Category: Dailies

Trying to dispell some myths about Aaron Rowand

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The Associated Press

MoreSplashHits decided it was about time a Giants blogger gave Aaron Rowand a hug. He’s earned one.

Rowand has been the target of all sorts of rants from many folks who call themselves part of the Giants faithful. He’s even been booed by fans at AT&T Park … in a PRESEASON GAME for crying out loud!!

MoreSplashHits decided we should dispell some of the myth that have been passed around as facts by some Rowand-haters.

MYTH: Rowand has been terrible from the day he arrived in San Francisco.

TRUTH: Rowand was not terrible in his first two season with the Giants. He was an average player, maybe slightly below average. In 2008 and 2009, Rowand averaged 14 HRs, 67 RBI, .266 AVG. He had an average offensive winning percentage (the winning percentage a team of nine Aaron Rowands might expect to have with average pitching and defense) of .471 in those two years. That may not sound like much. But consider that the Giants team OWP in 2010 was .486.

But what drove Giants fans nuts is that’s not the production they expected to get when the Giants signed Rowand for $12 million a year. It also didn’t match his OWP of .638 he had with the Phillies in 2007 (but it was better than the OWPs of .459 and .437 he posted in 2005 and 2006).

And, of course, his OWP of .336 in 2010 was completely awful. However, if Rowand can return to his 2008 and 2009 production, he could be a servicable No. 8 hitter in the lineup or fourth outfielder.

MYTH: Rowand won’t play anywhere but center field

TRUTH: Rowand will play anywhere Bruce Bochy tells him to play.

This myth grew out of story during spring training when Rowand wasn’t happy talking about playing other outfield positions than center. Big surprise! He’s played CF his entire career. Here’s another surprise! Ready? He’s not happy about being a bench player. But that’s exactly what he’s become. Still, Rowand has been a professional and stayed ready to contribute when counted on. And what we have seen so far this season, Rowand in left field, Rowand in right field.

MYTH: Nate Schierholtz is clearly a better player than Aaron Rowand.

TRUTH: They’re really about the same player. In fact, Rowand may be a bit better.

Over the past three seasons, Rowand has had a wins over replacement player of 0.9, 1.0 and -0.2.

Schierholtz over the the last three seasons were 0.2, 0.0, -0.4.

In other words, Schierholtz plays like a replacement player.

Schierholtz’s offensive win percentage was .444 in 2009 and .400 in 2010.

In short, Schiertholtz has been given a chance to show what he can do as a big leaguer. And what we’ve learned it that he’s a really good fielder, but he has little power as a hitter and doesn’t hit for a high enough average to offset his lack of power.

MYTH: Rowand’s salary shouldn’t be factor when trying to decide the best 25 players for the roster.

TRUTH: What world do people who think this live in? Do they have mortgages? Jobs? Would these people, after buying a car that turned out to be a lemon and drained  their wallets with repair, simply decide to send that car to the junkyard even though it still runs and they still had two years of payments to make on it? The Giants are going to keep Rowand because of salary, because that’s the smart thing to do.

MYTH: The Giants should just cut their losses and release Rowand, similar to what the Cubs did with Carlos Silva or the Mets did with Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.

TRUTH: Silva had one year left on his contract for $11.5 million. Perez had one year left at $10 million. Castillo had one year left at $6 million. Rowand has two years left at $24 million. Do the math. It’s not the same. The best move for the Giants is to keep Rowand, hopes he turns it around and become productive enough to attract trade partners after this season, even if that means trading bad contract for bad contract. That’s what the Mets and Cubs did. And when it didn’t work out, they cut the players lose with a year to go on their contracts. The Giants may follow a similar path next season, but not this season.

THE BOTTOM LINE: MoreSplashHits is rooting for Aaron Rowand, just as every Giants fan should be doing. The better Rowand plays, the better it is for the Giants.

MoreSplashHits was actually hoping that the Cardinals would walk Freddy Sanchez in the 12th inning on Friday in hopes it would provide Rowand a chance to be the hero and quiet all those Rowand-haters.

Rowand’s had a nice approach at the plate this season. He isn’t trying to do too much, hitting to all fields. He’s 6 for 10 with five singles and a home runs (although Friday’s 12th-inning single would have been a three-run double if it didn’t end the game).

All three of his at-bats Friday were solid at-bats. He had a two-out single to center in the ninth that started the Giants game-tying rally. He had a sharply hit grounder to third that would have won the game in the 11th if not for a nice play by Allen Craig, an outfielder playing third base in Tony LaRussa’s five-infielder alignment. And then there was his game-winner.

Hey Bochy! Let’s give Aaron Rowand a start Saturday night against the Cardinals!

Think about it. It’s makes sense.

The Cardinals are starting a tough lefty in Jaime Garcia, who shut out the Giants on three hits last August.

So start the right-handed Rowand in right field, move Aubrey Huff to first base and give left-handed hitting Brandon Belt a day off to regroup and recharge. Plus, Huff can use a breather at first base with a day game on Sunday.

So what do you say, Boch? Give Rowand a start. He’s earned it.

MoreSplashHits moves up to No. 44

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The March rankings are in and MoreSplashHits moved up six spots to No. 44 on the Fan blogs with the most March page views on MLB blogs.

And if you think about it, there’s an eerie link.

Stay with me now.

MoreSplashHits is named in honor of the Splash Hits, home runs belted by a Giants player into McCovey Cove outside of AT&T Park.

No44.jpgMcCovey Cove is named for San Francisco Giants Hall of Fame Willie McCovey.

Willie McCovey is the all-time favorite Giant of the author of MoreSplashHits.

Willie McCovey wore No. 44.

Ooooooooooohh. It’s like the stars were aligned or something, right?

OK, maybe that’s a bit of stretch.

Stretch! Get It! Ha!

All kidding aside, MoreSplashHits would like to thank all those followers who helped solidify MoreSplashHits in MLB Blogs Fan Top 50.

MoreSplashHits made its Top 50 debut last month at No. 50 (to honor legendary Giants great … uhhhhhhh … Scott Garrelts???).

Now at No. 44, it brings back a Willie McCovey memory.

McCovey was the one Giants player I remember my dad pointing out to me at the first Giants game I ever attended at Candlestick Park in 1973.

And then the Giants traded Big Mac to San Diego at the season’s end. The following summer, my family moved from Sacramento to the LA suburb of Simi Valley — Dodger Country.

But in 1977, McCovey was back with the Giants, and he was re-installed as my favorite Giant.

That season the Dodgers decided to honor the 39-year-old McCovey with “Willie McCovey Night” at Dodger Stadium on August 16.

Some remember August 16, 1977 as the day Elvis Presley died. I remember it as the day it rained all day in Southern California. Willie McCovey Night was rained out.

It never rains in LA in August.

The game was replayed the next day, but “Willie McCovey Night” was rescheduled for a night in September. My dad got issued replacement tickets for the rained out game for September 26, the rescheduled “Willie McCovey Night.”

That night, Willie Mac hit one out and the Giants won 9-1. It was the first time I had ever attended a Giants-Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium that the Giants actually won.

And all those in attendance that night could take their ticket stub to a LA-area McDonald’s for a free Big Mac. So the next day, that’s what I did.

So, on Friday, to commemorate the Giants’ home opener and MoreSplashHits coming it at No. 44 on the MLB Blogs Fans Top 50 for March, I think I’ll go to McDonald’s and get a Big Mac.

You think if I showed them the link to the MLB Fan Blogs rankings, they’ll give me my Big Mac for free?

Southern California is lovely in April … except for the Giants

Sorry, it’s Spring Break and MoreSplashHits was away from the computer since our last post. Just  as well as there wasn’t much good news to report.

The schedule makers really didn’t like the Giants when they made out the 2011 schedule.

First, they only schedule nine of the Giants’ first 31 games at home and only 15 of their first 44.

Then, they didn’t have the World Series champions open at home (I know, the schedules are put together like a year ago, but it’s still annoying).

Then, they go and have the Giants open at LA and San Diego. Couldn’t have picked a nice road trip to Phoenix and Denver? Trips to Southern California in April have not gone well for the Giants.

Counting this season’s 1-4 road trip (so far), the Giants are 2-15 in April in games at Los Angeles and San Diego over the past three years.

Remember, the Giants had a 1-5 road trip to SoCal in April last season and still went on to win the World Series. This road trip is a bit more annoying because it’s to open the series.

So if the Giants can scramble and get a win Wednesday with Tim Lincecum on the mound, a 2-4 road trip might sound just fine. Compared to last season, the Giants will be one game ahead of last season.

You heard it here first: Freddy Sanchez is hot

Phew!

Well, that felt good.

After two frustrating losses to the Dodgers, the Giants finally broke into the win column in 2011 with a 10-0 win on Saturday.

Apparently, the Giants read MoreSplashHits most recent post in which we detailed how the Giants have struggled to score runs without hitting a home run going all the way back to the World Series.

Well, on Saturday, the Giants scored 10 runs and nine of those runs scored without a home run.

The Giants drew walks, slapped hits, got runners over and got them in.

If there’s anything that we can be critical about the Giants on Saturday, it’s that they scored 10 runs when they only needed one.

Too bad we can’t get a little run equity.

The Giants only needed one run because Matt Cain was again brilliant, shutting out the Dodgers over six stellar innings. Cain could have gone farther, having throw 87 pitches through six innings. But with the Giants up 8-0, there was no point.

Freddy Sanchez was the star of the game. Hmm, somewhere I read about how Sanchez was swinging the bat better than any Giant in the early going. Can anyone remember where I read that?

Anyway, Sanchez went 3 for 4 with walk, double and the Giants’ lone home run. He also scored two runs and drove in three.

Miguel Tejada, starting in the leadoff spot for the first time in 12 years, went 2 for 5 with two runs and two RBI.

Mark DeRosa, making his first start of the year, went 2 for 5 with two runs, two RBI and a double.

Even Aaron Rowand had a solid game, going 2 for 5.

It was a great day all around, and Bruce Bochy was able to get all 13 position players on the roster into the game and at least one at-bat.

Now, the Giants look to get the split on Sunday night. Remember, the mantra: “Win series at home; play .500 on the road.” A 2-2 open series in L.A. would be a good series.

The Giants send Barry Zito to the mound, just a few days after he was involved in a late-night auto accident. 

Say what?!? Tejada in the leadoff spot?!?

Just got a peek at the Giants’ lineup for Saturday. Not exactly the kind of lineup that instills confidence for a team struggling to swing the bats.

But MoreSplashHits sort of saw this coming.

Managers often like to get their reserves into the starting lineup during the first week of the season.

So as Mark DeRosa and Aaron Rowand are right-handed batters, it figures Bochy would want to start them against at lefty. And as the Dodgers’ Ted Lilly is the only lefty the Giants will face over the next few days, we sort of saw this coming.

Also, Andres Torres and Pablo Sandoval are weaker hitters from the right side than the left.

So here’s the the lineup for today.

SS Miguel Tejada (R)

2B Freddy Sanchez (R)

RF Aubrey Huff (L)

C Buster Posey (R)

OF Pat Burrell (R)

3B Mark DeRosa (R)

1B Brandon Belt (L)

CF Aaron Rowand (R)

SP Matt Cain (R)

Doesn’t instill a lot of confidence, does it?

And what’s up with Tejada at the leadoff spot? I suppose the silver lining here is that Bruce Bochy has finally realized that Aaron Rowand in NOT a leadoff hitter. And if Rowand is going to be in the starting lineup, this is exactly where he should be in the lineup.

But Tejada leading off? Yeah, I don’t get that either.

If MoreSplashHits were making out the lineup, we’d make three simple adjustments.

Sanchez batting leadoff. He’s been swinging the bat as well as any Giant in the early going, so have him in the No. 1 spot.

DeRosa would then follow at No. 2. That’s where he often resided in the lineup last season before he went on the DL.

Then Tejada in his normal spot in the No. 6 spot.

But no one asked MoreSplashHits. Let’s hope that’s Bochy’s only mistake today.

Big Belt and a bunch of bobbles

MoreSplashHits is still trying to figure out what’s worse.

The fact the Giants still don’t have their first win of the 2011 season.

That both losses to open the season were to the hated Dodgers.

That they’ve wasted two solid pitching effort.

That the Giants aren’t hitting well.

That despite all that, the Giants still could have won if they had simply played with more focus on defense.

For the second straight night, the Giants basically gave a victory to the Dodgers, losing 4-3 Friday night.

If there’s good news, it was the performance of rookie Brandon Belt. Belt hammered a 2-0 pitch from Chad Billingsley in the fourth over the center-field fence for his first career home run, a three-run shot.

But the rest of the night, the Giants failed to deliver a clutch hit. Buster Posey struck out in the seventh with a bases loaded.

Here’s an interesting stat to note. Dating back to the World Series, 12 of the last 13 runs the Giants have scored have come via the home run.

There was Belt’s 3-run blast Friday, Pat Burrell’s solo shot Thursday, Edgar Renteria’s three-run homer in Game 5 of the World Series, Buster Posey’s solo shot and Aubrey Huff’s two-run shot in Game 4 of the Series and solo home runs by Cody Ross and Andres Torres in Game 3.

The only non-homer produced run in that stretch was an RBI double by Torres in Game 4.

But unlike in the Fall Classic, the Giants aren’t doing the little things to win so far in 2011.

On Friday night, the Giants were up 3-1 in the sixth when Matt Kemp led off with a single. Kemp then went from first to third on a slow chopper by Marcus Thames.

Sandoval charged the ball and never looked over to Kemp before throwing Thames out at first. Kemp never stopped to go from first to third.

The mental lapse came back to get the Giants when Kemp scored on a sacrifice fly by James Loney.

After Rod Barajas singled to left, Aaron Miles rolled a swinging bunt to Sandoval at third. Sandoval charged, bare-handed the ball, then threw wide to first, allowing Barajas to advance to third and Miles go to second.

Instead of eating the ball, as he had no chance of getting Miles, Sandoval compounded the situation by throwing the ball away.

But it looked as if the Giants might escape the game when Hector Gimenez hit a weak bouncer back to Jonathan Sanchez. But the lefty took his eye off the ball, and dropped it, allowing Barajas to score the tying run.

Guillermo Mota relieved Sanchez and gave up a single to Rafael Furcal, scoring Miles with the go-ahead run.

So, some dumb luck (three balls that didn’t leave the infield grass), bad decisions and bad fielding left the Giants 0-2.

The Giants turn to Matt Cain to help stop the slide on Saturday afternoon. Let’s hope the Giants play some better defense behind the right-hander.

Ugly story from Opening Day at the Ravine

MoreSplashHits would like to send prayers for a speedy recovery to the San Francisco Giants fan who was hospitalized after being attacked by Dodger fans in the parking lot at Dodger Stadium Thursday night after the Dodgers’ 2-1 win over the Giants.

L.A. Police said a man was sent to the hospital with a serious head injury after being attacked by two unidentified men wearing Dodgers clothing.

The fan’s condition was said to be improving to serious, police said.

The unprovoked attack occurred when the two assailants approached three fans in Giants apparel.

Witnesses said the two men attacked the three fans, kicking and punching them and shouting expletives about the Giants as they delivered the blows.

The assailants fled the scene as people tried to assist the injured man. Police said the incident was captured on a security camera, and witnesses were able to provide descriptions of the assailants.

The report really hit home with MoreSplashHits, who was a Giants fan who grew up in the L.A. area. I attended many Dodgers-Giants games at Chavez Ravine, and had to endure many taunts from drunken Dodger fans when I was young. And that was in the late 1970s when the Giants were not very good.

In fact, it got so bad that I stopped wearing Giants clothing to the games until the mid 1980s, when the Giants fielded better teams and I was old enough to defend myself. When I was younger, I was always afraid of my dad getting into a fight with these drunken idiots who would lob curses at a 9-year-old kid.

But MoreSplashHits hopes Giants fans don’t get caught up in this story and assault any Dodgers fans when LA comes to San Francisco later this month.

And there’s one important aspect of this story that you need to remember: These two idiots were not true Dodger fans.

True Dodger fans would have left the premises by the eighth inning.