Monday, May 31, 2010

The duel that wasn't

This one had all the makings of a classic pitcher's duel.  We expected no offense,  we expected a lot of strikeouts, and we expected someone would get their second loss of the season.

The Giants struck out a lot, had no offense, and the Franchise got his second loss of the season.  As for his end of end of the "duel" Timmy gave up 4 runs (3 earned) in 5 2/3 innings.  Not exactly "duel" stuff.  The Giants barely scraped together 4 hits, well Pablo Sandoval scraped out  3 hits and the rest of the Giants scraped out 1 hit.  Thank you Freddy Sanchez.  To be fair, I'm surprised they got any hits.  UbaldoJimenez is on the verge of an historic season.  I don't remember seeing a guy who could throw 99 MPH on the black with one pitch and then throw an 86 MPH splitter that drops 3 feet on the next pitch.  Randy Johnson in his prime maybe but he would have walked 5 guys to go along with the 9 k's that Jimenez threw up today.  If the Rockies score runs for him, the fact that they didn't in one game is the only reason he even has one loss, this guy could win 25 games this season.  Jimenez is single-handedly the reason that the Rockies are a half a game behind the Giants.  The Rocks have 27 wins and Jimenez has 10 of them!

Jimenez was amazing today.  Freddy Sanchez, who actually got a hit off of him, looked surprised every time he got an off speed pitch, the called strike 3 that Juan Uribe took in the second inning was unhittable even if he was Albert Pujols, and I swear that I could see Posey, The Savior, say "Wow!" after the first pitch Jimenez threw him was a 99 MPH heater right down the heart of the plate.  If Tim Lincecum wants to 3peat as the Cy Young award winner he needs to throw at least 2 no-hitters this season just to get back in the race.

As for Timmy.  Sure there is something wrong with him.  I'm sure it's something in his mechanics and that he will figure out eventually.  All of this tinkering they are doing with him to try to hold baserunners is screwing with him I think.  He was sailing along in the first and then he gave up the walk to Tulowitzki to lead off the second and he seemed to have problems from the stretch.  I'm not sure why they even bothered working with him on a slidestep because he sure didn't look like he was doing much sliding to me.  But he will be fine.  Remember, he started the season off rough last year and found out that he was landing like 2 inches off or something and said he would be fine after that and his next start he was lights out.

The Panda is ready to go on one of those tears where it seems like he gets at least 2 hits in every single game.  In order to get 3 hits off Baldy the way he was dealing today he had to be dialed in.  The numbers over the last few games actually support that since he has had hits in 6 of his last 8 games and in 3 of his last 4 games he has put together multi-hit performances.  With Freddy Sanchez swinging it pretty good in front of him the rest of the rest of this series is very winnable with Jason Hammel and Jeff Francis going in the next 2 games.

The Savior went 0 for 3 by the way and I hate that I even have to think it but he may sit tomorrow.  I have gone from someone who defended Bochy last season to someone who thinks that, at the very least, Bochy just doesn't know how to set up his young players for success.  Aaron Rowand should be nowhere near a starting job at this point and Nate Schierholtz at the very least earned another start with his glove alone yesterday (see yesterday's post).  But Rowand was in there again and struck out twice again and then for some reason came out after 2 ABs and the team only down by 4 runs.  Then Bochy inexplicably put John Bowker in there instead of Nate.  Sure Bowker needs some ABs but so does Nate and he has proven to be more valuable to the team than Johnny B. 

The Nate report:

Since I pretty much did the Nate report in the last paragraph, I will fill you in on the guy who will probably be pushing Nate even further down the depth chart very soon, Pat Burrell.  Pat the Bat was 1 for 2 with a a double, a walk, a strikeout, and a HBP.  He also drove in 2 runs and scored 2 runs.  I expect him to be in San Francisco by Friday and he will probably start in right or in  left if Posey goes Oh fer again tomorrow with Huff going back to first.  I know they said he will come off the bench but I just won't believe that until I see it.

Posey, Burrell are each making some noise.

Maybe this kid is the savior?

Buster Posey had 3 more hits today against Ian Kennedy who, in case you forgot, held the Giants to 3 hits over 8 innings 11 days ago.  Two of those were doubles so he actually improved over last night in the power department.  But he only drove in 1 run and his average dropped from .750 to .667.  I guess this kid will never make it.

Obviously I'm joking.  It sure is nice to see someone actually making some things happen for the Giants.  Over the last few weeks leading up to this homestand it seemed that every player on the Giants was just kind of taking things as they came. Nobody went out there and took control of things, well except maybe Andres Torres who I keep expecting to turn into Eugenio Velez any day now.  Posey is doing that.  What a story this kid could be if he really does stick with the big club and reignites this offense.  This club has always been lacking the big hit.  Not necessarily a homerun but something as simple as a 2 out RBI of which Buster had another today.  I'm trying to not get too excited in case this kid comes back to earth but nothing he has done at any level he has played at indicates that he will.  Tomorrow is his biggest test yet against Mr. Ubaldo Jimenez who is trying to replace the Freak as the Cy Young award winner in the NL.

In other news, Pat Burrell went 2 for 5 with a HR and 2 RBI for the Fresno Grizzlies today.  This means one of two things: 1. Brian Sabean is right about the quality of pitchers in the PCL or 2. Pat the Bat is getting ready for a comeback story with his hometown team.  I find it highly unlikely that Burrell is going to lead the Giants to the playoffs by single-handedly transforming the Giants into a feared offense.  Playing at AT&T usually lowers the power numbers of anyone not named Bonds but more troubling is his career .253 average.  The last thing this team needs is another .250 hitter who will be just another easy out while the Giants are getting one hit by some middle of the rotation guy. 

Now I'm not saying that Burrell wasn't a safe gamble in case he can magically find his stroke.  I just wonder what guy with potential gets the shaft once this guy gets called up to the big club.  Mr. Schierholtz and Mr. Ishikawa I'm looking at you!  I don't believe that Bochy will let this guy come off the bench.  I believe he will start.  What proof do I have?  Look at all the ABs Aaron Rowand gets.  His career numbers are just like Pat Burrell's with less power and a better glove.  Although, to be fair, Rowand never batted .209 or .221 in a season in which he was given 400 plus ABs.

I'm also starting what I'm going to call the Nate watch.  It's where I will break down the contributions that Nate Schierholtz makes for the team whether he hits or not.  It's called the Nate watch instead of the Schierholtz watch cuz I don't want to type Schierholtz over and over!

Today Nate went 0 for 4 with a walk and a strikeout.  Not much to write home about offensively but he has been hurt and hasn't been allowed to play consistently since he has been declared healthy.  Nate was however responsible for the two most crucial plays of the game.  In the top of the 7th with the game tied 2-2 Adam Laroche drew a walk and Gerardo Parra hit a one-out single to right.  Nate got the ball in to Freddy Sanchez who gunned down Laroche at 3rd.  The next batter, Chris Snyder, singled to left which would have scored Laroche had he still been on 3rd.  In the 9th inning Kelly Johnson singled to right .  This time it was Ryan Roberts who got thrown out at third.  The next batter, Justin Upton hit a double that scored Johnson.  Which would have also scored Roberts and made the score 7-4 at that point.  Since the Giants only scored 6 runs today I would have to say that Mr. Nate was the difference in the game today. 

That's something that none of the coverage I saw of the game even gave more than a passing mention to.  The most I saw was "Almost lost in the valiant comeback were the solid defensive efforts of right fielder Nate Schierholtz (two outfield assists) and Sanchez who, in the sixth inning, threw out Arizona's Kelly Johnson after Johnson tried to stretch a ball that ricocheted off first baseman Buster Posey into a double."  Even when they did mention it Sanchez's play got more credit than Nate!

Do you really think that John Bowker, or Andres Torres, or even Pat Burrell makes those 2 plays?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Posey Time

The savior has arrived!

At least that's what the people posting on the Giants message boards will be saying this morning.  I would have to say that by looking at last night's performance they would be correct.  His first game of the season the Giants put a 12 - 1 whooping on the D-backs!

Sure the Giants were probably energized by the arrival of their highly touted prospect, probably their most highly touted prospect since Matt Williams.  He definitely didn't disappoint.  The guy hops on a morning flight from Salt Lake City, puts on his cape, and throws his SF on his chest and goes 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs.  Impressive to be sure but this game needs to be put into context.

Arizona's starter, Billy Buckner, came into last nights game with a BA against of .361 and an ERA over 9.00!  The other excuses for pitchers that the Dbacks trotted out last night weren't much better.  A look at this morning's box score shows that Valdez's ERA is 6.32, Rivera's is 22.09!, and Vasquez was actually the best pitcher that they used last night with the stellar 5.06 ERA.  Look, I'm not saying that Posey isn't going to be good, but we need to not get ahead of ourselves and think he's gonna hit .750 for the rest of his career.  He's going to go through his struggles and we just will have to stick with him through them.  Provided he is allowed to go through though struggles in SF and not in Fresno as the Giants brass has been hinting.

One troubling development of Posey's arrival is the benching of Nate Schierholtz.  Every game that Nate is not in the starting lineup is a crime to Giants fans.  Nate is the only player in the Giants lineup who can change the game even when he is not hitting.  He is easily the best defender we have and he has shown the ability to hit close to .300 at every level he has played at including the majors.  His career average is .285 and the guy only gets to play for about a week at a time.

Andres Torres has definitely earned his starting spot in the lineup but Aaron Rowand has not.  Sure the guy has a hot streak each season for a week or two and nobody questions his heart or his toughness..  But he just isn't an every day major leaguer at this point in his career as his 3 strikeouts last night plainly showed.  the bottom line on Rowand is he had two above average seasons out of his 10 in the majors.  His best season, 2007, came in the extremely hitter friendly ballpark in Philadelphia.  His average season is .278 BA, 12.6 HRs, and 50 RBIs.  But if you subtract his 2 career years from 2004 and 2007 which he averaged  .309, 25.5 HRs and 76 RBIs,then he averages .266 BA, 8 HRs, and 55 RBIs a season over the 8 other seasons he has played.  What's the point of all of this?   There is nothing in his career with the exception of 2 anomalous seasons in ballparks that were not AT&T park that would suggest that even if he breaks out of his current slump that he would produce even close to what Nate Schierholtz has been producing,  Now power-wise Schierholtz is probably a wash with Rowand but he is clearly superior in his ability to get on base and create runs.  Heck he will even steal you a base every now and then.

One last interesting note from last night's game.

2 players had 2 out RBIs last night.  Which is something that the Giants have been struggling with all season.  Those players?  Denny Bautista and Buster Posey.