Niners Appear Ready to Screw Up Yet Another QB

It feels like about time that I cast a jaundiced eye in the direction of the San Francisco 49ers once again. And in the current state of things, that means essentially kibitzing about the quarterback situation.

kaep_running_towardUnless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that one-time potential superstar Colin Kaepernick had a rough season last year. Halfway through the campaign, he was replaced by a seriously mediocre Blaine Gabbert and during the off-season he has undergone shoulder surgery, rendering his future with the team more than somewhat questionable. On top of that, the Niners have hired a new head coach in Chip Kelly, whose offensive mindset is very much aligned with Colin’s strengths. Say what you will about Kap, he is among the top two or three quarterbacks in the NFL, when evaluated based on athleticism. His arm is a cannon. His legs are like helicopter blades. In general he fits very well into the kind of spread offense Kelly has always championed.

So it would seem a good fit. The problem is, Kap appears to be in a bit of a bad mood. Several weeks ago, it was widely reported that he had demanded to be traded, was no longer interested in being in San Francisco, and was just unhappy. For a short time, it seemed like the Denver Broncos might give him a new home, one in which he would also have been well-suited to the head coach’s offensive strategies. But the Broncos were unwilling to part with anything higher than a mid-level draft choice, which the Niners apparently concluded wasn’t sufficient compensation. So an April 1 deadline which resulted in the QB’s receiving close to $12 million in guaranteed payments, came and went.

Speculation then became rampant that the Niners would draft a quarterback in the college draft. They did not. Which seemed to indicate, at least to some of us, that they were in fact going to be happy with Kap at least for the 2015 season.

Apparently not.

Today, it appears that, whether or not Kap returns as the starter or rides the bench in the second or third position, the team wants to place its future bets on Gabbert. Which, to me, means that they are taking seriously the clear truth that they are going to be in rebuilding mode for the next two or three seasons. Gabbert is not the kind of guy you build a playoff contender around. It’s not even clear he’s a decent day-to-day quarterback in the NFL.

Interestingly, former superstar quarterback Joe Montana, in a recent interview, suggested that the potential for breaking this logjam lies with Kap himself. According to him, Colin is a quiet guy who does not communicate much with his fellow players or with the coaching staff and management. This sense of isolation makes it difficult for him to overcome any obstacles or disagreements or disappointments that may arise between him and other parts of the organization. So it might be argued that the situation is entirely in Kap’s control. Get an attitude adjustment, open up to your fellow players and your coaches, and pitch in to build a decent season for a rebuilding team.

Call me a pessimist, but I’m not inclined to believe that that scenario has any likelihood of happening. Rather, I fully expect the Niners will blindly ignore a man who is easily the best quarterback on the roster in the interest of protecting the egos of those in the front office who have consistently in recent years demonstrated their impatience with anyone who doesn’t conform to their ring-kissing demands. This can only serve to prolong the rebuilding time for the team.

The best possible outcome I see for 2015 would be for the Niners simply to cut Kap and let him find a new home where his athleticism will be appreciated and where his skills fit the offensive scheme. Short of that, this season could ruin the career of otherwise perfectly capable signal-caller who deserves much better.

You Go, Elizabeth! If Dems Are Looking for a Trump Attack Dog, They’ve Found Her

Elizabeth Warren: HRC's Attack Dog?

Elizabeth Warren: HRC’s Attack Dog?

Traditional political strategy suggests that each major party’s ticket must include in the number two spot a real “attack dog” capable of going after the other party’s presidential candidate. If that wisdom continues to hold, the Democrats have found their vice-presidential nominee: Elizabeth Warren.

In a series of Twitter exchanges with Republican nominee-to-be-for-sure Donald Trump over the weekend, Elizabeth decimated the dullard billionaire. You can read a particularly cogent account of the dialogue here to get some idea of why I am enthusiastic about this subject.

According to Ashley Parker’s report, at one point Trump tried to attach the label of “Goofy” to Ms. Warren. Demonstrating her understanding that the best way to go after Trump is to question his success and intelligence, Elizabeth countered with something like:

“Seriously? The man with “all the best words”? The best you can come up with is “Goofy”? Weak.”

She had me on the floor! Brilliant comeback. And exactly the formula for keeping Trump as far as possible from our nation’s corridors of power.

As you know if you follow this space, I’m a committed Green Party person. My support and my vote in 2016 go to Jill Stein. But if the Democrats were to nominate Hillary Clinton, and if she were to pick Elizabeth Warren has her VP candidate, it would be very tempting to realign with the my life-long party.

Somebody has got to keep Donald Trump out of Washington!

Please.

Injuries Starting to Pop Up for G-Men

It could be — and has been — argued that the Giants’ failure to repeat their World Series title in 2015 was at least in large part attributable to key injuries. Certainly the team had more than its share of downtime among its starters, particularly during the stretch run.

It may be too early to begin to worry, but at this point they have three starters on the DL. Pitchers George Kontos and Sergio Romo are both on the 15-day list but should be back within a week. Outfielder Angel Pagan is out 4-5 games but is available to pinch-hit as of tonight and second-sacker Joe Panik is also listed day-to-day with a groin injury. Meanwhile, backup Ehire Adrianza is on the 60-day DL with a broken left foot.

Pagan and Panik are the biggest losses in this mix although Romo was counted on to be somethng special. He does have a great ERA of 0.60 but he’s only managed 3-1/3 innings.

 

Giants Get Fatter in Cincy

After losing the series closer Friday night to the red-hot New York Mets by a score of 6-5, the Giants have now enjoyed two wins over MLB’s worst run-margin team, the Cincinnati Reds. The first one was a 6-1 win on Sunday, topped by a 9-6 victory this afternoon. The G-men are now 14-13 and even with that marginal record are riding atop the NL West. Cincy has been outscored this season by 51 runs, by far the largest margin in the majors. They find themselves in the NL Central cellar, a full nine games out of first in a season that’s just 15% complete.

Updating my stat chart, the current state of offense vs pitching remains about dead even, with offense holding a slight impact edge.

GWP   GWO  GLP    GLO   RECORD

6.0       8.0     6.5      6.5      14-13

 

 

My New Pet Peeve: Videos That Play on Page Load

For some reason, there has been a significant increase recently in my experiencing webpages that load and immediately begin blasting video clips to my headset. This behavior has always annoyed me, but the huge increase in the number of such sites I’ve seen lately has become far more than merely annoying.

I’m thinking it’s time to start boycotting advertisers who engage in this disruptive, nefarious and incredibly impolite behavior. I’ve begun compiling a list of these advertisers, and when I have enough in hand, I will publish them here. One of the problems with these disruptive idiots is that they sometimes play the audio with no visible video clip where they could be silenced. The page loads, noise starts offending my ears, and there’s no obvious place to turn that sound off of other than muting my headset.

This crap has got to stop!

Who’s with me?

Niners Baffle Me in Draft

As you well know by now, I’m not a big fan of 49ers’ GM Trent Baalke. I’m also pretty skeptical about the newly hired head coach Chip Kelly. Their (presumably) joint performance in the 2016 draft has added fuel to the fire of my discontent.

By way of background, the way they’ve handled their whole QB situation is amateurish and unnerving. They failed to respond to early reports that Colin Kaepernick, the presumed starter who was treated shabbily last season, had asked to be traded. They allowed a major April 1 salary milestone to go by, paid him the $11.9 million he was due at that point, and then went radio silent. The Broncos had reportedly expressed interest in Kap, who would have been a great fit for their offense, but the two teams couldn’t come to a deal. (The Broncs may not have been all that serious considering they dangled a mid-round draft pick for a guy who, properly managed and coached, still has the tools to be a top-third NFL QB.) This whole silliness slopped over into the draft as the Niners were widely expected to pick a quarterback with their first-round pick at the seventh spot.

But the speculators — and I include myself in that, though I didn’t ever think it would be smart to draft a QB in this relatively weak class, at least past the second pick — forgot something. Kelly is an advocate of what he calls “positive yardage” offense. Translation: he really prefers to run the ball. So he manages to convince Baalke to keep Kap (or so it seems), who has great wheels. Then we see Baalke’s influence in making the first-round selection: DE Deforest Buckner out of Oregon. (His penchant for Ducks and Pac-12 players is the stuff of legend.)

Don’t get me wrong. Buckner has massive (literally…he’s 6-7 and 291) potential. In fact, using the NFL.com 10-point rating system for players in the draft, Buckner ranks second highest among any of the first-round players picked, at 7.2 (which translates to “All-Pro or Pro Bowl Ability”).

But defense was far from the most glaring need the Niners had coming into the draft. (Side note: the Broncos drafted the QB, Memphis’ Paxton Lynch, that most of the prognosticators thought would go to the Niners at #7.)

The Niners traded up to the 28th spot in the first round from the Chiefs and then used that somewhat costly move to draft…a freaking offensive lineman! By all accounts a pretty good one — Joshua Garnett (6-4/312) out of Stanford. But here’s the problem: he’s a left guard, and the Niners’ big free-agent acquisition this offseason was LG Zane Beadles. I’m with ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez on this one: “Strange pick, indeed, considering the bigger need is at right tackle.”

One final point: the Niners used their next two picks to add cornerbacks. This despite the fact that the team already has far more CBs on its roster than it could conceivably keep. Consider the current roster corners: Kenneth Acker, Tramaine Brock, Marcus Cromartie, Chris Davis, Dontae Johnson,and Keith Reaser. Now we can add Will Redmond (5-11/182 from Mississippi State) and Rashard Robinson (6-2/180 out of LSU) to the mix. Baalke says Redmond will play right away. I wonder if he’s making that decision already or if he’ll let his new coach decide. Wow. So now we have eight corners on the full roster.

Good luck with that, guys.

Based on my first take on these guys, I’m giving the Niners a C-minus for the 2016 draft, which still has a few rounds left to go but nothing significant is likely to happen the rest of the way.

Ouch! Giants Fail to Appear at CitiField as Mets Use Them for Batting Practice

The Giants managed to act as if they weren’t at CitiField yesterday as they blended nicely into the turf and allowed the Mets to wipe their cleats on them, losing by one of their biggest margins in recent memory, 13-1.

Clearly, both pitching and hitting failed miserably. Jake Peavy lasted two innings, yielding six earned runs while walking three and striking out four. He is now 1-2 with a stratospheric 8.61 ERA. His long relief came in the person of Michael Broadway, who gave up the other six runs in the Mets’ 12-run third inning as he wound up going three and jacking his ERA to double digits (11.81).

Meanwhile, the Giants did manage nine scattered hits but scored only on Angel Pagan’s second homer of the season leading off the seventh.

The updated ShaferStat picture:

GWP   GWO  GLP    GLO   RECORD

5.0       7.0     5.5      6.5      12-12

(I managed to miss two days of Padres’ results and updates, thus the apparent discrepancy between this one and the most recent other post. Sorry ’bout that!)

So far my thesis that pitching would make a lesser impact on team success in 2016 than offense isn’t holding up as both are about equal. But it’s early days!

Giants Explode. Good Thing, Too, Because Pitching Was Off

The Giants rode their bats to a 16-hit outpouring to a 13-9 win over the hapless San Diego Padres this afternoon. This one goes squarely in the WBO (Won By Offense) column, bringing the new ShaferStat to:

GWP   GWO  GLP    GLO   RECORD

3.5        6.5       5        6         10-11

Jeff Samardzija got the start and the win off a truly mediocre performance. He gave up 5 earned runs over 5-2/3 innings, fanning seven while walking two. He bumped his season ERA to 3.86. It was his third win of the year against a solitary loss.

After a travel day off tomorrow, the Giants are in New York to square off against the red-hot Met who are currently sporting a six-game win streak and a 13-7 mark.

Giants Drop Another One Thanks to Pitching

The Giants took a tough loss yesterday, dropping a tense game to the Miami Marlins, 5-4. I’m chalking this one up to pitching breakdown.

As I figure it, any time the team scores four or more runs, they ought to win. Or maybe four runs is the exact dividing point; scoring more than four runs perhaps ought to be the cut off. Clearly, when ever the pitching crew yields five or more runs, something isn’t right.

In typical fashion, the Giants cracked out a dozen hits, which ought always to be enough to score a win at the major league level. But the Marlins notched 14 hits to gain the victory.

This comes on the heels of a Saturday 7-2 win over the Marlins in which Jake Peavy dominated  as a pitcher and did more than expected as a hitter, driving in two in support of his own cause. I put that one in the GWO (Games Won by Offense) column.

That makes the new ShaferStat look like this:

GWP   GWO  GLP    GLO   RECORD

3.5        5.5       5        6         9-11

Tonight, the Orange-and-Black play host to the San Diego Padres, who come in with a dismal 7-12 record in sole possession of the NL West basement. The Giants are going with their alleged ace, Madison Bumgarner, whose 2016 season so far is a bit of a flameout (1-2, 3.91 ERA).

 

Catching Up With the Giants. Whew

Going into today’s game at home with the Miami Marlins, the orange-and-black have dropped from 7-5 and second place in the NL West to a fourth-place record of 8-10. That span includes a four-game home sweep at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are only now finding themselves at .500. Pretty dismal times.

The scores since we last checked the Giants’ pitching-vs-hitting stats:

April 17 – Lost to Dodgers due to hitting, 3-1

April 18 – Lost to D-Backs due to pitching, 9-7

April 19 – Lost to D-Backs due to hitting, 3-0

April 20 – Lost to D-Backs due to hitting, 2-1

April 21 –  lost to D-Backs due to both hitting and pitching, 6-2

April 22 – Beat Miami Marlins with hitting and pitching 4-1, but Samardzija gave up eight hits, so the pitching call on my part could be argued to be wrong.

Here are the new ShaferStats.

GWP   GWO  GLP    GLO   RECORD

3.5        4.5       4        6         8-10

This means that so far offense has been a bigger contributor than pitching to the Giants’ performance. Which is what I suggested at the beginning of the season. Looking only at wins, the offense is responsible for 56.3% of the wins.

It’s obviously too early to draw any conclusions but so far this exercise has been fun for me. I hope you’re enjoying it as well.

Tonight is a relatively rare Saturday evening game which I hope is available on TV in my area.