Waiting for Boof Blog devoted to the San Francisco Giants
Sunday, September 28, 2003
The 1st Annual Playoff Preview Extravaganza Spectacular Special Spectacular
1) I thought about one of these:
Luis Castillo and Ray Durham are both leadoff hitting second basemen who can get on base and make things happen. Durham's health is a concern, so Castillo just edges him out. Advantage: Marlins
Barry Bonds has more of an impact on each individual game than any player in the past eighty years, if ever. Jeff Conine has been a nice pickup, but he's no match for Bonds. Advantage: Giants
Total: Even The Marlins and Giants are even by our calculations, so it's really just a tossup. Prediction: Giants in eight.
However, I figured every major site would do one. There should not be rational thought involved in predicting a playoff series, so allow me to present the Completely Irrational Guide to the NLDS:
a. Point: This season, the Giants are 1-1 in games I have recorded to watch later on in the day, which I will surely have to do for at least the first two games of the series.
Counterpoint: The Giants are 1-0 in games where I have screwed up the automatic VCR timer, and missed the game entirely. There's always the chance I'll do it again
b. Point: The Giants completed half of the Poetic Justice Tour last year, eliminating the Cardinals and Braves, and making up for both '87 and '93, respectively. The Marlins ('97) have yet to get their medicine, and the Yankees ('62, so I'm told) aren't far behind.
Counterpoint: The Giants screwed up a storybook championship run last year, eliminating the mourning Cardinals. That negates any Poetic Justice idea, and then some.
c. Point: The Marlins won the World Series in 1997 with huge contributions from Livan Hernandez.
Counterpoint: The Giants lost the World Series in 2002 with huge contributions from Livan Hernandez. After the Ark of the Covenant which is Livan was opened, it has proved impossible to contain the demons that emerged. These spectral forces will not be sated until Nate Bump pitches six perfect mop-up innings in game five. Avert thine eyes!
d. Point: The Marlins finished the year hot, and were the best team in the National League after the All-Star break.
Counterpoint: The Giants finished the year by roughing up Wilson Alvarez, which put a crimp in the rousing comeback story of an entity which previously screwed the Giants. Sounds like the Marlins in every way.
e. Point: The Marlins play in a stadium which used to honor a human being. Now, it honors crappy jackets.
Counterpoint: The Giants played in a stadium which practically invented the stadium naming rights bit. That kind of stench doesn't just wash off with a little Lava soap.
f. Point: The Giants benefited from the ghastly dismantling of the '97 Marlins, obtaining Robb Nen for a flat keg of Amstel Light.
Counterpoint: Nen hasn't pitched all year, for one. Also, while the Marlins were an embarrassment to baseball, they were more importantly an embarrassment to Bud Selig and his legacy.
g. Point: The Marlins have won a World Series.
Counterpoint: The San Francisco Giants have not. Can we please, please, please, please have one?
Advantage: Marlins. No one likes a whiner.
h. Point: The Marlins fired their mascot to pinch pennies, a move which saddened lil' Marlin fans everywhere.
Counterpoint: The Giants have a crappy mascot, whose one gag consists of rhythmically thrusting his seal pelvis in people's faces.
i. Point: Dontrelle Willis eats at the pleasantly mediocre California Pizza Kitchen, a franchise where I once saw the pleasantly mediocre J.T. Snow.
Counterpoint: Jerome Williams is from Hawai'i, where they consume Spam by the hectare.
j. Point: Earlier in the season, I mentioned the Marlins as the team I'd most like to face in the first round.
Counterpoint: You did what? Idiot.
Adding it up, it doesn't look good, but these sorts of analyses always have some rigged "Super Clutch Factor X" they can throw in at the end to support the author's preconceptions.
k. Super Intangible Clutch Factor X: Peter Magowan engineered the effort to keep the Giants in San Francisco. Jeffrey Loria sunk his fangs into the Expos franchise, and didn't pull out until he could taste sternum. Rewarding that guy with anything is a Super Intangible Clutch Travesty.
Series prediction: Unless the Giants win every game by fifteen runs, I'll end up looking like Al Pacino before his morning coffee.
2) Here's how I would stack the roster for the playoffs:
Starting Position Players - (8)
Staring Pitchers - (4)
I've ended my quest for the phantom left-handed bat. Todd Linden didn't look ready for anything resembling postseason action, and neither did Marvin Benard. Apropos of nothing, Benard had as many RBI this year (four) as did Alberto Castillo and Ruben Rivera.
Pedro Feliz keeps getting big hits, and, hell, he has done well for the team. Sixteen homers in 235 at-bats isn't bad at all, and, don't look now, he has been almost as good against right-handed pitching as against the lefties. I apologize to Feliz for being so harsh, even though he'll eventually suck just to spite me.
This bench is a little better than last year's. I'd rather have Ramon Martinez than Neifi, but I'd also prefer Eric Young, Jeffrey Hammonds, and Andres Galarraga to Tom Goodwin, Shawon Dunston, and Damon Minor by a healthy margin.
3) Ugh. I don't know if I'm ready for this. Good luck, team. posted by G at 8:31 PM
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
The Waiting Game Sucks. Let's Play "Hungry Hungry Hippos"!
1) The series against Houston leaves me conflicted. I don't want the Cubs in the playoffs, for both strategic and irrational reasons, so I wouldn't have been too upset if the Astros won a couple of games. Yet, it would be sweet to wipe the Astros out, allowing Brian Sabean to do a little tap dance on Jeff Kent's figurative Moustache of Ignorance. Kill 'em all, and let God sort 'em out, I guess. Ponson could use a solid start going into the playoffs, so I'll just root for the Cubs to lose out the season, with the Astros taking their revenge against the Brewers.
2) Every time I rag on Pedro Feliz for having the audacity to not be left-handed, he wins a game. As a disciple of the Earnest Ragging Principle, I know it would be futile to intentionally bash Feliz and try to sway the baseball gods. It's never been to big of a problem for me to honestly rip on Feliz, who is solely responsible for the Giants not making the playoffs in 2001, "The League of Extraordinary Gentleman", and an increase in dropsy outbreaks. However, now I'm caught in the Earnest Ragging trap. I'm officially wondering if Feliz could be useful, which is a guarantee he'll stink up the playoffs. Realizing this doesn't do any good, because behind the guarantee of futility is the hope he's useful, which negates the earnestness of the ragging. I prepared a PowerPoint presentation to help explain it all, but it crashed my computer.
3) Lost in the epic struggle for the right to host an extra playoff game in the NLCS, should the Braves also advance, is Brian Dallimore. Dallimore, 29, was signed as a minor league free agent in the winter, and he led all of AAA with a .352 average. After a career season, he was intially caught in the number game of the 40-man roster. In order to be called up, a player needs to be on the 40-man roster, and the team was understandably not willing to drop players like Jason Ellison or Carlos Valderrama to make room. However, once Jesse Foppert's UCL snapped, the Giants could have moved Foppert to the 60-day DL, and rewarded Dallimore with his first big league callup. Dallimore likely won't ever be anything more than a fringe player, and I'm certainly not advocating replacing anyone currently on the Giants bench for the playoffs. It just would have been a nice, familiar story. Player toils in the minors, player has great year in minors, player gets cup of coffee.
My knowledge of baseball rules minutiea is far from complete, so there is probably something I'm missing. I was rooting for the guy, though.
4) When the Giants clinched the divsion, it didn't register how special a season it has really been until I was bombarded with an array of tidbits. The whole wire-to-wire thing was a little overplayed, as it isn't quite as rare in the three-division setup, but it was still impressive. Hearing this is the first time the Giants have made the playoffs in back-to-back years since the '30s almost made me tear up. Sure, the expanded playoffs helped, but it doesn't take away that it is an outstanding time to be a San Francisco Giants fan.
That written, I'll go out on a limb and publicly reveal I'm hoping they win the World Series. In 1997, there was the gee-willikers, aw-shucks feeling of watching a ragtag band of misfits upset the Dodgers. It was a great season, and there was a sense of optimism for the next season. After all, Shawn Estes was on his way to a magical career, and there was the off chance Jeff Kent could repeat his career year. The Giants had the best team in baseball in 2000, and that failure still stings, almost as much as the 2001 horror show, which wasted historic seasons from both Barry Bonds and Rich Aurilia. This postseason, however, will be a nervous, panicky affair -- in part, screw it, all because of how close the team came last year.
One playoff series at a time, sure. It's hard not to look ahead.
5) Horrible Dusty flashback #3,279: Bringing in Aaron Fultz in Game 2, with two runners on, against Garrett Anderson. Anderson has never had much of a platoon split against lefties, and has even hit left-handed pitchers better than right-handers over the past three years. Fultz had this odd platoon split in 2002 where he could get players named Al Leiter out, but was absolutely pounded by players not named Al Leiter. He was the third lefty in the bullpen, against a team with about two left-handed hitters worth worrying about, and that might be the worst punchline of last season. It didn't end well, in case you were wondering. Base hit, game tied.
6) Whether the Giants end up with the best record in the NL or not, they will likely face the winner of the Marlins/Phillies race. I pointed out the lack of success the Giants had against opponents with a winning record after the first two months of the season, but that is no longer the case. Against teams not yet officially eliminated, the Giants are 32-17, and that doesn't include the ridiculous 14-5 mark they sported against Arizona. Only the Expos, Cubs, and Mets had a winning record against the Giants this year.
It's easier to be pessimistic about the Giants chances -- the odds are against every team, and only one in eight are going to buck those odds -- but there's a lot to like. I wouldn't say the glass is half full, but it isn't half empty, either. Maybe the glass is half full, but with Mountain Dew. There's always the possibility a desk will need to be urgently stripped and restained, so the glass still holds some promise. If you squint, just right.... posted by G at 11:00 PM
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
There's still a lot more to go, but this night is spoken for. posted by G at 10:11 PM
Sunday, September 14, 2003
Five Easy Pieces
1) Todd Linden getting the game-winning hit on Sunday was a nice twist, and it can't hurt his admittedly slim chances to make a postseason roster. The last few months have seen my posts start to devolve into Phil Hartman's impression of Admiral James Stockdale, substituting "Gridlock!" with "Left-handed bat!". There isn't a point to having Pedro Feliz on the same roster as Jeffrey Hammonds and Andres Galarraga, at least not with the starting lineup heavily stacked against left-handed pitching to begin with. Felipe Alou's sick fascination with the idea of Neifi Perez as an ace-in-the-hole righty-crunching pinch-hitter isn't helping anyone, with the obvious exception of the fine folks who manufacture Zoloft. And maybe those who get a kick out of hyphens.
Linden isn't some secret weapon waiting for someone to speak his name aloud three times -- heck, he's jostling with Marvin Benard for position on the usefulness spectrum -- but he's a left-handed bat with a modicum of power. That's all I want. Sending up Hammonds or Feliz against Braden Looper, much less a pitcher like Octavio Dotel or John Smoltz, isn't likely to key a game-winning, late inning rally. Linden might not be ready for the elite right-handed relievers of the league yet, but we already know Feliz isn't. It doesn't seem like there's much to lose, with the exception of a little positional flexibility.
2) Peter Gammons wrote a good article recently, echoing something I touched on before the season started. The Reader's Digest version, and stop me if you've heard this one before: Bullpens are like boxes of chocolate; sometimes you expect a delicious dark-chocolate covered piece of toffee, but unwittingly ingest some heinous nougat-mayonnaise hybrid, so you release his goggled ass, only to have him sign with the Angels and reel off three good seasons in a row.
Or something like that.
Relievers are tricky to forecast. My favorite example will always be Alan Embree, who can be Goose Gossage one year, and Anthony Edwards the next. One thing that stands out in Gammons' column is the inclusion of Tim Worrell as an example of how relievers can pleasantly surprise, a sentiment which comes as everyone in the greater Bay Area has lost all confidence in him. Worrell's average fastball and menagerie of sloppy breaking pitches is reminiscent of Rod Beck, right before Beck's Tommy John surgery. That's not exactly a vote of no-confidence, but it isn't something I want to see with a one run lead in any sort of Game Seven. Beck exited the toughest jam of his career by getting an Eddie Murray who was Carltoning out his career to hit into a double play. Hoping for Worrell to get as lucky in a series-defining moment might be too much to ask.
3) After referring to a popular MVP candidate as Albert "How Green Was My Valley" Pujols, a couple of readers too lazy to click on the hyperlink asked what the reference was. In 1942, "How Green Was My Valley" won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1942, over both "Citizen Kane" and "The Maltese Falcon". Which of those films represents Barry Bonds is up to you. The ego-driven genius and pain of Charles Foster Kane is an easy choice, but there's something to be said for Bonds slapping around National League pitching -- played by Peter Lorre -- and exclaiming, "When you're slapped, you'll take it and like it!"
With the season winding down, it's looking like Bonds will win his eleventy-first MVP award. The Cardinals are hanging by their fingernails in the Central race, almost as close to the Pirates as the Astros. It's time to root hard for the Astros, because their division title would mean the scary pitching staff of the Cubs isn't in, and Bonds has mostly sewn up the MVP. You can root hard for Jeff Kent to take a long wash off a short truck after the regular season is over, but he's the man for now.
4) The Dodgers are only 2.5 games out of the wild card. With seven games remaining against the unwashed heathen from down south, the Giants are in the position to be major spoilers. While that would be fun, imagine the hooplah if a succession of horrific losses handed a playoff spot to the Dodgers, and the Dodgers went on to win the World Series. Self-hating Giant fans everywhere would have water cooler fodder for years. It would be exciting to see who would become a permanent scapegoat, deserved or not, in Giants lore, taking their place along side Livan Hernandez and Salomon Torres. Will it be Eric Young with a booted groundball? Kevin Correia not getting out the first inning in two straight games? Neifi Perez in the library with the wrench? The mind boggles, though this whole scenario only serves to point out what an abomination the wild card is the years the Giants aren't in contention for it.
5) At the risk of pounding the whole "people who find this site through an odd web search" thing into the ground, it wouldn't be right to not mention the person who found Waiting for Boof by entering "shirtless Dustin Hermanson" into Google. I just have to write my mind in this case. You know, mysterious visitor, the beefcake calendar industry has been hit hard by the abundance of free images on the internet. So instead of canvassing the web for handouts, why not head down to your local Waldenbooks, and pay for a copy of "365 Days of Shirtless Dustin Hermanson", or "Dustin Off The Pecs: The Wall Calendar"? You'll feel better about yourself, and the beefcake calendar industry will have a fighting chance, damnit. posted by G at 9:55 PM
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Foppert's Torn UCL: Horrible News or Bad Emo Band?
1) Jesse Foppert is out until 2005, most likely. The good news is the problem is with the elbow, and not the shoulder. With elbow ligaments, there's surgery, grueling rehabilitation, and a waiting game. With torn labrums and other shoulder injuries, there are leeches, tea leaves, and unholy incantations. John Smoltz, Kerry Wood, and Matt Morris have all come back from Tommy John Surgery, and generally as talented as they left. The endurance might not have been there at first, but there was no loss of velocity or breaking pitches.
When this site started up last offseason, I was apt to gush about the pitching depth of the Giants. However, pitchers are packages handled by the disgruntled postal worker that is Life. Some make it, others -- most, even -- don't. I tried to force myself to remember this, but I couldn't help myself. Visions of an Atlanta Braves-type team danced in my head, teasing me of a Foppert/Williams/Ainsworth-led dynasty. Now Ainsworth is elsewhere and Foppert is down. Jerome Williams, the hologram of Carrie Fisher intones, you are our only hope.
The emergence of Kevin Correia dulls the pain somewhat, but not completely. Jason Schmidt hasn't been an iron man over his career, and I have nightmares of Kirk Rueter never regaining his stathead-befuddling brilliance. The odds are against Sidney Ponson returning, leaving a rotation of:
Two of Correia/Hermanson/Brower/Nathan/Bonser/Lowry/Random Free Agent
I don't know what's scarier: the lack of stability provided by that rotation, or the idea of dramatically overpaying for Ponson. There's no sense in worrying about it now, with the team heading for a postseason where Foppert wasn't going to be a factor, but there are some tough decisions to be made this offseason.
2) It's good to see Kirk Rueter shutting down a Padres lineup with both lefty-mauling hitters (Xavier Nady, Phil Nevin) and good left-handed hitters (Brian Giles, Ryan Klesko). Felipe Alou is already on record as saying the rotation for the NLDS will be Schmidt/Ponson/Rueter, but I wondered if that was for Rueter's confidence. Surely if Rueter continued to struggle, and Williams continued to impress, Alou would have made the correct decision. Right? Right?
If Rueter can have some more good starts, the decision is defensible. As much as I'd like to see Jerome attain the psuedo-mythical status Livan Hernandez did in 1997, he's still an erratic 21-year old pitcher. Rueter has been neglected in favor of Shawn Estes and Livan in the last two postseason runs, pitching well in relief after the others failed miserably. It make sense for him to start over someone actually worthy of a manager's confidence, and have the decision backfire.
3) Preferred Playoff Matchups
The postseason is like the holiday package from your crazy great-aunt. You know there's an ill-fitting sweater inside. There is every year. Maybe this year, you start to think, she actually got you something you needed or wanted. You catch yourself. No, no. It's always a crappy sweater. Then you shake the box. Hmm, doesn't feel like a sweater. It kind of rattles. How can a sweater rattle? Maybe it's something spectacular, something beyond your wildest dreams!
You open it, and it's a sweater. And the fucking thing itches. Stupid Angels.
With Schmidt and Ponson, the Giants have the strongest front-end of a rotation for a playoff team since Gaylord Perry and Juan Marichal. That, and about twelve dollars, will get you a beer at Pac Bell. There is a beacon of hope, however, because a majority of the other teams poised to make the playoffs are also cursed. The White Sox, Cubs, Red Sox, and Astros could all make the playoffs, which would guarantee an Braves/Yankees World Series. But imagine if the Yankees and Braves are knocked off in the first round, leaving a possible final four of: White Sox vs. Red Sox, Cubs vs. Giants. If that happens, watch for the personal ad reading:
Horsemen of Apocalypse seeking same. Likes: Sunsets, poetry, and watching the wicked drown in a river of their own bile and blood. No freaks.
The Giants are the least cursed of that foursome, so there is a definite permutation to root for.
Here is a quick rundown of the possible opponents the Giants could face in the first two rounds. I've put them in the descending order of how much they frighten me:
They have two lefties starting for them in Mark Redman and Dontrelle Willis, which gives the lefty-pounding Giants an advantage. The Giants have played them well this year. Kevin Brown isn't on the team.
This team can hit, but that pitching staff isn't pretty. Woody Williams has been putrid since the break, and Brett Tomko or Garrett Stephenson might start the third game of a series, which is almost funny until you realize that either one would probably shut down the Giants in a humiliating fashion. Call it the Curse of Steve Trachsel.
I see the Astros as underachievers of sorts, and a dangerous team in the playoffs. Roy Oswalt, Wade Miller, and Jeriome Robertson are a mirror image of the Giants top three of Schmidt/Ponson/Williams, but the offense is better. At least, I thought so until I looked up the numbers. The Astros as a team haven't hit much better than the Giants, and that's without taking into account the difference between the former Enron Field and Pacific Bell Park, which is huge. I can't explain it, because Jeff Kent has been the fourth-best hitter for Houston this year, and he's been pretty good.
The Phillies are a better team than the Braves, provided that Pat Burrell isn't the worst player on the planet. Without that stipulation, they're still a good team. They have depth in the rotation, which isn't the biggest advantage for the playoffs, but it doesn't hurt. I could easily see them running the table, and winning a championship. It would be a dangerous team to face when playing to their maximum potential.
They can hit, though Mike Hampton and Horacio Ramirez are among the least intimidating starters of all the potential contenders. It would be too much fun to knock them out of the playoffs two years in a row, so they scare me.
Four good right-handed pitchers should scare the Giants, but that's the least of my worries. It comes down to the idea of losing to Dusty Baker. I can't stand the thought of losing to the man who pulled Russ Ortiz in Game Six, started Livan in Game Seven, and put a terrible-fielding Kenny Lofton in center while using Tsuyoshi Shinjo as the DH. Imagine Dusty starting Shawn Estes, Tom Goodwin, and Tony Womack...and winning. Brrrrrrr.
They might be the weakest team of the field, but a series loss to the Dodgers would be soul-crushing. The kind of soul-crushing which would lead me to start a Warriors blog. Waiting for Mickael?
4) The magic number is now eight. Good times. posted by G at 7:58 PM
Monday, September 01, 2003
1) Exhaustion? That's an excuse for Axl Rose to cancel a concert, not an affliction suffered by Barry Bonds.
Stan Conte: C'mon, mate. 'Ere's a show yuv got ta put on.
Barry Bonds: (Thinks about doing line of coke off hooker's stomach, then passes out)
Conte: At's it, mates. 'E's exhausted. Everybody out. OUT!
Yeah, ha ha, fun and games. Then I picture Bonds trying to collect his thoughts in a hospital room. Maybe visiting hours don't apply to someone of Bonds' stature, and he had his wife at his side the entire night, but I have this image of Bonds alone and staring off into space.
Then he comes back and wins the game. Again. I could care less if Bonds wins the MVP; his performance this year is beyond awards. Albert "How Green Was My Valley" Pujols can have it.
2) Mike Meyers: Bonds Specialist. Let's hope he didn't print up a bunch of business cards, or make t-shirts.
3) After Sunday's game, Brandon Webb went over to the Giants clubhouse and sprayed Andres Galarraga's bat, letting the Big Cat know exactly whose territory was whose. Watching Webb humiliate Galarraga was only funny because the Giants won. There was a game against Al Leiter where I watched with the same incredulity as Sunday's, where it seemed like the opposing pitcher was the bestest pitcher ever. Webb hung a few breaking balls, sure, and the Giants did hit a couple of balls hard, but that sinker is dirtier than Pete Rose reading a Hustler.
I was initially frightened to think of Webb's future with a division rival. Then I remembered the Diamondbacks will probably trade him for Omar Vizquel.
4) The Giants took two of three from the Rockies... in Colorado. Up is down! Down is up! Cats and dogs, living together! Going into the series, if I knew the Giants would score a total of 10 runs in the three games, I would have hoped the runs all came in one game. At least they would have had a chance in that game. Instead, Sidney Ponson and Jason Schmidt waltzed through Coors Field like a brave neighborhood kid downing a Sprite right after eating Pop Rocks. "Thin air? Hitter's ballpark? Whatever. That's a total urban myth. I saw it on Snopes.com"
Ponson getting off to a good start with his new team doesn't mean a thing, but could have been some internal panicking if the Giants had traded for Jeff Suppan. I would have freaked out by now, that's for sure.
5) The final trading deadline passed, and the Giants didn't acquire the left-handed bat they could use. After seeing what the Marlins had to give up -- a pitching prospect advancing through the ranks like Jerome Williams did, and another interesting pitcher -- to get Jeff Conine, I don't think help was going to come cheap. I'd love to have Stairs, but not enough to give up a prospect as good as Denny Bautista. This bench for the playoffs wouldn't be too bad:
With the team only needing four starters, they should be able to accomodate a seven-man bench. The difference between Linden and Stairs isn't worth much of anything. If Benard is healthy, he'll replace Linden and the team will go with Pedro Feliz out of habit, so it's almost worth it to root against Benard's health. It's doubtful Linden is even a better hitter than Benard at this stage of his career, but he has a little more power, and, well, he's new. Not everything needs to be logical.
6) Even when Rich Aurilia is struggling, he doesn't bother me as much as maybe he should. When the team is down by two, he's pretty good at coaxing a walk, and he's impressive with his stealth-bunting tactics. His failures can usually be traced back to a lack of physical ability, not a error in judgement. I felt the same way about David Bell, and am starting to feel the same way about Edgardo Alfonzo. They might not have great seasons-- in Alfonzo's case, not even marginally decent seasons -- but they don't irritate me. They are, as best as I can tell, thinking when they are playing.
All of this is a roundabout way of pointing out that Pedro Feliz needs to go away. Like, yesterday. No specific reason. It's a you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here kind of a thing. posted by G at 11:23 PM