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Archive for the ‘Giants’ Category

Weekend Thoughts

Posted by davefowkes on 04/18/2009

A wide variety of thoughts to get me through my weekend:

–It was very interesting listening to the entire Bay Area jump ship on the Sharks Friday. Thursday was clearly a big disappointment for one and all. But I am clearly in the minority thinking that San Jose played okay. They need to play better of course, but it is not like this series is over. Most importantly the Sharks must solve their problems on the power play. If they can get that corrected they will win game 2 and go on to win this series. If they can’t score on the power play, well, let’s just say that would not be good.

–The Sharks must be more decisive on their shots. They had enough shots on net but they were not quick and the goalie and the defense was ready for the shot. The Sharks need to get more movement in the offensive zone. If they can get the defense and goalie moving, those Shots will be far more effective, especially on that power play.

–I still like the look of this young A’s pitching staff. Taking 2/3 from Boston was very nice. The only loss was Brett Anderson who only gave up two runs in 7 innings but lost when the bullpen blew up in the 8th inning and Tim Wakefield was throwig a no-hitter into the 8th inning. Trevor Cahill goes again today but so far his first two starts have been very good. Dallas Braden has got the job done so far. If the hitters can keep up with the pitchers, the A’s have a shot to contend.

–Eric Chavez hurt in the first week. There is a stunner. Notice, at first it was a day off. Then a series. Now he hopes to return on Monday. That is Eric Chavez for you. Hopefully Bobby Crosby continues to improve now that he is getting a few days in a row in the lineup to work on his defense and improve his hitting.

–Too early to say “I told you so?” The Giants are as good or as bad as their starting pitching. So far that pitching has been pretty poor. Tim Lincecum with two bad outings, the Big Unit looking old and Barry Zito looking like Barry Zito. That is enough to lead to an 0-6 road trip. Last night Jonathan Sanchez stepped up with a great outing, and the Giants win. As goes the staring rotation, so goes the Giants!

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Pains me to watch Zito

Posted by davefowkes on 04/11/2009

Anyone else hurt when they watch Barry Zito pitch? From Cy Young winner to just not a very good pitcher.

I am a big fan of Zito from his A’s days, so I do route for him, but there is just not much left to route for. Watching Zito pitch last night was just painful. There is nothing like a three run first inning to instill positive vibes for the rest of the season.

To his credit Zito settled down and only gave up one more run in the next three innings but the damage was done. Zito’s opening start line: 7ip, 4 runs, 7 hits, 4 strikeouts and 2 walks.  That is a line champions are made of!

Zito’s arm strength just is not there so he needs to be perfect in placement. Once or twice this year I am sure that he will be and it will be great to see him shut teams down. Unfortunately it will just be once or twice and the rest of the year we will watch Zito struggle through the season. The Giants offense is better so Zito is unlikely to lose 12 straight games like last year, but it is hard to imagine his upside being above 500 anymore.

The Giants staff will struggle at some point this season with the decision of what to do with Zito. Bench him? Put him in the bullpen? The contract will go down in history as one of the worst.

Zito is a great guy and I hope that he can turn this around, but until he does, it is getting tough to watch!

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Opening Day Thoughts

Posted by davefowkes on 04/07/2009

Baseball plays for real now! A couple of quick notes from the first day and a half of action:

–So they A’s spent all this money on offense and what does it buy them? Three hits! Whoa! I know it is just one game but that was not what the A’s nation wanted to see on opening night. A 3-0 shutout and just getting three hits. At least it was newcomers Matt Holliday, Orlando Cabrera and what appears to be a healthy Eric Chavez who got them, but I think we all expected more.

–Dallas Braden was okay which is just what I expect from him. He should have a better year than his past but he just does not strike me as the shut down ace of your staff. I am looking forward to Trevor Cahill’s debut tonight and Brett Anderson’s debut on Thursday!

–Apparently the Giants can hit! In a game that may have been rained out, it was the pitchers that got rained on. Nice explosion from an offense that needs all the momentum it can get. Nice to see Travis Ishikawa start out strong. Bengie Molina looked sharp. And Aaron Rowand seems past his bad spring now that the games count for real?

–Tim Lincecum did not look good. I worry about that NOT at all! It just goes to show you how meaningless these long spring trainings can be because in the first month in cold environments, often bad weather, and sometimes just bad pitching, even great pitchers look terrible. Lincecum was off his game, but how about Brandon Webb? How about CC Sabathia? When these guys struggle in June we’ll talk, until then, this is still spring training for some pitchers.

–That said, anytime the Giants win when Lincecum struggles is huge!

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Giants Destined For Mediocrity (My Giants Preview!)

Posted by davefowkes on 04/05/2009

It is a combination of youth and age that will be on display for the city by the bay. The San Francisco Giants enter the season hoping to mesh their talent into a National League West championship. The Giants will need good health, better luck and Tim Lincecum to make that happen!

I have blogged on the Giants pitching before. It is said to be their strength this year. While I agree it is the strongest part of the team, I still see trouble out there. Lincecum is the ace, I have no problem there. As long as he stays healthy, I see no reason for him not to win 20 games and challenge for a second straight Cy Young.

After Lincecum is where your questions pop up. Matt Cain is all potential and no run support. But at some point he needs to find a way to win close games on his own. Jonathan Sanchez I like a lot, but can he bring it for a full season? Then there is the age and experience of Randy Johnson. It is unbelievable how good he is at 45 but can his back last the whole year? And Barry Zito is still bad until proven otherwise. His fastball looks like mine. If he gets 12 wins the Giants should be very thankful! Still a lot of question marks on a starting five that is supposed to lead the team!

The bullpen is not much different. Brian Wilson established himself as the closer last year. He put up good saves numbers but for anyone who watched the games, it is not like they were 1-2-3 innings every time out. So in his second year does he settle down in the 9th and get better? Or does the league catch up to him and knock him around? Setting up will be the greatness of Bob Howry, Alex Hinshaw, Jeremy Affeldt. There is a lot of youth in the bullpen and that could be a great thing, or not.

The offense should be better than last year, but not significantly. It is all about Pablo Sandoval for the G-men. Sandoval has looked great since being called up last year. The Giants need him to be huge this year. Travis Ishikawa has had a nice spring and has won the first base job. If he can supply some key hits and a few homers that will be a huge plus. Edgar Renteria at shortstop is just fine although he is way over paid. I am not such a fan of Emmanual Burris at second base but he is young and maybe he can show us something this year.

The outfield is mediocre at best. Fred Lewis in left certainly is the hope and dream of Giants fans. Anohter needed commodity for any Giants success. But he has had injury troubles in his first few years. Aaron Rowand looks like he is done. He did not do much last year and followed up with a horrible spring training. He could find himself on the bench by May if he does not pick up his game. Randy Winn keeps on chugging in right.

Bengie Molina is the power hitter behind the plate. Who would have thought 5 years ago that Molina would be a clean up hitter? Yet he is the true star for the Giants lineup. With not much depth behind him, the Giants will need him to stay healthy and catch a lot of games this year.

If Molina is healthy and hits home runs, Sandoval slams the ball around, Lewis takes a big step up and Ishikawa impresses, the Giants are going to make things interesting in the west. If Lincecum is even better than last year, Cain gets offensive support, Sanchez continues to improve and the Big Unit stays healthy, watch out west!

But if any of the above does not fall into place, I see the Giants as an improved team from last year, but not quite ready to play with the big boys. The Giants could easily make things fun in April and May before running out of gas in the summer. Either way they should build on the 72 wins of last year. But I don’t think they are going to reach that 500 plateau. Let’s go with 79 wins for the Giants and a third place finish in a down NL West.

UPDATE:  Count me as one of the many who think it is absolutely silly to keep Sandoval as the backup catcher to Molina. Let the kid learn his trade at third and don’t bog him down with having to worry about catch. Meanwhile they need depth behind Molina to not wear him out. I realize this experiment is likely only for a few weeks, but it can be so limiting during games not having that extra catcher, I am quite sure it will backfire.

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Sanchez Burns Finger

Posted by davefowkes on 04/01/2009

Here is one you just don’t hear every day. Jonathan Sanchez is in danger of missing the start of the season for the San Francisco Giants because he burned his finger while cooking!  Here is the story from Andrew Baggarly.

It seems baseball has always been filled with bizarre injuries, from slips in the shower, scares from spiders and then of course every Giants fans favorite, the washing of the truck!

But burning the finger while cooking? I suppose it happens but having it happen a week before the regular season to your #3 starter is just bad luck. Doesn’t he make enough money to go out to dinner? Maybe the Giants should hire a cook for him?

Fortunately it does not sound serious, I am guess the worst of it could be a missed start and a lot of lip from his fellow teammates! Burning his finger while cooking? Let’s hope he was cooking more than pop tarts out of a toaster!

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Do The Giants Have Pitching?

Posted by davefowkes on 03/29/2009

The Giants have three pitchers with Cy Young Awards, they have a combination of youth and experience, and they have the potential to rank as a top 3 rotation in the Major Leagues this year. All the talk surrounding the Giants tends to revolve around the lineup and who will drive in the runs. It is almost a given that the Giants rotation will be good. But will it? It certainly could, but I see a lot of potential land mines along the way. Let’s break it down by pitcher:

Tim Lincecum: Defending Cy Young champ. Sky is the limit for this guy. The only long term question seems to be will his small body take the beating of pitching over the years. Their is a potential for a Cy Young hangover, but Lincecum is the one guy I don’t question on this staff.

Matt Cain: He has been snake bit by lack of run support throughout his career. He has a great arm, but if he does not put it together this year he may just need a change of scenery. We can make excuses all we want but at some point Cain has to win games, whether he gets the run support or not. Last year he seemed to be dominant in 1-0 losses and then not so good in 8-6 losses. Either way he would get the loss! Is he that good?

Jonathan Sanchez: I actually like Sanchez’s potential. But last year was his first as a starter. He showed promise but was very inconsistent over the course of the year. If he improves he could easily slide in behind Lincecum as a great #2 pitcher. But if he can not master the game, he will drive Giants fans crazy with his inconsistency.

Randy Johnson: Old, old, old. Johnson was a nice pickup. He has some arm left. But at 45-years old how many starts do the Giants really expect to get out of him? And how successful will he be? Johnson has the feel of a 10-10 pitcher or thereabouts. And again, that is if his back can survive.

Barry Zito: Then there is the always fun Zito. I still like him from his A’s years, but the reality is that his fastball is clocking out about as fast as a Tim Wakefield knuckleball. I would love to see the return of the old Zito, but until proven otherwise, Zito will try to cling to a spot in the rotation.

Noah Lowry: How will he be when he returns from injury? You can certainly imagine him being in the rotation for an injured Johnson or bad Zito when he does return, but what will his game look like coming off a major surgery?

On paper the Giants have a great spring rotation. Lots of hope and potential, but when they start throwing for real in April, I wonder if the Giants problems will just be limited to their lineup. If the rotation struggles, the team is toast! Let’s hope for Giants fans that this is all about nothing, Lincecum is just like last year, Cain gets over the hump, Sanchez dominates, Johnson stays healthy, and Zito finds his rhythm. The Giants will win a lot of games that way! But I just wonder if all five of those things can really happen!

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