The Giant homer odyssey
My guess is that Sandoval and Posey might hit 25 each this year
Supporting the San Francisco Giants since April 19, 2006
This is what a $127.5 million pitcher does.
He flirts with perfection. He mows down a weak and sleep-deprived lineup with no mercy. On a day his closer is not available, he goes nine innings. When the entire stadium is abuzz with pomp, he does his job with workaday calm.
His changeup was exceptional at times. Just about every time he caught too much of the strike zone with it, it was hit. His fastball ranged from 90-92, sitting mostly at 90 in the second and third innings. Not great, but only one of the fastballs was even put in play (the first Gonzalez triple.) There were several swing-throughs on the fastball.
Good start? Heck, no. He missed his spots several times, and he had trouble putting hitters away after getting them 0-2 or 1-2. But his stuff was good enough to get them to 0-2 and 1-2 in the first place. But a start worthy of panic? Bah. Not even close. An iffy start made worse by the vagaries of baseball, that's all it was.
However, there are some reasons to remain blindingly optimistic, besides the ridiculously small sample size: the 2003 Braves won over 100 games after allowing 41 runs in their first five games. Their starting rotation wasn’t nearly as impressive as what the Giants have. And, the Giants’ offense has shown more than just "signs of life", they’ve looked positively formidable at times. Speed, some selectiveness, and a bit of power.
But it’d be a lot easier to forget this game and how bad it was if a) it hadn’t followed a string of poor pitching performances (Zito’s masterpiece excepted, of course) and b) it wasn’t the worst start of Tim Lincecum’s career....So, right away this season is a huge question mark. If Tim Lincecum doesn’t regain form and the pitching just blahs it up, there is quite literally nothing the Giants can do about it. They’ve invested everything in these arms and if they don’t show up, then the Giants go home early for the second straight season.
Using insurance money — which is typically supposed to be invested in simple, safe assets — to buy a baseball team, the ultimate toy for the ultrarich, seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen. Mr. Walters has been somewhat open in acknowledging that Guggenheim’s companies will be tapped, but the investor group has not disclosed how much of the purchase price is coming from individuals.
The transaction seems even more questionable when considering Mr. Walter’s own words to The New York Times two weeks ago: “I don’t want to realize a return on investment on buying the Dodgers. I want to have a multigenerational relationship that changes my life, Magic’s life, Magic’s grandchildren’s lives and all of our lives.”
“Paying $1.5 billion or $1.6 billion — I can get there. But anything after that is pure ego,” said a longtime sports banker who worked for a rival bidder for the Dodgers. “We’ve done the math. At that price, it just doesn’t make any sense unless you want to be the king of Los Angeles.”
In fairness, many insurance companies use their premiums to make investments, including private equity and real estate deals, a slice of which can sometimes even be speculative. As long as the insurance companies meet minimum capital requirements as determined by various regulators, they do not run afoul of the law.
However, rarely does an insurance company — let alone an investment firm — buy a sports franchise using its policyholders’ or investors’ money. When Tom Hicks, the founder of the private equity firm Hicks Muse, Tate & Furst, bought the Texas Rangers in 1998, he had the good sense not to use his fund’s money; he brought in qualified outside investors, who by the way, ended up suing him anyway when the team filed for bankruptcy.
In one case, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan had owned Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the company that owned the Maple Leaf professional hockey team and the Toronto Raptors pro basketball franchise, but the pension’s fund chief was not considered the teams’ owner. The pension fund sold the company last year.
So far, Mr. Walter and Guggenheim are not saying much. They have yet to reveal anything publicly about the proposed ownership structure. They are buying the team from the parking lot mogul Frank McCourt, who sent his debt-laden team into bankruptcy last year. In a filing to the bankruptcy court handling the sale of the Dodgers, none of the documents describe any of the financing arrangements except to suggest the deal is all cash.
This is the Giants’ Achilles heel.
Brian Sabean has been the Giants’ general manager since 1997, making him the longest-tenured GM in the majors. The Giants have enjoyed success under Sabean, particularly in the years when Barry Bonds was hitting home runs into McCovey Cove on a regular basis. And of course, Sabean put together the 2010 team that won San Francisco’s first World Series.
But Sabean’s penchant for signing veteran free agents has led the Giants to overpay (and in some cases substantially overpay) for players way past their prime. These include contracts for Edgardo Alfonzo, Dave Roberts, Aaron Rowand, Edgar Renteria, Mark DeRosa, Miguel Tejada and the contract extension for Huff signed after the World Series victory. Yes, Edgar Renteria hit the game-winning home run for the Giants in the clinching game of the World Series. But he produced very little value to the team the first 23 months of the 24-month contract. And yes, I’ve left Barry Zito’s contract off this list because, by all accounts, that deal was made by Peter Magowan, the former managing general partner of the Giants.
We know very little about the Giants’ use of advanced metrics. We know the Giants employ at least a few smart, young analysts. We just don’t have a sense of what they do or how the information they generate is incorporated in the Giants’ decision-making process. We do know that Sabean rarely mentions analytics and doesn’t seem particularly comfortable talking about them when asked. Overall, it’s puzzling that a team that plays so close to Silicon Valley (and that relies on Silicon Valley money in the form of corporate sponsorships), seems so detached from the technological and statistical advances taking place in the game.
SFGiants just tweeted this --Today will be Lincecum's 19th career start vs
#DBacks. He's 7-5 with a 2.95ERA (41ER in 125IP) lifetime w/ 6 double-digit K games
Otero, a 27-year-old drafted in the 21st round in 2007, will join the team's bullpen as one of six right-handers in a group that begins with eight pitchers.
Other newcomers to the roster include right-handed reliever Clay Hensley, infielder Ryan Theriot and outfielders Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan and Blanco, who impressed the Giants with a strong spring.