…. 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.

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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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