Friday, September 18, 2009

Your 2009 Giants are 79-67: Beat LA LA LA!!!


Pretty much over, as I noted in my last post. Making up 3.5 games with 16 to go is not really a pretty proposition. So my post will be pretty succinct, at least for me:

Game 1: Sanchez vs. Vicente Padilla

Beat LA!

Game 2: Penny vs. Jon Garland

Beat LA!

Game 3: Lincecum vs. Randy Wolf

Beat LA!

Giants Thoughts

All I can say is I would not have played Renteria in that game, and had I played him, I would not have let him bat in that late inning after his performance in the game. Then again, had the hitters come through earlier when we got the first two batters on base, then that little rally would have won the game.

Bochy hasn't won any points with me since my rant on him after the fiasco series in Colorado. The lineup was working from the prior days, and you sit a guy who was a big part of the run explosion in Ishikawa while keeping a guy who wasn't in Schierholtz (and I like Nate, I wanted him to be the starting RF this season, but he's hitting .219/.286/.313/.598 in 32 AB this month).


  1. Continuing our previous conversation here. Hope you don't mind... It was getting cluttered on the other page. I have made other responses on the other page, and if you want to address them, I'd appreciate it. These following points are different enough from the others, I believe, to warrant their discussion on a separate webpage.

  2. Here’s what I mean about Sabean being unsuited to the Giants’ current situation. By no means am I totally ignorant of Sabean’s strengths. I’m not trying to bash him willy-nilly. Sabean is particularly good at two things. The first is drafting/developing pitchers. The second is trading those pitchers for complementary players. Sabean is not very good at one thing, and that is signing free agents. Overall, he’s quite good.

    The Giants are currently loaded with good young pitching. What with Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, and Bumgardner, they will have top-notch rotations for at least the next 3 years. The need for Sabean’s first skill is minimized. The Giants have an offense filled with nice young cheap complementary players: Velez, Lewis, Schierholtz, Ishikawa, and Bowker to name a few. Thus, the need for Sabean’s second skill is minimized. Now with a winning record, the quality of our draft picks is greatly reduced. The need for Sabean’s drafting/player development skills is reduced.

  3. Looking at the roster at the beginning of the year, the defining feature of the 2009 Giants is the large amount of money in veteran contracts set to expire at the end of the year. The year is a rebuilding year to assess the young players, after which the ascent of 1-2 highly regarded prospects, and a large amount of money available for free agency the next offseason, will vault the Giants into a playoff spot in 2010.

    We have been successful beyond our wildest dreams this year. But the needs in the offseason are still the same. To reap the largest benefit from this offseason’s opportunity, the Giants GM needs to be able to use the money freed up by expiring contracts to sign position players who are big improvements over what we have now. Thus the Giants’ greatest need is in the area where Sabean has not had very much success.

    The problem with many of the players on this team signed to large contracts by Sabean is that they are often replaceable at no cost in production by cheap young Giants. Schierholtz is Winn’s equal, Lewis is superior to Rowand, Uribe is superior to Renteria, and Velez is slightly worse than Sanchez. That doesn’t mean he’s a horrible GM. Every GM has their strengths and weaknesses. Sabean’s weakness happens to be signing free agents.

    I don’t have an irrational dislike of Sabean, honest to God. I actually think that he’s an above-average GM. His strengths simply don’t jibe with the Giants’ needs. Because of his prowess in certain fields, the Giants have no need for the attention of an expert in those areas.

    To not sign Sabean this offseason would entail making a trade-off. The Giants GM ‘position’ would decline in skill at drafting pitchers and at player development generally. But if the Giants were to sign a GM who has expertise in free agent signing, and can pool the money available in the payroll to best effect, they would have a GM better suited to attacking the Giants’ weaknesses in the lineup.

    That’s the case for the transition to a new leader even after successes- now that the current leader has solved the problems he is best suited to face, it is time for a new one to address the new problems that he is best suited to face.

    I won’t disagree on one point: the Giants are much better off overall than just about everybody expected so soon after the loss of their superstar.

  4. It was not beyond my wildest dreams, I said in the pre-season that if some of the players develop better than thought, they could win 89 games. They are getting close to that.

    Lewis is not superior to Rowand, he is much worse defensively in CF and his OPS is basically the same as Rowand.

    Uribe is not superior to a healthy Renteria. If you knew that Renteria was going to be injured this year, then you are way better than me.

    Velez is horrible at 2B defensively, probably killing whatever value he provides at 2B. And are you guaranteeing that he's going to hit at Sanchez's level for the next 2-3 years?

    For that matter, before this season, it was very debatable whether Schierholtz is better than Winn. He has nice stats in AAA, but their rough MLEs put him around what Winn could do. Still, it is one thing to do it in AAA, another to duplicate it in the majors. And for the season, Schierholtz isn't hitting much better than Winn, and I'm suprised you like him better since Winn has a better OBP than Schierholtz and shows much more plate discipline than Schierholtz has ever shown.

    And so are you saying that 3 years ago when Randy Winn was signed to his contract, you knew that Schierholtz was going to develop enough to hit well enough to be the starter? Because if you are going to criticize Sabean for Winn's contract, that is the CONTEXT that I'm talking about, at that time, it was still a huge question mark whether Schierholtz would ever make the majors, he had a huge hole in his swing and was striking out too much. And Bowker had not even started hitting for power either, and no other prospect was in sight of threatening to make the majors, let alone play as well as Randy Winn.

    People don't think too much about the thinking process that led to the decision nor the situation the GM was facing when they signed a particular player. All they see is what happened after the fact. Anybody can see what the best results would have been, people need to push beyond this and see how the decision process was made at the time of the signing.

    Since you are focused on free agents, find me a GM who don't get burned on free agents. Then among them, find me the ones who built a superior pitching staff. Every GM has a weakness. I already told you that his weakness, as you characterize it, in position players is not a weakness.

    I already told you and many others that Baseball Prospectus studied how teams achieve success in the playoffs and they found that hitting does not contribute anything significant to a team going deeper into the playoffs. It is pitching and defense that gets you deep into the playoffs.

    Given that study result (which The Hardball Times already came to the same conclusion previously using a different methodology), why would anyone want to get rid of a GM who is good at developing pitchers and putting together a good defense, but is not the best at developing or acquiring position players (your position, not mine), which as the two studies assert, are not critical to going deep into the playoffs.

    If you can find me a study that refutes both The Hardball Times and Baseball Prospectus, I would love to see it. Until I do, given that two well-known and well-respected baseball analysis groups studied this issue and came to the same conclusion and I haven't seen anybody else refute this, I'm sticking to this.

    That is why Sabean brought in John Barr two years ago, to bring in someone with success in selecting position players, and he took over the draft from Tidrow, in terms of recommendations. They tout his selections in LA and Baltimore.

  5. Building a pitching staff to get you deep into the playoffs doesn't mean squat if your GM puts together a team that can't get to the playoffs because they can't hit, don't have a discplined approach at the plate, and cannot perform the offensive fundamentals. All that pitching will be on the sidelines watching other team play in the playoffs.

  6. I think that...
    -Lewis > Rowand
    - you're right about Renteria/Uribe
    - you're right about Velez, but I'd hope you'll consider that Velez is entering his prime and Sanchez is past his when guessing how they’ll hit in the future
    - you're absolutely right about Schierholtz/Winn. I do not like Schierholtz much. You're right that my disregarding the context with the Winn signing was dull. I was overgeneralizing, I and I apologize
    - you’re absolutely right about pitching/defense being most important for getting deep into the playoffs; I won’t dispute this

    I think you agree that once in the playoffs, chance is the main determinant. Pitching/defense pushes a 1/8 chance higher.

    Congrats on your season prediction, by the way. I remember reading it earlier in the year and you were right on track.

  7. What do you think about my ‘transition after success’ hypothesis?

    Where I said:
    “That’s the case for the transition to a new leader even after successes- now that the current leader has solved the problems he is best suited to face, it is time for a new one to address the new problems that he is best suited to face.”

    The Giants will have no need for pitching for at least 3-4 years with Lincecum, Cain, Bumgardner, Zito, and Sanchez filling at least 3 spots in the rotation (low estimate based on possible injuries, trades). They will have no great need for position player development with Posey and Neal looking like sure things and all the other prospects you mentioned being possible future Giants.

    This offseason what they have is expiring free agent contracts and lots of payroll space to exploit. As long a GM replacement isn’t stupid enough to lose Lincecum, Cain, Bumgardner, or Sanchez by 2014, wouldn’t it be cool to have a GM who is spectacular at signing free agents and maximizing the production he gets from each dollar spent in free agency?

    I don’t know who that would be; do you know of anybody who fits that bill?

  8. I'd say Sabean did an amazing job this offseason. His only mistake was signing Renteria, and if you look into that deep enough you'll see why they targeted him. If healthy he would probably have been one of the better offensive SSs in the league. Sabes didn't want to give up a draft pick and Renteria was the best hitting SS who qualified.
    Every other signing turned out well. RJ won some games(#300!), tutored some of the young guys and brought some extra media attention to the team.
    The bullpen has been outstanding. Howry, Affeldt, Miller, Medders.
    That's all I can think of off the top of my head. But it looks good to me.

  9. yeah, Uribe was meant to be my best argument for Sabean's strong offseason but I started talking about pitching and completely forgot. Thank you.

  10. Boof, the way you talk, you would think the Giants are far away from the playoffs. We are only 3.5 games away. We should be better next season. Just because we will probably come up short this season does not mean that the GM cannot put together a team.

    As I've said over and over again, the Giants are rebuilding this year. If you don't like the rebuilding process, so be it, but there will be flaws in any rebuilding team no matter how you do it. We're lacking hitting. Other lack starters. Other have no bullpen. Some are missing a little of each.

    Rebuilding requires patience that many Giants fans appear to don't have.

  11. That's exactly what I am saying. Sabean's been here since 1996 and he hasn't succeeded yet. How many more chances is he going to get to keep failing before they see the light? The problem is systemic throughout the organization. The few players that do come up through our system are not schooled in executing the fundamentals, have not learned how to develop an approach at the plate, and do not understand the value of getting on base. It's not just about the good & bad moves that he has made. The organization lacks a direction....from top to bottom. That is a direct failure from the man at the top.

  12. Kevin said...

    F-ing Angel Villona

    No language, please. Also, it's Angel Villalona.

  13. Boof, you don't know what our players have or have not been schooled in. You also don't know whether they could have been schooled in it and yet have not picked it up.

    As I've been saying, it is all about talent level. They have spent almost all of their best bullets in the draft on pitchers. Posey is the only position player drafted with a first round pick since somebody in Sabean's first draft (can't recall his name, but obviously he failed). You can scream at Johnny all you want for not throwing the ball to the right base, but if that is his talent level, then it's not going to happen. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.

    And you are wrong. The team has a direction. It has been clear as day since at least 2002-2003: the Giants are building on pitching and defense. Great pitching and defense.

    Guess what Baseball Prospectus and The Hardball Times say: teams that go deeper into the playoffs win with great pitching and defense. They both gave zero significance to hitting, situational hitting, taking a walk, executing the fundamentals (except on defense), approach at the plate, the value of getting on base, or anything related to the offense.

    It would be like a business saying today that it would be the best business around because we have the best typewriters around: typewriters have no correlation with winning in business.

    According to two of the more respected minds in baseball analytics, Baseball Prospectus and The Hardball Times, both using different methods to measure the same thing - success in the playoffs, going deep into the playoffs, winning it all - found that it is great pitching and defense that does it, and that offense has no significance in helping teams go deep into the playoffs.

    I have found no other expert who has examined the issue, not that I'm aware of every one that has ever been made. If you can refute it, please do, and I'll re-calibrate my thoughts and positions. Until then, I think I'm sticking with the two experts who studied this issue and came to the same conclusions despite using much different methodologies.

  14. And this clicks with my world sense too (world of sports).

    Teams in basketball never win when they have one of the better offenses around (being a Warriors fan, I've seen an unfortunate number of them). They couldn't even win with Michael Jordan. It is the ones who are so good that they can shut down the other side that finally do well and win. Even the 75 Warriors didn't win on Rick Barry's granny free throws, they had sterling defense up the middle with George Johnson and Clifford Ray.

    The Niners didn't always win with Joe Montana at the helm (or Steve Young), driving one of the best and methodical offenses of their times. It was when they had great defenses that helped them get over the edge. It was their defensive excellence that came to the fore in the Super Bowl (like the goalline defense against the Bengals). Offensive teams like Air Coryell in San Diego (where Walsh picked up some of his offensive acumen) which had not enough defense could never do it.

    I think baseball's unique scoring system makes defense all the more important (and I should have said pitching and fielding in my comment above). It is the only sport where a team can get multiple scores on the other team from a solitary event on the field. A team that can reduce the odds of that for the other team will have a strong advantage over the other.

  15. Now, obviously, you need the offense to support the defense. But once you got the cheap pitching put together, you can spend all the money you are saving on pitching to get hitters who are capable enough to score enough runs to enable the pitching to win many more games than the average team.

    And we are not that far. Any regression by Lincecum and Cain should be offset by Sanchez throwing capably all season long instead of just half a season. There are clear reasons for Zito resurgence this season and as long as his velocity stays high enough, he's going to be OK, more than OK.

    And our bullpen should be stronger. Wilson will have a successful season under his wing. So would Romo for the most part. Affeldt should continue to be good. Now we have Runzler and Joaquin looking like two good additions to the bullpen.

    Our offense should be better too. Sandoval turned the corner in May. Ishikawa appears to have done that too, plus Garko is there to take over if he isn't able to progress. Franchez is a huge improvement at 2B. And if Renteria is healthy, he should be improved as well. Most importantly of all, I would expect Posey to do better than the .258/.284/.403/.687 at C we got this season. At minimum, he would get on base at a high rate.

    We should also be able to improve in LF and RF. With Winn gone, Schierholtz should be the starter and hit better than the overall .265/.316/.389/.705 that Giants RF did in 2008 so far. In LF, we have Velez, Bowker and Lewis battling to beat the .260/.330/.399/.729 that LF hit for us in 2008. One of them should be able to do that, and the others could take over for Schierholtz should he falters in RF.

    Likewise in the infield, Frandsen will be there to be an adequate backup should someone performs poorly up the middle.

    It just needs patience, patience the Giants GM has shown for the most part.

  16. Kevin, just found out what you are talking about.

    While I won't condone that language here, I totally understand the sentiment and was thinking the same thing when I read the account.

    All we can hope is that he can explain himself and what happened, but if you do the crime, you do the time.

    My condolences goes to the family who lost their son, brother, grandson, nephew, etc.

  17. Don't forget about Sabes drafting Wendell Fairley in the first round.

  18. I can say with a great deal of authority that the Giants lacked the type of schooling & discipline that I spoke about. You can see the lack of it prominently displayed over and over again on field. Perhaps you don't actually watch games, or if you do, you are not aware of the lack of execution of fundamentally sound baseball. That is something you'd actually have to observe......there are not statistical metrics that measure this. It is readily obvious to even the casual observer that watches this team. Perhaps you are correct to say that I don't know what they've been taught, but the clear conclusion that can be drawn from watching they way they play the gae is one of two things: (1) that they've been taught the proper way to execute the fundamentals and they systematically ignore what they've been taught, or (2) that they've not been properly schooled in their minor league careers. Either way, it is a huge failing of the Giants organization.

  19. OC-- Some guys on my blog referenced and discussed your post from a couple of days ago---not sure if you want to respond to them. They start at 10:37am today.



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