Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Mission Accomplished: Giants Sign Scutaro to 3 years, $20M

The  report I can find on this right now is Pavlovic's blog post and Baggarly's blurb which reports on a Ken Rosenthal tweet..  Not too much details, a reported three years for $20M for the Giants to keep Marco Scutaro.  Also, Baggarly tweeted that the Cards never went to three years for Scutaro, but apparently was offering 2 years in the $8M per range, which led the Giants to move to guarantee the third year, giving Scutaro an extra $4M for that third year over the Cards.

ogc thoughts

Mission Accomplished:  Giants wanted to sign Affledt, Pagan, and Scutaro, and they just did.  All the deals reflect the higher salaries being paid this off-season, which is most likely related to the $15-20M boost in revenues that they get from ESPN starting next season with their shiny new contract.

Yet still, the contracts were all relatively reasonable.  Affeldt got $6M per year, and given that League had already gotten $7M per year from LA, that was a fair price.  Pagan got $10M per year, which was the upper range of what I was hoping for (I was thinking $8-9M per, Randy Winn range, if I remember right), but many people were predicting 3 years at $10M, so 4 years at that rate is not outrageous.  And he doesn't even need to duplicate his 2012 season each season to pay off on the deal.  Plus, Victorino's deal for 3 years at $39M ($13M per) make the Giants deal look great, though I would note that one thing most people neglect to mention is that Victorino has many more years of good offensive production than Pagan, and that is the difference there (for Upton, it was his age and potential improvement).  And Scutaro, I thought, should get around the $6M per year that he got in his previous contract that he signed, given inflation and two more years on him, and he probably got $6M/$7M/$7M, which is close enough for me.  As Evans joked at one point, if he can survive that slide by Holliday and still play great baseball, he's going to be fine.

I see some people upset that Gregor Blanco is now the starting LF.  These are the people who are never satisfied unless every starter on the team is some sort of star player capable of great deeds.  Most lineups have a Blanco (actually, they have worse) somewhere in their lineup, and a Crawford, if not more.  These people never look at reality, at the actual teams making up the league and seeing what it takes to build an above average lineup.  And you don't need above average players at every position to do that, you need some really good players in the top half of the lineup - like Pagan, Sandoval, Posey, Pence, even Scutaro and Belt - because most teams cannot afford to have a better lineup than that, and if they do have it better, typically that means that they scrimped on their starting or relief pitching, and then the Giants got them where they want them.

Things left to do are few.  The Giants are interested in bringing back Theriot and I loved having him around too, he is a great backup in case either MI needs a rest or, god forbid, out for some reason.  Those complaining about Blanco don't realize that the Giants is looking for a right-handed complement to Blanco in the OF - ahem, Andres Torres is a free agent - and Nady wasn't so bad last season either.  Plus Peguerao was pretty interesting last season, great defense and speed, could be a Hanchez redux.  They are probably going to look into former starters on the fringe for AAA, just in case, though they did sign Hacker the other day and Heston, Kickham, and Surkamp should be in AAA as well (where's Petit?).  They are probably going to give some vet a minor league invite to compete for the bullpen, though if they prove good to form, they are hoping that Hembree steps up and take that last spot.  And, of course, Brian Wilson is still out there, hopefully he understands why the Giants did what they did and re-join us, this is the best place for someone special like him.  Otherwise, things are looking good for a defense of their championship in the 2013 season.

Go Giants!

16 comments:

  1. There are some other nice aspects of these deals for player development. By signing these three, we don't have to rush Hembree, Brown, or Panik now.

    Without Affeldt, we only have Romo and Casilla as viable closer/set-up type relievers. Though I have high hopes that Kontos can take such a role in 2013, as it often is, you don't really know until you try them out, especially for high pressure relievers. So Hembree most likely would have been up and competing hard for a spot in spring training if Affeldt was not signed. As it is, there is a low pressure middle innings relief spot open (basically Mota's spot), where he can possibly win and ease his way into the MLB, much like Kontos last season.

    That's one of Earl Weaver's rules for handling pitchers, he felt that MLB life (back then, mind you, 60's and 70's) was too much for a rookie to handle, so he ideally wanted to bring up the rook and use him in low pressure situations where he has a high probability of success, and give him a year to adjust to the MLB way of life.

    Pagan does the same for Brown, for there were not a lot of good options in CF in the free agent market - I think both Upton and Victorino were overpriced - and thus Brown, since he'll be in AAA for 2013, probably would have been given a good chance to win the CF job and, even if he loses CF to Blanco, he might show enough that he gets to start in LF, given his speed.

    I think Brown needs a full year in AAA. Only the top prospects (meaning top 20-30 overall) can come up with minimal playing time in AAA, most need that full season in AAA to adjust. Just look at him in Advanced A and AA. Unless he makes a huge breakthrough, he's going to run into rough times in AAA and he's going to need to figure it out, just like past seasons.

    People get frustrated because he's a college player, and he's not getting younger. Still, he's only going to be 24 next season and if he does well, he could be in the majors at 25 in 2014. There is no shame in that, Chase Utley, for example, didn't play his first full season until he was 26, and nobody held that against him. Ryan Howard too.

    Not that Brown can be as good, but he's not a top prospect, we should let him rise one level a year and be satisfied with that, and we don't need much from him for him to be of value for us, heck, Upton wasn't really that great a hitter the past couple of years and got all that money, Brown I think is capable of mid-700 OPS plus speed and defense.

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    1. Lastly, Scutaro should be good enough for the next season and a half (that's Bill James standard for projecting forward), maybe two, his bat and eye were great in 2012 at age 37. People like to quote his age but forget to mention that he led the majors in contact rate, and that is a skill that don't deteriorate greatly.

      Panik will only be in AA in 2013 and he struggle a bit in Advanced A before figuring it out. Again, like Brown, he's not a top prospect, so we should expect him to take a year at a time, so AAA in 2014, and somewhere in the 2014-15 period, he'll be ready to come up and take the starting 2B job. Those are Scutaro's last two seasons with us, and he's a similar type of hitter to Panik too, so I think he will be a great mentor for Panik.

      All in all, all three have been in pretty good health all of their career, excusing Affeldt's wacky injuries and Pagan's slack off in 2011.

      Pagan is the biggest worry due to it being so recent, but he does not seem to be the type of person to not learn from his mistakes, I think he truly believes that he is very lucky to be here and that he will work hard for his teammates, as he did in 2012. I do not think that he is a Huff-redux (looking back, the warning signs were there, the way he was in college, the way he has acted, if he had Burrell's confidence, he probably would have been a great player, and as it was, his talent allowed him to be a very good player).

      And to quote Evans exactly (Baggarly): “If he can survive Holliday at second, it gives me a lot of confidence he can survive into his late 30s,” Evans said, smiling.

      Plus, all three provide leadership to the team, are very public faces already. Here is another quote by Evans about Scuataro: “He played such a key role for us in the second half of the season, solidifying our lineup, helping to get runs across and driving them in,” Evans said. “But also, really, there’s his role as a leader and what he did in the clubhouse and what he did in the postseason. He helped us to take it home.”

      I think that is key for our younger Latin players, particularly since many of them are Venezuelan like Marco: Sandoval, Blanco, Sanchez, Mijares.

      Here is a supporting quote from Blanco, at his blog:

      "Scutaro has become a leader, too, even though he hasn’t been with the team very long. But he’s the oldest of the Venezuelans and has the most experience. Marco tries to help everybody. He knows I’ve been struggling at the plate, so every day he says to me, “You are a great player. We believe in you. Everybody in here believes in you.’’ He tells me to relax, to trust my hands and go with the pitch and hit the ball the other way. That’s what he does. And that’s the kind of player I am when I’m locked in. I’m patient at the plate like he is. I have quality at-bats. So he talks to me a lot about getting back into a good groove."

      Many people scoff about having veterans, but that was one of the major negatives that I believe Jack Clark said about his time with the Giants, that there were no veterans around to teach the young players how to be a professional. I think Scutaro, particularly because he took so long before becoming a starter, is an excellent veteran resource who can truly empathize with most players, unlike, say, Barry Bonds, who would just tell the young players, "you're not me, you don't understand." I believe in the positivity that Blanco noted Scutaro for, and I believe Pagan can be like that, and be an example to youngsters who happen to slack off, he can relate what he did in 2011 and try to get the player to go the positive route.

      Sandoval would be a good test case going forward, as hopefully both Scutaro and Pagan can tell him how important it is for him to get into shape and be that Game 1 presence for us in the lineup, day in, day out.

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  2. Nice use of Earl Weaver there OGC. I completely agree. (It would be fun to have more 3-run HRs as well, but hey, lets not get too greedy). There is no shame in having prospects that go 1 year at a time. We have been blessed with Posey and MadBum, as well as Timmy, moving very quick. The Giants have also been very impatient traditionally with their high level prospects. Most hitters of note in the past dozen years do not spend a full year in Fresno. I expect Brown to get a shot in camp, seasoning at AAA, and if his numbers are good, noise in June/July and definitely a cup of coffee in September. His hitting mechanics need further adjustment. Personally I am very high on him, but he is a cocky joker who needs to learn some more to utilize his natural ability (and strength).

    I love all 3 of these signings. Bobby Evans basically held the line on AAV, but conceded an extra year because of market demand. That is a great way to go. I'm usually a years not dollars guy, but you have to be flexible. If the players want the years, make a concession. Affeldt is closer insurance, a guy who can high-leverage pitch to both sides, and get you a ground ball or a strikeout, with the advantage of being lefty. Pagan is a slasher speed guy who is an obsessive trainer. He is a late bloomer, but looking at those last 4 years, the injury riddled Mets 2011 really stands out as the anomaly. And Scutaro is 37, its a risk, but I think its a calculated risk. He is the best contact hitter in baseball. I'd take top ten, but he is the best. With a short stroke, the bet that he will age well is a good one. When you look at the open market, its a no brainer, that place is deadsville. And frankly, it is for lefty relievers as well, and we got the best deal in the CF market. 3 big wins in my opinion.

    Interestingly, Baggs just tweeted we had a deal done with Ludwick that got tore up once Scutaro came back. As much as I think the budget should have a bit more flexibility, I do appreciate this move. First off, be decisive. The Giants have had their blunders, but the reputation of targeting their guys, making fair or even generous offers, and then moving on if the offer gets shopped too much... thats a good rep to have. I'm very impressed with Bobby Evans and fully expect him to take over after Sabean as a gentler better PR driven guy but schooled in the Giants way. And we definitely have our culture, which has good points and bad points. But many more good points than sabers or interwebz want to focus on.

    Very happy to just have to scope for a RH OF bat and a possible pen guy, even though we have some internal candidates as well. Great time to be a Giants fan.

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    1. Great comments, as usual. Totally agree. To expand on your point, I would point out that Bonds was a great contact guy (so was Williams) and they were able to continue to hit into their 40's.

      Thanks for sharing the Ludwick info, very interesting. I feel a little bad for Ludwick, that's no fun to have a done deal tore up like that. Given the Giants preference for ethics, I have to think that the deal was mostly done but still yet to be finalized, on both sides, before the backout.

      Still, it appears the Giants leveraged Ludwick to get Scutaro to finally select the Giants or be shut out of the team, so the MLBPA can consider it Karma for Greg Maddux leveraging the Giants to get his deal with Chicago, and don't forget Carlos Lee using us to up the Astros to his level and then even though the Giants were willing to go higher, he told the Giants not to bother.

      Yes, I think we'll be in good hands when Sabean do move on, and Bobby Evans appear to OK with staying around until that happens, unlike Colletti.

      I think the sabers just don't understand because Sabean's Way is to keep his kimono closed, and thus they have nothing to focus on, unlike Beane. And worse, Sabean has made disparaging comments previously about sabermetrics and Moneyball, a particular sacred cow for sabers.

      I think it does not help that BP has clearly pushed to get consulting jobs with MLB teams, and their being situated in the Bay Area, the Giants was an obvious choice. And if they sold themselves like their blurbs on their books, very cocky and aggressive, I know that type of presentation would turn Sabean cold and end badly for BP.

      I think that BP's objectivity is compromised by bad prior experiences with Sabean and led to their asking for him to be fired in the 2010 Annual. That they have not publicly admitted their mistake is a black mark on their record and, again, their objectivity.

      Yes, great time to be a Giants fan, has been for at least four seasons, if not five or six, if only the Naysayers would open their eyes.

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  3. I had said 2yrs/$16 million or Scutaro, and 3yrs/$36 million for Pagan. The actual deals were arguably more expensive: the same but an extra year at age 40 and 37 respectively for $4 million.

    These are good deals for winning now. The only surprise is that the Giants are willing to go to $140 million + payroll.

    C1ue

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    1. Arguably? Maybe so, but I think that's a huge quibbling. These deals are wins for the team given what the market just gave Upton and Victorino.

      Using WAR, basically Scutaro only needs to supply 2 WAR in his first two seasons and he's already covered the cost of this contract, leaving any contributions in his third year to be extra on top.

      Over the last 5 seasons, Scutaro has averaged 3.2 WAR per season, and produced 2.0 WAR last season.

      A key thing since he's batting 2nd is his OBP, and since he figured out hitting, he has a .349 OBP and over the last three seasons, .345 OBP, so it appears likely that he should be able to continue to produce at minimum in 2013, if not 2014.

      Pagan is the easier one to produce of the two, he just needs to produce 2 WAR per season, roughly, or 8 WAR in total. And if you include the probable 10% inflation on MLB salaries over those 4 years, that actually reduces it to 7 WAR (3.64 for Scutaro, FYI).

      Pagan produced 3.5 WAR on average in the past 4 seasons, at a 4.6 WAR 162 games rate. He could cover his contract in as little as two seasons, and should beat it soundly after three, leaving the four year as a bonus for whatever he can produce.

      Basically, we are not paying either to be stars for us. If we can get average type seasons out of them for the life of the contracts, that's a good deal right there for us, meaning that they are priced such that if they are below average for 1 or 2 seasons, as long as we get very good value in one or two seasons, the rest is really gravy.

      The payroll is not a surprise. The Giants spoke of signing both Pence and Melky long-term back when Pence was traded for, and even before Scutaro joined us, we all knew that 1) Theriot is not a long-term solution at 2B and 2) Panik will not be ready in 2013, so it would be logical to expect the Giants to sign someone in the $6M range, which all would have put us in the $140-145M range, as Melky probably would have gotten something in the Victorino/Upton range in salary.

      The surprise to me is that they pulled a done deal with Ludwick once Scutaro signed. I like Blanco but Ludwick is a pretty good bat (plus he's actually OK defensively in the corners), and I can't imagine that he's going to get that much given the small contract he got last season, probably in the range of Scutaro. That gives Bochy flexibility in going with power or speed in LF, depending on the pitcher and the team we are facing. Especially if it was only for one season, they should have gotten a boost in revenues from the playoffs plus $15-20M from the ESPN contract.

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    2. Understand your viewpoint as you've historically been a proponent of the WAR value.

      My view is that while Scutaro and Pagan will likely provide decent value for the first 2 years, the 3rd year for Scutaro and the 3rd/4th years for Pagan are highly risky.

      A 2/$16 deal for Scutaro is vastly different than a 3/$20 - the likelihood of meeting WAR value at age 40 for Scutaro is quite low indeed. According to this article:

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/12689

      only 83 players age 37 or above have had a season of 1.0 WAR or above, and only 24 of them were age 40 or above. Of the 24, if you remove the HOFers (Mays, Musial, Anson, Yasztrezemski, Cobb, Wagner, Henderson, etc) and the HOF worthy by stat (Rose), you've got exactly 1 name: Craig Biggio.

      The present Scutaro contract thinks it can add 3 more to the existing 83? I think this is risky to say the least. I like Scutaro, but Cap Anson he ain't.

      As for Pagan, speed is a big part of his game, and speed is precisely the quickest to decline due to age.

      Overall I don't fault the Giants for trying to Win Now, but to say these are good contracts from a WAR perspective is to overlook the likelihood that the back ends of these contracts are almost certainly going to suck.

      c1ue

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    3. Gotta disagree about your analysis there c1ue. Scutaro has to throw down 4 WAR over the life of the contract, Pagan double that at 8 WAR. Looking at their last 3-5 years, that just doesn't seem like a heavy burden. Using B/Rs #s, here is Scutaro from the past 5, starting with 2008 (when the A's let him go, much teeth knashing among their fanbase): 4.1, 5.2, 2.4, 2.6 and 1.9 net (2.1 with us, -.2 with the Rocks). Is it reasonable for him to put up 2.0, 1.5, 1.0? I think it is, but even if you throw out that last year as a total writeoff, 3.5 WAR is getting close.

      Pagan since he broke in with the Mets, 2009: 3.8, 5.1, 1.0, 4.0 with us. Assuming a 3.0, 2.5, 2.0, 1.5 gets us to 9.0. I think he will beat that by a significant margin actually.

      I like both these contracts. From the WAR perspective yep, and from the market perspective yep, and from the scouting perspective hell yep.

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    4. I think you're being highly optimistic in thinking that Scutaro and Pagan will both:

      a) Be able to perform to the WAR estimations you put up
      b) Will play enough to even get the chance to put up the WAR projections

      1 season each to meet projectios - very possible, even likely. 3 or 4 seasons - highly unlikely.

      This is why both of them wanted longer term contracts: they and their agents know full well the risks on the 3rd/Scutaro and 4th/Pagan year.

      Note both Scutaro and Pagan were basically offered what I had originally noted: $16M/2 (Scutaro) and $36m/3 (Pagan) - hence the contracts they signed are considered a net gain for both Scutaro and Pagan and not Giants management.

      Can it work out? Certainly. But the risks for the back end are all on the Giants side at this point.

      I don't fault the Giants for signing the deals - that's what you do when you're looking to Win Now.

      But I've yet to see anything to convince me that these are optimal for the Giants as a team going forward.

      c1ue

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  4. Boom. BA Executive of the Year, great article:

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/majors/awards/executive-of-the-year/2012/2614367.html

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  5. http://www.csnbayarea.com/baseball-san-francisco-giants/giants-talk/EXTRA-BAGGS-Dont-expect-return-of-Ross-t?blockID=810485&feedID=10850

    Wow, according to this report from Baggarly, Scutaro turned down a 2 year, $18M contract from the Cards. His agent basically told the Giants, give me a 3 year, $20M contract and Marco will sign with the Giants. And despite the better deal from the Cards, he accepted the deal from the Giants that he asked for.

    The contract is reportedly for $2M bonus, $6M per season, which is basically what he got in his prior free agent contract that he signed previously.

    Baggarly noted that bonuses are paid immediately so that the players can avoid some of the expected increase in taxes on the rich after the Fiscal Cliff negotiations most probably result in that.

    I also read somewhere that Pagan was offered a deal similar to Victorino's 3 year, $37.5M contract, so he too took less in order to stay with the Giants one more year, as he would only need to make $2.5M on his next contract to make up the difference.

    So apparently both players were not BSing the fans, they did want to return, and they accepted more years (hopefully with the Giants, I'm sure they were thinking) but less AAV in order to stay, giving the team a discount. Hopefully fans will remember this should either player ever have a down season with us.

    Also, another CSNBA report noted that Wilson's agent is shopping him to other teams but not the Giants.

    C'est la vie, if that is how he wants to play it, so be it. I will miss his play and his playfulness, but I would not have been happy if the Giants had offered him $6.8M to sit around much of the season, after he got $8.5M last season. And I will boo him heartily if he joins any NL West team, which given his spitefulness, seems likely if any show any interest.

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    1. I screwed up, victorino got $39M, my apologies.

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    2. Solid stuff. That plays to the fun in winning and the sell outs, electric crowd. Both hitters are built for the park - gap instead of power, use the whole field. With the Keppinger deal and the Victorino deal, I think the Giants are looking quite good now.

      I really like both players. I've been stomping for a while for the Giants to get them, its satisfying that they were retained, and they bent to the hometown discount a tad to boot.

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  6. I would love for the Giants to land Scott Hairston as the righty platoon for LF. He mashes lefties and generally kills the Giants.

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  7. Good stuff as usual, OGC. However, let's dispell the "hometown discount" myth --
    1. Scoots was offered 2/18 from the Cards, he signed for 3/20. He gained $2MM. There was no "discount" for the Giants there.
    2. Pagan was offered 3/36 from the Philth, he signed for 4/40. He gained $4MM. Again, no "discount."

    Simply put, they both signed for the most money, giving up the ability to hit free agency again in 2 or 3 years, respectively. I think we can all agree that this opportunity cost was worth quite a bit less than the extra $2MM and $4MM respectively.

    On another note, how about bringing Torres back on a small one year deal to platoon with Blanco in LF. His OPSs+ vs. LHP is 106.

    ReplyDelete

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