Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Your 2015 Giants: Some Thoughts Looking at the Standings

I was looking at the standings, seeing how difficult it is for the Giants to climb out of the hole that they are in, and I had some thoughts, which are below.

ogc thoughts

First thought is how much bad luck we had this season.  The Giants are 16-23 in one-run games.  Overall, teams should be at .500, so if we were instead 19-20, we would be 4.5 games back of LA and 4.0 games back of Chicago, still far, but that would be close enough to taste it.  If we were 20-19, another game comes off.  If were were at Bochy's average for his managerial career, short of 4 games over .500 per season, that would put us at 21-18, just 2.5 and 2.0 games behind, respectively.

In addition, by Pythagorean, the Giants should be 81-63 while the Bridegrooms should be 80-64.  Yes, we should be leading the division given what we have scored and allowed.  That's a heck of a lot of bad luck, we are 5 games below where we should be, while LA is 3 games above.   I think a big part of that is from their 3 game sweep of us, all by one run.  Even winning one of those games would get us 2 games closer to the division lead (still 5.5 games back, but still).

On top of that, the Giants have been better against winning teams than the Dodgers have been.  They are 27-31 while LA is 25-33.  And had we won one of those games, 28-30 for us, 24-34 for them, that shows the gap between the two teams even more.

Dodgers Did What They Had To Do

The Dodgers have gotten where they are by beating up on the losing teams better than the Giants have.  The Giants are 7th in the NL with a 49-38 record, but the Dodgers are 2nd in the NL with a 58-27 record (they were probably leading the league until the Mets passed them by with their hot streak).

And to the Dodgers' credit, they have won when they had to, they are 20-10 in their last 30 games.  And 8-2 in their last 10.  Whereas for most of the season, they have been playing at around .500 in most 30 game stretches, they got hot at the right time.

And their recent hot streak they can thank Ruggiano, Seager, and Schebler, who all have been hot while the hitters who were there already have been lukewarm at best (hence why they are 8-2 now but 12-8 in the prior 20), though Crawford and Utley have been hot in the past two weeks.  In those two weeks, 12 games, these guys hit 11 homers, drove in 30 runs, scored 30 runs, generating a total of 49 runs.

And pitching, in the past month, Kershaw, Greinke, Anderson has been doing it - Three Aces - while Alex Wood has been their Zito, and Latos and Bolsinger have been their 5th starter.  But the pitching has been much worse in the past two weeks, and especially the last week (4.40 ERA; Wood has not been good at all either), but the strong hitting above made up for the lapses by their starters.

Dodger Fans Can Thank Anderson

The key to LA has been Anderson putting in a strong showing as their 3rd ace.  He has a 3.36 ERA for the season and has made every start of the season.  When the last time he made every start of the season (mostly) was his rookie season in 2009!  If he lost yet another season to injury, the Dodgers would have been pretty screwed for most of the season, as they had no other good backups, and even some of them were falling down like flies.

So that's another big area of difference in the fortunes of the two clubs.  Whereas there are Giants fans berating our front office for relying on Hudson, Peavy, Cain, Lincecum in our rotation, the Dodgers relied on McCarthy, Anderson, and fill in the blank after Ryu went down for the season again, and got a great season out of Anderson.

He's going to be a dilemma for LA this off-season, because they paid him $10M for this one season, and he's both going to want more, much more, in terms of AAV and years.  They will probably take care of Greinke first, but will they end up being the only bidder for Anderson?  With his injury history, I don't see why any team would put up more than two years and somewhere in the $12-13M AAV range, but will Anderson try to squeeze LAD for another year to make it 3 years, plus an option, and a bit more money AAV?  He's only 28 YO next season, so even a 3 years contract covers him from 28-30 YO seasons.  And a lot of money is coming into all teams' coffers in the next few years.

The thing is that there is a precedence for pricing this, as they just did something similar last off-season, they gave McCarthy a 4 year, $48M contract, after he had his first healthy season starting in 2014 since, well, it was his first ever over 30 starts (high was 25 in 2011; he had 32 in 2014).  He gave them 4 poor starts (great peripherals, but 9 HR in 4 starts is pretty bad) and then was shut down for the season with his torn UCL.

Anderson has been a much better pitcher than McCarthy ever was, so if I were his agent, this contract would be the base I would build on, as Anderson is only 28 next season (McCarthy was 31 this season).  Probably something like 4 years, $60M ($15M AAV) is what I would target, but would want at least $55M for 4 years.  And also hope for something like Shields' 4 years, $75M.  But can LA afford two pitchers like McCarthy and Anderson?  Plus Ryu?

Giants Rotation and Roster Plans

While any of the starting pitchers were possible injury problems, what are the odds that all four of them would be DLed for a significant amount of time during the season?  I would have bet low.  But it is what it was.  And the Giants rotation needs to get stronger and younger.

Looking ahead to 2016, it is pretty clear that the Giants will make the big push for re-signing Leake and that would make our rotation Bumgarner, Leake, Heston, plus, barring any further health issues, I assume Cain will take the 4th rotation spot, and Peavy the 5th.  I expect Blackburn to be our first option out of the minors (hope that Stratton, Beede, Blach, Mejia could be ready mid-season), and that Petit will be our long reliever again.  I don't see the Giants signing up a big ace pitcher but will be involved in order to drive up the price for other teams, because of this space issue.  I've been hoping that Lincecum would be the second long reliever, much like Vogelsong this season, but I'm not sure we have the space in the bullpen to do that.

The bullpen is full and we got a number of guys who should be ready next season.  Probably go with 7 or 8 relievers again.  Casilla's option should vest and, even if not, the Giants were going to pick up the option anyway.  Then there's Romo and Lopez, both of whom have one more year on their deals.  Affeldt appears to be on the way out, there has been zero talk about him returning, and he had a down season, but if there is space, he'll be re-signed to a one year deal.  Kontos, Strickland, and Osich have all earned spots for the 2016 bullpen, making that six relievers.  Petit makes seven.   Backup from the minors include Broadway, Okert (who had a down year, struggled from May to July, but 2.13 ERA over last month and a half with 9.9 K/9 and ~3 K/BB), Hall, and Law (who should be better another year removed from TJS).

The bench will probably be Sanchez (he has no options left; unless he's traded, in which case, Susac) as the backup catcher, Adrianza as backup MI/3B, Blanco as backup OF, Tomlinson as super utility OF, playing IF and OF.   And the starting lineup is probably Aoki (fluke HBP injuries this year, he wants to be back, very cheap option for his production), Panik, Pagan, Posey, Pence, Belt, Duffy, Crawford (in spite of how well BCraw hit, where else do you bat him in this lineup? Unless we bat him 9th?)

That leaves one last spot to fill.  The Giants could pick up Affeldt for another year.  They could also pick up Lincecum to be the backup starter, much like the role Vogelsong had this season, only Lincecum would pitch much more often because he's not bothered by relieving, been doing it for a long time.   They could also add another bench player, probably Susac as backup catcher with Sanchez as the main PH and occasional starting C.

Byrdman In 2016?

There is also another possibility that would put a wrench into these works:  Byrd has an $8M option that vests once he reaches 550 PA.  He's at 485 PA as of 9/14 games, so he's only 65 PA away from vesting.   With 18 games left, and him averaging 4.36 PA per game started, if he starts all the games, that's 78 PA, and it means he only needs 15 CG played at that rate to reach his vesting.  Aside from a poorly timed super slump (last 4 games of 7-game losing streak, 0-for-17 with 6 K's), he has been a marvelous hitter for us and a nice LF option to have.

And Byrd actually has hit well against both RHP, as well as LHP, he's a pretty good hitter during his career.  Which makes the fact that he has rarely been a full-time starter a bit of a mystery, especially since he's been mostly good as a defender, particularly corner OF.   He's a long term vet, but only has 2 full (150 games and over) seasons under his belt.  Not sure if it was injuries or what, don't know his history, but he's been relatively healthy in recent seasons, playing the most games and PA's of his career.

Only problem is that we probably want to keep Aoki too, as the offense was boosted when he was leading off for us, and, if anything, Pagan will probably not stay healthy for a year again (he's been out for significant time in each year of his four year contract with us, so far).   Byrd could take that last OF space, but then it becomes a sharing of LF starts between the two of them, and even though Aoki is a LHH, he hits LHP better, as does Byrd, only Byrd hits a lot better, and about equal vs. RHP.  

Byrd probably would be OK with not being a full-time starter (he's like Blanco, not playing full seasons but always getting significant playing time), but is used to starting regularly enough (most seasons over 400 PA). While Aoki is used to starting full-time.  So if both are kept, someone could be pretty unhappy (though Aoki noted recently that even had he vested his option, he would have chosen to stay with the Giants, he loves the area, the team, so could he take a lesser/shared role?).  Or perhaps at 38 and without much experience playing for a playoff team (only played in playoffs in 2013 for Pirates), Byrd would be happy with a bench role (at $8M, that's still a significant percentage of the money he has earned in baseball).  Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

19 comments:

  1. Not sure where you got your Pythagorean info from. As of 9/16, Baseball Prospectus: Dodgers- 88-56 (-4.7), Giants 81-64 (-5.2) Both teams about 5 wins below what they should be.

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    1. The data was from yesterday, but today's Baseball-Reference.com's has the Dodgers at 81-63 and Giants at 81-64 for Pythag records vs. Dodgers actual of 83-61 and Giants 76-69 actual. http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/NL/2015-standings.shtml

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  2. I posted these thoughts on Shankbone, modified slightly for flow and reader's understanding:

    I think both Leake and Cain are capable of stepping up as co-aces, so I think there is a good chance one of them will be that co-ace with Bumgarner next season.

    People forget or don't know, but Leake's career road ERA is 3.45, which is pretty good. He's not pitching half his games in GAB anymore. In fact, 3.24 ERA on the road the last three seasons, which would be good enough for 20th in the majors this season in overall ERA. That's ace territory. Add to that, in the future, roughly half his starts will be in AT&T, his overall ERA should be even lower than this road ERA.

    I still believe in Cain. The medical report is that he should be healthy, and he reported that his arm feels like it did when he was 18. Of course, he was pretty wild as an 18 YO, so that's probably part of the problem, but now he has a much more experienced brain running the arm, so I think that with a fully healthy off-season (vs. an off-season devoted to rehabbing) to prepare for ST, plus a full spring training, he should be at least good enough to hold a rotation spot, if not return to some semblance of his prior goodness.

    I expect Leake to be signed. The Giants under Sabean has preferred the bird in the hand vs. the ace in the bush, for the most part. I expect them to chase the aces and drive up their prices, but I don't expect them to sign any of them, mainly because it seems like players have their reasons to not chose SF, whether it be money (Boras clients), timing (Boras clients), or personal ties (home near signing team, know the GM/manager, history/know the team, or wife pushes one over SFG, like Greg Maddux's wife nixing the Giants).

    Bumgarner, Leake, Cain, Peavy, Heston. That's actually a pretty good rotation. Peavy, Cain, Heston would each fill the 3, 4, 5 spots, and it's interchangeable, in terms of odds of which slot they fall into. The 5th starter for most teams are pretty variable, usually not the same pitcher the whole season (usually not good enough), and I can see one of them just not performing for whatever reason, and the Giants would have Blackburn in reserve to take their spot. Then the other two would fill the 3/4 spots, the bar is not that high for those spots: average NL SP has 4.07 ERA. I think two of the three can easily be in the 3's ERA, beating that average.

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  3. Here's a good look at next year from Grantland:

    http://grantland.com/the-triangle/mlb-san-francisco-giants-even-year-2016-world-series/

    If Byrd n Aoki would accept it, I could see them and Pagan splitting time at LF+CF. It'd be a crazy amount of depth, but we saw this year that you can't have too much... I also doubt Pagan will ever play more than 120 games again. 100 might be his limit.

    With a lineup this good, your suggested rotation might be good enough to make the playofs, but it's another crapshoot. Peavy will be ayear older, so is likely to be a bit worse than this year. Heston we have no idea how he'll fare over a full season, especially now that teams have a book on him. And Cain... Cain hasn't been Cain since 2012. Expecting a return to form is asking a lot.

    That rotation feels a lot like this season: walking the tightrope w/o a net. A 3rd starter who we can expect to be good and not just hope would be a huge boost, and is well within the budget. The data in the article indicates that the Giants have a LOT of unused money for next year, and very few holes to fill.

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    1. Thanks for supplying the link, I had seen the article on Raising Cain, should have provided it here too. I should have linked the great first person article by Matt Duffy as well, every Giants fan should read that, talks about his view of "The Giants Way".

      The problem with Byrd/Aoki/Pagan sharing LF/CF is that, as bad defensively Pagan has been in CF, Aoki probably has been worse. Perhaps that is just SSS, as I recall vaguely when he was signed that he had played CF in Japan, so perhaps he could be better with practice in the majors.

      They could Burrell it by having Blanco come in for whomever is in CF late in the game, but that only works if the bench is 5 and not the shortened one at 4.

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    2. I agree that the rotation could be short. I forget to clarify whether what I'm writing about is what I recommend vs. what I see the Giants doing. In this case, this is what I see the Giants doing. Like any fan, I would love to get a Zimmerman or any of the other aces, the more the merrier. But like most moves, there's consequences.

      The Giants seem to be OK doing it in the way I described above. This leaves the opportunity available for their prospects to step up and make the rotation, which Heston did. I think that they were expecting someone to be ready by mid-season, but neither Crick (injury/issues), Blach, Stratton, nor Blackburn (injury then slow to come into form, then tired) was able to do that. I also thought that Beede would be ready, but I was wrong because the Giants had him changing everything up from what he was doing before, teaching him new pitches, so that slowed him up, then while he did OK in Advanced A, he had a stumble in AA.

      So I think that, again, the Giants will leave a spot open for these guys to step up, with Blackburn probably the Heston of 2016, and Beede or Stratton might be ready too, and I give Bickford an outside chance as well.

      That seems to be the Sabean Way for a long while now, having creaky/good or healthy/OK players as placeholders, if you will, for the young prospects that they are expecting to be ready in the next season.

      As I noted in a number of times in the past, the Giants model for competitiveness in the 2009-2012 timeframe is that they have in their rotation 3 good starters (Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Sanchez, Vogelsong), 1 average starter (Zito being the main role holder), and 1 typical 5th starter.

      Bumgarner and Leake would be two of the three good starters. So then it becomes a matter of getting a good performance from Peavy, Cain, or Heston. So it is not a matter of expecting that Cain will return to form, but that one of these three steps up and provide that third good starter.

      I think that there is some probability of Cain returning to normal, but to your point, expecting a return is asking a lot, after seeing what happened this season. Then there is some probability of Peavy being a good starter, which he has been, mostly, for the Giants, but to expect him to be healthy for a full season is asking a lot as well. Heston has been mostly up, but has had problems later in the season.

      This is actually something he went through last season as well, his performance went down around the same time as well. Last off-season, from what I read, he went on a fitness program to add some weight, and that accounted for his increase in velocity when the season started. I'm hoping that he will work also on his stamina: now that he's a regular part of the rotation and after optioning him for, basically, being too tired, the training staff should be setting up some sort of program for him to build up his stamina this coming off-season.

      The thing is, even with his issues late in the season, Heston still has a 3.61 ERA. Out of qualified starters, that is good for 20th in the NL, so while he's not considered a #2 starter, if you took all the NL teams and let them start selecting pitchers in order of ERA, he's in borderline ace (top 15) territory. For example, Zimmerman, who people (including me) have been drooling over, has a 3.51 ERA, and Cueto is at 3.47 ERA. Heston was sitting in the 3.30's for most of the summer until recent starts pushed him up. So while nobody would call him an ace, his ERA is up there with some of the aces being named as targets.

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    3. As noted, I see a lot of people wishing on the big starters available this off-season. I expect the Giants to be mixing it up, but it has not been the Giants way to hope to fill a spot, they like the bird in the hand, and that is why I think the Giants will pursue Leake most of all and sign him. Just in case they don't get him, they will be actively talking with other free agents as well, assuming he's not signed before he becomes a free agent.

      Well, if Leake is signed, we got a full rotation, so getting another ace, while affordable and available, would mean that the Giants would have to do something they haven't done in the past: either push out one of the three, or force Cain, Peavy, Heston to battle for the final two spots. Could leave an unhappy player on the 25-man roster, or force a trade/DFA.

      Pushing out Heston would be the most incongruous thing, even if they made it a competition for the two spots. They have seemed to have built a culture where if a prospect is performing well in the minors and then get to the majors and performs well, he's got a spot. Bumping Heston to the minors would go against all that history, plus be discouraging to the current minor leaguers.

      It would go against the ethos that Duffy describes in his article (he's got a future in writing when he's done in the majors): http://www.theplayerstribune.com/matt-duffy-giants-the-new-kid/

      While I'm at it, here's a link to a great Hank Schulman discussion of the SP situation: http://www.sfchronicle.com/giants/article/Giants-will-have-many-tempting-targets-among-6497114.php?t=a2035bdd1c5c56181f&cmpid=twitter-premium

      It was very good, and if it wasn't that poor health is what freed up Hank to do such good work, I would suggest that he does this full time.

      And I just realized that juxtaposition of Heston and Leake, they are both 27, but while one is just starting his career, the other is about to sign a very lucrative contract. Now Hank suggests that Leake would get a 6 year, $90M contract. That would buy us his 33 YO season, so, contrary to my initial thought, that is possible.

      And I like $15M as his AAV, I was going to suggest a 4 year because while he's a good pitcher, he's not an elite one, and generally it is the elites who gets 6 years. Even Cain and Lincecum only got 5-year offers. Or put another way, only Zito has gotten more than a 5-year contract from the Giants, though as Hank noted, Lester got a reported 6-year offer (but again to my point, elite pitcher).

      Perhaps it'll be a compromise. It could be 5 years at $75M with buy-out option of $5M for a total of $80M, but team option of $15M for the 6th season.

      Hank also makes the very good case that long contracts like the ones the aces will get have not been good long-term investments, that most have not worked out.

      So I'm liking his 6 year, $90M contract for Leake more and more now. Nobody will be offering him that long, so that would be a "buy him now" type of move, he wouldn't really have to think about it, because no other team is probably going to offer that for him. However, as I outlined above, he's been pretty good away from Cincy, and even with a 6 year contract, he would only be 33 YO at the end, some pitchers are still very effective at that age, Baseball Forecaster's ageing study found that pitcher value is still reliable in that early 30's age range.

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    4. So getting an ace would basically mean pushing out Peavy, as Cain got a spot and Heston should get a spot, and Peavy is a good buddy of Bochy. I can't see Bochy being part of that decision making, and I can see him being angry about it. And it's not like he's performing poorly. If you take out his two poor starts at the start of the season, when he was being stupid and trying to pitch with his physical problems, he has a 3.60 ERA since he has returned to the rotation, just slightly ahead of Heston's full season ERA (and over that same time period, Heston has a 3.36 ERA, even with his recent struggles, just to point out how good Heston has been for us this summer, he took things up a notch from early season when nobody knew him).

      So I understand drooling over signing an ace. If I had my druthers, the only ace I would pursue hard, assuming he is available, is Greinke, because he's a win-win pursuit. We really win if we get him and the Dodger's lose him, they will be forced to go even more overboard to find a replacement, plus lessen the odds of them having Kershaw, Greinke, plus adding another ace level starter. But even if he returns to LA (and that's really the most likely scenario, barring any really embarrassing finish to LA's season), the Giants pursuit would cost LA plenty, I assume. And, of course, if we do sign him, then someone will lose a rotation spot unless the Giants finally goes with a 6-man rotation.

      Would we be better with another ace? Yes, undoubtedly, and it would be exciting in all CAPS.

      But more to the point, will the Giants do it? As I noted above, it does not fit their M.O. Leake is the most likely target, they won't give up Mella and Duvall for a rental, they will push hard to sign him, and the only reasoning I can see for pursuing any of the aces is if he is not signed (as Hank noted too).

      And once someone is signed, we have a full rotation, with Blackburn, Beede, Stratton, Blach, probably in that order, waiting in the minors, with Blackburn looking very ready for his close-up.

      Any other SP signing, I can see the Giants signing someone to the 2015 Vogelsong role. As I've noted, I'm hoping the Giants sign Lincecum for a super utility reliever role, which he would take at some point. But they could decide to move on from both Vogelsong and Lincecum, and sign someone else for that role.

      It's not exciting but that's the way the Giants have been operating for a while. It is what it is, and while the money might be there for the ace, it don't mean that the Giants might prefer to keep that to sign their current future free agents, like Belt and Crawford.

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    5. Oh, I agree that just re-signing Leake is what the Giants will probably do... but I always talk in terms of what they SHOULD do. :)

      I believe Pettite's contract is up (and he regressed this year), so we won't have anyone in the "6th starter role", which I will always refer to as "The Mota".

      That means that even if we sign Leake + an ace FA, there's still roster spots for all 6 "starters". In that situation, numbers would push Cain or Peavy there, but I assume politics would make Heston "The Mota".

      But that's only to start the year. As we saw this year, the likelihood of 5 guys being healthy AND good for an entire season is near-zero. Giving the 4 and 5 to Cain and Peavy doesn't mean they'll be there in September. How many guys started for the Giants this year? Checking.... by season's end, EIGHT guys will have started at least 9 games. Having fewer crappy guys might lower that to 7, but that would still indicate it's likely that Heston AND one rookie would both get opportunities to make the rotation next year, even with an extra FA ace.

      Peavy's contract is up after next year, I believe. So you can either reload now, while you have the money and good options, or be forced to do so next year, when you may have neither.

      By the time their current players are due raises, Cain's money will be coming off the books. They have a LOT of money to spend.

      My biggest concern is this (far too likely) scenario for next year: Cain is a shell of himself. Peavy, a year older, gets hurt and/or struggles. The league catches up to Heston. Rookies get pressed into 2 starting spots for most of the year, and the 3-4-5 starters perform about the same as this year. (shudder)

      The Giants can afford to sign an ace. The team would be significantly better (and deeper) with an ace. Not doing it because it might hurt the feelings of guys who aren't good enough to cement their spots is a terrible reason.

      The question is whether they're going to spend 10+m on a junky 6th-starter-type, or just get what they really need and let merit sort the rotation out.

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    6. Well, I pick and chose where I talk about what the Giants should do, speaking when I either think I have enough information (and frankly, we are lacking information a lot) or just feel something and want to say it (hence why I blog :^). Like defending Sabean since I published my draft study, even though the vast majority of Giants fans have been mocking him, or worse, wanted him gone. And as one blogger has said about me before, all I want to do is talk about the Giants. Celebrate the highs, commiserate the lows (like now).

      And here, I'm see both sides of the equation (which is usually why I don't always say what one should do, because usually there are lots of good reasons not to do something as well as lots of good reasons to do something).

      But lets go through all your points. First off, Petit only regressed from what people hyped him up to be after his great stretch last season. What he's been has been a good starter when given the regular starts, lousy starter when given the spot starts, and OK to good reliever when given that role.

      I like the term "the Mota".

      He's under our control for one more season, if we chose, and becomes a free agent for sure in 2017, assuming someone don't sign him up to a long term contract. He'll probably get something in the $3M range. That's what I'm hoping the Giants offer Lincecum, so perhaps they could trade him and keep Lincecum instead in that role.

      Again, I don't see the Giants punishing Heston just because of politics. They might do that move, to your point, if they don't think he has the stamina to last the 2016 season (he clearly petered out in August, much like in 2014), so they could Mota him for that reason, figuring that one of the older pitchers (Peavy, Cain) could/would break down, particularly Peavy.

      See, you are upset by the Giants using 8 different SP for significant number of starts. That's where Giants fans are spoiled, teams regularly go through such periods of instability, for whatever reasons (injury, low performance, lack of stamina). This was on the extreme side, I'll agree, but this is normalcy for almost every other team than the Giants from 2009 to 2014.

      Yes, Peavy's contract is up after 2016. But I'm not convinced yet that we have a lot of money to spend this off-season without incurring the penalty. I went through a quick analysis, counting up which contracts we drop and who gets raises, and what I came up with was basically we could get Leake and Byrd. I don't know how others came up with there being more money, but until I see a full accounting, I think we can't afford a co-ace and a Leake.

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    7. Fear of the unknown is what has driven a lot of Giants fans in the past. But, really, most is unknown, even what you think is known. For example, Bumgarner has been a horse and seem invulnerable, but that's exactly how Cain was viewed up to his Perfecto: horse, innings eater, etc. But scouts feared his cross-body throws would eventually lead to injury. So you could add him to your worry list.

      So yeah, Cain could be a shell of himself. Peavy could get hurt and struggle. The league could catch up with Heston.

      And the co-ace you sign could also become a shell of himself, get hurt and struggle, or the league could catch up with him, and now you owe him $100-200+ for the next 5-10 years. That makes me shudder.

      It made me shudder when Bonds was signed, it made me shudder when Zito and Rowand were signed, it made me shudder when Posey was signed, it made me shudder when Cain was signed. I felt good about the Pence deal, and look at what happened this season, and we have no idea whether this lingers into next season as well, how's that for a shudder.

      And really, if all that you laid out for the rotation does happen (you called this a "far too likely" scenario), Bumgarner and the co-ace is not going to be able to win enough games, with Leake in support, to get us into the playoffs, so why even risk signing the co-ace? And risk having him join that long list of disappointments?

      Because that's the thing you are missing, pessimism for our pitchers can be applied to other pitchers too. Because healthy 30+ YO pitchers are entering the zone when anything can happen, and that is the territory you enter with the co-aces available. Why is it so very likely that our pitchers ALL will collectively fail, while the co-ace you sign escapes all that?

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    8. I'm only upset at 8 pitchers being used because it was completely predictable. I'm not upset that we've used 716 position players this year (estimated), because there was no way to predict or prepare for the injury bug... err, injury swarm of locusts that descended on us. But the rotation looked terrible in March, so it turning out terrible is frustrating.

      On the money, I'm going based on the Grantland article. The author has been very good with research, and said the Giants have about 60+M of this year's budget uncommited for next year. Some of that will be eaten up by options on guys like Aoki, but that's still a ton of cash.

      And sure, a lot of teams have terrible rotations... but a lot of teams don't make the playoffs.

      As for "pessimism", I prefer to call it "realism". :)

      I'm not looking for downsides, I'm just noticing clear question marks. You can't prepare for every contingency (like say, Posey's ankle injury), but you'd better prepare for the most likely ones. Every pitcher has a likelihood of being great vs a likelihood of being awful. Sure, Cain COULD win the Cy Young next year, and Grienke COULD be terrible... but the most likely outcome is very different.

      It's all about confidence levels. The Giants are currently paying Lincecum 18M for a terrible performance. That deal wasn't dumb because he was so bad, it was dumb because a sane person couldn't have had any confidence he would be worth 18M.

      What performance level do you think is most likely for Peavy/Cain/Heston? Personally, I'd peg each as a 4th/5th starter level, with non-starter being more likely than I'm comfortable with. There's not a lot of upside there (Heston has the most), and there's a lot of downside (Cain especially is a huge question mark).

      Similarly, a guy like Grienke is worth pursuing because we can have high confidence that he'll be great. There may be "aces" that don't inspire that kind of confidence (Zito was one for most people) - those guys shouldn't be pursued if they're getting huge offers. But there are LOTS of guys who I'd have more confidence in than Peavy, Cain and Heston. That's why I think sticking to those three would be a season-risking error.

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    9. I'll agree to differ on the budget until I go through the numbers. Here's what I did: I took all the contracts that were ending, then added up all the contracts getting raises in 2016 and subtracted that from the saved money. I came up with roughly $45M ending, and $20-25M in raises - the only way the $60M figure works is if there is a boost in revenues I'm not aware of that is roughly in the $40M range. So color me skeptical that he got his numbers right. And I like the author, but Grantland also bothers me because I cannot complain about all the facts that they got wrong in any of the articles they publish.

      My generic complaint is that unless the writer is following the team full-time, he won't know as much details as he will need in order to comment properly on the Giants. Like Sanchez's complaint below about not bringing in Perez sooner, he was injured and recovering/rehabbing for much of the season, that's detail that most generalists don't know and thus make poor statements like this as "advice" for the Giants. I find that our beat writers and Eno Sarris of Fangraphs have been capable of writing on the Giants without annoying me greatly.

      Not that good ideas can't come from other authors (I agree with the Greinke idea, I thought of that too once I learned that he could opt out), just that when you get substantial details wrong about the team, their ideas fall down like a house of cards.

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    10. You say "realism". Realism is that Peavy has been injured nearly every season and missing (or not performing well) for large parts of a season for the past almost 10 years. Cain, on the other hand, has been a very accomplished pitcher for many years, never injured until this season when recovering from surgery, pitched well when he was returned to the rotation, but then his lack of a proper strengthening program, interrupted by his off-season rehab, led him to falter in the second half of starts he had. He should have a full off-season to prepare for 2016, and a full spring training as well. Yes, some possibility he fails, but some possibility that he succeeds as well.

      Heston, on the other hand, was a very good pitcher into July, he had a good 2.83 K/BB at the end of July. You don't carry a 3.14 ERA into August just totally by luck.

      Then once he tired out in August, his walks went up and his K's went down, he actually had more walks than K's.

      So yes, some probability that Heston is figured out by the league (his last three starts suggests some regression), but the way I view it, he has shown more that he's a good pitcher than he is an average pitcher. He's at minimum a #4, as you suggest, but there is also a good probability that he's at least a #3, again, he carried a 3.14 ERA into August, and he's currently at a 3.61 ERA, which is more than good enough to be a #3 starter.

      So I agree that Peavy, I would put as #5 starter because he'll be in and out, but between Cain and Heston, I think you can expect one of them to be good enough to be a #3 with the other as #4 (especially with Blackburn waiting in the wings, and perhaps Beede or Stratton), and Leake has been good enough to be a #2, and Bumgarner #1. A co-ace would be great to have, and if there is money for it, I hope the Giants entertain it, particularly for Greinke, but I don't think it's a season-risking error.

      It's pessimism to think that all three are likely to happen. Peavy, I will agree. But basically you think Cain will not come back and that Heston is all washed up, for your scenario to happen. I agree that there is some likelihood of either happening, but low odds of both happening. We just need one of them to figure it out to have a good three man of Bumgarner, Leake, the performer of the two. Then Peavy, the second guy, and minor leaguers will fill in the 4/5 spots until we can trade for someone mid-season.

      So we can agree to disagree. It's a slippery slope once you start getting players angry about your team costing them a chance to make money (and that's what you'll be doing if you shove Peavy or Heston in the Mota role, other players will note it and it will pass through the grape vine; Peavy would want chance to earn next contract, Heston will see how great he did this season and note the lack of confidence the team put in him by replacing him so quickly, and other rookies will notice that too). The Giants have been able to get pretty good performances out of players like Duffy, Tomlinson, Heston, Petit and others by welcoming them in and rewarding good performances, but picking up another ace to shove out Heston and Petit would send the message loud and clear to other rookies. They have enough things to deal with already, but this would just add another thing for them to think about.

      And if you instead trade Peavy away, potential free agents will note that as well, they sign the long term contracts hoping for some stability with one team, but that's the message you will send out if you dump on Peavy in some way, whether you Mota him or trade him.

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    11. To be clear, I'm not saying all 3 will fail next year. Only one has to fail to make room for Leake + a new ace, and still end up with a rookie as the Mota. (6 failed due to injury and/or poor play this year).

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    12. Thank you for clarifying. OK, I'm seeing your point more now, you are saying that most likely a spot will open up for the new Ace to slot in, given the strong odds that one of the pitchers will be injured/failed.

      The problem with that logic is that there is also a good chance that, while to your point, someone will have problems some time next year, the 6-7 starters you envision for 2016 will be healthy come Opening Day, play ball. Bumgarner, Ace, Leake, Cain, Peavy, and Heston will be most likely be healthy come starting day, Blackburn too.

      As I noted above, if the vets pitch well enough, Heston will be sent down, even if he pitched well too. That's a bad message to send to the prospects.

      But I suppose if the Giants get ahead of this and let Heston know what their plans are, and pass the word to the other prospects, they might be able to make it work. I guess it will depend on how gracious Heston is regarding being demoted. Frandsen wasn't, and sulked his way off of the team, playing horribly in AAA. And I've seen their instructors make the point to prospects that even if they might get traded in the future, playing well now will get them to the majors sooner.

      This is a management issue, and I suppose the Giants could have the skills to pull it off. It is a risk, just as giving a co-ace big money would be a risk, but I guess it could be done and see how things fall out. OK, you are selling me more on this point now.

      The fact that 6 failed due to injury and/or poor play has no play with how many will fail next year, other than for those who will still be in the rotation. And that's Cain, Peavy, and hopefully Leake (I'll be surprised if he leaves).

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    13. Assuming we get to opening day will our starters healthy (didn't come close this year), Heston still wouldn't have to be sent down. He could take Pettite's slot as "The Mota" and stay on the big league roster.

      Delete
  4. Management created a lot of the bad luck.Pagan should have been out on DL as soon as he was injured.We had Blanco,Perez,Parker to fill in.Bullpen was overworked with guys like Osich,Broadway,Hall able to fill in.Tomlinson could have helped keep Panik and Crawford healthy.I think that would have helped win some of those close ball games.

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    Replies
    1. Injuries were the problem. Sure, we had Blanco to fill in CF, but then would have had to use Maxwell in RF to replace Pence. Maxwell was hot and cold, but mostly cold, I still can't believe he complained about his cut openly because no playoff contender would have been interested in a hitter below 600 OPS for an offensive position like corner OF.

      Perez, you apparently was not aware that he was dealing with Achilles tendinitis and a wrist issue for much of the season, he was not healthy until after the All-Star break (and was placed on the DL just before that, to help speed the healing). He batted .236/.291/.356/.647 up to the DL, had a quick rehab in San Jose, and started hitting again in Sacramento in the second half of July. After 3 weeks of good hitting there, they brought him up to the majors, once he was healthy and productive. So he wasn't really available to us until he was brought up.

      Parker was totally lost batting in the majors his first time up. Using Duffy's comment, he looked up and got overwhelmed, striking out 6 times in 10 ABs, and when he returned, he continued to struggle. He eventually got hot, but nobody maintains a .500+ BABIP forever, and at the end of the season, he ended the season cold. I'm happy for him that he's been hitting since he got another call-up, but to say it was a mistake to not bring him up earlier is just a case of looking in the rear view mirror, even when he was hitting white hot for a month in AAA, he still struck out 40 times in only 113 AB, and that only gets worse when you get promoted.

      Hall has a 6.75 ERA with only 6.8 K/9, albeit in 3 games. The 40 man was jammed packed and only injuries opened up the space for him to join the team. Broadway has not done much better with a 5 ERA and high walk rate, as well as low K/BB ratio.

      Tomlinson had a hard enough time handling 2B, I don't think he could have provided any useful defense at SS for us had he been brought up sooner. In addition to that, he didn't hit all that well in AAA to suggest that he would be able to hit just as well in the majors. He did OK in terms of contact rate, which suggested that he should be able to hit in the majors, but given how poorly he hit in AAA, he did not look like he would do all that well, maybe Neifi-ish.

      Most of what you suggest is just deck chair moving on the Titanic, throwing things to the wall and hoping that something sticks, because many of your complaints are about players who, based on their minor league performances, gave no indication that they would amount to much in the majors. That is not management.

      Delete

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