Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hot Stove Update: Marlins Complete Firesale

Wow!  Hard to know where to start with this one.  The Florida Marlins, who just one year ago were among the biggest spenders of the offseason, just completed the razing of that team by sending Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle, Jose Reyes, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio to Toronto for SS Yunel Escobar, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, RHP Henderson Alvarez, C Jeff Mathis, and 3 prospects:  OF Jake Marisnick, LHP Justin Nicolino and RHP Anthony DeSclafani.  In prior trades, the Marlins had unloaded Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez and Edward Mujica receiving among others, RHP Nate Eovaldi, RHP Justin Turner 3B Zack Cox and C Rob Brantly.

The trade created an immediate firestorm of protest from almost all observers as Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria once again dismantles a team for apparent financial gain.  At the same time, some of the same people criticizing the trades from a PR standpoint admit that the moves make sense from a purely baseball standpoint.  What raises a stench about the whole thing is the new stadium, revenue sharing and the fact that the Marlins heavily backloaded all those contracts last year while refusing to give no-trade clauses.  It would appear that perhaps they were planning a 1 year splash and one of their patented firesales no matter what the outcome of last year's campaign was.

I'm going to refrain from jumping on the condemnation bandwagon for the time being.  To be sure, Jeffrey Loria seems like a terrible owner who is in it only for the money and has found a bottom feeding way to make lots of it. On the other hand, you can look at it as a very smart way to build a team for the future.  The Marlins did get a a boatload of fairly good prospects in these deals, prospects they would not have had a chance of getting had they not had those players to trade.  They essentially parlayed a relatively small amount of upfront money into a lot of prospects and now let some other team pay the expensive parts of the FA contracts.  If Billy Beane had pulled that stunt it would be hailed as the latest Moneyball breakthrough!

It just seems a bit hypocritical to me that Billy Beane has just been named Executive of the Year for doing essentially what the Marlins just did.  Remember last offseason when Billy was being criticized for his own firesale which was seen by some as trying to manipulate MLB into speeding up approval of the new stadium in San Jose?  Well, look who got the last laugh on that one!

What's your take?


  1. This is exactly the way teams should rebuild, what I call the Phoenix Rebuilding method. That's how Connie Mack and Charlie O. Finley of the A's rebuilt their teams. That's how Bobby Cox rebuilt the Braves as GM, six excruciating years of horrible baseball, to finally find that Hall of Fame player in Chipper Jones, then he moved to being the manager.

    That's why the Giants of the 70's and 80's, and even the 90's and 00's were mediocre, once teams reach a middling status, they should just sink to the bottom with a firesale, which gives you a lot of young players from which one or two or three will become your next generation of stars and good players.

    Instead, they try to get better, but when you are in the middle like that, the draft picks there do not really improve your chances that greatly compared to the playoff competing teams, 11-20 is not that much better than 21-30 in the first round of the draft, about double, but still the rate of success is too low to rebuild to be a playoff contender. You need picks from the first 5 picks in the first round to really, substantially improve your chances of finding that key cornerstone of your franchise.

    And the Marlins (with Dombrowski) has done it to great effect twice previously, bringing them two World Championships.

    However, now Loria and his son-in-law are doing it on their own, without Dombrowski, who moved on to Detroit and has brought them to two World Series, whereas the Marlins try to mimic him with these firesales, but they clearly don't have the baseball smarts to figure it out, so like an old broken toy trying to do what it used to do, fails.

    I would be happy if Loria went away, but these types of firesales can not be legislated out and there will always be owners who do that, and like I first wrote, this is a time-tested way of speeding up the rebuilding process.

    1. Nice analysis. Quick note - Loria only has one ring, he was still mucking up Montreal when the 97 Marlins crashed through.

      I do have to look at the heavily backloaded contracts with a lot of skepticism about Loria & Co's intentions.


      the above states the reality of the situation

      not the fantasy portrayed by doc and obsessive, both of whom seem to care more for the powers that be than the game or the fans

    3. oooh, tell me more chosen one

    4. Is this going to be an anonymous v anonymous smackdown? Lemme go make some popcorn.

    5. Perhaps the park was chosen as an economic stimulus project.

    6. Boy we are getting some backwash from MCC, with these two anons (yeah, real brave there).

      I think I made my feelings clear about Luria in the last paragraph. I'm sorry you either didn't read to the end or just don't know how to read/comprehend.

      I'm sorry if someone is offended by me stating what the best way to rebuild so that your team isn't stuck in pergatory for 20-30 years. I don't see where I was advocating it for the Giants, Marlins, Tigers, or any other team, only stating my opinion that this is the best and fastest way to rebuild.

      I never said that it was fan friendly, either, but I can see on re-reading why someone might think I'm endorsing it. This is just my Taurean bluntness, sorry, I work at it but sometimes it just leaks out.

      I'm just stating what I think is a fact: rebuilding is best and fastest (think ripping the bandage off) with this method. I watched the A's get dismantled by Finley and I felt sorry for the fans (until I grew up and found out what putzes many of them are). While studying baseball history for how other teams rebuilt, particularly successful ones, a key to a quick turnaround is to gut the team for a ton of prospects and to get really bad for a relatively short period (but way too long for fans), find your good players and move on. This is no fantasy, just gory truth which I apparently can accept since it is history, but offends others.

      Sabean has been unique in that he has presided over two rebuildings, both of which took much less time (one off-season for his first one, four losing seasons for his second one) than other rebuildings that I found in recent MLB history. Most GM's only get the one try at rebuilding, teams blame the GM when things go bad, when sometimes it is just the winning that make the farm system bad, and thus the team bad eventually. Sabean has had a plan that he has mostly hewed to since he joined the Giants: pitching, pitching, pitching, and defense.

      And that is why I'm hoping to see a two year extension given to him and Bochy this off-season, I know that offends some people that I'm openly happy about something like this, but you go on enjoying the two championships that Sabean put together for us and you go on telling us that you know how to run a baseball team better than he can. I still don't think anyone who doesn't thank Sabean for getting us these championships don't deserve to enjoy either of them.

    7. Should Oakland build a park that will be under-used due to Phoenix Rebuilding every 2 or 3 years?

    8. No, you didn't say it was fan friendly.

      However, the response was not to you personally, but to the idea.

      Now, to evaluate the idea, or to contribute to the evaluation of the idea, we should welcome views from as many perspectives as possible, and the fan-angle is quite important.

    9. Shankbone, I thought the second anon was directed to me, but I see your point, maybe it was for the first anon. I'll get some popcorn too.

      And thanks for the correction on his rings, forgot that the garbage king still owned the team for the first one, and it's funny how both owners have really financially screwed around with the franchise, Loria is bad, but the other guy stuck the team in a bad lease to a stadium that the garbage king owned, and so after the sale to Loria, the old owner was still making a lot of money off of the team. Well, got to make it somewhere, I think he also owned Blockbuster too...

    10. BLSL, I don't see how "not the fantasy portrayed by doc and obsessive, both of whom seem to care more for the powers that be..." is not personal. But maybe I'm just too sensitive, I do do that sometimes.

      I think the A's are selling the idea that once they get a nice shiny new park, they won't need to do all these rebuildings all the time, they would have the money to play with the big boys. I have no idea of how feasible that is in the Bay Area, it wasn't before, but with the economy much larger than it was 20-30 years ago, now that the South Bay has grown out, maybe they can.

      And rebuildings should not be happening every 2-3 years. That's on the Marlins and the A's management. Beane has been waffling on what to do, one moment he rebuilds and gets a great building piece in CarGon, next moment he trades him and a good closer to the Rockies for Matt Holliday, a pending free agent. I'm not sure what he was envisioning as his exit strategy on that plan, but I'm pretty sure that was a true and entire bust, giving up all those players and ending up with a AAAA player (don't even recall that player's name).

      Once a rebuild is done, and done well, that core group should carry your team for at least 4 years to their free agency years. It is not like their payroll is under $10M, even at $70M (my guess where they are), they should be able to cover the first couple of free agent years, so a rebuild in my mind should last at least 6 years, and if you draft well while you are winning, you get complementary pieces that will help you extend it even further. Plus winning generally results in a lot more revenues, so that should help too.

      Also, the A's despite having one of the lower payrolls in the MLB, has one of the higher EBITDA according to Forbe's estimates. $20M+ free cash flow he has been generating each of his years owning the team, I think that puts him at $140M+ collected so far. That's a huge war chest he's building up for something.

      Personally, I think he's been saying one thing to the public while telling his college buddy Bud Selig to take the heat for "dragging" his feet on moving the A's. He's building up a huge nest egg probably to finance the park and to finance buying off the Giants, and he didn't want to use his billions of dollars of net worth, he wanted to use the money the A's been sucking off shared revenues (which is roughly what the Giants has been paying in, so in essence, the A's are making a killing off of AT&T) to finance everything he is planning. That's the only thing that makes sense to me regarding the whole slow movement on the part of Selig.

      I think this is like the 49ers, daddy sets everything up, let sonny boy learn the ropes and take over when the time comes. Just like with Niners, I've been seeing Wolff's son's name show up more and more in articles. He'll probably run the stadium thing too, like the Yorks, they have a history in real estate investments, and know that that's where a lot of extra money from owning a team can be generated, using the Disney World concept of owning a lot of assets close to the attraction that generates even more revenues into your family's pockets. And like the Marlin's owner, when they tire of the sport, sell off the team but keep the real estate assets.

      Shankbone, you got sources close to the Giants owner's group, do they happen to know anything about the A's situation?

    11. I have a brother in law who is a giant A's fan who's pops was hooked in good with Sandy Alderson and was a season ticket holder back in the Haas days. The upshot of the Wolff/Fisher due diligence on Oakland is that they have dismissed all efforts to look seriously at Jack London or building on the current grounds. It's SJ or bust, and unfortunately the Oakland political leadership is absolute crap. The A's have also been operating without 5K to 10K season ticket holders who said no thanks, but that's been going on for about 5 years now. I really feel for hardcore A's fans, being from the east bay I have a lot of friends and relatives who are in that boat.

      As far as the Gints, I haven't really heard a ton. They have the clear legal position that they paid for those rights to the Peninsula and SJ, and Wolff/Fisher bought the A's fully aware of those rights, at that discounted price, and they won't let go of that for anything. Its a very strong position if you ask me. Since Larry Baer took over and the Monopoly Man (as he's called on MCC - AKA Charles Johnson) has bought out most the Burns sisters shares, the minority partners have shut the hell up. Of course winning does seem to cure a lot of troubles. And I'm sure the dividend checks are flowing.

      Selig is just dragging his heels with these silly blue ribbon committees, I think he wants one side to buy the other out, but he really cannot move on the Giants because they have a strong legal position, and the NY, CHI and LA teams don't really want the Rays or another small market team showing up to carve a piece out. That has significant logistical hurdles, but the precedent is what they want to avoid.

    12. Ooo, thanks, I got more than I asked for, I now see I asked very generically, when I was talking specific to the A's owner-son situation and if he's really pushing for a decision vs. pretending publicly.

      I feel bad for the A's fans until I go onto BB-Ref to look at a Giants player and get assaulted with an A's fans ramblings about how we are not real fans for not wanting what the A's have. Hard for me to feel any sympathy for them, sorry.

      yes, their legal position looks rock solid to me too. Why is he called Monopoly Man, he neither has a mustache, wears a top hat, nor has a monocle? Or is it simply because he's worth a lot of money?

      I'm happy to hear he's buying out people, did he buy Neukom's shares too? He's qualified for the owner I've been clamoring for, he has, like, $4B net worth, and that kind of money can keep the dynasty covered for as long as the talent lasts. Angel's guy only has around $1B. But I didn't think he would be our financial savior, he's in his mid-80's if I remember right, does he have children (or grandchildren) who want to lead the Giants in this era?

    13. Don't know much about that. Remember that Wolff is the front man for Fisher. I doubt Fisher would be too psyched to have Wolff Jr rocking and rolling, but maybe its all about SJ property development for both parties.

      I wouldn't sweat a few interwebz tough guys. Apparently the SBNation Oaktown A affiliate is all full of Gints hatred, I don't bother checking. So 1K people who login online have a grudge? Oh well.

      Some joker took a pic at some charity ball of Chas Johnson and put the monopoly man mustache and top hat on him in photoshop. Now I know you have your issues with MCC OGC, but that is pretty damn funny to me, and its a good example why I keep going back. Sure, there is too much Saber hysteria and Sabean/Bochy hating, but there are also some fun loving criminals with a sense of humor.

      He has a huge net worth, he was Burns partner in the firm. He keeps a low profile, which I kind of like. Seems like a good guy, as was Burns. I think the children/grandchildren always are problems, because Trustafarians are usually coasters who decide to get ambitious late in the game, and feel the world owes them something. Now will Larry Baer's political genius guide him through this shark infest waters for a while? I wouldn't bet against it. I'm half a Baer fan, despite his always be selling persona.

    14. Oh, and yes, every indication is Johnson bought out Bow Tie Bill, most if not all of the Burns sisters, and at the parade Peter the Pink was introduced as an ex-owner, even though he is still listed on the Gints website. Don't know what to think of that one, but Peter the Pink is an ambitious guy... Chas Johnson best get his lawyers to represent on that side of things.

    15. Anon,

      Well, I'm not sure how putting a mediocre, overpriced product on the field year in and year out is good for the game or the fans. Baseball history is full of examples of teams who traded away overpriced vets for young talent and won a chamionship or two a few years later. Fans want to see good baseball. Even the severest critics of what the Marlins just did concede that their trades were solid baseball decisions. In my mind, if they are good baseball decisions then they are good decisions for the fans too.

      I don't know if the Marlins can parlay this into a future championship, but it's been done before. So I'm not going be quick to condemn them.

    16. Sorry, Obsessive, I was referring to my response, not from either of the Anons'.

      And Doc, to your 7:37PM comment, they may be solid baseball decisions, but I don't think those paying for the brand new park like it, nor do the advertisers (perhaps not so much if they year to year), the TV/radio station that carry their games, the vendors (the little guys) at the park.

      I would also say baseball (and other sports) history is full of teams considered middling/mediocre that went on to compete and more. The integrity of the sport/game thing would suggest that no one should purposely give up on a season (or more).

      Moreover, this strategy is not scalable in the sense that it might be below the radar kind of OK if one team does, but if they all do it, how will that be reflected in their next negotiation with the TV networks?

    17. The Marlins two WS rings are the most hollow victories in pro-sports. They are not hollow because the Marlin's "bought their rings." And they aren't hollow because the Pheonix rebuild method. At least not directly. The method of fire-sale to prospects to saved funds to buying FAs with that saved money just as the prospects reach their primes has logical elegance and it has worked for some teams, some of the time.

      They are the most hollow WS rings because they haven't built a fan base or national recognition of the club. In '97 they were 11th in total attendance. Fire sale. Decline and more decline in attendance. Sell the team. For their second ring they were 28th of 30. In 2004 they were 26th - a little bump from building and having a competitive team. Some excitement! Then back to 28, then 30 then 30 then 30. This is for the 16th rated media market in terms of television. So no fan base. I argue that this is BAD way to run a business. How much more money would the Marlins be making if they hadn't cut and run and sabotaged their fans so many times?

      National recognition? I feel the players on those teams are more famous for hw they went on to help other teams get over the top and into the post-season. They are famous for being blown apart not for being Floridian heroes. Compare those teams with the O's of 66 and 70. Or the Royals that finally won in 85. Those cities are still talking about those teams. The nation is still talking about those teams. Think about the late 80s early 90s As. The mid 80s Mets. Heck the 2000ish Giants. These are teams that came and went with some eventual WS success (some not only reaching that height, /sniff 2002). But they are iconic teams. The Marlins. Nah. People in other cities only remember the player that came to their team to help them - Thank you Nen and Rent!!

      How many more hats would the team sell nationally if they were a national team? How many more shirts would they sell if Sheff and Alou had been on the team spanning 1997-2003 and had hit 242 and 134 homers respectively as Marlins during that span.

      The tragedy is they could have been a dynasty. Instead they are a joke of a franchise and a leech on the other teams. Only useful as a punching bag for jealous fans of other teams that don't have ring since '97.

      Finally, I call unfair McC bashing here OGC. First, totally groundless accusation. Second, I think many McCers would agree with the Phoenix strategy. In this case I've been a long time opponent of the Pheonix/Marlin's strategy over on McC, and I think I've always been in the minority viewpoint. Heck, we might find some ancient archived discussion between us in the past over there.

  2. It's not the way to go.

    Unless you can afford to not care about attendance or paying your ballpark mortgage. (I try to imagine a fan saying, yeah, I will throw this year of baseball life. How many years does a fan have?)

    It helps the irresponsible to have the corporate welfare system called revenue sharing.

    For many healthy corporations, it might be advantageous to file bankruptcy for no reason other than to get the business world's equivalent of 'good draft position,' but it ruins their credibility, beside the fact that they don't have their 'revenue sharing' to get through their rebuilding years.

    You don't purposely try to create rebuilding projects in baseball.

    As for Billy Beane, he has been doing firesales (not always prior to the start of a season) for a few years now. It would appear to be a case of getting lucky (like his failures at winning playoff series were due to bad luck) in 2012 for him. And here, he should also admit he's cheating - yes, that's cheating when you compete for 'Executive of The Year' on terms not avalaible to other GMs - almost all GMs I am aware of have to put a competiting product on the field to generate money; no GM can afford to lose a month, much less a year (or years in Beane's case) of business.

    I think he should decline on the grounds that he competed unfairly.

    1. I agree that this is not the way to go, from the fan's perspective. But it is from a competitive perspective. And the Marlins got their park (and will get their revenue sharing) so they really do not care about the attendance, it seems.

      I'm OK with revenue sharing the way the NFL handles it, which is that a large portion of revenues are shared. MLB teams keeps a lot of their local revenues to themselves, which from what I can tell is causing the situation where the Yankees has so much more money to spend than other teams. Luckily, the playoff and draft system makes it hard for it to pay off for them in terms of championships, they can't afford to lose now (unlike early 90's that got them Jeter and Pettitte), so they will be hamstrung by the draft going forward. I'm hoping that with the MLBAM handling all their internet businesses, eventually everything will be coming from the internet - right? - and thus all teams would share evenly across the bulk of revenues. The Yankees got no business if the other teams can't be competitive, so they should be sharing a lot more.

      You don't purposefully create it, but once you find yourself in it, the fastest way out is paradoxically burning down the remnants and moving onto the next generation. Trying to fight that is like fighting gravity. And I'm not saying you sell off everything, but definitely you sell off all the vets who are fully paid, like Reyes, but keep the still young and cheap guys, like Stanton, to have something to rebuild on with your new prospects.

      I'm OK with him winning, but I'm not sure if his team will be able to continue to win. Most teams don't compete for the playoffs so well after a rebuild. Like certain prospects who need to show it at every level before I'm willing to acknowledge him, the A's will need to do well again in 2013 before I think that he didn't get really, really lucky in 2012.

      But yeah, not really fair since most teams cannot just jump out of the plane and pull the chute on the team, they need to worry about fan attendance. And they clearly don't, as noted above, they have been pocketing boatloads of money since he became owner, they could have spent more on the farm system, more on free agents, more on keeping good players instead of trading them away. They just really want to justify their move to San Jose.

    2. Holding a firesale and getting young talent in return is a time honored way of rebuilding a baseball team. Championships have been won with this approach.

      I do think owners should not be able to take money from other teams in revenue sharing and just pocket it. If they invest it in scouting and player development, fine, but they should have to show that at least 95% of the money was reinvested back into the team. If payroll drops a certain amount below the amount of shared revenue, they only receive what is necessary to cover payroll.

    3. It depends on where you are in your team's cycle of growth and decay, I would guess.

      It's one thing to have a sale on, say, Montana, with Steve Young ready to take over and continue the dynasty. It would quite different to have a firesale on almost the entire team in return for young talent.

      Near the end, the Giants should have let Bonds go to chase his record elsewhere and have a firesale of whatever they had at that time. That would have been a good time for this kind of baseball only decision. It would have sped up their eventual rebuilding. But maybe they worried about paying the mortgage on their park or maybe they were greedy.

    4. i posted the link....did you even bother to read it so that you can understand what loria is really about?

      a rebuild afer one season in a new stadium that miami paid for?


    5. Bacci, I understand Loria's history.

      I think a huge part of the rage we're seeing here is precisely due to his history. If someone else, such as the A's did exactly the same thing, we would be praising their baseball acumen rather than hating on it.

      The Marlins went out and signed several players, good player, last year. I certainly looked like a good faith effort to win to me. As it turned out, the team tanked and nobody showed up at the stadium anyway. It was a bad mix of talent and taking the opportunity to get rid of those contracts gives them the ability to rebuild going forward.

      We'll see how it turns out.

      As for Miami paying for the stadium, there are never guarantees that if a city pays for a stadium, they are going to get winning baseball in return. Out here in California, we're smarter than that, which is why the Giants own their stadium and why the NFL still doesn't have a team in El Lay.

    6. I didn't feel the need to waste more of my life reading about how much of a low-life Loria is. I've followed his "work" over the years. What he did, while shocking, is not surprising.

      Did YOU even bother to read what I wrote? I stated how I felt: that I would be happy if Loria left the game. I find this news boring in that if he isn't gone already, he basically needs to do something like the Dodger's ex-owner to get pushed out of baseball. But Loria looks too good a business man (tightwad) to get himself into a precarious position with his franchise. Short of a felony of some sort - and it depends on what type - he and his family is around for good, from what I can tell about baseball's ability to move out owners, which is non-existent, for the most part.

      The best I saw for this is when Bowie Kuhn invoked the "for the best of baseball" edict on Charlie O. Finley's trades. But that is subjective enough that unless the Marlins do something stupid - and this was a good baseball trade - Selig, who is far less independent than Kuhn, is not going to do anything.

      And I assume that Marlins fans are really up in arms about him. Would it help you to know I sympathize with them? But nothing I can say will beat whatever they have been saying, if there is any hope of getting baseball to change. Any complaints on my part, especially on a Giants site, will be picayune compared to what their fans will say.

      So I thought it would be more interesting to discuss something more interesting to me, the art of rebuilding quickly, and it followed up on what DrB was discussing, as well. It is just my theory, based on my research and observations, but it is not a fantasy. I've seen many examples of this working in the past.

      Perhaps I should have led with my feelings about Loria first and explained more why I was presenting my theory, but I did say what I thought of Loria and didn't feel the need to enumerate how bad he's been for baseball. I thought that was obvious and, frankly, old news.

    7. Bacci - sorry I didn't recognize that was you and made the anon crack - can you get your old blogger handled back or get a slightly different new one?

      On one hand, you have the coldly analytical, and that is what the Doc and OGC are going for, and Eno Sarris as well - - and from that angle it does make some sense, the guys they grabbed weren't exactly the best FAs to build around, and those FAs were stupid enough to sign back loaded contracts without any no-trade protection. (Notice that was the deal breaking point for Pujols). I cannot see anybody ever doing that again.

      But I think these gents are being way way soft on Loria. The crimes against the Expos have been hashed and re-hashed, the making money with the revenue sharing while crying poor, the manipulation of some soft headed politicians on the public teet. Its all a big time scam, and Selig has been there orchestrating the whole thing. If he can get away with it, he will. The horsetrading art dealer has taken sweetheart deal after sweetheart deal, and that should be, and is the story. I hope the outrage stays on Selig, but he's a sneaky old car salesman, I'm not holding my breath.

    8. Nothing is going to happen with Selig. He's the lame duck commissioner, he's already announced his future retirement. So if people want to waste their time complaining about him, go ahead, it is your time.

      But to attack my idea as a "fantasy"? And I'm not saying a well-run baseball team does the Phoenix Rebuilding method. I'm saying that is the fastest way to rebuild, so there is that to consider. I know I didn't emphasize this enough in my original comment, but yes, this is not very fan friendly in the short term, but hopefully is in the long term. Considering that not doing this seems to doom the franchise to a long term malaise, perhaps it is something a team and their fans should consider as an alternative. Luckily or not, I'm not in the position to worry seriously about that, as the Giants are in a good spot and I'm not an owner.

      I'll admit that I could have presented my thought better, and for that, mea culpa, but it is not a fantasy, teams have done this before and will continue to do it, depending on the owner. And sometimes it might be for the best of the franchise. Given that the Marlin fans did not come out for the players they had last season and this season wasn't looking any better, perhaps a reset like this is what was necessary to get things better again. I doubt it was going to get any better with the group that they had now, do you really think things would get better?

      But Loria has now lost any credibility with viable free agents now. They will demand no-trade and thus he will probably just get whoever is left over in January going forward. That worked for him with I-Rod in their championship year, but I don't really see that happening on a regular enough basis to make it a good strategy, hoping a good free agent falls to you on a one year deal. Making it more likely he loses. So maybe he gets tired of losing and finally sell out in a few years.

    9. Well, you and Bacci have some history, fo sho. I think we're on two separate information superhighways here: the Phoenix rebuilding and the Outrage at Loria, and they really shouldn't meet.

      The Marlins have always had very good baseball ops folks who recognize talent. I hope they get paid at least. I've always had a big grudge against that org, going through us with the W/C to win in 97/03 and then Cousins.

      There is no way he can ever build a winner. You can't win with just a farm system. You need outside parts. So I agree, there has to be some action eventually, because he shot his foot off on this one. No good FA will ever sign there, it'll be scrapheap desperate types.

  3. Thank you. I've been saying for years that a good case can be made that Sabean has a much harder job than Bean.

    Bean gets touted as a genius overcoming an economic disadvantage when really he's not good at the "moneyball" game he plays, at least not nearly as good as some other teams like the Marlins and Diamondbacks who have used similar methods to rake in 3 world Series since the last A's appearance.

    I do wish Sabean would employ this strategy once a decade though at least. nuke the roster and rebuild.

    1. You have to wonder if the party who is paying the mortgage on the ballpark is questioning if the new park is a bit too big now.

    2. I would say that the Giants are entering a phase where they will need to trade 1 or 2 of their expensive homegrown assets for younger, cheaper talent or they will shortly thereafter enter a decline phase.

    3. DocB, I think we are 4-5 years out on that one. The key pitching is locked up with Timmy's extension the big question. They ain't going to pay Wilson big bucks. The younger players Posey and Panda will get expensive soon, but Zito drops off to support them. The Bradons have a few years before they reach high cost curves. And hopefully Brown and Panik can step in to keep costs down. In addition a new crop of pitchers will begin to arrive in 2014 - 16 to replace Zito, Voggie and Timmy(?). Plus bullpen arms should turn over in the next three years to keep costs down.

      So DocB what's to force the Giants into needing to shed assets? Don't see the horizon line from here.

    4. Oh and yes, the Giants LLC, gets the mortgage payment to go bye-bye in 2017 (I think). So that gives budget and profit room for the team and the owners.

    5. They can't use the stadium as a story (and what an asset they have built for themselves) in the budget, but I think since 2009 after the brief attendance scare its actually been a non-starter in their budget. We have to go by established sources, but Forbes has continually been light on the actual on the MLB teams. Look at the Deadspin leaks for example. This is not operating on a shoestring where they really really can't go get Mike Fontenot if they want to, its a big time money making operation. As is their right, as long as they provide the product on the field.

      I agree Shark, I don't see the need to shed assets.

  4. Okay so you want some Charles Johnson scoop...(note you might not like it)

    Back story: You can tell a lot about people's character when you get them out on the golf course, especially if that golf course is Cypress Point and he is a member.

    First, remember he is a 1%er, period. $4B will do that to a guy.

    He is considered a first class tight ass. Uptight and does not like to relax or laugh on the course. He tips badly and keeps his money tightly held. He does not like to bet, but he does not like to lose. He is methodical, focused and somewhat boring. Jeffrey Loria he is not.

    Well Shank and OGC, you asked. I would say if he lets Sabes and Bochy make the BB calls then we will be okay. Sorry OGC but he is not your big billionaire free spender, but he will stick to a budget and support management. Having watched the Giants for almost 50 years, I have seen way worse in the owners seat.

    1. I have no problem with a guy like that owning the team.

    2. I have no problem with what you said. Lots of wealthy people are tightwads when it comes to personal spending, but some don't let that affect how they run their businesses. I think most people would want an owner who is methodical, focused, and somewhat boring. I like that he's not Loria. I guess it helps that I think I'm methodical, focused, and somewhat boring. :^)

      I can separate my feelings about a technique from my feelings as a fan. I know my theory is not palatable to fans. But there is a ying and yang to that. If, after the fact, you had a choice of going through a period like the Giants did from the early 70's to late 80's or going through some pain over a 4-5 year to get another playoff team, I think most would chose the latter. I know I would.

      Of course, that is not reality. It's like when I was laid off. Had I known that nearly a year later that I would have a great job and a great boss, I could justify the pain I went through in the aftermath. But it doesn't work way.

      But at least I can understand that strategy, should our owners chose to do that at some point. All that I ask is that there be a plan in place, and I know the draft is a crapshoot so it could take a while, and that the owners do what they can to make the team entertaining while they are losing. Don't know how they might, but that's on them, they are the owners, figure it out.

      Mostly, I have no problem with the truth, so I'm glad I asked. If you haven't guessed yet, I prefer the truth to being out of the know. I would rather know the bad situation we might be in, than to blindly think that things are OK and not know. I do likewise with my fellow fans, hence why I've been trying hard to get my fellow Giants fans over the past 4 years to not get their dauber down, that better days and years were coming up. So far, so good.

      And your news is good to me. I'm not looking for a free spender. Steinbrenner was a free spender but a bully and not really baseball savvy. He thought that throwing money around was the answer. I don't want an owner wasting our assets (and I do mean our, it is our money that goes into his pockets) like that, I want him to be smart about the team's spending.

      What I want is a very wealthy person who is at minimum willing to let the Giants spend the money that they already have, that's the first step. That Sabean was able to get a bump up mid-season to sign both Melky and Pence, at the time of the Pence trade, was hugely encouraging for me that the new ownership (at that time, I didn't know that Johnson was taking over, I was thinking generically). The Giants have been pulling in more money relative to other teams in net income over the past decade or so, they had been willing to operate close to zero profits up to the 2002 World Series, but afterward not so much. But the real payback for owners should be when they sell the franchise, not the dividend checks that come in yearly, so I want the Giants to at least spend the income that they have coming in, particularly in the near future when hard decisions will start to come in on who to keep and who to let go for financial reasons, not baseball reasons.

      Sure, at some point, hopefully he opens up his own pocket and get the team some useful player, I wouldn't mind that, but after years of Lurie (and bless him for keeping the Giants here but...) and the Magowan years after 2002, I'm just hopeful that our owner will at least spend the money that the Giants generate to keep what we currently got on the field. Neukom was like that, and that is why I was sad he was pushed out. But, so far, so good with the new regime, I'll take that. Baby steps.

    3. Nice scoop MS. I would say he is very midwestern, don't know if he is or not. Money managers tend to be very stingy and conservative. This dovetails in with Sabean wanting to know his budget. Its a match made in heaven. I prefer a behind the scenes guy to a flamboyant one, especially as Peter the Pink really kind of got in the way here and there (although getting Dusty his walking papers wasn't the worst idea in the world, it was just kind of low to leak IRS problems to the press).

      I think Johnson is most likely up to around 35-40% of the club now. And he has a tons of kids... Those are the ones I worry about. Stay healthy Monopoly Man, stay healthy.

    4. Here are some good articles on him:

      He grew up in Montclair, I wonder if he knew the family of "Cheaper by the Dozen" fame, I think they grew up in the same town, the Gilbreaths. Their father is a famous (well back then and to people interested in the history of business like me) efficiency expert, one of the first business process reengineers, way before the term became popular, up there with Taylor.

  5. One more point: I don't really see a scenario where Trader Billie has got a bunch of high profile guys and then flipped them. He famously has to trade off guys when they get expensive, but that is different. I am sure its frustrating for Oakland fans to see their farm constantly churned for more farm, and just when a guy you've been following and dreaming on is getting good, he is gone. I don't view what Beane did to be named executive of the year in the same realm as what Loria did. Also, for the first time in a long time, Beane went out and paid cash money for FAs - retaining Crisp at a high rate, grabbing Cespedes (btw - credit to Pato on that call) and stealing Parker from the D-backs for Trevor Cahill was a masterpiece of scouting and knowing your own players. Very different circumstances, I do not view this outrage as hypocritical.

    1. There was no need on Billy's part to trade off Ethier or CarGon, they could be cornerstone pieces of the team since the time he traded them. And that Holliday trade is just not explainable at all. And as much as fans want to complain about the trades where Sabean got nothing in return for a player, at least he didn't give up useful players, Beane has a LOT of trades where he gave up a good asset and got little in return (including Ethier, CarGon - and he compounded that with his subsequent trades - Hudson, and letting go of Tejada and Giambi for draft picks, and that is just top of mind, I'm sure there are plenty more). If you are going to celebrate his big hits, you must also realize that he swung and missed big time on a lot of other deals. Where Sabean is like a Posey as GM, Beane is like a Jack Cust, a lot of swings and misses, some HR, and a lot of walks.

    2. I totally agree with SB here. Beane last year was just cycling through arb eligible stars for the next crop, which paid off faster than normal in 2012. And the lay-media freaked out as normal when people they had heard of were replaced with ones they hadn't. Meanwhile Beane actually laid out money for the outfield and especially Cespedes. You could see the great potential for 2013 - so I'm surprised people were so surprised that 2012 went well (but I can understand the surprise that they did very very well).

      Beane was following a pattern. Unfortunately, so is Loria - holding a city hostage for a stadium - and the Marlins, another fire-sale and more years not growing or attracting a fanbase. It makes me absolutely appreciate Sabean and the Giants MO of trying to compete every year. I deplore when fans advocate losing more games to get higher draft picks. I want my team to win every game I watch, I don't want to tune out for two years and then celebrate a hollow WS ring with players I barely know. But when owners actually put tanking games to get picks into action? That destroys the competitive balance of the game. I don't think the other 29 owners will continue to let Loria exploit the system of revenue sharing and protections for small-market teams.

    3. Well we are stepping back in history a few years with Ethier and CarGo. I don't think that was cynical on Beane's part, he just made bad player evaluation judgements. Personally I think the guy can't stop dreaming of prospects, and he wants to recreate the promise of his youth or something. He is seriously manic on the trade front, and he loves to trade with the rest of the NL West for some weird reason...

      I was expecting Beane to fall on his face, but you have to admit he crushed it this year, stealing Reddick from the BoSox for a reliever with an injury history, Cedpedes, the AZ trade, and I would add stopping his huge streak of only drafting college guys and snagging Addison Russell. I think that move might be huge for the A's. I also liked him going right in and grabbing Chris Young, that was a good move as well. I am totally on board with you in that I find Beane horribly overrated, but he did come up golden this year. And this is apples and oranges what the Marlins did versus what Beane has done.

    4. This is honestly hilarious. "Beane is like a Jack Cust, a lot of swings and misses, some HR, and a lot of walks." Great turn of phrase! I totally chuckled. It works on so many levels!

  6. Thanks for all the comments and opinions, everybody. I guess I still don't see how this is really fundamentally different than what the A's have been doing for a decade now, or what happened in San Diego with a relatively new stadium, or what has happened over the last several years in Houston. I am sure Jeffrey Loria is an evil man, but he's certainly not alone in that category in baseball ownership.

    If you look at the series of trades from a baseball standpoint, they got solid value in return.

    That's all I'm saying.