It’s three years old now, but if you’re interested in the Pacific Coast League back when it was an independent trying to qualify as a major league, and the San Francisco Seals of that time, check out SABR’s Baseball Research Journal, Volume 38, No. 1, on page 106. (It’s the one with Kennesaw Mountain Landis on the cover.)  Pretty good article on some guys that tried to create a publicly-owned ball club.


Thoughts about teams in the NL West today:

Dodgers (11-3) – At this point, throwing a pitch to Matt Kemp amounts to a suicide mission.

Rockies (7-6) – Dexter Fowler has struck out 10 times in 37 plate appearances.  In 40 plate appearances, Marco Scutaro has struck out zero times.

Giants (7-6) – Matt Cain has walked 1.13 batters per nine innings.  The only Giant starter with a number even close to that is Barry Zito, who has walked four hitters in 21 innings.

D’Backs (7-7) – Josh Collmenter has an ERA of 10.22 after three starts.  Trevor Bauer has a 0.57 ERA in Double-A.  Obvious solution: Heal Collmenter with Bauer’s touch.

Padres (3-12) – It’s hard to write something that’s not rude.  Fortunately, Chase Headly is hitting .292/.435/.646.

Henry Schulman has a piece in today’s Chronicle about Brian Wilson’s future with the Giants.  Wilson is a free agent after the 2013 season, so Schulman thinks it’s not too early to talk to Sabean about whether the Giants might sign Wilson long term.  Sabean quite sensibly states that, given the fact the Giants have Wilson under control for two more years and that the pitcher has dealt with recent injuries,  “we’re in the monitoring stage for obvious reasons.  We’re in the wait and see period.”

That’s great as far as it goes.  It’s later in the interview that Sabean scares me.  Disagreeing with the sabermetric argument “that teams overvalue saves and a closer’s make-up, and by extension overpay for the position when any number of relievers on a staff can close, Sabean compares a closer to “a placekicker with the game on the line.  A lot of guys can make kicks at any point during a game that might contribute to a win.  The big difference is when you have to make it to absolutely decide the game.”

So Sabean compares closing to kicking a field goal on the last play of a football game.  This is yet another example of the “saves” stat driving when a particular reliever is used, rather than having the situation in the actual baseball game drive when a particular reliever is used.  Brian Wilson entering a game with a three-run lead to face the sixth, seventh, and eighth batters in an opponents lineup is in no way comparable to the pressure of kicking that last-minute field goal.  And more often than not, Wilson enters the game with no runners on base, needing to get just three outs for victory.

Studies have shown that the odds of losing a game in which you have a three run lead with no opponent base runners is 2%.  This margin does not change much regardless of the closer being used. (Well, except for Mariano Rivera, but there’s a reason he’s referred to as the “cyborg closer.”)  Contrary to Schulman’s statement about Wilson’s make-up, he often doesn’t really have to face much “ninth-inning heat.”  In fact, often the real heat is faced by Lopez or Romo when they are called into the game in the seventh or eighth inning to squelch a rally when the opponent has a man or two on base.

Brian Wilson had a fantastic 2010, will always be a hero to Giants fans, and will probably be an adequate-or-better closer for the Giants for the next two years.  On a team with payroll constrictions, though, he can’t possibly be a part of the future. If the Giants want to be quasi-frugal, if they want to hit a certain number when it comes to year-to-year profits, they’ve forfeited their right to a luxury closer. Committing to Wilson for almost $10 million a season for several seasons would be a miserable allocation of money. Even if you assume that Wilson will be effective despite his declining velocity and horrific walk rate last year — a huge assumption — the Giants still can’t afford a luxury closer. Luxury closers are for teams that can afford luxuries. The Giants can’t afford a real shortstop.

My brother-in-law and I made plans back in April to get to a San Jose Giants game just as soon as we could to see Bumgarner, Alderson, and Posey before they got shipped off to the Giants’ double-A affilicate, the Connecticut Defenders. Well, everyone who follows such stuff knows we missed the boat on Bumgarner and Alderson. But another player who was also promoted to the Defenders, one whom I hadn’t even thought of as being in my own personal top-10 of Giants prospects (although I thought he had some “sleeper” quality) is Brandon Crawford, who tore up the California League, and is doing the same to the Eastern League.

A fourth-round pick last June, Crawford has all the tools in the world, but things never quite came together for him at UCLA, and what was expected by many to be a breakout junior year never materialized. His selection and $375,000 bonus is a pure upside wager. (The scouts always say, “if you don’t know what you want, always draft the tools.” Those tools have started the year with a combined .994 OPS (he went four-for-four last night), and while it’s too early to come to any conclusions, keep an eye on this one.

The Giants gained ground this week on the Mannyless Dodgers, taking two of three in Chavez Ravine.  Kicking things off is Barry Zito, who holds MLB’s EqA leaders to one run in six frames.  Thanks to a 1.9 K/BB ratio — his best since 2004 — Zito has four quality starts in his last five, but he’s just 1-3 for his troubles thanks to 2.6 runs per game of support.

Bengie Molina has bashed three homers in a three-game span, powering the Giants to a pair of wins.  He’s got seven of the team’s NL-low 16 dingers, but through 104 plate appearances, still hasn’t drawn a walk, and yes, the Giants are last in that category as well as scoring.  Sadly, Molina’s .308 OBP is just the fourth-lowest among the team’s eight regulars, and it’s two points above the team’s rate.

Tim Lincecum whiffs 13 snakes in eight shutout innings, and while the bullpen blows that sterling performance, it does allay some concerns about the reigning NL Cy Young winner after two lackluster starts to open the season.  Meanwhile, lackluster would be an improvement for the Giants’ offense, where Fred Lewis and Aaron Rowand are the only regulars with OBPs above .300 and SLGs above .340.  Like their Bay Area neighbors, they’re last in their league in EqA.