Archive for the 'Cy Young' Category
As tough as it is watching Lincecum struggle, it is easily the most surprising and astounding turnaround to watch Barry –the Hit Man– Zito turn around his career. Kudos to Zito for handling his difficult time with class and dignity, never sniping, complaining, or really doing anything to convey his dissatisfaction with anything that was happening to him during his first five seasons with the team.
Really, that is perhaps the most inspiring part of his story. Between the horrible pitching, the constant pressure on him because of his huge contract, the booing, the demotion for the 2010 playoff run…. Zito has been a model player in the clubhouse, in the press, and apparently, everywhere else. The result is a player whose return to success is easy to root for, and is really one of the best redemption story imaginable. A player who is celebrated for his ability to turn around what had once seemed to be the end of his career and not only play well, but to even contribute to a championship of his own.
…. “It gets back to competing,” (Bruce) Bochy said. “It doesn’t matter what you’re doing in this game: pitching, swinging the bat, playing defense – it’s all about competing. He’s as tough a competitor as I’ve been around.”
His success so far this season has been a breath of fresh air, and reminds us that comebacks can happen, that people can overcome adversity, and they can do it with grace and class.
Good for him, and good for the Giants.
UPDATE: Jonah Keri goes deeper on Lincecum in Grantland today:
…. Baseball Prospectus writer and pitching mechanics expert Doug Thorburn addressed this in a pair of articles last year: Lincecum’s delivery depends on perfect mechanics, and that trademark gigantic stride. As he wrote in an e-mail:
…. He was able to generate ridiculous momentum early in his career (a huge advantage), and he found a timing pattern with it that he could repeat, which was critical for commanding the fastball and keeping that split-change buried under the zone. That stride and momentum required excellent lower body strength, and when his delivery fell out of whack back in 2010, the solution was rooted in conditioning — he had lost his timing because he could not consistently generate his usual stride pattern. Last season, his momentum was noticeably down when compared to his peak, and he struggled to find his timing for most of the season — I thought it was telling that he did so well out of the ’pen, where he could go all out rather than conserve stamina.
Thorburn expressed some mild optimism that Lincecum could bounce back a bit if he can fix his mechanics, which could in turn allow him to better control where his pitches are going. But the beast of four years ago, the guy with the fastball that hit the high-90s and the split-change that was one of the most unhittable pitches in the game? That guy’s almost certainly not coming back. Research on pitcher aging curves by Mike Fast and Jeremy Greenhouse suggests that a pitcher this young shouldn’t be suffering from this steep of a performance decline, and that it can be very tough to improve once that decline starts.
The worst thing is that I agree with him. If the loss in velocity, now around 5+ MPH since his rookie season, is unfixable, he’s either heading to a closer role, or he’s done. Either way, I think it’s safe to say Sabean looks like Nostradamus by holding the line on Lincecum’s salary demands over these last couple of years. At any time over these last three years or so, Lincecum could have been signed to a five or six-year deal that right now would be terrifying to the team. Instead, they failed/succeeded in ensuring that whatever deal they were discussing, it didn’t work for someone, and the Giants are actually looking at being able to walk away from Lincecum should this season be another train wreck.
UPDATE, Part II: Well, today did nothing to dispel my concerns. Lincecum looked completely lost, missing his spots by a foot or more. The hitters bailed him out again, but, holy Christ, he looks awful.
The NY Daily News’ Bill Madden is in the minority when it comes to common sense:
all of Fame’s Great Dilemma: It continues to bill itself as a museum, and the custodian of the game’s history, and records. But down the road, how does the Hall justify that if it excludes the holders of the most significant of those records?
…. with 15 MVP and Cy Young Awards between them, Clemens, ninth all-time in wins and third in strikeouts, and Bonds, the all-time home run leader, are the two most decorated players in the history of the Baseball Writers’ awards voting — and yet those same writers, many of whom are of the opinion they have an obligation to abide by the “integrity and sportsmanship” clause, feel compelled to say “No” when it comes to a plaque in Cooperstown.
…. “The problem you have now is that the Hall of Fame is supposed to tell the history of the game, good and bad,” said a baseball official, “and unfortunately there is this inconsistency between the records and the people elected to the Hall. If you’re going to keep out the suspected steroids players, don’t you then also have to put an asterisk or something on their records? You can’t have it both ways. Obviously, the commissioner has no intention of putting an asterisk on the records, and so, if they’re going to stand, Bonds and Clemens should be in the Hall of Fame. And, frankly, so, too, should Rose.”
Um, yeah. I’ve been saying that for going on a decade. Better late than never.
Meanwhile, Mike Lupica, (savior of children, baseball and integrity, though maybe not in that order) still wants us to know he’s got it right about Bonds and Clemens:
…. You break no laws, by the way, if you don’t care whether Clemens and Bonds and Sosa were shooting up in the dugout.
You don’t have to care.
But if you do, ask yourself a question:
Do you believe Clemens was clean over the second half of his career?
Once again, we see how it is with guys with a computer, a newspaper and am axe to grind. “Apologize.” Done. “Not enough.” “Gotcha, now go on trial.” Beat it. “Not enough.”
On and on. Just remember that Clemens was better than Lupica’s boyhood idols, Bonds was better than Lupica’s boyhood heroes, and that’s why he won’t let up. Guys like Palmeiro, guys like Ramirez, those guys he’s already forgotten about. Jason Grimsley? The only time Jason Grimsley will be in a Lupica article is if he shoots somebody. He didn’t beat an immortal.
UPDATE: In a related article written by Murray Chass, I came across this Buster Olney quote:
“The institution of baseball condoned the use of performance-enhancing drugs for almost two decades with inaction. To hold it against a handful of individuals now is, to me, retroactive morality.”
Again, not to belabor the point, but I have been saying that for going on a decade. At the risk of repeating myself, I’ll also mention that Pete Rose is in the same boat with these moving target assholes.. The sportswriters who now champion his permanent exclusion from baseball absolutely knew he was betting on sports for years; and at least a couple of them suspected he was betting on baseball. They said, wrote and did nothing, until it was politically expedient to act shocked and horrified.
On and on…. They demanded that Rose admit what he did, come clean, and apologize. The minute he did, they jumped down his throat insisting that he didn’t apologize the right way. Jason Giambi went through the exact same thing. So did A-Rod. Only Andy Pettitte appeared to handle his apology the right way. Of course, the writers already didn’t believe he was cheating anyway. He was an acknowledged “good guy,” which meant that he was a good interview for the sycophants.
Dan Lependorf, over the Hardball Times, puts together a graph detailing how impressive Matt Cain’s Perfecto really was:
blockquote>…. If a pitcher strikes out 14 batters in a single game, it’ll be the lead story on every sports news program of the night. After all, it’s only happened a few hundred times in baseball history. If a pitcher throws a perfect game, it’s one of those landmark events that’ll be sold on DVD in the MLB.com store. And people will buy it, because hey, it’s a perfect game. Only 22 of those.
But both of them at the same time? Congratulations, Matt Cain. You just had one of the best nights from any pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball.
But then Bill James –who Lependorf cites in his article– writes (subscription required) that Cain’s game, while very impressive, isn’t even close to being the best pitched game of all-time:
…. The Game Score for Joe Oeschger, when he pitched 26 innings one afternoon, was 153, a feat beyond the understanding of modern fans. But in the last 60 years, Dean Chance against the Yankees on June 6, 1964, had the highest Game Score on record—116. 14 innings, 3 hits, 12 strikeouts, no runs.
James then goes on to chart the best games, seasons and careers using his Game Score method. It’s a great read, and well worth the $3 bucks a month you have to pay for access to Bill James Online.
At yesterday’s Fanfest, Lincecum answered questions about his new contract:
…. “Just because I signed a two-year deal doesn’t mean
it eliminates extension talks in the future,” Lincecum said.
“I’m worried about now, now. I’ve never been that guy who could make plans four years from now. If someone’s going, ‘You want to hang out a month from now when I’m down there?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know. Just call me when you’re down here and I’ll see what I’m doing.’
“That’s the way I’ve always been. That’s the way my friends know me. My family knows me that way. This is no different.”
Sounds very reasonable, but I wouldn’t expect him –or anyone, for that matter– to just blithely express his true feelings of uncertainty and worry. Maybe I’m wrong about this, but if I were in his shoes, I’d be damn sure the team was solving the lack of offense before I locked my ass up in a long-term deal. But that’s me.
Lincecum gets what he wants, and I guess the Giants do as well.
….The two-year, $40.5 million deal, which was completed Tuesday but will not be
official until he passes a physical next week…
This deal shows that Lincecum is saying that unless the Giants start building an offense that matches his talents, he won’t be a Giant once he reaches free agency. Another two seasons of winning 13 games instead of 20, of seven starts without a single run to work with, of losing four 1-0 games…. these things are not acceptable to him, and if they continue, he will become a Yankee.
Clayton Kershaw won the NL Cy Young Award today, edging Roy Halladay. I think it’s pretty obvious that Halladay had a better season. Let’s not forget that Kershaw pitched against the Triple AAA Giants six times, going 5-0 against us, with a line that reads out of a high school newspaper: 42 IP 29 Hits 5 ER 49 SO 0.93 ERA.
I think it’s safe to say that pitching against the Giants pretty much won him the award.
Tim Lincecum finally succumbed to the pressure of having to shut out your opponent every time out, falling to the hapless Chicago Cubs 7-0 tonight. Wow. After stifling one more team inning after inning, it finally dawned on Timmy what we’ve been talking about for most of the last two months…. That this Giants offense has fallen to the depths of Hades. Watching journeyman Randy Wells throw a two-hit shutout against him, Lincecum surely had to wonder about the no-hitters he would have on his resume if only he got to pitch against the orange and black.
Carlos Beltran has to rank as one of the biggest trade deadline busts of all time, with his fucking completely worthless 1 home run and 4 runs batted in in 70 at bats. Way to go, striking out your first two times up with a man on base. Awesome.
Pray to God Zack Wheeler doesn’t turn out to be a star, because it already feels like another Double Play moment.
The NY Daily News’ Bill Madden embarrasses himself in this blatant attempt to land on the “right” side of the morally pure:
…. Bud Selig could make this easy for everyone by citing those precedents and placing Bonds on baseball’s permanent ineligible list.
That is just ridiculous, really. Just like all the writers falling all over themselves to make sure we know that the prosecution “won” in the farce of as trial we just witnessed. Nobody “won.” Justice wasn’t served, didn’t prevail or overcome. Her wheels didn’t grind exceedingly fine. This was a witch hunt, a travesty, an outrage that anyone associated with will forever find themselves smeared in.
Bonds is gonna get in the Hall of Fame or not, and at this point, with the Hall being used by the writers to make some moral statement, who cares anymore. If the man who has the hit the most home runs in a a season and in a career doesn’t get in, and the man who has the most hits of all time doesn’t, and a pitcher who is arguably the greatest ever doesn’t, well, then, what the hell kind of Hall of Fame do you have? One that will lose all relevance to the fans who love the game. At some point, you just have to accept that people are fallible, a simple and reasonable stance that these guardians of purity have completely forgotten.
The sportswriters who choose to deny these great players don’t deserve their vote. Well, maybe deserve isn’t the right way to put that. They are using their vote to make a statement. They are using the Hall of Fame. That doesn’t seem right to me.
A Hall of Fame is for honoring the greatest baseball players of all time, not the nicest, or the ones who are the most polite.
Oh, and not for nothing, but Seligula is gonna get in the Hall of Fame on day, and he has no business banning anyone.
Here’s a nice little article about our Freak:
…. Lincecum may look ordinary, but consider a few tales of his athletic prowess: His junior year in high school, he went out for the golf team, having played three rounds of golf in his life. Needing to shoot under 40 for nine holes, he carded a 39. (One of Lincecum’s former baseball coaches told me that he once saw him drive a golf ball 315 yards, in sandals.) He can do a standing back flip and walk on his hands. (Some sneaker tread marks on his living room wall attest to his ability to do vertical push-ups, too.) He can throw a baseball more than 400 feet on the fly, far enough to clear the outfield wall from the batter’s box in any big-league park. Admittedly, these feats don’t necessarily conform with our prevailing notion of “athleticism,” which has essentially come to mean strong and fast.
But that’s the point: Lincecum has redefined and even reclaimed the term. He’s a pure athlete in the classic, schoolyard sense.
It’s a NY Times piece, and it’s worth your time.
Tom Verducci chose the 2010 San Francisco Giants as his Sportsmen of the Year:
…. In three homes over 52 seasons did San Francisco follow this serial in wait for a championship. The Giants lacked the historical and literary embellishments of Brooklyn, Boston and Chicago, and so their suffering went underplayed, though much suffering did they know. Five times in those years they played a Game 6 or Game 7 with a chance to win the series, and lost every one of those games, getting shut out in three of those five potential clinchers.
The agony began with a 1-0 loss to the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1962 World Series, which ended when Willie McCovey lined out to second base with the tying and winning runs in scoring position. In the 1987 NLCS, up three games to two, they were shut out in back-to-back losses to St. Louis. And in the 2002 World Series, up 5-0 on the Angels with one out and nobody on in the seventh, they managed the biggest collapse in a potential clincher in series history, followed by a 4-1 whimper of an elimination in Game 7.
This is all you need to know about the cruelty of Giants culture: Charlie Brown is a Giants fan. Two months after McCovey’s lineout, Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz, from Santa Rosa, drew a strip in which Charlie and Linus sit brooding silently for three panels, only to have Charlie wail in the fourth, “Why couldn’t McCovey have hit the ball just three feet higher?”
…. Not only did the Giants give their fans a winner, they also gave them an unforgettable one, one with a Playbill’s worth of characters who exuded joy and thankfulness about what was happening. They are now characters, and not unlike the misfits and urchins Dickens himself gave us, who are established eternally.
Wilson and that frightfully awful beard. Aubrey Huff and the red thong. Lincecum and the hair. Cody Ross, the greatest in-season claim in the history of waivers. The prenaturally cool Buster Posey. The unflappable Matt Cain. The very roundness of Pablo Sandoval and Juan Uribe. The redemption of prodigal Bay Area son Pat Burrell. Watching these Giants, you half expected Jean Valjean to pop up in the on-deck circle at any moment.
Well done, Tom.