The latest writings to get my dander up are by Baggarly and Haft (Shea has often gotten be riled up as well, and I assume Schulman has at some point, but not that I can recall at the moment). And Haft got me riled up with another post he had.
I love Baggs and he brings the most and best news about the Giants to us fans. So I feel a tinge of guilt to pointing him out, but somebody needs to point out the Emperor's new clothes.
First is a minor quibble, but still, his is a widely known, well-respected source of Giants information. He noted that "Sandoval batted .379 from his (natural) right side". Only, his natural side is his left side, as he was born left-handed, but learned (and pretty well) how to throw right-handed. The story is that Sandoval's hero at some point was Omar Vizquel, so he wanted to play SS to emulate his hero, but, obviously, left-handers can't play SS, so he learned to throw right-handed in order to play SS, and from then on he was right-handed, for all intents and purposes. (that's actually a common thing, my mom was left-handed but did a lot of things right-handed)
The other I was more perturbed by, which is when he said that Bochy "preferred Orlando Cabrera to Crawford later in the summer." Because he has inside information, the way it is written, he makes it looks like Bochy preferred Cabrera. What I want to make clear is that any manager should know that having a younger player is better than having an older player, if they are equal in performance.
So that is the conundrum, was Crawford better than Cabrera. At that point, Crawford hadn't played much above the A-level, so all we really had to judge him was his results at the major league level. At the time of the trade, he was batting .190/.275/.261/.536, but if you took away his first two good weeks of hitting, over the next seven weeks (June 9-July 30, when trade for Cabrera), he hit .161/.242/.196/.438 in 29 games started and 37 games played.
So sure, Cabrera was not doing that well, but Crawford at the time of the trade had been hitting poorly over the prior 7 weeks (almost 2 full months of starting, putting the lie to people complaining that Giants management don't play young players), but his hitting was plummeting, as his last three weeks he was hitting .100/.l62/.100/.282, which does not take a sabermetric degree to figure out isn't really good. Really, do people need to make it personal that Bochy and Sabean hates young players or prefer Cabrera over Crawford?
The point was not that Cabrera wasn't any good anymore, nor that the Giants preferred Cabrera over Crawford, but that Crawford had cratered offensively and the Giants felt that he needed to back off, take some time in the minors to fix some things they saw, plus hopefully Cabrera could put in a finishing kick (unfortunately he didn't). Ultimately, the Giants prefer production and Crawford wasn't giving it to them, so they rolled the dice with Cabrera. I have no problem with that, particularly if they thought that Crawford could use the lesser pressure and learn some new batting techniques.
And you know what, the Giants did figure out something. Crawford when he came back was an improved hitter, he hit .225/.295/.325/.620, 12 starts in September plus some other games he got into. If he can hit that over a full season, it would be great to go with his stellar defense at SS. I preferred Cabrera over Crawford given how poorly Crawford was doing for a long time (almost 2 months) plus was doing nothing offensively for almost a month. And it had nothing to do with "preferring Cabrera over Crawford", at least from the numbers perspective. And now I hope the Giants give Crawford the chance to start, but with someone backing up who could keep the seat warm if Crawford still needs some tweaking down in the minors.
That short stretch and his nice showing in the AFL (though he tailed off at the end, but that could have been because he was distracted by his upcoming nuptials) plus, more importantly, his OK contact rate in the majors, he had a 84% contract rate overall (good hitters are at 85% and higher), plus improved by month, 80.5% in June, 84.4% in July, 86.0% in September. I understand small samples and all, but I think that the 84% overall bodes well for the future, plus he improved over time.
In another recent post, (I had intended this to go out on Saturday but somehow screwed that up) he also opined that "you could argue that Sabean should have a larger budget than $130M, after the Giants sold out every game last season. You might be right." Then again, maybe you won't.
OK, I wrote something I wanted to bring over here at Extra Baggs but apparently my comment got removed by his moderator (his ears must have been burning with this sitting waiting to post :^). There are a lot of factors involved with the revenues that prevents them from spending more. Sure, selling out makes a lot of revenues but it also means that you pay a lot more in revenue sharing. The Giants are basically paying into that what the A's get, and the A's have just been pocketing that money instead of making the team good enough to compete and draw bigger crowds in Oakland, they are the team fans should be badgering about increasing their payroll.
In addition, their revenue sharing went up because they accounted for the stadium cost over a 10 year period, per the revenue sharing rules, and thus they started paying even more into revenue sharing starting in 2011.
Plus, they have a host of stadium related expenses which the Giants fans were unwilling to vote to give to the team so they had to build their own park. First and most of all is the $20M mortgage payment, which is mostly principal by now, so they have less interest to write off, taking away more income that they could add to payroll. There is also the stadium upkeep that they have to do because they do own the park. The events they hold there when baseball is not playing helps offset that, but I doubt it covers the entire bill for a full year worth.
I would also point out that a sell-out at SF is not a huge park, it can only hold 42,000 fans, which about average among the top teams. And they averaged $26 per ticket in 2010, the lowest among the top seven teams in valuation. The Red Sox, for example, averaged $53 per ticket in 2010, the Yankees $63. The other were at or just above $30 per ticket. So while they are selling out, apparently that has more to do with their fancy dynamic ticket pricing to ensure sell-outs.
Their payroll in 2010 was in line with their revenues. Player expenses was $114M in 2010 vs. gate receipts of $107M. The Yankees had $236M vs. $300M in gate. Red Sox, $187M vs. $176M in gate. D-gers, $118M vs. $107M in gate. Cubs, $157M vs. $146M in gate. Mets, $139M vs. $123M in gate. And Phillies with $150M in revenues and $124M in gate. And they bumped up their payroll for 2011 to the $120M range.
So, no, I don't think an argument could be made for the Giants spending much more than $130M on payroll in 2012, not unless Larry Ellison bought the team and put all his billions into the team. Until that happens, or until the prices catches up with the top teams and top $30 per ticket, which would add around $15M to the gate (and maybe that happened in 2011, but still that only bumps player expenses to around $122M per the Forbes numbers).
Now, he wasn't as bad as I had initially thought. Still, he makes the case that adding Melky Cabrera is not "enough to correct the vast imbalance between their skilled pitching and somnolent hitting." Well, as I showed in the Posey post, yeah, it does, because he is forgetting that Posey is part of the new mix in the offense in 2012. Why do people not get that losing one of your best hitters, particularly your clean-up batter, does not cripple the offense?
Then in the article about the extensions for Sabean and Bochy, he noted some other things. In response to Baer, he retorts:
"I strongly believe that Brian and Bruce are the best at their crafts in the game," Baer said.That just totally ignores the fact that there was a rebuilding in the middle of all that, a rebuilding and losing that was necessary to restoring competitiveness. Plus, he didn't really name anyone with more winning teams, probably because there are FEW who have, as Sabean is the longest tenured GM, some GMs out there have not even GMed as many seasons as Sabean has had winning seasons (11 winning teams, by the way).
Other current GMs have assembled more winning teams than Sabean, who has built five postseason qualifiers (1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2010). A handful of active managers have tasted triumph more consistently than Bochy, whose teams have finished 1,360-1,376, including 409-401 by the Giants since 2007.
And Bochy was hampered first by the tight-fisted Padres' owners, who dismantled his World Series team right after they made it in, causing him to suffer through 5 losing seasons before the team was rebuilt to win again, plus he took over the Giants during their rebuilding phase, but if you are keeping track, he has three winning seasons with the Giants versus two losing, and does not look like he'll be losing any in the coming seasons either.
These inaccuracies are what are coloring many of the Giants fans thoughts regarding the team. They are teaching this fan base, which are not obsessive enough to dig deeper and thus rely on the beat writers to guide them, to spout the same inaccuracies when they go on-line or talk with their Giants fan friends.
I also just realized that beat writers have a vested interest in having a riled up fan base. I'm not accusing any of them of doing this on purpose or knowingly, but it would make logical sense for them to mislead the fan base in order to keep them disgruntled.
That is something I realized about KNBR night-time hosts, they must have realized at some intellectual level that they need to push the buttons and be controversial and hard on the Giants to keep the callers coming in and goading the callers to call in to complain about the Giants, mainly because a contented fan base do not have much interest in calling in and complimenting the Giants. In fact, all that would be necessary is one call praising the Giants and that would be it. Crickets chirping the rest of the 3-4 hours of the show. So it behooves them to get the fan base riled up and calling in, by pointing out everything and anything, paticularly by biasing the audience towards a touchy-feely position (he loves vets, he signed bad contracts) that really doesn't hold up when the facts are piled on top of each other, but when talking off the cuff, can be easily defended for people who are not really that into the Giants and where facts are not as readily discovered and presented.
Basically, if the fanbase were happy, there probably would not be as much people talking about the Giants and complaining about them in particular. It is just human nature not to have the impetus to say or do anything when things are going well. Less people talking equals less people buying newspapers to see what is happening, less people visiting their websites to see what is happening, less people following his twitters to see what is happening. less people calling into shows, less people listening to shows. This makes economic (survival) sense to keep the fans at least a little hungry and angry, as that stirs up interest in your product, which is news.
It is like the story about the guy who started eBay because his girlfriend at the time wanted to sell her collection of Pez dispensers. Which wasn't true, but the eBay publicist gave that out on a lark, apparently, and that story got legs like you wouldn't know it, as one columnist after another, assuming that the original story was true (it was told by an eBay employee afterall), passed it along. I thought it was true until I read an article exposing that lie.
It is also similar to the Barry Bonds "I'm better than Babe Ruth" comment a few (OK, many) years back. He clearly (to the reporters who knew him) was joking about that, but one reporter who was there didn't know him, so he just reported that verbatim without the context that Bonds was clearly joking, and that blew into a media storm, as one writer after another assumed that the story was true, which culminated with the head of the Babe Ruth Museum taking a pot shot at Bonds.
Another Bonds incident that got blown up and passed around like a joint was when he angrily addressed the throng of writers crowding up to speak to him after the Giants lost the 2002 World Series. Most of them presented him as a surly angry person in their articles regarding that interview, but the ones up front made it clear that when he told everyone to back off in a loud voice, it was because the idiots in the back were pushing forward and the reporters up front threatened to crush Bonds' son, who was with him.
In neither Bonds case, once the truth was known, none of the writers would write a follow-up article noting, "Ooops, I got that one wrong, sorry". But it sure generated a lot of columns and a lot of interest (lots of comments bashing Bonds).
But while I understand that this is the nature of the beast, it does not mean I have to be happy about it either. I hate inaccuracies in the news with a passion, because that will color people's imprressions for a long time, whether true or false. And particularly in the case of the Giants, as I am afraid that the ownership might decide to appease the angry willagers with their pitchforks and torches asking for the heads of Sabean and Bochy.
I will join them and lead the way with my pitchfork when I think Sabean and Bochy are doing anything to endanger the Giants present and future. But as I've been writing for over 4 years now, Sabean has the Giants on the right track and in a good situation. We can be the team of the 2010's decade if the ownership is willing to make it so with their payroll, dipping into the rainy day fund as necessary, freeing Sabean to make baseball moves. I was more encouraged when Neukom was in charge, but will allow Baer time to show his true colors. And as I've written and research on Bochy as well, I've realized that he's a special one too. I am happy for their extensions, they were well deserved.