Waiting for Boof
Blog devoted to the San Francisco Giants
     Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Fifty-seven is just too young. Rest in peace, Bobby

1) With a heavy heart and some beautiful swings, Barry Bonds might have captured the MVP in the Atlanta series. He has missed a lot of time, and I wouldn't be aghast if Albert Pujols won it, but no one means more to their team than Bonds.

If the Cardinals don't make the playoffs and Pujols wins, now that would be a joke. Not because he wouldn't deserve it, but because the voters have redefined the award as the Most Valuable Member of a Playoff Team, and Pujols wouldn't qualify. Alex Rodriguez and Mark McGwire both had all-time great seasons, and they were denied an MVP because they personally selected the awful pitching staffs they played behind, just like Pujols has done.

Pujols: I demand we get Jeff Fassero. In five years, I can refine his remains to power my Hummer and get my foot in the door of the oil industry.

Jocketty: We can't take on any more retreads, Albert! Please, please don't make me. Let me trade for Russ Ortiz instead.

Pujols: Fool! I've been watching this game for 34 years, and I think I know what I'm talking about.

I'd vote for Bonds, but regardless of how that goes, the voters should consider Pujols on his own merits. However, I'd prefer the writers come to their collective senses another year.

In the meantime, I can't have a bowl of cereal without John Smoltz's mug staring at me from the milk carton. Trey Hodges?

2) Duane Kuiper recently expressed his amazement that hitters could even touch Jim Brower, much less occasionally rough him up. He stole my thunder. Before the season started, I referred to Brower's stuff as "average". This was a carefully measured description, but after, you know, actually watching him, it's clear that he gets some wicked movement on his sinker. He reminds me of Julian Tavarez with a much better slider, and a whole lot less ugly. Unfortunately, he also reminds me of Tavarez in that I have no idea how they don't strike out more hitters. I wouldn't be adverse to letting Brower compete with Kevin Correia, among others, for a rotation spot next spring and hoping he's a late bloomer in the style of Woody Williams or Jaime Moyer.

3) Dustin Hermanson has looked very nice for a pitcher scored through dumpster divin'. I wouldn't trade him for Sterling Hitchcock straight up, even if the salaries were the same. The sideburns are killing me, though. When he takes off his hat, I picture the words, "FoOD Goes tHaiR!" written in a mirror-friendly, backwards scrawl.

4) The major-league debut of Todd Linden wasn't exactly the lead story on Sportscenter, but it was quite a thrill for the prospect hounds of the world. If I knew nothing of Linden he would still impress me. He's a big guy, and looked just like a Baseball Player, running a lot better than I expected. I'd like the Giants to keep Jose Cruz around for a while, and shift him over to center when Linden is ready. I'm hoping for next year, but that's nothing but blind optimism.

5) Ad Exec #1: I don't know, I think the first sequence worked better.

Ad Exec #2: Okay, so we start with the two schoolgirls taking off their sweaters, and then cut to the shirtless, chunky kid wrapping a belt around his hand. Luckily, the camera angle makes his he-hooters impossible to ignore. And man-breasts are demographic gold, I don't have to tell you that.

Ad Exec #1: Yeah, but it just doesn't sing, damnit!

Ad Exec #2: Well...then we have the scene where the kid snorts in the middle of class. If we could strip the scene of context, it would certainly make it more appealing to people.

Ad Exec #1: Go on. You're on to something.

Ad Exec #2: So we go from the shirtless, chunky kid right to the snort. Then we could have Kevin Kline looking wistfully out the window.

Ad Exec #1: Yes! Yes!

Ad Exec #2: And then we can have the shirtless, snorting chunky kid's dad say something like, "You will not mold my son!"

Ad Exec #1: Don't stop, you magnificent bastard!

Ad Exec #2: And Kevin Kline is looking wistfully out the window.

Ad Exec #1: It's perfect. It's got drama and mystery. Viewers are wondering, "Won't his pants fall down without his belt?", or, "How could I have missed this compelling story of a teacher who plays by his own rules, the student whose life he changes, and the stuffed shirts standing in their way? Why hasn't there ever been a movie like this?"

Ad Exec #2: If we run the ad fourteen times an hour on ESPN, I'm sure this will become the best-selling Pay-Per-View movie ever. I predict twice as many people will order "The Emperor's Club" on Pay-Per-View than saw it in the theaters. Imagine, twenty people!

Ad Exec #1: I love making people's lives better. I really do.

posted by G at 1:52 AM

     Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Fit Them For the Rings, Now!

Eric Young. Huh. Didn't think of that one. The Giants need a left-handed bat, and Young bats right. Young isn't a bad player to have on a bench, I just don't see where he fits with the Giants at all. Unless Benard is on the shelf for a while, this will soon end the forgettable Giants career of Jeffrey Hammonds. Hammonds' plaque will hang next to Tommy Herr's in the Giants Hall of Ehhhh.

Is the difference between Hammonds and Young worth a Greg Bruso? No. Man alive, no. When looking at pitching prospects, I'm definitely on the more cynical side. I don't have a problem with the "bird in the hand" system the Giants are working here, but, cripes, there are limits. I doubt Bruso will ever be an above-average major leaguer, and he might have more value as a raffle ticket than he ever will as a pitcher. But the Giants just don't need Eric Young. He would have been a better option than Ruben Rivera out of the spring, sure, and probably is the best non-feline player on the bench now. But couldn't Bruso have fetched a left-hander with power, like Matt Stairs? Brooks Kieschnick would have been a decent lefty bat, and he would have helped the Giants reach the lofty goal of having 23 pitchers on the roster.

Now that he's on the team, I don't mind having Eric Young. The cost to acquire him wasn't absurd, but it was high relative to his value for the Giants. This move only makes complete sense if Ray Durham is out for the year, and the Brewers knew it.

Edit: Sabean hinted he received some less-than encouraging news on Durham before making the trade. Also, other people have pointed out Young will take more time from Neifi than anyone else. I've come around on this one.

posted by G at 3:27 PM

     Monday, August 18, 2003

June Swoon Makeup Date

1) When things get rough, I generally sneak away and reside in a fantasy world. I'm not bringing this up to regale you with stories of the magical creatures living in this fantasy world -- though the griffin with the monocle and British accent should at least warrant a mention -- but rather to let you in on my secret for coping with a losing streak this horrific.

In this world, the Giants just finished a four-game series in Arizona. They went in holding a somewhat iffy 4.5 game lead, but, you'd never believe it, the Giants swept the series! In the series finale, Curt Schilling gave up three homers to Barry Bonds, including a 450-foot mammoth shot Bonds hit right-handed. It was beautiful, and it put the Giants 8.5 games in front of the Diamondbacks; a pretty safe margin, to be sure.

2) Back in the real world, the current incarnation of the Giants is a bit of a mess. Kim Batiste's Lonely Hearts Club Band isn't scoring, and it isn't pretty. Jeffrey Hammonds might have been a decent guy to try and stick at the end of a lefty-leaning bench, which wasn't the Giants' predicament the first place, but he just doesn't seem to be able to hit anymore. Neifi Perez is showing his true colors, though a black hole, technically, is devoid of color. Pedro Feliz is making management rethink any ideas they might have had of letting him start at first base in 2004.

The team is missing the best hitter in baseball, as well as one of the more productive double-play combos in the league, so it isn't like this offense is hopeless. But this current group is just terrible. Marquis Grissom and Benito Santiago weren't supposed to hit like they did in the first half, and they apparently just got the memo. It chills my heart to think of where this team would be if Edgardo Alfonzo hadn't started to hit. Well, probably in first place, but that's not the point.

I guess there is no point, really. Just, man, are these guys not hitting, or what?

3) Fabrige pitcher Francisco Liriano surfaced recently with a single inning in the Arizona League, which is excellent news. One inning, one walk, and two strikeouts. Baseball America is also reporting that supplemental first-round pick Craig Whitaker, another forgotten man of sorts, is training at the Giants spring training complex. Although I had wild visions of a Dwight Gooden-like ascent to the majors, the Giants' prudence is probably wise, dang it. There's no reason to start piling on the innings, though I'm sure if you've found this site, I don't need to tell you that.

Short entry tonight, maybe more during the week.

posted by G at 12:31 AM

     Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Seriously, Why Not Haul Out Pat Rapp?

1) After collecting the requisite 65 signatures and ponying up $3,500, Kevin Correia became the latest starting pitcher for the Giants. Like Chad Zerbe, Jim Brower, and Dustin Hermanson before him, Correia filled in admirably. He was the first draftee from the 2002 draft to reach the majors, which is mighty impressive for a fourth round pick out of Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo. His grasp of the polytechnical side of pitching might be without peer.

Correia was assigned to Double-A Norwich in the spring, which was at least a level higher than expected. I would imagine it's easy for player development types to get attached to players in their system, and hype them with a limited amount of perspective. In Correia's case, the team starting talking him up in the spring, put a ton of faith in him to justify the assignment to Double-A, and called him up to the majors --again and again, as it turns out -- as soon as they needed him. He is mostly a scouting success story, as his stats at Salem-Keizer did not indicate he was much of a prospect; especially one who would shoot through the system. Yet, he might have been a big reason Kurt Ainsworth was even considered as trade bait less than a year later. He doesn't have very many professional innings yet, so the standard disclaimers still apply.

2) The flipside to Correia's mostly impressive debut is it came at the expense of Jason Schmidt. Schmidt has been beautiful to watch this season, but he isn't exactly the Cal Ripken of the mound. If he gets a case of pinkeye, I want him on the bench. With an 11-game lead, the team shouldn't risk a thing, and that applies to Ray Durham also. I just wish they weren't bothering to stick Edgardo Alfonzo at second, especially when he has just started to hit.

3) One of the all-time annoying Letters to the Green was published this past weekend. I'm all for calling Brian Sabean on his moves which don't look good, but there's a time limit in which to submit your armchair G.M. alternatives. A Chronicle reader chides Sabean for not keeping Bill Mueller, and instead wasting money on Alfonzo. If anyone ever uttered the words, "Bill Mueller will be an MVP candidate in 2003", it was in the company of a ouija board and crystal meth. Mueller might be one of my favorite Giants ever, but claiming he was a better bet than Alfonzo is some awful revisionist history. I could have seen the case for Mueller over David Bell, and probably would have taken Mueller's side, but some people are forgetting the kind of player Alfonzo has been over his career. He's smoking the ball since the All-Star break, and would still be a better bet than Marquis Grissom to be a post-season hero.

4) I'm not a fan of the argument against the Ponson trade which holds the Giants essentially traded Russ Ortiz, Kurt Ainsworth, and Ryan Hannaman for Sidney Ponson. Ortiz had nothing to do with the Ponson trade. The Giants, with the benefit of hindsight, would have liked to hold on to Ortiz. That didn't work out.

Paper-thin analogy time: I knew a guy who spent $30 on a concert ticket, and then lost the ticket. He was determined to not buy another ticket, even though he had the money, because it wasn't worth $60 to see the band. That's what it would be like if Sabean followed that same logic. He'd be $30 poorer, and bored silly on the night of the concert. See, Russ Ortiz is the $30, and Damian Moss is the first ticket. Moss' inability to be trusted is the loss of the ticket, and the concert...ah, screw it. You know what I'm getting at.

5) I feel absolutely comfortable with a postseason rotation of Schmidt/Ponson/Williams, with Rueter to be brought in after a starter completely tanks, leaving the fans to wonder why the hell Rueter wasn't starting in the first place. The only thing left is for Stan Conte to develop a magic elixir that will make Jeffrey Hammonds a lefty. The Giants have quite the stable of lefty-mashing goons, but I'd feel better if either Hammonds or Pedro Feliz could be pushed aside for a Matt Stairs-type. Heck, I'd even go for Damon Minor at this point. I'm sure he could cover third almost as well as Feliz, at least as far as entertainment value goes.

6) Does anyone else start singing Pavement's "Cut Your Hair" when Correia is pitching?
Attention and fame
A Correia

Maybe that one is just me, but I know there's someone else out there who gets "The Humpty Dance" stuck in their head when they see Brad Hennessey's name.
I'll drink up all the Hennessey you got on your shelf
So just let me introduce myself...
Don't get me started on Fresno pitchers Harold Heyjude and Franklin Arreesspee-Eeceetee.

posted by G at 1:05 AM

     Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Mick Jagger: Still Not the G.M. of the Orioles

1) I came down with a slight case of buyer's remorse after the Ponson deal. After inhaling most of the different articles about the trade, I came to one relating Ponson's injury history. Partially torn labrum in 2002. No surgery required, just therapy and rest.

"Hey, thanks for setting me up on the blind date. What's she like?"
"Well, she's a great conversationalist. Oh, and she has a slight goatee."

Such are my feelings on the term, "partially torn labrum", as the "partial" adds zero comfort. Shoulder injuries are nasty, nasty things. If Ponson is a rental, and I don't see how he isn't, this isn't so much of a worry. Just keep the lucky underwear going, and hope for the best for the remainder of the season. However, any team that signs him to more than a three-year deal is crazy. I hope the Giants just take the draft picks, or Ponson gets hopped up on absinthe and stale Goldfish, and signs a two-year, $4 million deal.

2) Rich Aurilia's appendix, overstuffed with valuable footnotes, burst on Monday. He'll be out for about three weeks, with Neifi Perez taking over. In 2000, this news would be as welcome as a tetanus shot. Three years later, the stench of indifference is lazily hanging about. With a 12-game lead, I don't mind watching Perez get a majority of the playing time, because the more Neifi plays, the closer he'll come to his career averages. As the fluffy batting average starts to fall, and it has already, the less likely it is Neifi will be the starter in 2004.

3) Nate Schierholtz, who was rated just above Garth Brooks on the draft board of most teams, is tearing up the Northwest League. Before we can annoint him the second coming of Hank Blalock, he'll have to get more professional at-bats, but it's sure fun to dream. Every year in Baseball America's draft preview, there will be a few players who prompt a comment like:
"Player Q wasn't on very many radar screens before the season, but his .838 slugging percentage in the Cape Cod league has made him a hot prospect for the upcoming draft."
Maybe Schierholtz is that player, without the Division I season under his belt.

Moment of levity: Past Northwest League wonders include Julian Benavidez, Sean McGowan, and Lance Niekro. All three may yet find their major league niche, but the giddy dizziness of short-season stats wore off quickly. Schierholtz hit .400/.449/.489 in the Arizona League, and is off to a .344/.440/.531 start in the Northwest League. He's only committed two errors in 29 games, which is impressive for a 19-year old third baseman.

The similarities between Benavidez and Schierholtz are hard to ignore; both were early round surprises from community colleges, both started as third basemen, both found early success in the Northwest League at the age of 19, and both gave the intial impression they were students of the Jim Thome school of wild plate discipline. Benavidez has lost his prospect sheen, but the future isn't written for Schierholtz yet. I'd like to believe Benavidez does not represent a typical career path, and that there is still room to be impressed by a teenager whacking the ball around the park against older competition.

Again, before I get caught up, Schierholtz has about 100 professional at-bats. It is probably too soon to even speculate.

4) Welcome, Dustin Hermanson, to the Hall of Marginally Successful Giants' Spot Starters. At your induction ceremony, you'll be seated between Doug Creek and Jim Deshaies, and treated to three non-consecutive speeches from Terry Mulholland. There will be a two drink minimum.

5) If Felix Rodriguez is the team's biggest problem, as some fans seem to think, the Giants really are sitting pretty. I don't have full confidence in him, and I'm sure if he were to house-sit, at least one thing would catch fire, but the only thing you can do is cross your fingers and hope it's not the cat. Felipe Alou should start using Matt Herges and Rodriguez in an interchangeable role, but I'm pleased the Giants didn't trade Felix for the sake of trading a contract.

Felix's path to scapegoat status allows me to present my Armchair Scout Theorem:
If a player is underperforming, and his problems can conceivably be traced to a single, easily-identified fault, the struggles of the player will be blown out of proportion

Felix Rodriguez can only throw one pitch, and everyone in the majors can sit on a fastball, so he sucks. Adam Dunn strikes out a lot, so he won't be useful until he makes better contact. Woe is Marvin Benard, who not only is unable to lay off the eyebrow-high fastball, but also takes a wrong first step in centerfield more often than not. In the player comments section of Baseball Prospectus 2003, the author of the Marvin Benard summary chided the fans of San Francisco:
Fans of any other team would thank their lucky stars they got as much out of (Benard) as (the Giants) did. But for Giants fans, any scrub who doesn't transform into an All-Star is an underperformer.

The quote, obviously written by drooling Giant-hater Gary Huckabay, is more than a little harsh. If Benard had a slight loop in his swing, which made him vulnerable to breaking balls low in the strike zone, he would be just another player. But you know the high fastball is coming. The umpire knows the high fastball is coming. Marvin definitely knows the high fastball is coming. Yet he swings. Every time. He can be a useful player, and generally has been, but he is exhibit A in the defense of the Armchair Scout Theorem. Rodriguez, who gave up the biggest homerun in franchise history after throwing 38 fastballs in a row to the same batter, is a great example in his own right.

6) The Westwood Blues made some grand contributions in the field of snarkiness by referring to a certain second-place team as the "Arizona Elevenandahalfbacks". Good stuff.

posted by G at 12:11 AM



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