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Showing posts from 2006

Giants Land Zito, Re-shape Offseason

The Giants were definetely persistant in their pursuit of the top starting pitcher on the market, and there persistance paid off. The Giants signed Barry Zito to a 7 year, 126 million dollar deal on Thursday in a move that officialy has turned around what had been an uneventful offseason on the Giants front. Zito is getting big money, but I think he will be worth it. He is only 28 years old, and has never missed a start in his career. As I've said many times here, you don't worry as much about giving that type of pitcher a long term deal as you would with a power pitcher such as Schmidt. Zito has a good chance to be just as good or better than he is now 7 years down the line. This move gives the Giants a potential roation of: Zito, Matt Cain, Noah Lowry, Matt Morris, Jonathon Sanchez. A rotation which consists of 1 pitcher over the age of 28. Whether or not the rotation alone can carry this team into the playoffs remains to be seel, as they still have a terrible bullpen that ha

Sabean Has Yet to Address The Root of the Teams' Problem: The Bullpen

After the 2004 season, when the Giants had Matt Herges and Dustin Hermanson closing out games, it was apparant that the Giants needed a bullpen makeover. Sabean went out and signed Armondo Benitez after that season, and hasn't touched the bullpen since. Benitez has obviously been a bust, and the Giants bullpen gradually got worse in '05-'06. Here we are, entering the final month and a half of the offseason, and once again, the Giants bullpen has been untouched. The only move they've made so far has been resigning Steve Kline while most late relief options have already been plucked off the market. With Keith Foulke set to sign with the Cleveland Indians, it leaves nobody on the free agent market with succesful closing experience. It isn't just a coincedence that the Giants have missed the playoffs the last 3 seasons while their bullpen has ranked near the bottom of the league. It's amazing that most Giants' fans can recognize this, and Sabean hasn't. He&#

Giants Add Another Ex-Padre

The Giants have added a 4th (and counting) former Padre to their 2007 roster signing Ryan Klesko on Tuesday. The Giants had been dead quiet since announcing their re-signing of Barry Bonds about two weeks ago. Klesko now joins Dave Roberts, Rich Aurilia and Bruce Bochy as former Padre's now employed by the Giants and they may add another one. The Giants are still on the short list of potential suitors for David Wells who will likely choose between the Padres or Giants before the new year. I don't have much of a problem with the Klesko deal itself, a one year, 1.75 million dollar contract plus incentives, but I think the Giants could have used that money plus the money they gave Pedro Feliz and gotten a legit 1st basemen in Aubrey Huff. Entering the off-season, I had Huff high on the free-agency board, and I can't believe he is still hanging around. Huff, a guy who is entering his prime and a player who could make a difference for the Giants, is just sitting there waiting to

Giants In On The Zito Sweepstakes

Once the Giants unofficially announced that they have agreed to a new deal with Barry Bonds, most people thought it would mark the end of any significant moves Brian Sabean would make the rest of the offseason. However, Sabean said the team did still have financial room for another starting pitcher, thanks to deffered money in Bonds' contract. On top of that, there has been whispers that Peter Magowan may allow the Giants payroll to excede 100 million dollars for the first time in franchise history. Last season, the Giants' payroll was around the 85 million dollar range. They are doing all this in hopes to possibly accomidate the huge salary that Barry Zito will command. Latest word on the free agency front has the Giants in hot pursuit of Zito, and there where even rumors they'd offer him 20 million dollars a year over 6 years. A very simalar deal in which they offered to Carlos Lee. The Giants real competition for Zito appears to be the Texas Rangers and the New York Mets

2007 Mock Lineup #2

Well, the Giants are adding players at a very quick rate, and there isn't going to be too many wild guesses in this mock line-up, but I will through one possibility out there that hasn't been discussed. CF. Dave Roberts (The signing would look ok, if the Giants can deal Randy Winn) SS. Omar Vizquel 2B Ray Durham (Best giants signing of the winter so far) LF. Barry Bonds (Even though they don't appear too close, the Giants will re-sign him) RF. Geoff Jenkins (A longshot, but he is available, the Giants have inquired about him, and the Brewers want a leadoff hitting center fielder (Winn) since they got burned by Roberts. Could make sense for both teams) 1B Rich Aurilia (Nice, economical signing overshadowed by the Feliz nightmare) C. Bengie Molina (His defense has slipped a bit, but there aren't many cathers as consistant with the bat) 3B. Pedro Feliz (This guy should give his agent 1/2 of his '07 salaray for talking the Giants into taking him back as the starting 3rd

Moves on the Horrizon

Sometime before the end of the weekend, the Giants are expected to announce the signing of their first two free agents of the winter. They have been extremely quiet up until now, but expect the 2007 Giants roster to start shaping up over the next 2 weeks, wheter it be good or bad. The Giants will likely announce the signings of Dave Roberts and Rich Aurilia on Friday. The signing of Roberts will move Randy Winn to right field, and down in the batting order. The Giants still are uncertain where Aurilia will play, but it will likely be either 3rd or 1st base. I'm looking at these signings in two ways. First of all, the Giants are adding a pair of 35 year-olds to a team that they vowed was going to get younger and healthier. But looking at the market and seeing what average to above average free-agents are raking in this winter, these aren't bad monetary moves. Roberts is expected to get between 15-16 million dollars over 3 years. Compare that with Juan Pierre's 5 year, 44 mil

It's Looking Like Barry Bonds Will Stay in the Bay

We are about a week into the free agent signing period, and it's looking more and more likely every day that Barry Bonds will be back in the Bay Area for the 2007 season. The only question may be, is will it be as an Oakland Athletic or as a Giant. The A's have been the most public team to express their interest in Barry Bonds, as he fits their moneyball philosophy to a T. The A's however, declined to match the Blue Jays offer for Frank Thomas which was paying him about 18 million dollars over two years, and it is highly unlikely Bonds will play for anything less than 12 million dollars this season. It would seem like his most likely destination is San Francisco, but the Sabean and Scott Boras don't seem to be talking to often, and it appears as if the Giants aren't making it a priority to sign Bonds. Regardless, all signs still point to Bonds returning to San Francisco. It is starting to seem like a more logical move for the Giants as well. There aren't that ma

2007 Mock Lineup #1

As I said in my last post, I will be composing various mock lineups throughout the winter every couple of weeks or so. With it being so early in the off-season, it's very likely none of the additions I add to my list will be part of the team in '07, but you have to start somewhere. Lineup: 1. CF Gary Mathews Jr.-( The Giants love Mathews and may overpay to get him in their outfield) 2. SS Omar Vizquel 3. 2B Ray Durham 4. LF Barry Bonds ( I can't picture him anywhere else now that Detroit and the Angels are out) 5. 3B Aubrey Huff ( 30 years old with 5 straight 20+ hr seasons, not much talk about Huff early) 6. 1B Wes Helms/Pat Burrell ( Burrell only if the Giants unload Benitez and even out the $) 7. RF Randy Winn 8. C Elizier Alfonzo (Sabean is not looking for starting catchers in the free agent market) Rotation: 1. RHP Matt Cain 2. RHP Woody Williams (Bochy gets his "big game" pitcher to move north with him for a year) 3. RHP Matt Morris 4. LHP Noah Lowry 5. LHP

Catcher May Be One of Giants' Many Glaring Needs This Winter

Mike Matheny still hasn't recovered from the multiple concussions he suffered early this season from multiple foul balls off his face mask. There where reports a few weeks ago that he is still having problems with dizziness at certain times and hasn't even begun to think about starting his off-season workouts. Unfortunately, it is looking more and more likely that Mike Matheny (who once took a fastball to the face, and returned to the line-up the next day) will have to end his playing career. I hope I'm wrong, but Matheny isn't young and catcher isn't a position to play around with if your having cognitive problems. Plus, I've never heard of anyone having problems with a concussion almost half a year after it happened. This will leave yet another hole to be filled on a Giants team that has only 2 starting position players from last year under contract. The Giants showed confidence in Elizier Alfonzo, and he did more than anyone expected filling in for Matheny la

Free Agents File, Rumors Starting to Swirl

The free-agency filing period began Monday, and some of the big name players wasted no time breaking away from their former teams. Aramis Ramirez, Alphonso Soriano and Carlos Lee head this winters list of top available hitters. The pitching market is very thin, with Barry Zito, former Japanese team ace Daisuke Matzuzika and Jason Schmidt among the top available starting pitchers. One of the many interesting things to watch for this winter is how Brian Sabean adresses the bullpen and especially the closer situation. The only two closers on this years market who may fit with the Giants are Joe Borowski and Eddie Guardado. Borowski is coming of a solid season as the Marlis closer after a few injurey plauged seasons with the Cubs and Devil Rays. Guardado has great credentials, but he had a huge fall-off in production last season and he is getting up there in age as well. The Giants have made it pretty clear that they are going to try to unload Benitez this winter, and there already has bee

Bruce Bochy Becomes Giants' Manager

About a week after starting talks with Bruce Bochy, he was named manager Friday afternoon at AT&T Park. It started becoming more and more apparant the Giants where going to go with Bochy during the week as they where in serious talks and Sabean hadn't spoken with another candidate in days. I think Bochy is a solid, safe pick. The Giants where obviously looking for a guy with big league managing experience which is why Bud Black and Ron Wotus weren't offered the job. Bochy has a well respected name throughout all of baseball and it will definetely give potential free agents a lot more of a secure feeling to sign with San Francisco than if the team was ran by Ron Wotus. I'm not too excited about this move, but Bochy is a better manager than both Dusty Baker and Felipe Alou so I'd expect to see this help the team. Bochy knew the team better than any other candidate besides Ron Wotus and has very good credentials. The move makes a lot of sense. It also gives me the feel

Bud Black Now First In Line

Well the thought of Lou Piniella managing the Giants lasted all but about 2 days as he quickly removed his name from the Giants runnings a day before taking over the Cubs opening managing position. The Giants are now shifting their attention elsewhere as Brian Sabean has asked permission of the Anaheim Angels to talk with their pitching coach Bud Black. Black may now become the front-runner for the position as the Giants have already scheduled an interview with Black. Current bench coach Ron Wotus has already been in for an interview, but it seems unlikely the Giants will go that route. Wotus was also considered a candidate to replace Dusty Baker back in 2002 when Baker departed. He has all the credentials to take over the job, and has been with the organazation for 20+ seasons. The thing that seems like it's keeping Wotus back is the fact that he isn't quite as a name as the Giants last to managers. Some say Wotus would help bring along the Giants young talent as the team is s

Giants Talk With Lou Piniella

ESPN reported Tuesday that the Giants have had preliminary discussions with Lou Piniella about their managerial opening. Pinella was supposedly the front runner to take the New York Yankee job if it became available, but Joe Torre reported Tuesday that he'll be back with the Yankees next year. Now that the Yankees are out of the mix, it appears that the Giants, Cubs and Rangers are the 3 most likely destinations for Pinella. Pinella was interviewed Monday about all the possibilities, and he surprisingly had the most to say about the Giants. Pinella mentioned how much he likes the city of San Francisco and also said that he and GM Brian Sabean are very close friends. If the Giants did hire Pinella, it would give Brian Sabean a manager who he would actually be on speaking terms with. It wasn't a secret that Felipe Alou and Brian Sabean, while they did respect each other and got along okay, weren't friends. That being said, I also think that if the Giants did hire Piniella, th

Giants' Cut Ties With Felipe Alou

It took less than 24 hours from the final out of the season for the Giants to officially announce that Felipe Alou will not be returning for a 5th season as the teams skipper. This was probably the easiest decision the Giants will be faced with over the next 6-8 weeks. Alou made it pretty clear that this was his last season as a manager before the season even started, and even if it wasn't, the Giants where going to go another direction after the season anyway. Alou had a nice first two seasons as the Giants manager, leading the team to the best record in the NL in 2003, but ever since Steve Finley's home run (as a Dodger) sent the Giants home for the year in final series of 2004, the Giants have spiraled downhill. Even though Alou didn't have the best tools to work with as far as the bullpen goes, I think he overmanaged his bullpen and besides lacking good leadership skills, this is where Alou was the weakest. Again, it would have been tough for anyone to succeed having th

MLB Playoff Picture Still Unclear

Heading into the final weekend of the season, there is still plenty to be determined before the playfoffs begin. We do know one thing for sure, and that is that San Francisco Giants will be missing it for the 3rd straight season. However, the NL Wild Card, NL West and NL Central are all still very much up for grabs. The St. Louis Cardinals have had a terrible 2nd half battling injuries and bad starting pitching and they now find themselves with just a 1 game lead on the surging Houston Astros. As far as the West and the Wild Card are concerned, 2 teams out of the P hillies, Dodgers and Padres will be heading to October. As far as the scheduling goes, I think the Dodgers and Padres will both make the playoffs. The Phillies have to play the Marlins for 3 this weekend, and unless they take all 3, the likely won't make it to the playoffs. The NL Central is still very close as well, but even with all the tough breaks for the Cardinals this season, I don't see them being passed up by

Giants Season Unofficially Over

I said in my last post that after losing 2 of 3 in Colorodo, the Giants must either sweep or at least take 3 of 4 from the Millwaukee Brewers this weekend at Miller Park. After Friday night's depressing loss, I have finally lost what little strand of hope I had for this year's San Francisco Giants. I was hanging on that last strand of hope due to the fact that the Giants play the last 3 games vs. the Dodgers and if they could have possibly gotten to that weekend 2 or 3 games back, anything could have happened. However, the Giants' pitching staff looks like they have already thrown in the towel and so am I. This has been one of the ugliest road trips I've ever seen the Giants take in recent years. It's just the teams that the Giants' are choking against that is really puzzling me. Even if the Giants aren't that good, they aren't as bad as the Rockies or Brewers, and you'd think that this being the most important part of the season and all, they'd

Giants' Backs Against the Wall

The San Francisco Giants are not mathmatically eliminated from the postseason quite yet, but they have put their own backs against the wall with a pair of ugly series' vs. Cardinals and Rockies. Luckily, the Giants barely squeaked out a victory Wednesday to salvage the series in Colorodo, but for a team that had to have a good road trip heading into the final week of the season it has been a horrible trip so far. After losing the 2 games in St. Louis, for the Giants to roll into Colorodo and get smoked in the first two games just shows that they aren't quite a playoff team this year. Playoff teams turn it on at this point in the year when it counts the most, and the Giants blew it vs. a team that they very well should have swept. The Giants threw their best 3 starters at the Rockies and all 3 did terrible. Noah Lowry had his worst career start, Matt Cain had his first bad start in over a month and a half, and Jason Schmidt continued his tough second half with another bad outing

Playoff Races Heating Up

We're about midway through September, and this is when things start getting really important. The Giants are 1.5 games back in the Wild Card race, and 3 back in the NL West race. They have finally leap frogged all other teams that where in between them and the Padres, and it is starting to look more and more like there will be two teams from the NL West in the playoffs. The Giants and Padres have been playing the currently playing the best ball in the division, but t he Dodgers are still hanging on to the lead. I 've gone on record already saying I think the Padres will make the playoffs. They have the best bullpen and the most speed on their team, and in the close games, that is what prevails. Nothing will likely be determined until the last weekend of the season when the Giants and Dodgers square off at AT&T Park while the Padres are in Arizona playing the Diamondbacks. After their series with the Rockies, the Giants will take off on their final road trip of the season wh

Back To .500 And Climbing

For the second straight year, the Giants are saving their best baseball for the last weeks of the season as they have finally gotten all their starting players healthy and rolling. The Giants have played the last couple weeks like most people including myself thought they would play all year long. I didn't expect this team to win 95+ games, but I definetly didn't expect them to be just a .500 team as they have been. It's no coincidence that Barry Bonds also happens to be playing his best ball of the season as well. Barry Bonds is the leader of this team and how he goes, so go the Giants. When Barry was hitting .235 with little power and run production, the Giants where a team playing well below .500 baseball. Bonds has raised his average to .260, and he's hit 5 home runs over the last 7 games. It just goes to show you that he still impacts a team that much, even at age 42. It doesen't hurt that the guy in front of him (Shea Hillenbrand) and the guy behind him (Ray D

Bonds/Giants rolling into September

Well it took about 4 1/2 months, but we are starting to see shades of the old Barry Bonds again. Along with that, the Giants are playing their best ball of the season, finally stringing together a couple solid weeks of baseball. Unfortunetly, the Dodgers have found their winning ways again, and the Giants are still 5 games back of first place, but they are only1 1/2 games back in the wild card race with still plenty of baseball to play (30 games left). Besides continuing dominance shown by Noah Lowry and Matt Cain, a couple of bi g bats are just starting to really get it going. The big fella, Barry Bonds is hitting .407 with 3 home runs and 8 RBI's over his last 10 games (27 at-bats). His most impressive game over that span came Tuesday night in Atlanta when Barry went 3-3 with 2 home runs. His game yesterday reminded me a lot of a series back in May 2001 when the Giants where in Atlanta. Bonds' hit something like 7 home runs in the 3 game series at Turner Field doing it agains

Giants Back Within Striking Distance

The Giants' seasaw battle back into the division race will not stop. As I am writing this, the Padres have a 3-1 lead on the Dodgers in the 3rd inning at Petco Park. If the Dodgers lose tonights ballgame, it would put the Giants only 4 games back of them. The Dodgers have finally hit a little bump in the road in San Diego and the Giants have taken advantage. Look no further than the arms of Noah Lowry and Matt Cain and you'll see why the Giants are not only still breathing the the NL West, but are now well within striking distance. Matt Cain turned in another solid outing Tuesday night going 7 innings giving up only 1 run. Unfortunetly he fell victim to Armondo Benitez's latest blunder and it cost him from getting his 10th win of the year. Cain is starting to gain more consistancy as the season goes on and it won't surprise me the least to see him lead the team in wins and strikeouts at the end of the season. Noah Lowry's outing on Monday was his best of the season

7 Games Back Again

Just when it looked like the Giants may actually get back within striking distance of the first place Dodgers, the Dodgers have taken the air out of their sails. The Giants had gotten withing 5 games of the Dodgers with their 5 game winning streak, but they are again 7 games out and it looks like their slim window for a playoff spot will probably be all but closed by the time September 1st rolls around. Again, the Giants' lack of consistency has forced them from being able to even get back to .500, let alone back atop the NL West. Brad Hennessey had his worst performance of the season Saturday when he didn't even make it through the second inning. Then Matt Morris kept the Giants in the game for a while Sunday, but the offense didn't show up and the game got broken open late. This season is starting to unfold worse than last year did. At least last year the Giants started to make a push late in the season when Randy Winn came over and Barry Bonds returned. This season, ever

Hillenbrand and Benitez Finally Contribute!

Armondo Benitez is two for his last two in save oppurtunities, and while that comes nowhere near making up for the 3 in a row he blew, he has been looking a little better. Monday night in San Diego, he held a one run lead, albeit in typical Benitez fashion allowing 2 runners to reach base before closing the door. On Tuesday night, Benitez may have looked the best I've seen him in a Giants uniform. For the first time in almost 2 seasons, I saw his fastball hitting 95-96 mph, and his splitter was actually nasty and controlled. He held another one run lead but did it perfectly. As bad as Benitez has been, we all know he's not going anywhere anytime soon so hopefully he can continue building off these last couple outings. When he was struggling, his fastball was between 90-92 and his splitter was affected by that. If he can stay up in the mid-90's like he has been in San Diego, he should be fine. Benitez is a guy who feeds a lot of success, and when his confidence is high, that

Road Woes Continue

Watching the Giants at AT&T Park is starting to get hard enough, but watching this team on the road is becoming impossible. They are 1-11 over their last 12 road games and now their season could be in jeapordy if they can't turn it around over the next week. They are now 6.5 games out of first place and falling faster and faster. By looking at the schedule and standings, it seems like getting back into this race is very doable, but if you've watched this team on consistant basis this season, you know it's going to be tougher than it looks. Their offense looked like it was ready to heat up at the begining of the week, but they have been stone cold since then. The teams defense is also starting to cause some concern as well. Ray Durham has already made two very costly errors in the first game and a half in LA and the outfield is looking slower and slower. Moises Alou and Steve Finley look like they're starting to lose interest in a hurry. You know things are getting u

Giants Start Off Well On Road Trip

Last time the Giants where on the road, it marked the begining of a horrible losing streak and a fall from the top of the NL West. Now the Giants are going to have to reverse their fortunes this time around if they want to stay alive in this wide open NL West race. Yes the Giants are in last place in the division, but they are only 4 1/2 games back of the Padres, and as bad as things have gotten over the last 3 weeks, they are still very much in this thing. After the series in Arizona, they travel to LA, then San Diego. All 3 of these teams are teams the Giants are chasing, and with a good road trip, this team could amazingly find themselves at the top of the division. The starting pitching for the Giants has been absolutely fantastic. Matt Cain is starting to get comfortable and he's the hottest Giant pitcher going right now. 4 of his last 5 starts have been tremendous, with his latest being a career high 12 strikeout, 7 inning performance vs. the Rockies. The best thing about Cai

Matheny Out For The Year

Mike Matheny's season has officially ended as he will be unable to play again this year. Matheny suffered a series of concussions back in late May and hasn't fully recovered since. Some in the organization fear he may not be able to play again. Matheny's glove, arm and veteran presence has been and will be missed. Elizer Alfonzo has been the surprise of the year so far and one of the things I am looking forward to most over the last 2 months of the season is seeing how Alfonzo continues to perform as the season goes on and he starts facing teams for a second and third time. His .293 avg., 9 home runs and 24 RBI in 140 at-bats is by far the most impressive rookie offensive start we've seen in San Francisco in years. Felipe Alou had planned on playing Todd Greene a lot more than he has with Matheny out, but Alfonzo has made that extremely tough. Mike Krukow was talking about Alfonzo the other night and was mentioning how fun he is to watch. There aren't many Giants on

Deadline Passes, Giants Left Without a Direction

July 31'st has been one of my favorite times of the year over the past decade. All the way up until the 2003 season, it was almost a given that the Giants where going to improve themselves in some way shape or form at the trade deadline. For some reason, after the 2002 trade for Kenny Lofton, the deal that ultimately put the Giants ahead of the rest of the National League, Brian Sabean has had trouble finding the right piece of the puzzle. Not just through trades, but through free agency as well. On July 31'st 2003, Sabean aquired Sidney Ponson from the Baltimore Orioles and it seems like the Giants have gone downhill since. That to me marked the second phase of the Brian Sabean era. Since then, he has made some moves that have not transpired to much. It seems like Sabean has been making moves just to make them, rather than really trying to address weaknesses or shape for the future. This July was a perfect example of what I'm saying. It was obvious the Giants needed at le