Monday, March 28, 2016

Your 2016 Giants: Likely Opening Day Roster

Sorry, I wanted to get this out yesterday but just didn't have the time, been enjoying some mandatory vacation days with my family, including my son, who was home for spring break.

As reported by Baggarly yesterday, the Giants with recent cuts are pretty much down to the expected Opening Day roster.  Per Baggs, this is the probable roster:
  • LHP Madison Bumgarner 
  • RHP Johnny Cueto 
  • RHP Jeff Samardzija 
  • RHP Jake Peavy 
  • RHP Matt Cain 
  • RHP Chris Heston 
  • RHP George Kontos 
  • RHP Cory Gearrin 
  • RHP Hunter Strickland 
  • LHP Josh Osich 
  • LHP Javier Lopez 
  • RHP Sergio Romo 
  • RHP Santiago Casilla 
  • C Buster Posey 
  • C Trevor Brown 
  • 1B Brandon Belt 
  • 2B Joe Panik 
  • SS Brandon Crawford 
  • 3B Matt Duffy 
  • LF Angel Pagan 
  • CF Denard Span 
  • RF Hunter Pence 
  • C Trevor Brown 
  • INF Kelby Tomlinson 
  • OF Gregor Blanco 
  • INF/OF Ehire Adrianza
This was after the Giants optioned down Jarrett Parker, Mac Williamson, and Mike Broadway, as well as six non-roster invitees: left-hander Braulio Lara, outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, infielder Grant Green, infielder Conor Gillaspie, infielder Ramiro Pena and catcher George Kottaras.  And probable because if Susac is healthy, he could get the backup catcher role instead of Brown, who has gotten good reviews from pitchers this spring for how he handles them.


ogc thoughts

Baggarly had been beating the drum for Guerrin for a long while now, scooping his fellow reporters.   Guerrin is reportedly around still, for a 13-man pitching staff, because of the lack of days off in the first few weeks of the season, as well as starting pitchers who had not been rounding into shape as fast as hoped.   But as Baggarly noted, another reason is that the Giants like his skills, as an eventual replacement for Romo, who is only contracted for this season, but he is out of options.

Looks like to me that the plan is to bring back Parker most likely sometime late April, so that when they send down Guerrin, other teams are more set with their 25-man rosters (unlike now, where some teams are willing to change their roster to pick up somebody) and hopefully will not claim him off waivers.   Plus, sometimes the situation changes, and instead of Guerrin going down, they send down someone else, or perhaps there could be an injury.   For example, if the starters are all going deep into games, they won't need Heston and, since he still has options, he could be sent down instead.

Meanwhile, there are the players sent down.  First the guys optioned down.  Williamson will start in AAA and get to show the brass that he's ready for an opportunity in the majors.  Parker is probably starting but at all three OF positions to prep him for role in majors.   And Broadway is here for depth, there is no space for him on the 25-man roster, even without the Guerrin situation.

About the NRI, here are a few comments.

  • I like Gorkys' background, I see him as a future Blanco type OF backup;  perhaps the Giants are stashing him for depth, and eventually place him in Blanco's role as key backup 4th OF, assuming Blanco gets offered too much money to stay with the Giants as backup (which I assume is very probable).   I would bet he would get a call-up in September (or sooner if necessary, he's CF depth behind Span, Pagan, Blanco) so that Bochy can see him play for evaluation for 2017.
  • Green I see as emergency backup at MI position in case either Tomlinson or Adrianza flops in the first two months, or if any of the MI's get DLed, he'll be first called up.   Pena is the next guy after Green, so that they can keep Arroyo developing in the minors.   
  • Gillaspie I see as the replacement for Ishikawa, a guy stashed in minors just in case:  a nice lefty bat option in the minors in case the Giants need to replace Belt for any reason, plus Conor can play 3B as well, so that's another option.  He don't have as much power as Ishi, but he is a better hitter.  He won't field first as well as Ishi, but he can also play 3B well enough.  
  • Kottaras is for C depth behind Posey, Susac, Brown.  The only other catcher in the upper minors is probably Garcia, and they probably want to leave him in the minors and continue to develop.  Susac probably starts in AAA, at C and 1B (for versatility) and share C with Kottaras.

3 comments:

  1. And it's official: Susac was optioned last night to AAA Sacramento, making Trevor Brown the backup C. The Giants still like him but missing most of last year and this spring seems to have put him behind offensively and defensively, so he'll start in AAA to get more practice.

    Meanwhile, Trevor Brown gets the thrill of being on the opening day roster as the backup, another reward for a fine spring, impressing a lot of pitchers with his handling, and he ended up winning the Barney Nugent Award as the most impressive player, and it was his first big league camp. He hit well with a .324/.395/.378/.774 batting line, and 9 RBI in 18 games. Struck out a lot, 11 in 37 AB, so that's something he needs to work on, he won't be able to hit that well striking out so much, even the fastest hitters around can't maintain a .444 BABIP, let alone a catcher. But 4 walks was pretty good, he needs to keep that up.

    I wonder if Bochy will use him at 2B and other positions, in double switches, so that Bochy can use Brown's bat in games, while then keeping him in the game, in case he's needed to play C, for whatever reason. I think Adrianza was the emergency C last season, and, if so, would play that role again this season.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Last season he had a lowish BABIP and an 18.6% K rate, in games that count. I'm guessing that he's trying to extricate himself from being all-glove, no-hit, so in ST he's changing his plate behavior, to be more aggressive. If so, the high BABIP may mean that he's hitting the ball harder when he hits it, hence the very nice slash line, but also running up lots of Ks, as one would expect. Why the BBs in this scenario, I dunno. In any case, I'd think that when the regular season starts, most of the ST experimentation will be set aside, and we will see a Brown who at the plate looks more like the historical Brown of his pro career.

      Delete
    2. Well, it's that fine balance between being too passive and being too aggressive. I didn't realize that his K-rate is that low (and technically, I think the saber nomenclature defines K% as K/PA, whereas you provided K/AB, which is the inverse of the term I like to use, which is "contact rate" of 81.4%, which is good enough), so he has some bat discipline skills, looking at his minors stats.

      BABIP of .313 that he had in AAA isn't that bad. .281 BABIP in majors was lowish, but with a contact rate roughly at the same, probably just noise and ebb and flow of the BABIP gods.

      The Giants do teach their hitters to be more aggressive about swinging early and often. I think this message is not presented well in the press though. For me, it all goes back to Ted William's teaching in Science of Hitting.

      The problem with some hitters today is the whole sabermetric push for OBP/walks and how BA isn't as good, with Moneyball being the big pimple explosion that infected everyone.

      What gets lost in all that is that while BA isn't as good as indicating value as OBP, it can still provide some indication. That loss of knowledge combined with the emphasis on walks leads some hitters to just focus on getting that walk, as if that would make them a good hitter. WRONG!

      It gets me so mad, but hitting is what makes one a good hitter, and the whip cream on top is only swinging at those pitches that you can do damage to and hit line drives or at least hard hit balls.

      Walks are good ONLY if the pitcher is unwilling to give you a good pitch to hit that is in your zone. If they don't give you a good pitch, then take the balls and foul off with two strikes those strikes outside of your happy spots. It just depends on the hitter's preference: some hitters love low pitches, others high, other in, others out, basically a hitter needs to learn his "hot zones" (using modern tech's heat zone visualization).

      Looking at Brown's career, he has shown good contact rates in the minors, but just hasn't made good contact, leading to poor BABIP. So while his hitting peripherals look good, with a good contact rate and OK walk rate, his batting lines has been very subpar, though if he can hit in the majors like he has in AAA, he'll be a fine backup catcher, assuming he at least has good D.

      I would contrast with Belt, who, as many complain, strikes out a lot, but, more important, is a good hitter when he makes contact.

      Given all the above, I agree with you that he has changed his behavior this spring. Why roving hitting instructors had not broached this with him before, I have no idea. But it appears that he's been asked to take the pitches he can't do anything with (or try to foul them off with two strikes; leads to more strikes, but at least you are trying to stay alive) while swinging only on the pitches he can hit for hard contact. That results in more strikeouts, but it could also lead to more walks because instead of hitting for poor contact into an out, fouling off those pitches keeps you alive in the count, and you can work for more walks. That would explain the huge shifts in strike out rate, walk rate, and BABIP. He will need to find a balance that works for him.

      I would disagree about his regular season hitting, I think the Giants are working hard with him to make him a more effective hitter and hope it carries into the regular season. Some of the experimentation might be set aside, but I would hope most of it is still worked on in the regular season.

      Strikeouts are not bad if they enable you to become a better hitter. It's a paradox, but one that Babe Ruth made clear to the rest of baseball, and hence the rise in strikeouts in the majors since he did this. And Ted Williams added to that. Unfortunately, his book is not mandatory reading for every youth league baseball coach.

      Delete

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