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Archive for the 'Talking Heads' Category


…. Back to earth

Zito had his worst game of the year, pretty much at the worst possible time, in a first-place showdown with the surprising San Diego’s. Struggling to find his rhythm the whole game, Zito was embarrassed by his buffoon of a manager, who tried to take him out during the fifth inning after he had gone to 2-0 on Oscar Salazar, with the first ball a wild pitch. Of course, Righetti had just visited the mound prior to the at-bat, so Zito had to finish the hitter. It was a pretty ridiculous sight, really. Out pops Bochy, practically running to the mound, only to be sent back to the dugout by the second base umpire.

Of course, the Chronicle manages to make Bochy’s gaffe seem like it was planned:

…. Zito said his “timing was off tonight. I didn’t have any command of anything.”

That was particularly evident during Oscar Salazar’s fifth-inning at-bat. Zito air-mailed his first pitch to the screen, allowing Yorvit Torrealba to waltz to second. The next pitch was extremely high and outside.

After that pitch, Bochy headed to the mound to check on Zito, but because pitching coach Dave Righetti had conferred with Zito just before Salazar came to the plate, Bochy could not speak with the left-hander. Bochy had to return to the dugout.

“When he threw those two pitches, I was concerned about him,” Bochy said.

Yeah, right. Everyone in the ballpark saw Bochy signal for a relief pitcher. Then again, why not lie to cover up your embarrassing mistake? The GM gets away with it constantly, and the local sports reporters only seem to insist on the truth when they’re harassing the greatest player in baseball history:

…. “The surgery I had was a failure.”

In October, DeRosa had an operation to repair a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, an injury he sustained soon after joining St. Louis in a trade from Cleveland on July 1.

On Tuesday, DeRosa was examined by Giants doctor Gordon Brody and had an MRI exam. The diagnosis, according to DeRosa: “It’s completely ruptured again.”

The article goes on to mention that the Giants are, laughably, hoping that rest will make it all better. Of course, nowhere in the piece is any mention of the criminally bad contract that Sabean so generously gave to the known to be injured DeRosa. Now the team has two $12 million dollar players who cannot play, and a GM who simply does not know what he’s doing:

…. Hot-hitting prospect Buster Posey remains at Triple-A Fresno because Giants officials are not convinced he is ready to catch in the major leagues yet, GM Brian Sabean said.
The longtime GM also stressed that the decision to promote Posey has nothing to do with service-time concerns, nor will it.

“Let me dispel all that, all right?” Sabean said. “When we think Posey’s ready, just like when we thought (Tim) Lincecum was ready, and this starts from ownership, he’ll be in the big leagues. I’ll speak to the Lincecum thing. If we don’t bring up Lincecum, how do you know he’s on his way to winning the two Cy Youngs or more so helping us win 88 games last year? Now, in other places where you don’t have a deeper or more consistent budget, I can buy the strict clock. But we can’t be on a strict clock. Shoot, we’re trying to get back to winning ways and get to the playoffs, and everybody understands it.”

…. Sabean said the 23-year-old is “still learning how to catch. Some of that is game calling. Some of that is the consistency that he’ll need as, we hope, an offensive catcher.”

Besides, Sabean said he doesn’t put much stock into Triple-A statistics.

“Triple-A baseball isn’t very good,” Sabean said. “I’m going to tell you that right now. Especially from a pitching standpoint. Anybody who can pitch is in the big leagues.”

How many ways is this man ridiculous? Posey needs to be more consistent as a hitter? This, from a man who re-signed a catcher who made 450 outs last year. No pitching in Triple-A? Triple-A stats aren’t worth much? Lincecum won two Cy Young Awards because Sabean waited as long as he did to bring him up?

Whatever. Once again, we have a bottom feeder offense, 142 runs scored, and only the dismal performance of the two worst teams in baseball –the barely better than Triple-A Astros and Pirates– keep the Giants from having the worst offense in the game once again.

So, when you hear Sabean talking about anything at all, remember that it’s all bullshit. He’s got one of the wort hitters in all of baseball at just about every position on the diamond, and we’re supposed to listen to him tell us that a guy throwing up a .343/.436/.525 line isn’t hitting enough. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He doesn’t have the slightest idea how to evaluate hitters. He has been selling Giants fans the same bullshit bill of goods for going on fifteen year now. I wrote this eight years ago:

…. Over the last 30 days the Giants offense is DEAD LAST in the National League, meaning it is dead last in all of baseball. This, while Barry Bonds is posting a .565 obp and a .900 slg. Do you have any idea what that means? That means the Giants are even worse than their stats.

I heard the Brian Sabean show yesterday, and he said that he intends to show patience and trust that his hitters are going to start hitting. You know what Ray, that’s the single stupidest thing I have ever heard Brian say. You’ve got Marvin Benard taking swings in the last of the 8th in a one run game, and you’re telling me that I am supposed to trust that he’s gonna come around? Shawon Dunston has a spot on our bench? Damon Minor? Reggie Sanders? Sanders’ lifetime BA is .263, last year he was about 30% more productive than in ANY YEAR OF HIS LIFE.

…. which is more than you could say about JT Snow. There is nothing masking the fact that he is one of the most unproductive major leaguers drawing a salary. He is an out-maker, simple as that, and he gives nothing back for all of the outs he eats. Don’t talk to me about how many games he saves with his glove, that’s pure hyperbole. Bill James and a whole slew of baseball analysts have done reams of research into run prevention, and JT’s defense is worth maybe five runs a year, let alone five wins.

Eight years later, and the Giants are still comprised of one good hitter and bunch of out-makers. They’re still old. They are still slow. They are still injury-prone. The GM has signed more ancient mariners to more bad contracts, and the team is still just as boring and still barely competitive.



…. More embarrassment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



…. Lies, lies, lies

This is starting to get ridiculous. Now, Andrew Baggarly tells us that the way the Giants handled Freddie Sanchez’s injury was part of some grand scheme that benefits the ball club:

…. The Giants made the decision to keep Sanchez’s surgery quiet because at the time, they were negotiating with Juan Uribe to bring him back as a reserve. They ended up signing Uribe to a $3 million contract, and when I spoke to his agent later on, he was proud of the fact that Uribe would be pretty much the best paid infield reserve in the big leagues.

Well, you’d better believe that news of Sanchez’s surgery would’ve impacted the Uribe negotiations. Uribe’s agent would’ve known he had more leverage and might have squeezed more money out of the club, or in the least, drawn out negotiations that would’ve prevented Giants officials from wrapping it up and concentrating on other business. So the hush-hush on Sanchez worked to the team’s advantage.

Yeah, right. If Uribe’s agent didn’t know that Sanchez was injured, something that pretty much everybody in baseball knew, he should be fired.

This is called spin doctoring. Just like the story we read about how the Giants were lowballing Lincecum because they didn’t want the other owners to get mad at them for overpaying such a young player.

Bullshit. That is pure, unadulterated bullshit. And so is this.

This isn’t a story about how Sabean and his crack team handled something well, some masterful tale of intrigue and espionage that worked out exactly the way they planned. This is a story of mistakes and errors. This is a story about Brian Sabean’s failure. Having decided four years ago that Freddie Sanchez was the kind of player he had to have, Brian Sabean finally got the Pirates to say yes; and even though Sanchez was older, injured and already declining as a player, Sabean pulled the trigger, trading one of the top pitching prospects in the organization for yet another old, broken down player.

Now, several months later, after Sanchez contributed exactly what any reasonable person could have expected to the Giants chase for the playoffs –nothing– and having gone into the winter even more injured and broken down than we were told, Sabean is trying to spin this story so it looks like he, Captain Queeg, knew all along what he was doing, that it was all part of the grand plan that only he is privy to, that only he can know.

It’s pretty sad, really. Sabean is trying to spin his way out of the results of last season’s trade deadline deals –only some of the worst deals any GM has ever made without losing his job, by the way– and in doing so, is making himself look even smaller.

Pitiful. Laughable. Embarrassing.

Your 2010 San Francisco Giants.



…. Bitch and moan

Not to belittle the accomplishments of our venerated commissioner of baseball, but the news from Milwaukee –the Brewers are planning to erect a statue of Selig– is really disturbing.

First off, is there anyone who doubts that this idea could only have come from the team’s “owner,” who just happens to be his daughter. I mean, who else is gonna come up with a horrible idea like this? It certainly isn’t the fans, who have watched as the Selig family has gotten rich beyond their wildest dreams –mostly due to the tens of millions of dollars the team receives through revenue sharing, money that Selig has refused to spend on the team for as long as revenue sharing has been going on– and the increase in revenue due to a taxpayer-funded new ballpark.

Now there’s an accomplishment worthy of a statue, mooch millions upon millions of dollars off of the other teams in baseball, and off your fans and your local community, and then refuse invest in the team for decades.

But, besides some of these obvious issues, you put up statues for the great players in your franchise’s history, as opposed to filthy rich guys who charge ten dollars for a Miller Lite; the idea is off-putting for a variety of lesser concerns.

Selig’s legacy is stained by his complicity in the steroids issue. He cannot distance himself from what happened on his watch, whether you think it was a true scandal, or simply an overblown media creation. He was there, as commissioner, when Sosa and McGwire “saved” baseball, and there were people in his office that were whispering in his ear that there was a problem. He knew, and he did nothing, well, if by nothing, you mean, ignore the issue.

He’s handled several other issues rather poorly as well, don’t you think?

He tried to contract teams out of existence. That didn’t go so well, you might remember.

You could say I’m being unkind. OK, forget, for a moment, all of the things he did poorly. What has he done well?

Really, what has he accomplished that you could say is remarkable? What would you say is Bud Selig’s legacy?

Owners and players making lots of money?
Revenue sharing?
Inter-League play?
The Pete Rose fiasco? Yeah, he handled that one well.

How about shunning Bonds and McGwire for alleged PED use while standing behind David Ortiz? Yeah, very well though-out.

You do remember that he was the commissioner when the players went on strike, just about killing the game.

Oh, and he was commissioner when the owners colluded against the players, resulting in a hundreds of millions of dollars lawsuit that the league lost.

These are just a few of the reasons the idea is terrible. The most obvious one I haven’t even mentioned:

He’s still alive. His “legacy” could hardly be a known commodity, even now, towards the end of his career. You wanna honor the guy when he retires, throw a parade. Have a big dinner, and give him a car. A bronze statue? When he finally brings the team a championship you might want to consider a statue, maybe. It’s quite a bit early in the story of his life to build him a bronze statue.

Only in a sports town so bereft of real baseball heroes and champions could the idea of a statue of Seligula be given consideration.



…. Old news

I was browsing through the Baseball Analyst’s Bill James Baseball Abstracts pages, and came up with a couple of interesting tidbits from James:

1978

“When you acquire any player over 28, you are getting about 40% of a career–and that on the downhill slide. You can do that, perhaps, to fill a hole. But what happens when you try to build a whole team that way? Your replacement-rate goes out of sight. If you’ve got eight players on a downhill slide, two of them are going to slip and fall–either that, or you’re defying the law of averages.”

This is your San Francisco Giants. Run with a game plan that was known to be flawed over 30 years ago.

1983

A lot of the public, I think, has the idea that arbitration hearings are sort of bullshit sessions in which the agent tried to convince the arbitrator that Joaquin Andujar is Steve Carlton’s brother, and the club tries to convince him that he is Juan Berenguer’s niece. It’s not really like that. The first and foremost rule of an arbitration proceeding is that you never, ever, say anything which can be shown to be false.

The second rule of an arbitration case is that you don’t start any arguments that you can’t win. . .Stick to the facts. . .Tell the truth. It’s the only chance you’ve got.

How many of you think the Giants will be able to handle this situation with the delicacy and foresight needed to avoid getting their dicks caught in the zipper?

Additionally, I’d like to point out the flat-out absurdity of all of these articles and op-ed pieces talking about how the Giants are worried about signing Lincecum to along-term deal because of concerns about his long-term health. This is a lie, an absurdity, a ruse, a smoke screen. If the team is spreading crap like this, it is just one more indication of how unprofessional and poorly run it really is. If it’s not, Sabean should come right out and deny it.

It is ridiculous to suggest that it’s Lincecum that the team has to worry about. RIDICULOUS!!

Sabean wasn’t worried about being upside down on any of these old, broken down mediocrities he keeps shoveling money at? Sabean wasn’t worried about the possibility that he might be paying the 36-year old Dave Roberts to watch TV? He wasn’t worried about the two-year deal he gave to 35-year old Bengie Molina in 2007? Wasn’t concerned at all about the possibility that the 40-year old Omar Vizquel might not be able to live up to his contract? Not worried about the 34-year old Aubrey Huff, coming off an injury-plagued 2009 season? Really?

Nothing to see here when Sabean signs an already injured, 32-year old Freddie Sanchez to a contract extension he’s not even up for? No concerns at all about throwing $55 million dollars at He-Who-Runs-Into-Walls? No issue whatsoever at giving a declining Barry Zito the biggest contract in baseball history?

No, the player Sabean is gonna hold the line for is Tim Lincecum. REALLY!?!

This is where you’re gonna draw the line on cover-your-eyes bad contracts?! Tim Lincecum? TIM LINCECUM!?! He’s the guy the team is worried about? The 25-year old, two-time Cy Young Award winning, once in a generation pitcher, the ace of your staff? That’s the guy who’s gonna break the bank? After all these horrible fucking contracts, after all the money Sabean has literally THROWN ON THE GROUND!!!!! It’s Lincecum they have to worry about? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!!!! What a joke. What a bad, stupid joke.

The fact that the sportswriters who cover this team have the gall to parrot this absurdity is bad enough, but even decent bloggers are buying into the line. This would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.

Let me be the one to say what everyone should already know:

IF YOU ARE GOING TO GO BANKRUPT BECAUSE OF A BAD CONTRACT, LINCECUM IS THE GUY TO DO IT WITH

It is the equivalent of going all-in with pocket aces. If you’re gonna lose with aces, so be it.

1984

In Logic and Methods in Baseball Analysis, James states axioms, corollaries, and the known principles of sabermetrics in the following order:

Axiom I: A ballplayer’s purpose in playing ball is to do those things which create wins for his team, while avoiding those things which create losses for his team.

Axiom II: Wins result from runs scored. Losses result from runs allowed.

First Corollary to Axiom II: An offensive player’s job is to create runs for his team.

The Known Principles of Sabermetrics. Item 1: There are two essential elements of an offense: its ability to get people on base and its ability to advance runners.

Axiom III: All offense and all defense occurs within a context of outs.

The Known Principles of Sabermetrics. Item 2: Batting and pitching statistics never represent pure accomplishments, but are heavily colored by all kinds of illusions and extraneous effects. One of the most important of these is park effects.

The Known Principles of Sabermetrics. Item 3: There is a predictable relationship between the number of runs a team scores, the number they allow, and the number of games that they will win.

Ok, so here’s my two cents. Brian Sabean has no knowledge of these concepts. He can’t. Either he’s read Bill James and thinks he knows better, or he’s never read him. Either way, he’s obviously completely out if his mind.

He has been trying to build a team with old, soon to be out of baseball players, which is why, of course, the Giants never have any money for real players, because –as James illustrated 30 years ago– your replacement costs are gonna be sky-high, and you’re gonna be facing those costs every year.

And if you build an offense that consists of players who don’t get on base, and don’t have any power, you sure as hell will not be able to seriously compete, even if you have one of the most dominant pitching staffs of the last twenty years.

It just hurts my head to realize that I read this stuff 30 years ago, and the team I root for operates as if these simple concepts are still waiting to be discovered.



…. Lincecum stories

Courtesy of a Baseball Musings link to link, you can see that the bullshit stream generated by Giants –and propagated by the hacks that cover the team– never stops:

…. We all know that Magowan’s replacement, Bill Neukom, has positioned himself for a major battle over preventing MLB from overturning the Giants’ claim to the South Bay. Last year, the Giants even bought a portion of the Single-A club in town. (And have you noticed the San Jose Giants are even switching uniforms to look more like the parent club next season?) The Giants have been murkily tied to efforts from the San Francisco City Attorney’s office and a local coalition in San Jose to prevent the A’s from relocating, too.

The reasons for the bunker mentality are well known. The Giants attract a significant percentage of their corporate sponsorships, season-ticket and suite sales, ballpark advertising revenue, etc., from companies in Silicon Valley. Their ownership group is a who’s’ who of the tech sector. It’s part of their identity as well as their bottom line. They simply cannot afford to let the A’s cut into their interests in Santa Clara County.

And what’s the only way their territorial rights can be overturned? A three-quarters vote of the 30 major league owners, who’ll basically do whatever Commissioner Bud Selig tells them to do.

How does Lincecum and his arbitration status enter the equation? It’s simple. The No.1 way to tick off baseball’s owners is to establish a new salary threshhold. And Lincecum has a very good chance to clear Ryan Howard’s $10 million bar for a first-year arbitration player.

Yeah, right.

What a crock. We’re supposed to believe that the reason the Giants are jerking Lincecum around is so the other owners won’t vote to end the Giants territorial rights? Andrew Baggardly should be ashamed of himself for swallowing such a complete line of bullshit, and then regurgitating it all over his fucking computer.

It would be embarrassing if it weren’t so predictable, so completely in line with the standard operating practices demonstrated by this team for the last seven years. If I were Lincecum, I wouldn’t sign a long-term deal with this team under any circumstances. Lies and media manipulation are the foundation operating systems of an ownership and management group that lives in a world a fear and scarcity, a world of false promises and laughable “plans,” a world of failure masquerading as progress; a world where accountability is a catch-phrase.

Your San Francisco Giants.



…. Agreement found

Here’s Jay Jaffe, another one of the boys at BP, noticing our estimable GM’s strengths and weaknesses:

…. (Seattle Mariner) GM Jack Zduriencik is one of the sharper tools in the shed.

Giants:

Elsewhere in that shed, Brian Sabean continues to pound screws into bricks with a garden rake. Given an offense that finished last in the majors with a .244 EqA, Sabean has thrown about $35 million in 2010-2011 commitments at DeRosa, Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez, Bengie Molina, and Juan Uribe, none of whom are strong steps in the direction of boosting that. Huff and Molina were below .260 last year, Uribe’s at .242 for his career, and both DeRosa and Sanchez are coming off injuries that led to unproductive post-trade stints; the latter isn’t even likely to be available for opening day, given his recent shoulder surgery. Projected for a .267/.346/.428/.269 EqA performance, DeRosa’s production appears to be light for a corner outfielder. He’d make far more sense at second or third base, with a concomitant shift of Pablo Sandoval to first base to do away with Huff’s similarly sub-par production (.274/.340/.436/.268 EqA) and dodgy defense.

(italics mine)

Sabean has thrown about $35 million in 2010-2011 commitments at DeRosa, Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez, Bengie Molina, and Juan Uribe

We don’t have the money for a player like Matt Holiday? The Yankees signed Nick Johnson for essentially the same money Sabean gave Aubrey Huff, only with a one-year commitment instead of two, and Nick Johnson sported a .426 OBP last season, as opposed to Huff’s .310. Read that sentence twice.

We don’t need Molina, regardless of how inexpensive he is.

We could’ve gotten second base handled by Uribe, and not traded for and wasted $12 million on Sanchez.

I’m too tired to keep writing about this.

On and on, we see that, by anybody’s standards, Brian Sabean is failing.



…. 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.



…. We can only wish

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

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

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

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

Still, it’s nice to dream….



…. 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.



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