Saturday, December 27, 2008

Randall David Johnson (Big Unit)...An Aide to 27 Outs

The San Francisco Giants have made a history of signing players at the end of their career. Off hand I recall Rich "Goose" Gossage and Steve "Lefty" Carlton making stops to don the orange and black. Warren Spahn, Ron Kline and Bill Monboquette were also San Francisco Giants.

It doesn't hurt that Randy Johnson is a former Cy Young winner but better than that is how effective the Big Unit was last season. He, by all accounts, has some gas left in the tank. Unlike the aforementioned veterans who paid a visit.

I had the Unit on my fantasy team, last season and from experience I agree with Brian Sabean's feelings. The Big Unit continues to strike out batters at an alarming rate, which makes him dominating. But like the Giants of last year, his team (Arizona) had difficulty scoring runs. This is an issue that has yet to be addressed by Brian Sabean and Gang, but you gotta admit, the pitching staff is looking good. And I get the feeling Sabean will not be satisfied until he does acquire a hitter who has the capability of driving the ball to the gaps and the wide-open spaces where only outstanding plays on defense will prevent this batter from succeeding at AT&T.

One thing is for sure, YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH PITCHING. With that in mind, Brian Sabean needs to be sure the fielders behind these stellar arms can catch and throw. Because as bad as the Giants need a couple of power hitters, it will not mean much if they themselves cannot catch what the opponents hit at 'em.

Twenty seven outs.

With good pitching and good defense that's all ya need.

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Remember Dock Phillip Ellis

Dock Phillip Ellis Born on March 11, 1945 in Los Angeles, California.

He passed away the other day. I don't recall the actual date. He was 63.

He claimed to have pitched his only no-hitter while under the influence of LSD. In that game, versus the San Diego Padres, he issued eight (8) bases on balls.

His career won/loss record was 138-119 with an earned run average (ERA) of 3.46, from 1968 thru 1979 inclusive.

His best season was 1971. That season he fininshed 19-9 with the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates. 1971 was the only year he made an All-Star appearance and what a memorable one it was. Dock was the pitcher who served up that prodigious home run to Reginald Martinez Jackson at Tiger Stadium. You know, the one that caromed off of the light tower!

It was also 1971 that an impressionable boy got an autograph from #17 Dock Ellis. Mr. Ellis, as I called him, made quite an impression on me. Made me feel worthy of having his signature. Unlike the inimical behavior of Willie "Pops" Stargell. Stargell was not amused and said as much as he scrawled Stargell in my autograph book. I knew Stargell was good but after the way he went about signing a kid's book I lost interest in him. If I had idolized him it would have been a crushing blow that day at Candlestick Park.

Dock Ellis had nothing to do with the San Francisco Giants. Probably beat them more than they beat him when it was his day to pitch. But he provided a valuable lesson to yours truly that I cannot let go unnoticed.

It just made me realize that I don't necessarily have to idolize the players but to just appreciate what they do. And if they're nice to people I want to root for them. Not against them, like I did whenever I heard Stargell's name mentioned. To me, Wilver Stargell was a bum! In the same class as most umpires.

(thanks to Baseball-Reference and Yahoo Sports for some info on Dock Ellis)

Kevin Marquez

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gigantes Not Worthy?

Writer Will Leitch contributes to The Sporting News in a column he calls Will's World.
He has good insights but in his piece for the November 24, 2008 edition entitled Change You Can Believe In he omits the orange and black.

Here's some excerpts from that article.

Technically, your team is in one of five (5) states:

(1) Champion/Perpetual Contender
The Patriots, Red Sox, Phillies, Colts, Cardinals(St.Louis), Spurs, Lakers, Celtics, Steelers, Giants (New York). Their coaches are at the top of their games and are considered among the best in their field.

(2) A Step Away
The Buccaneers, Titans, Hornets, Cavaliers,Eagles, Dodgers, Cubs, Panthers. By any measure a success but unable (so far) to reach that upper rung. Their coaches' jobs are safe, at least for another couple of years.

(3) Reeling
The Chargers, Jaguars, Mets, Blue Jays, Saints, Rockies, Browns, Mavericks, Brewers, Nuggets, Warriors. Expectations have not been met. Their coaches know better than to turn on sports radio.

(4) Rebuilding/On the Way Up. The Blazers, Royals, Thunder, Cardinals (Arizona), Falcons, Dolphins. Fans who are accustomed to losing see some light, thanks largely to new coaches with new visions. Why couldn't this include the 49ers? Or for that matter the Celtics? Up until last season the Celtics emitted an odor that was skunk-like and the organization itself was in a funk. The 49ers appear to be heading in the right direction. As are the San Francisco Giants. But no mention. Oh, the 49ers get mentioned in #5, but it's inaccurate.

(5) Bottoming Out. The Mariners, Wizards, Nets, Rams, 49ers, Seahawks, Bengals, Lions, Chiefs, Pirates, Nationals. The nightmare you imagined has arrived. Their coaches have been fired or are on their way out. There appears no end to the suffering.

Word to Will. You claimed in one article that you were an Arizona Cardinal fan. And how tough it's been being so loyal to a team so bad. Well, they slipped into the playoffs by default moreso than anything one could derive of as positive. They're in the worst division in the National Football League and then when it did appear the Cardinals were worthy of positive acknowledgement they go back to stinking up the joint. Their success is at best a fluke.

For you not to mention that the Giants far exceeded anyone's expectations during the 2008 season is a failure to recognize what is happening to the orange and black. To leave them completely out of your article, like the Oakland Raiders, well it's a mockery.

I truly believe the Giants belong in the A Step Away category. The same way I believe the Arizona Cardinals are a step away from mediocrity.

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

News from Henry Schulman, Giants' beat writer

Seems there's a little interest in recently unsigned third-sacker, Ty Wiggington. Wigginton belted 20+ homers last year, albeit in the comfy cozy confines of Houston's Enron-Minute Maid Park. A far cry from AT&T's manly dimensions that always include the obstacle of weather.

But beat writer, Henry Schulman has some information that may be of interest to Giants fans.

The player's name is Jesus Guzman.

Guzman is 24-years old, who is positioned at third base in the Venezuelan League, won the Texas League batting title in 2008 and he just set a Venezuelan League record by driving in 57 runs. He has 11 homers for the Caracas Lions, which is one short of the league lead co-held by Pablo Sandoval.

The Giants recently signed Guzman, by offering more money than crosstown Oakland, to a minor league contract and invited him to Spring Training.

Of course, you cannot overplay this because numbers in the Venezuelan League or Mexican League are a bit different than those of the major leagues. For example, Neifi Perez was a superstar in these leagues. And even though he proved to be a slick fielder he has proven to be anything but a consistent, reliable hitter in the majors. So, by all means, keep that in mind.

The one thing Jesus Guzman has over Neifi is that Jesus has never been known for his glove-work. Which could mean he is the real deal when he steps into the batter's box. Now if the Giants can find someone to work on his fielding enough so they won't have to hide him (because we Giants' fans know, the BALL WILL SURELY FIND HIM). Kind of like a late inning replacement. It always seems the ball is hit their way.

(thanks to beat writer Henry Schulman)

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wait Just A Minute

During the off-season of any sport is the time to spread rumors. What's the line from the Fleetwood Mac album, of the same name, Rumours (1977), thunder only happens when it's raining, players only love you when they're playing?

C.C. Sabathia a San Francisco Giant? Where did that dream come from?

Would it really have been that wise to throw out that kind of money for that length of time for an out-of-shape hurler who will have to change his strength and conditioning to even hope to fulfill that contract.

Since 2001, at age 20, C.C. has thrown this number of innings...180 (2001), 210 (2002), 197+(2003), 188 (2004), 196+ (2005), 192+ (2006), 241+ (2007), and 253 last season (2008). He turned 28 last July 21st. But his conditioning leaves me no alternative but to think he will not play for seven more seasons and be serviceable.

The Giants' very own Barry Zito has similar numbers but Zito takes much better care of himself. Here are Barry's numbers since he broke into the majors in 2000, when he threw 92 innings.

  1. 2001- 214+
  2. 2002- 229+
  3. 2003- 231+
  4. 2004- 213
  5. 2005- 228+
  6. 2006- 221
  7. 2007- 196+
  8. 2008- 180.

Barry Zito has proven to be very durable throughout his career. And when it's all said and done Zito still may give the Giants all they wanted when they signed him on December 29, 2006, which is a World Series title. Because he'll be healthy and the team will have been built from the bottom up with quality players who bust tail-without flail. They will catch the ball on defense ('cause you need to make 3 outs each time you take the field) and hit the ball when it's their turn to bat. A lot will depend on their ability to execute so they can utilize their speed. But the front office is assembling a roster worthy of their competition.

But let's face it, their pitchers have to show they can throw strikes, and not when they are ahead no balls and two strikes but often enough to keep the umpires believing they can.

Show a little faith in Brian Sabean and Gang. The airwaves are full of talk shows that air opinions, of little substance, because they are only trying to elicit some excitable fans to call in and blur the focus. Too much time spent wondering about what could be. Even the Razor needs to 'button it up,' (to quote a substitute teacher I had back in elementary school). Just think of all the couch time spent by people who became confused enough to seek the help of a professional commonly referred to as a shrink. Simply because they spend so much time dwelling on how they think things will be before they even happen.

On that note, I go to the Jim Morrison lyrics that will never die...the future is uncertain, the end is always near...I woke up this morning and grabbed myself a beer.

Go Giants. Go Gigantes. Just go farther than ya did last year, okay?

Kevin Marquez

Monday, December 8, 2008

Encouraging Article About Giants in NOV26-DEC2, 2008 Sporting News

Jorge L. Ortiz wrote a very positive piece about the San Francisco Giants. The title he used was Young Talent Points the Way.

Ortiz opens the article... By their own admission, the San Francisco Giants took too long to embark on a youth movement...they found it less painful than expected.

He posts good statistics and references, such as... The Giants 72-90 record in 2008 marked their fourth consecutive losing season, the franchises longest such stretch since 1974-77, but they went 28-27 with a youth-laden lineup in the season's final two months.

Includes some quotes by Brian Sabean like: Not only were they entertaining, but most days we had a chance to win, which showed people some progess and hope.

And some thoughtful opinions to round out this article. Giant fans have reason to believe as Mr. Ortiz makes good enough points to think this thing could turn around. Maybe sooner than later.

Sports Weekly has the kind of quality in a publication that reminds me of Playboy magazine. Sure you buy the mag for the photos but the writing is worthy of as much praise as those photos. Wink, wink.

(thanks to Sports Weekly AND Jorge L. Ortiz)

Kevin Marquez

Friday, December 5, 2008

Moves for 2009 elicit a response

The San Francisco Giants have signed 3 veteran players. The top brass thought it better to go elsewhere to get some players that can get them in the 2009 National League West race.

First it was Jeremy Affeldt (born 6/6/79). A left-handed long relief specialist.

Then it was Bob Howry (born 8-4-73). A right-handed middle relief specialist.

SS-Edgar Renteria (born 8/7/75). Two rings (Florida vs Giants) and (Cardinals).

But if you look at their current roster there are a few names of players who have no bio but they do have some fantasy comparisons to keep you interested.

It's December and the Winter meetings take place this coming monday, December 8.

Due to the aformentioned 3 signings, I am intrigued by Sabean and Gang. If they do choose to purchase Christmas gifts, I'm hoping they don't visit Whoville.

Kevin Marquez