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Archive for December, 2008


…. Money money money… MONEY!

So we managed to land the ancient Mariner, as predicted. $8 million dollars for a one-year deal, with incentives. I could hardly care less, at this point. It’s hard to stay interested in this kind of horseshit team-building, or whatever you want to call it.



…. Worthy of the Hall

Here’s two writers, explaining how they think the Hall of Fame should change it’s ways. The first is Dan Rosenheck, writing for the NY Times:

…. a little-noticed quirk of the Hall’s voting procedures has denied a vast majority of candidates their due period of deliberation. To prevent the electorate from being swamped by an overwhelmingly long list of choices, the organization permanently removes everyone from the ballot who fails to attain 5 percent of the vote in any year. This condemns those players to obscurity because their names will be excluded from the annual ballot debate among baseball pundits nationwide.

He goes on to detail the mant players whom he feels have been slighted by this quirk, including Bobby Grich and Alan Trammell.

The second writer is Joe Sheehan:

…. still comfortably ensconced in my position as an outsider to the process, I’d like to suggest that the 15-year window for eligibility has long outgrown its usefulness. With all of the information available about modern players—information accessible in a heartbeat—you can cut that by two-thirds and still get solid evaluations of players’ careers. In addition, by lowering the eligibility window, you can eliminate the five percent rule that has claimed a handful of players, such as Lou Whitaker, who deserved greater consideration. That rule was designed to clean up the ballot, but with players only staying on for five years, the ballot would be plenty clean.

Both suggestions come from the same place, the same notion, that the Hall of Fame voting process needs revision. It needs updating. In fact, Sheehan already wrote a piece about the Hall of Fame earlier this off-season, bringing up the BBWAA’s refusal to open it’s doors wider, (notwithstanding the fact that several internet writers have recently been included). Since he never really made a petition for his own inclusion, let me be the one to say it; Joe Sheehan absolutely should be a voter in the Hall of Fame process. Then again, so should Bill James, David Pinto, and many, many others.

The BBWAA is stuck in the past. The time has come to change the process in many ways. Of all the ideas, however, I still think the best one is the simplest. I’d like to see the Hall open up the voting to lots of writers. Bill James wrote about this many years ago, his idea was to set up a fairly simple application process, with a test or something like it, maybe even an interview, and anyone interested could do their homework, prepare, and either they know enough about the game and it’s history to be included, or they don’t.

More voters wouldn’t make it easier for players to get in. It wouldn’t harm the Hall, it wouldn’t cheapen the honor. It would broaden and expand the arguments for and against each player. It would prevent players from being denied because the only people who can vote on them didn’t like them, or thought they were assholes, or rude to kids, or whatever. It would lessen the impact of any one person, and almost certainly make it harder for a marginal candidate to be inducted unless his value can be explained in a detailed and convincing way.

This would be a good thing. A meeting of the minds between the old establishment, the BBWAA, and the new, the baseball blogosphere’s best, would be a good thing, too. The future is now, the time has come for this kind of progress.



…. Been there, Dunn that

I seem to have gotten a lot of flak for suggesting that Adam Dunn might be a free agent the Giants could use. I understand he’s a flawed player, but for crying out loud, so is every player on the roster, (with the possible exception of the Franchise). Dunn’s flaws are well-known, but so are his strengths, power and walks, only the most lethal combination of plusses a player can have.

Oh, and for all intents and purposes; he could be landed for something like $12 million per, or just a bit more money than the team just wasted on Edgar Renteria.

At Baseball Reference.com, Dunn’s list of most comparable players is, quite frankly, filled with Hall of Famers and superstars, names like Barry Bonds, Daryl Strawberry, Jose Canseco, Harmon Killebrew, Reggie Jackson, Roger Maris, Troy Glaus, Pat Burrell, Boog Powell, Kevin Mitchell …. I mean, are you kidding me? That’s a hell of a list. And here he is, a 29 year old who’s hit 40 or more home runs five years in a row, and he can’t find a job? He’s not good enough for the team with the worst offense in baseball?

Oh wait, he has stone hands and no range? Please. What a crock.

The guy is a poor man’s Texiera, and could be had for something like 4 years, $50 million (you know, like the deal we gave Aaron Rowand, who is half the player with a bat in his hands), and he would be a splash hit threat every time he came to the plate. Or maybe we should just give 450 at bats to this guy.



…. Backtalk

Here’s what Fischum says:

Mia – you’re just like all the other armchair GM’s out there who do nothing but bitch and moan. So what’s your solution? Let’s hear it. What did you expect, one year of re-building and the Giants would be WS contenders? The fact is, Renteria isn’t blocking anyone in the minors (hence the 2 year deal) and Randy Johnson would be a nice addition at the back end of the rotation for one year giving Alderson and Bumgarner some more experience in the minors.

Well, first off, Renteria is “blocking” someone, he’s blocking Emmanuel Burriss, who may still be a real shortstop. And no one here — or at least no one who is making the same argument as I am– is saying we think the Giants hsould be contending for a World Series berth. I am saying that Renteria is a waste of resources. That the $10 million could be spent, should be spent, improving the offense.

And again, I hear how Randy Johnson would shore up the back of our rotation, and that makes me wonder….

The strength of this team is supposed to be our starting pitching, so why the hell would we be spending money on a 45-year old pitcher? Not to mention, that if you are talking about shoring up your startng rotation, then you must be thinking about contending. And if you are thinking about contending, THIS TEAM NEEDS OFFENSE!!!!!!!

But, I digress….

Anyway, here’s a couple of alternative “solutions”

1. Leave Burriss at short and give Renteria’s $10 million to Adam Dunn to play first base. He’ll only hit about 50 home runs playing half his games at PacBell, walk 150 times, and more than make up –way more– for whatever boost everyone thinks Renteria was gonna give us over Burriss.

2. Get a contending team to take Dave Roberts off our hands, and then take the savings –along with the money you don’t spend on Renteria– and make a run — a real run– at Texeira. That’s $17 million right there, I guarantee you the team can find $3 million more. I mean, they’re talking about landing the Unit, who will command no less than $10 milion per. Then plug in the young guys everyone keeps talking about, and maybe you have a contender for real.

That’s just off the top of my head, and doesn’t include any trade ideas. I’m not arguing that Renteria isn’t better than Burriss, that he isn’t an upgrade at short; I’m saying that instead of throwing $10 million dollar deals at guys who are little more than established, league-average players, Sabean could get creative, and make something really happen.



…. Keep it continuous

Here’s Bonehead Bochy’s early lineup card:

RF Randy Winn

SS Edgar Rentereia

3B Pablo Sandoval

C Bengie Molina

LF Fred Lewis

CF Aaron Rowand

1B Travis Ishikawa

2B Emmanuel Burriss, Kevin Frandsen or Eugenio Velez

Last season, the Giants were at or near the bottom in virtually every offensive category from the 3 and 4 spots in the lineup. Adding Renteria in the third slot, and leaving Molina as our cleanup hitter is the same as doing nothing. It means that we will be the same team we were last season, an anemic offense with some decent to spectacular starting pitching.

Not for nothing, but I don’t really have a problem with Sabean shit-canning the year and focusing on next. Just be honest about it.

But saying you are going to try and win, and then going out and making no significant changes to a last place offense, well, that’s infuriating. Sabean and company should be broiled for ignoring Texeria, a 28-year old stud who could carry the offense for the next six or seven years.

In fact, this team could hardly need Texeira more, if they intend to play to win, as Sabean seems to be suggesting they are.

Instead, we get to hear how we’re gonna go get the “still dominating” 45-year old Randy Johnson. Again, the team’s strength is supposed to be starting pitching, but we’re gonna sign a fossil of a starting pitcher. Great And after we’re done signing Johnson to another $10 million dollar deal, you will see that the $20 million needed to land Texeira will be laying on the ground between him and Renteria.

That’s just plain stupid.

UPDATE: As pointed out by Giantsrainman, Renteria is batting second. My bad.

But even so, the Giants were at the bottom in that slot as well (87 runs, 14th in the NL, 258 total bases, 12th, .322 OBP, 12th), and Renteria is projected to produce something just like that, so my point still holds. In his last big season, 2007, he scored 87 runs, had 232 total bases, and a .390 OBP, and that was the best season he’s run out in his last five. Last season he was nowhere near any of those numbers.

And your argument that Sandoval will be a big upgrade with the bat and the glove is based on what? Here’s how John Sickels sees him:

…. 2006 was an odd year. He hit just .265/.309/.322 for Augusta in the Sally League, with significant slippage in his plate discipline and no power. He played first base and third base, but without showing enough offense for either position. I left him out of the 2007 book, but would rate him a Grade C prospect, looking like he might get lost in the shuffle, though he was still just 19.

He recovered some stock value in 2007, hitting .287/.312/.476 for San Jose in the Cal League and moving back to catcher. Arm strength remained an asset, but problems with footwork and polish were present, granted moving positions didn’t help him gain consistency. His walk rate was quite low, just 16 walks in 401 at-bats, but the strikeouts weren’t out of bounds at 52 and the better power production was notable. I gave him a Grade C in the book this year, writing that the bat was intriguing but that I wasn’t sure where he would fit defensively.

Sandoval has been terrific this year: .359/.412/.597 in the California League, .337/.364/.549 in the Eastern League, .349/.366/.500 for the Giants. Given his age, I think this improvement is mostly for real, although I don’t think the .349 average will be sustainable over a full season. But I think he can hit .280-.300, with at least moderate power. Defensively, he’s spent time at first base, catcher, and third base for the Giants. The sample sizes are too small at each position for the defensive numbers to mean much, so I’m still unsure where he fits best in the long run. Obviously having a catcher who can hit like that is harder to find than a first baseman.

Poor footwork, lack of experience at the corner infield spots, devastatingly low OBP, and one good year out of four in the minors means he’s better than Pedro Feliz or whoever that horror show was last season?

I sure hope so, because, once again, the team has chosen to ignore the possibility of going after any of the top hitters available. And you can argue all you want about why you think they didn’t, but in the end, not having the financial wherewithal has to be considered one of the primary reasons. And $10 million dollars year for the Edgar Renteria’s of the baseball world is the reason they are in that spot.



…. Mr. Professional

Here’s your Giants GM, showing the world why I complain about him all the time:

…. Any money that might have been used to pursue the pitcher didn’t suddenly become available to chase either of the elite free-agent hitters, Mark Teixeira or Manny Ramirez, (right?)

“No,” general manager Brian Sabean said.

So the rotation and lineup are pretty much as is. The Giants have four starters in place, are looking for one more on the free-agent market and have no plan to go after A.J. Burnett or Derek Lowe.

It would be a one-year deal, Sabean said, and Randy Johnson, 45, is as expensive as it’ll get.

As for everyday players, Sabean remains pessimistic about trading for a corner infielder, saying, “I don’t know how much more we can spin the Rubik’s cube.”

Exactly, because we’ve got four mediocrities making $10 million per, instead of one or two stars making $15 million. Because we have no long-term plan, and no vision.

Wait, it gets better:

…. “We never made an offer. We never had a meeting,” Sabean said. “It wasn’t even pie-in-the-sky. It was the longest of long shots.”

In an interview in his Bellagio suite, Sabean told four reporters that the media are to blame for making the Sabathia-Giants development seem bigger than it was. The more he spoke, the more riled and defensive he seemed to get.

He was particularly annoyed when asked about fans’ possible perception that the attention given to Sabathia now could go to Teixeira or Ramirez.

“The press created that perception. I didn’t,” Sabean said. “When did we say we’re going after Sabathia? When? When did we say we’re going to make an offer? When did we say we’re going to give him $100 million or $160 million? No, never. That’s your problem. You created it. So because you created it and it’s in my lap, now you’re right, now I’ve got to respond to the fans. That’s what’s wrong with the process.”

In retrospect, Sabean questioned Sabathia’s interest in returning to his Northern California roots.

“How interested was he? He said he was interested. Do I know that? I never met with the player,” Sabean said. “So everywhere you turn with this, because you guys created the perception, I’ve got to respond to this, and I and the organization get fucked, and I’m sick of it. So it’s now my fault that we’re not going after Teixeira when everybody in the press has us going after Sabathia.”

Uh, yeah, well, all you would’ve needed to do to change that perception is, you know, speak. The perception is that you are incompetent, because you are. If Sabathia said he wanted to stay in Northern California, you owed it to the fans to have a meeting with him, and find out for yourself just how sincere that sentiment was.

Just like you owe it to the fans to field a competitive team, something we haven’t done in 5 years.

I gotta go, so discuss amongst yourselves until I get back, but I’m not done….



…. Clarity

Here’s your Giants GM, showing the world why I complain about him all the time:

…. Any money that might have been used to pursue the pitcher didn’t suddenly become available to chase either of the elite free-agent hitters, Mark Teixeira or Manny Ramirez, (right?)

“No,” general manager Brian Sabean said.

So the rotation and lineup are pretty much as is. The Giants have four starters in place, are looking for one more on the free-agent market and have no plan to go after A.J. Burnett or Derek Lowe.

It would be a one-year deal, Sabean said, and Randy Johnson, 45, is as expensive as it’ll get.

As for everyday players, Sabean remains pessimistic about trading for a corner infielder, saying, “I don’t know how much more we can spin the Rubik’s cube.”

Exactly, because we’ve got four mediocrities making $10 million per, instead of one or two stars making $15 million. Because we have no long-term plan, and no vision.

Wait, it gets better:

…. “We never made an offer. We never had a meeting,” Sabean said. “It wasn’t even pie-in-the-sky. It was the longest of long shots.”

In an interview in his Bellagio suite, Sabean told four reporters that the media are to blame for making the Sabathia-Giants development seem bigger than it was. The more he spoke, the more riled and defensive he seemed to get.

He was particularly annoyed when asked about fans’ possible perception that the attention given to Sabathia now could go to Teixeira or Ramirez.

“The press created that perception. I didn’t,” Sabean said. “When did we say we’re going after Sabathia? When? When did we say we’re going to make an offer? When did we say we’re going to give him $100 million or $160 million? No, never. That’s your problem. You created it. So because you created it and it’s in my lap, now you’re right, now I’ve got to respond to the fans. That’s what’s wrong with the process.”

In retrospect, Sabean questioned Sabathia’s interest in returning to his Northern California roots.

“How interested was he? He said he was interested. Do I know that? I never met with the player,” Sabean said. “So everywhere you turn with this, because you guys created the perception, I’ve got to respond to this, and I and the organization get fucked, and I’m sick of it. So it’s now my fault that we’re not going after Teixeira when everybody in the press has us going after Sabathia.”

Uh, yeah, well, all you would’ve needed to do to change that perception is, you know, speak. The perception is that you are incompetent, because you are. If Sabathia said he wanted to stay in Northern California, you owed it to the fans to have a meeting with him, and find out for yourself just how sincere that sentiment was.

Just like you owe it to the fans to field a competitive team, something we haven’t done in 5 years.

I gotta go, so discuss amongst yourselves until I get back, but I’m not done….



…. Brave new world

Several of the Baseball Prospectus writers have been admitted into the BBWAA, which means they will be able to vote on the Hall of Fame, the MVP Award, and the Cy Young Award, among other privileges.

Many of these writers are my writing friends, including Rob Neyer, Keith Law, Christina Karl, and Will Carroll, who has been one of my staunchest supporters since I started OBM almost six years ago.

Congratulations to all of them, and here’s hoping this is the beginning of the BBWAA becoming ever more inclusive. Bill James, for one, should be on their radar.

Hat tip to David Pinto, who also should be on the list.



…. Talk talk

I’ve been seeing around the baseball blogosphere that I may be in the minority here, an angry Giants fan with not much to say. One of David Pinto’s readers commented:

I read the article and the guy really has no argument. He just rambles on about how the Giants have screwed up so many times before. Nothing but an angry Giants fan.

Well, that’s not true at all. Maybe it’s that I was more mad than analytical, but I have an argument, so let me be more clear.

The Renteria signing is a mistake because Renteria is a poor fit for this team. He is not a young player. He has no upside. He will not be a Giant when this team is contending for a championship. He ties up resources and a roster spot, and his production –what he brings to the party– will not be enough to justify signing him. He is not worth $9 million dollars for a seasons worth of his work. And Emmanuel Burriss might, just might, be able to handle the position for some $400,000.00, which would then free up that money to go after a real, difference-maker.

Not to mention:

…. One National League executive who saw Renteria last year said he looked 100 years old. Many observers reported a marked decline in his defensive range.

…. (Another) National League scout who saw Renteria often last year had a mixed assessment.

“I think the questions at this point have more to do with the defensive side than the offensive side,” the scout said. “He’s a player who’s lost a step. He still has the actions to play shortstop, but the question is how many balls can he get to? He has definitely lost some range in both directions.”

But the Giants scouted Renteria and saw a still-solid, National League-style No. 2 hitter in August and September.

So here’s a player that was so bad, the Tigers basically released him –sacrificing their replacement draft picks– not wanting to even imagine that he’d accept arbitration and be back next season, a player that anyone can see has entered the decline phase of his career, a player who came to camp last season fat and out of shape, even though he was playing for a new contract, likely to be the last big one of his career, and our GM looked at this same player and said this:

“I think the second half is more indicative of what he’s capable of. He was scouted heavily. We did a thorough statistical analysis of his second half versus his first half. We have no reservations about him being our shortstop let alone what he’s going to do on offense.”

He doesn’t walk much, he doesn’t steal, he grounds into a lot of double plays, he doesn’t drive in runs, he doesn’t score many runs, and he actually doesn’t get a lot of hits. He is a league average player, one that is far more likely to decline than he is to even just stay the same. Oh, and that says nothing about the very real possibility that he spends significant time on the DL. We’re talking about $9 million dollars.

Here’s Renteria average season over the last three: .298/.356/.429 .785 OPS with 85 runs scored and 60 runs batted in.

Is that really gonna help the Giants, a team that scored 680 runs last season?

Additionally, it reminds me that Brian Sabean and his crack team of baseball people have no plan for the future, no vision for building this team. This is $11 million per for Aaron Rowand, this is $6 million per for Benji Molina, this is $9 million for Randy Winn…. These are fine players, but on a contender, these would be considered complementary players. These are the kind of players you add to a team to fill out a roster, to supplement your stars. On the Giants, these are the stars, the best players on the team.

When league average guys making millions of dollars are the foundation of your team, you can never get the stars, because your baseline guys eat up too much money.

This is the same move this team has been making forever, and we’re supposed to be building for the future. This doesn’t do that.

I have nothing against Edgar Renteria, and I hope he has a terrific season. But, unless this is the first of about four major signings for MLB-caliber, top-ten offense at the position players, it is throwing money on a bonfire.

UPDATE: I’m not alone:

…. Can anyone explain, however, what Brian Sabean is doing in San Francisco? When he got rid of Ray Durham and Omar Vizquel, wasn’t it with the idea of getting younger? Then he signs the 33-year-old Renteria and 35-year-old reliever Bob Howry, both coming off bad years. Howry had a 5.35 ERA in 70 appearances while Renteria had a .317 on-base percentage with greatly diminished range after playing about 10 pounds heavier all season.

Said one scout: “Renteria may be 33, but he played like 38 last year. I can’t imagine anyone making a worse signing than that one.”



…. Really?

Under the heading, Signing of Renteria a wise decision by Giants, Keith Law smears the following horseshit all over his computer:

…. The signing of Edgar Renteria makes the Giants more competitive in 2009 and probably 2010, but at no cost to the generally bright long-term picture in San Francisco. He doesn’t cost them a draft pick and won’t be blocking any major prospects.

…. The point worth emphasizing here is the complete change in operating philosophy for the Giants over the past 12 months. GM Brian Sabean and his staff appear committed to a rebuilding project, and are working to fit short-term contention (or at least respectability) into the rebuilding plan, rather than following the old plan of deliberately giving away draft picks and fielding the oldest team permitted under American labor laws.

What? Complete change in operating philosophy? Are you fucking kidding me?

In what world does signing an old player mean you’re not signing old players anymore?

For a team that has had to deal with one albatross contract after another over the last decade, contracts that have then been used as an excuse for not going out and getting the one or two players they’ve needed to solve their problems, the one or two players who could have been the difference between a championship and not, a team with no chance whatsoever to contend next season, and who absolutely have to do everything they possibly can to begin the process of fielding a team that is younger than me; signing the soon to be 34-year old Renteria is making the exact same mistake they’ve been making since they passed on Vladimir Guerrerro because they were paying his salary to JT Snow and Marvin Benard.

Last off-season, we needed a shortstop, so we went out and signed a center-fielder to a $10 million dollar a year contract. This year, we clearly need offense, so why not throw $15 million dollars a year at two relief pitchers and a shortstop? Who cares about getting around to addressing the actual needs of the team?

Now, we’re gonna hear that we can’t afford a player like Texeira because we have to pay $15 million for Zito, $10 million for Renteria, $11 million for 31-year old Rowand, $9 million for 34-year old Randy Winn, $4.5 million(!) for 35-year old Rob Howry, something like $6.5 million on 35-year old Benji Molina; all players whose production can be replaced for at or near league-minimum pay. This story has been going on since Sabean got here. We couldn’t retain Bill Meuller, or Ellis Burks, or David Bell, we couldn’t go after Guerrerro, A-Rod, Giambi, or any of the top free agents these last 10 years, because we keep signing mediocrity to these wasteful, thoughtless, albatross contracts.

Law says that he didn’t cost them a draft pick. Well, so fucking what? Since when is saving draft picks a reason to throw $18 million dollars at a problem that doesn’t exist?

The Giants have no power at virtually every position on the diamond, no youth ANYWHERE; and the first thing they do is throw $18 million dollars at a 33-year old shortstop who hit 10 home runs last season? That’s a wise move? Doing nothing would have been better, a whole lot better.

He’s not blocking any prospects? Then go out and get a YOUNG shortstop. Trade some pitching for a bunch of prospects. Or better yet, get a real player, one that is, you know, entering his prime, and pay him whatever the fuck he wants, and actually solve a problem. I mean, for crying out loud, is it that hard?

No, instead, we get to read how the Giants are in the running for C.C. Sabbathia (and now, Randy Johnson!?). What? We’re gonna spend another $125 million dollars on one starting pitcher, and sign a fucking fossil of another, when starting pitching is is the one thing we actually have.

The Giants haven’t had a real first basemen since Will Clark was traded, and one of the best ones in the game is a free agent. I don’t know, maybe you could go and sign that guy.

Texeira’s looking for something like 7 years, $160 million, right? Well, if you’ve got money to burn, why don’t you GO GET HIM!!!!! (It’ll never happen, I know) Even with the horrible team you already have, adding Texeira alone could push the team’s run production up 80 or even 100 runs, which would put them right around a .500 team. A little luck, and in the weak NL West, they might even be competitive.

What’s Renteria gonna do, help ‘em score 700 runs?

And then when he gets hurt, as virtually all 33 and 34 year old players do, we’ll be pouring those millions of dollars on the ground, and consequently, we’ll be unable to address that, or any other problem all teams face during the season.

Put another way, there is no way you could argue that Renteria is worth 20 times what Burriss is. The Giants have huge offensive black holes at first base, third base, and the outfield, as well as the worst bench in all of baseball. Additionally, the team actually has a shortstop who is young, fast, and healthy.

Deciding that shortstop is the first area to address is ridiculous, a testament to the poor planning, lack of vision, and complete incompetence that the front office of this team has been demonstrating for most of the last decade.

And, not for nothing, for Keith Law to actually sit down and write an article declaring that he thinks that this was a “wise move” is laughable.



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