Monday, October 27, 2003
The Hot Stove Celebration® continues with a look at potential catchers for the 2004 Giants.
I promised myself I would not use this opportunity to rip Benito Santiago for his declining defensive skills. Nor will I trash him for his poor post All-Star break performance, or even bemoan him for publicly demanding a 3 year contract extension during Spring Training. Instead, let’s look back at one of the great games in modern Giants history as we bid farewell to Benny.
2002 NLCS Game 4. The Cards took Game 3 and were riding a wave of momentum into Game 4. That night’s starting pitcher for the Giants, Augustus Gloop, got off to a rocky start (surprise!) and the Giants were quickly in a 2-0 hole. The middle innings are all a blur and are a minor footnote to the story anyway. The game was 2-2 and headed into the bottom of the eighth. With two outs and the bases empty, Tony LaRussa intentionally walked Barry Bonds, setting the stage for the single coolest baseball moment I’ve witnessed in person.
Benito Santiago was able to work the count to 3-2 against Rick White. I remember thinking to myself that if Benito could drive a ball into the gap Bonds could score the go ahead run, since Barry would be running on the payoff pitch.
And drive the ball Benito did. It was a towering fly ball to left field. It was such a high, majestic shot that I didn’t know if it had enough distance to cut through the cool October evening and land in the homerun Promise land. So, I began channeling Carlton Fisk; only I was trying to wave the ball over the fence instead of waving it fair. As the ball took off I began screaming, trying to push the ball into the stands with shear power of my voice. And my pair of bright orange Thunderstix®.
“GET OUTTA HERE! GET OUTTA HERE!”
For a brief moment the overhang made the ball disappear from sight, so I gazed out at Cardinals left fielder Eli Marrero. He kept drifting back until he reached the wall. He looked up and watched the ball land in the bleachers. The Giants were headed to the World Series.
Ahh…those were the days. Back to reality, let’s look at the rundown of available catchers.
* Yorvit Torrealba
In all likelihood, Torrealba will be the Giants Opening Day catcher. I’ll pretend to be an expert on defensive mechanics and say that Torrealba looks great defensively behind the dish. He doesn’t hit a whole lot, but that’s acceptable given his defense and his low salary.
I think the Giants will bring in another catcher to split duties with Torrealba.
* Brent Mayne
The Royals did not exercise Mayne’s 2004 option, making him a free agent. Mayne is on the downside of his career and his 2003 splits of .245/.307/.344 were all below his career averages. He is still regarded as a decent defensive player and could probably be had cheaply.
* Ramon Castro, Mike Redmond
The Marlins are expected to re-sign Ivan Rodriguez, meaning they’ll look to move at least one of their back up catchers. Redmond has a big platoon split - he hits lefties well but struggles against righties. Sound familiar? The Giants don’t need another lefty masher, they need someone who can hit righties.
Castro has some fairly impressive minor league numbers including a .336 27 HR year in 2001 at age 25. As always, the usual PCL offensive disclaimers apply.
* AJ Pierzynski
He may be on the move due to the combination of hot shot catching prospect Joe Mauer and the cheapness of Twins owner Carl Pohlad. I think the Giants will be more in the market for an inexpensive player who will split duties with Torrealba. Pierzynski is arbitration eligible and is due for a sizable raise. I could see Pierzynski being traded to the Pod People.
More Rightfield Ramblings
Sheffield - I overlooked an important dynamic in Gary Sheffield’s impending free agency. Sheffield fired his agent, Scott Boras, and to my knowledge has not hired a new agent, meaning Sheffield will aparently represent himself in contract negotiations. Prediction: teams that try to negotiate with Sheffield early on will lose patience with his high contract demands and move on to target one of the many other RFers on the market.
Also, I’m having trouble coming up with teams that will be in the running for Sheffield. The Braves may try to re-sign him. There are so many rumors flying out of Yankeeville, its tough to keep up with all of them, but their new RF could be anyone from Alfonso Soriano to Sheffield to Bernie Williams to Vlad. The Orioles and Indians will have some room to spend money this offseason, but they’re still rebuilding and are unlikely to spend piles of money on a 35 year old. The Padres, Phillies, and Angels will also be major players in this year’s free agent extravaganza, but those teams are all set in the outfield. The Mets? The D-Rays? I’m stumped.
JD Drew - the more I think about it, the more I believe that Drew will not be back with the Cardinals next year. The Cards already have a very prolific offense and will likely use their financial resources on pitching. As I mentioned in post in September, Tony LaRussa has so little confidence in his bullpen that he actually used Woody Williams out of the pen to try and close a game against the Cubs. Rather than spending $5MM on an arbitration eligible Drew, I think the Cards will go with a cheap RF platoon and spend money on the LaTroy Hawkinses of the world.
Dots O’ Three
More fearless predictions – Tim Worrell and Keith Foulke sign with the Phillies. Tejada signs with the Angels, little Marsui signs with the Mariners…
I was the winner of the Giants bloggers MLB playoff pool. Instead of pointing out that I incorrectly picked the eventual World Champs to lose to the Giants, I’d like to take a moment to bask in blogging glory and declare myself to be the MLB Post Season Prognosticating Clutch God ™.
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
The 1B pickins are relatively slim but here’s a rundown of potential 2004 Giants 1B.
* Richie Sexson
Sexson will be the subject of many a trade rumor this offseason, as the Brewers are looking to dump payroll. His $8MM salary is probably too much for the Giants (and if SF spends $8MM on a player it would make more sense to just spend that on a free agent and not give up prospects). Now, would the Brewers be willing to trade Sexson and eat some of his salary? Under normal circumstances, I’d say no. However, considering the fact that Gord Ash is a member of the Brewers front office, the circumstances are anything but normal. Then again, Ash is just the assistant GM. This one’s a longshot.
* Randal Simon
Neifi Perez and Marquis Grissom will have to teach him a thing or two about plate discipline.
* Doug Mientkeiwerniwf^netcz
Minnesota may look to trade or even non-tender him this offseason. The Twins have uber prospect Justin Morneau waiting in the wings, so that could make Mienkhtwqietfciefz expendable. This would be a great pickup for the Giants.
Mientkewoefjodnweif is .279/.371/.415 for his career. A first baseman with a decent average, a good OBP, limited power and a reputation as an excellent defensive player. He may as well change his name to Snow. I’m hoping he does. That way I won’t have to check Yahoo three times for the correct spelling of Mientkie`hy7wetcxiz'.
* Scott Speizio, Eric Karros
If Pac Bell Park has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that baseballs will float in the Cove for about a minute before sinking. However, its unclear how long dead bodies will float before they sink.
* Nick Johnson
I was a little surprised to see this blurb in a NY paper saying Johnson could be moved after the World Series. Rumor has it that if the Yanks lose to the Marlins, there will be a very thorough house cleaning and Lord Steinbrenner may even make the majority of the off season decisions himself. Johnson would be an excellent pickup for the Giants. Johnson is a very useful player (.284/.422/.472) and he’s not yet arbitration eligible, so he’d be a great value.
Filling the 1B spot cheaply could allow the Giants to spend money on RF. Hmm…a 1-5 of Durham, Johnson, Bonds, Sheffield, Alfonzo is the kind of stuff hot stove dreams are made of.
* Hee Seop Choi
The Cubs may bring back Dusty’s dynamic duo of Karros/Simon for their proven veteranness. If so, Choi will the odd man out. Getting a promising prospect like Choi would be quite a coup for the Giants.
* Andres Galarraga, Pedro Feliz, JT Snow
A lot of Giants fans, and baseball fans for that matter, would really, really like to see the Big Cat return for one final farewell tour. The popular thinking is that Cat will return for 2004 in order to hit his 400th career HR. Despite his age, Galarraga is still quite useful and he reamins one of the great lefty mashers in baseball. Come back, Big Cat!
JT Snow will be a free agent and I could see the Giants bringing him back for one more year for about $1.5-$2MM. Watching the likes of Benito Santiago, Neifi Perez, and Marquis Grissom on a regular basis makes one appreciate Snow’s disciplined approach in the batter’s box.
This list of potential Giants first basemen is full of one year stop-gaps and maybes. So why not bring back a fan favorite, an OBP machine, and a great Giant? I should also point out that Snow has publicly stated that he not only wants to re-sign with SF, but he also wants to finish his career as a Giant.
RF Wrap up
In the last post, I didn’t officially endorse any particular RF for the Giants. This was no accident, as I learned my lesson last year after repeatedly advocating that the Giants sign Jose Cruz, Jr. Needless to say, I was excited when the Giants signed him. By late April, I was so enchanted that I was about ready to start polishing off my resume to try and land a job in baseball (well, not really). Then, suddenly and without warning, the cruel reality known as May, June, July, August, September, and most memorably, and most painfully, October reared its ugly head. Oops.
So, this is in no way an official endorsement, but with a gun at my head, I’d go for broke and sign Sheffield. Mainlly because I can’t think of anything more frustrating than watching the opposing team pitch around Bonds and then watch Benito hit a one pitch GIDP.
Bonds will be walked repeatedly regardless of who bats behind him. What the Giants NEED is a POWER hitter who will make the opposition pay for these walks. Go get ‘em Sabes!
There’s a lot of misinformation and media sensationalism swirling around the BALCO grand jury investigation, so let's clear some things up. Here is what Victor Conte of BALCO is accused of:
According to anonymous, unnamed sources, Conte allegedly sold some, um, vitamins to some athletes and didn’t report the sales as income to the IRS. He then allegedly sent the profits from the vitamin sales to Ollie North who then allegedly used that money to send arms to rebels in Iran. Then, Conte and Ollie North allegedly conspired to send half of the profits from the arms sales to the Contras in Nicaragua. Then Conte allegedly sent the other half of the profits he made from the arms sales to Hillary Clinton who allegedly used that money to buy some cattle futures from Jeffrey Loria. Then, Loria allegedly used that money to buy the Marlins from John Henry, who in turn used the money to buy the Red Sox. This is all a roundabout way of saying that this mess is Seligula’s fault and that the Red Sox will now suffer from the Curse of the Sandanistas. Makes sense to me.
So, as you can plainly see, this whole ordeal is actually much ado about nothing.
Saturday, October 18, 2003
The best money the Giants will spend this offseason will be the 300K they spend to buyout Merkle Cruz, Jr.’s 2004 option. Giants fans will always remember
I’m hoping Merkle stays in the NL so he can hear the wrath of the Pac Bell faithful when he makes his return to SF. Those won’t be “Cruuuz’s” cascading down from the stands. Anyway, let’s look at some other candidates to step through the Giants RF revolving door next year.
* Gary Sheffield
This just makes too much sense for it to actually happen. The Giants need a power hitter to hit behind Bonds. Superman’s best friend in baseball is Gary Sheffield. The Giants have an opening in RF. Sheffield may be willing to take a backloaded contract to play with his buddy. I have the perfect bleacher attire courtesy of a Giants BBQ apron giveaway day at Candlestick. Finding a chef’s hat can’t be that difficult.
Sheffield would also go a long way toward helping the Giants address one of their biggest offensive problems – their inability to hit right handed pitching (as a team they hit .257/.330/.402 against RHP). Sheffield has a bit of a platoon split, but he was still a very solid .327/.410/.535 against righties in 2003 and his career numbers against righties are .295/.398/.524.
He will not resign with the Braves. Why not? Because God hates Sam Hutcheson, which means Sheffield will depart and Merkle Cruz will sign a multi-year contract with the Braves.
* JD Drew
Drew is a possible non-tender by the Cardinals. Drew is an extremely talented player, but he can’t stay healthy to save his baseball life. Drew is almost as good against righties .(306/.390/.534) as Sheffield. However, SBC Telecommunications, Inc. Field (just getting used to it) is murder on lefties not named Barry Bonds. A better way of addressing their lack of offense against right-handed pitching would be to get a righty who hits right handers well (Sheffield).
* Raul Ibanez
The Royals have already announced that they will not be bringing Ibanez back. I remember being impressed with Ibanez during the 4th of July weekend series in 2002 where the Royals played the A’s.
Ibanez put up some pretty decent numbers the last couple of years. .294/.345/.454 with 18HRs and 90 RBI and .319/.371/.485 against righties in 2003. Ibanez had a better 2002 season where he went .294/.346/.537 with 24 HRs and 103 RBI and .300/.363/.582 against righties.
Ibanez did play his home games in the most offensive friendly ballpark in the AL, so lets take a look at his park adjusted numbers. In 2002 (2003 isn’t available yet) his OPS+ (park adjusted OPS where 100 is the league average) was 116. In 2001 it was 112. Not too shabby.
Another park adjusted metric that I trust is Eqa. Ibanez posted an Eqa of .268 in 2003 and .295 in 2002 (.260 being league average). So even after taking park factors into consideration, Ibanez has been an above average offensive player the last couple of seasons. He isn’t as good as his raw numbers would indicate, but he’d be a decent pick up nonetheless.
* Brian Jordan, RonDL White
The good part about acquiring either of them is that when they go on the DL, Todd Linden will get a chance to fine tune his skills in the big leagues.
Raul Mondesi, Carl Everett, and Jose Guillen are all considered clubhouse nightmares. I could care less about clubhouse dynamics, but the Giants front office puts a lot of stock into chemistry, so I think any one of these three would be a long shot. Shannon Stewart (.307/.364/.459, 13 HRs and 73 RBI) would be a good fit, but the fact that he played over his head the final couple of months of the season will likely drive up his asking price.
Another option would be to sign a CF and shift either him or Grissom to RF. Mike Cameron is a spectacular defensive player and an underrated offensive player. His raw numbers are hurt by playing in the pitcher friendly Safeco Field, so let’s look at his park adjusted numbers. Cameron’s OPS+ was 114 for 2002 and 124 for 2001. His Eqa. was .278 in 2003 and .293 in 2002. He’d be a great pick up. I’m a Kenny Lofton fan and I think he’d be a great value assuming the Giants also add a power bat at 1B or SS.
* Jeffrey Hammonds, Pedro Feliz
Both of them outplayed Cruz the second half of the season and they could be a decent stop-gap if the Giants chose to spend their available money on other positions.
Feliz had 16HR and 48 RBI in only 235ABs this year. I was about to point out that projecting Feliz’s 2003 numbers over a full season, he’d have 35+ HR and 100+ RBI, but then I realized that if I mentioned that, the sample size police would quickly issue a warrant for my arrest. And besides, Feliz still has two major flaws in his game: 1)His inability to hit breaking pitches and 2)His lack of plate discipline.
I can live with a Hammonds/Feliz/Linden combination in RF if the Giants upgrade at 1B and SS. In the next post, we’ll look at 1B options for 2004.
The Postseason Experience Myth
I’ve always suspected that the theory that players with previous post season experience perform better in the playoffs than players lacking post season experience is a bunch of hooey. Michael Wolverton of Baseball Prospectus wrote an excellent column debunking the post season experience myth. He found that players lacking post season experience actually perform better in October than players with playoff experience.
Anecdotally, any fan of the 2003 Giants can state that playoff experience certainly didn’t help them one damn bit in the series against the Marlins. Take the Marquis St. Everhack for example (painful flashback alert!). Grissom had started more post season games in his career than anyone else in that series, yet he made the biggest mental error of the entire series. In game three, he was already in scoring position with the hottest hitter on the Giants in the batter’s box. Grissom thought that situation would be a good time to set the new Giants post season baserunning brain fart record by trying to steal third. On Pudge Rodriguez. Needless to say, not a good idea.
Three Dot DuJour
Fearless offseason predictions: Sidney Ponson re-signs with Baltimore. Damian Moss is non-tendered and re-signs with the Braves. I re-sign with my therapist…
Some sad news from LA – Uncle Rupy finally sold the LA Dodgers, thus ending one of the great ownership reigns in modern baseball history (from a Giants fan’s perspective). The spotlight has now turned to LA’s new owner, Frank McCourt. The only thing we know for certain about the Fodgers new owner is that he did not write Angela’s Ashes. Of course that didn’t stop a local asshat with a pen, TJ Simers, from taking to the airwaves this week and declaring that McCourt will be a “Steinbrenner without the Visa Card;” in other words a control freak who won’t spend money. TJ Simers blows more smoke than a Phish groupie, but now would be a great time for him to actually be right about something…
I’m coming to terms with another Giants post season loss and I’ve switched into semi-optimist mode. I can’t wait for Spring Training and the first week of the season. The first couple of weeks of 2004 could bring us HR #660, HR #661, and HR #400 (Big Cat, please come back!), not to mention the return of Robb Nen. Buck up Giants fans, we’re only a few months away from Opening Day, yet nearly a full year away from the Giants annual late season meltdown.
Monday, October 13, 2003
As part of the Hot Stove celebration, I’ve given the site another minor facelift. Plastic surgery really is addictive. Anyway, the site now has a testimonials section, as well as a quote du jour from baseball's most eloquent stars. I basically ripped off the testimonial idea from Larry Mahnken’s Replacement Level Yankee Weblog. That site is one of the coolest baseball sites out there and I want to be like the cool kids.
I’ve also added links to two new Giants weblogs – Class or the Game? and Wrigleyville Giant.
Speaking of make overs, over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting rampant speculation about the Giants offseason moves. So lets fire up the Hot Stove!
The Giants already have 9 veterans under contract for next year for about $60MM. The payroll next year will be approximately $75MM.
Courtesy of Joe Roderick of the Contra Costa Times, here are the salaries of the 9 Giants under contract for next year. Barry Bonds $16MM, Ray Durham $7.2, Edgardo Alfonzo $6.5, Grissom $2, Neifarious $2.75, Jason Schmidt $8.5, Rueter $4, Christiansen $2.3, Nen $9 (player option) for a total of $58.25MM.
Depending on the methodology for calculating payroll, one can get slightly different total than $58.25. Roderick’s calculations may be different from other calculations depending on how performance bonuses, deferred salary, interest from deferred salary, and signing bonuses are counted. We’ll just take a nice round number and say that these 9 veterans will make about $60MM. Fair enough?
The G-men will also have at least 4 players making the league minimum. Yorvit Torrealba, Joe Nathan, Jerome Williams, and Kevin Correia are all likely to be on the 25 man roster and each will make the league minimum of $300,000. That’s $1.2MM.
The Giants will have about $14MM to spend on the remaining 12 roster spots. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll examine different ways of spending this money.
Getting This Out of the Way Now
*The Giants will NOT sign Vladimir Guerrero*
"Vlad is a free agent after 2003. The Giants should get him."
If I had a nickel for every time a Giants fan has muttered that phrase, or a slight variation thereof, I could fill the left field coke bottle full of change and donate the proceeds to the Safeway Spendthrift so he could actaully sign Bad Vlad.
Technically, the Giants probably could afford Guerrero, but they’d have to spend every penny of their available budget on Vlad and then fill the rest of the roster with 300K bonus babies.
Likewise, I could technically afford to live in Beverly Hills (well, east Beverly Hills). Of course, I’d have to sell my car, my computer, my clothes, my furniture, and begin embezzling money from my employer, but I could technically afford to live there. The only downside is that I’d be a hungry, naked, computerless felon who
The point is this – if the Giants spend $13MM on one player, the rest of the roster will take a hit. If SF signs Vlad (they won’t), barring a ridiculously backloaded contract, the Giants will be unable to afford any other free agents and they’d have to non-tender all of their arbitration eligible players. Repeat after me – the Giants will not sign Vladimir Guerrero.
In the next post, we’ll look at more realistic options in RF.
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
To add injury to insult, Jason Schmidt will require off season surgery to repair a partially torn ligament in his elbow.
He should be back and ready to go by Spring Training, but we should all hold our collective breath. Remember, Robb Nen was supposed to be ready by Spring Training this year and, well, we know how that story turned out.
Schmidt's injury prohibited him from throwing breaking balls. The fact the he still pitched extemely well, despite having a hand tied behind his back, speaks volumes about just how good his fastball is. It also speaks volumes about just how good a pitcher Jason Schmidt has become.
Eight Men Out
The more you think about it, the more you realize just how dumb it was to carry 12 pitchers for a 5 game series. Joe Sheehan made some excellent points in his NLDS wrap up (credit Steve Shelby for the link).
Not only do you not need that many arms in a Division Series, you don't want that many. You don't want the 11th- and 12th- best pitchers in your organization anywhere near a mound in these games.
Alou carried two very long relievers with no tactical value in Jim Brower and Dustin Hermanson. He carried two situational lefties in Scott Eyre and Jason Christiansen, even though the Marlins have no one worth using a specialist against.
I'll defend selecting Brower for the roster. He is wicked good against righties (.220/.270/.336 and only allowed 16 XBHs in 230+ PAs) and that was a good matchup against the righty dominated Marlin lineup.
Adding Hermanson to the bullpen didn't accomplish much considering the bullpen already had 5 other righties. Futhermore, Hermanson wasn't even used until Game 5. I didn't have a whole lot of confidence in Sidney Ponson, but couldn't Sidney have pitched one inning (instead of Hermanson) in Game 5?
I didn't realize this until I looked it up, but Sheehan is right in saying the Marlins have no one worth using a lefty specialist against. The switch hitting Luis Castillo is better against lefties than righties. Juan Pierre, the only lefty in the Marlins starting lineup, doesn't have much of an OPS platoon split (.710 vs. lefties, .745 vs. righties), and in fact, has a slightly higher batting average vs. southpaws (.311 to .303).
Ok, Todd Hollandsworth is better against righties (.750) than lefties (.669), but Alou didn't even use either of his situational lefties against Hollandsworth (not that he should have) in the series. That leaves the switch hitting Brian Banks and Lenny Harris as the only other lefties on the roster. If the bullpen can't retire Lenny F. Harris in a critical situation (Nathan couldn't in Game 2) or Brian Banks, then they don't deserve to win.
Having one situational lefty on the post season roster was probably excessive, let alone two.
Three Dot DuJour
Usually, the network broadcasting a playoff series will show at least a cursory shot of the owner. Or, in FOX's case, they'll show Jackie Autrie about a dozen times per game. ESPN showed Peter Magowan a couple of times but I don't recall them showing Jeffrey Loria. Did Loria even bother to show up to the playoff series?
Saturday night I decided to drown in my sorrows and blow off some steam by patronizing some of the fine watering holes in Hermosa Beach. Oddly enough, I ran into quite a number of euphoric Red Sox fans. It was an October evening encounter between a Giants fan and Red Sox fans and they were the ones who were jubilant. Any fan with a sense of baseball history understands just how pathetic this is. I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, or curl up in the fetal position and begin sobbing. So instead, I just ordered another drink...
The Neifi Alert status has been raised to level red. As of right now, Neifi Perez is the only SS under contract with the Giants next year. Scary. I may need to order several more drinks to come to terms with the phrase, "Opening Day Shortstop, Neifi Perez."
Sunday, October 05, 2003
My tortured baseball soul can’t take this anymore. Our beloved Giants teased us with a great season and failed to reach the great baseball Promiseland. Again.
This year was particularly difficult because of the roller coaster of emotions associated with the NLDS. Anxiety, nervousness, anger, frustration, joy, relief, despondency, humiliation; and all that was just the last hour of game 3.
There is no joy in the Fog City, there is no joy in my corner of LA, the wire-to-wire division champs have been eliminated.
Westwood Blues Interactive
1) Which NLDS moment was the most frustrating?
a) JT Snow getting thrown out at home.
b) Sidney Ponson unable to hold a lead.
c) SF going 2 for 2,874,495 with RISP in game 3.
d) Watching Jose Cruz, Jr in the field.
e) Watching Jose Cruz, Jr. in the batter’s box.
f) Another F-rod postseason meltdown.
g) Pudge’s game winning hit.
h) Cabrera’s game winning hit.
i) Derek Lee scoring from first on a single.
j) Listening to Rick Sutcliffe.
k) Grissom getting thrown out at third.
l) Other, please specify.
2) How are you planning on killing yourself?
a) A fifth of vodka, a bottle of Jack, a pint of yeager, a Long Island, an Irish car bomb, and a dozen rapid fire sake bombs.
b) Strapping yourself to a chair and watching video of all of Neifi Perez’s ABs. Let nature take its course.
c) Donning a red bandana and taking a midnight stroll through McCarthur Park, flashing gang signals at passerbys.
d) Walking around the Dodger Stadium parking lot with a Giants hat. (sorry)
e) Other, please specify
3) Send in your ranting, bitter e-mails! Here is one I got from frustrated Giants fan Jeff, BEFORE the two games in South Florida.
It's deja vu x 2....a combination of '97 and '00. I guarantee we lose both games in Florida. We will NEVER, EVER, NEVER win the WS. Not in my lifetime or anyone else's.
When they announced Benard would be having surgery and unavailable for the postseason, I actually had hope for us.
"This....This is a truly a sign from God" I said. Wrong again. The only question now is
just how painful the G Men will make it for us. I forsee excrutiating pain. Think final week of the '93 season....or game 7 of the NLCS in '87.
And to add insult to injury the Niners are pathetic and the Warriors are the Warriors. How do the Sharks look? Is this what we've been reduced to? HOCKEY??!!! God help us.
Painful flashbacks? Recipe for 2003 NLDS Games 3 and 4: Take a cup of 2002 WS Game 6, a teaspoon of 2000 NLDS Game 2, a cup of 1997 NLDS Game 1, a cup of 1997 NLDS Game 2, and a dash of 1908 one game playoff. Mix thoroughly. Lastly, and most importantly, add one enormous, steaming pile of shit. Serves 25.
This series was so similar to the 1997 NLDS its scary. Late inning magic from the Fish and bullpen implosions by the Giants; Miguel Cabrera is the new Devon White.
Felix Rodriguez has morphed into a walking can of gas in two of the Giants most recent torturing post season losses in recent memory. Let’s make it three.
Jose Cruz really outdid himself this time. Cruz decided to accomplish the ultimate painful flashback trifecta in this series. Hitting like Reggie Sanders, fielding like Candy Maldonado and Fred Snodgrass, and late inning dramatics like Fred Merkle. It takes true talent to not only relive recent Giants post season misery, but to also relive a Giants post season debacle of 95 fucking years ago.
Marquis Grissom wasn’t content with just reliving previous Giants post season failures. From his extensive menu of painful Atlanta Braves post season flashbacks, Grissom decided to channel the baserunning prowess of Lonnie Smith. You do not steal third on Pudge. Ever.
JT Snow proved the theory that lefties are indeed more creative than righties. In their post season history, the Giants have never been eliminated on a play at home. Snow created a brand new post season disaster that we undoubtedly relive again in future Octobers. Congrats, you lefty trailblazer.
Game 3 and 4 Random Thoughts
Question for Sutcliffe: Lenny Fucking Harris is considered a late season “acquisition?” Well technically yes, but that’s like saying the bubonic plague was a 14th century European acquisition…
If the Giants were to construct a statue of any current Giant, I would’ve guessed they’d salute Barry Bonds. I was wrong. Unfortunately, Rich Aurilia’s bronze likeness didn’t bother to leave the batter’s box in Game 4 in the eighth inning. Run to first, you lazy bum!
Ponson trade revisited – when SF acquired Sid, I said one of the things I didn’t like about the trade was that Ponson would only make between 1 and 4 meaningful starts for the Giants. Well, he made one start and he couldn’t hold a lead. Ugh…Hindsight is 20/20 of course, and at the time I did support the trade, but ugh. Just to twist the Aruban knife a little deeper, Kurt Ainsworth will undoubtedly win 15 games next year...
The Giants have been eliminated and the Cubs and the Red Sox are still alive...
Not starting Schmidt in Game 4 was absolutely the right call. Pitchers not named Curt Schilling do not have a good track record pitching on short rest in the playoffs... Unfortunately, Sugar Ray Williams just didn’t have it the second time through the lineup, much to the dismay of Giants fans and the visitor’s bench at Pro Player Stadium...
Its unfair to blame the Giants losses on any one person. Everyone, save Fonzie, Barry, Jason, Jeffrey Hammonds, and Matt Herges, played like shit...
On the bright side – Fonzie’s uber clutchness the second half of the season and in the playoffs make me think he’s primed for a huge bounce back year in 2004...
Baseball base running pet peeve #1 – the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. A runner rounding third should keep this in mind. Snow took way too big a turn at third base. Ideally, you should hit the inside of the bag and do your best to run as straight as possible down the line to home. His big turn coupled with the fact that he need to slide to the front side of home plate cost him. The fact that Snow is slower than Rich Garces didn’t help matters either...
Carrying 12 pitchers for a 5 game series is not a good idea. The Giants didn’t need two lefties out of the bullpen, as the Marlins are a predominantly right handed team. It turns out they did need a pinch runner extraordinaire. Eric Young would’ve scored on Hammonds’ single...
MLB should institute a rule that expansion teams should suck for at least 15-20 years before they can win a championship. It just doesn’t seem right that generic teams like the Marlins and the sixteenandahalfbacks can fly a World Championship banner, while teams with richer history, better fans, longer suffering fans, and a longer standing place in the community continue their respective World Series droughts. I know fans in Chicago, Cleveland, Seattle, and Boston agree with me.
As the Southpaw points out, the Giants failed to hit a HR in the four game series. This is yet another reason SF needs to sign a slugger in the offseason...
This site will change its name back to Westwood Blues once the requisite two week mourning period for post season tank jobs has expired. I thought about changing the background to black, but I didn’t want to be *that* maudlin...
I want to conclude by saying something meaningful and optimistic. No matter how hard I try, I can’t sum up the 2003 NLDS better than the laconic Jefferson of Skaldheim did.
We should take heart, though, those of us who are suffering from bad hangovers and the taste of ashes in our mouths. The Giants could have just folded completely yesterday. They didn't. They accepted the challenge, and they fought back valiantly. They went out with a bang, and a thud, and a cloud of dust, and with visions of glory in everyone's minds, even if it only lasted about three seconds. In the end, it wasn't enough.
But the tale of this game will be told to our children, and our children's children, of how these Giants could play so badly, with both hands wrapped around their throats, and how somehow, despite all their failures...they damn near won anyway.
Saturday, October 04, 2003
Thursday, October 02, 2003
Post season losses are tough because each loss is always accompanied by painful flashbacks to previous, similar post season losses.
Game 2 was part 2002 NLDS Game 3, part 1997 NLDS Game 3, and part 2002 WS Game 2. Like Game 3 against the Braves last year, yesterday's game was competitive for the first five innings. The Giants then came unraveled and soon got blown out by the opposition. The Giants inability to get anyone out in the 6th inning of yesterday's game was reminiscent of the first inning of Game 2 against the Angels where Anaheim got 3,284 consecutive hits against Russ Ortiz.
El Lefty Malo beat me to the punch about the frightening similarities between Sidney Ponson and Wilson Alvarez. A fat starting pitcher, acquired in a mid season trade who can't hold a lead against the Marlins in a playoff game in San Francisco. Is Juan Pierre the new Devon White?
Looking on the bright side, the Giants will now get to face two southpaws. Hopefully I will get flashbacks to last year's post season where SF beat up on Tom Glavine and Jarrod Washburn.
Its been said many times, but its worth repeating: the Giants feast on left handed pitching (.285/.365/.500). Fonzie and Benito are the only starters who do not have an OPS over .900 against LHP. The Giants just need to win one of those games and I'll take my chances with Jason Schmidt starting a decisive game at Pac Bell.
Channeling Herb Caen
I've run some computer simulations and done some fancy math and I've concluded that when your team is losing, really bad announcers become more annoying by a degree of exactly 3.876 x 10^23.
On a couple occasions this year, MLB Extra Innings carried the sixteenandahalfbacks feed of a SF-AZ game. When Steve Lyons said something stupid (which is pretty much every time he opens his mouth), it didn't bother me as much as it should have because I was in a delightful mood because the Giants were winning. However, if the Giants would've been losing, I may have begun lobbing household appliances at my TV.
Yesterday, at the Sutcliffian climax of stupidity, I wanted to gouge my ears out with a screwdriver. Yes, the Marlins did have more people on the top step of their dugout than the Giants. This might have had something to do with the fact that there were 9 Giants who were playing in the field at the time. Idiot...
When you give up a hit to Lenny Fucking Harris in a critical situation, you do not deserve to win...
Raise your hand if you'd offer Sidney Ponson a three year $21 million contract...I think Giants fans feel the same way about Ponson that Cubs fans feel about Matt Clement. When he is on, Ponson can look unhitable. In the game I went to in Phoenix, Ponson was pitching so well, I knew he wouldn't give up a run. When Ponson isn't on, it can turn into batting practice for the opposition.
Similarly, Clement can toss a two hit shutout against the Giants and then give up 5 runs and 10 baserunners in 5 IP in Dodger Stadium two starts later.
Monday's post erroneously characterized Angels fans as "bandwagon jumping, Dornan loving, tract home building, SUV driving, OC suburbanites." The above statement should have read, "bandwagon jumping, Dornan loving, tract home building, SUV driving, smog inhaling, OC suburbanites. Westwood Blues regrets this error.
We also regret that despite our best attempts at provoking Angels fans, we have only received one piece of hatemail from them.
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Wow. Jason Schmidt was dealing yesterday, leading the Giants to a 2-0 Game 1 victory. Complete game shut out + 3 hits + 0 walks + 5 Ks = Ace.
Schmidt was undoubtedly aided by Mark Hirschbeck's 1997 NLCSesque strike zone (ok, the strike zone wasn't that big, but it was still huge) but Jason was still lights freakin' out.
The Return of...Channeling Herb Caen
I have a lot of random thoughts on the playoffs and random thoughts are always best accompanied by ellipses and stars...
Ray Durham's defensive gem in the ninth inning was huge. If the leadoff hitter, Luis Castillo, had reached and set the table for the 3-4-5 hitters, very bad things could've happened...
I'm surprised at the lack of media hype surrounding Felipe Alou's chance to gain sweet revenge against Jeffrey Loria. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear Carl Pohlad brought Jeffrey Loria into the MLB ownership ranks just so Pohlad could lose his worst owner in MLB trophy. Jeffrey Loria is a first class asshat for promising job security to Felipe Alou and then firing Alou two weeks later.
I'd like to see the Giants kill two fish with one stone and gain revenge for not only 1997, but also for Felipe Alou's dismissal from Montreal...
Georgia is a great, great place for college football. How embarrasing is it to be a fan of the Braves and be drowned out by Cubs fans in your home stadium for a PLAYOFF GAME. This is another reason why I wasn't *that* upset that the Giants conceded home field advantage in the NLCS. If SF, oops, I mean ess eff, reaches the NLCS and plays Atlanta, its not like the Giants will be playing that extra game in some incredibly intimidating atmosphere.
"Ahhh! Thousands of empty seats and, gasp!, people in white aprons and chef's hats! Run for your lives!"
Was it Something I Said? Part 3
Date: 10/1/2003 1:31:32 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Doug Hutchinson [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent from the Internet (Details)
I was able to forgive you for broadcasting the trainwreck, "A Season on the Brink." After much soul searching, I gave you the benefit of the doubt and granted you smug comment amnesty for "Playmakers." It took several years, but I was even able to forgive you for canceling the weekday broadcasts of Global Wrestling Federation. However, I will never, ever forgive you for inflicting Rick Sutcliffe on us during the playoffs.