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 MLB.com, 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.

14 comments:

  1. The article was written prior to Headley and Lester settling elsewhere, obviously those issues are settled.
    However, I think several areas were left out:
    1) Center Field. While we all hope Angel Pagan will be healthy and play well in 2015 - I think the possibility of that happening isn't great. I love Gregor, but he just isn't the offensive or leadoff force which Angel is despite the great defense.
    2) Pitching: I don't think the Giants need only 1 SP. Cain will be workable if not good. Bumgarner will be good. Both Vogelsong and Hudson had flashes, but IMO showed their age. Peavy did well, but then again he choked pretty hard in the WS plus I have grave doubts as to whether the Giants will pay enough to keep him
    3) 3B: Defensively, the Giants can find someone to do a decent job. However, offense is the issue. Pablo didn't have a great year, but he did offer something which was unique: the ability to make something happen at any given time. It may well be that Pablo's absence in the Giants' lineup will have a similar effect as Cespedes' absence in Oakland's lineup.
    4) LF: Morse was great when he was in there. When he was out, pretty much an offensive black hole.
    While I understand why the Giants' don't want to get into bidding wars - the sad fact is that without at least replacement production at these levels, the 2015 Giants are going to be a losing team. Maybe they can pull a Panik out of their butts - or Gary Brown will finally start producing as hoped for - but I personally don't hold much hope out for a good 2015 season without at least several of the above issues resolved.

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    1. Yeah, sorry about that, I was working on it for a while, thought I had removed all those references.

      1) the problem isn't Blanco, the problem is Bochy continues to put Gregor into that position when he's not well suited for that. It's better to bat either Pence or Belt at leadoff than Blanco, that's why Gregor has never reached the potential that many saw for him, he shrinks in the spotlight, and that's OK, just leave him down in the lineup and he's fine, I would rather move Pence to leadoff from 5th, move Crawford to 5th, Ishi 6th (if Blanco is in CF) and leave Blanco batting 7th, where he's excelled in his career. He's a fine major leaguer batting in the bottom. And I would probably be OK with him batting 6th sometimes too, if Perez is the LF.

      2) SP: I think Lincecum will surprise, he's been on the edge the past few years, then imploded, but now it's clear that that was because he was anchor-less, but now his dad is back mentoring him. I can live with Peavy now that I think Lincecum is good enough, he could be the guy who would sit.

      Hudson showed his age, but with Petit around to give him a breather here and there as necessary, he was actually good in the playoffs until that WS game.

      I'll admit, it's not ideal, but honestly, I would put Petit in the rotation and be very happy with the rotation. So no matter who we get, even if he fails, I expect good things from Petit taking over.

      3) 3B: Giants won, no problem, with Sandoval struggling early on being "a superstar". True, Panda was capable of making something happen at any given time, but Pablo the past few years hasn't been that player very often. And that kills a lineup when your cleanup hitter isn't doing much.

      People focus too much on Sandoval being gone, instead of focusing on who is still here, all year: Belt. He was gone for much of the season, should be here all year. Ready for his breakout year, he has been a better middle lineup hitter than Pablo has been. Our lineup is fine.

      4) I would like some sort of offensive upgrade in LF, Upton would be nice, but I would be OK if Belt moves to LF and Ishi takes over 1B. That's a nice lineup overall.

      I admit that Pagan is injury prone, but he seems to be finally healthy with his back, which has been his main health issue over the years dealing with his production. He also got to rest most of the season as well.

      The problem has been that the Giants have already been in two bidding wars and was told not to bother offering more money.

      People were similarly down about the 2014 season during spring training. I think people are similarly overwrought about the 2015 season. Time will tell.

      I will admit I will feel better if they got an upgrade at 1B or LF over Ishi, but the sad fact is that Posey is screwing up the 1B situation as long as he's not able to catch 140 games. And that screws up Belt. Belt in LF, Ishi at 1B makes that workable, since Ishi actually hits OK vs. RHP.

      It's not beat over the other teams head type of team, but we've never had that type of team and still won Three of Five. I'll agree that it pivots on whether Lincecum is back or not, but I'm betting that he's back. It's not like he's been gone gone, he'll be back for a long while then suddenly veer off into the ditch. Having his dad around should help get him back on the road faster and better.

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    2. Oh, and if Brett Jackson works out, as I noted, he could be the new Blanco.

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    3. I'm not sure I agree on Blanco. The reason you don't pack all your best hitters starting from leadoff is that you want them to have the chance to bat someone in. A leadoff double with insufficient lineup length behind it is just not as good as the poor leadoff hitter with decent OBP, with 3 or 4 good hitters coming up.
      Again, nothing against Blanco - he's been an integral part of the Giants as a great defensive 4th outfielder, and an average leadoff guy. The Giants, however, need a great leadoff man. Pagan is that, but his health is a very big question.
      As for Lincecum - I'm neutral. You'll note I didn't talk of him either positively or negatively - I think he is a perfectly serviceable major league pitcher with flashes of brilliance. However, the problem isn't him - it is the 2 pitching slots which Peavy and Vogelsong occupy. Petit is decent - also with flashes of brilliance - but his presence is offset by Hudson's age. No matter how you stack it, the Giants need at least 1 reliable pitcher and probably 2.
      Agree on Belt - but again, the problem isn't 1st base. It is 3rd base and Left Field. Even moving Belt to left still leaves 3rd base as a hole with significant risk on Panik in his sophomore year.
      Let me put it another way: the Giants have holes at LF, 1 pitching slot and 3rd base. They have risk at CF and 2nd, and in 2 other pitching slots (the other of Peavy/Vogelsong, plus Cain+Lincecum+Petit). They have maybe 2.5 plugs to put in these various risks and holes.
      That's a lot of moving parts which have to almost all go right.

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    4. The model for winning in this glorious golden era for the Giants is basically great pitching, good fielding, and average offense. If you look in my plan, I show how that combination can lead to 90 wins and more.

      So yeah, I see your point about lineup length. but even without Pablo and Morse, we still got Pagan, Panik, Posey, Belt, Pence, and I think Crawford is ready, and Blanco has been pretty good when used right, meaning, batting 6/7. Even Ishi is good against RHP.

      I mentioned Lincecum because you mentioned two holes in the rotation. That implies that only three of Bumgarner, Cain, Hudson and Lincecum is good. Most Giants fans would then say "Lincecum".

      The Giants are not signing Peavy and Vogelsong. It's either or, and apparently now Peavy's on the clock, now that the Giants preferred option, Lester, is out of the way, and they have kicked tires with others. The Giants formula during their run has revolved around 3 good pitchers going at any time, while 2 other is struggling or whatever (in Zito's case, whatever :^). With a rotation of Bumgarner, Cain, Hudson, Linecum, Peavy, I think with an average offense (and health), we can win 95-100 games, and even if Pagan is down again, 90+ wins definitely still. That's a good reliable rotation, for the most part.

      Hudson is old, but Petit has been good, I've been documenting it with his PQS stats, when he's in the rotation vs. an emergency starter, he's been good most of the time. Sure, small samples, but with rookies or guys with little recent experience, it's always small samples. I believe in his PQS stats.

      3B in 2015 will be the hole that we had at 2B in 2014 or the hole in RF we had in 2012 or the holes we had in a number of places in 2010. Look at any good offense, and there will be holes, you don't need to fill them all.

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    5. Oh, left out a point.

      If you look at any team that is average to slightly above, it will always have a number of lineup positions where the hitters aren't that good. You are worrying about the bad spots in the lineup when most NL teams have a lot of holes in their lineup, including leadoff and second, I just learned.

      Frankly, if you look at the NL averages, there is only three good hitting positions anymore, 3rd, 4th, 5th. Complain about Blanco if you want, but at .707 OPS, he is an above average hitter (NL average is .694 OPS). He is just short of average for #1 and #2, and above average 6, 7, 8. Average leadoff guy only has .713 OPS, 2nd has .720 OPS.

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  2. Trade Belt, platoon Posey and Ishikawa at 1B and Susac/Posey at C.
    Watch Posey's #s go up, and late into season too. Would be a good transition to the inevitable.

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    1. There is no reason to trade a cost contained middle lineup hitter, especially if you are selling low since he was injured. Put him in LF and you can do all that still.

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  3. You didn't mention Duvall or Dominguez as options for 3B, that was both of their positions coming up in the minors. Seeing how Sandoval is no longer preventing anyone from playing the position, I'd like to see either of them shot at competing for the hot corner like they did at 2B. I hope both of their offense production from the minors translate to the majors. Who knows,maybe Sabean will find another gem this year like he did with Panik.

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    1. I didn't mention them because I don't think they are viable starters at 3B. I am pretty sure that Adrianza is, and I think Duffy can do it eventually, though I'm not convinced he's doing it soon, but who knows, he definitely has a bat.

      I'm not very hopeful that free swingers can figure it out in the majors. Plus, Duvall is a negative defensively at 3B, if his offense don't show, then we're doubly screwed. Adrianza would at least provide superlative defense and then maybe provide offense. Guys with good bat control in the minors have better chances of making it in the majors, much like Panik. Free swingers don't.

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    2. But to your point, you never know, and I don't mind giving them the chances, once Arias, Adrianza, and Duffy get good chances. I like Dominguez, he might make a good bench player has he has power, some speed, good arm.

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  4. I like the discussion, but I think folks are under rating the importance and the ability of Pablo Sandoval. After a horrendous start, (though Morse made up for it at that time) Pablo hit over 300 from the second week of May onward. He definitely would need to work on his right side hitting, but his lefty hitting presence in the line-up will be sorely missed without a replacement. About Pablo dogging it? Maybe he did in 2010, but since that time I do not see it. He works hard, he has gotten better in the field, and you don't hit over 300 for 5 months in the majors by dogging it. He leaves the team with a big talent gap. You covered the reasons why he may have left, and maybe some of them, one of them or none of them are the reason. I hope we learn the reason before we learn who really killed JFK. But does it matter? I would guess that his agent had plenty to do with it. Signing with the Cubs instead of the giants, just shows you that maybe Lester is not the smart guy we want on the giants. If Pablo starts out on Boston the way he did last year with the giants, he may rue the day he left SF. Anyway thank you for your well thought out, and detailed blog. It is awesome whether I agree with each point or not. Keep the posts coming. Thanks, and have a great holiday season.

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    1. I agree that some missed that he hit well after his initial early struggles: I wrote about it earlier this season while it was happening. That's why I refer to it being his "superstar" phase, because Miggy told him superstars take walks, and if you analyze his early stats, he was taking a lot more walks than he normally has during his career, but then it mucked up his mechanics enough that when he made contact, it wasn't for much. And I wrote about it when he broke out of it as well and noted his better production during the season too, reminding people that his overall batting line does not represent what he's actually producing at the time.

      I have been a steady supporter of Pablo all through his Giants career. When talks about trading him came along, I defended him because of his potential to bring back 2011.

      But enough's enough. Every year, it's another reason why he didn't produce all year round. And even in his walk year, his free agent year, he got fatter again as the season went on.

      And he was good defensively, but the media made it like he is the second coming of Brooks Robinson sometimes, and he's not. He's been excellent defensively exactly one year, 2011. Looking through all the defensive metrics, clearly 2011 was a superlative year, and had he continued that in 2012-2014, I would have bent over backward to exhort the Giants to retain him. He was, at best, slightly better than good from 2012-2014, and that don't warrant a $20M AAV contract.

      Neither did his hitting, for that matter. I don't care how big a hole is in the lineup, that circumstance does not justify over paying for what Sandoval can produce going forward. His contract is for players who have been consistently good over a number of years, and I think anyone looking at his record can say that he's had only two really good years that justify such a big contract, 2009 and 2011. I think Boston will be very sorry with the deal (and for listening to Ortiz) when all is said and done, he will be held in as high an esteem as A-Gon or Carl Crawford were in a Boston uni (and perhaps he'll get dumped to LA again, oops, Sheriff Ned no longer there, Boston has no more suckers to plunder...)

      I don't recall saying that Pablo dogged it, I know he tried really hard a lot of the time. There were a lot of photos of him working on the bicycle and sweating to the oldies. You probably mean my speculation about why the years after signing the contract weren't that good. For Boston's sake, they better hope that's the reason. I just wanted to chronicle all the various reasons I either heard of or could think of. Yeah, we might never know, and maybe it don't matter, but I'm curious what other people think. But I do know he worked hard, what I was trying to say was not that he was consciously dogging it, but if he was as mad at the Giants as the reports seem to suggest, I just know that for myself, I know that you can try your hardest, but if your heart is not into it, you probably aren't giving your best, even if you are working your hardest.

      And, unfortunately in this world, when you are playing in the MLB, whether you are working hard or not don't really matter, production does. I'm sure Zito was one of the hardest working players on the team while he was here, but I sure as heck don't want him back on our team at $20M AAV.

      You want a lefty hitting presence replacement? You got it: Belt. He's an actual power replacement, unlike the Pablo of the past few years, who has been more pretender than contender, except for one magical playoff game. He was out much of the year while the Giant were struggling, with Pablo in the lineup, to score runs and win games. Heck, if Ishi starts at first like I'm hoping, he'll probably supply just as much left-handed power as Pablo would.

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    2. (I hate comment limits! :^)

      I don't need smart guys, I need guys who can get guys out easily and to a great extent, and Lester does that. I respect the fact that people have different motivations and that they try to make the best choice that they can for themselves in the moment. It is probably exciting to him that he could be helping two people who believed in him, especially after his cancer scare, bring a world championship to a team that famously has been snake-bit for a century now. Maybe if he hadn't won anything yet, like Hudson, he wouldn't have told us thanks but no thanks. I don't blame him for using the Giants, as that is part of the business world, but then again, that's exactly what it seems like happened, and I can call him out on it too. It goes both ways.

      And thanks for your comment, even if it don't agree with me. I don't expect everyone to agree with me. I expect holes in my arguments. I try to fill all that I can, but I know I'm not going to get everything. I would love to get points and counterpoints, to test out my arguments. I don't expect a resolution but it's fun to talk these things out, thanks again.

      Happy Holidays to you as well (and to everyone else reading this!)! Take care, it seems to be a bad winter, hopefully everyone can stay safe.

      Delete

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