Monday, December 22, 2014

Your 2015 Giants: Romo Anvil AnVil and Scutaro Probably Peavyed

As reported by various outlets (Mercury's Pavlovic reports on Romo and Scutaro), Romo's return meant the Giants needed to clear a spot on the 40-man, and the one getting the axe was Angel Villalona, who was outrighted to the minors.  Not sure of the consequences (seems to imply he was sent to minors with no recourse, nor danger of being claimed; tried to research, could not work out legalese) regarding Giants control of AnVil.

In addition, Scutaro finally got the surgery to fuse his spine, which will make life more comfortable for him going forward, but unfortunately, his career is now in severe doubt, as fusion generally has meant the end of an athletes career, from what I remember about the news report speculating on this mid-season.  With a 4-6 month recovery period, at which point they can then start to evaluate whether he can even return to baseball, and the past prior record, it does seem like the end of Scutaro's baseball career.

ogc thoughts

As I noted in my other post, I'm happy to have Romo back.  I had thought (wrongly) that his family might have pressured him to sign up with LA (OK, maybe not wrongly, but not as strongly as I had speculated), but he said the right things in the press conference today about returning to his gang of four (Affeldt, Casilla, Lopez), his band of brothers, and that he can't imagine not working with them or this organization that gave him his big break.  He noted that he got other offers, including possibility of closing, but noted that the way he views it, anytime he's coming in, he's closing anyway, it's pressure time.   Of course, we'll never know exactly what went down exactly, but he did note disappointment of not getting a third year, but is happy to make money that will take care of his family.

I was surprised that AnVil was outrighted, though not totally.  He had a poor year in the upper minors and that is usually a deathknell to a prospect's career as he gets up there in experience, but I still thought that Heston and Parker would have been lower on the totem pole.   I have a feeling once I learn more about the technical aspects of what it meant to outright him will help explain why him and not others.  I still have hope for him, but right now it is looking like Duffy will start at 3B in AAA and Duvall start at 1B, so AnVil will probably be in Richmond again.

Thanks for the Rain Dance Marco

Looks like Scutaro's career, at minimum with the Giants but most probably his career, is over, so I would like to once again thank him for his contributions to the 2012 Championship.  You can't say this all the time, but truly, without him being "Blockbuster" (his nickname with his teammates at the time, denoting how he was the blockbuster trade for the Giants given how well he hit for them), we don't win that championship.  Invaluable component.

Some people like to point out that his contract was a waste (much like Huff's), but, really, there were no better alternatives at that time who looked like better replacements, but players notice when teams take care of their own or if they screw them in the back at the first chance (cough, Miami), and a team with a reputation of dumping their players (as the Niners got) will find it harder to keep their players, I think, or attract other players.

It's funny, but in our country, Wall Street is excoriated for being all about money and maximizing by dehumanizing the regular population, but I find that a lot of fans are like that as well.  As well, they don't think about the consequences.

Sure, the Giants could have counted their lucky stars that Huff played up to his potential for us in 2010, and kicked him to the curb once we got that great production from him without paying him much.   But he produced 5.6 rWAR for us, roughly around $23M per metrics, and that is exactly what we paid him, which is a great return on any free agent because the sad fact is that most do not even break even, most fall very short.  And had he been dumped, who would the Giants have signed instead who could even dream of producing 5-6 WAR in 2011 without asking for a Brinks Truck to back up to their house?   Fans would have been mad at the Giants.

Same with Scutaro.  He produced 4.1 rWAR, or roughly $21M and that is roughly what we paid him during his time with us.  And it was not like it was a massive overpay over the market, the Cards reportedly offered him roughly the same money, but the Giants went to three years with a little more money.   And Scutaro produced a lot while playing for us in 2012, had his health held up, he would have been in the 2.5-3.0 WAR range.  

If he had produced 2+ WAR in 2014 and 2015, his contract would have been considered one of the better free agent signings by the Giants, as he would have been paid under half of what he produced.  As it was, the team roughly broke even, overall, and we ended up with a championship because of his contributions.

People can be very hard-nosed sometimes, I don't see why they would begrudge him his contract, given what he produced, and in this case, it was not his fault that his body broke down (I would point my finger at Holliday's slide starting the bad process in the spine).  Or that Huff's mind broke down from the pressure of his contract.

So thanks Marco, and I hope you have as healthy and comfortable a life as you can, and thanks again for the contributions, especially towards winning the championship.

Peavy Needs a Spot Too

When Peavy is signed soon, he will need a 40-man spot as well.   As I noted, Heston and Parker are probably the next ones to go when a spot is needed, but with the announcement of Scutaro's surgery, they most probably will waiver him instead, knowing that no team will pick up his contract, knowing that he won't be back until mid-season at the earliest, and possibly never again.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Your 2015 Giants: Giants Trade for 3B Casey McGeHee

Pavlovic reported that the Giants traded for 3B Casey McGehee ("mc-gee") for two minor leaguers:
Casey McGehee is headed to the Giants in exchange for minor league right-handers Kendry Flores and Luis Castillo. ...  it’s a pretty low-risk move. After rumors earlier in the day that the Giants were giving up Hunter Strickland or Matt Duffy, they ended up shipping out two pitchers who are not top prospects. 
McGehee was a league-average hitter last year by OPS+ (he was at 99) and he dropped off big time in the second half, but he still finished with a .355 OBP last season, he’ll come relatively cheap ($3.5 million in arbitration is the MLB Trade Rumors estimate) and he has a great nickname (Hits McGehee). 
MLBTR also had a good account at their site.  It noted his journey to Japan in 2013 and his second half falter.

ogc thoughts

I would not have been happy if we lost Strickland or Duffy, not happy at all.  I was a little shocked that Flores got shipped, as I liked him, and he has a high K/9 and great K/BB, but I trust the Brian Trust on the Giants to not ship off players who will turn out to be great (average maybe, but not great).  Still, only 22 YO, 9.5 K/9 and 3.50 K/BB in Advanced A ball.  I guess I have some bias, as I noticed him a couple of years ago while checking the minors.

I like McGeHee, partly because he's a local kid (born in Santa Cruz and went to school at Soquel).  If he can hit like he did in 2014, then he's a good addition, but if anything like 2011-2012, then no so good.  How someone can go from hitting 23 HR in 2010, in a full season, to only 4 HR in 2014 in a full season, I'm not sure.   Of course, he could have peaked early, had his prime season when he was 26-27 YO, it does vary, and some studies suggest that physical peak does come early, not around 28-30 as some other studies suggest.

But he has a good contact rate and a good walk rate, so at minimum, with good peripherals like that, I believe that he's a good hitter who can get on base a lot.  That's valuable almost anywhere in the lineup.  And with his high GDP numbers, maybe he should be batting 8th, where the pitcher can sacrifice him to second, and then the top of the lineup can work to get him in.

It was mentioned in the article that McGehee had a big second half falter.  Looking at his stats, it looks like he had a very high LD% all season long, which helped with his resurgence in the first half, but then apparently the line drives and balls weren't falling in for the second half, leading to a BABIP of .306 from July to September, and a batting line of .265/.332/.328/.660.  Unfortunately, we don't know if the second half was simply a regression to the mean from the first half, or a regression to his prior poor performances.

Still, there are still some positives to see here, a risk/reward type of situation.  At worse, he has opposite platoon numbers, with a better average vs. RHP, so perhaps the Giants are seeing a platoon situation here with Arias taking the LHP AB's.   Defensively, he's not all that good at 3B (he hasn't really played enough at 1B or 2B to judge, but he's been average there), so it could be situation where Arias comes in late games for defensive purposes.  If he can hit like he did last season, then that's a bonus.

Perhaps the Giants think they can "fix" him.  I looked into his stats and the difference between him early in his career and now is that back then, he could hit LHP, which only makes sense, he's right-handed.  Perhaps he needs some tweaking of his mechanics so that he can start taking advantage of his righty-lefty advantage once again.  That's risk reward too.

I would have been happier letting Adrianza and Duffy fight to win the starting role at 3B, but I guess now Ehire's on the bench and Duffy will start in AAA.  And if he can hit close to what he did in 2014, then that is good enough production.  And at worse, he only costs around $3.5M (arb yet to be determined), and then Adrianza and/or Duffy get their chances at starting at 3B, much like Adrianza got a chance at 2B in 2014.  And this is a typical Sabean move, get a vet to see if they can get a bounce-back type of year, but if not, then the young guys get their chance.

Now lets see what they do about LF, if anything.  Appears that the shopping is almost done.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Your 2015 Giants: Peavy Pickup for 2 Years, $24M

It as been reported that Jake Peavy re-signed with the Giants for 2 years, $24M.  No mention of incentives or bonuses.  Breakdown is $4M signing bonus, $7M in 2015, $13M in 2016, so there is some back loading there, plus some accounting stuff with the signing bonus (probably yields some advantage given how the MLB accounts for payroll for the luxury tax, would be my guess).

ogc thoughts

I had been previously not for re-signing Peavy, because of his problems in the post-season and my expectations on what he would be asking for (he was getting $14-15M in last contract and might want 3+ years).

But at $12M AAV and only two years, I can live with his limitations, as you can't make the playoffs without winning during the regular season, and he seems to be good at pitching very well in the regular season.  He had extreme problems pitching on the road for Boston, for whatever reasons, and hopefully it was the NL parks he grew up in as a major leaguer that made him comfortable with us, as well as having his buddy Bochy around as manager, and new buddies Bumgarner and Hudson around.

And assuming Bumgarner's arm is OK and ready for another run, Cain's body is as healthy as reported and ready to return to prior goodness, and Lincecum will get the mechanical guidance from his father that will keep him from going off the reservation too often and returning him back to the straight and narrow faster when he does, one could expect the final playoff rotation spot to be a battle between Hudson and Peavy  (or probably Lincecum, Hudson, Peavy battling for two spots, as I'm only hoping that Lincecum can deliver a season much like Hudson regularly delivers, a mid-to-high 3 ERA season).

Peavy is Fine as Mid to Back of Rotation Guy

For me, Peavy is fine as a mid to back of playoff rotation starter, better than having Dirty as our 4th in 2010, better than having Zito as our 4th in 2012 (though Zito pitched much much better than a 4th, so good for him and for us).  He's never had a DOM start in the playoffs, but have put together some decent starts, willing his way to OK results on occasion.

Plus, maybe he'll finally put it together for us in the playoffs by being our #4 instead of #2, as he was in this year's playoffs, less pressure and all that.  Plus, players can get better, Hudson actually had a spotty playoff record until this season, but whereas before he was the ace of the staff, for us he was back of rotation.   Playoff pressure is a much higher level of difficulty for major leaguers to get over and adjusted to.

The key things for me was his great DOM% and low DIS% (PQS metrics) during the last few years, and those were why I wanted him back in the first place.  His poor ERAs in spite of the good DOM% and low DIS% suggest that he suffered from a lot of bad luck in recent seasons, relative to his peripherals.  People point out the good luck with the Giants, but that could be regression to the mean relative to before.  He has averaged roughly 70% DOM (which is an elite level) and 11% DIS (which is very good), which should lead to really good seasons for any pitcher, and if he can do that for the Giants, I would be very happy.

Of course, there are (just like for FIP and other advanced metrics) who despite showing the best peripherals, don't get the results expected.  And maybe he is one of those.   But still, his 2012 season and his 2014 season with the Giants give me a lot of hope and expectation that he can still pitch at an elite enough level for us.  Again, got to win enough games during the regular season before we can worry about the playoff rotation.

Vogie Gone?

No word on what this does to Vogelsong, but my gut tells me that this is good-bye to a good Giant.   We don't have any space in our rotation or bullpen currently.

Evans did say in an interview that the Giants are still open to signing another starting pitcher, even though technically they have a full rotation with Bumgarner, Cain, Hudson, Lincecum, and now Peavy.  Most speculation seems to revolve around getting Shields, but I don't really see any chance of the Giants signing any good starting pitchers to the rotation, but they might pick up someone whom nobody else wants (Vogie?) for a low price as SP insurance (much like how LA has been doing it the past few seasons), though there is no space in the bullpen for such a tactic right now, unless they move Machi or Kontos.

If he has pitched his last, and it appears to strongly be so, then I want to thank him for all the great performances and for making the effort to return home and do well for us, I think all Giants fans will always be grateful for his loyalty to the team and for entertaining us with his great starts over the past few years.  I wish him all the best (except against the Giants, natch :).

Me Likey Rotation

If this is our set rotation, I like it.  There is some risk with all of the starters, but really, to my mind, nothing more than any other rotation.  TINSTAAPP rules the day, mostly, pitchers are fragile.
  • Bumgarner I think should be better in 2015 than 2014, for as good as his 2014 was, he actually started the season struggling, perhaps because he was trying to be the ace (his PQS was great in 2013, but his peripherals were even better in 2014).  
  • Cain has not been Cainer since his Perfecto in 2013.  And it turns out that he's been compensating for the chips in his elbow and ache in his ankle for years now.  With both healthy now, I don't see why he can't return to his prior goodness of 2011-2012, if not better at some point.
  • Hudson had a Hudson type of year.  Look at his career, look at his season by season numbers, he is like a machine.  I don't care how old he is, he does not rely on velocity to strike out guys, as long as he is healthy, he's going to get MLB batters out.   And with Petit around, if his hip is achy again, hopefully the Giants just DL him to get him healthy faster (plus less stress on his body), put Petit in the rotation for 2-3 starts so that he can prepare well for each start and do well.  
  • Lincecum is the biggest question mark but here is what I see.  Every year he struggles, but every year he has a period where he's as good as he's ever been.  You don't do that if your velocity is that low and bad now (as some speculates), your velocity can't suddenly be good after being bad during a season, without mechanical changes, and the record shows, in any case, his velocity to be steadily dropping and thus is not the reason he is suddenly good again.   You don't strike out around 9 per 9 innings without having your stuff still.  Last year he had a hiccup early, but ended it relatively quickly, and was one of our best starters throughout much of the middle of the season.  He had a good 3.65 ERA when he sacrificed his routine to save that long extra-inning game, and given that he was crappy afterward, he did something bad to his mechanics by doing that save appearance.  So I expect his Dad's major contributions to be two fold:  helping him to keep his mechanics in good shape so that he pitches well (he has reportedly stated that listening to Tim's starts enables him to know what Tim is doing wrong with his mechanics), and helping him to get out of his longer funks sooner than later.
  • Peavy, in spite of the shortened seasons on his record (injuries generally do hell to your PQS and DOM%/DIS% before you are finally DLed), probably has the best DOM% of the rotation over the past 6 seasons, and he continued that while he was with the Giants.  This is why I wanted him so badly for the rotation until I learned about his poor record in the playoffs then he continued to do poorly, which drove me to not want him anymore.   I'll admit to over reaction during the playoffs, in the heat of the battle.  Now, especially with the Lincecum revelation of him not working with his Dad since the 2009 season, I feel good enough about the rest of the rotation that I welcome Peavy back into the Giants fold.  
Then, there is Petit as backup.  I see a lot of people dissing Petit as a SP, but as I've noted here a number of times, his poor starts were when he was suddenly the emergency starter with no time to prepare much before the game.  When he has been actually placed into the rotation and allowed to act like a regular starting pitcher, his PQS has been very good, more than good enough for the Giants rotation, good enough to be the ace for many a team, and any team would be happy to have a SP with his DOM% pitching for them:  in 13 starts between 2013 and 2014 where he was placed in the rotation, 8 DOM and 2 DIS = 62% DOM/15% DIS.

Most teams would be happy to have a #3 starter with those stats.  We have one as our long reliever.  Now THAT is depth, nothing like the Dodgers, who had a lot of starting pitchers lined up, but guys like Maholm who are at best back of rotation starters.

I think a lot of people don't understand the concept of depth.  Just having a pitcher ready to step in is not depth to me.  Depth is being able to bring in someone and the rotation does not skip much of a beat with the change.  Teams rarely have that, but we had it with Bumgarner in 2010, Vogelsong in 2011, and now Petit the past couple of seasons.  Maholm allowed the Dodgers to limp along in the rotation, but he was no depth when Kershaw or Ryu were out, not even close.  And when the Giants needed a replacement starter, they were able to trade for one in Peavy, who was much better replacement starter than Maholm.  That's not always possible to pull off, but, again, having a Maholm stashed away don't make it a good thing either.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Your 2015 Giants: Romo Rolling Home, Signs with Giants

Per MLBTR, where I linked to their photo above (just seems appropriate for this post), he signed for 2 years, $15M, with some incentives, up to $1M based on games finished (in case he becomes closer again, I assume).

ogc thoughts

Wow, did not see that coming.  Thought for sure that he was going down to LA, which I assume his family - still die-hard Bridegroom fans - has been getting on him to do.  Plus there was the Colletti-Giants connection, though that part died the moment Sheriff Ned got bounced upstairs.  That's why I've not mentioned him much, other than that the Giants still professed interest.

Honestly, I thought that he was gone.  Giants typically get their guys signed quickly, and when not, the players are usually pretty open about wanting to return but wanting to test out the free agent waters.  Romo didn't say anything about wanting to return, that I saw.  Plus, being a closer was something I knew that was important to him, and thus I also assumed that he wanted to get a closer's job somewhere than be a set-up guy here.  Or at least get closer-like money.

And perhaps he did, but after all this time and the Winter Meetings over, perhaps there weren't any interested in him being their closer or at closer money, and if he's going to be a set-up guy anywhere, why not return to where he's loved, respected, and comfortable?  And the Giants typically pay well to boot, and they did, going above what they had paid to Casilla and Affeldt previously.

Feeling Good

Overall, I'm happy.  It probably means Strickland will be pitching in AAA in 2015 - I assume Kontos, barring a horrible spring, got the Gutierrez (and last) spot in the bullpen - and I was kind of looking forward to how he does.  But it really makes our bullpen strong in that there are a lot of good to great duplicate pieces in Casilla, Affeldt, and Romo, each with their own skills and strong points, and gives Bochy the luxury of going to another one quickly if one should happen to have a bad appearance.   Plus as healthy as Romo has been in his career, his elbow has always been achy and could breaky at some point.

Plus, now Strickland can be in reserve in AAA in case anything happens to the Big Three of Casilla, Affeldt, Romo, particularly since they are all on the bad side of 30 and getting older, as our bullpen is getting on the old side.  He would also get more experience as the closer in Sacramento.  And perhaps upgrade our bullpen should we make the playoffs again, taking over for Machi perhaps or the 5th starter, as the case goes.

Now the bullpen is Casilla, Affeldt, Romo, Lopez, Machi, Petit, and probably Kontos, though perhaps Strickland (Kontos has no more options and would be lost, though, if he were not on our 25-man, and he's been good enough that I don't think the Giants would do that, trade him).

I'm also happy because I think that Romo is a good guy with a good head on his shoulder.  I can still remember the interview he gave to CSNBA the year he came up, he earned a fan for life at that point (unless, of course, he ends up being a Bridegroom).   And the Giants bullpen has been deadly in the playoffs with them.

BWeez Begone

Brian Wilson was just DFAed by the Bridegrooms, $9.5M thrown away.  I wonder if his crazed historonics with the Giants prevent his return here.  Then again, he'll probably want to live closer to home and perhaps join the up and coming Padres, who can face both the Giants and Dodgers.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Your 2015 Giants: Winter Meetings Review

The Giants did not make many moves during the winter meetings, getting two minor leaguers via the Rule 5 draft, minor league portion.  Just before the meetings, they offered salary arbitration to all their eligibles:  Blanco, Hanchez, Ishikawa, Belt, Crawford, and Petit.

Evans noted that the meetings were productive in that the Giants have determined that their best options for acquiring the players they seek (mentioned previously, in order of priority, SP, 3B, and LF;  though no mention of reliever, they did note their interest in Romo at some point, though in a blanket statement regarding all their free agents) is via free agency, not trades, due to the lack of surplus at the major league level.  Though perhaps something could be done via trading prospects (given the way the statement was made, I think it can be inferred that the Giants see better options via free agency than via trades using prospects, suggesting either that the price via trade is too high or that our prospects were not viewed as highly as some might think.  It could also mean that every time they approach someone for a trade, they ask for one of Panik, Susac, Duffy, or perhaps Adrianza, someone the Giants are unwilling to give up).

So really, nothing much happened...

ogc thoughts

Being Used by Free Agents

Other than they were used by Lester to squeeze the Cubs into giving him the money he was shooting for.  Once he got that, he told the Giants "Thanks, But No Thanks", even though (as in the Sandoval pursuit, and Carlos Lee before), they had indicated that there was still room to go in the negotiations.  They came in third this time (they were told buh-bye a day early, apparently it was Cubs vs. Red Sox, but rumors had it that it was the Cubs all along because of Epstein and Hoyer, and the allure of winning one for Cubs, and reportedly because he was upset by the low-ball offer they made in spring - though some would think something like 4 years and $75-80M is plenty good).

Speaking of butt-hurt players, apparently (per Pavlovic) some in the Giants organization feel that Sandoval had decided against the Giants long ago (including Bochy in this CSNBA interview, but I would note that he took the high road, noting that players have options and he praised Pablo for all that he gave to us).  Given what we know now, his "I got two years to get fit" statement was the first overt sign that he hasn't been happy with the Giants.

I wonder what it could have been.  Perhaps it was the threat to put him in AAA if he didn't get into shape back in 2010?  Or even before, because he was sat in the 2010 World Series, maybe he was embarrassed by that (or his entourage got him to feel that he was dissed by this)?  Perhaps it was how the team treated him when he was accused of rape by a woman back early in his Panda days?   Perhaps he didn't like what the Giants team leaders, like Posey, said to him in the prior offseason?  Perhaps he was upset by the initial contract offer (which, BTW, his agent totally misplayed and then made it all public, shows what a novice and how unskilled a negotiator that his agent is).  Perhaps it wasn't the team, maybe he is still shocked over his mother almost getting incinerated in the San Bruno PG&E pipeline explosion and just wants to get away?  Lots of different possibilities, we'll probably never know why, though with the leak that the Giants kind of knew he wasn't coming back, perhaps his side will stop taking the high road too and leak why he was unhappy (they had been particularly leaky in the spring, and drew first blood by releasing the offer information, so it would not surprise me if they do).

So his decline the past few years might be more related to his discontent, which might lead to his resurgence with the Red Sox (what I would call the Greg Minton Syndrome:  he was very unhappy with his salaries and openly said so, then once he was getting the big money from the Giants, he didn't play as well anymore, so when he left for Angels, I wasn't unhappy, but then the bum started pitching well again...).   Now that he no longer has this weight on his mind, perhaps he will play up to his 2011 potential.  Or play up to his contract, whereas before he played down to it.  Or maybe his buddy David Ortiz will kick his butt in the right way and get him to play up to his abilities.

But what I've seen is an unmotivated player, who even in his free agent walk year, could not will up a great performance (apparently he tried too hard early on to be a superstar, per Miggy, who takes walks; he hit well from, like, mid-May to the rest of the season, but not $20M AAV great, IMO).   What I see is a player who willfully under performs and stays out of shape despite a large contract paying him a lot of money, more money will not necessarily drive him if he feels that he's owed the money due to his magnificence and greatness.   He has never shown the ability to be a leader, nor the ability to be led, he has always marched to his own drum (and, as typical, he's a lefty;  I find that they do think differently), a man-child running loose in the adult world.  Hopefully for his sake, he mans up, grows up, and reach his potential.

Top Priority is SP

The Giants have made their priorities clear:  get a SP first, with the goal of picking up someone significantly upgraded, like Lester and now Shields (reportedly they were talking with Santana as well before he signed).  They have also said that they still think highly of Peavy and Vogelsong, and both are starting to get mentions of pursuit by teams (Peavy by Bridegrooms and by Marlins, Vogie by Twinnies).

Regarding Lincecum, Sabean, when asked, noted that he's a starter "at the moment" and then Bochy came out almost immediately afterward and, when asked whether Timmy was a starter or reliever, stated clearly that Lincecum is a starter, reminding the reporters that he pitched really well at times last season, and had his no-hitter (he loves to defend his vets).   I think that Lincecum will do much better in 2015 now that his father will be advising him once again on his mechanics (I still can't believe he hasn't helped since 2009).  I wonder if the drama we had with Sandoval this season will be repeated with Lincecum next off-season.  He has said that playing for Seattle would be nice one day.

About Cain, both said that he's been recovering fine, and that they expect him to be ready for spring training, and be back to his old self.  Bochy noted all the crap that came out of Cain's elbow, marveling at the amount.  All the reports say that he's healthy, and if he's healthy and no longer hampered by his elbow and ankle, he's got to do better, right?!?  Though, per Bochy's CSNBA interview, he feels that Cain will need to adjust to having all that "crud", as Bochy called it, not bothering him anymore in his elbow.

About Bumgarner, Bochy noted that the Giants will certainly monitor Bumgarner but that he appears to be in great shape and they don't anticipate having to baby him in any way during the season, though they might be more conservative in taking him out earlier to lessen the load.  But no more so than they normally do, monitoring how the pitchers are doing, adjusting to what their bodies are telling them.

Congrats to Madison for being named SI's Sportsman of the Year.  Great article about him at SI.  Revealed that he once dated a girl named Madison Bumgarner (he checked, not a relative!) and other interesting stuff, it was a great read.  He's one of the youngest to win, and one of the few pitchers to have ever won it.

Next Priority is 3B

About 3B, Headley was the main media rumor until Sabean felt the need to openly say that Lester was the Giants only concern at the moment, and that people should not pay attention to the reports that talk about how enamored the Giants are with Headley.  Sounds pretty much like a public rejection of him, though perhaps that was just Sabean's bluntness coming out to clear the air and not a rebuke.

Still, hard to see the Giants ending up with him, unless that 4 year, $65M rumor was just a lie put out there by his agent (and the rumor is that it is false), and he ends up needing to sign a one year deal in Jan/Feb to earn a better one next off-season.  But apparently he is close to signing with his #1 choice, the Yankees, for a reported 4 years, $50M deal, which is not close to the AAV of the rumor, so unless he's giving up $15M to sign with the Yankees, that was a lie passed along by someone working with his agent.

There has been rumors that the Giants have been talking with the Braves about Justin Upton for LF.  He would cost a lot of prospects, and frankly, I don't think we got the numbers or quality to do it, unless Panik and Susac are part of the deal, and neither is going nowhere.

How does this fix 3B?  To reduce how much the Giants would have to give up to get Upton, the option exists of also accepting Johnson's $15M contract over the next two years, in order to reduce the prospect haul, and he would play 3B.  Unfortunately, he does not play 3B all that well, but then again, neither did Sandoval in 2012-2013.  Still would cost some prospects though, still might not have enough, depends on how badly the Braves want to clear out salary, and I haven't see them rumored after anyone high in salary, so perhaps this rumor is dead already.  And besides, Evans has said that the trade route does not seem to be good enough right now for them to acquire the players they desire.

But Do They Need to Acquire Players?

As noted, the order of priority for the Giants is SP, 3B, and then LF (as noted above, they did not mention reliever, which don't bode well for Romo returning, though it was noted that they were still interested).  For LF they mentioned that they had Blanco, Perez, and even Ishikawa as options there, and thus that position is a lower priority to acquire.  Given their posturing, have to wonder if they will even sign anyone, more probably someone as a cheap pick-up in January/February.

For 3B, they have said that they do not have any internal options.  I think that Arias, Adrianza, and Duffy could be options.  Bochy in the interview with CSNBA spoke about how they can't replace him.  But Arias has been so good defensively there that Panik/Arias could produce as well as 2B/Sandoval did in 2014, overall, given how poorly 2B produced in 2014 and how not above average Sandoval produced in 2014.  And I think Adrianza or Duffy, if given the chance, could be even better than Arias, particularly Adrianza, who was getting hot when he got injured, and has always been a superlative defender.

But I recently realized that for PR purposes, the Giants can't publicly say they have a solution internally.  It would not fly with the fanbase to tell them, don't worry, we'll be fine replacing Sandoval with Arias, Adrianza, and Duffy sharing the load.  They would be crucified in the press and social media.  So they say the right things about how great Sandoval is and how hard it is to replace him, and when they have tried every option, continue to talk about moving on from Sandoval and using what they have internally.

And for SP, an interesting tidbit came out recently:  Giants feel that Ty Blach is underrated, and feel that he could be ready for the back of the rotation at some point during the 2015 season.   Or perhaps they want to prime the pump for trading, I was surprised when Escobar was traded after all the talk about him in the off-season...

In any case, they only need one SP, and while there has been some rumors of other teams' interest in Peavy and Vogie, nothing hot and heavy so far.   So perhaps the Giants are waiting out the market and seeing who is available at a price they are happy with.  They have reportedly been in on most of the top pitchers available, except for Scherzer, including pitchers who would cost us our first round draft pick.

I just don't see the Giants giving up their draft pick, particularly with other teams giving up their first round and pushing the Giants now to 19th overall (they had started at 22nd) and could move up if any of the remaining ahead of us sign anyone that would cost a draft pick.  Particularly since the remaining pitchers are nothing like Lester, a game changer.  The difference between guys like Shields and Peavy is worth the draft pick it would cost the Giants.

We need to remember that a lot of the "interest" the Giants show in free agents is often part of their thorough process of vetting everyone as to their availability and interest in the Giants, and what the cost could be.  If the guy is willing to come to the Giants for a low enough price, any free agent is interesting to the Giants.  But it appears that a lot of the time, it's a much below market price.  For example, they once reportedly went to Gary Sheffield and asked if he would have been interested in signing with the Giants for $10M, and I believe he signed with the Yankees for 2 years, $26M.

So I think the Giants will stay close enough to both Peavy and Vogie to judge where they are in their decision making and gauge the interest of other teams, and when one of them is close to choosing a team, make a move to acquire the pitcher they feel is the better value.  I have to think that they prefer to get Peavy back than Vogie, but that Peavy wants multiple years at similar money to what he was getting before (around $15M AAV), and thus it is a matter of whether they can get Peavy for something like what they signed Hudson to, or if they will decide to settle with Vogie as their 5th starter.

Rule 5 Draft

During the Rule 5 Draft, the Giants did not lose anyone this year, and they rarely select anyone, but did pick up two players in the minor league portion of the draft:  OF Brett Jackson, former Cal, and Ramon del Orbe, RHP.  They like Jackson's athleticism and Orbe's "solid fastball and decent changeup."  Jackson will probably be in AAA, Orbe in A-ball, per the media talk.

Brett Jackson was actually pretty good in the minors then suddenly lost it soon afterward.  A couple of teams have tried to fix him up, giving him chances due to his high proespect status, but now he's with us.  I see him in the Blanco/Arias/Stewart mode, a prospect who showed some decent plate discipline at some point in their professional career, but for whatever reason, could never really put it together under the weight of being "the prospect", and now perhaps could do it for us, in his last chance (perhaps) to make it in the majors.

He fits right in the mode of players that Barr seems like to pick up, former hot prospects who showed the talent but for whatever reason, failed.  He's been as high as 32nd top prospect for BA, 33rd for, 44th for BP.  Those are pretty high rankings, but from my view, those are the fringe good prospects, who show enough good talent to make the majors, but still have some things to figure out.  Obviously, he never figure those things out.

Looking at his stats, it seems to me that he lost his plate discipline that year he started hitting all those homers, I think it was 2011.  He hasn't been able to stop swinging for the fences since, pushing up his K% and pushing down his BB%, which used to be pretty good BB/K ratio, leading to high OBP.   He actually is a nice basestealer too.

If the Giants can get him to start shooting for line drives and making contact, versus swinging for the fences, they might have the next Blanco in their farm system, someone who can play all three positions, get on-base regularly (when playing within his abilities), steal bases on a regular basis, and he's a lefty to boot.  Plus some power if he can adjust his approach at the plate to the needs of the situation.   Heck, he could even be the new Blanco sometime in 2015-16 if the Giants go through with Blanco being the starting LF, and Perez and Ishikawa as the bench LF.

Arbitration Signings

Speaking of Ishi, they have already reached a contract agreement with him for $1.1M, and with Hanchez for $800K.  While not quite locks to make the 25-man roster (Hanchez still has one more option, if I recall right, while Ishi has none), barring any injury setbacks for Hanchez, he should be the backup catcher in 2015 and Ishi should be the lefty power bat off the bench, who also can get on base at a good rate too, plus plays great defense at 1B, when necessary.

For, as much as the Giants have been making it very clear that Posey is their franchise catcher, he has nominally been the starting catcher, catching around 100-110 games each season.  And I have to think the Giants view Susac as the starting catcher of the future, whenever Posey decides he is done.  Plus, given how dangerous the catcher position is, Susac is a great luxury to have in hand, and would want to prepare and develop him further with a full season catching in AAA in 2015;  but the Giants have pushed the envelope before, placing Hanchez and Belt on the 25-man roster sooner than later, so we'll see.

But I can't see them promoting Susac to the majors without making him a starter, which is why I've been advocating a future sharing of C and 1B between Posey and Susac, and given that eventuality, then it makes sense to move Belt to LF now and get that done and over with.  Plus with Ishi around, he can platoon at 1B with Posey in 2015, as that is really what the Giants need with Posey unable to catch a full season and needing 30-40 starts at 1B to stay fresh.   These tactics makes great use of the talent currently on the roster, with no high priced additions.

Looking Forward

I would be happy if the only move is to sign a free agent starting pitcher to replace Vogelsong's position (whether Vogie, Peavy, or other).   I trust the Giants brain trust to pick up someone interesting for the last rotation spot.  Probably, at this point, someone who has been down but had been good before, and thus some potential for upside.

I think the lineup (Sandoval/2B to Arias/Panik, Morse/Belt to Belt/Ishi-Posey; Belt all season replaces and is better than Sandoval), while not as strong, would be close enough, given the probability of similarity with some improvement in the starting rotation (I expect Bumgarner to not have that stumble he had early on, Cain to be Cain-like, Hudson to be his usual steady self, Lincecum to be steadily OK, and improvement especially if we have Peavy all season) and bullpen (Romo/Gutierrez to Kontos/Strickland, though there still appears to be some chance of Romo returning, and Romo/Kontos would definitely be an improvement).

Of course, it would always be nice to get a strong upgrade like a Lester.   Gilding the lily is always nice.  But at what price?  At what risk?  Plus, Price will be available next season and, at the moment, both Lincecum's and Hudson's salaries ($30M) will come off the budget, a great SP would be especially needed next season with a lot of money coming off (perhaps the #5 starter too, depending on who is signed).  Not that I'm necessarily for throwing the bank at Price, but Lester isn't the only big stud pitcher going on the market in the near-term.

I don't need the Giants to play smash mouth baseball in order for me to enjoy the season.  Three in Five has made me much more mellow about things, though I think I would have felt the same way even had we had lost to KC.   I've never felt the need for the Giants to be overwhelmingly good, probably because I've seen so many teams who look like that fade in the playoffs.  I want a team with good players who I can root for and feel good about, and I do right now.

We have a good enough team to make the playoffs, I think.  I want to keep some spots open for young players to come up and maybe take it over, like Panik did in 2014.  Adrianza and Duffy at 3B.  Maybe Mac in LF by mid-season.   Strickland, Okert, Hall in the bullpen.  Maybe Law by the trade deadline.  And we need them to, our bullpen has gotten pretty old now, we need an infusion of younger, fresher blood.

Plus there are things to watch for on the 25-man roster.  I think Belt and Crawford are ready for their breakout seasons, where they put it all together for a full season.  Pagan's issues have mostly been with his back and he reported being pain free after the operation.   Even Pence had a bit of a down year relative to his career, he could have a bounce up year as well.  We won in 2014 despite a lot of players not performing to their best or even expected levels (including Pablo, we won a lot early on despite his struggles).  Plus we should have Panik all season, hopefully producing, his plate discipline appears to be up to snuff for the majors.  And maybe Blanco can be a steady producer if Pagan can stay healthy and keep Gregor in the bottom part of the lineup, he's great in the 6/7 position.

Starting pitchers too could surprise on the upside.  Cain hopefully will be back to normal now that he has no chips or ankle problems for him to adjust to.  Lincecum could surprise and be back to consistent goodness again, I would take a full season of what he did last season until that save, he had a 3.65 ERA up to then, that's great to get from your back of rotation starter.  Bumgarner stumbled to start 2014, adjusting apparently to his ace status (heavy is the crown), but he was stellar from start to finish in 2013, and I would like to see that in 2015.  And who knows, maybe Petit will get his chance to shine in the rotation at some point, pitchers are a fragile species, who knows who might go down, for example, Hudson probably should have DLed mid-season 2014, his hip problems caused him a lot of performance problems, so maybe now that Petit is a proven performer, he'll go on the DL until ready knowing that Petit will carry the load well for the team.

Posey has been saying that he's been building up his stamina so that he can last longer into the season while catching more.   One might not remember, but originally he was suppose to catch 140+ games in 2014, but Belt's injuries allowed Bochy to start Posey at 1B a lot.   Good thing, look at how bushed he was in the playoffs.  That extra-inning game didn't help, but there were enough off days, I think, for him to recover.  He's never had a stellar season start to finish (including playoffs), perhaps he can pull it off in 2015.

And then there is Bochy.  Up to 2013, he had averaged 4 games above .500 in one-run games.   The team was at 0 in 2013 and -4 in 2014 (though +3 during the playoffs, I never counted them before, but I guess they count too).  He has had around 40% of his seasons with at least a +8 , and I don't think he's ever gone three seasons without one.  That would be a 6 game swing had it happened in 2014, changing it from an 88 win season to a 94 win season.

If I thought the Giants were in bad shape, I would say it, but I don't see it.  They appear to be in good shape, even if there is no great addition to make up for the loss of Sandoval, I would not be surprised if the Giants win more games in 2015 nor if they won the division.  As I noted before, the Giants did most of the winning early in the season (was 43-21 on June 8th) with Pablo slumping a lot (.242/.290/.398/.689 to June 8th).   I think Panik can easily meet and beat that, and I think Arias could meet what we got from Hicks up to that point, .188/.305/.376/.681 minus whatever crud Arias and Adrianza had done at 2B up to then.  And if they can stay healthy enough, I don't see why they can't be really good all season long and compete for the most wins in the majors like they did early in 2014.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Your 2015 Giants: Panda-Less

As reported by all our good beat writers, Pablo Sandoval has moved on to "new challenges" with the Boston Red Sox.   The Giants in their last try at negotiations (they were not afforded the chance to match Boston), gave Sandoval a great bid:  5 years and $95M, plus a team option for a 6th year, and indicated that they could go higher (not sure how that would be communicated, though, seems to be a CYA info released to the reporters because if I were Sandoval's agent, I would then say, "well, how much higher?"  Why even bother mentioning that?).  

It is clear to the reporters that the rumor that the Sandoval team felt that Pablo was disrespected and thus was not returning to the Giants appears to be true.   It appears that they used the Giants interest to get the Red Sox to up their contract offer.  Boston is rumored to have offered 5 years and roughly $100M, more details will probably come out before Thanksgiving (and they were rumored to want some sort of weight clause).

ogc thoughts

Whew, we dodged a huge bullet here!

I am one of the ones who feel that losing him is not a big deal. He's being paid way over what he's worth, in my eyes, and so I can let go. Yes, he was a nice (and fun) contributor to our grand golden era, but to me, it was our pitching that won the championships for us.  Yes, it is certainly big news, HUGE news, but for that price, I'm OK with letting him go.

Offense in the playoffs is mostly randomness and BABIP-mess, that's why you get the weird MVPosition Players over the years, like Gene Tenace, Edgar Renteria, David Eckstein, Bucky Dent. Performance that you can rely on is pitching, as Cain, Bumgarner, Affeldt, Romo, Lopez, Casilla, Wilson, even Lincecum in the playoffs.  Not all pitching, but that is where scouting and player development comes in.

Furthermore, another reason it is not a big deal to me because we are set in our lineup even without him. Pagan, Panik, Belt, Posey, Pence is a good 1-5. Belt, Posey, Pence have better 3 year batting line than Panda in 2012-2014. Crawford would have been slightly better than average batting 6th in 2014, he had .713 OPS and average NL 6th hitter .696 OPS. I think he has more growth offensively in 2015.

I'm assuming we are picking up a good hitting LF who would then bat 6th and Crawford would be a good 7th hitter (NL average .689 OPS). Average 8th hitter has .625 OPS, Arias, Adrianza and Duffy hit close to that in sporadic regular play, I'm actually looking forward to seeing what one of them can do with regular ABs.

There are other alternatives that I've brought up that most probably won't happen.  One is moving Belt to LF, opening up 1B.  Then they could start Ishikawa there in a platoon with Posey.  Another alternative is to start sharing C and 1B between Posey and Susac, with Posey the starting catcher and Susac the backup catcher when not starting at 1B (in this scenario, we could still have Hector Sanchez as the third catcher and main PH, saving him from many more concussions; he also played 1B nicely in spring training and probably willing to try other positions as well).  There are no real good 3B alternatives, just Headley, but 1) the Yankees sound like they want to keep him and 2) he's not really that good in any case, for the money.


I think Pablo will eventually come to regret this decision and fire his agent, as well as be mad at all his inner circle of yes-men who pushed him to move on because they thought that he was being disrespected. He's going to be miserable once the boo-birds come out when he hits his first tough spot: look at all the Giants fans coming out of the woodwork in April when he wasn't hitting, complaining about him being fat, and square that, and that's the fan pressure he will have in Boston.  Maybe he will finally man up and be the star he appeared to be in 2009 and 2011.  But I don't think so.

It is going to be exponentially worse in Boston, where he has no built-up reserve of tolerance and affection, as he had with Giants fans.   Fans there will expect great hitting from the get-go and will complain whenever he slumps, and he regularly gets into one, often related to recovering from an injury.  For he is not a healthy player, he will be on the DL at some point almost every year, for one reason or another.  If he thought the Giants were disrespectful, when until his first major slump.

And a miserable Pablo, we've seen how he acts and hits: in 2010, he spent the season in turmoil, pending divorce, custody battle over daughter, mom yards away from being incinerated in the San Bruno explosion, and his reaction was to get really fat, so fat that he couldn't hit RHP, so fat that he was benched during the World Series because the Giants felt that Renteria, who barely played that season, was a better alternative at SS (shifting Uribe to 3B), even though he hit 1 for 16 in the NLCS.

What Now?

I'm very interested in what they might do with these dollars now that Sandoval has moved on. But not signing Peavy though, that would be like dodging a bullet only to get skewered by a spear. Between the eyes.

The Giants can now accept a deal for either a 1B (Belt moves to LF), 3B, or LF which a team wants to dump his salary for a lower prospect, but a player who would still be productive for the Giants.  As I noted above, won't take much of a hitter to provide a positive contribution to the lineup in the 6th spot.  

The rumors is that the Giants are now kicking the tires on Lester, who would be a fine addition to the rotation.   Unfortunately, talk is that he turned down a huge contract with the Red Sox, and we could be looking at 6 years and $132M in order to sign him.  I would rather pass.  The Giants have also reported that they have significant interest in the two Cuban free agents, OF Yasmany Thomas and SS Yoan Moncada.   I'm very interested in Moncada, sounds pretty great.  Not sure what other pitching we might be able to pick up, but that would be a nice area to add a great 5th starter who could be at least mid-rotation.

For 3B, I would be happy with the Giants giving Duffy and Adrianza a chance to grab the starting 3B spot and see what they can do with regular playing time, much like Panik last season, with Arias as the floor on production, because he plays defense at 3B as well as Sandoval, and would be OK as an 8th hitter.  As I had noted above, we are set in the top of the lineup with Pagan, Panik, Belt, Posey, and Pence, that's a good looking top of the lineup through the middle, and Crawford in 2014 hit better than the average 6th place hitter in the NL.  Heck, he was not that much worse than Sandoval and was better during parts of the season.

I'll be happy if the Giants sign a good hitting LF (Morse?) or trade for one (Cespedes?), and he could hit 6th with Crawford being an even better 7th place hitter. And Arias, Duffy, and Adrianza each did not hit much worse than the average 8th place hitter, lets see what one of them can do with regular starts. Sandoval's hitting was a luxury, not a necessity.

And ultimately, not much better than any other team's 6th or 7th place hitter.  Is that what you want to pay $20M per season for?  I don't.  Let's see what Sabean and gang can do with that money now.

I thank Sandoval for his years of great service for us, but it's time to move on, and see what our young guys can do in his place or what we can acquire from the marketplace, whether free agent or through trade.  I wish him no ill-will, but I won't wish him good luck either, we might face him at some point.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Your 2015 Giants: New 40-man Roster Additions and Subtraction

Pavlovic reported on the 40-man roster additions and subtraction before the Rule 5 Draft that will be happening soon.  Being added are four RHP:

  • Derek Law:  He had a great 2013 and was prominently promoted as a possible 2014 addition to the bullpen, but unfortunately he needed Tommy John surgery.  Was considered the future closer by some (including me) before the injury.  Assuming he comes back like Strickland did from his TJS, we could have a sterling future bullpen of Law, Strickland, Okert.  
  • Ray Black:  100 MPH fast ball but wild as heck.  Pavlovic noted that teams were interested in him.
  • Cody Hall:  He has been doing well as a reliever rising up the farm, but Law and Strickland got most of the headlines.  9.9 K/9 (but 26 YO in AA) and 4.07 K/BB ratio (excellent).  
  • Joan Gregorio:  People are down on him because of his higher ERA and high walk rate, but his K/BB was above 2.0, which is the mark of a good pitcher, generally.  He's only 23 YO for the 2015 season, so if he can work out whatever issues he had while in San Jose, and put in a good season, he would be on track for making the majors at age 25-26, which is not that bad.  

As often happens, the 40 man roster got filled beyond, so a player was DFAed:  Juan Gutierrez.  Obviously, if the Giants sign any of their free agents - Sandoval, Romo, Peavy, Vogelsong - they will need to open up a spot for them and more players will be DFAed.

Sandoval Thoughts

Speaking of Sandoval, lots of rumors going around, one that the Giants already offered 5 years and $90M, another almost polar opposite that Sandoval basically was insulted that he wasn't signed before reaching free agency, and will sign with another team.  I don't want him at that contract so I'm kind of hoping he wants to move on if that is really the offer.

I can't believe that the Giants offered 5 years and $90M, though, the more I think about it.  If that is really their best offer, why didn't they offer that in spring training or late in the season, a la Pence.  Just because you agree not to negotiate don't mean you can't throw out a number and ask them to think about it.   And Sandoval probably would have signed a contract like that.  And it is such a huge leap from 3 years and $40M, that just don't make sense to me, especially given how poorly he hit this season, he's certainly capable of better but other teams tend to look at recent performances for a clue to future, and Sandoval has been lacking and dropping since 2011, a double whammy.

No, this looks like something a desperate agent would release to the press in order to make other teams think that they need to outbid the Giants.  Because, as an inexperienced agent who apparently screwed up his only other negotiation and gave the Royals a sweetest of hearts deal for their starting catcher - I don't see how he did his fiduciary duties for his client, I would bet that if Perez wanted to sue his agent on the grounds of incompetence, he would probably win - he don't know how to actually negotiate and drive the hard bargains necessary to win his client a bigger contract.  And he showed off his inexperience in spring with his poor handling of the press and saying the things he said.  So he could have released this "fact" in hopes of pushing another team to go higher, towards what he wants.

Only, most reports are that Boston only want to go four years AND place weight bonuses as part of the contract.   And there is no way the Padres or Blue Jays will pay that much money for Sandoval, SD certainly, Toronto however, has pulled off stupid moves before, and might yet have another one up their sleeves.  Bobby Evans thinks that Sandoval wants to decide by Thanksgiving, so we should soon see if any of this is true or not.

As I've written before, I think the Giants can be fine offensively without Sandoval, and I look forward to seeing what Duffy or Adrianza can do at 3B, with Arias as a floor on what we get from the position.  Better than paying Sandoval a contract that 1) don't fit in with what he has actually produced, 2) don't fit in with the market for 3B, 3) don't fit in with his lack of responsibility with regards to the $17M contract he got previously.  We will see.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Your 2015 Giants: The Hot Stove Is Heating Up

Basking in the afterglow of the Giants third championship in five seasons, it would be easy to forget the reality that a number of our players on this wonderful, wonderful, team are free agents who could chose to move on.

These are the free agents:

  • Pablo Sandoval
  • Jake Peavy
  • Michael Morse
  • Sergio Romo
  • Ryan Vogelsong

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Your 2014 Giants Are World Champions: Team of the 2010 Decade

For the third time in five years, the Giants won the World Series and are World Champions again.  Bumgarner was going to win the MVP anyway, but he comes in and pitches 5.0 inning to close out the game and protect the lead, even though he was pitching 3 days later instead of his normal 5 days rest.  He would have earned a 4 PQS with what he did in relief, had he started.  

Of course, when the score is 3-2, it is a team effort, Pablo 3 for 3, 2 runs scored, Pence and Belt 2 hits, Morse 2 RBI, Crawford 1 RBI, Panik great double play mitt flip.

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants:  Team of the 2010 Decade!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Your 2014 Giants: World Series Game 7: For All The Marbles

Jake Peavy...  nuff said...

ogc thoughts

Ugh, exactly what I was afraid of, Peavy implosion. Any interest I had in re-signing Peavy is pretty much gone.  Once I found out that Peavy had his hand injury, I was hoping that Bochy would be shelved and that Petit would start instead.

I know Petit didn't do well, but I think he does better coming into an inning clean, he does not really have a lot of experience coming in with runners on and the need to stifle a rally.  He could have been ampped up and that could have accounted for this result (not that he's world beating all the time, but he didn't sound like his normal self today).  I would have preferred Lopez coming in at that point, he was warming up anyway and used to such pressures.

I think we could have won this game had Peavy been a good teammate and took one for the team and gave up his start so that Petit could start.  Even better, I wish Bochy would have done what he had done previously and just sat Peavy down for the good of the team, and started Petit instead.   I don't think we lose 10-0 with Petit starting, thought probably still lose, but you don't know how the offense was affected being down 7-0 like that so early.

And there was not really anything positive in this massacre shutout.  All the relievers gave up at least a run, this was almost as bad as the Royals Game 4, except for Vogelsong, who actually contributed a shutout inning, Petit was finally hit against and Strickland gave up another homer.  Hopefully Strickland's confidence didn't take too big a hit with this post-season, I still think he can do amazing things for us in the future, but this was a pretty big bump in the road for him.

The offense was shutdown, but, again, Ventura survived his wildness and the BABIP gods looked down on him nicely.  He walked 5 and only struck out 4 in his 7 innings, so the Giants made a lot of contact, but once again they weren't falling in.

Game 7

This is why I advocate having multiple aces as an optimal way to advance in the playoffs.  I thought Peavy could be that guy, but while he's that in the regular season, he's never been in the playoffs and still hasn't. Had Cain been his normal self, we would have him in Game 2 and 6, and instead of two losses, at least one would have been a win and we would be champions right now.  Or had Lincecum decided that a $35M contract was reason enough for him to reconcile with his father and get his mechanics back to where it was when he was winning Cy Youngs, I could not believe the news when this was reported.   We needed another pitcher to step up with Bumgarner and so far, in the World Series, nobody has.

So it's up to Hudson to step up where nobody else had.  He has actually pitched well this post-season, the second best to Bumgarner.  He had DOM starts in the NLDS and NLCS, and probably could have had one in the first World Series game except that he was ampped up in the early innings but then settled down for an OK 3 PQS start, but unfortunately, that was not enough to beat the Royals.   If I had to bet, I would bet that he would deliver.

But as the Philliers learned in 2011, just because you have a DOM start does not mean that you will win.

Luckily (and Eric Byrnes said on the radio that he felt good about game 7, but not game 6), Guthrie is the opposing pitcher, and while he's been good at delivering DOM starts in the regular season, he has had two straight 2 PQS starts, and in both cases, he hardly struck out anyone.  So I don't think he's likely to deliver a DOM start, though perhaps nerves got to him in his first World Series start and he'll deliver.  In any case, he's also been able to limit the damage so far in the playoffs, so even if he don't deliver a DOM, if he can pitch like he has and just get to HDH, that could be good enough for them to win.

This is for all the marbles, and things are too much in the air to make a good guess at the results.  Both starting pitchers could do well, or maybe not.  Both bullpens have plenty of rest.  Both lineups are dangerous.  We just need the men in orange and black to perform and deliver.

Who will step forward for the Giants?  Perhaps Posey can step up?  Perhaps another Giants hitter can take over?

Ideally, Hudson will deliver a great DOM start, much like he did early in the season and early in the playoffs, and then I'll take my chances.

But if we are to win, we'll need someone to deliver a special moment of some sort, whether it be like Renteria's homerun or Sandoval's three homer game, or Ishikawa's three-run walk-off homer, some sort of lifting of his teammates to the finish line, to the World Championship.  Or perhaps a Hudson special delivery.

That's what I'm hoping for.

Go Giants!   Get us our third trophy in five years!  #ThreeIsAGoodNumber

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Your 2014 Giants: World Series Game 5: MadBum > Shields

Vogelsong couldn't get it going, but neither could any of the Royals relievers.  Then Petit shut them down, and that was the game.  Nobody lost their cool (on the Giants, I'm sure all the fans did), and basically almost every hitter contributed something at some point in the game, or seemingly so.  Apparently Sandoval was sick with something and still delivered.  Jon Miller noted that the Giants scored more runs with two outs than any other team in the majors, and they delivered again in the playoffs.

I was wondering why Yost didn't go to Herrera in the 6th, but forgot that he had already pitched almost 60 pitches the past two games (though off day in between), so perhaps that was the reason.  Whatever the reason, Yost had to go to a bunch of middle relievers, and if Giants fans don't trust Machi or Strickland much (though Hunter had a nice 9th inning), I don't think KC fans trust Frasor, Duffy, Finnegan, Collins much either.  Shankbone made the great point on Twitter about Yost leaving in his lefties (Duffy, Finnegan, Collins) to get knocked around like that, couldn't have helped their confidence going forward, something to watch for going forward.

With such a huge lead, Bochy brought in Affeldt in the 7th and Romo in the 8th, and some twitters asked why he would do that.  My best guess is that being down 1-2, he really needed to make sure that the Royals don't feel like they could come back in this game, especially with Affeldt with the lead at 7-4, a couple of baserunners and the tying run comes to bat.  Romo is the bigger question mark, but there's still 6 more outs, and if they should get 3 runs, then they are only down 4 runs in the 9th.

Bochy went for the kill and I'm OK with that.  It's the World Series, got to win the game, especially down 1-2.  Then he went to Stickland in the 9th and he got the final 3 outs, and by then, even if they get 3 runs off him, it would still be a 4 run lead and you bring in your closer (but ideally not).

This is fine with me (I would note that I would have taken out Vogelsong sooner) because we got Bumgarner pitching and he's been lasting into the 7th or 8th inning in each start, and so we maybe only need Casilla to close out the game.  In addition, there is an off day before game 6, giving our bullpen some rest.  At worse, Lincecum can also be used to bridge from the starter to relievers, so he could fill in whatever innings between Bumgarner and Casilla, assuming we are leading.

A-List Affeldt 

What a pitcher!  Many questioned the signing of him (and the other key relievers) to $5M contracts, hopefully they understand now.  He's now at 21 straight appearances without a run given up, only two runs away from Mariano Rivera, who holds the record at 23.

Game 5

Bumgarner has been an ace so far this season, 7+ IP in each start this post-season, lots of great starts, he's been stepping up.

Shields in contrast has not been an ace so far this season, struggling the whole time, with no DOM starts at all, he hasn't been even good at all in the post-season.

We better win this game, as we got Peavy and Hudson going for us in KC.  If the Giants can win Game 5, I think we can get one win from Peavy or Hudson, but I don't believe that we can win two with the two in KC.  It would be a gut punch if we lose.  This is must win, back to the wall again, and I wouldn't want anyone else but Bumgarner starting for us.

And in KC, all hands on deck, particularly Petit, Lincecum, and Bumgarner.  I expect to see quick hooks to stop any potential KC scoring opportunities.  I expect Petit and Lincecum to come in early before too much damage could be done, could see Lopez really early to take down a lefty or two, Romo for taking down a righty or three.

Go Giants!  Go Bumgarner!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Your 2014 Giants: World Series Game 4: Must Win!

Oy! Giants lose 3-2, and is now down 1-2 in the World Series.  Worse, the bullpen gave up the winning run, with our LOOGY facing their top lefty, and allowing the inherited runner to score what proved to be the winning run.  Moreover, our hitters was unable to hit a hitter who couldn't throw a strike three past anyone.  He relied on his fielders and they did not let him down, catching all the batted balls the Giants hitters smashed.

ogc thoughts

Hudson was unable to get his nerves ready for the start of the game, and was immediately scored upon.  But he calmed down by the second inning and was OK until the 6th inning.  He pitched well enough but not dominantly.  He ended with a 3 DOM.  OK, but not good enough.

Guthrie wasn't better, he had a 2 DOM, so technically he pitched worse.  But that's the way the baseball bounces sometimes.  Then the new KC drug, HDH, shut down the Giants the rest of the way, though Herrera had a hiccup and like Lopez, gave up a run too, so they are not invulnerable.

Game 4 is a must win.  Vogelsong is scheduled and probable.  I wrote about him and Vargas in the first post for the World Series but I'm too depressed to go find it and paste it here.  Basically, Vogelsong has been good but not great in the playoffs, DOM-wise, but as noted in the media, he tied some sort of record by allowing 1 or less runs in his first five playoff starts, until his last start.  We need him to return to his prior goodness.

Especially since Vargas has been pitching like an ace, and throwing DOM at the opposing teams.

So Game 4 does not look good.  Of course, maybe I'm more nervous because this is the first since since 2002 where the Giants were behind in the World Series, first time ever with Bochy.  Hopefully Pence will have an inspiring speech to rally the troops again.

There is some talk about pitching Bumgarner on short rest but it's not happening unless the game is rained out and pushed to Sunday, I think.  We are in a tight spot, but no tighter than we were in 2012.  But we need some guys to step up.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Great Giants Dictionary

Pavlovic has a great post on Giants terms, explaining many terms and covering the origins.

That's it!  Read and enjoy!  Nice rundown of memes of this season and season's past that still works.  I'm glad that #FreeBelt was retired.

Go Giants!  #ChampionsBlood #ThreeIsAGoodNumber

Your 2014 Giants: World Series Game 3: Nobody More Ready

That's reassuring words to hear from our starting pitcher, Tim Hudson (tweet from Pavlovic):
What I've hoped and dreamed for my whole career is finally here. There's not going to be anybody on field more ready than I am."
Also, had to share this great picture of Buster, beautiful:

ogc thoughts

Not a lot of positives from the game.  Peavy had a DIS start, just could not throw strikes to save him life, but was able to limit the damage until that fateful inning.  Of course, he got help from Machi and Strickland to burn the rest of the structure.  The hitters was able to get a lot of hits, but never the one to open the game up for us.  Bochy again was sub-optimal in using the pen, taking a close game and blowing it apart with Machi and Strickland.  Even the one positive, Lincecum's outing, turned into a negative when he felt tightness in his back (reports today I see on twitter notes that he's OK and probable for tomorrow, pending MRI results).

But, as I noted in the Cards series, I'm sad we lost game 2, but I didn't think that they would go the whole series without a loss.  Lick our wounds, come back fighting in Game 3.

Pondering Peavy

And I was worried about that because Peavy has not been very dominating in the playoffs.  He can limit the damage for the most part, but then the manager saves him by taking him out early.  Frankly, I would have took out Peavy sooner, after he gave us 5 OK innings.  At that point, he had only given up 2 runs, but had walked two while only striking out one.  That's a 2 PQS, not good, not bad, though close to bad, and much like he had done previously.  Leaving him in dropped his PQS into disaster territory.

So first, I'm wondering, should the series go to 6 games, do we start Peavy?  I think if Petit hasn't pitched much up to that point, we might see him start game 6 over Peavy.  Bochy has skipped a pitcher before during the playoffs, like they did with Bumgarner in 2012, so it is not unprecedented.   And really, I would even go with Lincecum paired with Petit even if Petit had pitched and could only give a couple of innings relief.  Peavy has shown nothing in his playoff career, and now I'm seriously considering changing my mind about re-signing him for 2015, though we still need a starter for 2015 (though that could be Petit instead, with Bumgarner, Cain, Hudson, and Lincecum, who hopefully will be better after an off-season getting back his old mechanics by working with his dad).

Sticking With Strickland

It's not called learning pains for nothing.  Some people just have it immediately, like K-Rod did, but for whatever reasons, Strickland is struggling.  I wouldn't mind if Bochy uses him again, but obviously got to chose the spots.

I still believe in his talent.  He has only 12.1 IP in his MLB career, 5.1 IP of which were in the playoffs.  His baptism in fire.  But 9 K's in 7 IP with only 5 hits and zero walks in the regular season, 32.5 IP in AA, with only 25 hits and 4 (!) walks vs. 48 K's for a 12.00 K/BB ratio (remember 2 is good and you want at least 2.4 from your best pitchers;  so yeah, that's elite, that's like Bumgarner's ratio in high school, Madison's best as pro was in Augusta with a 7.81 K/BB).  That's a 12.1 K/9 and 1.0 BB/9 for Hunter in AA.

And his blow-up reminds me of another Giant:  Bumgarner.  I'll never forget about him flinging the ball out of the stadium in AAA early in the 2010 season when he got really angry, I think at an umpire's bad call.  Need that type of passion during the game, as well as "move on" attitude afterward, to be an effective closer, and he apparently has this quality.

No Mas Machi

I usually applaud Bochy for his moves, but I felt that he was late in his changes again.  As noted above, I would have took out Peavy after he got 5 good innings out of him, plus then this would have let Machi pitch with no runners on, especially since he has not really had a clean appearance so far this season except for his first one out relief appearance.  Since then it has been a hit parade, as well as run parade.

Instead, he faced two runners on with no outs and gave up another hit.  I think Bochy is better off using Machi in low pressure situations, he's obviously battling some sort of nerves, it happens to the best of us, same as Strickland.  But after this amount of time, I think you use him in garbage time and big leads, if he gets in trouble, stop him quick and bring in the Big Boys, Affeldt, Romo, Lopez, and Casilla.

Liking Lincecum

I'm not sure what the issue was with not using Lincecum, unless he was suffering from some sort of extreme fatigue or something, or working on mechanics (but then why carry him when Kontos could have contributed).  But I still believe in Timmy and he delivered almost two innings of dominance when his back stiffened, and he had to leave the game.

Report from Baggarly is that he has suffered issues like this since high school, when he had his growth spurts and they would come and go, but never linger.  His MRI, just for precaution, came out clean as well.  He threw a normal session today and said that he felt normal and declared himself ready for Game 3 use.  Remember his rubber arm, as I agree with Baggarly that he has moved ahead of Machi and Strickland on the bullpen totem pole, you might see Lincecum bridge the middle innings as necessary in the rest of the games, he says that he can go every day.  Good time to test this out given Machi, Strickland, and Peavy's problems getting hitters out.

In Bochy I Trust

I've been a bit concerned about Bochy's bullpen usage during these playoffs, and I don't think the leopard has changed his spots, so I have been thinking that Bochy needed to see how much he can depend on Machi and Strickland during the playoffs, and the only way to do that is to use them.  Same with Peavy.  They all let him down, and, thinking back, most players have delivered for the most part, and when not, apparently there was something to fix, and they bring him back fine, like Bumgarner in 2012.  Meanwhile, he didn't need to use Lincecum, so why tire him out when you can run other guys out there, but when he needed him to eat innings yesterday, he did.

So, if this theory is correct, we should see a drastic change in bullpen usage going forward.  Lincecum would be used like he was in 2012, every game if necessary.  Machi and Strickland will get to face 1-3 batters, see how it goes, start them in a clean inning.  Bochy has been the master of the bullpen for ages now, and still, most of the time this off-season, so my best guess is that he's testing to see who he can rely on.

Happy with Huddy

He has come through for us this post-season.  Two DOM starts, and I am encouraged by this because it was exactly what he did early in the season when he was healthy and well rested.  It's been what he's been doing for the last 13 seasons, methodically, professionally, La Machine.  3.57 ERA this season, 3.45 ERA for his career, 3.38 ERA since his TJS.  This is why I wanted the Giants to sign him, and he has delivered in spades.

Here is what I wrote in my other post:
Game 3 is also a bit of a toss-up, based on DOM, but I give the edge to the Giants.  Both pitchers have similar DOM% for the season, but while Hudson has two DOM starts so far in the post-season, Guthrie has none, not even getting a start in the ALDS, and throwing a 2 PQS in the ALCS, where he only had 2 K's in 5 IP but 2 BB's.   
But it is the World Series, the first for Hudson.  Of course, he beat the pressure in the NLCS and had a 4 PQS start there, winning his start.  And he was masterful, with 5 K's and 0 walks in 6.1 IP.  Again, could be a turning point for the Giants here, again, as Bochy understands must wins.
I still think we have the edge on paper, but as the saying goes, that's why we play these games.  Another positives are these (tweets from Baggarly):
Basically, Hudson was on a downward trend with his PQS after he skipped a start earlier this season, finally getting worse and worse until his last start of the season.  By that point, it was reported that he had been battling some sort of hip issue.  Without a skipped start, but with the medicine,  he has had three straight DOM starts.  And with 10 days of rest, he should be well rested again.

So it should be a good game on our side.  Not as sure a thing for Guthrie, but he's been good in the regular season, and perhaps his first playoff start was just a fluke and he delivers.  But I like our chances, it was Hudson who led us in the early going, not Bumgarner, who was struggling a bit with the heavy mental load of being the ace (he had been aces for a long time until then, a machine; he's been a machine since the beginning of May).

Plus, our hitters are pretty good at avoiding strikeouts and getting walks, and Guthrie is particularly susceptible to left-handed hitters, of which we have a lineup full of them, plus Posey and Pence who hit RHP and LHP almost equally well, and he already have trouble striking out hitters in general, so the Giants should be putting a lot of balls into play against him, much like KC against Peavy.

I feel pretty good about this game, Go Giants!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Your 2014 Giants: World Series: Game 2

Giants win game 1 behind Bumgarner's DOMinating start, 5 PQS.  But the offense, with Pence's 2-run homer, gave him all the support he would need:  a factoid on Twitter noted that team has been 60-3 behind Bumgarner when he's been given a 3 run lead.  There was a nice article on him in the NY Times.  And I guess this simulation has been proven wrong, KC will not win the first game (SF wins game 3 on a BCraw homer though, so that can still come true).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Your 2014 Giants: World Series: Royals

Wow, the Giants are in the World Series!  How many of us were thinking, sure, no problem, during the depths of the June Swoon?  Probably just 25 plus the coaches.

I still thought that they had the talent (before the season, I thought a 95-100 win season was not out of the question, and that looked pretty good until June), but sometimes when you go into a deep dive, you don't have enough time to get back up.  So it was obvious to me, their talent, whether they made it to the playoffs or not.  Though, as I noted on Shankbone's, I've been eerily calm about the team, I just felt really good about this team.  I still do.

ogc thoughts

The Giants are going with the same 25 man roster they had in the NLCS.  So Lincecum, despite not being used so far, is still considered a valuable option to have in emergency, but not good enough when things are tight and we need a shut down reliever, like we did in 2012.

The Royals have swapped out Colon for Nix, a swap of utility MI.  They are only carrying 11 pitchers, enabling them to hold onto their pinch-runners.  They are carrying only their best pitchers, with only Guthrie with an ERA above 4 and three lefties in the bullpen with Duffy, Collins, and Finnegan.  Collins probably made the roster because he's a lefty (3.86 ERA 4.80 FIP), since the Giants lineup is very left-oriented.

I've been looking at the teams and below are my thoughts.  Mostly, I think we have a good chance at a third trophy, but the BABIP gods could decide otherwise.

The starting pitching is about the same, I believe, though perhaps Guthrie and Vargas gets swapped.  Game:
  1. Bumgarner 67% DOM vs. Shields 65% DOM
  2. Peavy 67% DOM with Giants vs. Ventura 60% DOM
  3. Hudson 47% DOM vs. Guthrie 53% DOM (KC TBA, making guess from ALCS)
  4. Vogelsong 52% DOM vs. Vargas 53% DOM (KC TBA, making guess from ALCS)  
First off, I would note that in the ALCS, only Vargas actually pitched a DOM start.  None of the other three did, and the only reason they won was because the O's pitchers were worse.  They averaged 2.75 PQS while the O's averaged 1.5 PQS, as they had two DIS starts from their top two starters.

Not that the Giants were all that much better (2.4 PQS vs. 2.2).   I think Vogie finally just had a bad start, that is going to happen to any good starter, he was BABIPed, but he's had so many successes that I think he's OK in pressure situations like the World Series.  We were lucky to win that game given how well Wainwright pitched, but then we got to the weak link:  Matheny insisted on using Wacha, do or die, in the bottom of the 9th.  Not the closer, not any other trusted bullpen reliever, the one guy he hadn't used at all during the playoffs, kind of like he felt he owed it to Wacha to give him an appearance.   And even after putting two men on base, he didn't bring in anyone else to shut down the rally.  And Peavy has never had a DOM start in the playoffs, so there is that too.

The Scheduled Starting Pitchers

Game 1 will be a toss up, because both pitchers will probably be shutdown.  However, I would note that Shields was not that great in his O's start, lots of hits given up, presumably BABIP though, but only struck out 3 in 5 IP.  But in the playoffs, you have to wonder if they are not performing up to snuff because of the pressure.  Because of this I give Bumgarner the edge over Shields in any matchup they may have.

Game 2 will be a toss up, mainly because I'm not sure either pitcher can stand up to the pressure.  Peavy has never had a DOM start ever in the playoffs.  Thus Venture is up on him, throwing a DOM start against the Angels.   Still, Ventura had a 2 PQS in this ALCS start, as he was very wild, didn't give up that many hits but walked 3 and only struck out 3 in 5.2 IP.  Our patient hitters could eat him up while our hackers could drive him crazy as he throw a bad pitch to Pablo and watches it fly away, far away.  I think this is a game where you wait for the first pitcher to blow up, then the other team will preserve the lead by taking out their starter the moment there is trouble and have their bullpen save the game.  This game can go either way, but I would note that Bochy is comfortable bringing in his relievers at any time in the game, even if the starting pitcher hasn't reached 5 IP yet, whereas Yost has mostly defined roles for his relievers, with Herrera his 7th inning guy (sometimes 6th), Davis his 8th, and Holland his 9th, and probably roles for everyone else too, that is the thing often said about relievers, they like to know what their role is and when they might be used.

Both pens are strong, KC has 3.27 ERA while SF has 3.01 ERA.  KC is better with 8.7 K/9 but SF better with 2.95 K/BB.  And both teams are bringing only their best pitchers, for the most part (I still think Kontos deserves a spot, but who gets dropped, Lincecum? Another bench player?  So I understand, but feel bad for him).   Their bullpen might be our equals in terms of talent, if not better.  But our bullpen is working on a string of scoreless appearances going back to the 2010 playoffs, so the Royals will need to better that.

Plus, while their bullpen has a lot of live arms, the Giants have hitters who love fastballs.  There recently was a list of hitters with homers on pitches over 95 MPH and Pence, Sandoval, Posey, Belt, and Crawford showed up on that list.  So while their relievers can bring it, our hitters have been able to hit it, as well.  We'll see who wins there.

The difference might be the offense.  KC's offense was at 4.02 RS/game, below average in the AL.  SF's offense was at 4.10 RS/game, above average in the NL, and they were handicapped by not having an offensive 2B most of the season and not having Belt in the lineup most of the season, as well as having no DH to boost up their RS totals, unlike the Royals.  Meanwhile, we will have a functioning DH in Morse, to help make our offense even better.

Game 3 and 4 starters for KC has not been announced.  Both Guthrie and Vargas had similar DOM/DIS in the season, but Vargas has been much more successful during these playoffs, with two DOM starts so they could be flopped from the order they were in the ALCS, but I'm sticking with that order below.  In addition, I suspect that should the Royals find themselves in a must-win game in Game 4, that Yost would push Shields up a day to Game 4, to face Vogelsong.

Game 3 is also a bit of a toss-up, based on DOM, but I give the edge to the Giants.  Both pitchers have similar DOM% for the season, but while Hudson has two DOM starts so far in the post-season, Guthrie has none, not even getting a start in the ALDS, and throwing a 2 PQS in the ALCS, where he only had 2 K's in 5 IP but 2 BB's.  But it is the World Series, the first for Hudson.  Of course, he beat the pressure in the NLCS and had a 4 PQS start there, winning his start.  And he was masterful, with 5 K's and 0 walks in 6.1 IP.  Again, could be a turning point for the Giants here, again, as Bochy understands must wins.

Here is a quote from him (Baggerly) and a big part of why I love him as our manager (besides the winning):
''You're always learning from your past experiences, whether it's during the season or postseason. The one thing I think I've learned is it's different, the postseason. It's not the regular season,'' Bochy said. ''You don't have that margin of error to make up for these games. You lose a game in May, and you still have 100-plus games to make that up.''
In other words, as I've been trying to illustrate this off-season, almost every game of the playoffs is a must win game, but obviously, someone has to lose.  Bochy has just done a better job of not being the one to lose, he has understood that each game is an entity to itself and thus you throw out all the stops to win that game, then worry about the next game tomorrow.

Game 4 is again a match-up of equals, both DOMs are close to each other again, but again, I think we got the slight edge.  Vogelsong had a DIS start, but he had a five game streak of post-season starts with 1 run or less, including a great game against the Nats in the NLDS.  Vargas was a bit lucky with the BABIP, giving up only 2 hits in 5.1 IP and striking out 6, but he also walked 3 batters, a high walk rate, but did have a DOM start, 4 PQS.  But it seems to me that again, the Giants can exploit his wildness, as indicated by his 3 walks.  But he has two DOM starts in the playoffs so far, so you got to respect that.  And if the Royals do swap, and put him in Game 3 instead, that would make it tough for Hudson to win, it would be a coin flip.

Again, our hitters are very patient hitters, willing to work the walk if they have to, to put pressure on the pitcher, to put pressure on the fielders (because our team has not been striking out that much in the playoffs), to allow their compatriot batting next to be the hero of that particular game.  That has a trait across all our World Series teams, there has not really been one hero, even if there are MVPs, there has usually been one guy after another stepping up to save the day for our team.

Because our hitters are patient and don't strike out too much, starting pitchers' pitch count goes up faster, thus pushing their opponents to have to go to their middle inning pitchers first, before having to face KC's three-headed monster of Herera, Davis, Holland 7, 8, 9.  They also have Frasor, Duffy and Finnegan, who have all been great.  So they have a pretty good bullpen too, middle to end, perhaps better than our bullpen, they remind me of the 2012 Giants in that overall their bullpen numbers are pedestrian, but they aren't carrying those bad relievers, they just got the ones who are very good.  Looks like we will need to get to their starters for big runs first and then need to outlast their strong bullpen.

Their hitters are also tough like the Giants, not striking out much, putting balls into play a lot.  However, unlike the Giants, they do not walk much.  I think that this plays into the Giants pitchers' happy zone.  Our pitchers frequently throw strikes and get them, particularly Bumgarner and Petit.  The other pitchers don't strike out a lot, but operate with a lot of BABIP, which our fielders are used to doing anyway, and like the Royals, rarely make mistakes that the other team capitalizes on.

One stat I've had a laugh at is the one about how the Royals weren't homerun hitters during the regular season, but they have been during the playoffs, and therefore that is an advantage for them.  The Giants pitchers are not strikeout guys for the most part, but what they are is good homerun preventers.  That was documented in a Fangraphs study a while back, how no matter what personnel or year, the Giants have been pretty good at avoiding giving up homeruns.  Of course, this playoff month has seen a lot of homers, but they have mostly been because Strickland apparently had been tipping his pitches.

Fangraph analysis found that the Giants hitters have a general advantage as well:
By the pitch type values, at least, it looks like the Giants’ hitters are equipped to handle the fastballs of the Royals’ staff. And the Royals’ hitters may have trouble with the Giants’ breaking balls. These are general statements, hopefully made more believable by focusing on a larger sample. 
Thus, I think the series will hinge on how well each starter does for their team.  According to this article, their starting pitchers have struggled so far in the playoffs:
Solid starting pitching has been a strength for the Royals this season, but staff ace James Shields (5.63 ERA) has struggled in the postseason, No. 2 manYordano Ventura showed diminished velocity and left his ALCS start with shoulder tightness, and the Royals have had to be careful enough with Danny Duffy's innings that he has been kept out of the rotation altogether this October.
Thus they are relying a lot on Vargas and Guthrie to come through.  Vargas has done well in these playoffs with two DOM starts, but Guthrie only got the one start and only a 2 PQS, because he didn't strike out too many batters (just 2).

Where our staff, at least during the regular season, has done much better than the Royals is in the percentage of Disaster starts.  Even mediocre pitchers can sustain a lower ERA (like Hennessey) by avoiding the disaster starts.  A DIS start really skews things and jumps the ERA up.  While Shields and Bumgarner were basically the same, Peavy/Hudson/Vogelsong averaged roughly 12-13% DIS starts, while the Royal's Ventura/Guthrie/Vargas averaged roughly 20%.  And 80-90% of the time you have a disaster start and the other team don't, you lose.

So far this post-season, KC in their 8 games has a 63% DOM and 0% DIS, while SF has in their 10 games, 60% DOM and 20% DIS.  SSS rules as usual, but KC's staff was not that good at avoiding the DIS start in the regular season.  But they are looking due for at least one DIS start.  A thin margin for the Giants, but if they can get that advantage, that is often enough for a series win, tipping it in their favor.  Because, as I've been saying often this post-season:  every game is a must win.

I would caveat, on the Giants side, that Peavy, had he been allowed to go another inning, and did that OK, he probably would have gotten a 2 PQS, it was just that it was a run-scoring opportunity, which Bochy cashed in but it was for naught because the Giants ended up losing 5-4.  So he was not that bad, but wasn't that good either, which is the theme of his playoff career.

Vogelsong, however, was plain bad, but mostly hurt by BABIP.  Still, Peavy has no DOM playoff games to his credit, whereas this was the first blip on Vogelsong's post-season career, in 7 starts, 3 DOM, only 1 DIS, for 42% DOM and 14% DIS, and 1 or less runs given up until this last start (DIS starts will do that to you).  However, that is not as good as Vogelsong has done in the regular season for us, so he could be feeling the pressure during crunch time as well.

I think our success in this World Series will revolve around how well our starters do relative to the Royal's starters, much like the Orioles losing to the Royals, rather than the Royals beating the Orioles.  The ones who can laid down a DOM start on the throat of the other team will help lead his team to the trophy.  Bumgarner looks likely, but he faltered against Wainwright the second tie.  Peavy just has never had one DOM start.  Perfect time for one.  Hudson has been seemingly rejuvenated this post-season, with two DOM starts, much like he was laying down early this season.  He's getting a lot of rest again leading into the Game 3 start, so

With similar enough starters, lineup, bullpen, defense, the big advantage the Royals have over the Giants are their speed and willingness to use it to try to disrupt the Giants defense, as well as gain an extra base.   Posey is a good catcher, able to throw out runners with his strong arm, but our pitchers have not always been the best at holding runners.  Hopefully our pitchers can keep their cool, and just focus on pitching while trying to keep the runner close enough to 1B so that Posey can have a chance to throw the runner out.

This might set the stage and foundation for what we will see in this World Series, if they keep the Giants off-balance, the Royals could force the issue and take over the series.  This is the only way I can see the Royals for sure making the Giants look bad, is via a cartoon samba across the basepath to score runs, as they haven't really faced such an offense before except for the Royals, and, er, we got beat Royally.

And that might be our saving grace there, losing all three to them already.  They can't help but feel subconsciously over confident from doing that.  It is just human nature, even though I see some of them saying the right things.

Meanwhile, never bet against our Giants when their backs are against the wall or when they have been embarrassed like that.  Like Panik studying how to hit the best cutter in baseball, to Posey prepping the pitchers on the opposing teams hitters, to the Giants advanced analytics team positioning our fielders at just the right spot most of the time, the Giants overall seem like a team that likes to prepare extra well for the other team.  And while not every team without experience screws up, KC didn't exactly do all that well either in the ALCS, their pitching let them down, and if it wasn't for the Oriole's pitching doing worse, the story might be about the orange and black facing the black and orange.  I also see the Giants pinch-hitting options being denigrated, but Susac and Duffy did well after their first month of adjustments, plus Perez has been good in stretches as well, and Arias was on fire at the end of the season.

An article I was reading about how good the Royals are noted how they are proof that you don't need two aces to get through the playoffs and reach the World Series.  What it is proof of is that when you got two teams who don't have multiple aces, somebody has to win the series, two aces or not.  That's obvious, on the face of it, but nobody seems to notice that is the reality.  The point about having multiple aces is to maximize your team's chances of making it through the playoffs, go deep, and get into the World Series.

While the Giants do not have aces this season, in prior runs, they did have them, in terms of performances, in Cain, Lincecum, Bumgarner in 2010, Cain, Bumgarner, Vogelsong in 2012.   I think Bumgarner and Hudson look ready to give us that DOM start, and hopefully Vogelsong can do it too.  Hudson got plenty of rest between starts which has got to help him, and I'm hoping it helps Vogelsong as well.  Peavy has not had one DOM start in the playoffs ever, so this would be a great time for at least one, if not two.   As my study has shown, the starting pitcher's performance in the game makes a huge difference in whether a team wins or not.

Baseball Prospectus published a preview of the World Series.  It notes that the Giants don't give away many outs, being first or near the top in a number of categories like fewest outs on the bases.  Yost's lack of usage of pinch-hitters, but frequent use of pinch-runners.  Bumgarner's four-seam fastball being one of the few "80" pitches in the league, and arguably getting better with each start.  Opponents this October are hitting .132 against the four-seamer with a .132 SLG, meaning zero ISO.  Shields leaning heavily on the cutter, which is the pitch Panik hit a homer off of Wainwright because of the work he put in studying Bill Mueller hitting a homer of Mariano Rivera.  The author also noted that his cutter has been elevating it more than usual, with three homers, as he's been hit fairly hard, so that's something to watch out for too.

Scenario Thinking

I was reading Kawakami's column analyzing the World Series - he picked the Giants in 6 games - and I realized that such an exercise would not have any value if I take a scenario approach to it.

And the theme, much as it has been this post-season, pivots on what happens in Game 1.  I think Bumgarner is going to have the game of his life.  He has risen to the occasion so very often, and has two shut-outs already in the previous World Series.  I expect him to win Game 1 and Game 5 - which is what Kawakami thinks too - which reduces it to winning two games in five for Peavy (2 games), Hudson (2 games), Vogelsong (1 game).  I also think that the Royals, so used to running over the other teams in the playoffs that a loss would put that seed in their mind, and the Giants would win in 4 or 5 games, mainly because they have Petit in reserve in the likelihood that a starter has a rough and/or short start, then Lincecum, who should be very rested by now.  I'm about 80% sure he'll win, both because he'll pitch well, as well as Shields will give it up at some point.

In the scenario that the Giants lose Game 1, I still think that the Giants will win in 6 or 7 games.  Overall, the Royals staff did not rise to the occasion in the ALCS, they just did well enough to beat the Orioles, but the Royals did not beat the Orioles, the Orioles lost to the Royals, as their starting pitching let them down.  And if they struggled to rise to their seasonal potential in the ALCS, I suspect they will struggle some, as a group, in the World Series.  They also had issues with DIS starts in the regular season as well, the World Series could amplify that tendency.

For, as I've documented here before, prior research found that offense demonstrated during the season don't correlate with playoff success (BP and THT).  It is good pitching and fielding that correlates.  Thus, it is up to each team's starters and relievers to dictate the action.

I had forgotten to check, but Shields has been mostly a mess starting in the playoffs (Fangraphs has a blog on this too, found it after writing this).  He does have some DOM starts to his credit:  in 9 starts, 4 DOM and 2 DIS or 44% DOM/22% DIS.  However, he has held opponents to three runs allowed or less only four of those starts, meaning he has given up four or more runs in five of those starts.

All the other Royals are playoff newbies.  Vargas has risen to the occasion with two DOM starts.  Ventura had a DOM in the ALDS but a 2 PQS in the ALCS.  Guthrie didn't even get a start in the ALDS and had a 2 PQS in the ALCS as well.  As much as it's said that experience is not key in the World Series, it is if the pitcher's can not handle the adrenaline rush in the early part of the game, and they make all sorts of location mistakes.  And given what happened in the ALCS, I have to think that at least one if not two of the Royal's starters will falter in their first World Series start.  That should be enough to win it again for the Giants.

However, if their starters step up and pitch to how well they did in the regular season, it will be a battle between the two teams that will be epic, particularly if Shields step up against Bumgarner, and the Championship will pivot on one key play/mistake being made at some point during the series, creating another Series hero.

Go Giants!  Win us another championship!  #ChampionBlood #ThreeIsANiceNumber


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