NY Pyscho" Whitson for him. Why, I'll never know, we already had Morgan and Whitson was a good starter for us and continued to have a long and successful career, when he wasn't pitching at Yankee Stadium.

Then again, if we hadn't done the stupid trade, we wouldn't have Kuip and we might not have needed to trade Morgan for Krukow either because if we still had Whitson, perhaps they might have needed something else in trade. In any case, we Giants fans are very lucky to have two broadcasters as good as Kruk and Kuip, manning the games for us, but, like I said above, I wish they would do more games together on the radio.

What If?

Then again, again, if we had Whitson in 1982, we might have won the NL West title instead of just falling short starting pitchers like Renie Martin and Alan Fowlkes. And who knows what would have happened then? St. Louis swept Atlanta in the playoffs, whom they lost their season's series against, 5-7, whereas the Giants lost their season's series against the Cards, also 5-7, so you never know.

But the odds would have been strongly against us. They had an offense led by Keith Hernandez, Ken Oberkfell, Lonnie Smith, George Hendrick and a new guy brought up, a young Willie McGee. They had a pitching staff led by Joaquin Andujar, John Stuper, and Bob Forsch, with new super closer, Bruce Sutter, just obtained the season before. They were all young and in their prime, in their 20's.

The Giants were led by old vets (surprise) Joe Morgan, Reggie Smith, and Darrell Evans, with Jack Clark, Chili Davis and Jeffrey Leonard manning the outfield. Our pitching staff had young guys starting, Bill Laskey, Atlee Hammaker, Rich Gale, Renie Martin, and Alan Fowlkes, as well as Fred Breining, Jim Barr, and Al Holland taking a number of starts, plus Greg "Moonman" Minton closing and Gary Lavelle also contributing in relief, as well as the aforementioned Fred Breining, Jim Barr, and Al Holland relieving for the most part.

I wish I had a simulation game like Diamond Mind and play these two teams together just to see what would have happened (with Ed Whitson, of course).


Milton Bradley Brings His Game to Oakland

What are the A's thinking? Well, probably the same thing Depodesta was thinking when he traded for Bradley when he was the D-ger's GM: that you don't look at a gift horse in the mouth. However, what a mouth on that horse! He's like that Michigan J. Frog from that classic Warner Brothers cartoon, the one the construction worker thinks will make him a fortune only to disappoint him to the point of basically giving it away to the next person who thinks he'll make a fortune.

Just looking over the incidents happening each and every year makes me cringe. Bradley is an accident looking for a point of impact and he will disrupt the Oakland vaunted loosey goosey clubhouse that Beane always tout. How they cannot see that, I don't know, Beane (and Depodesta) probably just looks at his numbers and salivate over getting that for a lower-level (though promising) hitting prospect plus Beane got a cheap infielder to boot, though he sounds like he's another Ginter in that he's all hit and no field, so if he doesn't hit, like Ginter, well, it won't go according to plan.

Either way the Giants win. Bradley on the team probably would have been a "T.O." level of disruptive influence with his running feud with Jeff Kent. That had to affect their team in 2005. Bradley off the team means that the D-gers now have to figure out how to replace Bradley offensive production which was a good combo with Kent and Drew (assuming Drew even plays regularly, what was Depodesta thinking with him?) . There's no one out on the market who really is qualified in that way and the ones who were - Konerko and Giles - passed on the D-gers riches for some home cooking. This means the D-gers will have to trade for him.

Lucky for them, they have a well regarded farm system, but then trading them away to get the players they need will probably deplete their farm system and empty the pipeline for homegrown players in the near-term, basically the strategy the Giants have been employing under Sabean. That's a win again for Giants fans, looking forward, though balanced against them improving themselves both 2006 and perhaps beyond.

But they have a lot of holes from what I've been reading in blogs and articles: starting pitching (they were sniffing around Loaiza and Morris as well), 3B (just filled by Mueller but he has hit horribly at Dodger Stadium for his career), 1B, OF, backup catcher, bullpen. And they don't have that many prospects that they can just go and try to fill all of these holes, so they will have to make due with what they can get. Plus Drew is probably going to miss a significant number of games again, it is almost an annual rite for him (except for his contract year, luckily enough for him). Lastly, Furcal signing to the contrary, I've seen nothing to suggest that the D-gers have a lot of budget to sign players or that they can spend willy-nilly, but do know that McCourt is hocked up to his ears buying the D-gers (debt is around 95-99% of the value of the club) and the rumors have been that he will need to cut budget - if Fox needed to cut budget when they were owners, and they have deeper pockets, I don't see how McCourt, hocked up to his ears, is going to be able to outspend a multi-billion dollar corporation.

Thus, the D-gers should go into 2006 with some unfilled holes needing to be filled by inexperienced prospects or garbage free agents left over at the end of the Hot Stove session to be signed cheaply. And that's good for Giants fans, not only will they be undermanned, but that means one less able-body competitor for the Giants for the NL West pennant (not that there were any last season).


More on Morris, Part 2

Today's newspapers have additional info from the press conference that was cut short on KNBR due to Ralph Barbieri cutting us all off to discuss the Raider's inept offense and to have a scary screaming match with a Raiders fan. For me, it was the verbal equivalent of a rumble.

Got these tidbits off of accounts from the Chronicle and Mercury:

  • Biggest interesting item was that Sabean noted that they were pursuing BOTH Loaiza and Morris hard (one of my questions above), which would have busted the budget, but he would have done it and asked questions (and presumably trade players) later. In that scenario, I could see how that Schmidt trade rumor popped up, perhaps that's how the Giants would have dumped salary - no other real way I could see.
  • Merc noted that Sabean might consider #5 starters on fringes of free agent market.
  • Also, he's trying to trade a position player for a left-handed hitter (note the lack of the phrase "power" in there) since the Morris chase took his eye off Mueller;
  • Gathright rumor repeated though with term "known to have pursued" meaning the chase is off;
  • lastly, he said he's trying to trade Alfonzo but isn't actively pushing Feliz.
  • Schulman of Chronicle got some good quotes in his column. Gives a great flavor of Morris' intensity and competitiveness.
  • Said Sabean noted Morris' reputation as a pitcher who rises to importance of the game and his drive.
  • Quotes Matheny, "We've had some good battles together against the other team and against each other on the mound. He's intense. He's one of those guys you know you're going to get everything he's got."
  • Matheny also explained how Morris and Carpenter encouraged each other in the weight room and clubhouse, says "if you ask Chris, he'll pass on a lot of credit [for Cy Young] to Matt."
  • I like the quote from Morris on his definition for gamer, which is what Sabean called him in the meeting: "To me, it's a guy who takes the ball every fifth day and competes with intensity whether he's sharp or not, and the other four days are spent pushing the other guys. I'm not going out there every fifth day and then sitting around for four days drinking coffee. It's such a long season, you want everyone to be happy. You want everybody to compete. That's the type of player I am." Now that's what I like to see in a ballplayer.
  • Shea got some good bits of info as well. There was a long quote from Magowan: Morris better track record than Loaiza, most of best pitchers controlled by Boras so there will be a long and drawn out process to sign them and there was a premium to get something done fast (like Giants wanted is the impression I got); Morris brings lot to table, reminds him of Smoltz in leadership and winning and talking to other pitchers; plus he's 3 years younger than Loaiza.
  • Magowan also reiterates $85M payroll range figure (2nd year in roll we are at that figure).
  • Interestingly, the Red Sox called Sunday hoping to enter the bidding, so we may have dodged a bullet there (for those who want Morris; I like the guy, hate the money).
  • Lastly, a quote from Morris on pitchers who throw a lot of innings: "I guess it's a rare commodity nowadays, a guy who can throw a ton of innings, 200 innings. There's nothing better for a manager and a bullpen. I'm looking to save the bullpen and win some games."


More on Morris

Here is contract info I snipped from SI's website, it should be out everywhere soon anyway as it is an AP report, which is the only source I know of for player contract details:

He will receive a $2 million signing bonus at the end of his contract and is scheduled to make $5 million next season and $9.5 million in both 2007 and '08. The contract contains a $9 million club option for a fourth season that could go up to as much as $11 million with escalators based on performance. He would receive a $1 million buyout if the option is declined.

That's huge backloading which should free up money to get other items on Sabean's wish list: second starting pitcher, lefty power hitter, backup catcher, utility MI. Hopefully, he can fulfill some of the needs via trade, perhaps Alfonzo for Matsui as had been rumored for nearly a year, perhaps Feliz for a starting pitcher or even a lefty power hitter, though that would then necessitate signing a 3B to take over.

Notes from Morris talking about the signing:
  • Giants were his first choice, and he was gratified that they pursued him from the start and was upfront with their interest.
  • Talked with Matheny about the Giants, spoke well of Felipe and the team.
  • Thinks the world of Matheny, coached him through some big games, a tremendous person, looking forward to being reunited with him.
  • Cards made it easy, made business decision to pursue Burnett, plus was slapped in face with 2 year, $13M offer from Cards, knew it was time to move on.
  • Why chose Giants: ownership, team, chances for winning World Series, nice weather, nice city, great park (dissed Cincinnati's and Phillies' parks)
  • Length of contract was a factor, it's what he earned, he's aware of the market for starters heating up the past two off-seasons.
  • Has made transition from power pitcher to complete pitcher: in 2001, after tommy john surgery, he got back his top velocity and used with curveball, was just 2-pitch pitcher. But it took a toll on him with power, so he has added pitches over the years, changeup, and cut fastball in 2005.
  • Will push Lowry and Cain, help them out, work with them, try to get them to outperform him.
  • Health question: 2004 ended with cleanup on labrum, came back faster than expected, felt better than he's felt since college in 2005, look forward to pitching here.

Giants sign Morris to 3 years/$27M plus team option 4th year

I think I've exhausted everything one can say about Morris. There are question marks. There are extenuating circumstances. He didn't pitch that bad in 2005's second half, he just wasn't as good as usual. Declining K-rate and K/W-ratio is scary.

Morris in the press conference said that the surgery after 2004 cleaned out things and he hadn't felt that good since he was in college. He loves the ownership, the team, the city, it was his "first" choice (well, when your choices are Rangers, Reds, Mariners, Dodgers, there's really only one choice if you are looking for a organization with a long term winning reputation looking to compete in 2006, and that's the Giants). Loves rejoining Matheny. Looks forward to tutoring Lowry and Cain and egging them on to outdo him.

Again, out of the available free agents, he's the best of the bunch in our price range (under $10M per year), by far. High risk, high reward, he could outpitch the Schmidt of pre-2005, he could match Schmidt of 2005. The more I look at his numbers, the more I think he would be closer to his former self than to the pitcher he was in 2004-2005. Still, we could be paying $9M for an average pitcher, which, while obviously not great, is not that bad given how much other teams are paying average pitchers, it was worth the extra $2M per year to try to catch lightening in a bottle.

Because if he is on and Schmidt is on, we would have a dual head monster on par with Randy Johnson/Curt Schilling at the D-backs. And the scary thing for Giants fans is that if Lowry could get consistent over a full season, he could also be a top of the line starter, making it a three headed monster. Lastly, Cain pitched as well as a top line pitcher during his short time with us.

Obviously fan hyperbole and wishful thinking, but I don't believe that all four will do it. However, to have four pitchers who have a realistic chance of pitching like a top of the line starter is a great comfort to me. I have been writing that the Giants need to have a stronger rotation in order to move deep into the playoffs, something akin to the Johnson/Schilling duo. I think we have a reasonable chance of having something similar in the 2006 season, and if we are really lucky, three such starters. And at worse, only one will pitch like an ace and the rest will pitch ordinarily.

So now we need a lefty power-hitting 1B to play with Niekro at 1B in a platoon or, better, take over the position full-time. And if we can upgrade on Feliz at 3B, all the better. I would be OK with Mueller at 3B as been rumored if the Giants can get a power lefty at 1B, else we shouldn't do it. Sounds like he probably will sign soon so they will have to decide soon whether they need him or not.


... what you can do when you are caffeinated late in the day by a Venti Mocha Frappaccino from Starbucks! Go Giants!!!

Snow in LA? Hope for it, Pray for it!

Now that Snow is officially an ex-Giant, he is searching for new employment. And he prefers close to his San Mateo home so he probably wants to stay on the West Coast, preferably California. And it happens that someone who admired him is now GM of the Dodgers and they are one of the contenders for his services.

Some Giants fans are hoping Snow doesn't go there, but a part of me does. Not necessarily from the evil part of me, hoping that Snow slows up their offense, though that's a possibility, 2005 was his first season where he couldn't generate adequate HR power on the road, something he was able to do even in his injury plagued seasons.

No, I'm hoping that he signs with them because it could help out the Giants. The Dodgers recently signed Furcal and obviously he's playing SS. Former starting SS Izturis is out anyway with injury and surgery recovery and is scheduled to return mid-season, whereupon the plan is to move him to 2B, which would push our ol' buddy, Jeff Kent, to 1B. So currently lefty hitting power hitter Hee Seop Choi would be out of a job by then anyway (Ironically, if Snow signs and starts plus they get Mueller, another rumor, the Dodgers could be starting Snow, Kent, and Mueller in the infield; and Jose Vizcaino is a free agent if they are looking for backup MI...).

However, at the moment, the Dodgers are keeping Choi to play 1B for the first half that Kent isn't playing there. But, here's where Snow comes into play for the Giants: if he signs with LA for under $1M, then the Dodgers won't have any need for another lefty 1B only like Choi who could expect to make $2-3M in arbitration plus there would be no need for him by mid-season anyway, so the Dodgers would non-tender him and make him a free agent on Dec. 20th. Then the Giants could sign him to play 1B and be our lefty power-hitting bookend to Niekro's righty power-hitting bookend at 1B. Wouldn't that be special? Amen, brethren!

I would still prefer Adrian Gonzalez, if I had my druthers, but he'll cost us a good prospect to obtain whereas Choi could fall into our pocket for just $1-2M if Snow signs with LA. Make it so, Sheriff Ned, make it so.


I hope the Giants sign Winn and soon. I think he will be a great addition for the future and will improve our offense significantly. Obviously he's not going to hit 11 homers in a month again. I think Winn is worth the risk, he showed a lot in his short time with us, and obviously salary inflation is hitting the league hard again and I don't see any reason for it to stop next off-season.

I think he will do better than people think (i.e. his career), though obviously not as good as his career month-long spree when batting with Barry in the lineup - I don't think it is all a Brady Anderson type of fluke. He's been hampered by hitting at SAFECO and Tropicana and thus far he apparently is one of those rare LHH who can muscle up homers in SBC. We need to lock up players like that. He should be good for .280+, 20+ homers, 20+ steals, OK defense in CF, and be equally adept at scoring and driving in runs, you know, like what we expected from Durham.

Offense is a hard commodity to find in the CF position, his road OPS was .824 in 2005, .821 from 2002-2004; that would have ranked 7th in terms of overall OPS after Junior, Andruw, Edmonds, Jose Cruz Jr, Milton Bradley, and Grady Sizemore in the Majors for guys with over 300 PA, 5th if you counted only players who were qualified. Looking only at road OPS, he would have ranked 10th for hitters with significant ABs, 7th for those with over 250 PA.

And we don't have much coming up soon in the CF pipeline. Fred Lewis took a step back last season and he was already old as it was for his league. And Clay Timpner doesn't deliver much offense already and he just finished high-A league play. He smells like another Calvin Murray type, all defense, all speed, little hitting.

I would still hold my nose to whatever contract we sign Winn for, but like I said salaries are escalating and we cannot be timid in the face of it. I would hope the contract is something like 3 years at $7M ($6M/$7M/$8M; his salary is $5M I think for 2005 and free agent salaries are strongly tied to their last season's salary projected forward with inflation) plus team option at $9M or $2-3M buyout for the 4th year. That seems about right given his old salary and the way the market is climbing.

Sabean said that the two sides would get more serious about negotiating around Thanksgiving and obviously we haven't heard anything yet. I am hoping the only hitch thus far in negotiations is the Giants' pursuit of starting pitching and not that Winn is holding out for more. Most players want to play at or near home and Vallejo, I think, was where he grew up (or was it Richmond?). That's more A's territory but still, it's home cooking and I think his wife is from here as well, so family from both sides will be here, so we might even get a hometown discount of some kind, who knows, or maybe he loved hitting at SBC and that could maybe sway him to stay here. Whatever it takes, as long as it is market-reasonable and not crazy, I hope he stays with us long-term.

Sometimes Morris Happens...

Most accounts in the news says that the Giants won the Morris sweepstakes for 3 years at $27M. Sounds like it'll be at the 3 years at $25M level plus $2M buyout plus team option for the 4th year, probably around the $10-11 level. At this salary and injury risk factor, I can only hold my nose and wish for the best.

I know my title connotate more of a negative tone to my stance on the deal, but I'm not that torn up over the deal. I wouldn't say that we are getting ripped off, as some have put it. His stats last year was still good overall, but we are certainly at risk for overpaying slightly for average results and definitely at risk of having another Robb Nen situation of a pitcher lost for the season with nothing to show for $9M - he's been seriously injured twice during his healthiest years, his 20's, there's no reason to believe that he'll miraculously become healthy in his 30's.

However, his risk is no worse than when we signed Schmidt to his contract. Schmidt only had that beautiful half season with us on his record as a starting pitcher, he was pretty ordinary previously plus frequently injured. I was similarly scared by that contract over an unknown quantity - one could say even more worried as at least Morris had done well before, whereas Schmidt just had that lovely half-season with us. Both will have the injury Sword of Damocles hanging over them for the rest of their careers: so will we get domination or will we get injury marred seasons? Hopefully, their risks will "negate" each other, like risky stocks in a portfolio, and we get one dominating season from one and we'll see from the other. That plus Lowry and Cain should be enough to get us to the divisional title in 2006, damn what happens in the future.

This is also no worse than the gamble the Giants took with Bonds' $95M contract. How many of you thought Bonds would be hitting well at 41-42? Even 40 was questionable, the history of baseball said that it was extremely unlikely he would do well, only Ted Williams did and fortunately he's the one who matched up best with Bonds skill and career-wise at that stage of Bonds' career. But we could have been paying $20M to Bonds for slop, history said it, our guts said it. Age and injury were huge question marks for Bonds - I'm more than glad most of it worked until 2005. And I assume we all agree that his injury put a wrench into the works in 2005's season.

I could have went either way with Morris, signing or passing. If we are going to blow away a big chunk of money anyway on a starting pitcher, I preferred Morris over the choices who were in our price range (under $10M per year) as most of his "substitute goods" are journeymen mediocre pitchers whereas he actually had pitched well before. I didn't consider any of Boras's stable of pitchers to be substitute goods because he somehow snookers teams to overpay for his clients, both in years and dollars, and I assume $10M is the where the bar is set for the limboing set. No thanks, I'll pass on that drama.

As I have recently written, I have become of the persuasion that it probably is better to dip into the non-tender market and find, say, 4 cheap mediocre starters and let them battle Hennessey for the last two spots in the rotation. Obviously signing Morris would kill that idea for the most part. But the Giants could always do that for the last spot.

For those who want to compare Morris' uninspiring last two seasons to Tomko, I think it's hard to judge his results for 2004-5 because of his injury. I'm not as convinced about the second half "collapse" that most nay-sayers have been pointing at and holding their noses. In July he had a 4.36 ERA and in September, he had a 4.08 ERA, those hardly connote a collapse; it was in August where he stunk and even then it was a 4.93 ERA, which, while not great, is certainly an acceptable result for a good starter, he can't be great every month.

This is similar to what happened to Tomko in 2004, only in reverse. In that case, everyone was wowed by his dominating post-ASG stats but when I dug into them, he had two average months sandwiching a dominating one month. Which was real and which was illusion for Tomko, the two average months or the great one month? Same for Morris.

He was also "homeriffic" those last three months vs. the first three, 6 homers in first 3 months vs. 13 homers in last 3 months. Looking at the stats, I don't know how significant or not it is, but 7 of those 13 homers were in games against Chicago, else he was about on par with the first half of the year. As he's never really been a homer type, I think he'll be better going forward.

His K's also went down in the last two months but it was pretty good the first 4 months of the season. As well, his K/W ratio was extremely good (>2.0) until his final month.
Also on a positive note, he pitched really well his last two games of the season, 6.0 IP, 1 hit/3 BB, 1R/0ER, 4 K then 6.0 IP, 5 hits/1 BB, 2 R/ER, 1 HR, 3 K; except for his K total, they were two of his best games pitched in the post-ASG period.

Essentially his tailspin began soon after that long layoff between starts because of the ASG, 9 days between starts. He had an OK but short start, then a string of 5 bad starts, killing August, before righting himself enough for so-so starts until those final two games. So he looked pretty much like the Morris of old until the final two months. The question is whether the decline was due to fatigue, or a new or recurring injury, or even just damn random luck - maybe it was just one of those stretches when he couldn't strike anyone out and everything guys were hitting were falling in for hits, Schmidt had that type of period in the 2005 season but he did it early so that he had time to fight back and do well again, whereas Morris' was near the end, though he did pitch really well his last two starts.

Don't know which it is for certain, right now I am inclined to predict that he will do well, but in any case, it looks like we Giants fans will have front row seats to see what will really happen.


Reading the Tea Leaves the Wrong Way

OK, the Merc today states that the Giants are the front runners now for Morris. Only Cincinnati stands in our way. I'll shut up now. :^)