I admit, I was not a regular tailgater at Candlestick…let’s face it, it was too damn expensive to go to the games regularly. But it has to be one of the most unique tailgating experiences in football…except the long hike to the stadium. I’m sure that’s everywhere…
For Cyber Monday, you can take advantage of two promotions centered around Kevin’s enovel “To Hell With Fate; or, Why The Best Valentine’s Gifts Come From Mini-Marts“!
The female characters in this comic may not be particularly well-written (it’s a comic strip…no one is well-written!), but To Hell With Fate has been selected to be one of the prizes of the Strong Women In Fiction holiday giveaway! Enter this contest, and you’ll qualify to win the grand prize, which will get you a prize that is currently 29 books and is growing!
The novels in this giveaway are a wide-range of independent and small-publisher novels across the gamut! You’ll find romance, fantasy, sci-fi, and like To Hell With Fate, simple young adult literature!
Also at that link above, you will be able to see all the current prizes, as well as the ability to learn more about each book and author.
Entries for the contest run until December 8th, but don’t wait…we all know how procrastination goes…
You can get To Hell With Fate for the reduced price of $2.99 (from a regular price of $4.99) on the publisher’s website directly! Just go to this link, and when you’re purchasing the book, use the Promo Code APPLEGUY.
Yes, I’m an Apple guy. Please don’t judge me.
Purchasing from the publisher directly gives both Kevin and his publisher higher royalties, and gives you copies that are compatible with just about every possible e-reader you could use, including Kindle, iPads or iPhones, Androids, your computer…and even the Nook for you rebels out there.
This deal is not compatible if you buy from a third-party reselling website, such as Amazon or iTunes or the link. And this deal ends today! So head out, and don’t forget the Promo Code!
Two things happened at once on Sunday, during the final game of the San Francisco Giants 2013 season.
Barry Zito was brought in to face one batter, making his final appearance with the Giants. The 126-million dollar man has been the dog that Giants fans have kicked since the moment he signed in 2007. It’s easy to hate a guy who makes more money than anyone else. It’s easier to hate when you’re convinced the moment he signed that he would suck. It’s even easier when he proves you right the first couple of years. Barry Zito’s Giants career had far more downs than ups. He never posted an ERA less than 4, which isn’t a terrible middle of the rotation starter. But he was being paid like an ace.
And yet, for all the derision, Zito handled it with class. He had some problems, which is hard to blame anyone about, but especially the last few years, he took being the butt of constant jokes in a way that would make a middle school anti-bully video proud. And he had one moment when everyone in the Giants’ universe needed him to come up big, and he had the biggest game of his life. And for everything negative Giants fans have thought of him, he’ll be most remembered for that one success.
So, he came in, faced one batter, pulled out a strikeout, and walked off to a standing ovation, and gave perhaps his only curtain call as a Giant. And now it’s done. That’s baseball.
But in that moment, something else was happening. No one around me at the ballpark knew about it. I didn’t know about it. It was only when I glanced up at a in-house TV that I noticed it. The San Diego Padre batter who struck out was putting away his helmet and gloves, and his manager came over and gave him a brief hug.
It was perhaps the most unbaseball thing that you would see. So I looked it up.
The batter was Mark Kotsay. That’s a name that, as a Giants fan, I knew well. It seemed like he’d been around as long as I could remember. He’d been a Padre, an Athletic, a Brave, a Marlin, a Brewer, though never a Giant. He was always a guy on the other team.
And it had been his last at-bat.
Kotsay’s 17-year career had been a twisting path throughout the majors. He finished his career with a respectable .276 batting average, a .332 on-base percentage and a .405 slugging percentage (that’s a .737 OPS for those of you who don’t want to math). He averaged 11 home runs a season, never more than 17.
Over 17 seasons, Kotsay got into three playoffs. Once with Oakland, once with Boston and once with Milwaukee. In each postseason, his team won in the Divisional Series and then lost in the League Championship Series. Although he started his career with the 1997 World Champion Florida Marlins, he never played in a World Series.
Kotsay was just always there. And now he’s not.
His numbers were almost always above league average. Never spectacular, but rarely awful. Even though he changed teams several times, he was never the hot-ticket item in free agency. I’d never pulled for him to be a Giant. He was rarely the player you feared or that was in the middle of a lineup, but he was never a pushover.
That’s the irony of baseball. There’s a very limited number of major leaguers. There’s only 1,200 at most at any given time. To make it to the major leagues is a very difficult, very special experience. To stay there for a full career even more so. And yet, despite the specialness of that role, it’s easy to be overlooked and never noticed.
And in that moment, while a man who spent much of a career being overpaid and who wasn’t even retiring was receiving a ridiculous ovation in an emotional moment that left Giants fans diving to social media to celebrate and commemorate, as he went out with one more success, another player who had always been there and worked hard to be in the background had just seen his career end with one last strikeout, one that meant he’d finish his last season with a sub-.200 batting average for the first time since his 14-game debut in his first season. And while the fans cheers echoed for someone else, for him it was all over quietly.
Baseball needs those background players. The names we recognize, even if we don’t remember them right off the bat. Someone has to be in that other uniform. Or, sometimes, in your own team’s uniform for a couple of years. Baseball has to have those player, among their 1,200. And sometimes, when they’re gone, you don’t even notice it.
This day, a lot of people didn’t. But it was a moment that was more baseball than any other.
The MLB Draft always results in people getting their eyes glazed over at all the picks. At least now it’s only 40, and not 50 like when I covered the draft. But the truth is, no one is guaranteed to ever make the majors (even the first round guys), and chances are that at least (AT LEAST!) 35 of those 40 players never taste the bigs. And even then, who knows when that fourth rounder (Brandon Crawford), fifth rounder (Brandon Belt), or 28th rounder (Sergio Romo) will make a huge impact? Heck, even that 50th rounder (Marvin Benard!). So, to help you look ahead, here are the things you need to know about the Giants draft this year.
Positioning Some High School Picks
The Giants taking Christian Arroyo in the first round marked the first time the Giants went with a high school position player in the first round since 1998, when they selected Tony Torcato. That pick didn’t work out so well in the end, as Torcato only managed to grab cups of coffee in four major league seasons from 2002-2005 (all with the Giants), making just 53 plate appearances and putting up a .298/.346/.340 slash line.
But that’s not all. It’s the first time since 1974 that the Giants have used their top two picks on high school position players, when the Giants picked up second baseman Terry Lee and catcher Kenny Kolkhorst in the first and second rounds, respectively. Neither Lee nor Kolkhorst ever made the majors with any franchise.
Mid and Late Round Sleepers
• Dan Slania (5th Round) – Slania was a college reliever (something the Giants targeted often in the draft), working as Notre Dame’s closer. What makes Slania stand out is good mechanics, good velocity (mid-90’s) and a real strikeout pitch with a slider. The only question with him is do the Giants try to convert him to starter or not?
• Tyler Horan (8th Round) – The Giants love the Cape Cod League, the premier wood-bat summer league and a place to see how hitters will hit without the aluminum colleges use. Horan led the Cape Cod league in home runs. Horan has great batspeed and an easy, pure swing. Unlike many Giants picks, however, Horan is not a great athlete and will be stuck to left field, being forced to move solely on his power hitting. But he has real power.
• John Riley (31st Round) – Baseball America ranked him as their #150 draft prospect. He was picked at #942 overall. This high school catcher has some power in his swing, though he’s a bit raw both at the plate and behind it. He’s considered signable away from his commitment to Cal, although it will be interesting to see how the low round he was picked at will affect that. The Giants made a steal in the 26th round of 2011 when they picked, and signed, Clayton Blackburn. Riley could be another impact high schooler who is a steal late.
So You Think The Giants Could Have Gotten Their Top Picks Later In The Draft…
It’s noted above that John Riley was a bit of a steal, as the #150 prospect (as ranked by Baseball America) and not going until close to the 1,000th pick overall. But this gets even more intriguing. BA’s writeup, which happens weeks before the draft, connected Riley to the Giants as the team that liked him best. They suggested the Giants might draft him “As high as the second round.” Well, it seems they made the right risk in waiting on a player in this draft…if he decides to sign.
Flights on Height
The Giants sure were trying to find some tall pitchers on the mound. The looks at tall pitchers started on Day 2, as the Giants 6’5” right hander Daniel Slania, a reliever out of Notre Dame (who might be looked at as a starter) in the fifth round. Not long after in the ninth round, the Giants picked up 6’6” southpaw Donald Snelten out of Minnesota. But in Day 3, things picked up. There was:
• 13th rounder 6’5” righty Pat Young from Villanova;
• 14th round Nick Jones, a 6’6” left-hander from Alabama’s Chattahoochee Valley Community College;
• Stanford’s lefty 6’8” Garrett Hughes in the 19th round;
• 6’5” righty Ethan Miller from San Diego State in the 22nd round;
• 6’7” Dylan Brooks, a right-hander from Canada’s Lord Dorchester SS in the 30th round;
• And then they topped it off (literally) with 6’9” Christopher Viall from Soquel High School here in Northern California, another right-hander.
While the Giants didn’t pick Hillsborough’s Matt Krook as many mock drafts predicted, the Giants did pick several local players. The Giants went to the Stanford well twice, with first baseman Brian Ragira in the fourth round and RHP Garrett Hughes in the 19th round. In addition to this, they picked up Willow Glen High School (San Jose) catcher John Riley in the 31st round, Burlingame High School RHP Grant Goodman in the 36th round, Soquel High School RHP Christopher Viall in the 39th round, and Granada High School (Livermore) outfielder Ryan Kirby in the 40th and final round.
If you want to stretch things out, you could also include 3rd round pick Chase Johnson, a RHP from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (Hey, it’s closer than Los Angeles). And you could also point out that the 2nd round pick Ryder Jones, a high schooler from North Carolina, is committed to Stanford.
High School players drafted late are usually unlikely to sign, but the local connection may tempt one or two of them to take a chance.
Playing the Cardinal (not the St. Louis variety)
As mentioned, the Giants took two players from nearby college baseball power Stanford University, in the fourth and 19th rounds respectively. The last time the Giants picked up a player from Stanford was in 2011, on 42nd rounder Danny Sandbrink, a right-handed pitcher currently in the San Jose bullpen. Before that, the Giants hadn’t picked someone from Stanford since 1989, when the picked up second baseman Frank Carey in the 8th round.
Brian Ragira in the fourth round is the highest pick of a Stanford player ever by the Giants, and this is also the first time they’ve drafted two Stanford players in the same draft.
The Name Game
Here are the best names found on the Giants draft list.
• Nick Vander Tuig (6th round, UCLA) – Who doesn’t want to see a matchup between Yasiel Puig and Vander Tuig now?
• Johneshwy Fargas (11th round, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy) – It’s good news that Augusta no longer has baseball on the radio, because their announcers would be on the DL with a tongue-twist-sprain on this name.
• Brandon Zajac (23rd round, Cleveland State CC in Tennessee, of course) – One of two Brandons, but you have to love a ‘Z’ last name.
• Chattahoochee Valley Community College (14th round pick Nick Jones) – Funny names are not the province of players. The baseball draft is a great list of small school names as well.
The Final Numbers
14 – High School Picks
3 – Community College Picks
23 – College Picks
15 Right-Handed Pitchers
6 Left-Handed Pitchers
Christian Arroyo is a solid defensive shortstop who can hit well, but not for power. There are a lot of questions about him, and even more questions about the Giants’ mentality. So let’s look at a scouting report, and then translate it.
He doesn’t stand out for his tools as much as his good baseball instincts and his ability to seemingly rise to the occasion.
Uh oh. You rarely hear anyone talk about baseball instincts with a top prospect, or much of anyone in the first round.
Arroyo likely won’t ever have much power, but makes good contact and covers the plate well.
The Giants have fallen in love with Scutaro-style players.
He makes all the routine plays and has solid range.
He can play shortstop. But if he follows Brandon Crawford out there, he’s going to look awful.
He is committed to Florida.
Means nothing. Every high schooler’s committed somewhere.
Baseball America ranked Arroyo 102nd, Keith Law had him 99th.
And the Giants took him 25th.
Looking at the video, you’ve got a player who is pretty mechanically sound. It’s not a perfect swing, but it’s good. The batspeed doesn’t seem as good in this video as I see in others, but that’s where the proclamations about his lack of power comes from. If he can maintain good bat control, he can be a Marco Scutaro kind of player. At least, at his ceiling.
Is that worth a first rounder? One with several other young hitters with higher, riskier ceilings, or young pitchers with promise? To a degree, this feels like a younger 2011 version of Joe Panik. Arroyo isn’t as polished, but could go further.
And there’s one other tidbit…
Christian Arroyo was salutatorian of his high school class with a 4.4 GPA and said his favorite class was AP Calculus.
— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) June 7, 2013
Smarts isn’t always the best thing for a ballplayer, but hopefully it means that the things that he has problems with, he can learn his way out of.
Any regrets aside, this is your 2013 San Francisco Giants first round pick.