The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

There's been a lot of attention on the A's trades of Hudson and Mulder, and much angst and anger directed at Athletics GM Billy Beane. However the destination of the Bay Area's pitchfork-and-torches crowd should be not Oakland but San Francisco. The Giants have been busy in the offseason, and each new move made by GM Brian Sabean appears to be the most boneheaded of blunders -- until the next signing is announced. In the past six weeks the Giants have:

  • Spent $12 million for three years of Omar Vizquel, a shortstop who will be 40 by the end of his contract.
  • Dropped over $10 million to acquire a catcher, Mike Matheny, who hits below replacement level. (Matheny's career OPS is .629, which is not even Neifi Perez-level production). Oh, and he's 34.
  • Declined arbitration to a young outfielder who makes near-minimum salary and had a 0.394 on-base percentage last year -- thus not only disdaining sabermetrics, but also disclaiming any knowledge that there are teams who think such a player is valuable and would give you something useful for him.

Today Sabean unveiled his masterstroke: The signing of former Chicago Cub Moises Alou. Alou is an offensive force with a career BA/OBP/SLG line of .300/.367/.513. He is also a barely adequate left fielder who will be asked to patrol SBC Park's spacious right field, screw-you-triples-notch and all. Oh, and he'll be 38 years old.

Here are the ages of the Giants' starting position players as of May 2005, after Grissom's and Vizquel's birthdays a few weeks into the season (courtesy of blogger Lefty Malo):

1B Snow 37
2B Durham 33
SS Vizquel 38
3B Alfonzo 31*
LF Bonds 40
CF Grissom 38
RF Alou 38
C Matheny 34

* Lefty's note was "plays like he's 41." A less charitable footnote would be "The girl proclaimed to be 18 in the porno mag is really 26."

The Giants are surely the only team in baseball with an average age over 36.

I guess every GM would like to staff his team with his own type of ideal player. Beane would surely enjoy a lineup full of patient hitters, for instance. In most cases reality intervenes -- in Beane's case, a hacktastic shortstop comes up the minor leage ranks and is your star for several seasons. Sabean, by contrast, has overcome all obstacles, even the ones relating to reality or common sense. The only caveat is that Sabean did fail to land one player he was pursuing this offseason, and it was not even a player in this thirties. The Giants courted Steve Finley, who will play centerfield for the Angels instead. Come opening day 2005, Finley will be 40.



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