Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Buncha Signings

Wow, what a flurry of signings:
  • Ray Durham: 2 years, $14.5M ($7M/$7.5M plus $25K if reach 450 PA)
  • Dave Roberts: 3 years, $18M ($5M/$6.5M/$6.5M)
  • Rich Aurilia: 2 years, $8M ($3.5M/$4.5M plus $250K at 300, 350, 400, 450, 500 PA)
  • Pedro Feliz: 1 year, $5.1M ($5.1M plus up to $500K performance bonuses)
  • Bengie Molina: 3 years, $14.5M (not confirmed, backloaded, maybe $4M/$5M/$5.5M)

Pedro Feliz

About Feliz, to quote Herman Munster: Darn! Darn! Darn! Darn! Darn! Darn! Darn!

There is not much more than I can say but that. I was hoping that Richie was the new 3B and view this signing much in line with how I felt when the Giants signed Neifi Perez after I thought we had dodged a bullet by releasing him. I assume that the Giants will go with Aurilia if Felilz starts stalling out like he did last season, because he was going pretty well early on, but then had this really bad streak, which one article attributed to him coming into the season with more weight than he should have. Hence all the talk this off-season about him working on his fitness - to last longer and stronger into the season - and, to give us a laugh, he is working on his hitting as well.

All I can say is what the heck took him so long to figure that one out? He's been hitting like this ALL his career! He should have been working on this the moment he became a major leaguer, if he really appreciates his career and his salary. My only hope right now is that he hits so well early on that we can trade him mid-season for prospects and install Aurilia at 3B (assuming he starts as utility guy) and Frandsen as utility guy.

The Others

I like the other deals, though. As much as people carp on Aurilia as a 1B, clearly the Giants are not settling for him at 1B, he has been told that he will be playing all around the infield, though probably getting a lot at 1B (implying a platoon situation there where he hits against LHP there). In addition, the Giants are still looking at deals for 1B, whether Sexson, Burrell, or others.

Clearly, though, his hitting has been boosted the past couple of years by hitting in Cincinnati. Last year his big boost was his stellar hitting on the road, which he had not done in previous years, so that would be an area of concern in terms of falling back to the mean. But if he is not the full-time starter at 1B, he probably will be more than OK, taking starts from Durham, perhaps giving Vizquel some extra rest, probably giving Feliz 20-30 games rest there, since he clearly tired out, and perhaps getting 40 starts at 1B in a platoon with lefty there or less if a big trade is made for Burrell or Sexson, for example.

Roberts is still a good contract even after taking into account that he normally do not hit against LHP, as he has been platooned before. I like him at the top of the order, probably our best leadoff hitter since Brett Butler. I like his high number of SB and I especially like his high success rate, so he is not only aggressive but effective. He might be able to give some tips to Winn to bring up his success rate, so he could help out there for us.

Durham is a great salary given all the rumors of him getting $20M over 2 years or getting 3 year contracts, plus all the crazy salaries going to other players. Of course, what probably happened, probably much like Roberts with his platoon and injury problems, Durham also has been having injury problems as well, so his salary reflects the number of games per year one can expect from him, based on the past 3-4 years of experience. Which is he misses about 40 starts per season (he boosts his games played by PHing the past couple of years). Thus, his $7M is essentially a $10M contract if he were playing 150+ games per year; same with Roberts.

Payroll Impact

Adding up the first year salaries above, they work out to $24.6M. Based on the $45M figure that was mentioned in one newspaper, that leaves $20.4M left to spend on Bonds for LF, 1B upgrade over Aurilia, starting pitcher, and relief pitcher. That really only works if Bonds gets under $10M, as $10.4M seems a bit too low to get a 1B, SP, and RP, especially since there is talk that the Giants are pursuing Ted Lilly (ugh!) who is looking to get 4 years at $10M per season.

Trade Rumors

Besides the Ted Lilly rumor, there are a few running the rounds whereby the Giants either get Manny Ramirez or Richie Sexson and lose Noah Lowry, plus probably prospects, to Boston and either Seattle or Washington. They seem too ludicrous to even repeat - I think I am not too blind about Lowry's value, I'm not that much of a homer, I don't think, and to give up a cheap but young and good player like Lowry to take on an overpaid, old and declining hitter is not the right move.

If we trade Lowry, we should get a young player, like Baldelli, Crawford, even Vernon Wells, not old and expensive players. The trades that have been mentioned have been highway robbery type of situations where we give up young and cheap and they are being kind to give us a good hitter. If those deals are done without either cash or young prospects leaving their hands and into ours, we are being robbed blind unless there is something wrong with Lowry that we don't know about.

Another rumor I saw mentioned that the Giants were inquiring about Vernon Wells. I think I can live with that trade if the Giants are pretty damn sure that they can sign Wells to a contract and that he would be happy coming to SF, I don't want another A.J. Pierzitski situation happening. Wells would not be the greatest to get, there are players I would prefer more, but those players are generally untouchables, and he might be the best young player available in trade at the moment.

The Giants have also been saying that any and all of the trade rumors does not mean that the Giants don't want Bonds back. However, I don't see how they can do the trade and still get Bonds, as Manny only plays LF and they don't have enough money to cover Bonds and Sexson unless another team is giving up a lot of money to us in the trade, which would make losing Lowry more palatable for me, as that would even things up in my opinion.


  1. I know people on the blogs are pretty unhappy with the way things have been going. I just don't see the basis for all the gloom. And I think people really set themselves up for disappointment. One example: Sabean says we are going to get younger and healthier. People don't hear "younger," they hear what they want to hear, "young." Sabean never promised young. By getting rid of Alou, Finley, Stanton, Viz II, we are YOUNGER.
    Second, who exactly were the better options we passed on? Roberts, in my opinion, is the equal of Matthews/Pierre. Roberts is the sort of hard playing, hustling palyer you like to have, and who, when on base both makes things happen and distracts the pitcher and defense. He has a decent OBP, is an excellent baserunner and will definitely score runs.
    While Feliz was a disaster at the plate last year, there are a number of factors that mean he MIGHT show significant improvement in '07: he got virtually no spring training, as he went to the World Baseball Tournament. He was not in shape, and he played too much, wearing down. WE are told he has significantly upgraded his off season workout program and is working on hitting (actually, he doesn't need to work on hitting, he needs to work on 'not hitting,' as in laying off sliders). So, maybe he plays 140 games rather than 161, the conditioning helps, the Winter batting instruction helps - and he hits 266, OBP 330, all serviceable. I expect Aurelia to fall back to his career averages (about 280/285 BA vs 300 in '07). Still a huge improvement over what we got last year from 1b.
    Even Molina was a required pick up. I would have loved to get Zaun, but he went back to toronto. After he backed out on a contract, I don't know that I would want to deal with Barajas. Who is left, besides Molina? It comes down to Molina vs. Notgardo. Easy call. Look at Notgardo's August and sPRELIMINARY STATEMENT

    This responding party has not fully completed its investigation of the facts and
    numbers. He started off great, got a little confidence, benefitted (he's a hacker) because major league pitchers can hit the strike zone. But when they figured out that to get him out all you had to do was pitch him like Feliz - 5 pitches out of the strike zone and he gets himself out - and voila, his August, Sep numbers.
    As for the rumors, who knows what isa happening. It is clear a week ago everybody was complaining Sabean was an idiot because he didn't make any moves. Now he makes moves and he's an idiot because he didn't make the moves people wanted. Ridiculous. No wonder he ignores them - they cannot be pleased.
    Next to losing Zaun, the biggest disappointment is losing Weathers (and Stanton). Maybe a trade is coming, but, as I have been preaching, we need 2, 3, even 4 7th and 8th inning guys - and that assumes we've got a 9th inning guy.
    Enjoy your work and analysis, Martin.

  2. I agree with Frank, in pretty much every point. I also believe that the biggest disappointments were losing Zaun, Stanton, and Weathers, but theres no sense in crying over spilt milk now.

    In regards to the trade "scenarios", I agree with you Martin. It makes hardly any sense that we would unload an "above average" (albiet maybe slightly) pitcher who is locked in as a bargain for the next few years for Manny (or Sexson, et al.). This is especially true while Barry is still on the market, and for one simple reason: why give up talent AND money to get "talent" when you can just give up money?

    Up until last week, I was part of the crowd that thought not signing anyone already was a good sign of things to come. Sabean then followed up that idle period with quality and conservative signings. I really like most of what he's done so far. The only gripe I have is the sideshow the Giants front office and Bonds have participated in. Just sign him already!

    I like the Durham signing, as it not only brings back a potentially potent 5/6 hitter, it also retains the continuity of the 2B/SS combination. The contract, in my opinion of this offseason, was a steal.

    I like the Roberts signing, as it brings in an experienced outfielder that can actually run the basepaths. I don't know what everyone's complaints about Winn in RF are about really. Sure, his performance doesn't match that of a normal corner outfielder, but why does the team have to follow convention? If they sign Bonds, the four-some of Bonds, Winn, Roberts and Linden are a servicable (at the very least, but I think its actually a formidable) outfield.

    Aurilia's signing, again, is a good signing. It didn't promise a lot of money for too long. He's a decent performer to boot. I don't expect himt o duplicate last season, but he'll bring more than Niekro/Sweeney/Hillenbrand did last year.

    The Molina signing is one that I'm still on the fence about, but it's not a terrible (or even bad) signing. Assuming he doesn't flop this year (or in any of the three years), he brings more offense to that position than we've had in any of the previous two or three seasons.

    All in all, I look forward to the rest of this week and the rest of the offseason. Sabean is doing well with this team, and if he sign's Bonds, it'll be even better.

  3. Here's the problem that you guys are not seeing:

    The Giants lost their best hitter, possibly 2 of them, and lost their best pitcher and the replacements are more expensive and less productive. The bullpen has not been addressed at all. So how are the Giants supposed to be better than their 3rd place, less than .500 finish of last year? It's folly to think that will happen.

    In addition, they have done nothing to fix the overriding problem with this franchise and that is the lack of young up-an-coming players that make this a viable franchise for the future. We are just one more year and many dollars removed from this goal again. Can you say mediocrity?

  4. I still think the rotation is going to be better than last year's but I have not said anything about the team being better than last year, at least not yet. I haven't sat down and looked at all the numbers, but I would agree with you that it seems, on the surface that the offense looks worse without Bonds, but I don't know if you can just blanket statement say that if Bonds return that the offense is worse given: 1) Bonds improving as his health improved, age or no, he has usually surprised and surpassed expectations; 2) sure, Alou is gone, but so is Finley who got a lot of ABs, and Alou didn't play that many games, whereas Winn appears to have been hurt all season and was consistently good the previous 4-5 years, so it would be logical to expect a bounce back; 3) Feliz couldn't be any worse than he was last season; 4) Roberts/Linden probably better than Alou/Finley; 5) Aurilia, maybe Frandsen, maybe Klesko, off the bench; 6) Molina/Alfonzo should provide better hitting than Matheny/Alfonzo.

    Plus, as you noted, the bullpen is not that great at the moment. I expect to see more of our in-between starters to be tried out in relief, like Misch, maybe others too.

    But I would agree with you that at first glance, the team as assembled might not do better than last year's 3rd place finish. I'm still waiting for the team to be assembled before jumping to any conclusions, though.

    But just railing at sound-bites has always seemed kind of useless and pointless to me, though I do it sometimes myself, I have always tried to take an objective view of things, and I think there could still be things to happen that could make all this worrying for naught or could make everything you say true. What I would rather do right now is investigate areas where we are relatively settled, like our rotation, and see what seems like reasonable assumptions to make, reasonable expectations to take. I think I've been reasonable in my pitching assumptions, rather than just fearing the worse like other people, I try to develop some logic why my view is the more plausible possibility. I posted some of my thinking on this on MCC and will transfer here when I get the chance.

  5. From MCC:

    I don't think my view is optimistic, I think I've tried to explain the reasons why my view is reasonable and probable. All you appear to be doing is saying "well, things go bad or average, they really do, so here they are."

    First, if you won't accept Cain's 3.10 second half, how about his stats after his one skipped start, since May 16th: 3.43 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 6.7 H/9, 8.9 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9, 2.1 K/BB. Basically he was lost, then the bulb went on May 16th and he outpitched Schmidt for 4.5 months. Schmidt had a 3.73 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 8.6 H/9, 8.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9, 2.3 K/BB after May 16th. Cain also matches Schmidt's season: 3.59 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 8.0 H/9, 7.6 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9, 2.3 K/BB. This is why I think Cain is ready to take Schmidt's place.

    For Morris, if you won't accept what I explained as extentuating circumstances for his performance, or lack thereof, would you accept his ERA at the time his injury was reported to have occurred, late August (stats to Aug 25): 4.47 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 9.0 H/9, 5.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 1.0 HR/9, 2.0 K/BB. Bad K/9 but low BB/9 mitigates that for good K/BB. As I had noted, I think Morris can beat Lowry's 2006 of 4.74 ERA, 1.39 WHIP.

    For Lowry, I had meant to delete the word "dominating" (and thought I did) as I figured not many would understand what I was talking about uless you are familar with the Pure Quality Start (or PQS) methodology. So I guess I better explain. Here is a link to my explanation - http://obsessivegiantscompulsive.blogspot.com/2006/04/giants-pqs-2006-season.html - and a link to an article by the creator of this methodology - http://www.baseballhq.com/tour/pqs.shtml. This methodology is why I'm so high on Lowry and Morris (and Cain as well).

    Lowry had a DOM% of 58% in 2005. If you want to look at a nice set of Comps, here are the pitchers who had higher DOM% in 2005: A.J. Burnett (63%), Carpenter (76%), Clemens (78%), Clement (59%), Colon (67%), Halladay (68%), Harden (74%), Randy Johnson (74%), Pedro Martinez (77%), Oswalt (66%), Peavy (70%), Pettitte (82%), Prior (59%), Johan Santana (79%), Vasquez (61%), Webb (64%), Willis (68%), Carlos Zambrano (64%). Only 18 MLB starters who had pitched in a significant number of games in 2005 had better DOM% than Lowry, hence why I called him "dominating".

    FYI: Schmidt was at 45% in 2005, and Cain ended 2006 with a 52% DOM%, and with a 67% DOM% in the second half, whereas Morris had a 48% DOM% in 2005 and a 47% DOM% in 2006, despite his troubles both seasons. Only 23 MLB starters in 2005 had better DOM% than Morris.

    Sanchez and Hennessey, I have no problem with what you said, that's why I would prefer to sign a veteran pitcher of some sort to take the #4 spot, but the bar is set pretty low there anyhow. And a 5.50 ERA for the #5 spot would not be that far from what we got last season anyway, and I'm trying to compare the 2007 rotation with the 2006 rotation. I would agree with a push there.

    Given all this, I don't think my view of where these pitchers' true talent level is all that distorted and optimistic. I think it is a reasonable one to take, with upside potential far outweighing any downside possibilities. The upsides are clear, but what about the downsides?

    For Cain, the downsides would be how Jerome Williams did and his arm problems early in his pro career. Jerome is nothing like the pitcher Cain is and as mature as Jerome was painted out to be, he wasn't, whereas Cain appears to be. And Cain has had no evidence of any sort of arm problems since that early incidence. So Cain faltering is reasonable to me if you are saying that young pitchers just do. But I can only accept this position if you can give me some stats on this, otherwise that's tarring everyone with the same brush, to me, and that's why I don't take that position as it stands.

    For Lowry, I agree with the downsides. But he was very good in 2005 as I showed above, nothing like 2006, and he had his injury to account for why his mechanics might have been screwed up. The oblique muscle on the side has got to be affected by the pitching motion, I can totally see him favoring that side and once that becomes a habit, it screws up your mechanics big time, making him unable to pitch like normal.

    His DOM% was only 17% before the ASG, 43% after the ASG, but his DIS% was just unsustainably high after the ASG too, at 37% - ideally you want to keep it in the teens and the elite keeps it under 10%. The signs of improvement and the injury to an area that affects his mechanics lead me to think that once he is all healed and get his mechanics back to normal, he'll be like he was in 2005. So that's a risk, but no more than any other pitcher being unable to repeat his mechanics, year in, year out, else we can just label any rotation out there as probably bad.

    Morris has the injury bugaboo, but as I have tried to show, when he is fine, he is a pretty good pitcher. I think his early season jitters, trying too hard, affected him early on, and if you take that out and the injury section out, he pitched pretty well.

    So the question is whether you think he'll be injured or not. I still wonder how he broke his ribs and didn't realize that they were broken and that it took the Giants medical staff a whole month to figure that one out. I wonder if that is why Conte left, not the Bonds thing, especially since Bonds and Magowan's statements made it seem unlikely he's coming back.

    I will grant that injury could screw up his season again, but this last injury appears to not be baseball related, and certainly not to the important wear and tear parts of his pitching motion, his arm or his shoulders, so I think there is a greater chance he'll be healthy than not.

    Hennessey and Sanchez, yeah, they can suck, most young pitchers suck, the key to me to matching Wright's suckiness in 2005 with young pitchers is we have 3, maybe 4, starters who are about ready to tackle the job: Hennessey, Sanchez, Correia, and Lincecum. So go with Sanchez first, then go to Hennessey if necessary, then Correia if Lincecum isn't ready, then Lincecum if he is ready. That's a lot of options, a lot of jell-o thrown on the wall and hopefully one of them will stick enough to match Wright's sucky stats.

    That leaves the 4th spot in the rotation, which is why I had been pushing to get a better pitcher for this spot, like a Schmidt or Zito. For all the negatives anyone can pile up on each of the other three, if you add a pitcher like either of these two, you are now saying the sky is falling if you think that all four of Cain, Lowry, Morris, and Schmidt/Zito are going to go bad. I am now for Zito because he would cost us a lower round pick whereas Schmidt is now rumored to go to the Cards and we would get their relatively high pick (couldn't be protected at 83 wins, so it could be a high teen pick, right?). I think if we can get together a good rotation, our offense will be good enough to win a lot of games, I think our best hope to winning in 2007 is to firm up the rotation and bullpen and get the offense good enough to be competitive almost every game.

    FYI: this was done just before Schmidt announced he was joining the Dodgers.

  6. I am also beginning to lean towards Zito. His '06 ERA of 3.83 ranked 15th in the AL when considering only pitchers who threw more than 100 innings. He threw 221 innings - a very important stat, in relation to bullpen maintenance, especially if you are going to feature a number of young - read, short inning - starters. His whip, if I calculate correctly was 1.40. That is comparable to Schmidt - but achieved in the DH league. His K/9 rate was 6.16 (again, if I calculated correctly - my first time calculating and I am no math whiz).
    Slightly less than $17 mil seems like a lot right now, but by year 3 it will seem like an absolute bargain.
    I don't think it matters if he is the #1 or 2 or even 3. What matters is he is solid, reliable, eats innings, wins, and is durable. He also seems unlikely to me to get arrested, or refuse to finish his card game when his catcher wants to go over the opposing team's hitters. I especially like the ability to eat innings. Cain, Sanchez, Linececum when he comes up, and, to a lesser extent, Lowerey, have a lot of high pitch, high stress innings, meaning they are often done after 5 or 6 innings. Having a horse who can give the pen some rest will be important for this team.

  7. I am also leaning toward Zito. There's no telling if he's going to be a complete ace through the entire contract, but he's better than the likes of pitchers getting 10-11 million a year.

    The main problem with getting Zito is that he cleans out the rest of the budget for this season (pretty much). The team still needs another hitter, hopefully a middle-of-the-order kind of guy.

    If the Giants can work out a deal where maybe he gets only 6-8 million this year, and balance the rest among the remaining 4-5 years of the deal, then it may just work. That little extra money will provide a little more room to sign Bonds, which will provide that pop.

    As allfrank points out, he's been solid and reliable over his career. He hasn't been injured or missed any starts (of course, knowing the Giants' luck, he may start as soon as he signs). His durability would provide Bochy with a lot of flexibility in the bullpen, as Zito will pretty much provide the bullpen with a day off when he pitches.

    Allfrank also points out that the team will have many young starters, all of whom may make really short starts (5 innings). That makes an "inning-eater" or two in the rotation that much more important. Hopefully Cain can also develop into an "inning-eater" (to pair up with Zito) and provide lots of rest for the bullpen.

    There's always the possibility that the Giants are just talking to Zito to make Barry think the Giants aren't afraid to spend his money elsewhere. The next few days (which is when I expect Zito and Bonds to sign where-ever they are signing) should be pretty interesting.



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