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Archive for February, 2010


…. Learning curve

In his post about Jeff Francouer, David Pinto does an outstanding job explaining what a batter’s value really boils down to:

…. Outs are the currency of baseball. Players who can buy more runs per out, or conversely, spend fewer outs per run, are richer hitters. An easy way to look at this, something you can do off any stat sheet or the back of a baseball card, is to use batting outs per run…

…. Since 2005, Francoeur’s first season, 163 players accumulated at least 2000 plate appearances. Among those, Albert Pujols spends the fewest outs per run, 3.14. Jason Kendall spends the most, 7.34. J.D. Drew ranks 26th, a run costing him 4.12 outs. Francoeur ranks 107th, a run costing him 5.33 outs. In other words, it costs Francoeur 121 more outs than Drew to produce 100 runs. That’s four and a half games of outs.

I’d say the majority of Giants hitter during that time land closer to Francouer than they do to Pujols. ;-)

I’d also like to see where Bonds ended up during his historic 2000-2004 run.

I’ll send him an email and ask him where the Giants hitters rank in his analysis.

UPDATE: David sent me the info. As I suspected, several Giants (and ex-Giants) rank among the very worst everyday players using David’s runs per outs standard.

Randy Winn ranks 145th (6.04 outs/run) out of the 164 players in the study (good luck, Yankee fans), just ahead of Double Play AJ (6.13). Juan Uribe ranks 139th (5.84), just behind our old friend Pedro Feliz (5.83). Freddie Sanchez ranks 136th (5.80), Bengie Molina 121st (5.57). Aaron Rowand 116th (5.48), and Edgar Renteria ranks 112th (5.42).

Interestingly enough, Aubrey Huff sits in 88th place (5.11), just 4 places behind new Yankee Curtis Granderson (5.08), while Mark DeRosa has the best ranking of any Giants player listed, 55th best (4.64), so maybe, just maybe, DeRosa and Huff will improve the offense as much as some people seem to think they will.

I will highlight, of course, that my personal pet peeve player, the one proverbial “One that got away” Adam Dunn, ranks 29th, using just 4.15 outs for every run he produces.

Using David’s spread sheet and formula, (yes, my friends, I, too, am not an idiot), I calculate that Pablo Sandoval uses 4.40 outs/run produced, which would rank him 40th on this list. Travis Ishikawa and Fred Lewis both come out poorly using this method, at 5.45 and 5.38 outs/run, respectively.

The overall list shows a fairly constant correlation between OBP and outs/runs produced, not exact, but close.

However, as much as it pains me to admit it, I may be wrong about the two newest guys, or at least I’ll say that I hope I’m wrong. Notwithstanding their potential declines and injury issues, over the last several years, Huff and DeRosa have managed to be modestly efficient offensive players. Freddie Sanchez has not. Pinto’s study demonstrates with brutal clarity exactly what we’ve been saying here all along, he is an empty batting average, and certainly not worth the money and prospects the Giants gave up to get him.

As I wrote at the time of the trade, he’s essentially the same as Juan Uribe:

Sanchez, 31 years old, is a career .300 hitter, but he’s never walked more than 32 times in a season, his career high in home runs is 11, and his career OBP is just .336. He’s ranked fifth among NL second basemen in just about every category, which is to say, we traded our top draft pick from 2007 for a league average second baseman. For an easy comparison, let’s look at Juan Uribe.

J. Uribe 72 G 222 AB 17 2B 4 HR 21 RBI 10 BB 47 SO .284/.313/.432 .745 OPS
Sanchez 86 G 355 AB 28 2B 6 HR 34 RBI 20 BB 60 SO .296/.334/.442 .776 OPS

I can’t for the life of me imagine how that kind of minimal upgrade would be worth one of the top forty prospects in all of baseball. Trading Alderson is fine, but WE NEEDED HOME RUNS AND WALKS!!!! Instead, we get two more 30-year old guys who are league average hitters. Can you see? This is systemic, because Brain Sabean does not know how to evaluate hitters, player value, or how to build a team.

Now we can add outs/runs produced:

J. Uribe 5.85 outs/runs produced
Sanchez 5.80 outs/runs produced

Yeah, that looks pretty good. ;-)

I also ran Bonds’ historic 2000-2004 run using David’s formula (outs per run is (AB-hits)/((Runs Scored + RBI)/2)). During that period of time, 5 years, Bonds had 2122 at bats, and, well, let’s just side by side him with Pujols:

Barry 2122 AB 1402 outs 1142 runs produced 2.24 outs/runs produced
Albert 3354 AB 1853 outs 1179 runs produced 3.14 outs/runs produced

Wow! Bonds, at his peak, was 70% more efficient than the best player alive today.

Hat tip, and then some, to my good friend, David Pinto.



…. Lies, lies, lies

This is starting to get ridiculous. Now, Andrew Baggarly tells us that the way the Giants handled Freddie Sanchez’s injury was part of some grand scheme that benefits the ball club:

…. The Giants made the decision to keep Sanchez’s surgery quiet because at the time, they were negotiating with Juan Uribe to bring him back as a reserve. They ended up signing Uribe to a $3 million contract, and when I spoke to his agent later on, he was proud of the fact that Uribe would be pretty much the best paid infield reserve in the big leagues.

Well, you’d better believe that news of Sanchez’s surgery would’ve impacted the Uribe negotiations. Uribe’s agent would’ve known he had more leverage and might have squeezed more money out of the club, or in the least, drawn out negotiations that would’ve prevented Giants officials from wrapping it up and concentrating on other business. So the hush-hush on Sanchez worked to the team’s advantage.

Yeah, right. If Uribe’s agent didn’t know that Sanchez was injured, something that pretty much everybody in baseball knew, he should be fired.

This is called spin doctoring. Just like the story we read about how the Giants were lowballing Lincecum because they didn’t want the other owners to get mad at them for overpaying such a young player.

Bullshit. That is pure, unadulterated bullshit. And so is this.

This isn’t a story about how Sabean and his crack team handled something well, some masterful tale of intrigue and espionage that worked out exactly the way they planned. This is a story of mistakes and errors. This is a story about Brian Sabean’s failure. Having decided four years ago that Freddie Sanchez was the kind of player he had to have, Brian Sabean finally got the Pirates to say yes; and even though Sanchez was older, injured and already declining as a player, Sabean pulled the trigger, trading one of the top pitching prospects in the organization for yet another old, broken down player.

Now, several months later, after Sanchez contributed exactly what any reasonable person could have expected to the Giants chase for the playoffs –nothing– and having gone into the winter even more injured and broken down than we were told, Sabean is trying to spin this story so it looks like he, Captain Queeg, knew all along what he was doing, that it was all part of the grand plan that only he is privy to, that only he can know.

It’s pretty sad, really. Sabean is trying to spin his way out of the results of last season’s trade deadline deals –only some of the worst deals any GM has ever made without losing his job, by the way– and in doing so, is making himself look even smaller.

Pitiful. Laughable. Embarrassing.

Your 2010 San Francisco Giants.



…. Bitch and moan

Not to belittle the accomplishments of our venerated commissioner of baseball, but the news from Milwaukee –the Brewers are planning to erect a statue of Selig– is really disturbing.

First off, is there anyone who doubts that this idea could only have come from the team’s “owner,” who just happens to be his daughter. I mean, who else is gonna come up with a horrible idea like this? It certainly isn’t the fans, who have watched as the Selig family has gotten rich beyond their wildest dreams –mostly due to the tens of millions of dollars the team receives through revenue sharing, money that Selig has refused to spend on the team for as long as revenue sharing has been going on– and the increase in revenue due to a taxpayer-funded new ballpark.

Now there’s an accomplishment worthy of a statue, mooch millions upon millions of dollars off of the other teams in baseball, and off your fans and your local community, and then refuse invest in the team for decades.

But, besides some of these obvious issues, you put up statues for the great players in your franchise’s history, as opposed to filthy rich guys who charge ten dollars for a Miller Lite; the idea is off-putting for a variety of lesser concerns.

Selig’s legacy is stained by his complicity in the steroids issue. He cannot distance himself from what happened on his watch, whether you think it was a true scandal, or simply an overblown media creation. He was there, as commissioner, when Sosa and McGwire “saved” baseball, and there were people in his office that were whispering in his ear that there was a problem. He knew, and he did nothing, well, if by nothing, you mean, ignore the issue.

He’s handled several other issues rather poorly as well, don’t you think?

He tried to contract teams out of existence. That didn’t go so well, you might remember.

You could say I’m being unkind. OK, forget, for a moment, all of the things he did poorly. What has he done well?

Really, what has he accomplished that you could say is remarkable? What would you say is Bud Selig’s legacy?

Owners and players making lots of money?
Revenue sharing?
Inter-League play?
The Pete Rose fiasco? Yeah, he handled that one well.

How about shunning Bonds and McGwire for alleged PED use while standing behind David Ortiz? Yeah, very well though-out.

You do remember that he was the commissioner when the players went on strike, just about killing the game.

Oh, and he was commissioner when the owners colluded against the players, resulting in a hundreds of millions of dollars lawsuit that the league lost.

These are just a few of the reasons the idea is terrible. The most obvious one I haven’t even mentioned:

He’s still alive. His “legacy” could hardly be a known commodity, even now, towards the end of his career. You wanna honor the guy when he retires, throw a parade. Have a big dinner, and give him a car. A bronze statue? When he finally brings the team a championship you might want to consider a statue, maybe. It’s quite a bit early in the story of his life to build him a bronze statue.

Only in a sports town so bereft of real baseball heroes and champions could the idea of a statue of Seligula be given consideration.



…. Franchise

Lincecum signs a two-year deal for $23 million.

First, this deal is a bargain, easily the best contract on the team. Second, it makes me wonder why the team didn’t pursue a four or five year deal in an effort to lock him up through his prime. At the end of this contract, he’ll be 28 years old, and if he performs anywhere as well as he has to this point, the Giants almost certainly won’t be able to afford him.

Doesn’t make sense to me, but most of what goes on in Giants land is outside my understanding.



…. Old news

I was browsing through the Baseball Analyst’s Bill James Baseball Abstracts pages, and came up with a couple of interesting tidbits from James:

1978

“When you acquire any player over 28, you are getting about 40% of a career–and that on the downhill slide. You can do that, perhaps, to fill a hole. But what happens when you try to build a whole team that way? Your replacement-rate goes out of sight. If you’ve got eight players on a downhill slide, two of them are going to slip and fall–either that, or you’re defying the law of averages.”

This is your San Francisco Giants. Run with a game plan that was known to be flawed over 30 years ago.

1983

A lot of the public, I think, has the idea that arbitration hearings are sort of bullshit sessions in which the agent tried to convince the arbitrator that Joaquin Andujar is Steve Carlton’s brother, and the club tries to convince him that he is Juan Berenguer’s niece. It’s not really like that. The first and foremost rule of an arbitration proceeding is that you never, ever, say anything which can be shown to be false.

The second rule of an arbitration case is that you don’t start any arguments that you can’t win. . .Stick to the facts. . .Tell the truth. It’s the only chance you’ve got.

How many of you think the Giants will be able to handle this situation with the delicacy and foresight needed to avoid getting their dicks caught in the zipper?

Additionally, I’d like to point out the flat-out absurdity of all of these articles and op-ed pieces talking about how the Giants are worried about signing Lincecum to along-term deal because of concerns about his long-term health. This is a lie, an absurdity, a ruse, a smoke screen. If the team is spreading crap like this, it is just one more indication of how unprofessional and poorly run it really is. If it’s not, Sabean should come right out and deny it.

It is ridiculous to suggest that it’s Lincecum that the team has to worry about. RIDICULOUS!!

Sabean wasn’t worried about being upside down on any of these old, broken down mediocrities he keeps shoveling money at? Sabean wasn’t worried about the possibility that he might be paying the 36-year old Dave Roberts to watch TV? He wasn’t worried about the two-year deal he gave to 35-year old Bengie Molina in 2007? Wasn’t concerned at all about the possibility that the 40-year old Omar Vizquel might not be able to live up to his contract? Not worried about the 34-year old Aubrey Huff, coming off an injury-plagued 2009 season? Really?

Nothing to see here when Sabean signs an already injured, 32-year old Freddie Sanchez to a contract extension he’s not even up for? No concerns at all about throwing $55 million dollars at He-Who-Runs-Into-Walls? No issue whatsoever at giving a declining Barry Zito the biggest contract in baseball history?

No, the player Sabean is gonna hold the line for is Tim Lincecum. REALLY!?!

This is where you’re gonna draw the line on cover-your-eyes bad contracts?! Tim Lincecum? TIM LINCECUM!?! He’s the guy the team is worried about? The 25-year old, two-time Cy Young Award winning, once in a generation pitcher, the ace of your staff? That’s the guy who’s gonna break the bank? After all these horrible fucking contracts, after all the money Sabean has literally THROWN ON THE GROUND!!!!! It’s Lincecum they have to worry about? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!!!! What a joke. What a bad, stupid joke.

The fact that the sportswriters who cover this team have the gall to parrot this absurdity is bad enough, but even decent bloggers are buying into the line. This would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.

Let me be the one to say what everyone should already know:

IF YOU ARE GOING TO GO BANKRUPT BECAUSE OF A BAD CONTRACT, LINCECUM IS THE GUY TO DO IT WITH

It is the equivalent of going all-in with pocket aces. If you’re gonna lose with aces, so be it.

1984

In Logic and Methods in Baseball Analysis, James states axioms, corollaries, and the known principles of sabermetrics in the following order:

Axiom I: A ballplayer’s purpose in playing ball is to do those things which create wins for his team, while avoiding those things which create losses for his team.

Axiom II: Wins result from runs scored. Losses result from runs allowed.

First Corollary to Axiom II: An offensive player’s job is to create runs for his team.

The Known Principles of Sabermetrics. Item 1: There are two essential elements of an offense: its ability to get people on base and its ability to advance runners.

Axiom III: All offense and all defense occurs within a context of outs.

The Known Principles of Sabermetrics. Item 2: Batting and pitching statistics never represent pure accomplishments, but are heavily colored by all kinds of illusions and extraneous effects. One of the most important of these is park effects.

The Known Principles of Sabermetrics. Item 3: There is a predictable relationship between the number of runs a team scores, the number they allow, and the number of games that they will win.

Ok, so here’s my two cents. Brian Sabean has no knowledge of these concepts. He can’t. Either he’s read Bill James and thinks he knows better, or he’s never read him. Either way, he’s obviously completely out if his mind.

He has been trying to build a team with old, soon to be out of baseball players, which is why, of course, the Giants never have any money for real players, because –as James illustrated 30 years ago– your replacement costs are gonna be sky-high, and you’re gonna be facing those costs every year.

And if you build an offense that consists of players who don’t get on base, and don’t have any power, you sure as hell will not be able to seriously compete, even if you have one of the most dominant pitching staffs of the last twenty years.

It just hurts my head to realize that I read this stuff 30 years ago, and the team I root for operates as if these simple concepts are still waiting to be discovered.



…. Gypped

Did you guys see Bill Simmons’ Tortured Fan Base Mailbag? I submitted an email to Bill, and he ran it, only he failed to even mention my name. Instead, he lumped me in with some other guy.

If you read the SF part, you can read this email:

Arguably a Level 1 loss?

No monicker?

Game 6 is all any Giants fan needs to hear to be reminded of the single worst championship loss in baseball history. No team had ever lost a five-run lead with nine outs to go in a World Series game of any kind, let alone a World Series-clinching game, and the Giants did it in the span of 18 pitches!

Another key component to Level 1: you remember where you were when you saw the game. With 160-plus games in baseball, we’ll all suffer our share of heartbreakers that don’t matter. But the Giants losing Game 6 of the ’02 Series? That’s my “when JFK was shot” moment. I know exactly where I was, who I was with, and could recreate everything that was said and done from the sixth inning forward. The worst part wasn’t the ThunderSticks. The worst part was [the] next year when they started selling rally monkeys at AT&T Park because the wine-and-cheese crowd thought they were cute, and had no idea they were reminders of the Angels. I still can’t cheer 100 percent for Bengie Molina.

Bryan, San Francisco

I wrote the first half of that. This part….

Arguably a Level 1 loss?

No monicker?

Game 6 is all any Giants fan needs to hear to be reminded of the single worst championship loss in baseball history. No team had ever lost a five-run lead with nine outs to go in a World Series game of any kind, let alone a World Series-clinching game, and the Giants did it in the span of 18 pitches!

Let me say that again….. I WROTE THAT!!! He left my name out of the whole piece, and credited some fucking guy named Bryan with MY WORK!!!

I got gypped by my favorite writer. What a buzz kill.



…. Lincecum stories

Courtesy of a Baseball Musings link to link, you can see that the bullshit stream generated by Giants –and propagated by the hacks that cover the team– never stops:

…. We all know that Magowan’s replacement, Bill Neukom, has positioned himself for a major battle over preventing MLB from overturning the Giants’ claim to the South Bay. Last year, the Giants even bought a portion of the Single-A club in town. (And have you noticed the San Jose Giants are even switching uniforms to look more like the parent club next season?) The Giants have been murkily tied to efforts from the San Francisco City Attorney’s office and a local coalition in San Jose to prevent the A’s from relocating, too.

The reasons for the bunker mentality are well known. The Giants attract a significant percentage of their corporate sponsorships, season-ticket and suite sales, ballpark advertising revenue, etc., from companies in Silicon Valley. Their ownership group is a who’s’ who of the tech sector. It’s part of their identity as well as their bottom line. They simply cannot afford to let the A’s cut into their interests in Santa Clara County.

And what’s the only way their territorial rights can be overturned? A three-quarters vote of the 30 major league owners, who’ll basically do whatever Commissioner Bud Selig tells them to do.

How does Lincecum and his arbitration status enter the equation? It’s simple. The No.1 way to tick off baseball’s owners is to establish a new salary threshhold. And Lincecum has a very good chance to clear Ryan Howard’s $10 million bar for a first-year arbitration player.

Yeah, right.

What a crock. We’re supposed to believe that the reason the Giants are jerking Lincecum around is so the other owners won’t vote to end the Giants territorial rights? Andrew Baggardly should be ashamed of himself for swallowing such a complete line of bullshit, and then regurgitating it all over his fucking computer.

It would be embarrassing if it weren’t so predictable, so completely in line with the standard operating practices demonstrated by this team for the last seven years. If I were Lincecum, I wouldn’t sign a long-term deal with this team under any circumstances. Lies and media manipulation are the foundation operating systems of an ownership and management group that lives in a world a fear and scarcity, a world of false promises and laughable “plans,” a world of failure masquerading as progress; a world where accountability is a catch-phrase.

Your San Francisco Giants.



…. Keep it continuous

And so the absurdity continues:

…. Ryan Garko and the Mariners agreed to a $550,000, one-year contract Monday as Seattle tried to address its need for a right-handed hitter.

Terms of the contract obtained by the Associated Press show the 29-year-old first baseman and designated hitter could nearly double his salary, to $1,075,000, if he becomes a regular for Seattle with 600 plate appearances.

Travis Ishikawa 2009: 9 HR 39 RBI .261/.329/.387 .726 OPS 2010 base salary $410,000
Ryan Garko 2009: 13 HR 51 RBI 268/.344/.421 .765 OPS 2010 base salary $550,000
Aubrey Huff 2009: 15 HR 85 RBI .241/.310/.384 .694 OPS 2010 base salary $3,000,000

So, to recap, last year –just before the trade deadline– we traded top-four Giants’ prospect Scott Barnes (doh!) for Ryan Garko, so that he could replace Travis Ishikawa, then we benched Garko and played Ishikawa anyway. That wasn’t ridiculous enough for Sabean. No, he had to follow up that laughable failure by allowing Garko to walk –meaning we traded Barnes (doh!) for nothing, by the way– and then we went out and gave $3 million dollars to Aubrey Huff to replace Garko, who then went out and signed with the Mariners for a half a million dollars.

Yeah, that was well-thought out.



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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
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