Westwood Blues

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

And Sometimes the Baseball Gods Smile on You...

* After throwing 144 pitches in a one-hit shut out of the Cubs, Jason Schmidt got an extra two days of rest due to the rainout in San Juan.

* The winning run for the Expos was on third base with one out, when Tyler Walker induced an inning ending double play ball.

* Pedro Feliz walked. I repeat, Pedro Feliz walked.

* Having pitched in the Florida series this past weekend, both Randy Johnson and Brandon Webb will not face the Giants in this series. Johnson and Webb will face the Dodgers over the weekend.

* Last night, Barry Bonds hit a deep fly ball to center field which would've hit high off the wall had a fan not interfered with the play. It was ruled a homerun.

* And miracle of all miracles, pigs began to fly, there's a snow flurry in hell and a World Series victory parade in Boston, famine and flood covers the earth, the Anti-Christ is rising to power, the skies are turning blood red, and the earth is spinning backward because Neifi F. Perez hit a game winning homerun.

Undoubtedly, the baseball gods will now ensure that a million different things will go against the Giants after this streak of good fortune, but it sure has been fun to be a Giants fan for the last week.

The Labrum Diary

Richie Sexson will be a free agent this winter and there will certainly be Giants fans who will want Brian Sabean to sign this slugging first baseman.

The 2004 season came to a close for Richie Sexson as he is headed for the operating room to repair a torn labrum. If Sexson were a pitcher, this type of injury would be career threatening. Obviously, he's not a pitcher, but a labrum tear is a severe injury nonetheless. So severe that the Giants should avoid Sexson when he becomes a free agent this winter.

Shawn Green required surgery to repair a labrum tear (although, from what I understand, his tear was more severe and Green had some other issues with his shoulder). Even after his shoulder surgery, Green is still looking to regain his lost power.

Admittedly, I know next to nothing about this kind of stuff or the details of Sexson's injury in particular, however I do know this:

* The shoulder is one of the more complicated parts of the body, therefore orthopedists' remedies for major shoulder injuries lag behind remedies for other parts of the body.

* Labrum injuries are "baseball's most fearsome injury."

Maybe Sexson will come back perfectly healthy and never reinjure himself and this is all needless speculation on my part. I don't know. The point is that committing 10% of your payroll to a player coming off labrum surgery is a big risk - too big of a risk for the Giants to take. Next winter will feature one of the deepest free agent pools in years. There are plenty of other fish in the sea.

Conclusion: just say no to Sexson.

This is all a moot point anyway because 1) The Giants, having paid Robb Nen nearly $20MM dollars to not throw a pitch for them in 2003 and 2004, probably won't be in a hurry to sign up a player coming off labrum surgery, even if he is a position player. 2) Knowing how the D-Backs operate, Joe Garigiola, Jr. will sign Sexson to a nine year contract extension anyway.

Giants fans in Iraq?

One of the many reasons why baseball is the greatest sport ever is baseball's ability to overcome geographical, political, and socio-economic boundaries. In every corner of the world there are kids who follow baseball.

It warms my heart to see that these Iraqi children share our passion for baseball and the Giants.


Sunday, May 23, 2004

Changes on the Way?

Has Brian Sabean joined the Lunatic Fringe? Sabes dropped the "it's still early" excuse and is now saying that he will make changes to the roster "any day now." So what changes will be made? Sabean's answer surprised me:
Sabean wouldn't discuss potential maneuvers, but he indicated the first option is to acquire help from within the organization. He mentioned minor leaguers Tony Torcato, Todd Linden and Brian Dallimore on the Triple-A Fresno roster.

"We're in the process of determining who to give more playing time to," he said. "We have some players in the minors, guys who can make a contribution to give us a different look and some energy."
Following a 4-1 road trip, Sabean has backed off his original comments. However, given the injuries to Ray Durham and JT Snow, it's likely that someone will be called up from Fresno.

An infusion of youth and energy could be a help to the Giants, but it would also be nice if the minor leaguers in question were any good. Would adding Torcato, or Linden, or Dallimore really help things any? To answer that question let's look at each players' MjEqA. This stat translates a players minor league stats into an estimate of what said players major league EqA would be if he had been playing in the big leagues. I have some issues with this stat (which I won't get into here), but I think MjEqA is still a fairly decent approximation of what a players' EqA would be if he was in the majors.

1) Todd Linden: .214 MjEqA.

To date, Linden's performance this season at Fresno can't be characterized as anything but a disappointment. Despite playing in the hitter friendly PCL, Linden has yet to demonstrate much power this year.

Making Todd Linden the everyday RF would actually be a downgrade from Tuckammondohr. Calling him up to have him rot on the bench would hamper his growth.

In a long term view, I still like Linden as a prospect, and I think he should be given a shot to win a job with the big club next year. But is he ready to contribute to the Giants right now? No. Leave him in Fresno.

2) Tony Torcato: .189 MjEqA

Despite JT Snow's Erstadian OPS, replacing Snow with Torcato would actually be an offensive downgrade (not to mention a big defensive downgrade).

A more realistic option would be to call up Damon Minor who is smoking the ball at Fresno (.278 MjEqA). Also, having Minor split time with Snow at first base, would go a long way to making sure Snow doesn't reach the 2005 option vesting magic number of 450 plate appearances.

3) Brian Dallimore: .256 MjEqA

Ray Durham has apparently hired Jeffrey Hammonds to be his personal trainer, as the suddenly fragile Durham is likely headed for the DL. Again.

Giants fans can't possibly stomach two weeks of the Deivi-Neifi keistone combo, so Dallimore should be called up to start at second base if when Durham is placed on the DL.

Hi Felipe!

As an e-mailer pointed out, it was just a matter of days after I suggested that Pedro Feliz make the start at SS behind Jason Schmidt that Felipe Alou cooperated and gave Feliz the start in Schmidt's start on Tuesday.

Since it's now very obvious that you read this site, I have a couple more suggestions for you, Felipe.

1) Bat Bonds third (or maybe second)

This has been beaten to death (and then beaten to death again) elsewhere, so I won't elaborate too much. Anyway, when you have the greatest hitter since Ted Williams on your roster, you must give him as many PAs as possible. Also, stick your high OBP guys in front of Bonds and your high SLG guys behind him.

2) Kidnap Neifi and leave in a dumpster behind the team hotel in San Juan.

Hey Felipe, Neifi sucks. Just sayin' is all.

News and Notes

The ship in Seattle is going down fast (surprise!) and the Mariners are looking to make some moves. The Tacoma Tribune and John Shea both report that Seattle is looking dump Rich Aurilia, either by trade or an outright release.

I find it hard to believe that Gilvasi will just release Aurilia and eat the $3.5MM contract, but if Seattle does indeed send Rich to the waiver wire, Brian Sabean should snap him up, assuming he clears waivers. Hey, why not?...
...Not that the powers that be in major league baseball ever let logic dictate their decisions, but why on earth did they ban Barry's strength and conditioning coach from the clubhouse?

After much arm twisting, MLB finally relented and has now agreed to allow the trainer in the clubhouse. Heaven forbid, one of the great players in baseball should do everything he can to be healthy. Idiots...
...Given Brian Sabean's track record of almost never trading away pitching prospects that amount to anything, at what point will opposing GMs refuse to make a trade with Sabes for minor league arms?

Boof Bonser is struggling for the Twins AA affiliate. Kurt Ainsworth had an ERA of 9.68 with the Orioles before being sent to the minors, where he was roughed up in his first start.

We can now add Ryan Hannaman, obtained by the O's in the Ponson trade, to the list of disappointing former Giants farmhands. Baseball America reports that Hannaman has been sent to extended Spring Training after walking 16 batters in 12 innings and suffering through mechanical difficulties.

Baseball America concludes: "They are still young and all...but man, it's starting to look like yet another case of Giants pitching prospects completely breaking down after being dealt."


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

As the Black Helicopters Began to Circle...

San Francisco Giants GM Brian Sabean places a call to Kansas City Royals GM Allard Baird on December 7th, 2003.

Allard Baird: Hello?

Brian Sabean: Hey, Allard, this is Brian Sabean.

AB: Hi Sabes.

BS: So...can I have Beltran?

AB: Sabes, we've been through this a million times.

BS: I know, I know. But I'm upping my offer.

AB: I've told you that beyond Torrealba and Linden, there is no one in your organization that I want.

BS: That is why I'm going to throw in a draft pick.

AB: Um, this isn't the NFL. You can't trade draft picks in baseball.

BS: Au contraire, Allard. Here's the deal. We've agreed to terms with Michael Tucker, but he hasn't signed the official contract yet. Now, we can make the deal official on Monday or I can make a down payment on a future trade by making the Tucker signing official on Sunday, effectively giving you guys a first round pick in the 04 draft.

AB: You're signing Michael Tucker? Good Lord, you're an idiot.

BS: I'm not an idiot. Anyway, the deal will be Linden, Torrealba, and the draft pick for Beltran. This is assuming you're out of the race by July.

AB: And if we're still in the race?

BS: Remember that minor league deal we were discussing? We would get that toolsy outfielder and the pitching prospect with suspect mechanics. If you're still in the race, we get those two. If you're more than 8 games out by July 30th, then the deal is Linden, Torrealba, and the draft pick for Beltran.

AB: Ehh, why the hell not. Linden put up a nice OPS in AA and we need some younger players.

BS: Alright then, it's a deal. By the way, what's this "OPS" you speak of?

This is how to entertain yourself when your team is 8 games out of first place in May. You hope for a knight in shining armor to ride into town and transform your team into a contender. There's no savior in sight for the Giants, so we have to rely on wild conspiracy theories to maintain hope that the Giants will be a playoff team this year.

When news of the Michael Tucker signing/draft pick donation project broke, most baseball observers were baffled as to why the Giants would purposely forfeit a first round draft choice.

Brian Sabean is "not an idiot," right? He couldn't do something as dumb as purposely flushing his first round draft pick down the toilet. Maybe the draft pick was part of some other deal that we don't know about? Most likely, Sabean's decision to shitcan the Giants' first round draft pick was just one of the many poor decisions the Giants front office has made in the last couple of years. But maybe, just maybe, it was a prelude to a future trade with the Royals.

And hey, if there are yahoos out there who think Elvis Presley is the towel boy at the Hurricane Car Wash in Larksville, PA, the moon landing was faked, Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed, and Andy Kaufman was going to show up at the House of Blues this past weekend, then maybe there's place on the internet for this wild Beltran-to-the-Giants fantasy.

And besides, it's fun to dream:


Swiss Time Was Running Out

The injury sage of statheadom, Will Carroll, passes along this bit of Robb Nen info in his latest Under the Knife column (subscription required):
According to the best data I have available, only one of 36 players has been able to return to their previous level after labrum surgery. These data are a bit shaky, since there may be some shoulder surgeries that also repaired the labrum, but only listed the primary repair. Nen will continue to try to return, but things look increasingly bleak.
Nen experienced another setback and will be taking time off to rest his shoulder, in hopes that mother nature can cure his ails.

Sadly, it looks like Nen is close to being officially done. Robb pitched through enormous amounts of pain in late 2002 to help get the Giants to the World Series. For that reason alone, he will always be one of my all-time favorite Giants.

Three Dots O' News

...In-season win shares have been posted at the Hardball Times. You'll never guess who leads the Giants with 11 win shares. By the way, I found it particularly hilarious that the staff at THBT believes Cody Ransom is a pitcher. They probably took one look at his stats and assumed he wasn't a position player...
Futility Update:

Non-Bonds offense: .250/.311/.375
Gidrah: .227/.328/.355
#5 Hitters: .231/.273/.333
...Apparently Peter Magowan had a run in with the Lunatic Fringe! I'm getting this info second hand, but allegedly during the blowout loss against Philadelphia some fans who were sitting near Magowan's field level seats gave him quite an earful on the state of the Giants.

One thing that was particularly frustrating about this past off season was the consistent line of BS fed to the fans by Magowan and Sabean. Giants management claimed that the criticisms of the Giants were mostly by the media and that the fans were not critical of the moves (or lack of moves) that the Giants made. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

So, remember to show off your Fringe gear at the park!


Thursday, May 13, 2004


Another day, another let's-change-the-IBB-rule column. This one comes from Jayson Stark, who surveys various baseball minds and comes up with five potential rule changes to reduce the number of IBBs handed out to Barry Bonds.

Here is one of Stark's suggested rule changes:
"Before the game, the top sluggers on each team will compete in the homerun derby immunity challenge. The winner will receive the Bud Light® IBB immunity totem pole, which can be used to decline an intentional walk. If the pitcher issues another walk (after the Bud Light® immunity totem has been used) the opposing team is allowed to vote the pitcher out of the ballgame."
Ok, I made that one up. Anyway, Stark proposes a bunch of silly rule changes and, as is usually the case with Stark, his column misses the point for the most part.

The rules of baseball are not the problem. The Giants management's inability/unwillingness to obtain good hitters is the problem. Other teams should not be penalized because the Giants braintrust made poor personnel decisions.

Intentional walks are part of baseball strategy. Deal with it. While it can be frustrating as a Giants fan to see Bonds intentionally walked in ridiculous situations (like the third inning, with no one on base), the fact of the matter is that he would not be intentionally walked in those situations if Gary Sheffield (or Richie Sexon, or Vlad Guerrero, or Derrek Lee) was hitting behind him.

Instead of a slugger hitting behind Bonds, the Giants have a merry-go-round of futility hitting in the #5 hole. One day it's Alfonzo hitting fifth, the next day it's 6-4-3nski, the next it's Pedro Feliz. This year, Giants #5 hitters are hitting .054/-.024/.068 and they've grounded into 372 double plays.

In a little noticed move at the winter meetings, the Giants, at the insistance of Peter Magowan, proposed a change to the IBB rule. Magowan was so determined to not spend money on a good power hitter to hit behind Bonds that he wanted to change the rules of baseball to accomodate his penny pinching!

You can propose rule changes, hand out rubber chickens, and scream at Jack McKeon all you want. The fact of the matter is that the Giants front office created this problem themselves. They are the ones who need to fix it.

Pedro for Shortstop!

When you have one of the worst hitters in the history of baseball on your team, you should do everything you can to give him as few plate appearances as possible.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, replacing Neifi Perez with a leauge average SS is the equivalent of replacing JT Snow with Mike Sweeney. Yes, Neifi really is *that* bad.

It's been suggested elsewhere (I can't remember where) that, at the very least, Pedro Feliz should play SS when Jason Schmidt pitches. The reasoning being that Schmidt is a strikeout/flyball pitcher, so the Giants can get away with a slight drop off in infield defense. I went back and looked at Schmidt's 2004 starts to see how many plays the SS made while Schmidt was in the game:

5/12: 4
5/6: 2
5/1: 4
4/26: 2
4/21: 2
4/16: 1

The numbers above are how many times the shortstop touched the ball (fielding/botching a groundball, catching a pop up, making a relay throw from second on a double play) while Jason Schmidt was pitching. With the requsite small sample size disclaimer, on average, the SS will touch the ball about 2 or 3 times while Jason Schmidt is pitching (not including catching relay throws from the outfield or received throws from the catcher on a steal attempt, which are both impossible to count using game log data).

Obviously, Pedro Feliz is not an experienced shortstop, but is Feliz that bad of a shortstop that he can't be trusted to touch the ball two or three times a game?

The Giants have an historically awful hitter on their team who needs to justify his spot in the lineup by playing good defense. However, what's the point of having Neifi in the lineup when Jason Schmidt is on the mound if Neifi's allegedly good defense is only given the opportunity to make two or three plays?

Paging Lionel Hutz...

It looks like it's going to be a long year, and fans are always looking to find a silver lining to a fourth place finish.

This is a bit of a stretch, but I think I've found a potentially delicious silver lining to the 2004 season. In a bizarre legal move, former major leaguer Mario Guerrero filed a lawsuit against Raul Mondesi, alleging that Mondesi owed him $640,000 as compensation for improving Mondesi's baseball skills. A Dominican civil court ruled in Guerrero's favor. Mondesi has had to return to the Dominican Republic to straighten out the legal mess. Meanwhile, the Pirates placed Mondesi on the restricted list (meaning Mondesi will not be paid) and Mondesi has said that he will sit out the rest of the season.

So, what does this have to do with the Giants? Well, Guerrero is reportedly filing a similar lawsuit against a current member of the Giants. Who?

wait for it...


I kid you not.

Of course, although I am no legal expert, I can tell you that this lawsuit is pretty much the textbook definition of a frivolous lawsuit. Any lawsuit which is based entirely on the notion that Neifi Perez has actual baseball talent is, by definition, complete and utter bullshit.


Sunday, May 09, 2004

Magowan Speaketh

A frustrated Peter Magowan spoke to Joe Roderick during the trip to New York:
"There's no need to panic, but there's certainly a need to be concerned with how we've played. We have not played well. All the little things the Giants have done over the last 11 years to win -- getting runners in with less than two outs, moving the runners over, playing good defense, holding on to leads -- we just don't seem to do these things. It's a concern."
Well, poor fundamentals such as failing to score a runner from third with less than two outs have been a problem, but the team has much larger problems than these "little things." As El Lefty Malo points out, the Rueter/Tomko/Hermansen portion of the rotation has been abysmal and the pitching staff has an ERA of 5.10. Also, five of the eight regular position players are either below replacement level or hovering just above replacement level.

The end result of poor pitching and poor hitting is that the Giants have been outscored 179-138. Magowan can complain about not moving runners along and other "little things," but until the Giants improve on big things like scoring runs and preventing the opposition from scoring runs, the Giants will be a sub .500 team.
"One reason why we have performed better than people's expectation (in previous years) is that we have always had good chemistry. We've prided ourselves on bringing people from the outside that have good chemistry, like Robb Nen, Ellis Burks, Reggie Sanders, (Shawon) Dunston. I think we work hard to try and be a family."
More importantly, the reason the Giants have had good teams that exceed expectations is because they have had good players. I'm sure Robb Nen is a great guy, but he does more to help the team by being one of the best relief pitchers of his generation.

In addition to his veteran leadership, Ellis Burks hit .344/.419/.606 for the Giants in 2000. Giants fans can only dream about that kind of "chemistry" emitting from the loud sucking sound that is the RF clusterfuck of the 2004 team.

And, amazingly enough, the Giants have had a pretty good run over the last few years despite having some malcontent asshats (Jeff Kent, Armando Rios, Barry Bonds, Charlie Hayes, Orel Hershiser, Livan Hernandez, Neifi Perez et. al) on their teams.

Lastly, on the Lunatic Fringe, Magowan says:
"Fans who have yelled have been in the minority. We wouldn't be selling 3 million tickets and we wouldn't be leading the world in season ticket sales, if what is reported is a general uprising."
Well, "general uprising" is a bit of hyperbole, but Magowan is kidding himself if he thinks that John Q. Giantfan is perfectly skippy with the team needlessly slashing payroll and signing replacement level players like Michael Tucker and Brett Bomko.

Yes, the Giants have sold 3 million tickets for 2004, but the shit won't really hit the fan until next season. The problem will be compounded if the Giants go through another off season where the ownership cuts payroll and Brian Sabean does nothing but sign Denny Hocking to a multi-year contract. If that turns out to be the case, Magowan and company should prepare themselves to see t-shirt clad lunatics re-enact the French Revolution at Pac Bell. Well, maybe the Giants brass should just brace themselves for a few thousand disgruntled season ticket holders.


Ever since he signed with the Giants, I knew Brett Tomko reminded me of an ex-Giant, but until recently I couldn't put my finger on exactly who.

Bomko throws up a lot of meatballs and he allows a lot of baserunners. And he doesn't pitch to his potential. And he's an "innings-eater." And he falls apart mentally. And he does these things frequently.

And the New York Times said God is dead
And the war's begun
Alvin Mormon has a son today

And he shall be Levon Livan
And he shall be a gas can
And he shall be Livan
In tradition with the Sabean Plan
And he shall be Livan
And he shall be a gas can
And Brett shall be Livan

News and Notes
...Your weekly offensive update:

Non-Bonds offense: .246/.306/.361
Tuckammondohr: .228/.317/.353
#5 Hitters: .214/.264/.267; now with 3 XBHs!
Hitting Prospect update:
Todd Linden: .321/.378/.402; .232 MLEqA
Tony Torcato: .307/.311/.386; .212 MLEqA
Nate Schierholtz: .327/.387/.555

Todd Linden is off to a decent start for Fresno. His average and OBP are nice, but with only a few XBHs, Linden is hitting an empty .321. It's still early...

That's a typical line for Torcato - an average over .300 with no walks and little power. At this point in his career, I think he may project to be a Dave Hansen without plate discipline. At the major league level, Torcato will be a left handed pinch hitting specialist who can hit .285 with no power and no walks.

If Nate Schierholtz keeps putting up numbers like that, he may surpass Todd Linden as my favorite hitting prospect...
Finally, some good news...According to the Chronicle, Ray Durham's rehab is apparently ahead of schedule and Durham may be activated for Thursday's game...


Thursday, May 06, 2004

"Pitching and Defense"

Throughout the off season, Brian Sabean repeated the mantra that the Giants were a team built on "pitching and defense." You can stop laughing now.

I won't go into how bad the pitching staff has been, so I'll rant about the Giants shoddy defense. To date, the Giants rank third to last in the NL in defensive efficiency. So, is this poor ranking a sample size fluke, or are the Giants a bad defensive team?

With the requisite disclaimer on defensive stats in general, let's look at each starter's UZR. I chose UZR over the other stats because 1) it's easy to understand. 0 is average, while anything above 0 is above average and anything below 0 is below average, and 2) UZR supports my point more than the other defensive stats do.

The following are the starter's weighted UZR for 2000-2003:

JT Snow -5
Ray Durham 8
Edgardo Alfonzo 0
Neifi Perez 0
Barry Bonds -5
Marquis Grissom -16
Dustan Mohr 13

A couple of notes:

* Michael Tucker and Jeffrey Hammonds weren't listed. I believe this is because they didn't meet a minimum games played threshold.

* UZR does not take first base scoops into consideration. If you believe JT Snow saves "three runs a week" from his stellar scooping abilities, then add that onto his -5 rating. It's impossible to calculate exactly how many runs saved can be attributed to Snow's scooping wizzardry, but I'd bet it's at least enough to put him above average.

So, there you have it. At best, the team might have three above average defenders. If the Giants front office really does believe that the team is built on "pitching and defense," then Sabean and company have built themselves a house of cards.

Offensive Update

Now, it's time to rant about the punchless offense. With the explosions against the Marlins over the weekend, the non-Bonds offense has been getting better, but the overall numbers are still slouching toward Chris Truby.

Non-Bonds Offense: .245/.309/.349

RF grab bag o' crap: .217/.309/.312

#5 Hitters: .195/.254/.195

That's right; the batters who hit in the lineup spot directly behind Barry Bonds have an OPS of .449 and 0 extra base hits on the season.

News and Notes

...After last Sunday's giveaway at Pac Bell, I can now add one more item to my list of things that are probably more annoying than Thunderstix®.
Ryan Seacrest
Driving on the 405
Rex Hudler
Leaf blowers
Plastic Clappers
At least you can use Thunderstix® to bop other people over the head (or if you're an Angels fan, you can use them to attack Reggie Sanders). Plastic clappers have no other use aside from annoying the hell out of fans' eardrums...
...With the first pick in the June draft, the Pod People are likely to select Jered Weaver, the Long Beach State hurler who most scouts believe is easily the best amateur player in the country. As USA Today reports, Weaver has put up some mind boggling stats not seen since Mark Prior's 2001 at USC.

Until last weekend, Weaver had won every start he made on the season. So who slayed the mighty Weaver?


Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole!
Gauchos! Gauchos!

Speaking of UCSB, July 30th is UCSB Alumni Day at Pac Bell Park. To hang out with other Gaucho alums, you can buy discounted center field bleacher tickets to the game here. See you at the park!
...Has this happened to anyone before? I was at the game on Sunday and Jeffrey Hammonds was having a very rough day in the field. He botched four different plays in the outfield and the fans were all over him. The fans even gave Michael Tucker a sarcastic ovation when he replaced Hammonds. I wanted to join the chorus of boos directed at Hammonds, but I couldn't. I was sitting next to Jeffrey Hammonds' family...