Giants Series Preview with Chris Quick

The Phillies welcome the defending champion San Francisco Giants for a three-game series in the City of Brotherly Love. Looking to avenge last year’s NLCS defeat, the Phillies will send Rookie of the Year candidate Vance Worley to the hill to face Tim Lincecum in the series opener. The next two games will feature Cole Hamels against Barry Zito, and Kyle Kendrick against Matt Cain in what figures to be a low-scoring series. I caught up with Chris Quick of Bay City Ball (@BayCityBall), part of ESPN’s Sweet Spot blog network, to help preview the series. His answers to my questions are below. You can find my answers to his questions over at BCB.

. . .

1. Enjoying your time as a fan of the defending World Series champions?

I am enjoying it, but at the same time, I’m ready to move on a little. That’s not to say that I’m ungrateful for what 2010 meant to me, and a lot of other fans, but the afterglow is nearly gone and I’m ready to go for another title. I think teams that get trapped in the “we won the World Series!” mindset are doomed to make poor decisions. Let’s hope the Giants are ready for the next step, whatever that might mean. But, that’s sports, it’s a “what have you done for me lately” business.

2. How do the 2011 Giants compare to the 2010 Giants? Better, worse, about the same?

Similar in some ways, but different in others. The biggest thread between 2010 and 2011 is, of course, the fantastic pitching. The Giants have a top-three rotation in the National League right now and the things the bullpen has done should be considered cruel and unusual. Really, the pitching has been beyond outstanding. As fans of this team, we’re definitely spoiled when it comes to pitching.

On the other side, the offense has really been struggling since the year started. Losing Buster Posey for the season was a huge shock to an offense that was never projected to mash from spots one through eight. Injuries have kept the best possible configuration for the offense off the field. Add in Aubrey Huff‘s 2009 impression, Miguel Tejada being terrible, and a few other factors, and the offense has been, by most metrics, the worst in the NL. I think the biggest difference between last year’s team and other versions was the inclusion of a league average offense. That’s it. Getting a league average offense did wonders for the team when combined with it’s elite pitching. It’s going to be hard to win with an offense that ranks dead last.

3. You have the authority to make one transaction for the Giants before the July 31 deadline. What move do you make?

I trade for “non-terrible hitting catcher”. I know he’s out there somewhere. I’m generally really terrible at trade scenarios, but the Carlos Beltran chatter seems to grow a little louder each day. A  Beltran-Paulino package seems to make sense for the Giants.

4. The Giants are the only team left in the NL without a player with 10-plus homers. As a team, the Giants rank 13th in the NL in AVG, OBP, and SLG. Do you expect the offense to improve, or are the Giants simply a team predicated on pitching and defense?

It’s hard to see the offense improving much. That could be the pessimist in me, but key performers from last year like Aubrey Huff have been really, really bad. I think for better or worse, the Giants have to win with their pitching. That strategy leaves for a lot of 2-1 wins (and loses) and it can be incredibly frustrating at times. The good news is that Pablo Sandoval is having a terrific year with the bat (.363 wOBA) and a guy like Brandon Belt provides the chance for above-average offense. Whether or not the Giants will play Belt with regularity is another question entirely.

5. Much has been made about the emergence of Ryan Vogelsong. Are you aware of any reasons the Giants were able to find him and fix him?

Vogelsong’s season is truly one of those reasons why I think we all love baseball so much. To call it improbable seems like a huge understatement. We’ve sliced, diced, and examined his season a few times on the website and I think we always come away scratching our heads. His stuff is good; he generally throws a FB 90-92 with good movement that he’ll pair with a solid curveball. He also throws a slider and changeup. What has made his season has been the control and command of his pitches. This is a guy that was walking 5.9 batters per nine last year in AAA — and now he’s walking 3.06 per nine in the majors.

It’s all predicated on his control. In short: it’s an amazing story that I’m not sure how to explain. I kind of like it that way, but his stuff is good, he’s not doing it with smoke-and-mirrors.

6. Do you think the Giants could take down the Phillies in the playoffs again as they did last year?

Sure. The playoff format makes for interesting games and anyone can get hot at the right time. In last year’s playoffs the Giants were (or it felt like they were) constantly underdogs. In the end, they won the World Series. I think anyone would take their chances with the Giants’ pitching in a playoff scenario.

Bonus: Grab your crystal ball and tell us how you think this series will play out. The pitching match-ups are Lincecum-Worley, Zito-Hamels, and Cain-Kendrick.

Missing Halladay and Lee for this series is huge boost for the Giants. I’ll say the Giants can win 2-3; Lincecum beats Worley; Hamels beats Zito; Cain beats Kendrick.

. . .

Many thanks to Chris for taking time to share his perspective as a Giants blogger. Jump over to Bay City Ball to see what I had to say from the Phillies side of things. The crew at BCB do a great job of analyzing the Giants using Sabermetrics. Check out Rory Paap’s recent post on the Giants’ bullpen — there is one chart that is mind-boggling. Here’s hoping the Phillies give them something new to write about.

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40 comments

  1. Joe Redden

    July 26, 2011 11:28 AM

    I have to say up front that I disagree with Chris’s predictions about the pitching matchups. While Worley may not have the polish of Lincecum, baseball is a “What have you done lately” sport. And Worley has definitely performed lately.

    And while the Phillies may not have the power of ’08, the Giants lineup doesn’t sport a power hitter anywhere. I agree that we are probably looking at a low scoring series, but the Phillies are the only team in this series that really has the potential to rack up some runs.

    That being said, I could see some runs being put up against Kendrick. Luckily, he is matching up with a pitcher that has an ERA over 3.00 so this might be the most fun to watch from a hitting standpoint.

    The only reason the Giants have a chance to take one of this series is because of the shady management of Bochy. Can’t blame him, but it’s pretty obvious what he did.

  2. Chris

    July 26, 2011 12:12 PM

    @Joe Redden

    Worley is having a really good year, you’ll get no argument from me. But Lincecum is Lincecum and I really can’t bet against him. The match-up is probably closer that most assume, but I think you have to tip the scale towards Tim.

    >> the Giants lineup doesn’t sport a power hitter anywhere.

    Pablo Sandoval says, “hey”.

    >> The only reason the Giants have a chance to take one of this series is because of the shady management of Bochy. Can’t blame him, but it’s pretty obvious what he did.

    I must have missed any shady dealings — what did Bochy do?

  3. Chris

    July 26, 2011 12:16 PM

    I think he’s referring to using Halladay and Lee in the ASG and not Lincecum or Cain. Apparently the common sentiment here in Philly is that he did this so that he wouldn’t have to face them in this series.

  4. Chris

    July 26, 2011 12:24 PM

    @Chris

    Oh, well, I believe (correct me if I’m wrong) that Cain was ineligible to pitch for the ASG since he made a start on 7/10/11 right before the ASG. Halladay pitched on 7/8/11 and both Lee and Lincecum pitched on 7/9/11. Halladay was probably the most rested guy between the four pitchers.

    Maybe I’m being a homer, but any ‘shady management’ seems a little tinfoil hat-ish to me.

  5. COAL HAMLETS

    July 26, 2011 12:34 PM

    Gotta say, i’m really hoping that the Phillies can win this series or else the whining from the idiots for a big deadline deal is going to be EVEN MORE unbearable.

    The pitching matchups clearly favor the Giants by a lot on 2 of the 3 games, while likewise the Phillies have a big advantage in the Hamels VS Zito matchup.

    But regardless I don’t think the Phillies should sleep against Zito either, even if he’s nowhere near what he once was in his prime.

  6. John

    July 26, 2011 01:34 PM

    Bochy played Roy and Cliff because they were the best pitchers at the all star break. You can’t have it both ways and say that Their starting pitching is better.

  7. Joe Redden

    July 26, 2011 01:35 PM

    @ Chris

    You are really going to consider Pablo Sandoval their power hitter? I agree that he doesn’t have speed, and he’s not a small ball guy, but just because he’s big does not a power hitter make.

    Let’s take a look at The Panda’s rankings this year. Now I’ve only used NL Ranks to keep this from being embarrassing.

    Statistsics based on Top 100:

    Stat # NL Rank
    HR 9 Tied for 53rd
    RBI 35 Tied for 61st
    SLG Not Ranked in Top 100
    OBP Not Ranked in Top 100
    AVG Not Ranked in Top 100

    This is the Giants power hitter? Maybe he should spend a little less time saying “hi”, and more time in the cages learning how to hit the ball.

  8. Mike Skarpelos

    July 26, 2011 01:39 PM

    I saw Lincecum pitch against the Dodgers last Wednesday. Pablo needed a rest, so the Giants wound up starting four triple-A level position players (Stewart, Belt, Burris and Crawford) in addition to Aaron Rowand. It was ugly. Kershaw just humiliated the Giants hitters, and beat Lincecum 1-0 in a classic pitchers duel reminiscent of the old Koufax-Marichal rivalries of the 1960s. I don’t know anything about this kid Worley, but if the Giants start the same line-up they did against Kershaw and the odds makers set the over/under line at 1/2 run, I’m taking the under. As a Giants fan for more than 40 years it pains me to say this, but their offense is so putrid, it’s hard to see how they can sustain their current level of success.

  9. Chris

    July 26, 2011 01:39 PM

    @Joe Redden

    I get it now, you’re trying to troll me with RBI’s. Glad I didn’t fall for it.

    Also, protip: Sandoval won’t make those qualifying lists because he missed a month with a broken hamate bone.

  10. Joe Redden

    July 26, 2011 01:45 PM

    As for Bochy’s management, I don’t blame him for doing it. It’s smart. But don’t deny you did it.

    Rich Dubee and Charlie asked repeatedly for Halladay and Lee not to be used beyond one inning each in the All Star Game. The American League manager was considerate enough to not use any pitcher for more than an inning. Bochy, however, did not show the same courtesy. He pitched Halladay for two innings, and most likely was working towards having Lee in for two as well, but he got into trouble and a reliever was the best choice.

    The only Giant he brought in was Wilson, and he didn’t even have him work a whole inning. I’m not saying what he did was wrong. But he did it. It was intentional, it was obvious. The NL All Stars had way too many great pitchers on the roster to leave Halladay and Lee in for more than an inning.

  11. Chris

    July 26, 2011 01:45 PM

    And, one more thing, to really melt your brains…Sandoval has posted a higher slugging percentage (.496) than Ryan Howard (.457), Chase Utley (.476), and Raul Ibanez (.417). And he’s done it in a much tougher park.

  12. Joe Redden

    July 26, 2011 01:58 PM

    @ Chris

    Howard has almost double the PA’s. Ryan Howard is a career .560 SLG, while Panda is only a .485 SLG. Give Pablo some more PA’s and his stats will balance out.

    As for power, Sandoval has never posted more than 25 home runs in a season. Isn’t that something “Power Hitters” are supposed to do? He may be the Giant’s power hitter. But on our team, he would be lucky to bat 8th.

  13. DK

    July 26, 2011 02:21 PM

    Wow Joe is dumb…

  14. Ryan

    July 26, 2011 02:26 PM

    @Joe Redden,
    Nice call about sandoval batting 8th for your team. And by nice call, I mean you are absolutely wrong.
    Out of phillies regulars, only utley and victorino have a higher obp, and only victorino has a higher slugging percentage.
    Sandoval has never hit 25 homers in his 3 years in the majors, you are correct. He also happens to play in a pitchers park in a pitchers division. Suffice it to say, Charlie Manuel would be a fool to bat sandoval 8th on a team where he would be the second or at worst 3rd best hitter on the team.

  15. Insane Victorino

    July 26, 2011 02:26 PM

    @Joe Redden
    You sincerely hope that the fans (including me) of arguably the best team in baseball will be as endowed as their team, but you never get surprised of the unrefined arguments of the Philly fans. 19 pitches for Halladay in the ASG and that are clearly way too many for that workhorse! You have a chance to have home field advantage in the WS, so show some respect for Bochy instead of fabricating conspiracy theories.
    I also like Worley’s chances. Phillies will take 2 of 3.

  16. LTG

    July 26, 2011 03:12 PM

    Can everyone agree that Joe and whatever other unrefined fans or mere trolls cruise baseball blogs don’t serve as a basis for generalization about Philly fans anymore than they do for any other fan base?

    I believe there was a Giants fan on this blog recently who concluded that we are all fatheads because we were discussing the merits of various trade possibilities and evaluating the relative value of various prospects. I know, non-sense, right? I don’t think he/she reflects the average Giant fan just as Joe doesn’t reflect the average Philly fan. Keep the discussion and arguments about baseball and not people’s characters.

  17. LTG

    July 26, 2011 03:20 PM

    trolls *who* cruise

  18. COAL HAMLETS

    July 26, 2011 03:36 PM

    I love how douchebag idiots/trolls seem to bust out of the woodwork with their proclamations of “TRADE COAL HAMMLES HEZ AT HIZ PEAK TRADE VALUE!” or “WE GOTTA TRADE BROWN 4 BELLTRANN RITE NOWZ!” or how Sandoval would be our 8 hole hitter LOL

    I don’t often say this, but Joe Redden just MAY make the talk radio wackos look intelligent and level-headed.

  19. Insane Victorino

    July 26, 2011 03:54 PM

    @LTG and Coal Hamlets
    Good points!

  20. hk

    July 26, 2011 04:10 PM

    Joe Redden,

    Halladay threw 19 pitches in the ASG on 7/12. If Charlie had kept Roy pitching on every 5th day after the ASG, he would be pitching Wednesday night’s game vs. SF. How did Bochy know that Charlie would give Roy an extra day off and pitch Kendrick before him in the post-ASG order?

  21. Phillie697

    July 26, 2011 04:30 PM

    I do hope you can tell your fellow fans, Chris, that the World Series win was last year, because that’s ALL they talk about. It’s a bit annoying actually. I certainly don’t remember Phillies fans parading around that much 2/3 way through the 2009 season…

  22. Phillie697

    July 26, 2011 04:33 PM

    And, to make you feel better about Joe Redden, Chris… If the Giants want to trade the Panda, we will gladly take him, like, right now :D

  23. Phillie697

    July 26, 2011 04:57 PM

    Then again Bill, “I” don’t speak for the rest of the Phillies fans :) July 2009 I was more fascinated with the idea of Roy Halladay and the possibility of another WS championship. 2008 was like a distant memory that I bought a hat, shirt, hoodie, etc etc etc to commemorate, and to forget the memories of 1993 that were forever burned into the brain of a young man who literally died a little because of Mitch “worst reliever ever” Williams.

  24. Phillie697

    July 26, 2011 05:06 PM

    Well… Just noticed Zito is starting instead of Lincecum… That certainly changes things. Assuming the Freak would pitch tomorrow, that’s gonna be a fantastic game. I think the chance of the Phillies winning 2 out of 3 just went up a little.

  25. DomTheFuture

    July 26, 2011 05:14 PM

    well to say sandoval would be our 2nd or 3rd best hitter may be stretching it a bit.. id say utley, victorino, rollins, polanco (when healthy) and howard (usually) are all better. i’d also take chooch in a big spot over the panda any day.

    as for bochy’s managing, who cares? halladay threw like an extra 9 pitches and lee had a bad inning. they werent complaining so neither should we.

  26. Phillie697

    July 26, 2011 06:48 PM

    Well you are certainly entitled to your opinions, Dom, but to say that Polanco, Rollins, or Chooch is a better hitter than Panda is showing quite a bit of bias. All three are better fielders than Panda, but I’m assuming you’re talking about just hitting.

  27. Joe Redden

    July 26, 2011 07:43 PM

    Wow. Debate breaks down to “Douchebag/Idiot/Troll”. I may not agree with a lot of you, but I appreciate the respectful way most of you responded and you make many valid points. COAL HAMLETS…not so much.

    We will just have to agree to disagree that Bochy pitched the Phillies pitchers intentionally. As for Panda in the lineup, I may have gone a little far to say 8th. But I would still put Victorino, Rollins, Chase, Howard, Polanco, and Ruiz ahead of him. I do have a lot of bias towards Philly players, but I think they are better players/hitters.

    I still stand by my statement that Panda is not a true power hitter. He may be built like Fielder, but he doesn’t hit for power like he does. When you have size like that, you are expected to hit for power, and he doesn’t.

  28. Phillie697

    July 26, 2011 07:43 PM

    Scary thought while reading a FanGraph article:

    www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/what-would-a-white-sox-fire-sale-look-like/

    Quentin? A Phillie? Low salary, corner outfielder, not a rental, mashes left-handed pitchers… Not a great defender, but his UZR this year is on the plus side, and he can’t possibly be worse than Ibanez. Now THIS is a guy I would trade a top-prospect for… Does RAJ read this blog, Bill?

  29. Chris

    July 26, 2011 11:14 PM

    Except Ibanez likely wouldn’t be traded and Charlie definitely would not sit him that often, meaning instead of 1 Ibanez and a Brown/Mayberry we have 2 Ibanez’s defensively. While Quentin’s defensive numbers this year have been average, I really doubt that this year is more indicative of his defense than the previous 2 years were. Additionally, it’s really tough to imagine a situation involving getting another outfielder that doesn’t involve either shipping Brown or reducing his playing time drastically, neither option I’m comfortable with. And the options that don’t involve those 2 things are basically Josh Willingham, but would he really be that much of an improvement over Mayberry as a bench player at this point? I guess you could say he would be an improvement over Francisco, ie Ibanez/Willingham platoon in left, Brown/Mayberry in right, but I doubt the cost would be worth it and its unlikely we could get him through waivers. It just doesn’t seem like there are any OF trades that would make sense because of Charlie’s faith in Ibanez.

    @Chris
    You’re right, my bad. So Lincecum and…Vogelsong? Even though he’s not pitching in the series. I dont know, I dont believe in the conspiracy theory; I thought Bochy was managing to give the team the best chance to win.

  30. RicinPortland

    July 27, 2011 09:29 AM

    Joe Redden = Joe Dirt.

    Point being that the Giants need some help in the lineup. We will get that help, but more than that we just need the bats to get hot. These guys have proved that they can hit. They have gotten big hits when it mattered. They need to get hot again. I think getting someone could bring the hitting fever to the Giants lineup.

  31. Phillie697

    July 27, 2011 10:15 AM

    @Ricin – Yeah, that lineup needs a hell of a lot more than one bat. Beltran will help, but he’s not going to magically transform that lineup into world-beaters. You can only hope adding Beltran will be just enough with that pitching staff, and I’m not convinced it is.

    @Chris – I’m not too worried about Dom being sat down. First, Charlie probably wouldn’t be that dumb. Second, there’s only two more months left in the season, and Ibanez’s contract is no more at the end of this season. Quentin would not be a rental, so we can’t just analyze it with only 2-3 months in mind. That’s the reason why RAJ doesn’t like rentals to begin with. I would be JUST fine with a Quentin-Victorino-Brown outfield next year, and I can live with Ibanez for two more months. Right now, Quentin would be an upgrade over BOTH Ibanez and Brown, so no matter who Charlie sits, we are better off.

  32. JB Allen

    July 27, 2011 11:44 AM

    Off-topic (sorry), but any thoughts as to the possibility of Giambi joining the Phillies? Why would RAJ do this? To give everyone a taste of what Howard will play like by the last year of his contract? What’s the thinking here?

  33. hk

    July 27, 2011 12:17 PM

    Joe Redden,

    In the interests of debate and not name calling, I’m still wondering how it is that you think Bochy knew that Charlie would not pitch Roy every 5th day after the All-Star Game on the 12th? If Charlie had done just that, Roy would have pitched on the 17th and 22nd and he would be going tonight.

  34. Phillie697

    July 27, 2011 01:38 PM

    @JB Allen,

    Giambi would be strictly a bench bat, an upgrade to Gload. He’s been hitting pretty well so I think there is value there; one need only to look to our ’98 playoff run and Matt Stairs for evidence. But he’s not the right-handed bat we’re looking for tho, so I don’t know what RAJ’s thinking is unless he REALLY doesn’t like our bench bats. Then again, hard to argue with a .418 wOBA and 159 wRC+ this year (yes, Giambi has been hitting THAT well this year, mad power too – .365 ISO).

  35. Phillie697

    July 27, 2011 01:39 PM

    Sorry, I don’t know what I was thinking when I said ’98. I meant ’08.

  36. JB Allen

    July 27, 2011 02:40 PM

    Phillie697 – Thanks, you raise a good point. Giambi could be very valuable as a bench bat or WS DH (if whatever team he’s playing for makes it that far). But I would be loathe to exchange young talent for Giambi, if that same talent could land a solid right-handed hitter.

    Should I take it as a good sign that the ESPN rumor-mill is saying almost nothing about Pence?

  37. Phillie697

    July 27, 2011 07:13 PM

    I don’t know who I’d rather have, Pence or Quentin…

  38. DomTheFuture

    July 27, 2011 11:09 PM

    phillie697.. thanks for the feedback. i try to be as unbiased as possible. but you may be right with my hitter rankings. but i tried to look at their offense as a whole. I disagree totally that you think panda is better than polanco. Polanco beat out panda for the allstar spot (yes i know popularity contest but still) and he earned it without even playing the last month.

    rollins is a tougher pick, but i tried to look at the total offensive package. rollins has more rbi than sandoval at this point (i know he was hurt) but the biggest this is his speed and new plate discipline (check the newest article on here). hes on pace to double up sandovals run production.

    as for chooch, read carefully my friend. i said in a big spot, as in “in the clutch,” but thats because ive seen him do it before. thats my bias. That being said, id bat sandoval 5th in the phillies lineup and never complain because he is very talented.

  39. Phillie697

    July 28, 2011 09:42 AM

    Well here on Bill’s blog we use more advanced statistics than all-star voting and RBIs to measure a hitter’s abilities. Polanco is not even a league average hitter. He got hot for a month, and got voted into the all-star game because everyone else was injured. Now his defense, I like. I like very much.

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