Four with Score; and Going for the Division

The Question on every Giants fans mind right now is who will pitch the final game of the Houston series.  While many are speculating that it will be Joe Martinez, there is another idea that needs to be explored!

What about Tim Lincecum?

Why not go two weeks with a four man rotation?  The Giants have days off on both Thursdays in the next two weeks requiring Lincecum to throw on three days rest on Wednesday, and Zito to do the same August 11th.

The best part of the four man rotation would be the Giants pitching staff against the Dodgers.  Lincecum, Zito, and Cain; and wouldn’t require Martinez to make the jump to the Big League level until August 18th when the Giants are in Cincinnati (P.S. Martinez is a groundball pitcher and we need a guy like that in the sandbox that is Great American Ballpark).

This would also allow Sabean a couple of weeks to scavenge the waiver wire in hopes of making a trade for a legitimate fifth starter. 
         

 

WILD CARD FEVER!

Here we are in July, and yes, we are talking the wild card!!  The Giants have tied the Rockies for the lead in the wild card for the second time in a week span and meanwhile other teams have entered the picture as serious contenders. 

The N.L. Central is going to be one of the few divisions that still won’t be decided late into September and the Cubs and Cardinals are already realizing the importance of each game.  Every couple of days these two teams tend to be trading places atop their division, and with the additions of Derosa, Holliday, and Lugo, the Cards now hope to stay at the top.

So Giants fans now have two teams from the central to watch nightly along with the Marlins, Braves, and Mets from the east as the Phillies start to run away with the division.  So what is it the Giants need to make a real shot at the Wild Card?

Pitching!

While this may seem like ridiculous statement to make about a team that has such a strong bullpen and two of the top starters in the league, the Giants backside of the rotation is going to be what really defines the rest of their season.   Jonathon Sanchez (3-9) and Ryan Sadowski (2-3) we be needed more then ever after the news of Randy Johnsons move to the sixty day DL. 

Sanchez has throw much better in the last month recording a no hitter July 10, but has been hindered by a big long ball in his two starts since the All Star break.

Sadowski’s dominance in his first two starts against the Brewers and Astros has yet to be duplicated as he has struggled getting ahead in counts and keeping the ball down.  In his last three starts he has totaled only 10 2/3 innings.

Both men face enormous tests this week as they kick off a four game set against the incredible hot Philadelphia Phillies.  The Giants want to give Sadowski time to work out the kinks, but also understand the importance of each start he makes.  His leash has got to be short with Kevin Pucetas waiting in Fresno.

Some have even speculated the Giants as trade candidates for a starting pitcher.  Highly unlikely they will bring in a big name, but perhaps someone with veteran experience.  While the Nick Johnson for Jonathon Sanchez deal is still on the table, it is highly doubtful the Giants will look to move him until the off season.           

Meanwhile Barry Zito continues to put up his unrecognized decent season as he has been a tough loser this year in many occasions with the lowest run support of any pitcher in the majors. 

Hopefully the addition of Ryan Garko and probably soon to be Giant Freddie Sanchez, the Giants can give Zito, Sanchez, and Sadowski a little wiggle room in games coming.

Stop it With the Steriod!!!!!!!!!!

 

Some people are Bay Area sports fans, I’m a Giants fan. I’m Black and Orange though and through and have never been an A’s follower. As a matter of fact, I’m still dealing with losing the 1989 World Series to them; which has started to get easier now that I also have the Angels to hate. However, when baseball is being wronged there comes a time for the biggest fans, the consumers of this great product, and the people that have lived this sport twelve months a year for decades to come together for the good of Major League Baseball and its history.

So let’s cut to the Chase….

Mark McGwire belongs in the Hall of Fame, period. Let me reiterate, I’m not an A’s or Cardinals fan that is ticked off because my favorite player didn’t make the hall of fame. If that was this blogs purpose I’d be complaining that Will Clark didn’t even receive enough votes to stay on the Hall’s ballot three years ago, but that’s another angry story for a later date.

 

McGwire’s numbers speak for themselves, this isn’t a situation where I have to plead for people to admit this guy has Hall of Fame credentials. 583 homeruns speak for themselves, and yet he’s the only member of the 500 Homerun club that’s is eligible and isn’t a member of the Hall of Fame. So lets point to the reason……Steroids.

The thing is, I have no doubt McGwire did steroids. I had no doubt at the age of 17 when I listened on a radio from my high school as he launched home run number 62 against Sammy Sosa’s Cubs. I didn’t care then, and I care even less now. Major League Baseball had a chance to end the steroid era well before they did, and instead they continued to allow teams to pay these big hitters loads of money with no questions about steroids because it was good for business.

Ask any baseball fan what brought baseball back from the 1994 strike and they will recall the race of McGwire and Sosa in the summer and fall of 1998. McGwire resurrected baseball, and the fact that he was on steroids doesn’t change what he did for the sport.

The argument I constantly hear against McGwire is, “Do you thing Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, or Roger Maris were on steroids?” And I consistently answer the same way.

“No! But neither were the pitchers they were facing!” It wasn’t like McGwire and Sosa were exclusive member of the steroid club. This stuff ran ramped for years in baseball and you can’t punish one of the greatest homerun hitters of that time period because he was doing what so many other players were. We can’t guarantee that players in the Hall of Fame have never used, and McGwire never tested positive for steroids.

If the Hall of Fame voters want to make a point about steroids, they can do it with Palmerio. They have a leg to stand on with him, but it has come time for the fans of the game to be heard, and I’m standing up for this man right now, and I hope others will join me.

Just Not Werth-y

I have to open with the idea that I wasn’t thrilled to see Jayson Werth named to the All Star team.  Jerry Manuel’s decision to take his entire starting outfield to the All Star game was a strange one, but at the same time understood his reasoning behind taking his guy in a close decision. 

 
 However, Jayson Werth played half the game in center as America and Hunter Pence sat and watched last night.  I found myself getting angry towards the end of the game as Hunter Pence (the player voted to play by the players) sat and watched a .263 hitter and last member chosen to the NL All Star team take his place in the on deck circle preparing for his second at bat if Miguel Tejada was to reach base.

Now in no way am I blaming Jayson Werth for the way the game unfolded, but rather I extend my finger straight at Charlie Manuel.  When he took Jayson Werth (his outfielder) with his replacement pick it should have been made clear to him that there was a good chance he would not play in the game.  Instead Manuel benched Hunter Pence in favor of his own player and never got Pence in the game. 

It was just one move after the other that reminded me of little league All Star game where dads make sure their kids are not only on the team, but are the focus of each situation.  Here a few examples:

1.  First, choosing Werth over the four players that were on the final ballot including Matt Kemp, Pablo Sandoval, and Mark Reynolds.

2.  Electing to start Victorino in the absence of Carlos Beltran.  If he couldn’t as the NL manager pick him outright to be on the All Star team (voted in as the final vote by the fans), why is it that Manuel had no problem starting him in front of Chris Young and Hunter Pence.

3.  Playing only his players in center field regardless of the fact that two players on the bench were both center fielders and both his players had logged games in other positions in the outfield.

The thing is, there is no guarantee that Hunter Pence will be an All Star again, and after being elected to be there the most honorable way possible (the players vote), he deserved better at the hands of Charlie Manuel.  

It’s Called “Pinch Running” Boch!

While the Giants have won eight of their last ten games, certain aspects of their game today drove me nuts.  While I have never been a big Bruce Bochy fan, today was the first day I can remember where I was screaming at the T.V. wishing he could hear me. 

In the top of the 8th Bengie Molina singled with one out.  Pablo Sandoval and Juan Uribe stood on deck and in the hole respectively and the Giants looked ready to open up a one run ballgame.

I was sure Bochy was going to send someone with speed in to pinch run for Bengie, however, he opted to stay with Molina.  I was confused, considering a single from Pablo could put a runner at third with one out, not to mention that Pablo and Uribe both have good power.  Sandoval struck out, and it seemed the decision was going to be one that didn’t make a difference until Uribe hit a ball over the center fielder’s head and off the centerfield wall on a hop.

Tim Flannery (whom I give a lot of credit this year for taking risks on the base paths) waived him arms furiously hoping to help propel Molina around the bases.  However the slowest Giant on the roster had no chance of scoring as he coasted into third with two outs.  Mike Krukow joked that Molina was leaking oil coming around second, and while the comment was funny, nothing about the situation was.  

He ended up not scoring, and as I sat watching Wilson just barely pull out the save I thought, “God I wish we had a two run lead right now.”

It important that readers and fans alike understand that I am not blaming Bengie Molina for not scoring, but rather Bruce Bochy for not pulling Molina from the game.  If the Giants are going to carry three catchers, why wouldn’t we use speed for Molina late in the game?  Especially those that are so close.

If Wilson had blown the save Giants fans everywhere tonight would be blaming Brian Wilson for not closing the game, but if that had happened the real culprit would have been the man who left Molina in the game to run for himself.

P.S.  Pedro Feliz just booted a ball that allowed the Dodgers to come from behind and win in the ninth.  Pete Happy your f!$&ing killing me!!!!!!!

 

The Ballgame that is my Life

If I compared my life to a baseball game, I would currently be standing on third in the late innings of a tie ballgame.  You would find me covered in dirt, blood on my knees, and dripping sweat from beneath my helmet.  It was a battle getting to third, and you would have to rewind the tape to truly appreciate my journey around the base path.

While my goal is home plate (a job in the sports world) I’ve had to focus on one base at a time.  College graduation stood at third, and I was determined to make it there.

I reached first by following the instructions of my coaches (teachers, parents, and friends).  I attended college as instructed.  While some people reach first without any trouble, I knew it would be harder for me.  I used the drag bunt technique working at nights and going to a junior college during the day and applied the “put your head down and run hard through the bag” approach.  I reached first just ahead of the ball. 

My journey from first to second was a longer one.  And I had a decision to make; how was I going to get around the bases?  I decided to rely on other hitters to drive me in, leaving the school approach I had applied to get on base.  I took a job in the financial world and cruised into second on a line drive into left center field.  However, upon getting to second I realized there wasn’t much effort in my journey.

The player I wanted to be would have been standing on third, running off the crack of the bat.  While working in the financial world my boss once told me, “Don’t do a job because it pays well, do what you love and be the best at it……cause that will always pay well.”  He was right.  I didn’t want to be a player that just ran the bases.  I wanted to be a player that took every inch, was feared by pitchers while on base, and adored by the fans for his hustle.  I left my good paying financial job and headed back to school.

I was going to need a good lead if I had intentions of making it to third (graduation).  I took classes at a University while not enrolled to prove to the admission office that I belonged at their institution.  This was my great lead, and at the end of the semester they gave me the green light to join their academic institution.  This was the pitch in the dirt I had been waiting for and I pushed off with everything I had.  Sure the ball hadn’t bounced away from the catcher that far, but there was a window of opportunity, and I was going to take it.

I beat the throw to third and stood up.  Congratulations from the fans and my third base coach was great.  I had graduated college, and while some say it’s was on the batter to get me home now, I know better.  I am looking for a company to give me the opportunity to score: a base hit, a sac fly, a passed ball, or any other way that I can get there.

Upon scoring I will enjoy the moment and then quickly prepare for my next at bat. The season has 500 at bats, and I’m ready to take 499 more.  Each at bat will be a battle, and the team that I play for will get an all out effort all the time.  There’s a saying in baseball, “everyone wins 54 games and everyone losses 54 games, it what you do with the other 54 that count.”  I want to be the difference maker in those 54 games. 

RIP Adam “Spicy Joe” Martinez

While my blogs are usually a way for me to vent about or celebrate the Giants, today baseball will have to take a backseat.

 

This morning, I lost a dear old friend whom I hadn’t spoken to in about a year.  Adam Martinez or “Spicy Joe” as many knew him, died this morning after a two week coma induced by a punch thrown in a nightclub.  Adam was 31 years old, a year removed from college graduation, and in the words of my mom, “a bright shinning star.”

 

I met Adam when I was working at the Olive Garden.  He had moved to Chico to manage the store, and I was one of the bartenders and closing managers.  Our friendship started immediately, and looking back on it, I think the thing that drew me to him was his constant energy.  He lived life to the absolute fullest.  People always say, “if I knew I was going to die I would have done more”………but I seriously doubt Adam past away with any regrets of his time spent.

 

He pushed himself to excel in everything he did no matter the size of the task.  He is one of those guys that would drop everything for a friend, no matter what.

 

My personal regret is that Adam and I didn’t spend more time together over the past few years, but the time we did spend over our years of friendship will forever be some of the best times of my life. 

 

Adam…..if you can hear my prayers or read my words……

 

Lean on me…..when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend

I’ll help you carry on…….cause

It won’t be long, til I’m gonna need…..

Somebody to LEAN ON!!!!

Ready For Some Guz-News

Guzman Grizzlies.jpgSo far today I have checked the Giants website at least a half a dozen times hoping to see a title including the words “call up” and “Guzman.”  So far, no sign of it.  Most Giants fans agree this move can’t be too far off as the Giants first basemen continue to struggle at the plate.

While Guzman is still what most would call a defensive liability, the Giants are heading into a weekend series with the Mets where they are going to need some offensive fire power.  Ishikawa was demoted to the eight spot in the lineup yesterday where he has just as big an opportunity to hurt the Giants offensively.  By promoting Burriss to the seven hole, you lose .100 points of OBP out of the eighth spot in the lineup.  That is one less time every ten AB’s that the pitching staff can sacrifice bunt. 

The Giants need Guzman!  A team that lack power the way this team does, needs a spark plug in the eight hole and Burriss should continue to be just that.  Bochy not only showed his lack of trust for his “starting” first baseman in his batting order on Sunday, but pulled him in the sixth when the Dodgers went to a lefthander from the bullpen.  There wasn’t even runners in scoring position, he just distrusts Ishikawa that much at the plate against lefties.

Guzman was named the PCL Hitter of the Week last week and with the awful offense so far from first it only seems logical that he soon will be needed at the Major League Level.  

 

The May Numbers So Far:

 

Ishikawa      20AB      2Hits      1RBI      1 Run

 

Aurilla         19AB      3Hits      2RBI’s    2 Runs

 

Guzman      40AB      16Hits    9 RBI’s   6 Runs
(AAA)

A Big Weekend

As the Giants stop through Colorado for the next two days, Giants fans have really started looking at this weekends match up.  The Giants head to Chavez Ravine this weekend to the unfriendly confines of Dodger Stadium where they have had no luck as of recently.  The Giants were swept in LA in April as the Dodgers bats and starting pitching proved why they were favorites to win the N.L. West.  With the Dodgers on they hottest start at home in years, the Giants hope to get their offense started before they get to LA.

The Giants have a two game set in Colorado before LA, and if there has ever been a park to help jump start an offense, Coors Field has been it.  The Giants put up two crooked numbers on the score board in Chicago on Tuesday (a rare accomplishment this season) and now hope to mix in a few crooked numbers with a couple 1 run innings as well as they head to Colorado.  The Giants have yet to get hot as a team, as players have surged individually and what has seemed like one at a time.

The Giants will lead-off their series with the Dodgers Friday night with Barry Zito who has been hot of late.  The Dodgers will counter with their ace Chad Billingsley.  Billingsley who is 5-0 this season struck out 13 Giants last time he faced them.  Sanchez and Lincecum will round out the rotation for the weekend and the Giants hope to send Lincecum to the hill on Sunday with a chance to win the series, not just salvage it.
    

The Giants Next Move

The call-up winds are swirling!  With every mediocre offensive showing the Giants get from their starting first basemen, the question of Jesus Guzman creeps further and further into the minds of Giants fans.  While Guzman’s first few weeks at the AAA level were nothing to get excited about, he has started hammering the ball like he did in spring training, hitting five homeruns in his last ten games while hitting over .400 during that span.

So while Giants fans are hoping to see Guzman at the Major League level soon, his promotion could create quite a predicament.  The question will be, who’s place he would take on the 25 man roster?

The first option would be sending down Engenio Velez.  His batting average is well below .200 and with his defensive question marks in both the infield and outfield, it doesn’t seem like he is going to see much more than pinch hit opportunities, which thus far he has been awful this season.  This is the logical choice, but the problem is Engenio is already going to be sent down when Andres Torres is removed from the DL later this week.

So who else could the Giants send down?  Steve Holm is an option, as having a third catcher isn’t a necessity for most teams.  However if you look at the numbers, it may be a necessity for the Giants.  The two best hitters the Giants have this season are Bengie Molina and Pablo Sandoval (their starting and backup catcher).  In games where the Giants are close and one of these two players did not start, Bochy needs to be free to let them pinch hit without the fear of not having a catcher available.  So it seems Holm is safe.

The next option is Travis Ishikawa.  While he has struggled so far this season, the likelihood of his demotion is very doubtful.  Ishikawa is out of options and a demotion would allow other teams to pick him up.  Due to his mastery of his defensive position and his stature (6’3″ 225 pounds), the Giants want to give him more time to prove himself.

The hardest of roster moves, and yet still a likelihood would be the release of Rich Aurilla or Juan Uribe.  While both are good options as backup infielders, the two tend to be a little redundant.  Aurilla has the heart of so many of the Giants fans, but with Uribe’s ability to play the middle of the infield, Aurilla would be the more likely option to be released.  With Ishikawa and Guzman on the roster, Aurilla’s playing time would be very limited. 

Another option would be the demotion of a relief pitcher as the Giant’s starting pitchers continue to eat up innings.  The Giants have a few pitchers that they still have options on, but there isn’t anyone in the bullpen that hasn’t shown they belong at this level.    Further more, the Giants don’t have a day off until the 18th of this month, making resting pitchers a little more difficult.

So what do you do?  Sure it would be awesome to see Guzman hit at the Major League level, but at what cost.  Cutting Aurilla, chancing the loss of Ishikawa, running a six man bullpen?  As you can see the problem isn’t bring up Guzman……it’s making room for him.     

       

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