Thursday, November 15, 2012

Your 2013 Giants: Affeldt Signs 3 Years, $18M

As reported by the media for a while now, Jeremy Affeldt has re-signed with the Giants.  As reported  by Chris Haft (and in other sources as well), it was for 3 years, $18M.  Presumably, it is for $6M per year, but given that last year he got $5M and the Giants budget is already being stretched for 2013, it could be for $5M, $6M, $7M, which Sabean has done before for some contracts.  There was no mention of a signing bonus, nor boosts in contract value for awards that might be won, the details on this contract has been particularly sparse relative to before.

He said he did it for his family, to get financial security.  That refers more to the length of the contract, than the size, as he's already pulled in a lot of money in prior contracts.  He is a West Coast guy, having grown in the Northwest region (Washington), citing that as one of his factors as well.  He also is happy to be returning to his "Giants Family," which is what Pence was talking about in all his sermonizing.  And his actual family gets to continue to live and grow up in the San Francisco Bay Area, it sounds like, which I think is up there in his thinking as well.

ogc thoughts

I think this move had to be done and done first among the Giants free agents.  The Giants bullpen was a great asset last year, but that was in spite of the fact that we lost Brian Wilson for the season and potentially (probably, if we are being realistic, the Beard has been saying you can bet on it that he'll be there opening day) early 2013 too.  Casilla's issues also put a damper on things too, he looked like he would be the new closer after his 2011 season, but his blister (and probable mental issues) took him out of the job and pushed Bochy to go with the committee method until Romo took control by late season.

In addition, as we all know, pitchers are just more fragile in general.  And Romo, as we also all know, has not been a horse before, he has had elbow issues before.  And I was getting worried about him near the end of the season because his quotes were laced with comments about pitching until his arm falls off and how he'll answer the call no matter what.  That was similar to what Wilson was saying in 2010 and 2011, and we subsequently learned that his body was already starting to give out in 2010.

Given any team's need for a shutdown bullpen and Romo's history of questionable health, plus if Affeldt and Romo were gone, that means that we need to rely on Casilla solely as our closer, with only Lopez, Kontos, and Mijares as our set-up men in that case, the Giants had no real choice but to sign Affeldt to the contract terms that Affeldt wanted, which was 3 years (which, to be fair, is what relievers of his ilk has been getting, like League).  We need the redundancy as well as just for the overall quality of the bullpen.  He's a proven reliever, to get someone similar - and I mean similarly accomplished, not a reliever who did well in 2012 - would have cost us the same money.

I don't understand why Giants fans didn't get that last year or this year.  Especially after how 2012 unfolded, I could at least see their argument from last off-season (though I would still pick up his option), but after Wilson went down and Casilla proved not to be the long-term answer, and particularly after how well Affeldt did in the playoffs, I just don't see how anyone cannot see why we had to sign Affeldt.

I think the question boils down to this:  do you want to win another championship or do you want to save money?  I want another championship.

And it is not like the Giants don't have money to spend on him.  A lot of contracts are going off the books.  And while raises take up a lot of that, there is still money to get everything done, that is why Sabean was able to say at the time of Pence's trade that they were planning on signing both he and Melky to long-term deals.  Given the baseball rationale for needing Affeldt, I don't see why the budget could not also handle Affeldt.

Next up is Scutaro, according to media reports.  They are reporting that the Giants are optimistic (Chron), but if Scutaro were close, I would think the Giants would have waited to get him done before announcing Affeldt's deal.  According to the Haft account, Sabean characterized negotiations as "ongoing and upbeat" regarding Scutaro and Pagan.

Unfortunately, I think that this means that Scutaro is listening hard to other offers for the best offer, whereas Affeldt had an idea of what he wanted, and Sabean was willing to meet it.  Jeremy noted (good comment on Sabean's methodology, which I had guessed at before, good to see pointed out here by player):
Once the Giants proved willing to give Affeldt a three-year package, as they demonstrated shortly after the World Series ended, the bargaining essentially ended. 
"The Giants are aggressive," Affeldt said. "They don't sit there and try to lowball and figure out where to get to, if they have an idea of where [your salary] should be. I don't think Sabean messes around a whole lot." 
Affeldt indicated that he could have listened seriously to proposals from other teams. But, as he stated, he didn't have a reason to leave, especially since he and his family like the city, the Bay Area and the ballclub.
Nothing wrong with Scutaro kicking the tires with other teams - it is his right - but it just dampens my hopes of getting him re-signed.

Alternatives to Scutaro

Not that I think that he is totally critical to the Giants success in 2013.  He was certainly the catalyst for our offense in the second half after he joined the team, but expecting him to hit .362/.385/.473/.859 again is not a reasonable expectation.   Much more reasonable was his batting line from the past four seasons playing mostly full-time:  .290/.354/.404/.758.  Theriot hit this after he returned to action after his DL got him healthy and when he got replaced: .287/.345/.345/.679.  Which is basically his career line:  .281/.341/.350/..691.  And both are roughly equal in defensive ability at 2B and SS.  While he is not as good a hitter as Scutaro, is Scutaro worth $5, 6, or 7M more than Theriot?

On top of that, the Giants have two MI who could be pushing for the starting spot starting in spring training 2013.  Nick Noonan had a nice but not breakout season in AAA, but a vast improvement on his 2011 season in AA Richmond.  His batting line was not impressive - .296/.347/.416/.763 - but it is that bad either considering he was only 23 YO for the season and the average age there was 26.7 years for pitchers, meaning they had roughly 3-4 more years of experience over him.  The good news for him is that his contract rate was a nice 83% (85% is what good hitters do, but again, note the age disadvantage for him) and his BB/K ratio was an OK 0.48 (usually want at least 0.50).  If he can further develop in 2013, he could be ready for the majors by mid-season.

Of course, the main person on the radar for 2B is Joe Panik.  He has had a down year both in the Cal League, a hitter's league, as well as the AFL, so far.  Still, he hit a nice .297/.368/.402/.770 for San Jose, and more importantly only had 54 K's in 535 AB (roughly 90% contact rate, great) and had the excellent ratio of 58 BB/54 K, 1.07 BB/K ratio, as only the best hitters can get their BB/K ratio above 1.00, and he has done it two seasons in a row.

If he can maintain that in the majors, he'll be an elite hitter.  In the majors, hitters who can maintain a BB/K ratio of over 1.00 are more likely to hit .300 than not (51% of hitters with BB/K from 1.00 to 1.50 had over .300 BA, only 9% of them had less than .250).  Guys with contact rates of 90%+ averaged .290 in 2011 season.  So far, so good.

He should be in AA for the 2013 season, maybe AAA for 2014, assuming he continues to climb.  With some good hitting, he could be in the majors by mid-season 2014, age 23, or by 2015 season at age 24.  That's still pretty young age to be making the majors.

Between Theriot and the young prospects, the Giants should be covered adequately at 2B for the next couple of years (assuming the Giants are able to re-sign Theriot.

Alternatives to Pagan

Pagan is even easier to replace.  Blanco, while not as good offensively, should be as good or better defensively in CF.  Meanwhile, Pagan had a very nice 2012, but his three year record as a starting OF is .281/.334/.415/.749, which is nice but not $13.8M nice.  Blanco's stats, again like above with Theriot, might not be as good, but is Pagan worth $10M+ more than Blanco?  Blanco's stats in 2012 was very close to his MLB stats:  .244/.333/.344/.676 vs. .253/.349/.331/.680.  At leadoff, the most important factor there is the hitter's OBP, and both of their OBP are virtually the same.

Meanwhile, we can go in a number of different directions for LF.  First off is internally from our own roster.  As much as I like Brandon Belt at 1B, I assume that Posey and Sanchez will be sharing the catcher's duties again and likely push Belt off 1B starts anywhere from 30 to 50 games.  If he is hitting as well as he did last season, the Giants would play him in LF for that many games.  If he's playing in LF that much, maybe it would be better for him to start in LF instead.  In which case, the Giants could look for a free agent 1B, perhaps just a platoon hitting 1B, instead of a LF or CF.

There are other options in the Giants farm system as well.  Had he not gotten injured last season, Roger Kieschnick probably would have gotten a chance to play in the Giants OF last season, after hitting .295/.361/.581/.942 up to his season-ending injury.   Particularly with Schierholtz not doing that well before the Pence trade, and after Melky got suspended.  And he started most of the 2012 season in LF.  He strikes out way, way too much and likely would be even harder to get going in the majors than Belt, but he brings a lot of HR power, plus walks a lot as well.

Another potential option is Francisco Peguero.  While he only hit .272/.297/.394/.691 in AAA, he started the season injured and took a while to get into baseball shape, it appears.  From June on, he hit .308/.327/.411/.738, which better shows his hit tool, and he was only 24 YO in AAA.  Also showing that he might have been struggling all season with leg problems, he only had 1 SB attempt all season in AAA, but in the majors, in his September call-up, where he basically was Huff's pinch-runner, he stole 3 bases with no CS.

None of these options are necessarily better than Pagan, but at $10M or more in extra cost, is he going to produce that much more value?  That is at least debatable.  In addition, there is a multitude of players the Giants can sign to play LF (if Blanco plays CF), starting with their former LF, Melky Cabrera, who should be cheap and the Giants, according to rumors, are open to him returning (I'm OK either way, it is what it is, though I would prefer to move on).  Other names include Scott Hairston (Giants killer previously), Jonny Gomes (grew up in Bay Area, I believe he's a Giants fan), Reed Johnson (Sabean loves flexibility and he plays all three OF positions).  Also, MLBTR has mentioned that the Giants kicked the tires on Torii Hunter (who just signed for 2 years, $26M with Tigers) and Shane Victorino (Flying Hawaiian; love that nickname).

Victorino might be a nice addition at a lower price point given his poor 2012 season, but still strong SB skill. He did not strike out that much, it was in line with prior seasons, plus his walk rate was still within his career range, he might have just had a bad season at age 31.  Previously, as a full-time starter for 6 seasons, he hit .282/.348/.443/.791, and averaged around 32 SB in the past 6 seasons.  And he has been the equal of Pagan and Blanco in defense in CF, and great on the corners.  I think if we can get him for one season at half the money that Pagan is asking for, I would rather have Victorino for a season than Pagan for 2-3 seasons.  He would be a nice bridge to get us to Brown starting in 2014, assuming he does well in Fresno in 2013.

Then, there is 1B (if Belt plays LF) free agents.  I've always like Kila Ka'aihue bat, maybe we can give him a chance to figure it out in the majors.  Carlos Pena has been an OK defensive 1B himself, and provides a lot of HR power and walks.  He probably don't want to split time at 1B though.  Kevin Youkilis would be an intriguing choice, he provides HR power and walks as well, and has never really played a full season and been very part time in recent years, and plays great defense there, plus can play 3B occasionally too.

There are a lot of options other than Pagan.


  1. Got into a friendly Affeldt discussion last night on the McCronic. Here is his yearly breakdown: First off, here’s how he’s being paid for the re-up: LHP Jeremy Affeldt receives $3 million signing bonus,$5 million per season 2013-15.

    Second, he was paid as follows: 2009 3.5MM, 2010 4MM, 2011 4.5MM, 2012 5MM.

    So the last 3 years he’s been paid 13.5MM, and overall the Gints have shelled out 17MM.

    (Cut and paste jobby by me of my comment)

    I don't understand how anybody is complaining about Affeldt for the results, the skills he brings, and the excellent points you make about the rest of our pen. Affeldt is a hybrid reliever with a lot of skills, and he has shown up in our two rampages to 11 wins.

    Anyways... Interesting point about Scutaro. One thing to note - the Giants didn't announce the Affeldt signing, the national media got ahold of it - Nightengale/Heyman. Might be something, might be nothing.

    I like The Riot, but I have to say, his defense is not comparable to Scutaro's. He'd be an OK placeholder but I think there would be some downgrade there. I bet Scutaro gets re-signed, if the Giants are putting out as much good vibe as they are.

    Pagan... Well, with Hunter gone, the chips start coming off the table. Apparently the Braves are in on BJ Upton, I hope that is true, I could see them snagging Pagan. This is poker, and as teams fill their needs, sometimes players get paid more, but sometimes they get left without a chair.

    Here's a post I put up on MCC about the trade market:

    I would just note that Victorino, in addition to being quite a punky character, has a pie throwing arm for the ages. That is one underrated part of Pagan's game, he has a great arm.

    The scrapheap LF options might just be the way to go. The one thing that is hard to figure out is the Giants have spent so much time seeking good defense and speed, I think they will continue. I emphasized that in the post I made.

    Still hopeful on Scutaro, Pagan, not sure. We'll see if the Giants can counteroffer into his price range.

    1. Thanks for your comments and link, as always, I appreciate your thoughts (even when I might not agree with them :^). And especially for the contract info.

      Yeah, I don't understand either, anymore. He was just plain dominating in these playoffs, he might not pitch that way all the time, but he's certainly has that capability. And while the money is high, you have to pay for the good stuff in life.

      And good point about how he is a hybrid reliever with a lot of skills, I should have made more of a point about how he takes on any role Bochy gives him and goes well in it.

      I also should have pointed out that even when Wilson returns, we have no idea how good he'll be, the beard may return, but the Beard may not.

      True about Affeldt, the Giants might have been forced into upping the announcement, but to counter, I would note that they took a couple of days to do it, perhaps hoping to make a double announcement, then had to go solo. And while the previous "rumors" has been the Giants are optimistic, somewhere I saw noted that Scutaro was kicking the tires with other teams.

      And thanks for saying you think Scutaro gets re-signed. I do agree with that but didn't put that in my post. My main point is was that while I'm still hopeful that he signs, this delay has gotten my hopes down. Yes, the good vibes are out there, for both players.

      About defense, honestly, one, haven't really seen him play much, but two, looked at his defensive numbers with bb-ref and they were about the same, on seasonal basis, at 2B. I agree that he's a downgrade and that he is an OK placeholder.

      Nice post on trades and FA. Thanks again for the link.

      Did not know that Shane is a punk character, that is something that wouldn't work in our clubhouse. With an arm that bad, though, we could play him in LF and Blanco in CF, and at a one year contract, be an adequate bridge to hopefully Brown in 2014. Maybe Posey can use his Jedi tricks on him? :^)

      Yeah, I am thinking scrapheap too, and I like the Torres idea in your post. I am hoping to be pleasantly surprised with some more minor league invites this off-season, when we got Blanco and Arias, I was surprised that they were available, not that they were that great, but I thought good enough that someone would have snatched them up quick. CStew too looked like a great gamble, Casilla as well, never sure why Beane let him go, but he makes up for the ex-Giants Beane has picked up over the years and gotten something out of them, like Rajai and now that LHP pitcher (name escapes me, I was sad losing him, Aussie).

    2. There was criticism of the Affeldt signing last year, as many felt that one lefty specialist (Lopez) was enough (not that Affeldt is a left specialist, but that was the argument). But there were some who thought that the Giants weren't telling us everything about Wilson's status, and that Affeldt was closer insurance. Turns out they were right. Same thing this year. Affeldt has closed before, and all of our other possible closers, Wilson, Romo and Casilla, have had injury or effectiveness issues. When Affeldt originally signed with the Giants, it was thought he might even start occasionally. So though his primary role will still probably be left-handed set-up, he gives us insurance in several other roles.

  2. Blackley, I think. Good post, OGC. I'd be shocked if we don't sign Scoots to a 2 year/$12MM contract. He'll play 2B full time in 2013 before transitioning to Panik in 2014. As for Oxy -- someone is going to give him 3 years and $36MM. I wouldn't be upset if that team was us. He'd be the starting CF in 2013 and 2014 and a good mentor/transition guy for 2015 to Brown. The real question for me is: why not Melky? he'll be cheap, we can get him on a one year "make good" deal, and if he can mend the clubhouse fences, the Giants can trot out all the Melkman swag. The Melkmaids would return, it'd be awesome. I just don't know how MVPosey feels about that and his voice carries the most weight.

    I can see Riot back at 2yrs/$3MM and Beard back at a one year "make good" contract (something like $4MM plus incentives) after being non-tendered.

    Just a hunch, but don't be shocked if we're in on Swisher. SabeySabes is stealthy like that.

    1. Your question just got answered: 2/16mm to Toronto. Glad that got settled quick.

      I hope we are not in on swisher. He brings subpar fielding, a power profile that doesn't fit Pac bell, expense and a underrated for so long he might be overrated now. And a horrible not small sample size postseason.

    2. Yes, it is Blackley, thanks.

      I hope so, I like Scoots.

      I would be upset with Pagan getting 3 /$36M, I think that's too much for him, a mini-Rowand deal. And I think Brown should be ready for us by 2014.

      I would have been OK with Melky, but just prefer moving on and not getting all that side talk about PED cheaters. Luckily Posey is so squeaky clean that he should keep that off the team.

      I liked Swisher until Shankbone noted his defensive problems, and he's a lefty, so I think he'll be out of our price range for what we would get out of him.

    3. Switch hitter, throws left. I just got spooked off by his home run chart overlaid with PacBell. His power is to RF, and our stadium is a beast. Doyer stadium plays to RF power sometimes, but SD isn't easy either. I could see him being "Rowanded" and getting angry at the park. Todd Helton sure hates it. Its not for everybody, and I have become an advocate of going after RH pull power to play better in the park, but also to increase our chances. With even 4 teams in pursuit, I have to imagine the park factors ranking the Gints low.

      Now the crowd/winning? Not sure how much that plays with MLB players. I'm sure once they have made 100MM, maybe it becomes a big factor. Torii Hunter got snagged up quick by Detroit, I think the combo of winning and the AL for a career AL player was a slam dunk.

      Apparently the Yanks are heavy on Scott Hairston. Well, if we aren't going to get him, at least get him out of our league... Of course we would have to worry about him this year because we play the AL east AND maybe a little World Series somethun' somethun'...

      If Cody Ross and his agents outkick their coverage again, he could be a dark horse candidate. I wouldn't mind that as a Pagan alternative with Blanco in CF.

    4. Thanks for the correction. Still, much of his ABs will be as a lefty and he will get powered down with AT&T (and to your point, other NL West parks).

      Winning seems to only kick in when a player is in his latter stages of his career and he hasn't won anything yet. And they do prefer to stay in-league, hence Torii signing quickly with Detroit, despite rumors that the Giants kicked his tires.

      Yeah, as long as Hairston is out of our hair, mostly out of the NL West, and also out of the NL, that works for me. If we happen to meet in the World Series, I will look at the bright side: we are in the World Series again! :^)

      Good call about Cody Ross. With teams more stats savvy today, they must see that all his hitting happened in Boston, not on the road. So with him looking for a multi-year deal again, he could be available in January again. Though, if Pagan falls through soon enough, Sabean might be able to talk Ross into coming to the Giants on a one year deal if nothing seems to be shaky from the other trees for him.

      I don't think we need a good player for the OF. At worse, we can shift Belt out there and I think he'll be good there, with Blanco in CF. Cody Ross is definitely doable for what we need, but there are a lot of spare outfielders out on the market, like Ichiro, Gomes (Giants fan, Bay Area lad), Reed Johnson looks like a good defensive LF, plus has an OK bat as well. I think Sabean most likely will go that route, in order to keep a starting corner OF position available for Peguero and Kieschnick to battle for.

  3. Shank, noted. And fair points, but I'd also say this: you don't build your team for the playoffs, you build it to win the division. Swisher instead of Blanco in LF would help us to that goal. Of course, everything is cost-dependent. But it wouldn't shock me if SabeySabes is in on Swish or maybe even Bourne -- assuming we don't get Oxy back.

    As for postseason stats -- I seem to remember a certain LF here who was awful until he wasn't. I don't put much stock in those stats.

    1. Fair point, but Swish is now through 11 post season series without much going on except them walks. Barry said enough is enough after 5.

      You absolutely build the team to win the NL West. But you also have to have an eye out for what works. As OGC preaches, pitching and defense. The hitting is nice, but not essential. I think Swisher is going to be a 1B much sooner than people realize. His defense was awful this last postseason.

      Bourne? Oh man, I hope not. I'd rather they cough up an overpay for Pagan. We don't need a pie thrower out there.

    2. I agree, if we are going to overpay anyone, I would rather overpay Pagan than Bourne, it would be for many less years and dollars.

  4. I agree with the pitching and defense philosophy, but where are you going to upgrade those in this market? He's an average corner OF, and capable of playing a decent LF at AT&T. I agree re: Bourne. I don't want to overpay a guy who will be 30 at the start of a multiyear deal and who relies on his legs to provide most of his value. Imagine his production if he lost a step. He'd be another Rowandesque albatross.

    I wouldn't be shocked if SabeySabes is stealthily in on Hamilton either.

    1. I doubt very much that Sabean is looking at Hamilton, he would cost too much, and we need to focus on keeping the money for signing Posey long-term first, then perhaps Lincecum and Sandoval.

      Moreover, Hamilton has already had two relapses in the past year regarding his addiction issues, the Giants should not want any part of that, can you imagine what it would do to a team if they hand over $100-200M to Hamilton and he succumbs in his first season to drink again and he's useless for the rest of the contract?

  5. All reasonable commentary.

    I do note that no one is talking about how important leadoff is to the Giants. A team with power like the Reds or Nationals can get away with semi-competent leadoff.

    The Giants, when Blanco/Pagan weren't hitting well, weren't scoring runs. Blanco's kryptonite has been revealed: just force him to hit the ball. Pagan, however, has shown that he can hang. Fully agree his price may be too high, but then again the price of having poor leadoff could well be a poorly performing Giants offense in 2012. None of the options noted above give me any confidence whatsoever at leadoff with the exception of Pagan. The kids are all massive crapshoots, Blanco - love him but he's got a lot to prove, and the other MI existing choices just aren't that good for leadoff (i.e. speed).


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