Monday, December 14, 2015

Start Spreading the News: Giants Sign Johnny Cueto to 6 years, $130M

Getting news off Twitter:

  • Cueto has agreed to deal, now pending physical, as usual.
  • $130M over 6 years, so more than D-backs offer ($21.67M AAV for threshold purposes)
  • Opt-out after two years, team option for 7th
  • $23M for first two years, $21M over final four

ogc thoughts

Wow!  Assuming all goes well, that gives the Giants this rotation:  Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija, Peavy, Cain with Heston as long relief and Blackburn as first up if they need another starter and want to keep Heston in familiar role, which they will most probably do if Blackburn continues to dominate AAA.  Cueto ends up the Giants #2 upgrade, and Samardzija becomes the upgrade over Heston.

This almost ensures that Cueto is leaving after two years, barring massive injury problems (see Cain's struggles), as his salary after the opt-out is lower.  With salary inflation, basically the last four seasons are priced at average WAR range, roughly 2 WAR, and he has averaged 3.5 fWAR and 4.4 bWAR the past four years, and in full seasons, 4.5 fWAR in his full seasons over that span (bad news is he missed most of 2013 due to lat and shoulder problems, but good news is 455.2 IP in the two seasons since, plus 25.0 playoff innings;  I guess the Giants are not scared by 2013 healthy problems) and averaged 6.0 bWAR per 162 game season.   No reason for him not to opt-out unless he's really injured, like 2013 type of injury.  

Just as analysis has praised Chicago for buying Heyward's next few years on the cheap if he produces, same for the Giants with Cueto.   There is a lot of risk to the team if anything happens, but Cueto has been mostly healthy and he has to be pretty healthy the past two seasons to throw as many innings as he did, and when he was producing, he was producing at ace level production, so he could fall off a lot and the contract still works out OK for the Giants.

Here's the odd part:  while Cueto is clearly by salary and performance so far better than Samardzija, over the 2012-2015 period, Samardzija has basically the same kwERA and SIERA, which are talent evaluating metrics, suggesting that they are equally talented (but Cueto has produced much more so far):

  • Samardzija:  #26, 3.50 kwERA; #35, 3.57 SIERA, #28, 15.6% K-BB%
  • Cueto:  #28, 3.51 kwERA;  #32, 3.55 SIERA; #26, 15.6% K-BB%

Here's another odd part:  Cueto has been much better at home (mostly Cincy) than on the road:

  • Home:  3.00 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 3.68 K/BB
  • Road:   3.56 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 2.30 K/BB
  • But SF: 1.69 ERA, 5.9 K/9, 1.75 K/BB (3 starts, poorer in 2012 and 2014 starts; 2011 great)
Furthermore, while we all would put Bumgarner as the Opening Day starter, one can make the argument that Cueto should get that assignment, as he has averaged 6.0 bWAR over the past four seasons, whereas Bumgarner has averaged 5.0 bWAR over the past three seasons.   He has been arguably more productive over the past few seasons, though it should be noted that Bumgarner has been superior in talent:  #13, 3.07 kwERA, #14, 3.19 SIERA, #14, 19.2% K-BB%.  

In any case, we have the co-aces Giants fans have been hoping for this off-season, perhaps not Greinke level, but plenty good enough and the good news is that LA still lost Greinke, due to D-backs literally last minute negotiations, did in in 5.5 hours, jumping from owner to team president to La Russa to Stewart (finally, since he's the GM; shows how involved the owner and others can be in acquiring top talent).  

Plus, Samardzija becomes a great #3 starter for us.  Based on prior production, he's a #3 starter, which is basically what we are paying him for, as well as a horse in the rotation, which you don't always find #3.  If the Giants can figure out how to bring out the 2014 version of the Shark, then he's at #2 levels of production, if not ace levels.  Low risk, lots of reward possible now that he's our #3 starter and not #2 starter.

Move At Minimum is About Capitalizing on Next Two Years

Big THANKS to the owners!  This is clearly a move by the owners to win in the window of the next two seasons, at minimum.  At $21M over the last four years of the contract, basically this is a two year contract and then Cueto opts out if he's healthy for the most part.  This is because at $21M, he's basically being paid to be an average pitcher in those last four years, as the $/WAR by then will be roughly around $10M/WAR.

Given that Cueto has averaged roughly 4 WAR (between fWAR and bWAR) over the past four seasons, and that's including his injury shortened year, and produced at a 6.0 bWAR pace over the past four seasons, he would have to decline a lot (to less than a third of prior performance) in his 31 and 32 YO seasons (unlikely) for him not to dip into the free agency honeypot again after the 2017 season.   So he is most probably gone after two years unless the Giants decide to re-up him before he goes free agent (very possible if he's still producing at 6 WAR).

The risk to the Giants is that he starts to decline, and it would have to be a pretty catastrophic decline (over 67% in two seasons) for that to happen.  Of course, we have seen that happen with Lincecum.   So, essentially, this is basically the Giants shifting the contract that they would have given to Lincecum over to Cueto, taking on that risk once again.   The great contract that they gave Bumgarner that covers most of those years helps them do this.  So does the relatively cheap infield that covers most of these years as well.

The Giants Did Great This Off-season

This should shut up all the people who have been complaining about the Giants this off-season.   I know that they will claim to have forced the Giants to have done that.  Just like they forced the Giants to sign Vlad before, or sign Maddux, or sign Lester, or not to sign Zito and Rowand, I'm sure the Giants listened to these people (NOT!).  

That's why I don't get too riled up about how the off-season is going, things can change a lot, like this off-season, or you could get disappointed, like we were when it turned out that AJP was our big move that off-season when Sabean said that it was just the start.  Act like you've lived a little, as Gary Radnich likes to say.   Act like you've been through this before.  This is what I've been calling "Chicken Little" behavior for years now, as they run around complaining that the sky is falling, which they do every year, even before recent even years, and also during even years, they just never seem to learn.

Not that the Giants are perfect in what they do, there were certainly things to complain about.  But crying about everything got the "boy who cried wolf" nothing.  Give credit where plenty of credit is due, for any front office who is able to deliver 3 in 5.

There is a need to take the big picture in hand.  There is a need to not worry about the small things.  There is a need to have perspective.  There is a need to let things unfold, because the off-season can change a lot and ultimately nothing really matters until we get to opening day and see who we have on our 25-man roster.

The Big Picture:  Giants Looking Good to Try to Repeat in 2016-2017

And that's repeat as in winning in 2016 and 2017, or at minimum keeping the string going after 3 in 5.  The Giants are not only going for 4 in 7, but also 5 in 8.  That's exciting a move as they have ever done in this dynasty period.  That's putting the pedal to the metal in a big way.  And they are paying the two pitchers roughly what they would have given Greinke and a replacement LF like Byrd.  I like this alternative much more than getting Greinke, the risks now is if both don't deliver, which I view as a lower risk than hoping Greinke makes it OK.

A rotation of Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija, Peavy, and Cain, plus Heston and Blackburn is pretty darn good, potentially great if Cain returns to Cainer form.  Return of Cain would give us four starters capable of 210+ IP and sub-3 ERA.  And given Bochy's love of alternating, and Madison's lack of ego, it would not surprise me to see an opening rotation of Cueto, Bumgarner, Samardzija, Peavy, and Cain, and if Cain is returned to prior form, he and Peavy could end up swapping.  In any case, now we have three horses who can put up 210-220 IP each, saving the bullpen 30-50 IP each, allowing Bochy to use them, not only less, but more judiciously.

And our bullpen is pretty great.  All the guys are capable of delivering ERA's below 3.  And Heston probably will do well in long relief, if he ends up with that role (most probably).  Plus, Bochy can alternate the Core Three with the young guys in the back end, giving the old vets even more rest while preparing the NextGen Core relievers to take over, as our older relievers are only contracted for 2016.  I see Casilla returning, he seems to appreciate what the Giants have done for him, and Romo might return as well, but not at the $9M he's getting this season, I can see him possibly moving on, but Lopez will be 39 in 2017, and most probably gone.

Lastly, the lineup was pretty great last season when most of the key players were in the lineup.  Which mostly only happened when Pence was in the lineup.  The team averaged over 5 runs per game with him in the lineup.  Even in his later games when Aoki was already out with his injuries (and back briefly) and replaced by poor hitting Blanco, Maxwell, and Aoki in his return, the team average over 5 runs scored per game.

The perspective people need here is that we have a great top 6 hitters in Posey, Belt, Panik, Duffy, Crawford, Pence.  It will not matter all that much what the LF or Pagan will be doing, anything that they do will be the whip cream on the top of the yummy offensive sundae we got on the Giants.   If the Giants decide to go into the penalty phase - and as I noted previously, while 30%, it is only on the overage, not the total amount, so the fee is relatively small if they can add a good player in the $10-15M range in LF.

And More:  Team of the 2010 Decade with an Exclamation Point!

And the good times don't need to end in 2017.   Our young hitters are still controlled to the end of the decade.  Bumgarner is controlled to 2019 (there WILL be an extension, probably after either 2016 or 2017 season.  And Samardzija is controlled to 2020.  Cueto could be controlled to then, we'll see.

Meanwhile, the Giants have Blackburn, Stratton, Blach, Beede, Bickford, Mejia, Coonrod, Johnson all rising, some to take a cheap rotation spot, some to trade to get upgrades.   We have a lot of pitchers coming up the reliever path like Black, Hall, Law, Okert, Gardeck, Diaz, Slania, Smith, Agosta, Crick, plus any starters who are pushed into relief roles.   There is Arroyo, Williamson, Fox, Shaw, Miller, Fargas, Cole, Slater, Vizcaino, coming up, plus Susac and Tomlinson already here, plus Adrianza, who I still have hopes for.

Giants Musical Chairs Stopped for Leake

This signing also means that Leake is left out now.  He is not returning to the Giants unless the Giants trade Peavy, which I don't see happening, since he and Bochy are good buddies.  The good news for him is that the Giants move could force the Dodgers to be more aggressive, after losing Greinke, while the Giants added Cueto and Samardzija and D-backs added Greinke and Miller.

Heck, this could make the D-backs more eager to add Leake, so this could work out for Leake in the end, if this move accomplishes this, as he has really wanted to sign with Arizona, enough to keep the Giants away.   Now it's ironic, but Evans said the market might move too slow for the Giants to sign Leake, but ends up the Giants signed two SP before Leake signs anywhere.

Some might note that the Giants ended up trading for Leake and losing a number of prospects, but it essentially ends up with the Giants getting Cueto instead of Leake in the following years, a clear upgrade and nothing to complain about.  And the Giants don't lose a pick for Cueto either.  To complain about this just makes you a Naysayer who hasn't given up your bias against Sabean and gang, even after 3 in 5.

Good Bye Lincecum

This also means good-bye to Lincecum unless he's willing to take a very small contract from the Giants, and basically would be competing with Heston for the long relief role.  Given that his goal is to start, and there are a lot of rebuilding teams who should be willing to give him a small base MLB contract plus incentives PLUS a starting spot, I don't see how he does not move on from the Giants, unless he sees how great the Giants will be over the next two years and wants to be part of it, damn the role.  

In addition, Heston still has at least one option left, as the Giants did note that perhaps he goes back to AAA to work on things, so the possibility is that the Giants could move him there to accommodate Lincecum on the roster.  But this is highly unlikely, barring Lincecum being extremely sentimental and/or extremely exciting over being with the Giants in 2016.   Thanks for everything Timmy, it has been great!

Payroll Budget Left

Per my calculations, the Giants only have $2.5M before passing penalty threshold and $6.1M before passing payroll target of $180M.   So unless they make a trade for a pre-arb LF, they most likely will be going with Blanco as presumptive starting LF (as Evans alluded to as possibility in early pressers), with Blanks, Parker, and Williamson battling for the starting job as well.  Though Pavlovic tweeted that a trade is possible.

The Giants are done spending money, for the most part.  The have pushed the limits, surprisingly and happily.  They are doing what a lot of fans have been begging for, to spend all the money possible to get repeats going in the coming years.  It might not work out, but nobody can say that the Giants didn't go all-in for 2016-2017, they are right on the penalty threshold right now, even signing back Aoki, if he were available, would have pushed them over.   The best that they can sign is probably someone like de Aza, or another low level free agent who had a bad year and is looking to rebuild his value.  Or just want to be on this power-packed team who looks destined for greatness in the next two years.

Go Giants!


  1. Interesting deal, if he pitches really well, we have him for two years, and then we go to our young arms. if he does not pitch that well. we have him for six years with a 7th year option. We now have another Dominican Dandy. Maybe Juan Marichal can give him some pointers. Overall I like the rotation of Bummy, Cueto, the Shark, Cain and Peavy. We should have some back up arms in Heston, and guys almost ready in the minors. No Vogey or Petit to step in. Machi now a Cub on a minor league deal.

    1. One of my points is that he has to fall a long way to not have him leave in two years. And that would most probably relates to injury than decline, given that his mechanics is what makes him so deadly, yes, much like Marichal.

      I would add Blackburn to Heston and perhaps put him ahead, as much as I like Heston, because Bochy likes to keep guys in current roles.

      I like Vogey and Petit, but Heston and Blackburn makes good and cheap replacements, Blackburn totally dominated AAA and yet nobody is raving about him. If he gets the chance, I think he will surprise.

      Machi is old news, gone mid-season, and our bullpen is not only already full of guys better than him, we got guys lined up in the minors who are probably better, Law, Okert, Hall, Black, among others, these are the ones more ready to see in 2016.

  2. The 2-yr aspect of the deal also shows the Giants' confidence in their young pitchers, that they don't feel they need to lock Cueto up long-term. The guys that maybe aren't quite ready this year should be ready for when Cueto goes elsewhere. Locking down 4 rotation spots long-term would block someone. And with a lot of guys coming due for big raises in the next few years, it makes sense to give cheap young pitchers a chance to prove they're cheapyounggood.

    As for LF, I'd still call letting Aoki go a mistake if they don't sign someone of similar ability/contract, since he was soooo cheap for what he can provide. But it's not a deadly mistake.

    One option it might open up is letting one of the young catchers have an extended shot to prove himself, with more time for Posey at 1B and Belt in LF. If either young catcher can hit a lick, that's likely going to be our best offensive lineup.

    1. Yes, good point about the confidence being shown in young starters. I think Blackburn will surprise people at how good he is, I think he can be like Cain coming in, not as good, but good enough to hold spot in rotation, perhaps even top of rotation, as he's a pitcher.

      We actually only have two spots locked long term in Bumgarner and Samardzija. Cueto could be, but if he's bad enough not to opt out, the Giants could decide to eat his contract, it is not like they won't DFA someone (cough, Rowand) just because he's owed a lot of money, if that holds back a young better pitcher. Peavy is gone after 2016, and Cain's contract is done after 2017 (I expect him to return, as I expect him to be back to pretty goodness, though not Cain historic goodness, but still good enough I think). So anywhere from 1 to 3 spots can be opened up in the next two seasons, depending on how things go.

      There's $52M+ coming off the payroll after 2016, and only $11M in raises, plus whatever Belt gets bump in salary in 2017, but he's still under arb, so maybe $3-5M more, depending on how he does in 2016. And he might get an extension in spring. So roughly another $30M free.

      I think that's the bigger reason that they are spending big now, they have a relatively cheap lineup and bullpen to be, so they could shift monies to the starting rotation right now, and even then there is the possible turnover as well (Cain frees up $14M after 2017, less they pick up his option), freeing chances for the cheap young pitchers to prove out.

      The question is not whether Aoki was cheap and good for what he did (which he was, and why I thought he would be kept), but how much of an upgrade is he over just giving Blanco the starting role, plus this gives Williamson and Parker a chance to win a role, and to your point, a chance for a young cheap player to prove out. He's not a huge upgrade, and had he been kept, the Giants would have gone over the threshold and paid the 30% tax. So his salary, instead of being $5.5M, with the tax, we would be effectively paying $7.0M for Aoki's services, and how much more would he produce over Blanco, who is relatively cheap for what he does as well? Aoki is still cheap, but do you see what I mean?

      And Blanco is starting to decline, his CF defense was not above average last season, and he is a free agent and could be gone, and probably gone, as he should be able to get a starting job somewhere, given how much he produced for us each season playing part-time. Time to find a young replacement on the bench, maybe it's Parker, maybe it's Williamson, maybe one can do even better and start. And don't forget Blanks, if not for health, he would be a Blanco type player for someone, hits around same OPS while playing above average defense in LF, up to one win on seasonal basis, even with his big body.

      And personally, I would just make Belt our LF - I mean, where else is Posey moving to once he's done with catching? - and let Susac start at 1B while backing up Posey at C, plus give time to Blanks, Parker and Williamson at LF/1B, while pushing Belt to 1B occasionally. I think it'll be a battle between Blanks and Susac for best offensive lineup.

  3. I actually love the 2-year opt out part. The market is scheduled to be flooded with elite arms that winter and it keeps Cueto under incentive to stay healthy and effective those first two seasons.

    1. Exactly! Good points, thanks for sharing. I do love the 2 year opt out, should have wrote more on that.

      And most of the reporting is that Cueto is better off with 2 year optout because there is relatively less talent going free agent that off-season, whereas with a 3 year optout, Kershaw, among others, could be free agents that following off-season. He's the big fish in the small pond that off-season, while bigger fish will be around the next off-season.

  4. The Dodgers thought they loved Greinke's opt out clause too, until they surprisingly lost him to another team in their own division. Maybe Parker or Williamson will work out in left, but unless they get a guy who can consistently make a pitcher throw a lot of pitches, letting Aoki go could have been a mistake. Too early to tell, but right now seems like an unnecessary move. It turns out the Washington gave Petit 3 million not the original 2.5 million that was reported. The giants won 84 games last year with Bumgarner and a ragtag group. With this pitching staff, they should significantly up that total.

    1. If the Dodgers didn't think through the scenario of losing Greinke after the opt out, then they deserve to be surprised.

      I think this is part of their pivoting to reduce their spending and get out of penalty. They paid the penalty to get talent and build up a contending team, while building up a young team for the future. Urias is nearly ready, probably will only pitch into late May, early June, to ensure no Super-two, plus to keep him control for six following seasons, then will get inserted into rotation as Greinke's replacement. He has dominated at every level where he has pitched a significant portion of the season in, even though he's been 6+ years younger than average, so be afraid, very afraid, he's Fernando-mania coming to the MLB soon. Though Urias-mania will sound kind of odd...

      The Giants already have a number player who makes the pitcher throw a lot of stress pitches, we have a contact team, and that stresses pitchers more because contact hitters look for pitches in a zone that they can drive, and that puts a lot more pressure on a pitcher than even a power hitter would because those hitters just like to let 'er rip, so the pitcher don't have to be so fine in how they pitch to them. Plus, because contact hitters get on base a lot, the pitcher is pitching out of the stretch more, which also stresses the pitcher as well.

      We are fine in LF. Blanco is the starter most probably (if not, even better, one of our young guys excelled to take the job!), and Parker and Blanks would probably be the backups, with Parker covering CF (plus maybe Perez breaks through, after his problems in 2015). Williamson will be more than one year removed from TJS, and get more time in AAA under his belt, based on how well he did in AFL, he could be ready for majors by mid-season.

      And at worse, we can trade for a soon-to-be free agent on the relative cheap mid-season, with our strong lineup that we already have in Posey, Belt, Panik, Duffy, Crawford, and Pence, we can easily last into mid-season with a question mark in LF, every team deals with more question marks than the Giants have, we have 6 solid reliable hitters. It was a fine move as it enabled the ownership to OK signing Cueto, might not have happened if Aoki was kept. Or are you saying you prefer to have Aoki instead of Cueto?

      I loved Petit, but he lost something last season, he couldn't strike out guys like he did before, and given his lack of pitching talent otherwise, he really needs to strike out guys hand over fist to be a great reliever.

      Plus, he's older than Heston, who pitched very well for us most of the season before petering out at the end, most likely due to fatigue, not the league catching up to him, but now we won't need to figure that out totally, since he's a long reliever.

      If we don't significantly up that total, we had a horrible season of health then in 2016. Especially considering that given what we did in 2015, we should have been at 88 wins, not 84, we just lost a lot of 1-run games, more than Bochy usually does. If he has another bad year in 1-run games, have to wonder if his health problems affected him negatively going forward and/or whether he's starting to decline in his managerial skills, as he was marvelous in 1-run games for around 20 years before the last two seasons.

      But with these two big adds, we better win at least 90 games, if not 95+. We have that much talent. We had the talent last season, only Pence and others missed so much of the season, and I'm not even counting the pitching we missed, just the starting lineup.

    2. Ownership made a statement with these moves. They are trying to win another championship in the next two seasons, at minimum, and hopefully pull off a repeat by winning in both seasons. So they should significantly up that total, that's the bar especially given they made the moves. But even without the moves, I think that they could have been contenders just by adding Leake and going with a rotation of Bum, Leake, Peavy, Heston, Cain. With two upgrades of Cueto and Samardzija, we are even better.

      With all the money coming off next season, perhaps that is when they upgrade LF with a big FA purchase, CF too.

    3. Ownership is trying to ensure that the Decade of the 2010's will be known as the Giants decade with these moves. They've already done more than enough to lay claim to that title so far, by doing something that hasn't been done since the 1940's, and really, that only happened because it was WW II, which took away a lot of good players, so really, first time legitimately done ever on the NL.

      Still, we have a window with all these young players here, led by Buster and Bumgarner, and they are trying to make it loud and clear:

      Giants: Team of the 2010 Decade!

    4. Is Perez in the Giants' organization? He was outrighted and chose free agency.

    5. Ay! I missed that or had forgotten about that! Yes, he is gone.

      But he saw the writing on the wall, so hopefully he lands in a good place. With Williamson and Parker clearly in favor, while he was out of favor, may as well try his luck elsewhere, and why not, it is not like MLB teams pay their minor leaguers all that much (especially those not on the 40-man, they get more, though not sure how much more). Good luck, too bad, he plays a legit CF from what I remember.

  5. I'm pretty damn excited about 2016. The rotation was the clear weak link last season and the FO just beefed it up big-time!

    1. Yes! Big time! Went from question marks to presumptive favorites!

      Now we just need the Naysayers to be wrong! :^)

  6. I prefer a lineup without 2 weak spots than a lineup with 2 weakspots. Then if someone gets hurt, we suddenly may have 3 weak spots. We have 3 lifetime winning pitchers in our rotation, Bummy, Cueto and Peavy, and 2 lifetime losing pitchers in Cain and Samardjxxxx. When Vogelsong, and Schmidt each came to the giants, they instantly became better pitchers, so we are hopeful that the same can be done with Samardjxxxx. Remember how promiing Runsler once was, and then he just faded, perhaps after a minor injury? Young relievers can fade just as fast as they make a striking entrance into the majors. When you have aoki, Panik, and Duffy, back to back to back in a lineup, the pitcher can be through 20 or 30 pitches before Posey comes up. Of note, despite Posey's very good year, he failed on a large number of RBI opportunities, and hopefully he will do better in that situation this year. Of note, we still do not have a big banger in the lineup, and sometimes there is significant value in having a guy who can hit 40 dingers. Especially if he can hit over 280, with an obp of 350 or above.

    1. Well, I don't know anyone who don't. But that's not reality, is it?

      A team only has a certain amount of resources available to it, and if you shine up one area of the team, then the other areas would suffer. It's a zero sum game.

      That's the problem of this perspective of "more is better", the lack of realization of the reality that you can't make everything better, you need to make compromises within the context of the environment you are operating in, particularly economic, but also talent.

      The key is to be better than the other team, however that is accomplished. We have a very good lineup. We could use our prospects and trade for upgrades in LF and CF, so that we have no weak spots. Better yet, we can clear out the farm system and fill the bench with good replacements, just in case someone in your lineup gets injured. I mean, just look at last season!

      But then you no longer have a farm system, you can't trade for additional pieces, like if you need another SP because one of those got injured. And that's if you can even trade everyone to get players to fill your bench.

      And even if you have some prospects left, maybe other teams don't want them or don't want to give up their good pitchers to you just because you lost your player to injury and you need it. Given your perspective you can never have enough, and yet there is never enough out there given what you have to offer.

      And maybe that explains why you keep at this same perspective all this time. Reality is that no team, not the Yankees, not the Dodgers, and certainly not the Giants, have the resources to create a lineup with no weak spots, a starting rotation with no weak spots, a bullpen with no weak spots.

      Clamoring for it just demonstrates that you don't understand this fundamental thing about baseball, about economics.

    2. You really need to enter the 21st Century: a pitcher's winning record has nothing to do with how good he is. Walter Johnson was one of the greatest pitchers in history, got into the inaugural Hall of Fame first class, but played for the woeful Washington Senators (first in country, first in state, last in the American League). In his first 3 seasons, he had a 1.94 ERA, 123 ERA+ (which means he's really good), but had a 32-48 record, which to you means that he's pretty bad.

      But no, he was very very good.

      I've shown the stats analysis. Samardzija talent was very good during those years. He reached the pinnacle of that in 2014. The goal for the Giants staff is to get him back to that state. And it should not be too hard, in spite of his poor ERA, his other peripherals were still pretty good.

      Here's another way to look at it, in 2014, he had a 2.83 ERA with the Cubs, yet look at what his record was: 2-7.

      But I don't know why I'm talking to you about this: you are one of those Naysayers who said Cain was a loser all these years, trade him away.

      We don't win the championship without him in 2010 or 2012, so clearly you all were wrong, he's a winner, 4-2 in the playoff, two rings to show for it.

    3. Worlds of difference between Runzler and Osich.

      Even in Runzler's first nice call-up with us, he was totally wild, 5 walks in 8.2 IP. And that matched his history in the minors of walking too many batters, his only plus was that he struck out a lot too. Plus small sampling, that's not even a full game.

      But then the walks stayed up but the strikeouts started to go down. Career fizzled, too bad, rooting for him hard.

      Osich had a marvelous first season. Got in 35 games, 2.20 ERA, below average walk rate of 2.5 BB/9, much above average walk rate of 8.5 K/9, for a great 3.38 K/BB ratio, the sign of a good pitcher, whereas Runzler was around 2 and fell from there.

      Moreover, Osich's good pitching mirrored the good pitching that he did in the minors, low BB/9, high K/9, great K/BB ratios, this was just another successful step up the ladder, and he nailed it, again.

      Totally different.

    4. Jason Schmidt didn't come to the Giants and immediately become a better pitcher. He was a good pitcher, reaching a good point in his career and development. The Pirates just gave up too soon on him.

      If you look at his progression with the Pirates, he was getting better at striking out guys, while OK at not walking too many, keeping it in the 3's, but then he had some sort of injury in 2000 that lingered into 2001, skewing his walk rate, but if you look at his strikeouts, it kept rising.

      In 2001, like he did for the Giants too many times, he didn't make opening day with one ailment or another, and took another month to get back into playing shape, and in his last 8 starts for the Pirates, he had a 3.71 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, great 3.00 K/BB.

      Which is very similar to what he did for the Giants: 3.39 ERA, 8.88 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, roughly 2 K/BB ratio.

      In 2002, he had a 3.45 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 (from 1997-2001, he had a 3.6 BB/9), great 2.68 K/BB ratio.

      The Giants basically recognized that he was making a change and grabbed him before the Pirates realized that this wasn't the same old Schmidty they had before, but one making a change for the better.

      And you could see his potential all the way back in 1998, he had another typical horrible start to his season, but in his last 27 starts, 3.76 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, basically 2.0 K/BB.

      He was an evolving pitcher, and ready to blossom and the Giants grabbed him just as he was figuring it out. Kind of like how they grabbed Torres when he was just about figuring it out.

    5. In Vogelsong's case, I can see why you think the Giants getting him made him better.

      But when asked about what key change helped him finally make the majors after struggling for all those years, he said it was pitching in Japan, from 2007-2009, where there is a smaller strike zone, and he had to work harder at getting it in the zone. That improved his command dramatically, cutting out the walks that plagued his career previously.

      Of course, that didn't help him much with the other minor league teams he came back to from Japan.

      And that's where coming back to the Giants helped, to your point, for as research has shown, the Giants do things a little bit differently with their pitcher's approach, as shown by their ability over the years to avoid giving up the home run ball, whether at home, where it's part of the charm of the ballpark, or on the road, where it shows that it's also part of their approach to pitching to batters.

    6. In Samardzija's case, it's not a matter of making him better with Giants magic, it's finding that magic that led to his 2014 season. Whether it be a better ballpark, better catcher, better manager, better approach to pitching, not frustrated over not being traded, or just plain not tipping his pitches, which he said he was and then fixed before his last two starts, where he had a complete game 1-hitter.

      And his 2015 was full of ups and downs. The down was a bad 10 game stretch where his ERA was nearly 9, where he said he was tipping off his pitches. Last two starts: 1.13 ERA. Yeah, I would say he was fixed there.

      But before that horrible stretch, he had a 3.91 ERA, which while not great, was OK. And if you excused him for jitters in his first start for his boyhood team, he had a 3.75 ERA in 19 starts, great 4.56 K/BB.

      Between the two good parts of his season, he had a 3.47 ERA. Thus he was pretty good over long stretches of 2015, the key is to avoid the bad.

      So the first key to a successful 2016 vs. 2015 is to not have a horrible first start. The second is to not allow him to tip off pitches. And the Giants should be good at it because it has been suspected before that the Giants would steal signs, which to me means that they look at everything, including whether pitchers tip things off.

      Add in AT&T's homerun prevention powers, the Righetti magic that leads to less homers, and, yeah, there's some Giants magic there, but he was actually pretty good for most of last season at 3.47 ERA, and the key is avoiding the bad parts. I think it will help that Samardzija is our #3 starter, instead of the ace, which should free him from much pressure.

      Plus, the first day jitters might stem from him pitching for his boyhood team, in front of friends and family, all the expectations built into that. He was the opening day pitcher for the woeful Cubs in 2013 and 2014, and he had shutouts both games: 15.0 IP, 7 hits, 3 BB, 12 K's.

      So I feel very good that he don't need a lot of fixing from the Giants, they just need to put him out there every 5 games and let him do what he can do, and very well at that.

    7. You make it seem easy to get a 40-HR hitter who hits .280 and .350 OBP. I count only 7 of them in 2015, and the only free agent among them is Chris Davis. Plus many four others close. These others would require you to dismantle the lineup or pitching we already have, because we don't have the prospects to acquire any of them, a trade to get them would cost us Panik, Duffy, Heston, and a bundle of our top pitching prospects.

      And Davis is expected to get $20-26M AAV over 5 seasons, which with the 30% tax would add $6-7M on top of that. And he only plays 1B, which means that you can't rest Posey anymore at 1B. Plus, Davis could be the highest paid player on the team, and could upset the payroll structure, might upset Posey or Pence. According to the latest rumors, the Orioles have already offered him 7 years at $150M, but he wants 8 years at $200M ($25M AAV).

      I guess if you want to be unreasonable about your demands, I guess that is your decision.

      And if the Giants do it, that's their money. But there's a recent history of him not playing a full season, 3 of the past 5 seasons, and the Giants generally don't like that prior history. If they spend $200M/$25M AAV and get someone brittle, then we don't have that hitting and the money is gone. So I don't think that is happening.

      But yeah, a 40 HR hitter with high batting average and OBP would be great, but how?

      And just realized, Davis don't fit your wish list anyway, he doesn't hit .280... So you are willing to dismantle the team to get your hitter?

      This is like wishing for unicorns because you like unicorns. It's not reality. It's like wanting to live forever, but then shrivel up into a grasshopper. It's got consequences.



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