Monday, May 2, 2011

When will the batting slump end for the Giants?

April was a disappointment. What an understatement. The upside, if there is one is that maybe we can get it out of the way early in the season, and somehow engineer a reversal of fortunes. The Giants have a good line up. In my view it is better than last years and at the very least just as good. It is only a matter of time until all of the Giants get hot bats at the same time. When this happens they will begin to win six and a half to seven games for every ten played. Unfortunately, we cannot wait for a long time for that to happen.

I have much respect for Rowand. He is hitting great and his defense is really top notch. He is getting off the ball quickly and chasing the balls down.  I congratulate him on his season so far. Sandoval’s injury is very costly at this time because of his batting and fielding. On the bright side Fontenot is doing a great job at shortstop. Hopefully he will continue to hit well.

Up until now the pitching is looking a little off with the exception of Baumgarner’s last outing and the performance of the bullpen. It is always a shame to watch someone pitch as well as Baumgarner did today and see them get absolutely no offensive support. Hopefully Baumgarner’s effort will start a trend that will last for the rest of the season.

Perhaps it is too early but if I am to be critical of anything it would be the acquisition of Miguel Tejada. So far this year he has not shown me much of anything. Sometimes I feel sorry for him out there because he seems to be out of his element. I am not just speaking of his plate performance; His defense is really questionable to me also. When Sandoval recovers there needs to be careful attention given to whether or not to play him on a regular basis.

The one thing that I will continue to emphasize is that the Giants should not be counted out this early in the season. It is only a matter of time until they once again look like the team that won the World Series. I still believe that they can win ninety-eight games this year.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lackluster hitting and pitching

If one was asked to sum up the reason for the Giant’s slow start this year in a phrase it would be lackluster, inconsistent hitting and pitching.  Let’s face it, they are not hitting the ball the way they should, and the pitchers are walking way too many people. They showed some life on the last road trip, but the short, three game home stand with Atlanta was abysmal. Nothing seemed to go right.  The hitters could not hit and the pitchers could not find their spots. This question looms large; was the phenomenal run to the World Series a fluke? I don’t think so. What is the possible problem?

Here is one possibility that has crossed my mind over the last few days. I think that the recent home stand demonstrates that they are trying too hard and thinking too much. Could it be that because of the tremendous fan turn out and support that the Giants are thinking too much about letting them down? They need to go back to being underappreciated and under rated. That seems to be the main drive that they have to achievement.

The only person that seems to be having fun right now is Pablo Sandoval. Oh, there are glimpses of their greatness; Buster Posey’s two run homer in yesterday’s game and how about Rowand’s clutch double in the bottom of the seventh inning?

It is just a matter of time until the hitting and the pitching come together… hope it is soon! Perhaps this ten game road trip back east will take some of the pressure off. I really do think it is the pressure. I know many say no, that they are a veteran team, and that pressure is not in the mix. I say hogwash. The truth is however that winning the World Series can bring a big amount of pressure to bear, especially on a group of guys who are not superstars per se and acclimated to the constant attention. The press that got Belt tied up in knots is affecting everyone to a degree. He is doing well back in triple A. Hopefully, the road trip back east will do the same for the rest of the Giants. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Moving on to the third week; Giants Review

It is still way too early in the season to make any big conclusions about trends. Having admitted that, let me share some more observations. The celebrations are over… the rings have been handed out… the flag is flying in center field… we won the series with the Cardnials, we won the series with the Dodgers, we won the series with the D-Backs, and we won the first game with the Rockies. This is an excellent trend, and I am confident that it will continue.

First off, Lincecum’s and Sanchez’s wins against the rockies were stellar. The Giants’ bats are cracking in unison and runs are being scored. I still am a little concerned with the amount of talent they have. What I mean is the depth in the outfield. I wish that one of those good outfield hitters was shortstop, but I don’t always get what I want. I am really pulling for Belt and I like what I see, but as it turns out, I was right in the beginning, and he needs some more time in triple A. I am certain that he will be able to solve his batting challenges there and return to the giants for a very productive career.

Huff, Posey and Sandoval are on track to hit over 100 RBI’s each this year, and Sanchez, Burrell and Tejada are not far behind. I am really excited to see Aaron Rowand with such a hot bat and contributing to the scoring daily.

Here are some things that you can count on; Colorado will not continue at the .722 win percentage and the Giants will move closer to the .600 percentage mark. They have incredible offensive depth and great pitching… not to mention the fact that the Rockies have had a pretty easy schedule for the first part of their season. They have had seven of their games with the Mets and the Pirates… not a bastion of great pitching.

Cody Ross is back in the lineup and ready to go. I am still confident in my ninty-eight wins prediction, and we will see where we are at after 40 games

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Observations from yesterday’s loss to the Dodgers:

The Giants are not off to a great start is an understatement, but still it is early in the season and I expect a change in fortunes for them; Having said that, I would like to mention a couple of observations that jump to the surface.

Madison Bumgarner is a self-confessed hot head. He has said that things going wrong can affect his game. This is probably true of all pitchers, but I have a hunch that it is a much bigger issue with Madison. This is something that he has to get under control if he is to have success in the big leagues. It’s almost as if word has spread amongst the umpires and they are testing him purposely. No, I am not accusing Jerry Davis of purposefully calling against Bumgarner with prejudice but, I think that he may have been conscious of his normally generis strike zone and altered it a tad. Hopefully, Bumgarner will not continue to allow his emotions to rule his head. That would be a shame.

Practically the whole line-up of the Giants are not hitting for some reason. First there is the possibility that they have mentally given Kershaw too much power over them. If they think they can’t hit him then, they will definitely not hit him. However it is not Kershaw alone. The Giants only have two hitters above the .300 mark, and Posey and Huff are not hitting that well. Certainly, they are not getting clutch hits and run rallies.  The truth is that even with Torres and Ross hurt they should be doing more damage than they are. They have to find a way to manufacture at least four to five runs a game.

Belt has to find a way to quit grounding out to second and striking out. I am sure that the pressure is great in his mind, but still he needs to calm down and perform. If we can get Posey, Huff and Sanchez hitting like Sandoval they will be unstoppable.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The torture is not gone yet!

Friday afternoon was a beautiful day for baseball… a fitting setting for the opener of the World Champion Giants. The program and festivities were excellent and there’s a great looking new flag flying in right center field. ATT Park was packed and the new, crisp white uniforms gleamed in the bright sunlight.  Slowly over this weekend series the pomp and circumstance will be put to rest and the season will begin to flow onward.

So with that, I have some questions. Do the Giants have too much talent for their own good? Here’s what I mean… you never really know these days who’s going to be clutch hitting hot. They have Huff, Torres, Burrell, Ross, and Rowand and only three fields to fill. All are contribuiting at times. I must say, that when Sheirholtz, Torres and Rowand were in the outfield toward the end of the torturous grueling overtime stint I felt much more comfortable defensively. And, Rowand ended up being the hero.

Much of my career was in marketing and sales and the old “what have you done for me lately” was the rule. Will that serve the Giants well this season? Or, will it cause the players to be depressed and out of sorts? Is it good to have a squad that is always wary of their playing status? How long does one tolerate a slump? I think that if there are always people in the lineup hitting in clutch situations it goes a long ways toward insuring high scoring games.

What a game though… it was cruising along toward a three to two finish and all of the sudden wham… it transformed into a tortuous nightmare. All I can say for the opening day was thank God that Aaron Rowand was still on the team! It will be fun to watch… never a dull moment but, will my hat survive all the slamming?

I think that over the season all of these questions will work themselves out, and I really do believe that we are better off with too much talent than not enough. At least if feels like I can settle in and allow the season to run its natural course. I am still hopeful and believe that maybe the season will not be quite as torturous as last year.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A time for patience not worry

Well, I too am not happy with the results of the opening series in Los Angeles. I cannot imagine a Giants fan that would be. However, at the risk of repeating tired cliché’s the season is not a sprint it is a marathon. I suppose that talk radio has to promote criticism to be considered interesting but, for me, too many fans are being way too critical. I still believe that when we get twenty to thirty games accomplished that the Giants will win six out of every ten. Six hundred ball is something that I am expecting from them this year. I also am confident that they will lead the western division and go into the playoffs.

I was wrong in my last post about Belt. He is definitely ready for prime time and, will be an excellent contributor this season both in the field and at the plate. One of the reasons for his low batting average this far is his great eye.  After all, his on base percentage is .353 and, he has contributed to the runs scored both by scoring and with RBI’s. I look for him to raise his batting average significantly but still, his good eye will make his average lower than it could be if he swung indiscriminately but, his on base record will be great and, RBI’s, home runs and, runs scored will be above average. His defense will be outstanding.

The defense and pitching will improve. It has not received much mention but, in reality the pitching was sub-par for all the games except for Matt Cain’s outing. I realize that it is the beginning of the season and skills and endurance are still being developed and honed. I would say that the pitching was equally culpable with the defensive mistakes. In fact, unlike other commentators, I would say that they could have won in spite of the defensive blunders if the pitching had been a little better. Again, let me point to Matt Cain’s effort.

It seems that the pressure of being defending world champs has played a large psychological role in the early games. Hopefully, they will recover from anxious nerves very soon and, settle in to be the Giants we saw last year.

Here are some things on my wish list:
  • Miguel Tejada, Pablo Sandoval and Andres Torres should swing a little less.
  • Brandon Belt should swing just a little more.
  • Burrell should spend a little more time on spray hitting and swing for the fence only on really good pitches
  • Freddie Sanchez; stay the way you are right now!
  • Aubrey Huff; don’t let the haters get to you.
  • Everyone; concentrate on the fundamentals.

All in all, it is going to be a great season!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Reflections of the Giants’ spring training

Even though the season is still a day away it is great to have the Giants back in the bay area at ATT Park.  Watched the Monday night game at the ball park and, yesterday’s game on tv. I still want to make some prognostications and share some observations. Brandon Belt will start the season in Fresno... my prediction. If not, it will be because of his overall batting statistics. He is doing ok now but, his real success came earlier in the spring training season where the big league pitchers were still sharpening their skills and, when some of the pitching was from pitchers destined to the minor leagues. Many compare him to Posey but, I think that Buster is in a category of his own.  I do not think it would hurt Belt to get a little more exposure in triple A baseball. If he makes the big leagues at the start… it will be because of his RBI’s and Ross’s injury.

I was really pleased with Barry Zito’s outing last evening. if the Giants continue to provide the offense that they have shown over the last 34 games of this year’s spring training, Zito could win 13 – 15 games and that would be really good. I guess I am saying that we need to lay off Barry for a while. His curve ball and control was looking especially good last evening.

Pablo Sandoval continues to pleasantly amaze me. What a comeback and I am quite confident that he will be able to maintain his outstanding play. Also,he is really starting to make some great defensive plays like the foul ball late in Monday’s game and his great defensive stab at the third base line yesterday at Oakland. His bat continues to be hot and, I believe that it will continue also. He will make a great contribution to the team this year.

This year’s starting lineup is a lineup that you can expect hits and runs from all the positions. You never know which of the team will contribute to the scoring on any given evening. Of course, you can count on Huff and Posey every game it seems but the rest seem to take turns. The great thing is this…  some part of the batting order is usually hot each game and, that will go a long way toward the 98 wins I am predicting.

Well, the season starts tomorrow and then we can count on looking at it one game at a time one hundred and sixty two times. I will make some predictions about the divisions and outcomes tomorrow.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

Impatiently waiting for the opening of the season

In the last post I made my prediction of at least 98 wins for the Giants this year and, I am sticking to it… even more committed than when I wrote it. Everything about spring training so far is encouraging. In fact, it is my intent to make a legal wager on this very soon.

It is interesting to me that as I grow older; I find that the baseball season transports my mind back to simpler times… to the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. I keep getting brief flashbacks of the humid evenings with my dad listening to Tiger games on the front porch… to the vivid blue sky, bright yellowish green grass and, the dark forest green paint of Tiger Stadium. I remember my boyhood heroes… Al Kaline, Harvey Kueen, Charley Maxwell, Reno Bertoia, Frank Bolling, Jim Bunning and the gang. I remember my loathing the Yankees and their incessant winning.

I also remember rising early to go out to the sand lot near my home and, how we would play ball from early morning to dusk day after day. I remember my grandma coming to the lot and yelling because I was catching too close to the hitter.  I remember the cabin fever that built up in late March in Michigan. It seemed like opening day would never come and, that warm weather was not going to make it that particular year. But always, the snow would disappear and, the warmth would bring it on.

Now, I am in the bay area and, you can play catch year around. If there is anything I miss here it is the lingering warmth; especially in the evenings at ATT Park. They can seem chilly all summer long.

Did I say that I am enthusiastically awaiting Pablo Sandoval’s performance in the regular season? I am looking forward to Posey’s at bats, Belt coming up from triple A ball later in the season, the great pitching, the increase in offense from all the team that could enable Zito to have a much better year. I think that the lineup will be packed with potential hits and runs and I cannot wait.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Going out on a limb; predicting that the San Francisco Giants win 98 games this year

Do you ever shake your head in disbelief when you hear the national sports media insinuating that the Giant’s World Series win was merely a fluke? The over-under prediction in Las Vegas for the Giants this year is 88 games and Philadelphia, by the same article, has an over-under prediction 97.5.  For those of you who wonder about it, the over-under prediction is made so that a bet can be placed and odds can be given on how many games an individual team would win. In this scenario if the Giants win more than 88 games one would win +120.

As I watch spring training games via my MLB package it seems clear that not many of the other team broadcasters are predicting that San Francisco would repeat. Again, it seems that they think it was a fluke. But personally, I think that the odds are quite high that these people will be forced to eat their words and change their attitudes. I think that the Giants can easily win ninty-eight games this season and maybe more and it will likely be less torturous as well.

I realize that it is early to make a prediction like this but, from all of the signs I see, it is certainly within the realm of reasonable possibilities. What do I base my optimism on you ask? Well, The answer is in the potential bats that the Giants will have this year. This could well be the year when offense will be easier. There are certainly signs of this in the spring training camp so far. They are winning games with the other team scoring four or more runs. This has been due to clutch hitting by several different players.

The hitters that have been stellar so far are Buster Posey, Matt Derosa, Andres Torres, Cody Ross, Mike Fontenot, Miguel Tejada, Pablo Sandoval and, Brandon Belt.  The names are listed by batting averages from .643 down to .318.  Both Posey and Sandavol have had 7 RBI’s. So far this spring Huff, Burrell and Rowand have been a little disappointing but, did I say it’s early?

As far as pitching goes, here is how the breakdown of prospective wins could work. If Lincecum gets the same as last year 16, Cain does one better 14, Sanchez does one better 14 wins, Bumgarner gets 14 wins and, Zito gets 11 wins then, the relievers would only have to win 29 (less than last year) to achieve the 98 wins.

Add to this thousands of believing fans and it is well within reach… remember what the mind can believe it can achieve… start believing.