Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sabean and Bochy Sign For Two Years Plus Option

The news has been reported by both Baggarly and Schulman, plus, of course, sfgiants.com by Chris Haft. Baggarly then blogged the details of the press conference.

Of course, I'm happy because I think Brian Sabean has put together a good foundation for a playoff competitive team over the next 5-8 years, and I think with further development by Posey and Bumgarner, plus Wheeler reaching his potential, that the team is poised to be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs every year, barring significant injuries to key players. He deserves the opportunity to see what he can do with the team he has put together.

Now, if only fans would be more patient with a rebuilding team, a potential masterpiece is in the making. The team is rebuilding nicely and have all the core pieces they need - plus extras - that should help propel the team to greater heights. We still need a few more pieces and hopefully Sabean can get or develop them.

Somebody commented mistakenly that following this plan guarantees anything. There are no guarantees, as King George has learned with his $200M payroll. However, as long as the players stay healthy and the top prospects develop as expected, the Giants should be in good shape and position for the next 5-8 years to win it all.

I think that is all you can reliably ask for, though, that said, if we don't win a World Series championship within this winning cycle, then I think it would be time to let Brian Sabean go. And he should be let go sooner if we are struggling to win a title, let alone get into the playoffs, within the years of his new contract. Because I'm not happy with Bochy, so that's on Sabean, and if Bochy screws things up, I would be OK with getting rid of Sabean in two years, and replacing the two of them. We need to see progress still with this contract for the two of them, and the first leg of this gaunlet starts now, with this off-season.

I don't really expect a middle of the order bat to come out of nowhere. My best bet previously was Jason Bay, but now I think he's going to be overpriced. I think Sabean will work at getting either a leadoff bat or a bat that is patient and can get on base a lot, both by hits and walks. Or possibly both. I think at least one will be by free agency.

I don't think that there is anything good available via trade, though a dump of a unwanted player (like Milton Bradley) could be a possibility, with the Giants taking on his whole contract without giving up much in prospects, as the trade off.

Because of the current bad batch of free agent hitters (i.e. no impact middle-lineup hitters), I think the Giants will do like last off-season and try to improve the pitching. So I think they will try to re-sign Penny for a year and, with the bad economy plus his poor year overall, he could agree to one with incentives that will be paid in future seasons (that would help the Giants with payroll this season to afford him). He seems to be a bad-ass and I think he would love to stick it to the D-gers by helping the Giants win the title in 2010. However, it is possible that a NL team might go multi-year with him and take him away. But if everyone is leary and go with one year, he should be ours, as the Giants indicated interest, but not money to do it.

And, now that the AFL roster appears to have been reconstituted because of the September call-ups - both Posey and Runzler are no longer on the roster - I take it that the Giants have seen enough of the two of them to determine what they are going to do with them next season. Runzler, clearly, is slated for the 25 man roster.

Also, Bochy has already noted that Posey could start if he does well in spring training, so I have to assume that they will sign a catcher to a one year contract, with that player fully understanding that the Buster Posey era could start at any minute. And all Posey has to do is keep up the good work during spring training and he is the starter.

That should mean that Bengie Molina should be gone for 2010. Whether we get any draft picks or not for him will depend on whether a team signs him before the deadline and give us two picks, as I don't think the Giants will offer him arbitration, as having him on the roster will 1) take up more payroll, a lot of payroll, meaning they can't get a pitcher or hitter they want more, and 2) having him would complicate thing with Posey, because at that much pay, he's probably playing most of the season, and Posey would just stay in AAA.

And I don't think that is good for the future of the Giants. Posey needs to spend a good part of 2010 in the majors, acclimating to the majors, the lifestyle, the pitchers, his pitchers, before he's ready to really contribute in 2011. Kind of like how Will Clark had his first season before really breaking out the next season. And if he is a fast learner and start contributing in 2010, all the better for us to do more damage in the playoff scramble.


  1. I don't disagree about your points on Molina & Posey, however, you better brace yourself for it not happening. Check out Ray Ratto's column in today's paper. If he is correct, it really sounds as if your boy is going to bring back Molina and let Posey play in the minors some more. Exhibit #248 on why bringing back Sabean & Bochy was a mistake.

  2. To say that they have all the core pieces necessary, you have to mean that they have a group of offensive players who are going to improve significantly in the coming years. I'm mystified who you could mean by that. There's Posey. There's Sandoval. That's just not enough, and there really isn't anything else. They're going to have to bring in outsiders to fill needs at one of the corner IF positions, both MI positions, and at least one corner OF position. To me that's not having all the core pieces necessary.

    Also, I can't believe you're suggesting that realistically that Wheeler and Lincecum will ever be important members of the same team. That's incredibly unlikely. The fact is, if Bumgarner doesn't take some significant steps forward in his development soon, then we may already have seen the height of this pitching staff, and there's not enough in the organization to lift the offense out of the depths of its mire.

  3. Next 5-8 years? 2016? What current pitchers will still be in SF in 8 years? 10 year vet Lincecum, 12 year vet Cain? Guessing that Wheeler will be a mainstay in 5-8 years is a stretch at this point.
    I'd agree that the expiring Zito in 5 is a good thing but to project any of the current crop of players, including the minors, any more than 2 or 3 years and say that the franchise has a good foundation is ridiculous.

  4. Boof, thanks for the reference to Ratto.

    I love Ratto's writing but I've never took his knowledge of the Giants to be that great.

    For example: there are no raises for Rowand, Renteria, Affeldt. The difference was their signing bonus, which made each year basically equal. That's $7M he got wrong right at the top.

    Also, as long as Sabean can make a strong baseball case to Neukom, at least according to published reports and Sabean's quotes, Neukom said that he will figure out where the money will come from.

    He also got the deferred contracts wrong, the latest CBA made sure to limit how much money can be deferred and protected players from teams defaulting by requiring pre-payments prior to the payment date (on a discounted basis, which in today's low interest world is essentially the same amount, just delayed) to ensure that the team will be able to fulfill their financial responsibilities to their players.

    He speculates that we would have to sign somebody to play C, not necessarily Molina, though he mentions him frequently, implying he's the target. But that's just his speculation, because he notes, "that could include trying to get Molina at a slightly lower price," and Molina has made it very clear that he expects to get a pay raise in his next contract, plus get multi-year.

    Of course, Aurilia thought he was going to get 4 years at $32M and we know how that worked out, but that's not how Sabean works. He's not going to wait until February or March to see if Molina is waiting there, contrite and happy to have any contract, he likes to move fast and ensure that we have somebody.

    Maybe Posey isn't ready to start at the beginning of the 2010 season, but if so then the Giants should be anticipating bringing up Posey in mid-2010, following the handling that the Orioles did with Matt Weiters. And that don't work with Molina or with multi-year contracts.

    The Giants should be looking to get someone like Gregg Zaun, who the Orioles got in 2009, knowing that Weiters would come up at some point, he signed for $2M plus option year. I've suggested maybe Jose Molina, as he's a great defensive catcher who could pass on some knowledge to Posey, plus maybe he can pick up stuff by watching him in action.

    He also thinks that a 16 game gain means that the team has to gain 16 games again, which would put the Giants at 104 wins. First, the Giants only needed 4 more wins to make the playoffs, so they dont' need 16 wins. Second, the D-gers were lucky this year, they will fall back to the pack, to where they were in 2008, mid-80's win range.

    In addition, I have not seen any sabermetric study that a team that improves a lot in one season most likely will regress the next season. What I've seen is that when the team makes the big leap in win but then has a large differential between their wins and pythagorean win, then they are likely to regress. Meaning that their improvement was not supported by their improved abilities to score runs and reduce runs allowed, that there would be a regression. But maybe I just misssed that study, if someone would point it out to me, I would appreciate it.

    So I don't buy all of Ratto's assertions in that article, particularly that Molina is coming back. They are going to sign a cheap replacement who will play the early part of the season until Posey is ready, or perhaps Posey is ready, in which case, he'll be an expensive backup catcher.

    And part of me wonders if the Giants might even go with Whiteside initially if Posey is not ready, since the team seemed to be happy with his defense on a short-term basis. He and Holm might make a good tandem since Holm has hit better and Whiteside has been excellent defensively.

    So no exhibit, just specious speculation on the part of Ratto.

  5. This has been the problem with Sabean all along. A forward thinking GM would've planned to develop some hitters to complement the wealth of young pitchers that we had in the pipeline. By the time these hitters ever get here (if they ever do), the pitching talent we have will be long gone.

    Of course, by that time, Neukom will give Sabean another 2 years to right that ship........

  6. Roger, we don't need a good offense to win with our pitching. Heck, we had the worse offense in the NL, basically, and still won 88 games.

    I think Sandoval and Posey would be great in the middle of our lineup. Add average hitters elsewhere - I'm hopeful that Franchez, Schierholtz, Rowand, Lewis/Bowker in LF, Renteria - can be average enough overall, plus Garkawa at 1B, to create an average offense.

    Just getting to 4.3 runs scored per game - which would still be pretty bad and below average - would get us to 92 wins with the pitching staff we had in 2009. And there are possibilities that we could improve there as well, Sanchez, Zito, #5 starter.

    The point is that we can win with a sub-par offense, a point that was made very clear with the results of this year.

    I showed how a team could do this in the pre-season in my Hey Series and am gratified to see it work out in reality and not in sabermetric theoretics.

    We don't know how things will work out, I admit that. I don't think that is out of the realm of possibilities, however. The Giants could decide to sign Lincecum long-term when the time comes, and he might decide to stick around. Wheeler is still far away, but he has a lot of good qualities for a pitcher. Tidrow also said the same thing about Wheeler as he did Bumgarner, that he will rise through the minors quickly, which would put him on a timetable to be part of the rotation in the 2013-2019 period, which is within the time we still control Lincecum.

    And as long as Lincecum and Cain stay healthy, I can see the Giants giving them Zito-like contracts to man the top of our rotation long into their free agent years.

    But what you say is also true, Bumgarner might not regain his velocity and we could see the height of the staff in the 2009-2011 period.

    So the team has to walk the line between the possibility that this is the best it can get and the possibility that the best is yet to come.

    Many (most?) Giants fans assume the worse, and given that premise, the right response is to damn the future, trade the hell out of the farm system to win today.

    I think you have to take it on a year by year basis, adjusting as prospects develop or not, as the case may be. I think you have to have some hopefulness for the future, that the scouts did their job and you got a player who can reach the heights that his draft position suggests.

    While it is not a slam dunk, nearly half the prospects drafted in the Top 5 draft, and while it dropps after that, there is still significant chance that the player can become a good player in the majors. Here, I give credit to the Giants for identifying pitching talent and boost their chances. Perhaps that is foolhardy, but I think that there is a reasonable chance of that happening.

  7. Givaus, I understand your position, but as I noted, I think you have to make some assumptions and plans then adjust as circumstances unfold. I think that there is a good chance of this happening right now. But, yeah, it might not.

    Strategies need to be looking in the long-term. Maybe the names might change, Wheeler may fail, but someone like a Jonathan Sanchez, Brian Wilson, Jeremy Accardo, Sergio Romo, might rise from the back rounds and take his place. Maybe nobody works out. Maybe a lot of people work out.

    But just assuming that everything will not work out is ridiculous too. There is a certain level of talent that we can make projections on. If they dont' work out, then you adjust your tactical plans.

  8. Boof, after all this time, you still don't understand that you have to make choices when you are dealing with back of the first round draft picks or even front of the first round picks.

    Nobody can develop a great offense and great pitching staff from the draft in short order (if you want to take 10+ years like the Rays did, your fans would not like that either). That is the fallacy that you and other people won't admit to.

    I've studied the draft, I know how tough it is to find talent, even in the first round, even in the first five picks overall. To blame Sabean for chosing to focus on pitching to the detriment of the offense shows that you don't understand that the draft does not allow you to be great in both, you have to make a choice, or, like most teams, they don't make a choice, so they have a jumble of good hitters and good pitchers, but neither are great.

    I think this is the best way to get to a World Series championship. You focus on pitching and supplement with free agents on the hitting side.

    If Magowan would have been future looking enough back a few years ago, we would have tried to sign someone like Carlos Beltran, someone young and good, to come here during the Bonds era, and bridge the two eras, Beltran could have been a key piece right now (or someone like him).

    Still, it won't take much to get to the playoffs. We just need average hitting but good defensively position players, and those are available on the market. Of course, it would be better to get a top line guy, but that's not really an option this off-season, but maybe next when Crawford hits the market.

  9. "we don't need a good offense to win with our pitching"

    So, we don't need to find a bat like Halliday, Bay or anybody else. All we had to do is resign Bengie Molina, Bob Howry, Brander Medders and Justin Miller. Then we'll wins more than 88 if we get another number five starter maybe like Brad Penny from FA. lol

  10. No, after all this time, you are the one that is not getting it. You continue to preach the "we don't need an offense to succeed" nonsense while this season should've proven to you that theory does not work. A succwsful team has balance between offense, defense & pitching.

  11. Anon, I never said we should resign those people. You did.

    I have shown sabermetrically how our team can win without a good offense. If you don't believe, fine, then you should not bother to read here because I apply a lot of sabermetric principles.

  12. Boof, we don't need a great offense or even a good offense to win. I've never said that there doesn't need to be a balance, you have been foisting that upon me with your comments.

    All I've said is that you need to start with a base of great pitching and defense, then add the hitting on top until you can win enough to get into the playoffs, then our chances are maximized to win there (not guaranteed, as you mistakenly thought) with the great pitching rotation.

    This season proved my theory, none of you thought the Giants could win with such a poor offense. You were all miserably wrong. Not only did they win, but they ended up with a better record than 22 other teams. That is great proof.

  13. That may be true.......if you're satisfied with a winning record, 3rd place, and missing the playoffs.

  14. "In addition, I have not seen any sabermetric study that a team that improves a lot in one season most likely will regress the next season. What I've seen is that when the team makes the big leap in win but then has a large differential between their wins and pythagorean win, then they are likely to regress."

    Yes, the Giants were in line with their first-order wins per Pythagenport. When we move to second-order wins, their win total drops to 82 and the Dodgers' win total spikes to 100. The Giants scored 32 more runs than their EQR, according to Baseball Prospectus.

    This is reason to worry. The Giants need to gain about 8 wins to match the Rockies, but if management believes we are an 88-win team, they may aim much lower, and we would likely have a worse record, other factors being equal.

  15. I find it amusing that those who are insisting on a "good offense" are also insisting on a "good balance".

    Guess that means the pitching/defense can get 10% worse, but if the offense gets 10% better, the Giants are doing great. Uh... no.

    The team needs a better offense, indeed - but if one actually reads the posts by OGC (they're right above), an average offense would've made the team exceed 92 wins. Pythagenport is a calculation with a high degree of correlation, not reality. The team is as likely to "regress" to 88 wins as it is to 82.

    And the choice isn't between signing all the all-stars in sight or not signing anybody. Get real.

  16. Boof, nobody said that we are satisfied with all that as the final product.

    However, the point you have missed all along is that this team is not the final product, that this is just the beginning.

    If you want to get mad when the baby is starting to walk, but ahead of its time, when you want it to run, that is your problem with improper expectations for the team as it is currently constituted. You and all the people who are unhappy with the Giants 2009 season.

    Thank goodness there was no open internet in 1986 when Will Clark and Robbie Thompson came up, the lot of you would have just ripped the team to shred and complained about how our top draft pick only hit 11 HR and didn't drive in that many runs, heck, even Jose Uribe had that many RBIs.

  17. dregarx, if you can explain second-order wins to me, you might persuade me. I'm familiar with the regular Pythagorean calculation, but, frankly, all the BP black box metrics leave me cold because the main way it is explained to me is "trust me".

    So, give me a layman explanation of how they get to a second order level p-wins so that I can understand the methodology involved with that and see if that makes sense to me.

  18. Sure.

    First-order wins (Pythagorean calculation) essentially normalize team wins based on run differential, right?

    Second-order wins is akin to that, normalizing team runs (scored and given up) based off of the batting lines of the team and the opponent.

    I could've given third-order wins, which are based off of strength of schedule, but for the Giants they are essentially the same (+/- .5 wins) as the second-order wins.

    Apparently the Giants were lucky this year with hits/walks being strung together; you can kind of see this in fangraphs to, because they had the worst team wOBA but were not 30th in runs scored.

  19. Wow, I'll have some of whatever you're smoking...

  20. Tynan, FYI, I don't smoke, I don't drink, the only vice I indulge in is I love the taste of fat, particularly if it is well done (and sometimes burnt, like on cha-siu, Chinese BBQ Pork), and will eat lots of it if tempted.

    However, my cholesterol was not only below the threshold for medical monitoring, but I had double the "good" cholesterol and was much under on the "bad" cholesterol, so I'm very good there, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone.

    I'm basically high on life, everyone tells me I'm thin (but I can pinch more than an inch), I never get hungry so I eat more to be social, I skip breakfast but rarely lacking for energy, I don't need much sleep, there's not enough hours in the day to do all the interesting things I would like to do, and I can still put in an all-nighter and be operating at 90-95% the next day, all day, and not feel like needing to go to sleep early, not bad for an old fart like me who is getting close to getting discounts for being "mature" (my wife is counting down the days :^).

    I also knew you were being facetious but just thought I would give an FYI since you brought it up.

  21. Thanks dregarx. I checked anyhow on Friday and while I'm OK with them modifying RS for luck, I'm not as comfortable with them modifying RA for luck, as Zito is a significant part of their rotation and what they calculate as luck is simply him being a crafty lefty who does not fall under DIPS.

    And if I had my druthers, I would also throw out Matt Cain's adjustments too, because he's been under the .300 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play, i.e. plays not decided by strikeouts or homeruns or walks/HBP) for 3 out of his full 4 seasons. Tango has shown that it takes 6-7 full seasons for a pitcher's BABIP to be established on a statistically significant basis, hence my hesitancy, but 3 out of 4 is pretty good so far (plus he was way under in 7 starts his first time in the majors).

    And they account for nearly 410 of the IP on the staff in 2009.

    In addition, while I have not seen any exhaustive study of the manager's effect on Pythagorean, from my checking of managers in recent seasons, there are managers who seem to have a positive effect on their team's +/- on the record vs. their Pythagorean, like LaRussa, Baker, Alou, Torres, and, yes, Bochy.

    Bochy, in his 15 seasons has a +15total, or +1 win per season on average. In those 15 years, he has had only 3 negative seasons but 8 positive seasons. And two of the negatives came when he first took over the club, his first season managing the Padres and first season managing the Giants. Once he has had some experience understanding the talent he had, he is a +23 in those 13 seasons, or roughly +2 wins per season.

    When I did a null hypothesis test on the +/- to see if the mean is zero, as sabermetrics states it should be, while it was not the normal 90-95% that one would want to see in school, many of them were in the 60-80% range, which is still a pretty good sign that certain managers do have some positive effects on a team.

    Thus far, Bochy in his career appears to have a strong positive effect on his team's overall record, particularly once he learns his personnel.

    However, BP's methodology would just record that as luck.

    Counting his +2 as 20 runs, that would put the Giants 2nd level adjustment at 85 wins. And adjusting the pitching, that, I would guess-timate as 1-2 wins, putting the Giants at 86-87 wins. So, some luck, but not a lot of luck.

    And that should be made up next year if Sandoval can hit for a full season like he did in his last four months. And since he clearly was learning the league as the season went on, and not the other way around, he looks prime to do that, make up for the shortfall in luck.

    Add a leadoff hitter like Chone Figgins via FA or maybe a nice middle bat like Xavier Nady (contrary to reports, he says that he'll be ready in spring training), and the probability that Jonathan Sanchez could pitch like he did in the second half for a full season (though that is balanced a bit by possible Zito regression), and the possibility that the Giants can convince Penny to pitch for them in 2010, and that should make up the difference between the Giants and Rockies.

  22. And while the D-gers are not "lucky" under Pythagorean methodology, they were most certainly lucky, in that both Hudson and Pierre hit much better than they had been hitting in recent years, Hudson for some reason hit great in D-ger Stadium, a noted pitchers park, and Pierre had his 3rd best season ever in OPS, .757, much above his OPS for his past 4 seasons, .680, .717, .685, and .655, not very good stats lately, so he was very lucky.

    And pitching. Do you really think Wolf is having a 3.23 ERA again? Or Weaver 3.65? Padilla 3.20 ERA? Garland 2.72 ERA? Sherrill 0.65 ERA? That's 400 innings.

    And, as Ratto noted in a recent column, with the owner's divorce from the CEO, that is usually not good for the team while that is beign battled over in court. It is the kids - the team - that suffers. The 'Dres had their own divorce issue a couple of years ago, resulting in a big drop in payroll, player sell-offs, and ultimately with owner force to sell off the team.

    The Giants should be in the mix again next season, maybe come up on top with nice free agent signing, a healthy Renteria and one of the young players taking RF by the horn and claiming it for himself.

  23. Yeah, why not bring on Xavier Nady? He's exactly the type of player that Sabean is bound to bring in, if history tells us anything. A declining veteran that will be signed to an expensive contract that he will never earn while, at the same time, wasting more financial resources that could be used better elsewhere. Yeah, that's the Sabean ticket.

  24. I would note that the EQR calcs have the Giants' adjusted RA as worse than their actual RA, so the difference is all in the hitting stats.

    A 32-run overperformance is probably more valuable than 3 wins for a team that scores and gives up so few runs, so that would account for the 6-run differential.

    If you only adjust for hitting and not pitching, the Giants' second-order wins are even lower, about 80.

    Accounting for Zito and Cain would bring us back to 82. I'll add the 2 wins from Bochy, that seems quite reasonable.

    So we have an 8-win disparity between the Giants and Rockies pre-offseason machinations.

    They'll certainly be in the mix, but with the addition of Posey and not Bumgarner in 2010, it would probably be a savvy move to eschew free agents and shoot for a 95+ win team in 2011.

  25. Pardon me, that's a 6-run disparity between the Giants (84) and the Rockies (90). I forgot to mention that of teams that did not win their division, the Braves (88.6), Marlins (83.2), and Cubs (84.9) all have more second-order wins than the Giants.

    They will be working to improve their teams as well. The Giants, if they go for it now, will have to leapfrog at least 4 teams, and that only for the chance at a World Series appearance against an AL pennant winner from a stronger league.

    I suggest patience this offseason for the Giants.



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