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 MLB.com), 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.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Sabean Avoiding the Awful

There was an interesting article on Fangraphs recently about "avoiding the awful".  It was about teams (and their GM's) avoiding players with negative WAR (however, he didn't include pitcher's negative WAR would be fair).  The Giants were sixth, and with one random bad game, could have been fifth, as they were only 0.1 more negative than the Orioles.  This covered the 2014-2016 three year period.

This was a follow-up analysis of what the author had done two years ago.  That one covered 2012-2014.  The Giants were 10th in that one.

Unfortunately, he didn't do a table on 2012-2016, which would have combined the data between the two studies/articles.  Knowing that 2014 is double counted, the Giants were 4th when the stats from the two studies were added (I included all the teams in the top 10 in each study to get totals), so they were at worse probably no farther back than 5-6.

Also, he didn't follow up on his note in his first article about the Dodgers getting their new GM, and how they would improve because Friedman did so well in Tampa.  The Dodgers went from near last to near the top, even though it included one year with Colletti.  In spite of his ups and downs with Tampa, it appears that he has been good at avoiding the awful too.

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