…. The bad

I can’t help myself. Every time I read some comment made by Sabean, I feel like I’m listening to a fool:

…. What the folks got was a steady stream of fastballs between 88 and 90 mph – 51 out of his 76 pitches, the rest sliders, cutters and a rare changeup. The Internetsia suggested this was a sign of arm-weariness, as he consistently hit 93-94 in the minors, but Sabean said it was in fact more a matter of San Jose pitching coach Ross Grimsley trying to force a more economical approach on Bumgarner. “He was getting a little fastball-happy,” Sabean said, talking about his reduced velocity, “and we just wanted him to stop trying to strike everyone out.”

Yeah, because that’s a bad thing. What Sabean and Grimsley seem to not know is what Bill James wrote about some fifteen years ago, that strikeouts are the single most important factor in the long term success of a pitcher. That taking outs away from your defense is the single most important way for a pitcher to contribute to preventing runs. We know that the difference between the most efficient defenses in the league and the least is not more than 4%, but the difference between the most efficient pitchers and the least is often a hundred or more strikeouts. But, then again, Bill James also made it clear that having a team full of hitters who take a lot of walks and hit a lot of home runs is the most effective way to score runs, and Brian Sabean and the rest of his crack baseball team don’t seem to know that, either.

Watching that game last night, I was just amazed. Amazed at how mediocre Bumgardner looked. Amazed at the number of Giants hitters who simply swung at every pitch. Amazed at how completely worthless Randy Winn looked at the plate. What does a guy gotta do to get benched on this team? Here’s Molina’s night at the plate; Ball, Strike (swinging), Strike (looking), Ball, Foul, single. Strike (looking), flied out. Strike (foul), Strike (foul), Foul, Ball, Foul, popped out. Ball, Strike (looking), popped out. That’s 18 pitches seen, 5 taken. This is a guy who’s 4 for 22 so far this month, while our superstar rookie catcher sits on the bench with his home runs and walks and batting average.

How about Randy Winn? What does Randy Winn have to do to see the bench? Since the All Star break, Winn has run out a staggering .243/.303/.308 .611 OPS line, and has played all but four games. He has two home runs on the season. He basically gets a single every four at bats, and NOTHING ELSE! How can he still be playing every day? You all know what slugging percentage is, right? It’s the average number of bases you accumulate for each at bat. A .308 slugging percentage is essentially a lead off first base. That’s what Winn is averaging for each plate appearance, a lead off first base. With all due respect to Winn, who seems like a decent enough guy, but that is pitiful. The Giants, who have essentially no hitters anywhere in their entire minor league system, probably have ten hitters who can run, catch the ball, and put up that kind of pitiful production. There are only nine everyday players in the entire league who have worse slugging percentages than Winn. There are only eight everyday players in the entire league who have a worse OPS than Winn. And Winn plays every single day.

But not Fred Lewis. All Fred Lewis did in August was run out an outstanding –OUTSTANDING– .412/.524/.588 1.112 OPS line. Of course, in the Bizarro world of the Giants, one of the best hitters on the team could not fight his way into this lineup. Lewis got five starts in August, a month in which the Giants scored 4 runs a game while going 16-12. A month in which we lost the wild card, by the way.

Oh yeah, he’s a lousy fielder. Yeah, that’s a reason to keep the guy on the bench game after game, because he’s got stone hands. Never mind that Randy Winn’s Battan Death March at the plate has lost so many more games than Lewis ever could with his stone hands. Never mind that the Giants have four of the least effective every day hitters in all of baseball killing rally after rally, losing game after game; and all Fred Lewis does is get hits, hit with power, and draw walks.


I mean, it’s not like you can teach a guy to be a better fielder, right? Because that Lewis sure needs someone to teach him how to be a better outfielder. I wonder where you might find somebody that knows how to do that? Where could you find someone, you know, like, I don’t know, maybe a coach or something, that could teach a young player –who knows how to hit– how to field? Sure seems like I read about something like that once:

…. In 1993, Derek Jeter spent the entire season at Greensboro and made 56 errors. But he hit .295, which showed the Yankees that the fielding woes didn’t cloud the rest of his game.

Good thing he didn’t come up through this Giants regime.

Let’s talk about Renteria. Last season, Emmanuel Burriss was our shortstop, and he didn’t hit enough for Bochy or Sabean. He ran out a dismal .283/.357/.329 .686 OPS line, so bad that by the end of the season, he was not only not playing very much, Sabean went out and spent $18 million dollars to replace him. Now, besides the fact that a 23-year old is a good bet to improve if you just leave him alone and let him play everyday, and besides the fact that that rate of offensive production is actually better than what Randy Winn –playing an offensive position– has produced; it is worth mentioning that Burriss’s horrible hitting, so bad that he was replaced, was actually better than what Renteria has brought to the table.

Renteria has run out a stunning .258/.316/.339 .655 OPS line, a rate of production that is so bad, it got his 23-year old teammate thrown on the garbage heap. Again, looking at Renteria’s line, you can see that he is essentially producing a lead off first base for each plate appearance, which is to say, he is worthless as a hitter. And our estimable GM gave him $18 million dollars to replace a 23-year old, who had nothing but upside in front of him.

These are your San Francisco Giants. An organization run by a man who does not know what makes a player valuable, who does not know how to build a team. An organization that fails to teach its players the fundamentals of success in the game, how to field the ball, how to approach hitting, how to approach the art of pitching. An organization that tells its young strikeout pitchers that they should rely more on their defense, a provably false statement. An organization that allows 25-year old pitchers to throw 125+ pitches game after game. An organization that benches the best young hitter to come out of their system in decades, because they cannot explain to him how to catch the ball, how to position himself so that the outfield isn’t such a scary place. An organization that allows its starting catcher to have so little discipline when he’s at the plate that it appears the team has no coaches at all. An organization that trades one of it top minor league pitching prospects for a first basemen who is older, slower and not one tiny bit better than the young first basemen they are trying to develop. An organization that trades one of its top minor league pitching prospects for an old, injured second baseman, at the exact moment when it has become clear that the insurance policy second baseman they have is actually doing fine.

This is your San Francisco Giants, who inexplicably came into this season thinking they had a chance to contend, and by some miracle, found themselves doing just that; and then failed to maximize the opportunity.

UPDATE: And now the Giants are four games back in the loss column, after being held to 2 runs for the 24th time in their last 66 games.

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