Friday, July 30, 2010

A LONG Response to Ray Ratto

I’d like to thank for alerting us to the Wednesday blog post from brand new CSNBA insider Ray Ratto, formerly of the Chronicle. In this article, Ratto calls out the “lunatic fringe” that so often blame GM Brian Sabean for the Giants’ woes. I read the article, took issue with a few things, and decided that it was time for 8thInningWeirdness to do what was inevitable: a style post. I proudly acknowledge that what follows is more than inspired by Ken Tremendous and the rest. It is pretty much a copy of their format. But why not, when their format was so beautiful? So here you go: in bold and larger font are Ratto’s words, with my response in regular text. Yes, a couple walrus jokes thrown in, but walruses are just too fun not to bring up.

Ratto: Where’s the ‘Lynch Sabean’ Crowd Now?

Strange that Ray would choose this as his title, as if to implore the lunatic fringe to come out of their hastily dug holes and accept defeat. But in the very first paragraph, Ratto himself proves, through personal experience no less, that the ‘Lynch Sabean’ crowd is alive and well, and speaking. So what was the point of that title, Ray?

Someone who should have known better declared with near-metaphysical certitude that Brian Sabean had screwed up on Buster Posey.

“Someone who should have known better”? What did you do to that person, Ray??? Just for expressing an opinion? You didn’t have to use both tusks, Ray! Okay, enough of that silliness. I do actually give you a lot of credit for metaphysical certitude. In fact, you’ve inspired me to work as much obscure Catholic terminology into this post as I can. Don’t be offended by obscure. Not obscure to us, Ray, scholars that we are, but maybe a little obscure for your readers. Anyway, back to your blog.

Waited too long, he said. Should have been up in April, and Bengie Molina should never have seen a dime or a game, he said. Another Sabean failure in a long line of Sabean failures.

And that’s when ya gave him the old double tusking! He should have known better!

Ok, sorry, I promise the rest of this post will be completely substantive. Except for the obscure Catholic term, if I ever find a place for it. Your “friend” makes a very valid, if oft-repeated, point. The Giants had a catcher that was a top prospect, spent 3 years in college, had hit well at every level, hit well in the spring, and above all, and you’ll appreciate this, had a certain confidence about him that assured me he was a major league caliber player. You could even call his confidence sanctifying grace. Yes! I did it!

Many scouts and baseball insiders believed if Posey were to join the major league team, he would instantly become the 2nd best hitter after Sandoval. So what did the Giants do? They spent $4.5 million on Bengie Molina and his .285 OBP. Seems pretty obvious to me that the Giants screwed up here, and the FIX was when Molina was traded. They realized that they could not justify keeping a terrible, slow catcher on the team when Posey was hitting so well. But according to you, it was all part of the plan, right? Shall we say, divine providence?

Sabean the mud-catcher has had by any definition of general manager evaluation a superb year, and anyone who wants to argue that is not only wrong but pigheadedly so. Someone who doesn’t want to come off a position because his or her friends are watching, or because rethinking that position is too much work.

My computer is telling me, with a squiggly green line, that that last sentence has some structural and grammatical issues. But that’s okay. I’m the king of poorly phrased, long winded sentences with way too many commas. It’s the substance of that sentence that bothers me. “His or her friends”? Are we in middle school? Seriously, what the hell are you talking about?

In short, they’re wrong. Period. Full stop.

That’s unnecessary, and kinda silly, Ray. It certainly isn’t clever.

But let’s look at the roster to see why.

Let’s do it!!!

Posey has been, well, Posey, and the argument that he would have been Posey had he started the year with the big team is unsupported by facts.

Know what else is unsupportable by facts? That God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all One, yet completely separate from each other at the same time (Trinitarianism). But even that I find easier to wrap my head around than whatever that was you just wrote. Posey has been Posey, but he may not have been Posey? If I understand you correctly, Posey has been what we always knew he would be, but there's no guarantee that he was going to be...oh God, I give up. Let’s continue:

One can say starting the year in Fresno was helpful because it seems to have been, but one cannot make the claim that it would be the same had he started the season in San Francisco because there is no proof to back that up.

So its inappropriate to speculate on what might have happened, simply because it didn’t happen. Philosophically, I agree wholeheartedly with you Ray. You seem to have hit on something I have pondered before, that it is impossible to conceive of a past that was any different than what it was, because if so, we would not be where we are to conceive of it. But let’s put our philosophical meditations aside. It is conceivable to say that Buster Posey would have played as well as he has if he had started the year catching the Giants. Of course it can’t be proven, but it is conceivable. Look at him. The guy has a natural ability to RAKE. Two months in Fresno, tearing up the PCL, while Bengie Molina blogged about ESPN making fun of his running, that was Sabean’s master plan for the catching position this year? Sabean made a mistake signing Molina, and trading Molina was him correcting it. It was not all part of the plan. But excuse me, you wanted to speak about the rest of the roster.

Freddy Sanchez has become healthy and a more than serviceable 2nd baseman and No. 2 hitter.

Now that is just wrong. Sanchez’s defense has been great, but he’s not Bill Mazeroski. Taking his defense into account, I could stand to hear you call him a “serviceable 2nd baseman”. More than serviceable? Come on. And don’t say he’s a good 2 hitter. He was recently demoted to the 8th position in the batting order, and only returned to the 2 hole because Edgar Renteria’s bat is as flaccid as his. Sanchez’s hitting has been extremely disappointing this year, so much so that I’m expecting it to improve in the final 2 months. He can’t be this bad. You do realize how bad he is right now, right?

Nobody remembers right away who the Giants gave up for him (Tim Alderson, who is struggling in the Pirate system).

I remember Tim Alderson. I remember he was a 1st round pick by the Giants in the 2007 draft. You should too. And you are correct that Alderson is struggling in the Pirates minor league system. He may never be a good major leaguer. Nothing about that changes his VALUE at the time of the trade. His value was not an injured, free agent 2nd baseman with a lifetime OPS of .751. But that’s what the Giants got. And how did Brian Sabean describe Freddy Sanchez when he came to this team: all star, batting champion. Enough said.

Shortstop Edgar Renteria remains what he always was, a placeholder until the Giants develop a shortstop.

Edgar Renteria remains what he always was. God is dead. God remains dead. When I said stop with the philosophical meditations, I didn’t mean paraphrase the author of Untimely Meditations. Thus spoke Zarathustra.

An expensive placeholder, but you pay what you must when you have nothing of your own.

I don’t exactly disagree with this. I didn't want Renteria, but I also didn’t really envision the signing being this much of a waste. It is unfortunate to pay $9 million a year for an injured shortstop who doesn’t hit and is slow. But you do have to have someone play. So that’s not that bad. Ratto then say Sandoval has had a tough year, and it has nothing to do with Sabean. And he’s right. Then he brings up Aubrey Huff, who is having a surprisingly great season. According to Ratto, Sabean saw this coming all along, and it was a genius move. Forget that Huff was HORRIBLE last year, and there was no way to see this season coming. Also forget the 20 1st basemen the Giants courted before settling on Huff. So that argument is flawed, but you also can’t not give Sabean some credit for Huff; he got him, and Huff has been great. Point taken. But now we come to the gamer himself, Aaron Rowand.

Aaron Rowand remains Aaron Rowand,

Oh, not this again

Aaron Rowand remains Aaron Rowand, but the Giants got a month out of him early when they needed it.

That doesn’t mean anything. You don’t give a player a $60 million contract for a month of production, even if he remains what he is. It's weird how you're letting the Giants off the hook for giving a guy a huge contract just because he hit well for a month. Aaron Rowand is a huge disappointment. But what else could you expect from a 30 year old outfielder coming off a career year in a small ballpark? Gotta say Sabean screwed that one up, right?

Besides, and this can’t be stressed enough, Rowand was not Sabean’s signing, but Peter Magowan’s, as he handled every big-ticket signing in his time as owner. Sabean takes that hit as he takes every other, because he grew up in the Yankee organization, where Rule One is, “The owner is always right”, and Rule Two is “When he is wrong, the employee shuts up and consults Rule One.”

This is very interesting. So you are saying that every major signing was the work of Magowan, and not Sabean. I’d say that is hard to believe, but perhaps you know something I don’t. Sabean therefore should take zero criticism for big money signings, but credit for every other transaction? Hmm… Also, if this is true, what’s wrong with Sabean? How about growing a pair? Forget the rules you learned in New York. You shouldn’t have let the Safeway guy make you look stupid, Brian. And definitely not the bowtie guy.

Andres Torres and Juan Uribe have been hot and cold but by any measure very useful.

Now I’m wondering if you even watch the games. Yes, Juan Uribe has been hot and cold, and his power could be described as “useful”. But Andres Torres does not fit that description. Torres has probably been the most consistent Giant since late April. His 4.1 WAR, a product of his patient approach, unprecedented power, and great defense, is worthy of more than the word “useful”.

Nate Schierholtz and Travis Ishikawa have proved to be at their best as defensive replacements and general all-around fill-ins.

I agree with that. No issues here. Actually, a refreshing bit of realism in light of all the Ishikawa hype recently.

Madison Bumgarner. A strength got stronger.

Agree again. It was a good and somewhat gutsy decision to bring up the 20 year old Bumgarner. And it has certainly helped the team this year.

…those who want Sabean’s head on a pike resist doing so simply to avoid having to change their minds on their erroneous position. And avoiding embarrassment is no reason no to change one’s mind.

We’re back in junior high. Does Ratto really think that Sabean’s detractors are worried their friends will laugh at them for changing an opinion based on reason? I think many of Sabean’s critics have given him credit for fielding a winning team this year, while also pointing out the mistakes he has made and continues to make. Maybe there are some people who’s passionate hatred of Sabean is without logic. But their position isn’t any more intellectually dishonest than this blog post of yours, a post that is as opportunistic as it is analytically suspect. Were you defending Sabean 2 years ago? I don’t know, but I’m gonna say probably not.

Part of being a fan, apparently, is never having to say you got it wrong, that you are getting it wrong or that you will probably continue to get it wrong.

Part of being a sportswriter, apparently, is saying things like “Freddy Sanchez is more than serviceable” without noticing that reason, objectivity, and most of all STATISTICS, show the opposite.

But have a fine Wednesday and enjoy that beer during the Dodger Series, and next week, be sure to return for our next exciting installment: Why you’re wrong about Bruce Bochy, too.

Thank you, Ray. I genuinely appreciate the kind wish to have a good day. It makes me feel a little bad about the stuff about “tusks”. And if you’re serious about the Bochy installment, I’m more excited than you could imagine. I can’t wait for you to defend Eli Whiteside pinch running for Buster Posey. What will it be? Perhaps Whiteside’s entrance into the game could be interpreted through the eyes of replacement theology, that it was Bruce Bochy’s fulfillment of the promise he made to all subpar, replaceable catchers like himself?


  1. Ishikawa is better than Schierholtz. Either way, RIP FJM

  2. Great great read and breakdown.

    Funny, good writing and all great points.

    GREAT STUFF! GREAT!!! You are quickly becoming one of my favorite bloggers -- I will now direct message you my phone number so we can intimately talk Giants baseball-