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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

MLB Opposes Dodgers’ Bankruptcy Filing/

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

By Diehard Sports Fans

The Los Angeles Dodgers situation was thrown into further disarray on June 28 when a bankruptcy judge granted the club’s owner Frank McCourt interim approval to borrow $150 million so he can pay the players and cover the rest of the bills until the end of the year. There’s also a scheduled hearing for July 20 to decide whether an alternative loan offer from Major League Baseball should be approved for the Dodgers instead.

The Dodgers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 27 and MLB objected to the procedure saying it was opposed to the $150 million debtor-in-possession loan. The league’s attorneys told the bankruptcy judge that it would provide the money for the Dodgers via its own banks and would give McCourt better terms than the J.P. Morgan hedge fund will.

When it filed the objection, MLB stated that the league would offer a no-strings attached and cheaper solution to McCourt’s financial problems over the next year. According to MLB, the original conditions of the hedge fund loan will see McCourt charged 10 percent interest as well as an additional fee of $4.5 million. However, the hedge fund then agreed to lower the fee to just $250,000 as an exit fee if the judge decides to go with the loan offered by MLB, which will charge just seven per cent interest and no extra fees.

MLB has blamed the club’s current financial situation on McCourt as they said he’s been using the franchise’s funds for his personal use. The league also said that McCourt didn’t have permission from Commissioner Bud Selig or when he filed for bankruptcy, which is an MLB requirement.

MLB also wants the court to look into some other things, such as if the case was filed properly, and if McCourt is eligible to keep control of club during the bankruptcy process. The league also said publicly that McCourt and his ex-wife Jamie siphoned more than $100 million for family us, which disregarded his debtors and the interests of the Dodgers and baseball in general.

They went on to say McCourt put his personal interests before the club’s and not being able to cover the payroll is a result of it. However, McCourt and his debtors say Selig is to blame since they refused to approve McCourt’s multi-year deal with Fox TV which would have injected millions of dollars into the franchise immediately and $3 billion over the life of the deal.

It’s believed the Dodgers’ next payroll payment is $40 million with $8 million of that going to the retired Manny Ramirez as a deferred payment. McCourt is asking the judge to approve the proposed hedge fund loan as well as to open up bidding between media companies to for a new television deal.

Selig said he shot down the deal between the Dodgers and Fox because he didn’t feel it was in the best interests of baseball and the Dodgers. MLB is claiming that McCourt has filed for Chapter 11 to have the television deal approved and that he didn’t seek financial help from the league before doing so.

If approved, the Fox deal would have pumped $385 million into the club in an up-front payment to keep it afloat. Fox also loaned $23.5 million to McCourt personally to cover May’s payroll.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

San Francisco returns to the "Giants' way," ends five-game losing streak with 5-1 win

Vogelsong pitches seven solid innings to lead the Giants to victory.

1  2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9    R   H   E
MIN 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 00  1   6   3
SF 0 2 0 0 0 1 1 1-  5   7   1

Vogelsong pitches seven innings to earn his fifth win. Photo courtesy of Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

By Vince Cestone

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants took a five-day vacation from working on their original blueprint, but they got back to old business--good pitching and timely hits.

The Giants looked to improve on their poor start last night, where Madison Bumgarner gave up eight runs in just one-third of an inning pitched. The only out he recorder in the first inning was a strikeout to the Minnesota Twins' pitcher Carl Pavano.

Ryan Vogelsong (5-1), the Giants' new-found ace, pitched seven innings of one-run ball to earn the 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins at AT&T Park. With his gutsy pitching performance, the right-hander lowered his earned-run average to 1.86.

The Giants' offense scored at least five runs in a game for the first time since last Wednesday in Arizona, when they beat the Diamondbacks 5-2. Since then, they scored just nine runs five games, not including tonight's game.

Eli Whiteside (2-for-4) was Posey-like with three RBIs. Two of them came on a second-inning triple, giving the Giants a 2-0 lead.

This is all the offense the Giants would need. Still, San Francisco tacked on.

In the sixth inning, Whiteside singled home Nate Schierholtz, increasing the Giants' lead to 3-0. San Francisco tacked on lone insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings.

The Giants' bullpen, which worked 8 2/3 innings of one-run ball last night, were perfect in two innings tonight.

Minnesota righty Nick Blackburn (6-5) pitched a quality game but was the tough-luck loser. In his six strong innings of work, he gave up three runs (two earned) on just four hits

Game Thoughts

By Chris Bissell

The Cinderella story continues for Ryan Vogelsong, helping the Giants end a five-game skid with another brilliant outing. He allowed one earned run while going seven strong innings, recording his fifth win of the season (5-1 overall).

Vogelsong has now made a total of 11 starts this season and is currently sitting at a 1.86 ERA with a WHIP of 1.07. While he doesn't strike out batters at the rate of Tim Lincecum, it's remarkable how well Vogelsong simply commands the strike zone, locating nearly every pitch--and making it look easy.

During his tremendous run through the 11 starts, Vogelsong has amassed the following:

- nine consecutive starts with two earned runs or less: second-longest, single-season streak by a Giants' starter since the team moved to San Francisco in 1958, with 10 of 11 starts in that same category

- Back on May 8, Vogelsong retired the first 15 Rockies he saw en route to a 3-0 victory. He's the second pitcher this year to have multiple perfect-game bids of 4 IP or longer. Jaime Garcia has three.

While Vogelsong is not qualified in terms of innings pitch, that 1.86 ERA would be tied for the Major League lead with Josh Beckett, and would be the NL lead over Jair Jurrjens (2.11 ERA).

Vogelsong is currently sitting at 72.2 innings pitches, and in order to be qualified for the ERA lead, he would need at least 6 1/3 IP in his next start to become qualified (Giants would be at 79 games, and in order to be qualified, a pitcher must have a total innings pitched equal to or greater than the amount of games his team has completed)

Vogelsong has certainly made a case for himself to make the All-Star team, assuming he becomes qualified and doesn't turn into Jonathan Sanchez between now and then. The dilemma is that Bochy most likely can't select both Vogelsong and Lincecum because all three of Philadelphia's aces (Halladay, Lee, Hamels) are All-Star worthy with sub-three ERA's and 100+ IP, not to mention Lee is posting a sub-1.00 ERA in June.

The All-Star game isn't what matters, and to Vogelsong, he can only hope that the dream continues.

Chris's Tidbits

- Aubrey Huff went 1-for-5 tonight with an RBI, and while people continue to describe Huff as in a slump, he has a line of .324/.364/.563 and an OPS of .927. The Giants have been waiting for Huff to heat up and contribute, and this month has looked pretty promising while Sandoval has continued to struggle since returning from the disabled list.

- Andres Torres has been pressing too much and Bochy acknowledged that as the reason why Rowand has been seeing more starts. While it hasn't been said much, 2010 is starting to look more and more like a career year. No one in that front office knew what to expect from Torres.

- Sergio Romo hyper-extended his knee after recording his one out tonight, but he said he should be ready to go tomorrow. It could be more serious and open up a spot for Zito in his return, but I doubt it.

- I posed the question to myself earlier about Brandon Crawford, asking how low his average would get before Bochy was forced to give up on him. After thinking about it, I'd have to say pretty low, with the options Bochy currently has. I asked the question based on the idea that great defense is needed, but to what sacrafice of offense? Bill Hall should be at 2B because of his plus power potential, and the fact that he's no worse a hitter in terms of average than Manny Burriss, or in defense. Miguel Tejada is currently hitting better than Crawford, but outside of 3B, Tejada is far from decent defensively, so at this point, Bochy's choices seem to be limited to Crawford, Crawford, and Crawford at SS. 

Giants Blurbs

By Vince Cestone

Barry Zito is likely to return to the hill when the Giants play a double header in Chicago. Ryan Vogelsong took a perfect game into the fifth inning, only to be broken up by Michael Cuddyer. Brian Wilson's last appearance was a week ago in Arizona. Tomorrow, the Giants' Tim Lincecum (5-6, 3.39 ERA) will take on Brian Duensing (4-6, 4.82 ERA) in a 12:45 p.m. matinee.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The torture continues--Giants hang on to beat Diamondbacks 6-5 in Sandoval's return

Chris Stewart congratulates Brian Wilson, as he records his 19th save of 
the year. Wilson struck out Stephen Drew looking to end the game.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

By Vince Cestone

The San Francisco Giants squeaked out another one-run victory, edging the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-5.

The Giants' offense was jolted by Pablo Sandoval's return from the disabled list. In his first game back in the lineup, Sandoval went 1-for-4 with a walk, including an RBI single in the first inning which put the Giants on the board first.

With two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth inning, Giants' closer Brian Wilson walked Kelly Johnson and Justin Upton, who both moved up a base on a wild pitch. Wilson struck out the next batter, Stephen Drew, looking on a backdoor cutter with the tying and winning runs in scoring position. Wilson earned his 19th save.

The Giants jumped out to a 5-0 lead by the fifth inning.

They scored their second run in the fourth inning on a squeeze play with Matt Cain at the plate. The Giants tacked on three more runs in the fifth inning with two of them driven in by Cody Ross, who went 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs.

The Diamondbacks roared back in the bottom of the sixth inning. With the score 5-1, Miguel Montero laced a three-run home run to right off Matt Cain, cutting the Dbacks' deficit to 5-4

The Giants and Diamondbacks scored one more run each in the game. Nate Schierholtz drove in the game-winning run for the Giants in the seventh inning with a double that Dbacks' outfielder Chris Young bobbled, allowing Huff to score and Schierholtz to get to third base.

Starting pitcher Cain was less than spectacular tonight, pitching 6 2/3 innings and giving up five runs on eight hits. Cain earned his sixth win of the year.

The Giants' bullpen picked Cain up, throwing 2 1/3 scoreless innings of no-hit ball.

The Giants roughed up Josh Collmenter (4-2, 1.86 ERA), who came into tonight's start with a 1.18 ERA. The Giants touched him up for five runs and eight hits in the five innings he pitched.

Game Thoughts

By Chris Bissell

With offensive injuries comes lower production, which means less runs, combined with great pitching, means close games. We all know the formula, and we're all accustomed to the type of wins the Giants pull out.

Besides the pitching staff, there's nothing pretty about this team anymore--except the fact they continue to win games.

There's still one freshly-polished offensive gem on this team, healthy of course, and that's Pablo Sandoval. At this point, the offensively-challenged Giants understand how detrimental Sandoval's bat was before the broken hamate bone injury on April 29.

Sandoval hit the disabled list with a .313 average, five home runs, and 14 RBI after a hot start, fresh off an off-season of strenuous workouts, and a 38-pound drop. Sandoval led the team in average all the way up to his return tonight, and he certainly picked up where he left off.

After beginning the season in the bottom part of the order, hitting from sixth to ninth on several occasions, Sandoval had established his 2009 presence all over again, and you can guarantee that's not changing.

Sandoval has an irrefutable impact on this lineup, and you can see just from tonight how vast a difference it is. Aubrey Huff had 2 walks, Cody Ross went 2-for-4 with 2 doubles, and every starter except Matt Cain had a base hit.

The Giants since the beginning of last season have simply never been about one hitter, one individual, or one player in general, but at this point, you can't deny the importance of Sandoval's bat in the lineup and presence in the dugout.

This team has certainly caught the injury bug, and with Freddy Sanchez going out, there was almost nothing left in that lineup to be optimistic about. Huff was seeming to have his "off year," Crawford was coming down to earth, etc, etc.

The Giants won six out of ten on the last home stand, scoring a mediocre 2.4 runs per game. As I said, there's nothing pretty about this team, except the fact that they... yeah, we get it.

Nate Schierholtz continues to show up when it matters, driving in a run off Aaron Heilman in the 7th inning. Despite only being at a .261 average and a decent 4 home runs, Nate "the great" is certainly coming up in the clutch, with a line of .313/.361/.406 (.767 OPS) with runners in scoring position.

Giants' Health Notes

By Chris Bissell

  • Freddy Sanchez will get a second opinion on his right shoulder tomorrow and will try to rest the shoulder to have it heal on its own, despite labrum damage and a loosened capsule.
  • Mike Fontenot will resume his rehab in a few days after suffering a minor groin injury.

  • Brandon Belt will have his cast removed Friday after suffering that right wrist hairline fracture a few weeks ago against the Cardinals.

Giants Blurbs

By Vince Cestone

The Giants are 5-1 against the Diamondbacks this season. The Giants have not scored six runs in a game since June 2 against the St. Louis Cardinals, where they won 12-7. The last time the Giants and Diamondbacks were 1-2 in the division standings in mid-June was 1999. Tomorrow, the Giants' Madison Bumgarner (2-8, 3.23 ERA) will face the Diamondbacks' Joe Saunders (3-6, 4.56 ERA) at 6:40 p.m.

Vinnie Cestone is a blogger/reporter for The Talking Giants Baseball Blog. Unless otherwise noted, all information was obtained first-hand or from official materials from ESPN or the Major League Baseball website.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Call of Duty Spells College Relief; quick Giants thoughts

It is great to be back writing again.

The San Francisco Giants amazingly are in first place despite the injuries--now with Freddy Sanchez the latest to go done. They statistically have one of the worst offense in the National League, but they still lead the NL West by one game over the Diamondbacks.

What is the recipe for success for the Giants? Good starting pitching, a shutdown bullpen, and resiliency are the ingredients for the Giants' winning.

Back in 2008, the Giants had a similar anemic offense, but they lost 90 games. What was the difference?

The 2008 club had a 4.38 team ERA.

It is time for the Giants to make a statement in Arizona now that Pablo Sandoval will be back.

Now to change gears. Here is a news feature story I wrote for on video games.


By Vince Cestone

Video games a popular form of entertainment for De Anza students trying to escape pressures of attending college.

Video games are a popular form of entertainment, and some students at De Anza College enjoy escaping the pressures of school and work by engaging with an electronic virtual world.

According to a study by Pew Internet Research, 70 percent of college students play video games at least “once in a while.” Half of the college students in the Pew study admitted that video games keep them from studying “some” or a “lot.”

Raymond Lee, 25, a fourth-year journalism major at De Anza, said he plays “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” about 30 hours per week. While he spends many hours studying, Lee said he uses the first-person shooter war game to take him on a journey he could never go on in the real world and to give his mind a break from the books.

“You can play or do something like a pro—something you can’t do in real life,” Lee said. “We are living in a peaceful world, and it’s interesting to know how it’s like to be in war—a fantasy life. It’s a way to relax without thinking too much.”

Like Lee, 31-year-old De Anza student Sean Fitzgerald said he plays video games to make unrealistic scenarios and fantasy situations happen in his virtual world. For example, in the sports video game “NCAA Football 12,” he could have San Jose State University play the University of Alabama, a matchup unlikely to happen in real life.

“I can pick whatever college I want and play the team I want to play on a schedule I pick,” Fitzgerald said. “This match-up would never happen in real life because that team (University of Alabama) is way better than San Jose State, but in a video game, I can play as San Jose and win.”

Although he only has time to play this game a couple of hours per week, Fitzgerald said it gives him a moment to relax his mind.

“It gives me a distraction for an hour or two, because I think it’s fun,” Fitzgerald said.

While some students use virtual reality to escape from the pressures of everyday life, others use it for its social aspect.

William Ferguson, 21, a second-year English major at De Anza, said he likes playing multiplayer, team video games. One of his favorites, “League of Legends,” is a team-oriented strategy game where his avatar has a supporting role on a team.

“I like the social aspect of the game, and what draws me to it is the variety in the game—you can make the gameplay your own,” Ferguson said. “The player base is really strong, and I get to play with people in different countries and meet people through gameplay.”

An immensely popular video game that some De Anza students also play is a "massively multiplayer online role-playing game" (MMORPG) called “World of Warcraft” (WOW.) This game genre involves a large number of players interacting within a virtual world, and according to the video game web site,, more than 12 million people are playing this game online right at this moment.

De Anza student Paul Kamradt, 19, plays WOW about 20 hours per week. He said he cannot put the game down and understands why the game is played by millions worldwide.

“It’s addicting,” Kamradt said. “There’s really nothing to do on it; it’s unbeatable, competitive, and the ranking system through arenas is awesome.”

Although WOW users are charged a monthly fee, Kamradt said the price is worth its entertainment value.

Anthony Nguyen, 23, previously told Cupertino Patch that the high cost of education forced him to cut down on his favorite leisure activity—playing video games. As a third-year journalism major struggling to pay student fees at De Anza College, Nguyen said he cut his playing time from 25 hours per week to five hours, now that he's buying fewer games and studying.

Still, Nguyen makes the most of his reduced play time with role-playing games such as “Final Fantasy 4.” He said the game’s cinematic story and excellent gameplay appeals to him.

“The game has a very interesting storyline, and the music is very relaxing,” Nguyen said. “It is fun, and it takes you on a journey beyond your wildest imagination.”

Like some other De Anza students, Nguyen also said he does his best to balance school and his video game play time.

This article was featured on Cupertino Patch.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

San Francisco Giants: 5 Biggest Threats to Title Repeat

By Vinnie Cestone

Note: This article was created on June 8. The stats in this article are not current.

The Giants line up behind the Commisioner's Trophy during their home opener.
Pool/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants may be the 2010 World Series champions, but they will have to overcome many obstacles to reach baseball immortality again in 2011.

The Giants have continued their torturous ways so far this season. Their 2011 campaign has been a roller coaster ride from the start, with thrilling wins one night and devastating losses the next.

This season's Giants have essentially the same championship pitching staff and band of misfits as last season—minus Edgar Renteria and Juan Uribe—but will it be enough?

The 2010 Giants climbed many hurdles to win the World Series.

They overcame an anemic offense early in the season and a pitching hiccup in August. They bounced back from a 7.5-game deficit and a 6-12 season record against the San Diego Padres, the team they were competing against for the National League West title.

The challenges did not stop there. The Padres even forced the Giants to clinch the division on Game 162 after San Diego won the first two games of their season-ending three-game series.

Can the Giants be the team of destiny yet again in 2011 despite all the obstacles?

Here are five possible threats to a Giants World Series title repeat.

1. The Injuries

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Giants have taken many trips to the infirmary during the heat of battle this season.

San Francisco currently has six players on the disabled list—including Barry Zito, Mark DeRosa, Pablo Sandoval, Mike Fontenot and Darren Ford. Unfortunately for the Giants, many of their injuries came in an area where they had the least depth—the infield.

The biggest solider to go down is young, catching sensation Buster Posey, who broke his left fibula and tore ligaments in his ankle area during a collision at the plate. According to the Giants, his bat will likely be void from the Giants lineup for the remainder of the season, and his absence could have a detrimental impact on the Giants offense.

According to Fangraphs, before his injury, Posey's WAR was 1.7—which means he could have been on pace for a season WAR between four and five. To limit the damage of losing Posey, the Giants will have to scratch, claw and execute the fundamentals for runs.

In the 14 games since Posey's season-ending injury, the Giants have bounced back with an 8-6 record. So far, they have shown the resiliency needed to win without Posey, but they will have to continue doing so through 162 games.

Even with the injuries that plagued much of the infield, including their slugging third baseman Pablo Sandoval, the Giants sit atop the NL West at 35-27, 1.5 games over the Arizona Diamondbacks. With help from young players such as shortstop Brandon Crawford and infielder Emmanuel Burriss, Bruce Bochy is doing the best with what he has, and he will have to continue to do so if the Giants want to win the World Series again.

2. The Offense

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The Giants have a world-class pitching staff but not a championship offense to match.

Although they are in first place in the NL West, the Giants are 15th in the National League in runs scored (218) and 13th in batting average (.240). San Francisco also has an unimpressive on-base percentage of .306, which is 14th in the league.

With Posey's injury, a key to the Giants offense is Aubrey Huff. Huff is hitting just .222, with eight home runs and 30 RBI, along with a .278 on-base percentage.

Despite Huff's slow start, he has heated up lately. In his last seven games, Huff has nine RBI and four home runs.

If the Giants want to win constantly, they will have to overcome their offensive struggles and put up runs on the board. Despite their 35-27 record, the Giants' torturous, low-scoring ways may not be so thrilling if those games start to go the other way—in the loss column.

3. The Arizona Diamondbacks

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Giants have gotten heat from an unlikely divisional rival—the Arizona Diamondbacks.

This is not the first time the two teams have battled for first place, but in fact, it was a constant back in the early part of the decade. Between 1999 and 2003, the Giants and the Diamondbacks finished one-two in the division in three out of five of those years.

So far in 2011, the division rivalry has been renewed, but for how long?

The Diamondbacks are currently playing like a team that could threaten the Giants' defending World Series title—and their NL West title. At 33-28, Arizona is just 1.5 games behind San Francisco for first place.

Unlike the Giants, the Diamondbacks' main problem coming into the season was their pitching. In 2010, Arizona was 15th in the league in team ERA at 4.81, but so far in 2011, they are 12th in the league with a 3.94 ERA.

The Diamondbacks will have to keep their pitching up if they want to stay competitive in the National League West. Arizona was 19-10 in May, mainly because of their 3.03 team ERA for that month.

Fortunately for the Giants, they are 5-1 against the Diamondbacks this season—and seem to have their number in recent years. Still, if the Diamondbacks keep pitching like this and can prove they are for real, the Giants could find themselves snakebitten very soon.

4. The Target on Their Backs

 Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Winning a world championship may come with the glory, the celebration and a rejuvenated fanbase, but it may come with another consequence—the best effort from the opposing team.

The Giants cannot take any team lightly in 2011. Even the under-.500 teams could give the Giants a run for their money, and they need to be prepared.

The Giants saw this reality during their season-opening series when they lost three out of four to the now third-place Dodgers. San Francisco began 2011 2-4 and did not play good defensive or offensive baseball.

Since then, however, the Giants have bounced back and currently have a 35-27 record.

In addition to their stellar pitching, the Giants have since cut down on their errors and are getting timely hits again—the formula for their success in 2010. If the Giants play their game and pitch like they know how to, they should be able to overcome the target on their backs.

5. The Defense

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Giants may not have had the best defense range-wise in 2010, but they were able to make the plays on everything they got to.

The Giants defense is subpar in 2011, but most of their errors came early on. The Giants are currently 13th-worst in the National League in errors with 40 and 12th in the league in fielding percentage at .983.

According to Baseball-Reference, as a team, San Francisco's Rtot (the number of runs above or below average the player was worth based on the number of plays made) is minus-three, so their defense has slightly cost them a few runs.

One glaring defensive question mark is Miguel Tejada. As a shortstop this season, Tejada has made six errors and has a .942 fielding percentage in 27 games—with an Rtot of minus-three.

The Giants have made the most of Tejada by placing him at third base while Pablo Sandoval is recovering from his injury. Tejada has responded nicely by making just one error in 27 games, with an Rtot of four and a .988 fielding percentage.

If the Giants want to repeat as champions in 2011, they will have to continue doing something they excelled at last season—catching the ball.

Vinnie Cestone is a blogger/reporter for The Talking Giants Baseball Blog. Unless otherwise noted, all information was obtained first-hand or from official materials from ESPN or the Major League Baseball website.

This article was featured on The Bleacher Report.

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