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Brian Sabean's Oh-for-Two

I was going to write today’s entry about the Chiefs’ win over The Fighting McAlisters, but that didn’t end up working out so well. For the second consecutive week, Trent Green & Co. lost a game they probably should’ve won, out-gaining the Saints in yardage (497-374), and dominating the Time Of Possession battle (35:44-24:16). But as was the story a week ago against the Buccaneers, turnovers ended up dooming Kansas City. They lost two fumbles (New Orleans fumbled twice but retained possession both times), Green threw two interceptions, and that was that. The Chiefs fell to 3-6, which essentially eliminates them from playoff contention. Regression to the mean is a horrible, horrible thing when it plagues your favorite sports team.

Needless to say, I’m very frustrated because of the game and because The Incredibles left quite a bit to be desired. San Francisco Giants GM Brian Sabean, however, gave me a person to take my frustrations out on with his signing of Omar Vizquel to a three-year contract worth $12.25 million. My problem doesn’t reside with Vizquel himself, because he’s still a pretty darned good defensive shortstop, and does a decent job of getting on base. My problem is with Sabean announcing the signing before the deadline at which a free agent’s former team must offer or decline that player arbitration. Sabean’s hastiness to get Vizquel under wraps before that deadline cost the Giants their 2005 first-round draft pick.

It’s one thing to sign a premier free agent whose former team was going to offer that player arbitration anyway, but it’s quite another to quick-sign Omar Vizquel, who Mark Shapiro certainly wasn’t going to offer arbitration to. But this isn’t the first time Sabean’s done this. Last year, the Royals were the beneficiary of Sabean’s idiocy when he signed another replacement-level player, Michael Tucker, before the deadline. Despite Allard Baird announcing to the world that he wasn’t going to offer any of his free agents arbitration, Sabean just had to sign Tucker 12 hours before that deadline, and the Royals used the Giants’ first-round pick on Matt Campbell. Sabean’s reason? That he didn’t want the selection, and the likely $1.5 million bonus price tag that came with it due to payroll limitations.

Perhaps I'm naive, but I just can't figure out why a team wouldn't want both the free agent and the draft pick when they could have both. And secondly, why would a team with payroll limitations spend $3.5 million on Michael Tucker, when his production could easily be replaced by a six-year minor league free agent who’s only lacking opportunity? I just don’t see the downside of losing Michael friggin’ Tucker to another team because you waited a few more hours to announce his signing.

Fast-forward to today, and Sabean’s committed the same crime for the second time, signing a replaceable Omar Vizquel for big money and forfeiting his team’s first rounder to Cleveland, who’ll probably put that pick to good use as the Royals did. Were the White Sox going to swoop in and take Vizquel from the Giants if Sabean waited any longer? Perhaps, but that isn’t something he should’ve lost any sleep over. Whether Sabean wants to admit it or not, the heart of every team’s success (or lack thereof) stems from its farm system. If he keeps this up, the Giants are going to end up hanging themselves when Vizquel, Barry Bonds, and J.T. Snow retire, because there won’t be any quality players coming up the ranks to capably replace them.

Other thoughts ...

>>The good folks at The Hardball Times have published a baseball book. I'm going to purchase my copy this week, and you, as a baseball fan, should too. Their site has become one of my daily internet stops, as it provides wonderful articles from many of the finest baseball bloggers on the 'net.

>>One of the hot topics Week 9 of the NFL brought was the (mis)management of the game by the New York Jets. I can't capably sum up what happened in my own words, so I'll quote from the game recap instead:
The Jets tied the score when Doug Brien kicked a 20-yard field goal with 5 seconds to go in regulation. But another mistake cost them a chance at a touchdown. Facing third-and-goal from the 3 following an incomplete pass, the Jets wasted their final timeout with 8 seconds remaining.

A draw play was called, but Carter broke the huddle too late and there was little chance they could get the play off in time. Instead, they kicked the field goal.
Basically, the Jets had the ball at Baltimore's 3-yard line with eight seconds to go and a timeout in their pocket. But because the play clock was about to hit zero, New York wasted their final timeout to avoid the five-yard delay-of-game penalty. This -- using a timeout to avoid the penalty -- has become a common practice in the NFL, and it doesn't make any sense to me whatsoever. A team is given only three timeouts per half, making them far more valuable than five yards in any instance. That especially holds true here; Quincy Carter would've been better off taking the penalty, because the Jets would've still been within chip shot distance of a field goal at the eight-yard line.

>>Because I didn't have a whole lot of work to get done this weekend, I spent quite a bit of time playing NBA Live 2005, which is one of the coolest sports video games I've ever seen. I've secretly been wishing for EA Sports to add in the Slam Dunk Contest, and they finally came through for me this year. Getting the timing of all the different slams down is really tough, but when you master one, the result is really, really awesome.
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