Westwood Blues

Monday, September 27, 2004

Down the Stretch

As the tired baseball cliche says, momentum is only as good as tomorrow's starting pitcher. Unfortunately for the Giants, said pitcher was Brett Bomko who picked a bad day to have his worst start in nearly two months. But enough about Sunday's depressing game. Here are some random thoughts as the regular season draws to a close.

* As far as I can tell, here are the pitching matchups for the remainder of the season:

9/28 - Schmidt vs. Lawrence
9/29 - Lowry vs. Wells
9/30 - Williams vs. Eaton (or Peavy on short rest)

10/1 - Rueter vs. Weaver
10/2 - Tomko vs. Jackson (maybe Wilson Alvarez)
10/3 - Schmidt vs. Ishii (or Perez on short rest)

Noah Lowry would be the starter should the Giants play a one game playoff to break a tie. The Giants won all five of the coin tosses they were involved in, so this game would be played at Pac Bell.

* Here's an interesting stat:


Pierzynski .246
Torrealba .250

Because of a late season tailspin, AJ's EqA has dropped below Torrealba's. As someone who supported the AJ/Nathan trade at the time it was made, even I am finally willing to concede that the Giants got hosed. While the requisite sample size disclaimers apply to the stats that Torrealba put up in only 186 PAs, it appears that there may not be a whole lot of difference between AJ and Torrealba on the offensive side. Needless to say, Torrealba is the superior defensive player.

Between his refusal to take a walk, all of the GIDPs, the baserunning blunders, his contract status, and the fact that he really isn't an upgrade over Torrealba, you'll have a tough time convincing me that AJ should be back next year. So, who needs a catcher?

* Dear Joe Buck,

Your dad called. He wants his DNA back.

* When a team has a better record than they probably should, it does not automatically mean that the manager of the team is a genius. I guess I'm a little tired of seeing articles that credit Felipe Alou for the Giants success, but offer no explanation of why he's doing a great job. Sure, the Giants are outperforming their pythag projection, but is this because of Alou, in spite of him, or does Alou have much to do with it at all? If you feel that Alou's moves are the reason why the Giants are overperforming, that's fine, just cite the specific moves Alou has made that has put the team in contention heading into the final week of the season.

* One of the important ingredients of a memorable, historic moment is the call from the home team announcer. And Jon Miller's rousing call of Pedro Feliz' grand slam is the call of the year as far as I'm concerned. If you haven't heard Miller's memorable tribute to Russ Hodges, check out sfgiants.com.


Saturday, September 25, 2004

The Pedro Feliz Game

The Brian Johnson game. The Joe Morgan game. The Mike Ivie game. The Pedro Feliz game. While Saturday's thrilling victory over the hated Dodgers may not be as historic as the first three on the list, it will always be remembered in Westwood Blues lexicon as simply "the Pedro Feliz game."

As Feliz' homerun sailed through the air, I felt the kind of exhilleration that I have only felt a few times before in my baseball viewing life. In 1993, Robby Thompson hit The Shot Heard 'Round the Stick, propelling the Giants to an improbable walk off victory over Bryan Harvey and the Marlins. And in Game 4 of the 2002 NLCS, immediately following an intentional walk to Barry Bonds, Benito Santiago brought the house down with a thrilling, game winning homerun that propelled the Giants to the World Series. The feeling of releasing all of the tension that had a built up through eight innings and nearly three hours of a must-win nail-biter is incredible.

The energy at today's game was great, but we need to keep it going for the final home game of the season. So, with the Pedro Feliz grand slam fresh in your mind, channel all of your Joe Morgan mojo, your visions of Mike Ivie circling the bases, and your memories of Brian Johnson raising his arms above his head as he strode toward home plate in triumph, and scream in unison:



Friday, September 24, 2004

Chasing October

Yeah, I've finally gotten around to adding comments to the site. I've been busy for the last couple of years, ok?

Tragically, I don't have much time to provide my witty banter about the current pennant race, but I'll make some time for a nostalgic trip down memory lane. So pull up a chair, cause Grandpa Doug has a story to tell. If I was much, much older, I'd talk about the 1951 pennant race when the Giants went 37-8 down the stretch, erasing a 13 1/2 game deficit, and defeating the Dodgers in a three game playoff to win the pennant. Or maybe I'd tell you the story of the 1962 Giants who were four games behind the Dodgers with seven to play and not only caught the Dodgers, but beat them in a playoff to advance to the World Series.

Instead, let's revisit September of 1997. Having won the first game of a two game series against the hated Dodgers, the Giants were one game out of first place heading into a matinee matchup with LA on September 18, 1997. On the strength of a three-run homerun from Barry Bonds in the fifth inning, the Giants jumped out to a 5-1 lead. The Dodgers mounted a comeback, as shockingly, Julian Tavarez couldn't hold a lead. The Giants four run lead vanished when LA tied the game at 5 runs apiece in the seventh inning.

Neither side scored in the eighth or ninth, so the game moved to extra innings. In the top of the tenth, embattled reliever Rod Beck gave up three consecutive singles to open the inning. The Dodgers had the bases loaded with nobody out. With his back against the wall and the Candlestick faithful growing restless, Beck proved why he will always be one of my favorite Giants. Todd Zeile was caught looking at strike three for out number one. Then, Beck threw one pitch to Eddie Murray and got the Hall of Famer to ground weakly into a double play to end the inning. Inning over. Beck's line for the inning - 1 IP, 3H, 0 ER.

When the game moved to the bottom of the twelfth, a local kid named Brian Johnson lead off the inning for the Giants. You know the rest of the story. On the first pitch he saw from LA reliever Mark Guthrie, Johnson hit a laser to left. When it first left his bat I thought that the Hawk would swoop down and steal a homerun, much like it did earlier in the game when Eric Karros crushed a towering drive to left field. I was wrong. Johnson's shot to lead off the twelfth landed in the bleachers, sending the sell out crowd into a frenzy.

Giants 6
Dodgers 5

The Giants never looked back as they clinched the division championship a couple of weeks later.

One thing I'll remember about that series was the amazing energy from the crowd at Candlestick. I wasn't even at either of the games, but the crowd was so powerful you could practically feel them pushing Johnson's shot to left through the treacherous Candlestick winds and over the wall by the shear force of their will.

So, for this weekend series against the Dodgers, I have one request for fans who plan on attending the games - please be loud. I'm driving up from LA for the series and I want my ears to be ringing with the chants of "BEAT LA!" Tommy LaSorda won't be there (at least I don't think he won't), but boo him anyway. You know that guy who plays left field for the Giants - make some noise for him. Lord knows he deserves it.

Remember the joy you felt when Johnson's shot landed in the bleachers or the feeling of euphoria you had at the sight of Barry Bonds standing atop the Giants dugout celebrating a division championship. We need that energy in the Pac Bell crowd for the weekend series against the bums.

Feel free to add your own Giants/Dodgers memories. Or you can always take this opportunity to let me know that I'm an idiot for saying that "I've never been particularly high on Noah Lowry," among other things.

The Series:

Game 1 - Friday 7:15
Odalis Perez (6-6, 3.39) vs. Kirk Rueter (8-11, 4.82)

Game 2 - Saturday 1:10
Jose Lima (13-5, 4.06) vs. Brad Hennessey (?) (2-2, 4.40)

Game 3 - Sunday 1:05
Jeff Weaver (12-12, 4.00) vs. Brett Tomko (11-6, 4.15)



Monday, September 20, 2004

Ode to Barry

What's left to say about Barry Bonds that hasn't already been said? I'm stumped, so let's turn to some other internet writers to fill in the gaps.

* What would Barry Bonds' numbers look like if he was a pitcher? That's the question Dayn Perry of Baseball Prospectus asks in this column (subscription required). Perry uses VORP to translate Bonds' offensive stats into pitching stats. The result? Not surprisingly, the numbers are mind boggling.
"In 2001, Curt Schilling paced the majors with 256 2/3 innings pitched. Pegging Bonds '01 VORP of 154.1 to that figure, here's what we get:

Bonds 256.2 0.79 0.73

In case you've forgotten just how rarified Bonds' air is these days, this should serve as a sufficient reminder. In 2001, he could've pitched a league-leading number of innings and given up roughly 22 runs on the season. He also would've boasted an ERA about 595% better than the NL average that year. Additionally, his ERA in percentage terms would've fared better compared to Randy Johnson's second-best mark than Johnson's would've compared to Mike Hampton's ERA, which was the worst among NL qualifiers for the ERA title. In other words, Johnson was closer to the league's worst than to Bonds.

Since innings and runs allowed can vary while yielding the same VORP, it's worth wondering: How many scoreless innings could Bonds have pitched that season while still posting a VORP of 154.1? The answer: 224. That's an innings total that would've ranked sixth in the NL that season, and Bonds could've reached it without allowing a single run, earned or unearned. That's one of the stupidest things I've seen in my life. But there it is."
How about 2004?
"For the present season, Livan Hernandez is slated to top the loop with 247 innings, and Bonds, as previously mentioned, is on target for a VORP of 147. The digits:

Bonds 247.0 0.83 0.77

That's more like it. Bonds' ERA of 0.77 would be almost two full runs less than Johnson's league-pacing mark of 2.75. Again, in percentage terms, Bonds' ERA compares much more favorably to the Unit's NL best ERA than Johnson's does to Jose Acevedo's bottom-feeding 6.28. Put another way, Bonds this season could throw 213 2/3 innings without surrendering even one run to match his VORP.

Over the past four seasons, Bonds the pitcher could've maintained his actual VORPs while throwing 815 2/3 shutout innings. Once more for maximum emphasis: 815 2/3 shutout innings. That's roughly five fewer frames than Roger Clemens will wind up pitching over that same span. Imagine a pitcher who ranked 19th in all of baseball in innings pitched over a four-year span. Now imagine him not surrendering a single run in those four seasons. In terms of VORP, that's Bonds the pitcher."
* Not that there is any real debate about who the NL MVP is this season, but Random Fandom passes along this tidbit:
"2004 San Francisco Giants = 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks + Barry Bonds

How do I get this? Simple. Barry Bonds makes up (as of 9/9) about 20.5% of the Giants' Win Shares. Believing as I do that Win Shares shouldn't always use actual records but instead Pythagenport records, the San Francisco Giants not named Barry Bonds have 180 Win Shares. The D-Backs' Pythagenport-ized Win Share total? 169. Pretty close, eh? You know who's got my vote."
* And what would a post about tidbits be without a contribution from Jayson Stark? Stark joins the Bonds tidbit parade with some of his patented bits of useless information:
"Here's one more way to look at Bonds' 105 intentional walks this year. That's more intentional walks than all of these active players have walks in more than 1,500 career at-bats:

Shea Hillenbrand -- 84 BB, 2,121 AB
Bengie Molina -- 86 BB, 2,034 AB
Einar Diaz -- 89 BB, 1,908 AB
A.J. Pierzynski -- 76 BB, 1,853 AB
Cesar Izturis -- 78 BB, 1,737 AB
Juan Uribe -- 88 BB, 1,608 AB
Randall Simon -- 80 BB, 1,588 AB
Juan Castro -- 98 BB, 1,575 AB

Finally, one more Bonds stat that boggles our mind:

Even if he had zero hits this year (i.e., subtract his hit total from times on base), Bonds still would have a higher on-base percentage (.378) -- just counting his walks -- than Juan Pierre (.373), Vladimir Guerrero (.377), David Ortiz (.373), Milton Bradley (.363) or Rafael Furcal (.352). Among about 600 others."
* Lastly, Swingin' Amiss has a great post that notes that Barry Bonds could set an obscure record this year - most at-bats in a season by a player with more times on base (H+BB+HBP) than at-bats.
"Through the games of September 10, 2004, Barry Bonds has produced a batting line that includes 326 at-bats and 327 times on base (122 H, 198 BB, 7 BHP).

Thus Bonds has achieved a TOB/AB ratio of 1.003 and to put that into context here are the previous all-time best ratios in a full season:

.883 Barry Bonds - 2002
.746 Barry Bonds - 2003
.737 John McGraw - 1899
.735 Ted Williams - 1941
.726 Babe Ruth - 1923
.718 Barry Bonds - 2001
.710 Babe Ruth - 1920
.699 Ted Williams - 1954
.683 Ted Williams - 1957
.673 Mickey Mantle - 1957"
Read the whole thing. Go, now.


Friday, September 17, 2004


Congrats to Homerun Jesus on yet another milestone.

After all these years, this never gets old.


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Hi, I'm Al Pedrique...

...and I'm an enormous tool!
"I'm going to be honest. I don't want him to do it here at home. I'm sorry for the fans. I'm sorry for baseball. But that's the way it is. In this game, you have to have a lot of pride and the way this year has gone for us this would be the last thing that we need."
I've long defended opposing managers who repeatedly walk Barry Bonds, but this particular case crosses the line between being competitive and making a mockery of the game. The opposing manager's job is to win baseball games. If they feel that walking Barry Bonds in certain situations is a means of achieving their goal of winning, then they should walk him. When Al Pedrique walked Bonds down 5-1 in the seventh inning and freely admitted that his motivation for walking Bonds had nothing to do with winning a baseball game, he went too far.

Amazingly enough, the commish called Pedrique on his BS. Sort of. Selig said that Pedrique's comments "deserved further scrutiny." Knowing Selig, he won't do anything else to address the problem, but asking R. Budd to actually do his job would probably be asking too much. At the very least, the powers that be in baseball might acknowledge that a problem exists.

On Tuesday, Pedrique got wind of Seligula's comments and shifted to damage control mode. Pedrique offered this load of nonsense in an attempt to clarify his original comments:
"I don't think there's anything wrong if I said that you've got to have some pride when you play this game. You've got to have pride. The last thing I wanted to do was to give Barry an easy shot to hit 700 home runs and I don't think there's anything wrong with it.

If you look at the stats from the other teams, everybody has walked Barry Bonds. I'm not the only one. The Diamondbacks are not the only ones. For the commissioner to make that kind of comment, I would like to hear from him what was his reason behind it. Because again, there's nothing wrong with having pride when you play this game... Now watch this drive."
Memo to the soon to be former fortyoneandahalfbacks manager -- Of course, there's nothing wrong with "having pride when you play the game." However, denying someone the opportunity to reach a milestone because you don't want to be embarassed is not "playing with pride." Rather, you are making a mockery of the competitive spirit of baseball, while also establishing the fact that you are a bitter, selfish prick.

You're Fired!


Tuesday, September 07, 2004

The Best Laid Plans...

Just when you're about to finally give up on the Giants, they pull off a miraculous come from behind victory, giving you hope again that this flawed team could be headed to the playoffs. Then, a few days later, the Giants ace gives up 6 runs as SF loses a heartbreaker to the hapless Rocks. Will the real Giants team please stand up?

The Giants are in the midst of a 14 game stretch where they face off against the Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Brewers. With tonight's loss against the Rockies, the Giants have stumbled out to a 4-3 start in the first half of this 14 game stretch. This stretch of games should be the part of the schedule where the Giants should be making their move. Instead, they're just treading water.

Oh, and Dave Burba? I can't complain. But a three week rental of Dave Burba as your solution to the trainwreck that is the Giants blowpen is like preparing for hurricane Frances by sand bagging your front door with two dozen packets of sweet 'n low.

Will Barry Rest?

With under 25 games to go and still a few off days on the schedule, it looks like Bonds probably won't be taking any days off. If Bonds doesn't start, but later appears as a pinch hitter, then Felipe Alou needs to use him effectively. The option of either using Bonds as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning with the bases loaded or using him in the ninth inning with two outs and nobody on should be a fairly easy decision. Bonds needs to be used in the highest leverage situation possible.

When you're playing Scrabble and you have a blank tile, you don't use it as a letter C to spell the word cat. Instead, you use it to spell benzoxycamphors. Bad analogies aside, there is no way that Michael Tucker should hit for himself when the game is on the line and your trump card has not been used. Yes, Tucker wound up walking against Tom Martin in that situation, despite his historically poor numbers against lefties. But when you hit on 18 and get a 3, you didn't make a smart move, you made a lucky move.

Hopefully, Bonds will just play all of the remaining games anyway, rendering this discussion meaningless (although said discussion did allow me to use my benzoxycamphors line, so its not a total lost cause).

Death Cab for Cubbies

I'd like to extend a warm welcome back to the majors to my favorite player, Neifi Perez. Here's hoping that Neifarious gets a lot of playing time down the stretch for the Cubs.