Winter Bitch-Fest

by Gregg Pearlman

Monday, November 18, 1996

Thank goodness I have a sister, Deb (in this case), who'll help put things in perspective: "Don't forget," she said, "what the Lord giveth, Horace Stoneham tradeth away. Nothing new here." She went on to discuss the rumor that the Giants are going to trade further with the Indians to get either a first baseman or a pitcher, but she doesn't believe that. I, on the other hand, don't doubt it, but I do doubt our ability to acquire good first basemen or pitchers. I wonder if further transactions would happen before or after we finish the Williams deal by swapping players to be hated later.

Received a very kind e-mail from Tjames, who'd been gallivanting elsewhere lately, offering his compliments as regards EEEEEE!, complaining only about the wallpaper -- namely, the incessant little Giants logos, which makes sense since Tjames is a Dodgers fan.

Now, I'm in the process of writing another article -- haven't yet decided whether or not it belongs in EEEEEE!, but EEEEEE! is probably the only place in the world that would reprint it in its 7,500-word entirety -- about fandom and why our sports teams matter so much. I mention this only because of Tjames' note and that he seems to be a "nice, rational, intelligent person, a passionate baseball fan who knows his sport very well. He's a Dodgers fan, though, and it requires some effort on my part not to reject his opinions out of hand."

Which is part of what the fandom article is about: this nationalistic, almost "racial" bitterness against one's team's main rival, and how this bitterness can color one's opinion about someone else solely on the basis of what teams he or she roots for. It's something I try not to let happen, but it's a tough habit to break. Tjames, though, has never been any less than gracious as regards the Giants-Dodgers thing, and so I also choose to take the high road, 'cause maybe I might learn something. I suspect this indicates a quantum leap in my personal growth, or something.

Tjames said, "I like the way you use posts from the newsgroups and work them in almost conversationally, with your (also-posted) responses -- it almost seems like you're recounting a conversation where everyone is sitting around in your living room, griping about the Giants." (Well, if you're gonna talk about the Giants, chances are you're gonna gripe.)

Some of those I've quoted in various articles are EEEEEE! readers, I'm pleased to say, and EEEEEE!, as the home page says, is by and for annoyed Giants fans. This is not meant to exclude Tjames, but rather to include the readers, because part of what we're doing is giving fans a bit of a voice. I definitely don't want EEEEEE! to just be me spouting off about things. I want others to spout off, too.

"It occurs to me that this is an extremely effective approach," Tjames continued. "You've captured one of the greatest things about baseball, that 'small-talk' feeling where everyone is (or should be) as much or more of an expert than Peter Gammons."

I blush. Then again, you should see the consensus about Gammons on the newsgroups. Not a pretty sight.

About the Matt Williams piece, "The You-Know What Hits the Fans", Tom, whom I've mentioned here and there, very kindly states: "You were quite eloquent, which only makes it sadder and me madder." (I promise this is not a press release in which I'm taking great pains to reproduce nice things people say to me.) "(Jonathan) made quite a gallant effort to put positive spin, and the thinness of it was heartbreaking." Actually, I like the way Jonathan thinks. It was kind of a "I'm gonna put a positive spin on it -- but I can only lie up to a point; then I'm gonna tell it like it is."

Brian Sabean's statement that "people aren't giving us credit for the value we got" ticked Tom off and, reasonably, made him feel talked down to. Seems to me that Sabean's been awfully defensive. I didn't hear this part, but evidently he told Ralph Barbieri that he "resented" Kent and Vizcaino being referred to as backups, or nobodies, or whatever Ralph had said. So suddenly the perceived value of the Williams trade hinges on whether or not Sabean likes what's being said about him or his handiwork.

Sabean had said, "No matter how good Williams is on any given day, he can't set up a closer, play shortstop and second base simultaneously."

"Now you're really insulting our intelligence," said Tom. "I suppose next you'll trade Bonds for the entire roster of the Visalia Oaks! I mean, they can play all nine positions simultaneously! Besides, the idea is to do those things better than the opposition." Alas, the Giants have forgotten how.

(When I corresponded via cassette tape with David Beck back in 1979, I did this silly little joke about the Angels turning down a deal in which they'd acquire the entire American League for Rod Carew: "We don't see why we should trade a .300 hitter for a league whose aggregate average is in the .250s or .260s.")

"That arrogant ass really thinks we're stupid!" offered Tom. Well, evidently it's a prime assumption. Both Bob Quinn and Al Rosen did that kind of thing, though: figuring that they could say any damn fool thing and have the public lap it up. To this day, one of my favorites is when Rosen said he had no interest in Joe Carter because, sure, he may drive in a hundred runs, but he's a .240 hitter, for crying out loud. These guys think we're stupid because we keep going to the damn ballpark and buying their caps.

I told Tom that I'm rooting for Matty to hit 45 homers in Jacobs Field -- and another 20 on the road. "And," said Tom, "I want an interview with Sabean-brain after every one: 'Tell us what a great deal it is NOW, Brian!'"

I envisioned Sabean's answer as follows: "Um, erp, uh, ehh...."

A few days ago, Mark Gonzales of the San Jose Mercury quoted Sabean as follows: "We had one outfielder (Bonds) carrying the outfield and one infielder (Williams) carrying the infield." Well, now I understand the trade. Baseball by-laws prohibit the Giants from having one player to carry the outfield and another to carry the infield. Hope that clears it up for everybody.

Mercury columnist Ann Killion wrote what I thought was a terrific piece about the deal in which she said, "It's the substance behind the false front that you have to wonder about." (She said, basically, that however lovely the new ballpark will be, it still won't detract from the stench.) Man, oh, man. That's a little dead on, isn't it? This organization has yet to figure out what "public relations" means. It reminds me of something Douglas Adams said in one of his "Hitchhiker's Guide" novels about a company whose products' superficial design flaws are so numerous and irritating that they completely mask their fundamental design flaws.

"The Giants' most serious flaw," Killion says, "isn't that they gave up a great player for three guys who couldn't combine to carry his glove. It's that the Giants are severely underestimating the alienation of baseball fans." It's called not caring what the fans think. Until this trade came down, I don't think I quite realized that the fans don't enter the equation at all; it's as if the money just shows up somehow.

"In normal times," Killion continues, "franchises shouldn't pay much heed to the fans' desires. The customers buy the product, but few have the expertise to run a baseball team." But there are also other assumptions: one, fans don't read or know how to interpret the statistics, especially the "Jamesian" ones that go beyond home runs and batting average; and two, even if the fans do know their stats, so what? They're just numbers. Besides, these people aren't baseball insiders, so they can't know what they're talking about as well as we do. Drives me nuts.

"But these are not normal times," says Killion. "This is perhaps the most crucial time in baseball history and in the long history of the Giants. This is the time to listen to your fans." Pretty simple, isn't it? "The fans told the organization how they felt. Poll after poll showed Williams was a fan favorite. But the Giants didn't listen." Mah nish tah-nah ha ly-la ha zeh mi-kol ha lay-los? (Need a translation? Ask a Jewish friend. Go on, admit it: some of your best friends are Jews.)

Yesterday my father gave me a column he'd clipped from the Salinas Californian, which, I feel, is to the San Francisco Chronicle what the Chronicle is to the complete works of Shakespeare. Still, columnist George Watkins made a few good points.

"If Elvis Grbac is an embarrassment to humankind, as San Francisco mayor Willie Brown so elegantly stated earlier this week, then what does that make the San Francisco Giants?" said Watkins. It's bad enough hearing your team discussed in those terms. It's even worse knowing that you've got to agree.

"Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse," he continues, "the Giants dump the player who best symbolizes how a true professional should act on and off the field.

"But, hey, when you come this close to having your entire team leave town (see 1992), what's the loss of a third baseman? Even if he was a model student."

Then Watkins discusses something that hasn't come up in the volatile Giants newsgroup: "... injuries notwithstanding, Williams' performance has begun to dip, especially last year. Even when healthy, Williams was missing and mishandling balls that used to be automatic outs. He probably booted more routine grounders in the first half of last season than he had in his entire career.

"Was it a fluke, or a sign of the times?"

There's no question Williams had slipped defensively. I think Watkins, in a very strange way, has managed to provide what I've begged other newsgroup members for: a positive spin on the trade.

By the way, here's a list of players no longer in a Giants uniform since the end of the season: pitchers Shawn Barton, Jose Bautista, Chris Hook, Tim Scott, and Sergio Valdez; infielders Kim Batiste, David McCarty, Steve Scarsone, Shawon Dunston, and Robby Thompson; and outfielder Dax Jones. I don't think I've left anybody out.

Not only that, but the Giants have outrighted pitcher Ricky Pickett to Phoenix. Now, that doesn't mean we'll never see him again, but I don't think it's a good sign, as this is what happened to McCarty. Still, I kind of figure on McCarty to be in camp as a nonroster player, so Pickett -- who was regarded as a great prospect when he came to the Giants -- may as well.

Pickett, in case you don't know, came to the Giants in the Deion Sanders trade, along with McCarty. I bring him up because in a historical sense, if both he and McCarty get the heave-ho, it'll be a tragedy. And in case you don't know why, I'll give you a hint: Bonds for Murcer.

Wednesday, November 20, 1996

Erik, a Giants newsgroup member who's at least as angry about the Williams deal as anyone else, posted an article by Examiner writer Henry Schulman, who quotes an unnamed agent as saying, "John Hart is a very persuasive guy. When he steps into the arena and deals with a young GM, that's something you've got to put down as a factor." To me it's saying, very loudly, that Brian Sabean is naïve and easily taken in by smooth talk, but I suspect Sabean would take offense at such a notion, and say as much, so I won't pursue that.

Schulman says that Sabean "provided a packet with statistical rankings showing [Jeff] Kent and [Jose] Vizcaino are in the upper echelon of shortstops and second basemen offensively." ("I hate to even think what stats Sabean thinks are important," said Erik.) My eyes, I guess, skipped over the word "offensively" -- or maybe I'd seen something before that suggested that Sabean considered these new players in the upper echelon defensively. In any case, I figured Sabean was talking about fielding percentage. That's because I'm convinced that baseball insiders are very slow to catch on to what works. That's why we got Al Rosen saying that he didn't want to go after Joe Carter, because sure, he may drive in a hundred runs, but he's only a .240 hitter, for cryin' out loud.

Tjames, more or less in Rosen's defense, says, "Well, that just ignores the better reason not to go after Joe Carter; namely that he's not really that good, and all those RBIs came from years spent hitting in the middle of the best offensive team in baseball." Now, Rosen said this before the Padres traded Carter to Toronto, but the guy was definitely a presence. Could he have been worse than, say, Candy Maldonado?

Tjames says, "I want to know what 'packet of statistical rankings' could possibly show Kent and Vizcaino as 'upper echelon' offensively. Or maybe I don't."

"Well, Tjames," Sabean might say, but probably wouldn't, "this packet of statistics is a group of figures that are proprietary to the Giants. But let me assure you, Kent and Vizcaino rank very highly -- easily in the top sixty percent."

Erik says, "Now this is my favorite" (his emphasis): "'All of a sudden I went from a golden boy who was helping this situation to an idiot,' Sabean said. 'I wouldn't have gotten here if I was an idiot. I would be an idiot if this were the only thing we were going to do. There is a plan to put this whole thing together.'"

"AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!" notes Erik. "WHY DOES THIS MORON NOT SEE THAT MAKING A DUMB TRADE IS DUMB, NO MATTER HOW YOU FOLLOW IT? How can he acknowledge that the trade is idiotic and then defend it?"

Easy: by making the same assumption baseball people historically make: that consumers will believe any damn thing they say and have very short memories.

What I want to know is, what makes him think he wouldn't have gotten here if he were an idiot? Does he have no idea of who some of his predecessors were?

"The central criticism of Sabean," writes Schulman, "is he didn't get enough for Williams. He responded that he did, that Williams wasn't attracting the kind of offers one would expect."

"Hey, I know," says Erik: "I'll shop him for two weeks and take whatever I think is best. I mean, the other guys will give me their best offer first, right? They wouldn't try to take advantage of me because I've only had this job for a month, right? Good idea, huh? Huh?"

"'If you take Matt Williams as a superstar player at third base, he looks pretty good,' Sabean said [according to Schulman]. 'But if you take a look at him against the upper echelon in baseball, he's just a guy. He's not a guy who's carried this ballclub.'"

(Just so you'd know, if I were the Giants' GM, I'd certainly get rid of a guy for not carrying the ballclub. Oh, yeah.)

I'm just wondering what he expected. It's one thing to say you're very happy with what you got in return, but it's hard to believe that when you turn around and say that your bait wasn't attracting big enough fish. But Sabean, I really think, doesn't expect us, or any non-insiders, to read that into what he says. He may as well take the Willie Brown stance: "Aaah, don't listen to me." Then again, it sounds like he's saying, "Aw, Williams isn't that good anyway" in the face of the evidence to the contrary. I mean, if you take a look at the upper echelon against the upper echelon, they're all just guys, too, aren't they? (Ever notice that one of the words used frequently by baseball front-office people is "echelon"?)

"Sure," says Tjames; "he'd be an even bigger idiot if he spent all that time being truthful and saying that losing Matt Williams meant losing one of the two or three best third basemen in the game, and one of the, say, dozen or so best hitters. The average fan will believe him, which is the sad part."

That's what Sabean's banking on. I have this nagging suspicion that the "I'm not an idiot" quote ended with "but the fans are." Not too arrogant.

Schulman continues to quote Sabean: "'If we don't change things and he hits 50 home runs and wins a Gold Glove, we could still lose 90 games. He's only one player. He can only play one position.'"

Erik says, "Yeah, but you see, the Giants have Rich Aurilia and Canizaro and Mueller, and they play oth -- jeez, never mind." Not only that, but if you do change things as Sabean did and no one hits 50 (or 20) home runs or wins Gold Gloves, you've probably already lost 90 games by August.

"After a series of organizational meetings in October," Schulman writes, "the Giants decided they couldn't build their club into a contender with a $35 million payroll if they had to pay just two players, Williams and Bonds, the combined $15 million they are due in 1997.

"Trading Williams, Sabean said, was the only answer."

Didn't anybody elaborate on that answer? Didn't anybody say "Trade him for somebody good"?

"It is smart to have highly paid superstars and build the rest of the team around young, cheap guys," said Erik. "Why on earth did they think this was a problem?" "'I don't know how else we're going to get out of this box we're in, and we are in a box,' Sabean said. 'We're so far down below Los Angeles, San Diego and Colorado in terms of talent throughout our roster, if we don't make a move like this we will never improve throughout our starting nine. We're never going to win and we're never going to draw.'" "Colorado?" says Erik. "Does this guy know anything about baseball?"

"Sabean said he feels the fans' pain," continues Schulman, and just wants a chance to prove himself, which he can't do until the Giants take the field in April. 'I'm a big guy. We've all been through worse things in life,' Sabean said. 'But this will pass. It's going to pass when we deliver a ballclub on the field, have a different look and we can back up what we're saying by winning.'

"If they lose, Sabean might want to turn off his voice mail completely."

Sabean feels the fans' pain. Puh-leeze. The pain he's feeling has more to do with what people are doing to little Brian Sabean voodoo dolls. He's proven that the organization gives not damn one about the fans. He's like those kids who trick-or-treat for UNICEF and the keep all the change. His "I'm a big guy" statement, to me, points to an incredible ego.

What's going to happen, see, is that the Giants will suck rocks for way too long, people will vilify Sabean for the Williams trade, the Bonilla signing, the, I dunno, Swindell signing, the Jose Lind signing, the Estes-and-Ortiz-and-Powell-and-Cruz-and-Seaver-Jr.-for-George-Bell trade, and he'll just say, "Now, look, if there's one thing we baseball insiders know, it's that you can't judge a transaction right away; you have to wait two or three years to evaluate it."

And you know what we're gonna say?


"My only qualification," says Erik, "is that trading Williams itself might have been a good idea; in itself, it isn't an insult to Giants fans, in my opinion. It's doing it incompetently that is."

And another thing: We hear that Aurilia will be the shortstop. This prompts Shawon Dunston to take a hike, saying, essentially, "If I ain't startin', I ain't departin'." Sabean then acquires Vizcaino, who's spent a hell of a lot more time at second base than shortstop lately, and says he's going to be the shortstop. Was this whole deal no more than an elaborate plan to dump the Giants' Most Inspirational Player? ("Well, duh," says Tjames. I think he's teasing me.)

See, now, I wouldn't put such a plan past Sabean (though Erik would, in that he has little faith in the Giants' ability to organize and follow any plan), especially in view of the conspiracy theory (propounded by Bruce Jenkins of the Chronicle) vis-a-vis Barry Bonds, namely that they canned his dad to make him mad and ask to be traded, thus both making Barry look like the bad guy and giving the Giants the opportunity they want, i.e., to trade him. It could happen.

And now, evidently, there's a rumor going around Cleveland that has the Giants acquiring Jack McDowell, Kenny Lofton, and Herbert Perry. Now, first of all, hasn't this franchise learned yet not to make deals with the Indians involving people named McDowell and Perry? Second, given that Brian Sabean made such a huge show of announcing that Bonds is absolutely untouchable -- while pointedly not saying the same for Matt Williams -- I thoroughly expect something like this to happen, only stupider: the Giants would receive Kim Batiste and 1960s infielder Vern Fuller instead.

Thursday, November 21, 1996

ESPNet SportsZone has an article by Henry Schulman called "Bonilla deal would mollify Bonds." First, that's kind of a scary headline. Not that this would be a surprise, but it makes it sound as though the Giants' entire raison d'etre is to make Barry Bonds happy. But Schulman says first that Bonds is pretty much puzzled by the Matt Williams trade and doesn't know how to feel about it. Then he quotes Bonds as saying, "I'm going to miss Matty a lot. We had a good relationship. I thought we complemented each other pretty well. He was a quiet-type person, and I'm the entertainer. That's what Bobby Bonilla and I are like. We complement each other."

Question number one would be, "Bobby Bonilla? Quiet?" Question number two would be, "If the Giants are in the business of making Barry Bonds happy, and Bonds will miss Williams, with whom he feels he had a good relationship, then why the hell did they trade Williams?"

But who knows what goes on in Bonds' mind? Schulman writes, "Asked how Williams' loss in the lineup might affect him, Bonds said, 'I don't want to generate any false advertising that he always protected me. He was out two years.'" Then Schulman says, "Playing with Bonilla again would salve any hurt Bonds does feel about Williams' loss."

Huh? Explain, please:

  1. Bonds says, essentially, that he'll miss Williams, liked playing with him, and considers his departure a loss.

  2. Bonds says, essentially, that it's not as if Williams made much of a difference. This may be true -- the prevailing theory among those who study the stats goes like this: protection is a myth -- but the "false advertising" statement, not to mention the way Bonds called attention to (and certainly exaggerated the length of) Williams' time lost due to injuries, very clearly belittles Williams' contribution.

  3. Bonds is "hurt" by Williams' "loss"?

Doesn't sound like it, does it?

Doesn't sound like he'll miss Williams at all -- unless the Giants don't sign Bonilla, and there's no strong indication that they will.

Later Schulman discusses Bonds' first public statements about his desire to be traded: "Asked if he was really that unhappy, Bonds said, 'Yeah, at the time, when things were happening to my father. That was my father, man. If your father got fired how would you feel? Everyone on the team was injured, and he didn't have a fair opportunity.'

"Bobby Bonds' dismissal as hitting coach wasn't the sole source of Barry Bonds' unhappiness. It also had to do with the team being mired in last place.

"'In '93, I came here because it was a situation where the organization was going to be contending,' said Bonds, who felt the club wasn't doing enough to bring the team back. 'I'll cut off my leg for you, but you've got to help.'

"'I want to win in my hometown. That's important to me. When we started losing and the media got on me... I wasn't doing anything different than '93, but I was a marked man. I came home to enjoy my life. I can go somewhere else and be trashed.'"

What is he talking about? The Giants were weak in 1991 and terrible in 1992. In what way did Bonds expect this team to contend if he weren't on it? Basically everybody but Will Clark had career years; if everybody had performed at their established performance levels, I'm not sure this team would even have had a winning record.

Of course, Bonds does have a point about the media. Still, how would going somewhere else help? Ted Williams was hated by Boston print media -- but this was in the days before ESPN, so maybe he could've gotten a fresh start elsewhere. But Bonds doesn't have that luxury.

Schulman quotes one of Bonilla's agents as saying that "the Giants 'have made a good start, but it's not where we want to be.' Bonilla wants a four- or five-year deal averaging at least $5.8 million a year."

Guhh? Bobby Bonilla is 33 years old. It's very, very likely that his best years -- not Hall-of-Fame-caliber years, either -- are behind him. Requesting $5.8 million for two years, even one, should be considered an outrage. Requesting it for four or five years should earn his negotiators the sight of many, many general managers laughing hysterically. Granted, Albert Belle just signed for, like, $11 million a year, which is ludicrous in itself, but does Bobby Bonilla rate half of that? All things being equal, maybe he rates a third.

"That Bonds is in San Francisco may help the Giants' chances," writes Schulman. He's putting a positive spin on it, I guess. He's making it sound like a sweepstakes in which the grand prize is BOBBY BONILLA! But Bonilla is a far lesser light than Bonds -- and Matt Williams, for that matter. He's roughly a B player, but he wants A-minus money. The Giants just peddled away an A player who makes A-minus money. Do they really think that bringing Barry's best buddy aboard will make up that difference?

Finally Schulman quotes Bonds as saying, "Jeff Kent is a pretty good player and so is Vizquel. [Yes, he said "Vizquel," evidently. -- GP] But right now they can't make up the difference of what Matt Williams represented to this team,. You can't say, 'Thirty or 40 home runs, good luck you two guys who just got here.' You've got to get a Bobby Bonilla or a Fred McGriff."

McGriff is -- or has been; he isn't anymore, really -- a legitimate All-Star, a sort of latter-day Tony Perez, a hitter who scares you. Bonilla's never sent shivers up my spine. Argue all you want, but I wouldn't put these two in the same category, even though McGriff's definitely in the downhill phase of his career. Would he command more dough than Bonilla? I'd think so. But I'd also think you'd get way more of a return. I mean, even if McGriff and Bonilla were both likely hit 25 homers and drive in 85 runs -- or, to mollify those who (reasonably) say that on-base percentage and slugging percentage are way better indicators, they're both, say, .350/.450 men -- one advantage Bonilla would have, certainly, is the ability to switch-hit, thus theoretically confounding opposing managers' strategy, but one advantage McGriff has (and maybe a more important one) is a genuine ability to play first base. You may not call that much, but last year Mark Carreon was living proof of its necessity.

And yet I find myself hoping the Giants can come up with Bonilla somehow, probably because I'm desperate for them to fill the yawning chasm left by Williams' departure. I feel that Bonilla would fill the hole maybe halfway, but maybe this team could sign someone else who can pick up some more of the slack. It could happen.

Still, what further deals are in the offing? Yesterday the Giants designated pitcher Jamie Brewington for assignment, which tells me they're about to trade him -- or make him the player to be named later in the Williams deal. This will be almost universally regarded as moronic by Giants fans, especially the ones who hang out in the Giants newsgroup. I'm not sure I'll be too thrilled about it, either. But Brewington, who first was compared to the gritty, composed Dave Stewart but who now is compared to the frightened, diffident Salomon Torres, has clearly fallen out of favor with the Giants. Granted, he had a horrible 1996, but I would think that a September call-up -- given that the Giants were horrific anyway, so what did they have to lose? -- would've helped his confidence, maybe immeasurably. But no. Brew's just about to be history.

Outrighted to Phoenix was Keith Williams, an outfielder who spent a few weeks with the big club in '96 as an injury replacement. Near as I can tell, K. Williams is thought of pretty highly by folks in the Giants newsgroup. In fact, group regular Coach Larry thinks a lot of Williams -- feels he's the only outfielder in the system with any particular power. So it stands to reason, I guess, that the Giants would drop him from the 40-man roster. But since he accepted an outright assignment, he must have cleared waivers, so maybe he's not so hot after all.

And is anyone absolutely convinced that the Giants will open the 1997 season with Jeff Kent and Jose Vizcaino making up half their infield? Rumors are circulating that the latter will be shipped off to... the Dodgers. Really. For Eric Karros. Well, criminy, what else would we have to give up? (It's not as though these two organizations are used to working and playing together. The last deal between the two teams was -- all together now -- Alex Treviño for Candy Maldonado before the 1986 season. Before that -- all together now -- it was Tom Haller for Nate Oliver in 1968.)

I for one think that either Kent or Vizcaino will go before the 1997 season gets off the ground. I'd be surprised if either of them fetched Karros, who's certainly an okay player, but not good enough.

I'm starting to think that the main reason Brian Sabean dealt Matt Williams was out of sheer boredom and the desire to set himself a challenge. Nothing else makes sense.

Friday, November 22, 1996

One Hubert offered us the following newsgroup message: "Yo. Dumb shits. Williams for three major league players was a pretty good deal. Live with it."

And Tom's reply was, "Nice try, Brian."

Someone called anzulis posted this about Bobby Bonilla: "I don't know how he plays on the infield, but he is pretty darn scary in RF. He kinda makes even the easy plays look tough." Which makes him a kind of rich man's Glenallen Hill, which makes me just oh-so-much-more interested in signing him. Of course, the Giants won't, as the Marlins have just announced that they've signed him, which means we'll go after J.T. Snow with a vengeance, thus pissing off the many Giants fans who perceive Snow as an awful player.

Meanwhile the Giants have put four pitchers (Keith Foulke, Chad Frontera, Fausto Macey and Mike Villano) and two outfielders (Dante Powell and Armando Rios) on the 40-man roster while, as I mentioned yesterday, designating Jamie Brewington for assignment and outrighting Keith Williams. I wondered how we should feel about this, and Jonathan offered this: "We should feel about everything the way we felt from 1972 to 1985: the Giants are one of the truly dumb, mismanaged teams, and we can only hope that (1) it ends, and (2) that sometimes they accidentally have a good year and stumble into the vague direction of the pennant race." Well, that's pretty much the conclusion I've drawn, too.

"But at least we know Sabean isn't an idiot," said Jonathan. Of course not; Sabean said so.

Coach Larry says, "You might note that Frontera was on the DL all of last year. He didn't throw a pitch in actual competition. My guess is that Brewington is being offered as part of some type of trade. Baker likes him because he throws hard; he just has never had any idea where it's going." I don't really think Brewington's that great either, but I still find it interesting that he's been designated.

"Add the following to the equation," continues Coach Larry: "Powell is having a good year in the Fall League; Cruz was sent home from Venezuela after failing to break half the Mendoza line. They are serious about Bonilla (not my favorite, but maybe adequate at first; otherwise makes Klesko look like an accomplished outfielder). Desi Wilson is having an above average tour in Venezuela (and Baker likes him a lot). K. Williams is still in rehab -- he is only about 60% and probably will not be at full strength until May/June. I look for them to try to move Kent (for two veteran hot dog vendors and a new mascot)."

(I dunno about this. Krazy Krab was a great mascot concept. They only junked him when the guy in the costume began fearing for his life.)

The Cruz bit concerns me. I wonder if we're talking confidence, injury, fatigue, or genuine lack of talent. Coach Larry, however, says that it's probably fatigue, since Cruz played winter ball last year also.

"With a payroll of $34 million-plus, you would think they might field a competitive team."

Well, you would think so, wouldn't you? The Bonilla signing (which ain't gonna happen now), coupled with the Williams trade, would just make the whole thing look stupider when held up against Coach Larry's statement.

Bonilla, evidently, rejected the Giants' "initial offer" of three years, $16.5 million. Evidently there was no second offer. But those who don't want Bonilla on the Giants can wipe their brows in relief. Of course, Barry Bonds will go ape: the Giants won't get their "impact" player, and they're going to go hard after David Segui. When they realize they can't have Segui for less than Shawn Estes, they'll trade Allen Watson to the Angels for Snow, which'd only make the Clayton deal look that much worse, given that Snow, as far as I can tell, is so badly thought of by most knowledgeable baseball fans.

Bonds will not be mollified, and the team will be infinitely worse. Not that I'm a pessimist or anything.

Quick addendum to my earlier comments about Al Rosen not wanting Joe Carter some years back because he's "just a .240 hitter." Tom said, "Carter is the statheads' favorite whipping boy (as opposed to Rob Deer, who hits .210 but is considered valuable because of high OBP) because he never walks and hits into a gazillion DP's, thus using up tankerload quantities of outs to get his 100 RBI (he's also [been] helped by having Alomar, Olerud, et al. on base in front of him.) So in this case, I'd say Rosen was right about Carter, but for the wrong reasons."

And I recognize those things about Carter too, but still, compare and contrast Carter to other Giants right fielders such as, oh, Pat Sheridan, Tracy Jones, even Glenallen Hill, who's only had Bonds and Williams on base ahead of him for (parts of) two years. Not that I'd want Carter now.

Copyright ©1996 by Gregg Pearlman

Last updated 12/5/96
Gregg Pearlman,

The Winter Bitch-Fest Continues

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