Friday, May 18, 2012

Thoughts and Research on Draft: First Round Picks Are Not Easy, Sabean Has Done Well in Picking

I wrote most of this (I almost always tweak my writing, plus I need to make it flow as a post, whereas in the comment, I had to flow from the comment) on DrB's great blog, in this post of his on one of the Giants games:  http://whenthegiantscometotown.blogspot.com/2012/05/game-wrap-5162012.html?showComment=1337290237617#c7333242136139406743

Someone complained about there being no impact players found by the Giants outside of the first round, where the commenter basically states that in the first round it is very easy to find good players, and therefore Sabean's hits there - Cain, Lincecum, Posey, Bumgarner - did not represent any skill on his part.  I did some research and wrote up text that I've been meaning to write up before the June Amateur draft for the past two seasons.  Better late than never, I guess.  :^)

First Round Picks Are Not Automatically Good Players

Most baseball fans do not understand how hard it is to find players with even the 10th pick overall. Here is the list of 10th draft picks over the history of the MLB draft.

There are 47 years of picks in total. Lets just go with the first 43, to Madison. Here's some stats:  only 11 of the 43 (25%) have 18.0 WAR or more.

18.0 WAR or More is a Good Player

But first, here is why I used 18.0 WAR as the minimum for good players.  Baseball-Reference.com states that 2.0 WAR in a season is average and to me, players who are above average and play over 6 seasons is what we want in the draft, so I started at 15.0 WAR - 6 times 2.5 WAR.  I sorted the data I collected on the draft by WAR (a couple of years ago) and did a spot check to see where I thought the dividing line should be.  I arbitrarily decided on 18.0 WAR because Dave Kingman was 17.9 WAR - he is now at 14.8 WAR with the new WAR system in place - and I do not feel that he should be considered a good player (and he was my first baseball prospect "hero").

But I think that 18.0 WAR is a good minimum. There are a lot of players who play long journeyman careers and while that is valuable, that is not what we are looking in the draft.  We are looking for the good players.  At 18.0 WAR, an average player would have to play 9 full seasons.  And that is valuable, for it is a pretty long time to play at that level.  I guess, more to the point, that also represents a little more than 7 seasons at an above average 2.5 WAR per season, which for most players will be accumulated mostly during the 6-7 seasons that they are under control of their team, covering their pre-free agency years, as well, should they have a short career but with above average seasonal performances.  I could have went higher, but then the total of good players would be smaller and thus 18.0 was more conservative, to show how hard it is to find a good player.

Analysis of the 10th Pick Overall: Not That Easy to Find a Lincecum or Bumgarner

Tim Lincecum obviously qualifies already, but Madison Bumgarner does not yet qualify because he hasn't really played very long yet. Lincecum still probably have many years more to add to his WAR but right now, still, only 6 10th picks overall have greater WAR than he, out of the 47, and he should pass Carlos Pena any month now. So it is not really that easy to find a good player with even the 10th pick, and Lincecum is probably a generational good pick.

Let's look at Bumgarner, with just short of two years worth of stats, who is at 6.4 WAR already and looks to get better still. But let's say he just continues at that rate, 3.2 WAR average, but lets be conservative and call it 2.5 WAR, which should earn him his two option years, to 2019. That's roughly 8 seasons or 20.0 WAR, putting him in Lincecum's current class at the end of his Giants tenure. That would make him a generational pick as well, just one season after Lincecum was selected 10th.  One generationl pick is hard enough, but Sabean looks like he might have two at the 10th pick.

Even at 6.4 WAR, there is only 13 out of 43 who have better WAR.  In other words, Bumgarner is already better than 67% of the other #10 overall draft picks in the history of the draft (and he'll pass Dave Chalk very soon, perhaps his next start, certainly by the end of May). So again, it is not very easy to find a player using career numbers who is even as good as Bumgarner has been in just two seasons with the 10th overall pick, let alone picking a good player.  In other words, selecting Bumgarner is already extraordinary in the history of the MLB draft.

How Easy Is It To Find Good Players with 5th Pick:  Not

Let's go even deeper with Buster Posey. Should be easy, many would think, after all 5th pick overall. Posey is already at 6.0 WAR, despite playing barely over a season's worth of games (Baseball-Reference.com defines an MVP season as 8+ WAR, All-Star at 5+ WAR). In the history of baseball, there have been 47 #5 overall picks, 44 to Posey. There have been only 6 players out of those 44 with greater than 18.0 WAR, so only 14% of the #5 picks up to Posey have been good players (that is, 18.0 WAR or higher) and Posey at this point looks to join those 6 as the 7th.

Still, even after just one year's worth of stats, Posey already has a greater WAR than 34 of those picks, or 77% of those picks. ALREADY! Barely over one season played and Posey is already better than 77% of all #5 picks.

Finding Good Players Were Not Easy At the Giants Picks In First Round

So Sabean Naysayers are not correct in stating that Sabean was overrated in selecting these first round players.  It is simply not easy to find players in the first round, even for the top picks. Furthermore, it is factually false to claim that any team can find good players as Sabean has done in the first round.  It has been and remains very hard to accomplish, it is still very much an art and not a science, else #1 would be greater than #2, would be greater than #3, and so on, if it were a science.

And yes, the books are not even closed on Bumgarner or Posey.  Even with that, with very little stats accumulated by both Bumgarner and Posey, both have already earned more WAR than over 70% of the picks in the history of the draft up to them.  They would have to suddenly get very lousy, and the Giants keep on playing them, in order for them not to be better than 70% of the picks before.  That means that Sabean already outdid most other teams selecting at those picks with their two high draft pick selections.

And it is exponentially worse when you are competing for the playoffs and getting picks in the back of the first round. I've written on this since 2005 (http://sfgiants.scout.com/2/343576.html), and all over MCC from 2005-2009, plus any time there is an article on the draft. Once you start winning, it is nearly impossible to find a good player using your first round pick, virtually impossible to find a good player outside of the first round. It is simply and plainly not easy to find talent via the draft.

Hey, You Can't Go Wrong With the First Pick Overall, Can You?  Uh, Yeah

Lastly, let's look at the #1 pick overall. Should be a slam dunk, shooting fish in a barrel, easy as (Felix) Pie, if one wants to dismiss any first round pick as easy to find talent. If the first round is easy, #1 OVERALL should be like breathing. Yet, it is not.

Only 17 players in 47 years of selections to 2012 have greater than 18.0 WAR. Even Pat Burrell don't beat that threshold. Of course, some of them still might. Harper, Strasburg, Price, Upton look like they probably will do it at some point. So lets cut it off at Matt Bush in 2004, making it 40 picks total, making it only 17 of 40 picks, or 42.5% of them are good players, if good is defined as 18.0 WAR. I get better odds flipping a coin, heck, I get better odds in Reno and Las Vegas betting black or red on the roulette table.

And that's for the first pick overall.  Assuming that picking in the first round is easy, therefore when you have the first pick, when you can pick ANYBODY, it would behoove that team to select the best player, right?   But teams often missed, and not only that, they missed horribly.

Number One Picks Most Almost Never the Best Player Picked in First Round, Rarely Even Good

I didn't have time to go through all 47 years so here is a quick look, covering the first 10 years plus 10 years from 1995-2004. In these 20 years of drafts, only 1 of the 20 was the pick with the highest WAR.  One!

Ironically, it was in the first draft, 1965, when Rick Monday was selected.

10 of the 20 at least was in the Top 5 overall in WAR, but only 5 of the 20 were good (good being greater than or equal to 18.0 WAR). 2 of the 20 never made the majors, 4 of them had negative WAR, another 6 had 0.0-10.0 WAR. In other words, 12 of the 20 #1 picks overall never earned more than 10.0 WAR in their careers, and were marginal players at best.

On average, there were around 3 good players (18.0 WAR+) to be found in the first round, in this 20 year sample. Out of 63 good players selected in the first round of these 20 sample seasons, only 5 of them were selected with the first pick. Out of the 15 teams that did not select a good player there were 49 good players in their draft years, just in the first round, that they could have selected instead of their pick, and still get a good player.  And yet they whiffed.

Even among the 5 teams that did select a good player, only one selected the best first round player (the aforementioned Monday).  For the other 4 teams, two selected the second best players and the other two selected the third best players (though ranks could change, many of these players are still active).  I would note, though, that teams have been a lot better picking with their #1 pick in recent years (at least since 1995), though 2002-2004 shows that there will still be the occasional hiccups in the selection process.  And clearly Tampa Bay screwed up by selecting Tim Beckham over Buster Posey.

Finding Good Players Via the Draft Is Never Easy, Sabean Has Done Very Well

This shows that 1) even with the first pick overall, it is not very easy to find a good player, let alone the best player, among the picks in the first round (there could be better players selected in later rounds, like when the Dodgers lucked into Mike Piazza due to a mercy charity pick (Piazza had a connection to Lasorda somehow) with a 50th round pick (most teams pick in 50 rounds or less), and 2) it is not very easy, period, finding a good player in the draft, even with your first round pick.

What Sabean has done with his first round picks in recent years is above average.  I cannot say that it was not perhaps just random luck, though.  Assuming randomness or equal abilities, it is possible that he could have lucked into this.

At minimum, though, we can say that Sabean's selections have been above average, it is not that easy to find a good player in the first round, heck, it isn't even easy to find a mediocre player with 6.0 WAR or more, as I showed with the analysis on finding a player with WAR above Bumgarner and Posey.  The vast majority of GM's have done worse with their #5 and #10 overall picks.  He's already better than over 70% of the prior picks with those two players even though neither has more than 2 years worth of career stats.

So if you want to complain about Sabean, his drafts are not something one can complain about.  It is very hard to find even so-so players with even a #5 pick overall, and he struck gold with three picks, Lincecum, Bumgarner, and Posey.

34 comments:

  1. I'm gonna surf B/R to look at comparable teams to test it out a bit. I'll start with the Cardinals. Anything over 10 WAR I'll note, because its a nice round number, and I'm happy with 2 WAR for 5 years as a useful piece, 50MM worth of value teams most likely paid about 2.5MM-5MM in salary to start.

    Brandon Ryan 7/215 2003 draft, 11.8 WAR
    Dan Haren, 2/72 2001 draft, 31.2 WAR
    Yadier Molina, 4/113 2000 draft, 14.3 WAR
    Coco Crisp 7/222 1999 draft, 19.0 WAR
    Albert Pujols 13/402 1999 draft, 83.4 WAR
    JD Drew 1/5 1998 draft, 42.4 WAR
    Jack Wilson 9/258 1998 draft, 20.1 WAR
    Adam Kennedy 1/20 1997 draft, 18.0 WAR
    Matt Morris 1/12 1995 draft, 18.6 WAR
    Placido Polanco 19/530 1994 draft 37.8 WAR

    Picks who might make it starting from 2003: Ian Kennedy, Daric Barton, Colby Rasmus, Jaime Garcia, Chris Perez, John Jay, Alan Craig, Lance Lynn.

    Went to 1993 because that was Sabean's first draft with the Gints. Obviously you're getting into ancient history at that point. My conclusion with the Cards: they are trading fools, love their trades. They have been able to hit later in the draft, not just Pujols.

    I'll look at the Darling Rays next, maybe this afternoon. Just some fun B/R comp surfing OGC.

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    1. Thanks Shankbone, just don't have the time.

      Just looking at that 10 year period of 1993-2002, they found 8 good players, 3 from the first round, 5 from following rounds. They have been particularly good in finding players after the 6th round, with 5 of the 10 listed there selected later. My draft study only covered the first 3-4 rounds, so this is very interesting.

      It does confirm, though, that when a team is winning and competitive, not very many of their first round picks turn out to be good, their last one was JD Drew in 1998 and he was a Top 5 pick. Last before that was Kennedy in 1997.

      I look forward to your Rays (or you can call me Devil Rays or...) analysis.

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    2. I wasn't really looking for busts with the Cards, I went back, you have Shaun Boyd in 2000 at the 1/13 who never made it, Braden Looper in 1996 at the 1/3 who put up 7.3 WAR, and the guys listed are their only high draft picks. They definitely have been competitive for many years.

      But that's the hilarious aspect of the discontent with Sabean. The Giants have been immensely competitive. Sure, its frustrating not to win out. And there were some big time monkeys on the back from the 62, 89 and 02 teams.

      I'm just amazed at how much trading the Cards have done. They turned Polanco (with others) into Scott Rolen for example. And that's where things get complicated, because without knowing each organization the way we know the Giants, we can't get a quick snapshot. Sabean flipped a bunch of his high draft picks with great results, not for the WAR values of said draft picks however.

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  2. Rays, starting with their 1996 (first) draft:

    Aubrey Huff! 5/162 1998 Draft, 17.0 WAR
    Josh Hamilton 1/1 1999 Draft, 23.6 WAR
    Carl Crawford 2/52 1999 Draft, 33.2 WAR
    James Shields 16/466 2000 Draft, 15.3 WAR
    Rocco Baldelli 1/6 2000 Draft, 9.1 WAR (Noah Lowry clause)
    BJ Upton 1/2 2002 Draft, 11.7 WAR
    Evan Longoria 1/3 2006 Draft, 27.5 WAR
    David Price 1/1 2007 Draft, 9.2 WAR

    Picks who might be impact since 2003: Matt Moore, Desmond Jennings, Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann.

    Noted Malcontents: Delmon Young, Elijah Dukes, Tim Beckham.

    Noted Busts (Defined as top 10 overall selections only): Dewon Brazelton, Wade Townsend, Delmon Young not looking good, Tim Beckham.

    Rays are a fun org to compare because Saber guys LOVE the Rays, and want the Giants to be exactly like them. Is hitting Mike Fontenot 3rd that much different than hitting Keppinger in the cleanup spot? Joe Maddon does it he is an eccentric genius, Bochy does it and he's a cranky clank. I don't get too fired up about lineups, but Bochy catches quite a lot of heat for his various eccentricities.

    I'd say the Rays have hit on most their picks, they had that bad seed crew, Hamilton was a lost soul until he found his way. The Rays have great pitching development. Trading Huff for Ben Zobrist was a nice move. They have been able to lock up Longoria and now Moore at very nice team friendly deals. Upton will most likely get traded this year, and Price will be soon as well, as he didn't sign a lockup.

    Next... The RANGERS! And on that note, drafting is one of the 3 legs to stand on. You have FA/trade and the international market. The Rangers are the most aggressive team in the league on the international front, and its paying big time for them. I'd like the Giants to imitate the Rangers, not the Rays, personally.

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    1. They have had hits, but most of them were #1's, and even better, Top 3-6 picks. Outside of round 1, only 3, and only 1 beyond round 5. Assuming 12 #1's to Price, they hit on 4 of 12, or 33%, which is roughly a mix of Top 5 and Top 15 picks (I would have to run through each of them to get a truer comparison point). Given that, they were no better than average with their #1's and if most are Top 5 (as I suspect) they have not been even average. And they clearly are not as good as the Cards in finding players outside the first few rounds.

      And I suspect that the Giants would join them in that lack of success, or at least not as good as the Cards.

      Thanks, very cool!

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  3. Rangers

    John Danks 1/9 2003 Draft, 18.2 WAR
    Ian Kinsler 17/496 2003 Draft, 26.0 WAR
    Mark Teixera 1/5 2001 Draft, 41.7 WAR
    CJ Wilson 5/141 2001 Draft, 11.1 WAR
    Hank Blalock 3/105 1999 Draft, 11.4 WAR
    Aaron Harang 6/195 1999 Draft, 14.9 WAR
    Carlos Pena 1/10 1998 Draft, 23.5 WAR
    Doug Davis 10/293 1996 Draft, 16.4 WAR
    Travis Hafner 31/923 1996 Draft, 22.5 WAR
    Ryan Dempster 3/66 1995 Draft, 13.2 WAR

    Picks who might make it, 2003 on:
    Mitch Moreland, Justin Smoak, Chris Davis, Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter

    You have an excellent point about drafting pitchers instead of 1B, using the Texas example. They have had a number of high profile corner IFs, and ironically don't really have a high profile 1B right now. Texas has never been afraid of the big trade, but I think the hidden part of their success is finally getting pitching talent to hang in their bandbox. Nolan Ryan has some interesting ideas, old school that they are, on what makes a pitcher.

    Also of note, in the current top 10 (MLB's Mayo but its a general consensus as well) the Rangers have 6 international FAs. Jurickson Profar is going to be a star, and he is one of the few prospects I truly envy in anybody's system. The Rangers went out and spent. This is something the Giants have stalled on big time OGC, sure they got burned with AnVil and RafRod, they need to get back on that horse. Blue chip talent costs. Instead they have cut spending a bunch, and are doing little nibbles at 300-400K. I think this is a good strategy, but they also need to go big as well. Don't lecture me about you only have so many resources, this is a drop in the bucket for a MLB team. The Giants are being cheap on this front.

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    1. I wasn't going to lecture you, I totally agree with you and go further, they should be spending more on their farm system, including international free agents. I've been saying that for a long while. I thought the addition of Barr brought on someone with International success (some other guy but can't recall name), particularly in East (Asia), but that totally fizzled.

      I'm OK with not pursuing the biggest free agents, there have been so many failures in that area, the BA Top 10 list is littered with failures, including the Giants, and the Giants have not had a lot of success there, but I thought they would move to a volume business - signing 10 $200K instead of one $2M - and not just not doing much.

      What would be interesting is a look at how much the Rangers paid for these 6 international FA's who are on Mayo's list.

      But I'm totally on board with more spending in this area, and I blame ownership again for being cheap and not allocating a specific amount each year devoted to pursuit of talent in these areas. The Giants were big in the Carribean in the 50's and 60's, and they need to be that again. And it won't even cost that much in the big scheme of things either.

      I'm also shocked at how little support minor leaguers get in pursuit of their dreams, players might develop a lot faster if they could hone their skills over the off-season instead of having to make a livable wage, they get paid a pittance in the minors.

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    2. Profar was 3.5MM, don't know the others off the top of my head, but I'd say 10MM tops and most likely closer to 6MM. Its not cheap, but then again, that isn't that out there. Teams spend 6MM easy on the draft.

      I'm reading John Klima's Willie's Boys book, it brings me back to that period of scouting. Getting the Willies, the Alous, Marichel... well, that is a hugely successful enterprise. The profile back a couple months on George Genovese was very cool. I hope scouts can get into the hall of fame some day.

      I think a volume business is a good strategy. What I worry about is I see them turning the spigot off when they need to be constantly rolling along. You have no big splashes since Posey, Wheeler and RafRod. They've gone completely rec budget on the draft, and they've gone into middle of the pack spending internationally. 5-7MM on the draft, less than 2MM a year internationally since 2008. so 2009-11 you have them spending roughly 24MM. Just going with 1-2 high profile international gambles for an extra 2MM a year would push the budget to 30MM, you'd have a shot at a much better top ten.

      Its that criticism I have - take the foot off the gas, coast a little, park is full, things are great. Well, I'd rather have a factory, and constantly striving for better players. Sure its a gamble, and there are busts all the time. But you hit on something, you get huge results. I think its a slam dunk personally. The frustrating thing is they're running up to the CBA for the international market in 6 weeks, and haven't spent much at all. They could go grab 2-3 guys right now, before the CBA takes effect. I see this, especially compared to Texas efforts, as being cheap. I don't really even want the high profile 10 figure FAs for 10 years plus. I do want talent coming up constantly.

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    3. That's why we get along so well, we totally agree on a lot of things.

      I don't understand taking the foot off the gas in terms of developing talent in baseball. It is too much of a crapshoot for anyone to ever coast.

      As I noted, they should just devote a certain percentage to talent development. If you are familiar with tech investing, it is like that book writer, you look for companies spending on R&D in tech.

      In baseball, their R&D is their farm system. They should never cut, but because of the peculiarity of baseball, with the draft, they should just shift spending from one area to another, so if you are winning and your draft slots are cheaper, you spend more in international free agents. Or whatever.

      And I personally believe, more and more, that helping your current prospects spend more time developing themselves is a future competitive differentiator, whether through more money so can work on skills in off-season or more coaching and equipment at each minor league facility or more/better coaching in instructional league.

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  4. OK, so I just did 3 teams that have been drafting very well lately, have vast success on the field and are generally considered textbook superior well run organizations. Lets switch up: here are the Pirates, who have consistently had top 10 picks going back 20 years...

    Too soon to tell division: Garrett Cole, Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon, Stetson Allie, Tony Sanchez.

    Most likely Busts: Pedro Alvarez, Daniel Moskos,

    Busts: Brian Bullington, John Van Benschoten, Bobby Bradley - that's just the B's and I got bored.

    Aces:
    Andrew McCutchen 1/11 2005 Draft, 12.8 WAR
    Paul Maholm 1/8 2003 Draft, 9.5 WAR (close enough for gov't work)
    Chris Young 3/89 2000 Draft, 12.5 WAR
    Jose Bautista 20/599 2000 Draft 14.0 WAR
    Chris Benson 1/1 1996 Draft, 11.5 WAR
    Bronson Arroyo 3/69 1995 Draft, 18.9 WAR

    Might get there: Neil Walker, Tom Gorzelanny, Matt Capps, Nyjer Morgan, Zach Duke, Rajah Davis, Ryan Doumit.

    Of note: the Pirates have a bunch of players with WAR values that were not earned while with the Pirates. In addition, they also drafted some players fairly high that did not sign with them, Jeremy Guthrie and Stephen Drew. The might get there list is charity, those guys are all b-list talent at best on their last teams. The Pirates are a model for misery in all aspects of the game. Drafting terribly with high picks and not being able to hang onto the right players is a bad combination.

    You can see just how big a deal it was to lock down McCutchen, a young and exciting player who would have looked great in the French Vanilla. I doubt they will be able to attract any talent on the free agent market, they don't have a lot to trade and so their hopes are on the arms of those pitchers. Good luck to them, I'd like the Pirates to do well. The odds are steep though.

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  5. Ah, one more. My definition of the gold standard: The Atlanta Braves. Lets see what they got, draft wise:

    Kevin Millwood 11/320 1993 Draft, 25.8 WAR
    Jermaine Dye 17/488 1993 Draft, 16.7 WAR
    Mark DeRosa 7/122 1996 Draft, 9.1 WAR (Close Enough)
    Marcus Giles 53/1512 1996 Draft, 15.9 WAR
    Adam Wainwright 1/29 2000 Draft, 19.7 WAR
    Kelly Johnson 1/38 2000 Draft, 14.3 WAR
    Brian McCann 2/64 2002 Draft, 19.5 WAR
    Yunei Escobar 2/75 2005 Draft, 17.6 WAR
    Jason Heyward 1/12 2007 Draft, 9.8 WAR


    Guys who might get there: Jeff Francoeur, Johnny Venters, Tommy Hansen, Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel, Matt Harrison Jarrod Saltalamaccia.

    Well, this one is sort of telling. Lots of empty pages while they were competing in the late 90s, which is to your point. The Braves have always been able to bring good pitching to the table, and scrap along for position players. If I had to name a franchise I think the Giants chose to emulate, it'd be the Braves. Obviously having Chipper Jones as an anchor for 2 decades has helped immensely. But they struggle to score runs as well. The Braves have McCann and Heyward, which is a very nice building block.

    The Braves have 4 international free agents in their top ten currently, including highly rated pitcher Julio Teheran. The Braves go local in the draft. I bet they're still steamed about us taking Wheeler. 2009 they took Mike Minor with the 7th pick, he hasn't found success early on. The best success recently was signing undrafted FA Brandon Beachy, that was a gigantic steal for them. The Braves compete so well they rarely have low draft picks, Minor is their only one top 10. Heyward is the only one below 15 recently.

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  6. And one more time, for the hell of it:

    Los Gigantes:
    Bill Mueller 15/414 1993 Draft, 21.8 WAR
    Bob Howry 5/144 1994 Draft, 10.0 WAR
    Keith Foulke 9/256 1994 Draft, 19.8 WAR
    Russ Ortiz 4/103 1995 Draft, 11.7 WAR
    Joe Nathan 6/159 1995 Draft, 21.2 WAR
    Noah Lowry 1/30 2001 Draft, 9.5 WAR
    Matt Cain 1/25 2002 Draft, 27.1 WAR
    Tim Lincecum 1/10 2006 Draft, 22.8 WAR

    Might get there: Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo (closer than you think!), Ryan Vogelsong, Brandon Belt

    Most likely won't: Clay Hensley, Nate Schierholtz, Johnny Sanchez

    The future lies ahead, we'll see how it turns out. It would be nice to develop some hitters.

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    1. I would put Gary Brown, Heath Hembree, and Joe Panik on the Might Get There's, if 9 WAR is the floor. Though obviously highly speculative, I think they've done enough to put their names in the hat.

      Wow, would have thought that Dirty was closer than that. And shocked that Romo is so above him already.

      Yes, hitters would be nice, but we have Sandoval, Posey, Belt, Brown, Panik, Joseph, Hanchez, so things could change in the near future.

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    2. Absolutely not - the criteria I got going is you have to have positive WAR value and some sort of MLB career. Who knows what them toilin' away in A, AA and AAA are going to do. Panik and Brown are getting rumblings from folks, I think they'll be OK but you never know.

      Sure there is potential in every system, but I'm going by a) more than just a cup of coffee MLB debut and b) name guys who have put up numbers. I do like our guys of course.

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  7. Conclusion: nothing much that you haven't already said. It takes amazing skill to hit on 1 player in a draft. To do that every year, even for well run orgs such as the Rangers, Rays or Cards, is close to impossible. I guess I should look at the Jankees next, but they are the textbook late in the game every year, and they have a lot of FA signings so the picks are gone a fair amount of the time. Boston having money and the moneyball grab draft picks strategy might be a better survey. They can't develop good pitching to save their lives though.

    I'll do the Yanks, the Bosox and 2 others - which teams interest you? Phils? Gimme 2 more, that'll make it 9 and the Gints for 10 square.

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    1. Well, yes and no, this confirms my point about early draft picks, but also shows that it is not really that easy to find picks in later rounds, and that there are teams that have done well there, like the Cards. So your research did add good value to this draft issue.

      How about an obvious one: the A's? All I hear about is how good Beane is. Has he? Hudson was a good hit, but his trading down from Haren has been horrendous, ending up with, what, Taylor?, who is about as non-prospect as you can get. And there was a Car-Gon in the middle of that trade chain.

      Phillies look very good as one to look at, Yankees and Red Sox too. How about our other hated rivals: Dogtowners?

      OK, if I had to pick two, A's and Dodgers, though Phillies is a close one too, Red Sox too, due to their hiring of Bill James (and Tom Tippett). But I assume you have a job too. :^)

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    2. Oh sure, jobby shobby. This is fun though. I'll do the A's/Doyers/Sox and Phils. Just did the Yanks. So its 10 teams plus the Gints.

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  8. Da Janks
    First off, just to please Sabean fan #1, here it is, from 1992: Derek Jeeter 1/6 1992 draft, 68.8 WAR. The Giants followed that up with the 7 pick, one Calvin Murray. Not to be outdone, my favorite whipping boy Michael Tucker was picked 10th by the Royals. I'm of course poking a little fun here OGC, the point does stand though, Sabean built that Jankee dynasty and a whole lot of it was making the right choice with Jeeter.

    Mike Lowell 20/562 1995 Draft, 21.8 WAR
    Eric Milton 1/20 1996 Draft, 14.9 WAR
    Nick Johnson 3/89 1996 Draft, 12.8 WAR
    Brett Gardner 3/109 2005 Draft, 14.2 WAR
    Austin Jackson 8/259 2005 Draft, 12.1 WAR

    Guys who might make it: Tyler Clippard, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlin, David Robertson.

    Amazing thing? Only picked 13 once, in 1993, and 17th once. Everything else is late 20s, and there are years where the picks are gone with FA signings. Pretty amazing run. They drafted Mark Prior, who was a famous no-sign. And Doug Fister, who was also drafted by the Giants, no-sign.

    The 1990 draft was amazing for the Yanks - Carl Everett with the 1/10 got 18.0 WAR, Jorge Posada at 24/646 got 39.2 WAR and Andy Pettitte at 22/594 put up 52.5 WAR. I would be very hesitant to credit Sabean with the Posada/Pettitte picks, but the Yankee scouts picked some serious gold there.

    The Yankees obviously have more money than any other team to smooth over mistakes and go grab the best of everything. But they haven't been able to get the pitching in the past 10 years. Teams are wise to this. I don't think they'll go anywhere this year, with a top heavy aging team with no flexibility and a GM who is Rule 5 picking and moneyballing with scant area to move. Still, they are the gold standard of MLB, and always to be watched.

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    1. Well, yes and no, I think he gets credit as overseer of the draft for those years, but whether the exhibited skills, you can't tell by that one instance.

      Kind of like Crawford homering, he gets credit for it on the back of baseball card, but is that a skill he can repeat, not so far.

      The teams I covered in my first draft comparison were the gold standards of that time, A's, Braves, Yankees, plus the Giants. Here is the link: http://sfgiants.scout.com/2/266404.html

      According to the article I read about the Jeter pick, it played out much like the Lincecum pick, Sabean and gang eyed both but thought that he would be picked before they could get him, but when they did make it to Sabean, they jumped on their guy.

      Delete
    2. That's a very nice article. I've seen you reference it but never read it. Thanks.

      Delete
  9. Fightin' A's Of Oaktown:

    Eric Chavez 1/10 1996 Draft, 32.4 WAR
    Tim Hudson 6/185 1997 Draft, 50.6 WAR
    Mark Mulder 1/2 1998 Draft, 18.4 WAR
    Eric Byrnes 8/225 1998 Draft, 8.9 WAR, for the locals
    Barry Zito 1/9 1999 Draft, 33.1 WAR
    Rich Harden 17/510 2000 Draft, 16.7 WAR
    Andre Ethier 2/62 2003 Draft, 13.7 WAR
    Nick Swisher 1/16 2002 Draft, 14.1 WAR
    Joe Blanton 1/24 2002 Draft, 9.6 WAR
    Kurt Suzuki 2/67 2004 Draft 10.1 WAR


    Should get there: Houston Street, Dallas Braden, Cliff Pennington, Trevor Cahill, Andrew Bailey, Jemile Weeks, Tyson Ross.

    Busts 10 and under: Michael Choice ain't looking good but its early, Ariel Prieto at 1/5 put up 2.9 WAR, and Ben Grieve managed a 6.7 WAR from 1/2. The A's draft well, no big busts, they hit home runs on their early picks.

    Of Note: The A's targeted Hudson and Ethier multiple times, eventually getting their man.

    I have to say, looking at the A's drafts, I hate moneyball the book and moneyball the movie. The scouts got jobbed big time, serious big time. They did their job, and Beane gets the credit. That scene is hilariously terrible where the scouts are talking about a prospects confidence with an ugly girlfriend. They killed it for years, and continue to do OK. Just a big fat boo for the scouts are dinos stereotype that built up. The A's of 02-03 are nothing without the big 3 and Tejada/Chavez.

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  10. Red Sox:

    Trot Nixon 1/7 1993 Draft, 19.1 WAR
    Jeff Suppan 2/49 1993 Draft, 14.8 WAR
    Nomar Garciaparra 1/12 1994 Draft, 42.7 WAR
    Carl Pavano 12/355 1994 Draft, 15.4 WAR
    Justin Duchscherer 8/241 1996 Draft, 9.4 WAR
    David Eckstein 19/581 1997 Draft, 18.7 WAR
    Adam Everett 1/12 1998 Draft, 10.7 WAR
    Freddy Sanchez 11/332 2000 Draft, 13.4 WAR
    Kevin Youkalis 8/243 2001 Draft, 28.9 WAR
    Jon Lester 2/57 2002 Draft, 22.6 WAR
    Jonathon Papelbon 4/114 2003 Draft, 16.0 WAR
    Dustin Pedroia 2/65 2004 Draft, 27.1 WAR
    Jacoby Ellsbury 1/23 2005 Draft 13.7 WAR

    Should Get There: Clay Buckholtz, Justin Masterson, Daniel Bard, Josh Reddick.

    Might Get There: Kelly Stoppach, David Murphy, Jed Lowrie.

    Useless Trivia: Tried to snag Pat Burrell, Aaron Harang, Mark Texiera, Ricky Romero, Brandon Belt.

    Some very impressive drafting. They have some other talent coming up right now that is impressive, Middlebrooks comes to mind. The Red Sox may not be able to grab pitching, they traded a fair amount of the talent to get some, but they draft very impressively. I might have to give the gold medeal to them on this exercise.

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  11. OK, Phightin' Phils time: Before I do it I imagine there will be blood in the streets from trades...

    Scott Rolen 2/46 1993 Draft, 65.5 WAR
    Jimmy Rollins 2/46 1996 Draft, 36.7 WAR
    Wow! Same spot, that is a serious lucky number
    JD Drew did not sign 1/2 1997 (he also shined the Gints on back a little further)
    Randy Wolf 2/54 1997 Draft, 22.6 WAR
    Pat the Bat 1/1 1998 Draft, 16.4 WAR
    Nick Punto 21/614 1998 Draft, 9.3 WAR
    Brett Myers 1/12 1999 Draft, 13.1 WAR
    Marlon Byrd 10/306 1999 Draft 14.3 WAR
    Chase Utley 1/15 2000 Draft, 50.2 WAR
    Ryan Howard 5/140 2001 Draft, 17.7 WAR
    Gavin Floyd 1/4 2001 Draft, 12.4 WAR
    Cole Hamels 1/17 2002 Draft, 25.1 WAR
    Michael Bourn 4/115 2003 Draft, 15.4 WAR

    Should get there: Ryan Madson, Brad Ziegler, Vance Worley.

    Might get there: JA Happ.

    That is amazing drafting. They built a core and then went out and got the best pitching a farm system (and money) can buy. Amaro Jr. may be a drunken sailor, but there is something to be said for going for it.

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  12. OK, last and least: the damn Doyers.

    Paul Lo Duca 25/690 1993 Draft, 15.9 WAR
    Paul Konerko 1/13 1994 Draft, 25.9 WAR
    Ted Lilly 23/688 1996 Draft, 25.1 WAR
    Shane Victorino 6/194 1999 Draft, 21.4 WAR
    Edwin Jackson 6/190 2001 Draft, 11.1 WAR
    Russell Martin 17/511 2002 Draft, 17.5 WAR
    Matt Kemp 6/181 2003 Draft, 17.4 WAR
    Chad Billingley 1/24 2003 Draft, 13.6 WAR
    Clayton Kershaw 1/7 2006 Draft, 19.2 WAR

    Should Get There: James Loney

    Might Get There: Jonathon Broxton, James McDonald, AJ Ellis, Corey Wade, Blake DeWitt, Javy Guerra

    The Doyers draft very well. We might have stole their mojo, we'll see. I wish the Giants were more outside the box, but last year was sort of creative with Susac for example. One can hope McCourt did some damage, but Moore is a great scouting director and he has stocked them up with pitching.

    I fear the Doyers a lot. The Gints ownership group would do well to look at them as an example of building something, and what happens when you let it go. They need to take chances to try and get a player like Matt Kemp. The effect it can have is huge.

    And that is what I have been preaching - the Giants are one big time straw that stirs the drink away from exploding into a powerhouse. So instead of doing the league average offense thing lets scrape by, they SHOULD be running scouts everywhere with a sense of urgency to get that guy. At all costs. The goal is to win, not skate by. The Giants need a power hitting 5 tool dynamic ignite the stadium type. Hardest thing in the world to find. I want them to go find that. Stat!

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  13. Ranking is hard, I surveyed 93-07, with a glance at the last 4 drafts which haven't really born fruit yet. I would say of these teams the Giants are near the back. That isn't a criticism necessarily, but if you look at the hitting talent other teams have come up with, the Giants definitely don't measure up, even if it is difficult after the first few picks. Phillies and RedSox are hands down the most impressive to me. Not strong at developing pitching though, so there's the rub.

    I most likely didn't get every single player, or wasn't consistent with the maybe or should categories, take that with a huge grain of salt. And there may be some busts I didn't see. Still, I was impressed with teams hitting on their low picks, and I was also impressed with how many great players were drafted by multiple teams, I didn't put all of those down. Lastly, I noticed some definite movement of familiar names among these organizations, minus the Pirates. First division teams make first division trades.

    I'd like our guys to kick it up a notch. I like what they do, but they are also sort of content to be the monks of baseball, not engage in a lot of trades, and sort of muddle along and compete. That can be smart business I suppose, but there just isn't enough push for my tastes.

    ReplyDelete
  14. So I just dropped a bunch of raw data off for you, don't know exactly the way to interpret.

    My cherry pick would be I want Boston's scouts. They showed the most consistency of these 10 teams I think. The cherry pick is they grabbed Pedroia and Ellsbury while we were screwing around punting picks. One team out of 30 right? Wrong, some teams can't evaluate talent to save their lives, literally. They are stuck in 2nd division status. So its not a 1 in 30 chance if you're good at it. Hopefully John Barr is good at it.

    The Giants do great dumpster diving. Texas is the gold standard with Hamilton and Cruz. I think the lesson is you have to grab reclamation projects who were highly rated: Vogelsong was highly rated, look at Raggs interview where he talks about Nathan and Vogelsong being their best 2 pitchers back in the day, as prospects. Melky Cabrera was highly rated as a 19-20 year old, he didn't measure up to CF for the Yankees, that is a tall order. Look at him now. I'd say giving Arias a chance, he was highly rated. The talent has to be there, dormant.

    They have to get back in the saddle internationally. You are only going to pick 1 player a year if that from the draft. I'm looking at what they've done in the past 3 years and while I like it OK I really want them to do more. Sabean has a bad habit of turning away from things that don't work if he feels he's been burned. That is the wrong lesson with trades (Hey! Look at this Melky deal, alright - first real offseason trade since AJ/Nathan). So hopefully they are aware of this and making some moves. I want some aggressive international signing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, thank you, very interesting. I'm probably going to need a few days to ruminate, got a lot of work going on now.

      Cruz I give Texas credit for, Hamilton, seems more like lucky to have first pick of Rule 5 Draft, Hamilton was clearly the one to grab that year. Of course, it helps that Cruz was a guy I picked up in my old keeper league just before he took off with Texas (unfortunately leagued died around then).

      I think the Giants have been picking around other team's fallen prospects over the years, that seems to be their policy.

      I agree about internationally, however they do it, just more of it.

      I have been meaning to disagree with you about your assertion that he avoids trades. The problem before this last off-season is that the only truly tradeable players (i.e. wanted by other teams) were the players the Giants wanted to keep. Dirty's availability only happened with Vogelsong's emergence too. Otherwise, the other teams since 2002, has been wanting our top prospects and players, Cain, Lincecum, Bumgarner, Dirty, Wilson, Romo, Posey, Sandoval.

      Who did we have that was really tradeable for even a Melky level player? I think Correia was probably the closest to being valuable enough, yet not a keeper, to get something in trade, but he flopped that last season with us when the Giants gave up on him.

      I think it's been like I've been saying to the Naysayers for a while now: it was easier to trade in the early years when the prospects were not players the Giants really believed in plus we had mid-level players like that pitcher we traded for Snow, Hamilton (free agent), plus a good player (Williams) that didn't fit the plans. Once the prospects started being good with the Ainsworth/Williams/Foppert triple, the players started getting older. Kent would have been tradeable, but then there probably wouldn't have been a 2002.

      The way I see it, most GM's back then were not really that plugged into other team's prospects, so they rely on Baseball America's Top 30 to guide who they ask for in deals. That, to me, explains why other teams took on all our early prospects like Grilli and Vogelsong, but then once we actually had prospects who are good, the trades died down unless we were giving up failed prospects like Foppert, Williams, Ainsworth, Torrealba. The other teams wanted our top guys in trade talks and that pretty much killed most trade talks because the Giants were not going to give their keepers up.

      Basically, Sabean's record of prospect trades have been pretty lopsided, they never gave up any prospect that ended up becoming good, and have kept the ones worth keeping, until they weren't worth keeping anymore, from my analysis of it.

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    2. Fair point OGC, lemme think about the no winter trades due to keeping the "goods" for a bit. I think its a combination of what you stated (GMs wising up to the BA top 10, holding onto the best stuff) but also Sabean painting himself into a corner with signings that he had to dump. Alfonso, Benitez being the big ones, but Matt Morris or some of the guys he got in trade like Sidney Ponson also. Those players were immediately untradeable and lodestones. I am still shocked he unloaded matt Morris on the Pirates for anything, he finally gave up on Durham for Darren Ford. He got caught having nothing in the larder is my point.

      MLB trade rumors had a analysis on first round picks as trades a while back, it was a pretty good list, I think they missed some of the Sabean ones though, and he's definitely been near the top of trading 1st round picks. Off the top I think its been: Joe Fontenot, Nate Bump, Jacob Cruz, Jason Grilli, Kurt Ainsworth, Boof Bonser, Jerome Williams, David Aardsma, Zach Wheeler. He could have possibly traded Brad Hennessey or Kevin Correia, but their release and travels through the wilderness tells you what their perceived value was in MLB.

      I wouldn't call it completely lopsided though, Howry and Foulke were serviceable for long periods of time, it just took a while to get there. Aardsma and Accardo have both battled injuries but I thought they were both very close to being bad trades. No need to rehash Liriano and Bonser anymore.

      I'm drawing a blank on why he traded Billy Mueller in 2000 (for Tim Worrell). I think it was because Mueller was about to be expensive, but I could be wrong. He got over half Mueller's value, but that did lead to some other stuff later on that wasn't so pretty.

      I agree with you he has a pretty good record though overall. The Snow trade was Alan Watson and Fausto Macey. The Burks trade was Daryl Hamilton, Jim Stoops and Jason Brester. Those 2, and the Schmidt trade are my favorites, they are huge steals. The Marlins trades were great as well, Dombrowski didn't get value for Livan or Nen. Its rare to have lopsided wins like that.

      But this is a draft analysis, and the fact is, the Giants just didn't have a lot between Cain/Timmy and the Howry/Foulke/Nathan. It goes back to carving up the scouting budget maybe, but also tinstaap, and the Giants got burned more than most teams.

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    3. I only mention the trades because you brought it up as a complaint about Sabean, and so I addressed it.

      I don't think everything he does is gold, but if I think someone is wrong, I speak up.

      As I've tried to note for a long time, I understand the position of the Sabean Naysayers, as I was there too. With each piece of research and data that I've found over time, I think Sabean and the Giants have been very smart in their moves, at least in overall strategy.

      Tactics like spending less on scouting/drafts, plus trying to win one last time with Bonds, I don't agree with, but a lot of that was handed down to Sabean to execute, so I don't blame him for those. He often signed the best players available, per the win with Bonds strategy, but unfortunately, they ended up with issues and problems that we had to deal with. And there were moves that clearly were for PR, like Zito and Rowand, pushed by Magowan.

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    4. I guess I thought you understood, but the point I try to make about the drafts is that the reason there was not a lot between Cain/Timmy and Howry/Foulke/Nathan is that the odds of finding even useful MLB players via the draft is extremely hard.

      That seems to be a personal difference in that I focus mainly on finding good players via the draft, while you are looking broader. To me, while, as you note, we can get good value out of these useful players, for me, that don't really help your team win, in the final analysis.

      You cannot buy your way to the title, as the Yankees and Red Sox show, you have to build it from your farm system. Build it with good players. While the 6-15 WAR players are nice for saving money, I don't feel that they do a lot for making the playoffs and having a good team, hence I focus more on obtaining good players. These useful players are good once you have your good players - like right now - but not really the point for me. Just my personal preference, I guess.

      Of course, losing a lot of draft picks didn't help either, and I agree with you on that. I blame all of that on ownership and Magowan, though.

      If they weren't cheap about these items, if they were like Neukom and asked that Sabean bring baseball deals to them, so that the budget can be stretched when needed, Sabean, being a former scout, wouldn't have done them, scouts love draft picks. It is the life's blood of organization, the seeds from which the future grows.

      If they weren't trying to win it one last time with Bonds, Sabean could have done other moves, that wouldn't have costed us picks, since he would not be forced to try to win no matter the cost and could lose while adding draft picks.

      Still, even if they had the picks - and hence why I said that this draft pick punting strategy is not harmful to rebuilding - it would have been extremely hard to find a good or even useful player out of those prospects, the odds were that low. Odds were still overwhelming on the side that the prospects would have been duds, not good players, not even useful players.

      When the odds is 10% that you find a good player with that pick, that means it is 90% that you don't find a good player with that pick. It means that it takes 10 years of such picks to find one good player, on average.

      So to me, it is on par with complaining about the 25th player on the roster, not really crucial to the long-term health of the organization. Which is what I'm mostly interested in.

      I know you disagree, but this is the way I see it. I personally would not have punted the picks, I still blame ownership for forcing Sabean into baseball's version of Sophie's Choice, but in the big picture view, it is not that big a deal to me.

      I'm OK with working in the gray areas, where there are tradeoffs that have to be accounted for in making the decision. Balancing current vs. future needs is one of them. Where the "right" answer depends on the objective that is being pursued.

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    5. Looking at 10 different orgs over a almost 20 year drafting period and finding an average of about 10 good players absolutely reinforces the point that picking nuggets out is insanely hard work.

      The way I see that period of 2003-08 is a perfect storm catching Sabean, you have cheap ownership on the development front, you have the support aging Bonds edict, you have GMs starting to view talent differently. So we lose a potential closer in Nathan because we didn't trust Yorvit to catch, we don't go big with Vlad, the pickin's on the FA market get weaker and weaker, and then you're stuck in 2008 with a very piss poor team. Thems the breaks. I agree with a lot of what you put down, its rage over decisions that have left the building.

      There are always tradeoffs, and I try to keep that in mind. For my sensibilities, I just think you always have to be developing as a MLB team, that's the business you're in.

      I completely agree though, you focus on the core group you develop, and then the fill ins are hit or miss, easily discarded if missed. This is where the FA market and the Bonds support killed us though - contracts to subpar middle market players, that were immediate lodestones and not moveable at all. I see some evidence of Sabean avoiding that mistake again, and I applaud that. Like I've said, we didn't go give Coco Crisp or David Dejesus a 3 year deal now, did we?

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    6. Exactly right: you always have to be developing for the MLB team, that's the business, that's the business environment when your assets are fragile human beings whose usefulness and availability can go away with the snap of a tendon/ligiment or the internal timer goes "DING!" and that player is D-O-N-E.

      I have no problem with raging over decisions that are water under the bridge if the conditions that caused them are still around. I have viewed ownership as the main problem since they decided not to pursue Vlad (http://sfgiants.scout.com/2/309436.html ; http://obsessivegiantscompulsive.blogspot.com/2010/04/how-i-stopped-worrying-about-budget.html ; http://obsessivegiantscompulsive.blogspot.com/2011/09/your-2011-giants-punking-neukom.html ) and except for the quick oasis that was the Neukom era, I see that the problem still exists.

      That's why I worry that we might return to an era where player development gets short shrift. Big payrolls and winning teams does not obviate the need to develop, it requires ownership to step up to the plate and provide more money to enable that to happen, even with the poor draft picks.

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    7. No we did not pursue those mid-tier players. I would add to the "thank goodness" list, Cuddyer, Kubel, even Bay previously, Dunn, Werth, Rollins, and Furcal. I'm sure there are even more.

      But, again, you see it differently from me. You see it as Sabean avoiding that mistake again.

      Whereas I see it as ownership not forcing Sabean to make those mistakes again by 1) forcing him to win at all costs (the "win with Bonds" era), but then 2) hamstringing him with a limited budget. If they wanted to win at all costs, they should have opened the pockets bigger, not shut their coin purses shut (you know, those old ones like the one Ebeneezer Scrooge used, with the metal clasp).

      To me, Sabean has shown that he (and his group) recognizes talent. By keeping those which were worth keeping (until proven no longer worth keepting), he has never let go of a prospect that would haunt him. And in his trades in his early years and confirmed again this season with Melky Cabrera and Pagan, they recognize talent.

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    8. And you note the A.J. trade, I think that it was right not to trust Torrealba as a starter, he has had numerous chances where the catcher apparent failed and left him the starting job but he could never seal the deal and grasp the starting position with both hands.

      He was never league average at all offensively, 2010 was his only year where his OPS+ was above 100 since he left the Giants, and that was a lucky year influenced by his pitcher's park home park (Petco), where he actually hit well at home, causing the park adjustment to push his OPS+ over 100 even though it was basically the same as the year before.

      But if Sabean and gang are forced by ownership decree to pursue winning without the money to back it up, they will be forced to make a lot of compromises when signing free agents, when constructing the team, when developing for the future. I think we can all agree to call that equally the "Win with Barry" years or the "Punt the Pick" years. Those are the years when Sabean looks the worse, in terms of his overall record.

      He had some home parks that he really loved to hit in, but he's always been piss-poor on the road. And it helps that he's been in hitter's parks - Colorado and Texas - else his numbers would probably look even worse overall.

      And his defense, while positive for the most part, was never so good to say that was a huge part of his value. He had two really good years, 2007 and 2010, where he was over a win on defense (1.2 and 1.4) playing about double the innings that Chris Stewart played for us in 2011, but Stewart had 1.7 WAR on defense for us.

      Yorvit at best would have been a great backup for us, he would not have been a championship catcher for us. And trading him netted us a useful starting RF for a number of seasons.

      Delete

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