Saturday, June 30, 2007
On the other hand, tell me what you were doing at age 16 on the baseball diamond. Anyway, he will celebrate his 17th birthday on August 13th and he already looks more like a pro athlete than any of us will ever look like.
I wish there was more information about who is playing in this league, I would be curious how old the players are who are playing there. I assume most are probably teenagers, some from prior drafts, some from international (mainly Carribean). For example, we drafted a high schooler, Lussier I think (can't recall first name now), and I think he played there a couple of years but failed miserably (we drafted him late but signed him for around a 3-5 round type of bonus. I'm not sure if he's still even in our farm system, he hasn't made it up to Salem-Keizer yet, that's for sure.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Ishikawa in AAA
I know people think I'm beating a dead horse, but I've never said that he's a sure thing major leaguer, which is what some of my detractors have repeatedly said I've said. All I've ever said is that power hitters who hit like Ishikawa is rare, particularly at such a young age, and thus you have to give him the chance to succeed. Throwing him into Dodd Stadium is like having Maury Wills try to steal bases in Candlestick after the Giants overwater the basepath to make it harder for him to steal bases: it effectively takes away his strongest attribute and gives him no chance to succeed.
Some say that he should learn to do other things better then. Then why not tell that to Dave Kingman? He had a very long career mainly hitting homers and nothing much else. To take a more contemporary example, how about Adam Dunn? He's basically the same type of hitter: lots of homers (though not as much power), lots of walks, lots of strikeouts, but not that many hits (but probably a much better fielder than Dunn). There are plenty of players in baseball history with one-note, two-note type of skills (technically, Ishikawa has three, his homers, his defense, and his ability to take walks). Leaving Ishikawa in Connecticut just proves that he can not hit homers there, what purpose is there to that?
That's why I was heartened (though I did feel sad for him) when I was vacationing in Hawaii I read that state native Chad Santos was released by the Giants. He was the player standing in Ishikawa's way since they both are left-handed power 1B. And lo and behold, when I get home, first newspaper back and it notes that Ishikawa had been promoted to AAA.
And that's all I've been saying. Give him an opportunity to succeed or fail. Particularly for a position prospect-lacking organization like the Giants, it is the extreme in wastefulness to not give Ishikawa a chance to make it. To keep him in Dodd Stadium, where, as I showed with the various cuts of data, using the best comparative methodologies I know that is accepted for comparing parks within a league, is stupid. He proved he could hit in AA - look at his road stats last year, same as it was for lower levels - but not hit in Dodd Stadium, so move him up to AAA, let's see if he can handle better pitchers.
And people keep on harping on how much of a hitters league AAA is and thus how he does there is not reflective of how good he is so why promote Ishikawa. How simply unoriginal is that thinking! That is the biggest "DUH!" around, particularly if anyone has ever bothered to read through my prior years' posts. One of the things I have done in the past is to show where Giants prospects rank against other hitters in the league they were in because I do know that how well they do in that league is greatly affected by the hitting/pitching environment of that league, as well as age, so I also do a ranking by similar aged prospects in that league, to get a better feel for how they are doing versus other prospects in general and similar aged prospects.
So the point of promoting Ishikawa to AAA is not to see how well he hits there, but, with a more nuanced approach, you look at how he does against other prospects, knowing that he is now hitting against much better pitching than he did in AA. Does he adjust to the skill level or sink quickly? Or maybe he hits 20 homers, but where does that rank him in the league? And how is he doing relative to guys of his age?
I think that is much more important, though there are always less datapoints for comparison. Older prospects almost always have an advantage against younger prospects. Thus I take with a giant grain of salt whenever an older player is doing well in any of the minor leagues, particularly if he has 3 or more years in age over the bulk of the competition. Of course he should do better, he has many more years of experience.
Also, some people, even so-called experts who want to get paid for their thoughts, think that young players are irredeemable, that they cannot learn, but I wholeheartedly believe that young players can and do learn. Thus initial failure is a setback to me, but not the end of the story for me, as long as he shows his base skills are around, just hidden. It is better to see what he does with experience: does he learn? does he get better?
But the key to that is to put him in a situation where he can succeed and thus learn from his mistakes. Putting him back into a situation where he cannot succeed, where he fails even when he is doing exactly what he was doing before for success, will test even the greatest of wills and industriousness. It really puts him into an impossible situation, in my mind. If Tiger Woods was put into a situation where his 300+ yard drives are reduced to 200 or less, it would muck with his confidence, it would raise doubts in his mind. That's Ishikawa in Dodd Stadium, to me. Now that he's in AAA, it's up to him to succeed or fail, but at least he has that opportunity there.
Wendell Fairley on USA Today's 2007 All-USA High School Baseball Team
Look who got ranked up there with some of the position high school players who the Giants could have taken with their 10th pick: the 29th pick, Wendell Fairley. I was waiting in the airport and luckily found the USA Today Sport section (thanks sis!), which listed their 2007 All-USA high school baseball team. Was I happily shocked and pleasantly surprised to see him considered to be in the same company as Mike Dominguez, Jason Heyward, and Mike Moustakas.
Some factoids from the profile in the newspaper:
- Height 6'2"; Weight 190
- Bats left, throws right
- Was a two-way player in baseball, hitting .538 with 9 HR and 36 RBI, and going 9-2 with a 1.89 ERA and 109 strikeouts (unfortunately, they did not note how many innings; shameful :^)
- He played in the All-American Game in Albuquerque and was all-state in baseball and football.
- I like this quote: [I like] wooden [bats]. It's more of a challenge. You have to work harder (at the plate)."
- I like his favorite player: Barry Bonds. "He can hit it out of the park. I like watching the ball get up there." I wonder if he made it known to the Giants that he would sign if they drafted him while letting other teams know that if they drafted him, he would be staying in school if they weren't giving him, say, $2M.
Obviously, with no ranking, there's nothing to say that he's on par with them, but if he makes the team with them, he's probably not that far behind them. And that corroborates some of the talk I heard when we drafted Fairley, that he has top 15 talent but dropped because of personal issues (a hazing incident). But compared to the accomplishments of the other hitters, he's clearly below them.
However, this mini-profile makes clear to me a couple of extenuating circumstances that brings him closer to these other players. First, he's the only one among them to be an all-state football player. Now that he is devoting all his time to baseball, that should help with his development as a hitter. Secondly, he's the only one among the hitters to be a very good starting pitcher. He struck out 109, while among the two pitchers making this team, Rick Porcello, who was player of the year, struck out 112 (1.18 ERA, 71 IP), and Jarrod Parker, who also made this team, struck out 116 (0.10 ERA, 70 IP). Like with his split attention with football, his focusing on being a position player only will help with his development as well. And to steal from his quote above, he likes a challenge and is willing to work hard to achieve things. That's a great attitude to have no matter what job you have.
There were a couple of other Giants draftees mentioned on the All-USA Second Team:
- Madison Bumgarner: 6' 5", 200 pounds; 11-2, 1.05 ERA, 143 strikeouts in 86.1 innings.
- Nick Noonan: 6' 2", 175 pounds; .540, 15 homers, 55 RBI, 42 of 44 stolen bases. He was the one described as being Chase Utley-lite (much less HR power, 10-15 per year). How that is different from Marcus Giles-like (which #52 Charlie Culberson was compared to), I don't know.
The Giants continue to sink as the offense continue to struggle while the pitching has continued to be the centerpiece of the team. I can only say how sad I am about this. 11 games is a lot to make up from the start of July and while it is possible, it is not probable.
Though I would add that if Cain and Lowry go on their rampage that they have gone through every August of their major league careers, and Morris and Zito can pitch competitively as well (which Morris has easily done, Zito sporadically this year, but Zito has been stellar in post All-Star relative to pre for his career, 3.26 ERA vs. 3.92), then I think the Giants can at least get to .500 and respectability, then can see where they are relative to the competition then.
But it is going to take a hitter like Durham, Aurilia or Roberts to take off and start hitting really well to jump start this offense. They will need a boost like that, like Durham last year, Winn the previous year, to get the offense going. Hopefully they can clear their minds soon and start hitting the way that they are capable of doing, that will get us going to .500.
I am hoping and praying that the Giants don't trade off any of their young prospects. Just keep them and see how they do. I can see trying to trade off Durham, Feliz or Vizquel (with Frandsen taking over) and Kline (with Misch taking over) during the trade deadline, with perhaps Klesko as a possibility, though he has been hitting so well, I hope we can keep him for 2008 since no 1B is ready right now. I don't think anyone would take Aurilia, but he could also play SS or 3B, so that could allow us to trade off an additional player above.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
6 Man Rotation?
But you know me by now, compulsive, so the last post wasn't my last post, but this should be.
Sanchez looked pretty good in his outing today and Lincecum seemed pretty lost. I know Sanchez is not ready to start yet but given the innings Lincecum is piling on, what if the Giants at some point went to a 6 man rotation, either actually 6 starters or 5 starters with Lincecum and Sanchez sharing the 5th spot, alternating starts?
I don't think they would do that for the rest of the season, but definitely perhaps during the 32 (or whatever) straight days of playing that the Giants will face in August to make up the two Pittsburgh games that were rained out, a 6 man rotation would make a lot of sense, if only to give the starters an extra day of rest during that long period of games.
And maybe from this point on, we go with the 5 man with Lincecum and Sanchez sharing the #5 spot. To build up Sanchez's arm, they make Lincecum's starts a two-man start, much like early spring training or some minor league games, with Lincecum starting and is removed around the 5-6 inning if he's going strong (earlier if necessary), allowing Sanchez to pitch the rest of the way (unless he's lit up, then removed like any bad start by a starter) and providing Lincecum's arm some rest from a full season's grind.
Not saying this is the best idea, just throwing it out there.
Side thought: I wonder how much the Giants pushing him to throw more warm-up pitches than his usual routine of 15 pitches to start the game has affected his psyche and resulted in these horrible starts? Just a thought.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Some random thoughts before I go:
Lincecum is Fine
These fine blogs covered this situation fine I think - McCovey Chronicles, El Lefty Malo, and Baycity - but I just wanted to add my two centavos that Lincecum should stay up, as he has nothing to prove in AAA (when you give up only 1 run for the first month of the season, that pretty much says it all, don't it?), but a skipped start, a la Cain's in May, might be good in order to clear his mind after a bad stretch plus he's on pace for 211 IP, so it would be good to reduce the load on his arm, if only to stem potential critcism of the Giants management - they will be in for a load of criticism if this season doesn't turn around soon, no use adding abusing our top prospect's arm to the list.
Obviously it is not going as any of us hoped, though some have claimed that they saw this all along. Just like they said that they saw this all along in 2002 and 2003, except that they didn't, or that they saw it all along in 2004, except that they didn't that year either. And it doesn't take a Nobel Prize winner to see that 2005 was lost without Bonds. The real crux of the matter, I think, is that most of the "major" free agents passed on the Giants, so the Giants ended up signing the same old, same old, and thus the naysayers said, "See!" But even then, perhaps it's better that they passed.
A bigger project I was going to tackle but I'll just get into now with less details, is that people complain about the choices made but sometimes all the choices were bad. For example, the year we signed Alfonzo to play 3B, he was the best choice. There was him or David Bell or you could give the job to Pedro Feliz, who up to then showed no aptitude for hitting at the major league level. With all the problems Alfonzo had at the time of the signing, if you wanted to win the next season, you had to sign him. And Durham was a great signing, or so it seemed at the time, given his health and durability his whole career, and his offensive performance.
Same problem this year. None of the "top" free agents were worth getting, in my opinion, for the contracts they got, Zito included. The risk of so many years for stats lacking star quality made them risky - Pierre, Lee, Matthews - and personally, I think at least two of them (Lee and Matthews) were using the Giants to drive up the price for the team they really wanted to sign with, Lee in particular when the Giants told him they chould go higher and he told them not to bother.
In any case, I think the Giants won by losing those bids: Lee is only hitting .849 OPS - .757 on the road - and Pierre is his usual nice BA but no walks or power to speak of, and his OPS sunk low because he doesn't have a good home park to prop up his overall stats, he now hits in a pitchers park and in a key position in the Dodgers offense, 2nd and Matthews is not hitting anywhere near what he did last year, he's more around his career norms now, and still he's hitting abnormally high against RHP than before, and incredibly well at home, which is more of a pitcher's park, in that power is reduced significantly there, leading to a lowered run environment.
I thought that signing Roberts, Molina, and Durham to relatively short contracts, given that no one in our farm system was really shining - Frandsen is OK, but hardly a sure thing prospect - was the smart thing to do in order to have a relatively competitive offense to go with the stellar pitching that we potentially had and yet not hurt future development while trying to win. Zito is a great addition in concept to the rotation, but that contract is just so risky - I may find ways that Giants management might be justifying it, but it doesn't mean that I'm always comfortable with all their moves. I just hope that they are doing the right thing given their successes before.
And really, if you are going to sign Bonds, you have to do your best to win this season. There is no sense to trying to rebuild when you have Bonds on your team, it is just a waste of money. And Bonds wouldn't be happy either.
Still, I think the near final piece of the puzzle has been placed: Durham moved to batting 3rd, Klesko moved to hitting behind Bonds. I can see Molina earning the #5 spot for his hitting in runners on situations, but Klesko really should bat there, now that he is hitting over .900 OPS since May started. With teams intentionally walking Bonds still, Klesko is then coming up with one or two men on base, and he walks a lot so that leaves a lot of 2-3 runers on situations for Molina and Feliz batting after him. Feliz hits great with bases loaded, the other teams are clearly afraid of him at that point, and he hits a heck of a lot better (.868 OPS vs. about .720 OPS in all other situations). And Molina has - for his long career - hit significantly better with runners on than not, particularly with RISP and 2 outs plus bases loaded situations.
Just DL Durham Already
I just noticed that Durham is out of the lineup today. He's still having abdominal problems that has hampered his playing. Has he ever had an injury that hasn't lingered? He's the guy Sabean was thinking of when he was talking about players who don't follow the Giants recommendations. The Giants should have just DLed him when Roberts was DLed and let Frandsen play because he does nobody any good when he's not 100%. His OPS since May began is around .660, and that sucks coming any spot in the lineup, but particularly so from the #5 spot.
Despite our offensive problems, I think they should just DL Durham now, get him 100%, and let Frandsen play 2B. In games he has 3 or more plate appearances (AB+BB), he is batting .271/.328/.407/.735, which is not as good as Durham normally but better than Durham current .230/.297/.365/.662 since May started. And the average 2B since 2000 has hit .273/.335/.406/.741, so Frandsen is right in there, average hitting 2B.
The only problem with Frandsen playing is that this means Feliz probably is batting 6th and Klesko is batting 3rd. The only good news is that Feliz is finally adjusted to his new hitting philosophy and he has struck out only 16 times in his last 160 AB, for a 90% contact rate and BB/K ratio of 8:16 or 50%. That's pretty good and excellent for him. However, this has resulted in a big drop in power which was his only source of offensive value previously, though the good news is that he has boosted his power this month (at a cost of BB but not SO; admittedly small sampling). Hopefully he can start benefiting from his new hitting philosophy in the second half of this season.
I would prefer batting Frandsen 3rd and Klesko 5th, pushing Molina to 6th and Feliz 7th. The lineup calculator found that the 3rd hitter doesn't add as much to the overall offense as the 5th hitter, so you keep the two higher OBP 1/2 in Roberts and Winn, Frandsen 3rd, as his OBP is average, then Bonds, Klesko, Molina to drive in the runners, and Feliz to pick up the scraps sometimes. Vizquel can bat 8th and be the secondary leadoff off from the bottom of the lineup.
Giants Are Not Out of It Yet
There is still a lot of games to play, we have more weeks to play than games behind (Dusty's rule) so if we make up a game a week, we'll be fine. While we are very far behind, I think the Giants still can get moving with our rotation looking so good, even with the blips in performances, and our offense firming up with Klesko batting behind Bonds when Durham is in the lineup, or better yet, Durham out of the lineup until he heals. We still need Roberts to return to career norms - he's still hitting poorly, he probably could have used another week on the DL or avoided the good pitching of Haren, Dice-K and Wakefield - but for a short stretch there he was 5 for 14 so there's hope plus he's still getting on base OK, which is his main function, he's just not hitting for power: .200/.333/.280/.613.
I still think we can get a good winning streak going soon, with Durham out of the rotation in the key hitting spot, hopefully it starts soon. The other teams in the NL West are starting to falter, as I noted they should as soon as their pitching regresses to the mean, so the Giants need to take advantage. Unfortunately they drew the short straw and get to face Toronto, Boston, and New York, plus Oakland, whereas other teams get to face Tampa Bay and Baltimore instead.
But they will be done with the Yankees over the weekend, so they need to make their move starting next week at home against NL West opponents, the 'Dres and the D-Backs, then take on the Reds and Cards on the road just before the All-Star break, which is extra long this year for the Giants, I suppose since they need a day to reconfigure the park back for regular play after prettying it up for the All-Star game.
But there's little time left to make up such a large deficit, so they will definitely have to make some sort of move up the NL West before the All Star game to have any hope of competing for the title. And hope is coming up short for us for the meanwhile, the flame is a-flickering. But I think a winning streak is still possible with the pitching we have, we just need Roberts to get the offense started and Bonds, Klesko and Molina to drive them in.
Go Giants and see you all in a couple of weeks! Keep the faith!
Friday, June 15, 2007
Carlos "really like this kid:"
Oh my goodness, I really like this kid too. Good arm action, very good tempo. Don't be fooled. He looks really smooth, but this kid is aggressive, which I really like. I may disagree with other scouts about changing his arm slot. I say leave his arm slot where it is. As you can probably tell, I like athletic pitchers, and he certainly fits the mold.That sounds like a great review to me. He rated Bumgarner 3rd among the pitchers selected in the first round, significant because there were 5 pitchers selected above him. So another top arm falls to us at #10, this time the third best pitcher out of the 6 selected (his rank could change, as a top-ranked pitcher, Porcello, fell much lower).
He again drifts and leads with his hips into a nice long stride, but his finish is a little on the abrupt side. A couple of things that I would do with Bumgarner: Teach him how to finish his pitches better (upper body lean, long arm deceleration a la Price) and scrap the curve and go with a slurve/slider-type pitch that starts on the same plane as his fastball. He could also speed his body up just a tad...
I really like this pick at No. 10. As of right now, Price and Parker are Nos. 1 and #2, and Bumgarner is probably my No. 3.
Given that the Giants left Lincecum alone, that suggests that they would also leave Bumgarner alone as well. After all, he has been ultra-successful with is command and control the way he is, and mucking with his arm slot could be messing with his command.
Carlos described Bumgarner as an athletic pitcher, and I saw that description from various quotes from Giants management, and that is how Lincecum was described too, as athletic. Sounds like Carlos thinks that Madison have a few items that he could work on to reach his potential: finish better, speed up body, learn slurve/slider-type pitch. Still, he "really like this pick at No. 10."
Can't wait until he covers #22 Tim Alderson and #29 Wendell Fairley.
First, I am reposting a comment I made at my fantasy baseball league, that I thought was pretty good and not something I've covered before regarding Barry Zito's contract. But what prompted the comment was Schmidt getting dropped by one of our owners plus I also discussed the D-gers:
Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, I will get immense pleasure from every paycheck Schmidt cashes in and he either a) pitches poorly, b) pitches with poor velocity, or c) is injured. The Dodgers are winning now based on unsustainably great pitching.And you know me by now, I like to tweak and go on (and on), so I would like to add here what I noted earlier this year: this is the best way to win a championship, to have a great rotation.
I felt that they dealt their offense a fatal blow with the addition of Pierre, and he will haunt them for 5 seasons @ $11M per, particularly after Furcal is gone and Pierre leads off, and their starting rotation a fatal blow with the addition of Schmidt, for 3 years @ about $16M per, that's going to be a lot of salary to eat each year in terms of poor or zero performance, and should kill their chances during our golden rotation years together. They suffered much of their recent malaise absorbing Dreifort's sick contract.
I know there are people saying that Zito will be similarly bad but I think, while it is a huge risk, the risk/reward side of the equation is there too. We have such good pitching from our young guys right now that even if Zito was bad, so what? As long as the other four can pitch well - and right now they look capable of that - he can be the most expensive #5 starter around but won't hurt us performance-wise much because in relationship to other team's #5 starter, he'll fit right in, assuming no epic Russ Ortiz type of implosion.
But if he is as good as he has been the past two seasons, or even regressed a little, then we have a very good rotation from top to bottom, there will be no rest for other teams, and we will beat up their back of rotation guys (hence why Morris and Lowry has been doing well relatively while Cain is losing being matched up with other team's better pitchers despite pitching well).
The important thing is to view the entire rotation as a whole, not focus on Zito as the ace because of the contract. This is totally different from the Rockies signing Hampton, they were desperate at that time for an ace starter and when he failed, he took the team down with him. Zito will at minimum probably not hurt the team performance-wise if he suddenly is as bad as some sabers think he is, but can greatly help the team, perhaps push us over the top, if he is pitching as well as he had the past two years.
Good pitching can shut down good hitting, look at how good Johan Santana is. Not that I'm saying that any of our pitchers are that good, but if you can have a staff, 1-5, of pitchers who can keep you in the game most of the time, that's the best way of getting through the gaunlet of games during the playoffs. While before a little luck and a hot streak can win you a pennant (Gene Tenace; Bucky Dent), you have another layer to get through with the first round of the playoffs, and unlike other sports where there is often a great separation between teams, particularly at home, baseball is much more even, resulting in luck playing a much greater role in who wins. That's why Billy Beane has been demurring on his relative lack of success in the playoffs, saying that it is all chance, a crapshoot, once the playoffs start.
But with a strong rotation top to bottom, we win either way: if we go with a five man rotation in the playoffs, each pitcher will be that much more rested and primed to perform, especially after a long grinding season, and if we go with a four man rotation, the 5th pitcher joins the bullpen, and automatically improves the setup/closer situation, particularly if we go with Lincecum as that bullpen guy.
That phrase just popped in my mind, but it really is a Golden Giants Rotation. It reminds me of the Baltimore Orioles rotation from 1971, with 4 20-game winners: Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, and our late Pat Dobson, ages 25, 28, 34, and 28, respectively. Of course, we aren't there yet with our pitchers, but in a couple of years, Cain and Lincecum will be about 24-25 and ready to take on the world, health permitting.
The Grass is Rarely Greener
Next is a post I did on El Lefty Malo's great website, about some Giants' fans calls for youth, after a very nice post by Lefty about how he understands the Giants management's need to keep winning in the forefront of everything, I did all that research and it's a shame to not put it here:
I'm getting sick of hearing people cry for a full rebuild, how "fun" a rebuild is. Rebuilding is no panacea and it is never as short as a year or two.Again, I tweak by noting that those winning teams don't feature very many homegrown stars, and we have three on the cusp of becoming stars, Cain, Lincecum, and Lowry. So what if we don't get position stars, other teams don't have a trio of pitchers like Cain, Lincecum, Lowry, should they just fire their GM too? If that's the standards, then may as well fire almost everyone.
Ask the Nats/Expos (97-present), Rangers (00-present), Royals (90-present) and Pirates (93-present) how long they have been rebuilding. Ask the Reds (96-present)and Orioles (98-present), who fired the same manager (Davey Johnson) after winning the division, how long it has been to "rebuild".
People cry for a rebuild, drive all the vets out of the team, but when push comes to shove, their "BUT" comes out loud and clear: "but I'll only tolerate it for maybe a year or two."
Few teams rebuild in a year or two. Examine the teams who are going good now, whether recently or over a long period of time and you will find that most go through MANY (4+) years of losing or so-so seasons (many of them horrible sub-.450 teams, or less than 72 wins) before winning consistently again: Twins (93-00), A's (93-98), Braves (85-90), Padres (99-03), Tigers (94-05), Angels (90-01), Brewers (93-04), Astros (87-93), Phillies (87-00), Marlins (93-96, 98-02, 04-present), Mets (01-05), Yankees (89-92), ChiSox (84-89), Boston (92-94), Mariners (04-06), Cards (88-99).
Or worse, fall into a malaise of teams mainly not bad, but not good either (with maybe one or two good year, some bad years, then a return to malaise of .450-.550 ball): Cubs (1940-present), Indians (57-93; 02-06), Angels (87-01), Brewers (83-present; with bad 01-04), Dodgers (98-05), Toronto (94-present), Giants in the past (72-85; 91-96).
Rebuilds are never pretty, they typically are long and some of them are nasty, and others last for generations of fans. And I'm not talking about winning the World Series, I'm just talking about winning consistently at a high percentage, with a number of playoff appearances.
Some cry for Depodesta, but I was not impressed with what he did with LA when he was in charge. Apparently, neither was the owner, so he got the next best thing to Sabean - Colletti.
Meanwhile, people say that Sabean is the problem, but he's already stealthily rebuild the entire pitching staff over the past two plus seasons and it is pretty much done now, with tweaking for the closer we need. Any pitchers we develop after that is gravy that allows us to trade for good young position prospects.
And what's the big deal about not finding a position prospect all these years when he's rebuild the whole pitching staff. Show me how many winning team that has rebuild their team strictly from their own players, with no free agents or picking up players via draft 5 or trading to get the players you need.
Who are the homegrown stars for Detroit last year? Inge, Granderson, and Verlander. The rest are free agents or players they got in trades. Cards? Pujols basically last year, though they had a young star in Duncan. The rest were basically trades.
People say they want young, well, the whole staff is young. People complain about the bullpen, but that's what you get when you rebuild, inconsistency in results, in other words, "no veteran-like performance." You can't have it both ways.
The grass is always greener in the neighbor's yard until you get there and find that there's crab-grass and weeds there too. You need to appreciate what you got.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Note: my apologies for this being late (particularly to the content timeliness gestapo :^), but I got busy with the amateur draft and everything (like work) so I had written it up on June 2nd but never found time to move from written paper to blog. Though this is late, I wanted to post it up for reference since I've been doing them monthly. I'm skipping the prospects update, though, that boat has sailed as some commenters noted last time, whereas this is reference historical information.
This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of May, as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here. I wrote on this last season and compiled their stats on a regular basis and I'm continuing it this season (there is the "PQS" label that you can click to see the old posts on this).
This is the Quality Start with a sabermetric DIPS twist, and it gets really easy to calculate once you get used to it. I don't think it's the end all or be all, but then nothing really is that. It is, as I like to say, another piece of the puzzle. A dominating start is scored a 4 or 5 and a disaster start is scored a 0 or 1. DOM% is the percentage of starts that are dominating, DIS% is the percentage of starts that are disasters (any start under 5.0 IP is automatically a 0, or disaster).
Basically, you want to see a pitcher's DOM% to be over 40% and ideally over 50%, and you want their DIS to be under 20% and ideally under 10%. For example, Johan Santana has a 76% DOM and 3% DIS in 2006 (2.77 ERA), whereas Orlando Hernandez had a 52% DOM and 28% DIS (4.66 ERA), and Adam Eaton had a 31% DOM and 31% DIS (5.12 ERA). See my explanation down below on methodology plus read the link, there's a nice chart there showing the combination of high DOM% and low DIS%, and particularly how low DIS% is so important.
Giants Starters' PQS for 2007 Season (as of May 31, 2007)
Matt Cain - (55% DOM, 9% DIS; 6:1/11): 4, 3, 5, 3, 3, 0, 3, 5, 5, 4, 4
Tim Lincecum - (80% DOM, 20% DIS; 4:1/5): 0, 5, 5, 4, 5
Noah Lowry - (30% DOM, 10% DIS; 3:1/10): 5, 3, 4, 2, 2, 5, 3, 3, 3, 0
Matt Morris - ( 20% DOM, 10% DIS; 2:1/10): 3, 1, 4, 3, 2, 2, 3, 2, 5, 3
Russ Ortiz - ( 20% DOM, 20% DIS; 1:1/5): 2, 4, 2, 2, 0
Barry Zito - ( 27% DOM, 9% DIS; 3:1/11): 2, 3, 4, 3, 3, 3, 4, 2, 0, 3, 5
Giants season overall - 37% DOM, 12% DIS out of 52 games pitched (19:6/52)
Giants Month of April - 29% DOM, 4% DIS out of 24 games pitched (7:1/24)
Giants Month of May - 43% DOM, 18% DIS out of 28 games pitched (12:5/28)
So the Giants starters have been doing pretty well in their games pitched overall for DOM starts, particularly in May once Ortiz was replaced by Lincecum. A DOM at or above the 40% mark is indicative of good pitching; above 50% is great; above 70% is elite. A low DIS is also indicative of good pitching, just look at the table in the link above showing DOM% and DIS% on the axes.
If you had to chose a high DOM% or a low DIS%, pitchers tend to have a lower ERA when you have a low DIS% vs. a high DOM% (obviously if you combine both, you probably get an elite pitcher). That's how Lowry was able to pitch well last year, keeping his ERA low while still recovering from his strained oblique and being unable to strike out hitters as much as before, he had very few disaster starts until he had his arm problems and got bombed in September, he had a good ERA, in the high 3's until those starts.
Generally, the Giants pitched well in a PQS perspective in May but not great. And there were a number of bumps in the road, as they had 5 disaster starts in May, versus 1 in April. The DOM is about the same as last year, but more importantly, the DIS is still much lower this year. A team can survive OK and be a winning team with average offense if the starters can keep their disaster starts low.
The staff was led by Lincecum and Cain, who had 80%DOM/20%DIS and 67%DOM/17% DIS, respectively. Both had 4 DOM starts. Lincecum had 3 5 PQS starts by himself, which equaled the total of the other three starters - Lowry, Morris, and Zito - for May. Cain got his DOM% up to 55%, which is very good, with his four DOM starts. Lincecum at 80% DOM, well obviously we know today that he's had a recent bad stretch and he's down lower now.
Lowry, Morris, and Zito's stats show how much more important it is to avoid the disaster starts than it is to have DOM starts. They all have low ERA's, Lowry and Morris especially, because of the lack of disaster starts.
PQS vs. QS
I thought it would be interesting to compare PQS against QS. QS, or quality starts, is a stat that ESPN tracks in my fantasy league where I get to control the Giants team, so that makes it easy to collect:
Pitcher - PQS/QS
Cain - 6/8
Lincecum - 4/4
Lowry - 3/7
Morris - 2/8
Ortiz - 1/1
Zito - 3/7
Clearly PQS is a tougher standard and thus a higher hurdle, as many of the pitchers have qualified for many QS but have less than half in PQS. This would suggest under normal DIPS analysis that Lowry, Morris, and Zito are pitching over their heads, in terms of ERA, since their PQS is so low. However, as I've noted in other posts, I think these Giants pitchers - Lowry and Zito in particular - are exceptions to the DIPS general tenets and principles that guide the interpretation of the performances of most pitchers.
But it is still interesting, I think, to see how the Giants pitchers are doing with regards to this stat, as this will be how the outside saber world will be viewing them. Clearly, Cain and Lincecum were doing well in terms of PQS at the end of May, but the other three did poorly or just OK, with their DOM% very low. But with the low DIS%, they were able to keep their ERA low as well.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
He made his MLB debut on Monday as a defensive replacement in right field, as Winn moved to LF to replace Bonds, and recorded his first MLB putout on a Troy Glaus fly ball in the ninth inning.
Nate got his first major league start and at-bats Tuesday when Randy Winn was scratched just before the game started due to some strained ribs. He got to bat in Randy's position - 2nd - and in his first major league at-bat, he singled, moving Dave Roberts, who was on second-base, to third, setting up Roberts to score later in the inning. He can tell his grand-children that at one point in his major league career, he was batting 1.000.
In his second at-bat, he grounded out to the second-baseman, but again moved Roberts from second to third and again setting up Roberts to score later in the inning. The Giants would need both runs as they eked out another win, 3-2, behind Lowry's dominant (PQS of 4) pitching: 6.0 IP, 4 hits, 2 R/ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, winnah! The Giants have beaten Toronto twice by one run in low scoring games.
Then reality set in and he struck out looking and then struck out swinging. That has been his main bugaboo coming up the farm system, striking out too much and walking too little. However, he has been able to keep his batting average high despite all the strikeouts and lack of walks. And this year he has pushed it up, the batting average, though that must be taken with a giant grain of salt as the PCL is a notorious hitters league. But the power has always been there, either in homers or doubles, and as he ages, the hope is that some of those multitudes of doubles (he has 20 in only 222 AB, that's about 60 in a full MLB season, when it is hard for major leaguers to get above 40). Again, probably PCL inflated.
Drafting Giants Fans
Schierholtz epitomizes the strategy that I've been hoping the Giants have been implementing in their draft strategy and appear to be doing some of: drafting local talent who are Giants fans. I don't know if these other players are Giants fans but they are local kids drafted high: Foppert, Tanner, Schierholtz, Horwitz. And Culberson, the 51st pick, is at least partial to the Giants because his father was drafted by the Giants and played in their farm system for a number of seasons - the Giants were one of two teams Culberson granted a tryout session to, Atlanta being the other one.
This is a strategy that the Braves strongly follows and it could be the reason the Giants passed on Justin Heyward: he's a local to Atlanta, who eventually drafted him, and he's a high school student, so he could have let teams know that if they drafted him, they can expect to have to pay a lot to get him to skip school, but he could have told the Braves that he would sign with them for slot.
I think you get more loyalty out of the players by drafting good players who are also fans, plus they will try that much harder - not that other players don't play hard or harder, but when you are playing for the team you grew up rooting for, I think that there is some magic there in your play that elevates your play sometimes. At least it seems to have worked for Barry Bonds. :^) And hopefully they will be less likely to play hardball with you about the signing bonus, in order for the chance to play for their boyhood team.
Here are some quotes from Schierholtz, brings a tear to me eyes, it does: "It's great to run out on the same field that I used to come to as a fan. I'm really proud to be on this team." I heard on the radio Tuesday morning that Schierholtz said that he was at Candlestick's last game. And now he's playing and starting with his boyhood team. The Giants are 2-0 in the Schierholtz era, in games Schierholtz has played; hopefully he can keep this up, no pressure though... :^)
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
- Ortmeier switch hits and thus bats left. Now the problem is that he's not hitting RHP right now. So what! We have nobody in the OF reserve who can hit LHP right now, Sweeney, Klesko are both lefties too. Unless they plan on playing Frandsen there a lot
- When would Schierholtz play? Main free playing time is being Roberts platoon buddy. Only time he will see regular play is when Bonds don't play.
So what's up with that?
But still, good to see Schierholtz up, nice to see what he can do.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Q: Tell us about your two high school pitchers.
Tidrow: Bumgarner is a big strong, power lefty. Good breaking pitch, excellent command, he's going to be a fast mover, he's on the fast track. Has a power curve. Fairley is a 5 tool prospect, power, speed, CF. Noonan is a fast lefty, see him at 2B. Williams is an excellent defensive catcher, he's going to be a big league starter. Culberson we see as a 3B/2B combo, he has a good bat. Chase Corrigan, college pitcher, good curve, FB command, very athletic, lots of innings thrown.
Q: (Sound problems with previous response prompts Tidrow to talk about Alderson; remember this is not verbatim stuff, just my scratch notes off a lousy recording plus my memory on some stuff)
Tidrow: Alderson has a clean arm, throws harder, stronger, has good command, he's going to be a starter, not a reliever.
Q: Other pick's skills that come to mind?
Tidrow: (Noise cuts off name of prospect) has an excellent swing, good speed, will play middle infield, SS or 2B (Noonan? Does not sound like Culberson). Williams great skills at catcher, best in draft for defense.
Q: Why #10?
Sabean: Size, strength, development, track record, athletic development.
Q: Lots of high school players, will this take patience?
Sabean: Giants got talent across the board, diverse group, got the guys we wanted at each pick.
Q: Did you plan to pick so many high schoolers?
Sabean: With so many high school talents, we had to be ready and prepared to pick them.
Q: Fairley's tools?
Sabean: Speed, power, raw power, really can run, throw, 5 tools now, the Giants need to develop them.
Q: When will they play?
Sabean: Will play once signed, either Salem-Keizer or Arizona. If possible, want to send them to Salem.
Q: So the Giants got who they wanted at #10?
Tidrow: Giants targeted him and another pitcher. He's a lefty, big, strong, power, and can locate his pitches. In 1-2 years, he'll be ready for the MLB.
Q: Any concerns about Alderson's stretch delivery?
Tidrow: No concern.
Q: Talk about your pitching motion.
Alderson: I can repeat the motion and have a good feel for it. I am comfortable with it, it is natural and easy to do. I just want to keep things simple. I compare myself with Francisco Rodriguez.
Q: question on baseball draft.
Sabean/Tidrow (don't remember): to develop a player it takes 1200-1500 ABs, 500-1000 IP
Q: Bumgarner's secondary pitches?
S/T: Sweeping curve, cutter, bread and butter is his fastball away though.
Q: Comparable to Cain, another high school pick?
S/T: First year, we just make sure the pitcher is healthy. Both Bumgarner and Alderson are on the fast track to the majors. They have size, ability, and command.
Q: Was Boras a factor?
Sabean: We select talent first, signability and agent concerns second.
Q: Two sport player, is baseball new to you?
Fairley: Baseball is my main sport, the one I'm best at.
Q: Some have compared you to Carl Crawford, what do you think of that?
Fairley: I'm just coming out of high school (poor sound cuts some of the response)
Q: What skills do you need to work on?
Fairley: Sir, I play the field good, run; maybe hit for power is what I need to work on. There's always room for improvement, sir. Did some pitching too.
Q: Do you know if you will sign or consider college?
Fairley: "I'm a Giant now"
Q: Do you know if you will sign or consider college? Do Giants play in your high school stadium during spring training?
Alderson: I will talk with my family, friends and advisors and see how it goes. Yes, in high school I played in the Giants spring training facility. It is just exciting, just absorbing everything, the experience.
I was going to write a post on each of the top 6 picks but I think I'll just wrap up by putting my thoughts here. Here is also some thoughts on them by the website, The Baseball Analyst, scroll down to the appropriate draft number. The comments there are very similar to what I've compiled below.
Pick #32: Nick Noonan
I've seen talk that he's like Chase Utley with less power, more likely 10-15 HR. Why they get people's hopes up by invoking Chase Utley when he seems more like a Marcus Giles - who, by the way, would be a perfectly good 2B to have to, just not elite like Utley - I don't know. Anyway, that's double digit teen homerun power to go with good base-stealing, probably on order of double digit teen stolen bases, I would take that at 2B if Noonan can deliver it.
Oh, found the reference, it was Baseball America who invoked Utley, Noonan's profile was posted on MCC, highlights: one of the most polished bats in the draft, he emerged as San Diego's top prep prospect, evoking comparisons to Chase Utley. Won't hit for same power, but he's also above-average lefthanded bat who profiles best at 2B. Plenty of baseball savvy, particularly at plate, making consistent hard contact. He struggled at first with wood but adjusted. Good basestealer, solid defender, one of steadiest players in this draft.
From MLB.com, his scouting profile says pretty much the same. His bat will definitely play at the next level, so he could be intriguing table-setter. Has ability to hit for average, profiles leadoff or #2 with excellent bat control and good idea at the plate. Not much power now, could develop 10-15 HR. Average speed, but smart baserunner, able to steal bases. Arm probably puts him at 2B, he would be solid defensively at 2B or SS except for arm. He has excellent instincts, he is an athletic, top of the order MI. Makes consistent contact and has excellent plate discipline.
I like the pick overall, have no opinion on whether they should have waited or not.
Pick #43, Jackson Williams
A lot of people don't like him being drafted here, thinks he was selected in order to save money. I don't agree, he seems to be a nice pick, not that I'm an expert on when a player should be picked. But he seems to be a nice package.
Williams is only a junior, just turned 21, and he was the starting catcher for three years for Oklahoma, which is in the Big 12. According to Boyd's World, a site that follows college baseball closely, the Big 12 was the highest rated conference in terms of strength as of June 8, 2007: http://www.boydsworld.com/baseball/isr/confisr.html. So he is doing this in the toughest conference for college baseball.
He is known as a defensive catcher - I've seen someone describe him as the best defensive catcher in the draft - but he started driving in runs this season as well, hitting .344 with 44 RBIs in 50 games (25 RBIs in last 20 games). I think it speaks to how good he is that he is in one of the top conferences, became the starter immediately, and now is one of the better hitters in a tough conference. And his offense improved each year, showing that he's capable of adjusting and improving:
2005: .263/.353/.419/.772; ISO 156
2006: .292/.390/.411/.801; ISO 129
2007: .344/.426/.525/.951; ISO 181
He had the team's third highest batting average and RBI total, and had 4 HR, 18 BB, and 33 SO in 183 AB. And he saved his best for Big 12 opponents, 27 RBI in in Big 12 games. He posted a .985 fielding percentage. He was named all-Big 12 Second Team by league's coaches and named first team All-Big by two local newspapers. The Baseball Analysts also noted that he is "an intense competitor and student of the game, Williams was the captain of the Sooners baseball team. He projects as a solid but 'low ceiling'" backstop."
I like the pick overall, and had they waited to the 5th round to select him, he probably wouldn't have been around. Sounds like a great defensive catcher, even better than Wieters, who I was hoping would fall to us at #5 this year. But the description above by the Baseball Analyst matches what commenters have been saying about him being a MLB backup at best. I like the fact that he was facing some of the toughest teams and pitchers in the NCAA and was able to adjust and learn to hit better against them. That gives me hope that he can do the same once in the pro ranks.
Pick #51, Charlie Culberson
A lot of people have a problem with Culberson because they think the Giants drafted him in order to save money, as he was not expected to go so high in the draft.
I read on MCC the day of the draft that he only gave the Giants and Braves a tryout, the former because the Giants drafted his dad, the later because he lives in the area, and he hit 6 HRs with a wooden bat in a workout for the Giants. Admittedly, probably BP HRs but the Giants got to see him up close and in different situations that apparently impressed them greatly. He was quoted as saying, it would be "really cool to keep the family tradition going with the Giants."
Now perhaps he was selected too "early" relative to where he should do (I've seen rounds 3 and 4), but would you rather be cheap and be "right" in principle by selecting someone else and watch him be taken by someone else or go with your eyewitness tryout experience? If Sabean really thought he was a better prospect, he should pick him now or forever hold his piece.
Stats for him: 123 AB in high school at shortstop, he hit .512 with .611 OPB, 16 HR, 13 doubles, 52 RBI, 59 runs scored. Not too shabby, but I thought Royce Clayton might be a homerun hitter too at SS because of all the homers he hit in high school too. He got a lot of exposure because his teammate, Josh Smoker, was heavily scouted.
BA (MCC post again) labeled him a "game in the mold of Marcus Giles." Said he's a baseball rat who is related to George Sisler and has a lot of intangibles. As I noted above myself, BA said that despite his power in high school, he doesn't project to hit for power in the majors.
I'm OK with the pick. They had him in for that tryout and he apparently impressed them. At that point of the draft, the odds of finding anybody good is pretty slim anyhow. People think they know better but really, if the major league GMs have a hard time finding the MLB player after the 20th pick, why do they think they know better when they don't have all the inside information that the GM have on the players.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Now class, what's the significance of the 29th pick that has lived in infamy for a number of Giants fans? Bueller? Bueller?
Michael Tucker Experience
Yes, it was the Michael Tucker signing that the Giants flipped their draft pick, the 29th of the 2004 draft, in order to sign Tucker. People bemoan the loss of that draft pick, but this shows how you cannot judge transactions immediately in all cases. In this case, they lost the draft pick, but then they got a player back to replace that draft pick.
Today, we have Kelvin Pichardo, who we got in trade for Tucker. He is with San Jose this year, doing pretty well as a 21 year old: 25.0 IP, 23 H, 1 HR, 10 BB, 39 K. Batting against him, .242/.306/.337/.642, BABIP .400 (so he should do better, he's suffering from bad luck), WHIP 1.32, 3.6 BB/9, 14.0 K/9, 3.9 K/BB, 0.36 HR/9, 5% HR/FB. And that is in a hitters league.
Meanwhile, the Royals drafted Matthew Campbell, who is already out of baseball. Over the next 10 picks, the only players to have made the majors are J.P. Howell and Zach Jackson, neither of whom have done well.
Eric Hurley, the next pick after Campbell, was doing OK (i.e. not well enough for majors) until something clicked in 2006 at age 20 in AA, and he boosted his status greatly, he was #2 on Rangers top 30 list by Baseball America. Howell is struggling in the Tampa Bay farm system, not even on the top 30 list. Jackson is #16 Brewers (traded by Toronto) but hasn't done well at all in upper levels. Next was Justin Orenduff, he is #14 on Dodgers, but coming off injuries, and his ceiling is back-of-the-rotation starter at best.
Tyler Lumsden, 34th pick, was traded to Royals in 2006, after missing all of 2005, he's #5 on Royals. Matthew Fox is not on anyone's BA Top 30 list. Danny Putnam is #16 on A's, he struggled in AA last season and got send back down to A-ball. Jonathan Poterson, Yankee's pick at 37, is not on their Top 30 list.
Giovany Gonzalez is probably the best of the 10 picks after the 29th pick, he has already been traded by the ChiSox to Phillies and then ChiSox got him back in another trade. He's #3 on ChiSox. Lastly, Jay Rainville is #16 on Twins prospect list.
Now unless a player is somewhere in top 2 to 4 of a team's top prospect list, I've found that they don't normally amount to much, there is not that much talent below that, except for relievers. So among the picks examined above, while Pichardo does not rank at all in the Giants prospect list, at least they got a player who is doing well in the minors and he's still very young, only 21 years old this year. Of the players drafted after our pick, Hurley and Gonzalez looks like they will make something of themselves, but the rest are not really that much better than Pichardo and a couple are already out of baseball.
It just goes to show that even in that "low" a pick, the odds of finding a good player is very low, it is 3 years later and no one has made the majors to stay among this group, no one has even done well at AAA before this season, let alone made the majors to stay. Hurley looks like he is finally figuring out something, but now he has to prove it wasn't a fluke by doing well this season in AAA. Only Gonzalez seems like a prospect who will make something of himself.
There is not a lot of information out on him, even MLB.com was not prepared with a scouting report on him. His BA information was provided on MCC and since it was probably not legal, I won't copy it here, but since the cat is out of the bag, I'll give some highlights:
- his "tools are unquestioned";
- he can hit for average and plus power;
- his quick lefty stroke allows him to pull the ball out of the park;
- plus runner;
- solid-average arm/defense, perfect for CF;
- just scratching surface of potential, could develop into mold of Carl Crawford;
- also noted his problem with law (dropped) and that he is a 19 year old father;
- mystery to scouts because he also played football and didn't play in any showcases.
Sounds pretty good, eh?
I also recall that in the ESPN show on the draft, Keith Law or another analyst noted that Fairley has top 10-15 talent, but fell to the end of the 1st round because of other issues.
I'm a Giant NowThere was also a link to a conference call (horrible, by the way, did my best to transcribe but notes are sloppy) on either MLB.com or sfgiants.com, and I will summarize in another post but will put Fairley's info here first.
- Tidrow noted that Fairley has "5 tool, power, speed, CF".
- Sabean noted that Fairley has speed, raw power, really can run, throw, has 5 tools now but need to develop them now. In his Thursday KNBR show, Sabean noted that he likes Fairley's bat, he has a high ceiling, and just needs to grow into his tools. Unlike Bumgarner or Alderson, both of whom Sabean (and Tidrow) has said could move fast and make the majors in as little as two years, there has been no timetable on how long Fairley will take.
- Fairley was interviewed: while he played two sports, baseball was his main sport, his best sport. I found him to be fairly humble and polite, called one reporter, "sir" and replied "no sir" to another. Someone asked him about the comparison to Carl Crawford and (again very fuzzy with lots of background noise, like I noted, OK for first try at making into event, but execution was poor) he demurred, noting that he just came out of high school. When someone asked him what skill he needs to work on, he noted that hitting for power is one area but then quickly noted that there is always room for improvement.
- Thought I would end on a good note: when asked if he would sign or need time to decide, he had a great answer: "I'm a Giant now." Get that kid a Giants uniform now!
Overall, he sounds like a great pick. I don't know how bad that hazing incident that got him in trouble with the law was, but he sounded like a nice humble guy who realizes that he has a lot to learn but is willing to work hard to learn it. I'll chalk that problem up to youthful indiscretion, when you don't know any better when you are a teenager (or know better but do it anyway). I really liked the way he talked in the interview, no red flags were raised, he sounded like a nice guy looking to start his professional career, knows he has a lot to do, but willing to do what it takes. Perhaps being a father already gave him that motivation.
He sounds like the best position prospect that we have had in ages (well, at least before Villalona; won't they make a nice pair of call-ups in 4-6 years, or less?) and he helps makes up for the fact that we passed up a few premier position talents in Dominguez, Heyward, and Mills, particularly Heyward since I've seen a number of descriptions of him being remniscent of Willie McCovey. He's noted as a Top 10-15 pick by talent so he's equivalent enough to them to satisfy me - and I do like Bumgarner and Alderson and the fact that Sabean and Tidrow both noted that they are on the fast track and could advance to the majors in as short as 2 years, so despite them not being college players, they could provide return to the Giants in perhaps even a shorter timeframe, few prospects make the majors in 6 years, let alone 2 years. And there's no way the Giants would have gotten anyone as good as Bumgarner in the 29th pick had they selected any of those three hitters.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Besides which, he never has to worry about losing his control. It's amazing, as his scouting report on MLB.com notes, "Alderson has plus, plus command. He issued his first walk of the season in this start while striking out 13. Dating back to last year, he's walked 9 and struck out 173." Now THAT'S control.
It also notes that his fastball normally is in the 89-93 MPH range, which is slightly above average and his curve has a chance to be a plus pitch in the future. In addition, his changeup is decent even though he didn't need to use it much in high school. And despite his height, 6'7", he is athletic and coordinated on the mound. They think that he has a chance to be a three-pitch, strike-throwing machine with a lot of deception in his delivery.
The fear with him, much like Lincecum last year, is that his unique delivery and unorthodox arm action will result in physical problems. Thus many scouts think that he would be better suited as a reliever, again, much like Lincecum. Ironic, eh, since Lincecum is so short relatively and Alderson is so tall. If they do end up together in the rotation, Alderson can be "Tiny Tim" and Lincecum can be "Big Tim". :^)
Giants Thoughts on Alderson
I like the pick. He would have been drafted much earlier based on talent if it wasn't for his unusual delivery. Of course, he probably ices his arm, unlike Lincecum, so the fear about his delivery is probably valid. However, I would think the Giants are going to work with him to reduce the probability of injury with his delivery.
I'm assuming the Giants don't want to use him as a reliever - though with up to 3 good pitches and pinpoint command, he could be a devastating reliever a la Eckersley - and keep him as a starter so that he can work on perfecting his two other pitches as they probably fast track him up the system. However, with so many good starters in the rotation, already and potentially, he could be switched to closing, much like Papelbon was, at least initially in his career, before they move him back into the rotation should they trade someone in the future. Or they could trade him to get a good position player in the future as well.
Focus On Pitching Good Strategy For Today's Baseball
As noted in the other post, this is the strategy I foresaw long ago regarding Sabean's focus on pitching: eventually, assuming you are good at what you do, you end up with a great pitching staff and logjams of talent will start to occur, creating surplus that can be traded off for position players. This is particularly valuable strategy over the past two years as mediocre middle of rotation starters, like Meche, Lilly, and Padilla, get $10-11M annual salaries. By cranking out pitchers like this, all at cheap cost and 6 year control, that is a great value to any team you trade with, and should net us valuable hitters straight up.
A pitcher like that - Hennessey, I've thought, could be a good middle of rotation starter, Sanchez is at least that, perhaps better - could save the team we trade him to, $8-9M per year on their pitching staff, so they would be more willing to trade off surplus hitting to us - like a Rangers, Angels, Tampa Bay, who cranks out hitters but not pitchers - and, frankly, I think they might give us extra too, like another low level prospect, it don't matter if you have a team of young hitters if your middle rotation starters are giving up 5 runs per game. In addition, we allow them to save money on their rotation which they can tend turn around and afford to pay a free agent or their own free agent-to-be's.
Classic Ricardian Economics
And this is classic comparative advantage economics, where you focus on what you do best and trade with someone who focus on what they do best, and we all benefit. So while I was bummed, and still is, about not getting a good hitter with the first two picks, unfortunately the better ones were taken early, so I'm glad that they decided to focus on good pitchers because there is a lot of benefits from that as well.
And as I noted, who is to say that Bumgarner and Alderson are not the ones who become good players and Dominguez, Mills, and Heyward never pan out? Lots of commentators scream that these three are better, but what do they know? Each of the three have problem areas that could derail their MLB dreams, they may never adjust and learn to overcome their problems, only Wieters, among the hitters, appear to be a sure thing, probably why the Orioles selected him.
There are no guarantees even for the 10th or 22nd pick of the draft. In all likelihood, as my study found, the vast majority of those picks (10-30) never amount to anything in baseball, couple are useful, and the rare ones turn out to be good players. We are extremely lucky (or good) to have three in such a short period in Lowry, Cain, and Lincecum. This draft will probably make or break Sabean and Company's reputation for developing young pitchers, assuming Magowan gives Sabean an extension after the season.
The Return of Sabean?
In recent comments, Magowan, while not outright saying Sabean will return and reiterating that the decision will be made after the season, praised Sabean for the draft, saying he "did a hell of a job with the draft yesterday. I think he's a well-respected general manager. What more can I say?" I think that means that barring a total collapse of the team, Sabean will get at least a one year contract and probably will get more years if the Giants can get it into gear and be competitive for the division title in the second half of the season.
Disappointing But Good Draft Overall
I was very disappointed, though a large part of it was due to the damn Baltimore Orioles selecting Matt Wieters with the 5th pick when most mock drafts had Wieters falling to the Giants. In fact, Mike LaPorta was also selected before our first pick, when he was expected to fall to either our #22 or #29 picks, and I was hoping to the Giants would select him #22, which left Brad Mills as the sole premier college hitter available for us to select. There was also Mike Dominguez and Justin Heyward available too, but the Giants went lefty on us and selected Madison Bumgarner, LHP, high schooler.
#10 Pick: Madison Bumgarner
When Madison Baumgarner was selected, I didn't know who he was but I recognized his name but wasn't sure why. Later I realized that DrB, who frequents MCC, had wrote that he would fall down the stairs if the Giants selected him. I then remembered that one of the mock drafts had the Giants selecting him, so I should have included him among the list of pitchers who we might select, but since DrB was so vehement against him, I left him off, my bad.
Sidenote: Soapbox Comment
But first, a soapbox. I don't really know prospects like other commenters on the Internet - I can just compile data and information from a variety of sources and give my thoughts based on that - and they seem to know their stuff about mechanics, arm slots, etc, but I'm offended by the bloggers calling Sabean every word under the sun under the guise of advice and opinion. It is one thing to disagree but a whole other thing to call him names, like "moron," I find it all very childish and unprofessional.
These people are worse than regular journalists, in that they not only think that they are smarter and better than the person they are opining on, but then they lower themselves into the gutter by calling Sabean names. Sure, if you think he should be fired, great, share your opinion and logical reasons, but to call someone a "moron"? It really does not put you in a good light, nor reflect well on you.
If they were really that good at something that even professionals find hard to do (my study showed that even baseball professionals only find good players about 10% of the time in the end of the first round), they would have been snapped up long ago, because they would be golden. Even if they could up the percentage just 10% to 20%, that cuts development costs down significantly for any MLB team. And Sabean has brought us Cain, Lincecum, and Lowry, I think we should acknowledge that his organization's pitching knowledge has been superior in getting us these guys and give him the benefit of the doubt.
And I'm sure if any of them are reading this, they are probably thinking, "moron."
That said, I was disapppointed by the selection of Madison Bumgarner. Not to the point of wanting to throw myself down the stairs, as DrB on MCC said he would if the Giants selected him, but I had been hoping to get some offensive help from the #10 pick. I was really hoping that Wieters would fall to us, but I guess that was wishful thinking. But there was a bunch of top offensive help available at #10, Beau Mills, Jason Heyward, Matt Dominguez, who were consensus top picks where you couldn't go wrong - in the post analysis - selecting one of them.
And I guess that is where Sabean and gang diverges, because they never go by consesus thinking. From what I read on some of the boards, the Giants had Mills in just the other day for a tryout session, so whatever they were looking for from him, they did not find it that day in the tryout. And that's the hard thing to remember as a fan, that the Giants have seen all of these players, perhaps up close like Mills, and brings that knowledge to the table when selecting.
And it wasn't like Bumgarner isn't a highly regarded prospect, he is, but, again, our farm system needs position prospects - and the Giants actually ended up with 4 position draft picks vs. 2 pitching - and the #10 pick gave us, I felt, our greatest chance to get someone who will eventually help us out positionally.
But it is all a crapshoot anyway, as I wrote long ago about the draft when publishing my study results, even at #10, the odds of finding a good player is only about 20-25% anyway, so who am I to say that Bumgarner is not that 1 out of 4 or 5 prospects who make it? I am only disappointed that there was not a position prospect selected, but will trust that Sabean took who he thought was the best talent (who is signable).
Thoughts on Bumgarner
I would like to see or hear an interview with him on his thoughts about his pitching repertoire. Most commenters talked about him having only one pitch, but the MLB scouting profile clearly states that not only does he has a decent fastball - 89-95 MPH - but that he has a good changeup: "He doesn't throw it much because he doesn't need to, but he's shown a pretty good feel and command of the change at times, throwing it in the 79-82 MPH range." That's a good 10 MPH separation there and Noah Lowry has done pretty well as a pitcher just having those main two pitches.
In addition, Bumgarner doesn't have a curve or slider not because he could not master them, but because he just started pitching them just one year ago, because his father wouldn't allow him to. Well, now he will get professional training on the proper way to throw them, plus he can speak with Zito, Cain, and Lincecum about it because they all have a great curve ball, and probably with Lowry and Misch about their changeups. And he's only 17 (18 in August), so he still has some physical maturation coming, which should add a few MPH to his already good fastball plus with professional coaching, he should be able to master the curve and/or slider with a few years under his belt.
Brian Sabean, in a post-pick interview somewhere, said that he thinks that Bumgarner is going to be on the fast track to the majors, taking only a couple of years maybe, meaning that he'll be like Cain, coming up at around age 20. He has size, strength, and athletic ability, with a developed delivery. They also like his competitiveness and composure, then Sabean played his "maturity" card that he likes to throw out about his top prospects. That comment is a bit empty because he used it all the time when talking about Jerome Williams, but in the post-mortem, he was not that mature after all, eatting his way off the Giants and being too stubborn to change things when the Giants tried to help him get better.
Overall, if it wasn't that I was hoping for a position player, I think I would have been very satisfied with Bumgarner was our #10 pick. He sounds like he can be a very good pitcher, despite the talk of being a one pitch pony (since he is a lefty, it brought on comparisons to Jonathan Sanchez, another one pitch fast-baller), it sounds like he already has a good changeup plus he only started a year ago throwing other than fastballs, so he should get better with experience and training. As noted in the scouting report, lefties from high school who has plus velocity don't come around very often. It also noted that "Bumgarner certainly looks the part, with the body type and fastball of a professional pitcher."
But given my disappointment over not getting a position prospect, I will hold Sabean to his word that Madison is on the fast track, and could come up in two years, although I would settle for 3-4 years. Unlike others, I'm not calling for Sabean's head, but I'm not blindly rah-rah either, there have been serious questions about his GM abilities, particularly in regards to the farm system, and while the addition of Lowry, Cain, and now Lincecum has quelled a lot of that for me, the job is still not finished.
For me, I'm willing to give Sabean two more seasons after this (to 2009) to further show that he is deserving of the chance to oversee the Giants into the 2010's. I am inclined to give it to him, but his stumbles with free agents and trades since the World Series has put doubt in the minds of fans including me. However, I'm hoping he will once again - once the farm system is brimming with pitching - be the GM who got us players like Kent, Snow, Burks, and Schmidt via trades of promising pitchers.
Sabean's New Era
This a dawning of a new era for Sabean. In the beginning, his first era, he really didn't have any good prospects, but because every organization has to have a Top 10, he could trade off guys like Grilli and Vogelsong and get good players in return. Then he started getting good players in the draft, starting with Ainsworth and Williams, then Foppert and Cain, and that started his second era. He could no longer trade away his top prospects because they were actually good - for a while at least in some cases - and this limited the trades he could do because teams would insist on his best prospects.
Now his third era begins, when you take the cream off the top and trade off the rest for good stuff. If Bumgarner and Alderson are as good as Sabean says that they are - capable of making the majors in two years - soon our rotation will be full. Zito, Cain, Lowry, and Lincecum will take four spots, potentially, then there will be Sanchez, Bumgarner, and Alderson. That will give us two starting pitchers to trade away, maybe three, as most teams don't need a great #5 starter. That should get us one to three good position prospects in return. And that is not counting any other pitching prospects coming out of the woodwork and surprising the team by rising quickly, like maybe Adam Cowart, he doesn't impress scouts, but like Al Davis's motto, "he just wins, baby!"
This is what I was writing about years ago about Sabean and his predilection for pitching, once you get a solid core set of pitchers, then you can go about and start trading off the spillover for the position players you need. While I was disappointed with not getting a position player at #10, I am excited over the trade possibilities for Sabean going forward when they start to percolate up to the majors. He clearly understands baseball skills, otherwise he would never have gotten Kent for Williams, Burks for Hamilton, Snow for Watson (or was it another pitcher?). Or even David Bell for that utility infielder. He's also the guy who was head of player personnel for the Yankees when they signed and developed Jeter, Posada, Mariano, and Bernie Williams, plus they also drafted JT Snow while he was there.
Unfortunately injuries to many of his high price signings - Nen, Alfonzo, Durham, Benitez, Alou, Matheny, Roberts - have sullied his reputation and now he's fighting for his professional career here in SF and for the legacy of his tenure here. Given his successes with Lincecum, Cain, Lowry, I think he is deserving of a couple more years to further fulfill his vision for the team, for the organization. I hope Magowan gives him that chance when the season is over.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
First, a lot of analysts think the company line: Giants are cheap, draft-pick adverse, and have a man-crush on Lewis-Clark State baseball players. While that last one appears to be true, I think I have shown in my posts before that the Giants have generally not been cheap (except for 2003) and that they were not being draft-pick adverse, but rather made a choice on where to better spend their money that year. In addition, Sabean said last year and this year that signability and money will not factor into their selection, they will pick the best player available for them to pick. They will not skip over players as some mock drafts had them do, they will pick the best player available and pay them appropriately, though after long drawn negotiations.
The analysts also think the Giants are pitching crazy, and some had them selecting pitchers with all three first round picks. While that has been true and probably will be true going forward, a few of them are way off when they think the Giants will waste the #10 pick on Casey Weathers, a reliever. I think the Giants have shown, with their handling of Tim Lincecum, they know that starting pitchers are worth way more than a reliever, and that they are not going to spend $2M (going rate for #10 draft picks) on a reliever.
My Thoughts on the Draft
As I noted, I have seen a number of mock drafts and while I don't agree with what a lot of them selected for the Giants, what they say makes sense for the other teams picking ahead of the Giants. Plus, there is a uniformity across the various guesses that I think I can say some things about the Giants draft, like I did last year.
Position players I would keep an eye out for are Matt Wieters, Jason Heyward, Beau Mills, Matt Dominguez, Matt LaPorta, Kevin Ahrens, and Michael Burgess.
- Matt Wieters: A Boras client looking for Teixiera money ($9M plus major league contract), I've seen a number of mock drafts having him fall out of the first round. No way that's going to happen, if he is there at #10, I believe the Giants will pick him. Switch hitting college catcher, very good defense despite his size, with power, plus apparently he's a good closer too. Most assessments I've read about him is that he's the best college bat plus is among the top 5 in the whole draft, and that is why some mock drafts have him being picked around the 3-5 picks. He's like the Lincecum of this draft for us, unbelievable good performance in college, and yet teams passed on him, allowing the Giants to get him (Lincecum). Believe it, to steal a line from a cartoon my son watches, Naruto. :^)
- Jason Heyward: A high school, toolsy, power-hitting corner OF, probably RF, I've seen him described as a young McCovey (DrB for those who know him from MCC), he's one of the top high school hitters. I've seen him go anywhere from 7-15 in mock drafts so he could be available at the Giants #10 pick but should be gone by #22. Could be picked if Wieters not available.
- Beau Mills: Homerun hitting wonder from Lewis-Clark State, hence why a number of drafts have the Giants picking him. I can see the Giants picking him with the #22 or #29 pick (probably won't last much further though), but he can only really play 1B, maybe at that, seems like another EME type, so I don't think the Giants will pick him at #10.
- Matt Dominguez: Good hitting high school 3B who can play good to great defense there. He should be available at the #10 spot, but it would be a stretch for him to make it to #22. I think he could be picked #10 if Wieters and Heyward are not available.
- Matt LaPorta: Another Boras client, most drafts I've seen had him falling out of the first round, but he's probably up there with Wieters and Mills in terms of hitting and hitting for power. However, he really wants a lot of money so he's falling, probably out of the first round according to some. He's also a defensive liability who can only play 1B if he makes the majors, like Mills. I can see the Giants picking him with the #22 or #29 pick as well as Mills, but not both. It really depends on whether Mills get picked by someone else or not.
- Julio Borbon: I saw one draft pick him for the Giants. CF leadoff type with a little power but plus speed, he's one of the top college OF in the draft. He has the speed that Sabean has been liking for a while now (Sanders, Burriss, Richardson, etc.). It seems like we have a lot of this type already in our system, like Copeland, Sanders. I don't think the Giants would pick him but he's probably available at the Giants #29 pick
- Kevin Ahrens: I saw one draft pick him for the Giants. Switch-hitting high school SS with power (though 3B is probably his future, he seems to profile there according to analysts), he's one of the better high school bats available in the draft from what I gather from the comments. He should be available for either the #22 or #29 picks, maybe even our #32 pick.
- Matt Burgess: OF that caught my eye in one of the mock drafts, has a lot of power. He is probably available at picks #22 and #29, if others above are not available.
- Andrew Brackman: He's tall and has command problems. Some seem very high on him, but to me he's too chancy to pick at #10, though some think he'll be picked that high or better. And he definitely won't last to #22.
- Jarrod Parker: Apparently has drawn comparisons to Tim Lincecum. If he can last to #22, the Giants could pick him there, but #10 is too high to pick him.
- Josh Smoker: A strikeout artist, he seems to be slotted after the Giants #10 pick and before their #22. They could take him at #22 or #29 but he could be gone too.
- Casey Weathers: A closer that one analyst says the Giants are very interested in. But he won't be picked with the first pick of the round. And it doesn't seem like he will last to #22.
- Aaron Poreda: A USF student, like Foppert, the lefty starter can throw hard. He will probably fall down to the supplemental picks range, so the Giants could probably pick him anytime at or after the #29 pick
So now, what does this mean for the Giants six picks in the first 51 overall picks: 10, 22, 29, 31, 43, 51? From my study, with odds based on data collected:
- for the 10th pick: the odds of picking a good player is 22%. To get an idea of the amount of talent available, and to smooth out the data, for picks 5 to 15, the odds of picking a good player is 14% (19% for useful player).
- for the 22nd pick: the odds of picking a good player is 10%. To get an idea of the amount of talent available, and to smooth out the data, for picks 17 to 27, the odds of picking a good player is 8% (20% for useful player).
- for the 29th pick: the odds of picking a good player is 6%. To get an idea of the amount of talent available, and to smooth out the data, for picks 25 to 34, the odds of picking a good player is 9% (17% for useful player).
- for the 32nd pick: the odds of picking a good player is 0%; teams were unlucky before. To get an idea of the amount of talent available, and to smooth out the data, for picks 28 to 37, the odds of picking a good player is 4% (14% for useful player).
- for the 43rd pick: the odds of picking a good player is 6%. To get an idea of the amount of talent available, and to smooth out the data, for picks 39 to 48, the odds of picking a good player is 3% (14% for useful player).
- for the 51st pick: the odds of picking a good player is 0%. To get an idea of the amount of talent available, and to smooth out the data, for picks 17 to 27, the odds of picking a good player is 4% (14% for useful player).
As one can see, the odds are against picking anyone good, even with the first pick, the 10th overall. Hopefully they can beat the odds again like last year with Lincecum. Particularly if we can pick up some position prospects with those picks.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
This was brought up at MLB Trade Rumors, and I am posting the comment I put there here:
I didn't understand why Dye was mentioned in the Chron article on the Giants. Bonds isn't going anywhere, Roberts just signed as a free agent, and Winn has a no-trade contract, so he won't play in the OF for the Giants.And I'm not saying the Giants are looking to trade them or that I would want to trade them, these are all just possibilities, assuming you make the leap that the Giants are interested in getting someone on the ChiSox.
The only place he could conceivably play is 1B, where he has played only once in his career. And as nice as Dye is as a hitter, Klesko has a much better OPS than Dye right now, despite Dye hitting 10 homers already. Plus Klesko has been on a tear since the start of May, his OPS since then is around 950, about 200 points better than Dye. Plus Dye's stats are inflated by playing at his hitter friendly home.
Seems like Dye was only mentioned because he's a free agent. This is like the joke of looking for the quarter under the street light when you lost it over there in the dark.
Now, I can see the Giants talking to the ChiSox about SS. Williams wanted to sign Vizquel but the Giants beat him to him. The Giants appear to not be ready to re-sign Omar, who will be a free agent after the season.
The Giants could swap Vizquel for Uribe and get younger in the process. Both have been struggling, so it could be an even swap or maybe the ChiSox could throw in a reliever, they just sent down Aardsma, a former Giants prospect, since Vizquel is probably still a superior defensive SS over Uribe and thus a bit more valuable. Plus is still a better hitter even though he's over 40 now and Uribe is under 30.
The Giants could also use relievers or an upgrade at 3B, perhaps pick up Crede and Josh Fields is promoted by ChiSox to be starting 3B. Not sure who the Giants would give up in that scenario, the ChiSox wouldn't want Feliz in return, so it could mean trading away Sanchez or other prospects. However, I would rather trade Sanchez for Fields instead.
Best trading chips, since Sabean said the starting rotation is not available (i.e. Lowry and Morris is not going anywhere), is Sanchez plus maybe Lewis since he is doing so well in majors thus far. I saw Nick Pereirra's name mentioned as a top prospect by one analyst, so he could be in the mix as well.
Should also have noted that Dye was born in Vacaville, CA so he does have local roots, and so might be interested in staying long-term, if that is the Giants idea. Our new OF in 2008: Roberts, Winn, Dye? Plus he brings a balanced bat to the lineup, as well as his power, and he brings right-handed pop that we don't really have, Feliz and Durham is the best we got. And he has hit well in AT&T Mays Field, except for no homers in just 25 ABs here, though .983 OPS.
The main problem is just: where does he play? I suppose he could play 1B, but then Klesko and Aurilia are displaced. Aurilia could become the MI reserve, which would shove Frandsen to AAA. Or he could take 3B, which would displace Feliz into his uber-utility role again; I suppose he could start playing RF again with Winn playing CF when Roberts sits against LHP. Although if Vizquel is part of the trade, then that frees SS for Aurilia unless we get Uribe in return as I suggested above (but I like this better, getting Dye to play 1B and trading Vizquel to start Aurilia at SS). Klesko, in any case, would then become Bonds LF replacement plus tough righthanders for Dye at 1B, and get a lot less ABs than he was hoping and thinking, given that he's healthy now.
More of concern, though, is Dye has not been a healthy player since he turned 28, he has missed at least 16 games per season over the past 5 seasons, nearly 100 in 2003. And he is 33 now and health can only get worse. But he has had great pop in Chicago the past 2 and a part seasons so he would be a great upgrade offensively, the only question is where to put him, there is no spot in the outfield, so 1B is the best place, and he has never played there regularly.
I have to believe the Giants are looking at other players other than Dye in their scouting.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Bochy added that he might resort to a closer-by-committee system if he feels strongly that another reliever matches up favorably against an opposing lineup or if Hennessey needs rest.So Hennessey's the closer, except when he's not the closer. Sounds fair enough, basically he gets first dibs to close whenever there is no compelling reason for another reliever to be used instead of him. And these relievers will get a chance to show what they can do in the closer role and allow Bochy to evaluate everyone without a true closer by committee scenario/mess. It will be interesting what happens the first time there is 3 lefties coming to bat with no history with anyone, will Hennessey get the call or Taschner?
Kevin Correia, Russ Ortiz and Jack Taschner were the pitchers Bochy named to compose that committee. Entering Friday, Correia had recorded a 1.26 ERA in his previous 11 outings, Ortiz was unscored upon in five innings spanning three relief outings, and Taschner has limited opponents to a .192 batting average.
And obviously, the title is written in pencil on masking tape, if Hennessey should disappoint at any point for an extended period, the situation will be fluid enough that one of those three might take over. Plus even if he is doing OK, if one of the three just suddenly is getting everyone out, Hennessey might find himself getting more rest than usual.
Particularly since Ortiz has a lot of history with a lot of batters in the league, whereas Hennessey, Correia, and Taschner have very little history with any of the batters. Given his long period of success as a starter, there will be a lot of batters who did not do well against him and Bochy might give him the call over the others to close out a game. I assume this is the out that allows Bochy to use Ortiz more if he proves that he can close again like he did when he was in the minors and college.