Archive for December, 2006

…. Back to back

I just got back from a week-long Texas Hold ‘em binge down in LA, (no computer access at my hotel, sorry), to find that Schmidt’s now a Dodger (for more money than I ever imagined possible way back when), Russ Ortiz might (again) be a Giant, millions and millions of dollars have been thrown at players (everywhere but here), and the Giants look…. well, the Giants look like shit.

Don’t start running out potential lineups here, we’re talking $80 million-plus for one heaping pile of bullshit. Rich Aurilia is no first baseman (48 games at first in 11 years), Dave Roberts is no everyday player (666 games played in 8 years), Durham (averaged 125 games a season as a Giant) should have been moved out of the infield four years ago, made over 500 outs last year, while posting a league worst OPS, OBP and batting average at third. And then there’s Molina.

Bengie. Fucking. Molina. You’ve got to be kidding me? Why can’t we once, just once, not waste money and/or prospects on a washed-up catcher? Alfonzo gave us 31 extra-base hits in 286 at-bats last season, Molina had just 8 more in almost twice as many plate appearances. How does Sabean justify $16 million dollars for that? How does he not lose his job, with the terrible performance of both him and his team for going on four years now? We’re supposed to believe that Barry Zito will come here, to pitch with this kind of horseshit team behind him, with our waiver wire bullpen? Are these people out of their fucking minds?!?

All in all, we’re looking at one of the worse offenses and defenses in the NL next year, no matter what happens between now and opening day. Another year of monumental pressure on our starting staff, our bullpen will again be given no margin for error, we will enjoy the fewest number of comeback wins (because well always be four runs back by the end of the fifth inning), and suffer the most come from ahead losses (because we’ll always head into the ninth with but a one or two-run lead). The Giants slogan for ’07 should be “Come for the misery!” Sabean and Magowan should be embarassed trotting out this sham of a team. Only men who doubt the intelligence of their fan base could be so blatantly and willfully obtuse. Major League, indeed.

UPDATE: So much for getting Vernon Wells, Kent. :-(

UPDATE: Mark says I oughta put my money where my mouth is:

…. Of all the Free Agents signed by any team (not just the Giants) just which of these deals do you think the Giants should have done? Just what the hell would you do now to keep the season ticket fan base and build the team you want?

He goes on to state that a “classic rebuild” like what the Marlins have done twice wouldn’t be an option. Putting aside the fact that the dismantling of a championship team hardly qualifies as rebuilding…. Well, yeah, if you (or Sabean) accept that you are lmited in what you can and cannot do, then, sure, you’re gonna get a bowl of shit.

I don’t. I don’t accept that the fans won’t tolerate a youth movement. In fact, if I were the GM, I wouldn’t give one shit about what the fans think about my efforts to improve the team. I’d do what I thought was best, and if it didn’t work, I’d deal with it. Besides that, I don’t believe that the fans are going to stop attending games because the Giants are fielding a team so young that there is no hope. It’s young teams that provide hope! A bunch of retreads and stiffs is all we’ve got to look forward to right now, where’s the hope in that? Seriously, besides Bonds passing Aaron, what’s there to be hopeful for this year, that Dave Roberts goes 20 for 24 stealing bases? That Aurila doesn’t make 25 errors at first?

There are first baseman in every team’s minor league system that could run out a .260/.310/.460 line, which is what we’ve gotten from the position for more than a decade. Why can’t we find one? I hear that Heep Sop Choi is on his last chance in Chicago. He’s better than anyone we’ve had since I moved to SF in 1990. What would it take to get him? Anyone know? Sabean doesn’t. There is but one single catcher in the NL who qualified for the batting title this season, ONE!!! An everyday catcher is obviously not a need. Why throw $16 million dollars at one, when we already have a decent player manning the spot? Didn’t Sabean learn anything from the AJ debacle? Spend that $16 million and GET A REAL FIRST BASEMAN!!!!!

How about real outfielders, who run around and catch and throw the ball and aren’t as old as I am? You think there might be a couple out there? The Yankees got a pretty good season out of Melky Cabrera, who was something like their fifth or sixth option. Did you see the catch the Mets’ Endy Chavez had against the Cardinals? You think Cliff Floyd gets that ball? Is there anyone on the Giants that would have even been able to climb that fucking wall? Chavez was a player to be named later in another deal the Mets were involved in. How hard could it be to find a player like that?

You seem to think that going after young, uproven players is tantamount to giving up, but signing Dave Roberts, Rich Aurilia and Pedro Feliz isn’t?! Scour every other team’s minor league system, get players that aren’t established as major leaguers, and surround Bonds, Durham, Vizquel and Winn with youth. Contrary to what you believe, (the Sabean and Magowan party line), there is young talent available, everywhere. It takes research, diligence and imagination, but there can be no doubt that the world of baseball is populated with rubes waiting to be fleeced. Sabean needs to go fleece a rube or two. It’s only his job. Billy Beane’s over there in Oakland complaining that no one will deal with him because he keeps making them look bad. When was the last time someone said something like that about Sabean?

And I haven’t even mentioned that instead of trading Schmidt for, say, someone like Lastings Milledge, at last season’s trading deadline, when he had the chance, Sabean watched him leave for nothing but draft choices; which, given that Sabean knew he was losing 6 or 7 positioon players for 2007, was as stupid as all of the times he made moves designed to forfeit draft choices when we had a team lined up. Is there any doubt that the 22-year old, failings and all, would be our best outfielder right now? And if he’s not, who cares? Schmidt’s gone anyway. This team needed to go young at just about every spot on the field. In this current state of disaster, would it really matter if a young player ran out the kind of bullshit season we’ve been getting from these “veterans” for the last four years? When you get league average production from shortstop and right field, virtually nothing from the catcher, and league worst production from center field (.686 OPS), third base (.684 OPS), and first base (.717 OPS), it hardly matters whether the player doing the producing is 25 or 35, does it?

Except for potential, of course. With the 25-year, there’s always a chance he could surprise you, and get better. Is Dave Roberts suddenly going to become a complete player at 35 years old? Is Mark Sweeney? Is Bengie Molina? Is Rich Aurilia? Was Moises Alou suddenly going to become 28 years old, and play 155 games for the first time in a decade? Lance Neikro just might get better, if we just ran him out there every day and left him alone. Jason Ellison might, Eleizer Alfonzo might, Lastings Milledge could.

Sure, the Giants could score 750 runs with this lineup, so fucking what? That’ll get them 75 wins. They’re not going anywhere anyway. Here’s another route we could have chosen. Why not save the money we just threw away on Bonds, Aurilia, Molina, Roberts, and Feliz, and go get one guy. Let me ask this question: How is the Soriano deal so much worse than this collection of nothings and replaceable nobodies? If you’re so worried about the length of the deal, give him something like $80 million for 4 years; I mean, that’s about what we’re paying these guys. Soriano would be crazy not to set himself up for another free agent deal in 2011, and then you’re not on the hook for $15 million when he’s 38 years old, (like the idiotic Chicago Cubs).

You didn’t have to give Bonds $16 million. We could have gotten Soriano, kept Durham, ran out some kids, and with our young pitching staff, maybe Barry Zito doesn’t think signing with the Giants is such a bad idea, which it is right now. Now the only way Zito comes here is if we give him Soriano money and years, which would be the exact wrong way to go. It’s one thing to overpay for a 40-40 guy who doesn’t get on base as much as you’d like. You sign a pitcher to seven year contract you are toast. There has never been a seven year deal for a pitcher that’s worked out. NEVER. There’s been but a handful of 5 year deals that have, so, if that’s what the Giants have in mind to get Zito, then we’re lost. Even though he’s been expensive, A-Rod has never been a bust, never lost two seasons to injury, or completely lost his ability to play. Soriano may be expensive, but he’ll still be a pretty damn good player in 5 years. Mike Hampton gave the Rockies 22 wins for $122 million dollars. Who’s to say Zito doesn’t continue the decline that he seems to be on? Sure, he could get motivated and pull a Clemens, but how many times has that happened?

Point is, there are lots and lots of ways the Giants could have gone, or could possibly still go. Don’t talk to me about the “demanding” Giants fans. If they were that “demanding,” they’d be demanding Sabean’s resignation. To continue down the road we’re on is a travesty. More mediocre “veterans” to foster the illusion, the illusion that this is a professional organization. A professional organization plans ahead, and replaces their talent from within; “Gee, our second baseman’s gonna be 32 next season, we need to make sure we have a couple in our system,” that kind of thing. The Giants haven’t brought up a major league position player since when…. I don’t know, Matt Williams? Robby Thompson? That’s beyond absurd. It is a failing of the highest order, occuring at the highest levels.

Sorry if I’m aggravated, but I still want to root for this team. It’s just that it’s getting harder and harder.

…. Complain?

All I do is complain? What, is this your first visit? I’ve written thousands of words suggesting different players, strategies and/or ideas on how to address the issues that have taken this team from the brink of a championship to the laughingstock of the National League.

For those of you who just arrived:

1. Seek out high on-base, young hitters. Within our system, direct our coaches to have our hitters adopt this approach. Worry about defense later.

2. Focus on the things a pitcher can control, strikeouts, walks allowed and home runs allowed, and acquire pitchers who do these things well. Within our own system, direct our pitchers to focus on these areas of importance.

3. Stockpile young talent. Stockpile draft picks. Reverse the trends Sabean has poisoned our team with these last 8 years; wasting money on “veteran” ballplayers, throwing away draft choices, trading youth for age, etc..

4. Avoid albatross contracts with soon to decline or already declining players. Lock up young, good hitters at good prices, (oh yeah, you have to have young, good hitters to do this).

For whatever reason, we ended last season in worse shape than even I could imagine was possible. Talking about strategy in the face of having no fucking team is beyond absurdity!!! Vizquel is the only quality player under contract for the 2007 season? Only in Crazyville could a statement like that be made and the person making it not be carted away in a straightjacket. Vizquel is MY AGE!!!

The Giants would be better off just running the Triple AAA team out there with these pitchers, and see what happens. Again, young players at least have upside. Barring the use of illegal PED’s, old players have little more than the hope that they neither decline nor fall to injury.

UPDATE: David Pinto plugged this piece, so thanks to him, OBM has just been visited by it’s 600,000 reader. And of course, thanks to all my readers, new and old, for making this site the great fun it’s been for me.

…. Keep it continuous

Durham, Feliz, and now, Dave Roberts. I could hardly be less inspired. Next up is Rich Aurilia, Benji Molina and whoever else the rest of baseball thinks has no value.

Still no first baseman, no real hitter in the outfield, and, obviously, no youth movement.

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

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