Westwood Blues

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Wisdom at Work

Watching another edition of the "Bonds and a bunch of shit" offense last night reminded me of the Transaction Oracle's witty comments on the Marquis Grissom signing:
"Every so often, us statheads get together and talk about Barry Bonds. Very often. We talk about every aspect of his game from his personal accomplishments to wondering if teams could have league-average offenses just by putting a lineup of Barry Bonds and 7 (or 8 if you're the AL) bums out on the field.

Thanks to Brian Sabean and the acquisitions of Neifi Perez and Marquis Grissom, one of our most treasured dreams is about to come true."
If I were a fan of another team, I'd send the Giants management a thank you card for bringing this fascinating experiment to life. If Barry Bonds were to be surrounded by replacement level talent, is Bonds so good that he can singlehandedly make his offense league average?

Unfortunately, we can't quite answer that question yet, as the Giants offense has been so bad that half the lineup is actually below replacement level so far this year.

Here's how bad the Giants offense is without Bonds:

Giants: .241/.328/.374
Giants Without Bonds: .225/.289/.318
Johnnie LeMaster career: .222/.277/.289

Enough said.

The Third Roll

In the off season, I said that Jose Cruz Jr.'s buyout for 2004 would be the best 300k the Giants spent last winter. I supported dumping Cruz because I just assumed that SF would get someone good to replace him. Instead, we have a really bad horror movie terrorizing right field.

As with any evaluation done in April, the usual sample size disclaimers apply, but, nevertheless, the RF clusterfuck has been frighteningly awful.

Tucker .241/.302/.276
Hammonds .152/.333/.212
Mohr .043/.154/.043

Combined: .175/.282/.211

Now, just for fun: Fresno's Todd Linden: .309/.380/.412 (MLEqA of .244)

News and Notes

...When I saw the headline that Pac Bell Park would now be the home to WiFi, I just assumed that WiFi was the nickname of a journeyman fifth outfielder who signed a multiyear contract with the Giants. Apparently, WiFi is some sort of wireless technology that enables one to connect to the internet. Now you can do things like research baseball stats, check your e-mail, download porn, and read Giants weblogs from the comfort of your seat at Pac Bell.

Here's an idea: when you're at a baseball game, why don't you do something like, oh, I don't know, maybe watch the baseball game? Then again, the last place Giants will likely need as many silly gimmicks as possible to keep the fans coming to games...
...Ray Durham injured himself (again) in last night's game. This means that there is a possibility that the Giants could go with a Neifi-Deivi keystone combo in tonight's game. When the Giants signed Deivi Cruz I commented:
Some people wonder what would happen if two black holes of the same size and gravitational pull are facing each other. Would there be zero gravity at the midpoint between them? Thanks to Brian Sabean's recent signing of Deivi Cruz, this question will be answered when Cruz and Neifi take pregame infield practice before tomorrow's game.
Prediction: tonight, in the top of the first inning, the second base bag will be floating in mid air...
...On a serious note, Peter Gammons reports that Andres Galarraga is healthy and is seeking work. Way to go, Big Cat!


Thursday, April 22, 2004

Just How Bad is the Giants Non-Bonds Offense?

During the Giants blowout loss to San Diego on Wednesday one of the posters at Baseball Primer's game chatter posted this comment about the Giants offense:
You know that bit in the NHBA where Bill James runs the simulation with Babe Ruth and the weakest hitters at each position to see whether it's worth walking Ruth every time he comes up? The '04 Giants are that simulation come to life...

In the New Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James sought to answer the following question: is there a batter who is so good that he should be walked every time he comes to bat? In order to answer this question, James ran a computer simulation with a lineup featuring one truly awesome hitter (Babe Ruth) and seven of the worst hitters imaginable (Jaime Quirk, Gerald Perry, Angel Salazar, etc). It turns out that even with 8 historically awful hitters surrounding him, Babe Ruth should not be walked in every single plate appearance.

I'd love to see James run the sim again using the April 2004 model of Barry Bonds. James can then call on Peter Magowan and Brian Sabaen to help him fill out the rest of the roster.

Using EqA, here's how the 2004 Giants compare with James' lineup in the NHBA. Remember that an EqA of .260 is average. An EqA of .200 is awful.

James' Lineup with career EqA

Willie Wilson .268
Al Weis .227
Gerald Perry .262
Babe Ruth .375
Gino Cimoli .250
Don Wert .254
Jaime Quirk .239
Angel Salazar .177
Pitcher -.064

Avg non-Ruth EqA: .202

Giants lineup, with EqA as of 4/21/04

Ray Durham .289
JT Snow .228
Marquis Grissom .333
Barry Bonds .577(!)
Edgardo Alfonzo .155
AJ Pierzynski .125
Michael Tucker .194
Neifi Perez .168
Pitcher .000

Avg Non Bonds EqA: .187

That's how bad the Giants offense has been. A baseball savant can assemble an all-star team of some the most pedestrian hitters in baseball history and said team is still better than the April 2004 Giants, sans Bonds.

Now, the poster in the game chatter was engaging in a bit of hyperbole (I think), and the Giants offense will undoubtedly improve as the sample size grows larger, but to date the non-Bonds offense has been extraordinarily awful.

The Return of Charlie Hayes

When projecting a player's performance, the PECOTA projection system uses a database of 15,000 players to search for comparable players. Let's compare some of the black holes in the 2004 Giants' offense with their #1 comps in the PECOTA system.

* JT Snow: 2001 Charlie Hayes .200/.293/.240

After searching through 15,000 possibilities the most comparable player to 2004 JT Snow had an OPS of .533. Yikes.

It's also worth pointing out that Charlie Hayes was out of baseball in 2002. Maybe giving Snow a vesting option for 2005 wasn't the greatest idea in the world.

* Michael Tucker: 1966 George Altman .222/.276/.335

When the Giants first signed Tucker, I commented:
I would be thrilled if Tucker could hit .250/.320/.400 for the Giants, but that's probably asking too much.

Yes, that is indeed asking too much.

I'm going to keep repeating this until Tucker is finally benched: Michael Tucker is roughly the FIFTH best option the Giants have in RF.

* Edgardo Alfonzo: 1971 Ron Hunt .279/.402/.358

That's pretty much what I'm expecting from Fonzie: a decent average, a strong OBP, but not much power. Now, if he'd just get around to actually doing that...

* Neifi Perez: 1995 Jose Lind .236/.267/.271

I'm speechless.

So, I'll just post a quote from Neifi's 2003 PECOTA card and you can insert your own snarky comment (emphasis in quote is mine):
Lee Sinins, who runs a daily newsletter from www.baseballimmortals.net, uses a metric called "Runs Created Above Average"- adjusted for things like ballpark and league context - to evaluate ballplayers. By his metric, Neifi Perez is probably the worst hitter in major league history. Perez was -57 RCAA last year, the sixth-worst figure since 1900 - but hardly worse than his usual standards, which include -54 (1999), -52 (2000), and -48 (1998). Over the past five years, Perez has cost his team 243 runs offensively, which is a record. In fact, no other player has ever cost his team so many runs over a six-year span. Clearly, he's a special player.

Put it this way: replacing Perez with a league-average hitter would help the Royals more than replacing Michael Tucker with Shawn Green would. Amazingly, the Giants signed him to a two-year contract, so we'll use the same analogy with say, J. T. Snow and Mike Sweeney in next year's book.

News and Notes

...According to this blurb on ESPN, the Giants and Pirates have emerged as the front runners to host the 2006 All-Star game. Hmm...2006 will likely be Bonds' last year with the Giants and he'll probably be approaching 756 (if he hasn't passed it already) by about that time. Giving San Francisco the All-Star Game in 2006 makes so much sense, that I guarantee it won't happen...
...Fellow fringers, we have a lot of work to do. Here's Peter Magowan responding to the criticism of the Giants horrendous off season:
"I'd say first of all, the fans have done a lot less criticizing than the press has. We're pretty close to our fans, and I think I know as well as anybody what's on their mind. Our fans trust us to put a competitive team on the field."

I'm this close to sending Peter Magowan a Lunatic Fringe shirt...
Lastly, best wishes to Andres Galarraga who is fighting cancer again. We're all rooting for you, Big Cat.


Monday, April 19, 2004

It's Only April...

Drawing inspiration from the 2004 Kansas City Royals and their slogan of "October: Juntos Podemos!" (together, we can!), an editor at Baseball Primer, asked readers to come up with slogans for the other teams in baseball. Some anonymous smart ass designated the slogan of the 2004 Giants to be: "Bonds and Schmidt and bunch of shit."

Through the first 12 games of the season, a more appropriate slogan for the Giants would be "Bonds and a bunch of shit." Homerun Jesus continues to put up mind boggling numbers while the rest of the team is on sabbatical at Club Uribe. Here are the Giants starters and their respective OPSs through the first 12 games:

Durham .882
Snow .586
Grissom 1.021
Superman 1.903
Pierzynski .494
Alfonzo .487
Tucker .570
Neifarious .610

Ouch. Bonds' OBP of .638(!) is higher than the OPS of all of the other starters, save Grissom and Durham. And I won't even compare his gaudy SLG of 1.265(!) to the other members of the team.

Anyway, the point is that aside from Bonds, Durham, and Grissom, the offense has been awful. Is this a small sample size fluke or is this a sign of things to come? Let's look at the players who have sucked and see if their suckage is likely to continue.

* Neifarious Perez

He sucked in Colorado for four and a half years. He sucked in Kansas City for a year and a half. He sucked last year. He's sucked so far this year. Guess what? Neifi will suck for the rest of the year.

* Michael Tucker

Free Dustan Mohr! Free Jeffrey Hammonds! Free Pedro Feliz! Free Todd Linden! Free Tony Torcato! Free Joel Youngblood! Free Mike Aldrete! Free somebody, but for Superman's sake, get Tucker out of the lineup.

The word is spreading around the National League that Tucker is an undisciplined hacker who is easily fooled by off speed pitches. PECOTA projects Tucker to have a VORP of just 0.3. So, yes, it's a good bet that Tucker will continue to suck.

* AJ Pierzynski

Whatever his MO was in Minnesota, it seemed to work. His current OPS of .494 is about 300 points lower than his career OPS. As the season progresses, AJ will get better and his OPS will move closer the mean.

* Edgardo Alfonzo

After a nightmare start to the season in 2003, Fonzie and the Giants were hoping that history wouldn't repeat itself in 2004. Things haven't quite gone as planned. His batting splits of .179/.256/.231 will improve if for no other reason than they can't possibly get any worse. Giants fans just hope this improvement will happen sooner rather than later.

* JT Snow

Snow is notorious for breaking out of the season's starting blocks with a ball and chain attached to his ankle. Incidentally, that's also an accurate description of how he runs. Anyway, the fact that Snow is sporting a line of .214/.277/.310 after 12 games shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Snow's numbers will improve as the season moves along, but how much will they improve? Given his age and slowing bat, I'm expecting an OPS of about .750 by season's end.

So, in summation, there should be some improvement from the current black holes in the offense. But the only reason they'll improve is because they can't get any worse.

Internal Options

When a team is off to a slow start it's easy to sit back and say trade player X and trade for player Y. It's difficult to know exactly who, if anyone, is available via trade this early in the season. Rather than speculating about trades (that's what June and July is for), here are three problems with the team that could be addressed internally:

1) The Rightfield Situation

Free Dustan Mohr! Free Jeffrey Hammonds! Free...aww screw it. Based on their PECOTA projections, Michael Tucker is roughly the fifth best option the Giants have in RF. Here are the OPS projections for RFers.

Dustan Mohr .760
Todd Linden .721
Jeffrey Hammonds .720
Pedro Feliz .710
Michael Tucker .707

Michael Tucker is pretty much the walking definition of a replacement level RFer. Speaking of replacing things, the Giants will get a boost in the offense simply by replacing Tucker with Mohr.

2) Better in-game strategy

I've always thought of Felipe Alou as a good in-game tactician, but he has really been in a slump lately. What was the rationale for IBBing Shawn Green in yesterday's game? There were two outs, a runner on third, and a very hot hitter on deck. Issuing free passes for no apparent reason is a recipe for disaster. This is particularly true when Brett Bombko is on the mound; one pitch and the opposition can put a big number on the scoreboard.

My main pet peeve with Alou's Brenly-esque managerial style of the past week involves my favorite whipping boy, Neifi Perez. If the Giants brain trust is going to force us to suffer through Neifi Fucking Perez every single day, the least they could do is remove his futile hacking from the game should a critical, late game situation present itself when his spot in the lineup comes up.

In the sixth inning of Sunday's game, the Giants had the bases loaded with no one out and Neifi's spot in the lineup due up. All they needed was a fly ball out to the outfield in order to score a run. Now, Neifi is a world class out producer, so making an out would not be a problem for him. However, since it's a struggle for him to hit the ball out of the infield, he doesn't produce many sac flies. Not surprisingly, Neifi hit a nifty infield pop up to record the first out of the inning. Then, after Neifi made an out, Alou used a pinch hitter for Dustan Mohr. Pinch hitting for Mohr but not Neifi? WTF?

I was going criticize Alou for letting Neifi hit in the lead off spot, but after all this, I just don't have the energy.

3) Bat Bonds third (or maybe even second)

I've been slow to jump on board the bat Bonds third bandwagon, but after this weekend I'm ready to hop aboard and drive said bandwagon myself.

Statheads will tell you that the exact order in which a lineup hits doesn't make *that* much of a difference. Although I have no evidence to back this up, I'm starting to think that a team comprised of "Bonds and a bunch of shit" is an outlier to this stathead maxim.

After seeing Bonds stranded on deck to end a game on four different occasions in the first two weeks of the season, I've got to think that merely getting Bonds a handful of additional PAs throughout the year may lead to an improvement in wins. This season, Bonds has made outs in only 36% of his plate appearances. He is the best hitter since Ted Williams. Curt Schilling (and many others) says he's the best hitter ever. Why not bat him third (or second) just to give him a few more plate appearances?

Clueless in Seattle

If the Giants refuse to make changes from within, then they should seek a trade to improve the team. The Mariners' new GM, Bill Bavasi, is the perfect victim for a fleecing. Bavasi's strategy for revamping the Mariners was to get rid of talented players like Mike Cameron, Arthur Rhodes, and Carlos Guillen and replace them with a bunch of nice guy, clubhouse presence all-stars. A typical Bavasi move: give Arizona professional lefty-masher Greg Colbrunn in exchange for super great guy Quentin McCracken. McCracken has a ridiculous contract and he's been above average exactly once in his 8 year career, but other than that, he's a great guy to have on your team.

In a semi-related story, I'm happy to announce that Cody Ransom is the winner of the Westwood Blues Humanitarian of the Millenium Award. In partnership with the Bay Area chapter of the Advocacy for the Blind, Crippled, One-Armed, Orphaned Vietnamese Boat People Refugees with Gout Association, we salute Cody Ransom for his ongoing commitment to the BCOAOVBPWG community. A few more of these awards and maybe Ransom will appear on Bavasi's radar. And, boy, I hear that that Rafael Soriano kid hates babies and cute puppies.


Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Another Day, Another Milestone

Aaron 755
Ruth 714
Bonds 661
Mays 660

This never gets old. Congrats to Superman for hitting his 661st career homerun, and moving into sole possession of third place on the all time homerun list.

The Left Coast Ballpark Rankings

Now that I've been to Petco Park, I can say that I've been to every current major league baseball stadium on the west coast. Naturally, I feel obligated to rank to them.

1) Pacific Bell Park

What, did you think I was going to pick something else? It's cozy, it has spectacular views of the SF skyline and the Bay Area, and it's home to Superman. I don't care what they're calling it now; a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Pac Bell Park: Best. Ballpark. Ever.

2) Safeco Field

Safeco Field is the jewel of the most underrated baseball town in America.

I'm partial to spacious pitcher parks because they tend to produce low scoring, high tension games. Exhibit A: at the game I attended, Voros McCracken Aaron Sele didn't give up a run! Talk about a pitcher's park. The late innings of that game were filled with nailing biting tension until Randy Winn crushed a grand slam to put the game away for the Mariners.

3) Petco Park

There is a big gap between Safeco and Petco, as Petco heads up the second tier of west coast ballparks. I praised Petco in my last entry, so scroll down to see my brief thoughts on the park.

I forgot to mention this criticism: Whoever it was who was in charge blasting the incredibly irritating between innings music over the loud speakers at Qualcomm is now running the asylum at Petco. As if torturing San Diegans with Sugar Ray's "When it's Over" at every single home game last year wasn't bad enough, the powers that be in the booth tormented the fans on Saturday with a song of such unspeakable horror that that I wanted someone to mmmbop me right off the Coronado Bridge just to end my misery.

As if all of this wasn't bad enough, the Padres blare "Primetime Padres," the feed of the local TV station's preview of the game, over the jumbotron before the game. This allowed me to make a startling discovery: There is something known to mankind that is more annoying than Rick Sutcliffe: Rick Sutcliffe live and in HDTV. *shudder*

4) Chavez Latrine

Keep in mind that I'm not just rating ballparks themselves, but the entire experience. The ballpark neighborhood is a big part of that experience. Fans in San Francisco and San Diego can get a pregame drink at one of the local watering holes and then walk to the game. After the game, fans can celebrate a home team victory with a meal at one of the local restaurants.

Unless you're looking to score some crack or join a gang, you do not want to spend a second of your life in LA's Echo Park neighborhood. In fact, I've thought about e-mailing the Dodgers and suggesting that they change the "Think Blue" sign in the hills just outside the stadium to read "Welcome to Beirut."

Also, in my completely unbiased opinion, LA has the highest obnoxious asshat fan ratio of any team on the west coast. Every park will have at least a few drunken baboons, but LA seems to produce record numbers of them.

And another thing: the parking situation is out of control. Being LA, there is essentially no public transportation to the ballpark. Then again, even if there was, I wouldn't take it. I wouldn't feel safe in that neighborhood traveling in anything save a Popemobile. Anyway, it's taken me as long as an hour just to get from the parking lot back to the freeway.

Long story short: the park itself is great, but everything else about a trip to Dodger Stadium sucks.

5) Bank One Ballpark

As a Giants fan, I like to go to the park and do nothing but talk on my cell phone for the entire game. The folks who designed the BOB weren't very accommodating to Giants fans, as I could only get three bars of reception from inside the BOB.

Oh, and the BOB should really be about 6th on this list, but I saw two thrilling Giants victories in Phoenix last season so my only memories of the park are happy times.

6) Angels Stadium

ESPN's Page Two did a ballpark ranking this past summer and I was shocked to see Edison Field ranked so high (fifth) on the list. Then I realized that the author of the Edison Field write-up is a life long Angels fan. Extreme Angels bias is just about the only way one could rank this park in the top tier of baseball parks.

Like the part of Orange County that it resides in, Angels Stadium is a lifeless, generic building, lacking character. If a stadium could be described as a "tract stadium," then Angels Stadium would be it.

The stadium's trademark calling card is the eyesore of fake rocks beyond the centerfield wall, hilariously referred to as "the dogpile" by Mike Krukow. Fenway has the Green Monster. Pac Bell has McCovey Cove. PNC has views of the Pittsburgh skyline. Angels Stadium has an enormous pile of dog shit. Enough said.

7) The Oakland Dot Racing Emporium

That the best attribute of the Net Ass is that it's close to BART speaks volumes about the ballpark itself. The Coliseum is a monolithic mess of concrete masquerading as a baseball park. The outfield monstrosity known as Mount Davis casts a long, dark shadow on what would otherwise be a decent place to watch a game.

An "oh yeah, well at least we have REAL fans bla bla bla..." e-mail will appear in my inbox in 5...4...3...2...

The only good thing about experiencing an A's game is the ticket availability and the ability to upgrade your seats throughout the game. For example, I had Plaza level tickets to a weekday A's game a couple of years ago. Needless to say, by the end of the game, my friend and I were sitting behind the Orioles dugout.

Schmidt Happens This Friday

Aside from Barry's homerun show, the other big news of the week is that Jason Schmidt has been cleared to pitch and he'll make the start against the Bums on Friday. A healthy Jason Schmidt pitching relatively deep into ballgames would go a long way toward resting the beleaguered bullpen and strengthening the rotation.

No Giants starter has pitched more than six innings in a game this season. The Giants success can't continue if they have to depend on the bullpen to pitch at least three innings every single game. Getting a healthy Jason Schmidt back is the first step in the bullpen revitalization plan. Now we're just waiting for Scott Eyre and Robb Nen to be healthy enough to contribute. And Mike Crudale.


Monday, April 12, 2004

We're Not Worthy

Aaron 755
Ruth 714
Mays 660
Bonds 660

Congrats to Homerun Jesus for hitting his 660th career homerun in today's victory over the Brewers.

The best part of the afternoon was seeing Willie Mays on the field to literally and figuratively pass the torch to Barry. Normally, I don't like over-the-top, mid game celebrations. However, I do like said celebrations when they involve Barry Bonds and the Giants.

A Bonds milestone homerun and a Giants victory make for a perfect Opening Day.

Not Your Father's Padres

I'm back from my trip to America's Finest City where I saw the Giants lose to the Pod People on Saturday night and then rally for a come from behind win on Sunday.

Petco Park in downtown San Diego is a great place to watch a baseball game and Bay Area fans are going to love making road trips to San Diego to see the Giants.

The best thing about Petco is that it is situated adjacent to San Diego's gaslamp district. There are a number of bars, restaurants, and hotels in the area, so it's an easy walk to grab a bite to eat and a drink before and/or after the game and then stumble back to your hotel. Eat, drink, be merry, yell at Ryan Klesko, drink some more, go to bed. My kind of day!

Despite Petco's many attributes, some of the silly gimmicks keep it below the Pac Bell/Safeco class of ball park superiority. The odd home run porch configuration in right field is there because...well, just because it's there. Also, the Western Metal Supply Co.'s red brick facade looks out of place next to the modern architecture of the stadium.

Anyway, you'll have to see it all for yourself and take everything in to fully appreciate the park. The Giants make a return trip to San Diego in late July.

One Year of Snarkiness

As we celebrate the one year anniversary of this weblog, I'd like to take a minute to thank the thousands of readers who have stopped by in the last year to read my innane blatherings on the San Franciso Giants.

Also, a tip of the cap to Waiting for Boof, Only Baseball Matters, and The Southpaw, the Giants blogs that inspired me to start blogging.

Go Giants!


Monday, April 05, 2004


Sunday, April 04, 2004

I've Haven't Been This Excited Since Omarosa Was Kicked Off The Apprentice

Opening Day is just around the corner and what would Opening Day Eve be without predictions? Here are my picks for the NL West:

First Place - Giants

The battle to win the mediocrity filled NL West is kind of like a competition to win a vegan cook-off at the local hippie commune. Something has to win, but at the end of the day, are any of the entries really any good? I'm picking the Giants to win the NL West by default. But, just keep in mind that the Giants are the millet-tofu croquette to Arizona's squash goulash delight.

Oh, and apologies for jinxing the Giants.

Second Place - Arizona

As a general rule, I don't bet against first ballot Hall of Famers unless they give me a really, really, really good reason to. Yes, Randy Johnson is old and coming off injuries, but he's Randy Johnson. He won't match his 2001 dominance, but writing him off would be foolish.

Most baseball observers don't realize just how good Brandon Webb was last season (the BBWA was sure clueless). Webb posted an ERA+ of 165. Some critics quickly dismiss Webb's success by pointing out his pedestrian minor league stats. However, as Baseball Prospectus points out in their annual, Webb played in a bunch of bandboxes while coming up in the D-Backs system. Once Webb's stats are adjusted for park factors, they are actually fairly impressive.

Webb may regress just a bit as the league makes adjustments to him and as he suffers through a full season of Shea Hillenbrand's and Roberto Alomar's awful defense, but he's a good bet to be pretty damn good in 2004.

Beyond Johnson and Webb, the Arizona rotation is very shaky. Innings that were pitched by Curt Schilling and Miguel Batista last season will now be pitched by the likes of Andrew Good, Shane Reynolds, Steve Sparks, Mike Morgan, and a cast of thousands. The lack of depth in their rotation, their aging outfield, and manager Bob Brenly's poor in game strategy prevents me from picking the D-Backs to finish higher than second.

Third Place - San Diego

The Pod People are the trendy pick to win the NL West. Without a doubt, the Pads have the best every day lineup in the division, but the pitching staff is just too unreliable for me to pick them to win the division.

If the starting rotation pitches to their potential, I could definitely see the Pads winning the NL West. The problem is, a whole lot of things would have to fall into place for the Friars' pitching staff to meet its potential. Jake Peavey would finally have to come into his own. David Wells, age 59 and coming off back surgery, would have to stay healthy and continue to be effective. Brian Lawrence would have to regain a few MPH on his fastball. Lastly, Trevor Hoffman would have to demonstrate that he is still an efffective pitcher after a gazillion surgeries.

Speaking of surgeries, health is also a major concern for the Padres. Southwest Airlines now offers daily non-stop flights from San Diego to Birmingham, Alabama, the home of sports surgery guru Dr. James Andrews, just to accomodate the Padres' injury needs.

The Padres will be a very improved team this year. But I don't think it will be enough to make up 36 and a half games in the standings.

Fourth Place - Los Angeles

In an effort to bolster their offense, the Dodgers acquired Milton Bradley on Sunday. Bradley should help LA's offense a bit, but relying on Milton Bradley to solve LA's offensive problems is like trying to fight a 3 alarm fire with a damp rag.

It's a good bet that LA's pitching staff won't match the success they had last season. Kaz Ishii is a rich man's Damian Moss. Hideo Nomo's ERA was much lower than his peripherals would indicate, so I think he'll fall back to being a slightly above average pitcher. One shouldn't make too much of a Spring Training game, but I saw today's Dodgers-Angels game on TV and made an interesting discovery: Jose Lima is done.

On the bright side for the bums' pitching staff, Edwin Jackson is an impressive looking rookie. Also, Jeff Weaver is a talented hurler who may benefit from a change of scenery.

All in all, the punchless offense, the questions surrounding the pitching staff, and my personal hatred of the Dodgers lead me to pick the bums to finish fourth in the NL West.

Fifth Place - Colorado

When Shawn Estes is your Opening Day starter that means it's time to wait until next year.

The Neifi Alert System - a Refresher Course

This site will continue to offer its groundbreaking security system, the Neifi Alert System, throughout the 2004 season. From an entry last May, here is the quick guide to understanding the Neifi Alert System:

Ever get caught off guard by seeing Neifarious Perez's name in the starting lineup and begin to choke on your garlic fries? To warn Giants fans of potential Neifi appearances, The Westwood Blues Department of Infield Security is proud to announce its new color coded Neifi alert system.

Red Level - A Neifi start is imminent. The Department of Infield Security recommends that Giants fans have copius amounts of duct tape available. During Neifi's at bats, fans can cover their eyes, ears, televisions, and radios with duct tape to prevent self-inflicted injuries arising from Neifi's strikeouts.

Orange Level - A Neifi start is likely. Giants fans at the game are encouraged to bring eyedrops to share with the Giants training staff.

Yellow Level - A Neifi start is possible, but a Neifi pinch hitting appearance is likely. Just fill in the K next to Neifi's name and cover your eyes.

Green Level - A Neifi start is unlikely. Praise Jesus...or in this case, praise Jesus' brother Felipe.

Blue Level - Neifi is unavailable because he is on the DL, has been released, has been sent to AAA, or had his contract voided. Hey, I can dream can't I?

We have been on level red alert ever since Rich Aurilia filed for free agency. I'll do my best to provide updated Neifi Alerts throughout the season.

Giants Haikus

With my sincerest apologies to Peter White of Mariner Musings (remember Peter, imitation=flattery), I humbly submit these Giants related haikus:

Rueter ku

low strikeout totals
and a lot of baserunners
keep Voros sleepless

Sonny Jackson

a slow baserunner?
an outfielder with a gun?
Wave 'em in, Sonny!

Ryan Jensen

Jensen meet waivers
Did it with smoke and mirrors
Now he's driving trucks

Alou ku

Lineup construction
is a bit odd, would likely
hit Greg Litton third

Neifi ku

out, out, out, out, out,
out, out, single, out, out, out
out, out, out, out, out.

AJ Pierzynski

Oakland fans hate him
That is sure reason enough
to love him. Boo-yah!

Ned Colleti

millions for Neifi
and multiyear for Tucker?
Visit my swap meet.

Sabes ku

Neifi and Tucker
and the rightfield clusterfuck?
And we're the loonies?

Will Clark

Where have you gone, Thrill?
'89 against the Cubs
made me a Jints fan

Ode to the Giants Farm System

Nary a damn thing
since the early 90s drafts.
Has Boof arrived yet?