Archive for the 'Cy Young' Category
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.
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.
Tim Lincecum broke out of his slump yesterday, or so we’re told in this piece of puff pastry:
…. The Giants not only won the game, they also captured their third road series of the season. Beyond that, this might be remembered as the day Tim Lincecum took a giant step forward.
Lincecum allowed three runs in seven innings, ending a string of three starts in which he failed to complete six innings. After walking five in each of his previous four starts, he walked two in this 113-pitch no-decision.
“I think he’s pretty close to being back to the Timmy we all know,” catcher Bengie Molina said.
Yeah, the Timmy we all know. Like, the guy who was 5-0 with 80 strikeouts and 10 walks before being told he needed to focus more of his attention on holding the runner on first? That guy? I don’t know, maybe that guy should have been left alone. Just maybe. Because in Lincecum’s five starts since Bochy decided that his pitching staff was allowing too many stolen bases, he’s looked completely lost, as lost as he has since he’s been here. So, maybe, just maybe, Bochy and Righetti should have just left well enough alone.
Zito had his worst game of the year, pretty much at the worst possible time, in a first-place showdown with the surprising San Diego’s. Struggling to find his rhythm the whole game, Zito was embarrassed by his buffoon of a manager, who tried to take him out during the fifth inning after he had gone to 2-0 on Oscar Salazar, with the first ball a wild pitch. Of course, Righetti had just visited the mound prior to the at-bat, so Zito had to finish the hitter. It was a pretty ridiculous sight, really. Out pops Bochy, practically running to the mound, only to be sent back to the dugout by the second base umpire.
Of course, the Chronicle manages to make Bochy’s gaffe seem like it was planned:
…. Zito said his “timing was off tonight. I didn’t have any command of anything.”
That was particularly evident during Oscar Salazar’s fifth-inning at-bat. Zito air-mailed his first pitch to the screen, allowing Yorvit Torrealba to waltz to second. The next pitch was extremely high and outside.
After that pitch, Bochy headed to the mound to check on Zito, but because pitching coach Dave Righetti had conferred with Zito just before Salazar came to the plate, Bochy could not speak with the left-hander. Bochy had to return to the dugout.
“When he threw those two pitches, I was concerned about him,” Bochy said.
Yeah, right. Everyone in the ballpark saw Bochy signal for a relief pitcher. Then again, why not lie to cover up your embarrassing mistake? The GM gets away with it constantly, and the local sports reporters only seem to insist on the truth when they’re harassing the greatest player in baseball history:
…. “The surgery I had was a failure.”
In October, DeRosa had an operation to repair a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, an injury he sustained soon after joining St. Louis in a trade from Cleveland on July 1.
On Tuesday, DeRosa was examined by Giants doctor Gordon Brody and had an MRI exam. The diagnosis, according to DeRosa: “It’s completely ruptured again.”
The article goes on to mention that the Giants are, laughably, hoping that rest will make it all better. Of course, nowhere in the piece is any mention of the criminally bad contract that Sabean so generously gave to the known to be injured DeRosa. Now the team has two $12 million dollar players who cannot play, and a GM who simply does not know what he’s doing:
…. Hot-hitting prospect Buster Posey remains at Triple-A Fresno because Giants officials are not convinced he is ready to catch in the major leagues yet, GM Brian Sabean said.
The longtime GM also stressed that the decision to promote Posey has nothing to do with service-time concerns, nor will it.
“Let me dispel all that, all right?” Sabean said. “When we think Posey’s ready, just like when we thought (Tim) Lincecum was ready, and this starts from ownership, he’ll be in the big leagues. I’ll speak to the Lincecum thing. If we don’t bring up Lincecum, how do you know he’s on his way to winning the two Cy Youngs or more so helping us win 88 games last year? Now, in other places where you don’t have a deeper or more consistent budget, I can buy the strict clock. But we can’t be on a strict clock. Shoot, we’re trying to get back to winning ways and get to the playoffs, and everybody understands it.”
…. Sabean said the 23-year-old is “still learning how to catch. Some of that is game calling. Some of that is the consistency that he’ll need as, we hope, an offensive catcher.”
Besides, Sabean said he doesn’t put much stock into Triple-A statistics.
“Triple-A baseball isn’t very good,” Sabean said. “I’m going to tell you that right now. Especially from a pitching standpoint. Anybody who can pitch is in the big leagues.”
How many ways is this man ridiculous? Posey needs to be more consistent as a hitter? This, from a man who re-signed a catcher who made 450 outs last year. No pitching in Triple-A? Triple-A stats aren’t worth much? Lincecum won two Cy Young Awards because Sabean waited as long as he did to bring him up?
Whatever. Once again, we have a bottom feeder offense, 142 runs scored, and only the dismal performance of the two worst teams in baseball –the barely better than Triple-A Astros and Pirates– keep the Giants from having the worst offense in the game once again.
So, when you hear Sabean talking about anything at all, remember that it’s all bullshit. He’s got one of the wort hitters in all of baseball at just about every position on the diamond, and we’re supposed to listen to him tell us that a guy throwing up a .343/.436/.525 line isn’t hitting enough. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He doesn’t have the slightest idea how to evaluate hitters. He has been selling Giants fans the same bullshit bill of goods for going on fifteen year now. I wrote this eight years ago:
…. Over the last 30 days the Giants offense is DEAD LAST in the National League, meaning it is dead last in all of baseball. This, while Barry Bonds is posting a .565 obp and a .900 slg. Do you have any idea what that means? That means the Giants are even worse than their stats.
I heard the Brian Sabean show yesterday, and he said that he intends to show patience and trust that his hitters are going to start hitting. You know what Ray, that’s the single stupidest thing I have ever heard Brian say. You’ve got Marvin Benard taking swings in the last of the 8th in a one run game, and you’re telling me that I am supposed to trust that he’s gonna come around? Shawon Dunston has a spot on our bench? Damon Minor? Reggie Sanders? Sanders’ lifetime BA is .263, last year he was about 30% more productive than in ANY YEAR OF HIS LIFE.
…. which is more than you could say about JT Snow. There is nothing masking the fact that he is one of the most unproductive major leaguers drawing a salary. He is an out-maker, simple as that, and he gives nothing back for all of the outs he eats. Don’t talk to me about how many games he saves with his glove, that’s pure hyperbole. Bill James and a whole slew of baseball analysts have done reams of research into run prevention, and JT’s defense is worth maybe five runs a year, let alone five wins.
Eight years later, and the Giants are still comprised of one good hitter and bunch of out-makers. They’re still old. They are still slow. They are still injury-prone. The GM has signed more ancient mariners to more bad contracts, and the team is still just as boring and still barely competitive.
That’s the title of Grant’s latest post, over at McCovey’s Chronicles. First, let me say that I am a huge fan of Grant’s work. His site is simply terrific, and his writing is first rate. That said, he’s wrong here. It’s a reasonable position, but it is clearly wrong:
…. When Shane Victorino walked in the ninth inning, the Giants still had a 96.8% chance of winning the game. That’s assuming average players across the board of course – there’s no way to tweak the formula to account for Tim Lincecum or the ridiculous heart of the Phillies order. But even factoring those things in wouldn’t make a big difference. When a team has a three-run lead with one out in the ninth inning, that team wins about 95 times out of 100, whether it’s a tired starting pitcher, an All-Star closer, or a tub of slurry trying to close out the game.
…. when Lincecum got under four straight fastballs and walked a weenie he’d effortlessly dispatched all day, I wasn’t really worried about the game yet. I wanted him out of the game because he’s still a young pitcher. There’s no need to push him in that situation if you think he’s fatigued in any way. You don’t want a tired Tim Lincecum struggling through a 12-pitch at bat to Chase Utley in a game that’s almost impossible to lose.
That’s Grant’s argument. Bochy made the right move, because there wasn’t a wrong move. Protect the lead, protect the pitcher. The chances of losing are so slim, it doesn’t matter what you do.
That’s not correct. In fact, that’s not even relevant.
What matters here is the indecisive, unclear, thoughtless, “everybody does it this way,” stupidity involved in how our manager handled the closing innings of yesterday’s horrible loss.
Up to the bottom of the eighth inning, the Giants had completely outplayed the Phillies in every way. We’d banged their ace around, won with our worst starting pitcher, out-hit them, out-pitched them, out-hustled them…. in every way possible, the Giants had opened up a can of whoop-ass on the two-time, defending National League Champions. How badly had we outplayed them? Glad you asked. At the end of the eighth inning on Wednesday, the Giants and the Phillies had played 26 innings. Here’s what the important stats looked like at that point:
Giants hitters 15 Runs Scored 35 hits 21 SO
Phillies hitters 4 Runs Scored 13 hits 29 SO
Are you looking at that? Three times as many hits, more than three times as any runs scored…. I mean, we were kicking their ass.
So, at the start of the bottom of the eighth inning, if you are the manager of the Giants, you have to ask yourself, how do I handle the end of the game? How do I handle the last three outs for each team? Lincecum is gonna be up second. If somebody gets on, you either pinch hit, or have Lincecum bunt. If you pinch hit, you have already made the choice. If you let him sacrifice, you leave your options open. Seems like an easy choice, once the leadoff man gets on, right? Leave your options open. Right?
Wrong. Let’s take it a step further. The whole reason you’re facing a tough decision is because you want to protect your ace as well as protect the lead. So, what happens after Lincecum sacrifices? What happens if the Giants put together a couple of decent at-bats, and end up adding a run or two? Pitching changes, hits, walks, runs scoring…. these things take time. It is this element of the analysis that is being conveniently forgotten in the rush to defend Bochy for this supposed once in a season type of loss.
If Lincecum and the Giants are successful during that eighth inning, then using Lincecum is a mistake, NO MATTER HOW TIRED HE MAY OR MAY NOT BE. If the question is whether to use a possibly tired young pitcher, then you absolutely have to ask yourself what happens if you are successful, and what happens if you are not. If you use a possibly tired Lincecum and nobody gets on, and the Giants don’t score, you’ve wasted an out in a critical late inning. If you use him, and the Giants do score, it’s gonna take some time, and you’re not gonna be able to send him out for the ninth anyway.
Why bring Lincecum out for the ninth if you’re not gonna let him go for at least a run allowed? Four pitch walk? Whatever. Who cares. These are questions you ask after you lose. Why have Wilson start the inning from the stretch? WHO CARES!?!
This series was shaping up to be a season starter, an inspirational, team-rallying, “WE JUST BEAT THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF THE TWO-TIME DEFENDING NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPS!!!” kind of series. And our manager sleepwalked through “the book,” and did what he was supposed to do, *yawn* just like all baseball lifers are supposed to do.
That was his mistake. That’s why he was wrong to handle it the way he did. He acted like it was just any old win, “Sure, Lincecum could move into the front-runner’s spot for the Cy Young Award again,” “Sure we could sweep the best team in the NL two years running, but remember, it’s a long season,” blah blah blah.
WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.
After four seasons of worthless, third and fourth place, worst offense in the league, almost no reason to care at all baseball, this team –and it’s fans, by the way– have been waiting for a season-defining moment, dreaming for a chance to show the league that they don’t just have enough pitching, that they’re coming at you game after game, with everything they have, all season long. You know, like the fucking gamers we’re endlessly told the Giants are.
Instead, their manager handled this game like he handles every game. Like he was in a coma. No urgency, no imagination, no cutting edge approach, no nothing. Because he’s asleep at the wheel, just like the GM, just like the owners. The Giants win in spite of the leadership, or lack, thereof, demonstrated by these men. And fans are subjected to more excuses, lies, and bullshit.
10 runs in their last six games ain’t gonna cut it, even when your pitchers allow only 12. That’s where the Giants live, a land in which every run is twice as valuable as it should be, a land where a three run lead is as rare as a white rhino.
In the NL, over the last seven days, there are 5 teams that posted an ERA under 3.00 ERA. Every one of those teams had a winning record except for the Giants, who went 1-5 while posting a staggering 2.08 ERA. That’s hard to do, but, then again, so is losing a game in which you allow only one hit.
Sabean should be fired today. Now. He went out and spent money, again, he went out and built this team of bench players, has-beens and never was players. Millions upon millions of dollars.
As I said six months ago, the Giants could have re-signed Uribe, brought up Posey, and landed Matt Holliday for the same money –without trading a top prospect, I might add– they threw on the ground to bring Aubrey Huff, Mark DeRosa, and Freddie Sanchez to the Bay Area. Anyone think this lineup is better than that one might have been?
Our entire pitching staff has been a Cy Young candidate so far this season, and we’re two games over .500. You know who has allowed the fewest runs in all of baseball? The Giants. They’ve allowed 53 runs. They have the fourth best record in the NL, and the eighth best record in baseball. The Tampa Bay Rays have allowed the fewest runs in the AL, 63. And they are 14-5, best in the land.
Gee, I wonder why?
As in, a hitter with a .300 batting average is usually going to be considered for the All Star team. Barry Zito won his 30th game as a Giant last night…. in his 100th start. A .300 batting average for a pitcher is nowhere near an All Star. Consider Lincecum, who is an All Star. He’s won 42 games in his 92 starts, which would translate to a .456 batting average using this obscenely simple metric.
Chris Carpenter would be a better comp for Zito. Carpenter has started 262 games in his career, and won 118 of them. That translates into a .450 batting average, again, a powerful winning percentage. Or, you could look at what Zito did as an Athletic. 222 starts, 102 wins, a .450 batting average. Which means, obvioulsy, that Zito, as a Giant, has been unremarkable at best, and a tremendous disappointment at his worst.
That said, he’s now 2-0 for the first time in his Giants career, and he has pitched well this season out the gate; the two wins aren’t especially fluky. The Giants continue their torrid offense, now Sandoval and Molina are raking, although Renteria has come crashing back to earth (0 for his last 10). Huff reached base all five time last night, (that’s eight straight plate appearances reaching base), and the relief pitching last night was stellar. Romo was especially sharp, his two strikeouts last night were simply filthy.
Speaking of Lincecum, Sunday night was the 20th time he’s struck out at least 10. Henry Schulman looked up who’s struck out that many batters in their first 100 starts, and found a pretty damn impressive list:
1. Dwight Gooden (31)
2. Herb Score (25)
3. Kerry Wood (23)
T4. Mark Prior (21)
T4. Hideo Nomo (21)
T6. Tim Lincecum (20) — (in 92 games, not 100)
T6. Bob Feller (20)
T8. Roger Clemens (19)
T11. Randy Johnson (16)
T14. Nolan Ryan (14)
He has a realistic shot to get into the top three, but no chance to catch Dwight Gooden.
I was living in Manhattan when Gooden exploded onto the baseball scene as a 19-year old fireballer. His 1985 season ranks as one of the top five pitching performances in the modern era, and he was 20 years old. It ranks as one of the greatest season a 20 year old has ever put together, if not the greatest. As great as Lincecum has been, (and he has ben spectacular) I can safely say Gooden was better, (before he became a coke fiend, obviously).
Nice job, Brian Wilson. Way to pick up the useless Medders.
Fantastic job by Lincecum, who picked up where he left off last season. Terrific start to the season.
UPDATE: 3-0 start for the Giants. I don’t know whether the Giants are awesome or the Astros are awful. Nonetheless, Renteria tied a career=high with 5 hits, Rowand came out of his mini-slump, and the team pounded out 19 hits and 10 runs.
All in all, as good a start to the season as anyone could have hoped/wished for/dreamed of.
Here’s what quality, well-run teams do when they realize that they have a once-in-a-generation player:
…. AL MVP Joe Mauer has agreed to an eight-year, $184 million contract extension to stay with the Minnesota Twins.
The deal announced Sunday covers the 2011-2018 seasons and includes a full no-trade clause. It’s the culmination of a months-long negotiation between the Twins and their hometown star.
Mauer has won three AL batting titles and an MVP award. He is considered one of the best defensive catchers in the game. Last year he hit .365 with 28 home runs and 96 RBIs to help the Twins win the AL Central division.
That’s how you handle a once-in-a-generation talent. Teams that are run by real general managers, and owned by real men who know what the hell they are doing, understand this.
The Giants, on the other hand, spread rumors and innuendo about the physical limitations of their once-in-a-generation players, making it clear that they don’t trust them, and that they prefer to fuck them around for years, instead of locking them up.