Have I given up on the Giants’ chances to win the division?
Have I given up on the Giants’ chances to win the division?
I’ve heard a lot of huffing from people who aren’t Hawk Harrelson to say this:
Rule 7.13 (2) was applied correctly yesterday in San Francisco.
From the start, Tyler Flowers was in front of the plate. Watch the play. His left foot never leaves foul ground in the entire play. The momentum of the throw didn’t take him into the path of the the runner. He was always there.
The rule says:
If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher without possession of the ball blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe.
I honestly do not understand why many educated writers don’t get that part of it. Here’s one, who compares the play in San Francisco to one in Washington the same day. After a long comparison (which doesn’t include any visual aids other than Bud Selig throwing his hands up at the All-Star tie), he asks “So why was Blanco called safe?”
The bigger debate is whether there should be a rule at all.
Avila looks okay at the end of that, but he left the game and had problems the rest of that series. Which the World was watching. You know, because it was the World Series.
That latter collision caused one writer at the same website to write that there needed to be a new rule. And he wrote: “This is what the new rule should be: Home plate is the same as any other base. The catcher is the same as any other fielder. The runner must slide. The catcher cannot block the plate. The runner cannot slam into the catcher.”
That’s the new rule, in essence, without the sliding. The rule’s full, unedited text (with my own emphasis added, to express the points of the rule):
1. A runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate). If, in the judgment of the Umpire, a runner attempting to score initiates contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate) in such a manner, the Umpire shall declare the runner out (even if the player covering home plate loses possession of the ball). In such circumstances, the Umpire shall call the ball dead, and all other base runners shall return to the last base touched at the time of the collision.
2. Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher without possession of the ball blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe. Notwithstanding the above, it shall not be considered a violation of this Rule 7.13 if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in order to field a throw, and the Umpire determines that the catcher could not have fielded the ball without blocking the pathway of the runner and that contact with the runner was unavoidable.
So what’s the problem?
If, in the judgment of the Umpire…
Isn’t the whole problem that caused replay to be implemented is that the “judgement” of umpires not great? That the judgement of umpires cause rules to be implemented differently at different times and places?
And this rule expressly uses the term “If, in the judgement of the Umpire” twice! (And even references it a third time) That’s the problem! Judgement calls cause inequality in rules being applied.
If only we had a clear line with which we could determine where a catcher can be and can’t be. A line that will make it obvious both in live action to the players and to fans and umpires in replay. A line that would create a right side and a wrong side. One where the catcher would be playing fair, or where he was committing a foul.
If only we had a clear, visually obvious line.
If only we had one…
So…the draft happened.
The way the Giants are playing, it’s unlikely they’ll have another high draft pick. So, while every draft matters, I don’t think anyone disagreed that, with the 14th pick this year, they had to hit.
I think they did.
Let’s take a look at recent Giants first round picks:
It’s hard to hit home runs with picks in the 20’s, but there are some talented players. Panik looks like he could be in the majors soon. Brown might find a role, but he doesn’t look like a starter anymore. Stratton has a lot of talent, but he hasn’t been able to put it together. The extenuating circumstance of getting hit will haunt him, but it is disconcerting considering the top Giants pick this year.
Tyler Beede is a very talented pitcher. There’s no doubt about that. He has some control problems, no doubting that either. Most people seem to think the Giants can fix them.
What was of interest to me is that the Giants took a player who generally was a good value at their pick level. Particularly Arroyo and Panik were players that a lot of people thought were over-drafted, although there was a wide range of opinions about Stratton as well. Beede has issues, but it’s pretty universally thought that he’s a high-upside guy that was going to be taken somewhere in the 10-20 range. And it followed with later picks that the Giants got guys that were among the higher-rated players available.
Now, projected value is good for little more than public perception, and it’s no proof of future success. But there is something reassuring about the Giants picking players other think were good, and it does mean, hopefully, that we don’t have to hear too much complaining in the next few years.
So, let’s look at some other things from the 2014 draft for the San Francisco Giants:
Where does Beede fit?
Beede quickly becomes a Top 5 prospect, Top 10 at the furthest, and joins a talented, if underperforming, group of pitching prospects.
That, of course, might mean the Giants will view some other pitching prospects as trade bait in waiting. With another pennant run pretty obviously in the future this year, Beede adds some depth and flexibility. Beede also helps push the line of promotions with another high-expectation guy that can be expected in about three years.
Expect Beede to join the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes for the time being.
Who is the most exciting of the other picks?
I really like Dylan Davis, the third round pick. Davis is a power hitter with quite the pedigree, coming out of Oregon State. He didn’t always perform with Oregon State, though a good year in the Cape Cod League (the premier wood-bat amateur league) helped. Davis also has a strong arm, but he could be a player that would be a left fielder of the future for this team if he can translate his raw power into game power.
What was the theme of the draft?
The Cape Cod League. The Giants picked a lot of players with strong Cape Cod seasons, highlighted by Davis, who won the 2012 CCL Home Run Derby. The scouting department seems to have good ties with someone who scouts the CCL, or trusts the performance, and it became a running joke in the first ten rounds among observers.
What position was picked the most?
Well, other than pitching…Catcher was an interesting spot. The Giants picked up Aramis Garcia in the second round, generally considered one of the top college catchers as a good all-around hitter. But the Giants took four players listed at catcher in six rounds late in the draft, three of whom were high schoolers and each had interesting notes: Tim Susnara from St. Francis High in Mountain View, Zach Taylor from Horizon HS in Scottsdale, where the Giants took Tim Alderson and Tommy Joseph from), and Benito Santiago (Yes, son of THAT Benito Santiago) from Coral Springs Christian Academy in Florida. The Giants probably won’t sign all three, though.
And that’s not all! 6th round pick Skyler Ewing was listed as a first baseman with power, but the Rice University player has experience at catching. Some expect him to move to catcher long-term, but that’s not assured.
What was the best name?
I’m sad to admit, I always want to see interesting names picked for no reason other than amusement. But the Giants didn’t disappoint.
Sam Coonrod, a pitcher drafted in the fifth round, has a great name, and might be a guy who develops as well. Coonrod has a mid-nineties fastball but also some delivery issues. He might be a future reliever.
But two others had names that made me smile. 9th rounder Stetson Woods, a high school pitcher from Madera, CA, has a great cowboy-style name along the lines of current prospect Clayton Blackburn. And there’s something that sounds like a fake, 1950’s movie starfish about 30th round first baseman Cliff Covington.
Bottom Line: Was this a good draft?
Well, the true review won’t be for years. And this draft doesn’t have a Buster Posey-level star that we can see. But Beede does look like he has the upside of being a star, and the rest of the top 10 have a lot of role-player types of candidates to keep an eye on. I like what I’ve seen.
It’s that horrible time of year again. That time where the injuries are bigger than the wins. The injuries that threaten to derail what was otherwise looking like a great season for your team. Now you have to wonder what those injuries are going to do to your team.
Sometimes the injuries are obvious. In 2011, Buster Posey went down with a serious injury. Sure, he wasn’t the only one. Freddy Sanchez’s career also ended a month later, and it’s kind of a shame that people don’t remember something like that, but it did as well. Combined, missing those two sunk a chance to win back-to-back championships. In 2013, it was more subtle. Angel Pagan went down winning a game, and didn’t think he was even injured at the time. There was a rash of balls hitting hands on bats. Marco Scutaro was only off the field for a short time, but he was not the same the rest of the year. Ryan Vogelsong missed months. The odd thing was, the rotation did well without him, as Chad Gaudin stepped in very well. But then, the bullpen fell down like a bunch of dominoes without him, a long-man who had been signed to a minor league deal that offseason. You never know which injury will hurt the team the most.
So how do you judge which injury is the killer? Do you go onto www.baseball-reference.com and try to figure out WAR? Do you jump between twitter.com and McCovey Chronicles see what the groupthink believes? Or do you jump onto MyTopSportsbooks.com and see how far the oddsmakers have marked down the team’s chances to win the World Series?
Nah, sometimes you just need to wait for the MRI results.
Damn, I hate this time of year.
First of all, if you haven’t read it, check this story out by the Chronicle’s Susan Slusser.
Bottom line, sources with both the A’s and the River Cats have told the Chronicle that the River Cats are up for changing affiliations, and going to the Giants.
Let’s start by saying what this isn’t: this isn’t the Giants trying to give the A’s a little “Screw You” by taking their Triple-A affiliate. Teams aren’t allowed to talk with other affiliates by major league rules; doing so would be tampering. And the Giants don’t want to get into any trouble with the league while waiting (and waiting) for that blue ribbon commission to make a decision. That, and add in that Slusser specifically says the sources are with the River Cats and Athletics, and toss out that idea.
Personally, I wouldn’t put much stock in this…except that, if this change were to happen, maybe this is the year.
The River Cats team has played in Sacramento since 2000 (previous to that, they were the Vancouver Canadiens). The franchise has been affiliated with the Athletics since 1999, though it was originally an Athletic affiliate when the franchise started in 1978.
The River Cats and the A’s have been a successful team. Raley Field in West Sacramento is one of the best stadiums in the minors, and Sacramento provides the River Cats with consistently some of the highest attendance figures. Forbes ranked the River Cats as the most valuable franchise in the minors.
By comparison, the current Giants affiliate is the Fresno Grizzlies. The Giants have been affiliated with the Grizzlies since they moved to Fresno in 1998. (Before that, they were the Tucson Toros). The Grizzlies play in Chukchansi Park, which is also a very nice stadium just outside of downtown Fresno…which isn’t a great downtown. Fresno provides a solid attendance for the Grizzlies, and their average attendance is usually middle-of-the-pack. Forbes ranked the Grizzlies as the 11th most valuable franchise in the minors, not bad when that is out of 240 teams.
The Giants and Grizzlies have been a successful partnership, though they have had rumors of separations in the past. In those cases, it was always about the Grizzlies’ interest in others, never another team specifically seeking the Giants. But particularly since the mid-2000’s, the Grizzlies and Giants have been serious partners. In 2008, the Grizzlies rebranded themselves in the Giants’ black and orange, and the Giants have tied the Grizzlies in on major promotions. The World Series trophies make promotional trips down there (as they do to all Giants’ affiliates), and the Grizzlies do some of the same promotional items (such as recently giving away the 1952 World Series Ring Replicas that were an AT&T Park giveaway in April).
The location has been a plus as well. Having Fresno being so close makes it an easy trip for rehabbing veterans, roving coaches and call ups to get to and from the two cities. Of course, Sacramento is the one Triple-A team closer to the Bay Area than Fresno, and the A’s have benefitted from a similar geographic relationship.
The Giants have invested a lot in their relationship with the Grizzlies. Would saving a couple of hours in bus time and being associated with a better-valued franchise be worth dumping that investment?
Well…all is not rosy in Fresno. The Grizzlies as a team are losing money. It was reported in April that the team owes $1.5 million in rent payments to the city, and lost $1.3 million. The ownership group has been listening to offers to sell the team. Forbes Magazine has ranked the team as the 11th most valuable in the minors, but that doesn’t help cash-flow in the short term.
The Grizzlies aren’t far from profitability. The team estimates they need to increase attendance by an average of 1,000 per game to reach that level. That’s not impossible in a city with just over half a million people. But if they can’t, it’s not impossible that they could be sold, and possibly even moved, despite having a sweet stadium deal and solid roots.
One of the big things that can cause affiliation changes? New owners and new locations.
That threat of new ownership might be enough to make the Giants a little shy about sticking around, but there is always another possibility: the Giants might just do what they did in San Jose: buy a controlling interest in the team. And then, all questions would be rendered moot.
Which brings us back to Sacramento, and the weird timing of this. This very well could just be a bargaining ploy by River Cats CEO Susan Savage. As one of the Minor Leagues crown jewels, they might be trying to get the best they can get out of any deal…but may have no intention of leaving the A’s…yet.
But if she’s going to net the Giants, she’s going to need to cast quite a net.
At the very least, though, this should make the twitter feud between the Grizzlies and the River Cats even more interesting.