Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Something to look forward to in 2009....

photo by bobster1985 of Mays catch in the 1954 World Series

....besides the end of the 43rd President's mostly disgraceful term in office. That would be 97 days from today, when the 2009 season begins for major league teams and the Dodgers. (My thanks to Dan for this running gag, which never disappoints).

Additionally, Jay at Jay's Giant Blog reports that there are three, count 'em, three biographies of Willie Mays in the works: James Hirsch is writing an authorized biography on Mays, with a working title of Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend. Also, Craig Wolff, a journalism professor at N.Y.U., who reportedly has interviewed 2,000 people, is writing one too (Mays did not agree to sit down with him). And according to this article by Leon Neyfakh, Bill Rhoden is "still working on a "Willie Mays project."

Jesus (Guzman) sets a record

Monday, December 29, 2008

RIP Give Em Some Stankeye

Well, maybe that's a bit drastic. Paul Rice, who's done excellent posting at Give Em Some Stankeye, is now posting exclusively at Bugs and Cranks. I don't mind admitting that I always loved the name Give Em Some Stankeye (derived from Mike Krukow's broadcasting).

In any case, he's got a nice analysis of the The Big Unit signing. Here's his closing: So if Johnson comes in, gives the team 180 innings, wins his 300th game, and continues to intimidate the nebbishes of the baseball world with his tree-scanning height, this is a great signing. If he mangles his back again and can only make like 10 starts, well, it’s only a one-year deal, so no great harm done. If healthy, the Big Unit solidifies what should be an imposing Giants pitching staff. Now if only they had an offense.

Warren Gershes of the Merc-News blogs that Johnson makes the Giants contenders, which I think is over-stating the case. I do love his headline -- "In Your Face, Dodgers!" Here's his conclusion: The lineup is not great, but it’s better than last year. With Johnson this team has a shot at the playoffs. The Giants are the only team in the West that’s improved; the others have gotten worse. Once in the postseason who knows what can happen when you go into a short series with Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez and Johnson. I don’t think you have to sacrifice the future for what now looks like a VERY interesting present.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Big Unit's worth the money

That's the word from Lefty Malo, who points out that the Giants drew less than 3 million paying customers to Mays Field this year for the first time ever: Average attendance in '08 was 35,356, but without going back to look, I'll bet that number was below 35,000 when Kevin Correia or Pat Misch started. Short of predicting sellouts whenever the Unit pitches, let's at least assume he provides an uptick of a few thousand per start. That's perhaps 50,000 more fans through the turnstiles (and at the concession stands) when he pitches, and more on the days he rests if the Giants become competitive and even contend into the second half of the year.

John at Only Baseball Matters isn't impressed.

Can Jesus (Guzman) save the Orange and Black?

Henry Schulman of the SF Chron has a nice story about how Guzman is tearing up the Venezuelan winter league and how the Giants didn't have to surrender a boatload of cash to get him away from the A's. But he also offers the caution that Eliezer Alfonzo also tore up the Venezuelan winter league last year. Alfonzo's 2008 big league season consisted of a 50-game drug suspension and a 2-for-11 batting record for the Giants. He recently signed a minor league deal with the Padres, so he's not really in the MLB anymore.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Adjusting to the Unit

I've tried to figure out how to alter the "Most Hate-Worthy Poll" at the top right but I'm completely clueless. Mesa, Kent and Garvey have always been the leaders, anyhow.

The always-interesting Hasan at Orange, Black and Blue has a nice post on the Boxing Day Surprise: Ring in Boxing Day by celebrating the arrival of Randy Johnson to your San Francisco Giants. The Big Ugly (can I still call him that?) gets $8 million for one year.The lanky lefty will ensure the Giants rotation is 60% Cy Young winners. Maybe we can melt a couple down and fashion a Silver Slugger or two.

Grant at McCovey Chronicles also likes it: After missing most of 2007 with back surgery, Johnson came back to pitch 184 strong innings. He still has one of the highest strikeout rates among starting pitchers, and his control is still good. The Giants have four of the best strikeout pitchers in the league in their rotation. That's the best way to minimize the possibility of a porous infield defense.... Everything about this move makes sense. The Giants needed a fifth starter, but they didn't want to commit long-term to another pitcher with four rotation spots set in stone and two top pitching prospects on the way.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Giants live up their name

They've signed the Big Unit to a one-year deal -- making Zito the fifth man in a five-man rotation.

John Shea of the SF Chronicle says its an $8 million deal with $2.5 million in incentive clauses. He also speculates that Sanchez or even Cain may be traded. He also has this statistical nugget about the Unit -- Inside the NL West, he's 50-27 with a 2.68 ERA in 104 games, including 102 starts. At the Giants' park, he's 3-2 with a 2.14 ERA in seven appearances.

Chris Haft of MLB.com says the deal shows that the Giants are placing a premium on their starting rotation and had been considering promoting Kevin Pucetas from the California League after he went 10-2.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A great Christmas gift

I became a baseball fan in 1958 when the Giants moved to San Francisco. My Dad took me to several games that season at Seals Stadium and the next, then gave me a Baseball Encyclopedia for Christmas. I was in the second grade at the time so it was by far the most adult gift I'd ever gotten. I had no idea about Larsen's perfect game, nor Ty Cobb's hit record, nor Rogers Hornsby's .424 season nor Cy Young's 511 wins, nor who the Select 5 (the first five Hall of Famers -- Ruth, Wagner, Mathewson, Cobb, Johnson) were until I started reading.

Josh Wilker at Cardboard Gods has a great Christmas post about getting his first Neft and Cohen Baseball Encyclodedia in 1974 and starting in on card collecting. Among his very early cards was the very ultra- serious 1975 edition of Jesus Alou -- looking a bit weathered from over a decade in the bigs after starting his career with six years in the Orange and Black and devolving into a fourth outfielder with no power. He was near the end of a 16-year career that saw him play for the Mets in 1975. Best year came in 1965 for the Giants with career highs of 9 HRs and 51 RBIs.

Bumgarner tops Giants prospects

Here's what I want for Christmas

Tim Lincecum -- 21-4, 250 Ks, 2.17 ERA
Matt Cain -- 15-6, 225 Ks, 2.98 ERA
Jonathan Sanchez -- 12-9, 170 Ks, 3.96 ERA
Barry Zito -- 12-11, 113 Ks, 4.70 ERA
Noah Lowry -- 13-7, 102 Ks, 4.01 ERA
Brian Wilson -- 6-1, 60 Ks, 2.20 ERA, 42 saves

Bengie Molina -- 16 HRs, 85 RBIs
Pablo Sandoval -- 28 HRs, 104 RBIs
Fred Lewis -- 15 HRs, 70 RBIs, 30 SBs
Aaron Rowand -- 23 HRs, 87 RBIs
Randy Winn -- 19 HRs, 85 RBIs
Edgar Renteria -- 18 HRs, 78 RBIs
Kevin Frandsen -- 15 HRs, 82 RBIs
Emmanuel Burris -- 12 HRs, 75 RBIs

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas comes early for Correia

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Jose Castillo signs with the Nats

photo by God Bless Taiwan

Man, I wish I had this kind of job security. The Washington Nats may have lost out on Mark Teixeira so they signed five players including ex-Giant Jose Castillo -- who got the job after Frandsen's season-ending injury and was allowed to start into August despite being far worse than Pedro Feliz.

You really knew that the Giants were doomed in 2008 when this supremely unproductive guy, who had been released by the Pirates and then cut by the Fish in spring training, was starting every day. He wound up with 394 ABs -- more anyone on the team aside from Lewis, Winn, Rowand, Molina and Aurilia. Even the incompetents in the Giants front office could realize that 21-year-old Pablo Sandoval couldn't be any more embarrassing than Castillo. He was tearing it up in San Jose and Connecticut when he got called up. Castillo got released and picked up by Houston, where he also played like garbage.

Baldelli in the Orange and Black?

What kind of Christmas present is this for Giants fans? Warren Gershes blogs for the Merc-News that it would be a good idea for the Giants to go after free agent Rocco Baldelli, now that his health issues appear to be resolved. Gershes doesn't mention the downside of going after free agents with health problems like Jason Schmidt, so I will.

It's a stark contrast, fantasizing about a guy who's barely played for the last two seasons while the Yanks have signed the best offensive player available (Mark Teixeira) to an eight-year deal woth $180 million.

Should the Giants have gone after Teixiera? Yes, but they didn't, partly because they're stuck with the contracts for Zito, Rowand and Renteria -- players who are unlikely to turn them into contenders. So Giants fans are reduced to hoping that a guy like Pablo Sandoval will hit like Willie Mays and that Baldelli will magically arrive in San Francisco and somehow turn his career around.

Monday, December 22, 2008

More Dock Ellis rememberances

Josh Wilker at Carboard Gods has a wonderful post about the late Dock Ellis along with several links, including some great video of the 1971 All-Star Game. You can see a young Vida Blue strike out Dock with Willie Mays in the on-deck circle with Curt Gowdy announcing. There's also Reggie's homer. Here's part of Josh's take --

Dock always had the guts to do what he wanted to do. During his years as a high profile major league star, this kind of bravery made him an outspoken, polarizing character, vilified by some but honored by others, including Jackie Robinson, who near the end of his own life personally reached out to Ellis to encourage him to continue taking stands when he saw fit.

Feeling sorry for The Garv? Not me

Chris Jaffe has posted a long piece at The Hardball Times with an intriguing headline (Hitler. Stalin. Garvey.) that contends The Garv has been slammed so long as a hypocrite loser that the author actually has started to feel sorry for The Garv since he's unwilling to admit that times have changed:

This isn't merely an unwillingness to admit the rest of the world no longer buys the role model snake oil he sells. An article about Garvey a few years ago sheds some interesting light on him. According to it, he is living beyond his means, spending in a way to preserve a façade of perfection while the underlying reality is quite different. This is especially surreal because he's been a punching bag for over 20 years. He's apparently ruining himself to live a lie that everyone stopped listening to long ago.

As Fred Allen used to say, include me out. He's a phony, a liar and a scam artist, not worthy of an ounce of my sympathy. Would anyone actually be surprised if he's involved in some kind of sleazy operation designed to tap into people's affection for the Good Old Days while stealing their money? One poster named Andre Richtingen on Baseball Think Factory made an extremely astute observation -- just check out the Garv's reprehensible web site, which continues to present himself as a role model:

Well snap out of it, Chris. Here, I'll help you. By the third sentence, you'll get your hate back on, guaranteed.Growing up in the LA area, I hated Garvey long before 1984. Hell, Garvey drove me to rooting for the Yankees in the 1977 and 1978 World Series.Those damnable Jack La Lanne health spa commercials with Steve and Cyndy Garvey. For that alone he should be sent to Guantanamo.

Garvey currently has 191 votes in the most hate-worthy player poll on this site even though he retired 20 years ago.

From the desk of Brian Sabean

I just received this in my email box, probably due to my attendance at a dozen games per year at May Field, rather than my asserting that the author should be fired --

Having recently returned from the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, I want to take this opportunity to give you an update on the team and to again thank you for your dedication to the Giants. While we're only at the mid-point of the off season, the moves we have made to date will certainly help improve the team in key areas to better position us within our division.

Our goal remains to build our team around solid, all-around position players and a strong starting rotation, supplementing them with experienced impact players. While we went into last season with a relatively unknown group of young players, this year we have a much clearer sense of which homegrown players will be able to compete at the major league level.

Youngsters like Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum and closer Brian Wilson became All-Stars, while Matt Cain, Fred Lewis and Jonathan Sanchez each displayed flashes of brilliance. Additionally, rookies Pablo Sandoval, John Bowker, Emmanuel Burriss, Travis Ishikawa, Sergio Romo, Alex Hinshaw, Nate Schierholtz and Eugenio Velez all showed great promise. In total, we were able to take a look at a franchise-record 24 rookies in 2008, including 16 that made their major league debuts, and get them needed experience at the highest level.

While many positive things were discovered last season, going into this off-season we pinpointed a couple of areas we needed to strengthen. The first was our set up relief, as we lost 17 games last year where we were either leading or tied after the 7th inning. The free agent signings of left-hander Jeremy Affeldt and right-hander Bob Howry add two veteran relievers with proven track records to help bridge the gap to Wilson.

The next thing we addressed was our run production. With the continued development of our young players, such as Lewis, Ishikawa and Sandoval, we will increase our run production from within. However, we also needed to add a solid bat at shortstop. We added four-time All-Star and career .290-hitter Edgar Renteria.

We will continue to look to upgrade our offense and explore options for a fifth starter. Lincecum, Cain, Zito and Sanchez look to be our top four, with Noah Lowry coming off an injury or California League Pitcher of the Year Kevin Pucetas penciled in as a possible fifth starter. We have also made inquiries to the agent for Randy Johnson, however it looks as if we are one of many teams with interest for the veteran left-hander.

Even though things were relatively quiet during last week's meetings, we did find out quite a bit about what other teams thought of our own players. This encourages us even further that we are on the right path in building a team that will have lasting success. Our minor league affiliates saw five of our seven clubs reach the post-season in 2008, while building an overall record of 434-330 (.568) which was second-best among the 30 MLB organizations.

Recent publications have also recognized our strong efforts over the last few years in building our farm system, with MLB.com and Baseball America ranking some of our players such as Minor League Pitcher of the Year Madison Bumgarner, Silver Spikes winner Buster Posey, Cal League All-Star Tim Alderson and 18-year-old phenom Angel Villalona among the top 60 prospects in all of minor league baseball. We will continue to give our young players a chance to win jobs at the major league level and to learn the Giants Way of playing baseball.With Spring Training just around the corner, we look forward to the new year playing the game with passion and building a contending team that we will all be proud of for many seasons to come.

Thank you again for your continued support and I want to wish you and your family happy holidays and best wishes for the coming year.

Brian R. Sabean
Senior Vice President and General Manager

The case for the Big Unit

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Eliezer Alfonzo in the Padre brown

photo from July 2008 by yhirao -- one of his 11 ABs for the Orange and Black this year.

The one-time Giants starter signed a minor league deal with San Diego a few days ago. He wound up with the catching job in 2006 after Mike Matheny suffered his career career-ending injury and proceeded to show decent power with 12 HRs in 286 ABs. The Giants front office concluded that they needed an upgrade so they signed Molina. Alfonzo also walked a very Bengie-like 9 times in 2006, followed by 2 times in 64 ABs in 2007 and no times in his 11 plate appearances this year. What is it about being a Giants catcher that makes a guy incapable of drawing a walk?

He's mostly famous now for being one of three MLB players to draw a 50-game suspension this year for a drug test violation.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What's to be done with Dunn?

photo by j_visser, who says Adam Dunn went yard on this pitch on May 5 off Jon Lieber

John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters notes that he's catching flak for suggesting that a guy who has five straight 40-HR seasons and is only 28 would be a good signing -- far better than the Aaron Rowand or Edgar Renteria deals. Defense, he argues, is over-rated in terms of winning ballgames; the reason why the Giants have rung up 4 straight losing seasons is because Brian Sabean can't figure this out -- the offense stinks, partly because front office has continued to over-value defense (Rowand, Snow, Grissom and Neifi Perez being among the more egregious examples).

The Giants need a big bat, period, and this guy's probably available for slightly more than what was paid for Renteria. The notion that Adam Dunn's lousy defense will cancel out this kind of offense is just silly.

RIP Dock Ellis

photo by rotowistheshit

Here's AP's story. The rememberances of the oddities -- LSD use, the Reggie All-Star homer and the 1974 game where he set a record by hitting the first 3 Reds batters -- obscure the fact that he was always a pretty good pitcher, particularly in 1971. After the Giants won the first game of the playoffs, he won the second game against the Orange and Black. Then the Pirates hammered the Giants in the next 2 games and beat the Orioles in a memorable World Series. Ellis started the first game but couldn't get out of the third inning and left after giving up a 3-0 lead. He didn't pitch again in the Series.

Baseball Reliquary posted a nice recap of his career in 1999. Here's a memorable part of it -- Unfortunately, the perception of Dock Ellis as a hostile ballplayer overshadowed many of the largely unpublicized acts of charity and conscience which were the hallmarks of his career. Ellis worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, helping to rehabilitate black prisoners. In 1971, he and a group of black athletes started the Black Athletes Foundation for Sickle Cell Research, an organization whose purpose was to lobby and raise money for research and treatment of sickle cell anemia.

Here's a long 2005 story on Dock by Kevin McAllester of the Dallas Observor.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The fans get it right

The comeback kid

Lance Niekro wants back in to MLB -- as a knuckleballer with the Braves -- according to Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle. He's training with his Uncle Phil. Lance just couldn't hit MLB pitching during his time in the Orange and Black.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Will Jesus (Guzman) save the Giants?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Guzman in the Orange and Black?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Kawakami in the Orange and Black? Plus a modest proposal

photo by jlethridge1

Who in the world is Kenshin Kawakami? He's the latest Japanese free agent pitcher who's considering a jump to the MLB and, according to this report that tracks movements of Japanese players, both the Giants and Twins are interested. MLB.com reports that the Bosox, Mets, Angels, Orioles and Braves are intersted, too.

Well, you can never have enough pitching, I suppose. But with Tim Alderson and Madison Bumgarner close to being ready to pitch at the big league level, it strikes me as a misplaced priority that the Giants front office can't seem to focus its major need -- which is to get a big bat. It's like telling a mechanic to give you a front-end alignment and when you come back, all he's done is change your windshield wipers. And I'd be fine with the idea of signing Barry Bonds again for several reasons --

-- He can still hit better than 90% of the other players in MLB.

-- He was a much better fielder than many sportswriter hacks gave him credit for in 2007. Why not try him at first base?

-- It would bring and keep attendance up amid a severe recession. The so-called Giants fans who loudly proclaimed that they were staying away because of Barry didn't suddenly rush back to Mays Field last year. They aren't real fans; they're mostly just whiners.

-- It would drive Bonds haters (and no-talent hacks) like Bruce Jenkins and Ann Killion up the wall.

In short, it's such a good idea that I'm absolutely sure that the Giants won't do it. I suppose that someone may point out that there's little matter of Bonds' perjury trial in March -- for alleged violations that are six years old and have cost the taxpayers untold millions of dollars to pursue. It's way past time to drop the matter. I believe that the recent national election indicated that Americans are sick and tired of the federal government not addressing actual problems, of which there are plenty. By the way, if you're outraged by what I've just written, you're a dingbat and you shouldn't bother posting. I will never post your comment. If you don't like it, leave.

Wigginton in the Orange and Black?

photo by codyacres

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that the Giants, Pirates and Indians are interested in Ty Wigginton, who was non-tendered by Houston. If you're asking, "Why would the Giants bother when they need an offensive upgrade?," then you obviously don't understand how GM Brian Sabean thinks. Paul Rice at Bugs and Cranks has a great take --

He’s just absolutely a Brian Sabean type of player. He plays multiple positions, has a decent glove, but doesn’t walk enough, and has moderate but overrated and cheap seat-addled power (.691 slugging at Minute Maid in ‘08; .380 everywhere else. Zoiks!). He’s also white, scrappy, and mediocre, so I’m sure he’s been called a “gamer” at some point, and we all know the magnitude of man-crush that Sabean has on those types. Think Aaron Rowand without the famous nose-mutilating catch. Wigginton isn’t a bad player. He’s one of those guys who probably makes a wonderful platoon/utility type if restricted to about 300 or so at-bats (like last season, not coincidentally). Kind of like a better version of Rich Aurilia, Mach Two. It’s just that this is exactly the kind of player that the Giants seem likely to sign for too much money and too many years.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Yankees signing?

Not really. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer posted this nice piece of satire earlier today --

In their latest bid to beef up their pitching rotation for the 2009 season, the New York Yankees today signed Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zeidi to a three-year deal worth $12 million. The right-handed al-Zeidi, 28, impressed the Yankee scouts with his performance in Baghdad yesterday when he threw both of his shoes at President George W. Bush."While neither of the shoes hit their target, both throws "had great veolcity and good movement," said Yankee owner Hank Steinbrenner."The first shoe was high and outside, but the second one was right down the middle," Mr. Steinbrenner said. The Yankee boss said that he was also impressed with Mr. al-Zeidi's fighting spirit when Secret Service agents tackled him. "That could come in handy when we have a series with Boston," he said.

UPDATE -- The very funny Andy Borowitz is the author

Omar wants another year

More fallout from Sabean's whining

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Standing by on the Teixeira bidding

The LA Times is reporting that the Angels are making an eight-year offer for $160 million for Teixeira. Meanwhile, recent reports by Giants beat writers indicate that the Orange and Black won't make an offer -- even though a big bat at a corner position is exactly what the Giants need.

I presume the $160 million price tag on Teixeira is just too high for the Giants. I think it's appropriate to point out that the Giants' two big free agent signings in the past two season -- Zito for $126 million and Rowand for $60 million -- have left the club in a position where they can't bid for the kind of player that would actually move them toward contention. Again, Brian Sabean should be fired right now.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Valdez going under the knife

Andrew Baggarly of the Merc-News blogs that Merkin Valdez is having surgery again. He's right to say that fans have been "tantalized" by this guy. He throws smoke!

He debuted in two games in 2004 and then was in 17 this past season.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Big Unit in the Orange and Black?

photo by jmsiebold

At least, that's what the SF Chron's John Shea seems to think. It would be a little bizarre to have a rotation of Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, the Unit and Zito -- with Zito obviously being the 5th starter. A poster at the Baseball Think Factory site who calls himself Aspiring One-Armed Economist (6-4-3) had some fascinating stats about how 5th starters performed for the Giants last year:

The Giants project as a ~78 win team playing in a division that could be won by less than 90 games. If some things break their way, it's not inconceivable that they could contend. Having a healthy and effective Randy Johnson for 30 starts would definitely be an improvement.The Giants' 5th starters combined for 30 starts in 2008:

Correia: 19 starts, 5.36 ERA in 102.1 IP
Misch: 7 starts, 7.25 ERA in 36.0 IP
Hennessey: 4 starts, 4.30 ERA in 17.1 IP

That's a combined 5.67 ERA in 155.2 IP (~75 ERA+). If Johnson's healthy and effective for 30 starts, the Giants should get around a 115 ERA+ in about 175 IP. Eyeballing it, that looks like an improvement of around 30 runs or 3 wins.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Taschner's back in the Orange and Black

Not particularly exciting news -- Jack's been pretty adequate over the last 2 years. The Giants certainly look like they're going to have plenty of guys who can come out of the pen.

Biggest deal ever? (No)

The Giants had the initial status of being the most active team during this offseason, but now -- after Sabean's meltdown Wednesday -- they're simply the most whiney. Meanwhile, the Indians, Mariners and Mets have completed a 12-player deal, which has to be among the biggest ever. Actually, the 1954 deal between the Yanks and Orioles -- involving Don Larson, Bob Turley, Gene Woodling and Gus Triandos -- involved SEVENTEEN players. Here's how it went, according to the info on Turley's page --

November 17, 1954: Traded by the Baltimore Orioles with players to be named later, Billy Hunter, and Don Larsen to the New York Yankees for players to be named later, Gene Woodling, Harry Byrd, Jim McDonald, Hal Smith, Gus Triandos, and Willy Miranda. The New York Yankees sent Bill Miller (December 1, 1954), Kal Segrist (December 1, 1954), Don Leppert (December 1, 1954), and Ted Del Guercio (minors) (December 1, 1954) to the Baltimore Orioles to complete the trade. The Baltimore Orioles sent Mike Blyzka (December 1, 1954), Darrell Johnson (December 1, 1954), Jim Fridley (December 1, 1954), and Dick Kryhoski (December 1, 1954) to the New York Yankees to complete the trade.

Andrew Baggarly blogs that Sabean stopped whining long enough (OK, that's not how he put it; that's how I put it) for the Giants to nab a decent Cards prospect named Luis Perdomo as a Rule 5 pick. But they also lost Ben Copeland -- their top pick from 2005 -- to Oakland.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm FedExing a box of Pampers to the Bellagio...

....because that's what Giants GM Brian Sabean needs. He decided to whine to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Merc-News and several other Giants beat reporters today for their reporting on the Giants' exploration of making a deal with CC Sabathia.

All I can say is what a crybaby -- particularly given that Sabean should have been fired long ago for demonstrable outright incompetence. Can you imagine how the New York press would have treated Sabean for taking a team that came within a game of winning a World Series six years ago and driving it into the dumper? Instead, Sabean's had the good fortune of having long been given a pass by much of the local media -- who were more than happy to buy the lie that poor little Brian was hamstrung by the Evil Barry Bonds (Bruce Jenkins, Tim Kawakami, Anne Killion and Gwen Knapp are among the biggest offenders) rather than actually report the truth about the long series of bad deals (Nathan, Pierzitsky, Blownitez, Alfonzo, Durham, Finley, Zito, Hammonds, Roberts, Klesko....) that have turned the Giants into a laughingstock for the past 4 years.

And now, John Shea of the SF Chronicle gives a horrific preview of the 2009 Giants -- batting clean-up, Bengie Molina. M.C. O'Conner at Raising Matt Cain nails it, saying it's all you need to know about next season's club.

Any casual reader of the blog knows that I lost my tolerance for Sabean years ago because I've long been convinced that he is the single biggest impediment to the long-term success of the Giants. I think the Renteria deal is more of the same. I'm also offended that he can't take the heat from Giants fans, who -- the last time I checked -- happen to be the ones who are forking over their hard-earned dough so he can continue to be the most overpaid GM in MLB. So I'll leave it to Lefty Malo, who's a better writer and far more open-minded than I am, to weigh in (boldface is mine) --

It's an odd time for Sabean to go all schizo-paranoid about angry fan mobs, seeing how he's basically gotten everything right this winter. (So far.) He upgraded the bullpen with two reasonable, short-term contracts for guys who could easily be the best set-up tandem in the division. He probably overpaid for Renteria, but it's a fairly low-risk move with potentially high upside. More significantly, he didn't get sucked into the C.C.-stakes and, so far, has resisted trading his best chip, Jonathan Sanchez, for a plate o' third-base shrimp. This winter calls for patience, and other than telling Rafael to go take a flying Furcal with the quick-strike courtship of Renteria, Sabean has exercised it. If Sabean can't stand the madness of the 24/7 bloggariffic rumor crapfest, which Baggs eloquently and thoughtfully described in an earlier post, he needs to move to Bhutan. Maybe he'll find a third baseman there.

Omar in Dodger Blue or Padre Brown?

photo by mattmed

Andrew Baggarly of the Merc-News blogs that the Dodgers or Padres may sign Vizquel to a deal. I loved his defense but he simply could not hit anymore. He was barely better than Brian Bocock.

See ya, CC

He's not coming to San Francisco for the sake of living in Northern California. The LA Times reports that he's signed a 7-year deal with the Yanks for $160 million. That doesn't make Zito's $126 million deal look any less painful.

MLB.com's Chris Haft has an intriguing post on the Giants web site saying that the Giants were willing to top the Brewers' offer of five years for $100 million. The most interesting stuff is at the end of the post, after he notes that the Giants are interested in the Big Unit:Insiders said that the Giants have expressed interest in right-hander Brad Penny, who earned $9.25 million last season. Other free-agent starters who could be more affordable include Paul Byrd, Jon Garland and Randy Wolf. Oliver Perez and Ben Sheets also could be intriguing possibilities.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Teixeira won't be in the Orange and Black

photo by lprocks82

Deep within a longer-than-needed story focusing on Brian Sabean pouring cold water on a deal for CC Sabathia -- calling him a "fallback" option and saying there's no plan for a formal meeting -- Andrew Baggarly of the Merc-News drops a bit of a bombshell:

The Giants also have ruled out free agent Mark Teixeira. While Scott Boras's suite is directly across the hall from the Giants headquarters, the agent demanded a 10-year contract for the switch-hitting first baseman and Sabean summarily ended the meeting.

In my humble opinion, THAT is the lead. Here you have the agent for the best available hitter saying "go to hell" to the team with the worst offense in the MLB. So their solution was to overpay for yet another fading veteran (Edgar Renteria) and play footsie with Sabathia in hopes that he'll accept $40 million or so less than the Yanks are offering. If you read the rest of the article, you'll see that the only other signing that seems likely is Rich Aurilia and maybe The Big Unit.

Sabean's basic idea toward fixing the offense seems to consist of hoping that Pablo Sandoval is going to start hitting like Willie Mays.

What recession?

Giants still want CC but lower ticket prices

It's an interesting juxtaposition of stories in today's SF Chron -- John Shea reports that the Giants are seriously considering a run at CC Sabathia and Henry Schulman reports that they've lowered 2009 ticket prices. So here's a guy that the Giants think they may be able to get, even though he's been offered $140 million by the Yanks, while the Giants are planning to operate with lower revenues.

Well, good luck with all that.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The HOF veterans committee gets it right

Fortunately, Maury Wills was not elected today; Joe Gordon was. The fact that Wills -- one of the most over-rated players ever -- was even under consideration is something of an embarrassment and something of a triumph of hype over substance. Wills had the good fortune to win one of the worst MVP elections in 1962 when Mays, Aaron and FRobby were clearly the better players; he also lucked out by playing on teams that won World Series in 1959, 1963 and 1965 in which he wasn't anywhere close to being the best player. One could make a case that those teams won despite Wills running them out of rallies as he compiled the fourth highest caught stealing total in MLB history while his total SBs is only 19th. When Dodger fans insist that Wills should be in the Hall of Fame, they only deepen their reputations as beachball-obsessed dingbats.

None of the post-1943 candidates were elected though Ron Santo came the closest.

Aurilia to the Cubs?

47 pitches in 6 innings

photo by TheENDZONE

That's what Greg Maddux needed to get his final MLB win back on Sept. 27 at Mays Field against the Giants in a discouraging 2-1 loss for the Orange and Black.

Even though Maddux is a sure Hall of Famer, that's an appallingly high amount of hacking at bad pitches (38 strikes, 9 balls) from a guy who was 6-13 at the time. The Giants didn't get a walk. And of course, the losing pitcher was Matt Cain. They got 4 hits -- a homer by Winn and singles by Vizquel, Schierholtz and Velez.

The next day was the final day of the season for the Orange and Black, a glorious 3-1 vic for Tim. It may have also been Omar's last game. In his last at bat, he singled for his 2,657th hit.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

CC's still on the Giants list

photo by I_LUV_594

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Merc reports that the Giants are still considering making a run at CC Sabathia. And he notes that the other acqusition candidates he mentions -- Pat "The Bat" Burrell, Adam Dunn, Edwin Encarnacion and Jorge Cantu -- all are defensive liabilities.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports mentions deep in his column that the Giants are also interested in Garrett Atkins of the Rox.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Why the Giants are mired in mediocrity

It seems the recent skepticism posted at Only Baseball Matters over how the Renteria deal reflects poorly on the Giants front office has now generated the accusation that the author's just an angry Giants fan. That's a typically empty debating tactic. In any case, John's elaborated very coherently in this response (boldface is mine) --

The Red Sox signed Dave Roberts to be a pinch runner, we signed him to be our starting center-fielder. Randy Winn or Aaron Rowand wouldn’t crack the starting lineups for most contending teams, they are our two best players. When are we gonna sign a real player? When are we gonna be in the running for somebody that everyone agrees is the best free agent out there? I’ll tell you when…. Never, because we keep pissing away tens of millions of dollars on guys who can be replaced for the major-league minimum.
Shooting for respectability is completely wrong, we need to either wait for the system to start producing, or shoot for real players. But now, when the time comes to come up with the money to land that real player, these $5, $7 and $9 million dollar deals have hamstrung the organization. The money doesn’t grow on trees. The $18 million dollars Dave Roberts just stole from the team while stealing his 36 bases is gone.
And it will be used as an excuse for not going after Texeira, I guarantee you.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Jonathan Sanchez for Jorge Cantu?

The Big Unit in the Orange and Black?

photo by logawv

John Shea of the SF Chron reports the Giants have had discussions with Randy Johnson's agent. It seems that the phrase "San Francisco Giants youth movement" needs a qualifier, like "except for exceptions."

Meanwhile, another pitcher over 40 named Greg Maddux is retiring. Maddux, 42, has demolished the Giants for many years. He's also a lot younger than Johnson, who turned 45 in September. Johnson's even a year older than Barry Bonds.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Brian Sabean's obsession with old players

It's truly mind-boggling that the Giants keep talking about how they want to go young and then keep collecting older players on the declining side of their careers such as Renteria and Howry -- even though the only time this has really worked for them was with Barry Bonds -- and find themselves with no offense, shaky pitching and guys who get banged up all the time.

Keith Law at ESPN has a silly post saying that he likes the Renteria deal a lot because it somehow represents a change in operating philosophy; John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters says it's a terrible deal and that Law is out of his mind:

Are you fucking kidding me? In what world does signing an old player mean you’re not signing old players anymore? For a team that has had to deal with one albatross contract after another over the last decade, contracts that have then been used as an excuse for not going out and getting the one or two players they’ve needed to solve their problems, the one or two players who could have been the difference between a championship and not, a team with no chance whatsoever to contend next season, and who absolutely have to do everything they possibly can to begin the process of fielding a team that is younger than me; signing the soon to be 34-year old Renteria is making the exact same mistake they’ve been making since they passed on Vladimir Guerrerro because they were paying his salary to JT Snow and Marvin Benard.

Sabean: forget Manny in the Orange and Black

Another Rennie Stennett?

Edgar in the Orange and Black

Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports it's a done deal for 2 years at $18.5 million. He says the official announcement will come this afternoon.

The NY Daily News is reporting that the Giants may be offering CC a deal that's over $100 million but under the $140 million from Yanks.

I'm no economic expert, but it certainly seems as if the strong interest in free agents may be an manifestation of confidence that this recession will eventually be over.

Early shopping for the Orange and Black

photo by shellykolger

The Giants have been among the busiest teams in the off-season and Henry Schulman of the SF Chron reports that the deal for 33-year-old Edgar Renteria will probably be announced today. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick says the deal's nearly done.

John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters believes it's more of the same wrongheaded approach from Sabean -- overpaying for veteran talent that's on the decline. I'm afraid to say that OBM's points are pretty convincing:

-- So, it appears that our beloved Giants are still trapped in their unimaginative, business as usual, overpay for mediocrity, mode of building a team. $9 million per, for a player whose best years are far, far behind him, on a team that will struggle to win 75 games

-- 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.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Howry in the Orange and Black

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Higher ticket prices when Tim pitches

Giants probably not seeking the Big 3

That's Teixeira, Manny and CC, according to the latest report from mlb.com's Chris Haft. Instead, here's the latest list of likely candidates -- Bobby Howry, Orlando Hudson, Rafael Furcal, Edgar Renteria, Juan Orlando Cabrera, Casey Blake, Joe Crede, Adam Dunn, J.J. Hardy, Bill Hall and Dan Uggla. He adds this nugget at the end -- Jonathan Sanchez appears to be the most likely starter to be traded, since Sabean has repeated that right-hander Matt Cain is off-limits.

A vote for a Rich comeback

Paul Rice at Bugs and Cranks has an insightful and amusing post about the Giants declining to offer arbitration to Rich Aurilia. Paul's hoping that Richie will be back anyhow as the supersub because he's a better gloveman than Eugenio Velez and because there's still plenty of affection for Richie among the Orange and Black fans. Here's how he put it --

Prodigal son stories are also fun in their own right, so with all these factors, expect the Giants to at lest seriously look into re-signing him. Most important of all in this, though, is that Aurilia is a beloved Giant. Even though his second stint with the Black and Orange wasn’t great, fans still regard him fondly from his 1998-2003 days. There was his monster year in 2001, his big hits in the 2002 playoffs, his uncanny ability to rake line drives just one pitch after getting dusted by a high and tight fastball. He was one of the key players during the Giants’ 1997-2002 glory years, and we love him for it. I remember scanning the racks at the Giants dugout store ready to blow 99 bucks on a Richie jersey back in his Giant heyday. Not Bonds, not Kent, but Rich-ay! I even grew an absolutely hideous goatee my senior year in high school in his honor (looking back at those pictures with that patch of greasy-looking mulch on my face has made me vow to never again grow facial hair of any sort).

Monday, December 01, 2008

It's looking like Renteria will be the guy