Results tagged ‘ Giants ’

Berth in Cooperstown eludes Vida Blue

Monday, Dec. 6

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — For certain periods throughout his 17-year Major League career, Vida Blue looked like a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate. But Blue’s overall performance failed to impress enough members of the HOF’s Expansion Era committee, who bypassed him for enshrinement.

Pat Gillick, the highly successful general manager with Toronto, Baltimore, Seattle and Philadelphia, was the only one of the 12 candidates to receive the necessary 12 votes from the 16-member committee to gain election.

Any Giants fan who watched Blue pitch in 1978 might have considered the left-hander bound for Cooperstown. He led that year’s revival of the Giants, who contended for most of the season and finished 89-73 after four consecutive sub-.500 seasons, by finishing 18-10 with a 2.79 ERA. That was Blue’s first of six seasons (in two stints) with the Giants, who sent Oakland seven players and $300,000 to obtain him. The cost was well worth it.

Blue’s career totals were 209-161 with a 3.27 ERA and 37 shutouts. He met or came close to meeting plenty of Hall of Fame standards, but ultimately not enough of them. It matters little to longtime Giants fans, most of whom still regard Blue as a favorite.

– Chris Haft  

Ups, downs of signing Tejada

Tuesday, Nov. 30

Looking strictly at intangibles, the Giants couldn’t have signed a better replacement for Juan Uribe than Miguel Tejada.

Tejada is renowned for his effervescent attitude. He’s said to be ceaselessly positive — which must be genuine, considering all those years he spent playing for the downtrodden Orioles after repeatedly experiencing the postseason rush with the A’s. He’ll fit nicely with the Giants. They’ll miss Uribe — the White Sox did after he left that club — but they’ll adjust.

If I were a member of the Giants’ front office, I’d be more concerned with Tejada’s 74-point drop in slugging percentage from 2009 to this year’s .381. Having spent 14 years in the big leagues at age 36, Tejada’s unlikely to rebound. This increases the importance of Pablo Sandoval’s return to form and Brandon Belt’s ability to contribute. They can do much to compensate for the loss of Uribe’s 24 home runs and 85 RBIs. Because it’s doubtful that Tejada can accomplish this on his own. 

Yet don’t blame the Giants for balking at giving Uribe the same three-year deal that he received from L.A. If he stays healthy and productive for the duration of the contract, I’ll be pleasantly surprised. As spry as he was, he performed through numerous aches and pains with the Giants. Such nagging injuries often become worse as players grow older.

Uribe’s a heck of a clutch performer, as he proved constantly for San Francisco throughout the regular-season and postseason. That’s what the Giants might miss most from him in the long run. Let’s see how many big opportunities he receives as a Dodger.

– Chris Haft 

 

 

40-man roster housekeeping

Wednesday, Nov. 17 (technical difficulties prevented me from posting this until Thursday morning — apologies!)

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants performed some roster management Wednesday, adding shortstop Ehire Adrianza and outfielder Thomas Neal to the 40-man roster.

San Francisco actually has 35 players on its roster, leaving plenty of room for adding a free agent or two. Juan Uribe and Aubrey Huff, are you listening?

Adrianza, who has more range than a satellite dish, was named the high-Class A California League’s top defensive shortstop this season. He also provided speed for league champion San Jose by ranking fourth in the league with 33 steals. But Adrianza’s .256 batting average did nothing to silence the skeptics who doubt that he’ll ever hit enough to establish himself in the Major Leagues.

Promoted to Double-A Richmond, Neal didn’t match his prodigious 2009 output with San Jose (.337, 22 home runs, 90 RBIs), though he still hit a respectable .291 with 40 doubles, 12 homers and 69 RBIs. Both Neal, 23, and Adrianza, 21, gained exposure as non-roster invitees to Spring Training last year.

Here’s San Francisco’s current 40-man roster:

Pitchers (16) — Jeremy Affeldt, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Santiago Casilla, Alex Hinshaw, Waldis Joaquin, Tim Lincecum, Javier Lopez, Ramon Ramirez, Chris Ray, Sergio Romo, Dan Runzler, Jonathan Sanchez, Henry Sosa, Brian Wilson, Barry Zito.

Catchers (2) — Buster Posey, Eli Whiteside.

Infielders (9) — Ehire Adrianza, Emmanuel Burriss, Mike Fontenot, Conor Gillaspie, Travis Ishikawa, Brett Pill, Ryan Rohlinger, Freddy Sanchez, Pablo Sandoval.

Outfielders (8) — Mark DeRosa, Darren Ford, Thomas Neal, Francisco Peguero, Cody Ross, Aaron Rowand, Nate Schierholtz, Andres Torres.

– Chris Haft

Uggla to SF? Stranger things have happened

Thursday, Nov. 11

SAN FRANCISCO — Let the Dan Uggla-to-the-Giants rumors resume.

Maybe such talk is premature or even foolish, given Uggla’s stated desire to remain with the Florida Marlins despite the club’s apparent shutdown of talks regarding a contract extension.

And if the Giants didn’t part with Madison Bumgarner or Jonathan Sanchez for Uggla when they previously had a chance, as was rumored, they won’t do so now. Not with Bumgarner and Sanchez having thrived in the second half and through most of the postseason for the World Series winners.

But if Uggla, who’s eligible for salary arbitration, begins the 2011 season with the Marlins, they’ll almost have no choice but to trade him if the team falls out of contention by July. That might be the best time for the Giants to pounce, since the “price” on Uggla could be deflated somewhat by his impending free agency following next season.

Here’s another thing: While speaking with Florida-area reporters on Thursday after winning the Silver Slugger, Ugga professed his undying love for Miami and its enrivons. He also mentioned the joy he felt after his dear friend, Marlins-turned-Giants outfielder Cody Ross, won the World Series with San Francisco.

It’s safe to assume that Ross has to’d Uggla, who’s probably play third with the Giants, about the joys of performing for a successful team. Even if Uggla’s productivity dropped — another safe assumption, considering he’d be playing half of his games at AT&T Park — he’d boost the offense considerably.

Keep an eye on this one.

– Chris Haft

 

Another award for Lincecum; Series lingers in skull

Wednesday, Nov. 10

Tim Lincecum picked up another honor from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, though it wasn’t the Cy Young Award.

Lincecum was elected winner of the Babe Ruth Award as Most Valuable Player of this year’s postseason by the BBWAA’S New York chapter, which is far and away the organization’s most august contingent.

Lincecum posted a 4-1 record with a 2.43 ERA in six postseason appearances (five starts). In 37 innings, Lincecum walked nine and struck out 43.

The right-hander bookended the Giants’ surge to their World Series triumph with impressive outings. On Oct. 7, he opened the Division Series with a breathtaking two-hit, one-walk, 14-strikeout effort in San Francisco’s 1-0 victory over Atlanta. Lincecum concluded his postseason excellence, as well as the team’s,  by pitching eight innings while allowing one run, three hits, walking two and striking out 10 in the Giants’ 3-1 World Series-clinching win at Texas on Nov. 1.

Lincecum, who won the BBWAA’s National League Cy Young Award in each of the previous two years, compiled a 20-11 record, with the postseason added to his regular-season performance.

As fabulous as Lincecum was, the New Yorkers could have selected two other Giants pitchers and nobody would have complained. Matt Cain allowed one unearned run in 21 1/3 innings spanning three starts. Brian Wilson also yielded only an unearned run in 10 appearances while converting six of seven save opportunities and striking out 16 in 11 2/3 innings.

*****

Calling all shrinks! Calling all shrinks!

Every morning since the Giants won it all, I’ve awakened from some sort of World Series-related dream. Today made it nine days in a row.

These subconscious dramas run the gamut from the Series still being in progress to the Giants encountering pitching shortages. As much as I enjoyed covering the Series, I’d like to be free from it for a little while. Something inside of me just won’t let it go. I’m hoping that any day now I’ll rise after imagining that I’m the night watchman at the Playboy Mansion or just finished wandering naked through Union Square or something normal like that.

– Chris Haft

Tim Lincecum, 20-game winner

Wednesday, Nov. 3/Thursday, Nov. 4

SAN FRANCISCO — Tim Lincecum was a 20-game winner this year. Though he didn’t reach that number in the traditional sense, every victory helped.

When I mentioned his 20-game milestone to him Wednesday, he said self-deprecatingly, “I had 40 chances at it.”

Well, not quite, but close. Lincecum was 16-10 in 33 regular-season starts and 4-1 in five postseason outings.

He wasn’t a 20-game winner in the true sense of the phrase. But every victory counted — especially the last nine, given the tightness of the National League West race and the must-win atmosphere of the postseason.

“Having the opportunity and the chance to pitch in postseason makes everything that much more sweet,” Lincecum said.

*****

Aubrey Huff’s seventh-inning bunt in Game 5 of the World Series that advanced Cody Ross and Juan Uribe was an anomaly. It was Huff’s only sacrifice bunt in Major League competition and his first since 2000, when he played for Triple-A Durham in Tampa Bay’s system.

Though Huff must have discussed his bunt after the Series clincher, I wasn’t sharp enough (nor have I had enough time) to find an article that included his side of the story. So I coaxed this brief but suitable explanation from him Wednesday.

“It [the bunt sign] was given to me, but I was doing it anyway,” he said. That is, he fully intended to give himself up for the team.

Though Edgar Renteria’s homer rendered Huff’s bunt moot, there was no doubt that the sacrifice accelerated the Giants’ momentum. It left you KNOWING that the Giants would score in that inning.

Huff said that he might have had trouble pushing the bunt to third base. But directing it toward first, as he did, was no problem. “I do that bunt pretty good in batting practice,” he said.

*****

The wait to cram yourself inside a Dugout Store to buy World Series merchandise approaches three hours at times. Too late now, but do you know when was the best time to shop? Right before Wednesday’s parade began! Less than an hour prior to the scheduled start, there was no wait to get inside the main store at AT&T Park, though the checkout lines stretched deep.

– Chris Haft

Believe it: The Giants won the World Series

Monday, Nov. 1/Tuesday, Nov. 2

ARLINGTON — Because the Giants hadn’t won a World Series in 56 years, including their entire tenure in San Francisco, their conquest of the Texas Rangers in the 106th Fall Classic meant a lot to many people.

It fulfilled dreams that had been conjured by Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Ruben Gomez, Johnny Antonelli, Willie McCovey, Mike McCormick, Juan Marichal, Jack Sanford, Alvin Dark, Billy Pierce, the Alou brothers, Billy O’Dell, Jim Davenport, Gaylord Perry, Herman Franks, Bob Bolin, Jim Ray Hart, Bobby Bonds, Ken Henderson, Dick Dietz, Charlie Fox, Chris Speier, Tito Fuentes, Dave Kingman, Jim Barr, Gary Matthews, Garry Maddox, John D’Acquisto, Pete Falcone, Bobby Murcer, John Montefusco, Ed Halicki, Joe Altobelli, Bill Madlock, Darrell Evans, Jack Clark, Johnnie LeMaster, Greg Minton, Gary Lavelle, Randy Moffitt, Larry Herndon, Bob Knepper, Vida Blue, Mike Ivie, Joe Morgan, Dan Gladden, Frank Robinson, Atlee Hammaker, Chili Davis, Bill Laskey, Jeffrey Leonard, Bob Brenly, Roger Craig, Will Clark, Kevin Mitchell, Matt Williams, Robby Thompson, Brett Butler, Willie McGee, Dusty Baker, Barry Bonds, Jeff Brantley, Rod Beck, J.T. Snow, Rich Aurilia, Jeff Kent, Robb Nen, David Bell, Benito Santiago, Jason Schmidt, Shawn Estes, Ray Durham, Kirk Rueter, Moises Alou, Mike Matheny, Randy Winn, Dave Roberts, Kevin Frandsen, Aaron Rowand, Fred Lewis, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Tim Lincecum, Edgar Renteria, Pablo Sandoval, Brian Wilson, Mark DeRosa, Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey.

Not to mention Andre Rodgers, Willie Kirkland, Leon Wagner, Hal Lanier, Cap Peterson, John Pregenzer, Ray Sadecki, Ron Herbel, Bob Burda, Don Mason, Don Carrithers, Jim Willoughby, Steve Ontiveros, Bruce Miller, Joe Strain, Gary Alexander, John Curtis, Allen Ripley, Phil Nastu, Joel Youngblood, Tom O’Malley, Al Holland, Fred Breining, Crazy Crab (Ha! Just wanted to see if you were paying attention), Scott Garrelts, Todd Benzinger, Mark Carreon, Mark Leiter, William VanLandingham, Mark Gardner, Osvaldo Fernandez, Stan Javier, Marvin Benard, Andres Galarraga, Jason Minor, Jim Brower, Matt Herges, Brett Tomko, Scott Eyre, Dan Ortmeier, Jason Ellison, Eliezer Alfonzo, Kevin Correia, Brad Hennessey, Tyler Walker, Eli Whiteside, Jack Taschner, Rajai Davis, Nate Schierholtz, John Bowker, Sergio Romo, Freddy Sanchez, Juan Uribe and Cody Ross.

All brought to you by Russ and Lon, Al Michaels, Hank Greenwald, Ron Fairly, Ted Robinson, Kruk & Kuip, Dave Flemming and Jon Miller.

Who did I leave out?

This is a triumph for Giants fans of all ages and locales. You’ve expressed yourselves from across the globe. It’s fascinating to know that Giants fans exist in far-flung places such as Africa, France and Egypt, besides all 50 states.

Now’s the time to salute the 2010 Giants for bringing San Francisco its first World Series triumph. But save some applause for yourselves. You, the fan, deserve credit for hanging in there (that was the unfortunate 1983 ad campaign slogan, remember?) through all these years.

If you’re at or around retirement age, you remember the end of the 1959 season, including the ill-fated day/night doubleheader against the Dodgers and George Altman’s game-winning homer at Chicago. This is for your enduring more than a half-century of heartache.

This is for those who accepted Candlestick Park when it opened in 1960 — and afterward.

This is for the fans who survived that roller-coaster ride of a 1962 season. But how exciting it must have been!

This is for those of you who stuck with the team through the Cepeda-Sadecki trade. How dismayed you must have felt!

This is for anybody who put up with those five consecutive second-place finishes from 1965 through 1969.

This is for those who endured the declines of Mays, McCovey and Marichal and withstood the shock when they were traded. Traded. My God, I don’t care how old he was, how little he had left in the tank or how much money he was owed. How can you trade Willie Mays?

This is for those who managed to derive enjoyment from the rest of the 1970s. The 1973 season was promising and the 1978 season was rousing. Otherwise …

This is for the fans who wondered what the heck they were going to do with themselves during the 1981 work stoppage.

This is for you optimists whose hopes soared with the 1982 season — and whose hopes were shattered by the following three years.

This is for those of you whose faith was restored by Al Rosen, Roger Craig, Will Clark and Robby Thompson.

This is for anybody who experienced pure, unadulterated euphoria when the 1987 team ended a 16-year postseason drought — and whose souls were crushed by Jose Bleepin’ Oquendo.

This is for those who never gave up when it looked like the team was moving to Toronto (1976), Denver (1986) and, worst of all, Tampa Bay (1992).

This is for all of you who never budged from your seat at Candlestick or AT&T or in front of the television when Barry Bonds came to bat.

This is for those who felt glory was imminent in 1993 and dealt with the deep disappointment afterward.

This is for those who maintained hope from 1994-96, and who received their reward in 1997 — which seems to remain general manager Brian Sabean’s favorite year.

This is for the thousands who kept coming back for more during the 1997-2004 renaissance.

This is for you folks who felt, even though it was such an inadequate, unpleasant place, you just had to go to the last game at Candlestick.

This is for the many who stuck it out through Bonds’ waning days from 2005-07 and the transition that had begun.

This is for those whose inner pilot light was re-lit the instant Tim Lincecum took the mound for the first time. He brought so much hope, didn’t he?

This is for the attentive ones who knew that 2009 was a harbinger of bigger and better things.

This is for those of you who yelled, screamed, cheered and came to the park so often this year. J.T. Snow called you the “Candlestick people.” And this is for anyone who realizes that’s a compliment.

Most of all, this World Series is for you tough yet sensitive, hardy yet idealistic souls who NEVER, EVER gave up — not even when your biggest heroes grew old or were traded, not when your favorite team looked like it was going to leave, not when you wondered whether the Giants would ever win it all.

You knew it was worth it no matter what. Just being a Giants fan was enough. You saw Marichal’s kick, Will Clark’s swing, Bonds’ Splash Hits and Mays’ magic.

Now that the Giants are World Champions — no, this isn’t a dream — make sure to savor it.

– Chris Haft

Thoughts preceding World Series Game1

Wednesday, Oct. 27

If you listen to the experts, there’s no way the Giants should win the World Series.

My employers, MLB.com, polled 15 writers or analysts; nine picked the Texas Rangers to win the Fall Classic. The disparity was much greater over at ESPN. Of the 28 wise people they surveyed, 22 predicted that the next champagne-and-beer shower will occur in Texas’ clubhouse.

It makes sense. Texas appears to play better defense, certainly possesses more speed and has more offensive thump.

But, as right-hander Matt Cain said, “If that’s what they’re writing, I guess we’ll have to change it.”

Moreover, the Giants have two equalizers: Their pitching and their pluck.

The American League boasts some strong pitching staffs — Minnesota, Boston and Tampa Bay are all above average. But when the Giants’ hurlers, particularly the starters, are on their game, they’re downright dominant.

Don’t be surprised if Tim Lincecum delivers a performance tonight that approaches his two-hit, one-walk, 14-strikeout gem against Atlanta in Game 1 of the Division Series. I doubt that the Rangers have seen many pitchers like him, and pitches like his, in the American League.

Then there’s the matter of the Giants’ attitude. General manager Brian Sabean said after the Game 6 NLCS clincher at Philadelphia that this team might not always hit or pitch more effectively than its opponents, but it competes far better than most.

That resolve and spirit are what made the difference for the Giants down the stretch as they outlasted the Padres and Rockies. Their resolute approach has remained intact during the postseason, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t continue against the Rangers.

Finally, some personal observations: People keep reminding me to enjoy this experience, to savor it. I’m trying my best, though deadlines and commitments (thank you, Bob Seger) make it difficult to share the fans’ excitement and stop to smell the hot dogs all the time.

So today, as I approached AT&T Park, I took special care to appreciate as much as I could. I was amazed as I turned onto Third Street how many people were already surrounding the ballyard, though the first pitch was more than four hours away. I marveled at the boats beginning to fill McCovey Cove as I strolled across the Lefty O’Doul bridge. And I drank in the shouts of the vendors and the buzz of the fans, just as I did during my “formative baseball years” while attending games at Candlestick Park.

I don’t think I’ve ever sensed as much energy at a baseball venue as I did this afternoon. Anticipation is a wonderful tonic.

As I’m sure you’ll all agree, Play Ball!

– Chris Haft

Giants think of you, praise Bumgarner

ATLANTA — In case you’re wondering, the Giants hope you had fun celebrating their Division Series victory.

As long as you remained somewhat responsible.

“I hope it’s a chaos-fest on every single street you can possibly think of,” closer Brian Wilson said. “Within reason.”

Left fielder Pat Burrell sounded ready to join the party.

“The city’s been waiting a long time for something like this,” he said. “We can’t wait to get home.”

It’s worth wondering what kind of long-term effect the Giants’ success will have on the Bay Area sports landscape. After all, none of the professional teams except for the San Jose Sharks has thrived recently.

If you believe that a rising tide lifts all boats, then the Giants’ impact will be minimal, since the 49ers and Raiders are a joke and the Warriors probably will struggle to make the playoffs — though they have a loyal, rabid fan base that keeps coming back for more no matter what.

At the very least, the Giants have bolstered their already solid presence among the area’s baseball fans and, more importantly, are likely creating new fans with each postseason win.

*****

There’s no underestimating Madison Bumgarner’s toughness, poise, maturity, grace under pressure or whatever you want to call it. In short, the 21-year-old is no ordinary rookie.

Pitching on 10 days of rest before a hostile, howling Turner Field crowd, Bumgarner recorded one of San Francisco’s biggest victories of the season. Nobody was that surprised, however.

“The kid’s tough as nails,” pitching coach Dave Righetti said. “He got all the big outs and got us late in the game. For a young man who sat that many days, waiting … He held all that together and went out with a lot of poise in a foreign ballpark.”

“His composure was unbelievable,” catcher Buster Posey said. Recalling a Braves scoring threat early in the game, Posey said, “I went out to talk to him and he just kind of smiled at me and said, ‘I’m all right. I got it.’ When you get that type of response you know you’re in for a good night.”

First baseman Aubrey Huff went one step farther. Referring to the mild fuss over who should start Game 4 — Tim Lincecum, if the Giants were trailing 2-1; Bumgarner, if they led the series; or Lincecum under any circumstances — Huff declared, “I would have taken him (Bumgarner) tonight regardless of whether we had won last night.”

– Chris Haft

Upon further review, maybe Ford makes sense

Think about it: The Giants probably are going to struggle to score runs against the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series. Derek Lowe has been outstanding lately and always pitches well against the Giants. Tommy Hanson doesn’t scare me much, but Tim Hudson looked like Orel Hershiser circa 1988 the last time he faced San Francisco.

Ideally, the Giants won’t give up many runs, either. Which (duh) means a lot of low-scoring ballgames. To cope in this environment, the Giants just might need to keep the ultra-speedy Darren Ford on the postseason roster.

Lately, the Giants have relied far too much on homers while struggling to manufacture runs. It’s easy to envision scenarios in which they find themselves tied or trailing by one run late in a game. Then they get a runner on first base with nobody out or one out, putting them in a position where they absolutely have to try to generate a run.

They’ll need to advance that runner into scoring position without giving up an out. They’ll need a stolen base.

They’ll need Ford.

Ford conceivably can do what Dave Roberts did for the Red Sox in 2004 or what Chone Figgins accomplished for the Angels in 2002. It’s easy to regard Ford as a luxury, but under the circumstances, he might actually be a necessity.

Of course, keeping Ford means that a veteran position player such as Edgar Renteria or Aaron Rowand won’t make the Division Series roster. It would be a shame to see either player sidelined. Renteria and Rowand both happen to own World Series rings. Moreover, they’re solid professionals who won’t back down from tough, critical situations. They’d be ideal to have available.

But addressing what probably will be a desperate need for offense of any sort requires some extreme measures. For this reason, don’t be at all surprised if Ford joins San Francisco’s 25-man contingent for the Division Series.

– Chris Haft

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