Giants

Giants' starting staff pitching at historic level

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Giants' starting staff pitching at historic level

DETROIT -- There is no compelling reason to break this World Series down to tiny components. You have the answer before you already. The 2012 San Francisco Giants are the 1966 Baltimore Orioles.

And nobody connected with the team wants to talk about it. Well get to their reluctance in a moment.

If you need historical edification, those Orioles swept the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-2, 6-0, 1-0 and 1-0.

Yeah, you read that right. 5-2, 6-0, 1-0 and 1-0. It was one of the greatest orgies of pitching brilliance in the post-dead ball era, and if youre too young to remember it, blame your parents.

And these Giants have a piano-wire around this World Series after Saturdays 2-0 win over the Detroit Tigers. They have won their games 8-3, 2-0 and 2-0, and have Matt Cain, putatively their best pitcher, starting in Game 4 Sunday night.

BAGGS' INSTANT REPLAY: Giants one win away from World Series title

In other words, the Giants are on the cusp of being the best starting staff to breeze through a series in nearly half a century. Plus Tim Lincecum. And if this reeks of counting ones hens before they have achieved full velocity escape, well, its all we have to go on.

And its there is to go on, because the Giants know that 3-0 needs to be made into 1-2. This is part of the series where the best players lie to themselves about how well off they are, and where history is ignored as it suits them.

1966? No, pitching coach Dave Righetti lied with a wide smile. I remember 1965, because it was the only time I ever got to stay home from school to watch Sandy Koufax. But 1966? Dont do that to me.

I remember 1966. I was 10, general manager Brian Sabean said. I remember Pat Dobson, who was one of my very best friends.

Well, okay, except that Dobson wasnt part of that Baltimore team.

But baseball people remember that staff, especially its historic World Series in which three starting pitchers and one reliever swept the Dodgers, the last three games with complete game shutouts. And these were their pitching lines:

Player IP H R ER BB K
Dave McNally 2.1 2 2 2 5 1
(Moe Drabowsky) 6.2 1 0 0 2 11

Jim Palmer 9 4 0 0 3 6
Wally Bunker 9 6 0 0 1 6
Dave McNally 9 4 0 0 2 4

STARTERS TOTAL 29.1 16 2 2 11 17
TEAM TOTAL 36 17 2 2 13 28

The starters had an ERA of 0.89. When you include Drabowskys relief work in Game 1, it lowers to 0.50.

Now compare it to the first three games of this series, against a Detroit team that hasnt really manufactured any runs in the postseason to make for their power struggles.

Player IP H R ER BB K
Barry Zito 5.2 6 1 1 1 3
Madison Bumgarner 7 2 0 0 2 8
Ryan Vogelsong 5.2 5 0 0 4 3

STARTERS TOTAL 18.1 13 1 1 7 14

Now add the bullpen totals from those three games 8.2IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 5K and you get a starters ERA of 0.49, and an overall ERA of 1.00.

Then, just for fun, add the last three starts of the NLCS:

20.1IP, 15H, R, ER, 3 BB, 19 K, 0.44 ERA

And you get this total:

38.2IP, 28H, 2R, 2ER, 10BB, 33 K, 0.47 ERA

A ball era has to be very dead indeed to produce numbers like that, even with a relatively small sample size like six games.

So yes, we are talking history, writ large. The Orioles pitched in a heavily pitcher-dominated era, where the mounds were 15 inches high as opposed to the current 10, and their two games in Dodger Stadium were on a mound that was probably closer to 20.

But these Giants? The mound is more normalized, but the results are suffocating.

Maybe were entering another heavy pitcher-dominated era, Sabean said. I dont know. I know pitching like this is like hitting. One feeds into the next one, and pretty soon it starts to seem like one long game.

But we have tomorrow, and it can all change like that. We dont make any pronouncements about anything, because this thing isnt done.

But it is close, and it is breathtaking. Tim Lincecums postseason relief work is an ongoing absurdity, and we didnt even take that romantic vision of a Cy Young winner revivified into account. We have Comrade Hayes for that.

The Giants are the front edge of a World Series sweep, one that will avenge Detroits last sweep over the 1984 San Diego team that included Bruce Bochy and Tim Flannery.

And no, they didnt want to talk about that yet, either. Not because of a jinx, but because of the effrontery of totaling the contents of the coop prematurely.

But they are also on the front edge of one of the great collective pitching performances ever. It will make the 2010 Series look like a titanic struggle if it ends the way it has begun.

For the moment, though, the Giants themselves are emphasizing the if.

Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role

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AP

Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role

SAN FRANCISCO -- A familiar face is returning to the Giants organization to serve a key front office role.

The Giants announced Friday that David Bell, their former third baseman, has been hired as Vice President of Player Development. General manager Bobby Evans said Bell will oversee all aspects of player development, including hitting, pitching, strength and conditioning and the operations of the minor league affiliates. 

"He was the perfect fit," Evans said. "His experience is so strong and encompasses so many aspects of the game. He’s got a really strong base of experience and background and understanding of the game, and he has a passion for the game and working with young players. He really showed a desire to pursue this opportunity." 

Bell, 45, played 12 major league seasons and spent 2002 with the Giants. He hit 20 homers that year as the starting third baseman and scored the winning run in the final game of the NLCS. Since retiring, Bell has served as a minor league manager for the Reds and a big league coach for the Cubs and Cardinals. He spent last season as the bench coach in St. Louis. 

Shane Turner had previously served as farm director, but at the end of the minor league season he was asked to take a role as a special assistant in baseball operations. While Evans did not announce any other changes Friday, there are expected to be other moves within the organization's depth chart. At least one member of the coaching staff is still in the running for a managerial opening. 

Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered

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AP

Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered

Firing a manager is easy, and there are lots of ways to do it.

Dusty Baker, for example. He worked this year on the last year of a contract, which usually means there won’t be another one, and he relied on his players to deliver the goods.

Which, as we remember from our reading, they didn’t do. Again.

But Baker was marked for the chop unless those players did deliver, and when they didn’t, general manager Mike Rizzo did the expedient thing.

He fired one person rather than several. And changed exactly nothing.

Baker’s managerial career is probably over now, as most teams don’t look at 68-year-olds to fix their teams. He will never manage a  World Series champion, something he ached for, and he was always be caricatured in part as the guy who didn’t speak metric, and who believed in players as men whenever in doubt.

And the Nats didn’t betray him, either. They were always not as good in the big moments because someone else was, and they became part of Washington’s new fetish – Why Can’t We Win One? It’s as if having a cringeworthy President isn’t good enough for them.

So the time came, and he will be replaced by someone who will either win and get credit for work that was largely his, or he won’t win and the town can continue to wallow in its tedious We’re-The-New-Cubs pity. It is the circle of life.

At least it is for groups of people. For individuals, the circle of life is actually nothing more than a straight line that ends abruptly. For Dusty Baker, as it did for Tony La Russa in Phoenix two days earlier, that day came today. He deserves to be remembered as a very good manager who won a lot more than he lost, made more friends than enemies, and was honest from Day One until the end.

Which, as we also know, doesn’t matter a whole lot on days like this.