Friday, September 28, 2007
Mission: Don't Lose 90
I'd love to watch the games this weekend, but the they aren't being televised either today or tomorrow and the Sunday game interferes directly with my football enjoyment. Giants-Dodgers, classic rivalry, yet not on TV. If both of these teams were in contention this season and we couldn't watch them play on FSN or anywhere else, I'd be pissed.
-Not much to yak about this week, as I've been busy with a new job and other assorted life things. Next week I'll cobble together my usual hilariously inaccurate playoff previews and do some Giants postmortems. Yeah, that means it's going to get ugly.
Here's the TGIF random video for you. It doesn't really need any introduction. Have a great weekend!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Time It Was, and What a Time It...Um, Wasn't
I tuned in to the game last night to catch the standing ovation for Barry Bonds, but that was about it. I had better things to do than listen to the Giants get slaughtered by a Scott Hairston-led Padre attack (seven of his ten homers against the Giants this season...what is with this guy?). In the past three weeks, I have caught two full Giants games and otherwise perhaps a grand total of one hour of G-men baseball on the radio. That's sad, and it's a problem, because I never thought my Giants fanaticism would sink to such lows.
I'm not a bandwagon fan, and I never have been. Last year the Giants sucked and I was still at Mays Field during the last weekend series, yelling for the team to beat the Dodgers. I remember in 1996, the last time the Giants lost 90 games (they look to be headed well on their way this year), I was rooting and rooting up until the last game, because somehow they were still fun, even though they were trotting out some of the worst players to ever don the black and orange.
Unfortunately, this year the team is just so dull, so poorly constructed, so clueless, that it's gotten to be too tiring. Losing is one thing; losing while simultaneously offering absolutely nothing of entertainment value is another. Last season I linked to Dead Can Dance's "Host of Seraphim" as a eulogy to the lost 2006 campaign. This year I'm not going to bother; the Giants don't deserve anything as beautiful as Lisa Gerrard's voice.
And the worst part is that Sabean and Co put this team together harping about pitching and defense and improving team speed and other such bullshit, and then when things fell apart, they got all butt-hurt and defensive when the fans started hurling well-deserved criticism their way. And it's going to be even worse next year without Bonds! Worse! Can you imagine that?
To steal a line from The Nerd...Sabean's my ass and Magowan's my balls! What a miserable, forgettable, gawdawful year.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
That's right, there I am, in all my glory, classified as a Pedro Feliz fansite. This is just a dark, dark day. For three years, Feliz has been the scourge of my existence as a Giants fan. For three years, I've called him all manner of bad names and ranted about his bad hitting and his poor OBP, and yet somehow I now run a Pedro Feliz fansite!!!! It's like all my efforts to demean the man have all been for naught. I might as well just wear a badge that says "Paul Rice: Pedro Feliz Fan" on my chest, like my own personal scarlet letter.
Now well-meaning yet unenlightened Giants fans will stumble onto Stankeye expecting a Feliz lovefest. I guess they'll be in for a surprise when they discover that the most commonly referred-to nickname for Feliz here is "fuckass". Thanks a lot, Mahalo.com.
Apparently to twist the knife even more, Feliz wants to come back to the Giants on a multi-year deal. So can we look forward to several more years of Feliz rah-rah-ing from this loyal "fansite"? If so, just kill me now, in slow mo, a la "Stranglehold" (kickass game by the way).
I'd say that the Giants aren't stupid enough to actually give Feliz said multi-year contract, but the team has made so many dumb decisions in the last few years, I'd be willing to bet that it does happen. It's like the end of The Terminator, as thunder crackles in the distance and the dark clouds start to roll in, and some random gas station attendant puts down the SF Chronicle sports section and says ominously, "There's a storm coming." And I sit there in my jeep with my Feliz-sniffing dog and say, "Yeah, I know."
Friday, September 21, 2007
Barry Says Bye-Bye
1) Now batting for your Los Angeles Angels...Barrrrry Bonds!!! Yeah, it's going to be totally weird seeing Barry take some hacks in another uniform next season. It'll be pretty strange starting a season without Bonds's name penciled into the starting lineup. It's like a war veteran who's had his arm blown off, then wakes up at times with the feeling that it's still attached. Um, or something like that.
2) Bonds has a 1.053 OPS this year, which is the best in the National League. Now picture the 2008 Giants lineup, most likely returning a bunch of the same sub-.700 OPS ne'er-do-wells, and picture that lineup sans Bonds. Yeah. It's uglier than a Karl Rove-Rosie O'Donnell love child.
Let's say hypothetically that Bonds wants so bad to retire as a Giants that he'll agree to take a substantial pay cut. He'll come back for $10 million in 2008. Knowing what Bonds brings to a lineup, even at age 42, should the Giants do a 180 (or a Jason Kidd 360) and bring him back at this discounted price? Let's face it, it's likely that this team is going to be absolutely miserable to watch with no Bonds next season. Hell, they're unwatchable with Bonds! If he can put some butts in the seats, hit some home runs, help put some runs on the board, and make a big farewell tour, would it be worth it to take the senior discount?
I think Rob Neyer hit it on the head in a blog post today. As much as it sucks to see the icon of the franchise for the past 15 years just waltz off unceremoniously, it would probably just make very little sense, in the end, to re-sign him, to any dollar amount (unless we're talking like $5 million or something, but that's a little too crazy a dream). The Giants need to rebuild, and the only way they're going to do it effectively is by giving some younger guys a chance to play and prove that they can produce in the major leagues. That is not going to be accomplished by signing Bonds and playing him just for sentimental value. The Astros are killing themselves with Craig Biggio this year for just that reason.
Bonds will find himself on another team in '08 and he'll doubtless help that team score runs and win ballgames. The Giants, meanwhile, need to break the ball and chain and find a way to make this new era of suck as short as possible. Bonds will be missed, and some day he'll come back to Mays Field and be the recipient of one of the greatest ovations ever given to a baseball player.
--I had so much fun embedding that DMB video last Friday, that I think I'll make this a regular feature here on Stankeye, kind of a TGIF thing. This week's random video features the Angry Video Game Nerd. If you don't know who he is, well, he's a video game reviewer who became immensely popular on YouTube and now does work for Gametrailers. He basically only reviews crappy old Nintendo games...while drinking beer and cussing...a lot. It's one of the funniest things around nowadays.
This is a trailer for his review of a bunch of old, awful Spiderman games on the classic game consoles. Again, this is just the trailer, (the full video can be found on this page), but it's freaking hilarious. Warning: it's brimming with filthy language, so kiddies take heed. Enjoy, and have a good weekend!
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Ten Years Ago
Monday, September 17, 2007
Infield of Screams
When I looked at the Giant team page on BR, though, I realized that the problem isn't just isolated to their shortstop. The team's whole infield has been an absolute nightmare. I'm sure all Giants fans are sadly aware of the whole infield unit's struggles at the plate, but really, it's got to be historically bad. Not one player has been above average, and three have been downright abysmal. Here are the gory details, with each starter, his hitting line, and his OPS+:
Ryan Klesko: .265/.349/.413, 97
Ray Durham: .217/.297/.346, 66
Omar Vizquel: .240/.300/.295, 56 (!)
Pedro Feliz: .249/.289/.414, 80
Rich Aurilia: .249/.301/.366, 72
Okay, going into the season we all knew that the Giants' offense would probably stink and that Brian Sabean's loyalty to all things over 35 might come back to bite him in the ass, but to this extent? Look at those numbers again. That's astoundingly bad. That's Lara Croft: Tomb Raider/Armageddon double-feature bad. Forget the youth movement, why the hell are these guys getting at-bats over, like, 30-year old non-prospects like Justin Leone or Scott McClain at this point?
We've discussed Vizquel already, so let's look at these other guys point by point. Klesko's on-base ability still gives him some value, so he hasn't been a total disaster, but his total lack of power is unacceptable at a position where it just isn't that hard to find a slugger. As I've harped about again and again and again, Sabean has just demonstrated an utter lack of imagination in filling the chasm at first base the past few years.
For example, Carlos Pena was DFA'd by the Yankees in the spring, and the Giants could have had him for basically nothing, even less than they're paying Klesko. Instead Sabean was asleep at the wheel. What has Pena done this year? Check for yourself. Perhaps Pena wouldn't have gone bonkers in the same way if he'd been hitting at Mays Field, a tough park on lefty hitters, but come on. Klesko has been decent, but it could have been soooo much better.
Moving on to Durham...I just don't know what to say. Being a leading proponent of his re-signing, I can't criticize Sabean too much here. Durham was awesome in 2006 and was one of the best second baseman in the NL from 2003-2006, so when the Giants got him for reasonable value this winter, it seemed like a very good move.
For whatever reason, though, he's just gone in the tank. Is it age? Injury? Complacency from the new contract? You tell me. I seriously just can't fathom how a guy can go from a line of .293/.360/.538 to the complete disaster we have on our hands now. Since this year is so out of line with his usual performance, and since he isn't that old, I'd say that Durham has to rebound next year. How could it get worse?
Moving on to Feliz...well, my hatred of Pedro is well-documented here. The only question, I guess, is what did Sabean expect when he brought Feliz back this offseason? That he'd magically turn into Matt Williams? We fans pretty much anticipated another year of Felizian helplessness at the plate, and we've been treated to exactly that. Seriously though, if Feliz is the Giants everyday third baseman again next season...well, remember George Brett's reaction when the ump tossed him for having too much pine tar on his bat? Yeah, that'll be me.
Aurilia has been hampered by injuries, but it's hard to really say how much they've affected his hitting. What I do know is that he wasn't much good in 2004, then he did well in a great hitters' park for the 2005 and 2006 seasons, and now he's back in a pitcher's park and he stinks.
Not to beat a dead horse, but this infield ineptness is yet another shining example of Sabean's flawed "proven veterans" philosophy. It was certainly fair to assume that Vizquel, Durham, Klesko, and Aurilia wouldn't be nearly this bad, but when you're dealing with players over age 35 you have to realize that they could crap out at any minute. Some players age well, some don't. So it's totally foolish to rely on such an aged group of players to help a team win, when the risk of them falling apart is so high.
As for Feliz, well, he isn't over 35...he just blows.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Well, here are some random links I thought you readers would find fun and interesting. Enjoy!
---Last week, ESPN's Jayson Stark wrote a wonderful article detailing why the save is probably the most ridiculous statistic in baseball. The insane overvaluing of saves is something I've ranted about repeatedly over the years, but this is the first time, I think, that I've ever seen a columnist from the mainstream sports media talk about it. I haven't gone on an anti-saves tirade in a while, but Stark opened the door, so I be a rantin'.
There are so many things wrong with saves, I don't even know where to begin. Let's start with a somewhat extreme example. Let's say a reliever, we'll call him Paulie Rice, comes into a game with a 5-2 lead. Now, I know there's probably more pressure in the ninth inning, but protecting a three-run lead by getting three outs seems like something most guys can do, right?
So Paulie comes in, walks the bases loaded, gives up a two-run single, but gets out of the jam and the team wins 5-4. Paulie gets credit for the save, even though he pitched atrociously. That save is somehow supposed to reflect upon some quality inherent in Paulie's ability, even though he pitched like crap. True, there are a lot of one-run saves, where the room for error is smaller, but coming in with no one on base to get three outs doesn't seem too taxing for a big league pitcher, no matter what the score is.
The problem is, closers are often paid vast amounts of money based on their save totals. This is just silly. You know who leads the AL in saves this year? Joe Borowski, with an ERA of 5.40. Yet you can bet that Borowski is going to get the "proven closer" label and stick around in the majors for a while, probably stinking up the joint. It's crazy. You can find pretty much any decent pitcher off the scrap heap and plug him in as a closer and he'll rack up saves. Remember Tyler Walker and his 23 saves in 2005? Okay pitcher, resilient fellow, but "proven closer" my arse. Matt Herges also saved 23 games in '04, and he stunk. The list goes on. If a guy consistently blows saves and can't get it done in the ninth, it usually just means he's a bad pitcher. Do I need to bring up Armando Benitez here?
If you look at BP's Wins Expected Above Replacement Level (WXRL, yeah it's a mouthful), which gauges reliever performance based on stranding inherited runners and difficulty of situation, among other things, a lot of the guys at the top aren't even closers. It's because the most critical situations in a baseball game usually don't come in the ninth inning. Yes, there are good pitchers who don't have what it takes to close, for whatever reason (LaTroy Hawkins is one). However, there are also a lot of guys who couldn't consistently come in with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning and strand every duck on the pond, and I guaran-damn-tee you Joe Borowski is one of them.
And I won't even go into the ridiculous three-inning rule that allowed Wes Littleton to get the save in the notorious 30-3 game this year. So please, everybody, stop overvaluing saves. It's a bad statistic and just because a guy racks up 35 in a season and has a pair of goofy glasses or a scary mustache, it doesn't mean he has some sort of grit or intestinal fortitude that other pitchers don't. Ok, I got that out of my system. End rant.
--Also last week, BP founder Gary Huckaby caused a furor amongst the stathead community by announcing, in pseudo-Nietzschian fashion, that "baseball analysis is dead". This, of course, sent all of us nerds into a panic. Here we had the founder of the most prestigious and influential stathead website in the world just coming out and saying that everything we believe in is all for naught and we should just stop trying. What's going on here? Is OBP suddenly not life? Have our efforts to dissect VORP been rendered moot? Has Joe Morgan won?
Well, no. Actually, it really isn't that apocalyptic. Huckaby's point is a little muddy (even he admits that in a subsequent chat), but I think he's basically saying analysis is dead in the context of front offices actually utilizing such information. His argument is that all the obvious stuff (like OBP is good, don't shag young pitchers' arms) is pretty much accepted by major league teams now, so there are only so many things a stathead can give you if you're a GM and you hire him on to your staff. The thing is, most of the real in-depth number-crunching is being done independently all over the Internet; it's out there so anybody can grab it, unlike traditional scouting measures. So in that sense, why hire a bunch of stat guys to give you data that you can just get for free by having some intern spend five minutes on The Hardball Times?
I think Huckaby has clearly got a point here, but I also think he's being a merciless drama queen. Does he really have to announce that "baseball analysis is dead"? It just seems like a ploy to get people yelling. Why can't he just say something like, "We've reached a point where quantitative analysis has essentially reached its limits in being an asset to major league front offices. Good job, people. You nerds, don't stop doing what you're doing, though." As for the argument that every front office has accepted the common sense arguments of the saber-types...ladies and gentlemen, I direct you to the Juan Pierre signing.
Huckaby has always been sort of a pompous writer, and he's definitely not my favorite of the BP squad. Dave Studeman and Nate Silver have appropriate rebuttals to the "baseball is dead" article. It's a fun little controversy to wrap your brain around.
--The Giants are apparently looking to bring back Omar Vizquel on a one-year deal for 2008. If it's just one year, then this is a perfectly acceptable move. Vizquel still plays Gold Glove defense, and that's a tremendous thing to have with young pitchers who could get rattled by a bunch of errors behind them. With no immediate alternatives (I do not want Kevin Frandsen as the everyday shortstop, and who does?), bringing back Vizquel would make perfect sense.
One thing though: I really didn't realize until now just how bad Vizquel has been with the stick. He's hitting .243/.303/.300 on the year. That's mother-bleeping atrocious. This is seriously his worst season offensively, and he had some pretty crappy seasons early in his career with Seattle. I'd say there's no way he can get worse, but he's 40 and seems to be done. Like I said, I'd still advocate bringing him back for a year based on his defense alone, but man, his bat has been friggin' awful this season.
--There's really no point to this, but I'm a big Dave Matthews fan, so this is a little something I found on YouTube for all you DMB lovers. It's a live performance of one of his more, er, cult-ier (is that a word? Ah, screw it) songs, Halloween. It's neat because the song rocks and the band almost never plays it live. I think they've only played it in concert like seven times in the past ten years or so. The best part is at the end when Dave just starts talking gibberish into the microphone, like he's having some kind of epileptic fit. Enjoy, and have a good weekend!
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Unintentional Comedy Break
I had never heard of Pags's site until the peerless Fire Joe Morgan website did one of their patented teardowns on an article Pagliarulo wrote the other day, in which he attacked Billy Beane's methods of statistical analysis and blamed the A's down 2007 season on Beane's failed strategy, ignoring like the bazillion injuries the A's have suffered this year.
The FJM piece is hilarious, so go check it out. However, for some real fun, I encourage everybody to actually go to the Baseline Report site here and read the whole article. It may be one of the worst pieces of writing, on any topic, that I have ever seen. It'd be painful if it weren't so damn funny.
Like many other critics of Beane and statistical analysis, Pags simply has no understanding of the subject and yet still feels he can criticize because, you know, he played baseball and baseball is played by real men and not computers. It's your typical anti-"moneyball" piece of garbage (it's even titled "Money-Haul"...ho ho), only like ten times more ignorant and self-important than usual, and that's saying something. Also, if you were in a sixth-grade classroom and used the same levels of poor grammar and syntax employed by Pags in this article to write an essay about sharks or something, it would be spit on and set ablaze.
After reading the article, don't go away, because the real joy is yet to come. In the comments section, hordes of stat geeks reign down upon the site and nicely take Pags and co. to task. To their credit, Pags and the site's other authors valiantly try to defend their position in the face of an overwhelming army of people who actually know what they're talking about. Unfortunately, it's a bit like watching a soldier storm the beaches of Normandy with a butter knife.
So click on the link above and have a few laughs at Pags' expense. If I'm not mistaken, he's the guy who broke up Trevor Wilson's no-hit bid way back in 1990. So he deserves your derision.
Labels: awful sportswriting
Monday, September 10, 2007
Not that I, or any, Giants fan should feel much sympathy. Since our team is going nowhere this year, the best thing to cling to now is that sweet sense of schadenfreude as the Dodgers' season goes up in flames. After dropping the series this weekend, the Dodgers are now five-and-a-half games back of the Diamondbacks in the NL West, and two-and-a-half back of the Padres for the NL Wild Card. Our old buddy, BP's Playoff Odds Report, saw their playoff odds sink from 33% at the start of Friday's game to 23% at the start of today. They aren't done, per se, but it doesn't look good. Again, to paraphrase Pete Townshend, schadenfreude, reign o'er me!
What the Giants' series win also accomplished was it ended the Dodgers' unacceptable dominance at Mays Field, a winning streak that extended to 11 games. Instead of meekly rolling over in a potential spoiler matchup like in the final weekend of last season, the Giants made their stand. The 1982 incarnation of Joe Morgan would have been proud.
With the Diamondbacks coming in, the Giants have the opportunity to play the party pooper once again. Funny thing about the DBacks: they lead their division despite a horrible run differential. They sport a shiny 81-63 record despite being outscored by their opponents by 29 runs. Usually that's an indication that a team sucks (Arizona's Pythagorean Record is 69-75), but somehow the Snakes are getting it done this season.
Remember another team that ran into the playoffs despite being outscored by other teams? That's right, the 1997 Giants, a team that would get crushed 19-3 one day, then come back and win a few 2-1 games in a row. As we all sadly know, that team didn't fare too well in the postseason (Wilson Alvarez, meet Devon White), so perhaps it's a bad omen for the DBacks.
Friday, September 07, 2007
Oh Heavenly Catcher!
One, this kind of thing usually happens after a particularly uninspiring loss in the middle of a losing streak. Molina's tirade came on an off-day, after a win, so I don't really get what set him off. Maybe he got one elephant ear too many and blew his cool.
Two, the timing of it is a bit odd, because Molina is going on and on about how pathetic the team is, when they've actually been playing quite well lately. They're still 14 games under .500, but they just finished up a solid month of August and have been playing some of their most inspired ball of late. Where was this rant in the first four months of the season, when the Giants were sucking like Mega-Maid?
Lastly, is it just me, or does Bengie seem like one of the least likely fellows to call out his teammates in the press? Usually we get this kind of thing from a malcontent like Milton Bradley or one of those wired-up media whores like Darin Erstad. Of anybody on the Giants, I'd nominate Klesko. But Bengie? He just seems so docile, like a big, lovable Triceratops. He's been so quiet and productive all year and yet now he's complaining about being surrounded by assholes. Random.
Who knows, maybe Molina is just trying to fire up the team for a run at .500. Not that it's going to do much good. At least Molina can afford to be the one dishing out the criticism. He's been one of the few solid regulars this season in a pretty anemic lineup, placing third among all NL catchers in VORP, and ranking third among Giants players.
-OK, people, the Dodgers have, according to BP's Playoff Odds Report, a 33% chance of making the postseason. That ranks behind five NL teams. That ain't good. So this weekend, chide, tease, get those Dodger-hating helmets on, and root hard for the good guys to knock that percentage down a few ticks. If nothing else, this season gets a silver lining if the Dodgers are sitting at home in October along with us. But you knew that already.