Archive for September, 2005
So Barry’s in the lineup tonite. The Cubs took three of four, the Giants have lost five of six, and the season is over.
At least we can see some positives for ’06; the young pitchers, Cain, Hennessey, Munter and Lowry, the acquisitions of Randy Winn and LaTroy Hawkins, the defense of Vizquel.
To seriously contend, the Giants need to get more offense from first and third base, they need to get a quality backup outfielder or two, and they need to figure out what the hell is wrong with Schmidt. Not too much to ask.
So much for that. Now I can get back to concentrating on more important things, like calculating the probability that Sabean will fire Mr. Cream of Wheat, whose indefensible mis-managing was behind this latest, season-destroying three game losing streak.
In the 4-2 extra-inning loss, not only did he have Randy Winn (4 home runs in his last 6 games) bunt twice, but he absolutely had to walk Jeff Kent and replace Accardo with two outs in the bottom of the 10th.
Inn the 9-8 series clincher for the Dodgers, after Benitez acted like, well, Benitez, and allowed not one, but two home runs in the decisive eight inning (what the hell was he doing pitching in the eighth innings, anyway?), he put Accardo out there a second night in a row in a tie game, next run wins it for the home team.
And then last night, he sat there and left Lowry, (struggling all night against a Cub team playing like they were in the World Series), out there in the 7th inning, (two men on, two outs) to face both Triple Crown Lee -screaming line drive that would have been a three-run homer if he’d gotten under it at all- and then Garciappara -game-deciding, monster two-run double- before finally remembering that he had other guys who can pitch. All three of those games could have been wins if Alou treated them with the same urgency and preparation that his counterpart did.
Instead, he treated these games like they hardly mattered at all, and so the Giants are back to 7 games out with 24 to play. It was a nice tease, got me to watch with way more interest than I’ve had in months. On to football.
Jeff Kent doused the Giants six game winning streak with a tremendous, walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning last night, but the real reason the Giants lost 4-2 was the inconsistent work put in by home plate umpire Bruce Froemming.
LaTroy Hawkins was the victim of a suddenly tiny strike zone with two outs in the 8th inning, as he was forced to endure two separate 10-plus pitch at-bats. He struck out Jayson Werth looking at least twice, only to watch helplessly as Froemming ignored his pitches, extending the at-bat to a ridiculous 12 pitches before he finally made a mistake, and his battle with Oscar Robles was almost a carbon copy. Add in the bloop jam-job fisted single by Kent that tied the game, and voila’, the Giants winning streak ended and Brett Tomko’s awesome performance was wasted.
Jeremy Accardo was flat-out brilliant until he allowed a two-out single to Robles in the fateful 10th, and from the stretch, he seemed to lose his control quickly, as both pitches to Kent were way off his target.
The Alou family also had their struggles; as Moises had a terrible night at the plate, leaving runners in scoring position in several innings; and Felipe’s strange decision to have Randy Winn, (only the hottest hitter the Giants have), bunt not once, but twice with runners on-base combined to help the Giants score only 2 runs despite having 11 baserunners.
The Giants only solace was knowing that they didn’t lose ground to the Padres, but in reality, they ahd a golden chance to pick up another game and lost it. Losing a 2-1 lead with two outs in the bottom of the 8th (with nobody on) is hard to swallow.
According to this SF Chronicle piece, the player alleged to have ‘wrassled’ with Barry was none other than the complainer, Jason Christiansen. In this LA Times piece, we hear how much it bothered him to be invisible compared to Superman:
…. “It’s good to get out of a situation where if you pitch a good game, you’re asked, ‘Did you guys miss Barry today?’ Life goes on without that guy coming out to the park. The last five months we saw him about 20 days. It’s tough to answer questions about someone you don’t know anything about unless you go onto his website.”
Nice. That’s the kind of attitude a ten-year old might have being on the same team with the best player in the world, “Screw that guy, what about me?” Maybe it was the scuffle with Christiansen that set Bonds back. If that’s the case, though, it sure seems that would be the kinda thing we would have heard about by now.
Oh,and by the way…. the last time Bonds fought with a teammate, the Giants went to the World Series.
And now it’s 8 of 9, and Bonds took BP with the team in LA. How are we fans supposed to take this surge? I mean, really, it sure seems like a tease. I was totally into the 8th and 9th innings tonight, something that hasn’t happened in a long time. In fact, I started cursing Krukow when he said that Benitez had been perfect since his return from the DL. That hasn’t happened since, like, April.
Anyway, I’ll allow them to break my heart again, obviously. I’m sure many of you will, too.
UPDATE: David Pinto was wondering whether some rumored fight between Bonds and an unnamed teammate may have reinjured his knee in late June:
…. More interesting, however, is the side bar which explains why Bonds spent so much time in Los Angeles:
As Barry Bonds joined his teammates for the first time in nearly three months, multiple sources have confirmed to ESPN’s Pedro Gomez that Bonds’ banishment to Los Angeles in late June was precipitated by a clubhouse fight with a teammate.
Bonds is alleged to have punched the unnamed teammate in the jaw, and the Giant put Bonds in a headlock. Late June is when Barry’s knee swelled up again. Did this tussle help aggrevate the injury? If so, Barry’s ability to be disliked may have cost him half a season and the Giants the division.
I haven’t heard a single thing about this alleged fight. Anybody else have anything to add?
UPDATE, Part II: Heres the link and the details:
As Barry Bonds joined his teammates for the first time in nearly three months, multiple sources have confirmed to ESPN’s Pedro Gomez that Bonds’ leaving the team for Los Angeles in late June was precipitated by a clubhouse fight with a teammate. A Giants player took offense to Harvey Shields, one of Bonds’ personal trainers the team hired at Bonds’ urging, while in the players’ food room at SBC Park.
Shortly after the unnamed Giants player and Shields exchanged words, Bonds sought out the player inside the clubhouse and had words. A scuffle ensued in which Bonds punched the player in the jaw, whereupon the player put Bonds in a headlock and retaliated. The two were separated by players and Giants personnel, though Bonds and the player have since made amends.
Through a club spokesman, Bonds said, “I never had a problem with that player.”
Giants GM Brian Sabean denied that the altercation led to Bonds being sent away from the team.
The Giants continued their efforts to prove me wrong, with their 7th win in their last 8 games behind the strong pitching of Matt Cain. The win put them 5 games behind the Padres in the loss column, and with 27 games remaining, I’d have to say they probably have enough games left to make a move. Can they continue to stay this hot? More importantly, are they hot at all?
They just had the best ERA in baseball for the month of August, and the best they could manage was a 14-14 record. That’s not very impressive, or very hot, either. Their 7 of 8 streak (their first such stretch of the entire season), came at the expense of the horrible Rockies and crumbling D’backs, which is to say, it’s not much of a streak.
And their schedule will go from friendly to scary in about ten minutes. After the next three games in Chavez Ravine, they have 11 straight at home, followed by 10 straight road games. Since they’ve been terrible both home and away, I’m not sure it makes any difference, but if they really want the four game set in San Diego (September 26-29) to matter, they’d better take advantage of the home cooking coming up.
In reality, they face only one team with a winning record the rest of the season (three games at Washington), so if they are really playing well enough to feast on the lesser teams in the NL, they have their chance. And really, to have any chance at all iin a season so horrible is far more than the team or it’s fans (yours truly included) had any right to expect. How much of a chance, you ask?
Using an abacus, I’ve calculated that the Giants would have to win 20 of their last 27 to finish above .500. That ain’t happening. They need to finish 6 games better than the Padres, and that could happen. The Padres just finished August 15-12, a bit better than the Giants actually, and they also face but one winning team, Washington, (also for three games), so neither team has a real advantage in the schedule.
The Padres pitching has been just a hair behind the Giants in effectiveness, so again, no advantage. Offensively, however, the Giants were horrible in August, which explains the .500 record despite their excellent pitching. They scored only 93 runs in 28 games, an anemic 3.3 runs per game, while the Padres put up 4.6 per game. That’s a huge advantage, so….
For the Giants to have any chance of overtaking the Padres, they need Bonds (Bonds is worth at least a run per game), for at least 20 of their remaining 27 games. Even if their pitching holds up through the rest of the season, they are not hitting enough to outlast the Padres. Can Bonds make it back in time? If he was waiting to see if his return mattered, well, it does. If he’s well enough to take BP, he’s well enough to face the lousy pitching the Giants are likely to face down the stretch.
According to his latest posting at his website, the only hurdle between him and live action is running, so I’d say that the only hurdle between the Giants and the NL West crown is Barry’s running. You heard it here first.
UPDATE: As usual, David Pinto beat me to the punch. He also thinks Bonds can put the Giants over the top.
So, after a season filled with injuries, slumps, bullpen explosions, Cream of Wheat, and other assorted horrible performances; the SF Giants find themselves in second place, just six losses back of the just about as bad San Diego Padres; with whom they have seven games against down the stretch. And Bonds might, just might be back.
I know, I know…. I’m not much of an optimist, but should the Giants make the postseason, a rotation that starts with Schmidt and Lowry, a bullpen that finishes with a healthy Benitez, and a lineup that features Bonds, Alou and Durham should be somewhat competitive.
There, that wasn’t too hard.
Henry Schulman wonders at JT Snow’s ability to keep his job at first base in this article.
…. J.T. Snow rattled off the names: Damon Minor, Andres Galarraga, Pedro Feliz, Lance Niekro. Over the last few years, Snow has been called into the manager’s office often and told he will play less so the Giants can look at these other players at first base.
“It’s funny how it always seems to come around,” Snow said. “I’ve been told a couple of times they’re going with younger players. Since then, I’ve actually played more.”
Two things are going on here, and neither of them are good. First off, Snow’s situation is one more example of an organization that doesn’t know how to make and stick to a plan. After telling both Snow and Neikro that the team was going to see what the younger player could produce playing everyday, Neikro actually played less. Why? It certainly isn’t because of Snow’s offense. No, it’s because the Giants over-value Snow’s defense. Sabean will tell anyone who wants to listen that Snow’s glove saves the Giants ten losses a year, a laughable assertion that plays well to the feeble-minded local reporters who have apparently ignored the last twenty years of baseball research.
The second thing that needs to be touched upon would be Sabean’s inability to evaluate talent properly. Of all the players who have been brought in to replace Snow, only one was a real ballplayer, Galarraga, and not only was he roughly three times the hitter Snow was, he was benched down the stretch to play Snow, costing the ’01 team the chance to make the playoffs; and adding insult to injury, at the end of the season, he was released.
Many, many first basemen have been available during the last three or four seasons, as the Giants have tried to replace Snow, (the worst-hitting first baseman in all of baseball), and the Giants haven’t even come close. Just this past off-season, Tony Clark couldn’t even find a team. All he’s done is run out a .311/.362/.625 .987 OPS with 22 home runs in 280 at-bats. Carlos Delgado wanted a lot of money, sure, but all he’s done is pound out 60 extra-base hits in 424 at-bats. For crying out loud, our own guy has outplayed Snow:
Snow 302 AB 13 2B 4 HR 32 RBI .272/.339/.361 .700 OPS
Neikro 240 AB 15 2B 11 HR 42 RBI .263/.298/.488 .786 OPS
How is Snow getting at-bats over this kid? First base used to be a power position, but that seems to be changing. Only five first basemen in the NL have at least 20 home runs, but 22 of them have more home runs than JT. And for four years now, Sabean can’t replace Snow with a capable major league player? Why is that?