Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Catcher Rankings

The commissioner in my fantasy league announced at the end of the season that he plans to go from a standard 5X5 format to 6X6, replacing BA with OBP and SLG% while keeping R, HR, RBI, SB.  On the pitching side, he replaces W with QS and adds K/9.  The reasoning for OBP, SLG% and QS is fairly obvious.  His reasoning for K/9 is it potentially adds value to non-closer relievers making them rosterable in some cases.

The new changes significantly devalue leadoff hitter types who maintain a high BA and SB's but struggle to draw walks because of their lack of power and position at the top of the lineup.  Using using OBP and SLG as 2 of 6 categories also makes it easy to figure out who has value.  You simply have to look up OPS as a single category.  You can keep 1 eye out for SB's but since they are now 1 category out of 12 instead of 10, it makes it much more palatable to just punt the category.

With that background let's dive into the final 2016 catcher rankings.  I have simply listed the catchers with 200 or more PA's in order of OPS:

1.  Gary Sanchez, Yankees- 1.032.  How does a guy go from hitting 10 dingers in 313 PA's in AAA to hitting 20 in 229 PA's in the major leagues?  As a RH hitter in Yankee Stadium, no less!  I think Gary Sanchez is likely to be overvalued on fantasy draft day next spring!

2.  Jonathan Lucroy, Rangers- .855.  Big bounceback season for Lucroy.  Solid bet for 2017 too.

3.  Wilson Ramos, Nationals(FA)- .850.  Ramos had a great season that ended a week early due to torn ligaments in his knee.  Probably won't be read for the start of 2017.  Worth drafting and stashing on your DL.

4.  Sandy Leon, Red Sox- .845.  Leon was a surprise and likely a flash in the pan.  Stay away on draft day!

5.  Wilson Contreras, Cubs- .845.  Unlike Leon, Contreras is the real deal.  With David Ross retiring, he should be the undisputed full time catcher for the Cubs next year.  He will be valued highly on draft day and likely worth the investment.

6.  Evan Gattis, Astros- .826.  Gattis caught about 50 games last year so will retain Catcher eligibility for 2017.  Who's doesn't want 32 dingers out of their fantasy catcher?

7.  Yasmani Grandal, Dodgers- .816.  If he can stay healthy, Grandal may be just getting started.  Tremendous offensive potential here.

8.  Buster Posey, Giants- .796.  Down year for Buster.  Remains to be seen if he can find his power stroke again.  Still not a bad option.  Ranking here is more of a testament to how much deeper the catcher position has become in the last 2 seasons.

9.  Yadier Molina, Cardinals- .787.  How many more productive years does Molina have left?  He looked like he was about done in 2015 but had a nice bounceback in 2016.

10.  Tyler Flowers, Braves- .777.  The question here is how many PA's he'll get in a season.

11.  JT Realmuto, Marlins- .771.  The only MLB catcher with double digit HR's and SB's.

12.  Nick Hundley, Rockies- .759.  Any starting position player for the Rockies is going to have fantasy value just on the basis of the park they play in.

13.  Cameron Rupp, Phillies- .750.  Rupp had a nice season, but is he the Phillies' catcher of the future?

14.  Brian McCann, Yankees- .748.  The OPS is not so great, but still good for dingers.

15.  Welington Castillo, D'Backs- .745.  He alway seems to kill the Giants, but apparently not the rest of the league.

15.  Salvador Perez, Royals- .725.  Hits dingers but doesn't draw walks.

Scouting the 2017 Draft: Jeren Kendall

We'll try to get an earlier start on the draft coverage this year.  The Giants currently hold the 21'st selection in the 2017 amateur draft.  They are likely to keep that pick as Kenley Jansen is the only potential FA target who is likely to get a QO.  I don't expect the Giants to pick up any additional picks as they do not have any departing FA's who are worthy of a QO.  They could move up from the 21'st pick by a slot or two, but there are not a lot of QO worthy FA's this year, so I don't probably not much higher than that #19 or 20.

Let's dive into some scouting reports:

Jeren Kendall is a true 5 tool CF prospect who plays for Vanderbilt.  He goes 5'11- 6'0", 180-190 lbs depending on which report you read.  He B-L, T-R.  He committed to Vandy in 2014 after not playing much in HS.  He was  considered extremely talented, but raw.  PG had him with a 6.34 60 yd dash and under 4 secs to 1B.  His FB velocity off the mound was just 82 mph, but he was clocked at 93 on an OF throw. He gets high marks for his intelligence, even temper and hard work.  Here are his stat lines from his first 2 seasons at Vandy:

2015:  .281/.394/.530, 10 2B, 6 3B, 8 HR, 19 SB, 21 BB, 60 K, 185 AB.
2016:  .332/.396/.568, 16 2B, 8 3B, 9 HR, 28 SB, 25 BB, 62 K, 250 AB.

He projects as a true CF with more gap power than HR power, although he probably has 20 HR potential, with 20+ SB potential.  Downsides are he still needs to work on his plate discipline, he has not performed that well in the Cape Cod League and his power upside is limited by his size.  He is currently projected to be drafted in the top 10 picks, so it is unlikely the Giants have a shot at him.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Scouting the Offseason: 5'th Starter

This one probably doesn't even need to be written up.  The Giants have SP slots 1-4 locked up for 2017 with Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija and Moore.  They are not going to spend good money on a 5'th starter no matter what and they have a couple of in-house options with more waiting in the wings in the minor leagues.

Make no mistake.  Matt Cain will get his chance to win back a rotation slot, but he will have a short leash as the Giants seem to be itching to give Ty Blach a longer look after his spectacular late season and postseason success.  They also have Clayton Blackburn and Chris Stratton waiting for shots and if Tyler Beede starts the season strong in Sacramento, he'll be knocking at the door.  I think they will probably also find a way to keep Albert Suarez who did a pretty average 5'th starter's job last year when he was needed.

Oh, the Giants will probably bring in a guy or two on minor league deals just to keep people honest.  They always do.  Just who that might be would be like finding a needle in a haystack.  Last year it was Suarez and he had a terrible spring training, but ended up spending most of the season in SF.

So that's it for the offseason.  Barring a complete makeover of the team which there is not hint of coming from the front office, the Giants have a very short offseason shopping list, most likely beginning and ending with Closer.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Scouting the Offseason: Left Field

With the almost certain departures of Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco, the Giants have an opening for a new left fielder, a position that has been something of a revolving door since Barry Bonds played it.  I believe the Giants have this one covered.  In his end-of-the-season pressor, Bobby Evans as much as said that Mac Williamson and/or Jarrett Parker would get a shot at the job.  He went so far as to bring Adam Duvall's name into the discussion and went on to say that the Giants believe Mac and Jarrett have more power potential than Duvall.  OK, Bobby.  Then put your money where your mouth is.

Sean Bialaszek over on GGS-Giants makes the case for Mac to win the job.  Mac led the Giants last year in Average Exit Velocity off the bat.  He also hit about 30 HR's if prorated to 600 PA's.  Did you also know that Mac was the 13'th best defensive LF with at least 100 PA's in all of MLB, admittedly a SSS.  Mac's time has come.  He deserves the shot.  You could make a case for a platoon with Jarrett Parker and I'm OK with that to start the season.  I think Mac will gradually take over the position full time as the season goes along.

It's not like the Giants are working without a net by committing to the kids.  If both Mac and Jarrett tank, they could turn 3B over to Conor Gillaspie full time and move Eduardo Nunez to LF.  Nunez would not give you the power you crave out of LF, but he has decent power and is the top SB threat on the team.  He is obviously fast enough to cover the ground out there.  The Giants also have Austin Slater over in Sacramento who deserves a shot if nobody else steps up to take it.

But OK, maybe you still want the Giants to kick a few tires out there?  Here's a rundown on what's available by FA or trade.  It's actually a surprisingly strong list albeit with just one elite name.


Yeonis Cespedes, 31 yo.  Cespedes will opt out of his contract with the Mets, but he's…..not coming here!  I don't know if the Wilpons have the caishish to re-sign him, but someone will, and it won't be the Giants although I see the Giants brought up in connection with him in almost every Q/A out there.  He seems to want to stay in NY so the Mets may find a way to keep him or he could go to the Yanks, Dodgers, Cardinals, Nationals or some mystery team.  It won't be the Giants.  BTW, I'd be A-OK with the Giants signing Cespedes and forgetting about Mac and Jarrett, but I don't think they will.

Ian Desmond, 31 yo.  Desmond found the second half of his career in Texas as an OF.  He actually played mostly CF and played it well.  He went 20/20 again.  I would not expect that to translate well to AT&T Park and hope he doesn't come here.

Matt Holliday, 37 yo.  The Cardinals will buy out his option.  This would be a very Giantsy move to bring him in on a 1 year or 1 year+option in the tradition of Pat Burrell and Michael Morse.  He's a shell of his former self but could probably be a passable 6 or 7 inning option.  I would not be shocked if this actually happened, but again, my preference is to stay in house.

Michael Saunders, 30 yo.  Saunders had a nice season for Toronto, whose ballpark is not like AT&T Park.  He is also playing on glass knees.

Dexter Fowler, 31 yo.  Signing another CF and then putting one of them in LF is a very Giantsy move. They've had their opportunities to go after Fowler and have passed in the past, though.

Carlos Gomez, 31 yo.  I suppose he's an attractive bounceback candidate and should not cost a lot after the last 2 putrid seasons.  He showed he still has some toonder in the bat with a big September.  Extremely streaky, though, and I'm pretty sure the Giants do not need more streakiness in their lineup.

Jose Bautista, 36 yo.  Another attractive bounceback candidate even at 36 yo, but only at the right price and Bautista seems to have wildly unrealistic expectations about his value.

Josh Reddick, 30 yo.  Reddick is probably good enough defensively to take over RF and move Hunter Pence to LF, but I'm not sure how that would go over.  I also don't think the Giants need another LH bat in the lineup.

Mark Trumbo, 31 yo.  Hit 47 dingers this year and the Giants do need dingers.  Trumbo is a fairly one dimensional player, though, and the dingers might not be nearly as plentiful in AT&T Park.


Ryan Braun, 33 yo, Brewers.  Braun had a great offensive season, hitting .305 with 30 dingers.  He might not cost that much in prospects for a team willing to take on his full salary obligations.  Comes with well known baggage.

Khris Davis, 29 yo, A's.  Davis hit 42 HR's for Oakland.  He's up for arbitration and Trader Billy might let him go for the right return.  He's also fairly one dimensional and the power may not play in AT&T.

Justin Upton, 29 yo, Tigers.  Tigers GM Avila basically said the team needs to rebuild.  I'm pretty sure Upton has at least a partial no-trade and he hates AT&T Park.

Matt Kemp, 32 yo, Braves.  Kemp keeps getting traded with the trading team picking up part of his salary which may eventually make him a good value.  Hit 35 HR's for the Braves but basically can't play in the field anymore.  Probably needs to go to an AL club where he can finish his career as a DH.

JD Martinez, 29 yo, Tigers.  See Justin Upton above.  Martinez' D went off a cliff this year but he can hit.

I still want the Giants to give Mac the shot.  Worse case scenario?  Make a midseason trade for a power hitting LF.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Scouting the Offseason: Closers

After the debacle of their 2016 bullpen, which cost an otherwise very good team a shot at another championship, making sure that does not happen again in 2017 will be the Giants #1 offseason priority.   When you look at possible in-house options, you find several pitchers who might be able to handle that responsibility, but no sure things.  There are no flamethrowers on the farm who are ready to graduate and assume the role.  The Giants closer next season will come from outside the organization, which means a free agent signing or a trade.  Let's take a look at the options.  Depending on how they want to allocate their money, the Giants can afford to make a serious run at any of the available options.


Aroldis Chapman LHP, 29 yo.  We all know who Chapman is.  He is the single most dominant closer, heck maybe the most dominant pitcher, in all of baseball.  His FB runs 99-104 MPH and sits at 102.  He is able to command it.  He has secondary pitches that are at least good enough that you cannot found on the fastball in any count.  he can get a wild hair up his nose, but not very often.  His is big and strong enough to go more than 1 inning at a time.  He will be expensive as several big-money teams will be after him including the Cubs and Yankees and possibly the Dodgers.  What it would take to sign him:  $5 years/$90 M.

Kenley Jansen RHP, 29 yo.  The second best closer on the market.  Can blow a Save here and there, but will generally get the job done about 90% of the time.  Has proven he can go more than 1 inning in this postseason.  Dodgers will offer him a QO, but we don't know what penalties and rewards will be attached to a QO in the new CBS due out any day now.  What it will take to sign him:  4 yrs/$60 M.

Mark Melancon RHP, 32 yo.  The 3'rd of the big 3 closers on the market.  He's 3 years older and not quite as dominant as Chapman and Jensen and will therefore come a bit more cheaply.  The Giants made a run at him at the trading deadline and are publicly kicking themselves for not getting a deal done.  The Giants have a history of repeatedly pursuing players they like until they finally get them, one way or another.  Everybody is saying Melancon is the guy they will go after, and that might be right.  What it will take to sign him:  3 yrs/$45 M.

Brad Ziegler RHP, 37 yo.  Not a classic closer, but surprisingly effective with a sidearm/submarine delivery that gets a whole lot of groundballs. Giants and their fans know him well from his years with the Arizona D'Backs.  What it will take to sign him:  2 yrs/$16 M.

Greg Holland RHP, 30 yo.  Holland is coming off TJ surgery, but was one of the top closers in baseball prior to his injury with the KC Royals.  You may remember him from the 2014 WS.  Will come cheaper than other closers of similar talent and will probably be looking for a 1 year rebuild-value contract.  Will probably turn out to be  tremendous bargain for some team, but the Giants are probably looking for more certainty.  What it will take to sign him:  1 yr/$4 M with incentives.


Wade Davis RHP, 31 yo, KC:  Davis has a team option for $10 M with a $2 M buyout.  The Royals would definitely pick up the option, but they also might not want to pay the $10 M.  Davis is rumored to be on the trading block.  He's an elite closer, though, and there will be plenty of teams trying to trade for him.  He will cost a frontline prospect or two.  Chances of him coming to SF:  10%

Andrew Miller LHP, 31 yo, Cleveland:  Cleveland traded for Miller for the stretch run and it's definitely paying off bigly for them.  Question is do they want to take his contract into next season?  Again, if he is available at all, it would take a huge haul to get him.  Chances of him coming to SF:  5%

Cody Allen RHP, 28 yo, Cleveland:  Maybe Cleveland decides to keep Miller but trade the Arbitration eligible Allen whose salary will rise significantly above the almost $5 M he made this year.  Chances of him coming to SF:  5%

Francisco Rodriguez RHP, 35 yo, Brewers:  He's more guile than power now, but he can still close out a game.  Brewers hold option for $8 M.  They are clearly rebuilding and K-Rod would be a nice trade chip to get back some more prospects.  Chances of him coming to SF:  20%

David Robertson RHP, 32 yo, ChiSox:  Robertson still racks up Saves but also blows a few.  Probably still an upgrade from what the 2016 Giants and he has 2 years left on a big contract that the White Sox would almost surely be open to trading.  Chances of him coming to SF:  20%.

Kelvin Herrera RHP, 27 yo, KC:  Elite setup man who could move into the closer role.  Arbitration eligible but how much will his salary go up from the $2.6 M he made this year?  KC may want to keep him to replace Davis as the closer.  Chances of him coming to SF:  Less than 5%

Alex Colome RHP, 28 yo, TB:  A commenter brought up Alex Colome.  I doubt TB would trade their closer with 1 year of minimum salary left, but they may decide to sell high on him.  Would cost some prospects, but would not add anything significant to payroll.

Who do you think will be the Giants Closer in 2017?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

State of the Giants 2016-2017: Roster Needs

In a previous post, we ran down the Giants current 40 man roster including financial commitments and departing free agents.  Here we'll take another look at the roster to identify specific holes or needs that need to be addressed before next season starts.  We'll start by projecting assignments based on an assumption of no FA acquisitions or re-signs and no trades and then focus on the areas where no player is assigned or where an upgrade is needed.  As a bonus, we'll list the player's 2016 fWAR and league positional ranking by fWAR.


C Buster Posey:  4.0/2
1B: Brandon Belt:  4.4/6
2B Joe Panik:  2.1/14
3B Eduardo Nunez:  2.7/14
SS Brandon Crawford:  5.8/4
LF Open(Williamson/Parker?):  0.5/0.2
CF Denard Span:  1.4/14
RF Hunter Pence 2.1/14


C  Trevor Brown:  0.2
IF Conor Gillaspie: 1.1
IF Tomlinson/Adrianza/Beckham:  0.8/0.2/-0.6.
OF Gorkys Hernandez:  0.2
OF Williamson/Parker: 0.5/0.2


Madison Bumgarner LHP:  4.9/9
Johnny Cueto RHP:  5.5/4
Jeff Samardzija RHP:  2.6/45
Matt Moore LHP:  2.2/51
Open(Matt Cain/Ty Blach?)


Closer- Open
Derek Law RHP:  1.1/37
Hunter Strickland RHP:  0.8/63
Will Smith LHP:  0.8/69
Cory Gearrin RHP:  0.5/95.
George Kontos RHP:  0.2/177
Steven Okert LHP:  0.1/255.
(Albert Suarez?)


5'th Starter(probably in-house)
LF(possibly in-house)
Reserves and non-closer relievers(probably in-house, settled in Spring Training).

In future posts, we'll move on to Scouting the Offseason and take closer looks at each of the open positions and positional battles to see how the Giants 2017 final roster may shake out.

Monday, October 17, 2016

State of the Giants 2016-2017: Departing Free Agents

The Giants have 8 free agents coming off the current 40 man roster, 6 of whom have been key role players in at least 1 championship season and in most cases, multiple championships.  Ordinarily, you would expect a lot of hand wringing and calls for the Giants to overpay to keep the gang together for 1 or 2 more runs, but this time the departures represent an opportunity for the team to get younger and better.  The Giants have in-house replacements for all of the free agents and need the money saved from  their contracts to go out and get themselves a frontline Closer.  Let's break it down(I'll list the player, age, 2016 Salary/AAV in $ M):

Santiago Casilla RHP:  36 yo, 6.5/6.5.  Casilla has been a warrior through 3 championship seasons.  He actually had his best season by K/BB in 2016 and it's not close.  The problem is the 9'th inning seemed to get into his head.  If Bruce Bochy didn't lose faith in him, the fan base certainly did. It became impossible at the end of the season for Boch to even think about sending him out there for the 9'th inning.  Casilla could probably still be a very effective 7'th inning reliever, but you don't pay those guys $6.5 M.  He'll probably have to take a large pay cut in free agency, but it's more palatable with another team.  The Giants have plenty of 7'th inning guy on the roster.  Chances of Return:  5%.

Sergio Romo RHP:  34 yo, 8/7.5.  What a career Romo has had with the Giants, and an unlikely one at that!  Romo pitched effectively when he pitched in 2016, but spent half the season on the DL with a forearm strain.  He would have to take a huge pay cut to come back and again, the Giants have other options for the 7'th and 8'th inning.  Chances of Return:  20%.

Javier Lopez LHP:  39 yo, $5/4.3.  Another legendary Giant from the championship seasons, Lopez walking the lefthanded hitting Anthony Rizzo in the 9'th inning of the final game meltdown was a microcosm of his 2016 season.  He's a lefty hitter killer who couldn't get lefty hitters out, especially in high leverage situations.  Again, the Giants have younger, cheaper options from the left side in the bullpen in Steven Okert, Josh Osich and even Ty Blach.  Chances of Return:  5%

Jake Peavy RHP:  36 yo, 13/12.  Peavy was not a factor from midseason on.  He tried to re-invent himself as a long reliever with mixed success.  If he wants to continue his career he'll have to accept a huge reduction in salary and it will almost certainly be with another team.  Chances of Return:  Less than 5%.

Angel Pagan OF:  35 yo, 10/10.  Pagan actually had one of his most consistent seasons at the plate and set a personal record for HR's in a season.  There was talk that the Giants might be interested in bringing him back on a short term contract.  That probably evaporated when he didn't answer the bell for the final 2 games of the NLDS complaining of back spasms.  Whatever the Giants think of Pagan's health problems probably does not matter.  They need to go with someone younger and more reliable physically.  Chances of Return:  Less than 5%.

Gregor Blanco OF:  33 yo, 3.9/3.75.  Blanco was the best 4'th OF in baseball from 2012-2015 and played a major role in helping them win 2 championships.  He's coming off a down season at age 33 and is getting expensive.  Gorkys Hernandez is younger and faster.  Chances of Return:  10%.

Joe Nathan RHP:  42 yo, .5/.5(prorated).  Cot's contracts has Nathan down for a $1.5 M team option for 2017.  The Giants won't pick that up and Nathan will be a FA.  In September, with the bullpen in full meltdown, Bochy gave him one shot at a high leverage situation which did not go well.  Boch pretty much forgot about him after that.  I suppose there is a small chance he may be back on a minor league deal.  Chances of Return:  20%(minor league deal only).

Gordon Beckham IF:  30 yo, 1.25/1.25(prorated).  Beckham reportedly brought a breath of fresh air into a stale clubhouse in his very short stint with the Giants in September.  Alex P reports that the Giants would like him back.  I'm having a hard time seeing how he fits on the 25 man active roster, so I think it will be only on a minor league deal unless the Giants think he can play SS in a pinch.  Chances of return:  25%.

These departures will free up over $45 M in payroll.  Some of that goes to scheduled pay raises for current players.  Most of the rest will probably go toward bringing in a frontline closer as the Giants have younger and cheaper in-house replacements for each of these free agents.