Saturday, September 27, 2014

Your 2014 Giants: Playoffs Edition

The Giants made the playoffs!  The Giants made the playoffs!  The Giants made the playoffs!

ogc thoughts

Now that's the first thing I'll tackle.  Some people view the wildcard as not being part of the playoffs.  They seem to place it into the same void as when teams play an extra series to determine who wins a division.  That I can understand, it is deciding something within the regular season, the divisional winner.

I can also understand calling it part of the playoffs too.  The season's over, and now you are playing games to decide who gets to move onto the next phase of the playoffs.

But in this case, I don't see why people can't see it as part of the playoffs:  it is part of the playoff rules now, and therefore part of the playoffs.  Only two teams in each league are playing, again part of the playoffs.  Football has done this for years, consider it a bye for the division winners, it's part of the playoffs.

Three Playoffs in Five Years, Three Eras

I just realized this huge oddity about this Giants era of playoffs:  we have had three different aces of the staff in the three playoffs.  Lincecum in 2010, Cain in 2012, and Bumgarner in 2014.

It speaks partly to the TINSTAAP aspect of pitchers, but just think of how blessed we are to have had three DIFFERENT ace level pitchers on our staff over this short time period.  I know Lincecum is not part of the rotation now, but he was for most of the season.  And of course, Cain was out for most of the season.

Teams can point to aces in a generational sense of the word, like Drysdale, Koufax, Fernando, Hershiser, Kershaw for the Dodgers, they have been very blessed.  But they rarely overlap these eras, and extremely rarely, have three of them on the staff, with each of the three taking turns as the ace of the staff in each playoff run.  Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner.

Oh, there was the Braves with Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz.  But the Giants developed all of their pitchers, and Maddux was a signed free agent, lucky for them that he wanted to pitch there (and not for us when he signed back up with Chicago).  The A's had Hudson, Mulder, Zito, as well.  Though, aside from maybe one or three good seasons up front, Zito was never much of an ace, Mulder neither, while Lincecum, Cain, and Bumgarner had extended and/or better periods of ace performances.  I'm sure there were others (Baltimore's four 20-game winners come to mind now), but the point is how rare it is, and even rarer that each of the aces rise to the fore, in rapid succession, replacing each other.  Who will be the next, Crick, Blackburn, Beede, another draft pick?

Playoff Roster

They are not announcing the roster until the morning of the game, plus they can make different choices in each phase of the playoffs.  However, the Giants roster has been so decimated by injuries or lack of performance that the hitters and starting pitchers are pretty much locks, with the bullpen being mostly locks.

Position Players:

  1. Blanco CF
  2. Panik 2B
  3. Posey C
  4. Sandoval 3B
  5. Pence RF
  6. Belt 1B
  7. Crawford SS
  8. Ishikawa LF
  9. Susac C
  10. Arias 3B/SS/2B/1B/LF?
  11. Perez LF/CF/RF
  12. Duffy 2B/SS/3B/LF?
Only other choices are Quiroz, Duvall, Dominguez, and Brown.   Nobody's performance screams must be on the playoff roster.  Even Perez wasn't that good, but the Giants need an actual OF to take over for Ishikawa in the Wild Card mid-way in game if leading or tied.  The Giants could have really used a better OF on the bench.  Too bad Schierholtz was not available (or if he was, that they didn't pick him up), he would have been good to have.   As much as I liked Morse's addition, I think we originally was trying to get Omar Infante but he signed with someone else.


Starting Pitchers:

  1. Bumgarner
  2. Peavy
  3. Petit
  4. Hudson (maybe Vogelsong)
The first three are obvious based on performance.  Hudson probably earned the starting job with his great last start.  Have to think Bochy will reward Huddy with a start for great season overall and great last start, plus it is not like Vogie has been on fire lately either, yesterday's start was not that great, which would be a reason for Bochy to chose him.  Both have been meh lately - or worse in Hudson's case, if he didn't have that great last start, Vogie probably would have gotten the starting job, by default.  Hence why I say maybe.  But Vogie has a lot of experience relieving while Hudson doesn't, so that probably will factor into the decision some as well.




Relievers:

  1. Casilla
  2. Romo
  3. Affeldt
  4. Lopez
  5. Machi
  6. Kontos
  7. Strickland
  8. Lincecum

Despite being on the roster all season, Gutierrez is probably not going to be on any playoff roster.  Definitely not on the roster for the Wild Card.  Both Kontos and Strickland have been too good.   And Lincecum is too much of a wild card not to include, I think.

But there is one spot left in the above roster configuration.  They could go for Duvall or Dominguez for power.  Brown hasn't been used much, so I doubt he'll make the roster, even with his two hits today.  He's probably only here to absorb the environment and give his career a kick in the butt to get him going faster, incent him.  They could add Gutierrez to reward him for the season, as well, since there is a spot.   There is also Cordier, and while good so far, extremely wild, with walks and HBP galore, so probably too wild a card to play.

Thus, for the last spot, for the Wild Card, I doubt they go for another pitcher, not with so many choices, right now I have to think the extra spot will go to a position player, and since Dominguez has been used lately but not Duvall, have to give nod to him.  Especially since he only has 1 K in 12 AB, that's great in limited opportunities, but he needs to be able to hit as well as control his bat if he wants to stay up here.

However, for the rest of the playoffs, I can see the Giants giving the spot to the starting pitcher who is not starting, whether Hudson or Vogelsong, to reward all the starting pitchers.  And again, it is not like Gutierrez has been that great, both starters have better ERA and FIP than JC, else the story would be way different.  Plus, clearly, Bochy likes to go to the bullpen early and often in the playoffs, he's the new Captain Hook, just look at what he's done in the past, going to starters, with an "All In" attitude to win it now and worry about later, later.

Evaluation

When you are missing two big cogs of the offense in Pagan and Morse, of course the team is hampered.  It would have been nice to carry an extra OF, but few good players sign to be a bench guy all season, so that has to be taken care of mid-season and Sabean was not able to do that.  A Schierholtz type, who plays great defense and can hit some, would have been ideal.  Probably should have made a deal back then, but at that point, who would have thought both Pagan and Morse would be lost to us.

Still, if Belt can get back his swing - and he appears to be doing it in recent days - having Panik, Posey, Belt, Pence, Sandoval 2 to 6 would be a good enough offense, I think, for our pitching.

But it won't be like 2010 or 2012, we will have to battle to get to the promise land.  But I don't think it's out of the question either, we have a strong enough rotation, we just need some hitters to carry us.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Your 2014 Giants Did Not Back Into the Playoffs, They Won Their Way In

I've been reading around that the Giants backed into the playoffs.  Preposterous!

ogc thoughts

The way I've always understood backing in is probably from football, where it makes much more sense, because one game usually separates playoff teams from wait 'til next year teams (of which the 49ers were too much the latter than the former, in my formative years).  In that situation, it is the last day of the season, and you need either a win for your team or a loss on the other to make the playoffs, and what happens is that your team failed to win, so they had to wait for the other team to lose, at which point, they back into the playoffs.

But that is not the case here.   Sure, the Giants technically got in because the Brewers lost.  But irrespective of them winning or losing, the Giants only needed to win one game in this four game series with the Padres in order to make the playoffs.  They did that yesterday, they won their way into the playoffs.

And this is all random circumstance.  If you can go back in time and reschedule the games around differently, with wins and losses, and dates and times, but still the same final result, there will be scenarios where the Giants "win" their way into the playoffs, not "back into" the playoffs.

Now, if it was the last day of the season, and the Brewers' loss put the Giants into the playoffs, but the Giants won later that day, that to me is still technically not "backing in", as again, the random circumstance created that situation.  But I can better understand people saying that, as there was no more games left, and it all happened on the last day of the season.

So I find it insulting that people are referring to it in this fashion and I wonder if it bothers the Giants too.  It denigrates their achievement of winning enough games in the season to make the playoffs.  Remember, there has been 159 games played already, they worked hard to get where they are today, especially getting over the disappointing June Swoon that slid into a July Roller Coaster, until they righted the ship in August, but then limped in September.  It is a marathon which they made it to the end finishing with enough to get into the playoffs, that's not backing in.

I'm OK with Limping In

Speaking of which, I am OK with characterizing this as limping into the playoffs.  That captures the entire picture, as they are only playing .500 ball right now, this month, and people forget in complaining about the team's offense that they have been missing their lead-off hitting (Pagan), #3 hitter (Belt) and #6 hitter (Morse), who was suppose to lengthen out the lineup for them, as they have all been injured.   Most teams missing half of their top hitters tend to not do so well with their offense.

And we are only getting back Belt.  Hopefully he will be enough to for the team to do something in the playoffs.  He will have to be, or maybe somebody can be the Cody Ross of this year's playoffs, and carry the team on his back.

Put on top of that the fact that Sandoval has not been a #4 hitter since his hitting streak ended at the start of August, 42 games, .261/.307/.345/.653 batting line, only 2 HR in 165 AB, only 84 ISO, until his nice game yesterday.   That really killed the offense too, Bochy probably should have swapped him and Pence in the lineup and have Hunter bat 4th while Panda bat 5th (or 6th, really, but all the injuries made that impossible).  
The Panda could have gotten teams hankering to sign him up if he finished up the year the way Hunter did last season, but he came up small until yesterday, when it was too little too late.  Had he been hitting the way he should be, we might have caught the Dodgers at some point, and maybe even still be in contention for the title, though most probably not.   If he can get hot during the playoffs, that will help teams forget, but that was a pretty lame finish to his season, when the team needed him to stand up as a $100M player, and he was no better than replacement level.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Your 2014 Giants: 32nd Rotational Turn

The Giants 32nd Rotation PQS analysis.

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