Sunday, February 6, 2011

The most important note of the Giants' offseason?

The San Francisco Giants' Fanfest was held yesterday, and it looked an awful lot like the 3 month reunion of the World Series parade. So soon? I guess so. The traffic that the event ultimately saw has the Giants considering making this a two day event next season, whether or not they defend their World Series title.

But the most interesting piece of information to come out over the weekend was perhaps something that came out the day before, Friday's Media Day. In fact, it may (or may not be) the most important piece of information to come out regarding the Giants this offseason: in addition to dedicating this offseason to improving his physical condition -- an endeavor that it at least appears he has been quite successful in --Pablo Sandoval claims he has worked some with one Barry Bonds to improve his plate discipline.

In that sentence, the word "some" becomes the key. To what extent Pablo has sought guidance from Bonds is unknown. What's more, it's not all that clear how much of ones plate discipline (or complete lack there of) can be improved by the tutoring of another, even if the teacher happens to be the Greek God of plate discipline.

Here's what the always insightful (and always hilarious) Mr. Craig Calcaterra had to say:

And it will also help sate my curiosity about whether one can actually teach plate discipline or if it’s simply an innate thing borne of intelligence and quick decision making and what not. I mean, there have been very, very few batting eyes better than Barry Bonds’ batting eye in all of baseball history.

If Bonds can impart even a fraction of his ability to Sandoval, it could have some pretty big implications. After all, you often hear about guys saying they’re going to work on their plate discipline in spring training or whatever, but how often do they go to a plate discipline master to do so?
So: how much has Sandoval actually worked with Bonds and how much can one actually expect to improve by learning from another? It's an interesting topic. Bonds may or may not help, whether he has or has not spent a great deal of time with Sandoval this offseason. That being said, Pablo has the potential to have a profound impact on the Giants' offfense this season. His 2009 campaign was revelatory, his 2010 disappointing and forgettable. I'm rooting for this kid, not only as a Giants fan, but as a fan of a person who's passion and enthusiasm is contagious.


Programming note:

Thanks to a couple of links from Rob Neyer -- in both his previous space's SweetSpot and his current one, SBNation -- in the past week or so, as well as a bunch of other places including Fangraphs by way of Dave Cameron, I was approached by Dave Studeman of the Hardball Times (THT) to become a regular contributor on his site. I was absolutely thrilled and have taken him up on the offer.

I should appear there about once a week, and I'll be covering all of Major League Baseball. If you're not just a fan of the Giants and have enjoyed my writing here, this should be great news for you. I've had a desire to write about the MLB instead of just my favorite team for some time, and this gives me the perfect opportunity to do so.

Here's my inaugural piece at THT on Ryan Zimmerman: The most underrated player in baseball.

Thank you dear reader, I sincerely hope you will continue to read me both here and there.


  1. Congrats on the THT gig, that is an awesome site for baseball info that just got a little bit better.

    On the Pablo Bonds connection I am still unsure about what it all means and really the extent of their working together.

    The revelation came out after I asked him if his training discipline would carry over into better plate discipline. He also said that he hadn't picked up a bat all winter until a couple weeks ago. So if he has been working with him it must have been a recent thing.

    We will see I guess. It would be a very cool thing if a fraction of the pitch recognition could carry over.

  2. Wow, awesome, congrats on the THT gig, you deserve it!

    Hope that won't dig into your time writing here!

    I would caution that a few years ago photos circulated showing Barry Bonds tutoring Dan Ortmeier, and we all saw how that went...

    Still, Sandoval is a much better hitter than Ortmeier and there is that old saying about a silk purse...

    I think there is only so much one can learn about plate discipline: much as Barry Bonds liked to put it into people's faces, either you got it or you don't.

    However, there are a lot of other things about hitting that Barry can teach Pablo, but I see that as more of a long-term project for Pablo than something that will happen immediately.

  3. Hearty congrats on landing the THT spot. Your passion, intelligence and unique perspctive will make THT just that more rich and enjoyable for the rest of us.

    Read your and your brother's bios on the introduction page. You piqued my curiosity with the following: "I would have spent every penny I have on memorabilia if I could have."

    So, now I must ask you both: which items do each of you consider to be the coolest memorabilia that are/were for sale; and where/how may we get them for ourselves?