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.
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.