Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Your 2014 Giants: Baggerly Chat 2014.04.23

I've been following Andy Baggarly's chats and realized that there are some good bits of info among the flotsam that people might miss, if they don't want to read all the inane questions that come in these chats normally.  Here is his latest today.

ogc thoughts

Here are some of the more interesting bits of info that I ran across, in order of when I remember plus while scrolling down the chat again:

  • Commenter noted that Posey does not seem to be the same after a collision with Goldschmidt at firstbase, and Baggarly answered that some have thought so too, but he asked and was told that he is fine. There was also a question of unreported concussions for Posey, which is a possibility for any catcher, really, and Baggs said he didn't think it was physical.   
    • I would note however that any injury to the head leaves unseen damage.  I would also note that while he has a horrible batting line since the AZ series, he had 5 walks to 5 K's in 33 AB, which is a 85% contact rate, so his .074 BABIP since then is probably a case of horrible bad luck with BIP and perhaps some other issues that might be going on.  It don't take much to get a hitter out of his comfort zone too.
  • Seems like Baggerly, while not there to observe in person, sees from video that Pagan seems to be hurt more than thought given what he has seen from him in the field.  Mentioned that a number of times in the chat as he was asked that a number of times.
  • Baggs noticed Morse's tweaks of his batting mechanics yesterday, where he's now focused on hitting it to RF instead of trying to pull it to LF.  That's what I've heard over the years, for hitters in general, that it's better to focus on hitting up the middle or to right, than to try to pull everything.  And Morse was 2 for 4 today with 2 homers.  That would be a huge boost to the lineup if he can get it going in the middle of the lineup, with nobody hitting for much of anything among Sandoval, Posey, and Pence.
  • Baggs noted that the offense was not as good as when they were hot, not as bad now that they are cold.  I totally agree, if anything, just seems to be BABIP balancing happening in the space of a few weeks.  Evidence I would include is this fact from the chat:   one RBI hit in the last five games, and in the last 10 games, .118 BA with RISP.  Should expect at least the team BA.
  • Bam Bam is not going to be fired, unlike what a lot of fans have been clamoring for.  He thinks it's misdirected angst.
  • Baggs noted that we have to wonder if Scutaro will play at all this season, and he criticized the Giants for not picking up a better option, in agreement with the questioner.  
    • I would counter that no free agent who could be a starter at 2B will sign here for even good money given that once Scutaro returns, the free agent signee would likely be sitting on the bench, particularly with the Giants having to keep Arias (because they want to) and Adrianza (because they have to or probably lose him to waivers).  And why would any potential MI bench player sign with us with Arias and Adrianza already on the bench and probably making the team?  Fans generally don't think through all these consequences to their ideas, which sounds good in isolation but not as much when you consider the full reality of the situation.
  • Wrote that Susac needs a full season to develop as a catcher, and that as he progresses, the more the Giants advance the timetable on when Posey moves to a less stressful position.  And in answer to another question, that position is not 2B, but probably a corner infield position. 
    • As I've noted in the past, 3B is where I expect Posey to end up, Bochy has mentioned this twice already in response to beat writer's questions, and that's a position where his hitting is still superior, whereas he'll only be average at 1B.
  • Acknowledged that there is a lot of anger about Sanchez from the fanbase.  As Baggs noted, Hector is in a tough position as a young player.  
    • I would note that there is a lot of SSS with all this, and that over the time he has been in the majors, when not injured, he has been one of the teams top RBI guys, even though he's never a regular starter.  Ideally, he probably should have been left in the minors to better learn about being a catcher defensively, but they needed him up here to back up Posey as well as be a bat off the bench.  Plus, I don't blame bench players for how poorly a team is overall, it is but another factor in the team's overall picture, in my mind.  It's reaching to focus on bench players, to me.  Plus maybe today's grand slam will shut some of these naysayers up.
  • He advocated for Posey batting third when asked if Posey would make a good #2 hitter.  
    • I would note that sabermetrics have found in various studies that you don't want your best hitter batting 3rd, maybe #2 or cleanup, but not #3 because there are more 2 out situations at that part of the lineup, because of the whole starting out the game 1-2-3, and a large percentage of those ABs for #3 is with 2 outs.  I would also note that he don't run well, which is traditionally a thing you look for from your #3 hitter.  I like Pablo there solely because 1) Bochy likes to keep hitters steady in one spot in the lineup and 2) Sandoval is so inconsistent in hitting that the inconsistency does not hurt as much in the #3 spot as it would if he hit 4 or 5.  Sounds like Belt will get that spot eventually, which works in that he's a pretty good baserunner with some speed, so that he can rack up double digit steals if he focused on it like Pence has, and maybe Belt will once he gets his hitting down to a science.  And that he'll hit not as well against LHP.
  • Baggs noted that there were no talks with Romo about an extension.  Noted the $125M the Giants already have committed for 2015, and needs for LF, 5th starter, 2B, whereas they got Affedlt and Casilla for closing, as well as Hembree and Law in the minors, so it's hard to commit more funds to a closer.  
    • Personally, I think that 5th starter and 2B in 2015 will have minor league prospects competing for both.  I don't think Vogelsong returns, even if he straighten up and have a good season, because a bunch of our prospects should be ready among Petit, Escobar, Blackburn, Crick, and Blach to take the starting spot, as the Giants like to leave a spot open for top prospects.  Likewise for 2B, Panik, assuming he continues to hit, should be in strong consideration for that spot, along with Adrianza, who I think will show enough to consider that next season.  Even LF might be left open because if Brown continues to hit well, they might want to give him a chance to win a spot in CF and push Pagan to LF.  The countervailing factor to all this is that Sabean don't like having so many open spots for prospects, so I would bet that either Morse is re-signed to start in LF or another LF is signed to be the starter, around the same salary.
    • For Romo, I think the Giants remember another closer very dependent on the slider, Nen, and how his big contract hampered the team for years after they caught up with his body.  So, one, they are going to wait until the end of the season and see how he is doing physically.  Two, his side probably wants a lot of money, closer money, and with so many other options and two, Hembree and Law, almost ready to perform in the majors, they will take their chances plus probably offer the qualifying offer to him in order to get a draft pick, and if he accepts - not likely though as a reliever relying on the slider hoping to get a big multi-year deal that closers get - the Giants get a closer for 2015 so that Hembree and or Law will be ready to take over in 2016.
  • Someone threw up the idea of trading one of our pitching prospects for Martin Prado, and Baggs thought that "really isn't a bad thought at all."  I agree, seems logical given how poorly AZ has played so far and how the Giants trade for players.  It also works as insurance should Pablo not re-sign, if we need to start Scutaro or Panik at 2B in 2015, we could shift Prado to 3B.  Noted that Panik probably plays in Fresno all year, particularly in light that he's not on the 40 man right now.
  • Baggs noted, "Escobar wasn't so polished this spring and he wasn't as ready as the front office had hoped."  I noted a prior negative comment of Baggs regarding Escobar on another blog and got my comment deleted again.  I'm getting sick and tired of that, I'm not going to waste my comments there anymore, I hope that author reads this and stop here as well.  We can each lurk at each other's site, just like how he lurks elsewhere.  I'm fine with that.  
  • Noted that Brown won't be called up just based on numbers, as they don't trust AAA numbers, they will call him up when they think he has a sustainable approach against big league pitching as well as when they have a need.  
    • I would agree with that, Blanco probably starts if anyone goes down, and Colvin probably comes up to fill in until the OF returns.  Brown would probably need to hit over 1.000 OPS in order to be considered for call up this season.  He's a prospect that they would only call up when they think that he is up for good, at least right now.  If you see him suddenly playing LF or RF, then they are preparing him to be a backup OF, then he could be up when they need someone.  Right now, I see him as a replacement for Blanco once Gregor gets too expensive to keep around, until he starts hitting better and consistently, over a full season, and gets the team thinking he is close.
  • Baggs note that the rotation is always the biggest area of concern for the Giants, because they cannot win without pitching. He also reiterated that he thinks the hitting will come around.  I agree that the hitting will come around and that pitching is always the key to the Giants winning, both during the season as well as in the playoffs.
  • Baggs is all for expanding rosters to 27 players and eliminating the DH in the DL.  I agree with that stance.
  • He noted the "awful ball/strike umpiring lately."  I agree, this is already at least the 5th game where I heard that the strike calls have been bad, and we are only at game 22 today.  This is unacceptable, the umpires appear to be wanting baseball to replace them with machines.  
Well, I though it would be short but you know how it goes with me...


  1. Your observations about replacing Scutaro seem to me dead on: what really good replacement for a starter is going to sign if he thinks he will end up on the bench, should that starter return? Baggs blames Sabean for not getting a strong MI to play during Scutaro's indeterminate stay on the DL, but does not identify such a player or explain who'd be off the roster as a result--this strikes me as irresponsible.

    As to Prado, we surely would benefit from having him. But how? He's a player the D-Backs valued enough to trade Upton for him. Wouldn't one expect that trading for him would be costly? and whom would he replace on the roster? I wish that anyone who suggests a trade would feel obliged to specify whom, precisely, would the Giants lose in a plausible trade, and who would find himself displaced as a result.

    1. Good points about Prado. Yes, I don't like that either (suggest trades without plausibility) but I'm often guilty of it as well. Shankbone makes the great point that it's within the division, and that's a strong consideration as well. His blog has a post about how there hasn't been many trades with them. I would also note that there might still be lingering animosities between the Giants and literally Giants South, as there were a large number of former Giants personnel, including their stats guy (forgot his name...), who moved on to the D-backs and then they were led to a championship by Matt Williams before we even sniffed of winning one. Plus they took away our AAA franchise.

      Still, you never know. They might be willing to take a bunch of starters for him, they always need pitching. Plus, they are losing badly and he's not a building block, that trade of Upton was as much about getting rid of him as it was getting Prado who they could sign. And we are building up quite a bundle of pitchers, can't roster all of them, nor are all of them rosterable (there's always attrition).

      But yeah, most likely, can't get him.

  2. I missed the chat, thanks for the summary.

    Intra-division trades are a non-starter, and as Campanari ably points out, no way are the D-backs giving up a guy they gave up for Justin Upton.

    I do have some criticism of not backing up Scutaro and Sandoval though. Its a pretty glaring and obvious need. I would be chatting up the Mets for Daniel Murphy something fierce right now if I'm the Greybeards. Now, just like with Manny Burriss a couple years ago, I imagine Sabean's first line is "let's hope like hell" and then we'll figure out something else when that time comes. And there aren't a lot of obvious guys, but they did have discussions with the Detroit 2B before he signed with KC.

    I agree completely with your sentiments on bench players. So much is put up about these types. Go check backup catchers around the league why don't you naysayers? That would be too much work.

    Checking B/R, we actually have almost all of our hitters in positive and good OPS+ levels. Obviously its the hot start followed by some dead ball baseball, but the only real outlier is one Pablo Sandoval, who is at a sweet 59 OPS+ currently. The bench has been pretty bad at hitting, but it is... the bench. And they are all good defensive players.

    I am most worried about the starting pitching. Live and die on that, and its been pretty hit or miss. If Escobar can't hack it, a trade is going to be coming. Vogelsong has another 4-5 starts to get it right methinks.

    1. You are kind to call such a long post a "summary". More of a select highlights is the way I would put it.

      Big names who got traded end up being traded again all the time. There's that prospect catcher that you don't care for much, I think he's with the Mets now.

      Trades right now is deadly business: you will lose an arm and a leg in any deal done now, in the first couple of months of the season. Sure, chat up now, but that sets the table for a deal in June/July.

      Arias is an adequate backup for Sandoval at 3B because of how poorly Sandoval had played 3B defensively in recent seasons and how well Arias is there. Don't quite make up the whole difference in offensive WAR, but no replacement player ever does.

      That Detroit 2B (was it Polanco?), he was being pursued to be our LF in 2014 then see what happens in 2015. So then we wouldn't have signed Morse. I prefer having Morse, I like his personality along with his power, and really, he seems like he's a good hitter more than a power hitter, from hearing him talk about hitting.

      With a deep lineup, I think the handling of 2B is fine, they are the guys we can bury batting 8th where they don't hurt us as much offensively. Especially with Crawford looking like he's developing further. And I still like Adrianza to start eventually if neither Arias or Hicks (both poor defensively at 2B), his defense could make all worries about offense moot.

      There is not going to be any trade, I believe, not with all the prospects we have in the minors. Vogelsong will get starts to mid-May at minimum, and if he can right himself enough, so that he has an OK start every other start, that's enough for him to keep his job, I think.

      Petit is the new starter if Vogie is demoted to long relief (and he'll be gone fast if he fails that, probably Kickham is next in line there, unless we figure out a way to keep Huff) and I expect him to do at least OK if not well there. He has been very good for us since we got him, but even if not, he bridges us to the second half of 2014, where we could either deal for a pitcher, as you suggest, or more likely, I think the Giants will give Escobar, Blackburn, Blach, Crick tries at holding the job.

      And still, I think Vogie will do enough to hold the job indefinitely, if he can be at least Zito-like (roughly low-to-mid 4's ERA), he keeps the job, high 4's means he gets to stick around, it is in the 5's where his job security is gone. I think he's figuring it out right now, after struggling for a year, but once he gets that locked in, he'll be aces for us.

  3. I don'e want to debate the merits of Murphy, a good hitter and defensive liability (according to Fangraphs) with a ca. $6M contract, pretty hefty for a back-up player. But again, why should the Mets want to trade Murphy? The degree of their desire to do so measures the cost to the Giants in terms of value (=promising players) to be surrendered. Which players, Shankbone, do you see as sufficient to get Murphy from the Mets? What players on the Giants would get bounced, if not traded, in a configuration with Murphy? ZIPS and Steamer predict Murphy at 1.5-1.9 WAR in 2014; he is at .4 so far. Might that rather modest prediction for DM make one think that Sabean would do at least as well to go with Hicks (small sample: also at .4 so far, in about 60% of the playing time as Murphy), until the stats have some predictive force and the pennant races start getting sorted out, when the trade situation alters as a result? That strategy isn't "hopes like hell," and it lets a number of considerations be taken into account.

    1. Long and short of it is this: the Mets are extremely tight on salary. They don't really want to pay him his 6MM right now, and have no long term plans with him. He's not that old. Does this start to ring a bell? He can hit, he's a legit 280-290 hitter in the show. He's always had troubles with fielding, but he's hard working and has improved. The mets cannot get that much for him, he's a small piece. These type of small adjustment (at 2B no less) has paid big dividends for the Giants in the past 4 years. Sandy Alderson doesn't like Murphy - he doesn't walk enough, he has his warts.

      The Giants wouldn't have to give up a lot. It'd be a B-list arm.

      Hicks hasn't been bad. He needs to tighten up his D. He has actually been drawing walks to go with the big contact issues.



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