Monday, March 16, 2009

We have met the enemy (and he is us).

Walt Kelly also said that in another way:

‘There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve, then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tiny blasts of tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.’

After my frequent cajoling you ought to be a fan of FanGraphs by now. If not, have no fear, I will bring FanGraphs to you. Dave Cameron has a series going right now where he evaluates each franchise (in his words) "on their overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future." Today he wrote about the Giants. To backtrack a little, you should know that not all the teams have been ranked. The list--nos. 30 through 20--goes from worst to first. That is, number 30 is least likely to contend, number 1 most likely. Here are the rankings so far:

#30: Washington Nationals
#29: Florida Marlins
#28: Houston Astros
#27: Kansas City Royals
#26: Pittsburgh Pirates
#25: San Diego Padres
#24: Cincinnati Reds
#23: Colorado Rockies
#22: Detroit Tigers
#21: St. Louis Cardinals
#20: Toronto Blue Jays

Surely it is obvious to even the most casual reader by this point that our beloved San Francisco Giants come in at number ninenteen. Thus, there are 18 clubs, yet to be ranked by Mr. Cameron, who are more likely to contend for a World Series title than us. To quote Cameron again: "We are not evaluating how they have performed historically. This is about the health of each organization going forward." I know, you want me to summarize. You aren't going to read the links, you just want me to serve up the meat. OK, here it is:

The Giants have strong ownership, a fantastic ballpark in a high earning market, a major league team with legitimate playoff hopes, and a farm system that has several premium talents on the way to the Bay Area. With a less manic front office, they’d probably be one of the premier organizations in the game. The unpredictability of Sabean’s moves, along with the organizational plan of acquiring only 30+ players in free agency, has left them as an underachiever. But things are looking up in San Francisco, and as long as they can keep Lincecum’s arm attached to his body, they’ll have some hope. (Dave Cameron, 16 Mar, emphasis added by M.C.)

So we have met the enemy and he is us. We have a great everything but we fuck it all up. We know Brian Sabean should be sent to management re-training seminars at a field camp in Taleban-occupied Pakistan, but that ain't gonna happen. We got a guy with a bow tie and we got great announcers. And we got the Holy Trinity. So there's reason for hope. Victor Wang at The Hardball Times has a series where he rates farm systems. In Part 2 he discusses the Giants, giving them the no. 6 slot (behind the Marlins, A's, Braves, Rays and no. 1 Rangers). Here's the meat:

The Giants drastically improved their farm system from the beginning of 2008. They continue to be one of the top teams, if not the top, with drafting and developing pitchers. Normally I'm against investing so many top picks in pitchers, but it's hard to argue with the Giants' results. (Victor Wang, 13 Mar)

The Giants, in his list of Top 100 prospects, get MadBum (no. 3), Buster (no. 10), Tim2 (no. 40) and Angel Villalona (no. 41). That's the Holy Trinity with St. Patrick thrown in for good measure! And tomorrow's the feast for that fine fellow! God and Mary and Patrick be with you, my brothers!


Links:
FG http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/category/daily-graphs/
THT http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/farm-system-value-rankings-part-2/

(n.b. My source for the Kelly quote is Marilynn White's "I Go Pogo" site, and is from The Best of Pogo, edited by Mrs. Walt Kelly and Bill Crouch Jr.)



***St. Patrick's Day UPDATE: This is a great story. A wink and a nod to Big D at Giants Win for the tip. Who needs the Holy Trinity when Jesus is already in camp? (http://www.insidebayarea.com/giants/ci_11928979?source=rss)

5 comments:

Bob said...

Mark, I heard them talking about this book on NPR. It sounded like a must- read for you.
Happy St Paddy's Day, bhoyo!

A Pint of Plain
By Bill Barich

Zo said...

Without exploring the links so that I make an informed opinion, it seems like Brian Sabean gets no credit for a modified approach. Maybe he deserves none. It was clear that he was captive of the "Win now with and for Barry" approach, whether of his own doing or by direction (like none of the rest of us have ever had meddlesome bosses).

So we got great views at the ballpark, ace pitching, one of the better farm systems and we're only #19 because of Sabean? Florida has an even better farm system, has shown the ability to win it all, and yet is at the bottom of the barrel? Why, crappy stadium? At some point a rational person (meaning William Neukom) would have to conclude that Sabean cannot "build for the future" and cut him loose. A GM is not supposed to be a job where tenure counts. Are we at that point now? Obviously, a lot of people think so, and no one is in favor of giving the man a chance if he screws it up. Given the new ownership and a stated commitment to go another direction, I think they (they, not we) have to give him that chance at least for another year.

Rating teams on their "chances" or "probability" of winning the world series makes the whole exercise suspect to me, regardless of how you rate parks, talent, GMiness or anything else. If you want any validity, rate the teams on the probabilities of a win, place or show in the division. The world series is a crapshoot.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Indeed. The statement in the articles is "contend" for a ring, which means you have to be one of eight teams. In the NL, with 16 teams, you ought to have a 4/16 chance. At the very least, you should have a 1/5 chance of taking the division. (That assumes of course that merely fielding a team gives you an equal probability of success as any other team. As we know, that just ain't so.)

M.C. O'Connor said...

Indeed. The statement in the articles is "contend" for a ring, which means you have to be one of eight teams. In the NL, with 16 teams, you ought to have a 4/16 chance. At the very least, you should have a 1/5 chance of taking the division. (That assumes of course that merely fielding a team gives you an equal probability of success as any other team. As we know, that just ain't so.)

M.C. O'Connor said...

Wow. Two. I'm good.