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Giants courting shortstop Alex Gonzalez

Dec 1, 2011, 6:11 PM EDT

Alex Gonzalez Getty Images

This isn’t good news for the National League’s worst offense.

According to both ESPN Deportes and’s Ken Rosenthal, the Giants are talking to Alex Gonzalez about becoming their new shortstop.

Gonzalez, who turns 35 in February, hit .241/.270/.372 with 15 homers, 56 RBI and a dreadful 126/22 K/BB ratio in 564 at-bats for the Braves last season. He remains an above average defender, with sure hands and excellent footwork making up for a lack of elite range. However, his history of dreadful OBPs weighs on his value, and the Giants last year finished last in the NL in both OBP and runs scored.

With Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins in free agency, there are a pair of shortstops available capable of providing a genuine lift to the San Francisco offense. The Giants, though, don’t seem prepared to spend what it would take to secure either. For that reason, they could conceivably again finish second in the majors in ERA and miss the postseason next year.

  1. clydeserra - Dec 1, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    This is a Brian Sabean performance art piece, right? He has been building this “only sign guys over 35” thing for years and at some point he is going to go for the great reveal, right?

  2. tashkalucy - Dec 1, 2011 at 6:44 PM


    I’ve tried to slow down posting here because I cannot help but be sarcastic reading the articles here that are supposed to pass for something to do with MLB.

    I feel you’ve been totally professional and are the only writer worth reading. You do your DD and inform readers of situations based on how professional baseball people – and fans that have watched the sport for at least 2 years and have a maturity level above that of a junior high school student that has failed at least 2 years of school and should be in high school – view what is happening in the sport.

    I’ll try to stick with your articles.

    Have been a MLB fan for well over 50 years and love the sport. Am looking forward to reading your work at a solid baseball site within the next few years, as you move on to a creditable organization.

    Solid, solid work always. Thanks from a lifelong baseball fan.

    • tashkalucy - Dec 1, 2011 at 7:04 PM

      P.S. Matthew……

      You might want to track down the comments Tony LaRussa made about OBP during the WS. He called it the most overrated stat of the past 10 years and said it had little to do with a team winning.

      Old line baseball people (going back to Ty Cobb and Branch Rickey, right through Casey Stengel – mentored by Cobb…..Billy Martin – mentored by Casey….and Lou Pinella – mentored by Billy) will tell you that it’s about defense up the middle and run production from the corners. Joe Morgan always said that the most important requirement of a 2B is fielding, especially the ability to turn the double play….any hitting was a bonus.

      Baseball has changed some. But the two positions that I would never give up defense for offense are: Catcher (the ability to call a game and handle a pitching staff is far more important to a team winning then compromising those skills because a guy can hit) and SS. A quality SS saves his team far more runs then if he was hitting .400. I don’t know how you put a stat on a SS that turns a double play on a ball that should have been a hit with runners on base. Good SS play turns games around – buoying pitchers during rough stretches, and allowing the teams manager not to have to reach and make risky moves to make up for a big inning that never happened.

      What the Giants need are a few run producers. Not OBP guys that wait on base for someone else to hit them in after hitting foul balls and working the pitcher for a walk (saber teams like the A’s and Indians are notorious having a line-up of guys that can get on base, but shrink when they have to ht guys in from scoring position). Baseball is a game where the runs determine who wins…not the number of guys that reach base. Run producers are worth their weight in gold in this screwball environment.

      • tashkalucy - Dec 1, 2011 at 7:25 PM

        And may I point out Matthew…..

        The last 2 WS were won by solid baseball managers that while using statistics, were not driven by them.

        The Giants and Cardinals had less impressive stats throughout the playoffs then their opponents, but they knew how to play good defense, move runners up, and get clutch hits.

        The more other teams overpay veteran players with good stats and encourage soft skills like getting on base as opposed to getting clutch hits in critical situations while putting low priorities on things like playing defense and running the bases, the easier they make it on teams like the Giants and Cardinals – teams with experienced managers that demand fundamental play – to win.

      • paperlions - Dec 1, 2011 at 8:19 PM

        Team that led the NL by a mile in OBP last year….the Cardinals….team that led the NL in scoring last year….the Cardinals. I only use them because you made up a quote and attributed it to TLR. The fact is that OBP is more highly correlated to runs scored than anything else you could measure about offense….it is like that every year, and has been since people started recording baseball stats.

        If you don’t think getting on base is the most important aspect of offensive performance, then you don’t know enough to have an intelligent conversation about the game of baseball. An analysis shouldn’t even be necessary, though many have been done. If you don’t get on base, you can’t score….and if you do get on base your team gets more ABs, creating more opportunities to score.

      • paperlions - Dec 1, 2011 at 8:25 PM

        …and would you quite making shit up, please. The Cardinals led all post season teams in many offensive categories….most notably in OBP, with a whopping .353 and in runs scored/game….they were also among the best teams in pitching during the post season.

        It has been some time since I have seen one write in such an arrogant and condescending manner while providing no evidence whatsoever for their opinions….and nearly always being so clearly wrong. Congrats.

      • tashkalucy - Dec 1, 2011 at 8:56 PM


        Making what up?

        Here is what Tony LaRussa said –

        “On-base percentage is one of the most dangerous concepts of the last seven, eight years because it forces some executives and coaches and players to think that it’s all about getting on base by drawing walks, and the fact is that the guys that have the best on-base percentage are really dangerous hitters whenever they get a pitch in the strike zone,” La Russa said.

        “So if the pitcher knows that and the catcher knows that, they work the edges, and pretty soon it’s 2-1, 2-1 rather than 0-1 all the time. … You watch your productive hitters in the big leagues, and they get a chance to drive in a run, they look for the first good strike, and the better the pitching, you get that first strike, that may be the last one that you get to see. So you’d better be ready to swing early.

        But that danger creates counts and deep — it’s not sitting up there and taking strike one, strike two so that you can work the count.”

      • baseballisboring - Dec 1, 2011 at 9:20 PM

        Top ten teams in runs scored in 2011:
        Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers, Tigers, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Reds, Rockies, DBacks, Royals.

        Top ten teams in OBP in 2011:
        Red Sox, Yankees, Cardinals. Tigers, Rangers, Mets, Rockies, Royals, Reds, Brewers.

        8 out of 10 ain’t bad. Of the two teams who didn’t make the OBP list, Arizona was 12th, and Toronto had Jose Bautista so they don’t count. Numbers don’t lie…you dolt.

      • clydeserra - Dec 1, 2011 at 9:24 PM

        Paperlions gave you the rundown. You should read about it more, you may find that it enhances your enjoyment of the game.

        I would like to address the tone of this place, I started reading shysterball because it was funny and not at all like the boiler plate “professional” sports writing. Most of those followers and the ones from HBT and the new ones here have embraced the way all the writers tell the stories. there are plenty of “professional” sports writers at yahoo, CBS, NBC, ESPN that will cater to your “by crackie, things were better when there was a reserve clause, we calculated batting average by hand and wore onions on our belts” preferences.

        usually when I don’t like something I read, I don’t read it again and leave it alone. I hope you do the same.

      • cur68 - Dec 1, 2011 at 9:26 PM

        It’s a quote from TLR from this:

        Note, that by the end of the article Chris St. John, pretty much discounts what TLR has to say: “There’s nothing to this, really…Whatever La Russa’s real thought process was during this quote, we may never know. I believe that walks are good and that the ability to make contact when a pitch is in the strike zone is good, but not that they are mutually exclusive.”

        Bit of an illustration on misusing OBP is all it is. When used properly, all you really need to know is good hitter swing at strikes and don’t at balls off the plate. Possibly TLR was more commenting on a “wag the dog” scenario rather than on OBP itself (don’t presume you can get deep into counts and work a pitcher to get on base)? Swing at the strikes only, don’t just let them go sailing past in an effort to make the pitcher work, which is of course logical, but with out LaRussa to ask, who can say from that quote?

        Why ‘lucy here has latched onto a quote that had its logic so thoroughly called into question is beyond me. Maybe he’s just a blow hard?

      • tashkalucy - Dec 1, 2011 at 9:28 PM

        ” Numbers don’t lie…you dolt.”


        You shouldn’t refer to Tony LaRussa that way.

        P.S. Baseball has always been a thinking persons sport. I can understand why it is boring to you.

        P.S.S. I’ll bet you just check the OBP stats and then ESPN for the highlights……as well as the juicy rumors on who the Red Sox and Yankees are going to overpay to play for them.

      • baseballisboring - Dec 1, 2011 at 9:38 PM

        1) Wasn’t referring to Tony La Russa.
        2) My user name is meant to be sarcastic. Why would I be posting on a baseball blog about ADVANCED stats (you know, the kind of stats that you have to read about, understand and get used to a little bit) if I didn’t like baseball?
        3) Nah…I watch games, highlights, and have plus 6 or 7 other baseball blogs under my favorites. Can’t imagine why someone who didn’t like baseball would randomly become obsessed with on base percentage.

      • tashkalucy - Dec 1, 2011 at 9:59 PM


        Let me see if I have this right……

        Some guy named Chris St. John discounts what a Hall Of Fame Manager that just won the WS with a team that next to nobody picked them to get to the WS when the playoffs started had to say?

        This is like reading an Ayn Rand novel. people that haven’t accomplished anything pass judgement on those that have and even when those people succeed the bashers get people to agree how wrong the successful people are.

        Ted Williams was possible the greatest hitter o all time, and wrote an epic book on hitting. His entire theory was that a batter would almost always get a pitch to hit in each at bat. And when you got it, you drove it. You didn’t foul it off so you could get a walk later. And Willias (as LaRussa did) pointed out that the pitch you get to drive might be the first pitch, and you should hit it.

        I see teams like the A’s and Indians that have hitters stand with their bats on their shoulders for at least the first pitch all the time. Their micro-managing front offices want them to “work the count”. That’s nonsense. Those guys don’t know how to hit in clutch situations because the majority of the time they”re at bat to just get on base. If you don’t practice something, then it’s harder to do it. DUH.

        Ted Williams had an astronomical OBP because pitchers were afraid to throw the ball over the plate to him. Just because Jamie Carroll has a high OBP does not make him a Ted Williams.

      • cur68 - Dec 1, 2011 at 10:35 PM

        This is Chris St. John;

        He’s a well known, respected contributing author to baseball discussion and analysis as well as an Engineer. Steal of Home is an excellent source for analysis. And St. John, unlike you, is not a know-it-all idiot.

        Just WTF are your bona fides for all this gibberish you keep spewing? Link it or its bullshit. Do you even watch baseball? Because if you do keep this in mind: we all do too and don’t appreciate your smarmy tone, sneering attitude and total commitment to your pigheaded stand on whatever it is you think you know.

        Why you would even take a quote from TLR and try and support something it doesn’t say is beyond me. You say this: “the comments Tony LaRussa made about OBP during the WS. He called it the most overrated stat of the past 10 years and said it had little to do with a team winning.” La Russa’s take on OBP and the use of the stat is in fact wrong unless he was referring to its misuse. No one could in fact tell what he meant from the quote, because the evidence is entirely the other way. I don’t know how you can take that TLR statement and arrive where you do.

      • JBerardi - Dec 1, 2011 at 11:47 PM

        “This is like reading an Ayn Rand novel. people that haven’t accomplished anything pass judgement on those that have and even when those people succeed the bashers get people to agree how wrong the successful people are.”

        God, there’s no troll like a Rndian troll. Go Galt already.

    • baseballisboring - Dec 1, 2011 at 9:26 PM

      And the point isn’t to go up to the plate looking to take a walk, or taking a pitch down the middle so you can work the count. It’s waiting for a pitch you can drive, and if you don’t get it, taking the walk and letting the guy behind you do the work. It’s been proven time and time again that OBP is the engine of nearly every good offense, and yet there are still flat-earthers out there who refuse to believe it. It’s just…frustrating. We’re not trying to say that every baseball fan, player, executive etc. back in the day were all idiots. It’s just that we have NEW information now, and why people are so willfully ignorant of it just confuses me.

      • tashkalucy - Dec 1, 2011 at 9:34 PM

        Oh, players are looking for pitches to drive?

        You watch games much?

        Players are looking to hit foul balls. It’s become an epidemic in MLB from average to below average hitters as a way for them to prop up their stats to stay in the league.

        OBP is “NEW” information. What, baseball started when you began following it? Branch Rickey was aware of it in the ’30’s and found t beneficial at times, but was never wedded to it. Earl Weaver was looking at computer stats and using them when Billy Beane was in elementary school. And Weaver believed in the 3 run homer and wanted his guys to swing away and not waste at bats hitting foul balls.

        Go play your fantasy baseball and computer games.

      • baseballisboring - Dec 1, 2011 at 9:47 PM

        Well. OBP isn’t new information, but the impact OBP has on an offense hadn’t been fully understood until like,10 years ago or so, and there’s even still some GM’s that don’t quite get it, and they’re the ones whose offenses are consistenly below average. Branch Rickey was wrong. So was Earl Weaver. And so are you. And you never did respond to the stat I posted earlier, about how of the top ten teams in runs scored this year, 8 out of 10 were also in the top ten of OBP. What do you think, coincidence? You ever read Jon Heyman? You’d probably like him a lot, maybe you should go post under some of his articles.

      • tashkalucy - Dec 1, 2011 at 9:48 PM

        I stand by my point……

        A SS with an OBP of .335 rather then .290 might mean he gets on base 3, 4 or maybe even 5 time a week more then a guy like Gonzalez.


        In ONE GAME there are often 3-5 opportunities for a sure handed SS that can make the above average play to keep the other teams guys off base, and to often turn a potential hit with runners on base to a double play – oftentimes short-circuiting a rally.

        Reading this blog is like talking to kids that never played the game telling guys that did play it how it works because they looked at the back of baseball cards all day.

        It’s like this, Einstein – one reason the Giants pitchers ERA’s are so low is because the GM puts a priority on defense and his everyday players making plays. DUH! And the position he’s supposed to look at to get more offense is SS? And you are calling me “ignorant”?

      • clydeserra - Dec 1, 2011 at 9:50 PM

        Its a good thing the cardinals were up there hacking in the 5th inning of Game 7. The would not have won if they had not been swinging their way to 2 runs on 0 hits.

      • clydeserra - Dec 1, 2011 at 10:01 PM

        tashkakucy: Why does playing the game make a difference? What level did you need to get to? DO you have those bona fides?

        If you want to read rob dibbles opinion , I sure its somewhere on the interenet

      • cur68 - Dec 1, 2011 at 10:04 PM

        ‘lucy, you got some ‘splainin to do. To wit, this:
        “Oh, players are looking for pitches to drive?” Yes, idjit, they are.

        How is the top teams in OBP also score the most runs? The players with the best OBP tend to be the best hitters, or didn’t you read the article I linked (and possibly the one you lifted the quote from)? Aaron Gleeman & Chris St. John do an admirable job of debunking what TLR said or at least reframing it so that it makes some bloody sense in the face of the friggin evidence. Just because TLR and you think you know bloody everything doesn’t make you or he right. I feel for your family. What an insufferable know-it-all jackass you must be to live with, if anyone can stand living with you, that is.

      • baseballisboring - Dec 1, 2011 at 10:05 PM

        And five guys in a lineup who have above average, as opposed to below average OBP’s will lead to (for argument’s sake) maybe 20, 25 extra base runners in a week. One low OBP, especially coming from SS, isn’t gonna sink you, but enough of them can kill you. I actually didn’t even bring up Gonzalez, I just felt compelled to jump into the OBP debate, but yeah, SS is obviously a weaker offensive position traditionally, I understand that. .270 is unacceptable unless you’re a damn good late inning defensive replacement who might get 200 at bats in a year.

        This almost makes me think you’re a troll –
        In one game there are often 3-5 opportunities for a sure handed SS that can make the above average play to *KEEP THE OTHER TEAMS GUYS OFF BASE*, and to often turn a potential hit with *RUNNERS ON BASE INTO A DOUBLE PLAY– OFTEN TIMES SHORT CIRCUITING A RALLY*.

        You’re explaining OBP in reverse. Oh my freaking god. And by the way, the Giants defense isn’t even good. Their pitching is, and that’s it.

      • cur68 - Dec 1, 2011 at 10:59 PM

        Actually ‘boring, ‘lucy has changed what he originally said. If you read the original post he’s all against OBP as a useful metric. Since his evident errors have been pointed out he’s now trying to claim “Oh I meant OBP is great: it’s the misuse of OBP: trying to influence the stat by letting strikes go by, that I’m against”. Can’t argue with this kind of willful stupidity. I think he believes we can’t read what he posted or won’t understand him.

      • paperlions - Dec 2, 2011 at 8:48 AM

        Yes, the “tail wagging the dog” comment is exactly what TLR meant. He thought it was a dangerous concept to push IF it resulted in players looking to take walks rather than looking to have good ABs….thinking, if you have good ABs (swing at strikes, lay off of balls, etc.), then it will result in a good OBP….and that OBP should be the result of the proper approach, not the focus of the approach.

        You know how much OBP has changed as a result of the increased awareness of it’s importance in scoring runs? It hasn’t really changed at all, it stays between .320 and .340 with some inter-annual variation and some trends related to ball composition and changes in ball park configurations. In other words, being aware that getting on base is important hasn’t changed the ability of players to do it or the ability of pitchers to prevent it….because it is a by-product of the approaches of hitters and pitchers and nothing more.

  3. Kyle - Dec 1, 2011 at 6:53 PM

    This is just absolutely hilarious. Classic Sabes.

  4. ducksouped - Dec 1, 2011 at 6:55 PM

    Come on Sabean. Your better than this. We have such a blatant need, that’s only remedied by a proven bat. More aging vets. Jeez.

  5. cyanocittacristata - Dec 1, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    Soo!! the great reclusive garden gnome of broke bat mountain is at it again. Sabian must have a big bag of pixie dust to sprinkle ownership blind with. Wow!

  6. goawaydog - Dec 1, 2011 at 8:40 PM

    I would rather see Crawford, he can’t hit either but would dance circles around this guy defensively at SS. Give the kid a legitimate shot.

  7. brownsbraves11 - Dec 1, 2011 at 9:45 PM

    I would love to move on from A-Gony but I’m really not sure what we would do at SS as an alternative…

  8. mojosmagic - Dec 1, 2011 at 10:44 PM

    Guess he figures Rollins isn’t worth 5 years and 60 million. And he isn’t.

  9. Walk - Dec 2, 2011 at 3:23 AM

    I have got to watch agon a lot while he played in nl east and yes he is slower than he used to be. Yep he strikes out a ton, but he can drive the ball and create some oppurtunities, i still think he is an ofensive liability, but he turns in some fantastic plays almost on a nightly basis. Compare him to what the giants have had to run out to short in the last few years and couple that with their pitching i think this might be a better pick up than one might otherwise think. But i have been wrong before. I can tell you though as a braves fan i did not care what he did on offense whan i saw him take away 2-3 hits seemingly on a nightly basis, one day and maybe that day has come and gone, he will not be able to do that any more. I can see him being a great coach though teaching positioning and footwork and that pop up slide he uses to kill his forward momentum and make accurate throws.

  10. Gamera the Brave - Dec 2, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    I hear that even Crawford’s hitting is starting to improve, with more ABs in the minors, and his AFL BA was about .271 if I recall correctly.
    If Crawford can give Los Gigantes .240 with 15 HR and his already excellent defense, that makes a lot more – and less expensive – sense to me. Crawford has upside, and I suspect he’s like Nate Schierholtz, who took 2-3 years to figure out how to hit ML pitching.

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