Monday, August 30, 2010

Bungle in the Tunnel

Yes, this is in reference to the Botcher, a.k.a. Bruce Bochy.

Yesterday, in the Giants 9-7 win, I ask Manager Bochy, why was Javier Lopez brought in to face just one batter? It wasn't his fault Juan Uribe has less range than the ageless Omar Visquel (who is still playing at a high level with the Chicago White Sox) and yet he gets removed for Santiago Casilla. A pitcher who takes your breath away, not because of his awesome ball movement, which can be sensational, but more because you know the catcher doesn't know where Casilla's next pitch will be going.

The Giants need to look seriously at a shortstop who can cover ground. Brandon Crawford, the top selection in the 2008 First Year Player Draft from U.C.L.A. should be high on their list of choices for someone who plays shortstop next year.

Do they do the Buster Posey thing by letting him hang around the minors for the first couple of months or do they bring him with the big club when training camp breaks?

You see, in baseball, you can only hide someone with limited ability so long. And the shortstop position as well as Jose Guillen in right-field is asking for trouble. In every game of the recent series (Aug. 27-29) versus the Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Guillen had misplayed a ball. And it's largely due to the fact that he moves like Bengie Molina would if he were in the outfield.

Not a good fit, to say the least.

This 2010 season has been a fun year and I would hate like hell to see the Giants blow their chances for winning enough games to enter the post-season because the manager thinks a bat is more important than a glove.

Your thoughts? Or is this like what (KNBR sportstalk host) Gary Radnich says most days, "Nobody cares." (When referencing something the vast majority of the listening audience has little to no interest in discussing.)

Kevin Marquez

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fielding Culbreth...Is That A Chip on Your Shoulder?

Say Fielding, every fourth day it's your turn to call balls and strikes, correct? Does this work for you? I mean you get treated well being that you are representing the Major Leagues of Baseball, albeit as an umpire, right?

Judging by your efforts on Sunday, August 22, 2010 at St. Louis, I'd say you were disinterested at best.

The sporadic strike zone you allowed for Barry Zito and the favorable one you provided for a St. Louis Cardinal rookie was in a word: sickening.

The San Francisco Giants pitching staff has had only 2 wins from its starters in the past 16 games and I think the fact that some umpires are inconsistent with the strike zone has a lot to do with it.

Sure, the pitcher has to adjust. But if that means having to throw pitches over the middle of the plate he may as well ask the batter where he wants the pitch thrown. When the umpire exhibits a poor judgment of what a strike is then it is the umpires who need make the adjustments. Someone up in the Replay Booth needs to taser the ump with a tweet that he's off the mark and the game itself is suffering because of it.

The umpires are arbiters of the text inside the rulebooks. They must and shall aways adhere to these rules. The umpire is the person who knows the full-intent and meaning of these rules. It's not open to interpretation. If it is the umpire who needs an interpretation of the rules, he is NOT doing his job.

These "chips on their shoulders" in blue have the attitude that they are the law. Fu-get-about da rulesbook! I am the law. That attitude is as old and stale as the calorically-challenged-umpire's breath.

This is why we need Instant Replay. The same way You Tube has invaded our privacy, a constant camera angle on the "Chips'" work behind the plate will show those (whose job it is to review the umpire) just how consistent that particular "Chip" is and if the umpire gives a half-hearted effort, for whatever reason, it'll be duly noted by the person reviewing his performance.

It has been long overdue that all sports use the technology to get the calls right and not give the officials unlimited power in how they choose to interpret rules. I am the first one to say I'd rather have a human do it but if the human is stubborn and appears to be ad-libbing something that has a distinguished rule assigned to it then that person needs to be replaced.

If you don't want to follow the rules and do what you were hired to do, you no longer do that job.

Of course, like with everything else, not everybody is guilty of this half-hearted effort. We just need to weed out the ones whose consistency leaves something to be desired.

Umpires have set the bar very high for their profession. They don't need attitudes in need of adjustment or chips on their shoulders to lower the bar. They are there to see to it that the rules are followed and no one is getting an unfair advantage. By no means can we accept that it is the umpires whose bad judgment and questionable behavior is what's providing the unfair advantage.

Kevin Marquez

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Best Advice I Ever Got

(From an article in ESPN magazine, dated 8/9/10)

Richard Jefferson (San Antonio Spurs)

"When I first got here, Tim Duncan told me, "Don't suck. As long as you don't suck, you'll be helping the team.' He basically told me that I wasn't very good. Now, most nights, if I play okay, Tim says, "Yo, you didn't suck tonight.' So, for the most part, I try not to think about anything other than not sucking. It's good to know that as long as I don't suck, as long as I don't hurt the team, as long as I'm neutral, I'm okay."

Mariano Rivera (New York Yankees)
"A long time ago, Whitey Ford told me, 'When you're getting a pinch-hitter, don't try to change.'"

Mardy Fish (tennis)
"'If you play like you're broke and hungry, you'll never be either.'" My dad told me that."

Brandon Jennings (Milwaukee Bucks)
"The harder you work during peace, the less you bleed during war."

Barry Bonds (all-time MLB HR leader)
"I got so much good advice from my father and from Willie (Mays). Once when I was a kid, I was talking too much and Willie said: 'Open your eyes, and that'll quiet your voice." I used to talk a lot, but when I started to be quiet and study more, I became a better player."

Jennifer Harman (professional poker player)
"Chip Reese gave me some great advice about 10 years ago. 'You know Jen, If you play your hands right, you can't worry about the outcome.'"

Elton Brand (Philadelphia 76ers)
"My mom always gives me motivation. A long time ago we were going through tough times, and she's very religious, so she says, 'Greater is he that's in me that he that's in the world.' To me, that means you stay with your faith, focus and work hard, and everything will pan out. And it always sseems to do that."


(thanks to the ESPN mag dated August 9, 2010 for the advice)

Kevin Marquez

Everyone With an Opinion is an Expert

It's tough listening to sports talk radio when your favorite team is struggling. And that is because, everyone with an opinion thinks they're an expert.

Just as the word great is often misused, so is the word expert. Not everyone referred to as an expert has that special skill or knowledge in the subject introduced by the sports talk show's host(s). But just as Yogi Berra's quotes are funny, as well as remarkably accurate, what seems so grammatically imperfect is its own charm. Sometimes a caller says something so outrageous you lose track of the subject matter and just laugh hysterically.

Most comments heard on the radio are conjecture. Words spewed from the mouths of fans that have reached their fill of what's been happening and they are not amused.

You may be educated by the host of the show but you cannot expect much from the callers. Occasionally callers will surprise you and perhaps even enlighten you-the listener- but they aren't the reason why I listen. I want to hear the host discuss what he has determined to be the hot topics based on what happened the previous day.

Good hosts have a low tolerance for bad callers, unless the callers are so outrageous it's gut-busting funny! (The host can always blame the bad call on the call screeners.)

680AM, KNBR and 1050AM have hosts with good sense of humors so their shows will have their moments.

Kevin Marquez

Baseball Terminology...A Lot Depends on Broadcasters

I feel very fortunate that the San Francisco Giants hire the best play-by-play announcers. These "voices" sell the product that is Giants baseball better than any advertisement could and they have decent ads.

Baseball begins in March, with Spring training, and ends in October (if your favorite team plays well enough to make the post-season). That's eight months of a twelve month year. The voices of your favorite ballclub are like family, the way they enter your life by way of the airwaves. Some people prefer watching baseball on television, but when I first followed the grand old game I had a transistor and it's my preference to listen to games on the radio.

People see me walking with my walkman and they probably see something that is outdated but it serves me just fine.

I enjoy tuning into Giants baseball and am entertained by the likes of Jon Miller, Dave Fleming, Duane Kuiper, Mike Krukow and occasionally J.T. Snow or F.P. Santangelo. I am so plugged into their insights that often I'll say something and moments later the announcer will repeat what I just said.

Baseball terms, you can find them under Wikipedia's glossary of baseball. The explanation of terms is interesting, especially since the glossary is an ever-growing list of words.

For example, it's no longer a bloop, excuse-me swing, duck snort or dying quail. The in vogue term, according to Giant broadcasters (Miller and or Fleming), is looping liner.

Ninety-nine percent of the time a looping liner falls safely. If a fielder were somehow able to catch this accidental phenomenon it would have been described as a squibber or a ball that was cued as if hit with a billiard stick.

Kevin Marquez

Monday, August 16, 2010

Be on the Lookout for Bad Home Plate Umpiring.

Nothing ruins the good ole game of baseball like bad home plate umpiring.

Yesterday, at AT&T, Daryl Cousins assumed the role of umpire calling balls and strikes. And the attitude he exuded was, 'it doesn't matter what you think, if I say it's a strike, it's a strike.'

The San Diego Padres were the benefactors of a more batter-friendly strike zone than were the hometown Giants.

Now, I've said this before and it bears repeating, when your team struggles to score runs, things like this are magnified tremendously.

And as far as Cousins is concerned, this was another day of bad judgment and questionable behavior. It wasn't so much a matter of teaching an old dog (as Cousins has been around a few years) new tricks but more like teaching a dumb ass dog a (one-singular) new trick. But apparently, Cousins never got "fetch!"

You could see the look on his face, the countenance of someone searching for trouble as if armed and ready to toss the first person who questioned his questionable efforts. It was, in a word, disgusting.

Meanwhile, the Padres hit duck snort after duck fart and they bled the Giants with dukeys until the final score read 8-2.

Perhaps the outcome would have been different had Jose Guillen decided to be happy with a leadoff double. Or the several batters who had 3-balls 0-strike counts only to get 2 phantom strikes on pitches way off the plate but in the center of the catcher's glove (word to Cousins, it kind of matters where his glove is before you bellow "Strike." I mean, uh, if the catcher is setting up outside of the strike zone, it's, uh, not a strike."

A count that goes from 3-and-0 to full, means the batter, not knowing what the umpire's strike zone is, will probably protect. And sometimes the foul is a popup to a fielder.

Oh well, it was only one game. I hadn't graded the performance of Daryl Cousins before yesterday but I will now. To see just how consistently bad this guy is when it's his turn to call balls and strikes.

I won't give him the benefit of the doubt because of his demeanor. He is not worthy of such respect.

Kevin Marquez

Friday, August 13, 2010

Barry Zito as told to Matt Crossman

In the June 21, 2010 edition of the Sporting News was an insightful article on Barry Zito. A chance to look inside the make-up of Barry Zito the man to see just how intelligent this guy is and why he succeeds at the things he tries.

His won/loss record during his first 3 seasons with the San Francisco Giants is 31-43, with a 4.56 ERA. We Giant fans know he (like Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez) doesn't get the best of support on the offensive end of the Giants. This has to be duly noted, in all fairness to #75.

At 32, Zito has revived his career. Zito describes his fall and rise to the Sporting News.

I was trying to control things that I couldn't control-like what the batter would do. It was frustrating to say the least. Now I know I can control only how I prepare for a game and how I throw the baseball. However hitters react to it. I have to just forget and focus on the next pitch.

They gave me a lot of money to come here and do what I had been doing in Oakland. I almost took it too seriously instead of just playing baseball. You can't not take the frustrations home. Anyone who says he doesn't take them home, he's just trying to be cool. If you have passion, if you really love something, you're going to be frustrated when it's not going well.

(More than mechanics)
The nature of players is to make mechanical adjustments. But a lot of times success comes when you relax and just have fun. I didn't change a whole lot of mechanical stuff. The physical is just a manifestation of what's inside your head. People like to point to physical things because it's a little easier to explain that. You're never going to explain the psyche of a player, but everything starts with your mental process. If you pitch with confidence, your pitches are better. If you pitch with doubt, your pitches aren't as good. I can't explain why or how, but sometimes they just break better.

What doesn't kill you...
It was a really good experience to go through. You learn about who you are when you have tough times. When you persevere through a tough situation you always end up a better person. I learned that I could handle a lot of stuff, that I could make it through almost anything, that I can't please everyone in life. When people say bad things about you-get personal-you realize that you can't control what people think about you, and there's no use trying. I used to put a lot of stock in that stuff. Coming up as a kid, everyone loved me from the start. Wow, this is amazing, everyone loves me. Then the opposite happened. You lose the attachment to that. You stop getting any kind of fulfillment off that. Instead, I get fulfillment off my own interpretation of my life.

It's a growing experience. God gives us every experience, good or bad, for our spirit to evolve. I've done a lot of growing, a lot of learning. I've learned to trust myself and my instincts and stop worrying about what everyone thinks of me. Ultimately, it's none of my business; it's just their projection on to me.


Pablo Sandoval. (a.k.a. the Panda)
Born on August 11, 1986.

When asked where he'd like to be in 5 years he responded...

"I want to be the same guy I am right now. Play hard every day and try to keep my mind on the game. Still loving the game. I want to be in this organization. They gave me the opportunity to come up through their farm system. I want to be here.

Former Giant, Rich Aurilia says this about Sandoval: "When I had my similar year, I was 30. To put up the numbers he did last year (2009) at age 22 or 23 is staggering. Plus, he's a free swinger. If he ever does transform into having some sort of plan up there, he could be even more dangerous. But it's a double-edged sword. You don't want to take his aggressiveness away."

With the arrival of Pat Burrell, let me list a few of his numbers from his career. Because there is no reason to think he can NOT do what he's done throughout the remainder of this 2010 season.

He turns 34 on October 10th.
The following seasons he hit at least 30 homers: 2002 (37), 2005 (32), 2007 (30), 2008 (33)
At least 90 runs batted in: 2002 (116), 2005 (117), 2006 (95), 2007 (97).

I've heard players say they anticipated that Burrell would have a tough go at being a designated hitter. And now that he's back in the National League he'd relocate his comfort zone. Those former teammates have proven to be prophetic.

(thanks to the Sporting News for the Barry Zito piece.)

Kevin Marquez

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Singing the Men-in-Blue Blues by Will Leitch

In the June 20, 2010, Sporting News magazine Will Leitch had some excellent insights on the men in blue. Here's what he had to say...

My late grandfather, Dennis Dooley, was the ost famous Connie Mack League youth baseball umpire Moweaqua, Ill., ever saw. An old military man with a buzz-cut, six-pack abs, and his dog tags hanging around his neck, he exuded authority and omnipotence. Once, a kid slid into home and Grandpa called him out. The kid yelled, "I was safe!" Grandpa stood over him, dog tags dangling in the kid's face. "No," he said, calmly but firmly. "You were out because I said you were out. You're out by definition. I am the law here. "

The umpire said you were out, thus, you were. We're not as into authority anymore. We think we know beter. An umpire is no longer an arbiter of truth; an umpire is simply a human being, prone to the same foibles as the rest of us.

For decades, we yelled,"Kill the umpire!" not really meaning it, of course. We were striving against what we could not control, accepting that the result wasn't in our hands, that life could never truly be fair. Now? Now, well... we've figured out how to kill the umpire.

What pushed us over the edge was not that Jim Joyce missed the call; what did was Joyce's being so open about the fact he had missed it. Joyce handled himself with class, grace and heartbreaking pathos; he said he felt horrible that he "cost the kid a perfect game." He wept. He was, painfully, human. He said he blew the call. He said, "I'm sorry." Thus did end the age of the omnipotent umpire.

Umpires were put in place to make sure the right call is made. Cameras are a clear upgrade. Cameras are perfection.

But cameras have no authority, and by choosing CORRECT rather than GOVERNED, we lose something about baseball that we've loved: This was a game of authority, of clear boundaries, of a stadium ruled by men who made the right call because they said they made the right call, darnit. We were powerless to defy them. They were law.

We are ceding that law, collectively, to the cameras. I cannot argue. As a society, we demand that we have a Right Answer. We believe science and math, studious research and analysis can give us a correct answer, solve any problem. Mystery is unacceptable, faith in another human unsustainable. We dont' want authority; we want answers. The men in blue, they're as archaic as that crew cut, those dog tags, a belief that a man might be right because he said he was.


Pete Rose. I'm sure a lot of you have emotional attachments to Charlie Hustle, and why wouldn't you? He played baseball the way we imagine we would have. But with the recent assertion-from Leitch's old site, Deadspin-that Pete corked his bat, is there anything else we could learn about one of my childhood heroes that would make me lose more faith? Wait, his hair wasn't a toupee, was it?

(thanks to Will Leitch's input on the Men in Blue and the Pete Rose tidbit)

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sounds of the Game

From ESPN magazine MLB Player X-Anonymous

There are lots of sounds that can distract a player when he's on the field. I can hear everything that goes on in the stands-the hot dog vendors, the beer guy, the hecklers. And when the crowd really starts to scream, even at home, it affects the game. It's next to impossible for shortstop to hear the third baseman or for a centerfielder to hear the rightfielder. That's one of the reasons you see so many collisions in the outfield. It's hard to hear a guy yelling, "I got it," over 30,000 shrieking fans.

Thing is, when I'm in the field, I need to be able to hear the sound of the ball coming off the bat; it helps me to anticipate where it's going. A ball hit on the barrel sounds louder and more pure than the slap of one hit on the bat's end . Line drives sound fat, weak grounders don't. Sometimes a guy's swing can fool you, so you rely on your ears as much as your eyes. Infielders listen for the impact to react quickly. Outfielders listed to judge whether a ball is going deep or shallow. If you can't hear it, there's a good chance you won't get to it.

At the plate, it's a bit quieter. You're so locked in when you're hitting, it's hard for opposing fans to distract you. Hitting is all about the eyes anyway; the fastest fastball is silent to me, even in a quiet park. The only people I hear are the ump and the catcher and the occasional pitcher taunting me. Both can make me laugh. Even after I make contact. I don't hear a home run, I feel it.

When you play so many games in a season, you enjoy the chance to have a little chat on the field, and catchers are awesome at it. We're always giving each other hell at the plate. Last week, I robbed a catcher of an RBI and he greeted me with a "Way to go, Jerk" on my next at-bat. Brian McCann, in Atlanta, always has a good sarcastic one-liner ready for hitters. The Mets' Rod Barajas is an old-timer who always delivers.

Further Review
An infamous umpire explains why baseball needs more replay.
Don Denkinger knows all too well what Jim Joyce went through. In the 1985 World Series, Denkinger botched a call at first base that kept the Royals alive in the 9th inning of Game 6. They went on to win that night and then beat the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7. For 25 years, Denkinger has had to live with the fact that his mistake helped change the outcome of baseball's championship.

Denkinger is speaking out in favor of instant replay (current umpires remain mum at the request of MLB) "If we had it, no one would even remember who the umpire was at first base a week later."

Denkinger, who retired in 1998, doesn't buy into the limited use of instant replay. "We need a system in place where a manager can press a button when he wants to challenge a call, then a light goes on in the press box," he says. "An umpire or a supervisor will be there to review the play. If he rules that the play has been missed, it's changed. Simple."

"You should not be haunted by one call for the rest of your life," he says. "I worked 30 years as an umpire. No one remembers the two perfect games I worked or that I worked the plate for Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, a 1-0 game. All they remember is the call I missed. You work so hard to build a reputation, then it's all taken away in a split second.

"We're wasting the technology. We need instant replay."

Now you know the words this man speaks are heartfelt. He's lived it and it really is unfair that he's remembered for an honest mistake.

So he blew a call. We all make mistakes. Who's to say which one is worse than the other? If the capability of replay was available it would have saved him the humiliation of living under the cloud of a bad call.

He is speaking out about Instant Replay so that others won't have to endure the embarrassment of an honest mistake.

Honest mistake, to me that's just a stutter, a blip on the radar screen. An impulse gone wrong.

Because most people care about how they present themselves, how they approach whatever it is they do, it's an honest attempt at doing something that just happened to have an unfavorable outcome.

The "Denker" is right to want Instant Replay. All the baseball purists who say it'll ruin the game should have a loved one kidnapped and the authorities who's job it is to find the loved one should be handicapped in a way that will not allow them to locate the loved one.

Let them live in a manner that emulates their limited thinking. That'll teach 'em!

Kevin Marquez

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pitchers Have to Do It All (to be successful)

Over the weekend of August 5-8, 2010, the Giants visited the Braves in Atlanta, Georgia.
When it was all said and done,the Giants escaped with a victory.

An anemic batting lineup needs all the help it can get. That is to say, if you cannot hit the ball you had better catch it. In Saturday's game, the Braves had the bases loaded with nobody out and Matt Cain dealt. Before you knew it there were 2 outs and the bases still loaded. No runs had scored.

But when Troy Glaus stepped into the batter's box, Cain immediately fell behind. As Jon Miller is wont to say, 'Just like that, the count is 3 balls and one strike.' Cain's next pitch was right down the groove, so now it's full at 3-balls and 2-strikes. Cain is still forced to come in because a pitch out of the strike zone forces in a run. So he lays it right in there and Glaus is all over it. Only his liner was right back at Cain and Cain flinched as the ball went by him. He had a chance to make the play but he short-armed it like a little-person bullfighter.

Then to compound his inability to get in front of the ball, he lays one in there to a struggling Rick Ankiel (if he had 8 at-bats up to this point, he struck out in 6 of them) and the former pitcher turned outfielder ripped it off the wall for a double and a run batted in making the score 3-0. This happened to be the final score.

What made Greg Maddux so good was that he could field his position. For the most part, he got into position to make the play. It's why he won all of those Gold Glove awards. Former Giant left-hander, Kirk Rueter, lost a shot a winning some Gold Gloves because of Maddux.

I mention Rueter because he was the best Giant pitcher, to my knowledge, at getting in position to make a play. His career had the longevity it did because he made the play with his glove that others are unable to make. And therefore, those players are no longer in the big leagues.

A starting pitcher needs 5 innings (15 outs and the lead) to qualify for a win. He has to both field his position and handle the bat. If that means sacrificing runners over or just fouling off several pitches as to add a degree of difficulty to the opposing pitcher's outing then so be it. An inability to field one's position and handle the bat gives that pitcher a lesser chance of succeeding (winning).

Holding base-runners on base is another facet of the pitcher's arsenal. Those who pay little attention to the runner usually pay the price. Earlier this year, Jonathan Sanchez lost 1-0. San Diego reached base via the base-on-balls and that runner proceeded to steal second and third because Jonathan didn't feel the need to keep at least one-eye on the runner.

The upcoming series against the San Diego Padres is huge! This is a team where fundamentals are everything. The team that is able to execute those fundamentals WILL win the 3-game series.

Notes: David Ross, of the Atlanta Braves, has made a career out of beating the Giants like a drum. As a Dodger, Pirate, Red and now Brave, he has homered. He has 68 career homers and I'm thinking he has double-digits against the Giants. (I don't know how to look it up, if you know how please do and I'd be interested to see what the tally is as of 8/9/10.)

Kevin Marquez

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Not So Fast, My Prognosticating Friends!

In the July 5th, 2010 edition of Sporting News magazine is a look at how Chris Bahr, Ryan Fagan and Stan McNeal see the races heating up.

My only concern is that of the National League West. It's the only division I am interested in because our San Francisco Giants have something to say about who wins the West or who wins the Wild Card.

If you have the time to look back at how I thought the 2010 season would go, in the West, you will see that I didn't disrespect the San Diego Padres. Due in large part to how they finished the 2009 season. Evidently, the experts didn't glean anything from how the young Pads finished last season. And in this article, even though they've been leading the division for most of the year, the Padres get no love whatsoever.

SAN DIEGO PADRES: Top Target: Corey Hart (of the Brewers)
Will the rotation hold up? It has been one of the National League's best, BUT the workloads of the youngsters, will be monitored.
Look out for... Mat Latos. Second-baseman David Eckstein says, "He goes out there like, 'I'm going to come after you with my good stuff; if you can hit it, good for you.'"

Predicted finish for San Diego: Third in NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers: Top Target: Cliff Lee (of the Mariners. Lee was sent to Texas a few weeks prior to the July 31 trade deadline.)
Do they have enough power? The Dodgers have one of the N.L.'s most balanced offenses but can't afford for Manny Ramirez to falter.

Look out for... Vicente Padilla. Catcher, Brad Ausmus says, "He was our opening day starter and was hurt most of the first half. If he pitches well in the second half, that bodes well."

Predicted finish for Los Angeles: N.L. West Champions

San Francisco Giants

Top target: David DeJesus (of Kansas City. DeJesus was injured shortly after this article hit the presses. As of August 5th, he is still on the disabled list.)

Which needs more help, the bullpen or the offense? 1B/C Buster Posey and OF Pat Burrell have improved the offense. Now the relief corps needs a boost. (Dead on. They acquired Ramon Ramirez (RHP) from Boston and Javier Lopez (LHP) from the Pirates. Both are relief pitchers.)

Note: To get Lopez the Giants sent Joe Martinez (RHP) and John Bowker (0F). To acquire Ramirez the Giants sent Daniel Turpin (RHP) of the Richmond Flying Squirrels to the Portland Sea Dogs.

Look out for... Buster Posey. Reliever Jeremy Affeldt says: "Buster has a good 2-strike approach and hits well with runners in scoring position."

Predicted Finish: 4th in the NL West.

I would also like to add the importance of Pablo Sandoval. It's time for the Panda to come out of hibernation.

(thanks for the food for thought from the Sporting News. Don't know about how accurate they will be but the article drew a response from yours truly.)

Kevin Marquez