Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Do the Giants Deserve the Lack of Respect?

Last year the Giants won 100 games. They were so far in front of the other clubs that the last 10 games of the season were meaningless. If Cruz, who was celebrated for his fielding throughout the year, even if he was a loss at bat for most of the year, hadn’t dropped a fly ball that a bush leaguer woiuld have caught. the team could have beaten Tampa Bay in the playoffs.

It was no mystery, at the start of spring training, that the club faced uncertainties with the pitching. Schmidt ended the year with arm problems and Nen was lost the entire season. They hadn’t resigned Worrell, who had pitched well in the closer role. They were looking for a fifth starter, as so many clubs are experiencing these days.

The word now, from knowledgable observers, is that, in addition to pitching woes, without Bonds in the lineup the Giants are a worse hitting team than the Dodgers. It may be a cause for wonder why anyone is picking them to finish ahead of the Rockies.

A realistic look at the club today is in order. Last year they won 100 games. No club does that if they aren’t playing at a high professional level. No one can reasonably contend that this wasn’t a good ballclub last year. Removing Bonds from the lineup and then forming an opinion respecting the team’s ability is not meaningful. The other clubs would like to see Bonds removed from the lineup but, unfortunately for them, the last time I looked it appeared that Bonds was still on the team. There is no point in debating whether the Giants are a better hitting team than the Dodgers if Bonds is not playing. They probably are a better hitting team than the Dodgers, even without Bonds. But they are not without Bonds.

What has the team done since the end of the 2003 year? For one thing, they removed the three least productive players on the team which, despite them, won 100 games. Those three players are Cruz, Aurilia and Santiago. The pundits who are showing a lack of respect point to what they consider a loss of offensive strength by the departure of these three. Continual reference is made to the “pop” in Aurilia’s bat which it is contended will be missed.

For some difficult to fathom reason, all of these opinions respecting Aurilia’s “pop” overlook his actual performance these past two years. They continue to be beguiled by his performance in 2001, an aberration in a career that extends at the major league level for nine years. The past two years he has averaged 14 homeruns and 60 rbis. This is not exactly A-Rod numbers. Coupled with his clearly established lack of range in the field his departure will not be sorely missed.

Cruz was a disaster at bat the last three quarters of the year. Most of the hitting stats referred to in asserting how much power the team loses by giving away Cruz were stats produced in the opening days of the season. Even so, he ended up hitting .250. As for Santiago, he is far gone, both offensively and defensively. The pitchers much preferred throwing to Torrealba. Santiago, as well as Aurilia and Cruz, consistently hit into more double plays than good hitters should.

As for the admiitted problems with the pitching— the spring training season so far has offered some encouraging signs. Schmidt apparently has overcome what was troubling him at year’s end. Nen has been throwing without pain although he still needs to face opposition hitters. Hermanson may be the fifth starter thay need. Williams must overcome the so-called sophomore jinx and give them a reliable number two starter.

The bench, which was a disaster last year has been strengthened. The trio of outfielders contending for time in right field provides bench strength lacking in 2003. These are three reasonably good, major league players. They will collectively perform at a higher level than Cruz, not a difficult task.

Perez will give the team far better defense than Aurilia. He may not have any “pop” but overall the club is better with Perez playing shortstop than Aurilia. Catching is bound to be improved with Pierzynski and Torrealba.

This is a ballclub which won 100 games last year and could be an improved team this year. It is not worthy of despair. It may not win 100 games this year but it should be odds-on to win the division.




1 Anonymous { 03.15.04 at 5:12 pm }

This offseason, the Giants lost Jose Cruz, Benito Santiago, Tim Worrell, Sidney Ponson, and Rich Aurilia. Over the offseason, they retooled with Michael Tucker, AJ Pierzynski, Brett Tomko, and Dustan Mohr.
Cruz was part of a solid outfield, with Bonds and Grissom. I think the natural reaction is to say “good riddance”, but in reality, Cruz to Michael Tucker is a downgrade. Cruz was a gold glove right fielder — despite the botched fly ball — and that doesn’t come easy. In addition, Cruz took the 9th most walks in the majors, with 102. While Cruz’ BA was .250, his OBP was over 100 points higher. Tucker’s an adequate replacement, but Cruz is the overall better player in my opinion.
The one upgrade is from Santiago to Pierzynski. He’s an upgrade with the arm and with the bat, but Santiago’s presence helped Foppert and Williams grow a little bit. Pierzynski has been around, but Santiago has seen it all.
I don’t see Rich Aurilia to Neifi Perez as much of anything. While Perez can cover more range, that’s about the only thing that can be expected out of him as the everyday shortstop. Aurilia showed signs of life after the all-star break, batting .312 as opposed to .256. Perez is completely unproductive with the bat, and hits poorly at Pacbe–SBC park. In addition, Perez lacks plate discipline and can’t work a walk. Over the past three years, Perez has a .286 OBP. Aurilia has a .335 OBP. Aurilia might suffer at Safeco, but I think it’s odd that he hits significantly better at a pitcher’s park than on the road. At Coors over the past three years, Aurilia hit .200 in 95 at-bats. At SBC, he hit .312 in 802 at-bats. Strange.
Ponson to Tomko? Tomko had two good years in Cincinnati at the beginning of his career, and never really found it again. I mean, Tomko did hit .286 in 63 at-bats last year, but I don’t think he was signed just to hit. Ponson has been a work in progress, and finally shined. I saw him pitch in Baltimore a few years ago, and knew it was a matter of time before he put it together. If he really works hard during the offseason, he could be a premier pitcher. Like Bartolo Colon, it wouldn’t hurt him to work out.
Lastly, letting Worrell go could hurt. It really depends on Nen, Herges, and Rodriguez. Are any of these three guys going to be able to do the job? A’s fans are relying on Arthur Rhodes, but this guy will look for any excuse for his poor outings.
I understand that Sabean had to do this with limited budget, but I think the holes were plugged with styrofoam this year, as opposed to cement in 2003. Joe Nathan, a solid closer candidate, Boof Bonser (a solid pitching prospect), and Francisco Liriano (good K/BB ratio at low-A ball). Will the Giants win 100 games? I don’t think so. Will they contend in a division that has no clear favorite? I think so.

2 Anonymous { 03.15.04 at 7:08 pm }

Ed does not like to hear anything good about Jose Cruz Jr. even though he saved the game for the Giants many times with his great OF play during the regular season.

3 glenpark { 03.18.04 at 1:06 am }


1. Mohr, Hammonds, Tucker –are a collective upgrade because they back up Bonds and Grissom as well as fill RF –last season outfield had no real depth. Feliz can also -OF
2. Pierzynski / Torrealba is an upgrade
3. Tomko is an upgrade over last year’s Foppert / Ainsworth
4. Hermanson will be fine. ( Correia / Jensen maybe)
5. Durham should be on the field more, he is valuable
6. Alfonso should start the season better than last year
7. Neifi is a very good SS
8. Feliz will be on the field more, should show more confidence and discipline.
9. Barry will not have the deeply personal stuff to deal with as he must have had with him last year.

some concerns

1. Nathan’s innings –who will absorb these?
2. who will pitch the 9th inning?
3. can Felix use more pitches?
4. is the interleague schedule rotation going to be tougher?
5. is the April schedule tougher? ( last year the team had a fat lead the first two weeks and never looked back)
6. Durham – can he turn the DP with Neifi? he is super athletic, loves 2B, but the A’s liked Ellis a lot more there.
7. Can Arizona sustain anything season long? they are young but have Sexton now — I think losing Schilling will hurt big time.

some possibilities:

1. Urbina –still unsigned
2. Soriano — would Texas trade him?
3. triple A pitchers making a June call up– Merkin Valdez?

I am seeing the Giants finishing with 97-100 wins — the east is super competive –Phila/Atl/Florida with NYM and Mtl not that far off — I see the East winner at 93 — and I see Chicago and Houston fighting it out, St.L also hitting well enough to make the Central winner in at around 94

I see the Giants with the one seed, homefield both NL rounds

4 ed { 03.18.04 at 3:04 pm }

“some concerns”:
1. Herges, basically; Rodriguez, if he can learn to throw something other than a ball with speed but no movement.
2.Nen, if we are lucky; Herges, if we are not.
3.Yes;getting him more pitches may be difficult.
4. Yes
5.Not necessarily; they have a heavy home schedule in the first month.
6Why not?; as pointed out, he is a good athlete. Making the throw to first shouldn’t be that tough.
7.It doesnn’t seem likely. Their pitching is not impressive with Schilling gone and Johnson getting older.

5 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:14 pm }

6 Anonymous { 09.22.07 at 1:51 pm }

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