Thursday, December 13, 2012

Your 2013 Giants: Torres Returns Home for $2M, One Year

Reports on Torres returning:  Schulman was first, Pavlovic, Haft.  One year contract for $2M.  Snippet from Schulman:
Instead, manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday, Blanco and the switch-hitting Torres will compete for playing time in left field. Bochy said it will not necessarily be a left-right platoon, even though Torres hit much better against left-handers for the Mets in 2012.
The Giants looked into more seasoned right-handed-hitting outfielders such as Cody Ross, Reed Johnson and Scott Hairston, but they either were not willing to take a part-timer's salary or not what the Giants wanted defensively.
Torres, who turns 35 next month, is attractive because he can play all three outfield positions, including center if Pagan needs a day off or gets hurt.
Giants executive Bobby Evans said the team is not necessarily done shopping, as Sabean wants to keep looking for ways to improve the club and add depth. That includes the bullpen, which could gain former A's and Cubs right-hander Chad Gaudin, whom the Giants signed to a minor-league contract with a spring-training invitation. Gaudin turns 30 in March. He can start or relieve and could fill the Guillermo Mota swingman role.
Another interesting datapoint is that the Giants payroll is projected to reach $145M for the 2013 season, about $15M more than last season, as the team pushed to keep the team mostly together. 

Plus a good quote from Baer about the Giants strategy:

"Our strategy is just different, developing guys and bringing them through the system and sprinkling in free agents and trades when it makes sense," Giants President Larry Baer said Thursday. "We've done free agents before, but we're trying to do more of a homegrown thing."
Baer, when asked about another major acquisition this winter, said, "Anything is possible," but made it clear the Giants would not do so in reaction to the Dodgers.

"You can't let what any other team does alter your strategy. That would be a mistake," Baer said. "If we're going to look at the Dodgers spending all this money and say we're going to be free-agent-centric, we don't think that would be smart."
Andres was his usual bubbly self:
"I cannot stop laughing," Torres said, articulating his joy. "It's such a great feeling."
"I just want to be there," he said. "[Manager Bruce] Bochy knows that I'm going to be ready to play. They know what I'm about."


Torres, who became a free agent when the Mets declined to tender him a contract on Nov. 30, drew interest from a handful of teams.

"No disrespect to them, but I told my agents that I wanted to play for the Giants," said Torres, whose deal is worth a reported $2 million. "My heart was there. The Giants were the team that gave me an opportunity."
Pavlovic has a nice quote from Evans and thoughts on Belt:
President of baseball operations Bobby Evans said at the winter meetings that the Giants were hopeful to give some younger players a long look, so this could also open the door for the likes of Francisco Peguero or Roger Kieschnick to contribute at some point. We’re talking about a player that’s going to hit seventh or eighth in the lineup, so the Giants can afford to mix and match a little. I do also suspect that — despite what they’re saying now — the Giants will give Brandon Belt some time in left field next spring. If he turns into a consistent hitter, they’ll need to find a way to keep him in there on days when Buster Posey needs to play first base.
ogc thoughts
Welcome back, Mr. Torres!  At $2M and one year, he could make a good platoon with Blanco, as he hit well vs. LHP in 2012, though currently that is not the scenario the Giants are looking at.  Instead, as they have in seasons past, they have made an effort to leave at least one spot open for some of the young prospects to compete for playing time.  With much of the lineup looking set, LF look to be that position in 2013, though apparently the Giants have not shut the door quite yet on finding a Huff-like deal, like the one we got him on in January 2010 (my speculation on this, given how high payroll is already). 

As I have been suspecting in posts previously, Peguero and Kieschnick will get a chance to compete for playing time in the Giants outfield, at minimum as one of the bench players.  Given the grooming of Noonan for utility duty, I would not be surprised to see him playing LF during the spring, Arias too, as many people will be battling for probably 2-4 bench spots. 

And if there is no clear starter in LF, that would open up four spots for competition, 2-3 utility OF or perhaps a third utility MI.  I am assuming that Theriot will be resigned - he must be looking for a better team for starting playing time, else why hasn't he signed yet given his interest in returning and the Giants interest in signing him, but if he don't got a spot yet, have to think he'll be baaack, with the other two MIs being Arias and Noonan, should the Giants go there, as Blanco and Torres could share LF, Peguero or Kieschnick could be the third utility OF or since Belt can and should be playing some LF, they could go with Noonan instead.

For Belt will clearly be in the mix as well.  Posey being used at 1B in conjunction with giving Hanchez a good number of starts to develop him (as well as rest Posey), would obviously push Belt out of the starting lineup if he didn't play LF during those games.  Belt had a nice season, which is amazing given his struggles with avoiding the strikeout and with hitting homers, so I'm really looking forward to him putting together the lessons from the 2012 season with his latent power, and give us an even nicer season in 2013.  That would go a long way towards a repeat Division title.  And so I don't see Belt sitting down as much in 2013 as he did in 2012, and that means starting him in LF when Posey moves to 1B, instead of resting, when Hanchez starts at C. 

I assume Hanchez will again be the personal catcher with Zito again, plus take on Lincecum as well.  I was thinking about how much media questioning Posey had to put up with about him having to catch those pitchers in the playoffs, when I realized that perhaps Bochy was playing mind games with Buster.   He could have more forcefully let the media know in no uncertain terms how much he backs up his catcher, but maybe he did that in private so that the media questioning would put a fire under Posey to perform even better than he had before.  And looking at the World Series, if so, good plan.

Anyway, very happy that Torres is back, he's a good egg and hard worker, a good Giants.  Hope he finds again some of what he found in 2010, that would really give our team a boost that might put our offense over the edge and really kick butts regularly in 2013.  Even platooning with Blanco might do that, both are good at their respective platoon positions.  And both are excellent on defense, so I wonder if Pagan might find himself sitting sometimes late in the season, ostenibly for extra rest for the playoff contention, but also because Torres plays stellar defense in CF.

21 comments:

  1. The problem with a Blanco/Torres platoon in LF is that neither can hit RHP. Thus, Belt becomes a more attractive option there vs. righties. I think we're going to see a whole lot of struggling Blanco vs. RHP and then a switch up to a struggling Torres vs. RHP. Occasionally broken up by Belt. I wouldn't be surprised if Craw is hitting in the 7 slot by June. I'm not particularly concerned, as both Blanco and Torres are plus defenders and the 8 spot won't be needed to hit .275.

    I'm glad Andy Towers is back, but platooning a #4 and a #5 OF doesn't give you a #3. What do you make of the rumor that Ichiro turned down 2/15 from us to stay with the Yankass?

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    1. I think we dodged a bullet with Ichiro. His stats were not particularly good the past two seasons, except for his play for the Yankees. He would just be the new Huff deal.

      I think Blanco will be better for us in 2013, now that he knows he'll be in the mix for playing time and improved confidence given 2012. Motivation is powerful for getting players to take that extra step.

      He wasn't that bad against RHP, .242/.332/.335/.667, good OBP (average leadoff hitter in NL OBP was .319) poor SLG, but leadoff hitter isn't expected to drive in that many runs, and with his speed, his SB should help put him in scoring position to make up for that lack of power. And his numbers were even better for his career, .262/.358/.340/.698. And 2012 BABIP was .318 vs. career .324, adjusting his 2012 for that would push his numbers closer to career line.

      Similarly for Torres, he's been mostly good overall batting against LHP, as the other half of the platoon.

      There are a number of keys to such a move, as I was trying to point out in a comment on DrB regarding the Torres (sorry, you'll just have to go there and read for full comment:^). First is that all teams have a sunk position that won't add that much to the offense. That's OK. For example, if they end up batting 8th (some managers like to do that to put a leadoff type at the end of the lineup before the actual leadoff, to jumpstart the offense), the average 8th place hitter only hit .246/.311/.363/.674 in the NL. They would beat that, I think. Average 7th place hitter, where Blanco hit a lot: .251/.311/.402/.712. And in the lineup calculator, OBP is more important in producing runs than SLG in 7 and 8, particularly 8th, where each OBP point is worth 44% more runs than SLG. (OK, this wasn't covered in DrB...)

      Second, I really had my eyes opened by Kieschnick's first half production in 2012, and would like to see him get a chance to win a role in LF for 2013. I would put his chances to be low, since he strikes out so much, yet look at some of the D-backs hitters, horrible strikeout rates in the minors, continue in the majors, but hit worth their weights (like Torres in 2010).

      Thirdly, my eyes were opened by Peguero in September 2012. He stole so many bases plus played GREAT defense, albeit in small playing time, so that probably multiplied how good he actually is, but even if only a a tenth as good, that's still 2.0 WAR seasonal production, great value for a cheap asset.

      For both, they are reaching the point where we just have to let them get their opportunities in the majors and see what happens. Some lower level prospects bring what they had in the minors without a losing a step (Pablo and Hector) while others fall by the wayside (Linden, Niekro, Bowker, Frandsen, Burriss, etc...). Won't know until you put them in there.

      Fourth, Posey started 29 games at 1B in 2012. That's a lot of starts for Belt to lose, particularly since he made good progress in 2012, and especially because he actually hit well overall despite his struggles. I think the Giants liked the results of that for 2012 and will continue to do so because they want Posey stronger for the post-season. I think they will continue their first half, Hector catches Zito, second half, Hector catches Zito and Lincecum. So I see Belt getting to play LF for most of those Posey starts. A regular starter in LF would not be happy about signing with the Giants knowing that he will sit a lot of starts so that Belt could play.

      All in all, having Torres and Blanco as the sharing LF looks to work on many levels.

      That said, of course I wouldn't mind a full-time starter there who looks good to produce more. I'm just not willing to pay top dollar or years to get him (like Swisher or Ross is asking for). But as is, this works because we don't need the LF to hit that well, and both slots well for 7/8 spots.

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    2. I hate slotting by traditional typing. From slugging 1B to mashing corner OF to leadoff CF.

      Build your lineup by who is the best hitters, period, nobody tries to slot lineups by the position they play, so why do people insist on slotting positions by how "good" they are "suppose" to be.

      And good is relative. People are down on Blanco as a leadoff guy, but don't know that the average leadoff guy on had a .319 OBP. FYI, worse in lineup except for 7/8 in the NL in 2012. Though in 2011, it was 3rd best with .331 (behind 3/4). FYI, Blanco was equal to or better than that against RHP, both 2012 and career.

      Oh, and forgot to note above, with him having so little playing time, heck, even Torres too, in their careers, shouldn't really be using one season stats to argue for or against, should really be looking at career numbers for more accurate, though like any good data analyst, you adjust on the run, like that Torres of 2011/12 is nothing like the Torres of 2009/10, and probably should just look at his numbers for those two years for guidance for 2013.

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    3. Lastly, Belt will not be put in LF, nor Posey at 1B, based on which side the opposing pitcher throws, it will be based on whether it is Zito turn in the rotation, and probably Lincecum in the second half.

      But to your point, perhaps the Giants might decide that WHEN he's pushed from 1B, they might give him a rest vs. LHP and start Torres instead, so you do make a good point there.

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    4. Another thing is that at this point, it's not necessarily a platoon. There is a possibility that one of them will have an incredible spring (wouldn't be shocked to see kieschnick do that)and then take the starting position. Even if it does end up being Torres and Blanco, they may just go with whoever is the hotter hitter, and I actually heard somewhere that that is the current plan. I like that idea because they are both very streaky offensively.

      I don't see them in the leadoff spot next season. I would much rather have Pagan there full time. I think Pagan is one of those guys who can be useful in many places in the lineup, but Blanco's best asset offensively is not hitting leadoff. He batted .321 in the #7 spot. considering his speed and base stealing ability, he could get on base, and then steal second for whoever #8 is to try and hit him in. It's a much better job for him.

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    5. Sorry, I keep on saying platoon, because they are righty and lefy, but the Giants have already said that it is not a platoon. Plus, my comments clearly showed that a platoon is not the expected result, with Belt most probably getting playing time in LF, and the Giants likely giving either Peguero or Kieschnick opportunities there at some points during the season. And Bochy's general history, he rides the hot hand until it is pretty cold, then finds the next one.

      Sorry I threw in the leadoff numbers and muddied my point. What I was trying to illustrate there is that their numbers would be good enough for leadoff, not that I thought they were going to leadoff, though they should see some time there because Pagan will not be playing 162 games.

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  2. I don't see either leading off much -- if at all. As I stated upthread, if it's a Blanco/Torres platoon, it'll likely be a #8 slot. I'd expect Crawford to improve from last year and take the #7 slot. I reviewed their relative career splits and Blanco is 262/358/340 vs. RHP; Torres is 258/340/403 vs. LHP. I think that will be just fine from the 7/8 hole. So I guess a straight platoon would make good sense. Both are plus defenders and can cover CF to spell Pagan.

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    1. Yes, sorry for confusing people, only was trying to illustrate how good they both were in getting on base.

      That is great for 7/8, that was my point, again, sorry for mucking it up.

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  3. OGC - where do you get league average for each position data from? Maybe I'm just tired but I can't find it on espn or B/R.

    I think the LF hitting 7th or 8th with the purpose of being a pest, getting on base and seeing some pitches is just fine. Sure it'd be nice to have some 5-tool guy, but there really isn't anybody like that. Take the defense and the flexible nature of it, and run. I like leaving the spot open for Peggs and Kiesch if they can step up.

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  4. Top of each league on br has split link. Scroll down, not that far down, for position splits and lineup splits.

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  5. Cheers. So for NL, talking about our LF and CF situations, as well as our light hitting SS, we have the following league avg stats:

    Leadoff: 257/319/382
    Pagan beats that pretty handily in his career, as well as his what have you done lately. I especially like that the BA is much higher, as I value BA over the walk brigade, as long as its not a gigantic spread.

    7th spot: 251/311/402
    8th spot: 246/311/363
    Looks like we can meet that league average. We might be low on SLG but high on OBP, which is just fine, you want to hide your high OBP guy to try and turn the lineup to the top of the order. I think Craw can beat the 8th spot league avg by about 5-10%. Low standards here.

    LF: 265/329/434
    I'd rather have the BA over the OBP, but Blanco looks to lose on the BA and SLG and win on the OBP. I think its safe to say Torres is a wild card and I'm not wasting my time staring at the B/R page on him.

    SS: 259/313/387
    Just because I was already there. I think that's a good goal for Brandon Crawford to get to for next year. He ended 2012 with a 248/304/349. 10 points of BA/OBP and 40 points of SLG. You can do it Craw, baby steps.

    B/R had Craw as a 2.3 WAR player. 2.0 dWAR. On the accountant eyeshade (thanks Campanari!) view, he was worth over 10MM bucks. Love them draft picks. Not every guy has to turn into a 25 career WAR player to be useful. I'll take some guys with 10-15 WAR potential, thanks very much.

    Blanco was a 2.0 WAR player as well, in 141 games/453 PAs. 10MM more bucks scored for the good guy accountants. He put up "only" a 0.3 dWAR, I think B/R is selling him light on that one. 244/333/344. Its a compromise. But I sure do love them graceful outfielders who glide a little. Blanco has game.

    I think that's a big difference for me - I love defense, and I love pitching. The big offensive stats just don't get me all jazzed. So its hard sometimes to discuss defense for long without getting dinged as an armchair "mine eyyyes" type. The Giants fielded at the end of the year the best defensive team I've seen take the field for them in my years of watching. I loved it. And then they rampaged and took it all down. Loved that too.

    Looking good for next year, especially after looking at what is league average. I think fans expectations get out of wack, and I think mentalities take a while to adjust. We are in a defensive environment now. Like Sabean said at the trophy ceremony: Detroit didn't know what hit them. I fully expect nobody to really get the Giants for next year either. I actually hope this is the case, I love being the underdog. As nobody can really talk authoritatively about defense, and it can't lead the way HRs do, we should have a good shot at flying under the radar some more.

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    1. I think between the monster signings/budgets in LA/Anaheim, plus Detroit, plus the Yankees soap opera, the Giants are going to get the same amount of respect this year as they got starting 2011 - which is to say, none.

      c1ue

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    2. Yep. It always cracks me up how much HRs lead. I don't watch ESPN almost at all anymore, but when out and about, the Dingerz always get the story, even for games that had much better plays and storylines.

      The Nats, Reds, Cards, and yes the Doyers will be very tough next year. And the Phils might be aging, but they'll contend as well. As will the Braves. Should be a fun time. I think Giants fans, especially interwebz variety, have finally accepted that this is a competitive team and competent organization, and it's go time to defend.

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    3. I've always loved the hitters and still will, but now have a greater appreciation of pitching and fielding. It seems to be true of most sports that the defenders don't get as much love as the offensive guys.

      Thanks for running through the different situations like this, that's been my point for years in doing this type of analysis.

      I like being the underdog too, gives our players a bit of a chip on their shoulders. Yes, let's go defend.

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  6. Nice deal for Torres. Hard to say what we'll get there, but a lot of upside for not much risk.

    c1ue is right, doubt anyone will pay a lot of attention to the Giants in the media. But this is probably good - can't imagine the pressure on the Doogers and Mattingly. Nats probably too. But with LA I really believe, always, that you can't buy a pennant, that you inevitably end up with less than the sum of your parts. Whereas Bochy and Rags seem to get more than the sum of the parts regularly, and looking at the rundown here, I have to like the Giants' parts.

    I'm hoping that we will see an entire season of the media waiting for the d-gers to "make their move", much like the Angels last year. Then of course about august 15 their payroll will (finally) hamstring them.

    A bit off-topic, but has anyone ever done a study with the "buying a pennant" approach? Perhaps simply $$/win is the way to go, but through the aughts I was always struck by how the Yanquis seemed to build 120-win teams yet win 100. Just curious.

    marcos

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    1. I've not seen a study done regarding "buying a pennant" but I think the Yankees is a pretty good example of that strategy, given that they have bought championships since they bought Babe Ruth.

      Starting in 1921, when they got into their first World Series in their 21 season history, they had been in the World Series 29 times out of 44 seasons, to 1964, the last season prior to the draft that was intended to even out the talent across teams. They won 20 World Championships in that time.

      They were even more dominant just before, as they were in the World Series (the only way to be in the playoffs before divisional play) 15 of the prior 18 seasons, winning 10 times. It was just getting more lopsided in their favor.

      After the draft started in 1965, the Yankees did not even make the playoffs, even with divisional play, until 1976, after free agency allowed the Yankees to flex their monetary might once again, and they were in the playoffs 5 times in 6 seasons from 1976 to 1981, winning two championships on the back of Reggie before King George's ego pushed Reggie out, only to show who was actually the key to their string of playoffs. And it wasn't King George's money.

      Because that was the rub, you got to buy the right free agents, and from 1982 to 1994, the Yankees could not even reach the playoffs, though the strike clearly cost them in 1994.

      Starting in 1995 to 2012, the Yankees have made the playoffs in every season but one, and got into the World Series 7 times in 18 seasons. That would suggest that the Yankees can buy World Championships.

      But if you look at the core players spanning that period of excellence, you'll find that the key players during that period were Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Riviera, and they were all players that Sabean helped acquired for the Yankees during the 1990-1992 period where King George was suspended from the MLB for his felony act, which allowed his baseball operations to flex their knowledge and get good players.

      Since then, it has been a matter of them spending a lot of money on players who supplemented their core group of players, plus good finds like Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner, and good trades like Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher, but as the good core players aged, money couldn't buy championships easily.

      I would say that they bought their 2009 World Championship, but that is only one in the past 12 seasons, which is a lot of spending for the results. And they have clearly been a dominant team during that period, from 1997 to 2012, they won at least 94 games in 14 of 16 seasons (5+ in 13). Just not enough to win it all, the Red Sox, Giants and Cards have more World Championship (2) during that period.

      So I would say that you can buy the pennant sometimes, but most times you cannot (see Miami and Angels last season). And the Yankees 2009 championship was done with Jeter having his last hurrah, his 6.4 WAR that season was his high since 7.8 in 1999, and his next highest in that period was 5.4 in 2006, then 4.9 in 2001, then 4.4 in 2000. Posada also had his last great offensive season as well.

      They also acquired Teixeira, Sabathia, and Burnett that season. Teixeira had his normal season that year but has declined greatly since, and Burnett really fell into the dumper until the Yankees gave him away to the Pirates, where he had a nice rebound season.

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    2. That got me thinking of the Red Sox. They have been spenders too. But key players among the two championship teams included a lot of homegrown talents, Varitek, Youkilis, Nomar, Pedroia, Lester, Papelbon, and I would count Ortiz because he was nothing much (though good) before he was picked up by them, the Twins let him go for nothing, and he became great with them.

      They also did a lot of good trades and free agency signings, picking up Schilling, Pedro, Wakefield, Foulke, Millar, Mueller, Damon, Lowell, Manny, Drew.

      It is amazing to see that there is not a lot of similarities between the 2004 and 2007 championship teams, which might explain why they haven't come close since other than 2008, and been out of the playoffs for three straight seasons. Only Manny, Varitek, Ortiz, Schilling, and Wakefield repeats and all were already old then, and either retired or nearly so now.

      So one could say that they bought these, but there is a nice mix of homegrown plus smart trades plus smart free agency pickups, that clouds that characterization enough that, particularly given how poorly they have done in the last three seasons, I would say that while their spending did help them get those championships, without good homegrown talents (which money also helped them retain for the long term, I concede), they were not able to win any more championships.

      Since they have just experienced their first losing season in 14 seasons, I would define them as being in the rebuilding phase of an MLB Franchise. By trading away A-Gon, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett, one would think so.

      But they did sign Shane Victorino to a relatively big contract, 3 years at $39M, so they are not going whole hog into the rebuilding mode, much like the Giants didn't stop signing big free agents once they started losing, picking up guys like Zito and Rowand.

      Then again, they are only one year removed from a 90 win season, so perhaps they might still have the talent to compete. But with Orioles surprising and Blue Jays pushing hard forward, along with the Rays and Yankees continued goodness, the Red Sox has a lot more competition than they did in 2011 or 2010 even.

      At minimum, their championships did not feel like a buy, like the Yankees in 2009, buying Teixeira, CC, and Burnett.

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  7. And boom goes the reclamation project. Reading more about Javier Herrera gets me jazzed. He's a 5 tool talent who is playing down in the VWL for the Tiborones, same as Gregor last year, former top prospect for the A's who got derailed by TJ, hamstring injuries and a wrist issue that got him cut finally. He's a former BA top 100, 2 years. This is the guy John Shea was hinting at on twitter a couple weeks ago.

    So we have Herrera lurking, Frankie Peggs/Roger K/Gary Brown competing and Blanco and Torres. Sounds good to me. The emphasis is speed and defense first, lets see how these bats go. I imagine Herrera will have a ST invite and then will go toil at Fresno. He was a CF with Oakland BTW.

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    1. I would suggest caution regarding Herrera, particularly all the Blanco II talk (or really, Torres III).

      As I noted on DrB, Blanco is much different from Herrera, he actually has been a good player in the majors, particularly OBP, his only issue has been that nobody believed enough to give him a full-ish season until the Giants. Such a season as his 2012 was easily predictable, the question is why didn't anybody in the MLB see the same and want him? And I think he can get better with regular starts and more experience.

      Herrera, however, has not see a week in AAA, let alone a day in the majors. He has had two major injuries, keeping him out of professional baseball two whole seasons, 2006 and 2011, the first time for TJS. His great stat lines went away with his promotion to Advanced A, and he has never had an outstanding season since 2005 offensively, in A-ball. He has also had recurring hamstring problems as well, and a PED strike against him already. Plus he has very poor contact skills, he just can't avoid the strikeouts, even though he was playing in an Independent League in 2012, though at least he raked in the independent league. And he's 28 for next season, old for having never made the majors, ever.

      BA's last profile of him in 2006 noted that he was a bit lazy in recovering from his TJS and a bit lackadaisical on the field, lacking emotion.

      Maybe he's finally matured and will pick it up. He better, this is probably his last real chance to make the majors.

      But I would not hang even Blanco as a comparison point, Torres is the more apt one, as neither had done well in the upper levels but Torres at least showed enough talent that he got extension exposure in the majors before the Giants.

      Javier did well in Independent League last season, but he was 27 YO facing pitching mostly in the 24-26 age range, so he got experience on the pitchers there. Yet, he still struck out a lot, only a 76% contact rate, and didn't take a lot of walks either. So he was 8th in OPS for the league, despite being one of the older players around. And despite being known for some speed, he only had 7 SB in 8 attempts in 2012. One of his teammates had 71 SB in 96 attempts.

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    2. Looking at the leader board, I think more interesting prospects would be Jason Taylor and Abel Nieves. Relatively good contact rates, great BB/K ratio, Taylor can steal some bases plus has power, and he's only 24 YO. He had a nice 2008 season, and was a second round draft pick of the Royals in 2006, so there is some pedigree there, but for some reason KC and the majors soured on him during his 2009 season and he has basically been in the Independent League from 2010 to 2012, so his good stats probably comes from knowing the league and having a comfort level there now. And it is not a hitters league, .255/.338/.379/.716 is the average there (he hit .290/.418/.477/.894).

      Another interesting name is Joash Brodin, 25 YO, hit .370/.446/.592/1.039, high for the league, 31 BB vs. 28 K's, 88% contact rate. Though he was also with another Independent team (Atlantic League vs. Frontier League) and he hit poorly there.

      But he's probably more an example of why teams don't pick up a lot of Independent League players. Never drafted. Yet comes into the league at 22 YO and killed there, .330/.404/.534/.938. Yet not one team picked him up. He has drifted from one team to another, hitting well for the league, but never getting a chance.

      So as nice as those numbers are, there must be a reason teams haven't given these players much of a look, despite good to outstanding numbers there.

      Looking back a couple of years to 2010, Brian Barton was an interesting prospect back a number of years, in the Indian's chain, #86 for the 2007 season, but flamed out in AAA, could never break .800 OPS in a season, but went to the Atlantic Independent League and he MASHED there, over 1.000 OPS, and continued to hit over .800 OPS since, with a short try in Reds farm, where he failed miserably (.128/.208/.255/.463, 16 K's in 47 AB, only 4 BB, 1 HR).

      All these are cautionary tales in setting expectations regarding Herrera. Hopefully the Giants saw something improve in the later half of 2012 that wasn't evident to others, like with Torres, and he can rise to his former talent level.

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    3. Good cautioning. He's 215 on a 5'10 frame, he's not a base stealer anymore. I have been favoring contact rates over all else (maybe a bad idea, but its what I've been into lately), so I see those K's as a big worry. I didn't look at the independent league stats, thanks for the analysis. I think for a MLB team to grab somebody there has to be some tool that is being demonstrated, they won't be looking at the stats in the independent league. I would venture the Giants are looking at his power and defensive presence.

      They may have been talking to him while watching him play in the VWL. That's how they rolled with Blanco. He has demonstrated power, 7 HRs already. But Blanco himself demonstrated power (mostly after signing with the Giants). I think the VWL is a mixed bag, there are a lot of decent players, ex-major leaguers, journeymen. Hell, Darren Ford is down there. I'd call it Double A equivalent.

      But for the specific roll the Giants are looking for, I think it might break like this: they want good defense. One way to get that is go after CF types, or ex-CF types. They can cover the corners pretty nicely that way. LF especially if you don't want to worry about the throwing arm strength. Then you're looking for a RH batter, because you need to slot in with Blanco. That requirement effectively ended negotiations with Ross, Ludwick, etc because what established major leaguer wants the bad end of a platoon. Now, Bochy don't really want to platoon, he favors hot hand. But I only half buy that. Bochy loves to play lefty-righty games, if there is no clear prove out guy. So that's what I think the Giants see: Take another chance on the VZ, right age profile, right ex-prospect with skills, right side batter. Sure there are the PED, TJ, lazy warts, but that is the beauty of it - if those prove to be the case, he doesn't budge off of AAA.

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