Friday, June 30, 2006

Lincecum has signed!!! Plus Sabean chat notes...

Lincecum has signed. No details on how much (but who cares!). He'll start out with Salem-Keizer. Now 25 players have been signed and 17 of the first 22.

Sabean Chat on KNBR 6/28

Listened in to their podcast version via RSS - both great inventions - and took some notes.
  • Cain not, NOT, NOT, NOT available for trade, he's off limits, he's being counted on for 2007. So you fans who talk about that is wrong. However, I don't recall him saying the same about Lowry.
  • Giants strong in pitching with Hennessey, Wilson, Taschner, Munter, so they are looking for a position player, 1B. They are open to a rent-a-player (Schmidt was one, I will note) but prefer a player that they control, like Winn was last year. Each minor league team has a "Do Not Trade" list compiled for each team which Sabean works from when talking with clubs.
  • Nothing really happening right now on the trade front, most clubs are wait and see mode until 10-14 days before the deadline when they start pulling the trigger.
  • Interested in re-signing Schmidt and Feliz, thinks there's mutual interest, though not sure how much Schmidt wants to test the free agent waters (a lot according to Schmidt quotes I saw over the past year, he does and looks forward to it, but Sabean has to put a good face on that).
  • When asked by Ralph if Worrell could be dropped, Sabean did not say that he was safe, he just talked about Worrell being on the spot and perplexing how he was doing well early then nothing, perhaps he came back too early from his DL stint and not 100%
  • Unsure on Bonds beyond this year, needs to see where Bonds is at the end of the season, physically and everything, lots of factors beyond chasing Aaron.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Giants Bashers in the Media

I feel the need to get this off my chest after hearing Ralph Barbieri of KNBR go on and on about how the Giants are so bad and Tim Kawakami wrote a column about how the Giants should just punt this season and move on to the future. That's fine and well if we were say, Kansas City and 26 games out already. It might even be acceptable if we were the Los Angeles Angels, the worse team for the most money, and 7 games back.

But we are only 3 games back (at the time these complaints were made, we're now 2 games back), less, I think, than when the Chicago White Sox wrote off their season and traded all those players to the Giants in 1997. Less, I KNOW, than where the A's were last season when Beane restructured the team drastically by trading away Hudson and Mulder but was horribly struggling in the early season and still only 34-40 and 10.5 games back as of 6/25 (baseball-reference.com is THE best!). The Giants can still get it together and get into the playoffs this season, it is there for the taking.

The Playoffs is Not the Season

What many people forget is that the playoffs is not the season. During the season, there will be ebbs and flows, and sometimes people will be hurting. You can take all the potshots against the team of older players that the Giants have picked up, but the Cubs are suffering greatly but they are missing a bunch of 20's somethings in Prior, Wood, and Lee. The Dodgers last year was upended by injuries to young players JD Drew, Milton Bradley, Brad Penny, and Eric Gagne. Injuries happen, whether young or old, that is always the wild card for any team, young or old.

The season is the marathon. Sometimes you are scuffling, sometimes you are full of energy, but the main point is that you get to the end of the season ahead of everyone else (or literally everyone else if wild card). You have to balance your rotation and your roster so that you can outlast the other teams in your division and win it. That is what you work for and we are now only 2 games back and was only a game or two back not that long ago and could be on top of the division with a very short win streak.

Young or Old: Respect the Playoffs

You never know when you will ever get to the playoffs again or reach the World Series. Pittsburgh fans must have thought with Leyland around, they would make the playoffs year after year, but they haven't been back or seriously close to getting back since they last won the division in 1992. Dan Marino thought he would return to the Super Bowl after losing to the Niners but never reached it again.

In addition, in the playoffs you never know what happens when you get there. Sure, people are injured now, but the key point is how healthy the team is when the playoffs start. And frankly, young or old, that's all random luck, though admittedly higher risks for the older but still there are plenty of older players ready to play and, not only play, but play well in the playoffs.

Giants Can Win In The Playoffs

And if the Giants are healthy, the Giants have one of the best lineups around. Look at all the stats the media gives on Bonds and Alou about how good the Giants record is when both are in the lineup or even when it is just Bonds in the lineup. They rock when they are in there. With Alou and Bonds in the lineup, the Giants have been 13-8 and with Bonds in there, they were 30-23, which means that Bonds without Alou is 17-15. And that included a large dollop of Schmidt not pitching like SCHMIDT, Morris lost among his newfound million$, Lowry injured and Lowry returned and not doing well, Cain pitching like a new, young pitcher normally do and not like the wunderkind he was in 2005, and the bullpen imploding once again before recovering with fresh blood from the farm system.

Now Schmidt and Morris are pitching like the 1-2 punch they are suppose to be. Lowry is still searching for his mojo but Cain and Wright have been filling the 4-5 spots well enough that Lowry's struggles haven't been killing the team, particularly when Cain is throwing a 1-hitter. Plus Lowry is more of a second half guy anyhow, he struggles early, then figures out his changeup to devastating effect the past two seasons.

And the bullpen has been on fire for a long while now, since all the major changes have been made, moving out the ineffective players and bringing up Accardo and Sanchez, and putting Correia and Hennessey in the pen as well. By the end of the season, our pitching staff is probably going to be as good as any out there - at least Kawamaki should agree, he touts how the A's youth gets better in his article and our pitching staff is pretty young so he should agree.

Plus look at the A's that he praises. 34 year old Loaiza. 32 year old Kendall. Chavez back hurting, Ellis out extended period on DL, Dan Johnson unable to buy a hit until recently, Doug Clark, a failed Giants postion prospect who couldn't make it with us is on their roster, Kielty is almost 30, Kotsay is 30, Payton is 33, and Frank Thomas is the oldest of the bunch. They have their own issues with injuries, they have lost Ellis again to the DL, same with Harden, other players have been hurt too. Youth does not mean injury free, it is part of the game, whether young or old.

Aim for the Playoffs

So if your team is close to the playoffs and the team is good when they are healthy and playing together, then you owe it to your fans to keep the team going, not punt the team just because you think maybe we're not good enough. The team is too close not to try their hardest. Three games is not that much, particularly when the half way point of the season has not been reached.

Kawakami suggests that the Giants should just give it up because of the injuries and states Mark Sweeney in left field as a "sign of the Giants' potential Baseball Apocalypse," which is a pretty over the top statement. He does have some tongue firmly in cheek that he's not all serious because he also suggests that the Giants petition Selig to undo the Pierzynski deal. Still, his suggestions don't make much sense to me, I don't see how that's better than where the Giants are now.

Kawakami Makes No Sense

First, he suggests that the Giants announce that Bonds is not welcome back next year because "he's not great anymore." Well, that's just Tim's unstated desire to be rid of having to follow and write about Bonds. Because even if you punt a season, it doesn't mean you just burn all the bridges down along with it, and announcing this would do that because Bonds would be sullen and disruptive to the team in his final days. Plus, Bonds doesn't need to be great next season, we just don't have to PAY him a salary for a great player. As another columnist noted, Bonds leads the team in homeruns and he's not playing every day. And he still gets on at a .456 clip, which is still great in my book. So he's still a good player, he's on a 20-25 HR pace, with an OBP of .456, there aren't that many players out there like that, just be sure you are paying him fairly.

Second, he suggests we trade Schmidt for two top-line prospects. Well, that's all fine and good, but the A's trades shows the beauty and the folly of that type of deal with their trade of Mulder - beauty - and Hudson - folly - because none of the players the A's got for Hudson has done anything substantial for the MLB team yet, whereas Haren and Calero have been great and Barton is one of their top hitters in their system already. Trading Schmidt doesn't mean you will get two good players, let alone great players, but because you are afraid that the team will be bad, you screw the season and take that risk, maybe get two good players and maybe not.

Third, he wants to trade off Durham or Vizquel. Durham makes some sense in that we have Frandsen ready to play 2B for us but there's absolutely no sense in trading Vizquel. We have no alternative in our farm system who could take SS right now. We don't save that much money trading him. Despite him still hitting and fielding well, no one will give up much of any prospect for him, he's old and he's still owed some bit of money, we'll be lucky to get a mid-tier prospect for him. What is there to gain from this move? Plus our defense will go down and the pitchers will not be happy about that, nor will the team's ERA.

Alternative View

I understand that columnists have to feed the paper beast, but there's another way to see the Giants situation. Here they are, they have been struggling with one thing or another for the whole season now. Schmidt struggling to find his velocity, Morris an expensive mistake, Lowry out injured, and Cain erratic, good one game, bad the next, leaving Wright as their best starter?!?!? Bullpen so bad that they had to call up a bunch of pitchers, converting one potential starter into a reliever, in order to get it pitching well again. Hitting marred either by cold streaks or injuries - Matheny out indefinitely with concussion effects, Niekro on DL twice already, Durham has his usual aches and pains plus he's not hitting, Alou hurt his ankle and missed a bunch of games, Vizquel just twisted his back the other day, Bonds battling one thing or another. And yet, despite all those problems, they are still only 2 games back.

Who's to say when a player might get injured? Players do have years where they avoid the DL. And age is not a discriminator, injuries happen to players young and old. To just quit the season so early, just seems ludicrous to me, we are close enough to take the division.

And we have a great chance in the playoffs this year. I believe in strong pitching. Schmidt and Morris is a nice 1-2 punch now. If Lowry can do his usual second-half Superman routine, we'll have a solid 1-2-3 starters. And if Cain can progress like Blanton did last season, he could have a good head of steam going into the playoffs, giving us 4 good starters.

You complement that with a great bullpen - and the Giants right now have a pretty good one except for Benitez, who is still struggling. They have brought up people and they have done the job for the Giants, helping to keep the scoring down. The bullpen went from a question mark to a very sturdy looking one, and they should only get better because most of them are so young, they have to get better, at least according to Kawakami.

Then the lineup could be good to great. Winn is a second half guy so he should improve a lot. Vizquel tends to fade in the second half, hopefully having Frandsen around will help him stay fresh. Niekro is a wild card, he could be good, he could be bad, it just depends. Push to shove, I would say he would hit well, he has hit everywhere he has went. Bonds and Alou make a great pair in the middle of the horses. Feliz appears to be trying to learn to take more pitches, at least at home, he is actually hitting very well at home, he needs to boost up his road numbers.

Then we have Sweeney, Finley, and Greene on the bench, all vets who can hit well enough to be a starter, probably. And for extended periods, where a player is on the DL, they are the starter. Righties and lefties. Good for average and good for power and good for speed.

All it will take is a little bit of health in order to get everyone on the team hitting better, good hitting is often contagious. That would enable an extended win streak where the Giants make a challenge to the leader relatively quickly, being only 2 games back. And if the health stays, the Giants can have some momentum going forward and into the playoffs. True, a lot of things have to go right to enable this view. But so does a lot of things have to go wrong to enable Kawakami's view. Six of one, half a dozen for another.

And in the playoffs, they would drop Wright probably and call up some reliever, like Valdez or Brian Wilson, to enable Alou to pull off more moves. We could have a crushingly good 4 man rotation in Schmidt, Morris, Lowry, and Cain if the youngsters can figure things out by season's end. And in the playoffs, Bonds, Alou and Matheny won't be taking a rest, the starters would start every game. I think we would look good in the playoffs, but first we need to get there first by winning the division and not by punting this season and trading away expensive vets.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

News on Giants farmhands: Ishikawa, EME, Pereira

I was browsing the USA Today Fantasy Baseball News site, when I ran into some Giants notes that I thought I would follow up on here.

Ishikawa!

Travis Ishikawa homered in both games of the doubleheader that Connecticut played on Sunday, plus singled and drove in five RBIs. A site -Brew Crew Ball - that now gives splits for minor league players has been a god-send for us people who love to diddle with numbers and I thought I would look at Ishikawa's numbers to see if there's anything interesting (plus give the site a plug, great work he's doing). These numbers are as of 6/23 so it would not include the homers he hit on 6/25.

Unsurprisingly, he's hitting RHP better than LHP since he's a LHH, but the mildly surprising thing is that he's doing OK against LHP as well. He is hitting .231/.302/.410/.713 with 1 HR in 39 AB (OK, small samples, but still :^) vs. LHP, hitting .265/.349/.416/.765 with 3 HR in 113 AB. That only works out to about 16 HRs in a season (though the 2 HR on Sunday will bump that up to 24 HR). 18 walks against 44 strikeouts, he is right around the 50% mark that is the standard for minimum performance, but, as before, just short of it. He's not walking as much as before, but it could be because he's been pulled to the MLB 3 times, which probably ruined whatever rhythm he could have built up.

I have read that the Eastern League is a pitchers league and that Connecticut is a particularly good pitcher's park and Ishikawa's home/road numbers support that. At home, he's hitting only .253/.330/.342/.671 with 1 HR in 79 AB whereas on the road, he's hitting .260/.345/.493/.838 with 3 HR in 73 AB. That home park just kills his power, he has triple the HR and doubles on the road in equal ABs. That shows in his percentage of hits that are extra-base hits: his XBH/H for home is 20% and on the road is 53%.

He has not really homered much, given his past power, in the EL so far, but that has been his pattern so far in his career in that he struggles to find consistency when he enters a new league. He would have a week where he is a hitting god and then a week when he is a whiffing god. When he is on, he doesn't strike out so badly or so often. Hopefully, this two homer combo is the start of when he got everything together, it has taken him to May in past years to figure things out enough to start blasting balls out of the yard with much greater frequency and who knows how being pulled to the majors 3 times has affected that adjustment for him. But even when he has figured things out, he would still swing back and forth like a pendulum, just with longer stretches of dominance. Hopefully his taste of the Rich and Famous Lifestyle he got while in the majors will incent him even more to be consistent.

EME!

Bad news for EME: he just had surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder and is expected to miss the rest of the season. He hurt his shoulder on May 6th and, I guess, when rest didn't fix it, they had to go in. Too bad, he was hitting .272/.324/.446/.770 in 92 AB, which is not that good for him, but like Travis, he is adversely affected by playing in Connecticut. The note says that this does not affect his future, that he can still make the majors as either a LF or DH.

Well, he's only 22 years old, so there's still plenty time for him to become the LF after Bonds retires - my guess right now is that Bonds will play 2007 but then retire, leaving LF open for EME in 2008. He has hit everywhere the Giants have put him, and with power, so he appears to be a lock to hit in the majors when the time comes. The key questions are A) what position can he play and B) will he ever be not injured? He's becoming like Lance Niekro, a fragile player who can hit when healthy but all too often he's not healthy. There are players like that who have a long career, JD Drew, Gary Sheffield, even Moises Alou, but that makes it tough on which ever team he is on, because they are out so often.

Pereira!

Nice article on homeboy Nick Pereira in the Merc today. He is from a local high school, Cupertino High, and has been pitching lights out this season for the San Jose Giants, so good that he was selected to start for the California League All-Star game, and so good that the Giants promoted him to Fresno, bypassing Connecticut, but preventing him from making that All-Star Game. But that's probably OK with him, as he has been selected to play in the Futures Game, part of the MLB All-Star game events leading up to the actual game. I think Merkin Valdez, Matt Cain, and Marcus Sanders have participated in previous Futures Games, so that is pretty prestigious.

He is one of the specialties - if he can be called that - of the Giants draft organization: he was previously a position player (SS) who tried his hand at pitching when he realized that he wouldn't ever be able to hit well enough and then excelled when he tried pitching. Jesse Foppert and Joe Nathan are two previous converts, and I know there are others (Coutlangus? Someone still in the system too) but they escape my mind right now. He started pitching just five years ago and was so unhighly touted that the Giants were able to pick him up in the 10th round of the 2005 draft.

At 23 year old now, he is slightly a little on the old side for the California League (bulk of players are 22-23, one prospect analyst says a true prospect would be 21 years old or younger by A+ level that the California League is), so that is probably a factor in why they decided to try him up higher in AAA, to see if he could handle it already, whereas they could take their time with Cain, who was much younger. Since the writer felt compelled to note Nick's 2.09 ERA and 7-1 record in 13 starts for San Jose but neglects to note any stats for his time in Fresno other than to say "Pereira has had two solid starts with Fresno," my guess is that he didn't do that well but not that poorly either, he was "solid" and ate a number of innings without embarrassing himself.

I like his quote from the artcile: "Things really have come together, but I wouldn't say I'm surprised. I set pretty high goals for myself, and I don't handle failure very well. " I like that confidence mixed with distaste for failure, no in your face bravado, just quiet polite confidence. That matches well with a quote from Bobby Evans, the Giants' director of player personnel, "The biggest thing about Nick is that we throws strikes. He's also such a competitor. He has great makeup." His coach at San Jose, Lenn Sakata had this to say, "He gives you the total package. How far he goes, time will tell. But I like what I've seen so far." Lastly, I was pretty shocked by the quote from his college coach, when he decided to try pitching, "In his first game, his first pitch was 94 MPH, and then he hit 97. That's when my pitching coach and I looked at each other and said, 'This guy is special.' "

If he was that good from the start, all I have to ask is why nobody tried him out as a pitcher until then? How do all his coaches miss that he had such a strong and accurate arm all through Little League (or whichever youth league he played in; my son plays in PONY League, and there's also the Babe Ruth League, among other better known youth leagues) and then into high school and even college? Pitching may be different in Little League, but in PONY League, every year my son has played, pitching has always been a premium and scarce, and there is always one point of each season where the coach pulls in someone who hasn't really pitched but is a good thrower, and put him or her in to pitch.

Though I guess it is nice that this was missed, otherwise the Giants might not have been able to draft him and they certainly wouldn't have been able to draft him in the 10th round of the draft, he probably would have gone higher. If he was throwing 97 MPH from high school on, he would have been more highly scouted (assuming this speed was there from the beginning and not just suddenly blossomed in college, somehow) and there would have been more scouts aware of his talent. Whereas how it worked out, the scout might scoff and say, "wasn't he that SS that sucked?" when he saw that Pereira was now a pitcher.

As I noted, this seems to be a specialty of the Sabean brain trust, I guess this is an area of inefficiency among scouts that give the Giants an edge with pitchers like this. Nathan has done very well despite starting out as a position player, despite even his arm problems that shelved him for a while, and struggling to find his way back.

In addition, Pereira was a local product who might not have gotten much attention because he started out with DeAnza, a small community college in the SF Bay Area, which is how the Giants snagged Foppert and Schierholtz before (both were grabbed much earlier than Baseball America thought they would be selected, based on talent ranking). In Schierholtz's case (could be Foppert too, just don't know his situation), he was a collective "huh?" when he was selected, he probably could have been selected a few rounds later but the Giants appear to try to draft based on their internal ranking of players and when his name comes up, they draft him.

Hopefully Sabean et al can keep finding these guys hidden in their backyard. Talent evaluation is so hard once you get past the first 10-20 picks (depending on the year), that any advantage a team can find can be a huge advantage. Just look at our team for how important that is. What do you think would have happened to a team who traded away Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser? Wouldn't most teams be devastated, talent-wise, in their farm system for years? And yet the Giants have essentially rebuilt the pitching staff with homegrown players in the years since then, with Lowry, Cain, and Accardo as the centerpieces of that.

Take Accardo. Here we fans are, casually noting that he's the closer of the future, why don't we just get rid of Benitez, but I wonder how many even realize how 180 degrees that would be prior to the year he could have been drafted. Yes, could have been drafted, the Giants signed him after the draft as an unsigned free agent (not sure why they did that instead of just drafting him in the 51st round), meaning any team could have signed him. Then he came in and led the farm system with 28 saves his first professional season, then the year after that he was already called up to the team and pitched well, and this season he's been the main setup man for much of the season and is being talked about for closer duties even with the incumbent around (OK, Benitez's not doing that well, but still he has been a good closer for years, even if not here, and his stuff is finally returning to normal).

At this rate, pretty soon Sabean is going to be having starters coming out of his ears - Pereira, Hinshaw, Joaquin, Griffin, Martis, to name but a few of the top starting prospects - and he'll pick off the cream to put in our rotation and trade off the rest for the position players he will need. But that's a post for another day.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Lincecum is Near: Wins Golden Spike Award too

It was announced on sfgiants.com that Tim Lincecum, our 10th pick this year, won the prestigious Golden Spike award, given to the best amateur baseball player each year (so if there is ever a LeBron James equivalent in baseball, I guess theoretically he could win this award too). The other finalists was a who's who of Top 10 draft picks: Evan Longoria(#3), Andrew Miller(#6), Drew Stubbs (#8), and David Price (Price was the only non-drafted player; he is a sophomore). He's the first from University of Washington, amazingly, no school has ever repeated in the 28 years this award has been given.

Lincecum had this to say about the award:
"It doesn't get much better than this," Lincecum said. "Having a great season,
going in the draft, this is one of the biggest things to happen to me. Winning
the award is a big honor for me. It just feels really good to win it."

Signing Soon?

Lincecum also had a quote about his signing status:

"I's getting very close to where I'm going to put on a San Francisco -- or whatever farm team in their system -- hat," Lincecum said. "Signing is getting very close.

"I'm really psyched for it. It's going to be an exciting time for me. I'm finally going out on my own and finding out what it's all about."

Hopefully this is not a PR smokescreen but really that he is near. Makes me very nervous he hasn't signed yet when 4 of the top 5, 5 of the top 9, and 10 of the top 20 picks have already signed and so his bonus slot is pretty much clear: around $1.8M - #8 pick signed for $2M and #12 signed for $1.6M. Hopefully he's signed this weekend with press conference Monday morning to announce it.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

What's Up with Frandsen Call Up

The Giants announced that Frandsen is coming up and, this time, will see more time in the starting lineup, playing 2B, 3B, and SS. Frandsen has had two previous callups. First time he was playing 2B extensively because Durham was DLed. The second time he didn't really play much at all. Now he's being brought up a third time with the mandate that he's going to see a lot more playing time but as a utility IF, essentially, playing 2B, 3B, and SS, but in a semi-starting role, varying by day, ostensibly to give Durham, Vizquel, and Feliz some rest time during the heat of summer.

What are the implications? Does it mean the Giants see him only as a utility IF? Or do they see this as an opportunity to play him regularly without having a regular position for him? One of the publications I buy list his potential only as a utility IF but the Giants have been touting his abilities as a major leaguer (not incompatible positions, either).

Perhaps this means that the Giants are testing him now to see how he hits as a semi-regular to see if either he or Durham (I assume Durham) can be a trading chip in the upcoming "trade winds" period of the baseball season. Maybe they want to sell high on Frandsen, since there had been talk of him starting in some circles (mainly Giants fans :^). Or do they hope Frandsen plays well enough for the Giants to consider trading Durham off and starting Frandsen in his place?

The only Giants that Sabean has openly talked about re-signing is Schmidt and if Durham is healthy (enough) he has been a solid player for the Giants, though never the healthy basestealing leadoff hitter we thought we were getting. A playoff team could use a good hitter like Durham going into the playoffs, particularly if their 2B is either lacking or injured. Mets come to mind there with their trading of Kazuo Matsui for nothing much to the Rockies a few weeks ago.

This also appears to me to be a sign that the Giants are not happy with Vizcaino's production so far and he could be the next DFA on the team with Frandsen taking his role permanently (instead of just currently since his description sounds like what Vizcaino has supposedly been doing but he's probably played more 1B than anything from my recollection).

In addition, the SFGiants.com article also notes that Vizcaino, Sweeney and Greene might see time at 1B going forward (even though in the same article, it is noted that Niekro is due to come off DL next Tuesday - I wonder who goes down then, sounds like Frandsen's up for a while, hopefully Hennessey so he can start in minors) but based on the lack of offense the Giants have been suffering through, I see the significant point of this note is that Greene will see time at 1B, which would mean a three-way at 1B between Niekro the titular main starter but Sweeney and Greene also seeing significant time at 1B. And, hey, why not, Felipe has got to be seeing Greene bash the ball all around and licking his chops thinking about how he can get him in the lineup more often, perhaps because Eliezer has been doing so well catching. I guess this is also a sign that the Giants don't think Ishikawa is ready to platoon with Niekro - a prospect tout publication has rated Ishikawa's potential as, at best, a platoon 1B.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Giants PQS: Updated To June 18

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the 2006 season as of June 18, as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book.

Giants Starters' PQS for 2006 Season (as of June 18, 2006)

Matt Cain - ( 33% DOM, 33% DIS): 3, 4, 1, 4, 5, 0, 1, 3, 3, 3, 0, 4
Brad Hennessey - ( 0% DOM, 20% DIS): 3, 2, 3, 1, 2,
Noah Lowry - (12.5% DOM, 25% DIS): 3, 1, 3, 2, 5, 2, 3, 0
Matt Morris - ( 46% DOM, 15% DIS): 3, 4, 3, 1, 4, 1, 2, 3, 2, 5, 4, 5, 4
Jason Schmidt - ( 71% DOM, 0% DIS): 3, 5, 4, 3, 5, 5, 4, 3, 4, 5, 4, 5, 4, 3
Jamey Wright - ( 29% DOM, 21% DIS): 3, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 4, 5, 4, 0, 3, 0, 3, 3

Giants overall - 38% DOM, 18% DIS out of 66 games pitched

NOTE: I think technically, under the system, Lowry's first start and Morris' start where he promptly got ejected, should count against their totals, but I think under the extenuating circumstances, they should not, basically because this system tries to ferret out how the good performances by a starter and none of those games were zeros because of a poor performance. Lowry got injured early in the game; and Morris got ejected early in the game.

Latest Comments

The Giants starters overall have been pitching well in their games. A DOM near or around the 40% mark is indicative of good pitching; above 50% is great and above 70% is elite. A low DIS is also indicative of good pitching. So, generally, the Giants pitching has been doing OK this season and has been bordering on good overall:
  1. Schmidt has been very dominating and he has returned to elite status, joining those with a DOM greater than 70%. And he has not even had one disaster start yet. He's returned to his dominating ways in time to become a free agent. As I noted in another post, Sabean said that the Giants are looking to try to re-sign Schmidt in the off-season but I'm not sure if it's to honestly try and re-sign him or to get the draft picks in compensation.
  2. Morris continued to improve, running off a string of dominant starts since the last update, bringing his streak to 4 starts now. As a result, he has brought up his DOM% to 46%, which has been his range (40-49%) for the last few years of his career, after he had his arm problems and had to become more of a finesse pitcher. Being a hyper-competitive personality, perhaps he was too amped up to control his pitches - I noticed that he couldn't really strike out a lot of batters, not even once in a while, like he did in previous seasons, which until recently would be a sign that he's pretty much done. He didn't reach 5 K's in a game until early May and just had his first start with over 5 K's, which I am taking as a sign that he's finally either calmed down or figured things out.
  3. Lowry, despite apparently doing well his first start, it was just OK as the underlying PQS metrics says he is lacking in quality. Unfortunately, he could not build off of the dominating start he recently had and had a poor string of games, culminating in his disaster in his last start. I'm beginning to worry about Lowry because he hasn't really been the same since his injury. Even last season, when he started off poorly, he still had 50%DOM/22%DIS in the first half of the season, which in retrospect was a sign of his dominance coming in the second half of the seasons (67%DOM/0%DIS second half), and there is not that many starts until we reach the half way point for this season. I don't know if he is pressing because of his newly signed big contract or if the injury affected him more than he thought or what, but he has not been himself at any point this season and we need him to straighten things out by season's end because we need him in the playoffs, should we make it.
  4. Matt Cain was doing well early, with a few dominant starts, but maybe the lack of overt success (i.e. wins and low ER) got to him and he started messing around with his mechanics or something, leading to all the disaster starts. However, after skipping one start to work on his mechanics, along with a relief outing, he has pitched much better since then. The 1-hitter was particularly good, though it didn't qualify as a dominating start because of the high number of walks and relatively low strikeouts, but that was against an Oakland team built to do exactly that so that probably wasn't all his fault. And after a disaster start against Pittsburgh at home, he had a dominating type of game in Arizona, which would be the opposite of what one would expect. Hopefully he can build off of that start going forward, starting with tonight.
  5. Wright is doing as well as could be expected, but he was also just one out away from a DOM start when the umpire blew the call and gave the other team a baserunner. He then gave up a bunch of hits - had the umpire not blow the call, he would have gotten a DOM. In any case, he has been pitching well enough for the team as the number five starter, making up for Morris not being the Morris we expected to get when he was signed. Luckily Wright's performance covered for Morris and now it looks like Morris has returned to normal, about the same type Wright returned to normal (unfortunately). But he is as advertised, someone who can deliver about 30-39% dominating starts, an average pitcher who will have his ups and downs - I had been hoping, per pre-season posts, that he could be more than that with San Francisco, pushing himself up to the 40-49% range that marks a good pitcher but so far he has not been able to deliver that yet. Maybe it takes a while for pitchers to get used to AT&T Mays Fields like the way batters have to spend some time there to get used to hitting there: on the road, he has a 3.10 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and .223 BAA with no disaster starts, whereas at home he has a 6.18 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, and .302 BAA with three disaster starts (he has two dominating starts in each).

The rotation is shaping out nicely. Schmidt has been on a tear for a while now. Morris and Cain just tossed dominating games. And Wright has been the most consistent pitcher outside of Schmidt and helped carry the team while the other three starters have been struggling with one thing or another. Only Lowry appears to be still struggling seriously, which will keep win streaks short, along with Wright struggling to figure out pitching at home.

But the Giants should be getting good performances overall going forward. With all the key hitters back in the lineup, the Giants could start climbing up the NL Western division towards first place over the next few weeks. Particularly with Winn getting close to July, when he starts to turn things on, historically, during his career, and Bonds apparently getting healthier and hitting better. Being only a couple of games out despite being at the bottom of the division helps as well.

Methodology Explanation

Please look at my link to the side for my explanation of Baseball Forecaster's methodology.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Lincecum: starter or reliever?

I have been seeing some Giants fan wonder if the Giants will use Lincecum as a starter or reliever. Part of this, I believe, is due to Dick Tidrow's comment on sfgiants.com that "He's a fast mover who can pitch in either a starting or relief role." Part of it is because a lot of analysts pre and post draft have said that he is the draft pick most likely to be able to contribute to a team late 2006 season in a relief role. Part of it is because a number of analysts have compared him to a number of relievers, like Scot Shield, Francisco Rodriguez, and Billy Wagner. Lincecum himself compared himself to Huston Street, another reliever, in the above link. Plus some have pointed out his potential arm abuse and say why fight conventional wisdom.

Dave Cameron of USS Mariner Didn't Like the Pick

There are two major reasons why Dave Cameron of USS Mariner didn't care to draft Lincecum so early in the first round - he thought late 1st round was best. One was he thought Lincecum had bad mechanics. Which made him a big risk for an early pick. Another was Lincecum's pitching abuse at UW. I forgot where I saw this but someone has a site with college stats with PAP (BP's Pitcher's Abuse Points; sum of square of pitches above 100 thrown by a pitcher in a game) calculated and Lincecum's has been obscene the past two seasons, something like 400,000 in 2006, 250,000 in 2005, where most pitchers are under 100,000 and most are much under 100,000.

In general, over-using a pitcher, particularly a college one, is not a good sign at all, but as Leo Mazzone showed with the Braves, he emphasized throwing more often in order to build up the arm strength. And that is the key with Lincecum, this is something Lincecum's dad taught him to do and he's probably been doing this since he was in t-ball. He wouldn't be able to throw so much in between starts and not have his arm fall off by now AND still throw in the high 90's late in the game, if his arm could not take it. I mean, my god, he doesn't even ice his arm after the game, he is as he was quoted as saying, he's a freak of nature.

Cameron thinks that the arm abuse, his small stature, and his bad mechanics make him a poor risk for such an early pick, why hope that he's the rare pitcher who can take such abuse, when you can pick other pitchers just as talented but with no issues. I think the key signs that he's unique and thus need to be considered differently is: 1) being able to throw in the high 90's late in the game, 2) not needing to ice his arm after games, and 3) he can long throw the next day without any problem. He's like that old story I used to read about how a farm boy comes to his first baseball game and flings the ball over the fence, wowing the team: sometimes these types of guys fall out of the tree and you just have to thank your lucky stars you got to him first.

Lincecum: Starter or Reliever?

I have no doubts that the Giants view him as a starter. There are a number of reasons some people question this. One is because there were analysts who before the draft said that Lincecum is the most likely to be able to contribute to a major league team this season and so the people who are analyzing the Giants draft picked up on this and question what the Giants will do with Lincecum. Plus Tidrow did say that he could start or relieve, without clarifying that. And another commenter, in the official Giants PR, noted that he could be an "exceptional closer."

No one drafts a reliever with the 10th pick of the draft and pays him $2-3M in bonus. He might eventually becomes one, but you shoot for the gusto with the 10th pick and start him. In addition, he has been compared to Roy Oswalt, who wouldn't want to have a dominating starter like that, particularly when we already have a number of closer prospects in Valdez, Accardo, and Wilson vying for the position. Voters for the Cy Young might be confused about the value of a starter vs. a closer but baseball teams are not, Benitez was one of the top closers on the market and still got about what a mediocre starter (Kris Benson) got. As well, in another article from the same news conference (in Chron), Tidrow did say that "the pitcher would ease into pro ball with limited pitch counts and extra rest between starts." Starts, not relief appearances.

Now, might the Giants use him as a reliever in September? I don't see why not as long as they are convinced, after seeing him pitch day in, day out, for one of our farm teams, and have our doctors examine him and convince themselves that he really is a freak of nature and can take all these pitches. Plus, they would need to feel that the bullpen needs a shot in the arm at the end of the year, you never know what happens, remember the year we got desperate and traded for an old Giants pitcher (was it Burba?) only to see HIM get injured in, like, the second game we got him and lose him.

That said, TINSTAAPP (There is no sucha thingy as a pitching prospect). But, to me, this is about as good as any pitcher a team could get at the top of the draft. There are no sure things, but there is a lot to like about Lincecum.

Why I like Lincecum

There are plenty of things to like about Lincecum:
  • It sounds like he was taught great mechanics already, despite what Cameron says. Another analyst noted, " Lincecum's stuff is as good as or better than any college pitcher in the draft. He throws a mid-90s fastball and an outstanding curve. A veteran scout that I spoke to rated Lincecum's fastball as a 7 (on the 1-8 scale the team uses) or a 70 (on the more traditional 20-80 range). He called Lincecum's curve and change-up a 6 and his pitchability a 65. "
  • He has trained his arm to be able to throw a lot of pitches and, as a result, a lot of innings. Innings eaters are very valuable, else mediocre pitchers who pitch a lot of innings wouldn't be getting $5-7M per year contracts.
  • He can throw 3-digit heat and keep the high 90's heaters going late into the game.
  • He has four quality pitches according to his coach and at minimum, two quality pitches is always mentioned, his fastball and his curveball (which is a lot like Cain's strength), with a good slider noted sometimes as well.
  • He doesn't need to ice his arm down after a start
  • He can throw - from "pole to pole" - the next day after a start - can we say "rubber arm"?
  • He has control problems, based on the number of walks he issued, but the same can be said about Matt Cain.

Hopefully he signs fast and with little fuss and we'll be good to go! According to his agents in the Chron article, they will start negotiating with the Giants "in a few days", so they should have started already. Kasey Kiker, who is a LHP from high school selected with the 12th pick, recently signed for $1.6M bonus, which is a little low for that pick from recent years, despite it being a high school player, who has greater leverage in negotiating since he can just go to school if he wished to.

So the Giants might not have to shell out as much as last year's #10 pick, Cameron Maybin, who got $2.65M from the Tigers, as he was from high school as well. Plus, as most analysts acknowledged, the talent in this draft was no where as strong as previous drafts, it was rated as the worst draft since 2000 in terms of strong talent up front, so the bonuses should not be as much as last year as well. As I said, hopefully he will sign soon, probably for around $2M (probably in the low $2M range).

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Giants Original Homerun Hitter, Par Excellante: Roger Connor

There are many Giants players names who are instantly recognizable by die-hard Giants fans. Of course, there are Barry Bonds, Willie Mays, and Willie McCovey. Not as remembered but up there with those three is Mel Ott. The next tier of homerun hitters include Orlando Cepeda, Bobby Bonds, Matt Williams, Bobby Thompson, Will Clark, Jack Clark, Dave Kingman, Jeff Kent, Kevin Mitchell, and Jim Ray Hart. But the first of the Giants big homerun hitters was Roger Connor.

One Who Contributed To Our Team Name

Part of the original New York Giants team, the big guy - at 6' 3", 220 lb. - was one of the players contributing to the "Giants" nickname that was given to the team. Roger Connor spent most of his career with the NY Giants. His first three seasons were with the Troy Trojans, a precursor to the Giants as a number of their players moved on to the Giants when the Trojans folded, before joining the Giants for most of his next 11 seasons, with one season stints with the New York Giants of the Players League in 1890 and the Philadephia Phillies in 1892. Then he was traded to the St. Louis Browns in 1894 and finished his career with them in 1897.

He didn't hit many homers for the Giants initially but in the year he turned 30, he went from 7 homers the year before to 17 homers. When his career ended, he played 18 seasons, 1997 games, with 138 homers, good for the career lead in homeruns in the MLB until someone named George Herman Ruth passed him up like he was standing still in 1921. He ended up playing 1120 games for the Giants and in his 4,346 Giants at bats he hit 76 homeruns for the Giants.

He Was THE Original Giants Homerun Hitting All-Around Hitter

In all, Roger Connor had a career batting average of .358 (league average of .282 according to baseball-reference.com, from whence I gathered all my data for him), on-base percentage of .434 (league average of .341), slugging percentage of .577 (league average of .390), and OPS of 1.010 (league average of .731).

While Connor's homerun mark is road kill after the offensive era arrived, he is still 86th in hits with 2,467, 5th in triples with 233 and 85th in doubles in 441. In addition, he is still 38th in runs scored and 79th in RBI with 1322, despite not being in the leaders in career at bats. He was in the top 5 in homeruns in 8 seasons – leading the league once – and in the top 10 in 12 seasons. He eventually held the MLB career mark for homeruns from 1895 to 1920, a total of 25 years.

Not too shabby for a player he hasn't played in nearly 110 years and who has been dead 75 years. Roger Connor was the Barry Bonds of his times. My main surprise, besides that the SF Giants organization hasn't done much to acknowledge his history with the team, is that it took the Hall of Fame until 1976 to include him, when he was a leader in so many different offensive categories.

And it seems a bit negligent to me that the SF Giants have not decided yet to honor, literally, the First Giant Giant, the Giant who lent his stature to the team and to their teamname, the Giant who still has his name on various Top 100 lists despite the offensive explosion that occurred after Babe Ruth popularized the homerun, despite the offensive explosion that followed the integration of baseball with Jackie Robinson joining the Dodgers, the offensive explosion that happened in the 60's and 70's, the offensive explosion that happened with the steroid era. The First Giant: Roger Connor.

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.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Baseball Can No Longer Hide Its Head Over PEDs While The SF Chronicle Blind To Truth

Very interesting article on Human Growth Hormone, or HGH as it is more commonly known as, on Yahoo by Jeff Passan. Take a look especially at the PDF of the arrest warrant for Jason Grimsley that is provided as a link on this article. Wow, the stuff he said in there!

Basically, once the drug testing in baseball started including amphetamines, the only way athletes can get away with anything regarding PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs) is by using HGH, which, at the moment is untraceable via the urine testing method and is only detectable via a blood sample. However, the Players Union has been explicitly against blood testing. I sense an Irresistable Force (drug testing) meeting an Immovable Object (Players Union).

I remember a very interesting article about the difficulties of drug testing in sport by an author I like, Malcolm Gladwell, who wrote "The Tipping Point" and "Blink" (Here is his website, I love reading his articles posted there, it covers a gamut of topics and is very well written, I just cannot stop reading). In this article, titled "Drugstore Athlete", he explains the difficulties the sports authorities have with keeping up with the latest undetectable drug and how there is a never ending cycle of keeping up with the cheaters and ends the article arguing that taking drugs is no less natural than acceptable drugs, like Ritalin or Prozac, and since society accepts augmented humans in a variety of different situations, the athletes only want the same acceptance for their drug use.

Is It Real or Is It PEDs?

I won't pretend to know the answers like all of the media and some baseball fans. I'm conflicted because I see and feel both sides. I believe in the law like most people and so that part of me says that if athletes are doing anything that is illegal, then they should be punished somehow, that their acheivements are false.

However, another part of me sees another picture. Laws are not written on stone tablets. They are flexible and malleable to the changes of society's social standards. 100 years ago, I could have been lynched and had my home burned down and nothing could have been done - even though I was American citizen, born and raised here, I had no rights, no Asians had any rights to sue others, to get justice in the courts. Fortunately those laws were changed because society changed.

Taking another tack, nearly 400 years ago, to be Rubenesque, to be plump was good - why? - because it showed that you have enough money to eat and get fat, it was a sign of wealth. In addition, it was better to be pale because it showed that you didn't need to work in the fields. Then around 40 years ago, things changed to where being thin and tan was good, because only people who were well off had enough time off to get a tan. At this moment, back at least 4 years, we are back to pale because it is not good for your skin or aging, but still loving the thin.

So why is it OK to take some drugs to make you equal to another but not another drug to make the other to equal to you? It is all relative to genetics, each "fixes" whatever is wrong with your genetics and brings you up to the level of other people. However some fixes are considered acceptable while other fixes are not. If I had ADD, that's just genetics, it's OK to take my drugs to make me "normal". However, if my genetic inheritance is a bone thin body, without trying, using PEDs would allow me to compete on a equal basis with players whose genetics allow them to have big bulging muscles. There are surely players who have more natural testoserone than I, so should I be allowed to take some, just to even out nature's bounty?

Add to that the difficulties that Gladwell noted about trying to catch the cheaters. They appear to be at least one step ahead of the leagues' drug watchdogs, even the Olympics, which has a much better system of drug testing than the U.S. but still encountering drug problems. The chemist are creating these designer drugs to keep one step ahead of the testing procedures.

Like I wrote, I don't know which way to go. Should we wave a white flag and just accept that ballplayers take PEDs and allow usage under a strict program under a doctor's care? Or should we swing 'em high all users and take away all these stats? It is not an easy answer either way. For now, I'm keeping my options open.

Chronicle Getting Ridiculous With Their Bonds Blinders

As I wrote in a previous post, the Chronicle are out to get Bonds, perhaps to keep their pipeline of information from the government leak open so that they can get rich off of that information and perhaps write another book of unsubstantiated stories (don't know how else to term the tell-all nature of Bonds former mistress, the whole book is based on her word that Barry did all these things). In a column by Gwen Knapp, the title blares out, "Search Shows Bonds is Not Fed's Only Quarry." The Chronicle is so deep into denial that they should go to Egypt.

Of course Bonds is the target. And the Chronicle is targeting him too, particularly after their title shows that they know the public views them as Novitsky apologists. Else why would they title an article about Bonds injury to his side, "Cause of Bonds' Injury Remains a Mystery."

What's the big deal? They've never had an injury that they didn't know how it happened? Why term it a mystery, just say Bonds didn't know how it happened, not that it was a "mystery". Did you see them put in a bold headline in April, "Schmidt's loss of velocity remains a mystery." Or go back a couple of years in April and write, "Foppert's loss of velocity remains a mystery, high 90's fastball is nowhere to be seen." Or how about for last year, "Edgardo Alfonzo's loss of hitting ability remains a mystery."

In an article that the San Jose Mercury wrote the same day, they report that the lawyer for Jason Grimsley, the now former baseball player who was caught with HGH, claims that the IRS agents were all over Grimsley to get him to implicate Barry Bonds, to try to get someone to say into their hidden mike that Bonds was a user. I will quote from this article:

"It was a specific effort to target Bonds,'' attorney Edward F. Novak said.
"We were told that Jason's cooperation was necessary to their case.''


He first cooperated with authorities but when he balked at helping further, he "was outed by the feds'' when he refused to cooperate with the investigation of Bonds, according to Grimsley's lawyer.

And if the Chronicle writers are still reading, if they still think Bonds is not the target, don't how to make my point any clearer:
"They asked him specifically about Barry Bonds,'' Novak said. "Jason said he didn't know Bonds well and didn't know if he did or didn't use drugs.''

Novak said investigators then asked Grimsley whether he knew anybody on the Giants whom he might get to confide about Bonds, who is now second on the all-time home run list.

Grimsley, according to Novak, told investigators that "baseball players don't go around talking about who is using and who isn't.''
"They asked him specifically about Barry Bonds." So how again about how Bonds is not the only quarry?

Even, sad to say, Mark Purdy, in the SAME newspaper (his editor hung him out to dry on this one), also states that Bonds is not the only target with his column, "Bonds still a big player, but hardly the only one." The Mercury had been pretty good about being on the fence with Bonds, or as much as they can but still stay in support of their fellow journalists, and perhaps also friends, at the Chronicle, who have been flinging the mud at Bonds at the Chronicle. But really, Grimsley was used and abused by the IRS agent Novitsky, who, in their effort to implicate Bonds and get him on perjure charges, will apparently turn over any stone to get to Bonds.

Which makes it pretty clear that Bonds cannot even be using HGH, as some Bonds detractors have been saying, he cannot keep that big a supply and with the IRS watching him like a hawk (how else did they catch Grimsley? They are looking under every stone, and I mean every, because Grimsley is about as low on the totem pole that is baseball to go after.) How can he get any, probably anybody in contact with Bonds is probably being followed and their activities recorded.

He basically lost any future supplies of any PEDs once he testified at the Balco Grand Jury, clearly the investigation targeted him, he was the only one they reneged on their offer to show Bonds' lawyer what they had. And yet he hit all those homers late in 2005. And while 2006 hasn't been Bonds-tastic, he is still on pace for 20-30 homers, which I think would become the record for a 41/42 year old MLB hitter.

And again, I'm no Bonds apologist. He has shown over and over again that he can be a jerk when he wants to and a sweetheart when he wants to. And at minimum, based on his illegally released grand jury testimony (what's the point of the secrecy if any government schlub can just release it without consequence? This is not about bringing down a corrupt president, it is, at its core, about a game of entertainment that many people, including me, take very seriously, but at its heart is still a game, of little consequence to those in the world (and that's a vast majority), Bonds is not the leader of the free world, he is just a great baseball player) it sounds like he used some PEDs that he thought was some ordinary ingredients.

Give me clear evidence and I'll join the lynch mob probably. For now I'm not satisfied. Disgruntled mistress looking for money? She wouldn't embellish her story now, you know, to SELL HER UPCOMING BOOK? Disgruntled friend/henpecked employee trying to use his connection to Bonds to boost up his ego and sell a little PED? He wouldn't lie to his potential buyer now, would he? That wouldn't be right, it would be tricking the buyer into buying something thinking that it was the same stuff that helped Bonds out. He wouldn't lie about that, he's such an upstanding guy, that illegal drug dealer, he's not a liar.

Your 2006 Giants: Injury List Update 6/7/06

Update on all the injuries and illnesses Giants players have had or been fighting this season or basically anything that made them unavailable for a game. Updated as of June 7, 2006:

  • Moises Alou: twinge in left hip caused him to pull up short (4/30 injury; 2 games missed); sprained ankle (DL 5/5-6/5; missed 29 games)
  • Armando Benitez: inflamed left knee, bursa sac (3/15 injury reported; DL 4/1-4/19); flu 4/4.
  • Barry Bonds: ongoing problems with left knee and bone chips in left elbow since spring training; pain, lower left side muscle 6/3 and aggravated 6/6, missed game 6/7.
  • Ray Durham: plantar fascialitis (2/26-4/2; on-going?); strained left hamstring (4/23 injury; 4/28-5/11 DL, missed two games before DLed and missed a total 14 games)
  • Noah Lowry: strained right oblique (4/6 injury; DL 4/6-5/7 , missing about 4 starts plus the game he left for a total of 5 starts)
  • Mike Matheny: concussion due to multiple hits from foul balls (5/30 injury; DL 6/1-present)
  • Lance Niekro: soreness in right foot (reported 4/16); bereavement (4/17-4/19); cold and flu (4/30-5/1; 2 games missed); hurt shoulder making tag at first 5/14, missed games 5/15-5/20 (DL 5/15-5/29; missed 13 games in total).
  • Mark Sweeney: tender right hamstring (reported 4/21)
  • Brian Wilson: strained right oblique (4/24 injury; DL 4/24-5/21; missed 26 games)

With the #10 pick, the Giants pick Tim Lincecum

First, I'll cover the Giants draft day for the 18 rounds done Tuesday:
  1. Tim Lincecum (R1; 10): RHP, University of Washington Jr.
  2. Emmanual Burriss (S1; 33): SS-SH, Kent State University Jr. (got pick for Eyre)
  3. Clayton Tanner (R3; 89): LHP, De La Salle High School (got pick for Eyre)
  4. Benjamin Synder (R4; 116): LHP, Ball State University Sr.
  5. Michael McBryde (R5; 146): CF-RH, Florida Atlantic University Sr.
  6. Ryan Rohlinger (R6; 176): SS-RH, University of Oklahoma Sr.
  7. Brett Pill (R7; 206): 1B-RH, Cal State Fullerton Sr.
  8. Matthew Klimas (R8; 236): C-RH, Texarkana CC Jr.
  9. Brian Bocock (R9; 266): SS-RH, Stetson University Sr.
  10. Ryan Paul (R10; 296): LHP, Cal State Fullerton Sr.
  11. Marvin Hobson (R11; 326): RHP, North Carolina State University Sr.
  12. Matthew Weston (R12; 356): OF-LH, University of Houston Sr.
  13. Bradley Boyer (R13; 386): 2B-LH, University of Arizona Sr.
  14. Eric Stolp (R14; 416): RHP, University of Pacific Sr.
  15. Andrew Barbosa (R15; 446): LHP, Riverview High School
  16. Paul Oseguera (R16; 476): LHP, UCLA Sr.
  17. Kevin Pucetas (R17, 506): RHP, Limestone College
  18. Jeff Stallings (R18, 536): RHP, North Carolina State University Sr.

#1 Pick Tim Lincecum

As I put in my other post, I was torn between Lincecum and Drabek, who was also available (he ended up being picked up by the Phillies #17). I'm glad I didn't have to make the choice. In any case, I'm very happy with the pick.

As the article on sfgiants.com noted, he was 12-4 with 1.94 ERA and 199 strikeouts this year, in 125 IP . The 199 strikeouts led the nation. In addition, he is the Pac-10's all-time leader in strikeouts with 491 and was the conference's Pitcher of the Year this year.

There were a lot of interesting bits of information in the article, which I will go over here:

  • His fastball has been clocked at 100 MPH
  • His power curveball is devastating and Baseball America tabbed it the finest in the country.
  • Tidrow had a lot of good comments. Lincecum was suppose to be in the Top 3 according to Tidrow. "We like his arm, his stuff, and his athleticism. He's got a power arm with good breaking stuff. He's a fast mover who can pitch in either a starting or relief role." Tidrow added also that Lincecum will begin play at short-season Class A Salem-Keizer but should move quickly through the minor league system. "This is a good thing for the Giants - this guy's going to be a big-league pitcher for a long while. But we're going to be careful with him for a while."
  • Interesting comments by Lincecum. "Being picked by the Giants really is a good thing for me. It's close to home, San Francisco is a good team, and it's a good place to pitch. It's kind of awkward because I didn't talk to the Giants, but I think everything will pan out." As far as reaching the majors, he does not lack confidence: "I don't doubt myself. It's dictated by how I do. I have confidence, but I'll take it step by step." He compared himself to Huston Street, who is also 6 foot tall, he was aware that he was overlooked by some teams seeking a prototypical 6-foot-4 or 6 pitcher built for durability.
  • He has been compared by some to Scot Shields and Francisco Rodriguez.
  • "Throw more, not less" is his motto. Despite his unique pitching style, he believes he's sound mechanically and has never had physical problems throwing deep into games.
  • His coach, naturally, raved about him: "He's phenomenal, with great timing and delivery and four quality pitches. It's very exciting for us and we're happy for Tim and the Giants. His stuff is the best in college baseball, always in the upper 90's. He uses the lower half of his body really well and is strong and athletic." "He loves to pitch and is very competitive. He wants to win and was an excellent teammate for three years. I can't find anything bad about him in his abilities as a pitcher."
  • He has been described as being similar to Roy Oswalt for overall effectiveness.

My comments:

  • I have read a number of Roy Oswalt comparisons. If so, we have a real find here and a great trio in Lowry, Cain, and Lincecum. Plus interesting the comparisons also have been relative to relievers: Huston Street, Scot Shields, and Francisco Rodriquez. I think I even saw a reference to Billy Wagner. I hope he's a starter, I think we have enough relievers going forward for the forseeable future.
  • While there was concern in most descriptions about his pitching style and amount of work, I think Baseball America put it best in their free chat: "they [SIC] guy hasn't been hurt. His stuff has stayed firm, and he maintains his stuff up to the 140 pitch mark. Then he goes out the next day and long tosses from pole to pole. He's different. Who knows his arm better, me or you, or his college coach and him? I think they do. If he was hurt or incapable of throwing as much as he did, he would have stopped doing it. I just think we need to not throw a blanket over everybody when it comes to pitcher workloads." This is similar to the practices that Atlanta has their pitchers doing, where more work is emphasized, not less, to build up their arms. BA also ranked him as among the top 5 pitchers in college baseball and noted that they wouldn't be surprised if he went #1.
  • I think the Giants will probably have him relieve first - due to his heavy load already - and aggressively move him up as fast as he is able to, with the thought of bringing him up to the bullpen in the September timeframe. I noticed that they 60-day DLed Kelyn Acosta recently and I'm not sure what exactly they need to DL him for, but I assume they will do that to Acosta, which would allow the Giants to loophole Lincecum into the playoffs the way the Angels did with Francisco Rodriguez.
  • Then next year, there could be up to two openings in the rotation: if Schmidt is not resigned and if Jamey Wright does not pick up his mutual option (a possibility since he is pitching well and it is only for $2.5M, he could get something closer to Tomko's $4M; however, I think he'll be grateful and stay). Lincecum, Sanchez, Hennessey and Correia plus perhaps Misch will battle for any openings, with the thought that if Lincecum doesn't win a spot, he'll spend the year in AAA, just to give him that experience.
  • Funny reading Lincecum talking about how awkward it was getting picked by the Giants when they didn't talk with him. Again, as I mentioned in the other post, Sabean is often very stealthy with who he is actually interested in, that's why I don't trust many of the rumors that says he is doing one thing or another thing. And if any leaked rumor does get out for a trade, its from the other team, not from him. I would guess that this is how the conversation might have went: "Who you like for the 10th pick?" "Lots of good pitchers available, Drabek, Bard, etc." "OK, we'll put you down for them!" My only question is how did they find out how signable he is? Seems like you would want to at least kick the tires and find out what numbers Lincecum is looking for.
  • The number of innings he throws plus all the long tossing he does, it sounds just like the methods of Atlanta's old pitching coach guru, Leo Mazzone. He advocates more throwing, not less, for his pitchers, to build up their arms. He also has his pitchers throwing more than usual between starts. Besides, with all the high pitch counts Lincecum has done during his college career, if there was really any affect on his arm, it should have shown up by now, plus he would not be able to throw in the high 90's still, late in the game, I would think. It's like the guy at BA said, that I quoted above.
  • My memories not exactly clear but I think that Travis Ishikawa was going to go to University of Washington but then the Giants gave him enough in bonus to skip school, so they would have been teammates, and now Lincecum's a Giant too.
  • There was a nice article on ESPN as well (thanks to posters on McCovey Chronicles for the links!). In that article, it describes how his delivery works. It sounds more like he uses his whole body to generate velocity while his arm is being swung around with minimal effort. I'm no doctor, but that sounds like an almost ideal way of throwing to minimize wear and tear on your arm, a la Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens. How else can he throw up to 100 MPH on only a 6' body that only recently only weighed 150 pounds? As a caution, this also sounds like Rich Harden, the A's great starter who, unfortunately, has been plagued by various injuries throughout his career. I remember reading that he has a maximum effort type of delivery that sounds similar to what I've read about Lincecum.
  • Another quote on Lincecum I found on McCovey Chronicles: BP's injury expert, Will Carroll, thinks he's a steal no matter where he is picked, which is big because Carroll is a stickler for good mechanics in pitchers to avoid injury.

Other Picks

There was also an article covering the Giants picks. Interesting tidbits of info:

  • Among the 18 picks: 10 pitchers, 1 catcher, 5 infielders, and 2 outfielders.
  • About the second pick, Emmanual Burriss, Tidrow said, "... the second pick is a shortstop who can change the game with his speed."
  • About picks 3 and 4, Clayton Tanner and Benjamin Synder, Tidrow said, "And we have a couple of left-handed pitchers - one high school, one college - who are fast-track starters down the road."
  • More about Lincecum from Tidrow: "His curveball is electrifying and his fastball is very high velocity and can make batters swing, but his curve is what we're looking for -- a high-powered breaking ball."
  • Lots of info on Borriss. Player of the Year in the Mid-American Conference, his .360 average was fourth best in the MAC. And the leadoff hitter ranked fifth in the nation with 42 SB. Director of Scouting, Matt Nerland, noted, "Burriss is a switch-hitter who is a prototypical top-of-the-order hitter with above-average speed. He's a good athlete with quick actions in the field and sure hands." Tidrow added that Burriss can change a game with his speed and "he has the ability to play middle infield, is a basestealer and switch-hitter who knows how to bunt. It's just a matter of learning to hit the ball on a line and get it out of the infield."
  • Some stats on 3rd rounder Clayton Tanner, who is a local kid, though that area might mean he's an A's fan: 9-2 at De La Salle High (known for their football program), with 1.48 ERA and walking only 18 versus striking out 101 (no IP provided).
  • Giants Gamble on #5 pick Michael McBryde: he only played in 3 games this season because of a hamstring pull. They must have liked his 2005 season, where he hit .370 and also pitched well - when they announced his pick, he was noted only as a CF.

Addendum: Congrats to Schmidt

Congratulations to Schmidt for striking out 16 Marlins on Tuesday and tying the Giants franchise record of 16 strikeouts in a game set by the legendary Christy Mathewson for the NY Giants and setting the San Franciso Giants franchise record, passing Gaylord Perry's previous mark of 15 strikeouts. I would have bet almost anything that he had struck out this many before but his previous career high was 13.

The victory put the Giants in 3rd place, 3 games back of surprising Arizona and gives them 3 straight wins and 5 in last 6 games. If Jason Ellison didn't run us out of the victory in the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader, it would have been 6 straight. I'm not sure but I think this is the first time this season that the Giants are 4 games over .500. Jamey Wright will pitch with only 3 days rest in the final game of the series for the sweep, he volunteered to do that because the rainout on Friday messed with the Giants rotation, leaving a hole I guess on Wednesday. I thought that was pretty nice of him, giving me hope that he will stick with the team going forward, I think his sinker repertoise complements the hard throwers we got in Schmidt and Cain, plus we may have Lincecum and Waldis Joaquin coming into the rotation in the next couple of years.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What Giants Fans Can Expect From #10 Draft Pick: Not a Lot

Just before the MLB holds their annual draft, I thought I would see what the results from my draft study could tell us Giants fans about our #10 overall draft pick. I see a lot of anticipation and high hopes over this pick - and it is only logical to think so with such a high pick - but I don't think people are seeing the clouds that surround the silver lining that is the #10 pick.

Odds Do Not Favor Getting Anyone Good with #10

I hate to pop the bubble of expectations, but sometimes it's better to pull the bandage off the wound quickly. The odds are not as bad as Grant humorously put it in his post recently on McCovey Chronicles - 95% that the first round pick won't work out - but they are not that good either.

So I will discuss the odds surrounding the 10th pick overall from a number of different angles - 10th itself, Top 10, and picks 6-10, picks 11-20 plus I'll throw in the Giants usual 21-30 range - because factors other than talent, in particular signability but also bonus size, factor into the selection and thus talent sometimes fall later in the first round than it should have had the picks been done strictly on talent and potential. This will give a good range of results to help set expectations on what type of talent is typically available at the 10th pick, with the caveat that many people have said that the amount of talent in this draft is less than the past five drafts. Plus, obviously talent level goes down the further you get into the draft.

First off, for those who never saw my original study, here's some definitions. While I think most of the terms are intuitively understood by baseball fans, I'll give a quick rundown on what I used exactly for the data collection. A star hit over .295 or had an ERA under 3.30 (these were the only two rate stats available from my source for easy data collection, else I would use OPS for the hitters). Think Bonds and Schmidt. A Good player hit from .275 to .295 or had an ERA from 3.30 to 4.25. Think Winn and Morris. I will sometimes refer to the two categories together because with batting average as the criteria, I would bet that there is some Good who should be Stars and some Stars who should be Good, so grouping them together covers that type of error, whichever way it falls.

A useful player was useful enough to play more than 3 seasons worth of games (only other stat available for each player for easy data collection). Think Tucker and Tomko. A Marginal player has played 0.5 to 3 seasons worth of games but is not a star or good player. Think Kurt Ainsworth and Ryan Jensen. The rest has played less than a half season and most will never make the majors. Think Tony Torcato and Erick Threets.

Starting with just the 10th pick, here is the distribution of talent for the years 1986-1998:

  • Star 15%; Good 15%; Useful 38%, Marginal 8%, Rest 23%.
That means that teams find a Star once every 6 years or so, a good player once every 6 years, a useful player once every 2.5 years, and 31% of the time, the team did not get much of anything for their #10 pick overall in the draft.

A more useful look would be to look at the distribution for the first 10 picks because teams often pass up on a player due to non-talent reasons. So the talent showing up at 10th one year might be not be there another because a player falls down that far but normally would have been drafted early, like Stephen Drew and Jered Weaver. So looking at the talent for those rounds as a whole would be a better representation of the actual talent distribution available at the 10th pick.

In addition, this gives much more data points, with 130 draft picks vs. just the 13 for the 10th pick, which is a small sample, there could be random luckiness affecting just that one pick.

Overall, I htink this would give us a better feel for the talent available to a team like the Giants picking in the 10th spot:

  • Star 11.5%, Good 21.5%, Useful 25.5%, Marginal 12.5%, and Rest 29%.
This means that teams find a Star once every 9 years when picking with one of the first 10 picks overall, a good player once every 5 years, a useful player once every 4 years, and nothing much 41.5% of the time, or nearly half the time. Since this is lower than the distribution for just the 10th pick, it suggests that teams ahead of the 10th pick allowed talent to fall to the 10th pick, either due to incompetence or non-talent reasons, on an overall basis for the draft period in question, 1986-1998.

An even better perspective would be to look at the distribution for picks 6-10 and picks 11-20 because the top 5 picks are usually that much better in terms of obtaining Star or Good players, mainly because of the first pick, and sometimes a good player is bypassed by the 10th picker - I threw in later picks so that one can see the steep decline in talent as the draft goes on:

  • For the first 5 picks overall: Star 14%, Good 29%, Useful 31%, Marginal 7.5%, Rest 18.5%
  • For the 6-10th picks overall: Star 9%, Good 14%, Useful 20%, Marginal 17%, Rest 40%
  • For the 11-20th picks overall: Star 6%, Good 10%, Useful 25.5%, Marginal 11.5%, Rest 47%
  • For the 21-30th picks overall: Star 1.5%, Good 9%, Useful 21%, Marginal 17.5%, Rest 52.5%

This means that teams picking in the 6-10th picks overall found a Star once every 11 years, a Good player once every 7 years, a useful player once every 5 years, and 57% of the time they got nothing. And the odds drops a lot for the next 10 and the next 10 after that, with a lot less top players and more useful players drafted per draft pick. So it does not look like much talent falls to the picks right after the 10th pick, though I do see a little spike in the 11 and 12 spots, but again the data set for that is small and I would hesitate to say definitively that there were talent that fell that low, though definitely Drew and Weaver did the year they were drafted. I think that this gives the best view for what's available when the Giants pick 10th, as sometimes the 10th pick benefits from talented players being passed on by higher picks and sometimes not.

And as one can plainly see, the odds of picking up a Star or Good player drops significantly as the draft progresses, which is intuitively understandable but this makes it a more tangible how bad the draft gets as the first round gets down to the lower picks. In addition, as a side note, the first pick overall is far better than any other picks, with only 1 player of little value and 12 being either Star, Good, or Useful.

Martin, You Got Sum 'Splaining To Do

Now hopefully I have driven home the point that picking 10th is no sure deal to getting a good player. Around 50-60% of the players generally available at the 10th pick don't amount to anything, or about that of flipping a coin. And around 10% become stars, about 15-20% become good players, with the rest of the 40-50% being useful. But who cares about a useful player when you are picking 10th, you expect more for a 10th pick, a useful player picked 10th is like kissing your sister/brother.

What this all means is that the most likeliest case is that your #10 pick will amount to nothing more than a quickee call up at best, and that only if you are either lucky or good, you will get a good or star player with that pick. For that privilege, you will pay anywhere from $2 to $4 million in bonuses and salary for that contract, with the high end happening if a top talent falls to that spot - Stephen Drew and Jered Weaver both got $4M deals and could have been picked 10th that year plus Luke Hochevar, who could fall to 10th, was asking for $4M and Sabean has gone on record saying that they are going to draft the best available player, signability issues be damned.

That is a key dimension that most analysis of the draft misses when discussing draft picks, the financial aspect of it. People seem to think that there's this bottomless pot of money somewhere that every team can dip into to pick up a player or a draft pick. Sure, there is player value related to each draft pick. But does it make economic sense to make that pick?

Decision Making 101

So what IS the cost of obtaining a good or star player. At $3M probable bonus for the 10th pick and about a 25% chance of picking up a Star or a Good player, that means that to get ONE Star or Good player - after all, who's looking to get an average player from the draft - it could take around 4 picks at #10 (that is, 4 years of a season like the 2005 Giants) to get one Star or Good player (and that is only on average, it could take many more just to get that one player from the draft). And that means that on average it costs a team around $12M in bonuses paid for every ONE Star or Good player picked from the #10 draft spot overall. Now depending on how good your drafted players are, that is $12M well spent or a sink hole of sunk costs. What that averages out to is $2M per pre-free agent year for that one Star or Good player.

That sounds like pretty good payoff, whether hitter or pitcher, at today's free agent signings. For example, Lowry signed a 4 year/$9.25M contract covering the rest of his arbitration years. That plus his $0.7M salary for his first two years work out to approximately $10M for his 6 years of pre-free-agency. Plus the $12M or so paid out in bonuses for the players drafted who didn't do well, on average, that works out to $22M for 6 years or about $4M per year average. That is the going price for a useful (i.e. mediocre) starter - that's about what Tomko got as a free agent from LA this past off-season - but the assumption is that you got a good/star player with this pick so you are saving a lot of money with the player.

What About Sabean's Habit of Punting Draft Picks?

Now lets take a look at a pick in the 21-30 overall range (which is just before the Giants 33rd pick). Bonuses there are in the $1.0-1.5M range. And as we saw above, there is a 1.5% chance of getting a Star and a 9% chance of getting a Good player. That's 10.5% chance of getting at least a good player with a pick in the 21-30 range of the first round, which means it takes 9 years of drafting in the 21-30 range, on average, to get a Good or Star player. That works out to about $12M in bonuses paid out to 9 draftees, on average, to get that one Good or Star player. Using my analysis in the last paragraph, that works out to around the same $2M per pre-free agent year for that Star or Good player. Again, that is a good price to pay for a Good or Star player today.

Sabean Not Losing Much

So on average it is good to draft a player in the first round, as there appears to be only be about a $2M per year cost related to each pre-free-agency year you have control over your draft pick once they make the majors plus whatever you are paying your player in the contracts covering his pre-free-agency years. But how does that reconcile with Sabean's strategy of converting 1st (and later) rounds of the draft into a free agent that costs the same as the amount of the bonus the Giants would have payed the players picked?

The key thing that people miss here is the distribution. Look at how much easier it is to find a Good or Star player in the early part of the 1st Round versus the later part of that round. There is an exponential difference in the number of Stars you find (14% vs. 1.5%) and a four-times difference in the number of Star and Good players you find (43% vs. 10.5%). Look at how many players who never make it as a major league regular in the later part of the round: 70% who never amount to anything, 89.5% who are not a Star or Good player.

Basically that means that on average it takes 10 years of drafting in the 21-30 pick range overall to find ONE Star or Good player though there are 2 who are useful. And because you can just buy a useful player off the free agency market for a cheap price, so why pay an unknown prospect the bonus, that means 9 out of every 10 picks can be considered busts. Thus the odds are very much against you finding a Star or Good player with that one pick, 90% of them are never going to become a Star or Good (from this point on, I will refer to this pair as a "good" player; I'm tired of putting both in).

Hence Sabean can forgo a single draft pick with very little consequence, the odds are that 90% of them will not be a good player. And even if he was a good player, it would take him 2-6 years to finally develop and be an MLB regular player. Whereas you can get a useful player for the same cost immediately.

Paying the Piper

However, the Giants cannot continue this practice without severe consequences to their long-term success with their farm system even if they can execute nearly flawlessly their past strategy of identifying players who can become major leaguers in the later rounds more than others. Applying the binomial theorem to it, with 10 picks and 10% chance of success, there is a still a 73% chance that after 3 years of forfeiting a pick in the 21-30 range of the draft - which is what Sabean did from 2003 to 2005 - you end up with nothing. There's about a 24% chance of finding one good player and less than 3% chance you find more.

However, should he continue this practice into future years, there could be serious consequences where Sabean would pay the piper for such a strategy, even if he is successful in finding MLB players later in the draft. At 5 years, there is still a 59% chance of nothing, but 33% chance of 1 good player and slightly over 8% chance of more. At 7 years, it is the tipping point where more than half the time you get more than 1 good player. You don't get a good player almost 48% of the time, but get 1 player 37% of the time, 2 players 12% of the time, and 3 or more about 3% of the time, for a total of 52%. That's a coin flip. And at 10 years, nearly two-thirds of the time you get at least one good player, only 35% of the time do you actually end up with nothing. So should Sabean continue this practice much further than he has, he risks strong odds of losing out on some good players.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Next Homerun Mark: National League Career Homeruns

The National League career homerun leader is a homerun mark with a lot of Giants tradition. Original Giant Roger Conner, who was the all-time career homerun leader when Babe Ruth passed him up, was the NL career homerun leader briefly from 1893-1895. This happened in spite of him being the all-time career leader because he left the NL in 1890 to play in the Player’s League for one year, which cost him from holding the lead longer as he was not far behind the next leader.

Sam Thompson, who did not play in the Player’s League, passed him in 1895 but fell short of the career mark that Roger Conner held. And Conner ended up with 124 homeruns in the NL, short 3 of Sam Thompson’s 127 homeruns. This held for a long time, until Cy Williams hit 41 homers in 1923 to reach 149 career NL homeruns.

Howver, he held it very briefly because Rogers Hornsby – himself briefly a Giant in 1927 - next took the lead in 1929. He passed Cy Williams when he hit 39 homers that season for the Chicago Cubs, leaving him with 278 for his career at the end of the season. While it was his last year of high homerun performance, it was enough to hold the career lead in homeruns for the NL for a few years. Rogers Hornsby ended up with 301 career homeruns when his career ended in 1937.

He held the NL lead until Giants Great Mel Ott took over the lead in 1937 – Hornsby's last year - with 31 homers. Ott eventually ended up with 511 homeruns when his career ended in 1947. Mel Ott held the title for 29 years, for many years after his career ended.

Ott led until a fellow Giants Great, Willie Mays, took over the lead in 1966 when Mays hit 37 homers. The Say Hey Kid was not even playing MLB when Ott played his final game as a player/manager. However, Mays just kept the title warm for the next leader when he becamse one of the few leaders of the 20th Century to have lost the lead while he was still playing.

Hammering Hank Aaron took the lead from Willie Mays with 34 homers in 1972. And when Aaron played his last season in the NL in 1974 with Atlanta, he ended with 733 career homers in the NL, as he moved on to the American League after that. He, obviously, has held the lead since then.

In total, Giants players have held the National League career lead for homeruns for 37 seasons. The table below was compiled by examining data from the website www.baseball-reference.com and is believed to be accurate but please notify me if I have a mistake. (sorry for the formatting but blogger does not support tables at all).

NL Career HR Leader/Years in Lead/Total Years in Lead
George Hall / 1876-1877 / 1
Charley Jones / 1877-1886 / 9
Dan Brouthers / 1886-1893 / 7
Roger Conner / 1893-1895 / 2
Sam Thompson / 1895-1923 / 28
Cy Williams / 1923-1929 / 6
Rogers Hornsby / 1929-1937 / 8
Mel Ott / 1937-1966 / 29
Willie Mays / 1966-1972 / 6
Hank Aaron /1972-present / 34

Barry May Not Make It

Barry Bonds is at 715 homers, only 18 homers away. Previously, he would have been a shoo-in to reach the National League career mark but with his relatively poor play, particularly in the outfield, he may not reach it because most NL teams would not want him on their team, not just because of the Balco-Steroid controversy but because his offense is not so off the charts that his defense can be ignored anymore.

At his current homerun pace, he will end up short of the mark by about a handful (4 if he stays exactly at the same pace) and would need to play next season for an NL team in order to take this lead away from Aaron. But obviously, with it so close, he doesn't need to pick up his homerun pace by much to catch Aaron by season's end, and he has been hot lately so perhaps he's ready to bust out, he used to start seasons off coldly then started hitting everything, when we first got him.

If Bonds is able to take the lead, he might break the past historic pattern of the next leader after a long-term holder only holding the title for less than 10 years. There are no NL only players out there today who could pass Bonds up in the next 10 years. Vlad Guerrero would have been one strong possibility had he not signed with an AL team. And Pujols, who looks like he could pass Bonds eventually, is still very early into his career and could take another 15 or more years to catch up with Bonds. And obviously if Bonds falls short, Aaron will hold it for a lot longer than another other player before, he's already the leader in that with 34 seasons, which currently beats out Ott's 29 seasons by a little.

Labels

1984 Draft (1) 2007 Draft (14) 2007 Giants (52) 2008 Draft (22) 2008 Giants (53) 2008 season (6) 2009 Draft (18) 2009 Giants (87) 2009 season (24) 2010 Decade (10) 2010 Draft (11) 2010 Giants (137) 2010 NL ROY award (1) 2010 season (19) 2010's (3) 2011 Draft (9) 2011 Giants (84) 2011 season (8) 2012 Draft (11) 2012 Giants (93) 2012 season (11) 2013 Draft (3) 2013 Giants (38) 2013 season (5) 2014 Giants (20) 2014 season (8) 25 man roster (7) 3B (1) 40 Man Roster (4) 6-man rotation (1) 89 Quake (1) 89 World Series (1) A's (6) A-Ball (1) A-Rod (3) AA-Ball (1) Aaron Rowand (25) accomplishments (1) Adalberto Mejia (4) Adam Duvall (1) AFL (4) Alex Hinshaw (3) All-Star Game (1) almost perfect game (1) Amphetamine (2) analysis (3) Andre Torres (14) Andres Torres (2) Andrew Susac (4) Andy Baggerly (1) Andy Sisco (1) Angel Joseph (1) Angel Pagan (10) Angel Villalona (29) Anniversary (1) appendicitis (1) Arbitration (12) Armando Benitez (5) Armando Gallaraga (1) art of failure (1) ATT Park (1) Aubrey Huff (20) Award (4) BABIP (2) Barry Bonds (28) Barry Zito (77) Baseball America (2) Baseball Prospectus (2) Baseball Prospectus Bias Against Giants (3) baseball strategy (5) Baseball Study (12) baserunning (2) batting peripherals (1) batting stance analysis (1) batting title champion (1) Beat LA (6) bench players (1) Bengie Molina (14) Benjamin Snyder (1) Bert Blyleven (1) Beyond the Box Score (1) Bias Against Giants (1) Big 6 (7) Bill Hall (1) Bill James Handbook (2) Bill Neukom (21) Billy Beane (1) Blog Philosophy (2) Bob Howry (2) Bob Mariano (1) Bobby Evans (1) Brad Hennessey (5) Brad Penny (2) Brandon Bednar (1) Brandon Belt (36) Brandon Crawford (17) Brandon Hicks (1) Braves (5) breakout (1) Brett Bochy (2) Brett Pill (9) Brian Anderson (1) Brian Bocock (2) Brian Cooper (1) Brian Horwitz (3) Brian Ragira (2) Brian Sabean (40) Brian Wilson (14) Bruce Bochy (22) Bucky Showalter (1) bulllpen (1) Bullpen (20) Bumgarner (1) Business Plan (13) Buster Posey (90) Byung-Hyun Kim (1) Cained (4) call-ups (1) Cards (8) Career Prospects (3) Carl Hubbell (1) Carlos Beltran (4) Carlos Gomez (1) Carney Lansford (2) Carter Jurica (1) catcher injury (4) catching (1) CC Sabathia (1) censorship (2) CEO (2) Chad Gaudin (5) Charles Culberson (5) Charlie Culberson (3) Chase Johnson (2) Chillax (1) Chris Gloor (1) Chris Heston (2) Chris Lincecum (1) Chris O'Leary (1) Chris Ray (4) Chris Stewart (4) Chris Stratton (8) Christian Arroyo (3) Christmas (1) Christopher Dominguez (3) Christy Mathewson (1) Chuckie Jones (2) Clay Hensley (3) Clayton Blackburn (5) Clayton Tanner (3) Closer (7) closer by committee (3) Coaches (3) Cody Hall (1) Cody Ross (8) Col (1) Comeback Award (1) Commissioner (1) competitiveness (1) Conor Gillaspie (22) contender (1) contract negotiations (1) contract signing (4) Cory Hart (1) Craig Whitaker (2) cuts (1) Cy Young Award (5) D-backs (14) D-gers (31) D-Rocks (3) D-Rox (16) Dallas McPherson (1) Dan Ortmeier (11) Dan Otero (2) Dan Runzler (6) Daniel Slania (2) Darren Ford (1) Dave Roberts (11) David Aardsma (1) David Huff (2) David Loewenstein (1) Decade of the Giants (10) decline (1) Defense (7) Deferred Money (1) deleted comment (1) Derek Law (4) Detroit Tigers (1) DFA (3) DH (2) Dick Tidrow (1) Dirty (1) DL (1) dodgers (2) Donald Snelten (1) Draft (1) Draft Analysis (7) Draft Bonus (7) draft signing (2) Draft Strategy (11) Draft Study (2) Draft Success (2) drafting (1) Dres (16) Edgar Renteria (13) Edwin Escobar (4) Ehire Adrianza (13) Eli Whiteside (4) Elimination game (1) EME (2) Emmanuel Burriss (18) epic season (6) Eric Byrnes (1) Eric Surkamp (6) Eugenio Velez (12) extension (6) fanfest (1) Fielding (3) Fielding Stats (3) first post-season press conference (2) Francisco Peguero (4) Fred Lewis (3) Freddie Lewis (17) Freddie Sanchez (4) Freddy Sanchez (7) Free Agency (3) Free agent possibilities (17) Free agent signing (4) Free agent signings (21) gamer-tude (1) Gary Brown (22) Geno Espinelli (1) George Kontos (3) Ghosts of Giants Drafts (1) Giants blogs (1) Giants Chat (2) Giants Draft (7) Giants Drafts (2) Giants Farm System (29) Giants Franchise record (2) Giants Future (62) Giants GM (4) Giants Greats (2) Giants hitting manual (1) Giants No-Hitter (4) Giants Offense (21) Giants Offseason (21) Giants Strategy (34) GiDar (1) Gino Espinelli (1) glossary (1) good will (1) Graphical Player (1) Gregor Blanco (11) Gregor Moscoso (1) Guillermo Moscoso (2) Guillermo Mota (2) Gustavo Cabrera (3) Hall of Fame (7) Hall of Shame (3) Hank Aaron (5) Happy Holidays (2) Hate mail (1) heart-warming (1) Heath Hembree (6) Hector Correa (1) Hector Sanchez (8) Henry Sosa (8) HGH (1) high expectations (1) high school focus in draft (1) Hitting (15) Hitting Coach (1) hitting mechanics (3) hitting pitchers (2) hitting streak (1) Hitting; (1) Home Run Career Record (7) Home Run Hitting Contest (1) Hunter Pence (18) Hunter Strickland (1) Idea (4) improvement (1) Indictment (1) injury (1) instant replay (2) instructor (1) Interesting Question (1) International Free Agent Pursuits (3) International Signings (5) interview (3) Investment (1) Ivan Ochoa (2) Jack Taschner (4) Jackson Williams (2) Jacob Dunnington (1) Jacob McCasland (1) Jake Dunning (1) Japanese Starters (1) Jarrett Parker (5) Jason Stoffel (1) Javier Lopez (5) JC Gutierrez (2) Jeff Kent (1) Jeff Suppan (1) Jeremy Affeldt (9) Jeremy Shelley (1) Jerome Williams (1) Jesse English (2) Jesse Foppert (1) Jesus Guzman (4) Joaquin Arias (7) Joe Panik (9) Joe Torre (1) Joey Martinez (2) Johan Santana (1) John Bowker (22) Johneshwy Fargas (2) Johnny Bench (1) Johnny Monell (1) Johnny Rucker (1) Jonah Arenado (1) Jonathan Mayo (1) Jonathan Sanchez (48) Jose Canseco (1) Jose Casilla (1) Jose Guillen (3) Jose Mijares (3) Jose Uribe (2) Josh Osich (3) JT Snow (1) Juan Perez (4) Juan Uribe (9) Juggling Monkey (1) Just Say No (1) Kendry Flores (1) Keury Mella (1) Kevin Correia (2) Kevin Frandsen (22) Kevin Pucetas (10) Kung Fu Panda (29) Kyle Crick (10) Larry Baer (2) Larry Ellison (1) Lead-off (2) left-handed (1) Lew Wolff (1) LHP (1) Lineup (17) lineup construction (1) Lineup position (1) Long-Term Contract (21) long-term planning (3) luck (1) Luis Angel Mateo (2) Mac Williamson (5) Madison Bumgarner (107) Mailbox (1) Malcolm Gladwell (1) management change (3) management issues (5) managerial value (2) Manny (1) Marc Kroon (2) Marco Scutaro (10) Mark DeRosa (8) Martin Agosta (6) Marvin Miller (1) Masahiro Tanaka (1) Mason McVay (1) Matsuzaka (1) Matt Cain (107) Matt Downs (2) Matt Graham (1) Matt Holliday (1) Matt Morris (2) Mechanics (4) Media (15) Media Bias (17) Media Trade Idea (3) Medical (1) Mediocy (9) Mediots (3) Melk-Gone (1) Melky Cabrera (14) mental (1) Merkin Valdez (8) Message in a Bottle (1) Michael Main (1) Michael Trout (1) Miguel Cabrera (2) Miguel Tejada (5) Mike Fontenot (3) Mike Kickham (8) Mike Matheny (1) Mike Morse (5) milestone (1) minor league contract (1) minors (10) mismanagement (1) mistakes (2) MLB (2) MLB stupidity (2) MLB Success (6) MLB Trade Rumors (1) MLBAM (1) MLBTR (1) MLE (1) Mock Draft analysis (3) MVP (1) Natanael Javier (1) Nate Schierholtz (45) Nathanael Javier (1) Naysayers (1) Negotiations (1) Nick Noonan (25) Nick Pereira (1) Nick Vander Tuig (2) NL Champions (2) NL West (21) NL West Division Title (15) NL West Future (1) NLCS (15) NLCS MVP (1) NLDS (7) Noah Lowry (14) non-roster invitees (1) non-tenders (1) NPB (1) Oakland A's (4) OBP (1) oddities (1) Offense (3) offensive era (1) Omar Vizquel (3) one-run games (1) Opening Day (4) opening day pitcher (1) opening day roster (3) Optimism (1) Osiris Matos (2) Outfield (1) Ownership (7) Pablo Sandoval (85) Panda (6) Pandoval (1) passing (1) Pat Burrell (15) Pat Misch (5) Payroll (8) Pedro Feliz (12) PEDS (10) Perfect Game (2) perjury trial (1) Personal Reminiscence (2) Pessimism (1) Pete Rose (3) Peter Magowan (2) Phillies (7) Phoenix Theory of Rebuilding (1) Pitch Count (3) pitch value (1) Pitching (14) Pitching Rotation (50) pitching staff (1) plate discipline (1) Play Ball (1) player budget (2) player development (2) playoff (2) playoff hopes (23) playoff roster (1) playoff rotation (3) Playoff Success (18) Playoffs (26) postmortem (1) PQS (53) press conference (1) pressure (2) priorities (1) Projected Record (3) projection (2) promotion (1) prospect (2) prospect analysis (1) Prospect of Note (3) prospect study (1) Prospects (42) questions (1) Rafael Rodriquez (8) Rajai Davis (2) Ralph Barbieri (1) Ramon Ramirez (3) Randy Johnson (9) Randy Messenger (2) Randy Winn (14) Rangers (5) Ranking (4) raspberry (1) Ray Durham (5) re-sign (2) Rebuilding (4) Rebuilding Myths series (1) Reds (5) Relocation Concession (2) Research (2) resource scarcity (1) Retired (3) Retirement (1) return (1) RHP (1) Rich Aurilia (7) Rick Peterson (1) Rickie Weeks (1) Ricky Oropesa (3) right-handed (1) risk mitigation (2) risk profile (1) Rod Beck (1) Roger Kieschnick (13) Ron Shandler (2) Rookie of the Year (1) Roster (4) ROY (2) Rule 5 Draft Pick (3) rumors (9) runs support (1) Russ Ortiz (11) Ryan Garko (2) Ryan Klesko (4) Ryan Rohlinger (2) Ryan Theriot (3) Ryan Vogelsong (52) Ryder Jones (2) Sabean Naysayers (4) Sabermetric Thoughts (5) sabermetrics (3) Salary speculation (3) SALLY (1) San Jose Giants (1) San Jose Relocation (3) Sandy Rosario (1) Santiago Casilla (8) Scott McClain (2) Scott Shuman (1) Scouting (1) Sergio Romo (13) SF Giants (2) Shilo McCall (1) Shooter (1) shutouts (1) Signature Song (1) signing (12) Silly-Ball (3) South Atlantic League (1) South Bay Rights (1) Spring Training (15) standings (1) starting lineup (14) starting pitching (40) STATS (1) Steroids (5) Steve Edlefsen (4) Steve Johnson (3) Steve Okert (1) Sue Burns (1) sunk costs (1) superstition (1) Team Speed (1) Team Support (1) The Giants Way (1) The Hey Series (15) Thomas Joseph (3) Thomas Neal (9) Tigers (4) Tim Alderson (17) Tim Hudson (4) Tim Lincecum (143) Todd Linden (3) Todd Wellemeyer (6) Tommy Joseph (3) top prospect list (4) Trade (9) Trade Analysis (15) Trade Idea (7) Trade PTBNL (2) Trade Rumors (28) trading (1) training staff (2) Training Tool (1) Travis Blackley (1) Travis Ishikawa (39) turning point (1) Ty Blach (2) Tyler Horan (1) Tyler Rogers (1) Tyler Walker (2) umpire mistake (3) Umpires (3) USA Today (1) Voros McCracken (1) Waldis Joaquin (5) walks (1) WAR (1) Warrior Spirit (1) Wendell Fairley (10) What-If Scenario (3) wild card (1) wild card race (1) Will Clark (1) Willie Mac Award (1) Willie Mays (1) Winter League (1) World Series (18) World Series Champions (10) WS Ring Bling (1) Yusmeiro Petit (6) Zack Wheeler (9)