Tag Archives: Matt Cain

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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Matt Cain finally pitches like Matt Cain

Matt Cain might be finally getting on track

Matt Cain has had a rough season so far.  Before today he was sporting a 5.09 ERA and was only 4-3.  It seemed like Matt Cain was underrated for a while and he just went out and worked innings for the Giants.  One year ago he threw a perfect game against the Houston Astros.  Today he may have righted his season by throwing another gem- though a shorter one.  Cain went 6.2 innings while only allowing 2 hits and striking out 3.  This isn’t close to a perfect game, it wouldn’t even be mentioned in the great pitching performances of the season.  But for Cain, and how his season is going, it means a lot.  I’ve been a fan of Cain and if the Giants want to compete he is going to have to perform more like this the rest of the season.

San Francisco Giants 2013 Team Preview

giantstitle

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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Slaying the Giant Once and For All

Cincinnati: All the scores I’ll never settle, all the debts I can’t repay, all my ghosts await me here.

This post was supposed to be about my team and maybe your team and how they were choking it all away. It was supposed to be about how tomorrow I would go into work depressed and worried. And then slumber home to my couch to see the Reds squander away things in historic fashion.

Instead, I’m getting up tomorrow and using the power of my mind to focus on positive thought. The sun will rise tomorrow, and I believe it will shine just a little bit brighter upon the Reds. And I hope this post, more than any I’ve written before brings positive karma from all things and to all things surrounding the Cincinnati Reds.

What works out to be a legacy game for Dusty Baker in a Reds uniform also will work it’s way into the connected career vines of the names that dot this roster. Legacies will gain some of their definition tomorrow. That’s a certainty. And that’s why I have to say I was there at game five in 2012. That’s why I have to see it with my own eyes. It might be to say goodbye and it might be to celebrate it. But I have to finish what I started back on what ended up the most magical Opening Day in Cincinnati that I’ve ever been a part of. I have to see this thing through. It’s the only way.

Too many times in my life I’ve just talked myself out of going for it. I’m going for it tomorrow. Even if it’s by myself. I’ll be in the stands. And I’ll be rooting with everything I have inside me for Dusty and the boys. Because I do love them. Because they are family.

Tomorrow morning I’ll set foot down in the Queen City, and I’ll try to summon the ghosts of many nights and many friends gone by. And I’ll try and reflect on all the intrinsic value that is in that town for me surrounding that team dating back to when I was just a kid listening to 700 while I fell asleep at night. I’ve been waiting for tomorrow since I was just a little kid with so many big dreams.

Cain. Latos. For all the marbles. One last time. Someone draws their last breath. On an October 11th day in 2012 at 1300 hours, someone’s fate gets decided forever. I want to say I was part of it, regardless of how the end of the chapter will read.

Unchartered Territory: Reds win NLDS Game Two, Take 2-0 Series Lead

[NLDS Game Two Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com]

The Cincinnati Reds are locked in.

That was as good as you can see Bronson Arroyo look. It was his crowning moment in his Reds career. Maybe except for this commercial that I caught last night shortly after Cincinnati grabbed a 1-0 lead on Ryan Ludwick’s solo home run:

The Reds continued to play sound defense and add-on in the top frames until the game was through.

As we sit here on the eve of only the second postseason baseball game in Cincinnati in 17+ years, I hope the Reds realize they haven’t won anything yet. I hope they realize that the journey is still long. Two wins out West is very special, and it’s the hallmark of a team that means business. But the Giants could easily come back and win this series. This was just the first two dominoes that needed to fall in order to do something in this postseason. If the Reds come out flat tomorrow night, things can snowball in a hurry and this can quickly become the worst dogfight they’ve ever been involved in.

If you want my opinion, the Reds get the match-up they need tomorrow night. I don’t want them to face Matt Cain again. And I still think they’re damn lucky to have had such an easy time with Madison Bumgarner (though I’ll say it’s a misconception that I fall victim to in thinking that this roster of Reds struggles against LHP).

Tomorrow around dinner time, the Reds will face Ryan Vogelsong. He’s a good, solid big league starter. But he’s the kind of righty that the Reds should want to advance against in that park. He’s not Matt Cain, and he’s not Bumgarner.

Go ahead and move on in front of your fans on Tuesday night boys, and let the Cardinals and Nationals slug things out for a few more days. I have to admit, I want the Reds to just keep playing at this point. The worst thing that could happen was to give them a day off and a day to even think about what they’re doing. They’re going so good right now that you just hope they can get back out there on a diamond as soon as possible and keep rolling.

Part of how this team has already been able to do what they’re doing is I don’t even think they realize fully what they’re doing. They’re like a fearless teenager who takes a lot of risks because they don’t know how fragile life is at that age; the Reds still don’t grasp how delicate every single moment is in this postseason. And that allows them to be dangerous in this situation.

Tomorrow I’ll come home from work. I’ll slip on the #32 Bruce jersey (he got another big knock last night). I’ll hopefully see my team advance to the NLCS, making the vision I had back in 2010 the night we were eliminated from the NLDS a reality. To this point, I could not be more proud of how they’ve performed. I can’t even believe this is really happening.

Cincinnati Reds win their first postseason game in 17 years

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [ESPN SweetSpot] [HardballTalk] [Lance Mcalister] [The Splash] [Giants Extra]

Someone pinch me, I’m dreaming.

Did my team really just beat Matt Cain on the road out west after losing Johnny Cueto (the ace of the staff) after he recorded just one out? I have to be dreaming. This has happened to me a million times. I wake up, and it all goes away. After all, it has been 6,210 days since the Reds franchise won a postseason game (1995 against the Dodgers for those wondering).

Brandon Phillips was balling out of his mind last night. He got scoring started with a two-run home run to left field. He made a few barehand plays. He made an unreal back up play over at first base on a bunt single that kept the runner on first. He singled home an insurance run. Thank you for playing this way DatDude.

Jay Bruce continued his postseason hitting success.

Matt Cain was cruising through the first four hitters in the Reds lineup when Bruce doubled down the right field line for the Reds first hit. There would be no perfect game in this one against the Reds.

And then there was Bruce’s home run into a spot of AT&T Park where home runs aren’t typically hit:

Not sure I’ve ever gone more nuts when a couple of home runs left the yard than when I did for Phillips and Bruce going deep.

There were just so many efforts that contributed to this game. There was no one story. It was a gritty team effort comprised of Bruce, Phillips, Mat Latos, Sam LeCure (getting five outs as a pinch-hit reliever), and the Reds bullpen working out of tight spots late in the game that had me holding my breath.

The first domino has fallen, and the Reds need just ten more wins to claim a World Series title and six more to reach the fall classic. Last night was another memorable, improbable, and high-character moment from a team that has already provided a full season’s worth of them.

The Bull We Didn’t Want to Draw

Let it be said, let it be written. The Reds path with destiny will go through San Francisco.

Before the season began, I had a premonition that the Reds would make the NLCS. Early in the season, I had the Reds losing to an NL West team (Giants or Dodgers, and I eventually decided on the Giants) in the NLCS. Today I sat in my office and I thought long and hard about how my premonition was almost correct but won’t quite be able to jive.

As much as I didn’t want to see the Reds head out west to play a couple against the likes of Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, there’s no other way. And in a weird and twisted way, this was part of the destiny all along.

This is; in my opinion; Dusty Baker’s final ride. This is Dusty Baker riding the bad bull that broke his face Tuff Hedeman-style one last time. Dusty gets a final crack at the team he gained so much fame with. A team that he was a game away from winning a World Series with. Maybe my intuitions I felt so strongly about weren’t that far from being correct, they were just a bit tweaked.

If the Reds are going to win a World Series, they’re going to have to face and conquer their fears. They’ll need to be better than the best the big leagues have to offer, and for a couple week period. I’ve been thinking about that for the last several weeks.

Whether it’s going to be the Cardinals, or a West Coast trip; there is no backing your way into a World Series. There are no easy match-ups right now (though I think the Reds would have taken Atlanta out behind the woodshed). The only way out, is going directly through it all.

We’ll have more on this series in a full preview edition before Saturday night’s game. For now, just enjoy the oldie.

How I Showed Up To The All Star Game Last Minute And Scored a “Cheap” Ticket From Matt Cain’s Agent

The following was written by David Franco over at Next Level Ballplayer. David is a former teammate of mine and is nice enough to write for Diamond Hoggers from time to time. You can follow him on twitter here. The following is an excerpt from his adventures of getting into the All Star Game and watching the game with Matt Cain’s agent. The full story is at MLBeef.

3:55pm-ish:  It’s now officially decided that I’m getting dropped off at Kauffman.  Now starts probably the most ridiculous part of the evening…  The drop-off.

The drop-off scenario is kind of tricky when the car you’re in doesn’t want to park in the stadium.  The goal becomes to get as close to the stadium as possible without getting into a point of no return.  Luckily time is on our side, with 3 hours until first pitch.  The road that you turn off to head into the stadium has no stopped traffic.  There are plenty of cars on the road, but traffic is moving.

We are driving down the street with the stadium on our left, approaching the left turn that we would take into the parking lot if we were planning on parking.

Me: Just pull off on the right side of the road up here and I’ll walk.  This is as close as we’re going to get… right here is good…  right where those two cars just pulled off…

M-in-Law zooms past my desired drop off.

M-in-Law:  I want to get you closer than that.

It’s too late to argue. Now our lane now looks like we’re about to get back on the freeway if we continue straight.

Wife:  Mom, you gotta make a U-Turn here!

M-in-Law:  I can’t!

Wife:  Yes you can!!

M-In-Law and Wife as the car is making a fast-and-furious-type U-turn that may or may not have been legal: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

We aren’t close to hitting any other cars, but both of them are literally screaming until we are straight again… I consider opening my door and jumping out.

Me: Okay, just pull over and let me out here… Don’t turn right up there into the stadium… Once you go in, you won’t be able to get back out… Seriously, you don’t want to turn in here…  Don’t go in here!

M-In-Law (As if I had specifically asked her to turn into the stadium):  I’ll just pull in and then turn around.

Me:  There’s no turn around!  All lanes are one way coming into the stadium!

She turns in.

Now we’re in those 50 yards of road before cars have to pay for parking.  She goes down half way and stops.  I can’t get out of the car soon enough.  I want to explain why this was such a horrible decision, but it’s no use now.  I say goodbye and close my door with absolutely no idea how they are going to get out.

I feel like a middle school kid whose mom drops him off at the movie theater to meet his friends, only she pulls down the wrong way of the one-way drop off lane, then hops two wheels up on the curve as she comes to a stop.  All the while, she stops traffic and causes a scene… I’m debating whether I’d rather be that middle school kid… back to the moment.

Other people are watching now.  There are six lanes, all with sporadic cars coming in each.  The first attempt to turn around results in a horn honk from a car and a my M-in-Law slamming on her breaks.  Then she gets across 2 lanes and has to stop horizontal to let a few cars in Lane 3 get by. Meanwhile she’s holding up cars in Lane 1 and 2…

I feel like turning away and never looking back, but I can’t help but watch.  She almost side swipes someone in Lane 5 before getting to the empty Lane 6 which she must have assumed was her safe lane out… wrong.  As she’s picking up speed and coming up to the street, a Ford truck turns in, both hit their breaks, and then they come to a full stop facing each other.

4:15pm:  At this point I’ve seen enough.  I can’t stinking watch any more of this.  I turn towards the stadium, take a deep breath.  Not sure where to go, so I just start walking.

4:17pm:  I’m wearing a Miami of Ohio baseball hat.  Practically the first tailgate I walk by has Miami of Ohio corn hole boards set up.

4:22pm:  Sipping on a silver bullet and eating baseball-shaped cookies with my new best friends who (like me) graduated from Miami.  The fact that I’d never met them before had no bearing on their hospitality… The “drop-off catastrophe” is a distant memory.

4:27pm: PrimeTime calls.

PrimeTime: Hey dude. I have good news and bad news. Good news is that I found you a ticket. Bad news is that it’s $270 (Matt knows that’s a lot of money to me).

Me: Cool man. Where are the seats?

PrimeTime: Actually you’d be sitting with Matt Cain’s agent (yes the Matt Cain who was the starting pitcher for the National League All Star Team) in the Field Box section.  I don’t know where they exactly are, but I’m sure their good.

Me: So the $270 is face value?

PrimeTime: Yep.

I think about it for a second, but at the end of the day there is no way I’m saying no to this deal. A last minute Field Box ticket for face value from the agent for the NL’s starting pitcher tonight…  Seems too good to be true.  I call Landon Williams (Matt Cain’s agent) and he answers.  This is really happening.  In less than 20 minutes after being dropped off I have a ticket locked up and am good to go.

4:41pm:  Landon is on his way to the stadium from his hotel. I have some time to kill and want to check things out. I say goodbye to my Miami friends and head towards the fan fun area.

4:46pm:  I see a “Hit a Homerun for the Troops” deal where they have five batting tees set up and for every wiffle ball you hit over the fence they donate a buck to a charity. I notice that a few older kids are hitting and feel that it’s safe for my 29 year-old self to take a few hacks.  Plus the line is short.

Now by the time I get to the front of the line the average age of the five kids hitting on the tees can’t be more than 10.  I look behind me and notice that I’m about twice the size of everyone else waiting to hit.  It’s like I’ve found myself at Disneyland in a line to hug Daffy Duck.  The kid right behind me makes it worse when he taps me on the mid back (about as high as he could reach) to ask, “Are you in line?”

What a punk.  Calm down little man.  Yes I’m in line…  I’m feeling awkward.

The lady calls me up to tee #2 and I promptly hit my first ball for a home run. I don’t even feel good about it. Check out the kid on the tee behind me in the video.  That’s what I was surrounded by.  And worst of all, I was flying solo.  At least if I was with a buddy, we could wager $5 on whoever could hit the most homers.  If needed, the tiebreaker could be that each of us randomly picks an unknowing kid to compete in the homer off (I’ve thought through this too much).  Anyways, I line out and ground out to end my three swings and quickly move on… I definitely should have left $2 to make up for my last two lame swings.  I feel like I’ve personally let down the troops.

5:07pm:  I make my way to the front of the stadium and Landon calls.  He just parked and is on his way.  He’ll call me when he gets to the stadium.  When I hang up I look down and notice that my phone battery is blinking.  Crap.  I quickly write down Landon’s phone number just in case and pray that my phone holds on long enough to meet up and get my ticket.

5:15pm: Landon calls.

Me: Hey man… hello… hello?

Phone is dead. Not good timing.  Never met Landon before in my life and have no idea what he looks like.  On top of that I don’t want to keep Matt Cain’s agent on a wild goose chase trying to find some random guy who wants a ticket.  After all I’ve been through to get to this point, is this seriously going to happen now?!?!  I’m kind of panicking.

I need to borrow a phone.  In this day and age that shouldn’t be hard right?

Wrong.

Continue and read the full story at MLBeef

Matt Cain fires a perfect game

Not to be outdone by a knuckle baller or a rookie (Lance Lynn), Matt Cain cemented himself forever amongst the game’s giants.

Cain fired baseball’s 22nd perfect game in history last night in a 10-0 Giants victory against the Houston Astros. You had to figure coming into the year that if anyone was going to get perfect game’d, the Astros were as prime of a candidate as anyone.

Cain is right about where we thought he would be. He’s always had dominant, heavy stuff. He’s San Francisco’s best pitcher this season and there isn’t really a close second.

It was the second perfect-game this season, and since I’ve had this blog in operation there’s actually now been five.

Game 17, 2012: This is the Mat Latos We Were Searching For

[Box Score]

[Cincinnati.com] [Bay City Ball] [Mercury News] [The Splash]

Now this is the Mat Latos we traded for.

If the Reds get this Latos to show up more often than not this season, it’s pretty self-explanatory what’s going to happen. The Reds can be a monster.

I didn’t think the Reds had a chance in Hell last night when I saw Matt Cain was pitching.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/DiamondHoggers/status/194804991859499009″]

But I was wrong. I felt like the Reds had three key at-bats in the bottom of the first-inning that were game altering. Zach Cozart opened the game up with a 10-pitch showdown against Cain, and although he flew out to short; the Reds had opened up Cain for head shots with a few nice early body blows from their lead-off hitter. I’ll say it again, these are the type of at-bats that win you ballgames at the onset.

Drew Stubbs doubled, and after Joey Votto struck out Brandon Phillips had another battling type at-bat that resulted in a two-run home run. The Reds were off to the races and a bonus came later in the inning because Jay Bruce and Scott Rolen got Matt Cain to throw even more pitches.

It’s impossible to get these professional at-bats game in and game out. But picked a good pitcher to do this against. You don’t need these kind of at-bats to beat the Barry Zito’s of the world or the Randy Wells’. Matt Cain doesn’t make that first inning mistake to Phillips that landed in the Cincinnati bullpen unless you grind on him like the Reds did. Notice that he settled in and was basically unscathed for the rest of his outing.

The Reds great perseverance in their at-bats also still called for a couple of big pitches by Mat Latos. With the bases juiced, he lured the red-hot Nate Schierholtz to ground out with the bases loaded. That opened the door for the Reds to shoot up the San Francisco Giants like the Alamo.

Great start to a homestand.

Highlights:

Bark in the Park last night in Cincinnati – (Sorry we didn’t make it this time, Bentley)

Phillips two-run home run

Bruce bases-loaded double

Retaliation for Votto being plunked?

Latos’ strong outing

San Francisco Giants 2011 Season Preview

Leading up to the start of the 2011 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of MLB’s 30 teams . Today’s preview features the San Francisco Giants. Stay tuned as Diamond Hoggers previews every team division by division until the start of the regular season. Continue reading