Saturday, September 08, 2007

The end of the season

Sad that it came so soon. How great would it have been to have played another week or so? I can't say it enough, this team was far better than its previous version and despite that, the record doesn't show that.

I was impressed by a few guys and there were those who frustrated the life out of any baseball fan watching.

I don't know if what we witnessed the final two weeks is a true sign of who they were because there wasn't anything tangible on the line. Pride, however is a great motivator.

Seeing Eugenio Velez make it to the majors last week told me a few things: 1) the Giants don't view him as a player who can make a major impact. What does he do that Rajai Davis can't? He may be faster but Davis is a better fielder and hitter. 2) the Giants aren't going to rush anyone they feel has long-term potential and start their clocks towards arbitration.

The two guys who I expect to see in the bigs are John Bowker and Nick Pereira. They share different personalities but both seem equipped to succeed. Bowker's numbers say it all and he should spend all of next season in Triple-A unless injuries force his promotion. Plus, with a few other deserving guys in Fresno, there shouldn't be a rush.

Pereira's numbers were misleading. He was in the top 10 in many stats, but doesn't get the credit he deserves. Talking to him during the last homestand, he expressed to me how he's learning to not try to strikeout everyone -- to pitch. He's grown up a lot this season.

There were a few pitchers who should reach the majors at some point and in various capacities: Joe Bateman, Osiris Matos, Brian Anderson and Geno Espineli stand out. I suspect that if Dave McKae and Brooks McNiven become more consistent, they will be there as well. I like Kelvin Pichardo's arm but he losses the strike zone easily.

Steve Holm may make it as a backup or as a starter for a year or two. He's one of the most level-headed guys in the clubhouse and a stand up teammate. He's never ran excuses for anyone or anything and is underestimated defensively. Of course, his bat was what we all noticed.

Simon Klink showed singns of promise, but is this close on defense from being a top fielder and his at-bats were MUCH better after the all-star break.

I think Carlos Sosa proved clutch at many times this season and should be back next year. My gut feeling is he, Jake Wald, Trey Webb, Pat Dobson, Dayton Buller, Alex Hinshaw, Justin Hedrick, McNiven and McKae are back here next season. Honestly, I hope Garrett Broshuis is not. He's one of my favorite guys to talk to. He's a great teammate and can discuss anything under the sun. He fell victim to poor run support and shouldn't be blamed for the bad record. His stuff isn't as good as everyone else, but he's a thinking man's pitcher.

The All-Star Game was about as fitting as anything related to the team. There's the struggle to sell seats, a late surge and then the fog wipes out the game. Personally, game or not, I enjoyed being around Dodd Stadium for those two days and feel what the Defenders did was nothing short of great.

Now, if there were more fans throughout the season. It sucked, to be blunt. I don't want this team to leave but am worried it will. I'm tired of the excuses about it not being a Sox, Yanks or Mets affiliate. That's nonsense. If people wanted to see those teams, why did attendance stink against Portland, Trenton and Binghamton? I agree, however, that the Giants have to go. I haven't been given the impression that they care about what happens and would rather keep players away from here than have them play at Dodd.

This should be a good start for us to chat....let me your thoughts.

And guys, thanks for the input and conversation -- it's been fun.


Kevin said...

I don't believe the problem is that the Giants specifically don't want to play players at Dodd specifically. The Giants have players play at two other offensively inhibitive stadiums (Augusta is a huge park, and San Jose can murder left-handed hitters with it's unusual configuration and wind coming in from right). And if they did, why didn't they leave?

I personally believe it's a more general problem in baseball: There are simply no west coast leagues for Double-A. While it's not a common problem in the Eastern League (The Giants are the only West Coast Affiliate), you do see it in the track record of other west coast Double-A teams, especially in the Southern League; long stretches of mediocreness with occasional spurts of greatness. (the Texas League does better, and is not coincidentally the most western league).

Teams are simply more likely to keep top players (especially those they feel don't need to be stepped up level by level) closer to the home club for many reasons, from rehab to easier access for club officials. This is hardly a new thing; why do you think that Clemens got his rehab start in Double-A Trenton and then was moved to PA?

Affiliated baseball simply cannot put a league at each level in every area; there are obviously more baseball towns in the East. That will lead to this happening a lot. The Defenders could definitely pursue someone else, but I think Joe is right about some of the excuses: Trenton and other teams with more local major league affiliates didn't draw. It's unlikely that Norwich could get a more desirable draw without either proving a fan base or improving the facilities significantly.

To that end, I don't think things have been so bad. The top prospect in the Giants system for 10 years (before Lincecum), Matt Cain, did pitch in Connecticut. Lincecum skipped, but does anyone really think he simply wasn't ready for the higher levels? And the 2006 team was a team with several highly rated players: from the 2006 SFDugout rankings, the team had the #2, #4, and #8 prospects, not to mention several lower guys (#11, #13, #14), and one guy who went straight to the majors (Alfonzo). That team was as derailed by the injuries to two of those top three guys, and simply having players who were promoted from being too good (Alfonzo, Sanchez).

In terms of players, it should get better. The Giants have obviously not had the swoon of high picks other teams do for various reasons, but that's changed. Last year, they had six picks in the top 51; this year, they'll probably have another Top 10 pick. So there's as good a chance of a superstar/top prospect coming along. However, I will admit that it won't be for a while; neither San Jose nor Augusta had top position players, although both had the top pitching in their leagues (in fact, SF owned every Single-A league they were in).

And do need to readjust: baseball isn't all about hitting. The Giants have focused on pitching for better or for worse, and they are superstar prospects, too. Say what you will about the teams, but Connecticut had the #2 team ERA in the league this past year. That's not nothing, but chicks just seem to dig only the long ball.

Wyman said...

Joe, just wanted to thank you for keeping us on the "inside" all season long. With the season over, I have one less page to surf after the night of baseball is done. Doh!

Joe said...

Thanks, Wyman!