Monday, January 15, 2018

Your 2018 Giants: Heavy Lifting Done: McCutchen Trade

As reported all over Twitter (see my timeline for retweets of the details from Pavlovic, Baggarly, and others), the Giants traded Kyle Crick and Bryan McReynolds for Andrew McCutchen.  There was also some cash involved, but the amount has not yet been revealed, but probably soon.

ogc thoughts

This is great news for the most part, though I was sad to lose Crick.  But anytime you trade for a big player like McCutchen, the other team will want some good PR spin, and so I view the cash involved as them upgrading what the Giants would have given them, into Crick and McReynolds.  And with the new emphasis on relief, Crick will be the highlight for the Pirates with McReynolds being the "replacement" for McCutchen, as he plays CF as well.  But this trade, for the Pirates, was really about shedding salary, much like it was with the Gerrit Cole trade that they made and got quantity over quality in the deal.  And they cleared over $10M, probably (cash not yet released, but I don't see it going any lower than that).

I had thought maybe they would trade Strickland in order to clear out some salary as well, plus clear out some logjam in the bullpen, but the trade of Crick clears that out now.  Now the Rule 5 guy, Fernandez, will battle with Law, Okert, Osich, Moronta, and any minor league contracted reliever they sign, for the last bullpen spot, now vacated by Crick.

Giants Are Ready to Compete for Playoffs

I'm excited about the trade and believe that the Giants are done with their moves, mostly, unless they can sign Dyson for CF for the remaining amount of payroll left without going over the CBT penalty threshold (estimated right now around $2-4M).  As I've been saying all winter, I think with bouncebacks by players who underperformed in 2017, we should be competitive.

Using Fangraph data, and their projections, the Giants are projected at 85 wins right now.  If Bumgarner and Cueto were to return to prior form, that should put the Giants up to 88 wins.  And if Melancon is back to his norms, he would push that up to 89 wins.  Add in Duggar in CF, which I think would be an upgrade over Gorkys defensively (based on projections posted before the trade), that should put us up to 90 wins.  That would get us into Wild Card contention range.  And I haven't put in the consequences if Longoria reverts back to prior form after his down 2017 season, which bolsters this projection.

Projected Lineup by FG

With no clear leadoff guy, not sure who will hold that role (Pence?  Panik?), but these are the hitters in our lineup right now, per FG:
  • C - Posey:  .297/.375/.458/.833, .354 wOBA
  • 1B - Belt:  .260/.366/.463/.829, .355 wOBA
  • 2B - Panik:  .279/.348/.413/.761, .328 wOBA
  • 3B - Longoria:  .267/.324/.412/.736, .330 wOBA
  • SS - Crawford:  .257/.325/.412/.737, .315 wOBA
  • LF - Pence:  .264/.326/.432/.758, .324 wOBA
  • CF - Gorkys/Duggar:  .250/.319/.349/.668, .293 wOBA
  • RF - McCutchen:  .282/.376/.484/.860, .365 wOBA
  • BC - Hundley:  .240/.288/.393/.681, .290 wOBA
  • UT - Sandoval:  .249/.300/.397/.697, .300 wOBA
That's a pretty strong lineup 1-8, with the weakpoints by OPS being Longiria, Crawford, and CF.  Based on last year, I can see Pence and Panik sharing leadoff duties, based on SP handedness.  To make it easy, maybe they swap places, so they are 1st and 2nd in any lineup.

So:  Pence/Panik, Panik/Pence, Posey (R), McCutchen (R), Belt (L), Longoria (R), Crawford (L), CF (L/R).   That's a pretty good lineup, to my eyes.   And the lineup calculator agrees, sizing this lineup out to be scoring 4.64 runs scored per game.  With the projected pitching performances at 4.29 runs allowed per game, that pus the Giants at 87 wins.

Duggar Starting CF

I believe the Giants are mostly done here, unless they can fit Dyson under their remaining budget.  Still, I don't expect any more signings or trades, unless they are clearing out salary, which is now pretty much limited to Pence (which I feel is unlikely, the Giants generally keep their vets to the bitter end) or one of the relievers.  But I don't think anyone else will be traded nor will the Giants sign Jarrod Dyson, as good defensively he is, as they generally like to leave around $5M payroll for mid-season trades and pickups.

Given that, I see Duggar and Gorkys battling for starting CF, and given the edict about improving OF defense, that basically means Duggar because, while Gorkys was rated negatively in CF defense last season, the scouting report on Duggar from BA last season was:  "Thanks to plenty of extra work, Duggar turned himself into a potentially above average defender in center with lots of range thanks to his plus speed.  This and his plus arm will be essential if he is to man San Francisco's spacious right field."  Wrenzie, of Giant Prospective, wrote in his very recent 2018 primer on prospects:
Duggar still fits that mold of a center fielder with tremendous range, plus or better arm for the position and the instincts to make spectacular plays and offensively, he got the tools to become a solid leadoff hitter with the speed and patience fit for the position. In the Fall League, he has shown a better knack for stealing bases compared to previous years and has shown a solid eye at the plate and his ability to hit.   
He looks like a future leadoff guy, but for now, all we really need from him is great defense in CF, which also helps to cover McCutchen in LF and Pence in RF, as necessary, plus to get to deep Triples Alley fly balls, as the CF would be the 8th hitter most probably (unless Bochy puts Crawford back there again;  but I think they would rather let Duggar be the secondary leadoff hitter by batting 8th). 

Overall Assessment

The Giants front office has done well in resetting the team, as Sabean called it.  While the trade of Moore was shocking, I think that was more for the removal of the contract than anything about Moore, as well as the emergence of Stratton (per my post on him earlier) as a good replacement.  As I've shown over the years, the Giants rotation can survive a rocky #5 starter situation if they have solid rotation 1 to 4.  And with Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija, and what Stratton has tantalizingly shown in his last 9 starts of 2017, that looks like a solid rotation, no matter what happens with #5.  And we have good prospects there with Blach, Beede, and Suarez battling for that spot.  I would not be surprised if Suarez wins the #5 spot, in order to see what he can do, with Blach being the long reliever  I would not be surprised if Beede wins it either.

The lineup now looks rock solid.  Still not a lot of home run hitting, but for the Giants, they don't really need the extreme power (not that there's anything wrong with that) that others have advocated forcefully for them, as the studies I've seen about homeruns in offenses, there is very little connection between doing well in the playoffs and hitting more homers.  What's better is that they now have 7 hitters who should be OK to good, with McCutchen, Posey, and Belt being pretty good, and if Longoria can return to his prior goodness, that gives us four. 

In addition, if Duggar (or Dyson) are in CF, the Giants look good in the outfield, as while Pence is a little below average in RF, he should be better in LF, and McCutchen was above average in RF in limited play there in 2017, while negative in CF.  Dyson is a plus plus defender in CF, and Duggar, at worse, should be average, which would be a huge improvement over 2017's Span and Gorkys production.   And, so, overall, probably positive, which adds on to great infield defense with Belt, Panik, Longoria, and Crawford, plus great defense at catcher from Posey.

The bullpen also looks pretty good with Melancon, Dyson, Smith, Strickland, Gearrin, with probably Blach as long relief, and Fernandez, Law, Okert, Osich, Moronta, Slania, plus minor league free agent relievers also battling for those last two spots.   That's a strong bullpen, and they will probably find someone good among those competitors for the position.  Law has been good before, and like Wilson, struggled some in the majors, but was so good in the minors that I believe that he will figure things out and be good up here as well.  I think Okert will likely figure things out soon as well, and could force out Strickland or Gearrin in 2019.  Though, with options available for those two, barring a disaster spring, Fernandez probably will get that last spot on opening day, just to see what he can do.

I think the talk about improving the bullpen was more talk than action because, even when they said that, how could they expect to upgrade CF defense, 3B, corner OF, as well as relief with the amount of payroll they had before reaching the CBT penalty?  They have now been able to fill out 3B and corner OF, and should have a much better defensive CF. 

That was a sly move/spin there because, since Span and Gorkys was so bad there, they could add McCutchen in CF and still call it an improvement, for while he was bad in CF, he wasn't as bad as Span and Gorkys.  And, again, in a sly move/spin, because we had so many bad relievers in 2017 taking up innings, just having Melancon and Smith back, plus Dyson for the whole season, would be an improvement over what we got in 2017.

Overall, the Giants look ready to compete for the playoffs in 2018, again, barring horrendous and numerous injuries.  They seem to cycle back and forth, even and odd, in terms of injuries, so we'll see.  I know others will disagree, but I think this is one of the strongest rosters they have had during this golden era, as we never really had that good an offense, up and down, as we do now, and the starting rotation is potentially as good as some of the golden era rotations, though that is yet to be seen, it depends on how Cueto, Samardzija, and Stratton turn out.  But if they turn out as expected, or better, then the Giants are in really good shape and will shock many.  


  1. The team looks good, but they seem to have only one 300 hitter in Posey. Not sure it was the wisest decision to go after Longoria at third, when we already had Arroyo and Sandoval dirt cheap. Would have preferred going after 2 outfielders of quality. McCutcheon being on of them. May have preferred McCutcheon and Cain, over getting Longoria. We would lose two potential prospects for Cain, but we lost Arroyo in the Longoria deal. Either way though, I think the 2018 version of the giants, barring injuries, should win about 20 or so more games than last year. Duffy and Arroyo could make up the left side of Tampa's infield this year.

    1. The key is not .300 hitters but how many guys above .325 OBP (5; plus one at .325 and one at .324) and above .423 SLG (4), which are the NL averages for 2017. Lots of above average hitters. Probably even better if we look at it by lineup positions.

      Arroyo and Sandoval were dirt cheap, but Longoria was about 3-4 wins above what we got from them last season, and that included Nunez's good hitting when he was playing 3B. And their projections were not good.

      As much as I liked Arroyo (and we lost two other prospects with him), Cain has been an Angel Pagn type of player, missing significant games during his career, except, you guessed it, this season, his free agent season, otherwise, he has averaged 125 games played in the prior 3 seasons. And next season is his 32 YO season.

      For that, Cain is projected to get $17.5M per year for 4 years, or $70M. Meanwhile, Longoria, while signed for 5 years, because the Rays included about $14M, plus took on Span's contract, we end up paying Longoria about $60M or $12M per season. That's roughly 1 WAR production per year to get our money back, while Cain is priced at 1.5 WAR per season. Odds of a 30+ YO generating 1 WAR greater than that he get 1.5 WAR, plus, Cain is injured more often.

      Meanwhile. while I like Arroyo and Sandoval, I think I like Duggar in CF more than I do them at 3B, based on what I've read about him and the changes he has made to his swing, his defense, his ability to steal. Getting Cain blocks not just Duggar, but Reynolds as well. As much as it hurts to lose Reynolds, we had Duggar now and Ramos sooner or later, so he was expendable, and his value is probably at its high now because he seems capable still of playing CF; some I read seem to indicate that he might not work out in CF in the future.

      And basically the two picks are equivalent of Arroyo, and if the Giants deemed him tradeable, I don't have a lot of hope that he'll be a good player, just a nice player, which is nice, but instead we get two more lottery tickets with some better (though still low) odds of becoming good.

  2. Rosenthal reports $2.5M cash:

    So the Giants probably have $3-5M left in their budget before going into the penalty fee range. They can use that to sign a FA now, or to make a mid-season trade.

  3. One common comment I've seen from experts (not from Baggarly though!) is that the Giants are clearly going for it now. If these people would have been paying attention to the Giants from the moment they started their post season press conference, Evans and especially Sabean has said all along that the Giants are NOT rebuilding, that they are re-setting.

    This is why I feel that commentary should really only be done by team specific analysts who pay attention to all the details of that team (or is willing to research that detail when the time comes).

    Hence why I take with a big grain of salt when people talk about Longoria being in a decline for certain, when it was reported that he had an injury early int he season that affected him (I think I caught that in a comment Duffy made about Longoria once he was traded to the Giants) and his hitting, early on. He recovered and hit well in the middle, before fading at the end.

    1. Baggarly also noted that McCutchen could earn the Giants a draft pick, because he's a free agent after the 2018 season, and if the QO him, then they could get a pick.

      However, the way the Giants have generally played their vets, if he hits and fields as well as expected, and his .282/.376/.484/.860, .365 wOBA is elite, they have often signed such players.

      And especially if they get below the threshold in 2018, if they go over for 2019 by signing someone big, like a Bryce Harper or Clayton Kershaw (very most probably never happens, but he will be opting out most likely), and with Pence most probably not being retained unless he signs for a low contract (in the $6-8M range, say), and especially if instead they retain McCutchen and sign a Harper or similar big money free agent.

      So don't quite count on that draft pick yet. Though, if the hands are off the financial accelerator after 2018, I would hope the Giants will buy as many of the supplemental draft picks that bottom market teams have been receiving that are tradeable.

      With the #2 pick overall, and better picks across the whole draft, as a result, and the financial handcuffs being taken off, I think now is the time for the team to make the big push to find the NextGen leaders via the draft.

  4. At this point I am not sure how one can actually project Dugger as a better major leaguer than Arroyo. It could happen that way, but does the plate in Arroyo's hand downgrade his former projections that much? The loss of Pagan last year actually hurt the giants. They let him go, and really did not have a viable replacement. Cain is however, a much better fielder than Pagan. I do not know what Pagan did to fall out of favor with MLB, but he was a solid player. Two years ago the giants were willing to go 95 million to Sandoval. Then he went to Boston and apparently injured his shoulder. He had not been the same. But there is a chance he could be back to being close to his old performance. Nevertheless, the combined salary of Sandoval and Arroyo for 2018 for the giants was negligable. Hopefully it will all work out. I am looking forward to a very competitive year, if the giants remain healthy.

    1. I don't think it is a matter of Duggar as being a "better" major leaguer than Arroyo, but whether Duggar is close enough to being a major leaguer that fits the needs of the Giants.

      With Longoria, Arroyo became expendable. I would say, similarly, with Duggar and Ramos, Reynolds became expendable.

      The Giants need a huge defensive upgrade in CF, particularly because there are two older fidlers in the corners. Even a league average fielder would be a huge improvement because Span and Gorkys, in fact, I would submit that I would prefer to dump Gorkys and pick up a defensive CF, as we now have bats in Tomlinson and Sandoval, and perhaps Slater as 4th OF, which would afford us the chance to have a better defensive CF ont the bench. As I noted before, I would have preferred them picking up a defensive CF with the Rule 5 pick (and perhaps the one they wanted was selected by Detroit; we'll never know now), but what's done is done.

      Duggar's scouting reports, from BA to Wrenzie, gives me confidence that he's at least league average and the hope that MLB experience will help his bat, much like it did Crawford and Belt, is my hope. But, yeah, it's a risk. But with him batting 8th most probably, I don't think it is a huge risk to the offense. As I noted above, even with his low .653 OPS projection, the offense still hums at 4.6 runs scored per game with the full lineup.

      I had no problem with replacing Pagan with our prospects. Adding another vet would have pushed the Giants that much closer to much more onerous CBT penalties. We need to see what we got at some point.

      It was a sound plan, in my mind, because both Parker and Williamson has been showing signs that they can play in the majors. Both their 2016 were decent with the expectation that additional playing time would catapult one or both into starting roles. Unfortunately injuries took out both, but then Slater stepped up and did very well, and then got injured as well.

      And who is to say that getting a vet, especially if we get one who is not that expensive, would not have led us to an injury, and we have the same issues with the young players still, anyway?

      So I don't think that is a fair complaint about replacing Pagan.

      Pagan's problem was that he was a prima donna, which works when he plays a full season, but when he prides himself on going all out at the expense of injuring himself every year and taking our offense down a huge notch because the leadoff hitter is such a key component of the lineup. I loved Bonds because he played within his abilities (which was immense anyway) and would not risk his body because he knew his team needed him. I would bet that nobody wanted him last season because he wanted to get back into CF because of his pride, and he wanted to be a starter. A solid player is useless if you can only count on him around 100-120 games per season.

      Not sure why you bring up Cain now vs. Pagan. Cain was not available as a free agent last season and would have cost an arm and a leg in prospects to acquire in trade. Cain now would cost money and draft picks, and other penalties. I prefer to not go down that path given our good draft, it would be like going through the horrible 2017 and punting away the benefits of being that bad.

    2. You seem to be under the impression that the $95M offer was real. It was not, it was a ploy by the Giants to force the Red Sox to pay Sandoval their max that they were willing to pay.

      It was already pretty clear even during the victory parade that Sandoval was not coming back. He was reported to say pretty disparaging things and that he's not coming back. Even before that parade, he was already saying things that gave the impression that he was not happy with his situation with the Giants, in the 1-2 years prior to that free agent season. I documented all the issues back then, you may have forgotten, but I didn't. So I'm 95-99% sure that the Giants were aware of his problems with the team and decided to push the bidding in order to force the Red Sox to pay up to get Sandoval at a higher price. My impression back then was that the Giants would meet the Red Sox's offers, never beat it, and Sandoval would go back and ask the Red Sox to beat it, until they stopped at $95M, at which point he signed.

      After all the acrimonious statements that Sandoval said after he signed plus the disrespect he showed the team by taking that last out of the 2014 season and keeping it for himself (he apparently either sold it to a private collector or destroyed it out of spite afterward, because that was one of the questions he got after he rejoined the Giants, and the answer the beat writers provided was that the Giants can forget about getting that ball back. You apparently read my blog a lot, so I don't understand why you are still under the impression that he would have signed with us for $95M, he wasn't coming back under any circumstance, much like Kent, and I wrote at least a couple of posts on this. Though I suppose you may disagree.

      So I was as shocked as anyone that Sandoval returned. I assume he finally grew up and realized that what he had here was great, and now accepts a lower role, just to have his fun again. Unlike Pagan, who wanted a starting role. And a lot of money.

      What happened in Boston is that Sandoval, still the man-child that his handlers enabled, let himself go and ate his way into numerous injuries. His shoulder might be the injury but I have no doubt that his being horribly out of shape was the underlying issue. David Ortiz must still be incensed today at Pablo. He cost them and is still costing them, they still have two years on that horrendous contract. I can only laugh at them, as I knew that if he had signed with us at a more market level deal, down in the $12-15M range (given his diminished hitting and fielding, even at that point), he probably would have worked hard to stay in productive shape. But that's water under the bridge for most, including me.

      For me, he's cheap, he's not disruptive, he's cooperative, he's accepting of a lesser role, at least so far publicly.

      I agree that there's a chance that he's close to being a better version of himself. And I personally would have been OK with that option, starting him, which I wrote about. But Longoria is a much better option and provides a huge lift to our offense AND defense today and probably 2019, then we have to cross our fingers, particularly since he's a 3B, where players generally wear out sooner (hence why there are so much less 3B in the Hall of Fame, I believe).

    3. Longoria is a much better option than Sandoval/Arroyo in the 2018-19 timeframe, and they basically got him for nothing for 2018-2019 because Span's salary covers most of Longoria's 2018 salary and the money the Rays sent covers Longoria's 2019 salary, so one could say that he would actually cost less than what we would have paid Sandoval/Arroyo in 2018-19.

      But I would focus on the fact that he's expected to provide good offense for our offensively lacking team and great defense for our great defensive infield, probably making it a top fielding group, especially if Panik can get back to 2016 levels (he was negative in 2017 for some reason). I'm not sure why you are upset about this, given your reaction to Pagan, if Sandoval and Arroyo failed in 2018, given your Pagan reaction, you would have gotten mad at the Giants for not getting a vet replacement.

      The Giants got a great replacement, outdoing what Nunez provided, greatly upgrading what we got from 3B, and at a very economical cost in terms of money and prospects. Arroyo was extraneous with Longoria, given their decision to keep with Panik at 2B, and Crawford signed long-term.

      Plus, if Sandoval is happy playing on the bench for us, he'll be a huge asset for us if his bat returns to any resemblance of his former self as a bench player for us, and DH in the World Series, if we reach that far. And a great replacement then when Bochy needs to sit Longoria or Belt, or, if worse, an injury.

      No team can combat a lot of injuries to their lineup or starting rotation, and especially to key hitters and pitchers. We lost Belt and Nunez, plus got nothing from LF, due to injuries, and Posey lack of power in the second half again. We lost Bumgarner, Cueto, Moore, and Cain never came back, plus lost Melancon and Smith, and never got another workable loogy, if that is anything we need in 2018, I would say that, so I should be adding DJ Snelton as a possible and probable black horse candidate for making the bullpen, given his great 2017 season and AFL showing.

      The Giants will roll the dice again in 2018, and hopefully not so many of them will fall to the wayside.

  5. Gawd I luv this blog! Think you're right -- signing another free agent like Cain would only block Duggar, Slater and even Ramos' development. Not to mention what they're going to do with Parker, who arguably still deserves a little more of a look after so many injuries. Couldn't he still make a contribution?

    1. Thanks for pointing him out, since I didn't cover him much. Parker can still make contributions, and I still believe in his bat and defense, but there's crunch in the roster, and I think he's out of options.

      His "problem", from my view, is that Duggar is a lefty and he obviously can't platoon with Parker then, and hence my mention of Slater, who at least played some CF. Williamson also might contribute as well, but has not hit as well as Slater and Slater was OK defensively in the OF playing all the positions.

      But if we go with Pence in LF, Duggar in CF, and McCutchen in RF, that means only two OF bench spots and four guys who look legit enough to take a spot. Gorkys looks like the guy for one spot for them, as he played the three positions. But as I noted, he was negative last year, though I just checked and he was pretty good per UZR, which measures range more than fielding, which DRS and Baseball-Reference uses, and he just sucked there. And given that he is older and don't project to be much better as a hitter than Parker, Williamson, or Slater, perhaps it's time to let him go. I guess I'm saying it's time for him to go.

      That would leave one spot for Parker, and Williamson and Slater could battle for the other position, but at this point, Slater probably is better served getting to start in AAA in 2018, since he still has options, and get ready to compete with Shaw for starting LF in 2019, whereas both Parker and Williamson are getting close to losing all their options, if not already, as both each have 3 years in the majors, and so I think they are out of options.

      And, of course, the Giants will sign a minor league contract with an old vet OF, as well, just to provide some competition, though perhaps Gorkys is that competition. We'll see, but I would bet on some vet signed, like Ruggiano last season.

    2. Oh, and thanks, I try to keep myself and others who care informed.

      Of course, I thought we would do well last season, but there's no way to forecast that we would lose so many players and/or good performances in one season, and be forced to use so many young and/or unproductive players, which led to our poor record.

      At least this year, we should have at least four good hitters available at any time, with seven hopefully to pick from, and Bochy would just rotate the ones who are scuffling to the bottom of the order, as he normally does. Getting another plus hitter in McCutchen helps a lot, given that we only had two in Posey and Belt, and if Longoria can get back to his 2016 form, that would give us four good hitters. This could be our best lineup during this golden period.

      But we need Cueto to return to prior form, and Samardzija to take the next step, in order to be able to safely navigate the pitching rotation. I feel good that Stratton can at least take the Zito role of average-ish starter in the rotation, with hopes of better, and that Bumgarner will be same, if not better, he seems the type to want to outdo what he did before because he's embarrassed about his mistake last season. If he and Cueto can be co-aces as in 2016, then Samardzija really only needs to be his normal self for the rotation to hum along with victories.

      It also helps that the offense looks like it will be potent, that will help with any issues we have with the pitching staff.

  6. I just realized that I've been mistaking one penalty for another. The Giants could go over the CBT threshold and not cost us any draft picks right now, it would be signing a QO free agent like Cain that would trigger that. Thus, they should (and apparently are) considering signing Jarrod Dyson, whom I had expressed interest in an earlier post.

    I would love to get him, as he is superlative defensively in the OF, including CF, and good hitter against RHP, making him an excellent platoon partner.

    If the Giants are going for it, Dyson would be a great pickup (he's been average 2+ WAR for a number of seasons now, even though he don't play full seasons) for the money (projected money is less than 1 WAR per season).

    We could thus be minimally into the penalty (which means no chasing big free agents after 2018), as Baggarly recently recommended they do by signing Dyson, leaving Duggar to start CF in AAA and work on his hitting, and depending on when he is ready for the majors, he could come up mid-2018 or starting of 2019, if ready, and Dyson would hold the fort until then.

    When Duggar is ready, Dyson would become a rover who would spell Pence and McCutchen when a tough RHP is starting, and be the 4th OF. I just found out that Parker has no options but Williamson does have one left, and thus adding Duggar at any point in 2018 would not mean one of them must be released, though that could happen if the Giants decide Parker is no longer the better bench player.

    In addition, Dyson would be a great backup starting corner OF, should Pence or McCutchen be out injured for an extended time, as his defense would help make up for his lack of offense, particularly when he's batting against RHP, which he hits pretty well.

    And once we are into the penalty, the Giants should start kicking the tires on an elite starting pitcher that they like, whether Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, perhaps Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn, in the next tier (though I would be fine just sticking with Darvish and Arrieta, both Cobb and Lynn have risky blemishes, heck, even Arrieta is a big risk given how poorly he did last season). No use mucking about in the middle, as I think Blach, Beede or Suarez could do just as well, and those in the middle still cost $10M+. They apparently are tied to signing Scott Feldman, I've read. I would have loved to have gotten Chatwood, but he was signed long ago.

  7. Span vs McCutchen over the past two years (all comments only include players with enough ABs to qualify):

    Span UZR/150: -9.3 (Bad)
    McCutchen: -19.1 (Worst in MLB)
    Span has shown more range in this advanced defensive metric.

    Span's Range Rating: -11.1 (limited range)
    McCutchen's RR: -24.6 (worst in MLB

    Span FanGraphs Defensive Rating: -11.8 (Bad)
    McCutchen: -19.8 (Worst in MLB)
    Span is better in this advanced defensive metric.

    Span DRS: -34 DRS (bad)
    McCutchen: -44 DRS (Worst in MLB)
    Span is better in this advanced defensive metric.

    Span OOZ plays: 132 in 2230.2 innings. (Mediocre)
    McCutchen: 132 in 2506.1 innings. (Even more mediocre)
    Span is better in this advanced defensive metric.

    Span's Error Rating: +1.4 (makes fewer errors than average)
    McCutchen's" -0.4 (makes slightly more than average)

    And his power... Sorry, it doesn't make up for it. His Statcast profile is virtually identical to Posey's. His OPS at AT&T has been 11% worse than his career. His HRs/AB is 1 in 40 at AT&T.

    In short, he's ****ing Denard Span, but worse defensively for a modest offensive upgrade.

    And we traded away our 4th best prospect and Crick who has two legitimate wipe-out pitches and an excellent fastball and finally learned how to control his great stuff.

    Anyway you slice it, this is a bad trade. We gave up way to much for a player who, at 31, is clearly on the downside of his career.

    1. Luckily, McCutchen is not playing CF, he's playing RF, and he was actually OK per BR and FG regarding his play there defensively, extreme SSS since only 13 games.

      Also, any defensive analysis of the two really need to focus only on 2017 and not include 2016 because McCutchen had a huge problem with the Pirates positioning in 2016, which was fixed in 2017 (plus the Giants seem to be good at positioning, else how could they get a positive defensive rating for Burrell!), and Span was just horrendous last season. Not that this necessarily makes McCutchen better than Span, but for the sake of apples with apples.

      And you mention power, as if that was McCutchen's only value. And the caveat anytime one wants to quote hitting at any park is that he was facing the Giants best pitchers over those years there, and the Giants have been acknowledged by Fangraphs of somehow suppressing HR rates on flyballs, as a pitching staff.

      And you neglected to mention that he hit .275/.367/.451/.818 at AT&T, with a 174 ISO, which is great power to have, anywhere. If he hits that in AT&T next season, I would take that.

      And one stat I found when people complained about how poorly he will hit at home, was that he hit 19 homers on the road last season. He won't play as much at Great American Ballpark (Reds) or MIller (Brewers) anymore, but he will now get 9-10 games at Petco, where he hit 4 homers in 13 PA in 2017 (seems to be making up for lost time, as he was not that great there before, I'll admit). Still, he has averaged 15 homers on the road over the past few years, and again, I would take that.

      In addition, hitters have a learning curve learning to hit in AT&T, and his hitting line the past four seasons there was .311/.340/.578/.918. Again, I would take that, lots of different ways to show power in AT&T.

    2. How about projections? I've seen McCutchen projected at 2.5-3.0 WAR (3.0 WAR by ZiPS, which accounts for park and playing position and defense), where Span is projected at 0.6 WAR by Steamer, and FG had him at 1.2 WAR in 2017. He's barely above replacement level per FG, whereas McCutchen is valued at an All-Star level 3.0 WAR.

      However, BR had Span at -1.1 WAR in 2017, showing the variance, even among industry leaders on how to measure value, but if he drops a similar amount, that means BR would "project" him at -1.6 WAR in 2018. And BR had McCutchen at 2.5 WAR in 2017, or +3.6 WAR better than Span. There is no way in heck that they are the same f-ing player.

      In addition, BR uses DRS (which I prefer over UZR, which is only about range), and Span's dWAR there was -2.4 WAR. McCutchen was bad, but only -1.1 WAR per BR.

      The difference between FG and BR is that while FG calculate value as to what SHOULD be happening, BR calculates value as to what ACTUALLY happened. While I respect what FG does, and understand what they are doing, I prefer BR because there are things FG accounts for that frustrates me.

      For biggest example, as long as FG cannot discern which pitchers are capable of maintaining a lower BABIP (or alternatively, incapable of maintaining the mean BABIP), they are missing very good pitchers that teams should want. I can't follow a method that misses the good to great pitchers that are out there.

      Or how about the latest controversy about defensive spectrum. FG's whole system is about using the spectrum to estimate how defense is affected by moving up and down the spectrum. But a recent free article on BP by Russell Carleton on the problems of that methodology throws that whole system into question. And I'll admit that might affect BR too, but again, brings up another complaint by me about how WAR tries to value defense, but we have no idea what we should be measuring yet, hence why I like to look at different ways of measuring value, in hopes of getting to a middle area.

      Still, whatever method you are looking at, McCutchen is the better player. You are focused too much on the stats you quote above, which is why I understand your anger. But neglected to address some reasons why those numbers are not comparable. And you really didn't look at all the available offensive stats and focused solely on the notion that AT&T depresses power.

      And not all hitters are depresssed. Pence averaged 24 homers up to joining the Giants,. In his first full 3 seasons with us, he basically averaged 24-25 HR per season (I prorated that third season since he missed so much). Or another way to look at it: he had SLG of .465 before and .466 for the three seasons.

    3. We can argue endlessly about whether too much has been traded for too little.

      Here is what I see. Unless a reliever is an elite setup or closer, they don't accumulate a lot of WAR, taking one measure of worth. Fangraphs has good but not top relievers like Strickland at around 0.5 WAR, so 6 years of Crick would equal the 3.0 WAR McCutchen is expected to produce. Then Reynolds is the wild card lottery ticket that may or may not hit.

      Reynolds might be our 4th top prospect (had not looked at his stats yet, but I don't think all agree), but I would not say that he's all that sure a thing to make the majors, he's promising but not a sure thing to even make the majors, let alone produce value. As one person noted, could be the next Gary Brown (except he said that about Duggar... :^). As usual, a top Giants prospect does not mean he's going to make a dent in the majors.

      McCutchen looks like he's a 3.0 WAR type player still, and maybe the Giants do their Giants thing, and sign him to a contract and we would get those WAR production too. That could happen too. But maybe he's a Beltran...

      Of course, if you think Crick is really good, then that value goes up (and it appears that you do). As much as I like Crick, his walk rate was rather unwieldy at, what, 4.7 BB/9? That's not a pitcher under control, and meanwhile he's not even striking out 9.0 BB/9 or the 10-12 K/9 that would justify that high walk rate. Maybe he improves, but there's no guarantee that will happen, I would point to all the young relievers over the years who come up, does great that first season then disappears. While I was excited to see what Crick does, he's no sure thing either.

    4. I posted this in response to MosesZD on DrB:

      That was the projection right after the trade, 85 games, but then it started going down for some reason (apparently the projections for players changed in the days afterward; ZiPS came out around the same time, perhaps they switched from Steamer to ZiPS or blended the two, but not sure at all what they do). It was down to 83.4 Wins when I last checked.

      Barring significant injuries (which seem to strike the Giants in odd years), the Giants are better than mediocre, competitive for the last WC spot. If Bumgarner, Cueto, Melancon, and Smith can return to pre-injury production, that should get the Giants into competitive for the first WC spot with the Cards. I'm also expecting a bump up from Strickland, for some reason he is projected at 0.3 fWAR but has produced 0.8 for the past three seasons. I feel that these are likely.

      While I share MosesZD disdain for the mediocre brand of baseball exemplified in my youth from 1973 to 1986, and will always be on the lookout for any return to that, I don't think the Giants are at that stage at this moment.

      And if they can strike with their #2 pick in this year's draft, coupled with Heliot fulfilling the potential seen for him, I think the Giants can transition nicely to the 2020's and stay competitive, with Bumgarner as the transitional leader, backed by the vet Posey, and supported by the (current) NextGen Giants of Stratton, Duggar, Shaw, Beede, Suarez, Slater, Garcia, Garrett Williams, Gonzalez.

  8. Wherever I go, from blog to blog, I find Moses lamenting like Cassandra about this trade. Cassandra told the awful truth and was always disbelieved. Moses, I think, isn’t telling the truth, because he’s comparing McCutchen’s stats as a center fielder with Span’s, and we now know that McC is not going to play CF for the Giants. He therefore SHOULD be disbelieved. If McC gives us another Posey offensively, I will be pretty happy; and the spray chart of his 2017 hits mapped against AT&T field, not to mention his historical OPS record in NL West ballparks, suggests that he will supply a good bit of offensive firepower. ZIPS estimates him as worth about 3 WAR as a Giant in 2018.

    The merits of a rental, and the value to the Giants of Crick and Reynolds, are of course debatable, as are the intangibles that McC will bring the team, intangibles much admired by Baggarly and the Merc beat writer. Here we move away from facts, and I am inclined to trust the speculations of the Giants’ FO over Moses’s or my own.

  9. Just realized something: all projections of Duggar has to be skewed negatively. This is because he's made changes that he's still working on.

    For example, this got me to realize this, but Steamer currently projects him to have a poor stolen bases percentage, like 6 of 10. But we know that he's been working on it with roving instructor Vince Coleman, and did really well in the AFL, and was 10 of 12 in 2017, before that. Great numbers like that would add value, while his poor stats before would subtract value, and the projections are apparently based on his poor stats.

    The same has to hold for his hitting. It was recently revealed on The Athletic in an interview that he went from swinging in a V-pattern (basically chopping at the ball to get grounders, a common technique taught to speedsters) to batting like major leaguers mostly do, which is in line with what Ted Williams taught in his Science of Hitting book. On top of that, his 2017 stats were depressed because he had to play himself into shape, as well as incorporate his batting changes, to start the season, as he missed a lot of time because of his injury in spring training.

    And there are no advanced defensive stats in the minors, but most eye-ball tests I've read states that he's a good fielding CF. BA noted before the 2017 season that "thanks to plenty of extra work, Duggar turned himself into a potentially above-average defender in center with lots of range thanks to his plus speed. That and his plus arm will be essential..." Minor League Baseball Analyst noted, "Can be very good CF defender with plus arm." Wrenzie noted, "Duggar still fits that mold of a center fielder with tremendous range, plus or better arm for the position and the instincts to make spectacular plays and offensively, he got the tools to become a solid leadoff hitter with the speed and patience fit for the position." However, I don't see very good defensive valuations for him (not knock on them, can't do great projections with data available; my point is that they are probably undervaluing his defensive value because there is currently no way to project that from the minors to the majors).

    The projections I've seen has Duggar at around 0.5 WAR, but with improved SB%, better hitting, and better defense, he could be at least 1.0 WAR or more. Given that the 85 WAR projection assumes nothing much from CF, that could get us to 86 wins.

    Right now, I would be fine if Duggar starts, I would be fine if the Giants can fit Jarrod Dyson into our budget without going over (or over by a little bit) because the setting of the payroll is based on exactly what the team paid in 2018, and so while most analysis assumes 100% of the salary, the Giants could, if things go bad for any reason, trade off salary in order to get back under.

    In fact, now that I'm realizing that, my expectations now is that they will go over the threshold this off-season, with a plan to trade off someone (probably Samardzija, though Melancon could be the one too, since we have Sam Dyson, assuming both are doing well, and Cueto would not surprise me either) to clear payroll and get it back under.

    However, I do not expect the Giants to sign a QO free agent, even though the rumors exist, I think that has been more of a nudge to the Pirates to get moving and make the trade already. But I still have some fear of hearing the Giants signed Cain to a contract.

    1. I saw one commenter note that the value of the second rounder and fifth rounder is not that much, and while that is true (I first wrote about this long time ago when the Giants punted the Tucker pick), you are still giving up a lottery ticket that might return to you a good player. The second round pick is roughly what a supplemental first rounder used to be (I think I saw somewhere that it is in the low 40's), and Mike Stanton (now Giancarlo) was picked up in the supplemental first round, for example. But to that person's point, generally, that don't happen very frequently, maybe 1 out of 20 picks (which is the point I made with the Tucker pick, the Royals got nothing with that pick, and neither did the teams around that pick).

      But at this point of the Giants competitive lifecycle, they need to collect all the lottery tickets that they can get. Plus, with all the talk about Duggar being the future CF, it don't make sense to sign Cain then to a 3-4 year contract and block out Duggar, it would make more sense to sign Jarrod Dyson to a 1-2 year contract or trade for Hamilton who they would control for 2 years but could trade next season, if necessary.

  10. No one has mentioned, ogc, that a good reason for the Giants to reset the CBT penalty might be that they expect a new contract for Bumgarner to be very expensive. They don’t want to pay 50% penalty on an overage. Do you have an idea if this is likely to be the issue in their minds rather than their contemplating a monster offer for Harper, say, next year? Is the CBT in fact due to expire soon, as I’ve read? In short, can you throw any light on this for me? If Bumgarner is on their minds, then even inching over the line for J. Dyson would be a bad idea.

    1. That is an interesting angle that I have not seen yet. Baggarly on The Athletic wrote a whole article about the Giants and the CBT (he even mentioned Bumgarner's expected megadeal, but only in context of how high the committed money would be, not implications related to CBT; if anyone has not taken the plunge yet, I would recommend subscribing to get access to Baggarly, as well as Eno Sarris' incomparable analytics, plus I've been enjoying the articles on the Niners and Warriors, as well, as they get into the nitty gritty details of how plays work, and other insider type of info, I've greatly enjoyed it and plan on re-subscribing already, when my annual is up).

      And that article mentions that the CBT sunsets after 2021 season. Thus there are only penalties after the 2018, 2019, and 2020 seasons. So the thinking by the big boys is that by getting under in 2018, they would reset the escalating penalties so that when they go large after a Harper or whomever, in the 2018 off-season, they only get penalized at the one-time offender rate for the 2019 season. Then if they do it again in 2020, they are only a repeat offender, and then no more tax.

      Now, whether Bumgarner is on their mind, I don't know. According to what one person told me (when I suggested that maybe we could extend Pence at lower salary to get a lower CBT AAV), the Giants could extend Bumgarner's current contract, which would help to keep his CBT figure low, so perhaps the CBT threshold won't matter as much in Bumgarner's case, if they extend it into a mega-deal.

      But even if they don't do that, the megadeal would start in 2020, as his last option is in 2019, so there would only be one year of severe taxation. But if they want to avoid the big taxes, then what you say here would make sense.

      I'll have to think more on this, but I got to go....

  11. I've been posting a lot of comments on this post at Fangraphs:

    I'll try to cut and paste some of the better ones, if I have time, else you can go there and search on my handle.

    1. First, it is not sure that there is even remaining money to sign Dyson and stay under the CBT threshold. I’ve seen one beat writer say they only have the money that Pittsburgh paid, another say $4M.

      I’m assuming that is why they haven’t signed Dyson yet even though they stated him as their first priority.

      Second, yes, they are legit contenders. Per FG’s Depth Charts, they are in play for the second WC spot. If Bumgarner, Cueto, Melancon return to their pre-injury production, plus they sign Dyson, that would put them in contention for the first WC spot. These moves has got it done, I believe, especially if they can sign Dyson.

      I was going to differ, but I like your lineup with Dyson leading off and Panik 8th. The Giants have 7 legit hitters in the lineup right now, with half of them capable of 800+ OPS, 8 if they sign Dyson. Only caveat is that Dyson is horrible vs. LHP so either he bats 8th vs. LHP, or he platoons with somebody like Slater (RHH) or maybe even Duggar, who is LHH but has hit as well against LHP in minors, as RHP.

      Rotation is Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija, Stratton, and one of Blach, Beede, Suarez, Vet FA they always pick up on a minor league contract. As nicely as Blach did and Beede has the better pedigree, I would not be surprised if Suarez wins the #5 spot.

      The rotation could be great, as great as during the glory years. Cueto should be co-ace again, assuming the trainers figure out a way to toughen up his fingers so they don’t blister and bleed anymore (if not, we need new trainers). Samardzija was great (around 3.4 ERA) in last 12 starts, after apparently trying something new early in the season (see his May-June sprint K/BB, something like 59:1 ratio over 48 IP), then getting comfortable with that change in the last third of the season. Stratton, per MLB StatCast analysis, had one of the best spin rates for his curveball and another pitch, with low xwOBA, and listed him as a breakout pitcher in the mode of Charlie Morton. In his last 9 starts, low-2 ERA. We just need two of them to do well, and along with Bumgarner doing well, have a rotation as strong as the glory years.

      Bullpen is Melancon, Dyson, Smith, Strickland, Guerrin, and one of Law, Okert, Slania, Osich, Moronta, Rule 5 Fernandez, and one of Blach, Beede, Suarez, Vet FA as long relief. I think this abundance allowed the Giants to trade Crick, as they have good replacements, particularly in Law, who has done well before as well.

      Assuming Melancon and Smith returns to prior norms (iffy given Melancon chose non-surgery route for healing his arm), we have five guys with recent history of 2-something ERA’s, plus Law did well before too, if he wins the spot.

      For long relief, one of the beat writers said that the Giants liked how Blach can handle both starting and relieving, as well as switching back and forth (some can only start or nothing/do poorly), so they might be leaning that way, though if he does better than the others, he should get the nod for #5.

    2. Outright tanking has been the strategy of choice in the past, and more so in the present. A’s did that under Mack and Finley, then Aldersen/Beane. Braves did that under Cox, who GMed until his draftees were ready, and he took over as manager. Dombrowski perfected this at Montreal, Florida, then Detroit. But this is not a given, many teams were really bad throughout the Naughts (00’s) and did not get a championship (basically all the teams that drafted before the Giants the years they drafted Posey, Pirates, Orioles, Rays, only Royals made it). And, of course, the recent examples of Cubs and Astros.

      I call it the Phoenix Rebuilding Strategy, where you burn up assets of the team via trades (hopefully good ones) and rebuild from the ashes. The draft will bring the great ones you need as your core (hopefully, if you draft right), and the trades will get you the complementary players you need around the stars (again, hopefully). As studies have shown, most teams know what they got, and trade away what they think they are not as good.

    3. Getting under the penalty threshold is the goal, but not required.

      Giants mentioned in their press conference regarding the trade that Dyson is their #1 target, with Jay and I think Jackson as the secondary targets, should they fail with Dyson. But I don’t see how they can fit him under the penalty unless he takes a big cut from the salary he’s projected to get by MLBTR.

      They could decide to go over for now, as they can trade away salary during the season to get back under, so it is not like a Dyson signing would put them way over the threshold. If the season does go south, I can see Cueto and/or Samardzija being the trades, perhaps Melancon as well, or even McCutchen possibly, if they decide he’s not worth keeping beyond the season. But if the season is going well, I’m not sure who they could trade to get under, without hurting their chances of competing.

      Dyson is not a good glove, he is a GREAT glove, he’s been generating 2+ WAR during this career with his defense, and he’s great in all three OF positions. If he could just hit LHP, he would be asking for contracts in Cain’s ballpark. But he’s good for what the Giants need now, someone to (mostly) start in CF until Duggar is ready, who can transition to 4th OF like Blanco was for us, back in the glory years, and in particular, great glove in CF, Span was a black hole last season, his defensive metrics, per any of the advanced metrics had him over -2 Wins, even an average glove would be an upgrade over last season.

    4. However, much like the end of the Bonds era, they are not going all in for it. They have mostly kept their top prospects, in particular, Ramos, Shaw, and Beede.

    5. This is an aspect that I’ve not seen much of, that ,while they don’t have a team of superstars in the lineup, they have a pretty solid lkneup top to bottom, when everyone is in the lineup.

      I totally agree. 3-4 guys over .800 OPS (Posey, Belt, McCutchen, maybe Longoria) plus guys in the mid-high 700 OPS in Panik, and hopefully Pence and Crawford, who were both back to their normal hitting self in the last two months (Pence had early season injury then hamstring issues, Crawford was dealing with a very close personal loss, though he says that was not the reason).

      If they add Dyson to CF, that’s 8 when facing RHP.

    6. This was in response to somebody named Bip, who noted that even had the Giants picked up Stanton along with Longoria and McCutchen, they would still be 8 wins behind the Dodgers right now. I segued into a diatribe about WAR and the usage and methodologies:

      That’s OK, WAR projections don’t mean that the team will win the World Series, or that their big acquisition would defy his WAR production and lay a big dodo egg on the biggest stage and personally be the reason his team didn’t win the World Series. WAR can’t measure what humans will do on the biggest stage. (Kershaw! 4.35 ERA; Bumgarner 2.11 ERA)

      What it could mean is that WAR (and its projections) are still very much a nascent metric with many components that still need to be figured out before we can use it as an absolute measure of value that almost everyone seems to use it as.

      I have a big issue with a methodology that cannot identify pitchers who are skilled enough to keep their BABIP below the expected mean. Or those who are so bad that they can’t get it down to the mean. Mike Fast (with Astros, but previously FG author) noted a while back that BABIP control is a skill, but that it is just that most MLB pitchers have that skill, and yet there has not been any study that identifies these pitchers. And Tom Tippett, long ago (now with Boston), after DIPS came out, studied how pitchers could add value, and found a lot of pitchers who would be missed because of the adherence to DIPS. Maybe with the StatCast data, we can do better.

      In particular, I have a big issue with “advanced” defensive metrics where one has a fielder as -1 WAR and the other as +1 WAR. That’s a huge swing in value. And now I’ve read that on BP that the defensive spectrum that a lot of the defensive value is structured on might not be actually what is happening in reality, that there is questions as to its validity. Where is the Field/FX data?

      I use these, because we don’t have anything better and it is something commonly known, but I find all the focus on them as if they were ironclad, 100% indicators of true value to be frustrating in discussions, I don’t know how many times people have “shut me up” by quoting WAR. It’s not, it’s more nuanced than that.

    7. Comment that Giants look no better than third in NL West:

      People don’t know but part of the reason the NL West became so good was because the Giants pitching rotation was that bad in 2017. Giants were 45-31 against the NL West in 2016, 29-47 in 2017. Part of the D-backs gain in 2017 was the 6 win swing from season to season, against the Giants.

      With Bumgarner and Cueto presumably back to normal, Samardzija hopefully figuring things out, and Stratton showing off good spin rates and low xwOBA for certain pitches, the rotation should be much better than last year and not as much of a pushover. That should even things out, specially against AZ, who are currently behind the Giants Depth Chart, though that could change if JD resigns with them, but at minimum, they will be in the same ballpark if everyone plays to expectation.

      I’m not sure why people don’t get it, but the Giants had a perfect storm of injuries and poor performances that knocked them down in 2017, and the Giants Depth Charts shows that with their projections of just under .500 before these two trades, not 64, not even 70, but closer to .500, they were just hit hard.

      They added two valuable players (both roughly 3 WAR) while pivoting to keep their payroll under the penalty, which don’t really hit their prospect pool all that hard, as they have a number of surplus areas.

      Reynolds still has a way to develop, Crick had a number of competitors in Law, Slania, Moronta, Osich, and Okert, maybe Snelton too, plus Rule 5 Fernandez, battling for that last bullpen spot, and Arroyo is still a year or two away. But Longoria fills that 3B role for the next couple of years, and by then hopefully the OF is cheap and filled with Shaw, Duggar, Slater, Parker, Williamson (and shut up the people who talk about how the Giants can’t develop outfielders, as if that is a requirement of a good front office), and they can sign/trade for 3B again, if necessary, or maybe Hinojosa takes the leap, or Jacob Gonzalez,and grab 3B.

      So I don’t see these trades as obviating anything the Giants are hoping to do in the future, other than tacking on Longoria’s contract later (when there is no CBT penalties anymore), for now, or perhaps they re-sign McCutchen (they’ve been known to do that :^). They still have most of their top and notable prospects in Ramos, Shaw, Beede, Suarez, Duggar, Slater, Williams, Fabian, Garcia. The NextGen Giants, as I’ve been calling them, led by Ramos and whomever they select 2nd in the draft this year.

    8. To the comment: "Giants zig while others zag. Is the early-30’s bat just entering the post-peak decline the new overlooked value?"

      My reply: "They’ve been saying that about the Giants for a while. I think it was FG, or perhaps Beyond the Box Score, that wrote an article about how signing 30’s was the Giants Moneyball moment, as studies have shown that there is a peak in average production in the later 30’s, if you can identify those who continue to produce."

    9. Someone mentioned that Longoria's 2016 was an outlier, so this is my reply:

      Yes, but so was his 2017: Per FG:

      2014: 3.3 WAR
      2015: 4.1 WAR
      2016: 4.5 WAR
      2017: 2.5 WAR

      If you want to split hairs, 2017 was a bigger outlier than 2016 relative to the 3.6 WAR average.

      If anything, 2017 looks like the regression to the mean that the 2016 outlier was, and so if you average the years out, you get 3.6 WAR (also 3.5 WAR the past two years), so I see a 3.0 WAR projection as reasonable, because that’s 0.5 decline over his current prior production, which is the way free agent signings are handled. The Giants would love 3.0 WAR production at the position, it was severely negative last season.

    10. Comment: Say the Giants sign Dyson to play CF and add a back-end starter with their remaining money. Are they legit contenders again? Not sure that gets it done still...

      My Reply (modified, as I realized later that Melancon had surgery to fix):

      First, it is not sure that there is even remaining money to sign Dyson and stay under the CBT threshold. I’ve seen one beat writer say they only have the money that Pittsburgh paid, another say $4M. I’m assuming that is why they haven’t signed him yet even though they stated him as their first priority.

      Second, yes, they are legit contenders. Per FG’s Depth Charts, they are in play for the second WC spot. If Bumgarner, Cueto, Melancon return to their pre-injury production, plus they sign Dyson, that would put them in contention for the first WC spot. These moves has got it done, I believe, especially if they can sign Dyson.

      I was going to differ, but I like your lineup with Dyson. The Giants have 7 legit hitters in the lineup right now, with half of them capable of 800+ OPS, 8 if they sign Dyson. Only caveat is that Dyson is horrible vs. LHP so either he bats 8th vs. LHP, or he platoons with somebody like Slater (RHH) or maybe even Duggar, who is LHH but has hit as well against LHP in minors, as RHP.

      Rotation is Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija, Stratton, and one of Blach, Beede, Suarez, Vet FA they always pick up on a minor league contract. As nicely as Blach did and Beede has the better pedigree, I would not be surprised if Suarez wins the #5 spot.

      The rotation could be great, as great as during the glory years. Cueto should be co-ace again, assuming the trainers figure out a way to toughen up his fingers so they don’t blister and bleed anymore (if not, we need new trainers). Samardzija was great (around 3.4 ERA) in last 12 starts, after apparently trying something new early in the season (see his May-June sprint K/BB, something like 59:1 ratio over 48 IP), then getting comfortable with that change in the last third of the season. Stratton, per MLB StatCast analysis, had one of the best spin rates for his curveball and another pitch, with low xwOBA, and listed him as a breakout pitcher in the mode of Charlie Morton. In his last 9 starts, low-2 ERA. We just need two of them to do well, and along with Bumgarner doing well, have a rotation as strong as the glory years.

      Bullpen is Melancon, Dyson, Smith, Strickland, Guerrin, and one of Law, Okert, Slania, Osich, Moronta, Rule 5 Fernandez, and one of Blach, Beede, Suarez, Vet FA as long relief. I think this abundance allowed the Giants to trade Crick, as they have good replacements, particularly in Law, who has done well before as well.

      Assuming Melancon and Smith returns to prior norms (iffy given both had surgery, but possible), we have five guys with recent history of 2-something ERA’s, plus Law did well before too, if he wins the spot. But that is why they are keeping Dyson, in case Melancon falters or fails.

      For long relief, one of the beat writers said that the Giants liked how Blach can handle both starting and relieving, as well as switching back and forth (some can only start or nothing/do poorly), so they might be leaning that way, though if he does better than the others, he should get the nod for #5.

    11. Last one:

      The Giants have never gone on a long rebuild while under Sabean. He rebuilt them after the 1997 season, when he first took over, and they were competitive immediately. They did lose in those last Bonds years, but they were always reloading in order to try to win with him. After they decided to part with him after 2007, they started rebuilding in earnest, and started winning again in 2009.

      One could call this a rebuild of sorts, and if you do, then they did one after 2015 when they signed Cueto, Samardzija, and Span. Or even after 2011, when they traded for Pagan and Melky. Sabean called the 2017 version a reset.

      I don’t see the Giants trading off either Posey or Bumgarner. I think this ownership was like many other Giants fans of the 70’s and 80’s, and part of the 90’s, hurt by the trade or loss of iconic or good players to other teams, like Cepeda, Mays, McCovey, Perry, Foster, Speier, Bobby Bonds, Gary Mathews, Garry Maddox, Jack Clark, Chili Davis, Will Clark, Matt Williams.

  12. Another thought about going over the tax; If they do recoup a pick for McC next year, it will be much lower if they are repeat offenders



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