Tuesday, October 31, 2006

My 80/20 Scenario: Is Feliz in the Circle of Giants?

The news today in most media spots, like the Chron and the Merc, is that Pedro Feliz and the Giants are talking intently on bringing Feliz back to the Giants. This has set up fear and teeth gnashing among Giants fans over the possibility that that Sabean will allow him to return to the Circle of Giants sign him to a big and long contract.

From what I understand, Feliz really, really wants to return to the Giants, because he doesn't want to move his family - and if you've ever moved, you will understand that feeling. So everything will be driven by this want/need/desire of his: the no free agency filing, the agent "we can do it if we try" PR message, all predicated on letting the Giants know that he's on their team, please play ball with me. Because Feliz can file for free agency any day up to the first day of being able to talk to free agent, and it won't make a heck of a difference to his free agency bid for a big contract.

Agent-Speak for Giants Fans

Agents speak another language when they publicly speak. You need to read between the lines to understand what they are actually saying and thinking, because there's a motivation behind everything they say (assuming he is a good agent), it is all part of the negotiation game. Here's how I dissect the agent-speak.

"My hope is we can close the gap in the next couple of weeks." The good news here is that there is an actual GAP. Not "we have a few minor details to hammer out" or "we are close enough that I'm staying here in SF to get it done," but "hope we can close the gap". Any negotiation where the player wants to stay, you always have to give that hope publicly.

"I'm an eternal optimist, but this game is driven by economics and statistics, and it's not something one side controls." Well, I disagree, one side does have some control, the hitter holding the bat and swinging and compiling good stats to get a good contract. As many fans noted, Feliz did not do so well with the stats, and contrary to sentiment at many Giants fan sites, Sabean is no idiot, he knows how badly Feliz has done.

The good news here is that he's "an eternal optimist." That means that the two sides are far apart, no matter how badly Feliz wants to stay here. You don't say you are an eternal optimist if the two sides are very close, you only do that when the two sides are far apart even though his side wants it done. What need is there to be an optimist about, and particularly an eternal one, if things are close. This is great news that they are far apart.

I like the "this game is driven by economics and statistics." No, the game's economics is driven by the players thinking that if they made $X million last year, they deserve $X million + 10%, 20%, 30% the next year, just because. I see Feliz's agent touting his 98 RBI's ("almost 100!") and his great defense and his 3 consecutive seasons of 20 HRs, when I see him talking about economics and statistics, and that means he has an inflated sense of his client's economic worth.

My 80/20 Scenarios

My 80% likely scenario is that the agent feels the Giants are low-balling his client - hence the crack about economics and statistics - when he has nice stats like the 20+ HRs and 98 RBI, so he puts on the happy face for the public while noting that things are not a slam dunk at the moment. The disconnect there is that he thinks the Giants fans WANT Feliz back at any price.

The way I see it, the Giants want a cheaper solution for the 1B/3B conundrum. Hillenbrand is the better hitter and thus expects more money (especially since he made more than Feliz last season), so they are trying to work out a cheaper deal with Feliz first. From the sound of the agent, the two sides are apart at the moment and not close enough to assuredly say that a signing should happen before the free agency date.

My 20% fear scenario is that the Giants already made an offer that Feliz is happy with but his agent is doing this to try to get more out of the Giants in negotiations.

But unless he's an idiot - which you never know - to intimate publicly that the two sides are far apart, that there is still a gap, when the Giants might have made a fair offer, would be to publicly insult Sabean and most people who do that to Sabean tend to end up outside his Circle of Giants: Beck, Baker, Aurilia. Feliz does not appear to be out of the world in demands, like Aurila was with his 4 year $32M expectations when he entered free agency which resulted in the Giants not even bothering to negotiate. But to throw out words like eternal optimist and gap, that suggests that there's quite a divide there.

I take this news as good news that Feliz (or rather his agent) has probably priced himself out of the Giants immediate plans and that Sabean will move on to other options after his due diligence in trying to get a deal done with Feliz. I would be OK with Feliz at a modest salary and contract, because Sabean cannot be negotiating with so many free agents at the same time so he needs to get some positions settled before free agency starts, but his agent's posturing seems to imply that they want a big salary and I can't go for that.

Giants Strategy Interpretation

Interesting implication from the lack of news of Giants negotiating with their free agents during this exclusive period of negotiations is that the Giants appear ready to go with other options other than their free agents for 2007 and beyond. Durham's agent and Hillenbrand's agent have noted that they had at most, an initial discussion, but it appears that the Giants are prepared to let the market decide how high the salaries will go with the players, and then go from there.

I think part of that was due to wanting to wait for the Giants to pick their new manager - so that he can make suggestions/recommendations into who to retain - but it has been 4 days since Bochy was named manager, so the lack of news about contact on Monday (these articles published on Tuesday, today) could mean that Bochy has given his input and the Giants will let the free agent market determine each players' salary and at that point, the Giants will decide whether to fish or cut bait, or even possibly the Giants won't even pursue the player.

Happy Halloween!

3 comments:

  1. Nice interpretations of text, Martin. I, too, was surprised by how many people reacted so heavily to the "news" on Feliz.

    I'm with you on this one. Feliz would be an OK stopgap (until Villalona is ready) if the contract is for a fair amount. Twenty HRs and 100 RBI aren't that impressive if they consistently come in spurts, and I'm sure Sabean sees this (crossing my fingers at least).

    As for the Giants strategy, its one that I can agree on. Most of their potential free agents are decent stop-gap, fill out the roster type guys, but they are by no means "must haves". Durham would be the only guy that I'd say will actually command more via free agency than he may be worth.

    In due time, guys like Hillenbrand and the likes will go the way of Rich Aurilia: never getting what he quite wants.

    ReplyDelete
  2. All other things being equal, Feliz is the last guy I would want to see returning. But since all other things are not equal, he is, very unfortunately, a realistic choice. I guess it is up to you to crunch the numbers and tell us who looks like the better producer.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Whoops, sorry. Meant to say crunch the numbers of Feliz and Aurelia.

    ReplyDelete

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