Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Very Late: 2009 Postseason Giants News Conference

I finally got some free time to type in what I had written almost two months ago. Some are dated - will Sabean/Bochy be re-hired? - but others are not, so I thought, why not? I'm following Andy Baggarly's transcript, and will note my comments with a "OGC:".

1. Bruce Bochy, on what the Giants accomplished...

OGC: That was one of the things I wanted the young players to experience, playing games when they mean that much more, particularly in the majors. As much as I would have liked them to make the playoffs, this is almost as good, maybe better, in that this should give them both experience as well as a hunger for more. If they had won, some might have rested on their laurels for the 2010 season, but now there is no excuse. And as noted, they also realize that those games they might not have performed at 100% early in the season can bite them in the end.

2. Brian Sabean, on his contract situation

OGC: Eh, given that they were resigned, just some spin on the situation. Clearly, the Giants had decided to do it, but like anything else, the hard part was getting both parties satisfied with the contract.

3. Sabean, on Molina

OGC: Clearly, the Giants are willing to go one year with Bengie but not more, and will be vying for his services. Comments since then has not changed that impression. Molina has said that he wants more than one year and he wants a raise, which Sabean has referred to other comments since and noted that he expected another team to offer multi-year to Molina. Hopefully someone with an unprotected pick, like Boston, would try to sign him. I would put the Red Sox and the Mets at the top of the list of pursuers.

4. Sabean on big bat

OGC: Some thought that it was a statement, but it does not say that Velez and Torres are the leadoff option, only questioning whether they are one, and negatively in my opinion. Does say they will look for a disciplined middle of lineup hitter who is less of a free swinger. Brian Giles (former Bochy player) would fit that bill, and Chone Figgins would do that plus be the leadoff guy too. The main point is that while Sabean states that free agency is going to be a challenge and trading a pitcher might not be prudent, he feels that he needs to do something to show the players that the Giants are serious about taking the next step.

5. Bochy on offensive philosophy

OGC: This is where The Giants Way manual should help, because we've been talking about improving bunting since Felipe Alou talked about the importance of that because of his failure to bunt in the 1962 World Series. As Carney Lansford noted, before he was let go, the hitters should konw all this stuff before making the majors - moving along runners, situational hitting, etc. - and hopefully his advice filled the chapter on hitting in the manual. He might not have been able to teach what he knew but it doesn't mean that he didn't have good knowledge to pass on. Still, since he's a Hriniak disciple, I'm glad he's gone. From the little bit about Hensley "Bam Bam" Muelens that I read in the aftermath of his hiring to be the new batting instructor, what he said he was going to teach to hitters reminded me of Ted Williams approach to hitting (which I love and adhered to when I played) so I'm very encouraged by his hiring.

6. Sabean on Bumgarner

OGC: Basically said that he thought that Bumgarner showed that he can do good things in the majors, but that to project what he could do in the majors would be folly and would take a lot of people saying that he's ready to get Sabean to rely on him in the rotation. I think that is for the best. We don't know why his velocity went down. Probably (hopefully), it was just the typical dead arm that afflicts many pitchers in their second year. Still, it was very encouraging that he could still get major league hitters out without his best stuff. So a year in AAA - following the Matt Cain plan - would do him a world of good, lets us be more confident of what we got when he makes the rotation in 2011. Plus, it would give Sanchez another year to prove himself as a starter as well, and if either he or Cain don't get extended by Spring 2011, they could be trade bait to get us another batter, with Bumgarner taking over his spot.

7. Sabean on Cain

OGC: Hint that the Giants are working on extending Cain. Not that they will come to agreement but at least they are thinking about it. Basically says that any hitter Sabean has talked with other teams about, the other team would want Cain (and his lower cost contract and longer length of contract) plus prospects for the hitter, who is either controlled for less years (including whatever the Giants think they can extend Cain for) or for more money or both. I love having Cain, I think he's a keeper, and having him and Lincecum atop our rotation for years is a good thing.

8. Bochy on Uribe

OGC: As much as people fell in love with Uribe (just like they fell in love with Winn when he started hitting again), he hasn't hit this well for a number of years now, basically we benefited from catching lightening in a bottle for a brief period. This should get him a really nice contract, so good luck to him, but we're better off letting him go if he's paid bigger money and for multi-years. I think Frandsen could outdo him going forward, as the utility guy for us.

9. Sabean on 2B if Sanchez isn't around

OGC: Moot point now that he is signed for two years. About as good as can be expected, contract-wise, gives us one less thing to worry about, and had he been on the open market or with another team, I think that he would have held out for more money from the Giants or probably signed with the other team, precluding the Giants signing him. Giving him or looking to free agency for a 2B (I would have been OK with Frandsen starting there but the Giants clearly weren't).

10. Sabean on $90M payroll

OGC: Sabean acknowledges that everyone sees the free agent list. Yeah, not attractive, as I've been talking about here. Best sign that he might not do anything in the free agent market. Not surprising that the payroll is about the same, with the shaky economy, that is prudent. People get mad about this but the Giants are paying out $20M for a mortgage plus has been contributing at least that much to the MLB fund that goes to poorer teams like the A's, paying around $30-50M per year, I would estimate.

Basically the same old, same old, as last season, similar budget but Neukom could OK a big purchase if it is a "compelling" situation. With the poor free agent market, I expect that to only happen if aonther team wants to dump a player (like Alex Rios was dumped) and all we would need to do is take on his salary and give up a prospect that they like but we don't. In any case, his recent statement that he feels the need to make a statement shows that he's serious about adding someone else, but as the AJ Pierzynski off-season showed, just because you want to add someone else does not mean that will work out.

In addition, in light of Lincecum's unprecedented second consecutive Cy Young, all bets are off on how much it will cost the Giants to keep him for 2010, and that will make a huge dent in what the Giants can do in signing free agents this off-season.

11. Sabean and Bochy on Posey

OGC: Good critique of Posey's defense and handling of the catching position. Sounds like they think that he is ready defensively, just not sure of his offense. And they both noted that Spring Training could play a hand in whether he starts 2010 in the majors or not.

He didn't do that well in the AFL, so that didn't help but did not necessarily hurt him either. I think the Giants are probably going the Orioles route and sign someone to hold the catching spot warm until they think that Posey is ready, someone like Zaun, whom the Orioles signed last year to keep things warm for Weiters. But if he impresses offensively in spring training, the seat could be his.

I would also note that I'm severely disappointed that Sabean didn't know that the stats in the PCL is not translatable to the majors. First, he should have known that by now, he has been in this position long enough. Second, even if he didn't know, then the reported "sabermetrician" that the Giants supposedly have in their hire should have known this, the Major League Equivalency (MLE) concept has been out for a long time now, from Bill James, and particularly from major publications like Baseball Prospectus and Baseball Forecaster. This is bad enough for me that he will have to really perform in these next two years for me to support him for extension beyond his current contract. Very disappointed.

12. Sabean on defensive deficiencies of a potent bat and the tangent

OGC: This was true last year too, just the deals didn't make sense. Not sure what he meant by waiting for the homer since the team was power challenged entering the season, and even with Sandoval's emergence, still challenged. The problem, to me, was that they were structured to rely on speed up top, but then Burriss then Lewis performed poorly and eventually weren't in the starting lineup (plus didn't show power Giants were hoping for), plus Velez also stunk things up too and was sent down too. Speed all gone.

13. Sabean on Velez

OGC: This statement clearly shows that Sabean is NOT committed to Velez/Torres as leadoff but implies that this is a possibility, depending on what happens during the off-season. As I noted in a recent post, there is really no spot on the bench for Velez, so he would really need to win a starting spot in LF if he's going to be with us in 2010, unless the Giants think that they can dump Torres and rely on either Bowker or Schierholtz to man CF competently for us in short stretches (or even Posey if we get a good backup catcher), which would open a spot for Velez on the bench.

14. Sabean on multi-year contracts

OGC: Question that had to be asked but ultimately, it's clear that Lincecum's agent (and thus Lincecum) wants record amounts of money and I would agree that this is the best route to take: find out what they want once arbitration figures are exchanged, then negotiate from there. And the point is moot now that Lincecum's agent now says that they are only negotiating a one year contract now (implying that the possibility of a multi-year extension is now gone).

And that's probably for the best. There is a clause that allows Lincecum to ask for money equal to current top pitchers, meaning Zito or even Sabathia money, so they could be looking for that much money. And if any long term contract is given, the Giants would not be able to insure that, but still Lincecum has not proven to be durable yet. So it would be best to go year to year now.

But if the Giants are unable to obtain a long-term contract and Lincecum has another monster year in 2010, he could become too expensive for the Giants to hold onto, and they might be forced to trade him to a team who can afford him, like the Yankees or Red Sox or Mets, maybe even the Cubs, depending on how much money their new owners have, plus I guess also the Angels.

15. Sabean on meeting Neukom's criteria

OGC: Clearly, he got the contract, so he must have met it.

16. Sabean on getting new deal

OGC: As noted, he got the contract, moot point.

17. Sabean on being longest tenured GM

OGC: Sabean-esque response, typical.

18. Sabean then Bochy on their rep for vets

OGC: He was being defensive, as he has since the Matt Williams trade. Still, that's his rap. But that stance has a logic behind it. Here is basically what the former President of the small company I worked for told me a little time after I had left the company: we should not have hired inexperienced programmers out of school, we sohuld have hired professionals who knew what they were doing.

That's the dilemma: do you go for the best or do you develop the young? I see people bemoan not going for the playoffs by playing the young, but the young are no panacea. The pros do generally do better and having that track record make them a better bet usually.

However, clearly Randy Winn was declining, his strikeout rate went way up to levels not seen since his rookie season, I would have played Schierholtz.

19. Sabean on Sandoval

OGC: Good question. I don't think Sandoval will ever be fit and trim, but he's probably never really tried either (nor have the money or support as he does now), with professional dieticians and trainers. I think that whatever the Giants dish out, Sandoval seems to be the type to shout, "More SIR!" He worked out all last off-season taking grounders at 3B (and that was of his own volition, I believe, though a Giants scout/coach was the one hitting the grounders), and now working on his overall fitness, so I know he will give it his all during his career to be the best that he can. And that's all you can really ask for, 100% effort. I look forward to seeing his Giants career unfold.

20. Sabean on whether any arb-eligible player could be non-tendered (Medders, Miller, Garko; I believe Miller has already been DFAed)

OGC: Sabean has mastered the art of saying nothing while saying a lot. He could have said this almost any other year too and to a variety of different questions.

21. Sabean on Penny

OGC: Have to say this. If he says Penny is a priority, Penny's agent will ask for more money. They key message is that he has not dismissed the idea of signing Penny. However, I think that the uncertainty over how much Lincecum will get will put the freeze on any Giants free agent signings, except perhaps a backup catcher.

22. Sabean on pitching staff

OGC: Exciting to konw that they are ultra competitive but anyone following Cain and Lincecum through their careers should know that already about them. Better to be that than to be one of those Zen pitchers who seemingly don't care.

There were also questions that Haft captured in his account:

23. Sabean on whether this team like the 86 Giants, which followed with a division winner.

OGC: Duh, Neukom already said that in 2008, saying that 2010 he expected the team to be competitive for the division title with the goal of winning the division.

24. Sabean on Lincecum's strengthening program

OGC: Good to hear that Lincecum understands that baseball needs to come first.

25. Sabean on Sandoval playing winter ball

OGC: What else can Sabean really say to a question worded like that? I think Sandoval will play winter ball so that he can prepare for 2010.


  1. I think Lincecum will get serious dollars through arbitration, though not what people think. Whether any pitcher is worth $23 million is another discussion, but for one year, the arbitrator will go pretty high, I'd guess wildly $18 million. But the thing is, to contend, the Giants need some star players, and star players cost. The excuse I see around about "this means the Giants can't sign anyone" is more indicative of the Giants' philosophy than of reality.

    I'm not in favor of trading any starter - I believe Cain, while probably never an ace, will be a solid number two for years. Realistically, while there's a lot of upside, anyone else in hand is a maybe yes/maybe no deal.

    I think I am with OGC in one sense - a first class leadoff hitter and things are in good shape. And... I saw a reference to the Giants' lack of character(s) - is it that bad an idea to sign Milton Bradley for a song? I have a sneaky feeling he's more vocal than he is wrong.

  2. I think the Giants will be in the low 10's and Lincecum in the high 10's. Flip of the coin how the arbitrator will see it.

    I don't want to trade either, but that is the situation we are in now.

    Milton Bradley is not a signing, we would have to trade someone for him, hopefully a Rowand, but the other team would probably want a good prospect in addition to Rowand.



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