Friday, December 14, 2012

Hot Stove Update: Andres Torres Finds His Way Home

When the Giants traded Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez to the Mets for Angel Pagan, many observers believed that Sandy Alderson had fleeced Brian Sabean.  IMO, a lot of that belief was based more on a perception of the two men's respective acumen as GM's, but it was also based on a superficial understanding of the WAR stat.  The trade long ago turned into one of the more savvy that the old curmudgeon has pulled off, and he's pulled off some pretty good ones.  Yesterday's signing by the Giants after the arbitration eligible Torres was non-tendered a contract by the Mets, just rubs salt in Alderson's wound and isn't it sweet?

The Giants signing Andres Torres is, on the one hand, something you could see coming from miles away.  On the other hand, it's a bit of an odd signing as it is unclear that that Giants really needed another player with Torres' skill set.  He's a switch-hitter who hit decent from the right side last year, so he could platoon with Gregor Blanco in LF, but his career splits have been inconsistent and Blanco is not terrible against LHP's.  He certainly gives the Giants deep depth in CF, a near fetish with Brian Sabean that drives fans nuts but has paid off on the field.  In the end, this signing may have had more to do with the Giants just liking Andres Torres and he liking them.

On paper, the Giants still need a RH masher who can play a passable LF for 6 or 7 innings before Bochy makes his patented defensive substitutions, but it wouldn't be the first time Sabean has failed to fill an obvious hole that shouldn't be that hard to pull off.

Other Giants news:  The Giants signed RHP Chad Gaudin to a minor league deal, and Shane Loux tweeted that he re-signed with the organization too.


  1. All quiet on the Western front. Really nice to see the Giants NOT taking part in the FA madness. There is something to be said for actually building a team and keeping the guys together - I think we saw that in the playoffs. Team does matter, especially when your backs are against the wall.

    And now we are seeing some Sabes DDiving Specials. I love thrift store shopping.

  2. I admit to being one of the more critical Giants fans out there but even I can't find flaw in anything Sabes has done this offseason. I disagree that Torres skill set isn't needed, Blanco and Torres are essentially the same player but both are susceptible to sucking at any moment so if one of them goes in the toilet at least we have the other as a back up. I also don't think we need a RH masher all that much at the moment and if the need becomes more obvious down the road I have all the confidence in the world that Sabes will find someone.

    Torres also gives us one more option at leadoff should Pagan revert to his not-so-great leadoff tendancies that seemed to dissapear once Melky dissapeared. Pagan could provide some stability in the 6th hole should the need arise and either Torres or Blanco are capable of handling the leadoff spot. I don't see a huge difference in the lineup they will be putting out next year and the lineup that won the world series last year so I'm pretty comfortable with what they have done.

    Quick question for you Dr. B, did you notice that the Giants offered Ichiro 2 years 15 million which he turned down? Seems like this is a much cheaper option and I'm wondering what comments you would have had if they had signed Ichiro for that much. My guess is Torres at 2 million is a safer and better bet then Ichiro at 7.5.

    1. Ichiro would not live up to a $7.5 million contract. last year, he had a miniscule 1.6 WAR, which is in a rapid decline. To pay someone $7.5 million a year would be asking them to be a starter for you. He also had a -0.2 dWAR last season. He would be a terrible signing at that price.

      Andres Torres, on the other hand, had a 1.2 WAR and a 0.6 dWAR last season. He is surely worth the 2 million and 1 year commitment that the giants gave to him.

    2. I would rather have Torres than Ichiro at this point in their respective careers.

    3. I guess i'm in the minority then..Well, maybe halfway...Following Sabean's motiff of family, chemistry and what has worked before, I actually kinda like bringing back Torres as a 5th OF...He can run, field and, despite a low average, get on base...However, my last images of him are being totally worthless as he swung from the heels at every pitch thrown his way. But, all in all, a god team player who can be a good end of the bench player....

      Where I have a problem is that I think Sabean should have reached higher for an OF bat with more pop, especially if he was willing to pay ICHIRO 15 mill over two years (as rumored) meaning the money is there....Maybe that is still in the plans, I don't know..But until then, I will be a little worried about the OF, especially given that the Gaints were really lucky with OF injuries last year and the way Pence and Pagan play the game leaves them open to injuries..


    4. I'd want to see a beat reporter comment on the Ichiro stuff before I buy into Los Gigantes offering up 2/15MM. The only beat I can see who even mentioned Ichiro on twitter was John Shea - 12/4 a quote from Bochy about discussing him, and 12/7 Shea answering questions. The 2/15MM is from a NY reporter from 12/13 - yesterday. I predict that is agent games, because the Giants already are announcing Torres signing.

      The funny part for me was shameless Jon Heyman, who tweets that now the Giants are out on Nick Swisher. Heyman has been trying his hardest to get the Giants tied into Swisher. Agent of the Agents, I tells ya.

      Very psyched to have Torres back. The splits, I think they'll give everybody a headache. Torres has an inconsistent career, you have the ADD treatment, the converting from being a slap hitter, the injuries... What we get is a plus defensive fielder, the feel good story of the year, a guy who will do anything for the team and some coverage. That's a great signing. He is a natural RH hitter, maybe he'll be good in the roll. But figuring out them splits is kind of a mess.

    5. I would sincerely doubt that they offered him that contract, because the only reason that they were out on Ludwick was because he costed too much,when he got that exact contract from the Reds. except for the mutual option.

      I recent made a post about the Torres signing that outlines how he will be able to live up to his contract, and what the Giants will probably want out of him

  3. Great obvious move by the Giants. I disagree that the skill set is entirely similar. Blanco may have hit well against LHP in 2012, but LHP batting lines tend to bounce around, there is not enough ABs in any season to stabilize the line to talent level, so career numbers are usually used:

    Career v.LHP: .229/.325/.307/.632

    I think it is logical to assume that Torres, being a natural RH, should hit better against LHP, plus because his overall batting line in recent years have been generally similar to Blanco.

    Torres provides two other key things that Blanco lacks. Torres is a true CF, capable of providing plus defense at the position. Secondly, he could provide power off the bench that Blanco cannot.

    Though I admit that is more predicated on him returning to his 2009-10 form, and not his 2011-12 form. And, unfortunately, his 2012 look a lot like his 2011, even down to his BABIP, which is back under .300 again, whereas he had stellar BABIP with us in 2009-10, in the .330-.340 range. So that would be a big push there.

    Still, he did very well against LHP last season and for his career overall:

    Career: .258/.340/.403/.743
    2012vLHP: .286/.382/.381/.763

    FYI, Shankbone noted in the other thread about the trend of how teams are not picking up mashers in the corner OF spots, particularly LF. I've noticed a decline myself in the NL seasonal team stats for LF:

    2008: .271/.350/.453/.803
    2009: .271/.343/.439/.781
    2010: .267/.337/.434/.771
    2011: .259/.328/.421/.748
    2012: .265/.329/.434/.763

    The days of .800 OPS being the level of distinction appears to be over, as offense in the majors has dropped, and the corners have fallen to around the mid-.750's the last two years. As I note here and there (and everywhere :^), Eric Walker has documented what he has dubbed the "Sillyball" era (what most people call the steroid era) and provides what I feel is compelling evidence that not only does the ball appear to have been juiced (tests found 30%+ more bounce in balls between the eras) starting around 1993, but his research into steroids has found that it most likely provide minimal benefit, at best, to a hitter. Meanwhile, offense has dropped in recent seasons, headed back to prior norms, hence why pitching and defense has become a more important trait for teams to acquire and develop, because, naturally, if offense is lacking, that makes other still traits more valuable, particularly speed and defense for position players.

    Lastly, I would note that with Blanco in the lineup, after the Melky suspension, the Giants averaged over 5 runs per game even with him in the lineup. Of course, a lot of that had to do with Scutaro hitting crazy, but I think a full season with Pence hitting in the Pablo/Posey/Pence sandwich, Belt taking another step forward offensively, and career average numbers from everyone else at their lineup positions should be good enough to win with our pitching and defense. And I think Belt can take a step up as well.

    1. Oops, I meant to put Crawford at the end there, not Belt. He also progressed well during the 2012 season with his contact rates, and I think is also poised to take another step forward offensively as well.

    2. Don't forget that if Lincecum goes from where he was, back to his old Cy young self, We will have an absolutely absurd pitching staff, with Kickham, Heston, and hopefully eventually Surkamp to back them up.

      Another thing that contributed to the 5 runs per game was getting Pablo back, and most of all Posey going on an absolute tear. But Blanco was also a huge spark at the bottom of the lineup

    3. Thanks for the reminder. Lincecum bounce back season is part of what I expect to see in 2013, thanks for catching my not including that. Though I would note that given Vogelsong's age, we have to be aware that he could go at any time, and that would counter any uptick from Tim. But given his strong end to 2012, it does not currently look like 2013.

      Still, counting on your entire pitching staff to not hit many bumps in the path is not realistic, I have found (by pounding my head too many times and assuming that). But the good news is that the Giants overall RA has been among the best in the NL since 2009 in spite of one starter or another not really being that good that season, whether it was Zito, or The Big Unit (or Martinez or the Big Sadowski), Wellemeyer, or Dirty, then Timmy, we have had starters go off the rails during the season and yet overall have good results.

      Thinking about him over and over again, given how good Vogelsong is today, I wonder how great he would have been in his youth and prime had he been able to harness his mind to go with his talents? Boggles my mind, he could have been something big!

    4. Yeah that would have been awesome to see it all click back when he was just a prospect for the Giants. It makes you wonder how many young, struggling minor league pitchers only need to do that to become elite.

      One thing that I think will be different about next year is the way we treat Zito and Vogelsong. With them being in the last years of their contracts, (excluding options) they could both be on a very short leash. If one of them really does struggle, I wouldn't be shocked to see Heston Surkamp or Kickham get a shot at their spot. I think this threat applies more to Zito than anyone else, but that is a lot of depth to have. Chad Gaudin could also be some insurance. Obviously nothing is 100%, but we are very insured.

      But it is very unfortunate how volatile pitchers can be. Makes you feel really fortunate that you have guys like Cain and Bumgarner doesn't it?

    5. You expect Vogelsong to be on a short leash? The Giants have a team-friendly option on him in 2014 ($6.5 mil), and has done nothing but pitch as a solid #2 for the past two years.

      Or you want to convey a "threat" to Zito. He just tossed his best season in 6 years as Giant, and topped it off by outpitching Verlander in GAME 1 of the WORLD SERIES. People are now talking about the benefit of exercising his option year on 2014. (Can you replace him in the rotation for $11 million? seems to be the question to ask.)

      You want to shuffle them for Surkamp? Who pitched poorly in the majors in '11 and was hurt most of 2012. Or Heston or Kickham, who aren't even close yet?

      You gotta be joking.

      The Giants have been pretty fortunate regarding injuries to the rotation the past couple of years. Zito is really the only guy to miss time. But as far as having anyone even vaguely able to step into this rotation in ' way.

    6. So you're telling me that if Vogelsong or Zito has an ERA above 5 in june and either Kickham or Heston is doing well in AAA, they wouldn't skip his start? I'm thinking that in the last year of a contract if you're competing for a playoff spot you could see the Giants do that.

      Zito had his best year as a Giant, but really how hard was that? Are you telling me that you would be shocked to see Zito not pitch well next year? I hope he does well, but I don't have huge expectations for him.

      I never said I thought they would be bad. I said that if they were bad they could be replaced. Did anyone expect Ervin Santana, Dan haren, or Tim Lincecum to pitch the way they did? No, but it happens. The reason Zito was given so many chances was because of the money he was earning and the time left on his contract. Now that it's his last year, there isn't as much of a commitment.

      And how could you not think that a AAA pitcher might get a spot start? I would say that they could be "vaguely" ready when they have pitched in the starting rotation at AAA for a half season.

    7. I think Kelly is just saying cool your jets on the doomsday pitching scenarios, these Gigantes just battled through the season, the elimination games, and the Tiger romp, and came out smiling. They're battle tested vets now, including Zito. Zito had 15, count them 15 out of 32 starts going more than 5, most the time much more, giving up 0-2 runs. Take that to the bank, we will. I think its going to be a very difficult decision next year if he repeats like he did. Start surveying what pitchers get and the fact you have to lock em for 2 years to get that rate... 11MM starts sounding like a good idea. That is such a funny concept, that at the end of the 126MM, the insult to injury option might have value.

      Zito is durable. Soft tossing lefties can have long careers. That injury plagued year is the only blemish. OGC put forth the theory about 2011 being about that car accident. Looks right to me now. Sorry I wanted to hire up Paul Maholm Barry Z, you proved me and tons others dead wrong.

      That redemption must have felt so sweet. And having so much to do with the postseason he can stop anybody talking trash about the 100MM bust contracts with a quickness, for the rest of his life. Pitched his team back home down 3-1, and beat the best pitcher in baseball for the first game of a sweep. Mano.

      The Giants are in possession of the best pitcher option in baseball at this moment. I'd suggest going over to fangraphs if you want to get any positive support on that short leash comment for Vogie.

    8. Yep, that about sums it up there.

      We're all enthusiastic about prospects. That's why we frequent Doc's house.

      And I'll be the first to acknowledge that few have been more vocal in criticisms of Zito over the years than me.

      But, Zito has earned some respect. And Vogelsong even moreso. Vogie's story is Giants legend and lore in the making. Rebuffing the Dodgers to return to Giants and then backing it up with insanely solid work. Not to mention his role in bringing a 2nd title home.

      Really, the wild card is Lincecum. He had success in the playoffs in a completely different role than starter. His bounce back in '13 is far from certain.

      I'm not anxious for door #2. Many things conspired against us in '11. But I still love the strategy of getting the same guys out there and giving them the opportunity to defend.

      And, completely acknowledged that the Giants will adapt as they go.

    9. is Torres better than Blanco defensively? seems like Blanco could be an excellent defensive CFer.

    10. Personally, I would rank Torres and Blanco about equal defensively in CF.

  4. A couple of notes:
    - I can't wait to see the Blanco, Pagan, Torres outfield. With all due respect to Pence, that defense will be amazing to watch.

    - Sandy probably isn't much of a fan of the Giants right now. Sabean fleeces him in that trade. Then he gets all butthurt about Pablo starting the all-star game. Now we get back the bigger piece of that Pagan trade after he got rid of him.

    1. Did Sandy made the Beltran trade?

    2. Semper Fi did indeed make the Beltran trade. He was hired on 10/29/2010 and thus was firmly in place when Beltran was traded in July 2011.

      Sandy was never a fan of the Giants when he was A's GM. His regime seemed to take particular glee in rubbing things into Giants noses (like all the billboards talking about their championships and Giants lack thereof, right when people get off the Bay Bridge, and TV ads of similar ilk).

      Really admire him more than I do Beane, who gets all the press for applying the A's already existing methodologies and tools when he became GM. I was really encouraged that things would change with the umpires when Sandy was placed in charge of that part of the game in the Commissioner's office, and I loved his quote when all the umpires submitted their resignation to him (he opined that the resignations was "either a threat to be ignored or an offer to be accepted." And he selectively accepted. Too bad the courts eventually overturned everything, too many umpires seem to think that they are who the fans come out to see, and I wanted to see consistent strike zones and less clearly wrong calls, we have great video replays, lets use the technology). I was sad that he left (or was pushed out). If anybody can turn around the Mets, he can.

      But I don't mind that he looks bad now with that trade. Should mention that Ramirez wasn't that effective for the Mets, not like when he was with the Giants. Yep, as you put it, he was fleeced by what happened in 2012 season period, getting back Torres is like the cherry on top (or nuts in my case, I hate those cherries, though oddly I love fresh cherries).

      And he did look sad complaining about Sandoval, particularly after Pablo was one of the stars in the All-Star game, then especially after winning the World Series MVP. What's that you say Sandy?

    3. Didn't like Alderson tweeting. He had half an argument, but he should have taken the high road, and he should have congratulated Pablo. Pretty funny Pablo donks off of Verlander to justify the all-star and then really donks off of him to set everything in motion. SI did a profile on Panda, its not bad. He really is our John Belushi.

      Wheeler is the Mets #1 prospect obviously, and reading the scouting report on BA definitely makes your stomach drop. Just go watch your 2012 dvd and mellow out. I'm sure it'll be brought back, just like that almost 10 year old trade always does. Sometimes you come up short.

  5. why people consider pro sports different from other biz is beyond me

    a happy workplace makes for a good and productive workplace

    andres makes everyone around him happy...that alone is worth a mil

    his excitement and work ethic, motivates others...worth another 500k

    he is getting 500k for his onfield stuff

    the extra pr that he does, he does for free

    great deal for the giants

    i guarantee that on opening day, andres goes into the stands, thanks every fan, asks how their families are doing and shakes their hand

    the nicest, most real guy to ever play the game...and im glad he is a giant...and he will forever be a giant