Tag: Guillermo Mota

Padres-Giants: Padres Win the Series, but the Giants are Still Talking

Just days before the big three game set between the NL West front-running San Diego Padres and the trailing San Francisco Giants, both sides were already looking forward to their divisional showdown. Giants’ left-hander Jonathan Sanchez may have been a little too fired up.

Sanchez is, undoubtedly, a good pitcher. He’s the same guy who threw a no-hitter against the Padres in July of 2009 at AT&T Park. He was also the same pitcher that gave up just one hit to that same team earlier this year…and lost 1-0.

Maybe his adrenaline or excitement got the best of him. Or, perhaps, he just wasn’t thinking when John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle talked to him about the upcoming series. Whatever the case may be, Sanchez decided to throw down the gauntlet and say something he probably shouldn’t have said.

“We’re going to play them three straight times and we’re going to beat them three times,” Sanchez told Shea. “If we get to first place, we’re not looking back.” You have to wonder how many of his teammates put their hands over their faces and wished they could have shut him up before he spoke. Henry Schulman, also with the Chronicle, reported that some in the Giants’ clubhouse were annoyed at the comment.

Unfortunately, the words were out and, the next morning, they were in the paper for all to see. When the Padres got wind of it, not one of them fired back with a guarantee of their own. Left fielder Scott Hairston told a San Diego television station that it wasn’t a smart thing of Sanchez to say, but didn’t go much further. Padres’ closer Heath Bell decided to have a little fun with the comment saying, “All right, cool. We’re going to get swept. Well, I swept my garage this morning.”

It wouldn’t take long for Sanchez to regret his words, as he ended up the losing pitcher on Friday night, and, after an extra innings victory for his team on Saturday, watched as the Padres put an exclamation point on the series with an 8-2 win on Sunday.

While he would be eating his words in the Giants clubhouse on Sunday afternoon, another Giants pitcher apparently didn’t learn the lesson Sanchez had just learned the hard way.

Reliever Guillermo Mota, who got tagged for the final two runs in an 8-2 defeat, decided to open his mouth and make everyone else roll their eyes. It’s one thing for Sanchez, an above average pitcher, to say what he said, it’s quite another for a guy that’s given up six earned runs in three and a third innings to say it.

Mota started off politically correct when talking to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, “We’ve got seven games left with them? We don’t care about those seven games now. What we care about is winning series. They’ve been playing good. We do, too. But it’s not between us and San Diego. It’s us and the whole league right now. We’ve got to go to Philly and take care of business.”

At this moment, you can imagine Mota’s teammates answering their own questions from the media and minding their own business.

Then, in a “what the hell did he just say” moment, Mota dropped this little nugget: “Every team has a down time. Every team has its lumps. They haven’t had their lumps. You don’t think they’re going to be playing like that all year, do you? If they do, congratulations.”

I’m curious what the media thought when Mota popped off like that. Did they know it was coming? Could they sense that a moment of brilliance, or lackthereof, was about to be shared? What about his teammates? Did they take him aside and smack him upside the head and remind him that’s exactly what got Sanchez in trouble?

Mota can say they don’t care about San Diego all he wants. But, this time of year, there isn’t one playoff-contending team that isn’t watching the out-of-town scoreboards or wanting to know how the other team did.

These two teams will meet seven more times, including four at Petco Park, before the season is over. You can bet that those seven games will be just as big as this past weekend was, especially if the race is as close as it is so far.

Through 11 games between the two teams, the Padres have won nine of those 11 games and sit at three and a half games in front of the Giants.

Their battle isn’t over and, apparently, neither are the guarantees.

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Pat Burrell, Jonathan Broxton, and Memories of Armando Benitez

Philadelphia Phillies rookie Pat Burrell strode to the plate on June 20, 2000, to lead off the top of the ninth inning at Shea Stadium.

Hard-throwing closer Armando Benitez was on the mound for New York’s most beloved team, the Mets, who were leading the hapless Phillies, 2-1.

Burrell hit a home run off Benitez to tie the game that the Phillies would win, 3-2, in 10 innings.

The next night, the teams were tied, 5-5 in the top of the ninth inning.

The Phillies loaded the bases against John Franco. The tie was broken when the usually reliable Franco walked Ricky Jordan to force home future New York Times baseball writer, Doug Glanville.

Mets manager Bobby Valentine yanked left-hander Franco in favor of right-hander Benitez. Burrell was next to hit.

Burrell promptly hit a grand slam against Benitez to put the game out of reach.

Yesterday, July 31, 2010, Los Angeles Dodgers manager, Joe Torre, who sometimes mistakes closer Jonathan Broxton for Mariano Rivera, brought in Broxton with two outs in the eighth inning for a potential four-out save against the San Francisco Giants.

The inning started out innocently enough.

With the Dodgers leading, 2-1, left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo, who had retired the Giants in order in the seventh inning, got Freddy Sanchez out on a harmless fly ball to right fielder Garrett Anderson on one pitch.

The dangerous Aubrey Huff, one of the great acquisitions of the season, took Kuo’s first pitch for a called strike, and then grounded out harmlessly to first baseman James Loney for the second out.

Buster Posey was the next batter.

According to Torre, the Dodgers didn’t want to give Posey a chance to extend his arms and hit a long ball that might tie the game, so Kuo worked him inside.

The Dodgers’ problem was that Kuo worked him too much inside. His first delivery hit Buster on the upper left arm, putting the potential tying run on first.

Torre, who has admitted that he sometimes overworks his most effective relievers, as Scott Proctor knows, brought in Broxton to face Burrell.

Broxton is 6’4″ and weighs 295 pounds. He throws close to 100 mph.

Benitez is 6’4″ and weighed 260 pounds. He threw close to 100 mph.

Burrell stepped into the batters box. Benitez—sorry, Broxton, fell behind, three balls and no strikes. Burrell took the next delivery for a called strike.

Posey took his lead off first base, Broxton went to the stretch, checked Posey at first, and delivered. Burrell fouled it off.

With the count full, Posey would be off with the next pitch.

Broxton peered in to get the signal from Russell Martin, nodded in assent, checked Posey at first, and delivered.

Burrell blasted the 3-2 pitch on a line drive into the left field seats. The crowd went wild.

Guillermo Mota did what Broxton could not.

The former Dodger, who entered the game in the top of the eighth inning with one out and struck out Rafael Furcal and Matt Kemp, retired the Dodgers in order in the ninth inning to get the win.

After the game, Burrell, whose game-winning home run was his first since June 29, and who had hit home runs to put the Giants ahead two other times this season, spoke with reporters.

“We’re in a real good situation. You have to be fortunate to be in position to make the playoffs. We’ve got to approach every game as if it is crunch time, because in reality it is.”

Manager Bruce Bochy said it best, “It’s hard to get a bigger hit than that.”

Tonight, the Giants and Dodgers meet again. Don’t be surprised if Torre brings in Broxton again. It’s only August.



CBS Sportsline

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If It’s Bruce Bochy’s Fault, Who Can Do The Job Better?

Bruce Bochy hasn’t done anything differently from the San Francisco Giants’ fast start in April to the roller-coaster ride that got them spiraling downward in a seven-game losing streak.

Bochy didn’t make Tim Lincecum, oddly, less dominating. The manager didn’t have anything to do with Pablo Sandoval’s struggle at the plate. The bullpen many like to insist he mismanages really just isn’t very good.

There’s no reason to fire Bochy, unless you believe in momentum and chemistry and “shaking things up in the clubhouse.”

If you think momentum is further away than Sandoval’s next 3-for-4 game, with a home run and five RBIs—you want Bochy gone.

If you don’t realize that team chemistry goes from bad to fantastic when Lincecum, Barry Zito and Matt Cain each turn in consecutive outstanding starts, Bochy should pack his gear.

Should you be under the impression that guys like Guillermo Mota, Santiago Casillia, Andre Torres, Nate Schierholtz, and Aaron Rowand would be more consistenly good if the Giants hired a new manager, then you’re ready to call for the hiring of…

Oh, yeah…if you think Bochy needs to be replaced, you surely have a series of possible candidates who’ll come in and turn Jeremy Affeldt and Jonathan Sanchez into consistently dominating left-hand pitchers.

So, who ya’ got?

Ron Wotus? Don’t think the guy who has been standing behind and agreeing with Giants managers for so long is exactly going to be that spark plug fans think a new manager should become.

Steve Decker? Oh, c’mon! You read somewhere that he’s one of the top minor league managing prospects and that he’s doing a great job with Giants prospects at Fresno. But, his Triple-A Grizzlies require a completely different type of attention than does this particular veteran group of Giants. Decker might be the Giants manager of the future, but he hasn’t done anything to show he can do more with Edgar Renteria than Bochy can.

Fredi Gonzalez? He was the NL Manager of the Year two years ago, then got fired by the Florida Marlins two weeks ago. (Tell you anything about how much we really understand about what a manager does?) Forget it. He’ll take over the Atlanta Braves job when mentor Bobby Cox retires at the end of this year.

Bobby Valentine? Great personality. Probably great with certain types of players. Fans would love his enthusiastic, go-get-’em approach. He has managed the Texas Rangers and New York Mets for 15 seasons combined and has a .510 winning percentage. The fact that he went to manage in Japan and loved it would, at least, bode well for KNBR’s pre-game manager’s show. Bobby V would have stories to tell. (The “Bruce Bochy Show” isn’t the current manager’s strong suit, nor should it be.)

The Giants don’t have a big league managerial candidate on the staff. Wotus? Why? After that? Third base coach Tim Flannery’s only back in the big leagues because he and Bochy are close friends. If Bochy leaves, Flannery would follow.

See the problem?

Fans know what they think Bochy has done wrong, but there’s no evidence that he’s had anything to do with the things that have really put the Giants on the brink of falling out of the playoff race. The hitters aren’t hitting. The pitchers aren’t dominating.

We don’t have any idea who would do a better job with this Giants team either. Decker? Maybe. Wotus? He’s a coach. Gonzalez? His dream gig’s coming. Valentine? His career win percentage is .510—hardly solid gold.

There are other candidates out there, but none could turn the Giants around until the Giants turn themselves around.

Ted Sillanpaa is a sports writer and Northern California columnist. Contact Ted at tsillanpaa1956@gmail.com

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Scrapheap Saviors: Brian Sabean’s Moves Keep Giants in Title Contention

If you talk to any Giants fan this year, they’ll probably talk to you about Aaron Rowand’s dismal slump, the equally underwhelming season by Bengie Molina, and the slight concern about franchise players Tim Lincecum and Pablo Sandoval and their sub-par seasons.

You’ll hear stories about the lack of opportunity for young guys like Nate Schierholtz and John Bowker and the clamoring for youngsters like Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner.

And, as always, you’ll hear plenty of criticism for San Francisco general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy.

Admittedly, there are things that I will never understand, like why Rowand and Molina are still playing so much even though they’re slumping so hard, or why Nate Schierholtz doesn’t play against left-handed batters even those he’s smoking them for a .375 average.

But there is one thing that Giants faithful can’t argue with, and that’s the fact that Sabean has made some more bargain moves this year that have really paid off.

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SF GIANTS: Five Surprises and Four Concerns After 54 Games

As the Giants prepared to finish their three-game series in Pittsburgh yesterday, 54 games were in the book. Their record was 29-25, and at the one-third point of the season, it’s easy to do the math. If they continue to play at this pace, they can expect to be 12 games over .500, or 87-75.

Much like last year.

Which is to say good … but not good enough.

In an NL West now characterized by the surprising Padres, the resilient Dodgers, and the Ubaldo-led Rockies, 87 wins will fall short of first and will probably not lead to a wild card spot.

Still, there are reasons to be encouraged.

Five Surprises

1. Aubrey Huff . It’s easy to denigrate Sabean signings. The second-tier free agents tend to be a bit too old, a bit too hobbled. In the case of Huff, we were all warned about his glove, specifically how it does not close around a baseball.

Reality has been that Huff has been a pretty decent defender who, without complaint, has moved from first to left and even in a pinch to right field. He may not be a Lastings Milledge in terms of producing Web Gem highlights, but he is an intelligent fielder who takes care of the fundamentals. Not flashy, just solid.

Offensively, he is on pace to hit 20-plus HRs, pick up close to 80 RBI, and earn nearly 90 walks. That last stat may be most significant on this generally impatient team.

From a fan perspective, it may be difficult to assess, but this seems like a guy who is well liked and well respected in the dugout. (And when you produce on the field, why not?)

Early favorite for the Willie Mac Award?

2. Andre Torres . He still doesn’t have the patience we would like to see in a leadoff hitter: too many strikeouts and not enough walks. (It seems the Giants just never get players like David Eckstein!) Still, Torres produces in so many ways.

He is one of those fireplugs: small but strong, incredibly fast, and dedicated to his craft. He is not young, by MLB standards, but he is anything but hobbled. He is a smart player who is getting better.

The Giants in recent years have been plagued by players who are just the opposite: They make foolish decisions, and they don’t seem to learn from them. Eugenio Velez, now appropriately in the minor leagues, is the best of several examples. Torres is a refreshing player who rarely makes a mental mistake or the same mistake twice.

He went from no guarantee to make the team to catapulting over John Bowker and Nate Schierholtz in securing a starting spot.

He deserves to stay there.

3. Guillermo Mota . Under the radar, perhaps? Well, Mota not only has done everything asked and more, but he has stepped in to provide stability to a bullpen that has endured injuries (Jeremy Affeldt and Brandon Medders) and sub-par performances (Sergio Romo).

Giant fans can be confident with Mota as a set-up man. With an ERA of 1.33 and a WHIP of 0.89, he provides the bridge to a solid closer in Brian Wilson.

4. Freddy Sanchez . The sample size may be small, but suffice to say, Freddy has made many friends in his short stay on the 2010 active roster.

Before a player gets on the field, especially when he is hampered by lingering injuries, it is tedious to hear about the “intangibles” that he brings to a team. We now know that Sanchez brings both intangibles and tangibles. In the latter category, most significantly, belong his clutch hitting and his defensive intelligence.

Freddy played in 17 of the first 54 games, and yet he is well represented in this year’s best moments offensively and defensively.

5. Barry Zito . Much has been written this year about Zito’s resurgence, but suffice to say, he is someone fans now look forward to seeing on the mound. Fans even expect a win (assuming the A’s aren’t hitting against him).

Flaws are still there, and he is rarely the team’s top starter (Lincecum was at first, now it’s Matt Cain), but still, Zito seems to have found the mental focus needed to succeed.

He is averaging close to seven innings per start. His WHIP is 1.18, exactly the same as Lincecum’s. His ERA of 2.78 is better than Lincecum’s.

Detractors will bring up his salary, and that is unfortunate. He will never be worth that money. But he is looking like a number two starter on a strong team, and that is all fans should care about.

Four Concerns

1. Pablo Sandoval . Yes, the Panda is lovable. But it is no fun when the rituals before the at-bat are longer than the at-bat itself. Sadly, that’s no exaggeration.

Put simply: Too many at bats end after one pitch. Too many ground balls right at an infielder. Too many rally-killing double plays.

Bruce Bochy apparently called him into his office. Good. 

It’s time for Sandoval to get the take signal on the first pitch. And if it’s a ball, then maybe get another. Make the pitcher earn it.

He could be great, yes. He’s not great yet.

2. Hensley Meulens . The batting coach was supposed to be a savior, and in some ways the hitting is better than last year. However, two of the best hitters (Huff and Sanchez, cited above) came from other organizations with skills already intact.

Last year, we heard about the Velez offensive turnaround and all the great hitting in the minor leagues, all of which was credited to “Bam Bam” Meulens. This year we continue to see poor decision-making and impatience in the batter’s box.

Fans may have been happy to see the departure of Carney Lansford, last year’s batting coach, but they should be justifiably skeptical of his replacement.

3. The fifth spot in the rotation . Todd Wellemeyer has been enough of a tease in home games, but considering his performance on the road, he will be lucky to remain on the team at all. Rabid fans can start recommending names right and left (Bumgarner! Joe Martinez! and so on). But the reality is, the Giants need someone steady in the fifth spot.

That somebody cannot be Wellemeyer.

4. Bruce Bochy . It is tempting to put Bochy in the first list because I think he is doing a commendable job managing, considering the constant maneuvering he has to do. It is also tempting (and expected) to put Molina, Rowand, and Renteria on the “concerns” list. In fact, it is the manager who is most important.

When it comes to Molina, how will Bochy handle a catcher whose offensive skills are dwindling so rapidly that there are two backups on the team who are better? Yes, Posey will be the starter beginning next year; and yes, Molina will not be on the team at that time. But we’re talking about a two-time Willie Mac Award winner, someone popular and respected. How to transition him into more of a part-time player is in Bochy’s hands.

Rowand’s situation is more frustrating. Fans can say it’s better to play Schierholtz, and maybe in some ways it is. But Rowand has more than half of his five-year contract remaining. That means more than $30 million. It also means he’ll be on this team even if he is not the power producer the team had hoped to get.

As impossible as it seems to be to find a place for Rowand in the lineup, Bochy needs to figure out how to deal with him. He needs to sit him more — a statement of the obvious, I know — but there is no denying that he has an aggressive style of play and will to win that is evident whenever the camera scans the dugout. Fans may tire of hearing that a player is a “gamer,” but I suspect that the same tired fans hate to see a prima donna vet fail to run out a ground ball or give up on a play defensively.

Bochy is having more meetings with players, and the look on his face during games seems to reveal occasional disgust. He may have an “aw shucks” demeanor in his radio pregame show, but he needs to be forceful in other forums, namely the closed-door meetings and the constant lineup shuffling.


There are positives. And the concerns are known by all. The first game of the second third of the season showed bright spots, including a patient Panda, five stolen bases without being caught (including two by Huff!), and an emergency save by Santiago Casilla. 

Now: Can the team do that against teams that aren’t from Pittsburgh or Houston?

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Giants Pitching Staff: Heroes or Villains?

With the roller coaster ride that the San Francisco Giants pitching staff has taken fans on this year, it’s hard to tell if they are heroes or villains.

Here’s a rundown as of May 27th, 2010.

Note: this slide show was supposed to feature pictures of the actual comparisons, but those pictures, while widely available on the Internet, are not available for publication here on Bleacher Report.

Use your imagination.

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