Friday, September 24, 2010
Yeaaaah, I'm gonna have to go ahead and ask baseball writers to... yeah... come in on Saturday... and do a little research. Yeaaaah. Thanks!
Well. You heard Lumberg. It's time for the absurdly biased sports media to pay attention not only to the Giants and the NL West race, but to Buster Posey and his incredible season.
I know he doesn't look like Dwight Howard in a baseball uniform or play in the Eastern Time Zone. I know he doesn't act like Kenny Powers, and he doesn't have sideburns like Joe Mauer. But Good Lord, if we're talking about the rookie of the year race and whether or not Buster Posey is a future perennial all-star, there's no argument to the contrary.
Since the moment the Giants drafted this guy, we've been salivating over his skill set and potential. Rightfully so apparently. His polished approach at the plate and soft hands behind it put him in such elite company already--- in his first year--- that you'd be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of catchers or young players that you'd rather have instead of Posey.
Let's just throw out a quick list, just for fun, of the top catchers in the world.
That's it. Seriously. That is the list of desirable catchers in the entire league. Is that ridiculous or what?
--Mauer and McCann are in a class of their own. They are truly the two best in baseball right now.
--Suzuki of the A's is a great player, but certainly not in the class of the first two, and is closer to Yadier Molina in ability.
--Napoli, Martinez, and Posada can hit, but can't throw anyone out to save their lives.
--Wieters and Soto are slow to develop and are inconsistent despite their talent.
Honestly? I put Posey on that list at number 3. Right here, right now, as a rookie, Buster is only behind MVP Joe Mauer and all-star Brian McCann. Simply awe inspiring.
As for Buster's rookie of the year competition, it really comes down to one guy: Jason Heyward.
I'm as big a Heyward fan as any. Like Posey, he too is a Georgia boy, a fan favorite, and has drool-inducing physical skills and talent. There is no doubt that Heyward will be very good for a very long time. He respects history and has a high baseball IQ, plays the game the right way, isn't cocky or flashy, and is generally the prototype for a baseball player.
He garnered 10 times the hype Buster did. Perhaps it's because the Braves have a higher profile than the Giants (for some unknown reason). Perhaps it's because the Braves are always on TV, or that they are in the Eastern Time Zone. Perhaps it's because he started the year with the club and hit a monstrous home run in his first game. Or maybe it is all those things PLUS the fact that from far away, it really does look like Dwight Howard in a baseball uniform.
It's time to look at some stats. I put effort into this, so read AND digest them! I'll even include some Saberjerk Fangraph stats for you nerds/fruitcakes that hate RBIs.
Heyward leads in all cumulative categories... as he should. The guy has over 100 more AB's than Posey. The argument to be made, other than Posey's defensive abilities and exponentially more important position, is that Posey has done more in less time.
But what about Buster's rates and percentages? They're higher/better than Heyward's, What if they had the same amount of AB's?
To demonstrate this argument, I have adjusted Heyward's stats to what they would look like in the amount of AB's that Buster has taken. So basically, Buster has 77% of the AB's that Heyward's had, and this is what Heyward's stats would look like in the same amount of AB's. Not perfect, but it helps illustrate how incredible Posey has been, and shows his production rate.
Very intriguing indeed.
The other argument in favor of Posey is his position. I mean come on. There really is no argument. To produce at Posey's clip while catching one of the most prolific pitching staffs in the world, and throwing out would be base stealers left and right is truly impressive. Not only that, but the physical demands of getting down in a Saigon Squat for 9 innings a day, taking foul balls to the mask and getting bruised up on the regular basis makes the argument even stronger for Posey.
Heyward has played a good right field, and he's got a great arm, but the sheer rigors and demands of playing catcher full time are in a whole 'nother stratosphere. In addition, we forget that Buster has also played a flawless first base from time to time, a new position.
There have been a ton of good rookies this year, particularly in the National League. Jaime Garcia, Stephen Strasburg, Michael Stanton, Madison Bumgarner and others have definitely impressed, but when it comes down to what Buster Posey means to the Giants, it is no contest. He single handedly beat the Cubs the other day, and has meant more to the Giants than any other hitter. While Heyward's bat and presence in RF could be replaced, Posey's could not.
Isn't that the definition of value? Buster for ROY.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Let's tip our hats, and raise our glasses of cold, cold beer. They say we're fading, but we're still waving that flag around here...
I had to paraphrase a little Eric Church there to help express how we should be feeling both about the Giants and the job Brian Sabean has done to improve this roster.
It was not long ago that Sabes could do no right in the eyes of many-- seen as a has been, a hack, or a never was.
I'll say this. The man has swung and missed on a number of big contracts over the years. Edgardo Alfonzo, Armando Benitez, Barry Zito, Aaron Rowand, Mark DeRosa, and possibly Jeremy Affeldt's 2010 off-season extension. Although these type of contracts have hamstrung the payroll, it's the little pieces that seem to even things out.
Despite Sabean's high-dollar mistakes, he has managed to outsmart and out-gamble the entire league in respect to shrewd pickups and "Aw, what the hell? Why not?" moves. What I am most impressed by, especially this season, has been the organizational ability to resurrect careers and launch others simply by giving guys a shot.
In the fluidity of the interminably long baseball season, we forget the changes that have taken place, and just accept them as normal... as if they'd been there all along. It's difficult not to. For God's sake, April was what? Five months ago? Just to refresh our collective memory, let's look at the 2010 San Francisco Giants Opening Day Roster (*Renel voice*)!
Aubrey Huff, Travis Ishikawa, Edgar Renteria, Pablo Sandoval, Juan Uribe, John Bowker, Mark DeRosa, Aaron Rowand, Nate Schierholtz, Eugenio Velez, Andres Torres, Bengie Molina, Eli Whiteside
Freddy Sanchez, Fred Lewis, Manny Burriss
Jeremy Affeldt, Waldis Joaquin, Brandon Medders, Sergio Romo, Guillermo Mota, Dan Runzler, Brian Wilson
Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Todd Wellemeyer
By my count, that is 4 guys either with another organization or out of baseball, 1 guy on the DL for the season, and 4 guys in the minors with no reason to be brought back up.
Then of course there was Denny Bautista, a righty out of the pen trying to make it back, whose stint with the Giants was highlighted by an asinine performance in Colorado, and a next day release.
And, look! How gross was this opening day lineup?
The mere sight of Aaron Rowand makes us sick these days, and Renteria isn't far behind. With these two at the top of the lineup, we were guaranteed a championship! Man...
So many things have happened since then! Bear with me! It's worth it!
-- Fred Lewis was traded to the Blue Jays
-- 2B Freddy Sanchez returns from injury
-- DeRosa underwent surgery, out for season
-- Bowker never got to play, even though he won the job
-- Bowker sent down to Fresno
-- Andres Torres steals starts in CF from Rowand
-- Todd Wellemeyer draws the ire of Giants fans
-- Wellemeyer begins receiving threats
-- Torres takes over full time for Rowand in CF and leading off
-- Guillermo Mota, signed for nearly nothing, becomes important bullpen arm
-- Juan Uribe and Aubrey Huff carry the team
-- Santiago Casilla, who signed for nothing, is called up
-- Wellemeyer is injured in Cincinnati
-- Joe Martinez, not Madison Bumgarner is brought up to start
-- Posey is called up after feasting in Fresno
-- Joe Martinez is not very good
-- Pat Burrell is signed for the veteran's minimum after being released
-- Madison Bumgarner is called up
-- Wellemeyer is released
-- Bengie Molina is traded to Texas for Chris Ray
-- Pat Burrell becomes full-time LF
-- Denny Bautista is brought up to the bullpen
-- Bautista sucked
-- Bautista is released
-- Dontrelle Willis picked up off scrap heap and assigned to minors
-- Brian Wilson debuts his orange shoes
-- Posey is an absolute monster
-- Torres rules
-- Burrell is a beast
-- Runzler and Affeldt get hurt
-- Bowker and Martinez traded for Javier Lopez
-- Daniel Turpen traded to Red Sox for Ramon Ramirez
-- Evan Crawford traded to Cubs for Mike Fontenot
-- Jose Guillen acquired from Kansas City
-- Guillen trade finalized. Giants get slab of ribs. Royals get a fungo bat.
-- Cody Ross acquired
Pretty incredible transformation, I would say... and for what? Next to nothing!
Not only that, but geez, look at our bench now! (excluding Sept. callups)
Schierholtz, Rowand, Ishikawa, Renteria, Ross, Fontenot, Whiteside
Is it perfect? No. But it's as deep and defensive as anyone else's. Guys like Cody Ross and Mike Fontenot are luxury items off the bench... while Rowand is more of a $60MM lemon whose warranty just expired.
I don't want to ramble here, but we need to give credit where it's due. Sabean acquired/signed Santiago Casilla, Guillermo Mota, Pat Burrell, Chris Ray, Jose Guillen, Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez, Mike Fontenot, and Cody Ross for nearly nothing, and he deserves some plaudits.
Throw in the callups of Posey and Bumgarner, and that's like an entirely new team, all within the framework of 3 months.
Despite Sabean's shortcomings in doling out big contracts to old losers, I don't know too many GM's that can remake nearly half a roster in 3 months for next to nothing in blood and treasure, and get that new team into first place by September 21st. Not only that, but Sabean also managed to somehow IMPROVE clubhouse chemistry. It truly is unbelievable.
So cheers to Brian Sabean. You did good buddy. You did real good.
Monday, September 20, 2010
I have been meaning to write this post for about a week. Basically, I just wanted to say how proud I am of Giants fans that invaded Petco park for that pivotal series two weekends ago. It truly shows that our fanbase is the strongest in the National League West, and that we travel well. Not only that, but Giants fans managed to nearly outnumber Padres fans in their own park! During a pennant race!
Mychael Urban on CSNBayArea.com probably said it best on his blog:
"Good Lord, did the Orange and Black Faithful come strong. So one-sided was the crowd noise in San Francisco’s favor that you had to wonder if (a) there are a lot more Bay Area transplants down here than you can possibly imagine, or (b) Giants fans travel as well as the football fans at Wisconsin, University of Texas and Penn State combined.
There were indications even before the game that the Giants were going to enjoy a neutral-site vibe at worst."
Obviously San Diego is a smaller market, and it probably has a larger percentage of transplants that don't care about the Padres or Chargers, but good Lord, the way we dominated the crowd was unbelievable.
All the chants were Giants chants. Over half the crowd was decked out in orange, and I assume the Gas Lamp was also mostly orange those nights.
This SD Invasion also got to Padres closer Heath Bell, who Twittered:
That's right Heath. Those were Giants fans. I also have an account that at the airpot on Sunday night, a Southwest flight from San Diego to the Bay Area was roughly 75% Giants fans decked out in our colors... Anyway, here are some pictures from fans I know that made the trek down to San Diago. Thanks to Pete and Andrea...
And you can believe the Giants appreciated it. They all heard you guys and it fired them up... especially Krukow and Huff.