Westwood Blues

Friday, August 27, 2004

Maybe I'm in a Bad Mood

Out of all the poor decisions the Giants made in the winter, the single biggest blunder may have been holding the belief that Joe Nathan doesn't have the mental makeup to be a closer, but Matt Herges does. Whoops.

That is all.

No wait, one more thing.

Fuck Fucking Fuck Fuck wrong fucking base fucking fuck fuck fuckity fuck fuck fuck just fucking throw it to fucking AJ mother fucking fuck fuck fucking Herges.


Thursday, August 26, 2004


"Nobody can get him out. ... He's the MVP by far. It's easy. East Coast people won't see it, but it's easy. Nobody is even close." -- a certain struggling Dodgers closer

Nobody can get him out...nobody is even close. Wow, through that weird French-Canadian accent, Eric Gagne actually makes a good deal of sense. Well, he is viewing the MVP race through rose colored goggles and is actually referring to Adrian Beltre in that quote, but that's just nitpicking. At least he knows that the contest for MVP isn't close.

Barry Bonds is blowing away the competition for MVP (again). Let's look at some of the mind boggling numbers.

* In terms of EqA, the gap between Bonds and Beltre is bigger than the gap between Beltre and Cody Ransom. Hell, the gap between Bonds and Beltre about as big as the gap between Beltre and Neifarious.

* Among the 159 players in major league baseball who have enough PAs to qualify, Barry Bonds ranks first in OPS. The gap between Bonds (#1) and Beltre (#7) is bigger than the gap between Beltre and Alex Cintron, who ranks 158th.

In the coming weeks, I'm sure we'll see some Tejadaesque justification for Beltre winning the MVP, such as "he's really clutch" and "he's hit some really big homeruns" and "he's carried the team." While this is certainly true, it's not as if Bonds is unclutch and hasn't carried the Giants. Here are the very clutchy numbers for Superman:

RISP - .386/.755/.860
"Close and Late" - .350/.671/.875

Oh, and just for fun, here is Barry's month of August:

.423/.644/1.019 with 8 HRs and 23 runs in 52 ABs

I could go on and on, but my lunch hour is just about over. The point remains - you can argue that Beltre (or Pujols, or Rolen, or Edmonds) deserve the MVP this year. It's just that you would be wrong.


Sunday, August 22, 2004

Fuzzy Math?

As a follow up to an earlier post, I decided to dig a little deeper into Stadium Debt Deductiongate. An increased revenue sharing burden has been trotted out as one of the excuses for the Giants decision to cut payroll this past winter. The following is an excerpt from a Chronicle article (thanks El Lefty) that examines the Giants finances:
But why cut payroll? Because, the Giants say, the economics of the game have changed since the last collective-bargaining agreement, and profits from the early years of the Pac Bell Park have vanished.

The Giants reported to Major League Baseball profits of $5 million in 2000, $4 million in 2001 and less than $1 million in 2002. They reported a loss of roughly $15 million last year and say they expect a similar deficit for 2004 because revenues have flattened out, within a range of $160 million to $167 million, while expenses have soared.

Most notably, the Giants' contribution to revenue sharing has risen from $6 million a year in 2000 to an estimated $13 million for 2004.

To be fair, it's unclear from the article where these numbers are coming from (are they the Chronicle's estimates or were they provided to the Chronicle by the Giants?) but if both the $13 million payout and the estimated approximately $8 million deduction are to be believed, then The Giants' revenue sharing payout should be roughly $21 million a year. Via e-mail, Neil deMaus confirmed that $21 million is in the ballpark of what the Giants should be paying annually in revenue sharing. So, it's certainly within the realm of possibility that the Giants aren't necessarily lying about the amount of money they contribute to revenue sharing, although they obviously aren't volunteering the fact that they get a huge deduction on their revenue sharing payment.

I then contacted Dr. Andrew Zimbalist, an expert in sports economics and the author of May the Best Team Win: Baseball Economics and Public Policy. He confirmed that the Giants do deduct stadium debt from their revenue sharing payments. However, he estimated that the Giants deduct "a lot more than $8 million" a year, although he refused to provide a specific number.

I don't know what to think anymore. The Giants books are not open to the public, so the best we can do is make estimates. Before a group of disgruntled fans form McCovey Cove Swift Kayakers For Truth and broadcast a bunch of ads attacking Peter Magowan, just keep in mind that we can't state with any degree of certainty if the Giants are making money hand over fist, breaking even, or losing money. We need to rely on the estimates of sports economics experts whose differing methodologies can produce results with material differences.


Sunday, August 15, 2004

Ode to Neifi

In his brilliant tale The Never Ending Story, Michael Ende depicts a plane of existence which is composed entirely of the dreams and storys of all people in the real world. Every story ever told exists somewhere in this universe named Fantasia. Sadly, the very existence of this universe becomes threatened when no one in the real world dreams or tells storys. Fueled by mankind's refusal to dream, the greatest conceivable evil of all, the lack of imagination and fantasy ("the Nothing"), seeks to destroy Fantasia.

The San Franciso Giants sub-section of Fantasia is full of World Series victory parades, visions of Scott Speizio whiffing for strike three, and even fantasies of a shortstop with an OPS over .580. But all of these dreams were threatened when the worst conceivable hitter in the history of baseball -- The Neifi -- a shortstop with the worst 5 year RCAA in major league history, signed a two year contract with the Giants prior to the 2003 season.

From the day that Brian Sabean signed him to that ridiculous contract, Giants fans had dreams that one day Neifi would be traded or released. Fantasia was teeming with the fantasies of Bay Area children dreaming of Neifi being traded to the Rockies in the off season. It didn't happen. Maybe a mighty dragon will galantly swoop down from the heavens, eat Neifi, fly down the coast to Chavez Ravine and then shit Neifi into the Dodgers starting lineup. Nope.

I saw an Internet rumor on Friday morning that the Giants were set to release the Neifarious one. Too good to be true, I thought. As the rumor was quickly dismissed by cynical fans, the viability of Giants Fantasia was in danger. But just when it appeared that The Neifi would forever kill a world composed entirely of the hopes and aspirations of Giants fandom, some savior dared to dream of a Giants team without Nifty. Equipped with only the force of imagination, somewhere, somebody believed that Neifi was set to be released. Meanwhile, in the real world, with a quick and fatal press release, the force of all that is evil in Giants baseball, The Neifi, is no more. The San Francisco Giants announced that Neifi Perez had been released.

I've been waiting nearly two years to say this, so here goes: It gives me immense pleasure to permanently downgrade the Neifi Alert Status to level blue.


If you've ever visited this site before, you may have guessed that I do not like Neifi Perez. I've repeatedly documented the overwhelming statistical evidence that proves that Neifi is not only an awful hitter, but an historically awful hitter. Occasionally I get feedback from some delusional fan, who says that I'm a big meanie who is too hard on The Neifi. Neifi can't possibly be that bad, right? Wrong.

I've quoted this before, but it's worth repeating one final time. From Neifi's 2003 PECOTA card (emphasis added):
Lee Sinins, who runs a daily newsletter from www.baseballimmortals.net, uses a metric called "Runs Created Above Average"- adjusted for things like ballpark and league context - to evaluate ballplayers. By his metric, Neifi Perez is probably the worst hitter in major league history. Perez was -57 RCAA last year, the sixth-worst figure since 1900 - but hardly worse than his usual standards, which include -54 (1999), -52 (2000), and -48 (1998). Over the past five years, Perez has cost his team 243 runs offensively, which is a record. In fact, no other player has ever cost his team so many runs over a six-year span. Clearly, he's a special player.

Put it this way: replacing Perez with a league-average hitter would help the Royals more than replacing Michael Tucker with Shawn Green would. Amazingly, the Giants signed him to a two-year contract, so we'll use the same analogy with say, J. T. Snow and Mike Sweeney in next year's book.

Yes, by one metric Neifi is the worst hitter in the history baseball. Let that statement sink in for a while. Of the thousands and thousands of players who have played in the major leagues, Neifi Perez may be the least productive hitter of them all.

His numbers early in his career were nothing more than a Coors Field mirage. Once you adjust for park factors, Neifi's stint in Colorado was remarkably futile. In 1998, his first full year in the big leagues, Neifi posted an OPS+ of 70. This would turn out to be one of the most productive years of his career. He followed that up with an OPS+ of 61 in 1999 and an OPS+ of 66 in 2000.

Remarkably, the Royals traded for Neifi in the middle of the 2001 season. Perez rewarded the Royals with a .241/.277/.302 line in 2001, good for an OPS+ of 47. He was even worse in 2002. Not only did Nifty post a line worthy of a double arm amputee (.236/.260/.303), and an OPS+ of 40(!) but Neifi had a run in with the Royals manager. After a year and a half with KC, the Royals had seen enough and gave this clubhouse cancer his walking papers.

After being crowned the Hacking Mass MVP as the worst hitter in all of baseball in 2002, it appeared that Neifi's days as a regular were over. Unfortunately for the San Francisco Giants and their fans, Brian Sabean swooped in and inexplicably awarded Neifi with a multi-year contract. In a quote that read more like a satire than an actual justification for signing and grossly overpaying for an offensive black hole, Sabean defended the Neifi signing by explaining that signing a switch hitter who can play second and short was "as if you're signing four players."

Sabean's Folly proceeded to shit out a .256/.285/.348 line in 2003. For reasons best kept to themselves, the Giants were apparently so pleased with Neifi's offensive futility and his flashy but mediocre defense that they awarded El Malo the starting shortstop job for 2004.

In what came as a surprise to absolutely no one, the Neifmeister's 2004 was a complete and utter trainwreck. His .232/.276/.295 line and his .571 OPS don't tell the whole story. By VORP, the difference between Neifi and Deivi Cruz, a waiver wire claim who has a shade over 200 PAs, is about the same as the difference between Chris Woodward and Nomar Garciaparra. Also, Neifi's OPS is lower than Superman's OBP.

In the face of this overwhelming stench, even Brian Sabean saw the light and finally gave up on Neifarious. In fact, the Giants were apparently so down on Nifty, that they preferred a player with a career .230 minor league batting average coming into this year instead of Perez. Cody Ransom's only extended period of offensive success in the minors came at age 28, his fourth year at AAA, an extreme hitters league.

Johnnie LeRansom probably won't be much of an upgrade over Neifi, but I don't care. After nearly two years of posting some of the most miserable and hapless ABs in recent Giants history, shitcanning Neifi was the only option. Neifi is gone. It's about time.


Thursday, August 05, 2004

Behold - The Brand New Closer!

In desperate need of bullpen help, the Giants have moved Dustin Hermanson from the rotation into the closer's role. This should be the point where I scold the Giants for moving a semi-effective starter out of the rotation, but I actually like this move. Well, I like it with a few qualifications.

I'd rather have a starter who can pitch 7 or 8 innings every fifth day than a closer who pitches two or three innings per week. The problem is that Hermanson does not pitch 7 or 8 innings each time out; he's averaging a shade under 6 innings per start.

Generally speaking, pitching the high leverage late innings of a close game is about twice as valuable as pitching the lower leverage innings at the start of the game. In other words, Hermanson needs to pitch about three high leverage innings per turn in the rotation as a reliever to match his overall value as a starter.

So the goal should be to use Hermanson enough out of the bullpen to justify moving him there. For example, let's just say that the Giants are in a tight game heading into the eighth inning. Do you parade Scott Eyre, the struggling Matt Herges, and an inexperienced El Magico Valdez out of the pen to pitch to the opposition? No. Ideally Hermanson can be used in a non-traditional way to close out games (or in this case to keep the Giants in the game). Of course, that didn't happen because *gasp* a closer can't possibly pitch the eighth inning, especially when his team is trailing. But maybe Alou will become so desperate for a reliever who can get outs that he'll actually use Hermanson in high leverage non-save situations such as today's eighth inning (and also for more than one inning in selected save situations).

The bottom line is that SF needed to do something to address the problems in the blowpen. Because Sabean didn't acquire anyone at the trade deadline (and in fact, traded away a reliever), this problem has to be handled internally. I'm not jumping up and down about moving Hermanson into the bullpen, but I am holding out hope that, if used properly, he could be just as valuable out of the pen as he was in the rotation.

Scouting Report on Alfredo Simon

The Giants picked up minor league hurler Alfredo Simon from the Phillies in the Rodriguez/Ledee trade. I don't know anything about Simon, so let's turn to Baseball America to fill in the gaps. Here's a snippet from a BA article featuring comments from Simon's A-ball pitching coach.
"Really, for him it's all about location," Clearwater pitching coach Steve Schrenk said. "He averages 93-94 mph with his fastball; he'll throw it anywhere from 90-95, and now he's locating it better and getting ahead of hitters. He's really gotten better at pitching to both sides of the plate.

"When he was getting behind, he was just throwing the ball right down the middle, and no matter how hard he threw it, guys were catching up. Then the other day he threw just 82 pitches in his (second consecutive) complete game, and he threw about 85 percent fastballs."

Simon improved to 7-9, 3.27 on the season with his third straight complete game and fifth win in his last six decisions. He's allowed just 121 hits in 135 innings while walking 38 and striking out 107.

Simon has grown from a listed 6-foot-4, 215 pounds to about 6-foot-5, 240, according to Schrenk, and maintains his velocity deep into his starts. In his back-to-back shutouts, the last pitch he threw in each game registered 93 mph.

While Simon throws hard, he doesn't have the strikeouts you like to see from a power pitcher. Schrenk said he expects Simon to strike out more hitters as he harnesses the command of his lively fastball and improves his slider and changeup, which are still in the formative stages.

"His other pitches are coming along," Schrenk said. "His slider is doing better. We've got him throwing it a little harder. His fastball is not straight; it moves and sinks, it has some life."

He's starting to dominate this league; the last (four) starts, he's been really good. Maybe if you see one more good start--a stretch of two or three consistent weeks--he could be ready (for a promotion)."
If They Build It...

The financial statements of baseball teams are guarded so closely you'd swear they were Nuclear secrets. But, occasionally we learn bits and pieces of useful information about the Giants financials. In his column on the new proposed stadium for the Yankees, Neil deMause reveals this interesting detail of the most recent collective bargaining agreement:
The Yankees would foot the bill for the stadium itself, though, a remarkable turnaround from earlier plans to have the city kick in at least half of the cost. How will they do it? The explanation is buried in a tiny clause hidden deep within MLB's Basic Agreement. According to Article XXIV, Section a(5) of the 2002 collective bargaining agreement, teams must make revenue-sharing payments on all baseball revenue, but can deduct "the 'Stadium Operations Expenses' of each Club, as reported on an annual basis in the Club's FIQ [Financial Information Questionnaire]."

That's all it says. But according to baseball sources, teams have been quietly allowed to count stadium construction debt as "stadium operations expenses," thus claiming it as a deduction against revenue sharing.
So, do the Giants deduct stadium construction debt from their revenue sharing payout ? I e-mailed the author of the column that very question and he confirmed that, to the best of his knowledge, the Giants do indeed deduct these "stadium operations expenses" from their revenue sharing payments. In fact, deMause estimates that this one line in the 2002 CBA reduces the Giants annual revenue sharing payout by $8 million a year.

Hmm...make of this what you may, but between the new local TV deal, the constant sell outs, the increase in ticket prices, the decrease in payroll, and now news of this bit of creative accounting, something tells me that the Giants really aren't going to lose $15 million this year...


Monday, August 02, 2004

Stand Pat Sabean

The trading deadline has come and gone and the Giants didn't do much of anything. As a Giants fan who obsesses over mid season trades, I feel like I've missed my Christmas. Well, the Giants did make one move - trading away Felix Rodriguez to acquire Ricky Ledee and minor leaguer Alfredo Simon. I like it. Ledee, a left-handed platoon outfielder, is a nice acquisition - his .305 EqA with the Phillies this year would rank him as the second most productive hitter on the Giants. More importantly, by trading away Frod, the Giants are no longer responsible for the $3.15MM owed to him next year. Now, Sabean may use this money to sign Shane Halter to a 3-year deal, but at least in theory, the Giants can spend this money on a good player, rather than a hard-headed, mediocre middle reliever.

Part of me wants to believe that clearing $3 million out of the way is a signal that the Giants are quietly preparing to make a splash signing or two in the off season. But then I remembered that Skippy Von Cheap is the owner of the team and that the allegedly cash strapped Giants will probably cut payroll again in the off season.

This upcoming winter will prove once and for all if the current Giants management is at all interested in bringing home a World Series trophy to San Francisco or if they're merely content with being "competitive." If a winter of inactivity and cost cutting gave rise to the lunatic fringe, then two winters in a row of that bullshit could lead to the birth of the homicidal fellowship.


This past Saturday night the Giants celebrated the anniversary of their last World Series Championship. Not that I need to remind anyone reading this site what year said championship was won, but as the scoreboard pointed out - On the Waterfront was winning Oscars, Sports Illustrated was in its infancy, Oprah was in diapers, and Eisenhower was President the last time the Giants won the Fall Classic. Fast forward 5 decades later and the Giants have the best hitter since Ted Williams as the centerpiece of their offense. They have a legitimate ace at the front of the rotation. They have a good leadoff hitter, a very capable manager, and some other useful parts. And between the Nen and Neifi albatrosses, the Christiansen, Snow, Grissom, Tomko and Hermanson contracts that expire at year end, they'll have a whole lot of money coming off the books that can be spent to improve the team.

Go for it, Magowan. Is that too much to ask for?