Thursday, January 22, 2009

Another Great Giants Reporter Blog; Bay Bridge Baseball

Kudos to El Lefty Malo for turning me on to Bay Bridge Baseball, published by Jeff Fletcher, formerly of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat (best wishes for finding your next job!). His site covers both A's as well as Giants, but, of course, I link above only to the Giants side.

He had a great post here, where he interviewed Bobby Evans and it is chock full of questions and information that I would have asked (which, frankly, has been lacking in most interviews or Q&A with Giants execs that I had seen before). Of course, it helped that the questions came from his readers who left the question on one of his posts, but still, very good information at this link. I'll copy what I think is good information to pass on:
  • Some people have been agitating for the Giants to sign Hudson, but Evans says it is not going to happen, that they have three options they like, Frandsen, Burriss, and Velez. "We worked hard to develop those players, and we want to give them a chance."
  • About Pablo and hitting homers: "I think Pablo is very much aware of the kind of player he'll be, at least this year. We all know he has power potential, but his biggest tool is going to be the bat and not so much the power. The homers will come for him, but that won't be a focus." That's good, most players turn into bad hitters trying to swing for homers, look at McGwire, he was good at USC and first year with A's then basically became a Dave Kingman-type of all or nothing hitter.
  • About Pablo and 3B: "I think we're confident enough in him at third to have him as the leading candidate to play third for us. We'll evaluate him along with other options in spring training. We're confident enough at this point we haven't gone out and brought in anyone else to play third. Truth be known, we spent a lot of '08 focusing on him behind the plate, but his best position is still a great debate. What we do know is his bat fits in the lineup somewhere." He also noted that it would be nice if he is 3B, as that is a nice fit for the Giants. I'm sure we all totally agree with all this. :^)
  • Confidence in Ishikawa: "I think the highest level of confidence is that we have in him is defensively he'll be above major league average at first. The offense, at a major league level, is going to be an ongoing evaluation. He's shown us things in his development and progress that give us reason to believe he'll be a very capable offensive addition in bottom end of our lineup paying first base. Ultimately his progression offensively has gotten back on track. We're optimistic that he'll carry his load well over there."
  • Question whether there is any prospect better than Burriss at SS, like Brandon Crawford: "When you say 'better than' it's a hard question to answer. We like Brandon Crawford at short. We like Ehire Adrianza. We like Charlie Culberson at short, although he may profile at second as well. And Noonan can play short, but we like him more at second. But those are all solid."
  • About Nate Schierholtz in RF in 2010: "I think we'll find out a lot more about Nate Schierholtz in '09 in whatever role he has on this club. One of the goals of '09 is to know as much as we can about Nate so that we make the right decision going into 2010. How confident are we? We are as confident as we need to be right now, but we have whole year to evaluate." (NOTE: Schierholtz is out of options this year, and Bobby confirmed to me that means he will be on the team in some capacity, barring something unforeseen.) If the Giants give him enough chances, I think they will be confident enough to start him in 2010. At minimum, this hopefully means they are not entertaining any thought of signing Winn to an extension.
  • About where Bumgarner will be assigned: "He's got a chance to start in San Jose, but he also could make the Double A club. It's awful cold in Connecticut in April, so he might be better to start in San Jose and move later on... He'll be in minor league camp (in spring), but he'll have his time to visit with Randy Johnson and some big league players."
  • About Sanchez maybe relieving in 2009: "Back and forth between bullpen and starting is not necessarily in his best interest. At times it's been in the best interest of the organization's needs at the given time. That could happen again in '09, but no question it would benefit him to stay in one role and progress in that... His best shot to help the club is as a starter, but that's always a point of discussion with how things look this spring." That's bad news to me, with the silver lining that he saves his arm while Lowry builds up his value in order to be traded, allowing Sanchez to start for 3-4 months at the end of the season after Lowry is traded to a contender.
  • About Matt Downs going up and down: "Matt Downs is a very capable offensive player as well as defensively he can play a number of different places. Basically he was in a position where he played himself out of the Cal League and we wanted to advance him, but as the roster became jammed at Triple A, it made more sense for us to send him back to the Cal League where he could finish the season and complete what was a good year, as opposed to creating a spot at Double A where the roster was already full."
  • About EME: "Eddy is going to be in minor league camp with hope of making the Triple A club. Certainly last year he progressed with the bat, but didn't show the power he's shown in the past. Hopefully that will come back this spring and another year removed from having been injured, he'll hopefully play a role on the Triple A club this summer." Good to hear he has a chance for AAA, that would be best for evaluating him properly. He did show power last year, however, because, as I've documented, Dodd Stadium saps a hitter's power numbers, and his road numbers, while not as strong as previous seasons, does show a fair amount of power (roughly 35 AB/HR or about 15-20 HR season).


  1. Wow is the comparison of Mark McGwire to Dave Kingman offbase, Martin. Where even to begin, with a comparison of McGwire's career OPS+ 162 to Kingman's 115? McGwire's .588 career SLG to Kingman's .478, or the .394 to .302 OBP differential. I guess since you seem to be referring to BA in your comment, McGwire's career .263 mark compared to Kingman's .236 is a fairly significant divide.

    But the best rebuff might be to point out that contrary to your comment (he started out as a good hitter but turned into an all or nothing type) I might point out that the Batting trends of his career ran in the exact opposite direction. The worst BA of McGwire's career all came in the first six seasons, when he was battling constant foot injuries. That's when he put up the .201,.235, .231 seasons. Later in his career, his batting average tended much more towards the .300 line as he became a very patient, deadly basher (.312 in 1996, .299 in 1998, .278 in 1999, .305 in 2000).

    Other than their high arching HR balls, there is simply no point of comparison between those two players that doesn't lay highly, highly in McGwire's favor.

  2. Paulie said...

    Thank you. I am so sick of people comparing McGwire to Kingman. McGwire struck out a lot and had a low average, but he also walked a ton (Kingman was a low OBP waste) and had even more power. Kingman had exactly one MVP-level season; McGwire had several. McGwire was a pretty good fielder for the first part of his career; Kingman was eternally awful. McGwire is on a whole other planet and to make that comparison is completely disingenuous.

    Note: I removed Paulie's post because of his offensive associated photo (it involves a certain finger). I'm including his comments this time, but I won't be doing that every time.

  3. I'll admit that my memory was foggier regarding his latter day career results. After the 1994 strike, I didn't really pay that much attention to baseball until 1997, and I mainly just paid attention to the Giants until maybe the early 2000's.

    To my defense, he hit .289 in his first full season, then hit .260, .231, .235, .201, .268, and he was very healthy those years, he mostly played over 150 games plus nothing under 139 games.

    So him reaching a high batting average in 1996, 1998, 2000 is not so big a deal to me, because he was 23 years old and hit .289, then was mostly below that - and by a significant amount - looking at the rest of his career.

    Plus, according to current theory on hitting, BABIP is randomly distributed around his career BABIP. His BABIP was .297 in his first full season, which also happens to be about the mean BABIP for the average baseball player. But, in support of my theory, his BABIP plummeted to .260 for his career, suggesting that he started swinging for the fences, resulting in less hits.

    So maybe he started becoming a better hitter at the end of his career. But where did I say that he was exactly like Dave Kingman? In every way?

    No, I just pointed out that despite hitting well at USC and in his first season where he hit .289, he went hitting for homers, which he did, and he didn't really match the potential he showed in his first season, as evidenced by his career average of .268, which is rather pedestrian when compared to his .289 that he hit in his first season, which to steal from your argument, is quite a divide.

    And regarding the difference between him and Dave Kingman, I would add that while a jerk, Kingman was never associated with steroids, and the evidence is increasing about McGwire's usage. Who knows how much of his accomplishments are not driven by his alleged steroid derived physique?

  4. Some info I heard about JT Snow about one of our top prospects.

    In his years with the Giants in spring training, there has only been two hitters who could hit homers out of the park in a certain area of the ballpark. Barry Bonds was one, and he was in the middle of one of the best series of seasons in terms of hitting homers when he was doing it, in his mid-30's.

    Angel Villalona is the other, only he was only 17 years old and had not spent one full season in professional baseball yet.

    Admittedly, it was only batting practice, and there have been a lot of hitters who killed in batting practice but couldn't bring it to the real games.

    But Snow has seen a lot of players hit batting practice there over the years, and I would assume he saw opponents hitting as well on occasion, particularly the best HR hitters, just to see a show.

    Yet only Barry and Angel could do it. I am SO looking forward to Angel's 2009 season. With him in San Jose, I will have to make a point of seeing a few games with him playing there.

  5. Oops, I didn't realize that picture was attached to my blogger profile. Thanks for reposting my comment.

    Batting average is very overrated, especially involving players of McGwire's ilk. McGwire's value is in the walks and homers, and few players were better in history in those categories. The year he hit .201, though...yeah, he sucked. Even hitting in the .230's, though, he was an immensely valuable player. And I'm a guy who hated McGwire growing up!

  6. Juan Pierre career BA - .300

    Mark McGwire career BA - .263

    Pierre > McGwire!


  7. No problem, it was a good comment, so I wanted to leave it in.

    I understand that batting average is overrated; the sabermetric movement has shown that OBP is much more powerful.

    What I think gets lost is that there seems to be a wild swing too far over to the other side in reaction: batting average is still important, just not as important as OBP.

    I thought he was an immensely valuable player; I have followed his career ever since the Giants passed him up to select the immortal Alan Cockrell instead.

    My lament is to what he could have been. With that first season, it set up the possibility that he could be perennially a high .200, perhaps .300 hitter. Along with his walks, you can't tell me that isn't more valuable than someone who hits low 200 and walks the same amount. And I am not saying you are, just that it's obviously better.

    And, in 1987, he had a nice batting average most months: .250, .275, .304, .314, .212, .351. However, you could see him changing during the season. His K-rate was actually pretty good in May and June, after a horrid April when he was probably nervous as a new starter. But in July and August, they were pretty bad again, before being OK again in Sept (OK meaning around 20% where < 15% is ideal). However, his batting average started sinking and just got worse.

    Like I said before, I was only commenting that he appeared to pull a Dave Kingman and swing for HR at the expense of BA, I never said that they were the same type of player, I just focused on that one particular trait. And I thought he was miles away better than Kingman, who happened to be my first phenom, who will always hold a spot in my heart, you never forget your first phenom.

    I just thought McGwire could have been more than just a slugger had he worked at it, he had a great first full season, I was really excited about him as a player, even though I don't really care for the A's (nor hate them either, only by association with their fans).

    I didn't know this then, but if you look at his BB/K ratio, they were excellent and only got better, as his batting average sunk. With his ratio, he should have been hitting around .280-.285 for his career, and over a third of the hitters who had that ratio hit .300 in any season. Even with his poor contact rate (that is, poor strikeout rate), with his elevated walk rate, he should have been hitting in the .280 range, not end up with a career .263 BA.

    He had a chance to be one of the clear greats had he regularly hit over .280, but instead he started making outs instead and is now borderline for the Hall of Fame because of his possible steroids usage.

  8. Read a nice piece on Zito/Wilson on Here's the link:

    Also a nice piece on Frandsen:

  9. OGC,

    Apparently JT loves what AnVil brings to the table. Is it stretch that he will either start or end up in SJ this year?

  10. Ryan, it would be a huge shock to me if they leave him in Augusta. He hit better than the average hitter in the league despite being 3-4 years younger than most of the other players. PLUS, was up there in homers despite being that young (and that much less experienced).

    I'm pretty sure he's going to be in San Jose to start 2009, and if he can continue what he was doing in August, the last month of his season (.308/.363/.529/.892), he could get promoted to AA during the season.

    Besides, I want to see AnVil blast one out, I'm going to get tickets if he's playing there this season.

  11. OGC,
    I have not seen any video of him on the field (you have any links?), and I am curious about his mobility defensively. You have any insight on this?

  12. I am not aware of any recent video, particularly involving his fielding.

    What most reports I have seen about him is that his fielding is advanced and he should be good defensively (eventually) whether at 3B or 1B.

    The Giants allowed him to take balls at 3B during BP in 2008 and he sounds like he wants to play 3B, but it sounds like they are keeping him at 1B for 2009 and, given his size and growing girth, 1B is his eventual position according to most accounts. I have to assume the Giants are focused more on developing him offensively at the moment, with the assumption that since he is advanced defensively and still taking balls at both positions, this gives him position flexibility down the line if/when he makes the majors. If Sandoval takes hold of 3B, most probably the Giants would just stick AnVil at 1B, but if not, they might return AnVil to 3B once he reaches AA.

    He was our #1 prospect by most accounts in 2008 and his being #2 in 2009 reflects more that Bumgarner had a monster season, than disappointment with how he did. For example, not that he is an apples to apples comparison in terms of potential, but Justin Upton, a year older when in class A, hit .263/.343/.413/.756 with 12 HR in 438 AB (36.5 AB/HR), tied for 20th in the league for HR (average was .253/.325/.365/.690 with 61 AB/HR), and AnVil as a 17 YO (but different class A league) hit .263/.312/.435/.747 with 17 HR in 464 AB (27 AB/HR), tied for 12th in the league for HR (where average was .257/.325/.382/.707 with 49 AB/HR). So Justin was a bit better in OPS but AnVil was a lot better in hitting homers.

    Again, not that he is similar, but Miguel Cabrera was in Class A when he was 18 (and he didn't do as well as AnVil did at age 17 despite playing in lower leagues) and hit .268/.327/.382/.709 with 7 HR in 422 AB (60 AB/HR), tied for 56th in the league for HR (with a league average of .258/.323/.383/.706 with 51 AB/HR).

    But I assume there are other 18 YO who did well in the lower minors and who didn't go on to do really well in the majors, so don't take this to mean he is zooming to the majors like they did, but I think they are good touchstones for what he has to do going forward to show that he continues to be a similar caliber prospect.

  13. I should also note that Villalona being #1 in our system was not because we had poor prospects, as some Sabean Naysayers might think.

    He was also ranked among the Top 50 prospects overall by a number of Baseball America writers, BP had him 29th overall.

    BP noted that he's "universally considered to be the best hitter to come out of the Dominican Republic in years," and that "he's going to play his way off of third base pretty quickly, but with this kind of bat, it's not going to matter one bit."

    Deric McKamey of Minor League Baseball Analyst annual had him #29 out of 100 in 2008. He rated him as a plus defender and noted he's a "strong/athletic hitter with plus bat speed and power potential. Centers ball with good contact, which should give him a solid BA despite lackluster plate discipline. Arm strength, first-step quickness, and hands are all above average, and can be a top-notch defender." And remember, this was before 2008 season, when he was considered a future starting 3B by McKamey.



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