Thursday, November 20, 2008

Will the Giants Take a Bath with Sabathia?

A discussion of the Giants pursuing Sabathia broke out in the comment section for the post on Lincecum's long-term contract. A couple of good sources of info on this is El Lefty Malo and, of course, Extra Baggs. I'll try to capture most of the good points from what I've written there.

Yes! We're In the Money

This is exciting news if the Giants are serious about pursuing Sabathia. This could be a sign of what Neukom announced as his "give me a winning strategy, I'll figure out the money" strategy. I have been hoping that he dips into his rolodex of hi-tech multimillionaires who might want to become part owners of the Giants and fund additional player acquisitions.

The key is to add new investors who can help pay for additional players. That is the model that got the D-backs their World Series championship, that is the model that brings them back to competitiveness after nearly going bankrupt with their original financing plan (they basically bought their title). I want someone to buy the Giants a title.

In addition, as noted in Extra Baggs, the Giants have money from a new Comcast contract that has not been spent yet. Also, I believe that they also own a portion of the sports network that broadcasts their games, so that gives them either an asset to sell or an asset to borrow against if necessary. All these would add money into the player payroll budget.

Trading to Save Money

There is also the possibility that Sabean could help pay for some of the additional salary by trading off either Winn or Rowand (whose name has floated in rumors). I still think Rowand was a good acquisition, as long as he is healthy. There's no way a hitter goes from slugging 900+ OPS for two months then become stone cold the rest of the season without an injury involved. Plus, given his poor play overall and larger contract, the Giants would get a lot less for Rowand than we would if we traded Winn.

It's like I had noted way back in 2003, when trying to get the Giants interested in signing Vlad: do the Giants go for quality, go for the gusto, or do they go safe and mediocre. Keeping Winn and trading Rowand would be going safe and mediocre. Winn is what he is, a nice steady player; Rowand at his best can be a plus hitter and defender. Go for the ring!

No Trading of Lincecum or Cain

However, if the plan is to sign Sabathia and then trade off Lincecum or Cain to obtain a hitter, then I am not for this move. Lincecum and Cain should be our core and while I don't believe that Sabean is looking to trading either, many fans have actively talked about trading Cain. There is no way the Giants should trade Cain, think of how good the rotation would be after signing Sabathia.

Removing the #5 starters and adding Sabathia's 2007 stats results in a team ERA of 3.82 for the Giants (obviously better if you use his 2008 stats). Add on about 0.2 for unearned runs brings us to 4.0 runs per game. The team scored 4.0 runs per game in Aug/Sept and adding Furcal (as other rumors note) would push us above that. That's an above .500 team.

It could also lead the Giants to move Bumgarner and Alderson slowly up the system, and by the time they are ready to join the team, the team could have moved both Sanchez and Zito (or even Sabathia) by then, opening two spots for a rotation of Sabathia, Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, and Alderson.

For example, Bumgarner moving up one level per year would mean reaching the majors in 2011-2, when Zito only has 2-3 years on his contract, which would be much easier to move at that point.

I think the Giants realize what they got in Lincecum and Cain PLUS realize that many fans have bonded with the two as Giants players, that they are fan favorites, and thus if they are serious about signing Sabathia, then they are going for creating a monster starting rotation and not, as some fans had speculated, to enable trading of a starting pitcher.

How Much?

That is the $$$ question. One thing that caught my attention was CC’s interest in getting more than Santana annually, who got $22.9M per. CC will only be 28 next season. Thus, a shorter contract but higher annual could work: 5 years plus option, maybe two, vesting based on IP over the previous 3 years, at say $26M would be $130M plus maybe a $8M buyout for a total of $138M, which would be larger than Santana's deal. He would still be only 32 his last season with us, with options for 33 and 34.

A fear of mine is also that signing Sabathia would make the Giants incapable of signing Matt Cain and/or Tim Lincecum to long term deals beyond arbitration. If that is the case, then I am not for signing Sabathia. The Giants long-term future right now revolves around Lincecum and Cain and I would protect that zealously.

How it Should Work

I think the only way this would work is to NOT trade any of the pitchers this off-season but do trade either Winn or Rowand. I still say Lincecum and Cain are untouchable. With a rotation of Sabathia, Lincecum, Cain, Zito, Sanchez, when they are all on the top of their game, we will be winning a lot of 3-2, 4-3 games, even with our offense, which was averaging 4.0 runs at year end. 2009 should still be a rebuilding year even with Sabathia, unless the young guys come through.

The hope then for 2009 is that we learn which young guys are keepers/contributors for 2010 and beyond. In particular, hopefully Sanchez can put together a full season of his roughly first half of 2008 when he was as dominating as Lincecum or Cain, and that would be a trading chip that would get us the middle of lineup hitter we need after the 2009 season ends. Sanchez should have three years of arbitration control, or even better maybe the Giants could even sign him now to a $9M contract to cover the next 4 seasons, to make him low cost too. Think something like the Volquez trade.

In addition, losing Molina, Roberts, Winn off the roster would open up more cash for signing another veteran hitter next off-season to go with this hitter we get for Sanchez. That would be another piece to the puzzle, plus hopefully other prospects would have come to the fore in 2009. Furthermore, Posey should be ready in the 2010-11 timeframe, as well as Villalona in the 2011-12 timeframe.

Playoff Success

With a rotation of Sabathia, Lincecum, Cain, Zito, and Sanchez (then Alderson, then Bumgarner), our rotation would be a juggernaut for the next 5-8 seasons, per my hypothesis that having a dominating rotation is the way to playoff success (my examples being Unit/Schilling for D-backs, Koufax/Drysdale for Dodgers).

Or for an olden day example applicable for the Giants, there was Christy Mathewson single-handedly winning the Giants the 1905 World Series. While those days of single pitcher taking over are over, if we can have two aces, that could duplicate it. We should have it with Lincecum and Cain.

Adding a third ace in Sabathia would push that up exponentially, I believe. And if Sanchez can pitch like an ace over a full season, the more the merrier for us in the playoffs. Lastly, if Zito has finally figured it out - and based on how his ability to strike out batters improved greatly at the end of the 2008 season, he has - then we could have a rotation full of very good to great pitchers, each and every time they take the ball.

Offense is Not the Only Way to Improve Winning

People cry about offense, but it goes both ways. If we have a rotation which can keep the opposition scoring under 4.0 runs per game (ERA without #5 in 2008 was 4.00 basically; with Sabathia's 2007, around 3.82 ERA), then our offense in 2008, even with all the experimentation, scored 4.0 runs per game and that's over .500 right there.

Our offense should be even better in 2009 because Burriss or SS FA would beat Bocock/Vizquel, our 1B couldn't get worse, OF should be same or better if Rowand hits like he can, and Sandoval could not be worse than Castillo at 3B, and should be better. Plus, imagine how well Lewis could play with a healthy bunion!

And as I noted here in my post on Affeldt, Lincecum and Cain probably lost at least 10 wins that they had left to the bullpen to save. Saving just 6 of those 10 lost wins would bring us close to .500 right there, with 78 wins. Thus, the team was very close to .500 in 2008, just by tweaking the bullpen. So, even without Sabathia, the team is already around .500 right now, with the addition of Affeldt, Romo, and Hinshaw in the bullpen, perhaps slightly above, depending on how well Sandoval and Burriss, and perhaps Frandsen (with a dark horse of Ishikawa and Schierholtz), produces for us in the lineup.

In all, given the lack of plus hitters likely to join us, getting Sabathia would still improve the team's RA greatly and people forget that the two ways to win is to either improve RS or to reduce RA. Getting CC would reduce RA significantly.

As I noted, 2009 is a transition year still, getting CC won't help us win right now, at least not the division, but by the end of the season, we should have a better idea what our other young prospects are capable of and whether they are a part of the team going forward plus others would have played well enough that we could trade them away to get a hitter who could bat in the middle for us, the Padres got Kouzmanov from the Indians, and the Rangers got Hamilton from the Reds, we should be able to get someone similar if Sanchez can pitch well. Plus money should be freed up enough to get a free agent hitter. And hopefully Sandoval or another prospect can show that they can be a long-term power source in the middle of the lineup for the future.

12 comments:

  1. If the Giants are really serious about bringing in Sabathia, it would not make sense without also bringing in some more hitting along side.

    Sabathia alone is not enough to make the Giants competitive. At a minimum, the Giants would have to bring in at least one real middle of the order bat. I'm not sure who that would be as adding Sabathia would almost assuredly take us out of the Teixera market. Assuming that's the case and Sabean doesn't do something dumb like offer a big contract to Manny or Burell, then the trade route is the only other viable option.

    This is where adding Sabathia give the Giants some leeway. It gives them the opportunity to move a guy like Sanchez for a bat (someone like JJ Hardy) or to package him with one of the pitching prospects for someone even better than that or a package of players.

    If they go the latter route, they'd have to move Rowand and/or Winn. I'd like to see them do that anyway. As an aside, we don't agree on Rowand's abilities, in case you haven't noticed. He is not a plus defender anymore (read: overrated) and his offensive skills are in decline. I do not buy that it was injury related. You tried to make that same argument about Matt Morris, but it's just not the case.

    Lastly, the Giants should move Molina now so that they can play Sandoval at C. At least he could be a plus bat there whils being a shitty defender. Better than being a average or less than average bat at 3B and being a shitty defender. Molina should be able to bring back a decent prospect return. If the Giants wait until mid-season to trade Molina, they're not going to get much back in return.

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  2. Please watch your language, Boof. I won't delete this one, as you make some good comments, but I will delete if you do it again. There are accepted euphemisms, you know what they are.

    We agreed on some things. Trading Sanchez would bring us a good hitter. And getting Sabathia is not enough, we need more hitting.

    However, our basic disagreement there, besides Rowand (touche on Morris, but just because I was wrong on that one doesn't mean you are right on this one :^), is a difference in the time table for all this.

    You are focused on being a contender in 2009, I think we need another year to marinate the team player mix before we try to contend in 2010.

    Sure, trading Sanchez might net a Hardy this year, but Sanchez was very good for an extended period of time before hitting a dead arm period around the All-Star break. With better arm preparation this offseason plus the experience of 2008, I think he can pitch well for a whole season.

    He'll only be 26 next season, and he had a 3.97 ERA up to the All-Star Break. His 45% DOM is safely in the area of good pitchers, however, his 31% DIS was not and blew up his ERA overall. If he can sustain his performance over an entire year, he can get it under 4.00 and perhaps even into the mid-3's, he had long stretches of domination (in a 10 start stretch, 6 5-PQS and 2 4-PQS starts, no DIS, that is strong domination). A pitcher like that with 3 remaining years of control should net a pretty nice package of prospects or a MLB producing player with a year or two experience. Thinking of flipping Sanchez for, say, Hardy, is thinking small, I believe, he should be able to net us a much better player (think Hamilton for Volquez) should we be patient and wait a year to trade him.

    Same with all our other prospects. We don't know who will stick and who won't. I prefer the Giants to not sign any position free agents, and ideally trade away Winn (or even Rowand) because I feel that Schierholtz is ready for his chance in the majors.

    That gives us 2009 to see which prospects are ready for the show and which positions we need to fill going forward. I don't believe that we are at the point where we have every position set up where we can get enough free agents to fill up our lineup to make up for our hitting prospects short-comings. However, if some can come to the fore in 2009, that could set us up for an extended stretch from 2010-2012. Getting Hardy would only help in 2009 and 2010, as we cannot commit big money to an average player like him.

    Plus, we don't know that he's going to be a plus hitter going forward. His OPS+ was 100 in 2007 and 113 in 2008. However, his 2008 was boosted by a huge jump on the road, fueled by unsustainable OPS at 3 different parks (except for those named Bonds or Pujols or their ilk). His OPS at home actually fell - at Miller's, a homerun park - but his overall OPS went up because his OPS on the road was .878 when it was only .769 in 2007:

    Season Road Home
    2007 .769 .803
    2008 .878 .761

    Which number does not fit?

    And that was fueled by an unsustainable BABIP:

    Season Road Home
    2007 .283 .275
    2008 .345 .261

    Again, which does not fit? That boost added 26% more hits, assuming a .275 mean BABIP (each hitter has his own BABIP mean, and that's generous I think). Taking that away plus 26% of his total bases would reduce his road from .304/.402/.574/.977 to .234/.301/.425/.726.

    He looks due to regress to his 2007 stats, as his hitting peripherals did not improve greatly in 2008 to suggest that the improvement would continue. While his BB% did increase from 6.3% to 8.4%, his K% also increased from 12.3% to 17.2% (which means a drop in contract rate from a good 87.7% to 82.8%, which is borderline OK), resulting in his BB/K staying about the same, a so-so 0.53 in 2008 vs. 0.55 in 2007. The best hitters have BB/K above 1.0, good hitters above 0.76.

    In addition, despite better hitting line, his LD% went down to 15.5% from 17.2% while his GB% flew to 48.4% from 41.1%, both normally are signs that his hitting line should drop, not rise. In addition, his FB% dropped and yet HR stays about the same as his HR/FB% rose from 12.0% to 14.1%.

    These are all signs of buying high, while for Sanchez we would be selling low because he has signs of breaking out. That is not the way you improve a club long-term, selling low and buying high.

    I think that waiting out this process instead of being impatient and jumping the gun would just lessen the potential for the team to be successful in the playoffs over the 2010-2012 time period, and beyond hopefully.

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  3. I disagree about Molina and Sandoval as well. We don't have anyone who looks like they are going to be that good a hitter at 3B while we have Posey who should be our C in a season or two. I hope Villalona would but another year starting at 1B should end any thoughts of him returning to 3B defensively, I think.

    Molina is already a plus hitter at C but if we put Sandoval there instead of 3B, then who are we going to play at 3B, Rohlinger?

    Potentially, if we do sign a SS, then Burriss could take 2B and Frandsen 3B. I like Frandsen as a hitter, but his best value is at 2B, not 3B, both offensively and defensively. I don't think Frandsen/Sandoval at 3B/C would beat out Sandoval/Molina offensively and defensively. I think Frandsen wouldn't embarrass himself at 3B, but I think Molina is better at C than Frandsen at 3B, on a relative basis.

    And I disagree on what we could get for Molina now versus mid-season. I think either way, he's not going to net us a decent prospect in return. I think we would be better off keeping him, he was a Type A player this off-season, comfortably so, ranked #5 overall, he would have to fall to #9 to fall to Type B. I don't see any of the Type B's jumping up that high. http://www.nypost.com/seven/11042008/sports/mets/nl_player_rankings_136999.htm?page=0. That could net us two good picks, and if he accepts arbitration, that gives us another year to give Posey experience catching professionally. Potentially, we could get a first round pick for Molina because he's going to be old enough that only a competitive team would get him, not a re-building team with a protected pick.

    The only scenario I see us getting a decent prospect for him is if a contending team loses their catcher mid-season and is desperate and trades a decent prospect for him. Still, that doesn't necessarily get you much.

    Look at the Yankees last season. Desperate to replace Posada, they acquired I-Rod, for Kyle Farnsworth, who is not that good a reliever, he had a nice stretch in his mid to late 20's but he's now 32 and 3 seasons past his last good season. Now, I-Rod is not as good as Molina right now, but he's not that far off, in fact, he is considered a Type A free agent for this off-season, tied for 6th in the AL, compared to 5th in the NL for Molina, so I guess they are actually pretty comparable.

    Desperate team, and yet all the Tigers could get for I-Rod, despite being able to wait until the end of the season to try to get two draft picks for him, was a washed up reliever in Farnsworth. That's not what I would call a decent player, let alone prospect.

    If a desperate playoff contending team won't pony up for a departing Type A free agent, why would a team in the off-season be willing to pony up for him?

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  4. Acquiring high-priced, free agent pitching during the offseason is not the way I would go. Seems to fail more than it works.

    I believe the NL West is wide open between all teams, excluding the Padres, right now. How each of the remaining teams handles this offseason will dictate who is the favorite to win the division. Make the playoffs and anything can happen.

    Each player on the team is a commodity and therefore has a price. If the Yankees want to eat A Rod's contract and throw in a couple of blue-chip prospects to wrestle Tim Lincecum away from the Giants, you do it. Lincecum's value will never be higher than it is right now. As much as I would hate to see him go my point is that no one is untouchable.

    The Giants' goal this offseason should be to set their roster up to become a legitimate front runner for the 2009 NL West crown and to send a message to their fans that they are going to put a competitive, exciting team on the field in 2009 that people are going to want to pay good money to come watch during a time when going to see a baseball game will be considered a luxury.

    Already the team has shown its' seriousness by acquiring a reliever and a 2B ( unless I dreamed about the latter ). Their name is also mentioned regarding some high-priced talent out there, which could be considered a smoke-screen for the fans.

    I was listening to the coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers yesterday saying that if he looks ahead more than one game, that franchise is in trouble. He was referring to LeBron leaving in the future, etc. Although I believe you have to have some foresight when running a franchise, his statement does make sense. You can't spend every season looking into the future, wondering what prospects are going to stick with the big club. When are all the pieces going to come together.

    This team can win right now if the injury bug stays away and chemistry finds its' way into the 2009 clubhouse. By the same token, you don't want to just build your team for 2009 and not be looking at 2010. You want to feel that your team is going to begin each season with more than the average optomism that all clubs have each Spring. Your team is built to win every season and a minor tweak here and there will keep you near the top in late September.

    Draft well, scout well, buy low, sell high. Listen to all offers. Don't fall in love with your own prospects if someone out there loves them more. Reward your fans for their patronage by working 24/7 during the Fall and Winter and let the chips fall where they may in the Spring and Summer.

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  5. Actually my point is not that the Giants should try to be a contender in 2009. My point was that, if they are really serious about going after Sabathia, then they should go all in and try to be a contender. That's where the domino effect of moves come from.

    Moving Molina allows for salary relief, perhaps a decent prospect, and for Sandoval to play catcher. Moving Rowand and/or Winn provides salary relief, opens a spot for Nate and/or a cheaper alternative, and the compbined money can go out and buy a 3B (maybe 1 year of Beltre). You combine that with acquiring a middle of the order bat (which may require cashing in one of our plus prospects and/or Sanchez) and you have a relatively decent team with a better than average starting pitching staff.

    All that being said, I'm not convinced that is the way to go. A lot of thing s would have to fall right in order for that to pay off. In the long run, they might be better off biting the bullet and aim for 2010-11 contention. They are still too far away, I think. Posey & Villalona are still more than 2 years away, in my opinion, based on reports that I've read on their progress. So, going all in is a risky proposition.

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  6. Farmsystem, you don't seem to understand that point I've been trying to make with my Hey Neukom series and other posts: all players are not alike, you cannot just commoditize a player like Lincecum who is essentially irreplaceable in terms of what he can do to help your team in the playoffs.

    I would say the same about Cain, though he's obviously not as untouchable as Lincecum.

    So, no, you don't trade Lincecum under almost any circumstance, except perhaps getting the next Lincecum as part of the package, like if they gave us Hughes or Chamberlain also. But that is a huge risk to take when you already have Lincecum. That's trading, I believe, out of fear, much like signing all those free agents were out of fear, previously, they should have given, say, Feliz a chance instead of signing Alfonzo, or before that Aurilia instead of the string of SS.

    As I noted before, it is not offensive might that wins in the playoffs, it is pitching and defense, according to two independent studies, both The Hardball Times and Baseball Prospectus have found essentially that, using two different methods of investigating that issue. Offense is complementary to winning, not essential to winning, in the playoffs.

    While 2009 contention would be nice, it should not be at the cost of being contenders in 2010. That's when we will have a much firmer grasp of where we are in terms of our starting lineup and bullpen, and what we actually need to acquire on the free agent market.

    We have too many needs right now, why risk big-ticket free agency when, really, there are not any viable position impact player available other than Teixeira and he's expecting near A-Rod money - and he's not worth near A-Rod money, heck, even A-Rod isn't worth A-Rod money, not as a ballplayer, at least, he's over half the payroll of many teams, close to the payroll for some teams.

    And yes, you did dream about the 2B.

    Yes, you can't spend every season looking to the future, because that means you are rebuilding constantly. However, we ARE rebuilding and you don't want to short-circuit that process with too much free agency, we have players who have done enough in the minors to deserve the opportunity to show what they can do. 2009 should be for looking into that, winning a division should be secondary, though obviously they should at least aim to be better than they were in 2008, hopefully .500.

    However, getting Sabathia would make our rotation almost air-tight for the foreseeable future. It would be able to withstand both injury and poor performance.

    The team is not ready to compete wholeheartedly for the division title, though they might in 2009. It is like a child, she has to learn to use her arms and legs before she can crawl, she needs to master crawling before standing, she needs to master standing before walking, she needs to master walking, before running. Taking a shortcut in that process and jumping to running won't work and sets the child up for failure. Same with a team, same with this team.

    The rebuild is nearly done, but we still need one more year of it in 2009, particularly in the position player side.

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  7. OK Boof, I see my misunderstanding there. Then I disagree with your "going all in".

    Moving Molina is not going all in, you just sent away a plus catcher and weakened 3B by moving Sandoval to C.

    Buying Beltre doesn't do much for our offense plus would cost us prospects to get him from the Mariners, as well as money.

    Cashing in on our plus prospects would be necessary, specifically Bumgarner, to get that bat, but that would harm our potential for extending our future dominance by adding Bumgarner to the rotation. Plus, you then sold low on Sanchez because if he can pitch with an under 4 ERA in 2009, he should be enough in trade to get a plus bat for the middle of the lineup without sending away Bumgarner too.

    So I agree with you that this is not the way to go, going all in. And I basically agree with your last paragraph, that's basically what I've been saying all along, that 2009 is another rebuild year and we aim for being division contenders starting in 2010.

    Yeah, timing is probably more than 2 years off for both Posey and Villalona, but not much more, particularly for Posey. Posey has hit much better than I was hoping for in his short time professionally. He could be ready to hit in the majors by mid-season. But defensively, I think he'll need to spend 2009 working with Decker in AA and we go from there. Still, that would mean AAA in 2010, and starting in 2011 at that pace.

    Villalona did really well his last month. Got to remember that he was only 17 for 2008, playing against guys 3-5 years older than he on average. He'll probably spend all of 2009 at San Jose, but if he's still hitting in 2010 at AA Connecticut, he could jump to AAA then majors during that season, much like Sandoval, which would get him starting for us in 2011. But maybe the Giants will be patient and give him a year also in AAA before promoting to majors in 2012, of course, assuming he continues to progress. He could stumble on the way up.

    But for him to hold his own against people so much older than he is, and improve as the season worn on as he got more comfortable with living in the US and learned against his competition, it bodes well for his future advance to the majors.

    Remember, Villalona, despite his youth and inexperience prior to the 2008 season, still was ranked by Baseball America's top analysts in their Top 50 lists.

    Jim Callis had him 19th, just ahead of Jason Heyward at 20, and behind Jacoby Ellsbury at 16 and Matt Wieters at 15, and David Price at 12th.

    Will Lingo had him 42nd, just ahead of Geovany Soto at 47th and Joey Votto at 48th, and just behind Josh Vitters at 39th and Matt Antonelli at 41st.

    John Manuel had him 48th, just being Jair Jurrjens at 45th.

    Chris Kline had him 31st, just ahead of Jair Jurrjens at 37th, and behind Matt LaPorta at 27th, Mike Moustakas at 28th, and Josh Vitters at 30th.

    He should either hold that position or rise on each person's list for 2009, as he did very well there, particularly as the season went on.

    Players who are that good tend to move consistently upward, sometimes with jumps, like the D-backs Justin Upton, he became a regular at age 20, reached the majors at age 19. He was 18 when he was in A-ball (Angel was 17) and he hit about as well as Villalona, .263/.343/.413/.756 with 12 HR in 438 AB (37 AB/HR) and 96 strikeouts (22% strikeout rate) while Angel hit .263/.312/.435/.747 with 17 HR in 464 AB (27 AB/HR) and 118 strikeouts (25% strikeout rate).

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  8. By going all in, I meant the following (as an example - not necessarily the exact players): Trade Molina for prospect and salary relief. Same goes for Winn/Rowand. Package Sanchez and one or more plus prospects (Alderson, Bumgarner, etc.) in trade for Fielder & Hardy. Trade low grade prospect & pick up contract of Beltre.

    Now you're looking at a lineup of:

    Sandoval - C
    Fielder 1B
    Frandsen/Burriss 2B
    Hardy SS
    Beltre 3B
    Lewis LF
    Rowand/Winn - whoever's left - CF
    Schierholtz - RF

    Sabathia
    Lincecum
    Cain
    Zito
    ???

    The dump of Molina & Winn/Rowand would pay for 1 year of Beltre who would produce similar results to Molina, but provide excellent defense at 3B. Sandoval becomes a plus hitter at C with shaky defense. Salary has to be ramped up to pay for Sabathia, Fielder & Hardy, say in the neighborhood of$40M for the 3 of them.

    As you can see, a scenario like that would be (a) expensive, (b) risky (no guarantee it would pan out to be successful), (c) bad for the future.

    Signing Sabathia and committing the amount of dollars that it would take doesn't make sense if the Giants are going to continue to rebuild. It only makes sense to sign him if they immediately try to short fix their team to be competitive in Sabathia's prime years and while we still have control of Lincecum & Cain.

    It's a slippery slope, but it could be done (with the infusion of enough money). I'm not convinced it's the right strategy, however.

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  9. OK, I see where you are going now. I shouldn't try to work and comment here. :^)

    Yeah, that would be totally risky, as you just traded away our future pitching rotation should any of the following should happen:

    1) injury to Cain or Lincecum;
    2) decline by Cain or Lincecum;
    3) decision not to stay long-term with the Giants.

    Because the Brewers aren't going to hand us Fielder AND Hardy for Sanchez and Bumgarner, we probably have to throw in Alderson and other top prospects as well, mostly pitchers as they are in deep need for that.

    Plus just getting Beltre for one year means trying to win it all in 2009, as we probably wouldn't keep him longer than a year. I don't think the Mariners are giving him up for a low grade prospect either, not after getting burned by the Bedard trade.

    As you say and I agree, we should not be playing to win 2009 at all costs.

    However, I disagree that signing Sabathia would not make sense if the Giants are rebuilding. You cannot time when all your pieces come onto your team. You sometimes have to get them one or two years ahead of when you really need them in order to have them when you really need them. For the Giants we are talking about the 2010-2012 time frame, the prime of Cain and Lincecum, and when young players like Sandoval, Lewis, Posey, Bumgarner, Alderson, Gillaspie, Kieschnick, Villalona, hopefully are either in their prime or joining the majors.

    Still, I'm changing my stance a bit about Sabathia. Again, I would prefer not to sign anyone to a huge contract, but if the Giants are going to pursue a big free agent, I think they should be pursuing Mark Teixeira.

    I thought since Boras was his agent that he would be seeking a 10 year $25M per season contract, but according to one news account he is "only" looking for 6 years at $18-20M. That is roughly what the Giants is rumored to be offering for CC Sabathia. Given a choice between the two, as I'm sure any other Giants fan would do, I would chose Teixeira, as much as I drool over a rotation of Sabathia, Lincecum, Cain, Zito, and Sanchez.

    Plus, the Giants could try to boost the yearly numbers and reduce the years so that the player is not on the books that long. Furcal went that route, perhaps others can do that too.

    Still, I would be OK if the Giants don't do anything further this off-season. I am willing to endure another rebuilding season. And there could be some excitement this season because if the prospects hit like their MLE and/or major league small samples suggests, then we might have some players on hand who would be adequate starters for us, and that would lead to a .500 record, which should put us in contention most of the season, the NL West looks weak again, Rockies traded away Holliday, Dodgers are worried about Russell Martin and Loney had a down year, plus Padres are blowing themselves up, and the D-backs had a poor season and don't look like they will be significantly better in 2009, plus they are losing Hudson probably.

    ReplyDelete
  10. After doing a little research, I realize that my dream centered around Orlando Hudson. Frandsen would then compete for 3B.

    I can't believe that in mid-November of 2008 you are already looking past the entire 2009 season and setting your sites on 2010. If you are a bottom-feeder in a tough division that would be acceptable, but this is the NL West.

    This isn't the mid-sixties, when players were bound to a team forever, unless traded. Free agency and enormous contracts have created volatility and never before seen player movement.

    It took me over forty years to realize that you put a value on a player and if someone comes along and offers you twice his value, you make that deal if it means improving your team today and in the near future.

    ReplyDelete
  11. All you people can believe that there is some team out there willing to give "twice the value" for our pitchers and live the dream.

    I'm centered in the reality that teams are not really paying that much for players, Holliday, Swisher, Willingham, Olsen, others have been traded for nothing much in return, at least in my opinion (and the opinion of others, like there: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/2008-year-of-the-buyer/).

    It's like fantasizing about what you would do if you won $1M. I don't think anyone is offering a big package for any of our pitchers, plain and simple, so I think it's useless to speculate.

    And, in any case, I'm focused on winning in the playoffs and bringing in a World Series Championship eventually. Being competitive in 2009 doesn't interest me unless I think we have enough to go all the way.

    We don't and we won't with any of the free agents available on the market today, even Teixeira.

    And, as I've been trying to show in my blog, the key to maximizing your chances of winning in the playoffs is to build around a stellar starting rotation full of strikeout pitchers, a bullpen of strikeout artists, a productive closer, and a good defense.

    In baseball, even if you are the richest team by a wide margin, you cannot buy everything you need to dominate other teams, getting offense, defense, and pitching.

    So you have to pick your battles and focus on the key attributes of maximizing victory in the playoffs: strikeout pitchers, lock-down closer, and a great defense.

    Then you cobble together the offense that can win with the core players.

    Lincecum is a core player. Cain is a core player. Sanchez could be a core player, but at some point you have to sacrifice. I like him least of the three. Wilson looks to be a core player.

    All this talk about trading them to boost the offense is like a farmer selling off all his chickens in order to fix up the chicken coop: the chicken coop is useless if you don't have the chickens.

    There are some players essential and critical to winning and those that are complementary. Lincecum and Cain, I've been saying all along, is essential and critical to winning in the playoffs. Getting hitters is complementary. Yet a lot of people moan about the poor offense and how we should trade to fix it.

    Rebuilding takes time. Cutting it short in order to speed up the process rarely works. Pushing all in to win it all in 2009 would be cutting it short and would doom us to a cycle of wins and rebuilds, or worse, if the acquisitions don't work out, doom us to a decade of losing, like the Pirates, Royals, Brewers for a long while, Detroit.

    You either have patience or you don't. Many people don't. 2009 should be for rebuilding. Rushing it would only hurt our efforts in 2010 and beyond. I would rather have a long stretch of success than to try to grab the ring in 2009 and doom us to losing if it don't work out.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I agree we should do one of two things: Stand pat or go all in.

    Stand pat: do very litte movement in the way of big money free agents - maybe sign another reliever for a short term deal. ( Juan Cruz??) Let's evaluate the kids another year so we can have a better gauge of what we have and what we need. This being said, we should try and move Winn so we can see what Schierholz can do with a full season under his belt.

    Go all in: If we're seriously entertaining Furcal, or Hudson, then we need to complement them with a 4 hitter. Those two alone won't do anything. Let's go hard after Tex (unlikely) or Manny with a possible 4 year deal ( I know, very risky ) and sign CC too. Let's blow our payroll through the skies and make a run for it in 2009. Another stud pitcher, a #4 hitter, and a couple of decent table setters and there is no reason why this team won't be competitive in 09, esp in the NL west.

    Personally, I would prefer the first option and stand pat. I think our kids are stronger than we think. Although I wouldn't be too angry if they signed CC. Our rotation would be the envy of all of MLB.

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