Postseason Grades: Francisco Peguero

Today on Covefficient, outfielder Francisco Peguero.

Frankie Pegs has been taunting Giants prospect mavens since his signing as an international free agent in 2005, at the tender age of 17. That bat speed! That athleticism! That gradually improving strikeout rate! THOSE TOOLS! Of course, the annals of every minor-league system are full of Toolsy Prospects who just could never put it together, and at the age of 25, Peguero is approaching his sell-by date.

He’s retained that bat speed, and while he doesn’t have true home run power, the ability to get around on a major-league fastball is sometimes enough to distinguish a hitting prospect. Unfortunately, in a year that might’ve seen Peguero log some noticeable major-league time thanks to Pagan’s injury and the inconsistency of the Blorres platoon, a concussion and a shoulder bruise limited his playing time, and he ended up with only 30 MLB PAs to go with less than 300 in Fresno.

Frankie didn’t look completely overmatched in the majors, swatting his first home run in the final game of the season (off a tough righty, even!) and limiting himself to two strikeouts with capable corner defense in his few chances. But he also displayed the limitations of how far tools can take you; most of his PAs resulted in groundout and he didn’t distinguish himself on the basepaths. In AAA, he had a .316 batting average but not much else, striking out four times as often as he walked and not posting any power numbers to speak of, a dangerous sign in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

Verdict: As a right-handed hitter with the athleticism to fill in at center field, Peguero has an outside shot at filling the Giants’ 5th outfield spot in 2014; then again, he had the same shot in 2013 and lost it with a poor showing in spring training. (We’ll save discussion on the Giants’ tendency to evaluate players by their ST performances for some other time.) With Juan Perez as competition for the right-handed backup OF spot, Peguero could also end up as trade bait for a team hoping to capitalize on his tools. He turns 26 halfway through next season, and while he’s not over the hill yet, after eight professional season what you see with Frankie Pegs – high contact, reasonable defense, some stolen bases, and not much else – is probably what you’re going to get.

Grades:
Reuben: C-
Nathan: C
Britt: C
Overall: C

Postseason Grades: Ehire Adrianza

Our Postseason Grades series continues as Reuben takes a look at up-and-coming shortstop Ehire Adrianza.

It’s kind of weird to think about, but for a while Adrianza was considered a better prospect than Brandon Crawford. 18 months younger and lacking anything resembling power, he nevertheless dogged Craw’s heels throughout the minors thanks to a much lower strikeout rate, impressive footspeed, and a glove generally perceived to be even better. His likely path to the majors is similar – hit just enough to not be a total embarrassment, and make up for it by hoovering every ground ball in his general zip code.

Adrianza spent most of the year on Richmond’s AA squad doing a Manny Burriss impression at the plate. Upon promotion to Fresno, he posted numbers that, while strong even by the standards of the hitterish Pacific Coast League (Fangraphs grants him a 130 wRC+, or 30% better than the average PCL hitter), were inflated by a .391 BABIP and six triples* in 145 ABs. Either way, it was enough for a cup of coffee.

(*Not to knock Ehire, but minor-league triples can bear a suspicious resemblance to Little League inside-the-parkers.)

20 PAs and 45 defensive innings isn’t much to rate, but this play to nail Yasiel “Large Hadron Supercollider” Puig provided a good example of Adrianza’s defensive capabilities – great first step, good range, hellacious throwing arm. He also hit a dinger to ruin Andy Pettite’s last start in Yankee Stadium, so he’s got that going for him. Great defense, above-average speed, not much at the plate, fluky power in a hitter’s park – 9 games of Ehire Adrianza writ small. And hey, he’s already matched Burriss for career homers, so if you set that as a baseline his future looks bright.

Verdict: Ehire made no great strides, but didn’t go backwards. His total lack of pop might condemn him to a future as a utility infielder in the Cliff Pennington mold; then again, in today’s ballgame, Zack Cosart and Alcides Escobar are starting shortstops for conceivable contenders. (Of course, so’s Pete Kozma). Only 24 to start the 2014 season, he should be back in Fresno trying to develop that “keep-pitchers-honest” kind of power and maybe honing his glovework at 2nd and 3rd if the Giants think he’s more likely to help the big club in a reserve role.

Grades:
Reuben: B-
Nathan: B
Britt: B-
Overall: B-

Why We Watch Them Play The Games

On May 31st, 1964, the Giants and the Mets had a doubleheader scheduled in Shea Stadium, and thus started playing baseball sometime early in the day. Apart from the break between games, they didn’t stop playing baseball until early the next morning; the second game went on for a recorded 7 hours and 23 minutes, ending in the bottom of the 23rd with an 8-6 Giants victory. Gaylord Perry got the win for his ten innings of shutout baseball, which began in the 13th. Willie Mays went 1 for 10 with a walk. I believe it’s this season that Kevin Goldstein popularized the #weirdbaseball hashtag on twitter for late-night, extra-inning games. This was #freakishbaseball, or possibly #Dadaistbaseball.

Of course, I have no personal familiarity with this game. What I do know is that my grandfather, who has never really been into baseball at all, had to work the next morning when the game started, and had to work that morning by the time it ended. He didn’t get much sleep, though, because Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons were talking several feet from his head. According to him and my grandmother, she listened to all twenty-three innings of that game, and likely added her own commentary throughout.

I’m incredibly unqualified to comment on what makes a successful marriage, but I understand that there are times that you just have to grin and bear it. I’d guess that by, oh, the fifteenth inning or so, my grandfather might’ve realized this was one of those times. There was no turning that game off. They’d gone too far, and Theresa Poling was not about to quit before her Giants did. And her persistence was rewarded with a victory (not to mention a bonus Gaylord Perry complete game shutout and then some.) Continue reading

NLCS Game Recap: A Speculative Narrative On Barry Zito

Barry Zito does his best Powder imitation. (Photo by Sara Showalter)

A thoroughly hypothetical work, with apologies to Mr. Zito for the undoubted inaccuracies. I freely admit to being one of the many doubters mentioned a couple times in this piece, and to that, I can only say “Way to shut me the hell up.”

 

So you’re a big-league baseball player – already an achievement, at any level. You’re one of the elite, one of the best few hundred people on the planet at doing what you do. And then to be a starting pitcher? That’s practically mythological. The few, the proud, standing on center stage, every move dissected. In the parlance of baseball, you win and lose the game.

And as it turns out, even among the best of the best, you are on another level. You’re part of one of the game’s great rotations, contending year in and year out, and in one glorious year, you are awarded the title of Best Pitcher In Your League. Hundreds of people pitched thousands of baseball games that year. According to the professionals of the sport, you were better than any of them; maybe just as good as one other guy. What a rush that must be for you. What a mountain you’ve climbed. And of course, that comes with other rewards. Continue reading

NLCS Game Recap: We Have Met The Enemy, And He Is A Goon

Ryan Vogelsong don’t give no cares. (Flickr/Dinur)

The 2010 Giants fought their way to the NLCS, only to come up against unstoppable killing machine Roy Halladay, the greatest pitcher in baseball. They had no chance to match the Phillies’ powerhouse offense. Then Cody Ross snuck up behind Halladay and beaned him with a fistful of quarters.

Those same Giants somehow managed to make it to the World Series, where they were met by Cliff Lee, an invincible demigod of postseason pitching. Pundits speculated on what miracle it would take for the Giants to win 4 of 5, as they obviously had no chance in either game against Lee. The Giants’ entire offense mugged Lee in a stairwell, and then when he came back for another round Edgar Renteria was waiting. Continue reading

Giants Recap: Two Weird-Lookin Fellas Do Just Fine In Texas

You can’t take anything in baseball for granted. Literally, anything. A projectile small than an adult’s closed fist is being hurled at velocities well exceeding the automobile speed limit and then bounced around thousands of square feet of space occupied by nine fragile sacks of meat and bone piloted by a mysterious chemical concoction. Really, once you’ve spent enough time considering the convoluted track of evolution and conditioning necessary to produce Hunter Pence, it’s no stretch at all to think “Yeah, of course the Astros could beat the Giants this year. Weirder things have happened.

But if ever there was a chance for a sweep, this series was it. So thank all that’s holy that the Giants cashed that chance in, especially after a game that looked Belisario ugly in the opening innings. Ryan Vogelsong hasn’t been Vogelsongian lately – or rather, he’s been an entirely different kind of Vogelsongian, one hopefully consigned to the dustbin of history – and one hopes that he’ll regain that potent combination of movement and location on his fastball.

That said, if there’s a single pitcher on the Giants’ roster who will just slam himself into the wall (figuratively speaking) as many times as it takes to fix whatever is broken, it’s Vogelsong. Hell, he struck out seven in six innings tonight, which is a good sign of putting it back together after the Zitonian beginning. He got the win! Continue reading

Giants Recap: Duel of the Fates

Madison Bumgarner: nice to children, but not the Dodger children. (Photo: imovermyhead/Flickr)

I’m going to start you off with a mind-blowing piece of trivia from the always-excellent Giants Nirvana:

Holy crap, people. Holy crap. We are living in an age of baseball wonders, and two of those wonders are Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner. Kershaw, of course, is an unspeakable creature of Mordor, with nothing but spite and bile in his heart, as with all Dodgers. But the man can pitch, and pitch he did, contributing his half of the twenty strikeouts and making Buster Posey in particular look pretty silly. It was going to take a miraculous effort to scratch anything across, and while we’ll come back to that in a second, the corollary was that the inexplicably functional Dodgers offense was going to have to be shut down.

And right on cue, Madison Bumgarner. 23-years-old, walking less than two batters a game this season, and spending the dawn of his career casually working the inside corner against right-handed hitters like it ain’t no thang. Tonight, if there was a thang, it was nowhere within Bumgarner’s vicinity. He pounded the corners with his fastball, jammed hitters into feeble groundouts, and relied mostly on an absolutely murderous slider (with even more movement than usual, it seemed) to get nine swinging strikeouts. There was also a strikeout looking, too. It was Hanley Ramirez (on a slider that didn’t dive into the dirt!). That’s never not funny. Continue reading

Giants Recap: Rumble

(Photo: cal_gecko/Flickr)

A couple years ago, the Giants had owned the neighborhood. Street corners, front stoops, the drive-in, the drug-store, the YMCA; wherever you went in the West Side, if you saw a fella coming in black and orange, you stepped lively out of his way. Buster had moved in then, in those glory days, and by the time he’d been there two months his girl was wearing a black leather jacket and his beat-up old jalopy had Giants spray-painted on the hood. He didn’t so much fit in as take over, and even if he wasn’t exactly the leader by name, everyone knew he was the guy. Someone had to be the guy, and Buster was it.

Even the rumble with the Fish didn’t really stop him. Sure, it was an ugly year on the West Side; Buster was in and out of the doc’s while one by one, the guys who’d welcomed him into the gang dropped off the face of the earth. It got too hot around the neighborhood for Cody’s old man or Andres’s girl, and Pat shocked them all by going off to college (though the word was he had a social disease and just wanted a new pool of girls). Aubrey hung around, but he was kind of a mess, too old to rumble and too young to really figure out his life. So when Buster finally got off his crutches and came back to the block, it was just him and the lifers – Timmy pushing tea on the corners, cool-headed Matt who was in charge if anyone was, Madison still daring people to ask him if he had a girl’s name, and the rest. Continue reading

Giants Recap: Entire Giants Lineup Gives Rockies Reasonable Amount Of What-for

Matt Cain because Matt Cain. (Photo: rocor/Flickr)

On any day where the Giants’ offense does reasonably well, usually there’s a hitter of the game or two to talk about – the guy who got on base 4 times, the guy who hit an RBI single at just the right time, the guy who got a splash homer if the Giants ever manage to do that again, and so on. Today was weird. Everyone contributed, getting on base and hitting with runners in scoring position. I think the entire starting lineup besides Cain scored at least once. Nobody really had a monster game, but the Giants combined into a Voltron of competence, and it turns out that when everyone in your lineup hits a baseball pretty good, the results are kinda awesome.

So let’s talk about Matt Cain. Going into this start, Cain’s numbers since El Perfecto were not Cain-like. 6.3 innings per start, which is good; 46 K/16 BB, which is less good but actually right in line with his career numbers pre-2012; and a .790 OPS against and 4.4 ERA, which is pretty crappy. 10 dingers was the weird, scary key here. Between his pitching and the Giants’ hitting in the mid-2000s, it took Matt Cain two full seasons in MLB before he understood what a home run was. Suddenly he’s giving them up like Armando Benitez in Coors Field on the moon. Has Matt Cain’s dinger-suppression luck run out? you had to ask yourself. Continue reading