Saturday, September 28, 2013

Thoughts on the State of the Giants

Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy held their annual State of the Giants press conference yesterday.  Sabes dominated the discussion and gave his usual combination of blunt assessements, definitive statements and doubletalk.  For all his well-known wiliness and penchant for secrecy, Sabes has very rarely reversed himself on a definitive statement, so let's start with some of the comments that appear to be definitive:

1.  His first priority is re-signing Hunter Pence followed by re-signing Timmy and Javier Lopez.  In fact, it appears that a deal for Pence may be close enough to announce before the season ends on Sunday afternoon!  I'll make a prediction:  6/90!

2.  He plans to acquire a SP regardless of whether Timmy re-signs or not.  This would seem to not bode well for Ryan Vogelsong, and also seems to raise the probability that Timmy will be back, since if he left it would imply that the Giants would need to acquire 2 SP's via FA or trade.

3.  Don't expect a big international "splash."  He characterized Giants efforts in that areas as being more exploratory and a learning process as opposed to a plan to sign a big name player.

4.  He is really impressed by Heath Hembree.  Hembree was the first name Bochy mentioned too, so it would appear that a roster spot is Hembree's to lose next spring.

5.  He thinks the Giants pitching in the low minors is as good as any in baseball, but does not expect much help from that source before 2015.

6.  The free agent market is very thin.  Just stating the obvious here.  He also said he does not regard the FA crop of pitchers to be deeper than the position players.

7.  The trade market does not look particularly promising. He considers the success with trades in 2012 to be fortunate.

8.  There is a hard cap on the budget, but he did not say what it is. He implied that it will likely be not much more than the 2013 budget.

9.  Buster Posey is going to be the starting catcher next season!

Now for the doubletalk:

Sabes said that depth was the biggest problem in 2013 and criticized the farm system for not stepping up.  He then proceeded to downplay the possibility of getting more depth from the FA market and other sources and talked of pushing their prospects.

Perhaps the most cryptic and confusing comment came at the end when he talked about "windows" and how he thought the "window" was more likely to stay open for the 2011 season than the 2012 season.  He then declared the current "window" closed and declared that the Giants now need to open an "new window."  So, whattheheck does he mean by that?  A closed window and creating a new window would seem to imply a need for a large turnover in the roster, yet his biggest priorities are re-signing Pence, Timmy and Lopez?  The farm system is not going to be ready to contribute until 2015?  There isn't going to be much help on the FA, international or trade markets?  Is he writing off 2014 and aiming for 2015 when help arrives from the farm?  Is he simply being grandiose about the end of the Zito era?  Strange stuff!


  1. Interesting stuff, for sure. One thing we know about Sabean is that he's pretty deliberate with what he says. So the double-speak you mentioned is curious. He implied turnover, but suggests there's no way to accomplish that.

    One thing to consider, though: this team could look much different based on what players have more prominent roles...even if no real turnover takes place. For example, Brandon Belt and Pence may be the centerpiece of our offense, whereas before it would have been Posey and Panda. WIth that being said, Posey is our best and most important player...but roles are shifting. In the same vein, Hector will play a much bigger role, too...again, no turnover, but the makeup of the team does become different. And if Posey gets more time at first, and Belt manning LF from time to time...that's also a new look for the team.

    On the pitching front, Bum and Cain remain. And even if TImmy comes back, he's no longer the face of our rotation. And most likely there will be at least one new face that rotation.

    Throw in the additions of Hembree to the roster, an OF with pop (whether off bench or otherwise), possible role for Petit, and maybe one of Juan Perez/ looks a lot different even without major changes.


    1. That is a good thought. In addition, Sabes may understand that with Cain, Bummy, Posey and now Pence locked up for several years, he has time to do this in 2 steps and may well be looking to 2015 as the opening of the next "window."

  2. Hi, I never comment, but I read you blog nearly everday. I just wanted to take the time to thank you for doing this daily and I hope you keep at it as I enjoy your insight as well as the minor league updates. This season was especially a rough one to take, but hey, that is how it goes sometimes. I knew something was amiss when Kershaw hit that bomb in the first game. Let's get them next year! Go Giants!!

    1. Thank you for the kind words. It's a labor of love. I don't guarantee daily posts in the offseason, but there appears to be no shortage of topics to discuss, so it should be almost every day.

  3. Wow, very close prediction on Pence! 6 years/ $90M

    1. On the money with the total amount. Came up a year short on length. $18 M per year seems just a bit steep, but with just 2 other frontline OF's on the market, and the Giants staring at a wasteland in the OF if Pence got away, it's the cost of doing business.

  4. I think the Windows thing was Sabean thinking out loud about the pitching. His staff in 2011 was pretty solid. Shorthand of B/R's ERA+ you had Cain at 121, Timmy at 127, Bumgarner at 109, Vogelsong at 129 and Johnny Sanchez at 82.

    He spent a lot of time talking about pitching, as usual, and that's where the window comes in - Timmy has sunk the past two years, Vogelsong is a big questionmark, nobody stepped up this year. Further, in 2012 (when he was "surprised as anybody") Timmy was ERA+ 68, Zito managed a 85, Vogie and Bum were both 105 and Cain was 126.

    This year? Brutal. Bumgarner up to 120, and then everything else below 100. Zito and Vogelsong at 58! Cain at 83 and Timmy 76.

    That's my interpretation of "windows". Sabean says they need to rebuild staff to compete with Dodgers and the other playoff teams. I think that'd be a good idea. So it'd better start with something more appetizing than the AAA guys, Petit, Gaudin, an inconsistent Timmy...

    Oh, and Hunter Pence! Nice contract! Beat the Rowand handily.

    1. Good calls Shank.

      Keep preaching to the choir! Pence, gets his reward and the Giants get their RF for the next 5 years. Seems a bit too rich in $$$. But hey, there's gonna be some cool custom scooter rides in the house next year. At least Pence has shown he stays in great shape and should be productive for the life of the contract.

      There's Windows and then there's Window Dressing. Window Dressing is claiming to be making any major changes to the position players. Not going to happen under the RDF cap. As Lucky says above, it's improved performances, in shape players and better backup depth that will carry us in 2014. Remember the Giants offense was pretty damn good in April/May, before injuries got them.

      Agree 100% that Sabes is talking starting pitching and that's some big bay Windows that need replacing! The staff is what sunk the Giants in 2013 and help ain't coming from below until 2015.

    2. We could have had staff help in 2013.. But let's not revisit that sad episode. It's closed.

      And hopefully, it won't be a 2-year drought. We might have stick our statistical finger at the fickle (and unpredictable) baseball gods, but let's hope Sabean pulls something out of the hat for 2014, as far as the rotation is concerned. It may be long way away, but please, gods, let us get there!

    3. They basically take care of the offense/position players with one more signing/trade at 1B or LF (MLB or Abreau) as there is no help in the system...The rest of the moves are small potatoes...and there is little help in the org other than perhaps PEREZ as a 5th OF--OTOH, that means zero pop off the bench with him and Blanco..

      But I agree that the "new WINDOW" is all about the pitching again...We all know about the Cricks, Escobars, Blackburns, etc. but they won't be part of that window until 2015....That is, unless, they are used this off-season to trade for young but MLB ready talent...Could many questions on the existing staff....Can't say I feel comfortable with ANY of the possible returnees and that includes LINCE, VOGEY, PETIT, SURKAMP, GAUDIN, etc...I don't mind most of them (not Lince) competing for a 5th spot...But Sabes has to find a way to bring in TWO dependable pitchers that can go at least two years...Maybe LInce is one, but I just don't know..