Archive for June, 2005
According to this Pinto post, the Giants have the worst record in baseball since May 9th. At 12-22 (actually, they are tied with Tampa Bay for that distinction, and I assume he counted their last two in a row). That is the worst stretch of baseball for the Giants since I’ve been a fan of the team, and certainly the worst since I’ve been writing about them.
Here’s what I wrote on May 9th:
…. Without Bonds, the team has done about as well as expected, with the exception of two key pitchers; Benitez, and Schmidt. Benitez hardly matters anymore, but Schmidt does. Even though the team has managed to win 5 of Schmidt’s 7 starts this season, his struggles have forced Alou to use the bullpen quite a bit more than he’d like. Schmidt is averaging about 6 innings per start since the groin injury, he averaged around 8 before it. This means that his start is no longer the day Alou can count on to give the bullpen a break. With Benitez gone, and Alou already leading the league in pitching changes, these guys are gonna be cooked by the time the All-Star break arrives. In fact, some of them are cooked already.
Brower can do nothing right, all the new guys Sabean has called up have been repulsive, Herges is ready for a padded room…. And now we hear that the team is “freaking out” over all of the Bonds’ bullshit being put out by these so-called “journalists.” I don’t know that I believe that either, but it hardly matters. 15-15 ain’t the end of the world, and it ain’t 16-24 (yet). There’s still time to turn this season around. As it stands right now, it’s on the pitchers, it’s on Schmidt, and it’s on Righetti.
12-22 since then means that they haven’t done the job very well, wouldn’t you say? Three pitchers on the roster that day are gone, one new one’s been added, and nothing’s changed at all. They’ve held their opponents to three runs or less just 9 times during that stretch, they’ve allowed 7 or more runs 13 times, and overall, they’ve allowed 186 runs in the 34 games they’ve played, 5.47 runs per game.
No team can win when allowing that kind of production, and the Giants are (obviously) no exception. Seven games back in the loss column, the rest of the division hasn’t run away, and Bonds could be back before the All Star break….
I’ll get excited when they get back to .500, if they can.
Seriously, what an outstanding job by the backtalkers. 39 for the Jeter column, obviously enhanced by my radio appearance, but still, awesome. Here’s a couple worth noticing:
….. jeter is great at short stop and moving him will probably make him an okay player and lower the team moral hello he is the captain.
… OK for one, Jeter just one his gold glove yes probably because a-rod is at third, but I give them til next year where you will see A-rod accustomed to third and they both will win a gold glove at there position…..jeter just made an amazing play last night geeez you guys can really hit them when there down but you watch being only 6.5 games out the yankees will turn this arround, guys there’s 100 games left for christ’s sake.
…. Is it just me, or do quite a few of these comments seem to be written by the same Yankee fan?
Or do all Yankee fans have the same issues with spelling, grammar and capitalization?
…. It amazes me that players earning so much money can’t be played wherever the manager decides. Jeter as the captain should be suggesting the change for the good of the team.
…. Perricone must have quit steroids along with Bonds because his brain has shrunk to the same degree as Barry’s biceps and Giambi’s batting average. Perricone’s solution is like Adolf Hitler’s big lie theory. Tell a lie so ridiculous that people believe its true because nobody would have the chutzpah to make up such a ridiculous lie. …. Wow deep man. You San Francisco dudes are so alternative.
Those are the laugh-out-loud funny ones. And here’s one that deserves a smack upside the head:
…. You sports show people think you’re scouts. So do baseball fans who call in to talk shows. This is the reason that I usually don’t listen or pay attention to them. What do the scouts have to say. Matsui in center is better that moving everyone over and acquiring Egardo Alfonso. I remember the 1978 season very well how the Yankees weren’t going to win it from all the sports shows talk shows and their callers. The season is not over yet!!! The Yankes were 14 and a half games back at the end of July. The 69 Mets were 13 games back in June. The 1951 Giants were 13 and a half games back in July of ’51. Why don’t you talk to scouts first before you air something like this.
Uh, Ralph, I don’t talk to “scouts” because I’m not a journalist or work for MLB or care what “scouts” have to say. This is my site, and I write what I think. I think that Jeter would be well-suited for a move to center. I think that a move like this would be the exact kind of shakeup the Yankees need, and it would strengthen and improve three positions in one fell swoop. There is no question that the Yankees’ “scouts” think that Jeter is an awesome shortstop, but they are virtually alone in the world of baseball in thinking that. In the sabermetric world, Jeter is just this shy of universally regarded as a mediocre defensive player, and as Mark B. pointed out, “just past a diving Jeter” has become a cliche’.
Oh, and if the “scouts” think that Matsui is a better option in center than the younger, faster, and miles better athlete the Yankees have as an option in Derek Jeter, the “scouts” should be fired. As they should if they are walking around telling people in the Yankee organization that Jeter’s a better shortstop than A-Rod. My idea is hardly new, or even mine. Out here in the internet world, guys have been suggesting it since A-Rod got to NY.
To write about it now might be considered timely, since the breakdown in the up-the-middle defense for the Yankees is hurting the pitching staff right now, in this (so far) lost season; of this there can be no doubt. Williams or Matsui, Womack, Lofton, (or anyone else they’ve trotted out there the last two seasons) have been abysmal. Slow, no arm, no instincts, nothing. It’s been killing them, for at least a season and a half. The Yankees have allowed the fifth most hits in baseball, and the fourth most road doubles (Yankee Stadium typically depresses doubles, they were sixth last year on the road as well). Put a better defender in center and a better defender at short and a better defender at third, and those numbers would have to change.
Sure it’s a longshot, asking Uber-Yankee Derek Jeter to change positions. But don’t tell me the idea doesn’t have merit. It clearly has merit, it’s an idea that has received support from literally dozens of respected baseball writers, journalists, and commentators, internet and otherwise.
Is it too late for the Giants? Last night’s 8-4 win over the Minnesota Twins was like a breath of fresh air, it’d been so long since the pitching staff was able to hold a lead. But a win is just a win. A season is built upon a system of producing runs while stopping your opponent from doing so. The Giants don’t seem poised to build upon their their third win in their last ten games.
On the road, the Giants have scored 120 runs in 28 games, 4.3 runs per game, which isn’t all that bad. They’ve hit 26 home runs, and posted a solid .275/.335/.420 .755 OPS line, which, again, isn’t too bad. But they’ve allowed 151 runs in those 28 games, well over 5 runs a game, and their opponents have hit 35 home runs, and posted a much more impressive .288/.381/.461 .822 OPS line, which is, of course, why they have won just 11 of their 28 road games (which, by the way, is exactly what they should have won, using James’ Pythagorean formula for expected wins).
So there is no silver lining for us to cling to here. Bad breaks notwithstanding, the Giants aren’t under-performing and are somehow ready to explode, unless you believe the pitchers have been seeing their best pitches beaten for home runs and doubles for most of the first 60 games, (yeah, right). This is a team that has accumulated just 26 wins to date, a total that is bested by all but three teams in the entire league, and by all but one team in the NL.
The fact that only the soon to be finding a new home Colorado Rockies have fewer wins than the Giants tells us all we need to know. There is no, “Gee, has any team come back to win a title after being 9 games back on June 16th?” The Giants have the second fewest wins in the entire league. 11 teams have at least 30 wins, and four teams are at least ten wins better. Ten wins back is a lot, at any point in the season.
Over the last four seasons, Barry Bonds has done more to help his team win than any player in the history of baseball. If the Giants were to get a half season of Bonds at his very best, I would still have very little hope that it will be enough. ’05 is all but lost, right now, as things stand. Schmidt’s complete collapse was, in fact, the straw that broke the camel’s back. If he was 10-2 right now, the Giants would probably be right around .500, and that would be enough of a difference. He’s not, they’re not, and Bonds is gonna need to wear a cape to save this season.
UPDATE: Reader James Wang posits an interesting concept:
…. Let’s all hope Sabean really does read OBM. He’ll realize that he’s bringing up Team Fresno to fill jobs in 2006 and 2007, and not just to fill injury gaps here and there. Most everyone knows that the Giants season is over.
I don’t expect Sabean to wave the white flag in public, but he has stated to the papers that he is not giving up on 2005. Even more relevant is the Hawkins trade, which is yet another short-term, high risk, and expensive acquisition through the end of next year. This is hardly part of any rebuilding project.
Listening to KNBR a couple weeks ago, the defense of the Hawkins trade came from Peter Magowan, claiming that the deal was not giving up on the future because Hawkins will be penciled-in as next year’s setup man…. um, excuse me?!? I didn’t hear this out of Sabean or Colletti until two days later, when they parrotted the same exact statement.
John Manuel of Baseball America stated that he believes that Magowan is the one who is completely sold on ‘Veterans and pitching prospects instead of good young players’ strategy. Manuel went on to say that even if Sabean or anyone else wanted to change strategy that Magowan would nix the idea outright.
This all makes me think that Magowan is actually in charge of player acquisition strategy and has final sign off on all deals. This is especially frightening, since just firing Sabean wouldn’t be the solution.
This is an interesting angle, since it would both explain some of the strange moves that the Giants have made, while at the same time, would be easy to explain. Someone like Magowan would have some very interesting ideas about what works and what doesn’t, coming into baseball cold like he and his partners did.
And what was the first big deal of Magowan’s tenure as owner? The Bonds signing. Something like that, (arguably the best free agent signing ever), might give somebody the idea that they’d stumbled on some secret formula that everyone else is overlooking. Add in the Ellis Burks signing, Livan Hernandez, Robb Nenn, JT Snow, Jeff Kent, Reuter, I mean, the Giants have made some very good prospects for ‘veterans’ trades as well as some damn impressive free agent signings; as opposed to the A’s development strategy. Not recently, but there is a hell of a track record over the last decade or so. Maybe it is Magowan, and he’s so sold on the idea that Sabean has been relegated to mouthpiece status.
But remember, Sabean re-upped recently, something a lame duck beard isn’t likely to be so enthusiastic about.
For those of you who’d care to hear me as opposed to reading me, you can at this link to Sportsbloggers Radio. I get to talk about four minutes in. I listened to myself, and it sure is weird.
Discuss amongst yourselves.
I’m going to be on the radio tonight. Jamie Mottram, of AOL Sports Bloggers Live, has invited me to talk about, (of all things), my Derek Jeter to centerfield post. My segment will be for a few minutes at 7:08 pm, Eastern Standard.
Hope everyone gets a chance to tune in.
I’m sorry about the Yankees coverage yesterday, but I simply cannot bring myself to watch and write about the Giants right now. They are so flat, playing so poorly, that it hurts my head. I turned on the game about five minutes late yesterday, and was amazed and disgusted to see that Schmidt had already allowed a run. Watched the Giants get mowed down in the first, and then Schmidt allowed yet another home run to some guy….
Meanwhile, the hitters are acting like they can’t get back to playing (bad) defense soon enough, I must have counted five first-pitch outs before I just went outside to play with some of my new tools (hmmmm…. Nail Gun).
What am I supposed to say about this team right now? Schmidt continues pitching into oblivion, no one can hit, more bad defense, outside of Ellison there is not one guy I couldn’t beat in a race….
I’ll ask again, how in the hell can Schmidt go from Cy Young to an ERA over 6.00 without being injured? HOW CAN THAT BE?
The only hitters alive in June are Ellison, Neikro, Alou, and maybe Tucker. And the pitching is…. well, this is the worst team pitching performance since I’ve been covering the team. A 2-8 record in June is hardly the beginning. The entire staff is allowing 1.85 baserunners per inning, an absurd, astonishing, horrible total. It’s great to see LaTroy Hawkins has quickly fit right in with the rest of these so-called relievers, allowing a stunning 10 baserunners in 3 innings of work. Lowry has pitched twice, and allowed 20 baserunners in 9 2/3 innings of work. Reuter has also started twice and allowed 19 hits in 9 and a third innings. Brower has allowed 13 baserunners in 7 innings, Fassero has allowed 18 baserunners in 8….
The Giants pitching staff has allowed 159 baserunners in 86 innings so far this month, including 9 home runs and just 52 strikeouts in 360 at-bats. Opponents have put up a staggering, MVP-like .339/.399/.519 .918 OPS line, with 39 extra-base hits and 72 runs scored, while the Giants hitters have run out a .278/.321/.406 .727 OPS line (not too bad, actually) but have managed to score only 38 runs.
How the hell is this team going to win some games? What could possibly spark this team to win something like 70 of it’s last 100 games and make the playoffs? Bonds? If he hits in three lineup spots maybe. I’ll tell you this, if Bonds comes back and the Giants finish even one game over .500 (which would require taking a .400 team and turning it into a .600 team down the stretch), he should win the MVP again, and they should name it after him.
UPDATE: New reader Nick raises a dangerous-sounding question, but one I can’t completely disregard:
…. I’ve been reading this blog daily for about 3 months and have noticed that you seem very optimistic about Bonds not only returning but returning to his prior form. I just can’t see that happening.
I’m starting to really think a large part of the Giants team was on BALCO’s clientele list. Schmidt is the one that worries me the most. It just seems like 5 days rest isn’t enough for him anymore and the juice would have helped his arm recover faster. Secondly, Schmidt wasn’t an acclaimed pitcher until he arrived in SF, which adds more suspicion. The only player on the Giants have who’s actually done better since the steroid “scandal” has made headlines is Alfonzo, and it looks like all it took was for him to lay off the double baco cheeseburgers and drop some weight.
It’s sad times for Giants fans, I’ll say that much. I’m with the rest of the crew who thinks that Sabean is a worthless piece of junk. He’s been riding the wave from his two good trades in a freakin’ decade and his poor moves are starting to oversh(adow) his flukes.
I have a real hard time with unfounded speculation, it’s something I’ve been very critical of the mainstream media for doing. However, saying that you know someone has used PED’s (without any hard evidence), or that someone’s accomplishments are tainted because you or most people believe that they have, is decidedly different from asking the informed question:
Is Jason Schmidt’s falloff due to his having stopped using PED’s?
How we would answer that question seems obvious to me. We’d look at the record of what he’s done, before and after the testing program started, and then was strengthened, which is what would obviously have prompted him to go off the juice.
A quick glance at the last three and a third seasons is informative:
2002 185.1 IP 148 H 71 ER 15 HR 73 BB 196 SO 3.45 ERA .619 OPS allowed 1.19 WHIP
2003 207.1 IP 152 H 54 ER 14 HR 46 BB 208 SO 2.34 ERA .564 OPS allowed .956 WHIP
2004 225.0 IP 165 H 80 ER 18 HR 77 BB 251 SO 3.20 ERA .593 OPS allowed 1.17 WHIP
2005 60.1 IP 65 H 41 ER 8 HR 36 BB 59 SO 6.12 ERA .810 OPS allowed 1.68 WHIP
And there’s the end of the debate. In the three seasons since the beginning of the drug testing program, (2002 being the season in which they did the anonymous survey testing), Schmidt, if he indeed had stopped using PED’s, got better, not worse. And if you subtracted the numbers from the end of last season from where he was when he injured his groin…. well, let’s look at the comparison again:
2004 pre-groin injury 196.2 IP 123 H 53 R 60 BB 193 SO 2.53 ERA .933 WHIP
’04-05 post-groin injury 110.2 112 H 70 ER 53 BB 107 SO 5.73 ERA 1.50 WHIP
Seems to me that either one of only a couple of possibilities exists; he came back too soon, screwed up his mechanics and he and Righetti haven’t gotten him back yet, or he came back too soon and injured himself and the team either doesn’t know that he is, or they aren’t disclosing the injury.
I can’t think of another issue that would explain this type of breakdown. He’s allowed almost as many walks in just a bit more than half as many innings. He’s still not had a game score over 78 or a double digit strikeout game in his last twenty starts. Look at the change in his ERA, it’s more than double! He’s still striking guys out, so you have to at least wonder if it’ possible that he’s just pitching in bad luck for something. But a quick glance at the BP stats page shows Schmidt as deserving a 2-5 record instead of 3-3. The walks aren’t bad luck.
No, I don’t see bad luck. Last night he was missing by a foot or more, many, many times. He had that one stretch where he struck out 5 in a row, and they were real strikeouts. His fastball was crackling, his pitches were down and moving and he was blowing people away. Trying for six in a row, he walked a the leadoff hitter in the fourth(?), was betrayed by Ellison’s terrible gaff in center, and fell apart. Line drive, Torrealba lunging for pitches a foot or more from the target.
Mechanics? That’s what I think it is. Wish I knew how to fix it.
David Pinto was talking about Joe Torre and the Yankees poor play today, and wondered what Torre had left in his bag of tricks with Bombers floundering. Is Torre doing everything he can to get this team to perform? In a word, no.
Derek Jeter is not the team’s best option at short, it’s time for Torre to ask Derek to switch to centerfield for the good of the team. If George -freakin- Bamberger could ask Robin Yount to make a move like that, then Torre certainly can ask Derek to do the same. Like Yount, Jeter is a one-time Gold Glover at short. Like Yount, Jeter has the speed and the instincts to make the move. And like Yount, Jeter had some injury problems in the infield (both missed about 40 games in their age 29 season) that would be alleviated by a switch to the outfield.
He could then put A-Rod back where he belongs, as the best shortstop in the game, and upgrade two positions offensively and defensively (only the two most important positions on the field, by the way). Put Johnson in at third until you figure out where you’re gonna get a real one (send Wang to the Giants for Feliz or Alfonzo!)
If Giambi can’t or won’t go down to Triple AAA, then bench him, he’s showing no signs of coming out of his funk, (.211/.348/.263 .611 OPS in June), Bernie Williams is worse, 4 hits in his last 24 at-bats (.167 BA), and Sheffield worse than him(!), with 4 hits in his last 29 at-bats (.138 BA). Ruben Sierra just about has to be the everyday DH, and even though Tino has hit the wall, his defense demands he plays every day at first (.143/.182/.190 .372 OPS in June).
Put Matsui back in right, Sheff in left, get Womack back to the bench where he belongs, and give Posada some time off, he’s exhausted and not hitting. His lineup card should be simple:
You can pinch run with Womack, if you need a speedy guy to replace one of these ancient and/or glacially slow baserunners, you’ve got a switch-hitting Williams and a slugging Giambi as pinch-hitters for Johnson, Posada, and/or Martinez.
By asking Jeter to move to the outfield, you’re guaranteed to shakeup the team in a way that no meeting could ever do, and you’d also make the team better by improving your defense up the middle, something these batting practice pitchers surely would appreciate. You’d strengthen your bench as well, and relax some of your guys who are playing out of position (Sheffield, Matsui, A-Rod).
The only manager who has the balls and the power to ask Jeter to make a move like this would be Torre, who occupies a position in the game of almost unparalleled popularity and respect. You gotta do something, it might as well be something dramatic. And it would work.
The horrible, inept Kansas City Royals handed the Giants a royal beating, immediately ending any hope of a home field rejuvenation. After the 8-1 loss, the Giants find themselves 9 games out of first place, 8 games under .500, and almost completely out of options, possibilities, silver linings, hope, pitching, hitting, confidence, or a spark of any kind.
It is time to get younger. It is time to sit the old guys for a week or two, and let the younger guys make mistakes, screw up, and/or help save the season or end it. Cruz, Neikro, Ellison and Torrealba need to play everyday, because the ‘veterans’ Sabean put together are flat-out disgusting right now. Of course, our geriatric manager has paid little attention to giving his retirement home-bound charges the rest they’ve needed as evidenced by the flatlining Giants offense.
Over the last 30 days, Alfonzo has a .333 slugging percentage, Vizquel’s is .317, Matheny’s is .373, Snow’s is .313, Tucker’s is .270, Grissom’s is .200. These are their slugging percentages?! During that time, Ellison is intent on proving that he belongs, posting a robust .278/.323/.467 with 8 doubles and 3 home runs. Pedro Feliz has leveled out (.221/.247/.349), but Neikro has stayed strong (.302/.339/.566). Torrealba has struggled playing every fifth day, give him a week or more in a row and see if he can get hot.
I mean, really, at this point, who the hell cares? The team is floundering. Play anybody. The guys not in the lineup could hardly be worse.
On the bright side, reader Jim Adams is keeping track of Mike ~ Run Saver ~ Matheny’s progress.
Giants’ 2005 ERA with Matheny catching: 5.24
Giants’ 2005 ERA with Torrealba catching: 3.89
Matheny’s throwing record: 31 SBs allowed, 12 CS
Torrealba’s throwing record: 4 SBs, 7 CS
Interestingly, no one mentioned trading Bonds. Of all the players the Giants have, he is the one guy who could actually be a difference maker, a sort of Herschel Walker kinda deal generator for the right idiot/GM.
I’m not against trading Schmidt, but you could hardly pick a worse time to do it. Sometime prior to his groin injury would have been just right. Since then, he’s like 4-14 with a huge ERA. I am amazed, by the way, at how slim his margin for error really is. It’s one thing for a guy like Reuter to have no ability to miss his pitches by an inch or two. But Schmidt? The guy is throwing a buzzing 92 MPH and more fastball when he’s off, and it’s getting lit up like a roman candle. I mean, can’t he go from Cy Young candidate to just one of the better pitchers in the league? No, he’s gotta displace Tomko as one of the biggest disappointments in the NL West.
Anyway, Vernon Wells. He makes $3 million per, is 26 years old, plays a decent center field, and has put up a 162 game average that looks like this:
97 R 181 H 39 2B 27 HR 94 RBI 42 BB 88 SO 9 SB 3 CS .285/.330/.484 .814 OPS
This season, he’s hitting home runs, but his batting average (and pretty much everything else) is quite low, (.243/.298/.463 .761 OPS) which is why Kent feels that he is underrated, (obviously). He’s a career 30 for 40 stealing bases, (which doesn’t make me feel all warm, but perhaps the Blue Jays have never asked him to run), he hits a lot of doubles (park effect?), and would immediately become the Giants second best player.
But who would we use to get him? Ellison and a bag of money? Ellison and Reuter? Ellison and Tomko? Ellison and Feliz? I’m sure if Toronto is unhappy with him, somthing like that might look good to Toronto, except that none of the guys we’re offering make a sabermetric GM like Ricciardi feel like answering the phone, so…..
How do you get him?
Maybe we could trade Schmidt for Soriano and a couple of pitching prospects or four, Hicks is not gonna want to give Alfonso $10 million per after this year, but then again, neither is Sabean. Help?!
Oh, and to add insult to injury, Neifi Perez has the 14th best batting average in all of baseball right now, running out a completely ridiculous .325/.345/.483 .833 OPS, and in case you were wondering if Wrigley helps your stats, at home he’s batting a flat-out incomprehensible .390/.408/.590 .998 OPS. Oh, and he’s got 7 home runs and 26 RBI, both of which would rank third on the Giants today.
After splitting today’s doubleheader, the Giants return home from a disgusting 1-5 road trip 9 games back of the Padres. Ugly.
Trade bait has been the topic amongst the backtalkers, so here goes:
Alfonzo – untradeable, move him to second
Feliz – perhaps the most valuable Giant, as far as trade value
Snow – BBBBUUUUUUAAAAAahahahahahahahahaha
Matheny – ditto
Grissom – double ditto
Durham – Who in their right mind would trade for an expensive, hamstring and groin injury-prone base stealing leadoff man who can’t stay in the lineup, oh, and who plays a key defensive position poorly?
Torrealba – tradeable, maybe even for some real value
Ellison – Sabean must be thinking about trading him now, before he comes back to earth
Niekro – ditto
Reuter – Who in their right mind would want Reuter? Old, overpaid, operates on a razor-thin margin of error…. Your standards of excellence would have to be pretty low for a 35-year old pitcher with 2 wins in 11 starts, sporting a 4.27 ERA while striking out but 14(!) batters in 65 innings is considered doing well enough to be worth something to you in a trade
Tomko – Has trade value, too much to trade
Tucker – No value
Vizquel – Has value
Lowry – Has value, too much to trade
Cruz – Has value
I can’t think of another pitcher that would be worth even a Ricky Ledee, so where are we? The players who I think are most likely to be traded are….
Neikro and Feliz
Second most likely group would have to be….
Vizquel or Cruz
Swing away, boys.
UPDATE: It’s June 6th, 2005. OBM’s official three year anniversary. Some of you may be wondering why, if you go to my June 2002 archives, it shows the first post as the 14th. I lost the first 8 days of OBM due to a glitch with Blogger and had to re-post it all on the 14th. Anyway…. some time today, I will have my 400,000th visitor. Amazing. I want to take this moment to thank everyone who has been a part of this great run. I never dreamed I would be doing this for three years, or would have had so many people be a part of it. Thanks to you all, for stopping by, for taking the time to listen to what I have to say, or to talk back to me, for pinning my guestmap, sending me emails, and just everything that has made OBM such a terrific part of my life.
Without you, I’d be a loudmouth screaming in a closet. Hmmmmm…. I think I just found the slogan for my T-shirts.