Editor's Note: I can't believe I went against Oakland. With a healthy Mulder I think they're a lock. When the A's beat Boston, just replace all references to Boston with Oakland . . . Giants over A's in 6.
I apologize in advance for any/all typos in this post.
With the season complete, and 2 LDS games in the books (Twins 3, Yankees 1; Giants 2, Marlins 0) . . . there's a TON of info on your favorite team out there . . . especially if you're a fan of one of the 8 playoff teams. Let's get right down to it.
The New Giant Thrill is short and sweet with the predictions. And don't forget to stop by often and check out which former Giant is being discussed in the feedback, like Will "The Thrill" himself.
The Yannigan's also got some stuff up, despite a rough school load.
Here are Jayson Stark's key questions in the Giants-Marlins series.
Unsurprising to most, the Marlins plan to pitch around Barry Bonds. Good for Giants fans, bad for the Marlins. Does anyone else remember just about a year ago everyone still thought of Bonds as a Post-Season Choker? Funny how quickly we forget . . . Sosa's cock incident may as well have happened in the minors. Editor's Note: Bonds went 0-1 with 3 walks (2 intentional) a stolen base and 1 run scored.
Tony Gwynn give his breakdown here, giving the Giants a 6-4 edge in arbitratry categories.
And ESPN's "EXPERTS" all put down their playoffs predictions, with the G-men winning it all in 5/18 of the predictions, and making it there in 8/18 of them. So I guess if they make it that far, they're pretty much favored to win.
OH, and the A's are picked a whopping 1/18 to beat the Red Sox in the LDS (in the same prediction, they lose to the Braves in the WS).
Rob Neyer says that the Giants "pivotal player" is anyone who bats behind Superman. Buster Olney mentions the same thing. Editor's Note: Edgardo Alfonso went 2-4 with an RBI and 2 men left on base in Game 1.
Ray Ratto's got a fluff piece about Alou and McKeon being old.
Peter Gammons has a nice puff-piece on Filipe Alou.
Bryan over at Wait 'Til Next Year (quickly becoming one of my favorite daily visits) dogs the Giants-Angels Series and looks at what the Giants will do in the off-season. He even puts the Giants in the Top 4 for the Greg Maddux sweepstakes as well.
"The Stringman" sent me a great article from the Miami Herald that is simply more proof that Barry isn't really retiring, despite what news sources are saying (hey, it sells papers as they say).
I also received a couple of good e-mails from our friend Stephen Shelby (Giants Diary), about the payrolls and offseason possibilities for the Giants and D-Backs, as well as a response from Ben Jacobs (Universal Baseball Blog, Inc.) to my Vegas post. I'll probably use them to throw something together before the week is out.
Father Time my finally have caught up with the Ageless Wonder. Barry Bonds is talking about retiring . . . now.
I first noticed something strange when there was an ESPN INsider story about Bonds retiring. Not being an "INsider", I couldn't read it so I moved on. Now David Pinto has posted a chunk of the story that has me very concerned about Bonds being in the Giants lineup on Opening Day 2004.
Pinto also points out that the story is very Bonds-friendly, and that Bonds is "making the transition from baseball jerk to baseball great", something that I have always expected to happen as his career officially wound down.
If Barry Bonds has to leave baseball (and more specifically the Giants), then this would be as close to an ideal time as possible. I can explain my argument in two words: Vladimir Guerrero.
Taking the $20 million that the Giants owe Barry Bonds next year off the books means that they could bring in Vlad for $10-15 million and not skip a beat (well, almost). If Barry Bonds can be replaced (which realistically he cannot), then the 3 people who could reasonably replace him are Alex Rodriguez (locked into a HUGE deal with Texas), Albert Pujols (who won't be leaving StL any time soon), and Vladimir Guerrero.
A free agent this offseason, Guerrero has a CAREER batting average of .323, and 5 seasons of 30 homers, 100 RBI, 100 runs scored, a .300-plus batting average and an on-base percentage of at least .370. While that's not the .500+ OBA that we've come to expect from Bonds, it's still VERY good. And seeing that he's 27 years old, he'll be a long-term replacement as well.
I've been thinking about writing a post about why the Giants should make a run at Vlad the Impaler this offseason ANYWAY, so that they'd have him AND Bonds for a year or two, and then be able to lessen the blow of Bonds moving on (to the AL or retirement), but if Bonds leaves now there's NO reason that the Giants shouldn't persue Guerrero. With a coach he loves and a city that's not all that intrusive, Guerrero's shy personality would fit in just fine in "an apathetic baseball market" like the Bay Area.
Here's a look at the 2004 starting roster for the G-men with Bonds out and Vlad in...
C Yorvit Torrealba (Santiago probably isn't coming back)
1B ??? (Despite what Neyer says, Snow probably isn't coming back)
2B Ray Durham
SS Rich Aurilia (I think they re-sign him, especially if Bonds retires)
3B Edgardo Alfonso
OF Marquis Grissom
OF Jose Cruz Jr. (good start + "slumping" = Mutual Option)
OF Vladimir Guerrero
That really only leaves a hole at 1B, but we've been looking at that since Will "The Thrill" Clark left. Add in rumors of the Giants trading for Richie Sexon, and that's not too shabby.
Then again, if you can convince the bean counters to take the chance on Vlad EVEN IF Bonds returns . . . the Giants can print out two sets of playoff tickets right now, as they'll be returning next year. Let's look at that roster again with Bonds included (and Aurilia and Cruz out for $$$ reasons)...
C Yorvit Torrealba (not much of a downgrade from Santiago)
1B ??? (with Bonds & Vlad, no way Snow stays at $6.5 million)
2B Ray Durham
SS Neifi Perez (Feliz? Bueller? Anyone?)
3B Edgardo Alfonso
OF Marquis Grissom
OF Barry Bonds (Cruz out to save $$$)
OF Vladimir Guerrero (unthinkable numbers hitting after Superman)
1B could be filled with Galarraga (if he doesn't retire first) and Pedro Feliz, they could pick up a cheap free agent, or (least likely) pick up a 1B in trade.
David Pinto points to a story about Steve Stone's (yes, the WGN/Cubs announcer) bid to buy the Expos and relocate them to Las Vegas.
Pinto agrees that Vegas would be a good place for baseball, but is bothered by the fact that the buyers/cities that are publicly working on Expos deals didn't even know that they had another competitor. I agree, but I'm in no way surprised that MLB has mishandled this . . . again.
What I want to write about, however, is how viable a major league franchise would be in Vegas.
Pinto points out that the Expos would "need more than tourists filling the seats", but there are a LOT of locals in Vegas who would flock to something that wasn't just lights and glitter. Give the hard working people something to do, and fill the wholes in with all the tourists. Not many teams sell out all of their home games, but with the tourism that Vegas attracts, they could easily fill in the local void with the extra masses of people who come in every day. Add in the fact that casinos and hotels (is there a difference in vegas?) would give tickets away to preferred customers (or to anyone they felt like it really), and you're looking at a financially stable MLB franchise.
The biggest thing that has kept professional sports out of Vegas is Gambling. Pinto states that he does "worry about how MLB can possibly keep teams from associating with gamblers if the team is there", but how can they keep teams from associating with gamblers now? Anyone can go to Vegas in their off time, or Atlantic City, or any number of Indian Reservations. I live in Sacramento and I can drive in FIVE directions to get to a casino, and I won't have to drive more than an hour and a half to get to ANY of them, with the closest being no more than 15-20 minutes away. And if I was REALLY lazy, I could just gamble online!
Times have changed, and I think that MLB could do a LOT to help revitalize the bad PR situation that is brought up by people like Peter Gammons on a regular basis. The NFL and NBA have been using the media to their full advantage, while MLB simply tries to rely on the fact that it was labeled America's Pasttime back when it was pretty much the only game in town.
Here's a chance for baseball to staret turning things around, and focusing on the good, instead of dwelling on the bad. We need to spend more time enjoying Barry Bonds' swan song and less time handcuffing great young teams. If the Expos situation is solved soon, then they'll lose their best players and fall back into the bottom where they were before MLB decided to "fix" them.
Got an opinion on this, e-mail me, and I'll post it here.
Rob Neyer's got a piece up on Greg Maddux's streak of consecutive 15-win seasons. In case you hadn't heard, one more win puts Maddux over Cy Young for this arbitrary feat, which is as much of an oddity as it is impressive.
He simplifies the "record" talk with a realistic (and very simplified) explaination of Maddux's place in the history of Major League Baseball.
In baseball's first half-century, Cy Young was the game's most durable and consistent pitcher.
In baseball's second half-century, Warren Spahn was the game's most durable and consistent pitcher.
And in baseball's third half-century, Greg Maddux has been the game's most durable and consistent pitcher.
If Maddux wins one more game this season, he won't magically become the greatest pitcher since Cy Young, nor even the greatest pitcher of his generation. But if you were born after 1965 -- Spahn's last season -- then Greg Maddux is something that you've never seen before.
David Pinto says that Pujols currently has the lead, although a small one, in the race for the NL MVP.
He points to Win Shares and playing time as his primary reasons for Albert's lead. Pujols is leading Bonds by less than 2 Win Shares (or less than a game since each game has 3 shares), and has played 26 more games then Bonds.
There are two ways to interpret this information...
I find this to mean that Bonds has been "more valuable" then Pujols to his team, as evidenced by the fact that Pujols just recently took the lead (Bonds has led for most of the season) but has played in 2 dozen more games.
Here's the flip-side to the same argument (courtesy of David Pinto): "I really believe you have to play to win . . . Bonds is the best hitter in the league, but Pujols is damn close and plays everyday. Bonds can catch up in two weeks, but right now, I'd vote for Albert."
I think the biggest factor down the stretch will be the Triple Crown. If Albert Pujols wins the Triple Crown, he will win the MVP. To me that is a guarentee. There's simply too many voters who cling to the old-baseball "knowledge" of what's important and what isn't. It won't matter if Bonds has more Win Shares, or a better OPS, if Pujols wins the Triple Crown. It may not even matter if the Cardinals aren't in the playoffs . . . in my opinion, that's how weighted the Triple Crown is in the MVP voting. It's a stat (achievement?) that many have said will never be accomplished again, and will be awarded as such.
When looking at the people who vote for these awards, no Sabermetric statistic will hold a candle to the famed "Triple Crown".
I guess Google is turning things around. Too bad many have already made the switch to Movable Type or are currently in the process, but great for those who are just starting out or planned on sticking with Blogger.
Rob Neyer has been talking about amending the ROY Award to include compensation. It's an interesting idea, and one of the better ideas regarding modifications to the ROY that I've heard, but there's always an exception to every rule.
In fact, in his latest mailbag, a reader's question leads him to change his theory (although in fairness it was only a rough idea originally) to include a 3-year cap on minor-league play.
To summarize, to be qualified for the ROY a player must make less than X dollars (to be determined) in his rookie year, OR have played no more than Y years (his example is 3) of professional baseball in the minor leagues.
This would rule out non-native veterans who enter the league as free agents and make a killing (Matsui's getting $7 million this season, and Ichiro got $5.7 million in his rookie campaign), but not the native phenoms that shoot through the minors like it's Spring Training (Mark Prior is the easiest example, and Mark Teixeira is another).
Another change that would balance out the ROY argument (although would make Neyer's idea obsolete before it was implemented) is the idea behind the global draft. One stigma that Japanese players have is that they established themselves as superstars in Japan, and then came to America for the millions that they could get through Free Agency. Drafted players don't have this same bargaining power (at least not to the same extent).
A global draft with established pick salaries (such as the NBA). This would allow the worst teams to pick the best players (the entire concept behind a draft) without money directing the decisions. If a player wanted to come from another country and play in the MLB, give the worst team first shot, and don't allow a bidding war to break out.
There are other implecations as well, such as Oakland's drafting policy for example. They draft players whose market is small but they feel are quality players, and thus convince them to sign for significantly less then they would receive in the early rounds that the A's draft them in. The A's don't have a lot of money, which showed this past year when they left the draft after the 40th Round (they were the first team to leave). With set salary boundries, they would not be able to make the kind of deals that they make, but if there were only a cap, or a low minimum and a cap, then they could go on with business as usual.
The tradeoff for giving more control over new players to the teams is that the endentured servatude would be reduced, possibly even significantly. Currently, teams own the rights to a player for their first 6 years of service (or is it 7?). This starts the day they first make it onto a Major League Roster, and includes arbitration. Teams like the A's can have their Big 3 (or 4) intact for years because of the current setup. The A's also sign their players to long term deals before arbitration, so as not to deal with the possibility of having an arbitration hearing go against them. Regardless, if you globalize the draft and set draft salaries to fit a scale, something's GOT to give, and this is likely it.
It's kind of like the California Recall . . . the candidates are talking about abortion and other standard election topics, when the reason for the recall is the terrible financial status of the state. Get on the right topic!
I was playing with the Sortable Stats over at ESPN.com, and had some interesting finds.
First, let's look at the MVP race in the NL (all stats are MLB leaders, to emphasize how great Bonds and Pujols have played). The first number listed is MLB RANK. Enjoy!
Batting Average (AVG)
One of the two biggest pro-Pujols arguements (along with RBI), Pujols leads Bonds by a whopping .018 percentage points in batting average.
Onbase Percentage (OBP)
For everyone who's read Moneyball, OBP is believed to be the #1 stat in baseball. Bonds dominates COMPLETELY. He gets on base in more than half of his plate appearances. More than HALF!!!!!
Slugging Percentage (SLG)
And for those of you who aren't Moneyball believers, even his SLG is 88 points higher than Pujols.
Onbase Plus Slugging (OPS)
181 points higher . . . wow. The difference would be even greater if you weighted OBP.
Home Runs (HR)
Three HRs is not a big difference, so this could easily change before the season is over . . . especially whith Bonds' health a question down the stretch. What do you think the Giants will worry more about, Home Field advantage in the NL, or a healthy Barry Bonds throughout the playoffs? I thought so.
Runs Batted In (RBI)
Isn't it funny how RBI seems to be the biggest argument for Pujols over Bonds, especially when Preston Wilson leads the Majors in RBI?
Over TWICE the walks. Wow.
Strike Outs (SO)
Much closer than the rankings on this one.
Walk to Strikeout Ratio (B/KK)
With Albert's walk totals, I thought this would be a bigger gap, but the low strikeouts help. Even so, Bonds walks 4 more times for each 3 strikeouts than Pujols (for every 3 strikeouts - Bonds: 7 walks, Pujols: 3 walks). That's a big gap.
Editor's Note: If anyone knows why my tables leave so much lead-in white space, and more importantly how to fix it, please let me know.
Update: Many thanks to Christian Ruzich (a.k.a. The Cub Reporter) for filling me in on my (or more accurately Blogger's) table problem.11:50 AM
The San Francisco Giants continue their wire-to-wire lead in the NL West, now leading by 12 games and a magic number of 13.
The G-men have continued to win, even without Superman. The other day I watched the Giants put a starting lineup on the field that looked more like a last place team than a division leader.
Eric Young, 2B
Neifi Perez, SS
Marquis Grissom, CF
Jeffrey Hammonds, LF
Edgardo Alfonzo, 3B
Benito Santiago, C
Andres Galarraga, 1B
Jose Cruz, RF
Not the team you would expect to have a 12 & 14.5 game lead over the Dodgers and Diamondbacks respectively, but they keep winning.
Is there still a debate on the NL MVP (or even manager of the year)? Bonds carries a team that otherwise wouldn't be contending, while Pujols hits in possibly the best 3-4-5 combo in the league (with Edmonds and Rolen). Even Edmonds is getting MVP mentions.
If you take out Pujols, Edmonds is still there. Take out Edmonds, there's Pujols. Rolen will be there supporting either/both. Who's supporting Bonds? Benito Santiago has the most ABs in the 5-hole (178 PA), but oddly also has the most ABs in the 6-spot as well (148 PA). More telling is how well Santiago has performed in the 5th (.568 OPS) vs. the 6th (.837 OPS) spot in the lineup. That's not a lot of protection.
And speaking of awards, Eric Gagne broke the record for consecutive meaningless statistics (also proving that the All-Star game still doesn't really count for anything), while the Dodgers try to make his record significant by making their push for the NL Wild Card. If the Dodgers make the playoffs, Gagne will get the NL Cy Young (there's just too much hype). And that's a shame too, because Mark Prior has pitched excellently, and Jason Schmidt is the ace of a wire-to-wire legitimate winner (David Pinto has some great info on the best pitchers down the stretch). It may all come down to who's in and who's out. There's no better time then ever to root against the Dodgers.
And speaking of the A's, it looks like Elephants in Oakland has changed their site . . . and should be making more changes as well. I know I'm excited (before, the links would disappear if the mouse was over them). Those guys know their team better than most. Check them out.
Don't call it a comeback, I've been here for . . . wait, I haven't been here in weeks.
I'm currently in the process of learning php, as well as cascading style sheets, in the hopes of creating a new/fresh design for The Southpaw. These changes will likely be implemented simultaneously with my conversion to Moveable Type, and possibly even a domain name.
Big things coming, but in the meantime I'm going to try to post MUCH more frequently then I have been.
david aardsma, rhp roger whitaker, rhp jeffery jennings, c nathan schierholtz, 3b brian buscher, 3b brooks mcniven, rhp mike wagner, lf william sadler, rhp patrick misch, lhp timothy hutting, ss kellen ludwig, rhp jesse schmidt, of
jeffery peterson, rhp ryan sadowski, rhp nick conte, c sean martin, rhp j thurmond, rhp michael mooney, of marcus sanders, ss patrick dobson, of jonathan coutlangus, cf raul rodriguez, c
sean watson, rhp nathan fogle, rhp michael kunes, lhp brian wilson, rhp nolan mulligan, rhp douglas coon, lhp omar aguilar, rhp roberto gonzalez, cf daniel desouza, cf derek barrow, 3b
eduardo baeza, rhp oscar gonzalez, cf travis nesmith, lhp cody mcallister, rhp tyson brummett, rhp timothy alvarez, lhp shannon wirth, rhp jordan hafer, 1b michael price, c dylan gonzalez, rhp
michael johnston, lhp luis martinez, c mike bell, c john odom, rhp james braden, rhp brandon federici, lhp thomas correa, ss matthew berezay, of douglas fister, rhp james popp, rhp