Archive for 2004
First off, let me say that the Giants needed a premier relief pitcher, and Benitez fits the bill. On that note, it’s a terrific signing. It’s hard to dispute the results put up by Benitez throughout his career (826 strikeouts in 654 innings), even given his oft-mentioned propensity for giving up dramatic home runs (of which he’s given up a fairly impressive 73 home runs in that 654 innings. Yikes!).
On a cynical note, it again seems that Sabean has outbid only himself, offering a three-year deal worth approximately twice what the pitcher was looking at from the team he pitched for last season, a one-year deal with an option for a second worth around $11 million. Why lock him in? Well, Benitez is 32-years old, essentially in his prime, he just had his best season ever, so Sabean can point to his need to stabilize a bullpen that could hardly have gone through a tougher season in ’04.
I will ponder this on the Tree of Woe, and have more to say about it later.
Great feedback on my last two posts. Sorry about the lack of writing, big doings in casa de’ Perricone lately.
Nonetheless…. the Nen deal was, along with the Alfonzo deal, one of the Giants’ big deal signings of the last several years. A headline-generating, damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of deal. As such, it is worth noting that, for whatever reason, neither deal was covered by insurance, as a tremendous number of today’s big-money contracts are. (All of the baseball sites out there have written about how hard it is to get insurance on any baseball contracts longer than three years, primarily because of the major hits insurance companies have taken in recent years due to these kinds of huge, backloaded deals being given to “veteran” players)
When Sabean decides to make these deals, he is putting it all on him, so to speak. Guy gets hurt, can’t play, “my bad,” says Sabean, and rightfully so. The only team I can remember offering Alfonzo a contract that didn’t insist on him passing a physical was the Giants. As for Vizquel, if the Indians were really going to offer him a two year, $20 million dollar contract (as noted at ESPN.com), do you really think a three-year deal for just two million more was enough?
Sabean loves veterans. I just think his love for the proven commodity has distorted to the point where he overpays for it, competing against nobody. It’s been written time and again how Tom Hicks overpayed for A-Rod, basically competing against himself. Well, I think Sabean is guilty of the same thing, in many of these instances. Who was going to give Reuter the kind of money we did? Who was going to give Alfonzo $25 million? Who was going to give Nen $30 million? Who was going to give Benard $10 million? Who was going to “steal” Snow from under Sabean’s nose and give him that $24 million dollars?
Steinbrenner and his minions are rightfully criticized for giving Vazquez the same deal Pettitte turned down, without his having thrown a single pitch for the Yanks. I think Sabean, coming from the Yankees some eight years ago, is guilty of the same kind of short-sighted approach. The Giants have a team of misfits surrounding Superman, none of which have come up through the Giants system. This is Sabean’s team, like it or not. Every position player but Bonds is his guy. Which one of the Giants starters would any team take off the Giants hands right now? Pierzynksi? Snow?
The Yankees have a group of players who are considered untradable because of their huge contracts, not because of their lack of talent. The Giants have a group of players who are equally untradable, but in their case it’s because their talent doesn’t match their paychecks, guys like Durham, Alfonzo, now Vizquel, last season it was Neifi, Reuter….
The song remains the same. I have been writing about the Giants for going on three seasons now. The same kind of mistakes keep on happening. Again, good and bad, Sabean is on the hook. For all the talk there is about how some of the deals have been under-rated, is there any doubt that if we had Giles in left-field (or anyone except Bonds) for the last ten seasons, Sabean would have lost his job long ago?
New friends over there in the Ticket Window. Scott says stop by and pick up your favorite team’s tix. I say, thanks for the support from Scott and all of my ticket vendors.
Over at El Lefty Malo, the boys have been running a position by position preview/analysis, (and doing a terrific job at it, by the way). Using some of the newest tools, they’ve come to the conclusion that the Giants would have to eat about $10 of the remaining $15.5 million Alfonzo is owed ($7.5 in ’05, $8 in ’06).
Without even looking, I’d agree with them on what I’ve seen the last two seasons, a player who seems to be a Livan-I’ll get in shape during spring training-type of player. That’s clearly up to each individual, how they decide to ready themselves for the season, but a player with a back injury history that doesn’t have the drive to remedy their situation…. Me, personally, I don’t have a spot on my team for that kind of player.
The contract Sabean gave him completely hamstrings the team, he is untradable, and he is one of the worst third baseman in the league. Oh well, add his deal to the list; now headlined by Rueter and Vizquel.
Just because it’s something I cannot forget, let me remind everyone that over the last six seasons, while the Giants have remained but one or two players from a championship year in and year out; they have paid out almost $100 million dollars for production that could have been had for something like 20 percent of that cost. This is a pattern of action that continues through today. No sooner do the Giants get out from under a bad contract, they are immediately under another. Finished with Snow and Benard’s horrible deals, [Bam!], Nen’s deal costs them two seasons. No sooner do they find themselves about to be finished with Nen’s deal, [Bam!] the Alfonzo and Reuter deals start to haunt them.
The sad part is that these were deals that did not have to be made, deals that were obviously huge risks the minute the ink was dry.
Overpaying for intangibles like veteran leadership or experience or toughness, while failing to aquire the reliever or hitter needed to make the next step towards a championship…. this is Sabean’s legacy to date.
If Bonds’ were a Yankee or a Cardinal these last ten seasons, Sabean would have been fired (with cause) long ago. Instead, we constantly read about how the Giants have been in contention the entire time he’s been the GM. That’s called happenstance, being in the right place at the right time. To attribute the Giants run of contention to anything but Bonds is a fools game.
Over at the SF Chronicle, you can read about how the Giants aren’t worried about going into the season with essentially the same outfield and infield, save Vizquel. Why? Because they can’t afford any of the players who would really make a difference, that’s why. Whose fault is that?
Barry Bonds won his unprecedented seventh MVP award today, his fourth in a row. He is the only player to win the award more than three times, the only player to win it more than two years in a row.
He set major league records for walks (232) intentional walks (120), on-base percentage (.609), and OPS (1.4217). Bonds now owns the single season marks in virtually every important category, including home runs (73), slugging (.863), on-base percentage, and OPS.
So the Giants have finally made a free agent splash, just not the kind that makes any sense. By signing the 37-year old Omar Vizquel to an amazingly generous, three-year, $12.25 million dollar deal, Brian Sabean has again demonstrated that he is the only person in the game who recognizes that baseball players don’t grow old, they only grow better. After the disastrous Neifi Perez deal, Sabean decided that two years for a washed up shortstop wasn’t enough. No, he wanted to make sure that the team was hamstrung for an extra year with this next deal.
Seriously, what the hell is going on with Sabean? Why would Deivi Cruz be unable to handle 130 or so games at short?
Vizquel is 37 and Cruz is 32. Their career OPS averages are almost identical. The Giants need to get younger and faster at virtually every position, and more importantly, they need pitching, pitching and more pitching, especially relievers. Instead, Sabean has thrown an additional $3 million dollars at shortstop, a position that the team has already adressed for the bargain price of $800,000. Once again, we can go through an off-season in which team after team signs free agent superstars, while we can read about how the Giants cannot afford to pick up a real baseball player at any position that they really need.
Marty at Across the Seams has a post on Neifi Perez’s defense. In it, he demonstrates that Perez is nothing like the best defender at his position (second or short), that Krukow, Alou and every other knucklehead would have you believe. This is not news to me, as I have derided the contract he was given (and given is the right word, as it amounted to a gift I wish I would see the likes of in my lifetime), essentially since he signed it.
He is not the best defender in the league, and as I have stated repeatedly, he’d have to have a vacuum at the end of each arm and one where his mouth is to justify 400 at-bats.
First, shortstop. Looking at guys with significant innings at the position (more than 300), Perez was behind Bill Hall, Jack Wilson, Rafael Furcal, Kaz Matsui, Wilson Delgado, and Felipe Lopez, and slightly ahead of Royce Clayton. In ZR, it’s worse, with Adam Everett, Cesar Izturis, Jose Vizcaino, Ramon Martinez, Alex Gonzalez, Wilson, Jimmy Rollins, Edgar Renteria, Delgado, Khalil Greene, Orlando Cabrera, and Craig Counsell ahead of him. Let’s try fielding percentage now. Deep breath: Larkin, Clayton, Rollins, Izturis, Cabrera, Renteria, Counsell, Garciaparra, Deivi Cruz, Wilson, Martinez, and Everett.
OK forget shortstop then. Let’s try second instead. He does much better here (300 innings minimum, which he barely makes). Neifi is first in fielding percentage, tied with Placido Polanco and Jamey Carroll. In range factor, he’s first by a wide margin over the second-place guy, Aaron Miles. It falls apart a bit in ZR, where he trails Jose Reyes, Chase Utley, Luis Castillo, Mark Grudzielanek, Matt Kata, Nick Green, Scott Hairston, D’Angelo Jimenez, Mark Loretta, Aaron Miles, Marcus Giles, Jeff Kent, Junior Spivey, Tony Womack, Alex Cora, and Todd Walker.
So there. But would he have been a better choice as a late-inning defensive replacement than Cody Ransom? Obviously. But you can’t have everything, and if Perez was bitching about sitting behind Deivi Cruz (who was only out-hitting him by about 400 OPS points), than he should have been released.
It’s taken me a few days to get myself ready to write about baseball, and the Giants again. A team that started so poorly (16-24 record out the gate), and then rallied so valiantly, (85-47, .643 winning percentage the rest of the way), in the end, fell one win short of the playoffs. Which horrible loss should we consider the season-destroyer? The 5-run lead to the Rockies? The grand slam walk-off by Finley? Or was it a win that derailed the Giants??
Oh well. Stay tuned for some season wrap up stuff shortly.
Sorry for the delay in writing about the end of the season. I was literally speechless at how the last two days unfolded. A promising season fell apart in the span of about twenty pitches, not unlike that fateful day two years ago, when I wrote:
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.
That about sums it up, no? The Dodgers rallied from a 5-0, ninth-inning deficit against the Rockies a week ago, and then pulled another rabbit out of their hat by coming up with 7 runs to ruin our season.
Magowan’s in the Chronicle saying they’ll rebound, but makes sure we know that we ain’t gonna get a big-time free agent of any kind. Thanks, Peter, for letting me know that I’m in for the same kind of torture next year.
It had to come to this, didn’t it? A team so flawed, so marginally successful; could hardly have been expected to follow a smooth progression to the promised land.
Alou had whittled his relief corps down to Brower, Eyre, and Hermanson except for the most dire circumstances; and all three had finally run out of gas, and once more, the bullpen exploded in our faces.
Blame Sabean, or more accurately, Magowan. Saving a million dollars here and there left Alou with no bench, no middle relief other than Jim Brower, and no margin for error (Thanks for the memories, Cody. Good luck at Safeway).
Tonight, it’s our former Cy Young candidate against the six-time winner, Roger Clemens, in two places at the same time. Do the Rockies have any of the balls left in them that led them to three devastating September wins against the Giants? I doubt it.
As for Barry, he reached base 3 times yesterday, and as many of you noted, his season total now stands at 375. He needs four today to tie the record, a possibility, but not much of one, as the Dodgers have no reason not to pitch to him now. The real chance lies in the one-game playoff, if the Giants can get there.