Kickham To Make Big League Debut in Tuesday Start

Per the Giants’ official Twitter and the usual assortment of media folks, lefty Mike Kickham has been tapped to take over the vacated rotation spot left by Ryan Vogelsong’s injury. Kickham, who has been with Fresno so far this season, will join the team on Monday and will make his first start against the Jarrod Parker led A’s on Tuesday evening. A corresponding roster move has not yet been announced.

Kickham, a 2010 sixth round pick, is another “country strong” lefty that the Giants have tended to favor. While not a hugely overpowering pitcher, he does have average to above-average velocity with a low 90s fastball, as well as a slider that was ranked as the best in the organization by Baseball America.

Anyone who knows me knows that I was on board as soon as somebody said slider. Hopefully I’m proven right.

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Don’t Panic, And a Look Back at This Date in 2012

Don't Panic. See, the button even says it. // image Jim Linwood via flickr

Don’t Panic. See, the button even says it. // image Jim Linwood via flickr

On May 1, 2012, the Giants were 12-11, four and a half games back of the first place Dodgers and in fourth place, with a run differential of +3.

Today, May 1, 2013, the Giants are 15-12, just one game back of the first place Rockies and tied with the Diamondbacks, and a game and a half up on the fourth place Dodgers, with a run differential of +4.

From another angle, through 27 games in 2012, the Giants were 13-14, five games back of the first place Dodgers with Arizona and Colorado just half a game behind, a +2 run differential, and just one win removed from fourth place, a negative run differential, and a four game losing streak after being swept at home by the Marlins. The Marlins. I was at the last game of that series and it was pretty miserable, let me tell you.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the Giants are somehow guaranteed to have the season go their way because they’re a bit better off than they were at this time last year. As we should all be painfully aware by now, baseball is strange, unpredictable, sometimes cruel, and basically always capricious. Everything could click into place, mechanical issues and nagging injuries could resolve themselves, and the Giants could go on to win 100+ games, or the bottom could fall out and they could end up missing the playoffs, there’s no way to know right now. But that’s exactly the point, there’s basically no way to know right now. This time last year Angel Pagan looked like he might never hit again and that he was an awful fit for the lead-off spot without any obvious replacement, most of us were still quietly praying that none of Buster Posey’s limbs fell off, and Pablo Sandoval was about to miss yet another month-plus with his second hamate fracture in as many years. And yet, the t-shirt currently sitting next to me in a pile of laundry waiting to be folded tells me that the Giants went on to win the division comfortably and then win the World Series.

Am I expecting the Giants to win the World Series again? Not expecting, no. Repeating is incredibly hard and there are so many things that have to go right that it would be the height of arrogance and probably delusion to be certain. But saying that I’m as close to certain as is reasonable that they’ll have a good season? That I’m comfortable doing. Be frustrated when they play like they’re literally wearing clown shoes and trying to catch the ball with one of those plastic squirty flowers, wonder what mechanical glitch is causing Matt Cain to periodically go all dingerpalooza on us after pitching well for a few innings, but the panicking, hair tearing out, shrieking, wailing, lighting yourself on fire and walking into traffic level I’ve seen from some quarters lately just makes me sad. Not for the team, because I really do believe the team is going to be fine. Matt Cain will figure himself out, Buster Posey is being Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford is inexplicably also being Buster Posey, Pablo’s looking svelter to the general public with each murdered baseball and diving stop, and Madison Bumgarner is slidering and cuttering and sluttering the competition into small pieces on the regular. Hell, for that matter, Tim Lincecum is looking more like someone you don’t cringe at the thought of taking the ball and Hunter Pence seems to be swinging it better with his moulting cycle finished and his new carapace in place. But it makes me sad that people aren’t able to enjoy any of the good or interesting things because they’re so busy rending their garments.

There are good things afoot, but only if you don’t panic.

April Numbers and You: Care and Feeding of Early Season Statistics

Okay you shouldn't feel bad, but you should reevaluate methods and reassess your conclusions probably.

Okay you shouldn’t feel bad, but you should reevaluate methods and reassess your conclusions probably.

If you’re an analytically inclined baseball fan, April truly is the cruelest month. Okay so yeah, I admit that T.S. Eliot wasn’t actually talking about the month (or more) long battle of wills between people quoting month (sometimes only weeks) long data samples as if they mean something and the people screaming “small sample size!” into the yawning void. That said, it can be difficult to know when the “roots that clutch” are solid enough to start to trust what the statistics are telling you, but we (and some much smarter people from other parts of the internets), are here to help.

There are a few key things to understand about advanced metrics, especially early in the year. Continue reading

Buster Posey: Giant For Life (Or Close To It)

We'll be seeing a lot more of this. (Image via the fine folks at McCovey Chronicles.)

We’ll be seeing a lot more of this. (Image via the fine folks at McCovey Chronicles.)

Just read that headline folks. Soak it in. Revel in it. Maybe roll around in it like it’s some sort of really good smelling bubble bath. Buster Posey is ours and will be for a good long time.

Per the Giants via Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News (as well as all the usual suspects), Posey and the Giants have agreed to an eight year, $167M extension beyond the previously negotiated $8M contract for 2013, plus a potential club option for 2022, which would bring the total value of the deal to $189M, not including performance bonuses. The deal also includes a full no-trade clause. The deal was, of course, announced during the annual Playa Ball luncheon while Buster was signing autographs for adorable children, further convincing all of us that he really is a super hero. Has anyone seen him and Captain America in the same place at the same time? I rest my case.

If ever there was a time to feel secure in forking over for one of the really nice jerseys, this is it, folks.

Giants, Sergio Romo Agree to Two-Year Deal

Sergio Romo

Sergio Romo is pretty good at this baseball thing. (image: flickr/Dinur Blum)

According to the usual suspects, the Giants have avoided arbitration with everyone’s favorite pocket-sized frisbee slider machine with a two year deal for an as yet undisclosed amount. Henry Schulman is predicting a 2013 salary in the neighborhood of $3.5M, about the midpoint of the arbitration numbers submitted by both sides, with a 2014 salary in the $5M range, plus incentives. That guess seems reasonable to me, and I’d certainly expect to see incentives both for games finished that would push Romo’s salary closer to comparables for full-time closers (closer to the $10M range) and potentially for innings pitched/games available as well, considering the lingering concerns over his durability.

This post will be updated with specifics of the contract if they become available shortly.

Update: Numbers are now being reported and salary will be $9M over the two years, with $3.5M in 2013 and $5.5M in 2014. No word on any incentives or escalators.

Buster Posey Named National League MVP, Also Possibly Supreme Leader of Everything

Just another day at the office for MVPosey. (Image via the fine folks at McCovey Chronicles.)

Buster Posey is your National League Most Valuable Player, and all is right with the world.

I was prepared for the possibility that he wouldn’t win. Prepared to soothe myself with World Series highlights and the pretty blessed reality that we’ve gotten to see two Cy Youngs, a perfect game, a no-hitter, a Rookie of the Year, and two World Series championships in the past handful of years.

But really, who am I kidding? I wanted this. We all wanted this. Probably more than I’ve wanted some actual things for myself over the years. It’s not often as sports fans that we get to root for someone who is, at least to all appearances and reports, as good a person as he is an on the field talent. We’re in the supremely enviably position of having the best player on the team we root for also be the one we’d most like to have dinner with, the one we’d like our daughter/sister/best friend to date, and the one most likely to respond if we called saying our cat was stuck in a tree. He accepted his award today from a local school in his home town where his mother was putting together a fundraiser, because that’s just what he does. “What, I’m possibly being awarded the MVP today? Well shucks, Mama needs somebody to set up the folding chairs for the bake sale.” Buster Posey, folks.

In conclusion, Buster Posey won the National League Most Valuable Player today, confirming what we’ve known around here for what feels like a very long time.

In Posey we trust.

Giants Recap: Nady, Pence Power to Late Win. Just Like You Drew It Up.

This has been my face for the past hour, minimum.

Tim Lincecum put together yet another off kilter start, the defense was shaky, and I had already made the decision to recap this game with a sarcastic paint graphic by about the sixth inning.

And then Xavier Nady and Hunter Pence hit the first home runs that Huston Street has given up all year and suddenly the Giants won.

Baseball just wanted to remind us all that we shouldn’t get too comfy about our expectations of how games will go, apparently.

Giants Recap: Bochy Tries to Lose. Fails. Buster Posey Does Not.

On the surface, today was your fairly run of the mill baseball game. The Giants won. Zito was acceptable. The outcome wasn’t really all that important in terms of the W-L record, but it was in a number of small ways.

Buster Posey thanks you for helping him protect America from hung breaking balls. (Image via the fine folks at McCovey Chronicles.)

  • Bochy played a round of “how many places can I weaken the defense and still score more runs than the other team”, and he won. This time. Let’s all pray that the parade of less than ideal defensive alignment plus the ever present looming of Bad Zito today was enough to remind Bochy that this team was built around pitching, defense, and speed, and that weakening those, especially in MULTIPLE places, is not a good plan.
  • Buster Posey is now your NL batting title leader*. Whether you think traditional stats are particularly useful or not, you can’t deny that hitting 100 RBI and winning the batting title goes a long way towards his MVP resume in the minds of a lot of voters. (*If you grant that Melky can take himself out of the running for a statistical title and not a voted award, of course.)
  • Matt Cain said he wants another parade. The universe does not deny Matt Cain, so I’m feeling pretty good about the Giants’ chances as they prepare for the NLDS.

The Giants head to Southern California to wrap up their regular season, before (most likely) heading home next week to start their division series against (most likely) the Reds.

Giants Recap: Bullpen Bails Out Zito

Kontos holds it down. (photo: flickr/SD Dirk)

The Giants played the Astros today. There’s probably one guy you’ve heard of who was in today’s lineup. Literally one. He’s the one who has become a unit of measurement. Yeah, that one.

Given that, it’s kind of hard to muster much to say about a game against the Astros, where they sent out arguably their worst starter and the Giants sent out Barry Zito. There was a game. Of baseball. It took nine innings. The Giants won. Yup.

But alright, anyone who follows me on Twitter or has talked to me recently knows of my seat at the front of the George Kontos bandwagon, and today was everything I could have hoped for. 2.2 innings of relief, including getting out of Zito’s jam after he got pulled early, eight up, eight down, and a totally respectable at-bat, all adding up to his first big league win.

Other things of note:

  • Hunter Pence hit a three-run home run, just his second as a Giant
  • Guillermo Mota is back in action after serving his suspension
  • Santiago Casilla looked pretty good
  • lol Zito
  • lol Astros

Giants attempt to avoid avoiding the sweep tomorrow evening with Ryan Vogelsong vs. Jordan Lyles.

Giants Recap: #SweepLA

LA status: Swept

There were many ways this could have gone wrong. The Giants’ seemingly preternatural ability to avoid successfully completing a sweep. Buster Posey’s late scratch with a cranky hamstring, necessitating Hector Sanchez catching Matt Cain for the first time this season. The Dodgers’ general annoying Dodgerness.

But nope. Successful sweep. Successful sweep in LA, no less. Let that be a lesson to ya, Bums. You never when Joaquin Arias is coming for you. Um. Yeah.

Giants finish the night 2.5 games up on the Dodgers and 5.5 up on the Diamondbacks.