Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Subtle Reminder

Listening to sports talk radio and reading the weekly publications (Sporting News and ESPN mag) you get a pretty good idea what the expectancy level of play our San Francisco Giants will likely attain.

Of course, the players can disprove any of the prognostications, IF they are good enough. And as of April 27, hope still springs eternal.

In the March 29, 2010 Sporting News magazine here are some of the expert speculations. (In no particular order.)

It's Good if...Barry Zito pitches like he did in the second half of 2009. Trusting his fastball enough to pitch inside. Zito had a 2.83 ERA in 15 starts after the All-Star break, compared with a 5.01 ERA in his 18 first half starts. An effective Zito would give the Giants the best top 4 starting pitching in the division.

(Barry has just had a song dedicated to him by Paul McCaffrey of Murph and Mac. It uses the soundtrack song of Staying Alive changing the "alive" to "Seventy-five." Mc Caffrey does a whale of job. And the B side is from a Grateful Dead song, US Blues, written by Robert Hunter.

Back to back, chicken shack
Son of gun, better change your act
We're all confused, what's to lose
You can call this song the United States Blues.
That's not to mention how Jonathan Sanchez appears to be "raising the bar" to his game. Kudos to backup backstop, Eli Whiteside.)
Three things I Think About the NL West by TBS analyst, former pitcher, David Wells.
1. The Giants will win the division. No question about it. They have the needed offense, and they have Matt Cain and Mr. Cy Young, Tim Lincecum.
2. Adrian Gonzalez will be in the AL by August.
3. Clayton Kershaw will take the next step. Kershaw could be a $20 million player. He has to be aggressive and not be afraid to fail.
Sporting News says: Pablo Sandoval, slightly trimmer but still large at the plate, will win his first batting title.
Look out for...
Sporting News contributor and former major league relief pitcher, Todd Jones, picks one team that could prove the Sporting News wrong.
Offensively, they have the flying/hitting/eating Panda (Pablo Sandoval). Tim Lincecum, the NL's best pitcher, is atop a strong rotation, and Brian Wilson is a solid closer.
A major league scout breaks down the Padres' biggest weakness: "They're kind of a poor-man's version of the Giants. They have good arms, but they'll struggle scoring. It's not only the ballpark, either. There's just not much production in the lineup after Adrian Gonzalez, and teams will pitch around him more than ever."
In the same issue of Sporting News magazine was a profile on Mark DeRosa, one of two key free-agent signings over the winter by the San Francisco Giants. I thought a couple of his comments to questions asked tell a little something about DeRosa.
My hero: My dad- except when I talk to him during a batting slump.
My motto: From my dad- look at who's talking to you before you let their words affect you.
(thanks to the Sporting News and some KNBR680AM- the SportsLeader, for usage of what's in this piece.)
Kevin Marquez

Thursday, April 15, 2010


An article in ESPN magazine on new Chicago Cubs' hitting instructor, Rudy Jaramillo, was interesting because the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals also have new hitting coaches. It appears that teams are trying to get as much bang for their buck as possible and to avoid any more finger pointing as to the acquisitions they made that may not be developing into the kind of production they had hoped to receive.

With Jaramillo, a key project will be Alfonso Soriano. He has joined the Cubs after spending the past 15 seasons with the Texas Rangers.

Jaramillo has a simple system that is so simple he says it took him 20 years to come up with the Five Simple Steps.

Every hitter has a different way of getting started, holding his hands, whatever. But everyone has to apply the same fundamentals. That's the basis of the five steps: establish a rhythm (stay loose before the pitcher releases the ball); see the ball out of the pitcher's hand; get separation (the hands go back and the front comes down); stay square (keep the front shoulder closed and let the hips lead the swing); and transfer weight back to front.

Says Jaramillo, "A hitter learns how to sync that together and it becomes an easy, systematic way of teaching the swing."

(Giants' Mark DeRosa was under Jaramillo's tutelage at Texas)

(thanks to ESPN mag article by Jeff Bradley)

Kevin Marquez

Baseball, You Got to Love It!

I got to see some of the Boston Red Sox versus Minnesota Twins' game in the home opener for the Twins and their brand new stadium.

Mike Cameron of the Boston Red Sox ripped a liner down the left field line that disappeared from sight. The configuration of this new park- which reminds me a lot of AT&T Park, with it's glove and statues of former (Twin) players-has a gap between the left field foul pole and a brick wall. You could only get a football through this space if the football went end-over-end. And even then it would be a tight squeeze.

The umpires had to go to replay and in seeing several replays they got the call right, it was a FOUL BALL!

Isn't that just like baseball, in the first game ever played there a flaw in the construction of this beautiful park was discovered.

(thanks to MLB network for being able to see this amazing play)

Kevin Marquez

Monday, April 12, 2010

Show the Love

When teams are winning you can see all the "high fives" and butt slapping and everything is good. But when teams are finding ways to lose games, or playing good enough to lose, you don't see too much in the way of congratulatory behavior. Not too many "high fives" or patting on a teammate's back(side).

In the March 22, 2010 edition of ESPN magazine, Page 2 had an article entitled Contact High.

The article went on to say how in the fall of 2008, Berkeley social-psych researcher Michael Kraus, along with psychology prof Dacher Keitner, decided to track the performance of NBA teams by the amount of positive physical contact players made during the 2008-09 season. Their work-to be published in an upcoming edition of the journal Emotion- reveals a strong correlation between touching and win totals.

Since players on better teams high-five one another more often than those on lesser squads, the researchers made sure to account for both celebratory high-fives after buckets and more "benign contact" between plays: shoulder touches as the teams buckle down on D or butt slaps coming out of a timeout. Sure enough, the most successful clubs were the ones with players who reached out to one another often and spent lots of time connected. Kraus explains that fist bumps, for example, serve to improve team chemistry, spatial awareness and cooperation among teammates.

Imagine that, aside from downright "grab ass," if you show a teammate you have his back he will generally rise to the occasion and more often than not your team achieves more than just a moral victory but actually snatches victory from the jaws of defeat.

It's 2010 and I felt like this needed to be shared with those who did not catch the article in ESPN magazine.

(thanks to ESPN mag for the insightful information)

Kevin Marquez

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Game One, One Hundred Sixty One To Go

As I was watching Aaron Rowand struggle at the plate (5-AB 0-H) the thought did cross my mind...the good thing about baseball is if you are struggling on offense you do have the opportunity to do something defensively. Making a defensive play when you aren't contributing on offense is the only motivation you will have on days when the ball seems like an aspirin tablet. (I say aspirin because you no doubt will need a couple if the ball isn't hit in your direction on an O'Fer night at the plate.)

Aaron Rowand did make a play on a ball hit by former Giant, Pedro Feliz. So tomorrow's another day and we'll see how if he delivers on offense.

It's only one game and the fact that he made the play on Feliz bodes well for the orange and black. You have to tip your cap to those players who are always finding ways to contribute and they don't just go through the motions instead they battle to overcome lapses in their game (i.e. pitchers get the bunt down, fielders know what they're doing with the ball before they get it, etc.).

Well it appears Damon Bruce, the sports talk show host on 1050AM from Noon to 4pm will be using this time slot to air any dirty laundry there may be while being devoid of a conscious.

After getting an update on the Toronto Blue Jay and Texas Ranger game Bruce learned that Shaun Marcum, Blue Jay pitcher was having his way with the Rangers. After 6 innings Marcum had a perfect game going. Said Bruce, 'If the Rangers get perfectoed, How big a mound of blow do you think Ron Washington will be diving into?'

Turns out they (the Rangers) broke through in the 7th and ended up winning the game 5-4. Phew, lucky for Ron Washington. He didn't have to go face first into the nose candy, eh Damon?

Kevin Marquez

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Who's the Right Fielder for YOUR 2010 San Francisco Giants?

In the Contra Costa Times, Andrew Baggarly asked the question, Who Will Man Right Field?
Randy Winn's heir apparent Nate Schierholtz or Baggarly's reference to Giants' manager Bruce Bochy appearing more willing to take a chance in right. Says Bochy, "The angles are a little different, but right field is right field."

Reading between the lines, Bochy wants the hot bat in the lineup. So we fans of the Giants might see John Bowker start, get his 3 at-bats and then Schierholtz will either pinch-hit and enter the game or replace Bowker outright. As you'll recall, Nate Schierholtz was very proficient in his ability to come up off of the bench and swat at whatever the opposing pitcher was offering.

In other Giant news of note...

While hosting for Gary Radnich on the KNBR 680AM show (9am-Noon) Ray Ratto (a guy I like to refer to as Blotto) says the Giants will win 85 games. Three less than last year. His logic is that you don't improve as much as the Giants did last year and continue to improve. It just doesn't happen.

So all you Giant fans with high hopes, 'Snap out of it. What are you thinking? The great Ray Ratto says IT CANNOT BE DONE.'

To hell with Ray Blotto. The Giants defense is said to be not as good as last year but their offense should be better. If someone is playing a heinous defense, which is literally quite offensive- for the opposing team I suppose, you know the Giants' brass and Bruce Bochy won't let it happen for too long.

It's all about the pitching doing well and staying healthy. IF that happens, and that is a BIG if, I see at least 90 W's.

(thanks to Andrew Baggarly and Ray "Blotto" Ratto for their input)

Kevin Marquez