Wednesday, October 07, 2009

2009 Giants Post-Season Press Conference

The great Andy Baggarly posted his transcript for the 2009 Giants Post-Season Press Conference at his blog recently. Chris Haft just posted his transcripts, but with the actual questions asked, at his blog, but it is unclear whether he provided the whole Q&A session or just select questions, as I haven't compared his with Baggarly's yet.

I normally go through the transcripts and give my thoughts and opinions on each answer, but just too busy with work right now. But I wanted to link to both transcripts, just in case someone hasn't seen either yet.

I will try to write my usual stuff on this over the weekend, and otherwise will be quiet unless some big Giants news come out.

But here are some initial thoughts.

Typical Brian Sabean press conference: nothing really newsworthy, no blockbuster as usual, but some good hints as to 2010, like Freddy Sanchez most probably coming back, and the budget being about the same, and, of course, some defensive posturing, this time regarding Edgar Renteria.

Free Agency Pursuits

The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that the Giants will get someone to make a statement for next season. Sabean intimated that something has to be done, and free agency is the easiest route.

As I noted before Holliday is out of reach, and I've reached the point where I think Bay is out too. The more I look at Ankiel, the more I don't think we are going after him, particularly since Boras is his agent, I believe. But those are the only OF that makes any sense, powerwise and age-wise, though Gary Sheffield is available, but hasn't played a full season for years now.

An interesting option, however, is Mike Cameron, who is great defensively in the OF and has good pop in his bat, he hit 24 HR last season. The only issue is that he's 37 next season. Maybe Rowand would be willing to move to RF and let Cameron take CF, then Cameron could bat 3rd, making it Velez/Torres LF, Franchez 2B, Cameron CF, Pandoval 3B, Renteria SS, IshiGarko 1B, Rowand RF, FA C (or maybe Posey, in which case, he hits 6th and push down).

That brings us to 3B. Adrian Beltre could be one target, he's great defensively at 3B and has some pop in his bat, though not what we are looking for. Joe Crede is another one, though Boras is his agent too (Hmmm, Beltre too, now that I think of it). Chone Figgins can play 3B and the OF, so he could be an option: he could leadoff, since he has a lot of speed, plus play at a number of positions, 2B, 3B, LF, CF, allowing flexibility in where they play him while playing him full-time. There is also Miquel Tejada, he's been an RBI producer, but he hit pretty bad outside of Houston so I hope the Giants don't pursue him.

At 1B, the choice many would suggest is Hank Blalock. Just say NO! He is horrible outside of Texas. He can credit his ballpark for him making it to free agency, otherwise, he would have been sent down long ago. Nick Johnson and Adam LaRoche are nice options, but Johnson is very injury prone while LaRoche has benefited from good home parks, hitting less than 800 OPS on the road, which is OK if he was good defensively, but he isn't. Russell Branyan is an interesting choice, given his nice 2008, but he'll be 34 and I'll bet his defense isn't any good on the corners either. Carlos Delgado would fill the need but at 38, could have had his last good season already, plus was injured in 2009.

Actually, there are two other options in the OF: Bobby Abreu and Brian Giles. Sabean mentioned during the session that the Giants might have to go in another direction because there is not a lot of power options out there, meaning OBP. These are two very high OBP guys, and have enough power to bat 3rd in the lineup. Both are pretty old, though, and could decline in 2010, just like Cameron might.

Other options include DHers and former OFs, Vlad Guerrerro and Hideki Matsui. Both are old and declining, and probably not that good in the OF anymore. But both have been middle of the lineup hitters before, so they are also possibilities in the OF, just not likely. There are also Aubrey Huff and Jim Thome, but age and decline dooms Thome, and Huff isn't any good defensively, if I remember right.

So, really, there are no clearly good options in free agency for the Giants situation.

That means that Sabean might be forced to trade for someone, which at best means whoever he can get for Jonathan Sanchez, because I don't think Cain is going anywhere. Power hitters who are free agents after next season might be appealing: Garrett Atkins, Carl Crawford (assuming his option picked up this off-season), Derrek Lee, Carlos Pena, Ty Wigginton, Scott Rolen.

The latter two might be obtainable without giving up much, as both have big negatives, Wigginton plays poor defense and Rolen is injury prone. Lee might be easy because of age and they have some good prospects coming up on the corners (Fox and Vitters), so they might be happy to dump his salary and go younger and cheaper. I don't think Crawford is going anywhere with Ricciardo fired, they are probably not doing anything until a new GM comes in. Atkins has already been pushed aside by Ian Stewart, and Helton is still at 1B, but they probably would not want to deal him to another NL West team, particularly the one they will most probably be competing against in 2010.

Pena is a possibility, as we could give them Garko and a lot of other prospects, if they want to save some money (but have not heard that money is a problem, yet). I also heard that they are tired of BJ Upton's act, but would a Sanchez be enough to land him? Probably not, given that Sanchez is arbitration eligible.

All in all, nothing really obvious among the free agents, either signing or trading for. Sabean will have a tough job to make a truly positive change to the offense without giving up a lot.

16 comments:

  1. Oftentimes the low-profile moves have the most impact. Some players previously touted by their organizations that have now fallen out of favor are Mat Gamel, Kelly Johnson, and JJ Hardy.

    Do you see any of these players as good fits for the Giants long-term?

    If so, could any be had without giving up JSanch or solid prospects? My hypothetical is some combination of Velez, Bowker, Schierholtz, Sosa, Tanner, etc.

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  2. Crawford plays on the Rays, Riccardi worked for the Jays.

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  3. The list of "big name free agents" sure looks like something to avoid. As in, run screaming.

    I wonder if Sabean has the smarts to get a good "out of favor" guy.

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  4. Gamel is not going anywhere, so you can forget about him. The Brewers have already stated they're not trading him.

    The Brewers sent Hardy to the minors for a period this season to delay his arbitration qualification. The sole purpose here was to increase his trade value to other teams. He's probably available, but I suspect the asking price will be too high.

    Kelly Johnson is an interesting player who is "out of favor." He has some defensive deficiencies, but he may not command a high price tag. Realistically, the choice would be between him and FSanchez. We all know that Sabean is not going to admit his Alderson mistake, so FSanchez is coming back....make bank on it. Therefore, Kelly Johnson is not needed.

    BJ Upton is a player widely rumored to be "out of favor." The Rays are going to want real players for him. I suspect that JSanchez may not be enough for them. Upton has a lot of talent and is young. Would love to see him on the Giants patrolling CF instead of Rowand.

    Velez, Bowker, Schierholtz, etc. are not going to bring back real players back to the Giants in a trad scenario. Think about it for a minute......they're not good enough to play regularly for one of the worst offenses in baseball. Why would another team want one of them?

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  5. I realize that those three (with the possible exception of Bowker) are mediocre. I simply wanted to gauge their talent levels relative to these 3-4 players.

    If anything at all good can be found in exchange for several pieces of the logjam of mediocrity, Sabean should jump on it.

    But on the other hand, Sabean thinks Velez is a leadoff hitter; hopefully he's lying through his teeth as a ploy to raise trade value, because Velez has none of the on-base or base-stealing skills necessary to be more than a replacement-level (i.e. bad) leadoff hitter.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. Doesn't it just warm your heart that all these young, high-upside players are available now and we traded the perfect exchange chips away a couple of months ago for an beat-up aging player and an average 1B just hitting arbitration whose value is sapped by his horrible defense?

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  8. I'm on board with the idea of getting JJ Hardy and signing Beltre to play third. we can move pablo to 1st and renteria to 2nd. I don't think it's a good idea to bring Franchez back...What about trading for one of minnesota's extra OF? Span, Young, Cuddyer, Gomez, Kubel?

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  9. dregarx, where did you get the idea that either Barnes or Alderson were "high-upside" players? Don't believe the fanboy hype.

    Both Barnes and Alderson looked to be nice middle of rotation guys, and that was before the season. Alderson pretty much blew that up with his performance last season, and Barnes, while he pitched nicely in San Jose, that's still a long way to the majors and pitchers with stats like his in Advanced A are not automatic for the majors, let alone "high upside".

    You can't just read the pre-season rankings and still think that applies at the end of the season. Plus, for most teams, beyond their top 4, the vast majority never do more than a peep in the majors. It is just a nature of the beast. There was a good post by El Lefty Malo (check him out) about BP's Kevin Goldstein's statement that out of any farm system, any year, maybe 2 will become starters and 2 some sort of bench player/reliever (but my memory is bad sometimes, so go there and search for Goldstein). The tough part is that those 4 are not always your top 4, many fail to make the leap from good in AA or AAA to just making the majors.

    I like both trades in terms of value we got in return, but I didn't like either trade in terms of helping out the Giants in 2009's playoff chase. I think those trades might have cost us a few wins, because Ishikawa was out while Garko struggled and Franchez was injured. If we have both for 2010, I think we will be improved if Franchez is healthy and if Garko is platooned with Ishikawa at 1B.

    Garko's hitting isn't sapped by his defense, though its certainly reduced. His defense in 2008, according to Fielding Bible was just very slightly negative in runs.

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  10. Anon, I agree with Boof that getting JJ Hardy will be expensive to do, I think I saw their GM say that they are not available, so we would have to overpay.

    If Renteria is healthy - IF - then I'm OK with him at SS, he would be valuable then.

    I'm OK with Franchez if we sign him to a deal like he offered to the Pirates, 3 years at $20M, but not at $8M next year.

    I like the Twins extra OF, we reportedly was offered Gomez for Sanchez by the Mets a few years back - good thing Sabean knew what he got - but I don't know what they will want in return, Frandsen or Rohlinger plus a pitching prospect is about all I would go for, otherwise I think we would be overpaying.

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  11. You misread me.

    It would be possible to trade them for high-upside players, like Hardy/Johnson/Gamel. I'm not calling them high-upside themselves.

    Look, now that we don't have them as trade chips, there's a huge gap in trade value between a Bumgarner/Posey and a Tanner/Sosa. You have to admit that takes a big bite out of our trading options; our MiLB 'pitching depth' is reputation more than reality after this season.

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  12. You need to think the FSanchez trade through further.

    1) Could the Giants trade Sanchez now for a comparable prospect to Alderson? The information (end-of-year shoulder surgery) known now to all was known to both parties at the time of the trade. The current trade value of Sanchez, though, is far below that of Alderson, and that difference is extremely large compared to the production Sanchez gave us this season.
    2) The Pirates under Neal Huntington are undergoing full rebuild. If Huntington had been unable to trade Sanchez, he was not going to exercise the option, as evidenced by the contract offer with $/yr lower than the option in an All-Star season.
    3) You are "OK with Franchez if we sign him to a deal like he offered to the Pirates, 3 years at $20M, but not at $8M next year." There's the admission that Sanchez is not worth the value of the option. You would only accept the retention of Sanchez under a newly negotiated contract.
    4) Such a negotiated contract will nearly duplicate any contract that would have been negotiated with Sanchez in free agency had the trade never occurred; the option provides a small amount of leverage in that we can use it to keep control of him if negotiations break down, but at an undesirable price. If that price is so undesirable that we refuse to exercise the option, we will be at the exact same position that we would have been without trading Alderson.

    Thus, the marginal gain in losing Alderson is this season’s production plus the essentially nonexistent leverage of the option in the negotiation of a future contract.

    That marginal cost is multiples greater than the marginal gain. This trade is awe-inspiring in its one-sidedness.

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  13. OK, understood about the high-value.

    Let's take your premise that we don't trade Alderson to the Pirates for Franchez. Soon we will have a 21 year pitcher who can barely strike out anyone at AA. Yes, he's younger, but at a sub-5 K/9 rate, he's going to take at least a couple of years to figure out how to strike out batters at this level unless he has an epiphany this season (unlikely).

    That would make him a 23 year old in AAA still struggling to strike out batters. Then a 24-25 year old at the MLB level.

    His main value was as a very young pitcher ready to pitch soon in the majors, but that is no longer looking to be a strong possibility.

    Even with that, his top end value was only as a middle-rotation starter, but that is looking very suspect now too.

    In other words, he's not trade bait for high-value players, he is trade bait for another performance-challenged prospect, like an Andy Marte, or an old player that you need for only a year.

    Meanwhile, even if we sign Franchez to the $8M contract for 2010, if the trainers are right and he's healthy, at worse we can trade him away mid-season for a prospect or two, who are worth more than Alderson would be.

    FYI, 3 years at $20M is not market value, it was a discounted value that he offered Pittsburgh. He's above average at 2B when healthy, considering offense and defense.

    But that does not mean that a team will necessarily do that this off-season, with the bad economy and everything. It can go either way, he could get a really good contract but if the economy is still hurting, then he might get nothing. And some people will accept the bird in the hand versus the bird in the bush, and not go free agent.

    With his injury history, he sees what happened to a similar player to him in Orlando Hudson (but not as good a hitter), it would behoove him to negotiate now with the Giants and get a long-term contract, because Sabean's history is to move on if things don't work out, and he could end up with a one year contract around what Hudson got, late in the off-season.

    If any of the NY teams, or Boston, or LA really wanted him, he could easily get 3 years at much over $20M, but if the market is cold, he could end up with another one year contract. Same with another team, I'm not sure who is looking. But that doesn't mean he will necessarily get 3 years at $20M.

    And even if we keep him, and not trade him, then we should be able to get a draft pick or two for him, depending on how he does in 2010, and his overall ranking/rating.

    I think we got good value for a quickly declining prospect. $8M for Franchez would be OK, but I think we can get him to sign a discounted multi-year deal because of the bad economy and the leverage of the bird in the hand versus two in the bush. We would not necessarily have signed him to 3 years at $20M if there is another bidder, that is a risk there for the Giants in letting him go. There is a risk for him to walk away from us that he might get something like Hudson. Both sides limit their risk by negotiating now and getting it done.

    Alderson's value is pretty much blown away, particularly after his poor showing with Pittsburgh's AA club. Luckily, Pittsburgh needs all the middle rotation guys they can get, they can't even get them, let alone ace of staff caliber like Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner, maybe Wheeler.

    So I would posit that it is awe-inspiring in what the GIANTS got for what we gave up. Not quite a Jason Schmidt level steal, but if Sanchez is healthy (that was an issue with Schmidt too, BTW), then we got a great deal, value now instead of 3-5 years from now.

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  14. Um, yeah.

    Our net return was essentially ZERO; we are negotiating with Sanchez with a situation in which he is basically a free agent.

    In a parallel situation without a trade, we could have negotiated with any number of free agent middle infielders, including Sanchez, and gotten a player with the same worth/$.

    You are trying to tell me that this is OK, because Alderson has gotten so bad that 'TradeValueAlderson'=0.

    Look at the worst-case scenario for Alderson. In two years (2011), he enters a rotation and provides 5-starter production. Three years of a back-of-the-rotation starter at club-controlled cost: that is an asset of value, whether or not his potential to be a No. 2 has been blown away.

    So we lost that. And we gained next to nothing. This trade is easy to analyze.

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  15. "we got a great deal, value now instead of 3-5 years from now"

    We both know that Alderson will be a major leaguer in 1-3 years so don't pretend it's a possibility he'll make his debut as a 25-year old.

    I hope you realize the disconnect between your belief in the rebuilding status of the Giants (I concur with you on this subject) and your assertion that it is "a great deal" to get value "now" as opposed to "[1-3] years from now".

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