Friday, July 31, 2015

Back to where it all began



You'll have to forgive me this weekend Giants fans. I may get a bit misty and feel nostalgic. For the first time since the 2010 World Series, the Giants are returning to the park in Texas where they won their first title of the San Francisco era.

I know there's been great times in 2012 and 2014. There might be even more amazing things ahead for this team. But this weekend I'm looking back.

Why? Well it's the only Giants title I got to share with my father. The 2010 team was a culmination of a lifetime love affair with the Giants. It validated all those years I hung around as a fan of this team even though I had never been to San Francisco. My dad was originally from New York and I was raised in the Chicago area. I go in depth about this here if you'd like to check it out.

Seeing the Giants in gray celebrating on another team's field brings me back to always seeing them as a road team in all my time growing up going to Wrigley. Year after year we would head to the park wearing our Giants gear knowing we'd be in a small minority. We never got to make the pilgrimage to AT&T Park until it was too late. You were there with me back in 2013 when I finally made it. We left a lot of you behind in McCovey Cove to let you watch your Giants forever.

I had just moved down here to Florida back in 2010. My father was living outside Chicago. We were on the phone constantly during the series and he was the first person I talked to (outside of Karen, she was in the room with me) after Brian Wilson struck out Nelson Cruz to send us all into delirium.

It was truly one of the last great moments we got to share together. I only saw him one more time and that was shortly before he fell into a coma and then passed away in March of 2012. I've always felt like he hung on just for that trip to Florida to see me. I'm lucky I had that time.

So this weekend while we all are obviously looking forward and the Giants will get to play with their new toy Mike Leake, there will be a big part of me looking back and thinking about the man that made me care about these things in the first place.

This post may be totally disjointed and not make any sense at all. I don't know and I don't care.

Here's to you Barry Nathanson. The reason I am a crazy Giants fan who lives in Florida. You were one of the greatest fathers any son could have asked for. I love you dad and miss you every day. I'll be thinking about you this weekend and hope you're proud of me.

-Eric Nathanson
@2outhits

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cub Kidd and the Athletic Butler

photo via bigtimebats.com


In a strange bit of sports news the Chicago Bears signed tight end Bear Pascoe to a contract. It's the first time I can remember a player sharing his first name with the team he plays for. The only example in professional sports that comes to my mind is Napolean Lajoie  for the Cleveland Naps and the team was named after him. If you can think of others, feel free to comment below.

It got me wondering. How do other team names sound as the first name of a player? More specifically, what would every Major League Baseball team's nickname look like as a first name? Why baseball? Because it's April and that's what I'm watching.

Just for fun, I've decided to list an example of every team name used as a first name, paired with a common surname in either North or South America. As in the Bear example above I'm going to drop the 's' at the end on most of the names.

Monday, April 13, 2015

2-out hits & misses: Week 1




The baseball season is officially a week old. Every team has played 6 or 7 games except for the Cubs and Cardinals. I'm introducing my weekly look around the league with my "2-out hits & misses" column. It's time for small sample sizes and overreactions. There was some good baseball and some really ugly baseball in the first week so let's take a look at what's going on now that the 2015 season is under way.

Hits

Top of the A.L. Central

The Detroit Tigers are something else. They've jumped out to a 6-0 start on the back of their juggernaut offense. Through 6 games the Tigers have a +31 run differential and have scored 47 total runs. That's just under 8 runs a game. It doesn't matter who is pitching for Detroit, they are getting enough run support daily.

Miguel Cabrera is locked in early hitting .520 (13-25) with 2 HR's and 2 doubles. Ian Kinsler keeps getting on base and has already scored 10 runs. Heck, Yoenis Cespedes is hitting .321 and it's only the 5th best batting average for a Tigers regular. This is Detroit's 4th time starting 6-0, the only time they started 7-0 was in 1984 when they ripped through the American League on their way to a title.

Kansas City is trying to prove that 2014 was no fluke. The Royals are also off to a 6-0 start. I haven't seen any of their games so I can't really speak to how they're doing it. I'll have to check them out sometime this week. By the way, the other 3 teams in the division have won a total of 5 games.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Opening Day 2015




"It's the most wonderful time of the year." -Andy Williams

I know, it' a Christmas song. But that's what today is for a guy like me. It's Opening Day! The greatest day on a baseball fan's calendar. I couldn't be happier. Hope springs eternal, everything is new, and blah, blah, blah. You get it. It's time for baseball.

To be fair, this offseason was a little easier to take. When baseball left us the San Francisco Giants had won the 2014 World Series in 7 games over the Kansas City Royals. It's a little easier to get through the long, cold, dark winter when your favorite team has just won it all. I was beaming with pride all offseason whenever I wore my Giants gear in public. Which was quite often. Remember, I live in Florida and love to give the reminder that the Giants are the champs.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

SF Giants preview: The other guys

This first appears over at TortureCast.com.

Photo via USA Today Sports

Well here we are. The 2015 San Francisco Giants season is upon us. I thought I’d take this time to preview the season and throw out some predictions. I’m sure you’ve read the “big boy” publications and what they forecast for the season so I’m not going to even mention the fact that none of them are giving the Giants a chance to do big things this season.

Nope. Won’t mention it at all. That whole odd year thing? I won’t mention that either.

I’ve already previewed the starting rotation and the regulars. Here are some links.


For the part 3 I’m going to take a pass at the other guys. It’s time to take a look at the Giants bullpen and bench players.
The bullpen

Saturday, April 4, 2015

SF Giants preview: The regulars

This first appears over at TortureCast.com.



Well here we are. The 2015 San Francisco Giants season is upon us. I thought I’d take this time to preview the season and throw out some predictions. I’m sure you’ve read the “big boy” publications and what they forecast for the season so I’m not going to even mention the fact that none of them are giving the Giants a chance to do big things this season.

Nope. Won’t mention it at all. That whole odd year thing? I won’t mention that either.

I previewed the starting rotation yesterday. Today I’m looking at the starting 8. Well, truthfully, it’s the starting 9. Even though Hunter Pence is out until sometime during April, I’m going to include him here. It’s not like he won’t be back and frankly we all love him.

So here are the starters. I’m not going to go by batting order because Bruce Bochy has already said that he will mix it up. Some days Angel Pagan will hit 3rd, others he’ll hit 5th. I’m going to go around the diamond starting with LF and ending with the catcher position. I’m choosing which stats from last season I want to highlight with each player because, well, I can do that. So sit back and enjoy a look at this year’s Giants starters. All slash lines are batting average, on base percentage, and then slugging percentage.

Friday, April 3, 2015

SF Giants preview: The rotation

This first appears over at TortureCast.com

Photo via NBC

Well here we are. The 2015 San Francisco Giants season is upon us. I thought I’d take this time to preview the season and throw out some predictions. I’m sure you’ve read the “big boy” publications and what they forecast for the season so I’m not going to even mention the fact that none of them are giving the Giants a chance to do big things this season.

Nope. Won’t mention it at all. That whole odd year thing? I won’t mention that either.

Since I tend to get wordy and long-winded I’m going to break this up in to 3 different parts. This one is all about the starting rotation, next will be the regular lineup, and finally I’ll close with the bullpen/bench players. I’m cheating a little bit because I’m trying to give the Giants some time to make their final roster decisions. The longer I put off the bench/bullpen, the better chance there is that we will actually know who’s made the cut.

I also want to note that I don’t have 2015 projections up for the guys. I’m sure Ben Lee or Chad King may have something like that, but not me. It’s not that I hate all the new stats, I’m just not the guy that’s going to give them to you. Think of me as the scout type that is holding on to the eye test, even if it’s to my own detriment. Also, I’m throwing out all the spring stats because frankly, they are ugly.
So without further ado, I present part 1, the starting rotation.

Madison Bumgarner
2014: 18-10, 2.98 ERA, 33 Starts, 4 CG, 2 SHO, 43 BB, 219 K, 217.1 IP

The ace of the staff. What more can be said about the job he did for the Giants in 2014? Well, probably volumes of work, but that’s not what I’m here for today. The biggest question mark is how Bumgarner will respond this season after compiling 270 total innings between the regular season and playoffs a year ago. His previous high was 2012 when he tossed 223.1 innings. He followed that with just over 200 innings in 2013 while posting his lowest career ERA (2.77) in 31 starts.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Moving Day


Mike Stobe / Getty Images


It's just over a week until the San Francisco Giants open up the season in Phoenix against the Diamondbacks. There was news today of some roster moves that show the 25-man roster is taking shape.

In case you missed it, 5 players were optioned to AAA Sacramento and 6 players were reassigned to minor league camp.

Those going to Sacramento are Andrew Susac, Adam Duvall, Gary Brown, Juan Perez, and Hunter Strickland.

The 6 guys reassigned to the minors are Juan Gutierrez, Brett Bochy, Curtis Partch, Steven Okert, Guillermo Quiroz, and Brandon Hicks.

So what does this mean for the big club? Well by my count 23 of the 25 spots on the roster are filled. It looks like non-roster invitee Justin Maxwell is going to stick with the team as an extra outfielder and Travis Ishikawa has made himself into a utility player with the ability to play the outfield as well as 1st base. The Giants aren't keeping him around just for nostalgia.



Couldn't help myself there.

That leaves 1 spot in the bullpen and 1 spot as a utility infielder. The bullpen battle is down to George Kontos and Jean Machi. Heading in to play on Sunday they have very similar stats.

Machi: 11 IP 10 H 5 ER 2 BB 6 K 1.09 WHIP 4.09 ERA

Kontos: 9 IP 8 H 3 ER 1 BB 9 K 1.00 WHIP 3.00 ERA

Both players are out of options so whoever the Giants decide not to keep will have to clear waivers before staying with the organization and being sent down. If I had to guess I think they keep Machi. Bruce Bochy seems to have a lot of faith in the big guy.

As far as the last IF spot it's down to Matt Duffy and Ehire Adrianza. Duffy has been tearing it up this spring and it's going to be hard to keep him off the roster. The problem is Adrianza is out of options and the Giants may not want to lose him to another organization. Personally I think it's worth the risk. Duffy has a huge upside and can help this team right out of the gate. Plus, Adrianza has been less than impressive down in Arizona. He had his shot last year to make a lasting impression and failed to do so.

What say you Giants fans? Who do you want to see fill out the roster to start 2015?

In case you missed it we recorded a podcast last week and should have one up every week now that the season is starting. You can find our most recent one here- Episode 81: Can't Have Sissy Hands

The games count for real in 8 days. I'm ready for some baseball.

-Eric
@2outhits on Twitter

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The promise of summer

Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports


Baseball is back. Well sort of. It's Spring Training and the boys are on the field and playing ball. If you missed it today, I don't know how you did, the San Francisco Giants played their first game of this year's Cactus League slate. They lost 9-4 to the Bay Area rival Oakland A's.

Now I'm not going to sit here and read into this, or analyze that. No, today was the first day of Spring games and just having the promise of summer is enough. There's nothing to be gained from picking apart the game.

Did Madison Bumgarner give up 4 runs and 5 hits in his 1.2 innings of work? Yes. But Spring isn't results oriented and we all know that. I was impressed by the ovation Bumgarner received after Bruce Bochy lifted him for Brett Bochy during the bottom of the 2nd inning. The accomplishments of last season are enough to tide us over for now.

I listened to the game on and off throughout the afternoon. Just hearing the voices of Jon Miller and Duane Kuiper was soothing for Giants fans everywhere.

I know, I'm delivering some hard hitting analysis here. Who cares? Baseball is back and the Giants get to defend their title.

Here's a quick list of the things I'll be watching for this March.

- The battle for the 1 open bullpen spot. Will George Kontos stay with the team? Can Jean Machi repeat his early season magic of last season?

- The backups on the bench. We know Gregor Blanco will be the 4th OF, but who's the 5th? Can Matt Duffy crack the infield behind Joaquin Arias?

- Will the Giants decide to keep 3 catchers this season? Andrew Susac has shown he belongs so will he get a shot? Can Hector Sanchez rebound from an injury filled 2014?

- Will Angel Pagan make it through Spring without injuring himself? Nah, just kidding, he waits until the regular season to do that.

So we're back. Baseball is here and we can all rejoice in its wonderful goodness. The Giants are defending champs for the 3rd time in 5 years. Enjoy everybody, I know I'm a happy man today.

Side note - I totally stole the name of this post from a Jackopierce song. Here it is below because, well, I love Jackopierce and this is my blog. So listen to it damnit! They are good if you like that sort of thing.



-Eric
@2outhits on Twitter