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Archive for May, 2010


…. Child’s play

Buster Posey comes up and delivers a three-RBI night, and all the Chronicle writers want to make sure we all know that he is not here to steal Molina’s job, that he’s not here to stay, that he is only spelling some injured guys, no one has anything to worry about…..

It’s simply ridiculous, the way these sportswriters seem to be falling all over themselves to parrot the company line:

…. Buster Posey’s long-anticipated promotion might mean a lot of things but, for now, it does not mean the end of Bengie Molina as the starting catcher.

Molina met with manager Bruce Bochy on Saturday. Though most of the talk involved Molina’s batting stance, Bochy also reassured Molina about his job status.

“Bengie knows he’s going to be the guy catching back there,” Bochy said. “This doesn’t affect Bengie in any way.”

Bochy said Posey “primarily” is here to play first base. Molina, though slumping, will catch most games, including today’s, and Eli Whiteside will continue to catch Jonathan Sanchez.

“How much time (Posey) will get behind the plate, I can’t say,” Bochy said.

Molina said he was fine with Posey’s presence and told Bochy, “I can’t say anything. I don’t feel I’ve done anything this year. I haven’t earned anything. Whatever you want to do, go ahead. I tried to make the point that this is not Bengie Molina’s team. It’s their team. Whatever they’re going to do, do it. I’m not upset.”

Posey has maintained since he was drafted that he loves to catch and said Saturday that he hopes his everyday role at first base is a “short-term thing, but you never know.”

First of all, if he’s the kind of hitter everyone hopes he is, he should be moved to first anyway. Catching just destroys players, and, for most teams, a defensive catcher who hits poorly isn’t a liability. Molina isn’t a poor hitter, he’s just a poor cleanup hitter. Posey’s future should have already been decided, but that would involve the major league team having a clue, which, of course, the Giants do not.

Posey should make the choice himself. Get a first basemen’s mitt, and make the transition. His career will be longer, his offensive production higher, and his overall value as well.

As for the bumbling front office, well, does anyone think Captain Queeg can handle this well? He hasn’t so far…



…. Unsurprising

But still sad:

…. The Giants are negotiating with free-agent left fielder Pat Burrell on a Triple-A contract, I’ve been told, a no-risk deal that could bring the Bay Area product home.

Geoffrey brought this idea up on the 15th, and most everyone here cringed, so of course, the Giants are going to bring him home. More absurdity, another player puts on a Giants uniform minutes before riding off into the sunset.



…. Offensive

The Giants scored 4 runs in one inning to beat Livan Hernandez, and end their 5-game losing streak. After a 24-inning scoreless streak, the team put together a two-out rally, sparked by Todd Wellemeyer’s bat. The rally gave everyone a reprieve from the pressure of a May that was threatening the team’s aspirations of being a playoff club.

However, the win came with some bad news, as Renteria came up lame, and once again, the Giants will be forced to play shorthanded:

…. In the seventh inning, as the Giants tried to add insurance, Renteria sacrificed a pair of runners and felt his right hamstring grab halfway up the line. Two games after he came off the disabled list with a groin injury, the shortstop is headed back to an MRI machine today. He will not play tonight, and Bochy was bummed.



…. Keep it continuous

Another 1-0 loss drops the Giants into third place in the NL West, as Bochy promises a pointless shakeup, Mark DeRosa admits he probably won’t be ready next week, and Freddie Sanchez fails to ignite the offense.

The team has now scored 175 runs in 42 games now (third from the bottom), their average down to 4.16 per game, (a mere .07 runs better than last year). A 9-11 record in May, averaging 3.7 runs per game, puts them well on their way to Diamondback country. With just 33 home runs, fourth from the bottom, 126 walks, (second only to the woeful Pirates), a league-best 28 sacrifices/wasted outs; we are talking about an all-time disgrace.

All predictable, preventable, of course; and, for all intents and purposes, unfixable.

UPDATE: David Pinto brings up Cain’s hard luck:

…. Matt Cain allowed one unearned run against the Oakland Athletics and lost 1-0. This is the sixth time this season Matt allowed two runs or less in a game, and the Giants are 2-4 in those contests.

David doesn’t bring up Jonathan Sanchez’s consecutive 1-0 losses, especially his once in-a-generation, one-hitter loss.



…. Knowledge is power

Bill James is still the best. He has a new article up on his site (It’s a pay site, $3 bucks a month, and you should be going there), it’s not about baseball, per se, it’s sort of about himself, and his relationship to statistics. In fact, it’s the text of a speech he made to a group of statisticians. In the piece, he writes something that should be mailed to Brian Sabean:

…. Baseball teams play 162 games a year. I just realized last week that, sometime in the last 20 years, baseball experts have fallen into the habit of saying that a baseball team has about 50 games a year that you are just going to lose no matter what, 50 games a year that you’re going to win, and it is the other 62 games that determine what kind of season you’re going to have. This is not ancient knowledge; this is a fairly new one. A more inane analysis would be difficult to conceive of. First of all, baseball teams do not play one hundred non-competitive games a year, or anything remotely like that. Baseball teams play about forty non-competitive games in a season, more or less; I would be surprised if any team in the history of major league baseball ever had a hundred games in the season that were just wins or losses, and which the losing team never had a chance to win after the fourth or fifth inning. The outcome of most baseball games could be reversed by changing a very small number of events within the game.

But setting that aside, this relatively new cliché assumes that it is the outcome of the most competitive games that decides whether a team has a great season or a poor season. In reality, the opposite is true. The more competitive a game is, the more likely it is that the game will be won by the weaker team. If the Royals play the Yankees and the score of the game is 12 to 1, it is extremely likely that the Yankees won. If the score is 4 to 3, it’s pretty much a tossup. The reasons why this is true will be intuitively obvious to those of you who work with statistics for a living. It is the non-competitive games—the blowouts—that play the largest role in determining what kind of season a team has. Misinformation about baseball continues to propagate, and will continue to propagate forever more, without regard to the fact that there is now a community of researchers that studies these things.

In reference to the Giants, this Giants team, the pitching-dependent, offensively challenged team we’ve been ranting and raving about for the last two and a half seasons, these paragraphs explain what we’ve been experiencing. It’s like a light in a dark closet.

Of course we’re frustrated, being in nail-biters game after game, week after week. It’s because we can sense that something’s not right. There’s something about a team that wins by being perfect that fails to inspire confidence. Of course it doesn’t. As James explains so clearly, it shouldn’t. Winning teams dominate. Winning teams consistently win big. Winning teams are not built upon winning one-run games. Winning teams don’t win because they always win the close ones. They win because they blow teams out. Close games are far too often decided by one single mistake, on missed play, one error, one walk, just like Monday’s game. Teams dancing along that fine line are simply far too dependent upon luck to win enough of the time to be a real contender. And we can see that, even though the Giants are winning right now, they are not really a contending team.

“The more competitive a game is, the more likely it is that the game will be won by the weaker team.”

Great teams blow you out, and it’s the games in which they don’t that you have a chance against them. The Giants are not a great team. They have great pitching. They are one dimensional. They rely on making your offense look as bad on this day as theirs is regularly. That is no way to win a championship. It simply isn’t. You cannot bet on being able to hold down a great offensive team game after game after game. Eventually, a great offense is gonna get you, and if that great offense has some pitching, well, then you’re in real trouble.

Look at these eight games with the Padres. These two teams are exactly the same. So you get eight games of one-run baseball, each team doing everything it can to prevent the other team from running away with the game, tons of bunts, lots of runners left in scoring position. Eight games of let’s see who blinks first. Each team is playing the same way, so, on the surface, the games seem exciting.

But, in fact, they are anything but. They are frustrating. They are exasperating. They are, to me, anyway. Going back and forth between the Giants/Padres and the Yankees/Red Sox games is illuminating. Those Yankee games are exciting. Those games feature game-winning home runs, (something so rare as to have become pretty much a once a year event in San Francisco) and when a pitcher strikes out a guy with men on base, it’s an actual accomplishment. When you watch the Giants bat with men on, the exact opposite is true, it’s an accomplishment when the Giants get the runner home.

Don’t be fooled. Look closely at what’s happening with this team. They are gonna tease you all season long, but, in the end, it will take a miracle for them to make the playoffs. They simply do not have enough hitting to get it done, no matter how many shutouts they throw.

UPDATE: Really!?! 32 total bases, 6 home runs, and 8 walks allowed? Wow.



…. Futility, continued

Seven games, seven losses. All of them due to the offense, which could hardly look more anemic, more futile, more lost.

Pablo Sandoval is on a 10 for 62 skid. Matt Downs –5 for his last 30– has begun to show his true colors, (minor league Brown). Matt Cain failed to earn a win in a game in which he gave up two runs or less for the 37th time in his young career.

Side note: If you are his agent, how can you not get him out of San Francisco? How can you, in good faith, allow him to re-sign with a team that hits like this one?

Freddie Sanchez insists he needs more confidence-building at-bats against Triple-A bullshit pitching….

DeRosa’s gone on the DL, essentially ending his season.

Game after game, I run my calculator through the Giants runs scored and total games played, and I watch the numbers go lower and lower. After the first eleven games (April 17th), the Giants were scoring 6.18 runs per game. At the end of April, that number had already fallen to 4.59. As of today, the number is 4.29. Last season, the team averaged 4.05 runs per game. Is there any doubt, any doubt whatsoever, that we are looking at an offense that has not improved one single bit?

All of the stats are trending towards the bottom of the league. The team OBP, once aas high as .373, now stands at .331. The OPS (.699 last season) is at .731, almost exactly league average.

For the fifteen games in May, the Giants are scoring 3.68 runs per game, and running out a team-wide line of .235/.309/.367 .676 OPS. In other words, since the start of May, the Giants hitters of this year haven’t even been as good as the Giants hitters of last.

I’ve said it before, and I’m gonna say it again….

This team is wasting a championship pitching staff, thanks to the massive front office failure.



…. Ass coverage

Here’s a question; why are so many of the Giants beat writers making excuses for the Giants? How is explaining to me that all free agent signings come with some risk part of Henry Schulman’s job?

…. The Giants’ position is this: Every signing carries some risk, whether the player had surgery or not, that is weighed against the potential reward.

If you want to look outside this organization, consider the Dodgers. They took a risk when they signed Jason Schmidt to a three-year, $47 million contract knowing he had shoulder issues but also knowing how he could carry a staff if he was right. For that money they got 10 starts and three wins. The A’s signed Ben Sheets for $10 million last winter after he missed a year with elbow surgery. Also, it was widely believed he has back issues. They took a risk. As of May 13, the reward remains uncertain.

The best a team can do is ask all the right questions and do all they can to determine how healthy the player is at the time he is signed. Did the Giants ask all the right questions with DeRosa? It’s hard to know for sure, because I wasn’t in the room.

Thanks, Henry. I was wondering if life’s risks apply to the Giants just like they apply to me.

But, if you really want to be helpful, why don’t you explain why the Giants shouldn’t get any heat from their fans? It’s not just the DeRosa signing. Freddie Sanchez is injured, too. In point of fact, because the team, because Sabean seems to think that the best players in baseball are old, the Giants have been dealing with this kind of wasted resources for a decade now. A decade of old, past their prime free agents and trade acquisitions. A. DECADE.

Who cares how much research the team’s medical staff did. GET YOUNG PLAYERS FOR A FUCKING CHANGE!

Old players get injured. Old players get injured. How can the Giants fail to recognize this? How can you, Henry Schulman, fail to recognize that this has happened again and again and again. How can you think we need you to cover Sabean’s ass again? Shit goes sideways? Really?

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SIGN OLD PLAYERS ALL THE TIME. THEY SPEND TIME ON THE DL.

You want to have some fucking credibility? Go after the owners. Go after the GM. Because they are failing.



…. Broom Hilda

Another sweep at the hands of the best record in the NL Padres. Another one-run loss, another offensive display of offense. Another bunch of bullshit excuses and explanations telling us how this shit just happens, it’s not our fault, everybody is trying real hard:

…. As for DeRosa’s signing, team sources said the Giants did an extraordinary amount of research. They consulted the doctor who performed DeRosa’s surgery and the medical staffs of his two 2009 teams, the Indians and Cardinals. When DeRosa and the Giants came to terms, he flew to San Francisco for a physical that included an examination by team hand specialist Dr. Gordon Brody, and X-rays and an MRI on the wrist.

At the time, the Giants believed the surgery worked.

“Anyone can get hurt in any game,” Groeschner said. “All the guys have a history of things. We’re aware of it. It’s something we research thoroughly. This is something than can happen when a guy plays baseball.”

The team’s position is that all signings carry risks that are weighed against a player’s potential benefit. The Giants understood the risk when they signed DeRosa. Right now, they are losing their bet. But in their view, the game is still on.

Yeah, right. Edgar Renteria, Freddie Sanchez, Edgardo Alfonzo, Moises Alou, Rich Aurilia (version 2.0), Randy Johnson, Ryan Klesko, Ray Durham (version 2.0) Mark DeRosa, I mean, come on. How about Dave Roberts or Mark Sweeney? Two guys that had never been everyday players signed to be everyday players for the Giants. How about Steve Finley? We only signed him about five years after he was washed up. Michael Tucker, anyone? How about signing Jeffrey Hammonds at 33 years old?

Here’s the line that Neifi Perez posted in 2002, .236/.260/.303 .563 OPS. Since Triple-A stats don’t mean anything, I’m guessing that major league stats must not make too much of an impression on Captain Queeg either, because the hitter that posted that line got a two-year deal for $14 million dollars, and a declaration from our estimable GM that Neifi was already penciled in as our starting shortstop and top of the lineup table setter.

The simple fact is that the Giants, that Brian Sabean decided that these guys, these washed up, has beens and never was’s had to be Giants, and he ignored, in fact, he flaunted his ignorance and his stubborn unwillingness to acknowledge what was known in baseball at the time; that old players tend to decline, that old, injured players tend to get injured, and that signing old and injured free agents to fill your entire roster has to be the worst possible way to do so. This is all on him. Brian Sabean built this team, has been building this team for going on fifteen years.

The number of acquisitions, trades and free agent signings that have worked out for the Giants can be counted on your fingers. The number that have been failures, not just so-so, but flat out colossal busts, is staggering. We’re talking millions, millions of dollars thrown on the ground as if there was no way to know what to expect with these players, as if we were still in the 1920′s, when all you had to go on was a game or two when your scout saw a player hit two home runs.

“…. team sources said the Giants did an extraordinary amount of research”

Yeah, well, that’s only part of your job. And, by the way, who’s getting fired for all the terrific “research” the baseball team has done with the last five or ten free agents we’ve signed?

Nobody. In the world of the Giants, it’s always bad luck. It’s always somebody else’s fault. There’s always a team that is chasing the superstar Brian Sabean wants, so he has to overbid, overpay to get them. There’s always a reason. And in the words of a fairly famous mentor of mine, “You either have reasons, or you have success. You can’t have both.”

Every time you read a Sabean quote, or hear him talk on the TV, he’s explaining how these things happen all the time, or he’s telling you how he doesn’t need statistics, or some other bullshit how he just has to be patient, that the hitters will come around. Here’s an idea: Go get some real baseball players, players who are young and good, and we won’t have to wait for them to finally get the rust out of their ancient bones, and we can stop hearing how unfortunate it is that another 35-year old is hurt again.

UPDATE: Just to be clear, I’m not blasting these players. These players are who they are. They are probably good guys. They work hard. They have integrity. It’s not their fault they are being asked to be the second, third and fourth best hitters on a team, instead of the sixth, seventh and eighth best. It’s Brian Sabean’s fault.

Buster Posey has now played essentially one full season in the minors. Here’s what he’s done so far:

158 Games 585 AB 120 Runs 194 H 46 2B 2 3B 24 HR 110 RBI 89 BB 92 SO .332/.425/.544 .968 OPS

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, those numbers are inflated, or better, will be depressed some 15%, maybe even 20%. That guy’s not ready? Really?

Bengie Molina, last season:

132 Games 491 AB 52 Runs 130 AB 25 2B 1 3B 20 HR 80 RBI 13 BB 68 SO .265/.285/.442 .727 OPS

Are you kidding somebody? How can anyone who knows anything about the game of baseball think that Posey couldn’t match that production? That Posey couldn’t have saved the team the $5 million we gave to the out-maker, and used it to land a real hitter?

Here’s the BP boys talking about Posey and Sabean:

…. Giants general manager Brian Sabean insists that Posey has work to do in the minors, but at least he doesn’t pretend any of that work involves his hitting. With last night’s outburst, he’s batting .355/.448/.579 for the Grizzlies. Instead, Sabean insists that Posey’s receiving skills still need work, despite the fact he’s played errorless ball so far, been charged with just one passed ball and nailed half of all stolen base attempts. Just admit you are managing his service time clock, Mr. Sabean, we’ll understand–kind of.

Well, first off, he is pretending that his offense is an issue, absolutely and constantly. And, even if he is only managing his service time clock, that is still pretty much inexcusable, given how poorly Sabean’s efforts to improve the offense went this off-season, highlighted –lowlighted?– by the fact that he brought back Molina to bat cleanup again.

This is a joke, that’s what that is. A joke.



…. Back to earth

Zito had his worst game of the year, pretty much at the worst possible time, in a first-place showdown with the surprising San Diego’s. Struggling to find his rhythm the whole game, Zito was embarrassed by his buffoon of a manager, who tried to take him out during the fifth inning after he had gone to 2-0 on Oscar Salazar, with the first ball a wild pitch. Of course, Righetti had just visited the mound prior to the at-bat, so Zito had to finish the hitter. It was a pretty ridiculous sight, really. Out pops Bochy, practically running to the mound, only to be sent back to the dugout by the second base umpire.

Of course, the Chronicle manages to make Bochy’s gaffe seem like it was planned:

…. Zito said his “timing was off tonight. I didn’t have any command of anything.”

That was particularly evident during Oscar Salazar’s fifth-inning at-bat. Zito air-mailed his first pitch to the screen, allowing Yorvit Torrealba to waltz to second. The next pitch was extremely high and outside.

After that pitch, Bochy headed to the mound to check on Zito, but because pitching coach Dave Righetti had conferred with Zito just before Salazar came to the plate, Bochy could not speak with the left-hander. Bochy had to return to the dugout.

“When he threw those two pitches, I was concerned about him,” Bochy said.

Yeah, right. Everyone in the ballpark saw Bochy signal for a relief pitcher. Then again, why not lie to cover up your embarrassing mistake? The GM gets away with it constantly, and the local sports reporters only seem to insist on the truth when they’re harassing the greatest player in baseball history:

…. “The surgery I had was a failure.”

In October, DeRosa had an operation to repair a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, an injury he sustained soon after joining St. Louis in a trade from Cleveland on July 1.

On Tuesday, DeRosa was examined by Giants doctor Gordon Brody and had an MRI exam. The diagnosis, according to DeRosa: “It’s completely ruptured again.”

The article goes on to mention that the Giants are, laughably, hoping that rest will make it all better. Of course, nowhere in the piece is any mention of the criminally bad contract that Sabean so generously gave to the known to be injured DeRosa. Now the team has two $12 million dollar players who cannot play, and a GM who simply does not know what he’s doing:

…. Hot-hitting prospect Buster Posey remains at Triple-A Fresno because Giants officials are not convinced he is ready to catch in the major leagues yet, GM Brian Sabean said.
The longtime GM also stressed that the decision to promote Posey has nothing to do with service-time concerns, nor will it.

“Let me dispel all that, all right?” Sabean said. “When we think Posey’s ready, just like when we thought (Tim) Lincecum was ready, and this starts from ownership, he’ll be in the big leagues. I’ll speak to the Lincecum thing. If we don’t bring up Lincecum, how do you know he’s on his way to winning the two Cy Youngs or more so helping us win 88 games last year? Now, in other places where you don’t have a deeper or more consistent budget, I can buy the strict clock. But we can’t be on a strict clock. Shoot, we’re trying to get back to winning ways and get to the playoffs, and everybody understands it.”

…. Sabean said the 23-year-old is “still learning how to catch. Some of that is game calling. Some of that is the consistency that he’ll need as, we hope, an offensive catcher.”

Besides, Sabean said he doesn’t put much stock into Triple-A statistics.

“Triple-A baseball isn’t very good,” Sabean said. “I’m going to tell you that right now. Especially from a pitching standpoint. Anybody who can pitch is in the big leagues.”

How many ways is this man ridiculous? Posey needs to be more consistent as a hitter? This, from a man who re-signed a catcher who made 450 outs last year. No pitching in Triple-A? Triple-A stats aren’t worth much? Lincecum won two Cy Young Awards because Sabean waited as long as he did to bring him up?

Whatever. Once again, we have a bottom feeder offense, 142 runs scored, and only the dismal performance of the two worst teams in baseball –the barely better than Triple-A Astros and Pirates– keep the Giants from having the worst offense in the game once again.

So, when you hear Sabean talking about anything at all, remember that it’s all bullshit. He’s got one of the wort hitters in all of baseball at just about every position on the diamond, and we’re supposed to listen to him tell us that a guy throwing up a .343/.436/.525 line isn’t hitting enough. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He doesn’t have the slightest idea how to evaluate hitters. He has been selling Giants fans the same bullshit bill of goods for going on fifteen year now. I wrote this eight years ago:

…. Over the last 30 days the Giants offense is DEAD LAST in the National League, meaning it is dead last in all of baseball. This, while Barry Bonds is posting a .565 obp and a .900 slg. Do you have any idea what that means? That means the Giants are even worse than their stats.

I heard the Brian Sabean show yesterday, and he said that he intends to show patience and trust that his hitters are going to start hitting. You know what Ray, that’s the single stupidest thing I have ever heard Brian say. You’ve got Marvin Benard taking swings in the last of the 8th in a one run game, and you’re telling me that I am supposed to trust that he’s gonna come around? Shawon Dunston has a spot on our bench? Damon Minor? Reggie Sanders? Sanders’ lifetime BA is .263, last year he was about 30% more productive than in ANY YEAR OF HIS LIFE.

…. which is more than you could say about JT Snow. There is nothing masking the fact that he is one of the most unproductive major leaguers drawing a salary. He is an out-maker, simple as that, and he gives nothing back for all of the outs he eats. Don’t talk to me about how many games he saves with his glove, that’s pure hyperbole. Bill James and a whole slew of baseball analysts have done reams of research into run prevention, and JT’s defense is worth maybe five runs a year, let alone five wins.

Eight years later, and the Giants are still comprised of one good hitter and bunch of out-makers. They’re still old. They are still slow. They are still injury-prone. The GM has signed more ancient mariners to more bad contracts, and the team is still just as boring and still barely competitive.



…. Mr. Insecurity

Here’s Brian Sabean, interviewed in some Barry Zito puff piece, showing us his Captain Queeg side once again:

…. “We never asked him to be the savior coming over here, but that was the price of doing business,” Giants General Manager Brian Sabean said. “As much as people think we overpaid, there was another team, in the American League, that offered more.”

That team has never been identified….

Just like how the team knew that Freddie Sanchez would be worthless for the first $3 million dollars of his contract, and they used that knowledge to get a better deal from Uribe. Right.

On and on, Brian Sabean demonstrates his failings, his inability to accept responsibility for his terrible decisions, his unwillingness to learn from his mistakes and change with the times, his inflexibility when evaluating talent. And most importantly, he demonstrates how insecure he really is, how much he reads what people say and write about him and how he runs the Giants. Virtually everything he says is a response to something that is being said about him. And let’s not forget the muzzling of everyone who covers the Giants, from KNBR to Kruk and Kuip, nary a negative word is allowed to permeate the rarified air surrounding the team.

This is your San Francisco Giants General Manager.

UPDATE: Barry Zito continues to climb the charts, running his record to 5-0, pitching into the eighth and allowing but one run. Sergio Romo came in with the bases loaded and Hanley Ramirez at the plate, and gave up ZERO runs! Another series win for the surprising 16-10 Giants, who continue to defy Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy’s efforts to derail the season.



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