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Sports Then and Now

2016 MLB Preview: Is It the Year of the San Francisco Giants (Again)? 1

Posted on April 03, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Madison Bumgarner will look to build on his 18 win season of 2015 as the Giants look for their fourth World Series title of the decade.

Madison Bumgarner will look to build on his 18 win season of 2015 as the Giants look for their fourth World Series title of the decade.

Since winning their first World Series in 56 years back in 2010, the San Francisco Giants have become the kings of the even year in Major League Baseball. It is an even year, so does that mean it is again time for the Giants to win the World Series?

Though the Giants posted a respectable 84-78 record last season, they were well off the pace of the playoffs as they finished eight games behind the division winning Los Angeles Dodgers and 13 games out of a Wild Card spot.

Their past championship teams have been built on a foundation of strong pitching and that will certainly have to be the case again if they hope to make a run in 2016.

The addition of Johnny Cueto would appear to be a great move in that direction. Though he finished 2015 with an 11-13 record and struggled during his tenure with the World Champion Royals, Cueto should benefit from returning to the National League this season. He registered an ERA under three runs a game in each of his final five seasons with the Cincinnati Reds (including 2.62 before being traded to KC in 2015).

In addition, Jeff Samardzija is back in the National League after posting an 11-13 record with 4.96 ERA pitching for the Chicago White Sox in 2015. Though he has registered only one winning season during his career, Samardzija has shown signs of greatness and should benefit from being part of a solid rotation.

The remainder of the staff includes three pitchers with All-Star pedigrees. Madison Bumgarner was 18-9 with a 2.93 ERA last season and is the clear staff ace. Jake Peavy was 8-6 with a 3.59 ERA in 19 starts last season.

Matt Cain has struggled the last three seasons, but if he is able to regain the form he showed while winning 55 games between 2009 and 2012 he will be a great end of the rotation anchor for the Giants.

The position lineup is led by perennial All-Star catcher Buster Posey. The 2012 MVP has been a steady performer since missing most of the 2011 season due to a horrific home plate collision. He has played at least 147 games in each of the last four years and in 2015 hit .318 with 19 home runs and 95 RBI. Read the rest of this entry →

MLB Mid Season Report Card: Part 3 – NL West 2

Posted on July 15, 2010 by Don Spieles

San Diego Padres (51-37): A+

San Diego Padres' Adrian Gonzales watches his pop fly to Seattle Mariners' third baseman Mat Tuiasosopo in the third inning at SAFECO Field in Seattle May 23, 2010. The Padres beat the Mariners 8-1. UPI/Jim Bryant Photo via Newscom

Once predicted to be the major trade piece for later in July, Adrian Gonzales is going to stay put with the first place Padres.

There are lots of surprises in the standings right now, but none as astounding as the first place Padres. Leading in to the season, the Pads were on a lot of radar screens, but only because the general consensus was that by this point in the season there would be an on going circus of teams trying to get Adrian Gonzalez. Low and behold, here we sit, about sixteen days from the trade deadline and one this is pretty certain: Gonzalez is going nowhere.

Gonzalez is having a productive year (18 home runs, .301 average, 56 RBI) as most everyone thought he would. The thing is that, even though no one else on the team has more than 8 homers, and even though the Padres are 12th in the NL in runs scored, they are at the top of the West (closely followed by the Rockies.)

The Padres pitching is the reason. San Diego has given up the fewest runs in the NL (304), they are 3rd best in strikeouts (603) and 3rd best in bases-on-balls (279). Their bullpen has 18 wins and 25 saves to their credit, which bolsters the starting five, all but one of which (Kevin Correia) have a sub-four ERA.

The Padre’s are not too shabby on defense. Their top nine position players (by innings played) have a total of 25 errors over 88 games. (For a little perspective, compaired to the other NL division leaders, the Pads are tops. Using the same formula, the Braves have 47errors, the Reds have 27.)

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the Padres are a post season surety. If the Padres cannot stay ahead of the Rockies, the Dodgers, Met’s and Phillies would all be within 1.5 games of the wild-card – if it were decided today, that is. Read the rest of this entry →

2010 Baseball Previews: NL West – Round and Round They Go! 4

Posted on April 01, 2010 by Don Spieles

For real baseball fans, the NL West is going to be the division to watch in 2010.  The term “real baseball fans”, as used here, refers to those who love baseball so much that they absorb every bit of it they can (College world series, little league world series, and spring training games are a requisite for entry in to this club.)  No matter what your favorite team, if the game and it’s intricacies get you going, the NL West and it almost total unpredictably this year will be exactly the kind of anything can happen free for all that will have you riveted.

In the process of gathering info and stats for this, the last divisional breakdown before opening night on Sunday, two things became clear (and really, only two things.)  The first is that the Padres will need something akin to divine intervention to finish anything but last.  The other surety is the finishing order of the other four teams is totally up in the air in the hive brain that is baseball analysis.

With that in mind, here’s how it’ll all work out.

Seattle Mariners vs Colorado Rockies in Denver

Todd Helton's veteran presence will lead his young team to the division title.

1. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies have dome some serious house cleaning, in terms of sheer numbers at least.  Included in the list of players that have departed are 3B Garrett Atkins (Orioles), RHP Jason Marquis (Nationals), OF Matt Murton (Hanshin Tigers) , INF Mike McCoy (Blue Jays), RHP Jose Contreras (Phillies), C Yorvit Torrealba (Padres), RHP Joel Peralta (Nationals), RHP Ryan Speier (Nationals), RHP Matt Herges (Royals), RHP Josh Fogg (Mets), LHP Alan Embree (Red Sox).

Incoming players? How about 3B Melvin Mora (Orioles), C Miguel Olivio (Royals), RHP Tim Redding (Mets), C Paul LoDuca (Marlins) , OF Jay Payton (Orioles).  Two of those, (Paytonand LoDuca) didn’t play in 2009.

Shopping lists aside, the Rockies are a young team, but a team with a lot of potential stars and some vets mixed in for guidance.  Todd Helton still man’s first, with Jason Giambi as a back-up and pinch-hitter.  They sport a solid rotation of Ubaldo Jimenez, Aaron Cook, Jorge De La Rosa, Jeff Francis, and Jason Hammel will lead off for a deep bull pen that includes Franklin Morales, Rafael Bettencourt, and Huston Street.

Potential negatives are the obvious lack of experience in most position players and Huston Street is having some health issues.  The thing about the Rockies, though, is what makes then sort of like the Twins of the NL; they never quit.  They are scrappy and are usually always relevant in September conversations.

Unless they are decimated by injuries or some other major unforeseen calamity, the Rockies take the NL West in 2010. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages
      April 8, 2024 | 1:26 pm
      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

      Read more »

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