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Archive for the 'Matt Cain' Category


…. Perfection

Dan Lependorf, over the Hardball Times, puts together a graph detailing how impressive Matt Cain’s Perfecto really was:

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Professional Piano Chords For Everyday Pianists

blockquote>…. If a pitcher strikes out 14 batters in a single game, it’ll be the lead story on every sports news program of the night. After all, it’s only happened a few hundred times in baseball history. If a pitcher throws a perfect game, it’s one of those landmark events that’ll be sold on DVD in the MLB.com store. And people will buy it, because hey, it’s a perfect game. Only 22 of those.

But both of them at the same time? Congratulations, Matt Cain. You just had one of the best nights from any pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball.

But then Bill James –who Lependorf cites in his article– writes (subscription required) that Cain’s game, while very impressive, isn’t even close to being the best pitched game of all-time:

…. The Game Score for Joe Oeschger, when he pitched 26 innings one afternoon, was 153, a feat beyond the understanding of modern fans. But in the last 60 years, Dean Chance against the Yankees on June 6, 1964, had the highest Game Score on record—116. 14 innings, 3 hits, 12 strikeouts, no runs.

James then goes on to chart the best games, seasons and careers using his Game Score method. It’s a great read, and well worth the $3 bucks a month you have to pay for access to Bill James Online.



…. Nice touch

Tom Verducci chose the 2010 San Francisco Giants as his Sportsmen of the Year:

…. In three homes over 52 seasons did San Francisco follow this serial in wait for a championship. The Giants lacked the historical and literary embellishments of Brooklyn, Boston and Chicago, and so their suffering went underplayed, though much suffering did they know. Five times in those years they played a Game 6 or Game 7 with a chance to win the series, and lost every one of those games, getting shut out in three of those five potential clinchers.

The agony began with a 1-0 loss to the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1962 World Series, which ended when Willie McCovey lined out to second base with the tying and winning runs in scoring position. In the 1987 NLCS, up three games to two, they were shut out in back-to-back losses to St. Louis. And in the 2002 World Series, up 5-0 on the Angels with one out and nobody on in the seventh, they managed the biggest collapse in a potential clincher in series history, followed by a 4-1 whimper of an elimination in Game 7.

This is all you need to know about the cruelty of Giants culture: Charlie Brown is a Giants fan. Two months after McCovey’s lineout, Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz, from Santa Rosa, drew a strip in which Charlie and Linus sit brooding silently for three panels, only to have Charlie wail in the fourth, “Why couldn’t McCovey have hit the ball just three feet higher?”

…. Not only did the Giants give their fans a winner, they also gave them an unforgettable one, one with a Playbill’s worth of characters who exuded joy and thankfulness about what was happening. They are now characters, and not unlike the misfits and urchins Dickens himself gave us, who are established eternally.

Wilson and that frightfully awful beard. Aubrey Huff and the red thong. Lincecum and the hair. Cody Ross, the greatest in-season claim in the history of waivers. The prenaturally cool Buster Posey. The unflappable Matt Cain. The very roundness of Pablo Sandoval and Juan Uribe. The redemption of prodigal Bay Area son Pat Burrell. Watching these Giants, you half expected Jean Valjean to pop up in the on-deck circle at any moment.

Well done, Tom.



…. 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.



…. Bring on the Savior

Tim Lincecum takes his final turn in April, trying to both sustain the Giants recent run of success, and cement his status as the best pitcher in the NL. Multiple pitchers are looking super so far this season, including Ubaldo Jimenez, Roy Halladay, Livan Hernandez(!), Mike Pelfrey, and of course, Lincecum.

Jimenez won his fifth last night, and combined with his earlier no-hitter, hasn’t allowed a run in 22.3 innings. Pelfrey hasn’t allowed a run in 24 straight innings. Due to his loss to the Giants, Halladay is out of the running, and so is Livan, mostly due to his low strikeout totals. No, the battle for pitcher of the month is between these two and Timmy, so a strong showing tonight could/should be the difference. As of (Thursday) morning, here’s a quick comp:

Jimenez 34 IP 22 H 3 ER 31 SO 14 BB 0.79 ERA 1.05 WHIP
Pelfrey 26 IP 18 H 2 ER 19 SO 13 BB 0.69 ERA 1.19 WHIP
Timmy 35 IP 22 H 5 ER 43 SO 7 BB 1.27 ERA 0.82 WHIP

I think 7 innings, 8 strikeouts, and no earned runs will lock it up for the Savior.

As for the Giants, lots of hitting the last two games makes everyone happy, but there’s no getting around the fact that this level of inconsistency is here to stay. We still need power and walks. Still.

UPDATE: 8.3 innings, 2 earned runs, 11 strikeouts, no decision. I updated the above comparison. We’ll see.

UPDATE, Part II: I think Bochy should’ve started the ninth with Wilson, should’ve pinch-hit for Lincecum in the 8th, and avoided, not only the loss, but all of this bullshit.

“We felt like (Lincecum) was close (to being tired), and, once he walked (Shane) Victorino on four pitches, I went to one of the best closers in the game,” Bochy said.

Yeah, well, if you thought he was tired, then you should’ve told him to stay in the dugout for the ninth. Either that, or let him finish the game. Why bother having him go out there at all, if you’re not gonna let him finish the game. Oh, he walked a guy? Please. That kind of indecisive bullshit is infuriating. And it’s just one more example of how poorly this team is run.

I’d like to point out that the Giants have the best runs scored differential in the NL (+33 runs), and the second best in baseball. Accordingly, they should be more like 15-6, instead of 12-9. Not a huge difference, but something to keep an eye on. The reason for the difference is pretty obvious. The 1-0 loss when Sanchez gave up the one hit, last night’s blown 3-run lead, and Manny’s home run game. It’s also worth mentioning that that makes three excruciating losses in the first month of the season.



…. 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?



…. 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.



…. The Skinny

It appears that Pablo Sandoval has dedicated himself to you:

…. For the first time in his life, Sandoval is lifting weights. He’s eating vegetables. He is meeting every Wednesday while he’s in Scottsdale with a nutrition professor from Arizona State University, who is teaching him about healthy food choices and portion control. He and his brother, who Sandoval brought with him for motivation and support, are eating catered meals – delivered to the Giants complex every morning in a cooler — of low-cal entrees like broiled chicken or salmon, and lots of salads, veggies and fruits.

There is no going out to restaurants or bars. The strongest beverage in Sandoval’s diet right now is green tea. Mostly he drinks water – 12 to 15 bottles a day. In the evening, after eating their prepared meals, the Sandoval brothers take a walk on a bike path near their rented apartment or play basketball to keep their metabolism up.

With the five pounds he lost during the past week, Sandoval has lost 10 pounds so far….

Just about the best news coming out of Giants camp since…. well, since I don’t know when. Gets me dreaming….

Here’s my Christmas wish list:

Sign Holliday (how about 6 years, $100 million?), give the keys to Buster Posey (bye bye, Rally Killer), Sandoval in monster shape at the start of the season, re-sign Brad Penny to a two-year, $12 million dollar deal, and everybody else just does what they did last season. That’s a 90-plus win team, right there, even with a hundred-year old double play combo, and nothing out of first base. By the way, if Uribe sticks around, he could screw this up until Renteria gets injured; because Sandoval needs to be left alone at third. Stop fucking with the superstar, the best player on the team. Leave him at third, period, and move the shit-heads around to accommodate the lack of performance, health, or whatever.

My lineup would be Rowand leading off, Sanchez second, Sandoval third, Holliday fourth, and whoever in whatever order Bochy can imagine the rest of the way. Even if Sanchez’ OBP is that low, even if he hits an empty .305, between him and Rowand, there oughta be at least one guy on base for Sandoval every other first inning, and that’s all you can really ask for from the top two guys anyway.

I mean, we’re not gonna get a whole new team.

So the best, the absolute best we could hope for is that the Yankees decide to keep Matsui and Damon, leaving them out of the Holliday sweepstakes. Sabean reimagines himself as competent (yeah, right), and swoops in and lands Holliday for, well, frankly, I could care less. Sign him, make a mistake here if you have to, because we are on the cusp of greatness with two, possibly three young pitchers, and we need to start seeing these guys in the posteason –for that matter, they need to start seeing themselves in the postseason– or they’re gonna think twice about sticking around to watch the playoffs on TV every year.

UPDATE: A quick look at Holliday shows the following three year road split: .303/.385/.475 .860 OPS 845 AB 54 2B 29HR 109 BB 167 SO. His Coors numbers are obscenely inflated, in only about 50 more at-bats, he has 25 more doubles, 25 more home runs, 75 more RBI, and the jump in his rate stats is outrageous: 346/.419/.630 1.049 OPS. That’s not even the same player, really.

So, OK, he’s nowhere near Texeira. He is, however, better than anyone the Giants have now, and, outside of Jason Bay, who is over 30, he’s better than any other free agent hitter available. He’s better than anyone they might see come out of their system over the next three seasons, and arguably better than anyone they could get without trading one of the big two. What other choice does Sabean have? Are you telling me you want to see the Giants give 3 years and $25 million to Rick Ankiel and hope he actually is ready to be an everyday player? He’s practically the only other free agent under 30 years old who’s done any hitting at all in his career.

Sabean failed again and again to address the power and on-base deficit, now there’s a free agent who plays top flight defense, is still only 29 years old at the start of the season, and would probably add 25 home runs, 100 walks, and countless quality at-bats to the offense.

What’s that guy worth? We just pissed away $55 million dollars on Randy Winn. We’re in the process of pissing away the same amount of money on Aaron Rowand. You’re telling me we can’t piss away twice that on a player who, at worst, is 50% better than either of those two, and at his best, is well over twice the player than either one of them is at their absolute best?

The Giants have championship-caliber pitching, right now. RIGHT NOW. Another year of hoping we can squeak out 88 wins with a bottom 10% offense, while our young stud pitchers waste another stellar performance cannot be considered acceptable. You cannot just keep letting years go by, telling yourself that it’ll be better next year. Sometimes you gotta jump. We shoulda gambled THIS year, and we didn’t. Who knows if Cain and Lincecum can keep going, year after year? Who knows if Affeldt and Sanchez keep improving? I’ll tell you one guy who doesn’t know. Brian Sabean.

Brian Sabean does not know if he’s gonna get another year of pitching like the one he just wasted like he’s got fifty of ‘em in his back pocket.

UPDATE: Uggla would fit Sabean’s player acquisition profile perfectly, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. We just signed a shitty second baseman, so why not trade some of our good, young prospects for another stone-handed second baseman, especially since Florida already announced to the world that they are trying to dump salary? Sure, let’s get taken advantage of! Scared? I’m always scared when it comes to Sabean.



…. Next season

El Lefty Malo looks ahead:

…. One question to ponder as you see all the trade and free-agent suggestions thrown around this winter — the Giants should sign this guy or trade for that guy — is not just whom to get, but how many runs do the Giants really need to score next year?

750 runs is a must. No way can the Giants expect to repeat their 2009 pitching performance, so just adding 50 runs will do nothing. The average NL team scored 718 runs, the Giants scored 657, so 50 runs added and we’re still below average. You cannot expect to compete for a championship if you’re not at least be average, and even that’s not really what contending teams are aiming for. Back to runs differential, the Dodgers scored (oops) 780 runs, and allowed 611. The Giants scored 657 runs, and allowed 611. Need I say more?

Trading Matt Cain is the best way to address the hole in the lineup, as he will never be worth more than he is right now.

The player to look for? How about Hanley Ramirez? Lots of stories this year about how players and coaches with the Marlins don’t like how he goes about his business. Maybe he’s tired of playing in front of empty seats, and is looking for a change of scenery. Maybe he wants to play for a contender that spends money, (even if they spend it poorly). Maybe he thinks the Marlins are small time:

…. Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez recently forced all of his long-haired players, including Ramirez, into an impromptu date with the clubhouse hairdresser. He also banned any jewelry worn onfield by Ramirez or any of his teammates.

“We want to look professional,” Gonzalez told the Sun-Sentinel. “Nice and neat.”

Only problem was that Ramirez, ranked first overall in Yahoo!’s fantasy baseball game, didn’t take kindly to having his shortish dreads shorn off or his chain yanked off his neck. Once the media entered the Marlins’ clubhouse on Thursday, Ramirez made sure he was seen sporting a strong message — “I’m sick of this shit” — written in Sharpie across his chest.

“I’m angry,” he told reporters. “I want to be traded … It’s incredible. We’re big leaguers.”

And here’s another article, in which Ramirez is portrayed as strikingly similar to another superstar we Giants fans are familiar with:

…. Here is the dichotomy of Ramirez: a player with admirable work habits, yet an almost displeasing demeanor. Ramirez as a person can be dismissive and distant, yet as a player he’s dynamic and impossible to dislike.

Everything about Ramirez, 25, is big league — his game and his attitude. This season, he’s quarreled with teammates about the validity of an injury, argued with management about the team’s hair policy, and bickered with reporters over their criticism — something that would drive most fans, not to mention team executives, crazy.

Yet he may be baseball’s most complete player, a combination of power, speed and hitting acumen, all things that he could not have mastered without a tremendous work ethic. Teammates and coaches still consider him a kid — a well-liked but at times capricious one. But as he finishes his most productive season — an MVP-caliber year — and heads into his fifth full season in the majors in 2010, Ramirez is inching toward veteran status.

Ramirez is everything we don’t have. His career line of .316/.386/.531 .917 OPS is simply sensational. Over his last three full seasons, he’s averaged a .950 OPS, with 74 extra base hits, 38 steals (80% success rate). I mean, he does it all, and he’s only 25 years old. We could package Cain with Renteria — a reunion tour with the team he won a World Series with, nice story line there– and maybe a draft pick, if needed. All that trade would do is transform the face of the franchise in one fell swoop.

Sure Cain is good, young and under financial control for another year or two. But, he’s not that good. He’s not Lincecum good. He’s not Cliff Lee good. He’s not Chris Carpenter good. In other words, he’s not untradeable.

Baseball Reference has his ten most similar players:

Moe Drabowsky (977)
Clay Kirby (974)
Jack Fisher (967)
Jose Rijo (962)
Mike Witt (959)
Tom Gordon (958)
Dave Stieb (956)
Lefty Tyler (954)
Jim Kaat (953)
John Smoltz (953)

There’s some good pitchers there, plus Smoltz, who is legitimately great, but every one of those guys played for a bunch of different teams.

That’s not to say we should trade him for just anybody. Cain is 24 years old, and a 24 year old pitcher of his caliber is extremely valuable. But this Giants team is several players away from championship contention, and something’s gotta be done. If you can trade a 24 year old very good pitcher for a truly elite hitter of approximately the same age, you probably should do it.

Of course, maybe the Marlins fall in love with Mr. No-Hitter, and would part with their problem child for him and and some spare odds and ends. Yeah, right. Not to mention, does anyone really believe that Sabean could pull this off?



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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
None of the opinions expressed should be construed as being endorsed by the
San Francisco Giants, Major League Baseball, or any other organization mentioned herein.

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