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

Your 2013 Giants: Priorities for the Off-Season

With the Giants season having basically been over for a long time, fans thoughts turns towards the off-season and what their priorities for the Giants should be.

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

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