Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year: A Reply to Anonymous Comments

I got two lovely comments left late last night by Anonymous (timestamp shows that both were by the same person) that I would like to respond to:

"This blog is horrible and so is your mother who sucked my c*ck last night."

Yeah, it is pretty horrible to some, but then, that's the beauty of the internet, I get to publish all the stuff I want and people are free to ignore it. Or not.

Also, you must feel really good because my mother was cremated.

"This blog is the worst Giants blog I have ever seen. It's so bad that I am seriously thinking about investing a few bucks into some bumper stickers that say "obsessivecompulsivegiants is a c*ck-sucking f*gg*t. For a free blow job, visit his lame ass blog" and then slap them on random cars in a Wal-mart parking lot."

Good luck on that because I find that most places cannot handle such a long name. I think you will probably need to get at least three bumper stickers to fit all that in. Actually, that's probably going to need four of them.

Please invest, though, the country needs people spending to get out of this economic funk.  Just spend all your savings and retirement funds and get 666 of those bumper stickers, that will jump-start somebody's business for a day.

And say "Hi" to everyone at MCC for me, thanks!

OGC Thoughts

These came in just before 1:30AM last night.  He was aware that what he does might get traced, as he used an unknown ISP to hide his tracks.

Apparently he likes to use Apple Macintosh: hey, we have something in common, I've loved Apple since it came out with an Apple 2. I still have my AppleFest t-shirt, it's still in pretty good condition considering its age and times I wore it. Good times.

And speaking of good times, wasn't it great about the Giants winning the 2010 World Series Championship? I still play my recordings of the calls (still brings a tear to my eye when Dave Fleming's voice cracks), I love the Michael Franti re-do of his song "Say Hey" into Giants oriented lyrics. And I still wear my World Series t-shirts almost every day (sometimes I have to meet people). My wife hates it when I wear the one with the big gaudy World Series ring on the front. And I see my Giants Championship memorabilia everyday in my office. The trophy sure looks so shiny and perty (found nice placard with photo quality picture of the trophy).

I will pray for your soul, anonymous, because you will need it. And I'm not even a religious person, but I'll make an exception for you and all like you who feel the need to post such filth.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes to all for a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The 2010 Giants Are the World Champions: Or Was it Just Luck?

I haven't written in a while.  Big part of it was work, but a strong part of it was that I was sad that there are a contingent of people who believes that Sabean should not get credit for the championship because he was lucky.  El Lefty Malo also picked up on that vein of thought and wrote about it on his great blog; it is a great post that rebuts that argument well.

My Thoughts

But my mind has been racing with various thoughts and so, here goes.

First of all, I would love for any of the Sabean Naysayers to go up to Aubrey Huff or Pat Burrell and tell them that they were lucky to win it all.  I think I would pay to see that.

Luck or Design

A baseball season is full of luck, from each pitch, each ball in play, each inning, each game, each season.   Anyone can easily pick out key elements of every season where if good luck did not happen, that team would have not have been champions.  As I've been writing all over, the naysayers have been exposing their colors by interpreting luck in their way and not giving Sabean much or any credit for winning the championship.

As I've commented around the blogosphere, I think we all can agree that the Giants would probably not have won had they not had their four pitchers, and if we ask all the Sabean Naysayers to raise their hand if they had proposed or agreed with the trade of any of our great young pitchers to get hitting, all of them would be raising their hands.  For all the talk about luck, they forget that it was not luck that the Giants retained all four starters, Sabean made that decision and clearly that was the main reason why the Giants won the championship, their pitching and fielding defense.  Even if we assume he was lucky in getting any particular member of the rotation, he still made the decision to keep them together.

Better Offense NOT Necessary

For all the bemoaning about the Giants lack of offense, while justified in terms of what they produce, none of the Naysayers have yet come to the realization that they were wrong:  a team could win with an offense as bad as that.  And I've been writing about this for years, I've pointed out how the D-gers in the 60's had lousy offenses and two main offensive superstars, Maury Wills and Tommy Davis.  Plus, as I noted in my baseball business plan, if you want to go saber all over that concept, Pythagorean shows the way:  when you have the best defense in terms of pitching and defense, you can win with one of the worse offenses in the league, dominate with only an average one.  And with the pitching taking another notch up with Bumgarner, they might be able to win even with a major league's worse offense.

So, these people say that the Giants cannot win it all unless they trade a pitcher for a good hitter, and yet when faced with the evidence that they were wrong, they chalk it all up to luck.

End of My Rope

I'm tired of all this.  Part of the reason I do what I do is that I don't like to see people suffer.  That's an extended discussion I had with Boof early in the 2010 season, and off and on previously, I try to see the team as it is and set my expectations appropriately.  So I can enjoy a .500 season knowing that they aren't that good anyway, kind of like having a kid you know is average but you love him/her anyway and set your expectations appropriately.  And I try to pass on my knowledge best as I can.

Am I always right?  No, I know I'm not.  Plenty of misses on the detailed nitty gritty.  FYI, I try to toe the balance between safe statements and one that are edgier because I took to heart a saying that you don't gain much by staying safe, you have to go to the edge sometimes.  People who want to get better need to take calculated risks to get better, and so I try.  So I can live with being wrong, that's just part of the "business" if you will, of taking stands on topics.

So if you want to point out stuff I got wrong, I'm sure I can fill a post - my standard length :^) - with my mistakes.  One that I remember vividly on MCC was when I repeated a post on the A's picking up Jerome Williams, not remembering that.  I had a good chuckle the first dozen or so times someone mocked me on that, I can laugh at myself, but the dozens of times after that, it gets really old, like, can you try something new?

But what has been my main thesis and theme all these years?  That Sabean has a plan - pitching, pitching, and more pitching, plus good fielding and some lightening speed.  And he has pretty much delivered on that plan, in spades.  And people call it luck, but the A's had their vaunted 4-Aces rotation (and Mets too) in the early 90's, yet both fizzled - very badly - while the Giants unvaunted rotation - if you look at most experts assessment of the Giants farm system by year, overall one would think that the team wasn't that good with their farm system. 

Cain was often rated below the other top pitching prospects of his time, and Lincecum, one expert would not have been surprised if he fell to the middle of the first round, he expected the Giants to pick up Daniel Bard, who fit his notion of what an ideal Giants pitching prospect looked like.  Sanchez wasn't on anyone's radar, and most did not think much of Bumgarner being selected as high as he was.

Yet they are arguably one of the best rotations in the majors since the Oriole's foursome in the late 60's, early 70's (late Pat Dobson, who was one of Sabean's closest advisors and confidant, was a part of that rotation, which I think is partly the reason why the Giants strategy is what it is).

So I wash my hands over the hand-wringing naysayers.  I realize now that they are what they are, and I can't change them, and as Boof advised, that's OK, we can have a difference in opinion. 

Moving on...

And be their miserable selves, for I really thought that a championship would change most of their opinions, that maybe they can let bygones be bygones, because Sabean succeeded where no one had before.  I mean, isn't this what all of us has been waiting for as Giants fans?  And he did it.  Yet these people can't let go of whatever it is that causes them to hate Sabean (and this depth of feeling is a hatred, as they are holding on hard to it, despite all the evidence against). 

I've been called sad and repugnant (and by the same blogger) for suggesting that these fans acknowledge that Sabean knew what he was doing and thank him for bringing us another World Series team, and now World Champions, after all, they all said that his strategy and plans would not work, and now we have wonderful evidence that they were wrong.  So what do you call people who cannot even acknowledge Sabean for bringing them what they say they have been waiting for all their lives as a Giants fan?

And knowing me, I know I'll probably get soft again and try to get someone to see the light again.  Probably not during this off-season, maybe mid-next season.  But I won't be so naive anymore and think that a World Series championship will change these people. 

2010's: Decade of the Giants

I still stand by my statement for this offseason.  With this core and talent coming up, the Giants should dominate for a good number of years, at minimum to the mid-10's.  And Neukom appears willing to let the payroll jump up to keep that core around for a while more beyond their free agent years and into the end of the 2010's.  At minimum, we control these players to these years:
  • Lincecum:  2013
  • Cain:  2012
  • J. Sanchez: 2012
  • Bumgarner:  2016
  • Wilson:  2013
  • Romo:  2014
  • Runzler:  2016
  • Sandoval:  2014
  • Posey:  2016
  • Belt: at least to 2017
  • Brown: at least to 2018
I'm sure many of them will get extended at least one year into their free agent years, Cain has already had one.

Then you complement them with vets filling in other positions, it is not like you need great players at those other positions, you just need to fill them with good average players and the offense will take care of itself.  Because with pitching and fielding so good, you can win with a lousy to average offense, thus resulting in a new offensive hero every game. 

Happy Holidays!

The Giants are the World Champs!  Woo Hoooooooo!!!  Let's do it again!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Giants Defense of NL West Division Title in 2011

I posted this in Fangraphs, thought I would share it here (hey, no tweaks for once!).  The author on Fangraphs noted the warning that I've seen other Giants fans harangue about:

This is the same lame analysis/excuses that I've seen the contingent of still active Sabean Naysayers espouse on: "but the Giants barely squeaked in."

After the Giants switched to Buster Posey as starter, the Giants won at a very high winning percentage for the rest of the season, around a 105-110 win season. With basically the same team they have right now.

Now they were hot initially, but using only second half stats, they were on a 98 win pace with Uribe the only missing player who played significant innings in the second half, and he only hit .244/.297/.441/.738, a hardly irreplaceable contribution, that is basically what Tejada hit for SD in second half. If you throw in Renteria and Guillen, that's .240/.305/.396/.701 and .266/.317/.375/.692, respectively.

And nobody hit out of their mind (http://www.baseball-reference.com/play-index/split_stats_team.cgi?full=1¶ms=half%7C2nd%20Half%7CSFG%7C2010%7Cbat%7CAB%7C), with Burrell .258/.363/.520/.883, Huff .284/.385/.462/.847, Posey .283/.340/.472/.812 leading the way among those with significant ABs in the second half.

And there are positives for improvement in the offense. First Sandoval is losing weight (15 pounds so far) working with a fitness firm that has worked with A-Rod and Barry Bonds and if you analyze his ups and downs in 2010, his downs were marked by his divorce/child custody battle and his nearly losing his mother to a massive gas explosion. He hit over 1000 OPS in April and ended the season's last two weeks with high 800 OPS. Second, Ross should be an improvement over Guillen/Rowand/Schierholtz in RF in second half, even with his down year overall, that trio was in the high 600 OPS. Third, Belt looks ready to reach majors by mid-season and provide a good lefty bat, both OBP and SLG, and plus defense at 1B.

Meanwhile, the starting pitching, while one outlier in Sanchez (2.61 ERA), that is balanced by another outlier in Lincecum (3.76 ERA; horrible August, new slider in Sept took care of that). Bumgarner (3.14 ERA) and Zito (4.70 ERA) both look to regress to each other (Zito has 4.09 ERA over 2009 and 2010, not worth his salary but that is still pretty good). And Cain (2.91 ERA) looks repeatable.

Overall, the pitching staff will be missing Moto and Ray, the two pitchers with the worse ERA in the second half (6.20 and 5.19 ERA, respectively). That should help balance regression on the part of Ramirez and Lopez. That leaves possible regression by Wilson, Romo, and Casilla.

Possible positives here too. First, Bumgarner was flashing mid-90 heat in the playoffs, so who is to say that one of the top pitching prospects of 2010 isn't that good. Second, Sanchez could have reached a new level of performance during the regular season that he could repeat in 2011 (3.47 ERA in first half still pretty good). Third, part of the reason Lincecum was hittable in August was because of poor conditioning in the off-season and in-season. Lesson learned, he probably won't do that again. Meanwhile, he picked up a new slider that enabled the weakened Lincecum to be a batting practice pitcher in August to become an outstanding Lincecum in Sept/Oct/Nov.

So lets recap. Team that won roughly at a 100 win rate after the ASG retains all key contributors and dropped 5 who did not contribute that much, replacing with players who look to be better or same. And that is with players contributing as a group basically what they should be contributing, nobody really out there with a plus performance without a counter-balancing player who could regress back up. In addition, there are possibilities for improvement for the season.

Meanwhile, LA basically has the same offense, with Uribe being their major add (but not one that look to push up production), but pending what they do at C (but Victor Martinez is already gone), has basically the same pitching, with Garland as the upgrade, and that same team was significantly under .500 in the second half (31-43) after losing Manny, and Uribe and Garland are their major upgrades? Really, they are going to get 11-12 games better with those additions? And they have no top prospects ready to reload, not on level of Brandon Belt at least.

Padres, once they are forced to trade A-Gon, they will be A-Gone from the top of the division. And if you look at the Giants record, if it wasn't for their lousy record against the Padres, they would have won going away. If they would have simply played .500 with SD, they would have had 95 wins and SD 87 wins.

Rockies I can see as the major competitor for the division title. But they were 34-40 in the second half with the team they had. They had a mind-blowing great first half from Ubaldo to get where they got, and they were still 9 games behind the Giants at the end. They get some wins for more games played by Tulo, but are they really going to make up the 9? And if the Giants are the new improved second half Giants, they would need to make up 15+ games. And they just traded away Olivo, one of their better hitters; are they ready to go all in with Ianetta now? Jose Lopez, though, could be a good boost, but again, we are talking 9-15 games to make up, he's not that good.

I won't declare the Giants prohibitive favorites, because you never know how injuries and poor performance crop up, but right now, I don't see how the other teams have made up the difference between them and the Giants at the end of the season. You have to like the Giants chances to win the NL West Division.

Great Giants Music Video: Michael Franti's "Say Hey" Giants Version

This is a great video montage of the Giants playoffs with a song sung by Michael Franti utilizing the music from his recent hit, "Say Hey", but using Giants in the lyrics.  Not sure how long the link will last (hopefully for eternity, it's a great song!), click it and it hopefully will open.  Enjoy!!!

Michael Franti's Giants Version of "Say Hey"

Thursday, December 02, 2010

2011 Arbitration Cases and Non-Tenders

The Giants decision on arbitrations tenders were released (Hank Schulman and Carl Steward).

As many expected, the Giants tendered outfielders Cody Ross and Andres Torres, starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez and relief pitchers Ramon Ramirez, Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez.  The Giants usually come to an agreement with almost every player that are arbitration eligible, so this is just a formality for that process to hold their rights on the players.  The only ones that I can remember going to arbitration was A.J. Pierzitski and, of course, they almost went to it with Tim Lincecum last off-season.

The Giants also announced that they signed Mike Fontenot to a one year contract.  Schulman reported that it was for slightly over $1M; I think that is about what he got last season, I thought he might get as high as $1.5M, but maybe he wants to stay.  Sabean noted that he would be getting some looks at SS and be a backup there as well as 2B.

Oddly enough, they also announced that Eugenio Velez was also non-tendered.  He was not arbitration eligible, according to the report, but apparently the Giants wanted the spot on the 40-man for other purposes. Shulman noted a number of factors in this decision: his 40-man spot, that he's out of options and not expected to make the team, even the raise he'd be due by rule if he cleared waivers and was sent to Fresno.

Schulman also reported that Ray and Velez might be re-signed to minor league deals.  I don't really see that happening.  Velez can see how crowded the OF and 2B is on the Giants (particularly once Belt pushes Huff to LF), and as much as he might want to stay, his agent should be advising him to look elsewhere.  Ray could like it enough to stay, but he's a former closer and he wasn't that bad last season, so I think there would be other teams interested in him.  Perhaps he and the Giants have a handshake deal to do this to open a spot to enable the Giants to add another free agent, as desired, with the understanding that they will work it out for him to be on 25-man to start 2011 season.  A signal for this would be a split contract with a minor league salary and a major league salary if he makes the team.  We'll see.

Burrell Back for 2011

As reported (Baggarly and Schulman) Pat Burrell returned to the Giants today by signing a contract with them.  The amount was not immediately known, but I would guess that it is probably in the $2-3M range, as it was made clear that he was returning in a reduced bench role.

Mychal Urban tweeted that there were significant incentives.  Basically, this allows the Giants to sign Burrell to a relatively cheap contract, but should he end up playing significant time on the field, he'll be justly rewarded for being a significant contributor.  I wonder if such a contract with Uribe would have saved the relationship and mitigate the hard feelings that Uribe apparently harbored against Giants management when he ditched the Giants.

Giants Thoughts

Glad that I could believe his words!  He said he wanted to come back late in the season as a bench player, and now it has come to pass.  His role will be like in 2010:  he'll get some regular ABs off the bench, and if any of the regulars are struggling or injured, he's our ace in the hole to start and hopefully bring up production.

Meanwhile, he and his buddy Aubrey Huff can enjoy another season together on the same team, as they dreamed about long ago when they were in college together (or perhaps it was after both made the majors), but in any case, it was a shared wish on the part of both to spend some time together on the same team before they retire.  And how better now that they won a World Series championship together on Burrell's childhood team that hadn't won in, like, forever, and Huff had a great time?

Looks like the 25-man roster is relatively complete now.  The question is whether they will keep all their arb players or not, with Chris Ray and Mike Fontenot the two possible non-tenders, as speculated by the local reporters.  Ray was put on the bubble because he was not on the playoff roster, but I think that was more because he was out on the DL for a while, and the bullpen was pretty set and functioning well in September.  I think they will keep him.

Fontenot, however, I would bet on being gone because the Giants need a MI utility guy who can play SS competently should anything happen to Tejada.  Burriss is probably up for that job and Sabean likes his vets (now maybe people can appreciate the vets more) and will probably get one to compete with Burriss.  They will probably keep an eye out on the non-tenders of the other teams as well.  They did contact his agent, so perhaps they were kicking the tires to see if he would be willing to accept a certain amount, which they would be willing to carry, knowing they might have to drop it at some point.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Uribe Unusual Usury Leads to Tejada Touching Down in Town

Not official yet until the physical, but the reporting (Baggarly, Schulman) is that Miguel Tejada has agreed to sign with the Giants for $6.5M (again originally tweeted by someone, tweets is now how news get released it seems, because of the immediacy; anyway tweet was a report of what Tejada said) .  The 'Dres reportedly was offered the chance to match the Giants offer but declined. 

Assuming he is OKed physically - the report is that it won't be done today - he is currently slotted to be the starting SS, as Bochy said he saw enough in September to convince him that Miggy can still handle the position despite his now limited range (his sure hands were noted in reports).  Schulman reported that Tejeda will act as a bridge to Brandon Crawford and Ehire Adrianza.  But it was also reported that he could end up the starting 3B should the Giants deem Sandoval unfit to start at 3B in 2011.

Sandoval Hard At Work to Keep 3B

However, Baggarly reported that Sandoval has already lost more than 10 pounds since the World Series ended, and for me, that's the only reason he won't start, if he don't lose the weight.  Baggarly also joked that this was before Thanksgiving dinner.  :^)  Haven't reported this, but it was reported by Baggarly about a week ago that Pablo changed his off-season plans again, and for the good:  instead of staying in SD near his home and working on getting his weight down, he is now going to experts in Arizona (as reported by Schulman).  Sandoval signed on with Triple Threat Performance (Tempe) and will work with them all winter, and the Giants have trainers who live in Arizona and thus will check in on him and be available to him as needed. 

I think that this is a very positive and serious move on Pablo's part to regain his Kung Fu Panda mojo back.  And this is a well known outfit too.  Clients have included Barry Bonds, A-Rod, Gary Sheffield, Mark Mulder, a number of other former Giants as well, which makes sense, there is a former Giants strength coach working there, so he has the connections to recruit players.  Lot of football players too, including Simeon Rice, Terrell Suggs, and Levi Jones.  I'm really impressed with what they say they do for professional athletes.  It appears that Sandoval is manning up to his words before that he wants to be great and is doing what it takes to reach that lofty goal.

I've been saying for a while that I think 2010 was a fluke and this is great evidence that he's serious about getting his body into the shape it needs to be in order to be the starting 3B for the World Champion Giants.  This is a long term project, not just a short-term one, to get his body into better and best shape and to stay healthy in the long run. 

As I've noted before, his hitting skills was still there in 2010, just in short bursts because of personal issues, issues that should not repeat in 2011.  Anybody who have seen his brilliant dashes to homeplate knows that underneath that body that screams "slow and plodding" is a great athlete, I've rarely seen any player score that deftly and precisely at home plate, usually it is the gazelle-like base-stealers.  Sandoval is the great player that he showed in 2008-9 and 2011 should be validation of that stance.

Juan Benedict Big-Bucks, Coming Up

Now here's the shocker:  in a big scoop, Hank "shaddup!" Schulman reported that Uribe actually turned down a similar contract from the Giants.  Reportedly, the Giants had matched the D-ger's 3 year, $20M offer when Colletti made a "take it or leave it" offer of 3 years, $21M over the weekend and Uribe took it, apparently without giving the Giants the chance to match that offer. 

Really, it only took $1M to buy Uribe and make him leave the Giants?  I guess he didn't leave his heart in SF, like Huff did. 

I see this as the Greg Minton syndrome, who was a great closer when not making the big money, OK reliever afterward.  He was really mad at the Giants because they battled on his salary every season, but once he got the big bucks, he wasn't as great as he was before.  I thought maybe he was just reaching the downside of his career, but he then joined the Angels after finally parting with the Giants and returned to the Moon-man Minton of old for a few more seasons.

For Uribe apparently wanted $25-27M, or at least was asking for that from the Giants, but given that he took far less from the D-gers, he only wanted that from the Giants because he felt that they owed him for what he did in 2009 and 2010 for the team at a reduced salary, as Schulman pointed out. 

And he made that clear in his press conference for his signing by what he wasn't saying, he often mentioned his affection for the Giants FANS but never once said anything about the Giants management.  Unlike Huff who repeatedly both during the season and after the playoffs talked about his appreciation of the Giants management who brought him in, grateful for a chance to play.  Unlike Uribe, who nobody was even willing to give a chance in 2008, he signed with the Giants on a minor league contract.  Maybe he should remember that if they didn't do that, he might not have had the chance to show the skills that now earned him a $21M contract. 

Still, really, $1M is all it took to steal him away from the Giants, when they already matched the $20M deal? And it sounds that way, Schulman reported that Sabean said, "He obviously wanted to be a Dodger more than he wanted to be a Giant.  He didn't give us a chance to keep pace (in negotiations)."  Which implies that he never went to the Giants and asked them to match the $21M. Is the game really that much of a business?

Not that I really wanted him at 3 years, $20M though.  I'm still happy he's gone, just happier now.  And apparently, while the Giants were probably willing to match the D-gers final offer (and did match the $20M), they had the same view of him as I did:  he's great as the super-utility guy who could play 2B/SS/3B, depending on need, but not a regular starter at SS.

And that could be the reason why he finally decided on the D-gers, because they are saying that he's the starting 2B for them and made that clear by trading away Ryan Theriot right after signing Uribe on the dotted line.  And I guess I can understand that motivation for moving on despite only $1M difference in offers (and likely matching if he had given the team a chance).

Still, it is the freaking D-gers he's moving on to, and had they offered him the $25-27M that he SAID he wanted (but apparently only wanted from the Giants), then at least we can say that we can understand, that this was a big chasm of money difference (and there were a lot of people tweeting that they understood why he took the $21M, because they didn't think the Giants would match that, particularly the 3 year part).  But when the player moves on for just $1M more, I don't care if the starting role might have been a key difference, that's just made it personal for me. 

Thanks for helping us win the World Championship Juan but DO let the door hit you while you're leaving, MEAT.  GAME ON!

Giants Implications

The report is that the Giants are not going to pursue any starting SS now that they have Tejada, though initially it was reported that they were still in on possible trades or signings (speaking of which, the rumor that Sabean was contacting Jeter's agent was true, only that he was only contacting in regards to Fontenot, another client of the agent).  I think that makes logical sense.  Tejada is obviously here as a starter.  If the Giants got another starting SS, then he would have to move to 3B, but then that would block Pablo.  Sandoval could then move to 1B, but then that would block Belt, who the Giants have committed to as a starting 1B, having ended the LF experiment (apparently didn't go well).

As much as the Sabean Naysayers might believe otherwise (and shockingly, winning the 2010 World Series Championship did not change many of their opinions of the GM, from what I've been reading; someone just tweeted that he's a "clown"), the Giants have been very good the past few years in leaving open (or now making open with Molina trade) the possibility of one of their young players/prospects coming up and winning a starting spot.  They have not blocked any substantial prospect from playing (it is mostly that many of the Naysayers have inflated opinions on what a substantial prospect is).  So I don't see the Giants doing anything to take 3B away from Sandoval or 1B away from Belt.

So, yeah, don't see the Giants getting another SS unless he signs for low money and battle Burriss for backup shortstop role.  But since the Giants have liked JJ Hardy from before, one would have to think that if he is non-tendered and made a free agent, Sabean will at least kick the tires and see if he would be willing to do the MI utility role for the Giants.  After all, Tejada will be 37 next season.

Neukom Coming Through with the Dead Presidents (though Hamilton and Franklin weren't)

Another implication which I haven't seen anywhere yet is that this is a sign that Neukom is coming through in OKing spending more money for baseball decisions.  He could have held back the Huff signing as that put the Giants in the $110M range, far beyond the mid to high $90M they had been spending in prior seasons. 

True, the playoffs probably gave them the extra money to push the envelope on salaries in 2011, but there is no guarantee that they will make the playoffs next season (no matter how good your team is, it all depends on the other teams in your division; see 60's for how that worked for the Giants) and with his salary, it will be at least in the $110M range both in 2011 and 2012 because of built in raises and probable arbitration raises, particularly for Lincecum (in fact, 2012 gets another big jump because of Lincecum, Wilson, and Sanchez but not big salaries coming off books; Rowand gone in 2013, Zito after 2013).

Now the Tejada signing pushes the budget up even higher, into the $115M range, and Neukom OKed that, as well.  That's roughly $20M more than the prior past few seasons and looks to get even bigger when the Giants eventually sign Lincecum to a long-term deal, then Posey. 

A further implication also not catpured is that had the Giants signed Uribe to a 3 year, $20-21M contract, they would have still been after a starting SS, since they viewed his role as best being the super-utility guy.  That would mean they might have still pursued SS Jason Barlett of the Rays, who they were rumored to be very hot and heavy over (of course, given the quickness of the Tejada signing, that could have just been the Rays pumping the action on Bartlett in the Hot Stove league).  Which means another $5-6M raise in the payroll to the $120M range.

Looks like the Giants are willing to eat into the operating profits that they were making before, and perhaps dip into the red a little.  Though, as Sabean noted after the Huff signing, they will have to shift some money around to make it work. Given that they got another draft pick with the Uribe signing, that seems to mean the Giants will spend less in the International free agent realm, where they had been spending big bucks previously.  Still, the Giants at least is spending the money on players and not losing players by not spending the big bucks. 

Belt Still on Fast Track

Chris Haft had a nice article snippet on Belt, Schulman too.  Both Sabean and Bochy are very high on Belt (and I've been saying here that don't be surprised to see Belt starting at 1B to start the season).  Bochy said, "I think this kid's going to make some noise in Spring Training."  Sabean said, "He's on the same track as Posey, which is very fast.  While we don't want to rush him, we want to keep an open mind.  When he's ready, he's going to be here and hopefully producing as a left-handed hitter in one of those spots."  Schulman noted that Belt will get a good look in spring training with an outside chance to win a big-league job.

The way I see it Huff will be starting at either 1B or LF.  So the battle will be between Belt at 1B and either Rowand or Schierholtz (or even Burrell, if re-signed) in LF.  I still think Burrell will be re-signed as a bench player.  They will only go to him if everyone else is scuffling.  It is hard for a player of his status to accept a bench role and I applaude him for wanting that just to be on his childhood team again.

I've been rooting for Schierholtz forever, but I don't see him having a breakout spring.  He had his chance last season and, really, the season before, but while he can get white-hot as a hitter for a month or so, then he either goes stone cold or gets injured (or both, apparently that's what happened in 2010 season early on).  Still, I'm rooting for him to do well and hopefully he will, but I'm not holding my breath.

I'm done hoping for Rowand to do something.  He's been like Schierholtz, only paid a heck of a lot better.  Obviously he willing to rest on his big money contract:  last season, realizing he needed to get in better shape, he rode a mountain bike every day during the off-season.  Meanwhile, Sandoval is going to fitness experts and getting himself into tip-top shape.  Hopefully he can learn from Huff and Sandoval, and perhaps earn some of his remaining money by getting in better shape, but I'm getting the feeling that he'll be just as happy to retire into the sunset riding his mountain bike.

That's why I think Belt has a good chance of breaking out of spring training as the starting 1B.  His hitting in 2010 has been at an elite level - a lot of Giants fans think they know what is good hitting, but they don't.  Belt, as I've shown in prior posts, hit at a level that only top prospects have hit in the leagues he was in for significant games, particularly for AA.  The numbers are deceiving in the minors, not many players hit as well in the majors than they did in the minors, the talent difference in pitching is that great.  That is why I think my method of comparison is better, taking the hitter's performance and looking in past seasons in the same league and seeing who hit that well at his age or younger.  And Belt was up there with what top prospects who did well eventually in the majors, like Pedroia and others.  It is just a matter of time.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Uribe Signing with D-gers: 3 years, $21M pending physical

The bad news is that the D-gers signed Juan Uribe to a reported/tweeted 3 year, $21M contract (see details at ExtraBaggs).  It is pending him passing the physical, so unless there is some bad news there, he should be bleeding D-ger blue next season.  I can't wish well to anyone who is a D-ger, though Juan is certainly a strong test case.  I don't blame him for going though, that's a lot of money and who knows whether he'll get another chance at such a contract.  He "only" made $4.25M with the Giants the past two seasons. That's 21 million different ways of happy. 

Still, this is probably up there with Johnny Damon going from the Red Sox to the Yankees, though worse because of the long history of the Uribe name in Giants history (Jose Uribe will always be THE Uribe for the Giants, unlike what AJ Pierzitski thought, that SF stole that from Chicago, what a historian he is; ironically, Jose is truly the player to be named later, as his name was Jose Gonzalez when we got him in trade for Jack Clark, the only player to have any eventual significance for us from the trade, but he decided to go with his mother's maiden name because there were so many Jose Gonzalezs already in pro baseball.  So it is only befitting because Jose Uribe is so unique, a one of a kind guy).

Giants Thoughts

The good news it that the Giants did not match the offer.  That's just too much for him for what the Giants need.  Juan's OK as a shortstop, but 2 years at $6M per at best, as reward for the 2010 season.  The extra year is just too rich for my blood and then you top it off by going to $7M.  No thank you, but thanks for a great 2010 season.  And I think D-ger fans will start "Boo"-ribaying him at some point because right-handed hitters do poorer HR-wise in D-ger Stadium, it is just harder for them to hit homers there (while easier for lefties). 

I think the Giants offense will be fine without Uribe in 2010.  The "Someone new everyday" offense will continue to function fine, in fact, it should even be better because 1) Bumgarner pitches full season (meaning even less offense needed to win), 2) Posey plays full season, 3) Ross here all season (meaning less Rowand), 4) Torres starts full season (meaning less Rowand), 5) Sandoval should return to Panda-mojo status, and 6) we already signed Huff back.  Torres, Franchez, Huff, Posey, Ross, Sandoval, plus OF and SS is a pretty good top of lineup, better if Burrell comes back as starting LF and hit as well, outstanding if Sandoval can reach 2010 levels of production.

And the pitching, which was basically MLB best (I think we ended up 2nd by barest of margins), should duplicate its 2010 season (or better).  Cain and Sanchez had great seasons, but any downside for them are balanced by Lincecum looking so dominant with his new slider and having Bumgarner instead of Wellemeyer for half a season;  Zito has pitched about the same the past two seasons, probably do about as well again. 

Plus, the bullpen should be even better, the Giants spent the first half of the season trying to find relievers who could deliver and only Casilla delivered outside of regulars Wilson and Romo, plus Affeldt was struggling.  Then Moto did OK, then Ray, and lastly Lopez and Ramirez were acquired, before Affeldt finally returned to 2009 goodness, and now the bullpen looks stellar with Wilson, Romo, Affeldt, Lopez, Casilla, and presumably Ray (former closer getting over surgery; could finally be healthy in 2011) and Ramirez (some speculate that one or the other might be non-tendered but I don't see that happening).

For SS, I've seen many names mentioned as possibilities, either signing or trading for, most noted in Baggerly:  Derek Jeter, Orlando Hudson, Miguel Tejada, Cesar Izturiz, JJ Hardy, Jason Barlett, others I've seen include Marco Scutaro and Jose Reyes.  Not that I think Crawford will ever be that great a shortstop, but I would rather not get anyone with big money attached, particularly in trade, because that would probably require the Giants giving up some talent, particularly pitching talent. 

The Giants are nicely loaded in pitching but it takes only one or two injuries or poor performances, particularly after pitching more innings than ever before in 2010 by going deep into the playoffs, to make the Giants scramble to replace pieces.  A trade of significant prospects would steal our depth, which is shallow right now (only Runzler is a possible backup starter for 2011 season right now) and would only get worse.  If we can get away with lesser prospects, though, I would be OK with that.

Therefore, I would prefer to sign a free agent SS (and some might be non-tendered, like Hardy and Barlett, and become free agents) on the low side, who can play good defense (like Barlett or Izturiz).  Hardy would be OK since he's like Uribe providing power from SS.  Luckily, in the lineup I described above, we don't need to get offense from the SS position as he would probably bat 8th and for most 8th place hitters, any offense is a plus, just not expected. 

And that is particularly so if Sandoval delivers as I expect him to, meaning a return to 2009 levels, and force his way up to the middle of the lineup (probably 5th), or if Belt delivers as I expect him to eventually, meaning something along the lines of Sandoval's 2008 or, dare we dream, 2009, which I think he's capable of, and which would push him also into consideration for middle of lineup duties.  Our lineup can be monster if Sandoval and Belt hits as I expect along with Huff and Posey in the middle, plus Torres up top.

Side Note:  Posey Awarded Again

Also today, Buster Posey was named to the 52nd Annual Topps Major League Rookie All-Star Team, after being named NL Rookie of the Year two weeks ago (which I forgot to note with a post).  He beat out Atlanta's Jason Heyward easily for the ROY award, gaining 20 first place votes to only 9 for Heyward, despite "only" playing for about 4 months of the season.  Buster was "humbled" by the recognition, befitting his modest and humble manner.  Makes you want to just give him a big hug and say "you big lug!"

He was on every ballot (each voters only gets to vote 1-2-3) except for one, who left him off because he did not play the full season (the guy actually voted for Gaby Sanchez for 1st; he even shafted Jason Heyward too).  Even if he weren't a Giants rookie, I don't see how one could do that, that's like saying quantity matters more than quality.  Luckily, that was just his personal code of conduct, the rules are actually quite vague about what to consider when awarding ROY.

Posey joins a list of Giants greats and very goods:  Willie Mays (1951), Orlando Cepeda (1958), Willie McCovey (1959), Juan Marichial (1962), John "the Count" Montefusco (1975), and Gary Mathews (1976).  He also became the first catcher to win a ROY award and a World Series championship in the same season. 

I loved this column by Gary Peterson of the Mercury (his column has been a welcome addition in the past year, I like his writing and this thoughts), here is an excerpt: 
Now, with the advantage of hindsight voters didn't have, it seems a no-brainer. Start with this: Posey became just the fifth National League Rookie of the Year to help his team win the World Series. And by help we mean:

Leading the Giants in hits in the first-round win over Atlanta; tying for second on the team with three RBIs in the NLCS dethroning of Philadelphia; batting .300 with a homer in the World Series; blocking balls in the dirt; throwing out would-be base stealers; acting as a reassuring, mature-beyond-his-years presence for Giants pitchers.

Unprecedented contributions from a rookie? You could make that argument. Fernando Valenzuela won three postseason games (one in the World Series) for the Dodgers in 1981. Dustin Pedroia, Derek Jeter and Chuck Knoblauch were in the thick of championship postseasons for the Red Sox, Yankees and Twins in 2007, 1996 and 1991.

But none of the above consistently batted third or cleanup. None was so intimately involved with every pitch of every game. Posey played every inning of the postseason. If you don't believe us, ask backup catcher Eli Whiteside. The only time he made it off the bench was for the end-of-series pig pile at the pitcher's mound.

There's a reason there are only nine catchers among the 128 players who have been honored as Rookie of the Year since 1947. Catching is tough stuff. To ask a young player to catch at an elite level for a championship team is just begging for trouble.

It got the Giants a shiny gold trophy.
I couldn't agree more.  Congrats to Buster Posey for his awards, clearly there will be many more in future seasons.  Amazing what leadership he's already providing, he said this at the SF Giants 2010 World Series Championship Celebration Parade and he repeated it when he spoke on winning the ROY:  “Let’s try to do it again next year.”  We Giants fans are truly blessed to have him on our team, leading our team. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving for 2010 Giants World Championship!

Lots to be thankful this year for Giants fans everyone with the Giants first World Championship in the City by the Bay!

Decade of 2010's Will be Known as Giants Decade

First of the 2010's to be sure, our core of young players look pretty good - Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner, Wilson, Romo, Posey, Sandoval, and hopefully soon Belt, Wheeler, Brown, maybe Runzler, Jones, Rosin, Neal, Surkamp, Stoffel, Culberson, Gillaspie, Crawford, Kieschnick, Noonan, Peguero, Joseph, Dominguez, Casilla, RafRod as well - and if Neukom can come through and bring in the dough necessary to keep the core around for a while (Hello A's:  we want a Coliseum full of dough backed up into AT&T for moving to San Jose).

Because with pitching like our's, if one fails you got the others to back him up.  That's something other teams can't do.  If their ace loses to our ace (and look at Lincecum's record with the Giants, he has beaten a lot more than he has lost to), then they are screwed if their #2 is not that good.  Even if they have a good #2, then they are up against Cain, who, while not as good as Lincecum in PQS DOM, took a step up to elite status in the past two seasons.  Then most teams falter at #3 and we have Sanchez, who while not consistently on a game by game basis, overall delivers more often than not in the DOM department.  And then even if they beat Sanchez, nobody's #4 is as good as Bumgarner.

Then during the regular season we'll have Zito contributing and he'll be great in the middle of the rotation, because as much as he's maligned by the Giants fanbase, he's a good pitcher, just not as good as his contract, but he helped us transition from the Bonds era to the F' Yeah era.  I'm very thankful for that.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Your 2011 Giants: Huff Re-signs for 2 years, $22M, plus option

Well, it looks like Huff's children are covered now.  :^)

I got this one totally wrong.  Or at least, it was more than I thought the Giants had to pay and more than I would have paid given that we had Brandon Belt in the wings.  But according to reports (Baggarly), the Giants matched an offer made by another team (that perhaps knew that the Giants had to match and thus made an offer that they figured the Giants would match).

What Huff got (Baggarly, Schulman, Haft) is a reported 2 years for $22M with a club option for a third year.  He gets $10M per year plus $2M buyout, or the team would pick up another $10M contract for third year.

I have seen Brian Murphy of KNBR's morning team tweet that it basically replaces Renteria's contract.  I proffered that if you include last year's $3M for him (a great bargain to be sure), it translates to a $23M contract for 3 years with a fourth year team option with $2M buyout, which is approximately what the Giants were going to pay Adam LaRoche (they offered 3 years at $21M) but that he turned down, thinking that they were going to negotiate further.  Sidenote:  I wonder if LaRoche would have accepted had he known that it was a take it or leave it deal?  Given that he signed soon with Arizona for much less money, it suggested that he had no other real interest on the part of other teams but thought he (or at least his agent thought) could play the Giants for more money, but got burned in the end.

Sabean also noted in the press conference that the Giants might not be able to keep all their arbitration eligible players now because the Giants spent so much money on Huff.  He noted the need to shuffle around money to be able to afford Huff (which is what he did in 2003 when he signed Michael Tucker to a contract early in order to lose a draft pick and not have to pay $1.5M in bonus).  He also noted that Uribe is seeing a lot of interest because he is being viewed as a viable option at 3B as well as SS.  Perhaps relatedly, he mentioned that he had spoken with the agent for a free agent SS.  Sabean also affirmed that Cody Ross will be kept and will be starting in 2011.

Giants Thoughts

To be clear, I am not comfortable with deals with mid-30's players for many years or a lot of money, particularly ones coming off a bad season, but I can see why the Giants might do that with the players they have signed and can see how they might rationalize that.  So don't kill the messenger.

That's why I thought the Giants deal for Huff was great last off-season, it was low cost, low risk, high reward and boy did he pay off big time. 

This new contract was a fair contract, in line with what players of his performance level is getting, given the economic climate and all that.  I really thought that he wouldn't get an offer this high given his age, his 2009 season, and his eccentric behavior and personality.  And there is some risk given these factors.

However, if he can perform closer to his 2008 and 2010 seasons and not close to his 2009 season, this contract is fair for both sides.  And I think that there is good odds that he can do this again, despite his age, and why 2010 was not as fluky as it might appear.

First, 2010 was the first season that Huff acknowledged Father Time and got into a fitness program to get into shape for the coming season.  He apparently took it very seriously and got himself into great shape, according to a former coach who was interviewed about Huff in the pre-season.  Hopefully this pays future dividends by convincing Rowand to step up from the lame mountain bike fitness program he got into last off-season and do something more serious.

Second, as I noted in a post about Huff last off-season, it was 2009 that was the fluky season, not 2008.  His batting ratios (K%, K/BB, BB%) were all within the boundaries of his career norms but it was his BABIP that was horribly bad.  In fact, his season with Baltimore, while bad for his career, wasn't horribly out of line for an off year, it was when he went to Detroit, where the park penalizes LH hitters a bit while Baltimore's Camden helps LH hitters.  In addition, by then, he was very unhappy with the team, said some nasty burn the bridge comments about the town/fans on the radio, which probably scared some teams off of him, causing him to fall to the Giants, and that probably contributed to his down season.  He should be still pretty happy in 2011 vs. 2009.

Third, his batting line for 2010 are not that out of line with his career either.  He has had OPS in this range 4 times before, albeit 3 times was in his mid-20's when he was in much better shape.  Still, he had a similarly good season in 2008, so two of his three last seasons have been very good (.912 and .891 OPS) and one was very bad (.694 OPS).  He has had ISO's this large 4 times before as well.  BABIP of .303 in 2010 vs. .293 for his career.

His Ratio Batting was in line with his career as well.  HR% of 3.9% vs. 3.8% for his career.  XBH% was right near his career average (9.9% vs. 9.5%).  Good K% of 13.6% as usual (13.2% career).  He did have his best year ever in BB% with 12.4% (10.0% prior high) so that was up there and probably drop.  LD% of 20% vs. 19% career.  HR/FB of 11.5% vs. career 10.2%, and he has been over 10.5% five times before.

So I'm OK with the deal, I think for marketing purposes, they had to sign him, as well as baseball reasons, as there were really no better alternatives for replacing his 2010's numbers other than getting him, because the alternatives would have costed just as much or more, and he has intangibles that the team saw in 2010 and values.  I can live with the big contract, more than with other signings, as he is actually coming off a good year and getting a fair contract (though slightly overpriced rather than discounted as I had hoped).

What Happens Next

Now, I wonder how this move dominoes.  First off, re-signing Uribe is probably unlikely right now.  He would need to sign a similar contract to before in order for the Giants to sign him and he's not going to do that or get that type of offers.  He should be getting numbers similar to Sanchez and DeRosa's 2 years for $12M.  I think the Giants will offer him arbitration and pick up a draft pick that way should he sign away, and if not, they get him for one year at probably a fair salary for just 2011.  But I don't see how he would accept arbitration, there should be better long-term offers on the table.

Second, this allows the Giants to give Belt more time to spend in the minors and hone his skills, something they were unable to do with Pablo in 2008-9 (not that he needed that, but perhaps he could have gotten on a better fitness plan in the meanwhile).  He could then do the Posey plan and come up mid-season, which would then push Huff to LF.

Thirdly, speaking of the outfield, the Giants are not really that set out there.  Torres appears to be a lock but he'll be 33 next season.  He's only one year younger than Huff!  So age could start to creep in, though I recall reading that players with his body type and skills tend to last longer and older.  Ross is slated to be the starter, but he's in similar straits as Huff was, he had fine seasons previously, but had a down year in 2010, much like Huff did in 2009.  Ross will be 30 in 2011.  Perhaps the Marlins losing got to him, but maybe it was time for his body to fail him.  So there is some question marks on him too.

The other potential starters are iffy too.  DeRosa was the starting LF at the start of 2010 but at this point, I think the Giants are hoping he can be the emergency starter at a number of positions, much like Uribe was in 2008 and 2009.  He can play 2B and 3B, as well as LF and RF, at high defensive value, probably could do it at 1B, and started out as a SS as a pro, so he could take a game or three there to rest the starter.  Schierholtz has had chances, and probably will be given a chance again in 2011, but I just don't see it happening, as much as I've been rooting for him to.  And Rowand I've written off as a bench player unless as I noted above, he takes his fitness seriously and earn CF back to start 2011 (with Ross in LF and Torres in RF).

Should there be too many performance failures in the OF in 2011, I can see the Giants moving Huff to LF and bringing up Belt at the first moment he appears ready to come up.  I think if 2010 was 2008, Belt would have been brought up much like Sandoval and Ishikawa was in 2008, and would have had a strong shot at winning the starting spot the next season, like them too.  I think he still has a shot, but he's going to have to prove that he belongs, rather than look pretty good, to win the 1B starting job.

Fourth, since Uribe is probably gone now for monetary reasons, the Giants are probably kicking the tires with free agent shortstops who are very good defensively but bad offensively in order to get a cheap starter for 2011.  Players like Adam Everett or Cesar Izturis (his brother is in the Giants minors).  They might also look into players they have been rumored to like, such as JJ Hardy (rumors is that he'll be non-tendered) and Jack Wilson (best bud with Franchez, but would have to be traded by Mariners).  Baggarly also mentioned that players such as Jose Reyes of Mets and Rollins of Phillies might be traded away, though I cannot imagine getting either without giving up a good prospect like Belt or Wheeler. 

Lastly, I think that this means that Burrell will eventually sign with the Giants.  Sabean noted that he would talk with Burrell after he settles some other business first.  That means that he hasn't been ruled out despite Huff signing and the current log-jam of OFs.  I think them being such good buddies, I don't see how Burrell would make it hard for the Giants to sign him as he would like to play with Huff once more. 

And he's already made it easy.  Despite starting most of the 2010 season for the Giants, he already said late in the season that he's willing to come back to the Giants in 2011 as a bench player.  That means he is saying he is willing to sign for low money just to play for the team, the Giants just need to ask.  And right now, the Giants could use low-cost players who could pay off big, like Huff and Burrell did in 2010.  Given the uncertainty in the OF, having Burrell around as backup, much like in 2010, he could step in should there be an injury or lack of performance, and it would be low risk since he won't be signing for much, if he is really a bench player.

Overall, as a fan, I'm happy about the move.  I am not happy about the price but accept it as a price of keeping him around and improving our chances of repeating in 2011.  Hopefully he can repeat similar hitting in 2011 and 2012.  If he can, the Giants have a great chance of making it into the playoffs again, then see where our pitching leads us next time.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

40 Man Changes: 3 Spots Left

The Giants just announced a few 40 man roster moves in anticipation of the Rule 5 Draft that will happen soon, here are the changes:
  • RHP Jose Casilla was added.
  • RHP Steve Edlefsen was added.
  • LHP Clayton Tanner was added.
  • 1B Brett Pill was outrighted to Triple-A Fresno
  • RHP Waldis Joaquin was placed on release waivers.
That left the team with 37 players on the 40 man roster, leaving space for 3 players. Given that the Giants are clearly pursuing Huff and Uribe, if they should achieve what they hope for, that would leave only one spot left, meaning that they would only be able to add Burrell or Renteria but not both, without needing to clear a spot on the roster if they want both players.

This last spot could also be for someone they hope to snag in the Rule 5 draft themselves.  They have been relatively active in that arena in recent seasons, though no one has stuck so far.  Some have looked good enough that other teams then snagged them, but the only one who appears to have some MLB hope is the pitcher the Giants drafted then returned, only for San Diego to pick him up and keep him on their roster, I think in 2009.  And still, the hope is not that great.

Still, this is very much like the amateur draft after the first couple of rounds.  Not very many of the players drafted via this process ever make the majors and stick, let alone be a regular starter.  But successful pickups like Johan Santana and Josh Hamilton (pick someone whose first name starts with a J?) means that teams will continue to participate and hope they find the right guy ready to take the big leap.  Kind of like the regular amateur draft.

When I find out who might be drafted away from us via the Rule 5 Draft, I'll post it.  If you know it, please post the link in the comments.

Here is what the linked article above mentioned on each player, I'll add comments:
  • Casilla, the younger brother of Giants reliever Santiago Casilla, finished 4-1 with a 1.16 ERA and 14 saves in 46 appearances. The 21-year-old made the South Atlantic League's midseason All-Star team.  
    • OGC:  from what I've read, he's even better than his older brother.  He did extremely well, despite being much younger than most players in the league.  He could be being groomed in case the Giants might have to let go of Wilson, depending on how much money he wants beyond arbitration.
  • Edlefsen, 25, was 7-2 with a 2.38 ERA and six saves in 49 relief appearances in his second season at Triple-A Fresno and was named a Pacific Coast League midseason All-Star.  
    • OGC:  If I recall right, he was named by BA as having the best slider in the system for a number of years now.  He hasn't risen as fast as I was hoping given his early hype when he turned pro, but he did very well in AAA in 2010.  Unfortunately for him, the Giants are currently full up on relievers, he'll probably be among the first choices the Giants consider if anyone is injured or need to be replaced due to poor performance in 2011 and probably will get a chance in 2012, I think a number of relievers are eligible for free agency then or arbitration.  
  • Tanner, 22, went 9-9 with a 3.68 ERA in 27 starts for Double-A Richmond in 2010. The graduate of De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., made the Eastern League midseason All-Star team and finished ninth in the league in ERA. 
    •  OGC:  I have been rooting for Tanner but he's the crafty lefty type of pitchers and those types of pitchers need to prove themselves at every level.  He'll have to prove himself in 2011 in AAA, then eventually the majors.  But he's done pretty well at each level and he's still prospect young, so there is plenty of hope.  But with the low K-rate, the odds will be long.  And we saw how Pucetas flamed out in AAA.  But I always have a soft spot for prospects with local ties.  Go Clayton!
  • Joaquin, 23, appeared in four games with the Giants this season, allowing six runs (five earned) in 4 2/3 innings. He spent most of the year with Triple-A Fresno and posted a 1-2 mark with a 4.93 ERA in 23 games, including five starts. He underwent lower back surgery on Nov. 10.  
    • OGC:  I was pretty shocked to see him being dropped until I saw the lower back surgery mentioned.  They took a calculated risk, dropping him off the 40-man to open up a spot, hoping nobody will want to take him while he's recovering from major surgery, and then they can tuck him back into the farm system while he recovers. He's still young and got a lot of speed and stuff, so there's still a chance. 
  • Pill, 26, batted .275 (143-for-520) with 34 doubles, 16 home runs and 84 RBIs at Fresno. 
    • OGC:  Some people were really clamoring for him after his good AA season in 2009, but they failed to account for the fact that he did it at age 25.  It was a nice season but Ishikawa had a much better season than Pill did in AA, it wasn't even close and he did it at a younger age, and yet did not get the hype I saw with Pill among fans.  I don't know if it was because Ishikawa started out with a lot of hope/hype due to his high bonus but then was a disappointment, then did finally broke out of it, while Pill wasn't on anyone's radar and suddenly had one good season, but I don't understand the difference in interest, particularly since Ishikawa has shown a lot more power, particularly HR power, and their fielding is probably equal.  It appears I was correct, Pill had a nondescript 2010 and was dropped.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Thoughts on Your 2011 Giants

I posted this on ELM's post regarding that Uggla trade, and it basically regards how I think the Giants will do in the 2011 season:

This is the flawed thinking [i.e. Giants barely got into playoffs in 2010] I've been seeing in discussions about the Giants. ajax covers changes that should make 2011 better [full year of FSanchez, Posey, Ross and even Torres]; I would also add two other big changes: Bumgarner full year, no Wellemeyer; and Kung Fu Panda's return.

The end of season is the result of the whole season's mix of talents but extrapolating that to 2011 is incorrect because of all these changes. The team was not static last season, as all the pundits have been saying when discussing the Giants 2010 season. The team at the end of the season is much different from the one we will have in 2011.

What some don't realize is that the Giants played at a roughly 100 win-rate since Posey took over the starting catching duties, and even elevated it in Sept/Oct/Nov to roughly 110 win-rate. If they do that over a season, they will win running away.

Of course, they probably will not play at that rate. The pitching can't possibly be that good over a whole season, can they? But even at a low 90 win rate, the Giants should be contending for a playoff position again.

Here is how I see why things will continue into 2011 from that ending to a playoff contending level. While pitchers probably won't be that great, Lincecum with his new slider will still be there, and should put in another Cy Young level season. Cain took another step in 2010 and I don't see him stepping back in 2011. Sanchez took a giant leap in 2010 and I don't expect him to go back either. And Bumgarner is like Posey's doppelganger: very young, yet very mature and very confident and talented. We'll have a full season of that.

Meanwhile, the bullpen will be greatly improved because we will have Lopez, Ramirez, Casilla, and Ray for a whole season. Plus, Affledt should not have as bad a season, he came around at the end when we needed him. And Romo will have another season under his belt and not be as inconsistent.

Our lineup, though, is probably where fans get off the bandwagon. Poor offense, blah, blah, blah. As I've been writing for years now, when you have a great defense (pitching, fielding) you can get into playoff contention with a crappy offense, even one as crappy as 2008 and 2009. For example, with last year's defense (3.6 RA), the 2008/9 offense would have legitimately won 88 games. And remember, 2011's defense should be better with 1) less Timmy hiccups, 2) more MadBum, less Wellemeyer, 3) better bullpen, 4) better fielding overall (Torres in CF, Ross in RF, Belt 1B).

And yes, I'm going there: I think Belt will be the starting 1B for most if not all of the 2011 season. His hitting in the minors and AFL, plus Sabean comments that they will move him up if he forces his way up, leads me to think that he will force his way up in spring training. He has shown the talent to do it, he seems to have the mentality to handle it, plus I have a bad feeling about Huff coming back, he might be gone. Even if Huff is here, he could move to LF and Belt 1B. I think a season like Pablo's 2009 is not out of the question for Belt.

That leads me to offense. We might lose Huff's great hitting at the end, but that was countered by how poorly Uribe hit at the end [Throw in Renteria too]. If we get them back great, but it won't be like replacing the two of their end of season production should be as hard, particularly if Belt comes up and hits like I think he can. Burrell was very good, but I think Ross can put up similar power numbers while providing much better defense [better than what Guillen did at the end of the season too]. Torres was actually pretty bad in September, either horrible or on the DL. He should be able to hit basically what he did in 2009-10 in a full season as a starter in 2011. Franchez should hit about the same while playing full season. Posey should hit about the same while playing a full season [remember, he "only" hit .283/.340/.472/.812 in the second half].

All that is about the same offense, and with that we still won a lot of games down the stretch. But, as I noted, the pitching definitely won't be at that high a level for a whole season (else, it'll be like we went back to the dead-ball era). I think the other big factor in the offense being good enough for us to win the division again is Pablo.

I think Pablo's 2010 season is misunderstood. First, yes, it was not like his 2009 season. But despite all his problems, his OPS was around that of the average 3B in the NL in 2010. So it wasn't like he fell into the abyss. Second, it wasn't like he stunk the whole season, despite what a lot of people have been writing. He was Panda in April. Then the divorce papers hit and he was crap until the All-Star Break, then he hit like the Panda again. Until he had to fly down to Venezuela to sign the papers, and then he had another downturn. Once he recovered from that, he was Panda again, until he nearly lost his mom in the San Bruno pipeline explosion and fire. Then he was Panda again, in the last two weeks of the season. Then he froze in the limelight of the playoffs and World Series.

So, was he bad? Yes, but not all the time, and except for the divorce papers being served (which we have no timeline for), his ups and downs in the 2010 season matches up with key emotionally charged events happening in his life, things that get regular people very depressed or upset, and they don't do their job so well [and tend to eat a lot].

He should be back to his Kung Fu Panda-ness in 2011, assuming he doesn't have other bad personal events happening during the season. His talent never went away in 2010, it clearly came up for air when his personal life wasn't spinning out of control. People carp on his weight, but many people eat and get fat when they are depressed and angry. And even at that, his UZR wasn't that bad in 2010, in fact, if I recall right, it was better than his 2009.

So he'll be back in 2011. He might not lose all the weight the Giants want, but his bat will be there and that will put him back in the lineup, the Giants don't really have a choice. They had their tough love speech to get his butt moving on working to lose weight, but if he's hitting like he did in 2009, there is no way they are sending him down to the minors. [At worse] He'll be like Miguel Cabrera, play 3B in short-term before shifting to 1B because of his size.  [But if he works at losing his weight - and his willingness to spend the offseason in San Diego, away from home in Venezuela and his baby girl, suggests that he will work diligently at it - he could be our 3B for the rest of the decade.]

And if his bat is back, that is something that will mitigate any drop in the pitching relative to the end of 2010. And the Giants should win the NL West division easily if he is back and everyone else performs around where they are expected to.

Additional Giants Thoughts

As I've been saying, the 2010's will be known as the Giant's decade.  They will make frequent runs at the championship, and should win more with the pitching that they have led by Buster Posey.  Young players like him, Sandoval, Belt, and Brown (Killer B's offense?) will make our offense better than what they were in the 2000's, the Oughts.

Will they do it again in 2011?  I don't think one can ever predict a World Series championship.  You need things to go your way to do that (like Burrell and Ross, then Brooks Conrad).

However, you can't win it if you don't make it into the playoffs.  The Giants have a team that should be competing for the NL West title again in 2011, if not win it, so I'm hopeful for 2011.  Like 2010, it will depend on young players (Belt, Sandoval, Posey, Bumgarner) to perform well, and you can't always rely on that from young players.  But I think that they will, as Nike advocates, just do it.

It is good timing too.  The D-gers, who looked like they might have a perennial pennant winner just a couple of years ago (and thus is a cautionary tale for our Giants today), have some key underperforming players (Loney, Martin; but really, based on what they did in the minors, they overperformed in their first MLB season then fell back to their talent level) and a pending D-vorce that should derail their ability to compete (see what happened to the 'Dres when their owner Moore got a divorce) once that is settled.

The D-backs are back-tracking and cutting salary (ironically dropping Adam LaRoche, who passed on a 3 year, $21M contract with the Giants, losing a lot of guaranteed money and potentially a World Series ring).  And the rumor is that they are shopping Justin Upton.  You don't do that if you are planning on trying to win the division title, that is the behavior of a team re-trenching and re-building.  They have a nice group of young pitchers, much like the 'Dres did in 2010, which to me is good news because while they pitched well in 2010, their minor league stats suggest that they are no where near the ace status that most of the Giants starters are at.  And you need that to compete consistently in the regular season, let alone playoffs.

Speaking of the 'Dres, with the rumors of A-Gon being a-gone during the off-season, I don't see how they are going to compete in 2011 if they trade him.  That might set them up for 2012, but, again, only Latos look ace worthy, the other pitchers will get exposed at some point or another.  And they don't really have many top prospects (overall) that look to boost them up soon.

That leaves the D-Rox.  Jimenez is not going to have another half season like 2010, but he will be very good. And Tulowitski will have a healthy season in 2011 (won't he?  He seems to get injured all the time, but appears to alternate, making 2011 a non-injury year).  Car-Gon looks to be the real deal (thanks for that idiotic trade, A's!), and unlike the other teams, they have a couple of nice young pitchers in Jimenez and Chacin.  Thus I see them as the Giant main competitor for the NL West title.

But the Giants have more pitchers and of greater quality, and the D-Rox's offense doesn't look that great beyond Tulo and Car-Gon.  And, after all, they only won 83 games last season, and it wasn't like they played great when Tulo was in the lineup or that poorly when he wasn't (around .500, so it was not like they fell off the cliff, and they had chances down the stretch).

So the Giants look pretty good for repeating in winning the NL West division title.  Not only do they look like they could be even better in 2011, but all the other teams look vulnerable and/or weak.

And once you get into the playoffs, our pitching will get a chance to dominate again.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Letter to the Mailbox: What Happened?

Long time reader, Allfrank noted in the comments that I'm no longer listed at MCC and asked me what happened.  As is my wont, my comment was too long and I didn't feel like chopping it up this time, so I'm posting it.  And, of course, adding to it.  :^)

Sad is as Sad Does

If I'm no longer listed at MCC, then that is probably over the dustup I had with them when I had the temerity to suggest that people who wanted Brian Sabean fired did not deserve to enjoy the success we had up to that point (that was after the NLCS) unless they come out with a mea culpa.

A number of people came out to blast me, including Grant, calling me "pretty sad".  What's sad is that people don't feel some responsibility for encouraging the firing of Sabean, of being the villagers with the pitchforks and fire, demanding satisfaction.  It is one thing to complain about his moves, which is what Grant did, another to encourage the firing of another human being, which I don't recall Grant doing but he sure reacted like he did.

So if they removed my link, that's OK, that's on them, I would never retaliate in kind.  Actually, I was afraid of being banned and having my account shut down, given the severity of the reaction, so just removing my link is actually a relief.  I do enjoy posting there.  Of course, I haven't checked in for a while, so who knows now about my account.  :^D

Responsibility

But if they are able to enjoy all that crap about firing Brian Sabean all these years when what he was doing was putting together the elements that led to our World Series championship, I don't see why I can not take a moment to voice my annoyance at all the people who openly advocated for his firing.  They had a problem with my timing, but when is the right time, all I would get is "Pollyanna" crap if I argued otherwise before and my argument would not have any legs to stand on until the Giants did really well, which they did to get into the World Series.

And not that I believe that we as fans have that sort of power to get someone fired:  but, particularly with a change in leadership from Magowan to Neukom, you can't really know what Neukom might do.  He might read all that crap and decided that it would be better to have a clean slate and fire everyone.  Before him, Magowan, if he's the egotist that some people paint him as (I doubt to that extent, but it's not like I know him either), might have reached the point where firing Sabean and gang might be the move to divert attention from him.  We don't know, owners have done weird things in the past (took over as manager, create a promotion that started a riot in the park, heck, almost anything Charlie O. Finley did as the owner of the A's).  I doubt that any of our crap gets our owner to fire someone, but then again, you never know.

And we do know some Giants people read these stuff.  Krukow mentioned reading comments at one site (I think it was Baggarly) and I would bet someone is assigned to judge the mood of the fans by reporting on general trends and stuff.  At least I would if I were the boss, it just makes sense to monitor the mood of the fans, particularly in the age of customer relationship management.  With a half billion dollar investment asset, you should be monitoring all avenues of discussion regarding your team.  You may have a great plan for fixing the team, but if the fans aren't coming out in the meanwhile, you can't pay your mortgage.

S.O.S.:  Save Our Sabean

As you know, Allfrank, I've been supportive of Sabean through all these years.  I waved my flag clearly and proudly particularly at MCC because I think that any Giants fan wanting to be near a lot of other Giants fans have to go there today (Baggarly and ELM too, and I think DrB will be one too).  I believe he had a plan and I explained the plan as best as I could, and I know that made me a pariah there, but as an analyst, when you "know" you are right, you have to go all in.  People don't pay you good money for touchie-feelie answers, they want something definitive.

And having a bit of the OCD, I can't do definitive unless I feel I had all my ducks in line.  I felt that I did and eventually captured much of that in my Giants business plan, so I was willing to put myself on the line, put myself out there, and support Sabean.  Because I felt that he had a plan that worked towards building a team that would not only get us to the playoffs, but to the World Series championship that we've all been waiting and hoping for all these years.

And I know that some people appreciated it.  I used to see comments out at MCC asking if I had something positive to say about a situation or just in general, because there was a lot of negativity there, negativity that eventually reduced my involvement there, because otherwise I would just spend my days and nights there stating my disagreement.  And a few people thanked me here.

Thankless Job But I Can't Help It, That's Me

And, to be absolutely and positively clear, I don't do this for thanks or recognition, though like anyone else, I appreciate it.  It is a bit of the OCD that drives me:  I can't stand not knowing where my Giants stand.  I'll support them when they are down, I'll cheer them when they are up, I just want to understand, the best that I can, where the Giants can be expected by the end of the season, and I set my hopes accordingly.  That gives me calm, relief.  If I expect them to be .500 then I would have a whole different perspective on how they are doing than if I expected them to be competing for the playoffs.

And I didn't want to be that blind fan that just doesn't see it, I hated that and didn't want that for myself.  First it was fans in the 70's who thought that the Giants were going to be OK, and even though I just started following baseball, and with no one really to guide me - my Dad was an immigrant who was not into professional sports - I was able to figure out that, no, they weren't.  But that was OK, they were my team, and I told my fellow Giants fans (few in the East Bay) that they were mediocre.

Then it was the fans in the 2000's, the woe-is-me band of blindly un-optimistic fans who inhabited the USENET (I remember Grant from there, but he wasn't one of them) and wore their pessimism as a badge of honor.  I analyzed the 2003 team and said that we were going to have a good season, and decided to post it there to see what others had to say about my analysis, and many of them ripped it to shreds, said no way the Giants are any good, look at the players they got, it'll never work!  They were the opposite end of the spectrum.

Not in it For Links
So if they removed my link, that's OK with me.  I've never asked anyone to reciprocate my linking them.   I've never gone to another website and ask if they would post my link there.  If I wanted "thousands of readers" I could have had that early on by taking the offer to write for another blog who had that audience already. That's not important to me.

That's why I avoid mentioning my blog when I post because I hate those who trumpet, "Hey, you know, good topic, I just happened to have released my take on the subject and I have a totally different take" or worse B.S., like I've seen someone actually go on-line under their Internet name and point out their article, which was written under their real name, and wrote "Hey, this is a pretty good article, you should go check it out."  Now that's pretty sad!  I only mention my blog when it relates to the research I already did and I didn't want to post another 10,000 word essay when I already had something on my blog.  But I try to avoid it as much as I can.  I chose to walk a different path, to the beat of a different drummer.

Responsibility to Show the Correct Light:  Fiat Lux!

I won't cater to those who want to throw bricks at people, just because they don't understand or care to understand.  It's really easy to criticize or make fun of someone if you take the easy route and focus on one thing or another.  Everybody will fail in one aspect or another.  If I am going to throw a brick, it will be after I've gone over the overall situation and made the assessment that this person must go.

We may just be nerds sitting in our mom's basement typing out this stuff but if I'm going to publicly advocate for the firing of someone, I think that there is a higher level of moral and ethical responsibility for whatever crap you throw out there onto the internet.  There must be some level of ethical behavior regarding that, it is one thing to say that someone is making a stupid move, another to say that he deserves to be fired. 

They are human too, you just need to have enough empathy as a human being and wonder how you would feel if someone said that about you publicly.  If I deserve to be fired, sure, I'm man enough to handle it, I've never avoided hearing the worse about myself, but I would want the criticism to be fair, educated, and logical.  I would want some insight into what I'm doing wrong, so that I can better myself.  Still, there must be some level of empathy for your fellow human beings when you post stuff like that, and some level of responsibility for what you put out there. 

And not that I think I "know it all".  I know I know a lot, but that's because I read a lot of news about the Giants and OCD enough to do that, I know not everyone is like me, so I wanted to share that knowledge with others who desire to know more about the Giants and baseball but are not so OCD.  Who like me want to have a realistic view of their team, the now World Champion San Francisco Giants (it'll never get old).  Who don't want to be lazy and take the easy way out and get the pitchforks out to slay the monster (in their mind) because they don't have the empathy to realize that you are attacking another human being publicly.  I wouldn't do that unless I have all my ducks in a row.  And so I try to read and learn all that I can, so that I can cogently write on my favorite subject: the San Francisco Giants.

So I try to illuminate my readers. And I want to be illuminated as well as to illuminate. Fiat Lux!

Ants

I know people think I'm weird but I'll share an insight into my mind and behavior.

I learned to admire ants when I was young.  The social structure, the collective working for one common goal, the sacrifice for the greater good, hard work, all for one and one for all.  (Don't care so much for them now that I'm a home owner :^)

When I'm writing, I feel I'm just one worker ant helping the Giants fan colony survive another winter, another season.  Do you want to be a lemming oblivious to the cliff you are led off of by others or do you want to be a realist and know where you stand, whether solid ground or quicksand?  I have chosen the latter path.

Why I Write

So if my link is gone, it's gone.  C'est la vie!  I didn't ask for it to be put there, and, no doubt, I was happy when it was put there; hey, I'm human.  And so there is some sadness, but I'll live.

But I don't write just so people can link to me, even the biggest and best Giants website.  And I don't write to agree with what everyone else is saying.  And I don't write to avoid the unplesant message, though I would try to lessen the pain of the message if possible (but if anyone rankles me, I'm going to give as good as I get). 

I write because I have an itch that I need to scratch.  I write because I want to know, to the best of my abilties, how well the Giants are doing and what they can be expected to do.  I write because I know something, something others don't.  I write because I want to share that something.  I write because I feel a kinship with my fellow Giants brethren and baseball fans in general. 

I hope that my sharing of my thoughts, knowledge, and analysis helps another Giants fan enjoy the Giants more and baseball more.  If anyone has, then I've succeeded.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Sabean-Bochy Post-Season Press Conference

CSN was kind enough to broadcast it on their website today.  I caught most of it (Thank you CSN!).  Baggarly has a nice rundown of the main points at his blog.
  • Wow, tough love indeed, threatening Pablo with the minors if he don't get into shape.  They also noted that he could be on the bench since he can handle 3B, 1B, and C.  I still think that he'll be the starting 3B in 2011, but then again, Jerome Williams never figured out how to keep his weight off and never had success in the majors again.  Lost in all this is that Pablo in the second half of 2010 hit better than the average 3B, so his hitting is still there in some ways.  And as I've been noting everyone, personal travails (divorce, child custody, mother near-death) coincide with all his slumps in the 2010 season.  I believe he can still hit like he did in 2009, if he can avoid the huge personal problems that would make anybody's work performance be less than usual.  And he would not be the first person to eat a lot while depressed or hurting.  Still, it would be better for him to get his eatting habits in check, and I think that he will.  Lots of fat guys in baseball history have hit well and played defense well enough to play, the question is his longevity in the game, I think.
  • Clearly Sabean couldn't commit to signing Huff, who knows if someone goes crazy and offer him a boatload of cash.  But I don't see anyone doing that.  I think the Thong thing will just turn off some GMs.  Others will see his 2009 season and wonder if 2010 was an aberration (though they might also see 2008 and wonder if 2009 is the aberration).  But if Baltimore was only willing to offer him 2 years at $16M three years ago, and in the current economic malaise we are in, I don't really see any team offering him more than 2 years at $6-7M per.  And that is something the Giants can match or get close enough (I think the Giants offer him 2 years at $12M like DeRosa and Sanchez) that Huff will sign for us.  We just have to wait the process out.
  • Uribe is a bigger question to me.  While his OPS wasn't that great in 2010, he did hit a lot of homers while providing flexibility backup at three positions.  I don't really see the Giants wanting to go more than $6M for one season, particularly with Emmanuel Burris, Brandon Crawford, and Charlie Culberson potentially ready by 2012.  There could be teams willing to finally sign him for a multi-year contract for more money to be their starting SS.
  • Renteria, not really covered here but in a prior blog post, might be a possible signing.  It sounds like he's willing to come back and be a backup player, and the Giants will explore that, Sabean said, because the free agent crop is not that great.  And who knows, maybe he's finally healthy and can play a full season if they don't find anyone else.  He could be the Huff signing for 2011.
  • The Giants are discussing Burrell, but Burrell in an interview late in the season said that he would be willing to come back to the Giants in 2011 and be a bench player.  Of course, that was his role when he joined the Giants in 2010 and he eventually became the starter.
  • Potential bench given these possibilities:  Whiteside, Ishikawa, DeRosa, Renteria, Burrell, Schierholtz.  That assumes, then, that Rowand is starting in CF with Ross in LF and Torres in RF (probably, given Torres speed).  However, that would mean holding 14 position players on the team during the season.  The Giants could consider that since all the starters could go deep in games, resulting in less use of the bullpen and thus less need for another arm.
  • It was noted that should the Giants look for free agents, left-handers would be a priority (Carl Crawford was alluded to by a reporter).  Right now, only lefty starters are Huff (assuming he signs), Sandoval (assuming he wins war with weight and bat), and Torres.  Looks like Ishikawa and Schierholtz are not being considered for a starting position.  Baggarly also noted that therefore Jason Werth would not be pursued.
  • Sabean noted something which he is known for "in a perfect world, I'd make changes that would allow for a more athletic lineup."  But he don't expect to find any.
  • While not committing to offering arbitration to all eight arbitration eligible players, they are interested in bringing all of them back:  J. Sanchez (maybe long-term contract finally?), Torres, Ramirez, Casilla, Ross, Lopez, Fontenot (he's probably not back if Renteria is back), and Ray.  Given this preference, the Giants forecast that their budget will be over $100M for the first time, and that does not include what they might pay to sign Huff and/or Uribe.
  • Sounds like the Giants will have most of their pitching back for 2011, mostly because they are already signed or are pre-arb:  Lincecum, Zito, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner (probable order, Bochy likes R/L/R/L), Wilson, Romo, Affeldt, Lopez, Ramirez, Casilla.  Mota was not mentioned among the free agents the Giants are pursuing.  I'm also not sure where Ray would fit in unless they go with a 12 man pitching staff, but then that brings into question what their bench will be.
  • From what I recall, someone mentioned asked about moving Zito or Rowand, and Sabean supported Zito, noting how valuable he was during the season by eatting up innings, but didn't go that far with Rowand.  There was a twitter rumor that the Phillies would be willing to take Rowand off the Giants hands if they paid most of his salary.  With two seasons left, the Giants might be willing to do that since they will have Burrell, DeRosa, and Schierholtz as backup OF and the bench is full.  This could be similar to the Livan situation where they paid off most of his salary, only for two seasons and about three times the total money.  But unless we get a nice prospect in return, I don't see the upside of that is.  Rowand could be on the bench instead while Burrell starts, I think there are a lot of mix and matching that Bochy can and will do if he could chose between Torres, Ross, Rowand, Burrell, Schierholtz and DeRosa.  Rowand is useful when he is hot, but if he's cold, then others can get starts.  I would bet that this is why Burrell offered to come back on the bench, he knew he could not necessarily come back if he were paid like a starter, because then what do the Giants do with Rowand, and he really wanted to return to the team (particularly if Huff returns).
There was also a Sabean interview on KNBR late in the afternoon, and he mentioned some of the prospects.  He noted that Brandon Belt is a possibility for coming up sometime in 2011, as he has done very well this season.  He also mentioned Zach Wheeler for the future, throwing out that they are not sure if he is a starter or reliever, which was shocking to me.  Normally don't pay that much bonus for a reliever but that's conventional wisdom, I suppose. 

He also mentioned what was announced the other day, that Dan Runzler will be converted to starting pitcher for 2011.  As El Lefty Malo has been noting at his website for a while, the Giants don't have any pitcher ready to take over if the worse case scenario happens and we lose one of our great starters.  Runzler could be one of the top ones to be promoted if he can successfully convert to starting.  I think another reason they are doing this is because he hasn't been able to stop walking guys, and sometimes teams would move the guy into starting to give him more practice in game conditions to improve on that. 

The Machine Unmasked and Exposed

I'll end with a big scoop that Brian Sabean gave on-air:  the Machine that Brian Wilson refers to (in various on-line videos of an interview to a leather fetish wearing man walking in the background) is the Giants left-fielder.  That presumably means Pat Burrell, because it certainly wasn't Mark DeRosa, Andres Torres, or Cody Ross (though I suppose Aubrey Huff could have that body type) and he was the starting left-fielder when the season ended.  I'm not going to link to the video, but it is all over, on Twitter, on YouTube, probably other places too.

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