Friday, August 03, 2007

Happy With His New Approach: Pedro Feliz?

I've been writing about how Feliz is having an unusual season in comments at other sites so I thought I would collect them here for those who don't surf there or didn't see my comments. Giants fans have their favorite player they like to pound on for being inept and Feliz is one of the most popular. And on the surface, Pedro Feliz's batting line looks like his crappy stats from the past couple of years so most people just view him as the same old, same old, this season.

And I'm not saying that they are totally wrong on the surface level. But as people who know me here, I like to dig deeper to see what gold (or pyrite) I can find. And his season thus far is marked by huge sea-changes in terms of the components hitters usually need to do well in as he apparently learns to use his new batting philosophy for good and not ridicule.

Pedro Feliz's Most Unusual Season

First, for his career as a mostly starter, he never had less than 10 strikeouts in a month until May of this year with 9 and he reduplicated that in July with an even better 6. So in other words, he has accomplished twice in 4 months what he could not accomplish once in 18 previous months (3 previous seasons). However, I should note that he had reached 10 K before, so his May could just have been a normal month that happen to dip under 10, so then July would then be the only unusual occurance.

However, second, on top of that, in July, for the first time ever in his career as a starter, he had more walks than strikeouts in a month. The closest he could ever get before this season was within 4 in 2005 (10BB/14K) and it beat his May 2007 (7BB/9K). So that makes his May more significant and his July very significant. But only if he can reduplicate it in August and September.

Third, since the start of May, his BB/K ratio is much improved and close to the magical 100% that you want to see in any hitter who is successful as a hitter. He had 20 BB vs. 26 K, and that is roughly 75%, where the better hitters are in the 75-100% range and the best hitters are above 100%. He's been mostly under 50% by a lot during this career. And as noted above, July was his first month ever in his career where he had more walks than strikeouts. This is a key indicator of how good a hitter is.

Fourth, his contact rate is in the range where you find good hitters. With 40 K's in 371 AB, that's a contact rate of roughly 89%. The better hitters have a contact rate of over 85%, and bat in the .270-.290 range, and the good over 90%, and usually bat over .300. And he has been doing that consistently since May, even June was good too in terms of contact.

Fifth, while overall his stats look very similar, that's partly because he's learning his new philosophy so he makes mistakes sometimes, but each month he continues to achieve improvement, May marked the closest BB to K plus great contact rate, he continues the contact rate in June, then July had all the wonderful things happening at once as noted above.

Clouds in My Coffee

Now the clouds in the coffee is that if you look at his actual stats month by month, he looked like he was regressing month by month from April to June and that July was just an aberration. July is his only good month statistically for a batting line, with a 818 OPS. And he has been up and down with his discipline, poor April, good May, poor June, great July, as his walk total by month went up and down.

August is a critical month in the possible evolution of Pedro Feliz, the hitter. As noted above, there are all sorts of key indicators improved greatly for Feliz, and hitters exhibiting those key ratios tended to hit for a higher average plus get on base a lot more. Add to that the power and good defense Feliz always has had (and its sounds gold glove great this season), then you have a pretty good 3B that you would want on your team long term.

Ay, but that's the rub. Feliz is 32 years old, he should be on the decline, not rising up. It is not impossible - Darrell Evans is the classic late bloomer example known to Giants fans - but it is pretty unlikely. And yet the mule is phoenixing itself into a hitter, apparently.

Giants Thoughts

If he continues to hit well, that's good and that's baaad. I think Feliz is OK for $3-5M per season and one year at a time, but if he continues to hit well, the Giants might commit 3+ years for him, much like Seattle's mistake with Adrian Beltre. That would be a big mistake in process.

What if he is just going through that last great season some players have - like the season Robby Thompson had in 1993 that tricked the Giants in committing millions to him for not much and declining production. I still believe that his non-performance added onto Matt Williams DL stints were what done in the Giants in 1994-6, much like how Nen's and then Benitez's anchors of non-performing salaries did the Giants in the past couple of years.

I like his defense at 3B but not enough to commit multiple years in contract for him. And we have no idea whether his offense is improved or if this is his Brady Anderson peak year in terms of walking and striking out. He could just be having the good free agent contract year he was suppose to have last year like other players do.

The only problem is that there is probably no better alternative for 3B on the free agent market, unless A-Rod does go free agent, and even then, do we really want to commit $30M per year to A-Rod? Even with some deferment, there goes most of the payroll flexibility we have for next season, and we still need a SS and 1B, though it sounds like Omar Vizquel wants to stay with the Giants until he retires, from what I read on him in the Mercury. OK, it's not sounding as bad anymore, we'll have Roberts, Winn, and Davis, Lewis, Schierholtz in the OF, Klesko, Durham, Vizquel, A-Rod in the IF. OK, he would be OK.

However, I still hold to my position that A-Rod is not coming here. There will be too many teams with more resources bidding for him, teams who really want him, like the Angel's billionaire owner, Boston could use a SS for the future as well, plus if Cuban buys the Cubs, A-Rod would look good at SS there, wouldn't he? And ultimately, will King George really let go of his shiny star ball-player when he has so much money to spend on players?

And that would leave us where we started his story/nightmare, do we re-sign Feliz for a multi-year big contract or do we go another route? One year with a slight raise I can handle by holding my nose, with the hope that he has actually transformed himself. Any more years or money, I'll be pretty unhappy, surely we must be able to find some 3B with good defense but poor offense for not that much money? The focus going forward is suppose to be pitching and defense (with a generous side dollop of speed), so hopefully they will keep that in mind when negotiating with Feliz and chose a cheap option (Frandsen perhaps, even Aurilia with Frandsen) if Feliz's agent gets visions of grandeur again.

9 comments:

  1. I'm assuming he gets a deal at about 2 yrs/8-10 million. It wouldn't suprise me if he fetched one at around 6 mil a season though.

    My vote is for Ty Wigginton. He plays at least average D. He always hits well. I believe he's a free agent at the end of the season. I'm pretty sure he's a couple years younger than Feliz too. It's tough, we don't have many grade A position player prospects. I think we need to consider dealing some pitching for something.

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  2. We don't have that many good pitchers to do that! :^)

    But seriously, we don't. :^D

    I would be OK with Wigginton, if we are not committing to him long-term. Basically I would not want to sign anyone long-term for 3B, just get one on the cheap side each year, hopefully Villalona plays there, but his size moves him to 1B, then keep that up, there's a lot of average 3B out there, not too many good to great ones, relative to other positions.

    I think that the Giants cannot trade away their strength in pitching, meaning examine each player and see how the Giants rotation would look like without him. I think that clearly makes Cain and Lincecum untouchables. But then you have Zito as our middle rotation guy and despite his season thus far, I think that will he will be good for that or better for the duration of his contract. Then for 4th and 5th starters, most teams have horrible starters there anyway, so we can trade anyone else to get position players.

    I'm hoping Misch and Ortiz can do well, then we would be able to trade off Lowry for a few good position prospects. They could be our #4/5 guys next season. Sanchez I would still put in the mix for starting but my hopes that he would rise to the occassion there is mixed. Then we fill in with economical free agents in other spots and save the money for 2009 and beyond, unless we have a chance to sign a true superstar like A-rod (like I said doubtful), and not poseurs like Matthews Jr., Carlos Lee, Juan Pierre.

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  3. thanks for the blog--its how i get news on prospects. Also, i was reading your post on bumgarner possibly going to college and you wrote "se la vie." it is actually "c'est la vie." "c(e)'est" literally means "that is" in french. just thought you should know. thanks again for the blog.

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  4. You're welcome Anon, I try my best.

    Thanks for the correction on my French. I guess it shows that that I took High School Spanish. :^)

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  5. Watching the game tonight? It's the middle of the 7th, Cain is looking great. If the bats were doing better we'd be up by 6 or 7 instead of three.

    I was expecting Bonds to hit one of off Maddux tonight. His bat is off. Bad. He's just not swinging in the right spot.

    No one's going to want Durham. He's been terrible.

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  6. And Chulk just pissed it away.

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  7. Feliz was back to his old self, swinging at the first pitch. He was terrible tonight.

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  8. I meant last night.

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  9. I am tired of watching an inconsistent Feliz. We have sat for too many years now and watched his Jekyll and Hyde play and it is time to move on. The guy has been in the league way to long to still make the mistakes he makes and be such an inconsistent hitter. Lets go get an A-Rod or Wigginton, anything is better than Feliz.

    ReplyDelete

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