Not ready to give Panda the thumbs up

| April 25, 2011

So far it sure looks like the 2011 Pablo Sandoval Revival has been a success. He looks good at the plate and better than last year in the field. Physically, he looks more like a ballplayer and less like, well, a ball. I believe that he’ll end up doing much better than he did last year.

But (there’s always a but), we need to still be aware of something. Here is Sandoval’s monthly production, from last year:

2010 BA OBP SLG OPS
April/March .368 .433 .575 1.008
May .234 .275 .342 .617
June .234 .305 .340 .645
July .232 .302 .295 .597
August .312 .348 .560 .907
Sept/Oct .224 .274 .313 .587

Get my drift? Even in his miserable year, it took more than a month for him to fall apart. So even this hot start (.319/.382/.565, with an OPS of .947) is too small of a sample size to be confident he can sustain it. Last April he was better than he is now, and look what happened.

I won’t be sold that Sandoval is going to be an above-average offensive producer until he’s finished the whole season at an above-average level, but he’s off to an encouraging start. I wrote just before opening day that I figured Sandoval would be good for an OPS of .830 this year, which was right between ’09 and ’10, and I still think that’s a reasonable landing spot for him when it’s over.

I sure hope Madison Bumgarner gets going

| April 23, 2011

I don’t root for the Giants. I root for myself.

For me, baseball is, primarily, the way I earn my living (as best as I can). The fact that I enjoy it is, frankly, secondary. The good part about that is that I get paid to watch baseball games. I also don’t have an emotional investment that makes me miserable when my team loses. On the down side, I don’t get the highs either. I will never experience what you Giants fans did last year when your team won the World Series.

And, sometimes, there are situations like the one I’ve found myself in with Madison Bumgarner.

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I think we’ve seen enough of Brandon Belt

| April 19, 2011

The Giants have delayed Cody Ross’ activation, and the corresponding roster move, until Wednesday, so we don’t yet know if Brandon Belt will be going down. However, I would send him down.

I don’t think that 2 1/2 weeks of the season is enough to prove that Belt isn’t ready for the big leagues. But I also didn’t think that four weeks of spring training games were enough to prove that he was.

This is nothing against Belt, who I believe will be a solid major leaguer in time. It’s just that history shows us that it’s tough to play in the big leagues. Very few guys are successful in the big leagues with as little minor league time as Belt had. He had one full season. Even the great Buster Posey, who is much more talented than Belt, played one more month of minor league ball than Belt, and at a higher level. Belt has played just 13 games at Triple-A, and he hit .229 in those games.

I wrote early in the spring that the Giants should be conservative with him, and I believe that was their plan, all the way till the moment that Cody Ross got hurt. I don’t blame them for keeping him once Ross was hurt. The injury allowed them to extend Belt’s tryout for another three weeks, letting them see more of him and letting him see more of the big leagues. But now that Ross is on his way back, I think it’s time to let Belt get the time he needs at Triple-A.

Cain vs. Cahill

| April 18, 2011

My pal Grant Cohn (of CSN Bay Area and the Cohn Zohn) asked me via twitter yesterday:

Who’s going to be the better pitcher in three years: Trevor Cahill or Matt Cain?

It’s an interesting question, and I don’t think a no-brainer either way, but I went with Cain.

If we look simply at last year, Cain had a 3.14 ERA over 223 innings, with a 1.084 WHIP, and he was 25 years old. Cahill had a 2.97 ERA over 192 2/3 innings, with a 1.108 WHIP, and he was only 22. Right there, you can make an argument that Cahill will be better in three years, because he’s three years younger and he was slightly better in 2010.

However, I’m not ready to go that far.

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A Hall of Fame vote for Barry Bonds

| April 14, 2011

I’m on a run here of HOF posts, like this and this, but there’s really no escaping the topic today, as it relates to Barry Bonds. In the wake of his conviction, everyone wants to know what Hall of Fame voters are going to do with him. Since I’m one of them, here goes.

I plan to vote for Barry Bonds — although I reserve the right to change my mind. Pretty sure every time I’ve ever written on the topic, I’ve said I would vote for him. I’ve made my reasons clear, and I’ll reiterate them in a bit.

As for the immediate news hook of reviving this discussion today, the verdict on Wednesday means absolutely nothing for Bonds HOF status. Zilch. He was convicted of obstruction of justice, not perjury, not using steroids. Essentially, a jury determined that he gave evasive answers during his grand jury testimony. If giving evasive answers was a disqualifier for the HOF, it would be a pretty empty place.

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Listen to my story

| April 12, 2011

This is pretty wild. I’m covering the Dodgers this week for the Riverside Press-Enterprise. They have a podcast feature on their web site, so you can actually hear a computer generated-voice reading the stories.

This is my notebook.

For some reason I couldn’t download the gamer to my blog, but you can read it and hear it here. I particularly enjoyed hearing “the Dodgers six dash one victory.”

Giants-Dodgers postgame tidbits

| April 11, 2011

Here at AT&T Park tonight, covering the Dodgers for the Riverside Press-Enterprise and Orange County Register. (Gotta pay the bills!) So, I was mostly Dodger-focused today, but I’ve still got a few items of interest.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said they thought that Madison Bumgarner’s move to first was a balk. He said umpires gave them some guidelines on balks in spring training, and he felt that Bumgarner’s move crossed the line. Matt Kemp took off early on a Bumgarner throw to first — or Bumgarner stopped his move home to throw, depending on who you ask — in the second inning. In the fifth, Clayton Kershaw got picked off. I don’t know if they were balks or not, but once a manager starts talking about it, umpires are sure to look closely. Stay tuned for that one.

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