San Francisco Giants – Baseball’s Misguided, Patchwork ‘Sanctuary’ Team Could Win It Again in 2018

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How the Giants REALLY Won Their First (3) World Series in 56 Years

 

2018 Giants Likely Suspects?

2018 Giants Likely Suspects?

‘GORKYS’ (no longer ‘Dorky’) -Giants’  2018 unlikely star’ who, at age 31,   has already hit six homers in only 52 games after hitting none last year,  while batting over .300 until recently (.284). He has been. to say the least, a surprise replacement for Austin Jackson, another off season acquisition for whom the Giants paid big money only to perform below expectations. Gorkys, a lifetime .244 hitter with with only 8 homers in five years is this year’s version of Ross-Panik-Scutaro et al though Alan Hansen may give him a run for his money (or lack thereof)

 

2018 SF Giants Back To Their Old (PED) Ways?  – Most Dishonest Team In Baseball?

The major league baseball team with the most KNOWN  PED users since Barry Bonds came along over two decades ago, the #SFGiants appear at it again, going for another World Series with  another bunch of unlikely performers ala 2010, 2012 and 2014 that somehow(?) manage to win just enough games  to skate by – and , in the case of 2010-2014, giving the Giants their first World Series wins in 56 years.  On and even off the field, the Giants do will do whatever it takes, in our opinion, to win and fill the stadium, like the  bogus run of  ‘sellouts’ most of us knew was phony by the thousands of empty seats  but said little.   But, what EXACTLY goes on in this Giants clubhouse and management style in the most liberal of American cities, perhaps the only one where Bonds remains a hero  despite accomplishing his other-worldy feats with an admitted concoction of ‘the cream and the clear’ steroids, now referred to as PEDs . Bonds records stand today and put a major black mark on baseball, not to mention the previous records  of Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and others that Bonds and the complicit Giants expunged.

Baseball Junkie Aubrey Huff

BASEBALL JUNKIE – Aubrey Huff 2016 book that helped explain the unlikely late-career ‘heroics’ of another ‘cast-off ‘ who helped bring the team its first (tainted?)  WS rings in 56 years

 

Giants management knows exactly what’s going on when they continue to over-perform with ‘no name’ players while under-performing money ballplayers . In 2014 President Larry Baer even announced that the team, with its reputation for acquiring tainted players (Bonds, Melky Cabrera, Guellermo Mota, Jose Guillen, Michael Morse, etc. etc.) would steer clear of such in the future. It hasn’t happened. For years ownership  – Baer, Brian Sabean and company – have failed with legitimate trades and have, instead, gone the only route that has brought them any success – the  black market route, in our opinion, where the team brings in retreads other teams literally will pay to leave but who usually, somehow, seem to gain new life in San Francisco.  While the legit free agent acquisitions and trades generally have failed, it’s the ‘rejects’ who suddenly and shockingly bloom in San Francisco, most recently take one  Gorkys Hernandez or   returning late-career players such as Pablo Sandoval, whose big contract Boston ate just to get rid of him.  In 2010 it was no-name Andres Torres who came out of nowhere  to spur the team  , parlaying his supposed or real ‘ADD’ affliction into money thanks to the PED Adderall.  Newly acquired Aubrey Huff , we have since learned, accomplished his big, late-career year, thanks to the same PED drug, with HIS breakout year in 2010 while in his mid-30s helping propel the Giants to their first World Series in 56 years, only to crash and burn the following year, which Huff wrote about in his recent book.  Another player with a PED history, Jose Guillen , joined the Giants mid-season, and only lasted  less than a month before he was requested to leave the team by MLB after PEDs were seen inn his wife’s mail; but Guillen had already had a number of key hits to add to Torres’ and Huff’s output in propelling the Giants to that first World Series in 56 years.

 

In 2012 , the Giants knew what they were getting into with once –indicted Melky Cabrera, who chose the more conventional testosterone mix, only to be caught and banished mid-season. But, by then, he had led the team with a .300-plus average and a number of game-winning hits that gave the Giants enough momentum to  coast into the post-season. There were several others late-career journeymen like Cody Ross (2010), Pat Burrell (2012) and Marco Scutaro (2012) who would join the Giants to see their late-career numbers suddenly skyrocket, again, helping the Giants get into playoffs; while these players were not indicted for PEDs, their numbers were so astonishing one has to wonder, in our opinion, if they weren’t on something (e.g. Scutaro, 37,  coming over from Colorado mid-season, raising his .265 average to nearly .350 through the remainder of the season and playoffs. In 2014, known PED user with Seattle,  Michael Morse, another ‘oldtimer’ regained his youth if only for half a season to rocket a number of homers and key hits to put the Giants in position for their third World Series victory in five years.

 

These are only recent examples. The Giants learned early on how in the home town of BALCO how to ‘beat’ the baseball drug tests. As local PED guru, Victor Conte, often said, a player has to be ‘dumb or dumber’ to get caught. Only thru the Mitchell Report (2007) and later Biogenesis  (Florida) bust (thanks to an inside informant- not drug tests), did we get an inkling as to the extent   PEDs were being used in professional baseball circa 2000-2010.  With more homers hit last year than ever before , one has to believe that PEDs remain a big part of the game, even if the new commissioner seems to talk a better anti-drug game than enforce it, and with many , especially younger fans brought up on PEDs, accepting the artificially enhanced 2000s baseball as ‘a part of the game ’ now.

Circa 2012. Same trends for 2010 , 2014 and other years both with pitchers and hitters

Circa 2012. Same trends for 2010 , 2014 and other years both with pitchers and hitters

It’s not to say that other teams haven’t followed the Giants success via the dark side – some players named in the Mitchell Report and Biogenesis bust remain in the game today, years later – Nelson Cruz to name one – and there are probably a whole crop of new ones who continue to stay ahead of drug testing with the latest hard-to-detect designer drugs. With last year’s record homer output, you can’t attach it all to a harder baseball or ‘launch angle.’  You , too , can be blind and  believe as the last two commissioners that drugs are all but been eliminated from the game – there’s only been one bust so far this year (Robinson Cano) – but it’s likely that PEDs carry on (in our opinion) in new forms and methods. Without a new Mitchell Report or better drug testing, we’ll never know, but , again, looking at the homer numbers – as well as high velocity pitching and strikeouts by pitchers – it looks as though its not only the hitters   taking advantage but pitchers, too, in our opinion.

 

Then,  we have perhaps the two normally weakest links among   Giant regulars suddenly leading the team in hitting (the Brandons) at the ripe ages of 30 - hitting   better than even Posey and much better  than the newly acquired big money   stars, McCutcheon and Longoria, who, by the way are only a year and two older than the Brandons!

BRANDON BELT  has already hit 11 homers with a .307 average in just 53 games, far ahead of any previous year – this at the ripe age as McCutcheon (31).  Meanwhile, BRANDON CRAWFORD, below,   a lifetime .256 hitter has seven homers and a team-leading .324 average! Way ahead of any prior year – and, he’s no spring chicken either, at 30.

Team leader with .324 average, Crawford, like Belt, having an unlikely career year at the unlikely age of  30.

 

BRANDONS and GORKYS – Better hitting and defense

 

It’s interesting that the Giants decided to keep the Brandons on the team for another year, even five years after they had never fulfilled their expectations,   with career averages not much over .250 and never having hit more than 21 homers in a season (Belt, the power hitter, never hit more than 18).  Not  to say, they didn’t have  good spurts, like in the post-season and when games were on the line. ( Brandons Get Better With Age and * -2014) The Brandons have long  been a big part of the PED culture on the team more than others,  in our opinion, looking away silently when others were caught (such as Cabrera,   with his subsequent lame ‘website excuse,’ and others   (Guillen, Torres, Huff,  Mota, Morse) not to mention suspects (Scutaro, Ross, Sandoval and even Hunter Pence, who were never found out, if they were, in fact, users.   It seems quite odd to see these journeymen, along with Hernandez,   suddenly leading the team in hitting, ahead of bonafide career hitters like Posey, McCutcheon and Longoria, even if on the downhill.   Note how Belt  and Crawford have cut down on their strikeouts to some extent, wearing out pitchers with foul balls and eventual hits,  while also fielding better than ever at advanced ages – another possible outcome  of improved hand-eye coordination which is also a product of those Bondsian ‘helpers.’ They may strike out from time to time but , in between drug tests(?) (in our opinion) you’ll see them go on tears –  spoiling and tiring opposing pitchers’ good pitches enabling the Giants to win games against teams and pitchers they would likely, normally lose . The Brandons are almost the same age as McCutcheon and Longeria but are, amazinging, performing much better than these one-time stars.

 

How does a career .240 hitter like Gorkys Hernandez suddenly hit over .300, displacing Austin Jackson, for whom the Giants spent big money to play center field? His six  homers   already this year are more than he’s hit in the last five years – he didn’t hit any last year – and it’s more than bonafide sluggers Posey and McCutcheon.  Shades of   Ross,Burrell, Huff , Scutaro and Sandoval.

 

PEDs  and Hand-Eye Coordination

The Giants have long been one of the best teams at NOT striking out. This year may be the exception with newcomers McCutcheon, Longoria and Jackson adding to the strikeout total. But Watch as unlikely hitters Crawford, Belt and Gorkys wear down opposing pitchers and either hit them or get them out of games early with long at bats often ending in walks or bloop hits.  PEDs are known to help  players see the ball better and not striking out, perhaps explaining at least in part the Giant successes in recent years.

Even Sandoval – he of the three homer playoff game against Detroit  star Justin Verlander in 2012 after only hitting 12 homers all season – has suddenly stopped striking out like before and has even drawn a number of walks, adding to opposing pitcher frustrations.  Sandoval has always hit well in post season and , though never indicted, he is another Giant we believe could be benefiting from PEDs. Why else would the Giants bring back  a player who couldn’t hit .250 in his three years in Boston and who would be out of baseball if not for the Giants. Atmosphere alone cannot add 50 points and 5-10 homers, in our opinion. The Giants knew exactly what they were doing, bringing back Sandoval.

 

It’s one thing to for players to suddenly improve after coming to the Giants but another thing for players to get even better in the POST SEASON against superior competition. Here’s a sampling of Giants pitchers in 2012. Improvements were similar in 2010 and 2014 post seasons. Player names may change but modas operandi the same

Giants Unlikely Post-Season ‘Magic’

Many will admit that the the less-than-stellar Giants have benefitted from the Wild Card system where a team can get on a hot streak at the end of the season and go all the way. But three years in five (though the Giants actually made it the old way(?) in 2012 without need of wild card status – but with a lot of other kinds of help via Cabrera and company.

The Giants somehow steamrolled top teams through the playoffs in 2010-2014 with their less-than-stellar cast of characters.  With only two ‘super-stars’ in Posey and Bumgarner, the Giants managed to get past much better teams, time and again. Even ‘excommunicated’ Barry Zeto managed a brief comeback in helping the Giants to their 2012 victory while players like Sandoval and Pence have played like Babe Ruth in not one but both of their post seasons (2012 and 2014), hitting near .350 against top-flight pitching. Meanwhile, most of the team hit  and pitched  much better in the post-season than it did all season (see stats) ; one would expect the opposite against top competition.

 

 

ALEN HANSON over-worldly numberw with Giants

Move over Gorkys-and Joe Panik? ALEN HANSON – a lifetime .243 hitter, SUDDENLY has a .346 average with 5 homers in only 19 games . It took him over 100 games to hit as many homers in the previous three years and with a much lower batting average.

 

ALEN HANSON and Hispanic players

It’s a fact – perhaps controversial – that the great majority of PED users have been  Hispanic, especially Venezuelans. It’s said that due to the poor culture they grew up in, Venezuelans will do anything to ‘escape.’  And, the Giants have been right there acquiring more than their share of such players. In their World Series, years, the Giants had a seeming direct connection to the Caribbean, with the help of the Kansas City Royals, with which they made a large share of their trades, i.e. Cabrera, Gullen,  Petit,  Blanco – the latter a close friend and big fan of Cabrera, who , like Sandoval, is back with the Giants in 2018 perhaps in the Giants effort to ‘bring back the even-year magic.’  Fully half the team players were Hispanic

Every year has featured at least one –usually more- unlikely uber-performances. This year, in addition to Hernandez and the Brandons, new back up second baseman, Alen Hanson, from the Dominican Republic, has suddenly come on even stronger than GORKYS, more like  Cabrera, Scutaro, Blanco, Jose Uribe, etc.  with a ‘career year’ ;  a five year veteran with an undistinguishable past, Hanson already has more homers than Posey and others despite being out most of the season with an injury. It ‘s reminiscent of how Marco Scutaro came in from left field to fill  the second base void in 2012 and later Joe Panik doing same   in 2014, suddenly becoming both a hitter for average and power after an undistinguishable minor league career.

 

FOUR UNLIKELY .300 HITTERS

So, we have not one but two cast-offs suddenly becoming power hitters as Giants while hitting more than 40 points higher than their career averages   , one at age 31 in Gorkys and Hanson.  Then,  we have perhaps the two normally weakest links among   Giant regulars suddenly leading the team in hitting (the Brandons) at the ripe ages of 30 – hitting   better than even Posey and much better  than the newly acquired big money   stars, McCutcheon and Longoria, who, by the way are only a year and two older than the Brandons! Next thing you know the Brandons will be asking for more money.  Of course , our suspicions of how Hanson,  Gorkys, Brandons  and others are achieving their success is our opinion but the   stats speak for themselves – as do those of Barry Bonds, who was a mere .290 hitter who never hit more than 36 homers before coming to the Giants at   almost 30 years old.  Think about it.

DRUG TESTING

2012 mid-season PED victim but not before he catapulted the Giants to first place, MELKY CABRERA was part of the ‘Venezuela Connection’  on the Giants (via Kansas City) and beloved by fellow countrymen, especially Gregor Blanco, now back on the team

 

Giants Misguided,  ‘Sanctuary Team’

Instead of rebuilding an exciting, young team as would be the plan for most clubs who finished with the worst record in baseball the previous year, the Giants have elected to try to bring another world series to ‘The City’ in 2018.  Good luck. A patchwork team of over-the-hill, over-paid veterans and ‘black market’ no-namers would be lucky to finish at .500. It could happen – just like the Giants three unlikely World Series, thanks to the Giants ‘win-at-all costs’ attitude and a city that will overlook ‘fake’ baseball and player dalliances . 

Unlike the more-exciting, young, blue collar team across the Bay in Oakland, the Giants management feels its more important to put up a winning team than an exciting, up-and-coming one that will be around for years to come. Just as the Giants feel they have to fill all their seats, whether it be to corporate-types more interested in the luxury box bar than the game down below or young millenials brought in with deep discount seats.

 

 

Since Bonds, the Giants have had 23 KNOWN PED players on   the team – more than any other, parlaying BB’s ‘Secret Sauce’ into their first (3) World Series in 56 years. Even though the Giants finished 2017 with the worst record in baseball, they think they can do it again – through whatever means- in this even year, instead of ‘rebuilding’ as most teams would in the same position. But, as we know, the Giants are different

 

 

Much like the sanctuary city they play in , the Giants are baseball’s ‘sanctuary’ team that will take in any player who can hit or pitch. Who would have thought a Sandoval, who cruelly dismissed the team when he opted for Boston four years ago, would be back, or Gregor Blanco or pitcher Dyson, a fair-to-midlin’ reclamation project. Nary a superstar – even Posey and Bumgarner have seen their best days – is on the team-  just a bunch of guys who can put some streaks together by whatever means.  Sure, other teams have followed in the Giants footsteps and have benefitted to a lesser extent using artificial means.  The Giants, now 20+ years in the making, have it down to a science .  There’s a political element to the Giants, too, which we have only touched on; think about it and perhaps we’ll save that for another discussion./

 

After a disastrous 2017 the Giants appear back at it again- a mediocre team on paper currently winning with smoke and mirrors and who knows what else. The big difference between this year and last year are not the symbolic additions of Longoria and McCutcheon the Giants brought in to appease its base but those four unlikely players, pictured above, and probably some others like Sandoval, in our opinion.  Now over .500 and only a couple games out of first place as of this writing, the Giants could go all the way again with another patchwork of undistinguished, overpaid, over-the-hill players and rejects who couldn’t catch on with another team but somehow(*) over-perform with the Giants.

 

San Francisco Giants – Baseball’s Misguided, Patchwork ‘Sanctuary’ Team

 

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