Sunday, August 17, 2008

Analysis of Buster Posey on Baseball Intellect

Baseball Intellect recently published his analysis of Buster Posey as a prospect.

Sounds very good overall, but for $6.2M, I would have hoped for more than a B/B+ grading that the author assigned to Buster's potential.

Still, very good skills all around:
  • Defense: Buster's athleticism has been touted for a long while, and it is here too. Due to this, he is projected to be at least average defensively with the potential to be plus.
  • Ratios and splits stats: walked about twice his strikeouts - the best hitters get one walk per strikeout. So that's pretty good, albeit in college ball. I wonder what it was on Friday, when he typically faced the other team's best pitcher. In that venue, though, he was just about as good, suggesting that he probably walked a lot there too as well. And he hit well against both LHP and RHP (though hard not to do when you hit .463).
  • Swing: Good for "moderately-high batting average" plus gap power for a lot of doubles, but not good for huge power. That would be great in AT&T Park. He has a couple of flaws that needs to be fixed; maybe the additional coaches that Neukom wants can help him with that.
  • Overall: Sees 35+ doubles and 15-20 HR annually from Posey, with a "solid" batting average, which to me means not .300+ but high .200's, .280 to .290. Those plus the ability to take a walk results in "a pretty good offensive player." That plus playing at a premium defensive position means that he has the potential to be in the Top 5 catchers. And with his overall polish to his offensive game, he thinks Posey can move quickly. Which is good, the Giants need Posey to move really fast, ideally making the majors in 2010 after Molina's contract ends in 2009.

Giants Thoughts

I know this doesn't pertain to the article, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense the bonus amount. The main goal was getting more than Tim Beckham and Pedro Alvarez, or really, anyone, he was the Golden Spike winner, he was just as highly rated as Matt Weiters who got $6M last season, he was the top offensive guy plus played great defense, for college. Obviously, Beckham was a set target since he signed so early for $6.15M, but Alvarez was the stumbling point, what's he going to get?

Given the reports that Posey had already flew in and gotten his physical earlier in the week, I think that he and the Giants had basically agreed to most of the parameters and the Giants were willing to help him get what he wanted, which was the biggest contract, and gave him at least a couple of options, either $6.2M upfront or, if he wants more, the Giants have to go with a major league contract - which allows them to backload the payments - and the total is $7.5M but spread out over a number of years and still $6.2M present value. So the question is, which one is good enough to beat what Beckham got and Alvarez might get, because Boras likes to get the highest contract?

So they waited all week, still Alvarez is not signed, and Buster's negotiating team hit on the idea of leaking the $7.5M figure so that Boras hopefully will wave the white flag and concede. Remember, they were the ones to leak the $12M figure for Buster; and about that, the experts in the media would opine that it was to get to the higher spending clubs and scare off the cheap clubs, but the way I've always seen it is that it has dual purpose: yes, one is to reach a bigger spending club, but there is another reason to move back in the draft, and that's to reach the teams who have a better chance of winning.

Look at the top drafting clubs, do any of them really look like that they have a clue of ever winning regularly? Tampa might be winning this year, but it is the clubs who pick later who have the better chance of winning. Pittsburgh? KC? Orioles? Please, do you really want to get stuck with any of those clubs, given their past record of failures? Sometimes it works, like when Porcello fell to the Tigers. Most times it don't, like when the Orioles picked Weiters.

Anyway, don't know if Boras called to congratulate them and thus both could move on, but somehow the log jam got broken and the contract got signed by Buster for "just" the $6.2M. In any case, I don't think that it is a coincidence that Baggarly was the same person who reported the $7.5M figure plus then noted later that the delay was due to a "pissing contest" between Alvarez's agents and Posey's agents. And the Giants weren't technically "lying", deciding on the final figure of a contract is a huge negotiation point.

Back to the analysis. I would take .280+, 15+ HR, 35+ doubles with good to gold glove defense at catcher anyday. That would be huge to have under control for 6 seasons. I would have preferred seeing an A grade, and I don't quite understand why it wasn't since he can be a top 5 at his position. But, whatever, that batting line about would be great to have, particularly with a lot of walks too. That would be perfect in the #3 lineup spot, would work at #5, would be good #2 as well, since he should get on base a lot plus hits LHP as well as he hits RHP. This solves another spot in the Giants future lineup.

He gives us 3 legit middle lineup guys in Lewis, Rowand and now Posey. Add Villalona into the mix and that, assuming they hit what the appear capable of doing, would be a darn good offense, maybe Posey #2, Lewis #3, Villalona #4, Rowand #5, then we need to find us a good leadoff guy, plus Schierholtz should be OK batting #6 or 7.

And that lineup could happen as soon as 2010 if Villalona can advance like Justin Upton did and if Posey can advance fast, like both Will Clark and Tim Lincecum, two fellow Golden Spike players, did.


  1. I have been dwelling on something since the Posey signing. Confining Posey to C forces us to have a potential Villalona/Sandoval face-off for 1B down the line. I was thinking that since Posey played SS in college, and has plus arm (from what I remember), is there any chance he could play 3B?

    He might not be the ideal bat for 3B, but considering our 3rd basemen recently I wouldn't hesitate. Putting Posey at 3B would move Gillaspie to 2B and more importantly allow us to keep Villalona and Sandoval in the lineup. Thoughts?

  2. I like your thinking out of the box; that's better than my thought of using him at SS so that Sandoval can play C.

    The problem is that a high .280-.290 hitter with 15-20 HR is not a premium at 3B. It is nice, but he's not a premium. A hitter like that is a premium at C, SS, and perhaps CF, but not at any corner position, IF or OF.

    And if we are paying a premium price for Posey in his bonus, I would prefer him at C or SS, we are weak in either position, and if the Giants thought Sandoval could be plus defensively at C, I would move Posey to SS without hesistation - unfortunately, my guess is that Sandoval's offense makes his defense tolerable, and I don't think you can really have that when your team's focus is on pitching.

    The good news, however, is that the latest photo I've see of Villalona makes him look doable playing 3B, so maybe our future IF could be Posey, Sandoval, Frandsen/Gillaspie, Ochoa/Bocock/Burris, and Villalona.

    Plus, as nice as Villalona has done, it is still all at the lower levels, he may never reach how well Sandoval can hit (though that is assuming he can hit too). I think we just have to deal with what is right now, and play Sandoval in a platoon at 1B with Bowker or Ishikawa, while giving him starts at C regularly as well, so that he gets significant AB in 2009 to show what he can do. He would be the backup C too.

  3. What do you think of this setup for next season?

    C - Molina/Sandoval
    1B - Ishikawa/Sandoval
    2B - Frandsen/Burriss
    SS - Furcal/Burriss
    3B - Rohlinger/McClain
    LF - Lewis/Bowker
    CF - Rowand/Lewis
    RF - Schierholtz/Bowker

    *Winn traded in offseason
    *Furcal signed in offseason

    Primary lineup:


    Normally I wouldn't think we should pick up a guy like Furcal. But considering our lack of SS in the system he could be a smart investment. He still slots as a top of the order guy, plays decent D, and could fill the veteran leader role if we trade Winn.

  4. First, John Shea has some additional info in his column Saturday:

    Shea writes that "Serious negotiations didn't pick up until the final hour before Friday night's deadline." I rather doubt that greatly, depending, of course, on what "serious" means. I would think that a contract like this requires a lot of negotiation to make sure that all the nuances are covered and, I'm no lawyer, but unless there is a way to sign as long as verbal negotiations are carried out, meaning that the contract is not typed out, you still need a lot of time to type it out and get that correct. Even something as "fill out the form" as a mortgage gets mistakes that requires delays to correct the language of the contract before I could sign. But I'll be happy to be proved incorrect if there are any lawyers or experienced negotiators reading...

    Don't recall if I noted this, as I had read this somewhere, but I'll note it again: he will play briefly in the Arizona rookie league, probably just to get some things set up and him tuned up since he hasn't been playing, then probably report to Class A Salem-Keizer, which is a short-season league that typically gets a lot of the current year draftee signees playing there. I also recall (must be Baggarly) that he might even get to play for San Jose when they get into the Advanced A California League playoffs.

    A couple more interesting points that is new. One is that the straight signing bonus, will be split between this year and next year, no split given. Allows the Giants to spread the financial pain, which is good.

    The other is that a major league deal would limit the number of Posey's option years. That, I believe is incorrect as well, or, rather, not interpreted correctly. I read on MLBTradeRumors that Keith Law/ESPN wrote some key details of a major league deal, and one is that he gets 4 options, which is one more than a regular draftee. So there is no limit in that way.

    What is limited is years you control him. With the contract Posey got, the Giants control him indefinitely until he makes the 40 man, at which point he would start burning options (three allowed), and once he start his major league clock, then the team will control him for another 6 seasons. So he could minor league for, like 2 years, then 40 man it and minor league for another, then majors for 6 years, total control 9 full seasons, 6 full MLB seasons.

    With a major league contract, you really only control him for 6 years, and the clock starts in 2009. This means that if he takes the full 4 options to make the majors, you only control him for 2 of his major league seasons before losing him to free agency.

    Of course, if he is bad enough to take 4 seasons to make it, maybe losing him quickly won't be so bad... :^)

    Remember, no matter how high a player is drafted in the draft, even players as high as Beckham and Posey are not sure thing good MLB players eventually, about half of them still crap out and are not good ballplayers, though, if I remember my stats right, a large percentage of the failures at least are useful in that they amass 6 seasons worth of playing time, only, and I just realized this, perhaps that is because when they are drafted that high, they get multiple chances to prove themselves and amass that time...

    Therefore, should I redo my study again, which I'm thinking of doing (baseball reference has added great stats, may add more, the operator told me in answer to my question, so I could have the stats to easily analyze), I should have a threshold, floor, that the player has to achieve to be considered useful.

  5. OK, Matt, nice rundown and speculation on Furcal. I like the Furcal idea too, saw it somewhere before, might have mentioned here as well.

    Yes, with SS such a mess organizationally, Furcal would be a good sign and he'll only be 31 next season, but you have to think the Dodgers would want to resign him, Hu could be ready (great defenisvely) but not as good offensively as Furcal.

    Then again, with all the costly mistakes, they might not have the money to resign, though I think Schmidt is coming off the payroll, as well as Nomar, and Furcal, so they should have the money unless horribly backloaded contracts suck that up.

    I don't see McClain getting any playing time. He's older than some of the vets that fans complain about, I think he'll be 37 next season.

    Justin Leone would be a better bet if you are going old, but I think that the Giants are going to try to fit Frandsen at 3B while leaving 2B open for other young players to try out, whether Burriss, Denker, Velez. I don't see them signing any of those 3B (or at least hope they don't). It would send the wrong message out after doing so well in last off-season. I hope they might take a chance on someone's cast-offs for 2B and 3B, but we'll see who is available this off-season.

    Lewis has really earned that starting spot but if he does require surgery for that bunion, he'll be out to basically mid-season, so I can see Bowker taking most AB in LF.

    I think with Winn having only one season left in 2009, that we could convince a competing team to take him on and still give us a decent prospect or two, and open that spot for Schierholtz.

    I don't see Rohlinger being ready at 3B, but I guess Frandsen could take his place at 3B as I suggested above. Burriss is probably going to be starting 2B, he did well in the Arizona Fall League last year, if I remember right, so I would think they would send him to Winter Leagues and get more AB so that he can win the job in spring training. I can see another pickup of a castoff, like Castillo last off-season, as backup for 2B and maybe 3B too, though if I recall right, Leone plays both positions.

    Also, I expect Aurilia to be re-signed, as per Baggarly's nice post on this recently: Beats out Shea's comment on that same subject by a couple of hours according to time stamps. He could be the backup to take over 2B and 3B if either should falter, plus provide vet leadership and teach the Giants way.

  6. Also, final re-thought, I think it will be Frandsen with a pretty set spot in the lineup, assuming he doesn't do a face plant in spring training, with Rohlinger battling Burriss for the other spot (probably Aurilia too), with Frandsen switching depending on who wins the lineup spot.

  7. I read somewhere that the free agent clock doesn't start for a player until he is put on the 25 man roster not the 40 man roster. So a player who signs a major league contract would have to be put on the 40 man roster and start burning up options, but would not be starting his free agent clock until he was put on the 25 man roster. Is this right?

  8. Wayne, that seems right to me, but I guess it is a quirk with giving a draftee a major league contract that limits him to 6 seasons.

    I got my info from someone summarizing Keith Law. If you have ESPN Insider, perhaps you can go in and bring this question up with Keith Law and see what he says.



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