The Giants beat the hapless Washington Nationals yesterday 11-7, behind Randy Johnson. The Big Unit won his 298th game, and the offense took advantage of a massive number of walks to score a season-high 11 runs. The win pushed the team's record to 17-14, and I have to say I'm surprised.
I'd also have to say that this run isn't sustainable. You can't win more than half your games when you allow more runs than you score (128-120), and when you score the fewest number of runs in the entire baseball world. With just 120 runs scored in their first 31 games, the Giants have been the beneficiary of close to perfect timing, serendipity if you like. They've won two games by a score of 1-0, two games by a score of 2-0, and several others by just one or two runs. The odds of this continuing throughout the season are long, indeed.
During the pregame show, John Shea reports that Adam Dunn, said that the Giants never called this past off-season. Dunn, who landed a two-year deal worth $20 million –or just slightly more than Edgar Renteria got from Sabean– said that he would have had no problem playing at PacBell:
…. “This place doesn't scare me. You can definitely find better places to hit if that's what you're looking for. As far as home run-wise, I wouldn't (not) go someplace because the park's too big. If I hit it, it's going to go.”
Dunn is second in the NL with 11 home runs and 28 runs batted in. The Giants, as a team, have hit just 16 home runs. So, to reiterate, the team lied when they told us they weren't pursuing Dunn because they knew he wasn't interested in playing at PacBell.
The truth is that Sabean thinks it's fine to have a mediocre bat at first base –a premiere offensive position that the team has failed to fill adequately since Will Clark– because Sabean thinks defensive whiz first basemen save 100 runs a season, and Sabean thinks that veterans with track records –or as they're more commonly known, washed up players– are more valuable than young, power-hitting players who know how to get on base.
So, with the $9 million were giving to Renteria this year, in 108 at-bats our shortstop has scored 18 runs, banged out 5 doubles, 2 home runs, and a .258/.328/.358 .687 OPS line this season. Last season, in 124 at-bats at short, Emmanuel Burriss scored 19 runs, banged out 5 doubles, 1 triple and 1 home run, and ran out a .306/.382/.387 .768 OPS line. This season, Burriss has struggled a bit, but still has managed to post an OPS of .632, just a hair below Edgar.
How have the Nationals done with the $10 million they're paying Dunn for 2009? He's scored 19 runs, banged out 4 doubles, 11 home runs, and run out a .318/.457/.655 1.112 OPS line. Yeah, why would the Giants need a player like that?
UPDATE: Lots of great stuff in the backtalk, but I can't help but wondering what the optimists are looking at when they continue to suggest that the Dodgers can be had. The Dodgers are leading the NL in runs scored and runs allowed. I
don't care how much you hate them, they are playing phenomenal baseball right now. Did you see that play Kemp made last night, scoring from second on a bunt to the third baseman? When was the last time a Giant made a play like that?
ESPN's expected wins calculator shows that the Dodgers are 23-12 and they should be 24-11. The Giants are 18-15 and should be 15-18. Sure, our pitching matches up well with them, but we're at the bottom on offense and they're at the top, averaging a full run and a half more per game. They are the best team in the entire league right now, and even with Manny gone for a third of the season, they will still be better than the Giants by a substantial margin.
And, not for nothing, but I cannot believe how many people have taken the time to point out all of Dunn's shortcomings. His positives so far outweigh his negatives as to make your arguments laughable to the point of absurdity. He's a 28-year old who's hit 40 home runs and drawn well over 100 walks FIVE YEARS IN A ROW!! And all you guys want to talk about is how he isn't a great defender? Are you fucking kidding somebody? Make a point that matters, for Chrissakes, instead of sitting here telling me we have no room on our team for a player who will hit more home runs than our whole fucking team.
FIRST BASE IS AN OFFENSIVE POSITION
The top teams in the league get elite production from first base. Ranking all of the teams in both leagues by total bases by first basemen is startling. The Giants have 31 total bases from first base, Tampa Bay is number one, with 88. The average team gets 65 total bases from the position. This is the highest average of any position, and this holds true for virtually every offensive category. The Giants are the only team in the league that considers defense an important attribute for a first baseman. Every other team puts their best hitter there, and hopes for the best.
That is what championship teams do, by the way, since we know that the Giants strategy hasn't produced a championship in my lifetime.
Here's what a real GM of the worst offense in baseball would have done, during an off-season in which a guy who'd hit 40 home runs five years in a row was basically siting at home with his hat in his hands; call him up, and say, hey Adam, we'll do the extra year that no one else will, say, 3 years for $33 million, and all we ask of you is to spend the off-season working out with JT Snow, because we need you to play first base.
How hard would that have been? It would have taken something more than just throwing the most money in the ground, like Sabean did with Zito, outbidding the rest of baseball by $25 million. It would have taken leadership and imagination and, sure, some risk. But we've got an up and coming pitching staff that needs some runs, and signing a declining Edgar Renteria for top dollar right out of the box was thoughtless, full of just as much, if not more risk, and wasteful. And, by the way, worthless. The Giants had the worst offense in baseball last year with Burriss at short, and now we have the worst offense in baseball with Renteria at short, with $18 million dollars less to go after a real hitter.