Thursday, March 01, 2007

Giants To Sign Cain to Similar Deal to Lowry (plus Big Mo talks!)

The Giants are about to sign Cain to a deal similar to Lowry, according to reports, which I think is great, because I thought Cain could ask for a lot more in this post and the deal would still make sense for the Giants to do. It sounds like it was pending a physical that he went through last night and so the deal should get announced today sometime. Hurray and huzzah!

Per my post, I still think the Giants could have went further, though perhaps Cain's agents didn't want to go that far. Lowry's deal was for $9.25M over 4 years with a $6.25M club option, which covers all the years that the Giants control their players. According to Cot's Contracts, bonuses may increase the total value of the extension to $17M plus escalators may increase the club option to $7.75M, for a total of about $25M. An middle rotation pitcher is going for around $9-10M today, so that's paying about 2.5 seasons worth of average pitching over a 5 year period, less once you factor in player salary inflation. The should have been able to buy out his first free agent year for $10-12M.

Yes, I know young pitchers can fizzle out, TINSTAAPP, and all that, plus there is the injury factor as well. Things aren't working out so well for the Cubs with Mike Prior and Kerry Wood. But here's how I see it work out, scenario-wise:
  • Cain bad: none of the escalators/bonuses kick in, we just need 2 average years out of 5 for the deal to still work out at the market price for pitchers.
  • Cain good: he will be worth every penny in escalators/bonuses, plus we have him for 5 years plus option instead of 4 years plus option.
  • Cain ace good: bargain of the century.
There is very little risk involved for the Giants to just guarantee that $6.25M option in exchange for another year added to the contract and push into his free agent years. That's taking a $6.25M bet add-on bet that Cain can be better than average during the life of the contract. It's a bet I would have taken.

Bengie Speaks!

The KNBR morning show interviewed Bengie Molina this morning and he sounded like a nice guy. He impressed me by stating that he couldn't get to sleep last night because today is his first game as a San Francisco Giant - I did that when I got my present job, I was out of work for an extended period trying to switch careers and I thought I would have to give up the dream when the job came out of the blue. I was up all night, but the day just flew and I even worked past 8 hours and never felt tired at all (today, it's a totally different situation! :^)

The more important part, since much of these are usually chit-chat, how's it going type of stuff, was he discussed his impression of Russ Ortiz thus far in spring training. He apparently didn't know the story of how Ortiz's mechanics got out of kilter until Leo Mazzone set him straight in Baltimore - he speculated that perhaps Ortiz had some injury or something, which resulted in his pitching problems last season (that much he was aware of). Then Molina said, basically, that whatever Oritz was going through, he appears to be over it because he looks like the Ortiz he remembers from the 2002 World Series. Ortiz had a 3.61 ERA, 1.33 WHIP that season.

Looking over Russ's stats during that period, he just majorly benefited from pitching in AT&T. His HR rate dropped in half or more while pitching there for his home. And while his walk rate always drove people crazy, his stats actually look very similar to Barry Zito's career: more walks and HR and less strikeouts than what you would care for, but he kept the hit rate very low for balls in play, which enabled him to survive stuff like that. If he can even get his ERA in the mid-4's, that would be a huge plus for the rotation and the team, over other teams who have crap for their 5th starter.

Because that's the beauty of the Giants as constructed for 2007: all the players are above average (or are capable of above average), but not elite players, up and down the lineup and pitching rotation, for the most part, except for Bonds and (hopefully) Cain. Most teams have multiple holes in the lineup, a poor #5 starter (plus possibly a poor #4 too), but the Giants are solid up and down, plus have backups who are not terrible replacements (like Vizcaino and Greene was last season), should a regular go down (Klesko, Linden, Alfonzo, Frandsen for position players, Sanchez, Hennessey, and Lincecum for starting pitchers, Sadler, Threets, and Anderson for relief). There is depth and the step down in talent from the first string to the next is not that great a drop, unless you lose a big guy.

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