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…. 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.


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