Saturday, July 26, 2014

Peavy, Uggla are low risk

Firstly, if you haven't read my piece about Mike Krukow. Please do so here. 

Now onto other stuff.

I wasn't very happy about the Dan Uggla addition. I felt like it reeked of desperation and that he wasn't much of an upgrade over Brandon Hicks or Adrianza. Maybe it's true. Maybe he won't find any semblance of his long lost stroke, and he'll strike his way out of his minor league deal. Who the hell knows? It's worth a shot, as Adrianza and the sadly broken Marco Scutaro have shuffled their way onto the DL, leaving a black vortex vacuum tornado thing at second base.

As Bochy told Kuip during the KNBR pregame show on Friday, "We're a little desperate, to be honest."

Well, I appreciate honesty. It's the same kind of honesty we've been getting from Brian Sabean during interviews. The ones where he essentially says, "Look our prospects aren't very good. We don't have a lot to trade. If we do try to get a Zobrist or a Price, or an Utley, we'll gut our system that sucked to begin with. Plus I've got an assload of money committed next year to guys like Cain, and I still have to figure out what to do with Panda, Morse, and Vogelsong's spot in the rotation. So just chill out and let me work."

I like when Sabean is honest.

For all of our trials and tribulations this season, it's still not that bad. The Blue Bastards aren't going away, but even after Friday's loss, the Giants are still in 1st place. Pretty remarkable for how bad they've been. That is simply a testament to A) How underachieving the Doyers are and B) How good this team was while firing on all cylinders.

Those cylinders may not ever be fully repaired this season, because labor costs are a bitch. So let's just rent a decent car in the meantime, alright?

Once you get to the Hertz counter though, you're like, "God renting a Chrysler 300 is expensive. That's like $300 a day! WTF? I could lease one for $300 a month! Okay, fine, I'll settle for the non-premium full-sized model. Those new Impalas are pretty handsome..."

Jake Peavy is an expensive rental, but he's a veteran, a former Cy Young winner, and an experienced NL West arm. Maybe something will click and he'll feel reborn. His 1-9 record doesn't look good at all, but his team sucked this year, and looking at his peripherals, it looks like he's had some bad luck. He also had to pitch in the AL East. Which is littered with hitters' parks and big time sluggers.

I'm not going to pore over stats here, but I'll say that yes, he's lost a lot off his fastball. It's the same issue Lincecum and Cain are learning to pitch with. It doesn't have the same effectiveness that it once did, forcing him to work with more offspeed stuff, which inevitably leads to more walks and hanging pitches that get clubbed.

But look, it's Peavy or Petit... or Kickham while Cain is out. The truth is unfortunately, we don't know what we can expect from Cain the rest of this season. It's a no brainer to me.
Hembree during his callup last year.

The other side of this is the prospects that we had to give up, Heath Hembree and Edwin Escobar.

I won't sit here and claim to be an expert on what these minor leaguers project as. I'm not a scout. I don't go and watch these guys pitch. All I can do is regurgitate what the experts say.

What the experts say is that Hembree projects to be a decent reliever. His ceiling is a decent closer or setup man, and his floor is an average right handed reliever.

We've heard about Hembree for years, and yet he's not a big leaguer. He has an ERA near 4.00 this year, and I think it's about damn time that he figured this stuff out, because he's apparently had the ability and arsenal to be successful this whole time.

Secondly, Edwin Escobar, a southpaw starter in AA who is related to Kelvim and Alcides Escobar is rated as the Giants' #2 prospect overall, went to Boston in the Peavy deal.

Seems steep.

Well it is and it isn't.

Baseball America seems to think the guy's ceiling is as a 4th starter. That's nothing to scoff at, but it's also pretty indicative of how absolutely piss poor this farm system is. Just as an example, our second best prospect projects as a 4th starter, and our best prospect, Kyle Crick, has some scouts wondering if he's a back of the bullpen reliever, and possibly not even a starter.

Recently the A's traded shortstop Addison Russell to the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija. He was their top prospect. Billy Beane says he's the next Barry Larkin.

Who does Kyle Crick project to be?  Escobar?

Certainly nowhere near the breadth of a Barry Larkin-type comparison.

That's why prospect rankings are so relative. This top prospect is Barry Larkin and the other one is Chad Qualls.

So yes, we gave up some solid prospects for Peavy, but as we know, starting pitching doesn't grow on trees and you have to give up something to get something. The Cardinals were also in on Peavy, and undoubtedly drove the price up. In addition, this team just doesn't have the pieces to make a huge Samardzija or Price move work. It's simply not possible.

So look, the team has plugged a couple of former all-stars into the dike's holes for now, and it's not very sexy, but it's going to have to do, because Zobrist and Price ain't walking through that door unless the Rays are in town.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Why Krukow's revelation nearly brought me to tears

I'm not a crier.

I'm a dude. I love baseball and beer, and Eddie Money and smoking pork shoulder for half a day, and I love football and America and hating the Dodgers.

I'm a lot of things, but I'm not a crier.

This is why I was so shocked at how absolutely emotional I became when I heard about Mike Krukow's degenerative muscle disease.

I was driving to work listening to KNBR, and I was nearly brought to tears. 

I got that weird feeling with the lump in the throat and the misty eyes. I was just plain crushed. Later in the day, I began to come to grips with my reaction and why I felt so horrible.

I just love Mike Krukow. That's what it is. I literally love the guy. I also love Duane Kuiper and Jon Miller, even Flemming.

I don't know about you guys, but these guys are a huge part of my life. I listen to them almost every day, and I can't remember a time where I didn't hear them broadcast a game 140+ days a year. Although I've never met them and they wouldn't know me from Adam, they are, in a way, family.

Kruk & Kuip are just the best. They really are. They make watching a game exponentially better. There is no better team in the world to broadcast a sport than these two, it's a fact. We're truly privileged to have our Giants games enhanced like this. 

This duo makes us laugh, they keep us positive, they keep us entertained. They were just as excited as us to win those championships. They're with us through the good times, and the horrendous ones. Hell. We can turn off the game if it becomes too much. They're the ones that are subjected to it until the end.

They're also great friends outside the booth-- just like we imagine them to be. Why don't you ask Steve Stone if he hangs out with Hawk Harrelson outside the booth. The answer would be a defeated but resounding 'no'-- probably with an extended sigh at the end.

That's why the part of CW Nevius's article about Kuiper being a "sherpa" and carrying Mike's bags for him-- because that's what teammates do-- gave me that same choked up feeling I got while I was driving. 

The idea that Mike Krukow, the funniest, most baseball loving-ist guy ever won't one day be able to toss a baseball in the booth or show someone how to throw a curveball is just plain heartbreaking. The idea that he some day soon won't be able to play golf or guitar or throw a baseball with his grandkids is just plain depressing.

No, he's not dying. No, he's not retiring from broadcasting. He's going to be okay for the most part.

It just really sucks.

Perhaps there's a bit of selfishness embedded in my feelings. 

I just recently came to terms with the fact that I didn't want anything to happen to Kruk, partially because my Giants experience wouldn't be as good. If he lost his trademark enthusiasm and humor, games just wouldn't be the same. Who would blame him if he did?

Fortunately, ol' Kruk doesn't show any signs of slowing down. In fact, it occurred to me that if there's a solitary soul in this world that could overcome such a lousy thing with flying colors, it'd be Mike Krukow.

Look at him after 13 inning games on the postgame wrap. He's still yukkin' and yakkin' with Flemming like it was the first inning, while Kuip is hilariously hunched over, ready for bed, and Miller stays as professional as possible. It's just plain remarkable.

As he told Bruce Jenkins of the Chronicle, "I'm the luckiest guy in the world - again," he said. "All I need to do is get in that room and talk baseball. It's my island. Once I get behind that chair, I am bulletproof, man. I am a young, vibrant man."

That's why I know I won't have to worry about Kruk. He's going to suck it up, the way I wouldn't be able to. He's going to keep entertaining us and keeping us positive, even when we feel like the sky is falling over some meaningless lousy road trip-- not because we want him to, but because he needs to.

It's the epitome of irony that someone who actually has the sky falling on him incrementally, to the point of an eventual wheelchair reality, won't lose the very things that have made him so beloved to so many.

And that, my friends, is why I love Mike Krukow.

Never change, Meat.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ballpark Review - Chase Field

I witnessed a rare thing last Saturday. A Giants win. They've been few and far between these days, so I was thrilled to have seen it in person in Phoenix-- especially after witnessing their 456th loss in a row on Friday. It felt even better to win because I was surrounded by so many Giants fans. It felt like like a home game in many respects.

I haven't been to Arizona since I was a kid, so I was excited to check out Chase Field on a recent vacation there. We went to visit family, but I made sure to go only when the Giants were in town. Everything aligned perfectly for the June 20-22 series against the Diamondbacks.

Panorama with my phone. Notice all the orange?

I unfortunately didn't get to the yard early enough both days to do a full walkthrough of the park and check out the outfield or upper deck sections, which I like to do, but I had amazing seats for both games near the Giants dugout.

Firstly, on my way to the game, coming from the South off of I-17, I was completely shocked to see what a horrible area lies just to the South and West of Chase Field. We're talking hideous industrial/abandoned/razor wire slums that look like a desert-baked version of the hell surrounding the Oakland Coliseum or 1990s Downtown LA-- you know, before the hipsters moved in. I could not believe that an area so close to a ballpark that's been there since 1998 didn't revitalize one iota. There's no two ways about it, coming from that direction is just ugly.

That's pretty much where my complaints end though.

Once you locate somewhere to park-- either private lots along the way for $5-10 bucks (really!) or team-run parking structures, you're only a short walk to the park.

They give us nice graphics with the Golden Gate Bridge.

The first game, we parked in a 6 story team-run structure located directly across the street, and paid TEN DOLLARS! I can't even process how amazing that feels. In case you've lost touch, the Giants now charge $35 to park in their lots, and the walk is 2-3 times longer to the park, while the surrounding lots on the Embarcadero charge $20 for the privilege of you walking a mile past the really nice buildings and the inexplicable sewer smells.

The second night, Saturday, the garage we had previously parked in was reserved for parking pass holders only, so we drove across the street to the US Airways Center, home of the Suns, and parked there for $10. The garage was open because I believe their Arena Football team was playing that night.

From the arena structure, you're officially on the good side of town, and you walk past bars of boozers with misting machines and people selling Costco bottled water out of coolers for a dollar. It was a good scene.

One of the things I really liked was the area at the mouth of the ballpark. There's a restaurant/bar and they have bands that are playing live music right outside the entrance. It's foot traffic only, and with heavily attended games like we went to, it was actually a really cool atmosphere. Also, there were ZERO BUMS anywhere before the games and only a couple after. This was a very nice change from SF, where you have to walk past all the sad beggars with cats and dogs and missing limbs that you simultaneously feel horrible for and are sickened by at the same time. It's just not fun.

Walking into Chase Field is a very odd experience. The only other retractable roof stadium I've been to is Miller Park in Milwaukee. In Miller's case, the entrance into the ballpark feels similar, and you do feel indoors, but it's not quite as drastic a change.

Arizona is a place of contrasts. Outside, everything is dry and dead. Inside, everything is cool and nice. Somehow, cool clean water flows from your faucet indoors as the convection oven of an environment stirs up dust devils and dehydrates human beings outside.

That's the effect you get going into Chase Field-- out of the convection oven and into the-- shopping mall? Hockey arena? Oh right. Baseball stadium. It's a baseball stadium.

It's 105 outside, they scan your ticket, and you walk into 78 inside. It's awesome and weird at the same time.

Joe Panik's 1st ML AB!
Also awesome and weird are the wide concourses and corridors-- places where I could impersonate a California Condor or gesture wildly without fear of hitting another fan accidentally. This contrasts sharply with AT&T's extremely intimate concourses where we shuffle slowly amidst a sea of orange and black, trying not to run into anyone.

My girlfriend's favorite part though, was the lack of lines at the ladies rooms. I have to say, I too enjoyed not waiting 57 minutes for her to fight her way through lines extending 20 feet beyond the boundaries of the actual restroom.

Here's a novel idea! There are enough bathrooms and stalls and urinals for every man, woman, and child in the ballpark, and the lines are non-existent. Even when the lower bowl of the stadium was completely full of people, neither of us waited at all to pee at either game. I have to say, well done, Chase Field. I don't know how AT&T can improve on this, but they have to try. It's kinda ridiculous.

As far as the food, there are ample options everywhere. Maybe there aren't Cha-Cha Bowls or other interesting fare, but they have two foot corndogs and $30 massive Sonora Hot Dogs, and a frozen margarita guy with a tank on his back, and they also have garlic fries (which I'll get to in a moment).

Oh yeah and they have beer vendors in the stands.

I do NOT understand why California stadiums don't allow guys to sell beers to us in the seats. I try to be professional and not swear on this blog, but this is absolute HORSESHIT.

Do you have any idea how nice it is to flag down a beer man from the comfort of your seat? To order a rally beer during the game without sticking your ass in peoples' faces and inconveniencing everyone just to get a beverage?

Well I'm sick of this. CA needs to change its laws, and if it's not a law, then these stadiums need to get it together. We're going to drink beer at games regardless.  

Improve our quality of life, bring back our mobile beer vendors!

Back to the food though....

I intentionally didn't order the garlic fries at Chase, because I didn't want them to be better than what I'm used to-- which sets the bar pretty low. Unfortunately, AT&T's garlic fries have gone downhill these days. The Gordon Biersch days from Candlestick ain't walking through that door. Now they're prepared way in advance and for $8.50, you get soggy, cold fries that have a cup of raw garlic dumped on top of them. Sad, actually.

What I did get at Chase that I loved, was Fatburger-- which was the best ballpark burger I've ever gotten. Not quite In-N-Out, but very good. I mentioned this on Twitter, and received a couple responses that Fatburger was really good, but Shake Shack at Citi Field was better. Good to know. I look forward to trying it someday.

Obviously, the roof was closed for both games, and it is definitely a different experience seeing a game indoors. It's actually tough to quantify for people used to normal outdoor baseball. It's weird, but so, so comfortable. No fog, no sun, just baseball. It's not right, I know, but I could get used to it I suppose.

I also could get used to sitting in great seats all the time, which brings me to my next thought.

View from my "upgraded" seats via the MLB Ballpark App.
I want to make you guys aware of the MLB at the Ballpark App, which allows you to upgrade your seats. For those of you who don't know about it, you wait until exactly 30 minutes before 1st pitch, you "check in", and then click "upgrade my seats". This allows you to pick a general area to upgrade to. In my case, we had purchased cheap nosebleeds, and upgraded to the 16th row behind the Giants dugout for $20 extra per ticket. So essentially, for $40 a ticket, I sat in those seats. One helluva deal. Not sure how it will work here in SF, but I'd imagine places with fewer sellouts would offer ample opportunities for amazing seats.

The fans in Arizona are pretty passive. Probably half the people in the area are transplants, and it takes years and years to cultivate a fanbase. I don't necessarily blame them for being passive either, considering the crowd was between 30-60% Giants fans. I mean, what are they going to do? Try and shout us down? Be mean to us? It's futile. One of the craziest things I've ever seen.

You know when you're at a random ballpark and you see another Giants fan? You high five them, maybe ask them where they're from, whatever. Well every other person at Chase Field was a Giants fan, so it wasn't something you needed to do. Again, very comfortable place to watch a game.

On Friday, after they lost, we stuck around for the postgame fireworks show. They opened the roof, kicked the A/C onto full blast, and put on a pretty epic show by blasting them off the roof of the adjacent parking structure. And yes, the fireworks show was set to the Frozen soundtrack. Ah the irony.

I definitely enjoyed my time at Chase Field. I imagine the atmosphere to suck during a weekday game without anyone there, but we probably saw it at its best, with the Giants in town.

I did like a lot of the things about it-- it costs way less to go and sit in good seats, the concourses and bathrooms are easy to navigate, and you don't have to worry about people being rude or jerks. However, it just doesn't feel quite right. As comfortable as it is, baseball wasn't made to be played without sun or wind or fog. Nothing compares to the charm of and intimacy of AT&T Park, and comparing anything else to it just isn't fair.





Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A tale of two teams

What on earth is going on with the Giants? One minute, they're literally the best baseball team on the planet that can't lose. The next thing you know, they're basically the worst. It's time for medication-- for them and for us.

If there's one thing I can't stand, it's being jerked around. I can't stand you agree on one thing with someone, and the plan changes at the last minute. I want things planned out, so that nothing is left to chance. That's why I bring my auxiliary audio cord AND my USB cable with me on vacation in case my rental car doesn't have Bluetooth Audio or SXM.

Well, the Giants in this case had all the bells and whistles going, and my rental car was awesome. But something happened along the way, the screen went dark, and now I'm fashioning a noose out of my aux cord because of the lack of tunes.

Baseball is a harsh mistress sometimes.

There's really no way to explain how a team begins to collectively suck at the same time. It just happens I guess. It's the same thing that went on when we couldn't lose.

Unfortunately, now we're on a horrendous downslide.

The starting pitching has been horrendous, with an ERA hovering around 6.00. The hitting has been hit or miss, the power has disappeared. Their mojo has been lost.

You can blame it on Pagan's absence only to a certain degree-- because Pagan doesn't pitch. You can say we miss Belt, and we do, but Belt could hardly make a dent in these losing ways.

It all comes down to pitching, and until this rotation begins to not suck, we're in for an ugly second half of the season.




Monday, June 16, 2014

Giants do something cool, sign Cuban dude

Daniel Carbonell is his name, being a good athlete is his game.

The Giants indeed did something cool today by signing a Cuban defector of their own, someone who looks like a serious speedster-- the latest and greatest import from the embargoed island.

There isn't a lot of video on him out there, but from the little highlight video put together by his handlers in Mexico, where he established residency, it looks like this guy could be a player.

Check it out below (embedded) or click here to go to YouTube.



First of all, this guy has a seriously chisled frame, and he looks really fast. Secondly, he has a great first name. Thirdly, I didn't see a bat flip once during the whole video! Let's hope his idols are Cespedes and Abreu instead of Chapman and Puig.

I feel like I'm off my game, because I honestly hadn't heard of this guy. He obviously didn't come with the fanfare of other guys like Dickhead Puig, Chapman, Abreu, Cespedes, or even Jorge Soler of the Cubs. Carbonell seemed to be a bit under the radar. Perhaps that's because he's not a big slugger, perhaps it's because the scouting community isn't sold on him.

According to this article by John McGrath of the Tacoma News Tribune, the Mariners were in on him big time as well, and he provides some good info that fills in the blanks.

From McGrath:

"Waiting in the wings — or, more accurately, in Mexico, where he has established residence — is 23-year-old Daniel Carbonell, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound outfielder who apparently has everything in the toolbox but 30-homer power. Otherwise, he’s a high-contact switch hitter with exceptional speed, a superior glove and an arm few base runners figure to challenge.
...
But Carbonell is an impressive athlete, and judging from his interaction with bystanders — he was shown signing autographs for kids and hugging their great-grandmothers — he can always consider a future as the Pope if the baseball thing doesn’t pan out."
I also find it interesting that the only teams that showed public interest were Seattle, the Yankees, and Minnesota. Looks like the Giants kinda flew in under the radar and made a power move. Something that really impresses me.

There honestly isn't that much out there about him, so we're just going to have to wait for all the details to come out. What we do know is that Carbonell is on the Giants 40 man roster, and got a pretty team-friendly deal (see Hank Schulman tweets below).

There is this from Baseball America as well-- just to piss on our parade a little bit. God they're always so negative:

"According to several scouts, Carbonell looks good in a workout, where he can showcase his athleticism and blazing speed, but there are reservations about his hitting. One scout clocked him going from home to first from the right side in 4.0 seconds, which translates to 80 speed on the 20-80 scale. With an arm that scouts have thrown average to plus grades on, Carbonell has the tools to be a good defensive center fielder. He has 50-55 raw power, but scouts have been hesitant to warm up to his bat. Carbonell has been switch-hitting, with scouts saying he struggles to hit righthanded and that he may have to drop his lefty stroke altogether.

Carbonell does have tools to work with, and he will almost certainly start his career in the minors, with high Class A perhaps a fit given his present ability, though at 23 there may be a temptation to get him to Double-A. Some scouts think that if his bat comes around, he could develop into a fourth outfielder, possibly along the lines of Roger Bernadina, though Bernadina was more advanced at the same age."

This also means that his presence makes other positional prospects a little more expendable in the trade market-- especially outfielders. Not to say there's a ton of them in the Giants farm system, but you get what I'm saying.

Here are some other details from Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle via Twitter:



Obviously the jury is still out. He may pan out, he may not. Personally, I'm just excited that the Giants are being active on the international market-- especially on Cubans. They've missed out on all the guys I've mentioned before-- and if they could go back and do it again, I'm sure they'd be in.

Being proactive is a good thing, and I can't wait to see how this turns out.



Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/05/18/3200177/next-big-star-could-be-waiting.html#storylink=cpy




Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/05/18/3200177/next-big-star-could-be-waiting.html#storylink=cpy

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Giants clearly being targeted

Things are tense around baseball these days, no?

You've got Manny Machado being a dick against the A's multiple times, the Red Sox and Rays having an "unwritten rule" pissing contest, and now, twice in a few games, two different teams have intentionally drilled two of the Giants' best hitters.

Things are different than they used to be, that's for sure.

In the old days.. like 10 years ago... you used to be able to hit their guy after they hit yours. Then both sides would get a warning, and that would be that. Now a guy could be tossed immediately for an HBP without obvious intent (Bud Norris) or inexplicably allowed to stay in the game after an obvious beanball (David Price). You never know how umpires will deal with things these days.

What should've happened on Sunday after Wheeler hit Pence for no reason, is we hit one of their guys. On Monday, some no-name nutsac Washington reliever hits Morse for no reason. We should've hit Werth or LaRoche, or whomever. That's the way this should work.

And FYI, I'm not tossing around hitting someone with a 90+ mph fastball lightly. The fact remains that they did it first, this isn't tiddlywinks or some sissy 12 year-olds' soccer league in Mill Valley. This is the big leagues.

If they want to take umbrage at being disciplined within the diamond and want to throw hands, let hands be thrown, and you sort it out later. Baseball is a man's game, and if you allow people to take an inch without consequence, they'll take a mile, and you'll still have bruised ribs.

Unfortunately, you never know how self-policing in baseball will go these days.

Now you've got veteran umpires parading around creating umpshows and young umpires trying to assert control by wildly tossing around warnings and ejecting everyone in sight for protecting teammates.

The Giants have never been much on brawling or retaliation, but they have also not been a team that instigates things. I honestly can't name any events off the top of my head when we've had a pitcher purposefully hit someone out of the blue. I also can't name too many egregious in-game celebrations, dickhead Puigesque bat flips, or violations of unwritten rules.

To me, the Giants play the game the right way, and have so for years. I'm biased yes, but we're the good guys.

In fact, we're very good. 20 games over .500 good.

And that my friends, is why there's a giant target on their backs.

They're winning too much, smiling too much, and having too much fun for Zack Wheeler and the loser Mets or Aaron Barrett and the Gnats to handle.

Wheeler I suppose I get. He was beaten by the team that traded him, and he didn't like it. Okay, well next time be better. Don't drill someone in the ribs. That's called being poor sport and an asshole. It's immature, and Hunter Pence and I won't forget it.

Judging by this story though, this wasn't the first, and won't be the last time Zack Wheeler is involved in some sort of brouhaha. He managed to stir up "ethnic tensions" in the minors by drilling his own teammate. Maybe I don't mind the Beltran/Wheeler swap so much after all.

As for the Nationals, I don't know what Barrett was doing, and neither does Morse. For a guy who openly recounted fond memories to the D.C. media yesterday about his time with the Nats, he sure as heck couldn't understand why he was hit. You could see him afterwards in the dugout talking to Posey, staring out at the field with his face scrunched up into confusion.

Well, I'll answer your question sir. They hit you because you're good.

What I do know, is that Barrett clearly acted on his own accord or on behalf of a teammate. There's zero chance manager Matt Williams would call for a beanball out of the blue. He's better than that, and we all know it.

With Madison Bumgarner the only guy on the roster (RIP Eli Whiteside) that openly shows some will and fire to confront the forces of evil, he will likely be the only one who will do anything about the open season that has been declared on Giants hitters.


Bumgarner fears no evil.
Bruce Bochy can talk about how he didn't like these HBPs and Krukow can promise retribution from the booth, but we all know nothing will happen, and the Giants will do nothing. They never really have.

What they will do though is keep winning, and likely take the high road-- something I would be unable to do. More power to them though.





Monday, June 9, 2014

Like Morse, just enjoy the ride

There's really something to be said for being able to totally relax and enjoy what's going on around you. It's the way you feel on vacation, the way you feel when you gaze out at something beautiful with nowhere to be; your phone only making an appearance to take a picture because there's no service anyway.


It's an odd feeling-- almost surreal when it happens. But it just feels right.


That's the way I'm feeling when watching the Giants these days-- like I don't have a friggin care in the world and nowhere to be.

That's how good they've been.


Hell, even ESPN has noticed. That's how good they've been.
It's been awhile since my last post, partly because there's been no controversy, barely any conflict or poor decisions being made. It almost seems... do I dare say... easy.


In that last post, I wrote that the Giants would be alright without Brandon Belt. Not only have they been alright, they've hit some sort of zone, that can only be enhanced by Belty's return in a couple weeks.


It's difficult to even imagine that they'll be regaining another bat with superb defense when the current lineup has been so successful.


So much of that success can be attributed to Mike Morse and everything he does. He's played an admirable first base and left field, has absolutely raked the ball, and you can just tell, has had a huge impact on the Giants' clubhouse. He's having fun playing baseball and I'm having fun watching him.


It's unfortunate that he's only on a one year deal, because whatever magic Mike has brought to the clubhouse (see what I did there?) and to the lineup, I don't want it to end. Pay the man immediately.


Currently Morse ranks in the top 20 in all of MLB in HR, RBI, Slugging %, and OPS-- something this team has needed for years and years. Curiously though, for you Saberjerks, Morse is only a 0.9 WAR.


See, this is why I have a problem with that stat. It's not an end all be all, and there's exceptions to the rule. I won't go off on a huge tangent, but to say that Mike Morse has only been worth one extra win to this team is beyond absurd. He's been a shot of adrenaline into this lineup and a shot of tequila in the clubhouse. Plus he did this on Stan Lee / Superheroes Night. Hulk status.


 
There of course have been others that have been amazing additions this season-- most notably the ageless Tim Hudson, who has pitched like a Cy Young candidate. However, there's one other guy that has essentially been an addition that I'd like to talk about.

Ryan Vogelsong.

Is he an addition? You betcha. Yah. *Fargo voice*

He may not be a new face around these parts, but Vogey's resurgence to an effective, chainsaw-angry member of the rotation has been huge, especially due to Cain's uneven season and Lincecum, well... being Lincecum.

Vogey currently sports a 3.39 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, with 7 of his 12 starts have been "quality".

His starts have been such a far cry from what we all expected from him, that's it's just gravy. I can't say for sure that he'll be able to keep this up all season, but his efforts have been absolutely huge so far. You could even argue he's been more helpful to the cause than Matt Cain, which is crazy. If Vogey keeps this up, even remotely close to what he's done thus far, the Giants' rotation will outperform expectations all season.

Outperforming expectations has been the name of the game so far, and it's just been plain fun to watch. Posey and Panda have hit rough patches this year at different times, but they've evened out. The Giants keep winning. Pence had a rough start. They win anyway. Belt goes down? No problem. Cain on the DL? Whatever. Buster and Pagan need days off? Oh well, they win without them. Blanco gets some starts? He's a catalyst all the sudden.

It's just insanity.

It's remarkable too how Bruce Bochy has been able to work guys in and out of the lineup lately without much consequence in the win column. It all just works out... and believe me, I've noticed.

Right after Lincecum gave up that first HR to Granderson:





That brings me back to my opening paragraph. You just need to sit back and enjoy the scenery. 21 games over .500 on June 8th is crazy, and it been thoroughly fun.

Part of my ability to just sit back and enjoy this is because we have those two big trophies from 2010 and 2012. Just as the second trophy validated the first, this great start is on its way to validating those other years.

When we won that 2nd World Series, it felt different than the first one. The first one was insane... even with a commanding series lead over Texas, it was gut-wrenching and nail-biting until that final out. With the second one, a feeling a confidence swept over me after we won the first two games. Because even if something bad happened and they blew it, we'd always have 2010. I was able to drink and joke with people against the Tigers without having to get a referral to a cardiologist. It was just plain more fun.

Now, back in an even year, those first two trophies are the Fort Knox full of gold bars that backs up this 2014 currency. I'm able to enjoy it more because I still feel like we're playing with house money. And that my friends, is priceless.