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Archive for January, 2010


…. Agreement found

Here’s Jay Jaffe, another one of the boys at BP, noticing our estimable GM’s strengths and weaknesses:

…. (Seattle Mariner) GM Jack Zduriencik is one of the sharper tools in the shed.

Giants:

Elsewhere in that shed, Brian Sabean continues to pound screws into bricks with a garden rake. Given an offense that finished last in the majors with a .244 EqA, Sabean has thrown about $35 million in 2010-2011 commitments at DeRosa, Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez, Bengie Molina, and Juan Uribe, none of whom are strong steps in the direction of boosting that. Huff and Molina were below .260 last year, Uribe’s at .242 for his career, and both DeRosa and Sanchez are coming off injuries that led to unproductive post-trade stints; the latter isn’t even likely to be available for opening day, given his recent shoulder surgery. Projected for a .267/.346/.428/.269 EqA performance, DeRosa’s production appears to be light for a corner outfielder. He’d make far more sense at second or third base, with a concomitant shift of Pablo Sandoval to first base to do away with Huff’s similarly sub-par production (.274/.340/.436/.268 EqA) and dodgy defense.

(italics mine)

Sabean has thrown about $35 million in 2010-2011 commitments at DeRosa, Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez, Bengie Molina, and Juan Uribe

We don’t have the money for a player like Matt Holiday? The Yankees signed Nick Johnson for essentially the same money Sabean gave Aubrey Huff, only with a one-year commitment instead of two, and Nick Johnson sported a .426 OBP last season, as opposed to Huff’s .310. Read that sentence twice.

We don’t need Molina, regardless of how inexpensive he is.

We could’ve gotten second base handled by Uribe, and not traded for and wasted $12 million on Sanchez.

I’m too tired to keep writing about this.

On and on, we see that, by anybody’s standards, Brian Sabean is failing.



…. Information deficit

Another ex-Giant goes to a team that exists in the real world, and discovers just how wrong Brian Sabean can be:

…. The 35-year-old (Randy) Winn, who hit .262 with two homers and 51 RBI in 149 games for the Giants last season, fits snugly into the Yankees’ budget. His deal is worth $2 million, according to a baseball official with knowledge of the contract, and will become official after a physical today. While signing Winn means Damon is out, it does not preclude the Yankees from adding another cheap, experienced outfielder, a team insider said.

So Winn goes from making $10 million with the Giants to making $2 million with the Yanks. Yeah, that sounds about right. At least he’s not walking straight out of the Giants clubhouse and into the broadcast booth like Dave Roberts, Ray Durham, Steve Finley, and so many players over the last five years.



…. More bad news

I know I tend to lean towards the negative. Sorry. As far as I can tell, the vast majority of what I read about the Giants is positive, and for a team that has had it’s share of worst in baseball players, contracts, offenses, and acts, that is simply Polly-Anna. The Giants are not one of the better run organizations in baseball, as suggested by this BP article:

…. the best-run teams of the decade:

1. Oakland Athletics Billy Beane (2000-09)
2. St. Louis Cardinals Walt Jocketty (2000-07), John Mozeliak (2008-09)
3. Cleveland Indians John Hart (2000-01), Mark Shapiro (2002-09)
4. San Francisco Giants Brian Sabean (2000-09)

Whatever. I don’t care how you measure it. The idea that any of the team’s success in the “aughts” was due to anyone but Bonds is provably false. They’re not one of the best-run teams, they are one of the worst. They are one of the worst.

I wrote several years ago that I thought Brian Sabean was riding on the coattails of the best offensive player of all-time, and that the minute Bonds was gone we’d all see just how bad Sabean was at building an offense. Well, we sure see now. The Giants have been one of the worst offenses in baseball from the instant Bonds left the team, and Sabean shows no signs at all of being able to turn things around. That he was rewarded with a contract extension after years of failing is astounding. That he is still around to throw money away, to trade away important and valuable prospects for more old, declining, injured and injury-prone mediocrities is frankly unbelievable. Sabean lives in a world where players are frozen in time, where the best thing a player gas ever done is what the player will do now, regardless of how long ago it was, or how fluky it was, or whether the player has undergone major surgery, or whether the player is injured.

…. Giants GM Brian Sabean was already pleased with his winter after re-signing second baseman Freddy Sanchez before he could reach the free-agent market, then signing free agents Aubrey Huff and Mark DeRosa to play first base and left field. However, Sabean is even happier after catcher Bengie Molina decided Friday to return to the Giants as a free agent on a one-year, $4.5 million contract on Friday following protracted negotiations with the Mets that did not produce the two-year deal he was seeking. The Giants did not want to commit to Molina beyond 2010 because of the presence of top catching prospect Buster Posey in their system.

…. Sabean thinks the Giants will contend after finishing 88-74 last year to end a streak of four consecutive losing seasons. Molina believes the Giants can do better than contend, commenting “I think we can get to the playoffs and win it all. This team is that good. The pieces are all here. We’ve just got to go out and do it.”

First off, the worry that someone would sign the broken-down, shadow of a former batting champion out from under the Giants is laughable. LAUGHABLE. Not only was Sanchez under contract for 2010, but there wasn’t a GM in the game who though as highly of him as Sabean did. Not one. There was absolutely no chance whatsoever that Sanchez was gonna play anywhere but major league baseball’s version of the Seniors Tour, San Francisco.

And as for this quote: “I think we can get to the playoffs and win it all” all I can say is, Huh?

That’s not optimism. That’s not even wishful thinking. That is blindness. The kind of blindness that cripples a team, the kind of blindness that allows one to trade away two of the team’s top four pitching prospects away at the deadline to acquire razor-thin, marginal talent upgrades. It is the kind of blindness that allows someone to sign one percent better players than the ones you have for another $4 or $6 million dollars; so that at the end of the day, they very amount of money needed to land a top free-agent has been wasted on five players who are not more than ten percent better than the five players you already had.

…. First Base: Aubrey Huff (.248 EqA, -1.0 WARP)

Given what we know about the defensive spectrum and the distribution of talent in baseball, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a player who can hit at a league-average clip and play first base in a manner that doesn’t suggest a future nomination for the Darwin Awards. Yet here we are. Huff had shaken off three years of mediocrity to enjoy something of a career year in 2008 (32 homers, .306 EqA), in part because he didn’t see all that much time in the field. With the departure of the undead Kevin Millar, the Orioles told Huff to reacquaint himself with the leather. Huff wasn’t egregiously awful afield (-2 FRAA), but his bat went limp (.253/.321/.405) before dying a miserable death upon being traded to Detroit, where he applied the coup de gràce to the Tigers’ season as a Replacement-Level Killer DH (.189/.265/.302).

That’s Aubrey Huff, our new first baseman. One of the worst hitters in baseball at his position, a player no better than either of the two first basemen we ended 2009 with, Travis Ishikawa or Ryan Garko –and arguably, worse– but as always, a player who is absolutely, positively, older. Once again, I cannot begin to understand how Sabean can fail –for virtually his entire career, now– to acquire a guy who can stand at first base, catch a throw from the shortstop, and hit a couple of home runs. In just the last two seasons, now, Sabean has spent $14 million dollars and traded one of our top young pitching prospects in his efforts to fill the easiest position to fill on the diamond. Who wants to bet Ishikawa is out there by the end of May? If he is, then you can know that the money and the prospect was wasted, COMPLETELY WASTED; because Brian Sabean cannot do his job.

And that’s just first base. I could go on and on. Shortstop? Please. Too easy. How about second base? Right now, the odds are just as good that Sanchez’s career is over as they are that he’ll be a key offensive contributor:

…. Sanchez has been hurting since the Giants obtained him from Pittsburgh in late July. He had said the Giants knew before the trade he’d need knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus (it was performed Sept. 30), and he went on the disabled list Aug. 25 with a strained shoulder, the same shoulder that was surgically fixed last month.

The surgery repaired a torn labrum and cleaned up an arthritic AC joint, said Groeschner, who added that recovery could take 12 to 15 weeks.

Asked why the shoulder damage was not detected in the physical and MRI exam before the contract was consummated, Groeschner said, “Sports medicine is not black and white all the time. It’s not just reading an MRI. A lot of interpretation goes into it.”

Asked if he would have done anything differently with the contract in retrospect, general manager Brian Sabean said, “Not at all. Due diligence was done on the medical side. This is something we couldn’t pinpoint. It shows the medical profession isn’t perfect. … There’s nothing more we could have done. We checked out every medical question.”

That is disingenous at best. Everyone knew Sanchez was injured. Everyone. For Sabean to sit here and say they did due diligence is, at best, an admission of failure. At worst, it is a bold-faced lie. This is the exact same thing that happened when Sabean went out and signed Edgardo Alfonzo. The. Exact. Same. Thing:

…. (December 16, 2003)

Manager Felipe Alou said Alfonzo, 29, could hit third or fifth. While he batted .308 for the Mets last season, 10th in the National League, Alfonzo had 16 home runs and 56 RBIs, his second straight subpar season on the power front.

In 1999 and 2000, he averaged 26 homers and 101 RBIs. A back injury hurt his numbers in 2001 (.243, 17 homers, 49 RBIs), and it was speculated in New York that he also suffered the consequences in 2002 even though he was considered healthy.

The Giants were so confident that Alfonzo has recovered that they didn’t require him to take a physical.

“It feels pretty good. I’m fine,” Alfonzo said. “Last year, I dedicated the offseason to working out and getting in great condition.

The Giants were so confident that Alfonzo has recovered that they didn’t require him to take a physical.

That was six-plus years ago. What’s changed? Only the cast of nobodies Sabean goes out and wastes money on. They’re still old, injured, and declining. The team still says it cannot afford top-flight hitters. Still says nobody wants to come here (except, of course, the really old guys who see the Giants as the Seniors Tour of baseball).

So, sorry, I cannot focus on the positive. Sure, our pitching is tremendous. I love seeing Lincecum dominate. I am ecstatic about how good and young our core of arms are.

But the way Brian Sabean treats this essentially unprecedented bounty is unforgivable. And this team will tease us, because the pitching will be so dominant at times. And then Brian Sabean will trade away some more good, young pitching to acquire some old, broken down baseball player who is five percent better than the old, broken down player we are already paying, and our future will continue to recede into the dark.



…. We can only wish

Gary Peterson wonders if the Sanchez injury could be the beginning of the end:

…. Worst case scenario, one or more of the variables in the best case scenario fails to materialize. The Giants are unable to forge their pleasantly surprising 2009 into a pleasantly confirming 2010. Sanchez becomes a magnet for fan dissatisfaction, the Armando Benitez of the 20-teens. If you want to go full doomsday, Tim Lincecum free-falls to third in the Cy Young balloting.

And the whole unfulfilling spectacle costs general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy their jobs.

Forget about Armando, if the Edgardo Alfonzo deal didn’t cost Sabean his job, and the Moises Alou deal didn’t, and the $18 million he threw on the ground to Kirk Reuter didn’t, and the $18 million he burned at the stake landing Dave Roberts didn’t, and the $126 million he sacrificed at a volcano to land Barry Zito didn’t….. well, then, I seriously doubt the $12 million wasted by signing Freddie Sanchez is going to answer my prayers.

Still, it’s nice to dream….



…. My two cents

Lots of backtalk about all the Giants doings. I like it. I have a couple of things to add to the discussion, and then you guys can get back at it while I recover from what I hope isn’t the Swine Flu.

First, the Giants lineup looks to be improved, perhaps by as much as a half a run per game, according to David Pinto’s lineup analysis tools. That’s all well and good, but, as even the most optimistic fans will all agree; the Giants defense will be worse, and will almost certainly give back that half run simply by allowing many more hits to fall in (let alone the uptick in errors).

Second, even if the defense doesn’t allow 100 extra hits to fall, and commit 50% more errors then last seasons outstanding defense; the odds that most of these geriatric players play 150 games is essentially zero. There is no chance that this team can stay healthy, fielding a lineup of four or five everyday players over 34 years old, none.

Which, of course, makes all of these prognostications moot. Sure, we’ve added 60 home runs. We’ve also added 60 years. Again.

Same old Giants, same old Sabean, same old story.

Which of our top prospects do you think we’ll have to trade this year?

UPDATE: Am I not Nostradamus?

…. Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez underwent left shoulder surgery and might not be ready by Opening Day.

I won’t even get into the laughable, failure-admitting trade of Merkin Valdez for cash, necessary, because Sabean signed four, old, injury-prone infielders, even though the team went into the off-season needing outfielders, youth, and home runs.

This trade doesn’t remind you of anyone, does it?

?????: 6.89 K/9
Merkin: 7.12 K/9

What a disgrace.



…. Front-page

Grant over at McCovey Chronicles wrote a simply outstanding article about the McGwire situation, and the whole steroids and baseball issue, and comes away with a doozy of a piece:

…. This isn’t to imply that it was just fine that a large percentage of the players were using. It’s not something that’s inconsequential, and it isn’t something that can be laughed off because a lot of players were using. But, good gravy, please stop the good vs. evil, hobbits vs. orcs, black and white discussion. Stop the false dichotomy of players from THE STEROID ERA vs. the OLD-TIMERS who did things the right way and who, if offered a way to extend their careers and improve their numbers with some chemicals, would have said “No way! I’m an old-timer who does things the right way!” I’m not sure if Rod Carew, Robin Yount, or Paul Molitor would have used steroids if they played in an era saturated in chemical enhancements, but the odds are that one of them would have. I say we kick them all out using the “Fallibility of Man” clause, just to be sure.

So when I hear or read that McGwire shouldn’t get in the Hall of Fame because he didn’t apologize the right way, it makes me stabby. Apologize to whom? To me? I had an idea he was using at the time, and I didn’t really care.

Makes me stabby? Nice. Very nice.

Go over there, and read the whole thing.



…. More more more

This is getting ridiculous:

…. McGwire doesn’t get off the hook, and leave Bonds hanging on one of his own, because people like him more. Or because Cardinals manager Tony La Russa – who starts to come across as some unindicted coconspirator with McGwire – wants to rewrite his personal history as much as Mc-Gwire does.

Nobody is defending what Bonds did with his own drug use, ever. But Bonds didn’t start the “steroid era.” McGwire is the one who did that. He doesn’t get cleared now because of a crying jag that started to make you think he was watching some kind of all-day “Old Yeller” movie marathon.

The guy sure did do a lot of crying, before he ever got to Costas. It was reported in the St. Louis paper that he cried on the phone. It was reported in USA Today by Mel Antonen that he cried on the phone. Tim Kurkjian reported that McGwire cried on the phone with him. Everybody who watched the Costas interview saw what happened there. But the question that doesn’t go away is why he was so broken up if all he was doing was taking “low dosages” of steroids to heal.

Wow. I mean, wow. It’s hard to imagine a more pompous, self-aggrandizing response. Just who the hell does Mike Lupica think he is? Sure, he can be a terrific sportswriter, but man, is he coming off small right here.

And I’m not gonna let it slide. I can’t. It’s wrong. It’s indefensible, really.

If there’s only one place in the world where you can read about how the so-called defenders of the game get called out for the blatant hypocrisy, it’ll be here at OBM. I’ll defend the players. I’ll defend their right to be treated as human beings, as fallible. I’ll defend my favorites, and I’ll even defend the ones I didn’t care so much about. They are men who play games. They stand there, in the spotlight, with all the pressure you can imagine in a world where they get paid millions of dollars to run around and hit and throw and catch a ball. It bears mentioning that sportswriters like Lupica are often the source of much of that pressure.

Be sure of that. When Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez fail, when they run out a lousy playoff performance, or strike out with the game on the line; guys like Lupica make their bones telling us how lousy they are:

…. he has made a career of hitting home runs and knocking in runs and compiling some of the best numbers in the history of his game. What he has never done is play in a World Series, even though he was supposed to play in one every year when the Yankees beat the Red Sox out of getting him after the 2003 season. He carried the Yankees for one first-round series in 2004 against the Twins and has never done it again when the games matter the most.

…. Thirty-one to play now. Yankees six out in the wild-card race. They left runners on base the way they have all year. Tuesday night they finally heard about it, and good, the $300 million third baseman most of all. Of course he was the last batter of the game for the Yankees, one last runner on base. Of course he got struck out and got booed one last time for good measure.

That’s from two years ago, when A-Rod didn’t come through. The Yankees lost to the Red Sox, and Lupica’s lead –and back-page headline, by the way– was Enough blame to go around, but it lands on A-Rod.

And that was before A-Rod came clean on using steroids, which, of course, didn’t satisfy Mike -Hall of Fame Defender- Lupica:

…. Alex Rodriguez gave us more than you thought he would when he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, a lot more than any big baseball star ever has. Rodriguez gave us his version of the truth. But that’s all it was, his version, and one only provided because he finally got caught.

Rodriguez says he was only dirty when he played in Texas but cleaner than corners on a hospital bed when he was in Seattle before that, and later when he got to New York.

We are supposed to accept all that as gospel because he has made this kind of television confession now. Or maybe he just expects us to believe him because he has always been such a good scout.

Here’s an idea. Since you seem to think it’s completely acceptable to walk around all day telling everyone what they’re supposed to, let me tell you what to do:

Stick to writing about the game. Stop acting like your job is to break these athletes down, make them accountable, hold their feet to the fire, or whatever version of saving the children you happen to posturing about on any given day. You’re not David Halbestram, writing about Vietnam. You’re not Woodward and Bernstein, breaking the Watergate scandal. You’re a sportswriter. If it wasn’t for your ridiculous, gas-bag television show, no one in the world would even know what you look like.

It’s the players that matter to fans. It’s the teams that we root for. Not the sportswriters. And, honestly, if you didn’t write about A-Rod’s girlfriend, or McGwire’s steroids supplier, we’d never notice. Really. We don’t care.

You, and Tom Verducci and the rest of you Great Defenders think you are the story. You’re not. And, quite honestly, we’re all tired of hearing about it. Let it go. Your heroes let you down? Please. Get over it. Let it go.

Pete Rose. Jason Giambi. Marion Jones. A-Rod. Manny Ramirez. David Ortiz. Andy Pettitte. And you made damn sure that Mark McGwire knew he was never ever gonna get in the Hall of Fame if he didn’t apologize. On and on, you sat there, and called for their heads, like some King of all that’s Right. Except that the only way you show up like a King is when you’re being a royal pain in the ass. Not one time did any of these athletes satisfy your demands. Not one mea culpa was good enough. That’s the real story. Why did McGwire bother? We all have seen how you treated every other athlete who capitulated your demands. Why would anyone even consider coming clean, when this is what you get?

Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa are still in your sights. They haven’t asked for your forgiveness yet, have they? And given the shameless way you and the rest of you Great Defenders are acting, why would they ever even consider it? I sure as hell wouldn’t.

Shame on you. Shame on all of you.

UPDATE: Here’s another voice of reason:

…. In the wake of Mark McGwire’s admission that he used steroids and his blubbering, Costas-ized public apology, there’s been a good deal of faux outrage, petty character assassination, bad spelling, and even worse logic as the spineless hacks at the BBWAA and their willing sheep in the blogosphere rushed to pronounce judgement on Big Mac. There were the usual hyperbolic calls for records to be expunged, for purity to be restored to the game, and that sort of sanctimonious nonsense. There were those who nobly pretended to be shocked by McGwire’s admission. And then, there were those who laughed.

All the way to the bank.

I am speaking, of course, of the MLB owners cabal, and, in particular, of the leader, the man with the penchant for the short-sleeve dress shirt, one Bud Selig.

Well done. Hat tip to B



…. History repeated

So now Mark McGwire has finally come clean, apologized, and confessed:

…. “I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come. It’s time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what people have suspected. I used steroids during my playing career and I apologize. I remember trying steroids very briefly in the 1989/1990 off season and then after I was injured in 1993, I used steroids again. I used them on occasion throughout the nineties, including during the 1998 season.

I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.”

Of course, it’s not enough. Just as Pete Rose discovered, the sportswriters who are defending baseball from the players are –almost to a man– hypocrites when they come up with these conditions for forgiveness.

Mike Lupica, NY Daily News:

…. McGwire did a lot of good for himself Monday, he did. But he did not come clean, not all the way, not the way he could have, no matter how long and hard this day and night were for him, no matter how difficult it was to make this confession to his wife and children and parents and former manager, and to the country.

Surprised? Not me. Lupica was the leader of the mob standing in front of Pete Rose’s castle, holding his pitchfork and torch, screaming for Rose’s admission of guilt and apology, and then immediately afterwards telling all of us that it wasn’t good enough.

Bill Madden, NY Daily News:

…. I highly doubt if it’s going to make any appreciable difference in the 23-24% he’s been getting in the Hall of Fame balloting.

If anything, when the voters reflect on what an absolute sham McGwire was, publicly embracing the Maris family in 1998 as he went about annihilating Roger Maris’ longstanding single-season home record with the help of performance-enhancing drugs, they should be even more dismissive of him as a person deserving of any honor in baseball. In his statement Monday, McGwire said: “I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroids era.”

It seems to me the most important people he needs to apologize to are Roger Maris’ two sons.

Um, Bill, he did apologize to the Maris family. But why let facts interfere with your work as the Great Defender of the Hall of Fame, right?

Ann Killion, Sports Illustrated:

…. It’s a little stunning that after all these years of waiting, after all these years he had to prepare for this moment that McGwire — and his chief apologist, Tony La Russa, — botched the admission.

McGwire’s stance is that he only took steroids for his health not for strength. That he firmly believes that he would have hit the same number of home runs without performance enhancing drugs. That he doesn’t view his numbers as a product of cheating.

Oh please. It’s 2010. We’re not morons.

Ken Rosenthal, USA Today:

…. In many ways, this was as bad as McGwire’s performance before Congress simply because it wasn’t credible.

I’d just like to point out that this is the same Ken Rosenthal who wrote this three years ago, almost to the day:

…. A confession would help. A confession would liberate Mark McGwire, increasing his chances of redemption by an ever-forgiving public, not to mention the 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America who vote for the Hall of Fame.

A confession would end the talk that McGwire is hiding something, forcing voters to view him for what he is; a product of his era, the Steroid Era, and hardly the only star player suspected of using illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

Nice consistency, Ken.

It’s called a moving target. Come clean. Not good enough. Apologize. Not sincere enough. Answer questions. More questions. Keep answering. Why aren’t you talking about it anymore? What are you hiding?

I wrote about Mark McGwire’s situation five years ago:

…. Virtually any athlete in any sport will do just about anything to be the best of the best, and a manager or coach will push them to do so. Some athletes will push the envelope only so far, while others will throw it away, and risk their very lives, if they truly believed it would make a difference, the difference between winning and losing. We, as fans, not only ask this of them, we demand it. Their coaches demand it, their teammates demand it, the game demands it. Be the best, win at all costs, do whatever it takes; these are the credo of virtually every championship-caliber player, coach, or team.

And now, hysterical media-types are fanning the flames of controversy; “Oh no, it looks like so and so really did do whatever it takes. Shame on him!” Please. Don’t insult my inteligence. Of course he or she did, what did you expect? The only difference between what one athlete will risk as opposed to another is based on their own personal decision-making values. As for their choice, I’d ask you; is it appropriate for one person to decide what another should be willing to risk? Is it OK for you to tell me what I should be willing to do to improve my life, my career, my earning potential? Not in my book, it isn’t, not as long as my actions don’t harm anyone else, or take from anyone else.

In the five years prior to 1997, Mark McGwire played 139, 27, 47, 104, and 130 games. Was it his use of (steroids) that allowed him to play 156, 155 and 153 over the next three, hitting 58, 70 and 65 home runs? During those five injury-riddled seasons, he hit a home run every 9.44 AB’s. In the next three, in which he played almost every game, he hit a home run every 8.17 at bats, not a tremendous difference. He stopped using (steroids) sometime during the end of the 1998 season, right? Only one full season later, he was back on the injured list, and his career was over by 2001. If his use of (steroids) enabled him to stay healthy enough and strong enough to get enough at bats to break Roger Maris’ record, how exactly was that wrong? Why should Mark McGwire give up his right to do whatever he can to help his body heal itself and stay strong enough to endure the rigors of baseball, his chosen profession? If there are risks involved, why shouldn’t he be the one to decide if they are worth it? It’s his life!

Now we get sportswriters –none of them experts on this subject, by the way– telling us that they don’t believe him. Telling us that it was the steroids that caused him to get hurt and miss games; and then telling us it was the steroids that caused him to break the home run record. With a straight face.

He came clean, confessed and apologize. Isn’t it time to end the vendetta?

Of course not. I can guarantee you this; Mark McGwire will be forced to answer questions every time the Cardinals play a game, every new city they go to, he will be asked the same questions. When did you use? What did you use? Don’t you agree that the steroids are the reasons you hit all those home runs?

On and on, he will be grilled. It’ll never be enough. That’s why it’s called a moving target.

UPDATE: The one voice of reason out there seems to be Joe Posnanski:

…. We are a forgiving society. I hear that so often that I simply assume it must be true. We as a country WANT to forgive … that’s part of what makes ours a great country. When Mark McGwire finished his sprawling, emotional, vague, occasionally tense and often enlightening hour-long interview, my thought was: “Well, I think forgiveness starts here.”

Man oh man did I get that wrong.

Within seconds of the interview ending, I began to hear analysts tearing up McGwire. Then I read some columnists’ thoughts — they mostly ripped into the man, too. And the more I read, the more I heard, the more I realized that most people did not see this thing the way I saw it. Apparently, McGwire was not contrite enough. He was not believable enough. He was not specific enough. He would not admit that steroids made him the great home run hitter he became. He did not tell the whole truth. He did not sound sincere enough. And on. And on. And on.

…. When Mark McGwire finished with his day of apologies, I forgave him. It doesn’t mean I look at his 70-home run season the way I did in 1998. It doesn’t mean that I respect the choices he made. It doesn’t even mean that I agree with his self-scouting report. No. I just mean that if there was any anger or resentment toward him for cheating, it is gone now. He admitted and he apologized.



…. More fuel for the fire

Here’s one more reason to question the moves our GM makes:

…. Vladimir Guerrero has agreed to a one-year $5 million dollar contract with the Texas Rangers, opting to stay in the same division where he helped the Los Angeles Angels to five titles in the last six years.

And there’s this:

…. Scott Podsednik agreed to a $1.75 million, one-year contract with Kansas City on Friday, giving the Royals speed at the top of the order and versatility in the outfield. The deal includes a club option for 2011.

Now, I’m not advocating signing either Podsednik or Guererro. Both players have been injured and declining for several years. But what I am pointing out is that injured, 30-something-year old players sign these kind of one-year, incentive-driven contracts all the time.

Just not with the Giants. With the Giants, they get traded for. With the Giants, they get two and three-year deals, for $12, and $14 and $18 million dollars.

(Not to mention, the Giants needed an outfielder this off-season, not another infielder)

Who do you think will create more bang for the buck over the life of their contracts, Posednik, Guererro or DeRosa? The three players are almost exactly the same age. Last season, Vlad had one of his worst seasons ever, and in every phase of offense was more productive than DeRosa, posting a .295/.334/.460 .794 OPS. Podsednik was supposedly on Sabean’s radar, but somehow managed to slip through his fingers and sign for the paltry sum of $1.75 million somewhere else.

One of these guys got a two-year deal worth $12 million, one got a one-year deal worth $5 million dollars, and one of them got a one-year deal worth $1.75 million. And the Giants can never afford to make a run at a real player.

Did Edgar Renteria deserve a two-year deal worth $18 million? Absolutely not. After the lay down, give up year he pulled in Detroit, not one team in baseball was willing to offer him those kind of numbers. He would have been happy with a minor league contract and an invitation to camp. Only Brian Sabean thought he was worth $18 million dollars. Only Brian Sabean thought he was worth anything at all.

Did Dave Roberts deserve a three-year deal worth $18 million dollars? Please. Dave Roberts had never been an everyday player in his entire baseball life. He was 34 years old, and in all likelihood, was as stunned by the Giants offer as anyone in baseball. And, of course, as an everyday centerfielder, he was completely overmatched in every phase of the game, from having to hit both right handers and lefthanders, to simply staying healthy; because, of course, he was old, and injury-prone.

On and on, over and over again, Brian Sabean doles out millions of dollars to players who are sitting at home staring at the telephone, praying that it will ring –players who go from starting for the Giants to yakking it up in the broadcast booth– and the rest of the baseball world laughs.

Again and again, players tell us how happy they are to be in San Francisco, a destination that has become baseball’s version of the PGA Seniors Tour; while our estimable GM tells us his hands are tied, the team can only afford so much.

Understand this; the Giants have plenty of money. Brian Sabean and his crack baseball team spend that money as poorly as any team has in the history of the game.

Two 35-year old ballplayers just signed with new teams. Both of them are old, both are on the decline. One of them got a one-year deal worth $5 million. The other got a two-year deal worth $12 million.

Last year, two 34-year old shortstops signed with new teams. One of them got a one-year deal worth $5 million, the other got a two-year deal worth $18 million.

Do you see?



…. Goodbye

Another retirement party for a Giant. Randy Johnson is retiring, which means that, once again, Giants fans watch a player go from being signed by Brian Sabean to being out of baseball, only something like the tenth player to do so over the last three years.



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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
None of the opinions expressed should be construed as being endorsed by the
San Francisco Giants, Major League Baseball, or any other organization mentioned herein.

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