SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 15: "Gimme a hug, you amazing and talented ballplayer." "Ah, come on, guy. You're too kind." "I mean it, Melk. You're the tops." "Yeah... I'm pretty great." (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong. What an array of emotions. Brilliance. Crapulence. Confidence.
Ryan Vogelsong is the $20 bill you found in an old pair of jeans you were about to throw away and on a lark you bought a bunch of lottery tickets with that money and one of those lottery tickets was a jackpot. The beat writers talk about how intensely serious he is on the days he pitches. Hank Schulman was on MLB Network Radio sometime this week talking about that and one of the hosts (in a poor attempt at comedy) asked Schulman, "How many bodies do you think he’s got buried in his backyard?" But it was a riff on how serious Schulman portrayed Vogelsong to be. I don’t think there’s any question that it’s paying off. The numbers prove that.
I’m ready to stop talking about how amazing (for baseball) Ryan’s story is and just focus on how dominant he can be. The Mariners’ radio guys were talking about his ability to stay out of the middle of the plate. His pitches cause hitters to use either the tip of their bat or the handle of their bat to make contact. It seems pretty clear that all pitchers are trying to keep the ball off the fat part of the bat, but the way Vogelsong (and, indeed, all the Giants) pitches looks quite deliberately as an attempt to stay at the corners and down. Cutters, sliders, and changeups are great weapons for this strategy and it’s no wonder the pitching staff to a man has either this exact repertoire or some approximation of it (I would say that they don’t all have cutters, but they all have two-seamers). It just works.
That focus has to be – simply has to be – a big part in the equation of Vogelsong’s success. Just because this cannot be verified statistically does not mean it does not exist. Focus and confidence are real. Perhaps one day we’ll be able to measure pitchers biochemically mid-game to get a better read on this. The cliché is that a guy has "figured it out" and has "put it all together." Perhaps Mr. Miyaghetti has played a significant factor in Vogelsong’s revival, but just like we say with hitting coaches and their influence, it ultimately falls to the guy who’s actually playing the game. In a calendar year, Ryan Vogelsong has quickly elevated himself into the conversation as one of the best pitchers in baseball.
And then there’s Melky Cabrera.
I don’t get it. Why do we have to care about Melky Cabrera? Because he’s fantastic? How is this happening? I don’t understand.
About the only positive I could pull out of the Sanchez for Cabrera trade during the offseason was Melky’s age. It makes all sorts of sense to me on an intellectual level that a young person can mature and combine that maturity with their physical talents, so I could not pretend that the deal was not going to work out for the Giants in any way with 100% certainty. But this is still Melky Cabrera. Prior to his "breakout" 2011 with Kansas City, he had an 86 OPS+ in 2,638 plate appearances. Melky. Cabrera.
And now I can’t imagine the Giants’ outfield without Melky Cabrera in it.
My relationship with him is akin to two people in an arranged marriage. I’m learning to love him. To his credit, he’s making it impossible not to love him. Unless you believe people are who they are forever based on what they do from 21-25 years old.
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3 wild pitches by the Mariners tonight. Those were easily the most exciting things that happened for the Mariners tonight.
Lucas Luetge. That’s a fun name to read.
But overall, I don’t "get" the Mariners. Are they playing baseball ironically? Is it like a Skrillex thing and I’m just too old to understand where they’re coming from? And what’s Jason Vargas doing there? Shut your mouth! He’s been on their team for 4 years? And he hasn’t been a train wreck? I haven’t felt this weird and slightly annoyed since I discovered that Brian Benben is still acting (on ABC’s Private Practice, possibly the Seattle Mariners of primetime network television). But I kid the Mariners.
Sergio Romo, however, most certainly does not kid them…
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Stolen from Bay City Ball:
My favorite part was when Gutierrez swung at a ball that was nowhere near the strike zone. Romo’s ability to Todd Frazier baseballs is easily the organization’s top annuity.
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And now I’m going to ask why Justin Christian was the designated hitter tonight.
Why was Justin Christian the designated hitter tonight?
Obviously, Aubrey Huff’s injury forced Bruce Bochy’s hand here, but why was the outfield equivalent of Joaquin Arias his ace in the hole? I just don’t… I can’t… I won’t…
Look, maybe I'm haunted by Shinjo's ghost and I’m being unreasonable, but it seems to me that if you’re going to have the designated hitter you should probably put someone in that role who can hit. Baggs said he was the organization’s "obvious choice" to fill that role… based on his AAA numbers.
Okay… ignoring how silly that is, I still don’t understand this particular move for two additional reasons: (1) why do AAA numbers matter now when they didn’t for Buster Posey and, for a time, Brandon Belt? (2) what happened to needing to get Hector Sanchez’s bat into the lineup?
Too soon to recall Pill (EDIT: as SFGuy points out in the comments below, he could've been recalled because of Huff being placed on the DL, so, let's just chalk it up to the Giants having seen enough of him for now), Emmanuel Burriss clearly has some clause in his contract that prohibits the Giants from improving the team without him on it, Brandon Crawford and Nate Schierholtz are left-handed. Those were the other choices. I could guess that the Giants are actually now down on Hector’s bat after pumping it up in public last month because I would think it to be really dumb for fatigue to be an excuse (night game after a day game for a part-time catcher, after all) and maybe that is really the case and in a couple weeks’ time we’ll read something to that effect, but to then settle on Justin Christian as the designated hitter? Weird. Weird because to call the Giants’ dumb would be to ignore the not-dumb things that they sometimes (and maybe in spite of themselves) do.
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If Vogelsong is the lottery ticket, Melky Cabrera’s the arranged marriage partner, and Justin Christian the designated hitter, then Tim Lincecum is (quick plug: in addition to being Buffy the Vampire Slayer) a ?
Tomorrow should be interesting, if only because tonight was fun and Wednesday was transcendent.