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Archive for April, 2004


…. You’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’

On the heels of yesterday’s 4-3 loss to the young-stud Florida Marlins, the Giants find themselves facing something that’s been pretty rare in SF these last couple of seasons; a clubhouse cancer controversy. Reader Bryan Davis, sent me this Oakland Tribune article that details an apparently serious rift between AJ Pierzynski and his pitching staff:

…. several pitchers …. questioned Pierzynski’s work ethic. The latest incident occurred before Wednesday’s game, when two players confirmed Pierzynski ignored starting pitcher Brett Tomko’s request to go over opposing hitters. Instead, the players said, Pierzynski resumed playing cards for another 20 minutes. “I’ve never in all my years seen a catcher who didn’t watch video before games,” one pitcher said. “He doesn’t watch hitters — other than the Twins games when they’re on TV.”

Another disturbing story made its way through the clubhouse last week. According to two Giants players, the Padres’ Phil Nevin said Pierzynski was criticizing Giants pitchers while Nevin was at the plate.

Well, I could see Pierzynski crticizing Giants’ hitters…. No, seriously, this is either a real problem, or commonplace among poor, struggling teams. I’d tend to think it’s the latter. Next, we’ll start hearing about how much it bothers Michael Tucker that Bonds has his own recliner.

In the article, Sabean says AJ’s fine, no one wants a trade, blah blah blah. Hey guys, it’s Brian Sabean who needs to be the focus of any article about these last place Giants. His track record as an executive is starting to look a little shaky.

The Giants’ rosters of the last several years are littered with overpaid ‘veterans’, players who could be replaced by minor leaguers for the minimum who have been draining the resources of the team. While these has-beens make one critical out after another; as they Keystone Kop their way into Giants infamy; Sabean keeps repeating the tired refrain of how valuable ‘veterans’ are.

Veterans are not inherently valuable. Players who make plays are inherently valuable. Veterans are, however, the safe play for a GM with a minor league system that is essentially bankrupt. Having a player like, say, Michael Tucker as a fourth or fifth outfielder is a terrific idea, if you can get him for less than $1 million per. Neifi Perez is a top-notch utility infielder, someone who can spell three infield positions and not look like a ticket-buying stiff. Playing these guys everyday is an admission of failure by the management of the team.

Listen, the Giants payroll is $82 million, which means that Sabean has something like $65 million dollars to put a team together around Bonds. By that measure, ’04 is now, and will almost certainly play out, as a dismal failure. Last season, the Giants got lucky. The Dodgers were a laughingstock, the D’backs were swamped with injuries, and the Padres were the Padres.

And even with that in mind, Sabean didn’t bother to just try and stand pat, see if he could luck out again. No, he downgraded. Jose Cruz, young, fast, damn good outfielder, medium bat, gone. Replacing Cruz with Tucker, Mohr and Hammonds is absurd. Absurd. The Giants will be lucky if they get 25 home runs from all three combined, not to mention Gold Glove caliber defense and speed they decided they could live without.

How can Sabean not be able to put together a team on a $65 million dollar budget? The Giants are no longer saddled by the JT Snow debacle. Marvin Benard’s disastrous deal has ended. Even the Robb Nen contract shouldn’t be an issue, as I’ve read from enough different sources that it’s covered by insurance. So, where’s all the money going?

The minor league minimum is less than $500,000, right? (I think it’s $375,000, but I can’t find it right now). Fine. Perez ($2.25 million, OUCH), Tucker, Hammonds and Snow, all make more than that, a good deal more. That’s four players who cost the team almost $7 million who could be replaced by four guys who’d cost the team, say, $1.5, maybe $2 million total. I’ve already written about Kirk Rueter’s terrible contract extension, ($6.1 million), [by the way, Ortiz's deal is $6.2 million, ouch!] Alfonzo’s making $6.5 million…. I mean, jeez, these deals are horrible.

Pedro Feliz is making $875,000, Alfonzo almost ten times that. Is Alfonzo producing anything resembling ten times what Feliz is? Even at $1.5 million, JT Snow is a liability, has been almost from the day he signed that $24 million dollar extension. Travis Lee is making $2 million for the Yankees. He’s 31 years old. His last three seasons numbers, .266/.340/.429, with 52 home runs; compare quite favorably with the last three seasons of JT Snow, .255/.365/.384, with with 22 home runs. How come Brian Cashman was able to get him to be the Yanks third string first baseman, and the Giants couldn’t get him to come play everyday with Barry Bonds?! FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, ERIC KARROS IS MAKING ONLY $750,000. He’s a better hitter than Snow.

The Giants are saddled with the worst collection of contracts this side of Yankee Stadium. They have no depth whatsoever. Their pitching staff is almost exactly like their offense, one big-time player (Schmidt), surrounded by mediocrity. Neifi Perez is gonna get 400 at bats this year. Bonds is gonna get walked 200 times, and will watch one more of the last seasons of his career get wasted.

This is Brian Sabean’s team. He built it. He negotiates these horrible contracts. He decides who to sign, who to trade, who to draft.



…. Skip to my Lou my darling

Skip Bayless has a column on the BALCO situation. In it, he wrote the following about Barry Bonds, “For his first 14 seasons, he hit .288 and averaged 32 home runs. In the past four full seasons, he hit .334 and averaged 53 home runs.”

That is flat out misleading. 1995 must be the cut-off point for any discussion about Bonds, home runs, offense, whatever. Prior to 1995, baseball was a whole different ballgame. If you want to put Bonds career into proper context, then 1995 is be the dividing line for analysis. There's no way for Skip's readers (or anyone, for that matter) to not conclude that Bonds must be doing something different, if not outright cheating, when you talk about his accomplishments like that.

Put into context, you see that Bonds has been among the league leaders in offense for virtually his entire career. As for his home run surge; starting in 1988, when he was 22 years old, he's finished in the Top 9 in home runs every year but two, '89 and '99. Starting in 1996, home runs, batting average, slugging, runs scored; virtually all of offensive categories are at historic highs. Barry Bonds' supposed late-career power surge coincides exactly with the league.

As he entered into his thirties, the entire league was entering into a huge upswing in offense. He's led the NL in home runs twice, once with 46 (1993), once with 73 (2001). Almost exactly at the mid-point of his career, the league baseline for offense surged some 30%. You can look it up. Here's the league and Barry from 1988, his first full season:

2003 NL 2708 HR .262/.327/.417 ATL 235 (Barry 45) % of top team 19%
2002 NL 2595 HR .259/.327/.410 Cubs 200 (Barry 46) % of top team 23%
2001 NL 2952 HR .261/.327/.425 COL 213 (Barry 73) % of top team 34%
2000 NL 3005 HR .266/.338/.432 HOU 249 (Barry 49) % of top team 19%
1999 NL 2893 HR .268/.340/.429 COL 223 (Barry 34) % of top team 15%
1998 NL 2565 HR .262/.328/.410 STL 223 (Barry 37) % of top team 16%
1997 NL 2163 HR .263/.339/.410 COL 239 (Barry 40) % of top team 16%
1996 NL 2220 HR .262/.327/.408 COL 221 (Barry 42) % of top team 19%
———————————————————-
1995 NL 1917 HR .263/.328/.408 COL 200 (Barry 33) % of top team 17%
1993 NL 1956 HR .264/.325/.399 ATL 169 (Barry 46) % of top team 27%
1992 NL 1262 HR .252/.314/.368 Pads 135 (Barry 34) % of top team 25%
1991 NL 1430 HR .250/.316/.373 Reds 164 (Barry 25) % of top team 15%
1990 NL 1521 HR .256/.321/.383 Mets 172 (Barry 33) % of top team 19%
1989 NL 1365 HR .246/.312/.365 Mets 147 (Barry 19) % of top team 13%
1988 NL 1279 HR .248/.309/.363 Mets 152 (Barry 24) % of top team 19%
1987 NL 1824 HR .261/.327/.404 Cubs 209 (Barry 25) % of top team 12%

In 1994 Barry turned 30 years old during the strike shortened season (which I excluded). Broke into two blocks, we can view his career from the 8 full seasons before the 2000 home run barrier was broken, and the 8 full seasons after the 2000 home run barrier was broken. Thus, Skip's sentence would read something like this, “In his eight full seasons prior to 1996, Bonds averaged 30 home runs a year. In the eight full seasons after 1996, Bonds averaged 45 home runs a year.”

And yes, I know there are more teams. That's why I also compared Bonds to the league leading team. You could also just compare him to the individual league leaders. His standing as one of the best players in the league is static throughout his career. He's been in the Top 6 in OPS every year but '89 and '99, having led the league in 1990, 91, 92 and 93, (back when everyone says he was obviously not on the juice

), and also 2001, 2002, and 2003. He's finished in the Top 10 in runs scored every year of his career except for '99, he was injured that season. He's been in the Top 5 in OBP 14 times in 16 seasons, having led the league 7 times. He's been in the Top 7 in SLG 14 times as well, league leader 6 times. Twelve times he's been in the Top 10 in total bases. 13 times he's led the league in times on base. 14 times in extra base hits. 8 times he's led the league in adjusted OPS, he's the active leader at 179, and third all-time.

Look at the numbers prior to 1996, In 1993, when Barry hit 46 home runs, the Braves led the league with just 169, meaning Bonds hit 27% as many home runs as the best team in the league. In 2001, when Bonds' 73 was 34% as many as the Rockies 213 total, 6 teams hit over 200 home runs in the NL alone! In his first full eight seasons, only two teams total hit 200 home runs. During that span, Bonds hit 19% as many home runs as the top team in the league four times. In his second eight, he did it five times.

If you looked at any of Bonds' contemporaries, Bagwell, Sosa, McGwire, Palmeiro, Thome, Sheffield, any of the big-time players whose careers land on both sides of the offensive explosion, you'll find similar trends. In fact, any player whose career straddles 1995 will show this effect. Look, here's Rafael Palmeiro, whose first full season was 1988:

1988 8 home runs
1989 8 home runs
1990 14 home runs
1991 26 home runs
1992 22 home runs
1993 37 home runs
1995 39 home runs

1996 39 home runs
1997 38 home runs
1998 43 home runs
1999 47 home runs
2000 39 home runs
2001 47 home runs
2002 43 home runs
2003 38 home runs

In his first seven full seasons, Palmeiro averaged 22 home runs per season. In his second eight full seasons, (after 1995), he averaged 42 home runs per season. Palmeiro turned 30 in 1996, meaning he has hit 334 of his 528 home runs after the season in which he turned 30. Bonds has hit 366 of his home runs after the season in which he turned 30 years old. Why is Bonds' career path so unusual, so distorted; while Palmeiro's isn't? Because of 73? Come on.

Batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, OPS, total hits, home runs…. offense as a whole exploded just after Bonds 30th birthday. Bonds also began his serious weight training not long after his 30th birthday as well. Could it be that the combination of the two is the real explanation for his power surge? Isn't it at least possible?

I'll tell you what, Bonds didn't change, the game conditions changed. If more sportswriters took the time to write about what is really happening, as opposed to doing the same thing the casual observer does; there would be far less speculation.

Update:Some people have suggested I clean up the table a little, so I did. I have also been asked if I am suggesting that what Bonds is doing isn't as special as it seems, or even as special as I have said many times. No, I am not suggesting that.

I just want to illuminate the discussion. The drum beat that Bonds alone is somehow defying physics is part of the reason so many people are willing to accept that because Dan Patrick believes he is using steroids, it must be true. But it isn't Bonds alone. Yes, he's breaking all the old records. But if the game conditions hadn't changed so dramatically, he wouldn't be. He'd still be the best player in the game, he'd still be making a run at Aaron, he just wouldn't be wreaking havoc on the entire baseball encyclopedia. That doesn't mean we can't enjoy his assault on the record books, and it doesn't mean his accomplishments are lessened. It doesn't mean anything. It's just something to learn from the statistical record. In a way, it's just a fact of baseball life.

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…. Ugly duckling

The Giants lost 12-3 to the Braves last night, and watching the game, I got the feeling it could have been 120-3. Henry Schulman wonders what's going on with Kirk Rueter, as the perennial winner is 0-3. I thought I'd take a look and see. I've added 2003 and 2004, as it helps even up the numbers, and we'll go as far back as 1999.

03-04 197 IP 200 Hits 86 ER 47 SO Opponents .328/.361/.448 .809 OPS
2002 203 IP 204 Hits 73 ER 76 SO Opponents .262/.306/.392 .698 OPS
2001 195 IP 213 Hits 96 ER 83 SO Opponents .283/.337/.465 .802 OPS
2000 184 IP 205 Hits 81 ER 71 SO Opponents .290/.337/.458 .795 OPS
1999 184 IP 219 Hits 111 ER 94 SO Opponents .297/.343/.480 .824 OPS

What do you think about that? For me, what stands out is the decline in his strikeout numbers. In fact, starting in 1997, his K/9 numbers look like this; 5.43, 4.89, 4.58, 3.47, 3.82, 3.36, 2.13. That, my friends, is a serious decline. If you understand that his K/9 has always been marginal, you can see that any decline will make it very difficult for him to remian succesful. In 2004, all pitchers combined are running about a 6.38 K/9, so you can see that Rueter is operating at a huge disadvantage.

He's asking the Giants to make 4 more plays in the field than the average pitcher would, and that doesn't take into account errors (like the 6 Durham has made already), or the fact that Rueter has only had 1 GIDP so far in '04.

Because of that marginal strikeout rate, Rueter has always been balanced between success and failure. Looking at his stats, you can see that his year to year results go up and down, in large part because of the luck factor that is involved on balls put in play tur

ning into outs.

Another point that needs to be made is that from 1997 through 2002, his big run as a pitcher; the Giants were a formidable offensive team. In 2001, they scored 799 runs. In 2002, 783. In 2003, they dropped down to 755. This season, they are on a pace to score under 600. Even if the offense starts to pick it up, the Giants will probably be lucky to break 700. That's significant for a pitcher who allows right around 4 runs per game throughout his career.

First, let me say that my wife and I love Rueter. We have always rooted for him, there is no doubt that Rueter was a better choice to start Game 7 against the Angels in '02. But rooting for a guy to succeed and predicting his ability to do so are two different things.

I don't see a return to form for Kirk. All indicators point to this being the beginning of the end for him. In fact, I will be very surprised if he can ever become a winning pitcher again. I will always wonder what Brian Sabean was thinking when he decided to trade away Ortiz, and sign Rueter to a contract extension. For a guy who harps on and on about a players track record, I don't see how he could have missed something so obvious.

Update: Over at the Hardball Times, they list some hard to find stats. On the pitching page, you can see that Rueter's defensive efficiency rating (DER), which calculates the percentage of balls in play that turn into outs; is pretty low, at .678. They also show him at 1.7 K/9, so I don't think last night was in there (although if 2 strikeouts in 4.3 innings is making your K/9 number go up, you are in a world of hurt). His line drive percentage (LD%), is shown at .188, meaning that 19 percent of his balls in play are line drives. I'd guess that last night will drive that number up, he must have given up about ten.

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…. It's worse than that

Glenn Dickey wrote a fairly damning critique of the SF Giants' GM, Brian Sabean, in Saturday's Chronicle. In it, he focuses on three areas where he feels the Giants have dropped the ball. In reading the piece, it seems that he is kind of rambling, because he somehow comes to the conclusion that Sabean overpaid to get Alfonzo because he was bitter that the Giants lost the Series in '02. Well…. I don't know about that.

As for being bitter, well, you bet your ass they were bitter. Who wasn't? I was. Dusty made a couple of mistakes, but the odds were still overwhelmingly in favor of the team holding off the Angels in that 6th game. They didn't, and as I wrote then:

The Giants suffered perhaps the the most disheartening and distressing loss in the history of baseball tonight, losing 6-5 to the Anaheim Angels, who became the first team in the history of the game to win an elimination game of any kind after trailing by five runs or more.

I don't know how you could lose that game and not be bitter. It was as devastating a loss as any team has ever had to suffer through. Maybe Mr. Boswell will help refresh your memory:

…. the Giants had drubbed the Angels by an amazing score of 25-4 over the previous 21 innings. In that process, the Giants had come back from a 3-0 deficit to win Game 4, 4-3, beating the super-rookie reliever Rodriguez in the process. They'd utterly embarrassed the Halos, 16-4, in Game 5 (and might have scored 20 runs with a bit more luck). And the Giants seemed to have several more runs than they needed to clinch Game 6.

No wonder Dusty baked the victory cake a little too soon. As soon as Ortiz departed, the next eight Angels batters, off four different Giants pitchers, produced two home runs, a double off the left field wall and three

singles — all in the span of fewer than 25 pitches. In the most stunning comeback ever made by any team facing Series elimination, the Angels turned a five-run deficit with eight outs left into a 6-5 win in which they didn't even have to use their turn at bat in the ninth.

Bitter? You bet your ass.

As for Sabean, Dickey's right to criticize the Alfonzo deal, in which Sabean came to the podium and told us that Alfonzo's back was fine, even though he hadn't had to take a physical. He suggested anyone who doubted Alfonzo's ability to drive the ball anymore was an idiot. Well, who's the idiot now? Alfonzo has essentially no power, and is among the highest paid third basemen in the game.

In keeping with Sabean's addiction to veterans, Alfonzo has already joined the JT Snow contract Hall of Fame. Put his bronze bust alongside Marvin Benard, Shawon Dunston, and the newest member of the fraternity, Kirk Rueter. In fact, it's my humble opinion that Sabean's greatest flaw is this; he overpays for mediocrity, often in the face of overwhelming evidence. In essence, he goes all-in with J-8 off-suit, all the time. That's why the Giants couldn't make a run at Guerrero. Not the stiffs he couldn't have signed this year, but the tens of millions of dollars he pissed away on stiffs over the last five years.

The final flaw in Sabean's approach Dickey hits head on; while Billy Beane is re-inventing the process of drafting talent and running a minor league system; Sabean's farm system has produced exactly one player even remotely close to a top-level talent in the last decade, Keith Foulke. Name another Giants draft choice who rivals anybody on the A's roster. One. You can't. The Giants minor league system is among the poorest in all of baseball. Consequently, the Giants have nobody like, say, Alfonso Soriano; whom the Yankees paid about $2 million dollars for his first 95 home runs.

Instead, the Giants have Cody Ransom, a warm body who wouldn't be the 25th man for the Brewers.

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…. Anonymous?

An anonymous backtalker posted this:

That's a nice way of dodging the issue. Of course, the one thing “you know” that you didn't address, for obvious reasons, was that Barry Bonds, according to the President and CEO of BALCO, received steroids. I'm sure it was all innocent, that he was just holding them for a friend, and that it's normal for men in their late 30s to gain 40 pounds of muscle while losing body fat. You guys are worse than Pete Rose fans. Oh, but attendance is up, that's all that really matters, eh? Sure, by that standard then McDonald's is better than any 5-star restaurant. Wake up and face reality, for a change.

Of course, what “I know” is that Victor Conte is alleged to have named names. This allegation comes from an anonymous source, (just like you), is backed by no notes or tape recordings, and has been denied by Conte and his attorneys from minute one.

Hmmmm… I guess the prosecutors wouldn't stoop

so low as to slander the names of the men they think are guilty. Sure, they would never be so under-handed to try and win their case in the court of public opinion before they take it to the courts, right? Right. What “I know,” is that everything we've read about the BALCO case to date is one big pile of bullshit, innuendo and insinuation.

Wake up and face reality? I'll tell you what reality is; reality is a society that is waging a destructive “War on Drugs,” a war that has no boundaries or limits. The reality is that Bonds may or may not have used steroids; but you and I are in no position to “know” anything about it. The BALCO case is all public relations until someone is talking to a judge.

Oh, and by the way, if you think OBM hasn't adressed the Bonds situation regards BALCO, you haven't been here very long.

Update: Another John has posted another great comment. AJ, send me an email. I want you to write for OBM. You have the right stuff.

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…. Help me if you can

I'm feelin' down.

Andres Galarragga is hoping to play in the second half of 2004, afte

r being treated for a recurrence of the cancer that forced him to miss the entire 1999 season. Here's one fan hoping he lands in SF. Good luck to you, Andres.

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…. Who do you believe?

So after months of crying doom, after thousands of articles proclaiming the end of honest competition and the herald of brazen cheaters, after countless polls telling us that fans are really, really upset about the scourge of steroid users in baseball, here's what Seligula had to say yesterday:

We're off to a remarkable start. I'll predict we'll set an attendance record, given what I've seen in preseason sales and what I've seen in April, which is generally a horrible month. I feel good about a lot of cities.

That's right. Baseball is on pace to shatter the single season record for attendance, not just for individual clubs like the Red Sox, Cubs, Yankees, Marlins and Devil Rays, but across the board, the whole league is on the upswing.

And that's pretty interesting, because I've always felt that people vote more honestly with their dollars than they do with their ballots. Writers like Murray Chass have been telling us for months now, how upset fans are over the 'scandal' of steroid use in the big leagues. Writers like me have been telling you its a headline scandal, a trip back in time to the days of yellow journalism, of William Randolph Hearst, who never let a thing like the truth get in the way of a story. And now, baseball fans have told you who they believe.

Verducci, Chass, Lupica, Olney and the rest of them have it all wrong, have had it all wrong the whole time. They've been telling us that they'll expose the cheaters, don't worry, we'll protect the integrity of the game. Our response? Yeah, right. Baseball fan

s know, deep down, what a cheater looks like. We know Canseco and Caminitti aren't the tip of the iceberg, they are the iceberg. We know that most baseball players aren't using steroids, we know that a lot of baseball players aren't using steroids, we know that a few baseball players might be using steroids, speed, vaseline, whatever. We know, because we know people.

People cheat. We see cheaters everywhere, all the time. We know that most people don't cheat, but some do. Most of the time, it's a bad apple here, a bad apple there. But that's not a story. That won't sell papers. Extra! Extra! Read all about it. A couple of ballplayers are cheating!

No, that won't do. It's an epidemic! As many as 70% of baseball players use steroids! Ken Caminitti said so. OK, maybe not 70%, but at least 30%. Yeah, Jose Canseco told me. Oh, only 5-7% tested positive? Oh, well, you know, those tests can't be trusted. The number is much higher. An anonymous source told me. Some guy told some other guy that Barry Bonds is using them. Really? Oh, yeah, I saw it on ESPN last night.

Fans know, we're don't need some ridiculous poll to tell us, we don't need Dan Patrick acting like Joseph MaCarthy. Here's a question: If the MLBPA is so overwhelmingly in favor of stricter testing, why do you need it at all? If 95% of the players want to see cheaters exposed, how many could there really be actually cheating? Are you trying to tell me that there hasn't been 5% of baseball players cheating in some way or another forever? If you believe that, you're naive. If not, why is it such a big deal now? Because it sells newspapers, that's why.

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…. Baby steps

The Giants took the first game of a suddenly pivotal homestand, beating the Atlanta Braves 3-2 behind the gutty effort of Jason Schmidt. Schmidt struggled with his control, needing 95 pitched to get through five innings, but was able to hand a lead off to a beleaguered bullpen.

I was able to catch a bit of the game, just enough to remind me how ridiculous the Giants lineup really is. In the bottom of the fifth(?), Devi Cruz (pinch-hitting for Schmidt) led off with a double. For just about any team in baseball, a leadoff double is the start of a big inning. For the Giants it was the start of more futility.

Alou chose to have Durham try to bunt Cruz to third. Amazing but true. Durham, one of the few Giants with a real batting average, was directed to bunt Cruz into scoring position, when he was already in scoring position!. A man on second with no outs is wo

rth about a run and a half to a real baseball team, but this is the punchless judy's we're talking about here. After Durham failed to lay it down twice, he battled out of an 0-2 hole to slap the ball to the first baseman, advancing Cruz. But wait, there's more.

With Cruz on third, Alfonzo weakly grounded right back to the pitcher, who looked Cruz back and threw to first. At which point, Cruz bolted for home and was out at the plate. That's right, boys and girls, the Giants turned a man on second and nobody out into zero runs, and more amazingly, they grounded into that rarest of double plays, 1-3-2.

A couple of innings later, their ineptitude at the plate grew, as Bobby Cox elected to walk Bonds with runners on first and second with 2 outs in the bottom of the seventh. Jeffrey Hammonds, batting behind Bonds (AAAAAHA HA HA HA HA HA), looked at strike three to end the inning with the bases loaded.

Wow. That was enough for me. Bedtime for Johnny.

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…. A friend in need

If you have a second, stop by my friend Max's new site, Massage Your Date

t.com”>Mets Forever. I think you can figure out the team he's gonna be writing about. ;-)

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…. Track records?

Brian Sabean brought up a common refrain after yesterday's dismal finale to the Giants 3-7 homestand. Speaking about the poor performance of almost everyone not named Bonds, Sabean had this to say:

Their track records are too strong. If anything, some of the new guys are trying to make a name for themselves and obviously they're pressing. The fortunate thing is that it's only April and we have time to smooth this thing out. The will is there, the effort is there, the professionalism is there, and certainly from that standpoint, we feel the talent is there.

Um, Brian, no. Track records are available for us non-GM's to look at too, so let's. Here's what the 2001-2003 stats are for the Giants starters:

Edgardo Alfonzo .270/.350/.418 OPS .768 Per Season 15 HR 63 RBI 68 Runs
Ray Durham .279/.358/.454 OPS .812 Per Season 14 HR 66 RBI 93 Runs
Marquis Grissom .269/.298/.458 OPS .756 Per Season 19 HR 68 RBI 67 Runs
Neifi Perez .258/.285/.350 OPS .635 Per Season 6 HR 42 RBI 60 Runs
AJ Pierzynski .301/.340./449 OPS .789 Per Season 8 HR 59 RBI 57 Runs
JT Snow .255/.365/.384 OPS .749 Per Season 7 HR 43 RBI 43 Runs
Michael Tucker .254/.328/.419 OPS .747 Per Season 12 HR 57 RBI 63 Runs

I'm not bothering with Bonds, his stats are here often enough. I included Grissom, because it's important to remember that last season wasn't a fluke, it's pretty much in line with what you can expect, although he's way ahead

of last season, I don't expect him to outperform it by too much.

Simply put, that lineup is a joke. Not one of those players averaged much less than 130 or so games played over the last three seasons, so there's no hole in the counting stats. The percentage stats tell us that there's no percentage in playing these stiffs, (that's a pun).

And I don't have the time to run the pitchers, although I will tell you that once again, Sabean bet the wrong horse. When he decided to trade Ortiz and give Rueter the cash, he followed the same script that allowed JT Snow (4 years, $24 million) to earn a million dollars per home run over the four years of his deal, that saw Marvin Benard (3 years, $10 million) absolutely destroy the teams' salary structure over the life of his deal, that is paying Robb Nen close to $20 million dollars for not throwing a single pitch (I think it's safe to assume he will never reach his pre-surgery form again, wouldn't you say)…. I mean, these are big deals for the Giants. And they have all gone bad.

As for Rueter, let's look at Ortiz's and Rueter's last season and a half:

Kirk Rueter 10-7 167 IP 44 K 86 ER 16 HR's allowed
Russ Ortiz 22-9 228 IP 162K 98 ER 20 HR's allowed

That doesn't look too even, does it? If there's a method to Sabean's madness, it is hidden to this writer. Here's what I wrote way back when:

I look at this Rueter extension (2 years, $12 million), 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.

I guess I'm looking pretty good on that one right about now.

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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
None of the opinions expressed should be construed as being endorsed by the
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