Welcome to MASH -- McCovey Cove style

Welcome to the 2nd Czar’s blog of 2015 celebrating our World Champion San Francisco Giants!  

 

It is hard to believe how many injuries have occurred four games into the season, and how quickly many of them seem to be healing.  Pence broke his arm in the spring but the cast is off and he should start hitting soon, meanwhile he is a super cheerleader.  Cain was scratched before his first start with forearm tightness and is on the DL, hopefully not for long. Belt hurt his groin on a pop fly but didn’t get put on the DL and is expected to be playing this weekend. Ishikawa remains in Sacramento where I expect he will be for a while and Peavy’s back stiffness seems to have abated enough for him to start Sunday against the Padres.

Regardless of this litany of owies, the G-men are 3 and 1 in their first 4 games. They took their first series of the year against the Snakes, and won a 12 inning stunner against the Padres last night behind Hudson, who looked very good, and a parade of relievers including Kontos, who got the W.

Does anyone else feel like we are still in the playoffs?

 

How are the pre-season offensive projections working out?

Well, it is really early but right now the top of the order looks REALLY good.  Nori Aoki (.412) and Joe Panik (.250 but timely hits) are setting the table, Pagan (.333) is hitting like the second coming of Joe DiMaggio, Buster is hitting game winning HR’s and Crawford (.278)  is absolutely awesome, with clutch hits and clutch defense.

Casey apparently has a case of the yips (at least looking at his two errors last night) but is still hitting .293 with a dinger in his first three starts.  We haven’t really seen Belt break loose yet but Duffy, with 7 at-bats, is hitting .429 and Hector Sanchez, with 8 at-bats, is hitting .375. Not too shabby.

The point is that the lack of offense in the pre-season hype is not what we are seeing at the beginning of this season, at least in Arizona and San Diego so far. The G-Men are scoring runs with style, grace and regularity. It is a really fun team to watch, especially when stuff like Pagan getting brushed back in the “gum” incident and taking it out on Craig Kimbrell for a triple happens.

 

Is the pitching there, as advertised?

With the exception of Cain going down and Vogelsong giving up two 3-run dingers in Arizona in the game that was lost down there (you don’t win games where you give up runs like that), the pitching has been strong.  Last night was awesome. Hudson for 6, then the bullpen through 12 in a one-run game that felt like the playoffs.

Tonight is Lincecum. Saturday is Bum, Sunday is Peavy and Monday is Heston.  Not like they drew it up last week but the G-Men are carrying 13 pitchers to get through this run of 23 games without a day off so the depth is there.  The bullpen looks strong and everyone is contributing, with arms in Sacramento if we need them.

I think, based on what we have seen so far, that we can feel  real good about this team.

 

The Defense – just hit it to Crawford

The defense has been good. The runs against isn’t bad defense but three-run homers (we are a little worried about Vogie, he needs to pitch less innings), which are not defendable.  Crawford is starting out the year like a human highlight reel, reaching balls beyond the range of any other shortstop in the game, doing trick tosses for double plays and having an arm like a cannon.  Supposedly Tulo is the best SS in the game.  You will have your chance to compare them next week.

What impresses me the most is the team balance and the coaching.  Lose Pence and put Blanco or Maxwell in, shift Duffy all over the infield (he is taking balls at 1st base in practice today), Lose Belt and shift Posey to 1st and put Hector behind the plate so he can get two hits and catch a great game.  Because of the managing, coaching (except for Roberto Kelly getting the yips in his first game) and the set-up of the team the Giants right now are playing like a well-oiled machine - - like, dare I say it - - world champions!

 

The NL West and the next series

The NL is certainly going to be a dogfight.  There are three games left against the Padres and, frankly, if we split in San Diego that is a great opening road trip.

On Monday the Rockies come into AT&T, as yet undefeated (but they opened with a sweep of the Brewers and are playing the Cubs right now – the G-Men will be their first NL West series). The Rockies will be a test for the pitchers and I’m just sorry that I’m going to miss that series. Things to watch are, obviously, all of the Rockies hitters who have a team batting average right now hovering around .400. This will be a serious test of the defense.

On Thursday the Snakes come back into town.  I don’t expect them to do much better than they did in Arizona but they are not a group to be overlooked.

Then, starting on Tuesday the 21st the Dodgers come into town for their first series of the year.  LA might only be 2 and 1 at this point but they are not to be trifled with considering Kershaw and Grienke and the ability of Adrian Gonzales to hit 7 HR’s in 3 games and to be batting almost .800

That’s it. It’s time for baseball!

 

Ciao, and GO GIANTS!

The Czar

2015 Baseball is Here

Welcome to the 1st Czar’s blog of 2015 celebrating our World Champion San Francisco Giants!

First, some history to get you ready for 2015 baseball, Giants style

2010 – a season never forgotten, a rally thong from a veteran and Buster Posey as rookie of the year. 

2012 – we are the champions, Zito pitches for the ages, Lincecum comes through and the Panda destroys Detroit.

2014 – Ishikawa’s channels Bobby Thompson, the most electrifying baseball moment most of us under 90 have ever seen.


A short offseason, a spring training that did not look good and the last position battles

The G-Men went to Arizona. 19 losses, 9 wins and 2 ties later the G-Men are ready to come home tomorrow night and Friday and then go on the road again for 8 games before they come home to start the regular season on April 13th.

What happened in Arizona?  Hunter Pence broke his arm (he got hit by a pitch) and is out through the end of April (the only saving grace is that it happened early in spring training, it was a simple fracture and Hunter continues to work out). The play was generally sloppy in Arizona and Bochy got on the players for it.  The good news is that the Giants started to play better about two weeks ago and are now looking like a major league team. Can they up the intensity now? That is the big question.

The question mark for the next four games (before the opener in Arizona against the Snakes) is who is going to finally make the team. There are only a few positions waiting to be finally decided, with the most important being the last utility infield position, which is between Adrianza and Matt Duffy. 

Duffy is batting .385, with 2 HR’s (including a 2 run shot today) and 13 RBI’s.  He got the players Barney Nugent Award for the most inspirational player in camp. Adrianza is batting .234 with no HR’s and 4 RBI’s. The difference between the two, however, is that Duffy has minor league options remaining and Adrianza doesn’t.  If the Giants try to send Adrianza down they might lose him. The betting position right now is that Sabean is on the wire trying to trade Adrianza.  Duffy not making the team would not be the end of the world but I think that we need him and losing Adrianza would not be the end of the world.  After all, we lost Ishi that way, and then got him back when he was released by the Pirates.

Other battles that are over include Justin Maxwell (perhaps the only real consistent HR threat besides Posey and Pence) beating out Juan Perez for the final outfield spot, Hector Sanchez beating out Andrew Susac for back-up catcher (not a bad thing, Susac should play every day and he can’t behind Buster) and Duvall being sent down again (he’s not ready is the consensus).

On the pitching side of things, Machi beat out Kontos and Strickland for the last spot in the bullpen, and Lincecum retained his starter role over Vogelsong with strong games over the last week.

The Team Right Now

The 2015 Giants look a lot like the 2014 Giants with the exception of Michael Morse going to Miami and the Panda defecting to Boston (where he gets to eat freely without being hassled).

The Infield

Around the horn in the infield will be Buster Posey (who is looking really good!) behind the dish and ready for a great year, Brandon Belt at 1st (also looking for a break-out power year after all the injuries last year), Joe Panik (who hurt his ankle today, but the reports are that it’s just a sprain) at 2nd, Brandon Crawford (who us trying to channel Ozzie Smith with trick plays – there is a great video of his trick plays on line) at short and newcomer Casey McGehee at third.

Casey is a respected and loved player wherever he goes. He was the comeback player of the year last year in Miami, hits for high average (lots of doubles), is a solid defender and a good teammate. He just should try not to keep hitting HR’s.  His story (from his days with the Brew Crew onward) is inspirational and he fits well with the G-Men.

The Outfield

In the outfield, Maxwell and Ishikawa will probably split time with Blanco at right, Pagan (if healthy) will be in Center and Aoki (a slick fielder and good hitter for average) will take left field. This is all waiting for the return of Hunter Pence to his place at the wall

I suspect that Maxwell will go down when Pence comes back but it depends.  If Ishikawa is cold and Maxwell is hot it could be Ishi reporting to the Sacramento Grizzlies. Pagan’s health is still a question, although he swears that his back is fine and the only reason he got the shot  in his back was so that he could sleep on a soft bed. We will see.

The Pitchers

The Giant’s front line pitching staff looks strong.  Bumgarner is the best in the game (and that is taking Kershaw into account). Cain is looking good after his recuperation from surgery. Is he the Matt Cain of old?  We will see but I’m betting that he is. Peavy is a question mark because he hasn’t looked good this spring but then again he didn’t look good last season until he did.  Peavy is a gamer. 

This is Hudson’s last year and Rags is going to coddle him I expect.  He will come out of games early for Vogelsong or Petit, which is just fine.  If he can give five innings of classic Hudson ball he’s worth it.

Lincecum is starting.  He worked with his Dad on his mechanics all winter and, as usual, sometimes he has them, and sometimes he doesn’t.  This is a contract year for Timmy and he wants to go into his next uniform (probably as a Mariner) wrapped in glory.  We are all counting on him doing exactly that.

As for the bullpen, the G-Men have the best and most experienced pen in the game. Affeldt, Casilla, Romo, Lopez, now joined by Machi, Vogelsong and Petit are an experienced and awesome crew.

The Intangibles

Bruce Bochy, Ron Wotus, Dave Righetti, Billy Hayes. Roberto Kelly and Brian Sabean (not necessarily in that order).  Tim Flannery retired and there has a little shifting of responsibilities, but not much.  This is a tested group of coaches led by the best manager and the best General Manager in the game.  This is one of the main reasons why the Giants win, and why the G-Men are going back to the playoffs in September (you heard it here first J).

The Division

The NL West may be the toughest division in baseball this year. The scribes generally pick the G-Men to finish third at .500, with the Dodgers first and the Padres second. The Snakes and the Rockies have their strengths but obvious weaknesses (pitching in the case of both teams).

The Padres are loaded (they got power up the yin-yang with Matt Kemp, Maybin, Quentin, and Upton in the outfield and a solid infield) and then they picked up James Shields to bookend Andrew Cashner and Ian Kennedy (always a Giants killer).  I think that if the G-Men don’t take the division the Padres have a real shot. They are the real deal.

The Dodgers are once again the best team that money can buy with Kershaw as the face of the franchise, followed by Puig (he of the infinite mustard). They picked up Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick, Adrian Gonzales is one of the best and Andre Ethier (now free from the shadow of Kemp) is hitting the stuffing out of the ball.  Their new centerfielder (Joc Pederson – very LA, three letter first name, sounds like he should be playing for a prep school or someplace like USC) looks like he may in fact be the second coming of Mike Trout, as advertised.  The only question marks on the Dodgers are the pitching. Ryu is on the DL, Kenley Jansen hurt himself and after Kershaw there isn’t a lot to talk about.

26 of the first 30 games (and the first 23) are against division rivals so we will know pretty quickly how the Giants stack up against the real opposition. The key to the division might be in the first series in Arizona,  If the Giants can handle the Snakes, then they get confidence going into the first home opening series against the Rockies and the Snakes, followed by the Dodgers.

Meanwhile, the last two exhibition games against the A’s (who are looking VERY good) loom large as a test, starting tomorrow.

Ciao, and GO GIANTS!

The Czar

 

Giants v. Dodgers, Giants v. Padres

The decision this year that back-fired  

The Giants were worn out this year. The decision to allow 8 starters to play in the World Baseball Classic in March after going deep into October to win the WS was a terrible decision. The Giants rely on defense, finesse and pitching. When the starters get worn out they put more of a load on the bullpen and the pen that was so stalwart last October started to give up runs; which the poor offense (historically poor) could not overcome. The other terrible decision was not to sign a power hitting left fielder mid-season. I’m not saying that the right person was available but Alex Rios would certainly have looked much better in left field than Gregor Blanco.

 

The good decisions were to sign Pagan and Scutaro to long term contracts and to lock up Matt Cain long term. Unfortunately when Pagan went down following that incredible walk-off inside the park homer run on May 25th (I was there, it was awesome) it seemed like the spark went out of the team. June, July and August was a tail-spin that wouldn‘t stop. People were plugged into and out of the line-up and (with a few exceptions) no one sparked the team.

 

The G-Men have, however, been playing much better in September. They have pulled out of the cellar and took 3 out of 4 from the Dodgers in LA and were 6 out of 10 on latest road trip. The Dodgers series was really fun. They were denied on their home field and left frustrated. Loved it.

 

The Positives and what might happen

 

This has been a banner year for the Brandon’s.  Crawford did better at shortstop than anyone could imagine (he will be a gold glove shortstop yet). He spent much of the season in the .270’s and recently has slumped back to .253.  However if anyone had said that he would even hit .250 that would have been a surprise.  He is just going to get better and better.  Belt, once he accepted the need to change his batting stance, is suddenly a legitimate number 3 hitter.  He’s a big man (and a hell of a First baseman) and if he can learn to play left field he might be the answer to that question next year. He’s currently batting .289 with 16 dingers and 64 RBI’s. Not bad.

 

Buster Posey and Hunter Pence. Pray that they are both Giants for the long term. Buster is in a three week long slump (2 for 31 on the road trip) but his average is still at .295 with 15 homers and 72 RBI’s. Buster is the future of the franchise and should be shifted to First and Hector Sanchez should catch (he’s good back there!).  Hunter Pence is the big story. He’s a free agent after October with a .286 BA, 25 homers and 93 RBI’s. He’s an iron man who has played EVERY game this season. He might go over 100 RBI’s on this home stand. The Giants MUST sign Pence and they know it.  The current speculation is 4 years and $60 million.  In my view that would be a bargain. That’s what we paid for Rowand who wasn’t half the player that Pence is, and will continue to be (and Pence just turned 30; he’s a kid).

 

There are two other notable free agents that the G-Men should sign at all costs.  Tim Lincecum and Pablo Sandoval. Timmy is a Giant and should stay a Giant. Yes he has had his ups and downs (10 and 15 record, ERA over 5 this year) but he is learning how to really pitch (only the 3rd pitcher in MLB history to strike out 1,300 by his 6th season) and he’s only 29 years old with 2 Cy Young’s and two WS rings. It doesn’t get much better than that. The Panda seems to be learning how to control his weight and his defense recently has been really good.  Anyone who can hit 3 HR’s in a game is our kind of guy, and he’s done it in the WS and in the regular season against the Dodgers. It’s hard to believe that he has only 13 HR’s and 73 RBI’s with a  .275 BA. This off-season will be really important for the Panda. Getting his brother as a live-in cook may be paying dividends.

 

If the pitching rotation comes back next year refreshed we could be in for a very good year.  I’ll take the playoff’s every other year, maybe with a ring J. Bumgarner is a stud and next to Kershaw is the best pitcher in the NL.  He’s only going to get better. Coupled with a fresh Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong (a question mark only because of his age, certainly not for his attitude –he is the pitcher equivalent of Will Clark, a guy who always played angry) the top of the order should be solid. The 5th starter must be Petit. What a story. I was there for the almost perfect game. Awesome. His pitching against the Yankee’s yesterday (on Mariano Rivera day when Andy Pettit pitched his last game) was a thing of beauty. He is deserving of a really good shot in the spring.

 

That frees up Gaudin for the bullpen (where he is strong) along with Casilla, Romo, Lopez (another awesome reliever) and hopefully Heath Hembree next year. Please (prayer to Brian Sabean) get rid of Jean Machi and Jose Mijares.  Every time they come in they seem to allow the men on base to score. I shudder.

 

The young guys that you will see in the upcoming series to watch: Jose Perez, a young fielder with a great arm and tremendous defense; Nick Noonan and Tony Abreu, both potential good bench players but both ticketed I suspect for AAA to season some more.

 

The Negatives

 

Our bench this year. The bench was very weak. The only player that could really be counted on was Arias, who had a .271 BA with 17 RBI’s off the bench and played every infield position except pitcher and catcher.  The bench is also where Blanco belongs.  He’s good in spots and is a professional but he shouldn’t be a starter.  That’s why I think that the brain trust is looking so hard at Perez right now. Peguero and Keischnick are headed back to AAA, as is Brent Pill (who might end up somewhere else where his right handed bat will be welcome, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in a Cubs uniform with Nate). This will be an area that the management (I suspect) will be looking at long and hard in the off-season and in spring training, which for the young guys starts now.

 

What will the off-season bring?

 

Possibly a free-agent left fielder with power and maybe another starting pitcher.  There are a lot of starters going into free agency this year and the power hitters on the market like Curtis Granderson and Jacoby Ellsbury, maybe even Puig’s Cuban cousin (a team mate on the Cuban national team) the sensational Jose Abreu, will be available.  Of course Robinson Cano will be on the market but he is expected to demand A-Rod money and the Yankee’s are not going to let him go. If the owners go for it and the team payroll gets up around $150 million it could be a really interesting off-season.

 

The two home series

 

It’s the Dodgers and the Padres and the NL West.

 

The Dodgers may lay down and die because they have taken the division (they are crybabies in the best of times) but the Dodgers fans will be at the ballpark in droves and it might get ugly at AT&T. I hope not but I’ve been there with blue dressed drunks trying to blow up beach balls in our park. Back in 1993 a Dodgers fan jumped over my five year old and took a ball from him. Really bush league. Another good example is what the Dodger’s did when they took the division in AZ.  They dissed the Snakes by celebrating on their field and then jumping in their pool in centerfield. Very juvenile (even Senator McCain got in the act) but what do you expect from a team of high-priced superstars with prima donna complexes? Puig is the worst but Hanley Rameriz is right behind him. The Dodgers pitchers (except for Kershaw, who is the second coming of Sandy Koufax) are hot dogs and headhunters.  That’s also why I think that the three strongest playoff teams in the NL are St. Louis, the Reds and Atlanta. Personally I’m rooting for Dusty. This should be his year.

 

The Padres have always been the Giants nemesis. The two teams just match up well and we close the season against each other fighting for third place (maybe second if the Snakes take a dive) in the NL West.  Those games will be hard fought and fun.

 

It’s too bad that we are at the end of another season but it’s been (as always) a great ride.

 

Ciao, and GO GIANTS!

 

The Czar

Giants v. Brewers, Giants v. Orioles

The G-Men are now 50 and 61 and 12 games back in the NL West  The season to date (at least since about May 15th when Pagan went down) has been gruesome. Like I said in the last blog, if you can’t score runs, play defense or pitch you are not going to win ball games.

Sabean did not make any trades at all at the July 31st deadline and is standing pat with the team he has. I like the attitude. The biggest moves that have been made were to bring Francoeur in from the Royals, to promote Pill (who is almost out of minor league options) and Kieschnick from Fresno and to get Casilla back from the DL. They did get Arias back from his burst appendix last week and Vogelsong is back on Friday against the Orioles.

The Positives

How about: they can’t get any worse?

On the pitching side, Bumgarner may be the best pitcher on the team and Timmy continues to improve with every start. Vogelsong returning, along with Gaudin continuing his very serviceable starts (a no-decision tonight against the Brew Crew but he still only gave up 2 runs), should give the pitching a shot in the arm. Affeldt went on the DL but Lopez continues to be a stud.

It is clear that the pitching staff is doing much better. The trouble is that the Giants can’t score runs to support the good pitching they are starting to get.

Buster Posey and Scutaro are both batting over .300 and Pence is on an 8 game hitting streak. For this series the batting order is getting shook up; with Scutaro hitting leadoff, Crawford second and Pence in the three slot. It worked tonight. Rumor has it that Pence might hit lead off tomorrow.

It also looks like the Panda has lost a lot of weight. Now we are worried that he is losing power. What do we want? A powerful fat guy or a slim singles hitter? I go with the Fat Man (who remembers Sidney Greenstreet in Casablanca and the Maltese Falcon?)

 The Negatives

How about: too many losses? The G-Men finished the last road trip 3 and 3 (against the Phillies and the Rays) and they lost two games to the Rays that they could have won if they could hit with men on base. That’s certainly improvement over the last disastrous home series against the Snakes, Reds and the Cubs (swept by the Cubs? Wow, that’s a low point).

Popular wisdom has it that the stress of the post season last year, followed by the World Baseball Classic in March (in which the Giants had more players than any other team) basically wore out the Giants pitching staff. That may be, but hitters don’t get worn out and that doesn’t explain the woeful deficiencies in the batter’s box.

What Can the Giants do? Is there any hope?

Yes, there is hope but it is fading fast. 12 games down can be made up and the G-Men are only a game behind Colorado and a game and a half behind the Padres. We fully expect that those two teams can be passed. The question is the Snakes, and the Team that Shall Not be Named. There can be a run but is has to start now. The G-Men have done against the AL East, and the series against the Orioles and the Red Sox are coming up. Before we get to the Pirates (leading the NL Central) at the end of the month.

Right now Giants fandom is split between seeing if the Giants can actually pull of a stretch run and giving it up, going for a six-man pitching rotation and seeing what the young guys can do for 2014.

We will know in the next two weeks whether or not September will bring a run, or will bring a relaxing month of playing the spoiler (a role that the Giants relish).

I will refrain from mentioning Brian Wilson – the pain is too fresh.

 The Series to come

The Brewers are practically the only team that is currently worse than the Giants, 20 games out in last place with their MVP (Ryan Braun) probably out for the year (or more) with a PED suspension. This is by all rights a series that the Giants should take, especially with Cain, Bumgarner and Lincecum lined up for the next three games.

The Orioles have dropped to 61 and 51, 10 games over .500 but 6 games behind the Red Sox and in third place in the AL East, right in front of the Yankee’s. They just picked up Bud Norris from the Astros and have a 40 HR guy in young Chris Davis, a real slugger. Another test for the G-Men.

Giants v. Diamondbacks, Giants v. Reds

The G-Men are now 43 and 51 and 6.5 games back in the NL West Greetings to all of our friends who love the two-time World Champion SF Giants! This is it, the second half of the season. The last two months (since about May 15th when Pagan went down) have been the worst Giants baseball since the mid-1980’s. 2 and 18 in the last 20 games before taking three out of four from Padres on the road in San Diego (which included Timmy’s no-no), probably the worst BA in the majors, the most men LOB, the worst defense and the most inconsistent pitching. If you can’t score runs, play defense or pitch you are not going to win ball games.

Why was this happening?  Injuries are one factor. I talked about this in the last blog. Scutaro’s back and finger, Crawford’s finger, Pagan’s hamstring (maybe Pagan will be back in September?), Panda’s weight, Casilla’s oblique, Aria’s hamstring and Sanchez’s whatever.

Well, in the second half we expect Casilla back (on Sunday), the Panda has been looking a bit slimmer (maybe it was an optical illusion but he played some really good D in San Diego), Crawford looks back to normal and has started hitting, Scutaro is steady and we expect Vogelsong back at the end of July.

Another factor (besides healing up) is that the Giants play most of their second half games at home, where they are still 5 games over .500.

In my view the next ten games will tell us whether or not the G-Men are buyers or sellers at the July 31st trade deadline.  Sabean has already said that he isn’t trading Timmy (who has the most value of the Giants) and Cain and Bumgarner are untouchable.  Lopez on the other hand is vulnerable if the price is right (Atlanta is desperate for the left-handed reliever – who is in their farm system?).  The Panda also has value but only for a good starting pitcher to replace Zito (of course if Vogelsong comes back strong Gaudin could back to long relief).

If the Giants lose the three upcoming series (the Snakes, Reds and Cubs), or even two out of three, I suspect that Sabean will go into rebuilding mode.  However if the G-Men play over .500 (maybe 7 out of 10?) then they might be buyers. Sabean has made moves at the trade deadline before. In 2011 he got Keppinger and Beltran and last year he got Pence so expect something to happen.

So, these games are incredibly important and I expect each one to be a sell-out.

The Positives

The Giants have made some good moves. They brought up Tanaka, who is a really smooth player and who might be a factor because he is so versatile.  He looks and plays like Ichiro and was a Japanese All-Star (he’s 32 and hungry and he gave up a big contract in Japan to try to make it in the show – you have to love the attitude and confidence) . He is certainly a better player than Shinjo (remember him, of the neon orange armbands?). They also picked up Jeff Francoeur who, while well-traveled (Atlanta, the Mets and then the Royals) is a really solid defensive player who has hit for power in the past. He sucked with the Royals but maybe the change in scenery will do him good.  I’ve always liked him and he allows Boche to platoon Torre and Blanco in center, which plays to their strengths.

All in all this makes for a solid team.

On the pitching side, Bumgarner is money and Timmy seems to be finding his groove. Gaudin has been solid (the Las Vegas arrest notwithstanding) and with Casilla back in the 8th inning maybe Affleldt will relax.  The G-Men bullpen is actually pretty good but has been overworked.

When they are clicking the infield of Crawford, Scutaro and Belt is solid. Tanaka is listed now as the utility infielder, which is pretty cool because he looked good in left field also. Belt has been hitting with power and may finally be coming into his own and Pence (as wildly streaky as he has been) is capable of carrying a team if he gets hot.

Finally, Buster Posey.  He is one hell of a player and worth coming to watch all by himself.  He’s Bonds without the attitude.

The Negatives

Matt Cain looks lost.. Maybe he can find his groove in the second half but he lasted on one inning in his last start at home. Barry Zito cannot win outside of AT&T.  Thankfully most of the second half games are at home but, regardless, this is his last year as a Giant.

The biggest negative is bad attitude. If the Giants believe that they can win they will. It starts with Boche. Keep your fingers crossed.

What Can the Giants do?  Is there any hope?

Yes, there is hope.  This team won 2 out of the last 3 world series.  That alone earned them the right to be watched no matter what else happens.  I’ll take finishing out of the playoffs every other year for a world series in the other years. The Giants of 51 came from 13 games down on August 15th of that year to tie the Dodgers, win a sudden death playoff and go to the world series.  The 62 Giants did the same thing.  Last year this same team won two sudden death playoff series when they were down to their last game, and then swept the world series. Until the G-Men are mathematically eliminated, they are in it.

Also, I have to point that the Dodgers are getting back into their insufferable mode; arrogant, testy, full of themselves and, what’s the word for it?  Oh yes, assholes (especially that hot dog Puig, there isn’t enough mustard in California for that guy). At the very least if we keep the best team that money can buy out of the playoff’s the season will have been worth it. Rooting for the Dodgers is like rooting for Voldemort.

The Series to come

The Snakes are In first place in the NL West. If the Gigantes sweep, they will be 3 ½ out. If they take 2 out of 3, they will be 4 ½ out. Arizona is steady.  They are 5 games over .500 and won 6 out of their last ten games.  They are 23 and 25 on the road so they are vulnerable. Who comes out of the gate hungrier will decide this series.

The Reds are 11 games OVER .500 but still in 3rd place (5 back) in the incredibly hot NL Central. They are full of All-Star hitters (Joey Votto and Jay Bruce among them) and pitchers like Homer Bailey (who no-hit the G-Men earlier this month).  The Reds are the real test and Dusty Baker likes nothing better than doing it to the G-Men at home.

The Cubs are in 4th place in the NL Central (15 games back) and are going to be sellers for sure, so they will be showing off their trade bait, Matt Garza for sure and probably Soriano, Rameriz and, yes, Schierholtz. That will be an entertaining series, more important for the Giants than the Cubs I expect.

That's it. The clock is on.

Ciao, and GO GIANTS!

 

  1. Decoding the BCC’s Guidance on Commercial Cannabis Activity.
  2. Prop 65 - Escaping a "Notice of Violation"
  3. TTB Consignment Sales Investigations - What is Behind the Curtain of the TTB Press Releases?
  4. Heads Up! The ABC Is Stepping Up Enforcement Against Licensees Located Near Universities
  5. Coming Soon: New Mandatory Training Requirements for over One Million “Alcohol Servers” In California – September 1, 2021 will be here quickly
  6. 2019 Legislative Changes for California Alcohol Producers – a Blessing or a Curse?
  7. A Picture (On Instagram) Is Worth A Thousand Words
  8. Playing by the Rules: California Cannabis Final Regulations Takeaways
  9. Hinman & Carmichael LLP Names Erin Kelleher Partner and Welcomes Gillian Garrett and Tsion “Sunshine” Lencho to the Firm
  10. Congress Makes History and Changes the CBD Game for Good
  11. Pernicious Practices (stuff we see that will get folks in trouble!) Today’s Rant – Bill & Hold
  12. CBD: An Exciting New Fall Schedule… or Not?
  13. MISSISSIPPI RISING - A VICTORY FOR LEGAL RETAILER TO CONSUMER SALES, AND PASSAGE OF TITLE UNDER THE UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE
  14. California ABC's Cannabis Advisory - Not Just for Stoners
  15. NEW CALIFORNIA WARNINGS FOR ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES AND CANNABIS PRODUCTS TAKE EFFECT AUGUST 30, 2018, NOW INCLUDING ADDENDUM REGARDING 2014 CONSENT AGREEMENT PARTIES AND PARTICIPANTS
  16. National Conference of State Liquor Administrators – The Alcohol Industry gathers in Hawaii to figure out how to enforce the US “Highly Archaic Regulatory Scheme.”
  17. Founder John Hinman Honored with the Raphael House Community Impact Award
  18. ROUTE TO MARKET AND MARKETING RESTRICTIONS - NAVIGATING REGULATORY SYSTEM CONSTRAINTS
  19. Alcohol and Cannabis Ventures: Top 5 Legal Considerations
  20. ATF and TTB: Is Another Divorce on the Horizon? What’s Going on with the Agency?
  21. STRIKE 3 - YOU REALLY ARE OUT! THE ABC'S STRICT APPLICATION OF PENALTIES FOR SALES TO MINORS
  22. TTB Temporarily Fixes Problem with Fulfillment Warehouse Tax Credits - an “Alternate Procedure” for Paying Taxes & Reporting
  23. CUSTOMERS WHO HAVE HAD ONE TOO MANY - THE FREE TRANSPORTATION DILEMMA
  24. The Renaissance of Federal Unfair Trade Practices - Current Issues and Strategies
  25. ‘Twas the week before New Year’s and the ABC is out in Force – Alerts for the Last Week of 2017, including the Limits on Free Rides
  26. Big Bottles, Caviar and a CA Wine Strong Silent Auction for the Holidays!
  27. The FDA and the Wine and Spirits Industry – Surprise inspections anyone?
  28. NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES: UPDATED REGULATORY AGENCY DISASTER RELIEF RESOURCES AT A GLANCE
  29. NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES: REGULATORY AGENCY DISASTER RELIEF RESOURCES AT A GLANCE
  30. Soon to come to your Local Supermarket– Instant Redeemable Coupons of the digital age!
  31. The License Piggyback Dilemma – If it Sounds Too Good to be True, it Probably is
  32. A timely message from our Florida colleagues on the tied house laws, the three-tier system and the need for reform
  33. ABC Declaratory Rulings – A Modest Proposal Whose Time has Come
  34. More on FDA Inspections - Breweries, Distilleries and Questions
  35. WHY THE FDA IS INSPECTING WINERIES
  36. Senate Bill 378—The Proposed Demise of Due Process for Alcohol Licensees
  37. ABC Enforcement - Trends and Predictions
  38. The Corruption Chronicles – Volume One: A New Hope
  39. New Alcohol Delivery Oversight on the Horizon
  40. Michigan: Canary in the DtC Coal Mine?
  41. California ABC and Federal Credit Laws – Active Enforcement and Lots of Questions!
  42. Big Bottles For The Holidays - The Highest Calling Of The Winemaker's Art
  43. FINAL COMMENTS TO TTB NOTICE 160 DUE ON WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 7TH – WE ARE ASKING THE TTB TO EXTEND THE COMMENT PERIOD AGAIN TO ALLOW FOR INDUSTRY NEGOTIATION AND ALIGNMENT OF INTERESTS
  44. SONOMA COUNTY WINERY USE PERMITS, EVENT RESTICTIONS AND DTC
  45. New TTB Labeling Requirement Regulations: Out-of-State Bottling Is Not Created Equal and Consumers Right to Know Where the Grapes in their Wine Come from is Compromised
  46. Isn't A Written Agreement With A Distributor Worthless In A Franchise State?
  47. Crowd Funding for Alcohol Producers and Retailers – Down the Rabbit Hole with the Tied House laws
  48. Everything you ever wanted to know about the BPA Warning Statement but were afraid to ask
  49. AB 2082 - A Hunting License for Police and a Lethal Weapon for Politicians that Deprives Licensees of Currently Available Due Process Rights
  50. “Better Late Than Never”-- Judge in Illinois Dismisses 201 Sales Tax Cases against Retailers
  51. The Day the Music Almost Died: The Story of the BottleRock ABC Accusations, the ABC Appeals Board and a Victory for a Common Sense Interpretation of the Tied House Laws
  52. The Arsenic in Wine Class Action Dismissal – what it means
  53. Counterfeit or Artisanal Mexican Spirits? Pick your Poison, or your lime wedge
  54. Warning - CA ABC enforcement teams are on the prowl this weekend!
  55. RELIEF AT LAST! ILLINOIS MOVES TO FIX THE SALES TAX LAWSUITS AGAINST OUT-OF-STATE SELLERS BUT PROPOSES TO PENALIZE WINERIES AND RETAILERS THAT SHIP WITHOUT PERMITS
  56. The TTB Speaks on Category Management or, be Careful What you Ask for Because you might Get it!
  57. Hinman & Carmichael LLP Announces the Addition of Jeremy Siegel to its team of top beverage law lawyers
  58. 2016 LEGISLATIVE UPDATES: Part IV
  59. 2016 LEGISLATIVE UPDATES: Part III
  60. 2016 LEGISLATIVE UPDATES: Part II
  61. 2016 LEGISLATIVE UPDATES: Part I
  62. Hinman & Carmichael LLP is Hiring!
  63. John Hinman Presents NBI Webinar on Basics of Alcohol Beverage Law
  64. ABC DISMISSES SAVE MART GRAPE ESCAPE ACCUSATION BUT REFUSES TO ADOPT JUDGE’S DECISION FINDING NO STRICT LIABILITY FOR ABC VIOLATIONS
  65. Speakeasies are still with us, and proliferating!
  66. The War for the Soul of Sonoma County – the Winery Working Group Battle
  67. Santa Claus isn’t the only one coming to town this Christmas!
  68. Arizona's Direct to Consumer Shipping Rules - An Exercise in Complexity
  69. AB 780 - Social Media and the ABC: The California Legislative “Fix” that Fails
  70. Illinois Finally Offers Certainty and Relief for Victims of Sales Tax Lawsuits, but Prompt Action is Required in Pending Cases
  71. A Modest Proposal – Adopt the federal rule on Tied-House liability in California
  72. The Grapes Escaped - Why the First Amendment Matters
  73. Appellate Court Ruling Strikes Blow Against State’s Arbitrary Beer Label Ban
  74. Illinois Attorney General's Office Announces Intention to Dismiss False Claims Act Against Liquor Retailers
  75. Commercial Speech And Alcoholic Beverages - Part III
  76. Commercial Speech And Alcoholic Beverages - Part II
  77. Craft Beverages: Social Media Marketing the Effective and Compliant Way
  78. Commercial Speech And Alcoholic Beverages - Part I
  79. A LAYPERSON LOOKS AT ARSENIC IN WINE
  80. The Biggest Retailer in the World vs. the TABC
  81. Rebecca Stamey-White presents Emerging Issues in Wine Law
  82. Top Beverage Alcohol Law Firm Adds and Elevates Partners
  83. Illinois Qui Tam Lawsuits—Private Enforcement Of a State Claim: A Bonanza For A Plaintiff’s Lawyer And A Rip-Off Of Retailers
  84. BOOZE RULES OF SOCIAL MEDIA: The Retailer Right to Pay Exception
  85. LIONS AND TIGERS AND TWEETS, OH MY!
  86. AB 2004: Brewer's Incremental Parity with Wine Makers
  87. Expanding, Proud Of It, and Wanting to Tell the World
  88. DC Weighs in Strongly on Third Party Marketer Delivery Services
  89. “Visual Links” between Beer, Wine and Spirits Labels and Retailers Ruled Unlawful in California — the tied house laws run amok
  90. Hard Cider Legislative Update
  91. New Marketing Model for New York – Lot 18 and the NYSLA
  92. Sweeping Changes in Proposed NYSLA Bill Include Expansion for Craft
  93. Minimum Resale Price Policies - How to Control Price-Cutters
  94. AB 2130 – Gloves Off?
  95. “Gluten-Free” Labels for Wine, Beer and Distilled Spirits. We’re Still Waiting.
  96. AB 1252: Sanitation Overkill?
  97. Growlers: Not Just for Beer Anymore
  98. California Legislative Roundup 2014
  99. Build It and They Will Come: Craft Products Get New Privileges in CA and TX
  100. AB 1128: Veto of the “Serve a Minor” Felony Penalty Bill, or How to Lose a Winery in One Sale