Monday, November 24, 2014

Your 2015 Giants: Panda-Less

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

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

ogc thoughts

Whew, we dodged a huge bullet here!

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

What Now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 21, 2014

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

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

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

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

Sandoval Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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


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