Archive for April, 2008

…. Odds and ends

Tim Lincecum lost his first game, due to a couple of bad pitches, several blown opportunities by the hitters, and one egregious umpire error. He still pitched well, certainly well enough to win.

Today, they took the series, beating the Rockies behind a couple of solo home runs, some terrific pitching, and one helluva great play by Fred Lewis, who, by the way, just might be the real deal. Lewis is running out a terrific .337/.419/.533 952 OPS (which is good enough for 15th in the NL).

He’s still having problems defensively, he takes some pretty bad angles. Nonetheless, he’s hitting very well, leading the team in many categories, and is starting to look like a real player.

John Bowker, on the other hand, is not. After his first five games, Bowker had run out an astounding .538/.538/1.154 1.687 OPS, with 2 home runs and 7 RBI. No one thought he could sustain even a facsimile of that level, but, damn, he’s really fallen off the face of the earth. He’s 4 for his last 44 (including going 1 for 26 on this homestand), dropping his overall stats to a Triple AAA bound .193/.217/.404 .621 OPS.

Also on the Triple AAA train, (or worse, really), is Brian Bocock. Emmanuel Burriss‘ numbers, .235/.316/.294 .610 OPS actually represent an improvement over the completely overmatched Bocock, .157/.280/.171 .452 OPS. 60 at bats is enough (too many, really) to see that, since Burriss’ arms don’t fall off when a ball is hit to him, Bocock can resume his efforts at fashioning a major league career at his true level of ability, one that he can actually enjoy some success at, like, say, Double AA.

Nothing against Bocock or Bowker, but, these guys are really, really not major league caliber at this point in their careers.

Meanwhile, Ray Durham and Rich Aurilia are done. Let’s stop talking about what a great guy he is, –I agree. He’s always been one of my favorite players– as a player, he hasn’t been worth a ball of snot in three years. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he had what looked like a nice rebound season in Cincinnati in ’06, but if you look at his year by year stats, that was as big a fluke season as Ray Durham’s was in the same season. And let’s be frank, (Oh, by the way, FUCK YOU, Costas), A GM that would throw the kind of money Sabean threw at these two players should be tarred and feathered. I mean, a couple of 35 year olds having completely fluky rebound seasons could hardly have been more predictably bad these last two years.

Aurilia’s start to the season, .232/.293/.319 .612 OPS, is simply cover-your-eyes bad. Durham is about 4% better, running out a dismal .247/.329/.370 .699 OPS, although in Ray’s defense, he is coming on at the moment. As I said, he’s doing better than our good friend Rich.

But, with 13 wins, and a record above .500 if you subtract the $126 million dollar albatross, the Giants are light years better, and more entertaining than I could have imagined. Snachez, Valdez, Lincecum, Cain, Wilson, Taschner…. I mean, damn, we’ve got some pitching.

More to look forward to than anyone expected, me at the top of the list.

UPDATE: Eliezer Alfonzo failed a drug test, and will be suspended for 50 games. I’m still surprised when anyone fails a test, but I guess we’re still seeing that most of the players who are getting caught are the borderline guys.

…. Wow

Joe Sheehan thinks Tim Lincecum is one man team:

…. Tim Lincecum is to the 2008 Giants what Steve Carlton was to those 1972 Phillies—an ace among deuces, a man among men, the only thing keeping the team out of Triple-A.

So far this season, the Giants are 5-0 when he pitches, 6-13 (now 6-15) when he doesn’t. They’re +9 in run differential and have allowed just seven runs in the five games (1.4 R/G) in which Lincecum pitched. They’re -41 and have allowed 99 runs (5.3 R/G) in the other 19.

Lincecum is the entire reason for this. Supported by 12 runs in his four starts, he’s held the opposition to just three runs in those outings. Throw in a relief appearance in his season debut (an odd game in which Bochy initially held Lincecum out due to the threat of a rain delay), and he’s allowed just four runs in 29 1/3 innings, striking out 34 men. He has yet to allow a home run and has given up just five doubles among his 27 hits allowed. Yes, 27.

That’s because, despite a great strikeout rate, the Giants’ porous defense rates 27th in the NL in Defensive Efficiency, and that has helped Lincecum allow a .380 batting average on balls in play.

His numbers could and should be better if not for the Giants’ inability to prevent singles. The return of Omar Vizquel won’t help all that much; he’s not that much better with the glove then Brian Bocock is, and the Giants’ real problem is on the right side of the infield, where they have just one marginally average defender on the days that Rich Aurilia plays first base.

Tim Lincecum is 4-0, 1.23 despite getting virtually no support from his offense or his defense. He’s the closest thing to a one-man team in MLB—his combined pitching and hitting VORP is 15.3, and the rest of the Giants have combined for 10.7.

Barry Zito is the anti-Lincecum. The team is 0-6 when he pitches, he has allowed an astounding 41 hits (7 doubles, 2 triples and 4 home runs!) and 15 walks while lasting only 28.2 innings, (4 2/3 innings per start), which, of course, is killing the bullpen. On ESPN’s stats page, he is ranked dead last among qualifying pitchers, in virtually every category. He turns everyone into an MVP candidate, with hitters running out a .336/.397/.525 .922 OPS line. The team is 11-9 without him, and the team ERA drops by more than half a run, to 3.95, when you subtract his “contribution.”

The time has come to do something about it. Send him down, put him in the bullpen, put him on the DL, whatever. You cannot keep running him out there, HE HAS NOTHING. No control, no fastball, nothing, and he is killing, KILLING the team.

Hat tip to El

UPDATE: Wow. Zito’s gonna be demoted to the bullpen, which is, essentially, an admission of a failure of the highest level imaginable. Zito’s problems needs to be corrected this season, or we’re pretty much gonna see the end of Brian Sabean. There’s no way Sabean saves his job if Zito is what he looks like now, a complete, total, catastrophic bust.

…. Pitch count

The boys backtalking over at El Lefty Malo were discussing Lincecum’s 121-pitch effort the other night. Instead of backtalking, I thought I’d use our friend OGC’s comments to start my own discussion:

Last year was Lincecum’s first year in the majors. Not only was it a learning experience for the major league staff on how to use him, but it was his first full professional season. So they cut his season a little short, both to save him and to try out others as starters. In addition, the season was lost at that point, nothing to be gained from starting him.

This is a new year. The arm strength to throw more innings was enabled by him pitching more last season, it should have prepared him to pitch a full season this year. They also have a season of handling him and now have a feel for what they can and cannot do with him. Plus, a year’s experience dealing with Tim, knowing when to believe him and when not to, seeing when they should take him out, and so forth on his behavior.

If you say that they are harming him, then list some studies where this has been shown. BP has done some work in this, but I wouldn’t say that their work is definitive yet. And most of the stuff you read on this is derived from BP’s theories.

And at what point do you stop babying him? Would you continue to shut him down every year to protect him? Would you really do that if the team was competing for the division title?

Well, that’s a bit of a stretch. Most of the work done on pitch count concerns hasn’t been done by the guys at BP. Some of it has, but certainly you wouldn’t say “most.” 100-pitch limits, pitch counts, and other methods designed to reduce the workload of young pitchers isn’t a brand-new trend, or some pie-in-the-sky sabermetrician’s made up bullshit. Teams have been limiting the amount of work done by their young –and old– pitchers for quite a while now. As for the “evidence” or studies that “prove” that pitch load limits work, well, why would that you need to “prove” anything like that?

Injuries to young pitchers are one of the most expensive mistakes/problems facing a team, and all of the value on the Giants can be found in it’s young pitchers. Limiting a young pitcher’s pitch load is a real, tangible, and important part of caring for the player, and the team investment.

My concern is that Sabean and Bochy have no idea about any of this stuff, that they don’t worry that pitch limits haven’t been “proven” to work, because they don’t think about it at all. Are there people out there who have all already forgotten about the destruction of the Giants pitching staff wrought by Felipe Alou?

…. (The Giants) 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.

So, how much “proving” do we need ? Tim Lincecum is the single most valuable commodity on the team. You could argue that he is one of the most valuable players in the entire game of baseball, and in the first 25 games of the year, Bonehead has allowed him to go back into a game to pitch after an hour-long rain delay –something normal teams don’t even do with established veteran pitchers– and then two nights ago, throw an additional 10 pitches in the 8th inning when he was leading, and had already thrown 114 pitches.

Baseball Prospectus pitcher abuse points system, which measures all of the stress on a pitcher, not just innings or pitches thrown, has Lincecum ranked second in the NL. That is fucking unbelievable. The most valuable young player in the entire Giants organization is being run out there and put under the most stress of all but one pitcher in the whole National League. Under what circumstances should this be allowed? None.

There is no reason this team should be abusing Lincecum. I’ll say it again, Bochy’s only job is to make sure Cain and Lincecum and the rest of these young pitchers don’t get injured. Anything he and Righetti do that jeopardizes the health of their young pitchers should be a fire-able offense.

Allowing Lincecum to go past 100-110 pitches is criminally stupid and careless. Why wouldn’t you want to err on the side of caution?

And let’s not forget that the team still won’t force Lincecum to ice his shoulder after his starts. How can you let him make that call? Ice is put on the shoulder as an anti-inflammatory exercise. We’re talking about a universally accepted practice that has been proven to work. How is Lincecum able to make the decision that he, out of every athlete that’s ever lived, isn’t susceptible to having his muscles swell up and become inflamed after strenuous physical work?

Again, given that this team is years away from contention, nothing but protecting these players should matter. If that means “baby” them, then yes, “baby” them. What do you have to gain allowing Lincecum to throw 120-plus pitches? Nothing. You have nothing to gain, and everything to lose.

Only idiots would treat this young player this way. Uninformed, thoughtless, idiots.

UPDATE: OK, so you do have some “proof” that icing arms isn’t quite as efficacious as one might assume, although it seems clear that the views by Dick Mills represent the work of someone who is operating outside of baseball.

Nonetheless, it appears that it is I that has been “proven” wrong, and as such, I stand corrected. Thanks to Giants Rain Man for his efforts to keep me, and my readers informed.

In my defense, I will reduce my argument to the following:

Lincecum, as our most important player, needs to be treated like such. It appears to me that the boys in the dugout are not being as careful with him as they could, or should.

…. Big little man

After last night’s 1-0 win, the Franchise ran his record to 4-0, while the Giants are now 5-0 in Lincecum’s games, and 5-13 in games in which he doesn’t appear. As I said last week, 1-0 wins are pretty rare, but it seems like a sure bet that the G-men are gonna be involved in quite a few of them.

…. Where is <i>he</i>?

Barry Zito fell to 0-5, and has everyone looking for answers.

…. Bochy responded to a question about Zito by saying, with lips clenched, “It was not a good night, not a good outing for him. I’ll leave it at that.”

…. Zito was not happy either. Nor did he make any excuses. “We came out and we capitalized on Webb’s mistakes,” he said. “They gave me a lead of 3-0, and I feel like shit. I let them back in the game. I gave them two runs in a shutdown inning, and then I went out in the fourth and gave up a hit to Webb.”

…. When Randy Winn was asked about the team losing confidence in Zito, he said, “I think that’s a little strong. I think he would say he hasn’t pitched the way he’s capable of. But if we get a few breaks today, a few bounces go differently, and we could have had a different outcome.”

…. Defeat’s harshest glare still fell on Zito, who entered the game with the National League’s lowest run support (1.23) and endured four unearned runs in his previous two starts. “It definitely doesn’t feel good to let these guys down,” Zito said. “These guys are playing their hearts out. They did what they had to do tonight. I didn’t do my job tonight. I think it’s important for me to let them know, ‘Stick with me. I’m going to get myself out of this.’ … That’s what a team does; it picks up for guys who are scuffling. They’re all great guys so I know they’re going to do that.”

It’s hard to argue that it’s not Zito’s fault, he has been terrible, but less than a run and a half of run support puts an awful lot of pressure on a pitcher. However….

Zito’s pitched 25 innings, allowed 34 hits (11 of them for extra-bases), 12 walks, just 10 strikeouts, and batters are running out an just shy of MVP-level .321/.377/.509 .886 OPS line against him. His 84 mph fastball, lack of location, and inability to make hitters miss combine to make him vulnerable in all situations. Right now, he is lost, and nobody on this team seems able to help him find his game.

Then again, maybe losing 5 miles off your fastball (for whatever reason) means he is lost and will never be found. I’m wondering why nobody seems concerned with why he’s lost his fastball. Mechanics could hardly be the sole reason for such a dramatic decline. Is he injured, and pitching through it?

I don’t know, but something’s gotta give. Even in a year where competing is a virtual non-issue, no team can just sit there and watch their most expensive player fail like this.

…. Where are we?

Well…. It’s hard to say. We’re in last place, we’re the worst offense in the game, we play pretty shitty defense…. In many ways, we’re bad.

On the other hand, we’ve got 8 wins in the first 19 games, and Tim Lincecum has been simply outstanding. Some of the other pitchers have been pretty damn good as well, Yabu, Valdez, Wilson, Walker, Taschner…. so, we’ve thrown the ball pretty well.

On the pitching front, I’d like to mention that it’s possible that Lowry’s injury is really bad, like, even career-threatening bad. You don’t hear that too often, but it needs to be considered. The injury itself seems like nothing, except it’s not. Anytime you have an injury to your pitching arm, and it turns out to be one that almost no one’s ever had, and then you start suffering setbacks…. well, it ain’t good, that’s for sure.

And then there’s Bowker. What a start, what a find. Can he continue? Unknown, at this point. But, at this point, he’s the best we’ve got. Here’s hoping.

…. Depressing?

After Brandon Webb showed Brian Sabean what a real Cy Young Award-winning pitcher looks like, Carney Lansford put it thusly:

“He’s a good pitcher, but if you make him get his sinker up you can hit him,” Lansford said. “You have to execute your game plan and not chase so many pitches out of the zone. You just can’t do that. You’ve got to be disciplined against a pitcher like that.”

Asked if it was frustrating to watch, Lansford replied, “It’s depressing, actually, watching some of our at-bats. Hopefully, it gets better.”

Ummmm…. yeah, me too.

And here’s Bonehead, talking about Zito:

“I see progress, I really do. It’s going to get better.”

Bonehead is wrong. It’s not getting better. It is what it is.

Zito, in the 37 starts since he arrived, has learned that the move to the NL hasn’t helped him at all, as some of us (me, included) thought it would. Facing a pitcher instead of a DH hasn’t made a bit of difference, or at least, it hasn’t offset the fact that Zito’s style of pitching seems to work better in the AL, for reasons too obscure for me to observe.

Additionally, as a fastball/curveball pitcher, the loss of velocity on his fastball has him pitching scared all game long, as hitters can lay off the curve, in fact, hitters have no incentive to go after the curve at all, because he can’t get his fastball by anybody. He is, in effect, a batting practice pitcher, with razor-thin margin for error. He is, in fact, a slightly better version of Woody, without the luck. A .500 pitcher, who’ll win when he is absolutely on, and lose if he’s off by justthismuch. Which makes his contract the worst in baseball history.

…. Dan-dy

That was some exciting way to win a game, no? Even the hardest boiled skeptic, (like, say, me), had to smile after last night’s second consecutive walk-off win. 1-0 wins are rare, so let’s enjoy it.

…. Your better is better than my better

That’s where we are, Giants fans. Eight games into the season, and four games out. A team hitting line that looks a lot like Neifi Perez, .221/.277/.324 .602 OPS, with four home runs, (two of which were hit by our cleanup hitter in last night’s 11-inning win).

The player with the best start? Eugenio Velez, who is posting an .864 OPS. Pitchers? Lincecum’s been terrific (1.80 ERA, 11 strikeouts in 10 IP), as have a couple other guys, but some have been horrific, including Mr. $126 million, Brad Hennessey, and Brian Wilson.

A simpler way to look at the team would be to compare what we’ve done to what our opponents have done:

The Giants have 58 hits, 11 doubles, 4 home runs, 85 total bases, 17 RBI, and have run out an ugly .221/.277/.324 line, with a .602 OPS.

Opponents have 90 Hits, 16 doubles, 8 home runs, 132 total bases, 43 RBI, and have run out a pretty .320/.388/.470 line, with an .857 OPS.

That encompasses both our offensive futility, our defensive ineptitude, and our pitching failures. I’d also guess that it probably shows our poor lineup construction, and our unimaginative and frequently flawed use of the bullpen.

UPDATE: Wow, another old guy is hurt:

Giants left fielder Dave Roberts, who admitted that he might need surgery to repair his injured left knee, went on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday.

“I don’t think we’re 100 percent committed to it, but it’s a viable option at this point,” Roberts said.

The Giants officially said before their 3-2, 11-inning victory over San Diego that Roberts had inflammation in his left knee. But Roberts said after the game that he had a torn meniscus in his knee and “stuff under my kneecap” that was causing frequent swelling.

What a surprise, (although, not to Marc). ;-)

UPDATE, Part II: I didn’t watch the game last night, I was working late, but I read about it, talked to some people who did, blah, blah, blah. Joe Sheehan did watch the game, and afterwards, he went ballistic on Bonehead:

…. In the bottom of the ninth, Jose Castillo roped a two-out, bases-empty double, giving Bochy the opportunity to make a huge mistake. With Davis due up and Brian Bocock on deck, Bochy sent Fred Lewis up to hit for Davis. Cringing yet? Bud Black couldn’t put four fingers up fast enough, sending Lewis down to first and bringing Bocock to the plate against Heath Bell. Five pitches later, the game headed to extra innings.

Say what you want about stat geeks and table-game dorks, but there’s not a halfway decent Strat player on Earth who would have wasted a player in that situation.

…. You may think this is a small thing I’m blowing up into a big one, 500 words on a decision that won’t mean much in the big picture. However, if you make a decision like Bochy’s once every two weeks, that’s 13 games you’re actively hurting your team in. I submit that managers across baseball make decisions like this–inexplicable tactical decisions that hurt their teams–a hell of a lot more often than that. Whether it’s wasting a lefty reliever on a hitter who won’t hurt you no matter who’s pitching, or building a lineup that invites tactical hammering from the opposition, or choosing the wrong pinch-hitter for the situation, managers routinely show weakness in this area, an area of the game that should be second nature.

I’ll submit that Bonehead makes mistakes like that all the time. Whether it’s running four pitchers out to get three outs when the Giants are down five, or failing to understand the rudiments of filling out a lineup card, Bonehead is mailing it in at best; completely useless at worst. The simplest aspects of baseball –from major league team construction, to stocking our farm system, to deciding who to pay and how much to pay them– are utterly lost on this team, and nobody –NOBODY– in the entire organization seems to notice.

I’ll bet the players notice. I’ll bet the players on both teams notice. And I’ll bet that, if Bonehead hasn’t lost the locker room yet, it’s only because the team is made up almost entirely of guys who consider themselves lucky to be here; because either they’re too old, too crappy, or too young.

Hat tip to the backtalkers at El Lefty Malo

…. Compounded and confounded

Again, I ask, Bruce Bochy? That’s who we needed to get when we decided that perhaps the rumors about Felipe Alou’s destructive ways with pitchers were true? Now, we’re at the start of the second full season with Bochy as the manager, and there is nothing that has happened since he’s been here to make me feel any better than I did the day he arrived:

More good news out of the Giants camp, as we learn that manager Bruce Bochy intends to let the Giants run and run:

…. “I would like to have our guys play their game,” Bochy said. “I don’t want to change the game because we do have Barry in the cleanup hole. You get to the point of diminishing returns sometime when you try to force the issue. If we think now is the time to run or hit-and-run, we’re going to play the game. You can’t sit back and wait on one guy or two guys. “

Since all I ever do is complain, let me just explain how happy I am to hear this. Fantastic news, really, especially since, with Bonds batting fourth; there will be already at least 70 games in which he won’t get to the plate in the first inning. Now we get the additional treat of advocating a reckless, proven to be virtually useless “speed” game, which will also provide the added treat of watching a) Bonds being intentionally walked with first base open an extra 20 times, and b) another ten or twenty first innings ending with Bonds in the on-deck circle as these old men get thrown out. Hooray.

Doesn’t anyone in the Giants organization read books? You know, baseball books, with information, research and analysis in them? Bochy, a grizzly, veteran-loving, old basball playing, tobacco-chewing, tough guy (who once famously intentionally walked Bonds in a meaningless situation after proclaiming how his team would never fear any one hitter), is now the second coming of Whitey Herzog. I’m telling you, I’m starting to have real thoughts of abandoning this team, as they continue down a path of baseball ignorance that I simply cannot stomach anymore.

That’s from December of 2006. That’s right, I was already talking about dumping this team almost two years ago. It also means that we’ve been hearing this lie about youth and speed for the same amount of time. Right about now, you must be wondering where I’m going with this rant. So, what’s my point, anyway?

Bruce Bochy, who will from this point forward be known as Bonehead, will not be here when this team is good again. He will not be here when Lincecum wins a Cy Young. He will not be here when Matt Cain finally gets some runs. He is keeping the chair warm for a real manager. By the time the Giants are competitive again, Bochy will be on ESPN telling us how important it is to have a set lineup that puts your worst hitters in the top of the order so as to get their horrible at-bats out of the way quickly.

In the meantime, his job is pretty fucking simple. DON’T GET LINCECUM OR CAIN INJURED!!!!!!!

Last night, Bonehead decided that protecting the single most valuable commodity in the entire fucking organization was for pansey’s. A real man, one who chews tobacco and kicks his dog, can pitch for an inning and then take an hour and a half break and come back just fine. Youngest player on the team? No issue. Best player on the team? Whatever. He’s tough.

…. Lincecum entered the game to pitch the fourth inning, his first relief appearance since college, after Valdez and Jack Taschner pitched shutout ball over the first three.

In a stunning and risky move involving the young pitcher they call The Franchise, Bochy allowed Lincecum to pitch one inning then return to a cold, damp mound after sitting through the 74-minute delay. Even older, established pitchers rarely do that.

Lincecum threw 84 pitches over four innings, allowing one run and striking out four to get the win. What a turnabout from last season, when the Giants babied Lincecum so he would not overtax his valuable right arm.

Bochy defended the decision, saying, “If we thought we were going to hurt his arm, we wouldn’t have done it.”

Bochy conferred with Lincecum, pitching coach Dave Righetti and bullpen coach Mark Gardner during the delay. Lincecum reminded them he often sat through rain delays during high school and college games in Washington. But even Lincecum later admitted he had not returned after a delay as long as Wednesday’s.

“That,” he said, “was a first for me.”

Lincecum also acknowledged the move might be viewed as risky, “but it doesn’t feel like it to me. My arm felt good. People have called me a freak of nature before. This will give them another reason.”

Had the delay gone a few minutes longer, Bochy said, he would have gone with another pitcher. That’s what Torre did. He had Billingsley start the fifth inning before the delay, but Esteban Loaiza took the mound when the game resumed.

If we thought we were going to hurt his arm, we wouldn’t have done it. Unbelievable. We’re three games into the season, and here’s what we’ve already learned:

Bonehead doesn’t know how to put together a lineup. He doesn’t know how to get his players ready to play defense. He doesn’t know how to decide who should play or sit. He doesn’t know how to organize his bullpen, or use it. He doesn’t know how to get his players ready to play, to pitch, to catch the ball, or to hit. And he doesn’t know who is valuable, or how to handle them. Other than that, he’s doing a bang-up job.

And, as for Magowan’s regrets, well, interestingly enough, I wrote about it in that same post:

…. “I can’t tell you how many conversations we had with excellent free-agent players during this offseason who did want to come here,” Magowan said. “We ended up with Ray Durham, but there were some excellent other second baseman who wanted to come here. This image that we’re going to go out and get players, and not be able to deliver on that, the public perception, I regret that.”

Yeah, well, regrets are like assholes, Peter. I regret that you are either blind to the failings of your GM, or are blind to your own; because at this point in time, 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 is it really 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 or up for renewal, $27 million to Benitez, 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.

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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
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