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Archive for the 'Barry Zito' Category


…. 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.



…. Rebirth

Barry Zito started a season 4-0 for the first time in his career, after yesterday’s 5-2 win over the Rockies. The win pushed the Giants to 13-9, their best start in four years.

This team has enough pitching to win a championship, right now. This team, right now, needs one big bat. That’s all. One real hitter. RIGHT NOW.

Who is that hitter? I think you all know what player I would love to see the team make a behind-the-scenes, blockbuster, change the landscape of the entire National League play for:

…. I said it before, and I’ll say it again, Prince Fielder is the best young player in baseball. Today, he became the youngest player ever to reach 50 home runs in a season, supplanting Willie Mays, who did it in his age 24 season. Fielder is 23, and looks to be a superstar for a long time. If only the Giants had a player with anything even close to the kind of upside Fielder seems to have.

I wrote that three years ago. Can you imagine Fielder at first and Sandoval at third? That is a dream team at the corners for a decade. Fielder’s situation in Milwaukee appears probematic, mostly due to the outrageous $125 million dollar extension the Phillies gave to Ryan Howard. Even John Shea agrees with me:

…. first basemen Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez will be free agents after the 2011 season and were long shots to re-sign with their teams even before Howard’s stunning deal.

Now that the bar is set far higher, the question is: When will Fielder and Gonzalez be traded? Before the July 31 deadline, with their trade value peaking? The offseason? The following July?

For the Giants, it’s worth monitoring. If it’s midseason, and they’re serious about advancing through the playoffs, and their offense is lagging, and Aubrey Huff isn’t proving to be a difference-maker, they’d be wise to enter the conversation.

Neither Fielder nor Gonzalez makes much in his current contract, relatively speaking. Fielder gets $6.5 million this year and is eligible for arbitration after the season. Gonzalez makes $4.75 million in 2010 with a $5.5 million club option for 2011.

Put either in the middle of the Giants’ lineup, and opponents suddenly would fear more than the pitching.

Madison Bumgardner and a handful of prospects might be enough to pry Fielder away from Milwaukee, right now. Now is when Sabean should be approaching Doug Melvin. Now, before the season moves forward, before Milwaukee knows whether they will contend. Strike while the iron is hot, says the old saw.

The Giants have the best pitching in baseball. Right now. Fortune favors the bold. Be bold, Brian Sabean, Bill Neukom and the rest of the managing partners.

Don’t tell me you’re thinking of buying the Golden State Warriors. What? If you have that kind of extra cash, spend it on your baseball team. Buy the best young hitter available. You got millions of dollars burning a hole in your pocket? Spend it on bringing a championship to San Francisco for the first time ever.

You put Fielder at first, Sandoval at third, and Posey behind the plate, and the roster of wanna be’s, never-wases and has-beens that Sabean is so fond of are suddenly palatable. Three dynamic, young stud hitters surrounded by some relatively inexpensive, league average hitters, and this team can win a title. This team can win multiple titles with a big three like that.

Be bold, Brian.

UPDATE: 14-9. Seriously. Make a move, Sabean. You cannot allow another season to roll by without taking advantage f this pitching staff.



…. You get what you pay for

10 runs in their last six games ain’t gonna cut it, even when your pitchers allow only 12. That’s where the Giants live, a land in which every run is twice as valuable as it should be, a land where a three run lead is as rare as a white rhino.

In the NL, over the last seven days, there are 5 teams that posted an ERA under 3.00 ERA. Every one of those teams had a winning record except for the Giants, who went 1-5 while posting a staggering 2.08 ERA. That’s hard to do, but, then again, so is losing a game in which you allow only one hit.

Sabean should be fired today. Now. He went out and spent money, again, he went out and built this team of bench players, has-beens and never was players. Millions upon millions of dollars.

As I said six months ago, the Giants could have re-signed Uribe, brought up Posey, and landed Matt Holliday for the same money –without trading a top prospect, I might add– they threw on the ground to bring Aubrey Huff, Mark DeRosa, and Freddie Sanchez to the Bay Area. Anyone think this lineup is better than that one might have been?

Our entire pitching staff has been a Cy Young candidate so far this season, and we’re two games over .500. You know who has allowed the fewest runs in all of baseball? The Giants. They’ve allowed 53 runs. They have the fourth best record in the NL, and the eighth best record in baseball. The Tampa Bay Rays have allowed the fewest runs in the AL, 63. And they are 14-5, best in the land.

Gee, I wonder why?



…. Tough loss

Tough, tough, loss. Inexplicably poor pitch on the 1-2 offering to Ramirez, who was sitting on a three-peat of that slider. Even if the slider is a good choice, Romo caught way too much of the plate, and, obviously Manny didn’t miss it.



…. All Star hitter

As in, a hitter with a .300 batting average is usually going to be considered for the All Star team. Barry Zito won his 30th game as a Giant last night…. in his 100th start. A .300 batting average for a pitcher is nowhere near an All Star. Consider Lincecum, who is an All Star. He’s won 42 games in his 92 starts, which would translate to a .456 batting average using this obscenely simple metric.

Chris Carpenter would be a better comp for Zito. Carpenter has started 262 games in his career, and won 118 of them. That translates into a .450 batting average, again, a powerful winning percentage. Or, you could look at what Zito did as an Athletic. 222 starts, 102 wins, a .450 batting average. Which means, obvioulsy, that Zito, as a Giant, has been unremarkable at best, and a tremendous disappointment at his worst.

That said, he’s now 2-0 for the first time in his Giants career, and he has pitched well this season out the gate; the two wins aren’t especially fluky. The Giants continue their torrid offense, now Sandoval and Molina are raking, although Renteria has come crashing back to earth (0 for his last 10). Huff reached base all five time last night, (that’s eight straight plate appearances reaching base), and the relief pitching last night was stellar. Romo was especially sharp, his two strikeouts last night were simply filthy.

Speaking of Lincecum, Sunday night was the 20th time he’s struck out at least 10. Henry Schulman looked up who’s struck out that many batters in their first 100 starts, and found a pretty damn impressive list:

1. Dwight Gooden (31)
2. Herb Score (25)
3. Kerry Wood (23)
T4. Mark Prior (21)
T4. Hideo Nomo (21)
T6. Tim Lincecum (20) — (in 92 games, not 100)
T6. Bob Feller (20)
T8. Roger Clemens (19)
T11. Randy Johnson (16)
T14. Nolan Ryan (14)

He has a realistic shot to get into the top three, but no chance to catch Dwight Gooden.

I was living in Manhattan when Gooden exploded onto the baseball scene as a 19-year old fireballer. His 1985 season ranks as one of the top five pitching performances in the modern era, and he was 20 years old. It ranks as one of the greatest season a 20 year old has ever put together, if not the greatest. As great as Lincecum has been, (and he has ben spectacular) I can safely say Gooden was better, (before he became a coke fiend, obviously).



…. Keep it continuous

The Giants are sitting pretty at 5-1. Tim Lincecum is 2-0, with a league-leading 17 strikeouts. Kung-Fu Panda smoked the ball yesterday. Renteria is still batting .500. Juan Uribe has 4 walks. The team has come back to win a game twice already this year.

All in all, a lot is coming up roses in San Francisco right now.

The question is; how much of this hot start is real, and how much of it is an illusion?

The Giants have scored 31 runs in 6 games, a nice 5 runs per game clip. They’ve posted a .361 OBP (3rd best in the NL), which is substantially better than last season. They’ve got a team-wide .779 OPS, again, a marked improvement over last season. But, and it’s a big but, we’re talking about a very small sample. 6 games is nothing. Edgar Renteria ain’t gonna hit .500 this year. They still have only shown a little power (5 home runs, just 15 total extra bases, only three teams have fewer), but they have 21 walks in 6 games (Newcomers Huff and DeRosa have a combined 8). When was the last time you saw this team earning more than 3 free passes per game?

I’m not ever gonna talk about the pitching, which has been as good as advertised, maybe even better (Is Barry Zito gonna pitch effectively for a change?).

So far so good. Let’s see if they can play this well for a month before we start talking about a new day by the Bay.



…. 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.



…. We can only wish

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

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

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

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

Still, it’s nice to dream….



…. Sabean

I was backtalking about Sabean, but I think I want everyone to read this idea…..

Brain Sabean has a blind spot, and we’ve been banging around for years now trying to understand what the hell it is, what the hell he’s thinking. I think I might have stumbled on to an explanation that makes some sense.

It’s like he looks at something a player has done, even if it’s only once, and he believes that that is what the player can do, or actually is. Neifi Perez had a .350 batting average once (in Colorado, of course), and he won a Gold Glove, and so, to Sabean, he is a .350 hitter with a great glove; it doesn’t matter that he hasn’t done any of those things in four or five years, or that he did it in an runs created context that outrageously inflated his numbers, or that he simply was never that good. To Sabean, once he sees a player a certain way, he always sees that player in that way.

Dave Roberts made one key play in his entire baseball life, and Sabean decided that Dave Roberts makes key plays.

Sabean is the absurd conclusion, the perfect example of the old adage that a player can get five years in the game off of one good season, or even one great month, or just one singular accomplishment, because people will always try and see if he can do it again. To Sabean, the player is that accomplishment, that season. Think about it, I mean, you could do this with every guy on the team, and it works.

Freddie Sanchez is a batting champion.

Randy Winn is the guy who had 50 hits that September, so let’s give him $50 million dollars, and more to the point, let’s play him every day in 2009, even though he has nothing left as a hitter at all. Randy Winn is 50 hits in a month, and to Sabean, he always will be.

Aaron Rowand is on Sportscenter every night, he must be great, so let’s give him $50 million dollars. Aaron Rowand is a human highlight reel, a “gamer,” and no matter how little evidence there is to support that, Brian Sabean will never see him as anything else, ever.

Bengie Molina hit a home run batting cleanup one day, so he is a cleanup hitter.

Juan Uribe is a backup infielder, so fuck him, he’s expendable.

Edgar Renteria is a World Series winning shortstop.

Barry Zito is a Cy Young Award winner.

You can go back in time, and it still works.

Sabean didn’t need to put Edgaro Alfonzo through a physical, because Alfonzo was a 25 home run hitting, Gold Glove winning second baseman.

He didn’t care that Moises Alou was 39 years old, because Alou was a good hitter.

He saw Livan Hernandez as an Ace, because he saw him strike out 13 guys in an NL playoff game once, and no matter how hard Livan tried to prove that he was anything but an inning-eater, Sabean never saw him any differently.

I could go on and on. On. And. On.

It also explains, perfectly, why he has so much resistance to playing rookies and young players. They haven’t done anything yet. Until he can see something that they have done; they aren’t players, they aren’t anything to him. So, on the Giants, rookies have about two weeks to prove themselves, unless somebody gets hurt, of course. And even then, after playing well for months, (like, say, Fred Lewis) a player on the Giants can still find that Sabean is ignoring whatever success they’ve had, because he sees them as they were, not as they are.

That’s also why he can’t forecast, because he sees things as if they were set in stone. There’s no room in his tiny brain for things like upside, or decline, or aging, or injuries. Players are what they are, and statistics are for the other guys. So he has a 22-year old shortstop who hit .240, which, for people who study baseball, is nothing to sneeze at. A 22-year old rookie who has any success at all at the major league level is a valuable commodity; but not to Brian Sabean. All he sees is a .240 hitter. He simply cannot see upside, or progress, or anything like it. He only sees that first thing. He is a first impression kind of guy, but taken to it’s absurd conclusion. He’s a first impression guy to a degree that would be laughable, if it wasn’t destroying the team.

Buster Posey is a rookie, he can’t possibly be expected to do what a “gamer” like Bengie Molina does, because Brian Sabean hasn’t seen him do it. And so he goes on TV telling everyone how worthless Posey is.

And, of course, once he decides a player isn’t a “gamer” there is nothing they (or anyone, for that matter) can do to change his mind. It’s why he had to trade for Double PLay AJ, even though he had Torrealba. He had decided that Torrealba couldn’t hit, or wasn’t “veteran” enough, or couldn’t call a game, or whatever bullshit he was telling himself, and there was no argument, nothing that could be done to alter that assessment. He had to have Mike Matheny, because he heard someone say that Matheny’s defense saved the team 100 runs a season, and he thinks saving a hundred runs a year is a real ability, and that only he sees the value in having a guy that can do that.

He saw JT Snow save a couple of runs in a game once, and he said to himself, “Wow, over the course of 162 games, that must translate into hundreds of runs being saved.” So JT Snow’s black hole offense was allowed to kill the team for 8 fucking years, and Sabean didn’t even notice. All he saw was a human vacuum cleaner at first base.

Listen, we all do this, in some way or another. It’s a way to simplify the complex. Think about a player, and immediately, one thing comes to mind. Cal Ripken? Games played streak. Hank Aaron? Home runs. There is nothing wrong with it. It’s when you are trying to evaluate players according to your team’s needs and the players values that parsing details becomes important. Sure Ripken plays every day, but he’s 35 years old. How many days is he really gonna be worth something at that age? How many 0 for 4′s can you handle?

Sure Edgar Renteria was on a champion, and that counts for something; but is he still playing at a championship level today? You need to be flexible in your view of a player to even ask that question. Sabean is not. He thinks he just signed a championship-level shortstop, even though Renteria’s championship was over ten years ago.

It’s OK to form a picture when you first consider a player, but a GM has to fill in the blanks, add some depth and some color to the image, step back and get a more clear view. He can’t just decide that Freddie Sanchez is great, and then keep trying to acquire him for five fucking years; with no concern for any parts of his game that may have changed since the first time you decided you liked him. That’s what fans do. For that matter, that’s what kids do. A general manager has to go way beyond that.

This is Brian Sabean’s blind spot, in a nutshell; and he’s given no indication that he will ever change. And maybe that’s why he sees people this way. Maybe he sees people as set in stone, because he is.



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