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....Trade? I don't need no stinking trade

Last year, blame for the San Francisco Giants failure to qualify for the post-season rested largely on the weakness of lat or near league-worst production from four positions in their lineup, First Base, Right Field, Third Base and Center Field.

In the off-season, Brian Sabean wheeled and dealed in an effort to justify the team's continued committment to veterans, and to contending for a World Championship. When the season opened, the Giants had a new third baseman, centerfielder and right fielder; a healthy JT Snow, and a more mature and seasoned Damon Minor, in case Snow's injuries masked a true indication of decline in ability.

As we near the All-Star break, we can take a preliminary look at the success or failure of these moves. With the exception of the continued decline of JT Snow, and his subsequent replacement by the improved Damon Minor, (it being too soon to tell if Minor is the real deal, while Snow is still doing poorly), we can take a stab at the other three slots and see whether Sabean's solutions worked.

Third base is, frankly, a smashing succes. David Bell has been a revelation, a more productive version of Bill Meuller; who was a big fan favorite before leaving for Chicago. Bell has hit more home runs and driven in more men so far than the Giants got from the position all last year.

Right field, manned last season by John Vanderwal, Armando Rios, Marvin Benard and anyone else who could stand there and not fall down, is now handled by Reggie Sanders. After a very poor start, Sanders is now slowly beginning to produce at a level approaching the top third of right fielders. Although his overall numbers are still a bit low, if the Giants get 16-20 home runs and 80-90 RBI's out of him, with his very good defense, Brian should feel that he is a big upgrade at the position.

Center field is still a sore spot. Shinjo is the best defensive center fielder this side of Atlanta. Offensively, he is playing his way out of the league if he doesn't make some significant changes. Honestly, I have a friend who played in the minors (he played in the Expos farm system, rooming with Larry Walker one year), and in the first week of the season, he saw Shinjo at the plate, he said, "That guy will never hit major league pitching." Nothing Shinjo has done makes me think he's wrong. I mean, when Marvin Benard is winning back the fans, that ought to tell you something.

So, you would have to say the work Brian did to solve these problems is a success, with a couple of caveats. If Sanders' current offensive resurgence continues, and if David Bell can somewhat duplicate his first half performance, then the defensive upgrade of Shinjo will probably offset his hitting woes just enough.

Sabean gave up very little to make the moves he did, and the results are positive. Offensively, he upgraded two of the positions, one substantially, one less so. Defensively, he was able to significantly upgrade all three, to the extent that the Giants are currently ranked fourth in the league in defensive efficiency, (this rating tells us what percentage of balls in play the defense turns into outs). At the mid-point of the season, Sabean should get a A- for his effort. I am looking forward to the one or two moves he always makes to get the Giants ready for the stretch run.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 30, 2002

....Before that

Baseball Prospectus Online is simply the best baseball site out there. These guys are so knowledgable and thorough, it's mind boggling. I started as a Bill James guy in the 80's in NY, he was the first person who posed analytical questions and answers to the many things you hear "baseball people" say all the time, (like the hogwash Kent you here from Kent). Bill opened my mind to a new way of thinking about hte game I loved.

The BP guys took the baton from him, figuratively, of course, and I simply cannot wait for their latest posts'. Today, you have Derek Zumsteg's take on baseball Armaggedon, and in it, he links you to Keith Woolner's Revenue Sharing Plan.

What can I say. If it weren't for writers like this, I wouldn't have this site.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 30, 2002

....Short and sweet

So Jeff Kent is 8 for 15 with 13 RBI's in three games in the three slot, and he continues to pooh pooh theories that his spike in production has to do with batting in front of Barry. Well, Rich Aurilia rode that pooh pooh to the tune of 207 hits, 37 home runs and 97 RBI's last year. Hope that pooh pooh follows Mr. Kent for the rest of the year.

I just read that Jeff is really interested in being a free agent at the end of the year. That finishes it for me. If he intends to leave after the year, it's clear that the pressure is on Dusty Baker to trade him now and get something in return. It's not like he's some absolute superstar that assures you of making the playoffs. You could get fairly equal value right now, I don't know exctly who, but it can't be that tough, everybody keeps talking about dumping salary or players. Kent makes 6 million, a great value for any team interested in picking him up for a second half stretch run...

Alright, I'll look around and see if I can't suggest some decent trades.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 30, 2002

….. Following up on Livan and Dusty

For the second time in three starts, Livan got the nod in the opening game in a series. As I wrote earlier, two starts ago, the Giants opened up a home-stand against the lowly Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and Livan got shellacked. I've mentioned Livan's penchant for staring down the umpire in an effort to get calls, or when he doesn't get calls early.

Well, that is exactly what happened in this game. First pitch, ball one; followed by a stare. When Livan starts a game like that, you can pretty much know how it's gonna go. Tonight, 4 2/3 innings, 8 hits, six runs. This is the San Francisco Giants ace?

What exactly has Hernandez done to earn being held as Dusty's ace? I mean, what's the qualification? What's the standard? If the standard is as simple as stay healthy and eat innings… well, I can see Dusty's point. If the measuring stick is to have been named National League Championship Most Valuable Player, and World Series Most Valuable Player once in your career, OK, Livan's your man.

What about having a low earned run average? Usually a guy with a low earned run average would be considered his teams ace. How about a lot of strikeouts? A minimal amount of walks? Sometimes an ace is called a stopper, because he stops his team from having long losing streaks. How about using that as a standard? Other ace-type pitchers are called leaders, because they lead their team into battle, setting the tone and the attitude for the team that's needed for success. I always thought your ace was somebody like a Roger Clemens or a Greg Maddux or Al Leiter or Pedro Martinez or Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson, Tom Seaver, Dave Righetti, David Cone, Juan Marichal…. You see where I'm going here.

Here's Livan's stats broken down for his last six half seasons, since he became a Giant.

Post-All Star 199910334.3863.266
Pre-All Star 200018774.25127152
Post-All Star 2000151043.19113102
Pre-All Star 2001196116.07126156
Post-All Star 200115744.20100110
Pre-All Star 200217694.42112128

Livan Hernandez, with the exception of the 1997 playoffs, has had exactly one half season where his performance, his results, have been up to a level that most baseball observers would even marginally consider "ace" level. One fifteen start stretch in which he consistently took the ball and not only went six or seven or eight innings, but he also managed to prevent runs from being scored at a rate comparable with the most effective pitchers in the league. In his career, he has pitched over 1100 innings, and he has allowed well over 1600 base-runners. He has a career earned run average that is pretty much what he has allowed this year, about 4.4 runs per nine innings.

After the All Star break in 2000, he won 10 out of fifteen starts, averaging 7.5 innings per start as he led the Giants to the best record in baseball. One half season where he won 10 games. To give you an idea of how impressive that is, (or isn't), both Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling and Tom Glavine and Bartolo Colon and Derek Lowe, to name a few; have more than ten wins so far this year, in fact, there are thirteen pitchers who have ten or more wins so far this year, and the All Star game is still a couple of weeks away.

Livan is no more an ace than I am. He is a solid #2 or #3 pitcher, a guy who you can count on to eat a lot of innings, he can throw well above 100-110 pitches if you need him to. He is a fine young man, he's never in the paper, getting arrested for drunken driving or what have you. He is quiet and seems like a swell teammate. That still doesn't mean that he is an ace.

Dusty Baker seems to view the individual players on the Giants through some distorted lens where they are spoken about and treated like they are more accomplished than they really are. And more importantly, he makes in-game, in-season decisions based on these perceptions. Why does he do this? What is his benefit? I have wondered if perhaps he is afraid of confrontation, or maybe he feels that he should act like they're better than they are in an effort to inspire them to raise their games.

It really does matter. He is an effective manager, to a degree. His way of handling his players works, for the most part. But there is an element of breakdown, of failure inherent in mis-stating your strengths and weaknesses. When we say that someone is fooling themselves, that the way they see things is far enough from reality to be an issue, we are talking about a weakness that disables ones ability to plan ahead properly, to anticipate problems or opportunities. Someone with a clear understanding of their capabilities can make decisive moves to handle problems, or they can act quickly to take advantage of those few, rare, fleeting chances.

What kind of window of opportunty do most major league teams really have? In 2000, the Giants were assured of homefield advantage throughout the National League playoffs. Facing an elimination game in New York against the Mets hoping to get back to San Francisco for a fifth game, Dusty Baker started Mark Gardner against Bobby Jones, at the time a fairly controversial decision, since Gardner was perhaps his fifth best pitcher. Dusty argued that it was Gardner's turn in the rotation. Locked in a 1-0 game in the top of the fifth inning, he then allowed Gardner to bat with two outs and the bases loaded, even though Bobby Jones was on his way to a one hit shutout, and the Giants had gone some 16 innings without a hit with a runner in scoring position. Neither decision turned in his favor.

Who knew that that would be the last playoff game for this team? Who knows how large or small a window of opportunity will be? The Mets took advantage of some good fortune and a few questionable moves by Baker, and parlayed the momentum of beating the best team in the league into a World Series appearance against the Yankees. In 2001, the Giants lost the division to the eventual World Champions by two games, after losing two 1-0 games to them.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 29, 2002

....Short and sweet

Just like Hernandez's outing last night. That was the fifth straight game the Giants starting pitcher allowed 5 or more runs. Prior to this stretch the Giants had earned the distinction as one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Hope this isn't a sign of things to come....

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 29, 2002

....Steroids, lies about

I was going to let it drop, but I just read a terrifc column by Leonard Koppett of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He explains how home run totals have actually only increased by an eighth of a percentage point over the last several decades, and goes on to chastise his less than integrous colleagues who have made it their business to insist that Barry Bonds, among others, must submit to drug testing to protect the integrity of baseball.

Leonard shows that the test of integrity is being failed by more sportswriters and journalists than I can count. Indeed, after all the hogwash, California legislators are attempting to pass a bill to mandate performance enhancing drug testing for any athlete that competes in the state. I don't know about you, but in my opinion, this is actually not so bad. It was really only a matter of time before the idiots tried to invade the privacy of the wrong people, i.e., rich people. This will hopefully result in the first fully-financed, and consequently, succesfull challenge to the constitutionality of drug testing.

My position on drugs notwithstanding, tha fact is that this country and its inhabitants consume more drugs per person than any in history. Anyone who wants to stand around yelling that these ones should be illegal while these are OK is a fool. That means you, Mr. Verducci.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 28, 2002

....Baseball exists outside of San Francisco

Read this column by the Miami Herald's Dan Le Batard about the woes of the Florida Marlins. Makes me shudder to think that a city like that, with an ownership group like that, could ever experience any of the sweet, fabulous and exhilirating things like that.

Wayne Huzienga, wherever you are, a pox on you and your ilk.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 28, 2002

....San Francisco Giants

You know, with all of the complaining I do, you'd think the Giants were in last place. They have the fourth best record in the National League, only the fact that they are in the NL West prevents them from being in great shape for the second half and a playoff run. As a team, they have moved into the top three or four offensively, leading the league in home runs, walks (obviously) and they are at or near the top in several categories.

Pitching-wise, they are also doing quite well. They have the fourth best ERA, the only team in the majors that has given up fewer total runs, earned runs, or home runs than the Giants are the Atlanta Braves, you may have heard of them. As a team, they are in the top five in walks allowed, SO/BB's, pitches per inning, etc., etc.. Point being, they have been performing quite well.

What's the problem then, you might ask? Well, I would attribute it to the fact that although they have a decent record, the savvy fan, the person who follows the team closely might have the feeling that they have not maximized their performance. You watch every game, and you see the missed opportunities, the errors in judgement, execution or the just plain old thoughtlessness, and you realize that they could have a much better record, the old they could/should be in first place kind of vibe. And you know what, given the number of runs they've scored and the number they've allowed; they should have a better record.

Then there's the individual disappointments. JT Snow's complete collapse, Jeff Kent's inability, (until recently) to deliver after teams have been kicking sand in his face for about 200 games now, Livan Hernandez's failure/adbication/laziness/lack of progress or whatever you want to call it. Pedro Rodriguez's fade-out, the failure of either Shinjo or Sanders to provide the spark Brian Sabean and Ned Colletti had hoped for.... Add it all up, and you're looking at a summer of discontent, a lot of sports radio bad vibes, present company included. Well, I'm trying to be more positive, especially since I am putting my thoughts out for public consumption. I don't want to be thought of as a pissed off, East-Coast-livin-on-the-West-Coast asshole with nothing better to do than bitch and moan. Stay with me, I'll keep working to get better, more interesting, funny, informative.

Can they get it together? Will we look back at the Barry Bonds/Jeff Kent brouhaha as the spark that lit them up? Can Pedro Feliz find his release point? That's why we watch. Go Giants.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 28, 2002

....One of my readers sent me a post regarding my posts about Dusty Baker, particularly the one about his misplaced loyalty. Here is what he said.

"I think you are on the right track. However, I think Torre is just as guilty of this, but the Yankee front office keeps gives him better players to start with. Torre would have kept Tino and Brosius, even though the Yankee moves at th(ose) position(s) improved the team greatly."

Well, I couldn't disagree more. Scott Brosius and Tino Martinez are World Series winning, clutch performers of the absolute highest order. Brosius is a World Series MVP, and Tino .... well, you saw the Series last year didn't you. You're gonna compare those two guys to JT Snow or Marvin Benard? Please. The pedigree of those two guys dwarfs anyone on the Giants not named Bonds. And, hell, Torre's benched both of those guys before, in the playoffs and the World Series. In 1996, after leading the Yankees in home runs and RBI's, Tino Martinez spiraled into a huge slump as the playoffs went on, until finally, Torre replaced him with Cecil Fielder (?!?!) for the last five games of the World Series. He also sat Wade Boggs down and played Charlie Hayes when Boggs bat went silent. He sat Knoblauch when he couldn't throw, and then Knoblauch came off the bench to deliver a World Series game-winning hit!!

Sure, he has his guys, but I've watched that team pretty closely these last six years, and you can bet, he knows how to get the message to his players when they are slacking, slumping or whatever. He can bench them, move them around in the order, pull them from a game; regardless of the situation or player. Remember in the 2000 World Series when he pulled Neagle with two outs in the fifth inning of a 2-2 game? That's what would happen to Livan if he pitched for Torre. He would put up with his nibbling and walking guys and pitching from behind for just so long, and then, Livan would lose Torre. See, that's the difference. On Torre's team, it's the players job to keep the managers respect. In San Francisco, Dusty thinks it's his job to keep the respect of the players.

One of the things I look for when watching a team is the attitude of the players on the field, their demeanor. Are they attentive, or just there? Are they leaning forward, anticipating the play? When I watch an at bat, I try to see if they are patient and caculating, are they trying to go the other way when the pitcher keeps it away from them, do they open up their front shoulder when he comes inside? Do they have their heads in the game?

What I'm trying to do is get a feel for the mind-set of a player. I believe that is how a manager, a good manager, watches a player. I believe that when Livan Hernandez comes out in the first inning and stares out into space, pitching from behind to hitter after hitter, with that "Why isn't the ump giving me the calls I want?" look on his face; well, that's a pretty good indicator of whether he came to play. Now, in some cases, players are laid back, that's not what I am talking about. I'm talking about wasting at bats, wasting pitches, wasting opportunities, I'm talking about not respecting the game. The Giants just went 6 and 4 against three of the worst teams in baseball, and the first of those ten games featured Livan Hernandez sleepwalking a seven run lead to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Is it a coincidence that the Giants followed his lackadaisical lead with error after error, walks, double plays; with .186 batters hitting three home runs against them in two games, with bad baserunning, and starting pitchers allowing 2, 3, 5 runs in the first inning; all against the WORST TEAMS IN EITHER LEAGUE!?!?!

After all, he is the ace of the staff, according to Dusty. I think it's pretty safe to say that Livan wouldn't be the ace of any team coached by Joe Torre. Sorry, but that's what I believe. And I'm not talking about Livan being the ace of the Yankees, I'm saying if Torre managed the Giants, Livan wouldn't be the ace, or he wouldn't be the way he is. There would be changes, in his demeanor and his respect and care for the responsibility of being a starting pitcher for Joe Torre. Just one man's opinion.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 28, 2002

....Back to baseball

Here's what Jeff Kent had to say after yesterday's game, where, after Dusty Baker swapped Bonds and Kent in the batting order, (with Kent hitting third for the first time this year); Kent drove in 6 runs, which is as many as he had in the previous twelve games.

"I've had six RBIs before. I think I've hit that a few times," he said. "I don't mean to be arrogant here, guys, but I've been hitting the ball fairly well, and I don't like to talk about myself anyway. I never really concentrated much on Barry hitting behind me and I've never concentrated much on Barry hitting in front of me, either."

Yeah, right. Hey Jeff, do us all a favor and stop wasting your breath explaining how things are done in "The Show" to all of us little people. Of course you're arrogant, I happen to believe a little arrogance isn't a bad thing. What's a bad thing is when you act like a know-it-all, and you are wrong, almost all the time.

Strange series against the Padres. Besides the two games there, two games here, home and away type of format; you had the Padres coming into the series averaging less than 4 runs a game, scoring at least five runs before the end of the 4th inning against all four Giants starters, who came into the series having given up the fewest runs in the National League! The Giants were able to overcome all four deficits, if it weren't for the alien dressed up like Pedro Feliz, the Giants would have had a four game win streak of all come from behind wins!

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 28, 2002

....I know that only baseball matters, but I can't let this slide

The New York Knicks over the last several years have made some of the most indefensible moves imaginable, (100 million dollars to Allan Houston, Fredrick Wise with the 17th pick in 2000, 55 million dollars to Charlie Ward!?!?!), and today have made what I believe will go down in history as one of the worst draft day trades ever.

After weeks of declaring how happy they would be if Chris Wilcox, a 6-10 power forward who just completed his sophmore year at Maryland after leading his team to the National Championship by dominating many of his fellow first rounders were still around for them at the # 7 slot on the draft; the Knicks decided that instead, they would trade away the rights to the pick, along with their starting center, Marcus Camby, (who is also, arguably their best player), and Mark Jackson, a throw in if there ever was one, for Antonio McDyess, a 6-10 powerf forward, and some guy named Frank Williams from Illinios ( Sorry, Frank, but, really, who the hell are you?).

So, when you really look at it, this is Camby and Wilcox for McDyess. And considering that McDyess played only ten games last year... well, I am baffled. Mike Lupica, who I consider to be one of the most knowledgable and excellent sportswriters in the country says it's a good deal, well, I am not convinced. Why make this trade at all, when Wilcox is, basically, a younger, healthier, McDyess clone? Why trade for McDyess at all? Who the hell is he? At his best, 20 points and 12 rebounds for a last place team!?!?! Hell, remember Chris Childs? He averaged 20 points and 10 assists for the Nets, got signed by the Knicks to a gigantic free agent contract, and averaged about 7 points and 4 assists for the next four years. Piling up stats on a bad team is no indicator of character or ability. Dominating the best players in collge on your way to a title, that has some pop.

The Knicks have become the laughingstock of the NBA. I have followed them since I was a kid. In the summer of 1994, they gave me one of the greatest sports experiences I have ever had. Since then, they have fallen apart, bit by bit, slowly breaking my heart. Riley left, Ewing, Oakley, Starks, Mason.... finally, Jeff Van Gundy bailed, after looking at the writing on the wall and realizing that the men who signed his checks were absolutely clueless, and not deserving of his heart and soul anymore.

Well, me too. They don't deserve my heart and soul either. Fool me once, you're bad, fool me twice, my bad, fool me fifteen times, well, there's more to loyalty than geographic location. No more. That's the end of it for me. I hereby, officially sever all emotional, commercial and all other superficial ties to the New York Knicks. I will direct my considerable energy and support and attention towards a team that actually is run with intelligence, foresight, enthusiasm and heart that is equal, at least, to my own; the Sacramento Kings. Say what you will, but Petrie has a plan, and he is no fool, overpaying for mediocrity.

He drafts smart, trades smart, pays smart. He has assembled a terrific collection of basketball players who know hwo to play the game at a level that approaches an art form. Trading Jason Williams for Mike Bibby would have beenthe deal of the year if it weren't for the Jason Kidd blockbuster. Again, he has a plan, and he follows it. He actually thinks ahead, and it shows. The Sacramento Kings are my new NBA franchise. I am done with the New York Knicks. Sorry, Michael. You're on your own.

And one more thing. All of the sportswriters who have been criticizing the Kings for their so-called whining about he officiating in game six of the Western Conference Finals, let me ask you a question...

If your season ended in 2001 with an utterly disheartening sweep by the eventual champions, and you followed that loss up by signing your best player to a 118 million dollar contract, and then traded away the one player who most significantly hurt your chances to win for a player who most significantly helped your team win, and then if you did all that in the off-season and then your best player got hurt in training camp, the season started and your other players got better, and you continued to win, and then your star came back and you were able to slowly work him into the mix without upsetting your chemistry, and the team continued to win, and throughout the long and arudous regular season your team emerged as one of the very best teams in the league, and you ended up with the best record in the entire league; and then you struggled but overcame a gutty and experienced Utah Jazz squad in the first round; met the Mavericks in the second, the Dallas Mavericks, a team that was almost a mirror image of your own, a team that could score from anywhere and did.

....and then you lost home court to that Mavericks team, and your team responded by sweeping the next three games in a row to move on to the conference finals for the first time in decades, against your arch-rivals, THE TWO-TIME DEFENDING CHAMPION LOS ANGELES LAKERS. And then you lost the home court advantage again, and came back to absolutely blow the roof off of the Staples Center in game three to get it back; and then you lost game four on a miracle, buzzer beating three pointer that capped an astonishing twenty plus point comeback by THE TWO-TIME DEFENDING CHAMPION LOS ANGELES LAKERS, and you responded once more, by beating them in game five to push them to the brink of elimination.

And then you travel to LA and take them to the limit, game tied after three quarters, and you watch in utter horror and amazement as your team is whistled for foul after foul in a quarter that starts with three!?! consecutive fouls on Scott Pollard in the first few seconds, and then continues until you see the Lakers pull out a victory compliments of 27 to 9 edge in free throw attempts. 27 to 9. Twenty-seven to nine in the fourth quarter of a tie game!!!!!

Did the Kings miss half their free throws in game 7? Was game 7 officiated evenly and fairly? Yes and yes. No issue with game 7. Shouldn't have been a game 7, that's all. No way the Lakers win game 6 without the horrible, biased, poor officiating, no way. As tight as the Kings were in game 7, the Lakers were just as tight in game 6. You put a year of your life into getting to where the Kings were, and you have it taken from you, not by a team performing better than you did, but by officiating that, at best, was the worst I've ever seen, and at worst was the result of a league directive, mob influence or some other conspiracy determined to see the Lakers at least make it to a game 7, and you'd do some complaining too. So, do yourselves a favor, get some of your self-respect back and shut the hell up!

....So, that's it for basketball. Sorry for all you baseball fanatics out there, next post will be back on track.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 27, 2002

The Giants just came back again, against Trevor Hoffman, again!!

So, virtually all of the players I have taken to task recently contributed to today's comeback. Well, I stand by my analysis. Watching JT Snow bat, or Dunston, or Benard or Feliz or Ramon Martinez or Shinjo, or Sanders; I get the feeling that they might as well close their eyes when they swing. To me, it appears that the results they produce are as random as a dice throw; that if they just swung at every pitch they saw, their stats would hardly change at all. So, occasionally, JT Snow will actually drive in a run. Marvin Benard will actually hit a home run about every forty or so at bats. (Or is it more like every 90 at bats?)

That has nothing to do with the fact that a major league baseball player should be expected to have an approach to hitting that allows him to, in some way or another, influence what happens when he swings. Whether that comes from having a good eye, which forces pitchers to throw strikes by not offering at balls out of the strike zone, or by having enormous power, thereby hammering any pitches that come into your area of swing coverage, or by having extraordinary bat control, allowing you to place balls where no defender can get to them; these and many other types of approaches maximize a hitters ability, results and production for the team.

Also important are the fundamental expectations and designs that contribute to winning baseball. Things like hitting behind the runner so that your out gains a base; or hitting a fly-ball when their is a runner at third with less than two outs; or taking pitches as a lead off hitter, so that your teammates can ascertain the effectiveness of the opponents starter. These players fail when measured up to these types of expectations. They are fundamentally unsound in their approach. That results in innefficient, inconsistent, mediocre offensive baseball. What is most shocking is that these are veterans, ballplayers with years and in some cases decades of baseball coaching and teaching and strategy and experience; yet they seem to play the game as if they were rookies. Enough for today.

I love this team, I really do. I care deeply what happens to them, and I want them to win, to host playoff games deep into October. I'll make no bones about it; I want to see the Yankees vs. the Giants in the World Series for the next five years in a row. Please, Brian Sabean, make a move for a clean up hitter. Please....

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 26, 2002

...More on Jeff Kent

My brother in NY noticed that in my proposed trade of Kent for Rolen, I neglected to handle the position switch, i.e. 2B for 3B. So here's an amended proposal: Kent 2B and Pedro Feliz 3B, and any one of three pitchers, Aaron Fultz, Ryan Jensen, or a throw in from the minors other than Ainsworth, for Rolen 3B and anybody!!!

I mean, really, are we gonna see Sabean trade Kent? I don't think so... unless Bonds goes to him and delivers some ultimatum about it. And I don't see that happening. Gary Radnich said something interesting about Bonds this morning. He called Bonds a baseball genius. Think about that. He's right, of course. Barry Bonds knows more about the game of baseball than probably anyone alive today. He's been playing professional baseball for over twenty years, seventeen pf them in the majors, and right now he's the performing at the highest level anyone has reached in the last fifty years, if not all-time. You think Bonds doesn't realize that Kent is probably the third or fourth best second baseman in all of baseball?

What I think the Giants really need to do is trade some prospects for a big time hitter like Guerrero or Delgado or somebody like that. That would allow them to slip Kent into the five hole; as I've said before, Kent isn't a bad hitter, he's just no longer effective as a cleanup hitter. The entire lineup would be reinforced by a real cleanup hitter.

Sanders moves to six, Minor bats seventh, Santiago eighth and you could platoon Shijo and Benard at leadoff. And before I get ninety emails blasting me for giving Benard at bats, you have to be realistic. No one will take him off Sabean's hands at 4.2 million a year, no one! So you've got to do something. Shinjo is a liability at the plate, frankly, and I never thought I'd say this about anyone, but Benard is a better hitter than he is. And if you protect Bonds, while lengthening the lineup, it doesn't matter what happens in the leadoff slot, the offense will be fine.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 26, 2002

...More on Dusty

Just got a hilarious email from a new reader, and I had to post it....


A friend (and fellow Giants fan) turned me on to your site, and just wanted to write to say I appreciate (and agree) with virtually all of your takes on the Giants ... it's nice to see there are others that see this team as I do -- one that is consistently mis-managed, and frankly underachieves despite having the best player in baseball.

Last night was yet another example of why Dusty and his willingness to sacrifice games for the "greater good" will kill this team. In what was shaping up to be one of the most important wins of the year (rallying from 5-0 hole, winning despite the dugout fracas, etc.), Dusty insists on trotting FRod out to throw gasoline on the fire in a 7-5 game. It's clear Felix has not been right all year, yet Dusty continues to play him as if nothing is wrong (see Marvin 2001, J.T. Snow 2002). It continues to cost this team games, and drives me insane.

Anyway, just wanted to vent to someone that would understand, but my list of reasons why Dusty must go continues to grow. Too bad he has a free pass from the SF media, which treat him as the second coming of John Wooden.

Favorite Dusty "Strategies":

-- Sure, Livan can throw one more inning in this 2-1 game ... he's only thrown 135 pitches

-- I have to play J.T. Snow, because I might need him sometime, and how will he do if I don't have confidence in him?

-- Why rest only one starter at a time when you can rest 2 or 3? (see today's lineup for further evidence)

-- This key AB seems like a perfect time to use Shawon Dunston (.161 BA)

-- I think I'll let Russ Ortiz hit this inning, and then pull him after he faces one batter next inning

-- Mark Gardner sure looks good in this key playoff game, I'll let him bat with the bases loaded

I could go on and on, but it's depressing me.

Eric Chabot

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 26, 2002

....More on Jeff Kent

In an earlier post, I detailed Jeff Kent's decline as a hitter and run producer. This season, One can easily see how he his being misused by the Giants; as Dusty continues to put him in the clean up slot, despite his poor production for well over 200 games now.

To further illustrate this problem, let's take a quick peek at the Giants' top four RBI men other than Bonds. That would be Kent, Reggie Sanders, David Bell and Benito Santiago. Jeff Kent, despite coming to the plate with more men on-base than any hitter in baseball, has driven in a run every 7 at bats. Sanders, who was so unproductive in the five slot the Giants moved him to leadoff, has driven in a run every 5.85 at bats. David Bell, brought in to stop the bleeding at third base; has done so every 6.8 at bats. And Benito has also been more productive than the cleanup hitter, driving in a run every 6.13 at bats. Bonds, of course, is on another planet, with an RBI every 3.9 at bats, but that's what happen when you walk 90 plus times before the All-Star break.

Kent has also used up far more outs then the other three hitters, grounded into more double plays, left more men on-base... you get the picture. Remember, though, this isn't Kent's fault. Kent's inability as a clean up hitter is documentable; and frankly, obvious. The Giants insistence on putting him in that position is their failure, not his.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 26, 2002


Last night, in another loss to a last place team, this time it was the Padres; as the Giants were continuing a disturbing trend of fundamentally poor baseball, Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds came thisclose to a fist fight in the dugout. A disagreement between Kent and David Bell escalated into f*** bombs, and as Bonds walked past, he told the two of them to cool it. Apparently, Kent took offense, and sent some of those bombs in his direction. You must have seen the rest. It looked like Bonds was gonna kill him for a second there. Overheard by some fans sitting near the dugout was Jeff Kent shouting at Dusty Baker that he wants out of San Francisco, among other things.

Today's local papers have branded Kent everything from a liar to a hypocrite; they have called him jealous, a cancer.... You get the picture. Now, I am anything but a Jeff Kent fan; remember, you read about his decline here first. But things sure turn fast in the Bay Area. Suddenly, Bonds is everyone's favorite son, and all of the Jeff Kent bs that's been floating around for the last several years is hitting the fan, so to speak.

Should the Giants trade Kent? I don't know. Maybe if they could package him with, say, Ryan Jensen; and get Scott Rolen, sure. That would probably be a terrific trade. David Bell's production is more in line with a typical second basemen's, and Rolen would love to play with Bonds for the next five years. He would be assured of a management that is committed to winning, a big issue with him. Most importantly for the Giants, Since both Kent and Rolen are due significant contracts at the end of the year, the could swap a young run producer for an old one, always a plus.

They certainly need to do something. I don't recall a stretch of dunder-headed play like they are in right now, at least not since I've been watching them. In the midst of a thirty game win one, lose one stretch, they have made more fundamental errors than I can count. Last night, first and third with one out, Dusty calls for a pitch out, the Padres attempt the double steal, and Torreallba throws to second!?!? Add in a few dozen baserunning errors, guys not covering bases, not running hard, miscues in the outfield.... This is a veteran team?

I will say this. If this team continues to play lethargic, disinterested, baseball much longer, one of two things will happen. Brian Sabean is gonna start chopping heads off, or the fans are gonna stay home. Here's a short list of players who appear to have anything but baseball on their minds:

Aaron Fultz. Pedor Feliz. Jeff Kent. JT Snow. Livan Hernandez. Right there are five players who have absolutely mailed it in so far this season. Any one want to hazard a guess as to why? The first person I would ask would be Dusty Baker, who, in my view, is clearly in danger of losing this team right now. Tough times in San Francisco.

John J Perricone

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 26, 2002

Wow. Did you see Bonds last night? Is he kidding somebody?!?!

The first time he someone pitches to him in three weeks, and he hits a three-run game tying homer in the seventh, followed by a first pitch, laser-beam off of Trevor Hoffman to win it in the ninth?!?!

Great work by Jon Miller, immediately letting us know that Bonds had just hit the first home run(!!!) off of Hoffman all year. Wow. Talk about single handedly lifting a struggling team. The only downside is that all that he's really done is insure that we will now see another twenty walks before they pitch to him again.

John J Perricone

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 25, 2002

I had to add this... I got it from the Baseball Prospectus Online

"If I didn't, I wouldn't keep playing him. I hear people saying, 'Dusty's so loyal, Shawon's your boy.' I hear all that s---. But he can do it. If I didn't think so, I wouldn't keep running him out there."

--Dusty Baker, Giants manager, on continuing to play outfielder Shawon Dunston

In response to Dusty, I'd suggest that what he "thinks" or "feels" about Shawon is immaterial. Shawon's batting average over the last two seasons, in a little over 400 at bats is .263. His strike out average over the same period of time is .193. If you're 39 years old, and you strike out twenty percent of the time you come to the plate, I'd say that Dusty is fooling himself if he thinks Dunston isn't finished. This is exactly the kind of issue I just wrote about. Exactly.

John J Perricone

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 24, 2002

This is the first of a three part review of the key members of the San Francisco Giants management team; Dusty Baker and Brian Sabean. Today is Dusty day.

Looking at the latest complaints from the Giants manager; that the fans and the media are unfairly critical of him and the team, I decided to take a look at the enigma that is Dusty Baker. He's been the head man for the Giants for ten years now, and he has had quite a run. I believe it was late last year, right after the Giants had been eliminated that one of the teams beat writer came up with a stat that said that during Dusty's tenure, the Giants had played in less than twenty games that were meaningless, i.e., without the ability to still make the playoffs. I don't know whether that is accurate or not, but without question, the Giants have been a consistent contender during his reign, and he is, by all accounts, a fine manager and a fine person. I am not interested in whether he is the best manager in the majors or not, that's immaterial to me as a fan of the team. He is consistent, and by all reckoning, terrific for this organization, and this team, and this city.

He has a weakness, however, a flaw in his approach, one that is inherent in everything he does... and I believe that it will forever prevent him from bringing a championship to the city by the Bay. Dusty has a reputation as a loyal manager, one who defends his players through thick and thin. One who overlooks the immediate with an eye always on tomorrow. One who knows from his own playing days what it feels like when you don't know that your manager is looking out for your best interests. It is this "loyalty" that will prevent him and the rest of the Giants from tasting champagne.

This season is still young, and many of the decisions that could or should be made are still in their infancy. It is too early to really look at 2002, especially when there is so little opportunity for Dusty to really make any serious changes. I mean, he's benched JT (Finally), he's playing Minor, he's shuffled the lineup. There really is no way to compensate for so many dead bats. It's up to Brian Sabean to make a move.

But 2001 is still fresh enough to look at. The events and decisions that shaped last season are easy to recall, painful, but easy. There were two key moments in the San Francisco Giants 2001 season, from a managers standpoint. The one that strikes me as the most important was the handling of the Andres Gallarraga/JT Snow issue in July and August; and the second most important was the Marvin Benard fiasco. I view the Gallarraga/Snow dilemma as more important, because it came up late in the season, when the post-season was still up for grabs.

Andres Gallarraga was acquired on July 24th. In the 20 games after he arrived, the Giants went 17-3, surging from 6.5 games behind the D'backs to just a half game out of first place. Their run production spiked upward, from an average of 4.93 to 6.75 runs per game. During that stretch, Gallarraga was a dominant force, providing a whole new look to the Giants lineup. Not only offering greater protection for Kent, but at times he even batted cleanup. Not surprisingly, Bonds' , Kent, in fact, virtually everyone in the lineup was able to significantly boost their production. The difference between having the Big Cat instead of JT at the plate was obvious to even the most casual observer, (my wife); the team simply looked unbeatable. After the surge, the Giants were a season high 17 games over .500 at 69-52, and seemed a lock to make the playoffs.

By that time, however, JT Snow was healthy, and Dusty was faced with a decision. Should they bench the Big Cat? Should they platoon the right-handed Gallarraga and the lefty Snow? Many articles and columns were written around this time, and there seemed to be a lot of references to someone not losing their job because of injury, (a bogus bit of nonsensical "common sense" that is constantly spouted in sports) Dusty made some reference to JT producing in the past, and how they really couldn't expect to win without his bat (really, you could look it up), and then he benched Andres and started Snow. And how did that work? Almost exactly as you might expect. When they made the switch from Andres, with a slugging percentage around .600, to Snow, with a slugging percentage around .350; they completely derailed the offense. Over the next twenty games, the Giants offense slumped to only 4.05 runs per game, and the team produced a record of 9-11. (By then Dusty realized that JT wasn't going to get it done, he started platooning them for real, but the damage was done, Andres and the team never got back on track) That twenty game stretch, in which Dusty Baker's loyalty to one player apparently superseded his loyalty to a team, to an organization and to its fans; cost the Giants the playoffs. From that 69-52 record, the Giants went 21-20 the rest of the way, losing the division by two games to the eventual world champion Diamondbacks.

The other key managerial call of last season was his handling of Marvin Benard. For the first two months of last season, Rich Aurilia and Barry Bonds put on a hitting clinic while Marvin Benard hit about .180 from the leadoff slot. What do you think that cost the Giants? After 64 games the Giants were 32-32 and were averaging 4.7 runs per game. At that point in the season, Bonds' had over thirty home runs with only 50 or so RBI, and Aurilia was batting .352, with 106 hits, 12 home runs, and only 33 RBI's!!!! 106 hits and thirty-three runs batted in?!?!? By the end of June, Marvin Benard had 207 at bats and had scored 34 runs while batting in front of Bonds and Aurilia.

Who decides who plays? Who pulls the pitcher? Who makes out the lineup card? Dusty Baker. Are you telling me that Marvin Benard earned the right to kill about 60 games? Marvin Benard? Marvin Benard is a decent, scrappy, bust his tail fourth outfielder. By no stretch of the imagination is he a seasoned veteran, proven to the point where you could pencil his name in the lineup week after week while he struggled to hit .100. Who answers for that? (And I know Brian Sabean is my next post, but who signed Marvin Benard to a three year, 10 million dollar deal? Who signed JT Snow to a four year, 24 million dollar deal?)

When analyzing Dusty Baker's approach to management, he is frequently referred to as a players manager. It is commonly thought that Dusty is exactly the kind of manager today's players prefer to play for, his willingness to overlook a day or a week of struggling allows a player to avoid the fear that someone is looking over his shoulder. But I wonder just how many players really want to play for someone so willing to let one player tank a season while that player "works it out" I'm not singling out JT Snow, who is a fine defensive player, and a decent person. But as a hitter, at his very best, JT Snow is mediocre. How you can justify taking at bats from a red-hot Andres Gallarraga and giving them to JT Snow is beyond me. I mean, come on. My wife, who spent the last fifteen years in Italy, who has watched baseball for all of about fifty games, complained about Dusty benching Gallarraga and playing Snow!!!!!

I can guarantee you that Joe Torre, or Tony Larussa, or Jim Leyland, or any other manager worth his salt would not allow his loyalty to one player cloud a decision of that importance. Not to that degree. But Dusty Baker does it, over and over. From the outside looking in, it appears that he lacks the ability or the desire to tell a player bad news. So we get to see Benard fail to satisfy the needs of the leadoff slot for sixty games. We get to see pitchers go one more inning, one more batter, one more pitch; instead of having a manager who protects the win, the team; as much as he protects the player. It is this weakness, this flaw in his thinking, that will prevent Dusty from taking the Giants to the promised land.

The irony is that if Dusty would make the tough choice, putting the team ahead of the player just a little bit; not every time, but just shorten his leash a little bit; the end result would be that, instead of losing his veterans, which is his stated reason for staying the course so long; the Giants would get over the hump. They would know things about themselves and their manager that you cannot learn when you consistently take the easy way out. And frankly, that's what we're talking about. It's just easier to not change, not to rock the boat. If you leave it alone and it doesn't work, it's "Well, the players have to produce." If you make a change and it doesn't work, it's on the manager; you open yourself to second-guessing. And if you read the papers here in SF, it's pretty clear that Dusty doesn't like being second guessed.

John J Perricone

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 24, 2002

In the local newspapers today, I read that the San Francisco Giants are unhappy at the negativity being shown towards them in the media. I am as guilty as anyone, so I will make an attempt to qualify my comments as to the direction of my emnity.

First of all, my comments should more accurately be directed towards management. For example, instead of taking issue with Jeff Kent's inability to hit in the cleanup slot anymore, I will direct my analysis towards how his abilities are utilized. That means I will start to look more at Dusty Baker and Brian Sabean. First of all, Brian Sabean needs to answer the bell when it comes to the moves he has or hasn't made to strengthen the offense. Is it appropriate to suggest that he has made moves that are stinkers? I believe so. Has he made terrific moves? Obviously he has. I believe this is an issue that deserves additional research, so look for an in-depth analysis of his last four years of work later this week.

How about Dusty Baker? Should he face criticism for his moves and non-moves, in game decisions and playing time decisions? Yes he should. I believe that in looking at his in-game decisions, one can understand why he does what he does by paying attention to what Dusty says. You want to know why he didn't take Livan out of yesterday's ballgame? (Obviously, he should have. Livan gives up more hits per inning than any starting pitcher in baseball, and has done so for his whole career. There is no question that he is a poor bet to hold a team down for one more inning, regardless of the situation. Opponents are batting well over .300 against him this year, a number that is not significantly different than his career numbers, while the Giants bullpen was rested and ready.) But when I read in today's SF Chron, that Dusty still thinks Livan is his ace, understand why he didn't. Hasn't he watched Livan pitch for the last four years? Is he a workhorse? Different question. Yes, he's a horse. But an ace? Not by any definition of ace I've ever seen. It's exactly that kind of wrong-headed thinking that causes so many people to worry out loud. When the decision-makers on your team say things that are inaccurate to even the casual fan, the hard-core fans get up-in-arms. Livan hasn't earned the distinction of being an called an ace. In fact, given how many chances Dusty has given him, he clearly has earned his way out of being that pitcher. You think giving up seven runs in two innings to Tampa Bay last week didn't hurt the team? As the ace of the pitching staff, in the first game of a six game homestand aginst two of the worst teams in baseball; does the kind of disinterested, lackadaisical effort put forth by Dusty's ace have anything to do with losing three of six? Of course it does. You think the Giants lose three out of six if Hernandez three hits them instead?

How about Gene Clines. Is Gene Clines an effective hitting coach? I can't see how you could argue that he is. There are a couple of simple questions that reveal his effectiveness. One, are the Giants hitters who aren't superstars (Bonds, Kent and Aurilia, and marginally, David Bell, who, while not a superstar, has a plan when he's at the plate, and it shows) effective when compared to the rest of the league's regular players. (No, not at all) Two, do Giants hitters show evidence of a style, approach or at least a level of production that would be indicative of an effective offensive player? (Not that I can see)

These Giants almost never walk, frequently swinging on 2-0, 3-1 pitches that aren't close to the strike zone. They ground into an amazing number of double plays, in short, they seem to exert almost no influence on the outcome of an at-bat or a game. Everything they do, with limited exception, appears to be an almost random result of simply being at the plate and swinging at everything. In fact, there are several hitters who, you could argue, are less likely to get a hit than some of the Giants pitchers.

Granted, I am not a baseball scout, and I have never played baseball. I have, however, followed the game with a fair amount of scrutiny for most of my life. I love baseball, and want to see my hometown team do well. I believe there is a rhyme and a reason towards positive results. I do believe, unlike Jeff Kent, that stats do matter. I do believe that past results are a good way to predict future results. It is my opinion that the negativity Dusty and Brian and the Giants refer to is caused by people paying close attention to their team, caring about their team, and being tanatlized by how close their team is to being a true championship contender. It doesn't take a rocket scientist, or, for that matter, someone who works for the team; to see that this Giants team is running a very real risk of once again watching the playoffs on TV. If I care about that, I have a right to say it, write it, call up Ralph and Tom and rant about it. If I have an opinion about the Giants, and it is negative, well; I'm sorry. The Giants matter to me, and I want them to win, and I think there are some obvious reasons why they aren't winning as frequently as they should. I am not alone in that sentiment.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 24, 2002

Saturday, June 22, 2002

Looking at the standings this morning, you’ll find an interesting anomaly. Part of the inter-league strategy is to match up divisions; so the National League West is playing the American League East, right? Well, the NL West, NL East, and the AL West teams all won last night. The AL Central, AL East teams all lost; and in the NL Central, 5 out of six teams lost, the only winner being the Chicago Cubs. I don’t recall seeing this before, and I wonder if it’s happened where all the wins were distributed by division. Since inter-league is fairly new, I would guess not.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 24, 2002

Friday, June 21, 2002

Kent’s been up twice in tonight’s game, in the first inning with runners at the corners; and in the third, with runner at first and second. In both instances, Bonds was walked to get at him. He grounded to the shortstop on the first pitch both times, hitting into his 12th double play in the first. I mean, what is he in a hurry to get back out onto the field? After you ground into a double play in the first inning on your first pitch, wouldn’t you take a pitch or two your next time up? I’ll continue to stand by my last two posts, Kent as a clean up hitter is not gonna’ get the Giants where they want to go.

Minor, on the other hand, is making a case for keeping himself in the lineup, not only has he gotten two hits so far; he’s hustling like a twenty year old. Nice spark. The Giants just scored their first run on a dropped throw home, leaving them 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position through 4 1/3 innings.

After finally breaking through in the fourth, with consecutive two-out hits by Bell, Shinjo and Reuter, Jeff Kent finally got a hit after a walk to Bonds’. Up came the fairly hot Damon Minor with a first and second, nobody out situation. Minor hit a blast to the deepest part of the ballpark that was run down by Melvin Mora, actually a spectacular play. Inexplicably, Bonds put his head down and rounded third like it was gone. It wasn’t, and instead of tagging up and advancing, he was doubled up.

Now, after the second home run by the legendary Marty Cordova, the Giants find themselves in a tie game in the sixth, 3-3. Watching this telecast, I am amazed when Fox puts up a graphic that shows that the Giants have the highest batting average in the NL so far in the month of June. I guess I missed all of those hits.

Seventh inning, Bonds is walked for the third time, as the Oriole’s have decided that Kent will be the one to beat them. This is Kent’s third at-bat after a Bonds’ walk, and for the third time, he grounds to short to end the inning. At least he took a few pitches this time.

The old Ball-n-Chain just told me that I sound bitter. Hmmm, I guess I’ll try to turn over a new leaf ;-)

Meanwhile, David Bell continues to look like the pick up of the year. He just hit his 10th home run with two outs in the eighth to put the Giants ahead, and Rodriguez and Nen got the last six outs without a hitch. Giants win 4-3.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 24, 2002

Of course, I look like an idiot. In the week or so that it took me to get the Jeff Kent post done, he has gone .520, .586, .800, 1.356. Oh well, if he does it for the rest of the year, then I'll eat my crow. So far, he's just fattening his numbers on the D'Rays.

John J Perricone

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 21, 2002

Pre-All Star 2000.354.503.6721.175
Post-All Star 2000.307.467.501.968
Pre-All Star 2001.296.418.510.928
Post-All Star 2001.300.385.503.888
To Date 2002.281.377.441.818

Notice anything about the above numbers? That's what you call a trend. These are Jeff Kent's stats over the last five half seasons, starting with the 2000 1st half; which catapulted him to the NL MVP award. As you can see, he has been on a steady decline ever since. I did this research hoping to find out what has happened to Jeff Kent.

One thing I noticed in looking at Kent's decline is his patience at the plate, or lack thereof. During the 2000 season, Kent walked 90 times, which was and still is his career high. This resulted in a career high on-base percentage of .487. It's fairly well-established that patience at the plate is a contributor to many other offensive positives. At first glance, this seems like a reasonable explanation for the drop off, but Kent never was a real big walk guy; I mean, 2000 was really an abberration, from 1997-2001, his walk totals are 48, 48, 61, 90, 65. Throughout his first several years with the Giants, he had been a productive clean up hitter without a high walk rate.

So why the big drop? Well, I thought that maybe Kent had become enamored with the long ball, especially after the first half of 2000, when he had 23 bombs and 85 runs batted in. Looking at his HR/AB ratio, you can see that in the 1st half of 2000, he hit a HR every 14 at bats. Prior to that, he averaged 1 HR every 23 AB's. Since then, he's averaged 1 HR every 23 AB's. Hmmm... All that tells us is that, for half a season, everything he hit hard, went out of the park. But, while his HR frequency is pretty static, his slugging percentage has declined fairly steadily; a decline that is completely in line with a player his age.

It also clear that Kent's decline has been masked to some degree by Bonds' offensive explosion over the last two seasons. Jeff Kent drove in over 100 runs in 2001, and many in the Giants organization probably feel that he did his job; and that dissatisfaction over his performance was due to a few memorable situations where he failed; not an overall lack of production. Looking at his raw numbers, home runs, rbi's and batting average, you see a player in the midst of a five year run of tremendous production. It is only when you look deeper, at his slugging and on-base% and OPS does it become obvious that he has declined.

And therein lies the answer. I don't think there is a change in approach or plan of action or "reason" per se. I would posit that the 1st half of 2000 was simply Jeff Kent's peak as a hitter. That he is in the midst of his decline phase as a hitter, something that is normal for a player who will trun 35 this year. There is no great meaning to this decline, it just means that we are watching the last few seasons of a very productive second baseman.

What this means to the San Francisco Giants, however, is that Jeff Kent cannot be counted on to "hit like we're used to seeing," as Brian Sabean has stated he is waiting for. What this means is that the Giants need to address the hole behind Barry Bonds, or he will continue to be walked whenever he comes to the plate with an opportunity to hurt the opposition.

Although Sabean did take steps to upgrade the Giants offense in the off-season; going into 2002 with Jeff Kent penciled into the cleanup slot clearly is not working, and an honest evaluation of his production reveals that it shouldn't have been expected to.

Will the Giants address this issue before it's too late? Currently 69 games into the season, Jeff Kent has fewer RBI's than Benito Santiago, he has the same number of home runs as David Bell; and the Giants are 3.5 games back of the D'backs. This while the Giants have the third best ERA, and the fourth best defensive efficiency rating in the NL. It's obvious the Giants are losing too many close games, and they are placing too much pressure on their pitching staff.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 20, 2002

Another excellent post detailing Bud the Stupid's lies and obfuscation can be found at David Pinto's Musings Blog. David helped me get my site set up. Discuss amongst yourselves.....

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 20, 2002

In the June 19th Baseball Prospectus Online, Joe Sheehan has a brilliant take on Dave Kindred's pathetic attempt at an interview with Bud the Stupid. Read and learn.

Joe Sheehan, and the rest of the crew at the Baseball Prospectus make me want to be a better writer. Guys like that are gonna be part of unseating a loser like Selig. Support them if you can.

John J Perricone

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 20, 2002

Dave Kindred has a not exactly riveting interview with Baseball Commisioner Bud Selig in today's The Sporting News. Needless to say, it is merely another opportunity for Bud to continue his premise that multiple baseball teams are almost bankrupt, that teams are losing money hand over fist, blah, blah, blah. Don't believe you, Bud. You and your cronies have lied and lied forever.

Here's an idea, Bud; show your finances. Let everyone see where Ted Turner hides his money, where you and your daughter pocketed the 16 million dollars in revenue sharing that you didn't use to resign Jeremy Burnitz; you know, defend your argument. All in all, nothing new, except for the scary part. The scary part is where Bud says that the owners are willing and able to cancel the World Series this year, and all of the 2003 season as well; all in an effort to put those players in their places.

What a surprise, the owners will do whatever they want or can in an effort to get what they want. Hmmm... and if the players do whatever they want or can to get what they want, somehow that is wrong?

John J Perricone

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 19, 2002

Wow. That's really all I can say. Wow.

That was just about the worst, team-wide performance I have ever seen. Unprofessional. Unprepared. Disrespectful. Embarassing. Lack of hustle, lack of interest, lack of respect for the game. Livan Hernandez ought to be ashamed of himself. His demeanor was matched by his results. He looked like he wanted to be anywhere but on the mound. Frankly, he should have been. Of course, the rest of the team didn't show very much either. No one covering second on a steal attempt, falling down in the outfield.... Apparently, the Giants must have figured all they needed to do was show up and the Tampa Bay Whoevers would roll over and take their pounding.

If I were in Dusty's place, I would have taken Livan out after not covering first base. Not because he didn't cover, I understand that people can have brain locks, that's fine. I would have taken him out because that was just an obvious symptom of his complete adbication of his responsibilities to his team-mates, to the organization, and to the fans. He is the starting pitcher. As such, he sets the tone, the attitude for the team. I would have taken him out in an effort to send a message to rest of his team-mates to WAKE UP!!!!! By leaving him in, we got to see Livan throw batting practice to the worst team in baseball, the rest of the team following his lead; stumbling around in a daze, and we all got the message that this game doesn't matter, that it's a long season and these things happen, and we'll get 'em next time...

Except it's not just this game, or this series or this week. The Giants are now 32-30 since they started 6-0. That's sixty-two games of mediocrity, sixty-two games of being the NY Mets, sixty-two games of win one, lose one. Meanwhile, the D'backs have the best record in the National League and the Dodgers aren't going away.

The real culprit in all of this has to be Dusty Baker. Yeah, I know. Everyone gets on poor Dusty when the Giants lose. Well, there is a real issue here, and it's fairly subtle. The problem lies with the way Dusty manages, and it isn't his in-game decisions. It's his approach to the game, his demeanor. It's that he has always been a little too eager to sacrifice a game, or a series, or a week, or a month of wins to satisfy some poorly put together definition of loyalty. Last year we suffered through almost two hundred at-bats of Marvin Benard proving he wasn't a a major-league hitter, while the D'backs built a commanding lead; a lead that was never overcome. A loyalty that extends only to a specific player, and not to the rest of the team, the organization or the fans. A loyalty that doesn't seem to include managing in an effort to maximize both player potential and wins. A loyalty that sometimes looks more like an effort to avoid confrontation and hurt feelings.

Now, I 'm a Joe Torre fan, and I know that no one looks particularly good when compared to Joe; but really, would Joe Torre have allowed the Yankees to show up like the Giants did last night? Would Joe Torre leave Jeff Kent in the cleanup slot 200 games after he stopped producing? Would Joe Torre allow Giant after Giant to waste at bats and scoring opportunities and games without a single negative comment or threat.... without even one, "If things don't pick up soon, there's gonna be some changes."?

I'm all for consistency and maturity. The Giants are a veteran team, and Dusty's right to say that they know what's expected of them. At the same time, the Yankees are also a veteran team, and frankly, they obviously know a hell of a lot more about what's expected of them, given the four championships they've collect in the last six years. Does that prevent Joe Torre from lighting a fire under their asses when they are slacking? Not even a little. When Soriano watches a home run that isn't, the first person he sees is Torre, and he gets his ass chewed. He doesn't humiliate him, and he doesn't "lose" his players loyalty. He gets his point across. There's a right way and a wrong way to play this game. On Torre's team, you do it the right way.

All players, ALL players need someone to keep them focused, aggressive, prepared and attentive at some point. The season is long, it is a grind. It's the managers job to make sure the players stay on the straight and narrow. Far too often, the Giants' manager lets his players slide through, treating games like a limitless commodity.

When you allow Marvin Benard and Shawon Dunston to bat with the game on the line.... What does that say about the game? It says that there's always tomorrow. If you play for the Giants, why shouldn't that same lack of urgency apply to at-bats, to innings, to pitches? How many times have we seen Benito Santiago swinging at ball four on a 3-0 count? JT Snow? Shinjo? Hell, the only player on the team who should be swinging away is the one who doesn't. How many times have we watched a Giants pitcher turn an 0-2 count into a walk?

The first half has about twenty games left, it's June 19th, and the Giants are four and half games out, which is the farthest they've been out of first since the first half of 2000. It's time for a little urgency.

John J Perricone

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 19, 2002

Just read a terrific article by my favorite sportswriter, Micke Lupica, in today's Daily News. He takes a look at the New York Mets' Edgardo Alfonzo as a possible candidate in a trade for the Phillies Scott Rolen.

How come no one in San Francisco thinks that the Giants ought to be looking at Rolen. The Phillies are on a budget, they are falling out of contention.... The Giants have two (!) third basemen that make a fraction of what Rolen makes. Since David Bell can play any infield spot, he has to stay, so here's one possible scenario: Pedro Feliz for Rolen, and you can throw in a pitcher, Joe Nathan, Aaron Fultz, Kurt Ainsworth, whoever. The Phillies save money, and the Giants finally get a corner infielder who can hit.

This trade makes sense for so many reasons, not the least of which is you can move Kent into the number 5 slot in the order. By moving Kent, you lengthen and strengthen the entire lineup. If you keep Sanders at lead-off, then you go Aurilia, Bonds, Rolen, Kent, Snow, Santiago, and Shinjo, in a secondary lead-off slot at number 8. Granted, some of these guys still have to start swinging the bat; but expecting Kent to suddenly reverse a 200 game slide is a recipe for another wasted season.

Just a thought.......

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 18, 2002

Since I'm up and running now, here's a few tidbits from my NY trip.

My friend Pedro organized a trip to New York to see the Giants play in Yankee Stadium. This trip was a testament to his perseverance and vision, since he started putting it together in December 2001. He went online day after day, checking eBay and other sites, as well as the Giants and yankee sites, in an effort to not only get tickets for he and I, along with our other friend Craig, but also for all of my friends and family back East. Apparently, the closer you are to Yankee Stadium, the greater the difficulty in scoring seats.

Anyway, after all the work, the trip was a spectacular success. The three of us not only saw all three games, we hit the Big Apple like a tsunami. We ate pizza at Famous Joe's Pizza on Bleeker street (Note to Ralph Barbieri, there is virtually no difference between Amici's and Joe's, both were astounding), we sat in sidewalk cafe's in Greenwich Village, we shot pool, we woke up smelling like smoke (Memo to NY, make people smoke outside, please). We did it all, hardly sleeping the whole time. For an added bonus, the weekend was packed with awesome sports. My friend Vinny had a terrific Tyson/Lewis party, hosted on the roof of his West Central Park apartment. The fight was OK, the party was a barn-burner, lots of beer, beautiful women, and the added bonus of a triple-overtime Stanley Cup Finals game, followed the next night by the Nets/Lakers finale; which, actually, was a bit of a letdown. But, man, Vinny's apartment made me just a little nostalgic for the days when I called Manhattan my home. (Don't tell my wife I actually said that) Thanks Vinny, for a great time. Hope you can make it out here sometime.

Yankee Stadium was terrific, the games were closely contested affairs, with an air of electricity that made it seem like October. In game one, Mussina struck Bonds out in the fifth with two men on, and the Stadium was explosive. Game two, Bonds hit the longest home run I've ever seen in person, the ball was caught by someone sitting in the twenty-first (!) row in the upper deck in right. Simply astonishing. Game three was weak because the Yankees, after all the talk of pitching to Bonds, hit him in the first, and then proceeded to walk him four straight times. Oh well, it was still fairly spectacular, and a trip that I will remember for the rest of my life. Thanks Pete, you pulled off a terrific vacation.

There's another thing that stuck in my mind, however. For years (decades, actually) I've been pretty hard on Steinbrenner. He's been greedy, short-sighted; he's treated some terrific people like crap, (Yogi and Mattingly come to mind). Over the past several years, as the Yankees have won, it's been easy to say he's changed; and I really don't know if he has or hasn't, so I've been kind of sitting back, enjoying the ride. But all that aside, I have to say that there finally is an issue that he and I are in agreement on. The Stadium. I've been blessed since PacBell opened. My company has season tickets, and I've been to about 75 games in the past three seasons. PacBell is stunning, beautiful and clean and located properly, with great sight lines, concessions stands, and new clean bathrooms, and great luxury suites and on and on. Yankee Stadium is, frankly, not even close. It is, obviously, the cathedral of baseball history. It is still a fantastic place to watch a game. It is also old, decrepit and dated. The seats, sight lines, bathrooms, concessions, beer selection, exits... you can go on and on. Steinbrenner is right. It's time to make a new history. Now, I don't want a multi-use horror, with a stupid retractable roof or any of that. But you could easily rebuild the Stadium with all of the amenities and comforts, and yes, luxury boxes and club seating; and still maintain the look, feel and design of Yankee Stadium. It would be a cakewalk for a good architectural firm. Whether it happens or not is still in question. But I, as a fairly traditional guy, have been converted. The Stadium, especially as the home field for the best team of the last thirty years, one of the very best ever; is not very impressive anymore. Come out to PacBell. You'll see.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 17, 2002

Let's try to publish a link...

Here's a link to today's SF Chronicle article on the Giants.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 17, 2002

I posted this SF Giants opposition starters stat line a week ago. I was attempting to highlight the inadequacies of the Giants offense during the month of May. I have just run a couple of rants on their progress so far in June, so I thought I would follow up with some June opposing starters stats as a comp...

Date Team/Pitcher Innings Hits Runs

May 1 Phil/Adams 6 3 0

May 4 Cin/Haynes 5 5 2

May 10 Mont/Vasquez 8 6 2

May 11 Mont/Okha 7 4 1

May 12 Mont/Armas 7 5 2

May 14 Atl/Moss 7 2 2

May 15 Atl/Maddux 8 5 1

May 19 Fla/Beckett 7 1 1

May 28 Az/Batista 9 1 0

May 30 Az/Helling 8 4 0

June 4 SD/BJones 7 4 3

June 7 NY/Mussina 6 8 1

June 8 NY/Lilly 7 8 3

June 9 NY/Clemens 8 7 2

June 14 Oak/Hudson 7 7 1

June 16 Oak/Zito 6.2 4 1

Doesn't look much different, not sure what further conclusions could be drawn here..... Lets see, although the Giants appear to be getting more hits, and you could argue that the June pitchers are of a better caliber, they aren't scoring many more runs. Interestingly, only Zito was taken out in the middle of an inning. I was at that game, and it didn't appear to me that Zito warranted being removed.

Nonetheless, the Giants inability to score is a significant problem. Marvin Benard, Pedro Feliz, Ramon Martinez, Shawon Dunston, JT Snow, Shinjo, Damon Minor; as a group, represent the least effective 6, 7, 8, 9, 1 hitters in all of baseball. I don't believe there is a combination of these players that can generate runs at even a replacement level of offense. When you add Reggie Sanders and Jeff Kents' woes to the mix, and factor in Rich Aurilia's difficulties coming back from all of his early season injuries; the Giants record so far defies logic. Clearly, this is a one player team right now; or to be more accurate, it is a pitching deep, one player offense. Bonds has 80 walks so far, with an on-base percentage in the high .500's, and he has only been driven in about thirty times by someone other than himself.

The Giants are wasting opportunities to get wins, all of their starters have lost quality starts, regardless of the competition. They have already been in more than twenty one run games, and a bunch of two run games as well. Last year, the Giants finished two games back of the Diamondbacks. Unless Sabean makes drastic changes, they will be lucky to be that close again.

PS.... I know I said I would do an in-depth Kent article. It will take longer than I thought, so please be patient.

John J Perricone

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 17, 2002


Comment on this   [0]  »  June 17, 2002

More more more.....

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 17, 2002

One more try......

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 17, 2002


Comment on this   [0]  »  June 17, 2002


Comment on this   [0]  »  June 17, 2002

One more time....

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 17, 2002

I am trying to get a counter to activate on my site, and it isn't going very well. All this is new to me, and I hope this starts to get going soon.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 17, 2002

Continuing this same rant....

Giants lost yesterday, 2-1. Took baby Michael to first game. She was fairly attentive (for a 9 month old baby girl), focused on the action for an inning or two. I, on the other hand, had to avert my eyes.

Shawon Dunston. Need I say more? How many games do the Giants have to lose by one or two runs before they make some wholesale changes? The Oakland A's lose a bunch of games early, Billy Beane looks at his lineup and says, hmmm.... this doesn't seem likely to change very much. Bam! He makes a couple of moves, and the team responds, reeling off a 16 and 5 stretch to get back into the race.

Is it really possible that Brian Sabean is looking at this team as on the right track? It's not. In an article in today's Chronicle, Jeff Kent is quoted as saying that, although he doesn't care about numbers, he feels other teams are chickenshit for not pitching to Barry. Well, Kent is 5 for 20 with three DP's when Barry is walked intentionally to get at him. Hey Jeff, Barry's OB% is almost .600. You are making 18 outs in twenty at bats. WHY DO THEY EVER PITCH TO HIM??!?!?!

Seriously, I can't keep harping on this same issue, but it's not easy to watch this team lose game after game and not lose my marbles.

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 17, 2002

Last night, watching the Giants game, it occurred to me that the Giants are in bad shape, quite frankly, much worse than last year, when their inability to generate any offense other than Barry and Rich cost them a very real shot at a championship. This team is in much worse shape. Kent never got started due to his irresponsible motorcycling injury, Aurilia is still not up to snuff, bone chips in his elbow and the groin injury essentially set him back into a spring training level of effectiveness in mid-May.

Their bench is anemic, due in large part to the inneffectiveness of many players who either are starters now, or were in the recent past. Besides the obvious, i.e., JT Snow is no longer a major league hitter, Jeff Kent is no longer a clean up hitter, Reggie Sanders and Shinjo are complete zeros at the plate.

It really hurts watching the Giants lose another one run game to a pitcher who hasn't been able to get it together all season long. In the seventh inning, the Giants had a man on, and the pitcher due up, so they pinch hit Marvin Benard (Insert incredulous look on face); who promptly popped up the first pitch he saw, ending the rally. Ninth inning, two outs, first and third, pitcher up again, and this time Dusty gives Shawon Dunston the nod (Insert bending over and groaning, accompanied by shaking head and muttering). First pitch, pop up, game over.

Going back to the earlier innings, you have a first inning that goes like this:

Sanders, first pitch topper, pulls the first basemen off the bag, infiled hit.

Aurilia, first pitch double play.

Bonds, double.

Kent, strikes out.

Sixth inning

Sanders, strikes out.

Aurila, ground out.

Bonds, triple.

Kent fly out.

As a cleanup hitter, Kent has left more men in scoring position than any player in the game, going on two years now. Somebody stop him before he hurts himself.

In the middle innings, Bonds hit into a first and third, nobody out, double play. I turn to my wife and say, "That has to be the first DP I've seen Bonds hit into all year." John Miller follows my comment a second later with, "That's the second DP Bonds has hit into all year." Yeah, I know.... I'm pretty sharp.

Anyway, Brian Sabean, if you're out there. Please make a deal for a hitter or two. I know you got Shinjo and Sanders hoping to finally replace Ellis Burks. They are, without question, horrible hitters. Your lineup is atrocious. You've got to get a leadoff hitter and a cleanup hitter; or you will relegate the second coming of Ruth to another year of watching the playoffs.

John J Perricone

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 15, 2002

I wrote this in October of 2001, and since I thought it was pretty good, I thought I'd run it to see if anybody's listening....

The season’s over, and the race for the 2001 National League Most Valuable Player award boiled down to a choice between Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs and Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants, no disrespect to Luis Gonzalez, whose September swoon effectively eliminated him from consideration. Bonds and Sosa put up eye-popping numbers last year, all the way down to the wire. Defensively, neither of these two players would be considered the best at their position, but both are considered better than average, with perhaps a slight edge going to Sosa for having a better arm, and Bonds being just a little bit faster. In my book, their defensive performances cancel each other out. That leaves offense. And boy, are these two players offensive.

First, a basic look at their stats, who led the league in what, and how it adds up. Bonds’ record breaking year includes leading the league in on-base % (.515), home runs (73), slugging % (.863), and walks (177). He became the first player to reach base more than half of his plate appearances in 44 years, having the highest OBP in the National League since 1900. With the latter three accomplishments, he set new Major League records. Sosa led the league in runs scored (146) and runs batted in (160). Each had a .328 batting average. It is interesting to note that all of their league leading totals also were major league bests.

A closer look at these totals bears interesting results. Bonds created 193 runs (runs + rbi’s –hr’s), Sosa created 242, 49 more than the San Francisco Giant. That is a significant difference and must be investigated further if you are to analyze these two players accurately. Why was Sosa able to produce so many more runs for his team? Sheer quantity. Sammy had 101 more official at-bats than Barry did. Figuring about four at bats per game, that's the equivalent of 20-25 games worth of opportunities to drive in or score runs. Did the two players produce equally? Well, in terms of absolute production, Barry’s numbers do seem a bit low; I mean, come on, 73 home runs should have generated more RBI’s, shouldn’t they? A deeper analysis shows that per at-bat, Barry was a bit more productive than Sammy. Here’s how the two of them look per AB.

Barry Bonds .15 home runs, .27 runs, .28 runs batted in

Sammy Sosa .11 home runs, .25 runs, .27 runs batted in

This means that if Barry had the same number of at bats as Sammy Sosa, he would have had 88 home runs, 156 runs scored, and 165 runs batted in. And we wouldn’t have anything to talk about then, would we?

Well, there are still other factors to consider. When speaking of runs created, remember that run production comes at a cost, and that cost is measured in outs. Over the course of a season, teams pay for the runs they put on the board by spending outs. So, which of the two sluggers was the better shopper? Bonds came to the plate 655 times, and he reached base 333 times, and of course that means he made 322 outs. So, for the 193 runs he generated, he spent 322 outs. Sosa came to the plate 705 times, he reached base safely 305 times, meaning he made 400 outs to create his 242 runs. Translated into a simple cost per run basis, Bonds paid 1.66 outs for each run he created, Sosa paid 1.65 outs for his runs. Once again, the statistics suggest that these two players were remarkably similar. From this we could infer that the overall production advantage Sosa has over Bonds is mitigated by the fact that Bonds was the more selective hitter. Looking at it from a different point of view, Bonds’ teammates had more than 100 more opportunities to produce runs than Sosa’s did, but would you really rather have Matt Stairs swinging the bat 100 more times? (Apparently, having Jeff Kent swing the bat 100 more times isn't the value it once was, but that's another article)

Finally, we can look at how each players teams performed. The Most Valuable Player in the league should be awarded to the player who contributes the most to winning, and usually we look at winning teams to see whom that player was. While both teams were in the race for most of the year, neither made the playoffs. The Cubs fell out of contention before August 1st, while the Giants were in it until the last series of the year. In September, Sosa was punishing teams with little pressure to continue to carry his team, while Bonds was accomplishing the fantastic during the heat of a furious pennant drive; with every at-bat, every game being an important, hotly contested affair. The edge in this analysis goes to Bonds, and perhaps this is where we separate these two superstars. When Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs in 1998, the MVP went to Sammy Sosa and his 66. At the time, the argument for denying Big Mac was that Sammy's Cubs were in a pennant race, making his contribution more valuable. Well, this time, it was Sammy's team that was playing out the string, and Barry continued to produce at an unbelievable rate right up until the game the Giants were eliminated in, in which he hit home runs number 71 and 72.

In 2001, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa gave us two of the greatest offensive performances in baseball history. In any other year, Sammy Sosa would be the runaway winner of the National League MVP. Many sportswriters have argued that Sosa has stood alone for the Cubs this year, and consequently he should win the MVP. They point to the fact that he had 90 more RBI than anyone else on his team. A closer look suggests that one reason that happened to him and not Bonds was because Bonds generated fewer outs, creating more opportunities for his teammates. Bonds walked 61 more times than Sammy Sosa, and he made 80 less outs. In 476 at bats, he crafted a season for the ages, hitting 73 home runs (including a major league record 36 on the road), and shattering Babe Ruth's single season slugging percentage record with a stupendous .863 % (What he did to the National League record requires an abacus, he beat the old mark by more than100 points). He became the first player since 1957 to reach base more than 50% of the time, having the highest on-base percentage in the National League since 1900. Sosa’s season was only slightly less spectacular. He became only the third player in baseball history to hit more than 50 home runs and drive in more than 150 in the same season. He became the first player to hit 60 or more home runs three different times, and clearly is one of the most feared sluggers of all-time.

So, where does that leave us? After crunching and munching all of the statistics, records and percentages, what remains? For me, the single, most indelible impression of the season was Barry Bonds being walked. In Houston, in the second to last weekend of the year, manager Larry Dierker approached Bonds in an exaggerated reflection of every team in the NL. Here was the league’s best team, striving to secure a place in the post-season, and the decision was made that any player on the Giants would be given the chance to beat them but one. Barry Bonds. By the time we reached the All-Star break, Barry Bonds was considered by every manager in the National League to be virtually un-pitchable to. Competing head-to-head in the same division, Houston played Chicago 17 times this season. Sosa was walked 6 times, and he tortured them to the tune of 11 home runs, with 20 RBI’s. In six games against the Giants, the Astros walked Bonds 12 times, and hit him once, choosing to pitch to him only 15 times. Why is that? If Sosa was the MVP, why didn’t Houston pitch around him? Because, unlike Bonds, Sosa could be pitched to, he could be gotten out. He made 80 more outs this year than Barry did. National League managers simply would not pitch to Barry Bonds unless they absolutely had no choice, because when they did, he punished them. In the greatest offensive season in history, Barry Bonds saw far fewer pitches than any slugger in baseball history. He hit a home run approximately every twelve times he swung the bat, every 6 and a half times he came to the plate. He was the fastest ever to 30, 40, 50, 60 and 70 home runs. He did it all year long, at home and on the road, and he did it while the Giants were in a wire-to-wire pennant race. Barry Bonds was the clear and correct choice for the 2001 National League MVP.

John J Perricone

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 14, 2002

I will do a follow up to the first post, focusing on Jeff Kent and JT Snow on Monday.

In the meantime, it bears noting that at 2:21 pm PT, Tiger Woods is currently stomping the field at Bethpage. Anyone else realize that Tiger is essentially a video game come to life? Amazing.

John J Perricone

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 14, 2002

Apologies to anyone reading this, this is my very first..... And it's a little old. I'll do an update later.

Here is a list of pitchers who shut the Giants down in May.

Date Team/Pitcher Innings Hits Runs

May 1 Phil/Adams 6 3 0

May 4 Cin/Haynes 5 5 2

May 10 Mont/Vasquez 8 6 2

May 11 Mont/Okha 7 4 1

May 12 Mont/Armas 7 5 2

May 14 Atl/Moss 7 2 2

May 15 Atl/Maddux 8 5 1

May 19 Fla/Beckett 7 1 1

May 28 Az/Batista 9 1 0

May 30 Az/Helling 8 4 0

That's 10 starts where the starters pitched 72 innings, allowed 31 hits and 11 runs. That means, against this lineup of of nobodys, never-beens, and has-beens, the Giants offense allowed the starter to go 7.2 innings of 3 hit, one-run ball against them TEN TIMES IN ONE MONTH!

Maddux, in the start before this one, gave up ten runs in four innings, Helling's last start was a seven runs in 5 innings disaster. Only one of these ten pitchers is leading the league or even in the top five in any category, Moss is fifth in ERA.

When is someone going to start asking Dusty and Brian just what the hell they intend to do about it. Over the last 30 days the Giants offense is DEAD LAST in the National League, meaning it is dead last in all of baseball. This, while Barry Bonds is posting a .565 obp and a .900 slg. Do you have any idea what that means? That means the Giants are even worse than their stats.

I heard the Brian Sabean show yesterday, and he said that he intends to show patience and trust that his hitters are going to start hitting. You know what Ray, that's the single stupidest thing I have ever heard Brian say. Youve got Marvin Benard taking swings in the last of the 8th in a one run game, and you're telling me that I am supposed to trust that he's gonna come around? Shawon Dunston has a spot on our bench? Damon Minor? Reggie Sanders? Sanders' lifetime BA is 263, last year he was about 30% more productive than ANY YEAR OF HIS LIFE.

How about Jeff Kent? Here's a few interesting tidbits about Jeff Kent. At the All-Star break of 2000, he was batting .335, with 85 RBI's, in about 80 games, just shy of an RBI per game. at that point in his career, he was on his way to 4 straight .300 BA 25+ HR 100+ RBI seasons, and he looked like a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. In over 250 games since then, he's batting .250, with less than 165 RBI's, which is a massive drop-off. And of course, that drop-off coincided with him coming to the plate with Barry on base at the highest rate of his, or anyone's career, which means that while his opportunities were skyrocketing, his production was plummeting. That he is still batting cleanup boggles the mind. He has been batting around .200 with runners on for over 250 games!!!!!!!! Which also suggests that Barry's stupendous production may, in fact, be masking the end of Jeff Kent's career.

Which is more than you could say about JT Snow. There is nothing masking the fact that he is one of the most unproductive major leaguers drawing a salary. He is an out maker, simple as that, and he gives nothing back for all of the outs he eats. Don't talk to me about how many games he saves with his glove, that's pure hyperbole. Bill James and a whole slew of baseball analysts have done reams of research into run prevention, and if JT is worth five runs a year, its a lot.

So, where does that leave us. JT makes 6 million dollars a year, Beard makes 4.2, Kent makes 6. Those three guys need to be about double their current productivity to even begin to make their cost, and I just don't see it. It's time for drastic action. Bonds' current level of productivity has to taken advantage of. I propose packaging Kent (and if your lucky, Benard) with one of the young pitchers, say Jensen or Ainsworth to get someone who is a banger. Cliff Floyd, Vladimir Guerrero, I don't know, maybe even Scott Rolen would be available for the right package.

There has got to be someone out there willing to take some of the dead weight from our roster and replace it with some life. Here's another unasked question. How come Sabean didn't figure out a way for Gallarraga to come back this year? I'll tell you this, when they started playing JT Snow over Andre last September, they cost themselves the playoffs. Anyone could see that Andre had completely changed their lineup, I mean, come on, the guy was hitting GAME WINNING HOME RUNS! And JT was doing NOTHING to deserve sitting Andre down. Loyalty is one thing, but isn't Dusty's larger loyalty to the Giants organization, and by extension, to the fans, to put the team with the best chance of winning on the field? Marvin Benard was given the chance to flush the first quarter of the season down the drain, with Barry and Aurilia pounding bases empty home runs for the first half while the team could have been putting some distance between them and the D'backs, and then JT killing all of the teams momentum by taking at-bats from Gallarraga. When is someone going to be taken to task for these ridiculous decisions? Didn't anyone else in San Francisco notice? Am I alone?

Well, sorry about the ranting and raving. I just feel so frustrated by the sense that the Giants are mnissing a golden opportunity. Barry is in the zone like no one in history, and we have nothing to show for it. Could you imagine the difficulties of playing the Giants in the playoffs with Bonds hitting like this?

Comment on this   [0]  »  June 14, 2002

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