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Elephants and Seals

As always By will be covering the Giants and Chappy will be covering the A’s portions.

San Francisco Giants (38-29 1st place) Oakland A’s (28-40 4th place)

Three Up

Oakland A’s – They broke their 10 game losing streak against the White Sox in a comeback win. Unfortunately they went from second to fourth during that losing streak. We thankfully have a new manager (Bob Melvin) that I wrote about last week, so now I can’t work in any disses about the team overcoming Geren’s minimal coaching abilities. The new Bob has already started making the players do some infield practice before games, which is rare this day in age for any team to practice much infield work before games. The good part about this hire is he’s already proactive attacking one of our big weaknesses (A’s are ranked 27th in fielding with 51 errors). Now if he could only figure out some good drills to get them to hit! Bob Melvin seems to like keeping Matsui in the lineup everyday, which was something Geren couldn’t seem to do as he sat Matsui against lefties. Matsui even answered with a homer off a lefty last night. Hopefully this means Matsui will get comfortable at the plate knowing he’ll be in the lineup all the time. Andrew Bailey is finally closing games for us this season, too bad there aren’t any games for him to close. Scott Sizemore, who we got from Detroit, is already our best option at 3B even though he’d never played the position prior to coming to the A’s. Jemile Weeks was also called up when Ellis went on the DL, and has impressed me a lot more than Chris Carter did last year during his first MLB stint with three triples in his first seven games.

SF Giants – I just got home from a fantastic early dinner and as I type this, the G-Men hold a 5-0 lead against second place Arizona in the 5th.  I also see that Pablo “Panda” Sandoval has already left his mark on this game, bringing in the game’s first run.  Panda provides us with a much needed bat, at an absolutely desperate time.  It’s one thing that we lost Buster Posey for the entire season, but now Freddy Sanchez’s year is in jeopardy, and Freddy has been knocking in clutch runs all season.  I guess a positive we Giants fans can take out of all of this, is the fact that we’re still in first place, believe it or not!  And the reason why, is that the Giants epitomize the concept of team ball.  When someone goes down, the next person simply steps up and fills in.  I mean, we’ve had Nate Shierholtz hitting third at times, Nate Shierholtz people!  And now he has a few walk off base hits notched under his belt.  There’s a different hero every night with these guys, very similar to last season.  So if you’re an optimistic person, which I’m usually not, but if you are, you must be thinking we’re sitting pretty atop the division despite being dealt the worse possible hand you can be dealt.  Things can only get better from here, right?

Three Down

Oakland A’s – We have five starting pitchers on the DL, and Brett Anderson was that fifth starter to land on the DL. He’s avoiding Tommy John surgery, but it sounds like he might still have to have it down the road. I’m no doctor, but it doesn’t sound like these plasma injections do very much from other players accounts. We’ve called up some prospects mainly because of the numerous injuries. SP Graham Godfrey had an interesting way of getting called up the the big leagues, but we are really missing those starters that went down. Hopefully McCarthy comes back soon which seems likely. We’ve lost 13 of 14, and I might already be rooting for Seattle to take the division. (I’ll wait till the All-Star break, but it’s sad I’m already pondering picking who I want to win the division not named the A’s.) Daric Barton continues to digress this season. Not sure how much longer I can root for a guy that is in his third year, and having his worst season of those three years, he feels like Bobby Crosby all over again. Hopefully we are prepping Chris Carter or Michael Taylor in the minors to play first base. Maybe we should’ve hung onto Brett Wallace who is having a decent year in Houston…

Even Chriss Angel runs out of magic.

SF Giants – To the outsider looking in, you’d probably chuckle at the idea of being unhappy with a first place team.  But if you’ve been following the Giants closely like I have, especially these past two seasons, you know we win a lot, a lot of close games.  In unbelievable fashion at times.  How much magic do we still have at our disposal?  We’ve got to run out eventually right?  As long as we’re bottom dwellers in terms of offensive production, specifically scoring runs, and as long as our aces look like jokers on the mound (Tim Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez), we’ve got reason to be concerned.  Hopefully Brandon Belt can get healthy and show us some of that bat we’ve all been told is coming.  The only consistent thing I can count on with these Giants, is Ryan Vogelsong giving up two runs or less every game.  The sad part is, some of those games are losses.

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Elephants and Seals

As always, By is covering the Giants portion, and Chappy is covering the A’s portion for this post.

San Francisco Giants (1st, 24-19) Oakland Athletics (2nd, 22-22)

Three Up

Oakland Athletics – They swept the Angels in a quick two game series, and also swapped positions with them to be in a tie for first place in the AL West for the first time this season. That didn’t last long as they lost two straight to the struggling Twins and were promptly sent back to 2nd place. Their offense has gotten progressively better over the last week and a half. They’ve actually averaged nearly 5 runs a game over their last 10. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Coco Crisp has been getting on base, stealing bases, and scoring runs. When he does well, they seem to score a lot more runs. Their pitching has still been their crutch to lean on. They lead the majors in ERA at 2.68, which is the only sub-3.00 ERA in all of baseball besides the Braves 2.88 team ERA. Andrew Bailey is getting closer to returning, and will be a welcomed addition to an already great bullpen.

San Francisco Giants – Giants are sitting pretty at first place despite playing average ball.  So there’s not much to complain about here, furthermore, they just did a mini sweep of division, no everything rivals LA in LA.  So a major f**k yeah for that.  The Mark DeRosa injury could be looked at as a down, but I see the positive in it.  For one, he was hitting like s**t.  Second, we’re too deep not to circulate other players in and out of the lineup, giving tough-minded guys like Mike Fontenot a shot at some p.t.  Hopefully DeRosa takes this time to clear his mind, and find his swing.  Finally Madison Bumgarner finally got his first win of the season, the Giants are on the up and up from here on out.

Three Down

Oakland Athletics – Hideki Matsui hasn’t really shown much promise thus far in the season. Maybe the inconsistent playing time has something to do with it, but I feel like there’s a chance he might just be old. Dallas Braden had season ending shoulder surgery, which was a downer but not unexpected. I’m a huge Tyson Ross fan, and he’s done admirable filling in since Braden went down, but he got injured, and apparently Brandon McCarthy did too, so that’s a hole in the rotation. Maybe Harden will eventually not be hurt or maybe another round with Outman wouldn’t be terrible. Bob Geren is still making questionable lineup/bullpen changes and tinkering that seems to prevent the team from keeping their continuity, but the players seem to be overcoming the handicap of having him as a manager, which must be one tough obstacle.

San Francisco Giants – I can’t complain about much these days, perhaps the injury to Pablo Sandoval has put a damper on our inconsistent hitting.  I’m not satisfied with Tim Lincecum’s 3-4 start.  I was hoping for him to be blazing toward another Cy Young early on.  But those are all ‘whatevers’ in my book.  The Giants are in first in the NL West, and this should lead to an interesting series with the A’s.

Next Up – The battle of the bay. Inter league play starts and the battle for bay area bragging rights is on the line.

Win or lose Chaps, we’re still friends o.k. !?!?

Yeah, no hard feelings a quarter of the way through a season!


Elephants and Seals

This is our second installment of Elephants and Seals. And just like last time Chappy will be covering the A’s, and By will be covering the Giants.

San Francisco Giants (13-15) Oakland Athletics (15-14)

Three Up

Oakland A’s – They lost two of three in LA, but came on strong over the weekend to take 3 of 4 from Texas to bring themselves over .500.  Their bats seemed to wake up against what we all kinda knew was some weak starting pitching out in Texas. Kurt Suzuki hit two bombs after having his newly born daughter. Willingham hit a game tying homer, and Matsui hit a walkoff in yesterdays series winning game, so there’s some reason for optimism for the offense. Andrew Bailey is throwing again, and should be back sooner than later as he’s set to face some live hitting this week. That is a big relief because Fuentes is about as scary a ninth inning as you’ll get. He doesn’t throw hard, and puts guys on base giving A’s fans a heart attack every time he’s on the mound. Bailey we need you back! Coco Crisp’s bat is as lively as his hair these days, and when he’s on, he scores lots of runs. Oakland pitchers still lead the league in ERA at 2.76. They are did pretty good in April for their standards, because April is a month they almost always have a losing record in. You don’t win a division in April, but you can be far enough behind to lose it if you aren’t careful. I mean, we could be the Twins with only 9 wins.

San Francisco Giants – 1.  We won the 2010 World Series.  I know that was last season, and that historic event is a thing of the past, but when your beloved team plays as inconsistent as they have been, despite the talent and experience they possess, well then you got to hang your hat on something.  We’re only about 7% into the season, and if they don’t clean up their act by the 20% mark, I’ll throw this trump card away.  Which brings me to my next ”up” ~

2.  We’re only 7% into the season!  It’s still very early and the Giants are much below .500 ball thanks to  taking two out of three in five of the past seven series’.  They’ve been in a lot worse situations, and for them to be even despite not finding themselves is a good sign.

3.  Aaron Rowand is hitting .300 (o.k. .296) and Pablo Sandoval is hitting .313 with five dingers.  These are two players who contributed very little last season.  Aaron Rowand was considered a free agent bust, and Panda was looked at as a fluke.  The Giants are currently 11th in hitting in the N.L. but it’s neither of these two’s fault.  If they keep playing this well offensively, it will almost be like we picked up two solid free agents this year.

Three Down

Oakland A’s – Kevin Kouzmanoff is supposedly on the team more for his defense prowess, yet he’s already made 6 errors on the season. If his bat actually worked, I wouldn’t mind the errors as much, but this is getting ridiculous, and these errors are leading to runs almost every time he kicks an easy grounder. The team as a whole hasn’t been good defensively, but I doubt they will be tied for the lead the league in errors. The offense as a whole is offensive as they’re ranked 27th in the league in runs scored, don’t have a hitter over .300 in the lineup, and swing at way too many pitches early in the count. Pitchers that give up a few runs to us still are in the game in the 7th. Aside from Barton, I’m not sure anyone in the lineup knows how to work a count, unfortunately his working the count has resulted in a high amount of strikeouts. Pitchers are throwing 70 pitch complete games against us. Ok, not really, but you get the point. We have renamed the Oakland Coliseum to the Overstock.com Coliseum or O.co Coliseum. This is in the three down section, because it sounds lame.

1.  We won the 2010 World Series.  I know you’re asking, how can this be an ”up” and a ”down”?  It’s an ”up” from a fans’ perspective, especially someone like me who is grateful he witnessed a World Series championship during his lifetime.  It’s been a ”down” for the actual team.  I tried not to think it, but it’s becoming more and more apparent, the Giants have a World Series hangover.  They’re too busy making music videos with Keenan Cahill that they forgot there’s a season to play.  But then again, this is the reason why we fell in love with these guys, they’re a bunch of goofy clowns and miSFits.

2.  Missing Andres Torres has been a huge downer for the Giants.  He’s a great lead off man, and plays a fantastic center field.  The one thing that’s underrated about Torres is his defense.  Our outfield has been our week spot early on, especially when we threw Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff out there (wtf!) but with Ross back, and Torres on his way, I’ll stop holding my breath on every fly ball.

3.  Pitching and hitting.  If it’s not one, it’s the other.  This is reminiscent of years past with these Giants team.  They’re winning or losing games, 1-0 or 9-8.  Neither side can get it together consistently and act as a cohesive unit.  Like I mentioned earlier, we’re 11th in the N.L. in hitting.  I’m not concerned about average starts from Timmy, Jonathan Sanchez and Matty Cain, but Madison ”Mad Bum” Bumgarner has struggled big time.  Last season he was brilliant in the post season, we’ve only seen one glimpse of that pitcher since.  Could I actually be asking this, but are we missing Barry Zito?  If it’s come to this, then that’s a huge downer.

Next Up

Oakland A’s – Taking on the best team in baseball, Cleveland Indians at home. They found a little groove offensively against Texas, so hopefully that keeps up. I can’t wait for the day when I’m not shocked when they put up 4 runs in a game.

San Francisco Giants got to start doing their best Charlie Sheen impression, winning.  We got the Mets and Rockies next, very winnable series’.