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Archive for June, 2007


…. Up & Down

Is it possible for two games to encapsulate a team and a season? The Giants’ last two losses to the Red Sox certainly seem to meet any criteria you would have for such a feat. In their 10-2 loss, the Giants were able to jump out to a quick 2-0 lead after the top of the first, their ace gave up the lead in exactly 4 pitches, and they never threatened to score again. Without doing the research, I would guess that they have lost at least five or six games in exactly the same way. A couple of weeks ago, the were ahead of the Phillies 2-0 in all four games and managed to win just two of them. Normally, I’d guess a 2-0 first-inning lead translates into a win something like three out of four times.

In yesterday’s 1-0 nail-biter, Matt Cain was, again, left high and dry by his offense, which managed just three hits and never really threatened, putting them on a 17-inning scoreless streak, one that nearly matches the 21-inning doughnut they threw up last weekend.

Today, it’s Matt Morris to the rescue. How is he still a Giant? Every game he pitches puts the season at risk, because he is the only pitcher Sabean can realistically use as trade bait, and it’s only a matter of time before he begins to regress back to the norm. And before everyone start to gnash their teeth over how I could be so callous as to call for the team to trade it’s (ostensibly) best pitcher; let me be clear about where I am coming from:

If Sabean had assembled a real team this off-season, a real lineup, with guys who actually can play baseball at a reasonably high level, we would be in first place. That’s how good our pitching has been. I wouldn’t be calling for Sabean to trade Morris, Matt Cain would be looking forward to starting the All Star game, and we would be talking about the little details that need to be addressed as we get closer to the second-half. Instead, we have a team of bench players, a team of has-been’s and never-was’s, and we are falling out of the race, 7 games under .500; all while featuring one of the best rotation’s in baseball.

Sabean cannot trade any more pitching prospects, because he’s gotten fleeced four times in a row. He cannot trade Cain and Able, and nobody wants Russ Ortiz (who, by the way, is a wasted roster spot right now). Hennessey has become our closer, because Sabean couldn’t forsee Benitez’s collapse, Lowry is a young left-hander who, depending on your dispostion; either needs to work through the league a couple of seasons to develop fully, or is the second coming of Shawn Estes. Do you trade him, and then watch him become a rotation anchor somewhere else?

Morris has, at most, three or four more seasons. If you trade him, for, say, Adam Dunn, even if Dunn leaves at the end of the season; you get a compensation pick, and, at least you tried.

Of course, all of this could have been avoided. The Giants could have signed a bat in the off-season. Sabean could have decided to actually bring young, fast hitters; players with upside, with the possibility of improving as the season goes on; as opposed to signing more 35 and 40-year olds. I wrote about these concerns in December, in response to Peter Magowan’s crybabying about how Carlos Lee signed with Houston because he has a ranch there:

…. (Your) team is about tenth or twelth on the list of potential places to play for big-time free agents. Between the Bonds show, your systematic degradation of your major league team, your failure to effectively and accurately evaluate talent, and your neglect of your farm system; you’ve sent out a very clear message to any potential free agent: the inmates are running the asylum in San Francisco.

And let me further state that this problem goes all the way back to your failure to make a real effort to sign Vladimir Guererro. At the time of his free agency, he represented an EXACT fit for what your team needed; an immediate replacement for Kent’s bat, an All Star caliber outfielder with the best arm in the game to shore up your defense, and he was a younger superstar who would have been able to pick up the slack for Bonds as his career wound down. You and your GM low-balled him, (so that you could claim that you went after him, but still avoid actually paying him); and in the end, you came off as small-time. This franchise has never recovered from that miscalculation; just as it has never really recovered from Game Six.

Sabean (or you) haven’t made one significant move since then that could be considered to have worked, (other than perhaps the signing of Vizquel); and you’ve made about ten that have been abysmal. What’s really aggravating is that you guys spend all this time telling us about your financial limitations while throwing tens of millions of dollars on the ground. $18 million to Reuter when he was neither worth it nor up for renewal, $27 million to Benitez, to Moises Alou, and now Dave Roberts; I mean, you could have signed Guerrero with no trouble at all if it hadn’t been for the ridiculous, albatross contracts you gave to virtually every mediocre “veteran” reaching the end of the line in baseball for the last decade.

Look in the mirror if you want to know why every free agent signs somewhere else; because it has nothing to do with where someone’s ranch is.

Amen.



…. Pants on fire

I guess Bonds’ attorney, Michael Rains, kinda feels like this has gone on long enough:

…. The attorney for Barry Bonds said Thursday he is prepared to go public with information that raises questions about the government’s investigation of the baseball star unless interim U.S. Attorney Scott Schools takes what he deems appropriate action. A good place to start, he suggested, would be the dismissal of grand jury proceedings against Bonds.

…. we’ve been going through all this stuff with the [San Francisco] Chronicle people saying when grand jury testimony gets leaked that the public has a right to know. Well, I’ll echo what they’ve said, ‘The public has the right to know.’ And the public has the right to know of the information I have given to Mr. Schools. And it has a right to know how the government has conducted itself here and I hope the government will engage in some dialogue with the media and the public to discuss this.”

Wow, is he saying that sometimes lawyers lie?



…. Traveling Wilbury’s

The Giants will play at Fenway Park tonight for the first time in almost 100 years:

…. The Giants will play the Red Sox at Fenway Park for the first time since Oct. 16, 1912, for Game 8 of 1912 World Series (one game was called because of darkness). New York center fielder Fred Snodgrass dropped a fly ball to open the bottom of the 10th inning in that game and then Fred Merkle let Tris Speaker’s foul pop get away, opening the door for the Red Sox to win the title.

Meanwhile, El Lefty Malo wonders what all the fuss is about:

…. The point is this: We all piss and moan about Giant management’s refusal to tear down this crumbling edifice of a ballteam and start anew, but it’s doesn’t always work that way. I am among the chief pissers and moaners. But I also acknowledge the bind they’re in: the fear of losing fan base for an extended period of time, as indeed happened in Cleveland when Mark Shapiro realized it was futile to try to extend the team’s 1990s Lofton-Thome-Vizquel-Manny glory years. As indeed might happen to the mystery team described above if it forces fickle fans to endure a few fallow years.

You and I are in somewhat of an uber-fan bubble. At least I am. Trapped in my obsession with the Giants, a few bad years of Fresno North won’t dissuade me from buying season tickets. What about you? Would you support the team through a tear-down?

Well, sure, I understand the worry, but that’s not exactly what I’m doing here. I’m not pissing and moaning that the Giants should just tear down the wall, and get on with the next cycle of youth. I’m saying that Sabean has moves that he can make, and he makes the wrong ones. He sits on his ass when he should be first in line, and then he deals from weakness. He’s done this for going on five years now, and by doing so, we’re weaker at every position, save starting pitching. Fine, he deserves some credit for the terrific young pitchers we’ve got right now.

But even there, one can’t help wonder about the damage done — irrevocable, in my opinion — in the AJ for Nathan deal. The reverberations are still ringing, we never would have spent $24 million on Benitez, and we may well have avoided giving $126 million to Zito, had Liriano avoided injury. A lot of if’s, sure, but one things certain; it was a deal made for no reason, a deal that didn’t have to be made; a deal that derailed at least two seasons.

Look at the roster we run out there with now. It. Is. A. Joke.

Five years ago we went to the Serious. First base, Snow. This year, Aurilia-Klesko. Second base, Kent, now Durham. Shortstop Aurilia, now Vizquel. Third base, Bell, now Feliz. Right field, Sanders, now Winn. Center, Lofton, now Roberts. Left, an old-decrepit Bonds replaces Superman. Behind the plate, Santiago to Molina. Where are we better? That is the only question that deserves an answer. At what position are we better than we were? I’ll tell you…. not one.

And that 2002 team was flawed, a team that got red-hot at the right time. Sabean has made changes on the fly, good for him. Hooray. IT’S ONLY HIS FUCKING JOB!!!! He doesn’t get extra credit for sitting at his desk, but he sure as hell is going to get taken to task for doing what he is paid to do so poorly. He could’ve made a run at Guererro, at A-Rod, at Thome, at Ramirez, at Soriano, at Beltran, to name just a few of the top-flight talent that has been available during the last four seasons. He says we would have had to pay too much. How absurd that statement is when we remember what we gave up for one year of Double Play AJ.

He could have traded Schmidt when Schmidt was worth something. Instead, he watched him walk after a lost season. Now, again, he has a pitcher that would bring something worthwhile back in a trade, at a time when he has a surplus of starting pitching, at a time when we need need need a real hitter in this offense. We need a hitter before we lose another quality start, before we lose a season. Don’t tell me Morris is stablizing the rotation and all that bullshit. He has been above average, at an age where he should be getting worse. That is called selling high. He is making a reasonable $10 million, and there are several teams that need a starter. Sabean needs to push for a deal with Morris. He is not part of the future, he is not part of a team that will feature Lincecum and Cain for the next decade. He is part of now, and now he is worth a good hitter. Now, he could save the season.

Or, we could wait until he throws five bad games in a row, and trade him for another 35-year old backup outfielder because he is bringing the team down.



…. Happy Anniversary

As noted earlier, today is the day I posted for the very first time. As you can see right now, the new OBM design is up and running, so hit the comments and let me know what you think.

Oh, and by the way….

BACKTALK WORKS AGAIN!!!!

So talk back.



…. Bounce

Tough game for Lincecum, who is noticably struggling, just as the Giants are. Not much to say about a game that was over on the fourth inning….

It makes me wonder what Righetti’s doing or saying, whether the big club is asking him to change his mechanics or his motion or his pre-game ritual or what. Of course, that’s the sort of question you’d expect a reporter to ask, when a phenom goes through a three game stretch like Lincecum has; but the Chron reporters took this pile of cliche’s from Bochy and ran with them:

…. Well, this kid, you have to remember how young he is. He hasn’t pitched in professional ball all that long. He is going to have outings in which he doesn’t locate. The expectations are so high, but it doesn’t matter who you are in this game, you’re going to have bumps in the road. He had one today.

Um, yeah, thanks for that insight.

How about a couple of questions as to what Rags thinks about why he’s hitting a bump in the road? Is he getting tired? Too much adrenaline? Too many throws in the bullpen, or too few? Tipping his pitches? If it’s a location issue, is Righetti having a tough time figuring out his mechanics?

I could’ve written the article the Chron published today, and I didn’t even watch the game. Then again, that’s why OBM has done so well for so long. Today, my friends, is the THE day I started OBM, five years ago. June 14th, 2002, I posted for the very first time. I already linked to that post, but I will be puling up and posting some of my older stuff for the rest of the month. I am also eagerly awaiting the heads up from my webhost, designer and technical genius, Jay Paul Simon of Grousehouse, to give me the OK and OBM will debut it’s new look. I can’t wait.



…. Solid

Last night’s 3-2 win was, but the Giants are still 30-34, in last place, and are still in need of a bat, but….

The team is under-performing it’s expected wins by 8 games, (the Giants run-differential says they should be 34-30), and the Dodgers and the Padres are out-performing their expected wins. Given that the D’backs are right where they belong, the Giants should be about 2 games out.

So-o-o-o…..

I’m gonna predict that the Giants are gonna close the gap, and they are gonna be able to contend for the NL West as currently constituted. As for contending for a title, well, they’ll still need to get a bat. Who? Texeira, Cabrera, A-Rod…. anybody in that type of group will cost too much, I think. I consider almost anyone on the roster other than Lincecum and Cain as tradable, but even so, it’d take a lot to get one of those guys. Reader Kent’s favorite player, Vernon Wells, looks like he’s having a tough start to the season, so I guess you could try and see if the Jays want out of his huge contract.



…. Manly man

Matt Morris pitched some game last night. After spotting the Blue Jays a 3-0 lead — courtesy of a very slow and old looking Bonds effort in the first inning– Morris shut them out the rest of the way, and the Giants managed to pull off a very solid 4-3 win. As the game went on, I couldn’t believe how well Morris was pitching. I’ll say it again, for a team in desperate need of another bat, Morris will likely never be this valuable again. If you were ever going to make a move without giving up one of your young pitchers; the time to strike is now, before the season slips away.

Sure, Morris is going great, but if you looked just at his peripheral stats, and not his won loss or ERA, you’d think he was a .500 pitcher, maybe a little better. Here, look at this:

91.1 IP 82 H 34 R 26 ER 6 HR 29 BB 45 SO
84.1 IP 68 H 31 R 31 ER 5 HR 43 BB 66 SO

The first line is Morris (7-3), the second is Cain (2-5). Do you see?



…. Needy

As in, the Giants need some runs. Man, the A’s have some pitching. Actually, so do the Giants, but in the last two games, the A’s had more. Or…. another way of looking at it is through the offense’s. Would you say the A’s have a better offense? Not really. In fact, the two teams look very similar offensively and defensively. The A’s are just a tiny bit better in each category.

But they just swept the Giants, and if you want to understand what’s happening to the orange and black this month, you need to face one awful truth: the Giants have been unlucky. They have scored 8 runs and lost, and allowed 1 run and lost. They have blown leads, and been blown out.

They’ve allowed 35 runs in 9 games, scored 42, and gone 3-6; when they really should have gone 5-4, or even 6-3. How do you quantify luck? How do you answer some of these questions? Matt Cain pitched another great game, and got no run support, again. Cain has put together a run of starts that looks like this:

7 IP 0 ER (L)
9 IP 1 ER (W)
6 IP 1 ER (L)
3 IP 7 ER (L)
7 IP 4 ER (L)
6 IP 1 ER (W)
6 IP 3 ER (L)
6 IP 2 ER (L)
7 IP 4 ER (L)
5 IP 3 ER (L)
8 IP 1 ER (L)

He’s thrown 84.1 innings, allowed 68 hits, 31 earned runs and he’s 2-5. Ummmm….. yeah. That sucks.

And on a completely unrelated note….. Prince Fielder could very well be the best young hitter in the game right now. He just turned 23 about a month ago, he’s currently running out an outstanding .299/.384/.658 1.042 OPS line, with an NL-best 23 home runs. Sure, he’s a bit heavy, but please. What a stud.



…. the fools on the Hill

It’s a fine Sunday morning, and I was feeling like a million bucks, until I read Gene Wojciechowski’s column at ESPN:

…. You know what? We need Congress to take control of MLB’s steroid investigation.

…. Congress — and members such as Bunning, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) — seems to be only answer for baseball’s steroid investigative inertia. It is the only thing MLB and its union genuinely seem to fear.

Hey, Gene! Are you out of your mind? Congress already investigated baseball’s steroid problem, remember? That dog and pony show was an embarassment to everyone involved. As part of the investigation, you might recall, most of the members of Congress spent the better part of their time in front of the cameras posturing, reminding us that they intend to save our children, and ignoring the answers to the questions they were aksing. The original investigation produced nothing new, nothing important, and was a complete waste of time.

They want to make new laws, they don’t need another grandstand. Go ahead and make new laws. Just remember that we already sell products that children have access to, products that kill, far, far more children every month than steroids, HGH, or any other performance enhancers ever have; tobacco and alcohol. But, of course, the manufacturers of tobacco and alcohol products donate immeasurable sums of money to Representatives Waxman and company. So, we’re not likely to see any new laws regards these products any time soon, are we?



…. New & Improved?

I don’t know if this is funny or sad, but I just took a look at the very first thing I ever published at OBM, and, well, you decide:

…. Over the last 30 days the Giants offense is DEAD LAST in the National League, meaning it is dead last in all of baseball. This, while Barry Bonds is posting a .565 obp and a .900 slg. Do you have any idea what that means? That means the Giants are even worse than their stats.

I heard the Brian Sabean show yesterday, and he said that he intends to show patience and trust that his hitters are going to start hitting. You know what Ray, that’s the single stupidest thing I have ever heard Brian say. You’ve got Marvin Benard taking swings in the last of the 8th in a one run game, and you’re telling me that I am supposed to trust that he’s gonna come around? Shawon Dunston has a spot on our bench? Damon Minor? Reggie Sanders? Sanders’ lifetime BA is .263, last year he was about 30% more productive than in ANY YEAR OF HIS LIFE.

…. which is more than you could say about JT Snow. There is nothing masking the fact that he is one of the most unproductive major leaguers drawing a salary. He is an out-maker, simple as that, and he gives nothing back for all of the outs he eats. Don’t talk to me about how many games he saves with his glove, that’s pure hyperbole. Bill James and a whole slew of baseball analysts have done reams of research into run prevention, and JT’s defense is worth maybe five runs a year, let alone five wins.

Five years later, and we’re still having the same conversation. JT’s staggering rate of out-making has been replace with Feliz’s. Dunston has been replaced by Sweeney, Sanders by Winn, Kent by Durham, Aurilia by Vizquel, Snow by commitee, Shinjo by Roberts…. The names change but the production hasn’t. We failed to take advantage of Bonds’ best years. Fine, that’s over, and it will go down as one of the great team faliures in baseball history.

But it’s the botched management decisions behind that failure that cause the lunatic fringe so much angst, because the beat goes on. One or two real baseball players added to this team would have been a difference maker — at any point in the last five seasons — and now five years have gone by, and we’re still waiting. We’re still waiting for a player to come up through our system and show the makings a major-leaguer. We’re still waiting for a trade or free agent aquisition who can change a game. We’re still waiting for our general manager and owner to read a book about how to evaluate hitting and pitching talent effectively. We’re still waiting for a hitter, a player to replace Bonds as the centerpiece of an offense. And most importantly, we’re still waiting for a championship.

UPDATE: Today’s loss, the team’s eighth in ten games, keeps the Giants in the cellar. Noted in the Chronicle’s coverage was this gem:

…. The Giants were happy to welcome back center fielder and leadoff hitter Dave Roberts, who had a 10-pitch at-bat in the first but grounded out to second. He went 0-for-4.

Ummmm, yeah. Roberts had run out a stellar .216/.283/.371 .654 OPS line this season prior to going on the DL, not including today’s 0-fer. Meanwhile, since he was called up, Fred Lewis has more hits, runs, RBI, and home runs than Roberts, in fewer at-bats. Oh, and he’s ten years younger. Taking at-bats away from Lewis to give them to Roberts is just one more example of how completely ass-backwards this organization is being run.

There is no reason in the world to think that Roberts — career on-base percentage of .342 — will ever be more than a decent spot guy and defensive substitute, a guy who can steal you a base in a pinch. Meanwhile, there is a chance that Lewis will get better by going through the daily grind of playing everyday at the major league level. Sure, he’s had a tough June. Sure, the league is adjusting to him. But if you start putting him out there one game in four so you can kill the offense by continuing to use Roberts as an everyday leadoff guy; he’s got no chance.

Yeah, that’s the ticket; replace the guy with lots of upside with a guy who has a track record of mediocrity. Sound familiar? Actually, no. For the most part, we haven’t had a guy with upside in about ten years.



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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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