Sunday, June 11, 2006

Start Spreading the News: Giants Want to Try to Re-sign Schmidt

Big news the other day when Sabean spoke to the media: the Giants want to re-sign Schmidt. That's a no-brainer since Schmidt has recently been pitching like the dominating pitcher he once was in 2002-2004, but not in 2005 nor the first month of this season. Here is the quote from the SF Chronicle:


Sabean also said, "No, unequivocally no" when asked if he would entertain a deal for Schmidt, even if Sabean could fortify more than one position by moving him, because Sabean believes the Giants will contend for a division title.

"I don't see this ballclub falling flat on its face, and Jason Schmidt is a
guy we are going to have to give due consideration to at the end of the year,"
Sabean said. "If he's not on your ballclub and you trade him away, I don't know
what message that sends to him as to what your chances are of re-signing him."
This is Sabean's first inkling to the public that the Giants would be pursuing Schmidt once the season was over. Schmidt hasn't been at the forefront of Giants management thoughts to re-sign when he was not so dominating. But his recent dominance suggests that heee's baaack!

But Do They Want Him Back?

What isn't clear is whether or not the Giants will actually try to re-sign him. Before Schmidt returned to form, offering him arbitration would have been stupid because you knew he was going to get a big contract anyway, there will be teams (like the Giants with Morris), who would be willing to pay top dollar for past performance, but if he decided that he could get more from arbitration, he could screw the Giants into a large one-year or forced the Giants into a multi-year contract for big bucks for a good but not great pitcher, paying for filet mignon when you are getting rib-eye, still good stuff but clearly not the best. But now that he has returned to form, the Giants might want to try to re-sign him and then to offer arbitration in order to get the draft picks for him.

Why Would Sabean Want Draft Picks?

I know that people would scoff at this, thinking, Sabean doesn't want actual draft picks, he just wants to save money. But as I tried to show in my recent post on the draft, the odds of finding a good or star player once you get past the 20th pick overall is very low, worse than even most Las Vegas gambling games, on a single year basis. Thus punting the higher priced draft picks is a workable plan if you think you can draft similarly skilled players in later rounds.

And if Sabean loves to save money, then why does he bother to sign Ishikawa for the largest bonus ever given for a pick after the first round (plus supplemental), why bother drafting Jeremiah Luster (can't corroborate but he was drafted 18th round when he should have gone much earlier, he must have gotten a good bonus), why bother to sign DFE's, they are normally selected way past when a team would have to pay much of any bonus, but if you end up signing him the next year, they will cost you as much as a 2nd or 3rd round pick?

Sabean Is Trying to Be Smart With His Budget

What Sabean has been is thrifty, he spends where he thinks he needs to spend, to get value for value. Perhaps he thinks that the crop of players coming in for the next draft is deep and he can pick up some good players. Perhaps he realized that he was now pushing the edge in regards to finding good players as I had shown in my post and wanted to get back into the game now that the farm system is starting to be productive and filling the roster. Areas where we are lacking in good prospects include SS and 3B, the left side of the diamond, plus CF if you are looking for offense there.

In addition, Sabean and gang have clearly been different thinkers when it comes to the draft. Most draft picks done since Tidrow took over as head of scouting have been counter to prevailing opinion. If you compare where the Giants pick players in the early rounds, when most prospects have been analyzed and observed to a great degree, their picks are regularly picked much earlier than consensus opinion, which I judged by where Baseball America ranked the top college and high school players in their annual 200 list. So why keep a pick in the early rounds when you can pick the same player up one or two rounds later, when his bonus would be much less.

What About Schmidt?

But should the Giants keep Schmidt? It all depends. On how he does the rest of this year. On how much money he is looking for. On how much of a home discount he is willing to give to the Giants, if any. On how often the Giants medical staff thinks Schmidt will be health-wise, going forward. It also depends on whether Jamey Wright and the Giants management agree to pick up his option for next year, his absence would leave the Giants with two spots in the rotation open after the end of the season.

My heart says "Keep him, you idiot, he's the ace of any staff," but my brain said, "He's been injured so often that any long term contract has to account for that likely probability that he will be injured during parts of the year and that could lead to an injury that prevents him from pitching again, like what happened to Robb Nen, it cost us a huge chunk of the team's payroll and for that we got nothing but weekly reports on Nen's condition. "

Luckily we don't have to make that decision today. We have around 100 more games to play, time enough for Schmidt to show what he's still got going for him, skill-wise. We should have a much better idea of where Schmidt stands by then. And then we can make a better informed decision.

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