During the offseason leading up to the 2008 season, the San Francisco Giants signed Aaron Rowand to a five-year, $60 million contract. When the deal was announced, a unanimous thought crept into the minds of the entire Giants fanbase: "Are we really overpaying for another mediocre veteran?"
For $12 million per season, the Giants were paying for a guy to hit .309 with 27 home runs, 89 RBI, a .374 on-base percentage, and a .515 slugging percentage.
However, if Giants GM Brian Sabean had used some common sense to figure out that the aforementioned numbers came during Rowand's career year while playing in arguably the best hitter's park in baseball, perhaps he wouldn't have overpaid.
The ballpark where Rowand caught Sabean's eye is just a part of the problem, as AT&T Park in San Francisco is not Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
As Giants fans can attest, balls that current Philly Pedro Feliz hits into the left field bleachers in Philadelphia would be medium fly balls in San Francisco. Going from AT&T park to Citizens Bank revived Pedro's career, but going from Citizens Bank to AT&T has had the exact opposite effect.
Yet Sabean overpays for an acquisition because he feels he has to make some new addition since his 2007 squad finished an atrocious 71-91. But wasn't it clear that bringing in Aaron Rowand wouldn't replace Barry Bonds?
It is pretty ridiculous to even have to ask that question, but numerous questions are in need of answers, including this one: Just what was Sabean thinking?
In almost two seasons with the Giants, Rowand's all-around offensive numbers have taken a drastic turn for the worse.
Rowand had a career year in 2007, where he put up the following numbers:
.309/.374/.515/.889, 189 H, 45 2B, 27 HR, 89 RBI, 47 BB, 119 K
He then came to San Francisco and provided the following 2008 production:
.271/.339/.410/.749, 149 H, 37 2B, 13 HR, 70 RBI, 44 BB, 126K
So far in 2009:
.264/.328/.428/.748, 127 H, 30 2B, 15 HR, 63 RBI, 28 BB, 119K
When the Giants offered Rowand the five-year contract, he was already 30 years old. Wasn't the idea for the post-Bonds era in San Francisco to move to younger, up-and-coming players?
Back to the question of what Sabean was thinking; in all honesty, Sabean must not have been thinking at all. Even if the 2007 Giants squad was terrible, signing one decent player wasn't going to change anything for the better. But it does leave the Giants in a financial hole, still on the books for $36 million left on Rowand's contract for the next three years.
Now some might say that paying $36 million to not play for your team is pointless. However, when a player is doing hardly anything to help his team win, it would be beneficial to give his spot to someone who actually does help the team win.
For instance, backup outfielder Andres Torres is making the league minimum this year, as he was a random camp invitee during spring training who was able to crack the roster. Yet despite being essentially a "nobody," Torres has become a fan favorite off the bench because of his speed and his knack for starting rallies.
As a natural center fielder, Torres has found limited playing time behind Rowand, but if players were truly given playing time based on performance and not how much they're paid, Torres would see more time than Rowand.
On the season, Torres has been quite productive at the plate. Just take a gander at the pair of outfielders' numbers side by side:
Rowand: .264/.328/.428/.748, 127 H, 30 2B, 0 3B, 15 HR, 63 RBI, 28 BB, 119K
Torres: .260/.333/.512/.845, 33 H, 5 2B 6 3B, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 13 BB, 37K
Yes, Rowand has a slightly higher average, but when one player has played significantly less than the other, the only statistics that can be truly compared are on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS (the combination of on-base and slugging).
By having the advantage in both on-base percentage and slugging, Torres sweeps the three categories from Rowand, not to mention, his strikeout per walk ratio is much lower than Rowand's. Torres averages just 2.84 strikeouts for every walk he draws; Rowand, on the other hand, strikes out 4.25 times for every walk.
As a baseball fan, wouldn't you prefer to play the outfielder who reaches base more often, totals more bases when he does reach, and strikes out less—not to mention has more range in the outfield?
Would it not make logical sense to play the man who is only making $400K because he is performing better than the man making $12 million?
Why don't the Giants just man up and admit that they overpaid for Rowand and that since Torres is the better option right now, he's going to get more playing time?
If anything, it should make Rowand realize that his piss-poor performance isn't cutting it and if he doesn't start to elevate his play, he won't see the field. On the off chance that Rowand feels insulted by the benching, then he really isn't the "gamer" and team player that he claims to be, because being insulted means he cares more about Aaron Rowand than the San Francisco Giants.
Even though the end of the season is almost here, the majority of the Giant faithful cannot stand another at-bat like Rowand had in the bottom of the ninth in the series-opening loss to the Cubs.
Giants fans are sick and tired of watching Rowand take the first two strikes called, which range from decent pitches to great pitches to hit, and then swing and miss on the third strike on a ball not even close to the strike zone.
The Giants organization ought to try to find a hardcore Giants fan who disagrees with the statement that Rowand takes pitches he should swing at and swings at pitches he should take. Until they do, they should keep Rowand out of the starting lineup.