Archive for June, 2007

…. Too good to be true

This needs the front page:

…. what was (Paul) DePodesta’s reward for leading the Dodgers to the playoffs, for being a visionary who foresaw the pending explosion of the free agent pitching market one year early, for striking gold on three free agent acquisitions, and for showing incredible discipline to avoid inking any huge, terrible contracts, despite having an owner who would’ve green-lighted them?

A pink slip. That was his reward.

Hat tip to caterba for the link.

I would love to see DePodesta running the Giants.

…. Sorry

Listen, I know that I’m being hard on Durham, and, yes, I understand that he’s being asked to do something he’s not suited for. I know that. I also know that he came here as an All-Star second baseman, a leadoff hitter who was durable, had some pop (.800-plus OPS five years in a row), could steal you a base, and knew how to work a walk. That was his resume when he was brought in to replace Jeff Kent. Over the course of his Giants career, he’s been a shadow of that player. He missed almost 100 games his first two seasons, had 35 extra-base hits in ’05, had a monster second half last year (that masked another terrible start), and is back on pace for another 35 extra-base hit zero of a season again this year.

So, he was injured so often during his first couple of seasons that they don’t let him steal anymore. He’s made his share of important, game-turning errors, (his career double plays turned numbers are awful), and he’s gotten exactly how many big hits, or had exactly how many big games? What would you say is his Giants highlight? What has he done that you can say, well, we wouldn’t have won if it wasn’t for Ray?

I can remember the first couple of years when Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter came up for the Yanks. In New York, we were calling them Batman and Robin, because they always did something. Their first playoff series against the Texas Rangers, Bernie tied a game in the ninth with a home run, and then won it in the 12th with another. Jeter, well, I know he’s a Hall of Famer and all, but when he was just coming up, he seemed to always be in the middle of everything, home runs, hits, walks, whatever. He also made tons of exciting defensive plays (while everyone was ripping his defense), including some of the most incredible and important defensive plays in the history of baseball.

Name one hit, one play, that Ray Durham has made for the Giants that is even remotely similar. A home run in a playoff game? Nope. A walk-off? One in his career, not with the Giants. How about a game-saving stop? He’s been invisible for most of the time he’s been here. Now he’s at the end of the line, and he’s being asked to be something he’s not. Is it his fault? No. It’s the team’s. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been an empty uniform time and again. He’s started slow three years in a row, and it’s killed the team three years in a row, and he’s killing the team now.

Oh, and guys, if you’re looking for a positive spin, come on, you can get that in the newspapers. I’m writing about a last-place team, one that has ended up exactly as I predicted it would. When they do something positive, I’ll write about it.

UPDATE: So Durham’s walk-off was with the Giants. I was wrong. However, the game in which he hit the walk-off could hardly be brought up as indicative of his great value. Let’s see…. He was 0 for 4 prior to that final at-bat, with 6 men left on base (sound familiar?), and he was swinging away because he had failed to get down a sacrifice bunt. The walk-off brought his season average up to a dismal .246 for the year, and the win brought the team’s record to 37-37. Am I missing something here? That was last season, in which his poor start contributed greatly to the Giants having to spend the entire second half of the season making up for their terrible start to the year.

Sure, he’s posted an .800-plus OPS for most of his career, but it sure seems like he goes on a month-long tear, not unlike Winn, and then spends the rest of the year making me want to tear my hair out. You bring up his close and late stats? His pressure stats are horsehit, and he’s been leaving huge numbers of runners out there. In the last two seasons, as the Giants management has decided to have him be the bat to bridge Bonds, his production has been paltry. The issue isn’t Durham, it’s management. Durham has been OK, obviously the second best hitter on the team. The problem is that, as the second best hitter, he ain’t that good. The drop off is just too much. He’s being misused, and he’s not responding to the challenge.

His career splits illustrate my point exactly. Batting third, he’s posted a poor .726 OPS. His best slot has actually been fifth (.864 OPS), but it’s only 200 or so games. As a leadoff man, he’s posted a good .802 OPS, but with just a .356 on-base percentage, so, he’s really not that effective there, either. For his career, he’s hitting .255 with two outs and runners in scoring position, .268 late and close, and just .266 with men on base. Those are not impressive numbers. Since I already brought up Jeter, you can see that his numbers in the same situations are much better. For his career, Jeter’s hitting .315 with two outs and runners in scoring position, .280 late and close, and .323 with men on base. All of his peripheral stats (on-base, slugging, etc.) are better, too.

Again, it’s not that Durham’s no good, it’s that the Giants are so poor at so many other positions, Durham is being asked to be more than he is. It’s too bad he couldn’t discover that he thrives in RBI situations, but he didn’t.

…. Backtalk

Speaking of Durham….

He’s that strange, middle of the road player, decent enough hitter, but not decent enough dissertation india to earn a slot at the top of the order. As a #1 hitter, he doesn’t walk enough, as a #2, he doesn’t have enough bat control, 3, 4, 5, not enough power. So, OK, he’s a #6 hitter. Well, so is Feliz, Aurilia, Klesko, and, arguably, Winn. Vizquel has lost too much to be at the top of the order as well, in fact, he’s lost so much, he’s playing his way out of the game, right now, as is Dave Roberts. Aurilia does essentially nothing well, Klesko is getting on, but has no power anymore. So where does that leave us?

Aurilia would be an adequate backup infielder, Vizquel could be an infield glove and a sacrifice guy off the bench. Klesko already is a backup everything, as is Feliz, although, like Durham, he would be just good enough on a real team. Molina’s fine, Bonds is fine, Roberts is what he was for the Red Sox, a defensive replacement for Manny Ramirez and a guy who could steal you a base. As an everyday player, well, you can see the results, (which I predicted, by the way). If Winn was the third outfielder for a real team, fine, as the third outfielder on the Giants, he hits WAY too many singles, (actually, that’s true for just about everyone on the roster other than Superman).

So, you’ve got a terrific cleanup hitter in Bonds, a decent #5 in Molina, a decent #6 in Durham, a decent #7 in Feliz, and a pretty good #8 in Winn. We need a leadoff hitter that actually gets on base, a #2 who can avoid the GDIP and actually move a runner every once in a while, and a banger to hit third in front of Bonds (like Magglio Ordonez, who was available for a song two seasons ago, and now is more likely to play for the Martians than the Giants. That would be enough for this team to play .550 for the rest of the season, which would not be enough, and we would have to mortgage the future to get it.

Management put this team together, these are the players they went out and got. Sabean, Magowan, Baer, Tidrow, you can run any name you want out there. This team is a disgrace. In today’s information age, with the internet, and all of the information needed to make the right decisions to build a roster right out there, free and available; this group of idiots built this pile of medocrity. The lot of them should be gone.

…. Boring

That’s your San Francisco Giants. Boring. Last night’s dreary loss, punctuated by Ray Durham’s continuing inability to get a hit with men on base, and Bonds being walked four times, was just this shy of unwatchable. Durham ranks somewhere between 10th and last in just about every important category among NL second basemen, 3rd most GDIP, only 22 extra base hits, .248 batting average, .717 OPS. He’s having a terrible season, and, although I can’t find the stat, I can guarantee you that he is among the top five in all of baseball in men left on base.

His 41 RBI are a mirage. If you want to see what a good, young, player does when he has a chance to drive in runs, take a look at Chase Utley, the Phillies second baseman. Here’s how the two stack up when they come to the plate with men on:

RD 132 at-bats .273/.325/.447 .772 OPS 13 extra base hits
CU 145 at-bats .331/.395/.517 .912 OPS 21 extra base hits

It’s only the difference between being ten games under .500 and maybe having a chance this season. Durham left 8 men on base last night, a common occurence this season with him batting either in front of, or behind Bonds. The Padres did what so many teams have done this season; walk Bonds and fearlessly go right after whoever comes up next. It used to be a guy coming up in front of the hammer got good pitches. Not the Giants. No team cares about facing Durham, or Feliz, or whoever with men on base, because the Giants fail to get the big hit, again and again.

Oh, and what the hell was Bonds waiting for last night? He got pipeline 3-0 pitches twice last night, and let them go right by. Somebody needs to remind him that the team needs him to drive in a couple of runs now and then.

…. History lesson

Lupica tries and tries to include Barry Bonds in the Jason Giambi story, and only succeeds in coming across small:

….Giambi is the one who gets clipped for steroids finally, not in front of the BALCO grand jury, but in the place Looie Carnesecca always called Macy’s window. Giambi is the one who admits to steroid use, Giambi who agrees, under duress, to speak with former Sen. George Mitchell, even though no one knows what kind of answers he will actually give to Mitchell.

Baseball gets Giambi for now.

It doesn’t get Bonds, at least not yet.

At least not yet. Bonds must have been really rude to Tiny Elvis one day, because he can’t let go of the hope that somehow, someway, Bonds is gonna get his. Unless, of course, there is no getting his to be gotten. Then we’ll hear how Bonds got away with it, and then after he gets away with it, we’ll hear how he’s a real bad guy, and how nobody likes him, and on and on. Lupica even pulls out the tired old, “He could be indicted any minute now,” routine. Yeah, right. After three years and thousands of hours testimony and all of the convictions and all of the lawyers and judges and bullshit, now they’re gonna indict Bonds.

Lupica conveniently forgets one important fact: The BALCO guys could have given up Bonds and didn’t. Lupica would have you believe that Conte and Anderson each took the fall for Bonds, the most unlikable asshole of the last fifty years; because why, exactly? Why is Greg Anderson in jail right now? Why won’t he just give up Bonds? I don’t know, maybe because there’s nothing to give up? Maybe? Maybe Anderson’s in jail to cover his own ass, because the more he talks, the more trouble he’s gonna get in?

Meanwhile, Marvin Miller looks at the War on Drugs in baseball and thinks the Players Association is faltering just a bit:

…. he sees the Major League Baseball Players Association, a union he created one player at a time more than 40 years ago, allowing Bud Selig to browbeat Jason Giambi into cooperating with Sen. George Mitchell’s doping investigation. He sees Congress threatening to insert itself into a labor dispute involving private industry. And he can’t understand why his union isn’t doing anything about it.

“They ought to be speaking out,” he was saying earlier in the week, a day before Giambi agreed to cooperate. “I would expect there are some conservative influences around (union executive director) Don Fehr that you and I don’t know about. It’s self-destruction.”

…. “There isn’t the slightest basis for the Players Association to be doing what it’s doing,” Miller says. “They ought to be speaking out on the following basis: the commissioner has no authority over whether Giambi, in this case, or any player, should speak with the investigator appointed by the commissioner or not. If he wants to take action (by suspending or fining Giambi), everybody’s free to take action; that’s not the question. Would it be upheld? Not a chance. All the rest of this is junk.”

…. Backtalk

Great to see the new backtalk threaded feature working so well. I thought that I would front-page Mr. Hobbes, since he’s so adamantly disagreeing with me. Sorry if this isn’t nice. At least he made the big time: ;-D

…. The Giants had a $50-65 million dollar payroll until they moved into the new ballpark in 2000. Since then its been anywhere from 75-90 mill. Compare that to the Indians who had one of the biggest payrolls from 97-2002 as they were in 1st place nearly every year. It wasn’t until 2003 that they started to rebuild that their budget shrunk as they focused on player development. And now since they are good again their budget is only going to grow as they sign guys to extensions or sign more free agents to improve their roster to stay in contention.

Oakland and Minnesota have been low to mid-level budget teams and have been rarities among ML teams in terms of being able to stay in contention by developing young players and not being able to keep their star players. Atlanta was a big market team, much larger budget than the Giants until the past few years, when they’ve had to cut payroll (something that coincided with them missing the playoffs for the first time in 14 years). Yet they still have an 89 million dollar payroll this year. Less then they had before when it was over 100 million, but still; and they haven’t been a poor team at all.

Also, if you want to bring up all the young players developed by the A’s, Twins etc., all of those teams sucked for a few years or more, and that’s how they were able to draft well, because they were picking in the top 10 repeatedly. Eric Chavez, Barry Zito and Mark Mulder were all top 10 picks made by the A’s. Nick Swisher was 16th overall. Until recently the Giants hadn’t been selecting until the late 1st round, that’s if they even had a 1st round pick. The Twins did the same thing, Joe Mauer was the 1st pick of the draft. Atlanta took Chipper Jones 1st overall in 1990.

Will Clark, Matt Williams and Robby Thompson are considered the last good position players developed by the Giants. All 3 were top picks. Look at the franchise players in the majors. I guarantee the majority of them were high 1st round picks with the exception of guys signed out of Latin America or Albert Pujols who was a JC player taken in the 13th round.

A-Rod was 1st overall, Griffey was too, Jeter was 6th overall, Prince Fielder 7th overall, Adrian Gonzalez 1st overall, Chase Utley 15th overall, Manny Ramirez 13th overall, Barry Bonds 6th overall, Gary Sheffield 6th overall, and it goes on and on.

First of all, the Indians pioneered the strategy of signing their good young players to extensions in order to lock up their best players through their most productive — and young — years. They let Ramirez, Lofton and the rest of that team leave only after those deals had expired, or were about to. They never had a top ten payroll, to the best of my recollection, until after that.

As for the rest of your argument, well, come on. How can you possibly compare the draft strategies of the A’s or the Twins with the Giants. Both teams have been on the cutting edge of player evaluation for the same decade that the Giants have been sucking the pipe. Swisher was the only legitimate top pick you just referenced, the rest of the A’s roster is made up of guys nobody but Beane wanted, and you — and every single baseball fan in the world — know that. In particular, Zito and Mulder were soft-throwing pitchers that Beane had to argue with his own guys to draft.

The Twins have an organization-wide system of developing players. They teach a particular approach to hitting, to defense, to team-play. They draft players they know they can sign, (because they pay less than other teams), and they take players who have specific skill sets they are seeking, much like the A’s. They have built a team that has now been in contention for some six years, based on home-grown talent; which is the least-expensive way to do it.

Sabean’s strategy is what, exactly? Draft pitchers and trade them for major-league players. That’s it. We don’t teach patience at the plate, we don’t stress striking guys out, we don’t coach a particular defensive mind-set, we don’t go for power hitters, or fast guys, or guys who know how to get on-base…. WE DON’T DO ANYTHING AT ALL. We’re a fucking beer-league softball team, a bunch of guys who cycle through, a different cast of characters year after year, no consistency, no approach, nothing but a bunch of guys. We’re not a team at all, not in any real sense of the word.

You wanna defend Sabean, fine. You can say he’s been at the helm for the decade of contention, and he has. I am not alone in saying he’s been riding Bonds’ coattails; that if the team had been without Barry, Sabean would’ve been fired ten years ago. You wanna compare the Giants talent evaluation and draft strategy with Billy Beane’s? You’re out of your fucking mind. And to bring up Williams, Thompson and Clark in Sabean’s defense is borderline lunacy. Sabean was a scout for the Yankees when those guys were drafted.

As for the rest of you backtalkers….

Jim Adams brought up a good point, Sabean did have a run of some pretty good major league acquisitions. David Bell, Burks, Kent, Grissom, Lofton, Nen …. Fine, I stand corrected.

But don’t you think that part of the reason Sabean is no longer landing talented players is the lack of talent he has to offer. Our farm system has been a joke for going on a decade. And don’t even start talking about all the pitchers we’ve drafted. You wanna tell me the Giants draft and develop pitchers? Who? Joe Nathan? Jeremy Accardo? THEY DON’T PLAY HERE ANYMORE!! And how do we know that the Giants weren’t holding them back when they were? How do we know Righetti’s not doing it to Cain and Lincecum right now?

How about Jerome Williams, Shawn Estes, Jesse Foppert, and the endless list of bullshit pitchers Sabean has used to acquire his pile of Shawon Dunston-level talent. The two guys we’re watching now represent the best arms coming out of our system in ten or fifteen years, and they were top level picks. Meanwhile, I’d hazard a guess that the rest of baseball is no longer blind to the bullshit Sabean’s been dangling as trade bait. All they have to do is look at the facts. The Giants have drafted and developed NO hitting talent since Williams, Clark and Thompson.

Oh, Sabean thinks first round picks are expensive?


Don’t give $18 million to Dave Roberts, $12 million to Marvin Benard, $8 million to Shawon Dunston, $14 million to NEIFI-FUCKING-PEREZ!!!!! Don’t keep throwing money on the ground signing 40-year old washouts. The $14 million we’re giving to Molina could have paid for three or four first round picks. Did we need him? NO! Just like we didn’t need Matheny, like we didn’t need Double Play AJ.

Sabean gave Dave Roberts an $18 million dollar contract to be our leadoff hitter and center fielder for the next three years. A 36-year old baseball player, who had never in his life played a full season, a player who had never scored 100 runs in a season, (or 90 runs, for that matter), or had 100 walks, or hit .300, or won an award, of any kind, for any thing at all. A player whose performance was virtually assured of being as bad as it is now (.207/.287/.333); who could be replaced by almost any Triple AAA player, from any team. In fact, we did! Even our horrible minor league system had a player, Fred Lewis, who came in and immediately out-performed Roberts.

How could our GM not know that we had a player of equal value, who was 25-years old instead of 35, in our system? How could he throw $18 million dollars on the ground like that, instead of just letting the young guy take a shot? HOW CAN THAT BE? Because Sabean is asking the wrong questions. He is using the wrong value assesments to make his decisions, that’s how.

Again, I ask you, right now, name one major league player of any significance that the Giants drafted and developed? People have complained for years that the Yankees just go out and buy other teams’ stars. That’s a bunch of horsehit. Cano, Wang, and Cabrera are all recent home grown talent, none of whom was even close to first rounder. Go back ten years, and, off the top of my head, you’re looking at Pettitte, Jeter, Posada, Bernie Williams. Am I missing anyone? I guarantee you I am.

I can go to any team, open up their roster page, and find a better major league player — that came up through their system — than the best the Giants have to offer, Pedro Feliz, (who certainly takes a lot of heat here at OBM, and perhaps somewhat undeservedly. He seems like a nice enough guy, works hard, plays good defense; and if he was on a real team, would more than likely be a perfectly acceptable third basemen).

In the meantime, if you want to make the argument that the Giants have a fine strategy for putting together a major league team, riddle me this, Batman:

WHERE ARE THE GIANTS HOME GROWN PLAYERS?!? If you can’t answer that, you have no business telling me and my readers that we are the ones who don’t know what we’re talking about. List me the five or ten players that came up with the Giants and are now making their mark in the bigs, and we’ll talk. Fuck it, name one.

UPDATE: Has Bruce Jenkins suddenly realized the truth?

…. In case you missed it, the Giants woke up this morning with one less win than the Baltimore Orioles. Forget being at least games behind three legitimate contenders in the NL West; they are 7-½ games behind Colorado. If that isn’t a complete embarrassment, then Magowan got over his discomfort much too soon.

The team’s offense isn’t “slumping,” it’s doing exactly what was forecast in spring training. The lack of clutch hitting isn’t alarming, it’s what the Giants should be getting from the team they assembled. The bullpen isn’t in transition, it’s fully second-rate. Injuries have played a part, but with this geriatric roster, things could get infinitely worse in the second half, players trading extensive visits to the disabled list.

Now we discover that the starting rotation isn’t the team’s salvation, either. You still expect a solid outing from any of them, but the honest truth is that Matt Cain is the only one offering that rock-solid hope for the future. The Giants made a big deal about a blown umpire’s call in the series finale at Milwaukee, but for crying out loud, they were down 6-0 before they could blink. That’s the real story, and it was hardly an aberration.

…. Failure

After yesterday’s dreary loss, the time has come for Peter Magowan to make a change. Watching the Brewers, the Brewers(!?), trot out one good young player after another, while our team of “veterans” continued to collapse under the weight of their own inability is particularly galling. The Brewers have been a laughingstock for almost two decades. There is no reason the Giants shouldn’t have just as many good young players as one of the worst teams in all of baseball the last twenty years. Magowan needs to wake up.

Brian Sabean has failed. He has failed for going on five full years now. He has failed to draft or develop one single position player (other than Pedro Feliz, who, let’s face it, is one of the least efficient hitters in all of baseball). He has traded away good to great pitchers and gotten back nothing in return. He has signed free agent after free agent, and been wrong way more than he’s been right. He has assembled a coaching staff that seems to add little to the team he’s assembled. He has a pitching coach who appears to be coaching his pitchers to avoid the bat, a strategy doomed to failure in today’s climate of “grind-out” at-bats. He has a manager who has no flair, no style, no nothing. And he has a team that is so bland, so featureless that they have become an afterthought a third of the way into the season. What do the Giants do? Are they a tough-out kind of team? No. Are they young and fast? Ha. Are they balanced? No. Are they patient? No. They all have one thing in common, they are classy, old-school, veterans. They don’t show up the opposing pitcher, they don’t argue with the umpire, they don’t trash talk, or get in fights, or act the asshole. Of course, they also don’t win. They hit lots of singles, get virtually no walks, give the opposition no tough AB’s, have no power, no speed.

This is the worst Giants team since before Bonds arrived. This is a team of bench players. A team of bench players that Sabean went out and got. I want to drive this point home, because it is a double-edged sword. Brian Sabean woke up this off-season and said, “I want to give Dave Roberts $5 million this year to be my leadoff hitter.” He said, “I want to give Rich Aurilia $3.5 million this season to be my first baseman.” He thought, “My best option at second base is to pay Ray Durham $7 million this season.” And worst of all, he looked at his roster, stocked with only one real asset, starting pitching, and decided, “Let’s give $126 million dollars to a starting pitcher who does only one thing really well, he never misses a start.”

The one side of the sword is that he had to do those things, which were terrible. The other side of the sword is this:

Sabean had to do these things, these terrible, misguided, doomed to failure things, because he had already failed. He had decided that it was a poor allocation of resources to sign draft picks and develop players through the minor league system. He had decided that the best way to keep the big club competitive was to draft tons of pitchers and trade them for major league position players, as your needs developed. This approach has failed, and is so obviously flawed, that it is difficult to imagine that anyone could sell such an approach to an owner. It is an approach that has no precedent. It’s safe to say that no GM — in the history of baseball — has ever used it and succeeded. And that includes Brian Sabean. The obvious flaws are so debilitating that I cannot believe I am writing about them. It’s as if Sabean decided to swim under water, all the time, without scuba gear.

First, it makes it impossible to develop an organizational approach to hitting. By stocking your roster with players who came up through twenty different teams; your hitting coach spends most of his time trying to learn each players swing, approach, strengths and weaknesses. Your lineup then becomes 8 guys doing their own thing, and building that lineup becomes even more challenging because of that lack of knowledge.

Second, it means that you are always dancing on the razor’s edge of potential disaster trades, like the Nathan and Liriano for Double Play AJ deal. The list of ex-Giants pitchers making a splash in baseball is long, and seems likely to get longer. The pressure on you and your coaching to staff to recognize who among your prospects looks good enough to trade, but not too good, becomes enormous. If it isn’t obvious, let me spell it out, evaluating major league talent is exceedingly difficult. The strategy of using your pitching assets to acquire hitting assets is fraught with danger, because, while you’re trying to use the good but not too good pitchers to get hitters; your trading partners are trying to give you hitting prospects that are also good, but not too good. Therefore, your talent evaluation skills must be very, very good. You have to have a system, and it must be replicable.

Replicable. This is the third and most important flaw in Sabean’s approach. Your evaluation skills must work, again and again, or you will be unable to field a competitive team. You must give away good talent, (but not too good), and you must get back good talent (hopefully, very good talent), over and over, year after year. In other words, you have to fleece your trading partners, again and again. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that to do this is highly unlikely. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that it is impossible, really. Even if you could do it for a year or two, you would eventually empty the barrel. To plan to do it, to build your entire organizational system on the premise that you can do this is patently absurd, and doomed to failure. It puts enormous pressure on you to have a strategy for evaluation that is scientific, precise, and based on knowledge that is mostly available to you statistically, because it’s impossible to see every player throughout the entire minor and major league system on every team.

As you might have guessed, I don’t think that Sabean has a system like that. I don’t think he even has a system, per se. Well, no, that’s not entirely accurate. He does assign value on what he wants in position players. It’s a poorly thought out value system, but it is a value system. He values defense and experience. Those are the things he seeks out, as you can see by the players he goes out and gets. Roberts is a good defensive centerfielder. Matheny saved a hundred runs a season with his work behind the plate, as did JT Snow at first. And veterans are consistent, which he clearly values as well; although, for the most part, the guys he’s gotten have been consistently mediocre.

Problem is, Bill James has already clearly — and accurately — explained what is and isn’t valuable, and he did it 20 years ago; and it isn’t defense, and it isn’t consistency, and it isn’t being classy. General managers should be seeking hitters who get on-base and hit with power, and he should evaluate these hitters on a sliding scale based on their age; with the youngest being the most valuable. That’s it. That’s James’ thoughts on acquiring players in a nutshell (if I may be so bold as to distill the best baseball writer ever). Defense is overrated, difficult to analyze, and offense is the name of the game.

20 years after James, with the Oakland A’s fielding young, quality hitters year after year, with the Twins and the Red Sox and the Yankees demonstrating — for going on a decade now — that James was right; Sabean is still in the dark. And so are the Giants. At 30-40, the Giants will need to win about 60 of their last 90 games to make the postseason. Is there any Giants fan out there who honestly believes this club can do that?

More importantly, is Sabean the man to lead this team forward? Has he done anything to earn that role? No and no. Magowan needs to find a new GM, and give that GM the freedom to get the two real hitters his team needs to ride his fine young starting pitchers to the postseason next year; and start developing an organizational approach to hitting, to offense, and to building a team. Sabean needs to go, and he needs to go now, before he trades the wrong pitcher for another Michael Tucker/Shawon Dunston/Mark Sweeney/Ricky Ledee.

…. Bitter pill

Gwen Knapp seems happy to let us know that she thinks Bonds’ career will end badly:

…. If some misguided general manager has Sabean on speed-dial and offers to give up a great young prospect while absorbing $8 million of Bonds’ salary, then Sabean will play a role in the decision. It will be a cameo. He will forward the message.

The other general manager will be drug-tested.

…. In September, if we’re to believe the core of Sabean’s remarks, Bonds could play his last game here with a bunch of Triple-A call-ups, finishing off a punted season amid players he barely knows. He will never get that World Series ring, and he will no longer enjoy the heavily advertised, unprecedented camaraderie he has experienced with his mates of the last two years.

Knapp — who has been covering the Giants for a decade, and never once thought Bonds was an issue until Verducci and Lupica told her he was — again can’t stop herself from taking pot shots at Bonds. It’s a running joke, every single article or column written about him has to have some reference to the fact that the whole sportswriting world believes he cheated, that he’s a baseball pariah, valueless, a problem child, and, as always, an asshole.

Of course, the fact that he’s getting on base in half of his plate appearances, that he’s in the top ten in NL home runs even though he’s still seeing about three pitches a game; that he’s still treated like the most dangerous player in the game at 42 years old…. All of that isn’t worth writing about. No, what we need to be told, over and over and over, what we can never let the fans forget, is what a motherfucker he really is, what a cancer on the world of sports he has become.

Thanks to writers like Gwen, who have done so much work exposing the horror that is Barry Bonds. Thanks for revealing all of the important insider information that only a beat writer could have access to, the things we need to know in order to make up our minds about who to root for, who is a good player; a valuable asset to a team, a good guy; and most importantly, who’ll save the children.

…. Definitive

I want to complain about my Direct TV High-Definition programming. Right now, the Giants/Brewers game is being broadcast on two channels; 654 FSN Bay Area, and 94, which is an HD channel. For about the 30th time this season, I am unable to see the HD broadcast. I paid extra for the HD receiver and the HD dish, I pay for the High Defintion channel package, and, I pay for and receive the Bay Area/San Francisco local coverage.

There is no viable reason I should not be able to watch the Giants game in 1080i if it’s being broadcast in that format. I have complained and complained to Direct TV, and now I’m compaining to you. Build a 100+ backtalk thread, and I’ll send it to Direct TV. The rules, the laws, and the bullshit reasons why I cannot see these broadcasts are simply wrong, and these issues — issues that are related directly to the home team fan — need to be addressed.

I don’t think I’m wrong, but if I am, let me know….

…. Worse case scenario

That’s pretty much exactly what I was afraid of, Morris getting lit up, thereby reducing his possible trade value, another loss, and Bonds’ 748th home run. Every serious Giants writer worried about the possibility of a sham season; Bonds’ home run chase, some great starting pitching, and no real chance to contend. So far, that’s what we’ve got.

UPDATE: Great work by the backtalkers. Keep in mind that the reply to this comment link allows for threaded comments, like at McCovey Chronicles.

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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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