Monday, October 5, 2015

The 2015 San Francisco Giants may be the best Giants Team Ever!

Matt Duffy
I've been a baseball fan for probably about 60 years I started out in 1955 rooting for the Baltimore Orioles! Back in those days the Orioles were pretty bad and I listen to every game on the radio as they were not televised in Washington DC where I lived. Everybody where I lived were Washington Senator fans except my father who was a New York Yankee fan! It was highly frustrating living in the household with a Yankee fan because the Yankees we're the best team in baseball and won everything. Even worse they rarely lost to the Orioles and on two occasions when my father took me to a Yankee Oriole game at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore Maryland  the Yankees beat the Orioles 16 to 0 on one occasion and 16 - 9 on another occasion! Eventually  the Orioles got pretty good and finally won their first World Series in 1966 beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in four games!
Joe Panix

The Orioles  continued to have respectable teams until about 1997 when the team was owned by Peter Angelos and thus a terrible downturn in Orioles baseball history lasted for 17 years and in that time the Orioles did not have a winning season! You know in sports if you have some bad players or even a bad manager you can trade for new players and find a new manager but if you have a bad owner there ain't nothing you can do! After 17 years of losing baseball I finally got wise and became a Yankee fan and that was not a bad move. Both my sister and I  are Yankee fans it's kind of a tribute to our deceased father. Having lived in San Francisco for many years I never was much of a Giants fan,  one reason being they were a National League team and I sort of had an American League mentality. I also thought the Giants we're fairly boring because in the few games I did attend usually against the Dodgers,  the scores where generally of  the 1 to 0 variety! However as time went on I grew more attached to the Giants and of course I always root against the Dodgers! With the addition of Buster Posey and Timmy Lincecum I became a real fan and was treated to their first World Championship in 2010.

Nori Aoki 
We all know the magic of the 2010 the 2012 and the 2014 season. However I would like to dwell on the 2015 team which I think is maybe the best Giant baseball team ever assembled! I'm going to go over the players on this team and explain why I am so excited about these players and there's hardly  one that I would want to give up at this point ! As I previously mentioned  I've been a Yankees Orioles American League fan for many years and a three run homer was like a the holy grail!  In addition in recent baseball history free agency has been a big factor and building contending teams. The Yankees of course are the most notorious with their large salary they routinely pick up superstars such as Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemons, Reggie Jackson and Mark Teixeira to name a few.  This strategy has worked well for the Yankees, the Red Sox and currently the Dodgers! With that background I was firmly in the Earl Weaver George Stinebrenner camp of buy players that can deliver that 3 run homer and shut out the opponents. 

In 2010 the Giants earned the phrase Torture because every game was a nail bitter consisting of excellent pitching and defense but not much offense. Much of the power was supplied by Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, and to a lesser extent Juan Uribe, Pat Burrell,  Edgar Rentaria and  Nate Schierholtz. The Giants won the World Series against the Texas Rangers in 5 games with stellar pitching from Lincecum, Bumgardner and Cain!  

During the 2014 season the Giants got off to a very good start but went into an incredible funk that made me make a mid-season prediction that the Giants would end in the cellar! During this terrible streak I would see the Giants with crucial runners in scoring position send up 3 players in a row batting .200 or under. Somehow some way the Giants prevailed and barely made the playoffs finishing 6 games behind the dodgers. However late in 2014 some new faces started to show up in the Giants Dugout, young wet behind the ears rookies! 

Marco Scutaro was the pick for 2nd base but injuries sidelined him and a replacement was sought. My Earl Weaver thought was to buy an established proven hitter and fill the need. The Giants did just that and acquired Dan Uggla. For some reason Uggla was given a brief try then released. At the same time I noticed some new players hanging around, Joe Panix, Matt Duffy, Andrew Susac and Chris Heston, the rookies. Honestly I was disappointed to see such inexperienced players put in rolls more fitting to veterans. I was about to learn a lesson from Bruce Botchy and the Giants organization that erased my Earl Weaver mentality.  

It did not take long for Joe Panix to win over the doubters and show that he was not only a good ballplayer but an exceptional ball player that had star written all over him. I think Joe Panix gave the Giants such a boost that it rubbed off on the entire team. The Giants peaked at playoff time and all gears were churning flawlessly. In the 2014 World Series of course the magical story was Madison Bumgarner, but so many more rose to the occasion, including Travis Ishikawa, Juan Perez, Gregor Blanco and Yusmeiro Petit in the playoffs as well as World Series.  

Kelby Tomlinson 
So now the 2015 regular season has expired and the Giants are not in the playoffs, why am I so excited about this team going into 2016? 2015 started with Pablo Sandoval bailing on the Giants and leaving a big hole at 3rd. I was not pleased when Pablo was offered exactly what Boston had offered him, however Pablo claims he was disrespected by the Giants, this I did not see! So the Giants signed a veteran player Casey McGehee. Poor Casey struggled badly and it was obvious he was trying very hard. It turns out that at the same time Pablo left,  the A's traded 3rd basemen Josh Donaldson to Toronto. I thought what a missed opportunity, how did the Giants miss this deal. BTW Donaldson is in the running for MVP this year with 41 home runs and 123 RBI's. 

So at the same time young Matt Duffy is improving daily and he is given the 3rd base job. You could see Matt Duffy improving in all aspects of the game from hitting to fielding to base running every day. He had such an impressive season he's pretty much runner up for Rookie of the Year (ROY) batting .295 with 12 HRs and 77 RBI's. I'm thinking he's our 3rd basemen into the future, he may even be a Franchise Player. I don't use Franchise Player lightly as Buster Posey is certainly the Giants Franchise Player. But then again there is Joe Panix that is in the same category, possibly a long term fixture with the Giants organization. How lucky is that to add two such players to your organization in one season, it's astounding for sure. 

Couple this with Hunter Pence, Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Angel Pagan and you have a rock solid team. Wait a minute did I mention Nori Aoki?   

Nori Aoki: I’m super impressed with this addition a natural born lead-off hitter. Nori knows how to get on base, he has incredible bat control can hit the ball anywhere he pleases and has great speed that produces many infield hits. He’s fast, and has a great baseball mind. Also, he can hit with power when he sets his mind to it. I see Aoki has the Giants lead-off man into the distant future. The one troubling aspect of Mr Aoki is how durable is he? He spent a lot of time on the DL this year and is such an unorthodox player he may be more prone to injury as demonstrated by being hit in the helmet by a pitched ball which put him on the concussion watch and kind of finished his season. Anyway I'm not going to dwell on these issues, I expect Nori to have a healthy productive 2016 season if he remains a Giant. 

Brandon Crawford: This was an offensive outbreak season for Crawford with 21 HRs and 84 RBI's. He certainly is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball and in my opinion he and Panix are the best double play combo around. 

Brandon Belt: Everyone that is familiar with Brandon see the potential of a super star. So far nagging injuries have slowed Belt down, but this year he was pretty healthy hitting 280 with 18 HRs. Although a good year everybody expects a break-out year soon and it will come.  Earlier he smashed a 475 foot homer at Coors Field, not too shabby!

Angel Pagan:  A true spark plug, he does everything well, hitting, fielding, throwing and base-running. When he’s hot and healthy the Giants click. The only drawback for Angel and you could say this for Pence too, they are aggressive fielders and are not afraid of walls and collisions, however this kind of fielding is a fast track to the DL, let’s hope these guys stay healthy!

Hunter Pence: There is so much to say about this guy, truly an inspiration to the entire team and the fan base. Here is hoping for a healthy 2016, boy we miss this guy in the lineup!

Buster Posey: Just like Hunter Pence he does it all, the face of the franchise for sure. Looks like he may be playing more 1st base in the future as catching is a demanding position! When Buster went down in early 2011 it was an omen the season would not go well and it did not. I sort of felt that way when Pence had his arm broken early in the season, then had another injury later in the season. 

World Champs 
Pitching: Jeremy Affeldt and Tim Hudson have retired and they were fantastic for the Giants, will be sorely missed. The Giants do need a top notch second starter and since they are pretty rich in position players they have an opportunity to pick up a good solid pitcher. Peavy came on strong lately and Cain has shown flashes of the greatness he's capable of.  Tim Lincecum is questionable but would love to see him back in his great form. Madison Bumgarner can of course match the best of pitchers in baseball. The relief staff is still looking good but we need a couple more arms to bolster the pen!

The way I see it, the Giants are solid in position players I would keep everyone and hope we lose no one to free agency including Marlon Byrd. I really enjoyed Marlon Byrd this year, great addition to fill in for injuries. He seems a little apprehensive at first despite his first fantastic Giants game. I could see him gaining confidence throughout the season and by the end he had that fire, that Giant's fire and he was having a great time. 

That's not the end of the story, more great opportunities are flooding the dugout with new fresh enthusiastic young players popping up.  Kelby Tomlison was called up to fill in for the injured Joe Panix and my god have we found another super rookie possible franchise player; 3 in one year? 
But wait that's not all, a kid named Jarrett Parker showed up and proceeded to hit 3 homers in one game and 5 in 9 at bats, I must be dreaming! Did you hear about our rookie pitcher Chris Heston pitching a no hitter and winning 12 games? 

I believe this is the first team I can say I'm totally satisfied that we have a complete team at this point and if we can shake those god awful injuries we should be back in the World Series in 2016 right on schedule! 

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