Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hot Stove Update: Have the Giants Upgraded Their Offense?

Merry Christmas, everybody! Hope Santa thought you were all nice in 2011. My family opened presents this morning, I've done a few household chores and Christmas dinner is cooking, so I have a few minutes and am rapidly getting bored. Thought I'd write a quick post.

In the seemingly endless discussion amongst internet Giants fans is a common assertion that the Giants have done nothing to upgrade their offense this year. I decided to do a little research on this question and see if I could bring some light instead of just more heat to the discussion.

First of all, at no time last year did the Giants have their best lineup on the field for more than a couple of games mainly due to injuries. Here is a list of Giants Team OPS Splits by month:

March/April- .675
May- .658
June- .653
July- .657
August- .636
September- .756.

As you can see, there was a significant dropoff after Buster's injury and a big rebound in September after Beltran recovered from his wrist injury. I believe Crawford and Belt hit better in September too. Taken as a whole, though, which is probably the most fair way to look at it, the team OPS was .671 which ranked #27 out of 30 MLB teams and #15 out of 16 NL teams. The range for all teams was .640-.810 with the Phillies at .717 and the Cubs at .715 the two middle teams. The range for the NL was a narrower .653-.766 with the Cubs at .715 and Marlins at .706 the two middle clubs.

It is difficult to compare team stats for last season with projections due to uncertainties and inconsistencies in playing time. Baseball Reference has a breakdown of stats by position that might help us get close though. Here are the Giants OPS Splits by position for 2012:

C .628
1B .732
2B .667
3B .817
SS .564
LF .684
CF .646
RF .801
P .372

The average for the positions is .657 which is lower than the true Team OPS because a simple averaging by position gives too much weight to the pitching position and to positions that might have hit lower in the order than others. It does, however, provide a fairly simple reference point against a projection of next year's likely lineup. I used ZIPS projections for a likely Giants lineup in 2012. ZIPS is probably the most advanced of the projection systems and is more conservative than Bill James.

C(Buster Posey+Chris Stewart)- .759
1B(Aubrey Huff)- .751
2B(Fred Sanchez)- .686
3B(Pablo Sandoval)- .844
SS(Brandon Crawford)- .627
LF(Melky Cabrera)- .765
CF(Angel Pagan)- .725
RF(Nate Schierholtz)- .736
P .372

Total average projection= .696. Again, this is a slight underestimate due to weighting for lineup position. I will correct for this by adding in the difference between the Team OPS for 2012 and the average of Team Splits by position which is .014 for a total of .710 which puts them at #9 on the NL, .005 behind the #8 Cubs. It would put them at #19 for all of MLB, .007 behind the #15 Phillies. In other words, the Giants as currently constructed project to an approximately league average offense, which is a significant improvement over their aggregate lineup in 2011.

The estimated playing time for Buster is conservative. The projection rises if he plays more games at catcher. The projection systems love Brandon Belt and have him at an OPS of .817. That would be an upgrade at all 3 positions he is capable of playing, 1B, LF, RF. Going by projections alone, the best lineup would be to make Nate the 4'th OF(sorry Nate), move Melky to RF and put Belt in LF.

Projecting a 2012 lineup with Nate as a reserve and Belt in the lineup with Buster playing 140 games at C instead of 120 gives us an average .707. Add in the .014 correction for lineup weighting and you get .721. This gets them to #15(top half) in MLB behind Tampa Bay at .724. It gets them to #7 out of 16 in the NL behind the Mets at .725. Comparisons are to 2011 team stats and rankings because figuring out a projection for each team is prohibitively difficult and time consuming.

Using actual numbers, the Giants, as currently constructed project to close to a league average offense. As we have noted before, Brandon Belt is a huge wild card depending on whether his projections are accurate and how much playing time he gets. Of course, there are the usual caveats about projections. There is a reason why they play the games. Whether Belt plays or not or whether he is as good as projected or not, if you accept projections as more objective and conservative than say, taking a wild guess, then, as long as the pitching stays healthy, the Giants should be in great shape to contend for another title in 2012.


  1. Merry Christmas Doc and all the Giants Townies that make this such a great place.

    I see the positive of the Beltran situation is more ABs and playing time for Belt and Schierhotlz.

    (And I know Beltran has been beaten down to death. But, for my 2 cents: I defended the trade. But, I did assume that the Giants would use the advantage of being the "home team" when negotiating with Beltran in the off-season. What I didn't understand at the time, and what is disappointing now is that Wheeler was given up ONLY for a 2011 RENTAL of Beltran, with no intention of trying to resign him. And I think that's at the core of most fans anger at the Giants decision to make zero effort to sign Beltran. The only thing I can figure is the Giants saw another Tim Alderson in Wheeler.)

    That all being said, good riddance to Beltran. Beltran's cool demeanor just rubs me the wrong way. When you have such a high opinion of yourself, you're kinda supposed to keep it on the down low.

    It's pretty obvious we lack and need a big bat (or two). So, Belt, it's time step in and to be that guy (or be John Bowker). It's just way more fun to win with your homegrown guys.

    So, I really like what you're doing with this post, Doc. What the Giants are doing in the off-season ain't sexy like a big FA signing. But, yeah, pointing out that it's plausible that the Giants have an average (or mediocre depending on how you spin it) offense to go with the outstanding pitching. And that might be enough.

  2. Kelly,

    Thanks for reading and thanks for your contributions in the comments.

  3. DrB,

    Merry Christmas! I have a theory but you let me know if it may be possible. I am thinking that the Oakland A's must pay the Giants a significant amount of money for territorial rights to San Jose. Do you think they are waiting for the number from MLB before they try to lock up Cain and/or Lincecum or make any other offensive upgrades for 2012? Everything I have heard seems to point to the A's moving to that area so maybe they are waiting before they make any other moves. I know it is wishful thinking but hopefully if they receive 20 million+ then they will spend that money to fix the offense. It would be depressing if they received a huge check and just pocketed it. Cmon Giants, use that money for Fielder on a 6 year deal with a team option!

  4. I doubt that territorial rights payment from the A's has any bearing on whether they lock up Cain and Lincecum. It certainly can't hurt though.

    I was just thinking about how the Giants might spend that money. It should be a pretty substantial amount. The Nats paid the O's about $70 M for moving to Washington and the O's had no formal claim to that territory. I would think the Giants haul should be at least that much if not more. OGC is the expert on this subject though. The problem is it's a one time windall although it might get paid out in installments over 5-10 years or something like that.

    So, what to do with the money? Let's see......:

    Pay off Barry Zito and tell him to go away?

    Buy into their minor league teams?

    The depressing thing is, even $100 M doesn't go so far if you are talking about a long term contract for a big name FA.

    Any creative ideas out there on how to spend the territorial rights money?

  5. Merry Christmas everyone! Thanks Drb and all the Giants fans here for making this a great blog in 2011. Drb, I like your post also.. A healthy Posey and Sanchez(a former batting champ) will help the lineup to start.. Huff's OPS .696 was 2nd worst in his entire career.. He's had a solid major league career so there is no reason not to expect a bounce back year from him. As for Melky Caberra (OPS .809 in 2011 with 18 hrs, 44 doubles, 20sbs)a career year, don't know what got into him! I saw him in a few Halos/Royals games on TV hitting some bombs to left/right centerfield.. He's a switch hitter who can play all 3 outfield positions, I wouldn't dismiss him as an offensive upgrade yet. If Angel Pagan (.750 OPS in 2011) does a good job as the leadoff hitter, maybe that helps jump start the offense.. Who knows how Brandon Belt fits on the roster also

    I agree with kelly that an average offense to go with outstanding pitching might be enough.. That was a formula when they won the WS in 2010. They could still use a RH outfielder and backup SS for Crawford (maybe Vizquel?) Sabean does a nice job with those dumpter dives. Its just not plausable for the Giants to make a big FA signing at this time until Rowand/Zito are off the books or the Cain/Timmy situation works itself out.

  6. Anon,

    Thanks for the scouting report on Melky. I just don't watch that many AL games. He's a guy who has always seemed to underperform until last year. Maybe he's maturing and realizing he's not going to be young forever and he can't take the game for granted? Was last year a fuke or a breakout? He's a guy who has been expected to breakout for awhile. Maybe last year was the year? He certainly has the raw tools to play at least as well as last year on an ongoing basis.

  7. Kelly: since the Giants easily led the NL West at the time of the Beltran trade, they expected (for Wheeler) not a RENTAL of Beltran but the lasting effects of a division championship, maybe a pennant, and conceivably another WS victory. Had they achieved what they had a high probability of achieving, their revenue stream would have been such as to let them re-sign him for 2012-14 if they cared to do so. They gambled intelligently a way that most fans, I think, applauded. One can't infer their intent as to Beltran from what's happened this post-season, without the increased post-season revenue and without the particular vision of Neukom. Now, because of the unsettled situation as to San Jose and the A's, they have been working with a new uncertainty about longer-term revenue. Their caution here, which they've alluded to by comments about rainy day funds, have led sulky fans to berate them for being cheap.

    As Dr. B has shown in this post, they have worked within their unexpected constraints to put on the field a team that has an excellent chance to win in 2012. When their revenue stream looks more settled, maybe improved by a big dose of dollars from the A's, I see no reason not to believe that they will factor that in to the amount they're willing to spend. In the past, fans have grouched about the Giants' overpaying, not their stinginess.

  8. Something that isn't measured by OPS is speed. Sabes said a couple of years ago that he wanted the team to get younger and faster. Up until this offseason, it didn't work out that way. Pagan gives them an excellent SB threat and Melky a good SB threat. Nate doesn't steal many bases but is fast on the basepaths. Crawford isn't slow. Burriss gives another SB threat off the bench. As OGC pointed out in a recent post on his site, SB's are only part of the story of good baserunning and the Giants took a good baserunning team and just made it faster this offseason.

  9. Merry Christmas. I'm in a punk mood, so I offer up the alternative French version of the Giants 2012 campaign: surrender. Might as well, we have a lousy GM, an anemic offense and our pitchers are fleeing. Ze Germans are coming!

    Nope, we fight. Sabean finally got a couple guys who are faster and more athletic after paying lip service for a couple years. He retained the pitching staff. Will they stay? Depends entirely on the money. I love this new improved version of Sabean where old vets can't call in favors. Hell, I'll look past my misgivings on Manny Burriss because he's homegrown and has put in the time.

    One little point about that OPS in September - we're inflated by facing lesser pitching and also tearing up Coors field. I do think it's fair to conservatively project improvements across the board from last year except for RF.

    Will Matt Cain take security of a very generous offer or will he test the market? We're going to find out pretty soon.

  10. Nice post, DrB. As I've been pointing out for a number of years now, if the Giants have an average offense combined with their Top 3 pitching staff, they are projected to win mid-90's amount of games. That's usually good enough for a division title.

    The thing about Sabean is that he has been wanting to make the team faster and more athletic for many years now. That is very hard to do using free agency because most players on there are on the older side and thus not faster or more athletic.

    That means that he has to do it internally mostly, which he has been trying to do for a long time now, from his delayed signing of Marcus Sanders, athletic picks like Freddy Lewis and Wendell Fairley, and pickups of fast players like Eugenio Velez, Darren Ford, Emmanuel Burriss, plus there was a surplus of 50-60+ SB guys over the past 5 years, whose names I don't all remember.

    But when you try trying to do that with later picks, the vast majority of them are destined to fail, that just how the numbers fall for draft picks, most never do anything at the major league level, let alone be a good starter.

    Gary Brown looks to break that stretch and bring Sabean the speed he's been wanting for his team for a long time, but instead he focused more on BPA, picking up pitchers like Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, plus Posey.

    I don't know if Matt Cain will sign an extension with us for sure, but I find it funny that most places which gives the impression that Matt Cain won't sign because of 1) he hates the bad offense or 2) he'll want to go get the free agent riches, when I note that there are a lot of other factors that would suggest that Matt Cain might stay, they would then argue that I don't know how Cain will think, not realizing that this undermines their argument that Matt Cain won't sign because of the offense or the money.

    If I had a gun to my head, I would say he would sign, for these reasons. First, he does love this area and town, else he wouldn't have built a home here, he would go back to Tennessee to live. Second, he's never been about getting top dollar, which is one of the arguments people say is why he would leave (I provide prior behavioral tendencies, they project their own feelings into it; he got a bonus right around slot, plus took the same long-term deal as Lowry when he performed better). Third, most people, facing the choice of signing for $80-100M now, or risking getting injured in some way in the next season, in order to make over $100M a year from now, will pick the bird in the hand, rather the two in the bush.

    I think as long as the Giants make an offer that is within the market parameters of past deals (plus feel out Cain's representatives to see what they might be expecting), Matt Cain will sign with us. But that is my supposition, which I believe is strongly supported by the factors above.

    What I see happening is maybe the A's will pay their revenue sharing money to the Giants for a number of years, much as DrB noted of paying it off over a number of years. Basically, the money the Giants pay into revenue sharing has been approximately the amount the A's get, so the A's return that money back to the Giants while taking over the San Jose territory. They will probably pay money towards relocating the San Jose Giants as well, which also go to the Giants since they are part owners.

    Since the loan appears to end in 2018-9, I can see maybe the length of the payments extending that far into the future.

    Or maybe the A's agree to pay the remaining load payments for the Giants, essentially guaranteeing the loan will be repaid, which is supposedly the reason the Giants don't want the A's moving down here.

  11. As long as the Giants make a fair offer to Cain, I see him staying. Timmy is more of a wild card. Who knows what's going on in his head? He may be all about the money after all, or he may just want to go home to Seattle. I just hope if the Giants get to the point where it is doubtful they can re-sign either one, they are able to swing a trade for near MLB ready prospects much like the trades the Padres and A's swung this offseason.

  12. If all goes as planned and players perform where they should and stay healthy, I have no doubt this could be a league average offense. My concerns aren't as much with them not having good enough players, they are more with whether those players stay healthy and have decent years.

    Last year guys like Huff, Ross, Torres, Burrell, and Miggy had horrible horrible years and we had several key injuries. This year we are hoping that Huff and Pagan bounce back, that Belt and Crawford can hang, and Melky wasn't a fluky. We also have to hope that Freddie somehow isn't fragile anymore and that Posey returns to form. Last year it seemed like everything went wrong so we can't be that unlucky again but it also isn't realistic to think that all of these scenarios work out.

    That is why I pushed so strongly for a guy like Cuddyer who could fill in several places and provide an upgrade at least offensively with a much needed RH bat. As is, our MI depends on Freddie staying healthy and if that happens we can ignore the kid with the great glove who can't hit. Next year may hinge on just that, whether Freddie stays healthy or not because we have no depth to back him up or to fill in for Crawford.

    5 million would have been enough to sign at the very least Clint Barmes but we kept Affeldt instead. I don't think I have been unrealistic with my hopes for this team, I haven't been crying that they didn't sign Pujols or Reyes, but this to me seems like a more glaring weakness then a second lefty in the pen who costs 5 million and is coming off of 2 questionable years.

    Those will be a few of the story lines I will follow next season, whether the MI makes it through the year, whether the Giants can hit LH pitching, and whether the Affeldt deal was a huge mistake by Sabes who may have done it thinking he could trade Affeldt to Boston for the MI depth he needed but wasn't able to pull off the deal. Shankbone was all over that one a few weeks ago.

    So I do like a few of the moves as Melky and Pagan seem like interesting players but I can't quite put my seal of approval on this offseason yet. I see this team struggling against lefties just like last year and the middle infield could be an offensive disaster if Freddie doesn't come back and stay healthy. Had Sabean done the bare minimum and signed Barmes I would be ok with the offseason. If he had signed Cuddyer then I would be singing Sabean's praises right now.

    Does anyone else not see a glaring weakness at MI and against LH pitching?

  13. Martin Prado is still available. This is a player that Sabes should explore and I wouldn't be opposed to giving up Nate or Runzler or Affeldt to get him. He would solve a few of our problems including backup for Freddie, RH depth on offense, and insurance in RF, LF, 2B, 3B, and 1B. If this is a move Sabes has up his sleeve then I would be fine with this offseason but until something like this happens I will remain pessimistic.

  14. Pato,

    It's always possible that every hitter on the team tanks like last year. 2010 was magical, 2011 was as bad as it gets. Chances are it will be somewhere in the middle. On average, I would expect 1 or 2 breakouts and 1-2 disappointments with everybody else approximating their career averages/projections. Of course it's also possible that the pitching could tank this year while the offense does average to above average.

    I remember when Juan Marichal was about as good for 22-25 wins as any pitcher in baseball. Then in '67, Mike McCormick won 22 games and the Cy Young award. The Giants win the pennant easily, right? Wrong! Marichal inexplicably came up with his only down season in an 8 year stretch and won just 14 games. Go figure! You can't plan for every possible contingency.

    I agree that right now the team leans too far left. I would say they need a RH bat with some pop that can play OF off the bench to round out the offseason. I think they can do that with a dumpster dive or two after they take care of the arbitration business at hand. I like Prado and would be willing to give up something to get him. I agree he would solve several problems in one player.

    We've been through the LH reliever discusssion way too many times already. We're just going to have to disagree on that one.

  15. Dr. B, would you trade Affeldt for Prado? My point is that the MI and RH depth is more important then the bullpen depth. I also don't have a problem with them spending the money on LH relief, I just don't like Affeldt all that much or his 5 million dollar price tag.

  16. I'd love to have Prado. Can't trade the Braves pen arms though, they're already stacked. Don't think they'd like Nate the Great but I'd be willing, that would solve a couple of problems with one move. I really like Nate the Great too, he's getting shortchanged in all the offseason discussions except for his RF defense.

    With Barmes, I think the Gints were in on him, he took the chance to be a starter in PIT. Cuddyer may not have wanted a superutility roll with us, and the defensive fallback plus the money/years makes it a tough call. Both of those guys were interesting for sure, but we have to move on.

    I do see the weakness in the middle infield and against left handed pitching. A cheap OF guy could be Jonny Gomes - 281/375/877 against lefties and he throws in the mohawk for free. A cheap 2B/SS is Ryan Theriot - his splits against lefties are 301/373/775. Both of those guys would be great "dumpster dives" if the G's want to go that route, and bolster against lefties as well as provide depth. I would approve of both.

  17. Pato - Braves pen is stacked, they have no use for Affeldt. His 5MM price tag is at or below market and the years are what makes it a winner. The Giants got plenty of trade interest in him, decided to keep the pen intact. Personally I think its Brian Wilson insurance that is the deciding factor. I like Affeldt a lot. He is less of a LOOGY than Lopez is. His splits the past 3 years with us have been all over the place, one year he shuts down righties and gets wacked by lefties, the next year he's average against both, last year he toasted lefties. A guy with his experience is invaluable, and for the Giants with their style of play, is worth a lot to us.

  18. OK, so our 2 switch hitting additions: Pagan is at 253/304/700 batting right against the lefties; Cabrera is 263/324/698. Schierholz (entering his sixth year with the big squad btw) is at 317/351/789 against lefties in 223 appearances. Oops, I messed that one up in a previous post. I do think Bochy might protect him by not starting him against very tough lefties though. But that's some good stats from NTG.

    Belt: 348/412/934 in 51 PAs/29 games. Bochy may have protected him as well, although he had that famously bad game against Kershaw the day after he won it for us after his callback.

    I think the Giants should look hard at The Riot instead of Handy Manny Burriss. Maybe they don't have the money, they want the pinch running speed if Huff is getting yanked a lot next year. But if Franchez gets hurt, a three headed Fonty/Theriot/Crawford with Burriss called up seems like a better deal to me because Burriss simply can't hit. I'd love to proven wrong on this, but that's his track record so far.

  19. It would have to be a 3 way trade if Affeldt was involved, my point was to find out who was more valuable to the roster. If there was a way to package Affeldt along with Nate it might be a risk worth taking. Sabean sometimes has trouble getting creative with trades but there has to be a scenario where Atlanta would be happy with Nate (they like Seth Smith who isn't all that better then Nate) and the Giants can either throw in prospects or get another team involved using Affeldt or Runzler.

    Without Nate in the picture, Prado could play LF with Melky shifting over to RF and Belt could all of a sudden have a reason for sticking around instead of starting the year in AAA. I think the second LH bullpen arm is something that they can either develop in Runzler or other prospects or they can acquire midseason just like they did with Lopez and Affeldt. The middle infield depth is harder and more expensive to acquire midseason unless you are happy with guys like Keppinger and Cabrera.

  20. The Braves were trying to peddle a package of Jurrjens+Prado+??? to the O's for Adam Jones. Not sure what Prado's value as a stand alone trade is and I'm pretty sure Affeldt for Prado would not be a fit for the Braves. Yeah, if Affeldt brought back a player like Prado in a trade, I'd say picking up the option was a smart move even if it was just to use him as trade bait.

    I'm thinking the two teams in most desperate need of LH relief pitching are the Yanks and BoSox. Haven't really thought about what the Giants might ask in return, but it would have to be a pretty good prospect.

  21. I'd probably rather keep Affeldt than trade him for Prado. I like Prado a lot, but I'd try to trade something else for him. Failing that, I rather just go after a RH hitting OF with some pop like a Ludwick or Gomes. Heck, I'd love to see the Giants bring Conor Jackson in for a ST invite on a minor league deal. I know some of you are really down on Conor Jackson, but there's nothing to lose on a ST invite. That's how the Giants found Juan Uribe and Vogey.

  22. DrB - Conor Jackson would be great as well. 283/381/818 against lefties? Perfect. I'm pretty sure Jackson was the guy who got a very severe valley fever case. Ludwick, the only other throw left bat right guy in the majors besides Cody, has wacky splits, hitting better against righties and only 237/316/751 against lefties. He'd be more expensive as well. I like Gomes or Jackson.

    2 other wacky names: Scott Hairston. Plays 2B! Hits lefties 274/328/813. He has hit 12 - TWELVE HRs against us, but it feels like he's hit more. That would be the main argument for bringing him on. And Rick Ankiel might be down to minor league/spring training invites as well. He hits lefty, with bad splits against lefties, but he's a good OF with a rocket of an arm. Doubtful for sure.

  23. Yeah Pato - I had a couple of Marco Scutaro scenarios, but the Bosox ship Lowrie to Houston instead of dealing with Sabey Sabes. The problem with the midseason desperation grab is you pay more, and make more compromises, and burn off some minor league talent and depth. Keppinger's defense was overlooked and then disastrous. I agree with all the points you made about watching: middle infield depth, hitting against lefties and as a 2nd guessing exercise, the Affeldt pickup. However, things go OK to us and we get into short series, I'm pretty sure that is the right choice to have made. The best pens seem to be a big time advantage in the postseason.

    Affeldt has got the MLB time in now, he just will be expensive. I hope they decide what to do with Runzler next year and either he turns a corner with the starting or becomes a loogy. But control is still a big issue with him. The thing with the 5MM, just to rehash one more time, that was our contract option. Sure it'd be nice to have him be cheaper. I don't think its going to be easy to go and grab another Lopez next time though. As a bird in the hand exercise, Affeldt is just fine. I'm curious what they were offered for him, because he is the "cheap closer alternative" that teams can plug in. They definitely decided to keep him though, and that tells me they consider it an advantage and I bet its that Wilson hedge as well. He looked horrible early in the year, but he turned it on big time and was a very strong pitcher for us. I think he just gets jilted with his mechanics or his focus once in a while. Good pitcher though.

  24. Most of the top managers nowadays, if they have the resources, play the 7'th and 8'th innings 1 out at a time. To play it that way, you have to be able to shut down the LH hitters and most of those same managers prefer to turn the switch-hitters around and make them bat RH. Now, either those managers know something and LH relievers are worth the premium price or the sabermetric crowd is right and the managers are crazy. Based on the info at my disposal, I'll go with the managers.

  25. I'm going to track every left handed reliever in baseball this coming year. Its relatively easy to do now. There is a reason lefties are always treasured prospects. I agree with the managers at this point in time as well.

  26. I don't know what gives you the idea that the Giants would feel comfortable using Affeldt as a closer in a pinch. I think they showed last year that Casilla is the guy they would put there and probably Romo after that before risking Affeldt in the 9th.

  27. I have the idea because when we signed him the first time this was the story: Jeremy Affeldt had considered looking for a job as a closer this offseason. Then San Francisco offered a contract the reliever couldn't pass up.

    His first contract from 2009-10? 2/8MM. He bolstered the pen, when Wilson wasn't very proven. If he hadn't had pattygate, he would have closed a few more. The Giants aren't that comfortable with Casilla, believe me.

    And, just because I'm a soothsayer, here's what Sabean will say when look around after next year and decide to re-up:

    "His addition is certainly going to be welcome to everybody concerned," Sabean said. "We were aggressive. We had a short list of people. ... Resume wise, he's characteristic of a guy who's come into his own since he moved into the bullpen. He's comfortable in the bullpen. The biggest thing, given his age and all he's done in his career, he's still got youth on his side."

    I predict another 2/10MM. And that quote is from the original signing, Sabean will just recycle it.

  28. I agree that Affeldt would probably be at least 3'rd in line for backup closer. He does do other things well. He can go multiple innings when he has to. He could probably even start in a pinch.

    I still get back to the fact that 50 of the top 100 OPS's in baseball last year were either LH or switch hitters while only 14 of the top 100 ERA's were LHP's. There is just an extreme shortage of LHP's relative to LH/switch batters. When you are into the 7'th and 8'th innings of close games, those LHP's who can dominate the LH batters and turn around the switch hitters are much more valuable than WAR gives them credit for.

  29. Basically Sabean has been a big fan of Affeldt's for a long time. People shouldn't be so surprised he is sticking with his guy. Sabean is predictable, and he has spent too long searching around for the right pieces, he isn't going to shy away from throwing money at the problem to keep the status quo. Its time to move on to the next subject: dumpster dives and prospects. (And I much prefer cash to prospects if given the choice)

  30. Yup, I think I have the Top 50 Prospects list finalized. Will post it later tonight or tomorrow morning, for better or worse.

  31. I'll fondly rememeber Affeldt's contribution in Game 6 of the 2010 NLCS, coming in the early innings after the J Sanchez meltdown, and pitching lights out for 2 innings keeping the Giants in that game. It was a surprising development because Affeldt was having a subpar 2010. He's a solid reliever, can't blame them for keeping him around.

    As for another subject, I think starting pitchers on the market might strongly consider signing with SF on a minor league contract thinking they might get an opportunity because of Zito's struggles in 2011. I'm hoping that someone like Kevin Millwood might be interested in signing with SF. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!


  32. Another pitcher that might be good for the Giants is Rich Harden 4-4 5.12 ERA. He made 1.5 mil last year with the A's.

    Maybe Xavier Nady .248 BA 4hrs would be a good fit for the Giants. He went to school at Cal, bats RH and can play 1st base and right field. His salary was also in the 1.5 mil range.


    Not sexy names but who knows how much they can help a team win.

  33. MIllwood, Harden and Nady all good suggestions. I think the Giants are going to go strictly minor league deal with potential #5 starters and might spring for up to $2-3 M for another OF/Bench guy.

  34. One more thing about Gomes - He is 5th in ISO on the available FA list, carrying over from last year. He put up .180. Cody put up .165. Basically he's a cheaper less versatile version of Cody, with worse hitting against righties but also less streaky.

  35. Pato, you say we need to hope. And I agree to an extent that we do, but there should be limits or one would just end up worrying about everything.

    I mean, we could worry about each and every one of the pitcher's arms, shoulders, backs and legs. Pitchers can be a fragile lot. And position players can end their career at any age, some just inexplicably can't do it anymore. Chuck Knoblach was a good example of that, player in prime, young, suddenly can't throw from 2B to 1B. Then there was this 1B (can't remember name, I think he was a Red then was Red Sox when this happened) who suddenly had vertigo and couldn't shake it, ended his career early, he was still young, early 30's, though obviously on back end of career. And there have been so many Giants players hand cut, so there is that worry (Ivie, Metzger, Affeldt, probably more). Heck, one got injured dreaming about spiders and breaking glass (Glenallenn Hill before he joined the Giants). Plenty of things to worry about, so we need to winnow it down to things that are bigger worries, prioritize.

    Going through your order, Huff and Pagan bounce back. In Pagan's case, his peripherals, if anything, greatly improved, he struck out far less than he had before while still walking a good amount relative to K's. Hitters who don't strike out that much tend to have good years more than bad, but will have the occasional bad one. His one big negative was his BABIP. Had he just maintained his career BABIP, he would have had a similar season in 2011 as 2010, and his OBP would have gone up a little. He just had a really bad BABIP season. And CitiPark is as bad a pitcher's park as AT&T.

    Huff, similarly, had OK peripherals, down from his career but still good. Bad BABIP again, just like in 2009.

    Both should have a bounceback year as their BABIP reverts to the mean and get them closer to what the projections have for them.

    Belt and Crawford hanging. Right now, with the players we got but without Belt, the offense should be OK, as DrB noted in his recent post and I noted in analyzing what the projected offense should produce and how many wins that work out to based on our expected pitching. So if he hangs, he would be a bonus, a big bonus.

    Crawford was amazingly good with the bat in the majors. Both in terms of avoiding strikeouts plus getting as many walks as strikeouts. Players like that should eventually figure it out and start hitting pretty well, plus he has power that would boost things once that kicks in. The great thing about him is that even if he only hits what he is projected to hit, the offense works to win 90-95 games. And he's projected pretty low too. So he could be a big bonus at the bottom of the lineup. In any case, SS and 8th place hitters in the NL have a very low offensive bar to reach, just to be average.

    Meanwhile, he probably provides the 2 WAR an average player provides just by his defense alone. So as long as he hits as well as a replacement hitter, or thereabouts, we should be fine overall, with potential for bonus should his hitting kicks in as well as his peripherals suggest.

    Melky we are not relying on him to match his 2011. His projections are within career parameters. Also, I noticed that if you blend 2010 and 2011 together, that basically matches his 2009 and his projections. With him at his projection, we can win 90-95 games.

    Like the others, it is a bonus if he hits like 2011, a huge bonus, much like Torres in 2010.

  36. Continuing: Freddy is fragile, that is why it is nice having Fontenot around again. He is projected to hit as poorly as projections say Freddy will hit. And at those projections, again, the Giants win 90-95 games. Fontenot is no Freddy on defense, but he actually was very good at SS in 2011 while bad at 2B, but he had a very good 2008 season there, so I think it was just a bad bout of bad bounces for him in small samples there. Over his career, he's been around average, per the Fielding Bible's Plus/Minus system. Only a small downside to losing Freddy, and we will lose Freddy, as you note.

    Posey returning to form, well, I understand the concern, but all teams have to worry about their best players coming back and playing to form, because if they don't, your team is screwed, because very few teams can replace an All-Star at any position easily.

    I understand that there is the additional worry because of the injury, but I trust guys who can swing the bat, so at worse, I think he could play another position and still hit, and Stewart was brilliant behind the plate last season, he ranked among the leaders in all of baseball even though he hardly played that many games. So yes, worry there, but we have a great backup defensively, and I also like Stewart's bat, his doesn't strike out much plus walk a lot relative to K's, which is more important.

    I feel that he's a late developing catcher at offense, he has a good sense of what to do at the plate, but just not enough experience to capitalize on it yet. I harbor hopes that he could be a very valuable backup at C who can do well enough offensively should we ever lose Posey again. Pair him up with a more offensive-minded catcher and the position would be good (just not Posey good).

    Worrying is fair, but as I outlined above, not so much, really, overall. I would say Posey is the biggest worry, but I think he can slot into almost any position where the player is scuffling and play adequate defense there while providing good offense. All the reports on his health has been positive, so everything is looking good so far. I would say worry about the Giants starting pitcher's health would be second, with the corrolary worry about Zito returning to 2009-10 level of performance (Shankbone is convinced Zito will not produce; I think that given Zito came back and did well for a while last season speaks to his ability to be OK like he was in 2009-10).

  37. Cuddyer was never a good option, and certainly not at the money he got. He hits like Randy Winn but with defense that is bad at any position he plays at. So he is worse than Randy Winn on an overall basis, while being paid like Winn.

    Just because he has played at 2B does not mean that he should play at 2B. He's so bad defensively at 2B that he would have to produce nearly 2 WAR offensively just to get to 0 WAR overall. Playing him at 2B makes as much sense as playing Brett Pill there in 2011.

    In fact, he is so bad at all positions that he should really DH to maximize the value he provides as a player. But in COL, he's going to have to play somewhere.

    He hit .289/.360/.489/.848 in Minnesota and only .255/.327/.415/.742 on the road. He'll be able to duplicate what he hit in Minn in COL but if he were hitting in SF, I think he'll be at or under his road numbers for SF, as AT&T became a pitchers park again in 2011, after many years of being an offensive park. And it was for both LHB and RHB. And at that price and for that defense, that would be a disaster for us in RF, 2B, 3B, LF, 1B, wherever Cuddyer would play for us.

    So Cuddyer was not a good option for us. He may play many positions, but that don't mean he can or should. And at that money ($10.5M per), I would have rather spent that pursuing Beltran, and I'm OK that we passed on Carlos, I like the guys we got, though obviously he would have been a great offensive upgrade over Schierholtz. But I think the defensively upgrade is enough that Carlos was more a want than a need.

  38. It's not like the Giants are dependent on a bunch of guys having career years here. All they have to do is, on average, make their projections which are usually pretty conservative. Obviously, it's unlikely that every player will hit their projection, some will likely do better and some worse, but on average, it's probably a pretty good approximation of how the team will perform. Last year was a perfect storm of injures and career worst years. Yes, it could happen again, but not likely.

  39. Lastly, Barmes vs. Affeldt, I don't even see the comparison. Barmes is just insurance in case Crawford or Franchez don't deliver. At $5M, that is expensive insurance to sit on the bench.

    Affeldt, meanwhile, has been a good pitcher for us. Relievers stats go up and down a lot because of the small sample effect, but he has been very good for us overall, 2.74 ERA over 174.0 IP. And he has pitched in highly leveraged situations for us, 1.3 aLi over his career in SF. That's an important role he filled for us.

    The arguments that we can find someone like him easily is similar to the reasoning I was told to like the Nathan trade, that it would be easy to replace him. As we have seen, it wasn't that easy. Saber's are good with numbers, but when it comes to economic and business analysis, they have been lacking.

    Given Bochy's strong and creative use of the bullpen, both here and in SD, and having Fontenot and then Burriss as backup, for both 2B and SS, I think the bullpen is where the money will return the most bang for the buck, it would be one thing if Barmes was a good hitter but he's not, so why pay all that for him when we already got Crawford? Seems redundant to me and Brandon is much younger and thus more likely to last the season.

  40. I've like Gomes for a while now. Horrible defensively in the OF, though. Presume he is worse at 1B, else they would have moved him there years ago. As a cheap 5th OF, I can go for that, cause with Stewart as backup C, Pill as backup 1B/LF, Burriss and Fontenot as backup MI, then we still have one spot open for a backup OF (or am I missing someone?).

  41. Well, if they get another backup OF, then Belt goes to Fresno. Belt should either be starting or in Fresno though. Huff is going to get his chance to bounce back, probably at 1B. Nate has been designated as the starter in RF, although I suppose that could change. Hard to see where Belt starts unless they make Nate the #4 OF or unless they trade somebody.

  42. The way Sabean and Bochy laid it out, as I understand it, RF is Schierholtz to lose, just like it was in 2010, when Bowker rose up and took RF from Nate.

    So I view that as an opening for Belt to perform and win a starting spot. If he's not starting in the majors, though, I agree that he should be starting in AAA, which is what I think is the Giants plan, to have him start somewhere and get regular ABs.

    I would think that the 5th spot on the bench will also be competed for by Christian and Gillaspie. And any other minor league deals signings they can do by spring training

    Say, what do you think happens with Whiteside and Hector Sanchez in AAA, I would think the Giants would want Hector starting all the time, but if Whiteside is around, the starts would probably be split between the two, right?

  43. Per DrB's point about the ups and downs cancelling each other out, it is very similar to how investors reduce the risk in their portfolio by holding different stocks/assets where they are not similar enough economically where their changes are correlated. The risk (or likelihood) of the overall average being far from projected is lessened by the fact that, as DrB put it, some will likely do better while others do worse, and they will mostly cancel each other out.

    One thing I would note is that the risk is greater the older the lineup. As numerous people have pointed out, Sabean made the lineup younger and yet people are complaining up a storm. Only Huff and Franchez are over 30; Posey, Sandoval, Crawford, Cabrera, Pagan, and Schierholtz are all 30 and under, plus three are 25 and under with Belt and Brown soon to join them. The Giants look relatively likely to make their projections, and should Huff or Franchez not perform, the Giants have Belt and Fontentot in reserve to take their places, respectively. Barring any stupid injury, the Giants should make their lineup projections overall.

    'Tis good times to be a Giants fan.

  44. OGC,

    I have to say I am mystified by the Whiteside re-signing. It seems to me that Hector Sanchez should be in Fresno and Johnny Monell needs to move up from AA while Tommy Joseph and Alex Burg share catching dutes in Richmond. Seems like Whiteside will just be taking AB's away from prospects who need it.

    One explanation I can think of is maybe the Giants and Whiteside are thinking about a longterm relationship with Whitey going into coaching for the organization.

  45. I looked up some articles from the original signing of Affeldt - buried in Baggs report on the signing, in the comments, OGC said this (in nov 2008): Sure, the offense needs a lot of work, but the bullpen was hurting things as well. Between Lincecum and Cain, the bullpen blew around 10 wins most probably

    I don't want to go back to that 2008 pen thank you very much. Saber guys definitely do not appreciate losing Nathan or hanging onto Affeldt. Affeldt has ALWAYS been expensive for the Giants. And he's been a pretty good pitcher as well. Building blocks. The bird in the hand is often worth a bunch more than the 2 in the bush. I'd like to hang onto more prospects and not burn them off in trades as well.

    The Whiteside signing makes no sense at all to me, except as cheap insurance (150K is the minor league portion). Sure, coaching sounds good. What if Hector Sanchez hits enough they justify his 50 starts plus the bat off the bench? That seems logical to me, especially as he is projected right now as a bench guy anyway.

    Good points about Gillaspie/Christian OGC. Maybe they don't even bother for another OF because they have a bunch ready to go in Christian, Blanco and the Oregon State speedster. In a way it makes sense to get your pinch runner type from the 4th OF guy instead of Handy Manny. Power off the bench (and the ability to draw a walk once in a while) is pretty important. I think Connor Jackson is the most likely to be minor league contract/spring training invite accessible, and that 381 OBP vs. lefties looks mighty nice. Any of the RH bat/OF guys can be hidden in LF so defense should be 2nd to power.

    I feel the same about Schierholtz as has been stated: its his job to lose, and that's a kiss of death for the guy. I hope he's training like crazy ready to break out and prove everybody wrong.

  46. Nick Esasky is the 1B whose career ended with his vertigo problems.

    Thanks, calsnowskier!