Is It Baseball Yet?

Once the new year arrives, my thoughts begin to focus on the upcoming baseball season.  Can you believe that pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in only 40 days???  And FanFest is even sooner than that.  I can’t wait to see my boys again after the long winter lull.

On the Hot Stove front, there hasn’t been much major going on since the Melancon acquisition.  However, one nugget of joy did fall into our Giants lap – my boy Michael Morse is back!  Granted he’s got a minor-league deal, but he’ll be at Spring Training and I’m so looking forward to seeing his smiling face there.  I bet Hunter Pence is thrilled to have his old buddy back again as well.  May the Morse be with you!  Odds of him actually making the team are pretty slim, but who cares! He’s back in the Bay Area!  I love that guy!  Besides Michael, the Giants also signed Jimmy Rollins and Justin Ruggiano to minor league deals.  Rollins spent most of his career with the Phillies, though he also played a season with the Dodgers (BOO!) and last season played 41 games with the White Sox.  The Rollins signing brings back memories of the Pat Burrell and Ryan Theriot signings – the Giants brought in guys who were once really good and tested them out to see if they had anything left in the tank.  Rollins’ season last year was not stellar (he batted .221) plus he’s 38 years old, but you never know what can happen on this team.  He’ll be battling for a backup infield spot.  Ruggiano has moved around and played on 7 different major league teams (including one season with the Dodgers – BOO!), and he’s also on the older side (34).  He has been a good hitter when he’s healthy (last season he was on the DL twice for shoulder and hamstring issues).  Plus he can play both corner outfield positions and first base.  So again, we’ll see if some magic can come to him this year – another Giant-like signing.  Trevor Brown will also be getting some competition as the Giants signed catcher Tim Federowicz to a minor league contract.  Besides his Triple A time, Federowicz has played in parts of 5 major league seasons, including 4 for the Dodgers (BOO!! – I sense a trend here!).  Unfortunately, his major league batting average is .194, but he’s hit over .300 while in the minors, so the Giants are hoping he can show them some pop when he competes for a spot on the team in the spring.

As far as rumors regarding potential signings, the Giants have expressed interest in slugger Mark Reynolds as a way of adding some power to the lineup.  Reynolds played for the Rockies last season and batted .282 with 14 homers and 53 RBI in 118 games.  That’s some pop right there!  I like pop!  He’s recently played at first base, but he could also play third, so potentially he could be a third base starter, sending Eduardo Nunez to the bench as a backup.  Also rumored as a person of interest to the Giants is Korean infielder Jae-gyun Hwang.  He would also be a potential third baseman.  He’s an unrestricted free agent, so he wouldn’t require a posting fee (and those can get pretty excessive!).  Last season in Korea, he hit .330 with 26 homeruns and 104 RBI in 118 games.  Granted the Korean League is known for being offense friendly, but those stats are still impressive.  We’ll see if the front office actually pursues either of these guys.  I’ll keep my ears open.

It breaks my heart to update you on this next item.  The wife of our beloved Andres Torres lost her battle with cancer on December 7th.  Soannie Torres was only 37 years old.  She had been fighting the disease since February.  Shortly before she died, the two renewed their wedding vows.  So touching.  Jorge Ortiz, a Bay Area sportswriter and friend of the Torres family, gave some insight into how Soannie helped Andres with his ADHD: “She would settle him down in a kind, caring way.  She once told me how sometimes he would get up in the middle of the night and start taking air swings, obsessively trying to hone his hitting skills, until she would implore him, ‘Yungo (his nickname), come to bed.”  The couple have two children, Diego (12) and Mia (4).  I was lucky enough to meet Andres in person, and he’s such a friendly and generous man.  This is such horrible news.  I send my deepest condolences to him, his children, and their family.

Switching over to the lighter side, I have several nuggets to share with you dealing with my boys.  Here’s a link that showcases Matt Moore’s offseason wiffle ball prowess.  Who would have known?  It’s tough to hit a wiffle ball that far!  Watch out, Madison!  Then there’s Johnny Cueto and a donkey right here.  True love.  Gosh, I miss watching that guy pitch!  Then there’s this letter that a young fan wrote to Bobby Evans trying to get him to sign Melancon.  Thanks, Kid!  Plus there’s one last article on how Melancon feels about coming to the Giants right here.  I know you’re probably tired of reading this stuff by now, but READ IT!  I almost didn’t, feeling that same way, but I’m so glad I did.  Love that guy even more now.  Plus I didn’t realize that he played on the Astros with Hunter.  There’s a great Hunter story in there.  Plus he mentions the kid that wrote to Bobby Evans – he’s going to be one pumped little boy!  READ IT!!

Also found out today that Kate Scott is leaving KNBR.  I knew that she was too talented to stay there for very long.  She’ll be calling women’s basketball games during the week and anchoring Sports Report on Sunday nights on the PAC-12 Network besides calling some WCC men’s games on CSNBA and CSNCA on Saturdays.  Busy girl!  Who’s going to keep those KNBR guys in line?  And who’s going to take over the MC job for the player interviews during FanFest?  She rocked that!  I’m super sad to hear she’s leaving, but she really deserves to move on to bigger and better things.  Best of luck on your new endeavors, Kate.  Still hoping to run into you at a Giants game one day.

I’ve noticed that even KNBR is starting to talk more about baseball now that 49er football is over.  So exciting!!  Can’t wait for Spring Training to get here.  I’m all set to go with my siblings to Arizona in mid-March.  Can feel the heat already!!  If anything exciting happens in the near future I’ll definitely let you know.  Gotta get my spit certificates ready to send out in early April!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

Bye, HestoPresto!

I wasn’t expecting any news so quickly after the Melancon signing, but Bobby Evans is definitely still at it.  This time the news isn’t as jaw dropping, though.  Chris Heston was traded to the Mariners today for a “player to be named later”.  It sounds like this was done in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Melancon.  I’ll never forget that no hitter he pitched 2 seasons ago, a prospect coming out of nowhere to help out in the rotation.  But he couldn’t handle being in the bullpen last season, his numbers weren’t anywhere near what they were in 2015, plus he spent most of the year on the DL with an oblique strain.  Hope he does well up there – apparently he’ll have a much better chance of getting on the 25-man roster in Seattle.  Good luck, Chris.  Thanks for the wonderful memories from that amazing game.  Now we just have to wait and see who that mystery player we’re getting will be.

I got a little more insight into the character of Mark Melancon from an interview that Tom Tolbert and John Lund from KNBR did with him.  That guy is definitely a thrill seeker!  He and his wife came up with a mutual bucket list when they got married.  Some of the things they have already crossed off are a safari, skydiving (only him), they rode down the most dangerous road in Bolivia on bikes, going in a shark cage, and a blimp ride.  Another he hasn’t yet done is going backstage at a concert, and he asked Tom and John if they could help him with that one.  He also mentioned that winning a World Series and meeting a president were also on there.  Hey, he could accomplish both with the Giants in one season!  And just in case you were wondering, his walk-up song is “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC.  He mentioned that Ryan Vogelsong helped sway him to join the Giants (they played on the Pirates together).  In fact, he said Ryan spoke of the Giants so much he started to get sick of it!  LOL!  Really looking forward to getting to know Mark better and watching him pitch FOR US!!

Another rumor that I’m not really surprised about is that Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, and Javier Lopez will most likely not be back next season.  After last year’s bullpen train wreck, I can’t say I’m very upset about this.  The blown saves killed Casilla’s chances of returning, Lopez’s ERA skyrocketed to 4.05, and Romo was starting to be predictable (plus his bad attitude and disrespect of Bochy started getting on my nerves).  Changes had to be made, and the Giants are opting to go with the youngins.  I’ll always remember the significant contributions that all three made to us winning those three rings.  I’m pretty sure if they want to continue playing, they will be picked up by some other team.  And when he retires, I’m sure Javi could easily slip into a broadcasting role – that dude is so intelligent!

The World Baseball Classic is back next season, running from March 6 – 22.  Last time it happened, several Giants players were involved, and there was some discussion about whether it negatively affected their seasons because of the increased playing time coming off an already extended season.  But they’re back at it again this year.  So far Buster will definitely be playing for the U.S., Johnny Cueto will pitch for the Dominican Republic, and Albert Suarez will play for Venezuela.  Brandon Crawford may also play for the U.S.  I love the fact that these guys will be representing their countries, but please, please, please, don’t get hurt!!  My favorite part of the WBC last time was watching the Latin fans in the stands – those folks love their baseball and show so much energy and emotion!  Fun times!  I hope some of the games are televised next year.

Will continue to keep you posted on the moving and shaking going on with my boys.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

It Never Fails!

It never fails – if I post a blog, the next day something important happens.  And boy did it happen today!  The Giants signed one of the guys they’ve had their eye on for a while to be their new closer.  Mark Melancon is now a Giant!  Giddy up!!  The Giants have signed him to a 4 year, $62 million deal, a record for a closer (but of course, this record will be shattered once Aroldis Chapman gets his deal).  This is such amazing news!  I mentioned his impressive stats yesterday.  I can’t help but wonder how many more games we would have won last season with him as our closer.  Add him to a full year of Matt Moore and possibly Ty Blach as starters next season and I think we’ll be in great shape.    Bobby Evans said, regarding the signing, “The core of our bullpen is in place.  We felt the closer was one area we didn’t want to have any doubt about.”  Just having such a strong closer will also help take the stress off the rest of the bullpen, who last season never knew if they would be called upon to pitch in the ninth inning.  Nice to have someone to count on in that role.  I don’t know much about Melancon (except I seem to recall that he doesn’t have much of a neck – sorry, Mark!) so I’m anxious to hear some interviews with him.  I’m sure that will be happening in the next few days.  I did find an article – 10 things you should know about him.  Pretty darn impressive.  Also found this video.  I like him already, especially the way he speaks of his wife.  And the guy sure is a thrill seeker!  He should fit right in with my boys, especially Jeff “Shark” Samardzija.  Haha!  Welcome to the team, Mark!  We’re so very glad you came!  I can breathe again!

I also heard some other trade rumors on KNBR this afternoon from John Lund.  He mentioned that the Giants are still interested in pursuing J.D. Martinez from the Tigers to bolster the outfield.  He’s a guy who could help both offensively and defensively while not breaking the bank.  I love that guy and chose him as a Beat the Streak pick several times, so I know he can hit.  Along with J.D., another possible target for the Giants is left-handed reliever and fellow initial user J.P. Howell.  He had a 4.09 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, and 44 strikeouts last season.  J.P. played for the Dodgers – always love taking players away from them!  Maybe since I’m posting this today we’ll hear something tomorrow!  Stay tuned!

Keep up the great work, Bobby Evans!  Will continue to update you if the Giants make any more moves.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

Oh, Happy Day!

I don’t usually get excited when I hear that the owners and the players’ union in Major League Baseball have a new collective bargaining agreement.  Yes, there was some worry that the process was taking too long this year, and there was even some mention of a possible lockout if they didn’t make the deadline, but with all that money on the line you knew they were extremely motivated to find common ground.  But they came together and got ‘er done in time.  There is something in the agreement that I didn’t know was being discussed but which directly affects part of what I do here, namely counting spits, and I am more than excited about this.  I am thrilled to announce that the MLB has banned smokeless tobacco.  (cue the angels singing) Hallelujah!  Isn’t this incredible?  Now the one caveat is that if you played at all during the 2016 season or before, you are grandfathered in and can still chew to your heart’s content, but otherwise YOU CAN’T CHEW!!!  I am so excited about this!!  I’m almost positive this is in response to the untimely death of Tony Gwynn a couple of years back due to salivary gland cancer.  Gwynn and his family attributed his cancer to his habit of chewing tobacco.  I am very proud of all those involved in making this decision as I’m sure it will not only improve the health of many players but it will almost definitely save lives.  Way to go, MLB!!  What a wonderful tribute to the life and talent of Tony Gwynn.  Plus, I wonder if this will cause my spit counts to drastically decrease.  I can only hope so!!

There were many other things decided upon in the CBA.  Here are a few of the more interesting points:

  • The regular season was lengthened to give the boys some extra days off. They deserve it – a 162-game season is harsh enough.  And time with the family is important to their well-being.
  • World Series home team advantage will now go to the team with the better record, not to the winner of the All-Star Game. This seems so much more fair to me, and I bet they’ll still take the All-Star game seriously even though there is nothing at stake any longer.  They will still be on the big stage after all representing their team.
  • Clubs will play games in Mexico, Asia, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and London over the next five years in order to increase the popularity of baseball worldwide. This can include regular season games, and the players will get extra compensation for playing in these countries.  MLB is all about making the game more popular in other countries right now.  Will be fun to see how fans react in other countries – not just fun for us but fun for the players.  And will they still eat hot dogs?  Or fish and chips?
  • One thing I’m really thankful for is that the league is ramping up drug testing and making penalties for offenders harsher. There will be increased testing for human growth hormone, with double the amount of random testing during the season and triple the amount during the off-season.  Players caught taking stimulants will be warned after their first offense plus have increased random testing, be suspended 50 games for a second offense, 100 for a third, and up to permanent suspension for a fourth violation.  Plus if you are suspended, now you don’t accrue service time during the suspension, thus closing a loophole in the previous agreement.
  • The league’s domestic violence policy has remained intact, plus there will be new anti-hazing and anti-bullying policies. Sad to think that this actually exists in baseball, but glad to hear they’re doing something about it.

As far as the Hot Stove League goes, still not a lot of news but a few tidbits to mention.  Cory Gearrin and Ehire Adrianza were signed to one-year contracts.  Gearrin will get $1.05 million plus performance bonuses, and Adrianza will get $600K while in the majors and $300K while in the minors (guess that’s how they do it when a guy will potentially be in the minors for a big chunk of the season).  The Giants have also tendered offers to Conor Gillaspie, George Kontos, Eduardo Nuñez, and Will Smith, saving them from free agency.  They will either receive a contract soon or go through the arbitration process.  Regarding the opening in left field with the departure of Angel Pagan, Bobby Evans mentioned that he would like to give Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson the opportunity to take that role.  He’s still keeping all options open for acquiring a player, but he thinks they would do fine as well.  I would have to agree with him, and I’m sure they will play better if they see more playing time.  The strongest rumor to date revolves around the Giants possibly obtaining a closer.  According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, free agent Mark Melancon (formerly of the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates) has multiple 4-year, $60 million plus offers, with the Nationals and the Giants definitely in the mix.  Crasnick thinks the Giants have the strongest offer.  Melancon pitched in 75 games last year for 71 1/3 innings, had an ERA of 1.34, and WHIP of 0.90, struck out 65 while only walking 12, and logged 47 saves.  Hope Jerry is right and we get him.  What a relief that would be (haha – get it??)!

The Winter Meetings started today in Maryland, so there will probably be some important moves made in the next few days.  All 30 front offices will be there with lots of opportunity to negotiate.  While doing some research, I learned that the Winter Meetings are actually a minor league networking event, but the major league teams always tag along.  Can’t wait to hear some solid news.  Bobby Evans, work your magic!

I’m always impressed by how active my boys are in community service.  I learned recently that one of our newest members, Matt Moore, supports a charity that benefits our veterans.  It’s the cycling based non-profit organization Ride 2 Recovery.  They use biking to help vets get out and active.  They’ve gotten many off medication in the process.  They also fund research into vet related issues like PTSD.  Moore did not choose a charity that supports veterans by chance.  He has a personal stake.  His father was in the Air Force for 23 years.  One of his best friends is a combat-wounded veteran.  Matt hopes that his work with the charity can reduce the extremely high suicide rate amongst vets as well.  Approximately 20 veterans commit suicide each day.  “That’s something you can’t really walk away from,” Moore said recently.  “I believe that it’s our duty to take care of the people who have protected and served our country and provide help when they need it.”  Nice work, Matt.  If you’d like to help Matt’s cause, you can get more info at www.ride2recovery.com.

Well, I purchased our first set of game tickets for our Spring Training trip!  I can almost taste those hot dogs, smell that freshly-mown grass, and feel that intense heat already!  I miss everything about baseball.  Will keep you posted if I hear any news about player transactions.  Hopefully we’ll hear something at least about a closer soon (probably right after I post this – that seems to happen a lot!).  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

Spit Analysis 2016

As promised, I’ve compiled all my spit data from last season.  Everybody hates all the spitting, right??  Well, here’s the scoop on who’s been doing all the spitting on the Giants, plus recognition for those who refrain from it and make me happy.  During the 2016 Giants baseball season, I counted spits during a total of 13 games.  These are my results:

# of games Total # of Avg. # of Highest # of
caught spitting spits spits/game spits/game
Cueto 6 67 11.2 26
Law 1 5 5 5
Gillaspie 5 24 4.8 9
Green 1 4 4 4
Peavy 3 10 3.3 6
Belt 13 40 3.1 6
Bumgarner 4 12 3 5
Span 9 26 2.9 6
Duffy 4 10 2.5 4
Tejada 2 5 2.5 4
Parker 7 16 2.3 4
Bochy 6 12 2 3
Pagan 6 12 2 3
Wotus 1 2 2 2*
Strickland 5 9 1.8 2
Casilla 4 6 1.5 2
Meulens 2 3 1.5 2
Posey 7 7 1 1
Samardzija 5 5 1 1
Tomlinson 3 3 1 1
Osich 2 2 1 1
Blanco 1 1 1 1*
Crawford 1 1 1 1
Kontos 1 1 1 1
Stratton 1 1 1 1
Hayes 1 1 1 1
Suarez 1 1 1 1*
Pence 1 1 1 1*
Kelly 1 1 1 1
Panik 1 1 1 1
Adrianza 1 1 1 1

 

*indicates that spit logged was due to expelling sunflower seed shells

I have to say that unlike last season, I was not surprised at our spit count leader this season.  The overall Spit Master General for the 2016 season was one of our newer additions and a favorite of mine, JOHNNY CUETO.  I noticed right from the start that Johnny was going to be a high volume spitter.  He logged 26 spits during the game on April 16th, the highest single game spit record for a Giants player last season.  Thankfully he came nowhere near the all-time Giants record set last season by Andrew Susac at 41.  And also thankfully the spitting does not appear to be due to tobacco chewing.  Still love watching the guy pitch, but the spitting definitely can make it challenging sometimes.

Here are some other records of note in the area of spit counts last season:

  • Most spits in a game by a non-Giant – Stephen Vogt of the A’s (again) at 32 on June 29th
  • Lowest spit count average – 1 spit every 6.9 minutes (April 9th the Dodgers)
  • Highest spit count average – 1 spit every 2.5 minutes (June 29th the A’s – again Vogt skewed the data on this one!)
  • Highest number of Madison Bumgarner snot rockets in a single game – 7 (on both April 9th the Dodgers and June 8th vs. the Red Sox)

Also of note is the fact that Brandon Belt was caught spitting in every single spit count that I did.  For shame!!  And YUCK!!

Even though all the spitting (and snot rockets) does get me down, I always look forward to recognizing those guys that somehow have not picked up the nasty habit of expelling their saliva like the vast majority of their counterparts.  These guys are my heroes.  And thankfully, I’ve got a bunch to recognize from last season.

First off, there were an amazing four guys who played regularly during the season and were NEVER caught spitting.  (envelope please)  The Thank You For Not Spitting Award for the 2016 Giants season goes to JAVIER LOPEZ, TREVOR BROWN, CORY GEARRIN, and RAMIRO PENA!!  Javi makes the list for the second season in a row, even while he pitched in 9 of the games that I counted.  Way to go, Javi!  Trevor was a surprise to me, especially because he is a catcher.  When catchers are in the game they are on camera a lot – tough to sneak a spit that way.  Trevor played in 6 of the games that I counted and never got caught once.  Cory was another surprise as it’s tough for pitchers to make my list as well since they are on camera almost the entire time they are in the game.  Cory pitched in 4 of the games I counted and stayed spit-free.  Then there’s Ramiro who I almost forgot about since he didn’t play near the end of the season when Joe Panik came back and we acquired Eduardo Nunez.  Ramiro never got caught spitting even though he played in 4 of the games that I counted.  I salute and appreciate all of you for keeping your saliva where it belongs – IN YOUR MOUTH!  Check your mailboxes come next April for those certificates (suitable for framing, of course!)!

Two other players were each only caught once spitting even though they played in the majority of the games I counted.  And each of those single spits was due to expelling sunflower seeds.  I’m going to give them a break and recognize this achievement as well.  They are GREGOR BLANCO and HUNTER PENCE.  Both these guys have made my list before, and both deserve recognition for this feat.  Thanks for resisting the urge to spit, Guys!

I’m also giving several Honorable Mentions this season – guys who won’t be officially recognized with a certificate but still deserve some kudos.  Brandon Crawford and George Kontos were only caught spitting once each.  Try a little harder next time and you might just get that certificate!  Sergio Romo was never caught spitting, but he was out for a large part of the season and only pitched in 2 of the games I counted.  Thanks for the effort, Sergio!  Also Matt Cain only pitched in one of the games I counted, but he didn’t launch a single spit through 6 innings.  This is definitely worth recognizing.  Albert Suarez was in the same category as Gregor and Hunter, getting caught once and the one spit being a sunflower seed spit, but he didn’t pitch in any of the games I counted, so it doesn’t feel right to send a certificate.  For next season, I’ll definitely keep my eye on him in addition to Matt Moore, Eduardo Nunez, and Will Smith (who joined the team after I had stopped doing spit counts).  Remember – I’ll be watching!

Still waiting to hear some solid Hot Stove gossip, but nothing juicy yet.  Just a rumor that the Giants are thinking about getting Pablo back from the Red Sox.  Yeah, right.  There is no way that could ever happen.  He can’t keep the weight off (remember when his belt burst open while he was batting??), his numbers were way down last season, he was injured again, and he totally dissed the team and management on his way out of SF.  No.  This will not occur.  I don’t know who the writer from Boston is who “broke” this story, but he must be desperate for readers.  Come on!

Also heard that Sergio Romo is disappointed that no one from the Giants has contacted him yet about resigning.  Sergio is currently a free agent, and he says that other teams have shown interest.  I would assume he won’t hear anything until the Giants have signed a solid closer – that will dictate how much money they have left to offer.  Plus I still have a bad taste in my mouth about how Romo acted during the end of the season, laughing a couple of times walking off the field and in the dugout when Bochy took him out.  I hate disrespect.  I also think the Giants staff doesn’t appreciate it, either.  Romo says he wants to come back to the Giants, but he can also find happiness somewhere else.  We’ll see where he ends up.  With all the young up-and-coming bullpen talent the Giants have, I have a feeling it might be somewhere else.

On a final note, today is Hunter Pence’s wedding day.  I’m so excited for both him and Lexi – they make such an adorable couple and always seem to have so much fun together, including sharing lots of silliness.  Wishing both of them the best.  Also found out that like me, Hunter plays Pokemon Go (plus he’s on the same team as me – Team Instinct!).  Here’s a video of him and Lexi trying to get to a coffee shop in the City while Pokemon Go kind of gets in the way.  So funny!!  Love these two!

Still keeping my ears open for anything on the rumor front.  Hoping, hoping, hoping they can actually sign one of the top closers.  This is always one of the most frustrating times to be a baseball fan.  If you happen to hear anything, let me know.  On a happy note, I think we finalized the dates for our Spring Training trip.  Can’t wait!!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  SIGN A WICKED CLOSER!!

God, I Miss Baseball!

Hi, Giants fans!!  It’s definitely been awhile!  I took a much needed break from the blog, but I’m back and raring to go.  I’ve decided to make some changes to the format; mainly not doing as many spit counts as it’s gotten to be a bit of a drag (I’m sure you’re all devastated at this news!).  However, I will still comment on spit activity and may do an occasional spit count just to get an idea of what’s going on in the world of baseball spitting.  Still love my boys just as much – just needed a break to realize how much I love doing this.

Since I haven’t blogged since the beginning of August (missed the entire postseason), there’s a bit to catch up on, to say the least.  I was very excited (and somewhat surprised) that the boys even made it into the postseason.  The way they played the second half of the season left me very concerned about this.  But they came together, got in by the skin of their teeth, and even won the Wild Card game against the Mets.  Those boys are definitely scrappy!  Unfortunately, their scrappiness couldn’t get them past the Division Series, losing to the eventual World Series champs.  On a positive note, they lost 2 of the 3 games by a single run.  But what lost the series for them was what ruined the last half of the season – blown saves.  The biggest area of concern for this team in the offseason is bolstering that bullpen.  This became even more evident when you observed how amazing the bullpens were for the other playoff teams.

There were some rays of sunlight that peeked through the darkness of the Division Series, though.  Two were Johnny Cueto and Matt Moore.  Both went deep and pitched remarkable games in the high stress of October.  This gives me hope going on, and I’m so glad these two will continue to be Giants next season.  Another is Ty Blach.  In the postseason, he definitely made a case for him to fill the void that will most certainly be created when Jake Peavy leaves.  That kid is amazing!  Besides pitching eight scoreless innings in a regular season game against the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw, he pitched 3 1/3 innings in the postseason, allowing only 2 hits and striking out 3.  The kid comes through under pressure!  Another ray of sunshine was Conor “Mr. Happy” Gillaspie.  Conor hit that game winning homerun in the Wild Card game.  Then he got the go ahead triple in the eighth during the potential elimination game (against impossible-to-hit-off-of Aroldis Chapman no less), allowing them to outlast the Cubbies through 13 innings to win it.  The guy comes through in the clutch.  I was so happy he finally got some recognition, and on the big stage.  Hoping he will be back playing off the bench next season (just watch the spitting!).

No new big acquisitions yet, but lots of rumors being spread.  Bobby Evans has spoken with several free-agent closers, including Kenley Jansen, Mark Melancon, and Aroldis Chapman.  We’ll see if he puts his money where his mouth is.  We definitely need one of these guys.  Either Jansen or Melancon would be fantastic.  However, I’m not super excited about a Chapman deal.  Even though the guy is extremely talented, he comes with some domestic violence baggage, so I’m not sure he’s the right fit for this team.  I can’t imagine our guys would take him in with open arms, and team chemistry counts for a lot with this team.  And it would be really tough for me to cheer for a guy like that.  The Giants have also been talking to J.D. Martinez of the Tigers to bolster the outfield and their lineup.  He could step into Angel’s role in left field, and with impressive stats last season which include a .307 batting average, 22 home runs, and 68 RBI, he could really help us get our pitchers some run support.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for this one – he’s one of my favorite choices in Beat the Streak, so I’m pulling for him!  Will definitely let you know as soon as I hear any news on the trade front.

Speaking of Beat the Streak, my brother Paul ended up winning this season.  Paul came in first with a streak of 15, I came in second with a streak of 11, and Nick got narrowly edged out with his streak of 10.  Congrats, P!  We treated him to dinner at Red Lobster to celebrate.  Next season, I’m hoping some of you will join us.  It’s the closest to fantasy baseball I’ll ever get since it only takes a few minutes a day to make your picks.

The boys earned themselves some recognition last season, taking home several highly coveted awards.  Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, and Buster Posey each received Gold Gloves for their amazing defensive work last season.  Brandon Crawford and Buster also received the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award at their respective positions.  The Giants as a team were voted the overall Defensive Team of the Year by Wilson, in part due to the fact that they set a National League record in 2016 for the longest errorless streak in league history, spanning more than 17 games.  Brandon Crawford and Javier Lopez together received the Willie Mac Award, presented to the most inspirational player on the team as voted upon by Giants players, coaches, training staff, and this year, by Giants fans as well.  In addition, one of our beloved broadcasters has been named a finalist for the Ford C. Frick award, presented annually for excellence in baseball broadcasting.  Mike Krukow is one of 8 finalists for the award, the same award won previously by his fellow broadcaster, Jon Miller.  We’ll have to wait and see on that one, though – the winner will be announced on December 7th.  Will keep you updated.  Congrats to all my boys for winning these amazing awards, and good luck, Kruk!

On a personal note, two of the Giants will soon get hitched.  Both Hunter Pence and Joe Panik are scheduled to be tying the knot in the next couple of weeks (thanks to Brandon Crawford’s blog for the heads up).  Speaking of Hunter, did you see the Halloween costumes him and his fiancé Lexi wore this year?  Check them out.  Love it!  There’s also a video of Hunter showing off his sweet moves.  Also note that Hunter finally shaved off that beard – I’m assuming that’s so he’ll look presentable for his wedding day.

The wonderful Ginny got me (among some other fun baseball things) Bruce Bochy’s book A Book of Walks for my birthday.  I had no idea what it was about, but the title is definitely appropriate.  It’s a very quick read that details 8 of his and his wife’s favorite walks.  He mentions in the book that his love of walking probably saved his life.  In 2015, he had to have two stents put in to increase blood flow.  He mentioned to the doctor that he loved to walk, and the doctor replied that without those walks, he might not be alive today.  I loved the way the book was written as if Bochy were having a conversation with you – you could just hear him read each line in your head.  Nice to get to know the Skipper a little bit better.  I highly recommend it, and hope to go on some of the walks myself someday.  If you would like to borrow it from me just let me know.  Or if you chose to buy it, proceeds go to support writing workshops for young people.

Not much else to report right now.  I’m working on analyzing the spit count data from last season, and I’ll try to get the results out this week.  Already have FanFest 2017 on my calendar (February 11th in case you didn’t know), and I’m in the process of planning another Spring Training trip.  Can’t wait for baseball to be back.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

Coming and Going

Wow.  I had planned on blogging this morning.  Then I decided against it, realizing that the trade deadline was this afternoon.  The Giants might make another move today, and I wanted to be able to post about it if they did.  And oh boy, did they make a move.  Two even.  And one was extra unexpected.

Let’s start with the first.  I need to thank my brother Paul for alerting me to this one via text.  The Giants got left-handed reliever Will Smith from the Brewers in exchange for pitching prospect Phil Bickford and Andrew Susac.  I had mentioned in previous blogs that Will Smith was on Bobby Evans’ radar, so that’s not really a surprise.  The Giants feel they needed another lefty in the bullpen to enable Bochy to work his bullpen magic.  I understand that and agree with that.  But is it worth losing Phil Bickford, probably their best pitching prospect, at a time when they will soon need to bolster their rotation?  And Susac?  I know he’s been hurt, but the guy is a solid catcher.  Sounds like they were pretty desperate to get someone to me.  And they new it was going to cost them.  As far as Smith, there are several positives.  He’s not a temporary acquisition – he’ll be under Giants control through 2019.  And he’s a good pitcher.  Well, if you ignore his July, he’s a good pitcher.  So I’m hoping he can overcome whatever changed during last month and get back on track, because there is a lot of potential there.  So I’m trying to be positive about this one.  But we sure had to give up a lot of potential to get this guy.  Welcome Will Smith (the Fresh Prince of SF), and goodbye Phil and Andrew.  And special thanks to Andrew for filling in as backup catcher and helping us win that ring in 2014.

I can’t leave this topic without bringing up something I found while doing research on Will Smith.  Besides the fact that I need to remember to put something besides just “Will Smith” into Google when I do a search for him, I came across an interesting fact about him.  He had an unusual, Affeldt-like injury at the beginning of the season during Spring Training.  Is it just a left-handed reliever thing to be accident prone?  The incident occurred while Smith was trying to take off one of his cleats.  He was standing on one leg to take off his other shoe when he lost his balance and twisted his knee.  “My knee just went up and popped,” claimed Smith.  Wow.  This caused him to start the season on the DL, and he didn’t pitch in his first game with the Brewers until June 2nd.  Wow.  Just hope this kind of freak accident doesn’t follow this guy around like Mr. Affeldt.  Please, please, please stay away from knives and small children!

Now we’ll move on to that second trade.  I really thought the Giants were done after the first one, so I was very surprised to hear about another one.  Credit goes to my brother Nick this time for informing me of the details.  The Giants acquired left-handed starting pitcher Matt Moore from the Tampa Bay Rays.  Sounds great.  I wasn’t expecting a trade to bolster the rotation, but a lefty is definitely nice, especially when you consider the heavy lefty lineup of the Dodgers.  With the inconsistency of Peavy and Cain, it’s also nice to have some insurance.  His ERA is a little high (4.08), but it’s been consistently moving downward since mid June.  Combine that with having Dave Righetti as a pitching coach and I see a lot of promise there.  But what did they give up for Moore?  Two prospects (shortstop Lucius Fox and pitcher Michael Santos).  Oh, and MATT DUFFY!  WHAT?  How desperate were they to bolster the rotation?  Thinking about it, though, that trade for Eduardo Nunez makes a lot more sense now if they knew this was coming.  I’m still in shock that Matt Duffy is no longer a Giant.  I know it’s just a business and stuff like this happens all the time, but I loved Matt Duffy as a player and a Giant.  Going to be so weird seeing him in a Rays uniform.  So weird.  The guy threw his batting glove to me at Spring Training (I didn’t catch it, but I almost did!)!  And I love his dad, too!  I’m really gonna miss that guy!  Come to think of it, it’s kind of ironic that he gets traded this year.  He was on the flip side of this kind of thing when he came up to the bigs last season and Casey McGehee was released.  You really never know in this sport.  Giant today.  Ray tomorrow.  We welcome one Matt and say goodbye to another.  Welcome to the team, Mr. Moore.  And all the best to you, Duffman.  You’ll always be a Giant to me.

With the addition of Eduardo Nunez to the team and the returns of Joe Panik and Hunter Pence, there were corresponding moves to make room for them on the roster.  When Joe Panik was activated, Grant Green was designated for assignment.  Hoping he won’t be picked up so he can remain a Giant as he did a fine job as a replacement.  When Eduardo Nunez came to the team, Jarrett Parker was sent to Triple A.  This was expected, as Mac Williamson made his case to stay in the outfield (and in the batting lineup) a little more strongly than Parker.  At least he’s still in Sacramento and could easily come up again if needed.  Then when Hunter came back to the team, Ramiro Pena was designated for assignment.  I’m most upset about this one.  Pena was key to keeping this team going while guys were injured.  He came through with some clutch hits while maintaining an incredible batting average during the games he played as a Giant.  Keeping my fingers crossed that no one picks him up off waivers so that we can keep him.

Another guy who snuck into the roster when Josh Osich went on the DL is left-handed reliever Matt Reynolds (so many Matts to keep track of!).  Reynolds is not a newbie to the bigs, having played several years for both the Rockies and the Diamondbacks.  He’s pitched in two games thus far while not allowing any runs.  I like that.  Welcome to the Giants, Matt!

It’s been a crazy rollercoaster ride for the Giants since the All Star break, but it appears things may have finally settled down with these last two wins against the Nationals.  Those wins are extra significant as the Nationals top the National League East Division.  My boys went from the low of winning only 2 out of 13 games, capped by that horrible triple play on Friday night (was anyone else just sitting in shock, dumbfounded, staring at the TV with their jaw dropped like I was?), to the high of winning two in a row against the Nats.  And to counter that unbelievable triple play, on Sunday Bum (a pitcher) pinch hit for Cain (a pitcher), got a double, and was pinch run for by Samardzija (a pitcher) who ended up scoring the game winning run.  You can’t make this stuff up!  I’m not totally sure, but I can’t believe that’s ever been done in the history of baseball!  Kudos to Bruce Bochy for being a maniac and bringing the entertainment!  And kudos to Matt Cain on getting his 100th win during that game yesterday.  So proud of you!  Nice accomplishment, Matt!  So many Matts!

I forgot to mention that Ginny and I discovered two new taste treats at AT&T Park when we attended the game last Tuesday (that they won!).  We both had loaded tater tots (loaded = sour cream, cheese, scallions, and bacon bits) and grilled brussel sprouts.  Both were fabulous!  We found them on the View Level near section 321 where we were sitting, and I’m not sure they are available anywhere else in the park.  They are definitely worth a trip up those stairs!  And Ginny realized that since they won that game, we need to do that every time we go to the park as a good luck charm.  I’m game!

I’ll end on a funny note.  Came across this on Facebook today.  I absolutely love it when players do stuff like this.  Makes the game that much more fun.  Silliness is a good thing!  Poor Bochy gnome!  At least he was returned to his owner (breathing might be a bit difficult, though).

The Giants start a series against the Phillies tomorrow at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, one of the ballparks I just visited.  Nice park – dull fans.  Hope the quiet isn’t too distracting.  And hope all these changes to the roster aren’t too distracting, either.  Hoping they can carry the momentum of those two wins to the other side of the continent.  Unlike the Nats, the Phillies are in 4th place in their division, so I’m looking for lots of Ws.  You can come together as a new, improved unit and do this, Guys!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  TAME THE PHILLIES!