Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Monday, March 28, 2011

Know Thy Enemy Part Four - And Last But Not Least, the Hated Ones

Giants 2010 Victory Parade

About a month ago, I got called out by a Giants fan for being “obsessed” about the Giants on this blog.  My immediate reaction was, “no way, I hate them, but there is no way I’m obsessed with them.”  But I got to thinking about that statement and realized that perhaps there is some merit to his accusation.  So I checked all the 55 postings on the blog up to that point.  I pulled stats on any references I made to teams other than the Dodgers.  If the entire article was on another team, (i.e. Killebrew and the Twins or a pre-season look at the Rockies), then I just counted those articles one time.
From12/22/2010-02/28/2011,Teams referenced in this blog other than the Dodgers:
San Francisco Giants - 17
New York Yankees - 5
Colorado Rockies - 4
Philadelphia Phillies - 4
Anaheim Angels - 3 (I’ll never call them Los Angeles until they officially move to L.A.)
San Diego Padres - 3
New York Mets - 3
Minnesota Twins - 3
Arizona Diamondbacks - 2
Atlanta Braves - 1
Baltimore Orioles - 1
Boston Red Sox - 1
Chicago Cubs - 1
Chicago White Sox - 1
Cleveland Indians - 1
Detroit Tigers - 1
Florida Marlins - 1
Oakland A’s - 1
Pittsburgh Pirates - 1
Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals - 1
Okay, so he’s right.  I’m obsessed with the Giants.  When I address another team on this blog, there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to be the Giants.   (By my calculations, it's a 30% chance that the mere mention of another team is of the Giants).  So, what you gonna do about it?  After all, it’s only natural, I should be obsessed with the Giants.  I’ve lived in this Bay Area region now for the past 15 seasons.  Every time I turn on sports talk radio, it’s Giants, Giants, Giants.  The anti-LA sentiment is palpable, and it’s not just sports.  Bay Area natives will argue that their region is better from amusement parks, airports, freeways, weather, restaurants, beaches, stadium food, music venues, malls, bike trails, even street gangs.  (Yes,  gang culture divides between regions, with rival gangs “norteños vs sureños”).
When I hear or see something related to the Giants and Dodgers, I often report it.  When I hear or see something that may be only Giants related, I sometimes write about it.  They are after all, the defending champs.  As much as it pains me to write that, the truth is the truth.  I attend at least 6 games between the Dodgers and Giants in San Francisco each year, donning the blue colors.  That alone sparks controversy and creates stories.
So in the past month I have tried to back off from reporting too much Giants stuff, but now that the truth is out there.  Now that the whole world acknowledges my “obsession” with the Giants, well the gloves are off.  I’m not going to hold back.  I guess I could have created this blog on a Dodgers-Giants rivalry theme with the amount of material that there is to report.
So with that introduction, my review today is on the final National League West division rival, the defending champion San Francisco Giants.  
An Amazing Year
The Giant fans had a dream season in 2010.  After having so many great players wearing the orange and black, dating back to the late 50’s.  They were never able to win that elusive crown.  Then a group of misfit position players teamed with the best pitching in baseball got the job done.  I just shook my head as the Phillies rolled over and died in the NLCS.  What happened to that team that dominated us the previous two years?
Their best pitching staff ever
What a staff they have.  Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner and Zito.  I’ll put those five up against the Phillies starters and could easily argue the the Giant starters are better.  They proved that fact in the NLCS last year.  Those top four got the Giants over the hump that the Dodgers were unable to ascend in ’08 and ’09.  And you have to give credit where credit is due.  For the past three seasons, the Giants have led the league in ERA.  The weaknesses they have of the five are obviously Zito, but aside from his salary, he isn’t that bad.  
Giant rookie pitcher Madison Bumgarner proved to be a solid addition to an already potent pitching staff
The only current concerns for that staff is keeping them healthy.  All of them pitched injury free in 2010.  Though Bumgarner has been lit up in Spring Training, how seriously can that be taken?  He could simply be working on a pitch or two.  I don’t see that as a big deal.
The Bullpen
Brian Wilson (3-3, 1.81 ERA, 70 games, 48 saves),  Sergio Romo (5-3, 2.18 ERA, 68 games), Santiago Castilla (7-2, 1.95 ERA, 52 games), Late season acquisition from Pittsburgh Javier Lopez (2-0, 1.42 ERA, 14 late season pennant race games).  These guys were lights out.  Others were solid - Dan Runzler (3-0, 3.03 ERA, 41 games), Guillermo Mota and Jeremy Affeldt had their moments.  That starting staff and lights out bullpen carried a poor hitting offense and mediocre defense to the World Series Championship.  The Giant team ERA was a microscopic 3.36.
Sabean acquisition Javier Lopez was a great pick up.  Here he is  in game one of the NLCS against the Phillies

The Giant Offense
How bad was the Giant offense?  Well you need to go back two decades to find a more feeble offensive championship team.  This club had some sock and improved in the latter months, but if it weren’t for a dramatic 10 game Padre losing streak in Aug-September.  The Giants World Championship drought would be working on its 57th consecutive year.
Buster Posey is a beast.  Coming off a well deserved Rookie of the Year campaign, Posey will be an MVP candidate this year if he continues to progress. With only 108 games under his belt last season, Posey’s line was .305, .357, .505, .862, with 18 homers and 67 RBI.
A great hitter, Buster Posey will give nightmares to N.L. pitchers for years to come
Aubrey Huff looks to get the nod at first base.  The 33 year old veteran enjoyed a fine injury free season in 2010 (.290, .385, .506, .891, 26 HRs, 86 RBI).  His ability to keep up that production will be seriously challenged as his age advances.  With up and coming Brandon Belt in the wings, the Giants look to be solid at first base for years to come.  (Belt is hitting .343 over 69 ABs this spring). 

Freddy Sanchez will start at second base and hopes to be healthy.  Sanchez (.292, .342, .397, .739, 7 HRs, 47 RBI) looks to improve those numbers by playing more than the mere 111 games he logged last season.  

Miguel Tejada replaces Edgar Renteria and Juan Uribe at shortstop.  With the defensive range of a statue, the Giants hope that his offensive numbers compensate for the runs he will give up due to his diminishing range at short.  Tejada’s UZR over his career is at -30 which is astoundingly bad. His offense is declining too, but not at the steady rate of his defense (.269, .312, .381, .692, 15 HRs, 71 RBI).  

Then the question remains, which Pablo Sandoval shows up this year?  He is slotted for third base, and he has lost a lot of weight.  His numbers thus far in Spring Training are promising over 69 ABs, with 3 Homers, 12 RBIs and a .290 avg.  Sandoval’s competition, Mark DeRosa, coming off an injury plagued season is holding his own this Spring hitting at a .310 clip.
Cody Ross, Andres Torres, Aaron Rowand, Pat Burrel and Nate Shierholtz don’t really strike the fear in opponents, but they hold their own and they proved last season that they could get clutch hits.  Ross himself carried the club through several post-season victories.   
He hits two homers in a game and gets traded the next day, good thing we kept  Ricky Ledee.  Thanks,  Ned.
Winning does amazing things to a team’s confidence.  The Giants have swagger.  Something they have lacked since the days when Bonds/Kent/Burks/Aurilia/Mueller were in the prime of their careers.  I really don’t see this team as one that  dominates anyone on the offensive side of things.  It remains to be seen how their winning ways affect them this year.  A reality TV show for Showtime will be filmed within their clubhouse for a good portion of the year.  Brian Wilson has proved to the nation that he is one strange man.  Some find him funny.  Others arrogant, while I will just wait it out.   One thing for sure, he is enjoying the new-found celebrity.  Now will the oblique injury linger for the year?  
Will the pitching hold up.  Zito, Lincecum, Cain and Sanchez each had 33 starts last year.  There were no substantial injuries with the club.  How often does that happen for an entire year?  Now the Giants are asking for the health issues not to surface for a second consecutive year.  Are they pressing their luck?  Already Cain and Wilson have had to shut things down this spring.
Bruce Bochy just creates good clubhouse chemistry wherever he goes.  He’s about as interesting as watching paint dry when interviewed.  He’s a real cliche machine, but players love playing for him and he now has a world championship under his belt.  I see the Giants contending throughout the year, but an injury or two will surface and lesson their win total in 2011.  My prediction is that they finish the year with an 89-73 record, just missing the division title and also falling short in the wild card race.  
So I pick the Giants to not make the playoffs.  Is that the Dodger fan in me making a pick with my heart?  Yeah, probably.


  1. Hey you live among them so nothing wrong with knowing the enemy. Jints team does not strike any fear in me. Looking forward to the Opener. Un dia mas o 42 horas.

  2. Thanks, Emma. You always have the most positive outlook on things. Enjoy the season!
    Let me know if you make it up North for a game.