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Barry, Brian, and a waterfront ballpark: a winning trio -- but for how long?

On December 8, 1992, Toronto traded Kelly Gruber to the California Angels for Luis Sojo. That same day, the Blue Jays also signed Danny Cox and Dave Stewart, the Tigers granted Jamie Moyer free agency, the Yankees nabbed Steve Howe, and the A's picked up Storm Davis. In other news, the San Francisco Giants signed Barry Bonds to a six-year, $43.75 million deal, making Bonds the game's highest-paid player. With new skipper Dusty Baker writing "Bonds, LF" onto the lineup card every day, the Giants soared, going from 72 wins in 1992 to 103 in 1993 -- which sounds impressive until you place it next to these unpleasant facts: there was no Wild Card yet, and the Braves, in the NL West then, won 104 games. Yes, Virginia, there is life, and it sucks.

Three down years immediately followed, however, and, after a 68-94 1996 season, rather than making Baker a scapegoat, the Giants promoted to GM Brian Sabean, who had emigrated from the Yankees in 1993. Not afraid to make omelets, Sabean, as part of a larger deal, immediately traded Matt Williams, a more popular Giant than Bonds, to the Indians for Jeff Kent. Fans and the press were aghast, cats and dogs started living together, and hippies in Marin County traded in their Volvos for SUVs and voted Republican, so much did this trade sever the Bay Area's equanimity. But not even these grim events could refute the eventual truth: Sabean knew what he was doing. Kent turned into the game's best second baseman, Williams dodged injuries and ineffectiveness, and Baker earned a reputation as one of the game's best managers. The net result? Since Sabean became GM, the Giants have won more games than any other National League team but the Atlanta Braves.

How, other than having Bonds, have they done it? They play superior defense, for one thing, and the players they've surrounded Bonds with, in addition to legitimate hitters like Kent and Ellis Burks, have been just good enough to put the Giants in the upper tier offensively. Perhaps it's not so much how the Giants have done it, though, it's who they've done it with. Under Sabean's command, the Giants undeniably have valued experience more than anything. One gets the feeling that if Bonds was a second-year player and as good as he is now that he would still lose at-bats to Proven Veterans. The farm system, save for some power pitching prospects, is a moonscape. It's true the Giants have traded some of their best young arms -- Boof Bonser and Kurt Ainsworth, among others -- but they are nearly devoid of hitting talent, with the possible exception of switch-hitting Todd Linden.

This is not a new trend. The last two Giants' position players to become every day players were Chris Singleton and Bill Mueller, products of the 1993 draft. (Rich Aurilia grew up in SF's system, but he came over from the Rangers in the John Burkett trade.) And while last season Mueller turned into a switch-hitting Wade Boggs with a bit more power, in his career he has been a complementary player rather than an impact one. Singleton, who never made it as a Giant, is a fourth outfielder at best. Their young pitchers have fared marginally better; while there are always plenty of live arms "on the way," Russ Ortiz and Jerome Williams are the only two consistent pitchers to emerge.

Primarily this is because the Giants, even more than their enemies across the water, trade their prospects for veteran help. The Giants do not have the luxury of developing their own players; they need to win now, while Bonds is still productive. They have a sharp GM, and, since they own their ballpark, they have a huge revenue stream. But they have yet to locate a Barry Bonds stream -- and with a sterile collection of minor leaguers, a Bonds-less future does not appear to be a good one for the Giants.

But even if the future is where we will all be spending our future lives, in the future, who cares about the future? This is supposed to be a preview. So it's only natural that we head straight to . . .

2003 in review
Nothing lasts forever, not even Volvos and Republicans, and last year Jeff Kent took his Hall-of-Fame credentials, his motorcycles, and his dislike for Bonds to Houston, while Baker headed to Chicago. Bonds was still around, but the bitter end to the 2002 World Series skulked about, which, combined with the loss of Baker and Kent, seemed to mark the end of an era. Right? Wrong. The Giants won 100 games and the NL west by 15 games.

What went right?
Felipe Alou turned out to be every bit the successful laissez-faire manager Baker was. Kent's loss was minimized partly because Bonds enjoyed another mind-numbing season (45 homers, .341/.529/.749) and partly because Marquis Grissom (20 homers, .468 SLUG) was not a complete drag on the offense despite a .322 OBP. Jason Schmidt emerged as one of the top five starters in the league, Jerome Williams handled rookiedom and pennant fever, Tim Worrell (38 saves in 45 tries) filled in capably for Robb Nen, and the bullpen in general was solid.

What went wrong?
After signing a four-year, $26 million contract to replace Kent, Edgardo Alfonzo produced a .334 OBP and a .391 slugging percentage. Counted on as an important member of the rotation, Jesse Foppert showed signs of dominance, but also lost five MPH off his fastball and eventually underwent Tommy John surgery and is expected to miss the entire 2004 campaign. Pac-Bell Park was renamed approximately 93 times before the Giants settled on . . . well, I'm not sure what it's named now. Most importantly, the Giants played uncharacteristically lousy defense in their opening-round playoff loss to the Marlins. Rich Aurilia looked like an A-ball rookie thrown to the MLB hot-house, and Jose Cruz seemed actually to use his Gold Glove in RF in the playoffs; the latter joins Candy Maldonado, Atlee Hammaker, Felix Rodriguez, and Mother Nature in San Francisco's Playoff Hall Of Shame.

Looking ahead: three key questions for 2004
1. Will Bonds show his age? Though they only scored 25 fewer runs last year without Kent, the Giants revolve around Bonds. It is nearly impossible to overestimate his presence in the lineup.
2. Is Schmidt OK? He turned into the legitimate ace the Giants had lacked since . . . well, since a long time, but he also had off-season elbow surgery. This procedure is better than shoulder surgery, like making polenta is, but no surgery is good, and polenta is gritty and flavorless. Given Schmidt's previous arm problems with the Pirates and Braves, it's something to worry about.
3. Who's closing? Worrell provided more evidence last year that closers are fungible, but now he's in Philadelphia, and with Nen just now throwing off the mound we may have another opportunity to test the Closer Fungibility Theory (CFT). If Nen can't go, Rodriguez or Dustin Hermanson should get the first shot, and hard-throwing rookie Merkin Valdez, obtained in the Ortiz/Damian Moss trade, has also been mentioned. In the past, Alou has not been afraid to use unproven closers -- Mel Rojas, Tim Burke, John Wetteland, Worrell -- but it's a big jump from the low minors to the majors.

Imports
OF Dustan Mohr, C A.J. Pierzynski, OF Michael Tucker, P Brett Tomko

Exports
SS Rich Aurilia, OF Marvin Benard, OF Jose Cruz, Jr., P Joe Nathan, P Sidney Ponson, C Benito Santiago, P Tim Worrell, 2B Eric Young

Should be better
Alfonzo. He may not return to his Mets form, but he's better than what he showed last year (.259, .334, .391).

Should be worse
Grissom. He could slug 20 home runs by accident, but his OBP could drop to the Neifi-Perez-like .280 range, which would be more palatable if Perez himself wasn't also expected to get significant playing time.

Projected lineup
2B Ray Durham
1B J.T. Snow/Pedro Feliz
LF Barry Bonds
3B Edgardo Alfonzo
C A.J. Pierzynski
CF Marquis Grissom
RF Michael Tucker/Dustan Mohr
SS Neifi Perez

Rotation
Jason Schmidt
Kirk Rueter
Jerome Williams
Brett Tomko
Kevin Correia/Dustin Hermanson

Closer
Robb Nen/Felix Rodriguez

Upon further inspection . . .
Fans in the Bay Area have again fused with the local media, this time to decry the Giants' inactivity this past winter. But since the famous Kent/Williams trade, the Giants have traditionally been quiet in the off-season; last year's signings of Alfonzo and Ray Durham were exceptions. Plus, everyone seems to have missed that nobody else in the division did much to improve, either. And the Giants won 100 games last year even though nobody outside of Grissom had what could be considered career-type years. However, as Baseball Prospectus points out, the Giants lost several players who contributed in 2003 -- and their replacements are not exactly as good as, say, Vladimir Guerrero. They're scarcely better than Wilton Guerrero. So how much will the off-season defections hurt? Here's a breakdown, position-by-position.

1B
2003: J.T. Snow (.273, .387, .418, 8 HR)
2004: Snow

Snow is 35 and hasn't had a truly productive season since 2000. On the other hand, it's not hard to imagine him doing at least what he did last year, especially if he hits in front of Bonds, and if he can reach base at a .370 pace, he'll help, because his defense is very sound.
Trend: same

2B
2003: Ray Durham (.285, .366, .441, 8 HR, 7/7 SB/CS)
2004: Durham

Durham is the most consistent player you'll see, offensively and defensively, and at age 32 his numbers should look the same. His counting numbers should, in fact, be better, because he should play in more than 110 games. Though Durham is no Kent, he helps the Giants by being somebody who can get on base before Bonds is walked intentionally.
Trend: slightly up

3B
2003: Edgardo Alfonzo (.259, .334, .391, 13 HR)
2004: Alfonzo

Though the Giants expected more from Alfonzo, he wasn't a complete disaster. Nearly complete, but not complete. The good news: Alfonzo played in 142 games, more than he did in 2001 and 2002, and he struck out only 41 times. The bad news: everything else. There is hope. He's only 30, and he had a year this bad in 2001 (.243, .322, .403, 17 HR) but recovered to have a very solid 2002 campaign (.308, .391, .459, 16 HR). If Alfonzo can approach those numbers this year, the Giants will be happy. Not completely happy, but happy.
Trend: up

SS
2003: Rich Aurilia (.277, .325, .410, 15 HR)
2004: Neifi Perez (.yuck, .yuck, .yuck)

Here's where it goes South, or, if you're in San Francisco, West, toward the ocean, because that's where Perez belongs. Perez is an easy target, and Aurilia will never be confused with Honus Wagner, but Perez will never be confused with Aurilia. BP estimates Perez will be 24 runs worse than Aurilia, and while I know nothing about how PECOTA is generated, that seems a low estimate. There has been some speculation that Cody Ransom or Pedro Felix could get some time at SS, and if Perez is allowed to play full time for 80 games or so, he'll certainly compile numbers that will make Giants' fans yearn for a replacement. Yes, even if it's Johnny LeMaster.
Trend: down, down, down

LF
2003: Barry Bonds (.great, .holy s---!, .you're f-ing kidding, right???)
2004: Bonds

There's no reason to expect Bonds to decline. He'll still rest once a week, but it shouldn't matter. And, no, the steroid allegations won't affect him; it's not like he's not used to being the subject of negative attention.
Trend: same

CF
2003: Marquis Grissom (.300, .322, .468, 20 HR)
2004: Grissom

Grissom's success last year was not totally unforeseen, because he managed to throw together a .510 slugging percentage while playing half his games at Dodger Stadium in 2002. That said, he won't do it again, and I don't care what Felipe Alou and Mick Doherty say. Grissom will still play a decent CF, but the suspicion here is that he will hit about .260, and given his disastrous lack of patience at the plate, he needs to hit at least .300 to help.
Trend: down

RF
2003: Jose Cruz (.250/.366/.414)
2004: Michael Tucker (.262/.331/.440) / Dustan Mohr (.250/.314./.399)

It's as if Sabean has adopted the George Costanza approach to player acquisitions, with a jab toward Baseball Prospectus and the sabermetric cabal (and there clearly IS a cabal): "I will do the exact opposite of what they say; that'll learn 'em! See if THEY can put together a team to go along with Bonds, knowing about of the payroll belongs to Barry. Harrumph." Tucker is not as bad as the rap he's gotten -- he plays good defense, for example, and his .771 OPS would have been the highest in Oakland's 2003 outfield -- but he's not exactly Albert Pujols, either. Tucker and Mohr play hard, and, rightly or wrongly, Sabean values that. In theory this platoon will work -- Tucker's OPS against righties was .816, Mohr's was .801 against southpaws -- but neither player was great on the road (Tucker, .650 OPS; Mohr, .731 OPS), better indicators of how they'll do in SF. After the playoff debacle, there was no way Cruz was coming back to the Giants, but he was better offensively than either Mohr or Tucker.
Trend: down

Catcher
2003: Benito Santiago (.279/.329/.424)
2004: A.J. Pierzynski (.312, .360, .464, 11 HR)

Pierzynski closely resembles the other new regulars: they're all hard-nosed free-swingers. (Amendment: probably Perez has a hard nose, but he's not hard-nosed.) Unlike Tucker and Mohr, however, there is some upside here. Only 27, Pierzynski could have a power spike this year. Even though his new stadium is a pitcher's park, some of those 35 doubles will no doubt leave the yard this season. Pierzynski was not helpless against left-handed pitchers (.785 OPS), either. Overall, he will certainly be as good as Santiago -- and he could be significantly better.
Trend: up

That's three up, three down, and two even (and one of those "evens," Bonds, is so dominant, he basically counts as an "up"). In other words, the offense should be no worse than it was last year. If Alfonzo can recover all the way, Feliz takes 400 at-bats away from Perez and slugs over .500, and Pierzynski has a career year, it could even be better. There are always ifs, and Perez, Grissom, and the RF platoon have the potential to drag the Giants down, but essentially it's the same offense as last year: Bonds, two or three solid players, and a conflagration of replacement players or worse.

Since pitching by its nature is impossible to predict/project, I won't get into details here. The key to the staff is Schmidt. If he's healthy and dominant, he'll win his 15 games and give the bullpen some rest. Nobody can figure out how Kirk Rueter keeps winning, and while last year he was less effective than the year before, there's little reason to think he'll fall off the cliff in 2004. Rueter has been on extinction watch before, in 1999, when he put up a 76 ERA+ -- and still managed to produce a 15-10 ledger. As long as Rueter goes 10-5 despite giving up 170 hits in 147 innings and having a K/BB ratio of less than 1:1 -- he peformed all those miracles in 2003 -- the people who claim "Pitcher X knows how to win" will have one parcel of evidence.

Meanwhile, Jerome Williams should improve overall, though he may get slapped around a bit in the first half of the season. You'd like to see him improve on his K/BB ratio (1.88), but his health should not be a problem; never known for their nurturing of young pitchers, the Giants nonetheless kept Williams below 100 pitches per start. Because of his relative consistency, Tomko will be a slight upgrade over Foppert/Ainsworth/Ponson, and few teams have good fifth starters, so whoever wins the last spot in the rotation will be, at worst, like every other team's, outside of the Yankees, Red Sox, A's, and Cubs. The loss of Worrell, along with Nen's health problems, would seem to weaken the bullpen; but while Jim Brower, Scott Eyre, Matt Herges, Hermanson, et al, are not sexy (in the bullpen sense, that is), they're effective. If the Giants have a serious hole going into the season, it would be that their pitching is thin. But even that does not seem like a deal breaker, because they have the minor league arms to get help at the all-star break. And they have Bonds; he helps a bit.

Fearless prediction
Despite the off-season losses, despite the certainty of 170 walks for Bonds, despite the Vortex Of Infinite Negativity at shortstop, this team looks as good as last year's. So much so that I declare them to be Smooth Johnny Gizzi's Lock to win the NL West. They may not win 100 games again -- their Pythagorean record last year was 93-68 -- but even if they only win 90, who from the NL West is going to challenge them? With Paul DePodesta taking over at GM, the future looks good for the Dodgers, but that future probably will start in 2005. The Padres are a trendy sleeper pick, but their starting pitching, while young and talented, is thin, and we don't know if Phil Nevin and Ryan Klesko will be healthy, if Sean Burroughs can consolidate his patience and size and become a power hitter, or if Khalil Greene will produce at above replacement level. Every team has health concerns, and even if Nevin and Klesko do what they did last year San Diego will be better, because they will get full seasons from Brian Giles, Adam Eaton, and Ramon Hernandez. But they look like they're a year away. As for Arizona and Colorado, they have the same equal mixture of haphazard strengths and weaknesses, making a .500 season likely.

There is one possibility that could ruin Smooth Johnny Gizzi's prognostication: if Bonds goes down for an extended period. No good team is more dependant on one player; no single player has a larger effect on the micro game. There is no way to measure the mental impact when a pitcher sees Bonds in the on-deck circle, but it's unlikely it has no effect. Does a flash of nervousness hit the pitcher, causing him to groove one to the current hitter? Even if he walks Bonds, does the pitcher relax after issuing the free pass? Or does he press, making mistakes in the strike zone? This is where an argument can be made for the value of having free swingers behind Bonds. Because he's on base so often, either intentionally or not, there is going to be constant pressure on opposing pitchers to throw strikes. And though Grissom and Pierzynski often swing at balls in the dirt, they won't have to worry about it as much, so they can look for locations and put the ball in play.

A better argument, of course, is that the Giants should have kept Kent to surround Bonds, or at least picked up a David-Ortiz-type flier. But they can't afford to load up on hitters the way the Yankees and Red Sox have, and Sabean does not subscribe to the idea of free talent as readily as Billy Beane supposedly does. Otherwise, Billy McMillon, Graham Koonce or any number of cheap, patient minor-league hitters would be on the team. The Sabean recipe shouldn't work -- even a team with Bonds and Kent should not succeed as well as it has with offensive ciphers like Tucker, Santiago, Tom Goodwin, et al, and someone like Rueter is an extreme outlier; plus there's no Mulder/Hudson/Zito in SF -- but who's going to argue with the results? They were six outs from a World Series title two years ago, they've been in the hunt every year since Sabean became GM, and in all likelihood they are going to the win the NL West in 2004.

The constants are Bonds, Sabean, and the stadium, not necessarily in that order, but in particular it's hard to imagine the club without Bonds. Still, for all his dominance, he's nearing the end, even if the results on the field don't yet indicate it, and so the Giants are that much closer to the precipice. That is why they forfeit two draft picks to sign Tucker; that is (one reason) why they heavily draft college pitchers who can be ready soon, either as trade fodder or as emergency use in their own rotation; that is why they rely on Proven Veterans like Tucker rather than giving rookies or free talent a chance to play. Could Linden or McMillon out-hit Tucker? Probably. But the Giants can't wait around for rookies or give McMillon the shot he deserves; they need to win now, and they need to maximize their chances to do so. It's doubtful Perez or Tucker or Mohr or Goodwin maximize anything save for their opponents' statistics, but even if one disagrees with the details (why not McMillon instead of Tucker?), trying to win now is the right course for the Giants, because even though Sabean and SBC Park will be around indefinitely, the only guarantee the team has is that the Greatest Baseball Player On Earth will not.
San Francisco Giants Preview | 42 comments | Create New Account
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_A - Tuesday, February 24 2004 @ 08:57 AM EST (#70400) #
and there clearly IS a cabal
Craig, you missed your cue ;-)

Great piece!
_brayden - Tuesday, February 24 2004 @ 10:30 AM EST (#70401) #
http://www.braydenking.com/weblog
Nice preview. I'm not so sure though that Bonds won't be affected by the steroid allegations (especially if the allegations were true!).
_Jeff - Tuesday, February 24 2004 @ 11:47 AM EST (#70402) #
This is an excellent piece! Better than any team overview on any of the big name websites. Very well written and an accurate overview of the most perplexingly successful team in the league. Great work!
_Ken - Tuesday, February 24 2004 @ 11:54 AM EST (#70403) #
I gotta say, I really enjoyed reading this. Great idea to preview all the teams, I hope all of them are this good :)
_Shrike - Tuesday, February 24 2004 @ 12:21 PM EST (#70404) #
You are Da Man, Gitz. ;)
Mike Green - Tuesday, February 24 2004 @ 12:33 PM EST (#70405) #
Very fine piece. Clay Davenport's third-order standings on BP from September or October of last year, which take into account both runs scored and allowed and quality of competition faced, had the Giants with 90 wins last year, I believe. I can't find the reference now.

Steroids or no steroids, Barry Bonds has to be projected to be not as fabulous in 2004 as he was in 2003. There was a decline between 2001-2 and 2003, and in all likelihood, this decline will continue in 2004 bearing in mind his age.

Like the AL Central, 87 wins might very well do it in this division. The Giants have a reasonable shot at 87-90 wins, but I think that the Dodgers might get there too.
Coach - Tuesday, February 24 2004 @ 01:53 PM EST (#70406) #
the George Costanza approach to player acquisitions

No GM makes me scratch my head more than Sabean. He actually wanted to give away his top draft pick, and paid a potentially steep price in Ainsworth for a few months of Sidney Ponson. I thought he had hired the wrong manager last year, too. Yet he continues to get results.

I've annually underestimated the Giants since about 1997, so it's a bit late for me to get on that bandwagon, Smooth Johnny's guarantee notwithstanding. Though they may be a year away from prime time, I'm rooting for the Padres.

I'll join the chorus on one thing. Highly entertaining stuff, Gitz.
Gitz - Tuesday, February 24 2004 @ 02:07 PM EST (#70407) #
It should be known that I'm not a homer on the Giants. I really do dislike them, ever since I can remember, and it really has nothing to do with me liking the A's; like most of my petty dislikes, there's no single reason I can nail for it. And, like Coach, every year I say to myself, and to some of my friends, who are fans, "82 wins, 85 tops." Smooth Johnny Gizzi has been on a downward roll lately -- Pat Burrell NL MVP last year??? -- but youneverknow.
Gerry - Tuesday, February 24 2004 @ 03:28 PM EST (#70408) #
Does Sabean prefer older players or is he catering to his managers? Dusty Baker and Felipe Alou worked well with the older players. Or does Sabean hire managers who prefer experienced players like he does. Do we know if this experienced player approach is a strategy or a reaction to managerial personnel?
Mike Green - Tuesday, February 24 2004 @ 04:05 PM EST (#70409) #
I don't know about Felipe Alou preferring veterans. When Alou started with Montreal in the early 90s, he was handed a team with a whole bunch of young players, and they all developed nicely under his watch- Marquis Grissom, Moises Alou, Delino DeShields, Wil Cordero...

I think Felipe will work with whatever talent is given him, and make the most of it. That is his greatest strength as a manager, in my opinion.

I seriously doubt that Felipe Alou would have supported giving up a 1st round draft choice for baseball reasons; he might have understood it for financial reasons (he'd seen just about everything in Montreal), but I just can't see him telling Brian Sabean that he didn't want a young prospect in a couple of years.
_Cristian - Tuesday, February 24 2004 @ 05:23 PM EST (#70410) #
I sure hope the ZLC "Zombie-like Cabal" is getting these previews to the team-specific blogs out there. I really enjoyed how the Tigers preview brought intelligent Tiger fans into the discussion. I can imagine that with a bit of marketing the discussion threads for each of these previews will be elevated.

That said, looking over that SF lineup, I can't help imagine how great an addition Rafael Palmeiro would have been. I've never understood San Francisco's attachment to JT Snow. Of course, on a less serious note, with BALCO out of the picture it wouldn't hurt to bring aboard a player who brings his own supplements.
Lucas - Tuesday, February 24 2004 @ 07:46 PM EST (#70411) #
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/sports/8026839.htm
One thing about Tucker's semi-respectable OPS: it came in the best hitter's park in the AL. His OPS+ was 92.

And Alou has changed his mind (for the moment) about Bonds hitting third. Bonds will bat fourth again, with the three-spot being manned by (cue scary music) MICHAEL TUCKER!
_Johnny Mack - Tuesday, March 02 2004 @ 11:16 AM EST (#70412) #
This procedure is better than shoulder surgery, like making polenta is, but no surgery is good, and polenta is gritty and flavorless.

Great line.

I really like the last paragraph. Good summary of the Giants' position.
_Johnny Mack - Tuesday, March 02 2004 @ 11:19 AM EST (#70413) #
Crap. That makes it sound like those were only two tings I liked about the article, when in truth I enjoyed the whole thing immensely.
_Marty - Monday, March 08 2004 @ 02:31 PM EST (#70414) #
http://acrosstheseams.typepad.com/
Sweet preview. A minor quibble: "since they own their ballpark, they have a huge revenue stream" is a little misleading. The Giants have a huge debt to pay down on the park, so at the moment it's a bit of a hindrance, even though it does produce a lot of money. Once that's paid off, though, watch out.
_Achiappanza - Tuesday, March 09 2004 @ 11:26 PM EST (#70415) #
Of course it'll take 25 more years to pay it off, at which point it may be an "outdated" park! But I like Gizzi's POV, which is not to use the debt service as a revenue excuse. The Giants led the NL in attendance both HOME and AWAY last year, and I cannot believe that the guys who procured that park still didn't forecast that scenario as profitable. Let's not forget there's a huge expense (ballpark rent) that many other teams have to pay that the Giants don't.

Still, the Magowan-led ownership is a cheap bunch of hicks, and I'm convinced their ongoing strategy is to put together a playoff contender for as little money as possible. They have yet to lay it on thick like the teams who really want it all do.
_Marty - Wednesday, March 10 2004 @ 03:04 AM EST (#70416) #
http://acrosstheseams.typepad.com/across_the_seams/
I'm getting off the topic here ... rent numbers vary from club to club. The Yankees pay about $3.6 million a year (from 1997 to 2001 they paid a total of $18 million, according to the NY Post). And the Brewers from what I can tell are getting paid by the stadium to play there for 30 years, to the tune of $3.85 million a year. The Brewers have to kick in for maintenance and insurance though (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).
_tracy - Wednesday, March 17 2004 @ 01:42 PM EST (#70417) #
About the debt. The Giants are paying down the debt at an accelerated pace so that they own the stadium in 7 more years. Therefore, they have a loss position despite good revenue streams. Short run, this means less free agent money now(i.e. no Vlad) but long run, it means more money for payroll (especially when BB retires). Second, they pay much more money in debt service than any other team pays in rent. The good news is that they'll own the park in a few years and not have the debt. Great article, though I'm surprised that Herges wasn't mentioned in the closer mix.
_Eddie - Wednesday, March 17 2004 @ 03:42 PM EST (#70418) #
I think the author confused Hermanson (for his career, only effective as a starter) and Herges in the closer comment.
Gitz - Wednesday, March 17 2004 @ 04:47 PM EST (#70419) #
Two things:

1) I'm not an author; like everyone here, I'm a fan. Besides, the author is dead.
2) Thank you for the good faith that I had merely confused Hermanson with Herges, but the truth is I had both a) forgotten Herges, even if I mentioned him later; b) not considered him "closer material," even though he's held that job before.

One thing is becoming clearer, however: Nen won't be ready. The Nen situation reminds me of what happened with Duane Ward some years ago (1994?). Ward was hurt (maybe recovering from surgery?), I had him on my fantasy roster, and every time I heard an update on when he would be coming back, it was "He'll be ready in two weeks." He never pitched that year. I'm not suggesting that Nen won't pitch this year; nor will I be surprised if that comes to pass.
_BrannanStreet - Wednesday, March 17 2004 @ 09:31 PM EST (#70420) #
I like this a lot. Good writing and perceptive. I am a believer that ballplayers can occasionally figure stuff out and make transformative jumps unpredicted by the form, but I also realize that form holds most of the time. So even though I wistfully imagine that Neifi has had an offseason epiphany concerning the virtues of the slug bunt and that Dustan Mohr, Michael Tucker and Jeffrey Hammond will play so well that Barry has to beg for ABs, I understand the that if pigs had wings they would fly.

I have one issue with this article, and its name is Jose Cruz Jr. , or the evaluation thereof.

This author concludes that the new 3 headed rf platoon will be a step down from JC Jr. *offensively*. The author projects Mohtuckonds' #s and find them less than JC's End of story.

The good offensive numbers JC had were walks/opb and hrs.

When we look at his rbis, let's remember that this guy had a chance to hit behind Barry. But that's not the point. The point is that anyone who watched the G's last year knows that these were the 102 softest walks and the 20 softest homers ever walked or hit. Very nice fellow, adorable looking, splendid fielder, but I watched him. If you needed a baserunner or a hit or a lousy fly ball for that matter, even Neifi was as good and any other Giant was better. He was total loss farm. Runner on third, nobody out and if he hit a topper to second you felt like you'd won the lottery.

Maybe Jose Jr. will have his own transformation and be an entirely different *kind* of hitter this year. But there's no way that trio will contribute less to the G's offense than Cruz did last year.
_Rog - Friday, March 19 2004 @ 10:14 AM EST (#70421) #
Great rundown of the Giants, but I wanted to quibble about two positions.

You believe the Giants will stay the same at first base and in left field, while I believe a decline is likely at each position.

JT Snow isn't likely to better (although possibly healthier), but we're actually comparing the platoon of JT and Pedro Feliz to last year's platoon of JT and primarily Andres Galarraga. Pedro may well equal Andres' power (He exceeded it last season.), but like Neifi Perez and probably Marquis Grissom this upcoming season, he makes too many outs. While JT had his best season of the past three last year, with an added year further lenghtening his tooth he may decline a bit, especially in his clutch hitting, which was very good last season. The primary positive I see for JT is that he is being installed in the two-hole in the order, from where he had a .413 OBP and a .420 SLG last season.

But on balance, I am expecting a bit of a decline at first base, based in great part on the difficulty of replacing the clutch hitting of Galarraga from the right side.

Left field will almost certainly be the Giants' best position, but if Barry Bonds falls back merely to his pre-2001 Hall of Fame level at the plate, the Giants just don't have much else to take over in their lineup. And while one can look to the difficulty of playing through his dad's ill health last season and point to his impressive second half, the fact remains that Barry's OPS fell off by about 100 points. Without his dad to coach his hitting and with the possible effects of the BALCO situtation, it seems likely that Barry will again decline at the plate. After all, he'll turn 40 in just over four months. And while Barry seemed to have his best season in the field in a few years, age is again unlikely to be his friend there. The possibility remains that Barry will play in even fewer games, as well. And while the Giants have more depth in their outfield this season (assuming Jeffrey Hammonds comes back healthy), most of their outfielders not wearing #25 are little above average.

Glad to see that Felipe Alou is returning Barry to the cleanup spot. If he bats Ray Durham, Snow and Michael Tucker ahead of Barry against righties and goes with Durham, Hammonds(when healthy) and Marquis Grissom against lefties, Barry should have a lot more runners on ahead of him than if he followed the pitcher and only two good OBP guys while batting third. And with the clutch-hitting duo of Edgardo Alfonzo and AJ Pierzynski following Barry, the opponents might frequently regret walking Bonds, even if not because of the long ball. Grissom against righties and Feliz against lefties can provide tertiary protection from the seventh spot in the order.

The only way I see the Giants as being likely to reverse their annual decline in runs scored since 2000 would be if Feliz were to prove he could play shortstop on a daily basis and Perez were injured or so clearly ineffective that Pedro got the chance to play every day. But was Pedro's power surge last season a precursor of things to come, or will pitchers realize the futility of throwing unnecessary strikes to Feliz, especially if he bats low in the order? And will Pedro ever get on base enough to bat in front of Bonds, which would likely keep up his dosage of pitches in the strike zone?

The starting pitching might be close to last season's output if it can remain healthy, and Robb Nen's recent simulated game outing may bode well for a bullpen that has lost much of its depth with the departures of last season's closer and set-up man in Tim Worrell and Joe Nathan.

But the Giants are likely to both score fewer runs and give up more, as they did in 2003, and it is likely to result in something around a dozen fewer wins. The good news is that in the NL Worst that will likely be enough to win the division.
_Rog - Friday, March 19 2004 @ 10:14 AM EST (#70422) #
Great rundown of the Giants, but I wanted to quibble about two positions.

You believe the Giants will stay the same at first base and in left field, while I believe a decline is likely at each position.

JT Snow isn't likely to better (although possibly healthier), but we're actually comparing the platoon of JT and Pedro Feliz to last year's platoon of JT and primarily Andres Galarraga. Pedro may well equal Andres' power (He exceeded it last season.), but like Neifi Perez and probably Marquis Grissom this upcoming season, he makes too many outs. While JT had his best season of the past three last year, with an added year further lenghtening his tooth he may decline a bit, especially in his clutch hitting, which was very good last season. The primary positive I see for JT is that he is being installed in the two-hole in the order, from where he had a .413 OBP and a .420 SLG last season.

But on balance, I am expecting a bit of a decline at first base, based in great part on the difficulty of replacing the clutch hitting of Galarraga from the right side.

Left field will almost certainly be the Giants' best position, but if Barry Bonds falls back merely to his pre-2001 Hall of Fame level at the plate, the Giants just don't have much else to take over in their lineup. And while one can look to the difficulty of playing through his dad's ill health last season and point to his impressive second half, the fact remains that Barry's OPS fell off by about 100 points. Without his dad to coach his hitting and with the possible effects of the BALCO situtation, it seems likely that Barry will again decline at the plate. After all, he'll turn 40 in just over four months. And while Barry seemed to have his best season in the field in a few years, age is again unlikely to be his friend there. The possibility remains that Barry will play in even fewer games, as well. And while the Giants have more depth in their outfield this season (assuming Jeffrey Hammonds comes back healthy), most of their outfielders not wearing #25 are little above average.

Glad to see that Felipe Alou is returning Barry to the cleanup spot. If he bats Ray Durham, Snow and Michael Tucker ahead of Barry against righties and goes with Durham, Hammonds(when healthy) and Marquis Grissom against lefties, Barry should have a lot more runners on ahead of him than if he followed the pitcher and only two good OBP guys while batting third. And with the clutch-hitting duo of Edgardo Alfonzo and AJ Pierzynski following Barry, the opponents might frequently regret walking Bonds, even if not because of the long ball. Grissom against righties and Feliz against lefties can provide tertiary protection from the seventh spot in the order.

The only way I see the Giants as being likely to reverse their annual decline in runs scored since 2000 would be if Feliz were to prove he could play shortstop on a daily basis and Perez were injured or so clearly ineffective that Pedro got the chance to play every day. But was Pedro's power surge last season a precursor of things to come, or will pitchers realize the futility of throwing unnecessary strikes to Feliz, especially if he bats low in the order? And will Pedro ever get on base enough to bat in front of Bonds, which would likely keep up his dosage of pitches in the strike zone?

The starting pitching might be close to last season's output if it can remain healthy, and Robb Nen's recent simulated game outing may bode well for a bullpen that has lost much of its depth with the departures of last season's closer and set-up man in Tim Worrell and Joe Nathan.

But the Giants are likely to both score fewer runs and give up more, as they did in 2003, and it is likely to result in something around a dozen fewer wins. The good news is that in the NL Worst that will likely be enough to win the division.
_Rog - Friday, March 19 2004 @ 10:15 AM EST (#70423) #
Great rundown of the Giants, but I wanted to quibble about two positions.

You believe the Giants will stay the same at first base and in left field, while I believe a decline is likely at each position.

JT Snow isn't likely to better (although possibly healthier), but we're actually comparing the platoon of JT and Pedro Feliz to last year's platoon of JT and primarily Andres Galarraga. Pedro may well equal Andres' power (He exceeded it last season.), but like Neifi Perez and probably Marquis Grissom this upcoming season, he makes too many outs. While JT had his best season of the past three last year, with an added year further lenghtening his tooth he may decline a bit, especially in his clutch hitting, which was very good last season. The primary positive I see for JT is that he is being installed in the two-hole in the order, from where he had a .413 OBP and a .420 SLG last season.

But on balance, I am expecting a bit of a decline at first base, based in great part on the difficulty of replacing the clutch hitting of Galarraga from the right side.

Left field will almost certainly be the Giants' best position, but if Barry Bonds falls back merely to his pre-2001 Hall of Fame level at the plate, the Giants just don't have much else to take over in their lineup. And while one can look to the difficulty of playing through his dad's ill health last season and point to his impressive second half, the fact remains that Barry's OPS fell off by about 100 points. Without his dad to coach his hitting and with the possible effects of the BALCO situtation, it seems likely that Barry will again decline at the plate. After all, he'll turn 40 in just over four months. And while Barry seemed to have his best season in the field in a few years, age is again unlikely to be his friend there. The possibility remains that Barry will play in even fewer games, as well. And while the Giants have more depth in their outfield this season (assuming Jeffrey Hammonds comes back healthy), most of their outfielders not wearing #25 are little above average.

Glad to see that Felipe Alou is returning Barry to the cleanup spot. If he bats Ray Durham, Snow and Michael Tucker ahead of Barry against righties and goes with Durham, Hammonds(when healthy) and Marquis Grissom against lefties, Barry should have a lot more runners on ahead of him than if he followed the pitcher and only two good OBP guys while batting third. And with the clutch-hitting duo of Edgardo Alfonzo and AJ Pierzynski following Barry, the opponents might frequently regret walking Bonds, even if not because of the long ball. Grissom against righties and Feliz against lefties can provide tertiary protection from the seventh spot in the order.

The only way I see the Giants as being likely to reverse their annual decline in runs scored since 2000 would be if Feliz were to prove he could play shortstop on a daily basis and Perez were injured or so clearly ineffective that Pedro got the chance to play every day. But was Pedro's power surge last season a precursor of things to come, or will pitchers realize the futility of throwing unnecessary strikes to Feliz, especially if he bats low in the order? And will Pedro ever get on base enough to bat in front of Bonds, which would likely keep up his dosage of pitches in the strike zone?

The starting pitching might be close to last season's output if it can remain healthy, and Robb Nen's recent simulated game outing may bode well for a bullpen that has lost much of its depth with the departures of last season's closer and set-up man in Tim Worrell and Joe Nathan.

But the Giants are likely to both score fewer runs and give up more, as they did in 2003, and it is likely to result in something around a dozen fewer wins. The good news is that in the NL Worst that will likely be enough to win the division.
_Rog - Friday, March 19 2004 @ 10:15 AM EST (#70424) #
Great rundown of the Giants, but I wanted to quibble about two positions.

You believe the Giants will stay the same at first base and in left field, while I believe a decline is likely at each position.

JT Snow isn't likely to better (although possibly healthier), but we're actually comparing the platoon of JT and Pedro Feliz to last year's platoon of JT and primarily Andres Galarraga. Pedro may well equal Andres' power (He exceeded it last season.), but like Neifi Perez and probably Marquis Grissom this upcoming season, he makes too many outs. While JT had his best season of the past three last year, with an added year further lenghtening his tooth he may decline a bit, especially in his clutch hitting, which was very good last season. The primary positive I see for JT is that he is being installed in the two-hole in the order, from where he had a .413 OBP and a .420 SLG last season.

But on balance, I am expecting a bit of a decline at first base, based in great part on the difficulty of replacing the clutch hitting of Galarraga from the right side.

Left field will almost certainly be the Giants' best position, but if Barry Bonds falls back merely to his pre-2001 Hall of Fame level at the plate, the Giants just don't have much else to take over in their lineup. And while one can look to the difficulty of playing through his dad's ill health last season and point to his impressive second half, the fact remains that Barry's OPS fell off by about 100 points. Without his dad to coach his hitting and with the possible effects of the BALCO situtation, it seems likely that Barry will again decline at the plate. After all, he'll turn 40 in just over four months. And while Barry seemed to have his best season in the field in a few years, age is again unlikely to be his friend there. The possibility remains that Barry will play in even fewer games, as well. And while the Giants have more depth in their outfield this season (assuming Jeffrey Hammonds comes back healthy), most of their outfielders not wearing #25 are little above average.

Glad to see that Felipe Alou is returning Barry to the cleanup spot. If he bats Ray Durham, Snow and Michael Tucker ahead of Barry against righties and goes with Durham, Hammonds(when healthy) and Marquis Grissom against lefties, Barry should have a lot more runners on ahead of him than if he followed the pitcher and only two good OBP guys while batting third. And with the clutch-hitting duo of Edgardo Alfonzo and AJ Pierzynski following Barry, the opponents might frequently regret walking Bonds, even if not because of the long ball. Grissom against righties and Feliz against lefties can provide tertiary protection from the seventh spot in the order.

The only way I see the Giants as being likely to reverse their annual decline in runs scored since 2000 would be if Feliz were to prove he could play shortstop on a daily basis and Perez were injured or so clearly ineffective that Pedro got the chance to play every day. But was Pedro's power surge last season a precursor of things to come, or will pitchers realize the futility of throwing unnecessary strikes to Feliz, especially if he bats low in the order? And will Pedro ever get on base enough to bat in front of Bonds, which would likely keep up his dosage of pitches in the strike zone?

The starting pitching might be close to last season's output if it can remain healthy, and Robb Nen's recent simulated game outing may bode well for a bullpen that has lost much of its depth with the departures of last season's closer and set-up man in Tim Worrell and Joe Nathan.

But the Giants are likely to both score fewer runs and give up more, as they did in 2003, and it is likely to result in something around a dozen fewer wins. The good news is that in the NL Worst that will likely be enough to win the division.
_Rog - Friday, March 19 2004 @ 10:16 AM EST (#70425) #
Great rundown of the Giants, but I wanted to quibble about two positions.

You believe the Giants will stay the same at first base and in left field, while I believe a decline is likely at each position.

JT Snow isn't likely to better (although possibly healthier), but we're actually comparing the platoon of JT and Pedro Feliz to last year's platoon of JT and primarily Andres Galarraga. Pedro may well equal Andres' power (He exceeded it last season.), but like Neifi Perez and probably Marquis Grissom this upcoming season, he makes too many outs. While JT had his best season of the past three last year, with an added year further lenghtening his tooth he may decline a bit, especially in his clutch hitting, which was very good last season. The primary positive I see for JT is that he is being installed in the two-hole in the order, from where he had a .413 OBP and a .420 SLG last season.

But on balance, I am expecting a bit of a decline at first base, based in great part on the difficulty of replacing the clutch hitting of Galarraga from the right side.

Left field will almost certainly be the Giants' best position, but if Barry Bonds falls back merely to his pre-2001 Hall of Fame level at the plate, the Giants just don't have much else to take over in their lineup. And while one can look to the difficulty of playing through his dad's ill health last season and point to his impressive second half, the fact remains that Barry's OPS fell off by about 100 points. Without his dad to coach his hitting and with the possible effects of the BALCO situtation, it seems likely that Barry will again decline at the plate. After all, he'll turn 40 in just over four months. And while Barry seemed to have his best season in the field in a few years, age is again unlikely to be his friend there. The possibility remains that Barry will play in even fewer games, as well. And while the Giants have more depth in their outfield this season (assuming Jeffrey Hammonds comes back healthy), most of their outfielders not wearing #25 are little above average.

Glad to see that Felipe Alou is returning Barry to the cleanup spot. If he bats Ray Durham, Snow and Michael Tucker ahead of Barry against righties and goes with Durham, Hammonds(when healthy) and Marquis Grissom against lefties, Barry should have a lot more runners on ahead of him than if he followed the pitcher and only two good OBP guys while batting third. And with the clutch-hitting duo of Edgardo Alfonzo and AJ Pierzynski following Barry, the opponents might frequently regret walking Bonds, even if not because of the long ball. Grissom against righties and Feliz against lefties can provide tertiary protection from the seventh spot in the order.

The only way I see the Giants as being likely to reverse their annual decline in runs scored since 2000 would be if Feliz were to prove he could play shortstop on a daily basis and Perez were injured or so clearly ineffective that Pedro got the chance to play every day. But was Pedro's power surge last season a precursor of things to come, or will pitchers realize the futility of throwing unnecessary strikes to Feliz, especially if he bats low in the order? And will Pedro ever get on base enough to bat in front of Bonds, which would likely keep up his dosage of pitches in the strike zone?

The starting pitching might be close to last season's output if it can remain healthy, and Robb Nen's recent simulated game outing may bode well for a bullpen that has lost much of its depth with the departures of last season's closer and set-up man in Tim Worrell and Joe Nathan.

But the Giants are likely to both score fewer runs and give up more, as they did in 2003, and it is likely to result in something around a dozen fewer wins. The good news is that in the NL Worst that will likely be enough to win the division.
_Rog - Friday, March 19 2004 @ 10:17 AM EST (#70426) #
Great rundown of the Giants, but I wanted to quibble about two positions.

You believe the Giants will stay the same at first base and in left field, while I believe a decline is likely at each position.

JT Snow isn't likely to better (although possibly healthier), but we're actually comparing the platoon of JT and Pedro Feliz to last year's platoon of JT and primarily Andres Galarraga. Pedro may well equal Andres' power (He exceeded it last season.), but like Neifi Perez and probably Marquis Grissom this upcoming season, he makes too many outs. While JT had his best season of the past three last year, with an added year further lenghtening his tooth he may decline a bit, especially in his clutch hitting, which was very good last season. The primary positive I see for JT is that he is being installed in the two-hole in the order, from where he had a .413 OBP and a .420 SLG last season.

But on balance, I am expecting a bit of a decline at first base, based in great part on the difficulty of replacing the clutch hitting of Galarraga from the right side.

Left field will almost certainly be the Giants' best position, but if Barry Bonds falls back merely to his pre-2001 Hall of Fame level at the plate, the Giants just don't have much else to take over in their lineup. And while one can look to the difficulty of playing through his dad's ill health last season and point to his impressive second half, the fact remains that Barry's OPS fell off by about 100 points. Without his dad to coach his hitting and with the possible effects of the BALCO situtation, it seems likely that Barry will again decline at the plate. After all, he'll turn 40 in just over four months. And while Barry seemed to have his best season in the field in a few years, age is again unlikely to be his friend there. The possibility remains that Barry will play in even fewer games, as well. And while the Giants have more depth in their outfield this season (assuming Jeffrey Hammonds comes back healthy), most of their outfielders not wearing #25 are little above average.

Glad to see that Felipe Alou is returning Barry to the cleanup spot. If he bats Ray Durham, Snow and Michael Tucker ahead of Barry against righties and goes with Durham, Hammonds(when healthy) and Marquis Grissom against lefties, Barry should have a lot more runners on ahead of him than if he followed the pitcher and only two good OBP guys while batting third. And with the clutch-hitting duo of Edgardo Alfonzo and AJ Pierzynski following Barry, the opponents might frequently regret walking Bonds, even if not because of the long ball. Grissom against righties and Feliz against lefties can provide tertiary protection from the seventh spot in the order.

The only way I see the Giants as being likely to reverse their annual decline in runs scored since 2000 would be if Feliz were to prove he could play shortstop on a daily basis and Perez were injured or so clearly ineffective that Pedro got the chance to play every day. But was Pedro's power surge last season a precursor of things to come, or will pitchers realize the futility of throwing unnecessary strikes to Feliz, especially if he bats low in the order? And will Pedro ever get on base enough to bat in front of Bonds, which would likely keep up his dosage of pitches in the strike zone?

The starting pitching might be close to last season's output if it can remain healthy, and Robb Nen's recent simulated game outing may bode well for a bullpen that has lost much of its depth with the departures of last season's closer and set-up man in Tim Worrell and Joe Nathan.

But the Giants are likely to both score fewer runs and give up more, as they did in 2003, and it is likely to result in something around a dozen fewer wins. The good news is that in the NL Worst that will likely be enough to win the division.
_Rog - Friday, March 19 2004 @ 10:17 AM EST (#70427) #
Great rundown of the Giants, but I wanted to quibble about two positions.

You believe the Giants will stay the same at first base and in left field, while I believe a decline is likely at each position.

JT Snow isn't likely to better (although possibly healthier), but we're actually comparing the platoon of JT and Pedro Feliz to last year's platoon of JT and primarily Andres Galarraga. Pedro may well equal Andres' power (He exceeded it last season.), but like Neifi Perez and probably Marquis Grissom this upcoming season, he makes too many outs. While JT had his best season of the past three last year, with an added year further lenghtening his tooth he may decline a bit, especially in his clutch hitting, which was very good last season. The primary positive I see for JT is that he is being installed in the two-hole in the order, from where he had a .413 OBP and a .420 SLG last season.

But on balance, I am expecting a bit of a decline at first base, based in great part on the difficulty of replacing the clutch hitting of Galarraga from the right side.

Left field will almost certainly be the Giants' best position, but if Barry Bonds falls back merely to his pre-2001 Hall of Fame level at the plate, the Giants just don't have much else to take over in their lineup. And while one can look to the difficulty of playing through his dad's ill health last season and point to his impressive second half, the fact remains that Barry's OPS fell off by about 100 points. Without his dad to coach his hitting and with the possible effects of the BALCO situtation, it seems likely that Barry will again decline at the plate. After all, he'll turn 40 in just over four months. And while Barry seemed to have his best season in the field in a few years, age is again unlikely to be his friend there. The possibility remains that Barry will play in even fewer games, as well. And while the Giants have more depth in their outfield this season (assuming Jeffrey Hammonds comes back healthy), most of their outfielders not wearing #25 are little above average.

Glad to see that Felipe Alou is returning Barry to the cleanup spot. If he bats Ray Durham, Snow and Michael Tucker ahead of Barry against righties and goes with Durham, Hammonds(when healthy) and Marquis Grissom against lefties, Barry should have a lot more runners on ahead of him than if he followed the pitcher and only two good OBP guys while batting third. And with the clutch-hitting duo of Edgardo Alfonzo and AJ Pierzynski following Barry, the opponents might frequently regret walking Bonds, even if not because of the long ball. Grissom against righties and Feliz against lefties can provide tertiary protection from the seventh spot in the order.

The only way I see the Giants as being likely to reverse their annual decline in runs scored since 2000 would be if Feliz were to prove he could play shortstop on a daily basis and Perez were injured or so clearly ineffective that Pedro got the chance to play every day. But was Pedro's power surge last season a precursor of things to come, or will pitchers realize the futility of throwing unnecessary strikes to Feliz, especially if he bats low in the order? And will Pedro ever get on base enough to bat in front of Bonds, which would likely keep up his dosage of pitches in the strike zone?

The starting pitching might be close to last season's output if it can remain healthy, and Robb Nen's recent simulated game outing may bode well for a bullpen that has lost much of its depth with the departures of last season's closer and set-up man in Tim Worrell and Joe Nathan.

But the Giants are likely to both score fewer runs and give up more, as they did in 2003, and it is likely to result in something around a dozen fewer wins. The good news is that in the NL Worst that will likely be enough to win the division.
_Rog - Friday, March 19 2004 @ 10:18 AM EST (#70428) #
Great rundown of the Giants, but I wanted to quibble about two positions.

You believe the Giants will stay the same at first base and in left field, while I believe a decline is likely at each position.

JT Snow isn't likely to better (although possibly healthier), but we're actually comparing the platoon of JT and Pedro Feliz to last year's platoon of JT and primarily Andres Galarraga. Pedro may well equal Andres' power (He exceeded it last season.), but like Neifi Perez and probably Marquis Grissom this upcoming season, he makes too many outs. While JT had his best season of the past three last year, with an added year further lenghtening his tooth he may decline a bit, especially in his clutch hitting, which was very good last season. The primary positive I see for JT is that he is being installed in the two-hole in the order, from where he had a .413 OBP and a .420 SLG last season.

But on balance, I am expecting a bit of a decline at first base, based in great part on the difficulty of replacing the clutch hitting of Galarraga from the right side.

Left field will almost certainly be the Giants' best position, but if Barry Bonds falls back merely to his pre-2001 Hall of Fame level at the plate, the Giants just don't have much else to take over in their lineup. And while one can look to the difficulty of playing through his dad's ill health last season and point to his impressive second half, the fact remains that Barry's OPS fell off by about 100 points. Without his dad to coach his hitting and with the possible effects of the BALCO situtation, it seems likely that Barry will again decline at the plate. After all, he'll turn 40 in just over four months. And while Barry seemed to have his best season in the field in a few years, age is again unlikely to be his friend there. The possibility remains that Barry will play in even fewer games, as well. And while the Giants have more depth in their outfield this season (assuming Jeffrey Hammonds comes back healthy), most of their outfielders not wearing #25 are little above average.

Glad to see that Felipe Alou is returning Barry to the cleanup spot. If he bats Ray Durham, Snow and Michael Tucker ahead of Barry against righties and goes with Durham, Hammonds(when healthy) and Marquis Grissom against lefties, Barry should have a lot more runners on ahead of him than if he followed the pitcher and only two good OBP guys while batting third. And with the clutch-hitting duo of Edgardo Alfonzo and AJ Pierzynski following Barry, the opponents might frequently regret walking Bonds, even if not because of the long ball. Grissom against righties and Feliz against lefties can provide tertiary protection from the seventh spot in the order.

The only way I see the Giants as being likely to reverse their annual decline in runs scored since 2000 would be if Feliz were to prove he could play shortstop on a daily basis and Perez were injured or so clearly ineffective that Pedro got the chance to play every day. But was Pedro's power surge last season a precursor of things to come, or will pitchers realize the futility of throwing unnecessary strikes to Feliz, especially if he bats low in the order? And will Pedro ever get on base enough to bat in front of Bonds, which would likely keep up his dosage of pitches in the strike zone?

The starting pitching might be close to last season's output if it can remain healthy, and Robb Nen's recent simulated game outing may bode well for a bullpen that has lost much of its depth with the departures of last season's closer and set-up man in Tim Worrell and Joe Nathan.

But the Giants are likely to both score fewer runs and give up more, as they did in 2003, and it is likely to result in something around a dozen fewer wins. The good news is that in the NL Worst that will likely be enough to win the division.
_Rog - Friday, March 19 2004 @ 10:18 AM EST (#70429) #
Great rundown of the Giants, but I wanted to quibble about two positions.

You believe the Giants will stay the same at first base and in left field, while I believe a decline is likely at each position.

JT Snow isn't likely to better (although possibly healthier), but we're actually comparing the platoon of JT and Pedro Feliz to last year's platoon of JT and primarily Andres Galarraga. Pedro may well equal Andres' power (He exceeded it last season.), but like Neifi Perez and probably Marquis Grissom this upcoming season, he makes too many outs. While JT had his best season of the past three last year, with an added year further lenghtening his tooth he may decline a bit, especially in his clutch hitting, which was very good last season. The primary positive I see for JT is that he is being installed in the two-hole in the order, from where he had a .413 OBP and a .420 SLG last season.

But on balance, I am expecting a bit of a decline at first base, based in great part on the difficulty of replacing the clutch hitting of Galarraga from the right side.

Left field will almost certainly be the Giants' best position, but if Barry Bonds falls back merely to his pre-2001 Hall of Fame level at the plate, the Giants just don't have much else to take over in their lineup. And while one can look to the difficulty of playing through his dad's ill health last season and point to his impressive second half, the fact remains that Barry's OPS fell off by about 100 points. Without his dad to coach his hitting and with the possible effects of the BALCO situtation, it seems likely that Barry will again decline at the plate. After all, he'll turn 40 in just over four months. And while Barry seemed to have his best season in the field in a few years, age is again unlikely to be his friend there. The possibility remains that Barry will play in even fewer games, as well. And while the Giants have more depth in their outfield this season (assuming Jeffrey Hammonds comes back healthy), most of their outfielders not wearing #25 are little above average.

Glad to see that Felipe Alou is returning Barry to the cleanup spot. If he bats Ray Durham, Snow and Michael Tucker ahead of Barry against righties and goes with Durham, Hammonds(when healthy) and Marquis Grissom against lefties, Barry should have a lot more runners on ahead of him than if he followed the pitcher and only two good OBP guys while batting third. And with the clutch-hitting duo of Edgardo Alfonzo and AJ Pierzynski following Barry, the opponents might frequently regret walking Bonds, even if not because of the long ball. Grissom against righties and Feliz against lefties can provide tertiary protection from the seventh spot in the order.

The only way I see the Giants as being likely to reverse their annual decline in runs scored since 2000 would be if Feliz were to prove he could play shortstop on a daily basis and Perez were injured or so clearly ineffective that Pedro got the chance to play every day. But was Pedro's power surge last season a precursor of things to come, or will pitchers realize the futility of throwing unnecessary strikes to Feliz, especially if he bats low in the order? And will Pedro ever get on base enough to bat in front of Bonds, which would likely keep up his dosage of pitches in the strike zone?

The starting pitching might be close to last season's output if it can remain healthy, and Robb Nen's recent simulated game outing may bode well for a bullpen that has lost much of its depth with the departures of last season's closer and set-up man in Tim Worrell and Joe Nathan.

But the Giants are likely to both score fewer runs and g
_Rog - Friday, March 19 2004 @ 10:18 AM EST (#70430) #
Great rundown of the Giants, but I wanted to quibble about two positions.

You believe the Giants will stay the same at first base and in left field, while I believe a decline is likely at each position.

JT Snow isn't likely to better (although possibly healthier), but we're actually comparing the platoon of JT and Pedro Feliz to last year's platoon of JT and primarily Andres Galarraga. Pedro may well equal Andres' power (He exceeded it last season.), but like Neifi Perez and probably Marquis Grissom this upcoming season, he makes too many outs. While JT had his best season of the past three last year, with an added year further lenghtening his tooth he may decline a bit, especially in his clutch hitting, which was very good last season. The primary positive I see for JT is that he is being installed in the two-hole in the order, from where he had a .413 OBP and a .420 SLG last season.

But on balance, I am expecting a bit of a decline at first base, based in great part on the difficulty of replacing the clutch hitting of Galarraga from the right side.

Left field will almost certainly be the Giants' best position, but if Barry Bonds falls back merely to his pre-2001 Hall of Fame level at the plate, the Giants just don't have much else to take over in their lineup. And while one can look to the difficulty of playing through his dad's ill health last season and point to his impressive second half, the fact remains that Barry's OPS fell off by about 100 points. Without his dad to coach his hitting and with the possible effects of the BALCO situtation, it seems likely that Barry will again decline at the plate. After all, he'll turn 40 in just over four months. And while Barry seemed to have his best season in the field in a few years, age is again unlikely to be his friend there. The possibility remains that Barry will play in even fewer games, as well. And while the Giants have more depth in their outfield this season (assuming Jeffrey Hammonds comes back healthy), most of their outfielders not wearing #25 are little above average.

Glad to see that Felipe Alou is returning Barry to the cleanup spot. If he bats Ray Durham, Snow and Michael Tucker ahead of Barry against righties and goes with Durham, Hammonds(when healthy) and Marquis Grissom against lefties, Barry should have a lot more runners on ahead of him than if he followed the pitcher and only two good OBP guys while batting third. And with the clutch-hitting duo of Edgardo Alfonzo and AJ Pierzynski following Barry, the opponents might frequently regret walking Bonds, even if not because of the long ball. Grissom against righties and Feliz against lefties can provide tertiary protection from the seventh spot in the order.

The only way I see the Giants as being likely to reverse their annual decline in runs scored since 2000 would be if Feliz were to prove he could play shortstop on a daily basis and Perez were injured or so clearly ineffective that Pedro got the chance to play every day. But was Pedro's power surge last season a precursor of things to come, or will pitchers realize the futility of throwing unnecessary strikes to Feliz, especially if he bats low in the order? And will Pedro ever get on base enough to bat in front of Bonds, which would likely keep up his dosage of pitches in the strike zone?

The starting pitching might be close to last season's output if it can remain healthy, and Robb Nen's recent simulated game outing may bode well for a bullpen that has lost much of its depth with the departures of last season's closer and set-up man in Tim Worrell and Joe Nathan.

But the Giants are likely to both score fewer runs and give up more, as they did in 2003, and it is likely to result in something around a dozen fewer wins. The good news is that in the NL Worst that will likely be enough to win the division.
_Rog - Friday, March 19 2004 @ 10:19 AM EST (#70431) #
Great rundown of the Giants, but I wanted to quibble about two positions.

You believe the Giants will stay the same at first base and in left field, while I believe a decline is likely at each position.

JT Snow isn't likely to better (although possibly healthier), but we're actually comparing the platoon of JT and Pedro Feliz to last year's platoon of JT and primarily Andres Galarraga. Pedro may well equal Andres' power (He exceeded it last season.), but like Neifi Perez and probably Marquis Grissom this upcoming season, he makes too many outs. While JT had his best season of the past three last year, with an added year further lenghtening his tooth he may decline a bit, especially in his clutch hitting, which was very good last season. The primary positive I see for JT is that he is being installed in the two-hole in the order, from where he had a .413 OBP and a .420 SLG last season.

But on balance, I am expecting a bit of a decline at first base, based in great part on the difficulty of replacing the clutch hitting of Galarraga from the right side.

Left field will almost certainly be the Giants' best position, but if Barry Bonds falls back merely to his pre-2001 Hall of Fame level at the plate, the Giants just don't have much else to take over in their lineup. And while one can look to the difficulty of playing through his dad's ill health last season and point to his impressive second half, the fact remains that Barry's OPS fell off by about 100 points. Without his dad to coach his hitting and with the possible effects of the BALCO situtation, it seems likely that Barry will again decline at the plate. After all, he'll turn 40 in just over four months. And while Barry seemed to have his best season in the field in a few years, age is again unlikely to be his friend there. The possibility remains that Barry will play in even fewer games, as well. And while the Giants have more depth in their outfield this season (assuming Jeffrey Hammonds comes back healthy), most of their outfielders not wearing #25 are little above average.

Glad to see that Felipe Alou is returning Barry to the cleanup spot. If he bats Ray Durham, Snow and Michael Tucker ahead of Barry against righties and goes with Durham, Hammonds(when healthy) and Marquis Grissom against lefties, Barry should have a lot more runners on ahead of him than if he followed the pitcher and only two good OBP guys while batting third. And with the clutch-hitting duo of Edgardo Alfonzo and AJ Pierzynski following Barry, the opponents might frequently regret walking Bonds, even if not because of the long ball. Grissom against righties and Feliz against lefties can provide tertiary protection from the seventh spot in the order.

The only way I see the Giants as being likely to reverse their annual decline in runs scored since 2000 would be if Feliz were to prove he could play shortstop on a daily basis and Perez were injured or so clearly ineffective that Pedro got the chance to play every day. But was Pedro's power surge last season a precursor of things to come, or will pitchers realize the futility of throwing unnecessary strikes to Feliz, especially if he bats low in the order? And will Pedro ever get on base enough to bat in front of Bonds, which would likely keep up his dosage of pitches in the strike zone?

The starting pitching might be close to last season's output if it can remain healthy, and Robb Nen's recent simulated game outing may bode well for a bullpen that has lost much of its depth with the departures of last season's closer and set-up man in Tim Worrell and Joe Nathan.

But the Giants are likely to both score fewer runs and give up more, as they did in 2003, and it is likely to result in something around a dozen fewer wins. The good news is that in the NL Worst that will likely be enough to win the division.
_Rog - Friday, March 19 2004 @ 10:19 AM EST (#70432) #
Great rundown of the Giants, but I wanted to quibble about two positions.

You believe the Giants will stay the same at first base and in left field, while I believe a decline is likely at each position.

JT Snow isn't likely to better (although possibly healthier), but we're actually comparing the platoon of JT and Pedro Feliz to last year's platoon of JT and primarily Andres Galarraga. Pedro may well equal Andres' power (He exceeded it last season.), but like Neifi Perez and probably Marquis Grissom this upcoming season, he makes too many outs. While JT had his best season of the past three last year, with an added year further lenghtening his tooth he may decline a bit, especially in his clutch hitting, which was very good last season. The primary positive I see for JT is that he is being installed in the two-hole in the order, from where he had a .413 OBP and a .420 SLG last season.

But on balance, I am expecting a bit of a decline at first base, based in great part on the difficulty of replacing the clutch hitting of Galarraga from the right side.

Left field will almost certainly be the Giants' best position, but if Barry Bonds falls back merely to his pre-2001 Hall of Fame level at the plate, the Giants just don't have much else to take over in their lineup. And while one can look to the difficulty of playing through his dad's ill health last season and point to his impressive second half, the fact remains that Barry's OPS fell off by about 100 points. Without his dad to coach his hitting and with the possible effects of the BALCO situtation, it seems likely that Barry will again decline at the plate. After all, he'll turn 40 in just over four months. And while Barry seemed to have his best season in the field in a few years, age is again unlikely to be his friend there. The possibility remains that Barry will play in even fewer games, as well. And while the Giants have more depth in their outfield this season (assuming Jeffrey Hammonds comes back healthy), most of their outfielders not wearing #25 are little above average.

Glad to see that Felipe Alou is returning Barry to the cleanup spot. If he bats Ray Durham, Snow and Michael Tucker ahead of Barry against righties and goes with Durham, Hammonds(when healthy) and Marquis Grissom against lefties, Barry should have a lot more runners on ahead of him than if he followed the pitcher and only two good OBP guys while batting third. And with the clutch-hitting duo of Edgardo Alfonzo and AJ Pierzynski following Barry, the opponents might frequently regret walking Bonds, even if not because of the long ball. Grissom against righties and Feliz against lefties can provide tertiary protection from the seventh spot in the order.

The only way I see the Giants as being likely to reverse their annual decline in runs scored since 2000 would be if Feliz were to prove he could play shortstop on a daily basis and Perez were injured or so clearly ineffective that Pedro got the chance to play every day. But was Pedro's power surge last season a precursor of things to come, or will pitchers realize the futility of throwing unnecessary strikes to Feliz, especially if he bats low in the order? And will Pedro ever get on base enough to bat in front of Bonds, which would likely keep up his dosage of pitches in the strike zone?

The starting pitching might be close to last season's output if it can remain healthy, and Robb Nen's recent simulated game outing may bode well for a bullpen that has lost much of its depth with the departures of last season's closer and set-up man in Tim Worrell and Joe Nathan.

But the Giants are likely to both score fewer runs and give up more, as they did in 2003, and it is likely to result in something around a dozen fewer wins. The good news is that in the NL Worst that will likely be enough to win the division.
_Rog - Friday, March 19 2004 @ 10:20 AM EST (#70433) #
Great rundown of the Giants, but I wanted to quibble about two positions.

You believe the Giants will stay the same at first base and in left field, while I believe a decline is likely at each position.

JT Snow isn't likely to better (although possibly healthier), but we're actually comparing the platoon of JT and Pedro Feliz to last year's platoon of JT and primarily Andres Galarraga. Pedro may well equal Andres' power (He exceeded it last season.), but like Neifi Perez and probably Marquis Grissom this upcoming season, he makes too many outs. While JT had his best season of the past three last year, with an added year further lenghtening his tooth he may decline a bit, especially in his clutch hitting, which was very good last season. The primary positive I see for JT is that he is being installed in the two-hole in the order, from where he had a .413 OBP and a .420 SLG last season.

But on balance, I am expecting a bit of a decline at first base, based in great part on the difficulty of replacing the clutch hitting of Galarraga from the right side.

Left field will almost certainly be the Giants' best position, but if Barry Bonds falls back merely to his pre-2001 Hall of Fame level at the plate, the Giants just don't have much else to take over in their lineup. And while one can look to the difficulty of playing through his dad's ill health last season and point to his impressive second half, the fact remains that Barry's OPS fell off by about 100 points. Without his dad to coach his hitting and with the possible effects of the BALCO situtation, it seems likely that Barry will again decline at the plate. After all, he'll turn 40 in just over four months. And while Barry seemed to have his best season in the field in a few years, age is again unlikely to be his friend there. The possibility remains that Barry will play in even fewer games, as well. And while the Giants have more depth in their outfield this season (assuming Jeffrey Hammonds comes back healthy), most of their outfielders not wearing #25 are little above average.

Glad to see that Felipe Alou is returning Barry to the cleanup spot. If he bats Ray Durham, Snow and Michael Tucker ahead of Barry against righties and goes with Durham, Hammonds(when healthy) and Marquis Grissom against lefties, Barry should have a lot more runners on ahead of him than if he followed the pitcher and only two good OBP guys while batting third. And with the clutch-hitting duo of Edgardo Alfonzo and AJ Pierzynski following Barry, the opponents might frequently regret walking Bonds, even if not because of the long ball. Grissom against righties and Feliz against lefties can provide tertiary protection from the seventh spot in the order.

The only way I see the Giants as being likely to reverse their annual decline in runs scored since 2000 would be if Feliz were to prove he could play shortstop on a daily basis and Perez were injured or so clearly ineffective that Pedro got the chance to play every day. But was Pedro's power surge last season a precursor of things to come, or will pitchers realize the futility of throwing unnecessary strikes to Feliz, especially if he bats low in the order? And will Pedro ever get on base enough to bat in front of Bonds, which would likely keep up his dosage of pitches in the strike zone?

The starting pitching might be close to last season's output if it can remain healthy, and Robb Nen's recent simulated game outing may bode well for a bullpen that has lost much of its depth with the departures of last season's closer and set-up man in Tim Worrell and Joe Nathan.

But the Giants are likely to both score fewer runs and give up more, as they did in 2003, and it is likely to result in something around a dozen fewer wins. The good news is that in the NL Worst that will likely be enough to win the division.
_benum - Friday, March 19 2004 @ 01:58 PM EST (#70434) #
Sorry Rog, I don't get it. Can you repeat your position?
_Rog - Saturday, March 20 2004 @ 12:11 AM EST (#70435) #
Sorry about that. 0perator error. And being lefthanded, my position has been mostly outfield and first base, with a little pitching and even catching along the way.

Now if I'm lucky, this will post only once, instead of an infinite number of times.
_Rog - Saturday, March 20 2004 @ 12:11 AM EST (#70436) #
Sorry about that. 0perator error. And being lefthanded, my position has been mostly outfield and first base, with a little pitching and even catching along the way.

Now if I'm lucky, this will post only once, instead of an infinite number of times.
_Rog - Saturday, March 20 2004 @ 01:52 AM EST (#70437) #
OK. I've got it down now. Only once for this post! :)
Pistol - Saturday, March 20 2004 @ 11:46 AM EST (#70438) #
I agree with batting Bonds 4th.

If the first 3 batters go down in order in the first inning you have a high OBP hitter leading off the second.

If Bonds comes to the plate in the 1st inning it means someone is on base.
_Rog - Monday, March 22 2004 @ 03:24 AM EST (#70439) #
You're all over it, Pistol. Very nicely thought out and succinctly stated.

And you managed to do it without posting a million times. :)
_Matt - Saturday, April 24 2004 @ 08:45 PM EDT (#70440) #
http://www.greatseats.com/sports/baseball/san_francisco_giants/
I agree with bonds at 4th, and i know its early in the year,
but i think Bonds may have his best season ever this year at 40 years old ...
_Matt - Saturday, April 24 2004 @ 08:45 PM EDT (#70441) #
http://www.greatseats.com/sports/baseball/san_francisco_giants/
I agree with bonds at 4th, and i know its early in the year,
but i think Bonds may have his best season ever this year at 40 years old ...
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