Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Reds 10 Giants 2

The game was on free MLB TV. I started watching it but quickly figured out that if that was the last place the Giants wanted to be this afternoon, it probably wasn't worth my time to watch it either. I went out and got some yard work done. Key Lines:

Joaquin Arias- 1 for 1, HR. BA= .286. Arias has done everything he could to win a roster spot.

Guillermo Mota- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 2.79. Mota just keeps going and going and.....

Jeff Francis(Reds)- 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K's, GO/AO= 11/4. ERA= 6.65. Francis is not exactly in line for a Cy Young Award any time soon. I have a feeling the Giants are going to struggle against LHP's all season.

Tim Lincecum goes against the BrewCrew tomorrow on getaway day, This Spring training feels like it's been about a week too long already. Time to blow out of Arizona!

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Padres 8 Giants 7

The Giants scored all 7 of their runs in the 5'th inning to overcome a horrendous start by Barry Zito only to lose it late as Sergio Romo had another rough outing. Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 1 for 3, 3B, 2 BB, SB(3), OF assist(Hundley at 3B). BA= .194. Pagan seems to be coming out of his slump just in time. Nice game for a leadoff hitter.

Pablo Sandoval- 2 for 5, HR(4). BA= .258. Pablo seems to be rounding into shape just as spring training is winding down. I guess he's a pretty good argument for ST lasting as long as it does. Gotta think he's poised for a huge season.

Buster Posey- 2 for 5. BA= .324. Buster caught the whole game. Baggs had a pretty good argument for keeping 3 catchers. If the Giants were to find themselves leading(or trailing) by 8 runs in the 7'th inning, do you really want Buster finishing the game because you only have one backup catcher?

Aubrey Huff- 2 for 4. BA= .288. Baggs and Alex seem to think Huff starting out in LF has the tea leaves pointing to Belt staying up as the starting 1B.

Brandon Belt- 1 for 4. BA= .397. Belt gets the start at 1B.

Barry Zito- 3 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 0 K's. ERA= 7.91. I hope Larry Baer was sitting on the front row for this one and got a good whiff of the malodor emanating from the mound.

Dan Otero- 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, GO/AO= 5/0. ERA= 0.90. Otero may have won himself at least a temporary roster spot with this appearance.

Clay Hensley- Hensley threw 4 pitches and came out of the game with "calf tightness." Is he headed for the DL and does that open another spot in the pen to start the season?

Javier Lopez- 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K. ERA= 4.22.

Sergio Romo- 1.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 3 K's. ERA= 6.97. Romo serves up the game winning dinger to Hermida. This is why Bochy tends to use him as a ROOGY and he'll probably never be the closer. I doubt he would have faced Hermida in a regular season game. Gotta also wonder if Romo is completely healthy.

The Giants plan to use the bullpen from the start of today's game against the Reds in Scottsdale.

The roster situation got only slightly less muddy with the release of Mike Fontenot. His Cajun buddy, Theriot, survived the veteran cut day so he's on the team because the Giants now owe him his full contract of a little over $1 M. Dan Runzler, Eric Surkamp, Ryan Vogelsong and Freddy Sanchez were all placed on the DL. Brandon Belt, Brett Pill, Joaguin Arias, Hector Sanchez, Chris Stewart and Eli Whiteside all remain in the running for 4 remaining roster spots.

Around the League:

Josh Collmenter(RHP, Arizona), got lit up by the Angels for 8 runs in 4 IP, and now sports a spring ERA of 11.81

Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer continue to rake for the KC Royals with 2 hits apiece. Gordon hit his 4'th spring HR and Hosmer added his 8'th double. Gordon is hitting .410 and Hosmer .429. both are candidates for breakouts although Gordon sort of broke out last year.

Michael Pineda(RHP, Yankees)- got shelled once again and complained of shoulder soreness. He'll have an MRI. I had PIneda on my fantasy team last year when he was with the Mariners. He was great, but not as good in the second half. I'd be leery of him this year moving from the pitcher paradise of Safeco Field to the launching pad of Yankee Stadium even if he didn't have arm issues.

Juan Pierre(OF, Phillies)- 4 for 5, BA= .358. They're starting to talk about Pierre being the starting LF and leadoff hitter in Philly. That would push my sleeper Mayberry to a bench role. Pierre may not be a bad fantasy option for those chasing SB's.

With Howard and Utley starting the season on the DL, possibly for extended periods, there's talk of Jimmy Rollins hitting cleanup there.

Watch out for Chris Capuano(LHP, LAD)- 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K's. Hate to say it , but he's on my Savvy Vets fantasy team. It's been a long road back for him, but he's an example of how you can find good pitching relatively inexpensively on the market. Another reason I like him: he married a girl who is working on her PhD at Duke. Good for him! He has a rep for being a bit of a bookworm himself.

Matt Moore(LHP, Rays)- 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K's. ERA= 4.50. Moore is a breakout candidate to watch. I missed out on him in my fantasy draft.

Cody Ross hit his 5'th and 6'th HR's of the spring for Boston. We all know Ross is streaky and can get incredibly hot at times. We'll see if this carries over into the season.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Armchair GM: What Does the Future Hold for Matt Cain?

As frantic roster speculation furiously builds to a penultimate conclusion(I know! I'm trying to keep this a family friendly site), another, much more important drama is building, the Matt Cain extension negotiations. First of all, let me say that no one is a bigger Matt Cain fan than I am. I have a ball he autographed for my daughters from his Cal League days. My gameday shirt is a Matt Cain #43(his rookie #). Make no mistake, I WANT the Giants to sing Matt Cain to an extension. I still believe they WILL sign him to an extension.

Much of the discussion has centered around how much Matt Cain and his agents are demanding from the Giants and how much the Giants should sign him for. That's where we get off into uninformed and pointless speculation. If Cain does sign an extension, we will know for how much and how long and can debate that to death. If he does not sign, there will be furious speculation about what he was asking for and how much the Giants offered, but we will never know for sure.

If you were the Giants management, how much would YOU be comfortable paying Matt Cain for a contract extension and for how long? The Giants were on record early as not wanting to go beyond 4 years. We don't really know what Cain's camp is asking for, but it's safe to assume they want more than 4 years. Some reports have them shooting for a 9 figure total package and the Giants offering significantly less than that. It's pretty easy to read into that a difference in length more than salary/yr. One popular number that seems to keep cropping up over and over as a number the fans accept as a "fair" contract is 6 years/$120 M. I decided to analyze this number and see if we can get a handle on whether it is a safe deal from the Giants perspective.

There is an excellent Fanpost over on McCovey Chronicles by Ott entitled Is Matt Cain a Good Investment? I encourage everyone here to read it. I took a very similar approach in a recent Comments discussion and thought it might be worthwhile to repost that information here in case everybody does not read the comments.

One quite accurate way of measuring player value is through a calculated statistic called WAR(Wins Above Replacement). In the current baseball player market, the average market price for players is between $4.5 M and $5 M per WAR. We'll be generous and cover for some Magic Johnson fueled future inflation by rounding it to $5 M/WAR.

Matt Cain has accumulated 25 WAR in 6+ years of pitching. He has been remarkably consistent while putting up WARs between 3.5 and 5.2 over the last 6 seasons for an average of 4 WAR/year. In the process, he has been a workhorse pitching between 190 and 223 IP each season for a total of 1317. By today's valuation, Matt Cain has been worth almost exactly $120 M over the last 6 seasons. Why then, would the Giants hesitate to give him what he "deserves" for the next 6 year? Let's take a look at where Matt Cain will be on several all time lists if he continues to perform at his current level for another 6 years.

As he stands right now at age 27, Cain is #838 on the all time IP list He has 1 year left on the current contract. Assuming he stays healthy for the season, he'll add another 210 IP to his totals. That gets him to 1527 IP and #688 on the all time list. You can see that he is moving up quite fast. In order for him to earn 4 WAR/year for the next 6 years after that, he would have to average >200 IP. Say he duplicates his last 6 year and gets to 1317 again. that would put him at 2844 IP which moves him all the way up to #152. 152 pltchers in the entire history of baseball have pitched more innings than Matt Cain will have by the end of his proposed contract extension of 6 years/$120 M! In another way of looking at it, there are exactly 2 currently active pitchers who have recorded more than 2844 IP in their careers, Livan Hernandez and Tim Wakefield.

Sorry, I can't seem to get the full pages of Baseball Reference to come up right now, so I'll have to do this from memory. At his current 25 WAR, Matt Cain stands at approximately #143 on the all time list. Add 4 WAR/yr X 7 yrs and you get to 53 WAR. That's all the way up to #43 all time. with just 2 currently active pitchers having more, Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay.

Matt Cain is a pretty unique guy. I don't dispute the Tom Seaver comps on bit. Heck, he might put up 5+ WAR/yr over the next 3-4 years and coast beyond 53! If he does that though, he will be challenging some of the elite pitchers in the history of baseball.

While it is imaginable that Matt Cain could give a return value equal to a 6 yr/$120 M extension, the odds are against it. That conclusion is supported by two different measures discussed here and by a different approach to the WAR data reviewed in the McCovey Chronicles Fanpost. While we all might be relieved and happy to see Matt Cain sign such a contract extension, we also might live to see the day when it does not look like such a good thing.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 6 Rangers 2

Matt Cain allowed a pair of solo HR's in 7 innings and the Giants offense put together some run support. Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco- 2 for 5. BA= .348. Blanco has sustained his success over the full spring. He would seem to be a lock for a roster spot.

Ryan Theriot- 1 for 4. BA= .182. Theriot has had a terrible spring. Will his RH bat and Veteran Savvy save him?

Joaquin Arias- 1 for 1, HR(1). BA= .275. Arias is, by far the best fielding option for reserve SS. His bat seems to have gotten stronger as the spring went on. Tough to see how Theriot is a better option right now.

Brandon Belt- 3 for 4, 2 2B. BA= .407. Man oh man! I understand the concerns about Belt's setup at the plate, but do you really mess with something this good? Sending him to Fresno is going to be a tough, tough sell, even for me. All I can say is if they do, then the Giants better get off to a blazing start, or the clamor is going to be deafening.

Matt Cain- 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K's. ERA= 1.74. Cainer was solid. If you don't let runners on base, the dingers don't hurt you that much. I still think we're going to get an announcement on a Cain contract by opening day.

Matt Harrison(Tex)- 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K's. ERA= 1.69. Harrison is a vastly undervalued pitcher in fantasy drafts. I picked him up off the FA market after my draft. I'm expecting big things from him this year with the Savvy Vets fantasy baseball team.

Barry Zito takes the mound against the Padres in Peoria tomorrow. I guess the Giants don't care if the Pads see Zito before the season. Maybe that tells you something about how the Giants view the Padres, or about how they view Zito.

It's getting down to crunch time for the roster. The Giants have to decide by 9:00 AM tomorrow whether to keep The Cajuns. If they keep them beyond that moment, they owe each their full season's salary. If they release them prior, they only have to pay them about 1/3. I think it's pretty safe to assume if they make it past 9 tomorrow, they are on the team to stay.

Bochy indicated that the Giants will carry 12 pitchers despite Vogey starting the season on the DL. Wow! THAT is interesting! with 8 position starters, that leaves 5 position reserves. They have to keep at least 1 reserve catcher and Blanco has the team made, so we're down to 3. The candidates are Belt, Theriot, Fontenot, Arias, Pill and The Hector. I would think Pill is close to a lock for his RH bat. That leaves two. The Giants have all but said Belt is going to Fresno and I think The Hector needs regular AB's more than the Giants need a third catcher on the bench. That gets it down to The Cajuns and Arias for those last 2 spots. I have no idea how it will turn out. Personally, I'd keep Arias' D over Theriot's RH bat. It's not like Arias' stick is anything to apologize for compared to The Riot anyway. Of course, I'm sure the Giants could find an injury in either of the Cajuns, but do they want to pay one of them $1 M to be stashed? Or maybe, just maybe Belts's 3 hits today were enough to change a mind or two? Stay tuned.

Around the League:

Get a load of Anthony Gose's boxscore line today: 0 for 3, BB, 4 SB, 2 R. Toronto beat the BoSox 3-2 and Gose dominated the game with nothing more than his speed. He's going to start the season in the minors, but when he gets called up, fantasy owners who need SB's better be quick on the trigger!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 4 Dodgers 1

The Giants got long balls from Brandon Crawford and Nate Schierholtz and a nice start from Yusmeiero Petit to win the first game of the Dodgers' Showtime Era. Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 1 for 3, 2B. BA= .186. Pagan's second double in two days. Progress!

Nate Schierholtz- 1 for 4, HR(1), Assist(Bard at 3B). BA= .220. Nate's arm is one of his biggest arguments for a starting RF gig. He showed that today as well as the dinger. Is it enough?

Brandon Crawford- 2 for 3, HR(2). Just when I think Crawford is going to go into a prolonged slump, he breaks back out of it. Very encouraging to see a game like this from him this late into the preseason.

Yusmeiro Petit- 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K's. ERA= 0.00. Petit's second impressive appearance this spring. Is it possible he is a post-hype sleeper? I'm trying to remember the old scouting reports on him. I believe it was fringy FB velocity with great command and an excellent changeup. Hey, stranger things have happened. He's still only 27 yo.

Sergio Romo- 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 5.00. Gotta believe something ain't quite right with Romo.

Casilla(0.96), Hensley(2.89), Machi(2.00) all pitched one scoreless inning each. I think Hensley is a lock for the roster. Machi has impressed and is getting a lot of work this spring.

Matt Cain takes on the Texas Rangers in Surprise tomorrow evening.

Madison Bumgarner was held out of the Dodgers game to prevent the division rivals from getting a look at him. He went 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K's in a minor league game.

Around the League:

Latest reports I read say the Magic Johnson group buying the Dodgers are paying cash. I had read earlier this morning that they were borrowing a large portion of it and wanted to use the future TV revenue to service the debt. The Guggenheim Group let by Mark Walters, who is the deep pockets for this deal, is reportedly worth $125 Billion. Yeah, you read that right.

Zach Greinke- 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K's.

Jordan Zimmerman- 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.

Jeff Samardzija- 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K's. Nice recovery from the shelling in his last start. Still in the running for Cubs #5 starter. Fantasy sleeper if he wins it.

Hot Tip: Manager Wins Above Expectancy

Great article in Beyond the Boxscore about quantifying the effectiveness of managers and how you differentiate their ability to manage from the talent of the players on their team. Our very own Bruce Bochy comes out looking very good.

Using Wins Above Expectancy(Pythagorean), Boch ranks as the 19'th best manager Of ALL TIME! You know how I know this is a good measure? Tommy Lasorda comes out as the 11'th WORST! LOL!

Using WAR as the measurement, Boch does even better: #4 ALL TIME!

Yeah, I know it isn't proof and the naysayers will say it's all fuzzy math, they know what the see, but it seems maybe Bochy has taken a whole lot of very unfair criticism.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Angels 5 Giants 3

The Giants offense continued to struggle and they finally fell victim to a big inning late by the Angels. Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 1 for 5, 2B. BA= .179. Well, 1 hit is better than none.

Gregor Blanco- 2 for 4, 2B, 2 SB(11). BA= .356. Is Nate going to lose his job to another spring phenom?

Sandoval and Huff added doubles.

Brandon Belt- 1 for 4. BA= .370. According to Baggs, the Giants aren't thrilled by Belt's setup at the plate and feel he still needs to work on some things despite the lofty spring numbers. Now THAT, is going to get the pitchfork mob going! That Baggs! He is quite the little instigator, isn't he?

Tim Lincecum- 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 4.26. I didn't see the game, but Timmy thought his fastball command was a bit off.

Otero, Mota, Edlefsen- 1 scoreless inning each.

Yusmeiro Petit gets the start against division rival Dodgers tomorrow afternoon in Scottsdale.

Speaking of the Dodgers, a group headed by Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten agreed to purchase the Dogs for $2 Billion, that's right, $2 Billion! Man, did the McCourts get the last laugh out of this or what? Let's just hope there is no money left over to pay players with! Seriously, if Magic Johnson has anything to say about it, the Dodgers will become the Yankees West or the Baseball Lakers. He is all about paying star players lots of money and Showtime and all that.

Around the League:

Freddie Freeman hit two dingers for the second game in a row for the Braves. Woohoo, Savvy Vets!

Alejandro De Aza homered in 4 AB's for the White Sox.

I missed out on Eric Hosmer in my auction draft. Dude is seriously raking with 2 more dingers today.

Mike Napoli blasted a pair too.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 4 Royals 2

Ryan Vogelsong had a successful and healthy spring debut and Pablo Sandoval had a huge day at the plate capped by a walk-off 2 run HR. Key Lines:

Melky Cabrera- 1 for 3, 3B. BA= .380. Melky keeps raking.

Pablo Sandoval- 3 for 5, 2B, HR(3). BA= .236. Pablo's walkoff was against a very good pitcher, Greg Holland, who many people think should be the Royals closer.

Ryan Theriot- 0 for 1. BA= .194. Theriot started the game at SS but had to come out early due to getting hit in the nose by an errant pickoff throw from Vogelsong. Sounds like there was blood everywhere!

Joaquin Arias- 2 for 2, BB. BA= .237. Arias used Theriot's injury to enhance his own chances of winning a roster spot.

Ryan Vogelsong- 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 3.38. Vogey reportedly had his FB up to 93 MPH and looked sharp. Hopefully he just needs to ramp up his innings to get his stamina up.

Affledt(2.89), Wilson(0.00), Lopez(3.00), Hensley(3.24) and Jean Machi(2.25) all pitched a scoreless inning apiece. Romo(4.50) allowed an ER in 1 IP,

Eric Surkamp came up with a sore arm after his last start. An MRI today revealed a flexor tendon strain. He'll be shut down for 2 weeks.

The Giants released Ramon Ortiz and reassigned Andrew Kown, Wlmin Rodriguez, Brian Burres and Shane Loux to minor league camp.

Tim Lincecum faces the Angels tomorrow in Scottdale.

Around the League:

Dustin Ackley tripled and homered against the Yomiuri Giants in Japan.

Jon Lester had a dominant start against the Phillies: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K's.

Dee Gordon had a single and walk and stole his 9'th and 10'th bases of the spring vs the ChiSox.

Kendry Morales went 3 for 4 and is hitting .615 on the spring in a very small sample size.

Garrett Richards' bid to become the Angels' #5 starter suffered a setback: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K's.

Matt Wieters continued his hot hitting going 3 for 4 with a double to raise his spring BA to .282.

Eric Bedard pitched well in a losing cause: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K's.

Joe Nathan lowered his spring ERA to 12.00 with a perfect inning with 2 K's.

It looks like Travis Ishikawa has landed a roster spot with the BrewCrew as he went 2 for 4 with a double and raised his spring slash line to .286/.388/.500.

Scouting the Draft

A new name is emerging as a top college pitcher for draft consideration, Missouri State RHP Pierce Johnson. His line against Creighton on Friday: 9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 16 K. He's a 6'3", 180 lb RHP. Season stats: 2-3, 1.94, 46.1 IP, 16 BB, 66 K's. Missouri State has a reputation for developing pitching prospects. Giants LHP prospect, Mike Kickham, hails from there.

Michael Wacha RHP, Texas A&M, carried a perfect game into the 8'th inning against Pepperdine and ended up with a line of 9 iP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K's. His velocity ranged from 90-96 and held thoughout the game.

Baseball Prospect Report has a video up of a HS 5 tool guy I had only vaguely heard of before. Jameis Winston. Oh my yes! Klima really likes his projectability and so do I. Klima also likes the bat. He compares it to Ron Miller and Trey Williams except it's LH and with a better body.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap White Sox 5 Giants 2

The Giants sent mostly bench players and players fighting for a roster spot to play the White Sox in Glendale, AZ today so it's not surprising they didn't show much of a offense. Also not surprising was the beating the White Sox laid on Barry Zito in a scene not at all unfamiliar to Giants fans. Key Lines:

Chris Dominguez- 1 for 1. BA= .250. Dominguez played RF subbing for Nate. Now THERE's a RF arm for you, Bacci! Not sure how much ground Chris D can cover out there, though.

Melky Cabrera- 0 for 2, BB, Assist(Dunn at 3B). BA= .383. Melky has an arm too. Not sure what Dunn was doing trying to take an extra base. Ah, spring!

Barry Zito- 2.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 3 K. ERA= 6.61! Dismal, just dismal. Back-to-backs from AJP and Alex Rios to boot.

Matt Yourkin- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K. ERA= 1.80. I"m quite sure I'd feel more comfortable with Yourkin as the #5 starter than Zito.

If it's true, as Baggs implies, that ownership has mandated no more eating of contracts, that is just too unfortunate for words. Are they really going to insist on continuing to run Zito out there every 5'th day just to get bombed into oblivion and essentially forfeit 30 games? Do they understand the concept of sunk cost? I really hope Zito has more QS than these stinkers and it doesn't come to that, but I'm not very confident he will.

Ryan Vogelsong makes his spring debut tomorrow against the Royals in Scottsdale. Brian WIlson is scheduled to pitch too.

Around the League:

Freddie Freeman hit two dingers and is now 6 for his last 13 for Atlanta. Savvy Vets is looking good!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Rockies 7 Giants 6

The Giants started Travis Blackley at home against the division rivals to keep them from seeing too much of Matt Cain. The Giants did show some offense and got a nice outing from Yusmeiro Petit who has been somewhat of a mystery man this spring. Key Lines:

Melky Cabrera- 2 for 3, 2B(6). BA= .400. Naw, not gonna drop Melky from my fantasy team.

Buster Posey- 2 for 3, 2B. BA= .318. Buster is looking like he's finding his range at the plate.

Hector Sanchez- 2 for 4, 2B, HR(4). BA= .452. Seriously? Maybe the Giants can find new homes for both Whiteside and CStew and just let The Hector be the backup catcher. Probably the smarter thing to do is let him play every day in Fresno, but this kid is ready and is going to be a good starting catcher in the majors someday.

Mike Fontenot- 2 for 3. BA= .310 I guess these roster decisions are a good problem to have, but this is going to be nail-biting.

Carter Jurica- 2 for 2, 2B. BA= 1.000. Nice appearance by Jurica who has been kind of a forgotten prospect. He may be the starting 2B for San Jose.

Joaquin Arias- 2 for 5. BA= .212. Baggs seems to think the Giants may be impressed enough with Arias to want him as the backup SS and that is why they are trying to trade The Cajuns.

Brett Pill- 2 for 2, 2B(5). BA= .313. Pill seems like a lock to make the team.

Yusmeiro Petit- 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K. ERA= 0.00. Nicely done by the one time hot prospect.

Barry Zito takes the mound for the Giants tomorrow on the road against the White Sox.

Jayson Stark(ESPN) is reporting the Giants are actively shopping both Mike Fontenot and Ryan Theriot. According to Alex Pavlovic, the key to this may actually be Joaquin Arias. That would make some sense as he seems like an excellent defensive SS and none of Theriot, Fonty or Burriss seems like an adequate backup defensively.

Around the League:

Ryan Madson will be undergoing TJ surgery and is out for the year, a major blow to the Reds. The whole story with him and the Phillies and Scott Boras and them pulling their offer and now just seems like something isn't quite right. What spooked the Phillies? Madson never threw a pitch in a game this spring.

Henderson Alvarez allowed just 1 hit in 5 innings against the BoSox.

Matt Wieters went 4 for 4 with a 3 run dinger and 6 Ribeyes for the Baltimore Orioles.

Joe Nathan struggled once again for Texas against the Angels.

Jeremy Hellickson got lit up by the Twins in a spring training start.

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 6 Reds 4

The Giants offense came to life today as they scored a total of 12 runs in the two split squad games. This one featured 5 shutout innings from Matt Cain. Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco- 1 for 5, HR(1). BA= .373. Blanco showed he can occasionally muscle up and hit one out. Good for keeping those pitchers honest.

Brandon Belt- 3 for 4, BB, 2B(5). BA= .380. With each passing day, it is becoming more obvious that Belt needs to be kept on the active roster and needs to be in the starting lineup. I like how it's not just HR or nothing. He's stroking the ball for singles and doubles too.

Nate Schierholtz- 2 for 3, BB. BA= .250. Bochy had a talk with Nate that supposedly helped him. Not sure what he could have said. What he said to the press sounded an awful lot like a vote of no-confidence.

Justin Christian- 2 for 4, 2B, SB(2). BA= .242. Probably too little too late. Maybe he can showcase his talents for another team, or make an impression on the manager in case a callup is needed later in the season?

Matt Cain- 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K's. ERA= 1.32. Cainer seems ready to start the season. Now, let's get that contract done!

Wilmin Rodriguez(1.69), Dan Otero(1.29), Jean Machi(2.57)- 1 shutout inning apiece. Spring ERA's are in parentheses. Bullpen insurance for the future?

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Rangers 4 Giants 1

This was another disappointing day for the offense and I have to say I'm starting to get a little worried. Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 0 for 4. BA= .205. At least he didn't strike out. Let's hope this slump gets it all out of his system before the games start to count!

Brett Pill- 1 for 1, HR(3). BA= .283. I'm guessing Pill has made the team as the Giants desperately need his RH bat.

Brandon Belt- 2 for 3, BB. BA= .348. Gotta think Belt has made the team too, even if it means Nate has to go.

Brandon Crawford- 1 for 3. BA= .333. Crawford keeps plugging away at the plate. Once again, any offense from him is a plus.

Emmanuel Burriss- 2 for 3. CS(3). BA= .436. I think Burriss should be the starting 2B, but he should not be getting thrown out this much.

Madison Bumgarner- 5.2 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K's. ERA= 2.21. That WHIP is not going to help my fantasy team, but it was an effective, if not quite quality start.

Giants play split squad games today. Matt Cain goes against the Reds on the road and Travis Blackley takes on the Rockies in Scottsdale. Now THAT could be ugly! Cain would ordinarily pitch the home game, but it's against a division rival.

Around the League:

Jeff Samardzija's bid to become a starter may have gone up in flames with a horrendous start for the Cubs.

Joba Chamberlain's star-crossed career and life suffered another big blow when he almost amputated his foot while jumping on a trampoline with is son. A trampoline? Really? Guys! Do not, and I mean do not, ever jump on a trampoline! Anyway, he dislocated the ankle and broke the skin. He reportedly suffered a life threatening amount of blood loss and underwent emergency surgery. Yikes!!

Fantasy Focus: Savvy Vets 2012 Fantasy Auction Draft

I really like how the auction draft for my fantasy team, the Savvy Vets, turned out, although it veered way off script from the very beginning. I was able to recover late in the draft and get almost all of the pitchers I had targeted right about the price I had budgeted. Here's the roster with some commentary. I'm sorry I was too distracted to keep track of the auction prices and that information is now unavailable on Yahoo. I will go ahead and give you prices as closely as I can remember, but they may not be exact and may not add up to $260.

C Matt Wieters $14. It was about midway through the draft. I thought I still had enough money left to bid up to $15 on a catcher. Got Wieters for $14 which I think is good value. Even if his career trajectory plateaus, he's a good source of HR power and he has huge breakout potential.

1B Prince Fielder $30. I did not envision drafting Prince Fielder in any of my scripted scenarios. I was trying to bid up his price and was willing to risk up to $30. I think Prince Fielder at $30 is a good value.

2B Dustin Ackley $6 I wanted Howie Kendrick, but some guy's autodraft bid him up to $20. I'm not wild about Ackley, but I think I'd rather have him at $6 than Kendrick at $20, besides, I couldn't afford to pay $21 for Kendrick at that point.

3B Jose Bautista $45 I think everybody was nervous at the beginning of the draft and were afraid to bid. Miggy Cabrera had gone for $43. There was a group of about 7 players who I was willing to pay up to $50 for. Bautista was one of them. I was mostly trying to bid up his price here, but ended up holding him. BTW, in case you are wondering, Kemp, Tulo and Braun all went for more than $50, so I think I did OK with Bautista.

SS Dee Gordon $10 Wow! This one was totally out of the blue! With Bautista and Fielder as my big guns, I needed steals, and lots of them, from either a middle IF position or OF. There are 3 rabid Dodger fans in my league and they all tend to overvalue steals, so I figured he'd end up way overpriced. I think maybe some bidding fatigue had set in and people were starting to worry about conserving $$ for later in the draft. Whatever the case, I took a flyer at $10 almost on a lark and ended up solving my SB problem with one draft pick. Now I just have to hope his frame will hold up to the physical rigors of MLB.

IF Pablo Sandoval $20. Got Pablo after all and at a very reasonable price.

OF Andrew McCutchen $25. I'm not as wild about McCutchen as some people, but he does have 5 tool stud potential and at worst is as reliable a 20/20 man as you can get.

OF Melky Cabrera $4 We've talked about Melky before. Got him right about the price I expected which I think grossly undervalues him. Let's just hope his bat does not get Giants disease! If not, he should be at least a 15/15 guy with potential for 20/20.

OF Alejandro De Aza $3 De Aza should be the starting CF and leadoff hitter for the White Sox which could give him as much as 700 PA's. If he performs up to his projections, he'll easily be a top 20 OF. At worst, he's a cheap secondary source of steals which I needed more than power at this point.

UT Freddie Freeman $6 Not sure of the exact price here, but it was mid-single digits. Freeman is a very underrated hitter by most fantasy players. Should give at least 20-25 HR's with a solid BA. Maybe not what you want from a 1B, but great from a UT position.

UT David Ortiz $3 Should give me at least 25-30 HR's with 90+ RBI to back up Joey Bats and The Prince. A steal at $3 IMO.

SP Zack Greinke $30. After running through multiple scenario's and reviewing my mock draft results, I decided I could afford one pitcher for up to $30. I targeted Haren and Grienke. The bidding went over $30 for Haren, but I like what I ended up with in Greinke.

SP Madison Bumgarner $15 I budgeted $15 for my #2 starter and targeted Bum, Darvish and Matt Moore. Darvish and Moore probably have more upside, but Bumgarner's upside is not too shabby either and he's much more of a sure thing.

SP Ricky Romero $8 I think so many fantasy sites have proclaimed Romero to be overvalued that he has actually become undervalued. Should help my with W's, ERA and WHIP. K's aren't as bad as some make them out to be.

SP Cory Luebke $6 This is right where I targeted him.

SP Brandon Beachy $6 A little under my target price.

RP Kyle Farnsworth $4 Not the safest closer in the world, but he made it through all last season.

RP Brian Wilson $12. Got into a bidding war with a Dodger fan on this one. Yeah, I overpaid. You know what? I don't care!

RP Joe Nathan $5 Nathan will probably either blow up or get injured, but hey, in my league, you either pay for Saves or you punt the category completely. I tried that once and made up my mind to never do that again.

P Grand Balfour $1 I'm thinking the rest of my league must have missed the memo about Balfour being named the A's closer. Every other semblance of a closer went for >$1.

P Vinnie Pestano $1 I'm thinking there's at least a 50% chance Pestano will be the closer in Cleveland by the time playoffs come around. If not, he certainly doesn't hurt you in non-Save categories.

BN Jordan Zimmerman $4 Zimm as my 6'th starter? Pretty good!

BN Brandon Morrow $4 At worst, gives you lots of K's. Has huge upside in other categories.

BN Ervin Santana $3 IMO, one of the most undervalued pitchers in fantasy baseball.

BN Chris Capuano $3 I might need to replace him before the season is over, but he's a solid source of K's and W's when healthy.

BN Trevor Cahill $1 This was a mistake! I had one slot left to fill and had $5 left. I intended to nominate Francisco Liriano here but somehow clicked on the wrong guy. It was getting late and I think fatigue was setting in or something. We get free adds/drops until opening day. I've already replaced Cahill, who I really don't like at all, with Matt Harrison who I think is very underrated.

I ended up with $4 left over.

I'll be monitoring Henderson Alvarez, Juan Nicasio, Hector Noesi, Carlos Zambrano and Garrett Richards as possible adds once we get into the season. Another sleeper? Alfredo Aceves if he wins a rotation spot in Boston.

Well, that's how it shook out. After reviewing the other rosters in my league, I think I have a strong team. There is only one other team I think is definitely stronger and I think my pitching is better.

What do you think?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Rockies 7 Giants 0

This was a game that pretty much proves spring training is too long. Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson pitched in minor league games while none of the pitchers the Giants sent to Salt River Fields has a ghost of chance of making the MLB club. Not that it would have mattered as the Giants committed 4 errors and mustered just one hit in a game that was probably more detrimental than helpful in getting ready for the season. At least it doesn't count! Key Lines:

There were no key lines in this game!

Tim Lincecum threw 91 pitches with the San Jose Giants. He reportedly was getting his fastball up but had good secondary stuff.

Brian Wilson threw 15 pitches in a minor league game and reportedly was hitting the mid-upper 90's with the heater with no reported problems.

Next Up: Madison Bumgarner faces the Rangers in Scottsdale in a might game.

Savvy Vets fantasy auction draft tonight at 8:30 PM. I'll give a complete breakdown afterwards.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 5 Indians 3

The Giants got a another solid start from Erick Surkamp and a 3 run dinger from Brett Pill to top the Tribe. Key Lines:

Buster Posey- 2 for 4. BA= .294. Buster DH'd today.

Brett Pill- 1 for 3, HR(2), BB. BA= .273. Long before Moneyball was written or anyone had heard of OBP or SLG%, a very smart manager named Earl Weaver said that baseball games are won by pitching and 3 run homers. In recent years, the Giants have not tended to get on base much or hit many HR's, so they have not had many 3 run HR's. Of course, they won the World Series anyway, but 3 run HR's are still a very good thing.

Brandon Crawford- 1 for 2, BB. BA= .333. Crawford is not quite as hot as at the beginning of ST, but he's still holding his own.

Hector Sanchez- 2 for 2, 2B. BA= .480. If Buster is going to need a lot of days off, my druthers would be to keep The Hector as the backup catcher.

Eric Surkamp- 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 Ks'. ERA= 4.41.

Edlefsen, Lopez and Casilla all pitched scoreless frames. Hensley allowed a run in his inning of work.

Brian Wilson was scheduled to pitch and got scratched due to "general arm soreness." I have to say I don't have a high degree of confidence in anything BWillie or the Giants have to say about his arm. He's supposed to pitch tomorrow in a minor league game.

Tim LIncecum takes the mound tomorrow evening facing the Rockies and Jamie Moyer.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap D'Backs 4 Giants 3

Barry Zito struggled with his control, but kept his team close for 5 innings only to see them lose on a walkoff HR by D'Backs prospect AJ Pollock. Key Lines:

Melky Cabrera- 2 for 4. BA= .410.

Buster Posey- 1 for 2, SF. BA= .231. Buster needs AB's, IMO.

Gregor Blanco- 1 for 3, BB, 2 SB(9). BA= .436. Looks like Blanco has all but won himself a roster spot.

Ryan Theriot- 1 for 2, 2B, BB. BA= .219. Theriot's RH bat off the bench may win him a roster spot despite a lackluster spring.

Barry Zito- 5 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 3 K's. ERA= 4.50. Fairly ugly line from Zito, but came wihin 1 inning of a QS and kept his team in the game. I wouldn't count on him stranding this many runners very often though.

Jeremy Affeldt and Heath Hembree each pitched a perfect inning with no K's.

Trevor Bauer(D'Backs)- 3 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 3.60. I think a lot of Giants fans think Bauer is going to be great because he is so much like Timmy. He may be, eventually, but looks like he still has some learning to do.

Nate Schierholtz was a late scratch due to forearm stiffness. That's a phrase that seems to often lead to TJ surgery in pitchers. Nate's seems minor though as the word is he is going to play tomorrow. Nate does seem to keep getting nicked up, though.

Eric Surkamp takes the mound for possibly his last start of the spring with Vogey coming back against the Cleveland Indians tomorrow.

College Corner: Weekend Lines for Draftable Players

Marcus Stroman and Kyle Zimmer raised their draft stock this weekend while Travis Jankowski and Peter O'Brien raised theirs on the offensive side of the ledger.

Marcus Stroman, RHP, Duke: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 13 K's. This performance came against Miami which provides excellent competition. Stroman's stock had to take a giant leap with this game.

Kyle Zimmer, RHP, USF: 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 11 K's. Maybe too many walks?

Brian Johnson, LHP, Florida: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K's. Polished college lefty does not fit the mold of Giants first round pitching draftees.

Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU: 8.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 11 K's. Another elite pitching prospect. Walks?

Pat Light, RHP, Monmouth: 9 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 13 K's. Small program, so wonder about the competition. Scouting reports would be the deciding factor here.

Andrew Heaney, RHP, Oklahoma St.: 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K's. Don't know much about him. Gonna have to find out more. ERA= 0.92.

Kyle Hansen, RHP, St. John's: 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K's.

Martin Agosta, RHP, St Mary's: 8 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 8 K's.


Preston Tucker, OF, Florida: 4 for 11, 3B, 2 HR(8), SB(2). BA= .321.

Peter O'Brien, C, Miami: 6 for 12. BA= .389.

Jeremy Baltz, OF, St. John's: 5 for 11, HR(3), 4 SB(6).

Travis Jankowski, OF, Stony Brook: 6 for 10, 3 2B(7), HR(1), 3 SB(10. BA= .354.

Tyler Naquin, OF, Texas A&M: 3 for 11, 2B(6), HR(1), SB(9). BA= .418.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Padres 5 Giants 1

Madison Bumgarner benefitted from the Giants remarkable defense, but the offense sputtered while the Padres pulled ahead in the later innings as the Giants spring record went to 11-5. Key Lines:

Emmanuel Burriss- 2 for 2, 3B, BB, SB(5). BA= .441. We know Burriss is not going to hit .400 in the season, but I think he is finally capable of posting a solid OBP and using his speed on the bases. He also has developed into a superior fielding second baseman and can play multiple positions. He should definitely win a roster spot and I think he should be the starter at 2B in the increasingly likely event that Franchez isn't able to answer the bell on opening day.

Madison Bumgarner- 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 2.45. Bumgarner didn't seem that sharp. Maybe he was practicing pitching to contact a la Timmy. He greatly benefitted from a couple of DP's and a pickoff by CStew of a runner at 3B. With this Giants wonderful defense, why not pitch to contact more, as long as you can keep it in the ballpark.

The Giants have tomorrow off.

Around the league:

Eric Hosmer went 3 for 3 with a HR for KC. He's now hitting in the high .300's. Hope his fantasy stock isn't rising too much.

Alex Gordon continues to have a hot bat for KC also.

Francisco Liriano pitched 5 no-hit innings for the Twins with 6 K's and just 1 Walk.

Matt Moore got roughed up today by Boston.

Clay Bucholz is having a strong spring. He allowed just 1 run in 5 IP with 4 K's and 0 Walks against the Rays.

Mike Minor pitched 5 shutout innings today against Baltimore. His ERA is 0.00 on the spring so far.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 3 Dodgers 3

In a rather desultory affair, the Giants and Dodgers played to a 3-3 tie on a windy night in Glendale, AZ. Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco- 2 for 4, 2B, SB(7). BA= .444. Blanco continued to state his case for a roster spot with a fine day at the plate and a nice diving catch in left-center that proved to be the play that prevented the Dodgers from winning this one.

Brandon Crawford- 0 for 3. BA= .348. Crawford handled numerous chances at SS with aplomb. He had a rough night at the plate taking 2 called third strikes. He did work the count well and took some healthy looking cuts. That's going to happen to selective hitters sometimes.

Brandon Belt- 1 for 3, HR(3), SF. BA= .371. The dinger was really a pop-up to LF that the wind blew out of the park. The SF was actually a much better AB as he did exactly what he was supposed to do to get the game tying run home. Belt also looked like he could cover some ground in LF, in one case cutting off a ball in the corner to turn a potential double into a single. He also dug anther ball out of the corner and made a nice throw to the relay man to nail Trent Oeltjen foolishly trying to stretch a double into a triple in a tie game.

Brian Burres- 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 0 K. ERA- 2.25. Burres kept the Dodgers off balance with a mix of cutters, curveballs and changeups. Trevor Wilson taught him the cutter way back in San Jose and it's what's enabled him to hang around the fringes of MLB. He might not have made it above A ball without it.

Andrew Kown- 2.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 K's. ERA= 4.15. Kown was impressive in his first inning of work pounding the strike zone with a heavy downhill FB that looked like it was going at least in the low 90's. His command got ;progressively shakier the longer he was out there.

Matt Yourkin- 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K's. ERA= 2.25. Impressive outing for Yourkin. I'd have confidence in him for an emergency start or two if it came to that.

Madison Bumgarner goes against the Padres and Edinson Volquez tomorrow in Scottsdale, weather permitting.

Around the League: Jake Peavy pitched 5 scoreless innings for the White Sox and looked impressive in the process. Ubaldo Jimenez got lit up like a Christmas tree pitching for the Cleveland Indians.

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 7 A's 2

Tim Lincecum appeared to be ready to start the season and the Giants hitters broke out the long ball in the middle innings to make this one a romp in the desert. Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 2 for 4, HR(1), SB(2). BA= .300. Some commenter on another site said Pagan was having a terrible spring. Well, not anymore, he isn't!

Melky Cabrera- 1 for 3, 2B(5). BA= .400. Melky was a doubles machine last year. I'm thinking some of those turn into triples in AT&T park.

Pablo Sandoval- 1 for 3, HR(2), SF. BA= .242. Pablo goes DEEEEP! The BA will be much better in season.

Nate Schierholtz- 1 for 3, 2B, Assist(Ka'aihue at home). Nate has had a quiet spring, but got to show off his arm today and added a double.

Ryan Theriot- 1 for 4, HR(1). BA= .200. I'm sure this dinger will go a long ways toward cementing a roster spot.

Tim Lincecum- 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K's. ERA= 4.50. Timmy looks like he's ready to start the season, although a split squad A's lineup is probably not a good test.

Brian Wilson- 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 0.00. The first hiccup for BWillie. The 2 K's would indicate there isn't much to worry about here.

Javy Lopez and Santiago Casilla each pitched a scoreless frame.

It's raining cats and dogs here in SoCal today. Hope the weather holds out in Arizona long enough for me to see the Giants-Dodgers tilt on TV tonight. Brian Burres takes the mound for the Giants. The Brandons, Burriss and Blanco and well as Hector Sanchez and Brett Pill should be in this one. Heath Hembree is slated to pitch in this game too. I wonder what other prospects we might see?

Fantasy Focus: Savvy Vets Mock Auction Draft

The Savvy Vets fantasy baseball team participated in a mock auction draft today just to find out how it works and get a feels for the dynamics of it. It was a 10 team mock draft with 23 roster spots and a budget of $260. Here are the results with some commentary to follow:

C Brian McCann $2
1B Pablo Sandoval $25
2B Dustin Ackley $12
3B Brett Lawrie $20
SS Jimmy Rollins $5
OF Ryan Braun $50
OF Desmond Jennings $20
OF Michael Morse $12
UT Eric Hosmer $5
UT Drew Stubbs $5
SP Madison Bumgarner $5
SP Yu Darvish $5
RP Craig Kimbrel $20
RP John Axford $2
P Matt Moore $2
P Heath Bell $1
P Brandon Beachy $5
P Brian Wilson $1
BN Jordan Zimmerman $1
BN Brandon Morrow $2
BN Cory Luebke $1
BN Ubaldo Jimenez $1
BN Ervin Santana $2

Total Cost $204

Wow! These guys spent money like drunken sailors early in the draft. I never dreamed that I wouldn't be able to give money away at the end, although it was nice to be in complete control of the last third of the draft.

I initially identified 7 players I was willing to spend as much as $50+ on, Matt Kemp, Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Braun, Albert Pujols, Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Bautista, Joey Votto, but I was only willing to spend that much on one player. If I landed one, great. If not, well, there were 7 teams with $50+ less to spend later in the draft. I ended up with Braun out of that little plan.

My next tier was Sandoval and Lawrie. I was torn between which one to target for my 3B, but then decided I could go after both and one could be a utility guy. I forgot that Pablo has 1B eligibility. I had figured I might have to go as high as $30 apiece on them, so I waited, and waited, and waited some more. After landing both for a total of $45, I knew I was in good shape the rest of the draft.

In retrospect, I think I bid up Ackley from $9 to $12 too soon, but I like Ackley and $12 is not an unreasonable price for him. His name came up quite early in the draft, so I didn't know everybody else was going to run out of money so soon. I was not going to go higher than $15 for him.

I got into a mini bidding war for Jennings, but at that point I had money to burn. I wasn't going to go higher than $20 though. Turned out it was enough. I needed the steals and his upside is huge.

It looked like I had a choice between Rollins and Gordon at SS. I was tempted by Gordon but felt like I had enough steals already and wanted a more balanced hitter so took Rollins for $5 which is way less than I would have predicted he would cost. My fallback options were Aviles, Scutaro and Alcides Escobar, so I felt pretty good about Rollins.

Beyond Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli, most managers waited until the late rounds after they were out of money to draft a catcher. McCann for $2 is a ridiculous bargain, IMO. I was willing to pay that much for Ryan Doumit!

I figure I got about 15/15 with a good BA from Hosmer and 15/30 with not such a good BA from Stubbs to fill in my utility positions.

In retrospect, I probably waited too long to start drafting pitchers. I started out planning to follow my Starting Pitching on a Budget blueprint and target Brandon Beachy as my first pick. Had 3 pitchers, MadBum, Darvish and Moore penciled in off the to side to target earlier if the draft was going well and I wanted to have money to spend on closers. Well, as it turned out, the draft was going TOO well, so I jumped in by outbidding someone for Kimbrel and jumped into the SP fray at MadBum. Kimbrel was the only pitcher I spent more than $5 on and MadBum and Beachy were the only ones I spend more than $2 on. Crazy! In retrospect, I could have targeted one of several top tier SP's such as Kershaw, Halladay or CC and still had enough to get Kimbrel, MadBum etc.

Much as I love Timmy and Matt Cain. They went for $30+ and $23 respectively. I consider MadBum to be every bit as good and I got him for $5!

Some things to remember:

1. My league has 26 man rosters with the same budget of $260, so I have 3 more slots to fill.
2. The guys in my league are probably a lot smarter and craftier than the guys in this mock draft.
3. Guys are more likely to break their bank of a favorite player in a mock draft that has no consequences than a real one they have to live with for a full season.

What do you think of my mock draft? What suggestions do you have for adjustments in strategy?

Fantasy Focus: League Settings

I play in a Head-to-Head league(H2H) which I really like. The purist in me would prefer Roto, but I think it would get really boring by the end of the season.

The standard stat line for most fantasy league is 5X5, 5 offensive categories(BA, R, HR, RBI, Steals) and 5 pitching categories(W, K, ERA, WHIP, Saves). Those actually work quite well, IMO, but there are a couple of annoyances.

Offensive Categories:

1. Undervalue walks

2. Don't even count doubles and triples unless you figure you get the downstream benefit in R and RBI's.

3. Overvalue Steals

4. 4 counting stats with only 1 rate stat.

Pitching Categories:

1. Overvalue Wins

2. ERA and WHIP somewhat redundant. Sometimes they diverge, but most of the time if you win one, you win the other.

3. Overvalues Saves.

If you were the commissioner of a fantasy league and could install any setting you wanted, would you just got with the standard settings(which aren't as bad as I make it sound here), or would you customize it to better reflect the real values of the game.

Adding a couple of categories and going 7X7 would help to correct the overvaluing of Saves and Steals.

You could add a couple of rate stats to the offensive side, OBP and SLG% and replace HR with Total Bases. The probems with the resulting settings would be redundancy between SLG% and Total Bases as well as BA/OBP and possibly undervaluing HR's.

On the pitching side you could add Quality Starts and Holds. This would add a lot of value to setup relievers who have become a huge part of the real game, but are essentially non-entities in most fantasy leagues. It would also add value to good starting pitchers independent of how much run support they get from their team. Wins and QS might be a bit redundant though. You still have the redundancy in ERA and WHIP, but those give you a couple of rate stats to balance out all the counting stats.

In summary, my proposed 7X7 league settings would be:

Offense: BA, OBP, SLG%, R, Total Bases, RBI, Steals.

Pitching: W, QS, ERA, K, WHIP, Holds, Saves.

Q: Could you replace WHIP with Fewest Walks? I don't know if you could do this, but you have lowest ERA and WHIP being categories that seem to work, so you should be able to do it with Walks.

What do you think? What settings would you choose if you were a commissioner?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 3 Cubs 2

The Giants played, well, a pretty typical Giants game today edging the Cubbies 3-2. Key LInes:

Buster Posey- 1 for 2, BB. BA= .182. Hopefully Buster is starting to get his timing and swing down. He has a HR, single and BB in what, his last 5 PA's?

Emmanuel Burriss- 2 for 2, 2B, SB(4), CS. BA= .414. The GIants appear to want Burriss to win a job this spring. So far, he has done everything he could to make them happy. Cut down day is going to get mighty interesting!

Eric Surkamp- 4 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K's. ERA= 4.78. Surkamp got roughed up a bit in his first spring start, but has been solid since with 11 K's against just 2 BB with 3 ER in 10 IP. Very encouraging that the Giants have a solid 6'th starter option in the wings.

Jeremy Affeldt- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. ERA= 1.50. Affeldt got hit a bit in his first 2 appearances of the spring but has been solid in his last 4 outings.

Clay Hensley- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. ERA= 2.25. Hensley is a lock for the last bullpen slot. I have a feeling he is going to play a big role in the Giants' success this year.

The Giants play a split squad pair tomorrow with Tim Lincecum facing the A's in Scottsdale in the afternoon and Brian Burres facing the Dodgers at their complex in the evening.

There are some nice interesting Fanposts over on McCovey Chronicles by Shankbone on draft eligible college players and another about a recent Fangraphs chat by Mike Newman in which "Nivra" asked a whole lot of questions about Giants prospects which Newman obviously did not know much about. He failed to scout Augusta last year because a buddy told him there were no prospects there.

There's a nice article in BA about international signings by NL West teams. Good to read that the Giants are still active on that front. Speedy CF Carlos Valdez($325 K) and power hitting 3B Anthony Gomez($200 K) sound interesting. Royel Astacio($150 K) also got a mention. We all know about Adalberto Mejia($350 K), but I had not heard of RHP Keury Mella($275 K) who is 6'2", 190 lbs and throws 92-93 MPH.

Around the League: Chase Utley(Phillies) has yet to play in a game this spring and continues to have severe arthritis issues of the knees.

David Wright(Mets) seems to have a torn abdominal muscle. He missed time last year with those can take forever to heal. I'd stay away from him in fantasy drafts.

Scott Baker(Twins) is reportedly having a recurrence of elbow issues that sidelined him for much of the second half last year.

Sleeper Alert: Garrett Richards struck out 6 batters in 4 innings for the Angels today. He's trying to win the 5'th starter spot in the Angels rotation. Richards was another of the high velocity-low walk pitchers in the recent Fangraphs article about projecting future success. Pitching in front of the Angels' lineup could result in a nice number in the W column as well as the other stat categories, even from a #5 starter!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 7 Mariners 5

The Giants got a solid start from Barry Zito and big games from The Brandons in a win over the Mariners in a night game in Peoria. Key Lines:

Freddy Sanchez- 2 for 4. BA- .286. Freddy's bat seems to be ready, but the shoulder continues to be balky.

Brandon Belt- 3 for 5, 2B. BA= .375. Belt got the start at 1B. His double was off the LHP Kuo, although Kuo seems to have completely lost it.

Brandon Crawford- 1 for 2, HR(1), BB. BA= .400. Crawford went deep on Kuo also.

Barry Zito- 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K's. ERA= 4.00. Not that the Mariners are going to put a scare in many pitchers, but if Zito can just pitch like this all year and maybe rack up some QS's, it would be a huge boost to the Giants chances of making it back to the playoffs.

Heath Hembree- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, Save. ERA= 1.80. It doesn't count, but is this the first of many Saves for Hembree with the Giants?

George Sherrill(Seattle)- 1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 9.00. The Giants should have signed Sherrill instead of wasting their money on Afflelt! Yeah, I don't think so!

Eric Surkamp gets to show off what he has again tomorrow against the Cubs and Matt Garza. Buster Posey is expected to catch.

Fantasy Focus: Rotation on a Budget

Right now, I'm obsessed with fantasy auction values and how to build a roster on a budget. I've always believed in having strong pitching in fantasy baseball. Fortunately, I've been more successful in finding good pitchers than good hitters. One strategy I have used with quite a bit of success is to fill my bench with starting pitchers and use it as a rotation extender. With 5 starters, 5 bench spots and 2 P spots, I have to potential to have a 12 man pitching rotation. Since there are no innings limits in H2H and a staff of strikeout pitchers, I can pretty much guarantee a W in the K column every week. I let W's, ERA and WHIP take care of themselves after that. It's hard to beat a small rotation that has a great week and runs up and ERA of under 3. On the other hand, with so many innings, on bad start does not sink your week. You have the innings to buffer it.

With $260 to spend on a 26 man roster including bench players, you could budget as much as $120 on those 12 pitchers, but then you would probably get badly outbid on the offensive side of the ledger and would not have anything left for closers/Saves. So, the challenge here is to build a 12 man rotation while not spending more than $10 on any 1 pitcher. What kind of a rotation would you end up with and would it be competitive? I'll use the Average Yahoo Price as my cost and last year's stat line as my results just to keep it quick and dirty.

1. Brandon Beachy, ATL. $8.7 141.2 IP, 7 W, 169 K, 3.68 ERA, 1.21 WHIP Should be a starter all year which would add to the K and W totals.

2. Jordan Zimmerman, Wash. $6.9. 161.1 IP, 8 W, 124 K, 3.18 ERA, 1.15 WHIP. No innings limit this year.

3 Cory Luebke, SD. $6.4. 139.2 IP, 6 W, 154 K's, 3.29 ERA, 1.07 WHIP. Innings should rise here too.

4. Ubaldo Jimenez, Cle. $5.4. 188.1 IP, 10 W, 180 K, 4.68 ERA, 1.40 WHIP. Ubaldo's velocity is reportedly looking good. Still has the strong K/9. Good candidate for bounceback and a great risk at this price.

5. Ervin Santana, LAA. $3.3. 228.2 IP, 11 W, 178 K, 3.38 ERA, 1.22 WHIP. Very underrated fantasy pitcher. I got him late in last year's draft and he was solid all year. Even gave me a no-no one week! At $3.3 he's a huge bargain.

6. Derek Holland, Tex. $2.2. 198 IP, 16 W, 162 K, 3.95 ERA, 1.35 WHIP. I don't usually chase Wins, but at $2.2, it's worth the risk and he can be tremendous in any given week.

7. Bud Norris, HOU. $1.3. 186 IP, 176 K, 3.77 ERA, 1.33 WHIP. Great source of K's and learning to control his great stuff.

8. Scott Baker, Min. $1.2. 134.2 IP, 8 W, 123 K, 3.14 ERA, 1.17 WHIP. Very solid numbers from an established pitcher. Appears to be healthy and should be good for more IP.

9. Henderson Alvarez, TOR. $1.2. 63.2 IP, 1 W, 40 K, 3.53 ERA, 1.13 WHIP. There was a very convincing article in Fangraphs about a month ago on how high velocity + low walk rates = pitching success. Alvarez has extreme groundball rates to boot. He won't be a K stud, but but when you carry 12 starters, you don't necessarily need every one to have a high K rate. Based on that article, I'll take a chance on a $1-2 investment for my 9'th starter.

10. Juan Nicasio, Col. $-. 71.2 IP, 4 W, 58 K, 4.14 ERA, 1.27 WHIP. Nicasio was the other guy mentioned in the Fangraphs article. He suffered a fearsome injury on a comebacker last year, but appears to be fully recovered this spring. Isn't even being drafted in most leagues.

11. Eric Bedard, Pit. $1.1. 129.1 IP, 5 W, 125 K's, 3.62 ERA, 1.28 WHIP. Bedard is a poor bet to stay healthy, but if he does, he'll likely put up very good numbers. If he gets injured again, so what? I didn't spend much on him and can replace him from the FA market.

12. Hector Noesi, Sea. $-. 56.1 IP, 2 W, 45 K's, 4.47 ERA, 1.51 WHIP. The forgotten man in the Jesus Montero/Michael Pineda trade. Had pretty good peripheral numbers in NY and the ERA should drop by close to a full run with the move to Seattle. Don't be at all surprised if he puts up better numbers than Pineda this year.

Rounding up to the closest $, I've spent a total of $43 on a 12 man starting rotation that should win K's most weeks and be competitive in the other SP categories. I can afford to go higher on some of the bids. I might even be able to splurge on a couple of higher priced pitchers in the $15 range like MadBum. This frees up substantial $$ to spend on closers and offense. Hey, I might even try to outbid somebody for Matt Kemp!

What do you think of my budget rotation?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 2 Indians 2

Buster Posey's first hit of the spring cleared the fence in RF to give the Giants a tie with the Indians that held up through 10 innings. They don't play open ended spring games. Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco- 1 for 3, BB. BA= .500. Blanco worked his magic on the basepaths again as he drew a walk, went from first to third on a hit-and-run grounder to 1B then scored on a groundout. Hey, it was half the Giants run total in the game!

Buster Posey- 1 for 4, HR(1). BA= .111. Great to see Buster go deep. He got 4 AB's today as the DH.

Emmanuel Burriss- 1 for 3, SB(3). BA= .386. Burriss continues to play his version of small ball. This time it did not produce any runs.

Matt Cain- 3.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K's. ERA= 2.08. Some discouraging news on the contract front, but there's still time. Sometimes the two sides just need to get away from each other for a day or two to think things through. Gotta say I have mixed feelings for any contract for more than 3 years for any pitcher, but I know the market dictates you have to do it to lock up an ace or near ace.

Brian Wilson- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. ERA= 0.00. Wilson's FB was going 96 on the radar guns as per Alex Pavlovic. 14 pitches this time. That's a far cry from the 20-25 pitch innings we've become accustomed to from BWillie.

Clay Hensley- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 3.00. Hensley is a lock for the last bullpen slot IMO.

Dan Otero- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 2.25. From what I saw on Sunday, Otero doesn't have great velocity, but he hits his spots well and can keep hitters off balance with a nice changeup.

Jean Machi- 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's. ERA= 2.25. I don't know much about Machi, but he's put the ball on the ground and struck out a batter an inning, although 3 of his 4 K's occured today.

Scott Barnes(Indians)- 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K's. ERA= 0.00. Dang, Scotty coming back to haunt us! He's appeared in 3 games this spring with 1 BB, and 6 K's in 7 IP.

The Giants travel to Peoria for a night game tomorrow with Barry Zito getting his 3'rd start of the spring. I saw Zito doing some running on the practice field beyond RF of Scottdale stadium. I have to say he is quite a sight to see sprinting from corner to corner on the warning track. My daughter commented that he needs to be working hard. I said he needs to be trying to make his arm stronger! All in jest, of course. It looked like those sprints weren't any fun.

Fantasy Focus: Melky Cabrera Is Undervalued!

I am currently obsessed with fantasy baseball player auction values and have been poring over lists in preparation for my upcoming fantasy draft. One of the first things that jumped out at me was how undervalued Melky Cabrera seems to be. Here's an average price list with fantasy stat lines from 3 players from last year(Yahoo):

Andrew McCutchen $26.7 BA= .259, 87 R, 23 HR, 89 RBI, 23 SB

Alex Gordon $16.8 BA= .303, 101 R, 23 HR, 87 RBI, 17 SB

Melky Cabrera $4.6 BA= .305, 102 R, 18 HR, 87 RBI, 20 SB.

Not a whole lot of difference, huh?

Of course, values are based more on what drafters think the player will do THIS year than on their stats last year, on the other hand, we really have no way of predicting the future in baseball other than to look at stats from the past.

McCutchen is a 5 tool stud who is expected to go all Matt Kemp any season now. On the other hand, in his first 3 seasons, his numbers have been remarkably consistent with no trend toward said breakout. His BA was down significantly and a positive regression is reasonable to expect which could boost his other numbers. Is that worth $22 more than Melky?

Alex Gordon has underachieved for a long time and last year was something of a breakout. He's always seemed like such a sure thing that it's easy to believe this was a true breakout and he will only get better, or at least not regress. Are you sure enough of that to pay $12 more than you would for Melky?

With Melky, everyone is focused on his squirrely past and an unsustainable BABIP. There is, however, another side to the story, that needs to be considered. In his first few seasons, Melky was in notoriously bad condition and possibly overly involved with alcohol. After hitting rock bottom with Atlanta in 2010, he found the Workout religion and got himself into shape. KC took a chance on him because, well, KC didn't have many options themselves and they got themselves a bargain. From all reports and my own observations this last weekend, Melky is, if anything, in even better shape than last year. He also has a no-nonsense work ethic bordering on workaholism. Like "Cutch", he's always had the tools and he's just entering what are usually the peak years of a player's career. You might worry about the ballpark, but KC is no picnic for hitters either.

You might rank McCutchen and Gordon a bit higher in a snake draft, but when you factor in auction prices, I'm passing on both and targeting Melky, even if I have to bid him up to $7 or $8, he's still a bargain in comparison. Heck, I'd even go to $10 which is right where an average player should cost with a $260 budget for a roster of 26 players.

BTW, Angel Pagan at $1.3 is going to be a bargain for somebody too.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Cubs 5 Giants 4

The Cubbies took an early lead against Madison Bumgarner then withstood a late rally led by Angel Pagan. Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 2 for 4, 2B, 3B. BA= .269. Pagan's bat came alive with a couple of XBH knocks.

Gary Brown- 1 for 1, SB. BA= .186. Gary Brown apparently survived the cutdown and had himself a successful appearance.

Mike Fontenot- 1 for 1, BB. BA- .558. A Fonty sighting!

Chris Stewart- 1 for 2. BA= .333. Gotta think CStew is winning the backup catcher battle.

Madison Bumgarner- 4 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 4 K's. ERA= 3.72. Bumgarner throws so many pitches in the strike zone, he is going to tend to get BABIP'd from time to time. It would appear that's what happened here.

Edlefsen, Affleldt, Romo, Mota, Hembree- 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 6 K's. Romo gave up the 2 runs. Hembree had 2 K's in his stint.

Matt Cain takes the mound tomorrow against the Cleveland Indians.

From Carl Steward's notes on Bochy's comments about Brandon Belt and RF, it sure sounds like Nate's starting job is in serious jeopardy.

Pagan will miss a couple of days to have a wisdom tooth extracted. Yikes! I had all 4 extracted at once. Sick as a dog for 2 days and unable to eat solid food for a week. Lost 5 lbs. Hopefully it's just one tooth, but I have a lot of respect for wisdom tooth extractions.

Fantasy Focus: Auction Draft?

So the commish in my fantasy league just got the bright idea to change from a traditional snake draft to an auction draft, which I've never done before. I'm feeling all kinds of angst over it. Personally, I think it's going to be a disaster because I don't think most of the guys in my league are ready for an auction draft. My league settings are 5X5 H2H, 26 players on the roster. Budget of $260 on draft day. Salaries and salary caps do not carry over into trades and waiver pickups. I just have a few questions that some of you with a little more experience may be able to help me with:

Is it better to go Stars and Scrubs, or try to distribute the money evenly throughout the roster?

Is there an upper limit of how many $$ you are willing to pay for any player. It just seems to me that $50 for Matt Kemp, to name just one, is too big a hit on the budget from one player no matter how good he is. Am I right on that?

With 26 roster spots, that's an average of $10 per player. $10 often doesn't get you much of a player. For instance, Kelly Johnson is listed as a $10 value. Kelly Johnson?

Help! I need advice!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 2 Royals 1

The Giants played Giants baseball today scratching out a couple of runs which their stifling pitching made stand up. Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco- 3 for 3, BB, SB. BA= .545. Yeah, it's spring training, but as Grant put it over on MCC, Blanco has put up some pretty sweet OBP's in the past and can steal a base when he gets on. Probably has a better than even shot at a roster spot at this point.

Brett Pill- 2 for 4, 2B. BA= .321. Pill hit one sizzling line drive after another in batting practice yesterday. He seems really locked in with a great idea of what to do at the plate.

Conor Gillaspie- 1 for 4, HR(1). BA= .238. Gillaspie has one more option left. He'll probably go to Fresno where he needs to show a bit more power than in the past. With Pablo under contract for the next 3 seasons, it's hard to see where he fits in the future.

Tim Lincecum- 4 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K's. ERA= 6.75. Timmy looked a lot better today with a crisp fastball and his patented swing and miss split-change.

Casilla, Kown, Machi, Wilmin Rodriguez- 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's. Man, I don't know what magic Bochy works on relievers but he always has had great bullpens that weren't necessarily handed to him. Today was a typical Giants bullpen performance even though Casilla is the only one likely to make the team.

Madison Bumgarner takes the mound for his third spring start against the Cubbies tomorrow. Buster Posey will be his catcher.

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 7 Mariners 5

Eric Surkamp held his own against Felix Hernandez and Hector Sanchez had a stupendous day at the plate subbing in at DH. Key Lines:

Melky Cabrera- 2 for 3. BA= .542. Melky cooled off a bit by not getting any XBH's in this one.

Hector Sanchez- 2 for 2, 2 HR(3). BA= .500. The Hector entered the game as a pinch hitter for DH Aubrey Huff. Oh man, did he look like he was on command at the plate. He came back from an 0-2 count to hit the first dinger. I was live blogging when he hit the second one from the opposite side of the plate, so I don't know the count. I just know he gave it a ride.

Gregor Blanco- 2 for 3, SB(5). Blanco continued to impress at the plate and on the bases. Started a nice rallly against King Felix.

Emmanuel Burriss- 2 for 3, SB(1). Burriss and Blanco had a nice small-ball tandem going at the bottom of the lineup. Fonty seems to be a forgotten man. Freddy Sanchez still isn't throwing to bases in fielding practice. I think Burriss is our starting 2B.

Gary Brown- 0 for 1, CS. Brown entered the game as a pinch runner and got picked off badly ending up in a rundown. He the struck out in his only PA and didn't look so hot doing that either.

Eric Surkamp- 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K's. ERA= 6.14. impressive outing for Surkamp. He used a variety of pitches to keep the Mariners off balance. He even climbed the ladder with a couple of fastballs to get 2 of his K's.

Brian Wilson- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. ERA= 0.00. It was over before it started, or so it seemed. Willie gave up a solid single but ended the inning with a nice strikeout/throwout with Buster.

Jake Dunning- 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K's. I thought Dunning looked really good once he settled down. He overcame a throwing error on a DP grounder by Noonan who had moved over the 3B.

Tim Lincecum goes against Luke Hochevar and the KC Royals today in Surprise.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Training Update: Live Blogging From Scottsdale

OMG! I guess Hector Sanchez decided he needed to do something about Tommy Joseph! He just hit another bomb, this one batting LH.

Nice pitching by Jake Dunning to get out of a jam after Noonan threw away a DP grounder with runners on first and second. He started out with shaky command, but once he settled down, he threw nice easy high heat with a nasty hard slider to back it up.

Spring Training Update: Live Blogging From Scottsdale

Hector Sanchez just had a terrific AB. Pinch hitting with a man on 2B and hitting RH against a LH reliever, he went down 0-2 in the count, worked it back even then drove one into the left CF bleachers which must be at least 400 ft away in this park. I'm tellin' ya, H Sanchez could be a starting catcher for a ot of tens right now!

Spring Training Update: Live Blogging From Scottsdale

The first 3 innings went better than I thought they would. Surkamp mostly kept the Mariners hitters off balance. He even climbed the ladder with a couple of K's on high fastballs.

Buster looked good behind the plate and a bit rusty at the plate. He did a nice job blocking a strikeout pitch in the dirt and then popped out in front of the plate nicely to throw out the runner. On his first AB, he hit a ball to deep short. I thought he had a hint of a limp coming out of the bozo, but looked OK once he got going. He's not fast though.

Nice strikeout/throwout DP by Wilson and Posey to end the 4'th inning!

The lady sitting behind us has a our voice and talks incessantly. She said Burriss' chopper for a base hit wasn't really a hit , it was luck. She is making me sad.

Spring Training Update: Live Blogging From Scottsdale

Starting Lineup:

CF Angel Pagan
LF Melky Cabrera
3B Pablo Sandoval
C Buster Posey
DH Aubrey Huff
1B Brandon Belt
SS Ryan Theriot
RF Gregor Blanco
2B Emmanuel Burriss
P Eric Surkamp

We waited in line for 30 min before the gates opened which is pretty stupid if you think about it. We have reserved seats and probably could have strolled in about 10 min after they opened.

Pablo Sandoval is never going to be thin, but I think he looks terrific. Reports of wt gain have been exaggerated.

Brett Pill was particularly impressive in BP. He was hitting seeds all over the field.

Brandon Crawford and Freddy Sanchez were giving the ball a ride with some regularity.

Buster looked like he needs more reps to get his timing and stroke down, but you can see that he has a definite plan up there.

Just seeing Buster out on the field makes you feel optimistic about the season. Great to see him walk out with his gear to warm up Surkamp.

Spring Training Update: Live Blogging From Scottsdale

Drove past Salt River Fields on the way to the ballpark today. I have to say I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. it looked like they put up a bunch of fences in a parking lot.

The Giants complex is beautiful in downtown Scottsdale. Parking seems a little dicey. Glad we got here early and grabbed a free public parking spot, but they were going fast.

The Dugout Store was so busy, they were letting people in only when somebody left.

Willie McCovey is sitting on a chair on the field in front of the Giants dugout about 10 ft. From us.

Buster Posey's group was taking batting practice when we walked in.

Gotta say, Brandon Crawford pretty much has it all going on, as does Buster, of course.

Fantasy Focus: Ranking the Catchers

Playing time is a huge issue in fantasy baseball. Great hitting catchers who play multiple positions or can DH in the AL are way valuable. Also, defense is not a fantasy category unless you are in a very esoteric league.

1. Mike Napoli- He's always been a monster at the plate. Mike Scioscia hated him for some reason. Freed in Texas. May regress a little in BA, but a solid bet to put up huge power numbers again.

2. Carlos Santana- Will play every day in some capacity so will put up big counting stats. BA hurts some, but that should improve.

3. Brian McCann- Playing time is an issue, but he's good enough to still give you big time numbers.

4. Matt Wieters- just a continuation of his normal progression will yield very good numbers, but I think he could break huge.

5. Joe Mauer- Seems a lot healthier this year. Can DH and play some 1B, so should rack up the PA's if he stays healthy. Probably won't crack 20 HR's again in the Twins new ballpark.

6. Miguel Montero- solid numbers are almost a guarantee.

7. Buster Posey- I love Buster Posey as much as anybody, but for fantasy purposes, he has to prove he can stay on the field after that horrific injury.

8. Alex Avila- Had a breakout last year. Can he sustain it?

9. Ryan Doumit- Sleeper alert! Doumit is the reason I might wait on drafting a catcher until late. He's a beast at the plate and he's going to play every day in some capacity with the Twins.

10. Yadier Molina- Great catcher, but defense don't count in fantasy. Solid BA, but not much help otherwise.

11. Jesus Montero- should hit for average and doubles power, but not that park is death to RH power hitters.

12. Wilson Ramos- hit 16 HR's last year and is still very young.

13. Jarrod Saltalamacchia- Also hit 16 HR's last year. A bit of a post hype sleeper?

14. Jonathan Lucroy- I picked him up last year when McCann got hurt. Should have just kept him because McCann was terrible after he came back.

15. Kurt Suzuki- He's bulled up some to try to hit for more power. His past numbers with a few more HR's would be quite interesting.

16. Salvador Perez- He's on enough sleeper lists that he's probably overvalued now.

17. Nick Hundley- Had a strong second half last year, but the park he plays in is a big negative and the Padres acquired Yasmani Grandal for a reason.

18. Wilin Rosario- With Iannetta gone has a clear path to PT and you have to like any hitter in Coors. Very unproven.

19. Devin Mesocoro- Everybody seems to agree he's going to be great. What's not clear is how much PT he'll get from Dusty until Jocketty trades Hanigan.

IMO, Napoli and Santana are in a top tier. They are draftable in the top 20. Catcher is not as thin as it has been in the recent past. In a 10 team league, you can afford to wait, especially if you miss out on Napoli or Santana or don't want them for some reason. In a 12 team league, it gets a bit more dicey and you might want to grab one before the top 6 or 7 go off the board.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Angels 9 Giants 5

The Giants in this one were the traveling half of a split squad. They fell behind early, fought back to a temporary tie, but ultimately couldn't keep up with the home Angels squad. Key Lines:

Aubrey Huff- 2 for 3, HR(2). I still think the starting 1B gig is Huff's to lose, and games like this keep him in control of his destiny.

The Giants take on the Mariners in Scottsdale tomorrow in a game I plan to attend. Buster Posey is scheduled to catch 4 innings and Brian Wilson is scheduled to make his first spring appearance.

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 13 BrewCrew 3

Both the Giants and Brewers were playing split squad games today. The Giants were the home team in this one and well, you get the picture. Barry Zito had a strong start and several Giants had big days at the plate led by Tommy Joseph's 2 HR's. Key Lines:

Pablo Sandoval- 2 for 4, 2B, HR(1). BA= .263. Pablo was off to a slow start, but had a big day today.

Ryan Theriot- 2 for 2, 2B, BB. BA= .286.

Brandon Crawford- 2 for 3, 2B, 3B. BA= .429. Crawford continues to sizzle.

Tommy Joseph- 2 for 3, 2 HR, BB. BA= .444. I'm pretty sure Joseph made an impression on the Giants management today.

Barry Zito- 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. ERA= 3.60. Zito was hitting his spots with the curveball.

I am in Phoenix tonight. We are going to the game tomorrow in Scottsdale, Eric Surkamp vs Felix Hernandez and the Mariners.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 6 Reds 3

Buster Posey made his spring trainging debut and played in his first game since that day we try not to think about. Melky Cabrera stayed insanely hot and Matt Cain pitched an easily dominant 3 innings as the Giants upped their spring training record to 5-2. Key Lines:

Melky Cabrera- 2 for 3, HR(3). BA= .588. There was yet another article in Fangraphs saying Cabrera is going to regress this year. I think Melky may actually be undervalued because EVERYBODY thinks he's going to regress! Now, I know spring training stats don't mean a thing, especially early on, but I think these analysts may be missing the human element here. Melky has always had the tools, tools galore! There is a well known phenomenon in baseball called Post Hype Sleeper. That's what Melky was last year and lot of people are having trouble believing it. The human element is that in his first few seasons, Melky was very much out of shape and possibly had a problem with alcohol. He hit rock bottom in Atlanta. He got serious about his conditioning and the results in KC were obvious. Now, he appears to be in even better shape and has a totally focused, almost workaholic attitude. He's also just entering the age range where ballplayers typically have their peak seasons. So, tools, post hype sleeper, conditioning, attitude, age, contract year. I think it all adds up to last year being just the tip of the iceberg.

Freddy Sanchez- 1 for 4. BA= .250. Freddy made his debut in the lineup albeit as a DH. He may play in the field sometime next week.

Buster Posey- 0 for 1. BA= .000. Buster was greeted with loud cheers in Scottsdale. He's the Savior, the Future, the Promised One of this team. He's to the Giants now what Will "The Thrill" was years ago. The guy who Giants fans think of first when they think of the Giants. It's hard to fathom how damaging his injury was to the collective fan psyche or how much his return, no matter how modest, is uplifting. A great day for the Giants and their fans, and I'm sure for Buster too.

Brett Pill- 1 for 3, 2B. BA= .350. Pill continues to impress.

Aubrey Huff- 0 for 3. BA= .214. Again, spring training stats don't mean much, but Huff came to camp needing to make a statement. So far, it's the wrong statement! It could be telling that he played LF today.

Brandon Belt- 2 for 2, 2B, HR(2). BA= .389. If this keeps up, I'm not sure how the Giants send Belt down to Fresno.

Matt Cain- 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K's. ERA= 0.00. Cain is Cain. Quietly dominant!

Brian Burres- 3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 2.25. Not sure where Burres fits. Personally I might be more confident in him than Barry Zito, but Zito's not going anywhere for awhile.

Heath Hembree- 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K. ERA= 3.00. Hembree was hitting 96 on the gun today. I doubt he breaks camp with the Giants but he could well be up before the season is out.

The Giants play split squad games tomorrow against the Angels and BrewCrew with Zito and Shane Loux getting the starts.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 5 Padres 2

Madison Bumgarner and 5 other Giants pitchers dominated the Padres while the offense used speed to scratch out enough runs to win going away. Key lines:

Juan Perez- 1 for 1, HR. BA= .500. Perez' dinger was insurance run in the top of the 8'th inning.

Gregor Blanco- 2 for 3, BB, 2 SB. BA= .429. I know it's early spring, but I'm starting to wonder if it was necessary to acquire Pagan. This guy looks like the perfect leadoff batter to me.

Eli Whiteside- 1 for 2, BB, SB. BA= .375. Is Whiteside winning the reserve catcher job?

Madison Bumgarner- 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K's. ERA= 1.59. Bumgarner is off to a sensational start to spring training. 9 K's against just 1 BB in 5.2 IP? Dominant! He may be the Giants ace right now!

Affeldt, Hensley, Romo and Otero each pitched a scoreless inning. Romo got a standing O from the Giants fans, who were in the majority in the Padres crib, after he struck out 2 Padres batters in the inning. He looked that impressive!

Tomorrow's game promises to be one of the most interesting of the spring. Matt Cain goes against the Reds and Aroldis Chapman in Scottsdale with Buster Posey scheduled to make his spring game debut.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 8 Rockies 6

The Rockies smacked Tim Lincecum around in the early innings but the Giants came back with 6 runs in the last two innings to pull out an 8-6 win. I wonder how many times that will happen in the regular season? Key Lines:

Gregor Blanco- 2 for 2, 2B. BA= .364. Blanco is stating a case to be on the 25 man roster in the early going.

Melky Cabrera- 3 for 3, 2B, Assist. BA= .571. From what I've been reading, Melky seems to have an odd affect showing little or now emotion and obssessing over doing his "work" in interviews, although he insists that he likes his new team, teammates and is having fun. I've also read that maybe he hasn't always been this single-minded about baseball. If these results are the product of his workaholism, he can keep right no doing it as far as I'm concerned.

Nate Schierholtz- 1 for 2, BB, SB(2). BA= .333. Nate has quietly put up good numbers so far. He came to camp wanting to work on being more aggressive on the basepaths and has 2 SB's to show for it.

Tommy Joseph- 2 for 2. BA= .333. Good to see Joseph rap out a couple of hits showing he is more than an all or nothing hitter.

Tim Lincecum- 2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 0 K. ERA= 13.50. Timmy got slapped around pretty good in this one. It's still early though. Just getting the old arm in shape.

Austin Fleet- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. Fleet was also impressive in the intrasquad game.

Eric Surkamp- 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K's. ERA= 8.31. Solid outing for Surkamp. Much more like his AA numbers from last year.

Madison Bumgarner takes the mound against Edinson Volquez and the Padres in Peoria tomorrow.

The Hector is out for a few days with a tweaked hammy which may give Joseph an opportunity for more AB's in the early spring.

There was a hilarious note on CSN Bay Area about the Giants running an Angels advance scout who was taking notes during Giants pregame drills. They told him he could come back when the public was allowed in. Not sure how he got in in the first place. He reportedly called the Angels management and told them to make sure no Giants scouts are allowed into their practices. LOL!

The A's released a weak, whiny statement about the territorial rights issue in clear violation of MLB's gag order. The Giants responded with a strongly worded statement including a dig at Lew Wolff's purchase price of the franchise. Seems like MLB is going to have to get off the dime on this one pretty soon before it gets ugly. From the weakness of the A's statement and the strength of the Giants, I would deduce that the A's are feeling like this is getting away from them and they are clearly frustrated. Look for a sale sign to go up as soon as the Dodgers situation is settled.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 8 Dodgers 4

Melky Cabrera had a big day to lead a vigorous Giants offense in beating the hated ones. Key Lines:

Melky Cabrera- 2 for 4, 2 HR. BA= .455. Melky has always had the tools. He has not always had the conditioning or motivation. Hate to get my hopes up, but I could see a scenario where last year was only the beginning for him.

Emmanuel Burriss- 2 for 4, 2 2B. BA= .444. Burriss played LF today and is definitely gunning for a roster spot which the GIants appear to want him to win.

Nate Schierholtz- 2 for 4, 2B, SB. BA= .300. Nate wants to run more.

Brett Pill- 2 for 4, HR. BA= .462. Pill is out to get a roster spot and maybe more.

Hector Sanchez- 0 for 4. BA= .444. The Hector cools off.

Joe Panik- 2 for 2, 3B. BA= 1.000!

Brandon Crawford- 1 for 2, BB. BA= .571.

Barry Zito- 2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K's. I don't remember his line from his first spring start last year, but I think it was a lot worse.

Steve Edlefsen- 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K.

Heath Hembree- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K.

Buster Posey ran the bases for the first time and hit the bag twice with his left foot. Early reports are the ankle felt much better and he will probably play in his first spring game this week.

Tim Lincecum takes the mound tomorrow against the Rockies.

College Corner: Weekend Lines for Draftable Players

Brett Mooneyham and Mark Appel appear to be headed in opposite directions on draft boards.

Mooneyham- 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 13 K's. ERA= 1.71.

Appel- 8 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 3 BB, 11 K's. ERA= 3.68. Appel's K numbers look good though.

Kyle Zimmer, RHP, USF: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K's. ERA= 0.00!

Marcus Stroman, RHP, Duke: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 17 K's. ERA= 2.37. Talk about serious helium!

Austin Maddox, RHP, Florida: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K's. Save(3). Does he get drafted as a pitcher or hitter?

Buck Farmer, RHP, Georgia Tech: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 9 K's. ERA= 3.32.

Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU: 6.1 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K's. ERA= 1.86. Sickels and Garrioch had him #1 overall in their mock draft.

Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M: 7 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 7 K's. ERA= 0.92.


Barrett Barnes, OF, Texas Tech: 3 for 12, 2 SB(8). BA= .386.

Mike Yastrzemski, OF, Vandy: 4 for 11, HR(3), SB(1). BA= .351.

Tyler Naquin, OF, Texas A&M: 4 for 12, 2B, 3B, SB. BA= .500.

Travis Jankowski, OF, Stony Brook: 4 for 12, 2 2B. BA= .370.

Kenny Diekroger, SS, Stanford: 4 for 12, 3 2B. BA= 356.

Jake Stewart, OF, Stanford: 4 for 13, 2B, HR(3). BA= .383.

Stephen Piscotty, 3B, Stanford: 7 for 13, 2B, 3B. BA= .340.

Kevin Plawecki, C, Purdue: 5 for 12, 2 HR(2). BA= .382.

Peter O'Brien, C, Miami: 2 for 11, HR(4). BA= .415.

Austin Nola, SS, LSU: 8 for 12, 3 2B. BA= .359.

Brandon Thomas, OF, Georgia Tech: 7 for 14, 3 2B, 2 SB(4). BA= .327.

James Ramsey, OF, Florida State: 5 for 10, 2B, 3B, HR(4). BA= .552.

Mike Zunino, C, Florida: 6 for 15, 3 2B, HR(3). BA= .425.

Richie Shaffer, 1B, Clemson: 6 for 9, 2 2B, 2 HR(4). BA= .452.

Tony Renda, 2B, Cal: 5 for 12, 2 2B, 2 SB(6). BA= .400.

Mitch Haniger, OF, Cal Poly: 5 for 18, 2B, 2 HR(3), SB(2). BA= .319.

Joey DeMichelle, 3B, Arizona State: 9 for 15, 4 2B, 3B, SB. BA= 553.

Devin Marerro, SS, Arizona State: 3 for 6, HR(1). BA= .387.

Jamodrick Magruder, 2B, Texas Tech: 3 for 10, 4 BB, 3 SB(11). BA= .353.

Texas State has now run up 5 consecutive shutouts. Overall, they have allowed just 16 runs in 11 games this season. 2 of their starters are draft eligible:

Colton Turner, LHP: 1-0, 0.44, 20.1 IP, 9 BB, 23 K's.

Travis Ballew, RHP: 3-0, 1.33, 20.1 IP, 8 BB, 23 K'S.

Jeffrey Gibbs, RHP, Maine, has a 20.86 ERA in 2 starts.

Anyone else we should be watching?

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap BrewCrew 7 Giants 3

The 2011 version of the Giants offense showed up in this one. They somehow managed to scratch out 3 runs on just 4 hits and it wasn't enough to overcome a BrewCrew assault against the bullpen. Key Lines:

Aubrey Huff- 1 for 2, HR, BB. BA= .429. The day goes to Huffster in the starting 1B battle although Brett Pill got a double and Brandon Belt hit the ball hard.

Gregor Blanco- 1 for 2, BB, 2 SB. BA= .222. Blanco shows what speed can do for you, even from a weak hitter. He turned a hit and a walk into 2 runs even without hitting support from the rest of the lineup. Can the Giants afford to keep both Blanco and Burriss on the roster though?

Matt Cain- 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Uneventful first outing for Cainer.

Matt Yourkin- 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, GO/AO= 6/1. Big AAA veteran LHP. I would have a lot of confidence if Yourkin had to make an emergency start or two.

Seth Rosin- 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K's, HBP. Rosin gives up a dinger to Travis Ishikawa, but otherwise strikes out the side.

There seems to be some significant trepidation about Buster Posey running the bases. He practiced sliding on a pad and ran on the grass at the outer edge of the IF. I'm not a fan of headfirst sliding, but in Buster's case, that might be the less risky approach.

Brian Wilson is slated to make his first spring training game appearance on Sunday, March 11, in a game I have tickets to attend.

Barry Zito debuts his new delivery in today's game against the Hated Ones.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 1 D'Backs 1

Pitching too center stage in Maryvale Baseball Park as the Giants and BrewCrew battled to a 1-1 standstill after 9 innings. Hey, it's just an exhibition game! Key Lines:

Gary Brown- 0 for 4. BA= .000

Emmanuel Burris- 1 for 3. BA= .400. Backup MI competition is heating up. Burriss vs Cajuns. Cajuns win today.

Joe Panik- 1 for 1. Panik gets his first big league hit, except it doesn't count.

Brandon Crawford- 2 for 3, CS. BA= .600. Very encouraging early spring performance from the guy who looks like John Stamos.

Madison Bumgarner- 2.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K's. Midseason form!

Heath Hembree- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. Dominant line. I'm dying to hear any eyewitness reports.

Matt Cain takes the mound tomorrow evening in Scottsdale facing the BrewCrew again.

Brews OF Corey Hart had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and is out 3-4 weeks. Rickie Weeks sat out with a sore shoulder.

Around the League: Carlos Beltran has a sore shoulder. Anybody surprised?

Holy moly! Andrew Cashner, obtained from the Cubs in the Anthony Rizzo trade AVERAGED 102.2 MPH in an inning of relief work for the Padres.

Ryan Madsen has an "irritated elbow" Hmm.....maybe the Phillies knew something?

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap Giants 11 D'Backs 1

It was the Giants turn to unleash withering offense on the D'Backs and even their spring training record overall and against their division rivals. Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 2 for 4. BA= .429

Melky Cabrera- 2 for 4, 2B. BA= .429. The two trade aquisitions are off to good starts.

Aubrey Huff- 2 for 3. BA= .400. Huff signals that he's not going down without a fight.

Brett Pill- 3 for 5, 3B, SF. BA= .500. Pill picks up where he left off last September.

Ryan Theriot- 2 for 3, BB. BA= .667.

Mike Fontenot- 3 for 4, 2B. BA= .500. The Cajuns had good games.

Hector Sanchez- 3 for 3, 2B, SF. BA= .800. Is The Hector white hot or what? He's out to win a roster spot and maybe more depending on Buster's health. IMO, Hector is a better offensive option than either CStew or Whiteside. He would make it easier to rest Buster or play him at first base more often.

Andrew Kown- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. I think Kown could get the job done as an emergency starter if it came to that.

Ramon Ortiz- 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. Ortiz is back for a second round with the Giants on a minor league contract.

Justin Fitzgerald- 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K. Big RHP is a sleeper.

Brian Burres- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. Burres started the game but came out early due to a swarm of bees that delayed the game in the top of the 2'nd inning for 41 minutes.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap D'Backs 9 Giants 6

The Giants got an early 3-1 lead of Josh "Tomahawk Boy" Collmenter, but couldn't keep up with an offensive assault by the defending NL West Champs. Key Lines:

Angel Pagan- 1 for 3, SB, E. Pagan made a lot of OF errors last year, so this is something to watch.

Melky Cabrera- 1 for 3, 2B, Assist. Pagan's error came in the first inning, allowing Justin Upton to advance to 2B on a single. Melky limited the damage by gunning down Upton trying to score from 2B on a single.

Brandon Belt- 3 for 4, HR. Belt was the DH today. What a statement! Man, did he throw down here or what?

Brandon Crawford- 1 for 2. Crawford came through with a 2 run single in the 2'nd inning off Tomahawk Boy.

Hector Sanchez- 1 for 2, HR. A statement from The Hector after CStew went 0 for 2!

Emmanuel Burriss- 1 for 2, 2B. I'm tellin' y'all, Burriss is on a mission to win a roster spot and even be the starter if Franchez can't answer the bell on opening day.

Tim Lincecum- 2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. Timmy was amped and went an extra inning today.

Eric Surkamp- 1.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 0 K's. Correa allowed an inherited runner to score, but you want to see more from a Rook early in ST. These aren't tune up games for them, they are opportunities to make a statement.

The Giants play split squad games tomorrow with MadBum facing the BrewCrew and Brian Burres taking on the Snakes.

Around the League:

Some former Giants had some good games today as Kevin Frandsen hit a 2 run dinger for the Phillies and Erick Threets pitched a scoreless inning for the A's.

Jarrod Parker(A's), Trevor Bauer(D'Backs) and Drew Pomeranz(Rockies) all pitched 2 scoreless innings.

Brett Lawrie of Toronto had a big day, 2 for 4, 2 2B, SB, 4 RBI's but made an error.