Waiting for Boof
Blog devoted to the San Francisco Giants
     Monday, January 26, 2004
 

Is It March Yet?, Part XVIII



1) Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Hoooooooo.

Oh, man.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahheeeheheheheheheheheeheh. Hee hee.

Hooo. Stop, you're killing me.

Now pitching for the Rockies: Number 55...Shawn Estes!

If you are a major league pitcher who has been abysmal over the past two seasons, and is trying to get his career back on track, there can't be a good reason to want to play in the worst pitcher's park of the past 70 years. The only thing keeping him in the majors, other than his being left-handed, is an intermittently brilliant curveball. The curveball, of course, is the one pitch most affected by the thin Denver air.

"Just because she's my ex-girlfriend, doesn't mean she isn't going to be a great agent. Sure, I broke up with her in public, and in front of all of her friends and family. And, yeah, I had sex with three of her sisters, and maybe I made out with her mother at her birthday party, but I'm sure she only has the best of intentions for my career. I can't think of a better choice for my agent."

In other ex-Giant news, Marvin Benard, official sponsored player of this site, signed a minor-league deal with the Chicago White Sox. Benard was a good fifth outfielder at his peak, but was paid a lot of money to be a bad starting centerfielder. Colletti's Folly was financially beneficial for him, but he might have had a longer career as a Lenny Harris-type. He was certainly miscast with the Giants, and didn't deserve the abject loathing he received. Here's hoping he makes the Sox roster, and does well in limited time.


2) Here are the players likely to be on the 25-man roster:
Starters (8)

Durham
Snow
Alfonzo
Bonds
Grissom
Pierzynski
Tucker
Neifi

Bench (5)
Mohr
Hammonds
Yorvit
Feliz
Ransom


Pitchers (11)

Schmidt
Rueter
Williams
Hermanson
Tomko

Nen
FRod
Herges
Brower
Christiansen
Eyre

There isn't much to fiddle with. There is an extra bullpen spot up for grabs, unless the team decides to carry another position player. With Alou at the helm, that probably isn't going to happen, and the battle for the last spot will be between Kevin Correia and Chad Zerbe.

If Correia and Zerbe both have awful springs, or if one of Nen/Schmidt is isn't ready by opening day, the pool of possibilities might look like:

Brian Dallimore (2B/INF/UT)
Todd Linden (RF)
Carlos Valderrama (OF)
Jason Ellison (OF)
Lance Niekro (1B/3B/Relative)
Nathan Haynes (OF)
Tony Torcato (OF)

Ryan Jensen (RHP)
Noah Lowry (LHP)
Chad Zerbe (LHP)
Merkin Valdez (RHP/Embarrassing Fashion Accessory)
David Aardsma (RHP)
Adam Pettyjohn (LHP)

Valdez and Aardsma are nothing but the longest of the long shots. Both would have to put on an extraordinary display in spring training to even be considered for a spot. Zerbe is the most realistic of the above, and might have the edge on Correia. Zerbe's odd delivery seems to work against righties as well as lefties, and he's been a reasonably effective long man before. There is rarely a good reason to carry 12 pitchers, but the best reason might be having Felipe Alou as a manager. The man loves his mid-inning switches. I'm pulling for Dallimore, who might be little more than a poor man's Craig Counsell, but has at least earned a shot as a utility man.


3) If you are in the market for Waiting for Boof First Anniversary gifts to give to your loved ones, there is always eBay. Here is a Johnnie LeMaster autographed 8 x 10, which comes with a crucial certificate of authenticity. We've all seen the "60 Minutes" exposés about Laotian sweatshops, where thousands of 6-year olds are forced to churn out LeMaster forgery after LeMaster forgery. The only way to stop the madness is to only buy authentic LeMaster memorabilia. There are some good internet sites, like lemastorium.com, and lemasterofthehouse.com, where you can be sure what you are buying is authentic. How long could I go on with this? Probably another two paragraphs before I tired of amusing myself.

This is a poster of Candy Maldonado and Smokey the Bear, which would look nice in any study. I'll bet the guy in the bear costume was still freezing cold. The point remains clear, though; only you can prevent forest fires. If by "you", they mean "Giants rightfielders", and by "forest fires", they mean "pennant-costing defensive miscues", there is hardly room for argument.

If, like many other Giants fans, you have often fantasized about waving baserunners home with impunity, this game-worn Sonny Jackson jersey is for you. Perfect for the air traffic ground controller with a sense of irony in your family.

Capitalism rocks.


4) Like sands through the hourglass, so are the formats of this site. To mark the one-year anniversary of Waiting for Boof, I've monkeyed with the look. I was able to include a host of new links, and get rid of Beat You Over the Head Orange as the dominant color of the site. Tell me what you think.

posted by G at 12:28 AM





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     Tuesday, January 20, 2004
 

Sabean To Lunatic Fringe: 'YAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!'



The Giants offseason isn't over, but doesn't look like it will be the type of offseason which will leave fans lying on their backs in a grassy meadow, daisies twixt their toes, humming Bread songs and contemplating who their playoff opponents will be. The last few posts of Waiting for Boof could possibly be mistaken for a hodge podge of pseudo-optimistic sentiments. Sure, Brett Tomko wasn't the worst pitcher out there. Eh, Dustan Mohr might have an upside. Hell, I even tried to use smoke, mirrors, and carafes of absinthe to make Neifi Perez seem close to an average shortstop. However, just because the Giants look to be contenders this year, doesn't mean I can rate the offseason roster shuffling as anything other than ugly.

The holes to be filled were: catcher, shortstop, first base, rightfield, and starting pitcher. The catching hole was filled with a good player, which was an encouraging start. The first base hole was filled in a second verse, same as the first, kind of way, though the song wasn't all that good to begin with. Rightfield is an experiment in quantity vs. quality, though the results aren't hard to guess. The shortstop hole went from what the team described as "a work in progress", to, "uh, sure, we're, uh, convinced we'll be fine at shortstop because of the, uh, better defense we'll get. We just didn't think about defense, 'cause, you know, we forgot. Hey, is that Bigfoot behind you?", as they slip out the back door. Dustin Hermanson and Brett Tomko might qualify as Band-Aids for the rotation, depending on your generosity, but they're a lot closer to that creepy older relative who tells you to just suck on the wound.

The team raised ticket prices this offseason, cutting payroll at the same time. Always a popular move. The brain trust laughed off possibilities of expensive free agents, instead force feeding the fans spoonfuls of I Can't Believe It's Not Gary Sheffield!, with Dustan Mohr, Michael Tucker and Jeffrey Hammonds representing that which can barely pass for a reasonable replacement of Jose Cruz. I started the offseason hoping for one impact free agent, and I got something which could almost be described as an impact trade with a whole lot of talent going to the other team. A.J. Pierzynski is one of the ten best catchers in baseball. Thus ends the good news.

If the Giants have three million bodies shuffle into their little park, leaking money the whole time, there isn't a reason to overspend for a title. At least, if you're looking at it from the perspective of a cold, soulless businessman. The team is putting up a profit, the team is competitive, what's the big deal? Maybe it's a wise move to put money aside for the days when the team isn't drawing as well, when the novelty of the new park has completely worn off. When Desi Wilsons of days yet to be take the field, and the 49ers have recaptured the heart of the fair-weather fan, that's the time to strike the free agent iron. A Vladimir Guerrero-type signing would galvanize the area, making the team seem interesting again, where it would currently be little more than a cherry on top of the Pac Bell/Barry Bonds money-making machine.

Fair enough, but ownership is insulting the current fan base. Can't afford more than $75 million, my ass. The team draws over three million fans, and the current television deal just expanded to televise almost every game. The naming rights for the ballpark will pay almost half of the debt service on the park for the next decade. The value of the franchise has to be going through the roof. This is as good as the flow of money will get. If the team is only able to hover around the middle of the league, financially speaking, it isn't going to be pretty later on. If the team is actually telling the truth, and they are losing money? Hoo boy, just wait until the new park is the old park, and they aren't employing the best player in the universe.

If the intent is to wait for a franchise player who would be a better fit, then they could at least insinuate as much. I can optimistically speculate the Giants would rather pay for a centerfielder like Carlos Beltran than a rightfielder with a suspect back, but would it really kill the team's bargaining position to drop the same hint to the loyalists out there? The doom and gloom of the offseason might have been replaced with a tentative calm. Sure, they'll tread water this year against a weak division, but look out for next year, the popular sentiment would go. It would certainly look better, and might be better for business if the 2004 Giants fall on their face. If this current incarnation of the Giants goes down in flames, there will be a lot of angry, angry people.

I don't think the 2004 Giants will fail miserably, and that's why I haven't been generous with the criticism. The Diamondbacks and Dodgers took steps backward in this offseason, making the Padres the team to fear most. The Padres are far from a sure thing, but the Giants are counting on a 40-year old hitter to continue to defy the aging process, and a pitcher who might not be fully healthy at the start of the season. Still, this looks to be another contending Giants team; the eighth in a row. It's been a good ride, and a lot of other teams would do anything just to contend for a single season, which is easy to forget. Just try and remember that as Michael Tucker flies out to medium-deep right centerfield for the 70th time before the all-star break, sunshine. I'm sure it'll be the very first thing that pops in my head.

posted by G at 8:23 PM





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     Tuesday, January 13, 2004
 

Truly A Wonder Of Nature, This Awesome Prowling Machine



1) Brett Tomko's best feature is that he isn't Darren Oliver, which automatically provides Tomko with several Get Benefit of Doubt Free cards. If the Giants were focused on acquiring a fabled innings-eater this late in the offseason, they could have done worse. The front office had understandably horrific visions of Kirk Rueter, Jerome Williams, and a recovering Jason Schmidt averaging five innings per start for the first two months of the season. As plumes of smoke rose from various parts of Jim Brower, the Giants might have had to overpay in a mid-season trade for someone comparable to Tomko.

On the Mohr-Tucker scale of acquisition excitement -- ranging from 1 to 10, with 1 being "not exciting", and 10 being "still not exciting" -- Brett Tomko is somewhere in the middle. He's been a slightly below-average pitcher over his career, with the exception of 2003, when he was awful. He was truly a special kind of awful last year, mostly due to the rate at which he allowed hits. A list of the average amount of hits Tomko gave up over nine innings of work, for the seasons where he pitched over 50 innings:

Hits per nine innings

1997 - 7.57
1998 - 8.46
1999 - 9.16
2000 - 8.97
2001 - (34 innings)
2002 - 9.34
2003 - 11.19



The numbers for 2003 are an obvious hiccup. If Tomko can allow hits at a rate similar to his career averages, he should be close to an average starting pitcher. The spacious dimensions of Pac Bell might even make him look like an above-average pitcher. Unfortunately, there is also the little matter of his penchant for giving up homeruns. Over his career:

Homeruns per nine innings

1997 - A lot
1998 - Quite a few
1999 - A lot
2000 - Ho, crap
2001 - A lot
2002 - A lot
2003 - Very few. No, wait, a lot.


If Tomko allows the same number of hits and homeruns as 2003, he'll be as popular among Giants fans as a flatulent Mike Piazza in an elevator. If he pitches 200 innings of near-average baseball, which seems a bit more in line with his career, he's a bargain. Which will it be? My, this is a cliffhanger worthy of sweeps week. Wake me when it's over.

Of the players still left in the free agent bargain-bin, Tomko was the best of the bunch who could realistically be tabbed as a solid bet to pitch 200 innings. The other options were Shawn Estes, Darren Oliver, Glendon Rusch and Todd Ritchie; all possum-flavored Jelly Bellys in the metaphorical handful comprising a major league rotation. If the Giants wanted to gamble on a player with a checkered injury history, Orlando Hernandez, Pedro Astacio, and Rick Reed would have been preferable, but that course of action would have been a definite gamble. If they wanted a pitcher with a history of good health, Tomko was the only logical, non-Maddux choice.



2) Vladimir Guerrero wasn't the birthright of the Giants fan. He would have been nice, no doubt, but he wasn't the only player worthy of a post-Bonds franchise tag. If the front office had legitimate reasons to doubt his health, and not fictitious reasons invented for a public relations smoke screen, they were very wise to wait until next offseason. With Nomar Garciaparra, Richie Sexson, Derrek Lee, Carlos Delgado, Troy Glaus, Magglio Ordonez, Eric Chavez, Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran, and Jose Vidro free agents after this season, there is no reason to give out long-term, high-priced deals to a player whose health you are unsure of. With the majority of the NL West treading water, it could turn out to be a smart play to wait a season for the perfect fit.

The Giants have a guaranteed payroll of less than $60 million committed to the 2005 season. Let the whining to sign Lance Berkman begin.......now.



3) Fallout over last week's post suggesting Neifi Perez might not be that bad:

a. No, I'm not drinking Robitussin as if it were lemonade on a summer day.
b. Hey, Baseball Prospectus - in their collective abacus-toting wisdom - agree with me!

I plan on subscribing to Prospectus' premium content this year, but have not done so yet. I was fortunate enough to receive an email from a reader who relayed some of BP's numbers regarding Rich Aurilia and Neifi. Their systems compare players to the average at their position, for both offense and defense. Aurilia saved about three less runs than the average shortstop in the field, but created about three runs over the average shortstop with his bat. Neifi saved about 13(!) runs over the average shortstop in the field, while losing 13 runs with his feeble hacking. End result: the two are, at least according to Baseball Prospectus, close to average shortstops.

I'm not savvy enough to understand exactly how Prospectus arrive at their numbers, so it wouldn't be honest to give the stats my full endorsement. However, the difference between Neifi's on-base percentage and Aurilia's on-base percentage, prorated out for a full season, is about 30 outs. It seems perfectly reasonable that Neifi converts 30 more groundballs into outs than Aurilia would over 150 games, closing the gap between the two. It isn't just that Neifi is a good defensive shortstop, it's that he's the Albert Pujols of shortstop defense by most defensive metrics.

After all but exclaiming Neifi was the second gunman on the grassy knoll, I don't expect a Pied Piper-like horde to follow this line of thinking. I'm not even convinced myself. It's just interesting to think about, and I'm all about optimism for the offseason. Pessimism is for August.

posted by G at 12:15 AM





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     Tuesday, January 06, 2004
 

Starting In Rightfield: Tuckammondohr, Mayan God of the Unimpressive



1) If it was Brian Sabean's goal to run through the thick forest brush of free agency, picking up fourth outfielders as if they were ticks, this offseason has been an unqualified success. Dustan Mohr is a decent enough player, and the minor leaguer the Giants gave up to get him isn't likely to be missed. Still, the deal was a reminder that, at least for this particular offseason, Raul Mondesi would have been a cup of liquid excitement.

My new personal nickname for Michael Tucker: Lyme Disease.

2) There are still free agents out there, just no one who is a hybrid of both realistic and good. Vlad is good, but not realistic. Eric Owens is realistic, but not especially good. If Greg Maddux would back off his demands of a four-year contract, $10M per year, and a coat made from the mane of six unicorns, he would be a welcome addition, though still only slightly more realistic than Vlad.

The highly anticipated non-tender deadline came and went, though it turned out to be unworthy of even mild anticipation. Jason Johnson was the only moderately intriguing starter, and he signed for about $5M more than he should have had a right to expect. The availability of Damian Moss sends my spine running for a sweater. If the Giants are able to package Yorvit Torrealba for a real player, Ben Petrick would be a great player to have backing up A.J. Pierzynski. If the team is convinced they need one more bullpen arm, Cliff Politte would be a decent risk to take. It would have been a bold move to sign Danys Baez as a starter -- or at least put one Dany in the bullpen, and the other Dany in Fresno -- but free spending Tampa Bay beat everyone to the punch.

There is nothing more than a pride of minor upgrades out there, so, with any luck, this is the team that will enter spring training. I write "with any luck", because the Giants are still linked to one of the worst pitchers of the past several years, Darren Oliver. Standing pat is a better plan of action at this point than committing too much to a sub-mediocrity.


3)Brian Sabean wakes up, rubbing his head and in obvious pain. He somehow makes it to a sitting position, kicking an empty Monarch Gin bottle as he searches for a bottle of aspirin.

SABEAN (VO)
What happened to me last night? I don't remember a thing.

A natural order begins to reveal itself : Brush teeth, shower, lie the hell back down. As he starts to the bathroom, he hears running water. Before he can process what it means, he hears the singing. Sabean focuses on a pair of jeans draped over a chair. Those aren't his pants. He rushes to the chair and quickly fumbles for a wallet, hoping to find out who is tunelessly deconstructing an Al Green song in his shower.

The wallet is filled with an obscene amount of cash, and the license reads: "Neifi F. Perez".

SABEAN (VO)
Oh, god. No. No. Please be for only one year. Please be for only one year. Please....


From the upcoming Miramax feature, "Winter Meetings"


As the sun sets on the Rich Aurilia Era, an unholy moon dares to cast light on the Neifi Perez Era. A full season of Neifi is going to be ugly, at least at the plate, but I'm starting to gain some respect for his defense.

Rich Aurilia is an average defender and an average hitter, which is a nice combination to have in a shortstop. There isn't anyone out there who would prefer him in the field over Neifi, though. Just to pluck a number from thin air, let's say Neifi gets to 30 batted balls that Aurilia would not have reached over a 162-game season. That's roughly one every five games. It seems like a fair estimate, but I'm no defensive expert. If we magically transform those putouts from the defensive side into singles on the offensive side, prorating Neifi out to 600 plate appearances, his 2003 stats would be a less dismal .310/.328/.378. Not too far off from the .277/.325/.410 Aurilia put up last year.

I'm sure there are a ton of theoretical problems with what I just did. Bill James, I'm not. It is all to express a basic point that saving a number of hits over an average defender has substantial value. If Neifi hit .310/.328/.378, while playing defense only as well as Aurilia, there would be a lot less hand wringing taking place.

Yes, I'm grasping at straws. I'm sure my math skills and statistical acumen are both remiss here. Tell me exactly where through the magic of email.

Win Shares, however, seems to agree with the basic point. Neifi logged almost 400 less innings in the field than Aurilia, but had more Defensive Win Shares. To be honest, I wouldn't know a Defensive Win Share if it goosed me in a crowded movie theater, but Neifi's defensive dominance over Aurilia seems very real, even to the layman. Neifi actually led the whole team in Defensive Win Shares, even though he was only a part-time player. I just wish I knew what the hell that really meant.


4) If Aurilia does end up signing with Seattle, it would be good news. There would be nothing worse than to watch him waste away in Detroit, without a chance to be a part of the next good Tiger team. At least Seattle has a pulse.


5) With no news in the world of the orange and black, I'll dig through the archives to comment on the "Official Program & Scorecard" of the 1983 Giants.

The inside cover had an ad for bottled sangria which looked like it, if you were lucky, would only make you sterile. It was apparently sold at Candlestick Park during actual games. "I'll take, 'Things I Wouldn't Even Bother Pouring On An Obnoxious Dodger Fan', Alex.'

There is also an ad featuring the other National League teams, with a mug shot of the featured player from each team. The jist was, "Come see Team X, and one of their stars, Player Y!", with accompanying dates. Some of the player and team combinations were obvious (Mike Schmidt and the Phillies, Pedro Guerrero and the Dodgers), some were less obvious (Jose Cruz and the Astros, Al Oliver and the Expos), and some were just bizarre (Jerry Royster and the Braves, Dane Iorg and the Cardinals).

The 40-man roster was profiled, with an impressive amount of young talent making up a substantial portion of the roster. Atlee Hammaker, Rob Deer, Scott Garrelts, Chili Davis, and Dan Gladden were all under two years of service time. They would all enjoy periods of success, though only Davis enjoyed an extended career. Deer, Davis, and Gladden would still be the best outfield produced by the Giants system in the past twenty years.

Everyone had a moustache. From the front office types to the managers, everyone looked like Jeff Kent. There was no way of knowing if they were going to pull you over for speeding, or be paid to turn on a camera during sex.

Two of the National League managers in 1983 are still managing today. I'll leave you to guess who they are.

In 1983, there was someone who had a strong opinion about the trade which sent Al Hargesheimer to the Cubs for Herman Segelke, but no way of expressing it. I would have loved to have read what Waiting for Garrelts, Westwood New Wave, or The New Giant Moon Man would have had to say.

posted by G at 2:15 AM





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