Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sabean if you do, Sabean if you don't

The media decided to attack Sabean this week. Tim Kawakami complained that the Giants should have not signed all the guys they did in the off-season before the 2007 season, that that was the beginning of their downfall. Meanwhile Damon Bruce last night complained about how nice it is that Aurilia and Vizquel helped contribute but what good does that do for the future?

Kawakami

If that is his viewpoint about the Giants, then, really, he should be pointing to when the Giants passed on using the $6-7M they were willing to commit to Greg Maddux to getting a hitter, way back in the 2003 off-season. As I was writing back then, using another moniker, the Giants could split the small amount they had left and spent small amounts on mediocre talent, or put the whole load together and get a top talent, the top talent that season being Vladimir Guerrero, but there were other choices, like Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Beltran, in subsequent seasons.

And as I wrote shortly after it was revealed that the Giants swung and missed on Maddux - which could also be considered a sign of decline, as that led us to eventually get Matt Morris plus suffer with lesser starting pitching and he would have been a great example for our young pitchers to learn from - the Giants could have used the Maddux money and still get most of the players they got PLUS get Vlad, by spending just a few millions more.

That's really when the Giants truly began their decline, settling for mediocre talent, just to fill a team around Bonds, when they should have been looking for Bonds successor, as Sabean intimated (would he do it any other way? :^) would be nice but hard to do, but when it came right down to it, it showed the lack of vision that Magowan and his owner faction had for the team.

And since Tim is so eager to point his finger at past mistakes of others, perhaps he will have the guts one day to take on his own profession over the whole steroids era. It is understandable why management and players went that route - money, getting over the skipped World Series fiasco and subsequent drop in interest in MLB - and us fans had no power over that plus dug the long ball, but the journalists were suppose to do more than just report on things as they were, they were suppose to dig for more, that was the lesson of the Watergate era, the lesson they were suppose to bring to their jobs.

As a sports fan, even in the pre-Internet is great era, I was aware of the rumors of steroids usage, the whispers were already there in the media, because that was my only source of information. And yet nobody in the media took the time then to do anything about it. Particularly during the "heroic" battle between McGwire and Sosa, when both were rumored to be users, nobody in the media had the guts to bring that up. And particularly when McGwire was caught with Andro in his locker, why that didn't get some reporters to stalk him like they did Gary Hart, or stalk other reputed users like Canseco, is something I would like to see a public mea culpa on the part of the media. But I'm not holding my breath on that, not with all the finger pointing of the media at everyone but themselves.

Bruce

I hate to even bring him up because he has morphed over time into being like the host before him who I did not care about either, mainly because he would try to speak authoritatively as a Giants expert, but he would get niggliing little facts about the Giants wrong, constantly. I love sports talk but even I could not take more than 5-10 minutes of Krueger before he would say a "fact" he knew about the Giants then riff a few minutes on his incorrect knowledge of the team. I grew up listening to Ken Dito then that guy from the Tribune that KNBR fired hastily (don't recall his name), so basically I was trained by the prior guy to not bother listening to KNBR at night.

Bruce was nice if inoffensive in the beginning, and so I started listening again, but I guess it was that feature of his that turned other listeners off and thus management probably put the screws on him and he resorted to being a lightening rod much like his predecessor, as that would get callers calling in, to complain and agree, and get his name in the press, as controversy gets you media attention, because being a nice guy don't get you much press. So I don't listen as much anymore.

But I can't help it, and much like with his predecessor, I would turn on the radio for my fix and shortly have my "doh" moment and then turn it back off. Last night must have been a record, I turn it on, he's riffing on Aurilia and Vizquel and then says what good is that for the future, and my radio is off. It was probably on for a total of maybe 10-15 seconds, at most.

First, if that is your "vision" for how the team should act, that would mean that you would have either sold off all your vets during the off-season and/or just benched them to see the young guys. That's something you can do when you are sitting in your easy chair, waving your foam finger, you can ignore reality and pretend that is all there is to running a team.

But in the real world, there are real consequences to your actions. First off, you would have basically paid other teams to take your vets or have them wasting on the bench while you field young players. Either way, its money down the drain and you get nothing for it.

In addition, you teach your young players that it doesn't matter how lousy you are, you get to play because you are young. Where is their motivation to get better then? Is that something you want your young players learning?

Furthermore, the young starting pitchers would see this and be frustrated that they are losing (these young players are not that good offensively, even worse than the vets for the most part) when the vets could be playing and helping them win games. If the vets were around, that would be obvious, but even if they were somehow traded, the young pitchers are not stupid, they will see Durham or Aurilia or whoever do well for another team, then watch our youngsters throw away a ball that Vizquel would have magically handled and wonder why management jettisoned them. They will lose respect for management and be frustrated playing when they are being handicapped in that way to start the season.

Sabean's Way

The way Sabean has done it, it has salvaged value - Durham, Aurilia, Winn and Molina have kept their trade value - while the Giants have gotten good production out of them while paying down their contracts to the point where Durham was tradeable as a good bench player, perhaps starter down the line given how poorly Weeks has played (Durham is probably there to push Weeks to do better). In return we got two OK prospects with potential to be better and saving $1.5M in the process, money we can now use to sign one of our unsigned draft picks.

In addition, it gave both Bocock, Velez, Burriss, and Bowker extended experience in the majors to try to win a position, and not just be handed one, though I will grant that Bocock was essentially handed it, but did at least earn it via his glove with the knowledge that he most probably wouldn't do well offensively. He actually held his own initially, having a nice OBP for the first few weeks, though horrible SLG, before the league squashed him. And Lewis earned his shot at starting with his good play last season, so he wasn't just handed the job when Roberts went down.

Rebuilds Need to Consider Circumstances

Now, I will at least note here that I can understand Bruce's viewpoint. The best way I've seen to rebuild a team from the bottom up is to just jettison everyone, much like how the Marlins have done it, and rebuild from the ashes of that burn down of the organization, and get good draft picks that help make up for years of incompetance by the former GM. That's the best thing to do when the previous administration did not leave you much to build off of, as usually there is a GM change when this happens, there would be long-term neglect that the new GM would have to work around.

But that wasn't true in the Giants case. Few in the media (OK, none) noticed that the Giants totally rebuilt their pitching staff over the past few years. They didn't notice (or still haven't noticed) until this season when it is practically slapping you in the face with their youth. As I noted in a post the other day, Bruce didn't notice it (or think it "official") until Durham was traded.

A classic rebuild would normally doom the team to horrible play and losses for 3-5 years while you trade away what good young talent you have to get a bunch of young players who could help you in 1-4 years. But when you have young pitchers like Lowry, Cain, and Lincecum in the fold, that would basically blow away most of their cheap seasons and most probably force you to trade them away as you re-build, because they would be so mad with you, the management, that they wouldn't want to stick around when they go to free agency.

As it is, the window for them are closing fast. Any missteps will probably mean that the window has closed. That is why I wanted Sabean around, to see if he can rebuild that final piece; if he fails, then we should look into moving forward with another rebuild and trade off young pitching for a package of prospects for the 2010-2015 time period. That is why you can't just kneejerk a re-build, you need to think through where the team is and decide the best course, and I would prefer rebuilding around Cain-Lincecum than trading them to see what we can do with Bumgarner-Alderson in the future.

Team Nearly Ready

As I've been writing, I think the team is almost ready to compete. Lincecum is there already, Cain, while frustrating at times with his inconsistency, always seem to put together a very good season, and Sanchez looks like he's going to be able to do it consistently going forward. The main drags this season has not been our offense, though they didn't help, it has been the very poor pitching of Zito and the #5 guy, whether Correia or Misch.

Let's take a look at that. Take away Zito from our home results (2-9) and we are around .500, 17-22. Take away Correia/Misch (2-7), we are 17-24. Take both, the Giants are 15-15. Zito should have been doing better than that and has been doing better now, and hopefully going forward. On the road, Zito has been 4-5, but Correia/Misch has been 0-9, meaning we have been 23-18 on the road without them. And all that has been with our crappy offense and great pitching.

That is why I think with another middle of lineup hitter, whether internally (unlikely right now unless Schierholtz shows us more than he has so far or EME suddenly became healthy) or externally, via free agent (best bet, though don't know who is available on the market) or trade (they will want our young pitching) and better pitching out of our #5 guy, we should be able to make the leap to serious contention for the division title and the playoffs. Then with an improved bullpen and add another good hitter after the 2009 season (maybe one of our young hitters), and we are competitive in 2010.

But I'm probably jumping ahead of my Hey series; still, this is stuff I've been writing about for a while, so it's not new stuff, just presented from a different angle. Off my soapbox for now.

Mystery Move And Other News

Well, I think the Giants were stupid to announce the mystery move. I don't think it was the Alfonzo/Holm exchange, however, I think it was the announcement that Nate Schierholtz has been added to the Olympics team. While that is very nice, they should have considered how their action would affect the fan base, and the speculation that would cause. The Giants really need a PR consultant to help them through things like this.

Still, Congrats to Schierholtz: Bring home the Gold!

About the Alfonzo/Holm exchange, in the Merc's account (available only for a week...), the Giants noted that he wasn't ready to return after being suspended and is being sent down to get into shape to return and contribute. They also noted Sandoval's nice offense but they want an experienced catcher backing up Molina.

Baggarly also noted that Steve Kline is expected to retire and join the Giants as a roving instructor. That sounds like a good move, he was very good earlier in his career, in terms of keeping his walk total down, that would be a good thing to teach pitchers in terms of strategy for keeping it low, unfortunately his skill had deteriorated and he couldn't execute his strategy anymore. He was really impressive earlier with St. Louis.

That's better than, say, having Darren Lewis as a roving trainer. He wasn't ever that good offensively, was horrible in terms of SB success, his best trait was defense, by far, where he was great. Odd then that we have a system full of speedy CF who steals a lot of bases, but not very well, don't hit that well, but fields great. And I think Darren was our baserunning instructor.

2 comments:

  1. The KNBR guy whose name you forgot was Dave Newhouse.

    He preceded Ralph Barbieri.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dave Newhouse!!!

    Thank you!!!

    Yeah, I feel bad for not remembering, particularly since his firing was kind of bad, as I liked him and his show.

    ReplyDelete

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