Westwood Blues

Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Thrill Talks Cooperstown

Mike Strom of the New Orleans Times-Picayune catches up with Will Clark. The Thrill shares his thoughts on retirement, family, and his Hall of Fame chances.
"Clark is pragmatic about whether his numbers are good enough to lead to a bust in Cooperstown.

"I'm eligible this year coming up," said Clark, a member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, the New Orleans Hall of Fame and the Texas Ranger and Mississippi State Halls of Fame. "If it comes along, that would be a fabulous honor. But I'm also very much a realist and I'm probably a little short (in numbers). They don't even give you a look until you have 300 homers.

"So if it comes along, great. If not, then that's very understandable. I didn't get into this sport to be in the Hall of Fame. My drive was to win. I wanted to win and I was going to do whatever it took with the bat and with the glove in order to win that baseball game. When I walked away from the game, that's the one thing that I wanted people to remember me as, a winner."
Read the whole thing.



Keltner List: William Nuschler Clark, Jr.
What Would Krukow Do?


Sunday, June 26, 2005

"He was Trouble From the Day He Got Here"

If you guessed that the above quote refers to Alex Sanchez, you'd be right. However, the quote wasn't made by a member of the Giants braintrust (at least not yet; they'll be saying that after they release Sanchez in a couple of months), but rather by a member of Devil Rays organization*, Sanchez' previous employer.

And wow, what a memorable first impression Sanchez made on his new team in his first start as a Giant. In the eighth inning, he dropped a can of corn in right field. The very next play, he interfered with Jason Ellison, who called Sanchez off on a routine fly to right-center, causing Ellison to drop the ball. After the game Sanchez had this to say for himself:
"I'm not going to put up excuses. Everyone saw me call the ball. He's coming from center field. I'm trying to make the play, and he drops it."
Classy. Yes, Sanchez did call for the ball. However, Ellison also called the ball. The centerfielder always takes charge in those types of situations. It's the CF's play.

And have I mentioned that Sanchez comes to the team with baggage? Well, not only does he come with baggage, he comes with enough baggage to fill the cargo pit of a Boeing 737. He's been released twice this year, he's been suspended for steroid use(!), he's burned bridges with his most recent employer, he complains publicly about lack of playing time, and not only is he a poor defender, he apparently has little interest in improving.

I give up. Why in the bloody fuck did the Giants claim Sanchez off waivers in the first place? Here's what Sabean has to say for himself:
"[Ellison] is not physically strong enough to play every day. You see him in the clubhouse. He's not a physical kid. If you think he's going to play every day, I don't think anybody believes that. He's on a high right now and I'm very aware of what he's hit, but it's still a long season and we haven't even hit the heat of our schedule yet, especially on the road."
Whatever. If I were to make a prioritized list of things that I would do fix the Giants franchise, "acquiring an OF/pinch runner to give Jason Ellison some days off and to give the team some speed" probably wouldn't make the top 50. Even if one does believe that resting Jason Ellison should be a priority for the rest of the year, the Giants already have Michael Tucker and Marquis Grissom (whenever he gets back) to fill that role. And while I haven't actually seen Todd Linden play CF and I'm not sure how much experience he has as a CF, I can state with a great deal of confidence that Linden is a better defensive CF than Alex Sanchez. As for adding speed to the team -- while Sanchez may be fast, his career stolen base % isn't anything to get excited about.

It's official. Alex Sanchez is the new Neifi.

* I heard this second-hand, but the person who told me this has no reason to make it up.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

What Would Krukow Do?

I used the "Ask Kruk and Kuip" feature on fsnbayarea.com to ask the guys if they would vote for Will Clark for the Hall of Fame.

Unfortunately, I don't always get the FSNBA feed on Extra Innings, so please let me know if Kruk and Kuip answer my question on the air.



Keltner List: William Nuschler Clark, Jr.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Crasnick: Strength and Determination

Jerry Crasnick of espn.com pens an outstanding article on cancer survivor and former UCSB middle infielder Chris Malec. As you may recall, Malec hit a grand slam against the Long Beachless State 49ers The Beach Dirtbags in his first game back from his cancer treatment.
"[UCSB Manager Bob] Brontsema didn't expect his shortstop to resume playing baseball until late May, but Malec beat the timetable by two weeks. In the first inning of his first start he hit a grand slam to lead the Gauchos to victory over a powerful Long Beach State team. The moment was equal parts Disneyesque and Kirk Gibsonesque.

"As I was going around third base, I knew this was one of those special moments in life where you just have to take time and smile, and thank God you have the opportunity to go through it,'' Malec said.

Bill Mahoney, Santa Barbara's sports information director, called Malec's home run perhaps the most emotional moment he has witnessed on an athletic field in 21 years at the school. "I was doing radio at the time,'' Mahoney said, "and I could hardly speak.''
Read the whole thing.

Malec has signed a contract with the New York Yankees and he expects to begin his pro career in early July.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

No Crustaceans, No Peace!

The latest goings on from our friends at Rehab the Crab, a grassroots movement dedicated to fighting the systematic and historic oppression of the Crazy Crab:
"Join the Crustacean Liberation Coalition and Rehab the Crab for a rally in front of Pac Bell Park to demand the return of basball's greatest and worst mascot ever!

WHEN: Saturday, July 9th, 2005 ~ Noon
WHERE: Pac Bell Park
WHY: Free the Crab!

The 'deets:

* Meet up in "The Park Bar & Grill" (747 3rd Street), located a half block from Willie Mays plaza, at Noon.

* Crab hats and "protest" signs will be provided - or bring your own sign!

* Join the Crustacean Commotion lap around the park raising awareness of the injustice!

* If you're not going into the game - retire to The Park Bar & Grill for a PBR and watch the Giants game... if you can tolerate it."


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Roster Moves

The Giants roster shake up continues as Fonzie and Grissom hit the DL, while AAA outfielders Todd Linden and Adam Shabala were called up to the big club.

After a successful 2002 campaign, Todd Linden didn't make quite the progress that his fans were hoping for in his next two seasons.

Here's what I said about Linden this past January:
"I'm one of the biggest Todd Linden fans that you'll find, but even I can't characterize Linden's 2004 as anything other than a disapointment. Doing me (sic) best to stay positive, I'll note that Linden's power numbers improved late in the season.

I should be just about ready to give up on Linden, but I can't let rational thinking get in the way of fanboydom. I'll give him another month before I start printing up some snazzy Nate Schierholtz fan club membership cards."
Long live irrational thinking and fanboydom! Linden has been tearing it up at Fresno this year, hitting .326/.446/.692, while leading the PCL with 19 HRs. After seeing a long line of once promising Giants outfield prospects post big numbers in the minors, only to flame out in the majors, Giants fans are hopeful that Linden doesn't follow a similar fate.

A non-exhaustive list of Giants related stuff that I'd really, really like to see sometime before I die:
1) A World Series Championship (obviously)

2) Homerun Jesus setting the all-time Homerun record

3) A Giants corner outfield prospect developing into a legitmate middle of the order, .300 EqA major league hitter
The Giants inability to develop productive corner outfielders can't just be a matter of some combination of bad luck, bad scouting, and poor drafting. There just has to be a more complicated explanation. Like maybe something involving aliens and stuff. Enter the San Francisco Giants Corner Outfield Prospect Borg.

The mental image of The San Francisco Giants Corner Outfield Prospect Borg surrounding a terrified Mark Leonard in a Scottsdale hotel room in 1991, exclaiming, "We are The San Francisco Giants Corner Outfield Prospect Borg! Your replacement level hitting and defensive skills will be added to our own collection of replacement level hitting and defensive skills. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated!" while sapping Leonard's skills is just too cool for it not to be true.

The San Francisco Giants Corner Outfield Prospect Borg hasn't evolved much in the last 20 years because The Borg keep assimilating corner outfielders with the same AAAA skillset.

Here's hoping that Todd Linden goes on to have a successful career with the Giants, while avoiding assimilation at the hands of the San Francisco Corner Outfield Prospect Borg.

Around the Blogosphere

Trapped in LA is a new Giants blog whose author is a fellow Giants fan residing in LA. Hat tip to Orange and Black Baseball for the link.

Also, I had previously linked to San Fran Sports Man, but neglected to plug his blog. I normally don't link to sites that aren't exclusively Giants blogs, but the SFSM is just so damn entertaining that I had no choice but to link to him. He covers all of the cool Bay Area teams (as well as the third place Earthquakes) along with pop culture and reality TV, so make sure to check him out if you haven't already.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Let's Not Talk About the Giants

If we ignore our problems, maybe they'll go away.

Traaa laaa laaa laaa laaa...I'm not listening, I can't hear you...traaaa laaa laaa laaa. What losing streak? What are you talking about?

Talking about the 2005 team is just too depressing and frustrating right now. So instead, let's wow each other with our collective knowledge of Giants trivia. It's trivia time! As always, don't cheat and look up the answers. Winners will receive 5 points.
1) Who was the Giants lone All-Star in the 1985 (100 loss) season?

2) Only 6 San Francisco Giants pitchers have won a World Series game. How many of them can you name?

3) The Giants franchise needs 14 more wins to reach 10,000 wins in franchise history. How many other franchises can you name that have over 10,000 wins?


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Ranking Sabean

David Gassko of the The Hardball Times penned a great article in which he attempts to quantify the performance of each MLB general manager.
"My first step was to think out what the key things are that a GM has to do, and which ones are quantifiable. I came up with three categories that I can measure and that I think are extremely important. They are: building a roster tailored to the team’s home ballpark, getting good bang for your buck, and making smart in-season decisions, whether that involves making a trade or sticking by a struggling player."
Gassko goes into further detail in explaining his methodology for each category. Read the whole thing.

So how did Giants GM Brian Sabean stack up in 2004?

1) "Building a team tailored to its home ballpark" -- 22nd
2) "Bang for your buck" -- 19th
3) "Midseason actions" -- 5th

4) Overall -- 15th

Sabean's "Midseason actions" ranking seems a little bit out of whack. I don't see a cause and effect relationship between Sabean's "midseason actions" and the Giants stellar performance in August and September. The only trade Sabean made at the July trading deadline backfired. Although, I suppose Giants management should get credit for 1) Bringing up Noah Lowry 2) Releasing Neifi 3) Sending Tomko to a sports psychologist and sticking with him after a mediocre first half and 4) Building a pretty good team in the first place.

Gassko's ranking system could probably be classified as more of a "fun toy" than some sort of definitive method of evaluating GM performance. As is the case with all metrics, his rankings should be blended with subjective analysis to create a broader picture. Nevertheless, it was an outstanding article and in the absence of a generally accepted method of quantifying GM performance, it's a good start.

The overall rankings pass my personal smell test in that the 5 GMs who I consider to be the best in the business (John Schuerholtz, Billy Beane, Terry Ryan, Walt Jocketty, and Theo Epstein) all ranked in the top half of the standings (although any GM ranking system in which John Schuerholtz is not ranked in the top 5 raises some skepticism).

As for Sabean, I think it's probably fair to rank him in the middle of the pack in terms of performance in 2004. Were you to ask me in 2000-2003 where Sabes would rank, I would've argued that Sabean was in the top 10, maybe even top 5. But a series of poor trades and a few questionable free agent signings has seen Sabes' stock fall. Let's face it, Sabean has been in a slump for the last couple of years.

* * *

For the record, even if the Giants 2005 season were to go down in flames, I do not want to see Sabean fired at the end of the season.

1) Sabean's track record is outstanding. During Sabes' tenure, the Giants have finished no lower than second in the NL West, while making four playoff appearances. This is despite the fact that they have never had the highest payroll in the division during that time period.

2) The two leading candidates to replace Sabes would probably be Assistant GM Ned Colletti and Personnel Director Dick Tidrow. On principle, I do not want the chief negotiator of the Neifi Perez contract to be the GM of my team. As for Tidrow, his record to date as the architect of the Giants farm system speaks for itself.

In Sabes we kinda trust.