Friday, February 17, 2012

Mike Newman Prospect Chat on Fangraphs And Giants Spring Training!

On the eve of the start of the Giants spring training for the 2012 season, ran across a chat by a Mike Newman, who writes a blog named Scouting the Sally.  He writes for Fangraphs and, er, scouts the South Atlantic League, or Sally to afficionados.  He had been a player, scout and coach, and wanted to get back into the game in some way, and took this route.

Here are some key moneyshots of Giants and NL West prospects:

Brandon Belt

Comment From Tony in SLC:  Having a hard time letting go of the dream called Brandon Belt, if he gets playing time he's easily the 3rd best hitter on the team, right? Thursday February 16, 2012 4:16 Tony in SLC
Mike Newman: Well, Belt is teaching prospect followers that age-versus-level does matter regardless of the numbers. However, he really does need 600 plate appearances or the chance to go somewhere else. I can see Huff playing because he's being paid well, but Schierholtz? 28 with a .750 OPS is a find 4th outfielder, but no way he's a starter on a first division ball club.

obsessivegiantscompulsive:  Again, people assume the Giants don't like him.  They were the ones who discovered and nurtured him.  He is far from a failed prospect, he will get his chances, he is not like Freddy Lewis or John Bowker, or even Nate Schierholtz, all unheralded prospects, Belt was rated in the Top 20 last year and the Giants have been very good at identifying who to keep and who to not keep.  They know what they got, and they will give him a lot of chances. 

Given the comment by management about rushing prospects, I expect the Giants to be more conservative in 2012 in bringing him up.  Meaning first that he will need to beat out Nate Schierholtz for a starting spot in spring training, and if he doesn't, he'll start in AAA until either an OF or Huff struggles enough for the Giants to bring up Belt (assuming he isn't totally struggling).  I hope that doesn't happen, but you never know - just look at last season.

My expectation is that Huff will be good, high 700 OPS range, but not 2010 good, Pagan will be an OK placesetter but nothing special enough that Gary Brown will be blocked, and Melky will be good enough that the Giants will probably try to sign him to an extension of some sort, as he'll be a free agent at the end of the season.  However, as much as I like Nate, he has a history of extreme hot and coldness plus eventual injuries that I expect one of them to happen, resulting in the opening of 1B for Belt at some point, pushing Huff to LF.

But that comment about Nate starting not a sign of a contender is a result of what I call the lack of understanding how powerful it is to have a pitching staff and fielding defense as great as the Giants have.  With such a strong overall defense, keeping the RA/G very low and among the top 3 the past three seasons, and which I expect to happen again in 2012, you only need an average offense to win.  And Nate, if he can handle a full season at .750 OPS is average, when you include how great he is on defense plus how well he runs the bases, generating a lot of extra bases each season, is perfectly fine for us in RF.

Gary Brown

Comment From Jack: From most top prospect lists, I get the feeling that Gary Brown is one of the more controversial players. Why, do you think that is?  Thursday February 16, 2012 4:54 Jack
Mike Newman: College players dominate the California League. He more or less did what he was supposed to do. Francisco Peguero did the same thing and was a meh prospect. Should Gary Brown repeat in double-A, I'll buy into his production much more.

ogc:  As nicely as Brown did, I do agree to a certain extent that Brown's overall numbers were not great, and thus a concern.  However, that is why you need to sometimes look into his monthly splits and see what he actually did. 

First Inning provides his splits and his April/May look like one talent performance set, then he was out of sync in June and then July/August (Sept small samples; for example his K% of 16% would be OK 12% if you take away one strikeout) is another set.  Initially, he was striking out a bit, and borderline OK, around 85% contact rate, which is the mark of a good hitter.  He also walked nicely in April but settled into his talent rate in May.  He struggled in July and struck out a lot more.  Then he got his strike rate down, kept his walking, and looked a lot better than July, clearly, or even early in the season.  He adjusted.

His overall .405 OBP looks great, but if you take out his struggles in July then he was around .430 OBP for the season.  His OPS of .922 was pretty good, but not clearly outstanding in the league.  However, without his July, he would have been around 1.100 OPS for the season, which is extremely good for the season.

Of course, the key question is whether he's going to struggle for a month again in AA, then AAA, then the MLB continuously.  They way I view it, prospects will have these in-season adjustments.  Obviously, if he can keep it going for the whole season, that makes it much easier to discern, yeah, he's good.  But obviously, at some point, for the better players, the league can't adjust back, and he's consistently good, that month would be gone from his full season performance.  I think one month of adjustment, versus many months of good play is what you want to see on the players who are more borderline in terms of prospect certainty (many doubted Brown's ability to adjustment, particularly his ability to take walks).

I really like his track record of adjustments.  He wasn't that great in college, he adjusted and by his junior season, he had the highest OPS of any hitter in the Big West League.  In the Cape Cod League, his first year was not that good, but he came back the next year and he was pretty good.  In the pros, where there is a lot more games, that adjustment happens in-season instead of between seasons.

I also like his attitude that I've see in all his interviews online.  These have been a boon, in my eye, to getting a feel for the guy's psyche.  He has a good head on his shoulder, does not take himself seriously, and just views the challenge as getting better all the time. 

The good news too is that with his great defense, he could rise to the majors and be an average player sooner because with his speed and good eye at the plate, his BABIP should be above average, helping him to keep his OPS at least replacement level to begin with as he adjusts to the league and improves.  And his OBP should be good enough initially to justify inserting him at leadoff sooner than later, and the power should come later, as that is part of his game that he says he works on, in the interviews I've seen.

I've very excited by him, I was excited after my analysis after the Giants drafted him and I'm even more excited now that he's had a great first pro season.  As much as the Giants talked about not rushing prospects, I think that if he does well in the Eastern League to start, they will promote him to AAA by mid-season, to see if he can take over the lead-off/CF position well enough so that they can let Pagan go in the off-season or if they need a lead-off guy for 2013.  I am drinking the Kool-Aid enough to think that he will do this and get some call up experience in September, before making the team in 2013.

LAD's Rubby De La Rosa

Comment From Rick: Did I read that Rubby De La Rosa has the best fastball that you've seen in the Sally ? Thursday February 16, 2012 5:00 Rick
Mike Newman: No, Rubby has the best fastball I've ever scouted... period. He never pitched in the Sally. I scouted him twice in Chattanooga last season before his promotion.

ogc:  Ugh, that's not good to hear.  He could help the D-gers recover from losing Kuroda, someone to watch for 2012.

AZ's Paul Goldschmidt

Comment From Philip: Speaking of 80 power, what was Goldschmidt considered to have when he was there? Thursday February 16, 2012 5:05 Philip
Mike Newman: I'm honestly not a big Goldschmidt guy, but may have been a little too hard on him when I scouted him last summer. I saw a touch of slider bat speed and wondered if it would translate well to the bigs, or if he'd be destined to make a living off of bullpens and #5 starters. I'm still not sold, but a 25-home run first baseman with strong walk rates has considerable value for sure.

ogc:  I am not a big Goldschmidt guy either.  Looking at his numbers, I think he was very lucky and will have a regression season in 2012, where playing the full season he'll be exposed.  Still, as he noted, power like that could keep him in the lineup, he could be their replacement for that strikeout-homerun 3B Mark Reynolds who they traded to the Orioles.   But back to the Giants, a regression like that will be good for the Giants, they will probably have to sit him down, and he'll probably have a season similar to Belt's 2011, except that he'll get a lot more AB's and playing time, because I don't think that they have any good alternatives.

SD's Cashner/Rizzo Trade

Comment From AJ: Who will end up getting the better deal in the Rizzo/Cashner trade. Is rizzo's wing too long to be abel to hit for avg and/or good power numbers in chi? Thursday February 16, 2012 5:21 AJ
Mike Newman: I didn't understand that deal from SD's perspective. For Chicago, buying low on Rizzo for Cashner who seems like a closer (maybe) in the end strikes me as a steal.

ogc:  Yeah, I didn't get the trade either unless SD is pretty sure that Cashner is a future dominant closer.  Then again, maybe they saw something about Rizzo that didn't look good to them and sold low.

SD's Casey Kelly

Comment From Tom: ETA and ceiling for Casey Kelly? And general question - do you think too much emphasis is put on K and BB rates below AA ball for pitchers? Thursday February 16, 2012 5:29 Tom
Mike Newman: Kelly will be up this year and now appears to be more of a mid-rotation guy. As for K/BB rates, for older prospects, they are laughably blown out of proportion. For age appropriate guys, they deserve a closer look for sure. however the numbers can be tricky as hitters simply can't handle fringe breaking balls at the lower levels in general leading to crazy numbers.

ogc:  This chat make the A-Gon trade look worse and worse.  Rizzo is sold low on for maybe a closer, and Kelly is now profiling as a middle rotation guy now.  For A-Gon, you would hope to get more.  Maybe that's why Hoyer left now, while the getting's good, as he maybe felt that he was on the ledge with SD's management.  Good the Giants if they don't get good value for A-Gon, that and the Latos trade could help to keep them in the cellar.

I highlighted the last two sentences because I believe in them.  If the prospect is older than the league, then his extra experience and development should lead him to dominate, so you have to take any good performance with a large grain of salt.  If the prospect is age appropriate, then the way I see it, you want to see him among the league's leaders, as confirmation of his goodness.  This is especially so for prospects who are younger than the league.  The more of any outlier they are, the better the probability that he can translate that to the majors.

If you look at the league leaders, you will always find players who are older than the league up there, and if you go far back enough and look to see if they are in the majors, most are not.  They will need to prove that they are good at every level they rise to.  And most usually fail at some point.

But if you find age appropriate (Shandler books says 22 YO is age appropriate for AAA, 21 for AA, 20-ish for Advanced A, and 19-20 for A), then if he is among the leaders then that is a good performance for him.  And if he is younger than these ages, then his rating goes even higher.  These types of players have a greater probability of making it in the majors, at minimum as a regular starter for a while, and if he develops, an all-star.


  1. Newman's comment about Brown had so many kinds of wrong in it.

    Even if you take overall numbers, how is Brown's OPS of .925 not significantly better than Peguero's .846 and .828?

    As for Peguero being a meh prospect, he actually did alright for himself in the very tough EL in a season he started on the operating table. I think a lot of people look at Peguero's walk rates and write him off without further thought. A lot of those same people made the same mistake with Pablo Sandoval.

    The term "impact player" is thrown around a lot and can mean almost anything you want it to. Look, I don't expect Gary Brown to be the next Ricky Henderson or even a Hall of Famer. I'm not saying he won't be a HOF'er, but I'm not expecting that. Prospects don't have to be HOF'ers to have a positive impact on their team.

    Gary Brown has a lot of the same tools and skills as a guy who played for the Giants in the past, Dan Gladden, except Dan Gladden moved of CF. Now, think of Dan Gladden sticking in CF and being a plus defender there. That is a pretty darn valuable ballplayer and that is what I think Gary Brown's floor is. If Gary Brown reaches his floor, I guarantee he'll have a better career than at least half the players drafted higher than his #24 slot. He could be a lot better than that.

    Looking at it from another angle, Brown profiles to be close to a 2 WAR player with his defense alone. If that's true, all he has to do is add another 2 WAR on offense, league average, to be a perennial 4 WAR player. How many MLB players are able to consistently put up 4 WAR seasons and since when does a 4 WAR season not make an impact on your team?

    1. Thanks DrB, I didn't get into it as I was going to note your comment about this on that chat comment area. Yes, I didn't get that difference statement either, so I wanted to show also that outside of his struggle, he was actually very good.

      Yeah, people act like there aren't a lot of successful hitters who are aggressive hitters who don't take a lot of walks. Getting on base is not the be all and end all, you need guys who can hit too and drive in players. It is this one-sided, one-size-fits-all mentality that is actually the antithesis of the sabermetric movement, a lot of sabers are like the "ol' baseball men" who thinks one way is the right way. In baseball, there are many different ways to provide value.

      Comparing a player to an ideal and saying he is lacking is not useful commentary, the key question is whether that player can contribute to a team winning.

      Yeah, impact is a term that differs from person to person. and really, I think the root of this centers on the fact that a lot of people don't understand the power of having a MLB leading defense, which resulted in a top 3 showing for the GIants the past three seasons, the only team to accomplish that, and the Giants not only did it with pitching, but also fielding, they are among the leaders based on DRS.

      So Gary Brown on any team in the majors? Probably not an "impact" player, more of a complementary player who is a good piece of the puzzle. On the Giants, which sorely needs 1) a leadoff hitter, 2) a strong defensive CF, and 3) a cheap position starter, he will have a great impact on this team. Pairing that with our middle lineup of Sandoval, Posey, Belt, and that will be an even greater impact.

      Frankly, a 4 WAR player is an impact player, I think that these people think of him more as a 2 WAR type player, about average. For the Giants, about average is very powerful because of the great defense.

    2. There was another article on Fangraphs, actually Rotographs, looking at Eric Hosmer's plate discipline as if it was a big problem. They put up a list of a bunch of hitters who had plate discipline numbers similar to Hosmer's. The crazy thing is, almost every hitter on that list was a very good if not great hitter! I mean, just looking at that list pretty much proved the OPPOSITE of the point they were trying to make!

      Then when I made a comment about rookies having to have a larger strike zone due to umps giving them the Rookie Treatment, a huge argument erupted between people criticizing my comment and giving me +1's. LOL!

  2. Time will tell, but I think SD will be proven to be right about the Rizzo move. Right now, he has a giant hole in his swing that ML pitchers take advantage of. that's not to say it can't be fixed, but he may have to log more time in the minors to work onit. Since SD traded for Yonder Alonso, they needed to open 1B for him. I'm not particularly sold on Cashner yet, but he may prove to be servicable. I think this deal was more about Alonso than it was about Rizzo.

    1. That makes a lot of sense Boof, thanks for sharing.

      Well, after the Alonso trade, I think they had to trade him, and I thought that what they got was very little. And maybe that is all he is worth.

      So I guess the thing that really struck me more was my other point, which is that the Red Sox fleeced the Padres in the A-Gon trade.

  3. Good thoughts OGC. Caught the chat and agree with both you and DrB on this. The OBP/Walks obsessed crowd hammer Frankie Pegs so much its getting to be a bit tiring. He has the hit tool. It may not be undervalued by baseball guys, but stat guys are so overboard on OBP now BA is almost ignored. You bring up RBI's and you're a cave man. I think its gone way too far the other way.

    Brown was the ROY of the Cal League. Only hardware, but he distinguished himself a lot. BA named him to their entire minors All-star team, first team. When you are mentioned with Mike Trout, people are paying attention. And that's true with Brandon Belt as well. They have national spotlight on them, something much different than Giants hitting prospects of the past. I am completely with you on both the caution and the enthusiasm for GB.

    De La Rosa and Little Dee Gordon are the 2 keys to the Doyers, and the reason I don't discount them. He looked wild in the first few games I saw him in, and then he started looking really good. That fastball is pretty amazing.

    Finally, just wanted to say sorry for bailing on the DrB conversation we had going. I find the whole thing fascinating, but it gets to be a big subject really quickly. I really enjoy your draft study. Can't say that enough.

    1. The problem is that people forget that getting hits has a lot more value than getting a walk. Getting hits doesn't help just OBP, but also SLG, particularly if he is able to hit for some power, which he is expected to do at some point.

      Hits are ALWAYS better than walks. But he also needs to hit for some power as well to make that pay off as a hitter. That is what I felt was the genius of Ted Williams Science of Hitting book. You can't be a Juan Pierre or Emmanuel Burriss and hope to provide good value as a hitter.

      I totally discount LA, they need their prospects to pay off big time just to reach .500, that is a lot of ifs that one should bet against, but be aware that sometimes it does work out.

      Sorry If I gave the impression that you guys didn't enjoy my draft study. But I know that there are some parts that people just don't get, so I try to point it out.

      But I understand wanting to do what you guys do, keeping the pick. It is just that I understand the other side as well. It sounds like that you guys do but just feel strongly that you keep the pick no matter what. I respect that, though I feel that is non-optimal. And really, when the odds are that low, I think as long as you have a strategy that you stick to, that is more important than whether you keep the pick or not. The Giants owners penny-pinching, I think we all agree, however, is not a good strategy, ultimately.

      And no bailout, I know it gets hard with that much commenting. Cheers.

    2. I reread this, and wanted to clarify that what I meant is that your choice is sub-optimal given the Giants goal of competing for that season, which was the goal of Giants management. Your decision is perfectly fine when the goal to is maximize your future farm system.

      Of course, I thought the Giants choice was sub-optimal for their goal of competing, they should have signed Vlad, and it would have only cost a little more beyond the money they would have committed to Maddux, and would have truly been worth given up for Tucker.

      But their choice of punting the pick was still a fine application of business strategy, with such a low success (and really, I probably should start calling this low population of good baseball talent that develops, to DrB's point about scouts having skill in finding and identifying good talent) of finding a good player in that range of the draft, punting a pick is perfectly legitimate as a business move if the money freed up enables the team to sign someone useful.

      Tucker was useful, helped them win 91 games, and as we learned in 1993, winning a lot of games does not guarantee you the playoffs, so all you can do for any season is give it your best shot and let the pins fall where they may.

      I still don't know why I have to defend myself, but again, I'm not saying I would do what the Giants did, I would have worked to sign Vlad, much like they pursued Bonds, much like they usually quick strike on a lot of free agents, but punting a draft is a tactic that the low probability of finding talent with a back of first round pick, makes a valid business move, a calculated risk that more than likely pays off at little cost, most likely. That is like a lot of business moves in any other business. But it is ultimately not the move I would do myself.

    3. I would not say they should keep the draft pick at ALL costs. If a true "impact" player presents themselves for FA signing and your team is in a win now mode or if the FA is somebody you feel comfortable building the team around for then next 5 years or so, yes, by all means sign the FA.

      If the Giants had made a decision to sign Vlad, just to take one example, I would have had no problem with forfeiting a late first round draft pick to get it done. You just don't do it for the Michael Tucker's of the world who was little better than a replacement player.

  4. The Tucker as a useful player is tough for me to swallow. I know the stats are there, barely, but to me he is the start of a bad string of mediocre OFs. He represents the bare minimum, a weak effort at replicating Grissom, who Sabean did a nice dumpster dive on in 2003, was OK in 04, and done in 05. I think we deserved much more than the bare minimum (I know you do too with your Vlad comments) because you want to tilt the odds highly in your favor, not just do the minimal to get by. You've given the 91 game quote a couple times. My point is they needed to be at 94, and Michael Tucker wasn't the guy to get them there. He was a bad choice.

    That is the double edged sword with Sabean's vet love, and plug in with what you can find. You get some goods, like Uribe, Grissom, Huff and Burrell. You also get some bad, like Neifi, Tucker, Tejada and Roberts. At times it can be pretty damn lazy. I'll give you a more current example: Jeff Keppinger. His defense was beyond bad, he was a concrete boot statue out there. How could they have missed that?

    I would be careful discounting LA. They have good key players, and their pen is improving by the dead wood getting peeled off. Look at the improvement by Arizona just by improving their pen. Kenley Jansen and Javy Guerra are much better pieces than burned out Broxton and injured Kuo.

    Realize I'm sounding negative, and I'm actually quite positive about the year upcoming. I'll end with the Belt conundrum. I think the way they are approaching the whole PR aspect is excellent. They raved about him last year, and expected him to replicate Posey. He's not that player. He is a Williams type player to Posey's Clark, like you said. This lowering of the profile while still giving him the opportunity is good stuff. Even better, Buster's first catching session went like gangbusters. Spring training is started!

    1. Frankly, I'm kind of shocked to get this response from you. Then when is there enough wins? Should the goal be 104 wins every season or you consider it a bad season? 94 wins does not guarantee you a golden ticket either.

      And the only move, from Sabean's viewpoint, of trying to reach 94 wins instead of 91 wins, would have been to trade Matt Cain to get a 3 win player to make up that difference. He didn't have any other chips that valuable in the farm system he was rebuilding.

      I still think he made the right move, balancing the needs of the current season and the future of the Giants. No way I would trade Cain (and I'm not saying anyone else would, only that this is the logical consequence of trying to win more given the situation Sabean was handed by the penny-pinching ownership group), but if giving up on the very slight chance that a draft pick might become a good player would help the team get above 90 wins, I would do it.

      Over the last 10 playoffs, a team with 91 wins would have made the playoffs in 7 of those seasons, and 6 out of the past 7. The Giants were not lucky that season.

      Still, if I had my druthers, Sabean would not have been put into the situation of having to choose between a useful player and a draft pick. Draft picks are the life's blood of any pro sports franchise, and any owner who don't realize that don't really know sports at all and should not be in the business in the first place.

      Neukom had it right, decisions should be made from a baseball standpoint, within reason, not a rigid, inflexible goal of "$130M payroll". Surprisingly, none of the Giants ownership appear to know that agility today is a key characteristic of successful organizations today.

      Sometimes the buck must stop there, but in the case of Tucker v. Draft Pick, ownership should have ponied up the money to do both, instead of forcing Sabean to chose between the two. The logical decision for Sabean, based upon the small likelihood of success with the pick balanced against the needs of the organization that season, made it a calculated risk that was worth taking, but ownership should have made the logical decision to raise the payroll $1.5M so that we could have kept that draft pick. But they did not.

    2. I did a little more digging and in the 17 seasons the NL has had three divisions and the wild card, a team with 91 wins would have been in the playoffs in 10 of those seasons. 92 wins would have gotten a team in 13 of the 17 seasons.

      So perhaps 92 wins is the better goal, but it is not like a team can be that exact in their planning. Shooting for something at minimum in the low 90's should be the goal.

      But aiming for mid-90's would result in wasted resources if you end up trading off the future in order to reach mid-90's today. If you can reach mid-90's with what you currently got, great, I would keep that, but to trade off the future just to move things up a notch from low-90's to mid-90's makes too much of a sacrifice in terms of future competitiveness, at least where we are in our rebuilding cycle, where we still have mostly young stars. Perhaps in 5-7 seasons, when our guys will be in the early to mid 30's, it would make more sense to trade off the future to win today.

    3. I should note also that I was OK with the trade of Wheeler for last season, that's the problem with generalities, it sometimes falls apart in specific situations.

      In this case, we were already far ahead in the standings, and we had won it all in 2010, so they decided to go for it in 2011, in order to defend the title. Plus, Beltran was pretty good. And it was mid-season, where we knew our situation much better.

      Trading in the off-season, there is a lot more uncertainties regarding the upcoming season. It would not make as much sense to trade off the future unless you thought you were already lacking. And us being in the up cycle of the rebuilding phase, with our young stars maturing and still developing, you have to anticipate some level of upward improvement in production from them. Thus trading off the future does not make as much sense in this situation.

      And I would not be as happy to do such a trade in mid-2012, we need our prospects to develop in order to stay competitive in 2013-2016 period, as those young players will enable us to pay big bucks to our star players. We can't blow off talent like that every season, you can only do that once in a while, in key circumstances.

    4. Don't be too surprised OGC, I like to have extreme opinions from time to time. They had a Pythagorean W-L: 88-74. If you approach it from considering Tucker a mediocre replacement type player, then it isn't that surprising. And we were coming off a 100 win season, 7 off the Pyth prediction. So in that particular moment of ride Bonds coattails, I would say going for 95 would have been good. Instead the Bums moved in on a sneak attack.

      So in a big time lesson of don't count your chickens, Angel V's visa is held up. Let's see how long it drags on and what the root of the issue really is.

    5. I read about V too, the catch seems to relate to him being an elite athlete and he's probably still a big boy despite perhaps his working on things while he was out, so he probably don't appear elite, at least physically, so the Giants will probably have to show video of him hitting at the academy to show his elite skills.

      I would expect that this probably relates to him not being convicted (and the guilt that settling the civil suit added) and thus somebody felt like trying to make it harder for him to get through, as if to even up the karma in some way.

    6. I second Shankbone's Dodgers comments. The Dodgers actually had the second best Pythagorean W-L in the NL West. They also have one of the best hitters in the NL and the best pitcher in the NL and their bullpen is solid, though they did lose Broxton and I will be interested to see how a lot of those guys will bounce back from injury. That being said, even if the Dodgers see a regression from Kemp (and knowing his history, it's very possible), I also think they will get a bounce back season from Ethier, who to me, isn't as bad as his 2011 power numbers suggest (11 home runs, .421 slugging, all career lows). Granted, they are banking a lot on Gordon (very risky) and the rotation behind Kershaw is always going to up and down, but I don't think they're going to tank by any means. Their farm system is weak sure, but they still are set up right now to be competitive.

    7. Kevin, yes they had a better Pythag, but that was also because we did not have Posey in there for much of the season. If you look at ma analysis do the loss we suffered because we did not have Posey, that alone makes up most of the difference in Pythag.

      Add to that we have Pagan rather than a very ineffective Torres, Cabrera rather than very ineffective left fielders, we should have Pablo for a whole season, another big loss in Pythag, plus FranchezFontRiot T second instead of a lot of Manny and Kepp, we should be in the low 90's in Pythag for 2012.

      Meanwhile, LA lost Kuroda and I do not see a sure replacement for him, That is a huge loss for them, which should bring down their Pythag a lot. And Ethier was actually very lucky in 2011, as his BABIP was very high, his main problem was his lack of power, He is in huge trouble if his BABIP regresses while his power doesnot return.

      Until I see a reason for them to jump Up 10 wins, as between loss of Kurodas production and Giants gain, I do not fear LAD.

    8. I agree with you on Kuroda. Very underrated good pitcher. Aaron Harang may not cut it.

      That Doyer pen though, it was a disaster. I enjoyed watching it very much. The younger healthier guys will make a difference I think.

      I am hoping that Agent Ned can get a nice fat extension done with Ethier before he gets the ax. Andre has not recovered from his wrist injury and just doesn't hit for power. His defense is very overrated. He also has some very odd attitude issues coming into spring training stemming from last year. He might get traded if they don't start competitive.

  5. OGC - here's a snap analysis of the draft and picking/missing that you might find interesting, from a pirates fans view:

  6. OGC - here's the latest Baggs tweet on our boy Zito: Barry Zito finishing up good live BP session. Broke two bats. Around the plate. Pablo hit one rope, but no other hard contact.

    Hmm... First a new Tunnel. Now he's breaking bats? What's next for this guy anyways?

    1. Wow, crazy good, huh?

      I would not have predicted that one, maybe termites are active in AZ? :^)

      Thanks for the updates, much appreciated, been EXTREMELY busy trying to put together important presentation at work. Appears to have gone well, so I'm relieved as well as de-compressing the past two days (had to present at 6AM PST; wake at 4AM).

      What's next? Cy Young? :^D

      As if, I'll be happy with a repeat of 2009-2010, but if he can throw each pitch from the same slot, I think he could push Vogelsong out of the playoff rotation for 2012, assuming we get in.

      And thanks for the link to the article above about the draft. That's almost exactly the way I've tried to show the fallacy of saying that Team G missed these prospects while Team R was really good, except I thought that to make my point better, I went 10 picks behind.

      And I also did the same logic about how even the team picking the good player didn't even know it themselves, otherwise, why would they pick all those other prospects before the good player, they would have risked losing him in-between.

      That's why I liked that a lot of the comments about Sabean's draft is that they pick guys way earlier than other draft pickers think, if you rate the guy high on your list, you pick him BPA when you got the chance, you don't wait because he will appear to be an overdraft, mainly because if someone else rated him highly too, you would lose him to the other team in-between.

      It is not like a mock draft where you can get a do-over, it is not like a fantasy draft, where you get to pick a whole new team next season. This is permanent and forever, potentially, so if you like a prospect as the best player, you go for him.

    2. The Odds on a CY for Zito would be a great longshot bet. Only spring training blah blah but I always think its better for somebody who has had issues to be doing something positive rather than struggling. While the stat lines should be chuckled at, I do think its a good thing when a player is pitching well, or swinging the bat well.

      Good stuff on the presentation.

      I find the draft more fascinating every year, as us outsiders looking in get more and more evaluation tools. And due to the CBA and the competition being racheted up the draft has become extremely important. How teams evaluate prospects will determine their fate. Sure you can throw massive amounts of money at free agents, but that is getting taken away rapidly with all the lock-ups going on.

      I agree on the stick to the guy on your list. The Giants seem to be getting more comfortable with straying away from the consensus. Later in the draft especially, I think it is a good move to go out on a limb. They have appeared to get complementary pieces as late 1st round steals. Now they just have to perform. Panik has several contemporaries to compare to drafted right before and after so the evaluation on who was right will be easy.

    3. Oh yeah, definitely want something positive rather than struggling. Just wanted to bring back to reality (for those not there; I know you are there, but maybe not others) that Zito has a lot more to do before we can say that he's back (funny how that worked out, I've been saying "Zito fine as #5" and you've been suggesting "anybody but Zito", but here you are defending him and I'm applying caution :^).

      I think the draft was always important, but for a long time, it was hard for a team on the outside to figure out how to get on the inside. Teams that could throw a lot of money at the problem would naturally pick up a lot of things that stuck to the wall, but teams without that resource, once they are on the wrong track, find it hard to figure out.

      I liken it to Debartolo before Walsh. Eddie was lucky he selected a HOF talent evaluator to be his coach/GM. He clearly was lost before that, going with retreads, like most new owners do, because in general, they don't really know their sport, they were successful in other fields but loved that sport and got into it without really knowing what a good talent evaluator is. And once the GM gets desperate, he pulls off horrible trades like the one the Niners did to get O.J., trading away a ton of picks for a faded athlete, which made it even worse to rebuild the team.

      But with the sabermetric revolution going on, while owners still probably don't know exactly what is going on, there are tools out there that can help them see when their GM is actually good or just not really doing it. I guess social media helps with that as well.

      So there will be less drafts of Matt Bush #1 overall just because he was the local prospect hero, thinking that was why Joe Mauer was a great pick. And that makes it harder in the draft, as less good players fall to the later picks, and thus making the draft that much more important, because there are less mistakes being made, as teams improve via technology and there are a bevy of saber-oriented consulting firms that are popping up and advising teams.

      I think the Giants have always been comfortable straying away from the consensus. When I analyzed the Giants picks in the early 2000's, almost every pick was at least one round (30 picks) sooner than where BA ranked him in their Top 200 draft ranking (that covers roughly 5 rounds including supplemental picks). For example, Cain was ranked to be a supplemental pick by BA, from what I recall, but ended up in the back of the first round. There were many players selected by the Giants who were not even on the Top 200 list.

      Of course, their failures in the draft besides Cain, could signal perhaps that they maybe didn't know what they were doing instead of being contrary to the consensus. But I think examples like Nate where he was good value, he was one of the better picks, looking at the prospects drafted behind him, Marcum was the first guy higher than him 17 picks afterward. And the only other guy significantly higher than Nate one round after him was Drew Stubbs, and that don't really count because Houston failed to sign him and he went to college instead.

      And I'm not ready to slap "complementary" labels yet on Brown or Panik. Especially Brown, he has a true plus plus skill in his speed, and I think people undervalued his ability to hit. And if Panik can stay at SS, I mean, he'll probably never be a star player, to your point, but he could be a very good player at SS, beyond "complementary" status.

      Yes, Panik will be easy to compare, there were guys picked just before and after him.

    4. Oh, I'm still way down on Zito, I'm just getting warmed up for the season. Gotta support the team, even if you have misgivings. That is different than constructive criticism. I will root hard for Zito to be his league average self, break bats, what not. I don't expect it, but I just can't get angry about this. I expect the Giants to be ready with a shove to the side plan if he falters. Surkamp seems to be the guy, although maybe Hensley could step in the breach. I'll glance over at Maholm's stats in Chicago and see if I was right. But mostly I'll just root for the Giants, and overpaid Barry Zito.

      You and I are very high on Brown, I'm not ready for the complementary label either, he just isn't a heralded blue chip like Posey. And Panik, if he sticks at SS can be a pretty amazing player. I really like what I've seen so far. Its just early, so I don't want to get too excited about it. They need to deal with the big bad Eastern.

      Its funny how even over decades of work, baseball organizations maintain a whole lot of tradition, even with executive turnover. The Braves and their incredible ability to develop pitching, for example. The Eddie D point is a good one. You can see it again with his nephew and Harbaugh. Getting somebody good can really change things. Its hugely important.

      You do see better evaluation in the past 10 years - it seems like there are less busts. One important part of scouting is to tell your team who NOT to draft. That can be pretty important as well.

    5. To be clear, I did not mean to imply that you were not still way down on Zito, I just thought the juxtaposition was funny.

      Definitely, know who NOT to draft is very important, though not as important as knowing who NOT to trade away.



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