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.


  1. Agree with your article. At the time of Scutaro's contract - I said that it was a reward for 2012, and nothing has changed since then.

  2. Scutaro produced 2.7 fWAR the first season of that contract, 2013, in 543 PA. He had a 112 wRC+. That beats the 2013 production of Sandoval, 2.3 fWAR, 116 wRC+, or at least roughly equals it, and ditto Sandoval in 2014, 3 fWAR, 111 wRC+. Even at Scutaro's age, the Giants would ordinarily have expected another 4 fWAR from him in 2014 and 2015. Deterioration was predictable, but thoroughly crippling injury was not.

    It's hard to see, then, why one should think of his contract as a reward for 2012, when it was such a roaring success for the team in 2013. As OGC indicates, without an injury and with simply the effects of age, the contract would have rewarded the Giants with above-market value.

  3. To say Scutaro's contract wasn't a reward is to ignore his pay history prior to 2012. Equally, to think he would be able to perform well and/or continue to play given his age - simply ridiculous.
    The oldest 2B in the entire NL right now is Chase Utley - who is 36 and is well known for injury propensity.
    The 2nd oldest is 32 - Aaron Hill.
    Scutaro was 37 in 2012, and he'd be 40 now.

    1. Though I never stated it above, yes, it was a reward contract for Scutaro, I agree with that impression of the contract. But the contract the Giants gave him was likewise in line with his career pay as well as market rates as well. If anything was really the reward, it was the third year.

      My point is that if you look at his entire Giants career and compare it with what he was paid, he was fairly paid at going market rates, roughly.

      And at the time he was signed, he was apparently healthy and still producing at an average rate, given normal aging patterns, the contract was a fair deal that would have been worth it alone had that back injury not take him out. And the contract, to me, was to cover him starting but also him transitioning over to Panik (or Adrianza) at some point during the three seasons, with Scutaro taking on a bench/statesman role. Had he been even able to play such a role in 2014-2015, then he probably would have produced the contract value, as he was so good in his short time in 2013.

      And yes, he was 37 in 2012 and produced good value. He was 38 in 2013 as well and produced good value. Sure, history does not favor that an older player could produce at an older age, but that's the thing people forget, history has nothing to do with the person being examined. Each person is individual. That's why Omar Vizquel was still producing as a SS into his 40's, Jeter as well, limiting to just 2B is too limiting, MI is the better comparison point.

      And there has been a number of studies that have found that there are players who get past 35 and are still producing at good levels in spite of their age, like Sctuaro was doing until his back problems took him out.

    2. No disagreements - merely noting that age is very much correlated with career ending injuries.
      The Giants were fortunate to get a good 2013 from Scutaro - anything more would have been a huge bonus, but it doesn't look like it is going to happen. Certainly there have been 'reward' contracts signed by the Giants where follow on performance does not occur - Huff, for example.
      Nonetheless, I feel nothing but gratitude for the contribution Marco Scutaro made as a Giant, and wish the best to him.

    3. I don't want to extend this discussion into a chain of pointless arguments about labels, and will quit with one last observation: since, as OGC mentions, the Giants offered Scutaro this contract to keep him from going to the Cardinals. Were the Cards trying to punish the Giants by stealing the guy who beat them, or were they trying to improve their team? Had the Giants let Scutaro go to the Cards, did they have a better second baseman to replace him? "Reward" seems to me the sort of explanation that one falls back on when one has no more rational explanation. Here there is a rational, everyday explanation.

    4. Well, it's really hard to use one label to exactly capture what happens, right?

      In Scutaro's case, I think it was a factor of a number of things. I see the third year as a reward, as two years appeared to be the going rate, but the Giants did not pay much above what the Cards offered for two years, so that's where I see the reward being. I feel he did earn the two years though, no matter the age, that's what the Cards offered.

      But they also had nobody absolutely ready, Panik was looking ready but had that poor season in AA, which dropped him a lot in the eyes of a lot of prospect hounds (not me though; I focus more on his skill set, contact rate and BB/K ratio). So they needed Scutaro around at least as a placeholder until Panik was ready, and you never know, prospects do flop (I see this as similar to the McGehee situation at 3B, only less of a prospect ready at 3B). As a contender, you at least need the stronger possibility that you will get production, than hoping the rookie comes through.

      And that's why the Cards wanted him too. They were in a similar situation with Wong (same draft as Panik), plus the Giants probably didn't want to lose him to them either, as they are a potential contender for NLCS title. The Cards probably liked his grit during that series, too In addition, the Giants liked his influence on the clubhouse as well. Perhaps they were already suspecting that Pablo was not happy and liked Scutaro influence on him, as well as give him some countrymen to keep him happy.

      So yeah, there are rational explanations, but I don't see how that can't coexist with the reward component of the contract as well. Some of the contract was earned, some was reward, some was because it was the Cards bidding on him (and not, say, the Astros), some was insurance to buy time for Panik to further develop. Overall, I think it worked out well (unlike the Huff deal...) for the most part, not like how we would like it to end, but that's life sometimes.

    5. Anon, I'm not sure where I made it seem like you did not appreciate what Marco contributed, as that was not my intention.

      Agreed that age correlates with career ending events. However, if a player is still producing at a late age, that generally correlates to continued production, some players are like that. Bill James rule of thumb for players near the end of their careers (i.e. old for baseball) when projecting Hall of Fame possibilities and career milestones is that they have 1.5 years left of producing at their most recent rates.

      The point I'm trying to make is that, yes, you are right that being old means that the end is nigh, but on the other hand, there have been a number of studies and observations that show that there are a small subset of players who are capable of producing into their late 30's and into their 40's. Rare, yes, but when a hitter is producing at the rate he was - roughly 2.5-3.0 WAR seasonal rate from age 34 to 36 - I think that an assumption that he can produce 3 WAR (roughly his contract value) over a 3 year period is not that big an assumption or that risky an investment. But yes, injuries do happen to older player, but his main value was his ability to hit and hit very well, and hitters usually don't have injuries that shelve them permanently, they usually can't hit anymore, like Omar Vizquel. or Dan Uggla or Aaron Rowand or name any retired (or soon to be retired) player.

    6. Huff's deal is lambasted by many Giants fans, but he wasn't that old and he just put together a 5+ WAR season.

      My only fault that I would aim at the Giants would be that given how close they should have been in terms of knowing him, why didn't anyone see that he might crack like that?

      I remember writing my speculations about his mental sturdiness, or lack thereof. Mostly because it reminded me of myself. I read about how in college he was shy and quiet (yes, quite unlike his adult persona), and how Pat Burrell helped him get out of his shell and helped to push him to be better. I also looked at his record of production and noticed that when he was "The Man" on the team, he seemed to underperform. Yes, SSS, but it seemed to be a pattern, and it seemed to repeat with his big contract with Orioles, then getting traded to Tigers to deliver.

      Here on the Giants in 2010, with his cheap contract, he could sit comfortably in other's shadows, whether Burrell, Posey, even Torres, and be a contributor, but after he got the big contract and got pushed to LF, that all just came crashing down on him and he had a major panic attack, and flew home. I can't remember any player going AWOL like that before.

      But I'll agree that such an AWOL scenario is pretty out there, and hence why I don't really blame the Giants for not seeing that he don't play well under pressure. Though given the outcome and 20/20 hindsight, it would have been better to keep Uribe around and let LA steal Huff away from us; I was pretty OK with losing Uribe and keeping Huff, how does a team plan to replace 5 WAR without gutting a system or paying through the nose for a free agent (if even such a free agent is available). They have to sign that player and hope for the best. At worse, he should have produce average (2 WAR per season) and the contract would still be a huge value, but instead he burned and crashed. Most players off a 5 WAR season don't end up with, what, zero WAR the next two seasons unless they have a major injury, which Huff didn't.

    7. Given Huff's performance prior to the World Series win, expecting another 5 WAR performance would clearly have been incredibly optimistic. Even a lower WAR performance was far from clear - it isn't like AT & T park is forgiving to hitters.
      Ditto Marco.
      Clearly some people think they were getting paid for future performance, but equally I do not. My view continues to be that the Giants were willing to extend very generous contracts awarded in significant part due to past performance with any future performance being the bonus. And more importantly, there is a reason why the Giants would do so: loyalty down the chain is something rare in the majors, and the Giants have benefited extraordinarily from these journeymen type guys - the list including Huff, Scutaro, Renteria, Blanco, Andres Torres, Burrell, and many others.
      At this point, it would not surprise me in the least that 'edge' type players - which are the journeymen - are aware of the Giants' track record and that this helps the Giants continue to find those surprises.

    8. I didn't say I was expecting another 5 WAR performance, I said that the Giants were left with the need to replace 5 WAR, and thus who would be the best replacement, ergo: a free agent you pay $10M AAV for that you probably can expect around 2 WAR from, or signing the guy who just delivered 5 WAR for the same price? At least with Huff, there was the upside potential that he would repeat a season like he did in 2008 and 2010, and it was his 34 and 35 seasons after producing 5.7 WAR in his 33 YO season. That should have been a good deal, a gimme.

      But that's life with humans, things happen. Studies have shown how teams generally know who to keep and who to let go. But sometimes mistakes are made, and as I tried to show, you could not really predict that was going to happen to Huff.

      The contract value was about the same for Marco, though not necessarily a fair deal ultimately. If you look at his WAR production in the prior 5 years, even if you do the usual Saber regression of half a WAR drop per season, that's 1.6 first season (he had 2.1 WAR combined with Rox and us), 1.1 second, 0.6 third, 3 WAR, or 3.3 WAR total or roughly $20M worth of production. That's exactly the contract he signed for, $20M. And I think one could reasonably expect more, but let's go with that.

      That's cutting the margin close there, and as I noted, the third year, I think, was his reward for producing for us, so it all fits together.

      So I still see what I see, a contract that tries to balance reward for the past and the value of future production. If what you say is true, then Torres should have gotten a $20M deal from the Giants to reward him for his 5 WAR production in 2010. Obviously, he didn't.

      He had never produced at that level previously, so expecting a repeat is not reasonable. In Huff's case, he had produced at least 2 WAR in 5 previous seasons, and over 4 WAR in two of the prior three seasons. For $10M AAV for two seasons, he could have one lousy season and one at 4 WAR and the contract is covered.

      In Scutaro's case, he was consistently producing at 2+ WAR for the prior three seasons and was doing well for us, so it was not unreasonable to think that he could duplicate a 2+ WAR in the first season of the contract, leaving two seasons to produce just 0.5 WAR in each.

      Loyalty down the chain is important, but equally important is being fair in the contracts given. You can't give guys like Uribe and Torres the bigger contracts unless they prove to you that they can produce that in the future. Guys like Huff and Scutaro had good and recent production.

      And I think you are mixing up types. Renteria was no journeyman, he was a good player through most of his career. His problem was the pain from his torn tendon, too bad it didn't break until just before the playoffs, he said he was painless after that. Burrell was no journeyman either. Blanco, Torres, Arias I would categorize as journeymen.

    9. I would note that Torres wasn't rewarded because he was in the arbitration zone - and his performance in 2011 was poor enough that his free agent value just wasn't very high. The Giants did give him $2M in 2013, though, despite all that.
      Renteria: he was very much a creaky old man when he came to the Giants. Yes, he had some great years, but much like some of the other creaky old men - there were just too many years on him and few people (including me) expected too much out of him in terms of games played. At the stage of his career where he came to the Giants, he was very much a journeyman.
      As for Scutaro - again, your view is that 37 year old 2B can be expected to produce 2 WAR per season from 38 to 40.
      Theoretically it is possible - in reality, it clearly was not. In fact, I would challenge you to find any comparable 2 WAR performance for any 2B in a 2 or 3 year period - outside of a Hall of Famer. I love Marco and what he did for the Giants, but he isn't a Hall of Famer.
      As for Huff - the reason he came to the Giants cheap was he had a disastrous year before. One possibility was that he just was unlucky, the far more likely possibility was that he was one of those players who decline quickly. Once again, it is quite clear which it was in reality.
      The fact is - the Giants do pay more for people who have done well by them even if the future prospects don't bode well. Lincecum is a prime example: he's been a perfectly fine 4 or 5 pitcher, but you don't pay $17M or $18M a year for 4 or 5 pitchers. His Cy Youngs and prime playing years were all when he was under team control and/or in arbitration - and the Giants did right by him.

    10. Vogelsong, from what I recall, got a big contract covering his remaining arbitration years, $8M for 2 years if I recall right, so old guys who perform well and is expected by the Giants to perform well, do get rewarded with bigger contracts.

      You and I have different definitions of what a journeyman is.

      In Renteria's case, in two of the three years before signing with the Giants, he had two of his best offensive years in terms of OPS+. Just the year before signing with the Giants, he had a .860 OPS. A journeyman to me is not just a player who passes from one team to another, but one who is at best average, but tend to be not good enough to start regularly, but good enough to play regularly.

      Too many years? He was only 32 YO in our first season. That's not creaky in baseball.

      I don't know what you are talking about, I never said that one could expect Scutaro to produce 2 WAR per season every year of his contract. Here, I'll quote myself for you: "In Scutaro's case, he was consistently producing at 2+ WAR for the prior three seasons and was doing well for us, so it was not unreasonable to think that he could duplicate a 2+ WAR in the first season of the contract, leaving two seasons to produce just 0.5 WAR in each." That's 2 WAR in his first season, 0.5 WAR in his final two seasons, for a total of 3 WAR. Which is roughly his contract size. He got that his first season, but obviously missing totally on the final two, he did start to miss significant time his final two seasons, only instead of being a useful backup MI, he's been DL basically the whole time.

      I've explained Huff when we acquired him, how he was going to bounce back. I noted how his batting peripherals were still as good as it was when he was going good, and that the only thing that went really bad was his BABIP, especially once he got traded to the Tigers (which first gave me the inkling that he might not do well under pressure). I didn't expect 5 WAR, but he was a good hitter before, he continued to hit that way in 2009, so I expected him to regress towards his career mean at worse.

      Yes, he got a cheap contract because of his poor prior season. I expected that most people know that, is there a reason why you mention it? I would add that one of the Giants people spoke with somebody who knew Huff, and was told that one of the reasons he didn't do so well was because he was out of shape and unprepared for the season, but that he worked out and was physically ready for 2010 (reported by beat reporter before the season started). So that's another reason why 2009 wasn't so good, and 2010 was looking to be better.

    11. I will agree that the Giants do pay more for people who have done well, generally. Morse did well for them, did they retain him? Beltran ultimately did well for them, did they retain him? Burrell did really well for them, but only got a $1M contract the next season, apparently they knew he was not physically up for it. Wilson did a lot for us too and he begged them to pick up his option, but they didn't. So, no, they do it for some and not others, and the ones that they do it for, they do it because they feel that it was worth the bet.

      I can see why the Giants bet on Lincecum. He was still getting hitters out easily with strikeouts (you don't have 9 K/9 unless you have talent), but he would just lose his bearings and go off the tracks regularly. I don't think anybody thinks he can have another Cy Young season, I know I don't, but I think he can put in a 3.65 ERA season, even if he's doing it against SD, because that's all that really matters, winning and doing well when he's in a Giants uniform (I noticed you forgot to address my point about your argument about his SD playing time, so do you think that is still a valid argument?). If they thought he was done, he wouldn't have gotten so much.

      But personally, if I knew that he wasn't working with his father, I would have put it into my contract offer that he has to work with his father if he wants the contract. That was lacking on the Giants part not to do that. He's a grown man, but I think it's pretty clear he isn't worth $18M per season unless he's working with his dad, so I would have made that a condition.

      Knowing now that he wasn't working with his Dad, his decline from 2011 to 2014 is very clear now.

    12. Renteria had 2 good years out of the 3 before he came to the Giants, but these were 2 out of the 5 years before. 1 of those years was an ungodly BABIP, the other was nearly a career high in home runs. You're not going to convince me that Renteria was some sort of superstar; he was only a superstar due to the comparisons with Giants' shortstops post Aurilia. He also performed abysmally in his first year with the Giants, so again the record was far more that he would *not* be good than the other way around. Even in 2010, he was injured more than half the season.
      Morse - I'm sure he got an offer from the Giants, but he chose to go somewhere else. Nothing wrong with that and equally not the Giants' fault. Beltran? Same thing. The Giants correctly deduced that while he could be very good, he simply wasn't worth the money other teams were willing to pay for him. He did get an offer also - the Giants just didn't want to get into a bidding war, especially with Zito around.
      Huff - you explained that you are able to post-predict Huff's turnaround. Frankly speaking, nobody predicted ahead of time that this would happen and Huff reverted the year after and was out of baseball soon after that. Hardly a ringing endorsement.
      Scutaro - you're still assuming that performance from a very old player is in any way consistent or predictable. The facts are very simple: I asked you to show me any example of a 37 year old 2B putting up 2 or 3 - 2 WAR seasons in a row after said 37 year season. That Scutaro was able to do it at 36 and 37 is great, but that's not the same thing as being able to do it continuously for years after that. That you believe so is your prerogative, but it isn't what the history of baseball shows.
      Burrell - he wanted to retire and even said so after the World Series. The Giants gave him $1M as a reward in case he changed his mind, but that didn't happen.
      Wilson? He got an offer. He just wanted a bigger one despite being out for an entire season due to Tommy John. I'll note that it wasn't as if he was underpaid; he was paid $6.5M, $6.5M and $8.5M from 2010 to 2012. I hardly call that being shorted.
      As for Lincecum - you clearly believe there is some kind of extra benefit from coaching by his father rather than the 4+ average mph he's lost off his fastball.
      I'll also note that in the earlier years of his career, he could throw 95 consistently with medium effort while he's throwing 90 now while straining - you can get away with location errors at 95 which you cannot at 90. Even in 2009 and 2010 where his average velocity was down to 92-ish, he could still call up the 95+ when needed. I don't believe he had a single pitch at that speed for several years now.
      Either way, we'll see this season. The Padres of 2015 are a far better hitting team than in 2014, Goldschmidt will be back to the Dbacks, and the Dodgers won't be that much worse offensively, and Lincecum is in a walk year.

    13. Superstar and journeyman are both your labels. You need to keep better track of your terms.

      I would say that he was neither, which was what I thought the discussion was about. True, high BABIP, but also low ones in the bad years that you noted (you can't just point out high BABIP without acknowledging low ones), in his career before he had a .319 BABIP, in the five years in question, .322 BABIP, every thing evening out. For those five years in question, he averaged 2.6 WAR at a 3.2 WAR seasonal rate, both neither journeyman nor superstar (again, your terms, not mine), but a good player, which is the only label I applied to him.

      Also, not sure why you are mentioning his first year with the Giants. My problem with your statement was that you said that he was a journeyman when he signed, not that he turned into one while with us. I think anyone would agree that he wasn't a good player while with us, but he was still a good player just before he signed with us.

    14. Media reports are that the Giants said that LF was last on their priority list of positions to fill, that they got Blanco, Perez, and Ishikawa, and thus they did not feel the need to pursue that position yet, prioritizing on SP and 3B. So I don't see any reason why the Giants would make a contract offer given that they were not even serious yet about pursuing a LF.

      Beltran: don't know where you read your Giants news, I've never seen your account of what happened until now. Basically Boras likes to play the waiting game with his players, waiting into the New Year; basically Sabean likes to get things finalized before the New Year. So he moved on, trading for Pagan and Cabrera. Beltran got a lousy cheap contract, ask anybody with knowledge of that and they will say that. Lots of Giants fans got mad that the Cards signed him so cheap but the Giants didn't. But Boras wanted to wait, and the Giants didn't and moved on. And the Giants generally don't shy away from bidding wars for players they like, this whole off-season was about bidding wars that the Giants lost out on.

      Huff: easy to say after the fact that "you were proved right". Show me your statements on the Internet where you said that Huff was done before the 2010 season started. Even then, you would have been proven wrong by his 2010, whereas I was right, he still had something left. Not a lot, but I was closer to the truth than you were (assuming, of course, you actually said such a thing publicly on the internet).

    15. I'm not sure why you have a fixation on Scutaro producing 2-3 WAR seasons for a number of years after age 36. That is not what we were arguing about, unless you are changing the argument.

      I would agree that not many if any 2B has produced 2 WAR for 3 years after age 36: that was never our disagreement, and I repeated this assertion above.

      It was about Scutaro's contract and whether it was a reward or for future production, and if partially on future production, which was my point, then at $20M, we are talking about him producing around 3 WAR over the life of the contract, or 1 WAR per season, then I made the point that since he had produced at 2+ WAR the previous seasons, it was not unreasonable to expect him to produce around 2 WAR in the first year of his contract (which, FYI, he did) and then all the Giants needed him to do was produce 0.5 WAR in each of the next two seasons (not the 2 WAR that you seem to be fixated on, go read the comment trail if you don't believe me).

      I mean, it is almost like you are doing one of those straw man arguments that people have claimed that I was trying to do. I know that history shows that not many players (let alone 2B) who were not All-Star, Hall of Famer type of players who could continued to produce well into their late 30's. Most players fizzle out at 35.

      At the same time, research has shown that there are players who are able to keep it going at age 35 and beyond, and Scutaro clearly is one of those, producing 2.3 WAR at age 37.

      I'll repeat my quote a third time since you don't seem to be grasping it: "In Scutaro's case, he was consistently producing at 2+ WAR for the prior three seasons and was doing well for us, so it was not unreasonable to think that he could duplicate a 2+ WAR in the first season of the contract, leaving two seasons to produce just 0.5 WAR in each." This is one of Bill James tenets about projecting players, so if you have a problem with it, you can bring it up with him.

      In any case, no where any where did I say that Scutaro will produce 2 WAR for three seasons, I only said one season, please stop miss stating my position.

    16. Wilson, you say that $6.5M, $6.5M, and $8.5M were not shorted. In his Giants career, he produced 6.4 WAR or roughly $32M production, but got paid $22.4M over that time. So he got shorted roughly $10M, which is the Giants right, per arbitration.

      But I thought the argument was regarding whether the Giants were rewarding players even though they were not expected to produce much going forward, which makes Wilson a perfect case for your theory because with his TJS surgery, he clearly was not expected to produce anything, so it would have been a perfect time for the Giants to just pick up his option and pay him all that money (something like $10M) even though he would not produce much of anything.

      Yet they didn't reward him. They didn't easily pick up that option which would have basically covered the difference between production and pay. So, no, Wilson shows that the Giants do not, as you put it, way up high, reward players even though they do not expect much from them going forward. There is some expectation of future production that will cover the contract.

    17. You're making 2 different assumptions which are completely uncorroborated as well as not being anything I've said:
      1) That the Giants reward players *based on WAR* <- this is entirely your own assumption. A reward is a contract which is very much in the player's favor as recognition for past performance - but the amount of reward in this contract, it is your assumption alone that it is WAR based.
      2) That the reward is necessarily immediate. For a player which is clearly at the end of their career such as Scutaro and Burrell, the circumstances are entirely different than one like Brian Wilson who - despite the TJS surgery - could realistically have been pitching for many years.
      So, you keep trying to invent new ways to discredit what I've said, but in reality you are simply projecting your own views.
      Brian Wilson was unhappy because he wasn't being paid ever more despite his TJS surgery - but it is entirely false to say that he wasn't being paid well nor that the Giants were kicking him out the door. From my view, his view on his contributions had merit, but my view also recognizes that his timeline and means of redress were childish and immature.
      Thus once again we circle back around: you have your view, I have mine. Your view is that the Giants are entirely motivated by WAR - my view is that I very much doubt it. The Giants don't pay people by expected WAR or by past delivered WAR - they pay by what they believe a fair price is multiplied by additional factors which may increase or decrease the actual contract offered.
      For that matter, WAR is an interesting statistic, but the reality is that it has zero basis on reality because it is entirely artificial. Even great players - their WAR varies dramatically from year to year. WAR is equally a relative value - WAR for any given player is a function of how all the other players perform; a bad year from several players in a given position inflates the WAR of the remaining good performers.
      To then apply economic value to this contrived statistic is to add insult to injury.
      For someone who derides projections, putting great credence into WAR dollar value seems inconsistent.

    18. Regarding your both your comments, I'll admit that those are assumptions I made because you made the assertion that players were being rewarded for prior production and not future production. The only way previously that I have seen that type of justification proved by other people is by tying future WAR production to the contract signed.

      So yes, I made that assumption but that is not the same as me believing that the Giants reward players using WAR methodology.

      Since you say that this is not your belief either, plus you note your feelings about how useless WAR is, I apologize for jumping the gun, and leave it to you now to justify your assertion that the Giants rewarded the players with their contracts without using WAR, as I'm curious how you are going to do that without WAR.

    19. About Brian Wilson, you clearly don't even remember the situation with him. Yes, most people recover - and well - from TJS. Most people, however, weren't Brian Wilson, two time loser to TJS, and the history of players getting two TJS is very poor, at least as reported by the press when it was announced that he was getting his second one. In fact, he acknowledged the challenge he was facing in returning back to baseball in his initial statement, saying he was going to beat the odds.

      So no, you are wrong to state that his career could have gone on for many more years, it was a real and probable scenario that it was the end of his career. To his everlasting credit, he came back and did well, at least for a while.

      It is also not "entirely false" to say he wasn't being paid well. My point was that he was being underpaid, which is true no matter how well paid he was, top closers during that time earned more and since it was his arbitration years, he got underpaid, per the arbitration system (which is how it works), so I do not understand why you don't understand that everyday fact of baseball.

      So no matter how anyone wants to slice it, the vast majority of players during their arbitration years are underpaid, sometimes severely so. Brian Wilson was no different. And most people view free agent contracts as a way of getting back that difference, eventually.

    20. Let me first state that I have similar qualms about using WAR as you do, but when in Rome, you do as the Romans do. It is not perfect, but these are early days and you make do with what is available sometimes, a stone knife is useful until you develop ones made of steel.

      While it's not perfect, I disagree with your assertion that it has zero basis in reality. The way you describe it suggests that you don't really know the underlying methodology.

      The reason why it looks at relative value is because throughout baseball history, no season is like any other. There are new teams, there are new races, there are new rules, there are new parks, there are new players. So in order to have a comparison point, WAR and in particular, replacement value, has been developed to convey such value.

      This provides a way to compare what Babe Ruth did with what Willie Mays did, with what Barry Bonds did, even though the offensive environment was different, by seeing how well they did against their peers. It allows a way to compare players of today against players only a decade ago when teams were scoring a lot more runs.

      Replacement value came in because early on, someone made the call that even being average is considered valuable in baseball, and that any type of metric related to value must represent that value. That is how they decided to use replacement player as the Zero WAR point, and each methodology has their own way of calculating that point, which is why we have the different ways of calculating WAR. Plus, some prefer to base the value on average/neutral value using peripherals like K's, BB's, and the hits (that is, removing luck from the equation), and others prefer to base the value on what they actually did that season.

      And WAR varies for great players because great players vary from season to season in their production. You don't see the same production line from great players, you see them go up and down, and that is why their WAR goes up and down, not because the system is bad, as you assert.

      I'll agree that I have a problem with the economic assertions being made with this. But mainly I think the data is in the ballpark and allows discussion for most players to some degree. It is not Newtonian Physics, as many seem to act as it is, but it can provide pieces to the puzzle. And sometimes, when they are the only pieces of the puzzle you can find, you go with that as your supporting argument. Else it just degrades to a series of comments of "I'm right, you're wrong" "no, I'm right, you're wrong", with nothing supporting it other than the person's assertion that they are right.

      The problem I have is that people treat WAR as if it was a unit of value, when actually it is a bundle of value that is contained in each player. A 5 WAR player is very rare, and thus I do not see why he should earn the same $/WAR as a common 1 WAR player, economic theory says that because that 5 WAR player is rare, he should earn more. So I don't believe that there should be a linear relationship between $ and WAR when you go to the extremes.

    21. Regarding compensation: Agreed on the Giants not using WAR. My views on the various contracts awarded vs. "objective" value were from recollections of the numbers bandied about in public vs. the actual contract. In every case noted: Burrell, Huff, Scutaro, etc the actual contract signed was at or over the upper limit speculated on by the baseball community.
      This is a pattern consistent with Giants' behavior regarding players they clearly would like to reward.
      As for Wilson: How many relievers, closers or otherwise, were paid more than $8M or $10M a year in the years in question? That's the real question that would have to be answered. I don't know the answer to that, but $10M would be the highest salary paid to a reliever even in 2015:
      Even $8M would be 4th highest overall now, and we're talking several years ago, not 2015.
      Yes, Wilson had a 2nd TJS - but the first was when he was in college. Was there risk that he might not come back to play? Certainly so, but again, he was not in any way being underpaid except in his own mind. The Giants were perfectly ok with paying him a very high salary despite the certainty of losing a full season due to his TJS.
      So, I will continue to disagree mightily with your assessment that Wilson was either underpaid or disrespected.
      As for WAR - I continue to disagree that it has any true value whatsoever.
      Let's look at 2014 Team WAR:
      According to WAR theory, the performance of individual players corresponds to wins over average.
      The actual spread from the above list of all teams shows a range of WAR by team from 16.8 to 42.6. Yet included in this list are not 1, not 2, but 5 different teams that lost more than 90 games. This is literally impossible according to WAR calculations as a 100% replacement team should win 52 games (i.e. lose 110). No team had even close to a zero WAR, much less negative. Now, of course, the graph above isn't clear on whether it is 2015 projected WAR or 2014 actual recorded WAR, but I'd bet the difference isn't that high.
      More importantly - you have 91 game loser Red Sox with the highest WAR total. Ugh.
      WAR only works because it does identify outlier individual player performances *in retrospect*, but the correlation of this relative performance to wins is arcane to the extreme - similar to the properties ascribed to aether when 18th century physicists attempted to understand the universe. Or in other words, a purely fictional, retrospectively and arbitrarily determined artefact of mathematical modeling.
      Contrast this with Pythagorean modeling: at least here there is a concrete statistic: actual runs.
      Put another way: WAR is the attempt to back into Pythagorean modeling using projected performance.
      As for linear relationships between WAR and pay - again, I think this is just sports agents attempting to squeeze more pay out of ownership. Without WAR, Stanton never gets $32.5M a year. More importantly, is Stanton worth more than 3-$10M/year players? I'd think Detroit has conclusively demonstrated that this doesn't work.

  4. Peavy's 40-man spot ended up costing the Giants Mike Kickham, who was waived and picked up by the Cubs. Good luck to Mike, I liked what he showed us in the majors, and with the Cubs, he'll probably get the chance, perhaps, to start, not just be a loogy for us, which is what he would have ended up being had he stayed in our organization.

  5. What are your thoughts on the zips projection?

    1. I had thought many years ago that the projections were biased against the Giants, as I did not agree with the projections. But lately they seem to at least be not that far from what I would think, and among the projection systems I have collected data on for the Giants, ZiPS tends to be in the mid-range, which makes is one of the better systems in terms of projections. Kind of like how people are suppose to do when getting contractors to quote you a price, you avoid the highs and lows, you pick one in the middle.

      I like to use each one as a base rate then make my own estimations on playing time (which he makes no attempt to try, and rightly so), just so that I can have a base data point that I can argue for or against the Giants for that season. Just another datapoint I can use.

  6. Hi. Longtime reader, first time leaving a comment. I was curious what your thoughts were regarding the Giants possibly going after Ben Zobrist? What price do you think he would cost the Giants? If the Giants do not get Zobrist what you like to see them do in left field? Sorry for all the questions but I like reading your site since you can tell you do such a great job researching and trying to think like the Giants brass do. Happy New Year!

    1. Thanks for your first time comment!

      I would love to get Zobrist. But not if we have to give up top prospects like Crick and Blackburn, nor if we have to give up any of the guys who contributed this season, Panik, Susac, Duffy, Strickland. I would not give up Belt or Crawford either. And of course, Posey.

      I had not thought of this before, but if Hector Sanchez was acceptable as part of a package including top 11-20 prospects, and maybe one of the better pitching prospects but not the top ones, second tier, I would be OK with that.

      Unfortunately, I don't think that is enough of a package to get Zobrist. I think it would take more, MLBTR has a good rundown of the whole situation:

      I'm not really good on figuring out what it would take in trade though, I would add.

      No problem with questions, love answering them to the best of my abilities, and I know I'm not the last word on anything.

      I've been advocating that the Giants move Belt to LF starting in 2015, that should fix LF for years. He's athletic enough, the Giants were going to do that anyway if they had been able to sign Abreu last off-season, and you know Posey playing 1B too much and you don't want to sit Belt's bat out of the lineup that much.

      Plus, my future solution for 1B is having Posey and Susac share the starting duties at the two positions once Susac is ready to start at C. I am hoping Susac only needs 2015 to finalize his training, then the two can share C/1B in 2016 and beyond, until Posey is ready to announce that he's no longer catching. Heck, he could stay the backup catcher for years with this plan and still play a lot.

      For 2015, Ishikawa is a good enough hitter (for our lineup) as a LHH facing RHP, so I would mostly platoon him with Posey at 1B, but sometimes Posey will need a rest and we won't be facing a LHP, but I would still sit Ishikawa down and let Posey start at 1B in these instances.

      Plus, this would allow us to keep Hanchez as our backup catcher for 2015, then in 2016, when Posey and Susac shares starting and backup duties at catcher, Hanchez could be a good bat off the bench who could also backup C and 1B, as necessary. That limits his concussions from 2016 on, while allowing Bochy to use his bat more often since he has Susac as a potential backup catcher.

      Thanks, Happy New Year to you too!



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