Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Giants Plan

ogc brief

Killion questions Giants lack of planning for future, puts them to task for not taking care of that earlier, noting their lack of identity.

First, maybe Rios deal is ownership driven, not Sabean?

Another columnist claims Giants "switch-and-bait" but I don't think so; it could be a trial balloon by owners though.

Don't beat up on Giants for not finding good prospects in draft, they were handicapped by winning.

Giants Identity is clearly Pitching.

Hard to say what decision is Sabean-driven and what is ownership-driven because spending $20M on one player (particularly older, Hall of Famer, plus over 50 years since last championship) drives you to do things you might not normally do. So his actions have been distorted the past few years. But he has been patient where it counts: we still have Cain and Lincecum.

Giants plan has been pitching, speed, and defense. Sabean has said it and shown it. The Giants pitching has been rebuilt, next up is the lineup. Fans need to be patient.

Arrogance Defined

First, someone smarter than me (Grant of McCovey Chronicles in this post) recently wrote that it is unfair and potentially arrogant to challenge a columnist point by point, and when I asked him about it, he said it was like a psuedo-debate because you invariably win them.

I know that wasn't directed at me, but being a reflective person, I examined my own posting behavior and I just want to say that I never intend to be arrogant, I just want to address my point of view in regards to the points made by the columnist. Whether I agree or not, I just want to put a stick in the ground and see if anyone agrees or not, to see if I am off base or not, plus to share the data I have dug up because I assume there are Giants fans like me who are interested in such data. Plus, this provides a position against which to frame the discussion around, which makes it easier for me to write. And for that I thank the columnists.

Killion's Turn

Ann Killion of the Merc today had a column questioning whether the Giants have a plan or not, because, to her view, it was clear to her that when Bonds's knee went out, the Giants should have started planning for the future. She noted that she felt the Giants made a bad decision losing draft picks in order to sign free agents, making things worse for the Giants, because young players is needed for a rebuild, either to play for you or to trade away. She says that the team lacks an identity and questions whether Sabean will have the patience to build around the young pitching we have that is good but unproven.

Who Made What Decisions

I've been thinking a lot about the proposed Rios-Lincecum trade and her column made me realize something: this may be a deal the owners want to do but not Sabean. Sabean, in all his public acknowledgements of the Rios proposal, always makes pains to say that Lincecum is a great talent, a rare talent, and it would be very hard to trade him away. And he notes that the longer it takes the deal to close, the less likely it is to happen. If Sabean were really for the deal, he would have pulled the trigger on it long ago, without the angst going on in the media spotlight.

However, when the Pierzynski trade was brought up with Magowan before, he stated that had he been apprised of the deal, the owners would have vetoed it, meaning that for the Giants better players, ownership has a say over it. If the owners were against this deal for Rios, they would have vetoed it already, because of what Magowan said about losing Nathan - if they could veto Nathan, they sure as hell should be able to veto Lincecum. But this trade story is still lingering out in the press.

Therefore, it could be the owners who are keeping the deal alive for Toronto, and I'm hoping what Sabean said is true, that the longer this stretches out, the less likely it's going to happen. I think that's the more likely scenario right now because the news from Toronto, after the pimple pus swelled to a bursting point, became decidedly cautious and not at all confident that the deal would go through, in fact, one source was denying that there was even a proposal, as the Blue Jays got into full CYA-mode.

Side Note on Another Columnist

I just read an article by a Toronto columnist where he argues that the Giants are doing a "switch-and-bait" with Lincecum, and I suppose that could be what is happening, but the author shows his lack of Giants knowledge. In his column, he notes that Lincecum is the Giants top prospect, as noted by Baseball America, and says the Giants are trying to talk the Blue Jays into taking the Giants "No.3 starter, Matt Cain, or No.4 in the rotation, Noah Lowry, for Rios." So is Lincecum their #1 starter or #1 prospect? And, really, Matt Cain is our #3 starter now? This seems like he is quoting stuff from spring training 2007, when Zito and Morris were considered our top pitchers and Cain and Lowry were our #3 and #4, with Lincecum as our "top prospect," which is odd to say after he has pitched nearly a full season for us.

I think that anybody knowledgeable about the rest of the baseball world would know that Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are the Giants #1A and #1B starters. Maybe they are not proven to be them yet - as per Killion's point - but if one just look at their full performances as starters for the Giants, one would be hard pressed to say otherwise, unless you say that Zito's $18M automatically makes him one of our top pitchers - it doesn't.

Still, perhaps the Giants are trying to do a switch and bait. According to the author, the Giants made the Blue Jay's GM, J.P. Ricciardi, feel like "he was under house arrest." He then made it sound like the Giants were the ones who foisted this deal on the Blue Jays, then talked about how the "traditional belief is that getting rid of an everyday player for a pitcher is not good," though Ricciardi doesn't agree.

However, his version of reality don't seem right to me. He says the Giants came on about the deal, offering one of our top 3 pitchers, but it doesn't take a lot of homework to have found out that Sabean has said all along during the off-season that it would take a lot for another team to get Cain or Lincecum and that the Giants were not shopping them. Nor to have found out that the Giants main trading chips are Noah Lowry and Jonathan Sanchez. If Toronto couldn't have found that out relatively quickly - assuming they were the ones approached by the Giants - then they have pretty lousy researchers working for them plus perhaps didn't pay attention during the earlier meetings in the off-season when each GM stood up and talked about what they were looking for and what they have to offer.

In fact, to my way of thinking, they should have had a dossier profiling each team's needs and wants so that they would be prepared to talk during these GM meetings, that is, if they were serious about trading with anyone. Heck, at worse, they could have printed out Yahoo's list of each team's Hot Stove needs and plans off the internet plus checked out the news at sfgiants.com, Chris Haft has been a good source of info for those who want to quickly catch up with what the Giants are thinking: here, especially here, and clearly here. That took me less than 5 minutes. Or perhaps I'm too compulsive about things like, um, doing the job you are suppose to be doing.

Now, another possibility has come to mind about this whole deal: what if Magowan put this rumor out there as a trial balloon to test public opinion, perhaps because it is an ownership driven deal? That would makes some sense. He is rumored to have leaked info to the press before to control public opinion (like Dusty's tax problems suddenly popping up soon after he was let go, er, he went free agent; never proven it was Magowan though!). Sabean definitely doesn't like to talk about potential trades with the media, his motto seems to be "loose lips, sinks ships." If Magowan did put it out there, hopefully he has seen enough fans complain about this deal to kill it.

Drafting Good When Winning Is Extremely Hard

Again, like others, who share the uninformed opinion that the Giants seriously hurt their rebuilding by skipping draft picks via signing free agents. As I've noted before, my research shows that the odds of finding a good player with a first round pick is very low (about 10% chance), thus getting mad at the Giants about their drafts, is about the same as getting mad at yourself for not beating out Jerry Rice in a foot race - the relative odds of winning is very significant. Your chances of finding a good player rises about 4 to 5 times greater when looking at, say, the Giants #5 pick in 2008 versus the picks they had from 1998 to 2005.

She used the Detroit Tigers as an example of how they were able to trade their top draft picks for Cabrera and Willis. What she neglected to notice was that both Maybin and Miller were protected draft picks from when Detroit was losing games hand over fist, Maybin was the #10 pick overall in 2005, Miller the #6 pick overall in 2006. Maybin was their pick after losing 90 games; Miller was their pick after losing 91 games. In total, Detroit had 12 years of good draft pick position due to 12 years of losing.

In addition, she failed to notice that the Tigers "rebuilding" is actually very similar to what the Giants are currently trying to do: get young pitchers, buy free agent position players. Thus, when Dombrowski came on, which is where I start the clock on the most recent rebuild for them that returned them to winning, he signed older and physically questionable position free agents like I-Rod, Rondell White, Magglio Ordonez, plus signed pitchers like Urgeth Urbina, Jason Johnson, Troy Percival, Kenny Rogers, and Todd Jones, while obtaining young pitchers like Jeremy Bonderman, Justin Verlander, and Andrew Miller. Many of the high picks Detroit got, they spent on pitching: Verlander, Miller, and now Porcello, who probably made Miller expendable.

Identity Identified

Ann Killion noted that "The Giants as currently constituted have no identity." Like other fans, Killion missed the subtle change over the past few years: the identity of the Giants switched from offense focused to pitching focused. Sure Bonds was still around and got all the news and attention (from the media, by the way, so perhaps that is why she missed it), but the Giants pitching staff slowly but surely was transformed to the point where nearly everyone on the staff were either drafted by the Giants or obtained via a trade of a player drafted by the Giants.

The future, to me, is clearly about the pitching, and in particular, should be focused on Cain and Lincecum. The signing of Zito was an overt sign of the changeover in identity, along with Zito being front and center on the 2007 Media Guide. But the signs have been clear for a long while now that the Giants future is pitching, else they would not focus so much on drafting pitchers.

Sabean's Patience

Killion questions Sabean's patience, but per my point above about ownership influence, how much of the vet buying of the past few years has been because Sabean was impatient, and how much was driven by ownership wanting to win now with Bonds? And, really, as much as she is right that the rebuilding should have started when Bonds hurt his knee, how much of the subsequent moves were dictated by: 1) the tight budget situation at that time; 2) the fact that the Giants were paying future Hall of Famer (and aging) Bonds $20M per season; and 3) the last Giants championship was over 50 years ago in another city?

That would be like a newspaper signing Pulitzer for big money to join a small town newspaper that reports on the news at the local general store. If you are paying a player $20M on your roster, it behooves you to get the best players available and see what they can do together. Else, you trade away the $20M player and restart.

Hence the signing of vets tactic that the Giants have used since the 2002 World Series. As much as people want to complain, the Giants went out and got the best players available on the market at the positional needs they had that off-season. What more can you ask out of the team?

Sometimes the choices are between a rock and a hard place, and sometimes you are just plain unlucky. There is no way one can complain about the Durham signing, who knew he would become a regular on the DL when he had never been on the DL before, but he was the premium 2B available. Alfonzo was a risk for performance problems, but if the Giants had given Pedro Feliz the job at the time (he was their only alternative internally), the fans would have had a cow, and again, he was the premier 3B available, Boston had a fit when we signed him under their noses. Benitez, as bad as the press was on him, was the best closer on the market, and we had tried internal options but none of them worked out, so if he wasn't signed, I think Herges would have been the closer. Is that the closer of a team competing for the title? It was bad enough to have Hammonds/Tucker as our combination in RF, but there was little money to acquire anyone better, and thus the alternative was starting Todd Linden, and I doubt any team serious about winning would do that, at least Tucker was a proven veteran.

So if you are holding onto a $20M player, who, even after he returned from his knee problems, was still a great player, just not as great as before, you keep on trying to find that magic combination of free agent signings that gets the team winning. Hey, I wasn't happy about the results either, and I would have preferred that the Giants bunched the money together and signed Barry's successor instead of filling the roster with mediocre players, but that's life sometimes. But the vets signing (versus a rebuild) was a matter of putting your best foot forward and trying to the utmost to try to find the combination that would win it all while you have arguably the best player ever still playing for you, we did owe that to Barry, to try to win it while he was still here.

Rebuild Already Started

As noted, Killion wonders if Sabean can be patient in rebuilding. However, as I noted, the Giants have begun their rebuild under fans' noses. The pitching staff is almost totally redone. We don't really have enough to trade off a bunch to get good players back, like the Tigers can afford to do, now that their rebuild was done, and now they are competitive, they are in a different part of the team lifecycle, the Giants are rebuilding, the Tigers are done rebuilding and going for the gold now.

The comments Killion and others are making about the Giants could have been made about the Tigers a few years back: where is the plan, why are they signing aging free agents, why are they subjecting Bonderman to such horrible losses from their horrible offense, they lost 119 games after Dombrowski's first year, 13 games worse than before he took over, does he know what he are doing? You need to be patient with your talent, keep your clearly great talent, you trade away the others to get parts you need, you sign free agents to hold together the team until the young talent is ready to take over.

Here's what I see about Sabean's patience thus far: out of all the prospects the Giants have drafted during Sabean's tenure as GM, he has kept the two who probably means the most to our future, Cain and Lincecum. He could have trade off Cain and Lowry years ago and gotten better replacements than the free agents we signed over the years, but kept them. Lincecum could have been traded last season and gotten us a better 1B. As much as it hurts that we traded away Nathan and Accardo, they are not players who you would build a winning team around as a foundation. All you need to do is look at the churn in closers over the past few years to see how things can change in a hurry.

And that bring up a good point to my mind: for all those thinking the Rios trade is so good, the arguments made against keeping Lincecum could have been applied to Nathan, Liriano, and Bonser. So is the Pierzynski trade therefore good too in your mind? Or are they clouded by the final, horrible reality?

Giants Plan

The Giants plan has clearly been pitching since Sabean took over. As much as the team has been about offense with Bonds around, the Giants drafts have been overwhelmingly about getting pitching, pitching, and more pitching. Our first major group of widely respected prospects were pitchers (Ainsworth, Williams, Foppert). And when it was not pitching, it was speed and defense. And that, if one has paid attention to Sabean's press conferences over the past few years, is what Sabean has been saying is the Giants plan, pitching, speed, and defense.

In particular, Sabean has said that he believes that the MLB will be shifting back to speed dominated offense in the coming years, as the cycle of power/speed goes back and forth and, obviously, the last cycle has been all about power (with the silent understanding that it was PEDS driven). Hence why our farm system, up and down, is full of players who are speed burners, Velez, Burriss, Richardson, Izturis, Sanders, Bocock, McBryde, and most of them are in the lower minors. And speed often translate to better defense, generally, particularly in the outfield.

So the Giants have rebuilt their pitching and are pretty much done. Now comes the lineup, and some of the pitching will have to go. I think 2008 is a pivotal year, if prospects develop as expected or hoped, we should have enough to trade off next off-season to get the team back into the win column. But for now, fans need to be patient and see how things unfold. Hopefully the Giants don't take a giant step backward and trade off either Cain or Lincecum. That would be taking the eye off the ball and swinging at a pitch clearly out of the strike zone, much like a Pedro Feliz hack: useless and the end result will be bad.

12 comments:

  1. I love ya OGC, but I just don't see how you can derive method from the Giants madness. Yes, Sabean likes speed, defense and pitching; however, he continues to sink money into long term contracts with over 30 players that just don't make sense in terms of our situation. Rowand is a fine player who had a hell of a season last year, but he stands a fairly good chance of sucking when the Giants are ready to compete.
    A poster at another site quoted the saw that insanity is repeating the same action over and over and expecting a different result. That quote sums up the Giants experience for me.

    kenshin

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  2. The Rowand signing does boggle the mind a bit. I am a Sabean fan but I think we need a new GM who has an open mind to start over. Sabean will never truly rebuild, he'll just continue to try to field a semi-competitive team. Try to keep our prospects and sign some decent veteran talent. But we're not getting a chance to test our prospects. You can't rebuild and try to stay out of the basement at the same time. If we're going to rebuild, we need to do it right.

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  3. Well, Martin, while I was more on board with Killian last night, tonight I am not sure. I think it would be kind of stupid to say we know the direction of the team based on Rowan's signing. Does it portend of a Rowan, Winn, Roberts OF? Or is Sabean planning to trade one or both of Roberts, Winn? I do not necessarily disagree with the idea of upgrading the defense (and, as long as you are upgrading there, why not upgrade the offense, too?) in CF. It really does not tell us if he has a plan for '09 or '10. That, I think, is what we all want to know. The next couple of months will tell us. But, DAMN, we want to know now.
    What do you think about losing the draft pick? Of giving up the opportunity to plow the money into scouting, development, Latin American FAs?

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  4. I'll post on Rowand signing soon, in more detail, which should answer fully the questions here. But I'll give a taste of what I'm thinking here first.

    Basically, Sabean is not the one sinking money into these players, ownership is. They want to be competitive this year, so we don't know if Sabean agrees or acquiesing to their dictates. So getting a new GM would probably end up with fans wondering why this new GM is doing the same old things.

    The signing itself is not the greatest thing, but given the alternative of the Giants trading Lincecum for Rios, I'm all for the deal. Also, offensively, he's been pretty good twice in the past 4 seasons and, as I'll try to show in my post, that's more the norm than is 2005-2006.

    I love you too kenshin, but why is Rowand a fairly good chance of sucking when the Giants are ready to compete? If prospects and players continue to develop, plus we get a great player with the 5th pick in 2008, I think we can be competitive in the 2009-10 timeframe. Are you thinking more like his 4th or 5th year of the contract? Even if so, if he is at least around .750 OPS, and he has been for all the time he has been a regular, he will be OK enough since he is a centerfielder, a position where we don't need as much offense. Hopefully, by then, we would have replaced him with a better middle of lineup hitter.

    He is here for his defense and his clubhouse demeanor and competitive fire on the field, and for the offense he should be able to deliver over the first 2-3 years of his contract. By the end of his contract, we should hopefully have better hitters in the middle or should forget about it and finally do a total rebuild.

    Matt, I would prefer a total meltdown as well, for 2008, then by 2009 we would have a better idea what our prospects can and can't do, plus hopefully a better free agent class, and more pitching prospects to trade away. Again, I think it's ownership driving this.

    allfrank, I think the Rowand signing falls into what I wrote about needing to do things not directly related to the overall plan, though I would note that this does in that he won the Gold Glove last season, so he greatly improves CF defense over Roberts (who Sabean admits is not a CF; Roberts had great defense in LF in 2006). And, if he could continue hitting .800+ OPS for us (he had an OPS of .843 away in 2007), that would be an upgrade on our offense.

    Again, I think the plan is clear: pitching and defense, with a dash of speed.

    I'm OK with losing our 2nd round draft pick for him, the odds are not that great for finding a good player when you get that deep into the draft. I don't think that throwing $12M into player development is going to yield more than what Rowand can do for us on the field. Besides, there's still money left over if the Giants don't acquire another big contract, Rowand should not affect scouting and Latin American FAs or AP FAs.

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  5. Why do you keep supporting Sabean's actions? This signing is ludicrous. Let me break some news to you......Sabean is part of management. If he wasn't on board with this type of crap, it wouldn't be happening. He just ended up with Rowand because Jones was too expensive, Fukudome wouldn't come here, couldn't get the Yankees to give us Matsui, afraid of the fan's backlash for trading for Rolen, and on and on and on. It's the same old routine repackaged and shoved down our throats again. And the cherry on the cake is punting another draft pick....Very wise when you have zero talent in your minor league system and not much more at the ML level.

    There is no rebuild going on....stealth or any other kind. There is no commitment to getting younger & healthier. There is no direction, no plan, no idea.

    There is no way that Rowand duplicates his last couple of seasons, especially the last one. He has been playing in band boxes inflating his stats. Don't you think it is a major possibility that playing over half his games in AT&T, Petco & Chavez Ravine will make his production go down? You realize that 17 of HRs came at home last year.....where I could hit a hime run. How is he going to fit in 3 years from now, 5 years from now? It's complete and utter garbage.

    The only thing that this signing did is somehow convince Braindead that Cain & Lincecum should come off the market. At least he's done one thing right.

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  6. Perhaps I'm just pessimistic but I don't see the Giants as ready to compete over the next 2-3 years. By the time Rowand turns 34 or 35, I strongly suspect that his defense will have become a liability. Whereas a 750 OPS is postively good in CF, it becomes far less appealing in left or right.

    kenshin

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  7. kenshin, I know a lot of people disagree with me, and I know very well that I could be wrong, so I won't denigrate anyone for disagreeing with me, I understand most people's point of view.

    To clarify, we have Rowand for his 30-34 year old seasons. Yes, I think there's risk of decline in both defense and offense by the time he hits 33 or 34, but 750 OPS is not that bad in the corner OF positions, as long as we have stronger hitters elsewhere. And as I noted in my Rowand post, players hold their offensive performance pretty steady until 35, in general (of course, each individual is different).

    The main point is whether he can help us out in his early years. I think he can help greatly, we don't have any player capable of putting up an 800+ OPS season, though I'm hopeful Schierholtz is, and that Villalona will eventually reach there. Hopefully by the time Rowands hits his steep decline, the new troops will be in place.

    But with salaries rising so fast though, by his 4th season, a player of average ability will probably be making close to $20M per season by then - I still cannot believe that Matthews, Pierre, Meche, Padilla, all got $10M per season average last off-season, and salaries have been rising about 20% the past couple of seasons that $20M could be the salary for average players by then and Rowand's $12M will look like a bargain for average players or even below average players.

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  8. Kenshin, I think it depends on what you mean by "compete." I agree that Giants are not going to have the rosters that we see today for the Tigers or Angels. But I do not think we are far away from competing next year. By competing, I am talking about the 81-88 win category. And this without too much more change.
    First, I think last season was an anomaly. With our run differential, we should have finished something like 77-85. I realize the reality is we finished 71-91. But there are reasons we underperformed - and I think we will at least perform up to expectations this year ('08).
    Second, everyone likes to point out we were last or next to last in many offensive categories. Well, most of the NL west was below average. WE were outscored by 60 runs by SD,50 runs by LA, and 30 by Az. Our pitching was better than that of Az and LA (in terms of runs scored). So, we don't even have to be average in offense to be competitive.
    Third, this, in a nutshell, is how we could be competitive.
    SP: Looks much better than in
    '07 - [Cain: same; Lincecum: slight improvement + starts for entire year; Zito: steadier, more consistent, thus improved; Lowry: same; Correia: better than Ortiz/Morris
    RP: Yes, we're worried, but we've lost Munter, Benitez. WE start the year with Wilson, Walker, Henn, Chulk, Misch and probably 2 to be added that are likly to be better than last year's version of Kline, TAschner, Sanchez.
    Defense: Better if Rowan in CF, Frandsen 2b, Roberts/Davis LF.
    These parts of the team are all improved - and will give significantly improved production.
    The O - the big question:
    OF: Rowan, Winn, healthy Roberts, Lewis, SChier, or DAvis slighlty better than Linden, injured Roberts, and only 115 games of Bonds
    C: Same
    IF: 1b: Ort + Aurilia (assuming no other signings) better than '07 (injured Aurilia + Klesko.
    2b: Either improved Durham or Frandsen
    SS: I think we get a full year of post All star game Omar: 260/330/340
    3b: The great unknown.
    Regardless, this team IS younger and faster. Subtract Sweeney, Klesko, Bonds ADD Rowan, and full year of Lewis, Roberts, DAvis, Ort and I think they win a lot more 1 and 2 run games than last year.

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  9. Using the lineup analyzer data (by Cyril Morong; see Baseball Musing) and Bill James estimates for a lineup of Roberts/Davis, Frandsen, Winn, Molina, Rowand, Durham, Ortmeier, Vizquel, plus pitcher (2006 #9 stats), I came up with 4.25 runs per game estimate. That is about last year's average.

    Last year's runs allowed was 4.44, but there should be a variety of improvements in the pitching staff.

    Zito had 4.53 ERA, but I think his second half ERA of 4.11 would be more applicable for 2008. Bill James projection is 3.74 ERA.

    Cain had a 3.65 ERA. I think he should be able to duplicate that, but Bill James projection is 3.42 ERA.

    Lowry had a 3.92 ERA. His career ERA is 4.03, and his Bill James projection is 4.13 ERA.

    Lincecum had a 4.00 ERA. His ERA in the second half was 3.39; no Bill James projection for some reason. He only had 24 starts and should have a full season of 32 in 2008.

    Matt Morris and Russ Ortiz together had a 4.65 ERA, covering 29 starts. Correia, Misch, Sanchez should be able to approximate that over a full season, given how well Correia and Misch started in 2007.

    Together, all the improvements should result in about a 0.2 run drop in runs allowed, to 4.24. With runs scored at 4.25, that should be a .500 team in 2008. That doesn't include any improvement in the bullpen, which is possible with Wilson closing, but I won't assume anything.

    The problem with 2007's offense was that for some reason, with Bonds in the lineup, we only scored 4.0 runs per game, according to stats from the Merc's Baggarly (which, given the number of times Sabean has noted it since the season ended, I assume the Giants told him about that). Without him, we score something like 4.7 runs per game, a huge difference considering he's not in the lineup.

    My theory, which I have not been able to figure out a way to test out, is that this is a result of Barry typically being taken out for defensive purposes late in the game, meaning he usually misses his last AB. Plus, just as importantly, is replaced by a hitter who don't hit as well as Barry does, but now occupies the very important cleanup hitter spot.

    However, looking at his game stats in baseball-reference.com, there is not a lot of games where he misses his last AB, it seems. There were a lot of complete games. Assuming that he missed ABs for games where he was taken out in the 7th inning or earlier, out of his 116 starts, only 17 games had him leaving by the 7th, 2 by the 6th, 3 by the 5th, 1 by the 4th and 1 by the 3rd. That's at total of only 24 games.

    So my theory doesn't appear to hold water, at least not in terms of how he was used in 2007.

    That leaves my other thought, which I've seen intimated during the season, which is that since Bonds was so near to Hank Aaron in 2007, the players were distracted by that and not focused on the games itself. Hence the Morris comment on whether they were there to win or to watch a record get set. I can buy that to a certain extent, though, of course, one would hope they could be professional enough to not be bothered by that. But we all are human, as Zito found out, and can't help but focus on things outside of the game itself.

    Still, even with a Rowand led lineup, with Frandsen at 3B, the projected run scored would be enough to return the Giants to .500, which means that during the season or next off-season, if the Giants can obtain another good hitter, particularly at 3B, or if Schierholtz can prove to be a middle of lineup presence in his first season (assuming Winn is traded), we would be able to win in the upper 80's and be competitive again.

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  10. Very interesting, Martin. What are some of the player's projections? I am surprised that the runs/game would be the same. I suppose I would have thought it would be about 4.5, 4.6. Of course, I concede I am looking at some players through rose colored glasses. Roberts, I would project based on his 2nd half; Frandsen, I would think would project significantly better than Feliz (despite fewer HRs); Durham, I would project at about 250 BA; Ort, I would think, would have to project better than Aurilia/Klesko/Sweeney. I can see some drop off projected for Winn, altho I think he will hit 290/295. I would see some drop off for Molina, as well. Omar I would consider a wash. I don't think he can drop off much further, but I would not necessarily project him higher, either.
    So, in short, I don't see how the runs / game come out the same, when the lineup is a little better (Frandsen, Ort) and it is reasonable to expect some improvements (Roberts, Durham), without any significant drop off. Thoughts?

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  11. I used the Bill James projections currently available at Fan Graphs: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/

    If you enter in each player's last name, then select his STATS, there is a projection there. There was one player who didn't have a projection and, yeah, I used something representative of what I thought he would do (I think it was one of the starting pitchers).

    His numbers don't deviate much from what you suggest, from my memory.

    I think it shows how underperforming the lineup was last year when it had Barry Bonds and still scored that little. I think the loss of Bonds is a pretty significant drop off, even to Rowand, unless Rowand suddenly boosted upward his power.

    Also, this is just a formula, not a fait accompli. I just use it to give a ballpark figure to discuss against. I think the lineup can produce more than that, but obviously that's my opinion, can't really prove it otherwise....

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  12. Martin, no question Bonds' OBP and SLG will be missed. But I am wondering if the Giants were unable to fully utilize his extraordinary OBP numbers. Subtracting his HRs from his runs scored, he only scored 47 runs. I wonder if his station to station base running, coupled with little consistent power in the lineup behind him lead to an extraordinary number of stradned RISPs.. Without accounting for batting 4th, if Bonds is replaced in LF by Roberts/Lewis, isn't it possible that, despite their lower OBPs, because of there speed and aggressiveness on the bases, the number of runs they score will approximately equal what Bonds scored? I realize the SLG will have to come from somewhere else, but I just wonder if Bonds' offense will not be missed as much as one assumes.

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