Tag Archives: Nori Aoki

Episode 99: World Series Review and a Very Hot Stove

He’s like a creepy cousin. But, we want him. Does that make this weird? Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Download episode #99 here, or stream it below!

[audio http://torturecast.podomatic.com/enclosure/2015-11-05T14_06_35-08_00.mp3]

So, the Giants are no longer reigning champs. Big deal. They’ll do it next year, of course. Eric and Chad get together on Skype to discuss how the scrappy Royals made it all the way back to the World Series and how they won it after 8 of their 11 wins secured in comeback fashion, and the parallels drawn to the Giants’ 2012 six elimination game wins against the Reds and Cardinals.

The Giants are also banking cash in large piles after declining the options on Nori Aoki and Marlon Byrd. Greinke, Price and Cueto may all be #1 targets of Bobby Evans and his staff, but we also ask if they may spread the money around a bit to a greater quantity of second-tier pitchers and a couple of outfielders. All we know is that this will be an exciting offseason as the Giants attempt to reload with more available cash than they’ve ever had, and during an offseason flush with quality starting pitchers.

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The weekend that wasn’t

I really wanted to put a positive spin on this past weekend. I wanted to say that when Joe Panik and Andrew Susac return the team will be better. The Mike Leake Injury is a fluke. He may very well come back and pick the rotation up. It’s all going to get better. That’s what I want to think deep down. It may all be true.

I can’t do it. This weekend hurt. The Giants have dealt with being a streaky team all year so this just may be how it is. I don’t know.

There’s eight weeks left of baseball to be played and the Giants face the Dodgers 7 more times. I’ve thought all along the best shot is the NL West. The Cubs are a good team and have the ability to win more games than the Giants. The Dodgers are vulnerable and the Giants can catch them. It’s suddenly “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain” with LA.

I guess those are some things that could happen. But I don’t know that now. You don’t know that now. It’s just swell the Giants have a day off to regroup. There’s hope for this season yet and the Giants have been winning lately at home. In their last three homestands the Giants have gone 4-2, 4-2, and 5-1. Positive vibes, I’m hoping to keep them.

Last night I wasn’t feeling them. Below is what I wrote after the game. This is after I took a walk in the rain while the sun was shining. If you want to read about an agonizing weekend, keep going. If you don’t, good for you for being so positive, because I’m not feeling it right now.

Come back Susac. Be ok Aoki. Please continue to hit baseballs Joe. I miss the team.


So, that weekend sucked. The Giants went in to Chicago and didn’t win a game. From the beginning the Cubs jumped ahead and they never looked back. There were only three times in the whole 4-game series that the Giants really put pressure on the Cubs. One of those was with no one on base.

The Buster Posey at bat in the 9th inning on Thursday was the first. It was a one run game but you could see Cubs fans worried about the at bat. Posey is a credible threat. He’s an MVP and 3-time trophy winner. Along the way Posey has won a batting title and hit some clutch home runs. So Cubs fans had a reason to be worried. Buster flew out, the inning was over after Hector Sanchez did something.

Matt Duffy in the 9th inning on Saturday with Nori Aoki on base was the second time the Giants threatened the Cubs. Even then, Duffy hasn’t homered in a while. He was more likely going to shoot a single through the right side or drive one to a gap, but not homer. This one’s kinda iffy.

The most agonizing sequence of the entire series was the 9th inning on Sunday afternoon. The Giants couldn’t get anything going against Jake Arrieta all day but managed to hang around thanks to Jake Peavy and the bullpen. It was only 2-0. The Giants were within striking distance. Brandon Belt led off with a floating hit. Brandon Crawford followed that with a screaming double down the right field line. It was an impressive piece of hitting considering Rizzo was playing close to the bag with Belt on first base.

Things were looking good. The Giants are one of the best offenses in baseball. They should put a crooked number up. Hector Rondon wasn’t as sharp as he had been on Thursday night. Ehire Adrianza got hit in the foot on a 1-2 pitch. Rondon was all over the place. Finally, things were going the Giants way. Maybe they can pull this out and have a happy flight back from Chicago feeling like they got one back.

Then Hector Sanchez swung at three straight pitches that never looked like strikes. All 3 bounced in the dirt and he swung right over the ball. Next was Angel Pagan. Today was supposed to be his day off but because Aoki got plunked in the head earlier he found himself in a situation to redeem some of the talk about how he shouldn’t be out there anymore. Pagan gave it try. He did his best. He really did. I can’t get on him for this at bat. He fouled off 3 pitches with a 2-2 count before missing one.

Gregor Blanco was the final hope. That’s ok. He’s the guy that’s getting buzz on social media lately. Everyone believes in him. With Pagan’s knees and not so good hitting Blanco has become the backup quarterback of the Giants. Everyone is clamoring for him to play so of course he’ll come through. And he fought and fought until he just stood there. He struck out looking on a pitch he should have fouled off to the left side. Instead of keeping up the fight or coming through the Giants struck out three straight times.

It was a kick you in the soft spot series for Giants fans. I can’t wait until they get home.

-Eric

@2outhits

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Orange Crushing

Buster Posey

It’s a lot of fun to watch the San Francisco Giants offense these days. They’ve managed to hit their way back into a race for the NL West crown. After falling to 5.5 games back of the Dodgers on July 10th the Giants now sit 1 game back of their rivals. In the race for a Wild Card spot the Giants are 2.5 games ahead of the Cubs for the final slot. Pittsburgh holds the lead by 3 games for home field in the coin flip game.

As a result of being pretty much the best offense in baseball lately the Giants have won 11 of 12 games. If you want to push it a little further they have gone 12-2 since the return of Hunter Pence.

The offense just keeps going. The Giants are 1st in hits, batting average, and on base percentage in the NL. They are second in runs scored, and have the 3rd best on base + slugging percentage. Over the last 12 games the Giants are averaging 6.3 runs a game and 12.2 hits. My dad used to tell me you should average 2 hits for every run. His story checks out.

The guy going bananas right now is Buster Posey. During this 12 game stretch he’s batting .511 with an OPS of 1.066. He’s driven in 10 runs and scored 7. It just seems like he’s always on base. Posey doesn’t have any homers over this span but he hasn’t needed them. It looks like late 2012 without the power.

Angel Pagan has been a nice surprise in the leadoff spot during this run. He’s batting .315 and has scored 10 runs. With Nori Aoki coming back he’s made a bid to stay at the top of the lineup. For my two cents, I want to see Pagan dropped back down and allow Aoki to take the top spot in the order again.

It’s not the Pagan at bats leading off an inning or game that scare me. He has been pretty good at getting on base early. It’s the ones when he comes up with 2 outs and runners on that freak me out. And so often it seems like he swings at the first pitch in those situations. When Pagan works a count he’s usually trying to get an inning going. Maybe he thinks that every pitcher wants to throw a get me over pitch to start him off. I don’t know. I just know I want Aoki batting more than Pagan. Give me the guy with a .383 OBP which is second on the team behind Posey. Pagan has just a .304 OBP and that’s the worst of any regular player the Giants send out there.

Let’s go back to Hunter Pence. The first thing that jumps out is that the Giants are 30-8 in games he’s played. In those first 18 games he played between DL stints the Giants went 12-6, in the 14 games since Pence came back this time the team is 12-2.

Over the most recent 14 games Pence has driven in 15 runs. He’s homered 3 times, the most important one was in Arizona that tied the game right after the All-Star break. Pence is batting .321 since his return with an OPS of .948. In his first 18 games that was a .282 BA and .780 OPS. He’s also managed 5 doubles and that’s come primarily from Hunter’s right field approach. He’s been looking away recently and only turning on a pitch if it drifts to the inner half.

The 2-3-4 hitters in the Giants lineup are all batting over .300. There are only 14 guys in the NL doing that and the Giants have 3 of them. Posey is 4th at .328, Joe Panik is 8th at .311, and Matt Duffy is sitting 12th with a .302 average. Panik is 3rd in hits with 113 and Posey has 110 hits which places him 5th.

There’s also length in the lineup. Brandon Belt is 2nd in the NL with 26 doubles. That surprised me a little. Let’s not forget Brandon Crawford who shares the team lead in home runs (14) with Posey. These guys help keep the line moving after the top guys are getting on base.

I know this post is all about how kick ass the Giants offense is but I can’t let 2 pitching notes go by. First, I tip my cap to Tim Hudson. With the Giants 4-3 victory over the A’s on Sunday he’s now beaten all 30 MLB teams. He’s the 15th pitcher to do it. Hudson is the 4th one of those pitchers to spend time with San Francisco. The other three are Terry Mulholland, Barry Zito, and new Hall of Famer Randy Johnson.

The other great pitching note of late is the bullpen. Over the last 14 games Giants relievers have allowed 6 runs in 45.1 innings. A miniscule 1.19 ERA. They have a 2-0 record and are 7-for-7 in save chances.

The orange and black are streaking and tearing the cover off the ball in the process. The next 3 games are at home against the Brewers, a team they swept in 3 games while scoring 17 runs back in May at Miller Park. The Brewers are not scoring runs. They managed just 5 total this past weekend in 4 games at Arizona and were shut out each of the last 2 days. Hopefully this all means the Giants can keep up their winning ways the next 3 days at AT&T Park.

Remember to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel if you haven’t already.

-Eric

@2outhits

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Episode 85: Gotta Say It Was a Good Week

Justin Maxwell delivers a game winning RBI against the Dodgers to complete the sweep. Cuz, that’s cool.

Download the episode here, or stream the podcast below:

[audio http://torturecast.podomatic.com/enclosure/2015-04-27T23_03_01-07_00.mp3]

We got to talk about a winning week in episode 85. The Giants swept the Dodgers at home, and they went 4-1 for the week. We’ll ignore the fact that the Giants lost to the Dodgers tonight. That doesn’t count.

Chad thinks Sanchez will be DFA’d when Pence comes back, we love Maxwell and Aoki, hate Ventura, Twitter and Arte Mareno.

Come join this “less than 1 hour” episode of the TortureCast!

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Episode 83: Fat Cats

One of these two hit their first MLB homerun tonight (Photo: Tom Duffy)

Yes. That is Matt Duffy (on the left, of course) chilling with his 40 pound cat Skeeter while playing Call of Duty. We thought you’d need a smile before diving into this autopsy of the Giants’ first 10 games of the season.

You can download episode 83 here, or stream it below!

[audio http://torturecast.podomatic.com/enclosure/2015-04-15T22_34_40-07_00.mp3]

Welcome to our first regular season podcast of the 2015. Hopefully it won’t be the last. We’ve been a fortunate group of guys able to podcast about 3 World Series championships, watch from the press box and interview players, but the first week of the season feels like the Houston Astros. Despite winning three of their first four, the Giants are in a tailspin with a current 6-game losing streak. Their bats have not just gone cold, they are stored in liquid nitrogen. They are a whopping 5 for 47 with runners in scoring position. They can get runners on buy the truckload, they just can’t deliver them home.

Eric and Chad talk about the frustrating start to the season, throw around ideas on how to fix it, discuss Heston’s place in the rotation, get peaved at Peavy, and at one point, bask in the glow of the home opener and Bum on a horse.

It can’t get any worse, can it?

– Chad will be in the press box at AT&T on Saturday night to cover the ring ceremony and game versus Arizona. Be sure to follow @TortureCast on Twitter for copious updates and pictures of endless coffee.

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The Good, The Bad, & What’s Next?

Nori Aoki of the San Francisco Giants. TortureCast.com

Ezra Shaw/ Getty Images

Week one of the 2015 season is in the books and the San Francisco Giants are coming home after 7 games on the road to start it all up. They are limping back to AT&T Park after dropping their 3rd straight game to the San Diego Padres under the bright sunshine at Petco Park. They sit at 3-4 and are last in the division, but remember it’s early and they only sit 1.5 games back. This is no repeat of the torrid start from last season.

Each week I’m going to take a look back at the good and the not so good of the previous week. Don’t worry though, I won’t leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. I’ll always look ahead to the upcoming week ahead for the Giants. So let’s roll this baby out and bring you my new weekly look at the Giants. Continue reading

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Episode 79: Football is Over

Super Bowl slip n' slide @patburrell5 #didntevenspillhisproteinshake

A post shared by @therealchaseutley on

We don’t care. You must see Pat Burrell save every drop of his “protein shake” in this slip ‘n slide. Yes, we all still want to be Pat the Bat.

Right Click here to download the podcast or

Click the arrow below to stream it!

[audio http://torturecast.podomatic.com/enclosure/2015-02-02T23_45_07-08_00.mp3]

We regretfully dedicate the first portion of this episode of TortureCast to the Super Bowl and the bad? call at the 1 yard line. Willie, Chad and Eric catch up on all of the signings by the Giants, including Casey McGehee and Nori Aoki, and reminisce with our man-crush on Michael Morse, who is now a Miami Marlin. We will also be at Media Day on Feb 6 to interview as many Giants as we can, so if you have a question you want us to ask, let us know at torturecast AT gmail DOT com or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Should I stay or should i go?

Ryan Vogelsong is back with the San Francisco Giant

(Photo: Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports)

It looks like Ryan Vogelsong will remain with the San Francisco Giants for another year. This is according to Hank Schulman who’s tweet rolled across the timeline this afternoon. It’s possible that we have more details later tonight or tomorrow.

There had been reports over the last few days that linked Vogelsong to both the Rangers and Astros. He was rumored to being close to a deal with Houston before we heard of any talks with the Giants. Suddenly it seems as if he’s coming aboard for another run.

The main concern I’ve seen and heard from fans is why a move like this gets made if the rotation is already set. The most common themes have been…

  • Matt Cain and Tim Hudson are both recovering from a surgery.
  • Tim Lincecum has been shaky as a starter the last 3 seasons
  • Will Jake Peavy find a renaissance under Bruce Bochy and Dave Righetti
  • Madison Bumgarner is coming off a long, wonderful season and postseason
  • Also, can’t Yusmeiro Petit start some games?

It sounds crazy but I thought more pitching was a good thing. To think that Vogey chose to come back to San Francisco and give what he has left as a pitcher without the promise of being a starter. Those Texas teams would have put him in the rotation right away. He has no idea how many starts he’s gonna get this year.

That’s 7 starters for 5 spots. I don’t see that as a bad thing.

The Giants are going to need some good pitching this season. There’s considerably less thump in the lineup than in year’s past. It looks like Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, and Hunter Pence will be asked to carry the bulk of the load.

Nori Aoki signed earlier this week for $4 million. He has incentives to bump that to $5.5 if he has more than 600 plate appearances. He’s averaged 604 in his 3 seasons in the majors. He’s a contact hitter that can take over at the top of the lineup if (when) Angel Pagan goes down.

I keep talking myself in to really liking this signing because the way the lineup could be constructed he would be like another leadoff guy in the middle. Brandon Crawford could have a field day driving Aoki in.

Here’s how I’d draw it up right now.

  1. Angel Pagan
  2. Joe Panik
  3. Buster Posey
  4. Hunter Pence
  5. Brandon Belt
  6. Casey McGehee
  7. Nori Aoki
  8. Brandon Crawford
  9. Madison Bumgarner

Last season McGehee and Aoki hit 5 HR’s combined in over 1200 combined plate appearances. That’s a far cry from when Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse used to drop bombs during some really great hot streaks.

That’s where we are with about a month to go until Spring Training. We’re focused on Ryan Vogelsong coming back to help the Giants defend their title. It’s not sexy or shiny, but it’s a move to help the ball club compete for a playoff spot. After that, as we well know, anything can happen.

Remember, you can follow us on Twitter @TortureCast and like us on Facebook. All of our podcasts, video and audio San Francisco Giants player interviews can be found on our Youtube Channel or here at TortureCast.com.

Eric

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