Tag Archives: Hunter Pence

2014 San Francisco Giants Team Preview

pablo-sandoval
There’s now a shelf life to Fat Panda pictures on the internet.

The 2013 San Francisco Giants had a weird year coming off their World Championship which saw them go 76-86 and finish fourth in the NL West.

This season will be interesting for the Giants. They are a veteran team with much enough of the core remaining from the World Championship runs that if they were to make a run, it wouldn’t be completely shocking. At the same time, I look at this Giants roster and I just don’t get excited. That’s not different from how I felt writing the 2010 and 2012 season previews for the Giants.

Really, the Giants play a certain style of game out in that big park by the bay. It’s a slow paced game most nights. There are a lot of ugly wins. The Giants have built a quality organization of which the main cornerstones remain in-tact. They will be competitive, but they have a few blemishes we see that will keep them from making a serious run in 2014.

Major Off-season Moves:

  • Signed Tim Hudson to a 2-year, $23 million dollar contract
  • Signed Mike Morse to a 1-year, $6 million dollar contract
  • Signed Tyler Colvin
  • Signed Hunter Pence to a 5-year, $90 million dollar contract extension
  • Signed Tim Lincecum to a 2-year, $35 million dollar contract extension
  • Signed Javier Lopez to a 3-year, $13 million dollar extension

There’s nothing that overwhelms me here. I like Mike Morse more than a lot of the new-age sabermetrics crowd. But you have to wonder what kind of team the Giants were trying to scrape together here. Defense? Keep the core together? I look at the amount that Lincecum and Hudson signed for, and I say to myself the Giants could have landed a top-tier arm for this amount. At the end of the day, it’s kind of cool that Big-Time Timmy Jim is staying put in San Francisco. He’s an icon there, and the contract kind of signifies that the Giants got sentimental on us.

Click through the jump to learn the fates and facts of the 2014 Gigantes.

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Tim Lincecum Fires No-Hitter in San Diego

Tim+Lincecum

For at least one night, The Freak was back.

Tim Lincecum completed a no-hitter just a few strokes after 1:00 AM in the Midwest, and it took 148 pitches. The final out recorded was a fly ball off the bat of Yonder Alonso to left fielder Gregor Blanco. Lincecum had a close call in the 8th inning when Alexi Amarista hit a line drive to right field, but Hunter Pence made an outstanding diving catch to keep the no-no in tact. Pence also added a solo home run to make it a 9-0 Giants lead.

The no-hitter couldn’t have came at a more unexpected time for “Big Time Timmy”. In his last 10 games, Lincecum was 1-7 with a 5.06 ERA.

You have to be happy for Linecum who despite his struggles is one of the true good guys in the game. It wast the 15th no-hitter in Giants history. The 148 pitches Linecum needed were the most since Edwin Jackson threw 149 to complete his own no-hitter back in 2010.

San Francisco Giants 2013 Team Preview

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The San Francisco Giants caught lightning in a bottle for the second time in three years last season in winning the World Series. They parlayed a ragamuffin lineup and a makeshift pitching staff with a couple aging former stars into a title. They’ve been spoiled. There were about a four other teams last year that entered the postseason looking better on paper than the Giants.

And I’ll admit, I’ve got a little bit of a sore spot because they took the title that should have belonged to my Cincinnati Reds. At least, the NL title should have belonged to Cincinnati. We had them down two games to zero and heading back to Cincinnati for three. And then it all fell apart. Or it all came together if you’re looking at it from the San Francisco viewpoint.

They had a quiet, Giants-like offseason. They’ll be there all season long, pesky and ready to slip in and steal another title that should belong to another team and another fan base.

Major offseason moves:

  • Re-signed Angel Pagan to a 4-year, $40 million dollar contract
  • Re-signed Marco Scutaro to a 3-year, $20 million dollar contract
  • Re-signed Santiago Casilla to a 3-year, $15 million dollar contract
  • Re-signed Jeremy Affeldt to a 3-year, $18 million dollar contract

Really, the Giants offseason consisted of retention of the key components of their title run in 2012. There are few teams in baseball that underwent less change than the Giants this past offseason. This roster of familiar faces will remain competitive but will fail to capture another championship in 2013. No one can be that lucky.

Let’s look at the Giants in-depth after the jump.

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2011 Major League Baseball All Star Game

[Box Score]

There is one thing that came clear to me during yesterday’s All-Star Game, of which I watched the entire thing.

First off, the game was boring. It didn’t do a lot to showcase the sport’s midsummer classic. But there’s a reason for that. I felt the same way about this year’s game as I did about last year’s game. Pitching and arms are nastier and deeper than they’ve ever been before and on a lot of nights that equates to some really bland baseball.

Gone are the days where you have a Danny Darwin type arm sneak into the game or a guy who throws nothing but 86 and gets by on guile. You’ll never see that again. Baseball has a plethora of flamethrowers to choose from who have succeeded enough with their dynamite stuff in the first half of the season that you’ll virtually never watch another inning of All Star Game baseball that doesn’t feature a guy on the mound absolutely pumping 97 to 100 MPH.

Power arm after power arm last night trotted out and did their thing–and if you want to say Cliff Lee wasn’t throwing that hard–go ahead and notice that he got a bomb hit off him to allow the AL’s only run.

Prince Fielder hit the big majestic 3-run blast that salted the game away. The memorable plays I remember in the field were Hunter Pence’s assist at home plate that seemed to swing the momentum, along with Jordan Walden’s barehand play and Jose Bautista’s sliding catch against the right field wall.

But for nine innings, the display for all to see was the incredible arm that this league features. And the All Star Game was really a 9 inning sample of what we have going on all around baseball. Pitching is dominating everywhere you look and offense is down to 1992 levels for the second season in a row.

It’s neither good, bad or indifferent. It’s just how the game is today.

Click below for a few shots of the Reds.

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Game 37, 2011: Astros 4, Reds 3

[Box Score] [Cincinnati.com] [Crawfish Boxes]

The Reds finished off a road trip in which they went 4-2 yesterday with a loss to the Houston Astros. The Reds won’t go on a 9 out of 10 run this season to match last year’s pace at this time. When I went to leave work yesterday I forgot my glasses in my office, so when leaving around the 5:00 hour here in Ohio; Hunter Pence was at the plate and I had the game on the radio. When I returned to my car minutes later, the game was on commercial break. The mind of a baseball fan works quickly in those situations. So I knew that Mike Leake and the Reds either got out of the inning quickly, or the game was over. Considering that when I ran back up to my office Hunter Pence was at the plate with a man on base, and Mike Leake was on the bump rather than Francisco Cordero, I think I knew exactly what had happened before Marty Brenneman returned to the air to give the grim news to me. When he actually said it I grit my teeth for a minute, and it made rush hour that much more hard to bear. I immediately wanted to choke Mike Leake, that little worthless rat bastard.

My original hatred for the Astros stemmed long ago when they had guys on their team that could really hurt you. Guys like Biggio, Bagwell, Berkman, Oswalt, Pettite, Clemens, and so forth. I hated them more than I hate any other team in baseball. That hate still remains, and I hope they’re an after-thought forever. That said, it’s not as easy to hate them anymore because they really only have two guys that can hurt you on a regular basis now: Wandy Rodriguez, and Hunter Pence. Brett Wallace and Billy Hall don’t count. Both Wandy and Pence did their damage yesterday against the Reds.

Yesterday’s loss was an infliction from bad moves by the Reds manager, Dusty Baker. He did three things I didn’t like, that really set the Reds up for a loss on getaway day like he so often does.

I was surprised to see Jay Bruce get the start against Wandy Rodriguez. Bruce went out and did what I expected him to do yesterday, nothing. He went 1 for the series vs. the Astros with the one hit being a bomb. But I really thought that Dusty Baker sent a message in the wrong way when he decided to roll with Jay Bruce yesterday–but hit him 7th in the lineup. If you’re going to run Bruce out there against a guy who you know he doesn’t have good numbers against, display confidence in him. Protect him with someone in the lineup who might get him an extra fastball or two. In fact, do something out of the ordinary to get ordinary results against Wandy. Hit him 2nd. Hell, get really wild and hit him fourth. What does it matter? You’re just trying something anyways. But don’t hit him 7th, because that basically says without actually saying anything that you expect him to go out and go 0 for 4, which is exactly what happened. Bad lineups on getaway day often damn the Reds.

The second thing I had a problem with is seeing Johnny Gomes once again in left field. If you read this blog or my tweets enough, you know that I’ve seen enough of Johnny Gomes.

Here’s some stats for thought on Gomes via Lance Mcalister: Jonny Gomes hit 2 HR’s and drove in 6 runs in June 12 of last season to help the Reds beat the Kansas City Royals. After that game Gomes was hitting .307 with 9 HR and his 47 RBI tied him for the NL lead. Since that game: 125 games for Gomes, 495 plate appearances, 101 for 436 (.232), 15 HR, 46 RBI, 45 BB, 110 K, .295 OBP, .378 SLG, .673 OPS.

Chris Heisey was on the bench again, and later in the game he came off the bench to homer and cut the deficit to 3-2. I ask the question, why does Dusty get an annual hard-on for guys that help the Reds lose ballgames? Because he’s a player’s manager? Oh, it’s great for the players. But it’s rough on fans like me and you. In 2008, Corey Patterson was that guy. In 2009, Wily Taveras was that guy. Last year, I’m shocked that Gary Matthews Jr. wasn’t that guy. Now, it’s Johnny Gomes. Gomes starting over Heisey is a load of shit as far as I’m concerned, and I don’t care how great of a guy Johnny Gomes is or how much fun he is in the clubhouse. He’s killing the Reds, every at-bat and every night. A slow, painful death. And we’re going on a year now.

The third problem that I had was going with Mike Leake yesterday in the bottom of the 9th instead of Francisco Cordero. Why are the Reds forcing Mike Leake down our throat? Why can’t this guy spend some time attempting to develop in AAA Louisville? I don’t care that he was a first round pick. I don’t care if the organization likes his potential. What I see is a guy who lacks stuff. Especially stuff that allows you to survive in the 9th inning of a tie game on the road. That’s a situation where for as long as I’ve been watching baseball, you go to your closer. Dusty at least thought about it because Cordero was warming up before the inning. I’m sure he had some reason after the game that he went to Leake instead, and I don’t really care what it was. It was a bad reason. I have a feeling if Cordero was out there in the 9th, the Reds get one more chance to hit for the sweep.

I’ll be at the game tomorrow night, and of course today is an off day. I need the day to cool off I think.

Potpourri:

Found this post on FanGraphs as to why Aroldis Chapman is struggling:

It looks like [Chapman] is releasing his fastballs about six inches higher and closer to the center of the mound: so more over-the-top and less 3/4 delivery. Again this conclusion is hard to make without the actual release point, and because the Pitch F/x system is more noisy at the release-point end of the trajectory than the plate-location end. So I wanted to see if I could back it up with photographic support. It was hard to find pictures from the head-on angle, but it does look like he has a slightly more over-the-top delivery in 2011 than in 2010 and definitely more than in 2009 during the World Baseball Classic.

This suggests, though definitely not conclusively, that Chapman may have “lost” his release point. And it is possible that this “lost” release point plays a role in his huge walk rate.

Ugh.

Game 35, 2011: Reds 6, Astros 1

Travis Wood energized the Reds last night, scattering six hits in 6 and 2/3 shutout innings and hitting a 3 run homer to get the Reds on the board. He improved to 2-3 on the season. It was his night.

Now you see why the Reds might have chosen Wood to stay in the rotation and Mike Leake to head to the pen–even with Wood’s rough outings he endured a few times out recently, he’s still capable of going out there and blanking the other team for a better part of a ballgame. I’d venture to say that the organization feels more confident in his ability to do that than Leake. Plus he’s a southpaw.

The Reds starters are coming on strong, only allowing one run over their last 20 1/3 innings. Over the last six games, the starters are 4-0 with a 1.70 ERA.

Finally, we start to see a little bit of why this team was the favorite of so many to win the division and even the national league. They certainly have some pitching, they play good defense, and they have timely hitting.

Other offensive notables last night in Houston: Drew Stubbs had two hits and an RBI, Brandon Phillips had a couple of hits, Chris Valaika had two hits and two runs, Ryan Hanigan had three hits and a run, and Ramon Hernandez hit a two run bomb.

The lone Astros run came off a Hunter Pence home run that Jay Bruce nearly robbed from the seats. Pence also tripled.

These Reds–who I said weren’t capable of going on the same 9 out of 10 run that they pulled off at this time last year–have suddenly won 4 of 5 and have two more against the Astros in Houston before playing the Cardinals this weekend in Cincinnati.

Maybe I’m not patient or faithful enough with this group. Maybe over the course of a big league season it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that one game is just one game. Maybe that’s how it is when you live and die on every strike. It’s a roller coaster.

[Box Score] [Cincinnati.com]