Friday, October 30, 2009

Giants Resign Freddy Sanchez

Good news for Giants fans: Freddy Sanchez has been resigned and at a lower price that we had anticipated.  Sanchez had an option for one year at $8.1 million.  This is a little steep for a player who barely gave us any playing-time last year.  However, luckily, Sanchez has agreed to a two year deal at $12 million.  This is great, because we will have a solid .300 hitter for 2B for the next two years (assuming Sanchez's production won't drop a great amount), and for a price cheaper than we had expected. 

Here is a link to the story

In the story Sanchez noted how sorry he was that was unable to help the Giants into the post-season in 2009:

"I try to be as loyal a person as I can . . . . Being a part of this San Francisco Giants family, hopefully I can do what they traded for me to do." 

A real class-act.  I appreciate a player who is a humble and loyal to his team.  That is a rare quality these days.

Freddy Sanchez is already shaping up to be my favorite Giant of the 2010 season. 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Why Being A Giants Fan Is Better than Being A Dodgers Fan

It's the offseason, so I don't have a lot to write about.  Naturally, I gravitate toward what most Giants fans like to write about when they don't have games to talk about: Why we are better than the Dodgers.  So, here are my reasons why if you are a Giants fan you should be proud.  If you are a Dodgers fan, you should probably just check out.

I.  The Giants Have Beaten the Dodgers More Times Than the Dodgers Have Beaten the Giants.

Over the course of their entire history, the Giants have beaten the Dodgers 1160 times, whereas the Dodgers have beaten the Giants 1139 times.  When asking which team is better, there is no better measure than who has won more head to head contests.  And the winner of that, ladies and gentleman, is the Giants.  Ask Dodger fans they will probably respond with something asinine like "Well, the Dodgers have beaten the Giants more times since the move to California."  That's swell!  You can carve up history however you want ("Hey, the fact of the matter is, the Giants beat the Dodgers more times this past weekend.  So they must be better, right?"), but the fact of the matter is, the Giants won more times.  Period.  There is no denying it.  Sorry.

When confronted with this statistic, most Dodgers fans respond with touting the five World Series rings they have won since moving to California, whereas the Giants have yet to win one.  That's fine.  The Giants have still won five World Series championships over their history.  We only have to win one more to tie it all up.  And considered the Giants have been to the World Series twice since the Dodgers last appeared there (and the fact that the Dodgers seem to be NLCS challenged as of late), I would say it is quite possible that the Giants will win a WS before the Dodger win their next one.

II.  AT&T Park Is Vastly Superior to Dodger Stadium.

This one just seems unfair.  No one in their right mind would say Dodger Stadium is nicer than AT&T Park (Dodgers fans would, but no one in their right mind would be a Dodger fan to begin with).  Dodger Stadium rests over the giant parking lot that smells of urine.  On a hot day, the pungent smells of filth radiate off the asphalt, making Dodger Stadium one of the most unpleasant places to be in professional sports.  Contrast that with AT&T Park: a shimmering example of American architectural achievement, AT&T Park rests over the beautiful San Francisco Bay, with stunning views of East Bay.  There is little nicer than sitting at AT&T on a Saturday afternoon watching the Giants. 

But don't take my word for.  I am obviously biased. When rating all MLB ballparks, Forbes magazine placed Dodger Stadium at number 20 while AT&T claimed the top spot.  Dodger Stadium may have history, but that's about it.

Have some garlic fries, Dodger fans.  That will turn those frowns upside down.

III.  Juan Marichal Beat the Crap out of A Dodger.

I don't normally condone violence.  But this one is just too good.  On 22 August 1965 the Dodgers were playing the Giants at Candlestick Park.  Giants Pitcher Juan Marichal had thrown two balls near the head of Dodgers' outfielder Maury Willis.  When it was Marichal's turn to bat, Dodgers' catcher Johnny Rosboro returned throws too close to Marichal's head, with one ball in fact grazing the Giants' ace's ear.

Well, Juan Marichal doesn't take shit.  Especially shit from a blueberry.

Juan turned around and beat the living hell out of Rosboro with his bat.  Rosboro apparently took off his helmet to argue with Marichal.  Marichal responded by whacking the blueberry several times right across his empty dome.

The incident resulted in Marichal's suspension.  But it was well worth it.  Dodger fans still hate Juan Marichal for the incident.  For us Giants fans, however, it is a reminder of how you don't screw with the Gents and walk away from it.

Dodger fans remain angry to this day because, despite all their claims to toughness, a Dodger has never come close to getting the up on a Giant like what happened on that day.

IV.  Barry Bonds Broke the All-Time Homerun Record as a Giant and at AT&T. 

Barry Bonds is amazing.  Steroids or no steroids.  The man simply is one of the greatest baseball players of all-time, and he is someone the Dodgers love to hate.  Why? Because he beat the crap out of them for years.  Dodger fans loved to call Barry a cheater during his tenure with the Giants.  They refused to acknowledge he is the Homerun King.  They always complained about how he was rude with the media.

Yet, now the Dodgers curiously have their own steroid-riddled outfielder.  And suddenly that is okay.

No matter: the bottom line is Barry Bonds has more homeruns than any other player in the history of baseball (with the exception of that Japanese guy, but he doesn't count since they play in Little League parks in Japan).   

The Dodgers have nothing comparable to put up against the Giants.

And that makes them sad.

IV.  Our Classic Song Is Better than Theirs.

"When the Giants Come to Town"  is simply better than "D-O-D-G-E-R-S."

Nothing else needs to be said about that.

V.  Tommy Lasorda.

I am not comparing Lasorda to anyone.

I'm just glad he never was part of the Giants organization.

VI.  Giants Fans Actually Show up for Games.

I wrote about this in a previous post.  Per capita, more Giants fans show up for their team's home games than do Dodger fans for their home games.

Sad but true.

Maybe if they didn't play over a latrine in a hot ravine they would have more people show up for their games in LA.

VII.  The Shot Heard Round the World.

The year is 1951.  The Giants were down and out mid-way through the season.  The Giants were 13.5 games behind the hated Dodgers and it looked like all was lost.  However, the Gents were able to pull off a 16-game winning streak and at the end of the season they forced a three-game tie-breaker playoff.   

The Giants won the first game at Ebbets Field.  From there, they went back to the Polo Grounds where they would play the last two games of the series.  The Dodgers won game 2.  So, it all came down to game 3.

The Dodgers started off well.  By the bottom on the ninth, the Dodgers were ahead 4 runs to 1.  The Giants managed to score one run, and ended up with two men on base.  The score was 4 to 2, Dodgers favor, when Bobbby Thompson came up to bat.  On the second pitch of the at-bat, Thompson ripped the ball into the stands, getting a walk-off three-run homerun.  It was called the shot heard round the world.  There is probably no other moment in baseball history as iconic as this one.  The announcer that day was so shocked and overcome all he could muster to say was "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!"

In 2001 it was reported that the Giants actually had a coach sitting in the stands with a telescope spying on the Dodgers in order to steal signs.  Ever since this was revealed, Dodger fans act as if this moment somehow is cheapened or "doesn't count."  Unfortunately, Dodger fans fail to note that sign-stealing was not against the rules of baseball at the time, and was in fact a common practice.

Plus, if your signs get stolen, too f'n bad.

Play harder next time.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

PEDs and HOFers

I was 9 years old in 1994. I loved baseball then. I played on my Little League team (several seasons with the Giants and several with the Yankees), and I looked forward to games every weekend. My friends and I had a vast amount of hero-worship for the Giants slugger, Mr. Barry Bonds. Whenever someone asked me who my favorite player was there was no question. Barry. Barry. Barry.

1994 was not a good year for baseball fans. The players went on strike and the season ended. I won't endeavor to comment on why the strike was held and whether I agreed with it or not. I will say how I felt though: devastated. How could baseball go on strike? How could they not play? I remember feeling slightly betrayed: I had to go and support my team even when I was sick. My mother made me. Because that is what a good teammate does. You always show up to play the game unless you physically can't. Yet, in 1994 all of my heroes walked off the field.

I was angry. And so were a lot of other baseball fans. I fell out of love with baseball for several years because of the strike.

The changed in 1998.

Mark Mcgwire, Sammy Sosa, and Ken Griffey Jr. were all in the race to break Roger Maris's homerun record. It was exciting. Players in my time were breaking records. My friends and I watched games routinely throughout that season. The storylines. The drama. The record! It was simply an amazing thing to watch. When it was over, I was suddenly back into baseball.

But I wanted more.

Barry Bonds, my old favorite, gave it to me. Bonds broke the record that Mcgwire set. He also broke the all-time record several years after that. But, unlike with McGwire, suddenly people wondered.

What the hell is wrong with baseball? And why does Barry Bonds look like a body-builder? Is this right?

And so the great steroid drama ensued. People were mad. They called Bonds a cheater. They worried about the sanctity of the game. They threw syringes on the field. They hated the monster we had all created and allowed to come into fruition. And so now, with the steroid-era at a close one question remains: what do we do about the players who broke old records? Should those records stand?

This question is not new to anyone who has followed baseball, even in the most casual sense, over the past several years.

There are two rules which help me form my opinion on the matter:

1) Baseball is not a fair game;
2) There is no crying in baseball.

Following these two golden rules I come to the conclusion that those players who used PEDs should not be barred from entering the hall of fame, nor should their records be suspect or marked with asterisks. This is not simply because of Barry Bonds. I do not believe Manny Ramirez, Alexander Rodriguez, or any other player should be demonized for the steroid-era, or their accomplishment be cheapened.

Many people who believe that baseball players who used PEDs should not be allowed in the Hall of Fame, because they "cheated." I cannot say that using PEDs was not cheating. I think it is wrong, I think it is foul, and I think it is immoral. However, this brings me to Rule One: Baseball is not a fair game. It is true. Baseball is not a fair game. No one can sit with a straight face and say Major League Baseball is fair. Big market teams dominate playoff spots, since they have the most money to sign the best players. There is little parity in baseball. However, just because the New York Yankees have the most money to buy the best players does not mean their championships are tainted. Yes, the Yankees have a huge advantage over the Oakland A's. Yet, we accept that as fans of MLB. Baseball is not fair.

Let's look at another dark era in baseball history and at the stars who played during the time. The star of segregation-era baseball, for many, is Babe Ruth. Babe Ruth is still considered by many to be the true homerun king. He is certainly one of the top five most recognized names in American sports, let alone baseball. Yet, Babe Ruth had an advantage that a lot of players today don't have.

He didn't have to compete with some of the best competition. Up until Jackie Robinson broke down the color-barrier, black players were not allowed in MLB. Today, many of the greatest baseball players are black (see Barry Bonds). Babe Ruth had a distinct advantage during his era. He did not have to play against many people who may have become the best baseball players of the era.

Now, was it Babe Ruth's fault that black players could not play in MLB. Of course not. He wasn't in charge of that. However, he still benefited from a system of racism. Yet, we do not (and should not) fault him for it. Babe Ruth accomplished what he did and he did it during a time when that was considered acceptable and "how it was."

Jump forward to the steroid-era. The difference here is that Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, Alexander Rodriguez, and so on, all made a personal choice to use steroids. Yet, at the same time, using PEDs was characteristic of the times. Just about every single big name of the time was using PEDs. If you wanted to make it in MLB during those years, you probably had to use PEDs, unless you were Heracles.

Just like segregation was not fair, so too is PED use. However, baseball is not fair. Steroids, like segregation, is a dark part of baseball's history. Despite that, we cannot cast shadow over the players who thrived during those times. We should put an asterisk on their records, to denote that their records are tainted, or were created in unfair conditions. If that were so, nearly every World Series winner would have an asterisk that would read: "WS Champs. Although, they had a lot more money than the team they beat."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Possible Trade Plan (Brian Sabean Read)

I post often at Pro Sports Daily, which has a lot of dedicated and knowledgeable Giants fans, who are always willing to share ideas for the team. The following plan was suggested by one poster on the board, and I have to say I think it is a solid plan for the Giants: it appears doable and, most importantly, it is a plan that could get us into the playoffs.

First, we would sign the following players:

Eric Byrnes (OF) - 2 years/7 mil
Brian Schneider (C) - 1 year/2 mil
Juan Uribe (Utility) - 2 years/9 mil
Brad Penny (SP) - 3 years/12 mil
Rich Harden (SP) - 2 years/10 mil
Freddy Sanchez 3 year (2B) - 16 mil

Second, we would make the following trades:

Aaron Rowand for Milton Bradley (OF)
Sanchez/Bowker/Kieschnick/Garko/Valdez for BJ Upton (OF) and Pena (1B) from Tampa Bay.

With those acquisitions we could have the following lineup:

1. Sanchez (2B)
2. Upton (CF)
3. Sandoval (3B)
4. Pena (1B)
5. Bradley (LF)
6. Uribe (SS)
7. Posey (C)
8. Schierholtz (RF)

On the bench we would have Velez, Ishikawa, Renteria, Byrnes, and Schneider.

Our rotation would be solid:

1. Lincecum
2. Zito
3. Cain
4. Penny
5. Harden

The bullpen would have Wilson, Romo, Affeldt, Runzler, Medders, Bumgarner, and Joaquin.

Why do I like this plan? First, it adds some much needed offense to our lineup. Bradley, Upton, and Pena are welcome additions. Sanchez, Schierholz, Panda, and Uribe are good or great bats we already have. Put that group together and, ladies and gentlemen, I present you a playoff team.

Second, our defense remains strong. Schierholtz has a great arm, and I really like him in right field. Upton is known for his speed and strength in center field. We would not need to worry about him there. Bradley is not the best defensive player, but I will take him out there in left field. Pena will play some good defense at first, Sanchez is an excellent second baseman, Uribe has been better at short than Renteria has all year, and Panda doesn't need any justifications. Some say Posey is not ready for the majors yet, and there is some indication that he might spend some time down in the minors next year. I really hope this is not the case. Sabean should bring him up. If he doesn't, Schneider can hold the fort down. At the very least, they could share the catcher's role for a while, until Posey is ready to take it on full-time.

Third, the pitching remains solid, if not better than it was last year. As I noted in older posts, I am a huge Brad Penny fan. I am very happy to have him on the team, and I hope we sign him again. Lincecum, Cain, and Zito are all great pitchers, and three of them are the core of our franchise right now. I liked watching Harden pitch when he played for the A's. I would love to have him on the Giants. His ERA is not phenomenal, although we are spoiled in San Francisco. He would be great in the number five spot.

Now, what is lacking? I really want Norichika Aoki to play for us. Really, really bad. The Giants need an offensive, every day superstar again. All franchises need their face. Right now we have Tim Lincecum, and he is great. Every Giants fan loves Tim Lincecum (yours truly is no exception). However, he is not an every-day player. With a city known for its Asian-American community, signing a big name player from the Asian market would be a very smart move. I am sure he would bring people to the stadium.
Aside from a marketing standpoint, Aoki is just a wonderful baseball player. He is great with the bat and quick around the base pads. Bring Aoki t
o SF! If he could fit into our plans somehow, I implore Brian Sabean to pick up this wonderful player!

Good Video

This great video sums up a good season for the Giants.

Give it a watch.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Outlandish Acquisitions

The Giants' season is over. The race ended after the Giants failed to execute in a do-or-die series against the Chicago cubs. The club ended the year on a high note, sweeping Arizona and taking the final series of the year from the Padres.

Now begins the long winter and off-season.

The club has some questions it needs to answer. What is going to become of Bengie Molina and Randy Winn? Both veterans are up for free agency this year. I, personally, would like to see them both go. Winn has had some great years with the Giants, but his lack of power and his pathetic batting average this year has made me want to part ways. I am not sure how I feel about Benjie Molina. What I really want to see is Buster Posey playing, however many people around the Giants community believe he needs another year down in the minors. I am a little skeptical about that: we brought up Pablo very quickly. Lincecum as well. At the most, I would suggest playing him in the minors until the All-star break.

That brings me to Randy Johnson. I really enjoyed having this great baseball player on my team. The fact that he got his 300th win as a Giant is very special and I am glad he shared that achievement with us and made it part of Giants history. That said, the man got hurt and basically missed half the season. At his age it is doubtful he can return to playing at the level he did before the injury. I suggest cutting ties with him. Where would that leave our rotation?

Well, I would suggest that the Giants resign Brad Penny. This guy is a thug. I love his in-your-face attitude. We need a lot of that in our club. I cannot begin to gripe about how much I hated seeing the Giants completely collapse once they ran into some trouble. Come-from-behind victories were few and far between for the 2009 Giants. With a guy like Brad Penny riling up the club, perhaps we would see more fight in them. I would like to send Johnson to another team while, resigning Brad Penny. If we kept Bumgarner up we could have a rotation like:


This would also give us flexibility to trade Sanchez to another team, perhaps as a package with some minor league prospects, or with Aaron Roward or Edgar Renteria, for a better bat. There are a couple possibilities for offensive production that come to mind, and that I think might be some good choices for the Giants.

Milton Bradley
Bradley might seem like a strange choice. I like to call him the Terrell Owens of baseball. The guy has been in numerous scandals throughout his career. He made inflammatory remarks about his current team, the Cubs, calling the fans racist and questioning why they have not won the World Series in over 100 years. He did not have a great 2009 season with the Cubs. He had a less than impressive .257 batting average and only 12 homeruns. However, looking at his 2008 year with Texas, he puts up very impressive numbers: .321 avg; 22 HR; .436 OBP; .563 SLG.

I do not know why Bradley's numbers dipped this year. It might have a lot to do with the fact that he is a drama queen: he was unhappy in Chicago and the way he play reflected that. Or perhaps he was unhappy in Chicago because his numbers are declining. It is difficult to tell what is causing what. There is also talk that the Cubs' GM would like to swap Bradley's contract for another bad one, so that he can rid his club of Bradley. The Giants could jump on that and offer up Rowand for Bradley. If that were the case, I would be all for it. I cannot stand Aaron Rowand that much.

In the end I am iffy on Bradley. I do not want a temper-mental drama-queen on the team who will risk ruining the great chemistry we have built in San Francsico. We also have a long and proud tradition in SF of acquiring 30-something players who have declining past their prime, yet still pay them the big-bucks (See Edgar Renteria). On the other hand, we might get lucky and have a great player who wants to be a winner.

Norichika Aoki
Aoki is a Japanese star with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, who has expressed an interest in playing in Major League Baseball. Aoki has a combined OBI of over .400 in five seasons with the Swallows. He also is the proud owner of a career .332 avg and a three-time golden glove winner. There is no doubt: Aoki can field and he can hit.

The problem? He is Japanese. Players like Aoki, who are good enough to make the jump across the pond, usually come at a high-price, especially if they are the real deal. The other concern is that the good numbers posted by Aoki in Japan's league is not necessarily an indicator of how well he will play in the United States. It would be thoroughly embarrassing if the Giants shelled out good money for Aoki and he ended up a dude. However, if he became the next Ichiro, the Giants could be playing in the post-season next year.

I also think signing a big-name Japanese player could be a great marketing scheme. If the Giants signed him to a big multi-year contract, and the guy produced, he would become a fan favorite quickly, especially in a very diverse city like San Francisco, which also has a very large and proud Asian-American community. A Japanese star would put some buts in seats, no doubt.

Aoki is describe as a contact-hitter, which is exactly what we need on the Giants and at ATT park. ATT is known for suppressing homeruns, so I don't necessarily want the Giants to get another Bonds. I want the Giants to have a contact hitter that can place the ball in our deadly triples-alley. I have always yearned for a batter with Ichiro Suzuki's finesse, to place the ball in that gap. With Aoki as out lead-off man we might be seeine a fair amount of lead-off doubles and triples.

Defensively, Aoki is a great outfielder. He plays centerfield, which would be great for the Giants, since I would love to see Aaron Rowand off our team. If Rowand stays (because we cannot trade him away), then we could pluck Aoki in left or right field. All in all, I would love to see this guy in a Giants uniform.

Prince Fielder
This man needs no introduction. The Prince won the homerun derby in 2009, batted .299 in the same year, had 46 HRs, and owns a .602 SLG. The problem with Fielder is that he is so damn good, and proven to be a reliable player. Fielder will come a huge cost. I imagine the Brewers would want nothing less than a pitcher like Matt Cain plus something more for Fielder. Few Giants fans would be willing to give up Cain for anyone. In my opinion, Lincecum and Cain are simply untouchable. They are the cornerstone to the franchise, and if you trade them away you are ruining this team's near future. For the price, I think the Prince can go elsewhere.

BJ Upton

What is so good about Upton? First off, Upton is a young guy. He would fit in well with the Giants' youth-movement. Because he is young and promising, I would not be opposed to signing him for a decent contract for three or four years. Upton has a career batting avg of .288 and a .410 SLG. Upton is also able to make contact with the ball when he should: 82.3% Z-Contact%. Upton also has post-season experience, and was part of Tampa Bay squad that made it to the 2008 World Series. Such experience would prove to be valuable to a squad of young guys making a playoff run.

So, what would we need to do to get Upton? I think the Giants could offer a package to Tampa Bay for Upton. If we sign Penny and bring up Bumgarner we could off Lewis, Sanchez, and Ishikawa to Tampa Bay. Sanchez will be a great pitcher soon, and perhaps his break-out year will be the next one. Tampa Ba
y may want to take advantage of that, and Lewis and Ishikawa, while not great, are decent players to cushion the Sanchez deal.