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Pittsburgh vs. Atlanta, 13 July 2007

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7:35, FSNP, WPGB

Ian Snell (7-5, 2.93) vs. Tim Hudson (8-5, 3.54). Here's the box. I'll be in the comments for at least the first hour.

Today's notes:

-P- Only in Pittsburgh does Xavier Nady look like a "star." He contributes little on defense and only has an .848 OPS, and almost all the difference between Nady's hitting this year and his hitting the previous three years comes from a 41-point difference in his batting average against righties. Batting average fluctuates a lot from year to year, so there's little reason to believe this means much, especially since Nady has only had about 200 at bats against righties this year. Until I see a lot more evidence, I'm going to go ahead and say that Nady is a role player who's bumping his head on his ceiling. He's not a star, and there is still plenty of cause to be furious with the fact that we had to pay Oliver Perez and, in effect, a supplemental first round pick and a second round pick (which the Mets got for Roberto Hernandez) to get him.

-P- GM Brian Sabean has received a two-year extension from the Giants. Contracts for GMs who don't deserve them are old hat for Pirates fans, but it's weird when other teams give them out. For years, Sabean has been coasting, relying very heavily on Barry Bonds, and sometimes fielding lineups that featured no above-average players other than Bonds and Ray Durham. He has neglected the Giants' farm system by deliberately throwing away first-round draft picks. His team is in last place and is currently in the middle of its third consecutive losing season despite an extremely old roster and a decent-sized payroll. The $126 million contract Sabean gave Barry Zito in the offseason may well turn out to be historically bad. The Giants have been in obvious need of an influx of young talent for years, but they've seemed to get older with every transaction. Everyone in their current lineup is at least 32, and they only have two good young players on their roster, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum (who Sabean does deserve credit for drafting).

On top of all that, I was expecting to go through Sabean's recent trading record and find that he had at least done well there. Not so. Jesse Foppert and Yorvit Torrealba for Randy Winn was a good one, but that's easily the best trade he's had in years. In the meantime, he traded Francisco Liriano, Boof Bonser and Joe Nathan for A.J. Pierzynski, which was a complete debacle. He dealt current 23-year-old Brewers relief stud Carlos Villanueva for Wayne Franklin and Leo Estrella. He dealt Russ Ortiz for Damian Moss and Merkin Valdez - that deal didn't look bad at the time, but neither Moss nor top prospect Valdez worked out, and Ortiz won 21 games for Atlanta the next year. He traded Livan Hernandez to Montreal for Jim Brower, and then Hernandez had three consecutive years with ERAs under 4.00 for the Expos and Nationals. Most of the rest of the trades he's made since 2002 have been washes.

I just can't see how the Giants can think, based on the last five years, that Sabean should be running their team.

-P- Following up on some things I wrote about in the last couple days, Ichiro's contract is worth $90 million over five years, and Rickey Henderson will be the Mets' first base coach, not their hitting coach as was previously reported.

-P- Mark Cuban has applied to buy the Cubs.