Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Giants Sign Uribe for One Year, $3.25M

As reported on Extra Baggs and The Splash, Juan Uribe has resigned with the Giants. Baggarly reported the $3.25M figure, no word if there was an option as rumored. Here are interesting tidbits from the press conference announcing the signing:
  • They will consider Uribe for the starting 3B position. Of course, they considered Dan Ortmeier for the starting 1B position too. I think they just said that to assuage Uribe's bruised ego over not getting a starting position.
  • He won't, however, be the starting SS, as Renteria will be that given his repaired elbow and his good history. Left unsaid, of course, is that if Renteria sucks again, he could find himself seated in favor of starting Uribe (assuming he's hitting OK).
  • Neither Sabean nor Bochy is comfortable with Velez/Torres in LF as the leadoff solution. I've been saying this for a while already, but good to get it confirmed. Sabean said as much in his previous interviews, he was never stating that they would be the lead-off solution, he was only stating that they were one of the current solution available to them.
  • Speaking of lead-off, they are reconsidering Aaron Rowand for leadoff. Well, it worked pretty well for a while last year. I don't think it's a horrible solution, and could be the best we can do with our current personnel and expected performances. Let's see what we get in 2010, and this will change.
  • Apparently getting a left-handed hitter is the next thing on their free agent agenda. He was rumored to have offered contracts to Adam LaRoche and spoke to Scott Podsednik, and when asked about Johnny Damon, he noted that no deal was imminent, which implies that he has talked with Damon's agents but, while they were not close, they are not so far apart that they aren't still talking. Damon would obviously fill the LH and lead-off spot, and probably LF too.
  • And that LF would take up the rest of their payroll leeway, so that would mean that catcher and #5 starter positions could be filled by Posey and Bumgarner respectively, unless Lincecum signs for much less, getting a back-ended contract.
  • Looks like trade is not the route for LF, as everyone wants their best pitchers. And no trade is not surprising, they don't have any mid-tier prospects they can really trade right now, except for maybe Neal, and I think he can boost his value up even more this season with a continuation of what he did in 2009, and they are not going to trade Posey or Bumgarner.
  • Travis Ishikawa will not be the starting 1B, but it sounds like there is a good chance that he will be a reserve on the team plus perhaps play some in the OF too (has to be LF with those legs of his). Not too surprising. They signed DeRosa to big bucks so he will get the title of starter, whereever that happens to be. Even before this, I think the lineup will change by pitcher, and some games will see Ishikawa starting against RHP at 1B, plus he will probably coming in late in games to provide his league leading defense at 1B. This makes it sound like he will also sit against tough RHP too, and given his poor road numbers, he might be sitting a lot there as well, though still getting some starts there to keep sharp. And DeRosa will play against all LHP (he crushes them) plus is OK (most years) against RHP. This is actually not bad for him, they still like him enough to keep him around and see if he can further develop as a hitter, and it sounds like they will give him ABs.

Giants Thoughts

As much as I don't mind Rowand leading off, he's probably most productive for us batting 7th. I think he might be thinking too much when batting in the middle and getting into bad habits hitting. The more I think about it, the more I think putting Schierholtz leadoff might be best. He has some speed, so he can probably get into double digits SB. He is not hitting yet for power, so that lack of power factors less up top. Batting leadoff might get him to think more about getting on base and taking more pitches and getting more walks. And I think he should be able to hit for a good batting average.

That would basically put Schierholtz 1st, Sanchez 2nd, Renteria 3rd (for now), Sandoval 4th, DeRosa 5th. Then Rowand would be 7th and Posey 8th, though once Posey starts hitting, he's probably moving up to the middle of the lineup, and Renteria to the 8th. Ishikawa or Uribe could then bat 6th, depending on the pitcher and how Bochy is going to use Ishikawa. And Posey and Renteria would swap once Posey is hitting well.

Now, if Bowker beats out Schierholtz for RF, then I think it would have to more like Renteria 1st, Sanchez 2nd, DeRosa 3rd, Sandoval 4th, Bowker 5th, and so on the same.

Right now, I'm not interested in any of the rumored free agents at the prices I would expect them to want. If we can get them on the cheap, in the Uribe price range, I think that would be OK.

Speaking of which, I think the salary Uribe got is reasonable. He's a backup who could see significant duty depending on the situation, but could be sitting if things go well for the Giants. It's a nice raise over last season, as a reward for what he did for us, but isn't wildly out of place in the market for free agents. He can start at 3 positions - 2B, 3B, SS - plus be a potent bat off the bench, balancing against the left-handers we could be carrying: Ishikawa, Lewis, Schierholtz, Bowker.

That is what is shocking to me, that they are looking for a LH hitter when we got so many of them, most of whom need a chance to start. I know, obviously they don't (and many fans don't) think much of our LH options. I think Schierholtz and Bowker deserves chances to start, particularly Schierholtz, and I think we would be pleasantly surprised if Ishikawa were given the chance to start regularly. But they were not so good in the minors that I would make a big stink if the Giants were to get someone who takes their starting spots, though if Bowker has another great AAA season, he needs to get in there somewhere.

I think the Giants will be picking up some minor league bargain contracts late in the off-season, just before spring, to compete for a starting corner spot, either infield or outfield, plus compete for the #5 starting slot. Kind of like the way they picked up Uribe, Medders and Miller last off-season.

With Olivio signing with the Rockies for $2.5M, I don't see the Giants going after any catcher unless the catcher is desperate. That prices backup catchers who could catch a lot in the $2-3M range. If they weren't willing to pay $1-2M for Garko as a non-starter, they should not be willing to do that for a veteran catcher, though I would hope that they bend that rule if Zaun were willing to sign with us (I think he's still a free agent).

I think/hope they will be more serious pursuing the starting pitcher, as I would think, after the Lincecum situation, that they would copy most teams and push off Bumgarner's arbitration time clock by waiting until June to bring him up. We don't really need Bumgarner right now but could use a full season of an experienced him down the line, whereas Posey we need contributing as soon as possible, and the only way that is going to happen is if we start playing him in the majors.

I would be OK with Posey/Whiteside as our catching duo for 2010. I don't think Posey is ready, but only experience will do it for him, so I would be willing to do that, let Whiteside start more often early in the season, while mentoring Posey on the defensive duties of catching (which Bochy would do too). Meanwhile, he'll be feeling his way with MLB level pitching, adjusting, until he's ready to hit.

I think the Giants should just declare Bumgarner not ready to start and go with a competition between Pucetas, Martinez, and whoever else in AAA and AA who had a nice season. Name one of them the 5th starter and give him two months to hold the fort until Bumgarner is ready mid-season. If we strike gold and he does well, it won't hurt to have Bumgarner either continue to pitch in AAA or even come up and long-relief starting mid-season, plus perhaps take a few turns in the rotation late in the season, to give our starters some extra rest. Then we would have another nice arm who we could trade for more offense next off-season.

And if I had my druthers, here is what I would do.

I would put Ishikawa and Uribe into the semi-platoon plan that I had above, plus start Schierholtz or Bowker in RF, while the other would semi-platoon in LF with DeRosa by taking starts against RHP occassionally, plus perhaps take starts in CF as well when Rowand gets more rest this season. DeRosa is not a full-time starter, he is not that good against RHP, and that is fine, he's not being paid to be a full-time starter. And if Rowand is not starting in CF, Bowker saw some play there in 2008 in Connecticut. And whoever is in RF is probably not going to get every AB there, so that is more AB for the reserve. Plus DH duties when at AL parks.

The offensive should be improved overall. The addition of Sanchez at 2B and DeRosa in LF should boost the offense right there over what Burriss and Lewis did in LF. Posey and Schierholtz/Bowker should be able to match what Molina and Winn did. Rowand should also duplicate his prior performance. Renteria was so bad last year that either his elbow really improves or Uribe would take over and do better, so that should be a plus. Ishikawa was much better after his early struggles, plus in a platoon with Uribe, 1B should be better overall with Sandoval taking AB there regularly. Lastly, 3B should be improved as Sandoval was pretty punchless the first two months of the 2009 season, but pretty steady after that.

Pitching should be improved as well, helping to boost wins as well. Lincecum and Cain have arrived. Sanchez finally got his confidence boosted and should be able to put together a full season of good performance in 2010. Zito, well, he showed that his improved velocity of late 2008 was not an illusion and he was able to work with it and figure out how to put together a good season. In fact, he was pretty good until the last month, when he doubled his number of Disaster Starts (PQS terminology). Perhaps if Bumgarner helps the starters each skip a start in the September timeframe, they can avoid the burnout I wrote about in my final PQS post for 2009.

Relief should be improved as well. It started out badly, but by year end we had Wilson, Affeldt, Romo, Runzler, Valdez, Joaquin, Medders all contributing nicely. So relief did well, but could do better in 2010 with the new additions.

All these changes should boost us a few more games in the win column and allow us to be competitors for most of the season, if not at the end.


  1. There was an aftermath to the signing that I did not cover: who got dropped from the full 40-man roster. As reported by Hank Schulman - http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/01/06/SP931BE0AS.DTL&feed=rss.giants - it was Brian Bocock who got DFAed.

    Bocock finally got the axe, which I suppose was an eventuality with all the other prospects who I thought the Giants would keep over Bocock but got axed first. They must believe that Brandon Crawford is a better SS prospect now on the depth charts.

  2. I had a hard time getting past the part where you had Renteria hitting 3rd. OMG, I am still wiping away the tears of laughter.

  3. Well, Boof, I never said that it was an ideal lineup nor did I say it was a great lineup, it is what it is, and I tried my best guess with the materials that we have at our disposal.

    If you have a better lineup to offer, please do, so that way I can have a laugh at your decisions too, because you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, plain and simple. But I know it's easier to laugh at others than to actually offer up an idea because that's harder.

    Renteria batting 3rd is not a stretch if he's back to hitting the way he was when he was healthier. From 2002-2007 he hit .303/.361/.434/.795, which would be great from the #3 spot.

    But yeah, I understand the concern that Renteria might be done. If he is, then we shuffle in Juan Uribe.

    But even while dealing with that asteroid sized object in his elbow, from Aug 10 to Sep 7, 24 games, he hit .295/.361/.455/.815, which is around the time when he said that he was feeling better. So I would at least give him the chance to show whether or not he can return to the Renteria of old or if he's really done, then we can bench him and let Uribe start.

    At this point, we have a lot of hitters who belong in the bottom of the lineup, but only 3 spots there. So we do the best we can in placing the hitters in spots that make the most sense given our limitations.

    As I noted on El Lefty Malo, to your comment about how we have a lineup of #7 hitters, if you took the average NL #7 hitter, created a lineup of that hitter 1-8, plus a pitcher, the lineup calculator would come up with 4.18 runs scored per game, which is higher than the 4.06 that we scored last season, and would have resulted in two additional wins. So I would take a lineup of #7 hitters, as long as they were consistently that, and our team should be competitive for the division title in 2010.

    My tears of laughter comes from a rotation where Jonathan Sanchez is our #4 starter when he probably could be the ace of many other staffs, or at worse the #2 starter. And Bumgarner could be our #5 starter.

    Besides, as I noted before, and many continue to ignore, offense has been shown to have no statistically significant effect on the success or failure of teams in the playoffs (if you have a problem with that assertion, please go to Baseball Prospectus and The Hardball Times and tell them what problems you have with their analysis).

    So worrying about the offense is like worrying about your appendix - it's there but doesn't really add to your success.

    Focus on pitching, then get your hitting elevated enough to win with your pitching. After many years of development, the Giants now have a super pitching rotation, and the offense, while horrible (worse in the majors!), was still enough to get us to 88 wins, and it should be improved in 2010, as should the pitching as well.

  4. As you well know, we disagree on the "offense doesn't help that much" theory, so there's really no point in debating that.

    The problem continues to be at the top of this organization and until that is rectified, the Giants have no chance at long term success. This off season has shown that there is no change in the philosophy of embracing mediocrity.

  5. Boof, if you think you are better than BP and THT, by all means, go and tell them off, let them know how bad their analysis is and why you believe they are wrong.

    "Embracing mediocrity?" They have one of the elite, if not the elite, rotations in the majors, the only one that was mostly home-built, that is hardly mediocre.

    Nobody builds a team with everything functioning on all cyclinders all in one fell swoop, there is no team in history that has ever done that, there will always be parts that are not as good as the other parts. You've certainly never given me an example of this.

    On the contrary, the Giants have all the chance in the world at long term success with the rotation they have and the pitchers they have coming up in the next 2-4 years (Bumgarner and Wheeler), plus developing offensive stars in Sandoval and Posey, plus perhaps Bowker, Neal, Kieschnick, Noonan, Schierholtz, Ishikawa as supporting cast members.

    Just as you were grossly wrong when you thought last off-season that the Giants would not come close to 89 wins, you are grossly wrong about the future of this franchise. Barring any catastrophic injury to Lincecum, we should be good for years. And even if that happens, with Bumgarner and perhaps Wheeler on the way, it'll be a bump in the road (a big bump, but just a bump).

  6. Perhaps as grossly wrong as you were last year about the strength of the Dodgers team?

    Yes, the pitching is good. There is no question about that. However, the future of that staff is also in question. With Lincecum taking year-by-year deals, there is no security is his staying with this team for the long term, especially if they don't start putting a real offense behind him to compete. As soon as he is able, he will hit the free agent market and it will be bye-bye Timmy. Cain may be in the same boat when his deal expires or will be a trade candidate. The point is that don;t count on this staff being together for the long term.

    That is the reason why Sabean is again srewing the pooch by not building a real offense behind his controllable pitching....right now. Soon, it will be too little too late.

  7. I think I had the strength of the D-gers pretty well figured out. I just didn't have their luck figured out.

    If you are saying that it was possible to know that Orlando Hudson would hit so well initially (remember he was so bad they replaced him by season's end) and that there would be no drop-off when Manny went down and Juan Pierre took over, then you should be a millionaire many times over with that predictive power.

    And Colletti did well in acquiring talent mid-season to boost the team. Without the luck of Hudson and Pierre, and the additions through trade, they would have fallen back to where we were, where I thought they would be.

  8. But you know what?

    I would rather be right figuring out the Giants than the D-gers any day because I study them the most.

  9. Further news: Bocock claimed by Toronto, he's now a Blue Jay: http://www.thestar.com/sports/baseball/mlb/bluejays/article/747729--blue-jays-claim-shortstop-brian-bocock-off-waivers

    Good luck to Brian!

    Also, I found out from a blog on a future Inside the Clubhouse show on CSNBA - http://sfgiants.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/12/from_the_horses_mouths.html - that Sabean said that "Brandon Crawford is going to be our shortstop of the future."

    From what I recall, Crawford looks pretty good defensively - he is rated a plus by Minor League Baseball Analyst - his major question is his plate discipline and a batting style that would yield a low batting average. But with average power, he could be another Juan Uribe eventually (my guess, not what anyone has said, but that's similar enough I think: good defense, average power, poor batting average, poor plate discipline).

    He also mentioned Peguero and Neal too as prospects to watch. He compared Pequero as "He's a lot like Sandoval in that he has a lot of energy." I would rather he look like he has Sandoval's batting stroke than look like he's the Energizer rabbit, I mean I was probably as energetic as Sandoval but that got me no-where in baseball.

    And for all the worries about Cain and Lincecum, we have Cain for another two years and Lincecum for four years and both want to be Giants for a long time.

    And given how young both will be when we lose control, signing them to an extension should not be a big deal, they will still be in the prime of their careers.

    And I think people (that means you Boof :^) underestimate the bonding that happens with your first real job, especially if it is one where you really enjoy the people and the work (and the location for some).

    For example, I consider myself savvy about financials, having studied the stock market in high school and business in general (how many high schoolers subscribed to the Wall Street Journal and Forbes plus numerous investment letters, read Business Week, and went to the libary to read Value Line?). Yet I stuck around my first job, where in the 5.5 years I was there there was only one quarter where they made any money, there was layoffs every other year where I lost good friends, and I would have been there even more years if it wasn't that my new manager decided to clear out most of the programmers who were there before he joined, and then it was my turn. I still look back in fondness to that time, the camraderie I had with the other programmers and I still trade Christmas cards with some of them.

    So I disagree with Boof: I don't think Lincecum will get fed up with the offense. Lincecum made a point of saying he wanted to stay during the Rios trade rumors, that he loved the relationships he developed here.

    I also disagree particularly since Boof assumes that the offense won't improve. It will with the addition of Posey and the maturation and development of Sandoval plus some development from others like Schierholtz, Bowker, Ishikawa. I think we only need one more good hitter to make the offense fly better, led by Sandoval, Posey and the third player (Bowker? Neal? FA?).

    When the better free agents see how dominant our rotation is, and it won't more than 1-2 more years, I think, and with Sandoval and Posey established, they will be more willing to come here and be the part that leads us to World Series championship.



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