Friday, October 17, 2008

Interesting notes found from Bobby Evans Interview in April 2008

I was looking through my stuff and found some notes I had jotted down from an interview with Bobby Evans way back in April 13, 2008.  And he said at that time, long before Neukom had a "Way", that the Giants are one of the few teams to coordinate instruction from top to bottom.  He also noted a focus on aggressive baserunning, defense, and pitching (that last one was an obvious one).  He also mentioned depth at C with Pablo Sandoval and Jackson Williams, 1B with Brett Pill, and pitching with Tim Alderson.  Other thing he noted was that he reports MLB to Sabean and MiLB to Tidrow, now that he's Director of Player Personnel.

Kind of short, so I decided to listen to Bobby Evan's Down the Pipeline show (which probably was the show I listened to for the above), the last of the season.  Things of interest include:
  • Giants feel that Sandoval can handle 3B defensively, he has the arm strength, legs, would just need adjustment during spring training to get ready, and in fact, playing some 3B during winter ball.
  • They love Velez's bat, but position will be key decision, not sure where right now.
  • First time ever, Giants having organizational players of the year, new tradition:  Madison Bumgartner is Pitcher of the Year and Pablo Sandoval is Hitter of the Year.  Others they considered were Joe Martinez, Tim Alderson, Ryan Rohlinger, Angel Villalona (noted his 17 HR at age 18), and Nick Noonan ("pure hitter").
  • Too early to say, but probably will invite Bumgarner and Alderson to spring training next year.  Both are advanced for their age and are pushing the envelope.
Giants Thoughts

I wish the Giants would let out info like this on a regular basis, but at least they do it some of the time.  Sabean in particular keeps a lot of things close to his vest;  he must have been a lawyer in his previous life or something.  Still, not everybody have the time to go through each and every Giants communique, whether it be Sabean's interviews and chats, or now Evans' weekly show, which I apparently caught one of the first and now the last show.  I will have to put it on my calendar next year.

Take this bit of info about coordinated instruction.  I have seen people complain all the time about the Giants - and I was one of them - lack of this, that they needed to have a philosophy that permeates the organization, whether it be like the A's with OBP and patience and such, or whatever.  What I've learned in life is that while a plan does not guarantee success, lack of a plan often guarantees lack of success (the old cliche of "failure to plan is a plan for failure").  

In particular and for example, let's take the stock market.  When I was in high school, I spent every summer obsessed with something.  One year it was horserace betting but another year it was the stock market.  Fundamentals, technical trading, shorting, options, growth, dividend, Ben Graham value investing, and what I concluded was that if you had a fairly well-thought out plan, you can make money with it, as long as you stick with the plan and not let emotion take you out of your game.

So whether it be the coordinated instruction that previously existed, or the Giants Way after it is published (I wonder how they are going to handle them, will each have a serial number embedded into each so that they can be tracked, and will each player be responsible for returning it when they leave the organization?  Or will they be more mellow about it?  I would assume more the former than the latter, because of Neukom, but you never know), I'm glad the Giants do care enough about instruction to do this in some systematic way.

The focus of the instruction makes sense.  The pitching was probably obvious, given how we focus on drafting them.  Defense also makes a lot of sense because Sabean has usually gone for the top defensive guys with some bat when possible.  The aggressive baserunning appears to be a new thing that happened over the past few years or so.   That was not so evident in the early 2000's, but around 2003-2004, Sabean was already talking in his press conferences about how baseball was moving towards a stolen base offensive environment from the HR-happy environment that has dominated baseball for so many years now.  Hopefully the Giants Way will next add batting philosophy to the mix as well.   

I wonder how much influence that Carney Lansford had with the decision for the Giants Way.  It is well known about how the A's have coordinated instruction up and down, such as the Moneyball concepts of OBP and being patient in taking pitches.  They probably have a book of some sort;  Eric Walker helped developed some sort of manual for them long ago and I assume some version of it exists today.  So maybe Carney either talked about this with Neukom or perhaps even recommended this to him.   Then again, coordinated instruction appears to have begun around the time that Neukom joined the managing partners group.  Just a thought.

Evans was on target for two of the four players named in April, Pill and Williams did not do well.  Alderson and Sandoval were both inspired picks.  Alderson not as much, since he did do well in limited play in 2007, but still he was a first round pick.  However, still pretty good pick since he was only 18-19 and he was started out in Advanced A ball; for comparison, Lincecum started out in Advanced A ball but he was already 22 when he started there with 3 years of college ball.

Sandoval was particularly insightful.  He has had an up and down record in the minors, and it was bad enough that despite a good year in San Jose in 2007, Baggarly and Baseball America did not see fit to place him on the Giants 2008 Top 30 prospect list.  Not that I totally blame them, he had a nice season but not great in 2007, and he was struggling enough with catching that the Giants held him back in San Jose to start 2008 because he needed to work with San Jose's manager, a former catcher for the Giants, Steve Decker.  In addition, looking at the players they did include in their 30, it would have been hard to argue against any of the bottom 15, say, against Sandoval.  Still, given his breakout year, he should have been at least been mentioned somewhere;  I can't say I saw his breakout coming, but he was one of the few Giants prospects I drafted in a keeper league that started in the 2007 off-season, so I can at least claim to have seen something.

Good to hear that the Giants think Sandoval can handle 3B eventually.  Funny how Evans keyed on that just prior to the end of the season, and right afterward, Sabean says that Sandoval is our starting 1B.   I still think that his position is fluid depending on how player acquisition works out for Sabean, plus  how the competition for 2B works out, and lastly how Frandsen's comeback works out.  

I still believe the Giants left 3B open for the 2008 season so that if Durham beat out Frandsen (perhaps they believed that much in Frandsen's bat) , Frandsen would have a starting position to slide to.   This time, I think the announcement of Sandoval at 1B was a signal to other teams that the Giants, in any trade talks, are looking for 3B, the only position that does not either have a player penciled in (including Lewis in LF, Burriss at SS, and Sandoval at 1B) or have valid players competing for (Frandsen and Velez at 2B;  Giants like both their bats).  

Then Sabean has things covered.  If trade, then now 3B covered.  If no trade, then if Velez and Frandsen do well, they take 2B and 3B.  If Frandsen does not do well or have set back, the Sandoval can slide to 3B and Ishikawa would initially get shot at 1B, then Bowker, then Ortmeier.  

I thought that Madison Bumgarner and Pablo Sandoval were no-brainers for the Giants first minor's Pitcher of the Year and Hitter of the Year, respectively.   No other player were that close to either one, though if I were to think of 2nd place, Tim Alderson and Travis Ishikawa would have to be them, respectively.   3rd could be Joe Martinez or any of the trio at San Jose, Jesse English, Kevin Pucetas, and Benjamin Snyder, for pitcher.   I would also throw out Daryl Maday as one as well.  I think Angel Villalona got 3rd place for hitter.

I would include Nick Noonan for honorable mention among hitters.  I have a long list for pitchers, but they all did well for us:  Scott Barnes, a left-handed pitcher we drafted in 2008 (I think 8th round), RHP Jose Casilla, LHP Alex Hinshaw, RHP Sergio Romo, RHP Mike Loree, RHP Osirus Matos, RHP Kyle Nicholson, RHP Daniel Otero, and RHP Edwin Quirarte (2008 5th round).  

FYI:  Emmanuel Burris is hitting .400/.471/.467/.938 (12-for-30) through 9 games.  Yesterday, he went 4-for-4 with 3 runs scored.  Looks like he wants to keep the SS job, eh?  However, only 2 extra bases so far (either two doubles or a triple), so his lack of power continues, making him very dependent on generating a high batting average for a high OPS.  

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