Talking Giants Baseball: A San Francisco Giants/Baseball Blog: January 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

The mailbag is open, Giants news and notes

Since I started this blog, I aimed to create a baseball forum where fans can talk and debate about the game. In order to enhance interactivity with my readers, I am opening my mailbag to your questions, comments, and feedback. Your e-mails may be posted on my blog along with my answers to them. I will try to post a mailbag blog entry once per week, depending on the volume of e-mails I get.

Click here to send an e-mail to my mailbag. I look forward to answering your questions, as I enjoy interacting with my readers and talking baseball.

Also, don't forget to follow me on twitter @vintalkingiants

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Here are some Giants news and notes. Click on the hyperlinks below for more information.



Giants ink Jeff Suppan to a minor league deal. 


Giants sign Andres Torres to one-year deal.


Giants avoid arbitration with Javier Lopez.

Giants make Casilla deal official.


Ross, Sanchez, and Ramirez back for 2011.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dr. Perfecto and Mr. Walk, Which Will Giants Hurler Jonathan Sanchez Be in 2011? (Part 2)

This article is also known as "San Francisco Giants: Will 2011’s Jonathan Sanchez Be Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?"

The Bad Outlook: 6. Increasing Walk Total

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 30:  Starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez #57 of the San Francisco Giants walks into the dugout dejected after he was taken out of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers in Game Three of the 2010 MLB Worl
Elsa/Getty Images

Although Sanchez is a dynamic pitcher who is tough to hit, his high walk total is a concern.

At some point, one might wonder how long he will be able to get away with surrendering so many free passes. In 2010, Sanchez walked a major league leading 96 batters but seemed to get away with it, as he posted a 3.07 ERA and a WHIP of only 1.23.

Eventually, if Sanchez keeps tempting fate, the walks are probably going to come back to bite him. Consistently walking people almost always hurts a pitcher in the long run.

Not to mention, the amount of high stress pitches he makes, and all the extra pitches, due to walks can take a toll on Sanchez's body. A pitching arm can be a delicate thing, and if it wears out, a plethora of three-run home runs could be coming in 2011.

For the sake of the longevity of his career, Sanchez needs to pound the strike zone more often. Randy Johnson's transformation into more of a control pitcher might have extended his greatness for a few more years, and Sanchez needs to make the same transformation if he wants to pitch until he is 40.

7. His Inconsistency

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 30:  Manager Bruce Bochy (L) of the San Francisco Giants takes starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez #57 out of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning against the Texas Rangers in Game Three of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

On the night of Jonathan Sanchez's 2009 no-hitter, former Padres' outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. described Sanchez's inconsistencies best when he said, "On film he throws the ball hard, but it looks like he doesn't know where it's going. Today he looked exactly like he knew where it was going."

On one night, Sanchez can sparkle like he did on the night of his no-hitter. On another night, his line might look like this: 5 IP, 1 hit, 7 BB, 4 K, 0 Runs.

Worse, he might completely fall apart on another night and allow a five spot in his run column, like he did against the Florida Marlins on July 28th. His games seem to fluctuate from start-to-start, and sometimes, you simply cannot rely on him to pitch a quality start.

In a sport where consistency can mean everything, Sanchez struggles to be as reliable as a Greg Maddux. If he cannot be counted on to pitch well during tight, close, or important games, the bullpen could be a reality for Sanchez in 2011 -- a possible reason why the Giants signed a sixth starter in Jeff Suppan.

8. It's Easy To Get Into His Head

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 23:  Jonathan Sanchez #57 of the San Francisco Giants is held back by teammates Buster Posey #28, Juan Uribe #5, and Edgar Renteria #16 after hitting Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies with a pitch in the third inning in Game
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

If a team's strategy was to beat Sanchez by getting into his head, that would probably be its best bet.
Sanchez, in the biggest game of his life, showed why he was not ready to pitch under the lights of postseason play -- and it showed up on his line.

After drilling Chase Utley in the back with the score tied 2-2, he casually flipped the ball back to the pitcher's mound. Angered by this, Sanchez barked back at Utley, leading to a benches clearing altercation and Jonathan Sanchez's removal from the game by Bruce Bochy.

Sanchez's overreaction illustrates his immaturity. Instead of letting it go, he made things worse than they actually were, even though Utley should have probably left the ball alone.

Mychael Urban of CSN Bay Area had a very good take on the issue on his blog. What Utley did was not really "malicious or totally out of line," but Sanchez felt that he had to say something.

Sanchez would no longer be a factor in that game after the incident. The end result of the game may have worked out for the Giants that time, but it was not because of Sanchez's pitching.

More brain lapses like that can mean a miserable 2011 for Sanchez. However, a good therapist might be able to solve that problem, but he must get his head right in a game that is arguably mostly mental.

9. His High Pitch Count

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 23:  Jonathan Sanchez #57 of the San Francisco Giants reacts to giving up a first inning RBI double to Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies in Game Six of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 23
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

As mentioned earlier, Sanchez's high pitch count, mostly due to his high walks and strikeouts, can be detrimental to both his pitching and health. He was 15th in all of baseball in pitches per inning pitched, which is something he needs to improve upon as a starter.

It would not be so bad if Sanchez did not throw so many pitches in such stressful situations. If there was a stat measuring this (maybe total pitches with runners in scoring position), Sanchez would surely be a league leader in this category.

Eventually, this will catch up with Sanchez, either in the form of three-run homers, a long stint in the bullpen, or a career-ending arm injury. His electric stuff will mean nothing in 2011, and in the long run, if he cannot use it more efficiently.

10. He Does Not Always Think Things Through

SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 03:  Jonathan Sanchez #57 of the San Francisco Giants scores on a hit by Freddy Sanchez to give the Giants a 1-0 lead in their game against the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park on October 3, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Along the lines of point number nine, Sanchez does not yet understand the mental aspect of baseball. He clearly showed this when he inaccurately called a sweep against the San Diego Padres in August.

This was the worst thing he could have done. Not only did it motivate the Padres, but it also made him look bad around baseball.

Guaranteeing a sweep is not a smart idea, especially in baseball where it is hard to sweep a team. It would be one thing if Sanchez said, "we are going to show the Padres why we are a good team," but calling a sweep -- a humiliating experience for any team -- in front of the media was just out of line.

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News wrote it best in his blog when he stated, "Jonathan Sanchez doesn't really qualify as a team spokesperson."

Maybe he should have let the Giants' Jim Moorehead, senior director of media relations, speak for the team.

In that Padres' series, Sanchez ended up with the losing decision in one of the games. Hopefully, he learned his lesson to think before he speaks.

If Sanchez continues to make such statements, other teams might give that extra effort against him at the plate. That energy might be channeled through a big home run in a crucial game down the stretch.

Questions? Comments? Feedback? E-mail my blog mailbag at vc4re@yahoo.com. Your question may be posted on my blog, along with answers.

Follow me on twitter @vintalkingiants




This article was featured on the Bleacher Report

Follow me on twitter @vintalkingiants

Questions? Comments? Feedback? E-mail my blog mailbag at vc4re@yahoo.com. Your question may be posted on my blog, along with answers.

Dr. Perfecto and Mr. Walk, Which Will Giants Hurler Jonathan Sanchez Be in 2011? (Part 1)

Title also known as "San Francisco Giants: Will 2011’s Jonathan Sanchez Be Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?"
Jonathan Sanchez pitching the National League West Clincher


Photo from Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
 
Revert back to July 10, 2009. After struggling earlier in that season, Jonathan Sanchez, after being banished to the bullpen, spot started for the injured Randy Johnson.

The result on that fateful night was a dazzling performance against the San Diego Padres, as he no-hit them in an 8-0 rout. Not a single walk tainted Sanchez's line.

Fast forward to Oct. 23, 2010. The Giants are battling the Phillies in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series in Philadelphia, needing a big start from their left-handed hurler.                

Although the Giants ended up winning the clinching NLCS game, Jonathan Sanchez had a night to forget, lasting just two innings, while walking two and surrendering two runs. His night came to a close after he drilled Chase Utley on the back, leading to a Sanchez/Utley confrontation where Utley flipped the baseball back to the mound after he was hit.

Such is the inconsistency of the Giants' left-handed enigma, Jonathan Sanchez. On one night, he can look just as good as Lincecum or Cain, but on another night, he makes Todd Wellemeyer look like Cy Young.

One might think of Sanchez like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. While he has all the upside in the world and had a fine 2010 season, his immaturity showed in the postseason, and he led the National League in walks.

Will Sanchez show progress in 2011, or will he regress?

Here are five reasons why one might be high on Jonathan Sanchez and five reasons why one might be skeptical about the left-hander.

The Good Outlook: 1. Falling ERA

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Starting Pitcher Jonathan Sanchez #57 of the San Francisco Giants throws from the mound against the San Diego Padres during their MLB game on September 10, 2010 at Petco Park in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Mirall
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Earned run average is a good indicator of how good a pitcher is, so a falling ERA is a good sign for Sanchez.

Since his first full season in 2008, Sanchez's ERA has shown improvement year-to-year. In 2008, his ERA was a poor 5.01, but fell to 4.24 in 2009 before reaching a solid 3.07 in 2010.

Although Sanchez led the league in free passes in 2010, Sanchez has learned to effectively pitch around them. For example, in his game against San Diego on Sept. 10 at Petco, Sanchez issued seven walks in five innings, but gave up no runs.

It may not be pretty, but the bottom line is that Sanchez puts up zeros more often than not, which is a hopeful sign for 2011.

2. Falling WHIP

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 23:  Jonathan Sanchez #57 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game Six of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 23, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Although Sanchez's walk total remained high in 2010, his WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) has decreased every full season he has pitched. His WHIP in 2010 remained low because he did not give up many hits.

When Sanchez pitched his first full season, his WHIP was a mediocre 1.45. In 2009, it dipped to 1.37 and fell to a respectable 1.23 in 2010.

Considering Sanchez's high 2010 walk total of 96, it is remarkable how his WHIP was below average. Both his ERA and WHIP have almost solely been lowered by reducing his hits per nine innings throughout his career, leaving Sanchez with respectable pitching numbers.

If he and pitching coach Dave Righetti can harness his control a bit better, Sanchez may contend for the Cy Young Award in 2011.

3. He Is Hard To Hit

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 23:  Jonathan Sanchez #57 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game Six of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 23, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Sanchez usually creates jams because of his lack of control, but he still is not a comfortable at-bat.

In 2010, Sanchez had the lowest batting average against him in the major leagues. His .204 batting average against him even beat out Ubaldo Jimenez, who was at a .209 mark.

Anytime when total hits allowed is less than total innings pitched, that is a good range for a pitcher to be in. In 2010, Sanchez gave up just 142 hits in 193.1 innings pitched.

Just like his other stats, his progression over the years in opponent's batting average is a hopeful sign for him in 2011. In 2008, players hit .257 against Sanchez, followed by .221 in 2009.

4. He Has Electric Stuff

SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 03:  Jonathan Sanchez #57 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park on October 3, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Sanchez is almost like a young Randy Johnson -- without the 98+ mile per hour fastball. Like Sanchez, he had nasty stuff and was near unhittable, but gave up as many as 152 walks in a single season.

Oddly enough, Sanchez grew up idolizing Randy Johnson and played with him in 2009. Could Johnson have taken Sanchez under his wing, which led to his drastic improvement in 2010?

On July 10, 2009, Sanchez demonstrated what could happen if he could harness his stuff. With his sneaky fast 91-93 mph fastball and a sharp slider almost as devastating as Johnson's, Sanchez no-hit the Padres out of nowhere -- on a spot start for none other than Randy Johnson.

Sanchez also features a nasty split-finger that runs away from right-handed hitters.

Unlike his earlier years, Sanchez showed that he can pitch around his walks and errors -- except in the NLCS. If he continues his year-to-year pattern of maturation , Sanchez should be even better at pitching through adversity in 2011.

5. He Now Has Postseason Experience

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 23:  Jonathan Sanchez #57 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game Six of the NLCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 23, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by
Pool/Getty Images

Call Jonathan Sanchez whatever you would like, but the reality is that he pitched for a team who won the World Series. Although Sanchez showed brain lapses during the postseason, he has nowhere to go but up and can learn from his mistakes.

Anytime a pitcher takes the mound in his first postseason, it will not be easy for him -- unless he is Madison Bumgarner. Right away, he will notice that the intensity of the crowd is different, the players are more focused, and the big game feel.

Sanchez proved capable in pitching big games in 2010. He had an ERA below two in September, and he pitched strong games in the NL West clincher and Game 3 of the NLDS.

With the postseason experience under his belt, Sanchez might channel his frustration a bit differently -- such as striking out Utley with a blazing fastball rather than arguing with him and lighting a fire under his belly. If Sanchez continues to get better season-by-season, perhaps he will show growth deep into the postseason as well.




This article was featured on the Bleacher Report

Follow me on twitter @vintalkingiants

Questions? Comments? Feedback? E-mail my blog mailbag at vc4re@yahoo.com. Your question may be posted on my blog, along with answers.




Monday, January 24, 2011

MLB Rumors: Ranking the Top 10 Free Agent Hitters Remaining on the Market (Part 2)

7. Orlando Cabrera

CINCINNATI - SEPTEMBER 12: Orlando Cabrera #2 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a double in the fourth inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Great American Ballpark on September 12, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Orlando Cabrera is a solid option for a team looking for a backup shortstop. Buster Olney of ESPN.com reported that the Twins might view Cabrera as an upgrade over Alexi Casilla on a cheap, one-year deal.

In 2010, Cabrera hit .263, with four home runs and 42 RBIs for the Cincinnati Reds. He is a little guy who swings hard and has a little bit of power.

8. Hank Blalock

ST. PETERSBURG - JUNE 11:  Designated hitter Hank Blalock #9 of the Tampa Bay Rays fouls off a pitch against the Florida Marlins at Tropicana Field on June 11, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images
Blalock did not do well in 2010, and the Rays took him out of his misery. When Gabe Kapler came off the disabled list, Blalock was given the boot from Tampa Bay.

2009 was a little better for the designated hitter. That year, he mashed 25 home runs, but he hit just .234.

Not much has been reported about Blalock this offseason. Any American League team in desperate need of power might want to give him a minor league deal and a shot to bounce back.

9. Joe Crede

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 11:  Joe Crede #24 of the Minnesota Twins bats against the Oakland Athletics during a Major League Baseball game on June 11, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Crede is ready for a comeback after sitting out 2010 following back surgery, according to Scott Merkin of MLB.com.

"He's healthy, ready to go and he's going to continue his career. He's ready to come back and play," agent Scott Boras said.

In 2009, Crede hit .225, with 15 home runs, but has hit as many as 30 home runs in a season.

Merkin also said that Crede is a bargain at third base, but is a poor bet to stay healthy. Still, he could be an adequate regular.

10. Eric Chavez

ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 11:  Eric Chavez #3 of the Oakland Athletics on May 11, 2010 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
According to the Dodgers' MLB.com website, Los Angeles has considered signing Eric Chavez.

In recent years, Eric Chavez has been plagued with injuries while playing for the Oakland Athletics. Once a potential superstar third baseman, Chavez is now looking for a change of scenery.

If a team can sign Chavez to a minor league contract at or near the minimum, this would be a low-risk solution.

At 33, he might have a little bit left, so why not take the chance on this rag-tag misfit if the philosophy worked in 2010 for the San Francisco Giants?


MLB Rumors: Ranking the Top 10 Free Agent Hitters Remaining on the Market

Many of the top free agents already signed with their new teams, but plenty of good talent is still up for grabs.

If there was one lesson to be learned from the 2010 World Series champion San Francisco Giants, it was that contributions can come from those in the bargain bin. While the current free agent list may not be the best to chose from, this collection of players might just become the next rag-tag group of misfits.

Currently, who is the top free agent out there? Will one of them help a team get into the playoffs and beyond?

Here is a ranking of the top 10 free agent hitters that remain on the market.

1. Vladimir Guerrero

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 22:  Vladimir Guerrero #27 of the Texas Rangers bats against the New York Yankees in Game Six of the ALCS during the 2010 MLB Playoffs at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 22, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers won 6-1. (
Elsa/Getty Images
Vladimir Guerrero may be 35, but he can still hit like he's 25.

In 2010, his .300 average, 29 home runs, and 115 RBIs helped the Rangers get to the World Series. With these stellar offensive numbers, Guerrero is no doubt the best hitting position player on the free agent market.

Although he played a few games in the outfield in 2010, Guerrero is best suited for the DH role with an American League team, as shown by his abysmal outfield play during the World Series.

2. Manny Ramirez

BOSTON - SEPTEMBER 05:  Manny Ramirez #99 of the Chicago White Sox pinch hits in the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox on September 5, 2010 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
Manny Ramirez is no doubt best suited for the DH role, but he still has a quick bat that any American League team can use. In 2010, Ramirez hit .298, with just nine home runs and 42 RBIs in 90 games, but had a .409 on-base percentage.

Ramirez may not be the power threat he once was, but he is still a presence at the plate and is still feared by pitchers.

3. Jermaine Dye

CHICAGO - JUNE 28: Jermaine Dye #23 of the Chicago White Sox follows through after hitting the ball against the Chicago Cubs on June 28, 2009 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Cubs 6-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Jermaine Dye intends to play in 2011 and has been contacted by the Rockies, Phillies, and Rays.

In 2009, his last full season, Dye proved that he still had something to offer. That year, Dye hit .250, with 27 home runs and 81 RBIs.

Now, as Dye turns 37, Rosenthal said via twitter that he could be an intriguing righty bat. However, he is an awful defensive outfielder, but Rosenthal also tweeted that Dye will probably latch on somewhere.

4. Russell Branyan

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 06:  Russell Branyan #30 of the Seattle Mariners bats against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 6, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Branyan can hit the long ball, but struggles to hit for average or get on base. It is either outhouse or castle for him.

In 2010, Branyan hit .237, with 25 home runs and 57 RBIs, for Seattle and Cleveland. His career high is the 31 homers he hit in 2009.

Even though he strikes out a lot, he can still bring a little pop as a DH.

5. Johnny Damon

ST. PETERSBURG - JULY 26:  Designated hitter Johnny Damon #18 of the Detroit Tigers fouls off a pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on July 26, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images
The latest on Johnny Damon was that the Angels and Rays were interested in his services, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. Heyman also noted that Damon, like many others on this list, is a defensive liability.

At 37 years old, Damon is best suited for the DH role. In 2010, Damon hit .271, with eight home runs and 51 RBIs for Detroit.

Heyman said the Angels could potentially stick Damon at the top of their lineup.

6. Jorge Cantu

SEATTLE - AUGUST 03:  Jorge Cantu #8 of the Texas Rangers bats against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on August 3, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
The 2010 campaign was a down year for Cantu. In his worst full season as a big leaguer, Cantu hit just .256, with 11 home runs and 56 RBIs.

When healthy, Cantu can be a legitimate power threat. In 155 games played in 2008, he hit a career high 29 home runs.

Although he can play all around the infield, Cantu's best position is first base. He can, however, play second and third base, and he has even played at shortstop.

With Cantu's down season, he may be a cheap option on the free agent market. If he can stay healthy, he might rebound and put up decent numbers in 2011.

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The rest is coming on the next post.




Sunday, January 23, 2011

Walnut Creek restaurant provides fan-friendly atmosphere and food better than the ballpark

Walking into McCovey’s Restaurant is almost like stepping into a mini version of the Giants’ AT&T Park, but
the food is tastier than the typical ballpark spread.
            Upon entering the restaurant, one can immediately recognize its theme. The seating host’s podium is situated right in front of the home plate in a cleverly constructed miniature infield that you cannot help taking a lap around.
            For baseball fans that enjoy the ballpark experience, the waiting area consists of the familiar green AT&T Park replica seats, which are located behind home plate along a resemblance of a baseball field’s first and third base lines. It is almost as if you were taking in a ball game at the corner of Third and King in San Francisco.
            The menu options are plentiful, consisting of both the standard ballpark favorites – hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, and nachos – and classic steakhouse dishes as well – New York steak, smoked barbecue baby back ribs, and pork spare ribs. With the cloth napkins and sparkling silverware, you get the feeling of fine dining at the ballpark.
            Yelp reviewer Kyle T., who gave the restaurant a rating of 5 stars, wrote that he was a big fan of the restaurant’s spread.
            “McCovey's pays homage to the American Tradition of Pub Grub by preparing savory classics with a variety of new and exciting items sure to please all.”
            For starters, the chicken nachos are not the oily chips, cheese, and meat slopped together at the stadium. Served on a plate enough for four people, topped with sour cream and pico de gallo salsa, the flavor is definitely one to savor, with a satisfying crispy beer taste that is better than any brewhouse-themed restaurant.
            Next, the beer-battered thick-cut onion rings came, cooked to a golden brown. For about $5, and even less than that during the mid-day happy hour specials, one can savor the crispy onion rings served with buttermilk ranch and barbecue dipping sauce.
            The Blues Burger had an intriguing name, so it was worth a try. Thankfully, the burger will not make you sing the blues.
            At $9, the Blues Burgers gives you a healthy-sized Angus burger with all the classic trimmings – lettuce, tomato, and cheese – along with a little extra flavor to it. Topped with blue cheese and sautĂ©ed mushrooms in a freshly grilled bun, the burger has a tender, juicy flavor that will leave you finishing the entire thing, regardless of its size.
            The burgers and sandwiches are generally served with your choice of french fries or cole slaw, but you can choose from one of their many sides, including corn bread, garlic mashed potatoes, or seasoned vegetables for a healthier option. Where some places charge as much as $3, you can also upgrade your french fries to garlic fries at no extra cost.
            Anyone who is a Giants fan, or who has been to AT&T Park, knows the aroma of the tasty, warm, and crunchy garlic fries present at the stadium. The garlic fries made at McCovey’s is comparable to, if not better than, the delicacy made fresh at the ballpark.
            Although the food at McCovey’s is excellent, the atmosphere is what makes the restaurant special. The most defining feature of the place is the large rotunda-like ceiling at the center of the restaurant, filled with banners, quotes, and jerseys from some of baseball’s greatest players.
The whole restaurant is like a baseball museum, rich with not just Giants memorabilia, but memorabilia from almost every major league team as well. It is almost like being at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
            Another yelp reviewer, Elizabeth T., also gave the restaurant 5 stars, mainly because of the restaurant’s scenery and its baseball fan-friendly setting.
            “The decor is fabulous. I am a die-hard Giants fan, but you do not need to love the Giants to have fun here. They have memorabilia from other local teams, so there is really something for everyone.”
            For those wanting to catch the big game, McCovey’s is the place to be. The bar area in the restaurant’s outfield is a spacious sanctuary for sports fans, like the big outfield  area at AT&T Park, with marble countertops and a wide drink selection.
            The bar area has about a dozen flat-panel televisions, including one big-screen projector. Even fans that need to make a quick trip to the bathroom will not miss any of the action, as a flat-panel television rests above the sink in the restroom.
            McCovey’s Restaurant in Walnut Creek adequately delivers the fan experience. With its stellar food and excellent sports atmosphere, you will quickly become a big fan of this fine establishment.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Bleacher Report: Mission Misunderstood, Harsh Comments of a Fellow Blogger (Revised Version)

One of the hardest things about journalism is that an author puts himself out there, leaving him or her open to harsh criticism. While open criticism is protected by the First Amendment and is an important aspect of our country, sometimes it can seem a bit severe and unfair, especially when the criticizer's reasoning is in sharp disagreement with you. Unfortunately, America likes to always find something wrong with anything, rather than looking at the good.

National baseball writers who must write about other teams are susceptible to this criticism. There are simply too many teams for one person to keep track of on a regular bases. For that to happen, one must spend his or her whole day watching baseball, 15 x 3 (roughly) = 45. Any beat writer knows covering one game daily is a chore, but covering all 15 is unrealistic. This is why thorough research is essential.

Because of this, local fans of a team will be quick to jump on these national writers. In a world full of strict deadlines and limited travel capabilities (for some writers), standard statistics are unfortunately perceived as the only indicator of a player's performance, and the only thing a writer can rely on.

However, I fell into the trap of reading into some of these meaningless statistics -- and I heard it from a well-respected blogger.

Before Mike Petriello, writer for Baseball Prospectus, tore my Bleacher Report article to shreds, I actually thought fielding percentage was a good measure of fielding ability. I could not have been more wrong. While fielding percentage can demonstrate how well a fielder can catch the ball, it does not take into account an important aspect of defense -- range.

He blogged about why the Bleacher Report is a "travesty" and chose to single out my piece -- and with good reason. At first, my opinion was that Petriello and his followers do not understand baseball nor the premise of the Bleacher Report. Then I came to realize this. (Please read the piece below in the previous entry and the comments expressed here.)

Baseball is a talking sport. It can serve as a forum for debate, which me and Mr. Petriello aimed to accomplish on our blogs. It's America's past time and is a dear sport to the hearts of baseball fans all across the country.

Mr. Petriello has his opinions, and many of them are valid.  The fielding percentage was a total brain lapse on my part. It was inexcusable to not realize that first basemen will have a high fielding percentage because of their high put-out rate (they complete plays more than any other position). Looks like I'm going to study UZR.

Mr. Petriello also appeared to claim that my article on bleacher report was full of fantastic, unrealistic ideas, where I "contradict" myself, saying that a bunch of sluggers can be had, but they really cannot because other trade partners would want Billingsley or Kershaw in return.

He's absolutely correct about the sluggers being an unrealistic fit for the Dodgers. Unfortunately, if the Dodgers want to trade to improve their offense, they are going to have to give up something to get a little something. The article is meant to be fantasy, since it is unrealistic the Dodgers will acquire any of the sluggers due to budget constraints and their unwillingness to give up good pitching.

Petriello understands that the article was supposed to be full of "what if" situations because that's the nature of the article. This is what he disagrees with. How will this analysis realistically affect the Dodgers?

Petriello just wants to see content with good journalistic value -- something the readers can actually use. They don't want to read how Jason Bay can help the Dodgers, but yet the Dodgers have no realistic shot at acquiring him. Are there really 10 SLUGGERS who can join the Dodgers? More importantly, has there been any sources who indicated that a slugger is on the way to Chavez Ravine? If not, then my claims will ultimately fail.

Another complaint I got from Petriello was that none of the players I mentioned are really that good anyway. I agree. Nobody really caught my eye. In fact, it was hard to come up with words to portray these players positively, which led to meaningless garb about fielding percentages and moving Loney to the outfield.

Since it is unlikely that the Dodgers would be able to trade for any slugger, I had to go with the sluggers already in free agency (Dye, Guerrero, etc.). They go on to say how Guerrero and Dye are below average defenders, which is true. A list of five-tool players simply do not exist in the current free agent pool. It's a tough situation for me trying to write this article. None of my options would really make sense.

On a separate issue, I was trying to speculate on what to do if James Loney was forced out of first base by a more potent first base bat -- like Prince Fielder. Prince Fielder plays first base only, so what would you do if the Brewers do not want James Loney or if you couldn't trade him?

I'm sure you could release him, but what if the Dodgers want to keep his bat in the lineup? He did have 88 RBIs in 2010. Are RBIs even a meaningful stat when considering a hitter's ability? Some say yes, and some say no. (please vote on this issue at the poll to the left of the blog).

I did a bit of research on my own about the issue. The truth is, after talking to baseball experts, that there is no right or wrong answer. This is where baseball becomes that forum for debate that I mentioned earlier.

I first asked Mychael Urban, a baseball insider for CSNBayArea.com and radio host for KNBR 680, about the RBI issue through twitter. He said that driving in runs is not a stat that should be ignored.

Next, I asked Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. He said, "Tough call. There is a real difference of opinion on this. I say yes, stat has some value. But OBP/SLG mean more."

This is where I respectfully disagree with Petriello and agree with Urban (and also Rosenthal to some extent).

I believe it takes some sort of hitting talent to drive in runners, regardless of whose on base or the team .OBP. Anyone who watched the 2009 Giants could clearly see the importance of a consistent RBI producer. Remember how many times that year the Giants would strand runners on third with less than two outs? They could not get any runners in no matter who was on base or no matter how often men were on base, often with golden opportunities to cash in.

James Loney was good at getting those runners in. He was able to take advantage of those situational at-bats, even when an out would produce a run. Unlike most of the 2009 Giants lineup, he had the concentration and hitting ability to get a good pitch to drive to the outfield with runners at third and less than two outs. He could get that RBI hit when it mattered. He could get that RBI ground-out with the infield back.

Sometimes the little things -- the manufactured RBIs - are what wins you ball games. They may not be impressive, but they are just as important. The Giants improved their situational hitting drastically in 2010 and look what happened.

Loney only had 10 home runs, but that does not mean he isn't a competent hitter. In order to get 88 RBIs with such little power, you got to be a smart situational hitter, trading an out for a run if necessary. You got to hit doubles and get those base hits with runners in scoring position.

Loney is a gap-to-gap Mark Grace type hitter. He was fifth in the National League in doubles, with 41, which might be a contributing factor toward the solid RBI total.

Regardless of his little power at a power position, Loney demonstrated enough competence at the plate to deliver quality situational at-bats. Ask someone like Eugenio Velez or Pablo Sandoval (from last season) to do the same thing Loney did, given they have the same chances with runners on base as Loney. I can guarantee you they will not reach 88 RBI's. They would chase too many pitches out of the strike zone and would either strike out or pop the ball up. They just do not have the offensive ability to do what Loney does on a consistent basis.

Going back to moving Loney, I am not saying that the Dodgers should move Loney to the outfield, but if Prince Fielder somehow joins the boys in blue, they would be crazy not to move Loney somewhere else, assuming Loney could not be traded. I speculated right field before because it was the only other position he played at besides first base, albeit, he only played three career games there.

Baseball is full of potential options, "what ifs" so to speak. Some still can't agree if some stats are worthy of merit, but discussing it is what makes baseball so enjoyable.

If you listen to any sports talk radio station, fans will throw out ideas much more outrageous than were outlined on my piece. Some still say that Barry Bonds should come out of retirement, which is silly. Unfortunately, the nature of the article will warrant these "pie in the sky" ideas. I would like to do actual reporting, and I believe I can do an excellent job if the opportunity presents itself.

The Bleacher Report gets 15 million readers per month and is growing. Even if their content is not up to standards of professionals, people read what other fans have to say, and the business model will not change if it's working. Still, Petriello does have a valid point about this issue.

If the Bleacher Report's content reaches out to major partners, such as Fox Sports and CBS Sports, the web site should make sure the content actually makes sense.

I propose that potential writers take an online training course taught by the Bleacher Report, introducing new writers to AP Style, the canons of journalism, how to write good leads, and journalistic etiquette.

However, fans who are less serious and still want their opinion out there should have their own forum on the web site. They would not get the exposure of a writer who took the training course but better quality of work will reach out to baseball fans across the country.

In the end, I am glad that Petriello criticized my work. He means well and just wants quality content out there. More importantly, he wants the hard work of other bloggers who do quality work to shine, just like the Bleacher Report articles do.

While we disagreed in opinion about RBIs, I learned something about fielding percentage and its uselessness in baseball. He might have saved my career. Who knows?

Sometimes you get one shot at impressing people, and one mistake can make or break your career. If I applied for a job and tried to reason that a first baseman's fielding percentage of .995 is better than one with a fielding percentage of .994, I would be shown the door instantaneously.

Lastly, I realize that if my content is going out to the Bleacher Report's partners, I better put my best foot forward and provide relevant, thought-provoking analysis. I owe it to my readers and blog followers. I owe it to baseball fans across the country. I owe it to myself.

Los Angeles Dodgers: 10 Sluggers Who Could Replace Manny Ramirez in Their Lineup (Part 2)

6. Vladimir Guerrero

Vladimir Guerrero may be 35, but he can still hit like he was 25.

In 2010, his .300 average, 29 home runs, and 115 RBIs helped the Rangers get to the World Series. If he were to be inserted into the Dodgers' lineup to replace Manny Ramirez, watch out.

Although Guerrero looked lost in the outfield during the World Series, it cannot be any worse than Manny Ramirez's outfield play. It might be a chance worth taking.

Since Guerrero is a free agent, the Dodgers could pick him up without giving anyone up. The question is, how much are the Dodgers willing to spend for the slugger?

7. Jorge Cantu

The 2010 campaign was a down year for Cantu. In his worst full season as a big league player, Cantu hit just .256 with 11 home runs and 56 RBIs.

When healthy, Cantu can be a legitimate power threat. In 155 games played in 2008, he hit a career high 29 home runs.

Although he can play all around the infield, Cantu's best position is first base. The Dodgers might be able to get away with putting James Loney in the outfield, but if Uribe or Blake struggle, second or third base might open up for Cantu.

With Cantu's down season, he may be a cheap option on the free agent market. Also, since he is a free agent, the Dodgers would not have to part with anybody to pick up Cantu.

8. Vernon Wells

In 2010, Vernon Wells checked in with another fine season, hitting .273 with 31 home runs and 88 RBIs. He rebounded nicely from a down 2009 year and is a powerful force at the dish.

Wells is under a seven-year, $126 million contract. If the Dodgers can trade for Wells in a package that includes pitching, he could be had.

Wells would be a significant upgrade over Manny Ramirez. He has arguably more power than Ramirez right now in his career.

9. Garrett Jones

He has been a Dodger killer so far in his young career, so why not bring him to Los Angeles?

Jones can be an adequate replacement for Manny Ramirez. Although he hit just .247, he hit 21 home runs and had 86 RBIs and could hit the ball further than most.

Jones can be an adequate replacement for Manny Ramirez. Although he hit just .247, he hit 21 home runs with 86 RBIs and could hit the ball further than most.

The price to pay for Jones? Pitching, pitching and more pitching, especially for the pitching-deprived Pittsburgh Pirates.

10. Jason Bay

It's just not happening right now for Jason Bay in New York, and a new home might be just the thing to get his bat going again.

In a season in which Bay was injured, he put up sub-par numbers in the 95 games he played in 2010. In his worst season of his career, Bay hit .259 with six home runs and 47 RBIs.

The Mets might want to hang on to Bay, thinking he should be better in 2011 if healthy. However, if the Dodgers come up with a nice package deal for him, he could be patrolling left field in place of Manny Ramirez (if he waves his no-trade clause to come to Los Angeles).

...

Look out for a review of McCovey's restaurant in Walnut Creek!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Los Angeles Dodgers: 10 Sluggers Who Could Replace Manny Ramirez in Their Lineup

I know this is a Giants blog, but my BR assignment was to write on the Dodgers. That's the way it is in the professional word, and I will adhere to it. Here is the article. Think of it like an extended NL West preview.

...
The Mannywood era of Dodger baseball came to a close in 2010. Now that the slugger has moved on from the City of Angels, the hunt is on to replace him.

Dipping below 700 total runs scored in 2010 for the first time since 2005, the Dodgers need to improve their offense if they plan on climbing to the top of the National League West once again. Even with Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, they were a team that was 27th in baseball in home runs at 120 and 24th in RBIs at 621.

For the Dodgers to succeed in 2011, they will need some help from Ned Colletti to improve the offense. Can he lure Princewood to Los Angeles?

Here are 10 potential sluggers who can make Mannywood a thing of the past at Chavez Ravine in 2011.

1. Jermaine Dye

In 2009, Jermaine Dye proved that he still had something left in the gas tank. Now, at age 36, he could return to baseball and help the Dodgers in a similar fashion to what Manny Ramirez did.

Dye hit .250 with 27 home runs, 81 RBI and a .340 OBP in 2009. Like Ramirez, Dye could be a force in the middle of the lineup.

Dye probably will not post his 2009 numbers, but he is another professional bat with playoff experience who can get on base.

His defense may be an issue. He more than likely lost a step or two, but he cannot be any worse than Manny was in the outfield.

Although he is not the best slugger out there, Dye would be the easiest to obtain. Since he is still a free agent and does not have to be traded for, Dye could be had without breaking up the Dodgers' solid starting pitching staff.

2. Prince Fielder

Can Princewood be a reality at Chavez Ravine?

For a couple years now, Prince Fielder's name was tossed around as a potential trade target. If the Brewers fall out of the race, which is less likely now that they traded for Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, Fielder could be an option in 2011 for the Dodgers, especially since it is a contract year for him.

Fielder can flat-out hit. In 2010, he mashed 32 home runs with 83 RBI. He also gets on base, owning a career .385 OBP. He would dramatically change the look of the Dodgers' lineup and serve as a nice tandem with Kemp and Ethier.

Like Manny Ramirez, Fielder can be a defensive liability. His 2010 UZR was -7.4, and his size could hinder his range at first base.

Two problems will make this deal unlikely, however. One, the Brewers expect to compete in 2011, as shown by the Greinke trade, and two, the finances might still be a bit tight with the McCourt divorce.

3. Jose Bautista

One hit wonder or legitimate power threat? Call it what you want, but it is not easy to hit 54 home runs in a major league season.

Depending on Jose Bautista's arbitration case, he could become available, especially if he wins his case. If that happens, the Blue Jays would have to pay lots of money, so they might want to unload him.

If the Dodgers trade for Bautista to replace Manny Ramirez, their lineup would look better -- if 2010 was not a fluke. In 2010, Bautista hit 54 home runs and had 120 RBIs, and he could be the replacement the Dodgers are looking for.
One major problem that could hamper the Dodgers' chances of getting Bautista is that the Jays will want good talent in return for him. It is likely they would want to pry Billingsley or Kershaw away from the Dodgers, something it does not seem like the Dodgers want to do.

 4. Justin Upton

 Justin Upton is a young power hitter who is a force at the plate. If the Dodgers could somehow pry him from the Diamondbacks, a National League West title might be in the cards for the boys in blue.

Upton is signed by the Diamondbacks through 2015 and figures to be a big part of their offense, but for a pitching-starved team like the D-backs, they might have to listen to offers for quality pitching, something the Dodgers have.

Although Upton hit only .273 with 17 home runs and 69 RBIs, he is only 23 years old and will only get better. He has the tools to be a star in the major leagues and maybe a winning atmosphere will get him going.

5. Derek Lee

The Orioles recently signed Derrek Lee to a one-year, $7.25 million contract. However, the Orioles may want to unload him midseason if they fall out of the race, which might happen since they are in the same division as the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays.

Currently, James Loney plays Lee's first base position, but Lee might still be a fit for the Dodgers. If Loney can move to the outfield (he has played three career games in right field), the Dodgers can put both potent bats in the lineup.

In 2010, Lee hit .269, with 19 home runs and 80 RBIs. He may not be able to hit 40 home runs anymore, but he can still be a threat to leave the yard.

...

More to come.




Wednesday, January 5, 2011

San Francisco Giants Trivia of the Day

On July 14, 2005, the Giants made sports history.

On this day, the Giants beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3, giving them 10,000 victories as a franchise. Why is this significant? On that day, the San Francisco/New York Giants franchise became the only team to have five digits in their franchise win total.

Let's take a look at the game. The Giants were tied with the Dodgers 1-1 at Dodger Stadium. In the seventh inning with two on and two out, Omar Vizquel drove an 0-2 pitch down the right-field line for a three-run home run, giving the Giants a 4-1 lead. The Giants would go on to win the game 4-3, giving Jason Schmidt his fourth straight win over the Dodgers that year.

Currently, the Giants are 10,372-8912 all time. Win number 10,372 was significant in that it won the National League West Title for the Giants in 2010. These 10,372 wins are the most in sports history.

San Francisco Giants: 10 Available Players Who Could Guarantee Playoff Return (Part 2)

Option #6: Jermaine Dye

In 2009, Bay Area native Jermaine Dye proved that he still had something left in the gas tank. Now, at age 36, he could return home and help the Giants in a similar fashion to what Manny Ramirez can do.

Dye hit .250/27 home runs/81 RBI/.340 OBP in 2009. Like Ramirez, Dye could be a force off the bench or help if Pat Burrell struggles in left field.

Dye probably will not post his 2009 numbers, but he is another professional at bat with play-off experience who can get on base.

With the wide open spaces of right field, Dye's primary position, he is probably best suited for the bench or left field, but with Torres and Ross in the outfield, he does not need too much range out in the field.

Option #7: Jon Rauch

With Sergio Romo giving up big home runs late in games (especially in the NLDS), the Giants might want to seek another right-handed set-up option. Jon Rauch might be it if Romo struggles in 2011.

A change of scenery from the Arizona Diamondbacks seemed to help Rauch. In 2010, with the Minnesota Twins, Rauch went 3-1 with a 3.12 ERA in 59 games. He struck out 46, while only walking 14, posting an impressive strikeout to walk ratio that is almost 3:1.

The Giants already have a strong, deep bullpen and could make it even stronger with Rauch in 2011.

Option #8: Orlando Cabrera

With the Giants' backup shortstop position still not a foregone conclusion with Edgar Renteria not happy with the Giants' contract offer, they will need someone to fill the position since it is unrealistic to ask Miguel Tejada to play 162 games at short stop. Orlando Cabrera might just be a solid option.

In 2010, Cabrera hit .263, with 4 home runs and 42 RBIs, for the Cincinnati Reds. He may lack the World Series dramatics of Edgar Renteria, but he is a little guy who swings hard and has a little bit more power.

Not to mention, he would fit in well with all the Latin players in the Giants' clubhouse. Team chemistry was high in their 2010 championship season, so why not keep it that way?

Option #9: Prince Fielder

For a couple years now, Prince Fielder's name was tossed around as a potential trade target. If the Brewers fall out of the race, which is less likely now that they signed Zack Greinke, Fielder could be an option in 2011 for the Giants, especially now that their payroll is expected to reach $120 million and since 2011 is a contract year for him.

Fielder can flat out hit. In 2010, he mashed 32 home runs with 83 RBIs. He also gets on base, owning a career .385 OBP. He would dramatically change the look of the Giants' lineup.

Fielder has a heavy frame and could be a defensive liability. In 2010, he had a not-so-impressive -7.4 UZR. To accommodate Fielder, the Giants could move Huff to left field.

Option #10: Jose Bautista


Depending on Jose Bautista's arbitration case, he could become available, especially if he wins his case. If that happens, the Blue Jays would have to pay lots of money, so they might want to unload him.

If the Giants trade for Bautista, their lineup would look worlds better, granted 2010 was not a fluke. In 2010, Bautista hit 54 home runs and had 120 RBIs, and could be the big bat the Giants are looking for.

If Pat Burrell struggles like he did in the World Series, Bautista could be given consideration. Not to mention, he had a high OBP in 2010 at .378, but the Jays will want good talent in return for him.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

San Francisco Giants: 10 Available Players Who Could Guarantee Playoff Return

Spring Training is nearly two months away, and the Giants have been relatively inactive on the hot stove during the offseason. With the exception of the Miguel Tejada signing, their other signings have involved bringing back components from the 2010 World Series championship season, such as Pat Burrrell and Aubrey Huff.

Although the free agent market thinned, now that Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth joined other clubs, the Giants still have some viable options on available players, both in the free agent and trade market.

Here are 10 potential available players that could guarantee October baseball on the shores of McCovey Cove again in 2011.


Option #1: Edgar Renteria

Although the Giants' $1 million dollar offer to Edgar Renteria made him feel disrespected, the latest news is that the two sides are once again talking, according to Mychael Urban of CSNBayArea.com. However, the Giants are not optimistic about resigning the veteran shortstop, since he has drawn interest from other clubs, such as the Reds.

A team is only as strong as its weakest link, so the Giants would be wise to solidify their bench. With backup left-handed first baseman Travis Ishikawa emerging as a quality pinch-hitter, Edgar Renteria is a professional right-handed bat off the bench who still has a flare for the dramatic.

In the 2010 postseason, Renteria batted .286 with two home runs and six RBIs, although three of them came on his game-winning home run in Game 5 of the World Series. Renteria is not an impact player anymore, but he can grind out an at-bat or fill in a hole if an injury were to occur to say Miguel Tejada.

Option #2: Eric Chavez

In recent years, Eric Chavez has been plagued with injuries for the Oakland Athletics. Once a potential super-star third baseman for the A's, Chavez is now looking for a change of scenery.

With the Giants' third base position in limbo, if Pablo Sandoval doesn't come into camp more fit, Chavez might be a cheap, reasonable option who could provide some left-handed pop off the bench, granted he is healthy. He owns a career OBP of .343, a stat the Giants surely would like to improve upon.

If the Giants can sign Chavez to a major-league or minor-league contract at or near the minimum, this would be a low-risk solution to improve the offense, especially the bench. At 33, he might have something left in the gas tank, so why not take the chance on this rag-tag misfit if the philosophy worked in 2010.

Option #3: Gregg Zaun

It is no secret that the Giants' backup catcher Eli Whiteside struggles against major league pitching. In 2010, he batted just .238 with a .299 on-base percentage. A low average, little power, and a low OBP is a recipe for disaster at the plate.

Buster Posey, the Giants' regular catcher, cannot play every game, so a decent backup will be key in getting the Giants through 162 games. 

Gregg Zaun might just be that decent backup catcher. For the Brewers in 2010, Zaun hit .265, with two home runs and 11 RBIs, in 28 games. He also gets on base more than Whiteside, owning a career .344 OBP.

While Zaun is not a significant upgrade to Whiteside, there was a reason Posey played every game in both September and the playoffs.

Option #4: Jamey Wright

The one dimension that the Giants' bullpen is missing is that mop-up role long reliever. The Giants' starting pitching is excellent, but if one of their starters has an early exit at least once in awhile, who do the Giants have in their bullpen that could eat up three or four innings?

While Wright is not the flashiest name out there, he is serviceable and could even spot start. For the Mariners in 2010, he posted a 1-3 record with a 4.17 ERA.

The Giants would be best to offer Wright a minor-league contract for 2011. If he does well in the spring, put him on the roster. If he gets lit up, then it might be a good idea to explore other options.



Option #5: Manny Ramirez

The Dodgers tried to punch the Giants by taking Juan Uribe, so why not punch the Dodgers right back by taking one of their former players?

Manny Ramirez may be best suited for the DH role, but he still has a quick bat that the Giants can use off the bench. In 2010, Ramirez hit .298, with just nine home runs and 42 RBIs in 90 games, but had a .409 OBP. On-base percentage is something the Giants need to improve on, as they only had a team OBP of .297 in the 2010 postseason.

If Burrell were to struggle, Ramirez would just be another option in LF, assuming the Giants don't sign another outfielder. With a gazelle in the outfield, Andres Torres, and Cody Ross, one water buffalo in the outfield will not hurt that much.


The rest coming on the next post...

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