Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tanaka Blast: NPB and MLB

Oh, how the worm turns.  After all the twists and turns with the potential posting of Masahiro Tanaka, the agreement had finally been settled - $20M max, if multiple max bids, then all can negotiate but only winner pays, else high bid gets to solely negotiate - and his Japanese team, after intimating that they might not post him and instead give him an $8M contract, instead posted him.  I think teams have about a month to get their bid in.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Your 2014 Giants: Opening Two 40-man Roster Spots

In order to open a spot for Mike Morse, the Giants end up possibly losing two players.  As reported by the usual suspects, the Giants worked on a deal to sell Brett Pill to a Korean team, but when the papers went through league official channels and Morse needed to be added, the Giants DFAed Eric Surkamp to put Morse on.  Pill's sale - pending his negotiating a salary with the new club, apparently the expectation is that he'll get $1M or so, so the talk is that if this falls through, there are other Korean and Japanese clubs interested - will then open up a spot on the 40-man,  and that appears to have happened.

ogc thoughts

It is a bit of a risk to expose Surkamp this way, but, as reported by one writer, odds are that other teams are at their 40-man max like the Giants and won't claim him.  I would say that this is due to the Rule 5 Draft pushing teams to roster players they don't want to lose.  Still, if some team likes Surkamp more than one of their 40, they will claim him.

If unclaimed, it is reported that since this is his first one, the Giants can re-assign him to Fresno and hold him there.   Should he be placed on the 40 again and DFAed again, then should he be unclaimed again, he could decline assignment and declare himself a free agent.

I like what Surkamp did previously and what he has done in his recovery from his TJS, but if we lose him, se la vie.  I have reached the point that I trust the Giants brain trust to make the call on a player and what they think is right.

Sabean and gang has been extraordinarily good at not missing much when trading away players or just plain letting them go, and especially at keeping around the interesting ones who might be good ones, like Cain, Lincecum, Sandoval, Posey, Bumgarner, Belt and Crawford.  Who have gotten away?  Foulke, Howry, Liriano but he caused the Twins to waste Mauer's and Morneau's peak seasons, maybe Villanueva and Correia, and Wheeler is a ticking time bomb.  That's minor compared to what we have gotten in trade:  Schmidt, Snow, Burke, Livan, Nen, Winn, Pence, Scutaro, among others.

If Surkamp moves on and prove the Giants wrong, that's what happens with calculated risks, sometimes they backfire.  Fans get mad at mistakes, but I feel that any GM who does not skate on the edge isn't doing everything he can to get us to the promised land ... again, for the third time, one must also remember.

Fans should want their GM to take some risks, to push the envelope some, and pick up some big gains in the process.  Like, though they had a full rotation already, had Tanaka been available, maybe they go ahead and bid for him and maybe win him, then figure out what to do with six starters (apparently Tanaka's team isn't happy that the new posting system limits them to $20M posting fee, and thus are keeping him for one more season - they control him for two more - for $8M and probably will post him next off-season; which is perfect for us, as we'll have a better idea of where Lincecum, Hudson, and Vogelsong are with their major league careers by next off-season, and perhaps be very interested in entering the contest for his services).

But I think I can say pretty confidently that should we lose him, he won't go on and be a Johan Santana who moves on to become an ace.  That rarely happens period, and hasn't happened to the Giants so far, though Liriano came close and Wheeler is still out there.  And his stats, while nice in the minors, wasn't overwhelming either, like Lincecum's or Bumgarner's were.   But you never know, hence the term "calculated risk".  It is unlikely he comes back to hurt us, but that risk is there.

Meanwhile, it looks like Pill is signing with a Korean team and that will open up one 40-man roster spot for the Giants.  Now, if another team comes into the situation where they need to DFA someone they otherwise might have kept, that is, take their calculated risk, the Giants are in position now to grab a flier, like they did with Rosario last season.  He did OK but not that great, and while he'll be competing for a spot, I don't see him winning a spot, not with Hembree and Machi around.  But that's baseball too, that's why you play the games, because you never know.

In other news, the Giants appeared to have added a number of players, as reported by Pavlovic:
  • First, the Giants (I read this somewhere else previously) signed former A's relief pitcher, Andrew Carignan, whose stats looked nice.  Could be a nice reclamation project, not sure why the A's let him go, maybe he could be another Casilla for us.
  • Also, BA announced the Giants signed Adam Refer and Casey Weathers.   The Giants rep for being Pitcher Whisperers appears to be still going strong, the former did well with flaws (walks) and the latter was a high draft pick who has struggled (like Blanco and Arias, who were top prospects once), and the Giants picked up both.
  • And a Giants minor leaguer playing in winter league tweeted that a teammate, Mario Lisson, signed with the team.  He played a number of positions, but apparently 3B is his regular position.
Carignan appears to be another Hunter Strickland find.  He was out for all of 2013, for TJS, and just like Hunter, picked him up the season he missed the full season recovering from that surgery.  The twist here is that he also had shoulder surgery as well, that is why he was out for all of 2013, even though he was TJS operated in mid-2012, like Surkamp was.  But you look at his stats, and if he is anywhere near what he was doing before in AAA, he could be a good reliever at the major league level. And the Giants reviewed all of his medical files and still signed him.  So good luck to him.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Your 2014 Giants: Mike Morse Signed to Play LF

As reported by the usual suspects, Mike Morse has been signed by the Giants.  I've seen one report for $5M plus incentives, another for $6M.  He has been named the starting LF, apparently that had to be promised to him in order to get him to ignore a larger money deal with Astros.

He had a down season in 2013 after a strong three years 2010-2012, and thus the worries, plus he has missed a lot of games due to health issues, only putting in one season where he played most of the games, in 2011.

ogc thoughts

Some are complaining that he's not much of an improvement over Blanco, that their WAR production is similar.  Signing a free agent is not always about improving on what you got already. In this case, the Giants have almost zero depth in the OF, with Perez, Kieschnick, and Brown as the most likely call-ups, and none of them looking particularly good as a starter. By getting a player like Morse, now they have better coverage should Pagan (or Morse) be felled by injury, with Blanco taking over in that case. Last season, instead, Torres came in and sucked.  I think that is a major reason for the signing, providing additional depth.

In any case, since there is no agreement on which defensive metric is the best one or even the correct one, while I would agree that comparing players as to who is better is fine, to try to measure exactly who is better and calculating a WAR to compare is equivalent to the old-timers who still love to use BA to compare hitters.  That degree of lack of alignment to true value makes it hard to say anything definitive in either case.

And there is an improvement over Blanco in that Morse has amazingly even splits versus LHP and RHP, whereas Blanco is clearly a platoon player, unable to figure out LHP yet.  People forget how much platoon players cost your lineup when they are in there and sucking badly. Morse is someone who can hit either pitcher similarly well.  On top of that, he has actually hit better on the road than at home, suggesting that his numbers have been suppressed by his home park (though with AT&T, he'll probably be suppressed again)

In addition, the Giants seem to have some success working with guys who have historically been poor defenders in the OF and getting some improvement. Burrell and Huff playing much better than expected in the OF and in fact turned in positive WAR, a total 180 degree turn. I assume they hope to do the same with Morse, which would improve on his WAR/600 greatly if, say, they can turn a strongly negative player to positive, as they did with those two, until health affected both. I think Pence too had a turnaround as well, at least in UZR.  

Furthermore, he also can get some help out in LF.  Pagan is pretty speedy and could shade towards LF to help Morse out. And Blanco can and probably will come in the late innings and help reduce that negative fielding issue, Bochy has done that before in the past.

Also, Morse was once athletic enough that his team put him at SS, roughly 50 games. He is much older now and is a huge guy, but he's also never really had that much experience with playing LF, and as they say, practice makes perfect. Maybe the Giants puts him through a lot of extra drills in spring training to prepare him better to play LF than the Nats did. Again, they have had success turning water buffaloes into good fielders in the OF.

Depth is also important should the Giants make it into the World Series again.  NL teams normally are at a disadvantage with the DH in AL home parks.  But as long as Morse is healthy and productive in the fall, recovering from whatever injuries he may have during the season, Blanco can start in LF and he could be the DH, neutralizing the AL advantage for a good part.

Lastly, for $5M, they might pick up 20-30 homers to their lineup.  Plus, at $5M, you expect some warts to come with the player, it is a high risk, high reward type of situation.  Yes, his defense and chronic healthy issues are things to worry about, but there are positives as well in his power and resultant high OPS.

It's not like I'm in love with the move, but I see the positives of the move for the Giants, and there are areas where they can help tilt the balance towards the Giants favor. Unlike many others, I was OK with Blanco/Perez in LF, but improving our OF depth helps mitigate the risks of either an injury or poor performance by one of the outfielders, plus Morse could man 1B should anything happens to Belt for some reason (hey, weirder things can happen, see Kendry Morales).  Yes, he might get injured, but if they can keep him on the field, imagine him repeating 2011 with better fielding due to the Giants defensive magic.  Overall, I think it improves the Giants and helps move the bar towards the Giants making the playoffs again.
That solidifies the bench further.  Now it's Hanchez, Arias, Abreu/Adrianza, and Blanco, leaving one spot open for Juan Perez, Brett Pill, and Kieschnick to battle for, plus any minor league invites that goes out.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: The Best Minor League Rotation: San Jose

I was inspired by Shankbone's post on the rotation.  Plus, there were great quotes on some of them in a recent Sabean interview (Pavlovic).

Mostly, BA, in their round up on each of the minor leagues for 2013, had all five members of the San Jose rotation in their Top 20 ranking of prospects in the California League (here, scroll down to Cal League).   Here were their ranking:

  • #3:  Crick
  • #6:  Escobar
  • #10:  Mejia
  • #15:  Blach
  • #20:  Blackburn

No other team had their entire rotation in their league's Top 20 ranking, though the Blue Jays came close in the rookie Appalachian League with four pitchers, but their top guy was 6th and I'm not sure if any were relievers.  Diamondbacks had three pitchers in the Northwest League.  Padres had three in the Midwest League.  Marlins had three in Florida State League.  Padres had three in Texas League.

Other Giants making a league's Top 20 list include:

  • #2:  Arroyo (Arizona Rookie League)
  • #14:  Mella (Arizona Rookie League)
  • #18:  Jones (Arizona Rookie League)
  • #8:  Chase Johnson (Northwest League)

On top of that, these guys dominated the BA Giants Top 10 ranking as well:

  • #1:  Crick
  • #2:  Escobar
  • #4:  Mejia
  • #8:  Blach
  • #10:  Blackburn

Crick was rated with both the best fastball and best curveball, showing how advanced he is.  Clayton Blackburn had the best Changeup.  Ty Blach had the best control.  (and I would note that Derek Law had the best slider; plus FYI, Brown was considered the best athlete, Adrianza the best defensive infielder).

Here is the Giants entire Top 10 prospect list for 2014:




  • #1:  Kyle Crick (best fastball and curve)
  • #2:  Edwin Escobar
  • #3:  Chris Stratton
  • #4:  Adalberto Mejia
  • #5:  Mac Williamson
  • #6:  Christian Arroyo (best hitter for average)
  • #7:  Heath Hembree
  • #8:  Ty Blach (best control)
  • #9:  Joe Panik (best strike-zone discipline)
  • #10:  Clayton Blackburn (best changeup)
Stratton was surprisingly high on the list at #3.  Apparently his scouted talents are still highly ranked and his struggles there were written down due to his recovery from his concussion in 2012 and his learning curve related to the work the Giants were doing with him with his mechanics.  Given Panik's struggles, I was surprised to see him still above Blackburn, who I highly rate, but perhaps that is because the scout's view of Blackburn is not very positive, many think of him as a back of rotation starter, whereas I think he's at least a middle rotation guy, if not higher.

Here are the Sabean quotes from Pavlovic:
Edwin Escobar (Sabean said he’s likely headed for Triple-A): “Escobar has been asked about quite a bit, which is good. He’s right on schedule to take the next step and have a baseline of innings for being called up, or if he’s not called up he’ll have 185-plus innings at the end of next year. He’s a strike-thrower. He’s very aggressive in the zone.”
Kyle Crick: “Crick kind of had a chopped up season. Whether it’s him or any prospect or almost any pitcher in that (fall) league, sometimes the stat line doesn’t tell you the best story. He had real good, inconsistent stuff. The power to his stuff was impressive.”
Adalberto Mejia: “It’s just about overall maturation. He’s a big-bodied guy who is still learning his delivery, balance in his delivery.”
Plus a couple more on other prospects, since Sabes noted it:  
Derek Law: “Obviously was dominant and didn’t give up a run (in the AFL) and it really turned our heads because it by and large is a hitters’ league … I’m really interested to see what he does against Major League hitters in spring training. He’s got a breaking ball, being that hard overhand curveball that you don’t see. The action is almost like a splitter.”
Andrew Susac: “I think we all agree that he’s got a chance to be a frontline catcher. He had a real good fall league. He’s got to clean up some things, concentration behind the plate from pitch to pitch. He needs to work on his shifting and his blocking but that’s true for any catcher as they go through the minor leagues.”

ogc thoughts

So my title lied, not just about the best minor league rotation, but other minor league info as well.

Wow, I never looked before for this, only a team's fan would notice, but that has to be a pretty rare thing to happen, to have 5 of your top prospect pitchers to not only be in the same league, but also rank among the best in the league that same season.  Blackburn just made it in at 20th, and I think that he's really talented and was hurt by his poor showing in Stockton (3 horrific starts there; his numbers otherwise were in line with his 2012 stats in Augusta adjusted for a hitter's league).

Crick was in BA's Top 100 last season, if I recall right, so I expect him to stay in it for 2014.  I wonder if Escobar will get into the ranking as well.  I don't think any other prospect will make it on for 2014.

Nice comments from Sabean on a number of prospects.  He expounds a little more about why the Giants like Escobar, though not a lot.  Same for Crick and Mejia.  Funny that Law was rated with the best slider by BA, and yet Sabean points out his "hard overhand curveball that you don't see.  The action is almost like a splitter."  Biggest bit of info was his thoughts on Susac:  "I think we all agree that he's got a chance to be a frontline catcher."  

Plus the Pavlovic blog also noted this on Hanchez:  "People look at him as a potential frontline catcher."  

As much as the Giants made a point that Posey is their catcher, I have to hope that once Susac or Hanchez show enough to be a frontline catcher, the Giants move Posey to another position (hopefully 3B, pushing Sandoval to 1B and Belt to LF), with the duo being co-starters.  It makes no sense to keep Posey there long term once there proves to be a viable starting catcher, the wear and tear on his body is tremendous, and the nicks and pains of the catching position can only hurt his ability to stay consistent offensively, where his value is most prominent, particularly since he's been mostly just average defensively as a catcher since coming back from his ankle injury.

I understand needing to make that message known today, in support of arguably their biggest star player, but in the best interests of the long-term success of the team, he needs to move off the position within the next 3 seasons, before his 30 YO season (he's 27, 28, 29 next three).   That fits time wise with Susac and Hanchez, they probably won't be ready until 2015 at the earliest, but if continue to develop, should be ready by 2016.   With the hints that Sandoval might be extended, that move would cause a three player shuffle, but Posey can't hit like he can and earn the money on the back end of the deal if he's crippled playing catcher.

Good Timing:  Need to Replace Pitching

Something I discussed, I think, on Shankbone's, is the Giants need to replace pitchers in the pitching staff over the next 2-3 years.   Here are the guys 30 and over right now:

  • Lincecum (30 YO season in 2014)
  • Cain (30 YO in 2015)
  • Vogelsong (36 YO)
  • Hudson (38 YO)
  • Romo (31 YO)
  • Affeldt (35 YO)
  • Kontos (30 YO in 2015)
  • Casilla (33 YO)
  • Lopez (36 YO)
  • Machi (32 YO)
  • Petit (30 YO in 2015)

That's 11 pitchers who could be in the pitching staff in 2014 season, out of 12 on the 25-man roster, with Bumgarner the only youngster among the bunch.

Luckily, they should not all break down and leave the team at the same time, some can and will last into their late 30's.  But even if just half of them need replacement, that is 5-6 pitchers needed at the major league level.  So while we should count our lucky stars that we have so many young pitching prospects rising up quickly, I must remind all of us of the Big 3 we were counting at about 10 years ago, in Foppert, Ainsworth, Williams.  Then there was Lowry as well.  So we might need each and every one of them to refill our pitching staff over the next few years, leaving no surplus to trade off.  Just keep that in mind when dreaming of trades.



Monday, December 02, 2013

Your 2014 Giants: Vogelsong Signs for one year, $5M plus incentives

According to reports (for example, Schulman), Vogelsong will be signing for $5M plus incentives that could bring him above $6.5M.  That's on top of the $300K he got in the buyout of the team option (which was for $6.5M) in his prior contract.  It's been noted that the Giants saves $1.2M from the prior team option that they could have exercised instead of the buyout.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

2013 Hot Stove: Sabean Presser After Hudson Signing

This is pretty late, but wanted to get it out, now that I'm free to do it.  The below is the transcript of sections of the Sabean press conference after the Hudson signing (courtesy of Tim K), with my thoughts included, and if you want to cut to the chase, I have a summary at the end:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Your 2014 Giants: Javier Lopez Re-signed to three-year $13M Contract

As reported by all the usual suspects (here is the Haft analysis, for example), Javier Lopez signed a three-year $13M contract with the Giants and it just became official yesterday, after he had his physical.  To get him onto the 40-man roster, which was filled up by the recent promotion of minor leaguers ahead of the Rule 5 Draft, the Giants outrighted Jose Mijares to AAA, who, after clearing waivers (i.e. no team wanted to take him onto their 40 man roster, most likely because they would have to go into arbitration with him), elected for free agency instead of AAA, probably in hopes of finding a major league roster at a lower (but still higher than minor league pay) price point.  He was already being rumored to be a non-tender candidate (MLBTR had him pegged at $2.1M via arbitration)

Lopez was swayed by Sabean stating that the Giants wanted him back last season, apparently on more than one occasion.  It was "a big deal" to Lopez, as he had never had a GM do that before.  However, not swayed enough to sign before becoming a free agent, and it was reported that he had interest from up to 10 teams.  The biggest competition for his services had been reported to be the Nationals, because he grew up in the DC area and still have family and friend there who were hoping he would sign there.  However, he noted that he wants "to finish up as a Giant and that was ultimately a better place for me at this time."

ogc thoughts

About time, I was getting a little worried that the Nats might sway him, even though reporters noted that he would probably bring any deal to the Giants before moving on.  That is a great contract, it covers his 36, 37, and 38 YO seasons and as a LOOGY, he don't get used much, so his arm is still relatively unused, plus, in general, LHP seem to have longer careers.  It is also great as it worked out to $4.3M per season, and I and many others thought that he would end up with $6M per season.  And he just had his best season ever, so even if he declined some, he would still be great.  I'm very happy with this signing.

Looking at his stats, I noticed a very interesting anomaly, which speaks to the Giants magic with pitchers.  At the time he was acquired, his K/9 was 5.5 K/9 and BB/9 was 4.2, for a 1.33 K/BB and while he was pitching OK for Pittsburgh before he was traded to us, it was around his career numbers, 5.1 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9, 1.22 K/BB, though lower, as he had his worse season ever in 2009, where he was totally lost (6.9 BB/9!).  Here is his Giants career numbers:  7.4 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 2.24 K/BB, all very good numbers and a stark contrast with his career numbers before.  Before, 25% of inherited runners scored under his watch, with the Giants 12%.  And he had his best season ever in this too, with only 11% scoring, low before Giants was in 2004 with 13% and he had 19% in 2003, but from 2005 to 2010, before we got him, he had a 30% inherited runners scoring on him (for comparison, in 2013, the Giants overall had 29% - and that is including his amazing numbers, and the league average was 27%).  Now you see why the Giants had to get him back.

Relievers are not Fungible

And, of course, the sabers are probably laughing at this deal right now.  Many believe that relievers are fungible and easily replaceable and thus money should be spent elsewhere.   The A's epitomizes this concept with Beane getting rid of his closers like a fantasy baseball team, picking up good assets in return.  There is an article out there pointing out how easily teams could replace their closer, that having an experienced closer is not that valuable, since these teams could replace their prior, failing, closer so easily.

The problem, for me, is that this is not true.  If it was, we would not have gone through the Benitez Experience and the aftermath of that.  If Nen's production was easy to replace, then why wasn't the transition smoother, it took years before we got Wilson as a true valid replacement of Nen.  And for all you Sabean Naysayers, it is not just the Giants having this problem, other teams do too, plus the Giants history with the bullpen is pretty good overall, we have usually had a strong bullpen throughout the Sabean era, as well as picking up good relievers that others discarded, like Casilla and Eyre.

And just because you have a closer does not mean that he will come through for you when the chips are down in the playoffs.  You may be able to easily replace a closer, but none of the analysis I've ever seen on this subject takes into account the quality of the replacement.  Saves are always going to go to someone, and even the worse teams in the league will have a guy saving 30 games, just because someone has to get that opportunity.

Put another way, if finding good relievers is so easy and cheap, then why do so many clubs have problems with their bullpen?  Teams know their talent, studies have shown this, so then it would be an easy matter of dumping the pitchers who are not good and inserting in the good relievers that you can find so easily and cheaply.  By this logic then, every team should be able to have a bullpen group that is incredibly good.  The whole house of cards that sabers have built on their relievers are fungible concept falls apart given how hard it is to find good relievers, let alone good closers.

The Giants have had a great luxury over the past few years.  They have had at least three guys capable of closing for them:  Romo, Casilla, and Affeldt, plus Wilson previously.  If Hembree makes the team, we could be back up to four again, depending on Affeldt coming back from his injury marred season (I do expect that).   If you want that mass of talent in the back of your bullpen, you need to pay for them eventually.

Mijares Era is Over

We hardly knew ye!  He had an OK season, 4.22 ERA, but great 9.9 K/9 and 2.70 K/BB, which are all very good pitching peripherals, plus Bill James reported him at 63% strikes thrown and 16% swinging strikes, both good numbers, and he'll be only 29 YO next season, so why the DFA?  He could even be a pretty good LOOGY if given the chance, LHB only hit .276/.343/.367/.710 against him, very low OPS (though, wow, very high batting average and OBP), great 4.38 K/BB, and excellent 35 K's out of 109 PA.  I think it was a combination of things.

First of all, he's a reliever, but he wasn't good with runners inherited.  He allowed 41% of his runners to score, one of the highest on the team (second highest for relievers with 25 or more inherited runners; FYI, Dunning was first with 44%).  As noted above, the league average is 27%, so he was pretty bad.  And he had the second most inherited runners, with 46, only Lopez was higher (making his 11% even more impressive).

Secondly, on top of that, his leverage index was only 0.732, where 1.0 is average pressure, so it was not like he was used in high pressure situations a lot.  It should have been easy peasy to keep those runners from scoring.  And in his 16 high leverage situations, though he only gave up 4 runs out of 16 runners, an OK 25% scoring rate, emblematic of his struggles in such situations, his first one of the 2013 season, he came in with no runners and left with the bases loaded, and that was not the only time that happened in the season.

Finally, as nice as it is to have three lefty relievers in the bullpen, saving Lopez and Affeldt for set-up duties, the Giants probably are going to have a roster crunch there.  There are 7 bullpen spots for the Giants.  We already have Romo, Affeldt, Casilla, and now Lopez signed for the 2014 season and taking the key roles in the bullpen, leaving three.  Petit is out of options so he most likely will be our long reliever (as signified by the Giants releasing Moscoso recently), leaving two spots.

For those two spots, just from the expected relievers we had last season, these guys will be battling for spots:  Jake Dunning, Heath Hembree, George Kontos, Jean Machi, and Sandy Rosario.   I noted Dunning's problems with inherited runners above (his leverage was low too).  Rosario only had a 61% strike thrown and 13% swinging strikes, both very low, with a very low 5.2 K/9 while a very high 4.3 BB/9 for a lousy 1.20 K/BB ratio, all belying his 3.02 ERA (probably earned by his fellow relievers saving him from a much worse ERA).  Rosario's hold on a roster spot is probably as tenuous as Mijares if the Giants need another 40-man spot.

That leaves Hembree, Kontos and Machi as the most likely ones to win the two spots.  And after his sterling debut in 2013, I would think the Giants is hoping that Hembree is ready to take a spot in the bullpen (he had a great 66% strike thrown rate and 26% swinging strike).  Also, Kontos had a great 2012 for us, and admitted that he came into 2013 not in the best of shapes, so he's probably dedicated to returning to his 2012 form.  And Machi had a great season for us, and one of our fastest fastballs on the staff, 92.8 MPH average (though also high inherited runners scoring, 34%, but same as Kontos; Kontos ).  Plus, Derek Law really shined this season and continued it into the AFL, so he could be the dark horse for a spot.

If I had to guess, I think Hembree is being penciled in for a spot, similar to Wilson in his first try for a roster spot (he blew it with a poor spring), and that Kontos and Machi will be battling for that last reliever spot, with Law having an outside chance of earning it over them.  FYI, Kontos had a good 65% strike thrown rate and 17% swinging strike, and Machi had a good 64%, but excellent 18% swinging strike rate.

So it is already a pretty crowded and competitive situation in the bullpen, even without considering Mijares as an option.  And as much as Mijares could be a LOOGY, we already have one of the best in the game in Lopez, so it would be a luxury to have two.  So the writing has been on the wall, for a while now, as there has been talk since the season ended that he was one likely to be non-tendered.

Thanks and good luck to Mijares, he did great for us in 2012 (had a great 11% inherited runners scoring and 2.55 ERA), and helped us in the playoffs, especially in the NLCS with 3 strong appearances, 2.0 IP, one hit and one walk, with 3 strikeouts.   He will always be able to show off his World Series ring wherever he goes.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

2014 40-Man Roster Changes to Avoid Rule 5 Draft Losses

The following players have been reported by Baggarly and Pavlovic to have been added to the 40-man roster to avoid being made available via the Rule 5 draft happening soon:
  • Gary Brown, CF
  • Kendry Flores, RHP
  • Adam Duvall, 3B
  • Hunter Strickland, RHP
That put us over.  To get us back to 40, pitcher Guillermo Moscoso was DFAed.

It was also noted that more players may have to be DFAed to accommodate the reportedly soon to be signed Javier Lopez deal (reported to be 3 year, $13M by BA Sports Guy), and when the Giants sign another player to fill the last SP position (whether Vogelsong or another free agent; sounds like if Vogelsong is signed, he will be made the last starting pitcher, he won't have to battle anyone for that role - though like any player, he could lose it if he plays poorly in spring).

ogc thoughts

The first three were no-brainers.  Brown, while disappointing many, is still very good defensively, and as Juan Perez showed this year, even in limited play, you can make a huge contribution via great defensive plays.  And he's working on his mechanics to become a better hitter.  Flores, rose to the occasion and did very well, putting his name into the conversation among top Giants prospects.  Great K/BB of 8.06, as his command improved even better than before - and he was very good before - while maintaining a high K/9.   Plus, he was only 21 for the season.  Duvall has been hitting homers and playing a decent 3B, and hit OK there.

Strickland was a surprise.  He had already been DFAed during the 2013 season and went unclaimed.  I liked his numbers before he was injured, so I was surprised he was dropped, as the DFA suggests that they did not think much of his chances.  But by protecting him from the Rule 5 draft, that means the Giants front office thinks enough of his potential that instead of risking losing him, they put him on the 40-man roster.

I was a little surprised that Moscoso was released, and yet not.  Surprised because he pitched well for us.  Not surprised because he made the point early on that he wants to be a starting pitcher, and apparently the Giants do not agree, and are letting him go, much like they did with Correia, who also wanted to start, for someone, anyone.  Apparently Petit, who is out of options, is now first in line to be the long reliever.

Baggarly points out Mijares as the most likely to go first, when Lopez is signed, he was already being eyed for non-tender anyway.  Next one expected to go after Mijares is Tony Abreu.

Both Moscoso and Mijares have good stats, and should not have a hard time finding another team, if/when the time comes.  Abreu I'm not sure of.  His frequent injuries will hurt his chances of finding a place for him.

I also wonder which players were not protected and thus are draftable in the Rule 5 draft.  We have not lost many players via this rule, but you never know.

And the 40-man is going to get crowded soon, as the prospects keep doing well and moving up.   I went through an exercise to see who would get assigned to each level and came up with the following:

  • Mike Kickham, Eric Surkamp, Chris Heston, Edwin Escobar plus one (probably someone signed to minor league deal) in AAA; 
  • Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn, Ty Blach, Adalberto Mejia, Kendry Flores in AA; 
  • Chris Stratton, Martin Agosta, Joan Gregorio, Chris Johnson, Joe Kurrasch in Advanced A; and 
  • Nick Vander Tuig, Chase Johnson, Luis Ysla, Carlos Diaz, Andrew Leenhouts, Keury Mella in A-ball in Augusta. 

Wow, they all seem good, in one way or another, the system is full up! All of the above pitchers have some nice qualities that could work in the majors.  Escobar looks near certain to perform well enough to break in the majors in 2014 at some point, whether through need or September call-up.  That should provide a lot of trading chips should the Giants need to trade by mid-season.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Your 2014 Giants: Tim Hudson signed for 2 years, $23M

As reported by MLB Trade Rumors, the Giants have signed Tim Hudson (pending physical) to a two year, $23M contract, with possibly no-trade clause.   He only got $9M for last season, as well, appearing to have finished off a four year deal he had signed after the 2009 season, and coming off an injury as well, getting TJS in 2008 and only returning to pitching late in the 2009 season, for 7 starts (but good numbers overall).  Reportedly, we got him even though the A's were reportedly interested in his services as well.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wish List for Off-Seaon Before 2014 Season: Belt Getting Signed to a Long-Term Contract

One of the things I would like to see in the off-season is for the Giants to sign Belt to a long term deal, much like they did with Sandoval, Posey, Bumgarner in recent years, and Cain and Lowry long ago.

And why not?  He has been a good hitter for us, even though he had been hindering himself with bad mechanics, so one could say that the Giants over the past three seasons have been trying to "tame" a wild horse (giraffe?) with his benchings, which drew the ire of a part of the Belt fanbase.  And which he didn't go through much of in 2013 season anyway, he was the clear starter, I just think that some Belt fans just get a little over protective of him.

I've been expecting him to bust out sooner than later, and I think 2014 could be the year he does it, given that he finally changed his batting grip and had such great success with it.  So I think it is imperative for the Giants to work on signing him up long term, the sooner the better, but at least before the 2014 season.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Your 2014 Giants: Lincecum Resigned to 2 years, $35M contract

This two year, $35M deal has been reported by Baggarly, Schulman and Pavlovic.  A no-trade clause was mentioned, but no other details have come out yet.

ogc thoughts

Wow, that is a lot more money than I thought it would be.  Even with the QO, that's $21M over that.  I thought - wrongly, clearly - that the negotiations would revolve around the QO.

Based on his actual performance, his BB-Ref WAR numbers were negative in 2012-13, but based sabermetically, his Fangraph WAR numbers were middling, 1.6 WAR last season, almost average.  What the sabermetics can't capture is what Giants fans saw the past couple of seasons, when Lincecum would get blown up with runners on, giving up a key hit here, there, seemingly almost everywhere.  That basically has put Lincecum around replacement level the past two seasons.

If WAR is valued at $6M per for the two seasons, that works out to roughly 6 WAR, or 3 WAR per season he needs to earn.  You have to use Fangraph's WAR numbers to even have a chance of earning back that contract.  Their Steamer estimate forecasts 2.1 WAR for 2014, but that's always based on what happened in the past and most probably includes his 2011 season, which appears to be in the distant past right now, based on what he has done in 2012-13. 

Clearly, the Giants think that Lincecum is on the cusp of a big breakthrough in terms of what he can produce.  And maybe he is.  He would have to pitch as well as he did in 2010 for the Giants to get extra value from his contract, which was a 3.43 ERA (3.7 WAR per BB-Ref), which is not far from his 4.37 ERA in 2013 (well, at least imaginable, as I'll get into next). 

He had a 3.82 ERA in his last 12 starts, ignoring that blow-up in his first start after his no-hitter, where either the 148 pitches thrown in that no-hitter or the 9 days of rest or both are possible causes of the blow up.  And excluding that one really bad start, he had a 3.56 ERA over his last 20 starts, covering every start from June to Sept (except for that one blow-up).  And that was his worse start of the season with extenuating circumstances, so dropping it as an outlier can be justified.  That basically puts us at this contract in terms of value produced.

And he did stellar in terms of PQS in those 12 starts, 8 DOM starts, only 1 DIS start, for a 67% DOM and 8% DIS, both very good, though still only 3.82 ERA. And for the 20 starts, that's 12 DOM, 2 DIS for 60% DOM and 10% DIS, both still great, for a 3.56 ERA over that period.  Again, that makes the contract look at least in the ballpark of what he can produce.  Basically, the Giants are betting that his slow start in 2012 and 2013 can be eliminated and that he can pitch at a relatively high level for all of 2014 and 2015.  And if he can do that, he's a great #3 starter for us, and a #2 or even #1 for other teams.

Now this makes things more clearer in terms of what the Giants might be thinking. 

Furthermore, his salary also is in the ballpark if we consider him a great reliever (which is not a long stretch given how well he pitched in 2012's playoffs as a reliever).  Rafael Soriano is the highest paid reliever at $14M per season, signed in early 2013.  At 10% inflation that's roughly $15.5M in 2014 and $17M in 2015, and Lincecum is being paid, on average, $17.5M the next two seasons.  And Mariano Rivera was being paid $15M per season in previous seasons, so top relievers in the majors will get roughly what Lincecum is getting in 2014-15, on an inflation adjusted basis. 

And he does not have to close to earn that, if he took on the super-reliever role that I had outlined before, he could easily earn that much WAR.  Romo earned 2.0 WAR with his great pitching in 2012.  By utilizing Lincecum in long relief by taking out starters before things get out of hand, like what happened in the 2012 playoffs, plus dropping him into set-up situations where he pitches 2+ innings, he could pitch that well and close out the game, and all those extra innings at great ERA would easily earn 3.0 WAR.

OK, the contract makes a lot more sense now that I've looked at the actual marketplace and performance boundaries that he might perform.   He basically performed at the necessary level to earn his contract if he can just avoid the slow start.  And one could blame both poor conditioning for his bad start in 2012 and the short off-season for his bad start in 2013, though we won't know until we get into the season.  And if necessary, he could be our super-reliever, used in a wide variety of situations, akin to how the best relievers were used in the 1970's, piling up more innings than regular relievers and being used in key situations more often, or even closer if the team needs him to move into role if something should happen to Romo and nobody steps up.

But still, it is a huge overpay for what he has done in the past two season, more than could have been reasonably expected on the marketplace had he actually tried free agency.  And it relies on him returning to a good semblance of what he was before, at least his 2010-11 version of himself. 

Still, a part of me believes that he can do it again, I guess that is the homer part of me.  Though most of me question it greatly, based on what he has done the past two years.  This is where the Giants scouts need to earn their money and properly assess where Lincecum is, both physically and mentally, and whether he is ready to make that leap to the next phase of his career, where velocity is not the plus it was before.   Plus, I think there is a good chance that he returns to some semblance of stardom, and I would rather bet on him, than, say, Halladay, who is among the free agents.  And I'm happy to have him back rather than seeing him in a, say, Dodger Blue uni. 

Plus, two years is not that much, both Zito and Rowand are off the books now, and if we are going to overpay someone and get subpar performance, I would rather do it with Lincecum than, say, one of the underwhelming free agents available.   Particularly since we could conceivably get that value back in 2015 by having him be a super-reliever.  I don't see any of the free agents capable of shifting over to relieving great for us.

And that is another reason to overbid for Lincecum rather than dip the toes into the free agent market for a player in the same salary range.  There is no compelling free agent out there, each one has their particular wart or three, just like Lincecum. So why not pay a little more for Lincecum, he at least has the reliever option and he does appear to be close to doing well over a full season, particularly since he's now studying batters with Posey before games, which he seems to have started doing mid-season at some point.  All that mitigates the risk of signing him to such a large contract, though it does not obviate it.   It is clearly a big risk, a big bet.  Only time will tell if Sabean (and the owners) made the right decision or not.

And this is a typical Sabean move, overpay a bit (I thought that two years at $14M per was the max, at the moment, plus bonuses to push the second year to the $20-22M range if he started well in 2014, which would bring him to the $35M range too, I guess) in order to have your birds in the hand, so that you can bid for other players without being leveraged in the negotiations by the other side.  Had he not signed Pence and Lincecum, the team would have been in a more desperate position, particularly if they had lost Pence, and the agents for the free agents will negotiate harder against Sabean, as he would have been viewed as needing to get replacements.  Now they can work on getting Lopez signed (probably 2 years, $6M per), and then focus on their main off-season purchase, a middle rotation starter to help fill out the starting rotation, leaving Vogelsong, Gaudin, Petit, and others to fight for the last starting spot. 

And I'm still not sure what is happening with Vogelsong.  There was no open commitment to bringing him back for use, only a commit to not screw with him by DFAing him and then renegotiating a deal.  Either they think he's worth that option, or they just get rid of him (though perhaps with minor league invite as a loophole on that).

So a big overpay, but I'm happy he's still a Giant, and here's where the Giants scouts and coaches need to earn their pay.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Examination of the Sillyball Era Theory

Never let it be said that I don't re-examine my stances time to time.  That is what led me to appreciate what Sabean does for the Giants, when I studied how darn hard it is to find a good player via the draft.  That is what led me to change my mind about whether Bochy was the manager to lead us to a World Championship.  I am willing to change my mind if presented with new data that changes my mind.

I got into a "discussion" about my stance that Eric Walker's theory of the Sillyball era is correct.  You can read the full theory here at his website, as well as the studies he has found which examined the composition of the ball.  Seeing the complaints about it, I realized that while Walker's analysis made sense to me - and still do - there are some who don't see what I saw.

Walker's finding that got me believing him is this:  starting roughly in the 1993-94 timespan, baseball suddenly started scoring more runs than it did in the 15 year period before.  And not just a little, in 1994, it went beyond the max of before and stayed there for the next 15 or so years.  Basically, the offense suddenly started scoring, on average, 12% more runs than they did before on average.

Walker also examined a number of angles on how that could happen and came to the conclusion that the only explanation that makes sense is that the baseball changed in the 1993-94 time period, that is, it got juiced, leading to the offensive era that most people call the steroid era.  Hence why Walker calls it the "sillyball" era.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

2013 Giants: September PQS and Final Stats

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of September 2013 and final stats, PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here (unfortunately, they removed the article; this link gets you at least to the PQS definition, read down to middle for details). I wrote on this first in 2006 and have compiled their stats on a regular basis, so I'm continuing it this season for continuity and historical comparison (there is the "PQS" label that you can click to see the old posts on this). Regular readers can skip to the next section.

This is the Quality Start with a sabermetric DIPS twist, and it gets really easy to calculate once you get used to it. I don't think it's the end all or be all, but then nothing really is that. It is, as I like to say, another piece of the puzzle. A dominating start is scored a 4 or 5 and a disaster start is scored a 0 or 1. DOM% is the percentage of starts that are dominating, DIS% is the percentage of starts that are disasters (any start under 5.0 IP is automatically a 0, or disaster).

Friday, October 11, 2013

2013 Season: Oakland Playoff Defeat Post-Mortem, PQS Style

As you all know, I like to use PQS to analyze pitching and team success in the playoffs.  As I've shown - and I know, not surprisingly - pitchers who throw quality starts give their teams a great chance to win, typically 75--80% of the time when the other team don't throw a quality start, and that happens a majority of the time.  And thus I've advocated for building up a rotation of high DOM% starters (and ideally low DIS%, but typically if you are high DOM% that results in low DIS%) as a way to be more successful in the playoffs.  So I thought I would look into the Tigers-A's series now (I've been normally doing all the playoff series after the playoffs are all over and the new World Champion is crowned, but I'm going through this series in depth here, whereas I just went through the numbers before).

Thursday, October 10, 2013

2013 Giants Fan Playoff Rooting Priorities

This is way late but just for historical purposes, this is the way I would have ranked the teams, top to bottom, for Giants fans rooting interest since unfortunately we did not make it in.
  1. Cleveland Indians
  2. Detroit Tigers
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates
  4. Tampa Bay Rays
  5. Cincinnati Reds
  6. Boston Red Sox
  7. Atlanta Braves
  8. St. Louis Cards
  9. Oakland A's
  10. LA Dodgers

Monday, October 07, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Official Off-Season Press Conference

The Giants at the end of every season has an end of season press conference to go over.  Baggarly kindly provided a transcript of it, which I pasted below and added my comments.  I was finally able to spend concentrated time on it this weekend, as I took a mini-vacation break, as my daughter had a fall break.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Pence Retained For 5 Years, $90M

As announced on Saturday and finalized Sunday, the Giants signed upcoming free agent Hunter Pence to a new contract.  The Reverend will be getting $90M over 5 years.  There is a no-trade clause, and he got $16M for 2014, then $18.5M over the final four years.  It was also reported by Schulman that this was an ownership move.

ogc thoughts

Wow, that went at least one or two years more and $3-4M more per year than I had hoped it would be.  But looking at the two deals that Pence's side was using as guidelines - Ethier's 5 year and $85M ($17M per) deal and Werth's 7 year and $126M deal ($18M per) - I guess that is the new economics of today's baseball, and I do like Pence more than I like Ethier.  Looks like it is a meld of Ethier's 5 years and Werth's $18M.

In any case, I at least feel like we have a good chance of getting good value from the deal.  Unlike Rowand, where we had to hope that he maintained peak performance over a number of years (and he didn't even come close at all, he was only worth his contract for the first half season to four months, and it was downhill from there), Pence only needs to do what he has done for his career, and even with inputting an expected career peak decline, he should meet the value of his contract. 

That he's a super hard worker who appears to know what you need to do to stay in baseball shape (unlike Rowand who thought that riding a child's mountain bike was satisfactory exercise in the off-season to stay in baseball shape) and alters his diet (really, Paleo diet, snacking on kale?  My wife bought that stuff, eww, you really have to be devoted to stick to that diet full-time and Pence did) to maximize his body for baseball, you can't ask for more than that.  Plus, he helps the other players, like getting Belt to watch his "Dig Me" videos, a series of at-bats where he hit home runs, and his inspirational "rah-rah" in the dugout like he did in last year's playoffs.  The Giants wanted him for his whole package.

Giants Did What They Had to Do

And when push comes to shove it was a deal much like Bonds or Cain, where the Giants had to do a deal in order for the fan base to view the team as competitive.  That's why the deal got done the way it did, the early reporting was that the Giants and Pence were far apart - the scuttlebutt had the Giants at 4 years and $60M, a chasm apart - then right after the Willie Mac award game, Larry Baer and Pence are seen in serious conversation, then Pence announces to reporters that there a breakthrough in the talks, either very good or very bad.  Then it was soon announced that there was a deal, so obviously very good.  Clearly, the baseball side saw it the way most fans did, that above $15M is overpay, but then ownership stepped up and allowed the deal as Pence was willing to accept.

The deal was not a fait accompli in the preseason.  Back then, we had a very good rotation of Cain, Bumgarner, Lincecum, and Vogelsong, which looked pretty good then.  But after another disappointing season for Lincecum and a poor season from Vogelsong, we are left with just Bumgarner and Cain, with the rest of the rotation a huge question mark, starting with Lincecum leaving as a free agent, possibly.

That makes keeping the offense at the same or better level a very important requirement for being competitive in 2014, as we won in the early part of the season and late when Pagan got back, even though we had the diminished starting pitching.  That then made resigning Pence and making him a part of the team long term the #1 priority of the off-season, as DrB aptly noted in one of his comments here. 

Which led us to here, matching the current market conditions for a player like Pence.  With Ethier's deal, Werth's deal, and Boras starting at 5 years and $100M for Shin Choo Hoo (better than Pence), that set the basic parameters for the deal for Pence, the floor and the ceiling, making the math pretty easy, with only Pence agreeing to what was his minimums.  And he was at his word, taking a fair deal, because who know how mad crazy the free agent market could have gotten, even with his QO?  There were not that many players of his caliber on the market.

Plus, this is a message from ownership to the rest of baseball (and free agents) that the Giants are ultra-serious about winning in 2014, that they are putting their money where their mouth is, and stepping up to pay the price for Pence.  And to one particularly close free agent...

Next Up:  Lincecum and Lopez (though not in that order necessarily)

I don't have time - big project - to go over the whole transcript of the post mortem presser Sabean and Bochy had the other day (oddly, it normally is held the day after the last game, though the reason might be the flight Sabean took, which I'll get to later), but Sabean noted the importance of signing Lincecum and Lopez, as well as Pence. 

Not that the Giants aren't sincere, but Sabean's M.O. is to get his To-Do list done quickly without delay while Lincecum has often waited until the last second to get things done, so my guess is that the main goal of the offseason now is acquiring someone to anchor the middle of the rotation.  And frankly, Lincecum is not strong middle rotation material right now. 

Hence Sabean noting that they are pursuing another starter in addition to Lincecum, who is more a #4 today, instead of saying one more starter and seeing how Timmy goes.  This gives him permission to pursue that middle rotation guy without upsetting Timmy as to the sincerity of the Giants pursuit of Lincecum.  This way, Sabean gets that middle anchor, and Timmy would only be the whip cream on top to improve the rotation further. 

Though ideally the Giants want to get him signed up before free agency, so they are already in talks with his agent (co-inky-dink, same agent as Pence, so easy to shift conversation).

Prospects Stepping Up

I think Sabean's comment on prospects stepping up in the presser refers to the starting rotation (as well as other spots).  I think the plan is to find a reliable #3 starter, that's the #1 priority now that Pence is signed.  Then their 4/5 spots would be filled within, unless we can land Lincecum, in which case, he would be in the mix in the middle, leaving only the 5 to be filled.  Either way, here is where prospects need to step up and fill the back of the rotation.

Lincecum Price Tag

Rumor has it that Lincecum can expect to get at least a 3 year, $30M deal.  Really, that's all?  I would be OK with that.  With the QO of $14M for 2014 that the Giants already committed to offering (and paying should Lincecum accepts, and that is possible), that equates to $7M for 2015 and 2016.  I am willing to gamble that, for, at worse, Lincecum could start in 2014 then relieve 2015-2106.  We are already paying Affeldt $6M per to relieve.

As I noted in the other post, I think that the Giants will craft a deal with Lincecum using that $14M QO as a base, then a second year contract, maybe $7-8M base, plus bonus for hitting IP milestones which mostly corresponds with how well he's doing as a starter, maybe getting him up to his $20M standards if he reaches 210 IP.   Tim likes two year short deals, he's not going to get that much better than $14M for one year, which then values the second year ridiculously low, like a reliever, and this gives him incentive to perform well and earn that money as a starter.  Win, win, win (for the fans). 

LF Internal

As far as LF goes, I think that is also an internal fill where Sabean was referring to about prospects stepping up, unless someone interesting falls to them in the Jan/Feb timeframe on the cheap.  I think the visit to see Cuban free agent Abreu is more for due diligence, tire-kicking, and show than actual interest.  If they bid, it would be more to force the big money teams to step up and overpay, as well as give a show to fans that they are trying to improve.  It would surprise me greatly if they spent a lot of money to improve the offense, it was not the offense that was hurting (except by injury), it was the pitching, particularly starting pitching, that let the team down, start to finish.

As I wrote before, I think Belt in LF makes the most sense (and they can wait to spring training to make that move), opening up 1B for Pill to get semi-regular starts to show off what he got, but then starting Posey at 1B would only take Pill out of the lineup, not as big a deal as taking Belt out now.  They could also pick up a LF/1B lefty hitter, on the older side, to take a bench role as well. 

That leaves space for backup catcher in Hanchez, 4th OF in Blanco, plus two middle infielders, probably Arias and Adrianza, who, as it turns out, is out of options, so he's probably going to win a spot on the roster with an OK spring hitting, as he has some potential and a great glove.  Though I don't know if Noonan is out of options too, so it could be a battle.  And there is still Abreu, the oft-injured MI utility guy who has hit for us when healthy.  And who knows who else coming in.  It will be interesting in spring.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Saturday, September 07, 2013

2013 Giants: August PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of August 2013, PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here (unfortunately, they removed the article; this link gets you at least to the PQS definition, read down to middle for details). I wrote on this first in 2006 and have compiled their stats on a regular basis, so I'm continuing it this season for continuity and historical comparison (there is the "PQS" label that you can click to see the old posts on this). Regular readers can skip to the next section.

This is the Quality Start with a sabermetric DIPS twist, and it gets really easy to calculate once you get used to it. I don't think it's the end all or be all, but then nothing really is that. It is, as I like to say, another piece of the puzzle. A dominating start is scored a 4 or 5 and a disaster start is scored a 0 or 1. DOM% is the percentage of starts that are dominating, DIS% is the percentage of starts that are disasters (any start under 5.0 IP is automatically a 0, or disaster).

Friday, September 06, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: The Great Eight September Call-Ups


The Giants called up eight prospects for their September call-ups (Splash):
  • MI Nick Noonan
  • MI Ehire Adrianza
  • OF Francisco Pequero
  • OF Juan Perez
  • RHP George Kontos
  • RHP Jake Dunning
  • RHP Heath Hembree
  • C  Johnny Monell

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Jose Can You See: Steroids Oz Not the Magic Shot to MLB

[Note:  I had worked on this a while back, just found it among my drafts, pretty much done, so I'm publishing it now, after a few edits]

As many of you know, I currently do not believe that the recently passed heightened offensive era is the steroids era.  As Eric Walker showed brilliantly at his websites, Steroids and Baseball and Sillyball, that era was more the Juice Ball era, not the Juiced Men era. 

One huge conversation starter for Steroids Sympathizers and those of us non-believers is the whole Jose-Ozzie Canseco connundrum:  if steroids is so great, then why was Ozzie such a dud.  One reasoning is that Ozzie didn't get the experience to enable that to happen, didn't get the repetition as a hitter since he started as a pitcher.  What follows is my response, which of course, I have updated and modified from the original, as it is my wont to do, I'm always tweaking.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Prospects Named to AFL Roster

As reported by MLB.com, the Giants are sending the following prospects to the AFL:
  • Kyle Crick, RHP
  • Andrew Susac, C
  • Adalberto Mejia, LHP
  • Jarrett Parker, OF
  • Cody Hall, RHP
  • Angel Villalona, 1B
Typically teams get 3 spots for both position and pitchers. Oddly, the Giants press release noted  the first five players (hence my order) but the roster (which I linked to above) has Villalona on the roster instead of the one additional pitcher that the Giants article noted.  The discrepancy is odd.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

2013 Giants: July PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of July 2013, PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here (unfortunately, they removed the article; this link gets you at least to the PQS definition, read down to middle for details). I wrote on this first in 2006 and have compiled their stats on a regular basis, so I'm continuing it this season for continuity and historical comparison (there is the "PQS" label that you can click to see the old posts on this). Regular readers can skip to the next section.

This is the Quality Start with a sabermetric DIPS twist, and it gets really easy to calculate once you get used to it. I don't think it's the end all or be all, but then nothing really is that. It is, as I like to say, another piece of the puzzle. A dominating start is scored a 4 or 5 and a disaster start is scored a 0 or 1. DOM% is the percentage of starts that are dominating, DIS% is the percentage of starts that are disasters (any start under 5.0 IP is automatically a 0, or disaster).

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Done and Done

Wow, I knew that the season was reaching a crucial point, but did not see it crashing and burning so fast.  As Boof aptly commented on another post, the season appears to be done.  And the Giants appear to be acknowledging this by bringing up Brett Pill and Roger Kieschnick.

ogc thoughts

Everyone has their own milestone where they give up on the season.  But I prefer logic to have governance over that.  One of the great tools I've seen for managing a baseball season I learned from Dusty Baker (and I've seen references to other people using this tool, I'm only acknowledging my source) during one of his interviews long ago.

One Game A Week, That's All He Asks

Basically, the rule is to make up one game in the standings per week.  One of the best project management tips I have ever heard for breaking down a much larger project into an easily comprehended and calculated metric.  That helps players get out from under a huge deficit in the standings and be able to take a breath and not be as nervous/pressurized about where the team is in the standings.

However, the flipside of that is if you are more games behind than weeks left in the season, then your team is in a pretty bad position in competing for the division title.  And the Giants just passed that this past week, as they are now 10 games back (oops, 11 games...)  and there are only 8 weeks (roughly) left in the season.  While I never give up final hope until September and this rule is in effect, for me, now that we are behind by that much, looking ahead to next season while trying to be competitive should now be the focus.

I have seen a lot of people say that it has been over for a while - one in fact asked me to apologize for saying that the Giants still had a chance - so the above is the reasoning I use for guiding following my team.   There is no apology forthcoming.

Frankly, some of them are those I've seen before who said the team had no chance in 2010 and 2012, that the season was over, further, are people I've seen in late 2000's decade saying that the Giants were done and going nowhere, and they were clearly wrong, so why would I listen to them now?  And some were very rude to me but I've never gotten an apology nor do I expect one from people who are so delusional to think that people like me would now listen to what they are spouting off now about the Giants when they have been mostly wrong for the past six or more years about the Giants direction.  Just because they think the sky is falling and it actually does one time does not make them futuristic savants whose latest missives I should heed.

Not that you should heed my missives either, I wholeheartedly believe in sharing what information I know so that if I'm as delusional as others, I get pulled back from the ledge as well.  I think I've been in a good spot, the Giants weren't doing well, but there were some signs of improvement that I pointed out as positives for the future - and for all the Naysayers saying they called it, not all of you did because the pitching this last weekend was amazing and some of you thought they were done - that did not work out as I thought they might.  It happens.

I still have some hope of the Giants getting back into contention for the same reasons I thought that they still had a chance.  But we are so far back that we need to start at least figuring out some things for next season. 

Looking Forward

Lots of things happening, lots of things to consider.  Here are the ones I can remember:
  • Heston was DFAed and resigned with us, he's in AAA
  • Hunter Strickland was DFAed and still has a few more days before we find out what happens with him, but given he has been out since early April, I don't see any team dropping someone on their 40 man to pick up a still injured player.
  • Petit was surprisingly (to me) DFAed after his nice relief outing for us, so Shankbone's observation that Petit didn't have that great of stuff in spring training seems to be the best explanation of that move.
  • The Giants picked up Guillermo Moscosco from the Cubs for cash or a player to be named later, which is why the Giants dropped Petit.   
  • Giants activated Arias and optioned Dunning, who did a great job for us, to Fresno.
  • Brian Wilson had a nice session in front of MLB teams and a handful, including the Giants, are interested in his services and are serious contenders.  Still don't know if he's mad at the Giants enough to not sign with them - it seemed like he had burned that bridge already though - or if he's cooled down enough to be open to it.  However, a retweet by John Shea of a Tim Brown tweet noted that Wilson signed with Dodgers.  Hard to tell if that was a big middle finger to Giants or just the Dodgers love for ex-Giants (Colletti) and/or big stack of cash they have burning in their pockets.  Part of me was wishing he would return, but the poor homestand put the kibosh on that, he didn't work as hard as he did to return only to pitch for a non-contender.
  • Vogie still appears to be on track to return sometime in the first half of August. 
  • Abreu was placed on the 15 day DL while Tanaka was optioned to Fresno. 
  • Pill and Kieschnick were both called up,meaning Arias is the only backup MI.
Given that Belt has been struggling now for about a month, I would think that Pill will be platooning with him at 1B to give Pill some playing time.  I assume that Francoeur's and Tanaka's struggles with the bat is part of the impetus to calling up Kieschnick, but he earned his call-up by hitting really well recently, basically in July, and getting his strikeout rate down significantly, enough that it is almost good.  Roger was pretty bad in June and probably hence why Sabean said that he was not close last month.  Maybe Roger will start platooning with Francoeur in LF, it is interesting that the Giants kept Francoeur around given how poorly he's been hitting (part of it is that he's been having bad BABIP luck, he has a good contact rate with us right now, just not the batting line to reflect that; but his BABIP has not been good the past two years, perhaps that's not part of his skill set anymore, still, his contact rate has been great, maybe the Giants helped him tweak something, remember, players joining Bochy teams tend to add a win - altogether - per season).  That may have to do with the Pence trade possibility.

The beats say that the Giants are not looking to trade anyone specifically but are at the point where they have to listen to deals and see what they can get.  Sabean has already pointed out that Lincecum and Pence will get qualifying offers, which means that they get picks, and that sets the minimum bar for what the Giants would want for them.  Sounds like the Giants are unlikely to trade Lincecum however, while Pence is available for the right price, but the Giants appear to still want to resign Pence.

Rumors include:
  • Belt to Astros for Bud Norris (mere speculation, I think, due to Pill call-up)
  • At minimum, the Giants were "hard in"  on Norris previously, so that is something to note.  And the Astros are looking for at least a top prospect, so that means, for the Giants, starting with Crick probably, maybe Blackburn would be OK too, to start.
  • Lopez for prospects (more speculation since he's valuable to contender and a free agent after the season).
  • Reportedly, Reds are interested in Pence, as well as the Yankees, Rangers and Pirates. 
  • Scutaro has also been subject to speculation as well among fans, due to his age and contract.
I have not really cared for many of the trade suggestions/rumors.  I expect the Giants to compete in 2014 and trading away Lincecum, Pence, or even Belt would diminish our chances greatly, I believe.  That's because I still believe in Lincecum and Pence, and hope the Giants resign them.

Not that I think that they will be bargains either, I expect to overpay some.  In Lincecum's case, we just don't know what we are going to get.  I don't expect him to get any deal over $15M per season, and when it's that close to the qualifying offer, I don't see why the Giants won't just offer around that much if he turns down the QO and why he won't resign in hopes of rebuilding his free agent value with the team for one more season.  Meanwhile, I'm hoping he makes the transition in 2014 to pitcher from thrower, or if not, transition to a super utility reliever who pitches as short or as long and as often as he feels like it.  I'm willing to overpay 2014 in case he's that close, and I think he is.  If 2014 is another bad year, then I'll be willing to let him go.

Pence I think is way overpriced.  Not that great defensively, and really, his offense isn't THAT great, though good.  But the Giants offense cannot get any worse without hurting our chances in 2014 and frankly I doubt there is anyone out on the market that we can get equivalent production for cheaper cost.  So I'm willing to overpay to $13-15M per year for him for 3-4 seasons to retain his offensive production.

Belt I still believe in.  I understand some are frustrated, but just look at Matt Williams' arc, he took three seasons to figure things out, before busting out in his fourth season, so I would rather keep Belt to see if he can do that, he's actually hit much better than Matt did in their early seasons.  When there is the potential for a Votto-like player, I think you just have to be patient with him.  But Norris is pretty good too, so I would probably do that trade if it were available, but I have to think that they would want younger prospects for Norris.

Same with Sandoval.  I understand why some want to trade him (particular Shankbone), but guys who are potential 900+ OPS hitters don't grow on trees and while an offense with Posey, Pence, Belt is good, it would that much better with Sandoval.  I will put up with him and be OK with getting a draft pick for him when he leaves, that's too much risk to go long-term with him without a clause on his weight.

The two I am OK with trading are Scutaro and Lopez.  Scutaro the Giants really only wanted for two seasons, and he's hitting well, so if someone wants to overpay for him, great, take the deal, but it is only for so-so prospects, then that's OK, I would keep him.

Lopez makes the most sense.  He's a free agent and Mijares has done very well for us, so we have a ready replacement already.  Some are hoping for a bonanza like the A's got with Reddick, but really, that was just a fluke, like the Mets trading Kazmir, you have to be in the right time, right place, right players, right desperation/stupidity.  You don't hope to get such deals, you just fall into them.

Still, a shutdown lefty reliever like him was shown to be very valuable during the playoffs in 2010 and 2012, and a team might be willing to overpay some to get him.  He's the only one I would push to trade and do it for the best offer out there.  That would also free up space for one of our AAA relievers to come up and see what he's got.

With Moscosco in tow now, the Giants now have Bumgarner, Cain, Vogelsong, Gaudin, and Moscosco as the 2014 starting rotation, not great but not too bad either.  The Giants can now enter into negotiations with Lincecum wanting him to return, but not needing him to return. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Fanatics, Keep Your Dawber Up

After the nice run of wins, these two losses probably returns some to their prior glass is half empty mental state.  And I am starting to understand this phenomenon, why Giants fans get so down on the team even though the past four seasons have been the most successful period in San Francisco Giants franchise history, and among the best in Giants franchise history:  it is media driven.

It started long before it became a trend, with the bad road losses, when the Giants were 8-8 on the road previously and it was fully acknowledged that it was oddities to lose to Toronto and Colorado like that.  And it has spiraled downward, justifiably, ultimately, as the team succumbed to injuries that followed - which is the sole reason for the downturn, not that road trip.  Enough that one beat writer, who had not written for a long time on his blog, suddenly decided that the season was over, that it was time to give up.

And now, after a nice streak of wins, you get one loss to the D-backs, after a well-pitched game by Bumgarner, you get another beat writer talking about how the Giants don't have much of a chance of winning the division, because we would need to beat both the D-backs and D-gers to get the division title, and we are in even worse position to try to get either of the wild cards.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Bobby Evans' News on Players

Evans was interviewed, Schulman tweeted info, blogger covered the news and gave his views.  I think he did a nice job and a great service to Giants fans:  http://aroundthefoghorn.com/2013/07/19/vp-bobby-evans-on-siriusxm-on-vogey-pence-brown-and-a-note-on-romo/?utm_source=FanSided&utm_medium=Network&utm_campaign=Trending

ogc thoughts


Vogie starts rehab in AA, shoot for return in early to mid August.  To me, that is big news, it is not that far from now potentially, the start of August is only 13 days away.  At that point, the Giants will have an interesting decision to make:  who losses their starting rotation job? 

Before it was easy to say Gaudin, as we need a long man, but he has one really well for us.  I agree with covechatter that it might be Zito, though my speculation on my blog was that he could be DFAed at that point, as we are still at a full 40-man and Vogie is on the 60-day DL and someone would have to be cleared off the island to bring back Vogie.  If Zito is DFAed, then I think Kickham would come up and be our long relief guy.

About Pence, I took it the opposite of the author, I viewed it as more that Evans hoped that we don't go south and have to consider such an issue.  But I agree that it was a non-comittal to Pence. 

I think the Giants are still on the fence, Pence's cold streak lately hasn't helped his cause, if he were still hitting like he were in April/May, I think it would be likely the Giants do pursue Pence, with QO at minimum, but I think they have a price in their head that they won't go over, and are willing to let free agency determine whether another team overpays for him or not. 

I still hope the Giants pursue Pence and be in the mix, but I don't want to pay him the market value that his arb awards portend, which is $17M per year.  Astros really screwed up with him on his arbs, set a bad precedence, I think.  But a 3-4 years deal in the $13-15M per year range is OK with me, as we need at least two good bats in the middle, Posey is clearly one, but Sandoval's weight and injury issues makes him iffy, and Belt, while he could be that bat for us someday, I don't know if he'll reach that point by the end of the season.

About Brown, that's been the Giants position with all prospects that they expect to play a significant role on the team in the near future, they have said that about Wilson, Bumgarner, Posey, at minimum that I remember.  They want them getting a lot of playing time and focused on improving themselves.

About Romo, I didn't take that to be a not solid commitment to Romo.  I view that more as an organizational stance, much like how Beane thinks closers are fungible and easily replaced.  This to me confirms that the Giants do not share Beane's (or saber's) view that closers can be easily replaced.  This to me means that the Giants, once they found their closer, will hold onto him as long as possible (and productive).  So I did not view that as a slight to Romo relative to Sabean's statement about LincecuCame here to share this link:  http://aroundthefoghorn.com/2013/07/19/vp-bobby-evans-on-siriusxm-on-vogey-pence-brown-and-a-note-on-romo/?utm_source=FanSided&utm_medium=Network&utm_campaign=Trending

Evans was interviewed, Schulman tweeted info, blogger covered the news and gave his views.  I think he did a nice job and a great service to Giants fans.

Vogie starts rehab in AA, shoot for return in early to mid August.  To me, that is big news, it is not that far from now potentially, the start of August is only 13 days away.  At that point, the Giants will have an interesting decision to make:  who losses their starting rotation job? 

Before it was easy to say Gaudin, as we need a long man, but he has one really well for us.  I agree with covechatter that it might be Zito, though my speculation on my blog was that he could be DFAed at that point, as we are still at a full 40-man and Vogie is on the 60-day DL and someone would have to be cleared off the island to bring back Vogie.  If Zito is DFAed, then I think Kickham would come up and be our long relief guy.

About Pence, I took it the opposite of the author, I viewed it as more that Evans hoped that we don't go south and have to consider such an issue.  But I agree that it was a non-comittal to Pence. 

I think the Giants are still on the fence, Pence's cold streak lately hasn't helped his cause, if he were still hitting like he were in April/May, I think it would be likely the Giants do pursue Pence, with QO at minimum, but I think they have a price in their head that they won't go over, and are willing to let free agency determine whether another team overpays for him or not. 

I still hope the Giants pursue Pence and be in the mix, but I don't want to pay him the market value that his arb awards portend, which is $17M per year.  Astros really screwed up with him on his arbs, set a bad precedence, I think.  But a 3-4 years deal in the $13-15M per year range is OK with me, as we need at least two good bats in the middle, Posey is clearly one, but Sandoval's weight and injury issues makes him iffy, and Belt, while he could be that bat for us someday, I don't know if he'll reach that point by the end of the season.

About Brown, that's been the Giants position with all prospects that they expect to play a significant role on the team in the near future, they have said that about Wilson, Bumgarner, Posey, at minimum that I remember.  They want them getting a lot of playing time and focused on improving themselves.

About Romo, I didn't take that to be a not solid commitment to Romo.  I view that more as an organizational stance, much like how Beane thinks closers are fungible and easily replaced.  This to me confirms that the Giants do not share Beane's (or saber's) view that closers can be easily replaced.  This to me means that the Giants, once they found their closer, will hold onto him as long as possible (and productive).  So I did not view that as a slight to Romo relative to Sabean's statement about Lincecum.

And speaking of Lincecum, if anything, Sabean's statement could be construed like the Pence statement, said in a different way.  In any case, I think the Giants feel that they will be close enough to battle to late in the season for relevancy, and they can't do that without Lincecum (or somebody in his place) pitching well enough, plus there is the potential for Lincecum to have a really nice second half, much like he did in 2012 when he led  the rotation in ERA until his last two bad starts, where his stamina issues finally took over.  So it is very unlikely to see him traded, I think.

Plus, I think the Giants still hope to work out something with Lincecum, depending on what the market bears for Tim.  They are not going to go crazy, but if the other teams make reasonable offers, I can see the Giants upping the contract value to resign Tim. 

Plus, top relievers are getting $14-15M per year right now.  The Giants could structure the deal to pay him, say, $16M per year, with $1M added on for each IP threshold that he makes, so that he makes, say, $22M per year if he's starting, but making good money for a reliever if not.  Maybe starting with the 25th start to the 30th start.

I believe that he can be a great super-reliever once he transitions over from starting.  We could have a closer, like most teams, but Tim would pitch based on what the team needs at the moment.  If they need a long man in the 2nd, he'll pitch that game.  But maybe the next day, they need someone to come in the 5th, and he can bridge to the setup relievers if necessary.  But maybe the setup guys are struggling to shut down things in the 7th or 8th, and like how the Giants used to bring in Wilson in the 8th to get 4 or 5 outs, he could do that as well.  Or if the closer is struggling, bring in Timmy as needed, depending on how Bochy and Rags assess the situation.  He could also be our extra innings guy, going 3-4-5 innings, as long as necessary to get that extra innings win, shutting down the other team. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Pitching and Fielding, Intertwined

I was thinking about the Giants, and how the pitching is having a down year when I realized that defense is also part of the equation.  Could that be part of the problem?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Thoughts on Rotation Plans

Bochy released the Giants rotation plans.  To give Cain extra time, as well as Bumgarner with the All-Star game traveling, and Lincecum with his huge pitch count in his no-hitter, the Giants start out with Gaudin, then Cain, Bumgarner, Lincecum, and lastly Zito (of course), though technically there are two games that day, to make up for the rained out game in Cincinnati.

For that old fashion double header, Kickham will be called up to start one game, with Zito pitching the other start.  The first game will be considered a "home" game for the Reds since it is making up their rain out, and people were joking that since Zito has been hammered on the road, the Giants should start him in the second game, which is considered our original home game for that day.

ogc thoughts

First off, I expect the Giants to pitch Kickham in the first game, then send him down and pull up another pitcher at that point for relief.  Not sure who will be riding that Fresno-SF express, but bets are on Machi since I think his ten required days in AAA, after getting sent down, would be fulfilled by then.  Not sure who gets sent down to bring up Kickham, maybe Kontos, since he's been up and down this season, whereas Dunning has been doing well.

Second, people have been worried about Cain's health since he got bombed in his last two starts, and this move just fuels the fires.  The Giants and Cain have said that he is healthy and that there is nothing wrong.  However, Cain should have 9 days of rest between starts to July 19, the first game back, 10 days of rest for his scheduled start on July 20th.  And he didn't really throw that many pitches in that last start either, so it was not like it was a regular start, he got rest that day too.  There is caution about giving a pitcher more rest, and then there is CAUTION, and the difference between 9 and 10 days seems trivial - for a healthy pitcher. 

Third, I counted through all the starts and we have more home games than road games in the second half, 5 in total.  By positioning them in this way, Bumgarner, clearly our best pitcher now, gets the call for the most road games, at 7, everyone has 6.  It also gives both Gaudin and Cain 8 home starts, while Lincecum and Zito end up with 7, so that works out the way we want it too.  The only question then is whether Cain first or Gaudin first, and they went Gaudin to give Cain more rest.  I guess since the results are the same, why not give him more rest?

OK, here's where it makes sense to position Cain this way.  First he gets to pitch in first series against AZ.    Then he also faces Orioles, a tough team now, in the rubber game.  He also draws the first start of the Pirates series at home.  Then here we go, he gets to pitch in Colorado, then two starts later, AZ, following that up with first start of LAD series in LA, then first start of LAD series at home, plus the final game of the season.  That's 8 key/tough starts out of 14, and he faces almost every series against AZ and LAD in the second half.  He just misses the AZ series at the end of August.

And Bumgarner being next after him, he also gets AZ, Nats in DC, Pirates at home also, Rockies on road also, AZ at home also, LAD on road also, LAD at home also, plus he's available to start the first game of the playoffs since we make it that far.  That's 7 key/tough starts out of 14.

Gaudin gets 3 against AZ, plus CIN, BAL, BOS, COL twice, plus NYY, that's 9 starts against good teams, but he misses both of the LAD series.

Which means that Lincecum makes many of them.  Let's see:  Reds, Rays, Nats, BOS, Pirates, AZ, COL, LAD, NYY, LAD (yep, both LA series too, we throw Cain, Bumgarner, Lincecum against LAD twice in two weeks, plus a Zito start).  He has 10 starts against good teams.

And Zito gets the leftovers, however that works out.  Reds, Rays, O's, Nat's, BOS, Pirates, AZ, AZ, COL, LAD, NYY.  That's 11 starts against good teams, so hopefully he's ready to start another good run for us, like he did at the end of last season for us.

Oddly, our back end of the rotation faces more of the better teams, but less of our top NL West contenders, AZ and LAD.  And that is good, a loss to a good team outside of our division does not hurt as much as losing to any of our top competitors, who are the D-backs and Dodgers.   And it is not like we can hide Zito, he has to face teams too. 

The one thing that this means, though, is that the Giants can't throw in Kickham anytime in August to try to give the starters an extra day off, there are only one off days from July 26 to August 28, that's 33 straight days with only one off day within (and off days on July 25 and August 29).  Then the next day off is on September 16, 18 days later.  So that is a brutal run of games, that's why I thought maybe the Giants might stick in Kickham once or twice in that stretch to give the starters an extra day of rest.  But then that would screw up the order of Cain, Bum, Tim facing LAD twice near the end. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Tim Lincecum's First No-Hitter

Congrats to Big Time Timmy Jim's first no-hitter.  He did give up 4 walks but did strikeout 13.  He did it in a staggering 148 pitches.  He ended strong, at least for him today, throwing 91 MPH in the 9th.  He was helped by a 4 run lead after throwing 3 innings, 8 runs after 4, plus a number of great plays led by Sandoval and Pence in particular.

ogc thoughts

With this game, he fulfilled my hopes for him that I had after his third start, just as I had after Cain's first great start.  With stuff like that, I thought, he could finally get us that first no-hitter since The Count did it so long ago.  Of course, who knew that Dirty would beat the two of them to it?  Funny how life works sometimes.  Plus, it was the Padres again.

Wow, 148 pitches.  Saber brains are melting all over.  Of course, part of the calculus of this is that with the ASB, Lincecum will have about 10 days of rest between starts.  Another of the calculus is that The Kid's arm is one that is suppose to bounce back quickly from this type of usage, where he comes back THE NEXT DAY, and throws his usual routine of throwing pole to pole.

Still, I have to worry.  Cain has not been the same after his Perfect Game no-hitter, as while he has been a good pitcher, he has not been the elite starter that he had been for a number of years and was in the games prior to the PG.  And he "only" threw 125 pitches, which is actually considered OK by saber standards, BP noted that when rebutting Bill James complaints about their PAP methodology and theories (I agreed with Bill, FYI, I think pitch counts are over done but this is something pitchers don't do today).  Lincecum threw 23 more pitches than that.  Can Timmy recover OK?  One can only hope, given the extra rest and his ability to come back so fast.

Still, congrats to the Kid, I'm happy he was able to do it for the Giants, given that his contract is over after this season and could be his last with us.  I'm still hopeful we can retain him in some way.  I think he's one of the greats and I would like to hold onto him as long as we could.  I think he could still be effective for us going forward, but he won't be a top tier pitcher for us all the time, and that's OK, if he can be like this for us every once in a while.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Not the Time to Give Up

I totally disagree with the idea that it is time to give up on the Giants season. The Giants are only 6.5 games out. They were similarly out in August in 2010, if I remember right, and we still got the rest of July and parts of August to reach that point.

The Giants have been decimated by injuries to their offense, and then the pressure of trying to make up for the losses in the lineup. For the past two months, we had been either missing or getting poor performances from three of our top five hitters, Pagan, Scutaro, Sandoval.

Blanco has been OK batting leadoff, but Sandoval has still been rehabbing from his DL, like he did in 2011 and 2012, it takes him 2-4 weeks to get his first homer after returning, then he turns up the power. He just hit a homer last night, so that could be the sign of a hot streak for him. That would help the offense greatly, Pence was carrying the offense for a while, before the pressure got to him too.   Crawford has started hitting too, after playing with his finger injury from sliding into secondbase. 

The pitching might not be as good as seasons' past but still good. Cain hasn't been the same since his Perfect Game and I'm not sure if he'll ever reach his prior standards, but he's still been good, just not in his last two games. Extended rest - and lowered pitch counts -  should help him. Lincecum has been pitching better in his last four starts, just giving up a few too many key hits. He cleared his mind last season during ASB, leading the rotation in ERA for most of the second half before his stamina left him in his last starts. I expect him to be better too with rest, but more for his mind. Gaudin has been very good so far, been a find like Vogelsong was. And Zito is Zito, he was up to start the season, been down recently, I expect him to be up again soon as well.  And Vogie sounds like he's coming back early and does not feel any difference in his pitching, which is good.

The relievers haven't been the same since Casilla went on the DL. And no wonder, most teams losing their key right-handed set-up man will suffer, as there is not always that backup who could take his place. I was hoping Kontos could rise to the occasion, but so far nobody has, even Affeldt has been off. I wonder if he's still using that brace that was helping him last season - if not, maybe he should think about it.  But Casilla is getting close to returning, and that should return the bullpen to its normal configuration in the second half.

People note how bad they have been since mid-May but neglected to note that at that point, they were 8 games over .500 after only 6 weeks of play. Once we get some key pieces back onto the roster and performing as expected, we can return to some semblance of that team.

It is easy to rip into a team when things are not going well, but it was injuries that tipped this team into this morass, then over trying to make up for the losses of personnel and performance. Key people are returning and that should help a lot, as well as getting all those home games to start the second half.

Also, I would rather not trade Lincecum or Pence, two names popping up a lot as trade targets given how the Giants might be in a selling mode with the losing.

I still hope the Giants keep Lincecum, he's actually been pretty good overall, just giving up the wrong pitch at the wrong time. He fixed it last year, and I think he can fix it during the ASB this year. And I think he can be a super-reliever for us at some point in the future, capable of pitching a long game one night then returning the next night to shut down a rally as a set-up man, with little warmup, plus close when the closer had too many games or if the closer is not doing well, and reliever the closer, but if we trade him, he'll probably do that for another team.  I want him doing it for us.

And given how up and down Sandoval has been, I hope the Giants resign Pence as well, given that he sounds like he wants to stay here, that would give our offense more stability, I think.  I think Belt and Crawford will be improved as well, so that helps, but I think the money is there for Pence and Pence has been a pretty good player overall for his career and for us, he was carrying the team for the first couple of months before his downturn.  He gives us more in the lineup, I think, though with the possibility that Belt might be our starting LF at some point in the future, and maybe Brown or Peguero might push Pagan to RF in the next year or two, the Giants might be leaning towards not retaining Pence to keep space open for top prospects.

If there is anyone I would think about trading, it would be Lopez.  Not that he hasn't been good or that he's done anything wrong, just more that we have a lot of lefty relievers now, and trading him would clear $5M off the payroll, while giving Mijares a chance to take over an important role.  Affeldt and Mijares would be a good pair of lefties, we have gone with two lefties before. 

Now is not the time to give up yet on the Giants. That time may be close, perhaps as close as the start of August, but not yet.  Plenty of season to see before we can officially give up, I believe.

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