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Where we tend to talk about the recent past a lot

Updated: 2016-10-22T20:47:07-07:00


Dodgers do not win World Series for 28th consecutive season


Their time will come, and it will be awful. That time is not in the first even year of the new era. It’s a tradition, see. Last year, there was a post. In 2014, there was a post. Oh, how that 2014 one is amusing in retrospect. This year, though, I’m not as into the raw, cheap gloating. Maybe it’s because the pain of a postseason Giants loss is sticking with me. Or maybe it’s because I work with a couple of very cool Dodgers fans, and the arbitrary selection of a team just doesn’t make a lot of sense once you make it personal. The Dodgers lost, but so did the Giants, and so will 29 other teams. The Dodgers and Giants will probably lose next year, you know. The odds are oppressive. I truly like Clayton Kershaw. I watch him pitch like I’m getting to watch Hendrix play for the first time. Or Hendricks, for that matter. Either one, same thing. I’ve been prewriting a Dodgers Win The World Series post in my head for the last six or seven years, and one of the first notes on that prewrite is always that I’m happy for Kershaw, who is transcendent. He was gassed, and he deserved better. And Vin Scully, my word. What a gift he was from this weird world to all of us. Him getting a seat in a car driving in the postseason parade would absolutely tickle me. On the other hand, though, not this year. Not in the first even year the Giants barfed in the even-year postseason. Don’t give us a new narrative. Don’t make the Dodgers the new even-year monsters from the deep. Not this year, please. The Dodgers are too rich, too smart, too talented to keep failing in the postseason. It’s going to happen one year, and we’ll just have to eat it. Might be next year, might be in 20 years. I’m just happy that we didn’t have to watch them swallow Even Year Bullshit like Kirby and spit it back out at the Giants for the knockout. Think of the worst-case scenario: Even if the Dodgers win the World Series next year, Yasiel Puig will be on the Brewers and thinking, "Aw, nuts." That’s a better scenario than any of the best-case scenarios involving the Dodgers winning this year. It’s harder to gloat with every passing year. The Giants have a two-year drought right now, and my skin itches just thinking about it. They also haven’t won the NL West since 2012, which is absolutely obnoxious. The Dodgers have some ownage on the Giants right now, if indirectly. But they didn’t win the 2016 World Series. After Conor Gillaspie’s triple, I was sure the Giants were going to win the World Series. After the ninth-inning meltdown in Game 4, I was sure the Dodgers were going to win the World Series. The answer is "neither," and while that’s not the best possible answer, it’s certainly not the worst. If you feel guilty about the schadenfreude, think about Tommy Lasorda swearing a lot. That’ll do. The Dodgers didn’t win the World Series for the 28th consecutive season. This is what a state-of-the-art Hollywood blockbuster looked like the last time the Dodgers won the pennant, even: style="top: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" frameborder="0" src=""> It’s coming, and it will be awful. But it’s not this year. Also, the Cubs/Indians matchup sure is a whopper of a doozy, right? My stars. [...]

A question about a hypothetical Giants/Dodgers NLCS


You have the chance to put the Giants back in the postseason, but there's a catch. The Giants aren’t in the postseason. The Dodgers still are, and even worse, they’re down 3-2 to the Cubs, which means they have a great chance of winning the pennant. This is just awful. Because it’s the weekend and we haven’t talked about the Dodgers’ postseason run much, I would like to present you with a hypothetical scenario. The answer to this might be obvious for you, or you might struggle with it as mightily as I have. Really, it’s a window into your baseball soul, a question that can absolutely define how you enjoy sports. It goes like this: You have the chance to put the Giants in the postseason right now. The catch is that they’re down 3-1 to the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. Do you do it? The hardy optimists among us laugh. Of course they would. Not only would that mean the thrill of winning the NLDS is in our back pocket, but that there was at least one fun NLCS game against the Dodgers. And you’re offering a second chance for the Giants to win the World Series? Suck it up, weenies. Let’s win three straight. Ah, the cynical worrywarts respond. But not only have you increased the Dodgers’ chances of winning the pennant by giving them a 3-1 advantage in the NLCS instead of a 3-2 deficit against a much stronger team away from Dodger Stadium, but you’ve left open the possibility of them celebrating a pennant-clinching win at AT&T Park. Or a pennant-clinching win against the Giants at all. You’ve increased their odds of winning the World Series dramatically just to take a stab at three wins in a row, which seems mighty unlikely, considering Clayton Kershaw would be pitching one of the games. Counterpoint: The universe gave this choice to the 2004 Red Sox, except it was a season right after the Yankees broke their hearts in a previous ALCS, and it was an 0-3 disadvantage. They had the most memorable and unlikely postseason series comeback in baseball history, and it totally turned their franchise around. Counter-counterpoint: I’ve never been able to find a Red Sox fan who could adequately express just how much 2003 hurt them. They were five outs away from a pennant with a three-run lead, and they had to watch their blood rivals celebrate in front of them. While that was the karmic down payment for the thrill of 2004, there would be no guarantees the Giants would have that kind of consolation prize. I go back and forth. Part of me wants to throw caution to the wind and load up the even-year-nonsense cannon again. It’s like daydreaming about getting one more chance to play little league, man. Another part of me wouldn’t want to give the Dodgers an extra hand when they’re facing elimination. Also, you remember how the Giants were kind of bad, right? Especially the bullpen. My word, just thinking about them pitching in the NLCS to the Dodgers gives me hives. So I refuse to commit. But I have a poll here. For science. Do you wave a wand and put the Giants in the NLCS, down 3-1 to the Dodgers? I just don’t know. Poll Do you wave a wand and put the Giants in the NLCS, down 3-1 to the Dodgers? Yes No   919 votes | Results [...]

The Tigers might sell, so let’s see what the Giants can pick from their sun-bleached bones


Do you want a pitcher, a slugger, or both? TigersMart has it all. It's probably not nice to circle the desert sky, looking for contenders to give up and collapse into the hot sand. It's more than a little ghoulish. Its, why, it's not polite. It's just not good manners. Leave these poor teams alone, and stop bothering them with your "Uh, you gonna eat that?" questions. You can enjoy an offseason without having to be that callous. lol, just kidding, so anyway, Buster Olney just posted an article suggesting the Tigers might be open to a fire sale, and I am very much into that. Let's pick through that estate sale like we don't care about the owner that just passed away, which we don't. Who could help the Giants? Miguel Cabrera Yeah, no. Not only would it take a whopping prospect package that the Giants don't have, but he's a bad defensive first baseman who is owed $212 million for the next seven seasons. He's great, as inner-circle as Hall of Famers get, but he'll also make $32 million until he's 40. I would say go for it if I didn't think he needed to move to DH soon, but he'll need to move to DH soon. He should probably be there already. I still think Brandon Belt would, with experience, be a fine defensive left fielder, with good range and an excellent arm. I'm okay moving him for a first baseman, in theory, provided the first baseman is special enough. Pretty sure Cabrera is a special enough hitter, but the problem is that he isn't really a first baseman. Not one you want to tether yourself to for the next seven years. Justin Verlander Sure! But the Giants don't have the prospects. Over the last month, I've read and heard a lot of second-guessing about Andrew Miller, golden relief god, and how the Giants should have acquired him at the deadline. Except even if the Giants were willing to part with Joe Panik, which seems a lot more reasonable now, somehow, I'm pretty sure the Yankees would have taken the Indians' offer anyway. It would be like that for Verlander. The pitching market is such a complete mess that teams will be willing to give their top prospects for a Cy Young finalist, even if the contract is oppressive. The Giants don't have anything the Tigers want that they can't get anywhere else. Jordan Zimmermann Very, very interesting, in that he's broken and possibly Matt Cain now, which removes that Giants-can't-compete warning that Verlander has. It's possible that the Tigers would accept a polite request, a firm handshake, and a guarantee that he'll go to a good home in exchange for Zimmermann. He's 30 and owed $92 million over the next four years, which is quite a bit of scratch for a broken pitcher. Imagine if he's healthy, though. Imagine if he comes back next season, shakes off the rust, and pitches like a credible #1 or #2 again. Bumgarner/Cueto/Moore/Zimmermann/Samardzija. My stars, that's a pretty dream. Imagine if he's Matt Cain, though. Imagine if it never happens again for him because of one sustained hiccup with his right arm. I'd do it, but remember that I'm the idiot who would have preferred Zimmermann to Cueto in the first place. JD Martinez Here. This is the one. Martinez is ... 29 a .299/.357/.540 hitter with 83 home runs over the last three years a free agent after the year, which means the Tigers' asking price might be something the Giants can meet The downside? He apparently fields like he has flippers. It wasn't always like that, and his arm used to be an asset, but I confirmed with Bless You Boys that he looked just as bad as the defensive numbers suggest. "It was like he forgot how to field," was the exact quote. Can you imagine having a horrible defensive left fielder? That would be awful. We haven't seen a bad fielder in left since last year and the year before that and the year before that and the year before that and the year before that and the year before that and the year before that and the year before that and, look, I guess the last good one was Barry Bonds before he got all huge with exercise. Seriously, though[...]

Could Joe Biagini have saved the Giants bullpen?


Let’s think about this! The Giants bullpen was a disaster this year, as you might remember, and in related news, the Giants lost Joe Biagini in the Rule 5 draft to the Blue Jays over the offseason. Biagini had a great year for Toronto, with a 3.06 ERA and 2.95 FIP, and is excelling in the postseason, having given up 0 earned runs in 6.1 innings. The Giants bullpen, by contrast, had a collective ERA over 400 and forfeited 18 games in the postseason alone, costing the team a shot at losing later in the postseason, when it really would have hurt. The Giants could have kept Biagini, of course; all they’d have had to do was put him on the 40-man roster. They didn’t do that, possibly because while he had a great ERA in Richmond in 2015, his strikeout rate indicated that he wasn’t ready for the majors yet. The Blue Jays got around this by turning Biagini, who had been a starter, into a reliever just like our very own quincy0191 said could work (based on having a great curveball) 9 days before the Rule 5 Draft: The system's second-best mark belongs to Joe Biagini, who's also 25, but spent his year as a starter in AA. I doubt that lasts, but with a two-pitch mix that features a low 90s FB and a hammer curve plus good control, there's serious potential for a good reliever in here. So would Biagini have saved the bullpen from disaster? Yes! One problem the Giants bullpen had this year (other than the 9th inning, which we’ll get to) was awful platoon splits. Joe Biagini, effective reliever, didn’t really have platoon splits. He gave up a .315 wOBA to lefties and a .283 wOBA to righties. Biagini could have been a late inning stabilizing force, getting the ball to Santiago Casilla with more 3-run leads which, at least earlier in the season, he was able to protect. That would have allowed him to make some mistakes without them being game-ending soul crushers, and it would have allowed the defense, which frequently failed him in the 9th inning, to do the same. This could have prevented his confidence from eroding, which could have helped him keep his head where it needed to be for a major league closer, and then maybe he wouldn’t have thrown that goddamn hanging curve against the Orioles. And if things did start to go wrong, then the other good relievers would not have already been used and could have come in to help bail Casilla and the team out. But in addition to the cascade effect that could have taken place, Biagini was just a good pitcher. He had a good groundball rate, a good ERA, a good FIP, an fWAR that would have been the best in the Giants bullpen, and he did all that in Toronto, a ballpark that’s consistently been a very good place to hit. They still wouldn’t have been the best bullpen in the league, but with Biagini on the team, the 2016 Giants bullpen would have been not-terrible instead of, you know, terrible. No! Do you really think Joe Biagini was going to make Bruce Bochy stop playing the matchups? There is nothing on this Earth that could make Bruce Bochy stop playing matchups. The Giants went out and acquired Will Smith, a lefty whose strength was literally that he was able to get righties out, and Bruce Bochy played the matchups with him. Biagaini’s small platoon splits would have made no difference. He would have faced very small numbers of lefties. And if you think that there would have been a cascade effect whereby Biagini solidifying the 7th or 8th inning would mean that someone besides Casilla would have gotten a chance to be closer, there’s no reason to think that. All year, Derek Law was the best reliever on the roster. All year, Casilla was blowing saves. He was still getting chances to close through mid-September. The presence of Biagini would not have changed that any more than the presence of Law or Hunter Strickland or Will Smith did. To sum it up, the real problem this year was that the 2016 Giants bullpen was a garbage monster from the depths of hell that fed on the anguish in our souls,[...]

It’ll be harder for the Giants to revamp the bullpen than you think


The Giants have a clear mission this offseason. That doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to get it done, though. Welcome to day three of a 145-day series about the Giants’ bullpen. If you want a list of free agent relievers, you can find that here. If you want to see how much the Giants can spend, you can find that here. But none of this makes any difference if the free agent relievers in question aren’t any good. Here’s an uncontroversial two-part thesis statement: The Giants need to improve their bullpen, not just tread water That means they’ll need to find better pitchers than the relievers who are leaving Sounds simple. But it’s trickier than you might think. Javier Lopez was pretty bad this year, so it shouldn’t be too hard to improve on his performance. Santiago Casilla’s raw stats weren’t awful, but his timing sure was, and it shouldn’t be too hard to get a reliever who isn’t quite as destructive. But Sergio Romo was pretty good for the Giants when he was healthy. He was also an active member of the bullpen that fatally collapsed, which means that he alone couldn’t fix it. Adding a Romo-caliber pitcher to the bullpen isn’t going to turn a liability into a strength, and our proof is this: The Giants had a Romo-caliber pitcher last year. So the Giants will need about two or three new relievers, including whomever they get from within the organization. It will be helpful to sort relievers into four tiers: The elite That would be Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman, and Mark Melancon. It might just be Jansen if you’re not enamored of Melancon’s strikeout rate or Chapman being a goblin. All three would be huge, obvious upgrades to what the Giants featured in 2016, though. Clearly better than Romo Remember the premise. The Giants are trying to get better, not just stay the same. And if they miss out on the first tier, they’ll need to scramble to improve the bullpen in a different way. They’ll need the pitchers who aren’t quite elite, but still clear improvements over Romo. I ... I think this is the full list: Koji Uehara, maybe? Brad Ziegler, probably? That’s it. And you’re starting to see the problem. Roughly equivalent to Sergio Romo This is a tier that includes Sergio Romo! Wouldn’t mind him back, to be honest, even if he’s not the most versatile of pitchers anymore. But this is a tier filled with all sorts of pitchers. Neftali Feliz is here. Joe Blanton is here, somehow. Joaquin Benoit. Pat Neshek. A healthy Greg Holland or Kevin Jepsen. Matt Belisle. Add and subtract as you see fit. Are all of these pitchers going to have good seasons next year? No. Some of them will vanish into the thick reliever fog that claims so many careers. And a couple of them will have great seasons next year. We’ll look back in a year and think, "Well, shoot, the correct answer was Luke Hochevar, who is now the most dominant right-handed reliever in baseball. Luke Hochevar. Ugh, should have guessed." Assorted goofballs Hey, don’t besmirch the goofballs. Blanton was in here last year. Andrew Miller was just a failed prospect when the Red Sox got their hands on him a few years back. Casilla had a disappointing year in 2016, sure, but he was a former minor-league free agent who gave the Giants several great seasons, too. The Giants will be aggressive with these kinds of pitchers, and they’ve been pretty good about cobbling together a bullpen from spare parts. You just know that they’re not going to count on this method of roster-building. Not this time. The expectations are too high, and every casual fan and person at the water cooler knows they need to improve the bullpen. There might be one assorted goofball who impresses in the spring and makes the roster. There should not be several. Long post short? If the Giants want to feel like they’ve built an unambiguously stronger bullpen, they’ll have to fight for four or five pitchers that every other team will want. And t[...]