Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More on Lincecum and Matt Cain

On September 28, 2009 there was an article by the Sporting News on Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, entitled I Just Love Watching Him Pitch.

After learning that Lincecum won his second Cy Young in-a-row, and was the first to do so during his first 2 complete seasons as a major leaguer, the big focus now is if the San Francisco Giants will sign Tim Lincecum before his case reaches arbitration.

Here are some snipets of that article that delve into the personalities of both Lincecum and Matt Cain.

The Franchise and The Freak. Big Daddy and Big Sugar. Does anybody actually call you these things?
Lincecum: I hear them all the time. I get them from fans every place we go. ( Former Giants reliever) Steve Kline tagged me with the Franchise or French Fries, whatever you want to call it. It's just funny names. You just roll with it.

Cain: I've had the Big Daddy one ever since my high school coach gave it to me. The Big Sugar one, I'm not too fond of; it makes me feel like I'm just eating too much candy. I don't know if I approve of that one.

On a friendship level, what about the other guy's personality appeals to you most?
Lincecum: I think it's both our competitiveness. That's why we mesh well. It's taken, like, a couple years for us to get closer, though. Our first year was a little different, but the last couple years we've become pretty good friends and we've gotten closer and just gotten to know each other. We play catch together all the time. Before, it was almost like a competition between us, like we didn't even know each other, like we were on different teams. But now it's just fun stuff, giving each other a hard time just like two good guys will do.

Cain: We come from kind of total opposite upbringings, and baseball definitely connects us in a lot of ways. He's definitely open-minded about things. I'm open-minded about things. We started to share a lot more things in common than we probably felt we would have at first.

Out of high school, Matt was drafted in the first round. Tim was drafted in the 48th round. At that point, what were your personal expectations about having big league careers?
Cain: I think mine might have been different than his coming out of high school. I got drafted in the first round , so they kind of put that "He's going to try to be the guy" tag on me. I thought, 'All right, I'm going to have to get better and better as fast as possible to get to the big leagues real quick.' Whereas Timmy came out his junior and senior years in college. (After his junior season at Washington, in 2006, Lincecum was selected 10th overall by the Giants-his third time going through the draft.)

Lincecum: He just had more of a plan. College prepares us in a different fashion than his preparation, which was in the minors. You take what you can from that. Cain, you can just look at this guy-ever since the first day I met him, he was that old young guy, just beyond his years. He was a grown man before most other guys.

What roles have your physical sizes played in your athletic lives?
Lincecum: I've always dealt with the lack-of-size issue. Going into college, I was like 135 pounds. That's pretty small for anybody. I met girls in their freshman year that were bigger than me.
Cain: (Laughing) That's awesome.

On your best day, is one of you a more dominant pitcher than the other?
Lincecum: I just love watching him pitch. Cain's that guy who doesn't give up any hits. You're looking at the board, your like, "They've only got two hits?" He just sneaky-dominates you. It's awesome to watch.

Cain: For me, it's the same way. Suddenly, it's the sixth inning and Timmy has punched out eight guys already. He does it sneaky, too. I think we do different things different . He's definitely going to be a guy who strikes out guys no matter what, where I probably won't strike out as many guys. I think I could, but I don't think it's effective for me. I can't effectively strike out that many guys.

A lack of run support has been an issue on this team. Matt has had tougher luck in that regard than perhaps anyone in baseball the past couple of years. How have you dealt with that?

Lincecum: Just watching him (Matt Cain) the last couple years, the way he battles through the run support issues that he's had to deal with... he deals with it better than anybody. You can get so frustrated, take it badly, get (ticked) off, but he just takes the ball and doesn't worry about that. He's going to pitch his game. Whether he wins or loses by one run, Cain just lets it go. I've learned from that.

Cain: It's got to be one of those situations that makes you better. I would get in situations where we were winning, 2-1 or whatever, and I'd think about it too much and give up a couple runs. Then I'd watch Timmy out there: he'd be winning, 2-0, getting the same runs but focusing more in some situations; he'd keep it 2-0. That's what I've tried to get better at this year.

Lincecum: I find it's good to somehow have that pressure on you. It's good to pitch in close games. It brings out a different side of you.

What have you learned from having Randy Johnson as a teammate? And is Jonathan Sanchez, who threw a no-hitter in July, as talented as you guys are?

Cain: I think Sanchez is what R.J. has helped with most, actually, in the past couple months. We know Sanchez is obviously very talented, but he's got his games where he goes out and deals and his games where he struggles. It's about focus. It comes at different times for different guys, but we know he has the ability to focus because there's no way you don't stay focused the whole time when you throw a no-hitter-there's no room to let down.

Lincecum: Just sitting down and talking to R.J. when were were at spring training, he said, "You never become content; you keep getting better." He said, "Look at the four Cy Youngs I won in a row (1999-2002) it wasn't like they got worse-they got better through the last one."

Who are your favorite pitchers, now and ever?

Lincecum: Sandy Koufax was definitely one of them. Nolan Ryan. Man, I just dig strikeouts.

Cain: I liked watching (Greg) Maddux and (John) Smoltz. Two different guys. Smoltz, when I was young, he was just a "Here it comes" fastball, slider, split guy. Maddux moved the ball and did different things. Those guys working together, I'll bet they helped each other a ton. It's kind of like how I feel I can try to do different things with the ball now from watching Timmy.

You'll both be 25 at the end of this season (2009). How important is it for you to be a 1-2 punch for a long time?

Lincecum: It's definitely important. Matty is going to be a workhorse for this organization for as long as he can be. I hope to do the same thing.

Cain: We both love being in the organization and hope that we can stay together and really be a Big Three with (Barry) Zito or even a Big Four with Sanchez.

It's up to the Giant's front office to see that this happens. That is, of course, if the San Diego Padres want Sanchez as part of a trade for Adrian Gonzalez. They may want Madison Bumgarner as well. Tough call.

We shall see what happens in the off-season. I was listen to my walkman and what sounded like Carlos Santana on guitar had the lyrics: Pain never makes me cry, but happiness does.
This must be the on-going sentiment for major league baseball's general managers and their associates.

(thanks to the Sporting News for their 9/28/09 article on Lincecum and Cain)

Kevin J. Marquez

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tim Lincecum is the First to Do It

Tim Lincecum is the first pitcher to win back-to-back Cy Young awards in his first two-full-major league seasons. Puff on that for a while, eh?

With all the hoopla over his recent arrest it must be nice to see the better man get the nod.
He had the burden of pitching with very few runs (as teammates Barry Zito, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez can attest) and still managed to keep his team in the game, most every time he toed the slab.

Lincecum most definitely has to make his teammates feel like it's WIN NIGHT every time the skipper hands him the ball. And if the San Francisco Giants can go out an acquire a couple of players' whose plate approach can expand the strike zone and who have enough oomph in their swings to accumulate dozens of extra-base hits and some round-trippers then it would relieve some of the tension their pitchers would have to endure on a daily/nightly basis.

I'm sure the powers that be, in the Giants organization, realize that last year was an excellent year for the pitchers but that with an injury here and an injury there the Giants will need more help for their pitching.

Good offense and solid defense.

Easier said than done.

Anyway, kudos to the Freak, Franchise or just plain Timmy Lincecum. This is the kind of news Scotty Ostler was talking about. (see article by Scott Ostler, dated November 17 on the Cha Cha Bowl.)

Kevin J. Marquez

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In the Playoffs

(Sorry for the delay but the information from Sporting News magazine is good so I decided to go ahead and share it with you.)

What doesn't matter? The better regular-season record. That goes for teams and players.
White Sox center fielder Scott Podsednik didn't hit a home run the entire 2005 regular season, but his walkoff blast in Game 2 was the turning point for Chicago's win.

"The bigger the moment, the more I'm relaxed," says John Smoltz, who is tied with Andy Pettitte for most postseason victories (15). Note: And I don't recall Smoltz being accused of taking performance enhancers. The only thing I'll never forget about Smoltz' off-field actions was that he burned himself while ironing. He ironed the shirt while still wearing it. This prompted some wise guy scribe to say 'How does he take a bath, in the washing machine?' or something of that ilk.

Former major league OF, Steve Finley, a member of the 2001 World Series champion Diamondbacks.

"Generally, a manager is a good people person who knows how to read people and put people in spots where they have the best chance for success.

Bob Brenly had his horses that year. Managers also have to play hunches. They have to know when to pull the trigger in certain areas, and Bob pulled all the right triggers in that postseason."

David Eckstein, World Series MVP for 2006 St. Louis Cardinals.
"We were able to get healthy when the playoffs arrived, and we weren't that way basically the last six (6) weeks of the season. It was like a breath of fresh air when we made the playoffs. For us, it was like, OK, now we can put the regular season behind us. It was an opportunity to be the same club we were at the beginning of the year. And we definitely gained momentum after beating the Padres in the first round. That gave us the feeling that, OK, we're back. One thing about the postseason is that it's whoever gets hot. (Getting) into the playoffs means you are a quality club no matter what your record was."

(thanks to The Sporting News for sharing these insights. This stuff is good to know.)

Kevin Marquez

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Scott Ostler on Tim Lincecum (11/7/09 SF Chronicle)

I read Scott Osler's piece on Tim Linceum in which he posed the question: High crime? Nope, just irresponsible.

I underlined the key points.

Lincecum will get off easy in the Bay Area court of public opinion. In fact, his moment of reefer madness might even enhance his stature as a free-spirited goofball.

I do know that if you are a sports hero busted for pot, you should be thankful if you play for a Bay Area team. Remember how, not so many years ago, Warriors' fans would convene at halftime on the "dope ramp," turning the Oakland Arena into the world's largest bong?

Lincecum won't shrug off his crime. We've all gotten to know him well enough to realize that behind the garage-band hair and the cartwheels in the clubhouse is an intelligent young man who approaches his job in a professional manner and spares himself the self-importance and lack of accountability embraced by many ball stars.

Too bad when Timmy placed the pot and the pipe in his car, his events-memory didn't set off alarms. Michael Phelps! Michael Phelps!! Oooogah!

Lincecum will be properly embarrassed and he will make proper apologies, which will be immediately accepted - here and probably everywhere.

But even we zonked-out Bay Area hipsters hope the Franchise plays it smarter next time, because whether the media's reaction is frenzied or laidback, that isn't the kind of news we like to see him make.

(kudos to Scott Ostler)

Kevin Marquez

Meet the Prospect (Madison Bumgarner)

In the Sporting News edition, dated September 28, 2009 was an article entitled Meet the Prospect: Madison Bumgarner.

Who he is: The 10th overall pick in the 2007 draft. Bumgarner made his major league debut on 9/8/09, a month after his 20th birthday. Pitching this season at Advanced Class A and Class AA, Bumgarner went 12-2 with a 1.85 ERA, which puts his career minor league numbers at 27-5 and 1.65. Not too shabby.

Scouting Report: Bumgarne has ace stuff and throws in the mid-90s from a deceptive release point. He needs to tighten his slider and do a better job of hitting his spots down in the zone, but he has the potential to be a front-of-the-rotation starter. Expect him to win a permanent big league rotation spot by mid 2010, if not earlier.

Bumgarner says: The one thing I'm concentrating on improving is throwing breaking balls for strikes and having confidence in them.

His team won the Sally League championship last year and the one thing he cannot live without is his faith. He's a christian and that's a big part of his life.

With the Lord as Bumgarner's shepherd, hopefully the sky is the limit for the success he can attain while in the major leagues.

(thanks to the Sporting News for a little information on an up-and-coming player in the Giants organization.)

Kevin Marquez

Friday, November 6, 2009

Performance Enhancers or Not?

Zev Chafets had a piece in ESPN magazine that listed some familiar players and their choice of enhancers.

Says Chafets... I found that the Hall, like any shrine, is full of secrets. Here's the worst-kept one: Not every immortal is a gentleman.

Some surely were. But Tris Speaker and Rogers Hornsby, both of whom belonged to the Klan? Probably not. How about Hank Greenberg and Joe DiMaggio, with their serious mob connections? Ty Cobb bragged of committing a murder and was suspected of fixing at least one game. Grover Cleveland Alexander pitched drunk when alcohol was a federally banned substance.

Between the lines, old-timers were happy to use any substance they thought would give them an edge. In 1889, pitcher Pud Galvin drank monkey testoserone. Mickey Mantle was forced out of part of the 1961 pennant race by an infection he got from the needle of a quack doctor who shot him up with a concoction of steroids and amphetamine. Sandy Koufax took so many nonanabolic steroids for his sore arm that he was sometimes "half high" on the field. Even Hank Aaron admitted to taking amphetamines once during a game. All of them are in Cooperstown-and the walls haven't crumbled.

Remember, it took a player, Jose Canseco, to spill the beans about widespread steroid use. Now, though, the writers have found religion. With the zeal of the newly converted, they voted by a 3 to 1 margin to keep Mark McGwire out of the Hall.

The Hall can't just exclude two generations of superstars. And if the writers don't like this, well, they need to be reminded that they serve as Cooperstown's electoral college at the pleasure of the Hall's controllers- a nonprofit organization, not MLB- and they can be replaced.

There are plenty of potential voters awaiting their chance...Those less bound to the false pieties those writers have perpetuated over the years.

The Cooperstown museum will include a chapter on steroids as a part of baseball's narrative, just as it includes the chapters on the Negro Leagues and how equipment evolved.

And in the plaque gallery, Manny(Ramirez) and Barry (Bonds), A-Rod and (Roger) Clemens will hang next to the greats of other eras, right where they belong. They earned their spots the old-fashioned way-by doing what was necessary to stand above their peers.

(Zev Chafets is the author of Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues and the Inside Sortory of the Baseball Hall of Fame. I know I will find a way to get a hold of a copy. This is good stuff!)
This was all Zev, all I did was retype and edit.

Kevin Marquez