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…. Disappointment

Wow. What a disaster of a season. Last place, 19.5 games behind the Dodgers, the Giants are on pace to have one of the worst seasons a defending champion has ever had. They've scored the third fewest runs, and allowed the third most. Talk about a complete fail by virtually every member of the team. I don't remember the last time a champ has looked this bad for this long. What a terrible defense of such a thrilling title.

Special thanks to Pablo Sandoval, who pretty much guaranteed he'd be worthless by showing up to camp roughly 50 pounds overweight. Way to be a leader, Panda.

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…. 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.



…. 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.



…. 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.



…. Real deal

Here’s what quality, well-run teams do when they realize that they have a once-in-a-generation player:

…. AL MVP Joe Mauer has agreed to an eight-year, $184 million contract extension to stay with the Minnesota Twins.

The deal announced Sunday covers the 2011-2018 seasons and includes a full no-trade clause. It’s the culmination of a months-long negotiation between the Twins and their hometown star.
Mauer has won three AL batting titles and an MVP award. He is considered one of the best defensive catchers in the game. Last year he hit .365 with 28 home runs and 96 RBIs to help the Twins win the AL Central division.

That’s how you handle a once-in-a-generation talent. Teams that are run by real general managers, and owned by real men who know what the hell they are doing, understand this.

The Giants, on the other hand, spread rumors and innuendo about the physical limitations of their once-in-a-generation players, making it clear that they don’t trust them, and that they prefer to fuck them around for years, instead of locking them up.



…. 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.



…. 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.



…. Again and again

Nothing is likely to happen at all. Sabean is not likely to sign anybody worth a shit.

UPDATE: Seems like the realities of the free agent market may actually force Sabean make the right decision:

…. the Nationals’ signing of Ivan Rodriguez to a two-year, $6 million deal to be a backup might have helped drive the market higher for catchers, perhaps making it tougher to find short-term quality.

“The Pudge signing is not going to help our situation,” general manager Brian Sabean said.

Asked if the contract surprised him, Sabean said, “Yes – how he’s going to be used against the money. I don’t think he’s going to be catching 100 games.”

Sabean remains adamant about not signing a catcher for two years, and he said he has no intention of pursuing Molina again: “That ship has sailed. That’s not going to be a fallback position for us.” While manager Bruce Bochy spoke publicly about his fondness for two other free-agent catchers, Miguel Olivo, who played for Bochy in San Diego, and Yorvit Torrealba, Sabean said he’s willing to “revisit Posey.”

Likewise, if the Giants don’t find a suitable No. 5 starter for one year to replace Brad Penny, now a Cardinal, Bumgarner could round out the rotation.

“If it ends up being Bumgarner as the fifth starter, he’s one of the best alternatives in all of baseball,” Sabean said. “If Posey ends up being the catcher, he’s the minor-league player of the year. We have some alternatives that other people don’t have in place right now. … You have to feel good about that.”

So, even though he is too stubborn, or ill-informed, Sabean still might end up doing the best thing for the team anyway, which is nothing. There is nobody in this season’s free agent pool who is really worth it, even if you love Holliday or Bay, they’re gonna be uber-expensive, and both have some holes in their games (mostly age-related). Posey and Bumgardner are the team’s two best options for those slots, young, inexpensive, with tons of upside. Also mentioned in the piece was the rethinking on Uribe. Good. Sign him for a year or two at $2 million per or something like that, and plug him in as the fill-in for the old and injury-prone Sanchez and Renteria.

I still think the team whiffed on Penny, but who knows, maybe his month here was an illusion. He’s still essentially a league-average pitcher. Bumgardner has to be able to match Penny’s production:

30 starts 173 innings 191 hits 94 earned runs 109 strikeouts 51 walks 4.88 ERA

I mean, if Bumgarder can’t do that, he’s not worth very much anyway, and we might as well find out now.

We all know that Posey can’t be worse than rally-killer.



…. Tasteless

Just the penultimate moment of the World Series, and Fox immediately cuts to a commercial instead of staying with the Sandman moment as Mariano comes in. Disgraceful.



…. Bad game

….for the Yankees.

Bad game for AJ Burnett. Didn’t anyone on the Yankees think the Phillies would swing earlier in the count, after Burnett went 22 for 25 first pitch strikes?

Bad game for Girardi. What the hell was he doing having Texeira in the third spot batting .063? Why didn’t he pinch run for Matsui in the ninth?

Bad game for the relievers. How many home runs can these guys give up?

Terrible postseason for Texeira. Easily the goat if the Yankees don’t close these guys out. Easily.

Well, except for Robinson Cano, who looks so lost at the plate, he might as well be playing for the Giants.

Great game/series/postseason for Alex Rodriguez. Need I say more?

Great game for Johnny Damon. Moving into series MVP conversation.

GREAT game for Chase Utley. Does he do anything other than hit the ball hard and far?

Back to the Bronx.



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