Waiting for Boof
Blog devoted to the San Francisco Giants
     Tuesday, March 30, 2004
 

Raaaaayyyeeeeaaaain




1) Deivi Cruz? That's the best they could come up with, someone who isn't automatically preferable to Neifi Perez? His name even sounds like a fake name Neifi might give to the cops, or some alias he uses when picking up women at clubs.

"No, baby. I'm not Neifi, baby. My name is, uh, Dei..vi..."

Be warned, ladies. Every report out there starts with the smooth hands, but in the end all you're left with is the weak stick.

Cruz is a prodigal son, one of the forces of darkness the Giants minor league system unleashed on the rest of baseball, and now returning to the fold. As a hitter, Cruz is Neifi with an extra homer a month, but he doesn't have anything resembling the glove. He might be an offensive upgrade over Cody Ransom, but now you're just arguing about which Herb Alpert record to rescue from the free bin.

It wasn't always this way for Deivi. In 2000, he was a 24-year old shortstop who hit .302/.318/.449, with 46 doubles and 10 homeruns. The on-base percentage left a lot to be desired, but he was a 24-year old shortstop. Problem was, he wasn't really 24. Then he stopped hitting completely. What could have been one of the bigger success stories of recent Rule 5 draft history was suddenly another footnote in what Baseball Prospectus dubbed AgeGate.

Maybe Deivi can regain his 2000 form, and oust Neifi from the starting role. Could happen, wouldn't be the most surprising thing to ever happen, but won't happen. The Giants are going to punt offense from the shortstop position, so they might as well go with the glove man as the starter. It would be a mild surprise to see Deivi beat out the optionless Ransom, even.

Most annoying discovery of the past year: the sponsor of Neifi's baseball-reference.com page is a Cubs fan who fondly remembers Neifi screwing the Giants over. And the karmic bank keeps tacking on the overdraft fees....



2) When Brian Sabean went on KNBR in 1997 to report the Wilson Alvarez/Roberto Hernandez deal, his voice was quivering. He had just reloaded a team, and he did it in style. Wilson Alvarez wasn't an ace, but he was a very solid starter, and much better than Pat Rapp or William VanLandingham. Hernandez was a fresh arm to throw in the overworked bullpen. Sabean had added core players to a surprise contender, and he could hardly believe his luck.

This recent flurry of transactions, not so much. A good guess would be 87% less quivering. The Giants signed Dave Veres and Mike Crudale, who were both very valuable relievers as recently as two years ago. They've had arm problems which have reportedly hurt their velocity, but these raffle tickets came cheap. If Sabean has to grasp for straws, he should be commended for at least grasping at the straws who were good at one point. Ironically, he's hoping these straws don't suck. Whoa. Talk about a no smoking sign on your cigarette break.

The starting pitchers rumored to be of interest to the Giants, now that's another story. Igor Q. Scout, working on Sabean's orders, threw a shovel over his shoulder, went to the graveyard, and returned with names like Kevin Jarvis and Scott Erickson. Jarvis was the recipient of one of the worst contracts in baseball history. Yes, worse than that one. That one, too. For a low- to middle-revenue team to throw over $10M at a pitcher who was never very good in AAA, and whose breakout season consisted of a 4.79 ERA in a pitcher's park, was concentrated lunacy.

Now, there's the Overpaid Mediocrity Theorem, but that doesn't apply here. Jarvis isn't mediocre, he's bad. Probably a nice guy, and he'd clean up against AA hitters, but he isn't one of the best 500 pitchers in the world. And that's when he's healthy. Better options for the Giants rotation, especially once any salary over the minimum is taken into account, include Tyler Walker, Brian Cooper, Adam Pettyjohn, Kevin Correia, Noah Lowry, Jeff Clark, Jeff Urban, Merkin Valdez, Chad Zerbe, Jim Brower, and Kirk Rueter pitching on two days rest with his right hand.

Erickson hasn't been good for years, and is coming off serious injuries. It is hard to see the upgrade he would provide over Cooper, Correia, Walker, or Lowry. When a player like Erickson -- who was a good pitcher at one point -- is coming off injuries, it might make sense to put a little more trust in a scouting report. Problem with that idea is if his fastball were truly zipping this spring, he would be in the Mets rotation. Instead, he's likely to be bounced in favor of Grant Roberts.

The Giants rotation looks awful, as the season is wholly dependent on Jason Schmidt's bum wing. Getting another starter is one hell of an idea. The trick is to get a starter who would be an improvement on everyone in the Fresno rotation. Jarvis and Erickson are lazy choices. It seems wiser to start the season with some question marks, and to pick up a first- or second-tier pitcher in July.

So I finish this note, and then find out the Giants traded for Wayne Franklin. Great. Way to screw up an hour's work, Wayne.

Franklin isn't as bad as his Milwaukee numbers would indicate. He had two reasonably successful seasons for Houston's AAA team before the horrors of last year, and has a long history of success as a minor league reliever.

Is the difference between Franklin and Cooper worth anything in trade? Probably not, but he'll be a good long man when Schmidt is ready to come back, and is worthy of competing for Hermanson's spot. However, if the Giants insist on donating pitchers like Glenn Woolard, Greg Bruso, and Clay Hensley in every trade they make, one of them is going to bite the team in the ass.



3) Robb Nen and Scott Eyre are officially on the disabled list now, which opens a couple of roster spots. David Aardsma is being considered for one of the oopen spots, which makes sense. He has a great arm, and the successes of Chad Cordero and Ryan Wagner, albeit in limited sample sizes, seem to suggest the leap to the majors isn't as hard for relievers. He has a good fastball, a good breaking pitch, and passable control. Throw him in the fire.

A revised 25-man roster might look like this:
Starting position players (8)

2B Durham
1B Snow
CF Grissom
LF Bonds
3B Alfonzo
RF Tucker
C Pierzynski
SS Neifi

Bench (5)

Torrealba
Ransom
Mohr
Torcato
Feliz

SP (5)

Rueter
Williams
Tomko
Hermanson
Franklin

RP (7)

Herges
Rodriguez
Brower
Christiansen
Zerbe
Aardsma
Estrella
This assumes Schmidt does indeed start the season on the DL. Franklin is sort of Zerbe with onions and lettuce, so when Schmidt is back it seems likely Zerbe will be the odd man out, unless Aardsma is quickly dropped. Leo Estrella was included in the deal, and he's out of options, but he isn't anything special. On merit, and not major league experience, he would be behind Tyler Walker on the organizational depth chart. If Nen ever comes back, the team will risk losing Estrella on waivers.

Replacing Jason Schmidt with Wayne Franklin, and Robb Nen with Leo Estrella. Thus begins the 2004 season. If you would be so kind as to pass the Maker's Mark....



4) Lost in the shuffle: Kevin Correia. He was an afterthought last spring training, but Dick Tidrow's faith and acumen allowed Correia to be a very capable stopgap. Great story, but there is a little relief that goes along with his assignment to Fresno. The rapid ascent was impressive, but he is still less than two years out of Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo. Give him some innings in AAA, take the pressure off, and if he mows down the competition, great. If he needs to work on his delivery, or any particular pitches, he won't be doing it for a contender.


5) The votes are in, and the weekly post format won in a landslide. The idea of short, daily bursts of snark has been relegated to the ashtray of history. Say hello to Fat Elvis and New Coke there, daily bursts of snark.

posted by G at 10:49 PM





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     Wednesday, March 24, 2004
 

1) As El Lefty Malo notes, there are rumblings Francisco Santos might make the team in the place of the injured Jeffrey Hammonds. Santos was a fringe prospect two seasons ago. His stock crashed after it was discovered his name wasn't Deivi -- or Deivis, for that matter -- he was six years older than he had previously claimed, and now goes by the symbol "§". Suddenly, a 22-year old prospect managing a .440 slugging percentage in AA, became a 28-year old hacker who couldn't walk more than once every 20 at-bats, or hit for any substantial power, in a league he was much too old for.

In a gesture of either loyalty or stupidity, the Giants didn't release Santos, instead letting him play 2003 in AAA. He was awful. Secret Window awful. There is no way to coat a .239/.261/.382 line with sugar, even if the player is a shorstop, and not a first baseman/corner outfielder like Santos. He's now 30, and the boldest bulletpoint on his resume is he was able to hit .312 off AA pitching two years ago.

It is tempting to write his spring training invitation off as the result of something positive the intrepid scouts and front office types caught, and which wasn't reflected in last year's stats. Tempting, except these are the same scouts and front office types who have presided over a player development system so barren of hitters, Marvin Benard is one of its greatest recent triumphs. Benefit of the doubt is underrated, but it is wholly appropriate to question their evaluating skills when dealing with hitters.

What remains to be seen is if these ideas of Santos cracking the roster are coming from Brian Sabean, Ron Wotus, or a figment of Joe Roderick's imagination. If anyone with any capacity to make decisions is putting stock in 40 spring training at-bats, the franchise is in big trouble both now and in the future. With the latest round of roster cuts complete, and Santos still in camp, he looks like a possibility that's being considered, along with Jason Ellison, Tony Torcato, and Todd Linden. Unbelievable.



2) The zany Feliz-to-shortstop idea seems to be somewhat of a success, possibly allowing the Giants to keep a more offensively-minded position player than Cody Ransom. Brian Dallimore was just cut from the big league camp, but was hitting the ball well. This brings up the Spring Training Statistics Theorem, which posits:
Spring statistics are useless, unless they support a point you are trying to make.
It seems obvious from the 20 at-bats this spring that Dallimore is ready for a major league roster spot, and perhaps would have been the most productive starter on the '98 Yankees. He's getting most of his innings at third base, but he has played a good deal of second base in the past. Say, that brings up the Middle Infielder Theorem:
If a second baseman can't fill in for a couple of innings at shortstop without embarrassing himself, he probably shouldn't be a second baseman to begin with.
If Dallimore had any business playing second base in the minor leagues, he should be able to cover shortstop in a worst case scenario. It's a moot point, now.

If the team takes an outfielder like Santos or Linden to fill in for Hammonds, they could still have taken Dallimore at the expense of Ransom. Ransom is out of options, but there aren't too many 40-man roster spots to go around. Like Damon Minor last year, it seems reasonable to assume he would be back in Fresno. If another team did claim him, the difference between Jaime Athas/Angel Chavez and Ransom as emergency call-ups wouldn't be big enough to lose sleep over.

Sports Weekly had an interesting rumor in the two pages of the baseball coverage they were kind enough to sandwich between the "2005 NFL Draft Preview! Only 400 Days Left!" feature, and the 34-page profile on Clinton Portis. The note mentioned the Giants were interested in Tony Womack, before he was traded from Boston to St. Louis. Womack and Neifi? That would be the most dastardly combination since Nikolai Volkov and The Iron Shiek. Look out, humanity.



3) Get a load of one of Felipe Alou's possible opening day rotations if Jason Schmidt is on the D.L.: Rueter, Williams, Hermanson, Tomko, and Brian Cooper. The Brian Cooper, you ask? The very same. Even though Kevin Correia, Noah Lowry, and Merkin Valdez are already on the 40-man roster, the 29-year old rightie has apparently had a spring impressive enough to put him in consideration for the final spot. As an emergency option in AAA, there are definitely worse pitchers to have. As the first option for replacing your best pitcher, he's like filling your radiator with Clamato.

Cooper's K/BB ratios have always been decent, though he has also given up an ugly amount of hits at every stop. With Cooper, Tyler Walker, Adam Pettyjohn, and possibly Kevin Correia, the Fresno Grizzlies should have a competitive staff. They'll also score two runs a game, but, gosh, that's just nitpicking.

The starting pitchers for the Giants have a combined ERA of 177.30 this spring, and the ugliness just keeps coming. Dustin Hermanson had his second awful performance in a row, and the game recap contained the following sentence: "Terrence Long singled home Jeff Cirillo in the third..." Ye gods. It's surprising major league contracts don't have an automatic out clause if a pitcher allows that to happen.

A notable omission in the above Chronicle article is Correia, who isn't mentioned. Ryan Jensen is, however. Who knows what that means. Jensen had a brief scare last year when he noticed a growth coming out of his back. After some tests, doctors determined the growth to be a stuck fork, and Jensen was cleared to coach.



4) The Oakland Tribune claims the Giants might have interest in Aaron Sele. Let's see. Coming off two down years? Check. Injury problems? Check. Expensive? Oh, yeah. Why isn't this deal done yet?

If the Giants only had to pick up a small portion of Sele's contract, no more than $2M, he would be an okay risk to take. Or, at least as good of a risk as Tomko or Hermanson, with the possible upside a 33-year old with shoulder problems can bring. If a team is willing to eat $6M, they might want a decent prospect in return. Nuts to that. The offer should be §, and nothing more.


5) Which format would you prefer for this site: short posts throughout the week, or the current setup of a large post once a week? Let me know with an email, and I'll go with the majority view, because I can't decide.

posted by G at 7:23 PM





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     Wednesday, March 17, 2004
 

Advance Apologies for the Silliness




1) The "wild West" is a vivid historical American archetype, recalling images of rugged mining towns, and cowboys sauntering up with one hand on their six-shooter, not necessarily looking for trouble, but not declining any invitations, either.

The NL West is more reminiscent of a crappy Battle of the Bands filled with bands named Ragarnok, or Mutton. Who will win the twenty hours of complimentary studio time? Will the Dodgers hit? Will the Padres field? Did they really just use a Puddle of Mudd cover as their only entry? Will the Giants stay healthy? Does someone really have to win?

The Giants are the tentative favorites, though some pundits lean toward the Diamondbacks, Padres, or Dodgers. If there's such a thing as the "it" team, the Giants are baseball's "if" team. If Barry stays healthy. If Schmidt stays healthy. If Alfonzo rebounds. Reassurance is for weenies.

The problems of the competitors are easy enough to spot. Arizona is relying on a couple of old-timers in the outfield to help carry an offense, and a 40-year old pitcher to regain his form after a knee injury. The Dodgers couldn't hit last year, and are stuffing a square Juan Encarnacion peg in a round panacea hole. Their pitching was outstanding, but they switched out Kevin Brown for Jeff Weaver, and there's no way the bullpen is going to be as good.

The Padres would be the "it" team, having a substantial amount of power in Brian Giles and Ryan Klesko, and a beautiful new park to inspire them. The defense is scary, though Jay Payton helps out in center. Peter Gammons -- who is never to be doubted, and probably has stories from Battles of the Bands all over the country -- claims Brian Lawrence's velocity is way down. The pitching is shaky aside from Jake Peavy, depending on how much credit you want to give David Wells. Some days it's obvious who should be the favorite between the Giants and Padres. Other days, it isn't so clear.

What is obvious is that the Rockies are awful. Terrible. Ranking with the Brewers and Pirates, but only if you are generous. They'd have to get on a stepladder to see the Reds. Vinnie Castilla, Royce Clayton, Shawn Estes, Joe Kennedy. Those are the offseason acquisitions. Someone take this team behind the shed, and put it out of its misery, but not until Chin-Hui Tsao is rescued. They'll still take 10 of 12 from the Giants in Coors, however. Let's not get carried away.

Predicted standings, complete with obvious biases:

Giants 90-72
Padres 90-72
Diamondbacks 82-80
Dodgers 79-83
Rockies 61-101



2) Though acute cases of Neiphobia are being reported in record numbers, there wasn't an obvious alternative for the offseason. The team wasn't willing to overpay for Miguel Tejada, and Rich Aurilia's agent spent the early part of the offseason pretending he was clever. Aside from those two, there wasn't a shortstop on the free agent market worth making a fuss over.

Cody Ransom is going to be the backup, and that seems like a bit of a waste. If circumstances force a team to play a no-hit, good-glove shortstop, it makes no sense to have another one on the bench. If there is a yin to Neifi's tragic yang, it might be Lou Collier. Collier hasn't regularly played short in the majors since 1998, so it is safe to assume is fielding isn't so hot.

And yet....

The perfect benchmate for Neifi would be someone who could hit, even a little bit, and handle short when called upon. In a sense, the Giants think they already have something like that in Pedro Feliz, but Collier has experience at the position. The downsides are obvious. He's hit like Jose Vidro over the past three years in AAA, but has consistently struggled in the majors. He's not getting younger, and at 30, his best days are likely behind him. He is a versatile player, however, able to play any position but catcher.

Ransom starting, with Collier and Feliz ready to stumble around behind him, would be a better situation for the Giants than just having a Perez/Ransom combo. Collier is in the Phillies camp, fighting for a roster spot he might not get. It wouldn't take much to get him.

Grasping at straws? Hell yes. Neifi Perez, starting shortstop. Now starting for the Giants at shortstop, Neifi Perez. Ol' Ironman Neifi hasn't missed a game yet this year, an announcer might say at some point in August. Freaking blecch. His defense might get overlooked by the statistical vanguard at times, but that doesn't mean he's fun to watch. Ogling a middling utility man from another team is as good as it is going to get, unless Jaime Athas is bit by a radioactive spider, or something.



3) It's a weird feeling, checking the score of a Giants game, and not caring if they're on the losing end. The losing streak in the beginning of the exhibition season might have got me down if I weren't checking box scores, and finding players like Ozzie Canseco are pitching the ninth innings.

That's the beauty of spring training. Giants lost? Whatever, it's just spring. Giants won? Great sign, I told you so, and Dustin Hermanson is this year's Esteban Loiza. It's like your wedding. Will you spend your life in blissful matrimony? Maybe, maybe not. But at least you got really drunk in fancy clothes.

Hey, it's spring training for baseball writers too. It's not like you pay for this stuff.

Friday's game against the Mariners is going to be televised on ESPN2, which is great news. Almost. The game is on at 11 a.m., meaning anyone slaving away for The Man is out of luck. Unless, of course, you pay attention to:
The Waiting for Boof Guide to Calling in Sick to Work for Baseball Purposes

Tip #1: Don't talk about TWFBGTCISTWFBP.

Tip #2: Don't talk about TWFBGTCISTWFBP!

Tip #3: If you are always calling in sick already, just do it again. Nobody believes you anyway, so it isn't like you have credibility to damage.

Tip #4: Start two days before with the sniffles. If you're allergic to anything, roll around in it for a while before work. The day before you call in sick, make sure you're incredibly hung over. Act like you are a determined little soldier, forsaking your own health for the company good. Maybe throwing a "I have but one life"-type sentiment out there, complete with an exaggerated Peter O'Toole accent.

Tip #5: One dangerous pitfall is being too clever with your excuse. There is no shame in simply proclaiming you don't feel well. Grandmothers dying, dogs getting hysterectomies, and pinkeye of the liver aren't necessary.

Tip #6: When starting work at a new place, make sure you're constantly patting people on the back. That way, when you've worked there for a while, it will be easy to stick funny signs on co-workers' backs. If you don't start early, everyone will know what you're up to when you pat their back later on. It doesn't have to do with staying home, but it is worth keeping in mind.

Tip #7: Don't go around telling people you are going to call in sick the next day.


The last tip might seem obvious, but it is always important to remember. The day before Game 1 of the 2002 NLDS, a day game between the Giants and Braves, I joked around with my boss about calling in sick to work. All day, I ran the joke into the ground. "Gee, I'd better get this done, because I'm not going to be here tomorrow." Har har.

Then came the poison calamari, and I spent my night making out with a toilet. The worst part about being violently ill for hours, aside from the obvious, is the strain on the muscles. The next morning, I had to crawl into work, wincing with every movement, hoping my intestines and stomach weren't going to turn into a fog and leak out my ears. How do you call in sick when everyone you work with knows you'd rather be watching a baseball game?

My out was I had never taken a sick day, and haven't taken another one since. I went into work looking like Abe Vigoda after a meth bender, and was mercifully sent home. I got to watch the game, though. So, you ask, if you never call in sick, why should I pay attention to your guide? Good question. If it's personal experience you're after, then follow this guide.
Tip #1: Never call in sick to work.

Tip #2: Eat at a restaurant where the prep cooks carry calamari in their shirt pockets throughout the day, and not in a boring old refrigerator.

Tip #3: Make sure to bring a portable television into the bathroom.

Tip #4: If your temperature is much, much too high, fill the bathtub with ice and water, and thrash around in it before you pass out. Then, while mourning your deceased son --played by Macaulay Culkin -- during a series of flashbacks, remember you died years ago in Vietnam, and none of this is real.


Hope that helps, and enjoy the game.


4) Two newer Giants blogs of note: Across the Seams and The Blog that Bonds Built. Check them out after you savor my site just a little longer. A little longer. Breath it in. Okay, now you can go.

posted by G at 1:59 AM





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     Wednesday, March 10, 2004
 
1) What a beautiful, beautiful thing to take my lunch on Tuesday, and catch an hour of the Cubs-Giants game. In the words of Jack Handey:
Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful, beautiful flamingo, flying across in front of a beautiful sunset? And he's carrying a beautiful rose in his beak, and also he's carrying a very beautiful painting with his feet. And also, you're drunk.
The first baseball game of the spring is at least a close second, depending on the objective beauty of the flamingo.

In that game, Lance Niekro drove in a run by taking a close 3-2 pitch. There is no better way to start the season than with some irrational optimism. After watching three minutes of baseball, it was clear Niekro was going to develop into George Brett, learn to take a walk, and hit .350 for the Giants this year. Minutes later, he wrenched his ankle going after a pop-up, and had to hobble off the field. Ah, yes. Baseball. You salty bitch, you.

Spring is the perfect time for reading too much into five innings from a pitcher, or 20 at-bats from a hitter. Dustin Hermanson has six strikeouts in four innings. He's going to be an all-star this season. You don't have to go home, logic, but you can't stay here.



2) The headline to the latest Ken Rosenthal column reads, "(Alfonso) Soriano a good fit for 'Frisco". That's a shame, because I was hoping the Giants would get him. Then, after reading closer, it seems Rosenthal was talking about the Giants. His editor is just from Lithuania, or from one of the forsaken places in America where they refer to "soda" as "pop"; hence the use of "Frisco" in the headline.

The article intimates the Giants wouldn't be able to take on Soriano's salary of $5.6M unless they were able to ship Neifi Perez or Felix Rodriguez back. Let's see where that lies on the Spectrum of Likelihood:
Likely
/ \
| Sun rises in the east
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| People Magazine puts Jennifer Aniston on cover
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| Picture of Tommy Lasorda playing pinochle with Anton LeVey made public
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| Giants win the NL West
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| Rockies win the NL West
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| Giants win the AL Central
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| People Magazine puts Blackie Lawless on cover
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| Sun rises in the west
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| Neifi Perez included in a trade which brings Alfonso Soriano to Giants
\ /
Not likely

Rosenthal says the Giants might tempt the Rangers with one of Merkin Valdez, Matt Cain, and David Aardsma. Other than the fact Aardsma, as a member of the 2003 draft class, can't be traded for another few months, it sounds great. Matt Cain and Neifi as the start of a package for Soriano? Gee, as long as we wouldn't have to throw Ryan Jensen in.



3) Over at Batter's Box, there is a great piece of work on NCAA hitting statistics. The methodology incorporates the effects of different NCAA Division I stadiums, as well as the quality of the competition each batter faced, and tries to make clearer sense of college stats. After the numbers were run, here were the top ten hitters in NCAA Division I, with their draft round, 2003 professional statistics, and minor league level(s):

Hitter

Drafted

BA/OBP/SLG

Minor League Level

Jeremy Cleveland

Michael Aubrey

Rickie Weeks

Ryan Roberts

Brian Buscher

Ricardo Nanitia

Stephen Drew

Tony Richie

Tony McQuade

Jonny Kaplan

Round 8

Round 1

Round 1

Round 18

Round 3

Round 14

Soph.

Round 4

Round 15

Round 12

.328/.432/.514 in 245 AB

.348/.409/.551 in 138 AB

.349/.492/.556 in 63 AB

.278/.374/.440 in 248 AB

.275/.318/.320 in 200 AB

.384/.445/.546 in 185 AB



.175/.266/.211 in 57 AB

.232/.302/.379 in 190 AB

.276/.336/.428 in 257 AB

Short-season A (Northwest League)

Low A (South Atlantic)

Low A (Midwest)

Rookie (New York-Penn)

Low A (South Atlantic)

Rookie (Pioneer)



Low A (Midwest)

Short-season A (Northwest League)

Rookie (Pioneer)



Brian Buscher has been the target of mixed reviews, to say the least. Baseball America included him in their annual list of Giants top ten prospects, while On Deck Baseball doesn't rank him in the top 40 Giants hitting prospects. He hit .393/.453/.644 in his senior season for University of South Carolina, but, until the Batter's Box study, it was hard to decipher those stats with any relative meaning.

Baseball America also write the Giants see Buscher as a "lefthanded-hitting Joe Randa", so hold off on making a reservation at a Cooperstown bed and breakfast for 2027. If Buscher has a career as successful as Randa's, he'll have beaten the odds.

Of the list above, three other players were started in as high of a level as Buscher. Weeks and Aubrey were both first-rounders, and they both demolished Low A pitching. Richie struggled mightily, albeit in only 57 at-bats. Several of the other players started off their pro careers in a promising fashion, but in lower levels. Could Buscher have come close to Cleveland's .328/.432/.514 if he had started in the Northwest League? The difference between the South Atlantic and Northwest leagues probably isn't that great, but it is worth thinking about.

The Giants showed a lot of confidence in Buscher by starting him off in A-ball. Baseball America showed a lot of confidence by including him in their top ten list. He'll be one of the more interesting prospects to watch this year.

Incidentally, Batter's Box previews the upcoming Giants season here.

Edit: HTML problem fixed. Thanks Darren!



4) Everyone who lived through it remembers where they heard the news John F. Kennedy was shot. A new generation will always remember where they were when they heard Jeffrey Hammonds was going to miss time with an injury.

"Let's see...I was in a car wash once, three times I was watching a game on television in that one apartment, twice on television where I'm living right now, twice listening to it on radio, a couple times I think I was actually at a game, four times I was on the internet, once at my sister's house, three times I was...."

Hammonds broke his hand on Tuesday, after getting in the way of a Wayne Franklin fastball. It's always a shame to see the fabrigé players go down to a fluke injury not related to balky hamstrings, so you have to feel for Hammonds.

The roster was mostly set before the Hammonds injury, as the only spot up for grabs would have been filled with Chad Zerbe, Kevin Correia, or a dark horse pitcher with an impressive spring. With Hammonds down, there's going to be a battle for a bench spot as well. The 40-man roster is full, so if Nathan Haynes hits .503 for the next month, Jesse Foppert would have to be transferred to the 60-day DL or someone would have to be dropped from the roster. I'm not sure why Foppert wouldn't be on the 60-day already, but I'm certainly not an expert on roster rules.

The candidates for the vacant outfield spot are:


Tony Torcato

Pro - He was a first round pick. Yep.

Con - Okay, look, none of these guys can really hit, so I'm not going to do one of these silly things for every outfielder in camp. Jason Ellison, Carlos Valderrama, and Torcato are all interchangable. Baseball Prospectus projects Ellison to hit .248/.315/.350, Valderrama to hit .247/.304/.371, and Torcato to hit .261/.302/.372. Nathan Haynes isn't in the book, but I'll guess he was right around .247/.303/.372. Why not?

The man who will likely fill the spot, Todd Linden, hardly blows them all out of the water with a .247/.330/.391 projection. If the point is moot, then why not have fun watching Rob Stratton? His projection of .216/.300/.447 seems a little too sunny, and I'm guessing he isn't a whiz-bang glove artist, but each of his at-bats would be an event. The guy swings at every pitch like the ball just made vague, Suge Knightish threats to his mother. If the choice is between four .250/.305/.370 guys, Stratton should make the team for the sake of the fans who come out early to watch batting practice. Reward them, Sabes. C'mon....

Stratton's PECOTA forecast is unique, as he's one of the handful of players who have a "breakout" forecast of 50% or above, meaning he's as likely to substantially improve on his last season in AAA than not. He isn't going to make the roster, so it will be interesting to see his role in Fresno.

posted by G at 9:24 PM





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     Thursday, March 04, 2004
 
1) There has been a conscious decision on my part to refrain on commenting on any BALCO news. Only Baseball Matters has been covering the subject much more thoroughly than I could hope to, for one, and I would generally prefer to make knock-knock jokes about Johnny LeMaster anyway; such is the niche I've carved for myself.

The latest news from the San Francisco Chronicle, however, is being quoted as gospel by a lot of people, and it bothers me. The story cites a single unnamed source. This source, who is touted as an insider, has an agenda. Anyone who leaks information has an agenda. It is highly unlikely the source is doing this out of some sort of moral obligation. He or she might be intentionally spinning the news for their own benefit, or the story might be true, and the source might just like to feel important by creating news.

The old unnamed source gag is hardly a smoking gun. Good reporters can do stupid things in the effort to scoop other sources. From the opinion article linked above:
I trust all leakers and anonymous sources-I trust them to give a selective account that will benefit them, one that pleases their patrons and screws their enemies. Telling the truth, I guarantee you, ranks very low on most leakers' list of motives.

Leakers and anonymice thrive everywhere in modern journalism, even the sports pages...
I do think Bonds has been using performance-enhancing drugs. I'm not 100% convinced, but the circumstantial evidence doesn't look good. Bonds' trainer is in hot water for his involvement with performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds is almost 40, and hasn't lost an ounce of strength. I don't think it is a heretical leap of logic to say, jeez, man, that sounds a little fishy.

Barely-educated guesses aren't proof, though. I'm not about to align myself with the black helicopter crowd who run around screaming, "'Roids! 'Roids! His head is bigger! I've four different caliper readings from Bonds' phrenologist over the years, and his head has quadrupled in size! Burn him at the stake!" Do I leave the possibility open that Bonds is merely a freak of nature, and the whole business with the personal trainer is a horrible, horrible coincidence? Of course. Occam wouldn't be able to get a close shave with that baby, but I hope it's the truth. It's improbable, but not impossible.

If actual proof comes out Bonds has been using, and not just claims from Deep Flyout, I will have very strong feelings on the subject. I'll cross that bridge when there is a new, legitimate development in the story.

This piece has the feel of a "Facts of Life" episode where Tootie finds out she has cancer. My apologies. On with the subjective analysis and stupid jokes, which, trust me, will be in ample supply this season. For instance....



2) ...after finding an online anagram generator, I plugged in Dustin Hermanson, just because it was the first thing that popped in my head. His name can morph into "Harm in us tendons". Not a good sign. I foolishly thought every Giants player would have some ironic message buried in their name. After about 2938 hours fooling with the stupid site, and getting minimal returns, I can assure you that is not the case.

Kim Batiste turns into "Is beak mitt", which is almost funny. If your selective amnesia has expunged his fielding from your memory, just know he fielded as if he had a mitt shaped like a beak. Or a beak in his mitt. Or a mitt made out of beaks. Alright, so it isn't funny at all. I still enjoy the idea of loudly yelling, "Say, is that ol' beak mitt?". If I had to give the nickname "Beak Mitt" out -- gun to my head, and all that -- it would have gone to Kim Batiste anyway.

Noah Lowry can become "A horny owl", which is how some sorority girls at Rice might have described a drunken David Aardsma.

Marvin Benard can transform into "Raven Birdman", but, trust me, you don't want to see the spandex crime fighting costume that goes along with that pseudonym. Nor do you want to eat at his restaurant, "Bar and Vermin".

By rearranging the letters in Dustan Mohr's name, you get my favorite nickname for Jose Cruz, Jr: Tumor Hands. Coincidence? No way.

Dustan Mohr was a fun one, because you could create New York Post headlines by repeating his name. Dustan Mohr Dustan Mohr Dustan Mohr Dustan Mohr = Hard Donut Smut Harms Random Tush on Trash Mound!

And, last but not least: Game Six Bullpen: "Expansible Glum". That one's just not fair.

Pardon me as I observe a moment of silence for the time I heinously murdered while doing this crap.



3) Congratulations to Lon Simmons. Hawaii's favorite pun-loving, adopted son was the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, and will be honored during the Hall of Fame weekend. My favorite Simmons line: "The outfield is shallow......guess they haven't read many books." Of all his lame jokes, a description I doubt Simmons would dispute, that one always got me.



4) Another spring, another cockamamie story about how some pitcher is going to set the world on fire with a new pitch. This time it's Felix Rodriguez and a new sinker. C'mon, doesn't anyone remember the bogus stories about Livan Hernandez learning a two-seamer last spring? Exactly. It didn't help Livan out any. I even mocked the idea here.

Wait a minute...that ornery tub of goo had a great season! That theory didn't go far. Felix learning a new pitch is a welcome development. He's been an effective reliever, but hasn't dominated since his 2001 season. Having only one quality pitch is an obvious, and perhaps accurate, scapegoat.

Still, I can picture Scott Spiezio opening a beer bottle with his World Series ring, laughing, "Ooh. A two-seamer! Tell you what, why don't you take that pitch, and mail it back to 2002 when it might have mattered." Jerk. See if I ever follow Sandfrog around the country in my VW Bus again.

posted by G at 1:06 AM





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