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Archive for August, 2009


…. Unexpected

Unlikely, unbelievable, unfathomable, undeniable….

You see where I’m headed here. The Giants swept the Rockies out of town, coming back from a seventh inning, three-run deficit because of the unlikeliest of unlikely heroes, Mr. Edgar Renteria. Renteria’s grand slam wasn’t a walkoff like Spilborghs in Colorado, but it sure tasted good.

UPDATE: How about a pennant-drive pickup that matters?

…. White Sox GM Kenny Williams called teams this afternoon to let them know a large part of their roster is available in trade, including sluggers Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko and Jim Thome and veteran relievers Scott Linebrink and Octavio Dotel.

Dye has 25 home runs and 50 walks, the two things, as you all know, that the Giants need more than anything. He’d be owed about 15% of his $12 million dollar salary, about, what, $3 million? Apparently, we just picked up Brad Penny, because we need walks and home runs. Oh, that’s right, Penny gives up tons of walks and home runs, so there’s always that.



…. Worst

…. loss of the season.

UPDATE: Well, maybe I spoke too soon:

…. Of all the issues, though, Sanchez’s shoulder is the most baffling. He has been unable to play in a week because of a strained shoulder but was not disabled because he and the Giants thought he’d be ready to return no later than this weekend’s series with the Rockies.

Instead, his shoulder has defied all attempts to heal itself, and Sanchez said it hasn’t really improved with the rest. This suggests that the Giants’ plan to have him back fully operational Sept. 2 in Philadelphia is not only a rough estimate, but may be far too optimistic.

Yeah, so, the centerpiece of your midseason trades has played less than half the time he’s been here. That sounds like a pretty big loss, too.

Once again, the Giants acquired a player with a known injury history, (remember Edgardo Alfonzo?), this time for a quality minor league pitcher. Sanchez has been in Sabean’s sights for two years now, and with the Pirates finally completely dismantling, Sabean ignored the fact that Sanchez was already obviously in a state of serious decline from his worthless batting average title season, didn’t add the home runs and walks the team needed like a blood transfusion, and WAS FUCKING INJURED!!!!!!!!!

Fire Brian Sabean, and, for that matter, Bruce Bochy, Carney Lansford, and the rest of these incompetent buffoons.

UPDATE, Part II: Joe Sheehan sees through the fog, and echoes my earlier concerns:

…. My real takeaway is that the gap between the Rockies and the other wild-card contenders has been understated. This is much, much better team than the Giants or Braves or Marlins, and having taken a closer look at them, I’m sold on the fact that it’s the NL West, not the East or Central, that will provide half the league’s playoff teams this season. The Braves simply won’t score enough to back their staff, nor will the Giants. The Rockies have a complete team, their sole weakness being a bullpen that is deep but not terribly effective—as we saw last night—and while not 52-22 good, deserve to be considered the favorites in the wild-card chase.

Over a month ago, I wrote pretty much the same thing:

…. 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.

What’s happened since then? The Rockies have screamed past us like our feet are encased in concrete, and we’re now three games behind a team that was ten games under .500 when they fired their manager. The reality is that the Rockies were gonna take over the wild card lead unless we acquired the big bat that would completely change our lineup, the hitter that could bat third, pushing Sandoval to the cleanup slot and moving Molina to fifth. Even with our horrible hitters everywhere else, that one change would’ve added a half run to our scoring average, and our stellar pitching would’ve ket us competitive.

Instead, we landed Garko and Sanchez, who have combined to add three home runs and six walks in 25 games or so, or about what Matt Holliday did in his first three games for the Cards.



…. Happy Anniversary?

Ten years ago today, SL Price, writing for Sports Illustrated, put the following words to paper:

…. As is our custom late each fall, we at sports illustrated sat down to discuss nominations for sportsman of the…. No, we didn’t discuss. We didn’t even sit down. It was automatic. It was unanimous. It was the easiest selection in our history. It couldn’t be one sportsman of the year. It had to be two. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. All in favor, say aye. All opposed, report back to your coma.

McGwire and Sosa gave America a summer that won’t be forgotten: a summer of stroke and counterstroke, of packed houses and curtain calls, of rivals embracing and gloves in the bleachers and adults turned into kids—the Summer of Long Balls and Love.

It wasn’t just the lengths they went to with bats in their hands.

It was also that they went to such lengths to conduct the great home run race with dignity and sportsmanship, with a sense of joy and openness. Never have two men chased legends and each other that hard and that long or invited so much of America onto their backs for the ride. Rarely has grace so swiftly begotten grace, $2 million pouring into Sosa’s foundation for hurricane victims in his native Dominican Republic and a flurry of checks for $62 and $70 into McGwire’s Los Angeles-based charity for abused children.

Reading his piece again, I am both reminded of what a great ride that was, and saddened by how that memory has been revised, cheapened and ultimately, denied. I ask you: Are we really better off having “exposed” the PED users? I certainly think not.



…. Beat

Lincecum lost again, and the Giants dropped three games behind the Rockies with today’s 4-2 defeat.

Again, Lincecum pitched tired, and was reached for three runs, raising his ERA to 2.43, and dropping his record to 12-4. The Giants eked out 6 hits, struck out 11 times, and walked just twice, which will certainly get you another loss.



…. Cy-ing

In his quest for his second consecutive Cy Young Award, Tim Lincecum has lost a little bit of steam over his last three starts, getting no decisions all three times, and losing wins in two of them. He still has a substantial margin on ESPN’s Cy Young Prediction Machine page, holding more than a ten point edge over the surging Adam Wainwright (pending the update from last night, he’ll probably lose three or four of those points), but still, he’s been stuck at 12 wins for a while now, and is about to get knocked out of the top five.

He’s lost something like four wins to the Giants poor offense, about as many as he did last year, so maybe his overall dominance will still win the day, but I’m still worried.

He looks a little tired. For the month of August, he’s had four starts, and he’s been much more hittable than he has been all year. His last three have been pretty blah:

21 innings, 16 hits, 9 earned runs, 16 strikeouts 3.86 ERA

Not the kind of surge you’d like to see from a guy trying to lead his team to the playoffs, and win his second Cy in a row.

UPDATE: Another game, another run scored. The Giants have scored just 37 runs in their last 11 games, a measly 3.1 runs per game, but that stat doesn’t really tell the whole story. They scored 18 runs in two games, so in the other 9 games, the team scored just 19 runs, or 2 runs per game. In their last 11 games, they scored 2, 2, 1, 4, 0, 5, 2, 10, 8, 1, 1 runs. That is simply awful. This team has made so many mediocre pitchers look like Walter Johnson, it’s simply mind-boggling. In 7 of their last 11 games, they’ve scored two runs or less.

So, allow me to repeat myself:

Brian Sabean deserves to be fired. He failed in his quest to upgrade the offense, and he traded away valuable pitching prospects for players who the team essentially already had. Garko has been as bad as Ishikawa was with the bat, and worse with the glove. And with all due respect to whatever we’ve gotten from Freddie Sanchez, Eugenio Velez has more hits, for more power, and a better OPS in the month of August, and he didn’t cost us a pitcher. Sabean simply does not know what to look for in a player, in a hitter, anymore, and its debatable whether he ever did. What he values in a hitter is provably worthless, and the way he goes about constructing a team is irrevocably flawed. This team has the pitching to win a title, right fucking now. Brian Sabean’s failure is the reason why they will not.



…. Half empty

…. And halfway through August, we can see that Brian Sabean’s moves to upgrade the offense have been a complete bust. The Giants are 7 and 7 in August, having scored 55 runs and allowed 56, which is to say, the average score we’ve seen this month has been 4-3, or 3-4.

The Rockies, on the other hand, have allowed 64 runs and scored 99 runs in 15 games, which is, well, better.

Another trade might be possible, but I doubt it, no? We needed home runs and walks, and we got neither. We traded away good, young, pitching and received a broken Freddie Sanchez, and Ryan Garko, who has done essentially nothing (10 for 49) since he’s been here. Not for nothing, but I’m pretty sure Ishikawa can run out a 10 for 49 without too much effort. In fact, Ishikawa was 11 for 49 in April, and he was 11 for 44 in June, which is to say, Garko has performed well enough for Sabean to make a trade to replace him.

Funny, though it may be, it’s really sad. Ishikawa was actually beginning to hit when Sabean threw away the baby with the bath water. A nice .300/.329/.414 with a .743 OPS in 70 at-bats in July, after hitting 4 home runs in June…. I’m not saying he was the second coming of Will Clark or anything, but that stat line could certainly fit nicely in any one of JT Snow’s seasons. I know, I know, being happy that our first baseman hits like JT is sad, absurd, and quite unbelievable, but we’re comparing Ishikawa to trading for Garko, remember?

Sadly, there was no need to go and get Garko, a player who is only moderately more productive than Ishikawa, while being quite a bit worse with the glove. Oh, but that’s right, only hitters like Dunn need to be great with the glove. Picking up a guy with stone hands who is worth about three home runs per season more than the guy we already have is fine; but signing a guy with stone hands who is gonna finish in the top five in home runs for the sixth straight season, now that would be an outrage. There’s no room on the Giants for that guy.

And so the Giants are sinking, and still need offense, and we have two fewer pitchers in our stable of tradable commodities that Sabean has supposedly been stockpiling so that he could trade them for bats.



…. Worst contracts?

Joe Posnaski writes about some of the worst contracts in baseball, and names J.P. Ricciardi as being the idiot behind the majority of them. He’s spot on about Ricciardi, but I can’t imagine how he manages to avoid going after Sabean.

Well, to be fair, it’s clear he’s focusing on existing contracts, and he’s really focusing on the behemoths, the 6, 7 and 8 year deals that completely destroy a team:

1. To qualify, the contract has to still be going for at least one more year … and it has to be for more than $10 million per year on the remainder. So, that would rule out, say, the bizarrely awful Vicente Padilla contract because he’s coming off the books after this season.

So, while he does hit upon the Aaron Rowand deal, and the Zito atrocity; he amazingly ignores, for instance, the Randy Winn fiasco, the Edgar Renteria embarrassment, the Dave Roberts joke, the Neifi Perez amuse’ bouche ($6 million dollars for a .232/.276/.295 .571 OPS performance), the multiple JT Snow albatrosses, the Edgardo Alfonzo immediate failure…. I mean, I could go on for a long, long time. In fact, let me try….

How about the absurd contract we threw at Ray Durham, after he had a two month stretch of actually being a complete player in 2006? (.898 OPS in ’06, .638 OPS in ’07) How about the $18 million dollar extension he gave to Reuter about ten minutes before his arm fell off? How about Mike –Saves 100 runs a year– Matheny?

Ricciardi has been awesomely bad, throwing away huge, HUGE amounts of money at league average mediocrities. He’s like Adam Dunn, home runs and walks and that’s about it. Sabean has been more of a complete player. He’s more like Mark Texeira. He hits for average, hits for power, walks a bunch, plays good defense. He’s a much better candidate for the worst GM in baseball, and we haven’t even begun to talk about trades.

I can hardly keep track of all these horrors anymore. Have I forgotten any contracts that are worth writing about?



…. Season saver?

Lincecum pitched like a champion, the umpires continued to make life difficult, and Juan Uribe walked off, as the Giants avoided a sweep, a four game losing streak (at home, no less), and took the finale 4-2. Lincecum should've had that win, another complete game, but for a terrible call by first base umpire Gary Darling. Of course, the pitch that Eithier hit to drive in Furcal was a terrible pitch, a two-strike Fat Boy, but still, the umps screwed the Giants all weekend long, taking much of the steam out of what looked like a crucial series.

This Giants team has virtually no margin for error, and when the umps are giving outs to their opponents, and taking baserunners and outs away from them, the Giants simply cannot w

in.

In light of the Alex Rios deal, Scott Ostler asks an interesting question:

If another team claimed Barry Zito, and the Giants had a chance to pass the roughly $80 million left on his contract to the claiming team, should they let him go?

Well….. Yes, they should. But that's the short version. Scott details a few reasons why the team should think twice.

The Giants remain one game behind the Rockies for the Wild Card lead, but the Rockies run differential continues to grow (now at +76 runs), while the Giants' has dropped considerably (from +46 to +30 in the last month); which suggests that, barring a big offensive surge by the Giants, the Rockies may be poised to run away with it.

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…. Dropped balls

Between the errors and the lack of hitting and the lousy pitching and the double plays, the Giants were lucky to get one win this weekend against the mediocre Reds. I don't know if it's the first time a team has beaten the bo

th Cain and Lincecum in the same series this year, but I wouldn't bet against it.

They picked a bad time to go flat, with the Dodgers coming in for a big series, one that will determine whether the Giants have any chance to catch them, or if they will spend the rest of the summer fighting for the Wild Card slot.

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…. Swing town

The Astros proved to be no match for the surging Giants, who took two of three in Houston. Eli Whiteside hit his first home run, a grand slam, leading the Giants back from an early three-run deficit, and now the Giants send Lincecum and their league-best 37-16 home record against the Cincinnati Reds, who fancy themselves a contender.

So far, Freddie Sanchez has brought far more offense than I certainly imagined possible, (.389/.421/.611 1.032 OPS) and with an on-base percenta

ge hovering around .400, Garko has made a decent contribution as well. The Giants have scored 38 runs in their last seven games, over 5 per game, and if that kind of uptick holds, puts the team in prime position to make a move towards October. I have my doubts, but, there appears to be some hope.

It also might mean I'd have to reconsider my ranting and raving about Sabean's efforts, and perhaps eat a little crow. Alas, should that time come, I will happily do so, as I am always far more interested in seeing my favorite team win than I am in being right.

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