Archive for the 'Pablo Sandoval' Category

…. 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.

…. 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.

…. 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.

…. 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.

…. 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 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.

…. Backtalk

Martin (sorry, I knew that), over at Obsessive Compulsive, thinks I missed a couple of points in my recent rants. He thinks the Giants weren’t thinking about contending prior to the season, that the failure of the team to draft good offensive players isn’t Sabean’s fault, that the team over-achieved and Sabean deserves some credit for that, that the team is rebuilding and I’m being too harsh. I disagree on most of his points. Here’s what I wrote in response:

Well, I disagree on a lot of your points. Brian Sabean made minor changes to a team that he thought was good enough. He added a fifth starter, a relief specialist, and a (worthless) shortstop to a team that scored 640 runs the previous year, because he thought he was fine-tuning a competitive club. He absolutely said so several times before the season started, and then he acted accordingly. You don’t make those kinds of cosmetic, expensive additions to a rebuilding team, you just don’t. You play Burriss, you save your money, and you go out and get younger. Sabean was going for it, and his idea of going for it was absurd.

And as for your prediction that the Giants would contend, and that no one else thought that they could; I predicted, way back in the beginning of the season, that if every single thing went right, a superstar season by Sandoval, and Zito bouncing back, and Lincecum not having a sophmore slump, and Cain having his best year ever, and every other possible break going their way, the Giants still wouldn’t be able to make the postseason. It was my long-term view that was the correct one, not yours, Martin. You’ve missed the point of this season, just like Brian Sabean did. The 88 wins were a mirage, a combination of good luck, timing, and the completely unseen event of our entire pitching staff shaving a full run off our ERA from the year before.

And what is this rebuilding thing you keep referring to? Winn, Rowand, Molina, Ishikawa, Lewis, Renteria, these are all players that Sabean went out and got. He paid handsomely for their services. Rebuilding? What is that? He BUILT this team.

Alderson and Barnes had value, and Sabean transformed that value into more useless, league average players, who fit in exactly with the same league-average players he has been bringing here for going on seven years in a row. If the Giants are rebuilding, it’s because of his own failure. He’s not rebuilding a team that he just came to run. He’s cleaning up his mess. Let’s not forget his decision to forgo draft choices several years back; just one more of the ridiculous ways he has hamstrung his own team.

As for the draft being a crapshoot, well, sure it is, but what’s that got to do with anything? Forget about the draft. Sabean doesn’t know what makes an offense go. He doesn’t know how to build an offense. If you value the wrong traits in a player, then it doesn’t matter what you do, because you will fail. Brian Sabean values steady, veteran, experienced, high batting average gamers. These players have a place in the game, you just can’t have an entire offense made of these types of players. You cannot field an entire team of replacement-level players, which what the Giants have been doing for the last five or six years.

Don’t talk to me about rebuilding, we’re rebuilding because the players Sabean went out and got are terrible, laughably overpaid, 2 home run a year players who deserve to make about a third of what they earn.

You talk about rebuilding like a team that hasn’t won a title in the history of the city the play in can afford to shit away a once in a lifetime chance to win a championship, WHICH THE GIANTS HAD THIS SEASON, and they shit it away like so much aggravating extra work they just didn’t want to do.

It was a disgraceful performance by Sabean and Neukom. There should have been no ends to which they wouldn’t have gone once it became clear that we had a championship-caliber pitching staff, in the midst of an historic performance the likes of which we may never see again, and all the team needed to do was spend money and send a couple of valuable, tradable commodities you seem to think were so expendable, so unpredictably worthless, and get a hitter or two who could’ve made a difference.

Instead, we traded away those valuable prospects and got Ryan Garko (as in, WHO THE FUCK IS RYAN GARKO?!?) and a completely broken-down, empty batting average 32-year old Freddie Sanchez, who contributed one home run and two walks.


A playoff berth was there for the taking, and our GM failed in every way imaginable, wasting resources and coming up so empty that he actually had to replace Garko with the player that Garko had been brought in to replace. Are you kidding somebody? If it hadn’t been for Juan Uribe and Eugenio Velez coming completely out of nowhere, the season would’ve been lost months ago, our GM failed so spectacularly.

How you can fail to see that is remarkable to me. I know you’re smart. But, in this instance, you are blind. The Giants, out of nowhere, had a legitimate chance to make some noise in the postseason. All it would’ve taken is smart moves by our GM. Instead, he made stupid, wasteful moves, moves that accomplished nothing. And, for that, he was rewarded with a new two year contract, and millions of dollars.

UPDATE: Yeah, and in case you were wondering about the ownership and accountability of the team’s management; Carney Lansford was fired today. So, even though, Brian Sabean got all the props for the team winning 88 games with no offense, Lansford was fired because he failed to make Randy Winn hit home runs. So much for winning 88 games being the important factor in the team’s success and failure. I guess that only counts for the GM and the coach.

…. Talk talk

One of the excellent backtalkers posted a link to the full Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy interview that Andrew Baggardly did. I read it, and wanted to bring some of it to the front page:

Sabean: “The thing I do know about Bengie’s situation is going into free agency he’s going to be in pretty darn good stead. There’s going to be more than the Giants interested and there are going to be teams that may be able to offer more years or salary than we at the end of the day may be able to compete for. So it’s a complicated issue but he certainly did his part and he deserves due consideration.”

Translation: “we’re gonna overpay him on a two year deal.”

Sabean: “…. it’s safe to say we need some more power, quite frankly. The team is going to have to take on a little different personality. As Boch pointed out to me at the end of the year, which makes sense, a lot of times when you have players like Pablo and Bengie who are free swingers, sometimes, especially with a younger team, or a team challenged to score a lot of runs, they’ll take on that personality. In a selfish way you’d like to find somebody who’s different from them who can calm things down or act in the middle of the order in a different way.

Translation: “I failed to sign Adam Dunn or Bobby Abreau, and we were fucked all year long because of it.”

Bochy: “I thought as hitters that we weren’t aggressive enough in certain counts, especially ahead in the count. I want these guys to let the bats go. I thought we were late a lot on fastballs in hitter’s counts. We want to work on that too. That’s a big part of the game. Power comes from being aggressive.

Translation: “I don’t know what I am talking about.”

Bochy: …. “I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Edgar (Renteria). I really don’t. This guy is a pro and he had a down year, I think, because of how much that elbow was bothering him. It didn’t just bother him throwing. It bothered him hitting. And this game’s hard enough to play when you feel great, but when you’re hurting and you’re trying to hit major league pitching, it’s not that easy.”

Translation: “I don’t know what I am talking about.”

Sabean: “Our aim is to try to get something done with Freddy (Sanchez) and I expect that probably will happen.”

Translation: “I don’t know what I am talking about.”

Sabean: “The one thing that didn’t happen was, collectively as a group, we just couldn’t get marginally better. …. Whether it’s moving runners over or the bunting game, in some ways, we might have gotten caught in between. We were waiting for guys to hit three-run homers. We were waiting for guys to hit a double with the bases loaded. The more we found out we couldn’t do that, later in the year, we decided that we were going to have to do some other things — bunting guys over or running a little bit more.”

Translation: “I don’t know what I am talking about.”

Seriously, though, the comments from these two are especially revealing. First off, they show that they really do have significant flaws in how they evaluate players. On the one hand, they are saying that a player is who he is, as in the comment about Sandoval and Molina. But in the next minute, we hear how they didn’t seem to know that they had a power-less team of hackers, and that they were surprised that none of these bums couldn’t hit three-run home runs at will. Bochy wants us all to remember that Renteria is a pro and a gamer and all that, but he fails to even mention how he’s also gonna be 35-years old, and has been injured and on a decline for most of the last four seasons.

Just like Sabean wants us all to know that Sanchez is a gamer and a pro and he expects that he’ll do better than last season, even though he’s 32 years old, and injured, and right smack in the middle of his decline phase.

Additionally, they demonstrate that they either haven’t been paying attention, or are actually that clueless when it comes to knowing what is actually happening. Did Bochy actually say, “I thought as hitters that we weren’t aggressive enough in certain counts.”? Really? That’s not what I thought. It’s not what any close examination of the teams hitters shows. It’s not what any of us who watched the games saw.

And, finally, the piece de resistance:

Sabean: …. “I’ll mention this, not in any way of being defensive, but the (two-year, $18.5 million) Renteria situation: We made a management decision on all levels that we needed a veteran shortstop. Looking back, the choice internally would have been somebody like (Emmanuel) Burriss, which as we all know sitting here today, wouldn’t have been the right thing to do.

Secondarily, no matter what the contract threshhold ended up being, if you talk to Tony LaRussa, if you talk to Bobby Cox, if you talk to anybody around baseball who’s had this type of player and you listen to how Boch witnessed what he was able to do on and off the field, including or especially just with somebody like Pablo, who he took under his wing in Spring Training and carried that out through the season and let alone how he went out there most days not at 100 percent, probably 75 percent.

Yeah, right. Sandoval is who he is, but also, he wouldn’t have been shit if it wasn’t for Renteria? The Tigers threw Renteria away, he was such a great fucking teammate, (and they instantly improved by about fifteen games, by the way). The right thing to do is to put your team in a position to win, and to do that, after last season; you needed to acquire some real hitters. If you’re really interested in developing a championship team, you don’t surround your twenty-something superstar pitchers with a bunch of senior citizens, you surround them with good, young talent. If you’re interested in making sure you don’t lose too much, you sign cast-offs like Renteria and Molina and try to pass them off as valuable.

Letting Burriss run out there all season would have been $18 million dollars cheaper –money that could have, should have been spent on a home run hitter– and would’ve been just as productive, something that was obvious to anyone who spent any time looking at the track records of the players involved.

And let me say this; Freddie Sanchez will never hit enough to justify his contract as he enters the prime seasons of his decline phase. He will never be healthy enough to be an everyday player again, and his contract will be just one more albatross contract in the endless succession of albatross contracts that are the defining characteristic of Brian Sabean’s reign.

UPDATE: I wanted to also highlight this comment by Sabean:

…. “I don’t feel particularly good about a colleague of mine like Kevin Towers being let go the way he was, but that’s the business.”

Towers is another failure of a GM, a guy mired in the past, with little appreciation of how the game has changed. Of course, Sabean thinks it’s terrible that Towers was fired after 14 years of failing to deliver a championship. That’s what Sabean must think about as he watches Molina swing at one pitch after another and wonders how come he’s not hitting three-run home runs every time.

…. Be afraid

Be very afraid:

…. managing general partner Bill Neukom said he expects the Giants’ active payroll to rise in 2010.

“I anticipate that in terms of actual dollars of people playing for the Giants between the lines, it should be an uptick from this year,” said Neukom, who did not divulge a specific amount. It is not expected to be dramatic.

…. Asked if that means the team would consider one of the few wildly expensive middle-of-the-order hitters expected to be free agents, he said without mentioning names such as Jason Bay or Matt Holliday, “I wouldn’t rule out anybody at this point.”

At the same time, Neukom said the Giants have a “finite amount” of money for payroll

…. No matter which players the Giants consider this winter, Neukom said, the same formula will apply in evaluating them – and here is the caveat on the big-money hitters:

“At the end of the day, the question is going to be, Would this person significantly help us and make us more likely to be a winning baseball team, competitive to contending?” Neukom said.

“What’s it going to cost us in money? We have a finite amount of money to spend on this. Can we afford the money? Can we afford to give up the talent we would give up to get this person in a trade situation? Does acquiring this person (place a) lid on some talent we have coming up? Finally, what does this addition to the roster mean to the chemistry of this team?”

Let’s take a look at these questions in the order that Neukom asked them:

Would this person significantly help us and make us more likely to be a winning team?

The Giants are finishing a season in which they’ve scored fewer runs than just about every other team in baseball. Position by position, our team looks like this:

Catcher 27th in OBP 15th in OPS
First 26th in OBP 26th in OPS
Second 29th in OBP 29th in OPS
Third 5th in OBP 2nd in OPS
Short 18th in OBP 22 in OPS
Left 19th in OBP 20th in OPS
Center 22nd in OBP 20th in OPS
Right 29th in OBP 29th in OPS

So, for those of you not paying attention, we have a league average catcher, a top of the line third baseman, and nothing else. There are eight positions on the diamond, and we have one of them filled. That pretty much means that Neukom is already posturing. He is already getting prepared to tell us that, for the team to be able to go out and sign players like Matt Holliday, if they are going to cost so much money, one must be able to prove that they will help the team win. I can hear him already, “Well, you know we won 87 games last year with Randy Winn –who is an All Star, by the way– in right, why should we spend $40 million to get a guy who’s only marginally better.”

Not to mention, our GM is too stupid to know the difference anyway. Last year, we went out and got Edgar Renteria and Randy Johnson, and Jeremy Affeldt. Brian Sabean went out and upgraded three of the 25 men on his roster because he thought that would translate into making the postseason. So, we already watched Sabean make moves that were never, ever, going to “significantly” improve the team’s chances, even though Brian Sabean thought they would, just one more reason he should be fired. He thought that signing Edgar Renteria, Jeremy Affeldt and Randy Johnson were significant, dramatic upgrades, upgrades that would propel the team to the playoffs, even though we knew those kinds of moves were absolutely provably wrong, and absolutely guaranteed to fail.

…. To suggest that Renteria would even be an improvement over the stack of cordwood the Giants have been trotting out to short the last couple of seasons is laughable.

The Giants ranked dead last in all of baseball in production from short, running out a horrific .228/.295/.281 .576 OPS line that actually understates how bad it really was. The Giants shortstops scored 51 runs, accumulated 156 total bases, hit 1 home run, and made something like 450 outs.

Renteria (.270/.318/.382 .699 OPS) scored 69 runs, accumulated 192 total bases, hit 10 home runs, and also made something like 450 outs. To oversimplify just a bit, virtually all of the difference between him and the Giants shortstops was in the extra 9 home runs he hit; which he will never hit in a Giants uniform.

Again, a team as far from contention as the Giants shouldn’t even consider paying a 33-year old that kind of money, regardless of how good he is; and Renteria just isn’t all that good anymore. He had a fluky .332 season two years ago, but other than that, he’s been a league average hitter with modest defensive skills, who will be 34-years old this season.

Here’s what the boys at Baseball Prospectus said about Renteria before last season:

…. This may come as a surprise given his recent production, but PECOTA is not a fan of Edgar Renteria heading into 2008. His forecast is just .279/.343/.393 with a Collapse Rate of 50 percent. Part of the reason why for that decline is easy to spot—his BABIP was .375 last season, which helped him hit .332 on the season. There’s a significant drop in his projected power production as well, stemming from a combination of his getting older and also switching from the better league for hitters. If we adjusted his line from last year just for his BABIP, he would be somewhere around .307/.365/.445; that high Collapse Rate is PECOTA’s way of saying he isn’t as good as his 2007.

And then he wasn’t as good as his projection. You think he’s gonna be better this season, a right-hander with little power playing half his games at PacBell? $9 million good?

I don’t.

He failed to even reach the low levels of his forecast, .279/.343/.393 .736 OPS, running out a dismal .250/.307/.328 .635 OPS line, including, just as I predicted, only 5 home runs and 40 missed games. He scored, by the way, 50 runs, accumulated 187 total bases, and made 345 outs in 124 games. I won’t bore you with rehashing my accurate prediction that Johnson would get his 300th win and then not play another game.

What’s it going to cost us in money? We have a finite amount of money to spend on this. Can we afford the money?

Well, yes, you can. You can afford the money. We know that you can, because you give it away like it’s covered in anthrax. You “gave” $18 million dollars to Dave Roberts, who went from the Giants to the retirement home. You “gave” $18 million to Edgar Renteria, who was worth exactly ten cents in the grand scheme of “help us win a championship,” horseshit you’re trotting out right now. You, and your crack team of baseball experts are already getting your selves ready to “give” something like $30 million to Freddie–I am not 100 years old–Sanchez.

Here’s an idea…. Go out and “give” some money to a real baseball player. One who isn’t already past his prime, who isn’t injured, or out of shape, or a “savvy veteran.” Go out and get a good, young hitter, preferably an rightfielder, which will allow you to use Winn as a fourth outfielder. Send Fred Lewis to the winter league to learn how to play left, let Rowand play everyday in center. Sign Uribe for $3 or 4 million per and hope he has one more year in him. Sign Penny for about the same. Leave Sandoval at third base, play Velez at second and pray that he wasn’t an illusion the last two months, and platoon Garko and Ishikawa. Don’t throw another $25 million on the ground for Freddie Sanchez, who’s a marginal player at his best.

Does acquiring this person (place a) lid on some talent we have coming up?


What does this addition to the roster mean to the chemistry of this team?

Fuck you and your “chemistry.” Grow up! Have a player who’s not the nicest guy in the world, but is actually good, on your roster. You sound like an old lady when you talk about chemistry. Winning breeds chemistry. Players who don’t fail all the time make good teammates. You think anyone on the Giants cares about the fact that they’re all good guys right now? Or maybe you think they wish they had that prick Bonds around to, oh, I don’t know, maybe hit a couple of home runs every once in a while?

…. And the ugly

Joe Posnanski notes that the Dodgers Matt Kemp has more walks than any player on the Kansas City Royals:

…. Brilliant reader Preston sent in this gem. David DeJesus leads the Kansas City Royals with 46 walks. That is one behind Los Angeles’ Matt Kemp, who has 47 walks. OK … so what’s the big deal?

Here’s the big deal: Matt Kemp is EIGHTH on the Dodgers in walks. Eighth.

Which means that EVERY SINGLE PLAYER in the Dodgers starting lineup (with the exception of the pitcher, of course) has more walks than ANY player on the Kansas City Royals.

Well, you all know where I’m going here….

Pablo Sandoval leads the Giants with 42 walks. So, not only does every single player in the Dodgers starting lineup have more walks than any Giants player, so does a player from the woeful Kansas City Royals.

I’d mention that our sweep of the Rockies ten days ago really got both teams going in different directions, but you’d never guess which team was the one that got swept:

…. The Rockies down the Reds 5-1, finishing a 9-1 home stand. According to the broadcast, that’s their best home stand ever. The Giants went 4-5 in this stretch, losing 4 1/2 games in the wild card race after sweeping the Rockies in San Francisco. Colorado now returns to SF with a 4 1/2 game lead in the playoff race, the Giants needing another sweep to get back in the running.

First, the Giants get to play the Dodgers, then the Rockies, and the Dodgers again, so basically, we need to go something like 7-2 over the next nine to have any chance whatsoever. Maybe we should give this guy some at bats? All he’s done in 115 games so far this season is run out a staggeringly powerful 31 doubles, 18 home runs, 62 walks –or, need I remind you, more than any player on the big club– and a blast-off .325/.416/.531 .947 OPS line.

Maybe it would help if a player like this was available to take some at bats away from the out-makers that completely dominate any lineup Bochy has used all fucking season long.

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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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