Monday, February 01, 2010

Giants Weekend News: Wilson Agrees; Kim Comeback

As could have been easily predicted, the Giants signed closer Brian Wilson to a contract for the mid-point between the Giants' $4.0M offer and Wilson's $4.875 request, or $4,437,500, as reported by a number of sources, including sfgiants.com. The difference was so little between the two that this compromise was the obvious thing to do.

That represents over a 9-fold increase in salary for Wilson, who earned $480,000 last season. As a super two (due to two long stretches in the majors in his first two seasons, then the last two full seasons), he reached arbitration sooner than he normally would have and gained about $4M in pay due to this designation. Wilson will now easily be able to afford the gourmet pre-cooked foods pre-prepared for him to eat that Zito had introduced him to when they trained together last off-season.

Giants Handling Arbitration Like Usual: Get'em Signed

The Giants have handled each of their arbitration cases from low to high. First Medders for $820K, almost doubling his $475K salary fro 2009. Then Jonathan Sanchez for $2.1M, nearly quintupling his $455K salary in 2009, plus performance bonuses. Now Wilson for $4.4375M, over 9 times his $480K salary in 2009.

It is now down to Lincecum, who should get at minimum the highest salary for a player in his experience status (super-two), either the $10.5M mid-point between the Giants $8M and Lincecum's requested $13M, up to their figure if they decide to go to arbitration and win the case. The Giants have rarely had to go to arbitration, prefering to settle with the player before the unpleasantries that attend these arbitration hearings.

One of the few they had to go to was with A.J. Pierzynski, where it was obvious that they were going to lose, they way under offered. As I and a number of people discussed and debated on a previous post, the general feeling is that the Giants underbid by at least $1-2M, and that if the case were to go to a hearing, Lincecum would win the case and get $13M. I would expect the Giants to try to negotiate something in the $11-12M range plus performance bonuses that could push Lincecum above the $13M as an incentive to get him to settle beforehand.

I think the Giants did about as well as they could have done with Lincecum. Too low a bid, and you risk losing the case easily to the player. Too high a bid, and you have to pay that much more in salary to the player, whether through settling or going to arbitration.

$8M is in the range where it had to be given that Ryan Howard got $10M, which is the current record salary, but as we opined, on the low end. Arguments could be made that traditionally pitchers are not valued as greatly as position players, plus there is the salary deflation that appears to be happening for players due to the bad recession of 2009, but to me the arbitrators have been biased towards the players in general, and thus, as much as it might hurt to raise their offer, I think you just have to err on the high side rather than the low side.

Kim Comeback

Former All-Star and D-back closer, Byung-Hyun Kim, signed a minor league contract with the Giants and will join them in spring training. He last pitched (poorly) in the majors in 2007, the last of 9 seasons spent in the majors. He took a breather for a couple of years in Korea and is now 31 years old, re-energized and refreshed.

He had a 3.53 career ERA as a reliever, so he would be quite an addition to the bullpen if he is anywhere near as good now. He wanted desperately to be a starter and that probably is what helped caused him to do so poorly in his later years as he desperately held on to trying to win a starting rotation spot instead of focusing on actually pitching well. And with his experience as a closer, if he is anywhere near as good as he was as a closer, he would be a great right-handed complement to Affeldt in the set-up role, with Romo and Runzler providing very good backup there should either have a bad outing.

And if he doesn't do well, it would not have costed the Giants much, probably just for room and board during spring training, I don't think any of the players are paid anything for attending spring training, just per diem and getting housing. It is the type of low risk and potentially high reward situations that the Giants should be seeking at this point.

In addition, Horacio Ramirez was signed to a minor league contract as well. He pitched well enough when he was with Atlanta, but was never one to strike out many batters and thus ended up walking way too many to be effective in the long run, thus far. Also he had an injury in 2004 that took away half his season, plus injuries in 2006 and 2007 that took significant chunks of the season away as well. His last effective partial season as a starter was in 2006, and he hasn't really been that good as a reliever in the three seasons since. He is, at best, going to be a backup starter/reliever in AAA who would only come up if our #5 starter is unable to perform well enough (whether injury or poorly performing) or if one of our relievers are injured or performing horribly and I would not bet on him reaching 40 wins in his career (he's at 39 right now).

Given that the Giants are looking for someone to fill a bullpen spot (plus you never know if Runzler might have a set-back, much like Wilson did previously, in spring training, and they would need to fill another spot in the bullpen), the Giants should be inviting at least another 2-3 of these types of signings. Santiago Casilla and Horacio Ramirez are two of the better known names, but they haven't had any success at the major league level for years now, so I just see them as filler unless they see something they can fix in their mechanics or repertoire that would boost their performance.

Kim at least was very successful at one point and thus could come back and do it again, given that he should have more experience now and is not distracted by his obsession with winning a starting position in the rotation (he is content to be competing for a bullpen spot apparently). He has also not pitched in any organized baseball league for two years now, so hopefully any of the injuries he has had in the past 5 years are fully healed.

The odds are long against him, but the Giants have pulled a rabbit out of the hat before with Yabu doing well for us, so it is not entirely improbable. And, again, it does not cost much to give him a shot and presumably our scouts have checked him out and OKed him.

4 comments:

  1. Kim did not get an invite to Spring Training.

    ReplyDelete
  2. OK, to be precise, they did not get invited to the big league camp, but obviously they will be with the organization this spring training, where they will get a shot to show what they got.

    ReplyDelete
  3. OGC,

    Your post on Baggerly's blog re: Timmy was really excellent.

    I suspect, that just as Lincecum's agent feels it owes it to the Players' Association to win this case, the Giants feel they they owe it to the industry to try to control salaries.

    As for me, I can't wait till Spring Training.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks DProfessor!

    Here is the link for those who didn't see it: http://blogs.mercurynews.com/extrabaggs/2010/02/02/tim-lincecums-agent-says-talks-with-giants-have-been-insignificant-expects-arbitration-case-to-reach-hearing-stage/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ExtraBaggs+%28Extra+Baggs%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher#comment-25934

    ReplyDelete

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