Baseball history, analysis, and commentary from John J Perricone; born in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Oh, and Barry Bonds. Lots of Barry Bonds.

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Only Baseball Matters

First visit? Drop me an email @ John J Perricone, or pin my Guest Map.

.... Keep it continuous

The Giants beat the Rockies 6-4 last night, behind the stellar pitching of Sidney Ponson. They are 3-1 without Barry Bonds during his latest bereavement leave, and the momentum they built up with his dramatic return has yet to dissipate.

With a 13 game lead (In the loss column, the only thing that matters, since you can't take losses back, right?), and only 31 games remaining (They would play the blackout cancelled game against the Mets only if it had some bearing on the playoffs), their Magic Number would be..... 18. Any combination of Giants wins and D'backs losses that add up to 18 and the Giants clinch at least a tie for the NL West. 19 and it's all theirs.

All that means is that at this point, the postseason is just this shy of a certainty. They trail the Braves by 4 in the loss column for homefield throught the NL playoffs, but would face the same 2-3-2 format if they were to return to the World Series.

With that in mind, the recent stumbles by the bullpen are worrisome. In the postseason, your bullpen will win it or lose it for you most nights, (Need I mention Game Six?). Alou and Righetti need to get these guys straightened out asap. Actually, they've got 31 games to work with.

Comment on this   [0]  »  August 28, 2003


.... Did you miss me?

Sorry for the disappearing act, I had no ability to get online at all over the last week.

Getting up to speed, I would like to extend my thoughts and prayers to the Bonds family.

The Giants won tonight, extending their division lead back up to 11 games, so with 32 games to play, they are in excellent position to go wire to wire.

On a NY Yankees note, I was able to catch tonight's 13-2blowout loss to the raging White Sox. First, the Sox are for real. They absolutely hammered Clemens. They look like a formidable first round opponent for the Yanks.

But I'll tell you, watching Clemens, I couldn't help notice how he handled getting hammered (Most runs [9] and home runs [4] allowed in a game he went less than five innings in his career). In fact, I'd say his behavior made me think that there is no way he's coming back next year, although I know that my brother and my Dad will be bummed. But he just didn't seem to be as upset as I thought he should.

I'm not saying he bagged it, I'm just saying the he seemed to be acting like it mattered, just not too much. Just my two cents...

Comment on this   [0]  »  August 27, 2003


.... Oh My God!!!

Superman did it again tonight, with another bottom of the tenth, game-winning home run, sweeping the Braves and generating some serious momentum.

I have very little to say about it, because I really find it to be beyond words.

Comment on this   [6]  »  August 22, 2003


.... Don't tug on Superman's cape

Bonds did it again, finishing off the Braves 5-4, with his 8th career walk-off home run. For the Giants, he provided the team with a much needed win, and maybe an even more important emotional lift, as they were lethargic without him on their (lost) East Coast road trip.

The win also deprived Russ Ortiz of his 18th win, and perhaps derailed his Cy Young efforts, at least for one game.

Comment on this   [2]  »  August 20, 2003


.... Friends and well-wishers

Finally, I have been able to access and alter, amend, update and modify my site. Peruse the links on the left, and you will see many new additions, some overdue, but I have attempted to make up for the delay by showcasing them in a new area called, Up & Coming. Many of you who have requested link exchanges are there, some are in other areas, (where they belong, like King Kaufman can be found in my Smart Guys, stuff like that).

Thanks to all who've been patient, thanks to all who've continued to support OBM, (for instance, our good friend Aaron Gleeman). And don't forget to pin yourself on my Guestmap.

Oh, and tell me if you like the new font in my backtalk section.

Comment on this   [0]  »  August 19, 2003


.... Home sweet home

The Giants made some history yesterday as they were swept by the Expos, losing 4-0. Not only did they finish this road trip 0-6, but according to the Elias Sports Bureau, they failed to win a single game against an opponent in a season for the first time in their 121-year history.

With a lineup featuring less than half of their starters, the Giants are ready to get home, get healthy, and start winning again. Felix Rodriguez and Rich Aurilia are due back, as is Bonds, although exactly when hasn't been announced yet.

As for Sabean picking up a bat, well, we'll see.

Comment on this   [0]  »  August 19, 2003


.... Prospectus says?

The boys at Baseball Prospectus have chimed in on the latest round of whining about the Russ Ortiz for Damian Moss deal that you've been reading about here at OBM and from other writers. Let's get something clear; my complaints are less about the trade working and more about the decision made by Sabean and the rest of the Giants brass to retain Rueter over Ortiz.

Here's what I had to say about the situation in February:

.... I look at this Rueter extension, and I see a choice made by the Giants brass. They chose Rueter over Ortiz, and frankly, they did so in the face of what appears to me to be overwhelming evidence that they should have gone the other way. I'm not saying Woody isn't a terrific player to have on your team. I'm just saying that I would take Ortiz over him, not by a ton, but it wouldn't be too hard to pick the younger, bigger, stronger guy; who gives me more innings, strikes out more hitters, gives up fewer home runs, and who won as many or more games each of the last four seasons.
Anyone think the short-term returns suggest I was wrong? Didn't think so.

Again, it's not that Rueter's bad, it's just that it seemed strange to me to make the investment in a marginally effective guy, when you could have focused your attention on a guy who has room to get better. And that's what you're really talking about here. Rueter is barely able to pitch effectively at the major league level. If he has a tight strike zone, or if he is a little off with his control, or if it's raining, or if he's feeling too tired, or too amped, or whatever.... He gets annihilated. He doesn't just struggle, he gets blasted. He simply cannot pitch effectively if everything's not going well for him.

Ortiz, on the other hand, has a plus fastball, has established himself as a winner at the big-league level, and has room to grow and learn to hone his craft and become better. How much better can Rueter get? Is he ever gonna win 20 games? Is he ever gonna be a seven or eight ining guy that is a stopper for a team? Is Ortiz? Which pitcher is a better bet to evolve into that role?

Sure, it's easy to say it was a bad trade now, Ortiz has 17 wins, Rueter's on the DL, and Moss is gone. For the record, I said it was a bad deal when it was announced.

Comment on this   [5]  »  August 18, 2003


.... More on Stark

David Pinto adds his two cents on the Stark piece. His feelings are certainly realistic:

"My guess is that we won't see it coming; Bonds won't slowly fade like Aaron and Ruth did. We'll see him lace a ball into the corner for a sure double, scream with excitement as he rounds first, turn our head to see if the outfielder has the ball, then look back to see Barry limping into 2nd base. And like that, the quest will be over. The bill for his glory will have come due."
Now, that's some great writing. Leave it to David to have such a solid and well-thought out take on the issue.

Comment on this   [0]  »  August 18, 2003


.... Ranting and raving

I was gonna do a rip job on Jayson Stark for his poorly written piece on the chances Barry Bonds has of catching Hank Aaron for the all-time home run title. Thank goodness Mike's already done it for me.

Not to be redundant, but Bonds is now and has been doing things no one's ever done before. Obviously comparing him to other players is useless. He's the only player to hit his 500th home run one season and his 600th the next. He's the fastest from 600 to 650. He has obliterated virtually every important single season record there is the last three seasons, (Slugging %, On-base %, Home Runs, Walks, Intentional Walks, OPS, OPS above league average). This, all after his 36th birthday.

Of course the odds are against him. The odds have been against him for three historic seasons in a row now. Sometimes I feel Stark is just writing for the sake of writing.

Comment on this   [0]  »  August 18, 2003


.... Are you kidding me?

Unbelievably, the Giants lost again, when Brad Wilkerson hit a grand slam (Two outs, bottom of the ninth!?!) to lead the Expos to a stunning 4-2 win. Sidney Ponson pitched into the ninth, and after he loaded the bases by allowing just the third hit of the night, coupled with a pair of walks, Tim Worrell gave up the salami. Ponson falls to 0-3 as a Giant, although he pitched an amazing game today.

The Giants as a team left 11 men on base, and were an anemic 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. Tomorrow, the Expos go for the four game sweep, as the Giants try to avoid a staggering 0-6 road trip.

Arizon won their game today, bringing them to just 8.5 games out, the closest anyone's been since before the All Star break. Prior to these last two road trips, many writers were intimating that the Giants seemed to be winning with smoke and mirrors. The Pythagorean Standings posted on Rob Neyer's page showed them to be five or six games better than their runs scored and allowed would indicate. That seems to have self-corrected, hasn't it?

Comment on this   [1]  »  August 17, 2003


.... I am an....

Idiot!!!!

I somehow deleted that long post by Jim Adams. Doh!

Comment on this   [0]  »  August 15, 2003


.... He who laughs last

The Giants lost again, this time to the National League's Pitcher of the Month for July, ex-Giant and OBM bulls eye, Livan Hernandez; who threw his league-leading 6th complete game for the Expos in stopping the G-men 4-1.

Livan retired the last 22 Giants, struck out 9, and won his 13th game of the season; which incidentally is more than any Giants pitcher. (Russ Ortiz, another ex-Giant, is also leading the NL in something, wins. With his stellar 17-5 record, Russ is well on his way to the NL Cy Young award, which would be just fabulous, don't you think?) Between the two of them, Brian --I am not an idiot-- Sabean looks, well, he looks like an idiot. Replacing two of your main starters from a pennant winning ballclub is always fraught with the risk of looking bad, so I'm sure Sabean would say that the revival of Fatso could hardly have been expected, but Ortiz?

That was a bad one, and more than likely will go down as the first truly bad pitching trade of Sabean's tenure.

As for the Giants, it wasn't that long ago they were the hottest team in baseball, and had the NL's best road record, as well as the best record overall. To say that they are staggering is an understatement, as the only thing allowing them to maintain their large division lead is the poor play of their main rivals, the Dodgers and D'Backs. They are in desperate need of some top-notch veteran pitching (particularly from Schmidt and Ponson), over these next couple of weeks, because the yound guys are having a hard time keeping them in the game lately.

Comment on this   [2]  »  August 15, 2003


.... Seligula strikes again

I have a simple question: How the hell does Comerica Park get the All Star Game before PacBell? Really, how the hell does that happen?

The Giants, who play in one of the three or four world renowned cities of civilization --I got a lot of crap about this sentence from my brother's girlfriend Ann Marie. I'm leaving it in, but I'll acknowledge that it is a bit much-- , with arguably the best player of all-time (Certainly he's at least the best of his generation), with one of the best teams in the game for the last several years, with one of the most widely-recognizable and distinctive ballparks in the world (Not to mention, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PARK IN THE GAME); that team is once again snubbed by the worst commissioner in sports history again, and I ask, why?

What reason could Seligula have to snub San Francisco again? First he says new parks get consideration, then he has the game in Boston and he says history and tradition matters. Now he says new parks get the nod.

HEY SELIG!!!! SAN FRANCISCO HAS BOTH!!!!

Comerica has neither. It is an eyesore of a ballpark, occupied by one of the worst teams in baseball history, (and not just this season either, the Tigers have been at the bottom of the league for most of the last twenty years), a team that features not one noteworthy player, (Other than their manager, Allan Trammell).

The real reason (which, because he's a liar, he would never acknowledge), is that he won't, he simply can't ever allow the success of PacBell as an owner-financed new ballpark to be recognized or showcased in any way; because it makes his argument about competitive imbalance look like the complete bullshit that it is.

Selig is quite frankly, a singular disgrace in just about everything he does, in this writers opinion. His snub of San Francisco is just one more failure, one more misstep that causes me to wonder how some of the wealthiest men in the world would allow such a bumbling used car salesman to be the captain of one of the most lucrative multi-national organizations in the world.

Comment on this   [5]  »  August 14, 2003


.... A Rose by any other name

I am currently in NY visiting family, and I was just flipping through the channels; and lo and behold, who should I come upon but one of OBM's favorite writers and supporters, Mr. Derek Zumsteg, who is, of course, one of the main men over at Baseball Prospectus.

Derek was being interviewed on MSNBC's Abrams Report show, in which he was asked to respond to BP's recent story purporting that Pete Rose has signed an agreement with Major League Baseball that will result in his re-instatement after the end of this season's World Series.

First of all, Derek is a hunk. Really, he is a good looking guy, and he looked great on the boob tube. Second, it must have been amazingly frustrating sitting there being interviewed by a bunch of morons who haven't read the Dowd Report, know almost nothing about Pete Rose or Baseball Prospectus or baseball for that matter, and who were essentially ranting and raving about what should or shouldn't happen to Rose irregardless. I have posted about twenty long pieces (Here's just one) in which I have taken the position that Rose was railroaded, that the Dowd Report is flawed; and that baseball needs to do a better job of proving their case before they ban the all-time hits leader. 'nuff said.

The story has legs, as they say, and BP and Derek deserve the publicity. Rose deserves to be back in the game. MSNBC has little or no ability to do the story justice, but it was cool to see someone I know and have a relationship with (albeit a passing relationship) on TV. Congrats to Derek and the rest of the guys at BP. I am sure their story will prove accurate.

Comment on this   [0]  »  August 13, 2003


.... Bad impression?

Rob Neyer interviews Brian Sabean on ESPN today, and once again I get the feeling Sabean is more lucky than good. Listen, I have as much respect and admiration for the Giants GM as anyone, it's just that when he talks about how he and his staff build the Giants, I don't see a plan that I can get behind.

Talking about veteran players, clutch abilities, baseball smarts, crap like that, well, I just don't see how that can pan out long-term. In fact, one could make the argument that Sabean has been as succesfull as he has due to the superhuman efforts of one Barry Bonds; and more importantly, once Bonds is no longer here, Sabean will find himself in the same boat as everyone else.

A team that throws money at players like JT Snow, Neifi Perez, Shawon Dunston, just to mention a couple, could hardly be expected to perform at a high level if it didn't have the production of the greatest player of his generation, could it? Imagine how many RBI's Pujols would have right now if he had Alfonzo (.321 OBP), Aurilia (.319), Perez (.287), or even Grissom (.329) batting in front of him. {As opposed to hitters like Edmonds (.388), Rolen (.391), Renteria (.383), or even JD Drew (.349)}

Bonds hides the weakness of the Giants everyday lineup, PacBell hides the weakness of the Giants pitching staff; the combination makes Sabean look the genius. But Neyer has it right when he says that any GM who doesn't read Moneyball isn't doing his job. Understanding how Beane and his team come to their decisions, the areas of offense and pitching that they focus on; well, I'd guess you'd have to say that that's pretty important since they are at the cutting edge in scouting and drafting and coaching winning baseball. The way in which they reach their conclusions is why the A's are not only successful now, but are poised to continue that success for the long haul.

To suggest that Sabean and the Giants are doing something similar is absurd. To suggest that the Giants are coaching their hitters in the minors (or at the major-league level, for that matter) to take a lot of pitches, work the count, get on base; come on. No Giant hitter other than Bonds demonstrates more than a cursory understanding of the strike zone. Actually, Bonds may be hindering any Giant player from thinking about such an approach. He's so good, so dominant, that it may appear fruitless to even consider mimicking any of the ways he approaches his craft.

Of course, Sabean may be able to win with his approach over the long haul. I'm not convinced. It'll be interesting to see how he does when he no longer has the services of the second coming of Babe Ruth to make him look good.

Comment on this   [0]  »  August 11, 2003


... Just a little something

Internet access is pretty bad right now, but I thought I'd mention how amazing it is to see Jeffrey Hammonds hitting a home run for the Giants in today's 7-5 win over the Pirates. Hammonds came to the Giants after essentially playing his way out the majors (.158 in ten games with the Brewers, who released him).

Anytime you get released by Seligula's laughingstock of a team and then get picked up by the team with the largest division lead in baseball, well, it's time to go buy a lottery ticket. If you do all that and contribute, I'd say both you and your new team might start to realize that there may be some magic in the air.

Comment on this   [3]  »  August 7, 2003


.... Odds and ends

I just wanted to post a reminder to all of you who may be accessing this site through www.onlybaseballmatters.com. If you do so, you may notice a banner ad at the bottom of the page, blocking some of my priceless banter. If you add the http//: you will find that you arrive here without it, and it is nicer to see everything.

For those of you anxiously awaiting being added to my links section, patience. Apparently, some of the good of MT is accompanied by some complication, and I currently have no high speed internet acces AT ALL. (That's right, I've gone back in time and am online right now using a 24K modem)

My generous host Jay and I are working hard to get all this straightened out, so don't worry, be happy.

Comment on this   [2]  »  August 5, 2003


.... Lost trip

The Giants have now lost four of five on their current road trip, which ends tonight on ESPN. They will start another Triple A call-up, Dustin Hermanson, who is just an arm, no more, no less.

Bonds hit his 647th home run, as the team's inability to get a hit with men on base continued to hurt. They hit three solo home runs, and with all the talk about what a great move it was to get Ponson (it was), Cruz, Aurilia and Alfonzo continue to create a dilemma for Alou's lineup configurations.

Simply, those three are hitting just a bit better than Neifi Perez, (ouch!), leaving Alou with four empty lineup slots to deal with. Regardless of the great production the Giants are getting from their backups, (Galarraga and Feliz have been stellar), with Snow in the lineup, they have a lot of out-makers there.

Perhaps a bat wouldn't have hurt, but then again, who're you gonna' sit?

Right now, Aurilia is the fifth-most productive shortstop in the NL, having created about 45 runs, with a .718 OPS. Alfonzo ranks 11th among third basemen, having created about 40 runs, with an anemic .679 OPS, which is actually much worse than it sounds. He's already responsible for close to 300 outs, so his production to cost ratio is abysmal (so's Richie's, actually). Cruz is fairly productive, it's just that he can't hit the breaking ball, so unless the opposition forgets that and throws him fastballs, he can't get a hit. Hence, he will have 50 to 75 at bats in a row where he racks out a .100 BA.

It's funny listening to Krukow or Miller too, Cruz is always either in a slump or just getting out of a slump, they never seem to mention this problem. Not for nothing, but there's no mystery to why Toronto gave up on him. Just watch him, watch him bat. He has no ability whatsoever to hit a breaking ball of any kind. He can't lay off, and he can't hit it. Whenever I see him get a big hit, or really any hit, it's always a fastball. If I was playing against the Giants and one of my pitchers threw him anything but junk, I'd punch him in the mouth.

By the way, my internet access was down when it happened, but my two cents on the Sidney Ponson deal is this: Great move. Oh, and don't forget, it was predicted by the famous Professor Jim Adams here first. I believe Professor Adams' exact words were something like this:

BY AUGUST 1, THE GIANTS WILL HAVE TRADED KURT AINSWORTH OR JESSE FOPPERT FOR A VETERAN STARTING PITCHER.

Yeah, that was it.

Anyway, Ponson reminds me of another out of shape pitcher, Livan Hernandez. Actually, I'd say he's a lot like Livan, groundball pitcher, team wants him to drop a few pounds, if he keeps the ball down he's terrific.... The only significant difference is that Ponson's looking for 10 million per in his new deal, so this trade just might be a rent a pitcher for a ring type of deal, and if it works, great. If he's gone after this season and the Giants watch the World Series on TV, well, then you've essentially traded Russ and Kurt for nothing. That's two young pitchers for nada, not the way to handle your franchise.

Comment on this   [2]  »  August 3, 2003


.... Brand-Spankin' New

Well, I have finally hit the big time. Thanks to two of my readers, Jay and Brian, I have finally left Blogger, and am now a Movable Type kind of guy. Huzzah! For all of you arriving here from my old address, you can ignore the strange adress that shows up in your browser, and just use:

www.onlybaseballmatters.com

That is my new adress, and you will arrive here posthaste, even though your browser may look different when you arrive.

Brian has his own site, Tiger Blog, which I must insist you visit. These two gentlemen, particularly Jay, have been generous and supportive to a degree that actually causes me to mist up, **sniff**, and I am forever in their debt.

Meanwhile, baseball has been going nuts while I was unable to get anything done, so stay tuned as I have much to say about all the doings of MLB and especially the Giants.

Comment on this   [0]  »  August 2, 2003


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