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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Vizquel An All-Star?

Here we are, entering July, and the Giants don't really have a clear cut, must pick all-star. Jason Schmidt has had a very good year so far, and was on his way to maybe earning the starting bid for the NL, but his 6 wins may hurt him. Barry Bonds and Omar Vizquel are the only Giant position players who are in the running for the trip to Pittsburgh. Bonds definetly is the least deserving out of the 3 based on performances up to this point, but there still is an outside chance that he will make it back to his former city for the all-star game as he is the teams' leading vote getter. One guy who has been metioned, but not quite enough, has been Omar Vizquel. Jose Reyes has had a great season, and deserves to start the game at short, but Vizquel has had as good of season as any other NL shortstop, not to mention he has broughten gold glove defense again. Vizquel has been the Giants' most steady player throughout the first half as his average has yet to dip below .300 since the first pitch of the season. Add that to a .390 on base percentage and 8 stolen bags, and I'd say he has done more than meet expectations thus far. He did it again Thursday afternoon with a clutch 2-out rbi single to drive in the go ahead run in the 8th inning vs. the Rangers. He also made some huge plays on defense that where big in keeping the Rangers off the bases and Schmidt out of trouble as he turned in another solid performance.

Moises Alou is going to the DL after all. After a couple weeks of rest, Alou was set to re-enter the line-up this week, but he was scratched and will need another 5 days off before he is eligable to return. With Ray Durham starting to make himself a little more usefull lately, the Giants' may actually be able to field a respectable offense. Durham's still hitting .240, but that looks a lot better when you consider he was hitting .180 as late as the middle of May. He is really swinging it well from the right side especially. Durham's hitting .369 right handed, and .204 left-handed this season and there has been some talk in San Francisco and even with Ray Durham himself about the possibility of Durham only batting right handed from here on out. I think Ray should make ithe change. He's 34 years old, and I doubt his swing from the left side will ever be what it used to be. This is the 3rd year in a row in which he hasn't hit that well from the left side and he has steadily declined each year in that aspect. He needs to make a change or else this will be the last season he will ever serve as a full time second basemen, anywhere.
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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Benetiz Blows Another One!

Armondo Benitez is looking less and less effective as the season goes on. He blew another save Friday night in San Francisco vs. the A's, and it was almost like you could feel it happening before it did. It's practically a given that if Benitez allows a runner to reach first base, chances are is that he's scoring. I thought Robb Nen was bad at holding runners on untill I've seen what Benitez has done this season. The guy rarely even checks on runner's at first base, and he's so slow out of the stretch, that it would make it difficult for any catcher to even get off a throw to second base. It's one thing if the pitcher is throwing 96 mph and strikes out 2 guys an inning, but Benitez isn't that type of pitcher any longer. He needs to be more compact out of the stretch and worry about runners on base a little more than he does. If you look at his numbers for the season, they still don't jump out at you as being bad, but he has allowed a bunch of inherited runners to score which doesn't count against his era, and he has also blown 4 out of 11 save chances. Benitez's contract is now halfway done, and he has contributed absolutly nothing to the San Francisco Giants. I was thinking the Giants' biggest, most pressing need was more offense, especially at first base. However, the way this bullpen has failed so miserably as of late, It may be wise to beef up the pen before they concentrated on anything else.

Moises Alou may be DL'd after all. He has been out since last Sunday with a bum back, and apparantly aggravated it by picking up a suitcase. Moises Alou's bat has been missed drastically by the Giants offense since he's been out. They haven't scored more than 3 runs in a game for over a week, and Steve Finley is starting to play way more than he should. Finley has yet to get on any kind of hot streak this season. His average is still right around .250, which is where it has been all year. If it weren't for the fact that Finley leads the league in triples, I bet a lot more fans would be crying for other options. Finley is 4th on the team in at-bats and he only has one more home run that Omar Vizquel. Definetly not a 3rd place hitter, but he finds himself there with the Giants. Hopefully Alou will be back within a week or two and Giants fans can see what this years squad has to offer. The team is still hovering around .500 and has yet to really show they are a playoff team, but they are only 3 games out of first place. July is going to be huge. Hopefully the Giants are working with a full team so Brian Sabean has a better idea what to do on July 31st.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Cain Dominates Angels

Matt Cain turned in one of the most exciting starts I've ever seen Monday night in San Francisco vs. the Angels. I happened to be at the game and the electricity in the park was very intense towards the last half of the game. Unfortunetly, I had to pull a Dodger fan move and show up in the 3rd inning, and missed all the scoring and offense, but Cain made it all worth the 18 dollar ticket. I mentioned in a post a few weeks back that Cain looked a little wild and maybe needed to go back to Fresno for a few starts, but he showed Monday what he is capable of doing every time he takes the ball. His stuff was solid from the first pitch, up untill pitch number 131. His fastball was still hitting 96-97 mph on the gun in the 8th inning. I'm sure Felipe Alou and Dave Righetti would have had Cain go out there for the ninth if the no-no was still intact, but the kid would have been approaching 150 pitches, something that I doubt he's ever came close to doing. Someting happened in this game that I've never seen before. Cain had a no-hitter into the 8th, yet the Angels had one run on the board. Armondo Benitez had to give everybody a a little scare by letting Mike Napoli get on with a single, but he pulled it out. Once again, the Giants are at .500. I really can't get excited about any kind of winning streak this team gets on, because it always seems that every other week, they're going to be back at .500. This team has an inabillity to string together long winning streaks mostly due to inconsistant pitching. Hopefully Cain feads off this start and takes off from here. He's now above .500 at 6-5, and his era is below 5 as well now at 4.79. Matt Morris has now strung together 4 quality starts in a row, and he goes for his 5th Tuesday vs. The Anaheim Angels of Los Angelos, or whatever you want to call them. This is going to be a big game for Matty Mo' and the Giants. They are trying to get back above .500, and Morris needs to continue proving to Giants fans that he was worth the contract he got. If he turns in another W tonight, I will probably stop cringing everytime he takes the ball.

John Smolz is apparantly considering a trade from the Braves if it's to the right team and the right situation. The Detroit Tigers have been in talks with the Braves and Smoltz would likely approve a trade there, because that's his hometown. I think the Giants should definetly consider making an offer. Smoltz has an option for next year at 8 million dollars, and that is more than a bargain if you ask me. I know Smoltz is pushing 40, and that is the last thing the Giants need, but Jason Schmidt is going to be a free agent after the season, and he is most definetly going to command more than 8 million dollars. Heck, Matt Morris is making 8 million per year. I think Smoltz has at least 1 more solid if not dominant season left in him after this one, so I think it would be well worth the risk. Smoltz is currently 4-5 with a 3.78 era, but he has been victim of a sketchy Braves offense and bullpen. He can probably be had, and I think it would make some sense for the Giants to pursue that route. If there was anyway the Giants could land Smoltz and somehow keep Schmidt after the year, then your talking one helluva a rotation next season. The Braves would likely want far more than the Giants would give up, but we've seen Sabean pull off those kind of deals without losing out on too much (not counting the Nathan-Pierzynski trade). Yes the Giants need offense more than they need another arm right now, but if you beef up the rotation with the likes of a John Smoltz, it compensates for an average offense.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

4 game Losing Streak, Back to .500

It's pretty obvious why the Giants aren't getting it done. Their offense has been obsolete over the last week and it really hasn't been good at all this season. The Giants rank no higher than 10th in the NL, in all major offensive categories. 10th in runs, 13th in home runs, 10th in RBI's, 12th in hits, last in SB's, and 14th in slugging percentage. The Giants' line-up is really starting to show their age. Only Omar Vizquel and Moises Alou are having what they'd consider a decent season, and Alou has missed 1/3 of it already. Barry Bonds is no longer the offensive catalyst that he once was and the Giants offense, which rely's so much on what he does, has suffered substantially because of it. I don't care what a guy has done over his career, or how many times he walks, if a teams clean-up hitter is hitting .240 with limited run production, that team likely doesn't have much of an offense. Unfortunetly, the Giants don't have too many open spot's where they could add a legit offensive contributor. Ray Durham and his .235 average are virtually untradeable which kills my dream of a possible Alfonso Soriano addition. How sweet would he be in the middle of that order with Bonds and Alou? First base seems like the most logical fit. Niether Niekro or Sweeney have had very good years, and Niekro can't stay healthy. The thing is, there just aren't many first baseman out there. One guy who's been mentioned on a few Giants' forum boards and would be an ideal fit would be Sean Casey. He is a guy who could give the Giants' a legit number 3 hitter and definetly solidify the middle of the order big time. I guarantee Casey could be had, but I don't know what the Pirates would want in return. I'm sure the it would cost at least a young starter (Brad Hennessey or Kevin Correia) and Lance Niekro, but I wouldn't trade away too much for a possible 1/2 year rental.

Finally an Alfonzo on the Giants who can actually produce! No, of couse it's not Edgardo, but Elizer Alfonzo has been a pleasant surprise filling in for the banged up Mike Matheny. Alfonzo already has 2 home runs and 5 RBI in 25 at bats, and the timing for both were very good. He hit a game leading home run late in the game in New York a few weeks back, and put the Giants on the board with a jack Tuesday night in Arizona which also brought the Giants within one run of the lead. Alfonzo has been in the minors since '96 and has surely paid his dues. Good to see a young offensive player come up and actually perform in the clutch. Jonathen Sanchez has been more than impressive out of the bullpen as well. I have mentioned his name here before, but that guy is really starting to stick out. It's amazing how calm and collected he and Jeremy Accardo (both 23) are when they are out there in tight situations. The Giants' brightest spot for their future is by far their bullpen.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Finley Practicing at First Base

Steve Finley has been taking a lot of ground balls at first base lately and Felipe Alou says he is starting to feel more and more comfortable with the thought of Finley at first. I have been asking for this since the Finley acquisition and I knew the Giants weren't going to add a legit starting first basemen. Lance Niekro can handle lefties pretty well, but looks overmatched against right-handers' with any kind of hard breaking balls. I would not mind Finley getting a start or two a week at first base, it would get his bat in the lineup along with Barry Bonds and Moises Alou to give the Giants a decent 3-4-5 hitters. Finley is a solid center fielder, and I think he will make the adaptation relatively well. There isn't a better 41 year-old athlete in pro sports.

The Giants' rotation continues to have their roller coaster season, it seems they all can't get on track at the same time. Right now, Jason Schmidt is throwing at Cy Young award pace, but Jamey Wright and Matt Cain have been pretty inconsistent as of late. Noah Lowry had a good start Saturday and fell victim to a hideous offensive performance by the Giants. I think it's pretty safe to say that at this point, the only sure things in the rotation look like Schmidt and Lowry. Wright had done more than expected up untill his last few starts. He's allowed 6 earned runs in 2 of his last 3 starts and his control has been a huge issue. It's not really the high walk totals, but Wright gets himself into too many 2-1, 3-1 counts to hitters where he has to grove one, and thats when he gets beat up. When he's on, he's always ahead of the hitters or getting ground outs early in the count. I think Wright will stay in the rotation for the rest of the year, but I think the Wright we've seen over his last few weeks is more of what we'll see. Not a bad pitcher, but not quite the guy we saw the first month and half of the season. If Cain cannot gain some consistency, and Morris continues his struggles (although his latest start gives me some more hope) the Giants will be saddled with 3 number 5 starters and teams don't win divisions with 3/5 of their rotation are a gamble night in and night out.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Monday, June 05, 2006

Giants Playing Well and Alou Is Back.

The Giants just took 2 of 3 from one of the better teams in the National League, the New York Mets, and beat up on the Marlins in the first game of a 3 game series, 14-2. They are starting to play a lot better baseball and a major reason why has been the performance by Jeremy Accardo. Accardo has allowed only 2 earned runs and 9 hits over his last 10 games, a span of 14 innings. Accardo has silently taken the set-up spot, that was supposed to be Tim Worrell's, and ran with it. Up untill the blow up at Shea, Armondo Benitez hadn't been throwing the ball to bad either. The scary part about Benitez's season is the fact that he has blown 3 of 7 save chances. His era is in the low 2's and he is striking people out at a better rate than last season, but Giants fans are starting to see some of the explosions that Mets' fans got so used to out of Benitez. The thing that really got to me about Benitez's blown save, was the fact that all he did was laugh about it. I don't think I've ever seen a closer give up two solo home runs in an inning to blow a save, and get a kick out of it. Besides the Benitez's breakdown, the bullpen has been performing pretty well of late. Led by Accardo, the Giants' bullpen is also getting solid solid outings from Jonathen Sanchez and Brad Hennessey. Steve Kline also looks like he is starting to settle in and become that left-handed stopper out of the bullpen. If Worrell can get healthy and back on track, the Giants pen will be pretty deep.

Moises Alou is expected to be back in the starting line-up anyday now and it should provide some relief to Giants offense and to Barry Bonds in particular. Barry will likely start to see a few more days off with Moises back in the mix. I'd expect to see Barry start playing 2 games a series more often. Alou has been out since May 6th and his bat has been sorely missed in the middle of the Giants order as they really lack an identity without Alou in there. When Alou is out, there are revolving doors at the 3rd and 5th spots in the order, with Alou back, we know who will be penciled in for at least the 4 and 5 spots. I am hoping we now finally get to see a nice stretch of baseball with Alou and Bonds in the line-up together, something we have yet to see since Alou has worn the orange and black. Before I end the post I wanted to commend Jason Schmidt for earning NL pitcher of the Month for the month of May. He went 4-0 and had a 1.17 era in 6 starts and is not only looking like an ace again, but if he keeps it up, he will again be in the running for the NL Cy Young award. He has really done an exceptional job picking up the slack for Matt Morris.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________