Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Your 2012 Giants: Hunter Pence Trade

Sorry I'm late on this, but I was offsite at work and then travelling back, stuck in the airport, when all this happened, not getting back home until 2AM.  Here are reports from Baggs, Hank, Pavlovic, and Haft.  Also, there is an interesting backstory on the Giants pursuit of Pence by CSN Bay Area's Rael Enteen and one by Schulman.

The deal is the Giants get Hunter Pence and cash (but not that much, I recall one report noting $2M total for both Scutaro and Pence, so maybe a $1M?) for Nate Schierholtz, Tommy Joseph, and Seth Rosin.

Giants Thoughts

I like the trade, but disappointed we lose Joseph and Rosin.  But you have to give to get.  And we need Pence's bat right now and for the indefinite future of this season because hamstring strains like what Sandoval has can linger for a long time, so we don't have a great idea when exactly Pablo will return from the DL.  Plus, if we can keep both Melky and Hunter, we could have a great lineup for the foreseeable future.

I am not absolutely sure the deal would have been done had Pablo not been injured, which I think contributed to the 5 game losing streak, but given the background information, clearly Sabean likes Pence and been trying to get him for a while now so Sabean was already talking Pence even before Sandoval's injury.  Though maybe the injury got the sign-off on the deal from upper management AKA Larry Baer, but Sabean's interest stretches back to 2011, when the price got too high for him.

Best Wishes to Nate the Great Giant

I love Nate, he's a good guy and I wish him the best.  Nate is considered by some to be a tweener, AAAA type.  I disagree.  When Nate is on, he's better than Hunter Pence overall.  His problem has been three-fold:  1) he's either very hot or very cold, 2) he's prone to injuries, 3) he's prone to returning too fast from injuries, resulting in the very cold in the first bullet.  He has believed that if a team would stick with him and give him a chance to stick, that he will.  Looks like the Phillies might be doing that, now that they traded away both Victorino and Pence.

I honestly don't know whether he'll ever reach that potential.  I think at minimum they get a gold glove in RF, and if played regularly, he'll give the Phillies a solid .700-.800 OPS overall, but fear that it will be a mix of hot/cold play, which don't work for a contending MLB team.  They need steady performers.

But who knows, maybe regular play will make it finally click for him and he can be a Hunter Pence-type hitter.  He has certainly had the power makeup to be so, and the nice RF configuration there (130 for LH hitters in 2011; 109 for 2009-2011, where 100 is neutral) will help boost his power output.  And his .755 OPS right now is not far from Pence's current .784, so that power boost could help him.  He has an .864 OPS in that park, all from his power there, vs. .731 OPS career numbers.

I think the Giants have given him numerous chances to stick.  When he gets hot, Bochy would put him into the lineup regularly but eventually that cold streak would put him on the bench eventually.  I have gone through his game by game usage and that is the pattern I've seen.  I have to think the Phillies are giving him that starting position, and let's see if he can relax and let his abilities shine.

However, they also brought up Domonic Brown as well, who played RF for them in 2011, but played mostly LF/CF in AAA this season, and have openly committed to giving him a chance to win a starting job.  With Juan Pierre and John Mayberry there too, and Lance Nix and Jason Pridie seeing time in the OF too, I have to think that Nate should get most of the starts for now - probably Brown LF, Pierre CF, Schierholtz RF - but if he goes into one of his cold spells, he'll be sharing time with Mayberry and Nix.  Though Nix could be getting a lot of playing time too, as he's hitting well right now, so we will have to see how it shakes out for him.   At least he is reunited with his best friend, former Giants Kevin Frandsen, who was recently promoted, and starting at 3B now.

But Nate's not the big pickup in this trade for the Phillies, Tommy Joseph is.  Tommy is very young but already in AA and doing OK there, for his age.  His gift is power, power, and more power, combined with playing a premium position, catcher.  I assume he's now the projected next starting catcher after Ruiz, though if Ryan Howard turns Zito-esque, he could move to 1B (not sure about their 1B prospects).

He's probably not ever going to hit for much batting average but his power is so good that the draft prospect hounds thought he would be OK at 1B.  His defense was in question at draft time, but that appears to be related to it being a relatively new position for him, I think he might have started in his senior year in high school.  He had a breakout year in Advanced A San Jose last season, earning kudos for his defense, not just improvement, but winning his team's defensive player of the year award.  Great arm back there, throwing out a lot of base stealers.  Some coaches thought that he was behind only Posey in acumen and game-calling, per Baseball America's profile on him.  So he's a lot to give up.

Seth Rosin has been a good pitching prospect, striking out a lot of guys along the way.  He wasn't on the BA Top 30 list but I think that relates to how old he was in the league he was in.   Still, I think that he's capable of continuing to develop and work his way up to the majors.  He's been mostly a reliever but he has also started some games too.  He could be a mid-to-back starting pitcher but most probably will be a reliever, perhaps a set-up guy if he develops right.  The scuttlebutt is that he was thrown into the deal in order for the Phillies to put more money into the deal.  He's only in San Jose, so he wouldn't be contributing for a while anyway.

If You Want More, You Pay More

I don't like giving up Joseph, but the Giants have to give to get.  He was our #2 prospect on Baseball America's Top 30 list this season.  I think the emergence of Hector Sanchez plus the addition of Andrew Susac made Joseph a trading chip, due to the depth of catching talent the Giants have behind Posey, who is pretty good himself (and I see from one of the articles, that appears to be part of the reasoning that Sabean gave; I had wrote a lot of this to a Phillies fan friend earlier today).

I think the trade is fair.  A lot of Giants fans are very enamored with Pence, but a lot of that was driven by his home park numbers.  He's above average but not elite otherwise - .287/.336/.474/.810 OPS on the road, 187 ISO, but also below average defensively, not not really bad, at least until this season.  He's elite given his home offensive numbers, so I can see some Phillies fans upset by the deal and think that he was traded when his value was low, a salary dump, when really, the Phillies overpaid for him last season, but got more than expected with his hot ending to 2011.  The Giants would love to have a similar hot streak.

I just think his value was over inflated by most fans.  I was against trading for him last season, based on what the Phillies gave up, the Giants would have had to give up our top two prospects for him to the Astros, Wheeler and Brown.  I thought the Phillies overpaid, but he sure hit well last season for the Phillies, but not so much this season.  If you look at his performances, while his overall career is 118 OPS+, in four of his full-season play he ranged from 105 to 116, with his 109 this season smack near the middle, which is not elite to me, being around 110 OPS+.

I hate parting with Joseph but the Giants have a lot of catchers who look capable of starting in the majors still, with Susac and Sanchez, plus Posey.  I also don't like losing Rosin, as he has some potential as a reliever, plus could be the emergency starting pitcher as needed.  But you have to give to get, as noted.

The Giants Hunter

While .287/.336/.474/.810 OPS on the road is not elite, probably about a 110 OPS+ which at best to me is borderline, given that his overall hitting with home is 118 OPS+ (and remember, he generated a lot of those numbers during the end of the offensive era that started in 1993), the Giants do not need elite.  They need steady performers (the knock on Niekro, Lewis, Bowker, Ishikawa, Schierholtz) so that the lineup does not have much if any holes in it on any particular day, whether against LHP or RHP, whether home vs. road.

His down 2012 season so far is related to poor hitting vs. LHP, who he in his career has killed, and bad luck in BABIP appears to be the culprit, though his contact rate is down significantly:

v.RHP:  .280/.344/.451/.795, 171 ISO, Contact Rate 78%, 0.44 BB/K, .317 BABIP
v.LHP:  .245/.311/.436/.747, 191 ISO, Contact Rate 80%, 0.42 BB/K, .268 BABIP

v.RHP:  .280/.340/.472/.812, 182 ISO, Contact Rate 80%, 0.37 BB/K, .332 BABIP
v.LHP:  .291/.349/.509/.858, 218 ISO, Contact Rate 85%, 0.57 BB/K, .303 BABIP

Given the small samples sizing issue with LHP on a seasonal basis, and the similarities of his RHP hitting against his career (remember, inflated by earlier offensive era, now transitioning back to prior norms), that suggests that his LHP going forward should be closer to .291/.345/.488/.833 (adding above for career relative to RHP, on top of his 2012 RHP batting line to get representative LHP).  Plus, historically, his numbers have been much better in August/Sept.

In addition, small samples, but Hunter has an excellent .329/.366/.566/.932 batting line at AT&T, which is incredible by itself, but especially since he has mostly played against our creme de la creme pitching staff for most of his career.  With 82 PA, he only has 9 strikeouts in 76 AB (good 88% contact rate) and 5 HR (15 AB/HR, which works out to a 40+ HR seasonal rate).   So who knows, maybe the way he hits is suited for our ballpark, though it is hard to imagine since he is a right-handed hitter.

However, his defense has been below average the past three seasons.  And especially bad this season.  I heard one guy from a Phillies station on KNBR talking about how he's a hack fielder in RF, so be aware, be very aware.  But with Blanco/Pagan in CF, hopefully their speed will help reduce his poor defense in RF, by covering the RF gap for him.  Plus, maybe he can get a crash course on what to look for and where to position, which the Giants coaching staff has gotten kudos for.  Heck, they were able to get positive dWAR from both Burrell and Huff in 2010, the two self-named water buffaloes, so maybe they can help minimize his defensive liabilities there.

These bits of data represent the value the Giants see in him, from my viewpoint.  While I didn't want to overpay due to his home numbers, he's still a player I very much like on the Giants because of both his power and, more so, his stable offensive numbers despite the situation.  That fits in very well with Sandoval and Posey, and seemingly more and more, Cabrera too has been steady last season and this season.

Speaking of Cabrera, I also have to wonder if the acquisition of Pence reflects any initial negatives coming out of conversations with Melky's agents about what they are looking for in terms of contract.  Of course, nothing has been said, and Sabean (and Shulman) has noted that the Giants pursued Pence last year too.  But I have to bring that up as a possibility, since we control Hunter for next year, his last arbitration year (he is being paid $10.4M; which values him as a $17.3M per year free agent, assuming that is 60% of the free agent value, which hews with his arbitration award in prior season of $6.9M or $17.25M per year at 40%) and now we are not as dependent upon keeping Cabrera.

Money, Money, Money

In any case, Sabean said that he has gotten approval from upper management to budget in both Cabrera and Pence (saw in interview on CSN plus Baggs tweet).  I think that 4-5 years at $15M per season is probably the range that is fair for the players.  I will take his word that the Giants can fit in both, but from my prior back of envelope calculations, I was not sure we could both keep all our young core players - Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Sandoval, Posey - plus add in free agent level type accomplished hitters, let alone two of them.  So perhaps senior management approved expansion of the budget for 2013.

And if the Giants are willing to up their budget in order to fit in Pence for 2013, that would be a good sign that Neukom's influence on decision making has continued forward, and that decision making has not regressed back to pre-Neukom levels.  As I've been saying for about 5 years now, if the Giants ownership is willing to pony up the dough, the Giants could have a dynasty that lasts through the 2010 Decade and be the Team of the Deacade that I've been touting in my signature on MCC, and noting elsewhere on other Giants and baseball sites.  I had not been hopeful pre-Neukom or post-Neukom, but this has to be taken as a positive sign, at least initially.

And spending money on a move like this is infinitely better for the Giants than if they had, say, spent time and money on trying to squeeze another high school prospect into the draft as some have vehemently criticized them for.  I still say that in any business, you have to pick and choose your battles and where you want to get an edge on the competition.  Chasing every windmill or every sliver of potential advantage that is out there is not a very efficient or even effective way to run an organization, and ultimately will lead to a waste of resources at some level.  There is a point of diminishing returns for any and every business process, and I think that trying to improve how well a team drafts in rounds 11-40 is similar to trying to squeeze blood from any root vegetable of your choice (radish, potato, turnip).   That time and money is better spent in other areas, whether international free agents or trading for players you hope to sign long-term.

Yes, you need the prospects in order to trade for these players, but I would note that the players given up - Culberson, Joseph, and Rosin - were all drafted in the first four rounds of the draft and Culberson was a supplement first round pick and Joseph was a second round pick.  Nary a late round prospect, which is much like a flower blooming in the desert.  It is beautiful, but few and far in-between, not worth hunting down, where there are potentially more productive areas (like Asia and I've been hearing some good word about Europe as well) for such prospects.

Great Lineup Now and Maybe Future

All in all, we now have a great top of the lineup, 2-6, which would be a great top of the lineup in the future if we can sign them up.  Assuming Blanco keeps the CF job in 2013 (Pence's addition appears to have ended Pagan's chances of signing going forward), it could be Blanco, Cabrera, Pence, Posey, and Sandoval atop our lineup going forward, plus some mix of Theriot, Crawford, and Belt, allowing the Giants to tolerate both Crawford's and Belt's bats at the bottom of the lineup.  And Belt's bat is actually OK for a 7th hitter, overall, so perhaps he can bat 6th vs. RHP and 7th vs. LHP.

NL 2012
6th:  .256/.323/.413/.736
7th:  .250/.310/.406/.715
8th:  .240/.307/.364/.671

Belt:  .237/.340/.369/.710 overall
BCraw:  .246/.312/.339/.651 since May 8th, when he got a break to fix his batting stroke

However, for this season, given how poorly Belt has hit in July, I think that he will be sharing 1B with Brett Pill for now, and Blanco and Pagan will share CF, with who playing depending on matchups, prior history with the pitcher, and situation (home/road, who's hot, who's not).  I can also see, once Pablo returns, Scutaro getting starts to rest both Theriot and Crawford, particularly against LHP for Crawford, but also Theriot since he is older and probably need more rest to maintain his hitting through the season.  Scutaro might even see time at 3B, if the Giants dare play Pablo at 1B again (probably not, though they could rest Pablo and play Posey at 1B)

And with the Phillies releasing Mike Fontenot, I can see the Giants pursuing him, assuming he goes through waivers, to replace Arias, reuniting the Ragin' Cajun buddies, Theriot and Fontenot.  Fonty has played good defense for us, while providing a good bat off the bench for us as well.  His numbers for the Phillies is not that bad off the bench (.683 OPS, much like his time with the Giants) and he was actually good at getting on-base, with a .341 OBP, whereas Arias is a black hole offensively after his initial nice start.  If no team picks him up, I don't see why the Giants don't pick him up, heck, his salary is so low, they might even put in a waiver claim and pick up his contract, where he's owed at most $350K.

So the bench, once Hector Sanchez comes off the DL (which probably means Whitey is DFAed), which I believe he is due for tomorrow, and assuming Sandoval returns once his DL is over, might look like Hanchez, Pill, Scutaro, Fontenot, and Blanco/Pagan, depending on who is not starting that day.  If the Giants are serious about having Huff on the them and be like Renteria was for us in 2010, he's probably taking Pill's spot once he is ready, as he can play the OF in an OK way if necessary, whereas Pill would not, and he's never been that bad against LHP, just not good, so he could steal some starts at 1B, if Belt is cold again.  Gives a nice mix of RH, LH, SH, power vs. speed.


  1. Nice analysis. In the short term, Sabean did very well. Despite the loss of Joseph, the Giants still have more than enough C and 1B options, so losing him was dealing from excess.

    Pence's fielding - it's hard to tell the hyperbole from the facts, or to know how accurate the facts are. A good arm is god-given, but, it seems to me that playing the wall and alley in RF well at AT&T is more a matter of smarts than range. And, as you mention, the coaching staff by now must have that down, so Pence may not be anywhere near as bad as what people are saying is his worst weakness.

    While I shudder at Brad Penny a bit (though he seems to be doing fine), indeed the best move may have been the one they didn't make - someone like Frankie R in the bullpen. Bullpen arms seem to have gone for nothing less than a fortune, and for the 20-odd innings you'd get I just can't see it. And then what to do with Wilson next year? Better to see what shakes out in August.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Good point about the relief trade market, it had not dawned on me that they were going for a fortune. I just figured Sabean didn't see a deal he liked, but didn't think the next step, which is a high priced market.

      Yes, Sabean has been successful with waiver wire deals and with picking guys teams have given up on (like Eyre), so hopefully there is a good picking this year, but relying on that also puts the fates out of your hands.

      Not that I'm complaining about the Giants not doing that, but that's just the facts of not doing anything. The Giants had a poor July but that is mainly because the relief corp has been stinking it up this month. Had they been their normal shutdown selves, it would have been a very good month, heck, Casilla's 5 saves in 10 opportunities, right there spelled a big chance of a great month lost opportunity.

      But with the extra wild card, more teams were still willing to hold onto players. Basically, to me, it seemed like the teams who are in line to get a Top 5 overall pick, or close enough to taste it, sold off in order to try to ensure a Top 5 overall pick. And once one team did it, it became a domino situation that pushed another team to do it, until most of them did something.

      Honestly, I believe that the Brian Wilson era is over until he proves to me otherwise. He never spoke to it openly, but he hit on it tangentially, that the success rate from second TJS is pretty bad. But he gave his out-there positive face on it, and we know he will work like a demon to come back. Still, it could be that we lost another great closer with a trip to the World Series.

      And if he is able to come back, frankly, Brad Penny is easy to jettison as a reliever - really need a strikeout guy in the pen - and Shane Loux hasn't been that good either, not enough to hold back even a below average Brian Wilson.

      But again, even for first time TJS, it typically takes at least a year to recover your prior velocity, so at best Wilson might return to normal, say, mid-2013.

      So it does not look very good for him, but I wish him the very best and hope he is the one with the four-leaf clover in recovering from a second TJS.

      And we need a sweet waiver wire deal that gives us a good arm. We will see.

  2. Nice analysis OGC. I was curious to read your thoughts on Pence because I remembered you were "draw the brakes" on him last year. I agree, the Gints didn't have the horses to get him, and Beltran is the better hitter. However, that control of the contract is valuable, its nice for the Phils to take the brunt of the buy high. I think the Gints bought fair, but no bargain. Losing Joseph hurts, even though there is depth at catcher, the power bats are all pretty inconsistent this year on the farm.

    I am one of those fans enamored by Pence. I like his stats, I like the RH pull bat, and I like his personality. He is a bit of a hacker out there, and he is definitely unique in the way he hits, runs, fields, etc. Having him as a hedge against Melky leaving is nice, and yet another OF pickup that can yield a draft pick if he leaves at the end of the contract. Nice job Sabes.

    On the back of the envelope side - our starting pitching will cost 69MM next year. In 2014 it will drop to 31MM, and then hard calls: Timmy is the big one. Will Vogelsong still be gamering? And then Zito - 7MM buyout, 18MM club option - I could see them splitting the difference if the need is there and going with a 12.5MM deal or something like that. And then you have Stratton/Agosta and Crick/Blackburn and some other sleepers from the draft/DSL guys like Mejia. So I could see backloaded contracts for both Pence/Melky and the Gints have athletic proven hitters at the corners (28 and 29 years of age in 2013). then its just a question of blanco or Gary Brown at the leadoff/CF for cheap.

    That's assuming everything goes well. Melky and Sabean have both said all the right things. There will be a lot of interest in Melky, hard to say how that will turn out. The Gints get first crack at him though, and he appears to have thrived here. Still, money talks.

    I'd take this as a positive sign on the ownership front. Don't want to go down that rabbit hole right now, I would hope that what I find interesting discussions we have on team building philosophy isn't getting lumped into that vehement line, sometimes things can get blown out of proportion. I'll say this: Sabean acknowledging the fans and support - 'Ownership realized...this team is unique' video on csn - "we answer to a higher calling" as well as "every team has an expiration date"... I would say both those quotes are revealing, and some good PR from a GM who can come across as gruff and grumpy, I really liked what he said.

    He also says in that interview you try to compete and develop at the same time, and sometimes youth gets sacrificed. Despite my prospectin' leanings, I think this is entirely correct. Sometimes there will be sacrifices. Joseph will be right on the cusp of the BA 100 like last year. Good to hang onto Brown, who I think will be a difference maker. Solid move getting Pence, and the 3-6 in the lineup gets deeper and more consistent. Good stuff.

    1. Yeah, wanted to make clear that while I liked him, I didn't think that he was a difference maker (though he hit like one for the Phillies) worth the cost in prospects.

      So while I was enamored with him, 1) I didn't think he was worth what the Astros were asking for and 2) I don't think, based on his stats, that he's as good as his numbers showed.

      But heck yeah, today, he is absolutely right for our lineup, not that a Beltran wouldn't be nice, but Pence is young and can be a key part of our offense for the key next few years in the window we current have with Lincecum and Vogelsong, and more extended, Cain and Bumgarner. So I'm enamored with Pence, just that while the trade market situation was not in line with what I viewed as his value last season, this season, I think this was very fair, no ripoff for either side, I feel, as Phillies got a reasonable replacement for now in Nate, plus a high potential prospect in Joseph (but also potential for bust too due to his high strikeout rate), plus a likely return in value in Rosin, in terms of a nice cheap bullpen piece for the fture.

      Yeah, Timmy is a huge, largely unanswerable question mark right now.

      Vogelsong, while I agree that we don't know exactly what we'll get, I think the better question is whether he'll be a good 3/4 starter for us, and given how he has dominated with velocity that is not plus suggests that he's one of the rare crafty righties, and those usually have a long shelf life. While expecting something like what he's doing for us in 2011-12 is not the best thing to do, I think expecting him to continue to be a good enough pitcher of the 3/4 mode is something that likely given how well he has done this season.

      Hopefully Zito's agent will see things the same way as you do. Given how well he has pitched, hopefully we can restructure his option year buyout into a 2-3 year deal at reduced salary, similar to what Vogelsong got, but I get the feeling he's going to go for the money, and while we as Giants fans are underwhelmed by what Zito did, because of his salary, other teams will see a healthy innings eater with a good enough ERA to hold a mid-rotation spot, and those get closer to the $8-10M range, and I'm not sure the Giants can afford that if we sign the OFs.

    2. Yes, big ifs for both Melky and Hunter. I agree that money talks and I think it is a good indicator that the Giants are willing talk with money by openly addressing signing both long-term and Sabean stating so for both. Hopefully Melky and Hunter are realistic about their market value.

      Yes, positive sign, but nothing conclusive until we have Melky, Hunter, and I would add, Buster, signed on the dotted line.

      Yeah, I was also surprised and pleased at Sabean's interview. I didn't catch all of it, but saw some of it leaving the airport at 12AM Wednesday morning, and when I get the chance will listen on CSN.

      I happened to catch that quote on competing and developing at the same time. I don't see it quite as youth gets sacrificed, I see it more as trading off the future for the present, a time shifting of value, and youth can serve both, not sacrificed, but I know this is more wordsmithing than anything, but wanted to try to convey what I mean.

      Good point about holding onto Brown. I think he can be a difference maker too, I really like his growth and development as a hitter, as well as the value he can provide as a basestealer/baserunner and especially on defense, given our odd CF configuration. We have been waiting forever for a CF/leadoff guy to generate offense and he's the best I can ever recall, almost similar to how Posey was the best C we have ever had (obviously Buster was the more highly rated/ranked prospect, but I just mean relative to Giants history of prospects). I see him being our Rickey Henderson (though obviously without the walks).

      While I see a lot of talk of 3-6, these being our best hitters, I would really prefer them 2-5 instead, as I had noted in my post. Cabrera, having some experience and success batting 2nd, is my choice there. I go back and forth on 3/5 between Pablo and Pence, but Buster is definitely our cleanup hitter. I like Pablo 5th because his ISO is better, but since his OBP is also better, 3rd before Buster seems key too. Perhaps just swap them depending on LHP/RHP starter.

    3. I try to temper my enthusiasm for Brown, but I agree completely with what you put down. We have been waiting forever for a leadoff guy. Have to be careful with the expectations, but something feels good about him. Really good.

      And heres the rub, the struggle. The Gints take a lot of flak from fans with hitter development, some maybe deserved, but they chose to wait for him to struggle before trying to help him with his batting technique. And that, in my opinion, is what was going on for the first 3 months. He has excelled at every level of play. He is very cocky. There has been a lot of angst and downgrading of him based on his Richmond performance, both among fans and the experts. Well, to me, if he is going to struggle anywhere, I want it to be Richmond, its the big test before the show. Not all can be a Posey, or a Griffey, or what not. He doesnt' have to be a superstar, he has to be a ballplayer. I think he is one.

      OK, so here are my thoughts, trying to get a different angle, because with the draft brew haha I realize I might be coming off more negative than I actually am. First, a Fangraphs piece today:

      The Doyers have 135MM committed already, I have not double checked Dave Cameron, but I trust his work on that front. They will go for more. You used the term squeeze stones, or root vege's, what not. For me, that is the cheap end of the spectrum, making the small moves that might pay off big. I do not expect nor want the Giants to match the Doyers toe to toe in big time spending, up to the luxury tax. I do want them to grab as many lottery tickets as possible however. I want the Gints to play some moneyball, in the sense of competition for the scraps. And I fully appreciate the dumpster dives, the pitching expertise, and the fact sometimes moneys get tight. Hope that clarifies my position. I have tried very hard to keep my critical comments to that subject at hand to posts directly about the subject, and compartmentalize it, because I think there are a ton of things the Giants are doing well right now.

      Mostly, I really see a gulf between the baseball operations and the ownership, which is one of the things you have been saying for years. Sabean has gone into battle with one arm tied behind his back at times, and that is very very clear now from the historical perspective but also the hoops he has to jump through to get trades done. And I'd add I have seen that sentiment across the Gints blogosphere, in places that like to bash Sabean even. For the most part, I think good moves have happened, especially the long term ones such as locking up Cain/MadBum, hedging Timmy due to mutual agreement, hedging Sandoval, making some moves with pitching in the draft, and DSL youngsters internationally. The small stuff, this draft brew up and some of the middle infield silliness, maybe there is some small complaints (magnified, yes), but overall, the Giants are targeting athletic hitters with upside in this past years trades, and I like it a lot.

      Gonna be a battle going forward. If our pen and Timmy pitched to pre-season expectations, we would be running away. So there will be some adjustments. If we execute our defense and tighten up the pitching, the hitting should be ample. Fun ties ahead!

  3. Do you think the outfield would be better configured with Pence in left and Melky in right? I don't think Melky would be exposed in moving there, and he also has the arm for the position. Or would that just be a lateral move defensively?

    1. That's an interesting idea. According to the Fielding Bible, Pence was a very good fielder in 2008-9, but not as much in 2010-11. And he has been horrible this season. This is different from the view on dWar that I provided in my post.

      Sorry, I'm still jet-lagged and whiffed on that, as I like the Fielding Bible's DRS system best out of the defensive metrics.

      According to the Bible, both have strong arms and are suited for corner OF positions. Given his history of prior excellence, I would give Pence the first opp to play RF this season, but if he continues to suck even with Giants coaching, a swap with him in LF and Melky in RF seems to be a good idea, particularly given how we saw how speed in RF helped Blanco in the right-CF gap, not that Melky is that fast, but more that he's probably faster than Hunter. The weaker defensive player should play LF in AT&T in particular.

      But it could turn out to be a lateral move, neither have been considered that great defensively in recent seasons.

  4. Interesting anonymous quote from BP:

    Giants right fielder Hunter Pence: "He's exactly what they needed, a right-handed hitter with pop. I love how he plays the game. He's going 100 mph all the time, and that's going to be infectious for the entire team. You reach that point in the season now where everyone is dragging, and he is going to liven everyone up."

    The Giants are 5-3 since he was added to the lineup. While hitting only .171/.189/.257/.446 in 35 AB, he does have 7 RBI in 8 games played so far. Only 7 K's, so it is not like he's been wildly swinging, that's an 80% contact rate, so his .207 BABIP so far is likely to rebound at some point.

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