Archive for October, 2004

…. E-Neif already

Marty at Across the Seams has a post on Neifi Perez’s defense. In it, he demonstrates that Perez is nothing like the best defender at his position (second or short), that Krukow, Alou and every other knucklehead would have you believe. This is not news to me, as I have derided the contract he was given (and given is the right word, as it amounted to a gift I wish I would see the likes of in my lifetime), essentially since he signed it.

He is not the best defender in the league, and as I have stated repeatedly, he’d have to have a vacuum at the end of each arm and one where his mouth is to justify 400 at-bats.

First, shortstop. Looking at guys with significant innings at the position (more than 300), Perez was behind Bill Hall, Jack Wilson, Rafael Furcal, Kaz Matsui, Wilson Delgado, and Felipe Lopez, and slightly ahead of Royce Clayton. In ZR, it’s worse, with Adam Everett, Cesar Izturis, Jose Vizcaino, Ramon Martinez, Alex Gonzalez, Wilson, Jimmy Rollins, Edgar Renteria, Delgado, Khalil Greene, Orlando Cabrera, and Craig Counsell ahead of him. Let’s try fielding percentage now. Deep breath: Larkin, Clayton, Rollins, Izturis, Cabrera, Renteria, Counsell, Garciaparra, Deivi Cruz, Wilson, Martinez, and Everett.

OK forget shortstop then. Let’s try second instead. He does much better here (300 innings minimum, which he barely makes). Neifi is first in fielding percentage, tied with Placido Polanco and Jamey Carroll. In range factor, he’s first by a wide margin over the second-place guy, Aaron Miles. It falls apart a bit in ZR, where he trails Jose Reyes, Chase Utley, Luis Castillo, Mark Grudzielanek, Matt Kata, Nick Green, Scott Hairston, D’Angelo Jimenez, Mark Loretta, Aaron Miles, Marcus Giles, Jeff Kent, Junior Spivey, Tony Womack, Alex Cora, and Todd Walker.

So there. But would he have been a better choice as a late-inning defensive replacement than Cody Ransom? Obviously. But you can’t have everything, and if Perez was bitching about sitting behind Deivi Cruz (who was only out-hitting him by about 400 OPS points), than he should have been released.

…. Rampant speculation

It’s taken me a few days to get myself ready to write about baseball, and the Giants again. A team that started so poorly (16-24 record out the gate), and then rallied so valiantly, (85-47, .643 winning percentage the rest of the way), in the end, fell one win short of the playoffs. Which horrible loss should we consider the season-destroyer? The 5-run lead to the Rockies? The grand slam walk-off by Finley? Or was it a win that derailed the Giants??

Oh well. Stay tuned for some season wrap up stuff shortly.

…. End of the line

Sorry for the delay in writing about the end of the season. I was literally speechless at how the last two days unfolded. A promising season fell apart in the span of about twenty pitches, not unlike that fateful day two years ago, when I wrote:

The Giants suffered perhaps the the most disheartening and distressing loss in the history of baseball tonight, losing 6-5 to the Anaheim Angels, who became the first team in the history of the game to win an elimination game of any kind after trailing by five runs or more.

That about sums it up, no? The Dodgers rallied from a 5-0, ninth-inning deficit against the Rockies a week ago, and then pulled another rabbit out of their hat by coming up with 7 runs to ruin our season.

Magowan’s in the Chronicle saying they’ll rebound, but makes sure we know that we ain’t gonna get a big-time free agent of any kind. Thanks, Peter, for letting me know that I’m in for the same kind of torture next year.

…. Desperation

It had to come to this, didn’t it? A team so flawed, so marginally successful; could hardly have been expected to follow a smooth progression to the promised land.

Alou had whittled his relief corps down to Brower, Eyre, and Hermanson except for the most dire circumstances; and all three had finally run out of gas, and once more, the bullpen exploded in our faces.

Blame Sabean, or more accurately, Magowan. Saving a million dollars here and there left Alou with no bench, no middle relief other than Jim Brower, and no margin for error (Thanks for the memories, Cody. Good luck at Safeway).

Tonight, it’s our former Cy Young candidate against the six-time winner, Roger Clemens, in two places at the same time. Do the Rockies have any of the balls left in them that led them to three devastating September wins against the Giants? I doubt it.

As for Barry, he reached base 3 times yesterday, and as many of you noted, his season total now stands at 375. He needs four today to tie the record, a possibility, but not much of one, as the Dodgers have no reason not to pitch to him now. The real chance lies in the one-game playoff, if the Giants can get there.

…. Keep it continuous

First off, props to Ichiro for breaking Sisler’s record, he is a classy and humble superstar.

But, with all due respect to his amazing accomplishment, his season pales in comparison to Superman, who is also looking to make history. Ichiro has reached base just over 300 times, an outstanding figure. Anytime you reach base 300 times in a season, you have been dominant.

With last night’s three walks, Bonds has now reached base 373 times (135 hits, 228 walks, 9 hit-by-pitch, at least 1 time by reaching on an error), leaving him 6 away from Babe Ruth’s 81 year-old record of 379 times on base, set during his historic 1923 season. If Jim Tracy’s approach to Bonds doesn’t change, Bonds will set the record in the second inning of Sunday’s game.

(If anybody has Bonds’ total number of times reaching by error, post a backtalk and I’ll amend this post)

In the meantime, the Giants continued their quest to make some history of their own, beating the Dodgers 4-2 in the first round of their heavyweight three-game set. As I wrote yesterday, Reuter had been on a roll, but it wasn’t the outside corner that made the difference for Woody, it was the Dodgers impatience. I think Woody threw about six pitches per inning through the first two times through the lineup, as hitter after hitter went down.

Tonight, it’s Tomko’s turn. He suffered a setback in his last turn, but Chavez Ravine is the kind of place that can have a settling effect on a pitcher. If the Dodgers try the same approach with Tomko, swinging at everything, they might have more success, as his fastball, strike one attitude could be exploited.

…. Heart-stopper

Jerome Williams pitched the Giants into a tie with the Houston Astros for the NL Wild Card lead, holding the Padres to one run over seven innings. The Giants held on for a 4-1 win to send them into LA with a chance for a one-game NL West playoff if they can manage a sweep of the Dodgers.

The pitch of the game, and maybe the season, came in the fourth inning. Rich Aurilia, Giant-killer ever since he arrived in San Diego, had been pounding the inside pitch the whole series. After hitting a monstrous foul ball into the leather recliner seats in the second deck, Williams went down and away three straight times to push the count full, a man on first, and two outs. At that moment, my friend Jason asked why Williams had suddenly lost command of his pitches. I explained that Aurilia had taken away the inside part of plate by pounding the crap out of it up the whole series. The only way Williams could get him out on the inside would be if Aurilia had come to the same conclusion. On the next pitch, Williams pounded a fastball, hand-high and tight to the inside corner, the exact spot where it seemed he could not throw the ball to Aurilia, who froze as the umpire rang him up.

There was no doubt that Aurilia had ignored the inside part of plate, and it was just that kind of ballsy pitching that took the heart out of the Padres last night. Williams did the same thing to Nevin in a later at-bat, and pitched an outstanding game in leading the Giants. Now it’s on to LA…..

Update: One of my backtalkers mentioned that Krukow had called that pitch to Aurilia a curve that hung, and had missed the location. I don’t remember that, at the time, I thought that the pitch deserved commentary, and I waited out the commercial; and all they did was show a single replay with little mention of the situation or the result. Maybe tonight they’ll talk about it in the pregame, although I doubt it.

All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
None of the opinions expressed should be construed as being endorsed by the
San Francisco Giants, Major League Baseball, or any other organization mentioned herein.

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