Baseball history, analysis, and commentary from John J Perricone; born in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Oh, and Barry Bonds. Lots of Barry Bonds.

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.... Bad medicine

Dusty drew first blood, as his Cubs defeated the Giants 4-2. The Giants left 16 men on base, as several members of the team are starting to worry me, especially Aurilia, who left the game with Head Trainer Stan Conte after striking out in the fourth inning. I have yet to hear a report on why he was taken out, but he seems completely lost at the plate; I'm undecided whether I hope there's something wrong with him or not. At least there'd be a reason for his struggles. As for the rest of the team, since the team's hot start, pretty much Durham and Cruz are the only ones hitting consistently. Even Superman is starting to look mortal.

The good news is that they were able to get on base, but jeez, they had the bases loaded two innings in a row and were only able to get a single run out of it, and that was walked in.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 29, 2003


.... Stumbling

The Giants lost to the Phillies today, 10-2, as Jerome Williams' major league debut turned out a tad sour. They are still 18-5, their best start since moving to the West Coast, but there are some signs that all is not, well, gigantic, in the land of the Giants. Bonds went 0 for 3, with another strikeout, and he is anything but Super so far this season. Alfonzo seems to have no idea what he's doing at the plate, but it's hard to decide of he's as lost as Aurilia, who seems stuck in some 2002 season memorial.

Alou says he is considering a lineup change. Well, as I argued so often last season, sometimes change is good. Just because the team is winning, there's no reason to ignore losing trends. The top of the order, other than Durham, has been bad for three weeks now. Batting Perez second in the first game of this series didn't help, but they escaped game one with the win. Fine. Make some adjustments. Stop playing Grissom every single day. Let him take off a game against a tough righty now and again. Get Barry in the #3 slot. Drop Alfonzo out of the top of the order, or (gasp!) let Pedro Feliz play a couple of days in a row.

Just don't sit on the early season division lead. Push. Gamble. Risk. Now.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 26, 2003


.... Giant bounce

In today's rubber match, the Giants rode the strong pitching of Damian Moss to a 3-1 win over the Pirates and Kris Benson. The Giants haven't lost a series in their last eighteen, as they continue to surge ahead in the National League. At 17-4, they are one game off the best start in franchise history, and they have begun to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the NL West, with a six game edge in the loss column over the second place Rockies.

Bonds was back in the lineup (2 for 3 with a walk), and although Alou didn't make the lineup switch I wrote about earlier, he drove in the first run with a single, part of a three-run third inning that featured four singles in a row (Alfonzo, Bonds, Cruz and Gallaraga). After Jesse Foppert allowed five runs in the first inning Tuesday, the Giants pitchers held the Pirates to just four runs over the last 30 innings of the series, an outstanding performance. Moss had his most effective outing of the season, pitching into the eighth. By doing so, he allowed many of the Giants relievers to get the rest they so desparately needed heading into a weekend series with the Phillies that will more than likely feature three consecutive starts by rookies for the orange and black.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 24, 2003


.... Giant change?

Henry Schulman's article this morning ends with the following teaser:

Alou said he is toying with the idea of moving Barry Bonds up to third in the lineup when he returns from his neck injury. Alou originally slotted Bonds at cleanup thinking he would get pitches to hit if he batted with runners on base in the first inning. But Alou said he's noticed that pitchers are challenging Bonds more when he opens the second inning with nobody on, possibly because a solo homer can do less damage.

If Bonds bats third, at least he'll get up in the first inning, increasing the chances for a rally, Alou said. If so, Alou might put Cruz back at No. 2 and drop Edgardo Alfonzo and Rich Aurilia into RBI slots.
OBM readers will recall that I argued for Bonds batting third during the spring when Alou first suggested he was a cleanup hitter. The calculations I ran looked like this:

Batting 3rd 94 games with at least one man on in the first inning, 162 games batting in the first inning

Batting 4th 117 games with at least one man on in the first inning, 117 games batting in the first inning

So, as I said then, batting cleanup, Bonds would bat in the first inning only 72% of the time, give or take. Through the first 22 games, Bonds has played in 16 of them. How many times has he batted in the first? 11, or 68%. Damn, I must look like Nostradamus or something, eh? Anyway, I'd guess the bigger issue for Alou is the fact that Aurilia, and to a greater degree, Alfonzo are struggling, so he's probably thinking about moving those guys around to try and jump-start the offense. What better way to jump-start your offense than to get first inning at bats for a guy who reaches base more than half the time?

Oh, and scrolling through my archives, I found this post on JT (the Hitman) Snow and the Giants new batting coach, Jim Lefebrve. What better time to look at it than when JT is on top of the world.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 24, 2003


.... Oh God

Aaron Haspel, the God of the Machine proprietor, has created a new statistic designed to fill our minds with wonder. You must go and see what he has to say, and be sure to tell him who sent you when you email him your comments and critiques....

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 23, 2003


.... 13 is my lucky number

The Giants just finished off the Pirates 4-3 in 13 innings. The big hit was a two-out, three-run home run by Jose Cruz Jr. in the eighth inning that tied the score, Cruz's sixth of the season. I felt that the game was significant, it was started by Kirk Rueter, Schmidt will be away from the team for a start or two, the team has struggled to score against some tough starting pitchig from the Pirates; and a three-game losing streak would have taken a bit too much of the luster off the team's terrific start. No matter how you slice it, 16-4 is a lot better than 15-5.

Tomorrow's rubber game will pit Damian Moss against Kris Benson, both of whom have an ERA below 3.00 over their last three starts. OBM is really hoping to see Moss throw some strikes. Really really really.

In the meantime, let me comment on a few plays from tonight. First of all, Marvin Benard, reminding everyone why he is a fourth outfielder instead of a starter, in the 11th inning, after two guys reached on about twelve pitches (uh, Marvin, the pitcher's having trouble finding the strike zone), Benard grounded into an inning-ending double play on the first pitch he saw, a pitch that would have had to buy a ticket to see home plate. I couldn't count how many times I've seen him do that over the last two seasons.

In fact, during most of this game, you'd of though the Giants hitters were in a hurry to run out there and catch some more fly balls or something. At one point, D'Amico had pitch counts of 11, 6 and 5 pitches to get through three consecutive innings. Or to put it another way, Kirk Rueter needed 107 pitches to get through six innings, while D'Amico got through seven with just 87, of which 52 were strikes.

Other things that caught my attention.... Ruben Rivera looked absolutely horrible at the plate, striking out in his two at bats, and he was nowhere near the ball. Neifi Perez got a chance to show off his cannon of an arm with a couple of really nice throws filling in at short for Aurilia after a double switch. Benito had a couple of really nice at bats late, going the other way for a couple of hits. Snow continues to stay hot, with a single and two walks, while Alfonzo continues to struggle, missing several batting practice pitches before weakly flying out. Brower pitched two nice innings for his third win.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 23, 2003


.... Lies, damned lies, and statistics

OBM friend, (although he's never given me the plug I've begged for), Rob Neyer, has an interesting little column looking at the opposite ends of the baseball spectrum, the Yankees and the Tigers. Here's the part that blew my mind:

The Yankees are 17-3, which is what we'd expect from their 142 runs scored and 63 runs allowed. The Yankees have been just about as good as a team can possibly be. The Yankees have hit more home runs than any other team in the American League, and drawn more walks than any other team in the American League. The Yankees have allowed fewer home runs than any other team in the American League, and allowed fewer walks than any other team in the American League.

You want other ways of measuring their dominance? The Yankees have more home runs (40) than the Tigers have runs (39). The Yankees have allowed only five home runs in 20 games, while no other major-league team has allowed fewer than 13.
He goes on to say that no team in major league histroy has ever finished a season leading in all four of those categories. Oh, and he doesn't even mention that the Yankees starters are 15-0, the first time that's ever happened in baseball history. And Steinbrenner is breaking Torre's balls.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 23, 2003


.... Information is my friend

The always knowledgable John Sickels has a terrific scouting report on the Giants Jesse Foppert.

Despite his lack of extensive amateur experience, Foppert has a lot of polish. His mechanics are clean, smooth, and consistent, which helps him throw strikes more consistently than most young power pitchers. His fastball is his best weapon, timed at a consistent 94-95 mph, occasionally peaking at 99. He mixes the fastball with a slider and a splitter, both additional offerings being potentially above-average. The splitter is quite nasty when he is throwing it well. Foppert has good pitching instincts and a fine work ethic. He needs a better changeup, and still needs to sharpen his command, learning the difference between throwing strikes and throwing quality strikes. All of his weaknesses should be resolved with additional experience.
In other words, ignore last night. He will.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 23, 2003


.... Good news is good news

Yankee uberstar Derek Jeter, began throwing to first base, as reported by ESPN in this article. Yummy.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 23, 2003


.... No news is good news

Lord a' mighty, the Giants are really getting the business right now. Henry Schulman notes that not only did the team lose two in a row for the first time, (after Jesse Foppert was thumped 5-2 last night), but Barry Bonds' father had brain surgery, GM Brian Sabean's father passed away, and Jason Schmidt's mother also died yesterday. My condolences go out to everyone, and I wish them and their families the best.

In the meantime, Schmidt will be placed on special bereavement leave, meaning the Giants will probably call up someone other than Ryan Jensen, who was hit by a line drive in his last Triple AAA start. It may be time for Jerome Williams, who is scheduled for his next start the same day Schmidt was supposed to pitch. Oh, and Bonds' woke up with a stiff neck, JT Snow is still sore, and Ray Durham was banged around on a close play during yesterday's game. Wow.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 23, 2003


.... General von Steingrabber, refresher

Here's a terrific column by Mike Lupica, the man who coined the General von Steingrabber moniker, reminding us of how the Yankees' principal owner handles his team.

It's been stated here before, but here it is again: It makes Steinbrenner even nuttier that Torre gets as much credit for these Yankees as he does. He likes Torre, and respects him, has to know what he has in Joe Torre. But, Steinbrenner, more than anything, wants this to be about him. His money. His organization. His scouts. Even his Billy Connors.
Never underestimate how much George wants to be recognized as the reason the team wins, regardless. It's why this Yankee team is no guarantee to win anything this season. George has sabotaged this team before and he can do it again.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 23, 2003


....Plug me in

Will Carroll, who writes the Under the Knife feature for Baseball Prospectus Premium, takes aim at Tony Gwynn and many of the sportswriters who lazily write steroid-craze columns whenever some ex-ballplayer decides to get himself some publicity.

Normally, I open light and breezy. I talk about coffee, beer, or even the heavy stuff (NyQuil--and I'm feeling much better, thank you). UTK is my way of talking to a bunch of people all at once, and anyone who's met me knows that I talk and talk and talk. Today, however, I'm going to say that Tony Gwynn is as full of crap as Jose Canseco or Ken Caminiti, and simply leave it at that.

The word "steroids" is becoming de facto shorthand for performance-enhancing drugs, both legal and illegal. It's also becoming the de facto way for lazy journalists to point at a game and players they've come to loathe and besmirch it with an air of community service. Buster Olney is a really good writer (with a very interesting interview over at Bronx Banter), but he's fallen into the same trap as many before him: Find an ex-player with an agenda, find someone within the game willing to back him up for an unquestioned reason, and play at public perceptions that baseball players really aren't more talented than you or me--they're just on drugs.
Is it possible that Will has stated the case more eloquently than moi'? You bet. Isn't it time you got on board at BP Premium? Yep. Oh, and did you notice the plug Alex got for his Olney interview? Good for you Alex.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 23, 2003


.... emails and details, the end

Reader Steve Shelby has one more thought....

John, I am reminded that at the Sacramento Pizza Feed in February, Gary Huckabay of Baseball Prospectus thought people make too big a deal about hitters striking out. "No one ever struck out into a 6-4-3 double play." I could add that one might have in mind someone like Richie Sexson last year. He cut down on his strikeouts, but he also hit fewer HRs. Is that an improvement?

On the other hand, Giants 3B/1B prospect Julian Benavidez struck out last year way too much. As a scout told me, if he can just cut down on the strikeouts, putting the ball in play more often will get hits just from pure luck, which would get his batting average back up (.265 last year after .300 the year before). I thought about that with SS Cody Ransom this year. If you remove strikeouts, is his batting average the same this year and last year, and his overall batting average is almost 100 points higher? No, at least currently, his non-strikeout batting average is about 75 points higher this year.

The pitching/defensive efficiency reminded me about clutch hitting. I buy that there is really no such thing as clutch hitting, at least over a long period of time. The question might also be whether there is any such thing as clutch pitching. I have not heard any studies about this. We worry about how hitters do with runners in scoring position. How about how pitchers do with runners in scoring position? We pay attention now to how pitchers do with inherited runners. Does this reflect actual skill or luck?
Well, it's a little of both....

Foppert's start had some luck in there, but he also walked a bunch of guys. Bottom line, the more balls hit in play, the more likely one or more of them will drop. High K totals also are an indicator of a pitchers ability to control the "context" of the individual at bats. A high K pitcher, like Mark Prior, is usually ahead in the count more than a pitcher like Moss. That means the batters are hitting 1-2, 0-1, 2-2, more often than 1-0, 2-1, 2-0, etc.. The difference in a batters production between 0-2 and 2-0 is pretty substantial. Again, this is a hidden indicator of success and failure.

Stuff like clutch pitching or hitting doesn't bear out in any studies I've ever seen. Over any small sample, anyone can have a run like JT is right now, but just like any statistical study, the larger the sample, the smaller the deviation (right?).

As for the Sexson/Huckabay comment, keep in mind that there is a huge difference between the success and failure of a single hitter attempting to improve his performance by not swinging at the high-heat, for instance; and a whole team putting their 5% in the hands of their defense. Because that's what we're talking about, 5%.

The whole league turns about 71% of all balls in play into outs. Reader Big Nose sent in the Voros McCracken Breakthrough, which is summed up thusly: "There is little if any difference among major-league pitchers in their ability to prevent hits on balls hit in the field of play. " The very best teams turn 75% of all balls in play into outs, the worst, about 67%. It's that difference that is one of those key hidden indicators that the casual fan cannot grasp. They watch a team lose even though they appear to have "good" peripheral stats, hits allowed, errors, etc.. But the difference between needing to get 20 outs with your glove vs. 23, is the same as adding an inning to your opponents scoring opportunites, simply because of that luck factor. That won't kill you if it's once in a while, but add a couple of extra walks to the mix (Foppert, Moss, perhaps Ainsworth), fail to get one or two 7 inning starts a couple of times through the rotation; and you've suddenly got a bullpen that never has a day off, like our current Giants team, (although the stats are a bit inconclusive).

Comment on this   [1]  »  April 23, 2003


.... Special Thanks

OBM's friend and blogosphere co-hort, Pete Sommers, put up a sweet quote from yours truly in his Baseball News Blog today. Thanks, Pete. My name looks great up there with all the big boys.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 22, 2003


.... emails and details, ad infinitum

One more time from Mr. Shelby:

John, let's get it on....

Expected hits per ball in play--I am not sure, but is this true from both the hitting and pitching perspective? I am not sure it is as true (i.e., as predictable) for pitchers. I did a quick little search and found that in 2002 for pitchers with 162+ IP, WHIP and K/9IP have a correlation co-efficient of 0.40, which does not quite convince me either way. If it is true, then you should be highly critical of Rueter's contract extension, shouldn't you?

We agree that the Giants are better without Livan and that they would be way better with Nen than with Brower. I don't know that I am ready for Nathan as a closer. I think Eyre has been rather good this year, and he has won my confidence relatively speaking.

That Benard would clear waivers is the problem. If only someone would claim him ... I wonder if Feliz is viable as a 5th OF, at least if you have a 4th outfielder like Rivera or even Benard who can play center. There was talk of Feliz being in the outfield this year before the Cruz acquisition. Given that Feliz is the emergency catcher, is he that expendable?
I searched around and couldn't locate the Baseball Prospectus article on defensive efficiency, but I will say that I don't know enough about statistics to respond to your co-efficient blah blah blah. What I know is that the way the DE numbers work makes sense to me. The better clubs are the winning clubs most of the time, and vice versa. Also, Bill James argues very convincingly that a pitchers strikeout rate is the single most effective indicator of future success. James normally runs thousands and thousands of simulations and computer forecasts before he comes out with this stuff, so I'd bet he's got a good handle on it. So, I guess the answer is yes, DE, and the inherent assumptions its is based on (i.e., the more strikeouts you get, the easier it will be to get those 27 outs) do apply to individual pitchers as well as teams.

Kirk Rueter is an outlier anyway, a pitcher who is able to win with numbing consistency with as little stuff as possible. It appears that the team now has several pitchers with his tendencies (low strikeouts, lots of balls in play, tiny margin for error, difficulty in finishing games), and I stand by my assertion that this is not good, regardless of their current record. In this post and this one, I was critical of the trade. I felt all along that Moss for Ortiz on it's face was a poor deal, and after the Rueter extension, the Giants essentially announced that they were trading Ortiz for Rueter, Moss was simply a pitcher with a low cost, it could have been Foppert or Ainsworth or even Williams to take Ortiz's spot, as long as whoever it was came on the cheap.

As for Feliz, he has been spoken about as an extra outfielder, I guess they ran him out there in winter ball. He has legs of lead, however, so if he's out there, somebody must be hurt. As for Eyre, I just have one question; Toronto basically threw him away, and he's an inexpensive lefty. Why is that?

As for positive news, Jesse Foppert gets his first major league start tonight, against the Pirates. Oh, by the way, remember way back on April 4th, when Reggie "Jackson" Sanders had 4 home runs and 11 RBI after fourteen at bats. Yeah, well, since then he's had 1 home run and one RBI, with 15 strikeouts in 38 at bats. Or, shall we say, he's back to normal.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 22, 2003


.... emails and details, Part II

Steve Shelby responds:

John, here's some responses to your responses to me.

I think you are overly concerned about the strikeout rate and that defense ultimately falters.  I remember Gammons commenting last year a couple months into the season about the Giants being last, or nearly last, in strikeouts.  I give Sabean credit for fielding a team that fields the ball well.  That said, I am surprised by the number of errors that Aurilia has made already.  I would say that Bonds is probably the weakest starter defensively, and he is a former (9 time) Gold Glove winner.

Yes, the Nen contract is quite big in terms of today's economics.

I can't say why, but I have been high on Nathan and his chances since last August.  It's hard to explain why since as WF Boof points out, he never had an ERA under 4.40 in the high minors (AA and AAA).  There has been some hype that Nathan could even be a closer within a couple years. I think Eyre is overrated.  My impression was that he had a low ERA last year because other relievers bailed him out a lot.  His WHIP was very high last year.  Meanwhile, Zerbe is doing nothing to inspire confidence this year.

Eating innings?  I don't think it has been that bad.  Although we lost a short reliever like Nen, we gained a reliever like Brower who can pitch more innings. The other problem with adding a 12th pitcher currently is that no position player on the team has minor league options.  Who do you expose to waivers?  It could be an outfielder, but do you really want to have just four on a team with a couple of pretty old ones (Bonds and Grissom).  A week ago I was speculating that if any position player other than Santiago or Torrealba was sent to the DL, that Manny Aybar would be back in a Giants uniform.
Steve, great stuff.

As for the low number of K's, I do understand that the team went to the World Series last season with a pretty low number of K's per 9IP. I am under the impression that Righetti subscribes to the "put it in play" school of pitching espoused by a small group of pitching coaches. That said, it does put a lot of pressure on the defense, and the boys at Baseball Prospectus and Bill James have argued pretty convincingly that expected hits per balls in play is fairly predictable. So, if the team is winning and holding teams to a low number of runs primarily with their glovework, that trend can be expected to reverse eventually. It doesn't have to, but it should.

All I meant with the sly Livan comment is that with this type of staff, someone who can sit there and go eight or nine pretty regularly would be a big help to the relievers while Nen is out. I would never want Chubby to come back, believe me.

I think that substituting Brower for Nen is a huge setback, and no matter how you slice it, that's what we've got. I too, find Joe Nathan to be intriguing, although Alou seems committed to using Worrell in the ninth. Me, I'd put everybody back where they were and use Nathan as a closer, but that's me. And Benard almost certainly could get through waivers with his contract, although you're right that they need five outfielders. I'd probably try to get Pedro Feliz through, since he's not likely to get many at bats, it wouldn't be the worst thing if some other team picked him up, at least it would be fair to him.

As for Eyre or Aybar or Fultz or Zerbe, well, those guys are the real inning eaters. Anytime one of them comes into the game, I feel like it's a crapshoot, regardless of platoon advantage or whatever.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 22, 2003


.... Copycat

I know imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but today's SF Chronicle has a column by Jared Green, the self-titled Giants Guy, which is eerily similar to this post I just had on the team's hot start. He comments on the red-hot Snow, the extra load on the relievers, the four worry spots in the rotation (although he wrongly chooses Rueter as the picther most likely to make it into the seventh), all in all, it sure seems too similar to be a coincidence.

Is it possible that Jared reads OBM? You tell me....

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 22, 2003


.... Read and learn

Another boy from the Bronx, Alex Belth, has a lot to say as he covers the most expensive team in sports history, the 2003 NY Yankees. If you head over to Bronx Banter, you'll be happy to find an in-depth interview with Buster Olney, the esteemed NY Times sportswriter. Alex is making a name for himself with his terrific interviews, as he brings out a different side to these baseball people who we read or watch of hear about. This Olney interview is long, and extremely well-done. Enjoy.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 22, 2003


.... But I'm the Boss

George Vecsey thinks it's refreshing to know that Torre can still get mad at Steinbrenner. Along the way, he raises an interesting question: Might Steinbrenner be wrong in his methods but right in his decision:

This is not the first time Steinbrenner has referred pitchers to (Billy) Connors, a fringe major leaguer four decades ago who has become an éminence grise for the Boss. Nobody on the varsity likes to see him show up because he carries the label of the Boss's man. Conversations stop. Body language shuts down. The walls have ears. Steinbrenner, however, has reason to think pitchers like Doc Gooden and David Cone have been helped by sessions in Connors's laboratory. Whether Connors works his spell more with Steinbrenner than with struggling pitchers is debatable
It will be worth the aggravation if Contreras comes back on track, particularly if one of the Yankees ageless pitching wonders hits an injury snag.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 22, 2003


.... emails and details

Steve Shelby, who runs a great little site called SS's SF Giants Diary, sent in the following email:

John, I have been trying to make sense of what you wrote today about the number of hits and walks the Giants have allowed. The Giants rank 20th in WHIP. However, I can't figure out why they have not allowed more runs. I thought that maybe the Giants are allowing a low slugging rate. But, no, that's not it. I thought that maybe they are allowing a low batting average with RISP. Again, no, it's higher than their overall BA allowed.



Maybe it's the Giants offense scoring 6+ runs per game that makes the Giants pitching look good. Also, as bad as Jensen was, the Giants won both of his starts. Well-timed offense helps too. I don't know.....

The need for a 12th pitcher .... Is that Christiansen when he comes back? I think you'd want a bigger name pitcher to close, but I don't think the payroll is there to do it. This sounds a bit like the concerns last year for the Giants to get a better lefty in the bullpen than Zerbe and Fultz (which turned out to be Eyre in August, whom I think is a very marginal improvement). There wasn't the money to do it, and the Giants still had a great season and post-season without a situational lefty. Your thoughts.....
Steve, thanks for writing.

Two things. First, although their runs allowed number is high, the reason they have been so succesful is that they have concentrated their runs allowed into a couple of games, three in particular stand out, the 16 runs yesterday, the 8 runs against the Astros last Wednesday, and the 9 runs they allowed in that 10-9 win against the Dodgers (or the Padres, I forget) in the first week, I think that was a Jensen start. That's 33 runs in three games (out of a total of 81), and they won one of the three. If you take those runs away, again, they look pretty good. But forget about runs for a second, which, although they are a fairly good predictor of succes and failure, can be really skewed in such a small sample as 18 games. Total baserunners per 9 IP (walks plus hits per nine innings pitched, or WHIP) can be a more useful tool in such a small sample, because you're only counting the opposition's ability to gain that single base at a time, regardless of scoring.

My concern with the Giants WHIP number is that it is surprisingly high for a team running above .900 winning percentage; but more importantly, with their strikeout totals being so low, (we suddenly seem to have four-fifths of our rotation looking like Kirk Rueter, with a margin of error thinner than his hairline), the team is poised for a struggle as soon as the offense cools, (which is, of course, inevitable). The lack of strikeouts means that they are very dependent on their defense to get them the outs that they need to win games. It's extremely unlikely that they can continue to be this succesful, (or even, mostly succesful) if they are forced to get so many outs by picking it up and throwing it. Rueter's got 3 K's in 23 innings, with 10 BB's. Moss has 13K's in 20 IP, but he's also given up 16 walks! Schmidt has almost 30% of the team's K's, with 28 in 26.2 IP. Ainsworth has a nice 16 K to 6 BB ratio, but he's allowed 5 home runs. OK, I'm nit-picking a bit here, they are 15-3, but even so, the team has one starter who appears to have the ability to get a punch-out when needed. Unless I'm completely nuts here, I think we are looking at four six-inning starters under the best conditions, which leads us to my second point, Robb Nen.

The Nen issue is deeper than just getting him back (or replacing him) so the rest of the bullpen can go back to their normal roles. Situational relievers are, as we saw in Eyre, pretty much laying around the scrap pile. A situational lefty would normally be the eighth or ninth or even tenth best pitcher on the team. If Nen was healthy, pitchers like Eyre and Brower would see about an inning per week. With Worrell and Rodriguez and everybody else pushed deeper into the game, we have seen a lot of Brower and Eyre and Nathan (although that's turned out pretty well, no?)

Nen's contract, which was renewed by him this past off-season, (and is due to be again next off-season, for a bit more cash, by the way), completely handcuffs the team in their efforts to contend for a championship should his shoulder cause him to miss the rest of, (or most of) the season. Nen will cost the Giants just shy of $10 million dollars in 2003, so no matter what Peter Gammons speculates, there is no chance whatsoever of the Giants picking up a "name" closer.

So there you are. I said it in week one, and nothing has changed. Will the bottom of the rotation pick it up and start throwing strikes? If they don't, I doubt the team can sustain this early season success. Interestingly, the one thing the team would seem to need under these circumstances is an inning-eating starter. You know, somebody like, say, oh, I don't know.... Livan Hernandez.

;-)

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 21, 2003


.... Quotable quotes

The line was, of course, from the greatest film of all time, The Godfather. And the quote was from the soon to be waking up in bed with Karthoum's head, Jack Wolz. I must apologize for my error in the quote, however, as the line reads: "And a man in my position can't afford to be made to look ridiculous!"

Nonetheless, many of you got it right away, which you should have... as I said before, the line came from the greatest film ever made.

Thanks to the Internet Movie Database

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 21, 2003


.... Opening Act review

The Giants are off to their best start in 65 years, (or 85 years, whatever), led by, of all people, the screaming-hot JT Snow, who is leading the majors with 21 RBI, (and is second in batting average to the unbelievably more-unconscious Jim Edmonds), and has come out of the gate with a sizzling .385/.475/.694. Batting behind of a front five of Durham, Alfonzo, Aurilia, Bonds and Cruz has given Snow 17 at bats with runners in scoring position, and he has driven in 16 men in those situations, an unconscious rate of production. Against righties w/ RISP, Snow is 7 for 11 with 12 RBI. All I can say is, I never imagined Snow could rebound from his miserable performance of the last two seasons and put together a run like this, anytime, anywhere, anyhow. I will be eating the biggest helping of crow you can imagine if this keeps up much longer.

The team is featuring 5 regulars with on-base percentages above .380, and is third in the NL in runs scored and driven in.

But all is not roses in the land of the Giants. Although they have a stellar 15-3 record, their pitching has been less than stellar, and they are relying on their offense far more than say, the Yankees, or the real juggernaut in the NL right now, the Chicago Cubs, who lead the league in runs scored and earned runs allowed. A close examination of the Giants numbers reveals the following worries:

1. They have the second fewest strikeouts of any team in the NL, 100 in 164 innings pitched. At just over 5K per 9IP, this team is relying on their defense to pick it up and throw it far more than any other contender. The Cubs, for instance, have 174 K in 168 innings, or 9.4K per 9IP. That's a huge advantage, HUGE! Over the course of a season, this will take it's toll on every pitcher on the team, and especially on the teams' core relievers. A twelfth pitcher is beginning to look like a real need here.

2. The pitchers are also giving up a pretty large number of hits, having allowed 174. Add in the 70 walks, and you've got 244 baserunners in those 164 innings. That's 13.5 per 9IP. Again, that's a lot of work for a team that fancies itself a contender. Now, I know that they just got blasted for 18 hits and 16 runs yesterday, but even without those numbers, the pitching looks a bit thin.

I've read several articles in which Alou has maintained that a twelfth pitcher is not in the teams plans, but I think he is making a mistake, perhaps his first of any importance, but a mistake nonetheless. Without Nen, the team is using their seventh and eighth and ninth best pitchers to get through the sixth and seventh innnings over and over. With every start, Moss seems more and more like a six-inning pitcher, Rueter is a six-inning pitcher, and with two rookies in the rotation (Foppert and Ainsworth), the team needs to be able to use Rodriguez and Worrell for the seventh and eighth innings like they did last season, with Eyre, Brower, Nathan et al, as spot-relievers, or platoon advantage relievers.

This is a looming issue, one that needs to be closely watched, regardless of the teams' record. Not for nothing, but a five game losing streak could put them in second place before you blink. I hope the team is paying attention to the important details and indicators as opposed to sitting around patting themselves on the back. Their last two losses were like deja' vu from Game Six, a big lead, and then a complete inability to stop the bleeding. I'd hate to see the season run out like yesterday's horrendous loss.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 21, 2003


.... Uh oh

OBM readers will note that I have commented on the fact that many current Yankee fans, (that is, fans whose knowledge of the team is limited to the Derek Jeter/Joe Torre era) have little or no memory of the kind of asshole George Steinbrenner can be. They see him as a sort of lovable Monty Burns figure, someone who rescues David Wells from the clutches of the mercenary Jerry Colangelo, or even as some sort of international Branch Rickey, willing to spend his own hard-earned cash to help these poor foreign players get a piece of the American pie. They'd also be right to keep in mind the short attention span dunderhead boss of George Costanza.

He is some of those things, but more importantly, he is a tyrant. He is, has been and always was. Seems he's been content to remain in the background while his team has brought him more fame and of course, more money, than he ever dreamed possible. But starting in this past off-season, we've started to see signs that his alter-ego, General von Steingrabber, is less than happy with the fact that his team has gone two years in a row without drinking championship champagne while he has spent more money than the other George in Charge, President Bush.

Now, we read that he has gone behind the back of perhaps the greatest Yankee manager of all-time, Joe Torre. Torre is understandably furious, as he was made to look foolish, and a "man in my position cannot afford to look foolish." (see if you can dig up that movie reference).

So, what's going on in 'da Bronx? Well, let's see, the Yankees are just stumbling through the best 18 game start in the history of the franchise, without arguably their best player, Derek Jeter. But now we hear that von Steingrabber is going Magowan on Torre, feeling resentful that Joe is painted in the media as a sage, soon to be Hall of Fame manager of the best playoff team ever assembled; while the owner is being embarassed in the local papers for his seemly and poorly executed negotiations to bring the team to as many television viewers as possible.

OBM readers can visit Alex Belth for an inside take on this escalating situation, as Steinbrenner threatens to ruin something that, alas, appears to be too good to last. I'd bet that Edwards Cossette could hardly be happier.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 21, 2003


.... Roadhouse blues

The Giants beat the Dodgers again, 9-3, running their season record against their hated rivales to 5-0. What can you say about a 15-2 start? Even Neifi Perez appears to be getting into the act, having gotten something like 5 hits in his last 6 at bats.... I'm a bit speechless right now. so I'df suggest a visit to the first place Cubs' best site, the Cub Reporter. Take a listen to what Christian has to say about Dusty Baker, for old-time's sake.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 19, 2003


.... Bad news

Robb Nen will have another surgery on his ailing shoulder Friday, as the Giants continue their efforts to get him back to 100%. Here's what Stan Conte had to say:

Conte said that a best-case scenario would be another four weeks, "if we just put the scope in and pull it out." He said if more cleanup is required, Nen could be out until the All-Star break. Conte would not rule out Nen missing the entire 2003 season, although Conte indicated that is unlikely.

Nen had hoped to be ready to open the season, but the shoulder did not respond during spring training so he was placed on the DL. His rehab seemed to be on schedule until recently.

"He kind of hit a wall as far as progress goes earlier this week," Conte said. "With throwing, he continued to have some of the similar pain he had last year. We decided to send him down for another opinion with Dr. Yocum. . . . We are not quite sure what's going on, but the rehab has been unsuccessful and we continue to have problems.

"We decided to have Dr. Yocum put a scope in his shoulder, fix anything he sees. We think it is not going to be anything major. There is something going on in the back of his shoulder that we need to evaluate and the only way we can do that is arthroscopicly. . . . We think it will be the same type of cleanup, but we really won't know until we get in there."

Conte said that something "mechanical" is going on in the back of Nen's shoulder. "There is something pinching back there or needs to be removed."
That is not good.

Making matters worse is the fact that Nen is the second-highest paid Giant, earning $9.6 million this season. If he misses the whole year, I'd guess the Giants would get some kind of insurance payout, but still, having him shelved with that kind of salary almost completely handcuffes the team, should this last much longer. No matter how great Worrell is pitching, (NL-leading 6 saves), the team misses having him in that 8th inning, especially with Rueter being a six-inning man, Moss needing 100 pitches to get through five innings, and two youngsters bringing up the bottom of the rotation. This bullpen situation has been largley ignored during the teams terrific start, but it was obviously on Alou's mind yesterday as he watched Brower, Eyre and in particular Foppert, pitch from behind in the count the entire second half of yesterday's game, (of course, some of that was the rain, but the Astros were playing in the rain too).

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 17, 2003


.... Rainy days and Mondays

I was there yesterday, in the rain, as the Juggernaut was derailed. The Giants lost 8-5 to the Astros yesterday, and it was really a tale of two games. Over the first four and a half innings, the Giants shot out to a 5-0 lead, as Rueter held the 'Stros to just two singles. But leading off the top of the fifth, Julio Lugo, taking advantage of the wet grass, dropped an improbable bunt single into the no-man's land between the mound and first and second base. By then, it was really starting to rain, and whether it was the wet ball or just the Astros determination, but Rueter just imploded. He walked the next man on four pitches, and gave up a stunning three-run homer to Biggio on the next pitch.

Just like that, it went from a close-out, blowout, to a game, and the Astros got up off the canvas and started swinging. In fact, they never stopped swinging. Over that final four and a half innings, the Astros pounded out 13 hits, scored 8 times, and the threesome of Lidge, Dotel and Wagner completely shut down the home nine, holding them to just three baserunners. So, as Benito said in the postgame interview, they can't win them all, and the Astros are a tough team, so the Giants have won every series they've played so far, and that's the goal; win series'.

Here's a hello to the Randall's from NY, who sat behind OBM and spent much of the first (enjoyable) half of the game discussing the Hall of Fame merits of the great Don Mattingly.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 17, 2003


.... Out of position

I know it's early in the season, but I was looking at some of the team defensive efficiency (DE) ratings, and all I can say is wow. You got Minnesota, Seattle and Pittsburgh running above .75 (meaning that more than 75% of the balls put in play against them are turned into outs), the Giants are at a solid .7215. But some teams are looking really bad. The NY Mets, with as weak a defense as you'll probably see on a supposed contender, are at .6925. To put that into perspective, if both the Mets and the Twins both strike out 7 per 9 IP, that means the Mets would need about 29 balls in play to get those other 20 outs, while the Twins would need only 26. Over the course of a week or a month; that's really gonna add up. Add in the teams woeful equivalent average (EQA) of just .226, well it's easy to see why I feel the Mets have virtually no chance to contend, especially given their suspect (read, old) pitching staff.

There are other surprising numbers. Kansas City is posting a sparkling .7384 DE, and a very impressive .283 EQA, no doubt their young players are covering more ground; but they also seem to be banging away at the opposing pitchers pretty well. And that's without Carlos Beltran! Perhaps KC can continue their success for a while longer. Not only is their DE high, they've only allowed 86 hits through their first 12 games! Did I miss something, or have they just finished a ten game series with the Tigers?

The most surprising team on the list? As Mel Allen used to say, "How about those Yankees?" Let's see, first of all, the Yanks DE is the worst in baseball, a pitiful .6686. The Yankees need 31 balls in play to the Twins 26, using the same comparison as above. But the Yankees do a few things better than anyone else, and one thing way better. They've only allowed 2 home runs in their first 13 games! Two! And they refuse to walk anyone, with just 32, also best in baseball, and their SO/BB ratio is also the best in the game. So, even though their defense is looking a bit suspect, their pitchers have been stingy, so stingy that they are carrying the defensive load, although with a EQA of .310, (best in baseball, by a good margin) they can win giving up 6 runs per game or more right now. That's not likely to continue, nor are they likely to go through the season allowing just 40 home runs either.

Where do we go from here? Well, we can't put too much emphasis on these numbers, as the sample size increases, these extremes will tend to level out; but let's take a few educated guesses.

The Yankees will come back to the pack over the next month or so, and they may even slip more than that.

The Mets, on the other hand, will stay right where they are.

The Twins, Seattle, Pittsburgh and the Cubs will continue their early season success.

The Giants will, of course, come back to the pack somewhat, (I know, that's not much of a stretch, but I don't want to leave them out).

Colorado will begin to stumble, while Arizona will continue stumbling, as the Big Two learns how important it is to have teammates who are younger than Moses.

The Padres will overtake the Rockies and make some noise, (at least for a little while).

And the Tigers are as bad as their record, (.175 EQA! There are pitching staffs with better offensive production).

All stats courtesy of Baseball Prospectus Statistics page.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 16, 2003


.... Juggernaut, et al

The Giants are off to their best start in 85 years, after beating the Astros 8-4 tonight. At 13-1, they are just five wins away from the NY Giants 18-1 start in 1918. The Astros have been very generous these last two nights, between the bases loaded walks and all of the embarrassing errors, they could hardly be more accommodating guests. Jeez, even Neifi-I thought-I'd-never-get-a-hit-again-Perez got in on the action tonight, going 2 for 2 with a walk. And he hit the ball out of the infield too. It's worth mentioning that Kurt Ainsworth ran his record to an NL-best 3-0, and although he allowed a couple of home runs, he was in command throughout, throwing 53 strikes to only 26 balls.

On the other hand, the Betting Fool seems a little annoyed about the homer-ism's of the 680 KNBR radio spots that are inundating the airwaves. I'd say I agree with him, to a point. If the spots were being run during the off-season, building interest and momentum for the upcoming, defending-the-National-League-crown type of advertising, I'd be a little more forgiving. But he's right to criticize the over-the-top, soft-shoe being done by these so-called broadcasters at this point. What's happening with the team should never take a back seat to reporting.

Anyway, there's not much more to complain about when your team is leading the Diamondbacks by ten games, two weeks into the season, is there?

:-)

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 16, 2003


.... Friends, Romans and slaves

Those of you who have been around since the beginning will know that our good friend Pete Sommers is a terrific resourse for all things baseball. I'd say that Pete's Baseball News Blog is the best source for links outside of OBM. In fact, I've sort of modeled my approach on Pete's, as long as a site is active, I'll link to it (provided the writer doesn't espouse genocide, etc.). Anyway, I've put Oete back where he belongs, in my Everyday Links, so take a quick poke over there to see who is saying what.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 15, 2003


.... Odds and ends

The Giants are still surging, after beating the Astros 4-2 last night. Jeff Kent, who still thinks the world revolves around him, had this to say:

"The fans were like I expected," Kent said. "They appreciate good baseball. I expected them to do all they could to suppress me with their boos."
Uh, Jeff, maybe the fans were booing you because you are a boorish ass; not because they wanted to keep you down. Jeez, does this guys need a translator or what?

Neifi Perez continued in his ongoing effort to complete a season without hitting the ball safely out of the infield. I mean, can anyone watch him swing and really believe he can hit? He makes me long for the good old days watching Shawon Dunston. You're telling me there aren't twenty or thirty guys in Triple AAA that can do what he's doing for about ten percent of his salary? Wow. Check out what Mike Carminati has to say about his Neifi-ness.

I'd also say Alfonzo is really having a tough time at the plate as well. He must need more time to wash off the horror of playing for the Mets, who continue to make me look like a prophet after losing their sixth in a row last night.

And, when was the last time the Giants had a reliever warming up at the start of an inning?

Jesse Foppert looks like Ryan Jensen is on his way out the door. Aaron Gleeman, in the middle of this very long post, thinks Foppert is the real deal. Me too.

Glenn Dickey thinks Alou is a better fit with Sabean. Yeah, whatever. The season's 13 games old. Let's see how great a fit the new guy is in August.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 15, 2003


.... emails and details

OBM reader Robb Sloan takes me to task for my Bull Durham comments:

John, I really enjoy your insights and lucid points. Yours is one of the few sites I go to almost everyday. I think however that your insights on the Baseball Hall of Fame issue with regard to the Robbins/Sarandon participation are not correct. I agree that this act actually made it more politically charged than it may have been had Robbins and Sarandon went. But what public discourse is he hindering ? Robbins and Sarandon actually have a bigger stage to discuss their views than 99% of the rest of us.

As for Mr. Petroskey Republican Party ties, how come Robbins and Sarandon's ties to the Democrat Party aren't mentioned ?  I guess all of the money they have donated doesn't equal to working for President Reagan 20 years ago.

Again, I enjoy your page and it is a pleasure to read things from you viewpoint on baseball. It is your page and you have the right to write about whatever you please, but why should you also politicize this by taking sides ? I don't want to turn this into a right vs. left or Democrat vs. Republican thing. We certainly have enough of that everywhere. I thought that you and your writings could be above that.

Thanks for the great baseball work, Robb
Thanks for stopping by, Robb, and thanks for taking the time to write in. In response to your email, I think that perhaps you may have misread my post. First, let me answer your questions.

1. The public discourse he is hindering is the one in which Mr. Robbins, taking advantage of an opportunity created by his own celebrity, may have chosen to speak out against the war, in front of cameras and microphones on the Hall of Fame's front porch. I'd guess his thinking owuld have been something like, "Hey, why not use a platform created by "America's Pastime" to act in a most American way?"

2. Robbins and Sarandon's ties to the Democratic Party aren't mentioned in any of the newspaper reports I read, and not in the one I linked to. Further, who cares what their affiliations are? President Bush has actively courted and hired dozens of the (mostly) men and women who worked for his father and President Reagan. That makes Petroskey's participation in the Reagan Presidency extremely relevant.

3. We all take sides. Your side is; leave baseball out if political debate. My side is, everything is connected, whether we like it or not. Confusion and complexity are part and parcel with my world-view; in which right and wrong take a back seat to open discourse and debate. I should hope that my readers have come to expect and maybe even demand more of that from me, since it is so apparent that the mainstream media has decided to turn everything into "right" or "wrong", Democrat or Republican, good or bad. To quote the great Larry McMurtry, "I ain't nice. This ain't a nice place, and it ain't a nice life." Life is complicated, inexplicable at times, and challenging. There's no point in pretending otherwise.

Back to the issue at hand....

All I was saying, (and I am looking at it right now, to be sure), is that Mr. Petroskey was as thick-headed and as used to getting his way as someone like Hootie Johnson. Like so many of our so-called leaders, he appears to have no ability to listen to opposing views, to argue coherently, or to consider the possibility that people won't explode if they are exposed to anything "sensitive" or "dangerous," like, say, "peace advocacy." In doing so, Mr. Petroskey demonstrated little regard for the very thing that makes America the great country it is, freedom and openness.

I only touched upon the fact that he had the audacity to suggest that something said at a Baseball Hall of Fame ceremony could put our troops in danger. That is an outrageous and irresponsible statement, and it is unbelievably disrespectful to the men and women who are actually in danger. Oh, and let's not forget to mention the sheer absurdity of such a statement coming from a man who has personal ties to some of the current group of men who actually are putting our troops in harms way.

Furthermore, had he had the common courtesy to contact Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon a week or two earlier, and explained to them what he was doing and why he felt it prudent; preventing them from finalizing all of the plans and arrangements needed to bring their entire family across country, and had he done so prior to notifying the press; then perhaps he could have avoided having to see an obviously annoyed and put-out Tim Robbins ripping him on Sportscenter.

I do, however, support the open exchange of ideas and views (as I hope my readers have come to expect), and I do support Mr. Robbins and Ms. Sarandon for their tireless and selfless work in advocating not only against any and all war; but I feel that they represent that rarest of bird, the truly self-sacrificing person of means. Their reputation in the fight against poverty, tyranny, war, oppression and the like is an inspiration to all Americans; one that I believe would make our Founding Fathers proud. Mr. Petroskey has the right to his opinion, you are right about that; and he has a right to run the Hall as he sees fit; I am unsure as to whether I would say I support his right to close his doors, but at least I acknowledge that he is within his rights to do so. By doing so, however, I would suggest that in his efforts to prevent politicizing the Hall, (as he seems to have been intending); he has done the exact opposite. He created a controversy and a public discourse where perhaps none would have existed, regardless of what comments Mr. Robbins may have made on a stage in Cooperstown.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 15, 2003


.... News and notes

David Steele was just on ESPNews, and he was saying all the same things about the return of Jeff Kent to PacBell tonight. Here's a link to his same-old-story column in today's Chronicle. Bo-o-o-ring, to quote Homer Simpson. Once again, the mainstream coverage misses the point. Who cares about Kent's first game back? Not me. He has already demonstrated that he is a better hitter than talker, and frankly, he's just not that interesting.

What is interesting is that the Giants are off to their best start since arriving in San Francisco. At 11-1, they have won blowouts, one-run games, come-from-behind, and slug-fests. Are they for real? Good question. Peter Gammons points a finger at Brian Sabean and company as a big part of the team's success in this column.

Let's see. Beginning with the '97 season when Sabean and assistant GM Ned Colletti took over, the Giants have the third-best record in baseball. They have finished first twice, forced a playoff for the Wild Card in '98 and gone to the seventh game of the World Series, never once scratching the upper class of payrolls despite having the best player of his time.
Indeed.

What's going right for the Giants so far? Let's see....

Jose Cruz is running out at an outstanding .340/.448/.723 start, with a team leading 5 home runs. JT Snow appears to have bottled the post-season elixir he used to be such a force in last seasons playoffs (something my wife predicted, by the way), he's looking at a .371/.488/.600 TC line. Benito Santiago is off to a terrific start, .382/.432/.735, he's second on the team in total bases.

For the pitchers, Jason Schmidt has been terrific, with 20 strikeouts in 19.1 innings. Kirk Rueter has an astounding 0.96 ERA after three starts, (only 2 strikeouts in 18.2 innings!). Kurt Ainsworth appears to have turned a corner with two wins and 2.57 ERA, allowing 12 hits in 14 innings. And the early choice for pitching MVP has to be Joe Nathan, who is throwing mid-90's gas and has been a closer in the 6th and 7th innings.

Ryan Jensen (on the disabled list until at least 4/25), Neifi Perez, and Edgardo Alfonzo have all struggled mightily, and really, so has Superman for the most part. Given Bonds' slow start, the team is probably in better shape to continue this kind of surge than might normally be expected. As the Astros roll into town, keep in mind that Houston's scheduled starters (Wade Miller, Jeroime Robertson, and Brian Moehler), are all showcasing 5-plus earned run averages so far this season. Yummy.

Oh, and tomorrow night is the major-league debut for Jesse Foppert, brought up to replace Jensen.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 14, 2003


.... Pure, unadulterated "Bull"-shit

I was away from the real world for a while, and I sort of missed the hoopla around the Hall of Fame's decision to cancel a 15th anniversary celebration of the movie Bull Durham.

First of all, not unlike Hootie Johnson, I never ceased to be amazed at the utter cluelessness of some of the people in charge of these organizations. Instead of risking the possibility of a politically charged confrontation, they guarantee it by starting the fire themselves. Don't these people read the newspapers? Don't they own televisions? Could Dale Petroskey have been any more mis-informed and unprepared?

Recent comments by the actors "ultimately could put our troops in even more danger,'' said Petroskey, a former White House assistant press secretary under President Reagan. Reaction was swift. The Hall received 5,000 e-mails on the topic Thursday, both pro and con "Certainly people have strong views about this. I'm surprised how much interest it's gotten,'' Petroskey said. Petroskey said the cancellation was a management decision. He also said he was surprised at how his political background had been brought to the forefront of the debate. "I spent two years in the Reagan White House nearly 20 years ago, and I never served former President Bush or the current President Bush,'' he said. "Nobody mentions the 11 years I worked at National Geographic. I find it interesting that people seize upon something from my career nearly 20 years ago and that it slants the issue.''
Recent comments by the actors could put troops in more danger? Please. Stop insulting my intelligence. He's surprised that people would be interested in the fact that one more organization is doing something to prevent public discourse on a very questionable war? He's surprised that people would notice that his ties to the Republican Party would be newsworthy? The only reason I'm not surprised someone so woefully out of touch should be responsible for the Hall of Fame is because I am aware of its' notoriously conservative history.

Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, his longtime partner, have been active in peace rallies to protest the war in Iraq. Robbins said he "dismayed'' by the decision and responded Wednesday night with a letter to Petroskey, telling him: "You belong with the cowards and ideologues in a hall of infamy and shame.''
Hear hear.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 14, 2003


.... New friends

Scrolling through my guestmap, I noticed a new pin from Pam, who lives in Scotland(!), and runs a site called Hurtling towards Obscurity. First of all, how cool is it that I have a reader in Scotland? And second, how cool is the name of her site?

Also added to the rolls is Peter White's Mariner's Musings, a well-written, well-designed site dedicated to our baseball brethren from the home of Starbucks. Anyway, keep hitting that guestmap, it's the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 14, 2003


.... Juggernaut

First of all, let's take a peek at a weekend commentary from guest columnist Doug Purdie, who is keeping a close watch on the Giants running game:

In the 4th inning of Friday night’s 3-2 win over the Dodgers, Barry Bonds (a.k.a Superman) showed excellent judgment when, after walking, stole second on the very next pitch. The Dodger’s battery was not expecting it. Bonds got a huge jump and slid safely without a throw while Paul Lo Duca scrambled around the plate, trying to get a handle on the ball, tossed off speed and in the dirt. It was career stolen base number 495 for Bonds who is approaching yet another major milestone in his on-going Hall of Fame career.

Three batters later, with Barry still on second and two out, Andres Galarraga (the eventual hero of the night) ripped a sharp single to left. Brian Jordan got to it quickly and cocked his arm as Barry, running all the way, rounded third and headed for home. Jordan’s throw was a little off line, but there in enough time for Lo Duca to swing back to the baseline and put the tag on Bonds passing by. Inning over. No runs scored. Not so excellent judgment.


Thanks to Doug for keeping an eye on these little details. Hopefully, between the two of us, we will be able to come up with something worth reading about every once in a while ;-)

The Giants won again last night, finishing off a three game sweep of the Dodgers with a 5-4 victory in 12 innings. Marvin Benard, (yes, that Marvin Benard!) helped the team get through the top of the 12th inning with an outstanding throw to nail Todd Hundley at third base, and then he won the game with a double off the right field bricks to drive in Marquiss Grissom. Those of us who watched the game on ESPN were reminded of the walk-off home run he hit against the Dodgers in another ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game three years ago, and no sooner had Jon Miller finished with his reminiscing than Benard drove the ball to just about the same part of the park, only this time the ball hit the wall instead of going out. So, in the span of about ten minutes, Benard made his first defensive play of the year, got his first hit of the year, and won the game.

Other than a few struggling hitters, the team is firing on all cylinders. Here's hoping that removing Ray Durham after straining his groin is just precautionary, because, as Lee Sinins put it so eloquently in todays ATM Reports, Neifi Perez is more than living up to his reputation as a batter of unrivaled performance:
Giants 2B Ray Durham left yesterday's game, due to a mildly strained right groin. Durham's off to a .821 OPS/3 RCAA start in 11 games and has a .782 OPS/44 RCAA in 1211 games. He was replaced yesterday by Neifi Perez, who will also take his spot if Durham misses any time.

Perez is off to a very impressive start. While it's only a 7 game sample size, how can you not be impressed by how difficult it to have a SLG 152 points below average, an OBA 123 points below average, an OPS 274 points below average? And those aren't the league averages, those are the averages for pitchers' hitting so far!!!


As I said during spring training, other than to rest guys after long road trips, the only playing time this so-called "everyday player" will get will be due to injury. So far, he's been everything we've come to expect and less, posting an astounding .063/.063/.063 line, complete with having not hit the ball out of the infield yet. His one hit, a single, that dribbled past the mound, is fewer than two pitchers on the team, and we're only 12 games into the season. Anyway, enough about that, let's talk about greatness instead.....

Leonard Koppet has a special column in today's SF Chronicle spot-lighting Barry Bonds' place in history. It's an interesting read, as he attempts to contextualize the breadth of Bonds' career against the other all-time great baseball players. Skeptics will note the many ways these categories could be altered slightly to enhance or diminish the wasy he looks compared to the others. I'm content to say that anytime your name is included in a conversation about career accomplishments with Ruth, Mays, Williams, Gehrig and Hornsby, you don't need to apologize for anything.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 14, 2003


.... Big bounce

The SF Giants were rained out today, temporarily derailing the NL West juggernaut. Off to an historic 10-1 start, the Giants are doing it every way possible; winning high-scoring affairs and the close, nail-biters. New skipper Felipe Alou is pushing all the right buttons, as the defending National League Champions are letting all of baseball know that there will be no letdown in the Bay Area.

Regardless of the failings of the pitchers at the bottom of the rotation, SF is poised to dirve to an early season advantage, with Jesse Foppert and Jerome Williams give the Giants a tremendous backup plan should Moss, Jensen and/or Ainsworth falter, (although Ainsworth is showing just what he's capable of).

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 12, 2003


.... Explosion

The Giants pushed their early season record to an NL-best 8-1, after beating the Padres 15-11, in the highest scoring game in PacBell history. Winning eight out of nine is great no matter how you do it, but Ryan (I will soon be called Jesse Foppert) Jensen was hammered again today, and Moss didn't exactly light up the Padres yesterday....

So, as I said earlier, this team will pin its championship hopes on the bottom three guys in the rotation, and so far, they have really struggled. Ainsworth won his game against the Brewers, but he easily could have lost it. That's five starts and 24 innings between them. Here, take a look:

24 IP, 29 hits, 14 BB's, 9 HR's allowed (the whole staff has allowed only ten overall!), and 21 earned runs allowed.

That is a recipe for disaster right there, no doubt. Poor Jensen could hardly have picked a worse time to stumble, as Foppert and Williams have been blowing guys away. No team can get through three spots in the rotation needing to score 8 runs to win. These guys have started the season very shakily. Here's hoping Righetti can get them on track, because the creampuff part of their schedule is over for a while.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 9, 2003


.... Let's try that again

OK. David Pinto, who runs the excellent Baseball Musings, has a post regards an interview he just recorded with Will Carroll, who many of you know as the proprietor of the Under the Knife columns at Baseball Prospectus.... (Whew! That's a lot of words.)

Anyway, here's the link to the post, and here's the link to the interview.

Two things. These two men are among the biggest supporters I have, and are responsible for many of you coming to hear what I have to say. To both of them I say thanks, and I hope I have done a good job emulating their selflessness.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 8, 2003


.... Moving Day

I will be away from my desk all day today, so I have invited Doug Purdie, who I failed to connect with at yesterday's game, to publish a guest column. Say hello, Doug....



I was 10 years old one summer day in ’66. Three years after my father moved us from Detroit to San Jose, California, because San Jose was the fastest growing city in America, (and what better place for a family whose father is a construction electrician) I was loafing around the house, complaining to my mother that I was bored.

“Why don’t you read the newspaper?” she said. “The newspaper is boring too,” said I. “You like baseball, don’t you?” “Sure,” I said. “Well, why don’t you check out the sports section? There's a Major League team about an hour's drive north of here in San Francisco Why don’t you see how they’re doing?”

“OK”, I said, and I did. The San Francisco Giants were leading the nine other National League teams at the time. “Hey, The Detroit Tigers are also in first place in the American League!” Of course, neither the Giants or Tigers finished in first that year, but I was hooked, and have been ever since – a hopeless box-score junkie.

I am now employed full time as a trainer and writer of software user guides, with two grammar school age children, and a wife who also works full time and is also a passionate Giants fan. On to my two cents....

In this small sample of games so far, the much talked about the new running style offense for the Giants is showing success. Most of the reports on Durham and Cruz said they didn’t have enough patience at the plate to be table setters. Maybe they heard the same reports themselves and adjusted, because patience is mostly what I’ve seen so far from the two newcomers. Through seven games, both players have on-base percentages above .400, excellent production. (Actually, the whole damn team is just about doing everything right, aren't they?) I know it's much too early in the season to be taking the statistics very seriously, but it seems whenever one of them is up and I happen to be listening or watching, they are working three-ball counts. Exactly what you need from your #1 and #2 hitters.

So much for the on-base stuff, let's look at speed. Speed helps the team in many more ways than just stolen bases and hit-and-runs. With more speed, more runners beat out infield dribblers or grounders in the hole. More runners score from 2nd on singles, and from 1st on doubles (good example of gaining bases by being conservative and waiting for the hitter – more on that next paragraph). It’s what the “new offense” Giants are doing well early in this campaign.

More and more people are skeptical of the liberal running game (like John, for instance), though, citing odds that show it’s better to stay put and stay on (see examples in above paragraph), than to run yourselves out of scoring opportunities. They have a good point. I’ve seen a couple risky moves attempted by the Giants - Durham going from 1st to 3rd on a passed ball, and the double steal by Aurilia and Alfonso, both in last Friday’s game. Those happened to pay off, which brings me to the biggest and most important aspect of the running game.

Judgment.

Maybe the Giants’ risky moves are paying off because they are exercising good judgment. When it comes to the running game, knowing when to hold ‘em and when to roll ‘em is what its mostly about. That applies to the players as well as the manager. In and amongst all the daring base-path activity, there have been a few times when I expected Felipe to send Durham or Cruz, but didn’t.

I think Felipe has that good judgement, and has the ability to teach it to his players.

Oh, and I was at Opening Day too, even though John and I missed each other. Here's my take....



....The 6th Best Thing About Opening Day

Besides seeing the Giants win their 7th in a row and seeing back-to-back homers and after seeing Schmidt get strike three on 96mph fastballs at the letters, and besides beholding, for the first time in five months, the sunlit expanse of green field and the 60ft. US shaped American flag rippling in the breeze during the National Anthem, the thing I liked best about opening day was the fly-over.

Today it was F-22's, but it doesn’t really matter to me what model. As long as they are fighter jets, I get a thrill. I get to unleash a primal scream that doesn't irritate the folks right next to me and doesn't embarrass my wife, because nobody else can hear me ;-)

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 8, 2003


.... What a way to start your day

The SF Giants (7-0) are the last unbeaten team in baseball, beating the Padres 7-4, behind five more home runs. Two from both Aurilia and Cruz, (on the first three ptches he saw at PacBell), along with Alfonzo's first, helped them overcome some shaky work by the bullpen, which cost a strong Jason Schmidt the win. Surprisingly, they lead the majors in homers, even though Superman has yet to get on track. OBM was in attendance, so let's say hello to some new friends....

To Giant Tony ( he reads Men's Health ), an airline pilot with a grip of steel, great call on watching the jets in the parking lot. To Memo and Pete and Nik, great tailgate party. To all of my friends, great time. And to my wife, sorry I drank too many beers honey. I'll be a good boy next time.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 8, 2003


.... Opening Day!

I'm off to Opening Day. I'll tell you about it later. Here's hoping Schmidt is dominating today. Go Giants.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 7, 2003


.... News and notes

The SF Giants have started 6-0 for the second season in a row, after defeating the Milwaukee Brewers 5-0 today. Kirk Rueter won his first game of the season, scattering five hits and four walks over six shutout innings. Jim Brower, picked up from the Montreal Expos in the Livan Hernandez dump, er, excuse me, trade, pitched three scoreless innings for his first save of the season, and just the second of his career. Six wins in a row, all on the road, is nothing to shake a stick at. It would normally take about two months for a good team to be six games over .500 on the road. OBM will be in attendance tomorrow, my second straight Opening Day. Last year, Superman won the game with a home run in the bottom of the tenth. Yeah, that didn't suck.

In the meantime, check out my links on the left, as I have added a lot of new writers this week. The latest additions are Pen-Elayne on the Web, and the Illuminated Donkey, both showcased in my Odds and Ends.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 6, 2003


.... Smart Guy

Mike Lupica writes about David Cone this morning, required reading here at OBM. Go. Now.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 6, 2003


.... Superman and friends

Lee Sinins sent out about four hundred ATM Reports this morning, and in one of them, he mentions Jeff Bagwell's 1800th game. Bagwell has moved into the top ten in OPS above league average. Number one is Rogers Hornsby, number two is Superman. And they're really close, too. Look.

Hornsby 1.012 OPS, NL .734 OPS, Difference .279

Bonds 1.023 OPS, NL .747 OPS, Difference .276

After Bonds posts a couple more 1.100 plus seasons, he'll probably be number one. All time.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 6, 2003


.... Derek and the Dominoes, et al

The venerable Will Carroll replied to my Derek Jeter inquiry:

John, Jeter appears to be avoiding surgery ... we'll know more Monday. My best guess is the four in four to six is way too optimistic - I'll say he could be back by June 15.
If you follow Will, you'll know that he is right a lot more than he is wrong. That's why he is, ahem, the expert. Thanks Will.

If I said it once, I've said it ten times. If you don't have Baseball Prospectus Premium, you're missing Will, and pretty much everything else great.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 5, 2003


.... What?!

I like Rob Neyer. I really do. But in today's column, he makes a real stretch of a comparison between Alex Rodriguez and Honus Wagner. I'll be quick with this, but I see it pretty simply...

When Honus Wagner was dominating baseball in the early part of the twentieth century, he was doing so against a much smaller league, a league that excluded the best black players, and a league that had virtually no international players. Wagner was one of the very first players to work out in the off-season, in fact, he was noted as being as strong as an ox. It's a wonder his way of thinking didn't make a bigger impression of athletes in general, since he was so overwhelmingly dominant, but that doesn't matter to this argument.

If Neyer thinks that Rodriguez is a lesser talent because he was only the 19th best player in the American League, as a 21-year old, well, as I said before, that's a hell of a stretch.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 5, 2003


.... Odds and ends

First off, let me say welcome to all of my first time visitors. For those of you from ZDnet, please thank Daniel for me, and to everyone, please don't forget to pin my Guestmap.

Second, running through my tracker, I noticed a few new links, so I added them on the left. In More Baseball, you will find two new sites, The Baseball Guru, and Dodger Thoughts. And in my Odds and ends, I added Stephanie Kiesler's oddly titled Slat Rat Chronicles.

Go tell 'em John sent you. In the meantime, I am having my second straight huge day, so I hope all you first-timers find something of interest, and that you'll put me in your favorite places ;-) Drop me an email if you have a moment, I am notoriously polite, and return virtually every one I get. Thanks again for stopping by, and thanks again to all my fellow bloggers who have made my first week back from computer hell so succesful. Go Giants.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 4, 2003


.... Hip hip hooray!

In a terrific performance reminiscent of his earlier days as a Met, David Cone won his first game in over a year, as he and the Mets beat the Montreal Expos 4-0. Cone threw five shutout innings, allowing just two hits (to the opposing pitcher Tom Ohka, of all people), and striking out five. In 37 degree, misty and overcast weather, the right-hander threw 84 pitches, 51 of them for strikes. Talk about a feel-good story. The Cone-heads were in full force, and they gave him a standing ovation as he left the field after the fifth.

This was the first game I've watched start to finish this season, and let me just say that the announcers were mid-season idiotic. Jeff Brantley, in particular, seemed to be watching a different game, as he was wrong or just plain stupid every time he opened his mouth. One lowlight that stood out occured in the fourth inning, with the game scoreless and the Mets with two runners on and two outs. Vance Wilson was at the plate, and the count went to 3-1. Brantley predicted that Ohka would avoid the plate and walk him if need be, since the light-hitting Rey Sanchez was on deck. Fastball, right over the plate, strike two. Not the worst thing, anyone might have expected him to approach the hitter a bit more cautiously. But instead of recognizing that Ohka felt he could get Wilson out, Brantley first tried to paint the two-strike pitch as a border-line call, (it wasn't), and then insisted that once again, Ohka would avoid throwing a strike. Ohka threw another fastball, in almost exactly the same location, and Wilson slammed a double into the right-center gap, scoring both runners. Brantley then characterized Wilson's double as "a great piece of hitting," even though both pitches were batting practice, get a strike no matter what fastballs that any major-leaguer should be embarrased if they missed. Jeez.

Anyway, Cone is 1-0, and the Mets are off life-support for the time being.

.... News and notes

Sammy Sosa hit his 500th home run today, at home. Good for him, but the announcers at that game sounded as stupid as Brantley. Whoever it was, (ESPN2 cut to his at bats, so I got to see and hear it), finished the home run call with a ridiculous, "... there's his ticket to Cooperstown." Yeah, that wasn't rehearsed. Alone.

And here's an article about the lack of fans in Colorado. Hmmm.... seems I've heard that somewhere before.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 4, 2003


.... Hot off the presses

According to this ESPN report, Derek Jeter will not need surgery on his dislocated shoulder, although Jeter and the Yankees will seek a second opinion before making a final decision. Here's a couple of quotes for those of you starving for info:

Derek Jeter: "There wasn't anything major wrong, this is probably as good as it gets. I was always optimistic throughout the process, but obviously until you get the results it's unknown. It's good news. Hopefully, the second opinion is the same as the first.''

Joe Torre: "It's still going to be some time. It's still important for him to do everything he needs to do, he could probably can do some kind of conditioning now, but nothing involving the shoulder probably for 10 or 12 days. His career is far more important than his availability to us. ... The most important thing is to have him back as the same player he was before the collision, I'm sure there's going to be a little time where he's going to go through hesitation. The good news is that if it does bother him or whatever, it's not going to injure him. The pain is one thing, the discomfort is one thing, but as of right now all the reports are there's no damage that is threatening to his career.''
That's pretty awesome news, whether you are a Yankee fan or just a baseball fan. No matter what you can say about Jeter, he is one of the most popular players in the game, deservedly so.

As for local news, the SF Giants have begun the season 4-0 for the third straight year, as they defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 7-5, behind the hitting of a player who is currently running out an OBM TC line at a sizzling .429/.529/.643. Yep, you guessed it, it's JT "the Hitman" Snow, who is carrying the team while lesser lights like the over-rated Barry Bonds ride on his coat-tails. Snow was 3-4 today, with 4 RBI, and he is currently leading the team in batting average, on-base percentage, OPS, and RBI.

Too bad today's not April 1st. I'd be getting a lot of emails after this post ;-)

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 4, 2003


.... Candy bar?

David Pinto wonders whether Reggie "Jackson" Sanders, who has started the 2003 season a man-a-fire, with 4 home runs and 11 RBI in 3 games, can keep it up. Sanders' OBM TC numbers are simply Barry-esque, running out at a staggering .667/.667/1.667, good for an astounding 2.333 OPS. Keep in mind, however, that Reggie has a propensity to this kind of hot stretch, when pitchers are grooving fastballs, or when he has an opportunity to play in a good hitters park for any length of time. After last season's abysmal finish, along with the many abysmal stretches during the season, the Giants figured they'd be better off getting a real hitter as opposed to "The Streak."

The Giants picked him up after he hit 33 home runs and drove in 90 in 2001 for the World Champs (his most productive season ever, by the way), but what most people forget is that he had 15 home runs and 38 RBI at the end of May. Speaking of streaky, here's how his 2001 season looked by month:

April 8 HR 19 RBI (64 AB's)

May 7 HR 19 RBI (94 AB's)

June 3 HR 18 RBI (73 AB's)

July 2 HR 5 RBI (52 AB's, 6 hits!)

August 10 HR 17 RBI (87 AB's)

Sept/Oct 3 HR 12 RBI (71 AB's)

But here's his month-by-month over the last three seasons:

April 11 HR 32 RBI

May 10 HR 36 RBI

June 8 HR 43 RBI

July 10 HR 29 RBI

August 14 HR 30 RBI

Sept/Oct 14 HR 42 RBI

During that time, he's hit 33 home runs before the All Star break, and 34 after it. So basically, you can pretty much bet that he's gonna end up with something like 20 to 30 home runs this season, the only question is when they'll be hit. Right now, he looks like he's ready to ride a twenty-game, 9 or 10 or 12 home run streak, followed by a forty-game stretch with about 100 strikeouts.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 4, 2003


.... Bitch ~n~ Moan

A quick check of today's sports on TV calendar shows the following baseball:

Montreal at NY Mets 4pm

Florida at Atlanta 4:30pm

Anaheim at Athletics 7pm

Now, I know there are many good reasons why I won't be able to watch the Giants play a baseball game again until Sunday, or at least, I'm quite sure there must be, but for the life of me, I can't imagine just what the hell they are! Take a look at this....

8,862

9,524

12,110

6,295

18,470

26,096

17,244

26,952

14,585

21,171

19,863

19,505

Know what those numbers are? Those are the attendance figures for yesterday's games. That's right, nine of the twelve games played yeterday did so in front of fewer than 20,000 fans, and three couldn't get 10,000 fans to show up in the first week of the season, when hope is supposed to spring eternal. Here's the same list, by home team....

Detroit

Kansas City

Tampa Bay

Oakland

Baltimore

Cincinnati

NY Mets

St. Louis

Houston

San Diego

Atlanta

Three of those teams are perrenial playoff contenders, and six of them play their home games in ballparks that are essentially brand-new, the oldest being Camden Yards, which had the lowest attendance in its history yesterday, as did Tigers Stadium (I refuse to call a place by a stupid, paid-for name, feel free to join me). Oakland is supposed be in the middle of a mini-dynasty, with the so-called best GM in the game, the reigning Cy Young award winner and the reigning MVP, playing a hated division rival in their first series of the freakin' year!, and they can only get 6,295 fans to show up? You want to talk about how stupid Seligula and his cronies are? There's no more obvious example. IT'S THE FIRST WEEK OF THE SEASON!!!! Ask yourself this, how many baseball commercials do you remember from the last month or two? I know I can think of about ten, for Taco Bell, for Dodge, Cadillac, the NBA, those stupid Catherine Zeta-Jones ads, but baseball? Not one.

Baseball is a rudderless ship, being run by the same kind of short-term, money-grubbing, vision-less leaders who are running corporate America right now. A plan for increasing baseball's share of the sports fans attention? I don't see it, do you? The defending National League Champions, fielding the best player of the last fifty years, coming off of two of the greatest seasons of all-time, being on LOCAL TELEVISION ONE TIME, ONE!!! in the first week of the season. What a joke.

You think 6,000 fans showing up for one of the best young teams in the game is an accident? The weather? Horseshit. It's all part and parcel of a bunch of dunderheads who've let the game and the interests of sports fans pass them by while they sit around trying to figure out ways to make sure Barry Bonds wears his pants the right way. As for the Giants, to Brian Sabean and the Peter Magowan, shame on you. You guys have dropped the ball, and it's the fans who carry your team, who fill your new, $20 million dollar a year ballpark who are getting the short end of the stick.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 4, 2003


.... News and notes

The NY Daily News is reporting that Jeter's injury may not need surgery, according to two Yankee sources. I am currently waiting to see if Will Carroll can give me any more details, but as a Yankee, and Derek Jeter fan, I am cautiously optimistic. Smart guy Mike Lupica has something to say about the terrible start for the All Star:

.... He tried to make a play against the Blue Jays, because that is what has made him a star for the Yankees from the beginning, he makes plays. But for once somebody else, a 32-year-old catcher named Ken Huckaby who has never been a star anywhere in professional baseball, was a step ahead of him. That is a most painful irony for Jeter, though not nearly as painful as what happened to his left shoulder at third base at SkyDome on Monday night: He got hurt because somebody else made a better Jeter play than Jeter himself.

.... You never know with these injuries and maybe even the doctors won't know for sure how long Jeter will be out after they look at the results of the MRI exam he had yesterday in Tampa. It is why all the speculation over the last few days has been sillier than the idea that Ken Huckaby made a dirty play. Huckaby made a good play. A hustling play. A smart play. A Jeter play, covered in dirt and intangibles. The problem was that it happened to Jeter this time. And things like this aren't supposed to happen to him.
Good stuff from The Lip. I hadn't commented on whether it was a dirty play or not, but I watched it on ESPNews about a hundred times the other night, and Lupica's got it right. It was a hustle play gone bad, and no way should it be considered dirty. Shit happens, even to Mr. Yankee.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 4, 2003


.... New and improved

Congratulations are in order for the soon to be immortal Alex Belth, whose Bronx Banter just recorded it's 5,000th hit. Alex offers something not many of out here in the blogosphere do, he gets interviews with people in baseball that are informal, and frankly, very well done.

I have been remiss in not adding Matt Barnard's The Dump's Sportslog to my More Baseball roster long ago, but with all my computer and Blogger problems over the last month and a half, I hope an apology and a plug will make it up to him.

Maybe you need a Dusty Baker fix? Go read The Clark and Addison Chronicles, another Chicago Cubs blog. Looks like a newspaper. Fun stuff.

And finally, I also added Doug Pappas to my roster of Smart Guys, since he is, and his site, covering the business of baseball, is required reading.

Go. Now.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 4, 2003


.... Something to write home about!

Over at ZDNet, an online technology magazine, Managing Editor Daniel Miller posted a glowing endorsement for OBM today in a column entitled My Favorite Baseball Websites. Here's what he had to say ;-)

.... BUT MY FAVORITE baseball sites are the most personal, the online equivalents of the guy at the corner bar who knows a lot about the game and isn't shy about letting everyone know it. Baseball blogs--whose authors opine about the latest happenings and link promiscuously to other baseball sites--are proliferating like home runs at Coors Field.

As a Giants fan, my favorite is baseball blog is Only Baseball Matters, whose author (John Perricone) puts up several entries a day, linking to and commenting on coverage of the Giants particularly, but also baseball generally.

From there, you can connect to other blogs, such as Baseball Musings, where ex-ESPN staffer David Pinto holds forth knowledgably about the game in general.

Yes, most bloggers are in the sabermetric camp, but I won't hold that against them. It makes for a more interesting discussion than, "Gee, that was a good game last night."


Oh, and today, Blogger Pro issues and all, was one of the biggest days I've ever had, thanks to Mr. Williams and, quite frankly, the aforementioned Mr. Pinto (who is responsible for close to 20% of all my traffic), and of course, all of you who are willing to put up with this Blogger crap to read what I think. Makes me proud (sniff).

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 3, 2003


.... Get back to work

OBM favorite, David Cone gets his first start in over a year tomorrow, as he takes the mound for the Mets against the Montreal Expos. Cone, who pitched a perfect game against Montreal in 1998, made the team after a strong spring. What can you say about David Cone?

I was in Oakland for his first game back after the surgery he had for the aneurysm in his pitching arm, when he threw a seven-inning no-hitter against the Athletics. I'll never forget watching him walk back to the dugout to a flat-out standing ovation on the road, absolutely drenched in sweat, utterly exhausted, and smiling from ear to ear. Like Paul O'Neill and Don Mattingly, he is simply one of those guys that makes me dream that I could've been a ballplayer, driven by the same force of will to win.

Here's hoping he throws six strong innings, and the stone hands behind him don't drop too many pop-ups.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 3, 2003


.... You can't handle the truth!

Thanks to everyone who sent me an email regards OBM. I am as tired of these "Houston, we have a problem." days as anyone, and I appreciate all of you who took the time out of your day to help me out. The truth is it's time for me to step up to a more complete and professional website design, interface and host. I had hoped to get by while I handled a whole slew of personal stuff, (new job, new house, new state, whew!), but it's apparent that I won't be able to put it off for much longer.

In the meantime, all of my loyal readers can expect some real good work in the next couple of days, and as the season progresses, you can count on me to deliver in the clutch.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 3, 2003


.... More problems?

If anyone out there can read this, and if you can see and navigate this blog without problems, please send me an email asap.

John

Postscript....

Thanks to everyone who sent an email. Blogger has repaired it once again.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 3, 2003


.... Peter Peter, pumpkin eater

Mr. Gammons has a column on the special connection that developed between David Ekstein and Barry Bonds during the major leaguers Japanese tour. How amazing is it that Barry is still looking for an edge after 18 seasons as a star?

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 3, 2003


.... FNG

New reader and writer Mike Mammoser has started a St. Louis Cardinals blog called Go Crazy, Folks, so pay him a visist, and tell him how much you hate the redbirds ;-)

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 3, 2003


.... News and notes

The Giants swept the Padres, behind Damian Moss' first win as a member of San Francisco. The final score was 5-3, as the Giants relievers combined for 9 1/3 scoreless innings against San Diego. Barry Bonds, unlike last seasons torrid start, is 1 for 10, with four strikeouts. That's probably the best news we've gotten so far this season, given how much the team is expected to rely on the slugger.

And in local news, the Betting Fool agrees that no Giants on TV is a farce.

"If you see a Fox Sports executive on the street today, box his ears for me, ok? The fact that the next two Giants games are not on TV is an outright abomination. The Giants have many new faces and are coming off a stunning, important season. No matter what, a Bay Area TV outlet must figure out a way to televise the first series. It's a disgrace. After you box the dude's ears, smash his toes with a bowling ball. Good, thanks."

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 3, 2003


.... Localized bleeding

Skip Bayless writes about the Giants new manager Felipe Alou's first day at the office, in yesterday's San Jose Mercury. Bayless is a witty and sharp writer, but he sometimes waffles like, well, a waffle. He now says that last season's Giants were playing through their inability to understand Dusty Baker's wacky moves. Where he got that, I'd like to know, but, whatever.

He also had some pretty negative things to say about the Giants pitching staff and Dusty in his March 28th column, and he's entitled to his opinion, but here's the deal. The Giants are the defending National League Champions. They have as deep and effective a bullpen as any team in baseball, regardless of Game Six. He's wondering if Sabean should have kept the Big Fat Baby? Please. Put down the crack pipe, Bayless.

And as for Opening Day, yeah, Alou did make some nice moves, but jeez, even I'm not gonna sit here and start going over every move that works or doesn't on Opening Day; and I am the ultimate second-guesser. They won. They have more talent than the Padres, especially at the plate, and they're a veteran team tha went as deep into the playoffs last season as possible. It's a surprise they weren't fazed by a game Padres team playing in front of the largest crowd in Qualcomm history? They are the defending National League Champions. Get used to it.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 2, 2003


.... Guest Map Extraordinaire

I was just pinned by the famous Will Carroll, who writes the excellent Under the Knife columns for Baseball Prospectus Premium. Will has also been kind enough to have me on his Fox Sports Baseball Prospectus Radio show, he is a class act, and an amazingly thorough and well-informed source. If you don't have Premium yet, you are missing out.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 2, 2003


.... New and improved

Found a new site just now, called Batters Box. They cover the Toronto Blue Jays, and its handled by two guys, Kent Williams and Jordan Furlong. Good stuff, they've got over 40,000 hits, and it's a good looking site. They're leading off my More Baseball, so read and learn.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 2, 2003


.... Odds and ends

Lee Sinins notes that Alex Rodriguez became the youngest player to hit his 300th home run today. Interesting stuff, remember when Griffey was the ultimate stud in Seattle, and along came Alex? Which of the two do you think is more likely to chase Bonds down in ten years?

And back to my griping.... The Giants are not on TV again, making it two of their first three. Do any of the dummies handling the local baseball coverage realize that the season has started? One more example of the ridiculously poor marketing done by virtually all teams. Sort of like an owner chastising one of the best players in team history for having a life, or another one telling his teams' fans that he won't make an effort to re-sign the team's recent MVP.

.... emails and details

Reader Doug Purdie sent me an email wondering whether game records track from season to season. I think they do, but I'm not 100% sure. I sent an email to David Pinto, as he is pretty on top of that stuff.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 2, 2003


.... Friends and family

Many thanks to all of my fellow bloggers who were so kind to extend me the courtesy of letting all of their readers know I was alive and well. Thank you, all.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 2, 2003


.... Big bang

The SF Giants beat the Padres 8-1, for their second win of the season. Superman went deep (big deep, like 463 feet deep), and so far, the Giants are proving themselves quite capable of putting the ball in the seats without the service of Tiny Elvis, as they have already hit seven home runs in their first two games. Bonds' home run was his first hit of the season, after starting with three walks and three strikeouts. Edgardo Alfonzo had his first hit after a Bonds walk, driving in Bonds and Aurilia with a double, Jose Cruz continued his red-hot start; and Ray Durham and Benito Santiago both hit their second home runs in as many games.

Lost in the offensive explosion was the stellar work of Jason-I-think-I-can-Schmidt, who, according to Alou, ".... had no-hit, no-run stuff. No question about it." Schmidt finished with 7 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings, routinely hitting 95 on the Qualcomm radar gun. If Schmidt finally can step up and put the team on his back, (and with his stuff, this is a matter of when, not if), the Giants will have the ace they have been lacking for so long. Santiago feels strongly about Schmidt's chances:



"Schmitty was unbelievable," said Santiago, who rejected the pitcher's contention that he did not have his best stuff. "Tell him to save it. Don't let him fool you like that. He came in with the same performance he had in the playoffs against St. Louis (when he four-hit the Cardinals for 7 2/3 innings). He had great stuff. Everything I called for, he was 99 percent there. He was a tough cookie out there."
Sadly for Giants fans, the game wasn't on television anywhere, so all we got to do was listen. That's a pretty big disappointment, for the defending National League Champions, with the reigning, two-time MVP, to not be on television for at least the first week or so, especially when they are starting the season with six straight road games.

And I might as well chime in on Rob Neyer's prediction that the Giants won't make the playoffs. Basically, Neyer says that because Felipe Alou has been quoted as saying that he expects to give 300 at bats to Neifi-1-of-the-3-blind-mice-Perez, the Giants won't win the 90+ games needed to make the post-season. First of all, he's correct in going after Alou for being blind to, well, Perez; who is very very very close to being the worst hitter in all of baseball. But is he really going to get 300 at-bats? I don't see it , barring injury. Edgardo Alfonzo (even with his back has averaged 141 games over the last four seasons), Ray Durham (151 games per over the last four), and Rich Aurilia (even with his injuries last season, he's averaging 145 per over the last four), have all been pretty durable; the team already has a backup first baseman, and Perez ain't no outfielder. So really, he'll be lucky to get 200 at bats, and no backup/utility infielder is that important that 200 at bats is gonna make or break a teams' season.

You want to know what is gonna make or break the team this year? Watch the next three games, as we get into the bottom of the rotation. Can Moss, Jensen and Ainsworth give the team a chance, say, 50% of the time? I think they will. I mean, come on, they'll play half their games in the best pitcher's park since the old Astrodome. The Giants will be fine this season, although I wouldn't expect them to keep pounding the ball out of the park like tis when they get home. But, I'd say that just like the last couple of seasons, they will be one of the best offenses in baseball, their offensive stats will look a lot better on the road than at home, their pitching stats will show the exact opposite effect, and they will contend all the way to the final week. So there. I guess I do have a prediction column of my own after all.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 2, 2003


.... FNG

Found Bobby's Sports and News Bloggy by looking at my tracker referrals, and then noticing that he is my 100th Guestmap pin. Apparently, Bobby thinks OBM is only good enough for Triple AAA, but, what the hell, not everyone likes martinis either. He'll be in my More Baseball in a day or so.

On the Guestmap note.... Come on all you newbies. Post a pin. It's great fun, and I like it, a lot.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 1, 2003


.... Fool's Gold

One of my more attentive readers kindly sent me an email informing me that the BP story on Miguel Tejada has all the earmarks of an April Fool's Day joke. I stand fooled, if that's the case; and the more I look, the less I find, if you know what I mean. To my new friend Steve, thanks for cluing me in, so I only look like an idiot for about a half hour.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 1, 2003


.... Smart. And final

Smart Guy Dan Lewis has continued his Bonds Tracker, in which he maintains an active count of how many consecutive regular season games in which Superman has received at least one walk. Dan just sent me an email letting me know that Barry is now just two games away from the ML record. Dan, as you may recall, is the progenitor of the now infamous Chunky Soup Curse. Hence, his place among the Smart Guys at OBM. In addition to being funny and smart, he is also nasty, insightful, well-read, and a rabid sports fan. All in all, one of my favorite writers, as well as a good friend. Go. Now.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 1, 2003


.... Odds and ends

I'll be sure to review this Peter Gammons preview in September. I didn't do a preview simply because so many do. Essentially, throw a dart at a target, there is almost no way of knowing what's really going to happen over the course of a baseball season. Although, I will say that I don't see the Cubs or the Mets as favorably as so many members of the press do.

I stand corrected. Tom Verducci says that the Mets are putting an astonishingly poor defensive team on the field behind its' aging and then some pitching staff. I'd bet that Tom Glavine and company will watch fly outs turn into triples all season long, and if the Mets win more than 75 games, I'll be amazed.

I just noticed something cool. Mike Carminati and I used the same tag lines for our posts on Derek Jeter. Check out his here, and mine here. Awesome.

.... One more thing

Baseball Prospectus Premium has broken the news that the Oakland A's have signed reigning AL MVP Miguel Tejada to a five-year, $58 million dollar contract extension that will keep him in Oakland through 2008. I can't find mention of this anywhere else, but if it's accurate, it's a tremendous accomplishment for A's GM Billy Beane, and a hell of a scoop for BP.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 1, 2003


.... Kent shines

Jeff Kent hit a home run in his first at bat as an Astro, helping lead his team to a 10-4 win over Colorado. I find that to be one of those things that happen in baseball that make it such a great game. Both Ray Durham and the man he replaced at second base for the Giants homered in their first at bats of the season. Hmmm.... Baseball.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 1, 2003


.... Hallelujah, Part II

Joel over at Blogger has apparently re-published OBM, with all neccessary corrections to my template, although I am still missing all of my edit buttons, he at least has set me up to edit my template without having to cut and paste the whole frigging thing each time, something I appreciate, believe me. Thanks to Joel, even though it took close to two weeks to get things straightened out, he had the decency to stay on it even though I turned into a raging bitch about the whole thing.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 1, 2003


.... Derek and the Dominoes

It bears mentioning in further detail that Baseball Prospectus' Will Carrol, who runs the Under the Knife feature in their Premium service; is extremely pessimistic about Derek Jeter's shoulder injury. Will seems to think that the Yanks will almost certainly lose the services of their superstar for the season, a tremendous blow to the best team money can buy.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 1, 2003


.... Friends and family

As I am alive again, and my site is actually working, let me take a moment to mention some of the people who have been kicking ass and taking names while I was in limbo, essentially everyone in my Everyday Links.

David Pinto's Baseball Musings. David, who is the Blogfather of OBM and countless others, has redesigned his site, and it rocks. Travis Nelson, the Boy of Summer, is already hard at work making me laugh, and the seasons but a day old. Don't forget to visit the Twins Geek, John Bonnes. Great first name. Mike Carminati is proving to be a funny guy as well, and he is also a prolific writer and historian. I've said it before, Aaron Gleeman is only nineteen years old! That's half my age! OBM readers in the Bay Area who root for the A's and not the Giants can follow the terrific Elephants in Oakland, hosted by the anonymous David Levens. Boston Red Sox fans can go to hell, but on the way there, stop by Edwards Cossette's very well done site, Bambino's Curse. Dusty Baker sucks, but if you disagree, go to the Cub Reporter, because so does he. The Diamond Angle is a terrific online baseball magazine, and you can even get their stuff on paper (whatever that is). And finally, check out the Indians Report if you want to see how Cleveland survives the departure of Jim Thome.

There you go. Most of you already know to visit these guys, but I thought I'd drop a couple of plugs for my friends at the top, they have kept me sane throught these last three weeks or so, and I know they've helped many of my loyal readers as well.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 1, 2003


.... I'm Back!!!!!

Many of you may or may not have noticed, but I fixed my template problem, ALL BY MYSELF!!!!

No thanks to Blogger, who were of absolutely no help whatsoever. Actually, the problem still exists, but I finally figured out a way around it. Not a moment too soon, either, it being the start of the season and all.

Thanks to my good friend, Alex Belth, whose timely assistance proved invaluable. Go read his terrific work. He is beginning to carve out a niche for himself as the source for interviews of noteworthy baseball people.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 1, 2003


.... Opening Day notes

Lee Sinins' ATM Reports says that Giants 2B Ray Durham became the first Giants hitter to lead off the season with a home run since Gary Thomasson, in 1977. He also mentions that Durham became just the 25th player in major league histroy to open a season with a home run. Durham had a hell of a debut, as did almost all of the new Giants, with the exception of Edgardo Alfonzo, who, along with Superman, had a rough day at the plate. But Jose Cruz Jr. went two for two with two walks, Durham finished with two hits and a walk, and Grissom had a hit and a couple of really good catches in the deepest part of Qualcomm stadium. The other new Giant, manager Felipe Alou, also had an auspicious debut, as noted by Henry Schulman, who says says that Alou got a bigger kick out of the win than he led us to believe he would during Spring Training.



"I brought the lineup card back and I'm going to save it," he said. "This is the first time my name has been on a Giants lineup card since 1963. That was 40 years ago and I was a player. Maybe that makes it special."


Damn right, it's special. The main reason OBM speculated that Alou was the front-runner for the manager's position after Dusty's departure, was the historical connection he had with the team. The Giants have as fine a sense of their history as any team in the NL, perhaps only the Yankees do a better job of keeping connected with their former fan favorites. Alou has to feel that managing for the team he once played for, alongside two of his brothers, at the same time is special, and so do Brian Sabean and the rest of the Giants braintrust. So do I, and so does almost every Giants fan I've spoken to.

Meanwhile, Robb Nen will start the season on the 15-day disabled list, courtesy of his still sore right shoulder. Head Trainer Stan Conte indicated that he thought they may have rushed Nen a bit after his off-season surgery, so it's unfortunate that only now they have decided to take extra precautions, when it seems likely that they didn't when they could and should have. The team should be fine anyway, thankfully they have a number of pitchers who should be able to handle the closers chores in the short-term. This would appear to be one of the first times in recent history the team has mishandled an injury, as noted by Baseball Prospectus' Will Carrol, Conte and his staff are among the most-repected in all of baseball.

OBM's other favorite team, the NY Yankees, also won yesterday, but find themselves quite a bit less excited than do the Giants, due to the very scary injury suffered by superstar shortstop and team leader, Derek Jeter. Jeter suffered a dislocated shoulder, an injury Will Carrol sees as "frighteningly similar" to the one that shelved the San Diego Padres' Phil Nevin for the duration of 2003. I'm sure Steinbrenner is glad he suggested that Jeter demonstrate his worth on every play, as Jeter was injured trying for that one extra base that would make him worthy of all $18.9 million dollars this season. Read Filip Bondy, Tyler Kepner, and Rob Neyer for more details, and if you're really interested, see if Jeter's postgame interview works for you.

Comment on this   [0]  »  April 1, 2003


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