Friday, October 02, 2009

Rumor Has It: Sabean and Bochy Back Next Season

As most Giants fans know, the news have come out, first from John Shea of the Chronicle, then confirmed by Andy Baggarly at his great Extra Baggs blog. As Andy noted, "Contract length and other terms are being negotiated presently," and "it's expected he'll [Sabean] sign a multiyear contract. Bochy was coming to the end of his three-year deal and probably will receive a contract that dovetails with the GM; Sabean told me last week that Bochy would be his one and only choice to manage the club."

As any reader of my blog knows, I'm very happy over keeping Sabean, but not so much Bochy. Maybe he can learn to be less diplomatic when he needs to make the hard decisions during any playoff-pressure situation - which is where I finally decided that I don't want him around anymore - or one of his coaches can get him to think that way, I don't know. Maybe he can learn. But I'm worried that Bochy could hurt our chances in the playoffs, should we ever make it with the Sabean/Bochy team.

I was mostly neutral before on Bochy, so it's not like I don't like him as a manager. I think that he is a good manager overall, which I consider to be one who does not get in the way of the talent and cost them games, but neither is he a good manager who can win more games with his moves, which I think Tony LaRussa can do. I just don't think he has what it takes to get us to the World Series finish line, which is what we Giants fans want.

I have so many issues with what people have been saying about Sabean that I've been frozen as to what to say, I just focused on one particularly galling statement, I think, in commenting on the public boards. Here are short snippets of things said and my thoughts:
  • I think it's ridiculous that people say he doesn't know how to build an offense when the Giants offense from 1997 to 2004 was in the Top 3 most seasons, plus a couple of 4-5 seasons, all above average. That was after three straight (1994-1996) seasons of below average offenses, all with Bonds in it.
  • They complain that the team was losing, and when he delivered a good team this season (86 wins and counting), they complain that he didn't win enough, when they didn't even expect a .500 team, let alone a playoff contending one.
  • They think that they had the answer to the offense - whether trading Cain pre-season, or Bumgarner or Posey mid-season - but never addressed the big problem with their recommendations: the consequences. If Cain is gone, who takes his place in the rotation, Joe Martinez or Ryan Sadowski? They forget that trades are zero sum games where you only improve if you steal the other team blind, else you get what you give up, fixing one problem but creating another problem to replace it.
  • And trading Bumgarner or Posey would have had huge future implications: if the Giants had done that, they still most probably would not have made the playoffs. We are five games back. Nobody we are going to get for Bumgarner or Posey would have made up five games. So not only would we lose one or both of our top prospects, we wouldn't even make the playoffs, and get at best two lousy picks for the guy we traded for. Plus now, we won't have Bumgarner or Posey coming up to boost the team in 2010 or 2011.
  • Some think rebuilding mean using only prospects for every position, that there is no veterans. Teams don't rebuild that way. No team can have good prospects at every position. They need to fill in gaps in talent with veterans, particularly if the prospect is not proven enough.
  • Some are bemoaning the loss of Alderson and Barnes, and neither profile to be a top rotation guy, Alderson is at best a middle (i.e. average) starter - and his minor league stats suggest back of rotation at best now - and Barnes is at best a back of rotation guy. That's nothing when we can boast two ace-level starters in Lincecum and Cain, and two above average starters in Zito and Sanchez. Sure, I would have preferred that the Giants not trade for Garko or Sanchez, but you need to be able to distinguish the moves that hurt the Giants long-term from the ones where, if it fails, it's no big deal. These are no big deals.
  • Really bad are the people who hold long-term grudges for past and present trespasses. Again, there is the element of being able to distinguish the moves that hurt the team long-term vs. the ones where you have to take a risk and if it fails, at least you tried. No GM is perfect, and certainly not Sabean. You have to look at the big picture, but people just nurse their grudges.
  • To me, GM's need to take risks, they need to be willing to fail with their moves, whether trades or free agents. But I don't like stupid risks. I don't recall any stupid risks that really rankles me, other than passing up trying to sign Vlad (though supposedly Vlad hated Felipe Alou, so perhaps that was a factor). The thing is that fans tend to forget about the context of the move made, they don't remember that at all, remembering just the final results. Evaluation is not all about final results, though that is part of it, you need to take the thinking process and decision making into account as well.
  • People also worry about the money too much. The team took risks and spent the money. I would rather they tried - for the most part - than to sit back and wait for the "right" deal. GM's who do that end up with an empty basket.

The big picture, to me, is that the team is primed to be a serious contender next season. We control Cain and Sanchez for another two seasons, Lincecum and Wilson for another four, Sandoval for five. Posey and Bumgarner are poised to join this group and contribute. Hopefully Zito is over his problems with the contract and can continue to pitch like this season, but I think we just have to take each season one at a time and continue to hope for the best. That is a great core group to have.

We can also expect to get improvements next season over this season. In particular, Sandoval and Sanchez should hopefully put together a full season instead of a half season of excellent performance. And we got so little from 2B and SS, that it won't take much to get improvement there. 1B should be an improvement, whether Ishikawa or Garko or both there. Rowand is apparently this average with us, but right now, I would take average, at least that is consistent. I think either Schierholtz or Bowker can deliver more offense in RF than what Winn did this season, he was pretty bad this season. And while I hope Bowker would be the LF (with Velez and Lewis as backup), it sounds like Velez will be the starting LF next season, and LF was so bad that he should be able to match that. And while Posey can't replace Molina's 20 HR, I think his batting can be good enough to replace his OPS with a much higher OBP, which I think would be key for making our 2010 offense better.

I think we are set up nicely for the future, and thus that is why I am glad Sabean will get the extension.


  1. I didn't really read this post.

    A couple of weeks ago if this move had happened, I would have been beside myself. However, my current reaction is ambivalent, thanks to your rationalization.

    Hopefully it's a two-year deal; this will give him the chance to perform a one-year makeover of the offense (best-case scenario going from 30th in wOBA to top 20) and will also give Neukom the option to can him if he continues to make bad decisions in free agency.

    There are a lot of options this offseason, and a billion ways Sabean can go. Let's see what happens!

  2. If history has told us anything, brace yourself for Sabean to provide an influx of veteran players on the downside of their carreers who will be grossly overpaid pver their value. When they go in the tank offensively, Bochy will still run them out in the field every day. However, expect the team to be full of gamerness

    /sighs with resignation over looking at another couple of years of mediocrity.

  3. Ok, I've read it now. People really wanted to trade Bumgardner and Posey? How asinine. If you're going to play the hindsight game, there are much better things to say, like:
    - Don't sign Johnson and use Correia, then sign Adam Dunn

    That's an easy one. But like I said, in hindsight, you know things you otherwise wouldn't. So I wouldn't take that as a legitimate argument. Trading Posey and Bumgardner is just stupid.

    This offseason is going to be scary in a way. There are a ton of traps that Sabean could fall into:
    - Signing Molina to a contract of any length
    - Signing Uribe based on this year's performance
    - Signing Penny
    - Not picking up the Sanchez option
    - Signing any 5th starter for Johnson-type money
    - Buying high on Figgins or Scutaro, who have had anomalous runs of success this season (and last, for Scutaro)
    - Blocking Garko/Ishikawa/Future Neal by signing a 3B and putting Sandoval at 1B

    Each one of these moves would be very bad for the Giants next year and in the future.

    If Sabean manages to navigate around all of these pitfalls, I'll have a much higher opinion of him and I'll give credit where it's due.

  4. I don't know who he is referring to, but I have yet to see anyone proposing to trade Posey and/or Bumgarner. These guys are our building blocks.

    Out of all the things you listed above, I'd be OK with bringing Penny back on a 1 year make good contract. If they could get him for $5 - $6M incentive laden contract, he''d be a good addition.

    No to Molina, No to Uribe on a multi-year contract (but OK on a 1 year deal, if Renteria's contract is eaten and he is at SS), NO to exercising the FSanchez option (but OK for a 2 year $10M contract). Sandoval's future is almost assuredly at 1B, so who cares about Garkishikowker? Make a real move to bring in a power hitting 3B & OF, if possible.

    Having said all that, I hold no illusions that Sabean will probably get very few, if none, of those done.

  5. 5th starter $$ kind of wasted on this team, no? Kevin Pucetas is ready.

    Sandoval is more valuable as a 3B. If he can stay there for the rest of his career, he should. We can get the big boppers at 1B from within (Neal) or from without (Fielder when he becomes a free agent). There aren't as many options at 3B. And once Sandoval moves over, chances are he'll never go back.

  6. How exactly do you mean we've spent the money? We had a payroll on 80 something million. I think thats somewhere in the Royals vicinity. That's not what I consider spending the money. We rolled out alot of young guys with cheap deals. We "spent" our money givng 9 mill to a guy that no one was happy to sign in renteria and a 46 year old pitcher who predictably broke down with half a season to play. I, for the life of me, can't figure out why we have a middle of the league payroll with that ballpark in that market. Frustrating

  7. Martin, where would you have Sabes sign a big bat? What I mean to say is who would be the odd man out? Do we go for a corner infielder and push Garko/Ishi to the bench? Do we get a corner outfielder and push Velez/Bowker/Schierholz to the bench? If we resign Uribe and Franchez, where does Uribe play? He's not likely to accept a reserve-type role.
    I'd prefer we sign a firstbaseman. I like Pablo at third. If he slips down a bit in the offseason he should increase his range a bit.
    I also would prefer signing Uribe to Franchez but there's no way the team lets him go as a rental. They could offer him arbitration and maybe snag a draft pick. I hope we do the same to Molina. If he rejects, he's a type A. If he accepts, we keep him til Posey is ready and we deal him off.
    What do you think of Baggs' idea to try and sign Towers as assistant GM or a VP or something like that? I think you might end up with too many roosters in the hen house.

  8. Bringing in vets is a balance between wanting to be competitive vs. letting the young guys get a chance to start.

    I don't see what the complaining is about. He's been conservative in the past two offseasons. He could have picked up 1B and 3B, etc., in the 2008 offseason, but left both open, which costed them when Frandsen went down and we were forced to use Castillo (instead of trading for an overpriced, over the hill vet).

    He could have picked up a 1B and 2B over the 2009 offseason but left those two spots for prospects to try to win.

    I originally thought Sabean was going to pursue a LF, because, really, there is nothing out there interesting other than OF for a middle of lineup hitter, like Bay or Ankiel. I don't see anyone for 1B or 3B on the free agent list that really interests me.

    But recent talk suggests that they are going to play Velez next season. Now he could play 2B but I assume the Giants are going to work hard to sign Sanchez to a market fair 2-year contract, and not just pick up his $8M option. However, I don't think it's the end of the world either if he does.

    Look at it this way: if he does pick up the option, it would only be $1-3M more than what we would pay on the market, and that person we would probably have to commit to for 2-3 years, and he might not be as good as Sanchez, the options are not that interesting there either, from the lists I see.

  9. Meanwhile, the offense should be improved in 2010 vs. 2009 even with no moves. We have Garko who has played well in previous seasons. Now that he can start out with us, learned a few pitchers, feel more comfortable, I think he can hit as well as he did with Cleveland. Meanwhile, he platoons with Ishikawa at 1B, plus Ish gets put in defensively when Garko starts.

    Sanchez at 2B should be an improvement. Almost anyone except for Burriss would be an improvement.

    Renteria couldn't get worse.

    Sandoval should get better, even if he isn't any better than he is now, because he'll be doing it over a full season instead of half a season.

    I would be OK moving Sandoval to 1B if we could get a better 3B (of course, that would be the dreaded overpaid vet that people hate, but if you want a better 3B that's who you would have to get). There are none out on free agency. If you are going to talk about what the Giants should or should not do, it would behoove you to be aware of who is available on the free agent market. And 3B like that don't fall out of trees in trade talks.

    Just because Sandoval's eventual position is 1B does not mean you can't keep him at 3B while he's still capable and make use of the assets we have in Garko and Ishikawa.

    Just human nature says both will platoon at 1B in 2010, Sabean will probably keep Garko to get some more value from the trade but even beyond such petty ego moves, Garko is a good MLB hitter, he just couldn't deliver for us in his short time for us and Bochy had to move on.

    Rowand couldn't get worse.

    Schierholtz should not hit any worse than Winn did in RF.

    And Bowker/Velez/Torres should be better than the LF we had in 2009 too.

    Oh, and at catcher, Molina had a very down year, I don't see Posey doing any worse if given a full season to adjust. Even if he doesn't match Molina's 20 HR, if he can match the OPS, and especially beat handily the OBP, I think that would add a lot to the offense, hitters who are more even in terms of OBP and SLG are better for equivalent OPS (just the math).

    Good word I heard was that Zito's difficulties with Posey in his first start with him disappeared in the second. And Cain did OK with Posey in yesterday's game, despite difficulties with his first time with Posey. Hopefully Posey rakes in the AFL and Giants decide to start him.

    Not a big improvement offensively, but I expect the pitching to be even better in 2010. Sanchez should finally be doing it over a full season instead of half. Lincecum and Cain should be just as good. Zito will be Zito, but with more velocity, so I expect a repeat of 2009, which was pretty good for any pitcher, excellent compared to what he was doing before.

    Our bullpen should be improved by the removal of Howry and the addition of Runzler and maybe Joaquin.

    So he might not make any free agent moves or trades and we should be improved in 2010, and perhaps a mid-season trade could get us over the top.

  10. Colorado is the team to beat in 2010 I believe. They have a great rotation, good bullpen, good lineup. LA benefited from over-performance from Pierre and Hudson for 1-2 months, then replaced them when they faded. And unless they sign someone good over the off-season, their rotation looks shaky.

    I would mostly agree with dregarx's assessment of things Sabean should not do, except if he signs Penny to Johnson-type money for a year. I would like to see Penny here for $5-8M plus incentives, that would be a monster rotation. Pucetas is not ready, high 4 ERA in AAA means he is probably a 5-6 ERA in majors. He may have hit his ceiling.

    And I don't want anyone to block Bumgarner's way, though most probably one of our young starters will probably be traded after the 2010 season.

    The payroll has been around $90M for the past 3-4 years, before dipping to $80M-ish in 2009. Frankly, there was nothing I would want them to spend on to reach $90M anyway in 2009, may as well save it for 2010.

    The reason we don't spend more is because we have to pay $20M every year on the mortgage on the park. Once that is over in 2018 (or so), then we can spend more.

    People get all bothered by the offense, then get pushed into thinking a trade would be the solution and make short-sighted decisions.

    Look at Sanchez. Think we won't get a lot more for him now than last off-season? I think we could get even more next off-season, hopefully we can sign him to a contract his off-season that runs into his free agent years, that would make him even more valuable to trade.

    And there were people wanting to trade Bumgarner and Posey. Not sure exactly where, I go to a lot of places, but I saw them. If you don't believe me, I'm fine, at this point, I don't really care much anymore, Sabean should be back, unless he doesn't like the conditions Neukom tries to put in the contract (assuming Neukom does such a move; I'm trying to think of a scenario where Neukom wants Sabean back and Sabean declines).

    My main point, anyhow, is that people are selling the future short with the moves they have been suggesting to fix the offense now. We need to cultivate and grow our players internally so that when we do trade them, we get more from them than when they are undeveloped.

    Think Cain isn't worth more in trade now, as well as Sanchez? (not that I'm advocating trading Cain, but it's a possibility; I would like Lincecum-Cain be our main duo for the 10's, plus perhaps Bumgarner).

    We need to build up to the point where we can make the big trade without it being a trade that does nothing but open one hole while fixing another hole. That doesn't win you championships. Developing players who can provide performance (and hence value) is the way to do that.

  11. I think the big bat has to come from pursuing someone for LF, like Bay or most probably Ankiel (or perhaps Baldelli). I think Bay will be overpriced when the bidding is done. Ankiel, however, would come at a much lower cost, though that would entail more risk, of whether 2009 or 2008 is his true value. Baldelli would entail the risk of injury, he's never played a full season since his first. I think the Giants will have to take some level of risk to get this big bat, and I would prefer it via free agents than trading.

    About Tower, it all depends on what Sabean wants from him (or even Neukom). Yeah, too many cooks in the house, but maybe Tower might like the lesser pressure in a lower position, helping a friend like Bochy (presumably Sabean would let him make trades) while waiting for a better position to come along. Maybe Neukom might like the competitive pressure having Towers in house as a possible replacement in two years (or whenever Sabean's contract next ends). Or maybe Neukom might like having him as an option should Sabean decide he don't want to return to the Giants under the conditions Neukom wants to run things from now on.

    Too many variables to truly assess, but yes, generally, too many roosters in the hen house is the best we can say right now. Depends on how well they can play together in the sand box, whether they want to play together, etc.

  12. Good point about Pucetas. I still think $ on 5 spot is not the best way to go. Bay will be overpaid, he's not as good as 2009. I can't believe they think Velez/Torres will cut it at a corner OF position. I'd go with Bowker at one corner and a 1-year deal to a vet like Abreu or Matsui, where Lewis/Velez/S'holtz can spell the old man or replace in case of injury.

    The best way to maximize the return on Jonathan Sanchez would be to keep him until he proves himself as a bona fide #2 (at least) and deal him either before or during his last year of arbitration, right before his salary skyrockets.

  13. hey ogc,

    time to change the blog name to....iluvkissingsabeansbuttcheeks

    nice of you to give him a pass for all the gaffes that have brought fandom into thinking a team with an overall payroll close to 97 mil (its true...check it out)finishing with a winning record is just good enough

    this org is pathetic

    sabean is pathetic (espn agrees with me)

    bochy is pathetic, as he manages every team, every year, exactly the same way

    keep this post up...for i now guarantee that the giants will not be in the post season next year

  14. Ankiel is exactly the type of player that Sabean might bring expensive veteran who is really not all that good and is slipping in his effectiveness. Sounds like a perfect candidate for a 4 year, $60M contract Sabean special.

  15. bacci40, as long as you change your name to:


    I give Sabean no pass, hence why I'm not calling for him to be GM for life. I think he deserves another two years to see what he can do with what he has built.

    I like what he has done overall. If you don't that's fine, but you know how you feel and I know how you feel.

    Yeah, pathetic organization that just went from 72-90 to 88-74, almost reversing its win/loss from last year.

    Oooh, ESPN agrees with you, well, I better just give up my blog and hide MY head in the sand, that really showed me, didn't it?

    I don't really care who agrees with you. What I care about is the facts that I see and the logic I've put together to understand what is happening with the Giants team. I've documented and discussed what my thoughts are here on my blog, and encapsulated most of it in my Hey Series. Nobody has been able to bring up FACTS that counter my thinking process and logic, so I will stick to my current position. When others show me analysis and research facts that suggest that I went awry somewhere, I will change.

  16. So, Bacci, you are guaranteeing that the Giants will not be in the post season next season.

    I would never guarantee that they will be in the playoffs - there are too many variables to say that. I will say that I think that they will be competing for the division title with Colorado next year, and maybe LA if they can improve their rotation during the off-season plus additional growth from their young hitters. And that the Giants should be competing for the title for at least the next few years, or else I would seriously think about canning Sabean.

    What I wonder is, if we search your comments over the past year, whether you were also guaranteeing that the Giants would not reach .500, let alone finish 14 games above .500 as they did this season.

    I mean, this is nothing new for you, you have been complaining about Sabean (as I noted, and which you probably missed because you probably just saw my title and decided to comment, I don't really care for the return of Bochy) for a long while now.

    All I can say is, if he's really as bad as you (and many others) say he is as a GM, then how did he change the team from a 71-91 team in 2007 and 72-90 team in 2008 to a 88-74 team in 2009?

    And why are you only guaranteeing that they won't make the playoffs? Why not stick your neck out more and say that the Giants won't even reach .500? If Sabean is as bad as you and others think, shouldn't that be your prediction?

    I mean, presumably a GM as bad as many of you have described could not possibly do that by accident. How does that happen, baseball is not that random that a lousy GM can suddenly turn things around in one year and almost reverse his W/L record.

    Sure, they can be as random as to allow, say, KC to be barely over .500 one season (2003) but their Pythagorean W/L was 78-84, so they actually lucked into that one by a 5 game swing.

    But the Giants at least earned their good record, their Pythagorean was 86-76 this season, so there was only a little luck involved.

    So how did the Giants turn themselves around so completely this season? It couldn't be their "pathetic" GM who put together this team?

    And if he's so bad, then the Giants should revert to lousiness next season, why aren't you guaranteeing that they will end up below .500 next season?

  17. Boof, Ankiel isn't worth 4 years at $60M, but nice strawman. If that is what he wants, then he can sit on a bench somewhere because he should not get that.

    He needs a make good contract to prove that 2008 is the real him and not 2009, and if Boras don't realize that, then he's more stupid than I think he is (and I think he's plenty smart, though also plenty slimy).

    I would prefer the Giants not sign anyone, but I can see Sabean doing that to improve the chances that 2010 is an improvement over 2009. Given the talk about Velez, that would preclude signing a free agent LF, though perhaps RF could be the next target, if they have decided that Schierholtz isn't worth giving a shot to and don't want to open up a spot for Bowker.

    However, the pattern in the last couple of years is that if there are young players who appear to be ready for the big show, they have left a spot open for him, whether 1B and 3B (plus competition for 2B)in 2008, or 1B, 2B, and 3B plus giving Lewis LF in 2009. So I have strong hopes that the Giants will leave LF open for Velez/Torres and RF open for Schierholtz/Bowker and 1B open for Ishikawa/Garko.

    A big variable, however, is if they cannot convince Sanchez to sign a lower amount contract for 2010-11, then they might change their plans, move Velez to 2B and try to sign a power hitting OF for LF.

    And given all these young unproven positions, that would suggest that the Giants will try to sign a free agent catcher who would be willing to sign for just one year with the knowledge that Buster Posey would be coming up sometime during the 2010 season, and taking over the starting position. Like what Greg Zaun did for the Orioles in 2009, coming in to start and moving aside when Weiters came up.

    I would prefer to just start him right away to start the 2010 season, but that is the way of the MLB now, teams seem to hold their top prospects in the minors early in the season, then bring them up mid-season, thus gaining another season of control over the player. As a fan, I can understand wanting to hold onto a player like Lincecum or Posey for another year, even if that costs the team an extra year of arbitration. For good players like them, they are still worth that extra year of arbitration.

  18. Damn, I hate this limit, I just lost a lot of text!!!

  19. Basically, I've reached the point where I've realized that I can lead the horse to water, but I can't make it drink.

    I've been like this since elementary school, I just have this obsessive need to help people (and part of that come from my appreciation of ants and their society of selfless help and a big part because my father was always a helper, and that's why he died, because he was thinking of others but not about his own health), but I am now realizing that I can't help everyone.

    So I've been feeling sad, like I have failed people, because I have not been able to show them what I see, have not used the right words to convey my thoughts, have not seen it from the proper perspective to get people to see what I see so clearly.

    And I've been doing this since 2003, when I saw a bunch of Giants fans get all glum over that season and 2004, and they couldn't enjoy those seasons, just a lot of grousing.

    And then this season, it was a GREAT season, there was Pandamonium, the Kid striking out batters and saving people money on bleacher seats, the Raising of Cainer, the Zen mojo of Brian Wilson, the no-no of Sanchez, there was a lot to enjoy and appreciate.

    Yet, the way people are acting, you would think the Giants were 74-88 and not the other way around.

  20. So I'm not going to try anymore, though I will probably can't help myself and post some replies to the Naysayers, but I will try not to repeat myself anymore: I've said it here and if you don't think that I'm making sense, then perhaps you should reconsider your usage of your time.

    And, who knows, maybe all the facts, and analysis, and logic that I've put together is wrong somewhere, that is partly why I write, if I'm wrong somewhere, then someone should be able to show and convince me others.

    But, for now, I'm the one who said before the season that the Giants could reach the upper 80's in wins, that 89 wins is not impossible to think about under the right circumstances. It is the Sabean Nayers who said before the season that the Giants would not go anywhere, that they would be lousy once more.

    I also like how many of them swung around and then wrote vehemently that now that we are close to the playoffs, we must sell our future to make the playoffs this season, damn the future.

    Without noting the dichotomy of the situation: if they didn't think the Giants could make the playoffs before the season, meaning that they totally misjudged the Giants situation, then how can they think they know what the Giants need going forward? What new insight have they made that nullifies a whole season of pretty good baseball to justify their viewpoint?

    So, for all the Sabean Naysayers who thought that he was lousy and everything, first thing they have to do this offseason is look themselves in the face and explain how someone as bad as they say Sabean is could have put together a team that went 88-74 in 2009.

    I mean, I understood why people were so against him in 2007 when he got his latest contract, I just felt differently. But this time, he built not only a winning team but one that came close to making the playoffs. That's quite an accomplishment, given the previous losing years.

    He was the one who put together the team. That is a dichotomy I've seen nobody explain yet, how someone as dumb as they think Sabean is, as error prone as they think Sabean is, as lost as they think Sabean is, could have done this.

    Luck? You don't luck into a rotation like this. You build it with a steady focus on it. Same with the bullpen.

    And you can't build a whole team all at once, it takes a number of years to put all the pieces together and get it to gel.

    And you don't build a team without making mistakes along the way. That's one tough lesson I had growing up, learning that mistakes aren't the end of the world.

    Ah, but I digress, once again, saying the same old, same old.

    I'm sorry all you Sabean Naysayers don't like him. It truly makes me sad that people couldn't enjoy a season like this season. I enjoyed the season, and I look forward to many more in the future, hopefully, if Sabean can keep moving forward. I think he has earned that chance to prove himself, he has done a good job rebuilding the Giants.

    Now he needs to take the next step and get us into the playoff regularly and eventually to become World Series champions.

    Go Giants!

  21. I posted this on ELM:

    I don't see where they overperformed this season, other than they won 88 and their Pythagorean was 86 wins.

    And who overperformed, really? Maybe Sandoval, but he was only OK in 3 of the 6 months, so that leaves a lot of space for backsliding without nullifying his 2009 season's performance.

    Lincecum was super again, and thus no backslide to be expected. Cain maybe, but he's been building up to this, so I don't see any logic to say he would backslide either. Sanchez was horrible for half a season, so there is little backslide there, other than he won't have a no-no (most probably).

    Zito is the best candidate for backsliding, given his 2007 and 2008 seasons, but there are logical seasons why he should continue to do well going forward, first and foremost, his velocity returned to early career norms.

    Wilson? Building up. Affeldt? Sure, but Runzler and Joaquin look to be good additions in 2010. Medders and Miller? Maybe, but we have good relievers across the pen, including Romo, plus in the minors. It should work out about the same.

    Offensively, frankly, almost everyone other than Sandoval underperformed. Ishikawa had a horrible month and a half, then was around 800 OPS for the rest of the season. Garko platooning with him should further ensure that backslide don't happen. 2B was so bad that even a bad Franchez season would be a huge improvement, and if not him, Frandsen and Velez should be able to do as poorly, but not any poorer. Renteria also couldn't do any worse at SS, and if we should be lucky enough to resign Uribe to a one year contract, he should be able to keep the backslide from happening.

    OF similarly. LF and RF were bad, but with Velez, Schierholtz, Bowker, Lewis, and Torres around and getting significant ABs, we should not be any worse there.

    C, as nicely as Molina did, it was still low 700 OPS. Posey better be able to do that in his sleep, even in his first season, or he's not the prospect he has made himself appear to be this season.

    I see no reason for much backsliding in 2010, except for the bullpen maybe, but I'm really jazzed about adding Runzler and Joaquin to the mix for 2010.

    Thus, I think the team, right now, should win at least mid-80's in games for 2010, and it would take a few steps forward by people like Sandoval, Sanchez, Schierholtz, Bowker, plus return for Renterial and Rowand, to move into strong playoff contention.

  22. I don't know what Ankiel is going to ask for, but judging from past experience, Sabean will probably offer a contract like that (think Rowand here) that no other team would offer. It was a comment mired in sarcasm on my part.

    You shouldn't take it personally when many people disagree with you on Sabean. You are in the minority in that opinion based on what I see out in the blogosphere. In a strange way, it is actually commendable that you continue to stand by your opinion and support him. It's your opinion and, not only are you entitled to it, but you should and do stand behind it.

    However, it doesn't doesn't make you right or wrong and the same goes for the dissenters that comment on those opinions. Opinions are not facts on whichever side you come down on. There will always be those that will agree with you and those that don't, especially when you are commenting on a lightning rod for criticism like Sabean has become. Keep in mind that people are not attacking you, they are disagreeing with that opinion. There is a difference there. If we all agreed on everything, there's be no need for blogs to beat these issues up and down the block.

    Oh, and by the way, you owe me a headline.

  23. Boof, I guess you missed my post to your first reminder, but I recall a bet, but don't recall what headline I owe you and why. I'll be happy to comply as soon as you remind me.

    Thanks also for you comment and pep-talk. Sorry if it came off like it bothers me that others disagree. It only bothers me that I cannot figure out how to explain what I see so clearly so that everyone can see what I see.

    But yes, I understand it's my opinion and I understand that's their opinion.

    I'm just tired of spinning my wheels. I realized that I can only say things a certain number of times before I wear out. I'm still sticking to my opinion, at least until I see something to convince me otherwise, and will understand, as before, if others stick to theirs. I just don't want to blow chunks of time repeating myself anymore.

    I'm also sad that people couldn't enjoy this season. I feel like I let people down by not being eloquent enough or persuasive enough to have people see what I feel I see. I truly feel that this was a great season and it was a great experience for me, and I feel bad that others are not enjoying it as much.

    It wasn't as bad for other seasons, they were more what could be expected, but this one was one like 1986, where the young guys came together and started winning, but instead of a rosey glow for the team, there's only a lot of people upset about Sabean, which I don't understand.

    So feel free to state your point of view, I understand and respect that, I believe that is how our nation became as great as it has. I will just not be as quick or eager to fight the same battle over and over again, that is all.

  24. See the comments to your March 5, 2009 entry. It had to do with the bet we had on your pre-season assessment of the Dodgers team.

    I will say that, related those pre-season assessments, that you were more correct about the Giants than I was. You predicted 86-88 wins and I thought they'd be more closer to a .500 team.

    I don't think it's a matter of people not enjoying this season. I think it's more that, with the pieces that the Giants already in place, an upgrade to the offense would've put them in the playoffs this year. Instead of wasting tons of dollars on the likes of Renteria, Johnson & Rowand, getting a couple of impact bats could've pushed them over the top. People are expressing frustration with Sabean's seeming fascination with washed up veterans. I think everyone was excited to see the Giants perform better than expected, but also wanted that little push more that could've been provided, but wasn't.

  25. A fine discussion, good people, but I believe your direction is a bit wild, uncalculated for success, and circuitously rationalized. There is no way I will accept a "don't do anything" argument for this highly flawed team. Development of our current players would be better maximized by constructing the whole with better balance of all skills anyways. Besides, its not our money, and Neukom's already on record stating payroll will probably go up.

    Improvement needs to be geared toward improving weaknesses, not on the isolated abilities of each individual. Example: corner OFers. We need to get away from bald stats citations. Velez-Torres-Bowker-S'holtz demonstrate a common weakness of not being able to help sustain a lineup's production. While their collective superb defense really needs to be the crux of the pro-argument.

    The biggest bottom-line this offseason is that the roster is full of the same kinds of players; hackers who can play D, but can't get on base/steal bases, or knock in runs. We need some of that, but not from everybody. A number of them are also out of options, and will need to be tendered new contracts, perfect scenario for minor trading.

    Sabean should be able to identify dealing a couple of these players in packages that can net helpful players with other offensive skills, such as low-avg/high OBP and/or SLG players, and/or good defense in the infield (our next big area for improvement on a team that owes much of its improvement to defense in the OF).

  26. I'd be OK with signing Adrian Beltre to an incentive laden deal and sliding KFP over to first.
    I'd like the team to strongly consider a Rowand for Bradley swap if at all possible. Prior to '09, Bradley had two straight seasons with an OPS over 1.000. I think some of that took place in Arlington, which is obviously a hitter's park, but still...

  27. Any thoughts about moving Posey to first? We can sign Molina to two years, keep Eli as a backup and groom J Williams to takeover the roll in 1+ years. Also, a note in Bochy's favor: he handled the pitching staff and the bullpen exceedingly well this year. I still have nightmere's of Alou.

  28. Alex,

    I only have bad thoughts about that scenario. Buster at 1b negates almost all of his value. He's shown his defense is actually more developed at catcher than his offense at this point. With a great arm. No way, that's a waste. Molina is the most expensive catcher on the market this year. He's not bad, but he is not a good priority for us, and he's only perfect for a big market club that can deal with overpaying him as remaining roster piece. Jackson Williams, might barely maybe, bat .250 in the bigs some day. He's Holm-Whiteside-esque fodder, that will all sort itself out. If you want to look down the road, check Hector Sanchez, my friend.

  29. Here's a question. You seem to have a pretty clear vision of what a championship Giants team will look like. Can you compare them to a team from the last 5 years in baseball that we are trying to emulate? Just curious.
    This was a great season, it was amazing to care about the team after May for a change, and things should only get better, but Sabean and Bochy at the helm scare me. Since you feel that Sabean has been doing his job I was just curious what you think the end game team will look like/play like?

  30. Obviously, hard to say exactly what the end game is, since it depends on whether other teams deal with you or not. But here is what I see happening, at one point or another.

    I think the Giants will try to extend both Cain and Lincecum long-term into their free agent years. If either balks, they become trading bait.

    By the time Bumgarner joins the rotation and is ace-worthy, hopefully 2012, we should have a clear idea of where Cain and Lincecum fits in with the Giants future.

    The goal is to cultivate our young starters to ace status, have a great rotation, then trade off one of the aces for a bunch of prospects we need long-term, to cover our farm system during the early 10's. The Haren trade is what I'm modeling that on, getting a bushelful of good to great prospects for our ace pitcher.

    But there is no team that I'm modeling over the past 5 years, maybe it would be better to look at the Braves and their run starting in 1990, with Glavine, Smoltz, and eventually Chipper and Andruw and Maddux.

    Still, even with a trade, we would have a rotation of 3 ace-level starters - among Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner - plus Wheeler coming up in 3-5 years, which could mean another trade to pick up a bunch of prospects again.

    These trades are going to restock our farm system with good prospects, much like it did the A's, while we are winning, because winning means bad draft position, low probability of finding a good player with that pick. That should keep the dynasty that should be starting, going all through the 2010's, feeding in good young guys into the roster.

    Also, keep on focusing on pitchers throughout the draft, to find another good one along the way, like a Sanchez or Wilson or Accardo, in the back rounds.

    Plus, keep on looking internationally, both Carribean as well as Japan and Korea. Leave no stone unturned, as the draft is now exponentially harder to use to get a good player once you start winning.

    The fifth pitcher could be from the farm system, it could be a MLB free agent who had a poor year last year and so has something to prove. Not that important, but fill in as needed.

    Offensively, we should be set with Sandoval and Posey 4th and 5th. We also have average type hitters in Franchez, Rowand, Renteria, Schierholtz, Bowker, Ishikawa, Garko, Velez, Frandsen, Burriss, Neal, Kieschnick, Crawford, Pill, Bond, Gillaspie, Noonan, to fill up the rest of the lineup. Plus, perhaps Villalona might be exonerated and he could be joining us in the majors in 3-4 years.

    We don't need a great offense to win. We just need a good enough one. And we can build one piecemeal to get where we want to go.

    As bad as it was this year, we still won 88 games. As noted, lots of things went bad that could and should be good instead in 2010. Just incremental growth with the guys we have should get us to 90 wins in 2010. But we need another good bat to push past the Rockies and Dodgers.

    What Sabean needs to get over the next two years is another bat for either power or high OBP/SB, for the top of the lineup. Maybe that's available via free agency, maybe that's available via trade. Maybe Bowker is both those guys. Maybe Neal or Kieschnick are the power guy; maybe Bond or Noonan are the OBP guy. That's something to be learned and has to happen in the next two years.

  31. The vision is to have a great pitching rotation pick up the slack elsewhere, because that is the key to increasing your chances of winning in the playoffs, having dominant pitchers who can shut down the other team, no matter how good they are.

    That is what I've learned from studying PQS (look in my index). The best pitchers - ace pitchers - can shut down the other team a larger percentage of the time than other pitchers, keeping even lousy offenses in the game and giving them a chance to win each game.

    Think how Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling helped Arizona to the World Series championship. Think how Koufax and Drysdale kept LA in the mix for the World Series every year, winning it twice, while carrying one of the worse offenses around. If any team is the model I'm looking at, it's the D-gers team of the 60's with Koufax and Drysdale leading a poor offensive team to winning the World Series.

    Where we are is the early 60's when the D-gers offense was very poor but the pitching was getting good. We need to build the offense up to average, upon which the D-gers won in 1963 and they won again in 1965, despite a below average offensive team.

    The league average was 4.03 and they averaged 3.75 in 1965. We are not far off, the league average is 4.43, the LA equivalent would be 4.12, or 93% of average, and we are at 4.06, and averaged 4.11 from June to end of season. With our 3.77 RA/G that works out to 88 wins for 2010 if they just do what they are doing at the end of the year.

    Factor in Sandoval hitting over a full season like he did after May, plus Sanchez pitching well all season instead of since the no-hitter, plus Franchez at 2B, and that gets us to 90+ wins, with no changes.

    The competitive advantage I'm looking for is that pitching can dominate games regularly, as you can see from my PQS studies. Hitting cannot do that, it can be hot (2002 Giants), but not every game, or it can be cold (2000 Giants) at inoportune times.

    And even when you have great offense, if the pitching is only OK in PQS you risk wasting good offense, and 2002 was only OK despite the low ERA. Here are their numbers: Estes 34%DOM, Livan 36%DOM, Ortiz 39%DOM, Rueter 27%DOM, Schmidt 72%DOM; where 40%+ is good, 50%+ is great, 70%+ is elite. Only Schmidt you could rely on to pitch great almost every start, whereas, over two-thirds of the time, you could worry about a wild bad game from the other starters. And we got that during the World Series.

    People forget but we really lost the 2002 series in the second game when we came back from way behind (5-0 and 7-4) to take the lead, score 10 runs, and still lost the game.

    Look at our rotation this season (to August): Cain 65%DOM, Lincecum 82%DOM, Sanchez 45%DOM, even Zito 52%DOM. We have a dominant rotation, unlike 2002 where we merely had a good rotation, despite the good RA/G.

    With a rotation like that, we can be in enough to win every series we get into, whether in the regular season or the playoffs. Add a Penny on the relative cheap (about same as Johnson's $8M) in 2010, and the rotation is solid up and down, no letdown for the other team in any series.

    They ended up 39-40 but for most of the last couple of months (the Cubs series is probably what cost them)they were one of 3-4 teams that had a record over .500 against teams that had a record over .500. Most teams did poorly, though the D-gers, to their credit, did very well (48-35), only the Phillies was more than 1 game over .500 (40-36). Colorado was 38-43.

    It was having a rotation so strong that allowed us to do all that. Now we just have to build up the offense a bit more to reach the playoffs. It might not happen in 2010 (doesn't look good right now), but if Sabean wants to keep his job, it has to happen by 2011.

  32. Alex, Posey is at best an average player playing 1B. Playing C, he is an elite player. Playing 2B or SS, probably still elite, but not as elite as C. He might be able to still be good if he could play good defense at 3B and hit like he can, but not elite.

    I like Bochy overall but think that he would fail when put into playoff pressure situations. You need to have the killer instinct there, and I think he failed at that late in the season.

    Williams, as the other poster noted, is at best a backup catcher. He will be lucky to hit .250, heck, he will be lucky to hit .200. He strikes out way too much already and he's actually old to be a good prospect in the league and he's only in advanced A.

    I like Hector Sanchez too (see other posts) but he's too far down to think much of him, he was older for the Rookie league (19 YO) but did not dominate and struck out way too much.

    Stick with Posey at C, hope to get two picks for Molina by offering arbitration, at worse we overpay him in 2010, but if Sabean lets him know that once Posey is ready, he's sitting down for good, there is no way Molina accepts arbitration from us. Besides, he really needs to get a multi-year contract now, taking a one year contract risks showing that 2009 is his new level of performance.

    Then sign a free agent catcher to keep the seat warm for Posey. Zaun has experience doing that. Jose Molina is a great catcher (lousy hitter) that we can tolerate for two-three months before Posey comes up. Then he can teach his tricks to Posey (or Posey can watch and learn), as Jose is so good that Yankee pitchers are choosing him to start instead of Posada.

  33. While I like the Rowand for Bradley on a talent level, I think the team is still too young to deal with a disruptive influence like Bradley, and that would kill the chemistry that gelled pretty well in 2009.

    Now if they gave up Bradley and a good position prospect, like Fox or Fuld, while we throw in one of our average position prospect, then I would be willing to listen.



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