6.13.2005

Giants going younger by the day, hopefully Alou will payoff now

And why not? The older players weren't doing their jobs. As Reuter said in an interview, you only have to look at the standings to see why the Giants management is mixing things up now.

Brower is the latest to be released, following on the heels of Al Levine and Matt Herges, who have been replaced by Jack Tauscher and Scott Munter, respectively. Brower was dropped to bring on Foppert to start on Tuesday, which frees Fassero to be the long reliever, which Brower had fallen to with his lack of performance. He hinted that perhaps the Giants used him too much last season which might have led to his problems this year in an interview, but wouldn't say that definitively.

In addition, Ellison has been essentially the starting CF, leading to speculation that Grissom is the next vet to go and Snow has been told that Niekro will be getting the majority of the starts going forward, even against RHP. Frankly, while Niekro hasn't done that well against RHP, neither has Snow, so the Giants may as well give Niekro consistent ABs against RHP and see what he can do. And, if as expected, Grissom goes, he might be replaced by Todd Linden who would take over LF while Feliz takes over 3B if Alfonzo goes on the DL for the injury he suffered Sunday hitting into, what else, a double play.

Here is where I think the Giants get the payoff from having Alou as manager vs. Dusty. Alou has had a lifetime of experience in bringing along young players and developing them. Alou is willing to give young players the chance to play and, if they play well, they get more prominent roles.

Dusty had no experience with young players and didn't exhibit much in his handling of them. Aurilla showed fans that he should have been the starter years before Dusty finally gave him the starter's role. I still cannot believe that Dusty just threw Feliz to the wolves and started him in the World Series after not using him much all season. And I still don't know how Dusty kept Jensen as the starter over Ainsworth at the start of 2002 when Ainsworth pitched so well - any Giants fan could see that Ainsworth was the future of the Giants rotation and that Jensen was a journeyman pitcher pitching above his abilities (though it ended up that both hasn't had much of a career, I am focusing on what was known at that point in time).

Sidenote: Snow in an interview on KNBR Friday basically complained (diplomatically) about the lack of consistent lineups, known roles, and consistent playing time, which leads to uncertainty in the players. What he didn't have the courage to note is that Alou would have been happy to keep the same lineup day after day IF THE PLAYERS WERE PRODUCING. And they haven't been, overall, including Snow. He isn't hitting much better than Niekro vs. RHP and he is as horrible as usual vs. LHP. Hence Alou fiddles with the lineup to try to find the right combination, the right spark. You want a consistent role? Hit and field well! And probably in that order, as Deivi Cruz showed last season.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the record, that was Edgardo Alfonzo's second GIDP of the season...

Time for a little revisionist history, huh? The Giants have always looked at their prospects in the field as pretty marginal guys and have left Torrealba, Feliz, Ellison, Linden and Niekro either languishing in AAA for years or sitting on the bench. And now nothing has changed, but some of them are good enough to be starters?

Niekro has had a hot hundred at-bats. I'm not looking forward to the next 200 at all.

Same goes for Ellison, who filled the Giants with so much confidence that they re-upped Marquis Grissom.

Torrealba is blocked by a 34-year-old guy hitting .226.

Felipe did such a good job handling Feliz that he's been behind Snow, Alfonzo and Neifi Perez on the depth chart. Now Feliz is 30, not exactly young.

And the Giants liked Todd Linden so much that they've allowed the likes of Jeffrey Hammonds, Michael Tucker and even Tony Torcato to play instead of him.

If the Giants weren't a disaster, Felipe would never give a young player a chance to play.

He spent last season rolling Grissom and Perez into the lineup even when they weren't performing.

He badmouthed Torrealba in the press numerous times, and we can only guess that we would never have acquired Pierzynski and Matheny if Alou had any ability to develop young players.

There's no evidence that playing poorly has ever kept a veteran player out of Felipe Alou's lineup. But it's finally time to break up this lineup and move on.

Mon Jun 13, 09:32:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, time will tell. Was the Youth Movement a flop or the correct decision? We'll see.

I do remember, though, telling my brother at the end of Spring Training, that there was some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the Giants won 20 games, and really looked hot. The bad news is that most of the players who carried the team were being sent back down to the minors.

Maybe, the Youth Movement will not be so horrible, after all.

Tue Jun 14, 02:23:00 PM PDT  
Blogger obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

If we are going for the record, it was Alfonzo's third of the season according to ESPN and he was 4th on the team in DP with 15 last season.

I don't think I ever said that they are good enough to be starters. If I were to bet, I would say not, Ellison never did much in the minors hitting and Niekro's main saving grace right now is that he can hit for a high average with homers, his OBP is abysmal. But right now the vets are doing so badly that we need to find alternatives.

However, while you mock the possibility that any of the youngsters are starters, you then note that Torrealba is blocked by Matheny. You can't have it both ways.

Let's go through all your points. Niekro has been good but will he continue and improve? Don't know, but if you have an eye towards next year in making decisions, you need to know what you got with him. If he can show he can hit RHP, then we got something, if he can't we need to find some other solution for 2006.

Ellison, you neglected to note, has had an equally hot start, why aren't you afraid of his next 200? And while he has played well, that is not what one would have expected giving him minor league stats. His stats profile him as a nice backup OF who can play all 3 well defensively but probably will hit in the mid-.250's, while Grissom was coming off a 22HR/90RBI season, which would you choose as your CF at the start of the season?

Torrealba's hitting has been masked by the fact that while he kills LHP, he is crappy against RHP. And I will note that he is batting .235 with 1 HR and 4 RBI in 29AB while Matheny is batting .227 with 6 HR and 27 RBI in 163AB (good for 4th in HR and RBI).

About Feliz, you need to balance the needs of a playoff contending team with development of players. For whatever reasons, Dusty never got anything out of Feliz - Alou has. But Feliz is a 3B, not a 1B, LF, RF, SS. So it's funny you throw out Neifi as a block - Feliz has pretty much shown that he's no SS and he's never played 2B. Alfonzo has a $6M contract to play and while he has not played well enough to earn that, he still has averaged about 80 RBI the past two seasons, which is not bad enough to throw an unproven player in over him. Snow I can go for but, again, he was a $6M+ player in 2003 and Feliz was unproven so Snow was playing, and last season Feliz was still learning the position so you can't go with him as the starter for that reason, you need to work him in. And after the way Snow hit last season, you didn't think the Giants were going to play Feliz over Snow, did you?

About Linden, you need to distinguish between like and ready to play. If you are going to bring up Hammonds and Tucker, you are talking about last season and Linden was clearly not ready last season. He couldn't even excel at AAA, what makes you think he would have excelled in the majors? And given that, what would have made you think Linden would have made it in the majors this season during the pre-season? He is only up now because he has killed the ball in AAA this season for the first time.

I agree that the Giants would not be giving the young players a chance to play if the season wasn't a disaster. Or rather the starters have been a disaster. I don't think that I said anywhere that Alou wasn't doing it for that reason.

But if Dusty were at the helm, we wouldn't know right now that Ellison and Niekro exhibited enough to consider them as starters, they would have languished on the bench while Dusty trotted out the vets over and over again. Alou gives them playing time that Dusty never would have unless forced to.

You use Grissom and Neifi as examples. What part of 22HR/90RBI did you have a problem with? He had 12 or more RBI each month but one. And who would you have played in CF instead of Grissom? Tucker?

And Neifi? Well, I was against Neifi since the Giants picked him up on waivers and a little bit of me died when they signed him to a 2 year/$4M contract, so I think that tells you what I think about him. And money played a factor again, he was making $3M so as manager you need to play him to see if what happens. The Giants offense would have been fine if Neifi would hit even .650 OPS (that was about the average for the 8th place hitter across the NL) at the 8th spot but he couldn't even do that. Ironically enough, Neifi has more homers than the Giants starting infield (Snow, Durham, Vizquel, and Alfonzo) and has been playing like he was Nomar, and not just Nomar's replacement.

About Torrealba, Yorvit asked for Alou's badmouth for publicly complaining about his lack of playing time. You never dis the boss in public and not have it come back on you. Plus you don't think he wouldn't be playing more if he were hitting like Ellison for average or Niekro for power? He's hitting .235 overall and .083 vs. RHP (in 36 AB). You would rather play that?

When you say that Alou doesn't have the ability to develop catchers, you 1) presume there is anything to develop with Torrealba and 2) presume that Alou can perform magic and make a catching prospect suddenly a MLB player without taking the time to develop him. If he could do #2, Steinbrenner would be all over him in a second. Alou has given Torrealba his chances the past two seasons, like Ellison and Niekro, only he hasn't seized the opportunity like those two have.

If playing poorly keeps a vet player permanently out of your lineup, then may I presume that if Bonds anytime over the past 10 seasons had a poor month or two, you would have traded him instead of playing him to see if it was just a mother of a bad slump or not. Or lets take a real example: you signed JD Drew to a $55M/5 year contract, he hasn't hit well enough to warrant that contract thus far, what would you do, play Repko instead or play Drew and hopefully he shakes the slump? He was hitting .244/.373/.411/.784 at the end of May, that's not worth $11M, Tucker hit that well early in 2004 for just $1.5M, should you sit him to play Repko? I don't think the GM would be too happy with you if you sat him. Or pick your poison, Colon last season, even Randy Johnson this season, you need to give your proven vets the chance to get out of their slump, the length of rope depending on how poorly they are doing and how big their contract is. If you got 3+ years more to go, you need to give a lot of rope else you are eatting a lot of contract. And it would be cheaper for the GM to find a manager who will let the $11M man play out his slump than to dump a $55M contract for nothing.

Because, once you have made your bed, so to speak, by signing your vets to large contracts, you need to give him enough time to show what he can do and get your value back. Money and contract length are big determinants of playing time, any manager who does not recognize that will not have a job for long in the MLB. It is the little things like giving the young players some opportunities by forcing vets like Alfonzo and Snow to sit down for more games than they would like so that you can play Feliz, unlike Dusty who continued going to Snow even when Galarraga was killing the ball and been perfect for a platoon that Snow should have had all his career or going with Snow when he was clearly still hurting when Minor was healthy and hitting well at that time.

To poster #2, I agree that it is too soon to know whether the "Yute" movement was a success or not, probably won't know until the end of the season. I just think that Alou will be better at handling this transition than Dusty ever would, not that Dusty ever got a real chance since the Giants were bereft of many good minor leaguers during his term but just by observing how he handled the few good prospects that the Giants did have, I don't think he would have done as good a job as Alou has with the youngsters that Alou has had or going forward.

Good point about how the young players were responsible for the Giants good showing in spring training. Hopefully that will happen again, Go Giants!

Tue Jun 14, 04:55:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think I ever said that they are good enough to be starters. If I were to bet, I would say not, Ellison never did much in the minors hitting and Niekro's main saving grace right now is that he can hit for a high average with homers, his OBP is abysmal. But right now the vets are doing so badly that we need to find alternatives.

>However, while you mock the >possibility that any of the >youngsters are starters, you then >note that Torrealba is blocked by >Matheny. You can't have it both >ways.

huh?

I wrote that _the Giants_ have never viewed their young players as starters. Alou went and badmouthed Torrealba's hitting in the press several times. And Torrealba is lucky - he isn't in AAA.

>Ellison, you neglected to note, >has had an equally hot start, why >aren't you afraid of his next
>200?

Dude, reading comprehension:

"Niekro has had a hot hundred at-bats. I'm not looking forward to the next 200 at all. Same goes for Ellison..."

If the Giants want to win 90 games, Ellison should not be the starting CF.

>Torrealba's hitting has been >masked by the fact that while he >kills LHP, he is crappy against >RHP.

Since 2002, here are his and Matheny's OPS splits:

Torrealba 654 RHB/878 LHB
Matheny 620 RHB/758 LHB

Matheny costs way more than Torrealba, but Torrealba is either as valuable or slightly more valuable. But the Giants don't know that, otherwise they would never have signed Matheny.

>Alfonzo has a $6M contract to >play and while he has not played >well enough to earn that, he >still has averaged about 80 RBI >the past two seasons, which is >not bad enough to throw an >unproven player in over him.

I really question your understanding of baseball. Getting RBIs is not an inherent skill, it is a function of what situations you come to bat in.

A trained seal could have driven in 80 runs batting behind Barry Bonds the last two years.

In fact, Alou wanted to play Feliz over Alfonzo for all of 2004, but Sabean et al overruled it.

Feliz's value was always well understood. He has hit exactly as you would predict him to. There was never any need to sign Alfonzo.

>About Linden, you need to >distinguish between like and >ready to play. If you are going >to bring up Hammonds and Tucker, >you are talking about last season >and Linden was clearly not ready >last season. He couldn't even >excel at AAA, what makes you >think he would have excelled in >the majors?

Todd Linden's AAA performance in 2003 was such that he was likely to play as good as Tucker in 2004. Factor in their salaries, and there was no justification for signing Tucker.

Tucker has a career 768 OPS and posted a 765 OPS in 2004. This is not Albert Pujols we're talking about. Now Tucker is sitting on the bench making $2 million, while Linden is playing in place of him for $300k.

>About Torrealba, Yorvit asked for >Alou's badmouth for publicly >complaining about his lack of >playing time.

The Giants traded for AJ Pierzynski. Long before Alou and Torrealba ever met, the Giants didn't think Torrealba had the ability to be their starting catcher. Now, for two years in a row, Torrealba sits on the bench while guys who aren't measurably better than him make $2-$4 million and play every day.

That, in a nutshell, is the stupidity of Brian Sabean and Felipe Alou.

Wed Jun 15, 01:30:00 PM PDT  
Blogger obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

"If the Giants want to win 90 games, Ellison should not be the starting CF."

Agreed. But I think you would agree that between Grissom and Ellison, the Giants chances of winning is higher with Ellison (even before the DL of Grissom). Unless you know how to pry Cameron out of the Mets hands, in which case please do notify the Giants. And the Giants right now are just worried about winning, not about winning 90 games. I think Ellison can be a contributor to that effort.

About Torrealba vs. Matheny, you were the one who brought up the hitting so I compared the two. What you should also note is that Torrealba's hitting vs. RHP (not RHB) has dropped dramatically the past couple of years to downright putrid. Rightly or wrongly, the Giants believed that Matheny's defense warranted the higher salary. Obviously you don't believe he is that much better defensively and therefore not worth the extra money.

I don't profess to know for sure, but most pitchers I've seen interviewed about Matheny raves about him. Since defensive stats are still in the stone ages, I would prefer to rely on the strong comments of pitchers as one would think that they wouldn't rave about someone who added little value to their livlihood.

I haven't read anything about Alou wanting to play Feliz over Alfonzo so I don't know where you got that from. This is the first I've heard about this.

And you are the one with revisionist history and lack of baseball knowledge regarding Feliz and Alfonzo. You are saying that Feliz's value was well known and that Alfonzo did not need to be signed. Feliz had 9 homers in 366 AB (or 1 every 41 AB), hitting .238/.270/.358/.628 in the two seasons before Alfonzo is signed. Just because Feliz had a nice season in AAA in 2000 did not mean that it would translate to the majors, and in the oppportunities he had, it wasn't happening for him. To steal your line, "if the Giants want to win 90 games" a player hitting that low should not be a starter but you are saying you would prefer trying a lifetime .628 OPS hitter as your starter instead of Alfonzo.

You say that the Giants should have started Linden instead of getting Tucker. Here is what Linden hit in 2003: .278/.356/.412/.768. Most people acknowledge two things about that stat: 1) that you need to translate it downward to show equivalent MLB stats and 2) that the PCL is a hitters league so that the figure is further inflated. So, no, Linden's performance did not make Tucker's signing unjustified, not by those stats. In addition, from what I read, he had problems hitting RHP so Tucker would have been an even greater improvement over Linden.

Also, Tucker was gotten to platoon in RF and backup CF, not to start full-time. A ".768 OPS is not Pujols" as you say but I don't think many rational people would expect a Pujols for $1.5M. But a .786 lifetime OPS vs. RHP is valuable on a team desperate for hitters who could well vs. RHP. The Giants in 2003 had a horrible performance vs. RHP as a team.

I don't get Giants fans who think Brian Sabean is stupid. Yes, he has made stupid mistakes. But to call him stupid, I just don't get. What part of 3rd best record in the big leagues since he became GM you think came from stupidity? What I think is myopic is focusing on minor details and missing the big picture: the SF Giants have been in the playoffs as many times pre-Sabean as with Sabean. Four times each, 4 in the 39 years before Sabean became GM, 4 in the 8 years with Sabean. Where is the appreciation for that?

And you can't say that was all Bonds doing, the Giants had a losing record the two years before Sabean took over with Bonds and did not make the playoffs at all with Bonds until Sabean took over. And people focus on mistakes but he made the big trades to get us Kent, Snow, Burks, Nen, Schmidt, to name the most prominent ones.

Without those trades, we wouldn't have been in the playoffs all these years, we wouldn't have been winning in the years we didn't make the playoffs, we would have been sad. And he did this with a minor league system that was even more barren than Old Mother Hubbard's Cupboard.

Wed Jun 15, 04:54:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>But I think you would agree that >between Grissom and Ellison, the >Giants chances of winning is >higher with Ellison

So why spend $2.8 million on Grissom's option? Ellison is still the same guy he was eight months ago - who Sabean did not project to make the team (Grissom option and the pursuit of Steve Finley show Sabean's intentions.)

This is yet another case of Sabean having no idea what he's got, and so $2.8 million went down the tubes.

>And the Giants right now are just >worried about winning, not about >winning 90 games. I think Ellison >can be a contributor to that >effort.

In the off-season, the target was 95 games. Ellison was projected as a AAA outfielder by Sabean, and Grissom was viewed as an acceptable starter. This is terrible player evaluation.

>About Torrealba vs. Matheny, you >were the one who brought up the >hitting so I compared the two. >What you should also note is that >Torrealba's hitting vs. RHP (not >RHB) has dropped dramatically the >past couple of years to downright >putrid.

Small samples sizes. The only thing Matheny brings is predictability. Predictable .220 hitting, but predictable.

>most pitchers I've seen >interviewed about Matheny raves >about him. Since defensive stats >are still in the stone ages, I >would prefer to rely on the >strong comments of pitchers as >one would think that they >wouldn't rave about someone who >added little value to their >livelihood.

so pitchers understand the trade-off between defense and hitting? A pitcher understands that Neifi Perez's supposedly good defense at SS is saves ewer runs than Ray Durham produces with his bat (in a good year)?

I've got some swampland in Florida for ya.

>I haven't read anything about >Alou wanting to play Feliz over >Alfonzo so I don't know where you >got that from. This is the first >I've heard about this.

April 24, 2004, Glenn Dickey writing in the Chron:

"In May [2003], manager Felipe Alou told me he'd like to play Pedro Feliz at third but felt obligated to play Alfonzo because of his contract."

>you are saying you would prefer >trying a lifetime .628 OPS hitter >as your starter instead of >Alfonzo.

Clearly Felipe Alou did, as early as one month in Alfonzo's contract.

>You say that the Giants should >have started Linden instead of >getting Tucker. Here is what >Linden hit in >2003: .278/.356/.412/.768. Most >people acknowledge two things >about that stat: 1) that you need >to translate it downward to show >equivalent MLB stats and

Linden's 50th %ile OPS projection was .721, but his defense projected better than Tucker's (who has one of the 10 weakest arms in baseball.) Overall, it was close to a watch - only Tucker cost 5x more than Linden in 2004-05.

> 2) that the PCL is a hitters >league so that the figure is >further inflated.

Depends on your home park. Colorado Springs has one adjustment. Fresno is at 296 feet above sea level and has another.

When you quote this shit, you should actually look at what the stats say. Otherwise you're just making things up to justify Sabean's decision.

Defend Sabean all you want, but you can't deny that his skills are declining. Since the end of 2002, he has wasted money on plenty of shitty players, and he didn't leave himself even payroll room to make the team better in 2004. A GM who can't make the playoffs every year with Barry Bonds and a $90 million payroll is a shitty GM. Yes, there are plenty of other shitty GMs who couldn't do a better job. So what? It doesn't make Sabean any good

Wed Jun 15, 11:14:00 PM PDT  
Blogger obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Wait, you're saying that Ellison is the same guy he was 8 months ago? Baloney. He has been playing very well at the MLB level, something no one would have predicted based on his stats prior to this season.

And why spend $2.8M on Grissom? He hit 22 homers and .773 OPS, that's why. But now he is sucking so you go with the hot hand in Ellison and hope for the best.

Again, you can't have it both ways, if you don't like Grissom then you are saying that we shouldn't have gotten him two years ago, I don't recall any CF available in the $2.5M range who could hit .270-.300 with 20 homers available at the time. I would consider that good player evaluation, Grissom was a good signing. Unfortunately, like a lot of other players, he is injured and sucks now.

I don't think anybody will stick their neck out to say that they really like a fellow co-worker for public consumption unless they truly believe it. I believe that for pitchers, belief and confidence can positively affect their performance. And it is not just defense but Matheny's way of handling the pitchers. Of course, we've seen no evidence of that except in Tomko's and Rueter's pitching, everyone else has sucked, though Schmidt's appears to be a physical problem of some sort, Matheny can't make him throw 3-4 miles per hour less than before.

About the quote from Alou, nice try, but it would have had much greater meaning if it had happened before the season began. Alfonzo was hitting .174/.287/.256/.543 at the end of April, so yah, I think just about anybody with half a brain would want to try someone else just to see if he would be any better and even .628 OPS looks good vs. .543. But Alfonzo did eventually recover, hitting .296/.372/.474/.847 after the ASG so I guess that was the right move.

He actually started hitting the day after Alou publicly said that he was benching Alfonzo, during the A's series, a benching of all of 1 game, upon which he commenced hitting up a storm.

By the way, Dickey blasted the Giants in that article for a number of problems and yet the Giants still ended up winning 91 games. Dickey has been beating the drum about the lack of prospects developed every year and yet the Giants have continued to win 90+ games every year despite his complaints. I guess there are other ways to skin a cat.

Who's revising history again? I guess you should follow your own advice and look at the stats when you "quote this sh*t". If you are going to quote Baseball Prospectus (TG is that you? ;^), then you should know that Linden had a -12 (out of the equivalent of 106 games in RF) for his defense while Tucker had a +2 (out of the equivalent of 29 games in RF) for his defense in the 2004 version of BP, which is the version one would have consulted for the decision making on choosing between Tucker and Linden. Even if you use BP's projection for them for 2004, Tucker projected to a -2 in 57 games and Linden projected to a -5 in 69 games. So no, Linden is not better defensively, if you are going to quote BP stats you will have to stick to all of the stats, not the ones that support your view.

Of course it depends on the home park. By the by, Fresno's Park Factor in the 2004 edition was 1011 for 2003, 1033 for 2002 and 1040 for 2001.

But that was not the factor I was referring to. In the time I've been following the Giants, while news about the minors were relatively sparse until the Internet, there was always the general theme that the PCL, as a league, has inflated offensive numbers. Hitting .300 there don't mean much when you do it there (if you don't believe that, ask Dallimore and Doster about that).

I would agree that I would have ran the Giants differently than Sabean, starting with getting a player like Vladimir Guerrero when he was available. I would agree that I probably would not have gotten the players he did and certainly not at the salaries he paid for them. But I have been able to go beyond my personal displeasure over the moves to see that while I would not have made the same moves, the moves in general have either improved the Giants or at least replace what we had before. However, there are some moves, like signing Neifi, that was totally indefensible.

Just because you have a great hitter does not mean that you will make the playoffs every year. But unfortunately there's no way either of us can prove it one way or the other.

And Sabean did not have $90M in any year he has been GM, and it has only been around $80M since 2002 or so. Prior to 2000, it was under $50M if I recall my figures right (I will check tomorrow).

But this is all moot and hot air, you have your opinion and I have mine. But I will add that this is all brave talk from someone hiding behind their anonymity. It would mean more if you were willing to debate openly and stand behind your opinions.

Thu Jun 16, 02:05:00 AM PDT  

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