Thursday, August 14, 2008

And the Beat Goes On: Giants Sign Posey, Kieschnick, Crawford

This news direct from Andy Baggarly from his Extra Baggs blog (thanks to Allfrank for heads-up!):

* Posey gets in the neighborhood of $7.5M (very nice neighborhood! :^), which when I think of it, is more where it should have been, not the $5-6M that I thought he would get, because slots were up 20% this year over last, and 20% added to $6M is $7.2M which is close to that reported amount. In addition, it is a major league contract, which means he's on our 40 man roster starting next season and starts burning options, but given his achievements, if he doesn't make the majors within 2-3 seasons, that would be a huge disappointment.

* Kieschnick got $525,000 or $40K over slot

* Crawford got $375,000 or $92K over slot. He was not exactly confirmed, as the news is from the UCLA office who said that he told them that he's not coming back to school, and why and for how much.

* Extra news, Giants also sign 13th round pick, Juan Carlos Perez, who broke the Division II junior college record with 37 home runs. He fell because of visa issues, according to Baggarly, and thus the Giants signed him to a 2009 contract in order to allow him time to work that all out. He is an outfielder.

We are set at catcher now with Posey, both defensively and, hopefully, offensively, Gillaspie looks like he could cover 3B or maybe 2B, we'll see if Kieschnick is a corner OF and if Crawford can hit enough to be SS, as his defense, from reports I've seen, has been excellent though inconsistent.

I hope these signings stop the Naysayers mistaken assertions that the Giants are cheap and wouldn't go over slot. As I had documented from previous drafts, the Giants have been generous before, and for more recent examples, they gave Lincecum $200K over slot, and I think about the same for Bumgarner too.

Of course, giving Posey over $7M is way over slot even if he were the first pick, but given his achievements this year both in hitting and winning awards, can be justified, and especially since they need him that much as well. Leverage is good and Posey had it. At least it is much closer to the $6M Weiters got than the $12M that Posey was rumored to be asking for.

BA Pre-Season

I didn't report on this before, but Baseball America, in their annual prospect book, listed the top college and high school players at the time of publication. Posey "only" ranked 17th among college players; his play during the season obviously boosted his stock. Crawford was actually ranked HIGHER than Posey, he was 10th. And Gillaspie and Kieschnick were ranked near Posey, they were 21st and 22nd, respectively.

Rundown on Signees

Looking back, I didn't include Jonathan Mayo's excellent profile comments when they were originally picked, so I'll run them down here with some comments:
  • Posey: Posey has advanced hitting skills, good knowledge of strike zone. Thinks his power is gap-to-gap, and can develop into 10-15 HR annually. Despite his SS pedigree, he doesn't run much better than other catchers and is still a slightly below-average runner. His fielding is behind other catchers but he already as quick footwork and should improve the more he catches. His strength is that he's a highly sought-after package, a catcher who'll be able to stay behind the plate and can hit, but that's his weakness, his inexperience as as catcher, only converting from SS to C two seasons ago; experience will teach him the nuances of the position. Summary: College catchers who can stay at the position and can hit are always a hot commodity and Posey will be no exception. He's got a great approach with the bat and has a little power. As a converted shortstop, he's still a little raw behind the plate, but all the tools are there for him to be just fine and help ensure he gets drafted fairly early.

  • Gillaspie: Gillaspie is a left-handed hitting third baseman in a Bill Mueller-type mold. Hitting is his best tool, very good hitter, knows what he's doing at the plate. However, with not much power, he's basically a hitting machine. He's also got below average speed but excellent base runner, so he'll steal some bases. He'll make an adequate 3B, but his lack of power keeps him from having a true profile position. Summary: After a strong Cape season, Gillaspie has followed up with an excellent junior campaign. He's a terrific hitter and has been over .400 for most of the year. His lack of power makes it hard to profile him anywhere other than as a Bill Mueller-type third baseman. There are worse things to be, of course, and a team that values what Gillaspie can do will surely take him.

  • Kieschnick: He is a big, athletic left-handed hitter (throws right) who reminds some of Mark Teahen. The big things for him is that he has excellent raw power, mostly to the pull side, and he's a 5 tool type of player, though hitting is his biggest question mark. He has above-average speed, and being aggressive, could steal 10-15 bags a year. He has the potential to be an above-average RF, he has a plus arm and gets good breaks and angles on balls, plus is very aggressive in the OF. Strengths are his raw power, good speed, aggressiveness in all facets of the game, and his weaknesses are his hitting mechanics, which leads some to wonder if he'll hit enough in the pros. Summary: Kieschnick is a potential five-tool corner outfielder who could hit for power and steal a few bases. He plays a fearless outfield, getting to plenty of balls and showing off a good arm at times. The one knock is an issue with his mechanics at the plate that concerns some about his hitting ability at the next level. Still, an aggressive college outfielder -- in a weak class of outfielders -- who has those tools should get plenty of interest.

  • Crawford: There is what was and what is now. In the past, Crawfod has shown an ability to drive the ball, but he has struggled thus far in 2008. He has raw pull power and a solid average runner, though confident enough to steal bases. Defensively, his hands have always been good, though he's not making the spectacular plays as regularly as he has in the past, as he seems to have lost a step and isn't getting to as many balls as he once did. When he's going well, he's an all-round shortstop who can hit, hit for power, steal a base and make the plays, but his confidence is shot this year and it's reflecting in almost all facets of his game. Summary: After his first two seasons at UCLA, Crawford seemed poised to be one of the top collegiate middle infielders in the class. But a rough Cape season appears to have carried over and he's lost some confidence in his game, both at the plate and in the field. Some added thickness to his lower half has taken away a little of his quickness, though he's still a solid shortstop. If he can right himself, he's the kind of player who usually sees himself go off the board within the first couple of rounds.

Also, here is some info on Juan Carlos Perez that I dug up:

  • Perez: The reigning NJCAA Div. II National Player of the Year, the Dominican had one of the greatest offensive displays in junior college baseball history (and as Baggarly noted, Albert Pujols was a Dominican who play junior college baseball) playing for Western Oklahoma State. He rewrote the NJCAA Div. II record books by blasting 37 homeruns, shattering the previous mark of 23 and also the national record for RBI's also belongs to Perez as his 102 total now stands as the benchmark. He also hit .465 and stole 29 bases. An article noted his excellent speed and a strong arm. He was also teammates with the infamous Danny Almonte, and he played against Almonte in youth leagues in the Bronx and when they were in high school. He appears to be 21 years old, being three years out of high school (based on info in this article) and before this college season, he had spent two years playing in local men's leagues after finishing high school plus spent a winter with Almonte at Play Baseball Academy in Miami, Florida. At the academy, he became a student of the game, learning the finer points of defense and base running. He says he is also diligent in working out each morning to stay in shape. What I like is that he planned to pursue a degree in engineering in case things didn't work out in baseball, you got to have plans if you want to get ahead in life.

Overall

All in all, it looks like the Giants made a great pick with Posey, particularly since we have a need at both C and SS, positions he can play and be plus offensively - there has been no talk about moving him away from C, and it is not like Sandoval is a great defensive catcher, but I mention that only because we have no real good SS prospect and Posey can play both positions. Now he just has to deliver.

And with two players who were legitimate #1 pick overall material - Lincecum and Posey - in three drafts, that's pretty good picking (and lucky picking, it takes a community of teams to not select them and leave them for us to pick, but still you have to be smart enough to select them yourself and not follow the crowd).

Gillaspie is a question mark in that while he can most probably hit in the majors, where he will fit is the question. Offensively, he looks more like a 2B but he appears to be adequate enough defensively to play 3B and that is a position of need for us, though Rohlinger is developing. Still, he's a good pick that should pay off in the future.

Kieschnick and Crawford are both very raw but both had talent and tools enough to warrant pre-season selection as players who could go in the first round, Crawford especially, while Kieschnick probably would have been somewhere in the first half of the supplemental first round picks though could have gone somewhere late in the first round.

As I've noted before, my study on the draft shows that the amount of talent typically available in the back of the first round is not that clear cut, though the potential is there, and thus many of them fail to become good players, but still, the odds are much better for those types of players than it is for even 3rd and 4th round drafted players (except for those who fall down due to signability issues), almost exponentially so (about 10% vs. 1-2%). The upshot of all this is that unless you are getting Top 5 draft picks, finding good players via the draft is more a volume shotgun jell-o on the wall type of venture, the more you have the better. And the higher the talent level of players you are getting, the better off your system is.

Thus Kieschnick and Crawford are good additions to the farm system because they are considered better talents who had off-years that dropped them back a bit in the draft. Kind of like how we got Brian Wilson, his abilities would have warranted a higher pick, but he had the unfortunate timing of getting TJS the year of the draft. Of course, not the same situation as while TJS is pretty common today, not every player return to prior goodness and velocity, but my point is that it can be worthwhile to add players with questions marks (like EME and Marcus Sanders with their health) when they have a good set of talents that normally would get them drafted much higher. Again, it's the shotgun-jell-O-traveling salesman approach: it's scattershot but if you do it systematically, then it works out overall.

Pitching, Pitching, and Pitching

And, again, that's why I like the Giants emphasis on pitching in the draft. If you are not sure what you are going to get out of the draft, you can't really plan much things out. But by focusing more on pitching, that builds a core competancy and talent level in pitching in your organization until you have a complete - and superior - pitching rotation, and then you have the luxury of pushing good pitchers who don't have an open spot in the rotation, into the bullpen and build that up as well. Plus there are always pitchers who flame out as starters but can excel in the bullpen.

That's why we could leave Brian Wilson in as closer. Up to last season, the Giants were not sure whether they wanted him to start or relieve, though they kept him in relief because of his TJS history (I presume). If we didn't have Cain, then Lincecum, and now Sanchez, the Giants management probably would have felt the urgency to think about moving him into the rotation. Now they can safely leave him in there for the long-term, much like how Boston finally went with Papalbon as closer, when he was a starter before and wanted to start.

This way, the cream rises to the top until we have too much cream and our cup will overflow. And while trading is harder today, it seems, there is always a need for pitching, whether more or better, and if we have a cupboard full enough, we will be able to trade off pitchers to get the position player we need without hurting our chances of winning.

Meanwhile, you still pick up some position players along the way - you still need to field a team in the minors - and hopefully some of them are the lottery ticket that gets you a nice position player - not good but nice - as while no team requires a lineup full of great hitters, at minimum they need to be good enough to complement the good players you do have.

Which leaves free agency, both MLB (Rowand) and internationally (Villalona and Rodriguez), and trades as avenues to get the good players you need for your lineup as you rebuild.

I think the Giants have a good setup. Success is not assured but I like the way the organization is shaping up. Pitching is pretty set and even if the bullpen is unsettled, Bumgarner and Alderson should be able to shore it up starting in 2010. In the lineup, we have Rowand as a plus and Lewis as an average (but good) player. By 2010, Posey should be good at catcher. Villalona hopefully will be super at 1B, but that's not a give yet. However, Sandoval looks like he'll be OK at 1B, with Ishikawa as backup there, or even catching next season if Ishikawa can continue whacking the ball like he has. Schierholtz looks like he could be good in RF. I still think Frandsen is the guy at 2B and he could be average (but good) there as well. That leaves SS and 3B. Not too shabby, overall

7 comments:

  1. Martin, I absolutely hate it when posters, who know nothing about the actual insider details of a situation, criticize any particular move. So, I am not doing that. I will say I am surprised at the $7.5 mil for Posey. One of my worries is that he gets almost 4 times what Lincecum got - and I would worry about that dynamic in the future. Next, and I don't pretend to know the leverage he had, I just don't understand how/why he is worth so much more than Weiters - or anyone else drafted this year. I very much DO understand the Giants wanting him and wanting him now and not waiting until next year to draft someone else. But my take is that given what Weiters and all the other top 7 guys got this year and last, that $6 mil was waaaaaay above slot - and that going back into the draft to get maybe another $2 mil, max, would be really foolsih - as the goal should be to get to the bigs soon and start the clock so you are past arbitration and able to negotiate big FA money before you are apporaching end of career age numbers.

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  2. I have no problem criticizing when actual insider details are not available - else there would be no need to express our opinions on a situation. I think if we know enough of a situation and can work out the logic, that it is valid to make some sort of commentary.

    Here is how I viewed it, you can have at it if you disagree.

    The reason I think that Weiters and Posey are comparable is because their bonuses have to make sense in the situation they were in. I won't justify Weiters, as I think he was above in my mind, but once he signs, that becomes a market pricing point that draftees will use going forward, for better or worse.

    So once that becomes a pricing point - and in a broad sense, they are very comparable, top 5 pick material, both good offensively as well defensively, both good enough to be considered for #1 pick, both also happen to be #5 picks - that became a starting point for Posey's negotiation team, because they were very comparable.

    This year, the "slots" were increased 20%, hence my reference to that, but which I probably should have explained. So if I were negotiating for Posey, I would tack on 20% to Weiter's $6M and start with $7.2M as my goal in negotiating.

    However, in any negotiation, you don't start from your ideal, you start out high, which is probably what that $12M figure was, a starting point, which eventually got "whittled" down to the reported $7.5M.

    From the Giants side, obviously you want to start somewhere around the slot figure, which should be $2.70M, based on last year's slot plus the signings right behind Posey, though Skipworth and G-Beck's are out of whack relative to each other since Skipworth signed for under slot it appears.

    Now, they probably were willing to go up to a certain figure, which obviously would be at least $7.5M, but you have to start low and make the other side justify raising it.

    Then it is a matter of each side making their points and going back and worth as neither side knows the upper and lower bounds of what each side is willing to live with or can't live without.

    And that's my layman's understanding of negotiations, I'm sure there are nuances I'm missing but I think that captures it on a very rough and high level.

    And sometimes, you just want to do it but then you work backwards and justify it by finding reasons why it is reasonable.

    That's what I tried to do as well, we will never know how the Giants or Posey's team approached it.

    Beckham getting $6.15M set a price point for the #1 pick. It was widely acknowledged that it was either Posey or Beckham. So you can make the point that Posey should make at least that much, though typically High Schoolers have more leverage than college juniors, though the degree is debatable since the junior can return to school.

    We also don't know how Posey's bonus is spread out. Beckham's $6.15M is spread out and has a present value slightly below $5M from what I remember from somewhere, in the high $4M. It could be that Posey's bonus is more backloaded than Beckham's bringing their present value to be nearly equal or even less, for all we know.

    Not sure why Posey's bonus is spread out, I forgot to mention that surprised me, I thought that was only allowed for legit two sports stars. But it was allowed according to Baggarly's report.

    In any case, it is the total figure that gets released, so maybe the present value is below Beckham's and maybe even Weiters's, but because it is backloaded, it looks like Posey got what Weiters got and more, saving face for his agents, but leaving the Giants happy that the present value is lower than whichever benchmark they are happy with.

    Now, this is all conjecture on my part, but are legit ways of valuing Posey relative to the market.

    And that's why I'm OK with it, it is in the ballpark of how people in the real world might do the valuation and not grossly higher. Sure, I would rather sign him at $2.7M, but the thing is the Giants need him more than he needs them, as much as he might want to start his career, in any case. That means the Giants will have to give more in the negotiations and there are valid reasons why he could get more, and at the end of the day, they had to sign him or risk setting back the rebuilding greatly.

    I don't think this bothers or should bother Lincecum. I don't think that he will compare, though he probably wouldn't have minded getting the money. If it was that important to him to get that much money, he would have not signed with the Giants and went back for his senior year and prove he deserved that high of an amount.

    That's also why they are "gambling" by going year to year with his contract instead of signing a cheap but security-laden contract with the Giants, I believe. If he can pitch this well every year - and it appears he can as long as he is healthy - he is going to break records in arbitration. That is the big prize, the signing bonus is history, the bigger prize is right before him in his grasp and it is in arbitration.

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  3. Oh, forgot to mention that while Lincecum was considered for #1, he fell all the way to #10. That makes it harder to argue that you were worth what a #1 got, as there was a lot of debate on what his actual worth was, in the market. That Porcello got a lot more probably didn't feel good to him, but hard to compare a HS to a junior in college, lots of factors that make it harder for his side to say it is a comparable situation. Plus, Porcello didn't sign until very near the end, making it harder to bring up in negotiations, things should be winding down by then.

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  4. Interesting comments, thanks, Martin, particularly about the present value. yes, present value is the real value. And, honestly, for Posey, I wouldn't quibble over a $mil. I just thought he would come in at about $6 mil. All things considered, I am glad he is on board. I do think it is important to get the rebuild up and running. And of course, it is possible we will pay more next year for a player not quite the same caliber (I understand the class is a little thinner - butg we might be picking higher. ie, I understand only the top 3 picks are true blue chippers, and if we are picking 4 or 5, we're going to be paying for a number, not a player.

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  5. I think Posey's bonus can be spread out because he signed a major league contract.

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  6. Thanks wayne2490, that makes a lot of sense, that would explain why Sabean said right off that the Giants would be amenable to a major league contract if that is so desired.

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  7. Thanks allfrank. I did not intend to say that you were quibbling over a $mil, I was only trying to show how I would justify going with $7.5M as the bonus, whether from Posey's agent viewpoint or the Giants viewpoint.

    Yes, I figured you would be glad he was on board and wanting to get the rebuild up and running. Again, I was just trying to run through the logic of how the Giants should be approaching this.

    Lastly, I wasn't trying to refer to next year's draft having lower caliber; I haven't heard much about next year's class yet. Reading over my comments, I don't see it, so you will have to point it out to me, and I'll let you know what I was thinking at that point.

    I wasn't trying to say that we should get him now because next year we might get a lesser talent for the same price. Given this statement, I would not use that as a reason to pay out more this year, you just don't know how next year's draft is going to turn out, you have some rough estimates, but as I tried to point out with my references to where BA ranked the four draftees, Posey raised his status greatly (much like how Longoria did) while Kieschnick and Crawford plummeted, so you never know how things will turn out next year, you can only know what is this year.

    Ultimately, as I noted throughout, it is not in the best economic interest of any of our draft picks to not sign for slot or above, they should take the money and work to get to the majors that much faster if you believe you can do better next year.

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