It's another edition of the McCovey Chronicles mailbag! Some of these are edited for length, some of them for typos, and others just aren't touched at all. You'll know which ones are which.
As is our custom, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. There aren't as many stupid questions as I would like, so fix that. Within reason.
So I was talking to my buddy the other day and we were reciting the starting lineup for the Giants' 2002 World Series run. You know, like you do. We got every position and the whole starting rotation, except we got stuck at second base. We could not for the life of us remember who played second base in 2002. It was driving us crazy. Our first guess was Ray Durham, but we knew that wasn't right. After several minutes my friend pulled up baseball-reference on his phone and was like, "Oh. Duh. Jeff Kent." How could we remember David freaking Bell and Reggie freaking Sanders and forget about Jeff Kent?
The point of the story is, please tell me I'm not the only Giants fan to just totally wipe Jeff Kent from my Giants memory database.
You are literally the only Giants fan to wipe Jeff Kent from your Giants memory database. You have a broken Giants memory database. Try unplugging it and plugging it back in.
However! I'm going to take the time right now to list all of the Jeff Kent memories that come to mind when it comes to the 2002 postseason. I watched every game live, every inning. So this should be easy.
That's off the top of my head. He was there. I know it. But I can't think of, like, that one hit. Braves ... maybe ... Cardinals ... probably ... Angels ... yeah, there had to be something. Great, now you're driving me crazy.
First step is to check his Baseball-Reference and refresh the ol' memory about the regular season he had. Good gravy, 37 home runs. Sixth-place in the MVP voting. He was so good, so very good.
Moving to the postseason batting, there's an a-ha! Kent had one RBI in 44 plate appearances for the NLDS and NLCS, and that one came in a 10-2 loss to the Braves. Now, RBI aren't a good stat for telling you how good a player is, but they're pretty damned effective if you're looking to evaluate how many memories a player made over a couple different postseason series. So you're vindicated. Sweet vindication.
Except Kent had three dingers in the World Series. One came in that stupid 11-10 loss in Game 2, but the only thing I remember from that game was Dusty bringing in Aaron Fultz at the wrong time, or leaving him in too long, or ... something.
The other two homers came in the 16-4 Game 5 win. Let's take a look at the v ...
That's it? One video, and it's a 30-second retrospective with one highlight, a regular-season homer against the Marlins that was filmed on a Game Gear low on batteries?
This is some Dark City stuff, right here.
He probably didn't exist.
Whew. That's better. Skip to 2:23:10 for a Jeff Kent dinger. Yeah, I remember that one. You're just not a very good fan.
Subject: Write this article
The seemingly impossible, decades-long futility of the Giants' attempt at developing ONE power hitting outfielder since Chili Davis in 1981. This is an extremely relevant story that stretches common sense and mathematical probability. Consider:
The Giants have had 3 minor league teams for the past 33 years.
Each of those teams have at least 5 outfielders each year.
Account for players, who played multiple years for Giants minor league teams.
You're left with at least 150 players, who didn't pan out. In a row. Over 33 years.
This is the most compelling, embarrassing Giants story EVER. And no one talks about it, or quantifies this hilarious failure rate. You can be the first. I believe in you, Grant!!!
Dude. John Bowker is back. Keep hope alive.
But, yeah, I mention this at least five times a year. Here's one from before the 2014 draft. Since Chili Davis, though, they did sign one of the three best outfielders in baseball history. They just didn't want to offer him an extra $5,000 to keep him away from Arizona State. That kind of counts.
It's weird, no doubt. On the other hand, it's probably less likely, statistically, to pick Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, and Buster Posey with three straight first-round picks and win an MVP, two Cy Youngs, and three World Series with them. So I'm going to stop complaining about the weird outfielder thing.
No, I'm going to appreciate Marvin Benard more and keep complaining. That seems like a fair compromise.
it seems like everyone talks about Cain in vague terms, as if he's basically done, or he's a black hole or black box or Black Bart. Well, maybe it's all completely unknown, or maybe he's Verlandering / Halladaying. I hope not.
But - if you look at FanGraphs, lots of metrics are consistent even through the 2013 and 2014 when he struggled - but - BB/9 and HR/9 shot up, and his SO went down. Do you think he can't locate his fastball? Was he leaving the ball up? Has he lost enough velocity that his offspeed pitches don't fool anyone anymore? Or does he just have first half-itis? Maybe Bochy and Righetti should wait till the All-Star break to fire him up. Is whatever is wrong with him explainable by bone chips in his elbow, or is it much more mysterious than that?
I keep meaning to write about this! I even have the headline ready: Don't Forget That Matt Cain Exists.
The peripheral stats are curious, no doubt. We were always told that Cain was lucky, but after six years, everyone figured he was the outlier. Then he started giving up runs at something closer to his expected rate, and it almost made sense to believe the old conventional wisdom. But then came news of the bone spurs, nasty things that made it hard for him to straighten his elbow.
Were the old statheads right? Were the bone spurs counterproductive jerks? A mixture? Dunno. All of the arguments make sense.
All I know is that it would be the best feeling in the world to watch Cain come back full strength, as if 2013 and 2014 never happened. The Giants probably won't win the World Series next year, but watching a happy, healthy Cain would go a long way to enjoying the 2015 season.
What can we do about Steve Perry? Are we really going to have to watch this clown running up and down the aisles of ATT, lip synching his bloated 1970s power ballad during the 7th inning every time that walking Hair Club for Men ad feels like turning up at a game? Just because the stupid song *supposedly* has something to do with San Francisco?
The Giants are usually so smart about their musical associations. Tony Bennett? No problem. Metallica, the Grateful Dead? Awesome choices. But Steve Perry? I cringe every time I consider what fans around the country must be thinking of SF as they watch Perry ham it up yet again.
I thought maybe our long national nightmare might have ended after last season, but today the Giants sent out a Facebook birthday greeting to their "superfan" Steve.
What can be done?
Before I answer, here's a Vine of Metallica hanging out on a World Series parade float that's blaring Hall & Oates.
That will never not seem important.
As for Steve Perry, I have anecdotes. I was lucky enough to go to Game 2 of the 2010 of the World Series, and after the Giants scored seven runs in the eighth inning and were almost certainly going to take a 2-0 World Series lead, the Giants started playing "Lights." This was before Perry was a designated mascot/superfan. Then the camera cut to Perry in the crowd, urging the crowd on. It seemed spontaneous. Maybe I'm gullible, but it seemed like the Giants knew where he was sitting, and they were going to put the camera on him so he could wave or something, but he fired everyone up instead. It was one of my favorite memories of that World Series.
And that song's got talons, man. It enters your body through your ear and then bursts out of your stomach, but not after it lays eggs.
Long story short, I would sing it over and over and over for my then two-year-old, enough that she would start to sing it. This all led to one of my favorite videos in the world.
She was so earnest, so into it. I love that song with all of my heart.
So respect Steve Perry, dammit. Sure, that song was originally about LA, but it still gets me for personal reasons. I don't condone the video where they're all playing on invisible instruments, though. I have to back away from that one.
Subject: should the Giants go after A-Rod?
If you bothered to open this email after that subject line thank you, and yes, I already know how stupid that sounds.
But IF the yankees would be willing to take on a large portion of his contract, would it make sense?
He's a pariah here in NYC and the Yankees seem to HATE him—maybe they are willing to dump him.
Okay, you are very polite. If here were Jack Talcum, a quiet, understated all-time great heading toward his age-40 season and looking for a new home to end his career, sure. The Giants would be interested. He's available because he has baggage, though. And in that baggage, there is a HUMAN HEAD. Do not pick this particular hitchhiker up.
Also, he's probably broken. I'm okay with Casey McGehee over Rodriguez, both from an on- and off-field perspective. We'll see if that looks absurd in four months.
Long time reader, 1st time (attempted) commenter, but pretty computer illiterate & couldn't figure how to post on site, so just thought I'd email. As far as your All-Time Sabean consideration, agree w/ the main pts on the arbitrary, subjective, MonMornQB, results-based nature of evaluating GMs, but think Posey/'08 draft's an inexact ex. cause PoZ was a Jr. & wasn't the big fear his bonus asking-price was gonna be too stiff w/ a high potential he'd go back to FSU?, & isn't Rays' Way kinda opposed to that kinda risky overspending? Basically, the PoZ pick took stones, & I think that's a more important part of Sabes' legacy than lucking into draft picks.
Okay, I think I get what you're saying. Yeah, there were whispers that Posey was going to ask for $10 million. And if he went #1 overall, those whispers would have been guttural moans. It's possible that he was thinking about breaking the Rays and the whole danged system.
More than likely, though, it was pre-draft bluster, and everyone knew it. It's not like Tim Beckham was a bargain, so the Rays had some scratch to lay out. I honestly think it was a talent/baseball decision that will haunt a couple of people for the rest of their careers.
One day, there will be a book that will let us know for sure. I will read this book. Still, the larger point -- that money might have played a part -- is well-taken. Don't forget the Royals preferred Eric Hosmer. Without looking, I'm going to guess the Rockies screwed up somehow, too.
Sabean can can never be considered one of the greatest GMs. The Joe Nathan AJ Pierczynski Liriano deal coupled with Armando Benitez signing is one main reason. He would be on my list of luckiest GMs ever!
The Pierzynski trade I've covered. It was defensible. Defensible, I tell you!
As for Benitez ... yeah, that guy was a bozo. One of my least favorite Giants of the last 20 years. At the time, though, it also made sense to me. Don't read that, writing, it's terrible, but I talked myself into the move. It wasn't like Sabean traded Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano, and everyone gasped and threw up. The Giants needed a reliever, and Benitez was really good the previous season. Shrug emoticon.
Did you ever get your hands on some Pappy?
No. I had a chance to have a glass, though! I frequented a rad, quiet bar in San Diego with 100s and 100s of scotches and bourbons. It was attached to my hotel during the Winter Meetings, and I would work there every night because the wi-fi reached, there was no lag, and it wasn't ABSOLUTELY TEEMING with agents, writers, job-seekers, and other people who can make a mild agoraphobic's skin crawl. It was heaven, and it was the setting for award-nominated writing that I mostly remember.
They had one of the older Pappys. It was, I don't know, not nearly in my price range. Even in that on-the-road, rules-don't-apply, durr-yeah-I'll-pay-$100-for-a-steak mindset, it just didn't feel like something I could justify. And I'm an absolute idiot with my money, so you know it was expensive.
Also, I'm pretty sure I don't have a great palate. Not good enough to justify a $60 pour, at least.
If you're buying, though ...