Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Support this team at your own risk"

John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters has a bracing analysis of the Mark DeRosa deal, asserting that it's more of the same kind of signing of a mediocre player. As usual, John doesn't pull his punches in a direct response to the ongoing incompetence of Brian Sabean. I think he makes excellent points -- particularly given that Giant fans have plenty of options on how to spend their time and money. Anyhow, he believes that Sabean is giving the fans a big "F.U." Here's part of his response --

After over 45 years of watching other teams celebrate championships (including teams that didn’t even exist when the Giants moved to San Francisco), other teams draft, develop and support championship-level players while you throw away draft choices and go out of your way to acquire one bum after another…. you should be ashamed of yourself. You and the San Francisco Giants ownership group, –every single one of you– should hang your heads in shame, as you go through the motions, pretending to be interested in ending a drought that has lasted the entire time the team has been in this city.

Lowering Orange and Black expectations

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury-News writes that Giants fans should be pleased that the team didn't make a big signing this year, given how poorly most of the recent ones (Zito, Matt Morris, Rowand, Roberts, Renteria -- and he didn't even mention Blownitez) have worked out. He says that it might make sense to change the roster this way: I’d probably try to gut it out with the roster core that I had–even without the big bopper acquisition–and maybe even try to pare back, instead of adding on. By that I mean, maybe I’d go NBA-style: Offer Jonathan Sanchez or Brian Wilson (high-ERA relievers don’t always have long shelf lives) in a trade as enticement for taking Aaron Rowand’s deal off of my hands.

Essentially, all those bad deals have made it impossible to get much better. Kawakami contends that without any more changes, though, it's going to be more of the same next year -- Net projection for 2010: Unless Pablo Sandoval turns into Albert Pujols, the Giants will probably score about 657 runs, which was their total in 2009 and was 123 fewer than the division-winning Dodgers.
Basically, for 2010, the Giants need Lincecum, Cain & Co. to pitch at least as well as they did last season, which might not be possible, and, even if it happens, still might not get them to 95 victories.
But they also seem determined not to do anything this December that screws them up for December 2010, 2011 and 2012. Maybe that’s the truest sign of the beginning of the Neukom Era.
Austerity now, to make up for the bad splurges of the past. Might not be an exciting December, but they’ve done worse.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The best moment of the decade


Paulie at Give Em Stankeye has a terrific post -- plus this shot at the end of the 2002 NLCS -- that ranks each Giants team of the last 10 years. I agree with him -- for me, the moment where David Bell slid across the plate on Kenny Lofton's single was right up there with Game 3 of the 1962 Playoffs. He ranks the 2009 team at the No. 6 slot with this commentary -- 6. 2009 Giants (88-74)It was a fun, inspiring season, but this squad was clearly the worst of the winning Giants teams, simply because they couldn't freaking hit. An insanely good pitching staff and defense led the team to a suprising run to 88 wins, albeit peppered with more than its fair share of emotionally devastating losses (dare I bring up that game in Colorado?). All I have to say about next year is: beware the Plexiglass Principle.

OOO-REE-BAY

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

DeRosa comes clean about 2009

Adios, Bengie Molina

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Orange and Black first base puzzle solved?

I've complained loudly about the lack of production from Giant first basemen going back all the way back to Will Clark's departure 16 years ago. Chris Haft at MLB.come notes that now, the Panda will play first base and hopefully hit like Stretch, the Baby Bull and The Thrill.

De Rosa did hit a career-high 23 HRs last year at age 34 after hitting 21 in 2008. It looks like he's learned how to hit for power as he's gotten older.

And I've got to say -- Sabean sure loves older guys, doesn't he? It's amazing to me that Sandoval got to play as a regular at age 21 but I guess they were desperate, what with the immortal Jose Castillo stinking up the joint. Jose hasn't gotten an MLB job since the end of 2008. The signing also points up the Giants' utter inability to develop decent position players other than the Panda....and hopefully, Buster Posey.

MC O'Connor at Raising Matt Cain calls DeRosa the MLB Swiss Army knife. But he's not impressed -- It would be nice if it were a younger player with upside, but that's not our way. At least, not with position players. I like our young pitchers and their upside, but this "one-Aaron-Rowand-at-a-time" philosophy of lineup construction is a teeth-gritting affair. Aaron Rowand's career line? Glad you asked: .280/.339/.448 for a .788 OPS and 102 OPS+. And now Mr. DeRosa's: .275/.343/.424 for a .767 OPS and 97 OPS+. Toss in FSanchez and that is the very definition of "league average." In fact, the NL last season had an average line of .259/.330/.409, only a .739 OPS, so we've got surplus of average we can spread around!

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports the Giants appear like to re-sign Juna Uribe and have had interest in Adrian Beltre but I'd be surprised if the Giants sign him. The club now has 3 guys who can play third -- Sandoval, DeRosa and Freddy Sanchez -- and a fourth if they sign Uribe.

DeRosa deal done

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News is reporting that Mark DeRosa has passed his physical and that the Giants will officially announce the deal Tuesday. Here's the key verbiage -- DeRosa was pursued by the Cardinals and Yankees, among other teams, but he’s considered a prime addition for the Giants because his versatility enables them to cast a wide net as they look for another bat.
For example, they could play DeRosa in left field and re-enter talks for third baseman Adrian Beltre. Or they could stick DeRosa at third and look for an outfielder that could be better equipped to hit at the top of the order. And with Juan Uribe getting close to returning, too, there should be plenty of roster flexibility for Manager Bruce Bochy — and insurance in case shortstop Edgar Renteria doesn’t have anything left.
Wherever DeRosa ends up playing, it appears Pablo Sandoval will be moving to first base.

The Tim and Barry show

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury-News has a long but entertaining post about how Tim and Barry have captured the "spirit of the year," whatever that is. He admits several times that he was wrong in advocating the trade of Lincecum for Alexis Rios, asserts that Tim is performing like Koufax at his peak and then goes into detail about the aftermath of the disastrous Barry Zito signing. Here's a couple of nice lines --

--Every fifth day, Lincecum rules the land, and he has done it without hitting support to speak of and on a team that has needed him so desperately it probably hurts Bruce Bochy to even fully digest the need. He’s Sandy Koufax, at his peak, in our midst.
--Lincecum’s a cool head, who knows exactly how good he is, and doesn’t need paid supplicants to tell him so. He’s the star the Giants thought they were getting in Zito.

Here's some of the verbiage about Zito --

-- The Giants run the media operation in this town, and Zito is the guy they protect…
In a tough town, this would’ve never happened. In New York, Zito would’ve been a ridiculous joke–and possibly run off–a year ago. Here, the Giants protect him. I don’t think it’s to their benefit, but it’s their choice. They’re praying he comes around. Prayer does not equal fact, however.

-- No question, Zito had an up-turn in performance this season, to 10-13, and a 4.03 ERA, and he was even a good starter for about a month there. The Giants were above .500 in his starts last season. But still, he’s 31-43 in his three seasons as a Giant. He has a 4.56 ERA over that span. He’ll turn 31 next May. And Bochy has to treat him like a China Basin Doll, which worked OK in 2009 but thrashed the bullpen: Zito went 6 innings or less in 21 of his 32 starts in 2009. (64 or his 97 career Giants starts have been 6 innings or less.)
-- Even at his best these days, Zito is a propped-up, catered-to mediocrity whose contract has kept the Giants from going after top-tier free agents ever since he signed. They can’t afford to spend that kind of money again, they might have to dump Cain soon in order to afford Lincecum plus Zito’s money, and even if they could look to pay a pitcher again, they don’t ever want to get burned like they got by Zeet.

As for Rios -- Kawakami wanted to swap Lincecum for him after he'd hit 24 HRs for the Jays. Less than two years later, the Jays waived him off the roster.

Hasta la vista, Gascan Howry

The Arizona Republic is reporting that Bobby Howry has signed a deal with the Dbacks. That's just fine with me. I never liked him and now, he's someone else's problem. He had a knack for blowing big games while in the Orange and Black. He was OK if the game wasn't on the line, but he folded up like a card table and choked away at least 8 games this season, including three that ended in walkoff homers. As the season went on, Bochy became less and less likely to use him in pressure situations. Here are some of the more painful games Howry gave away this year while "earning" $2.75 million --

Sept. 12 -- combined with Valdez to give up five runs in the 7th against the Dodgers in a must-win game.

Aug. 20 -- gives up walkoff homer to the Reds.

July 21 -- helps convert a 3-3 game to an 11-3 loss.

July 17 -- gives up walkoff homer to Pirates.

July 1 -- gives up walkoff homer to Cards.

June 2 -- gives up 5-4 lead to Nats in the 8th

April 28 -- converts a 3-3 tie to the Dodgers in the 9th into a 5-3 loss.

April 15 -- converts 4-2 Giants lead in LA in the 8th to 5-4 loss.

Sabean signed this guy despite his having a plus 5 ERA in 2008. What a dingbat.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Big Sadowski goes to Korea

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pat the Bat in the Orange and Black?

Mark Polishuk at MLB Trade Rumors suggests the "power-starved" Giants as a possibility, if Mark DeRosa doesn't accept the Giants offer and Tampa Bay is willing to eat some of Pat "The Bat" Burrell's salary.

He lists the Mets, Braves, Cards and Chisox as other possibilities. Here's what he says about the Giants: Or, the power-starved Giants could acquire Burrell to play in left, and then sign DeRosa to play third base, thus moving Pablo Sandoval over to first. (Or, Sandoval plays 1B, DeRosa plays 2B and Freddy Sanchez moves over to 3B.) If the Rays pay some of Burrell's contract, then he is a much cheaper option for San Francisco than Johnny Damon.

Burrell has racked some impressive numbers in 10 MLB seasons with 265 HRs. Even with the lousy season with the Rays, he still has a lifetime .363 OBP and a .475 SLG. The Bat is now 33 and grew up in San Jose.

One reason to like him -- Pat hit the gamewinning homer in the 6th off Derek Lowe in Game 1 of the NLCS in 2008 against the Dodgers, starting the Blew Crew down their path to yet another postseason humiliation.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

DeRosa leaning toward SF?

Uribe back in the Orange and Black?

That's what Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports is reporting. He and Jeremy Affeldt were by far the best free agent signings for the Giants during the last offseason.

"Like some rich jock steals a prom date"

That's a great line from Dodgerhater, who has a nice analysis of why it's "slower than molasses in wintertime" right now for the Orange and Black. He also has posted a very funny Scott Boras drawing. He believes that Mark DeRosa is going to wind up being the best option for the Giants. Here's the key verbiage --

Despite the fact that Bay and Holliday are the far-and-away best players on the wire, there are only 4 teams interested in each of them due to monetary constraints. And since the Gyros are one of those four teams, you can basically draw it down to 3 teams each.With that said, these two guys are going to set the market, and it's not going to be until January at the earliest. These guys, due to their agents' hubris, believe that a bidding war will somehow ensue and they will both end up with a contract somewhere between Carlos Lee money and Mark Teixeira money.It is because of this delay, that the rest of the action is delayed. Even guys who shouldn't be affected by an outfield market will stand pat. For example, the Mariners want to keep Adrian Beltre at 3B. However, they also want Jason Bay. If they sign Beltre (who won't sign yet because his agent is Scott Boras), then they're out of Bay stakes. Then Bay has 3 teams to choose from (if you include the Giants)... meanwhile, Beltre is out there somewhere dismissing overtures from teams for good money, even though his market just shrank with the Bay signing (by whomever).Then of course there is the arbitration issue. The Giants are the most affected team by arbitration in the league. The Blue Bastards have their arby issues too, but who the hell cares about their problems.

For Sabean, it's a guessing game. Depending on how much Lincecum/Wilson/Sanchez get, that's how much they really have to spend. As I wrote here a couple months ago, we shouldn't expect any miracles this offseason, and that once the arby hearings go through and those guys get their raises, we'll have a real figure of $10-16MM to spend this offseason.So, if you take the conservative look at salary availability ($10-12MM), and look at the recent 2yr./$12MM offer to Mark DeRosa, you can see that there will probably be between $4-6MM left over if DeRosa signs.The DeRosa offer is reasonable and can definitely be filed under the category of positive action. For that I'm glad.The only problem is, we're competing directly against the Yankees who just stole Nick Johnson away from us like some rich jock steals a prom date.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Decker moved up to Fresno

Steve Decker has been promoted to manage the Frenso Grizzlies, which makes me wonder how much longer the Giants will keep Bruce Bochy as manager if the club reverts to being crappy next season. Bruce signed a two-year extension in October with a club option for 2012. I haven't been impressed at all with how he's handled the offense -- with the hacktastic approach leading to one of the worst offenses in memory -- but the pitching staff is certainly making him look like he's at least adequate.

If Jonathan Sanchez starts performing consistently in 2010, maybe I will feel a bit better about Bruce.

The story by Ken Gurnick of mlb.com is extremely annoying in that it doesn't bother mentioning who the previous Fresno manager was. The Frenso Bee story says it was Dan Rohn, who's gone to manage the Las Vegas 51s. The Bee story is also inept, in that it doesn't note that Vegas clubs is the Dodgers' PCL club.

I barely remember Decker even being a Giant but he got more ABs in 1991 than any other catcher with 238, even though his line was a .206 average, .266 OBP and a .309 SLG. That was the most he ever played during an undistinguished 7-year career. He was the opening day starter that year and went 0-for-2 with 2 walks in a 7-4 loss to the Padres. The first five guys in the lineup -- Robbie Thompson, Willie McGee, The Thrill, Kevin Mitchell and Matt Williams -- seem like a pretty good team. But the bottom of the lineup was Kevin Bass, Decker and Mike Benjamin. The team went 75-87 as the top 5 had pretty decent seasons; The Thrill finished fourth in the MVP race (Terry Pendleton won a completely unjustifiable MVP over Bonds); Trevor Wilson had his best year at 13-11 with a 3.56 ERA; and the new closer, Dave Righetti, saved 24 games. But everyone else was pretty ordinary.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bonds -- No. 3 for the decade

Rob Neyer of ESPN rated the top 100 players and decided that Barry ranked third behind Albert Pujols and A-Rod. Bonds finished ahead of Jeter and Ichiro. Neyers' comment -- Yes, he ranks third despite not having played in 2008 or '09. Deal with it. (And if this helps, Bonds was, for five years, probably the most feared hitter in the history of the game.)

Neyer obviously placed a premium on years of service and durability -- despite the back to back Cy Youngs, Tim Lincecum didn't make the list. The Big Unit was at No. 18, Jeff Kent came in 33rd and Zito was 48th. Here's how Neyer defended that selection: Hey, it's not his fault the Giants thought he was worth $126 million. One big plus: Since coming up with the A's in 2000, Zito hasn't spent a single day on the disabled list.

Ray Durham wound up in 71st, Edgar Renteria was 74th and Randy Winn was 80th. And as best as I can tell, Mariano Rivera's the only closer on the list at No. 24.

UPDATE -- I screwed up and wrote K-Rod instead of A-Rod orginally, leading to Paulie's comment. K-Rod isn't on the list.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Panda pounds away in Venezuela

Whining about the Yankees

Gary Peterson of the Oakland Tribune writes about how unfair it is that the Giants lost out to the Yankees for the services of Nick Johnson and how we've become insensitive to the inevitability of Yankee dominance. I'm not impressed. Winning a pennant isn't impossible IF YOU USE YOUR RESOURCES WELL. The Giants were in contention until the last weekend of the season, thanks to otherworldy pitching. If the Giants weren't operated as incompetently as they are, they could have gotten the additional two or three or four wins they needed. Instead, they traded away two of their best prospects for Ryan Garko and Freddy Sanchez.

Frankly, this feels like nonsense from someone who's unwilling to admit that it's the fault of the Giants front office that they're in this spot. In other words, Peterson's just another apologist for Brian Sabean. Rob Neyer at ESPN is more of a gentleman than me and calls it "stale soup," noting that the Rox, Brewers and Twins have made it to the postseason recently with lower payrolls than the Orange and Black. Neyer believes that it's the outfield that's the problem (boldface is mine):

Not that I'm telling the Giants how to spend their money. But I'm not sure that first base should be one of their top priorities. At least Travis Ishikawa might be good enough, eventually (particularly if he's got a decent platoon partner). The last time I checked, the Giants don't have even one outfielder who's going to put up National League-average numbers. I know there aren't many outfielders available this winter. But there aren't many first basemen, either. I would rather have Johnny Damon than Adam LaRoche.

LaRoche in the Orange and Black?

Andy Bensch at Bleacher Report contends that the Adam LaRoche is the best available free agent left and contends that the Giants should pull the trigger on a 3-year deal worth $24 million or so. Here's the key parts:

-- Of all the free-agent bats the Giants have been linked to at corner infield, Laroche has the highest slugging percentage of all of them. With a mark of .491, Laroche out sluggs Dan Uggla (.482), Mark DeRosa (.424), Adrian Beltre (.453) and the aforementioned Johnson (.447).

-- A 24-27 million dollar deal over three years sounds like a good comprise considering initial reports stated LaRoche wanted 31 million over three years. Knowing how the Giants are extremely conservative on how they spend their money, they are probably going to wait until Laroche's demands fall to either 18-20 million over three years or if Laroche drops the third year. But if San Francisco waits for that to happen, they may miss out on signing him just like they missed out on signing Johnson.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

No green from the Orange and Black

Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle has a long column that essentially asserts that the Giants aren't going to be able to lure a decent hitter during this offseason because they don't have any extra money and because no one wants to play in the park. I'm not sure if he's completely right -- and there's no sourcing at all on any of the key points, such as Nick Johnson turning down more money and Jason Bay not wanting to play at all in San Francisco.

Still, the main point is about the Giants not being willing to spend any more than $92 million. Here's the key verbiage:

The ballpark is an issue not because nobody can hit home runs there but because there are lots of other places where a fellow can hit a lot of home runs. Nick Johnson apparently took slightly less money ($5.5 million as opposed to $6 million) to sign with the Yankees, who play in a refrigerator box.
Makes a person wonder if maybe the staunch refusals to modify the dimensions shouldn't be revisited. I mean, it's a ballpark, not the Hermitage. If it were that sacred a place, it wouldn't already have been wed shotgun-style to three telephone companies.
That won't happen, of course, not while Larry Baer draws breath and a salary.
But the money issue is real - again, because the budget is capped in the $92.5 million range, and there is no wiggle room to take on a lot of extra cash or years on contracts. The truth of the rumor that the Giants offered real money and years to Bay is nebulous because according to sources, Bay (or his agent) made it clear before talks even began in earnest that there weren't enough dollars or years to make him play in San Francisco.
Sabean speaks often of "resources" without actually citing what the resources actually are, but we know that most of the spare money is already spoken for, between the signing of Freddy Sanchez to a new deal and pending arbitration for Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson.
We also know that the days of deficit spending at King Street are gone, at least for the foreseeable future, because the one guy who didn't blink at a cash call, Harmon Burns, has passed, and the woman who inherited his piece of the team and his willingness to stretch the budget, Sue Burns, is gone as well.

The baseball Gods DO exist

A big Giants Win hat tip to Paulie at Give Em Some Stankeye for his matchless commentary on the signing of Tony Pena Jr. earlier in the week: The Giants signed erstwhile living Joe Posnanski punchline Tony Pena Jr. to a minor league contract, causing me to do an epic spit take. Now, when I heard this, I hadn't realized that Pena had already made the conversion from legendary offensive eunuch to budding reliever; I thought the transition was still in the rumor stages. Thus, I rolled my eyes when I heard the news, figuring here was a guy with a good defensive rep who the Giants would find way too much playing time for. Think Neifi Perez from Hell, if you can even begin to comprehend that. In reality, the Giants signed him to give him a shot to contribute out of the bullpen. I guess it could work out, in theory. The guy has a good arm. Still, it's sad that this is the most exciting bit of Giants news right now as the baseball world is bustling with blockbuster moves. It does give me the chance to repeat my favorite Tony Pena Jr. factoid though, that in the midst of a season where he was hitting .169/.189/.209, he was for some reason intentionally walked twice.

That's a link to an epic 2006 blog post by Joe Posnanski, who said he would have fired Blue Jays manager John Gibbons on the spot for giving Pena Jr. an intentional walk. Here's part of the post: I’m just telling you that intentionally walking Tony Pena Jr. or any other light-hitting middle infielder hitting .150 would be a fireable offense on my team. I’d have that written on a clubhouse sign.
And Gibbons (or whoever) would tell me how the walk set up the double play, tell me how by walking Pena they got the lefty-lefty matchup they wanted, tell me that in that situation, down two balls, you HAVE to walk Pena because any major league hitter becomes dangerous ahead 2-0 in the count and blah blah blah. Thank you. Please have your desk cleared by 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.
In this case, the Baseball Gods were as offended as I was, and the next batter — David DeJesus — scoffed at the whole leftty-lefty thing and drilled a single that scored two runs. Then Alberto Callaspo hit a single that scored another. The Royals snapped their losing streak and won 8-4. It was just. It was right. I’m not an owner, and it’s good thing.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Aubrey Huff in the Orange and Black?

That's the suggestion from Nick Cannata-Bowman at Croix De Candlestick. His argument is that he's not going to over-priced following a down season --

With the exception of a couple down years, Huff represents the best value for the production we can likely expect. He’s essentially like LaRoche and Garko in terms of ability only with better platoon splits. And since Garko’s not coming back due to his alleged tenuous relationship with Bruce Bochy, that leaves us with Adam LaRoche’s demands for a three year $31.5 million contract. Or Aubrey Huff for a one year deal that doesn’t leave as hamstrung a la Aaron Rowand.
Now if Huff doesn’t hit, then we’re none the worse. Our other option would be to overpay for Beltre, a Scott Boras client nonetheless, and deal with the second coming of Pedro Feliz for three to four years. And with Dan Uggla looking like less and less of a possibility, halfway decent hitters are getting harder to find. I’ve been over the list of possible targets more times than I’d like to count, and trust me, this is a last ditch kind of effort to dig up some semblance of offense out of what is turning into a largely disappointing offseason.


Nick notes that Huff hasn't been mentioned anywhere in trade rumors. He'll be 33 and was traded this season from the Orioles to the Tigers on Aug. 17. He's only one season removed from putting some fine numbers as an Oriole -- 32 HRs, 108 RBIs, .304 average, .360 OBP and .552 slugging. He even finished 16th in the MVP voting. But he was pretty bad once he got to Detroit. In fact, he was almost the same as Ryan Garko in his awfulness with 2 HRs and 13 RBIs in 117 plate appearances and a line of .189 batting average, .262 OBP and a .302 slugging.

Here's how Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors saw it two months ago -- Aubrey Huff wasn't great in 2006 (.267/.344/.469), but he still found a three-year, $21MM offer from the Orioles that winter. Surprisingly, Huff cranked out a .304/.360/.552 performance in 2008, ranking fifth in the AL in slugging. Huff was mainly a DH at that point, perhaps one reason why he cleared waivers.
Huff wasn't nearly as successful this year; he hit .241/.310/.384 in 597 plate appearances for the Orioles and Tigers. He was especially awful after the August 17th trade to Detroit.
Huff turns 33 in December, and his stock is down as he enters free agency. He logged 826 innings at first base this year, so we can't rule out an NL job. But does any team envision Huff as a regular player? Can he expect more than $2-3MM?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Nick Johnson not in the Orange and Black

The Yankees official web site has just posted a story that says Nick Johnson's near a one-year $5.5 million deal to don the pinstripes. Unfortunately, he was probably the most desirable free agent that the Giants could afford. The story also says the signing means the Yanks aren't going to sign Johnny Damon, so maybe that's who the Giants will pursue now.

Grant at McCovey Chronicles says it means that this offseason's not going to amount to very much -- I'm not going to blame the Giants for not trading Madison Bumgarner for a pre-arbitration cleanup hitter who doesn't exist. I'm not going to blame them for not wanting to part with Thomas Neal or Jonathan Sanchez for Dan Uggla.
So I'll spend the rest of the offseason gritting my teeth about the Aaron Rowand and Barry Zito contracts, and just hoping that some how, some way, the Giants fall into an average offense next year. If they sign Mark DeRosa for three years, I'll weep a little bit, but then I'll hope he improves the team for next year, and next year only. If they sign Adam LaRoche for a huge contract, even though he's a marginal improvement over Ryan Garko, I'll grumble and spit, and then I'll hope LaRoche makes the Giants a better team in 2010.
What I'm trying to say is that I'm giving up any hope for a good offseason. There isn't a permutation of players that will result in sound short- and long-term planning. There isn't a magical wizard who is going to come down from the sky and bless the Giants with prudent-yet-aggressive decision making. This isn't Seattle. I'm expecting a disaster of a contract -- something that will end as messily as Randy Winn's deal. So now that I've resigned myself to that mess, I'm focused on hoping that there's at least one good season that the team can wring out of the player(s) in question.
I'm hoping for an average offense built on the backs of players likely to decline. Is that too much to ask? The "players likely to decline" part is a given, so I'm trying to find a way to still be slightly optimistic.

Jamey Carroll in Dodger Blue?

Talk about an unimpressive signing -- a deal for a second baseman with zilch power. This guy is the very definition of what used to be called a banjo hitter in the mold of Hal Lanier. I guess the Dodgers feel that they have enough power in the outfield and don't feel like paying someone like Orlando Hudson another $8 million next year, what with the Dodger owners battling it out in divorce court.

Hard to believe that Frank McCourt OKd the signing of anyone named Jamey. Thanks, I'm here all week. Carroll does have decent OBP but no power at all. He has 12 HRs in over 2,500 plate appearances.

Actually, the comparison to Hal Lanier is unfair. Lanier was a truly awful hitter with a career .255 OBP over 10 years.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sabean's errand boy slams Boras

The dreadful Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle is at it again, covering up for Brian Sabean's incompetence. This time, he's decided to dredge up Sabean's recent slam at Scott Boras, who had the audacity to point out that the Giants have a crappy offense as part of his efforts to get Adrian Beltre a new deal. (The slam is deep within a bunch of pointless ramblings in the Three Dot Lounge post). I suppose that now that Barry Bonds has been out of the game for two years, it's time for Bruce to get on the Scott Boras Hate Train.

Maybe it's just me, but doesn't it seem a tad ironic that Bruce is on the side of a guy who's demonstrably one of the worst GMs in MLB? And that he's while telling us that we need to hate on a guy who's quite simply doing his job -- in this case, getting his clients the best possible deal?
If I were running the Chronicle, I would tell Jenkins to stop kissing up to his sources and break some news for a change.

As for Sabean, I would say it's time to grow up and do your job, instead of going around insulting an easy target like Boras.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pena Jr. in the Orange and Black

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Dodger divorce gets a date

Pretty much the only good news in the offseason for Giants is that the Dodgers aren't going to be making any big moves any times soon. Dodger owners Frank and Jamie McCourt really hate each other -- so much so that the Dodgers are going to have a hard time improving on this season's pretty decent club. The LA Times reports that there's now a May 24 trial date set to determine who owns the Dodgers and that the lawyer for Jamie McCourt called into question Frank McCourt's bookkeeping and promised "bombshell" allegations against him. The next four paragraphs reflect just how bitter all this has become:

"Mr. McCourt is not spending all of his income on his family and on the team," attorney Dennis Wasser said at Tuesday's hearing.Wasser declined to elaborate, other than to say he intends to present those allegations to debunk McCourt's claims that he is low on cash.Wasser opened his statement by saying that Frank McCourt had contracted RAIDS: "recently acquired income deficiency syndrome."
"It's an illness many people seem to have in dissolution cases," Wasser said. "We need to explore that illness and the basis of it."
Marc Seltzer, who represents Frank McCourt, countered later Tuesday in a statement: "Mr. Wasser's comments using an acronym for an illness are shameful, insensitive and reflect very poorly on Mrs. McCourt and her legal team."

Actually, the Dodgers dumped Juan Pierre -- he of the stupid 5-year, $45 million deal, given that he has no power and a crappy throwing arm -- on the Chisox, agreeing to pay $8 million of his salary. The Pale Hose are sending the Dodgers two players to be named later. I bring this up partly because Brian Sabean was also trying to sign Pierre to a deal during the offseason that the Dodgers got him.

The murky Orange and Black future

Steve Anglin at Bleacher Report suggests that the Giants may be stuck in neutral because of the passing of Sue Burns earlier this season. I must point out -- Anglin doesn't give any specific factual information, just speculation: Giants ownership may be in disarray financially, given the passing of Sue Burns. The passing of Sue Burns, the Principle Owner, has put pressure on ownership to not spend, due to legal and/or financial restraints.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Slamming Sabean

RJ Anderson at Fangraphs says letting Garko walk away is stupid. So does Lefty Malo. They argue that at 28, Garko's likely to return to form and that he got only 127 plate appearances while in a Giants uni. The bottom line is that Sabean is having to cheap out on spending a couple on million for decent right hand power because he's hampered by Sabean having burned through over $45 million -- probably over half the payroll -- on four very ordinary players (Zito, Rowand, Renteria and Freddy Sanchez). Here's what RJ says -- Either Sabean and company have absolutely no plan to speak of, or this was their plan all along: shipping off their ninth best prospect – a left-handed starting pitcher with an impressive performance in a hitter-friendly league – for what amounts to a month of plate appearances.

Lefty notes that it looks very poorly planned -- By releasing him, they lose a fallback option for right-handed power. You could be snotty and say, "well, he showed in his time with the Giants that he didn't have much power, anyway," but you would be ignoring the body of work he did in Cleveland and assuming the 120+ at-bats with S.F. were the new norm for Garko, which is hard to believe.

Garko gone

As expected, Ryan Garko was non-tendered. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News reports that the Giants have offers for Mark DeRosa, Nick Johnson and Adam Laroche. LaRoche wants a three-year deal for $31 million, according to Baggarly.

Chris Haft of MLB.com notes that Lincecum, Brian Wilson, Brandon Medders and Jonathan Sanchez are all arbitration-eligible. He also notes diplomatically that Garko was "expected to be a run producer" when he was traded to the Giants. Then he played like garbage, making Travis Ishikawa look decent by comparison.

So it goes with Brian Sabean's utter inability to find a first baseman who can hit. The only truly decent run producer since Will Clark left in 1993 has been Andres Galarraga. JT Show, you say? A wonderful glove and a wonderful guy but kept a starter for far too long. He had a career year in 1997 at the age of 29 and began a long decline after that. In his last five years as a Giant -- when he was starting most of the time -- he had a grand total of 38 homers. We've also been treated to non-productive players like Dan Ortmeier, Ryan Klesko, Jose Vizcaino, Lance Niekro, Damon Minor, Mark Sweeney and Shea Hillenbrand getting to start at first.

Travis Ishikawa is only 25 so maybe he's got a bit of upside. But on what other team would this line be acceptable for a first baseman? -- 361 plate appearances, 9 HRs, 39 RBIs, .26l average, .329 OBP and .387 SLG.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bad news for Giants fans

John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters has a fascinating post analyzing why Brian Sabean -- who was extended for two years back in October -- makes the same mistakes in evaluating players again and again, signing fading veterans to terrible deals. Here's the basic premise:

It’s like he looks at something a player has done, even if it’s only once, and he believes that that is what the player can do, or actually is. Neifi Perez had a .350 batting average once (in Colorado, of course), and he won a Gold Glove, and so, to Sabean, he is a .350 hitter with a great glove; it doesn’t matter that he hasn’t done any of those things in four or five years, or that he did it in an runs created context that outrageously inflated his numbers, or that he simply was never that good. To Sabean, once he sees a player a certain way, he always sees that player in that way. Dave Roberts made one key play in his entire baseball life, and Sabean decided that Dave Roberts makes key plays.....

....It also explains, perfectly, why he has so much resistance to playing rookies and young players. They haven’t done anything yet. Until he can see something that they have done; they aren’t players, they aren’t anything to him. So, on the Giants, rookies have about two weeks to prove themselves, unless somebody gets hurt, of course. And even then, after playing well for months, (like, say, Fred Lewis) a player on the Giants can still find that Sabean is ignoring whatever success they’ve had, because he sees them as they were, not as they are.

In other words, it's a psychotic inability to veer away from first impressions. There's simply the endless wallowing in pointless nostalgia for the past such as Dave Roberts' steal of second base, for Edgardo Alfonzo's 27-homer season in 1999, for Randy Winn's 50-hit September of 2005 and for Barry Zito's Cy Young season. Let's just speculate for a moment here -- if Roberts doesn't get the steal and gets thrown out and the Bosox don't go on to win the World Series, would the Giants' have lavished that awful deal on him? No way. Who but a nostalgic fool would look at Dave Roberts -- who received $2.25 million in 2006 from the Padres -- and decide he was suddenly worth $18 million over 3 years?

One poster named Marc had a particularly telling reaction: I think if you look back at all the signings over quite a few years, the Giants got exactly what one logically would have expected them to get. Randy Winn, Aaron Rowand, Michael Tucker, are only disappointments if you’re thinking as John suggests Sabean is thinking. You look at Randy Winn’s career, there’s no real anomalies there, he is what he is – as is Rowand. The anomalies are realities in Sabean’s head, though – it becomes bizarre that the possibility that Sanchez, say, could hit .350, is taken quite seriously, yet that Rookie X might be an All-Star if he could just fucking get some playing time gets almost zero attention.
Massive risk-aversion. Meanwhile, rookies just die on the vine – not just misused, but wasted. You take Lewis or Frandsen, go back a couple-three of years, they could’ve brought something in a trade. Now, you can’t give them away. Really foolish.

Dodger paralysis

Just a sliver of good news for Giants fans -- Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the biggest story of the winter meetings was the Dodgers utter inability to do anything due to the McCourts' marital problems. The Giants decided not to offer Bengie arbitration and lose out on a draft pick compensation; the Dodgers decided the same with Randy Wolf -- a far more valuable commodity than Bengie, in my opinion. On the one hand, you have a rallykiller who had a dismal OBP and was the slowest baserunner in MLB, so if he accepts arbitration, you're stuck with a guy whose offense will probably decline next year; on the other hand, Randy Wolf was a very solid pitcher last year; the only downside to him accepting arbitration is that you've solved the problem of your No. 2 starter slot and you have to pay him accordingly but for just a year.

As a Giants fan, I'm glad to see Bengie go, period, particularly with Posey ready to step in. I'm pleased to see the Dodgers weaken their rotation and not get any draft picks in the process.

Hasta la vista, Garko

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nick Johnson should be the one

The always insightful Paulie at Give Em Some Stankeye examines the potential Orange and Black acquisitions -- Olivo, Posednick, Kouzmanoff, Beltre, DeRosa, Jose Molina -- and comes to the painfully obvious conclusion that Nick Johnson's the only one that makes sense. It's a reflection of the awfulness of Brian Sabean's judgment that these other guys are being seriously considered. Here are some highlights --

Miguel Olivo: If the Giants think one year of Olivo is better than starting Posey early, methinks it's a sign that they don't know what they're doing.

Jose Molina: Why on Earth would any team be interested in giving a major league deal to one of the worst players you'll ever see grace a baseball field?

Mark Derosa: At 34, he's the type of guy who suddenly gets old and leaves you wondering what the hell you're paying for, kind of like Aaron Rowand. No thanks.

Scott Podsednik: Just a perfect Brian Sabean player. Short, scrappy, fast, and carrying a "gamer" reputation that masks the fact the he really sucks. In a sane world, signing him wouldn't make any sense just from a roster standpoint, but this is the Giants we're talking about. If Podsednik is brought in, it's a sign that this offseason has gone off the rails.

Kevin Kouzmanoff: Kouzmanoff is a bad fielding, hacktastic slugger who would push Pablo Sandoval to first base, thus making him less of an asset.

De Rosa in the Orange and Black?

Uggla still a Giant target

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Hasta la vista, Barry Bonds

John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Barry Bonds' agent Jeff Borris has admitted that No. 25 isn't going to make it back to the MLB -- not because he can't play but because MLB's decided he won't be allowed back. I'm sure that before long, we'll be treated to some idiotic story by Chronicle's hack-losers -- most likely, the insight-free Bruce Jenkins -- asserting how EVIL Barry is and how he's the WORST. TEAMMATE. EVER. It's part of their hacktastic and never-ending quest to blame someone else for their own incompetence in breaking real news by getting on the Bonds Hate Train once more.

Anyhow, it's a damn shame, given the fact that he can still play: "I'm sure if he they gave him two weeks in a cage, he'd be hitting amongst the best in the game right now," Borris said. "But Major League Baseball will never give him that chance."

Larry Granillo has posted at a site named wezen-ball, compiling a list of who's been the top paid players in baseball oveer the last 30 years. Bonds is on it twice, covering the period from late 1992 when he signed a six-year $43 million deal to about a month later when it was eclipsed by Cecil Fielder's deal; and again for a few months in 1997 when he signed a two-year $22 million deal and was then topped by Greg Maddux.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Kouzmanoff in the Orange and Black?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Byrd in the Orange and Black?

Bumgarner looks like the No. 5

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Orange and Black wish list

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury-News evaluates who are the most likely candidates to come to San Francisco and notes that the failure to assemble a decent lineup doomed a stellar performance by the pitching staff --

When the Giants scored at least three runs, they were 76-25, the best winning percentage in the majors. When they didn't? Try 12-49.
Even a league-average offense would have been good enough. But the Giants ranked last with a .309 on-base percentage, making them the most prodigious collection of out-makers in the major leagues.


He reports that the Marlins demanded Madison Bumgarner for Dan Uggla and says the Giants won't give up any frontline prospects or go after top-tier free agents like Matt Holliday or Jason Bay. Instead, they'll look to sign a bat at the next level --

The Giants will go shopping on the second tier. Along with Nick Johnson, that market includes first baseman Adam LaRoche, outfielder Jermaine Dye, third baseman Adrian Beltre, outfielder Xavier Nady, outfielder Johnny Damon and infielder Miguel Tejada.

Sabean = liar

The Giants missed the postseason this year because they had a terrible offense. Now we're told that Buster Posey isn't ready for the bigs, despite ample evidence to the contrary. David Pinto of Baseball Musings is too much of a gentleman to directly call Brian Sabean a flat-out liar, so I will. David's concluded that the Giants aren't really as concerned as Sabean claims by whether Posey's ready; instead, they're motivated by wanting to keep Posey in the minors long enough to keep him from being eligible for arbitration a year earlier. Here's what he posted (boldface is mine; the first two paragraphs are from John Shea's piece for the SF Chronicle, followed by David's analysis) --

It must be difficult being a Giants fan:
The Giants’ brass met several times this week in preparation for the winter meetings, which begin Monday in Indianapolis, and the feeling was Posey’s not quite ready to play every day in the big leagues, meaning the Giants will need a buffer, someone to catch regularly until Posey emerges for good.
General manager Brian Sabean said the front office had a “raging debate” over whether Posey would be the No. 1 catcher, adding, “We came to the overall conclusion it would be a tall order to ask him to do that. He just hasn’t played a lot.”
Really? In 2009,
Posey made the jump from A to AAA. He posted a .391 OBP and a .511 slugging percentage at AAA. Exactly what does he need to prove? This strikes me as the Giants wanting to keep Posey down in the minor long enough so that he’s not a super two. This is a team that needs better offense to complement their fine pitching. When Buster comes up in June, fans will need to hope that the couple of wins they didn’t get in April and May don’t keep them out of the playoffs.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Zito -- only the sixth worst contract of the decade

Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports says the Giants' deal for Zito isn't as bad as these five:
1. Darren Dreifort with the Dodgers
2. Mike Hampton with the Rox
3. Jason Schmidt with the Dodgers
4. Chan Ho Park with the Rangers
5. Andruw Jones with the Dodgers

Here's what he says -- Not sure what to say, other than the Giants gave a No. 4- or 5-quality starter $18 million a year and will continue paying him beaucoup bucks through 2013. It was stupid then. It's really stupid now. And that is that.

Why am I bringing this up now? Because it seems an appropriate time to mention that the brainiacs in the Giants front office have already declared that Buster Posey isn't ready for the MLB, according to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. My first reaction is that this is a franchise that over-values veterans -- to the detriment of young players.

Here's a guy who KILLED minor league pitching last year (including at the AAA level) and a team that NEEDS offense. What's so hard to understand? Yet another reason to fire Brian Sabean.

Who's Orange and Black trade bait?

Fred Lewis, John Bowker and Nate Schierholtz, according to Chris Haft of mlb.com. Here are the evaluations --

LF Fred Lewis: A year ago, the Giants wouldn't have considered trading Lewis, whom they considered a cornerstone of their offense. But he lost his everyday role after driving in one run in his first 26 games and struggling defensively at the outset of the season. Lewis' defenders point out that his .348 on-base percentage ranked second on the team only to Pablo Sandoval's .387. After the All-Star break, Lewis' OBP was .388. Some team should be willing to take a chance on him.
OF/1B John Bowker: San Francisco remains curious about Bowker, who led the Minors with a .451 on-base percentage and paced the Pacific Coast League with a .342 batting average for Triple-A Fresno last season. The Giants hope he can provide a homegrown solution to their hitting woes. But they wouldn't hesitate to part with him in the right deal.
OF Nate Schierholtz: His status is similar to Bowker's. If teams want Schierholtz to sweeten a trade, the Giants might accommodate them. An excellent defender, Schierholtz already has mastered AT&T Park's tricky right field. But his impressive physical strength hasn't helped him generate power at the plate (six home runs in 472 Major League at-bats).

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The honest Orange and Black truth

John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters explains why he dislikes GM Brian Sabean. Essentially, constant overspending on veterans who are far past their primes leaves the team unable to address its needs:

. The contracts of Edgardo Alfonzo, Edgar Renteria, Dave Roberts, and the endless stream of “gamers” and “character guys” and “veterans” has drained the pockets of the team. How about the $18 million dollars we gave to Reuter, who wasn’t up for renewal, was about to have his arm fall off, and didn’t deserve it? Hpw about the $10 million we gave Jason Schmidt so he could pitch three games?
The Giants have flushed, absolutely burned well over $100 million dollars in the last five or six years, on some of the worst players, signed to some of the absolute worst contracts any team has ever given any player, and Sabean’s been responsible for all of them!!
And now, even though, once again we desperately need offense, defense, youth and speed, we’re not in the running, once again, for the best player on the market, the player that fits our needs just about perfectly. Sound familiar?
Here’s what I wrote in 2004:
…. Sabean loves veterans. I just think his love for the proven commodity has distorted to the point where he overpays for it, competing against nobody. It’s been written time and again how Tom Hicks overpayed for A-Rod, basically competing against himself. Well, I think Sabean is guilty of the same thing, in many of these instances. Who was going to give Reuter the kind of money we did? Who was going to give Alfonzo $25 million? Who was going to give Nen $30 million? Who was going to give Benard $10 million? Who was going to “steal” Snow from under Sabean’s nose and give him that $24 million dollars?
Here’s what we heard from Sabean way back when Vladimir Guererro was available:
…. the SF Giants’ GM, Brian Sabean, was featured in an MLB.com chat. During the chat, he was asked whether the Giants had made an offer to Vladimir Guerrero. His response?
“In a word: No. If we had signed Guerrero or [Gary] Sheffield, we would have been without [Jim] Brower, [Scott] Eyre, [Matt] Herges, [Dustin] Hermanson, [Brett] Tomko, [A.J.] Pierzynski, [Pedro] Feliz, [J.T.] Snow, [Jeffrey] Hammonds, [Dustan] Mohr and [Michael] Tucker–obviously not being able to field a competitive team, especially from an experience standpoint, given our level of spending.”

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Dye could be an Orange and Black guy

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News sifts through the free agent pile and says two guys seem the most likely possibilites to sign with the Giants -- Jermaine Dye and Orlando Hudson -- partly because they won't cost draft picks. He's skeptical about Miguel Tejada and Damon of Nazareth, who have been linked to the Orange and Black. Here's the key verbiage:

Jermaine Dye? Now that’s a possibility. When I brought up his name at the trade deadline, and again in August, I was told that money was the stumbling block. Not the player. Not his declining defense. Not his second-half slide. It was the money. As we later discovered, Dye’s eight-figure option for 2010 would’ve kicked in if he’d been traded. And that’s the reason he wasn’t. From everything I can gather, the Giants like Dye, and because he’s a Bay Area native, it’s only natural to believe the feeling would be mutual.
One name that hasn’t been linked to the Giants is Hudson, but I’d expect he will generate some interest. Sabean has acknowledged the possibility of moving Freddy Sanchez to third base, which could open second base for Hudson. And now, as we just discovered, signing O-Dog won’t cost a draft pick, either.

Tim visits ESPN

The San Francisco Chronicle has a two-sentence story and a photo about an event that happened yesterday and simply says it's for a Sportscenter commercial. Pretty embarrassing that the local paper of record can't do any better. A reader named Hisimon posted this sarcastic comment -- Another nice long detailed piece.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

No big Orange and Black trades

Nick Cannata-Bowman has an interesting post at Croix de Candlestick about how gun-shy the Giants have become in terms of trades over the last six years since the disastrous Joe Nathan trade. Sabean's gotten deservedly bad reviews for free agent signings after that (Blownitez, Zito, Renteria, Rowand, Roberts, Klesko) but the trades since then such as the Jeremy Accardo deal have also been particularly unimpressive. Or is anyone out there pumped about the Garko deal?

Nick contends that trades are probably the only way the Giants can get better fast. I'm reluctant to endorse that strategy due to Sabean's incompetence. Here are Nick's key points:

-- The lesson to be taken here is that Sabean is reluctant to swing big deals, and when he does more often than not it’s blown up in his face. The book is still out on the Garko/Barnes and Sanchez/Alderson swaps, but the general consensus so far is that we gave up too much on our end. You see this, and then compare it with Sabean’s first move that brought future MVP Jeff Kent over in exchange for Matt Williams and it starts to become evident that our fearless leader isn’t quite as bold anymore.

-- So where did this all begin? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say on November 4, 2003. On that fateful day, the Giants dealt Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser for catcher A.J. Pierzynski. The rest, as they say, is history. Since then, our most notable acquisitions have been Dustin Mohr, Dave Burba, Latroy Hawkins, Randy Winn, and Mike Stanton. All decent role players, but no blockbusters to be found.

-- Put simply, man cannot live on free agents alone. If this team is to truly turn itself around, it needs to come from the top down. Extending Sabean and Bochy another two years wasn’t the ideal way to do this. That said, we’ll just have to work with what we have. With a free agent market where our best option at this point is Nick Johnson, there isn’t a lot of improvement to be found in that realm.

No arbitration for Bengie