Archive for the 'World Series' Category
Wow. What a disaster of a season. Last place, 19.5 games behind the Dodgers, the Giants are on pace to have one of the worst seasons a defending champion has ever had. They've scored the third fewest runs, and allowed the third most. Talk about a complete fail by virtually every member of the team. I don't remember the last time a champ has looked this bad for this long. What a terrible defense of such a thrilling title.
Special thanks to Pablo Sandoval, who pretty much guaranteed he'd be worthless by showing up to camp roughly 50 pounds overweight. Way to be a leader, Panda.
Matt Cain has just allowed 9 hits and 7 runs in the bottom of the third inning at St. Louis this morning. So, for the fourth time in their last five games, a Giants starter cannot hold the opposition below 4 runs. Over the team's last 11 road games, they've allowed 10, 11, 6, 10, 10, 5, 4, 6, 9, and now 7 in what is now the fifth inning.
Not much more to say. Whatever is going on appears to be happening to every pitcher at the same time. I stand by my earlier post; either the league has figured out what the Giants overall pitching approach is, or every pitcher on the team spent the entire off-season watching highlights of their title parade and eating Taco Bell.
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.
Sorry for the lack of posts.
As the SF Giants head into their defense of last year's World Championship, I've been paying attention on the periphery, as work and family have kept me on my toes. I'm happy to see Brandon Belt looking like he's ready for a breakout season. He could help alleviate some of the drop off that's expected from players like Scutaro, who can't possibly repeat last seasons scorching .360 batting average as a Giant.
But reading today's little piece about Pablo Sandoval “accepting” his body weight for the next couple of seasons makes me more than a little worried:
…. Pablo Sandoval came to San Francisco Giants camp fat this year, like he does pretty much every year, because there are two truths about Pablo Sandoval, and one of them is he does not do skinny.
The other is that he's a remarkable hitter, preternaturally gifted like only a handful of players, maybe less. At 5-foot-11 (give or take – no, take – two inches) and 262 pounds (give or take – no, give – 20 pounds), Sandoval hits everything everywhere anytime anywhere. If anyone in baseball today is going to stroke a single off a pitch that bounces before it reaches home plate, it's him.
…. “I've got this year and next year to change all the things,” Sandoval said. “It's going to take me a while, but I can do it. I know I can do it. You need to learn. You need to grow up. You need to step up and know the difference between what you can do and what you can't.”
Yeah, well, I'm a bit skeptical. As the article points out, Pablo's missed at least 45 games each of the last two seasons, and whether you think the weight is the reason or not, allowing yourself to just walk around 40 pounds overweight all the time…. as a professional athlete, that's just something Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy must be concerned about.
You're talking about defending a championship, every team in the league is coming after you. After what happened in 2011, everyone associated with the Giants has to be thinking about heading into the season with a different attitude. Roll with it might work when you're trying to win a title, it doesn't work when you're defending it.
Hat Tip to Baseball Musings
Anybody else notice that the Giants are in nobody's 2013 preview as champs? Ummm, excuse me, but the Giants are not only the defending champs, they have won it all two of the last three years.
Yay, the Dodgers spend a lot of money. What-
Let me make some predictions:
1. The Dodgers finish second in
the NL West
2. The Padres finish below .500
3. The Yankees fail to make the playoffs
4. The Giants make the playoffs, but lose in the NLCS
You cannot buy a championship. No matter how much money you spend. The Giants are poised to repeat, barring all of the complications that follow all teams as they try to repeat. Posey should be better this season.
So should Lincecum.
So should Belt.
Cain could be better.
Where is Gary Brown?
Regardless, the SF Giants are the preseason favorites to win it all in 2013.
Win tonight. Finish the Tigers off. Don't give them any chance to breathe.
Get the lead, pitch your ass off, and finish them off.
UPDATE: 3-3 game, one out, top of the 7th, runner on second, lefty coming in a
gainst the left-handed Crawford. This is a great time to pinch hit Arias for Crawford.
UPDATE: I said it was a mistake, and it was.
UPDATE: I'd also mention,
it's time to pull Cain.
The SF Giants
are one win from another World Series title, after a
second 2-0 win in a row against the Detroit Tigers!!!
The Giants win Game Two, 2-0, after allowing only two hits
against the vaunted Tigers lineup. Halfway home!!!
UPDATE: Verducci :
…. Since San Francisco faced elimination against St. Louis in the NLCS, down three games to one, it has run off five consecutive wins in which it has outscored the Cardinals and Tigers 30-4 while committing only one error, never trailing at any point in 45 consecutive innings, and holding opposing hitters to a .181 batting average. Its starting pitchers in this run are 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA while allowing only six walks in 33 innings.
UPDATE: So does Tim Flannery:
…. The Giants can't explain what's happening. So they're not even going to try. They have won big, slugging their
way into history. They've won small, with bunts that come to a screeching halt just millimeters fair. They've won with exquisite baseball fundamentals, like the backup cutoff man being in perfect position. They've won with weird hops and triple-hits that even seasoned baseball players dub “magic.” They've won on the verge of elimination. And by jumping out to a commanding 2-0 World Series lead.
Who can figure it out? The best advice comes from team spiritual adviser and runner-sender Tim Flannery.
“As the great Carlos Santana – the guitar player, not the catcher – told us in 2010,” third base coach Flannery recalled, “you've got to know when to get out of the way of yourself.”
I couldn't have said it better. I love the concept of becoming invisible. That is the way to be totally committed to what you are doing. Disappear. It's harder than it sounds.
Three home runs in his first three at bats puts Pablo Sandoval in elite, rare company. He put the team on his shoulders, Barry Zito put the Tigers to sleep, and the Giants continued their improbable run, demolishing Detroit and the “best pitcher on the planet” 8-3 in Game One.
What is there to say? Sandoval hit his first home run on an 0-2 shoulder high fastball. Verlander hadn't given up a home run on an 0-2 pitch all season. On the second, all Verlander could do was say “wow.” As for the rest of his at bats, let's
just say that the hardest Sandoval hit the ball all night was probably the screaming line drive
single in his fourth at bat.
As for Zito, I just added a Barry Zito category, because he is doing what they said can't be done. For that matter, I said it too. Good for him. Good for the Giants. Tigers are on their heels.