Friday, June 15, 2007

Odds and Ends: Giants Golden Roatation; Weedy Grass

Giants Golden Rotation

First, I am reposting a comment I made at my fantasy baseball league, that I thought was pretty good and not something I've covered before regarding Barry Zito's contract. But what prompted the comment was Schmidt getting dropped by one of our owners plus I also discussed the D-gers:

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, I will get immense pleasure from every paycheck Schmidt cashes in and he either a) pitches poorly, b) pitches with poor velocity, or c) is injured. The Dodgers are winning now based on unsustainably great pitching.

I felt that they dealt their offense a fatal blow with the addition of Pierre, and he will haunt them for 5 seasons @ $11M per, particularly after Furcal is gone and Pierre leads off, and their starting rotation a fatal blow with the addition of Schmidt, for 3 years @ about $16M per, that's going to be a lot of salary to eat each year in terms of poor or zero performance, and should kill their chances during our golden rotation years together. They suffered much of their recent malaise absorbing Dreifort's sick contract.

I know there are people saying that Zito will be similarly bad but I think, while it is a huge risk, the risk/reward side of the equation is there too. We have such good pitching from our young guys right now that even if Zito was bad, so what? As long as the other four can pitch well - and right now they look capable of that - he can be the most expensive #5 starter around but won't hurt us performance-wise much because in relationship to other team's #5 starter, he'll fit right in, assuming no epic Russ Ortiz type of implosion.

But if he is as good as he has been the past two seasons, or even regressed a little, then we have a very good rotation from top to bottom, there will be no rest for other teams, and we will beat up their back of rotation guys (hence why Morris and Lowry has been doing well relatively while Cain is losing being matched up with other team's better pitchers despite pitching well).

The important thing is to view the entire rotation as a whole, not focus on Zito as the ace because of the contract. This is totally different from the Rockies signing Hampton, they were desperate at that time for an ace starter and when he failed, he took the team down with him. Zito will at minimum probably not hurt the team performance-wise if he suddenly is as bad as some sabers think he is, but can greatly help the team, perhaps push us over the top, if he is pitching as well as he had the past two years.
And you know me by now, I like to tweak and go on (and on), so I would like to add here what I noted earlier this year: this is the best way to win a championship, to have a great rotation.

Good pitching can shut down good hitting, look at how good Johan Santana is. Not that I'm saying that any of our pitchers are that good, but if you can have a staff, 1-5, of pitchers who can keep you in the game most of the time, that's the best way of getting through the gaunlet of games during the playoffs. While before a little luck and a hot streak can win you a pennant (Gene Tenace; Bucky Dent), you have another layer to get through with the first round of the playoffs, and unlike other sports where there is often a great separation between teams, particularly at home, baseball is much more even, resulting in luck playing a much greater role in who wins. That's why Billy Beane has been demurring on his relative lack of success in the playoffs, saying that it is all chance, a crapshoot, once the playoffs start.

But with a strong rotation top to bottom, we win either way: if we go with a five man rotation in the playoffs, each pitcher will be that much more rested and primed to perform, especially after a long grinding season, and if we go with a four man rotation, the 5th pitcher joins the bullpen, and automatically improves the setup/closer situation, particularly if we go with Lincecum as that bullpen guy.

That phrase just popped in my mind, but it really is a Golden Giants Rotation. It reminds me of the Baltimore Orioles rotation from 1971, with 4 20-game winners: Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, and our late Pat Dobson, ages 25, 28, 34, and 28, respectively. Of course, we aren't there yet with our pitchers, but in a couple of years, Cain and Lincecum will be about 24-25 and ready to take on the world, health permitting.

The Grass is Rarely Greener

Next is a post I did on El Lefty Malo's great website, about some Giants' fans calls for youth, after a very nice post by Lefty about how he understands the Giants management's need to keep winning in the forefront of everything, I did all that research and it's a shame to not put it here:
I'm getting sick of hearing people cry for a full rebuild, how "fun" a rebuild is. Rebuilding is no panacea and it is never as short as a year or two.

Ask the Nats/Expos (97-present), Rangers (00-present), Royals (90-present) and Pirates (93-present) how long they have been rebuilding. Ask the Reds (96-present)and Orioles (98-present), who fired the same manager (Davey Johnson) after winning the division, how long it has been to "rebuild".

People cry for a rebuild, drive all the vets out of the team, but when push comes to shove, their "BUT" comes out loud and clear: "but I'll only tolerate it for maybe a year or two."

Few teams rebuild in a year or two. Examine the teams who are going good now, whether recently or over a long period of time and you will find that most go through MANY (4+) years of losing or so-so seasons (many of them horrible sub-.450 teams, or less than 72 wins) before winning consistently again: Twins (93-00), A's (93-98), Braves (85-90), Padres (99-03), Tigers (94-05), Angels (90-01), Brewers (93-04), Astros (87-93), Phillies (87-00), Marlins (93-96, 98-02, 04-present), Mets (01-05), Yankees (89-92), ChiSox (84-89), Boston (92-94), Mariners (04-06), Cards (88-99).
Or worse, fall into a malaise of teams mainly not bad, but not good either (with maybe one or two good year, some bad years, then a return to malaise of .450-.550 ball): Cubs (1940-present), Indians (57-93; 02-06), Angels (87-01), Brewers (83-present; with bad 01-04), Dodgers (98-05), Toronto (94-present), Giants in the past (72-85; 91-96).

Rebuilds are never pretty, they typically are long and some of them are nasty, and others last for generations of fans. And I'm not talking about winning the World Series, I'm just talking about winning consistently at a high percentage, with a number of playoff appearances.

Some cry for Depodesta, but I was not impressed with what he did with LA when he was in charge. Apparently, neither was the owner, so he got the next best thing to Sabean - Colletti.

Meanwhile, people say that Sabean is the problem, but he's already stealthily rebuild the entire pitching staff over the past two plus seasons and it is pretty much done now, with tweaking for the closer we need. Any pitchers we develop after that is gravy that allows us to trade for good young position prospects.

And what's the big deal about not finding a position prospect all these years when he's rebuild the whole pitching staff. Show me how many winning team that has rebuild their team strictly from their own players, with no free agents or picking up players via draft 5 or trading to get the players you need.

Who are the homegrown stars for Detroit last year? Inge, Granderson, and Verlander. The rest are free agents or players they got in trades. Cards? Pujols basically last year, though they had a young star in Duncan. The rest were basically trades.

People say they want young, well, the whole staff is young. People complain about the bullpen, but that's what you get when you rebuild, inconsistency in results, in other words, "no veteran-like performance." You can't have it both ways.

The grass is always greener in the neighbor's yard until you get there and find that there's crab-grass and weeds there too. You need to appreciate what you got.
Again, I tweak by noting that those winning teams don't feature very many homegrown stars, and we have three on the cusp of becoming stars, Cain, Lincecum, and Lowry. So what if we don't get position stars, other teams don't have a trio of pitchers like Cain, Lincecum, Lowry, should they just fire their GM too? If that's the standards, then may as well fire almost everyone.

2 comments:

  1. As you point out, Zito is not like Pierre in that he does not suck that bad and can be at least the best #4 or #5 starter around. The problem where Zito hurts the Giants for the upcoming years is that the amount of money they are giving to him will prevent them from acquiring real hitting talent. That's where the Zito signing is going to prove to be the albatross for the Giants. As much as I'd like to attribute this to another brainfart by Sabean, this has Magowan written all over it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. No, Zito signing does not no such thing. Next year, $36M comes off the payroll, but raises adds $14M, for $22M available for signing players next year. OF is set, so is 2B and C, 1B can be set, and SS and 3B are open.

    As long as they manage the payroll, it should work out OK. The low salaries for the other pitchers will balance off that large amount, particularly once Morris's salary comes off and is replaced by another young pitcher.

    ReplyDelete

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