Armando Benitez has cursed us all, and the founder of Benitez Has Cursed Us, David Schubert, wants you all to stand up and recognize, yo. If you think that sentence makes no sense, then you should try following the stream of semi-consciousness that is Schube’s Twitter feed. He’s a sucker for misspelled words and ignorance, the troll’s troll, and a huge Skrillex fan. Also, @PitchersHit8th and I kind of owe him for blowing up one of his podcasts a while back. If you want to be offended while giggling at grown men discussing alternate universe theories, then click here.
In order to return the favor with an equally candid nonsensical thread, we decided to do a Q&A exchange. I posed questions as though I know a little about baseball and care a darn thing about what a Giants fan thinks. Curse of Benitez (CoB) fired back as though he sees through the facade that I know anything and should care about what he thinks. The result? Lots of words that made me remember one of my favorite lines from the movie Tommy Boy.
It’s called reading! Top to bottom, left to right….a group of words together is called a sentence. Take Tylenol for any headaches…Midol for any cramps. -Richard Hayden (David Spade)
Q: Before getting suspended by MLB for PED use, Melky Cabrera was cruising along with a .346/.390/.516/.906 line and basically gave the Giants the ideal guy for the #2 spot in the lineup. The team went 62-50 in his 112 starts. As a fan, do you feel cheated a bit by what people can/will say about how a PED user helped the Giants get to where they are?
There are different ways to look at it. I would like to stress how incredibly angry his teammates were not only at his decision to dope but that he vanished overnight without saying a word. That’s a sentiment shared by Giants fans as well. He was their second best hitter overall on the roster, and best hitting player during his tenure as a Giant, but how much of that was the doping? Hell, how much of his KC success was a byproduct of this? I can see the argument that the Giants don’t make the playoffs without Melky to start the season. I can also tell you that they played magnificently without him in the lineup and I think a great majority of Giants followers would tell you they were headed to the playoffs with or without Melky.
This, I will say, is terrible in that it really can affect whoever wins the world series. But that’s not only Melky’s fault, it’s Bud Selig’s.
Q: The Giants scored 18 earned runs in 5 games against the Reds (2, 0, 2, 8, and 6). Do you feel that they need to hit better to beat St. Louis?
I feel like they need to pitch better far more than they need to hit better than they did in the NLDS. Before the NLDS I predicted that everyone but MadBum would pitch horribly against the Reds. I was almost right about that. It’s partly nerves and partly fatigue, but the rotation is showing cracks.
Honestly, I think this situation will be dictated not only by Giants management but by Twins management. If you see Mauer playing 1B in an even split to his C duties, you may see Posey doing the same. It’s all about perceived value, which is that his (and Mauer’s) would be significantly diminished at 1B over C. There’s some merit to that, but I would also posit that having a versatile catcher who can rest the knees by staying in the lineup and playing 1B is perhaps better than a full rest day, if said catcher can play more games over the course of the season as a result. Belt is the regular 1B, and Posey could rest Belt or be a matchup decision over Belt. But Belt is the 1B and Posey is the C.
Q: Brandon Belt had a really solid year at the plate, but he hasn’t shown quite the power many people expected. Does he project to a corner outfield position?
Belt is the 1B. He’s a work in progress. His plate discipline is fantastic and really blossomed over the 2012 season. He probably sees pitches the best in the present lineup, and as a result works counts and drives up pitch count effectively. He plays at AT&T for half of his games, and you have to temper your expectations with respect to power. Hitting 20 is a great result for any Giants hitter, and I feel like that should be the goal over the next few seasons, him trying to crack a 20 HR year. I feel like the Giants organization is finally content with him addressing his hitting issues one at a time, so the fact that he isn’t swinging wildly at things outside the zone, and is making solid contact or taking walks, without the power demonstrated in AAA… is okay. There’s a belief it will come around, and the fact that he’s more comfortable working on things over time makes the rest of us confident about it as well.
Q: Sergio Romo has been absolutely stellar in the absence of Brian Wilson. How would you rate both the long relief and late inning portions of the pen? How do you think that they stack up against the Cardinals bullpen?
I’m not sure that I’d use the term outperformed, but the bullpen exceeded my expectations in 2012 and onward into the playoffs. The Mota suspension and Wilson injury left a lot of doubt as to whether or not they were going to be able to bridge from the 5th or 6th all the way to the 9th should they amass a lead. The Giants had great results from Affeldt, and while over the offseason I was a detractor of the $5MM/year deal, I’m a believer that he more than earns it. I think the Cardinals’ pen is superior to the Giants’ — I like their middle innings guys more than the Giants’ but I would say that Motte and Romo are equally splendid closers in their respective ways.
Q: Play armchair GM for a bit. What would you do with Brian Wilson going into his last season of arbitration eligibility? With almost $130M in payroll for this season, does the payroll appear sustainable through next year until the Zito contract albatross presumably comes off the books with a $7M payout for declining his 2014 option? Also, what about Cabrera, Angel Pagan, and Jeremy Affeldt as well?
I would have traded both Lincecum and Wilson a year ago. I wrote as much on my website and got blasted for it, but that’s cool. Lincecum imploded and Wilson blew his arm out, go figure huh. Anyway, to answer your question about Wilson, I’d negotiate a 3 year deal at about $10MM/year and then immediately deal him for a hitting prospect bundle. Maybe one guy who is nearly ML ready and a few lottery picks with high upside.
Let me get something else clear — the payroll cap they set at $130MM is a soft cap, one that is entirely self-imposed. They could sustain probably something in the $170MM range if they cared to. Even higher if they were comfortable taking a loss for one season only, should a situation meriting that arise. Point is, they won’t and wouldn’t do that. They want to continue making money while being a baseball team, which means spending less than is a luxury to spend, while more than is the necessary minimum to contend. Somewhere in the middle of the payroll continuum.
Cabrera is toast, no longer a Giant. Pagan should stay, and he’d be worth it. Stopgap until Gary Brown is ready, and really just a mildly younger and less ADHD Andres Torres. Affeldt will be one of those guys who pitches until he’s 50 and bored of it all. The Giants will keep extending and re-signing him as long as he stays relatively healthy and doesn’t decide to become a righty.
Q: The Giants stole 118 bases during the regular season which was good for 4th in the NL. How tempted would you be to test Yadier Molina’s arm?
I would be tempted to murder anyone who wanted to test Molina’s arm. He’s a beast. Why in the world would you want to give the Cardinals free outs? That’s absurd. The Giants have issue enough taking advantage of runners on base.
1. Quality starts: the Giants need them and the Cardinals need to attempt to deny them. It will be all but impossible for the Giants to win a seven game series if they’re throwing four or more innings of relief per game, not only in terms of fatigue but sustained efficacy in terms of pitching. I know the stat itself is stupid, but think of it as a benchmark each team is trying to be on the winning side of.
2. Hunter Pence: can he give the Giants an edge by providing some sort of information to other hitters, and use his large amount of experience against active Cardinals pitching to wake up his own bat? Can the Cardinals keep him and the #5 spot in the lineup quiet? In my opinion, if Pence is producing Belt will have greater impact as a result. Having a 2-6 that produces is far better than a 2-4 and a 6 that produce with respect to continuity of at bat production within an inning.
3. Matheny: he seemingly hasn’t made a mistake managing the team all year (from what I’ve seen, anyway). Not that he’s due, but uh, maybe he’s due. It’s only human to make mistakes, but if he does will it be slight or egregious? How will he cope with it within that game and moving forward?
Gregor Blanco; Ryan Vogelsong.
They need to have at least half the lineup producing on any given night, but that’s a pipe dream and that’s not Giants baseball. They need 1-3 guys to produce and the pitching to be what it needs to be. As I mentioned before, it’s far more important for the Giants starters to pitch as we’ve come to expect than it is for the bats to be exemplary.
Many thanks to the Curse for taking time to type answers instead of referring me to @Tylonol ft Skrillex as he would likely do on Twitter. Also, RIP John Stamos (RT for respect, favorite for love).
Also, you can click here for the answers I pulled out of a hat in response to the Curse’s questions.