Thursday, February 24, 2011

2011 Giants Prospects Ranked by MLB Bonus Baby

One site I check regularly, and especially so leading up to the draft is MLB Bonus Baby.  The author recently  released his database of 2011 prospect ratings and I, as I am wont to do, did some analysis of the Giants prospects.

First off, I've never seen such an extended list of Giants prospects ever.  Impressive.

Top 2011 Giants Prospects

But first, he listed his Top 2000 (!!!) prospects for 2011, which I presume resulted from the database above, and the following Giants were the top (with their overall rank; see here for Top 50 2011 Giants prospects):
  1. Brandon Belt (63)
  2. Zach Wheeler (99)
  3. Thomas Neal (125)
  4. Tommy Joseph (179)
  5. Francisco Peguero (222)
  6. Rafael Rodriguez (224)
  7. Gary Brown (229)
  8. Charlie Culberson (233)
  9. Conor Gillaspie (282)
  10. Michael Main (314)
  11. Nick Noonan (330)
  12. Ehire Adrianza (460)
  13. Eric Surkamp (476)
  14. Jarrett Parker (535)
  15. Dan Burkart (547)
  16. Brandon Crawford (579)
Not that I endorse this methodology - which he did not release or explain beyond the very short description at his site - but I had previously found that the site has a lot of good information regarding players drafted and I think it is interesting to examine these lists, to see where it confirms our general impressions and where it converges.  Though I must note that ownership/authorship of the blog has changed since last summer, with this new guy taking over in December:  presumably SB Nation found a good replacement, and judging from comments on the announcement, it seems he's been doing this sort of stuff for a while and people are happy about the changeover.

First off, Belt is rated much lower than most services, which have him among the top 20-40 prospects in the majors.  But not all are believers in his bat, which I have interpreted as their taking into assessment how he hit in college and/or that they don't think he projects to hit that many homers, more of a gap-to-gap hitter.  I think these concerns are overblown, based on how well he hit (and his relative youth) in 2010. 

Wheeler is rated by some in the top 40's but some leave him off their list, so this #99 just reflects the wide array of opinions given his shortened season.  Pitcher who can throw in the mid-to-high 90's regularly, strikeout a lot of batters, AND get a lot of groundballs are golden, not sure why people are so scared of putting him higher.  I think a comp with King Feliz would be a good match, in terms of potential, but of those traits would give him a great advantage over MLB hitters: having all three is just killer.

There were more surprises among these.  Rodriguez, Main, Noonan are rated relatively highly in his system, while Brown, Adrianza, and Crawford are rated relatively lowly.  Interesting names that pop out include Gillaspie, Main, Noonan, Surkamp and especially Burhart.

Giants Prospects Ranked by Total

One stat he provides is Total, a number from 20-80 (mostly) based on a variety of stats including age to define a player's performance compared to players at his level.  Here are the top 15 (with their total):
  1. Edwin Escobar 73 LH-SP
  2. Ehire Adrianza 73 SS
  3. Charlie Culberson 72 2B
  4. Thomas Neal 71 LF
  5. Conor Gillaspie 70 3B
  6. Francisco Peguero 70 OF
  7. Jorge Bucardo 69 SP
  8. Kendry Flores 69 SP
  9. Brandon Belt 67 1B/LF
  10. Lorenzo Medoza 66 SP
  11. Nick Liles 66 2B
  12. Nick Noonan 66 2B
  13. Hector Sanchez 65 C
  14. Ydwin Villegas 65 SS
  15. Eric Surkamp 64 SP
  16. Jacob Dunnington 64 RP
  17. Marvin Barrios 64 RP
This attempts to rate how good a player appears to be in 2010, it seems, and it mostly captures what I think most would say were the most successful Giants prospects of 2010.

What I do like about the list is that it also captures names we don't regularly see among the Giants top prospects, like Edwin Escobar, Jorge Bucardo, Kendry Flores, Lorenzo Mendoza (first time I've heard of him), Nick Niles, Ydwin Villegas, Jacob Dunnington, and Marvin Barrios (another first timer).

Players who did not have a Talent value include Chris Dominguez, Gary Brown, Heath Hembree, Jarrett Parker, Matt Graham, Tommy Joseph, and Zach Wheeler.  Not sure why, but clearly he ranked them somehow as many made his Top 2000 list.  I would guess he used some combo of the three chances columns that he had.

I guess one thing I like of his system is that he takes age into account.  Noonan by most measures did not perform well and he fell on most lists, if not fell off the list, of Giants prospects.  However, he's was only 21 playing in AA where most players are a couple of years older or more, and people forget about that.

Top Ceiling Giants Players

Here are the top Giants ceilings, down to starter/solid regular for position players (10: all-time great; 9: superstar; 8: occassional all-star; 7.6 above average starter; 7.3 slightly above average starter; 7: starter-solid regular) and down to #5 starter/set-up (10: all-time great; 9: ace or top closer; 8: #1/#2 or closer; 7.6: #3 starter or setup; 7.3: #4 starter or setup; 7: #5 starter or setup) or 7 and above:
  1. Zach Wheeler 9.5
  2. Rafael Rodriguez 8.5
  3. Brandon Belt 8 (ties settled by highest floor)
  4. Michael Main 8
  5. Tommy Joseph 8 (floor ties settled by highest chance to majors - talent)
  6. Gary Brown 8
  7. Francisco Peguero 8
  8. Jarrett Parker 8
  9. Heath Hembree 8
  10. Thomas Neal 7.6
  11. Matt Graham 7.6
  12. Henry Sosa 7.6
  13. Hector Correa 7.6
  14. Charlie Culberson 7.5
  15. Conor Gillaspie 7.3
  16. Nick Noonan 7.3
  17. Brandon Crawford 7.3
  18. Roger Kieschnick 7.3
  19. Mike Kickham 7.3
  20. Wilbur Bucardo 7.3

The following were rated a 7:  Ehire Adrianza; Eric Surkamp; Marvin Barrios; Jason Stoffel; Brett Pill; Aaron King; Charles Jones; Clayton Tanner; Wendell Fairley; Stephen Harrold; Daniel Burkart; Austin Fleet; Chris Dominguez; Reinier Roibal (no particular order).

Remember, just ceiling, and most have wide spaces between floor and ceiling, and all the floors are at best replacement level players.  Still, good to see who might be pretty good if things work out and who is not really that good overall, at least in terms of potential for being a star.  It helps us to keep some perspective on how good any one particular prospect is or isn't.  And who maybe we should keep an eye out for. 

Top Giants Chance to Majors - Talent

He also calculated each prospects chances for the majors based on a number of different factors.  Need to remember that making the majors is not the same as doing well there, hence why I chose to focus on the chance to majors based on talent, as those, to me, are the most likeliest to be the star players we root for on the team.

  1. Zach Wheeler 87.9%
  2. Brandon Belt 87.0%
  3. Thomas Neal 86.7%
  4. Tommy Joseph 85.1%
  5. Rafael Rodriguez 83.3%
  6. Charlie Culberson 82.5%
  7. Gary Brown 80.9%
  8. Francisco Peguero 80.5%
  9. Conor Gillaspie 80.3%
  10. Michael Main 79.0%
  11. Nick Noonan 76.7%
  12. Ehire Adrianza 74.01%
  13. Eric Surkamp 72.9%
  14. Jarrett Parker 72.5%
  15. Brandon Crawford 69.4%
These are still a bit tainted by those who might make the majors but not star in it, but still a pretty good list.  Again, Rafael Rodriguez, Michael Main and Nick Noonan are surprises on the upside, but most are surprises to the downside.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2011 Giants Spring Training News So Far

Don't got time to link to everything (but basically everything is from Baggarly's blog or Schulman's blog), but I wanted to run through various news about the Giants so far and give comments as needed:
  1. Rotation is not set, though Lincecum is the opening day starter.  Lincecum admits that his conditioning wasn't as good in 2010 as it could have been but he's learned his lesson:  watch out majors!  With his pitches to get swings and misses against both sides, Lincecum should take another leap forward in 2011, I'm thinking at least a bettering of what he did in 2008-9 and I wouldn't bet against a sub-2 ERA.  Bochy would not be afraid of starting three lefties in a row since styles so different nor is Bumgarner starting out in majors out of the question.  But right now going with 5 throughout full season:  I would bet on this.  Among relievers, Suppan is trying to win long-relief spot, but that is not necessarily a spot Giants will fill.  There is also Marc Kroon who I like more for the last spot in the bullpen, he was a former closer in Japan and throws in upper 90's.  Giants also picked up variety of starters on minor league contract including Ryan Vogelsong, who we traded to Pittsburgh for Jason Schmidt.  He says he's glad to be back where all his friends are.
  2. Posey looking good, but Whiteside had an injury, though it doesn't seem to be serious.
  3. Huff is playing 1B, but Belt will focus on 1B this spring, so if he is to make the roster, he has to impress as a 1B.  Makes sense as ulterior motive, gives him higher bar to achieve offensively and thus easier for Giants to say he's not ready and put him in AAA.  Still, I think Belt should start the season in AAA and prove himself, the thing is that each level is a challenge, if it were easy, there would never be disappointments like Sean Burroughs or Andy Marte, you could just annoint them the second coming.  If you push Belt to majors and he's not ready, then the Giants would have had to drop someone who they like and could play some in the majors (probably Ishikawa and/or Schierholtz), and would not have anyone equally good to replace that player if Belt is sent down.  Wait until Belt proves he can handle AAA, then bring him up.  Also, by then, would know if Sandoval is OK or not, on the off-chance he flops, he can still be sent down to clear a spot for Belt.
  4. Sanchez looking good, shoulder surgery seems to be healed up nicely, but he hasn't been cleared yet for swinging at live pitching.  DeRosa is slated to focus mainly on infield work this spring, he is probably backing up 3B, 2B, and 1B in that order, plus some SS as needed.
  5. Sandoval looks great, lost a lot of weight, though if the numbers are right (30% fat to 19%, plus drop from 278 to 240), the head of the training company that has been working with Pablo is wrong, it is not 45 pounds of fat lost and 7 pounds of muscle gained.  The math works out to about 38 pounds of fat lost and Pablo keeping his non-fat weight basically the same, no muscle gain in terms of weight, though I'm sure his muscle is now in relatively good shape.  He also hit a homer first thing in batting practice, then another.  Latest news is that Sandoval was so out of shape that he was huffing and puffing on defense and it affected his swing against LHP, which explained why the Giants said that they sat him down because of defense, not offense, and why his great numbers vs. LHP in 2009 was so bad in 2010.  Sounds like he got all that fixed now.  Sandoval returning to 2009's form would go far in proving wrong those who said that the Giants stood pat during the off-season, it would be like adding a legit clean-up hitter to the lineup if Pablo is back.  I think 1000+ OPS is not out of the question.
  6. Tejada finally showed up:  he sounded all eager to join the team and win a championship, both when he signed and when he arrived, but almost all the position players had showed up early and Miggy showed up on the first day he was required (or maybe one day early), which does not jive with his talk.  Still, he should do OK here, we got .260/.318/.419/.736 from SS in 2010 and he has basically been around that the past three seasons, just under, around .730 when he wasn't down about being with the Orioles.  Ex-Giant Renteria explained that his pride kept him from accepting the Giants $1M offer (which they eventually upped with incentives):  too bad pride didn't keep him from accepting $9M from the Giants in 2009 when he hardly played and when he did, he was horrible.  I appreciate what he did for the Giants in the playoffs and helping us get our first World Series championship in SF, but don't trot out pride as a reason when you don't show any pride in accepting very good money for no production worth mentioning for two regular seasons.  Just say you have to watch out for your family and mention that there are good schools in Cincinnati.  :^P
  7. LF is the only competition of the spring, Pat Burrell is competing with Mark DeRosa for LF (even though DeRosa will mainly focus on the infield), though if Belt hits well enough to take 1B, he would push Huff to LF, ending the competition there and pushing any possible competition to RF.
  8. CF looks to be Torres, but the news here is that Rowand is NOT going to play any other OF position, he will only play CF, which a lot of people have berated because Rowand is now a bench player.  But the way I see it, all this means is that when Rowand IS playing, he would move into CF and Torres would play in a corner OF position.  And frankly, Rowand creates more player value in CF because he has not hit that well while with the Giants, whereas Torres actually hits well enough to create value in the corners.  Plus, this would explain the stance that Bochy won't name Torres as the starting CF, implying there is a chance that Rowand could win a spot in the OF, taking CF and moving Torres to LF.  I was hoping Rowand would be inspired by Pablo's fitness focus, but he reports that he once again trained by riding his mountain bike.  That is the problem with long-term contracts, the player isn't motivated to do anything to improve himself, it is all self-motivation.  He did at least work on his batting stance and it is reportedly not as "squatty" as it was in the past.  At least there's that.  And remember, as great as Torres played the past two seasons, he's never put in a full MLB season as a starter yet, as El Lefty Malo reminds us, he's prone to hamstring problems, and he's already 33 YO for the 2011 season, so age will cause a decline at some point.  Torres says, quote, "he's the in best shape of his life" but at his age, I find that hard to believe.  Still, better than riding a bike for fitness.
  9. Ross looks like the starting RF.  Schierholtz has been asked to play all three OF positions.  He has done this in the past, including CF, he will need to be flexible since Rowand is only playing CF and Burrell should really only be playing LF at best.  But don't forget, DeRosa can play RF at a high defensive level.  I see him splitting starting time at 2B, 3B, LF, 1B, and RF, roughly in that order, plus occassional SS, to give all the players some extra rest so that they will be that much more fresh later in the season and, should they make the playoffs (and they should), be that much fresher there as well.  Posey noted that he was tired late in the season (though it didn't seem like it since he hit so many homers in September), but got some of his gas back with the days off in the playoffs, and he's young, so I would think the old guys could use a break as well.  The MLB season is a grind, and having a DeRosa, who can hit well and field well at so many positions is a luxury and a great insurance policy should anyone fall injured or fail to perform, much like Uribe the past two seasons.
I still think that the Giants will go with only 11 pitchers to start the season, 5 starters and 6 relievers, holding Suppan and Kroon in reserve in AAA, assuming Suppan wants to stay.  That would allow the Giants to hold onto all their position players without losing one immediately and you don't need that much pitching typically at the start of the season because of all the off-days. 

I still think that Ishikawa is the first to go, particularly once Belt joins as a starter or when a reliever needs to be brought up.  I like Ishikawa as a player, he's not going to lead a team but is a great addition to any team with great defense at 1B and OK hitting there (OK as long as you have hitting elsewhere but he ain't bad either, would have been good in platoon, especially now that he's shown some expertise in hitting off the bench).  Too bad Seattle got Smoak, it would have been nice for him to go back to his hometown team. 

Then Schierholtz also looks like he'll be the next to go, once another reliever and Belt are added to the team.  Whiteside is necessary, and DeRosa and Rowand are not going anywhere.  That leaves Burrell, Schierholtz, and Fontenot.  I would rather drop Fontenot, but having only one backup MI is inviting disaster.  And Burrell presumably will be hitting well again, which means Schierholtz would be the one to go.  Burrell would have to hit like he did in Tampa Bay to get dropped, but he might accept going to Fresno and being around for September.

I have to think that the Giants are hoping to trade Rowand, some way, some how.  Lots of money will be shuffled along as well, but the hope has to be that some team really needs a starter, for whatever reason, and there usually will be at least one team in such a position by the time the Giants want to bring up Belt, which would be June-ish.  By then, Rowand only has 1.5 seasons and $18M left on his contract, making his contract that much easier to swallow for the Giants.  That would allow the Giants to keep Schierholtz, who I still think can be pretty good in RF (as in an average RF, with potential to be pretty good). 

I see no way beyond a disasterous injury for the Giants to keep both Ishikawa and Schierholtz.  Plus, it doesn't really make a lot of sense to keep Ishikawa with Belt around, presuming Belt is all he appears to be.  But even if he isn't, by the time the Giants give up on him, we could have other choices at 1B, such as Joseph, Dominguez, maybe even Sandoval too.  And, of course, Huff as long as he is hitting would be fine there.  Ishikawa is really the odd guy out on the roster right now, even if Rowand were somehow magically traded away.

Monday, February 14, 2011

2011 Big 6 Questions for Spring Training

In honor of Big 6 Christy Mathewson, I usually go over six questions facing the Giants at various points in the off-season.  Today, I'm tackling spring training.

Question 1: Pablo or Panda?!?

Many people are saying the Giants are standing pat, going stagnant, but they are wrong. The Giants are betting on several players returning to their prior production, one of whom, in a big way, one of them being Pablo Sandoval.

Will he be the Pablo of 2010 or the Panda of 2009? Of course, nobody knows, but I think Panda will be back. I've gone over his personal problems before, so I won't go there again, but the thing I should have emphasized more before is that he's a classic bad ball hitter in the mode of Vlad Guerrero, Manny Sanguillen, and others like them, who instinctively can swing and connect with the ball. So his problems at the plate in 2010 was more mental and not physical. Most people without a knowledge of the history of the game just don't understand that, and those who do have a knowledge are ignoring it.

If he can harness that with Barry Bonds' tutelege, that would be great, but really, people should just be happy that he can do what he has shown he can do. People are going in the opposite way of the pendulum today, towards the sabermetric side, and just put him down for not taking walks.  It don't matter he can't walk when you can hit like he showed he can in 2008, 2009, and April 2010.  Hitting is ALWAYS more valuable than walking when he supplies the power that he does. 

Of course, it would be great if he could take more walks, but WAIT, he actually wasn't that bad at it, the league average was 9.0% for BB% in 2009, and he had 8.2%, and the league average was 8.5% in 2010, and he had 7.6%, both within spitting distance of the league average.  It is not like he was like Bengie Molina or Juan Pierre or anything like that.  And his strikeout ratio was about the same as it was in 2009.  And once he started hitting for homers in June, for the rest of the 2009 season, his BB% was 9.7%.  I wouldn't be surprised if he beats the league average in 2011.

The main issue in 2010 was actually his BABIP.  It was at or above .350 in his two prior seasons, was only .291 in 2010.  As I noted, April 2010, he was basically the hitter he was before, and looking at the BABIP, it was, roughly, as his BABIP was .382.  After that, he couldn't really get it over .300, for the most part. 

Now, if it was because, as people posit, his poor plate discipline catching up with him or, as others say, his contact lens and vision problems, then why didn't his strikeouts skyrocket?  It didn't, overall it was essentially the same as it was in 2009 (13.1% in 2009, 13.2% in 2010, an increase of roughly 0.25 strikeouts on a ratio basis, in other words, basically the same).  For those theories to work, he should be striking out at a higher rate at minimum, and really, if these were correct, he should be striking out loads more, particularly for those who cite poor hitting approach:  13% strikeout rate is among the best in the majors, and he did that with his "poor plate discipline" or even his poor vision.  If either or both were true, his strikeouts should have gone up a lot based on their theory.

In case it is not obvious, this is my opinion, you can call it psuedo-psychology if you wish, but I counter that is more poor analysis on the part of others.  I'm happy to wait for the season to start and we'll see who is right and who is the psudo.

Question 2: Will Brandon Belt Belt?

One of the real no-brainer question of the spring. Some think he's a sure thing, but judging by how poorly he did in AAA (albeit small samples), he will probably need some time in AAA to prove himself after a 2010 season where he proved himself all through the minors plus the AFL, giving the lie to the Sabean Naysayers who say the Giants mishandle position prospects. The problem, as I've said before, is that the Giants position prospects haven't been that good.

But he could still break out and make the team with a great spring, and by that, it won't just be hitting well, many players have done great in spring only to fizzle in the regular season, Bowker being the latest example, Randy Elliott being a well known example to Giants fans of a certain age, but rather he will have to show the coaches that he knows what he is doing rather than just being lucky, as I think the Giants will err on the conservative with him.

So I can see the Giants sending him down while he's raking and the Sabean Naysayers will have a knipshin.

Whether or not the Giants are doing this because of control of the prospects, which is an understandable on the part of fans, people also need to remember that management needs to think long-term, we should want our team to get basically an extra year of control over the player. Let's put it this way, aren't you glad we got an extra year of enjoying Lincecum, Posey, and Bumgarner?

And to those who said it might have cost us in 2010, all I can say is: how did it cost us, the Giants are the World Champs.

Question 3: Who Will the Outfield Starters be?

To most, it would not seem to be that big a surprise: Burrell in LF, Torres in CF, Ross in RF. But this is a corrolary to Question 2, because the outfielders are not only competing with each other, they are competing with Brandon Belt, who if he makes the team, pushes Huff to the OF, leaving one less OF spot and then the musical chairs started.

However, Huff is now a year older on the wrong side of 30 and now has one bad season followed by one great season (albeit two great seasons out of the last three), and history is full of players who have one last great season, signs a contract, and is eatting dust the rest of the way (Robby Thompson is one Giants example). 

Even if Belt does not make the team out of spring training, almost all the potential starters have question marks that need to be answered.  First off, Torres is alwo a year older on the wrong side of 30 and haven't put together a full season of superior performance, though it is not totally his fault, he just figured out hitting before the 2009 season, and any team would make him prove himself (he did strike out an inordinate amount of time in 2009, which is not something you want to see out of your lead-off hitter).  El Lefty Malo has made the point numerous times on his blog that his health is something we need to watch out for, given his age and body type (sprinter type something have lingering hamstring problems).  I'm hopeful that his perseverance to improve as a hitter indicates the way he thinks, and he'll do all he can to avoid physical problems, unlike, say, Ray Durham or Aaron Rowand.

Ross is coming off a sub-par season, and it wasn't like he was consistently good previously, he only had two good full seasons previously.  However, he was with a sinking team with a lousy owner.  Once he was given the chance to start for the Giants in September, he hit like he did in 2008 and 2009, plus, of course, had his great playoff series.  Still, he turns 30 and that is an age milestone warning sign, maybe he just got hot for a month, just at the right time for the Giants.

Burrell is also on the wrong side of 30 and the eldest among the probable starters (though just barely ahead of Huff).  He's also a statue in the OF, though an above-average statue, as his defensive stats, per Baseball-Reference.com, says that he added a win with his defense, and according to the same stats, he was actually average in LF with Philly, contracting his image as a poor fielding and suggesting that perhaps defensive stats are still in need of tweaking, giving all the poor commentary on his fielding over the years.  Either that or most LF are just that bad, that is where teams put their poor fielders just because of their bat, because, after all, these measures typically compare the player with other players playing the same position that season.  Still, despite his great season for the Giants in 2010, most remember his poor 2009 and early 2010 with Tampa Bay and the scuttlebutt during the off-season was that Burrell wasn't going to be a starter.  After seeing a guy hit like that in 2010, I find that hard to believe, but it is true that players his age is stumbling down their decline years, so we will see.

Then there is Aaron Rowand, Nate Schierholtz, and Mark DeRosa, the potential bench players.  Rowand, as gamer as he was made out to be, got to be hurting psychologically.  He probably won't get better until he leaves the Giants, but if he is as mentally tough as he was made out to be, Rowand, when he's going good, is actually a pretty good player:  unfortunately, he can't sustain that good streak for very long before getting injured in a Giants uni, and his season is toast.  Schierholtz is similar in that he would be world-beating for 2-4 weeks and look like the second coming, then he would hurt something and come back too soon, making his stats look bad overall.  If either can stay healthy, Ross could have a hard time keeping his spot in the starting lineup and Burrell too. 

DeRosa has been an excellent (+1 win) defensive player at four different positions (2B, 3B, LF, RF) and come up as a SS, so I think he probably would be passable in CF and 1B as well, and could start a game or three at SS - I would rather have him in there than Fontenot, just saying - so he's probably not making the starting OF, he's going to be rotating around those four positions and, if his batting stroke is back, probably get into 100-120 games with maybe 15-30 starts at each position, get some DH duty, plus a lot of defensive replacement duty, and be the first guy to start if anything happens to Sanchez at 2B or Sandoval at 3B.  He's not going to get to start in the OF unless his surgery improves his hitting against RHP, which is the thing that has held him back offensively, though he's still OK against RHP, just not good.

So really, this is just another application of last year's risk mitgration practices that the Giants have been doing in recent years, where we can cobble together a performing starting lineup out of the people who are left standing after others have fallen, either physically or in performance. 
Question 4: Playoff Starting Pitchers' Fatigue?

This is another obvious area for people to focus on, due to the large number of extra innings pitched by the starters, particularly for Lincecum and Bumgarner, and Sanchez because he basically hit the wall during the playoffs and wasn't that good in his last three starts.  The Chronicle listed the grim stats as a part of their excellent series of daily articles about the Giants leading up to Spring Training (I wish they would provide one page to access all of the whole series):
  • Lincecum: pitched 21.3 more innings than he ever did
  • Cain:  pitched more innings before the playoffs started, a total of 27 more innings than his high before.
  • Sanchez:  pitched more innings before the playoffs started, a total of 43.3 more innings than his high before (and as noted, it showed).
  • Bumgarner:  pitched 44.3 more innings than what he says he did in 2008 between Class A Augusta, their playoffs, and Arizona instructional league
They will all be watched carefully by the Giants for any signs of fatigue or physical problem.

I'm not that worried.  Krukow's standard is jumping 25 more IP than the season before.  Lincecum was under that and Cain was only 2 IP above that.  FYI, they made much larger jumps in their first major league season and no bad effects showed up in the season afterward.  Both of them should be as good in 2011, particularly Lincecum, who had some learning pains in 2010 plus learned a new pitch that now gives him an out pitch against any hitter.  I would not be surprised by a sub-2.00 ERA season and approaching 300 strikeouts in the season.

Bumgarner, as I noted previously on another post, threw a whole lot more pitches between starts when he was in the minors.  At roughly 20 IP over the 25 limit (and remember 2008 was an even larger jump for him from 2007 because of his turning pro) and assuming 15 pitches per IP (should be on high side for him), that is 300 extra pitches.  With 24 starts in Augusta that season, all he had to do was roughly 15 extra pitches in-between starts to make up that difference, and remember, he was amazed that MLB starting pitchers threw so little in between starts and had said publicly that he would scale back his throwing because he suspected it was the cause of his poor velocity in late 2009.  Plus, he was effortlessly throwing mid-90's in the World Series game and he felt fine when he started pitching again in January, he was not fatigued at all.

Sanchez is the biggest worry, but even then, I am cautiously optimistic.  He has made an greater leap in IP before, when he became a starter in the majors in 2008.  That did not affect him in future seasons, his ERA has dropped sharply two years in a row.  He had deadarm in 2008, when he hit the wall he was pitching very well for a good dominant stretch and had an ERA just under 4.00 at that time, but he was great down the stretch in late 2009.  He also has Scott Boras as his agent, and as much as I hate his tactics from a team perspective, he certainly seems to have it going for his clients and has a physical fitness center somewhere in Arizona that helps his clients train and be fit.  He has a big investment in keeping Sanchez's performance at a high level in his last two season left with the Giants and will certainly make sure Sanchez gets the best medical advice on how to survive this jump in IP.

While the starters must and will be monitored by the Giants, I am not worried for the most part.  Should one starter go down for a while, while Suppan or Runzler will not be an ideal long-term solution as the #5 starter, the Giants survived 2009 OK with very poor pitching from the #5 spot for much of the season, until Penny joined, and we now have a much better offensive team than we did back then.  The key is surviving to the end is keeping four of our starters healthy and performing, not all five, a luxury we can do now that we have a better offensive lineup to trot out there.

Question 5: Who Will Win the Last Spot in the Pitching Staff?

The pitching staff is pretty much set, much to the joy of all Giants fans:  Lincecum, Zito, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner as the starting pitchers, Wilson, Romo, Affeldt, Lopez, Ramirez, Casilla in the bullpen.  That's 11 and the Giants normally carry 12 pitchers.  Suppan, Runzler, and a bunch of players signed to minor league contracts will vie for that spot. 

I'll bet that Runzler will end up in AAA Fresno to start recrafting himself as a starting pitcher.  I believe that part of this exercise is to give Runzler more IP to work out his control problems, he just walks too many batters right now to be no more than a good reliever, but he would have closer ability with his strikeout rate if he could ever get that walk rate under 4.0, elite closer at under 3.0.  And at just about the right time too, if he develops, as Wilson will be almost into his free agent years around that time.
I think Suppan will win that last spot, only Mota is the only real contender for that spot right now.  If, that is, there is a spot.

Technically, there is no need for a long-reliever early in the season.  Heck, technically no need for a 5th starter, but if IP is a concern with the pitching staff, you would help things by easing up on Bumgarner while piling on the other starters.  So that spot could go to a position player, making this a trick question, a position player could win that last spot instead of Suppan.

Another reason this is the probably way to go is that there are so many potential OFs that the bench is full.  Assuming that Belt does not make it as a starter to start the season and that the starters work out the way most of us think, that leaves Whiteside as the backup catcher, Ishikawa as the backup 1B, Fontenot as the backup middle infielder, Rowand and Schierholtz as backup OF, and DeRosa as backup corner positions.  That is six bench players when there is only a five player bench when you carry 13 position players. 

Given that Ishikawa is the most likely player to go once Belt makes the majors, I expect the Giants to showcase Ishikawa during spring training and work out some sort of trade.  I've been thinking Seattle might want to give him a try since he grew up nearby and they could use a great defensive player since they rely on pitching with King Felix around.  But any team that is re-building and looking for a starting 1B might be willing to give up some prospect that they have given up on but that the Giants like in exchange for Ishikawa.

I've liked Ishikawa for a while and think that he would be OK playing 1B offensively while shining defensively.  He would be like a Rob Deer type, low-batting average, higher OBP because he can take some walks, higher SLG because he can hit the long-ball, but with the bonus that he is among the best fielders at 1B when starting regularly.  I think he can stick around for a long while like Deer did in the AL.

Unfortunately for him, he did not seize the ring when given the chance in early 2009 and Huff returned to his regular hitting ways instead of duplicating his poor 2009 season.  However, he'll have a nice memento for the rest of his life, knowing he contributed significantly to the team as a backup and as a non-grousing member of the bench, something Kevin Frandsen could have been doing for the Giants in 2010 had he didn't feel the need to mouth off to the press.

The only way he stays longer-term is if the Giants were somehow able to trade away Aaron Rowand during spring training.  I think they will showcase him and let him hit and if another team is convinced enough by that performance that he is healthy and ready to contribute, like the Phillies or White Sox, two former employers who believe in him, the Giants might be willing to pay $6-8M of his $12M salary per season to get rid of him.  If the other team wants any more than that, then he's basically being paid like a bench player by the Giants, so why not keep him around in case we need him for some awful reason?

Spring training should expose who will win this final spot on the roster, as many will be fighting to stay with the Giants via that spot.
Question 6: Will the World's Champ Crown Still Fit?

Sometimes when a player does great in his first season, he gets a swelled head and think very highly of himself, too highly.  When you have a team like the Giants, winning it all in their first shot at it in the playoffs, it could lead to some over confidence on the part of some of the players, and the Giants the way they are built need virtually all their players to perform to their expectations in order for them to make the playoffs, which should be the goal of any team for the season, because the playoffs is such a crapshoot in terms of winning it all, in any case.

So far, all the players are saying the right sports platitudes about not letting it get to their head, keeping it real, and helping to remind their fellow players of that fact.  But it is one thing to say it to the media, another to do that in the field and around your teammates.  Huff and Burrell together, plus Cain and Wilson on the pitching side, look ready to prick the balloon of anyone who dares to be complacent.  They have a chip on their shoulders because many people, including Giants fans (but not this one) are saying that the Giants in 2010 was a fluke. 

Spring training should  expose those who slacked off in any way, and with so many movable parts, the Giants could easily bench or even trade those players who are not sticking to the program. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Big Red: Chewed Up and Spat Out

There was an interesting article written recently by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports on the well-known sabermetrician Voros McCracken.  Voros, who I found out his real name is Bob, was the inventor of the DIPS - Defensive Independent Pitching Statistics - concept, the revolutionary theory that any ball in play is independent of the pitcher, i.e. the pitchers have no effect on the batted ball (and, of course, there have been various follow-ups by others that cover qualifications on that, particularly Tom Tippett's study of the effect over the history of the game and the types of pitchers who DO have an effect on the batted ball), which brought about a revolution in the direction of sabermetrics that still reverberates and dominates discussions today.

Unfortunately, it is not a happy story.  If anything, it is a cautionary tale of what happens when you have a great idea which you shared with everyone but did not make much money on it (and really, the $30,000 the Red Sox paid him was not much), and becomes the old story of "what have you done lately?" 

He apparently is at least slightly bi-polar, which is a really bad condition to have, and that could be a reason he is in the position he currently is in.  I have read about how this can ruin some people's lives, and from personal experience, a family friend's son had that and it did not end well.  This could make it hard for people to work with him or, frankly, to rely on him, if he does not have it completely under control.

OGC Thoughts

I feel bad for Voros. I'm surprised none of his "buddies" at that internet chat site who went on to create Baseball Prospectus and probably other sites, don't give him some sort of job, kind of honorary, like how the Giants have had Willie Mays on the payroll, to help repay the debt owed him from the industry that he spawned with his discovery.  Might not be much, but at least enough so that he is not under threat of losing his apartment.

Of course, maybe he just doesn't manage his money very well, but it does not seem like he has gotten enough money to even think about doing that.  The Red Sox certainly didn't, they just signed him for a year at $30,000, don't know what they were hoping to get out of him for that small a salary.  Plus giving him just a year too, though I suppose that him being bipolar might have made him tough to manage as an employee.

MLB are Skinflints
That is one thing that really bugs me about baseball.  MLB teams appear to be penny-wise and pound-foolish from what I have seen about how they run their operations.  I thought the Red Sox was more atuned to the sabermetric community, but they didn't really give him much of a chance with a one year job at $30,000, disrupting his other plans.  Or was he just that bad?

In the article, he claims to have helped them with the draft with his analysis of the amateur players, as their first round selections were good:  Clay Bucholz, .Jacoby Ellsbury, Craig Hansen, Jed Lowrie, and Michael Bowden.  It was noted that he felt proud that they all made the majors.  And while Hansen and Bowden have not been that good, Ellsbury, Buchholz, and Lowrie have been pretty good in the limited time they have played in the majors, excellent returns for the Red Sox's draft dollars.

Annual Annuity Returns

And that is the gold mine he should be mining now.  He says that he's not willing to talk with any team and give away another million dollar idea.  However, the article hints at his next million dollar idea, even if the columnist did not quite grasp that:  assisting teams with the draft.

Voros is missing out on a big, and more importantly, regular payday by consulting with teams on the draft.  If he is as good as he brags about in the article - and the WAR for Ellsbury, Buchholz, and Lowrie, particularly given their draft position, suggests that he is - he would have the equivalent of crack for any MLB team's front office:  finding good players in the draft, and in a more efficient and effective way.

Though as a contrary note, if Boston really thought that he contributed greatly to the selection of those prospects and provided them with an edge, they would not have let him go, even if he were fully bi-polar and very crazed by his condition.  As we can see with other distruction, yet productive, personnel, like Milton Bradley, teams will condone extremes as long as you produce.

Missing Ingredient:  My Draft Study Results
Still, the numbers are interesting once you include information from my study of the draft.  Using my findings from my draft study, I calculated the historic odds of finding a good player when picking from the 23rd pick overall to the 47th pick overall.  That is roughly 6%.

Using the binomial distribution and assuming 3 good picks (Ellsbury, Buchholz, and Lowrie) out of the 5, the odds of accomplishing this is roughly 0.2% at those odds had he been as bad as MLB teams historically, suggesting that if Voros' recommendations were utilized for these five picks, he most probably exhibited some skill (actually a lot of skill) in selecting amateur players.  To get a probability of 5% or less, where statistical significance would be, when finding 3 good picks out of 5, the odds of finding a good player with any pick would need to just under 20%.  Which according to my analysis would be picks after the 10th pick, roughly.  Small sample but very significant, nonetheless, because the odds were so low of it happening if he were as bad as teams been historically (and assuming we give him full credit for all the picks).

And at that point of the draft, the prospect to pick is already extremely non-obvious.  Even the first few picks of the draft is not always obvious, but it gets progressively worse as the first round moves on.  And by the time of the end of the first round, most teams find a good player roughly 11% of the time, even worse so in the supplement first round, averaging out to 6% to cover for all those five picks.

How Valuable is Such a Skill?

So let's go ahead and assume that he is as good as he and that one year of drafting suggests.  Further, lets say he's not even that good, that he's "only" good enough to find 1 of 3 in that pick range (33% vs. the 60% in the above), which is roughly the number of picks a contending team might have in a typical draft year, with their regular pick in the 21-30 range, plus two supplemental first round picks for Type B free agents who they let go and earned picks.

So what is his advantage for such a team?  At 6% average chance of finding a good player, they will find on average roughly 1 good player every 5 draft years (15 total draft picks over 5 seasons of getting 3 picks each season).  Voros, assuming he is as good as this one draft suggests and that these were the guys his system recommended, would get you 1 good player in each of the 5 draft years, 5 total good players in total, once developed. 

I don't think I need to get into WAR calculations or bonus comparisons or salary calculations for anyone to see that Voros, if even half as good as suggested, would be extremely valuable to any team.  Heck, you could halve it again and he would still deliver 2.5 good players in 5 seasons vs. 1 for the average team.  How much would that be worth a team? 

I would guess roughly $30-50M because when you look at the odds for finding a player and calculating the overall cost via bonuses per each good player a team drafts, MLB teams are paying roughly $15-30M per good prospect found when you add up all the misses incurred as part of the process of drafting and developing prospects.  Voros could cut that cost at least in half, if not more, if he is only one-fourth as good as indicated by that one Boston draft.

Or, showing how much more efficient he makes the draft process (as well as effective), he is cutting the cost of the team for finding a good player, from $15-30M to $7-15M, saving the team $8-15M per good player found.  If the team agrees to give him, say, 10% of that, that would be $800K to $1.5M per player, depending on how the team wants to calculate it.

So, basically, if he can deliver one good player for every three picks in the first round or supplemental first round, he would save a team millions of dollars because of the pre-free agent production of the prospects, help the team competitively re-fill their farm system so that they can keep making the playoffs every year within their budget, and if he can get a piece of that savings, he would get his million dollars, eventually.

Voros Million Dollar Business Plan

Voros basically needs a business manager to handle the details, but here is the rough business plan I would suggest he follow.  If he's really interested, just contact me and I'll be happy to smooth out the rough edges, best that I can. 

Elevator Pitch

Drastically improve a team's chances at locating good MLB player via the draft, speeding up the re-building process for a playoff contending team multi-fold, enabling it to keep making the playoffs indefinitely.

Value Proposition/Competitive Advantage

A study's results suggests that once a team is contending, their odds of finding a good player via the first round of the draft drops at least in half if not three-quarters relative to that of the first few picks overall.  The worse teams in the draft will find roughly one good player in the first round every 2-3 years, while the best teams in baseball is looking at one good player in the first round (assuming only one pick) every 9 years.  This makes it nearly impossible for a contending team to rebuild via the draft while they are winning and would doom them to an eventual re-building once the good players leave the team. 

Voros's prospect evaulation knowledge would turn a contending team's picks into as good, if not better than, the worse teams in baseball, providing a huge competitive advantage to the team and provide them with the ability to prolong their contending ways indefinitely.

Business Model

This is the perfect repeatable revenue model:  the draft is held every year, with new prospects for the most part.  There are at least the 10 or more teams contending for the playoffs, plus if he is as good as this suggests, he should be able to help all except possibly the 5 worse teams in the MLB.  And those 5 he still might be able to help, that is still a pretty good success rate (60% but small sample) vs. the usual odds for those picks (roughly 45%).  The key for Voros is monetizing that skill.

Initially, teams will be very hesitant to use this service.  This is not a get rich quick scheme, as Voros will need to demonstrate his abilities first, publicly via a blog and by hitting up friends at THT, Fangraphs, and Baseball Prospectus so that he can write about what his methodology ranked as the best prospects in the draft are, and publish thoughts there as well. 

Lots of fans and other organizations, such Baseball America and The Perfect Game, publish their thoughts - for free - on the web regarding who they believe to be the best amateurs in basball, and this information is eagerly devoured.  They also have paid areas that people subscribe to, and that money will keep Voros solvent while waiting for his big payday.  This is like giving out free samples so that the user gets hooked and eventually be willing to pay big time for his service.

Voros will demonstrate his abilities for selecting amateurs by reporting every year on his past rankings, using the various prospect ranking services, such as Baseball America, The Minor League Baseball Analyst, Keith Law, Baseball Prospectus, and John Sickels, and show where his picks fell among the top lists, plus for those who are now in baseball, provide WAR information from Baseball-Reference.com and Fangraphs.  Each year, there will be a new draft to report on, creating a history of picks over time, to show how well his ranking did. 

In addition, his ranking will be compared with the actual draft selections, to show how well the teams did.  He could use his ranking to produce shadow drafts, one for each team, 30 in all, where he acts as if he were the team and he would go through his rankings and select the player his ranking says, vs. the one the team ended up picking, and do that for, say, the first 3-5 rounds. 

However, I would probably start out by publishing only the first round picks, as those are the ones people are most interested in, but doing the work out to 3-5 rounds so that he can see how well his system is working deeper into the draft, and see how far his methodology works out to.  If those are interesting, then he can publish the shadow drafts.  Those can also be compared in future years to show how his methodology would have improved the particular team's results, had they used his ranking instead of drafting the people they did.

Initially, he will have to do this for little pay, other than via ads on his blog and perhaps subscribers to his information.  But that is cool, as he needs to do this investment in order to get the opportunity later for big money.  He can juice the ad revenues a bit by breaking up his rankings into multiple pages, which will result in more pages being viewed, and thus more ads being viewed.  He could also write on his blog on whatever projects he might be working on, and share some ideas out there with everyone, but keeping his best ideas aside to develop for future services and future million dollar paydays.

Success, which will be demonstrated with these annual ranking examination of how well he did generally and particularly versus what MLB teams have done, will get some teams interested.  Cold calls will have to be made to teams using his name as a way to get a foot into the door.  Success as shown via these blog posts will be the evidence and case studies that they need to feel some assurance that perhaps his rankings are as good as advertised.

Initially, payment will need to be fixed and probably token amount initially but still have ability to sell to other teams and to publish the list after the season ends and be able to evaluate the picks.  Teams will not be willing initially to do anything more than that.

Eventually, Voros should attempt to get payments tied to success in the draft.  Again, token amount initially but still have ability to sell to other teams and to publish the list after the season ends and be able to evaluate the picks.  Certain amount for the player starting 100 games in the major leagues, then 250, then 500, and at 1000 games.  Probably will have to negotiate individually with each team to determine how much they are willing to pay for each milestone.  As a consultant, that is the holy grail:  getting teams to pay you for the value received.

Once Voros has proven his expertise, eventually he can charge big money (his million dollar target) for the ranking itself and more still for exclusivity.  Such success could eventually lead to multi-million dollar paydays eventually if Voros can be as successful as he was with Boston on a consistent basis.  It is just a matter of time IF he is as good as he showed with Boston and if he is patient enough with the process of building a business like this.

Patience and Demonstrated Expertise Are the Keys

Because prospects take a long time to develop, up to 6 years for most (roughly 4-6 for most), there will necessarily be a long ramp up to this business, as it will take a while to establish credibility in the business.  Success as big as the Boston draft would speed up the development of business, however, perhaps cut it in half. Still, it will take a lot of evidence piled up before baseball teams will be willing to hire Voros to help with their drafts, so the goal of a million dollar payday will probably take at least 10 years to reach.  That will take a lot of patience, but unfortunately, bipolar people do not have a lot of patience, they tend to do things impulsively.

That is where a business manager comes in for Voros.  Vorus needs to focus on making his rankings and perfecting that methodology and let the business manager handle the rest of the "stuff".  The manager will have to work out the schedule for the blog posts, handle business calls from teams, handle any subscription details and ad revenue generation details, basically handle all the business operations beyond creating the product/service, which is the rankings.  He or she needs to make sure things happen and on time.

Voros will have to pay the manager some fee, but that is the price if Voros cannot handle all this by himself.  They could have a partnership and share the profits in some way, or work out some other deal with the manager.  It all depends on what Voros is comfortable paying and what the manager is willing to accept, and thus is all negotiable.  Voros will just have to understand this (and he might, he said he was studying to be a lawyer before, and the way they are paid would be similar, though not as lucrative as a lawyer) is how it works.

Nobody is going to hand you a million dollars, but it is there if he wants it and is willing to work for it.  Good luck!  And thank you for your contribution to my enjoyment of baseball!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I'm Still Alive!

Just wanted to note that I'm still alive and kicking.  The lack of posts this off-season is partly because there is not that much news this off-season, but also because there are a great crop of Giants blogs that I've been reading a lot of and spending my time commenting there.  As I noted in the original purpose of my blog, part of the reason I started it up was because I was not finding a lot of things like I wanted to read about the Giants.  That is no longer true.

Now, I can't go through every blog (I have provided links to all the ones I'm aware of down to the right) and therefore will risk insulting some, I thought I would give some shoutouts to ones I've been reading frequently recently:
  • El Lefty Malo is de rigueure, I've been going there forever
  • DrB's When the Giants Come to Town is a great addition, I've been reading his comments forever at other blogs, glad he finally put up a shingle.  Great info on prospects there, best around, I think, plus he's very knowledgeable about the Giants as well and will throw out sabermetrics now and again.
  • Paapfly is a new one that I read a lot, lots of cool saber analysis there; got himself a gig at THT recently, congrats!
  • Splashing Pumpkins is another new one I read a lot, lots of good current Giants news there and links to other sites, plus their original work as well
  • Bay City Ball is another great one for saber analysis, and ESPN links up to them
  • I enjoy me some 8th Inning Weirdness as well
  • I was recently turned on to 24 Days of Magic
  • Also baseball monk
  • And Remember 51, though they have not written in ages, they must have went into a coma sometime after the 5th game.  :^)
  • And for general baseball stuff as well as Giants mixed in, there is Saber by the Bay, though they haven't done a Giants post in a while...
  • And another recent one for Giants stuff that I've been checking out is Triples Alley
And, of course, there are all the other usual suspects that any good Giants fans probably already know about, and they are in the list down below as well.

Giants Thoughts

But I haven't been doing nothing.  I am working on an update of my analysis of the draft, using updated and better player measurement.  That's a huge project and I will probably put it up in pieces before the next draft.

Up next will be my going over a chapter of Baseball Prospectus' book which is a strong part of the foundation upon which I have built my ogc business plan.  There is a lot of good information there that most people don't know about, and since the book is out of print (at least, Amazon itself is no longer selling it), I figure it is safe enough for me to discuss one chapter out of the book without disturbing the copyright police.  This chapter provides a lot of good info that I used in my business plan, so I thought it would be good to put this out there so other perhaps will understand as well.

And I will do my usual Big 6 lists just before the start of the season (Big 6 in honor of Christy Mathewson, who was nicknamed that).

Plus, of course, cover any big news that happens during spring training, which starts soon:  pitchers and catchers report next Monday, Valentine's Day, 2/14, position players next week Friday, 2/18.

Play Ball!

Go Giants!!!  Again!!!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

A's Owes Giants Big Money If They Want to Move to San Jose

There was a recent column in the San Jose Mercury by Mark Purdy (I would like to link except that they put the article behind a paid wall after a while and I hate links that don't work after a short while) complaining about the Giants blocking the A's proposed move to San Jose by mocking the Giants connection with San Jose. 

One laughable part of the article was that the Giants showed how little they care about San Jose by not bringing any of the San Jose Giants staff to the World Series.  I don't mean to pop any bubbles and illusions, but big corporations don't usually reward every employee they have, it is usually the ones in the main corporation that gets the treats, not the ones in all the various divisions underneath.  And San Jose had nothing to do with this decision, I'm sure that any staff who lived in San Jose got to go too, they weren't left back at home just because they lived in San Jose.

Another laughable statement was that Purdy thought that the Giants owe the San Jose Giants for producing 10 of the Giants players.  FYI, the San Jose Giants did not produce the prospects, the Giants signed them and have been moving them though their Giants minor league affiliates using the Giants hired coaches.  San Jose is just one of the venues at which the Giants had THEIR players play in order to develop.  There is nothing in the San Jose air or water that "produced" our Giants players, except for former Giant Kevin Frandsen, who was born and raised down in the South Bay area, I believe in San Jose.  It would have been more appropriate to invite the parents and coaches of the players because they had more of a hand in producing the players than San Jose the city ever did.

I find that Purdy and the San Jose Mercury staff who have written about baseball in San Jose to be understandably biased towards the A's moving down to San Jose.  Afterall, the Mercury would become THE newspaper for a major league team and just think of the advertising revenues that would rain down on them should the move happen.  And they are particularly civic-minded and thus support initiatives that will bring big business bucks to San Jose.  Still, that is a bias.

But he does hit the nail on the head when he says that the Giants simply want money from the A's, and ultimately for the A's to move away, so why not be open about that.

Giants Thoughts

I agree that the move is about money, but that would be the decision of the owners of the Oakland A's to move because they could always pay the money to the Giants in order to move to San Jose.  Heck from what I gather, and I realize that I only know part of the whole situation, Wolff could have moved the A's to San Jose long ago if he were willing to pay off the Giants to move down to the South Bay.  And that is the Giants right to ask for such a relocation fee, just like in any other business.

A's Can't Give What Wasn't Theirs In First Place

Now there are some who opine that the Giants should not get any money because the A's "gave" them the South Bay territory when the Giants were looking to relocate to Santa Clara, that the Giants don't really own the rights.  Plus they note that Oakland is even closer to SF than San Jose, so any claims by the Giants on that territory is bogus.  But I don't understand that stance, once you look at the whole history of territory ownership in the San Francisco Bay Area.

From what I understand, the Giants owned the whole territory for the San Francisco Bay Area once they moved to San Francisco - much like how Baltimore owned their whole area - which includes the South Bay.  I don't believe that there was any relocation fee paid by the A's when they moved into Oakland and entered the Giants territory, probably because that wasn't important back then.  So bad on the Giants for not asking for a relocation fee back then.  I would bet Charlie O., cheap guy that he was, would have chose one of his various other choices, like Louisville, had he had to pay the Giants any money to relocate to Oakland.

However, later, the A's agreed to the Giants re-taking the South Bay territory.  So bad on the A's for not asking for money then too.

Money, Money, Money:  MONEY!

But as far as I'm concerned, the Giants have a long-term right to the South Bay territory, they owned it when they moved to San Francisco and that right was re-asserted when the A's conceded it to them later.  It was their territory the moment they became the San Francisco Giants.  They only ceded it when the A's entered the territory, but then got it back when the A's ceded it back.  If the A's don't want to pay that, they could instead move to another unclaimed territory and avoid the fee, that is how the MLB relocation game is played today.  

For example, the Nationals gave the Orioles around $50-60M in concessions in order to play in Baltimore's territory.  The Giants can't do anything about Oakland, since they got that territory now, but if the A's want to move down to San Jose, they should pony up similar amounts of money (plus inflation, baseball-style, at roughly 10% per year) for the right to move within the Giants territory once again.  It has been 6 years since that deal was struck, so we are talking about something in the $100M range.

Not Even Close

Purdy ends with the suggestion that it would be better for Giants fans in the South Bay to be able to attend Giants-A's games in San Jose than to visit the World Series Trophy.  Is he crazy?  I would rather visit multiple Trophies than to ever attend a single Giants-A's game in San Jose.  The key, for me, is that if the A's pay the Giants the money they want, then the Giants will be able to afford to win multiple World Series Championship trophies. 

Those young pitchers don't pay for themselves (well, sort of, in that they probably draw bigger crowds on the road and full houses at home, but you know what I mean).  But if the A's give the Giants something in the $100M range, they will be able to afford to keep Lincecum, Cain, Posey, Bumgarner, Sandoval to the latter part of the 2010 decade, which would enable the Giants to possibly win multiple World Series Championship Trophies to add to their 2010 World Series Championship Trophies (never gets old...). 

If the Giants can keep that core together, they will have a chance to add multiple, but that will take money, whether Neukom sells more shares in the Giants to raise money, sell the team to a tech billionaire who can spend a lot of money, or enforce his team's rights to the South Bay area and get a relocation fee from the A's.

Put Up or Shut Up Time

I can understand Purdy's and other San Jose baseball supporters' frustrations with the relocation process.  Wolff, now in his mid-70's truly might not make it to see the move happen.  But it all boils down to money, and the A's, at the moment, are not willing to pay the Giants enough to make them move off their position right now.

Many, like Purdy and others, seem to feel the South Bay should not rightfully be in the Giants possession, but a proper evaluation of the ownership of territory over the history of the Bay Area shows that the Giants should have had ownership of the territory for the entirety of their existence in San Francisco.  For that right, the A's should pay the going rate for such a move, which any other team would have to pay had they decided to do the same; the Nationals give the most recent example of what the going price is.

MLB baseball should be playing the mediator in this case, and work out the money details, like they did in the Orioles-Nationals case, but has been dragging its feet.  Perhaps Selig is still mad at his former college roommate for some slight?  (Wolff and he were college roommates, or something like that)  I had originally thought that relationship would favor Wolff, but if anything, Selig is taking a hands off approach, perhaps to show that he is not playing favorites.  Or maybe Wolff has been opposed to paying any money.

And payback is a bitch, sometimes.  Maybe the Giants don't want to play nicely.  Perhaps the A's should have been nicer to the Giants all those years when they were daunting their rivals with billboards pointing out the San Francisco Giants' lack of World Series championships.  Perhaps they should not have targeted the Giants negatively in their TV commercials ads.  They certainly could have ruffled the feathers of some of the Giants front office with their in-your-face advertising, and if so, the Giants front office would then not mind seeing the A's twist in the wind right now.

In any case, as all things in business, it comes down to Dough-2Give-2Me, and the A's hasn't been singing the right tune yet to the Giants ears.  I bet part of the slowness of the A's to realize this is because they are hoping beyond hope that since the A's "gave" the Giants the South Bay rights, they might be able to just take San Jose without paying anything.  Baseball dragging their feet suggests that this position is folly, and that the Giants rightfully own the territory, and the sooner they come to their senses and start negotiating with the Giants for the rights, the sooner they will call San Jose home.

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