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Archive for December, 2007


…. Sanity?

Two things just happened. The Giants signed Aaron Rowand to a five year deal worth $60 million, and Brian Sabean just said that Cain and Lincecum are off the table. I say, Hoo-fucking-ray to both. Rowand ain’t great, but all he cost us was money, (pretty much anybody is getting $10 million per these days), and given how little was out there to get, and how little we had to offer, he was the best of a bad situation.

Rowand is three years older than Rios and arguably the same player, (albeit, another “veteran”). A close look suggests that they are almost identical, really. 40-plus doubles last season, 20-something home runs, 100-plus runs scored, less than 100 RBI…. I mean, if you had to have a centerfielder who could do the things these guys do, and you could either trade for one or sign one as a free agent, it’s pretty obvious which is the better choice.

Is Rowand likely to play 155 games a year for five years? No. Is he likely to be pretty good for a couple, three seasons? Probably. The only thing I worry about is that he looks a teeny weeny bit like he could be the second coming of Randy Winn, as in, a mediocre everything. But, if you ask the question as to whether we are better with him in the lineup, the answer is yes. Do we need more? You betcha.

But this is a decent step in a positive direction. Rowand ain’t 38, he wasn’t just released by somebody, we didn’t have to trade young pitching to get him, and he’s better than what we got. If I had to complain, I’d complain about the fact that an outfield of Bonds, Rowand and Winn (with Roberts and Davis as backups) wouldn’t be the worst in the NL, but we don’t seem to want Bonds anymore. Too bad.



…. Backtalk

Reader Salisbury Steak has a lot to say about my rants, in particular, he thinks the Nathan for AJ deal was defensible at the time:

Look at the circumstances of that deal when it was made: AJ was 27, had hit for average and led a playoff-caliber pitching staff in Minnesota. Nathan had had one good year coming off his injury and a poor playoff showing. The Giants needed a young catcher to replace Benito Santiago. The probability, given baseball history, was that Nathan’s year was a fluke, not an indication that he was going to become a dominant closer.

You can say that Sabean went after yet another guy who didn’t get on base. You can say that he ignored AJ’s reputation for being a dick. And you can make a case that it wasn’t a good idea to take a chance on AJ arbitration-wise because he never indicated San Francisco as a town he’d like play in. But anyone who acts like it was obvious that AJ wouldn’t sign, that he was as much of a douche as he actually turned out to be, or that Nathan was going to become so dominant, is full of shit. Sabean made a deal that turned out horribly for the Giants, but it was not obvious at the time that it would; you can’t blame him for how badly it turned out because at the time the move seemed to be much more justifiable (even if you disagreed with it at the time).

As for the argument that this is an example of Sabean’s having no long-term plan, I don’t buy it. Benito was 35+. AJ was 27, and Sabean’s intention was to install him as the long-term catcher for the Giants. How is that not long-term?

I haven’t made the argument that Sabean doesn’t plan long-term, I made the argument that his plans, long-term or otherwise, are horseshit, as he ignores conventional, and/or new-age analysis; and that he has little understanding of a baseball players’ value. The Giants had a young catcher in Yorvit Torrealba, and a quick look at the two players stats pages shows that the difference between the two could hardly have been worth what we ended up giving up for AJ. Even given all the pointless bench time he suffered through as a Giant, Torrealba’s 162 game average stats are almost identical to what AJ did in ’03, and to what he gave us in ’04, and Torrealba was already here, costing us the minor league minimum.

In ’03, the Giants got nice production from the catchers slot, ranking 6th in runs scored, 8th in OPS. In ’04, with AJ, we dropped to 8th in runs scored, and in OPS. In ’05, with Matheny, we were 8th in runs scored, and 12th in OPS. In ’06, with Matheny missing most of the season, and Alfonzo getting plenty of time, the Giants dropped to 13th in runs scored and up to 8th in OPS. In ’07 we had a red hot Molina for the whole season, as Alfonzo sat, a lot. We were 8th again in OPS, and 15th in runs scored. In those four seasons, in which the Giants traded away good young pitching and spent over $30 million dollars trying to upgrade the catchers slot, our catchers production remained right in the middle of the league, ranging from 49 to 62 runs scored, our OPS from .671 to .746. In ’02, when Benito was the NLCS MVP, we were 4th in runs scored and OPS, 73 runs scored and a .746 OPS. What, exactly, was Sabean trying to replace? 11 runs?

Fiddling while Rome burned? You think? While Sabean spent his time, energy and team resources trying to upgrade a position of league-wide weakness (not one NL team has gotten 100 runs from the catchers slot in that time), the Giants were getting league-worst production from centerfield, rightfield, 1st base, shortstop, and third base; AND EVERY ONE OF THOSE SLOTS SHOULD HAVE BEEN FILLED WHILE HE, INSTEAD, FOCUSED ON THE POINTLESS!

He threw $18 million dollars on the ground in front of Mike Matheny. Why? Because Matheny’s the best defensive catcher in the world, he saves 100 runs a year, he lowers your team ERA…. blah blah blah. Bull. Shit. None of those statements can be justified by any statistical analysis of any kind, but what does Sabean care, as he repeated them, over and over; to be broadcast by the ridiculous sportswriters who cover this team every day. So then, Matheny gets hurt, and the Giants send Alfonzo out there everyday, and what happens? While Sabean spends the entire season telling us how much the Giants miss Matheny, Alfonzo rolls out 31 extra base hits in a half season, with a slugging percentage 100 points better than Mike the Human Glove. (The team’s second half ERA went up from 4.32 to 5.00, and the team’s second half WHIP went from 1.40 to 1.41) How does our illustrious GM respond to that? He goes out and gives Bengie Molina $6 million a year to replace Alfonzo, who just ran out a .775 OPS. What did the Giants get for that $6 million? Molina ran out a .731 OPS, and was obviously the slowest player in all of baseball; and a pretty lousy catcher to boot, (15 errors, second most in the league, 12th fewest put outs, 15th best fielding percentage).

Plan? How is that a plan? One minute he says he wants to go young, but the guy he trades for is older than the guy he has. Then he says he wants defense and game-calling, but when that guy gets hurt he goes and gets the worst defensive catcher in the game. All the while ignoring the guys he already has, who are cheap and could easily do the job. In the meantime, the team has actual holes that could be, and should be filled by real players, with the ability to actually drive in and score runs and what does Sabean do about that?

Randy Winn, Dave Roberts, Ryan Klesko, Rich Aurilia, Dustin Hermanson, the four-hundred year old man, Michael Tucker, Edgardo Alfonzo, Neifi-Fucking-Perez, Jeffrey Hammonds, Deivi Cruz, Dustan Mohr, Alex Sanchez, Steve Finley, Mark Sweeney, Jose Vizcaino, to list just a handful of the nobodies, has-beens, and never-was’s that Sabean has had the audacity to suggest were baseball players.

Knee-jerk? These are issues that I have been railing about for five years. Sabean and the rest of the Giants brain-trust have been blind to the fact that their offense has been driven in the last ten years by the greatest offensive player of all time. They have ignored the fact that offense is driven by getting on base, and hitting for power, (even though they’ve been watching the greatest combination of those two skill sets in one player for the whole fucking time) and they have been blind to the reality that just because someone has been a major league player already, they do not necessarily have value.

They have replaced good players with worse ones for the whole time I’ve been writing about them, and if they have a plan, or have had one; IT IS NOT OBVIOUS TO ANYONE WHO KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT BASEBALL. There is enough of a chance that Sabean will trade Cain or Lincecum for some “veteran” that everyone who really cares about this team runs to their computer every morning out of fear that it may have already happened while they were asleep. That tells you all you need to know about Sabean’s “plan.”

UPDATE: You wanna get really scared?

…. the Jays’ offer of right fielder Alex Rios, 26, for pitcher Tim Lincecum, 23, is being considered by the San Francisco Giants.

The Jays proposed the deal at last week’s winter meetings. As of yesterday evening, the Giants had not replied.

Lincecum, a second-year power pitcher who’s been nicknamed “Franchise” by his San Francisco teammates, is considered one of the best young arms in the game.

Rios, a popular two-time all-star, has been Toronto’s most dependable bat over the past couple of seasons. The trade carries risks for both clubs, but would give the Jays one of the most formidable starting rotations in baseball.

On the weekend, Giants GM Brian Sabean told a San Francisco radio station that he planned to resolve the Lincecum-Rios affair in the near future.

“By the end of the weekend, maybe the first of the week, we’re going to have to flesh this out one way or the other,” Sabean said, according the San Jose Mercury-News.

See, I’m not crazy. Here’s more:

…. The Giants are, again, sitting on the sideline watching other teams deal. Detroit not only got the slugger the Giants could use – Miguel Cabrera – but the Tigers also got dynamic pitcher and Bay Area native Dontrelle Willis. The acquisition of Willis could have eased the pain of giving up Cain or Lincecum. But the Giants are incapable of such dynamic deals because they have few young prospects to trade.

One of the reasons is that the Giants didn’t have a first-round draft pick in 2004 or 2005. They traded those picks as compensation for free-agent acquisitions. In the 2005 draft, the Marlins took their 22nd pick as compensation for Armando Benitez. That year the Giants didn’t draft until the 131st pick, in the fourth round (their second pick went for the rights to Mike Matheny and their third for the rights to Omar Vizquel). In 2004, their top pick was sacrificed for the rights to Michael Tucker.

(italics mine)

I could run out about forty sarcastic remarks here, but these horrible, horrible sentences speak for themselves.

Plan? We don’t need no stinkin’ plan.



…. Idiot?

Tim Kawakami is not an idiot, (or so I am told), but his opinion of the potential trade of Lincecum for Rios could only be considered the rantings of one.

Brian Sabean knows that this is a test, and he knows what a daring general manager would do to shake up the Giants’ frightful status quo. He really does know.

Once upon a time, Sabean was that daring G.M., and he passed the test.

Eleven years ago, Sabean traded Matt Williams for a package featuring Jeff Kent, which caused the Giants universe of fandom to implode, and forced Sabean to inform us that he was not, after all, an idiot.

Sabean is back at that place again: Should he trade Tim Lincecum to Toronto for outfielder Alex Rios? Is Rios the new Kent for the new Giants?

No, he is not. Jesus Christ, only a press corps absolutely committed to whitewashing anything this team does could see the two situations as similar. Williams for Kent was trading a washed up and soon to be out of baseball, albatross for a bunch of young talent. Lincecum is at the very start of his career, a player bursting with promise and expectations, while Rios is an already established player, a very good player, for sure, but certainly not a superstar, or anything really like one. There is no comparison here to be made, other than to compare Kawakami’s writing to a 10th grader’s “What I did this summer” essay.

Editor’s Note: OK, Uncle Joe, he wasn’t a washed up, soon to be out of baseball, albatross. He was an injured three years in a row, expensive player that Sabean traded to acquire a bunch of young talent. I stand corrected.

Alex Rios is perhaps one of the ten best outfielders in baseball, Lincecum is the 2nd or 3rd best young pitching prospect in baseball, and, at 9.23 K/9IP, arguably the best pitcher the team has. You cannot make this trade, it doesn’t matter if the Blue Jays throw in a pitcher; Lincecum has to be considered untouchable barring a move for a young superstar like Miguel Cabrera. In fact, if you felt like you had no choice other than to move Lincecum for a bat, why in the hell didn’t Sabean just dangle Lincecum and Brad Hennessey for Cabrera and Willis? Cabrera’s only three fucking years younger than Rios!! That’s a move that would have been, at the least, defensible.

Lincecum for Rios is not. Simple as that.

Kawakami’s piece also mentions being ripped by guys like me:

Again and again, I’m the bad guy for suggesting major structural changes. Result: The past few years, we’ve seen no major changes, leading to 87, 85 and 91 defeats for the Giants.

But there are no shortcuts left for the Giants. Shortcuts are usually bad, anyway. Trading Joe Nathan and Jeremy Accardo for A.J. Pierzynski and Shea Hillenbrand, respectively, were awful Sabean shortcut attempts.

Straw man again, Tim. The Nathan deal is nothing like this.

YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT TRADING ONE OF THE VERY BEST YOUNG PITCHERS IN ALL OF BASEBALL!!!



…. What?

Brian Sabean has been linked to rumors that the Giants are considering trading Lincecum and/or Cain for Hideli Matsui or Alex Rios. Are you fucking kidding me?! Now do you see why I said he should be fired? He is not fit to run a baseball team, simple as that.

The Giants have exactly two truly valuable players in their entire baseball system, and no matter how bad everything is right now, there are but a handful of players that Lincecum or Cain should be traded for. One of them was Cabrera, and he’s no longer available. Alex Rios is a very good, young player, for sure, but he’s not that kind of player, and Matsui makes me laugh, vomit and cry. He runs like he’s a hundred, he’s played about 2000 games (including his time in Japan), and he’s not that good anyway. Matsui for Lowry isn’t even a good deal, since Lowry’s almost ten years younger, and makes about 10% as much as Matsui.

Andruw Jones was signed by the Dodgers for two years, $36 million, or $18 million per. Matsui makes $13 million, so for another $5 million, the Giants could have had a much younger, more powerful, and much better defensive player without having to trade anyone. Do you see?

Trading young pitching for a 35-year old with no upside would, of course, be the exact same kind of fucking idiot deal Sabean’s been making for most of the last six or seven seasons; which is why having him at the driver’s wheel is so insane.

The team is bereft of anything of value other than young pitching. Trading it is always scary, just think Joe Nathan. Having an uninformed bonehead making these decisions will, barring dumb luck, have catastrophic ramifications for your club; so I’ll ask the question again:

What has Brian Sabean done to suggest that he and his team of scouts and analysts know what it takes to identify talent? What has he done to make Magowan believe that he should be trusted to make these decisions?

NOTHING.

There is not one player on our roster that he has gone out and gotten that is better than a Triple AAA player from any team’s roster in the entire league. Magowan’s inability to see this is why the Giants are in the position they’re in; which is to have –outside of Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez and Lowry– the least amount of viable, recognizable and ready to contribute talent of any team in baseball. No youth, no offense, no power, no defense, no speed, nothing.

If Sabean trades any of these pitchers for the kind of players we’ve heard about so far, we’re gonna turn into the fucking Devil Rays.

Let me ask another question:

Where’s Sabean gonna go after the Giants fire him in a year or two?

UPDATE: I’ve been accused of kneejerkitude, and I started to add a comment, but sometimes, the frontpage is needed.

In response to my accuser, I’d mention that I’ve been screaming about Sabean’s poor, uninformed decisions for going on four years. His decisions have flown in the face of today’s sophisticated analysis, and often make no sense even when viewed through the prism of an old-timers perspective. Forget about the Nathan disaster for a minute –that only cost us a top-level closer, starter and a couple of playoff berths and about $30 million dollars worth of makeup trades and signings– but look back at the money he’s simply thrown on the ground, money that could have been, should have been used to acquire TOP FLIGHT TALENT, talent that would be making all these choices seem worthwhile TODAY.

We couldn’t afford to make a run at Valdimir Guerrerro because we had thrown something like $40 million dollars on the ground to retain the services of JT –saves a hundred runs a year with his glove– Snow and Marvin Benard and Dunston and the rest of those shitty fucking players. We couldn’t make a run at Carlos Beltran because we had to have Mike –saves a hundred runs a year with his glove– Matheny and Matt Morris and Armando Benitez and all the other mediocrities that Sabean decided were neccessary. We have no talent to trade for a great player, and we have no money to sign a great free agent- –how many times have we heard that fucking story– but we have plenty of money to waste on washed up players like Steve Finley.

All the way back to Shawon Dunston, the Neifi Perez signing, the money thrown away on Reuter, Snow, Matheny, Benard…. I’m not gonna go read four years of my own writing, but you obviously need to, because you don’t know what you are talking about.

I didn’t wake up yesterday and make a case against Sabean. I simply reminded everyone about the fucking case I’ve made, and proven, for going on four seasons now.

Sabean has been left in the dust of yesterday, choosing to ignore today’s baseball innovations and tools, all the while continuing to drive this franchise into the ground.

No matter how you slice it, this is HIS team, he built, drafted, traded for, and acquired THIS collection of softball team misfits. Did he and Tidrow score with a couple of young pitchers? You bet. You think if you draft nothing but pitchers for a whole fucking decade you might too? ANYBODY COULD WIND UP WITH TWO GOOD YOUNG PITCHERS IF THEY DRAFTED NOTHING BUT PITCHERS FOR TEN YEARS. He gets very little credit for Cain and Lincecum in my book.

He has been riding on the coattails of the man he and the rest of his crack baseball team decided wasn’t worth the bother anymore, and now that Bonds is gone, you’re gonna see just how bad a team he’s been putting around the best player of all time. We’re all in for a bad, bad ride, and it didn’t have to be this way.



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