Monday, December 25, 2017

Your 2018 Giants: Spin Rate Spinning Stratton into #4 Starter

Merry Christmas!

As was noted in one of my recent posts, the beat writers noted that with the trade of Moore, Stratton, based on what he did at the end of 2017, will be the #4 starter.  And the stats do support that, in black and orange:  last 9 starts (I see others using his last 8 starts, which has a higher ERA, but think it better to include his whole "part of the starting rotation" experience), basically after he was placed in the rotation, 2.42 ERA, with 43 strikeouts in 44.2 IP, though also 20 walks, high, but doable if he can get that down a little, 2.15 K/BB is becoming pretty below average in today's strikeout happy world.  His BABIP was a bit high, as well, at .317, so he could improve there if he can get that down to the league mean.

There is a great Pavlovic Giants Insider Podcast on November 9, where Stratton is interviewed and discussed afterward.  Alex noted that Stratton's spin rate was elite in THE MAJORS in 2017, among pitchers with at least 100 pitches thrown:
  • 2nd in all of baseball in curveball spin rate to Garrett Richards, shows how tough
  • 22nd in fastball spin rate to Aroldis Chapman
  • 21st in slider spin rate (FYI:  Crick was 1st!)
As noted in the podcast, the higher the spin rate, the lower the batting line against the pitch.  Also notes that a fastball with a high spin rate rises (one of Matt Cain's bread and butter, once upon a time, with his high rising fastball) and is very effective up in the zone.  Hundley and Federowicz told him to keep the ball up because hitters weren't handling the pitch and he said that he would continue until hitters adjust, at which point, he'll adjust. 

I found an SI article that touted Stratton as a breakout candidate based on his spin rate (article was noting Astros success with spin rate analysis), similar to Morton:
The problem: Stratton has a mediocre four-seam fastball (91.8 mph) and, if you lower the bar to 100 curveballs thrown, the fastest-spinning curveball in baseball (3,105 rpm). Batters hit .292 against his fastball, but only .100 against his curveball. But he’s stuck in an old-school way of pitching: 61% fastballs and only 18% curves. 
The symptoms: Lefthanded hitters crushed Stratton, lighting him up for a .811 OPS, while he held righthanded hitters to a .670 OPS. Stratton throws his curveball even less often to lefties (17%) than to righties (21). 
The mechanics: They need work. Stratton has poor arm deceleration, meaning his arm and hand brake too soon after release. He can improve velocity by working on better deceleration. He also can throw harder by driving his head and torso more toward the plate; he has a tendency to drift toward the first-base side of the mound while releasing the ball. Bottom line: there’s more in there. 
How to get Morton-ized: Increase curveball percentage to lefthanded hitters, work the high fastball/curveball tunnel more often, and tighten mechanics.
The problem the article noted was that the Giants are one of the leaders in the majors in using the cut fastball.  It also noted how some pitchers were talked into using their better pitches more often and their fastball less.

His coaches have been very positive about his chances.  Bochy was very complimentary of him.  After the last game of the year, he said, "He's made a really big statement, I think, if you look at his body of work.  Just watching him pound the strike zone, he's got two good breaking balls and a changeup. He's locating well and he finished up on a good note tonight."  Gardner was reported to say that he thought Stratton has good stuff.  And Bochy backed his feelings up by not removing Stratton from the rotation when Cueto returned from the DL, noting that "he's throwing the ball to well for that", as he has "deceptively good stuff" and "He's doing stuff that elite pitchers do. It's good to see him pitch at this level."

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Your 2018 Giants: Going Long on Longoria

Adios Arroyo, we hardly knew ye!  As announced by the Giants and various beat writers, the Giants have traded for Evan Longoria.  For him, the Giants traded Christian Arroyo, Stephen Wood, Matt Krook, and, to allow the Giants to stay under the CBT penalty threshold, Denard Span, who by DRS methodology, was beyond horrible in CF last season.  The Giants also get an undisclosed amount of cash, which has no effect on CBT, but basically is the Rays buying the prospects.

Nicely, both Arroyo and Span are returning to their homes in Florida.  It is something the Giants try to do with trades.

Per press conference, as reported by beat writers (I'm referencing Andy Baggarly's twitter feed):

  • The Giants were CBT-neutral with the trade for 2018
  • The Giants are not done, that this sets up another trade that is just as significant (!?!)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Your 2018 Giants: Hundley Signed for $2.5M

Per report from Chronicle and other beat writers, Nick Hundley has been re-signed to a one-year $2.5M contract to be the Giants backup catcher again.  His signing was expected as the Giants only had one other catcher on the 40-man roster (Aramis Garcia, who was recently added), plus, Hundley had a good time with the Giants and wanted to be back.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Last Refuge for Naysayers: OF Development

The impetus for this post was the ravings of a relatively well-known (notoriously infamous to some) sports media "expert" that the Giants have not produced a starting OF in 30 years and therefore the front office is not doing its job.  Hank Schulman fought the good fight, bringing up basically what I'm writing below, but that's the beauty of having your own blog, I get to rage when I want to on a topic near and dear to me.

I say "expert" because he certainly presents himself that way.  Also, he is smart and seems to be nice, on-air, so I don't know how he can keep on spouting all these "facts" about the Giants and not have one co-worker push back on him, there must be other Giants fans there.  He apparently don't like people who don't agree with him publicly, as he blocked me on Twitter when I made a factual statement to one of his comments, he attacked me, then I calmly explained to him where he got my statement wrong and what exactly I was pointing out.  I was surprised to find out soon afterward that he blocked me, but that's OK, he spouts mis-information about the Giants so much that I can't bear to listen to him talk about the Giants. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Your 2018 Giants: No Moore

In a surprising (to me; Schulman noted on Twitter that he's been telegraphing it for weeks now) move, the Giants traded Matt Moore (whom we traded the $6M man and Duffman for) to the Rangers for two prospects, right-handed relievers Sam Wolff and Israel Cruz, both hurlers capable of 100 MPH.  It was noted as a salary dump to free payroll money for free agency spending and in order to stay under the CBT penalty threshold.

Andy Baggarly, newly of The Athletic (behind paywall, generally, though some were free before I started subscribing; only way to get Baggs now), noted that there are some good benefits to resetting the CBT penalty this season.  It is so important that the Dodgers just unloaded a ton of contracts onto the Braves in order to get themselves under the limit.  Apparently they did not view Stanton worth going over with, and, instead, prefer to reset their penalties (five years now) so that they can spend big after next season on the big free agent market, starring Bryce Harper and, most probably, Kershaw as well, if he opts out.

Per MLB Pipeline, Sam Wolff, although not on the Rangers Top 30, ends up 27th on the Giants list.  Julian Fernandez, the RHP reliever we picked up via Rule 5 the other day, is ranked 28th (I don't think he ranked on the Rockies list either).   Wolff has had trouble staying off of the DL, suffering significant injuries in the last three seasons, and in fact, probably won't be available to the Giants until mid-season 2018.  He sounds like a more experienced version of Julian Fernandez.

Per MLB Pipeline profile on him, he's another 3-digit hurler that the Giants add:
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Slider: 55 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Wolff has a quick arm that produces consistent mid-90s fastballs when he works in relief. He can touch 100 mph and has some armside run on his heater. His hard slider is his best secondary pitch and he'll mix in a curveball as well. He also has a changeup from his days as a starter but doesn't use it as much coming out of bullpen.
The Rangers made Wolff a full-time reliever in 2017, and he was pushing for a big league promotion when he got hurt again in August. His control has slipped since he began dealing with the rash of injuries, but he could fill a late-inning role if he stays healthy and delivers more strikes.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Your 2018 Giants: Rule 5 Draft: Lose One, Gain One

In the Rule 5 Draft today, the Giants selected the Rockies flame throwing RHP, Julian Fernandez, who has been recorded as hitting 102 MPH before.  Just 22 YO, the Giants are paying $100K to find out if this right-handing can jump to the majors from A-ball, where he did pretty well.

Meanwhile, the D-backs grabbed Albert Suarez from the Giants.  He was valuable in 2016, and the D-backs clearly hope to return him to that for 2018, after a poor 2017 season.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Your 2018 Giants: Post-Setback Post

With the embers of being rejected by both Ohtani and Stanton wafting down around us like the major fires that has been damaging California homes over the past month (hope you and your's are safe), the Giants head into the Winter Meetings bent but unbroken, with the goals of the off-season still to be addressed, basically in this order:
  1. Improve CF defense
  2. Find a 3B starter
  3. Improve the bullpen
Some have worried that these two setbacks had affected their efforts to address the three objectives, but as the Giants are wont to do, they like to multi-task, as nothing is ever guaranteed until someone signs the dotted line.  So while they were meeting and greeting Stanton and then Ohtani, they were also burning the phone lines talking with clubs and agents about their defensive CF, 3B, or bullpen upgrade.  If Stanton and Ohtani were Plans A and B, they were also working on Plan L, M, N, O, P, as well.

As one person noted on the Internet, the Giants signed Samardzija within 24 hours of losing out onPit Greinke, and from what I remember, Cueto was not that far behind, maybe a week after.  Let's see how they do this time.  (unfortunately, it was the Marlins who started first, having the Yankees jump in and work out a deal in a matter of days, a deal structured much like the rumored Panik for Stanton deal, which as been reported by Hank Schulman as nothing but rumors; he's digging around to see who was in the deal, but most of the well-known names appears to not have been part of the deal)

I had thought I'll be writing something new, but it turns out I'll be referencing my post on 2017's Post-Mortem.  And my business plan as well, though that's a given with most things I post.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Ohtani and the Magnificent 7

In the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, it is down to seven finalists, which was leaked out over the weekend, and confirmed by meetings this week.  The Good (Giants), the Bad (Dodgers and Angels), and the Ugly (Padres, Rangers, Cubs, Mariners) will have met with him by today, Thursday, leaving him roughly two weeks to make his decision, though some reports notes that he might, in deference to other free agents, make his decision before the Winter Meetings begin next week, so as not to impede the market any more (a more agent driven thought is that he would make the decision in order to make a big splash next week; I lean more towards the latter based on what I've read).

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Oh Oh Oh Ohtani: His Magic

With the owners approving the new posting system, the race for Shohei Ohtani is on!

Shohei Ohtani (his preferred spelling, not Otani; which should have been obvious:  that's the name on the back of his uni) is a very talented Japanese player - not only a great pitcher in the Japanese League, but also a great hitter there as well, a modern day Babe Ruth.  There is a nice article talking about him on the MLB, highlights:
  • Humble but athletic upbringing:  rural background
  • Koshien arrival:  excelled in key tournament
  • Decision Time:  The Nippon Ham Fighters win his heart with long-term strategy for his MLB dream, as well as supporting his two-way ambitions. 
  • The Two-Way Game:  Precocious pitcher whose stout hitting came to the fore in last couple of seasons.  "Recurring and nagging leg injuries" in 2015 and ankle injury in Feb 2017. 
  • Ohtani Revealed:  "All-around great guy" who is the total package Athlete, with a "A", 6' 4", 215 lbs, who can run 3.80 sec home to first (Dee Gordon average max effort home to first per Statcast is 3.81 sec).  Lives in team dorms so he can get to training facilities quickly, and is diligent about exercise and nutrition.
Only 23 YO, he could wait two years and enter the majors via the usual posting system and he was projected to get a $200M contract had he took that route.  Instead, he wants to be a major leaguer sooner than later, and because of his age, is covered by the international free agency rules instead, which means that teams are limited in the bonus that any team can pay him (Giants are limited to $300K) and could offer him only $545K in his first MLB season.  So, clearly, money is not driving his decision.

Though money will be coming soon enough.  As this Fangraph article analyzed, he is covered by our usual arbitration system, so while he'll get minimal salary for his first three seasons, if he got the highest arbitration awards up to now, he would make $36M over his first six seasons (team's total commitment would then be $56M, as they would have paid a $20M posting fee to the Japanese team.  Looking at a Giants example, Lincecum got $64M (Giants signed him to a contract before meeting with the arbitrator; since he earned two Cy Youngs to get these contracts, call this the true max he might get), and if Ohtani reached that height, $84M team commitment.

In addition, it could be coming even sooner with endorsements.  An article I read noted that endorsements was a specialty of the agent Shohei hired from CAA to represent him.  A Bob Nightengale tweet notes that marketing agents believe Ohtani could be the top endorser in the MLB, making over $20M per year from endorsements.   So Ohtani will not be hurting for money by coming over now, and in fact, might be accelerating it by coming over now.

What is driving his decision is complicated.  Mostly, he wants to play both ways, he wants to hit as well as pitch, which is his more interesting talent (I've read that he can get up to 100 MPH).  Still, he's a top hitter on top of being a top pitcher.  DH has been his main way of being in the lineup (only has 62 games experience in OF and none in the past few years).

He has asked each team to provide him with their plans for how they intend to use him, how they view him as a pitcher and hitter, information on the team's player development, medical capabilities, training facilities, organizational facilities, as well as other factors related to how he would fit into that team and city.

Here is the full list of the seven questions (from this Fangraph article, though this is the original source, and he would like both a Japanese, as well as an English, response):
  • An evaluation of Shohei’s talent as a pitcher and/or a hitter;
  • Player development, medical, training and player performance philosophies and capabilities;
  • Major League, Minor League, and Spring Training facilities;
  • Resources for Shohei’s cultural assimilation;
  • A detailed plan for integrating Shohei into the organization;
  • Why the city and franchise are a desirable place to play;
  • Relevant marketplace characteristics.
In this SI article on him, early this season, it was noted that the Nippon Ham Fighters used a similar method to get him to sign with them back when he was 18 YO and choosing between signing in Japan and signing with a U.S. team.  And the MLB interest was so strong that Japanese teams were not sure that drafting him was wise, as then it would be a wasted pick if he went to the U.S.  The Fighters wrote a "McKinsey-style presentation" with a plan for realizing his dreams, which was to play in the MLB, and convinced him that it was better to start his career in Japan and then move on to the U.S. when he was ready (which is good for Giants fans because he reportedly was close to signing with the Dodgers back then). 

Found a lot of recent info on Ohtani on a site called 2080 Baseball:  Part OnePart Two.   They have written extensively on him:  see all the articles from a search I did.  More than I can get to, I want to publish before he gets posted.  But this is probably the best source materials I can find that discusses in very detailed, scout-language terms, how good a hitter he is, as well as how good a pitcher he is.

Here is another great article:  Ringer provides a great sabermetric viewpoint of the great performances of Ohtani and calls him a "10-tool player", a play on the much coveted 5-tool player that scouts love.  Too much to list, a lot of stats regarding how great he is as a hitter, as well as a pitcher.  It emphasized the point that while he's been great as a pitcher, he has had his struggles with hitting, at least early on.  They referenced this older article from Vice, which mentioned that he almost signed with the Dodgers back when he was 18, before signing with the Nippon Ham Fighters (also has extensive interviews with a former scout, who wrote up scouting reports on Ohtani for 2080 Baseball, which I reference and link to below).

Also, two articles from ESPN:  Revolutionary, which discusses the difficulties of being two-way (good interview with and discussion of Micah Owings, last MLB pitcher/hitter), and a cautionary tale regarding two-way, with a nice discussion about the costs of using him as a hitter, as well as what a team might gain, which oddly ends on a positive note regarding trying, "Uncertainty shouldn't always have to lead to caution."

Also, the MLB released a bunch of articles:
There was an interesting interview with a former MLB player who was a teammate of Ohtani's, plus a note from a scout that he likes pitching more than hitting, as well as this interesting note by one of the authors:
Ohtani is coming now because he wants a transformative challenge -- on his terms. 
This is exactly what I've been thinking.

In addition, the Q/A interview with him was very enlightening, I would recommend reading that.  He noted that the most important factors in deciding which MLB team is:  "The people on the team and in charge of the team is what matters most. I need to have a feeling of wanting to play for them."  That's about as touchy-feely as you can get.  The teams' submissions in answer to his seven questions should be very interesting given this.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Your 2018 Giants: Arbitration Offers and Non-Tender

The Giants have announced their arbitration decisions.  Of course, they offered arbitration to Joe Panik, Will Smith, Hunter Strickland, Cory Gearrin, and Sam Dyson.  However, they non-tnedered Albert Suarez.  Panik, Strickland, and Dyson are arbitration eligible for the first time, Smith and Gearrin for the second time.

Players have a Jan. 9 deadline for filing for arbitration and the deadline for teams and players to exchange arbitration figures is Jan. 12, although the sides could work out agreements before then.

Matt Swartz, noted saber, has been publishing his arbitration projections every year now.  His latest projections are available.  These are the players projected arbitration salaries:

  • Joe Panik:  $3.5M
  • Sam Dyson:  $4.6M
  • Will Smith:  $2.5M
  • Hunter Strickland:  $1.7M 
  • Cory Gearrin:  $1.6M

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Your 2018 Giants: 40-man Roster Changes Ahead of Rule 5 Draft

In preparation for the Rule 5 draft, where teams can steal players from other teams who they think are ready, as they would need to be on the 25-man roster for the 2018 season, teams have tidied up their 40-man roster, placing guys on that they are afraid of losing and DFA-ing player they are not as afraid of losing.

The Giants added RHP Tyler Beede, C Aramis Garcia, RHP Tyler Herb, and LHP D.J. Snelten.

The Giants DFAed two middle infielders, Micah Johnson and Orlando Calixte, as well as RHP Dan Slania (who has cleared waivers; the news is at this link right now, but will be pushed down as other news comes in)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

2017 Winter GM Meetings: News and Thoughts

I should have probably started this Monday, but wanted to get my other posts out first.  The news leading up to the meetings were Sabean's two interviews in the week prior to the start of the meetings.

The first was in the new coaches announcements (also, Rick Schu announced as assistant hitting coach at some point), when Sabean noted that the team's main areas of improvement that they are focused on are defensive CF, starting 3B, and bullpen improvement.

The second was in an interview he gave The Athletic's Tim Kawakami, where he noted that they will have to make tough choices, saying that beyond Posey and Bumgarner, anyone else could be in play, as long as the move improves the Giants.  I assume improvement means qualities that was mentioned before, getting younger and more athletic, better defensively. 

I will add what I know to have been said in recent days in the post below, and either comment future comments or edit the post with new news, haven't decided best route yet.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Your 2017 Giants: Post-Mortem and 2018 Thoughts

The Giants had the second worse record in franchise history, going 64-98.  I've seen many in the media, including some talking heads who I don't have a lot of respect for, excoriate the Giants for not planning on pursuing power, necessarily, when the annual post-season press conference was held.  The Giants senior management emphasized improving outfield defense, looking for an upgrade at 3B, and perhaps bullpen help.

FYI, all stats from the great Baseball Reference resource.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

My First 2018 Giants Venting

Ugh, I hate when people talking about solving a team's problems and then lists a "solution" that is not even realistic at all.  Recently I read talked about a "solution":  just sign free agents Lorenzo Cain, Howie Kendrick, Todd Frazier, Jon Jay, Tyler Chatwood, Brandon Morrow, Yusmeiro Petit.  Problem solved!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Your 2017 Giants: First Post-Season Presser

Ah, just like old times, when the Giants hold their first press conference after the end of their season, and the team is off a horrible season.  For a long while, Tim Kawakami had been posting the transcript and making it easy for anyone to see what exactly was said, saving me from having to listen/rewind the whole press conference to capture everything.  But he's off doing new things behind new paywalls (so maybe he did provide), and I don't feel like capturing EVERY word exactly anymore :) so like I have since my blog started, I will go over all the questions and answers said, and provide my own commentary (or snarkiness, as the case may be :).

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Your 2018 Giants: The Options and the Opt-In

Per news reports, Cueto chose not to use his opt-out, opting in to stay with the Giants.  In addition, today, it was announced that the Giants picked up the options on Bumgarner, Moore, and Sandoval.

In addition, in the press conference, they announced the hires of Curt Young as new pitching coach and Alonzo Powell as new hitting coach.  Both were astonishingly recommended by their predecessors, Righetti and Meulens, respectively.

They also announced that their top areas for improvement are starting CF, starting 3B (Sandoval looking like a backup utility player at the moment), and the bullpen.

Friday, November 03, 2017

2017 Giants: September and Final PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of September  2017 and is the final for the season, PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here (unfortunately, they removed the article; this link gets you at least to the PQS definition, read down to middle for details). I wrote on this first in 2006 (wow, 12th year of this!) and have compiled their stats on a regular basis, so I'm continuing it this season for continuity and historical comparison (there is the "PQS" label that you can click to see the old posts on this). Regular readers can skip to the next section.

This is the Quality Start with a sabermetric DIPS twist, and it gets really easy to calculate once you get used to it. I don't think it's the end all or be all, but then nothing really is that. It is, as I like to say, another piece of the puzzle. A dominating start is scored a 4 or 5 and a disaster start is scored a 0 or 1. DOM% is the percentage of starts that are dominating, DIS% is the percentage of starts that are disasters (any start under 5.0 IP is automatically a 0, or disaster).

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Your 2018 Giants: Cha-cha-changes

As announced via media leaks and then officially by the Giants, there has been a number of changes in the front office and the field coaches.  Can't tell the players without a scorecard:
  • David Bell:  the first official announcement was about the replacement of Shane Turner with former Giant David Bell, as the new Director of Player Personnel.  He's been working his way around and up, manage/coach for the Reds, Cubs 3rd base coach in 2013 (I think pre-new regime), Cards hitting coach/bench coach since.  Evans touted Bell's strong experience and broad breadth of various aspects of the game. He also noted, "A lot of the success we've had [in player development] has helped us produce championships at the big league level."
  • Shane Turner:  He is now special assistant for pro scouting.  I think of these "special assistant" titles to be the equivalent of "producer" in entertainment, a title given to indicate some importance, but a title given so freely that it loses significance to outside people.  
  • Dave Righetti:  In a shocking move, Rags is removed as our pitching coach, which he has been since 2000 under 3 different managers.  His 18 years tenure as pitching coach was a record for the Giants franchise.  He was moved into the front office and is now special assistant to GM Evans.  The article noted that Rags is not a scapegoat, as the Giants were 4th in the majors in quality starts, and a number of other pitching quality stats.  Evans noted a need for "a new voice" and that "Changes sometimes are needed as much for the sake of that new voice, if anything, and I think that was really the priority here. ... When you see all that these guys have accomplished together, it's very hard to make a change. But ultimately change can be for the good of both your staff and your players sometimes." Also: "This certainly is not going to eliminate Dave Righetti's voice in this organization. In some ways it may even enlarge his voice." And: "Dave's heartbeat is in uniform. But he also loves this organization and our players -- our pitchers, particularly. ... I'm sure it's still hard to imagine, even for us, Dave not being in uniform. But at the same time, there's so much that he can offer in this new role. I'm excited about it." Evans noted somewhere that he had actually approached Rags once the season ended, seeing if he would be interested in a more organizationally influential role.  Righetti was quoted in a later article (after declining to comment after the original announcement of his change) about the other staff changes that one of his new goals is ensuring that the organization's pitchers are taught consistent methods from Rookie Ball to the Majors, and that "After 38 years on the field as a player and coach, I'll be looking at things through a different lens. Working with Bobby and his baseball ops team in the front office, I'll be able to apply all those years of experience to help the team in new ways."
  • Mark Gardner:  Gardner is removed as bullpen coach, which he has been since 2003.  He was also moved into the front office, and is now taking on a special assignment role in pitching evaluations.   
  • Steve Decker:  Decker is removed as assistant hitting coach, which he was just assigned last season.  He is now special assistant in the baseball operations department.
  • Ron Wotus:  The long time bench coach, part of the Giants MLB level coaches since 1998, has been moved to 3B coach, replacing Phil Nevins.  That was his position when he joined the Giants staff, so this is not a new position for him. From the article: "Wotus, who last coached third base regularly in 1998 when he joined the Giants' Major League staff, sounded excited and in no way considered his move a demotion. "I'm looking forward to being on the field again with the players and having more of an impact on our offensive game," said Wotus, who will continue to function as the team's defensive guru. "This is about putting a quality staff together. It's not about me personally. When you're needed somewhere, you go where you're needed. I'm looking forward to the challenge.""
  • Phil Nevins:  We hardly knew ye, Phil, as the rotating 3B coach experience continues after Flan manned the position from the beginning of the Bochy era.  He was up for a manager position (but didn't get it), which is what he is angling for anyway, but didn't want to be re-assigned with this move, and instead left the organization.  
  • Bam Bam Meulens:  Bam Bam is now the Bench Bench Coach, replacing Wotus.  From the article:  "As bench coach, Meulens, who has openly discussed his big league managerial aspirations since joining the Giants' staff in 2010, will be more involved in helping Bochy outline strategy."  Another step in the rung of duties teams look at when evaluating potential managers.  Hence why Wotus has been routinely on the list of interviewed coaches each off-season when teams are interviewing for open manager positions.  Of course, after a dozen years of interviews with no managerial job, that's not a good sign either.
  • Matt Herges:   Another former Giants player rejoined the team, as he was named the new Bullpen Pitching coach.   He was our closer during parts of his time with the team, and has been involved with the Dodgers the past seven years, the last two as their AAA pitching coach.  It was noted that part of Matt Herges’ responsibilities include “series advance analysis," which involves using the computer.  Evans added that Herges was added because of his ability of making pitchers better, not because of his interest/knowledge in analytics.
As noted in one of the announcements, Jose Auguicil will retain his 1B coaching job and Shawon Dunston will retain his on-field instructor/replay analyst position.

Evans noted that:
"I'm not necessarily suggesting that guys who are leaving their positions are moving to more suitable roles. They're very talented baseball people, and I think that there are opportunities to advance their influence and also infuse new perspectives, new energy, new backgrounds into other roles in the organization. It's just part of what happens in organizations, how you keep things strong."
“Teams have to change to keep their edge in an industry as competitive as Major League Baseball. They have to constantly infuse new ideas and energy at every level of the organization, on the field and in the front office. This reorganization helps us enhance an already successful group of some of the best minds in baseball.”
And from the Chron article:
 "Last week, when the Giants reassigned coaches Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner and Steve Decker, Evans said he was interviewing candidates with analytics-driven ideas. On Thursday, Evans said the pitching-coach changes and emphasis on analytics shouldn’t be a reflection on the work of Righetti and Gardner, both of whom he said were engaged analytically."

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Your 2017 Playoff Guide: Beat LA!

Obviously, really late, but I had to post this title!  Short rumination on the playoffs rooting interests for this Giants fan.  Plus, as usual, then I expanded to touch on the starting pitching.

[P.S. I added during lunch time of October 24, 2017]

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Your 2018 Giants: Gets #2 Pick Overall

Final Standing: Tigers lose and Giants win on a walk off by Sandoval, leading to the Tigers getting the #1 pick, and the Giants #2. In spite of Cueto pitching, he had a poor start (pretty much sealing his fate, he's staying with the Giants and not using his opt-out), but the bullpen held strong in this game, and the offense just did enough.  That's the formula of our Golden Era:  good enough pitching, good enough hitting.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Your 2017 Giants: Cainer Retiring, Thanks for Everything!

Matt Cain has announced that he will be retiring (most likely) after this season and will have his final start for the Giants on Saturday, September 30.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Your 2018 Giants: Holding Strong 2018 Draft Pick Position

As I wrote about last month, the Giants are headed for a high draft pick position overall in 2018, and they have continued to keep the pace.  And not only held serve, but gained some, falling beneath the White Sox to hold the #2 position now by 1.5 games over the ChiSox, losing a road series to their depleted (after trading off a bunch of their top players) team.  The Phillies hold the first pick, a game ahead of the Giants.  (this was mostly written before today's game)

Friday, September 08, 2017

2017 Giants: August PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of August 2017, PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here (unfortunately, they removed the article; this link gets you at least to the PQS definition, read down to middle for details). I wrote on this first in 2006 (wow, 12th year of this!) and have compiled their stats on a regular basis, so I'm continuing it this season for continuity and historical comparison (there is the "PQS" label that you can click to see the old posts on this). Regular readers can skip to the next section.

This is the Quality Start with a sabermetric DIPS twist, and it gets really easy to calculate once you get used to it. I don't think it's the end all or be all, but then nothing really is that. It is, as I like to say, another piece of the puzzle. A dominating start is scored a 4 or 5 and a disaster start is scored a 0 or 1. DOM% is the percentage of starts that are dominating, DIS% is the percentage of starts that are disasters (any start under 5.0 IP is automatically a 0, or disaster).

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Your 2017 Giants: Pondering the Draft Pick Position Possibilities

I was just here thinking about the Giants.  They have been playing OK lately, to my mind.  Not playoff level, but kind of like the Giants I grew up with:  Meh with a bit of hope and a dash of "OMG are you f-ing kidding me?"  Of course, I want a good draft pick, and meh might ruin that dream, so it got me thinking about what the draft possibilities are, even though, with so many games, still many ways it can go, many different scenarios.  Still, interesting to ponder.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

2017 Giants: July PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of July 2017, PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here (unfortunately, they removed the article; this link gets you at least to the PQS definition, read down to middle for details). I wrote on this first in 2006 (wow, 12th year of this!) and have compiled their stats on a regular basis, so I'm continuing it this season for continuity and historical comparison (there is the "PQS" label that you can click to see the old posts on this). Regular readers can skip to the next section.

This is the Quality Start with a sabermetric DIPS twist, and it gets really easy to calculate once you get used to it. I don't think it's the end all or be all, but then nothing really is that. It is, as I like to say, another piece of the puzzle. A dominating start is scored a 4 or 5 and a disaster start is scored a 0 or 1. DOM% is the percentage of starts that are dominating, DIS% is the percentage of starts that are disasters (any start under 5.0 IP is automatically a 0, or disaster).

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Your 2017 Giants (maybe): El Gordo Sandoval Rotund to the Giants

As all the whispers and tweets have intimated, Pablo Sandoval has signed with the Giants on a minor league contract, after being dumped by the Red Sox, with one of the largest owed amounts left on a contract ever.  He will start off with San Jose to DH one game, then head over to AAA Sacramento to play 3B and DH as the Giants try to figure out what he has left.

The reports are that he is now healthy and slimmer (as always, it's all relate for him), and he was contrite in his return, apologizing to anyone and everyone in Giants Nation, though that last ball of the 2014 World Series apparently is not returning rightfully to the Giants (the rumor is that he sold the ball off).

ogc thoughts

Personally, I would not have pursued this.  Been there, done that.  And words have been said, words that apologies won't really salve and didn't for me.  Worse, the ball was not returned, he dissed the franchise and all the fans by reportedly selling it off to someone (perhaps a Royal's fan who burned it; who knows?  But he was pretty angry about the Giants back then, so I can see that happening).

That said, I am personally OK about his return, and don't think it's the bad move that some in the media and the fans have painted it.  Just because Gillaspie is younger does not mean that he's a better player than Sandoval.  Plus Nunez is probably traded, Hwang just got sent back down to AAA because he just hasn't adjusted to playing off the bench and spot starting, Ryder Jones and Christian Arroyo are both injured by HBP, leaving only backups like Calixte and Tomlinson to play 3B.  Sandoval could be the replacement without hurting development if he shows anything in the minors.

And, yeah, it don't look good as far as PR goes to invite back with open arms a player who dissed the Giants so badly that not only the bridge is burned but so is the rest of the road back to the Giants.  But this is a no-lose situation for the Giants.

If he fails, he stays in the minors, don't cost us a 40-man prospect, nor that much money.   Only their dignity takes a hit.

If he plays well enough that the Giants could bring him up, he probably is only coming up if Nunez is gone, and a roster spot is then opened up on the 40-man, as he won't get us a close or great prospect, just an intriguing prospect with a few years to go, like we gave up when we traded for him.  He's not coming up unless he's starting, and I can't see the Giants dumping an interesting prospect for nothing if he's not starting.

If he starts for the Giants, and then fails or is just passable, that just makes a bad season worse. That's fine with me, I want to get as good a draft pick next season as possible, a Top 3 ideally, a Top 5 appears to be likely, at worse a Top 10 pick (though that would disappoint me greatly, at this point, I really want a Top 3 pick).

If he starts for the Giants and hits like he used to hit for us, that's found money, and hopefully the Giants can sign him for the next season.  If he can keep his weight down and hit the way he can hit, he's worth the money we would have to pay him, which would not be much for 2018 and maybe 2019 too because of how bad he was with Boston.  Other teams will either think that he's only good with the Giants or that he was only lucky, and not bother to try signing him on the cheap for 2018.  He'll have to prove he's back over a year to get other teams to take strong interest in signing him up for bigger money than the vet minimum, and that pushes it out to at least 2019.

And at this point, I'm only worried about 2018, and there is not a lot that says that 2018 will be that much better than 2017 right now, we need a lot to go good for us to have sufficient hope that 2018 is better.  There are a lot of "ifs" involved with us competing for the playoffs in 2018.

Summing up, having a Sandoval who can hit like he did before is a great value to have on our team for 2018, as he won't cost much but would contribute a lot.  Having a Sandoval who hit like he did for the Red Sox is a great value to have for getting our team that Top 3 2018 Draft pick.

I understand how some fans can be so passionate about this.   But being a GM requires decision makers to be like investors, very dispassionate about decision making.  And if one is focused on what makes the Giants better in 2018, then the move makes sense, as it is a no-lose situation, no matter what Sandoval does.

I personally would not have signed him (and that's the emotional side of me), and I will admit that I was going to write a post stating, "No Mas, Por Favor".  But now that he's here, I can see the various benefits of having him around (dispassionate side), I won't let my emotions blind me any further as to the merits of the situation.   I know that I'm not always right about the Giants moves.

And this is probably the right move for the Giants, given all the benefits I listed above, and I can live with the decision without making a hissy fit, as some have done (particularly one media type who seems to love to take digs at the Giants all the time, most probably because he's followed the A's for so many decades, it is like he's on their payroll;  or maybe it's the Stockholm Syndrome).   It will certainly be more interesting to follow than how the team has been playing this season.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Your 2017 Giants All-Star Break: A Few Eggs, Make Lemonade

What a difference a year makes!  A year ago, roughly, at the All-Star Break, the Giants had one of the best records in the MLB.  Since then, they have lost 101 games (including the playoffs).  My thoughts.

ogc thoughts

After the offense broke out in June of their poor performance in April/May, they returned to the badness of the start of the season.  Only Brandon Belt - who somehow always seems to be the whipping horse of Giants fan - produced out the regulars in July, before the break.  Everyone else, including Posey (even Slater, before his essentially season ending injury), hit poorly.

The pitching didn't do much better either, not as good as April/May, but at least better than their horrible June.  It is like the pitching and hitting just can't do well at the same time.  Though at least the offense was great in June, the pitching hasn't really clicked at all during the 2017 season, it has been all relatively bad compared to prior years.

Starting Pitching Been Bad

There are a variety of reasons for that.  Of course, the biggest one is that Bumgarner has been out because of his biking injury.  Blach has been decent in replacement, but he's been mostly an innings eater, perfect for the back of the rotation, not so much in replacing Bumgarner's normal production.  Not that I expected him to be a carbon copy, and a 4.59 ERA is actually decent for a rookie starter, but his great start gave me hope that he might deliver a better performance than this, with a very poor 4.2 K/9.

Cueto No Bueno

Cueto has been bad as well.  In a recent interview, he blamed it on him missing most of spring training, and not getting himself ready properly.  However, as Bochy noted when given this explanation by beat writers, said that might be true, but we're 3 months into the season now, he should have gotten into playing shape by now.  Of course, part of the reason he missed spring training was because he was busy dealing with his ailing father.  And he brought his father with him to the States to take care of him still, so perhaps he's still mentally dealing with that, and professional sports is already hard enough to play without distractions, and having a sick family member distract is a very understandable reason, assuming he's still dealing with that issue.

And distraction or lack of focus appears to be part of the answer for Cueto's woes.  His K/9 rate is up there with what he's been doing and is above his career numbers, but his walk rate and HR rate are both sky high, among the worse in his career, basically where he was when he first started in the majors.   And loss of focus would contribute greatly to a sharp increase in walks (50% higher than in recent years) and homers (also more than 50% higher), as he would make more mistakes into the zone and out of the zone, missing the corners.

Also, maybe he's not as into his "act" on the mound, as he has been in recent years.   He clearly had fun with that from what I saw of him previously.  Maybe it's not as fun with his father ailing, and he does not put as much effort into it.  Whatever the case may be, his 4.51 ERA is barely better than what Blach has contributed, which is nowhere close to what we should be expecting out of him.  That not only kills his trade value, which I had been hoping given this season, but increases the odds that he picks up his player's option, which, as much as I loved what he did last season, I did not want to commit that much to him over the next four seasons.  Hopefully the break will give his mind the rest he needs to reset and he can start pitching like he can during the rest of July (four starts) and showcase his trade value.

Moore Has Been Less

Moore has had a lost season.  He has been up and down, but mostly down, as apparently he has been struggling to thrown his normal repertoire of pitches because he added a cutter since joining the Giants, and that got him out of his normal mechanics enough to throw him off.  So he's stopped using that pitch, and has been searching for his former mechanics.

There is already talk among the beats and fans that perhaps the Giants should seriously consider not picking up his option for next season for $9M and instead buy him out for $1M.  This is ridiculous, because the assumption underlying that is that he can't even muster up a season like 2016, and unless there is something physically wrong, he should be able to do something like that, which was worth 2.0 BWar, which is worth roughly double the $8M extra we would be paying him for.   So the downside is that if he's still bad next season, as long as he can have a bounceback year and get back to a semblance of 2016, he should be able to give us 1.0 BWar, which would be production that matches his cost.  It's a risk, but I would take that type of risk, as long as the Giants don't think there is something physically wrong with him.

The Shark Is An Enigma 

How does one strike out 9.7 K/9 and only walk 1.1 BB/9 for a stupendously great 9.07 K/BB ratio, and still have an ERA basically the same as Ty Blach, who didn't even strike out half as many, while walking more?  4.58 ERA is not what one would expect.

The homers are doing him in, as he has a career high (as a starter) 1.4 HR/9 going this season, and much like his lost season with the White Sox, the homers appear to be doing in his ERA.   His H/9 is also high, so apparently when he's not striking out guys, they are making very good contact with his pitches.   His BABIP is a sky high .327, and that is his high for his career, worse since his first season as a starter.

Not only that, but hitters are hitting him like a power hitter, as overall, his ISO for hitters is 198.   That is just too many mistakes going into the hitters' wheelhouse.  There is no good reason for hitters to be hitting him that well.

I assume this is still part of the adjustments Samardzija has been making with the Giants Pitching Brain Trust.  When you are learning, you tend to make more mistakes, and it seems to me that was what was affecting him a lot with the White Sox, as they worked a lot with him too.   I thought that he made a lot of progress last season, and the great K/BB ratio suggests that he's still working on other lessons given him this season, with the poor ERA a sign that he's still struggling with parts of those lessons.

Looking at his game by game stats, there seems to be three distinct phases:

  • Phase 1:  Starts 1-5:  He had a 6.32 ERA, and hitters were hitting him hard, .269/.338/.487/.826, with a .329 BABIP and 218 ISO.  And he had good enough peripherals, except for the homers:  31.1 IP, 32 hits, 10 BB, 35 SO, 6 homers.
  • Phase 2:  Starts 6-12:  He had a great 2.98 ERA, and he was mostly containing the hitters, .259/.265/.422/.686, except for the power (163 ISO), though he got his homer-itis down, with only 4 homers in those 7 starts.  49.1 IP, 48 hits (for very high .355 BABIP), 1 BB, 59 K's.
  • Phase 3:  Starts 13-18:  He had a 5.17 ERA, and the power output flew sky high as his strikeouts went down, with a .269/.283/.494/.777 for a 225 ISO (whole teams were hitting him like good sluggers).  In 38.1 IP, 42 hits, 3 walks, 33 K's, but 8 homers, for a nearly 2.0 HR/9 (goal is under 1.0 HR/9).   

Admittedly, very small samples, but still, they represent three different results.  In Phase 1, he was doing his thing and it wasn't working well.  In Phase 2, he was able to get his control and command down pretty well, but kept on missing badly on occasion, when the hitter would make him pay, with with so few runners on, not many runs scored.  In Phase 3, it appears that he adjusted his style to strikeout less guys in order to induce less contact, which worked in reducing his BABIP down to the normal mean, but ended up with him giving up even more homers.  If it was just the hitters adjusting to him, then I would think that his BABIP would have gotten worse.

Hopefully Phase 4 begins after the ASB.  The coaches will break down what's working and what's not, and he will clear his mind of some of the clutter of the season.   I would just let him continue doing what he was doing when he was going good and work from there, letting him consolidate the learning of this season, and stop changing him, which will only lead to more mistakes.

As I discussed when we first signed him, I view the signings of him and Cueto as a pair of matching bookends.   Cueto is the co-ace to pair up with Bumgarner for the first two seasons, while the Giants work on Samardzija to get him up to ace level performance.   As much as we are paying him, salaries in baseball today is such that we are only paying him for slightly better than average WAR production, roughly short of 2.5 WAR, which he more than delivered last season, and is falling short of this season, but over the two seasons, should be pretty close to break even.

I was hoping for quicker results, but I guess the Brain Trust had its work cut out with the Shark.  Still, we have some time still, the rest of this season, for him to figure things out going forward.  That's why I'm against any of the talk about trading him off.  They seem to be getting close to figuring him out, and just need to fine tune some things to get him there.

And there is no rush to get rid of him either, we will still need him in future seasons, as even if Cueto opts to stay, Cain will be leaving the rotation before the 2018 season, and perhaps soon, and Beede has been having growing pains in AAA this season, leaving Blach as the only alternative there, unless Suarez can continue to develop.  If Samardzija is traded, that's two rotation spots we need to fill, and if Cueto does decide to opt out (ominous that he complained about the lack of Latin players on the roster; ironic as there was plenty not that long ago), that would be three spots.

Thus, I don't see how the Giants can trade off either of Moore or Samardzija, as some have suggested, that's just too many rotation spots filled with question marks, and even if they could sign a free agent, they will have great leverage on the Giants (something Sabean hates) with that many spots open, and only Blach, Beede, Suarez, Stratton as possible starters.  Plus, there is the possibility of Cain being re-signed after the Giants buy him out, but, as I think his time with us is done.

Cain is Not Able

I was totally wrong about Cain.  He appeared to be figuring things out last season, just before he got injured, but that apparently was a mirage, as he has not been good, even in short stints, this season.  Nothings shows this more than his very poor 5.3 K/9 for the season and 1.39 K/BB ratio.  And he did have a nice 4 game stretch in April, after having a full spring training where he wasn't doing well but was excusing it by saying that he was working on things for the season.

But it is almost like he injured himself somehow after the San Diego game or during the Reds game that started his debacle stretch of the season.  Only one start after that with over 4 strikeouts.  And homeruns galore, 11 given up in those 12 starts, 63.0 IP but only 31 K's but also 27 walks.  That added up to a 7.00 ERA and .928 OPS, as well as a .360 BABIP.   As poorly as Blach has pitched in recent games, Cain has been horrible, and most likely will be the pitcher leaving the rotation when Bumgarner returns.
Though, to be fair, in Blach's last 6 starts:  6.95 ERA, 33.2 IP, 50 hits, 4 homers, only 20 K's, but at least only 8 walks, still for a .932 OPS and .380 BABIP, which is pretty much as bad as Cain has been.  So perhaps the Giants will allow Cain to finish up the season as a starter, though they did skip his last start of the first half in order to throw Cueto out there, upon which he pitched even worse than how Cain had been pitching.   Based on this, I would be OK with letting Cain finish up the season in the rotation, if they want to respect him in that way, though obviously the best thing would be to DFA him and let Blach pitch and learn.  The decision will be interesting.

Plans for the Rest of the Season

The Giants are in prime draft position for next season:  they have the second pick, currently.  Too bad it wasn't for this season, as then we could have gotten Hunter Greene, he would have been an interesting prospect for the Giants to have.

In any case, I'm all for trading off Cueto and Nunez, and perhaps others (Span? Pence?), but not any of our homegrown guys nor our rotation, as I assume the plan to do reload and try to get into the playoffs again in 2018.  Trading off beyond those two don't really make any sense unless we get back something more than what we gave up, and since we'll be trading with playoff contenders, that type of trade won't make sense for them to do.

I assume both are tradeable.  At this point, I don't even need much, even though I once harbored dreams of getting a nice batch of prospects for Cueto.   Then the team would be set up for staying in prime draft position.

With Cueto gone, our rotation would be Bumgarner, Samardzija, Moore, Blach, and Cain.  With Moore, Blach, and Cain struggling to find a way to be good, there should be enough poor performances there to keep us near the bottom, and thus near the top of the draft.  In addition, both Bumgarner and Samardzija have their own question marks.

Bumgarner is no guarantee to bust out of the gates as his usual self, as he has a recent history of poor starts to the season, plus he really hasn't had any spring training preparedness to be starting the second game of the second half.  It would not be surprising if he is rusty in his first few starts back, which is just fine for this scenario.  Then he could work himself into his usual MadBum shape sometime in August and finish strongly to lead into 2018.

Samardzija, in addition, has been horrible in his last five starts.  There is no guarantee that he will get back to what he was doing in May and June, nor what he was doing for much of 2016 (he did finish 2016 with a 3.66 ERA in the second half and had a 3.14 ERA on June 17, before a bad 8 start stretch from then to early August, 6.99 ERA, killed his overall ERA).  Interesting how the wheels came off this season on June 16, while it came off on June 22 last season.  For 2015, it was June 2nd.  June 1st for 2014.  June 8th for 2013.  So that seems to be a thing for him, but the good news is that he usually comes back sometimes after that.

With Nunez traded, then the lineup would be Span (may as well not start Gorkys anymore in platoon), Panik, Belt, Posey, Pence, Crawford, Hwang, Hernandez (since Slater is out for the season, basically, Parker isn't ready, and Williamson was just sent down to AAA).  Hwang and Hernandez are question marks, and Span has been up and down, with him being really down against LHP.  Plus, Pence and Crawford have not been hitting as well as expected, and Panik has been up and down.  That is not a recipe for a strong offense, and relieving our budget of Cueto would allow the Giants to pick up a free agent starting LF next season.

Your 2018 Giants

And running through our options for 2018, it is no slamdunk that the team will be playoff competitive next season.

We will need Bumgarner to return to normal, while both Samardzija and Moore pitch more like their good selves and not their bad selves.  We'll also need some growth from Blach and probably Beede (Suarez?) for the back of the rotation to be respectable.  Sure, they are all reasonable on a one-by-one basis, but adding up all those probabilities will leave a lot of scenarios where the rotation will falter in some way.

The lineup would look as good as expected in 2017, but will players return to prior norms and not repeat 2017?  Will Pence be like he was before?  Will Crawford, who is not as far into his 30's, be able to duplicate peak year production of 2015-2016?  Will Panik ever get back to his goodness in his first full season?  And hopefully Belt and Posey will be as good as usual.

And I still don't understand the hate on Belt.  The latest complaint I've seen is how inconsistent he is.  Over the last three seasons, 2015-2017, on a monthly basis, with at least 23 starts in the month, out of 14 months (and I'm counting this July even though he's not at 23 games started yet, but is hitting .994 OPS), he only has one month under .714 OPS, only 2 months under .766 OPS, and only 4 months under .799 OPS, which is pretty good.  It is not as great as the leading offensive hitters in the majors, sure, but 1) we aren't paying him at that level, 2) he brings a lot of defensive value (roughly 1 win per season with his defense per DRS over the 2015-2017 period), 3) he's still the second best hitter on the team behind Posey, no matter what anybody has said about his offense, he led in OPS in 2013, was injured a lot in 2014, was second to Posey in 2015, led the team by a lot in 2016, and is second to Posey again in 2017.   His offense is the least to complain about in our lineup, there are a lot more disappointments among Pence, Crawford, Panik, 3B (except for Nunez), and LF (except for Slater), plus the bench, except for Hundley.

Still, it seems like a lot of the issues the team has been having are BABIP related and thus some hope for regression to the mean in 2018.  It is just that it seems to be killing both hitters and pitchers alike, for the most part, so is it BABIP bad luck, or the inevitable decline that age brings?

Hence why we need a burst of prospect magic dust by holding onto this primo draft position.  No team should play to get to this position.  But since we are here now, why not take advantage of it and just float along for the rest of the season?

Even if the Giants play decent .500 ball the rest of the way, the team will still end up 70-92.  That would have given us the 8th pick last season.  And just to get to .500 overall would take a .653 winning percentage the rest of the season (a 105 win-rate for a season!).  If the Giants play at the same poor rate for the rest of the season, they are headed for a 101 loss season.  One of the beat writers (or many more) noted that the Giants are so far behind right now that it is the worse we have been behind since the 1902 New York Giants.  And their winning percentage right now might be riding high, after their recent winning streak boosted things, as they were battling for the worse record overall at that time.

May as well play the hand dealt us and keep to the bottom, like we did in 1986, the last time in recent memory the team played so badly overall.  That netted us the Will Clark pick that turned the franchise around.  Don't muck around and try to win more, like they did in 2013 at the end of the season, pushing themselves out of a Top 10 overall pick.

Of course, even top picks are not slam dunks, but they are as near as we will ever get with anything in baseball.  And as I noted in my business plan, that's the way a team can rebuild, by losing and losing badly, like the Braves did before in the 80's to build the base for the 90's.

So I hope the Giants management take it easy with the team and the roster.  Trade away guys who might not be around anyway, in Cueto and Nunez.  If contenders really need a reliever, I would be willing to trade away older relievers Strickland, Gearrin, Kontos, Osich, even Melancon, in the right deal (netting a good prospect for little money; and must keep Dyson if this happens).  Relievers are not fungible, but we have a lot of young talent in the minors, bring them up and see what they can do as a reliever.  If anyone would take Span without much money sent along, trade him.  Same with Pence, as much as I would prefer to keep him, but cutting a big salary will open up options on free agency for 2018 (with Cain and Nunez salaries off, plus perhaps Cueto and others).  

Play the young guys more, by platooning with the older guys, or just start them (Hwang in 3B, young guy in LF), that's win-win, as we saw with Arroyo and Slater:  if they struggle, they should learn from the experience, and at worse, the Giants have a better handle on their actual MLB value, and if they hit/pitch, then you got another nice player.

Slater looks like he can be a nice complementary player, for example.  One has to think that his poor player recently was due to him already dealing with some pain from the muscle he eventually pulled off his bone, he probably had already injured himself and kept it quiet until it ripped off.  Too bad on the timing, but he should be given a great shot to win a spot in spring training for 2018, if not a chance to start in LF.

Monday, July 03, 2017

2017 Giants: June PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of June 2017, PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here (unfortunately, they removed the article; this link gets you at least to the PQS definition, read down to middle for details). I wrote on this first in 2006 (wow, 12th year of this!) and have compiled their stats on a regular basis, so I'm continuing it this season for continuity and historical comparison (there is the "PQS" label that you can click to see the old posts on this). Regular readers can skip to the next section.

This is the Quality Start with a sabermetric DIPS twist, and it gets really easy to calculate once you get used to it. I don't think it's the end all or be all, but then nothing really is that. It is, as I like to say, another piece of the puzzle. A dominating start is scored a 4 or 5 and a disaster start is scored a 0 or 1. DOM% is the percentage of starts that are dominating, DIS% is the percentage of starts that are disasters (any start under 5.0 IP is automatically a 0, or disaster).

Thursday, June 15, 2017

2017 Giants Draft Picks

The Giants drafted the following players (link will change every year, so below is the final results):

2017 Giants Draft Picks (slot) 
3. SETH CORRY ($558.5K)
4. GARRETT CAVE ($417.2K)
5. JASON BAHR ($310.8K)
6. BRYCE JOHNSON ($239.6K)
7. LOGAN HARASTA ($187.8K)
8. JOHN GAVIN ($154.2K)
10. ROB CALABRESE ($132.5K)

Ramos has reportedly been signed already, and Gonzalez's dad has announced that he's signing and starting his career.

Monday, June 12, 2017

2017 Amateur Draft Mock Drafts

I'm not as into the draft this season as seasons' past, but thought I would share some information for those who are interested.  The draft starts today with Round 1, and continues over a total of three days.  This site has a lot of good info on the event, which starts at 4PM PDT today:
Draft Primer  
In addition, the Pipeline always provides a nice scouting report on their Top 200 prospects, this is a nice resource to know some key facts on each prospect, plus most of the top ones should have video links too: Pipeline Prospect Watch
Also, Baseball America published their Top 500 list.

Here are the mock drafts I'm looking at today:
Baseball America 4.0
Baseball Amercia 4.5
MLB Pipeline
MLB Pipeline:  Jim Callis
CBS Sports

Sunday, June 04, 2017

2017 Giants: May PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of May 2017, PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here (unfortunately, they removed the article; this link gets you at least to the PQS definition, read down to middle for details). I wrote on this first in 2006 (wow, 12th year of this!) and have compiled their stats on a regular basis, so I'm continuing it this season for continuity and historical comparison (there is the "PQS" label that you can click to see the old posts on this). Regular readers can skip to the next section.

This is the Quality Start with a sabermetric DIPS twist, and it gets really easy to calculate once you get used to it. I don't think it's the end all or be all, but then nothing really is that. It is, as I like to say, another piece of the puzzle. A dominating start is scored a 4 or 5 and a disaster start is scored a 0 or 1. DOM% is the percentage of starts that are dominating, DIS% is the percentage of starts that are disasters (any start under 5.0 IP is automatically a 0, or disaster).

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Your 2017 Giants: Big Six Top Giants Prospect Lists

I sometimes post a Big Six Giants prospect list on my blog - as, generally, while there are a lot of interesting prospects, there are maybe 4-8 who are really interesting from the viewpoint of contributing this year or contributing in a big way in the future - but frankly have not made the time to do it before the season began.  
The season has already begun, and we are pretty deep into it already, but I haven't really looked much at how the minor leagues are doing right now (though I did read about Shawsome doing well so far, that he got moved to LF), so I'll write some notes regarding what I knew about the season before the season, just to get this out there.

Ignore if you don't care or it's too late for you, it's cool, I just wanted to get it out.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Interview: Former Giants Top Prospect Gary Brown

Ran across this recent interview by Tyler Boronski with Gary Brown that is on YouTube:

Monday, May 15, 2017

2017 Giants: April PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of April 2017, PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here (unfortunately, they removed the article; this link gets you at least to the PQS definition, read down to middle for details). I wrote on this first in 2006 (wow, 12th year of this!) and have compiled their stats on a regular basis, so I'm continuing it this season for continuity and historical comparison (there is the "PQS" label that you can click to see the old posts on this). Regular readers can skip to the next section.

This is the Quality Start with a sabermetric DIPS twist, and it gets really easy to calculate once you get used to it. I don't think it's the end all or be all, but then nothing really is that. It is, as I like to say, another piece of the puzzle. A dominating start is scored a 4 or 5 and a disaster start is scored a 0 or 1. DOM% is the percentage of starts that are dominating, DIS% is the percentage of starts that are disasters (any start under 5.0 IP is automatically a 0, or disaster).

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Your 2017 Giants: Bumgarner Got a Bum Ride

As all Giants fans already know by now, Madison Bumgarner injured himself severely on a dirt bike, and was placed on the 10-day DL.  He is expected to be out for up to two months.

Ty Blach now moves into his rotation spot, for now, and Chris Stratton was called up to take his place in the bullpen as long relief.  No word if Stratton will get short relief tries as well, like Bochy noted that Blach would get opportunities doing short as well.

Speaking of Bochy, he missed the KC series in order to have a heart procedure done.  Something about a misfiring muscle that caused an irregular heartbeat.  He says it was no big deal, he was fixed up.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Your 2017 Giants: Chances Are Awfully Good With Starting Rotation

I have normally done a huge review of what I think the Giants would do in the season (and generally before the season starts), but I've been busy.  But it's not like I turned off my brain to all this, just that I don't have all the time to get it all out there like I used to.  So I'm breaking this up into parts, where I'll discuss what I'm thinking about your 2017 Giants.  In this installment, I'm talking about how good the Giants chances are for making the playoffs and going deep, as well as the starting rotation, where it all begins for the Giants in this dynastic period.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Your 2017 Giants: Opening Day Roster

The Giants Opening Day roster has been settled.  Haft reported it in an article:

  • Catcher:  Posey; Hundley (FYI, I was mistaken before, he's not Hot Rod's son, sorry)
  • Infield:  Belt, Panik, Nunez, Crawford; Gillaspie, Hill
  • Outfield:  Parker, Span, Pence; Hernandez and Marrero
  • Starting Pitchers:  Bumgarner, Cueto, Moore, Samardzija, Cain
  • Relievers:  Melanco, Strickland, Law, Kontos, Gearrin, Ramirez, with Blach as the long reliever, but also sometimes short stints too, per Bochy  

ogc thoughts

As most probably saw before camp, most of the spots were filled the way as expected.  I'll run though my thoughts on the ones that didn't or wasn't clear what was happening.

One of the bigger surprises, to me, was that Rollins did not win a spot.  His poor performance before should have clued me in, but his poor performance this spring, plus Hill hitting well enough (Tomlinson too), pushed him out.

One of my hopes for the spring was that Morse would win the 5th OF spot, and he accomplished that, but unfortunately, as it often has for him in his career, he suffered another injury and will be rehabbing in the minors instead.  His loss is Marrero's gain, though Marrero's 8 homers was a very good reason why he's on the team too, the Giants want some power off the bench.  It also sounds like he and Parker will be platooning some, as well, plus he might see some time at 1B as well.

I was not surprised that Cain won the 5th starter spot, as his contract size and his return to goodness last season before the hamstring took him out made him likely to win just by showing progress during the spring.  Blach, unsurprisingly won the long relief spot, as his consolation prize for a good spring.

I was surprised to see Okert get sent down, but Ramirez had a spring to suggest that he's back to his prior goodness from early in his career, after years of injuries and recovery, and there was no one else more logical to send down via options.  This gives the Giants good depth in the bullpen should there be injuries (and there will be) down along the line.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Giants and OF: It's a Work in Progress, as Haters Always Hate

I've seen many complaints about the Giants inability to develop outfielders in recent years.  This recent article in the Mercury brought it up again, noting "most of which went sour", and put some data into the conversation, which I've copied here:

Name, Yr. drafted              Draft Rd            SF Years      SF Games Played   OF Starts
Nate Schierholtz (2003)         2 (63)            2007-12                   503                  258
Fred Lewis  (2002)                2 (66)            2006-09                   326                  214
Todd Linden  (2001)             1-s (41)          2003-07                   270                    79
John Bowker  (2004)            3 (100)           2008-10                   183                    46
Dan Ortmeier  (2002)            3 (97)             2005-08                   124                    33
Jarrett Parker (2010)             2 (74)             2015-current              84                    39
Mac Williamson (2012)          3 (115)          2015-current              64                    35
Roger Kieschnick  (2008)       3 (82)            2013                           38                    21
Gary Brown  (2010)               1 (24)            2014                             7                      1
Wendell Fairley (2007)            1 (29)              —                              0                      0
Eddie Martinez-Esteve (2004)  2 (70)            —                              0                      0
Dylan Davis   (2014)               3 (87)           Still in system
Bryan Reynolds  (2016)           2 (59)          Still in system
Heath Quinn (2016)                 3 (95)           Still in system

Monday, February 13, 2017

Your 2017 Giants: Relief in the Bullpen

Hopefully quick blog post, especially since some liked this format before.  I read about how the Giants were taking a chance with our bullpen, as among the relievers expected to make the team (Kontos, Law, Okert, Osich, Smith, Strickland; not sure why Guerrin was left off, was that a hint?), there were a lot of blown saves among them, 14 in total.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Your 2017 Giants: Nick Hundley Signs for $2.0M to be Backup Catcher

The Giants signed Nick Hundley for $2.0M recently.  Andy Baggarly called it with a paragraph on this when the Giants agreed to sign Hwang.  While he was not named as the backup starter, he pretty much is, with his relatively large contract, resulting in Brown either being the 3rd catcher or starting in AAA.  With the 40-man roster full, the Giants DFAed Ehire Adrianza.  Evans said that they would take him back and place him in the minors should he not be picked up, and would get a spring training invite.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Your 2017 Giants: Korean Star Jae-gyun Hwang Agrees to Minor League Deal

Reporting by Pavlovic, Shea, Baggerly:
  • Giants agreed with Korean 3B Jae-gyun Hwang on a minor league deal.  It appears to be pending a physical.  He will get a spring training invite, and if he makes the 25-man roster, get a $1.5M MLB contract, plus up to $1.6M in bonuses (basically would have to play a full season to get the max).
    • There was some conflicting reports on what he has done in his career.
    • Baggerly:  "Hwang, 29, is coming off the best season of his career for Lotte Giants in Korea. The right-handed hitter posted a .335/.394/.570 slash line with a career high 27 home runs and 25 stolen bases – the fifth consecutive year in which he swiped at least 20."
    • Pavlovic:  "Hwang has played 10 seasons in the KBO and is coming off back-to-back 26-homer seasons. He posted a .330/.391/.558 slash line last season for the Lotte Giants in what is considered a hitter-friendly league. "
    • In any case, he has some power (which don't translate as well) and speed (which translates better, but still not that great) as he tries to make the majors.
  • Baggerly:  "He made his intention to play in the U.S. known to Lotte, rejecting “a sizable offer” from the club, according to Yonhap News Agency. The Giants were among the clubs who attended Hwang’s showcase in Florida earlier this offseason, and were said to be impressed with his contact skills. That’s been a point of emphasis for Hwang, who reduced his strikeouts from 122 in 2015 to 66 last season."
  • He did not need to be posted, being a true free agent per the rules governing Korean players. 
  • His preference was to gain a 40-man roster spot.  The Giants, in any case, do not have any open 40-man spots right now anyway, and would need to remove someone off the roster either via trade or DFA in order to add him should he make the team.  He has options to opt-out of his contract, should he not make the Giants.  
In addition, the Giants aren’t done adding to their roster depth in the three weeks before spring camp opens; they are believed to be wrapping up their search for a backup catcher, since they only have Buster Posey and Trevor Brown on the 40-man roster.  The goal appears to be to find a better MLB catcher, allowing the Giants to use Brown’s minor league options. Starting Brown at Triple-A would allow him to gain more catching experience, and he could join the Giants roster whenever the need arises.

ogc thoughts

After about 10 years since they added an international scout in order to improve their Asia-Pacific scouting, the Giants finally sign (OK, agreed to sign) someone directly from one of the Asian leagues in Jae-gyun Hwang (they signed Nori Aoki previously, but he already came to the US already and been a major league starter, and so did Hak-ju Lee, who they signed to a minor league deal last season, but had been with the Rays for a long time).  With some power, speed, and good contact (from what I recall, the Korean league is not as good as the Japanese league, which some view as either on par with AAA or even AAAA; the Korean league is more like between AA and AAA, to some, so his great numbers have to be taken with a baseball sized grain of salt), seems like a typical player the Giants like to pick up and take a flier on.

This gives additional competition for the starting 3B position, with Nunez the incumbent trying to hold his spot, and Gillaspie posing some competition as well.  Hwang, with some SS experience as well, would also pose some competition with Gillaspie and Adrianza for a backup infielder spot on the bench.   Hwang could possibly play a super-utility role, or the Giants could give him the starting role in order to use Nunez in the super-utility role, which he has played for years for the Twins, only last season starting and playing mainly one position, 3B.

I've been saying for years that the Giants need to add a super-utility type player to the roster in order to even the odds for them in the World Series, giving them a more decent DH type hitter when they are in the AL park.  So it would be nice if either Nunez or Hwang were able to play that position for us, and give us that option in the World Series.

In addition, another way the Giants could go, should Hwang play well, is to start him at 3B while Nunez then starts in LF over Williamson and Parker.

He is a nice depth add, plus, finally, an Asian signing of a star player (at least in their league).  It will certainly makes things more interesting in the battles for the backup infield bench positions, as well as add some heat to the 3B starting position.   But we don't know how well he will do in the majors, and he wasn't all that great in Korean.  More likely, given the disappointing MLB careers so far of Asian hitters, he'll be ready for his closeup in AAA for us during the 2017 season.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

2016 Giants: September and Final PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of September 2016, as well as final PQS, PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here (unfortunately, they removed the article; this link gets you at least to the PQS definition, read down to middle for details). I wrote on this first in 2006 (wow, 11th year of this!  10th anniversary!) and have compiled their stats on a regular basis, so I'm continuing it this season for continuity and historical comparison (there is the "PQS" label that you can click to see the old posts on this). Regular readers can skip to the section on "Why PQS?".

This is the Quality Start with a sabermetric DIPS twist, and it gets really easy to calculate once you get used to it. I don't think it's the end all or be all, but then nothing really is that. It is, as I like to say, another piece of the puzzle. A dominating start is scored a 4 or 5 and a disaster start is scored a 0 or 1. DOM% is the percentage of starts that are dominating, DIS% is the percentage of starts that are disasters (any start under 5.0 IP is automatically a 0, or disaster).

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Your 2017 Giants: Arbitration Finalized (As Usual)

The Giants once again, under Sabean, was able to avoid the sting of arbitration.  Over his long tenure, only one player has ever taken the Giants to arbitration (he who must not be named, AJP), and mainly because the idiot in charge of arbitration then (and rumored instigator of the trade), Sheriff Ned, low-balled offered (even The Sporting News knew beforehand what the range should be, and he went under it) and AJP smartly was just on the edge of reasonableness, and so the Giants under Sabean lost their one and only time ever in arbitration (though it should be noted that Lincecum and Belt came close to going into arbitration, Lincecum famously sitting outside the meeting place before his agent pulled him away at the last second to secure a deal with Sabean; I believe that Belt traveled to the city but wasn't sitting waiting to go in when he signed).

Per the various news reports (here is Haft and, here are the contracts signed to avoid arbitration:
  • Conor Gillaspie:  $1.4M (estimated $900K by Matt Swartz)
  • George Kontos:  $1.75M (estimated $1.7M)
  • Eduardo Nunez:  $4.2M  (estimated $4.4M)
  • Will Smith:  $2.5M (estimated $2.3M)
ogc thoughts

This closes things out for the Giants, they have their 40 man roster signed up for the 2017 season (well, except for pre-arb guys who will get near-minimum pay; I've assumed similar salaries as last season plus a bump up).  The total payroll is $171.6M, and the total payroll for the CBA is $200.8M, passing the threshold by roughly $5.8M.  Since it is for the third time in three years, a 50% tax on the overage is exacted on the $5.8M, which will cost the Giants $2.9M in tax penalties.

I had already calculated the Giants payroll using Swartz's estimated arbitration eligible salaries, and the Giants ended up paying roughly $500,000 more than estimated.  That's basically the extra that they paid Gillaspie.  Swartz was way off here.

I was surprised that he got that much more from the Giants than estimated, as Swartz has usually been in the ballpark with his estimates.  They must have really appreciated his performance last season.  Not that he wasn't good, but he got a 56% raise.  And thus they, as they have done during the Sabean era, paid Gillaspie more than might have been expected, based on market trends, which Swartz uses in his analysis.

I was originally thinking that this signing does not mean that he will make the roster, much like how Ishikawa getting $1M contract did not mean that he would make our roster either, but given the magnitude of the raise that they gave him, they appear to expect him to perform well again next season.

Perhaps even battle for the starting 3B position, especially since that would work out better for the Giants bench, as Nunez could play more positions (or at least has experience at more, as I've noted before, he hasn't shown OK defense at any position other than LF until he did well at 3B for the Giants in 2016) and be a truer superutility player for the Giants on the bench than Gillaspie could.  However, Nunez probably is our best leadoff hitter based on what he did (and Span didn't do) in 2016.  So it will be interesting what happens here.


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