Saturday, March 30, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Long Term Eextensions for Sabean, Bochy, and Posey

I'm not going to bother providing all the links, just want to get this out, just check the usual suspects via links to the right (Baggerly, Schulman, Pavlovic/Mercury, Haft/ 

Sabean and Bochy are linked deals again, sounds like the Giants torn up the current contract covering 2013-14 and gave them a new contract covering the next four seasons.  Rumor has it that they are getting somewhere in the $4M range, like another top baseball exec.  Well deserved for a job well done (twice! at least...).

Posey got a 8-year contract extension tacked onto his current contract, which appears to have been torn up, for $167M (it is an odd contract like Cain which includes his current contract for 2013 plus the 8 years, so technically this is a 9 year contract).  Here is the link where I got my news on this, from Haft

It covers his remaining three arbitration years plus five years of free agency, plus full no-trade provision, so he's here to 2021.  There is also a club option for 2022.  Posey:  "I'm thrilled."  Because this year was included, it is considered the longest contract for a catcher ever, beating out Mauer's 8-year deal, but short of Mauer's $184M contract value.  But Mauer's did not include any arbitration years, Posey does. 
Here are the gory financial details:

Posey will receive a $7 million signing bonus, according to the source. Having previously settled for $8 million this year, Posey now will receive $3 million in 2013, $10.5 million in '14, $16.5 million in '15, $20 million in '16 and $21.4 million per year from 2017-21. The 2022 club option is worth $22 million, with a $3 million buyout. Posey also will contribute $50,000 per year to Giants charities.
The Giants' commitment to Posey is nothing short of historic. It's a record guarantee for a player with fewer than three years of service time. Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez set the previous standard with his seven-year, $80 million contract. It's also the biggest financial obligation to a player with fewer than four years' service time, exceeding the $151.45 million Colorado committed to first baseman Todd Helton for 11 years.
Analyzing the three arbitration years, using the 40%/60%/80% of market value rule of thumb, that works out roughly to valuing Posey at $26.25M market rate.  But then we get his free agent years at a lower "market rate", so it appears that the Giants front-loaded the contract on a relative market rate basis.

ogc thoughts

I could say it's about time (Ray Ratto does say this in column on CSNBA's website about Sabean/Bochy), but I know that deals like this takes time.  Given the pervasive feeling that the Giants lucked into the 2010 Championship (certainly NOT my opinion, the Giants and Sabean/Bochy earned that championship through their blood sweat and tears and Rally Thong), I understand why Sabean and Bochy only got two years again the last time, as I would bet that a lot of the minority Giants owners very much felt the same as many of the Sabean Naysayers at that time, that it was just luck.

But after being the first team to win two World Championship in three seasons since the Big Red Machine in the 70's, only people with tin foil hats and conspiracy theories would still cling to the notion that the Giants are being led by morons.   I don't see any other logical conclusion because to label such an accomplishment as luck again would imply that the Big Red Machine and any other team (like the Blue Jays and Phillies) who had a period of dominance was "lucky", which basically means that winning World Championships in baseball doesn't mean anything.  And if they don't mean anything, then why are these people still caring about who wins a World Championship?  When in their estimation, it is all based on luck.

I said it then, I say it now, the Giants legitimately won both World Championships.  As in that old commercial for a brokerage house, opined by a great actor/teacher:  "they EARNED it."  To denigrate any championship as lucky denigrates almost all of them, because if I wanted to, I could dig into any team who has won in the past and there will be many elements of similar luck - a good trade, a good pickup, a good season by someone unexpected, a good playoffs by someone unexpected, a ball that fell in for a hit, or a ball that fell into a glove - and thus those who label the Giants lucky, labels almost all lucky, and again, why care who wins championships if you think luck is main reason any team won?

The Giants won because Sabean put the Giants into position to win once given the opportunity (which is the playoffs).  Because of his great strategy and the tactics following that strategy.  Great pitching and good defense wins in the playoff, that is what the latest sabermetric studies show.  It is no magic potion, but it is darned good potion and it has been working for the Giants. 

And he was the GM that tied it up with a bow.  He put together the personnel and policies and processes that enabled the Giants to pick up and, more importantly, keep our great rotation, obtain our great manager (as I've shown with my research, he's a generational manager, capable of winning one-run games at a rate that other managers are not able to), picked up first Tidrow then Barr, build up our offense (with patience that the Naysayers have lacked), and once more for emphasis, he kept all these key people, not letting them go nor trading them (in the case of players).  Sabean decided all of that.

I was thinking about what Shankbone noted in a comment/post somewhere about how Sabean had that great streak of picking up Lincecum, Bumgarner, Posey.  I thought about how they probably picked up one of the top 3-5 players in those drafts.  Thinking of how the odds of doing that would be calculated, there was roughly 1,500 players drafted, plus when you are not picking first or among the first five, mostly probably at least one if not two of the top 3-5 are already gone. 

Assuming at least one top player is gone by the time the Giants picked, that leaves 2-4 for the Giants to select from, making the odds roughly 400 to 800 to 1 of picking that top player (obviously, the odds get worse if at least two are gone).  Using 600 to 1 as the average for each draft (and acknowledging that this is just a floor, it is probably much higher), that works out to 1/600th cubed or roughly 216,000,000 to 1 odds of a team pulling off randomly what Sabean did in those three years, as a conservative minimum. 

Now, acknowledging the infinite monkeys on infinite typewriters theory, maybe Sabean was just really lucky, like those people who win the Mega-Millions jackpots in the hundreds of millions of dollars, there is no skill involved there, they just happened to pick the right numbers (or prospects in Sabean's case).

But then you have to add in other things that he did.  That he picked up and kept Cain.  That they picked up and molded and developed Belt.  That they didn't let Sandoval's size (nor Lincecum's size) dissuade them from appreciating that they had good baseball skills that could be further developed (people probably forgot that Sandoval exhibited little power or patience in the minors or that Lincecum had a horrendous walk rate in college, or even that Cain walked too many while he was in the minors.  Or most of all, nothing thought much of Belt when he was drafted, someone who the very next year was suddenly a Top 15-20 prospect in the majors).  On an individual basis, yes, there is an appearance of luck, but taken as a whole, very hard to say that it was all luck, particularly the part of Sabean deciding to keep all of them instead of trading them away as many of the Naysayers forget that they were clamoring for in prior years. 

Or how about that he picked up Matt Morris?  Most Giants fans deride Sabean for signing him up, but even this spring, Cain has talked back to how instrumental to his development that he had someone like Matt to pick his brains from, on how to be an MLB pitcher, and now he's that old veteran guy, passing it on to the next generation of Giants pitchers.  Was it worth the millions paid to Morris that helped enable Cain to pitch the way he did in the playoffs in 2010 and 2012?  I think so.

Most of all, Sabean pushed aside a well respected manager in Alou to hire Bochy when he was available, even though Bochy was not thought much of as a manager (under .500 record due to constantly recurrent Padre rebuilding) and was being shoved out of his job unceremoniously by a well respected GM in Sandy Alderson (thanks Sandy!  Also for Pagan!).  As my research showed, Bochy despite what his career record showed, is that rare manager able to win one-run games at a high rate, on average, adding four additional wins to his team each season, somehow, through his handling of the players on the roster.

We all know of his prowess with the bullpen, so that is certainly part of the equation.  But recent research found that Bochy was one of the rare managers where hitters improve when they join a Bochy team (I think it was either Fangraphs or The Hardball Times, though maybe it could be Baseball Beyond the Boxscore).  They calculated the effect to be equivalent to one win per season.  I have to think that he probably has some magic with starting pitchers as well.  It just all adds up to Bochy being a special manager and we seriously lucked out in getting him to be our manager.  Sabean made that turning point decision to pick up a career losing record manager who was being dumped by his current employer like he was radioactive waste.

Giants Posey Powered to 2021

Same with Posey, large deals take a long time and particularly from Posey's side, they were going to use the deadline set - season opener - to apply leverage on the Giants to commit the big bucks for a long time.   So it made sense that this happened so late in spring training, much like Cain's last season (while fans thought the sky was falling that there was no deal yet).  But the key thing in my mind is that the Giants DID sign Posey, that is just what they had to do.  This is the way the game is played today.

I understand the risks of such a long contract, especially given 2011 and that he's a catcher.  This covers to his age 34 season, which is reasonable for position players, but not so much for a long-term catcher.  Still, I was more afraid of the Bonds contract, which pushed into his early 40's.  Posey is a smart guy and, moreover, a proud guy, so I expect him to be smart about taking care of himself going forward.  He is not a reckless personality and he has the internal drive to push for and achieve greatness that you can't easily find nor buy, but when you have it in your grasp, you hold on tight and don't let go until you have to. 

I have to assume that the Giants negotiated conditions from Posey as to when he will relinquist the reins of catching full-time.  Who knows, maybe Posey got a concession back to be the backup catcher once a new starting catcher is identified and promoted.  He's at least the back up to the backup, for sure. 

I've speculated on where he might end up, and to one commenter's point, it is way too early to say definitely where he's going to play.   And I know that, but I just didn't agree with the general impression that Posey will play 1B once he stops catching, which is why I bring it up:  it makes no sense to play him at 1B when there are other positions that he could potentially play and still be plus offensively there, like 3B or even LF.  So yeah, maybe he won't end up at 3B, my main point is that 1B is not a fait accompli.

I do know that I have no doubts that he will move to a position that makes the team better and to save his body for his 30's so that he can still be a productive player.   He's a smart guy and will look to preserve his skills as long as he can.  Clearly he has the self-motivation to push himself to greatness, not that greatness is his end goal necessarily, though he certainly is working towards greatness, but that he wants to be the best that he can be and to leave it all out on the field, and if that makes him great in the end, so be it, he'll be humble about it because to him, it was not about being great, but about being the best that he can be, whatever it may be. 

I was slightly worried given the rumors that his agent spread a rumor that he wanted $12M in bonus when he was drafted, that he'll be like Lincecum in not wanting to sign for a long deal unless he gets top dollar.  I view getting Posey for $21.4M for what he is capable of doing as a bargain, particularly if there is some baseball inflation in the years leading up to 2017-2021, heck, it is a bargain now for a superstar type player that he is NOW, let alone 4-8 years from now.    Right now that's roughly 4 WAR contract but with MLB inflation, that could be down to 2-3 WAR value contract, which seems attainable by Posey during his 30's.

It is a historic contract, but given what he has done, especially in light of 2011, he has been nothing but historic for us.  Two seasons with Posey starting for us at the end at catcher, two World Championships where we had zero before Posey.  MVP catcher, that's not even generational, that's again historical, few catchers are ever MVP.  Winning the batting title as catcher, also historical, now part of a handful in the conversation.   And nobody could have imagined he would have the season in 2012 after how his 2011 season ended, at best, maybe he might do this in a few years, as his body slowly recovered, but instead, he had a historic recovery, and it pains me to think what he might have been capable had the injury never happened.

But I view fate and reality differently than others.  Who knows what his mindset might have been in 2012 had the accident never happened.  Maybe he gained that insight into his baseball mortality that pushed him to greatness that perhaps he might not have had he just been good from the get-go with no bumps in the road.  Maybe learning about the frailty of his career nudged him to where such a long-term contract is desired on his part, maybe with no injury, he figures he can wait for free agency to pick up a humongous contract like Pujols.   There are consequences and paths taken that lead us to this point, we do not know with certainty that had there not been an accident, 2012 would have still happened as it did.  We only know where we are now, and it is good, if not great.

And at this point, we have signed our franchise once-in-a-generation player to a great long-term contract, good for both sides (though of course I will hold my breath every time Prince Fielder comes barreling into homeplate with Posey catching), and it does not look like anything is holding him back from performing to his potential, at least to midway through his contract, with the scary delightful realization that he's only 26 YO and could still grow and improve from this point. 

I'm happy, all Giants fans should be happy and in a celebrating mood.  Congrats to Sabean, Bochy, and Posey for their new contracts, very well deserved, and I couldn't be happier. 

(Well, if the Giants could sign Lincecum to a 2-3 years deal before Monday, that could make me happier, or Belt to a nice long-term cost-controlled contract.  But Posey is enough for me.)

Go Giants!


  1. Well, will you settle for Nick Noonan making the 25 as your good news? Cuz that just happened...

    1. That is not settling for me, you know how well I think of Noonan, and I think this might even help accelerate his development as he gets better training, treatment, and so forth, in the majors, now that I think of it.

      And given Panda's apparent "handle with care" label and Scutaro's advanced age, even with Arias around, I think that Noonan, being a lefty, will get a lot of chances to show off what he can do, 2013 will be a year of adjustment for him getting used to the major league life, but 2014-15 will be the year that he has a break out that will help him in battling Panik for a starting spot in the middle infield.

      Always good to have prospects forcing the issue, managers love that type of problem, instead of worrying about who the heck he wants to put in there.

    2. That's exactly right: prospects forcing the issue. And because of the Gints being filled in at most positions, that is how its going to be. Gone are the days of Bowker, Frandsen, Freddy Lew and Ishi, where you have a take your lumps pick of an old vet or a young AAAA non-top prospect to choose from.

      I'm very happy for young Nick. He got his shot and ran with it. Now the real test comes.

  2. Richard in Winnipeg

    Great piece as always Martin. Nothing more to be said there.
    On Nick Noonan.
    I listened to his interview on a Knbr podcast.
    Another kid, with emotional depth and maturity.
    I sure hope he is a long term Giant



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