Two Cents About Matt Cain

You see, the title is funny because Matt Cain is so rich now. Get it? Anyway…

…There’s already been plenty written about Matt Cain. Some of my favorites are available here and here and here. Read them.

If you are opposed to professional athletes earning exorbitant amounts of money, this conversation is not for you. If you are wanting to debate the merits of a won-loss record, please don’t talk to me about Matt Cain.

How much a player is worth, and how you determine worth, is an important conversation, but it has nothing to do with this post, and, in my opinion, it has nothing to do with Matt Cain.

Matt Cain is important to the Giants. Is he the Giants best player? No. Is he even their best pitcher? No. (Side note: the Giants will be paying 3 pitchers roughly 20 million dollars a year to a throw baseball every 5th day and it’s quite possible that none of them are the teams best pitcher…wierd sport).

But, Matt Cain was the great right armed hope of Giants’ future back in 2006. The Barry Bonds era was coming to a screeching halt. All that was left was a fascinating and bizarre march to the all-time home run record. Winning had nothing to do with those last two years.

But there was hope. There was talk of a future built around pitchers and players the Giants had drafted and no more sagging veterans to prop up Barry’s ego. Matt Cain was the first. Later there would be Timmy, and the Panda, and Brian Wilson, and, of course, Buster. But Matt Cain was the first.

And it did happen. In a weird, hybrid kind of way, it happened. Young players, mostly pitchers, drafted by the Giants led the team a World Championship. The only one in San Francisco history. Not Mays, not McCovey, not Clark, not Bonds. Matt Cain and company.

Matt Cain has never given up a run in the playoffs.

To lose Matt Cain would have meant a lot of things, but mostly it would have shown that the Giants lied to us. It isn’t really about pitching. It isn’t really about drafting well, developing players, and keeping them around.

At some point, there is going to be someone who walks. It might very well be Tim Lincecum. I hope it’s not. They can’t keep everyone who comes through the system and succeeds.

But Matt Cain was the first of this wave, of this new commitment and direction, and he could not leave. Couldn’t.

And that is why, even though the numbers seem ridiculous, he had to stay. Had to.

Thank you Giants.

(-SB)

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Cody Ross, Pitchers with Long Hair, and Other Baseball Thoughts

  • I‘m going to miss this guy…oh wait, he’s going to be my neighbor now! So glad Cody will be on the Sox (wearing his sox high) and not, say, the Rockies. I will buy a seat in right field just so I can scream “thank you cody ross” at him 100 times during the game.
  • There’s been a lot of goodbyes from the 2010 Championship squad, as Grant has pointed out, and I think Cody (along with Pat Burrell) represent just how special that season was..but then so does Andres Torres, and Juan Uribe, and Edgar Renteria, and it goes on and on.
  • I run into a lot of Philly fans out here on the East Coast and hands down the two guys people hate the most: Cody Ross and Tim Lincecum. It’s a toss-up who is hated more. They hate Ross because he symbolizes how “lucky” we were in 2010, and they hate Timmy because he symbolizes how awesome we are at pitching how weird San Francisco is (his name is usually followed by a joke about weed, loose morals, or something along those lines…like the Phillies have been full of such solid dudes over the years).
  • Speaking of Tim, I’m pretty pleased with the contract he signed. The 5 year, $100 million deal would have been the best case scenario for the Giants, but I really like being able to take two years and see what he’s got before going all in. Especially if the Cain rumors are true.
  • So this is it, pretty much, for the off-season. Here’s your 2012 SF Giants. They could have done better, they also could have done worse. I still think that while it would have been great to see Beltran return, in the end, the shortstop situation is the big miss of the winter. Maybe the Giants brass know something about Crawford, or Panik, or someone else, but I this and sorting out the OF/1B as the two big issues of the early season.  

(-SB)

Remember This Guy?

ObsessiveGiantsCompulsive wrote a great article a week ago about the “Big 6” issues/questions facing the returning champs this spring. I would recommend that post if you are looking for a run down of what to watch for during the next month.

I think the Giants have all the right kinds of questions this spring: can so and so bounce back? how will the pitchers hold up this year? who will lock down left field? who will be last man in the bullpen? Interesting questions and important in their own right (especially in regards to the pitchers), but nothing earth shattering or riveting.

Look at some of the other playoff teams from last year and you will some major story lines: The Yankees and Jeter. The Yankees and The Rotation. The Rays and Rebuilding (and Manny). The Rangers and the Michael Young Fiasco. The Phillies and Cliff Lee. The Braves and the First Year After Bobby Cox.

The Giants? Well, Brian Wilson did some weird stuff, and there are too many guys for the outfield, and Tim Lincecum had a mustache for a day or two, and Pablo Sandoval lost of bunch of weight, and Mat Latos wrote some dumb stuff on a baseball, and Bochy made a speech, and how boring is this? Hey, wait, there are too many guys in the outfield?

I wrote a few weeks ago about Barry Zito and how now might be the best time to trade him (hello Yankees), but, ironically, this might be the year the Giants need Zito more than ever. Aaron Rowand is the other atrocious contract the Giants carry at this point, and while the length of Zito’s will always be the trump card, I think there is a compelling case to be made that Rowand has the worst contract in SF Giants’ history.

Which is why, in the big picture, Aaron Rowand is the biggest/most interesting story of the spring…mostly because he’s been such a non-story. Since when does a guy earning 10% of the payroll (the best paid position player on the team) become so invisible?

A quick examination of the outfield candidates reveals that he is the most unnecessary player on the roster. You want a leadoff hitter: Andres Torres. You want an excellent defensive center fielder: Andres Torres. You want some right-handed power: Pat Burrell (or Cody Ross). You want versatility and a nice late-inning replacement for defense: hello, Nate Schierholtz. You want a guy who can play multiple positions: hey there Cody Ross, Andres Torres, Nate Schierholtz, Mark DeRosa, and even Aubrey Huff! Right handed Pinch Hitter: again, Pat the Bat. There is no category I can think of where I would place Rowand at the top of the list.

Nothing I’m saying here is new, but I think the Rowand situation highlights how low-key things are around the Giants right now. Really, this should be a bigger story. I actually think Rowand could help a major league team out in an everyday role, but it’s just not the Giants. Has there ever been a more expensive 5th or 6th outfielder in ML history?

The Giants are paying Zito way too much money to be a 5th starter, but that’s still a legitimate role and he helps the team in a significant way. But the Giants are going to be paying Rowand a ludicrous sum to sit on the bench.

Bochy made a mildly controversial statement about there being no guaruntee that Torres starts the season as the CF, but come on, who’s kidding who here?

This spring everyone will say all the right things and it will be nice and politically correct and Rowand seems to be handling it well, But come May when he has 16 At-Bats and he’s buried on the end of the bench behind Burrell, Ross, DeRosa, Huff, et al. how nice will he be then?

I don’t have any good solutions (I could propose a few fantastical trade ideas), but I do think this will become a serious issue at some point. Last season it was easy to swallow in the name of “doing what’s best for the team,” but in the first half of 2011, before the pennant picture clears up, something will go down and it will probably be ugly. Even if Rowand is cool about it, how do you justify 20 million dollars rotting away in the corner of the dugout.

No idea how this ends up: could be a trade, could be the Giants’ swallowing a huge chunk of change, but my gut tells me it won’t end well.

(-SB)

Fat Albert

People don’t always earn the money they make. Here is an example. I work for Best Buy. I’d say I work my sorry carcass off. I put in 50 to 60 hours a week and come home drained. During the Super Bowl we ran an ad featuring Ozzy and Beiber. In that 30 second ad, those guys probably made more than I will make in 10 years COMBINED. Discouraging? Um, yep!

I have thought about this a lot during the last couple of weeks and the latest Albert Pujols contract talks have got me thinking about the money that players earn. Now I am well aware that they make this much because it is a percentage of the revenue and teams can afford to pay it. I’m also not here to whine about how much they make, but I think this contract negotiation could be huge for the trends of those salaries.

I don’t think there is any debate, or at least any sane debate, that Albert is the best player in baseball. If I’m running a team and could pick any guy for the next 5 to 7 years I would take him every time. I think the tricky part of Pujols’ contract extension is what to pay him.

Ok, obvious, but it’s still pretty tricky. Why? The Yankees have set a precedent over the last few years to way over pay players. Last year 4 out of the 5 top paid players were on the Yankees (A-rod, CC, Jeter, Teixeira). I would want Pujols over all of those guys and so would any team or GM.  Because of their enormous salaries, NO offer for Pujols should be below what A-Rod makes.  Fair or unfair, ridiculous or not, Pujols has earned that kind of money.

These contract talks are so interesting because St. Louis can’t afford to pay him 30MM over 10 years.  That is a third of their annual payroll. I’m not sure any team is going to be able to pay him that much. So, will he take less than that?  Will any team offer more?  I’m not sure they will. If they don’t, I believe salaries in baseball may have reached their cap.

This could have a serious ripple effect throughout baseball. And this becomes huge when the Giants try to sign the likes of Cain and Lincecum.  As the system is right now, they would have every right to ask for 20+ million because of the contracts given to Zito, Santana or Sabathia. However, the Pujols contract talks could play into this big time. Although salaries will remain exorbitant, perhaps this will help keep things in check for a while.

Or not. Now that I have written this into the web, St. Louis will probably offer him 35 million for 15 years.

(-JS)