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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Finally, 715!

It had been almost 2 weeks since Barry Bonds' last home run, but Barry has finally gotten to 715. I was not too surprised at the fact that only San Francisco Giants' fan's where happy to see it, but I was surprised on how relatively small of a celebration there was for him. Of course the packed house at AT&T Park forced him to do a few curtain calls, there wasn't any congratulations from anybody else. The Giants player's all stayed in the dugout which was pretty surprising to me. Only Todd Greene exited the dugout to congratulate Bonds'. It was kinda like "oh, just another Bonds' home run," rather than "Wow, we just witnessed history." I know Barry has been under heavy scrutiny this season and a whole lot of people want his records erased or marked with an astrisk, but he still has hit 715 home runs and still had to do something right other than rub illegal creams or shoot up steroids. In my mind he has still been the best player over the last 2 decades, but I know in a lot of minds he's tainted. I posed a poll over the last 2 weeks on what reaction Barry would get when he hit 715, and surprisingly 80% of the voters said they would cheer for him. Most of the voters could have been Giants fans but they where spread out all over the nation. I am still asking myself, what does this mean to baseball, and where do we go from here? The most storied record in all of sports is being approached by a man that most of America wants to retire and go live under a rock. Barry will be gone sooner rather than later, we should try and enjoy what the guy has done. I wouldn't cheer him because I think his 73 home runs where legit, but I would cheer him for all the 40-40's, gold gloves, all-star appearances, and because he was the man behind the building of AT&T Park. All of which was done far before any alleged convictions of steroids.

Back to the the Giants, who got beat 2 out of 3 by the lowly Florida Marlins. Barry Bonds took the series off and the Giants' offense really showed how much they need him in there, even if he is not quite his old self. On the bright side, Jason Schmidt had his seventh start in a row in which he gave up 2 or less runs, not to mention he struck out 10 Marlins on route to the win. Schmidt looks like he may be the Giants' lone representative at this years all-star game. Matt Morris however, has continued to struggle. He did not pitch that bad Monday night in Florida, and got no help from the offense, but his numbers don't really lie. 3-6 with a mid 5 era is far from what the Giants where expecting when they gave him that lucrative 3 year deal this winter. Morris isn't too old, and he still looks like he has decent enough stuff to win, but he just isn't getting the job done. He looks a little shell shocked to be out of St. Louis, but I think he will eventually adjust, get his era down a point and get back to .500. The 15-17 win season doesn't look like it's in the cards for Morris this season as I was expecting, but he still needs to turn it around and help this team in the second half or else it will be very tough for the Giants to make a playoff run.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Cards' Exploit Giants' Biggest Weakness

Thanks to another bad outing by Matt Morris and another explosion by the bullpen, the Giants lost the series to the Cardinals after dominating them in game one. Both Noah Lowry and Matt Morris got hit pretty good, but I'm especially worried about Morris. He's getting paid 8 million dollars a year and outside of his first 2 starts and a game in Houston, he has looked downright horrible. I know I'm not paying the 8 million, but that money could have been spent better elsewhere. Like in the bullpen. The Giants counted so heavily on Tim Worrell and Steve Kline to return to their pre-2005 forms. Kline has been ok, but Worrell has been the worst pitcher in the pen and no matter how much Mike Krukow wants to sugar coat it, a 6.91 era is not "throwing the ball well." I am also curious to see how long they let Scott Munter and his flattened out sinker stick around before it's back to Fresno. The only pitchers I have somewhat confidence in out of the bully right now are Steve Kline (sometimes), and Armondo Benitez with a 2 or more run lead. All in all, the starting pitching has been decent enough to have the Giants in first place in this subpar division. Jamey Wright's success has somewhat evened out Matt Morris' struggles, Matt Cain has been inconsistant, Noah Lowry has been hurt and Jason Schmidt is finally starting to look like his pre-2005 self. The only problem with the starting pitching is that they have yet to get 4 or 5 guys throwing well at the same time, which makes it even tougher on a weak bullpen. If the Giants had even an average bullpen, they would have another 3-5 wins at least. It's still to early to really tell who will be available on the trading front, but I am all for some "in-house" moves and I am ready to see some of the guys at Fresno and in Connecticut come up and give it a shot, they can't be worse than Worrell and Munter have been.

The Giants start a series with the Rockies this weekend who have already taken a series from the Giants this season at Coors Field. The topic of that series was the beanball war that started with Jose Mesa beaning Omar Vizquel. It is going to be very, very interesting to see what happens if Vizquel squares up against Mesa again this weekend. The whole baseball world now knows of the beef between these two so there will be some eyes on this series.I don't think it will happen because I'd bet Mesa would see a 15 game suspension and a huge fine, but he's said he will hit Vizquel everytime he faces him and he has done so ever since. If Vizquel faces Mesa and Mesa hits Vizquel again, I highly doubt Vizquel will drop the bat and mosey on down to first base like he did last month. I hope we will actually see a reaction out of him this time if it comes to that point. If there is ever a moment in baseball to charge the mound, that would be it, and it would be a pay-per-view event if that where to happen. There has been so much bad blood boiling between those two that they are bound to explode sooner or later if they keep crossing paths. Things could get interesting this weekend out at SBC. Ohh yeah, did I mention Barry is still sitting on 714?
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bonds hits 714, and gets Cheered?

Barry Bonds finally did it after going 2 weeks without a jack, he hit a bomb to right-center field of left Brad Halsley for his 714th home run. Unfortunetly, I was watching my little league team get the crap beat out of them during the game. I did watch a lot of replays though, and what amazed me was the reaction by the fans in Oakland. I know 30-40% of the fans at this game where Giants' fans, but the cheers still heavily outweighed the boos. I knew there where going to be some mixed emotions, but I honestly thought 70% of the stadium was cheering. Again I wasn't there, and didn't even see it live, but it sounded loud. What was more important in the game however, was that the Giants won and Ray Durham is starting to hit the ball. Pedro Feliz has gotten going and if Durham can join him and get his average up around .290, then the Giants should be able to shoulder the loss of Alou a little better. Jason Schmidt threw another gem as well and he is really starting to look good. Schmidt is finally looking like the ace of this staff again. Cain gets the nod on Sunday and he needs to come through for his own security. Brad Hennessey is throwing too well to be demoted and he may take Cain's spot if Cain has another poor outing.

It said on the Giants' homepage that Lance Niekro may be placed on the 15-day DL. That would mean a lot more time for Mark Sweeney and that is not such a bad thing. I think with consistant playing time, Sweeney would be more productive at the plate then Niekro, especially at this time. The only thing is, the Giants are going to lose out on defense a little with Niekro out of there. I have seen Sweeney boot some pretty routine balls this season and he is nowhere near the scooper that Niekro is. I am wondering who will take Niekro's spot? I guess Kevin Frandsen, but I don't see the point unless he can maybe play 3rd against lefties and Feliz can play 1st. I'd rather have Frandsen get 4 at-bats a night in Fresno then 4 ab's a week in San Francisco. I also don't think it should be Travis Ishikawa again either, he's hitting .227 in AA right now. Maybe pull up Adam Shabala and give either him or Dan Ortmier the first base glove. Just a thought. We'll see how Sabean plays it, anyone but Ishikawa.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

1B Offense Obsolete.

With Bonds not quite Bonds at the moment and Moises Alou out for at least another 6 weeks, the Giants need now more than ever to start seeing some offense out of the corner infield positions. Pedro Feliz is really starting to heat up. He hit a huge grand slam in Houston yesterday and he has 7 RBI's over the last 2 games. Moises went out at the worst time because he was really hitting the ball well and looked like he could have been on his way to the all-star game. Speaking of the All-Star game, I have no idea why they start the voting at the end of April. I think they should wait until at least June before they start releasing the ballots at the ballparks and online. It's tough to tell if a player is worthy of an all-star appearance if he's only had 100 at bats or only made 4 starts. It looks like with Alou out, Randy Winn would be the next most likely candidate and he's only hitting .290 with 4 hr's, 15 RBI and a whopping 2 stolen bases. It's obvious the Giants haven't had consistant offensive contribution from 2nd base due to Ray Durham's injuries, but first base is really starting to look like a black hole for the Giants. Lance Niekro at .240 and only 2 hr's and 18 RBI mid-way through May far from impressive. Mark Sweeney is providing a little more pop over there, but he's only hitting .230. I don't mind giving Niekro another few weeks to get comftorble, but if June rolls around and he's still below .250 with limited run production, it's time for more Sweeney. Sabean may need to be looking despratly at improving the Giants at first base. One name to keep an eye on is Nationals' first baseman, Nick Johnson. Johnson is a bay area native, and would remind Giants fans a little of Will Clark. Not sure what the Nationals would want in exchange for Johnson, but it would likely cost more than Merkin Valdez and Kevin Frandsen.

Matt Cain has finely been demoted to the bullpen and I think that is a good move on Felipe's behalf. Take some pressure off the youngster, get him in a few games that don't matter to much to get him back on track. Not to mention, the man taking his spot, Brad Hennessey, is throwing the hell out of the ball at 3-1 with an .era below 3. The only problem with Hennessey is that he has walked more batters than he's struck out. If he can minimize the amount of walks, he's going to make it tough for the Giants to determine what to do with Matt Cain. Jamey Wright turned in another solid performance Tuesday in Houston, and now leads the Giants with 4 wins. What a pick up he has been, and remember, he signed a minor league deal.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Bullpen Shuffle

Brian Sabean is starting to make some moves to shore up the worst bullpen in the league. Jeff Fassero has been released, and it looks like it's only a matter of time before Munter and Accardo are sent down. Brian Wilson, who had an impressive performance in Colorodo in his major league debut, is scheduled to come of the DL any day now, and it looks like it will be Accardo who is the odd man out. The Giants dropped Fassero to make room for Noah Lowry who came off the DL and pitched a beauty on Monday night vs. the Astros. Lowry essentially made his '06 debut and was very impressive. The Giants really need Lowry to be that consistant, number 2 type pitcher. They haven't gotten what they've expected out of Matt Cain yet and Matt Morris started out on fire, but has cooled over his last few starts. The same can be said about Jamie Wright, although he has been the Giants most consistant starter so far. As I said last post, Lowry will give this team a shot in the arm and it won't just help out the Giants starting pitching. Currently, Jason Schmidt is dominating the Cubbies and it looks like he should win his 2nd start in a row. Again, Schmidt is doing it with control as he again has no walks through seven innings.

I am glad Sabean has recognized the bullpen deficiencies and has started to act upon it. I have no problem giving youngsters a shot at this point in the season. Brian Wilson looks solid, but another guy who the Giants have waiting in the wings is left-hander Jonathen Sanchez. Sanchez is 2-1 with a 1.51 era in 8 appearances for AA Connecticut, and with Steve Kline the only lefty in the pen, the Giants may come calling to Sanchez sooner than later. Sabean seems like he isn't fooling around this year and that is evident by the Fassero release. There is nobody in the Giants organazation who could say a bad thing about Fassero, but he flat out wasn't getting the job done. If the bullpen woes continue, the Giants must go out of the organzation for help, and at this point in the season, teams aren't quite ready to deal important arms.

Barry Bonds is still stuck on 713, and came very close to 714 before being robbed by Juan Pierre. Whether your a Bonds fan or not, the man is about to do something special and he should be recognized for it. As you know from reading my posts, I steer clear from all this steriod speculation, but I do have this to say before he passes Ruth. If your going to go after Barry, go after McGuire and Sosa, and investigate every player who played between 1990 and 2004. Even if Barry was dirty the whole time, which hasn't been proved, there is a more than adequate chance, the majority of his opponents where doing the same. I know Barry is going after the greatest record in all of sports, and he is not liked in the media, but unless Barry has affected you directly, sit back and enjoy what he's doing, because we probably won't ever see anything like him again, good or bad.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Schmidt Back On Track?

One of the brightest spots of this young season came Wednesday when Jason Schmidt looked like an ace for the first time in over a year. Schmidt shut out the Brewers and he did it without walking anybody. Part of the reason why the Giants have been inconsistant over the past season, is that Schmidt has been counted on being an ace and has pitched like a number 4. If Jason Schmidt can return to that 2002-2004 phase, the Giants should start seperating themselves from the rest of the pack in the West. His last two starts are really making me think that he has finally made the adjustment. He doesn't have the 97 mph fastball anymore, but he can still hit 94 pretty consistantly and that changeup is still as nasty as it was 2 years ago. Schmidt's strikeouts are also reflecting in his improved control. He has 16 k's over his last 2 starts, while he had just 17 in his previous 4 starts combined. Noah Lowry is reportedly on his way back and may start a game as early as May 11th and should give the Giants staff as a whole a shot in the arm. Hennessey hasn't been too bad in Lowry's absence but started getting hit a little on thursday in Millwaukee.

Kevin Frandsen has gotten his feet wet in the bigs due to Ray Durham's injury and he has looked right at home. Frandsen will likely be sent back down to Fresno when Durham returns, but the dude looks like he could be the Giants' best fielding prospect since Matt Williams. The Giants' people have compared Frandsen to a young Robbie Thompson. Thompson was one of the most hard-nosed, gritty baseball player I've ever seen and if Frandsen has that quality to go along with that swing of his, he should be something. Don't know if Frandsen will ever be a superstar, but so far he has shown that in time, he could easily be a .300 hitter with some gap power and a solid glove. I hope he makes it a very tough decision for the Giants when Durham comes back.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________