Archive for August, 2005

…. Talk talk, ad infinitum

Reading this story, one might get the impression that Felipe Alou seems to think his inability to communicate with his players is funny; and Brian Sabean seems to think communicating with his players is not part of his job description.

…. I was trying to figure out how I was going to get through the rest of my dinner,” Tomko said. “Rags called me, and we had a two-minute conversation. That’s all I got out of it. I haven’t talked to (Felipe) Alou. I haven’t talked to Sabean. It’s interesting to me that the manager wouldn’t even come tell me what he’s thinking.”

To that, Alou smiled, pointed toward himself, and poking fun at his own clubhouse reputation, said, “Bad communicator here.”

Sabean said: “What’s to communicate? He’s been in the game a long time. If he doesn’t understand what’s going on, he needs to look at himself. I’m not going to worry about what his feelings are and how we communicate. I don’t think at this stage of his career I, or anybody else, needs to hold his hand. Whether he’s in denial or not is his business.”

Yeah, well, I don’t agree with either sentiment. Here we’ve got a team with almost the entire pitching staff having career-worst performances (notwithstanding Noah Lowry’s awesome August), and several members of that staff are now complaining in the media that they have been in the dark as to the intentions and/or needs of management, which of course means that management has been in the dark as to the intentions and/or needs of the pitchers.

That means that management has a responsibility towards its players that isn’t being met. As much as it is the players responsibility to prepare themselves to meet their job requirements, (i.e., stay in shape, get plenty of rest, etc.), management also has responsibilities. You could say that a primary job of the manager is to put the players in the best position to win. In fact, both the manager and the general manager share this responsibility. Put the players in the best position to win.

Have the two men charged with running the day to day doings of the Giants put these players in the best possible position to win? I hardly see how you could answer yes to that question. Building a roster with the oldest players in major league history, virtually guaranteeing a slow, injury-prone defense, could hardly be considered a recipe for pitching success. Asking players like Alfonzo and Snow to provide offensive firepower could hardly be considered putting them in position to win. Making one pitching change after another, slowing the pace of the game down to a crawl and instilling nothing but fear of failure in your pitchers, well, I’ve already written about that.

Sure, I know it’s “up to the players.” It’s always up to the players, I don’t need Alou to tell me that. But a clearly defined plan of action put forth by management and then followed through on allows the players to organize their approach to their jobs in such a way that they are able to maximize their efforts. Is it tough to have a game plan when your stars are hurt? Absolutely. There is no question that the major injuries the Giants have been beset by were unfortunate and contributed to the disorganization of this season.

But there is also no question that Sabean and Alou should have had contingency plans in place for just such events. When you are listening to Sabean and Alou with their snappy comebacks about how this player or that player should just “buckle up and be a man,” or “don’t they see how tough things are around here,” never forget that having a 35-year old miss significant time due to injury is nothing at all like having a 25-year old do so. Never forget that having essentially every pitcher on your roster miss time due to overwork and injury is not bad luck, it’s bad managing. It’s not the players fault they are overworked and misused, it’s the managers. It’s not the players fault that they are being asked to produce what they cannot, it’s the general managers.

UPDATE: It’s a different sport, but this Len Pasquarelli piece on the three-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots illustrates exactly how Sabean and Alou are missing the point:

…. And the organization, in an era when longevity with the same team has been replaced by a lure of the big paycheck, manages to engender loyalty in its players. Most of the all, though, the Patriots succeed because the trinity of owner Bob Kraft, Belichick and vice president of personnel Scott Pioli has perfected a paradigm which marries football and finances.

…. Such synergy, at least under the current system, has proved elusive for most teams. But the potion so difficult for other franchises to concoct has been an elixir for the Patriots in the past half-decade. Somehow, the Patriots have gotten the players to buy into the business of winning more so than the business of big bucks.

They have turned a simple philosophy — that winning benefits everyone — into the closest thing the NFL has to a dynasty under this collective bargaining agreement. It is a concept that has a surprisingly effective appeal, and one with results to reinforce it. It is, in a word, efficient.

“They pretty much look you in the eye, tell you how you’re going to fit in and what they expect from you, what you’re going to mean for the team,” said star strong safety Rodney Harrison. “You’d be surprised how easy they make it to buy into that. So you’re sitting there thinking, ‘Well, maybe I can make more money if I go somewhere else. But, man, I’d love to get me a [Super Bowl] ring.’ And suddenly, it all makes sense, and you want to be here.”

When the Patriots brought Harrison to town two years ago after his release by the San Diego Chargers, he was on the verge of signing with the Oakland Raiders for more money. Poised to agree to terms with the Raiders but sensing the deal would still be on the table, Harrison figured he had nothing to lose by listening to Belichick’s sales rap. He ended up winning two Super Bowl rings because he heeded the logic articulated by the New England coach.

It isn’t as if Belichick, the reigning genius of this era, is a pied piper. But players savvy enough to peruse the Patriots’ recent track record for reclamation projects, and for being able to enunciate roles for lesser-known veterans still seeking validation for their careers, have certainly reaped the benefits.

“I think we’re honest [with players],” said Belichick. “If you work hard, play hard and play well, and do the things that are asked of you, then you’re going to fit in here.”

Said (CB Duane) Starks, a once-brilliant coverage defender whose recent career has been plagued by injuries, but who has witnessed what Harrison and players like cornerback Tyrone Poole accomplished by moving to New England: “It’s like they don’t do anything without a plan for you. There’s no wasted effort, no wasted energy here, it seems. I guess, yeah, they really are efficient in how they do things. They know what they want from you. They know what they’re willing to pay to have you come in and do it. And it seems like, if you don’t want to do it, they’ll find someone else who will.”

…. “There’s a kind of tunnel vision here,” (LB Monty) Beisel said. “They want you to put blinders on, to not notice those three [Super Bowl] trophies, to just worry about winning the next one. But part of the reason some of us are here is because of those trophies. I mean, you can’t help but be aware of them, and of what this organization has accomplished. It’s a very streamlined mind-set around here. Everyone is here for one purpose.”

Sabean overpays mediocrity to come to SF, while the Pats actually underpay for talent because of their ability to communicate effectively. Get it?

…. What the hell is going on here?

The constant hand-wringing and “woe is baseball’s” over Rafael Palmeiro’s failed drug test is driving me nuts. Driving with my Dad, who picked me up at JFK yesterday morning, I had the misfortune of listening to ESPN’s Mike & Mike show on 1050 AM. Let me just say that I have hardly heard a more impressively uninformed and idiotic bunch of bullshit in my whole life.

Listen, as David Pinto pointed out so eloquently yesterday, you cannot erase, alter or expunge the baseball record books:

…. What, by the way, are we erasing the statistics from? Does Palmeiro not get an Encyclopedia entry? Are they deducted from the Texas Rangers stats? Do we take wins away from the Baltimore Orioles? Do the pitchers who faced him get their ERAs lowered? The stats are there. They happened. You can’t erase them. The best you can do is remove him from official lists of leaders. I wish people who said things like this actually thought about what it meant.

And even removing his name from the official list of the leaders is fraught with difficulties. There are no “official baseball lists” of anything. Baseball doesn’t manage its statictical records, many organizations, authors and sources do; and as anyone who knows anything about baseball history at all knows, there are several versions of the facts available depending on which source you use.

Standing in a closet, yelling to myself, I will once again remind everyone that steroid use by anyone prior to 2002 was not against any baseball rules, and today, as I write this, amphetamine use is still not. Frank Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, virtually any baseball “hero” you (or they, themselves) remember or imagine as being so noble, virtuous or perfect, were nothing more than men, flawed and complex; and virtually anyone playing the game of baseball throughout it’s long and hallowed history did in fact avail himself of every single possible edge he could get his hands on to excel, legal, risky or otherwise. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous at best, and dishonest and sanctimonious at worst.

Frank Robinson is obviously disappointed to find himself sliding down the career home run list. But to sit there and try to hold on to the fourth spot by that the players who have passed him may or may not have used steroids is beyond absurd, not to mention sad.

….”I wish I had stayed fourth. It’s a nice ring to it. You’re up there with the elite. You’re up there with the top guys in baseball, but as you slip people have a tendency to ignore you or forget about you. It’s not a nice ring, 11th or 12th. We think of maybe top 10, but even in the home run category we’ve never thought about 10. It’s always basically top five because there was such a gap. Fourth. Fourth. Fourth. I kind of got used to that. And now fifth, it just sounds a little odd.”

Get over it, Mr. Robinson. You are a member of the Hall of Fame, one of the all-time greats, and you will always be remembered as such. If you continue your current nonsensical ranting, you will also be remembered as a idiotic, whining crybaby. Records are meant to be broken.

No one complained about the enormous difference in the offensive totals that the players in the 1930′s produced. Up until the offensive explosion of 1995, virtually all of the single-season offensive records came from that era. Bill James exposed the myth in The Historical Baseball Abstract; “Either on has to conclude that all of the greatest players in history played in the 1930′s, or some adjustment has to be made for the statistical records from that era. Ok, so now baseball has had two offensive era’s. It hasn’t only been because of the few players who used steroids. It’s been the baseball, the smaller ballparks, expansion, weight-training…. it’s been all of those things.

You cannot change what has happened. You cannot delete players, statistics, accomplishments, or records. Palmeiro, McGwire, Canseco, Camminitti, Bonds, Sosa, all of these players’ accomplishments have been recast under the spectre of cheating,regardless of the fact that only Palmeiro was actually cheating when, (or if) they did use whatever performance enhancing agents of any kind; and their legacies have been damaged as a result. History (and sanctimonious baseball writers) will never let us forget that they had the misfortune of playing during an era in which sense and sensibility were forgotten, and hyperbole and accusation were the norm.

It’s funny, while baseball players endure a never-ending litany of questions and investigations into whether they have cheated, the criminals running our government are apparently immune from any and all questions of propriety while they rob us blind. Anyone notice that while we are at war with one of the top oil producing countrues in the world, (a war that has made the weapons and war machinery industry very, very wealthy, by the way) gas prices have skyrocketed. Why is that? How come the company the Vice President used to work for, Haliburton, has been awarded something like a quarter of a billion dollars in non-competitive construction work in Irag? What about the exploitation of our natural resources, the disempowering of the EPA, corporate greed and criminal behavior?

Nobody seems to think these questions are all that important, especially in Congress; but everyone sure seem to think it’s important that Barry Bonds has big muscles.

…. Cream of Wheat?

OK, so maybe my last post wasn’t as clear as I’ d wanted.

No, I don’t think Alou is doing much to help the Giants win. In point of fact, I have wondered (I’m not looking it up, but it’s there, some two months ago) whether he’s doing more harm than good with the staff. I also consider Righetti a suspect in the complete failure of virtually the entire pitching staff.

All I was trying to say yesterday is that it hardly matters anymore, but in fact, that’s not true at all. It does matter. The way Alou is running these guys in and out certainly does contribute to their ineffectiveness. His unwillingness to handle the modern athlete with the care and attention that he demands has to be considered part and parcel of the culture of failure and losing that envelops this team right now.

When he was hired after 2002, I felt that he was the right guy for the job (many of you may not remember that I was the first to suggest Alou as Baker’s replacement). Looking at his work over the last 400 games or so, I think it’s fair to ask whether he still is.

The Giants have one last hurrah before Bonds retires, maybe two. If Sabean is going to reload with more veterans (and by veterans, I mean, old pieces of crap), than by all means, he might as well have Alou finish his current contract, which I believe runs through ’07. Alou’s style of letting men be men and not coddling and/or talking to and listening to their problems, concerns or needs will work fine with 35-year olds.

But when the time comes that the Giants decide to actually allow some young players to play, without the pressure of having to never fail or make any mistakes, then Sabean (or whoever’s running the team by then) will need to look for someone to take the team into the 21st century.

Until then, we are stuck with Alou, and I agree with the lunatic fringe, regardless of talent, it almost certainly won’t succeed. Using four or five pitchers to get the last six outs of a game is a poor stratgey, one that does more to insulate the manager from having to answer questions of whether or not he did all he could to win, and less to insure that the team actually does win. It also makes it easy to pin the losses on the players, especially the pitchers.

Right now, Alou isn’t pushing any of the right buttons. Does it seem likely that he will next season?

UPDATE: Evan Brunnell is wondering about his manager too, in this piece. I guess it’s that time of year.

…. Hackers

I was gonna write a nice long analysis of the job Felipe Alou has done this season, after reading about last night’s horrific ninth-inning meltdown. This team has had several of those type of bullpen collapse’s over the last season and a half, and regardless of whether you think Alou’s righty/lefty pitching decisions are more trouble than they’re worth (they are), or whether things would be different in the bullpen if Benitez hadnt gotten injured (they would), the reality of the 2005 Giants is such that it is just this shy of pointless to argue about managerial decisions.

This is a team that features five regular players with slugging percentages below .395, the mark posted by their best hitting pitcher, Noah Lowry. Randy Winn has been with the team for 17 games, and has collected 11 extra-base hits in just 66 at-bats. JT Snow and Edgardo Alfonzo each have 16 extra base hits all season, each in more than 250 at-bats.

The Giants feature just two pitchers who have been with the team for any length of time with ERA’s below 4.00, while running out 8 different pitchers with ERA’s above 5.00. The relievers have combined to throw a staggering 377 innings of mediocrity, earning just 236 strikeouts while walking 150, a terrible 1.5 K/BB ratio.

I find it hard to imagine Alou feeling confident in anybody, and he probably believes he has no choice but to make every possible effort to stack the odds in his favor, even if it’s only the tiniest of edges he’s seeking. Munter and Eyre have been his only truly reliable and consistent relievers, while virtually everyone else has either been effective or a complete disaster. And that seems to be the main problem he’s been dealing with.

There’s no small deviations in production from his relievers. They either get the job done, or they burn the whole building down, nothing in between. The Giants don’t blow a 3-1 lead, they blow 7-1 leads, they blow 4-0 leads. The pitchers don’t just struggle to find the strike zone, they walk four guys and give up the grand slam.

Listening to Jason Christiansen complain about Alou, I wonder just why the hell he’s still on the team? I mean, seriously, which member of Sabean’s family does he have locked up in his basement? Here’s a lefty who is posting a stellar 3.54 K/9IP, along with his 4.87 ERA. His career ERA is 4.26, in 429 innings of work. In 2001, after Sabean got him from the Cardinals, he posted a 1.59 ERA in 17 innings of work. That’s it. That’s his whole career, right there. In 2002, he blew his arm out and only pitched in 5 innings, and since then, he’s posted ERA’s of 5.19, 4.50, and this season’s 4.87, and now he’s complaining?

Fantastic, maybe he and Woody can get together and talk about how much fun it’s been cashing their million dollar paychecks while combining to strikeout 50 guys in 250 innings of work. Yet Sabean can’t seem to give these stiffs enough money.

What is Alou supposed to do about that? Herges, Christiansen, Brower, I mean, these are not talented pitchers. These are waiver wire cast-offs. So Alou’s sitting here with maybe three relievers he knows can get outs, and so of course, he’s using them up like Kleenex. He’s still trying to win. Trouble is, his team is 15 games under .500. There’s no point in trying to win at all costs.

The only reason I would like to see him allow some of these guys to go an inning at a time is to see whether they can do it at all, for next season, because that’s all that’s left. Let these guys play, stop micro-managing, and see what happens. ’05 is over. ’06 needs to be he focus of everyone on the team, management and players.

UPDATE: Iain, who always has something to add to the debate, today decided to add some Guatamalan insanity peppers. ;-)

To suggest that the season isn’t over because the Giants have the best record in the division since June 1st is nothing short of absurd. On June 1st, the Giants were 23-28. Since then, they’ve gone a robust 30-41. Not for nothing, but that’s a bunch of craptacular baseball, regardless of whether the rest of the teams in their division are doing worse. The Giants are 16 games under .500, 12 games back of the Wild Card leader, with all but two teams in the entire NL having worse seasons. The season is over.

…. Cost Plus

Am I the only one who’s noticed that ESPN’s baseball page has morphed into an almost entirely pay for play format? Their insipid Insider deal was originally sold as a avenue to a sort of “inside dish” kind of rare knowledge, but now, just about everything is Insider labebled. The only contributing writers that can be read for free (out of a stable of 15) are Jim Caple and Eric Neel. Gammons, Stark, Neyer…. all of them are available only to subscribers.

Subscription-based internet access has always seemed a bit screwy to me. The whole idea of the internet seems to be based on a free exchange of ideas and writing, no? But when the boys at Baseball Prospectus started their Premium access stuff, I thought it worked, primarily because of the depth of their work; clearly, they were offering quite a bit more than, say ESPN or Sports Illustrated.

Foe a magazine like ESPN to charge a fee to read what essentially amounts to op-ed pieces by 13 different guys, or game summaries…. well, no thanks. It’s one thing to pay for hard-research-based pieces, pieces that often were so impressive, they would force you to change your ideas about the game. To pay for what ESPN offers is absurd. In my humble opinion, ESPN’s decision to essentially end their standing as a free baseball page will hurt them in the long run. I, for one, am not going to pony up even $1 to read what Jayson Stark has to say about the Yankees, not when I can read, say, Bronx Banter. Stark may have access that Belth doesn’t, but Belth almost always offers more of what I am looking for, heart, passion, and depth.

In point of fact, my daily web visits have pretty much been narrowed down to Baseball Musings, the NY Daily News, and an occasional bounce over to BP. ESPN, SI,, most of these pages are days behind the bloggers, and most of what’s not is wrong. That’s my opinion, anyway.

…. Talk talk, ad infinitum

The backtalkers, Jim Adams, gdog, Mark Raines and company, all contributed mightily to an outstanding string on next season. Right now, I’m not gonna talk about cash, ‘cuz I could care less whether Magowan makes or loses money next season. He pays Sabean, Sabean throws away his money, it ain’t my problem.

As for the players on the roster now and next year….

Bonds, Winn and Alou will be the starting outfield. Talking out here in blogo-land is all well and good, but that’s your outfield next season. And it’ll be fine. Winn is a decent fielder, a decent hitter, and Alou and Bonds are what they are. That outfield will produce, (barring injury), 70-plus home runs, and will allow a lot of gappers.

The pitchers have been covered well by you guys. Schmidt, Lowry, and some combination of Tomko, Correia, Hennessey, Merkin, Cain, and one more starter that Sabean needs to steal. A number two guy is what’s needed, somebody like a Kris Benson. Is somebody like that out there? Maybe not right now, but Sabean could make a deadline deal with a contender, (Durham, Alfonzo, Feliz, even Snow could all be attractive to the right team). Of course, everyone needs pitching, so maybe we have to wait for the off-season. Doesn’t matter. One way or another, two things need to happen for the starting pitching to measure up in ’06:

1. Get another quality starter.
2. Get Schmidt right.

If both these things don’t come to pass, the rest of this genius rant is useless.

As for the infield, bite the bullet. Bench Alfonzo if you can’t trade him. Bench Snow if you can’t trade him. We’ve got 4 home runs from the corner infield positions. If you add up the entire infield, you’ve got something like 14. There isn’t one contender that can manage to overcome that kind of brain-dead Carribean slap-hitting. (sorry, couldn’t resist) ;-)

If I were Sabean, I’d see if I couldn’t figure out some way to get Giambi from the Yankees for Snow and some combination of pitching. The Yankees would gladly eat a substantial portion of Giambi’s salary, and the Giants could use his power. With Giambi at first and Feliz at third, we’d have some pretty bad defense on the corners, but if we could trade Durham for a pitcher and a defense-first second-baseman, the middle should make up for the corners, sort of like what you’d have in the outfield.

Matheny and whoever can be behind the plate, and that’s really all that the Giants would need to do to be ready for one final Bondsian push. Here’s my 2006 lineup, with backups listed:

Second Base ???

That ain’t too bad. The bullpen, provided Benitez comes back healthy, should be a strong point. One more starter, and Schmidt’s rebound, and the 2006 Giants are a 95-win team. Talk amongst yourselves.

…. Woody’s blues

The Giants today, effectively ending his nine year stint with the team. By doing so, Brian Sabean is admitting he was wrong to sign Rueter to that two-year, $12 million dollar extension 18 months ago; one more wrong move in a series of staggeringly poor decisions that helped pave the way to the dismal 50-65 2005 season we are suffering through right now.

Unwatchable, uninteresting, uninspiring…. the 2005 Giants are a cobbled together team of misfits and has-been’s, and they are Brian Sabean’s. One look at the pitching staff and you can see exactly where Sabean failed, as the Giants cannot boast a single pitcher with an ERA below 4.00, or with 10 wins, or in the top 20 in just about any positive category, (for what it’s worth, Lowry is actually 30th in ERA, at 4.13, Schmidt is 35th at 4.29).

So what’s in store for 2006? At this point, I can’t imagine. The Giants have nothing but question marks. Tomko isn’t likely to be back, and the rest of 2005 will be utilized to determine whether Correia, Hennessey, Lowry and Schmidt will be able to drive the team towards that elusive world championship. Anyone want to bet that those four pitchers are the core of a contender’s staff?

The bullpen, if Benitez can come back and be himself, should be pretty good, with Munter, Eyre, Walker making up the core.

As for the offense, well, it’s hard to find positives. Alfonzo, Feliz, Snow, Ellison, Tucker, Neikro, Vizquel…. virtually every player on the field has huge holes in their game. Vizquel has a .714 OPS, and he’s been a revelation! Since the All-Star break, Alfonzo has 1 (ONE) extra-base hit. Ellison has two, as does JT Snow. Winn has been outstanding, he’s got 3 doubles, a triple and 2 home runs in 11 games, but the only Giants regular doing anything in the second half is Durham (.936 second-half OPS), which is really heart-warming, since he’s the most likely to be traded this off-season.

As a team, the Giants have run out a dismal .241/.297/.350 .647 OPS in the 28 games since the break, which translates into 3.5 runs per game. ’nuff said.

As for next season, an outfield of Bonds, Winn and Alou, with Ellison and Tucker as the backups won’t be too bad, at least offensively, but an infield with four out of five players struggling to hit 10 home runs won’t cut it.

The Giants are staggering to the finish of 2005, their worst season in a decade, and it’s hard to imagine this collection of players being around at the start of 2006, but who knows. It’s very possible that Sabean will continue to be hamstrung by the poor decision-making of the last three seasons, and all we’ll have to look forward to next season is the possible resumption of Bonds’ assault on the record books. Revamping your entire infield and your starting pitching in one off-season is very difficult, especially with the cupboards being so bare in the Giants minor league system.

…. Stumble, bumble, fumble and glum

The Giants continue to do nothing noteworthy, unable to win they score lots of runs, or when they allow few. After last night’s extra-inning loss to the Braves, the team sits a disturbing 16 games under .500, and appears prepared to ride out the season in the vain hope that they could either win 7 or 8 games in a row and steal the West, or the teams above them will lose that many and they’d make the postseason with an abysmal 70-92 record or something like it.

Meanwhile, the only Giants news worth mentioning nationwide is the absurd flap over Larry Kreuger’s diatribe. I’m not here to apologize for Kreuger, but for crying out loud, firing him? That’s the only answer? I’ve written some things here that stray far outside the boundaries of propriety, sometimes you do in an effort to express the unexpressable. I’m sure that Kreuger was finding himself unable to put into words how disgusting, how stupid, unprepared, ineffective, weak, flat and disappointing the Giants have been this season. So he said some things that were in bad taste. Fire him?

Not to mention the constant media drumbeat reminding us how terrible it is to say such horrible things. Yeah, I need to know what Joe Morgan, Peter Gammons and all the rest of these jokers think about Kreuger’s horrible faux pas.

Well, at least the Giants are in the national news, right Mr. Magowan. The only bad publicity is no publicity.

…. Star power

I’ve avoided writing about steroids for quite a while now. Most of what I have to say, I’ve said. But after Rafael Palmeiro fails a drug test, and is called everything from a cheat, a liar, stupid, and anything else I can imagine…. well, enough already.

buy 25mg viagra

The mainstream media allowed the end of the BALCO case to happen in the dark, offering none of the sanctimony and hyperbole they’d been so lavish with for the past two years. The BALCO case was, of course, a government-sanctioned vendetta against Barry Bonds, and after spending upwards of $20 million dollars (my estimate), he got away, and so did virtually everyone else involved in the sham of a prosecution.

So now these criminals in our Congress, fresh from a record-breaking pork fest, have the gall to jump right back into the fray, letting everyone know how little they do:

…. But how can congressmen tell baseball what it should do when they don’t know what they’re talking about?

Here’s something else they most likely don’t know. Approximately 1,000 tests have been conducted this year under the new system. About 100 remain to be processed. That leaves about 900 results.

Of those 900, eight have been positive, Ryan Franklin, a Seattle pitcher, the latest yesterday. If our congressmen took simple mathematics in school, they can divide 8 by 900 and learn that fewer than 1 percent of the players – 0.89 of 1 percent – tested positive.

To me that’s a pretty tiny percentage and would seem to indicate baseball has found a way to discourage players from using steroids. When this whole testing business began two years ago, 5 to 7 percent of the players tested positive.

Congress and the experts cannot have it both ways. Obviously, baseball’s program is working if it can keep its ratio of positive tests under 1 percent and it can snare a star like Palmeiro.

Memo to the steroid-hawks:

Shut up. Stick with what you know: stealing from Americans.

…. Winn now

So the Giants traded two young players for another veteran, finally getting centerfielder Randy Winn, whom Brian Sabean has coveted for a couple of seasons now. By sending Torrealba and Foppert to Seattle for Winn, Sabean lets us know in which direction the team’s braintrust is leaning.

…. “It probably awoke us to the fact that while you consider the run we need to stage as the games tick off is improbable, now seeing what’s going on on top of us, it seems possible. I think this is the only time you look at the games behind versus your record.”

Typical Sabean. Barely intelligible comments, supported by barely defensible decision-making.

Sabean has already proven that he and Dick Tidrow and Righetti and Alou think that wins and losses are all you need to determine whether a pitcher is effective or not, (a line of thinking that has been disproved and, quite frankly, ridiculed by most knowledgable SABR-heads for going on two decades). By trading Foppert, the Giants have thrown away another of their highly-touted pitching prospects after completely mismanaging the early stages of his career much the same way they handled Ainsworth, Williams, Foppert, Nathan, Aardsma, etc. The list of “can’t miss” kids the Giants have yo-yo-ed into injury and ineffectiveness and then discarded is growing perilously long; it only follows that the Giants will watch more of these pitchers develop somewhere else, a la Joe Nathan.

Throwing Torrealba into the mix is also indefensible. I can’t believe the Giants considered a fast, defense-minded, 26-year old catcher a worthless commodity, but that’s pretty much how they treated Torrealba. Between the AJ and Matheny signings, and now this trade, our home team has filled in all the blanks. Developing young players is not what this team is going to do, end of story.

If you’re gonna make it out of the minors onto the Giants, you’d better follow in the footsteps of Lowry or Benard. If you can’t come out of Triple AAA and run out a nice 10 game winning streak, or a two month home run binge, your chance of staying in the majors is essentially zero. Which is to say, the Giants have no idea whatsoever how to develop young players.

So, the boys in orange and black are still in play for the postseason, according to “I am not an idiot” Sabean. A team that is 14 games under .500 is just 4 games back in the loss column, as the 2005 NL West champion will almost certainly become the first losing team to make the playoffs in baseball history.

All I can say is wow, like totally dude. I guess a first-round sweep by the Cardinals is preferable to improving your chances for 2006.

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
San Francisco Giants, Major League Baseball, or any other organization mentioned herein.

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