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…. On and on

The backtalk keeps on keeping on. I’ll just add some of the things that have been running around in my head….

I sometimes wonder if Sabean isn’t trying to prove that he’s smarter than all of us, by building a team that is, in essence, the exact opposite of what today’s “experts” say you are supposed to look for, hitters who can get on-base, and who aren’t obviously on the downside of their careers. The list of mediocrities that have worn the orange and black the last four seasons is simply beyond belief, and virtually all of them share two things, a sub .330 OBP, and an AARP card.

Besides the horrible free agents we’ve collected, since Sabean nabbed Schmidt from the Pirates, he hasn’t made one truly successful trade. The Double Play AJ deal will haunt the team for a decade. Jeremy Accardo for Shea Hillebrand? ‘Nuff said.

He (and Magowan) signed Felipe Alou after they decided that Dusty Baker was too good, and taking away too much credit from them. At the time, I thought he was the best of the known choices, but in hindsight; it’s clear that Alou cost the Giants dearly. He destroyed the careers of Kirk Reuter, Jesse Foppert, Kurt Ainsworth, Jerome Williams, and Jason Schmidt. Schmidt was probably the most costly. Schmidt’s never been the same after that 143-pitch, 17-strikeout, 1-hitter in May of 2004. That month, Schmidt started 5 games, went 47 innings, allowed 23 hits, had 54 strikeouts, and a 1.53 ERA. Since then, he’s had a monthly ERA below 3.00 just one single time, and he’s been on and off the DL constantly.

What Alou did to Reuter beggars belief. Everyone in baseball knew that Woody was a 100-pitch pitcher. Everyone. Everyone on the Giants did, too. Krukow talked about it all the time. Alou let him go 110-plus four times in the first half of ’04, including his second start of the season. During that stretch, Sabean was putting the final touches on Woody’s $18 million dollar extension –one that he wasn’t even up for, by the way– and when the dust settled, we had another player being paid millions of dollars to watch TV.

How about the two seasons the Giants paid Robb Nen to play golf? Who made the mistake of giving a 34-year old closer not one, but two player option years at the end of his contract? Who’s on the hook for that? How about the absurd $24 million dollar deal Sabean gave to JT –saves twenty games a year with his glove– Snow, one of the worst offensive players at his position for the duration of his career, a career in which the Giants overpaid him by about 50%? Who made that mistake?

How about the $27 million we gave to Moises Alou? The rap on Alou was that he was a formidable player when he was on the field, but he couldn’t stay on the field because he was too old. Sabean made him our starting right fielder and he played less than 220 games for us, because he couldn’t stay on the field due to the fact that he was too old.

Remember the Edgardo Alfonzo deal? 4 years, $24 million dollars for a player that the entire world of baseball knew was finished due to a lingering back injury. $24 million for a guy who failed to post a .400 slugging percentage during his three seasons here. Then we gave him away and ate the rest of his contract. And you know what’s funny? Alfonzo would be the second best hitter on the team if he was here right now. At least he knew how to work a walk.

Deivi Cruz, Michael Tucker, for crying out loud, the best signings Sabean’s made in the last four seasons are Kenny Lofton and Marquis Grissom. We got one good, solid season out of David Bell, and somehow avoided signing him to an albatross deal. But even that was five years ago.

I can’t stop writing about Neifi Perez, which had to be one of the absolute worst signings I can imagine. The only thing that Sabean has in his defense is that Perez is still in baseball; which means that he’s not the only GM stupid enough to think hustle and a good attitude deserves playing time.

The current state of baseball knowledge stands on the premise that on-base percentage and power are the most important attributes a hitter can have; and that strikeouts are the clearest indicator of a pitchers ability to succeed. It’s also clear –and has been for twenty years now– that 25-year old players are a better bet to improve than 35-year old players. Sabean appears to ignore all of this as he builds a team.

He even seems to ignore himself.

After telling us for years that Snow’s defense made him worth more than his offense said he was; he goes out and signs a 35-year old shortstop to play first. After telling us that Mike Matheny’s glove and game-calling skills made him valuable even though he couldn’t get on base 30% of the time; he goes out and signs one of the worst defensive catchers in the game.

I fail to see how any of these shortcomings are going to resolve themselves. I fail to see how Sabean could possibly right this ship. Unless the Giants get really, really lucky, they are going to be a really, really bad team, for a really, really long time. The sad part is that this was predictable, and preventable, I mean, I only wrote about it three years ago:

And another thing. I’ve said it before and it seems I need to say it again. Brian Sabean’s track record is about fifty-fifty. The simple fact that the Giants have had Barry Bonds being the single most productive player in the history of the game during the entire tenure of Brian Sabean cannot be discounted whenever Sabean’s winning percentage is touted as evidence of his greatness. Bonds’ overwhelming abilities have made every decision Sabean’s made look fantastic.

But the bottom line is that Sabean has made more than his share of bad decisions. JT Snow’s big contract was a predictably bad decision, as was Marvin Benard’s. These two contracts were so expensive, the Giants were unable to afford to keep Ellis Burks, someone who was like five times as valuable as Snow and Benard. The backloaded deal given to Robb Nen, the extension given to Kirk Rueter, I mean, these are expensive, costly mistakes.

The trades he’s made have turned out well in some cases, and really poorly in others. Many times I’ve read about how he bucked the trend in trading Matt Williams for Jeff Kent, but that deal, absent the sentiment, was an obvious upgrade for the Giants and could hardly be thought of as some sleight of hand. At the time of the deal, the 31-year old Williams had missed almost half of the teams games the previous two seasons, was due for a new contract, and was a huge risk for the kind of deal he was seeking. Kent, on the other hand, was younger and had a huge upside. This is the kind of deal a big-time GM makes to improve his team.

Anyone remember the next big-time trade the Giants have made? Who was the next younger better guy we got for a veteran in the decline phase of his career?

The next one was Schmidt, and that’s pretty much it.


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