Matt Duffy Is Doing Everything He Can to Take Casey McGehee’s Job

Posted May 13, 2015 by Burly
Categories: San Francisco Giants, Uncategorized

Matt Duffy‘s five RBIs today were the most by a rookie since Buster Posey‘s six on July 7, 2010.  He’s an 18th round draft pick that just keeps on giving.  Buster should give Duffy a lot of guff for failing to tie him, but he should promise a dinner at the finest restaurant if Duffy ties or beats his record later this year.

Casey McGehee has had a brutal first 30+ games, and Duffy is so much younger, 24 to 32.  Duffy has certainly hit better this season whenever he’s been able to play consecutive full games.

In short, I can”t see any reason not to play regularly except to give McGehee some at-bats and did give Duffy a day off.  Duffy might really amount to something if he gets to play regularly now.

Barry Bonds Preparing Grievance Case against MLB

Posted May 13, 2015 by Burly
Categories: San Francisco Giants, Baseball History

According to, Barry Bonds is preparing a grievance against MLB for black-listing him after the 2007 season, now that his conviction for obstruction of justice has been overturned.

I’ve long believed that MLB colluded against Bonds because under any other circumstances at least one team would have made an offer in some amount to Bonds given the level of offense he was still capable of providing.  He was the poster-boy for MLB’s steroids era, but he was hardly the only one, and a lot of the other juicers went right on playing with nothing more than damage to their reputations and future Hall of Fame chances.

A lot of water is under the bridge and after almost eight years it may be quite a bit more difficult to marshal the evidence to prove collusion.  It also goes without saying that every single team exec called to testify will say that they made the decision that Bonds wasn’t right for their team.  You’d have to have someone from management who has become disaffected to spill the beans that Bud Selig or some other top MLB official told teams not to offer a contract to Bonds and that the witness personally heard these statements.  Sounds like a tall order to me.

What about Cody Ross?

Posted May 7, 2015 by Burly
Categories: Arizona Diamond Backs, Oakland A's, San Francisco Giants

It’s no secret that the San Francisco Giants’ offense sucks this season.  Meanwhile, the A’s just cut loose veteran right-handed hitting outfielder Cody Ross after a poor start.

Why don’t the Giants sign Ross to a minor league deal with a 40 or 50 day opt out, so that the Giants can send Ross to AAA Sacramento to play every day and see if he’s got anything left?

Ross and the Giants caught lightning in a bottle in 2010, and while it’s a lot less likely now that he’ll get hot again than it was five years ago, the Giants could use another right-handed hitting outfielder with power.  Besides, if he plays 25 or 30 games at AAA Sacramento, it costs the Giants essentially nothing since the Diamondbacks are still on the hook for almost all of his 2015 season.

Seems like a win-win deal all around, since the odds of any other team giving Ross a major league deal at this moment seem slim.

Is Madison Bumgarner Already the Greatest Left-Hander in San Francisco Giants History?

Posted April 29, 2015 by Burly
Categories: Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants

Madison Bumgarner again out-dueled Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw last night in Los Angeles.  MadBum’s victory got me thinking whether or not it is time to anoint him the title of the Greatest Left-Handed Pitcher in San Francisco Giants’ History, particularly in light of the fact that the San Francisco team has always had tremendous difficulty in developing ace left-handers.

After looking into this question further, I have concluded not yet, but very soon, unless Bumgarner is unexpectedly traded or suffers a career-ending injury.

The following is a list of the left-handers with the most wins as San Francisco Giants with their won-loss records:

Kirk Rueter  105-80

Mike McCormick  104-94

Gary Lavelle  73-67, 127 saves

Vida Blue 72-58

Madison Bumgarner 69-50

Shawn Estes 69-50

Barry Zito 63-80

Atlee Hammaker 58-59

Ron Bryant 57-55

Billy O’Dell  56-49

Bob Knepper 53-55

At this moment I rank the Greatest San Francisco Giants Left-Handers as follows:

1. Mike McCormick.  He led the NL in ERA in 1960 and won the Cy Young Award as an SF Giant in 1967.  At this point, I think he’s still too many SF Giants career wins ahead of Bumgarner for MadBum to be No. 1.

2.  Madison Bumgarner.

3.  Kirk Rueter  A terrific career won-loss record, but he was never the team’s No. 1 starter in his long SF Giants’ career.

4.  Gary Lavelle.  Clearly the best left-handed reliever in SF Giants history, Lavelle pitched more than 100 innings in five different seasons as a Giant, which allows him to compete with the top starters in terms of value, as reflected by the fact that only two left-handers have more career wins as an SF Giant.

5.  Vida Blue.  Vida’s great hurrah for the SF Giants was his first half in 1978 when he started the season 16-4, had the team unexpectedly out in front in the NL West and started the All-Star Game for the Senior Circuit.  Vida cooled off badly in the second half, and so did the rest of the team, ultimately losing the division title to the hated Dodgers.

6.  Shawn Estes.  Estes is remembered as a disappointment, because he had only one great season (1997 when he went 19-5 with a 3.18 ERA) at the beginning of his major league career.  However, he was great that one season and finished his Giants’ career with an impressive won-loss record, at least in comparison to other San Francisco Giants’ left-handers.

7.  Ron Bryant.  Bryant also had only one great year (1973 when he went 24-12 and finished 3rd in the NL Cy Young voting) after which he blew out his arm.  However, Bryant was also good in 1972.

8.  Billy O’Dell.  O’Dell went 19-14 for the 1962 World Series team and also had a good year in 1963.

9.  Atlee Hammaker.  Famously remembered as never being the same after the 1983 All-Star game in which he got hammered, Hammaker actually threw four more high quality starts in the second half of the season before his arm gave out.

10.  Bob Knepper.  Knepper was 10-5 at the 1978 All-Star Break and finished the season 17-11.  Knepper and Blue will always hold a certain place in my heart because 1978 was the year I really became a Giants fan.

11.  Barry Zito.  If salaries are factored into the rankings, Zito would certainly rank even lower.  However, he deserves a place on my list solely by virtue of his 2012 post-season performance.

12.  Jeremy Affeldt. Now in his seventh season as a Giant, Affeldt’s career numbers as an SF Giants (15-17 record, 10 saves) says a lot about how much the job of relief pitching has changed since Gary Lavelle’s era.

In Giants’ franchise history, there is still no doubt that Carl Hubbell was the Greatest Left-Hander.    For Madison Bumgarner to make a case for the franchise title, he’ll have to spend almost his entire career with the Giants and be exceptionally healthy in the second half of his career.

Josh Hamilton and Kris Bryant

Posted April 25, 2015 by Burly
Categories: Anaheim Angels, Chicago Cubs, Miami Marlins, Texas Rangers

Rumor has the Angels trading Josh Hamilton to the Rangers in exchange for taking $15 million of the remaining $83 million owed to him.  Hamilton back in Texas sounds just about ideal for everyone.  There was a rumor of Shin-soo Choo going to the Angels, which would also make a certain amount of sense, given the large number of Korean Americans in greater Los Angeles and his incredibly poor performance in Dallas/Ft. Worth so far.  However, this rumor has disputed by at least one source.

Apparently the MLB Players Association has waited a few days before asking Kris Bryant whether he wants to bring a grievance regarding be kept in the minors for eight games and eleven days to the start the season so that the Cubs could hold on to his rights for one more year even though he was clearly ready to be promoted for Opening Day.

I couldn’t find anything in the MLBPA Basic Agreement regarding this situation, and the Basic Agreement contains the following reservation of rights clause in favor of the owners:  “Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to restrict the rights of the Clubs to manage and direct their operations in any manner whatsoever except as specifically limited by the terms of this Agreement.”

If the contract is silent regarding the teams’ rights to make decisions unilaterally regarding when they elect to promote the player, then teams should have the right to make these decisions unilaterally under the reservation of rights clause.  It’s also been reported there haven’t been any previous arbitration decisions under the basic agreement addressing this issue.  Thus, it looks like the owners would win in arbitration.

There’s also something to be said for Bryant trying to get along with the team with which he has to spend the next almost seven seasons.  It’s obvious already that Bryant and his agent Scott Boras won’t be giving the Cubs any bargains here on out; and they will have four, instead of the usual three, rounds of salary arbitration, which could be very expensive for the Cubs if Bryant decides to go year to year or forces the Cubs to give him an extension topping what the Marlins gave to Giancarlo Stanton.

I certainly won’t feel bad if Bryant sticks it to the Cubbies if he develops the way it looks like he will.

As a final related note, I can’t see how leaving Bryant in the minors for eight games reasonably could have cost the Cubs more than one game in the standings.  The Cubs went 5-3 before promoting Bryant and only one of those three losses was by fewer than three runs. Unless the Cubs miss the playoffs or fail to escape the one-game wildcard by a single win, leaving Bryant in the minors won’t have hurt the Cubs any.

Thoughts from Here and There

Posted April 22, 2015 by Burly
Categories: Arizona Diamond Backs, Baseball Abroad, Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals

The Yomiuri Giants today signed former Milwaukee Brewer and Toronto Blue Jay Juan Francisco for 140 million yen (approx. $1.17 million).  Those of you who read this blog with any regularity know that I love to write about the the North American players Japanese NPB teams recruit.

On the plus side, Francisco is age 28 this season, which is just about the ideal age for North American 4-A rookies in NBB, and he’s got MLB class power and significant MLB experience, two things NPB teams covet and value.  On the down side, Francisco strikes out a god-awful lot, and NPB pitchers know how to work the larger NPB strike zone nearly as well as MLB pitchers work the MLB strike zone.  Also, Francisco can’t hit left-handed pitching, which will hurt him tremendously as an every day player in Japan, since NPB teams don’t pay foreigners $1 million-plus to be excellent platoon players.

Francisco is certainly worth the risk for an NPB team, but NPB teams don’t fully appreciate Russell Branyon-type players, which is what I think Juan will be in Japan, as I would expect his performance to be something very similar to Dan Johnson‘s 2009 season for the Yokohama Bay Stars.

Carlos Rondon’s first appearance for the White Sox tonight was kind of what I expected — Rondon still needs to improve his command after only 34.1 minor league innings pitched.  How quickly Rondon shows major league command is essentially how quickly he establishes himself as a major league star, since the stuff is clearly there.

The St. Louis Cardinals designated former Giants’ 1st round draft pick Gary Brown for assignment today in order to clear a space on the 40-man roster after a brutal start at AAA Memphis.  Brown, who hasn’t amounted, at least so far, to even a major league bench player, has to rank as one of the worst 1st round draft picks of recent Giants’ memory.  My guess is he clears waivers with room to spare.

Former Giants’ middle infield hopefuls Emmanuel Burriss and Kevin Frandsen are still hanging around, with Burriss apparently erroneously reported to be promoted to the Washington Nationals a couple  of days ago (he hasn’t played in the majors since 2012) and with Frandsen just having signed a minor league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.  My heart has a soft spot for long-term marginal major leaguers; they eke out their careers and never make the truly big money, but they have their moments and leave some fairly long columns in the record books.

For that matter, John Bowker is back in the Giants’ organization toiling for the AAA Sacramento River Cats this season.  He’s not looking like he’s got a whole lot left at an old 31, but the season is still young.


No Way to Start the Season

Posted April 18, 2015 by Burly
Categories: San Francisco Giants

The San Francisco Giants have lost eight in a row and now have the second worst record in MLB, with only the Brewers off to a worse start.

The team isn’t hitting, and the Giants don’t have a whole lot of options to improve in the near term.  Adam Duvall is off to a fine start at AAA Sacramento, posting a 1.172 OPS in nine games, but the only position he can reasonably play at the major league level is 1B.  While Brandon Belt is off to a brutally bad start, you have to figure that Belt will start hitting eventually, and that it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to take significant playing time away from Belt to get Duvall in the line-up.  Belt needs a couple of days off, but not more than that, unless he’s hurt and hasn’t been telling anyone.

The only bright spot in the Giants’ young season so far is the emergence of Matt Duffy as a major league player.  As an 18th round draft pick out of a major college program (Long Beach State) it’s safe to say that nobody considered him to be much more than a minor league roster-filler.  Now, if Duffy keeps playing the way he has so far, it’s going to be tough for the Giants to take his bat out of the line-up to play Casey McGehee now that the latter’s bone bruise has healed.


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