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Sunday, December 19, 2010

San Francisco vs Philadelphia (The Big 4 Edition)

So we've already seen the Giants knock off the Phillies for the National League crown in 2010. Apparently that didn't sit well with Philly, seeing our pitching staff shut them down and beat their allegedly superior starting pitching staff. So what did they do? They went out and convinced Cliff Lee to come back to them.

Is there any doubt they did this because they feared matching up with the Giants again in 2011? I can't help but think so. The Phillies had a far superior offense to the Giants on paper. And Halladay/Oswalt/Hamels should have matched up very well with Lincecum/Cain/Sanchez. Which should have meant the Phillies should have won, right? Well, wrong. It's why they play the games. And the games said the Giants were so good, they didn't even have to take the series to a seventh game.

It also had a lot to do with the fact that our fourth starter was better than their fourth starter.

So Philly went out and got the prize free agent of the offseason (Lee) and added him to Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt. And now every baseball writer, blogger, and so-called expert outside of Giantsland is calling Philly's rotation historically good while completely ignoring the San Francisco rotation that completely shutdown the Phillies O (not to mention the uber powerful Texas offense!) to win a championship.

One question going into the 2011 season will be which team has the best rotation? A lot of people will pick the Phillies. After the Cliff Lee signing, MLBTR readers were polled as to who they thought had a better rotation: Philly or SF. The answer? A resounding 77% said Philly. And that's no east coast bias, MLBTR readers are from all over the place. It's much different than, say, if ESPN had conducted the poll. 77% said Philly. That's just blatant disrespect for a staff that just won a World Series title and a team that beat all of the pitchers in that Phillies current rotation at least once, and mostly twice.

Now, I get that the Giants play in a much friendlier pitching division. And that the Phillies ballpark is a joke. But still, are the Phillies starters THAT much better than SF's? Are they better at all? Let's take a look:

Career stats:

Lincecum (3.04 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)
Halladay (3.32 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)

Cain (3.45 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)
Lee (3.85 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)

Sanchez (4.26 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)
Oswalt (3.18 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)

Bumgarner (2.90 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)
Hamels (3.53 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)

Zito (3.86 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)
Blanton (4.30 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)

Lots of similar pitchers there. If the Phillies rotation is "historically" good then what is the Giants staff? I guess we'll settle it in 2011.

Overall, the pitching in the NL is the best it has been in years. With the Brewers acquisition of Zack Greinke (a great trade for both teams if you ask me) the NL boasts arguably all of the top starting pitching talent in baseball. I mean, when you're talking aces, who would you choose in the AL over Halladay, Lincecum, Greinke, Lee, Carpenter, or Josh Johnson? Felix Hernandez I'll give you. Then who? CC Sabathia? Maybe, maybe not. Probably not. Jon Lester? Josh Beckett? Verlander? Maybe.

And the #2 guys are just as good: Cain, Wainwright, Kershaw, Gallardo, Hamels, Oswalt, Hudson, Latos, Jimenez, Cueto?

Lots of fantastical pitching in the NL. Perhaps the tide is turning in MLB with the NL coming back to the strong side. Then again, the Red Sox did get Carl Crawford AND Adrian Gonzalez and the worst hitter in their line-up is probably Marco Scutaro.

Oh that's right, the pundits already have the Red Sox and Phillies in the 2011 World Series. We'll see what happens. All I'm saying is don't underestimate that Giants pitching. You know, that staff that just helped win the 2010 World Series???

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Offseason Is Officially Here

All sorts of preemptive craziness this Sunday before the Winter Meetings tomorrow. So Adrian Gonzalez is a Red Sock (I refuse to call a singular player on that team a Red Sox). Actually, he's not. He's still a Padre. And if the A-Gon to Boston deal is officially dead, then Javier Lopez's role as a lefty specialist becomes that much more important with Gonzalez still in a Friars uni. I was looking forward to seeing "The Human Trade Rumor" out of the NL West but it looks like we'll have to contend with him one more year. That being said, even if it's probably better for the Giants if Gonzalez HAD been traded to Boston, aren't you just a little bit happy that one of those big money teams didn't get who they wanted? Gonzalez didn't spurn Boston, he apparently DOES want to play there, but he wanted more money than Theo was ready to dish out. And now they don't get him (for now). That sort of makes me smile. I'll smile broader if Cliff Lee spurns the Yankees and stays with Texas (or any other team). Or Zack Greinke gets traded to anyone not named the Yankees or Red Sox. And speaking of spurning big money teams, look at Jayson Werth! He just Barry Zitoed Washington!

In case you don't know what Barry Zitoing is, it's having a team invest in you for 7 years and 126 million large for some previous nice seasons. There have been 3 cases of Barry Zitoing. Barry Zito and San Francisco. Vernon Wells and the Blue Jays. And now Jayson Werth and the Nationals.

I think Jayson Werth is a helluva player. And I incorrectly thought the Giants would be a dark horse for him this offsason. But not at Barry Zito money. And now he's a National. Which makes me smile. Because it's not the Yankees, Angels, Red Sox, or Dodgers. The Nationals offense looks to be solid for the next several years now with Zimmerman and Werth and eventually Bryce Harper. Now if only they can fix that pitching staff...

On to the Giants news:

Juan Uribe is a Dodger. That sucks. I predicted this would happen though. But now that it has actually happened, it sucks. It sucks because he allegedly accepted a Dodger offer that was similar to a Giants offer. And it sucks because it looks like he simply chose the Dodgers over the Giants. But unlike many other Giants fans out there, I hold no grudge against Uribe at all. I was listening to KNBR and someone was saying that players born outside of the country don't necessarily care about rivalries or allegiances. They simply want to play and take care of their families. It'd be like an American player going overseas and playing for, say Madrid. Then changing teams to Barcelona for slightly more money. An American probably wouldn't care about a move like that, but I'm sure the Spaniards would see it as high treason! A lot of Latin American players, for example, came from poverty. And they want to do what they can do to ensure their families will always be well off. Uribe ditching the Orange and Black for the Blue and White? It sucks for us fans. But I can't blame Uribe. I'm secretly happy he didn't take our offer of 3yrs/20M. I love Uribe. He's charismatic, he's Jose's nephew, and he deserved the OOO-REBAY chants. He had many clutch homers for the Giants in his 2 year career with SF, he had a game winning sac fly AND the series clinching homerun in the NLCS. He'll forever be remembered in Giants history. But now he's a Dodger. So I hope he plays more like his stats would indicate, meaning he'll strikeout a lot, walk almost never, and struggle to make contact against our superior pitching staff. Adios Juan, I begrudge you nothing, I'll cheer you your first time you step in the box as Dodger scum, and then I'll forgive and forget. From then on, you're just another player in a Dodgers uniform. I just hope the Dodgers fans don't try to steal the OOO-REBAY chant. That is 100% a San Francisco thing.

Which leads us to Miguel Tejada. Sabean acted quickly to replace Juan's Latin clubhouse leadership with another Latin leader. Miguel Tejada has had issues off the field. His birth certificate fiasco. The steroid stuff. But at the end of the day, Tejada has been a solid player throughout his career and has stayed on the field. At first, I was not excited about the signing. I had no idea whether he was meant to be our 3B or our SS. I thought Sabean was reverting to, well, himself, signing aging vets who are clearly on the decline. But it's only a 1 year deal. And it sounds like Tejada will be the everyday shortstop. Looking around, I don't see much better options. I did not want Bartlett and Scutaro doesn't have the offensive upside that Tejada has. I AM worried about the defense but let's face it, the Giants are solid at 3 points of the all important "up the middle" defense so they can sacrifice a little at shortstop. From all reports, Tejada is a great clubhouse guy and a hard worker. I can live with him for a year and hope he can hit .270 with double digit homer power while not embarrassing himself in the field.

Surprisingly, Pat Burrell was re-signed. I didn't see that one coming. And I definitely didn't see it happening for 1 million, no incentives. That is a huge statement from Burrell. He loves this team, he loves San Francisco, and unlike 99.9% of his colleagues, he doesn't give a shit about the money. He wanted to be here and he signed an extremely team friendly contract to do so. If Pat the Bat can come close to replicating his regular season from last year (.252/.348/.469 with TB and SF), he'll be the best free agent signing of the offseason.

Essentially, Sabean brought back the 2010 World Series team. He exchanged Uribe for Tejada and cut loose Velez and Ray and they might be signed back to minor league deals. Hell, even Edgar Renteria might be back. Is it a good plan? Well, this team won the World Series, so it's not a BAD thing to bring 'em back and see if they can do it again. But Huff, Burrell, DeRosa, Sanchez, Torres... they're all a year older and some guys had their career years. So it's risky.

But you know what, the Giants won the World Series in 2010. I can't be mad at anything Sabean does. As the winter meetings are set to begin tomorrow, Sabean has little to do. Maybe he can waste his time trying to find a suitor for Rowand...

How do you like the Giants offseason so far?