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Archive for the 'Barry Bonds' Category


…. Voice of reason

The NY Daily News’ Bill Madden is in the minority when it comes to common sense:

….the H

all of Fame’s Great Dilemma: It continues to bill itself as a museum, and the custodian of the game’s history, and records. But down the road, how does the Hall justify that if it excludes the holders of the most significant of those records?

…. with 15 MVP and Cy Young Awards between them, Clemens, ninth all-time in wins and third in strikeouts, and Bonds, the all-time home run leader, are the two most decorated players in the history of the Baseball Writers’ awards voting — and yet those same writers, many of whom are of the opinion they have an obligation to abide by the “integrity and sportsmanship” clause, feel compelled to say “No” when it comes to a plaque in Cooperstown.

…. “The problem you have now is that the Hall of Fame is supposed to tell the history of the game, good and bad,” said a baseball official, “and unfortunately there is this inconsistency between the records and the people elected to the Hall. If you’re going to keep out the suspected steroids players, don’t you then also have to put an asterisk or something on their records? You can’t have it both ways. Obviously, the commissioner has no intention of putting an asterisk on the records, and so, if they’re going to stand, Bonds and Clemens should be in the Hall of Fame. And, frankly, so, too, should Rose.”

Um, yeah. I’ve been saying that for going on a decade. Better late than never.

Meanwhile, Mike Lupica, (savior of children, baseball and integrity, though maybe not in that order) still wants us to know he’s got it right about Bonds and Clemens:

…. You break no laws, by the way, if you don’t care whether Clemens and Bonds and Sosa were shooting up in the dugout.

You don’t have to care.

But if you do, ask yourself a question:

Do you believe Clemens was clean over the second half of his career?

Once again, we see how it is with guys with a computer, a newspaper and am axe to grind. “Apologize.” Done. “Not enough.” “Gotcha, now go on trial.” Beat it. “Not enough.”

On and on. Just remember that Clemens was better than Lupica’s boyhood idols, Bonds was better than Lupica’s boyhood heroes, and that’s why he won’t let up. Guys like Palmeiro, guys like Ramirez, those guys he’s already forgotten about. Jason Grimsley? The only time Jason Grimsley will be in a Lupica article is if he shoots somebody. He didn’t beat an immortal.

UPDATE: In a related article written by Murray Chass, I came across this Buster Olney quote:

“The institution of baseball condoned the use of performance-enhancing drugs for almost two decades with inaction. To hold it against a handful of individuals now is, to me, retroactive morality.”

Again, not to belabor the point, but I have been saying that for going on a decade. At the risk of repeating myself, I’ll also mention that Pete Rose is in the same boat with these moving target assholes.. The sportswriters who now champion his permanent exclusion from baseball absolutely knew he was betting on sports for years; and at least a couple of them suspected he was betting on baseball. They said, wrote and did nothing, until it was politically expedient to act shocked and horrified.

On and on…. They demanded that Rose admit what he did, come clean, and apologize. The minute he did, they jumped down his throat insisting that he didn’t apologize the right way. Jason Giambi went through the exact same thing. So did A-Rod. Only Andy Pettitte appeared to handle his apology the right way. Of course, the writers already didn’t believe he was cheating anyway. He was an acknowledged “good guy,” which meant that he was a good interview for the sycophants.



…. 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.



…. More embarrassment

It isn’t bad enough that the Giants organization is run by people who still think it’s 1940. But when I read this kind of horseshit, I can’t help but think that Schulman is essentially parroting the company line in an effort to maintain access to the team. In other words, he’s being blackmailed. Because, if he’s not being blackmailed, he’s not competent to cover this team, or any team for that matter.

…. This is going to be an anti-Sabermetrics screed, specifically the notion that Lewis needs to be the Giants’ everyday left fielder because his .348 on-base percentage last year was 90 points higher than his .258 batting average. In other words, Lewis can take a walk.

I get e-mails like this all the time. I see this sort of comment on Internet boards. I’ve ignored them, hoping they will go away.

Um, we’re not going away, Henry. In fact, it’s people who think like you do who are going away. Sabermetrics are currently sweeping through baseball, basketball, and, in fact all sports. Thoughtful analysis, incisive research, and careful consideration of the many so-called “truisms” that lazy sportswriters, baseball men, and old-timers –like you and Brian Sabean– spout like veritable pearls of wisdom, are being systematically torn apart by men who sit around and analyze thousands upon thousands of fact-based results to discover whether, in fact, for instance, a strikeout is any worse or any better than any other kind of out.

It is sabermetrics and the men who use sabermetric principles to advance their understanding of this great game of baseball that are the foundation of baseball analysis for most, if not all of the top organizations in the game, and it is teams like the Giants, mired in the past, who are the bottom dwellers that these top organizations feast upon. Quite frankly, your comments are laughable.

Just last season, for example, the list of the top scoring teams and the list of the top teams in getting on base were mirrored each other remarkably well. In the AL, the top four in both categories were the Red Sox, Yankees, Twins and Angels. I guess it was just a coincidence that these were the four playoff teams. In the NL, only two of the playoff teams made the top four in both lists, but the other two playoff teams just missed in OBP (.334 and .332, with .340 being the fourth best total in the league), while three of the top four runs scoring teams made the playoffs. Go back through the years, and you will see a very strong correlation between OBP and scoring runs, and, incidentally, making it to the post-season.

And to think, for fifteen years, the Giants watched the greatest player of all time, the player most perfectly representative of the very best possible application of every single axiom that sabermetricians have discovered these last several decades, and after watching Bonds; these men still think the way they do. Words fail me in an effort to capture this absurdity on paper.

But, anyway, Henry, keep up the good work.



…. 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.



…. 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.



…. 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.



…. 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



…. Bondsian

Alex Rodriguez has sportswriters and talk show hosts all atwitter as they struggle to come up with adequate comparisons to his performance thus far this postseason. Of course, Giants fans know exactly who he is reminding everyone of, while theBud the Selig-imposed gag order on writing,m saying or thinking positive things about Barry Bonds is still in effect.

Bonds 2002 17 G 45 AB 18 R 16 H 2 2B 1 3B 8 HR 16 RBI 27 BB 6 SO .356/.581/.978 1.559 OPS
A Rod 2009 07 G 27 AB 9 R 11 H 1 2B 0 3B 5 HR 11 RBI 4 BB 4 SO .407/.469/1.000 1.469 OPS

Turns out, the comparisons are actually pretty much right on. A Rod is having a Bondsian postseason. He’s way off in the walks, but teams pretty much walked Bonds every chance they got that year, so he’s never gonna get there. But, he’s got the power, the on base percentage is right there, and he’s actually got a better batting average so far. He’s gotta do it for another seven or ten games, but. still in all, he looks great side by side with the greatest postseason performance in baseball history, which is saying something.

UPDATE: David Pinto also notices the lack of walks:

…. They pitch to him because the Yankees lineup behind him is pretty potent. This isn’t the Giants, with Bonds and a bunch of nobodies. Teams need to make an effort to get an out with A-Rod at the plate, otherwise they’re just playing to the Yankees OBP strength.

I’ve always believed that Bonds was walked as often as he was because he was so universally hated, but that’s probably the Giants fan in me being so pissed that they could get away with walking him so constantly.

Teams started walking him for real in 2001, after he started the year with 11 home runs in 75 April at bats (he ended the season with 177 free passes). But those ’01-’02 Giants were the best Giants teams of the last twenty years. Besides Jeff Kent, who was a truly great hitter, the Giants during that time had a still terrific Rich Aurilia, Benito Santiago was pretty good, David Bell had a terrific year in ’02, Reggie Sanders had 23 home runs in ’02. In ’03, the team started being weaker, Grissom and Jose Cruz Jr. each had 20, but Bonds ended up with 148 walks in 130 games played. In ’04, things got out of hand. Grissom and Feliz had 22 home runs, but they were useless as the second and third best hitters on the team. Bonds walked 232 times that season, 68 of them intentional, and probably another 50 or 60 as semi-intentional, and virtually no team paid a significant price for avoiding him.

So really, only once in that time did Bonds have someone even close to the hitter Texeira is, in 2002, when Kent hit 37 home runs. I remember it feeling different at the time, but now that I’m looking back, Pinto’s right.



…. Let’s talk about accountability

Andrew Baggardly interviewed Carney Lansford after his firing. Let’s talk about what Lansford had to say:

…. Carney Lansford is one of the most honest, most passionate people in uniform I’ve covered over the past 14 years. So I knew if he returned my call yesterday following the news he wouldn’t return as the Giants’ hitting coach, he’d offer a richly candid assessment of the decision, the job he tried to do and the talent level with which he worked. More than anything, I knew he’d speak from the heart. Well, he didn’t return my call last night, but there was a very good reason. He was burying his father-in-law.

“I’d gotten the call from Boch two hours before the service,” Lansford said. “Heck of a day.”

Let’s start right here. You wanna talk about class, or the lack thereof? The Giants called him to tell him he was fired on the day he was burying his father-in-law. Are you kidding somebody? Do you have any idea how little class, compassion and integrity that demonstrates? There’s a statement about your SF Giants. What a classless, insensitive thing to do. The same way they treat everyone. Remember that Bonds guy? You know, the player who carried the team for fifteen years? Pretty much treated him the same way. Thanks for the memories, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

The tracked down Lansford so they could fire him the same day he was going to be at a family funeral. That is, quite frankly, disgraceful.

…. The reason we didn’t win is we weren’t good enough offensively. You certainly can’t blame the pitching. I wish I had more offense to work with, but I had what I had. I don’t know what I would’ve done differently. I did not work out.

…. Had I had an offense like the Dodgers or Angels or Red Sox or Rockies or Yankees, and had we underachieved, I’d really take it hard. But I think everybody knew, and we all expected, that we’d be an offensively challenged team. That said, we were able to stay in the wild card hunt until the final week of the season. I’m really proud of that. We kept the fans interested and excited for six months. I believe in my own mind that the team overachieved, and I believe that’s due to the coaching staff and Boch motivating these guys. I really think that’s true.”

Well, Brian Sabean didn’t know that the Giants were offensively challenged, because he didn’t do a single thing about it prior to the season starting. Bill Neukon certainly didn’t think the team was offensively challenged, because he sat there and drank his wine, and ate his cheese, and put no pressure on the team’s management to upgrade the offense at all. So, it appears that Lansford was the only person in the Giants organization who knew that a lineup that was gonna get 600 plate appearances from Winn, Rowand, Ishikawa, Molina, Renteria and the rest of these bums was gonna be bad.

…. “My only comment on the situational hitting is the first thing I was told when I took the job is it was atrocious. Did we work on that? More than you’ll ever know. They just didn’t get it done. We had meetings, we talked about the thought process, we talked about what pitch to look for. I don’t know if anyone had to move more runners than I did, as much as I had to move Rickey (Henderson) all those years. But going out early and doing it against batting practice? Anybody can do that. It comes down to games, when guys are throwing 95 mph fastballs and curveballs when you don’t know they’re coming. You can emphasize the heck out of it, but at some point you just have to find a way to get it done.

“At some point, guys have to take responsibility for not doing that. That’s one thing I stressed to the guys – Step up and be responsible for yourself. Guys at the big league level, by the time they get there, should know how to do that stuff – move runners, get a guy home from third with less than two outs. If guys are learning that at the big league level, it’s too late. A major league player should not be as poor at it as we were in my two years. Do I take it personally? Of course I do. I know it cost us games. I’m a human being. I’m not a machine. But I’ll sleep good at night knowing I took my best shot.”

We’re back to the organization. Where is the accountability? Brian Sabean is the boss of this team. He runs the whole thing. He hires, directs, and organizes who, how and what. And the Giants are as bad at developing hitters as any team in baseball. Brian Sabean and the rest of the people in his system, the men whose job it is to draft, coach, and prepare these players to be major leaguers, absolutely have to answer for this system-wide failure. The hitters who come out of the Giants minor league system are, as a group, as undisciplined and poorly coached as any in baseball. Name the last player to come out of the Giants system that had command of the strike zone? The last player who was an excellent defender? The last player who came out of the Giants system, and was considered a heads up player, one who played the game right?

No one. Pablo Sandoval is the best everyday player to come out of the Giants minor league system since Will Clark, over twenty years ago. As good as Sandoval is, he still only managed 39 unintentional walks. The draft is a crap shoot? Yeah, well, of course it is, especially when you have no system in place to teach the players you do pick.

Brian Sabean had Barry Bonds for fifteen years, fifteen years of the best player in baseball, and managed to make it to the World Series one time. Now, without Bonds to cover his mistakes, the Giants haven’t had a player score 100 runs in a season in six years, since Bonds did it in 2004. In that span, 140 major league baseball players have scored 100 runs or more, and not one Giant has. In fact, no Giants player has even scored 90 runs during that stretch. In 2005, Pedro Feliz led the team with 69 runs scored. In 2006, Vizquel scored 88. In 2007 Bonds led the team with 75 runs scored. despite playing in only 126 games. In 2008, Winn scored 84. And this season, Sandoval led the team with 79 runs scored. You have to go all the way back to 2002 to find a Giants player other than Bonds who scored 100 runs, when Jeff Kent, another player who didn’t come up through the Giants system, scored 102. That’s the last 9 seasons, 9 seasons in a row in which no player drafted by and developed by the San Francisco Giants has scored 100 runs.

That is simply awful. And it isn’t Carney Lansford’s fault. It’s isn’t the hitters fault, either. It is a failure of philosophy. It is a failure of approach. It is a failure of an entire organization. And it is, more than anyone else, Brian Sabean’s failure. He has failed. His beliefs, his ideas on what it takes to be effective at the plate, on what it takes to be an effective major league baseball player, are wrong. As long as he’s running this team, this team will not win anything.

And it isn’t gonna change when they bring in a new batting coach.



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