Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Has the Day of Reckoning Come? Analysis by Ed Stern

Marty- Glenn Dickey beat me to the punch. His Saturday article outlined the systemic problems the franchise has, problems which go beyond their present difficulties on the field. He discussed “three mistakes in judgment” the team made. He probably stopped there because he ran out of room.

Click below for Ed’s look at his Giants!He first mentioned overpaying Alfonzo, based on his performance in 1999 and 2000 rather than on his more recent Mets’ performance. Giving Alfonzo four years at a salary of 8 million a year will haunt them for the remainder of his contract. What do they do with Feliz who had a slugging percentage last year of .5i5 in 235 at bats? Third base is the only natural position for Feliz. He is not a first baseman although the Giants desperately need one.

Secondly, Dickey mentions that “the Giants took the wrong lesson from the 2003 season”. He is surely correct. Throughout the year careful observers asked the question, “how and why does this team win? There was no ready, reasonable answer and followers of the club were left with the completely unsatisfactory reply, “they win because they are better than the other clubs in the division”. Not exactly responsive.

Managment may have figured that if they could win with the cast of characters they ran out on the field last year, they could dump a few non-performers, replace them easily with marginally more talented people and win again. They may have overlooked a few obvious factors. Worrell was among the players they didn’t consider signing and Nathan was a pitcher who won 12 games in relief and was on his way to Minnesota in the Pierzynski trade.

Coupled with this was the absence of a closer, a role Worrell played with success last year. Nen was and still is a question mark. Without Nen, they have no clear choice in the ninth inning. Herges, the chosen closer for this season, may ultimately reward their confidence but to date hasn’t done so. Rodriguez was painful to watch yesterday, entering in the ninth inning, having to get only one out to close out the game and proceeding to walk the first batter he faced on four consecutive balls. Herges then managed the strikeout to win it for Williams.

Dickey then goes on to fault the Giants farm system. This is a ready-made sitting target. Look closely at the Giants roster of minor league players. There is not one position player on that roster in whom the club can confidently predict a major league future. There are a few pitchers, young and untried, who may some day make it upstairs but one wouldn’t wish to put money on it.

If one took the trouble to pick the 50 best prospects in the minor leagues there wouldn’t be a single Giants player on that list. It has been a matter of common knowledge that managment has looked to acquiring the necessary bodies to keep the team in contention by going outside their farm system. Year to year the composition of the team changes as Sabean looks for players to fill holes in the past years roster. This has worked for them in the past. It probably will not work with this year’s team

The Giants have not been willing to go through a rebuilding process. The feeling has been that the fans in San Francisco will not come out to see a team which is not in contention. It may be true that they will not come out to see a losing team with a bunch of aging ball players who have no future. It hasn’t been proven that they will not come out to see a club with attractive young players, up from the team’s farm system, who have a promising future. Florida, for example, did it.

It looks as though this is going to be a dreary, long year for Giants fans. It is early in the season. This doesn’t necessarily mean that one’s early concerns are misguided. The team needs pitching and there is small hope that it will be available. Nen is now talking about returning mid-year. At long last, they may have caught up with Rueter. Last season, he struck out 41 batters in 147 innings. Even for a pitcher who has lived throwing junk his entire career, this is an abysmal record. Moderately successful pitchers do better than that.

They have two winning pitchers in the rotation, Schmidt and Williams. Williams, by the way, is the only pitcher on the team to come up through the farm system, despite the emphasis on drafting pitchers to the exclusion of position players. Tomko and Hermansen cannot make up 40% of a winning rotation.

Team’s don’t win with first basemen such as Snow playing regularly. Good field, no hit is not the description one wants in a first baseman if you are interested in winning. Right field has brought forth journeymen ball players, at best. Shortstop is held down by one of the worst hitters in the league and there is no one on the horizon to replace him.

This leaves us Barry to talk about. This team’s failure to produce a couple of hitters to bat behind Bonds is, sooner rather than later, going to produce some well-deserved outrage. This will not simply be provoked by the team’s losing record. Fans will be coming out to see the team because they are caught up in Bond’s chase of Ruth and Aaron. There already is evidence that opponents will not pitch to Bonds. As one of the Dodgers said the other day, “why pitch to him, there is no one else on that team who can hurt you”.

If Bonds continues to be walked two, three, four times a game, he will not have enough opportunites to successfully challenge Ruth and Aaron. If he fails to approach these records because of the Giants inadequacies in protcting him, not only the fans, but Barry himself, will have reason to be angry. Under these circumstances, and they aren’t far fetched, it can be anticipated that Bonds, frustrated, will find that his performance suffers. Great performance will be easier to come by if there is a team fighting for a place in the sun rather than suffering through one dismal loss after another.

One final, sobering thought. Times have changed in the baseball world. More and more frequently teams are being bought by wealthy owners, with money to throw around in the fight to sign impact players. This doesn’t mean they will inevitably be successful. Consider the Mets a few years ago. Steinbrenner’s Yankees may meet the same fate this year. Smart managment is still the key to producing a winner. However, if a team doesn’t have the financial means to compete for impact players, as is probably the case with the Giants. the premium on “smart” becomes even more compelling. The Giants haven’t met the “smart” test successfully these recent days.

May it get better!



There are no comments yet...

Kick things off by filling out the form below.

You must log in to post a comment.