Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Your 2011 Giants: Punking Neukom

This has to be a Giant Punk, right?  Surprise, you've just been fired Neukom!

This is not a rumor, the Giants have acknowledged that this will be happening, officially as of the end of this year.  Mark Purdy broke the news for the Mercury - Huzzah! Mr. Purdy! - and Al Saracevic of the Chronicle also reports that the Giants acknowledgement after Purdy let their cat out of the bag.  Read both for a good overview of what is known right now.

Giants Thoughts

Change at the top is always unsettling.  The outward appearance is that this is all about Neukom spending money and the other owners not knowing about it until reading about it in the newspapers.  Communication.

Something like that normally is a hand-slap offense that you take care of with an owners meeting, heck, they were all owners, I am sure that Neukom was on their speed dial.  Just order him to communicate better.  Done.

Seems like there is more to this that we may never learn about.

It appears from the Chronicle's account that it is clear that Larry Baer is the new CEO and face of the Giants.  Not that he wasn't a face before, but now he's the guy making the decisions on everything.

I had speculated back when Neukom was first announced that he would be the transition between Magowan and Baer, running the Giants for a number of years (don't recall what I wrote back then, but I would guess 4-9 years) and then Larry would take over.  After all, Bow Tie was already 66 YO at that time, so that would put him around 70-75 for real retirement.  I assume the group decided that it was time to up the time table on that, for whatever the real reasons are.

I'm open to Baer as our new leader but I view him as part of the failed Magowan management team that resulted in Magowan's ouster.  I had been agitating for Magowan to be out since the whole "mediocrities are better than Vlad" debacle, so I was happy about the change.  Now, I'm not sure if there is any change.  I felt a lot better with Neukom, who has $600M net worth that he could inject into the team if he felt like it, in charge, than Larry Baer, whose main asset is probably his small slice of ownership of the Giants.  He will have to prove himself to me.

There could have been ego problems among the other owners, as Neukom is very much tied to the World Series Championship in the minds of many fans.  Maybe too many fans credit Neukom and the other owners are chafing about that.

I would agree that the average fan gives Neukom too much credit, judging by the sturm und drang on Twitter that I've seen about this move.  Lots of people complaining to the highest heaven about this move, like the Giants will suddenly become a pile of trash after this move.

I would disagree.  Sabean, Tidrow, and Barr have been the brains behind the Giants rebuilding efforts and thus the Giants overall success of the past three seasons, 2009-2011.  That solid core of players that the Giants control, or could control, for a long time, could keep the Giants competitive, barring another idiot taking out our star player for the season, for the rest of the decade.  The big picture still looks good.

Not that Neukom did not bring some good things to the table.   I liked his "The Giants Way" theme he gave the team.  I hope the Giants keep that and continue to develop that.  It was always unspoken traits that players passed to prospects, like what Jack Clark talked about, but now it can be captured in a book that can be passed on to future generations of Giants without having players be the ones passing on the torch.  That will help the next time we get into rebuilding and run into a dry spell like the 70's and 80's.

I also like that he was willing to at least entertain the thought of making the best baseball moves by having Sabean bring these decisions to him and allow him the opportunity to make the finances work to do the baseball decision, instead of having Sabean give up on it immediately.  Had he been in place back then, the Giants might have been able to sign Vlad as well as get most of those other players without upping the payroll much more.  I examined that possibility back then, it was doable.

I also liked his public face.  He was a Giants fan, an ordinary joe, from what I saw in interviews and meetings.  I never got that from Magowan or Baer.  That could also explain the general fan's endearment of Neukom so strongly.

Ultimately, all I really care about is the future of the Giants.  The Giants need to make sure that they sign Lincecum and Cain long-term, maybe also Sandoval and Posey too, soon, if we are to dominate the decade as I've been saying for a few years now.  It is not a fait accompli.  As long as Larry Baer takes care of that, starting with signing Lincecum and Cain to long-term big bucks contracts this off-season, I will be OK with the change over.

If not, then I'll be agitating for Larry Ellison or any other Silicon Valley billionaire to buy the whole team - like I did when I was complaining about Magowan - so that the Giants can sign all our good young players long-term and not see them leave the team as free agents with only draft picks as compensation: that is not a good option to me, if we cannot sign them, let Sabean know now so that he can start trading them to get very good prospects in return, and rebuilding quickly, like how the Marlins transitioned from 1998 to 2003.

Ideally, though, I want an owner like the Angels got, a billionaire who enables a lot of things because he has the money, not owners like we have now with the Giants complaining about hearing of the good uses of the Giants money in the press rather than personally from Neukom.  The Angel's owner isn't worried about saving for a rainy day fund due to the extra money the World Series has generated for the Giants.  He has been looking for ways to better the team and spending that money.  We don't need owners worried about rainy days, we need an owner who will keep our potential juggernaut of a team going for the next decade.

We have the players in place.  We only need owners who have the cajones to make that happen.  These owners are showing me that they don't have guts to do it by taking out Neukom over a disagreement over how windfall money usage was communicated to the rest of the owners.  That is a bullshit explanation that everybody sees through, the fans are not idiots.  I give them a vote of no-confidence right now, but am willing to see how Larry Baer does now that he is in charge.  I am giving him very little rope right now and this off-season will be interesting in how the Giants handle the payroll and signing players.


  1. seems to me that...

    if the big bucks are in having a contending team (plus plus making the playoffs), and you have a young nucleus who is pretty cheap, that you capitalize on that, que no? (Emphasis on capitalize). You have a good run, you make money while you're doing it and for years afterward.

    You're right, the Angels get this. The Red Sox get this, the Yankees get this. The Phillies get this. They're not losing or saving money, they're investing in legacy and in the here and now.

    I agree there's more to this than meets the eye. I'm sure you've read Bill James' assessment of owners - "most of them are dumb as a post". I have to laugh - you think they saw too much Neukom on Showtime and had to cut him down to size? I'm not seriously proposing that, but it also would not surprise me.

  2. I was starting to comment on your last post when this broke. Makes for interesting times - pretty clear signal there will be no Reyes/Beltran pursuit.

    I think a lot of the freak out about Sabean/Brain Trust has to do with worrying about signing Timmy and Cain long term. We've had 3 years of incredible pitching - 2009 was low expectations rising fast, 2010 was magic, and 2011 is high expectations crashing down. Last year before Cain is a free agent and Timmy arbitration coming, makes for nervous fans. And the fact they are 2 of the best pitchers in baseball with abysmal run support makes a legit reason to worry about the future, even without Bow Tie getting axed.

    I think hard core fans realize we have the chance to compete like Atlanta did and does. That pitching like this is truly special and something you don't see very often. There is a window here that needs to be nurtured and good moves need to be made. Right now.

    In evaluating this season obviously the injuries will be at the forefront. Posey and then Freddy going down were crushing blows. Both guys are great defenders, great hitters and gamers. I am proud how the team stayed in it without them.

    But the collapse when it came was pretty disheartening. First off Huff. Personally I have no problem with the contract. Its short, and Huff deserved it. However, he came to camp out of shape (unlike his 2010 where he thought he might be out of baseball) and has just been horrible. Bochy and Sabean are loyal to a fault, and ran him out every day until recently. We can hope for a rebound, but they should sit him down and in no uncertain terms tell him he needs to be in shape and he won't get rope next year if he sucks.

    Which brings us to Belt. Maybe the injuries had something to do with it, and getting his wrist broken didn't help either, but I feel the G's completely misplayed Belt this year, jimmy-jacking him around. Next year, I hope he has a clearly defined roll, and I hope Bochy has patience with him. I am not confident that will happen though. That is red flag #1.

  3. The second thing they did wrong is wait too long to jettison Tejada and Rowand. They were #2 and #3 in ABs to Huff, and they are both no longer major league hitters. Record low offense? Look no further then those two. Batting Tejada 2nd to "get him going" is just foolish.

    Which brings me to my first big criticism of Sabean. So Agent Ned tried to poach Huff, Sabean had to overpay slightly, no problem. Then he went after Uribe. Sabean tried to match, and that last 1MM (deferred) won Uribe over. Completely great for the G's in retrospect. However, it created panic for Sabean. Bartlett and Hardy were available, but the price was most likely high. So he steps up immediately and signs Miggy Tejada to play short. In the mindset of fans this was OK, he'd be a Uribe substitute. 2/3 of Uribe's dingers, we can be OK. Terrible short sighted signing, the only good part is that is was one year. Tejada is obviously washed up, but beyond that is a whiner and a choke artist. I think he was a huge cancer, and brought everybody down. His stupid spotlight and antlers looked as out of place as his terrible D.

    So short stop is a huge hole. The Cabrera trade was pretty terrible too - losing Neal is OK, the Giants are awash in 3rd or 4th OF types. But Cabrera brings nothing, and has been worse offensively than Crawford. Filling Short is a huge issue, because...

    Now that B-12 shots are out, and all the great offensive guys are fading out, its a defensive position and the hardest to fill in the majors. It was frustrating to see SD and Balto pick up Bartlett and Hardy on the cheap - but sabean pulling out of the market really sunk it most likely. We have 2 D-first prospects. I actually like Crawford a lot - his approach looks good, but he may not have a fast enough bat for the majors.

    So do you go after Jose Reyes? There hasn't been a player that fits so many of the Giants needs since... Vlad. There is risk involved, his injuries, the very real chance he can be lazy and immature, and the fact he'll be well paid for too many years. However, he is young still, and could be an absolute beast at Pac Bell. Leadoff and shortstop filled? Sabean needs to kick tires and get in on it. If you can get Reyes for 4/60 due to the injury risk you need to roll the dice.

    Now obviously this ownership brew up comes into play. Given the choice between re-upping the pitchers and Reyes its a no brainer you go with the pitchers. If that's not even in play with cheapskate tactics then its full on Lunatic Fringe time.

    Red Flag #2 is the (possible) claim that there's not enough money and we need to fill too many holes. If the poo poo platter of crappy vets come around again, I will be pretty upset with ownership/Sabean. The Michael Tucker situation comes to mind - you have to have a ticket to win the lottery, and Tucker was a completely mediocre player anyway. BTW, I am fine with losing Wheeler for Beltran. You roll the dice. Sometimes you lose. Move on.

  4. Sabean's strengths are drafting, marginal trades and reclamation projects. He does not have a good free agent record however. Zito/Rowand may have been PR directed from above, but Alfonso and Durham, Finley and Klesko, Roberts and Winn all were Sabean's babies. I'd much rather have the one big name than several marginal ones. And the OF is a mess and a real chance of poo poo platter is coming...

    Andres Torres made 2010 possible. He was incredible value and had a dream season. The best part, the braintrust sat Rowand on the pine and rolled. His 2011 has been terrible, but he is still very valuable, even if its as a 4th OF. He may never get back to 2010, but he's still cheap enough he should be a no-brainer.

    Cody Ross has been terrible as well, and gets pretty expensive as a unrestricted free agent. He hasn't been terrible in center and leading off. A platoon of Ross/Torres wouldn't the the worst thing in the world. Both players are flexible, and if there is one thing Sabean/Bochy appreciate its flexability.

    So for those 2 guys you are looking at 8MM for Ross/4MM for Torres. Brings you to the first big decision - do you stick with your guys - fan favorites - or do you go cheaper or double down. I think Bow Tie would try to double down. Brings you to Beltran. Most likely gone. Boras client. Bad knees. I think anything over 2 years is crazy for him, but the dude can hit. He needs to play left field though, his range is severely diminished. I think most likely its not a good fit, and hopefully they back off and don't go down the Boras rabbit hole.

    And thats why Reyes is a great fit - you can put Belt in left, Nate in right, either Ross/Torres both, one or the other, or a poo poo platter type like Coco Crisp or David Dejesus. Both those guys get Cody Ross money easily though. And are sort of mediocre. The Giants have had a logjam of 3rd/4th OFs for a while, and clearing some of that out might be a good idea.

    I'm starting to ramble, so some positives: first, Sando at third has been a dream - great D, hitting the ball all over, just awesome. The Keppinger trade worked out well, I like the Freddy insurance. Posey appears to be OK and should be back. The Gs don't need a murderer's row to win, they just need to get to average. Even though it was too little too late getting rid of Tejada AND Rowand was a good move.

    There are a ton of arbitration cases to work out, the bullpen and the outfield are in serious flux and the payroll will obviously be an issue. As a hardcore fan I would really like to see some lockdown of our young pitchers. 5 year deals. They are young enough the risk is justifiable. I would like to see them in on Beltran and Reyes in the (unlikely) chance short deals can be struck. I would like to see a clear roll for Belt going forward. Most of all, no big contracts for mediocre and washed up players, even short term. There is some real talent now in the minors, thanks to John Barr. The building of the bridge to get em up will be interesting.

    As an aside - read your blog for a lot of years and although you are long-winded I enjoy it. So I threw down a long-winded to honor that. Cheers

  5. I don't mind OGC's long musings, nor yours, Shankbone. The internet has bred too many individuals who have no patience to actually read anything.

    Your posts reminded me of something I had posted elsewhere about Neukom - the poster-child free agents of this winter are most likely going to get overlong contracts. The right assumption may be that they simply are. Winner's curse and all that, if player x absolutely wants 8 years at 20-25 per, he's going to get it from someone.

    So I wonder if Neukom said to the other owners, "hey guys, I know giving (Reyes, whoever) a $200M contract is a bad deal, but we gotta do what we gotta do. You want to win? You want history remember the pitching staff we have? Well, you get what you pay for."

    And that devolved into a you can't quit, you're fired kind of situation and so thus the Giants' bad-PR press release. My years in the corporate world tells me snotty-toned statements come from someone who is out of control.

    OGC calls it lack of cojones, I'll say half-assed, but that's what's characterized the Giants free-agent signings (ignoring Zito and Rowand). No offense to Cody Ross, I like Cody Ross, but you can't live on ".700 OPS hitters who once hit .850 and maybe they'll do it again" for every hole in the lineup. If you take out Freddie and Posey, the Giants offense pretty much did what's within the realm of predictability. On the multiple low side, sure, but really there were no trainwrecks.

    The point is that the ship shouldn't sink if you don't get good seasons out of every last of the good hitters. Good and bad luck should balance out where things are still plausible. The Giants ownership should have learned this with Bonds and a cast of thousands, but I'm guessing they didn't.

  6. Great Job OCG! My question: which camp leaked to Purdy? The source has a slight pro-Neukom tinge to it, because the excuse about "communication" sounds feeble. But bottom line, I feel sure it was actually Baer, the former CFO with very old ties to the money (read Burns) who finessed this move by the Board. And he obviously has the most to gain in terms of the organizational power lines. But I do trust him to let Sabean groom the youngsters. So, yes, no Reyes, no Beltran. But we get 55, 18, 28, and few more.

  7. A combination of organizational restructuring (management rosterbation) and its effect on the on field roster. (real rosterbation). I am a strong believer in re-investing assets into my business, and I would like my team, (the team I vigorously root for) to re-up and re-invest their gains into putting out a better product. The pitching cannot get much better, but the hitting could easily get better with restored health and one or two good moves. Lets hope Baer is not the pawn of some committee, but an ownerhsip group leader who will allow the baseball people to make good moves, while putting a check on some of the bad ones. Unfortunately, until proven otherwise, my inherent vibes from this management decision are negative.

  8. Thank you for the comments everyone!

    Been busy with work, will comment soon hopefully.

  9. Marc, I see Bill James assessment as truthful, but want to qualify that.

    To me, people who rise to the top tends to specialize in one particular skill. So, to give additional color to Bill James "dumb as a post" comment, many people are when they try to get into another business that they have no expertise in. Not everyone is great business people. They are great in the area that they are in, but, as noted, dumb as a post in other fields.

    Kind of like how nerds and geeks are depicted in the media, of being geniuses in their particular field, but dumb as post in others (like dating).

    I have not seen Showtime's Franchise, but it would not surprise me either if that is part of the equation that led to his ouster. According to Matier and Ross of the Chronicle, someone leaked to them that it was Neukoms' desire for a large salary that resulted in him being fired.

    That does not ring true to me. Seems like that rumor was passed on an owner who wants to fling the mud a little a la political campaigns. Neukom is worth $600M and gave away $100M already to a school. Why would he suddenly want a lot of money? He's also spend recent years heading the ABA, which I can't imagine is that well paid. If he was so money hungry, why would he take on a post like that? Why not take a post with a rising internet IPO to happen, like Groupon or Twitter or LinkedIn (years before it IPOed, he could have joined them long ago). He made his big money with Microsoft, why not go to another startup that looks good?

    I would have to see some tangible proof of that (however that can happen) before I would believe this rumor that floated out like waste product.

  10. Again, thanks Shankbone for your comments, I have no problem with long ones as long as they make sense or state opinions for debate.

    Honestly, I think the average Giants fan does not realize the link between Neukom and signing our pitchers long-term. Else why would they constantly carp about getting this hitter or that hitter when doing that would mean that we can't sign our own pitchers long-term?

  11. Huff is getting deserved playing time in the second half. Among players with at least 100 AB, he has the 4th best batting line, by far, at .270/.342/.399/.740. 5th is Ross at .197/.282/.377/.659.

    Our offense has been hurt by players like Cabrera, Whiteside, Crawford (.182/.274/.255/.529, not much better than Cabrera's .218/.238/.244/.482), Torres, Rowand, Fontenot.

    Even Keppinger has been holding back the offense, .266/.299/.354/.653.

    Still, I agree that Huff should be in better physical shape for next season, similar to his condition for the 2010 season.

    Patience would not have helped Belt avoid swinging at pitches that he can't get. He just struck out way too much. That had nothing to do with the Giants handling, other than that it was clear that they needed him to hit well.

    That pressure, unfortunately, made him swing more often than he might normally have done.

    The only place I would say that the Giants perhaps could have done better with his development would have been to not bring him up at the start of the season when Ross was injured.

    Let him play at AAA full time, maybe bring him up mid-season, under less pressure to perform, though really, once Posey was knocked out, the pressure got to everyone, including Huff, who started swinging outside of the pitches he can handle, going for the low stuff.

    Still, I have no real problem with what they did, only in hindsight do we know that he was not really ready. What if he was and had a Jason Heyward type season? Would not have known without testing him out early.

    And by the time he was ready for call-up again, the Giants really needed his bat to work, with Posey gone. Sometimes you have to man up and come and at least try.

  12. So I don't see Bochy as being impatient with Belt. Belt just wasn't doing it. His numbers was not that good after he caught other teams off-guard, but they caught on fast and he was horrible after that. And he has been up and down since. And he has acknowledged in interviews that he has been seizing up sometimes, from the pressure.

    That was Ishikawa's problem, he would think too much at the plate instead of letting his abilities take over. I'm sure that affects a lot of players, even vets.

    I personally think that Belt has done enough this last bit of the season to get a shot at LF next season, but if he don't win it, they will let him go down to AAA and stay there for at least half a season, bringing up Peguero and others, maybe even Brown, before turning to him again.

  13. The collapse was disheartening, but that's just how it goes sometimes. As I noted in my PQS post, the pitching had a let down during that stretch, which didn't help matters either. Defense and of course, offense, too, so it was a team-wide collapse.

    And this was similar to the collapse we had last season in August when the pitching went bad for a long while, led by Lincecum.

  14. About Tejada and Rowand, I would agree on Rowand, but not Tejada. When he was injured, he was one of the leading hitters on the team for the month of July and during that good stretch of winning we did mid-season. He was one of the offensive sparks during that portion of the season.

    It was his insubordination on the bunt that really costed him his spot on the team, I think, more than anything else. He had hardly gotten back, and remember, had no rehab time in minors to find his timing, and he was hitting well for the month before his injury.

    Rowand, well, I understand your frustration, but I also understand the Giants standpoint on that. Both Torres and Ross turned cold around the same time, so Bochy was forced to go to all three and hope that one of them could catch fire in CF. Ross actually was doing well offensively until around that time when the Giants got Beltran. Don't know if inactivity or if mentally he went down the well knowing that Torres would get all the starts now, along with Nate.

    If Torres or Ross was hitting, Rowand would not have gotten much of a shot during that period, and he only got a shot earlier because the other CFers were injured or not productive.

    Looking back, the right time to drop Rowand was probably when Beltran was traded for. But I understand why they didn't. Nate is injury-prone and Torres was clearly struggling with his ADD and hitting. Do we really want to go with Christian as starting CF? There were so many injuries or nagging problems, that the Giants felt that they needed to hold onto everyone. And Rowand had been a good soldier up to then.

    Little did they know that he would mentally turn with the Beltran acquisition. He's a grown man, a pro, he should know what would happen if you hit that low. But it sounds like he didn't act like a pro after that.

  15. Again, in hindsight, getting Tejada and Cabrera are mistakes.

    But Tejada hit .730 OPS last season, spending significant time in Petco. Uribe was at .749 OPS. Roughly the same offensively.

    Seems like he was fine until the end, when he openly disagreed with the call for a bunt. I don't recall reading anything about a lot of complaining on his part, but maybe I missed that or forgot about that.

    I actually like that Sabean moves on quickly when others are screwing with him. Teaches them that if they want to do the deal with Sabean, do not dawdle or try to play around, get it done.

    What if he did wait and we didn't even get Tejada, would you have really felt good about starting the season with Crawford as our starting SS? I like him more now, but at that time, fans would have had a cow.

    Cabrera was a hail mary. The Giants were driven to that because over a two month period, June 2 to July 30, Crawford hit .170/.253/.222/.476 in 151 PA. Sure, Cabrera didn't do much better, but I'm glad the Giants at least tried to get someone better without giving up a lot.

    I liked Neal, but he's probably nothing more than a Fred Lewis with more power, but less on-base, and same defense. So he will be useful, probably can start for a year or two, but we really needed a SS who could hit. Cabrera had last season. Unfortunately, Cabrera can't this season. But Crawford, at that time, definitely couldn't.

  16. About Reyes, I can go for 4/60, but the problem is he is looking for 7-10 years at $18-20M per season. By the time you realize that you can't get him, it would be too late to get any other SS on the market, as most would have signed by then.

    I liked Tucker, he was a perfectly average player, and that was valuable to us because we had no alternatives at that time.

    And the 29th pick overall is not that likely to become a good starting player. 90% of them turned out to not be a good starting player, according to my study of the draft years ago.

    So for what would have likely been a prospect who did not turn out to be anything, we got a MLB average vet for one season, and he did fine for us that season.

    I am not going to worry about a $1.5M signing or the loss of one late first round draft pick. That's like worrying about whether your scratcher ticket is a winner or not. It's a lottery that is a numbers game, but giving up on one every so often will not materially hurt your chances of finding a good starting player.

  17. I understand your disgust of the poo-poo platter of vets method, but as I noted either here or the other post, the Giants lineup is pretty set up and down. Posey, Huff, Franchez, Sandoval, SS/Crawford?, Belt/Vet?, CF/Torres?, Schierholtz. I bet that Belt has first dibs on LF, the vet will be more to provide competition. I view SS and CF as the areas where the Giants will sign someone.

    In any case, I don't really care about that, with Posey, Sandoval, Belt in the middle, I like how our offense will be in 2012, even if we don't get a classic leadoff guy hitting. That will be average enough to win a lot of games with.

    What I care about this off-season is signing first Lincecum to a long-term deal, then Cain. I think that Cain's side will want to see what Lincecum gets first, then work from there, as there is no rush to do anything, he's already getting $15M for 2012.

    Anything beyond that don't really scare me, at the moment, as long as they don't sign Rowand, Part 2. That is not Sabean's M.O., now that Zito and Rowand were exposed as Magowan deals, so I'm not worried about something that probably won't happen.

    I was eventually fine with trading Wheeler, Beltran was a difference maker, unfortunately, he went on the DL right around when he started getting hot, then sat around, neither DLed nor capable of playing. That loss of depth hurt the Giants.

  18. Alfonzo and Durham were the best players available. Or would you have been OK with an unproven Feliz starting at 3B? And Durham was a rock solid player before joining the Giants, never on the DL, then he ended up hobbled each season after that. How could Sabean foresee that one?

    Finley was a trade of bad contracts with Alfonzo. I was happy with that just to be rid of him.

    Klesko was a minor deal, if he was healthy, he would have had an impact like Huff had on us in 2010, he just didn't work out, and we didn't lose much money.

    Winn I still consider that an OK deal, that was the going rate for an average type player, and he delivered most of the time, over his time as a Giants, particularly on defense.

    I agree that I would have been OK with not having him, that is the faster way to get better draft picks in the draft, by being a lousier team, but the Giants unfortunately have to win something or hear all the fans complain that they are paying all that money for tickets and the Giants are not spending it. Particularly around that time, when all the 7 year deals were expiring. They needed able bodies and Winn was one.

    I don't begrudge Sabean for that one.

  19. About Roberts, by that time, the Giants couldn't afford a big name. Again, I think fan expectations pushed them to make the deal, otherwise, they would not have had even a so-so CF to go with Bonds, and Bonds would have been unhappy too.

    They could have gone with Lewis, but there was nothing in his minor league stats to suggest that he would be remotely OK, and his defense looked poor at best.

    I would not pay Ross $8M, that's basically like what we paid Winn, and you didn't like his deal.

    I think we have to bet on Belt in LF and get an adequate CF poo poo platter player, like DeJesus or McLouth, on the cheap, who would compete with Torres for playing time in CF. Meanwhile, hopefully Brown is ready by mid-season.

    Reyes is a great fit, I agree, but as I noted elsewhere, he hasn't played a full season in a long time (three seasons) and he wants more than the 4/60 that you mentioned in your comment. And if he gets the big contract he wants from the Giants, that means we probably lose a homegrown player to free agency or trade. I would rather stick with what we already go and see if we can make it work.

    I think that I would rather take a cheap flier on someone like Rafael Furcal or Jimmy Rollins, if either is available for a cheap deal. Clint Barmes would be OK too. That lets Crawford get some time in AAA to build up his confidence, then he could come up mid-season and see how it goes.

  20. I pretty much agree with what you post Shankbone, about what the Giants should do in the off-season. If we can get a good vet at SS, I would be OK with that, however.

    Thanks again for your long-winded, but good, comment, much appreciated. And thanks for the compliment.

  21. OGC - thanks for the thoughtful replies - I realize its a lot of Giants history, some of which as fans we gotta let go of.

    The Tucker thing is hard though because its a failed philosophy, one I think the Giants have now corrected. If you don't have draft picks you can't get players. In the Michael Tucker draft we came away with Bowker in the third, Frandsen in the 12th and Jonathon O. Sanchez in the 24th. Monday morning, it was a pretty weak draft, and yeah, you can punt once in a while.

    However, the amount of $ involved it just seems like penny pinching. If you really need to save 1.5MM on player development, you might be in the wrong business. Difference of opinion I guess. Michael Tucker was a 2 year contract, and he was quite mediocre. He played 109 pouty games the first year and was traded to Philly on waiver wire his 2nd. But you are right, it was a weak year for free agent OFs. Jose Cruz was persona non grata after the dropped fly against the Marlins. RF has been a revolving door for a long time.

    Each draft is different and it is a crapshoot. Our drafts recently have been amazing, and obviously helped by the early protected picks. But getting Lincecum BumG and Posey all in a row is successful beyond anyone's wildest dreams. I don't think Giants fans appreciate how hard that is to do. As a hard core fan, the draft and the farm are hugely important. Its very satisfying to have home grown position players finally.

    Last, we'll have to agree to disagree about Miguel Tejada. He was absolutely terrible at short, costing the G's 3 games with his D alone in the first six weeks. Bumgarner looked like he was going to kill him one game. His bat was completely gone, he flirted with below 500 OPS, and the only thing that saved him was the Pablo injury so they threw him to third where his complete lack of lateral movement wasn't so bad, then he hit 300 for a ten game "hot streak" which consisted of seeing eye ground balls. Those #s he put up were the most empty I've ever seen, and yes I watch 80% of the games. But worst of all was his attitude towards everything, which finally boiled over with the sac bunt fiasco. I would have DFA'd him at 2 months and called up Conor G. That would have improved the D, the O and stopped Bochy from batting him 2nd, a gigantic mistake.

    Huff has been flirting with hitting better, and that gives me some hope for next year. But he hits a lot of pop ups and grounders to 2nd, and looks pretty frustrated out there.

    Lastly, Belt. So which do you want, him penciled in left next year and part of the middle of the order or is he not worthy of a spot because of his Ks and other struggles? Can't have it both ways. The G's need to put him in and leave him. The Braves did it with Freddie Freeman, and taken their lumps. Its worked out for the most part. Bochy has no patience for that, and it isn't a good way to develop young talent. And I think we can both agree Belt is extremely talented. So I'm sticking to it - Belt needs consistent ABs to adjust to major league pitching. Because when he does, look out. Dude can rake, with power. Huge mistake by the Giants. The 3 vets Tejada Rowand and Huff get all the rope they want to stink it up, but Belt can't get a string of 4 games to start.

    When I look back on the season, I see the Posey and Freddy injuries, then all the other injuries, then I see the crappy vets playing because of that, and the misuse of Belt. Frustrating because despite this hot streak, its gonna be very hard to reach the postseason.

  22. No problem, Shankbone, I love a nice discussion.

    I hold onto history too, I am like others, but where facts supercede history, then I try to change. But yeah, I'm human and I need to be loved. :^)

    I see your point and I agree with you for the most part. My focus was on the GM decision, and flipping the pick to get a starter you really need, even a mediocre one like Tucker, is a good risk to take.

    Your point about $1.5M really refers more to the Managing Owner, and there we have total agreement, I had been railing against Magowan for the penny-pinching decision-making for a long time, begging for a billionaire like Ellison to step in and finance the team properly. Ownership never should have put Sabean in the position of deciding whether to punt a pick or sign a needed free agent. They should have opened up that tight-ass rainy-day fund that they instead saved for signing Greg Maddux, ooops, he didn't sign but by then we lost our draft pick and any chance of signing Vlad.

    See, I can not let go with the best of them. :^D

    It's not ideal to lose your draft pick, but neither is it the end of the world, as many fans treat this as. It was a calculated business risk, one that is doable once in a while to little poor effect.

    It would be the equivalent of one of us deciding not to buy a lottery ticket when we usually buy one. We might have missed the big one, but most likely, we saved some money.

    Yes, I agree, most fans do not appreciate how hard it was to draft like that and get Lincecum, Bumgarner, and Posey.

    Neither do they appreciate how hard it was to put together a rotation like Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, and Sanchez, homegrown. Or to find relievers like Wilson and Romo.

    Or put together a middle of the lineup like Sandoval, Posey, Belt.

  23. OK, I will accept your take on Tejada and change my mind on that. I have not watched any games, so I have not seen him on the field. My view is strictly stat-oriented qualified with observations made on the radio by announcers and in the newspaper by the beat writers.

    But it was not a 10 game streak he was in, from June 2 to July 18, roughly 6 week period, he hit .299/.348/.449/.796 with 3 HR in 107 AB, only 12 K's. Then he got injured and never regained his batting touch. That was what I was referring to. And that is fine batting 2nd, good in this lowered offensive environment.

    Also, my undrestanding is that Tejada's defense at 3B was actually pretty good, something I have never heard describing Conor Gillaspie.

    I think Huff's problem is that he goes back and forth, between letting the pressure get to him and not. He's been fine for the most part since the ASB, though.

  24. OK, I was probably talking about two different points regarding Belt at the same time, and jumbled things up.

    First of all, I think he's the latter part of your statement for most of 2011: not worth of a spot because of his K's, lack of other production (like walk or power) and other struggles.

    For 2012, I think he is starting to show that he's getting more at ease at the plate with this last call-up. He's still striking out a lot, but at least he's making better contact, as evidenced by his big uptick in homers in this go around in the majors.

    I don't think that Freeman is a good example. He never struggled to hit like Belt. There was no lumps to take. One week of struggle, then he was pretty much OK after that. If Belt had hit like that, Bochy would have never sat him.

    A better parallel is Atlanta's Jordan Schafer, who also struggled, much like Belt, and the Braves had yo-yoed him until they traded him to Houston. They did not take their lumps with him.

    Another example of a young-ish player they had that they, maybe didn't yo-yo, since he is established, but has basically sat down and don't play him full-time is Nate McLouth. He was great in Pittsburgh, nothing in Atlanta, yet they don't just keep him going out there full-time with a role and let him play his way out of whatever funk he is not.

    Not exactly the same in this case, but, to me, your point seems to be that, no matter what, you just put the young player into a role and let him have it all season, no matter how badly he does, because yo-yoing without a role is detrimental to him, and you use Atlanta as a role model.

    And I'm sure I can find more if I go back farther.

    It not the same, Freeman has basically hit all season, after a poor week or so. And Atlanta does sit guys who are not hitting, even if they had a role. Schafer was their starting CF.

    Bochy has no patience with hitters without a clue. That's why Posey was still playing even though he didn't hit for much for 6 weeks, and in fact, was handed the starting job even though he was not hitting that well. That's why Sandoval pretty much was in the lineup from the start but when he was flailing in the playoffs, Bochy took him out.

  25. I agree that Belt should be given more of a chance in 2012. He should not be as uptight about things next season, he will be more experienced, more of a pro. Not the girafe in the headlights that he was earlier in the season.

    I would just give him the LF job for 2012, but Sabean don't work that way, there will be a LF free agent who will be competition and basically a safety net in case Belt fizzles out again.

    And that is actually the better way to do things, if you place your entire bet on Belt in LF with no backup plan, if Belt fails and hits below 600 OPS, you just potentially pissed away the 2012 season because we would be relying on him to do certain things.

    But I think that he's ready enough to hold the spot for half a year, and if he's still struggling, we can turn to either Peguero or Brown at that point, one of them should be ready enough by then to come up and play a while.

    As talented as he is, if he cannot get over that mental barrier that haunts a lot of AAAA prospects, he's going to flop. History is full of them.

    I agree with starting him in LF in 2012, I would just sign a Tucker type of player to be a backup who can take over as starter should Belt not figure things out. I think he will eventually, but as the very old saying goes, that and two-bits will buy you a coffee. I can think it, you can think it, all the Giants fans can think it, but if Belt can't jump that last mental hurtle, he's not going to show his talent at the MLB level.

    And he has started 9 of the last 13 games, and 7 of the last 9, so Bochy is giving him opportunity now. He's still not hitting and he's still striking out a storm, worse, he's not even walking anymore, but the key now is that he's swinging for the long ball.

    I view making it to the majors as a more complicated form of patting your head why rubbing your tummy. It takes a while for some to get it all coordinated. There is a lot of talent ready to make the majors. But as the saying goes, million dollar talent, 10 cent head, often holds back some talent.

    Not that I see Belt that way, just that the mental aspects can hold back a player.

    I see Ishikawa that way, he was all seized up, and Bochy gave him to mid-May because he gave him a verbal kick in the butt publicly, and while he had threatened to sit Travis, he still played him and Travis loosened up and hit very well for about 3 months until they traded for Garko.

    I think that if they just gave Ishikawa the starting 1B role, he would be OK there, 700-799 OPS plus great defense.

    In most of the cases, it is just a matter of relaxing and letting your talent show. Some just can't do it. For Ishikawa, it took acceptance that he can't control things and thus he will leave it in God's hands. For others, it is just a matter of simplying the process to "see ball, hit ball" and not cloud things up wby thinking about your mechanics too much.

    So I still disagree, Belt was not a mistake, other than maybe he should not have been brought up in the first place, but that is only knowable in hindsight. He has the talent, he looked ready to go at the beginning of the season, won't know what we got unless we tried him out.

    But he was given the opportunity and he just did not seize it. And he's still struggling now, it's not like he's going to continue hitting a homer each game. But he's hitting enough for me to be OK with him starting in 2012.

  26. Rope is a matter of degree and circumstance, in my mind.

    Huff was given a lot of rope both because he hit so well last season and because we didn't really have any good alternative most of the time. As badly as Huff was hitting in the first half, Belt was worse. And Huff has been hitting well, pretty consistently, in the second half.

    Rowand wasn't given that much rope, in my mind, it was more that we had no good alternative. Again, you think Belt is, and perhaps that is the key difference there, but a LF hitting under 600 OPS as Belt was doing (worse when you consider how poorly he was hitting after the pitchers adjusted to him) is not a good alternative. Plus Burrell was injured, Torres was struggling, and Ross needed to play LF, with Nate in RF, so Rowand got a lot of ABs because Torres wasn't doing it either.

    Tejada only got a lot of ABs because, first, he was given a chance to hold the SS job, then he got shifted to 3B when Sandoval was injured, and once Sandoval was ready to come back, he started sitting a lot more, he had lost the starting SS job to Crawford, but he also was starting to hit, June 2, so Bochy would give him starts at SS and 2B to get his bat in the lineup.

    Still, out of 31 games, he started 19 of them, playing both 3B and SS, plus 2B, hitting .288/.325/.452/.777 until he got injured. He earned those ABs.

    I think the only case that the vet got a lot of rope is Orlando Cabrera. Yet, even there, as bad as Cabrera was hitting, Crawford had been hitting much worse, after the pitchers had adjusted to him. True, his defense is THAT good, but Cabrera has a long history of hitting much better in the majors.

  27. My only real frustration was over the Posey hit, and I realize that nothing could have been done before, and yet, yes, there could have been, long ago.

    I've been upset about collisions at home plate since Pete Rose took out Ray Fosse in the ASG long ago. I accepted that it was part of the game for most of that time, but this time with Posey, I learned that such collisions have been PROHIBITTED in most of organized baseball, only the MLB is still barbaric enough to allow such hits.

    A professional football player (could be retired, probably media person now) said it best: "even the NFL would not allow such a hit in the game". That is how bad a hit that was, a football player believes that such a hit would be prohibitted in the NFL.

    End the madness!

    I thought maybe Joe Torre might have had some empathy for the situtation as a former catcher and institute new rules, but no, he took the old school route.

    I mean, just make the rules consistent with every other level of baseball, how hard is that?

    Then again, this is the same sport that allows their umpires to be horribly inconsistent, not just from the standard, but from their own standards, game to game, in calling strikes. I can't wait until machines take that over.

    I would still leave the umps there to call runners out and safe, but they have abused their powers for too long now, I'm ready to automate the strike calling, as much as I love the human aspect of watching an ump ring up a batter.

  28. Well played, again, OCG! I've come around to the "Dump the Umps" argument too. Keep two umps to usher the game along smoothly (put mics in headsets in their ears so they get the correct call from the booth), but use machines for balls and strikes AND bases and lines. They blow way too many. I used to be so old school, but recently it seems like they blow hugely. How did that pitcher lose a PERFECT game! That was horrible, and unforgivable for MLB. That same ump is still blowing calls nearly every game. Note it was not a ball/strike call, it was a base play. Dump the Umps.

  29. Playing in the majors is immensely tough, physically and mentally, no doubt. Here is what is special about Belt: His bat stays in the zone a long time and he has a great eye for the strike zone. You don't go through 3 levels of the minors in a year for nothing. Comparing him with Ishikawa or any other 1b prospect of the Giants of the past 10 years is not doing him justice.

    Scouts immediately and unanimously named him the 2nd best 1B prospect after Eric Hosmer. He shot up out of nowhere to top 25 status in MLB. We haven't had this type of prospect before at 1b - I have no problem with how Ishikawa, Ortmeier, Minor or Neikro were treated. None of them had the skills that Belt has demonstrated.

    Belt was given 15 games at the start of the year. Huff was tearing up RF, and it was pretty chaotic. Then he's sent down for Ross. Comes back up, gets his wrist fractured in the 2nd game. Comes back again, wins a game single handedly against the Doyers, goes 0-4 the next day, gets benched. Since his final call up he has had 27 starts and 21 non-starts. That is poor handling of a major prospect.

    I'm not saying he needs to be in the whole year. Six weeks, every game, 42 starts, no silly platoon splitting. He hits lefties well. The real thing working against him is simply not having enough experience. He's not going to get close calls from the umps, and he has to learn to adjust. I don't think he's mentally weak at all. He has nothing to prove in the minors, and its a waste of time. Throw him up against major league pitching and let him take his lumps. In 42 games straight, you will see it.

    One more thing - Ishikawa and Pill both have been exposed to waivers. No team claimed. That should tell you something. Also, Belts Defense is even better than Ishi's. He is JT Snow on steroids. He gets his arms extended, the ball goes far. He's the best thing since sliced bread, and the Giants have completely screwed up this season with him.

    All about justifying big contracts to lousy players. We're paying Huff 10MM, he plays.

    Here's my final argument about Rowand and Tejada, its really simple: Tejada ended with a 270 OBP and a 596 OPS. Rowand's line was 274/621. Tejada in 322 abs, Rowand in 331. Tejada had 12 walks and Rowand 10. The kicker is Rowand was leading off and Tejada had some time in the 2 hole. This is historically bad. You can cherry pick hot streaks, but here is the fact: they both can't catch up to a fastball anymore, leaving them completely and totally susceptible to off speed and breaking pitches. It showed. All their HRs (4 each!) came in garbage time against B-squad pitching. Rowand's were mainly pinch hitting with the game out of reach and a mop up man on the mound.

    The Giants need to justify bad contracts and failure to identify or face the fact that both guys are dead men walking was a gigantic mistake. Both are ex-juicers. Sabean needs to realize that the new 36 is 29, and the new 40 is 32. Baseball is a young man's game getting younger.

  30. I am not cherry picking hot streaks. I really hate when people accuse me of that, really steams me!

    Would it be ridiculous for anyone to say that any hitter is the same every day of the season? That is what you are saying when you say people are cherry picking hot streaks.

    Players blow hot and cold, I don't know how many times I've seen people complain about a cold hitter, except that he had gotten hot at that time, or support a hot hitter, except that he's been cold for a while.

    I use this example because a lot of Giants fans accuse me of cheery picking, but looking underneath make the decision making clearer.

    Giants fans howled when Freddie Lewis was taken out of the starting lineup in mid-June 2009 season. "He's got a .350-ish OBP, Giants management are all morons!"

    But he benefited from the hottest two weeks any player can hope for, while slowly getting worse over the next 2 months, before he lost his starting job.

    On April 18, he was hitting .429/.545/.571/1.117 after 11 games. First game of the season was on April 7th. He ate off that fat for two months.

    For the next two months, to his last start as a regular on June 11: .214/.292/.345/.637. That's not tolerable for a CF or SS who provide superlative defense, and it is certainly not tolerable out of a LF, particularly a defensely challenged one like him, good advanced defense stats or not, he was not good defensively.

    The fact is that Tejada just didn't have it for about two months, and he probably would have sat longer but got more ABs than he deserved because Sandoval was out with a broken hamate bone. Is that Bochy's fault that he didn't really have a better alternative?

    And it is not Sabean's either, that is what happens when one of your starters is missing from your lineup, you can't store MLB ready guys on the bench or the minors, except when you are lucky and happen to have a prospect ready to make the leap to the majors at that point, like when we brought up Lincecum and Bumgarner.

    And there was no reason to think that Gillaspie would have been a better alternative than Tejada at 3B, he has done squat in the minors, nothing like what was being said that he could do when he got drafted. And on top of that, he was also suspect defensively at 3B.

    So Tejada played, and he started hitting in June and July. Only his DL stopped him, and he never got it going after he came back either, but that was probably because the Giants didn't give him a regular starting job either, you complain about him starting, but after he returned, he got 4 starts out of 14 games, 3 of them initially as Bochy observed what he got, and once he got that look, 1 start out of 11 games.

  31. Rowand, I don't really care to argue about him. I still think the Giants played him more because they had no better alternative in CF.

    When Torres went out, there was no Ross, so Rowand started. During that stretch that horrified you so, where he led off, he hit .260/.317/.375/.692 leading off, which is not good, but considering that he's our 4th or 5th outfielder at that point, you can't really hope for much better, really

    After that, Bochy would hit him leadoff once every 5 games or so. If that is a sin, so be it.

    The fact is that our lineup was built to have our CF leadoff, meaning Torres. And Bochy likes to provide his better hitters with some continuity as to where they hit. That pretty much puts out CF at leadoff, to keep everyone else in their comfort zone.

    And really, who would we bat leadoff instead? Personally, I would have gone with Schierholtz. He has speed and gets on base OK. Cody Ross was OK as an alternative, because when he's going well, he's getting on base OK.

    But C and SS were out, as both were now offensively challenged positions. And everyone else was pretty much middle of lineup, 3-6, Sandoval, Beltran when there, Huff, Belt, Keppinger at best was #2, but even he probably profiles more like a #7 hitter.

    That left the CF as leadoff hitter mostly. And as badly as Rowand hit, .233/.274/.347/.621 OPS, Torres was pretty much just as bad, .219/.310/.321/.632. So that is why Rowand got so many starts against LHP for a while. Career .818 OPS vs LHP, only .743 vs. RHP. And he was hitting .286/.309/.410/.719 against LHP, much better than Torres, .136/.296/.182/.478.

    Burrell out, Ross out for some, Torres out for a while too, Schierholtz out as well, with his aches and pains, Belt was out too, that meant Rowand got a lot of starts, mostly because we had no other CF worth starting. A player is hitting bad when Rowand is the better alternative in any situation, yet there we were.

  32. Also, Shankbone, if you'll recall, Baggerly reported that Rowand was not Sabean's signing. So don't blame Rowand's signing on Sabean, that was Magowan's doing (and for all we know, Baer too).

    The problem is that when you build up pitching first, your offense will suck and no prospects to come up, so you have to pay the old guys big money to start for you.

    More importantly: How many young men are available as free agents under the age of 29 who are very good?

    You say we should sign Reyes, but he's 29 next season, which by your definition is the new 36. So why would we want to sign him to any long-term contract, he's over the hill already.

    Few very good players go free agent before age 29, for if they are really good, their teams will buy off their free agent years with a huge contract.

    So who should the Giants sign then? Or should they go with Crawford and Adrianza and hope that one of them sticks? Should they assume Belt, Torres, Schierholtz will be a good OF and not sign anyone either?

    The Giants obviously agree that younger is better, else they would not have bothered to draft so many good young position players in the past few years. They would have kept on getting pitchers mainly with their better picks.

    And they should be ready soon, we already have Sandoval, Posey, and Belt. I think Crawford will eventually hit enough to justify his defense at SS, assuming we got the guns in the rest of the lineup. I think Brown will be our future CF and leadoff guy. Schierholtz will be around for a few more years as well. Panik has a good start towards being our 2B and #2 hitter. All we need is a LF and we got a pretty good looking lineup in 2 years. Then there is Tommy Joseph, Hector Sanchez, Ehire Adrianza, Charles Jones, RafRod, Chris Dominguez, Max Ramirez, Andrew Susac, Ricky Oreposa, Charlie Culberson, Conor Gillaspie, Nick Noonan.

  33. Hey OGC - Didn't mean to push buttons with cherry picking. Sorry, bad choice of words. I watched that hot streak, it was a mish mash of swinging bunts, high babip ground balls, etc. He never drove the ball, his power is completely gone. The doubles were rollers down the line, etc. I was so sick of him by then I couldn't be excited about it. He was a walking liability on defense, a spaz on the field and the clubhouse, and everything pointed to him being done.

    Its never easy to face mistakes. I agree that Rowand was forced on Sabean, no worries. The coolest thing about 2010 was them benching Rowand and having Torres there. It does make for hard choices, no doubt, with Torres taking a step back. The correct choice was made, it was just made 2 months too late.

    The overall stats they put up were historically bad, and its one of the principle reasons for not making the postseason. Look at what they are doing now. Should have been done when it mattered. So something a lot of fans pushed for, not monday morning, Tejada should have been let go at the end of May. Rowand should have been cut loose for Beltran, and Belt shouldn't have been sent down. A 3b sub? Conor G's d isn't as bad as stated, its just not good. Much better than Tejada. Or Mr. Huff, as Bochy won't bench him anyway, screw the D.

    That's what I would have done. As far as Reyes, yes, 29 is pushing it, but he's the youngest free agent there is. I never said 5 year deals, get it done! Get in the mix, and if you can hammer a 3 year deal (because thats sort of realistic) then you do it.

    Take a step back, you're defending Miguel Tejada. He was washed up as hell, and it was painfully obvious. Also, you didn't address what I said about Belt. I'll chalk that up to the anger over the cherry picking comment. Again, didn't mean to insult you, but look at the overall stats on Tejada and you'll realize it was a short sided miserable signing that is a major factor in the bad season.

    Kevin Towers cut bait ruthlessly, and it served him well. Justifying bad contracts with putting a bad player on the field is a losers game.

  34. Sorry Shankbone, was just a bit cranky, both about the Giants falling on their face here at the end, and yes, my button was pushed, but you have been very civil, so I feel bad that I took out my prior issues.

    I will trust that you saw what you saw. He wasn't the powerhouse he was last season but he was at least around average: average ISO NL is 138 and he was at 129 in the second half, per the above.

    Still my guess that he is still struggling on and off with swinging at the low pitches where he does not make good contact, instead of focusing on the pitches he mashes, which are higher in the zone, as per the research on this hitting I had quoted before.

    You probably focused on the poor hitting he did, but he can't be around average if he were doing what you describe all the time.

    Again, he's been among the better hitters on the team since the ASB. He's not what we thought or hoped he was, but he was still among the better hitters, at least for a long while, until recently.

    But like all good hitting spells, it was not like he was on the whole time, he was up and down, and this could just be a down period that would be followed by an up except that there is no more season to play.

    Of course, we'll never know.

  35. My point on Reyes is that you consider 29 to be over the hill (you called it the new 36, which I consider over the hill, so perhaps you have a different definition). To me, any contract beyond one year is long term when you are dealing with an over the hill player. Even the 3 year would be too long, especially at the $15-20M that he's looking for per season.

    But that is the logic to me, let me know what I got wrong in your mind here.

    And besides all that, Reyes appears to be to have entered into what I would call his Durham Giants years, where he's regularly injured and can't put in a full season any more. I can't deal with another Durham, wondering when he'll be in the lineup.

  36. As far as Tejada goes, I'm not defending the contract, if that is your point, I'm defending the Giants keeping him around longer and not DFAing him sooner.

    From June 2 to July 18, about 6 weeks, he hit .299/.348/.449/.796. That is among the best hitting by Giants in that period, besides Pablo, heck, any period really, the team's offense has been that bad.

    I just don't see how it is bad to keep him around when he's hitting that well, particularly while Sandoval was on the DL.

    The only alternative to me at that point was Gillaspie. He's defensively challenged and based on his minor league stats, he would be offensively challenged in the majors too. And the advanced defensive stats says that Tejada was good defensively at 3B, besides the good hitting I noted above.

    The Giants, once Pablo returned, rightly put him back at 3B. After that, Tejada did not play much at 3B, instead getting starts at 2B mostly, then SS before he got injured.

    I have no problem with all that, Gillaspie would have been a shot in the dark, a toss the jello to the wall to see what sticks. If he didn't stick, then the Giants are stuck with him at 3B until Sandoval returned, and at that point, most hitters returning from hamate bone surgery usually don't regain their power for a long while, up to a year.

    Tejada was providing good offense and good defense at 3B, he was a good backup in case Pablo returned too soon (which was another worry), as well as potential loss of his power.

    Fortunately, he was neither, and the Giants put Tejada at 2B, where we really wasn't getting any production from the guys we had, and really, never got any good production from there except for the brief period that Keppinger hit well during.

    I have no problem with holding onto Tejada, if Sandoval was not injured, yeah, I can see that the Giants might have DFAed Tejada sooner, but we didn't have a real alternative.

    Again, Gillaspie's stats are not that good in the minors, taking huge leap of faith installing him as the starter, that is not a move that a team competing to win the division title should be taking, that is a move made by a team with nothing to lose, like the D-backs, when they called up Goldschmidt. He was a hail mary that worked for them, one of many this season. It appears to be their season, at least in that regard.

    But I don't see how they continue it next year with that huge 1-run differential, or at least likely to continue. My study of that shows that very few managers have the ability to do that more than a few seasons. So the only way they repeat is if Gibson is one of those few managers.

    Possible, but I think he's more the Billy Martin types whose intensity can get teams to over perform for their first season, but then the players burn out on it, probably like what happened to Brenly for AZ.

    What is hopeful for them is if Bauer is like Lincecum and can add a boost to their team next season. If so, then they can return to normal in 1-run games and still be competitive.

  37. I basically agree with your statements at the end about cutting bait. I just didn't see the logic of cutting a player like Tejada who was performing well for us when we had no better alternative.

    About Belt, sorry, was jumping around, forgot to get back to him. I had a response in my head but I guess I never got to it.

    Let's view the situation at each point you note.

    First, his send down when Ross was off the DL. At that point, he was hitting .192/.300/.269/.569. No reason to DFA Huff after 3 weeks, no matter what sized contract he signed with us. Also, after catching LA by surprise, he hit .178/.288/.200/.488 after his first two games, with 12 K's in 45 AB. He was really lost offensively.

    Then he was brought up again, before getting hurt. Hard to tell with just 2 games, but he got a start at 1B, which I took as a sign that the Giants were giving up on Huff and was going to give Belt a chance except he got injured.

    Then he was brought up again, like you noted, beat LA but then was sat. You know how Bochy works here, we have two guys who don't deserve the job, he'll give both chances until someone gets hot. Unluckily for Belt, Huff got hot.

    Huff from that point on, hit .346/.406/.423/.829 the rest of July, then continued to hit well for another three weeks, before cooling off at the end, ending with a .255/.324/.426/.749 for the month of August.

    But for the month after that point you are complaining about Belt not starting over Huff? Huff was hitting .309/.370/.489/.860, which is basically what he was hitting last season. I have no problem with Bochy going with Huff over Belt in that circumstance, he sniffed a hot streak from Huff coming, and he rode it.

    And it was not like he shut down Belt totally, Bochy gave Belt two starts in Cincinati, and he did not do much there, 1 for 6, .619 OPS. Then they send him back down to the minors.

    He then got called back August 14, at which point he got 14 starts out of 16 games played, and he hit .220/.291/.440/.731, with 18 K's in 50 AB, which is pretty bad. So they rested him for 3 games, let him work on his hitting, got 2 starts where he struck out 3 times in 6 AB, then sat for another 3 games.

    Starting Sept 10th, out of 15 games he started 12 of them. He hit .222/.271/.489/.760 with 13 K's in 45 AB. Which is better because of the HR power, but still pretty bad strikeout rate.

    Besides the point where Belt then got injured, where was there a point where it made perfect sense to give the position to Belt, who has clearly been struggling in the majors to hit?

    He's been hitting better lately, enough, I think, to justify penciling him in for next season, but there was not really a point during the season where there was a combination of Huff doing poorly and Belt doing well, where it would make sense to DFA Huff or at least bench him, and install Belt as the starter, except when Belt got hurt.

    Belt's best chance was when he got injured. At his second best chance, that was when Huff got hot for a month. Now in his last callup, he has mostly started, getting sat down by Bochy when he was clearly swinging and missing a lot. What am I missing?

  38. Honestly, I thought I had responded to your Belt, particularly on this point.

    I clearly think Belt is better than Ishikawa and Pill. It is freaking obvious.

    I regularly talk about Belt as part of our future middle of lineup with Posey and Pablo. I have not mentioned Ishikawa in terms of the future of the Giants, nor did I Pill until recently, as a bench player for 2012. So I think I already know about Belt's talent level relative to his 1B minor league competitors.

    I know both have gone through waivers and did not get claimed. And I didn't need that to tell me something, I've seen their careers as a pro, I didn't expect either to get claimed, guys who can't hit that well but can only play 1B are not highly in demand. And I've never once said that either of them should be starting over Belt.

    Defensively, can't say whether he is better than Ishikawa, but given Snow's endorsement of Belt's defense (and at the time Snow said it, Pill was down there, and he was considered to be pretty good too, so clearly better than Pill), I will give him enough due to say that it would not surprise me if he is as good defensively as Ishikawa. Great defense plus potentially great offense, I've been sold on Belt for a long time now.

    And I know he can hit the ball far, I'm not too worried about that, it is the high strikeout rate which results in a contact rate below 70% (best hitters are at 85% and above) that I'm worried about Belt.

    I don't think the Giants have "completely screwed up this season with him." I think his injury screwed up this season for him, without that injury, he probably would have gotten more chances early on, the Giants clearly thought enough of him to bring him up to see where he is, and put him back in AAA when he had things he needed to work on.

    When he was ready to play again, he had the "misfortune" that Huff started hitting and well at that point. With his last call-up, he has mostly started and when the Giants thought he needed a mental break from the lineup to get his batting mechanics tweaked, they did that. I have no problem at all with what they did with Belt.

  39. Lastly, about Tejada and cutting bait, if he would have hit the .730 OPS with 8 HR in 235 AB that he did with SD last season for us, the signing would have been OK.

    I think that is a bit of hyperbole that this signing was the cause of our poor season.

    Posey, period, was the cause of our poor season. It was not like Tejada was replacing someone really good. Uribe was OK, but not the only SS, Renteria got a lot of ABs. Overall, Giants 2010 SS hit .736 OPS. And I can't imagine that their defense was that good, so Tejada was OK in terms of a replacement, not great, but OK, as he hit around that with the Padres.

    I think the hope was that since Franchez and Pablo are good defensively, they could help minimize Tejada's lack of defense.

    Not that the alternatives were that great either. Some have complained about not getting Barlett. .249/.311/.311/.623 is not exactly good either, and the defensive stats are poor as well, according to BB-Ref.

    Hardy was a miss, I'll admit, in terms of production, he fielded well as well as hit well, but given that it was the Twins, I suspect they overplayed their hand again and ended up with less than they were asking the Giants for. Jacobson is a fire-balling reliever and Hoey was a potential future closer before injuries derailed him. I would suspect that they were asking for Jose Casilla and/or Heath Hembree from the Giants, equivalent fire-ballers in our system at around the same level as Jacobson (he was #16 in 2010 BA prospect book). And for Hoey, I would think that they were asking for Santiago Casilla most probably.

    I know some people don't think much of relievers, but I don't know that I would have done that deal, plus, we would have had to eat Brendan Harris's contract as well, that was part of the deal too.

    Plus, we need to remember that at the time of the trade, we did not know that Hardy was going to do this well. In his two prior seasons, he collectively hit .247/.310/.374/.684, which was not that good either, and his good years were in Milwaukee, a very good hitter's park. In addition, defensively, he had been falling, and was negative in 2010.

    For that you give up two good relievers? Plus pay him $6M in arbitration? And eat $1M+ for Brendan Harris? At that point in time, I don't think that looked like such a good deal, even if you reduce the talent the Giants give up. Getting Hardy is nice thought, but his stats were not that great, we would have had to give up two good relievers, we would have had to eat a contract, and his defense had been declining.

    Not compelling to me, and certainly not the reason the Giants failed to repeat this season. I place this firmly on the shoulders of the ethically and morally bankrupt Cousins.

    I could have accepted this happening if Posey was blocking the plate (though I still would not be happy), but he went at Posey, he chose to do that even before he took off for the plate.

  40. Obviously, that play still got me steamed!!!

    Nowhere else in the basepaths is this allowed: you interfere with the fielder, you are out.

    I don't care if tradition loves the crash at homeplate, if you want to play the tradition card, then you want to go back to baseball mitts that barely protect the hands, as that was the reality when baseball started, there was the spitball, heck, there was the deadball era, as baseballs were frequently used until the cover came off and had a less lively core, that was the tradition long ago, in fact, a tradition that a famous baseball writer decried the loss of with the live ball era highlighted by Babe Ruth.

    Heck, this isn't even allowed in any other organized baseball league, only the MLB still allows this barbaric act. Even football doesn't allow their players to do this.

    When will the MLB learn? Probably when all the old boys club that runs everything dies or retires.

  41. Hey OGC -

    I can hardly talk about Posey still. I'm so glad he seems to be on the mend. The Gints season was toast, and I am proud how they battled on. Posey is a special player, who needs to catch to be truly special. We can talk about moving him around to other positions, but having a MVP type at a weak position is a huge advantage. I think he's a good enough player and leader that by his late 20s if not sooner he will be somewhere on the infield. I can see him being a Yogi Berra type actually - I was surprised to find out how much OF Yogi played...

    So Mr. Belt. I think at this point his confidence is shot. Why Bochy is taking him out for pinch runners in the 6th/7th inning, I have no idea, he's a good baserunner. Bochy has let him know he wants big swings at anything in the zone, and that is also messing with his head. Now wait! I said he was mentally tough. I stand by it, he needs to regroup. 22 years old, and he's been herky jerkied and then hasn't performed when given the time.

    I don't have any problem with you analysis of the situation, I just think a clearly defined roll and playing time would be in the best interest of developing our best 1b prospect since Will the Thrill. So off to the Dominican Winter League with thee, Brandon, get it back. I think Pill was rated our best defensive 1b before BB came along. Pill is intriguing as a pinch hitter, as a platoon for Huff, or as the guy at first base. Or he could be John Bowker the 2nd.

    Your Freddy Lewis points - you do have to look at hot streaks, and you have to look inside statistics. His UZR was off the chart! But man was he lost in the OF. I wanted to believe in F. Lewis - he was a later comer to baseball, great athlete, fast (I have a weakness for 5 tool speedy guys, who doesn't) all he needed was tiiiime! Well, he was given plenty of time like you said, and he couldn't adjust to MLB pitching. Still doesn't, until he faces... Los Gigantes.

  42. So onto my 29-36, 36-40. Lets take those exact numbers down, but my point is there are going to be less and less players getting past the 35 year old barrier. Thats the rub with free agents obviously, you have to pay for the declining (probable) years for more and more money, due to position scarcity, etc. Looking at it from the Mets viewpoint, they are going to put together the best offer they can roll with for payroll and make it quick. I think it'll be 5/75. maybe they can backload it. But they have an obvious need, and he's a big part of their offense. It makes no sense for them to offer less than that.

    If they do offer less than that, 2 things. One, maybe that is a red flag about his health. Two, some other team will offer that. So are the Giants prepared to go in like that on Jose Reyes? I would say no. It takes him to 34 years of age, and thats really pushing it for his speed to be effective. So at that point, I think you have to walk. I'm being tempered by the ownership shakedown, but you don't want to get locked up again on a non-franchise type player. Just remember - the Giants DO have the best free agent signing in history. We have one of the top 3 we're still paying for, but we do have the best free agent signing ever.

  43. Sorry got cut off - that should have been one of the three WORST with Zito. That coupled with Rowand definitely gives us pause. So yes, I totally agree, Reyes has major Durham potential, and I can't deal with another Durham either. I think he will get a major offer, and that would be a mistake to be the winner. As I said much earlier, Sabean should dip in, because if the market tanks for him, a 2 year big deal is worth it. Too bad, because he is ideal for us, but the latest injuries he has had coupled with the fact he isn't running at all really gives pause.

    So onto Tejada. What did Miggy do to Shankbone that has him so steamed? I should relax, Tejada didn't sink the season. I do think he was a terrible signing. Most the frustration is realizing we are back in the same ol' same ol' as far as shortstop, and its become a total wasteland in MLB. Quick and dirty: 13 guys had over 700 ops this year, here are the guys over 750 ops, in order: Tulo, Reyes, Peralta, A. Cabrera, JJ Hardy, Y. Escobar, S. Castro and Bonifacio on FL. Rollins is 11th at 727. Obviously this isn't the end all be all stat, but look at the crazy drop off offensively for that position. Reyes and Rollins will be the last SS's on the market for some time that can hit at all.

    So what to do? Well, go big or go cheap, don't stink up the joint with 6.5MM signings. I would have been happy with cheap options last year, and banking that extra 5.5-6 MM for a "rainy day" (Hah) And finally I have to admit to an irrational dislike of Tejada's theatrics, which I think messed up our cool cat clubhouse. Another time for that. Cheers, and I'm sure Rollins will be discussed a bunch this offseason as well, and that dude REALLY reminds me of Durham.

  44. Oh, hey, Shankbone, thanks for the exchange, I've really enjoyed it.

    Yes, Posey...

    About Belt, it's like what was said in press conference today, Pill can shake off the 0-for-4 days, while Belt can't yet. I wouldn't call it that his confidence is shot, I would say that he just haven't learned that yet. I think he will get it with time, but, it's a process, and you never know how long that will take.

    I think Bochy has made clear his role every time he was called up, whether he was seeing starts early on, or sitting on the bench with his mid-season call-up. I think it's more that Giants fans were unhappy with Belt's role. Bochy, however, was clear and stuck to what he said for the most part.

    Yeah, don't know with Pill. I would put him closer to Ortmeier than Bowker, Bowker achieved some good hitting in AA and AAA, whereas Pill and Ortmeier were merely OK at best. Still, he did well with his chance and you never know. Uggla wasn't that good in the minors either, so Florida stole him from Arizona and got a bargain. Can you imagine if he had made it with the D-backs the past 6-7 seasons?

    I love 5-tools too. That's why I still have hope for RafRod, though there are some who have already written him off.

    FLew, I too had hopes, but that point you made - later comer to baseball - is what turned me off on him.

    See, once he made the majors bigtime and started getting interviewed, he explained how that made him angry that people say that, because he loved and played baseball since he was young, he doesn't know how that story got out. Apparently somebody (Giants? Baseball America?) in scouting reports in BA noted his late start in baseball as way of explanation of why he appears to be so undeveloped. I have to assume it was unintentional, that it was an assumption that since he was splitting time between the sports, he did not devote as much time to baseball. But he was insulted by that false story.

    Once I realized that was not true, then I had no patience for him anymore, in fact, I doubly marked him down because anybody who loved and played baseball since youth should not be so clueless fielding and reacting to flyballs... unless he is not the sharpest stick in the bunch. And only the most talented can make it in baseball without something between the ears.

    I was also never that impressed with what he did in the minors either.

    Some players can rise to occasion, and good for him, he can bring it when against the Giants. Unfortunately, nobody can build an MLB career based on that. Not the sharpest...

  45. I see your point about 35, but I see another result.

    Hardball Times in a study found that there is a secondary peak in performance among 35+ year olds, and postulated that perhaps Sabean, in a Moneyball way, found an inefficiency there. That happens because they were taking averages across all players and apparently by that age, either you are done or you are still productive, resulting in the second peak.

    I think what we will see is less contracts extending into the late 30's. There is too much of a black hole there. I've seen this in the market too many times, just because the player is the best available player in the free agent market means that he should get the best contract that had been given before.

    That is the fallacy with the amateur draft that I've pointed out before. Some players will demand $XM since they are the Nth drafted, but in other years he might have been N+Mth drafted and gotten much less.

    And with implosions like Zito, Rowand, and Werth, and perhaps Crawford, I think that there will be less teams willing to go that long for the top available players, only the true stars will get them.

    The best available that don't make economic sense have been signed before, but I think teams will shy away from those going forward, despite the money coming in, because it is just so damn much that a mistake of that magnitude can put your team in the hole for years. The Nats have all those good young prospects, but Werth just kills their payroll, I don't know that they can recover from that and build off that youth. They have to hope that he just buckled to the pressure just one season and is not like that every season.

    Or worse, is a malingerer like Rowand who is unable or unwilling to live up to the demands of such a contract.

  46. Yeah, and I found out Rollins wants 5 years and closer to $15M per year, so I don't think the Giants will kick his tires after all. I will get more into it in my post tomorrow.



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