Thursday, January 31, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: International Signings Rankings

Sickel's Minor League Ball recently published a post on the ranking of International Signings in 2012.  The Giants did well, signing two of the Top 10 free agents:  Gustavo Cabrera (OF) and Nathanael Javier (3B).
  • Gustavo Cabrera (5th): Solid overall package of tools. A lot of potential with the bat.
  • Nathanael Javier (10th):  Nice swing, athletic. Has a few bad habits defensively. Could be very good all around player.
And if I understand that ranking well enough, this ranking includes all international signings, including players not traditionally considered part of the international signing date that occurs mid-year, if I understand things right, there are at least a couple of Cuban defectors ahead of Cabrera plus the Korean pitcher the Dodgers signed.  If you take them out, then only Beras is now ahead of Cabrera, and you move everyone up 4 spots, to cover just the international signings governed by the mid-year deadline.

That is similar to a ranking that Mayo did last season just before the signings started:

  • Gustavo Cabrera (1st): Cabrera has dazzled scouts with his bat speed, hitting mechanics and raw power, but he has also opened eyes with his instincts on the bases. His all-around speed combined with his aggressive style, strong arm and athletic body have brought about comparisons to Arizona outfielder Justin Upton when he was the same age. Cabrera’s prior experience in the United States could prove to be an advantage in his development.
  • Nathanael Javier (11th): The big third baseman is considered a solid all-around player and is projected to hit for average and power in the future. He has impressed scouts with his large body frame, lean muscle mass and high baseball IQ. He appears to have the perfect body for third base but might have to move to first base if he gets too big to play the position. Some believe Javier is second only to Gustavo Cabrera and Wendell Rijo in terms of upside and overall talent. Javier just might have all the tools Major League scouts look for in a prospect, and he has the potential to be a special bat with plus power.
With the adjustment, these are close, Cabrera is 2nd in Sickel's, 1st in Mayo, Javier 6th in Sickel's, 11th in Mayo's.  


ogc thoughts

Given the article on top prospects by BA the other day (and Mayo), I thought this is a good point to remind people that we had two really good signings last season on the International front.  I think the Giants did well to take advantage of a level playing field (every team had the same amount that they could spend on international signings) and concentrate their spending on two top prospects (again, basically two of the top 10), because there will be a high to low budget slot assigned like in the amateur draft, based on win/loss record, starting in 2013 for all the teams, and the Giants will be at a disadvantage then, relative to most teams.  Though, to their advantage, they are looking to supplement their farm system with international signings, and went for the biggest bang for the buck, instead of going for volume.  Other teams that are more desperate for more bodies with some talent than a lot of talent in one body might have spread out their set budget across more prospects.

On top of that, these signings complement nicely all the pitchers we picked up in the June amateur draft, and gives the Giants some additional depth at 3B, which sooner than later will need a replacement, as Pablo will surely eat his way to 1B in a few years (or off of our team).  Currently, only Duvall look like a possible replacement in a couple of years.

In addition, I've been thinking that 3B might be a good position to move Posey to at some point in the future.  It is not as dangerous there as 2B, physically, and his bat so far would be considered superior there still.  He once was a SS, and while not of MLB quality, he obviously has the arm for it and the reaction to handle the hot corner.    Assuming Posey does move, Susac and Hector appears to be the most likely contenders to take over from Buster at that point.  In any case, I hope the Giants sign Buster to a long term contract this spring, that is the thing I most want to see (followed by a deal with Lincecum long-term).

And the OF is not set either, we will have Pagan, but the early 30's are treacherous area for baseball players, and we might have Pence, but again, he'll be in his 30's as well.   I don't know if Blanco, Kieschnick,  Peguero (though he would be nice for an "All P" outfield), or Brown will be an answer in the future either, though I'm still very hopeful of Brown.  So Gustavo is a very nice injection of talent into that area of player development.  And comparisons with Justin Upton is very nice, very nice indeed.  I recall reading that had the new budget system not been in place, Cabrera probably would have gotten $3M+, so he could be a bigger talent than AnVil or RafRod ever were.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: BA Top 10 List and Mayo's Top Giants

Yeah!  Baseball America has just published the Giants Top 10 prospect list for 2013.  That means that they will be revving up their books to send out very soon (I've already pre-ordered it!).  Here is the list:
  1. Kyle Crick, RHP
  2. Joe Panik, SS
  3. Chris Stratton, RHP
  4. Gary Brown, CF
  5. Mike Kickham, LHP
  6. Clayton Blackburn, RHP
  7. Heath Hembree, RHP
  8. Francisco Peguero, OF
  9. Roger Kieschnick, OF
  10. Adalberto Mejia, LHP
Also, Jonathan Mayo, the MLB.com's prospect guru, has released his Top 100 prospects in baseball list, and two Giants made it:  Crick at 86 and Brown at 100.

Just enough time to get this out before my lunch hour is over, yeah!

Friday, January 18, 2013

2013 Giants: Arbitration Deadline Deals

As reported by Half/MLB.com and Pavlovic/Merc, the Giants have signed a number of players to deals in order to avoid arbitration.  The Giants under Sabean has worked assiduously to avoid arbitration, prefering to avoid the combative atmosphere that generally creates, with only A.J. the only one to go into arbitration (and he won, mainly because Colletti put the Giants offer way too low, not that I knew, but the media was reporting a much higher number than what the Giants offered and A.J. got his high number because it was closer to that media number.  From what I recall, AJ asked for $3.5, the Giants offered $2.25 and the media was quoting $3M range, but more under than over).
  • Hunter Pence:  $13.8M, which is basically where he should be.  His prior arbitration amounts worked out to roughly low $17M market value (based on the 40%/60%/80% of market value rule of thumb that is used by many sabers).  This amount works out to $17.25M.  Media reports that there is not likely to be a long-term deal to be worked out in spring, and I can see why.  $17M is a lot to pay Hunter, frankly, the Astros screwed things up by giving him that much so it has stuck.  I can see the Giants letting him go into free agency where his offers will determine what his true market value is, and then swooping in to sign him to a long-term deal.  Given how much he seems to love it here, I can see him giving the team a final try to beat whatever offer comes his way.  I would be mildly surprised if he gets that much, but with so much new money coming into the league, it is hard to get shocked by any salary nowadays.
  • Buster Posey:  $8M.  Not sure if there's ever a rule of thumb on a Super-Two.  I've used 30% before, and that would work out to a $26.667M market value, and if you used the 40%, you get $20M.  Looking at the two, roughly $25M works for me.  That's close to Howard's $10M that he got in arbitration (he did not work out a deal, so he asked for $10M and got it, while the Phillies offered $7M). 
  • Jose Mijares:  $1.8M.  For a first timer, that works out to $4.5M, which seems fair for what he did in 2012.  That is right around but under what the Giants signed Affeldt, Lopez, and Casilla to.  
  • Gregor Blanco:  $1.35M.  For a part-time starter, that's not too bad.  This values him at $3.25M, and if anything, I think that might be on the low side, as he did start a lot of games.  Still, that's not a sure thing in 2013, with Torres around and probably competition from Kieschnick and/or Peguero at minimum.  And he was up and down last season.
Still to be settled:  Sergio Romo and Joaquin Arias.  I don't know what the hangup with Arias is.  If I got my order right, Mijares was signed yesterday, Pence early this morning, then Blanco, then Posey, so it wasn't like they were working their way down the totem pole.  I imagine that he's asking for too much, if nothing is done today, then we should be able to see the offer and ask for figures and see what the spread is.  The Giants often settle somewhere in the mid-way point between the two figures.  I can't imagine he don't get signed before arbitration.

I have to think that Romo's side is asking for closer type money and the Giants are balking.  Though it could also be that they might be working on a deal to cover his two remaining arb seasons and go into his free agent years, much like Casilla.  His arb salary last season placed his market value at $3.9M.   Assuming he values himself closer to a Brandon League $7.5M deal, for a quasi closer, that works out to a $4.5M salary for 2013.  Maybe we can get him signed to a deal close to but above Casilla's 3 year, $15M deal, like $16.5M, extra half mil per season.

I have been wanting to see the Giants sign Posey to a long term deal and the media reports that the Giants are trying to get a deal done.  At $25M per, that works out to $10M in 2014, $15M in 2015, $20M in 2016 (total of $45M).  Assuming some discount for giving him guaranteed money now, versus risking that he get injured and not earn any of these amounts, maybe $9M in 2014, $12M in 2015, $15M in 2016, $20M in 2017 plus mutual option year for 2018.  That works out to a $56M deal.  Throw in a $4M buyout of the 2018 option, that works out to 4 year deal with option for $60M.  Add another year for $20M, that is a 5 year deal for $80M.  Both seems fair to me, given 2011.  I would lean more towards a longer contract than shorter with him.  I view him as our Jeter, someone to keep here for his career.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Sanctimonious Moralistic Hall of Fame Voter Hypocrites

I had recently written about the vote for Barry Bonds and other tainted with steroids and PEDs, but I recently ran across a column written by a local columnist who I admire, so I won't mention the writer's name, but since the writer's stance is similar to a lot of the national writers who are going to vote No for Bonds, I felt the need to answer some of the points made in that column.

Also, the Hall of Fame vote was reported today and it was a referendum against the steroid era, as nobody was voted in.  Probably because there were a number of people who voted but left their ballot blank.

"Don't Reward Those Who Cheated the Game"

This would be a great idea:  if it were done about 40-60 years ago.  Journalists can beat the drum loud today  but the real assault on the record books began when amphetamines entered the game.  This enabled the better players to be better later into the season, helping them compile better seasonal and therefore career stats.  However, even though many players came out about this - BACK THEN (Ball Four, testimonies in court attesting to Mays' usage of "red juice", others) - there was never anything done by the media about this type of cheating, certainly nothing to the extent steroids gotten, and that covers a  much longer period of time.

Moreover, the benefits of speed is clear, it boosts the athlete's ability to stay at the same level of performance deeper into the season, whereas steroid's benefits seems to be driven more by non-experts' (public and journalists) fears of how steroids might help a player, rather than what science has been able to show are the real effects (which by one large compilation at High Boskage House is minimal, at best).

One justification for this type of behavior versus steroids is that "everyone" used speed while not everyone used steroids.  But cheating is cheating, no matter how many do it, it is still cheating.  And that is what the writers have been saying, that cheating is why they are not voting for certain players.  That is, if that is really what the writers feel.

Cheating Since World War II

Cheating has been happening at least since the 1960's and, most probably, since World War II, when the military routinely dispensed amphetamine to the troops to keep them in fighting shape.  It is only natural that once these ballplayers returned to civilian life, they knew of and seeked out such medical help when the effects of the long baseball season made them feel weak.  Krukow in his morning show a few weeks ago noted that each team's training staff routinely and openly dispensed this to players (this was in the 70's).

At least one baseball journalist, long ago, must have seen this in the clubhouse, and even if they could not go after the players - because that would ruin their relationship with the team - they could have had one of their colleagues in another department investigate and expose this cheating long ago, at minimum, when Jim Bouton's Ball Four came out and he outed the players.  No reporter ever did anything about it.  Ironically, amphetamines were finally pushed out with the drug rules put in place because of steroids.

If cheating is going to be the litmus test today for not voting for Barry Bonds, then this national debate should have been happening when his godfather, Willie Mays was being voted into the Hall of Fame.  Cheating was rampant then.  Heck, cheating of all sorts have been rampant throughout the history of the game.  Today, the horse has not only left the barn, it is on another continent, perhaps another planetary object.

If the writer cannot vote for a player clouded by this, why vote at all?   Maybe the bigger message would be sent by not voting at all for anyone, because we can never really know who was using what.  And some are doing that.

Yes, certain players were obvious with their steroids usage.  But HGH usage was not, but is equally considered to be cheating and helpful by the public (High Boskage House research also shows minimal benefits), so for all we know, even players who appear to be clean are not clean at all either.  There is no real way to distinguish who was a cheater in this era and who was not.  And so many writers say that they are not going to vote, either by not returning their vote (which at least does not actually affect the voting) or by returning a blank vote (which makes it harder for any player to make the Hall of Fame, whether cheating or not).

Moralistic

Also, when were writers made the arbiters of "character"?  I mean, I know that is in the language of the Hall of Fame determination, but as far as I know, the only requirement for a writer to earn the right to vote for the Hall of Fame is having 10 years following a team under their belt.  They don't add in any language there about the writers being good judges of character.

In fact, one of the major reasons given that justifies giving the vote to writers with at least 10 years of experience following a team every day is that this enables them to be able to view baseball players with an expertise that allows them to see when a player is good or not, and thus whether they belong in the Hall of Fame.  Many writers today say that Bonds had a Hall of Fame already made when he allegedly started using steroids.  Instead of standing on moralistic grounds on which their expertise is unknown, they should use the skills that they are suppose to have developed over the years and see who should get in and who should not?

Unless they are saying that they cannot distinguish this.  But in that case, why are they being allowed to vote then?  If they have this expertise, use this expertise.  If steroids help homers (according to research found by Eric Walker, steroids add about 5 feet to any ball hit by a hitter, so this appears to be a fallacy in the thinking of people who don't want to vote for steroids users), then make some determination of what exactly is so different.

Here is a good quote from his steroids website (about third way down):


As I remarked above, there are at least five other studies--all listed and linked on the longer page--all based on sophisticated analysis of real data, and each using a different approach, that each reach the same basic conclusion: there is no visible effect attributable to steroids. In the most mathematically dense and rigorous paper, its author, Professor Arthur DeVany, spares no words:
There is no evidence that steroid use has altered home-run hitting and those who argue otherwise are profoundly ignorant of the statistics of home runs, the physics of baseball, and of the physiological effects of steroids.


Walker later had a section on Bonds specifically.  He illustrated that what Bonds did was not all that different from other players who had extraordinary seasons.  He states that there is no proof in his performance that he had extra help.

Witch Hunters

So Bonds should be in, not even close.  I've seen nobody yet claim that steroids helps a hitter see the ball better and to hit it hard.  All they talk about is body bulk, and there are 250 pound behemoths that hit lollipops while a lanky 180 pound stick with good wrist action can become the career leader in homeruns (Aaron;  of course, he got legal cheating as the Braves brought in their fences, coincidentally enough, right when he was getting close and they brought them back out when he left the team and set the new record;  why there was no outrage about that as the reason Ruth was beat, I don't know).  Bonds was universally agreed to be a Hall of Famer before he reportedly started using.  This non-vote is meant to be punitive.

That's funny, I thought the Hall of Fame was suppose to celebratory, not an instrument of punishment.

What makes it even more sad is that the writers have had over 20 years to get down to business and actually DO THEIR JOB as journalists.  Eric Walker, of A's and Sinister Firstbaseman fame, keeps up a website to sell his baseball analytics service and, first, he discovered that the offensive era looks like it was caused by a juiced ball, and second, because people claimed he was wrong and started claiming steroids did certain things, he researched the heck out of it and concluded that steroids provided very little to benefit baseball players and gave further evidence that the ball was juiced during that period.  He did the investigative journalism that was necessary to show that steroids didn't do much of anything, instead of copying the "journalists" who just spread the same misconceptions that another "journalists" claimed was true.

Read through his steroid's website, look at all the associated subsites that cite even more things in detail, discussing the physical changes to the baseball, the actual effects PED has, the medical effects, the healing effects, ethical issues, and effects on role models.  Makes a very strong case that the general public, including reporters, got it all wrong:  yes, they might have cheated (definition slippery), definitely took something illegal (at least the ones caught), but it apparently didn't help players out at all in performing better.

In other words, whatever PEDs players might have used were no different than a placebo.  They cheated with today's version of snake oil.  They are no different from the Asians today who eat rhino horns, thinking that would give their bodies some sort of boost.  Both groups are sadly wrong.

Journalists could have done this type of investigative journalism work long ago, not some OCD baseball analyst, if they were really interested in the truth and not in a witch hunt.  Here is how I view this:  the writers felt greatly embarrassed by the steroids era because they did nothing while it was going on, and thus many of them feel the need to punish the players who used or allegedly used PEDs.  When, really, they should be embarrassed twice over now, first for not only missing the steroids rise, but mostly overlooking and ignoring it - it is not like it is a shock, McGwire was suspected of using long ago, yet no reporter ever thought of investigating him closely, they waited until Bonds was suspected and even then they used illegally released grand jury testimony that basically proved nothing - and second for spreading false "truths" about steroids, and then taking their anger out on star players like Bonds and Clemens, and really, since nobody got in this year, all players, as there were players who appeared clean and who should get in, like Biggio.  They should be ashamed.

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