Monday, July 16, 2007

Giants Signs Sabean

I started this post when it was announced that the Giants were opening negotiations with Sabean but before I could finish, they had already signed him to a two year extension with option for 2010. A lot of the info there is so similar to what I've been saying, it was almost as if I had wrote it. What stuck out in particular, was the mention of the pitching staff being almost produced internally and the list of players Sabean was involved in obtaining for the Yankees.

What follows is my post about why we should keep Sabean:

After saying that Sabean's role as Giants GM was not secure, that it depended upon the results of this season, Magowan apparently has seen enough and the Giants are negotiating with Sabean on an extension. I assume that it would be for at least 2 years - and that's what I would advocate for (AP leak says "multi-year"). I like what Sabean has done in rebuilding the pitching staff over the past three seasons and would like to see what he can do with the lineup once Bonds's salary is no longer on the payroll, especially now that most of the roles in the pitching staff has been filled, except for closer (Hennessey has the title but no real hold on it yet).

Some people accuse me of being Pollyannish and viewing the world with rose colored glasses. On the contrary, I've seen a lot of bad seasons go by in my 37 years of Giants fanaticism that I feel that I'm being cautious when I support Sabean. Believe me, I don't want to return to the 70's and 80's where mediocrity ruled, for the most part, until we found our thrill (Will the Thrill, that is)

So why do I conditionally support Sabean? First people blame him for the farm system when they should be supporting him. I have studied the draft and it is not easy finding good players through the draft, even when you are drafting high, in the top 5, even if you have the top pick, teams have only been successful 39% of the time finding a good player. It is exponentially worse when picking late in the first round, with the 21-30 pick, which is where you pick when you are a consistent winner, as Sabean had the Giants from 1997 to 2004. People don't realize what a big difference it is between picking 5th vs. 30th.

Second, this is the guy who presided over player personnel for the Yankees when they put together a number of their World Series winning teams' key players, like Posada, Mariano, Pettitte and Jeter, and the guy who led the Giants to winning - IMMEDIATELY after one of the worse losing seasons ever in Giants franchise history and kept them winning for 8 seasons. That should speak to his talent evaluation abilities. Add to that his masterful rebuilding of the pitching staff over the past 3 seasons and I think that he hasn't lost anything.

Third, circumstances have dictated the acquisition of many players. If a position is open and every other team is asking only for your best prospects, it's easy to trade off Grilli, Fontano, or Vogelsong, but not so easy to when the names are Lowry, Cain, and Lincecum. It's not everyday that a team will give you Fred McGriff for a bunch of second tier prospects, like the Padres did with the Braves.

So, if free agency is your main avenue of player acquisition, and given how hard it is to draft good players in the first 100 picks when you are competing hard for the division title, you have to accept lesser players like Feliz or face the fans's anger if you don't field someone there. And often, like when we signed Alfonzo, Durham, Benitez, and Vizquel, the Giants acquired the best available free agent; unfortunately, they didn't turn out the way we wanted in many cases.

But sometimes that is fate or luck. Who knew, for example, that I-Rod, who was continuously injured in his late 20's when he should be healthiest, would be a better free agent acquisition than Alfonzo or Durham or Benitez, who came into their contracts with the Giant with a pretty good health record or had performed well the year before. I-Rod should have gotten worse physically, not better, with age.

I Once Doubted Sabean Like Others

The odd thing is that I was once like some of the Sabean Naysayers. Back a few years, I was wondering why Sabean couldn't produce in the farm system, particularly since he was good at identifying position players to trade for. It didn't make sense. And I was complaining with everyone else about this.

Unlike others, I decided to investigate how badly the Giants are compared to others. That required gathering data on how well teams draft so that I could compare the Giants against other teams who were better. I started first by compiling the draft picks and comparing who was good and otherwise.

I looked at the stats and was totally surprised: good players are not that easy to identify, even in the first round, and as a result, there are really not that many of them available via the draft every year.

That blew my mind, most experts would rave about this prospect or another, but after the 10th pick, you have better odds of rolling a 7 with a pair of dice than you do of selecting a good player, when the best teams picked around the 21-30th picks overall. And the odds fell like a rock: by the 100th pick overall, which neared the end of the 3rd round, less than 2% of the picks for picks 91-100 overall, were good players. So then I compared the Giants against other teams who were winning divisions and picking in the same range overall, and the Giants were arguably as good at picking as the A's, Yankees, and Braves for the time period examined, if not better in some cases.

I did the same thing with free agents. Yes, a lot of them went bad. Same with trades. Focused on the Giants, we don't notice that other teams make bad trades, bad free agent signings. Yeah, we could fire them all, but then the next GMs will probably do just as well. No one will ever steal other GMs blind forever. And if you take small risks, you get small gains; you take bigger risks, you get bigger gains, but also bigger lossess when the bigger risks go bad.

Also, when you think back, a lot of the free agent signings were considered the best available player at the time we signed them, with a lot of teams competing to sign them over us. Alfonzo, Durham, Benitez, Alou, Vizquel, Molina, Durham again, Zito. Sabean signed the best available free agent on the market but most did not work out as expected or hoped.

But who knew Durham would be so fragile after so many years without ever going on the DL? Alfonzo would still be very valuable if he could get on base like he did all through his career, but suddenly he couldn't do even that, let alone hit for some power, so his OBP and SLG was much depressed. Benitez was injured, it seemed, within moments of signing. He isn't the best pitcher but even if he imploded, if he pitched anything like he did the previous five seasons, he would have been a good sign. Alou had injuries, but who could have seen him tripping on the warning track in foul territory. Matheny's concussion was the first I'm aware of to force a MLB player to retire. It was like the pendulum swung back after all his great moves from 1997 to 2002.

Stealth Rebuild

I've gotten a lot of flack (or to put it closer but nicely, manure) over calling this a "stealth rebuild".

Q: But what is a rebuild?
A: Changing the composition of a team from older to younger. The Giants have rebuilt their pitching staff already with young players, most of them from our farm system.

Q: Is every player called up going to be great and successful?
A: No, players will fail, see Lance Niekro and Jason Ellison, who had the starting job but could not hold them, or Todd Linden, who could not hold the key 4th OF starter role this season, or Brian Wilson, annointed closer of today if Benitez failed, but couldn't even keep his spot on the 25 man roster.

Q: Is a rebuild solely done with young prospects and no free agents?
A: No, for example, Detroit signed key free agents in I-Rod, Magglio Ordonez, Troy Perceival, and Todd Jones, during the depths of their latest rebuild, undertook by their new GM, Dave Dombrowski, architect of the Expos and Marlins division/pennant titles.

Atlanta, as a significant contributor to returning to winning, signed Charlie Leibrandt, all of 34 years old the season he joined them. They also signed Juan Berenguer, 36 years old, to be their closer. They also kept older players, like Dale Murphy and Lonnie Smith, during the losing seasons, before finally trading them when they were ready to start winning again. And signed 32 year old Otis Nixon, 29 year old Rafael Belliard, and 30 year old Sid Bream as contributors to their first winning year after 6 abject losing seasons, and they are grizzled vet signings similar to the Giants M.O. of recent years, none of them were top players. They also signed Terry Pendleton, who was a huge contributor, and 30 years old. Their only home grown prospects playing in their first year of winning, was Mark Lemke, no big shakes, Ron Gant, who was very good, and David Justice, who was even better. Gant took 5 years to contribute, 7 to break out. Justice took 5 years to do both. Their pitching staff was pretty much home grown, with Smoltz, Avery, Glavine, Stanton, and Mercker leading the way.

Q: Do teams normally win during rebuilding?
A: No. Look over the history of every team who are leading or competing for division leads today, almost all went through at least a 3 year period of losing - many much longer than 3 and not just losing but abject losing, where team is the suckiest team around. All except the D-gers, who, while not losing consecutively, clearly was in a malaise of barely .500 ball.

DO me a favor if you don't believe me. Take whatever favorite team you like to use as an example that the Giants should follow in rebuilding and see what pain they have gone through, what they did to turn things around. Look at their history in, as I've done many times. I know the D-gers are the only team to return to title competing status without a long or gut wrenching period of losing and rebuilding. If they are not still rebuilding, like the Royals, Devil Rays, and Pirates, for example.

Even the Yankees had a bad period, which, coincidentally for our story, has a link to us: Brian Sabean was in charge of player development and scouting at that time. From 1988 to 1992, the Yankees were either losing or near the cellar, and Sabean was director of scouting from 1986-1990 and VP of player development/scouting from 1990-92. As the above link notes, he had a "vital role in developing the Yankee's farm system into one of baseball's finest, having drafted or signed as amateurs the likes of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, J.T. Snow, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte."

Giants Are Rebuilding Already

So the Giants losing over the past 2.5 seasons, with veterans on the team but also younger players, plus signing free agents along the way, are no different from other teams who rebuilt and eventually became successful division winners again. They have been doing it while trying to win at the same time. Yes, it stinks to lose good young players like Accardo, but we were close and Hillenbrand, if he would have hit his career numbers, would have been a huge boost to our offense. As it is, we still have Chulk, who, while not as good thus far as Accardo, has still been a very good reliever for us.

And Sabean has been in charge of this rebuilding, with Tidrow. Another reason I like Sabean as a GM, besides his success with the Yankees, is because he started out in coaching. He coached in college from 1979 to 1984, and was head coach at the University of Tampa in 1983 and 1984, leading them to their first ever appearance in the NCAA regional tournament. As coach, you have to know to some extent how to tell good hitters from poor ones, good pitchers from poor ones. You also had to recruit high schoolers and be able to distinguish the ones who has the skills and talent that might be able to help you win.

Rebuilds require that sort of knowledge. It helps when the GM is able to pitch in with reviews of players and know when to challenge the scout's opinion on a player, to see the subtle shading that might ID the diamond in the rough. That gives our GM and added dimension that not all GM's have.

Giants Thoughts

I think this is the best compromise. As much as people hate Sabean, I think their emotions are getting in the way of their thinking. The fact is that he has rebuilt the pitching staff. It is young and it is good. Sure, not every part is great, the bullpen in particular: get used to it, when you rebuild, not every prospect will be doing great. The good news is that the bullpen ERA is actually not that bad, it was under 4.00 the other day, though the 5 runs Chulk gave up probably pushed it above that. But that's what you call learning pains as the young pitchers become experienced.

But can he do the rest? I think a two year contract is ideal. We can always can Sabean after a year if things are not working out. And changing GMs during a rebuild can set back the rebuild sometimes. Plus, eatting one year shouldn't hurt the club that much if we do fire him after a year. But if he is still as skilled as he had shown previously, then he should do a great job again and we should return to competitiveness pretty quickly. In any case, we should be able to tell within 2-3 years how successful he is.

Why such a short time frame? Looking at the Giants record by score difference, they are pretty much around .500 for all differences except for two: they are 3-0 when the difference is 13 and they are 6-15 when the difference is 2 runs. They are also 13-16 when the difference is 1 run. Adding a bit of offense would swing those records around quickly to the positive side. They have lost 37 games (out of 48) by either 1, 2, or 3 runs. Adding a bit more offense should swing those games to the win column quickly.

Also, Magowan noted that they were impressed with what Sabean did with the draft picks this year. Sabean said that Bumgarner and Alderson should advance quickly and reach the majors in two years. That's a timetable that we can set our clocks to and see if they are doing what he said. After all, he's also the one who thought Valdez was ready a couple of years ago.

In addition, there is a bunch of position prospects who are nearing the end of their development and should rise up very soon - Lewis, Schierholtz, EME, Ishikawa - plus others who are still developing, including our Carribean Angels, Villalona and Joseph. They in particular will be sign posts of how Sabean is doing, they should be progressing or else, again, it would bring into sharper question his abilities.

2007 Strategy Thoughts

What should Sabean do has been on the minds of Giants fans, both supporters and detractors. I think first and foremost our team's strength is its starting rotation. It should not be weakened unless we are getting a first rate prospect in return, someone who should be starting by next year at the latest, plus a prospect who is good but still developing, and that's for Morris, he should be the only starting pitcher available for trade. If we cannot get such a package for him, then we hold on to him, but for his experience and training abilities, but because our rotation is so strong with him this year.

However, during the offseason, most probably Morris should be moved. I like him but Sanchez needs a spot in the rotation and the rotation should still be strong with Sanchez, just strong with Morris. Basically we wait as long as we can to trade Morris until a team is antsy enough to offer a nice package for him. That also opens a spot for Misch in the bullpen.

Ortiz, I still like and would like to keep him. We don't have many choices for closer right now, unfortunately, Wilson and Sadler have not developed this season as would have been expected based on how well they did last season. They made Accardo available for trade but unfortunately they didn't deliver. Ortiz could spot start if necessary, if Sanchez fails, he should be OK in relief, he should be OK closing. Just because a team is rebuilding doesn't mean that you go ahead and let the team lose in bad fashion. So use Ortiz as backup for a variety of positions.

I like Kline, but Misch was doing great in AAA, so we should trade Kline to a pennant contender who needs a good lefty reliever, and get a nice prospect in return. Then Misch will get a chance and we won't have to rely on Taschner so much, put him in more situations where he can succeed. I still like him, particularly his attitude, but obviously he's been doing poorly. But that's the pains of rebuilding, putting up with prospects's ups and downs.

Durham should be shopped, particularly if he gets hot again in the second half. Frandsen looks ready to play at the major league level. He's not going to be good or great but he's going to be a complementary piece of the lineup, he should get an OPS in the 700's and 2B looks like his eventual position.

However, we have options for him at 3B too. We should not resign Feliz again. We needed to this season because we needed someone OK at 3B but he has been much less than OK. Frandsen could take 3B.

There is also SS. Aurilia could play there, but I'm thinking he can't do it on a regular basis anymore. So we might have to go with Vizquel again, as shortstops are not that great offensively anyway, so he won't be a total burden there, but he could be batting 2nd. However, if some team is willing to give us a good position prospect for him, I would take it and play Aurilia and Frandsen there on a rotating basis, maybe even through Feliz there a few times. If we are selling, it won't matter much anyway.

Speaking of Aurilia, he is too versatile to trade away. He can play 1B, 2B, 3B, and SS. He is protection in case any infield regular is injured (). He can start at any of these positions to start the season, allowing Sabean to sign free agents at any of those free positions and move Aurilia to another spot.

I would also try to keep Klesko, though the price has to be reasonable. He is a high OBP hitter who can hit for power, what more can you ask for as an example for our young hitters to emulate. It is one thing to ask them to learn by watching Bonds, another to watch Klesko; the former is a daunting task, the latter more down to earth in expectations. Plus we could platoon him with Niekro and give Lance one last chance to be productive. If he can hit LHP and Klesko RHP, we can get pretty good production out of the 1B spot. If Klesko is too pricey, I think Ishikawa should be promoted and platoon with Niekro. Sink or swim time, time to fish or cut bait, particularly if we are accepting the possibility of losing in 2008.

I would be OK with keeping Bonds if we aren't paying him much. If he wants more, he can go. And I think there are automatic draft picks now, we don't have to offer arbitration or anything. Otherwise, we bring up Schierholtz, Lewis, and Ortmeier and let them play for playing time. I don't think they have much to learn at AAA anyway.

Winn has a no-trade, but Roberts could be traded. I think we should keep him. I like his speed at the top of the lineup, and I think he will start disrupting the other team in the second half because he's been hot in July. He also has a nice OBP for his recent years, so I think he'll be good up there. I'm not convinced yet about Lewis, and I dont' believe in just giving players all the at-bats at a position, so I rather he fight with the other two for playing time. Roberts is platooned a lot anyway, so that would open up a lot of ABs for the three if needed.

I had been hoping the Giants could sign A-Rod for SS or 3B, but the more I think about it, the less I see it being possible. There is a lot of money opening in the payroll, but I don't think $30M worth and that's what he is asking for. That would mean increasing the payroll and yet not signing any other free agent. I don't see the Giants increasing their payroll to fit A-Rod. But the talk about signing three other free agents don't make too much sense to me because I doubt that there are any good players available for 1B, 3B, and SS who are worth $10M each who we can sign instead of signing A-Rod. Plus, I hear that the Angels billionaire owner has his eyes set on A-Rod, and with Cuban trying to buy the Cubs, they could be in play for A-Rod as well, to make a big splash there. And he's worth over $2 billion. We are not outbidding either owners.

And hopefully we start getting some surprises from the farm system. We have a lot of relievers preparing to move up, so we should be fully stocked there for a while. However, position wise, Horwitz is the only one who appears to be getting ready to join the majors soon. Everyone else (besides Lewis, Schierholtz, and Ortmeier) is having problems of one sort or another (or lack of talent).

Seeing if Fairley (assuming he signs), Noonan, Williams, and Culberson develop and advance will be interesting, particularly Fairley. He loves baseball and appears willing to work hard to reach the majors, plus he was previously busy with other things, like school, football, and other activities. Now, he will be 100% devoted to baseball but even then, he was very good at both the OF and a starting pitcher, so he would gain also from the focus on being solely an OF without worrying about opposing teams' hitters. The two Angels too, will be interesting to follow.

Go Giants!


  1. I was reading my post and realized that I left out some things I wanted to add, plus you know me, then I go onto other things. :^)

    A lot of Giants fans are exhibiting the short term view fixation that other countries have criticized us Americans for years. Like the way we invest in stocks, taking a quarterly view of things when other countries provide semi-annual or just annual reports.

    If we want our team to be strong in the long run, we need to take the long view. Changing GM's once things get tough is pretty much a knee-jerk reaction. You need to take an assessment of the entire situation and see where we are, rather than to broadstroke label everything he does as trash.

    These naysayers like to joke about Sabean trading away Cain and Lincecum for nothing, because of one trade, but really, when has Sabean made a trade mistake of that magnitude? One. They have tarred and feathered his reputation for one bad trade.

    If that was his only trade, then yeah, I can see that, but he also got us Kent and Schmidt. Oh, but then it comes down to "what have you done for me lately". What Sabean has done is almost totally rebuilt the pitching staff with internal farm products or acquired using farm products. Only Zito, Morris, and Messenger don't fit that description.

    They have been also angry that he hasn't traded anyone to get prospects, but when has that been possible? Every year, the Giants had been competitive almost to the end of the season. Even last year, they were within reach of the division lead until mid-September. And would it make sense to dismantle the team in 2005 knowing that Bonds will be back in 2006? And the team was in it until nearly the end in 2004 and won it start to finish in 2003.

    With the announcement of the tolerance for losing in 2008, that suggests a chance in attitude going forward. Sabean can now make those type of trades if he feels that it is good for the team in the long-run. The timer has begun, lets see what he can do with the team when he is freed to rebuild without consideration for competing to win with Bonds. The gaunlet begins now, and this is his first test.

    And to clarify what I meant above, don't see this contract as a 2-3 year commitment to Sabean. I see this contract as a year to year contract where Sabean has to show progress each year. And if he does get fired after one year, you can view the second year of the contract as a termination bonus for years of good service.

    With the long gestation period of developing players via the farm system and his rebuild of the pitching staff, now we want to see progress with the position players by whatever means possible and without breaking up the core of the team: Cain, Lincecum, Lowry.

    I think he has made good progress and deserves to continue, but I'm for keeping the leash short. We need results to start showing now that he's freed of the constraints of the seasonal goal of winning it all with Bonds. Whether Bonds is willing to get on board with that next season - and at a lesser salary - is another thing, I guess it will depend on how badly he wants to retire a Giant, with his home crowd.

    After next season, it will be four years of losing if we lose again in 2008, and progress must be shown at that point. If they are winning without a top 10 offense - which is what most of the Sabean naysayers have been essentially complaining about by criticizing all the complementary type players that Sabean has collected - then that's a sign that things are changing the way I've been saying, how having a great rotation and good bullpen, will make winning that much easier, that we don't need (sure, I would love to but that's not realistic) to have great hitters all over our roster in order to be competitive with our pitching staff.

    If we are not winning, then Sabean need to have made moves to get the position starters younger and with promise and potential. I will tolerate a mistake trade where the prospect was good but failed, like Kouzmanoff this year for the 'Dres or Marte with the Indians, but it obviously cannot be a trend either.

    To earn his second year, we need to see efforts toward improving the youth of our position players - and he cannot fix all of them at once, but next year 1B, 3B, SS, and LF is open - without costing us our strength in the starting rotation.

    To earn his optional third year, I think he needs to have some good position prospects in place and starting and playing well. We also either need to have at least one good player starting already or appear to be developing in the minors (Villalona, Joseph, Fairley, Noonan).

    That could also be via free agency as well. But I don't consider Andruw Jones or Torii Hunter to be that good a player to be "the one", there are too many question marks plus they are already in their 30's already. I can see doing that with similar type players in after the 2008 or 2009 seasons, when we should be about done rebuilding, but with 2008 being a "losing is tolerable" year, only a great player is OK with me this off-season, someone like A-Rod (not sure who else is available and younger than 30; I know A-Rod is over 30, but I would be OK with that for him, he's that good, the above two aren't). Good players like Jones and Hunter would be wasted on the Giants in 2008 and maybe 2009, I believe, then could already be on the decline by the time the 2010 season rolls along.

    If we can get this player via a trade, that would be great too, but I won't hold my breath on that for this off-season. Perhaps after the 2008 season, when we have a better idea what we have with Bumgarner and Alderson, and hopefully some more nice surprises like Accardo, Sanchez, and Correia pop up and rise fast in our system and do well. It is hopefully after the 2008 season (and in the future) when we have an overflow of pitching talent who we can trade (or supplant current pitchers), creating tradeable chips we can send off for parts we do need.

  2. Instead of writing this blog, you should be taking over Larry Baer's job or Ned Colletti's old job. Clearly you've been drinking the Sabean Koolaid for too long.

    Bottom line, you can list out all the excuses that you want why things have gone wrong in the Giants organization, but the players in the major & minor league system were put there by Sabean. The fact that the cupboard is (with the exception of Cain, Lincecum, and to a lesser extent, Lowry) completely bereft of talent is the sole responsibility of Sabean. He is the one who should be held accountable for the miserable state of affairs that the Giants organization is in. The fact that he got a 2 year extension instead of getting fired tells you all you need to know about the idiots that are running the asylum. I just can't believe that anyone would voluntarily continue to support the regime that has brought the Giants to the level of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Wait, that's not fair.......the Devil Rays have a future and a lot of young talent.

  3. I agree with you Martin. Losing is hard, damned hard, and it makes most people angry and it causes most people look for someone to blame. Then logic and analysis gets thrown out the window and hateful, cynical, disparaging "truisms' the spewn all over the landscape. By and large, the criticism is just this, hateful, scapegoating, largely irrational, and founded on cherry picked arguments, like the papers we wrtoe in Jr. High school.
    People throw out the term 'mediocrity' as if it is a proven truth. Quite the opposite is true. Not only did this team put together one of the best winning records in the history of the game, they did it at a cost of regularly picking in the lower 1/3 of the draft. That, folks, is the cost of winning. The whole idea is that losing teams get a chance to pick the cream of the crop and pretty soon they get a shot at winning (most recently, Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee). The teams that were strong in the late 90s and early 00s are now struggling (Yankees, Giants, Braves). This is because, as you point out, no matter how good a talent evaluator you are, when you are picking at #28 your odds of getting a good player are miniscule to your chances if you are picking at #4 or 5 or 7.
    Despite this, Sabean has rebuilt the pitching staff. Not just the starting staff, but 8 or the 12 pitchers on the roster are home grown. And we have 3-5 useful guys in AAA, maybe 2 useful guys in AA, and lots of guys doing extremely well in low A. So, we are able, if we choose, if we get a decent offer, to trade a Lowry, a Sanchez, a Misch, a Correia, because we have guys we can call up and replace them with little or no drop off in production.
    People who need to blame Sabean to make themselves feel better, usually start of by talking about his failure for 3 or 4 years. This is completely inaccurate and intellectually dishonest. We were extremely successful in '04. '05 was a huge disappointment but it had nothing to do with Sabean's "moves," it had everything to do with the heart of the offense missing the entire season because of a fluke, totally unforseen surgery complication. '06 is much like '05 but more so as far as dumb, unforseen luck. Not only Bonds, but Alou, Benitez, Matheny (+ Schmidt, Morris, Lowry) were all hampered by unexpected injuries.
    '07, tho is an entirely different can of fish. Everyone will have their theory, but, by and large, mostly what I have seen is people trumpeting their prejudices, but damned little in real explanations for what has gone wrong this year. Juveniles and the immature can scream "they suck," but really, that doesn't exactly explain what has happened this year. Up until just recently, their runs scored vs runs allowed was slightly positive, such that their record should have been 500. (and it's not because they scored 13 runs in one game and 10 in another, becuase they were on the other end of near identical blowouts, too, losing to Oakland 13-3 and lsong a couple of 10-2 or 9-2 games, so it all pretty mcuh evens out.
    What I find astonishing is that this veteran team has not played like veterans. There have been a ton of rookie mistakes, sometimes by rookies (the ball Linden let drop for a game winner against the Mets), but frequently with vets (botched run downs by Sweeney, Durham - and I could go on). As trite as it sounds, I think this team never got its confidence. Too many of our hits come with 2 out, too few with 2 out and the bases loaded. These "veterans" seem to hit in no pressure situations OR when they are about to be humiliated - and then hit just enough to make a game of it.
    The more important point is that this team, as difficult as it is to watch them lose night after night, is not that far away. They should have a 500 record, and this is with 5 players hitting 40-60 points below their career averages. I thought it was likely there would be some drop off, by Omar, Durham, Aurilia. But I stupidly thought Feliz would improve (to the level of his first half last year), Winn would improve and Klesko, Molina, and Roberts would all be within 10/15 points of their recent career averages. Instead, partially due to injury (Roberts, Aurilia), and partly I just don't know, 5 players have been just awful: Roberts, Omar, Feliz, Durham, Aurilia. For a time Winn was were I thought he should be but he has fallen to below expectations, too.
    Soooo, I think Bonds comes back as a 2/3 time player, with commensurate salary. I think one of Roberts or Winn gets traded, and we go with Bonds, WinnORRoberts, and 2 of Lewis, SChierholtz, Ortmeier. We may add a RH OF bat, we may give Horwitz a shot.
    I agree, Klesko and Molina are back. Feliz doesn't get resigned unless he hits 300 from here on out. One of Omar or Durham comes back. We go with some combination of DeLaRosa, Velez, Figueroa, Ochoa, Frandsen, Aurilia. Sabean tries to add one significant position player/bat, aguy 25-30. Such a team would likely be in the hunt next year. Reasons: 1) pitching will be better next year than this, 2) the returning vets will play better than this year, hitting nearer their career numbers, 3) someone out of Lewis/Frandsen/Schierholtz/Ortmeier /Horwitz emerges. Someone out of Leone(I forgot him)/ DeLaRosa/Velez/Figueroa/Ochoa/Frandsen emerges (to the tune of hitting 27-285 with 320-345 OBP. The one bat gives us what we wanted from Feliz. An extra 1/2 run a game is all this team needs.

  4. I couldn't quite finish reading your novel, but you're wrong, no question.

    Intentionally giving away draft picks is such a bad strategy that no one (other than Sabean) would ever do it. Even if draft picks were a worse long-term strategy than free agents - which you haven't done the math to prove - a GM still has to use everything available to him.

    You seem to think Sabean is good at drafting pitching. Those 21st-30th picks have turned out very well for the Giants. If they can beat the odds with better scouting, why would they give these picks away?

    I don't think you're seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. Nope, you've just decided that Sabean must know what he's doing. The reality-based community knows better. But hey, let's watch the Giants suck for another couple of years before we pass judgment...

  5. Boof, I would love to have Baer's or Colletti's old job, they could use some ogc. :^) That would be my dream job and I could die happy (when I'm much, much older).

    Yes, some are excuses but the main one that you have a problem with is the farm system. I've explained logically why it is hard to develop via a draft. Getting mad about a shallow farm system when the team has been winning is about the same as raging against the world when you buy a lotto ticket and you don't win the $1M prize. The odds are low that it is going to happen, but you are mad nonetheless.

    So, if I had a rigged deck of cards with no aces in there and allow you to pick any card you want and the only way you win is picking an ace, that is about the same as you getting mad at Sabean.

    He put those players there because he thought they were the best available, for the most part. That the availability of good players when he is picking is limited or nearly barren when he is picking, is beyond his control, other than blatantly losing and getting the #1 pick, and even then, you end up with a good player less than half the time. Ooo, you picked him, you are the bad GM.

    Again, show me a team who has as many good players developed via their farm system and who has as many players comprising their roster using only farm system products. It must mean SOMETHING that our pitching staff is one of the best in the majors already.

    As I showed, even Atlanta, the example everyone loves, does not fit the requirements that you Sabean Naysayer say is wrong with Sabean's current rebuild. They had a lot of free agents signed, most of them 30 and older. Very few farm products on the team. Their first winning season together, they had three star starters, Smoltz, Glavine, and Avery, a good free agent in Leibrandt, and a bunch of free agents comprising much of their position starters. Thus if you have a problem with Sabean's teams the past few years, you have a problem with how Atlanta did their rebuild and, of course, we all know how much better at a rebuild you are than the Braves

    Let's take, for example, the Braves 3rd year of losing and losing big, 1987. Let's see who is on their roster. Ken Griffey Sr, 37, starting. They are not as old as the Giants but their 1B has a .740 OPS, 2B .704 OPS, 3B .704 OPS, SS .580 OPS. Not a pretty infield. The OF were good though, Dale Murhpy, 31, Dion James, 24, Ken Griffey, 37.

    But hello, their pitching staff, oy, they had 2 26 year old starters, Zane Smith and Randy O'Neal, but Rick Mahler, 33, Doyle Alexander, 36, plus David Palmer, who was only 29 but a 4.90 ERA and he was just an average pitcher for his career, horrible that year, already a 7 year veteran at that point, not really a rebuilding type of player by your definitions because average player are "bereft of talent".

    So where are their great young players? Glavine did pitch at 21 that year, 9 games, 5.54 ERA, bad today, even worse in 1987. He was slightly better in 1988, 4.56 ERA, but according to you, Lowry isn't that good a pitcher and even including last season and the heightened offensive period we live in today, unlike 1987 and 1988, Lowry had a lower ERA than Glavine so therefore you would not have thought much about Glavine at that point in time. Context and circumstances.

    And it wasn't like the pitching staff was young either, Jim Acker, 28, Paul Assenmacher, 26, Jeff Dedmon, 27, Gene Garber, oops, 39, Ed Olwine, 29, Charlie Puleo, 32. Or that good either, I'll bet most of you thought "who?" when reading these names. I lived through that so I know how unimpressed I am.

    Thus Atlanta, 3rd year of their rebuild, according to you Sabean should be sent out, but here the Braves young players they can build with - that is on their roster - is Andres Thomas, 23, SS .580 OPS, Gerald Perry, 26, .740 OPS, Dion James, 24, .869 OPS, and Zane Smith, 26, 4.09 ERA.

    Of course, the Braves didn't build around any of these players, they were all gone when the glory years started. So therefore the Braves GM, Bobby Cox should have been fired that year, he didn't know what he was doing, here Sabean at least after three years have two aces for the next 15-20 years, health willing, plus a good pitcher in Lowry, and he deserves a swift kick in the butt out the door, but Cox is then therefore that much more stupid and idiotic and moronic, including the ownership (Ted Turner), because they have all these old players on their roster, they should have dumped them all and used lousy young players so that at least they can say that they are rebuilding, and the young players, even after three years of losing, none of the great players had established themselves yet at that point, their third year of losing, but Boof would have fired Cox and labeled him an idiot and moronic.

    OK, maybe this example will be clearer to you. If I have a coal, a rock, and a tree branch to sell and you have to buy something from me, as I am the only seller still open, but you are buying something nice for your significant other and will have to offer one of those three as your gift, you are between a rock and a hard place, my friend, because all those gifts suck. But rather than be empty handed, you buy one from me and hope for the best. That's what Sabean had been facing as GM during the past 5 years, buy the best he could with the parameters he had to operate under. Sure, an excuse, but that was the situation he was in.

    And we don't know what he would prefer to buy. Maybe he wanted Vlad, we don't know that, but maybe the Giants ownership was leery about Vlad because of his bad back and put the kibosh on that. Sometimes he just acquired the best player available and what's wrong with that besides that it didn't work. And it may be because of the Giants owners (and maybe he too) who thought that having two player cost more than 35% of the payroll that Sabean passed on some of the higher salaried player available on the market, Tejada, Beltran, etc.

    But you chose the Braves as your example and I've just shown how Sabean has the team in much greater shape than the Braves did at the end of their 3rd losing season. Their only long-term asset to come up was Glavine at 21 and he was horrible for that part of a season and all of 1988, he was 23 before he had what one could call a good year. No other prospect had come up yet.

    And the year they finally started winning? They filled the roster full of free agent players who were not that great, players you would deride Sabean for acquiring, and their core of young pitchers were finally in place, with Smoltz, Glavine and Avery in the starting rotation and young prospects in the bullpen. Still, they relied on old Charlie Leibrandt in 1991 too, for 15 win in the rotation, and 36 year old Juan Berenguer was the closer. Chipper Jones wasn't around yet, but they had Ron Gant and David Justice, so that was good, but it was after 6 excruciatingly bad seasons. Of course, by then, you would have fired Bobby Cox and his right hand man, Schuerholz, because they are morons who didn't know how to rebuild the way that you know is right.

    Except you, Boof, used the Braves as your example of what you approve of. Care to tackle this one? Or will you ignore me again, like you usually do?

    I don't mind opposing opinions, but at least back up your position with logic and facts. Much of your arguments are emotional: "moron", "idiot", etc.

    So here, I've just chopped up your dream rebuild example, show me where I went wrong, or shut up already. If you cannot even defend your position, then why do you bother stating your position?

  6. Anon, if you couldn't finish my novel, then how do you know I'm wrong? Or do you do this in life, don't bother to read the entire argument, just because you happen to disagree with it, and decide that person is crazy?

    For example, you have never read my full argument, which I had written before and referenced here. So how would you know if it was wrong? My position is that in certain circumstances, it would be OK to punt a draft pick. You do not lose much expected value in terms of a good player by doing that. Have you taken statistics, do you understand what that mean, expected value?

    Actually I don't know if Sabean is that good at drafting pitchers. I only know that he has selected players who now comprise most of the pitching rotation. I would say that is pretty good, but ultimately it will be years whether we can say definitively whether he is good or not. But at least he has a good start towards that.

    Reality based, huh? The reality is that he has rebuilt the entire pitching staff. That's reality. We have two once in a generation aces on the staff in Cain and Lincecum and one good pitcher in Lowry. Yet people scoff at that achievement. You don't realize how hard that is to do when you don't get good draft picks. Maybe he was lucky, but the reality is that he has rebuilt the pitching staff. Now he has to get to work on the rest of the team.

    The reality is that a lot of Sabean naysayers like to call people names or put them down. I've haven't called one person stupid or even put down their position other than to say I disagree.

    Then I list the facts as I know them and hope for a nice logical discussion. I haven't found one willing yet.

    It don't matter to me if the Giants are good, bad or ugly, I will root for them no matter what. I only care that I understand the team's situation as best as I can so that I can set my expectations correctly for what they might do in the upcoming season and in the future.

    I don't care if my position is wrong right now, as long as I am right eventually. But no one has been able to convince me otherwise. No one has presented facts. No one has refuted my stats other than to say that they aren't right.

    It is not an excuse to understand the situation in which a decision is made and the circumstances surrounding it. It is a way of trying to draw knowledge of the experience and understanding what and why it happened.

    It is not an excuse, it is trying to understand what is happening in the situation and finding a logical explanation and sometimes the answer is that it was stupid, like the Pirates doing the Schmidt trade.

    OK, since you are so smart, who should the Giants emulate, which team should the Giants copy as the "right" way to rebuild? I'll even give you a gimme, obviously the Braves aren't because they did everything exactly as the Giants did, they used free agents, they didn't get things even as far as the Giants in terms of rebuilding by their third year, they hired old free agents, even as they neared their winning season. They did everything that Sabean has been accused of moronically doing in rebuilding the Giants over the past 2.5 seasons.

    So no Braves, give me your example of the ideal rebuild if you know rebuilds so well that you didn't need to read through my novel.

    It must be nice to be able to read just a part of someone's argument and just know that he's wrong and "not reality based". Give me an example of a good rebuild, I darn you.

  7. Ooops, Freudian slip, I meant "I dare you". :^D

  8. Martin, I think that Sabean's rebuild also resembles the rebuilds/strategies of Detroit and SD - in somewhat different ways. Detroit also (and they had premium picks for several years), largely built their pitching thru the draft, and then built their positionsal team largely thru trade/FA. Of their position players, I think only two are home grown, Granderson (who's prety good) and Inge (who is almost the spitting image of Pedro). The rest of their guys, and they do have some good ones, are older FAs.
    We resemble SD, in that both teams play in large, pitcher's parks, both teams have, to date, emphasized pitching and defense. Both teams have below average offense.
    Assuming our pitching improves next year, and I do, we don't need a whole lot to become competitive once again.

  9. I try not to ignore you but you really seem to miss the point. You can't see the forest because you are focusing on, not the tress, but the bushes surrounding the trees.

    First, your point about the draft being a crapshoot is true. It is a crapshoot. According to your explanation, since it is a crapshoot, a team should just stop trying to find young talent because the odds against finding it are against them. That's just ludicrous. You can't totally ignore using the farm system to restock your team with young, unproven talent. Essentially, that is what the Sabean regime has done by focusing solely on pitching in the farm system. It also doesn't help when you willingly punt #1 picks when you don't have to. A good GM will look at the makeup of the team and back fill the farm system with the type of players that will be needing 4 years from now. In 2001 & 2002, the Giants were already a very old, offensive team. A good GM would've recognized that they were going to need some offensive talent to replace the quickly aging Giants veterans. That was not done and it is a huge organizational failure because now we sit with zero offensive talent in our farm that will be ready any time in the next 4 years, while at the same time having a pitiful even-worse aging team than we had for each of the last few years.

    I can just hear you thinking, "But they can trade some of this pitching they've developed for the offensive talent they need." Sounds good in concept, but as Sabean's recent track record (Nathan, Liriano, Bonser, Accardo)has shown, he has failed in that strategy also, further hampering the organization. I have zero confidence that he will be able to change his track record here.

    You keep asking about other teams that build completely through the farm system, as if that is a relevant question. It's not, by the way. However, currently Arizona & Milwaukee have offensive teams built mostly through their farm system. So does Tampa Bay. Yes, they got good picks because they were shitty for a long time. Get used to it, because that's what the Giants are facing now. The more important point is that no team should have to build solely through the farm, but keeping your team vital by keeping the stream of young talent flowing is essential for the long term health of any organization. Sabean has failed the Giants miserably here.

    As far as his judgement that the players that he has signed were the best available speaks volumes about his judgement. Just look at the crappy players he has signed and how good we've been over the last 3 years and how good we're going to be for the next 3 or 4 years and you can chalk up another failure for the Sabean regime.

    Either you choose not to recognize these failures or can't see them. All I can say is someone much smarter than I said that "those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." The Giants front office obviously haven't learned this lesson yet.

  10. See, Boof, you don't understand the lesson of my draft story, though you understand the underlying principle.

    Since there are probably others like you, I will try to lay it out here, even Anon can read it.

    The point about the low odds are two-fold:

    1) It take a long time to find these good players via the draft, a long time. Doesn't mean that you skip it altogether though, like a lottery ticket, if you don't play you don't win.

    2) But like a lottery ticket, skipping once or twice, not likely to affect your odds of winning. So you can punt your ticket once or twice and it doesn't really change your expected returns.

    Clearly, I need to re-publish my study's full results and conclusions. OK Anon, you can skip the rest, it's a novel. :^)

    So do you get my point yet Boof? Sure, he could have focused on the position players. You know what? You guys would be doing the exact same thing, except now you will be complaining about his lack of pitching.

    And he was backfilling, he was picking all sorts of position players: if you didn't notice, he was able to field a team at every minor league affiliate.

    My point is that when you have crappy draft position due to winning, you can only do so much with your farm system via the draft, you cannot fix everything over any reasonable time frame, the odds are just too low. You have to focus and specialize. You expecting Sabean (or any other GM) to field an entire team via the draft is the same as expecting a burning bush to talk to you with God's message: most probably isn't going to happen.

    Nathan clearly was a mistake, but Liriano was suffering from physical problems when he was with us, every year, and I'll bet that his career will never amount to much of anything. If you would rather have the illusion of that rather than a good pitcher, that's your choice.

    Boof, well, that is now Exhibit A1 of how much emotion is driving your decision about Sabean. You are upset over the loss of Bonser, but are dismissive of Lowry as a good pitcher. Bonser, in his career so far, 4.46 ERA vs. league ERA of 4.41, pretty much an average pitcher at age 25 this year. Lowry, career ERA of 3.96, league ERA of 4.32. He is a very good pitcher, has been since he broke into the league when he was 22. Yet you blast Sabean for losing Boof but refuse to acknowledge that Lowry is a pretty good pitcher developed by Sabean.

    And as I noted, he got Chulk for Accardo, not as good but that's the price for renting Hillenbrand, it is just that Hillenbrand got cold with us. He would have been a good acquisition had he just hit what he was hitting for his career or for the season with Toronto.

    I see you gave up on your Atlanta example. Would be nice if you acknowledged that you were totally wrong there, but I'll do it for you: you were totally wrong, else you would have had a rebuttal.

    OK, lets hit the Brew crew next. They have been losing for 14 straight years now, from 1993-2006. They struggled with staying around .500 for about 8 years before doing what I advocate for a quick rebuild: sink to the bottom. From 2001-2004, they lost 94 games 3 years, 106 one year. That gets you a lot of high draft picks.

    Let's go over their draft results, from 1997 as that is the year Sabean took over the Giants, plus I'll throw in Baseball America's top 10 prospects:

    1997: No current member of Brewers drafted, nor any good player drafted period (0 out of 50).

    1998: Bill Hall, he's a round 6. Everyone else pretty much sucked (1 out of 50).

    1999: Ben Sheets, #1, 10th overall (1 out of 49).

    2000: Corey Hart, 11th round (1 out of 50).

    2001: J.J. Hardy, 2nd round, 56 overall (1 out of 50 and prospects)

    2002: Prince Fielder, 1st round, 7th overall; Dana Eveland 16th round, has MLB experience (1 out of 50 plus prospects)

    2003: Rickie Weeks, 1st round, 2nd overall; Tony Gwynn, 2nd round, 39th overall, #17 BA but made MLB; (1 out of 50 plus prospects)

    2004: Mark Rogers, 1st round, 5th overall, #5 BA; Yovani Gallardo, 2nd round, 46th overall, #1 BA; Lorenzo Cain, DFA 17th round, #6 BA; (1 out of 50 plus prospects)

    2005: Ryan Braun, 1st round, 5th overall, #2 BA; Will Inman, 3rd round, 85th overall, #3 BA; Mat Gamel, 4th Round, #10 BA; Steve Hammond, 6th round, #7 BA (1 out of 50 plus prospects)

    2006: Jeremy Jeffress, 1st round, 16th overall, #4 BA; Cole Gillespie, 3rd Round, 92nd overall #8 BA (0 out of 50 plus prospects)

    Thus, over a 9 year period, the Brewers found 8 players who are currently on their roster. The Giants have 9 players. Clearly, they have much better players on the whole, but 2 of them were Top 5 overall picks (Giants had none), 2 more of them are top 10 picks overall (Giants had 2 during that time) and 2 were from the 2nd Round.

    The Brewers were 67% on their Top 5 picks (Rogers still developing so could be 100%), 100% on their 6-10th picks overall, 0% (out of 5) on picks in the 11-19 overall range. They are 4 out of 10 for their first round draft picks, but if you use more comparable picks with the Giants (10th to 30th), they are 1 out of 6 or 17%. The Giants have selected Cain, Lowry, and Lincecum with their 10-30 picks.

    So, the winning Brewers of today have been slowly rebuilt via the draft (and trades) over a 9 year period, counting when Hall was picked. Thus, by selecting the Brewers as your example of a good rebuild, you are advocating that the Giants suck for 9 years, get a lot of draft picks high, so that you can be happy with a team rebuilt the right way.

    By the way, they overpaid an 32 year old Jeff Suppan to be a starter on their team. Apparently they could not develop enough young starting pitchers to fill their rotation. They are also forced to use mediocrities like Dave Bush (4.84 ERA), Capuano (5.16 ERA), and Claudio Vargas (4.47 ERA) as starters, plus Sheets is no good to them on the DL. Their pitching is so bad that they were forced to resort to using Elmer Dessens on their staff.

    And of course, in rebuilds, you don't sign pitchers who are old and past their primes, you have to use young prospects only, vets are verboten!

    Also, by the way, they kept Geoff Jenkins and Tony Graffanino plus re-signed Craig Counsell, guys who, under the rebuild theory, should have been traded away already for prospects, or better, not re-signed in the first place with Counsell. Damian Miller too.

    So, are you sticking with the Brewers as your example?

    And I've explained the D-Backs example already but will do it again. First, they took three years of losing to rebuild. This is the Giants third year. And they are barely over .500, they can still run it to 4 years under .500 with a losing year this year.

    They have old veteran players, like Eric Brynes, Randy Johnson, Livan Hernandez, and Doug Davis. They are players that should have been traded for prospects according to your complaints about Sabean. Not only that, but they ACQUIRED Randy Johnson, this past offseason, that's not something a team rebuilding does.

    OK, you like their offense and you accept no excuses. Here is these players's career OPS+ and 2007 OPS+:

    Synder: 73/70
    Jackson: 95/95
    Tracey: 106/107
    Drew: 88/70
    Young: 77/78
    Quentin: 88/66

    This is their young position players. Only Tracey is above average, all are below average, most significantly so.

    Just because they are young and did well in the minors is no guarantee that they will do so in the majors, though that certainly is a great help. And right now, they are all pretty raw and lousy.

    But as you noted yourself, no excuses. Unless, that is, you are now ADVOCATING that a team field a team of underaverage players in the lineup. They clearly are rushing their players to the majors or they are not as good as they appeared in the minors.

    Sure, there is hope that they get better and reach average or maybe better. But they Giants already field average or better players:

    Lewis 113 OPS+ career
    Frandsen 68
    Cain 118
    Lowry 109
    Lincecum 98
    Correia 99
    Hennessey 98
    Taschner 82
    Sanchez 97

    So who has done the better rebuild thus far, the team with many above average players or the team with a bunch of significantly under performing players.

    To be fair, the D-backs have a number of above average bullpen relievers too, some much better than the Giants. But the Giants have 2 out of 9 who are much below, the D-backs have 7 out of 15 who are much below. Thus the Giants have 7 who are average or better and the D-backs have 8 who are average or better.

    So, the D-backs have overall below average position players coupled with an old rotation but good and young bullpen. But, you don't like older players to be on the team, so they did that wrong, and their position players aren't very good, at least not yet, and according to you, there are no excuses.

    So explain to me why you like the D-backs again?

    Nice quote, by the way, I live by that quote. Seeing the history of all the rebuilds, I can see that the Giants have done a good job in a three year period. You clearly ignore the history else you would not bring up the Braves, Brewers, or D-backs as examples that you like and then when I apply your reasons why you don't like Sabean, you basically didn't like their rebuilds either. Look at how long the Brewers took to rebuild, Hall was drafted in 1998! Technically, it should be 1993 when the rebuild started, so 14 years, since that's when they started losing.

    Doesn't that make it any clearer for you how hard it is to rebuild using the draft, your prime example took 14 years to rebuild, and sure they rebuilt their lineup, but they are still working on their pitching rotation and bullpen, after 14 years. Sabean has already rebuilt the pitching staff after 3 losing years.

    Either you chose to not recognize these successes or can't see them yourself. How can you keep your team vital when the odds are so against you when drafting while winning? That has been my whole point all along that you chose to ignore.

    You want to talk failures, let's make it simple, tell me who was the better 3B to sign than Feliz, out on the market.

  11. Here's a nice quote from a Baseball America analyst, Jim Callis, about a proposed Hughes for Salti trade: No, it is too hard to find good pitching.

    And the Giants this season have a starting rotation full of good pitching.

    That's been my point, pitching is a hard commodity to find, so you focus on that, and once you reach critcal mass, you will be able to start trading them away. And since they are hard to find, they will be worth more in trade.

  12. Hello Martin, very nice job. Since all the other teams are doing such a great job of "rebuilding" thru the draft and Sabean is failing, I looked at 6 teams for the number of home grown players on their roster. I have been posting this info on some other sites tonight as well. (it is not completely perfect, as rosters are always in flux due to injuries promotions, demotions, the DL, etc). But this is how the teams compare as far as home grown players on their roster:
    Giants 11
    Detroit 6
    SD 4
    Atl 13
    Boston 6
    LAD 9

    Now, aren't you ashamed of protecting Sabean? Looking at 5 winning teams, he has more home grown talent on the roster than all but 1 of those teams. I think the table proves how the haters just look for an argument to make to support their hatred, but don't really bother to look for facts to support or even to try to understand when facts are put out there for them. And ya know what else? The Giants are not even as rickety old as the haters would have you believe. Really, what they have done is just adopted, without analysis, the east coast (ESPN) prejudice. I am not saying the Giants are young. But, the fact is they have fewer over 30 players than either the Dodgers or the Padres. They do have more over 35 players (SF 8, LA 8, SD 5), but they have fewer 30-34 players (SF 4, LAD 8, SD 8). And when you look at the pitching staffs, I think you really will appreciate what Sabean has here. We have 2 pitchers over 30, Morris (33) and Kline (35), both of whom could be pretty easily replaced from our farm system. SD has problems on the way. They have Maddux ((41), Wells (44), Hoffman (40), Brocail (40). The Dodgers are worse off. They have a full DL, plus Lowe (34), Henrickson (33), Tomko (34), Saenz (39), Saito (37), Hernandez (43), and Schmidt (34) - and Wolfe is (31).
    I no longer think '08 will necessarily be a losing year. We have to replace 3-5 position players. The Dodgers have significant additions to make both on the field and on the mound. Even SD has 5 important performers over 35, icluding the 3 critical pitchers over 40. I don't think our problems look so bad.

  13. That's been my point, pitching is a hard commodity to find, so you focus on that, and once you reach critcal mass, you will be able to start trading them away.

    Ok, fine, but by this logic the Giants should have a good offense already, because they've done nothing but focus on pitching in the draft ever since Sabean has been around. Thus, they should have already been able to trade some of that overabundant pitching for imapct hitters. They haven't, and the Giants are still short on trading chips, unless you want to offer up Cain or Lincecum, which no one does.

    And comparing the Giants' rebuilding efforts (a dubious claim at best) to that of the Dbacks and the Brewers, and favorably at that, is just crazy. The Dbacks have a farm system chock full of young guys with the potential to be big time impact players. While the guys you mentioned may not be great now, you neglected to mention when you were busy ripping into Boof that all those guys have a lot of upside. Drew, Quentin, Young, Jackson, and also Justin Upton are all blue chip talents. I'll take their "below average" lineup any damn day over whatever crap the Giants are trotting out there now.

    The Brewers, meanwhile, have done a tremendous job rebuilding. They are a model for other franchises to follow. Their entire infield is made up of young, star-caliber talents who haven't even hit their prime yet! Yeah, they do have vets, as you mentioned, but most of those vets (Counsell, Miller, Graf) are cheap and are being used as decent placeholders. They weren't brought in on sizable contracts with the intention of being major players on a team expected to contend, unlike some other awful team that I know of.

    The biggest impediment to progress is refusing to admit there is a problem. The Giants have a major problem, and a lot of it has to do with their GM. I enjoy your site and love the obvious hard work you put into posts like these, but all I see here are a bunch of silly excuses for a man who has proven again and again that he isn't fit for the challenge he has in retooling this franchise.

  14. Paaulie, that's just a rant, kind of the way a child argues, stating all of your conclusions as if they are facts, all the while ignoring any facts that oppose or negate yoru argument.
    You cannot compare us to Milwaukee. It is true they have a fine stable of young, good players. But if you've been reading, you would understand why their situation is not comparable to ours. They have been perennial losers. While we have put up one of the best winning records in all of baseball over the last 10 years, Milwaukee has been steadily losing. Why is that relevant? Because it means they get to, year after year, pick in the top 4, 5, 6 picks. And, as a cost of winning, we've been picking, 25, 26, 27. If you've been reading, you'd understand what a huge difference that makes, how picking in the top 5 gives you (I forget the exact number) something like a 33% chance of getting a good player, whereas picking 25th gives you less than a 5% chance of picking a good player. Despite these odds, Sabean beat the odds when he got Cain, Lowry, Correia, Hennessey, Accardo, Sanchez, Misch, and all the other RPs who have made a significant contribution to the team.
    And I agree with you that Az has a great stable of position players. But over half of their pitching staff has been signed from the FA market or traded for. And, like Milwaukee, they picked much higher than we did, altho not as high as Milw. And so far, their players haven't gotten them any closer to the pennant than we've been - and they lost 111 games in '04. Imagine the complaining if the giants lost 111 games.

  15. The Pirates, Royals, and Orioles have been losing forever also, why aren't they as good as the Brewers? Also, the Braves have been winning at just as steady a clip as the Giants, more so in fact, since 1997, and yet they have a roster full of homegrown, quality players who are helping that franchise stay competitive. You could say the same about the Dodgers or the A's. Why should we let the Giants off the hook here?

    You listed a bunch of guys that prove that Sabean "beat the odds", except that most of those guys just aren't very good. Hennessey, Correia, and Misch aren't even on the ML roster on a good team that knows how to put together a quality bullpen. And where are the position players on that list? I guess Sabean must not have beat the odds there.

    Let's just look at the 2003 draft. Here is a list of guys that Sabes could have had who went in between picks of Aardsma and Schierholtz: Daric Barton, Carlos Quentin, Jarrod Saltalamaccia, Adam Jones,Ryan Sweeney, Andre Ethier. Those are some of the best hitting prospects in baseball. Aardsma was jettisoned for a crappy reliever and Schierholtz doesn't have a quarter of the upside of any of those guys.

  16. Hate to break it to you, Paulie, but you are beating your head against a wall here. The fundamental problem here is that Frank & OGC truly believe that Sabean has not failed the Giants organization. They will come up with whatever statistics, no matter how irrelevant, that they think proves their point. What they don't do is apply good judgement as to the quality of the Giants players and their farm system. They would rather make the point that the Giants have 12 "home grown" players, no matter how shitty they really are. Results speaks volumes and, right now, the Giants are the 5th worst team in all of baseball and they have a very bleak future in front of them as nearly all of their position players need to be replaced.........right now. They are sub-standard at every position on the diamond, except for a few of their rotation guys, but they fail to recognize that. They'd rather attribute it to a "down year" or "injuries that couldn't be predicted" or some such other dreck. At the end of the day, the Giants, as constructed right now, suck. There can be no debating that point. Without some quick intervention and some bold moves, they are facing at least 3 to 4 more years of real sucking, also, due to the state of their farm system. Don't believe me on that point. Take a look at this article on the Top 150 Prospects in baseball at midseason:

    There are 30 teams in the major leagues, so if the Giants were just average, they's have 5 players on this list. They have 2, one of them a pitcher at #58 and the other, Villalona, at #82 who is at least 4 years away, if he doesn't eat himself out of a job by then as the reports would have it right now.

    Frank & OGC, however, seem to think that this team can be competitive. The chasm between reality and their perception is so great that you will never be able to convince them otherwise. Believe me, I've tried.

  17. You are the one spinning things, no matter how refuted by facts and statistics. You haven't refuted my arguments other than "they don't apply good judgement".

    You know why the Giants farm system don't rate with the experts? For one, hello, most of them are on the major league roster, they aren't potential stuck in the minors. For example, the Dodgers for YEARS have had their farm system rated over ours and, in particularly, their pitchers were always much better than our pitchers, even Matt Cain.

    The fact is our players have progressed to the majors and are contributing whereas many of their top prospects have failed FAILED to progress.

    I only care about results, and the results are that the Giants have filled out their pitching staff with average to great pitchers. Sure, I hate the losing as much as anyone, but I am trying to take the long view of the situation rather than do a knee-jerk reaction to a bad situation. Just because I don't like the losing and poor free agent results, doesn't mean that I just write off everything, you need to see what good is there and whether that is good enough to continue. I believe that Sabean has earned another year or two to see if he can progress further, as I'll explain in my post tonight.

    Boof likes to talk without numbers, but I have listed a lot of evidence refuting his assertions and all he can say is that "ogc lacks good judgement". He cannot even summon up one good response to my eviserating his examples of the Braves and Brewers as good examples of rebuilds. Boof have given me assertions, I have countered them and all he can do is move on and refuse to acknowledge that I have proved that his position is based on emotions and not any logical thinking, else he would be better able to defend his position other than to dismiss my position.

  18. OK, Paulie, I'll tackle your comments now.

    First, my position is that the Giants are reaching that critical mass position now, during this season. Over the next two years is when it will be clear whether this strategy works or not. They were not overabundent with pitching until this mid-season, as evidenced by our need to sign Wright last year and Ortiz this year.

    But with Lincecum's assension, I think it is clear we should be done this year with that. Now we need to wait for other pitchers to progress to the majors and give us talent that we can trade off, either themselves or the guy they displace in the pitching staff.

    My point in comparing us with the D-backs and Brewers was not to say that the Giants have done a better job on an overall basis, but that when compared to where they were at the same point in their rebuilding, we are comparable in success or even better in some aspects. Clearly, on an overall basis, our team does not compare to their team.

    My point regarding the Brewers is that of course they are more successful, they have had a lot more draft picks where success is more likely than us in the draft. If you compare their success in the range of draft picks comparable to us, they were not as successful as we had been.

    I don't see why people don't understand this analogy. Where the Brewers were drafting, the pond was full of fish, it was easier to catch a fish. Where the Giants were drafting, finding that fish is very hard, you often come up with no fish at all. And that's just the first round. It gets much worse as you go further into the draft.

    In addition, they have been rebuilding for 9 years (if you count from when Bill Hall was drafted) or 12 years (if you count from Geoff Jenkins), and people are up in arms with Sabean after 2.5 years?

    If you like the Brewers, basically you are advocating that the Giants have a top 5 worse record in baseball for a 4-5 year period, before we start to get good again. While I like that theory, I say screw that, we need to win with Cain, Lincecum, Lowry as soon as possible, if we go into the rebuild that many Sabean naysayers advocate, you would have spent most of their cheap years rebuilding and then what happens if they decide that they don't want to stay Giants, that they want to go free agent? Our rebuild just got longer, as we will get back prospects who are not quite ready yet for them.

    And I think we are closer to competitiveness with Sabean and this team right now, as half the team is rebuilt already.

    In the D-backs case, I understand that the potential for their players far outweigh the Giants. You know what? I've been hearing this since 2003, about the baby-backs, about how they are going to crush us and that first generation of baby-backs fizzled, with Tracey as the only one to make it (and he's barely above average, look at his 106 OPS+) and Webb being their best success - and he was not even mentioned by one ONE prospect expert the year he came up. When he was successful, I looked him up, he was not even worth a mention on's article on their top prospects for that year. Baseball Prospectus felt the need to mention Jay Bellflower, Chris Capuano, Edgar Gonzalez, Mike Gosling, Byung-Hyun Kim, Mike Koplove, Dustin Nippert, John Patterson, Beltran Perez, Bret Prinz, Jose Valverde, and Oscar Villareal, but not Brandon Webb. Some of those are good, but really, none of the shine a line to Webb.

    So excuse me if I take the expert's opinion with a grain of salt.

    Let's put it this way. Boof denigrated the Giants farm products as worth nothing much, and praised the Braves, Brewers, and D-backs. I've dissected each team's shortcomings in their rebuild relative to the Giants.

    Based on his complaints about Sabean, he would have fired the GM's who architected the Braves and Brewers rebuild, because they took too long doing their rebuilds.

    Bobby Cox took 6 years and excruciatingly bad seasons before they started winning again. And they won because they filled their roster up with free agents.

    Bob Melvin took over after the 2002 season, a horrible season. He followed up with two 94 loss seasons, then a .500 season, then another losing season. He also had the advantage that he inherited Jenkins, plus his predecessor already selected Bill Hall, Ben Sheets, Corey Hart, J.J. Hardy, and Prince Fielder for him already, plus that poor year netted him Rickie Weeks in his first draft, so that is not really related to how good he picks, with a #2 you better pick a pretty good player. But even couting him, the only players he has added from the draft to the current team's success is Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun and Yovani Gallardo. Only three good players? Fire him! Sabean has 3 good players in Cain, Lowry, and Lincecum and he's getting the boot as well.

    Still, if you like their team, counting the players on this team and when they were drafted, it was 12 years in the making, one starter per year at a time. Is that what you really want for the Giants?

    And in the D-backs case, he likes their potential. So I made the valid observation that potentials don't always translate to the majors.

    I don't care how many times he writes that down, look at the Dodgers, look at the first generation of the baby-backs, look at the A's and Met's "4 Aces" of the early 90's which yielded one ace closer in Isringhausen, and two OK relievers in Todd Van Poppel and Steve Karsay, but no ace starter. Potential is nice, but performance in the majors is what counts.

    So, I compared how successful their farm products are in the majors compared to ours, thus far, and they are actually one year ahead of us because this is their 4th season after their last winning season and this is our 3rd, because, class, context is important. Is it so unfair to compare the production thus far, using accepted metrics of performance, OPS+ and ERA+?

    And you are missing my point by making fun of the lineup: with a great rotation and pitching staff, you don't need a great or even good lineup to be competitive, you can even win with crap like we have today, if they can just be consistent in their offensive production, instead of scoring 12-13 runs then being shut out a lot, like this team. Based on the Pythagorean calculation that Bill James invented, the Giants should be around .500 right now, not so far down. So if the roster can be adjusted this off-season to be more consistent, then we can return to .500 rather easily, with more money coming off the books after the 2008 season.

    So I can live with a crap lineup if we can win with it and our great rotation.

    Again, the "Brewer's Model" of rebuilding is to spend 14 years losing, with 4 incredibly bad years in the middle. That is the price of their entire infield. Again, are you willing to pay that price?

    Most of the Brewer's vets cost more than Grissom, Tucker, Vizcaino, and Neifi Perez, players who the Sabean naysayers excoriate Sabean for doing (from Cots Contracts and

    Jenkins $7M, 107 OPS+
    Koskie, $2M DLed (I guess, he has no stats but a contract)
    Graffanino $3.25M 88 (backup)
    Counsell $2.8M 80 (plus 2008 and BO; backup)
    Miller $2.25M 102 (backup catcher)
    Dessens $2.1M 65 (reliever)
    Estrada $3.4M 92
    Suppan $6M 88 (but contract to 2010, average $10.5M per year)
    Mench $3.4M 102 (backup OF)

    These are all deals that Sabean would be lambasted for, they are not cheap for what they get out of the players. They are backup players for the most part that Sabean naysayers would tear him a new one for.

    About the poor teams vs. Brewers, who is giving a silly excuse now? After 14 years of losing or poor play, would you attribute the Brewers accomplishment as one of skill or one of luck?

    Let's put it the way I explained it above: the Brewers found players on their roster at the rate of one per year via the draft. Just shooting to fill the starting lineup and rotation plus closer, that's 14 years before they fill up their starting lineup. You would be happy with that? You aren't willing to give Sabean 3 losing years, so I don't think so.

    Think I cannot find examples where other teams fail at identifying good players? How about the year Cain was selected? Think most of the teams picking before the Giants regret that one? How about Lincecum? Every team has a draft where they look absolutely stupid not picking players, even the teams you congratulate here for selecting those players, they screwed up in some other draft, just look at each team's draft in, it is very nice now, better than The Baseball Cube, and you can see for each draft which picks became major leaguers, allowing you to see also what they done in their careers.

    Of course Schierholtz doesn't compare to those players. Barton was the 28th overall, Quentin was 29th, Salty was 36, Jones 37, whereas Schierholtz was 63rd. They better be much better, the odds of finding talent drops as you progress in the draft.

    Sweeney and Ethier are closer, 52nd and 62nd, so are more comparable. Ethier is 25 now, Schierholtz is 23. Ethier at 23 was in AA, hitting .319/.385/.497/.882; Schierholtz is in AAA hitting .328/.353/.502/.855. I would call that pretty comparable.

    Here is what Baseball Prospectus has to say about Ryan Sweeney: "Many scouts take one look at his picture-perfect swing, his Abercrombie&Fitch-catalog physique, and his tender age for his levels and insiste that he's a future stud. Statheads - and a silent minority of scouts - look at his statistical record and see a fourth outfielder."

    Here is what Sweeney is hitting in AAA this year: .291/.365/.411/.776. Schierholtz is doing much better than that, since apparently you missed that. I would also add that Nate is doing this in his first year in AAA, Sweeney is in AAA for his second year, so you would think he would have learned something from last year, but apparently didn't, as it appears that the pitchers did the learning, he hit higher last year: .296/.350/.452/.804. And he had 13 homers last year, full season, Schierholtz already has 14. And clearly, Sweeney's no speed demon, 7 SB out of 14 SBA last year, so he doesn't provide value in that way either. So I have to disagree with your assessment.

    I wasn't counting Misch, you are sloppy here, counting a callup who is destined to go down.

    Giants relievers have a 3.86 ERA, 8th in the NL, so there are 8 teams in the NL who wouldn't mind changing places with us.

    Hennessey has an ERA of around 3.40 in 2006 and 2007 as a reliever (his ERA was high last year because of his starts). That's better than any team other than San Diego, so yeah, I think other teams would like him.

    It is easy to pick on a player when he has a rough patch, but Correia's ERA was much under 4.00 until July 3rd (3.15 at the start of that game). His ERA last year was 3.49, again, much better than most teams, so I think he's capable of getting that back down over time, just like when he had a rough April and got it down to 3.00 near the end of June.

    I never said the bullpen is the greatest, but they are performing OK overall, some of them pretty well. But the Giants did go with young players instead of signing a bunch of vets, and they are sticking with them, through their youthful ups and downs. And they acquired a young player in Messenger and Chulk has been doing well too. If you have a problem with the Giants bullpen, then the D-backs are just as unproven as well, except for their closer.

    And people seem to not have seen a team's full roster before. Look at every team, do they have good players at every position? No, they do not. Do they have a lot of players who are good enough, better than most, OK, average? Yes, they do.

    So yes, the Brewers have done a big accomplishment, huge accomplishment: after 9, 12, 14 years of trying. So if you are happy with that, you have more patience than I.

    When I say that Sabean has beaten the odds, and you must have missed this, though I'm not sure how, I've repeated it enough times, he has beaten the odds of selecting so many good players - not pitchers - players, with their first round draft picks, 3 in a 10 year period, and that includes years he didn't even get a first round pick.

    If he had focused on position players, maybe we have a nice infield (assuming Cain, Lincecum, and Lowry are now equivalent position players), but now you have the rest of the OF to fill plus catcher and the pitching staff.

    Following his pitching-focused strategy, we have a pitching rotation that should be great for another 5 seasons or so together. He then filled in the bullpen with pitchers who were not as good but are good enough to hold a position. Only Taschner among the relievers who have made up the core of our bullpen this season, has not done OK or well, in terms of ERA.

    With this pitching staff, we should have been competitive this year (meaning around where Arizona and Colorado are, spitting distance of the leaders). With an ERA of 4.09 overall, even if the Giants score at a 4.3 runs/game pace that the worse team scored last season, we should have a record of 48-44 right now, tied with Arizona. Our offense has clearly let us down.

    But with so many players going free agent, we will have a bucket full of money, we can sign a good player via free agency. Or we can take on other team's high priced baggage who can hit for minimal prospects. Or we could even go into full rebuild mode and not sign anyone plus trading others - saving the money for future years - and have a really young team.

    Given that his strategy should start bearing fruit in 2008/2009, I want to see what he can do with the team, rather than go into total rebuild with a new GM and waste most of our time with Cain and Lincecum, rebuilding. With them in place, rebuilding should lead to competitiveness pretty fast or, yeah, Sabean should be canned.

  19. i agree sabean has built a terrific pitching staff, but you guys still dont take into consideration the giants havent had a homegrown all star position player since matt williams......dont u think thats kinda sad? and if youre going to play that odds thing, who cares? its since MATT WILLIAMS! how long ago was that? and since the pitching is in great shape for the future, why the hell did he draft bumgarner (who only has a fastball) when jason heyward was available??? hes a 40 HR potential guy that can hit for a high average. i know he probably isnt going to turn out, but u just HAVE to take risks like that in the draft. u guys are making so many excuses for sabean when u fail to realize he hasnt developed a good-great position player since matt williams. can u really defend that?

  20. OGC, thank you for being rational. This whole argument tree has been so informative and entertainging. Fact is, Sabean deserves the opportunity to try and see this through. Period.
    I am curious and apprehensive. While most Sabean critics point to his recent track record and discountt his prior record, I tend to see his recent trade failures as a result of his early success. Teams are just less willing to trust his opinion on his own trading chips.
    Anonymous pointed to taking risks. Is drafting bumgardner not a risk? a tall left handed highschool fireballer who didnt start throwing a breaking pitch until a year ago isnt a risk? Have we not exhibited a strong track record of drafting and developing pitchers? Because we made one deal we all of a sudden can't make good trades(the Accardo trade has not been proven to be a bad trade. Everyone forgets his numbers when trying to save a game with the Giants... TERRIBLE. Who cares if he throws 98. He never had a brreaking pitch when he was with us. It did not even look like he could develop one when he was with us.)? I dont get this line of thinking. Boof and the rest seem to be what have you done for me lately mouthpieces. Fact is, we have traded away more non major league talent than we have difference makers. Does this not count for anything? What if we trade another vogelsong for the next david wright? is sabean still dumb or a genius. David wright was a late round deaft pick, by the way. Point is, not only has sabean done a good job NET OF NETS of trading non-talent or expired talent for REAL talent, he has also been one of the most sucessful GM's at recognizing true pitching talent. Emotions always get in the way of objectivity. Boof and Anon sound like Chrnoicle writers. give me a break. Thank you for your informed opinion.

  21. It is very easy for people to say "Draft a Heyward, he has a potential to hit 40 home runs." The truth of the matter is, however, the draft is nothing but a huge crapshoot. Teams scout and crosscheck and scout again and crosscheck again and work out these kids but the fact remains, teams never know what they are going to get until the kids get into pro ball and play well into AA or AAA. Heyward looks the part but he is playing vs high school kids in Georgia. Hardly a guarantee for future success on the big league level. Also remember, the amateur draft is still somewhat manipulated by the big money teams. Rick Porcello was the 2nd best player in the 2007 draft. Where did he go? 27th, to the team that could afford him. How would he look in the Giants rotation in 3 years next to Cain, Lincecum, Lowry? The problem was Boros and the 7.7 million that Porcello received upon signing. Remember, sometimes in the draft you are forced to take the best available player who will actually sign with your club and agree to your terms. Just because you draft them does not mean they have to agree to play for you !!!
    Maybe our 10th pick from North Carolina fit that description. Most will agree that Porcello is a better gamble but at what price? You guys would be killing Sabean, and you know it, if he had given that bonus, 7.7m, to a Prep School kid from Jersey.

    Secondly, Finding "All-Star" position players like Matt Williams sounds so easy. You know what? It is'nt. That is what made Matt Williams so special to begin with. In high school, 3rd baseman Mark Teixera wanted millions to skip college. The Giants, as well as every other team out there, knew he could play but were not willing to take on the risk. The same could be said for Vanderbuilt 3rd baseman Pedro Alvarez, viewed to be a top guy in 2008. He wanted 1 million plus to sign out of high school. For what? He played against weak prep schools from NYC for 4 years. Were these acceptable risks to the public? Every Giant fan out there would be killing Sabean if he drafted these risks out of high school and spent so wildly.

    You have begun to see results with the pitching. It will still take time. Maybe one of these guys, Cain, Lincecum, Sanchez, Lowery, whoever, will not even be here when the team is ready to compete for a title again. Yes, maybe the Giants will have to take a step back. That is okay. There is a plan in place. They will take their lumps as they try to find a younger, better lineup but remember, this club does not have the financial standing of Boston or New York, it will not throw money around. It will eventually get it right because it is run by "baseball people."



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