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.


  1. Dumbo me, I forgot to comment on Tejada's signing.

    It is great because it is only for one year. The money is OK, a little high, but Sabean does that for players he wants to sign NOW.

    Player-wise, I think that he's no worse than Uribe, with the potential for better than Uribe, particularly the D-ger Uribe. His hitting is projected to be about the same as we got from Uribe in 2010 and defensively they are probably about equal, depending on which Tejada we get. Some years he's a butcher and others he's a little above average. On average, he looks slightly below average, not bad with slightly above average offense.

    I would have preferred JJ Hardy but I am not going to complain, the market for SS is not that great, or "not that sexy" as Sabean noted.

  2. You're right about Tejada = Uribe; had we re-signed Uribe for a year or two, the people who are moaning about Tejada would be gleeful, but irrationally so. As to other alternatives, like you
    I prefer Hardy, but not for one year and at the price of prospects when under the gun because we are in desperate need. And I am looking to having Belt at 1B, Huff in LF, and Ross--whom you don't mention--in RF, the latter two spelled by a healthy DeRosa.

  3. Sorry I didn't make it clear, but my assumption, since the Sabean interview where he said that Ross will be back and starting, is that Torres and Ross will get two spots in the OF, but where they play will depend on who is the 3rd OF.

    Huff = Huff, Torres, Ross
    Rowand = Ross, Rowand, Torres
    Nate = Ross, Torres, Schierholtz
    Burrell = B, T, R

    Yes, that is an important point, the cost of prospects is a big concern for me too for Hardy. The rumor is that he might get non-tendered and thus we would be free to sign him. That would happen tomorrow. Waiting could just make Tejada's price go up, or worse, he signs with someone else in the meanwhile and we don't get Hardy either.

    Signing Tejada was lowest risk proposition in terms of covering SS.

  4. OT - Did you ever find out if you have been banned at "The McCoven" or just had your link removed?

  5. It is unfortunate about Uribe, I liked him on the Giants, I thought he liked being there as well. He took the him and Huff being the best bargins in baseball this year too personal and wanted to be compensated this coming year for last years production, remisincent of Will Clark after the '93 season, if you recall. It is just too bad. I hope Tejada will work out for the Giants and I'm excited that it is only one year.

  6. Hey, no prob, grm!

    Honestly, I was afraid after hearing that the link was gone, but was pretty sure I had posted there around that time, so I assumed everything was fine.

    I've gone over there, my link is still gone, and I'll admit that it hurt after what I contributed there not that long ago - I was, after all, voted second to Steve in contributing to the site - but c'est la vie!

    I was able to post something, so I'm not banned. I'll probably lose my Ehire Adrianza rights, I'll bet, when it is time to divvy up names again.

    Whatever, if they can sleep at night, it's on them. I just spoke my mind, just like every one else has for all these years about Sabean. I guess they didn't like me putting the mirror in front of their faces.

  7. Wow, I really didn't think that the Giants would bring Burrell back. The roster is going to get awfully crowded. I wonder who is not going to make it.

  8. Some scout info from Chris Haft on Tejada:

    "But Major League scouts contacted by remained mostly upbeat about Tejada's existing skills.

    "He has outperformed what I thought he was going to be," one scout said. "He does a very good job of positioning himself. Offensively, you're not going to see quite the pop that you've seen in the past."

    Said another, "He's not as strong as Uribe. His range is below average. But he has good hands and an accurate arm. He's still a dependable player."



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