Sunday, April 13, 2014

Your 2014 Giants: Affeldt Close to Returning, But Then Who Goes?

There is a nice article by Baggerly about this topic.

ogc thoughts

I was wondering before about what happens when Affeldt returns, and one of my scenarios revolved around carrying one less bench player (Perez) in order to carry an extra reliever, since Perez still has options and none of the pitchers do.  This article by Baggerly (and reported by the other beat writers), notes that the Giants are considering that option.

That's because when Affeldt returns, and probably soon, someone gets voted off the 25-man roster, and all the relievers are doing well among those who might be dropped:  Machi, Petit, Huff, Gutierrez.

  • Machi has been relied on heavily and has delivered, again:  6 appearances, tied for most on the staff, 0.00 ERA, 5.2 IP, 6 hits and only 1 walk (IBB too) with 6 K's and no runs at all.  Machi did allow 1 of 2 inherited runners to score, but he was around average last season for the team, he allowed 12 of 35 to score or 34% and the team average was 29%.
  • Petit has a high ERA, but after his first bad appearance has been pretty good, 4 appearances, 5.0 IP, 4 hits, 1 R/ER, 0 walks and 6 strikeouts.   And he might be suffering some bad luck, .308 BABIP in those 4 games (excluding that bad first relief appearance).  He didn't have any inherited runners to handle.
  • Huff has 5 appearances too, 3.60 ERA, 5.0 IP, 4 hits, 2 walks, 4 K's, and one homer.  That's probably the worse of the bunch so far this season.  And out of 3 inherited runners, only 1 scored.
  • Gutierrez has 6 appearances, tie for most, 2.70 ERA, 6.2 IP, 5 hits, 1 walk (IBB) and 7 K's.  He has kept both inherited runners from scoring.  

So this could make sense in the short term (as Baggerly detailed).  For one, the rotation has not been going deep into games, outside of Bumgarner and Hudson.  Also, there are 15 games in 16 days, a very odd occurrence at the beginning of the season, there are usually plenty of open dates in the start of the season, that is why August tends to have so little, maybe two off days in the whole month, and that stretches normally into the end of July as well as the start of September, making it a very long stretch of days without many days of rest.

Plus, I would note that the Giants will be headed to Colorado soon, that could lead to short starts and long relief games.  Particularly with Vogelsong currently slated for the first start in Colorado, the bullpen should be depleted in the first game.  Vogie has a 5.18 ERA there, and while he had a good start there in 2011, he had two bad starts there in 2012.

In addition, Bochy has been able to keep playing Morse deeper into games, since his bat has been hot plus his defense has been OK so far.  That would enable Bochy to not need the extra outfielder while they hold onto the relievers until they need to make a decision on who will get waived.  In addition, Adrianza would play LF in a pinch.  Belt too, but Bochy has shown a reluctance to move around his starters position, if he can avoid it.   Still, Bochy could move Hanchez/Posey to 1B and Belt to LF, as a viable option to take.

Sometimes, as Bochy notes, the situation resolves itself, as a pitcher either gets injured or starts to throw poorly.  Still, as the saying goes, all the relievers are making it hard on the Giants to drop any of them.

But sometimes it comes to push and shove, then the Giants will need to waive someone.  If I had to bet earlier, I would have bet on Gutierrez, but every time he comes in, he's throw mid-90's fastballs and getting guys out.  The team needs guys with heaters like that, how did AZ ever let him go?  Machi, all the news I heard from the broadcasters is that Bochy loves him, and he has mid-90's heat too.  Petit did too well last two seasons in the majors, plus did well in the minors, for the team to drop him over one bad appearance out of five (something a lot of fans did not get, many thought his poor spring cost him his job).

So that leaves Huff as the odd-man out eventually, by this reckoning.  He throws in the low 90's, and his best pitches appears to be the cutter and changeup, since he uses both a lot.  He does seem to have anything extraordinary that makes him more valuable than other relievers, other than that he could pitch long relief.  With Petit around, that is not as necessary.  I also wondered if he being around was a case of risk mitigation, that is, in case Vogelsong does not figure things out, Petit would become the starter most probably, but then who would be long relief?   That would be a good reason to keep Huff around, not only for probability of short starts early in the season, but to take Petit's spot later, if needed.

If he proves to be the odd man out, Affeldt injury essentially cost him his MLB job, because by most accounts, the beats said that he was going to make the team because the expectation was that there will be many short starts, with Lincecum and Vogelsong in the rotation.  Had Affeldt not stupidly not pitched without his brace - he admitted that it was a dumb move and he had no good reason for why he did it - Huff would have stayed on the roster as long as he as producing.  It was Gutierrez who got Affeldt's spot when he went on the DL, and he has made the most of his opportunity so far.

Morse Code

In addition, I know that a lot of people, particularly sabers, hated the signing, noting his inability to field his position well while he has been an inconsistent hitter.  Essentially, his poor defense would counter whatever offensive value he might put up.  I would offer up an alternative scenario:  he gives Bochy a great offensive weapon when he needs one, but he has great defensive weapons in Blanco and Perez, should he need them instead.

Whenever an NL team gets into the playoffs, they are generally at a disadvantage because they never had a great hitter on the bench waiting to become the DH when playing in the AL park, giving the AL teams an advantage when playing in their park.

Enter Morse, who is the titular starter, but as Bochy has shown in prior playoffs (Sandoval, Zito, Lincecum, etc.), he has no problem sitting down one guy if he thinks that maximizes the team's chances of winning, vs. handling players differently during the season because the goal there is to make it through the season with a playoff spot, so sometimes you don't make the optimal move that maximizes your chances of winning, particularly early in the season when you are still close, because you sometimes need to involve a bench player or rest a position player, or strategic things like those that a manager has to make as a compromise in order to make it through a long season.

So Morse might find himself getting all the DH duties should the Giants be fortunate enough to make the World Series, while sitting out other games where the starter might be a flyball pitcher (like Cain) that sends balls his way, and starting in games where the starter might be a groundball pitcher, and his lack of range is not as important.  Or maybe the other starter is not that good, so Bochy might rather go with Blanco's defense, expecting the rest of the lineup to hit the starter.  He can configure the lineup to account for the opposing pitcher strength/weaknesses as well as our own starter's strength/weaknesses.  Bochy is not beholden to keep Morse out there if he feels another OF would give the Giants a better chance of winning.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, I try to, and I know I fall short often, but I always give best efforts.

      That was the one "grade" I could depend on getting an "A' in elementary school, "enthusiasm" or something like that, which I've interpreted to mean "best efforts". :^)

  2. As you know, I am a habitual tweaker. About Morse, I should have added that I think the Giants offense even without him was still pretty good, even if they had decided to start Blanco in LF instead, as most complainers about the signing noted. Again, he's not here to make the team better necessarily during the regular season, for as most WAR analysis showed, he was pretty much between 0 and 1 WAR, some thought closer to zero. He's here to help improve the team in the World Series, when most NL teams don't have a legit DH.

    The upside is that if he can stay healthy as he did in his breakout seasons, he could add something offensively to the team. And while he's not that agile an outfielder in LF, most LF are statues out there, that was why Freddie Lewis was rated so highly defensively even though our eyes told us that he's a terrible fielder out there, misplaying balls but then his speed would make up for that and that's better than most of the statues out there.

    The Giants seem to be able to help their OF's do better, both Burrell and Huff came here with bad defensive reps and the advanced defensive metrics were actually positive for them with us. Even Pence, with his speed, wasn't that good in his years before us, but he was able to do well with us last season. His UZR was -6.3 total from 2010 to 2012, but in 2013 it was 5.5 and this season he's on a 5.6 seasonal pace. His DRS was bad last season, but mostly because of his arm, which to me seems like an anomaly because his arm had been good his whole career, seems like a fluke (that is why I'm still not sold on advanced defensive metrics; still, got to use what is available).

    For Morse, it is the reverse, UZR hates his defensive abilities, HATES, while DRS, is not quite as bad. That makes a huge difference in how his value is evaluated, which defensive metric you want to use affects his worth greatly. He's on a 5 WAR pace per while Fangraphs, which uses UZR, has him around 2.5 WAR, because his UZR/150 is roughly -5 WAR...

  3. D notwithstanding, I'll take The Beast in the lineup as I love the way he extends it.

    Last G's lineup with this power was Bonds, Kent, & Ellis B - this one's deeper.

    1. Yeah, I love this lineup. It's not only deep, but really, who is the weak hitter in the group? Crawford is showing that his good start last year was no fluke (and his peripherals previously showed that he's a good judge of the strike zone and able to get his bat on the ball well enough to put it in play), and that leaves 2B, which is mainly Hicks right now, and he's probably not that bad on offense.

      Yeah, really happy with Morse right now, and he comes ready made with a nickname that fits in with the Panda and Girafe, plus there were the water buffaloes before. I was really stoked when I looked at his stats with the Mariners before he got hurt, he really is a beast when his bat is going good.

      And I already felt our lineup was good enough without him, but I like the way this is working out, we can throw the offense out there, but then when we need to tighten up and keep the lead, bring in great defense in Blanco and Perez, both premium defenders.


    As Baggarly reported, Perez was optioned for Affeldt. After the extra-inning winner last night where all the relievers got into the game, that was not too surprising, they needed the extra arm to help. The question now is how long will this last before Bochy wants his OF back?

    I wonder if they are going to try Adrianza out in LF or not. That would give him more opportunities to play, and his speed would help his range out there to make up for his inexperience playing the position.



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