Archive for July, 2009
Perhaps The Idiot is a bit harsh. Perhaps I was upset, and having gotten a good night's sleep, maybe I should reconsider.
After all, I love the Giants, and writing angry can sometimes lead me astray.
I apologize. I let my emotions get the better of me. I was angry and disappointed, and I shouldn't call people names, nor be so relentlessly harsh.
Sabean did upgrade the team, something we all wanted.
For all we know, the asking price of the home run twins out of Washington was Bumgarner or Posey or some other such absurdity, and they never were really available at all.
I don't know that it wasn't, but here's what I do know, and what I think about it….
After 2005, a season in which the Giants scored 649 runs, and were pretty much the worst offense in baseball, Sabean acquired Shea Hillebrand and Jose Vizcaino. Read that sentence twice. He also traded for Randy Winn mid-season, who ran out an astounding .359/.391/.680 1.013 OPS line, and hit 14 home runs in 58 games, a stretch of power and production not seen before nor since. It bears mentioning that Brian Sabean decided Winn's new found level of offense was real, ignoring Randy Winn's career statistics up to that point; and signed him to an albatross contract immediately.
In 2006, the Giants scored 746 runs –still in the bottom five in the NL–but a huge upswing nonetheless, mostly due to a full season of Randy Winn (who managed only 11 home runs in his first full season) another 20 home run season by Pedro Feliz, Moises Alou's 22 home runs in 98 games, Omar Vizquel's last productive season, and a huge bounce back year from Ray Durham, (whom Sabean re-signed). When '06 ended, Sabean began purging some of the old and broken players, primarily Moises Alou and Omar Vizquel.
At this point, it was clear that Sabean had miscalculated, in major ways, the value and potential production of players like Ray Durham, Edgardo Alfonzo, Mark Sweeney, Steve Finley, and, of course, Dave Roberts, who was the centerpiece of Sabean's off-season. These players represented well over $50 million dollars in contracts, and for the most part, they failed to produce even league-average numbers.
We then “enjoyed” a 2007 season in which Ray Durham fell apart, Omar Vizquel fell apart, Edgardo Alfonzo fell apart, Rich Aurilia fell apart, Lance Neikro fell apart, and Dave Roberts produced almost exactly what I predicted he would, the Giants were, once ag
ain, once of the worst offense in baseball.
Let's stop here, and think about this for a second. Since the start of the 2004 season, Brian Sabean went out and signed or traded for the following players: Randy Winn, Aaron Rowand, Edgardo Alfonzo, Shea Hillebrand, Dave Roberts, Moises Alou, Rich Aurilia, Mark Sweeney, Mike Matheny, Deivi Cruz, Alex Sanchez, Michael Tucker, Neifi Perez, AJ Pierzinski, Dustin Mohr, Ryan Klesko, Bengie Molina, Rajai Davis, Jose Castillo, and now, Ryan Garko and Freddie Sanchez.
That is an incomplete list, to be sure, and it doesn't count re-signing a completely fluke bounce back Ray Durham, or a hundred year old Omar Vizquel. That group of hitters, with the exception of Alou, who was 39-years old when Sabean landed him, are essentially interchangeable. Not one of those players was a young power hitter with a good on base percentage. Not one of those players was an up and coming player that Sabean scouted and saw some kind of diamond in the rough possibilities. Not one of those players has done more than most teams can get from waiver wire cast-offs. Not one of those players would be considered much more than a bench warmer on a championship team, (with the disgusting exception of Double Play AJ).
This group of players “earned” well over $150 million dollars for the Giants in the last five or six years. All the while we were being told that the team couldn't afford a real hitter. Couldn't afford a true, power-hitting outfielder, or first baseman. Or more insultingly, while we were being told that so and so didn't want to come here, as if no one knows that players go where the money is.
The 2009 Giants have a championship caliber pitching staff, right now. This years' team needs, and has needed since Barry Bonds was told to go away, home runs and walks. It doesn't need another good defender. It doesn't need another good locker room guy. It doesn't need another first baseman with little power, or another second baseman with no power.
This team needs a hitter whom the opposition must plan for.
Sabean has failed to acquire that player for going on five years now, and all of his moves are judged, must be judged, against that failing. His job is to put together a team. This team is a table with three legs, and he just went out and painted it. And every time Sabean trades away good, young pitching, and brings back another player whose career fits in the above list, another nail is put into the coffin of San Francisco's championship dreams.
Brian Sabean traded Tim Alderson, one of the four untouchable prospects in the Giants organization, for Frddie Sanchez, a decent, but by now means, top-level second baseman.
…. The Giants have acquired Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez in a one-for-one deal for minor-league pitcher Tim Alderson.
As several media outlets have reported, Giants doctors re-examined Sanchez’s left knee today and reportedly found no major defects.
Again, I am forced to reiterate that the Giants had to make these two trades, because Sabean ignored their obvious offensive shortcomings this off-season, and now the team has fewer valuable minor league commodities, and quite frankly, the moves left me a bit wanting.
Sanchez, 31 years old, is a career .300 hitter, but he’s never walked more than 32 times in a season, his career high in home runs is 11, and his career OBP is just .336. He’s ranked fifth among NL second basemen in just about every category, which is to say, we traded our top draft pick from 2007 for a league average second baseman. For an easy comparison, let’s look at Juan Uribe.
J. Uribe 72 G 222 AB 17 2B 4 HR 21 RBI 10 BB 47 SO .284/.313/.432 .745 OPS
Sanchez 86 G 355 AB 28 2B 6 HR 34 RBI 20 BB 60 SO .296/.334/.442 .776 OPS
I can’t for the life of me imagine how that kind of minimal upgrade would be worth one of the top forty prospects in all of baseball. Trading Alderson is fine, but WE NEEDED HOME RUNS AND WALKS!!!! Instead, we get two more 30-year old guys who are league average hitters. Can you see? This is systemic, because Brain Sabean does not know how to evaluate hitters, player value, or how to build a team.
UPDATE: Waking up this morning, the first thing I thought was, “What a fucking idiot of a GM we have.” The second was, “What does he have on Bill Neukom?”
Seriously, I am still stunned. And so unhappy. And just plain amazed.
I’m amazed that a man could have a career in baseball, live in a technologically advanced part of the country, and make the same mistakes, over and over and over, and not learn from them, not be able to see that they are mistakes, not be able to see that what he is doing is not working; and not be held to account for his failings ever.
What a fucking dream job it must be to be the GM for the Giants. You get to walk around in flip flops and Hawaiian shirts and spout off platitudes about character and veteran leadership and how many runs JT Snow saves with his glove, and how many runs a catcher like Mike Matheny saves, and how you have to give up something to get something…..
WHAT A FUCKING CROCK OF SHIT!!!!!!
I remember when he traded Matt Williams, and he arrogantly wore that T-Shirt that read, “I am not an Idiot.” Well, Brian, yes you are. You are an idiot. An idiot is someone who, not unlike a crazy person, does that same things over and over, and wonders why nothing is changing. That is you. You keep acquiring 30-year old, league average mediocrities, and you keep talking about a “youth movement.” You do not have the faintest ides what you are doing anymore. Really. Did you watch that game yesterday? 9 innings of one absolutely embarrassing at-bat after another, on and on and on; a perfect display of your personal vision on team building, on how to construct an offense.
You watched that, and decided that you would trade a top-40 prospect in all of baseball for another league average mediocrity? He’s a three-time All Star? Only in the fucked up world of Bud Selig is Sanchez an All Star, a world in which every team has to have an All Star representative do you have Sanchez being a three-time All Star for one of the worst-run organizations in all of baseball, a team that has traded away an All Star team of hitters in just the last three or four years.
This was a coup, for the Pirates. Getting Barnes for Garko was a coup, for the Indians. Sabean got fleeced by two last place teams, two teams that were in the position of having to trade away talent to save money, and in those conditions, it was Sabean who was taken advantage of.
And, as for Bill Neukom, it is high time he started paying attention to what his Idiot is doing, because Sabean just traded the future on a chance to win this year; and his results are utterly abysmal.
From this day forward, I will never, never, refer to Brian Sabean by any name other than The Idiot. I will never write his name again. He is The Idiot.
Joe Sheehan is probably gonna be pissed that I am cutting and pasting almost his entire article today, but, Jesus Fucking Christ, I feel like Nostradamus:
…. Let’s get something out of the way: as currently constituted, the Giants are unlikely to make the playoffs. True, they have played well so far, thanks in no small part to a devastating one-two rotation punch and a surprisingly strong bullpen. The Giants are very, very good at preventing the other team from scoring, and that’s the skill that has enabled them to be a factor in this summer’s playoff chase.
…. What they can’t fake is an offense, which has been hideously bad. The team is 15th in the NL in runs scored, and 16th in Equivalent Average with a .241 mark that’s seven points worse than the Padres. They have one good bat in Pablo Sandoval, one average one in Aaron Rowand, and seven guys who can’t hit.
…. they can acquire and play just about any player in baseball because they have so few players who can’t be benched.
…. the other factor in play here is that the Giants have significantly outperformed their expected record, not just from the preseason, but what you’d expect from what they’ve done on the field. The Giants have scored 33 more runs their their third-order prediction, and allowed 17 fewer. That’s a five-win swing, right now the difference between second place the wild-card chase and nowhere.
…. it brings up the question of how good the team really is, and how good it can be? If the Giants are “only” a .500 team, improving them to .550 is harder than if they’re a .530 team. The Playoff Odds Report is seeing this problem as well, giving the Giants a mere 9.5 percent chance to make the playoffs, a small chunk of which is their chance to win the division.
…. With that in mind, should the Giants bother to make a big move? As mentioned, their top-heavy farm system is a challenge, as teams want their very best prospects, and four of those guys are among the top 60 prospects in the game. Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Angel Villalona, Tim Alderson… these guys are the core of a championship team down the line. Add in Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, and you can see the Giants playing deep into October in the not-too-distant future.
On the other hand, four of those guys are pitchers, and one, by definition, will be the fourth starter in that rotation. The Freak isn’t tradeable, and Matt Cain’s contract and jump in performance make him a fixture. Bumgarner is ahead of Alderson by any evaluation, and I haven’t mentioned Sanchez, himself an incredible talent, in this paragraph yet.
son could be in the major leagues a year from now, and he’ll be a top-40 prospect on next year’s list. He is, however, a level back of the guys who will be one-two-three at that time. As Kevin Goldstein said, “His ceiling is nowhere near that of teammate Madison Bumgarner, but he could be closer to the major league rotation.” That actually could be a selling point in a deal, as GMs trading away veteran talent like to do so for players who are close to the majors. Alderson could be starting for his new team next summer, providing the local fans proof positive of the value of what could be an unpopular deal.
…. What your team needs more than anything else is guys who don’t make outs. Nick Johnson doesn’t make outs to the tune of a .410 OBP. There’s not much power left in his bat, and he runs poorly, but you’d be picking up 15-20 runs at first base over the rest of the season, with no loss in defensive performance compared to Travis Ishikawa, himself a good glove man. That’s about two wins. The Nationals also have two left fielders better than Randy Winn or Fred Lewis, one expensive, one less so. Josh Willingham is having a nice season, but it’s Adam Dunn that you want. A poor left fielder, Dunn hits more than enough to make up for that, and it’s not as if Lewis is a tough act to follow out there. Even if Dunn asks for a trade this winter, so what? Let him walk as a free agent and take back the $10 million you would have owed him. For now, bank the 20-25 extra runs he’ll be worth and start taking yourself seriously as a contender.
First, I'm sending Joe an email apology for posting pretty much his whole fucking article.
Second, Joe only affirms that I have been right about the fact that Adam Dunn is the single most effective player available to solve the Giants offensive woes, and he has been SINCE THE END OF LAST SEASON!!!!!!!
My thanks go out to Joe for confirming that I –in fact– am not an idiot. “A poor left fielder, Dunn hits more than enough to make up for that.” Yes, I have only been saying that for going on seven months now.
So, trading for Dunn, (as opposed to signing him as a free agent, which would have been the absolutely best possible move the team could have made last off-season), is, in point of fact, pretty much the only move the team could or should make, even though Brian Sabean should be fired for coming to this conclusion now, because the facts were there, for all of us to see, in November of last year.
As an alternative, Josh WIllingham, simply because he's just a bit younger, would be equally valuable to a team that has pretty much the very worst offense you can possibly have and still talk about contending.
The Giants have apparently made a trade with Cleveland, sending Scott Barnes, a 22-year old, left-handed pitcher in single A ball, to the Indians for Ryan Garko, a first baseman. Garko is an immediate upgrade at first base, with 20-plus extra base hits, running out a nice .285/.362/.464 with an .826 OPS.
In fact, he pretty much is the second best hitter on the team right now.
Was a 22-year old lefty worth it? Too soon to tell, but one thing is for sure, Garko's not known for his glove. Here's hoping there's more to come.
…. Last season, Garko hit .352 over the final 36 games – and .410 after Sept. 5. This season, Garko batted .349 over the past 23 games. For the season, he is at .333 (23-for-69) against left-handed pitching to lead the Indians.
“There's definitely something to be said
for experience,” Sabean said. “These games will only get harder. It can only help.”
It also helps that Garko won't be a one-hit wonder. He is approaching his first year of eligibility for arbitration, which means the Giants will control his rights beyond this season.
Hopefully, the Washington Nationals Josh Willingham is next on Sabean's list, because he is an actual major-league hitter, with 20 doubles, 16 home runs, and an outstanding slash line of .298/.410/.596 with a stellar 1.007 OPS. Please, Mommy, can I have one of those for Christmas?
Hat tip to Baseball Musings.
UPDATE: Tim Lincecum set a career high with 15 strikeouts, going the distance in a 4-2 win over the Pirates tonight. Damn, he must've been pissed after that Atlanta loss. ;-)
87 games into 2009, it is painfully clear that the Edgar Renteria signing, like so many over the past three or four seasons, is a colossal bust.
81 games played, 310 at-bats, 13 doubles, 2 home runs, 38 RBI .252/.307/.313 .620 OPS 28.8 runs created 11 GIDP
He is the worst hitter among all NL shortstops, ranking last or next to last in virtually every one of those categories.
Among the starters at short, he is last in assists, with 192 in 81 games played, and has 8 errors, a testament to both his lack of range and his stone hands. His putouts and double play numbers are also very low, but a good portion of that has to be attributed to the Giants leading the league in strikeouts.
Once again, Brian Sabean looked at this team, and said to himself, we need a shortstop, (we didn’t, but I’ll get to that problem in a moment) and out of the three or four possible guys who were available, got the worst one, the oldest one, and paid him the most money.
Now we need a hitter –two actually, but one is a start– and now, the rumor mill has it that Sabean’s interested in possibly trading for Adam Dunn(!) a move that should instantly get him fired.
How can the Giants ownership trust Sabean to make a trade? I sure don’t.
UPDATE: After today’s loss, the Giants stumble home having gone 4-6 since the break, and having scored just 23 runs in the ten games. Somehow, during this offensive drought, Matt Cain managed to win both of his starts, which is only the difference between a complete collapse and being just a couple of games behind the absolutely cruising Rockies, who have managed to win 27 of their last 36 games.
Looking at what the Rockies are doing, along with the Dodgers maintaining their best record in all of baseball status makes me wonder whether the Giants should bother doing anything. The Rockies are outscoring their opponents by 84 runs over that span of 36 games, which means they are not outperforming their expected wins.
That means they are not going away, and we are nowhere near that kind of performance; which in turn, means that we are not going to be able to hold them off with the addition of one hitter. Which brings me back to Joe Sheehan’s suggestion, and maybe we’d have a chance:
…. What if a team offered the Blue Jays not its very best prospects (for Roy Halladay), but offered it the kind of payroll relief that would pay off for years to come? What if a team took Vernon Wells off of its hands?
Again, Wells would add a little offense, but Halladay would turn our top three into the 1990′s Braves starters, and take away more opposition offense than almost any hitter would add. And all it would cost is a couple of mediocre prospects and money.
UPDATE: Apparently, Brain Sabean is doing his best to avoid looking like an idiot:
…. The Giants, still in the market for offense, have been following the Nats around. Word is, they are checking out OF Josh Willingham and 1B Nick Johnson. Either would help the Giants’ anemic attack.
Is there a worse successful closer? Wilson came into that game last night, and as far as I was concerned, he was just as likely to walk two guys and give up a three-run homer as he was to get the save. 100-MPH fastball and all, he is so unpredictable, so wild, that I can't help feeling that he will eventually blow the game that derails this season.
It would be nice to know that we will have a game that actually determines whether we make the playoffs or not, but man, I sure would've preferred Cain just go the distance last night.
As for Cain, he's pitching himself right into the C
y Young Award argument. 12-2 for a team that is just shy of last in runs scored in all of baseball? Talk about karma, Cain is basically getting all of the las two seasons worth this year.
…. Cain was outstanding again as he lowered his overall ERA to 2.27 and his July Era to 1.23 in five starts. Remarkably, Cain has allowed one or no earned runs in 12 of his 15 starts dating to a May 7 win here.
That should've been a shutout last night, in Coors field, no less. Lewis horribly misplayed that ball, a tough but fairly routine fly ball that he turned into a double.
That must be kind of defense Dunn plays. ;-)
Still could use a bat, there, Brian.
As I mentioned, Barry Zito's complete collapse in the last game before the All Star break, the day after Jonathan Sanchez threw a no-hitter, was a cold slap in the face to a team on a roll. Now, having lost three of four since the brak, (four of five, overall), the Giants are looking up at the Rockies, who are playing some serious baseball right about now.
The last four games have really made it clear that the team has no hitter that makes the opposing pitcher nervous at all; no one who creates the pressure or puts them in a situation where it really matters if the pitcher walks the hitter, or if he just wants to pump another fastball over the plate. Even the Kung Fu Panda, because of his willingness to swing at so many bad pitches, can be dealt with, as long the bases are empty.
Its games like these that make it clear that for the Giants to contend through the dog days of August, another bat is a must. Jay Jaffe, over at Baseball Prospectus, thinks the Giants are in for a tough run:
…. Among contenders, the Giants have the hardest row to hoe—much harder than the Rockies, their closest rivals for the NL Wild Card. The 19-point gap (in opponents winning percentage) between the two teams is the equivalent of 1.3 games in the standings over the remaining schedule.
Problem is, there doesn't seem to be much out there, you know, like, say, a 29-year old who's hit 40 home runs each of the last five years, who costs about as much per season as, say Renteria. ;-)
UPDATE: Make that six of seven. The team's freefall is
so overwhelming, even the Freak isn't immune. The decision to avoid Garret Anderson –first base was open, gotta love that endless Krukow optimism– and pitch to one of the hottest hitters alive in that fateful third inning was patently ridiculous. Sure, Anderson's a good hitter, but he's no Pujols. They could have shaken hands the minute that pitch left the yard, because that game was over.
Oh, and as for Adam Dunn being “slightly better-than-average,” his .400 OBP would be the best on the Giants by about fifty points (other than the Panda), and with 24 home runs and 73 walks, I mean, are you serious?
He's got the tenth best OBP in the NL, the fifth most home runs, the 7th best OPS, the 6th most RBI, 9th best SLG…. what more could you ask of a hitter than to be in the top ten in every single important offensive category? He's an absolute beast, and his $8 million dollar salary this season is exactly what we're paying Renteria. For all the hand-wringing about how weak Dunn's defense is, Renteria's been pretty crappy with the glove to go with his complete lack of offense, speed, and pretty much anything other than “veteran leadership,” whatever the fuck that is.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox got Adam LaRoche from the Pirates, a real hitter in some serious decline, for a bag of used baseballs. I'm sure we couldn't have come up with a package of nobodies to get a guy with more home runs than all but one of the players on our team, right?
Two recent articles involving steroids caught my eye, my attention, and drew my ire. The first one was in the NY Times, having to do with the attorneys in the Bonds case:
…. Barry Bonds is at home, awaiting trial and hoping that a major league team will ask him to play again. The prosecutors overseeing his case have gone back to working on other investigations. And one of Bonds’s lead defense lawyers has spent time helping to determine who the prosecutors’ next boss will be.
…. Whoever eventually becomes the United States attorney — the highest law-enforcement official in the Bay Area — will have an important decision to make in the Bonds case.
…. “I can see the concern that it looks worrisome,” he said, “but there are many layers in this decision, there are a lot of people on the committee — there is no direct decision-maker — it’s Boxer’s call, it’s Obama’s call and it’s subject to review of the Department of Justice and Congressional approval.”
Expressing more concern than the legal experts was Travis Tygart, the chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which oversees the testing of all Olympic athletes and promotes clean competition in all sports.
“Right or wrong, perception can become reality and the perception here is not good,” Tygart said. “Hopefully, this will not have anything to do with the truth of Barry Bonds’s doping from coming to light and his tainted home run record being expunged.”
…. Since prosecutors began scrutinizing Bonds in 2003, there have been three United States attorneys for the Northern District of California. The current United States attorney, Joseph P. Russoniello, said in an interview Wednesday that he wanted to remain in the post after his term expired in December 2011.
…. Russoniello declined to say whether the government would move forward with the case if the appeals court does not let them use the disputed evidence. But he took issue with those people who have criticized his prosecutors for going after professional athletes.
“With all people we expect that when we put them in front of the grand jury they will be truthful,” Russoniello said. “It would be wrong to impose different standards because they were celebrities; we prosecute regardless of who the people are. We prosecute what is in front of us.”
ello said that since he took over as United States attorney, in 2007, he has developed a greater appreciation for the Balco investigation and how the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes can influence teenagers.
“Stan Musial was my hero when I was a kid, and he smoked cigarettes,” Russoniello said. “I smoked cigarettes. Did I smoke cigarettes because of him? Well, there was not anything that he did to deter me from smoking cigarettes.”
That's two people charged with important decisions, being in important jobs, who are either lying or idiots. If Tygart really thinks that way, he's not an executive running an organization. he's a crusader wit a vendetta, who cares more about image than facts, and he should be fired.
As for Russoniello, he's a disgrace to Italians everywhere. I can't even believe a grown man would allow himself to think something so absurd, and to allow himself to say it aloud, in front of a reporter is embarrassing. “There was not anything he did to deter me from smoking cigarettes.” I'm sorry that Stan Musial never told him not to smoke. Wow.
I'll get to the second one in a day or so. I just had to point put the absurdity.
UPDATE: Speaking of Bonds and absurdity, here's the headline to this article about Bengie Molina:
Giants’ Cleanup Hitter Is No Bonds (That’s a Good Thing)
…. Is there a more improbable full-time cleanup hitter in the major leagues? In his first 80 games, Molina batted .259 with 11 homers and 50 runs batted in. He was on a pace to hit 20 homers and drive in 91 runs.
Those projected numbers would be decent, but Molina, 34, is hardly a fearsome or dependable slugger. He was hitting .239 with runners in scoring position and had walked a shockingly low three times. Molina had a .432 slugging percentage and a .267 on-base percentage, which was worst in the National League.
Yeah, who needs a guy who gets on base half the time, has the highest slugging percentage in the league, and is generally the best hitter alive?
That piece was written by Jack Curry, just one more slam job by a cadre of reporters and mass media idiots who are obviously under some obligation to relentlessly continue their attacks on Barry, even when there's no reason whatsoever. Disgraceful.
Barry Zito tried to throw cold water cold water on pretty much the whole last week, coming out of the gate and allowing two three run homers –to a team that had been struggling to even get a hit– before most Giants fans had even sat down. He allowed 9 earned runs and got 10 outs…. enough said.
The Giants head into the All Star break 10 games over .500, with the second-best record in the NL. They have posted an outstanding team ERA, they have thrown a world-best 13 shutouts, they have two 10-2 pitchers, and a 22-year old who is leading the team in batting average, home runs, RBI, and OPS. Sandoval has 15 home runs, 55 RBI and run out a .333/.385/.579 .964 OPS line. Wow. That's a hell of a first half, all things considered.
All things being….
Barry Zito is a complete washout. Randy Johnson, 8 wins notwithstanding, isn't one of the top forty starting pitchers in the NL. Edgar Renteria (.260/.317/.326 .643 OPS) as advertised, isn't worth $18 dollars, let alone $18 million dollars. The jury is still out on Travis Ishikawa (.269/.324/.430 .754 OPS), who may be able to hit just enough to be the next JT Snow. I know, I know, that's a horrible thought, but still, he's not the problem right now, and that's saying something.
Randy Winn, Fred Lewis and pretty much any outfielder other than Aaron Rowand would be the problem. With a combined total of 10 home runs, our entire offensive weakness can be attributed to the lack of power being demonstrated by that group.
Joe Sheehan got me thinking:
…. What if a team offered the Blue Jays not its very best prospects (for Roy Halladay), but offered it the kind of payroll relief that would pay off for years to come? What if a team took Vernon Wells off of its hands?
When the Blue Jays signed Vernon Wells after the 2006 season, it was very clearly a case of buying high. The center fielder was coming off his age-27 season, his fifth as a full-time player, and just his second of those with an OBP above .340
. Wells’ core skills showed him to be a good-not-great player, whose value was buoyed by excellent defense in center field, but lacking the on-base skills to be a true middle-of-the-order anchor, and with speed that was more perceived than actual (he was at 53/15 SB/CS to that point in his career). The contract was doomed the moment it was signed, massively backloaded to make it affordable to the team, but ensuring that Wells would eventually be an albatross. Here’s what’s left on it after this year:
2010: $12.5 million + $8.5 million share of signing bonus
2011: $23 million
2012: $21 million
2013: $21 million
2014: $21 million
That’s five years and $107 million, or about $11 million less than what’s left on Johan Santana’s contract. It’s just a bit less than what Sabathia will make in those years. It’s more than what’s left on the laughingstock contracts signed by Alfonso Soriano and Barry Zito.
Even as bad as Wells has been over the last year and a half, he would immediately be the best hitter in our outfield. We're talking blockbuster here –BLOCKBUSTER– but we're also talking about a team that has the best pitching in baseball, right now, and more importantly, we're talking about a team that has never, NEVER won a championship. It's a deal that would instantly alter the dynamics in the National League.
If the Giants were able to swing a deal like that, a deal that landed the All Star starter for the AL, a deal that would preclude giving up any of our true blue-chip prospects, they would transform themselves into a championship contender instantly.
Will Bowker hit enough to keep the Giants in contention? Will the Giants get enough pitching from the 3rd, 4th and 5th starters? Can Cain and Lincecum repeat their success? Can this team make the playoffs? All of these questions fall to the wayside after a deal like this. The only question that needs to be asked is whether Bill Neukom will take on another albatross contract. And, not for nothing, we seem to pretty much lead the league in albatross contracts.
Jonathan Sanchez, fresh off the scrap heap, the rumor mill, and possibly the bullpen; took his spot start and just missed a perfect game. Between his 2-6 record, his Dad seeing him pitch live for the first time ever, and Lincecum's near miss last night, that was some performance.
…. Among his many talents, Tim Lincecum also is a prophet. On Friday afternoon he said, “Someone might throw a no-hitter and it might not be the ace of the squad. It might be an unsung hero kind of guy. Anybody can do anything.”
A few hours later, anybody did something, and it was remarkable.
On a slightly cool but comfortable night for baseball at China Basin, Jonathan Sanchez pitched the Giants' first no-hitter in 33 years, beating the San Diego Padres 8-0. Only a Juan Uribe error stood between Sanchez and a perfect game.
…. So good was Sanchez that he nearly threw the 16th perfect game in the history of modern baseball. He was five outs shy when Uribe muffed an eighth-inning chopper by Chase Headley and could not pick up the ball. Headley was the only Padre to reach base against Sanchez, who struck out 11 to set a career high.
UPDATE: Peter G (Peter Gammons?) mentioned that I called the no-hitter:
…. As one might expect from a team with so little offense, the Giants came within a hair’s breath of being no-hit today. Not for nothing, but this team is pretty much a no-hitter waiting to happen.
I'm assuming that was tongue-in-cheek. ;-)
I am, however, on record as saying that Lincecum is a no-hitter waiting to happen. Not in writing, but out loud, with my loud mouth.
Nonetheless, this team is starting to seem a little bit special, or should I say, it seems that maybe, just maybe, this team is coming to be more than the sum of its parts. At this point, Sabe
an cannot trade Sanchez anymore –obviously– and perhaps he shouldn't trade anyone.
Uribe puts a pretty good swing on it, Sandoval is a terrific hitter, Molina is back from the grave, Rowand is having a solid season…. Hmmmmm, let me look at something….
The Giants scored 118 runs in June, in 27 games. That's 4.37 runs per game, better than the NL average, and almost a half run better than they had been scoring heading into June. In July, they've scored 43 runs in 9 games, that's 4.7 runs per game. Another way of looking at it is to say the Giants are scoring 4.5 runs per game since the start of June, 161 runs in 36 games. During that span of 36 games, the pitchers have allowed 108 earned runs, 117 runs in total. That's 2.75 runs per game. (read that sentence a few times) That's an expected winning percentage of .721. (read that sentence a few times) A team scoring and allowing that many runs should have gone 25-11 since the start of June. They've been just a bit below that, 23-14 according to ESPN's standings page, but that's still an outstanding run of over .600 ball, for almost a quarter of a season.
They have the second best record in the NL, a two game lead in the Wild Card, have a league-leading 13(!) shutouts, twice as many as any other team. Perhaps they have found just enough offense. The defense is suspect, (although they seem to have committed a lot of errors recently, including the loss of the perfect game last night, in reality, they have only 46 this season, which is one of the lowest totals in the league); but since they are also leading all of baseball in strikeouts, their pitching makes up for a lot.
That's the good.
Renteria moves so slow, he looks like he's wearing a suit of armor. Uribe is a bit less than sure-handed. We still are at the bottom of baseball in home runs, Randy Johnson is still old, and Barry Zito is still expensive.
That's the bad.
Not quite as much as there used to be, no?