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.... Sunday morning fun ~n~ games

Well, the Giants produced one of their most amazing wins of the season so far yesterday, coming from 6 runs down to stun the Oakland A's (and the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito), 8-7 in 10 innings. The win pushed their lead back to 2.5 games over the Dodgers, but don't look now; here come the D'backs, winners of ten straight games for the first time in team history. With their streak, they have surged to just five games back, the closest they've been since the season began.

Suddenly, the NL West looks like it was supposed to, with the Dodgers, Giants and D'backs continuing last season's thrilling battle. Just in time for the Giants, Superman has gotten hot (although not quite nuclear), surging to 22 home runs (good for fourth in the league), with 9 HR's and 20 RBI in just 76 June at bats. His home run yesterday ignited the Giants, as they were down 6-0 at the time, and with so little power coming from so many spots in the lineup, (first base, third base, shortstop, to mention a few), they're gonna need every single home run he's got.

Actually, if you want to read a bit more about the offensive problems a team that features Neifi Perez with the ninth most at bats will face, check out King Kaufman's newest toy, the Neifi Index. King is featured at Salon.com, and you can still read his stuff for free if you go through a couple of pages of hoo haw, (something I was unaware of until he told me). Anyway, the Neifi Index is simple; the negative difference between a teams' winning percentage with and without a player. The Giants win about 80% of their games when Neifi doesn't get a plate appearance, and just over 50% when he does, so he has a .300 or so Neifi Index. He's not leading the league just yet, but I'm sure their will be an at bats cut off by the end of the season, and he almost certainly will be number one by then.

Oh, and one more thing.... Many of you have written in asking me to add you to my blogrolls. I am experiencing a lot of problems with Blogger right now, and one of them involves my page de-fragging if I open the template. So, blog adds will have to wait a bit more. Sorry about that, I promise to do one big plug mention with all the changes when I get this BS straightened out. In the meantime, keep sending them in, I add them into a simple folder, and will make sure to take care of business.

Thanks for stopping by at all during this slow time. I am going crazy, so whatever I write when I get this fixed will likely be nuts ;-)

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 29, 2003


.... Dem Bums

The Dodgers struck first, beating the G-men 4-1 behind the strong pitching of the resurgent Kevin Brown. The Dodgers have won at least seven in a row for the second time in a month, more than enough puch to put them right on the win a couple lose a couple Giants.

Obviously the Dodgers are getting a lot of clutch hits, since their runs scored numbers are still among the lowest in the NL, while the Giants are essentially the exact opposite, tons of men on base, very very few clutch hits. Last night was a perfect example. The Giants had 8 hits to the Dodgers 9, but the only man to get a run scoring hit was Neifi Perez. (That sentence says it all, doesn't it?)

In case it doesn't, the Giants numbers with runners in scoring position should, they are among the worst in baseball, and they are simply atrocious; .244/.395/.357, with a .753 OPS that would be a good deal lower if you subtracted Bonds' unbelievable .569 OBP in that situation, (mostly due to him being walked). Overall, the Giants have scored a lot of "easy" runs, that is, runs via the home run or runs in bunches. But it sure seems the league has figured out how to avoid Bonds, and more importantly, that Alou hasn't figured out how to build his lineup to maximize the pressure on the opposing pitchers.

Oh, if you are interested in an opposing view on this hot and heavy series between these hated rivals, head over to Priorities and Frivolities, a recent newcomer to OBM who has many things Dodger to ruminate about. In the meantime, Woody goes tonight in an effort to make everything right in the world again. Baseball.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 18, 2003


.... Flailing, continuous

Bob Klapisch agrees with me that, for the first time in a decade, Steinbrenner suddenly seems nutty again. Well, nutty's not exactly accurate..... Let me put it another way; Steinbrenner will sabotage his manager, his team, his star player.... anyone, anytime, and this season will flush down the drain as one of the most expensive "I'll take my toys home with me if you don't let me play the way I want," seasons in the history of sports. He broke Mattingly'sballs about how long his hair was, he investigated Winfield, he shit on Reggie more times than I care to count, he totally humiliated Yogi Berra, Billy Martin, Gossage, Nettles....

Make no mistake, the only thing George cares about is being right. It's all he's ever cared about, it's all he ever will care about. The rest, the winning and the Yankee tradition and all that crap is just window dressing on him being right, having the best stuff, the most expensive car, the biggest ring, whatever. That's George, for better or worse.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 11, 2003


.... No no

The Yankees were no-hit tonight by the Astros, who used a record six pitchers. It's the first no-hitter against the Yankees since 1958, a span of 45 years, the longest in the history of baseball. So now both of the teams I root for have been no hit this season, the only no-hitters thrown in 2003 have been against the Yanks and the Giants (Kevin Millwood earlier this season).

My question is this: Has there ever been a season in which both teams that met in the World Series had been no-hit?

Meanwhile, the Giants continue a mini-surge, winning 11-4 against the White Sox, as Superman punched out his 17th home run, and Jesse Foppert had his first 10 strike out game. Bonds is now looking at a .375/.524/.875 line over his last seven days, good for a stellar 1.399 OPS. That's just the kind of production we've gotten used to these last several years. If Bonds can put his personal difficulties behind him, (no small feat, obviously) the Giants are poised to run away with the NL West.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 11, 2003


.... Flailing

Is it just me, or are the Yankees (or more accurately, Steinbrenner), just losing it? They released Acevedo after he blows Clemens one-run lead last week, now they just picked up Ruben Sierra again? Ruben Sierra? Isn't he like 400 years old? Now they want Urbina again? What the hell is going on in the Bronx?

Their relief pitching is a shambles, I can't imagine they have much in the way of a farm system with all the trades they've made in the last several years. As David Pinto and I have mentioned several times, their infield defense is pretty hard on the eyes....

You think this team is set up for a run at a title looking like this? If they don't score ten runs a game, they look like the Mets.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 11, 2003


.... Bitch ~n~ moan

In this NY Times article, the New Jersey Nets are complaining about the unbalanced foul calls in the NBA Finals. For all the complaining about Qwestec, the umpires, the strike zone, etc. in baseball, you almost never hear the kind of talk associated with basketball officiating. Basketball has an enormous problem with their officiating, whether it's one of perception or reality depends on who you are speaking with. Most of my friends have come to assume that the officiating has a tremendous amount of influence on the game, and with teams shooting 40 free throws one night, and 17 the next, (against the same team, no less), it can sometimes be hard to be a fan.

Baseball has a much better handle on their situation, again, whether you think it's because Sandy Alderson and his streamlined umpire approach, or simply due to the nature of the game is immaterial. But I could hardly watch 162 games with the kind of BS these guys deal with.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 11, 2003


.... Punch drunk

So far inter-league play has been less than fun for the Giants, who lost to the Chicago White Sox 5-3 yesterday, a game that apparently wasn't on television anywhere in Northern California, (at least no one I knew could find it). According to Felipe Alou, several of the players on the team have a pretyy bad flu bug, so he isn't too worried about the loss.

He is worried, however, about Damian Moss' dead arm, after the lefty was clocked throwing 82 mph fastballs in his last start. The team is going through pitchers like water right now, and if Moss misses any time, the rotation will consist of Rueter, Schmidt and the three rookies, Ainsworth, Williams and Foppert, none of whom has blown anybody away.

Is a trade in the works for Sabean and Colletti? I wouldn't bet against it.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 11, 2003


.... Numerology

I was just looking through the hitting statistics of all the National League teams, and I was wondering if anyone but me has noticed what a bunch of weak singles hitters the Giants seem to have become? The Giants are 12th in the NL in doubles. They are 6th in home runs, but they are as close to last place as they are to first, so that's not saying much. They are 8th in stolen bases, the area that they had supposedly improved enough to make up for the drop in power. They're second in triples, so that's helping them post a ranking of 6th in slugging.

But they've hit into the second most double plays in the league, (56), one of the prime reasons they lead the league in men left on base, and they are one of the absolute worst teams in the NL with runners in scoring position, posting an anemic .247/.397/.361 line, which translates into a .756 OPS, good for 11th in the NL.

I'd think that this kind of performance has to worry Sabean and Colletti, regardless of the team's early season success. I tell you what, it worries me. Looking ahead to the playoffs with an offense that appears to be so completely dependent on Bonds and stringing singles together cannot be part of anyone's championship strategy.

It's confusing, because looking at their starting lineup, they look better than that type of production. Snow and Gallaraga add up to a real first baseman. Santiago and Torrealba add up to one of the best catchers in the league. Durham has been terrific when healthy. Grissom has been much more than anticipated. Cruz, slumping for most of the last month, still appears to be as good as advertised. Bonds is Bonds, even though he has only just started to really produce like we all expect.

The real culprits have been Aurilia and Alfonzo. Not so much because of their struggles per se, (all teams have some players who are up and some down) but because for most of the season, they have been at the top of the order, killing rallies and, in Aurilia's case, forcing Bonds to bat with no one on base (either because he's leading off, or after another DP). Aurilia is fourth in the league with 10 GIDP's, and Alfonzo, with just 13 extra base hits, is almost his equal when it comes to offensive ineptitude. (Interestingly, David Bell also has just 13 extra base hits, in almost exactly as many plate appearances)

Both of these players are batting at the top of the order on reputation, and it's high time that Alou (the King of lineup changes) dropped them down until they start producing at a level worthy of the responsibility. As my guest writer Iain stated so eloquently, the team has players more suited to the top of the lineup. It's high time for Alou to make the move. Personally, I wouldn't put JT (the Outman) Snow anywhere above eighth on a my softball team (maybe have Aurilia fifth instead), but the rest of Iain's lineup looks pretty damn good.

There's no better time to make these kinds of adjustments than when you are in the lead. Fine tune the machine, and get yourself ready for the push.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 9, 2003


.... Something to think about

My good friend Alex Belth has recently been spending his time doing some yeoman work on his keyboard. But his latest take on the Yankees and General von Steingrabber, although excellent, and well worth your time, is actually written by OBM's other good friend, Christian Ruzich, the Cub Reporter.

My opinion mirrors Christian's in many ways, mostly in that for all the wringing of hands about how Steinbrenner and the Yankees are all that's bad with baseball, no one seems to remember the Orioles, or the Dodgers, or the Braves or the Cubs or the Rangers; teams with owners who have just as much or more money than Steinbrenner, who spend it just as willingly (or not, depending on the season). The only difference is that Steinbrenner wins. The rest of them gripe and moan and bitch about how unfair it is, as opposed to, oh I don't know; getting a clue and fixing what's wrong with their damn team!

Thankfully, their are fans like Christain out there reminding everyone to stop being a boob.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 9, 2003


.... Sweep out the trash

The Giants completed their 12 game homestand with a 9-3 mark, after today's come-from-behind 7-6 must-win over the hapless Tigers. They continue to hold off the Dodgers, (who will not contend for much longer, by the way), with a five game lead, and Superman is starting to get hot. Look for some offense as they leave the friendly confines of PacBell Park, the land where hits go to die.

For those of you who care, OBM is now being run on a high-speed internet connection via satellite, due to the hard work and brilliant efforts of our Macintosh technical savior, Roland (The Noble) Kuhn, (no relation to Bowie, I've been told). For those of you in the Northern California (real northern, if you know what I mean) with satellite internet difficulties, send me an email and I'll get you in touch with him. (He said I could post his number, but I'm not so sure that's the best approach, drop me a line and I'll make sure you get in touch with him.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 8, 2003


.... Guest or best?

My good friend Iain has a terrific little look at the first third of the season for the Giants:

Well, we are almost forty percent of the way through the 2003 season and the Giants appear headed towards a division title. It's almost funny, in a way. The division looked to be one of the strongest headed into the season. That now seems pretty ridiculous.



Let's run down the five teams in the NL West.

San Diego - They are currently 19 games out and have the second worst record in baseball. It was the worst until they took two of three from the Tigers who claim the worst. The Pads have no shot at winning the division, the Wild Card, or even .500. This was supposed to be the year that they turned it around, too. Injuries!

Arizona - They appear to be snake bit this year (Get it? Snakebit. It's a joke). It is still a little bit early to count them out due to their big two, but it really does not look like their year. Injuries again!

Colorado - They are great at home, lousy on the road and play in Colorado. They are non contenders by default. They do have an improved team this year but do not look like champs of any sort.

Los Angeles - The pitching is amazing and has kept them in the race so far, sort of. I'll get to that in a minute. They also do not have the aura of champs. Their offense is pathetic. They will likely make a trade soon to pump it up a bit, and maybe then they will seem like winners. I just do not see it happening. If their pitching falters even a little bit, they are going to suck big time.

So that leaves us with the Giants. They started the year off magnificently and have been struggling for the past few weeks. It's been a really odd struggle, too. They have lost a lot of games where the bullpen imploded. For a couple weeks, the seventh inning was just awful. I think there were five leads blown in the seventh inning in a ten game stretch. The loss of Nen has hurt quite a bit, obviously.

The reason I say the Dodgers are still in the race 'sort of' is simply this: The Giants have not played very well yet this season. Bonds has not been hot at any time, yet he still has put up very strong numbers. It is likely that his fathers situation is weighing heavily upon him and affecting his on-field performance. His batting fourth does not help either. How many times have we seen Aurilia fail in key two out situations? The way Grissom and Durham are setting the table right now, we NEED Bonds batting third.



Alfonzo has been a huge bust so far. Aurilia had a decent streak but has lost it again. Snow continues to do his typical work (which is to say, making outs). He has many detractors (including John, as you all know) because his hitting isn't super, and it would be nice if it were to improve but his fielding is so strong; it really balances things out. The Giants defense is right at the top of the league in LARGE part due to Snow. Santiago seems to be an ageless wonder and I expect him to continue his strong play. Cruz is a dilemma. He started off so well and then just went boom. I have no idea how to explain it.

I do feel the lineup needs a shift. I think this would make a lot more sense.

1 - Grissom - keep him where he excels

2 - Durham - works just fine for him

3 - Bonds - Duh! You ALWAYS put your best hitter in the three spot. ALWAYS!

4 - Santiago - He seems to do extremely well batting after Bonds, why change it?

5 - Snow - He does not strike out a ton, he puts the ball in play. This is important when there are men on base.

6 - Cruz - Try him here. Eighth doesn't make sense, even if he is slumping.

7 - Alfonzo - He's got to come around, doesn't he?

8 - Aurilia - When you come up and in on him he seems to wake up. Bruise his ego, maybe that will wake him up, too. And if it does, move him to the 5 spot.

Those first four should not be messed with unless Grissom goes into a huge tail spin. If Grissom drops off, then move Cruz or Aurilia back to 2. The Giants don't really have any seventh and eighth hitters if you think about it. It's a nice situation to be in where you have a lot of hitters deserving of spots higher up in the lineup, even if they aren't producing.

Well, I am not Alou, (obviously) so I do not have a lot of power to fix the lineup, but I can hope.

You can make the argument that the Giants have played over their heads using the pythagorean theorem for predicting a teams success. I think in this case it is inaccurate. There are games they could have lost that they won and there are games they could have won but they lost. I really think there are more of the latter, tho. They could easily have an extra three to five wins right now. I expect them to continue playing as they have been so far and at some point put it all together and ride that thru to the end of the season.



There is that constantly repeated comment that the Giants have only played five meaningless games in the last six seasons, or something like that. I expect that number to more than double this year. Yes, I do expect their lead on the rest of the division to grow quite a bit. I do not expect to be surprised at all by a ten game lead over the Dodgers come September.
That's some pretty good stuff. Thanks Iain.

By the way, if you are interested in the Giants 2003 draft, check out The Southpaw for all the dirt.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 6, 2003


.... Defensive gem?

David Pinto touches on how the Yankees defense is costing their starters (and the team, of course) wins in this and this post. I had mentioned this in a couple of posts prior to and early on this season.

Simply, the Yankees are fielding a defense that features a DH at first base (Giambi), a shortstop at second (Soriano), a third baseman at short (Jeter), and a left fielder in center (Bernie Williams). That's far too many question marks in the middle of the diamond, and David is right, whenever you watch the Yanks, you hear and see so many balls falling fair in the center of the field.

I said that I didn't believe they had what it took to win with this defense (these same players were the ones who couldn't get out of innings against the Angels in last year's playoffs), and I feel more strongly about it now than I did then. Torre was unwilling to continue with players and a lineup that didn't take care of business in 1996, especially with the hitters in the postseason; making many significant moves (Fielder for Martinez, Hayes for Boggs) that resulted in the teams' first of four titles. Will he have the same urgency in dealing with this slightly less obvious problem?

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 4, 2003


.... Beam me up, Scotty

So, now Jeter is working hard enough to be named captain of the Yankees? Wow, Steinbrenner is really looking, well, 1980's right now. What's next? Fire Torre and re-hire Billy Martin?

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 4, 2003


.... Losing touch

The Giants lost their second in a row, dropping a 6-4 decision to the Minnesota Twins in their first inter-league game. Damian Moss was pounded for 12 hits, including 5 doubles and a game breaking two-run homer into the rightfield grandstand by Doug Mientkiewicz in the sixth. The game was filled with frustrating almost's and could-have-been opportunities. Rich Aurilia, whose name now appears in Wesbster's under "Hard-Luck," hit into a crushing, inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the seventh, one of four double plays the Giants featured last night.

Alou continues to tinker with the lineup, as the Giants continue to lead the league in runners left on base. Actually, Alou made what I thought was a pretty big tactical error when he allowed Moss to pitch to Mientkiewicz in the sixth. At that point he was into the mid-90's in pitches thrown, he had already demonstrated that he couldn't throw the ball past the Twins, (just a single strikeout), and Alou had started the inning with two relievers warming up. After a two-out walk, there was little doubt that Alou was going to make the walk out to the mound. Instead, the game was essentially over when Mientkiewicz bounced one into McCovey's Cove.

Anyway, Barry Bonds continued to get on track, hitting his 14th home run, and pushing his batting average up above .300, hopefully for good. He's running a nice .400/.520/.800 over his last seven games, (remember, he did better than that for the whole second half last season), so keep your fingers crossed.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 4, 2003


.... Corky Sosano?

So Sammy Sosa's been using a corked bat? That's outstanding, and an almost guaranteed story with legs. If you are looking for the best coverage of the outrage, (sans Tribune bias), get over to the The Cub Reporter, and read what Christian Ruzich has to say about it. That's what I'll be doing.

On another front, keep your ears open for (OBM friend and supporter) Will Carroll on ESPN's Outside The Lines Nightly. He has been bumped the last two nights, so perhaps his "face made for radio" will scare some little kids tonight. Will is perhaps the first of us writing for free guys to make his niche big enough to start getting some scratch. Lead the way, Moses.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 4, 2003


.... He's got Betty Grable's eyes

Gwen Knapp has a good article on the ordeal Rich Aurilia has gone through with his eye problems. Turns out it was as simple as his left eye drying out under his contact lense, something most contact users suffer from occasionally. For Aurilia, it was career-threatening:

The problems persisted for two weeks, but Aurilia didn't fully admit how bad things had gotten until April 29, when a Kerry Wood pitch sailed by him, and he didn't see it. It wasn't just an untouchable blur, like so many of Wood's pitches. It was invisible. All Aurilia could see was a patch of blue, Wood's Cubs jersey, on the mound.

Later, Aurilia's doctors told him that his eyes, weary after two weeks of endless squinting, probably went into a spasm. A tiny twitch, and Aurilia was defenseless at the plate, against one of the hardest throwers in baseball. He might as well have been blindfolded and left on the shoulder of Highway 101.

Aurilia knew he had to get out of the game, immediately. Clearly lost, he took a feeble swing for a strikeout. In the dugout, Giants trainer Stan Conte watched the flailing and explained to Aurilia's teammates: "He can't see out there."
Good news for Rich, as he has raised his batting average 24 points since returning to the lineup.

Meanwhile, Jason Schmidt continues to be a hard-luck ace, as he was beaten by the pithcer with the most wins in the NL last night, going down 4-1 to the Rockies and Shawn Chacon (8-2). The Giants are 9-2 in Schmidt's 11 starts, but he's just managed to earn 4 of those wins, even though he has pitched as well as anyone in the league (2.54 ERA).

Now here comes the Eastwood-esque AL Central, with the Twins and the Royals (The Good), the White Sox (The Bad), and the Tigers (The Ugly). Inter-league at its best ;-)

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 3, 2003


.... Five alive

The Giants won their fifth straight game, blanking the Rockies 4-0 today. Alou put together another lineup from a video game, and once again, it worked. The Dodgers also lost again, so the lead is up to 4.5 games. Kirk Rueter won his sixth game of the season, and moved up the SF Giants rankings for career wins and games pitched.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 1, 2003


.... Back on track

All the bounces are going the Giants way once again, as they won their fourth straight home game, beating the Rockies 2-1 behind the best performance yet by rookie Jesse Foppert. Foppert went seven innings, struck out eight, drove in the Giants first run with a triple, and scored the last on Ray Durham's single.

The Giants (34-20) pushed their lead in the NL West back to 3.5 games, and with this recent surge; they would seem to have established themselves as legitimate contenders. In reality, there are several contenders in each division in the NL so far, as no one has really established themselves as the favorite. The Braves are relying more heavily on offense than at any time in their record run of 11 consecutive division titles, leading the league in runs scored (315) while allowing a pedestrian 253 runs. The Giants have a slim margin in runs scored and allowed (261 to 226), which you could normally expect to produce a slightly less impressive winning peercentage than they currently post.

For Giants fans, the good news is that Bonds has yet to really start hitting, Cruz has been in a pretty long slump, Alfonzo hasn't gotten his batting average above three hundred.... I mean, really, no one on the team is really doing anything out of the ordinary, other than Santiago and Grissom. That's impressive, that they have one of the best records in the NL while their supposed stars have yet to light it up.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 1, 2003


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