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Archive for August, 2004


…. Smooth, but not rich

Or smart. Or helpful. Or honest.

That’s how I would characterize Brian Sabean’s efforts to upgrade the teams absolutely laughable pitching staff. Shawn Estes? That’s the pitcher we’re going to make a trade for to help our battered pitching staff? That is flat-out ridiculous!!!!

What the hell is going on with this team? Who is running this train wreck? First Ricky Ledee, and now Shawn Estes? Here’s Shawn Estes:

163.2 IP 185 H 112 R 23 HR 85 BB 95 SO 6.05 ERA

Estes is a prototypical BBTL player. In 1997, he went 19-5 and put up a stat line that looked like this:

201 IP 162 H 80 R 12 HR 100 BB 181 SO 3.18 ERA

Since that season, his ERA’s look like this:

5.06, 4.92, 4.26, 4.02, 5.10, 5.73, 6.05

In the seven seasons since his big year, he has pitched for five different teams, five different sets of brass that have paid him in an effort to get a repeat performance, one that stands out of his career results like it glows in the dark.

That’s the help we need? Estes ranks 49th out of the 50 pitchers listed on ESPN.com’s stats page. He’s allowed the most runs in the national league. That’s right, he has THE MOST RUNS ALLOWED IN THE ENTIRE LEAGUE!!! Sure, go get him. He’ll round out a Giants rotation that has proven to be one of the worst in the Sabean era, and the worst of any the playoff contenders. Rueter has allowed 94 runs, which is the 8th most runs allowed in the league, Tomko has allowed 88, good for the 12th most. The only reason some of our other guys aren’t among the top twenty most runs allowed is because they haven’t pitched enough.

Do you know what the Giants placing waiver claims on Jeremy Burnitz and Shawn Estes means? It means that the teams’ brass has decided lying to the fans is all they’re willing to do anymore. They’re saying, screw it, who cares what the fans are saying, or doing. Just keep pretending we actually have a general managers office whose job it is to put together a championship team. The Giants have regressed into the island of misfits, the place where the players nobody else wants end up. We have a pitching staff made up of an Uber-pitcher, and a bunch fourth and fifth starters, a pile of relievers picked up off the waiver wires. This is a pitching staff that just finished a seven game road trip with an cover your eyes awful 3 2/3 innings per start performance.

We have an infield that looks like this:

At third base, we have a guy who is a shadow of his former All Star self, a player who has lost 250 points of slugging in the last three seasons making $6 million dollars. At shortstop, we have a guy who was released by a last place team. At second base, we have a man who has no position, two many stone-handed plays to be a legitimate second baseman, but no real talent for tracking flyballs, and too much ego to make the switch to help the team; all the while cashing a $7 million dollar a year paycheck). At first base, we have a player who is in the midst of exactly the kind of twice in a career hot streak that earned him his last $24 million dollar deal, (you know, the one in which he hit 44 home runs in 4 years).

In the outfield, we have a center fielder who has spent his entire career with a flaw in his game that coaches and managers have been trying to get him to fix, one that he has refused to address for 17 years! Over in right field, we have whichever outfielder we pick up off the just released heap the last four years.

This is a team that has a 97% sellout average for the last four seasons. This is a team that plays in one of the pre-eminent cities in the world. This is a team that has the best player of all time, playing at his absolute peak of performance, whose ownership will not put out the kind of all-out effort the fans do, which means an owner who will not spend even a modest amount of extra money to do whatever it can to reward the fans and the city that has supported a team with NO CHAMPIONSHIPS IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE SAN FRANCISCO ERA!

Shawn Estes? Do me a favor, if you’re gonna quit, be a man. Stop pretending to care, and just quit. Trading some more of the crap you have in Triple A for a pitcher who has no business in a pennant race is the same as slapping me in the face with a fish.



…. Win or lose

You’ve got to be kidding me. Between the first-pitch base hit leading off the bottom of the ninth, the passed ball by Double Play AJ, and the ridiculous effort by Ledee allowing the 46 year-old Julio Franco to make it to third, the Giants again are demonstrating exactly why they are a .500 team since the Fourth of July. What a joke. I cannot remember the last time this team had a game in which a reliever didn’t allow a run.

Update: What a horrid, horrid loss. That was some disgusting performance by both Hermanson and the defense. What a disgrace. Sabean ought to hang himself.

Update II: The question is, who was the goat? Was it Hermanson, with his first-pitch single, second-pitch wild pitch/passed ball, triple, walk, single performance? Ricky Ledee (0 for 4, now 4 for 43 as a Giant) sleepwalking through another game? Double Play AJ, 0 for 4, passed ball? Horrible, horrible loss.

Stretch Run Stars:

Barry Bonds 67 AB 36 BB 11 HR 26 R 27 RBI .418/.615/1.015 1.630 OPS
JT Snow 69 AB 14 BB 11 XBH 19 R 14 RBI .449/.548/.768 1.316 OPS
Dustin Mohr 42 AB 10 XBH .405/.480/.810 1.290 OPS
Edgardo Alfonzo .359/.442/.469 .910 OPS

Jim Brower 14.1 IP 15 H 9.42 K/9IP 1.26 ERA
Jason Schmidt 34.2 IP 33 H 12.2 K/9IP 2.86
Dustin Hermanson 14.1 IP 15 H 2.08 ERA (Not counting today)

Stretch Run Stumblers:

Durham 99 AB .202/.307/.424 .731 OPS
Ledee 43 AB .090/.180/.118 .298 OPS
Tucker, Feliz, Grissom all at .690 OPS or worse

Scott Eyre 10.1 IP 14 H 11 ER 9.58 ERA
Wayne Franklin 9.0 IP 9 H 9 ER 9.00 ERA
Kirk Rueter 28.0 IP 32 H 17 ER 1.61 K/9IP 5.46 ERA
Brett Tomko 32 IP 32 H 18 ER 5.06 ERA

stats are for the month of August



…. Marvel

That’s what we’re all doing as Barry relentlessly chases Hammerin’ Hank. Last night’s 9-5 win was a nationally televised showcase, and give Bobby Cox and the Braves credit, they went after Bonds.

Of course, you’ve got to give Bonds credit too, after he hit two monster home runs to push his season total to 38, and his career numbers to 696. After the first titanic blast traveled an estimated 467 feet, Hank Aaron had something to say about it. “I’ve never seen a ball hit that far in this ballpark.”

After the second one went almost as far, only it was a laser beam, Aaron said, “I would have to put him past Babe Ruth. He has to be the greatest hitter that I’ve seen or heard of. People said Ted was great, the last player to hit .400. But who knows, if they pitch to Barry, he might hit .450.”

The win pushed the Giants into a three way tie for the wild card lead with the Cubs and the Padres each having one fewer win and one fewer loss than the G-men.



…. Stumbling around

That’s what the Giants have been doing for most of the second half of the season. Win one, lose one has been their modus operandi since they finished that first half surge of .750 baseball. Yesterday’s 9-3 loss to Atlanta was the second Schmidt turn in a row that the team allowed 9 runs, only this time it was Jason and not Wayne Franklin getting pasted.

The good news is that the Cubs continued to lose, although the Padres and Dodgers wouldn’t return the favor. Actually, the good news was that Schmidt feels fine and should return to form. He reported that, if anything, he held back yesterday, something that shouldn’t be a problem in his next start.

Ricky Ledee broke a 17 at-bat hitless streak with a hit yesterday. Add that to his 22 at-bat streak when he first got here, and the player who we traded Felix Rodriguez for is 4 for 39 since we got him. That’s unbelievable, what a waste of one of the only real tradable commodities we had. Ainsworth for fat-boy Ponson, Ortiz for already out of baseball Moss, Nathan for Double Play AJ (major-league leading 22 double plays and counting)…. Sabean’s on a roll these last two seasons, and it ain’t a good one.

More an AJ Pierzynski, the SF Chronicle’s Mark May has column in which he attempts to spin AJ’s season as historically positive. In May’s laughable effort, he compares AJ to Yogi Berra, Tony Gwynn and George Brett. The fact that Pierzynksi has only struck out 18 times is laudable, other than that, AJ’s season is a bust. Here’s the Stats.com scouting report:

No way do you want your Little Leaguer watching Pierzynski’s plate habits. The catcher is overly aggressive, frequently swinging at balls well out of the strike zone. Unlike his impatient teammates, Pierzynski generally hits the bad pitches at which he’s hacking. He is a gap hitter who uses all fields. While he almost doubled his home-run total in 2003, he still hasn’t learned to pull inside pitches on a consistent basis. Team officials believed he could develop into a 25-plus home-run hitter.

Here’s my scouting report: There is no reason to throw him a strike. His career totals of 75 walks in 1803 at-bats (vs. his 57 GIDP) demonstrate that this catcher, (catcher!) has no command of the strike zone whatsoever. Add in the fact that he runs so slow he’s going backwards, and that he has essentially no power for a 6′ 3″ 245 pound athlete, and were I an opposing player, I’d punch my pitcher in the mouth if he threw him a strike.

What would the Giants record be of they still had Nathan and Torrealba had 400 at bats? Here’s the ESPN 162 game averages of the two catchers:

Torrealba 455 AB 118 H 26 2B 5 3B 9 HR 62 RBI 41 BB .260/.327/.400 SLG .727 OPS
Pierzinski 548 AB 164 H 40 2B 4 3B 11 HR 80 RBI 23 BB .300/.341/.448 .789 OPS

It’s not hard to imagine Torrealba’s production matching or even exceeding AJ’s if he were given the opportunity to play everyday. It’s also possible that he would be worse; that given the chance, teams would expose him, and then where would the Giants be? They’d probably be in better shape than they are now, that’s where. If you think the extra 40 hits and 2 home runs AJ’s contributing over Torrealba are worth Nathan, you ain’t here, that’s for sure. Add in the fact that AJ almost certainly won’t be here next season, and you have one more quality player traded away for nothing in return.

And while we’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt the Giants too much to sit Marquis Grissom against a right-handed pitcher now and again. Lost in the excitement of his .300 average last season was the fact that he gave up 100 points of OBP against righties, and that he hit home runs at four times the rate against lefties than righties. This year, he’s got 8 home runs in 114 at-bats against lefties and 9 home runs in 344 at-bats against righties. He’s giving up over 200 points of OPS in the platoon split as well, and he’s not doing as well against lefties as he did last season. His July and August production has flat-lined, as he is flailing away at just about any pitch he sees. Jeez, another guy with less than 30 walks, is Sabean just trying to prove that Billy Beane is insane? How many hitters can the Giants accumulate who simply have no idea of what the strike zone looks like?

Boy, am I bitchy today or what?



…. Cy of relief

After the Giants walked away with a win last night, I heard one of the Baseball Tonight guys on ESPN talking about the MVP “race” and how Bonds stacked up against Beltre and Rolen. *Yawn* Seriously, Bonds will either win it or he won’t, there can be no doubt that he is the most valuable player in all of baseball, by a country mile. They should just change the name of the award to the Barry Bonds award, and be done with it.

As for the Cy Young award, last season, Jason Schmidt lost to perfection, and he once again heads into September in a race too close to call. This time, however, he is up against an immortal, aka, The Big Unit. I thought it was a good time to look at how the two pitchers match up and offer my thoughts on who should win:

Jason Schmidt 23 starts, 15 wins 4 losses 118 H 39 XBH 60 BB 193 SO .188/.258/.299 .557 OPS
Randy Johnson 28 starts, 12 wins 12 losses 135 H 52 XBH 37 BB 227 SO .191/.238/.312 .550 OPS

That’s pretty damn dominant, by both guys. Johnson gives up fewer walks; Schmidt allows a hair fewer extra base hits…. that is some close race. Let’s look at some other numbers:

Schmidt 2.52 ERA 3 CG 3 SHO 9.95 K/9 3.57 K/BB WHIP 1.02 Average Game Score 65.5 Quality Start% 79
Johnson 2.78 ERA 4 CG 2 SHO 10.51 K/9 6.14 K/BB WHIP .89 Average Game Score 64.4 Quality Start% 71

Johnson has been betrayed by the horrible Arizona offense, he lost 2-1 last night, allowing two runs in 8 innings, ouch. Schmidt has had pretty good run support, so his record looks a lot better. But his rate stats are better than Schmidt’s. Look at that K/BB! That is something else.

(Editor’s note: ESPN says Schmidt has 24 starts, but his game logs record only 23)

Let’s look at the two pitchers game logs:

Schmidt 6, 2, 2, 1, 3, 0, 1, 1, 2, 1, 2, 0, 4, 4, 1, 2, 0, 8, 2, 2, 2, 0, 1 earned runs allowed
Johnson 3, 5, 0, 5, 0, 1, 2, 1, 0, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 5, 3, 2, 1, 3, 0, 2, 0, 4, 5, 3, 0, 1, 2 earned runs allowed

Johnson has 17 starts allowing two runs or less, Schmidt has 18, in 5 fewer starts. If the two pitchers switched teams, their records would probably be within a game or two of a clean swap. I give a slight edge to Schmidt due to his dominance in quality start efficiency. The last couple of games will probably make a huge difference. If Schmidt can come back and throw a couple of real beauties in the heat of a pennant race, he’ll probably win his first Cy Young award. Many voters still cannot see past wins and losses, so it’s possible he’ll win anyway, but a strong September will almost certainly lock it up for him.



…. Off-kilter

The Giants were knocked out of the wild card lead last night, as virtually everything that could go wrong did. Florida pounded the crap out of them, winning 9-1, the Cubs, Padres and Dodgers won, and presto; a two-game deficit in the all-important loss column to Chicago. Wayne Franklin had a first inning he’d like to forget, allowing 7 runs in 2/3 of an inning. “Maybe I tried too hard for us to jump up in this race and really get us going for September. Maybe I was a little overzealous, a little too geared up. It’s like I was pitching for just one inning, like I do out of the bullpen. I had a hard time finding my command.” Or maybe the SF Giants pitching staff stinks.

Yeah, that’s the ticket. The Giants pitching stinks.

Or, to put it another way, without Jason Schmidt, the Giants may have the worst pitching staff in the NL. According to ESPN, the Giants have the 12th worst overall ERA in the NL. Their staff allows 1.43 baserunners per inning (WHIP), also the 12th worst mark in the league. Their OPS against is 11th, their batting average against is 14th. The Giants pitching staff has struck out the fewest batters in the National League, perhaps the most telling indicator of all.

Jason Schmidt, on the other hand, is number one in just about every category used to measure pitching performance. OK, that’s an exagerration, but not much. He’s first in wins and ERA, second in WHIP (1.02), first in quality start percentage (79% of his starts are quality starts), first in average game score (65.0). He has 193 strikeouts in 174.2 inning pitched, the rest of the Giants have 476 in 972 innings. Quick comparison:

Schmidt 9.9 K/9IP
Giants 4.4 K/9IP

Ouch.

Any winning streaks they have put together this season have almost exclusively been the result of offensive spikes. The six-gamer they just had? 7, 16, 7, 3, 8, 5 runs scored, almost 8 per game. The pitching has been as inconsistent as it gets. Here’s August’s runs allowed, going backwards from yesterday; 9, 1, 11, 3, 4, 6, 4, 5, 1, 6, 6, 0, 8, 8, 3, 8, 2, 12, 8, 0, 6. How is a team that allows that many runs supposed to make a push for the post-season? Seven games (out of 21) allowing 8 runs or more. 11 games allowing 6 runs or more, in the first 21 games of the month!

Schmidt is 15-4, 11 games over .500. The Giants are 69-58, 11 games over .500. In other words, Brian Sabean and his crack team of baseball men are counting on Jason Schmidt’s winning the wild card for them. So, you see, if Schmidt cannot carry the team the rest of the way, THEY HAVE NO CHANCE AT ALL OF MAKING THE PLAYOFFS!!!

That’s the reason building a team with one star on offense and one star pitcher is almost always doomed to failure. While other baseball websites are analyzing how amazing the St. Louis Cardinals quartet of superstar hitters are, the Giants are praying that neither Bonds nor Schmidt suffers even a minor injury, because, *poof* there goes $100 million dollar investment, (I figure it takes about that much to put together a team, and run them throough 162 games).

That’s management’s fault, that’s poor planning, that’s what we got.

Editor’s note: Oh, and speaking of baseball websites, according to Google’s rankings, if you type baseball and SF Giants into a Google search, the top 4 returns would be the SF Giants homepage 3 times, and Only Baseball Matters fourth. That means that OBM is the number one, non-MLB affiliated Giants website in the world!! That’s pretty damn awesome, and I am proud as hell. Thanks to all of my readers who have been coming here for the last two and a half seasons. You keep coming, and I’ll keep ranting and raving.



…. Blinded by the light

The Giants aren’t the only team paying through the nose for a chance at a repeat of a career year. I have a little pet theory that says players can earn about 5 years of major league salary on the strength of a single big year.

Many years ago, the Yankees has a player named Kevin Maas who came up from the minors and hit 10 home runs faster than any player in major league history. Maas finished his career with 65 home runs in five years, going from rags to riches to rags again about as fast as humanly possible.

Greg Jeffries came up with the Mets in 1988 and had a two month run of .321/.364/.596 with 16 extra base hits in 109 at-bats. He never approached those numbers again, but that didn’t stop him from playing in the majors for 13 seasons with five different teams.

Everyone can name a player on the roster of their favorite team who is in the league simply because managers are waiting for him to just figure out what it was he was doing right during that one big year. I call them the Blinded by the Light players, (BBTL).

The Giants’ most recent BBTL was (of course) Neifi Perez, who was just picked up by the Cubs, because managers and general managers, blinded by the seemingly good production of his years in Colorado, continue to bet that he just is in a slump.

It’s now been a solid three and a half seasons since Perez enjoyed playing a mile above sea-level, where he averaged 30 doubles, 10 triples and 10 home runs per season. Since he left Colorado (except for a brief return in 2001, when his numbers once again spiked), Neifi has put together three seasons of some of the worst offense in baseball history.

’01-03 1463 AB 377 H 60 BB .258/.285/.350 .635 OPS
2004 319 AB 74 H 21 BB .232/.276/.295 .571 OPS

For a player like that to be valuable to a team, he’d need to be able to play two positions at the same time. And his defensive production doesn’t warrant his being a starter, now matter how you look at it. In any of the full seasons that he’s played shortstop, his numbers are pretty damn good:

1998 162 G 1385 INN 517 A 20 E 127 DP
1999 157 G 1369 INN 480 A 14 E 124 DP
2000 162 G 1402 INN 524 A 18 E 120 DP

Rich Aurilia, who was known as a hitters shortstop (at least until his eye problems) has defensive numbers that aren’t a million miles away from uber-fielder Perez:

1999 150 G 1281 INN 410 A 28 E 97 DP
2000 140 G 1193 INN 403 A 21 E 110 DP
2001 149 G 1313 INN 423 A 17 E 108 DP

And we could use another shortstop, the man whom many consider the best player in the game, Alex Rodriguez. In fact, let’s put the three of them together, three year totals, side by side:

Perez 1998-00 481 G 4159 INN 1521 A 52 E 371 DP
Aurilia 1999-01 439 G 3787 INN 1236 A 66 E 315 DP
A-Rod 2000-02 471 G 4070 INN 1365 A 38 E 347 DP

Is 200 extra plays over three seasons worth a .600 OPS? No, it isn’t. As Bill James has pointed out, the 27 outs a teams’ defense needs to get have to be earned by somebody. If one player isn’t making the out, another one has to. The fact that Perez makes an extra 200 defensive plays over a three year span isn’t meaningless, but it’s close. Those outs have to be made. If he doesn’t make them, somebody will.

The outs he makes at the plate, however, do not have to be made. You don’t have to keep playing a player who makes more than 7 outs every 10 times up (Perez doesn’t reach base at a 30% clip, away from Colorado, he’s closer to 27%). There are players available who will make only 6 outs every 10 times up. In a season of 700 plate appearances, you’re talking about 80 or 90 or even 100 extra outs. Another way to look at it is to consider that a team will make about 4000 outs in a season, if Perez is making 500 or more, instead of, say 400, well that’s a big difference. It’s more than a half an out per game. Over three seasons, the extra 300 outs (for a total of 1500 outs made by Perez in three seasons!), (over just about anybody you could put in there), are destroying your offense, and that’s making no adjustment for the fact that all he can do is hit singles and double play balls.

Anyway, back to my theory. Perez has been playing in the majors for the last four seasons on the strength of his seemingly transparent production at Colorado, even though he has demonstrated in close to 2000 at-bats that he simply does not hit well enough to be a major leaguer. Another BBTL player is the newest Yankee, Esteban Loaiza.

He’s been very bad for the Yankees since they traded Jose Contreras for him, something that most sabermeticians would have been able to tell Brian Cashman had he asked, but Cashman was blinded by the light. A quick glance at his career numbers would have been enough to let you know that his 2003 campaign (21-9, 2.90 ERA) was not only completely out of line with his career, but was also predictably impossible for him to duplicate. Here’s a quick and dirty comp:

2003 226 IP 196 H 73 ER 56 BB 207 SO 2.90 ERA
2001 190 IP 239 H 106 ER 40 BB 110 SO 5.02 ERA
2000 199 IP 228 H 101 ER 57 BB 137 SO 4.56 ERA

His OPS against in 2003 was .634. That’s the only season in which it’s been less than .731, his career OPS against is .782. His K/BB in ’03 was 3.70, his previous high was 2.75, career mark of 2.27. His K/9IP in ’03 was 8.23, his career mark is 5.84. 2003 is the only year in his 10 years in the bigs that he allowed fewer hits than innings pitched. But, you ask, maybe he has learned a new pitch? Yeah, keep telling yourself that.

He didn’t learn a new pitch, he didn’t suddenly figure out the league, he didn’t mature, he didn’t get stronger, or better or whatever. HE GOT LUCKY! It happens all the time.

Sometimes a player gets lucky in a first half, and then slumps through the second half. That player will usually get one more chance to make it at the major league level, maybe two. Sometimes it happens in the second half, or sometimes it happens in a pennant race. That player will get many more chances to succeed. Sometimes it happens in the span of one season, like with Loaiza, and teams will end up paying him a lot of money in an effort to capture that same production again, even though the statistical record completely contradicts that one season.

Anyway, that’s my theory. I predict that Loaiza will now bounce from team to team as one GM after another will be blinded by the light. The Shawon Dunston’s of the world rejoice.

Update: Josh has some backtalk that deserves being torn apart ;-)

While I agree whole-heartedly that these BBTL players to whom you refer exist in abudance around the league, I think you may be placing a little too much blame on the GMs who sign them. This is because there ARE many players who DO just suddenly “find it” out of the blue one year, and then continue to build on that success, moving their career into the next level.

Now I’m not saying for every Loaiza, there’s a Schmidt, but they are out there. Doesn’t Schmidt also fit in to your formula? Couldn’t the end of 2001, when he greatly improved with the Giants have been simply his career half-year, the one which spurs a GM to give him a fat free agent contract, then watch as he reverts back to his previous standards? But after the fat contract, he continued to improve.

The same could be said about Jeff Kent. In 1997, everybody was saying that he was having a career year, but as it turns out that was arguably his WORST year as a Giant (despite his terrific power, RBIs, and clutch-hitting, he did hit .250 — about 50 points lower then he would ever hit with them again).

Or how about Jose Guillen? He stumbled around the majors for years and years, then suddenly “found it” last year. As a free agent this past off-season, I thought the Giants should look into signing him, but realized the risk inherent with with signing any player who’s had only one good year (as opposed to many NOT good years). But it looks like he has indeed raised his game (or at least the hitting part — he’s brutal in the field) to that elusive “next level”.

Now, I’m sure you can name at least 50 more guys who have fizzled after their first, and only, big year. (In fact, I can give you one of the all-time BBTL’s: Miguel Dilone, a pinch-runner, defensive replacement in the late 70′s who had trouble hitting .200 until 1980 when he inexplicably hit .341 for the Indians in his first, and only, full season in the majors). But my point is that these exceptions to the rule — Schmidt, Kent, Guillen, and alike — ARE out there. They’re the White Whale that every GM is out there looking for, a blossoming stud who’s just come into his own and can be signed below top market value. You can’t really blame GMs too much for trying to find a bargain. (And it sure helped the Giants, wouldn’t you say?)

I think Josh is missing my main point here, and perhaps I didn’t make it well enough to be understood. BBTL players are players who have accumulated enough opportunities to fill out the statistical record, thereby ensuring that everyone has the evidence needed to make a decision about the value they can expect. Jeff Kent was a hot prospect to the general manager in Toronto, and in NY, and in San Francisco. He was thought to have the potential to be a regular, at least. He didn’t get traded to the Giants because Sabean had seen him have one good season and gave away the farm for him.

Schmidt’s case is similar, he was a pitcher who had not reached his potential, in many people’s eyes. But both players were thought to have upsides, which were evident in their statistics, they have nothing to do with players who come completely out of nowhere and become great; of which there are far fewer than you would think.

Jeff Kent, in 1992, as a 21-year old, put up this line:

65 G 192 AB 36 R 46 H 13 2B 8 HR .240/.324/.443 .767 OPS

I’d bet that the number of 21-year old second basemen who have put up lines like that and then not gone on to being at least a regular is pretty damn small. That is outstanding production from a 21 year old player; and the statistical record throughout the history of the game tells us that a player that good that young is essentially destined to be a good player.

Jason Schmidt was striking out batters at a better than league rate the minute he reached the majors, as a twenty two-year old! His K/BB numbers have been terrific from day one, as have most of his peripherals. Don’t discount the fact that part of the reason he has moved into the highest echelon of starters is essentially the same thing that helped Sandy Koufax; he’s now pitching half of his games in one of the toughest parks for hitters there is. But that doesn’t mean crap; he obviously had talent and the ability to do so from the get go. His statistics made it possible to predict his future success or failure; just as Neifi Perez’s do. Just as Kevin Maas’ did, or Greg Jeffries.

Mike Piazza is commonly known as a miracule of a star player, he was something like the last player chosen in the draft. That is, he was a player who came from nowhere to be a big time star. But that’s not really true. Once he was in the minors, he quickly distinguished himself as a real prospect.

There are countless major leaguers, however, who have given GM’s one season of pretty production, but production that a seasoned sabermetician would recognize as being a poor predictor of future success. Those are the BBTL’s. In an effort to continue the debate, I will find another ten BBTL’s and I’ll try to find 10 of Josh’s type, who we’ll call Bargain Bashers.



…. Ugly

In today’s game, (which I am tracking using ESPN’s Gamecast), the Giants woeful pitchers have allowed the leadoff man to reach base in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th innings. The Mets, thankful of the opportunity to score runs for a change, have taken advantage of the Giants generosity and scored in the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th and 10th innings, or half the time.

The Giants, on the other hand, have left 22 men on base through the 10th!, and have hit into three more double plays, including a bases loaded, no-out situation in the bottom of the eighth. A single there would have probably won the game. The teams have combined for 30 hits, 14 walks, (44 baserunners!), and 18 runs; a rare PacBell slugfest that doesn’t include a Superman home run, but does feature a 4 for 4 Bonds day that has raised his season average to .372.

That’s about all the good news I can stand. The Giants pitchers are flat-out disgusting, (the only pitcher to not allow a hit today so far is Hermanson, who walked two), Tomko, Walker, Herges, Brower, Eyre and Correia have all allowed at least one hit as there appears to be no one on the entire team other than Schmidt who can be reliably counted on to GET OUTS. Leadoff walks, doubles, singles, two-out, nobody on rallies, you name it. Sabean has got to do something, anything, to ensure that this suddenly powerful offense isn’t wasted, please!

Update: So they lost, 11-9 in 12 innings. What a horrible performance by the pitching staff. The offense managed 4 different comebacks, but couldn’t do it a needed fifth time. And my God, this team can hit into double plays! Four the Giants and six for the Mets in a disgusting display of pitching and defense by both teams. I remember the terrible losses the Giants endured in 2002, and how Dusty kept on getting them to rebound. Alou has done a similar job this season, getting them back into contention after the 14-23 start, and they had just won 7 of 8 after the dismal efforts in Pittsburgh.

This one was just as bad as any of those losses, following it through Gamecast, and seeing the pitchers allow the leadoff hitter to reach in 7 of 12 innings was like Chinese water torture. I cannot imagine how the hitters don’t punch somebody in the mouth, although with the stunning number and variety of errors they make themselves, I guess I understand.

Brian Sabean!!!! Do something!!!!!



…. Things that make you go hmmmmm…

As Brett Tomko once again works hard to keep the Giants out of the playoffs, I read a tiny little blurb in the SF Chronicle’s Giants notebook piece that I wanted to share:

“The Giants have said they are not optimistic about a trade, but they are still looking. Two of GM Brian Sabean’s top scouts were in Arizona on Friday night, when Randy Johnson faced Cincinnati. The Giants could be looking at starters and relievers. ”

I have written about the Giants obtaining Johnson before:

… send Felix Rodriguez and a couple more prospects to the D’backs for Johnson. Sure, you’ll end up eating about, what, $8 million for the half season rental; but Johnson and Schmidt are absolutely powerful enough to give you the same championship chance that the Big Unit did when he was teamed up with Curt (I am too an asshole) Schilling in 2001.

… And I’ll say it again; it’s exactly the kind of move the Giants should be making with a chance to ride Bonds and Schmidt to a title. A Johnson/Schmidt tandem would be just as dominating (if not more) as the Johnson/Schilling pairing was in leading the D’backs to the promised land in 2001. Oh, and we have, in fact, traded away Felix. Only we got about ten percent of what we should have, I mean, come on, Ricky Ledee!?



…. Superman

Does anybody really understand the realm Barry Bonds has entered into? Does anyone really grasp what he is accomplishing? I sometimes wonder if anyone really does, because to go a day without mentioning his astonishing, mind-bending, death-defying greatness is to ignore the impossible.

Barry Bonds’ on-base percentage is over .600! Bonds gets on base 60% of the time he comes to the plate. The absurdity of that sentence is overshadowed by his impossible to comprehend 1.412 OPS! The deeper you look at what he is doing, the more laughable anyone arguing for so and so’s MVP candidacy looks.

Scott Rolen more valuable than Bonds? Please. Bonds runs created per 27 outs (20.3) is twice the number two man in the NL (Todd Helton, 10.65), and Helton plays half his games in Coors Field, which distorts his numbers to the point that Neifi Perez actually has a career.

Bonds had more intentional walks than the number two through nine men have combined!! Bonds overall numbers, .363/.610/.802 with a 1.412 OPS are simply mind-boggling, and he’s well on his way to 700 home runs in ’04. How anyone could think that Rolen’s 106 RBI in 423 at-bats counts for more than Bonds’ 76 RBI in 278 at-bats is beyond me.

Bonds’ numbers are so staggering, it’s quit possible (and highly probable) that he could lose the MVP to another player simply because the BBWAA decides it just has to give the award to someone else.



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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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