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Where we tend to talk about the recent past a lot

Updated: 2017-10-18T12:50:02-07:00


Open Championship Series Thread - 10/18



Time to accept the inevitable, the Cubs were never going to save us.

The Yankees heard our request to not get swept, coming back to tie the American League Championship Series at two games a piece. The Cubs, unfortunately, did not — they face elimination tonight over in the National League.

First up, the Houston Astros are still in New York and are hoping to take another lead in Game 5, as Dallas Keuchel takes the mound against Masahiro Tanaka. You can watch this at 2:00 pm on Fox Sports 1.

Then the Los Angeles Dodgers hope to sweep in Chicago to advance to their first World Series since 1988...and blood is now leaking from my ears just trying to type that sentence.

You know, Cubs, it’s not like coming back from a 3-0 series deficit is that hard. Get it together.

It all comes down to Jake Arietta who will face Alex Wood at 5:00 pm on TBS. May the odds be ever in Chicago’s favor.

The Dodgers are going to win the pennant, you’ll have to root for the Yankees, and food will never taste the same again


The Diamondbacks and Cubs are useless, so we need to mentally prepare. The Los Angeles Dodgers haven’t been to the World Series since Marvel movies looked like this ... src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> ... and I’m afraid that’s the last time I’ll ever get to use that joke construction. The Los Angeles Dodgers are going to the World Series with one more win. This is horrible and inevitable, so we should probably prepare for it. One of the best ways to prepare for it is to become huge fans of whichever American League team wins the pennant. I have always been a big fan of the Houston Astros and [reads card] Enos Cabell. They are my favorite American League squadron and always have been, at least for the past couple days. It would be easy to root for the team and the city, too. If you need help in that department, you can read this wonderful feature about the Astros, which is a delight to read, as you can just feel how handsome the writer is when the words drip off the screen and into your consciousness, where they will live forever. Except it’s not going to be the Astros. They’re currently tied, 2-2, in the ALCS, and they have two potential home games remaining to the Yankees’ one. Not to mention, they’re probably the better team, at least on a 162-game basis, so it would seem to be premature to suggest that the Yankees are going to win the pennant. Except you know they will. You can feel it in your bones. You’re going to have to become the biggest Yankees fan on the planet. You’ll have to pump your fist when Aaron Judge hits a homer. You’ll have to root really, really hard for Gary Sanchez to get a hit. You’ll have to pretend like it’s a good thing when someone one-hands a ball that almost bounces, and it rides that weird-ass jetstream right out of the park. You’ll have to be okay with a team winning a World Series constantly. You’ll have to be okay with a team that hasn’t had a championship drought longer than 18 seasons. You’ll have to be okay with a fan base that gets twitchy after a two-year drought. And you’ll do it all because you want Tommy Lasorda to be incredibly sad. Among other things. It would be easy to root for Jose Altuve, simply because he might be one of the easiest baseball players to root for in history. It would be easy to root for Carlos Correa, one of the purest baseball talents alive, who is caught between both Houston and Puerto Rico. It would be easy to root for Josh Reddick, if only because he’s not on one of those teams anymore. Heck, you could root for Norichika Aoki to get a ring, even if it would come with mixed feelings for him. You won’t get that chance, though. You used the baseball gods’ credit card, and this is the interest you’ll have to pay every year for the indefinite future. It’s going to be the Yankees and the Dodgers for the 58th time, and you’ll have to pretend to like the Yankees. I can do it. I won’t have any problems doing it. But are you ready? My original plan was to write about the Baseball America Draft Report Card for the Giants, which highlighted the high-upside, surprisingly young draft class from this year. Except I realized that it was kind of sad to write something that was like, “Hey, hey, check out these Rookie League prospects!” as if we were going to see them in the next four years. The alternative plan was even sadder. I decided to write down what you were already expecting. The worst part is the Dodgers haven’t even ran Clayton Kershaw into the ground this postseason. That’s usually the best part of October, and it was stolen from us. So not only are the Dodgers going to win the pennant, but they’ll be perfectly positioned to mess up either of the AL teams. Specifically, the Yankees, because you know they’re going to win. Meanwhile, I’ll just go ahead and prep 50 different Jarrod Dyson articles. He really [...]

Open Championship Series Thread - 10/17



The New York Yankees avoided a sweep last night, winning their first game of the American League Championship Series by clobbering the Houston Astros. Sonny Gray takes the mound today against Lance McCullers, Jr. for Game 4 in New York. You can watch it at 2:00 pm on Fox Sports 1.

Meanwhile, the National League Championship Series moves to Chicago as the Cubs hope to take one from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hopefully they can turn the series around and answer all of our prayers. Kyle Hendricks faces off against Yu Darvish in Game 3, which you can watch at 6:00 pm on TBS.

The Giants are still counting on contributions from Hunter Pence


Hunter Pence’s career-worst season made him untradeable, but it didn’t make him immovable. At the trade deadline this year, the completely awful Giants were quiet. They had traded the only player other teams wanted (Eduardo Nuñez), and everyone else was old, bad, or expensive, unless they were old, bad, and expensive. Hunter Pence was one of the latter. On July 31, his OPS was .637. His on-base percentage was .290. His defensive metrics were unkind. He had just eight doubles in 345 plate appearances, which is one of the lowest percentages from a corner outfielder in recent memory. He struck out about three-and-a-half times more than he walked. He was 34 and owed $18.5 million in 2018. I’ll guess there wasn’t a single team that called about him, unless they were willing to be bold enough to ask that the Giants pay his entire salary. Of all their broken players, he might have been the most brokenest. At the beginning of September, I wrote about his historically discouraging season, and that’s when the Giants started saying that there were no guarantees about any of the incumbent outfielders. It looked like that was the end for Pence as the de facto starter. It was a great run, but it was over. However, digging through some splits, I finally saw what Pence did after the deadline. For two months, Pence hit .289/.361/.457. He had six homers and three triples in 194 plate appearances, and perhaps more impressively, he walked 20 times to just 34 strikeouts. That was a much better ratio than the previous three months, and it reminded me of someone: It reminded me of Hunter Pence when he was right. You’re skeptical, and I can understand that. He’s still going to be 35, which isn’t usually an age in which players overcome the struggles of the previous season. What I keep coming back to, though, is that he’s a sunk cost, and I don’t mean that negatively this time. The Giants are going to pay him $18.5 million, regardless of what happens. That means their options are roughly ... Pay another team to take him I cannot possibly imagine this. If the Giants pay $17 million of his contract, I’m not sure if they get a C prospect back. Not worth it. Make right field an offseason priority and put Pence on the bench The Giants would consider this if some very specific dominoes fell, I would think, but they wouldn’t actively make it a priority. Center field, third base, and left field are a higher priority. There’s no sense spending $10 million to get Jay Bruce or Carlos Gonzalez, which would add up to a nearly $30 million right fielder, especially when those players have had their ups and downs, too. J.D. Martinez probably made a lot of sense before he made himself an extra $100 million ($500,000 for every home run he hit in the second half), but I’m going to guarantee that even if the Giants wanted to spend that money, he wouldn’t want to spend the remaining prime years of his career at AT&T Park. Without Martinez, the free agent market is murky, at best. It’s also Melky if you’re really into reunions. Assume Pence is going to play a substantial role on the team, but be flexible This is the one. Assume that Pence is going to get 400 or 500 at-bats if he’s healthy. Don’t assume it’s in right field. Don’t assume anything. Just know that he’ll be around, and that his strong finish to the season gives him a small-but-valid chance to be the player he was just a season before. If the Giants go after Justin Upton, whether via trade or free agency? Seems like he could be the left fielder and Pence could stay where he is. If the Giants get Martinez? Pence could move to left, or he could stay put. If the Giants swing a trade for, I don’t know, Gregory Polanco or Marcell Ozuna? Pence could move to left. If the Giants do one of these things and acquire a speedy center fielder? Pence could quasi-platoon with Denard Span as needed, unless he hits his way back into a full-time gig. Whatever the Giants ar[...]

Open ALCS Thread - 10/16



There is only one baseball game today, so you are contractually obligated to watch it.

Tonight, the American League Championship Series moves to New York for Game 3 as CC Sabathia and the Yankees try to turn it around against Charlie Morton and the Houston Astros.

Houston leads the series 2-0 but there’s still a lot of baseball to be played, if the Yankees can get a win tonight. If not, they face elimination at home tomorrow night.

And, let’s face it, we need someone else to win one of these games or we’re facing two possible sweeps in the Championship Series with a week-long wait for the World Series, and nobody wants that.

Tune in at 5:00 pm on Fox Sports 1.

Learning to love the idea of Billy Hamilton in center field


A guide to embracing a sub-.300 OBP and feeling good about it. Over on MLB Trade Rumors, they’re listing possible trade partners for the Reds and Billy Hamilton, who is in his arbitration years and unlikely to be part of a rebuilding team. One of their conclusions? ... the Giants could be a particularly good match. AT&T Park’s outfield is particularly large, making it difficult for their hitters to put runs on the board via the long ball. Hamilton’s base running prowess would surely be a great asset to a team that finished dead last in baseball with 128 homers, but ranked 8th-best in contact rate. What’s more, San Francisco center fielders ranked as the third-worst defensive group in all of baseball via Fangraphs’ defensive metric. Hamilton would provide a considerable upgrade over that of the aging Denard Span. It’s worth noting that FanGraphs’ defensive metric is the only one that has Span anywhere but dead last, and it doesn’t line up with the eyeball test. Ron Wotus, Giants bench coach and perennial managerial runner-up, had this to say about Hamilton: "You get a Billy Hamilton type of guy, your pitching improves tremendously right there," Wotus said. "He’s saved more runs than he’s driving in. You can look at this year saying we let in too many runs. So that’s an easy way to help your pitching.” Meanwhile, in baseball, Billy Hamilton can’t hit. His .247/.299/.335 line was eerily similar to his career numbers of .247/.299/.334. The on-base percentage hangs just a point under .300 as if to make a statement, and he’ll be 27 next year. What you see is what you get. This is a concern for the Giants, who scored two runs last year, both on the same play, when an angry doberman jumped onto the field and chased the runners around the bases, snapping at their rear ends like a Chuck Jones cartoon, with the umpires forgetting to call time. It was the greatest offensive moment of the season, and it’s unlikely to happen again. It would appear that Hamilton might not be the person to help. However, I can help with these concerns, and it starts with recognizing a few basic, mostly inarguable points. The Giants need a better defensive center fielder It’s not an option. Using Defensive Runs Saved, Span wasn’t just the worst center fielder in baseball, but he lapped the competition. The best way to put it is like this: Andrew McCutchen was ranked the third-worst defensive center fielder in baseball according to DRS. Joc Pederson was ranked the fourth-worst. Span cost the Giants more runs than both of those center fielders cost their team combined. Let’s try that same trick with another statistic. If you add up the third- and fourth-most home runs in baseball, you get 84. So Span would be like the Giancarlo-hitting-85-dingers of bad defensive center field. That might not be good math, but I’m rolling with it. The point is clear, though. The Giants have one of the biggest center fields in baseball and they have one of the least capable center fielders patrolling it. That’s a problem. It would be impossible and/or expensive for the Giants to get a center fielder who can hit and field Lorenzo Cain is available for money. He can hit .300 and fly around center field. This would seem to be a much better solution. Except Cain ... Will cost $75 million or more Will cost second- and third-round draft picks Will be 32 next year Has declining defensive numbers, which you would expect at his age If the Giants get him, I won’t complain about having to watch him next year, but he seems like another entry Aaron Rowand tradition, where they pay market price for a center fielder on the other side of his defensive prime. If not Cain, though, then whom? Here’s a list of center fielders with at least average dWAR and an OPS+ better than the average hitter. It’s a short list, and hardly anyone is available. We’ll talk about the fourth name on it, Aa[...]

Open League Championship Series Thread



Anybody but the Dodgers, please.

  1. Houston Astros
  2. Chicago Cubs
  3. New York Yankees
  4. scurvy
  5. bedbugs
  6. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Marlins are looking to cut payroll, and the Giants would like to take a Giancarlo Stanton-sized salary off their hands


This isn’t the first, or last, time you’ll hear about this. Sorry, not sorry. Jon Heyman is back at it again with the fresh Giancarlo Stanton-to-the-Giants content, so let’s see if there’s something new to dissect. The San Francisco Giants are the team that’s shown the most interest in Giancarlo Stanton, sources suggest That isn’t the first time we’ve read that, but it’s probably newsworthy every time it’s reiterated. The Giants could actually have an advantage over those two teams, some think; they may be seen as more likely to turn it around quickly than the Phillies (that may or may not be true, but he may see it that way), and while winning is the No. 1 priority, it’s believed he probably would prefer to be on one of the coasts than the Midwest, if given a choice. Both of these points also apply to the Dodgers, though. More so than the Giants, considering he grew up a Dodgers fan in Southern California. While there’s been some suggestion out there that the Giants’ budget could be limited, they’ve made clear they aren’t about to rebuild and will do what they can to get back to their usual place in contention. It’s extremely hard to imagine the Giants adding a $25 million player to the current payroll, much less a $32 million player to a future payroll. While I agree they aren’t going to rebuild (yet), they have to be brainstorming ideas that are a little more complex than, “Getting this one player will fix everything!” At the same time, if the Giants are worried about ticket sales — which are much better than a 98-loss team deserves, but definitely moving in the wrong direction — this would be the one player who could do something about that. Seriously, if the Giants traded for Mike Trout tomorrow (Cory Gearrin straight up, you have my number), it would help the team sell more tickets, but not like Stanton would. He’s the perfect mix of name brand superstar and specific talents for a fan base that used to drink dingerade by the gallon. So I get why the rumors won’t die. It makes sense. All of it. Except the part where the Giants would have to pay $25 million next year, plus the 40-percent competitive balance tax, plus the $30 million or so he’ll be owed every season until he’s 37. If you ignore that small detail, it makes total sense. I wasn’t going to write the Heyman story up because I wasn’t sure if there was anything I could write that I hadn’t already, but there’s a wrinkle. The Miami Herald is reporting that, yes, the Marlins are very interested in ditching salary. Very interested. According to a Major League Baseball source, Jeter and fellow owner Bruce Sherman proposed cutting the team’s 2018 payroll to around $90 million — down from last season’s franchise-record $115 million — as part of the operating plan they submitted to league owners during the approval process. Let’s see ... if they’re at $115 million now, and they want to go down to $90 million ... that means ... hold on ... ah, they would need to cut $25 million. Which seems awfully convenient, considering Stanton is owed $25 million. Awfully convenient, indeed. The regular problems are still there. The Giants don’t have a top-, second-, or third- tier farm system, so they wouldn’t be able to compete with teams like the Yankees or Dodgers if the Marlins were willing to pay the salary down for better prospects. Their only hope continues to be if the Marlins are willing to give Stanton away for salary relief, and the Giants are the only team willing to absorb it. I can’t see how that would happen, but it’s possible that I’m underestimating just how terrified other teams are of Stanton’s contract. Of all the suitors, I’d reckon the team with the aging, expensive lineup that’s under contract for the next several years that’s just over the competitive balance t[...]