Yeah, I’m not sure if I want to go through the hassle to go to a local Super Bowl. The cost…the traffic…the parking….
Plus, with my luck, it’ll be some Stuper Bowl matchup like the Texans vs. the Panthers. Ugh.
Yeah, I’m not sure if I want to go through the hassle to go to a local Super Bowl. The cost…the traffic…the parking….
Plus, with my luck, it’ll be some Stuper Bowl matchup like the Texans vs. the Panthers. Ugh.
Well, that wasn’t nice to watch.
I’ve been rough on Ryan Vogelsong this season because, well, his pitching had been pretty rough. I thought he’d be the first one to miss a start, but not like this. Seeing him get hit on the hand pretty much ruined a big win that the Giants (and their fans) needed.
Vogelsong’s comeback story will always be one of my favorite stories of Giants for the rest of my life, wherever his story goes from here. We’ve seen a few natural superstars, some underdogs and some renaissances, but few players ever are a true story of inspiration like Vogelsong has been. I expect he has another comeback in him.
Unfortunately, we do need to talk about what happens now before that comeback happens. The Giants need a starter, and not just a spot starter. They’ll need a two-month guy that can come into a rotation in turmoil and turn things around. So here’s some odds on who might come in and slip into that 5th spot.
Mike Kickham: The 24-year old lefty prospect has always been an under-the-radar kind of guy, but that’s mostly because his stats have never been too overwhelming. Still, Kickham opened some eyes in Richmond, posting a 3.05 ERA with 137 strikeouts against 75 walks. That 137 strikeouts was second in the league. He has a fastball in the low 90s with a decent slider and changeup, but he lives on having a lot of motion on his pitches.
This season, Kickham started off a bit rough in Fresno with three straight starts of allowing five runs or more to end the month of April. However, since May has begun he has a 1.80 ERA in four starts.
As a prospect, I’ve never been overly high on Kickham because of his tendency to be a bit wild. That was one of his downsides in Richmond, and he hasn’t been great with his control in Fresno either. He’ll need to have Posey behind the plate to keep his wildness from becoming wild pitches, and to keep him calm. He’ll be facing mature hitters who will wait for their pitch, and as a rookie, he won’t get a lot of calls his way. That has flustered him in the past.
That said, I think Kickham makes the most sense for this move. He’s got the best upside, is the most ready and has the best momentum. Odds: 5-to-2
Chad Gaudin: No doubt about it, he’s having the best season of his life. At 30 and in his 11th season in the majors, his 2.10 ERA so far is easily his best season mark in his career, but there’s a lot of season to go. Despite a three-run hiccup in Toronto, Gaudin has consistently been one of the best Giants’ relievers in the bullpen, going longer stints and shorter ones, and been a calming influence on games that the starters had sometimes let get out of control.
The downside is that starting is something from long ago for him, and he’s never been successful at it. He hasn’t started in the majors at all since 2009, and he’s never been particularly good at it. The last games he started in the minors were nine starts in 2009, and he had a 5.24 ERA overall in 14 appearances. His longest outing of the season was that three-run game in Toronto, where he threw 72 pitches; before that, he’d broken the plane of 35 pitches in an outing only once. The other side is that he is getting hit harder by lefties (.843 OPS against) than he did as a starter. In that 2009 season the OPS against was just .823.
Gaudin also gets points for being on the 40-man roster, unlike Kickham and Loux. He also gets points for having a chin beard, an intimidating addition to the Giants’ lineup of facial hair matchups.
I like Gaudin. He was a great pickup in the offseason, and I think the long relief role has been a great find for him. But it’s hard for me to see the Giants trying to stretch him out now. Odds: 7-to-2
Shane Loux: Loux, at least, is a known quantity to Giants fans. He made 19 appearances for the team in 2012, with a 4.97 ERA. But Loux doesn’t have a great Major League track record behind him. He’s played only parts of five seasons in the majors, racking up 58 appearances and 13 starts (none of which came with the Giants). However, he was a starter in Fresno in both 2011 and is again this season (notably working solely as a reliever last season).
Loux has made seven starts, putting up a 3.68 ERA. He’s had a fair mix of starts, both good and not-as-good He had his best, a six-inning start allowing just two hits, a walk and only an unearned run, this past Friday. However, to say he’s not overpowering is a bit of an understatement. He’s struck out only 15 batters in 36 2/3 innings, which is also how many he’s walked.
There’s no doubt that Loux is an underwhelming option. In the past, as a starter, he’s rarely been encouraging, though he has been recently. If this were a single, spot start, I’d be picking him. But for a longer stint, I think major league teams would be likely to adapt to him quickly. I don’t see it. Odds: 5-to-1
Chris Heston: The 25-year old Heston got a bit of a bandwagon going after winning the ERA title in the Double-A Eastern League last season, posting a 2.24 ERA. With 135 strikeouts in 148 2/3 innings, and just 40 walks, he seemed to be in line to be the fabled sixth starter-in-waiting.
However, his lack of velocity (he works in the upper 80’s as a right-hander) along with some possibly bad luck, and he’s run into trouble in Fresno. He has a 5.33 ERA in nine starts, and most notably, he’s getting hit around. His WHIP has jumped from 1.103 in Double-A to 1.658 so far in Fresno, both thanks to giving up more hits and more walks.
Heston’s not one to be given up on as a prospect quite yet, and he has a small thing going for him by being on the 40-man roster already, but he clearly isn’t ready for the majors yet. Odds: 15-to-1
Justin Fitzgerald: Now 27, the Santa Rosa native and UC Davis grad started the season in Richmond. He had a 1.09 ERA in six starts, and then moved up to Fresno, where in his only start he gave up two earned runs in five innings, albeit while giving up nine hits and two walks. What is unpalatable about this is that it was Fitzgerald’s third season at Richmond, which is rare for any prospect to manage without a major injury or rehab. At three repeats, a huge improvement is almost expected.
The 11th round pick has been nothing if not consistent the rest of his career, posting a slowly improving ERA that went from 3.86 in 2008 to 3.22 this season. He got some attention for flashing 95 MPH in college, but has been closer to the low-90′s as a pro. He’s just been steady, other than his unusual repetitions in Richmond.
Honestly, I’m going through this just to let you know who he is. Fitzgerald was placed on the DL by Fresno on Thursday, May 16th, and was expected to miss two turns at least with a right elbow strain. That means he’s pretty much unavailable right now. He might be a consideration down the line if the initial replacement struggles, but he’ll need to come back and prove he can handle some Triple-A starts first. Odds: 100-to-1 for now, 8-to-1 in mid-June.
Kyle Crick/Clayton Blackburn/Chris Stratton: I don’t need to separate any of these three out. All these top prospects are pitching at Single-A. Not only is that a fair indication of not being ready for the majors, but it also means their development is far off and that pushing anyone to the majors will start their options clock far too early. Some crazy KNBR callers may want to see them, but it ain’t happening: Odds: 113-to-1
Brian Wilson: Please. Odds: Slightly Better Than Finding Sasquatch
The major league season has begun, but the farm is about to start games as well. For all you Giants fans out there, here’s a quick guide to the guys you should keep an eye on at each level of the farm system for the future of the Giants.
Fresno Grizzlies (AAA):
• Gary Brown – The top pick in 2010, Brown was expected to be on the fast track to be the Giants center fielder and leadoff hitter, but a tough year in Richmond slowed things, and the deal with Angel Pagan complicates things. It’s possible that Pagan and his routes may be headed for left field, but when that will happen depends on Brown. He’s the most interesting guy in Fresno.
• Francisco Peguero and Cole Gillespie – While Brown has the higher ceiling, Gillespie and Peguero are the guys who are likely to help out this season. Both have talent, but also have frustrations. If the Andres Torres and Gregor Blanco have problems, Gillespie and Peguero will be battling to be the first man up.
• Chris Heston and Michael Kickham – Speaking of the guys competing to be the callups, Heston and Kickham were quietly the best pitchers in Double-A Richmond, and will be kept an eye on in case of injuries. They don’t have the ceiling of the stars lower in the system, but could be major leaguers in either a starting or relief role eventually.
• Heath Hembree – Hembree came into the season last year as an expected heir to closer Brian Wilson. But he had a 4.74 ERA in Fresno last year, and only 15 saves with 36 strikeouts and 20 walks in 38 innings. Hembree was just 23 last season, so there’s a chance for a bounceback. After what happened to Wilson and the shaky hold that Sergio Romo has on the closer role, eyes will be on Hembree to see if he can produce.
Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA):
• Joe Panik – The Giants’ top pick in 2011 is finally moving to second base, and has a three-year timetable (also known as Marco Scutaro’s contract) to get ready. Panik isn’t a power hitter, but he makes great contact, draws walks and is a sneaky dangerous hitter. His year in San Jose wasn’t as good as expected, but there are some high hopes for him.
• Andrew Susac – The catcher who made it possible for the Giants to trade Tommy Joseph, Susac is highly rated but had a really rough year in San Jose. It’s a bit of a surprise that he got pushed to Richmond. However, he’s the guy the Giants will be keeping an eye on to let Posey truly move away from catcher longterm.
• Adam Duvall and Ricky Oropesa – Duvall plays third and Oropesa plays first. These are two guys with big power but questions about their contact. Duvall hit 30 in San Jose last year, while Oropesa hit 16. Richmond can eat up guys like this, but a hitter with power will always inspire hope.
San Jose Giants (High-A):
• Kyle Crick and Clayton Blackburn – Duh. These are a couple of the top pitchers. Crick is your power pitcher with some control issues but the ability to be dominant. Blackburn has a fastball that rivals Zito’s, but excellent control and an advanced feel for pitches, especially for someone as young as he is.
• Angel Villalona – If you haven’t heard his name before, you obviously don’t follow mugshots. Villalona was a big-money signee out of the Dominican Republic…in 2006. He had so-so seasons as an incredibly young player until 2009, when he was charged with murder in the Dominican Republic. After the charges were dropped, it took him time to get back into playing shape and get his visa back, but now he’s back in San Jose at the age of 22, where he last played with the Giants system in 2009 as an 18-year old. Still has talent, but it’ll be interesting to see what he can do no matter what.
• Mac Williamson – A 3rd round pick from 2012, he hit .321 and nine home runs for the AZL and short-season Salem-Keizer. Williamson has a lot of tools, but is very raw and has a bit of bust potential. He’s getting a very aggressive push, so it will be interesting to see how he responds.
• Josh Osich – A 2011 draftee out of Oregon, Osich was a top pitcher prospect in college before injuries derailed the end of his college career. He’s being used mostly as a reliever, but has strikeout tools and can be dominant against both righties and lefties. There’s closer potential here with health.
Augusta GreenJackets (Low-A):
• Chris Stratton – The top draft pick in 2012, some expected him to make it to San Jose, but he had a rough spring as he is coming back from getting hit in the head with a ball during batting practice late last season. Stratton has a big fastball, and could have as high a ceiling as Kyle Crick, with a faster timetable.
• Tyler Hollick – The 14th-round pick from the 2012 draft, Hollick only played down at the Arizona League to start his career, but was impressive. He had 21 steals in 23 tries in 31 games. He hit .301, but had a very impressive .441 on-base percentage. No home runs, but he put together all the tools needed to be a speedster center fielder.
• Joseph Rapp – The Giants didn’t get a lot of power hitters in the 2012 draft, but Rapp may be the best. He had 11 home runs in 64 games for Salem-Keizer, with an .839 OPS. However, the 73 strikeouts in 239 at-bats isn’t encouraging.
• Mason McVay – The 6’7” lefty reliever made 18 appearances in Salem-Keizer, but put up some nice numbers. In 30 1/3 innings, he struck out a very impressive 43 and had just a 1.19 ERA. The 26th round pick has a lot of tools, and might move up the reliever scene fast.
That the U.S. isn’t going to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic is a disgrace.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The Puerto Rican team won that game. Outright won, they played better than their opposition and beat the guys in front of them, and absolutely earned their ticket to San Francisco. I do not mean, in any way, that they are not deserving.
What I’m saying is that it’s a disgrace that a lot of the guys who were there in the U.S. uniforms were there, and there were many others who weren’t, by their own choice.
If, inside of our own country, we worry about young Americans getting into the game compared to football or basketball, how can we even start discussing that if the professionals we raise don’t show the passion to wear their country’s uniform?
I said it before, and I’ll say it again, this competition is tough to take seriously if the best U.S. players are not. I’ve got no problems with David Wright on the team. Nor Brandon Phillips. But Eric Hosmer? Willie Bloomquist? Shane Victorino as a designated hitter? Why not Andrew McCutchen? Bryce Harper? And perhaps most insultingly, Mike Trout SAT IN THE STANDS for the U.S. games in Arizona.
Yeah, a little bit of my love for one of baseball’s young superstars got lost there.
And that doesn’t even address a pitching staff that, perhaps being even more important in a tournament with strict pitch limits, didn’t have much depth when it came to starters or relievers. There were a couple of promising youngsters, but short of Affeldt, you didn’t see guys with a lot of big game experience, something very clear with a (deserving) Craig Kimbrel getting shelled.
Look, I get the questions, particularly with pitchers, on fatigue. I have no disrespect for Bumgarner passing after a postseason and a year where he finished looking tired. The same goes for Scherzer. And players new to their teams can be understood, such as Zack Greinke. But where’s David Price? Or C.J. Wilson or Jordan Zimmerman? Where’s Prince Fielder, a man who could use any more exercise? How about Ian Desmond or Troy Tulowitzki? Evan Longoria?
And don’t give me that injury crap. It’s bull, plain and simple. This has been addressed already, and well debunked by Jayson Stark. You might point at David Wright, but I point at every single Yankee injured in Spring Training. Injuries happen no matter where players play. It doesn’t make it better when they happen at a team’s spring training game or the WBC. If anything, players are more likely to watch out for, and guard against, injuries in the WBC than they do with their home teams.
No one on the other country’s teams pass things up. These guys were excited to play for their countries. Even the teams who lost were fired up. Italy was playing insane. China was fired up just for not being in last place.
And forget the players…I have no qualms with Joe Torre being a Hall of Fame manager, but frankly, he managed this series like (and yes, I’m about to say this) a man that the game has passed by. And then lapped him. A couple of times.
Bunting is a controversial topic, even aside from having a team made for slugging, so I won’t touch on that. Let’s talk about some management decisions in that last game. In the bullpen, Edwin Rodriguez of Puerto Rico threw out five pitchers in the seventh and eighth innings, quick to hook pitchers who clearly didn’t have it. He managed this game like it was the final game of any playoff series. Torre let Vinnie Pestano hang himself, managing this game like an All-Star Game.
Meanwhile, you leave Eric Hosmer in to face a lefty in the game’s key spot for the U.S. offense, leaving Jonathan Lucroy on the bench. The U.S. team had a short bench, sure, but you still had Arrencibia as the final catcher. How can you leave anyone on the bench?
Anyway, enough bitching. I just had to get this out before enjoying the rest of this tournament, and yes, even as an American, I’m going to celebrate this game.
But until the U.S. takes it seriously, I can’t see anyone else taking it seriously enough either, whether inside or outside our borders.
Alright, that’s enough to that. Time to get ready for the games that will be played, and I’ll just have to get a Netherlands hat. Go Black and Oranje!
Let’s be honest about the 2012 World Series Film: It’s a victory lap for the fans.
It starts with what we all know: the Giants won the World Series. There’s no suspense, but then, there probably shouldn’t be. We know it, and so will everyone else who watches this. It’s not a history lesson.
The film is narrated by Benjamin Bratt, who I frankly didn’t know was a Giants fan until this playoff run. He does a really good job, and his narration is interspersed by various commentator highlights and interviews from the players.
The film’s first 20 minutes or so talks about the leadup to the World Series. Spring training, and losing Brian Wilson early on. It touches on the All-Star Game, though I’m a bit disappointed they didn’t mention who that first inning was against, considering the storyline that would come around in the World Series. It also spends a little time mentioning Melky Cabrera, more than I expected, but it doesn’t linger. It spends more time on the team’s second half surge.
Once things get into the playoffs, things pick up. Each of the first two rounds get a fair amount of time, especially the talk around Pence firing up the team. It’s the first moment that the film feels personal to the Giants, and the film focuses on the Giants’ highlights.
Still, overall, the film seems to race through everything leading up to the World Series. There is almost no talk of what happened elsewhere in the playoffs either, even in Detroit’s own special run against the A’s and Yankees. It makes sense that they want to focus on the Fall Classic, but the context of the rest of playoffs, with the A’s getting all the attention in late September, the ‘infield fly,’ the sweep of the Yankees, and so forth, seemed to be missing to me. The Tigers get about 37 seconds of lip service to what they did, and that’s it.
The first thing you notice about the movie when it hits the World Series is that the Tigers were interviewed as well. Throughout the first part of the film, you don’t get any viewpoints other than the Giants. It’s refreshing to hear what the other side was thinking.
In the World Series, this film finally feels complete. It takes its time in each game, talking about each of the players and talks about more than just the biggest moments. It uses the best footage from the Fox crew and others, with lots of slow motion, and lots of beauty shots of the crowd. And while it spends a lot of time on each game, now it feels like it goes by too fast just because you’re enjoying it.
The editing is beautifully done, and it doesn’t feel disjointed at all as it switches from interviews to game footage, from the present to the past and back. And especially in the World Series, where you get to hear Fox, Detroit’s radio team and of course the Giants broadcast team, it’s the best of all worlds.
Of course, the film itself isn’t the end-all of this disc. It also holds the complete Game 7 of the NLCS, all the Pence-multi-hitting, rain-soaked glory. And, like the World Series Box Sets of past and present, it includes the radio feeds as well as Fox’s broadcasters, so you can turn off Buck and enjoy it otherwise. The World Series Box Set doesn’t include this game, so the World Series film is almost a must-have to include and complete all of the big postseason games.
The disc packs a surprising level of special features, though they’re mostly short and disappointing. There are a few ‘Caught Looking’ features focusing on the big Giants names. They’re only a few minutes long each, but give nice little looks at the players. There’s the final out of the Giants clinching the NL West, which is disappointingly short. It shows the final play and about a minute of the celebration, but none of the victory lap around the field. The World Series final out and celebration is more inclusive. It has a couple minutes of Joe Buck talking and mostly TV footage, but it also gives about a minute of the champagne spraying in the locker room. The World Series Parade is about four minutes of the parade, but none of the speeches. The most interesting piece is the “Postseason Highlights” roll. It’s not truly all the highlights, it’s only the clinching moments against the Reds and Cardinals. No Buster Grand Slam, no Pablo Sandoval home runs (although his three home runs are included in a different special feature). Apparently, the clinching moments are the only good ones.
The best special feature isn’t listed: in the end credits, several of the players who are interviewed give their best Hunter Pence impressions. Not only are they hilarious, but Pence got shown the imitations and he has a ball with it as well.
As I said before, this is the Victory Lap for the Giants and their fans. This isn’t here to educate, it’s here to relive the best moments. Any Giants fan will love this, for getting through the offseason, or remembering the best moments years from now. If you’re a Giants fan, I can’t recommend this enough for you to get, even with my quibbles with it.
Don’t forget, you can get your own copy from us! Just post your favorite moment from 2012 on our Facebook Wall or Tweet it to us by December 11th, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for your choice of a Blu-Ray or a DVD of both the World Series Film and the World Series Box Set! Give it as a gift or keep it for yourself! Get more information here: Cyber Monday Contest
I have to say, as this party moves to Detroit, this is one of the best stories I’ve seen about fans there.
I have nothing but respect for this group.