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Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Yahoo! Sports: MLB - Jeremy Giambi traded to Philadelphia for John Mabry

You have got to be kidding me.  John Mabry!!  I wonder if Giambi shot off his mouth something like when he was with the Royals because this makes no sense.  Giambi may be one-dimensional, but Mabry is practically zero-dimensional.  He isn’t any good at defense either.

Sean Forman Posted: May 22, 2002 at 07:52 PM | 297 comment(s) Login to Bookmark

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   101. scruff Posted: May 22, 2002 at 11:05 PM (#118223)
Touche trevise . . .

"a) Not yet born then"

I assume this refers to Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas.

Not yet born, true. But Pappas at the time was a 26-year old pitcher with 110 wins under his belt, coming off an all-star season. That he was traded for a Hall of Fame OF was dumb, but you can see some justification for the trade, it wasn't a something for absolutely nothing trade like this. Local reaction has nothing to do with it, you never mentioned that in your post, I thought we were debating the trade on it's merits. That trade wasn't awful at the time. Look at the most similar players, it was like trading a 26-year old Vida Blue for Ken Griffey Jr. at the age of 29. It's a bad deal, but it wasn't indefensible at the time.

"b) just outta the womb"

Joe Coleman, Aurelio Rodriguez and Eddie Brinkman for Denny McLain.

Actually, it was a year prior to entering the womb, two years before I exited.

That's a bad deal too, but had won 55 games in the two years prior to 1970, and was only 26. A comeback couldn't have been unthinkable. He was a hell of a lot better risk than John Mabry.

Again, I wasn't there, but I think I can look back now and see what reasonable people would have thought at the time.

"c) a 20 year old Yankee fan living in NY at that time. (I think.)"

This could be both; Steve Finley, Pete Harnisch and Curt Schilling for Glenn "Freakin" Davis and;

Jeff Bagwell for Larry Anderson.

I was an 18-year old Yankee fan in college in Lancaster County, PA.

In 1991 I shelled out about $40 for Glenn Davis in a fantasy draft (salary cap $260). Obviously, that means someone else thought he was worth $39. He was a star, a first tier star at that time. A guy that hit 30 HR a year in the AstroDome. To give up a good young reliever; a .632 OPS as a 25-year OF and a 23-year old starter with an 88 ERA+ was a very reasonable deal. Many of us felt that the Orioles had fleeced the Astros actually.

The Bagwell deal was bad, but as was said earlier, Andersen was good and Bagwell was AA player who had yet to hit for power, although he was regarded as a good prospect at the time.

This deal is so much worse than any of those other deals, when looking at it at the time it was made.

I don't care if Giambi was making it with Beane's wife. You trade the wife for Mabry, not Giambi.
   102. Cuban X Senators Posted: May 22, 2002 at 11:12 PM (#118225)
As an Orioles fan I was sick about the Glenn Davis for Finley, Schilling and Harnish trade when it was made. Clearly Davis may well have been useful for 3-5 years, but it was clear that any one of those guys panning out would be worth far more than the decline of Glenn Davis.

Finley had just lead, from the DL no less, the Orioles' one-year turn around from 108-losses to final wkend pennant hopes (and if you were following that team, you'll know I'm not being facetious about leading from the DL), and Schilling and Harnish at times were frustrating, but were both clearly long on promise.

Glenn Davis meanwhile was released the day after having his jaw broken in a Tidewater barfight while on AAA rehab.
   103. scruff Posted: May 22, 2002 at 11:13 PM (#118226)
"I would have been happy if they had traded Rolen for Jeremy Giambi."

That about somes this up. Good just Crispix. Decent cereal too, although surprising low fiber content for a "healthy" cereal.
   104. scruff Posted: May 22, 2002 at 11:14 PM (#118227)
Meant to say "good job Crispix" . . .
   105. yb125 Posted: May 22, 2002 at 11:37 PM (#118230)
Totaly nuts, unless the guys where running crack factory in their apt i don't really see trade JG for john does, unless Jeremy is really a sercert agent who was just being relocated, although bruce chen seems to be a better choice. Travis lee must be on the block now i'm sure there are still enough GM's who think he is ready to "pop", the braves could use him, i think the Gaints would rather have him then snow. Some one mentioned cust for john type deal, could see it but would john be better then tod zeile, prait for cust i understand.
   106. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq., LLC Posted: May 22, 2002 at 11:40 PM (#118231)
Wow, "The Spitter" sure changed their look.
   107. Cuban X Senators Posted: May 22, 2002 at 11:40 PM (#118232)
Giants will not replace Snow. The organization seems to bow to Dusty's extreme sense of loyalty to certain guys -- witness the activation of Shawn Dunston yesterday.
   108. Steve Treder Posted: May 22, 2002 at 11:56 PM (#118233)
A couple of comments on the historically lopsided trades:

Frank Robinson was NOT traded for Milt Pappas. He was traded for Milt Pappas, Jack Baldschun, and Dick Simpson -- it was a 3-for-1 deal, not a 1-for-1, and this is almost never mentioned, and it's significant. Baldschun was coming off a so-so 1965 season, but he had been one of the better relievers in baseball in 1962-64, and Simpson was one of the better toolsy OF prospects around at the time. The Reds had featured an awesome offense in '65, but a very shaky pitching staff, and they figured they could replace Robinson's corner OF stick with some combination of Art Shamsky and Simpson (although instead what they did was use Tommy Helms at 3B and move Deron Johnson to RF, a poorer choice).

So the deal made some sense at the time, although it was still generally seen as favoring the Orioles. No one foresaw Robinson's huge triple-crown 1966 season (he had hit 21, 29, and 33 HRs the previous three seasons; no one expected him to suddenly crank out 49), and Baldschun's flaming out wasn't predicted, either. It was one of those deals that looks a whole lot stupider in retrospect than it did at the time.

The McLain deal, OTOH, was widely seen as a steal for the Tigers. Rodriguez looked like a budding star, Brinkman was among the best fielding SS's in baseball at the time, and Coleman was seen as a solid young starter. McLain was widely known as a flake, and his half-season performance in 1970 had been feeble. His demise was not unexpected. Ted Williams was known to have hated the deal; the only ray of hope he could see in it was that the Senators also gained a good young utilityman in Elliott Maddox -- not much in exchange for the best defensive left side of an infield other than Brooks/Belanger.

The trade that was most seen as a steal from that period was Orlando Cepeda for Ray Sadecki in May of 1966, and it did indeed turn out every bit as one-sided as it was generally predicted to.

I'll say it again: this Jeremy G. thing really shouldn't be seen as a trade at all; it's a firing. As such it should be considered as in the same vein as the Hernandez-for-Allen deal, and also Herzog's move to sell John Mayberry in 1977, the Astros' dumping of Joe Pepitone in mid-1970, Charlie Finley's firing of Ken Harrelson in mid-1967, and the Dodgers' dumping of Maury Wills in 1966. Those were moves born of spite, not strategy (which doesn't, in and of itself, mean they weren't warranted).
   109. Wildrose Posted: May 23, 2002 at 12:21 AM (#118235)
The Oakland G..AY'S does have a nice ring to it!
   110. Darren Posted: May 23, 2002 at 01:06 AM (#118239)
Maybe Beane meant that Giambi is literally one dimensional. That's the only way this makes sense.
   111. Repoz Posted: May 23, 2002 at 02:10 AM (#118245)
Keith L.....Credit tendered.
   112. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: May 23, 2002 at 02:30 AM (#118246)
Ok, let's look at this from Beane's perspective. He's got too many players (Giambi, Saenz, Byrnes, Justice, Piatt) that are too similar. He can't move Justice because of his salary. Saenz and Piatt can at least, in theory, play 3B, which with Chavez seemingly alway dinged up, is a consideration. Byrnes has more speed and defensive flexibility. So Giambi is the potential odd man out. Plus, he's a constant clubhouse reminder on the two that got away (both the non slide and the big brother). OK, I can see all of that. But John Mabry? Something else is going on here, plain and simple. My wife just called me and said that Giambi was on the news crying when he heard about the trade.

One more for the bad trade pile: Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz. OK, it won the Tigers a pennant. But it was still a bad deal, in the same way the Bags for Larry Anderson one was. Again though, it's a hindsight bad trade, and not as obviously terrible as this one.
   113. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 23, 2002 at 03:19 AM (#118249)
Sheesh. I spend a day playing "Escape Velocity: Nova" instead of checking the transaction wire every 20 minutes, and something like this happens? I may never leave my computer again.

I don't really have anything to add except an echo of the groupthink so far: there's no upside for the A's in this deal, and there has to be something going on behind the scenes for them to be willing to make this move. Tomorrow should be interesting.
   114. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: May 23, 2002 at 03:46 AM (#118253)
Steve Cameron...

I guess I was just holding to the same light as people who were referencing Bagwell for Larry Anderson. And I remember being very PO'ed at the time. Who knew that Alexander was going to go 10-1 or whatever it was down the a Tigers fan, I was thrilled with the result at the time, but I also knew it was going to haunt them for years, as well.
   115. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 23, 2002 at 03:48 AM (#118254)
First of all, the one comment I laughed out loud at was Darren's: Maybe Beane meant that Giambi is literally one dimensional. That's the only way this makes sense.

Second, this trade was inexcusably awful. But to label it the worst trade people can remember?

* Bagwell-Anderson
   116. Steve Treder Posted: May 23, 2002 at 04:00 AM (#118256)
"My nomination: another brilliant Mets 3B move, Joe Foy for Amos Otis."

Sure, but I think we have to be careful to focus ourselves on trades that AT THE TIME looked bizarre ... no one at the time said this one was; Foy was a young regular who appeared to be maybe on the brink of stardom, and Otis was a toolsy kid who had done nothing yet except hit .151 in 93 atbats for the Mets.

Similarly, the Ryan-for-Fregosi trade wasn't obviously a bad one at the time it was made.

And, may I say it yet again: this Giambi deal isn't a trade. It's a firing.
   117. David Jones Posted: May 23, 2002 at 04:15 AM (#118259)
Maybe Beane did this deal because he knew the season was toast, was bored, and decided to make the most asinine trade he could think of just so he could see all of the folks on this site who worship him tear their hair out. He's probably chuckling right now, drinking a soda, eating a bag of cheetos, and planning tomorrow's Tim Hudson for Dave Burba deal.
   118. J. Cross Posted: May 23, 2002 at 04:27 AM (#118260)
This isn't the WORST deal in history but it's the most baffling deal I can remember. Our only explanation is: There's something we don't know. I also enjoyed the "really one-dimensional" comment but I also enjoyed

Settle down, fellas. No use in getting all hot and bothered trying to figure out which team got the better of this deal. That's exactly the kind of question that Win Shares were designed to answer.

Think about it. Over 300 posts and still no one has even come up with a plausable explanation of why Beane made this deal. I'm dying to know what really happenned here.
   119. Fadeaway: The Baseball History Podcast Posted: May 23, 2002 at 05:38 AM (#118265)
Man, heck of a thread. Is this a Primer record?

Yes, but only because of all the posts commenting on what a heck of a thread it is.
   120. Fadeaway: The Baseball History Podcast Posted: May 23, 2002 at 05:38 AM (#118266)
Like the one above.
   121. Joel Barrett Posted: May 23, 2002 at 05:54 AM (#118267)
At the time (1999), Tony Batista for Dan Plesac was also a pretty bad trade.
   122. KJOK Posted: May 23, 2002 at 06:24 AM (#118268)
I think I have it. It was simply a signability issue. Like his brother, Je.Giambi wasn't going to re-sign, and Beane figured that instead of losing him he would trade him now for a player that he COULD sign to a long-term contract for a reasonable amount. ;)
   123. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 23, 2002 at 07:03 AM (#118272)
(Can you imagine Larry Bowa getting along with a Giambi?)

I have a hard time imagining Bowa getting along with Mr. Rogers!
   124. Greg Franklin Posted: May 23, 2002 at 09:06 AM (#118276)
Nothing to add to the groupthink -- I agree with you all that it's a terrible trade.

Just for the record ... how many Win Shares have Mabry and Giambi accumulated to date?

Postseason history: IIRC, Mabry is 6-5 (won 1 series), Giambi a mere 4-6 (won no series). Will anyone offer this up as THE reason for the trade?

Gillick is now ineligible for "best GM in baseball", because he once GMed a team that had Mabry, and was only able to fetch 1.5 overpriced seasons of Al Martin for him in trade. It is obvious that Pat had no appreciation of John Mabry's market value.

As to why this came down today, we had bad signs on Primer the last two days. First the untimely death of S.J. Gould, then the mongo thread about gays ("In and out with the Mets"), then suggestive thread titles nearby like "YANKS EYE THREE JAYS" and "Dreamy in Portland". (For the record, I enjoyed the first-hand dendrophilia memoir.)

Perhaps the baseball world cracked under the pressure, and Beane along with it.
   125. Charles Saeger Posted: May 23, 2002 at 12:35 PM (#118283)
Mabry career Win Shares: 43
   126. Robert Dudek Posted: May 23, 2002 at 12:50 PM (#118284)

Then why didn't the A's trade Giambi for a AA pitcher and saved even more money?

Voros is right, on a talent/finance level this trade makes no sense for the A's.
   127. James B. Posted: May 23, 2002 at 12:56 PM (#118285)
Just to give the rest of you around the country how bad sports radio is in Philadelphia:

Yesterday, I am at work and read that the trade is made. I get in my car to drive home. There is a radio station in town that bills itself as "The Nation's Best Sports Station"; they aren't and a long time ago I gave up listening to them. But what the heck, I want to hear reaction to the trade.

1st call- Is Piazza Gay?
   128. RP Posted: May 23, 2002 at 01:24 PM (#118287)
Rich C. -- yes, I'm surprised the Tettleton trade doesn't get more play. *At the time the trades were made* I thought the Tettleton trade was far worse than the G. Davis trade. The Davis trade made me nervous b/c the Os were clearly giving up three decent young players, but, at the same time, they were getting a pretty good power hitter (who had, dare I say it, a proven track record) who wasn't ancient. OTOH, the Tettleton trade made absolutely no sense whatsoever at the time it was made and only looks worse in retrospect.
   129. MattB Posted: May 23, 2002 at 01:32 PM (#118288)
The A's are 1-0 in the post-Giambi era!

Will they ever lose again?
   130. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 23, 2002 at 01:43 PM (#118290)
Jon Lieber for Brant Brown looked bad at the time, especially after Brown's first start in center.
   131. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: May 23, 2002 at 01:49 PM (#118291)
   132. Toby Posted: May 23, 2002 at 02:08 PM (#118295)
"There's got to be more to this" -- Voros (and echoed by many others)

Maybe this is just a bad move.

What is clear is that Billy Beane enjoys a huge double standard (perhaps deserved, based on reputation), simply by the willingness of people here to say there must be more to the story than is known.

John Hart sends down Blalock, and people who are reluctant to criticize the trade because "maybe Rangers management knows more than we do" are shouted down.

Beane ships Giambi, C.O.D. included, to the Phillies and all of a sudden there must be something more to the story.

Personally, I wouldn't shy away from the following conclusion: The A's really do need to scrape together every last $500,000 they can get, even more than we realize.

What this trade reminds me of is Boston's dump of Carl Everett, only without the added burden of a high salary attached and without the luxury of an entire offseason in which to shop around.
   133. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 23, 2002 at 02:27 PM (#118299)
Bayless' column is interesting, albeit written by one of sportswriting's most infamous hacks. He does make it sound like Giambi was exiled for non-baseball reasons, and he does mention that Mabry might be traded elsewhere.

Isn't Mabry the perfect Royal?
   134. Darren Posted: May 23, 2002 at 02:43 PM (#118302)
A lot of people have given reasonable explanations as to why Giambi might be traded (no glove, pissed off manager, etc.), but no one can seem to explain why it was for Mabry.

There doesn't seem to be a good explanation, except that Beane made a bad decision or deliberately tanked the trade. Why would he call and make that offer, before trying to get about a dozen other players in the organization?
   135. Shredder Posted: May 23, 2002 at 02:55 PM (#118304)
The problem with all of those trades was that at least the "losing" team got something useful

How about Damion Easley for Greg Gohr?

Gohr's Angel career-- 1W, 1L, 1S, 24IP, 15K, 7.50 ERA, 7 HRs allowed.
   136. Kurt Posted: May 23, 2002 at 03:13 PM (#118306)
James B's story was pretty funny - WIP is truly awful.

The angle the DC guy last night (Steve Czabin?) took was that well, those small market A's had a couple of nice years, but it was never going to last, blah blah blah. When the caller pressed him on the trade itself, he hadn't crunched the numbers, so he really couldn't assess the trade in great detail. I guess he at least gets credit for admitting he didn't know something.

God bless the internet.
   137. Shredder Posted: May 23, 2002 at 03:17 PM (#118308)
From Bayless' column
   138. Dag Nabbit at Posted: May 23, 2002 at 03:18 PM (#118309)
In the comparing this to The Worst Trades Ever, people are missing the fact that this really doesn't fit the pattern for most of those trades. Most WTE contain a young promising (but often frustrating) player on the verge of an explosion for a vet on the verge of collapse (the Ryan trade, the Bagwell trade, the Glenn Davis trade - or heck, how about Christy Matthewson for Amos Rusie? - are all types of this). An alternate WTE has a GM trading a player after a flukishly-good season for a player with more potential (Leiber trade). This is nothing like that. This is Younger & Better being traded for Older & Inferior, and not only that, the trade is completely at odds with the organizational philosophy of the team that made the trade. Worst trade ever? No. Most inexplicable trade ever? That I can think of, yea. I mean most WTE were well received & made sense at the time - heck, I once looked up the headline in the Trib the day after the Brock trade; it read: "Cards Deal Cubs in the Pennant Race: Send Broglio." This trade just makes no dang sense. I'm a firm believer that boards like this tend to over-rate Billy Beane. . . but John Freakin' Mabry?!?!?!?
   139. Shredder Posted: May 23, 2002 at 03:24 PM (#118310)
I'm sorry, the Damion Easley trade made no sense to me whatsoever at the time. He'd had some injury problems, but he was still pretty young, for an extremely replacebale middle reliever.
   140. scruff Posted: May 23, 2002 at 03:25 PM (#118311)
James B. -- you bring back memories. I was subjected to Philly sports radio from late 1995 until mid-2000. I was laughing out loud when I read your comments. Let me reinforce for everyone that there is no exaggeration in James' comments.

I do like Missinelli though. I like his "Heavyocity Thursday" topics generally, and he used to do a hysterical thing called "Who's stealing money in the NBA". He'd look through the box scores and pick out some hysterical lines. One time he noted that Shawn Bradley, despite being 7' 6", played 18 minutes without getting a rebound. He said, "You'd think one would have hit him in the head or something."

Don't get me wrong, he's a terrible analyst, but he's entertaining to listen to, especially when he used to be teamed w/Steve Fredericks.

Eskin in not listenable. He's the worst paid sports commentator I've EVER run across. He has no redeeming quality whatsoever. He's the Jeffrey Loria of sportstalk radio.

I think you can get ESPN Radio on 1680 in Philly, but they may have gone out of business. You can definitely get WFAN 660 from NY in Philly. You have other options James.

Ed Wade's comments say it all by the way. His jaw basically hit the floor when Beane called him, as it should have. I don't care what we didn't know, you just don't give talent away for nothing. It was a stupid trade, plain and simple.
   141. DTS Posted: May 23, 2002 at 03:26 PM (#118312)
I agree that Cust for Myers looked bad at the time, and it still looks bad. But, Myers is at least a valuable asset on the DBacks and is having another good year and is helping the DBacks win games. Cust in playing AAA baseball and is not helping the Rockies win games.

Giambi was helping the A's win games. Mabry was not helping the Phillies win games. Ridiculous. Giambi's OPS+ last year: 126. Mabry's career high OPS+ for full season: 103. Amazing. Mabry does have 6 career steals though. Maybe the A's are changing their philosophy to one of speed.
   142. Edmundo Posted: May 23, 2002 at 03:32 PM (#118314)
Beane ships Giambi, C.O.D. included, to the Phillies and all of a sudden there must be something more to the story.

Personally, I wouldn't shy away from the following conclusion: The A's really do need to scrape together every last $500,000 they can get, even more than we realize.

Toby, I don't get your first point. You criticize those who say there must be more to the story and then in the next paragraph you offer "something more to the story" -- a desperate need for cash.
   143. scruff Posted: May 23, 2002 at 03:37 PM (#118316)
Kurt, I heard Czabin last night too, the exact exchange you were talking about.

I like Czabin though, just because he's not politcally correct, he tries to be funny, etc.. SportsTalk 980 has a very pompous attitude, they act like the callers don't know anything, they are all knowing. They even refer to the listeners as "Joe the Fan", and try to dumb everything down for them.

I like the Sports Junkies, they are funny, but their analysis is pretty scratch the surface stuff. They act like the callers have a clue at least though.

In Philly, at least they interact with the callers, although they are limited to 2 minutes, because no can possibly be interesting for longer than that.

Lardass and the Puppy at least bring up relevant topics for the national sports fan, and they have a clue about what is going on, their analysis is typical sportswriter stuff, but I really like Russo because he's passionate about sports and from what I hear he's a great guy, he'll talk to anyone, anytime about anything.

We have to realize that sports radio can be entertaining, but it's not a place to go for hardcore analysis. Some of these guys (Missinelli, Czabin, Russo, Junkies) are funny and entertaining nonetheless.
   144. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: May 23, 2002 at 03:52 PM (#118317)
Just a question from a Mets fan who doesn't pay enough attention to guys on other teams: Is John Mabry better or worse than Jay Payton? I ask because I'm reasonably certain Phillips would trade Payton for three baseballs and Frank Menechino's chewed gum, but I'm not sure if Payton for Giambi would have been a better or worse trade.
   145. Toby Posted: May 23, 2002 at 03:59 PM (#118319)

that the A's need to pinch pennies is common knowledge. That Giambi can't play good defense is common knowledge. The only question is how much budget value should be placed on shedding Giambi's salary and how much baseball value should be placed on Giambi's lack of defense. In other words, the information is there, the conclusions to draw from that information is in doubt. I suggest that people might not be giving enough weight to the budgetary significance of this move. (Though I too wonder why Beane wouldn't have wanted a prospect rather than a salaried vet like Mabry).

That's completely different from saying that there must be some incident or injury or other secret information.
   146. Charles Saeger Posted: May 23, 2002 at 04:04 PM (#118320)
Speaking as an O's fan on the Davis and Tettleton trades ...

Even in retrospect, I must conclude the Tettleton trade was worth. I wasn't happy about the Davis trade, but I wasn't furious either. Like everyone else, I had a higher assessment of Davis's talent than it actually was (I ran his pre-1991 numbers into the Brock2 spreadsheet once, and his totals from 1991 on, rate wise, are not out-of-line with his actual performance once you account for injuries -- his 1992 season, in terms of OBP and Slug, was dead-on). We also failed to note that Davis wasn't particularily hurt by the Astrodome.

The Tettleton trade, OTOH, made no sense whatsoever. Robinson couldn't pitch at all, and his 1989-90 stats made that abundantly clear. Tettleton had a low batting average, but a high secondary average, so he was a good hitter for a catcher, OK for a DH. It made no sense whatsoever.
   147. WaltDavis Posted: May 23, 2002 at 04:07 PM (#118322)
I don't see much difference at all between the reaction to this trade and the reaction to Blalock being sent down. The reaction to Blalock being sent down was "this is a bad move and don't give me that psychological mumbo-jumbo." The reaction to this is "this is a bad trade that surely only happened due to psychological mumbo-jumbo." It's still a bad trade regardless of what Giambi might have done. The psychological mumbo-jumbo is not being offered in the sense of "oh well, if Giambi did that, then this move makes sense" it's being offered as "the only way I can see something this nonsensical happening is if Giambi did something."

The difference between the Blalock move and this one is that in the Blalock case there's the real possibility that the Rangers did it in the belief that it makes them a better team. With this trade, it is inconceivable that _anyone_ could see this as making the A's a better team, so the only explanation is that Beane screwed up for other reasons. But I don't think anyone here is saying that Beane didn't screw up.

As to Giambi's limitations, it's not like these weren't known from the start. That's why getting Justice and signing Hatteberg made little sense. And even with Justice coming back, he's not likely to be a more productive DH than Giambi.

Of course, I'm more than willing to say that Beane has been at best a mixed-bag since the end of last season. Getting Justice was a reasonable gamble but definitely a gamble, and the only position he's fit for these days is DH but the A's already had a ton of those. Signing Hatteberg made no sense given they had Myers under contract and he was just adding to the glut of DH's. Giving guaranteed contracts to 2 lefty relievers then picking up a 3rd made no sense. Long-term contracts to Long and Hernandez were questionable at best and he overpaid for Dye (wouldn't Damon at $8-9 M look good in an A's uni right now). Now this trade.

On the plus side, he's got the Pena trade and signing Zito and Mulder (or was it Hudson?).
   148. Steve Treder Posted: May 23, 2002 at 04:09 PM (#118324)
"I'd say Mabry is an older, slower version of Jay Payton."

No, he isn't. Payton is a center fielder, and Mabry never has been. Mabry has never been as good as Payton.

Mabry is a marginal player, teetering on the brink of slipping below replacement level. He's waiver wire fodder.

"I suggest that people might not be giving enough weight to the budgetary significance of this move. (Though I too wonder why Beane wouldn't have wanted a prospect rather than a salaried vet like Mabry)."

But Toby, you yourself point out how this deal doesn't even work as a budgetary move. It doesn't make sense from that angle.

Obviously the deal doesn't improve the A's on-field talent, and just as obviously there were better ways for the A's to cut costs. So therefore the only logical conclusion to draw is that (a) it was simply a blunder, an egregious error committed by an organization that has no track record for making such errors, or (b) it was done to serve some other purpose that isn't visible to us.
   149. scruff Posted: May 23, 2002 at 04:20 PM (#118327)
Payton for Giambi would have been a steal for Phillips, and a much better deal for Beane.

For one, Payton can play defense, at least adequately. I wouldn't say that he's worth Giambi by a longshot, but ANYONE would have been better than Mabry.

He's better than John Mabry. There are probably hundreds of players in AAA that are better hitters than John Mabry. Just about anyone in the Sickles book would have been a better choice, and there are roughly 1400 players in that book.
   150. Greg Franklin Posted: May 23, 2002 at 04:56 PM (#118332)
Charles, thanks for the WS figures. You wouldn't think a Mabryesque player could have collected 43 WS. That's a lot of front office people to fool.

To chime in on the sports radio topic, I caught the webcast of the Bay Area sports radio station (KNBR) that afternoon, and the #1 hot topic was Rich Aurilia going in for surgery. Giambi trade followed.

If the NBA draft had any possibility of going right for the Warriors, they might have discussed that ahead of Giambi.
   151. WaltDavis Posted: May 23, 2002 at 04:56 PM (#118333)
I suggest that people might not be giving enough weight to the budgetary significance of this move.

That's because there is no budgetary significance to this move. It saves them maybe $300-400,000. No baseball team is that desparate. If the A's were that desparate for cash, they never would have signed Hatteberg or Holtz; they wouldn't have traded for Justice; they would have traded Justice instead of Giambi; they wouldn't have just signed Zito to a long-term contract; or at least they would have traded Giambi for a cheaper bag of balls than John Mabry.

Mabry doesn't help in any way, his sole "asset" is that he's willing to stand near 3B if you ask him -- something both Piatt and Saenz are willing to do and probably Menechino if you explained the alternative -- so why would an organization so desparate for cash be willing to pay someone $300-400,000 to do something they don't need for the next 4 months?

Shoot, Giambi for Keith Lockhart ("proven" pinch-hitter, possible platoon 2B) would make more sense than this. Of course, he makes $100,000 more than Mabry. So maybe Giambi for Wes Helms ($250,000).

To sum up, there are potentially lots of reasons for the A's to want to get rid of Giambi, from the true and clearly justifiable (they have too many DH's) to the possibly true and possibly justifiable (he's a clubhouse cancer), but none of those reasons justify trading him for Mabry.

There may indeed be a good reason for this trade, one that doesn't show up in the stats, but that may also be true of many other deals (made by guys like Thrift, Kenny Williams, etc.) that are criticized here. There is no "non-stat" which would be a good reason for this trade. This is a bad trade.

There is a difference between an explanation and an excuse. Giambi doing something awful may _explain_ this trade, but it doesn't _excuse_ this trade. And there is absolutely nothing that could explain or excuse getting Mabry in this deal. Beane screwed up. Even if you believe removing Giambi from the A's clubhouse this instant was the best thing for the team, Beane screwed up -- at the very worst, Beane should outright him which gets him out of the clubhouse but gives Beane 10 days to find somebody to trade him to ... and Beane couldn't possibly have done worse in such a trade.

And please, Thrift? Do you honestly think that string of horrendous moves are justified by "non-statistical" reasons? Why not just accept the fact that there are bad GM's out there, ones whose talent evaluation skills do not produce winning baseball? Why is it hard to believe that a bunch of computer nerds have the ability to demonstrate just how bad those moves have been?

People jump on GM's when they show an obvious lack of player evaluation and money management skills. Allard Baird didn't talk about psychology when he traded Jermaine Dye, he talked about his belief that Dye was too expensive and that a no-hit, good defense (and soon to be expensive) SS is a vital piece of a winning team (and demonstrated an ignorance about Coors impact on offense). He was wrong on all counts. Why shouldn't everyone say so?

So where's the inconsistency? Is anyone here, other than the GM apologists, calling this a defensible trade? Not that I see. The statheads all seem to think this is a very bad trade.

The only difference is that Beane is a GM with a good track record of player evaluation, therefore it seems very unlikely that he would make a player evaluation mistake of this magnitude. Therefore, he most likely made this trade for some other reason. That other reason doesn't make this a good trade, it just explains why Beane made the mistake he did.

Were a GM like Baird to make a move like this, say when he gave away a yet unproven Jeremy Giambi for Sal Fasano, it is one of a string of moves that demonstrate poor player evaluation. So, perfectly reasonably, it is treated as such and no other explanations are looked for.
   152. scruff Posted: May 23, 2002 at 04:59 PM (#118334)
I think Billy Beane has jumped the shark.
   153. Steve Treder Posted: May 23, 2002 at 05:28 PM (#118339)
"You wouldn't think a Mabryesque player could have collected 43 WS."

Well, almost all of them were collected a long time ago.

John Mabry Win Shares
   154. Steve Treder Posted: May 23, 2002 at 05:41 PM (#118341)
Oh, what the heck:

Jay Payton Win Shares
   155. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 23, 2002 at 05:43 PM (#118342)
Toby : <I>Maybe this is just a bad move.
   156. Toby Posted: May 23, 2002 at 05:52 PM (#118343)
Let me put it this way:

If Giambi were making $6 million, we would recognize this as a salary dump.

He's making $1.5 million, as I understand it. At what point in between $6M and $1.5M do we cease to recognize this as a possible salary dump? Probably somewhere between $3M and $6M, for most of us. In NORMAL TIMES.

But a work stoppage looms over baseball, and many of baseball's teams, the A's included, might well be in financial trouble. Maybe cutting every last $500,000 will prove to be prudent.

People here like to pretend that every team in baseball is awash in black ink, but the only real evidence of this is that Bud Selig asserts otherwise (and everything Bud says is a lie). Therefore, people here like to pretend that saving $500K means nothing.

Which is more likely: Billy Beane made an inexplicably idiotic move, or Billy Beane sees the need to do some serious belt-tightening? I'll go with the latter.
   157. All you Need is Glove Posted: May 23, 2002 at 06:01 PM (#118344)
Rich C,

Actually Giambi/Mabry does not equal infinity, division by zero does not exist.
   158. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: May 23, 2002 at 06:03 PM (#118345)
The argument against the salary dump is that Beane could have saved even more money by trading for a minor leaguer or two (and gotten better value). Or, to bring it up again, by all appearences he could have sent him to the Mets for Payton (who's only making $362,500) and gotten a marginally better player back. Maybe Beane just went to b-r and played with the "random player" until he got a current major leaguer.
   159. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 23, 2002 at 06:06 PM (#118346)
"To sum up, there are potentially lots of reasons for the A's to want to get rid of Giambi, from the true and clearly justifiable (they have too many DH's) to the possibly true and possibly justifiable (he's a clubhouse cancer), but none of those reasons justify trading him for Mabry."

There is one possible reason: no one would offer anything better. In this case, that might even mean that no one would offer to take Giambi for NOTHING. Beane may have prefaced his offer of Giambi with an honest disclosure of why he wanted to dump him. In that case, Beane's best offer may have been: "We'll take your burden for you, but in return you've got to take our burden that is costing us $500K per year."

In order for that to be true, Giambi would have to be one serious burden, and we have only a few, inadequate puzzle pieces that even begin to suggest that (pot bust, a few allegations of tiffs between Beane and Giambi). Perhaps this scenario is not all that likely, but it is a reasonable scenario, and I wonder is somehow things really are that bad.
   160. Steve Treder Posted: May 23, 2002 at 06:11 PM (#118347)
"Which is more likely: Billy Beane made an inexplicably idiotic move, or Billy Beane sees the need to do some serious belt-tightening? I'll go with the latter."

Fine, but if you go with the latter, why didn't Beane do one of any number of other things he could do to tighten his belt even more seriously? Even if the deal is just a salary dump, it's still a bad one on those grounds alone.
   161. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 23, 2002 at 06:15 PM (#118349)
...and if Gammons doesn't know, he will make something up.
   162. scruff Posted: May 23, 2002 at 06:25 PM (#118350)
"He appears to be peaking with a .390 obp and .470 slg, which puts him on par with Mark Grace the last couple years (though not this year), hardly a darling of the sabermetric community."

Grace isn't a darling of the sabermetric community, but we think he's a hell of a lot better than John Mabry.

We realize Grace is a pretty good player, just not the stud the typical baseball fan thinks he is because he's got a nice BA and he's a "gamer".

I'd be up in arms if Grace were traded for Mabry as well.

I'd be up in arms if ANY 27-year old player were traded for Mabry. I wouldn't give up 1 player in the Sickles book for Mabry.

I wouldn't give the six-pack of Corona mentioned above for John Mabry.

To say the Braves wouldn't give up a mediocre AA pitcher for Giambi is ludicrous. That's much better than having to take on John Mabry's salary, even if it is the league minimum, assuming this is a dump (I still doubt it is).

This just doesn't make any sense at all. Not on any level. I still stick with it as the worst "at the time" trade I've ever seen.

Mabry is not even worth the roster spot he's taking. We're talking about a corner OF that hasn't had an OBP over .300 since 1998. His SLG hasn't been higher than .401 since 1996.

I hate to rip him like that. He's a nice guy. He's from Delaware and I hang out in Delaware a lot. He went to West Chester U. in PA, near where I used to live. He was college roommates with a friend of mine actually. But he's useless as a major league baseball player. Absolutely useless. I stand by the opinion that this is the worst at the time trade ever.
   163. WaltDavis Posted: May 23, 2002 at 06:32 PM (#118351)
People here like to pretend that every team in baseball is awash in black ink, but the only real evidence of this is that Bud Selig asserts otherwise (and everything Bud says is a lie). Therefore, people here like to pretend that saving $500K means nothing.

Actually, the real evidence is quite strong. We have the Forbes analysis which is based on financial analysis and information from the teams. We have the fact that baseball revenues are going through the roof and increasing at a faster pace than payroll. We have the fact that the A's payroll this year isn't very much more than it was in raw dollars about 10 years ago, yet their revenues (even by baseball's admission) have more than doubled in that time. We have the fact that no baseball team has ever been sold at a loss.

Besides that, according to MLB's own numbers, the A's made $3.4 M last year. Forbes puts it at $6.8 M. Everyone's agreed that the A's are in the black.

But, even if you're right, why not save $1 million instead of 500 k (or as pointed out $700 k vs. $350 k)? Why not trade Justice for nothing? Why not swap Velarde for Mabry? Why sign Zito just a couple weeks ago, with a work stoppage looming over baseball?

And do you really think $500 k makes the difference between bankruptcy and solvency for a franchise valued (by both MLB and Forbes) at $160 M with 2001 revenues of $80 M?
   164. Mike Posted: May 23, 2002 at 06:37 PM (#118353)
Is this a record-long thread?
   165. bob mong Posted: May 23, 2002 at 06:57 PM (#118356)
though you probably mean "Mr. Beane"

<i>Additionally,it's easy for us to say, "Beane should have gone out and found a better deal", when we don't actually have to make it. There are 29 teams for Beane to bargain with under ideal circumstances, but this number is reduced by:
   166. Bud in SF Posted: May 23, 2002 at 07:01 PM (#118358)
Good god, I haven't seen this much collective angst since Chewbacca was traded for Jar Jar Binks.

I'll bet the hangover is gonna be a doozy ...
   167. theboyqueen Posted: May 23, 2002 at 07:05 PM (#118361)
maybe beane tried trading giambi for marcus giles or cliff floyd or luis castillo and got turned down so he gave giambi to the phillies out of spite?
   168. scruff Posted: May 23, 2002 at 07:10 PM (#118362)
ARon - Giambi is well above replacement level, even for a DH.

He was 4th among AL DH's in XWins and offensive W% (5th if you count Canseco in 76 G). His OW% was .608. He's a very good hitter. A replacement level DH is in the low .400's. You know, someone like Scott Hatteberg :-)

Mabry's offensive W% was .414 and he's 4 years older. That's why this is the worst trade ever.

Scott Hatteberg had a .394 OW% in 2001. This year he's been better, but his OPS is about .150 below Little G. Trade him for Mabry.

At 1B, I'd say Giambi is adequate. Below average, but nowhere near so much that it offsets his offense.

You need to get more for a guy that would be one of the 4 or 5 best DH's in the league who is only 27 years old.

Let me re-phrase that. You need to get something for such a player. That's why this trade is so awful.
   169. WaltDavis Posted: May 23, 2002 at 07:10 PM (#118363)
Regarding the "maybe Beane couldn't get anything better/cheaper" argument, about all I can say is that, if true, it might partially excuse Beane but it would indict the other 29 GM's as idiots. Oops, sorry, 28 as Wade definitely doesn't qualify as an idiot on this deal. OK, maybe not all 28 as those who are set with really good 1B, DH, and corner OF might be off the hook. So that would leave us with, what, 26 GM's as idiots. :-)

But according to Ed Wade, Beane called him and made the offer. Wade didn't say anything about Beane trying to get a prospect or a cheaper player. It's hard to believe that Beane has spent the last few days calling GM's without rumors being started. It seems more than a bit coincedental that they'd make this trade on the same day they decide to shake up much of the rest of the roster without some connection between the two (i.e. similar motives).
   170. Greg Pope Posted: May 23, 2002 at 07:21 PM (#118365)
Did you read today Daily Prospectus? Sheehan says that the trade is so obviously terrible that it's inviting speculation. It seems like he's saying that Beane was forced to trade Giambi, so he made the worst deal that he could, hoping that the real reasons would be uncovered.
   171. WaltDavis Posted: May 23, 2002 at 07:21 PM (#118366)
Regarding the "maybe Beane couldn't get anything better/cheaper" argument, about all I can say is that, if true, it might partially excuse Beane but it would indict the other 29 GM's as idiots. Oops, sorry, 28 as Wade definitely doesn't qualify as an idiot on this deal. OK, maybe not all 28 as those who are set with really good 1B, DH, and corner OF might be off the hook. So that would leave us with, what, 26 GM's as idiots. :-)

But according to Ed Wade, Beane called him and made the offer. Wade didn't say anything about Beane trying to get a prospect or a cheaper player. It's hard to believe that Beane has spent the last few days calling GM's without rumors being started. It seems more than a bit coincedental that they'd make this trade on the same day they decide to shake up much of the rest of the roster without some connection between the two (i.e. similar motives).
   172. JimMusComp likes Billy Eppler.... Posted: May 23, 2002 at 07:29 PM (#118367)
-Maybe Beane is the one with the drug problem.

-John Sherhoultz must have been asleep at the wheel on this one. He could offer a box of baseballs for Giambi and been in contention. I can't fathom how Beane didn't get more for Mabry.

-I think this signals another Philly move is in the works. I wonder if Burrell could move back to third (his college position). We could see Rolen packaged with Glanville or Lee to get pitching or a big bat. Byrd could come up and play center, leaving LF, 3b, and 1b to be manned by some combination of the left overs.

Just some thoughts...
   173. Robert Dudek Posted: May 23, 2002 at 07:29 PM (#118368)
The not trading him to an AL team theory is nonsensical.

1) The Phillies can trade him tommorrow to any team they want.
   174. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 23, 2002 at 07:34 PM (#118370)
I think it's awfully presumptuous to "guarantee" what Beane would have been offered from anybody.
   175. bob mong Posted: May 23, 2002 at 07:37 PM (#118371)
$1 million for a bench guy is pretty steep for maybe 25 clubs.

well, according to baseball-reference, last year...

Atlanta paid: $1.1 million to Rico Brogna to play in 72 games, $1.5 million to Dave Martinez to accumulate 240 AB, and $3.9 million to Quilvio Veras to play in 71 games.
   176. bob mong Posted: May 23, 2002 at 07:42 PM (#118372)
I forgot to mention, but in compiling that list I only looked at NL teams (going with the somewhat unlikely assumption that Beane was only willing to trade Giambi out of the AL).
   177. WaltDavis Posted: May 23, 2002 at 07:55 PM (#118376)
$1 million for a bench guy is pretty steep for maybe 25 clubs.

You're joking right? The A's alone have 4 bench players making .8 to 1 M. Limiting to bench position players:

Orlando Palmeiro -- $1 M
   178. bob mong Posted: May 23, 2002 at 08:04 PM (#118377)
You know, the more I think about this, the more it seems that, for whatever reason, the most important factor in this deal was speed.

Judging from Wade's comments, Beane's comments, and the whole rest of the situation, it really looks like Wednesday afternoon, all of a sudden, Beane had to get Giambi out of the As organization right that minute.

   179. WaltDavis Posted: May 23, 2002 at 08:06 PM (#118378)
the "not trade him to the AL" theory also doesn't hold water for this simple reason: if Giambi was so good that trading him to an AL team would come back to haunt the A's, then he's good enough to bring more in trade with an NL team than Mabry. If he wasn't that good, then what's the harm in trading him to an AL team? Maybe Beane overvalued Giambi ... but if that was the case, that he could only get Mabry would have certainly woken him up to that fact.

On the BP piece, I read it as being critical of Beane -- that he traded Giambi for some nefarious doings on Giambi's part but instead of doing it in a manner that would let Giambi get on with his career, he did it in a manner that would keep people digging until they found the dirt on Giambi.
   180. Pete Sommers Posted: May 23, 2002 at 08:09 PM (#118379)
Sorry to interrupt, but this is exciting news...Shawn Green just hit his 4th homer. His box score line: 6 6 6 7.

Ok. Back to Giambi trade talk.
   181. Kurt Posted: May 23, 2002 at 08:13 PM (#118380)
After watching the Seventh Heaven episode this morning where Ruthie starts a petition to reinstate a fired teacher and accuses the prinipal of racism, only to find out that the teacher had breast cancer and was taking a leave of absence, I'm starting to come around to the idea that -we shouldn't kill Beane until (if) all the facts come out. For all we know Giambi has breast cancer or something.
   182. Steve Treder Posted: May 23, 2002 at 08:15 PM (#118382)
I find it kind of interesting that the concept that some off-the-field issue could be the motivation behind this deal seems to be rejected out of hand by some posters. Apparently the logic seems to be that if we don't know about something, it can't exist, or perhaps that things like that just don't happen in baseball.

Well, why don't they happen in baseball? As someone pointed out, there are all kinds of episodes in the real world in which people are fired/transferred/demoted etc., and the cover story is vague and discreet, and the real issue is some kind of a personal situation (very likely involving sexual infidelity and/or some kind of illegal activity, such as drugs) that, for everyone involved, it's better to just keep private. Why would baseball be immune from such situations?

Of course this is all speculation. Of course speculation is not knowledge. But this isn't a scientific inquiry here. I think to automatically rule out that a transaction as strange on its face as this one (or to take another case, the Bobby Estalella dumping last year) could have at least part of its motivation being some kind of personal scandal is just not realistic.
   183. RP Posted: May 23, 2002 at 08:22 PM (#118384)
Green is now 6 for 6 w/4 HRs.
   184. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: May 23, 2002 at 08:31 PM (#118388)
BTW, yes, this is the longest thread for # of posts, although the infamous "Thread That Wouldn't Die" may have been longer in terms of words - that was a Hall of Fame debate that mutated a few times, with a lot of LONG posts.

Two points: 1)There seems to be a consensus that Giambi for Payton would have been a better trade for the A's, and I can't believe Phillips wouldn't have done it - although I could see that Payton's bad baserunning/bad attitude might have turned Beane off. But that's 1 better trade that was available - and that's without even trying hard. Where's the unnamed GM who was complaining about the Scott Strickland/Bruce Chen trade?

2) I was amazed by Rob Neyer's column. He reviews Beane's questionable trades in the past, and concludes he's never had a truly bad one. Fine. But then he tries to justify the trade by saying that, based on his track record, Beane knows what he's doing. Uh, Rob, the issue isn't getting rid of Giambi - it's doing it for so little in return that it looks bad. I don't think Beane has earned a pass on this one.

I'm also laughing because Joe Sheehan has to write about Shawn Green tomorrow. That's what you get for making blanket statements. I did think his column on Giambi was pretty good, though.
   185. Dag Nabbit at Posted: May 23, 2002 at 08:33 PM (#118389)
Regarding the theory that Mabry was the best Beane could get for Jeremy. . . If so, so what? That's no excuse. If you can't trade him for anything better than John Freakin' Mabry, then sit on Giambi. At least you can get some value out of Jeremy - that's more than can be said for John Freakin' Mabry. Even if Jeremy's about to be arrested for the Levin murder, or animal molestation, or crimes against humanity or whatever - the A's could at least have gotten a little bit out of Giambi 'til the [unknown off-field problem] came to light. I mean, John Freakin' Mabry?
   186. Sharkbyte Posted: May 23, 2002 at 08:46 PM (#118392)
Steve - What seems surprising is that any off-field issue wouldn't leak into the media, either before the deal happened or immediately afterward to explain why the deal was made. I don't think most people would be surprised to find out there is such a reason...but until it surfaces, we're left to either speculate as to what it was (which has certainly been done by a lot of people discussing the topic), or try to figure out why the deal was made if there wasn't one.
   187. Robert Dudek Posted: May 23, 2002 at 08:47 PM (#118393)

I see your point. But I believe that Giambi is a much better hitter than Lesher,or Mottola. Since Shannon Stewart is now going to be a DH, Giambi is about as good a hitter as Shannon at a much lower cost. Rmemerber Oakland is a pithcer's park and Skydome favors hitters.

1 million is cheap - you can flip that kind of salary easily.

In any case, Ricicardi could flip Giambi or Stewart for some pithcing and that would certainly address a need. It's often a good idea to accumulate surplus talent that you can later trade for what you need.

Heck, Chris Woodward is a better, younger player than John Mabry.
   188. bob mong Posted: May 23, 2002 at 08:57 PM (#118396)
From Rob Neyer's analysis of this trade:

Now we've got Jeremy Giambi for John Mabry, which will almost certainly be lopsided in terms of eventual Win Shares. Giambi is 27 and he can hit: Mabry is 31 and he cannot hit.

So far, so good. Makes sense.

But how good a player is Giambi, really? He's a terrible baserunner. Historically terrible. He's a terrible outfielder, to the point where pitchers cringe when they see his name next to LF on the lineup card.

He can't be that terrible; he doesn't get thrown out trying to steal and the As weren't afraid to lead him off for the first two months of the season. And regarding his fielding, that is why they invented the DH, and what about 1B? that's where Mo Vaughn, Frank Thomas, and other bad-field/good-hit players have done time in the past.
   189. Darren Posted: May 23, 2002 at 08:59 PM (#118397)
I think people may be taking Wade's comments the wrong way. The writer actually says that the phone rang and Beane offered Giambi. We don't hear what else was said in between, or what he might have been initially offered for. Additionally, Wade refers to Giambi being "in play" which suggests that he may have been one of a few guys mentioned or that there was at least some negotiation going on before the final deal was reached.

What we shouldn't conclude is that Beane called up and immediately said "Giambi for Mabry, what do you think?"
   190. Robert Dudek Posted: May 23, 2002 at 09:14 PM (#118399)
I think it would be wrong to expect Little G to develop like his big brother at age 28. Nevertheless, guys who can get on base and who can hit with some power are valuable. By definition.

I honestly don't understand what Rob Neyer is thinking. His case seems to be that Giambi isn't as good as some people think and you've gotta assume Beane knows what he's doing.

   191. bob mong Posted: May 23, 2002 at 09:26 PM (#118400)
I think it would be wrong to expect Little G to develop like his big brother at age 28.

Agreed, Robert.
   192. bob mong Posted: May 23, 2002 at 09:32 PM (#118403)
so he vindictively hurt the organization by getting the A's a useless player with no potential. Then he would resign his post as GM soon after.

I can't imagine this occurring unless he never wanted to work in baseball again.
   193. WaltDavis Posted: May 23, 2002 at 09:46 PM (#118408)
I'm missing something in the Giambi for Payton musing -- who would play center? Are we talking about moving Cedeno to center and putting Giambi in left? Yikes, even I'm scared by that defensive scenario. Or would Cedeno take a seat and Timo would play center?

Neyer's defense was pretty weak and I'm disappointed to see him defend it. His defense comes down to "how good a player is Giambi really?" which is at best a defense of getting rid of him but it's no defense of getting nothing more than Mabry. Sure, his career slugging %age is only 423, but it was 450 last year and 471 so far this year. His OPS (age) since 1999 has gone 741 (24), 761 (25), 841 (26), and 861 (27, this year). Gee, who ever heard of a player reaching their peak at age 27 and maintaining that level for a few years?

At age 26 and 27, Jason had OPSs of 857 and 871, not much different than his brother's. This is not to say that Jeremy will turn out like Jason (though their career trajectories seem eerily similar), it's to say that Beane trading Jason in the middle of 1998 would have made about as much sense as trading Jeremy now. Jason Giambi for John Mabry might well have been the worst trade ever.

And a number of A's have serious baserunning and fielding deficiencies, so if that's now Neyer's criteria for "not that good really", then he's got to be down on many of Beane's other deals....which would contradict the thesis that this trade can't be as bad as it looks because Beane is one of the best GM's. If Giambi's defense counteracts his 850 OPS, doesn't Long's defense counteract his 750 OPS, and what could possibly justify Ramon Hernandez whose defense seems adequate at best (CS% under 30%)? Did Adam Piatt turn into a defensive wiz when I wasn't looking? Does Scott Hatteberg have a degree from the Rick Reuschel School of Artful Baserunning for Slow Guys? And of course the only reason Giambi ever saw LF was because Beane has the team stocked with hitters who can't play defense. If he's worthless, what are Justice, Hatteberg, Saenz, Piatt worth?

In short, if Giambi is worth this little, so are most of the rest of the A's, and we'd have to conclude that Billy Beane is a mediocre GM at best.

By the way, here's what Rob had to say about Giambi's baserunning earlier this year:

"But Jeremy Giambi will do just fine. He's slow -- Strat-O-Matic says Jeremy's a 10 -- but he's no tree sloth."

In 2000, he said this:

Rob Neyer: A fair number of evaluators don't like Giambi because he's slow and really doesn't have a position. Well, one might have said the same of Harmon Killebrew, and last I checked he had his own plaque in Cooperstown. If Brett Laxton winds up having a better career than Jeremy Giambi, I'll eat my Springfield Isotopes cap.

OK, he's right that he's better than Laxton, but one shouldn't toss around Killer comparisons lightly.
   194. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: May 23, 2002 at 09:57 PM (#118411)
As the Payton freak, my argument was based on my understanding that Phillips would like nothing better than to get Payton out of town, because of his general suckitude and because Phillips dislikes his attitude (the whole bit about not congratulating McEwing after the home run). That's the impression I've been getting - one sportswriter's analysis was that Payton was playing so bad that the Mets couldn't get anything back for him. I thought Timo was starting over Payton anyway. You could move Cedeno (although that would terrify your pitchers), sit Cedeno and start Timo, or just use Giambi as a 4th OF/backup 1B.
   195. Robert Dudek Posted: May 23, 2002 at 09:59 PM (#118412)

You've made excellent points. I guess we are left to conclude that this is Rob Neyer's philosophy: if Beane acquires a player he must be better than most people think and if he deals them they must be worse than most people think.
   196. Shredder Posted: May 23, 2002 at 10:03 PM (#118413)
Rob Neyer's defense of Beane is like going to a great restaurant, run by one of your favorite chefs, ordering your favorite item, getting a horrible meal, and saying "Well, even thow I'm about to go throw up this pile of dog food, the Chef must have known what he was doing." I find it interesting that he can go face to face (or at least ear to ear) with Bud Selig and not be intimidated (I mean, as much as we all hate him, he IS the Commissioner), yet Beane makes a horrible trade and he comes off sounding afraid to criticize.
   197. Charles Saeger Posted: May 23, 2002 at 10:17 PM (#118414)
I look at most of what Neyer said and say, "So what?"

Giambi is a terrible baserunner. So is Mabry.

Giambi is a terrible fielder. Mabry isn't as bad, but he isn't good either.

Giambi can hit. He isn't a great hitter. John Mabry can't hit.

What we really have is a large difference in hitting ability against a small difference in fielding and baserunning ability. What's more, John Mabry is not good enough to play left field or run the bases every day -- he too needs a defensive replacement and a pinch runner.

Neyer has chosen to focus on a player's negatives, which isn't the right focus, especially here since Mabry has the same negatives as Giambi, only to a lesser degree. Focusing on the positives, we have a player in his prime who can hit some versus a player past his prime who cannot hit at all. John Mabry cannot hit, cannot field and cannot run the bases, and is at the age where he will lose what little value he has (which is zero, so this is meaningless). Jeremy Giambi cannot field or run the bases, but he can hit and will retain that value for the next few years, making him infinitely more valuable than John Mabry.

The not only would Giambi being such a bad influence on his teammates that he causes them to play markedly worse justify the trade. I know the A's are not playing well this year, but they did play well the past two seasons with Giambi, and the Royals did not improve when they lost Giambi. Even if this were so, John Mabry would need to have a significant ability to improve his teammates' performance, something he has yet to show.

Not even doing something morally reprehensible would justify this. He could have Chandra Levy's and Osama bin Laden's numbers on speed dial and I still would not make this move. I would not make this move were I to have caught Giambi en flagrante with my dog, who has been dead since 1989.

When Giambi were either of the above scenarios true, you wouldn't trade him for John Mabry. You'd release him.

The cost of playing John Mabry is negative, since any knowledgeable observer would know he cannot perform any task on an MLB diamond except maybe a coaching job or bat boy. You're better off with some AAA guy of limited skills because you never know what he can do. If he cannot do the job, release him. Putting Mabry in the same slot probably gives you more of a chance to overplay him, due to the psychological value of having a track record. In any event, the AAA player costs less to waste a few months on the roster.

Trading Giambi isn't bad. Trading Giambi for his brother, obviously, is a good trade. Trading Giambi for Chris Singleton is a good trade, if Giambi really is such an awful influence. Trading Giambi for Ricky Bottalico would be a good trade if Giambi were a horrible person. All of these people have at least some potential value.

John Mabry has no value. That is the issue. And by focusing on nothing but Giambi, Rob Neyer twisted the issues to defend Billy Beane where no reasonable defense is possible.
   198. Dag Nabbit at Posted: May 23, 2002 at 10:19 PM (#118416)
"I find it interesting that he can go face to face (or at least ear to ear) with Bud Selig and not be intimidated (I mean, as much as we all hate him, he IS the Commissioner), yet Beane makes a horrible trade and he comes off sounding afraid to criticize."

I think your overstating talk with Selig. Rob pretty much admitted in his column that the conversation with Bud didn't go that well, as he was asked point blank to name one time an owner ever lied, and couldn't think of one. Also, Selig controlled the entire talk as Rob never got to ask him the questions he wanted to. Also, after the talk ended he spent the rest of the weeks slagging the players union as much as he did the owners, & while I'm not arguing Fehr doesn't deserve to be slagged on, this doesn't really add up to going face-to-face with Selig. ("I'll show the commish! I'll get pushed around by him in a phone conversation, and then write a column or two attacking union leadership! Ha ha ha!" - uh, no). I like Rob's work usually (though not today's column), but confrontation isn't his strong point.
   199. DTS Posted: May 23, 2002 at 10:20 PM (#118417)
Shredder, great analogy.

Neyer's column shocked and disappointed me. If any other team "got tired of waiting to find out" about a hitter like Giambi, that GM would have been mocked unmercifully. Got tired of waiting? For what? A .390 OBP/.490 Slugger?

In fact, I'm similarly disappointed in Neyer as I am in Beane.
   200. DTS Posted: May 23, 2002 at 10:29 PM (#118419)
Let it die, just let it die. I can't.

The A's traded, among those who have played all season, their leading guy in EQA: .306 (just last week in his chat, Neyer said EQA was an excellent indicator of offensive prowess), their leader in EQR, their leader in RAR, and leader in RARP. These numbers are available here:

The A's traded for Mabry. EQA: .226 with 1.8 EQRs and negative value in all the replacement categories.

I can't let it die. I just can't.
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