Archive for August, 2008
Tim Lincecum is now 15-3, and is leading the National League with 210 strikeouts, a 2.43 ERA, with 81% quality starts, 10.20 K/9IP, an .833 winning percentage, a 62.2 average game score, and a 2.80 defense independent ERA. He’s in the top ten in just about every other significant category, and really is only challenged for the Cy Young this year by Brandon Webb, who is also having a terrific season.
Webb is 19-5, is 6th in ERA at 2.85, and is also in the top ten in most important categories. The only thing Tim does significantly better than Webb is strike guys out, Webb’s got 157.
But Lincecum has allowed 12 fewer earned runs in just about the same number of innings, and with the Giants having only about 70 home runs, you’d think he’s not getting anywhere near the same kind of run support. For example, Lincecum has six games in which he gave up 2 or fewer runs and came away with a no-decision, including twice when he allowed no earned runs. Webb has only three such games, and that’s pretty much the difference between them.
Tim has been supported by 124 runs in 29 appearances, 4.27 runs per game.
Webb has been supported by 128 runs in 28 appearances, 4.57 runs per game.
It seems like Lincecum’s has pitched in more games in which the Giants offense has disappeared, but he’s had plenty of runs to work with overall. However…..
On May 15th, Lincecum threw 6 innings against the Astros, allowed 3 earned runs and got a no-decision that left his record at 5-1. Webb went 7.1 innings against the Rockies, also allowed 3 earned runs, and won, running his record to 9-0. Up to that point in the season, Webb had received 56 runs in his first 9 starts, 6.22 runs per game, and had allowed 18 earned runs in 63.1 innings, good for a 2.57 ERA. Lincecum had gotten just 38 runs in his first 9 starts, 4.22 per game, and had allowed only 12 earned runs in 56.1 innings, for an ERA of 1.92.
Since then, the two pitchers are essentially dead even, with Webb going 10-5 and Lincecum 10-2.
Bottom line, the race will come down to whether the voters can’t see past Webb winning something like 22 games, even though Lincecum has been the best pitcher in the NL all year long, regardless of Webb’s 9-0 start.
I was watching the two NY teams last night, (actually, I was tracking the games using ESPN’s Gamecast), and after they both lost, I had a couple of thoughts flash through my head.
Regards the Mets, they now have 23 blown saves this season, in 59 chances. The Mets starters are a hair’s breath away from having the best ERA in the league (3.89), while their relievers are the same distance from the worst (4.25). They have been blowing leads since the beginning of the season, and I have to wonder how Omar Minaya is gonna answer the questions of another lost season due to pitching, and particularly, bullpen failures. How could he have failed to acquire the help they needed before the trading deadline? Wasting another season of MVP-caliber performances from David Wright and Jose Reyes, the Mets are in danger of watching the playoffs yet again. (I know they are just a half-game back, but as the pressure goes up, you think their relievers are suddenly gonna start getting guys out?)
As for the Yanks, it is clear that Cashman’s gamble, that Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, and Joba Chamberlain would combine with Chang, Mussina, and Pettite to form a solid enough rotation for them to hit their way into the playoffs, has failed spectacularly. Should Cashman have realized that the team’s hitter would regress after posting a league-best 968 runs last season? Sure. Not this much, but he should have seen that they would come back to earth a bit.
Obviously, he couldn’t have forseen as many injuries as they have sustained. No one could have. But, the bench he put together, and the second-tier pitching he compiled, set the team up poorly. Ignoring the possibility that Damon, Posada, Giambi and Matsui were all old enough to be serious injury risks was bad planning. Where are the Triple AAA replacements for the Yankees in the outfield? First base? Where are the power hitters in their system?
And, not for nothing, trading a power bullpen arm for Ivan Rodriguez has been a disaster. Hawkins has yet to give up a run for the Tigers, and it seems like Pudge has yet to drive one in for the Yankees. (10 for 48, 1 double, 1 home run, 1 RBI).
To bring this around to the Giants, well, every team has tough times, and maybe, just maybe, Sabean has the team in the right direction. The young pitchers have been good to great, and the farm system seems to be coming back to life. Of course, there isn’t a position player on the roster who will be around when the team is in contention again, which is on him and his crack team of albatross contract creators. Not to mention, replacing your entire offense at once is something usually reserved for expansion teams, which, outside of our pitching, is pretty much exactly what the Giants look like right now.
But, looking forward, there is some cause for guarded optimism. He hasn’t traded Matt Cain for some 30-year old who just hit four home runs in a week for the first time ever, and, thank God, he didn’t trade The Franchise for Vernon Wells, who –sorry, Kent– has fallen on some hard times (although he’s red-hot right now).
Let me see if I understand how this works….
Manny Ramirez quits on his team, fails to run out grounders, falls down fielding fly balls, doesn’t swing at pitches in a game that his team is down a run against their biggest rivals, assaults a club employee, rants and raves about how much the team he plays for is against him, hurting him, lying to him, and basically forces the Boston Red Sox to do something, anything, to get rid of him, and the Los Angeles Dodgers trade for him. That is, they not only declared that they wanted to have him on their team, but that they were willing to give up valuable baseball talent in order to do so.
And now, I get read all of this speculation about how a 37-year old moron, a player who has always given his best effort only when he wants to, is in line for another $100 million dollars at the end of this season.
…. “I bet he gets $15-20 million a year for three or four years, especially if he keeps his nose clean and helps the Dodgers win it,” said another executive who has worked for large, small and middle-market teams. “Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if [Dodgers owner] Frank McCourt would do that. He loves all those Boston guys.”
Meanwhile, Barry Bonds can’t find a job.
…. As one NL executive said, “If they’re looking for some justification (for going after him), now they’ve got a way to justify it.” But there is still no indication Tampa Bay has any interest — for all the obvious reasons.
“The thing they’re scared about is disrupting what they have in the clubhouse,” said one scout who has seen a lot of the Rays recently. “And really, that’s the only way he doesn’t fit in there. But I don’t blame them. Their chemistry is the best thing they have going for themselves right now. … There’s really something magical going on with that club.”
Yeah, that “magic” includes the Rays –looking for their first-ever playoff berth– having just lost their two best hitters. In the AL East, having to stave off the Red Sox and the Yankees, the Rays decision to ignore Bonds as a DH option has to be considered as part of baseball’s ownership, and quite frankly, the sports media establishment’s, effort to keep Bonds from ever playing again. That, my friends, is collusion, and Bonds ought to be going after the owners just as hard as he would any fastball.
Because, here we are, with Bonds, who never did anything except fanatically prepare himself to be the absolute best baseball player that ever lived, who never put anything ahead of winning baseball games; that man is being told that he isn’t good for your team. In this world, Bonds is the clubhouse cancer. We keep hearing that having him around wouldn’t be good for young baseball players. We are being told –by “experts”– that no team would want their young players to see a 45-year old who was in better shape than they were, who maniacally prepared himself for every at-bat, every pitch, every play; who methodically planned, analyzed and then destroyed whatever approach the opposing pitcher had for beating him.
It is explained to us that, a guy who would leave no stone unturned in his efforts to be the best would be a bad influence.
No, better that they see Manny Ramirez dogging his way out of one team, and into the jet-stream of a new $100 million dollar contract.
Well, I’ve just read a couple of Giants blogs, McCovey Chronicles, and MVN Giants Cove, as well as a few others, and there seems to be –at the least– some minor cause for optimism. The team has signed it’s big-time draft picks, has recently optioned out a couple of guys who just didn’t seem to be ready for prime time, and have discovered a few players who might, just might be contributors on a winning club in the future.
Here’s Kevin Gibbs, writing at the Cove:
…. the Giants have designated Jose Castillo for assignment, sent Holm and Bowker to triple A and called up Rohlinger, Sandoval and Ishikawa. When the Giants picked up Castillo they were hoping that he…. actually, I have no idea what the Giants hoped for with Castillo. By the start of the 2008 season, Castillo had firmly established that he could neither hit nor field at the major league level. Shockingly, on the Giants, Castillo neither hit nor played defense at the major league level.
OK, so, maye that’s not exactly positive, but, it’s a good thing that the team did it.
I like the move to ditch Castillo, who is –unbelievably– a worse player than Pedro Feliz, and wish Bowker could have figured out how to lay off pitches that didn’t reach home plate, but there is no reason not to see if any of these other “prospects” have a chance to become real players. As Kevin points out, so far, only Fred Lewis has developed into a real player during this experimental phase. One more might make it a trend.
However, it remains true that we have a team that has hit 66 home runs this season, (about half what a normal club would hit), that has scored just 457 runs in 120 games, is 20 games under .500, and this team was put together by Brian Sabean on purpose. He is the architect of this mess, and the fact that he has made some strides in solving the team’s future doesn’t buy him a total pass.
I’m just saying…..
What are you supposed to say? What’s the right blend of sarcasm and honesty? I don’t know.
I just know that Bonds got the ovation, the standing ovation, and, at least for a day, owned Pac Bell again. Good for him.
What do you guys think?