Posted on: May 1, 2011 10:45 am
By Matt Snyder
Through 26 games, the Giants have scored 97 runs, an average of 3.73 per game. Heading into Sunday, only the Pirates, A's, Twins and Padres had crossed the plate fewer than the defending World Series champs in 2011. They've been shutout two of their past four games and things don't look to get any easier now with Pablo Sandoval going down (Panda is out 4-6 weeks ).
Sandoval has easily been the Giants' best hitter this season. He's hitting .313 with a .904 OPS and five home runs, 14 RBI and 11 runs. He's filled the role of a big presence in the middle of the batting order as others have struggled. And now he's joining Andres Torres and Mark DeRosa on the disabled list. In his place, we're going to see an uptick of playing time for Mike Fontenot. The same Fontenot who has been a below average player every time he's ever been given more than spotty playing time.
With Sandoval down, you could actually make the argument the only place on the field the Giants will get above-average offense is behind the plate. Buster Posey is obviously a better hitter than the average backstop, but where else will the Giants get above-average production? Cody Ross in right field was a great story in postseason, but the fact of the matter is he only had a .322 on-base percentage during the regular season and he's never really been much more than an average hitter. Aubrey Huff was awesome in 2010, just like he was in 2008. And 2002-2004. But he was pretty terrible in 2009 and has been thus far in 2011. Maybe Pat Burrell in left field? He's got power and gets on base a decent amount of time, but if he's the big bat in the order, that's a problem.
Basically, the offense has been bad thus far for the Giants and it's going to get a good amount worse in the upcoming weeks. In fact, it's bound to get ugly unless someone steps up and gets really hot (Huff, perhaps?).
The good news is the Giants still have Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain on the bump in addition to those gaudy rings from last season. That should be enough to tide fans over for the short-term.
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Posted on: April 22, 2011 9:33 pm
Edited on: April 22, 2011 9:40 pm
By Evan Brunell
Pablo Sandoval tried and failed to drop weight after the 2010 season, and it cost him his job at third base.
After hitting .268/.333/.409, Sandoval knew he'd have to actually show up in shape this time to keep a hold on the third base job. Beneath all these layers of fat, Sandoval was actually a darn good player. From 2009-09 as a 21- and 22-year-old, he hit .333/.381/.543 in 787 plate appearances, cranking 28 home runs.
Sandoval allowed himself some time to celebrate the Giants' World Series victory then dedicated himself to losing weight and posted progress on Twitter throuhgout the winter. Showing up to spring training slimmed down -- and staying slimmed, which can be difficult to do when baseball kicks into full gear -- Sandoval is off to a hot start, batting a cool .328/.400/.603 with five home runs.
At just 24, Sandoval could be primed to develop into a force in the middle of the order if his recent move from being a doubles-hitter to swatting home runs is for real. While his line-drive percentage is largely unchanged, he's taken a leap forward in flyball percentage at the expense of ground balls, which obviously lends itself to more home runs. Coupled with a more discerning eye, Sandoval seems to be waiting for his particular pitch more and taking advantage of it when it arrives.
The good news is that this change in batted-ball philosophy could be a permanent one. Studies have shown that rates such as plate discipline and line-drive along with groundball ratios stabilize around 40 plate appearances. (Sandoval has 65 to date.) Fly ball ratios take a bit longer to draw data from at 175 PA, but given how the other rates stablize much quicker, we can be confident in concluding that Sandoval's newfound propensity to hit more fly balls is likely to stay. We're approaching the point where small sample size can't be trotted out for peripherals to explain away early-season struggles or production, even if it remains too early to speculate on traditional slash statistics, which need a half-season before information can truly be extropolated.
If the switch-hitter can keep it up, he'll quickly establish himself among the elite young power hitters.
Posted on: April 20, 2011 2:36 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 3:24 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Talk about a bad birthday -- Brandon Belt will celebrate his 22nd birthday today by going to Fresno.
"Yeah, a pretty good birthday present," Belt told reporters, including Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. "I'm not taking it too bad. It's a numbers game now and I didn't exactly play great. It could be the best for everybody to get at-bats and be ready to contribute next time."
Belt struggled since singling in his debut and homering in his second game, hitting .192/.300/.269 overall, with just the one home run in 17 games and 60 plate appearances.
The 2009 fifth-round pick out of Texas established himself as a top prospect in his first professional season in 2010, hitting .352/.455/.620 with 23 home runs and 112 RBI at three levels in the minors. This spring Belt hit .282/.338/.479 with three home runs and 13 RBI in 71 at-bats making the team with the help of Ross' injured right calf.
Now with Ross back, Aubrey Huff will move to first and Ross will move into right field.
Huff was scheduled to get today's game off, but Pablo Sandoval is out with a minor right triceps strain and Huff will play first with Mark DeRosa moving from first to third to make up for Sandoval's absence. Huff was just sitting the day game after a night game, a common move for veteran players.
Posted on: April 3, 2011 11:56 am
Edited on: April 3, 2011 1:24 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
Edgar Martinez isn't in the Hall of Fame, but he has a heck of a case.
Martinez is one of eight players -- along with Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Stan Musical, Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Manny Ramirez and Todd Helton -- to have 300 home runs, 500 doubles, a career .300 batting average, a career on-base percentage better than .400 and a career slugging higher than .500.
The former Mariners designated hitter finished his career with a career 147 OPS+, while hitting .312 in 18 seasons. Martinez made seven All-Star teams and won five Silver Sluggers as a designated hitter. In 2004, Major League Baseball renamed its Outstanding Designated Hitter Award for Martinez.
In short, Martinez was a phenomenal hitter.
And with 2,247 hits, Martinez had led all Mariners in career hits until Saturday night when Ichiro Suzuki broke his mark with two hits in the Mariners' 5-2 victory over the A's.
It took Martinez -- as we noted, one of the best hitters of his generation -- 18 seasons to amass 2,247. Ichiro passed it in the second game of his 11th season.
Sometimes I think it's easy to forget just how good Suzuki is. Maybe because he plays in the late games and the Mariners haven't been good lately, but Suzuki's career is one for the ages.
In each of his first 10 seasons, Suzuki has had at least 200 hits. He's already the Mariners' career leader in stolen bases (386), triples (71) and batting average (.331) and needs 425 at-bats to pass Martinez in that category.
If you add the 1,278 hits Suzuki had in his time in Japan, he has 3,526 career hits and could finish his professional career with more hits than Pete Rose's 4,256 in the big leagues. While not quite the same and not the MLB record, it'd still be an impressive feat, especially with shorter seasons in Japan.
Martinez passed Ken Griffey Jr. as the team's all-time hits leader on April 3, 2001, just days into Suzuki's tenure with the Mariners. The two played together for several years, and Suzuki said Saturday he was humbled by passing Martinez.
"Today I broke his record. When you look at his numbers, that's a fact," Ichiro said through interpreter Antony Suzuki (via MLB.com). "But he is a hero back in Seattle. He is my hero as well. When you look at his existence, he's a lot bigger than I am, being a great human being as well. So that's how I look at it.
"I played with Edgar for years. That's something that is important to me. That's precious. That's a treasure to me. That's what I honor as well."
Royals' FUTURE FLUSH -- After the Royals beat the Angels on Saturday, it was time for the real show -- Kansas City's Double-A and Triple-A teams faced off at Kauffman Stadium to a healthy crowd ready to see baseball's most hyped prospects in person. About half the crowd of 18,022 for the Royals-Angels game stayed to watch the likes of Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer. [Kansas City Star]
NO PLATOON FOR PANDA -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy has assured Pablo Sandoval that he will not be part of a platoon at third base this season. Sandoval sat against lefty Ted Lilly on Saturday, but that was a matchup thing, Bochy told him. [San Jose Mercury News]
WAITING FOR HOLLIDAY -- The Cardinals aren't going to put outfielder Matt Holliday on the disabled list right away, hoping to avoid a trip altogether. Holliday had an appendectomy on Friday and was discharged from the hospital on Saturday. The Cardinals will wait a couple of days to see whether Holliday will be able to come back in time to avoid a DL trip. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
DEBUT -- Zach Britton may have been the Orioles' best starter this spring, but when time came for the final cuts, he still found himself headed to Triple-A Norfolk -- until the Orioles' best rookie of 2010, Brian Matusz, was placed on the DL with a left intercostal muscle strain. Britton, who had a 1.35 ERA in spring, will start today against the Rays. [MLB.com]
MAGGLIO OUT -- Magglio Ordonez isn't playing in today's game against the Yankees because of a sore right ankle. Ordonez was lifted for a defensive replacement in the sixth inning of Saturday's loss. Tigers manager Jim Leyland said it was mostly a precautionary move. [MLB.com]
LONG NAME, LONG LAYOFF -- Nationals lefty Tom Gorzelanny will have 15 days between his final spring training start and his first regular-season start on April 9, but he is unconcerned. [Washington Post]
Padres LOVE THE BUNT -- The Padres new No. 3 hitter, Orlando Hudson, laid down a sacrifice bunt in the fifth inning of Saturday's game against the Cardinals. The Padres have had their No. 3 hitter sacrifice 20 times in the last 20 years. [Ducksnorts]
CLOSE SHAVE -- Rays starter Wade Davis will shave his head -- well, at least the top of it, his beard is staying -- following today's game. The shave is for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation's Cut for a Cure and is hoping to raise $10,000. As of Saturday, he'd raised $8,000 with his vow to go bald. [Tampa Tribune]
DIFFERENT WAY TO THE BIGS -- Former 16th-round draft pick Griffin Benedict has given up his dream of playing in the big leagues, instead accepting the Padres' offer of joining the team as its second bullpen catcher. Benedict is the son of former big-league catcher Bruce Benedict. He hit .229 at low Class A Fort Wayne last season. [San Diego Union-Tribune]
PATCH FEVER -- There's a total of eight memorial patches on MLB uniforms this summer. The Reds, Tigers, Pirates, Indians, Phillies, Dodgers, Cubs and Mariners are all sporting patches honoring people who have passed in the last year. While the Indians have gotten rave reviews of their Bob Feller patch (and for good reason), I'm a really big fan of the Pirates' Chuck Tanner patch as well. [Uniwatch Blog]
AT-BAT MUSIC -- Reds official blogger Jamie Ramsey has a list of all the at-bat music for the Reds this season. [Better Off Red]
WHITE TELLS ALL -- The New York Times has great things to say about Bill White's new book, Upity, about his time in baseball, both as a player and a league official.
BOW TIE -- Nice story from FOXSports.com reporter Ken Rosenthal on why he'll wear a bow tie on all telecasts this season. I thought it looked great, and glad to see the direction he's taken it. Good for Ken and Dhani Jones. [FOXSports.com]
FREE GAMES -- If you have the MLB At-Bat for the iPhone, iPad or Android devices, you'll get MLB.tv for free during April. If you're reading this and have an iPhone, iPad or Android device, you need to spend the $15 for the At-Bat app and this just makes it an even better deal. (You do have to buy separate apps for each device, but it's still totally worth it.) [The Unofficial Apple Weblog]
Tags: AL Central, AL East, AL West, Bill White, Brian Matusz, Brian Wilson, Cubs, David Aardsma, Dodgers, Eric Hosmer, Giants, Griffin Benedict, Ichiro Suzuki, Indians, John Danks, Magglio Ordonez, Mariners, Matt Holliday, Mike Moustakas, Nationals, NL Central, NL East, NL West, Orioles, Orlando Hudson, Pablo Sandoval, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Rays, Reds, Roy Oswalt, Royals, Tigers, Tom Gorzelanny, Wade Davis, White Sox, Zach Britton
Posted on: February 19, 2011 10:39 am
Braves fans may not want to visit Target Field this year just in case they manage to go on the day of Kent Hrbek-Ron Gant bobblehead night.
The Twins confirmed to the Star-Tribune that the bobblehead seen to the right will indeed be given away this year -- at a date to be released in March.
The play, of course, is from Game 2 of the 1991 World Series when the Twins first baseman -- well, either kept the tag on Gant as he came off the base or pulled Gant off the base, the exact wording depends on your allegiance -- leading to 3-2 Twins victory.
I grew up playing first base, so I always identified with Hrbek -- it's all within he rules if you can get away with it. And there's a ton of little things you could do at first base that aren't exactly within the rules. I actually got a job in high school because of my knowledge of playing outside the rules. I was playing first four our team and one of the umpires was keeping an eye on me and noticed what I was doing. After the game, he asked if I was interested in umpiring Little League games in the summer, since I obviously knew the rules enough to know I was breaking them.
I've been wanting to get to Target Field soon, and this may push me to it. Or, you know, at least send me to the electronic Bay.
If you don't remember the play, here it is recreated by Legos:
BELISLE SIGNS: The Rockies signed reliever Matt Belisle to a two-year deal worth $6.125 million plus bonuses, his agency, CAA, tweets .
How far did baseball change in the 90s? I always think about Matt Belisle when I think about the draft and bonuses. When I was on the Reds beat, I remember guys sitting around talking about draft bonuses, and Ken Griffey Jr. was joking that he, the No. 1 overall pick in 1987 received a signing bonus of $160,000.
What was funny, was nobody believed him. To all the younger players, it seemed impossible that the No. 1 overall pick -- and Ken Griffey Jr. no less -- got just a $160,000 signing bonus.
Somebody pointed out Belisle was a second-round pick and I don't remember if Belisle or someone else revealed the Braves gave him $1.75 million in 1998 -- and that had Griffey going for a while. And it had everyone else laughing.
NICE RIDE: One of the best parts of spring training is checking out the rides players bring into the park. Check out Mariners' non-roster pitcher Royce Ring's ride. Not too shabby. (Everett Herald )
HAPPY TEAMMATES: Jason Varitek said he's happy to have Carl Crawford as a teammate, since now he won't have to try to throw him out. (Boston Herald )
Yankees TALE: A good story from Freddy Garcia about throwing a split-finger fastball for the first time during a game. (NorthJersey.com )
HALTED: The 56-game hitting streak of Florida International's Garrett Wittels was stopped Friday in the team's season-opener against Southeastern Louisiana. Wittels, a junior shortstop, was held hitless in four at-bats. The Division I record is 58 games, set in 1987 by Robin Ventura. (MLB.com )
CONCUSSION INFO: FanGraphs.com's Jeff Zimmerman looks at the recent history of concussions in baseball and looks at players' performance before and after the concussions. The small sample of players performed worse after their concussion.
This makes sense, but the bigger problem is concussion are likely under-reported. This has become a huge issue in football, expect to hear more about it in baseball.
THE RESULTS ARE IN: Pablo Sandoval is down 38 pounds since the end of last season. (San Jose Mercury News )
BAD HAIR SEASON: Johnny Damon's new 'do is drawing attention in Tampa -- gotta give it the ol' thumbs down. (St. Petersburg Times )
TRIBUTE: Bill Bergen may be the worst hitter in baseball history. (FanGraphs.com )
WELCOME RETURN : Could the VW Microbus be coming back? I love it. (Road & Track )
TEARFUL GOODBYE?: A ruling in a California court could hurt the future of EA's NCAA series of video games. (CNBC.com )
FEELING OLD: The new bassist for the Smashing Pumpkins is one of the little girls from the Siamese Dream album cover. (Kottke.org )
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
Posted on: January 16, 2011 12:32 pm
Last week we heard reports that Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval was slimming down and looking good. Now the Kung-Fu Panda is posting photos of himself on Twitter.
Here's his new profile picture for his account, @pandoval48 :
And for reference, he's what he looked like in September:
Has he lost 22 pounds, as former Giant Rich Aurillia reported? I'm not going to guess on an exact number pased on one cell phone picture, but he certainly does look less round. We'll see what he looks like when he reports to camp next month and when the season starts, but it looks like a step in the right direction so far.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
Posted on: January 14, 2011 5:16 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2011 7:29 pm
Can Pablo Sandoval eat that entire sundae ? Where does Bruce Bochy find hats that fit? What wacky antics will ensue when Brian Wilson becomes roommates with The Machine ?
We can only hope these are among the questions that are answered in the yet-untitled new reality show about the Giants slated for Showtime. The show, which is already in production, promises to "give viewers a front row seat into the lives of the players, coaches and team personnel as they begin the arduous task of defending their World Series title through the 2011 MLB season," according to a press release.
Showtime is looking to premiere the show around the start of the regular season, with regular episodes in the second half of the season.
"I'm confident that this group of personalities will make for a provocative and groundbreaking television series that will appeal beyond the hardcore baseball fan to all viewers who appreciate great drama," said Showtime exec David Nevins.
It should be worth tuning in for the Wilson segments alone.
UPDATE: MLB jumped the gun a bit by announcing the series on Friday, according to Matt Cain, the Giants' union representative.
"Honestly, they announced it early," Cain told the San Francisco Chronicle. "They weren't supposed to do that and we aren't very happy about it. We're trying to figure out all the small details."
Cain did say he and the rest of the players are supportive of the series, which "will be great publicity for the team and the guys on the team,"
-- David Andriesen
Posted on: January 10, 2011 4:36 pm
So… here we go, the next in what is likely to be a long list of these stories until spring training starts, but according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle , Pablo Sandoval has "slimmed down."
Now, Schulman hasn't seen him, but former Giant Rich Aurilia -- a Phoenix resident -- has and was impressed with what he saw. Sandoval told him he'd lost 17 pounds.
Sandoval is working with former decathlete Dan O'Brien (of the Reebok Dan and Dave campaign for us old folks).
"He said he's just working huard," Aurilia told Schulman. "From his comments he seemed really in tune this year on keeping the weight off as opposed to last season. Sometimes a lack of success is a good tool to get you motivated. Maybe him not playing as much in September or down the stretch, maybe that had something to do with changing his outlook about keeping the weight off."
Sandoval went through a much-ballyhooed "Camp Panda" after the 2009 season, but by the time he showed up in Scottsdale, Ariz., he looked even bigger than he did in his successful rookie season.
While the Giants had a better 2010 season, Sandoval did not, hitting .268/.323/.409 with 13 home runs and played in just one of the team's World Series games. Overall, he hit .176/.263/.235 with two RBI in 19 postseason plate appearances. General manager Brian Sabean said after the season that Sandoval needed to slim down, or he could be sent to Triple-A.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans