Friday, December 29, 2006

The Barry Era is Over, Long Live the New Barry

I read the news today, oh boy, a lucky man has made the grade: the Giants are poised to sign Barry Zito to a 7 year, $126M contract, pending a physical. As I noted in this post, I was hoping that the Giants would pass on Zito, for all the myriad reasons I noted. I still feel the same and think that this is a very risky move. As Allfrank noted, I was out on vacation and still am but had to write on this, so pardon for the short note.

Notes on Zito

Zito, as most accounts noted, hasn't missed a start in his career. The cautionary note there for Giants fans is that Ray Durham had six straight seasons of 150+ games played before he signed for four straight injury marred seasons. In addition, I just got Baseball Forecaster 2007 and Graphical Player 2007 and neither have very kind words for Barry Zito's future: "Someone will pay for an ace, and will get a staff filler" and "A 3.83 ERA was the tip of a long fuse toward 5.00 ... Zito is a lesson in the dangers of overwork." Predictions on Zito range from the high 3 ERA to mid-4 ERA.

Here's a quote from Giants officials from Chron: "Giants scouts also believe Zito, a flyball pitcher, will prosper in the large National League West parks and that his taut, over-the-top delivery will keep his arm strong into his mid-30s. They compare him to Tom Glavine, who pitched 219 innings and won 16 games for Atlanta in 2001 when he was 35, the same age Zito will be in the final guaranteed year of his contract." Hopefully they are right, as they are betting $126M on it.

The good news on the contract is that even with this huge contract weighing on the Giants payroll, the Giants should still have money next season to spend on free agent hitters, though one is already gone with the Vernon Wells signing. I think I counted up the money freed by free agents in another post and came up with a figure in the $30M range. That should still leave enough money for a big signing of a hitter next off-season, if desired.

Plus one article I read noted that the Giants bumped up ticket prices big time after seven seasons of contractual small jumps, which should mean more green to spend, plus the MLB internet operations have been a huge success and bringing in more coin as well. Plus, as I think I noted in a previous post here, the Nationals will no longer be a financial drag on the other 29 teams plus the teams can look forward to getting their share of the final purchase price.

My Philosophy and M.O.

I think this is a good point to note how I think, as I think that sometimes confuses people. I can handle the dichotomy of disagreeing with Giants management and yet understanding why the Giants made the moves that they made and even saying that they made a good move. Some feel that I'm a homer for doing that, as they just remember the part where I note the good move and forget that I disagreed with the move in the first place. The way I see it is this: I made my point that I think it was a bad move and then I move on and deal with the reality that this player is here, what does that mean for our team.

Starting Rotation is New Centerpiece

Obviously, this leads into my feelings that the Giants new centerpiece is their starting rotation and the move to sign Zito cements that totally as, while his contract is totally out there and I still wouldn't want to do it, that said, he's here, he's a Giant now, and his addition to the rotation makes the Giants rotation one of the strongest in the NL West.

Zito and Cain at the top of the rotation is a great 1-2 and perhaps a 1a-1b, given that the move to the NL - which I neglected to note in my post on Zito before - could work to hide his shortcomings as he now has one less good hitter to face. However, looking at his split stats, albeit very small samples vs. NL teams and in NL parks, his stats don't get that much better in terms of K/9 or BB/9 or K/BB, so this is no magic pill either, this is just the hope. But Zito is a proven workhorse and Bochy has historically not been prone to push his starters to the 120 pitch threshold, since 2001. And as badly as I think Zito may be headed for in the future, right now, he should be good enough to anchor the rotation.

Then we got Lowry and Morris to man the 3-4 spots and basically we need to hope for one of the two to have a good year and I think the odds are good for that. Both, as I had noted, have a number of reasons why they might pitch well in 2007 and now that we only need one to do that, to complete our 3-4, the signing of Zito strengthens that greatly.

Lastly, our 5 spot will probably be filled by Sanchez and we have won before with lousy 5th starters. He is a good prospect and he should be able to handle it and, if not, there is always Hennessey to fall back on plus Lincecum possibly ready to come up by mid-season. The rotation looks very strong right now.


  1. A thought I left out: looking at Zito's numbers, he could be a better version of Kirk Rueter in that his peripherals don't look great but he gets good results out of them. I wouldn't make a $126M bet on it, however. Now, we Giants fans have to hope that he is because we cannot afford a sinkhole in the $20M range (he agreed to a low $10-11M salary for 2007, which makes him a $19M man for the rest of the contract).

    Also, when his full contract info comes out, year by year, I will analyze how each year compares to what I will project out for a middle of rotation pitcher, in order to see if that would make the contract have more sense. I think it could make sense under some extreme assumptions on where one thinks salaries are going in the future and assuming you think Zito will be a middle rotation guy by the end of the contract. Still, it seems too risky, but maybe this analysis might make it seem better.

  2. Damn, I'm glad you're back, Martin. The first thing I think you have to do (BECAUSE YOU ARE PAID SO HAndsomely to do it) IS THE Dominant Start/Disastrous start analysis.
    Second, the building of a team is a bit like playing blackjack - if you just bet $10 every hand, soon the house will have all your money. One's only hope is to bet big when the percentages so indicate and hope for a little luck.
    It seems to me much of the criticism Sabean has gotten this off season is predicated on last year's understanding of costs (for players) - last year, when a midle of the rotation starter (M Morris) got $9 mil and a journeyman CF (winn) got what he got. Try getting those guys at those numbers now.
    WE suffered a big loss - Schmidt, our horse, our #1. Our pitching (except for Morris) is young. It strikes me as highly risky to shove Cain into the #1 spot. And what would be the point of going with Cain/Morris/Lowery/Sanchez/HennCorrOrtizJWrightetal?
    The statement in the Chron about building a team for the phone booth mnakes sense: pitching. Pitching wins playoff series, pitching wins pennants, pitching wins.
    To get a winner you have to take the risk. Will the Cubs be improved in '07? One would expect so. I mean, if money were no object, wouldn't we all like to have Bonds, Guerrero, Soriano, SChmidt, Zito?
    While a starter only goes out there every fifth day, he has more to do with the outcome of the game than any other player.
    I am glad the Gints took the risk. J Wright was a risk, J Schmidt was a risk in '00. Basically, there were 4 scenarios facing Sabean: 1) resign Schmidt, 2) stand pat (Cain = #1, Ortiz + Sanchez = 4 and 5), 3) replace Schmidt w/ Suppan, Lilly, Meche, et al, 4) Zito. Actually, there is a 5th option: trade.
    Looked at this way, doesn't the Zito choice stand out as the best "baseball" choice? Especially considering we sign him for basically the same $ (per year) as Schmidt - talk about declining periferals AND injury red lights. Plus Schmidt has none of the leadership qualities that Zito does.
    By signing Zito, we keep our prospects (tho we do, as I understand it, lose a second round draft pick). So now, going forward, we have Zito, Cain, Lowerey, Lincecum, Sanchez, Morris (for a couple years, at most), Correia (possibly). The move has added benefit in that Henn/Correia, if they are not traded, stay in the pen, strengthening it, giving Wilson, Sadler, Taschner, Misch a chance to develop without too much pressure.
    Finally, people are still griping about Sabean passing on V Guerrero. V.G. has/had a real red flag injury history (back or neck). Zito is 28. 28. 28. In 5 years he will be 33. And at that time his contract will be, comparitively, less than what Morris' contract represents for '07.

  3. Go click on the post I linked to, I discussed his DOM/DIS for 2006 and it was good first half, disastrous second half. When I get time, I'll do it year by year for the data I got, to see how he did. From what I'm gathering, he has a high pitch count and from my perusal of Graphic Pitchers previously, pitchers tend to do poorly in year(s) after throwing 3,500 pitches in a season, which he has done for a number of years now. First thing I think Bochy has to do is put him on a 100 pitch count, maybe not every game, but maybe for every 5 game stretch or so.

    You're preaching to the choir: I've been pushing building on pitching for a couple of years now, on having a strong 1-2 at the top of the rotation, if not 1-2-3.

    Zito is the best baseball choice, which is why I had been advocating signing Schmidt or Zito until I looked at Zito's peripherals, which are bad. Best baseball choice, poor financial/risk choice.

    I don't know that Zito is a great leader or one with quality leadership, but he's better than Schmidt. As either Grant or Lefty noted, Schmidt at 3-4 years at $20M makes more sense than Zito at 7-8 years.

    Technically, we lose a 4th round draft pick for signing Zito, though technically the A's get the 2nd round. We had already lost our 2nd round and 3rd round picks to San Diego and Cincinnati for signing Roberts and Aurilia, so they were gone whether we signed Zito or not. What happens now (not sure of ordering but assuming Zito>Roberts>Aurilia) is the A's get the Giants 2nd round pick, the 'Dres get our 3rd, and the Reds get our 4th.

    I am one of the ones still griping about passing on Vlad. He had his bad back problem (herniated disc) but he was medically cleared and BP's health/medical expert said that the risk of his back was minimal. If you are going to harp on injury history, then you would have to gripe about Durham, Roberts, and even Bonds, before you gripe about Vlad, who has only had his one bad injury.

    The thing is, some pitchers are done at 32/33 and Zito's peripherals have been in a decline for years now - who is to say that he isn't one who is done at 32/33? Hopefully not, now that he's Giants property.

  4. Hello Martin -
    Thanks for the link. I guess the argument is, based on declining peripherals, he is winning with smoke and mirrors. I thought I would compare him to the other Oakland starters, expecting the other guys in the rotation would be doing comparitively better (since they are not, presumably, winning with smoke and mirrors):

    P ERA W-L
    Zito 3.83 16-10
    Haren 4.12 14-13
    Blanton 4.82 16-12
    Loaiza 4.89 11-9
    Saarloos 4.75 7-7

    AT Home
    Zito 4.71 6-7
    Haren 3.75 5-7
    Blanton 4.52 9-5
    Loaiza 3.71 7-3
    Saarloos 4.15 5-3

    Based on these numbers, I don't see where Zito is winning on smoke and mirrors. But what I find even more interesting is his home record: an ERA a point higher than his season record, a losing record.
    Even before seeing these numbers, Martin, I was going to ask you what information about Oakland's home park. Clearly, at least for last year, Zito had trouble in Oakland. This could either indicate very well or very ill for us. I have never been there, and have been unable to f9ind anything on the internet as far as dimensions. So, a comparison of Oakland and the phone booth is clearly needed. I also would be interested to know "other factors" regarding Oakland's stadium. For example, is there significantly more fould territory? (and if the stats were available, it would really be interesting to know what the comparitive percentage of foul outs Zito enjoyed compared to the rest of the staff - and the rest of the league. What we really need to know is if his '06 h0ome numbers are typical - or an abberation. And we need to look at how this projects as far as ATT. I read somewhere that Zito has just crushed the NL West (damn, is that exciting).
    Anyway, lots to think about, lots of work to do. But, I am not persuaded that the simple K or BB rates tell us all we need to know.
    Finally - and I said this on another blog - (and keeping in mind, I think you and I both concede that Sabean, with his day to day experience, his inside info, his staff, his insight, might be just ever so slightly ahead of you and I in player evaluation) - I think there must be a substantial reason that Sabean spent $126 million ON THIS PLAYER. I see much to like; I am troubled by those who disaprove of the deal based on "peripherals;" I would certainly like to know what Sabean, Rags, Bochy, Gardner, plus the scouts see that we do not see in the numbers.
    I wish I had the numbers for '05 and '04 that I repeat above for '04. I am dying to hear what you think about these numbers and how you think that translates into a forecast for Zito a) in ATT and b) in the NL West parks...
    Glad you are feeling better

  5. Martin, when you go away on vacation, or protest near-death illness at the precise moment of a monumental Giants trade, I rue the enormous sums that I and other OGC readers pay you. But, when the realoly complicated issues (see below) arise, then I think it is money well sp[ent. To wit: Schmidt, with a fine ERA was (I think) 12-10. Zito with nearly the same ERA (corrected for league differences) was 16-10. Zito also (see above blog) had a losing record at home and a fantastic 10-3 record on the road.
    Your job, Martin, is to do the incredibly simple statistical research and see what the liklihood is that Zito will come in at 18-9 in '07, 18-10 in '08, 16-11 in '09 - and etc.
    So, your task is easy, Martin. Determine:
    1) why Zito lost at home and won big on the road in '06. Did this split attain in other years?
    2) What ball p[ark factors should one look to to compare ATT with Oakland stadium?
    3) Why was Zito so dominant on the road in '06" How about other years? Only an abberation? Or important to forcasting his transition to the NL - and especially the NL West
    4) What do you surmise fro analyzing his stats against the NL West? at home (Oakland) vs on the road (in the NL west parks)?

    Please have this on my desk by 0800.

  6. Luckily you didn't specify which date at 0800, so I think I'll be able to meet that deadline. :^)

    Nice catch on Home v. Away. Career numbers say that was an aberration for his career for 2006:

    Home: 3.66 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, .234 BAA
    Away: 3.44 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, .231 BAA

    So this would suggest that Zito is headed for a bounceback improvement in his 2007 season.

    Here is a link to an article which talks about how Oakland is different from AT&T: . Like most analysis, they say the Giants are crazy to do this. But he gives a number of positives as well for the deal and notes that sabermetrics have not been able to capture Zito's effectiveness properly thus far (much like Rueter), so perhaps he is the oddball pitcher who can get away with bad trends in peripherals.

    I've done some prelim calcs of how Zito contract compares to the middle rotation salary and if there is another big jump in salary in 2007 similar to 2006, Zito's contract is actually not that bad compared to what is being paid to middle rotation starters like Meche, Padilla, and Lilly. I plan on presenting the numbers in the New Year, but that gives me hope that the contract itself will not be the onerous pain it currently appears, though it does depend on Zito pitching at least at the middle rotation level for the next 7-8 seasons, which is the big "IF". I have no rabbit in my hat on how to analyze that, but most analysis I've read puts a lot of doubt that he could be one to break the mold. I'll see what I can think up. Meanwhile, thanks for the suggestions, I will take a look at them in the New Year and see what I can do.

  7. I was looking at your list and I had done prelim split on his park data and he had worse stats in the NL parks than AL parks, but that hopefully is due to small samples, he only really pitched in SF a number of times (still not so great there though I would take it: 3 games, 20 IP, 6 BB, 12 K, 4.05 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, .250 BAA).

    More later, Happy New Year!

  8. To be absolutely clear, Happy New Year to everyone!

    And to be clear on the stats, I took his lifetime park stats and divided them into AL and NL parks and over roughly 20-odd starts (from what I remember), his peripherals don't better there, in fact, they are worse overall, from what I remember. I would not rely on those stats solely but they are not good signs either.

  9. On point (and surprising!) article about starter slots at:

    Lg #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
    MLB 3.60 4.14 4.58 5.10 6.24
    AL 3.70 4.24 4.58 5.09 6.22
    NL 3.51 4.04 4.57 5.11 6.26

    OAK 3.83 4.10 4.58 4.87 5.16
    SF 3.59 4.18 4.72 4.95 5.18

    Only three teams in baseball got an ERA under 5.00 from their #5 spot: Tigers (4.48), White Sox (4.99), Padres (4.91).

    Only two other teams are under 5.50--the Giants (5.18) and the A's (5.16)

  10. Thanks, Larry, for the heads-up on the Hardball Times article. Verrry interrresting! Here is a link to the follow-up article:

    I've been wanting to do something like that, but I like the way he did his methodology, makes a lot of sense that way, in taking a look at it from the season viewpoint. I usually just did it by the starter with the best ERA and moved on down. Worked for most cases but not, as he broke down, for a team like Minnesota who had an ace for half the season. The Angels probably had the same "problem" (nice problem to have :^) with Jered Weaver in there.

    This supports my view that the Giants have the potential for a very strong starting rotation. If we view the past two years for Zito as indicative of his skill level - as even saber-methods say that 2005 was a bad luck year and 2006 was a good luck year - then he's a 3.85 ERA pitcher in the AL. Just subtracting 0.20, since both #1 and #2 are about 0.20 better in NL, that would mean Zito is about a 3.65 ERA starter in NL, which is above the 3.78 borderline ERA between #1 and #2. So he's our #1 for 2007.

    As the article noted, Cain is the average #2 starter already - as I had noted before, once he got his stuff together, he was clearly a #1 as well, perhaps a #1a with Zito 1b; for for now, #2.

    A #3 would have an ERA between 4.31 and 4.84 according to the article. I recall Lowry's ERA at 4.7-ish, so even his poor year in 2006 qualifies him to be a #3 starter - as I had noted before, if he pitches to his pre-injury form, he would be a high 3 ERA starter, which would make him a #2 type starter potentially.

    A #4 starter has an ERA between 4.84 and 5.68, and Morris from what I recall had a 4.9-ish ERA so in 2006 he as the #4 type pitcher. However, as I noted, he got his ERA down to the low 4 before his season went south and he was a 4-ish ERA the year before, so there is the potential for him to be a #2 type pitcher as well. Between the two of them, the Giants should have the 3/4 positions down pat.

    A #5 starter has an ERA above 5.68 and an average of 6.26. Hennessey has a career 4.77 ERA in 40 starts, so not only is he a good choice for #5, he could be a #3 based on the numbers presented if he could just duplicate his career numbers. His 4.91 ERA for 2006 would qualify for a #4 and near borderline #3.

    And that's if Sanchez doesn't out do him in Spring Training. Sanchez's ERA starting in 2006 was a hideous 7.36 but in only 4 starts. If he shows the form he did in 2005-2006 in the minors, he should be comfortably in the #5 spot, if not higher. And there's also Lincecum. So for all 5 positions, the Giants, just based on 2006's performances, should easily beat out the average starting staff.

    That's the problem I've tried to correct when people say that one pitcher or another is not of starter material. Most times, they are thinking of a Top 5 type of position player or Top 20 starting pitcher - not every team will have that type of pitcher/hitter at every position of the roster. There will always be compromises, even for the Yankees, who saw Cairo starting often for them in recent years. So maybe Winn isn't the greatest hitting RF, but he's not that bad either, from what I remember about his numbers. Certainly Roberts is very good for his position.

    I just saw an article blasting the Giants for their off-season, and it was filled with this type of partial analysis (not that mine are full analysis, but I think it is better) and I plan on dissecting that article soon.

    Lastly, in the article I linked above, the article noted what the starting rotation for the top half of pitching staffs and playoff teams. The Giants do not compare well overall with the top staffs or playoff teams. They need Cain's low 3-ish ERA after his skipped start to have the #1 ace spot filled. Zito looks like he should be OK for #2, easily with the switch to NL. Lowry needs to hit his career average to be a #3, but if he can return to prior form, he's a #2, however if he's like 2006 then we fall short. Morris is fine again as #4, but if he can return to his just prior form of 2005, he is a borderline 2/3. Hennessey is easily a #4 already and if Sanchez can outpitch him in spring training, the Giants rotation will be all the better. Then there is the possibility that Lincecum might just grab that 5th spot too.

    So whereas above, the Giants should easily beat the average starting rotation, when compared to the better rotations, they need Cain to pitch like he did after his skipped start, Zito to pitch to his form of the past two years, and Lowry to match his career numbers. Morris and Hennessey/Sanchez should be fine in any case, and Morris and Lowry could flop 3/4 if Morris comes through while Lowry doesn't. More iffy overall, but still encouraging, I think the Giants have a good chance to have a rotation that beats out even the playoff teams, but it is no sure thing, like the above comparison against the average.

  11. You had said: I counted up the money freed by free agents in another post and came up with a figure in the $30M range.

    You really shouldn't "count the money saved", as one then misses deferred payments, increases due to backloaded contracts, etc. I added up who the giants have signed for 2008 (9 players) as well as the deferred monies owed players no longer on the team. It's scary...

    The Giant have created a huge financial mess for the team, using a huge steaming pile of deferred payments and backloaded contracts, the worst being this off-season and the contracts offered the "two Barrys". In 08 and 09, when over half of the salary budget will be used up by 4 guys on the roster and guys no longer on the team, but receiving deferred payments. Or, another way to look at it, almost 80% of the budget (assuming it is $100M or less) is already allocated for 08 and about 65% is already spent for 09, with only 9 guys signed for 08, and only 6 for 09. And with these percentages, I'm already assuming that the salary budget has been increased to $100M.

    Looking at players signed for 08, and their salaries, I get :
    Winn, $8M
    Roberts, 6M
    Aurilia, 4.5M
    Durham, 7.5M
    Molina, 6M
    Lowry, 2.25M
    Morris, 9.5M
    Zito, 14.5M (18.5M in 09, 10, 2011)
    Kline. 3M
    = $61.25M committed for 2008.

    The deferrals and payments I know about :
    Bonds : $5M (every year through 2011)
    Benitez : $1.6M in 08, $1.6M in 09
    Vizquel : $1M paid in 2008, $0.75M in 2009
    Matheny : $2M buyout (2008)

    $70M already spent for the 2008 roster

    There's also the "mystery deferment" of Bonds' current one year contract (details haven't been reported, except to say "huge deferral of $10M or more"). So add $5M to the 08 and 09 salary budget. We now have : $75M already accounted for in the 08 budget. (Note that 2009 isn't going to be that much better ; Matheny's buyout is the only major difference in the deferrals, Aurilia's and Durham's and Kline's salaries will be gone - but the players will have to be replaced, and Zito's salary goes UP by $3.5M).

    That 2008 salary budget is for 3 starting pitchers, one relief pitcher, and 5 starting position players AND NO BENCH PLAYERS. Need to add to the mix: a starting LF, 3B and/or 1B and/or SS (whatever two positions Aurilia doesn't play), almost an entire bullpen, two starting pitchers, and the entire bench. That means sixteen other players.

    Sure, some of those players will be cheap players that came from the Giants' minors. Obviously Cain, some pitchers for the pen, hopefully Linden and Frandsen will be good enough. But not all sixteen players are going to be pulling down a cheap $400k (which would still be a hefty $6.4M if each of those 16 players was earning the minimum, BTW).

    The Giants have dug themselves a huge financial hole the past couple of years, and they have grossly compounded it this offseason.

  12. polo....

    Long time, no see, if you are the same from Fanhome. Thanks, I thought I had covered raises, but I did forget about the deferments.

    However, I guess you missed one of the early reports in the newspapers about the deferred money, but, quote, that money is coming out of another budget, unquote.

    I think that is accounting speak for the fact that MLB teams must fund a separate account for any deferred amount (MLBPA protection for players to make sure their funds are protected from bankruptcy plus Sir Selig wanted to curb deferrals, as that creates long term debt if unfunded for long, ruining the debt-equity ratio he was striving for all teams). If you read the old CBA, the present value (and when interest rates are this low, it is pretty much the full amount) of the deferred amount must be placed in such an account within, roughly, 2 years of the due date of the deferral.

    That probably don't affect Benitez or Vizquel (due to short time of deferral), but Bonds is a different matter because of the length of time (greater than the 2 years). The Giants announced soon after the season ended that Bonds's $5M deferred payment is not considered part of their targeted $85M budget (which they were at before adding $10M for Zito, where apparently they finally dipped into their "Maddux" money of a few years ago). Apparently they have been accounting for that amount in a separate budget line item than player payroll. That could explain why their budget did not change for a number of years now, as they had to fund Bonds's deferred money account from this separate budget. It has been $85M for at least 3-4 seasons now (2007, 2006, 2005, maybe 2004, cannot remember).

    So that drops your amount to $65M for 2008. If they stick with the $95M budget of this year (which I see no reason why not, they no longer fund the Nationals, they should have gotten money from their sale too, plus the MLB Internet website has been wildly successful, generating more cash than expected, plus they had a big rise in ticket prices this year after the contract for low price increases ended), that leaves $30M.

    I don't think they will defer the $10M to 2008 and 2009 but even if they did, that's still $25M.

    I think that is more than enough to fill out the rest of the roster. But let's see if that is so.

    For cheap replacements, I assume the hope is that Cain and Lincecum/Sanchez are the ones filling the two starting spots (though hopefully Cain will have a contract extension by then so he won't be so cheap anymore), Wilson will be the closer (Lincecum could be the closer in a pinch, a la Papelbon), Sadler, Taschner, Chulk, Correia, Hennessey, with the loser of Sanchez/Lincecum acting as first backup reliever to call up. Plus there are a number of pitchers (Anderson, Misch, Begg, etc.) coming up who could be ready soon, to cover if Sadler, Taschner, or others falter (though not all). That's the pitching staff for about $6M (Cain get only about $3M, hopefully), leaving $19M.

    I'm assuming we play Aurilia at 3B and that Frandsen is probably playing SS in 2008 assuming he plays well enough in 2007, and Linden (or EME/Schierholtz/Lewis) will man LF. That's another $1M, leaving $18M for a starting 1B and 5 bench positions.

    Assume losers of Linden/EME/Schierholtz/Lewis will take two OF reserve positions, plus re-sign Mark Sweeney to $1M (maybe for two years) plus Alfonzo as backup catcher, uses up another $2M or so.

    That leaves $16M for 1B and a backup infielder who can play SS, 2B, 3B. Hopefully we can fill those two positions with that much money. Or we could spend some of that money to upgrade other positions, like LF or even 3B (with Aurilia being the backup MI rover). That should cover the offensive shortfall from replacing Bonds with Linden, by spending all that money at 1B and/or 3B.

    So the offense won't be high powered, but with a pitching staff that hopefully is pretty good by 2008 (with Lincecum and Sanchez hopefully pushing the starters), you can get away with an offense that plays for one run at a time, which Sabean had been planning for, as he had foreseen a shift in offensive philosophy from the long ball to speed and stealing bases, and hence why he has stocked the minors with speedsters like Lewis, Burriss, Requena, and Sanders.

    So I don't quite agree that the team has a "huge financial hole" going forward, though perhaps 2009 might be, there should be a bunch of big raises happening that season, but Morris will be gone (and hopefully replaced by Lincecum or Sanchez), as well as Durham and Aurilia and Kline. That frees up roughly $25M for raises and replacements and maybe deferments.

    Hopefully Sanders or Schoop will be ready for the majors by then or if we are really lucky, Villalona will be 18 that season (we can dream, can't we?) But the pitching spots hopefully is filled by cheap players, leaving the rest for 2B and 1B/3B.

    Looks doable to me. Did I miss something there? I think I covered all the bases this time (thanks again for the catch on deferments).

    Hopefully by 2009, we have not only the pitchers we expect to be up here, who I've named, but also people who are rising up from the lower levels, like Perreira, Tanner, Martinez, et al, who will either push the pitchers at the MLB level or become valuable tradeable pieces (or replacement pieces if, say, Hennessey, is traded). The cream rises to the top, the rest we can trade away and middle rotation pitchers like Meche are suddenly very valuable, and he hasn't pitched that much better than Hennessey, ERA-wise, so we might be able to have enough young pitchers to acquire a young stud hitter by 2009 if Sabean and Tidrow keeps on developing pitchers at the rate they have been the past few years.

  13. In case someone thought this, I know that 2007's budget is now $95M but it was targeted for $85M unless a special player was acquired, and apparently Zito is that special player. I guess the Giants invested their Maddux money ($7M or so) well and now it's $10M. So it would have been $85M this year otherwise.

    I still think that with the items I noted above, that should add monies to their overall revenues that would allow them to expand to $95M easily.

  14. Yup, one and the same marcopolo. Howdy!

    In terms of "money is coming out of another budget", that always made me laugh. A team has a certain amount of cash coming in, a certain amount of payments going out, and a willingness (or not) to go into debt (borrow) sometimes. So if a team has (say) $90M to spend, and it decides to label one bucket "the Barry pail" with $5M and another budget labeled "salary for the rest of them", it's still $90M ;-)

    You are absolutely correct about the Giants being required to fund Bonds' $5M (put it into an escrow account) before the end of his contract, due to the 2002 CBA. In fact, several years ago (if you remember back that far ;-) I ranted on FanHome about how the new CBA screwed the Giants by changing the deferment rules on EXISTING contracts and I blamed it on the snakes' poor fiscal management (rightfully so). Anyhow, since Bonds' contract was signed *before* the new CBA, the Giants had a longer time to fund each deferral (I think 6 months extra). But I doubt that the Giants funded the deferral in the year that the money was "earned" (otherwise, why bother with the deferral at all?). I expect that they funded it as late as they possibly could. And once they started doing that, they were forced to continue doing so, for cash-flow reasons. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the Giants will fund Bonds' 2005 deferral on Jan 1, 2008, and the 2006 deferral on 1/1/09 (the latest that they could, in other words). But I guess it's pretty a moot discussion anyways - since we'll never know ;-).

    And I think that Bonds' deferral for the 2002 contract is the only one that would have to be so funded (since all the others are less than 2 years from the end of the contract anyways). So let's just say that they have $65M to spend (ignoring the fact that they will probably be paying that $5M deferral anyways).

    You are proposing the following youngsters to fill out the 16 needed for the 08 roster :
    SP: Cain, Lincecum/Sanchez
    BP: Wilson, Sadler, Taschner, Chulk, Correia, Hennessey,
    SS: Frandsen
    LF: Linden
    bench: OF : 2 rookies, C: Alfonzo, IF: Sweeney

    Leaving FAs to play 1B and the last bench spot (and about $16M to do it, or upgrade another position)

    Yes, I agree that they COULD do that, that it *is* monetarily possible, but :

    - that requires a lot of "luck" : that all those youngsters will suddenly pan out, and all at the same time. Lincecum/Sanchez, Wilson, Sadler, Taschner, Chulk, Correia, Hennessey, Frandsen, Linden, 2 bench guys (EME/Schierholtz/Lewis and whoever). 11 guys who will show in 2007 that they either deserve a real shot (or deserve to stay) for 2008. Or 9, if you think that Hennessey and Correia have already shown it. Still, that's ... a lot.

    - remember who we are talking about - Sabean. The guy who doesn't go with youth. The guy who signs the likes of Eric Young and Charlie Hayes and Vizcaino to add "veteren leadership" to support the team. And then fills out most of the rest of the team with other team's scrap heap rejects (a la Tyler Walker and Jamie Wright). Do you *really* see him playing 10-12 guys who came up through *our* farm system (instead of having the cachet of having been rejected by other teams after a year or two of failure) and who each have less than 3 years pro experience? Seriously?

    11 guys : that's almost more farm hands joining the team (successfully!) over a year or two than during ALL of Sabean's other years as GM added together. Let's see, that's Aurilia, Estes, Ortiz, Joe Nathan, Feliz, Lowry, and Cain. I *suppose* Jerome Williams was a mixed sucess. And I guess Hennessey and Correia have been on the team (or at least on the Fresno-SF bus ;-) over the past 3 years. OK, OK, I'll even throw in the bench players : Armando Rios and Ramon Martinez. (I won't throw in Calvin Murray or Jason Ellison, they *weren't* successful.)

    I don't know what will happen (nobody does). Just thinking of the 5 or 6 scrap heap wonderboys and "veteran leadership" that Sabean will likely sign at $2M a pop (and thus blow any chance of signing a *good* bat) makes me want to cry. Thank god I discovered Mojitos over the holiday break, to help me through the season.

  15. DOH! I said "they have $65M to spend", and I should have said "they have $65M spent" or "they will have already spent $65M" !! Hopefully everybody understood.

    And I even got that wrong. I completely dropped BOTH of Bonds' deferrals. I *meant* to drop the ones earned from 2002-06, but $5.8M is going to be deferred to 08 from Bonds' contract this year. So "they will have already spent $70M". (Still, your number of $25M available to allocate to 16 players is about right.)

  16. I understand what you are saying but I'm thinking that the Giants might have been backdooring Bonds' deferment with revenue increases. Fanhome was like a lifetime ago - but I remember you - anyway, many people have complained about how the Giants should be spending more and where's the money, so what I'm positing is that since the Giants made a point this year to say that it was another bucket, I thinking it could be like the story where the business has one book for the business and one for the IRS and for cash flows.

    In any case, clearly the Giants have announced that the budget was $85M, is now $95M, and Bonds's deferred payments do not impact that figure at all.

    About filling the roster out, I agree that there will some luck involved to fill out the roster as I had listed. I guess my point is that we can fill those positions as I had outlined, but then there is $16M to concentrate on one position or spread to other positions in order to make up for shortfalls.

    So if Linden fails, he could be the 4th OF again and they Giants might resign Klesko or sign next year's Craig Wilson or something on the cheap side. But he hit much better in 2006, albeit in not that many ABs, and dominated AAA, so I think he should be good enough that Sabean won't resort to a vet there, kind of like how Niekro got his chance in 2006 (and blew it).

    I think that Frandsen can at least hit a Feliz-esque .700 OPS and provide a good enough replacement for Vizquel, if he isn't resigned to an extension or something.

    About fielding two rookie backups in the OF, Sweeney is actually a backup there as well, and for parts of 2006, I think Ellison and Linden were the backups while Alou was on the DL and Finley playing CF. Ortmeier has been touted by some prospect books as a future starter and EME is a natural born hitter, then there's Schierholtz who has been rising steadily and Lewis has a couple of years in AAA by then and should be ready too. I don't think that it would be too big a stretch to say that two of these four can't be adequate backups.

    I think that Hennessey has proven to be a good enough pitcher to be an OK 5th starter, so if Sanchez and Lincecum fail to hold that spot, we will be covered there. And Correia would take over the long relief role.

    By then Correia will be a vet and Chulk is already a vet. Both have done well enough when given the chance to play (Toronto's manager really screwed up their relievers in early 2006, guys who had been successful in 2005 suddenly were crap). If you look at his FIP for 2006, he pitched better than his ERA showed.

    Wilson, Sadler, Taschner are unproven, true, but with Anderson, Valdez, Espinelli, Misch, Perreira, Begg, and Threets getting another year under their belts, we should be able to get three relievers out of that bunch. Particularly since the Giants think Wilson is good enough to close right now and he has shown that he could handle the minors pretty easily. Also, Taschner admited that he went away from what got him up here in the first place, so he went down and did well down there plus took the closer role and did well there, so I think he should be ready to do well.

    So there are a lot of options we can go to if any of them should falter and, at worse, most of them will be in reserve type of roles where they should not affect things as much, though RF will be important as Winn will play CF when Roberts sits against LHP.

    Plus, we can sign a Ryan Klesko type for $2-4M in 2008 instead of a rookie backup, so it would be Sweeney, this vet, and one of multiple prospects taking the last OF position. That would still leave $12-14M for the 1B/3B starter and a MI backup. Call it $1M for the backup, then it would be $11-13M for the 1B/3B, doesn't Adam Dunn go free agent next off-season and plays 1B?

    I won't say it will be a great team, but we are a team in transition, and I think that we will have adequate backups in the farm system to cover most positions played by a young unproven prospect. True, there haven't been many successes in bringing up players, but a large portion of our pitching staff last season was made up of prospects and about 40% of the team were prospects from our farm system near the end, before the Sept callups: Linden, Frandsen, Alfonzo, Feliz, Cain, Lowry, Sanchez, Hennessey, Correia, Taschner (plus Chulk if you count him for losing Accardo in trade). So moving to 44% (11 players) is not that big a stretch from the end of 2006 and we still have 2007 for players to prove whether they belong or not - the past couple of years, Sabean has been adding homegrown player at a great pace than ever before because his drafts are finally coming to fruition. And luckily we are in the NL West where the other teams are not that great either.

  17. I understand what you are saying but I'm thinking that the Giants might have been backdooring Bonds' deferment with revenue increases.

    Hey, I certainly hope you're right. But don't forget that ticket prices for season ticket holders were guaranteed to "low levels" until just last year. The huge revenue increase this (next) year is due to the new TV deal, and the obscene price increases for the 2007 season. (Have you *seen* the prices for 2007? I shit a brick!) So I don't know how much increased revenue they were able to use to squirrel away deferment money. I hope you're right (hey, is there an echo in here?).

    I think Ellison and Linden were the backups while Alou was on the DL and Finley playing CF.

    That was the "backup" backup plan ;-) Due to the guys going on the DL. Both Linden and Ellison spent a bunch of time in Fresno in 2006.

    I think that Hennessey has proven to be a good enough pitcher to be an OK 5th starter ... And Correia would take over the long relief role.

    That's what I thought too, but he sucked pretty bad in a number of outings last year after moving from the pen to the starting rotation. I'd like to see "Jeckyl & Hyde" get a chance as the #5 starter this year, or be the backup in the pen (he was pretty darn good in the pen last year). "Jeckyl & Hyde" is my pet name for Henn because 1/3 of his games he is great, 1/3 of his games are OK, and 1/3 of his games are bad to downright horrid.

    but a large portion of our pitching staff last season was made up of prospects and about 40% of the team were prospects from our farm system near the end, ... the past couple of years, Sabean has been adding homegrown player at a great pace than ever before because his drafts are finally coming to fruition.
    Well, I think that both of those are due to the high number of people on the DL, and the high number of "veteran" craptastic performances in 2005 and 2006. He had no choice - literally. No money to spend, a number of people just sucking totally - the kids *couldn't* have done any worse. I hope that Sabean *has* learned that he should try homegrown talent, and that some of the young kids can contribute and should be given the chance. Unlike Torrealba, Alfonzo, etc. What you describe is a valid approach, and makes plenty of sense. My fear is that Sabean won't go that route, that he will spread the money around on type C players and not have enough to bring in one good guy or a couple of over-.800-OPS guys.

    BTW - I love your blog - one of the ones on my short list that I read every day. Keep it up.

  18. Thanks for the compliment, much appreciated Marco. And thanks for your comments.

    And about the revenues, don't forge the MLBLAM (whatever their acronym is, their Internet ops) has been an unexpected surprise. Their business plan was that it would run at a loss for a few years and then grow from there but it has been profitable much earlier than thought or planned, and is an additional boost.

    Plus, from what I recall, season ticket prices were guaranteed to grow slowly, not guaranteed low, so there were incremental gains in revenues that way.

    Also, while the team ran at an operating loss for the most part during the 1990's (according to Forbes), during the 2000's, they have been running at a profit, so they have built up some cash along the way and the profit differential (anywhere from $5-20M more in profit 2000's vs. 1990's) was more than enough to absorb even Bonds's annual deferral amounts.

    Yes, they were backup backup plans, due to DL time, but Sabean has gone out and acquired vets like Deivi Cruz during the season when the opportunity presented itself, I cannot imagine that the cost of a backup OF would cost the Giants that much in prospects if he was really jonesing for one.

    Brilliant minds think alike: Jeckyl and Hyde was basically my nickname for Hennessey as well, though I don't really recall many of the in-between games, I think I used that old nursery ryhme about when she was good, she was very good, but when she was bad, she was very bad. That was Hennessey in 2004, to a T. If Sanchez wasn't around, I would have gone for Hennessey as #5; he's great rotation insurance in case someone is injured, as the article I linked to in another post noted (post on figuring out who is an ace, #2, #3, #4, #5 starter is, in terms of actual performance in teh MLB, AL, and NL).

    Yes, part of the youth movement is due to DL and vet implosions, but that didn't stop Sabean before from trading off prospects to pick up players mid-season. Plus, once the off-season came, he didn't just go out and get vet replacements all the time, if the youth proved they belong, they got the chance to stay up the next season, he wasn't necessarily replaced by a vet. The only prospects over the Sabean era who I thought did not get a fair shake were Rich Aurilia, who should have started a season or two earlier, and Damon Minor, he should have been playing more when Snow was not doing so well but it wasn't that big a loss. When young players proved they belong, they got to stay.

    The thing is the quality of our prospects has gone up greatly since the early years of the Sabean era, his draft and development plan and team is finally in place, and we are finally getting results like he did when running the Yankees farm system and development during the late 1980's and early 1990's, when the following Yankee stars and prospects were signed and developed: Jeter, Posada, Rivera, Pettitte; Hal Morris, Kevin Maas, Brad Ausmus, Carl Everett, and, of course, JT Snow.

    I don't think Sabean ever did think that homegrown talent is not good - especially after seeing all the players he drafted for the Yankees - it was just that the farm system never had that many good prospects under his direction until the 2000's came along. And look at all the people he traded vs. what he got, his "bank account" there is still very much in the positive, even with Nathan, Linebrink, Foulke, and Liriano traded. This shows how good our farm system people were in evaluating talent, very few good players were ever lost in trade (sidenote: just remembered, someone noted Eric Young as a free agent but he was actually acquired via a trade with the Brewers, we lost Josh Habel with that move - I think he's out of baseball already). Because when trade season comes along, Sabean asks each team to give him a list of players who the Giants should keep and he works from the list of the leftovers in making trades.

    That said, I will keep my fingers crossed too that Sabean will give the youngsters who deserve a chance the opportunities they need. But if you look at the 2006 opening day roster, here are the farm products: Accardo, Cain, Lowry, Munter, Taschner, Feliz, Niekro, Ellison. That's 8 players right there. Add another in 2007 for Sanchez, say, that would be 9. Then they would only need 2 more to reach the 11 we were talking about for 2008.

  19. Sabean has gone out and acquired vets like Deivi Cruz during the season when the opportunity presented itself

    Deivi was signed to a minor league contract at the end of spring training, just before the 2004 season started - not during the season.

    When young players proved they belong, they got to stay. .

    I think that Torrealba also got a raw deal. He was a good defensive catcher, with acceptable offensive stats (for a catcher) and Sabean would sign a "veteran" catcher any chance he got. (Seeing how he did his final year with us and after he was traded, maybe the team had the right idea ...)

    In terms of youngsters in 2006, a lot of those guys were not given much of a chance. They might have spent more time on the bus to Fresno than they did in SF ;-). Hennessey, Correia, and Linden started 2006 in Fresno. Accardo lasted a couple of weeks on the team (before being exchanged for Hennessey), and Taschner might have lasted a week longer. There was a huge yoyo with all the pitchers, all year, and random positon players got shuffled up and down all year. How the heck do you expect a player to perform and/or develop if they have no idea if they'll be on the team for 2 days or 2 months before being sent back down? Although Niekro & Ellison were on the active roster for a long time at the start of the year, only Niekro was really given a shot, IMO. (Ellison basically sat on the bench and played the 9th inning or came in as a double switch.) But yes, he was on the roster. I don't see the recent use of the farm system so much as "giving guys a chance" as I see it as "random replacement parts, on loan for a week or three" ...

    But if you look at the 2006 opening day roster, here are the farm products: Accardo, Cain, Lowry, Munter, Taschner, Feliz, Niekro, Ellison. That's 8 players right there.

    You listed 8 "farm products", but I'm mostly concerned with how many youngsters will be given their *first* (real) chance instead of signing the likes of Vizcaino. (Or maybe "cheap young players" since it's about money in '08). Lowry and Feliz weren't in doubt - they were obvious locks for the roster, and already had proven themselves. Cain was a pretty obvious choice, but Sabean did give him the chance (and more importantly *stuck with him* and let him pitch through the rough months - something he *didn't* do with a lot of the bullpen arms). I don't think that Accardo, Munter, Taschner, Wilson, Sadler, Misch, Sanchez have proven themselves at all so far. I'm not saying they aren't good, or that they don't deserve a shot - I'm saying that I'm worried that Sabean won't give them a chance, stick with them through the rough spots, and will play some version of "bullpen musical chairs" with Fresno (and Connecticut!) that marked 2006.

    But after 2007, maybe 3 or 5 of those guys will have the experience, or shown enough of a flash, for Sabean to go with them. I pray that's the case. They did announce that the team would "go in another direction" moving forward. I hope that it is pitching, defense, speed and youth. And that we won't see the "plan for this year - build to win now" teams that have been assembled for the last 10 years. Although I generally liked the teams they managed to put on the field 1999-2002, except for 2001 (and Dusty Baker, of course).

    Hey, have you thought about what moves the Giants are going to have to make on the 40-man roster? Wait, I'll ask that question on a more recent "thread" ;-)



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