There is no room for racism in baseball

Larry Krueger of KNBR has really dug a hole for himself and I don't see how he can get out. On Wednesday night, he spewed, not one, but two racial epithets on the air, all within the context of talking about the Giants. (I got my account from the Merc) First he complained about the Giants' "brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly." Then he attacked Felipe Alou by saying later said of Alou, "You have a manager in Felipe whose mind has turned to Cream of Wheat." He has been suspended for one week by KNBR which as denounced his words.

Or have they? Their action speak louder than words.

Look at his punishment. None in the media has pointed this out, it took Alou to point out the ridiculousness of the punishment that many of us saw right away. One week without pay? For someone who is the sport director of the station, one would imagine that he is paid pretty well given that KNBR is the "flamethrower" of the west, broadcasting at 50,000 watts, which is especially far reaching at the time of the night that Krueger broadcasts. Some of their spots claim to be the most listened to sports station.

One weeks pay for someone who is the sports director of the leading sports station, probably means that he will have to hold off buying a new sports car for a week. It's pocket change for someone who should be paid very well. This is not a punishment for him, this is just a little inconvenience.

As Alou said, KNBR just slapped his hand for this outrage. Felipe has in turn decided to stop his pre-game show on KNBR until Krueger is fired. Alou shouldn't hold his breath.

In addition, besides the horribleness of the words, there is another aspect of his statement that hasn't been noted by the media. It is that he clearly has felt this way for a long while. While his outburst, as the station has said, is perhaps a one-time thing, his statement states in unvarnished truth exactly how he feels about Carribean players and Felipe Alou. It is not like the Carribean hitters he attacked have suddenly become what he called them, he clearly has felt this way about them for a while.

Yet, the Bay Area media could not even muster up anything to upbraid one of their own, to point out the ridiculousness of the punishment, to point out how racist attitudes sometimes lurk below the surface only to surface briefly before going back into the shadows again. The Niner's ex-PR guy who did those racist videos got totally blasted but the media could not muster up much of anything other than to dutifully report what Felipe Alou's reaction was. And the Chron was no better, they have columnists too who like to opine on baseball, no one was shocked enough to put out a special column on it.

I guess it is hard for people who are not of a color to understand how racism affects people. It does and it stinks. I know it does because I have experienced it and yet what I've experienced is only 0.000001% of what my parents or other non-whites have experienced. AND IT STILL STINKS! I am as American as anyone and yet certain people feel entitled to come up to me and call me unprintable names, telling me to go back where I came from (and I always wish I had the guts to tell them "San Francisco" but my dad taught me to avoid conflict.).

I still remember my first brush with racism and it wasn't even to me but I can still remember and feel the pit I felt in my stomach and the chill down my spine. My teacher was reading our history book to us but no, I was too impatient, so I read ahead to the next section. There I learned about how people got angry so they went out and burned down the ghetto where people of my race lived and basically got away with it because the laws did not protect people like us, even though they were Americans too, were immigrants like probably all of the people who attacked them too. I promptly stopped reading ahead.

Luckily stuff like that doesn't happen as much anymore and we have grown as a country. But it appears that we still have a little bit more to grow, that there is still room for improvement, because we should have zero tolerance on stuff like this, that is the American ideal, or at least it should be, if we are truly all "created equal".

Rueter gets his wish

As he himself said, Correia and Hennessey really should be starting. Of course, that means that he won't be starting, but what the hey.

The sad part is how Rueter is handling himself as his Giants career comes to an end. He has always been the model of the professional, unflappable, personable, nice guy. But here he is, complaining about not starting, yet acknowledging that he isn't doing enough to get the starting nod. And yet complaining. We should be the ones complaining about him making $6-7M this year for what he has been producing.

And yet I don't really because I know that he has given a lot to the Giants over the years. While I feel that I am a sabermetric person at heart, I can appreciate qualitative performances like that of Rueter. Most sabers scoff at Rueter, downgrading his performance as lucky, lucky he pitches for SF and its high power offense, lucky that he pitches at a pitchers park, lucky that he has had a good to great defense behind him all those years. In particular, those who believe in DIPS think that Rueter is one of the luckiest pitcher in history.

Rueter is the bumblebee of DIPS theory. Because the theory says that he cannot be successful doing what he is doing yet each year he was successful. So he cannot exist because the theory says he can't. Some adherents will point to the last couple of years and say that he's finally paying the price for not being a DIPS kind of pitcher, but they conveniently forget that a couple of years of failure doesn't cover up the years that he pitched so well for the Giants (and Expos). DIPS does not explain that - any player will eventually succumb to poor performance at some point in their career, crying wolf constantly on a player will eventually come true but it won't negate all he did previously. And he had the excuse of an injury affecting his pitching so they cannot say categorically that it wasn't the injury or even age that brought his results down.

Rob Neyer of ESPN wrote an article either in 2004 or 2003, where he analyzed Rueter's splits by bases empty vs. runners on, and found that Rueter appears to change his strategy depending on the situation. With it empty, he would try to get the batter to hit the ball for him. He gave up more HR and less walks that way. However, when there are runners on, he would work the corners, apparently, giving up more walks but much less HR that way.

So maybe DIPS was right, but it misses the fact that pitchers can change their approach to the batter depending on the situation and still be effective despite their horrible DIPS stats.


You gotta love these kids...

Well, doesn't that wrap the season in a nutshell: Moises Alou injured. This type of season is what the Warriors are suppose to have, not the Giants. :^)

Then right after we trade away our main backup catcher, our starting catcher is out on leave, and the replacement from Fresno costed the Giants the first two games of the series with the Rockies with his errors, as we would have won both games without the unearned runs that were scored.

The Giants already have enough problems generating power with Alou in the lineup. Without Alou and Bonds, it would be like the A's without Chavez' and Crosby's and Swisher's power. Which they essentially were the first two months of the year and you saw how many games they won doing that.

Now it would take someone stepping up the power and delivering or we'll be 7.5 games back after today (SD won already). Because we are not really a speed team either, Vizquel and Winn are good basestealers but are not ones who can drive that type of offense, they are complemenary pieces.

So, just mere days after acquiring Winn, supposedly to go for it all, the Giants have reversed field and announced that they are going young (for sure, really, this time we will): Rueter has been placed in the bullpen again, Correia is taking his place today, and Niekro will be seeing more of the ABs at 1B. All said and done and reversed before, so we'll see what happens now.

But Niekro needs to learn how to hit RHP. Adding Winn improved the hitting vs. RHP but taking out Snow and putting in Niekro just negated that improvement, if not dropped it overall. He needs to start figuring it out (I wish I could find his R/L splits for 2004 somewhere to see if there is any hope along those lines).

In addition, we need the vets to step it up, Durham has for a while but Alfonzo is MIA since coming off the DL. If he can come around and be as hot as he was in April, that would be extremely helpful. Hopefully Tucker can start getting hot as well, he and Ellison are probably going to platoon in RF while Alou is out. And Feliz will have to start knocking the ball out again, he has cooled off a little after his hot streak, we need another one while Alou is out.

I had thought that maybe the addition of Winn plus news that Benitez is pitching and may return soon, could be a good impetus for the team to start winning, but the loss of Alou and the poor defense of the new catcher, has really costed us the past two games. There are too many IFs that has to happen now for the Giants to compete and yet it has happened before, so I wait and see.

But the two losses have been severely damaging to their chances, though they continue to hang by the same few threads that they had before. And I see that there are just a few grains of sand left in the playoff hourglass for the Giants, it was suspended for a while by the 'Dres' losing streak but has begun falling again. The end is near unless someone can turn it around...


Grissom assigned for Winn, maybe trade better than thought

Grissom has been designated for assignment in order to open up a roster space for Randy Winn, ending his tenure with the Giants. Or has it? Alou left the game early today with hamstring problems and has been battling problems lately so perhaps, don't know how the rules for how assignment works, if Alou goes onto the DL, the Giants might just keep Grissom?

However, I hope not. As much as I like Grissom and wish him the best, I hope they bring Linden up and give him more experience in the majors and prepare him for the future. The Giants would be OK playing Feliz in LF, Winn in CF, and Tucker in RF (with Linden in RF vs. LHP) if Alou is out.

I was thinking more about the trade for Winn. Value exchange aside - what's done is done and we can debate endlessly - the main values that have been mentioned for picking Winn up is his hitting vs. RHP and his defense, though I've also heard complaints about his fielding as well. How much better does he make the Giants vs. RHP?

One of the analysis that I like to do every year is to take the starting lineup and average out their expected BA/OBP/SLG/OPS to see roughly the type of offense we would get from that year's lineup. It's not exact but I'm not trying to predict the future to the 6th significant digit either. I used this to analyze how the Giants lineups would do before each season and I thought I could do the same for the addition of Winn.

I did it for Winn plus compared the averages for Ellison and Tucker, as they would have been the alternatives, using each players' 2005 stats vs. RHP. The other starters are Alfonzo, Alou, Vizquel, Durham, Snow, Feliz, and Matheny vs. RHP. Winn and Tucker were essentially the same while Ellison was back a bit:

Ellison .279/.343/.403/.746
Tucker .285/.352/.416/.767
Winn .285/.352/.412/.763

It doesn't seem like much of a improvement, at least not for $3.75M annually. However, the OPS of .746 for the lineup with Ellision is approximately that of the Giants 2003 team that had a lot of problems with RHP, the worst covering the years 2000-2004 (at .700 for 2005, this year will be the worse). And the .763 with Winn is approximately that of the Giants World Series 2002 team (which was still the second worst vs. RHP for the period 2000-2004). Of course, 2000, 2001, and 2004 had near .800 OPS or better, but only made it to the playoffs in 2000, when Burks supercharged our offense vs. RHP, so hitting vs. RHP is not totally a prerequisite to making the playoffs.

And this is even without Bonds. But there were 3 regulars in 2003 (4 if you combined Santiago's stats with Torrealba's) who had OPS below .750 whereas this year there is only 1. And that combined to counteract Bonds hitting vs. RHP, amazingly enough.

Plus you don't have to platoon Ellison and Tucker in CF and Winn has better ability to steal bases than Tucker, though his SB% leaves a lot to be desired. I recall the break even point for SB% is 80%, the elite can do better than that - Winn is only at 67%, which is also his career average, which just doesn't cut it with me.

But you can just stick with one player with some ability to steal (maybe Vizquel will teach him a trick or two?) who would hit about as well as a platoon of Ellison/Tucker plus play some defense. That would allow a little more continuity in the lineup with Vizquel and Winn at the top of the lineup consistently, perhaps who is leading off will be dictated by past performances vs. that day's starting pitcher. Plus the style of the offense doesn't change as it would switching between Ellison and Tucker, if we were to platoon them.

So there appears to be some upside there for our offense, perhaps a tipping point, despite the small increase in OPS. This plus the factors I mentioned in a prior post on his higher batting line in NL parks (though small sample) and underperformance vs. LHP this season and on the road this season, suggests that Winn's performance could improve while with the Giants, reversing his career decline and boost the lineup more than what Tucker had been contributing.

I am still not happy about the trade but it does seem like Winn has some upside to coming to the Giants, boosting our lineup from poor to OK vs. RHP, which is important because about 70-80% of all ABs are against RHP. And there won't be a need to pinch-hit for Winn, as we would for Ellison or Tucker, if we had used them in a platoon, we won't be forced into situations where we have to hit Ellison vs. RHP or Tucker vs. LHP, which would depress the offense.

We'll see what happens, though, this might be all a pipe dream now that Moises Alou appears to have a recurring hamstring problem the past week or maybe more, so we might not have our opening day starting lineup plus Winn beyond today as Alou left soon after the game started.


The other shoe has fallen: no Bonds in 2005

Or at least, he is stating that he does not expect to play in 2005. I suppose we've all feared this would be true, deep down, but it still takes the air out of any hopes for this season that he'll come back, like the calvary, and lead the team into the playoffs.

Now, with the news that Rafael Palmeiro has tested positively for steroids, the question comes up again: did Bonds use steroids? And I guess I'm starting to give up, either I'm worn down by the whole thing or here's someone who defiantly told Congress that he didn't take steroids and get tested positively for it, in the same season!!! What was he thinking??? Palmeiro claims that he made the mistake "after" the hearings. Yeah, right.

My conspiracy theory right now is that Bonds purposefully injured his knee in spring in order to take the pressure and attention off of him. Just bang your knee against a table, hurt it a bit, tear something doing it. Little did he know that there would be complications in the recovery that threatened loss of limb. It would also explain any degradation in performance after he returned to baseball - the injury is a convenient excuse for his stats to decline greatly.

The only way he can redeem himself in my eyes is to have a season in 2006 that is still good, which is as I've written before. Not all-time great like it has been for the past few years, but still a good season for any ballplayer. Then I can feel like there's still reasonable doubt that he didn't use. But if he stinks and take our $20M (yes, fans pay his salary), I just hope he retires and leave the game and enjoy his ill-gotten wealth.

And if this happens and he looks guiltier, I hope the writers make him wait a year or two to get into the Hall of Fame. Or even not give him enough votes so that he drops off the ballot, the veteran committee can vote him in, if they think he deserves it. Because, while he was a sure hall of famer before his stats got ridiculous, this scandal has tainted the record books in a way that it cannot be fixed and perhaps the vets will keep him out because of that.

I would rather let the players decide than the writers because I still cannot believe that players like Willie Mays and Hank Aaron did not get in on unanimous votes in their first year. I don't care what rules that a writer always follow on not voting in a player immediately, any writer who did not see that these players were hall of famers, they are idiots who do not deserve to vote for the Hall of Fame.

If it was up to me, any player who gets 95% of the vote, those 5% who did not include him should either lose their voting privileges (I don't know, permanently or for a period of time) or may be get 1 or 2 of those lifetime (I don't want to go the cliche route and call it three strikes and he's out) but after that he is kicked out. Utterly stupid that they and other players did not make the Hall Of Fame unanimously.

I know that there will be the fear that some will vote for a player even if he didn't believe just so that he avoids the penalty. That's why I give 1 or 2 free passes, so that he/she is relatively free of the compulsion to vote yes. And at the 95% level, I think it is pretty obvious he's a hall of famer and that the writers will be able to recognize that he is a hall of famer and not just vote to avoid penalty.

But there could be unintended consequences, please tell me if there is anything I missed. This is just a work in progress for me.


Steve Shelby's Future Forty Update for July (late by one day)

Steve Shelby has come up with his latest rendition of his Future Forty of Giants prospects and I am happy and honored to present it here at my blog. Here it is:

1. RHP Matt Cain
2. RHP Merkin Valdez
3. LF Eddy Martinez-Esteve
4. RF Todd Linden
5. CF Fred Lewis
6. RF Nate Schierholtz
7. SS Marcus Sanders
8. RHP Craig Whitaker
9. RF Dan Ortmeier
10. RHP Jeremy Accardo
11. 1B Travis Ishikawa
12. RHP Alfredo Simon
13. RHP Scott Munter
14. LHP Pat Misch
15. C Justin Knoedler
16. 2B Kevin Frandsen
17. CF Clay Timpner
18. LF Jon Bowker
19. LHP Jack Taschner
20. RHP Brian Wilson
21. CF Ben Copeland
22. LHP Jonathan Sanchez
23. RHP Billy Sadler
24. LHP Brian Burres
25. LHP Jesus Reina
26. RHP Justin Hedrick
27. RHP Daniel Griffin
28. 3B Brian Buscher
29. 3B Todd Jennings
30. LF Adam Shabala
31. RHP Garrett Broshuis
32. LHP Erick Threets
33. CF Joey Dyche
34. RHP Chris Begg
35. LF Tony Torcato
36. SS Angel Chavez
37. RHP Joe Bateman
38. 2B Brian Dallimore

EDIT 8/16: Changed last two from Nick Pereira and Jesse Floyd to these two
39. RF Mike Mooney
40. 3B Pablo Sandoval

Go Giants!

OK, moving on on the trade, I have one glimmer of hope

The one thing that has not been shown yet is whether the team, when healthy and playing together can win. That is the one hope that I am holding on to. Last season was similar, people were crying while the Giants were losing in April and May and yet forgot that the Giants were missing integral pieces of their team until the latter part of May.

Until a few days ago, the full team (except for Bonds, obviously) hadn't played together. Plus Winn is just joining the team so it will take some time for him to gel with the team and for Alou to figure out how to best use him. But the Bond-less team did well without him in Spring (not a good indicator but still they won both at start and end when most teams are set) and, despite missing Alou for 2 weeks at the beginning of the season, was 14-11 around when Durham left the lineup for groin problems. And Brower, Herges, and Benitez weren't doing squat in the bullpen and only Tomko was meeting expectations in the rotation.

Now I'm not saying they will do better. I expect the Giants to not win the division, they have been horrible, they still need a better starter or two in the rotation, Winn is not enough for me to believe. But being only 5.5 games back, there is still a chance that if they can find what they had in April, they could dig their way out of their hole, especially with Winn's bat improving the lineup perhaps greatly against RHP, who make up like 70-80% of rotations, I would guess.

And who knows, if they can gel together well, they could get a good head of steam going into the playoffs and, while they would have a worse record by a large margin, they may be the better playing team at that point of the season. That's how the Marlins swept through in 2003, their final record didn't fully reflect the team they were at the end, which didn't come together until Dontrelle Willis joined the team in mid-May, after which they were unstoppable.

Weirder things have happened in baseball so I'm moving on over the trade and hoping for the best the rest of the season. Maybe they'll make it, most probably they won't, but you never know and we haven't seen the Giants play together as a full unit yet. Things are settling down in the lineup and bullpen and hopefully soon for the rotation. Go Giants!


What a difference a day makes... NONE!

I am still underwhelmed by the deal but perhaps I'm on a jag after two whuppings at the hands of the Brewers.

Winn is a nice addition but unless he, as someone on McCovey Chronicles noted, hits like Payton has for the A's, he is not going to be a difference maker, not like the blockbuster trades that Sabean had engineered early in his career or that Al Rosen was great at doing. And the Giants need a difference maker right now to make a difference. If the 'Dres weren't in a steep dive right now, and the D-backs and D-gers weren't treading water, we would be crushed right now instead of having a pulse.

But unlike what others I've been reading have been saying, I think if you are close enough, you go for it and get into the playoffs. You never know who catches on fire and carries the team to the title. Even if it is 3 and out, the division winner, no matter how lousy their record is, get a bigger share of revenues than if they came in 2nd or 3rd, and that might help the team get another player (yes, cheapo vet player but better than getting squat!).