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.