Archive for October, 2009
So the Giants finally signed Freddie Sanchez to a two-year, $12 million dollar deal. Great. Of course, I knew this was coming, but really, I’m just speechless. Sure, it’s a cheap enough deal, and he’s certainly a solid player; but, for crying out loud, what a sham of a front office we have. Sabean’s been talking about getting this guy ever since he won the batting title, and the fact that our GM openly coveted such a mediocre nobody is such a clear indication that this franchise is slowly driving the wrong way down a one way street.
I don’t know how much longer I can do this. A lost season, a waste of young talent, an acquisition that pretty much only improves the team by about five runs….. I mean, I’m getting to the point where all I can say anymore is, “Who cares?”
…. On the other side of the infield, the Giants would like to re-sign Juan Uribe, and general manager Brian Sabean has begun talks with Uribe’s agent. However, a quick resolution is unlikely.
“I get the sense he’s going to test the free-agent market,” Sabean said.
Yeah, what a surprise. You think Uribe might want to take less money to play for a team that is committed to winning a championship? Or maybe he knows that he clearly out-performed Sanchez, and the Giants one year offer for $2.5 million is pretty much an insult. Sanchez’s ’08 and ’09 pretty much mirror his career line of .299/.334/.417 .751 OPS — and with 76 extra base hits the last two years; maybe Uribe (.257/.298/.430 .728 OPS, also with 76 extra base hits the last two years) feels like he deserves a real contract, too.
I’d also mention that I predicted this:
…. In another move that was expected but might carry some emotional weight, the Giants cut ties with popular but injured pitcher Noah Lowry by declining his $6.25 million club option for 2010 and placing him on outright waivers.
Get ready for the inevitable stories about how this free agent or that wants to be a Yankee, or doesn’t want to play in PacBell, or is too expensive, or best yet, how there just aren’t any free agents available that meet the needs of the Giants after all.
Get ready for the excuses, the money worries, the reasons why the Giants are signing yet another washed up, middle of his decline phase, worthless league average mediocrity. Great.
Just remember, every year, baseball executives know exactly who will or won’t be available as a free agent. They know, for the most part, who will be available in 2010, 2011, etc., etc..
So, when you read about how there’s nobody that meets the Giants needs, or salary, or whatever, remember that Brian Sabean and his crack team had nothing else to do with themselves other than planning to meet this challenge. We needed home runs and walks last season, and did nothing about it. Now we need home runs and walks again, and inexpensive hitters who actually bring those things to the table are few and far between.
That is because our newly renewed GM failed at his job last off-season.
El Lefty Malo looks ahead:
…. One question to ponder as you see all the trade and free-agent suggestions thrown around this winter — the Giants should sign this guy or trade for that guy — is not just whom to get, but how many runs do the Giants really need to score next year?
750 runs is a must. No way can the Giants expect to repeat their 2009 pitching performance, so just adding 50 runs will do nothing. The average NL team scored 718 runs, the Giants scored 657, so 50 runs added and we’re still below average. You cannot expect to compete for a championship if you’re not at least be average, and even that’s not really what contending teams are aiming for. Back to runs differential, the Dodgers scored (oops) 780 runs, and allowed 611. The Giants scored 657 runs, and allowed 611. Need I say more?
Trading Matt Cain is the best way to address the hole in the lineup, as he will never be worth more than he is right now.
The player to look for? How about Hanley Ramirez? Lots of stories this year about how players and coaches with the Marlins don’t like how he goes about his business. Maybe he’s tired of playing in front of empty seats, and is looking for a change of scenery. Maybe he wants to play for a contender that spends money, (even if they spend it poorly). Maybe he thinks the Marlins are small time:
…. Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez recently forced all of his long-haired players, including Ramirez, into an impromptu date with the clubhouse hairdresser. He also banned any jewelry worn onfield by Ramirez or any of his teammates.
“We want to look professional,” Gonzalez told the Sun-Sentinel. “Nice and neat.”
Only problem was that Ramirez, ranked first overall in Yahoo!’s fantasy baseball game, didn’t take kindly to having his shortish dreads shorn off or his chain yanked off his neck. Once the media entered the Marlins’ clubhouse on Thursday, Ramirez made sure he was seen sporting a strong message — “I’m sick of this shit” — written in Sharpie across his chest.
“I’m angry,” he told reporters. “I want to be traded … It’s incredible. We’re big leaguers.”
And here’s another article, in which Ramirez is portrayed as strikingly similar to another superstar we Giants fans are familiar with:
…. Here is the dichotomy of Ramirez: a player with admirable work habits, yet an almost displeasing demeanor. Ramirez as a person can be dismissive and distant, yet as a player he’s dynamic and impossible to dislike.
Everything about Ramirez, 25, is big league — his game and his attitude. This season, he’s quarreled with teammates about the validity of an injury, argued with management about the team’s hair policy, and bickered with reporters over their criticism — something that would drive most fans, not to mention team executives, crazy.
Yet he may be baseball’s most complete player, a combination of power, speed and hitting acumen, all things that he could not have mastered without a tremendous work ethic. Teammates and coaches still consider him a kid — a well-liked but at times capricious one. But as he finishes his most productive season — an MVP-caliber year — and heads into his fifth full season in the majors in 2010, Ramirez is inching toward veteran status.
Ramirez is everything we don’t have. His career line of .316/.386/.531 .917 OPS is simply sensational. Over his last three full seasons, he’s averaged a .950 OPS, with 74 extra base hits, 38 steals (80% success rate). I mean, he does it all, and he’s only 25 years old. We could package Cain with Renteria — a reunion tour with the team he won a World Series with, nice story line there– and maybe a draft pick, if needed. All that trade would do is transform the face of the franchise in one fell swoop.
Sure Cain is good, young and under financial control for another year or two. But, he’s not that good. He’s not Lincecum good. He’s not Cliff Lee good. He’s not Chris Carpenter good. In other words, he’s not untradeable.
Baseball Reference has his ten most similar players:
Moe Drabowsky (977)
Clay Kirby (974)
Jack Fisher (967)
Jose Rijo (962)
Mike Witt (959)
Tom Gordon (958)
Dave Stieb (956)
Lefty Tyler (954)
Jim Kaat (953)
John Smoltz (953)
There’s some good pitchers there, plus Smoltz, who is legitimately great, but every one of those guys played for a bunch of different teams.
That’s not to say we should trade him for just anybody. Cain is 24 years old, and a 24 year old pitcher of his caliber is extremely valuable. But this Giants team is several players away from championship contention, and something’s gotta be done. If you can trade a 24 year old very good pitcher for a truly elite hitter of approximately the same age, you probably should do it.
Of course, maybe the Marlins fall in love with Mr. No-Hitter, and would part with their problem child for him and and some spare odds and ends. Yeah, right. Not to mention, does anyone really believe that Sabean could pull this off?
Rebecca Glass wonders whether Joe Girardi should have gone to Mariano Rivera in the seventh inning last night:
…. Here’s the leverage argument:
Because of the importance of the situation, with the tying runs on base and the Angels’ best hitters (Hunter-Guerrerro-Morales) due up, Girardi should have gone to Mariano Rivera.
It’s a claim that much of the MSM and their readers/viewers will brush off as being too reactionary, but it’s based on the single, simple premise discussed above:
Teams should use their very best relievers in the highest leveraged situations.
At the time, there is utterly no way to predict that the ninth inning will matter or how much it will matter. What you know, however, is that at the time, the two potential tying runs on base are the two most important runs you want to prevent from scoring if you are the Yankees.
She is absolutely right. Watching the game, I was aghast when I saw Burnett come out for the seventh. In my view, the hitters had just gotten him off the hook for his horrible start to the game, the bullpen was fully rested after Sabbathia went eight innings and then they had a day off…. I mean, no matter how you slice it, there was no reason whatsoever to allow Burnett to continue in that game. Not to mention, as Don Zimmer used to say to Joe Torre –when Girardi was his catcher, by the way– “it gets late early in the postseason.” For Girardi and the Yankees, it’s late now. Girardi’s error could cost his team everything, and his error was clear the minute it was happening. If you were in the Yankees dugout, how did you not wonder what the hell was going on? What do you think Derek Jeter was thinking as he watched Burnett sweat his way through the 8th and 9th place hitters on the Angels?
The Yankees were nine outs from the World Series, with a two run lead, a shaky all season long starter who had already been raked, and every reliever in his bullpen was available. And in case you are still wondering if I am over reacting, let me make it even clearer:
GIRARDI HAD RIVERA AVAILABLE FOR SIX OUTS IF THE YANKEES DIDN’T SCORE ANY MORE RUNS
That means that all Girardi had to do was get three outs without allowing a run, in an inning in which the lineup was #8 hitter, #9 hitter, and Chone Figgins, who was 2 for 31 to that point in the postseason. To get that job done, he used the aforementioned shaky AJ Burnett, who allowed two base-runners in about ten seconds, and then –with the tying runs on base and nobody out in a game in which the Yankees were nine outs from going to the Serious– Girardi went to Damaso Marte, easily the worst pitcher on the Yankees playoff roster, if not the worst pitcher in the entire playoff universe. Damaso Marte. The same Damaso Marte who appeared in 21 games in 2009, threw 13 innings, allowed 14 earned runs and posted a 9.45 ERA.
How is that sequence even remotely defensible? I’ve been looking all day, and am still waiting for the dozens of articles questioning the choices Girardi made in that inning. Here’s one, from Jesse Spector, of the NY Daily News:
…. the burden of a collapse in this series would fall squarely on Girardi, who has made decisions in both losses that are indefensible. In both Games 3 and 5 in Anaheim, Girardi’s management of the Yankees’ pitching staff left fans saying to themselves, “What the hell is he thinking?” And that was before Alfredo Aceves coughed up Game 3, and before A.J. Burnett let the tying runs get on base in Game 5. From the time that Aceves came in, and from the time that Burnett stayed in after a long top of the frame, Girardi’s decisions had “mistake” written all over them. Both proved catastrophic.
Is that it? The umpires are getting raked for their mistakes. They’re writing about how Nick Swisher made the first and the last outs in that fateful seventh. They’re talking about the lousy broadcast coverage, the lack of insight, how Scoscia misused Brian Fuentes, how Fuentes shouldn’t have thrown that fastball to A-Rod. Girardi’s complete mishandling of the bottom of the seventh inning seems to have happened in a vacuum. I was screaming at the television, from the minute he sent Burnett out there, I mean, that was a farce. Here’s the heat Girardi has taken for it, the MLB page for Sports Illustrated has the following headlines:
Breathless ninth drains emotion from all
Angels’ aggressive approach pays dividends
Game 6 critical for Yanks’ Series rotation
From ESPN’s MLB page:
Managing their thoughts
Here’s what I would’ve chosen:
Loss falls on manager
Alex Rodriguez has sportswriters and talk show hosts all atwitter as they struggle to come up with adequate comparisons to his performance thus far this postseason. Of course, Giants fans know exactly who he is reminding everyone of, while theBud the Selig-imposed gag order on writing,m saying or thinking positive things about Barry Bonds is still in effect.
Bonds 2002 17 G 45 AB 18 R 16 H 2 2B 1 3B 8 HR 16 RBI 27 BB 6 SO .356/.581/.978 1.559 OPS
A Rod 2009 07 G 27 AB 9 R 11 H 1 2B 0 3B 5 HR 11 RBI 4 BB 4 SO .407/.469/1.000 1.469 OPS
Turns out, the comparisons are actually pretty much right on. A Rod is having a Bondsian postseason. He’s way off in the walks, but teams pretty much walked Bonds every chance they got that year, so he’s never gonna get there. But, he’s got the power, the on base percentage is right there, and he’s actually got a better batting average so far. He’s gotta do it for another seven or ten games, but. still in all, he looks great side by side with the greatest postseason performance in baseball history, which is saying something.
UPDATE: David Pinto also notices the lack of walks:
…. They pitch to him because the Yankees lineup behind him is pretty potent. This isn’t the Giants, with Bonds and a bunch of nobodies. Teams need to make an effort to get an out with A-Rod at the plate, otherwise they’re just playing to the Yankees OBP strength.
I’ve always believed that Bonds was walked as often as he was because he was so universally hated, but that’s probably the Giants fan in me being so pissed that they could get away with walking him so constantly.
Teams started walking him for real in 2001, after he started the year with 11 home runs in 75 April at bats (he ended the season with 177 free passes). But those ’01-’02 Giants were the best Giants teams of the last twenty years. Besides Jeff Kent, who was a truly great hitter, the Giants during that time had a still terrific Rich Aurilia, Benito Santiago was pretty good, David Bell had a terrific year in ’02, Reggie Sanders had 23 home runs in ’02. In ’03, the team started being weaker, Grissom and Jose Cruz Jr. each had 20, but Bonds ended up with 148 walks in 130 games played. In ’04, things got out of hand. Grissom and Feliz had 22 home runs, but they were useless as the second and third best hitters on the team. Bonds walked 232 times that season, 68 of them intentional, and probably another 50 or 60 as semi-intentional, and virtually no team paid a significant price for avoiding him.
So really, only once in that time did Bonds have someone even close to the hitter Texeira is, in 2002, when Kent hit 37 home runs. I remember it feeling different at the time, but now that I’m looking back, Pinto’s right.
Andrew Baggardly interviewed Carney Lansford after his firing. Let’s talk about what Lansford had to say:
…. Carney Lansford is one of the most honest, most passionate people in uniform I’ve covered over the past 14 years. So I knew if he returned my call yesterday following the news he wouldn’t return as the Giants’ hitting coach, he’d offer a richly candid assessment of the decision, the job he tried to do and the talent level with which he worked. More than anything, I knew he’d speak from the heart. Well, he didn’t return my call last night, but there was a very good reason. He was burying his father-in-law.
“I’d gotten the call from Boch two hours before the service,” Lansford said. “Heck of a day.”
Let’s start right here. You wanna talk about class, or the lack thereof? The Giants called him to tell him he was fired on the day he was burying his father-in-law. Are you kidding somebody? Do you have any idea how little class, compassion and integrity that demonstrates? There’s a statement about your SF Giants. What a classless, insensitive thing to do. The same way they treat everyone. Remember that Bonds guy? You know, the player who carried the team for fifteen years? Pretty much treated him the same way. Thanks for the memories, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.
The tracked down Lansford so they could fire him the same day he was going to be at a family funeral. That is, quite frankly, disgraceful.
…. The reason we didn’t win is we weren’t good enough offensively. You certainly can’t blame the pitching. I wish I had more offense to work with, but I had what I had. I don’t know what I would’ve done differently. I did not work out.
…. Had I had an offense like the Dodgers or Angels or Red Sox or Rockies or Yankees, and had we underachieved, I’d really take it hard. But I think everybody knew, and we all expected, that we’d be an offensively challenged team. That said, we were able to stay in the wild card hunt until the final week of the season. I’m really proud of that. We kept the fans interested and excited for six months. I believe in my own mind that the team overachieved, and I believe that’s due to the coaching staff and Boch motivating these guys. I really think that’s true.”
Well, Brian Sabean didn’t know that the Giants were offensively challenged, because he didn’t do a single thing about it prior to the season starting. Bill Neukon certainly didn’t think the team was offensively challenged, because he sat there and drank his wine, and ate his cheese, and put no pressure on the team’s management to upgrade the offense at all. So, it appears that Lansford was the only person in the Giants organization who knew that a lineup that was gonna get 600 plate appearances from Winn, Rowand, Ishikawa, Molina, Renteria and the rest of these bums was gonna be bad.
…. “My only comment on the situational hitting is the first thing I was told when I took the job is it was atrocious. Did we work on that? More than you’ll ever know. They just didn’t get it done. We had meetings, we talked about the thought process, we talked about what pitch to look for. I don’t know if anyone had to move more runners than I did, as much as I had to move Rickey (Henderson) all those years. But going out early and doing it against batting practice? Anybody can do that. It comes down to games, when guys are throwing 95 mph fastballs and curveballs when you don’t know they’re coming. You can emphasize the heck out of it, but at some point you just have to find a way to get it done.
“At some point, guys have to take responsibility for not doing that. That’s one thing I stressed to the guys – Step up and be responsible for yourself. Guys at the big league level, by the time they get there, should know how to do that stuff – move runners, get a guy home from third with less than two outs. If guys are learning that at the big league level, it’s too late. A major league player should not be as poor at it as we were in my two years. Do I take it personally? Of course I do. I know it cost us games. I’m a human being. I’m not a machine. But I’ll sleep good at night knowing I took my best shot.”
We’re back to the organization. Where is the accountability? Brian Sabean is the boss of this team. He runs the whole thing. He hires, directs, and organizes who, how and what. And the Giants are as bad at developing hitters as any team in baseball. Brian Sabean and the rest of the people in his system, the men whose job it is to draft, coach, and prepare these players to be major leaguers, absolutely have to answer for this system-wide failure. The hitters who come out of the Giants minor league system are, as a group, as undisciplined and poorly coached as any in baseball. Name the last player to come out of the Giants system that had command of the strike zone? The last player who was an excellent defender? The last player who came out of the Giants system, and was considered a heads up player, one who played the game right?
No one. Pablo Sandoval is the best everyday player to come out of the Giants minor league system since Will Clark, over twenty years ago. As good as Sandoval is, he still only managed 39 unintentional walks. The draft is a crap shoot? Yeah, well, of course it is, especially when you have no system in place to teach the players you do pick.
Brian Sabean had Barry Bonds for fifteen years, fifteen years of the best player in baseball, and managed to make it to the World Series one time. Now, without Bonds to cover his mistakes, the Giants haven’t had a player score 100 runs in a season in six years, since Bonds did it in 2004. In that span, 140 major league baseball players have scored 100 runs or more, and not one Giant has. In fact, no Giants player has even scored 90 runs during that stretch. In 2005, Pedro Feliz led the team with 69 runs scored. In 2006, Vizquel scored 88. In 2007 Bonds led the team with 75 runs scored. despite playing in only 126 games. In 2008, Winn scored 84. And this season, Sandoval led the team with 79 runs scored. You have to go all the way back to 2002 to find a Giants player other than Bonds who scored 100 runs, when Jeff Kent, another player who didn’t come up through the Giants system, scored 102. That’s the last 9 seasons, 9 seasons in a row in which no player drafted by and developed by the San Francisco Giants has scored 100 runs.
That is simply awful. And it isn’t Carney Lansford’s fault. It’s isn’t the hitters fault, either. It is a failure of philosophy. It is a failure of approach. It is a failure of an entire organization. And it is, more than anyone else, Brian Sabean’s failure. He has failed. His beliefs, his ideas on what it takes to be effective at the plate, on what it takes to be an effective major league baseball player, are wrong. As long as he’s running this team, this team will not win anything.
And it isn’t gonna change when they bring in a new batting coach.
Or monkey off his back?
WOW!!!! That’s a hell of a game, and a hell of a win. I’ll try and get something out for Monday.
Martin (sorry, I knew that), over at Obsessive Compulsive, thinks I missed a couple of points in my recent rants. He thinks the Giants weren’t thinking about contending prior to the season, that the failure of the team to draft good offensive players isn’t Sabean’s fault, that the team over-achieved and Sabean deserves some credit for that, that the team is rebuilding and I’m being too harsh. I disagree on most of his points. Here’s what I wrote in response:
Well, I disagree on a lot of your points. Brian Sabean made minor changes to a team that he thought was good enough. He added a fifth starter, a relief specialist, and a (worthless) shortstop to a team that scored 640 runs the previous year, because he thought he was fine-tuning a competitive club. He absolutely said so several times before the season started, and then he acted accordingly. You don’t make those kinds of cosmetic, expensive additions to a rebuilding team, you just don’t. You play Burriss, you save your money, and you go out and get younger. Sabean was going for it, and his idea of going for it was absurd.
And as for your prediction that the Giants would contend, and that no one else thought that they could; I predicted, way back in the beginning of the season, that if every single thing went right, a superstar season by Sandoval, and Zito bouncing back, and Lincecum not having a sophmore slump, and Cain having his best year ever, and every other possible break going their way, the Giants still wouldn’t be able to make the postseason. It was my long-term view that was the correct one, not yours, Martin. You’ve missed the point of this season, just like Brian Sabean did. The 88 wins were a mirage, a combination of good luck, timing, and the completely unseen event of our entire pitching staff shaving a full run off our ERA from the year before.
And what is this rebuilding thing you keep referring to? Winn, Rowand, Molina, Ishikawa, Lewis, Renteria, these are all players that Sabean went out and got. He paid handsomely for their services. Rebuilding? What is that? He BUILT this team.
Alderson and Barnes had value, and Sabean transformed that value into more useless, league average players, who fit in exactly with the same league-average players he has been bringing here for going on seven years in a row. If the Giants are rebuilding, it’s because of his own failure. He’s not rebuilding a team that he just came to run. He’s cleaning up his mess. Let’s not forget his decision to forgo draft choices several years back; just one more of the ridiculous ways he has hamstrung his own team.
As for the draft being a crapshoot, well, sure it is, but what’s that got to do with anything? Forget about the draft. Sabean doesn’t know what makes an offense go. He doesn’t know how to build an offense. If you value the wrong traits in a player, then it doesn’t matter what you do, because you will fail. Brian Sabean values steady, veteran, experienced, high batting average gamers. These players have a place in the game, you just can’t have an entire offense made of these types of players. You cannot field an entire team of replacement-level players, which what the Giants have been doing for the last five or six years.
Don’t talk to me about rebuilding, we’re rebuilding because the players Sabean went out and got are terrible, laughably overpaid, 2 home run a year players who deserve to make about a third of what they earn.
You talk about rebuilding like a team that hasn’t won a title in the history of the city the play in can afford to shit away a once in a lifetime chance to win a championship, WHICH THE GIANTS HAD THIS SEASON, and they shit it away like so much aggravating extra work they just didn’t want to do.
It was a disgraceful performance by Sabean and Neukom. There should have been no ends to which they wouldn’t have gone once it became clear that we had a championship-caliber pitching staff, in the midst of an historic performance the likes of which we may never see again, and all the team needed to do was spend money and send a couple of valuable, tradable commodities you seem to think were so expendable, so unpredictably worthless, and get a hitter or two who could’ve made a difference.
Instead, we traded away those valuable prospects and got Ryan Garko (as in, WHO THE FUCK IS RYAN GARKO?!?) and a completely broken-down, empty batting average 32-year old Freddie Sanchez, who contributed one home run and two walks.
THAT IS FAILURE OF THE ABSOLUTE HIGHEST ORDER.
A playoff berth was there for the taking, and our GM failed in every way imaginable, wasting resources and coming up so empty that he actually had to replace Garko with the player that Garko had been brought in to replace. Are you kidding somebody? If it hadn’t been for Juan Uribe and Eugenio Velez coming completely out of nowhere, the season would’ve been lost months ago, our GM failed so spectacularly.
How you can fail to see that is remarkable to me. I know you’re smart. But, in this instance, you are blind. The Giants, out of nowhere, had a legitimate chance to make some noise in the postseason. All it would’ve taken is smart moves by our GM. Instead, he made stupid, wasteful moves, moves that accomplished nothing. And, for that, he was rewarded with a new two year contract, and millions of dollars.
UPDATE: Yeah, and in case you were wondering about the ownership and accountability of the team’s management; Carney Lansford was fired today. So, even though, Brian Sabean got all the props for the team winning 88 games with no offense, Lansford was fired because he failed to make Randy Winn hit home runs. So much for winning 88 games being the important factor in the team’s success and failure. I guess that only counts for the GM and the coach.
…. to me, Giants fans. I’m not gonna waste my time, my energy, and my love for baseball on this collection of fools. It’s not bad enough that Brian Sabean, fresh off of three years in a row of worst in baseball offense, still thinks he knows better than every other team in the game:
….At a time when younger, number-crunching GMs are in vogue, Neukom is placing his faith in a 53-year-old executive who has begun to embrace sabermetrics but still has a stronger scouting background. Indeed, when asked about the need for hitters with better on-base percentages, Sabean said almost dismissively, “I think we learned this year, as attested by winning 88 games, the most important thing is the final score, winning the game.”
Yeah, just like batting average is the best indicator of a hitters effectiveness, just like wins and losses are the best way to evaluate a pitcher. Is this guy for real? Talk about being stuck in 1985. What a jackass. And what a fool Neukom is for basing his decision to bring back the Idiot on something as worthless as a 16 game improvement over the year before, as opposed to the complete and utter failure of Sabean to maximize the team’s unforeseen opportunity to make the postseason for the first time in a five years, or the waste of two of the top four young pitching prospects in the system for a couple of absolutely worthless nobodies who contributed NOT ONE FUCKING THING AT ALL!!!!!!
Or maybe he could’ve seen what was predictably obvious to everyone in baseball; that the Giants coming into 2009 had to upgrade their offense significantly to be serious about contending; and Sabean –serious about contending the whole time– came up with the great idea of signing Randy Johnson and Edgar Renteria as the answer to that issue.
No, Neukom decided that winning a couple more games than everyone thought we would must be due to the great work of his GM and coach, as opposed to what was obvious to all of baseball; that it was his young pitchers carrying the team, and, in fact, his GM completely failed in his efforts to upgrade the team’s offense, which meant that the Giants would be watching the playoffs on television –again– despite the historic performances of the members of their pitching staff.
No, it’s not bad enough that this is what we can expect from our our fool of an owner, or our dinosaur of a GM. No, we even get the added treat of the local media making sure that we know it’s not his fault we’ve never landed one single significant free agent hitter in his entire tenure:
…. the new season begins in 172 days, and the Giants will be handed new and grander expectations because, as we know, every time a team gains 16 wins, it must by definition pick up another 16 the next year, give or take a few. And that burden will land squarely on Sabean’s leonine head. Except that teams don’t typically make two such leaps in successive years; in fact, most teams that actually leap forward one year tend to fall back the next.
…. this expectation thing is Sabean’s problem to correct, and the math says no. Again.
Yeah, go Giants!! Let’s all get ready to lose more games than we did this year! Don’t have any high expectations or anything. Don’t plan on being better, or improving, or anything like that, because, remember, teams that do well one year tend to do poorly the next. And, remember, it’s never ever ever the GM’s fault when they do.
Yup, just what we needed, a nice long dissertation from Ray Ratto, who, by the way, knows nothing about baseball whatsoever. But, hey, why should that stop him from explaining to us uninformed dolts that Bill Neukom controls the budget, and that Buster Posey isn’t ready, and that the Giants can’t afford Matt Holliday or whoever else might actually help. In other words, get ready for more excuses when we do nothing to address our horrible, worst in baseball offense. Yup, write some long-winded bullshit about how the Giants will once again be hamstrung by difficult decisions, because of difficult times, or difficult ideas, or difficult concepts. Yup, just keep selling the idea that it’s all somebody else’s fault, and write about that.
As opposed to writing about facts. Facts. Like the fact that it’s Brian–fucking–Sabean who decides what player the team should pursue and sign, and the fact that he has pursued and signed the wrong guys time and time again. Or the fact that it’s been Sabean who has made the decision to throw tens of millions of dollars on the fucking ground for this laughable collection of worthless hitters –not to mention the useless dregs we’re still paying to work at 7-11– thereby rendering the team unable to pursue a real hitter once again. Or the fact that this is the same exact excuse we were hearing from Sabean eight fucking years ago when the Giants could’ve landed Vladimir Gurerrero. In point of fact, this sameexact excuse has been made by the Giants, made by Brian Sabean, year after year; and once again, the local media are knocking Grandma out of the way as they run to the rescue and make sure that we mere mortals, who cannot possibly fathom any of the important and complicated details of the inner workings of a major league team, must remember that it’s NEVER EVER EVER EVER THE FUCKING GENERAL MANAGERS FAULT!!!!
IT IS!!!!!!! IT IS, IT IS, IT IS, IT IS!!!!!! It is Brian Sabean’s fault this team cannot afford a real hitter. It is Brian Sbean’s fault the Giants did not make the playoffs this year. It is Brian Sabean’s fault the Giants pay $10 million dollars a year to four–not one, not two, or even three, but, no, four– FOUR of the worst everyday baseball players alive. And this isn’t a new phenomenon. Let me remind you of some of the most important failures in the past. Let’s go back, all the way back to 2001:
…. 2001 is still fresh enough to look at. The events and decisions that shaped (that) season are easy to recall, painful, but easy. There were two key moments in the San Francisco Giants 2001 season, from a managers standpoint. The one that strikes me as the most important was the handling of the Andres Gallarraga/JT Snow issue in July and August; and the second most important was the Marvin Benard fiasco. I view the Gallarraga/Snow dilemma as more important, because it came up late in the season, when the post-season was still up for grabs.
Andres Gallarraga was acquired on July 24th. In the 20 games after he arrived, the Giants went 17-3, surging from 6.5 games behind the D’backs to just a half game out of first place. Their run production spiked upward, from an average of 4.93 to 6.75 runs per game. During that stretch, Gallarraga was a dominant force, providing a whole new look to the Giants lineup. Not only offering greater protection for Kent, but at times he even batted cleanup. Not surprisingly, Bonds, Kent, and, in fact, virtually everyone in the lineup was able to significantly boost their production. The difference between having the Big Cat instead of JT at the plate was obvious to even the most casual observer, (my wife); the team simply looked unbeatable. After the surge, the Giants were a season high 17 games over .500 at 69-52, and seemed a lock to make the playoffs.
By that time, however, JT Snow was healthy, and Dusty (and Brian Sabean) were faced with a decision. Should they bench the Big Cat? Should they platoon the right-handed Gallarraga and the left-handed Snow? Many articles and columns were written around this time, and there seemed to be a lot of references to someone not losing their job because of injury, (a bogus bit of nonsensical “common sense” that is constantly spouted in sports). Dusty made some reference to JT producing in the past, and how they really couldn’t expect to win without his bat (really, you could look it up), and then he benched Andres and started Snow. And how did that work?
Almost exactly as you might expect. When they made the switch from Andres, with a slugging percentage around .600, to Snow, with a slugging percentage around .350; they completely derailed the offense. Over the next twenty games, the Giants offense slumped to only 4.05 runs per game, and the team produced a record of 9-11. By then Dusty realized that JT wasn’t going to get it done; he started platooning them for real, but the damage was done, Andres and the team never got back on track. That twenty game stretch, in which Dusty Baker (and Brian Sabean’s) loyalty to one player apparently superseded (their) loyalty to a team, to an organization and to its fans; cost the Giants the playoffs. From that 69-52 record, the Giants went 21-20 the rest of the way, losing the division by two games to the eventual world champion Diamondbacks.
I was at the next seasons’ GM meets the fans session, and Sabean defended that decision –to me, directly, under specific questioning– like I was speaking French. There was never a question as to what should happen, and there was never a question as to his involvement in the decision. The league-worst first basemen got his job back from the superstar slugger who was carrying the team as if water was dry and rocks were soft. That was eight years ago. What’s changed since then?
Nothing. The Giants are a laughingstock. And it’s all on one person. Brian Sabean.
It is all Brian Sabean’s fault. IT. IS. BRIAN. SABEAN’S. FAULT.
I’m not gonna stop watching and writing about baseball. I’m just gonna stop watching and writing about the SF Giants. Sorry, all.
One of the excellent backtalkers posted a link to the full Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy interview that Andrew Baggardly did. I read it, and wanted to bring some of it to the front page:
Sabean: “The thing I do know about Bengie’s situation is going into free agency he’s going to be in pretty darn good stead. There’s going to be more than the Giants interested and there are going to be teams that may be able to offer more years or salary than we at the end of the day may be able to compete for. So it’s a complicated issue but he certainly did his part and he deserves due consideration.”
Translation: “we’re gonna overpay him on a two year deal.”
Sabean: “…. it’s safe to say we need some more power, quite frankly. The team is going to have to take on a little different personality. As Boch pointed out to me at the end of the year, which makes sense, a lot of times when you have players like Pablo and Bengie who are free swingers, sometimes, especially with a younger team, or a team challenged to score a lot of runs, they’ll take on that personality. In a selfish way you’d like to find somebody who’s different from them who can calm things down or act in the middle of the order in a different way.
Translation: “I failed to sign Adam Dunn or Bobby Abreau, and we were fucked all year long because of it.”
Bochy: “I thought as hitters that we weren’t aggressive enough in certain counts, especially ahead in the count. I want these guys to let the bats go. I thought we were late a lot on fastballs in hitter’s counts. We want to work on that too. That’s a big part of the game. Power comes from being aggressive.
Translation: “I don’t know what I am talking about.”
Bochy: …. “I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Edgar (Renteria). I really don’t. This guy is a pro and he had a down year, I think, because of how much that elbow was bothering him. It didn’t just bother him throwing. It bothered him hitting. And this game’s hard enough to play when you feel great, but when you’re hurting and you’re trying to hit major league pitching, it’s not that easy.”
Translation: “I don’t know what I am talking about.”
Sabean: “Our aim is to try to get something done with Freddy (Sanchez) and I expect that probably will happen.”
Translation: “I don’t know what I am talking about.”
Sabean: “The one thing that didn’t happen was, collectively as a group, we just couldn’t get marginally better. …. Whether it’s moving runners over or the bunting game, in some ways, we might have gotten caught in between. We were waiting for guys to hit three-run homers. We were waiting for guys to hit a double with the bases loaded. The more we found out we couldn’t do that, later in the year, we decided that we were going to have to do some other things — bunting guys over or running a little bit more.”
Translation: “I don’t know what I am talking about.”
Seriously, though, the comments from these two are especially revealing. First off, they show that they really do have significant flaws in how they evaluate players. On the one hand, they are saying that a player is who he is, as in the comment about Sandoval and Molina. But in the next minute, we hear how they didn’t seem to know that they had a power-less team of hackers, and that they were surprised that none of these bums couldn’t hit three-run home runs at will. Bochy wants us all to remember that Renteria is a pro and a gamer and all that, but he fails to even mention how he’s also gonna be 35-years old, and has been injured and on a decline for most of the last four seasons.
Just like Sabean wants us all to know that Sanchez is a gamer and a pro and he expects that he’ll do better than last season, even though he’s 32 years old, and injured, and right smack in the middle of his decline phase.
Additionally, they demonstrate that they either haven’t been paying attention, or are actually that clueless when it comes to knowing what is actually happening. Did Bochy actually say, “I thought as hitters that we weren’t aggressive enough in certain counts.”? Really? That’s not what I thought. It’s not what any close examination of the teams hitters shows. It’s not what any of us who watched the games saw.
And, finally, the piece de resistance:
Sabean: …. “I’ll mention this, not in any way of being defensive, but the (two-year, $18.5 million) Renteria situation: We made a management decision on all levels that we needed a veteran shortstop. Looking back, the choice internally would have been somebody like (Emmanuel) Burriss, which as we all know sitting here today, wouldn’t have been the right thing to do.
Secondarily, no matter what the contract threshhold ended up being, if you talk to Tony LaRussa, if you talk to Bobby Cox, if you talk to anybody around baseball who’s had this type of player and you listen to how Boch witnessed what he was able to do on and off the field, including or especially just with somebody like Pablo, who he took under his wing in Spring Training and carried that out through the season and let alone how he went out there most days not at 100 percent, probably 75 percent.
Yeah, right. Sandoval is who he is, but also, he wouldn’t have been shit if it wasn’t for Renteria? The Tigers threw Renteria away, he was such a great fucking teammate, (and they instantly improved by about fifteen games, by the way). The right thing to do is to put your team in a position to win, and to do that, after last season; you needed to acquire some real hitters. If you’re really interested in developing a championship team, you don’t surround your twenty-something superstar pitchers with a bunch of senior citizens, you surround them with good, young talent. If you’re interested in making sure you don’t lose too much, you sign cast-offs like Renteria and Molina and try to pass them off as valuable.
Letting Burriss run out there all season would have been $18 million dollars cheaper –money that could have, should have been spent on a home run hitter– and would’ve been just as productive, something that was obvious to anyone who spent any time looking at the track records of the players involved.
And let me say this; Freddie Sanchez will never hit enough to justify his contract as he enters the prime seasons of his decline phase. He will never be healthy enough to be an everyday player again, and his contract will be just one more albatross contract in the endless succession of albatross contracts that are the defining characteristic of Brian Sabean’s reign.
UPDATE: I wanted to also highlight this comment by Sabean:
…. “I don’t feel particularly good about a colleague of mine like Kevin Towers being let go the way he was, but that’s the business.”
Towers is another failure of a GM, a guy mired in the past, with little appreciation of how the game has changed. Of course, Sabean thinks it’s terrible that Towers was fired after 14 years of failing to deliver a championship. That’s what Sabean must think about as he watches Molina swing at one pitch after another and wonders how come he’s not hitting three-run home runs every time.