Sunday, November 30, 2014

Suggestions, Questions and Your #1 Giants Prospect

OK, I'm looking for some feedback here.  The Hot Stove has been burning pretty hot lately, although the Giants don't seem to be in the room much.  I'm sure it will continue to stay stoked up through the Winter Meetings, but then things will die down rather quickly.  What are some of the topics you would be interested in reading?  Possibilities include fantasy thoughts such as position rankings, breakout candidates, sleepers and prospects.  I've also thought of doing some draft reviews.  I plan to continue the series on Scouting the 2015 Draft.  Of course, I will also be doing my annual Top 50 Giants Prospects list.  What would you like to read about?

Also, please feel free to submit any questions you might have that I could provide my thoughts on.

Lastly, please tell me who you think the Giants current #1 overall prospect is and give me your reasons why you think that.  Of course if you want to do a top 3 or top 5 or top 10 you can do that to.

Thanks to everybody for coming here, reading and commenting every day.  Readership has been at an all-time high continuing right into the postseason and I am thankful for that.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Kolby Allard

Kolby Allard is a HS LHP from San Clemente, CA.  He is listed at 6'0", 170 lbs.  He has long arms for his height and has a strong looking frame that appears to have room to fill out.  He has an advanced repertoire for a HS pitcher with a FB that goes 90-96 and sits 92-94.  He commands the FB well and it appears to jump as it approaches the plate making it a swing and miss pitch.  He backs that up with a huge curveball that breaks in two planes.  He throws the curve for strikes and it is another swing and miss pitch.  His changeup is already an average offering.  He has been compared to last year's #1 overall pick, Brady Aiken, but his not as tall.  Not that they mean much, but here are his stats from his junior season at San Clemente HS:  6-2, 1.32, 63.2 IP, 17 BB, 98 K.   His 3 year HS stats are 13-3, 1.83, 137.2 IP, 51 BB, 155 K.

BA has him ranked as the #9 draft  prospect for 2015 while Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has him at #6.  Added bonus:  He will still be months away from his 18'th birthday on draft day.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Hot Stove Update: Scouting the Rule 5 Draft

As most of you know, I am not a big fan of the Rule 5 draft, which to me seems like a redundancy to minor league free agency.  In addition, the way it is set up often ends up harming the players involved, IMO, at least as often as it helps them.  On the other hand, the Rule 5 draft is a reality and rarely there are player bargains to be found there.  The Giants have both lost and gained significant players through the Rule 5 draft.  In recent years, they have been particularly active in the minor league phases of the draft, which have different rules in that you do not have to keep the drafted player at any specific level to keep them.

I am sure most of you are aware of how the Rule 5 draft works, but here is a quick summary.  Minor league players with a certain amount of service time must be added to the 40 man MLB roster or else they can be drafted in the Rule 5 draft by another team.  A drafted player must then be kept on the 25 man active roster for the entire season or else be offered back to his original team.  The minor league phases work the same way except that teams can protect more players and a drafted player does not have to be kept at any particular level all season.  The purpose of the Rule 5 draft is to prevent teams that are rich in prospects from stashing them in the minors indefinitely.

The service time for Rule 5 eligibility was extended by 1 season in the last Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLB and the MLBPA.  It is now 4 years for college draftees and 5 years for most high school draftees and international FA signees. In the first 2 years after the service time was extended, the bottom dropped out of the quality of draft pool.  Quality seems to have rebounded a bit this year as there is a reasonably long list of interesting prospects who would have a reasonable chance of sticking and even contributing to an active MLB roster available.  For a complete rundown of who is available in the 2014 Rule 5 draft pool, there is a non-subscription article in the Baseball America website linked to the left.  For this post, I am going to focus on outfielders, third basemen and pitchers as those are the areas where the Giants have potential openings on the 25 man roster.


Delino DeShields, Astros, 21 yo, 5'9", 210 lbs, B-R, T-R, AA- .236/.346/.360, 11 HR, 54 SB, 11 CS. Recognizable name.  4.5 tools with plus speed.  Can take a walk. The rap on him is lack of hustle as he has been benched several times for failing to run out ground balls.  Won't turn 22 until August.

Jose Tabata, Pirates, 25 yo, 5'11", 210 lbs, B-R, T-R.  MLB- .282/.314/.333.  AAA- .281/.337/.349.  Tabata is another recognizable name. Once upon a time he was one of the most highly touted prospects in baseball, mostly by Yankee fans.  His power never developed and once promising speed disappeared, but will hit for some average.  Some have suspected that he is older than is stated age, but that seems to be all sorted out now.  Tabata is in a unique position in that he has a MLB contract that will pay him $8.5 M over the next two seasons even though he is off the Pirates 40 man roster.  Potential drafting teams probably do not want to take on the contract.  He would come cheaply in a trade without the Rule 5 restrictions and the Pirates might even chip in for some of the salary.  He is from Venezuela and the Giants seem to have a connection to that country.

Jared Mitchell, White Sox, 26 yo, 6'0", 205 lbs, B-L, T-L.  AAA- .230/.360/.375, 9 HR, 11 SB.  AA- .299/.367/.561, 10 HR, 4 SB.  Yet another recognizable name.  Former first round draft pick out of LSU.  Mitchell is a true 5 tool talent.  His pro career was interrupted by a bad ankle injury.  Big rap on him is his strikeout rate of over 30% but he also walks at a 15% rate.  Still may have tremendous upside even at age 26.  Man, I would really like to see the Giants take a flyer on him if he is still there when their turn to draft comes up.  I would think he would go earlier though.

Zach Borenstein, D'Backs, 24 yo, 6'0", 225 lbs, B-L, T-R.  Borenstein played both AA and AAA for 2  organizations last year as he was traded from the Angels to the D'Backs for Joe Saunders.  He hit for a combined .256 with 15 HR's for 4 different teams.  Hit .337 with 28 HR's for Inland Empire in the High A Cal League in 2013.  I don't know anything about his D, but I saw him play in San Bernardino in 2013 and dude can seriously rake!  BA has him listed in the category of too big a jump, but he did play a total of a half season for two AAA teams last year.  Again, some team could be getting a serious hitter at essentially no risk if they take him in the Rule 5 draft.

Whit Merrifield, Royals, 25 yo, 6'1", 175 lbs, B-R, T-R.  AAA- .340/.373/.474, 28 2B, 3 HR, 11 SB.  listed as 2B/OF.  High AAA BA was largely BABIP driven, but he is a good contact hitter with gap power.


Third Basemen:

Matt Skole, Nationals, 6'3", 225 lbs, B-L, T-R.  AA- .241/.352/.399, 14 HR.  Once considered a top prospect, hit 27 HR's in 2012.  Missed most of 2013 due to injury and got off to a slow start to 2014.  Seems like a no-risk move to draft him and see what he shows in spring training.


Starting Pitchers:

Cody Martin, Braves, RHP, 25 yo, 6'3", 230 lbs.  AAA- 7-8, 3.52, 156 IP, 8.12 K/9, 3.12 BB/9, 1.25 GO/AO.  Strong AAA numbers, and nice size but does not have elite stuff.  Probably does not offer a lot more than a Chris Heston.

Greg Peavey, Mets, RHP, 26 yo, 6'2", 185 lbs.  AA- 11-3, 2.90, 115 IP, 7.75 K/9, 2.25 BB/9.  Recognizable name.  Terrific AA numbers but got torched for a 11.62 ERA in AAA Las Vegas.  Shut down the Flying Squirrels in the EL playoffs, but nothing really to brag about there.  92-94 MPH FB.

Logan Verrett, Mets, RHP, 24 yo, 6'2", 190 lbs.  AAA- 11-5, 4.33, 162 IP, 34 BB, 119 K, 1.74 GO/AO.  Nice numbers for Las Vegas, but "lacks a true plus pitch."


Relief Pitchers:

Edgar De La Rosa, Tigers, 24 yo, RHP, 6'8", 235 lbs.  High A-  7-9, 3.30, 139 IP, 53 BB, 91 K, GO/AO= 1.21.  De La Rosa was a starter in high A ball, but would be a reliever if he made  the jump to the majors now.  Not big with K's, but throws extremely hard, regularly touching 100 MPH.  One scout said he goes to the mound with a 7 FB every time!  Also has a pretty good changeup to go with it.  Big dude!

Jarlin Garcia, Marlins, 21 yo, LHP, 6'2", 170 lbs.  Low A- 10-5, 4.38, 133.2 IP, 21 BB, 111 K, GO/AO= 2.24.  Sports a FB that goes 91-94 MPH with a curve to back it up.  Extreme GB pitchers with a solid K rate.  Starter in low A who could probably contribute as a reliever at the MLB level now.

Mychal Givens, Orioles, 23 yo, RHP, 6'0", 207 lbs.  AA- 0-0, 3.91, 25.1 IP, 23 BB, 28 K, GO/AO= 4.25.  High A- 1-2, 3.24, 33.1 IP, 16 BB, 27 K, GO/AO= 2.50.  Former highly touted SS prospect, now converted to pitcher.  FB goes 93-95, obviously with serious sink.  Has a solid slider to back it up.

Jandal Gustave, Astros, 22 yo RHP, 6'2", 170 lbs.  Low A- 5-5, 5.01, 79 IP, 29 BB, 82 K, GO/AO= 1.84.  FB touches 100 MPH.  Could probably survive as a reliever in a MLB bullpen now.

Gregory Infante, Blue Jays, 26 yo, RHP, 6'2", 215 lbs.  AA- 0-1, 1.86, 38.2 IP, 16 BB, 34 K's, GO/AO= 1.34, 22 Saves.  AAA- 2-1, 2.35, 7.2 IP, 2 BB, 10 K.  9 year minor league veteran with 4 innings of MLB experience under his belt with the ChiSox all the way back in 2010.  Despite 9  years in the minors, he is still just 26 yo.  Reportedly pitching well in the VWL which the Giants have been known to scout heavily and find diamonds in the rough.  He just seems to fit the profile of the type of player the Giants have signed and had success with.  If I had to bet on one player that they may be targeting in the Rule 5 draft, this would be the guy!

There are at least 10 other potential reliever types, several of whom reportedly touch triple digits with the heater, available which seem to be the most likely ones to stick and contribute on a MLB team for a full season.

Josh Osich seems to be the Giants prospect most likely to be drafted but there are so many reliever types available, I will be surprised if he goes.  Do you have any players in mind who the Giants might go after in this Rule 5 draft?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Hot Stove Update: Billy Beane Throws In the Towel for 2015

Whoa!  Yet another surprising and baffling move by Billy Beane!  The Oakland A's traded 3B Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays for 3B Brett Lawrie plus 3 minor leaguers, RHP Kendall Graveman, RHP Sean Nolin and SS Franklin Barreto.  Donaldson has been one of the best hitters in baseball over the past 2 seasons.  He is first year arbitration eligible as a "Super 2" so has 4 years of team control on his contract.  Although he will get expensive in arbitration, he is projected to make just around $5 M in 2015 and if he continues to produce as he has, would likely out earn his salary during that time.

Brett Lawrie is also first year arbitration eligible, but only has 3 years of team control.  Although he has been a highly touted prospect, he has not come close to Donaldson's performance over the past 2 seasons.  While he could break out like Donaldson did, it seems unlikely that he will approach Donaldson's lofty achievements.  I think you have to mark this down as a clear downgrade of starting 3B for the A's.

What makes it possibly a good deal for the future is the acquisition of 3 reasonably talented prospects who appear to be likely to contribute in the future, although probably at least 2-3 years down the road for the shortstop, Barreto, who clearly has the highest ceiling of the 3.

Now, if Billy Beane is blowing up the team he built over the last 3 seasons and is going for a future "window" a few years down the road, then he got good overall value for Donaldson, both quality and quantity.  But, if that is the case, then why on Earth did he sign Billy Butler as a free agent?

You have to think that Jeff Samardzija is going to be traded very soon as well and Brandon Moss has publicly wondered if his days with Oakland may be numbered.

Can't wait to see how the Fangraphs boys evaluate this one!

2015 Giants Depth Chart: Relief Pitching

The Giants bullpen, like other aspects of the roster, is entering a transition phase as stalwarts who have carried them through 3 championships in 5 seasons age or get more expensive than their true value.  There will likely several bullpen slots open for competition come spring training.  Some people complain about how much the Giants spend on their bullpen, but unless they sign a high priced reliever this offseason, the total cost of their bullpen will be no more than some teams pay for just their closer!


Santiago Casilla, RHP- 3-3, 1.70, 58.1 IP, 6.94 K/9, 2.31 BB/9, 19 Saves.  Casilla is the incumbent closer.  He did a solid job, but I don't think anyone was clamoring for him to close out Game 7 of the World Series.  He will earn $5 M in 2015 and has a team option for 2016.

Jeremy Affeldt, LHP- 4-2, 2.28, 55.1 IP, 6.67 K/9, 2.28 BB/9.  Affeldt, much like the Giants as a whole has alternated excellent seasons and down seasons.  2014 was an excellent season.  I'll say this about Affeldt.  Without him, I don't think the Giants win even 1 World Series in the past 5 seasons let alone 3!  He is coming into the final year of a 3 year contract and will be paid $5 M.  2015 will be his age 36 season.

Jean Machi, RHP- 7-1, 2.58, 66.1 IP, 6.92 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, 2 Saves.  Machi was terrific all season then kind of collapsed in the postseason.  Was he fatigued?  He seemed to suddenly start hanging his forkball.  He is not yet arbitration eligible, so will likely earn close to the league minimum.

Javier Lopez, LHP- 1-1, 3.11, 37.2 IP, 5.26 K/9, 4.54 BB/9.  Extreme lefty specialist.  Lopez had a down year.  Entering the second year of a 3 year contract and will be paid $4 M which may be a bit rich if he does not bounce back and kill lefty hitters again.

Hunter Strickland, RHP- 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 11.57 K/9, 0.00 BB/9, 1 Save.  His regular season line only shows a small fraction of the story here.  Strickland was used extensively in the postseason.  He had some spectacular moments such as saving the 18 inning game, but also gave up a ton of dingers.  Clearly has work to do before we can count on him for an MLB role in 2015.  Throws in the high 90's touching 100 MPH which Bochy clearly loves.

George Kontos, RHP- 4-0, 2.78, 32.1 IP, 7.52 K/9, 3.06 BB/9.  Has been maddeningly inconsistent looking great at times.  At other times gets slider happy and starts hanging 'em.

Erik Cordier, RHP- 0-0, 1.50, 6 IP, 13.50 K/9, 3.00 BB/9.  Throws even harder than Strickland, but has been wilder.  Will contend for a MLB job in Spring Training.

If the season started tomorrow, I think Strickland, Kontos and Cordier would be the back end of the bullpen.  If the Giants sign another starter, either Petit or Lincecum would slide into the bullpen and bump one of those 3 off.  Look for the Giants to bring in a veteran or two on minor league deals to provide competition in spring training too.  I don't think Romo will be back.



Brett Bochy, RHP- 4-4, 3.83, 54 IP, 7.83 K/9, 4.50 BB/9.  Son of the Giants Hall of Fame Manager.  Probably does not have enough stuff to be a MLB pitcher.



Steven Okert, LHP- 1-0, 2.73, 33 IP, 10.36 K/9, 3.00 BB/9, 5 Saves.  High A- 1-2, 1.53, 35.1 IP, 13.75 K/9, 2.80 BB/9, 19 Saves.  AFL- 0-0, 0.75, 12 IP, 12.75 K/9, 0.75 BB/9, 1 Save.  Big, hard throwing lefty who gets his FB into the mid-90's backed up by a plus slider.  A near lock to be at least a lefty specialist in the majors and possibly a lot more.  Heir apparent to Jeremy Affeldt's role and could even become a closer!  Don't count this guy out of the competition for a roster spot out of spring training!

Cody Hall, RHP- 1-4, 3.14, 51.2 IP, 9.93 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, 11 Saves.  Hard throwing RHP.  Does not have quite the velocity of Strickland or Cordier, but may be a better pitcher.  Definitely better command than Cordier.  Could help by midseason and may be in the mix for a roster spot out of Spring Training.

Derek Law, RHP- 2-0, 2.57, 28 IP, 9.32 K/9, 4.50 BB/9, 13 Saves.  The BB/9 was surprising for a guy who walked just 4 batters in 2013.  In retrospect, it was probably a sign of his UCL going.  Underwent TJ about 2 months in.  Should be back around midseason.  Realistically, probably won't be a factor at the MLB level until 2016.

Josh Osich, LHP- 1-0, 3.78, 33.1 IP, 7.29 K/9, 5.40 BB/9.  Osich has never really gotten his career on track, mostly due to nagging injuries.  Left unprotected for the upcoming Rule 5 draft.  Small chance he may be picked, but this year's Rule 5 draft is chock full of bullpen arms who have hit triple digits.

Phil McCormick, LHP- 2-4, 3.72, 65.1 IP, 8.54 K/9, 3.99 BB/9, 1 Save.  Lefty who can go more than 1 inning at a time.  Needs to cut down on the walks a bit.

Dan Slania, RHP- 0-0, 0.79, 11.1 IP, 2.38 K/9, 2.38 BB/9.  Low A- 2-5, 3.99, 58.2 IP, 7.06 K/9, 3.22 BB/9, 12 Saves.  Numbers a bit disappointing to my eye for Big Dan but Giants gave him the late season promo to AA.


High A:

Tyler Rogers, RHP- 4-0, 2.00, 72 IP, 9.00 K/9, 2.75 BB/9, 2 Saves.  AFL- 0-0, 2.13, 12.2 IP, 4.97 K/9, 1.42 BB/9.  Sidearming RHP was a workhorse out of the San Jose bullpen.  Should move up to AA in 2015.

Ray Black, RHP- 1-0, 2.75, 4 IP, 15.75 K/9, 4.50 BB/9.  Low A- 1-3, 3.73, 31.1 IP, 18.38 K/9, 4.02 BB/9.  Black has a long history of injuries but was healthy in 2014 and hit triple digits with regularity.  Added to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.  I see no reason why he should not challenge for a 2015 MLB roster spot.  If he can stay healthy, wouldn't shock me if he was the Giants closer by the end of the 2015 season.

Stephen Johnson, RHP- 7-4, 3.65, 69 IP, 10.04 K/9, 4.70 BB/9, 1 Save.  Hit triple digits in college, but I don't think he does anymore.  Bullpen workhorse for SJ in 2014.  Should move up to AA.

Tyler Mizenko, RHP- 4-3, 3.48, 62 IP, 6.97 K/9, 2.47 BB/9, 14 Saves.  Extreme groundball pitcher.  has done a lot of closing in the lower minors, but probably does not have the stuff to be a MLB closer.  Could eventually be a long man, innings eater in the majors.

Bryce Bandilla, LHP- 0-1, 3.15, 34.1 IP, 12.32 K/9, 4.19 BB/9, 8 Saves.  Came back to SJ after washing out in AA and took over the closer role at the end of the season.  Should get a chance to try AA again in 2015.

Mason McVay, LHP- 0-5, 4.38, 72 IP, 10.38 K/9, 3.25 BB/9, 1 Save.  Big LHP who can go multiple innings.  I think he could still be converted to starter if the need arose.  Should move up to AA in 2015.


Low A:

DJ Snelton, LHP- 4-1, 1.23, 29.1 IP, 9.82 K/9, 4.91 BB/9.  Big, tall lefty with great stuff.  Needs to cut down on the walks.

Carlos Alvarado, RHP- 6-1, 2.03, 62 IP, 7.98 K/9, 1.89 BB/9.  Tall thin RHP 25 years old.  Did not fair well in a late season callup to AA.

Jacob Smith, RHP- 3-5, 2.79, 58 IP, 11.95 K/9, 4.66 BB/9, 5 Saves.  Got hit in an extremely SSS after late callup to SJ.

Short Season:

Eduardo Encinosa, RHP- 4-1, 2.39, 26.1 IP, 7.52 K/9, 3.42 BB/9, 1 Save.  Big RHP out of Miami.  Has pitched well, but in very few innings since being drafted 3 years ago.

Eury Sanchez, RHP- 3-3, 3.48, 33.2 IP, 13.37 K/9, 4.01 BB/9, 14 Saves.  Small RHP, DSL graduate with big K numbers.

Rookie AZL:

Greg Brody, RHP- 1-1, 0.63, 14.1 IP, 16.95 K/9, 1.88 BB/9, 2 Saves.  College Closer, 11'th round draft pick out of Belmont.  Nice pro start in a very SSS.

Sam Coonrod, RHP- 1-0, 0.63, 27.2 IP, 8.13 K/9, 1.95 BB/9.  Hard throwing RHP drafted in round 5. Started 5 games out of 15 appearances in Arizona, but probably projects more as a MLB reliever.  Reputation for wildness so the BB/9 is encouraging albeit at a low level.

All in all, the Giants farm system has a generous supply of hard throwing, projectable bullpen arms with a nice distribution between RHP's and LHP's.  The farm system should provide a steady supply of bullpen pieces that can be supplemented by "dumpster dives" thus keeping the cost of maintaining the bullpen down while remaining competitive for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thoughts on Yoan Moncada

With the signing of Yasmany Tomas yesterday, the international buzz shifts to Yoan Moncada, an name that had been siphoning away some of the exuberance surrounding Tomas for awhile.  In fact, if you are still scratching your head over why Tomas deal was lower priced than had been predicted by many, Moncada may well be part of the reason.  Moncada's situation is a bit different in that he is just 19 years old.  His age and experience makes him an international amateur FA according to MLB rules as opposed to a MLB free agent.  More on that later.

Yoan Moncada is a middle infielder who has played both SS and 2B in Cuba.  He has a compact build at 6'1", 210 lbs.  He is a fast-twitch athlete who Kiley McDaniel reports has "plus-plus speed" and at least moderate power from both sides of the plate.  There is a highlight video out on the internet that mostly shows him diving for balls at both 2B and SS with a few batting sequences.  In one sequence, it does look like he gets down the 1B line in just over 4.00 secs.  His numbers at all levels in Cuba are very good.  Levels of play in Cuba are a bit confusing, but it appears that he has played 2 seasons at their MLB equivalent level with decent numbers i.e. .260 BA with high walk rates and approximately .450 SLG%.  As of the last report I could find, he had yet to be seen by many MLB international scouts, but has subsequently had workouts witnessed by scouts reportedly including Giants representatives.  It is generally agreed that if he was a draft prospect, he would easily be top 5 and probably be #1 overall.  He might need up to 1-2 years in the minors, but his level of experience in Cuba would suggest he would probably be almost immediately capable of playing at the MLB level.

From the videos I saw, he certainly looks both athletic, fast as heck and strong.  Although his body has been compared to Yasiel Puig's, he does not look as tall a Puig and his body not nearly as brawny.  I think he looks a bit thick in the middle for a 19 year old and would be mildly concerned that his body not only does not have physical projection but may actually have negative projection.  In other words, if he fills out any more, he will be overweight!  The other thing is you really can't tell about his defense from the videos as we all know that there is a lot more to defense than diving stops.  Diving stops in one game might be "past a diving Moncada" in another!  I'm not saying his D is not good.  Just that you cannot tell from the video highlights that are available.  The fact that he has already played 2B and that some scouts think SS may be the one position he cannot play adds to the caution here.  If he can't play SS, it would seem that both 2B and 3B waste his speed tool in terms of defensive value and he may be best used as an OF, not that there is anything wrong with that.

Now we get to the complicated part.  If Moncada were a MLB free agent, the bidding to sign him would probably go at least as high as Abreu, Tomas and Castillo and probably higher.  I'm thinking somewhere in the $80-100 M range.  The problem is that under international bonus pool rules,  all money has to go toward the signing bonus which has to be paid off within 12 months as opposed to a MLB contract in which the total amount can be spread out over 5 or more years. In most cases it has been over 6 years.  In Moncada's case, since he is so young, it could be extended for 10 years or more.  In addition to requiring everything to be paid upfront in a bonus payment, there is a 100% penalty paid to MLB for every dollar over the signing team's bonus pool, plus the signing team would then be only able to sign international prospects for $300 K or less for the next two years.  So, a signing bonus of, say, $30 M would actually cost $60 M!  Current estimates by most analysts are that Moncada will get a bonus in the range of $30-50 M for a total cost of $60-100 M which would all have to be paid within 12 months.  Obviously, not every team in MLB is going to be able, let alone willing, to make that kind of lump-sum payment.

The next problem with the Moncada situation is nobody knows exactly when he will become available.  He has been declared a FA by MLB, but still has to go through government clearance to come to the U.S. which can take variable lengths of time.  This makes it extremely difficult for teams to budget the kind of money that will be required to sign him.  For instance, if the Giants decided he was their guy, they might sit out the FA period going only for dumpster dive types in order to save up money to sign Moncada.  The problem is, that could come before spring training or after July 2, and there is no guarantee they would be the team that ended up signing him anyway, which would leave them with nothing to show for this offseason and a whole bunch of unspent money!

In summary, while Moncada looks like an exciting prospect, possibly the best in several years, I would be cautious about getting too irrationally exuberant about him for the following reasons:

1.  He may not grade out as high with professional scouts as with guys who write for websites.  We've already seen some of that with Tomas.

2.  The Giants have always adhered strictly to a yearly budget.  If a player gets too expensive for the current season's budget they will either pass or backload the contract to make the short term budget work.  They do not have that flexibility with Moncada.

3.  Sabean likes to wrap up his offseason business as soon as possible, so it is unlikely that he would want to hold back available money from the offseason for a future payment to Moncada, especially when there is no guarantee that Moncada would sign with the Giants at all!

It is likely that the only way Moncada wears a Giants uniform is if the baseball people are so blown away with him that they go to ownership and beg for them to break out the Greg Maddux/Rainy Day Fund money, or perhaps even borrow from future savings on the ballpark mortgage to sign him.  Maybe Yoan Moncada is worth all that.  Based on the small video snippets I've seen, I have to say I am skeptical.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Nathan Kirby

Nathan Kirby is a LHP who goes 6'2", 190 lbs and pitches for college baseball powerhouse Virginia.  He had a tremendous sophomore season with a pitching line of 9-3, 2.06, 113.1 IP, 33 BB, 112 K.  Included in that line was a no-hitter against Pitt with 18 K's and just 1 BB.  He has also performed well in summer league competition.  He's a relatively rare power lefty with a FB that goes 90-94 with some tailing action and command to both sides of the plate.  He compliments that with a plus curveball and a a changeup that is rapidly becoming a plus pitch.  On video he has a smooth but powerful delivery with a 3/4 release point.  BA has him ranked as the #8 2015 draft prospect while Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has him at #21.  He seems like a solid bet to be a future #3 starter in MLB.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2015 Giants Depth Chart: Starting Pitching Part III

We'll cover some pitching prospects in the deep minors, a few of whom may be the highest ceiling prospects in the Giants system:

Short Season:

Keury Mella, RHP- 1-1, 1.83, 19.2 IP, 9.15 K/9, 2.75 BB/9.  Low A- 3-3, 3.93, 66.1 IP, 8.55 K/9, 1.76 BB/9.  High ceiling pitching prospect who performed well.  Had a midseason shoulder scare but came back strong in limited action late in the season.  Could move up fast if healthy.

Tyler Beede, RHP- 0-0, 2.70, 6.2 IP, 9.45 K/9, 4.05 BB/9.  Rookie AZL- 0-1, 3.12, 8.2 IP, 11.42 K/9, 4.15 BB/9.  Very SSS due to pitching to the final game of the college WS.  Did not shake concerns about his control/command.  Should move fast as soon as he solves that.

Jason Forjet, RHP- 7-1, 3.10, 87 IP, 9.00 K/9, 1.66 BB/9.  Impressive numbers but at a lower level than 2013(high A).

Jose Reyes, RHP- 6-4, 3.89, 83.1 IP, 6.91 K/9, 1.73 BB/9.  Contact pitcher at a low level.  Odds are against guys with that profile.

Nick Gonzalez, LHP- 2-5, 4.06, 71 IP, 5.96 K/9, 3.55 BB/9.  Big LHP, but very disappointing numbers after a promising debut in rookie ball last year.

Ethan Miller, RHP- 5-3, 4.60, 78.1 IP, 6.55 K/9, 1.72 BB/9.  Ran hot and cold.  Had some very good games.  Enough here that I want to see more at higher levels.

Andrew Leenhouts, LHP- 3-4, 4.73, 72.1 IP, 8.83 K/9, 1.37 BB/9.  Improved on his 2013 numbers but at the same level.

Mella and Beede are the names to really watch here.


Rookie AZL:

Matthew Gage, LHP- 2-0, 1.89, 33.1 IP, 8.64 K/9, 2.16 BB/9.  College pitching draftee will have to prove it at higher levels.

Michael Santos, RHP- 4-3, 2.56, 59.2 IP, 7.54 K/9, 1.96 BB/9.  Young RHP with tools.  Walk rate very encouraging, but would like to see a higher K rate.

There were several other interesting pitchers who may or may not be future starters including draftees Logan Webb and Stetson Woods plus holdovers Dylan Brooks and Rayan Hernandez.



Deyerbert Bolivar, LHP, 18 yo- 7-1, 1.77, 64 IP, 9.42 K/9, 2.81 BB/9.  Smallish LHP with nice numbers.  6 figure bonus baby.  We should see him in Arizona in 2015.

Alejandro Flores, RHP, 20 yo- 4-1, 2.86, 63 IP, 8.00 K/9, 1.71 BB/9.  Old for level but nice numbers.

Prebito Reyes, LHP, 18 yo- 3-3, 3.11, 66.2 IP, 6.48 K/9, 2.16 BB/9.  Bigger than Bolivar but not as heralded and numbers not quite as good.

Victor Concepcion, RHP, 17 yo- 6-1, 3.18, 65 IP, 10.38 K/9, 2.08 BB/9.  On the small side, but given age and numbers, worth following closely.

Hot Stove Update: Yasmany Tomas To Sign With D'Backs

The Yasmany Tomas watch is over.  The D'Backs agreed to a deal of 6 years/$68 M with an opt out clause at 4 years.  As you recall, Tomas is a Cuban OF with impressive power potential, but questionable just about everything else.  I wrote about him in an earlier post after seeing some video of him hitting a couple of 'taters.  I liked his swing.  I also said we don't know much more about him and we would have to trust the Giants scouts on him.

This is my current take:  6 years/$68 M is a lot lower than some of the earlier predictions about his price which in some cases was over $100 M.  Several big money teams who seemed to be interested backed off late, reportedly due to concerns about conditioning and weight.  He also struggled against good college pitching in an international tournament.  The Giants reportedly had 4 separate workouts with him and had personal connections to his agent, Jay Alou.  Given that Pablo signed with Boston, the Giants certainly had the resources to top the D'Backs price if they really wanted him.  I have to believe that the Giants talent evaluators just were not that impressed and they basically passed on him.

After the Hellickson trade, I have to say I am less than impressed with Dave Stewart's talent evaluation skills so I do not necessarily think this is a good deal for the D'Backs.  As for the Giants, we know they also have looked at Yoan Moncada and may have decided to use the Tomas resources on him.  Or, they may be more serious about a Jon Lester signing than we think.  In the end, if they let Tomas go for this price, I have to believe they were less than impressed by what they saw and I am willing to trust their judgement.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hot Stove Update: Tim Flannery Announces His Retirement From Coaching Baseball

Today, Giants 3B coach Tim Flannery posted a message on his Facebook page announcing his retirement from the position.  While he is retiring from coaching the Giants, he is not retiring from life as he plans to continue recording and touring with his music band, the Lunatic Fringe, as well as continue his charity work.  Prior to coming to San Francisco to coach 3B under Manager Bruce Bochy, Flannery had spent his entire baseball career with the San Diego Padres as a player, minor league manager and coach.  His playing career spanned 11 seasons, mostly as a scrappy reserve infielder.  He then went into managing and coaching and was the Padres 3B coach until 2002.  He remained out of baseball until 2007 when Bruce Bochy called and asked him to do "one more  ride" with him and the Giants.  The first season, was rocky as the Barry Bonds era ended in a metaphorical pile of rubble.  2008 wasn't much better and both Boch and Flan wondered how long the ride was going to last.  Well, it lasted 9 years and brought 3 World Series Championships, the only ones of the Giants San Francisco era.

Flannery was not just the Giants 3B coach.  He became part of the community, performing with his band which he even named after a local inside joke spawned by Brian Sabean's infamous "lunatic fringe" comment.  Ha!  Maybe Flan will name his next band the Cockroaches?  It was Tim Flannery who took the lead in raising money to help Brian Stow and his family after Stow suffered permanent brain damage in a beating in the Dodger Stadium parking lot.  Yeah, Tim Flannery may have spent his playing career in San Diego and started his coaching career there, but he was born to be the Giants 3B coach.

In retiring, Flannery wrote an eloquent farewell on his Facebook page.  You can read the full text on several Giants related websites.  I recommend, the article about Flannery explaining his decision.  Here are some key quotes:

"I've buried friends.  I've put friends in rehab.  I've watched marriages dissolve.  There is a lot of collateral damage in this lifestyle I've had for 35 years.  I'm going to send myself home safely."

"I had no desire to manage… then you ask yourself, what else are you going to do?  Keep coaching third till you drop over?"

"I need to stay home a little while and enjoy what we have just accomplished, or else it doesn't mean anything."

"I just feel like I did it in the baseball world.  I was as fulfilled helping the Stow family as much as anything I've done."

Then to me, this is his money quote.  I've read it at least 5 times today and I'm still getting tears in my eyes:

"With a heavy heart, I want to say something.  I left everything 9 years ago to chase a dream.  I left my home, my family to follow my leader and friend, Bruce Bochy, to fight another battle and bring a World Championship to San Francisco.  When I came here, I wasn't going to let anyone in on who I was.  I wasn't going to let anyone break my heart by getting too close to who I am.  I was just going to do my job and hide.  Well, of course that didn't happen…."

"Honored to be a Giant."

No Flan!  WE are honored that you are a Giant!


I don't know if Tim Flannery plays this song in his shows, but it would be a good one for a guy who has been happy to play a supporting role his entire 35 years in Major League Baseball:


He wants to dream like a young man
with the wisdom of an old man.
He wants his home and security.
He wants to live like a sailor at sea.

Beautiful loser.
where you gonna to fall
when you realize
you just don't need it all?

He's your oldest and your best friend.
When you need him, he'll be there again.
He's always willing to be second best,
a perfect lodger, a perfect guest.

Beautiful loser…….

Bob Seger

The only difference between Flan and the character in this song is Flan is going out a beautiful winner!

Hot Stove Update: Pablo Sandoval To Sign With BoSox, Part II

In Part I, we looked at how the loss of Pablo Sandoval may impact the Giants.  In Part II, we will look at what the Boston Red Sox may gain from signing him as well as Hanley Ramirez.  A few years ago, the Red Sox went on a spending spree through free agency and trades that netted them Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, John Lackey and Josh Beckett among others.  It looked good on paper, but the pieces just did not fit together, in the clubhouse or the field.  The result was a last place finish with the architect, Theo Epstein fleeing the scene leaving someone else to sift through the debris.  Ben Cherington somehow managed to unload the malcontents.  He signed several role players to more modest contracts and the Red Sox bounced all the way back to championship.  Those role players were lightning in a bottle from stopgaps, though.  The plan was to gradually work in the prospects from one of the strongest farm systems in baseball as the stopgaps moved on.  The problem is the rookies were not quite ready and the stopgaps all regressed to about what you would expect from them and another last place finish ensued.

The Red Sox are now on another spending spree and already find themselves with pieces that may not fit.  First, let's look at the hard numbers.  Pablo Sandoval has averaged 2.7 fWAR over the past 3 seasons, 2.8/600 PA.  The Red Sox already had 4 in-house options who can play the position.  OK, we'll stipulate that Will Middlebrooks is a bust.  That leaves super-utility man Brock Holt who could take over the position and prospect Garin Cecchini who spent most of last year at AAA and played well in a small sample size with the Red Sox.  They also have Xander Bogaerts who may play SS, but has played 3B and played it well.  All told, I am not sure how much of an upgrade Boston just paid $100 M for.

Then there is the culture of the place.  Yes, Red Sox Nation has their lovable overweight dude in Big Papi, but Panda ain't no Papi.  While Giants fans in some corners would get restless when Pablo would eat himself out of the lineup, you could always find Panda hats scattered around AT&T Park.  There will be no reservoir of good will in Boston.  Let Pablo come in weighing 280 lbs and the first slump will turn those Boston fans into an angry mob!  Heck, he might not even have to come in at 280 lbs.  At his most svelte, Pablo has never been thin!  The comment that the option of moving to DH is part of what attracted Pablo to Boston as well as his brother's bristling at any weight incentives is not encouraging in terms of his intention to stay in shape.

Then there is the curious fact of the concomitant Hanley Ramirez signing.  Ramirez is a SS who pretty much everyone agrees cannot field the position anymore.  Is Ramirez going to displace Bogaerts and SS?  Maybe, but 3B is probably his best position now, except that is where Pablo is playing.  Most analysts think Hanley will play LF which means that Yoenis Cespedes is almost surely going to be traded, except how much of an upgrade in LF is Ramirez over Cespedes?  Even if Ramirez can play LF, will he?  I can just see him jogging after balls out there right now!

Even if you take the position that Boston has unlimited money to spend and doesn't care how much it takes for a 0.5 fWAR upgrade, these are still two head-scratchy moves that are not locks for even that much of an upgrade.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hot Stove Update: Pablo Sandoval To Sign With BoSox, Part I

After a ridiculous Kabuki dance of leaks, denials, more leaks, silence and more denials, Pablo Sandoval's agent finally confirmed late today that Pablo would be signing a contract with the Boston Red Sox.  The contract is believed to be for 5 years/$100 M.  The Giants kept insisting that they had not made their final offer.  It either came up short or they were not given the opportunity.  In the end, I am not sure how much the Giants really wanted to re-sign Pablo.  If I had to guess, Pablo may have wondered that himself which may be a big part of the reason he chose Boston.  In any event, while Pablo will be difficult to replace, I am also quite sure that a 5 year/$100 M contract is way too much for him and Boston will come to regret their irrational exuberance here.

If the Giants did not really want to sign Pablo or even if they were ambivalent about it, you have to wonder why they spend the better part of November apparently doing nothing but going through the motions.  Was it just a facade to placate the fan base?  They now face the daunting task of replacing Pablo as well as addressing other free agents from last year's team and holes to fill on the roster.  Make no mistake, the task is daunting.  We've had the discussion several times.  The FA market is uninspiring to say the least.  Sabes has already said there are no internal options.  The trade market is limited.  I expect the Giants will next make a final push to sign Yasmany Tomas.  In fact, we may get to test my theory that the Giants already have a deal in place for Tomas pending Pablo's decision!  If they are successful, they will try him at 3B as his agent, Jay Alou, and Jay's uncle Felipe have suggested.  They may also make a play for Chase Headley.  I don't know if  there is any connection between Headley and Bruce Bochy from their Padres days.  I think Headley broke in after Bochy left.  If the Giants want Headley, they will have to outbid the Yankees for him.  Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine.

There was talk today that the Giants might go in a completely different direction and make a play for Jon Lester.  They do need to upgrade their starting pitching.  If they only have enough money under their self imposed salary cap to sign one big name, pitching is probably the most effective way to go.  At least one of the Giants beat writers basically wrote off the Lester idea.  I personally think Lester is looking more toward Atlanta or the East Coast.  The BoSox are trying hard to get him back and seem to have unlimited money to spend and are not afraid to bust through the luxury tax threshold.

This is an opportunity for Sabes to get creative.  It's been a long time since Sabes did much in the offseason besides methodically fill holes.  Let's see him do something big and crazy here like figure out how to make a play for someone else's prized prospect or maybe an under-the-radar prospect he can get with the trade chips he has.  I don't know what it might be, but that's why he's getting paid the big bucks.  Personally I really like Garin Cecchini, the Red Sox 3B prospect who now has no place to play, or maybe Will Middlebrooks can still be salvaged?

In Part II, we will look at this from Boston's viewpoint.

2015 Giants Depth Chart: Starting Pitching Part II

In this post, we'll cover the starting pitchers who finished the season at AA, High A and Low A.


Ty Blach, LHP- 8-8, 3.13, 141 IP, 5.81 K/9, 2.49 BB/9, 1.07 GO/AO.  Blach pitched effectively, but the K's fell off.  That is an ugly ratio.

Clayton Blackburn, RHP- 5-6, 3.29, 93 IP, 8.23 K/9, 1.94 BB/9, 1.95 GO/AO.  Blackburn missed some time with injury, but put up strong numbers. The groundball ratio is particularly impressive for this high a level of play.  Got in some additional innings in the AFL and said he was working on a cutter or slider. Candidate for a mid-season callup in 2015, but the innings jump may be a limiting factor.

Chris Stratton, RHP- 1-1, 3.52, 23 IP, 7.04 K/9, 4.70 BB/9, 1.29 GO/AO.  High A- 7-8, 5.07, 99.1 IP, 9.24 K/9, 3.26 BB/9, 1.52 GO/AO.  Stratton's ERA was better in AA, but his peripheral numbers were way worse, albeit in a small sample size.  He's an enigma at this point.  Will 2015 be his breakout season?

Steven Snodgrass, LHP- 11-6, 3.56, 5.89 K/9, 2.81 BB/9, 1.51 GO/AO.  GB pitcher who pounds the K zone.  Could be a Jeremy Affeldt type lefty reliever in the making.

Kyle Crick, RHP- 6-7, 3.79, 90.1 IP, 11.06 K/9, 6.08, BB/9, 1.16 GO/AO.  As you can see from the K and BB numbers he's still got premium stuff with a huge wild hair up his nose.  BB/9 has been remarkably stable since day 1.  He's gotta find a way to bring that down.

Adalberto Mejia, LHP- 7-9, 4.67, 108 IP, 6.83 K/9, 2.58 BB/9, 0.64 GO/AO.  A bit of a disappointing season for Mejia, but he was one of the youngest players in the league.  Starts the 2015 season with a 50 game suspension.


High A:

Joe Kurrasch, LHP- 8-4, 3.05, 91.1 IP, 4.83 K/9, 3.25 BB/9, 0.81 GO/AO.  Strong flyball tendency with a low K rate is not a recipe for future success.

Matt Lujan, LHP- 6-2, 3.42, 71 IP, 8.75 K/9, 2.92 BB/9, 1.39 GO/AO.  High A- 6-2, 2.19, 70.0 IP, 8.49 K/9, 2.70 BB/9, 1.47 GO/AO.  Very interesting numbers for the kid from San Francisco.  Got a late start due to TJ surgery, but is putting up consistently solid numbers.  Move him up and see what happens!

Joe Biagini, RHP.  10-9, 4.01, 128 IP, 7.24 K/9, 3.23 BB/9, 1.36 GO/AO.  Big RHP who the Giants are going out of their way to nurse along.  Those are workhorse/innings eating numbers.  Again, move him up and see what happens!

Kendry Flores, RHP.  4-6, 4.09, 105.2 IP, 9.54 K/9, 2.73 BB/9, 0.94 GO/AO.  Peripherals still look good.  Let's see what he does on AA.

Pat Young, RHP- 9-6, 6.13, 111.2, 7.50 K/9, 3.79 BB/9, 1.14 GO/AO.  Cal League hitters apparently did not think his stuff was as nasty as it looked to me on the video.  Needs just a little bit of everything here, a few more K's, a bit better command and needs to put the ball on the ground a bit more.

Nick Vander Tuig, RHP- 3-2, 5.06, 32 IP, 5.34 K/9, 1.41 BB/9, 1.81 GO/AO.  NVT did not appear until the short season started and was then brought along slowly with mixed results in a small sample size.  2015 will be a key season for him.


Low A:

Luis Ysla, LHP- 6-7, 2.45, 121.1 IP, 8.53 K/9, 3.34 BB/9, 1.11 GO/AO.  Pretty good numbers.  Needs to bring the BB/9 down a bit to succeed at higher levels.

Christian Jones, LHP- 5-9, 3.33, 110.2 IP, 8.13 K/9, 2.11 BB/9, 2.05 GO/AO.  I consider a GO/AO of 2.00 or more to be an elite GB pitcher.  Combined with a low BB/9 and he should do well at higher levels.

Joan Gregorio, RHP- 2-7, 3.57, 68 IP, 8.60 K/9,  3.57 BB/9, 0.88 GO/AO.  High A- 2-2, 6.75, 22.2 IP, 10.72 K/9, 5.16 BB/9, 0.39 GO/AO.  High ceiling RHP.  Was wild in San Jose to start the season.  Settled down after being sent down to Augusta.  Will probably give SJ another try in 2015.

Carlos Diaz, LHP- 6-6, 4.16, 101.2 IP, 6.73 K/9, 3.28 BB/9, 1.55 GO/AO.  Solid groundball ratio but needs to cut down the BB's.

Steven Messner, LHP- 7-5, 4.17, 110 IP, 6.71 K/9, 3.19 BB/9, 2.70 GO/AO.  A bit old for the level, but the extreme GB ratio is interesting.

Chase Johnson, RHP- 4-7, 4.57, 110.1 IP, 7.67 K/9, 3.26 BB/9, 2.07 GO/AO.  Johnson tends to run hot and cold.  The GB ratio is encouraging.  Needs to cut down on the BB's.

Robert Ramer, RHP- 3-5, 4.73, 45.2 IP, 7.88 K/9, 2.56 BB/9, 2.03 GO/AO.  ERA not exciting, but the peripherals look good.  Old for level.


Overall, the system produced an unsettling pattern of the higher ceiling guys not performing up to expectations and the lower ceiling guys doing better.  Patience?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thoughts on "Stuff"

When evaluating pitchers, we often use a term called "stuff."  What is "stuff" you say?  I don't know if anyone has ever defined the term.  It definitely has to do with quality of pitches.  It is also more than simply velocity as pitch movement is also an important component of "stuff".  One logical way of measuring "stuff" is by the ability of the pitcher to get batters out all by himself, without the aid of fielders.  The obvious measure for this ability is strikeouts.  Not all strikeouts are created equal though.  Some pitchers are better at getting batters to not swing at pitches that the umpire calls strikes.  Other pitchers are better at getting hitters to swing at pitches outside the strike zone.  A few pitchers are good at getting hitters to swing and miss at pitches within strike zone.  Intuitively, a pitcher who can get batters to swing and miss at pitches within the strike zone might be working with better "stuff" than pitchers with lower rates of the same measure.

With the advent of PitchFx and electronic systems for calling balls and strikes, we can measure how many times a pitchers induces a swing and miss at pitches inside the strike zone.  Thanks to David Laurilia who posted these numbers in his Sunday Fangraphs column.  He credits Mark Simon of ESPN.  Here are the Top 10 pitchers in MLB in order of their percentage swinging strikes within the strike zone last year:

1.  Chris Sale- 23.2
2.  Max Scherzer- 21.8
3.  Marco Estrada- 21.7
4.  RA Dickey- 21.1
6.  Jacob DeGrom- 20.3
7.  Collin McHugh- 20.0
8.  Michael Wacha- 19.8
9.  Cole Hamels- 19.7
10. Clayton Kershaw- 19.7.

Just saying…...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Blast From the Past: Ray Sadecki RIP

Ray Sadecki, the man who is probably best known to most Giants fans as the guy they traded Orlando Cepeda for, died last week at the age of 73.  Oh my!  I have 5 patients in my medical practice who turned 100 this year and 1 who turned 101.  73 is so young these days!  Sadecki reportedly died from complications of "blood cancer" which I would interpret as being some form of leukemia.

I have to confess that my personal recollections of Sadecki are that he was a terrible pitcher for the Giants while Cepeda won an MVP and a World Series with the Cardinals.  Those recollections are not completely supported by objective data.  Sadecki actually pitched very well for the Giants in 1967 and 1968, the years the Cardinals and Cepeda were running away with NL Pennants.

Ray Sadecki was a "Bonus Baby" for the Cardinals and therefore had to stay on the MLB 25 man roster for 2 years immediately after signing.  He made his MLB debut in 1960 at the age of 19.  He pitched successfully but tended to wildness.  His best MLB season in terms of Wins was in 1964 when he went 20-11, 3.68, 220 IP, 4.87 K/9, 2.45 BB/9. Wins for starting pitchers had more meaning back in those days because most starting pitchers threw a lot of complete games.  Anyway, the Cardinals won the NL Pennant by 1 game over the Phillies and Reds.  It was the year the Phillies blew a 6.5 game lead with 12 games to play.  The Cardinals went on to win the World Series over the Yankees. Sadecki started 2 of the games but did not pitch particularly well.

Sadecki's numbers collapsed in 1965 and 1966. He was traded to the Giants on May 8, 1966 for Orlando Cepeda as the Giants had to choose between him and Willie McCovey at first base.  We all know what Cepeda did with the Cardinals, but Willie McCovey was actually the right choice for the Giants to keep.  Sadecki did not pitch well after the trade frustrating many Giants fans.  He pitched much better in 1967 and 1968:

1967- 12-6, 2.78, 188 IP, 6.94 K/9, 2.78 BB/9, 24 CG, fWAR= 4.0.
1968- 12-18, 2.91, 254 IP, 7.30 K/9, 2.48 BB/9, 36 CG, fWAR= 5.3.

The Giants got exactly what they wanted out of Ray Sadecki which was a reliable third starter behind Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry.  The problems for the Giants and Ray Sadecki was 1.  The Giants failed to support him with runs and 2.  They traded Cepeda to the wrong team as he was what the Cardinals needed to become a great team and run away with the NL Pennant twice in a row while the Giants finished second both seasons.

Sadecki's numbers went south again in 1969 and he was traded to the New York Mets.  He pitched effectively for the Mets as a swingman/spot starter for the next 5 seasons and won another NL Pennant with the Mets in 1973 and appeared in 4 World Series games which the Mets lost to the Oakland A's.

After his retirement, Sadecki, who was from Kansas City, had a ball field in the KC area named after him.  He died in Mesa, Arizona.

Hot Stove Update: Giants Sign Two Minor Leaguers

The Giants made two minor league FA signs yesterday:

Carlos Triunfel, IF, AAA:  .223/.256/.330, 4 HR, 3.7 BB%, 17.1 K%, 321 PA.  Triunfel was once one of the hottest prospects in all of baseball, mostly due to an irrationally exuberant love of prospects who are young for their level on certain websites.  He was finally cut loose from the Mariners organization after his progress stalled out.   The above numbers were put up last year in the Dodgers organization in hitter-friendly Albuquerque.  Amazingly for a guy who has been around as long as Triunfel, he is just entering his age 25 season.

Braulio Lara, LHP, AA:  2-1, 5.01, 8.87 K/9, 3.66 BB/9.  Lara comes out of the Tampa Bay Rays organization.  He is entering his age 26 season.  That is a nice enough K/9 that I could see him developing into a lefty specialist at the MLB level.

It would be a surprise if either of these signings have any impact in 2015.

Hot Stove Update: LaRoche Signs With the ChiSox

There was a significant FA signing yesterday in addition to the small trades.  Adam LaRoche signed a 2 year/$25 M contract with the Chicago White Sox.  LaRoche will essentially take Adam Dunn's place on the roster and likely share DH/1B duties with Jose Abreu.  Those two will provide a nice L-R punch in the middle of the 'Sox lineup.  The Nationals had turned down a $15 M option for LaRoche and did not make a QO, so the White Sox do not lose a draft pick.

LaRoche has had a remarkably consistent career hitting at least 20 HR's every year starting in 2005 except 2011 when he lost time to injury.  His batting line last year was similar to what he pretty much does every year:  .259/.362/.455, 26 HR, 14 BB%, 18.4 K%.  He is a much better all-around hitter than Dunn, but is not a good defender at 1B.

As for the Nationals, I assume they are planning to move Ryan Zimmerman to 1B and letting Anthony Rendon become the permanent 3B.

Hot Stove Update: 3 Small Trades

The Hot Stove fire died down a bit as the market seems to want to wait for the Sandoval decision before throwing another log on the fire.  Meanwhile a series of 3 smaller deals went down, 2 of which were driven by the Rule 5 Draft.  Although they did not generate headlines, these deals could become significant down the road.

Deal #1:  Dodgers acquire veteran RHP Joel Peralta from the Tampa Bay Rays for fireballing prospect Jose Dominguez.  The teams also swapped minor league pitchers with the Dodgers receiving LHP Adam Liberatore while sending RHP Greg Harris to TB.

Joel Peralta, RHP, 39 yo, MLB:  3-4, 4.41, 63 IP, 15 BB, 74 K, 9 HR.  The Dodgers are obviously trying to bolster their bullpen.  Andrew Friedman went after someone he knew well in Peralta.  The dingers should come down pitching on the West Coast, which will help the ERA, but Peralta is 39 yo.

Adam Liberatore, LHP, 27 yo.  AAA:  6-1, 1.66, 65 IP, 15 BB, 86 K's. The Dodgers desperately need a lefty or two in their bullpen and Liberatore put up great numbers in AAA.  He was equally effective against RH batters.  If he can carry that to MLB, this could be a bigger part of the deal than Peralta.

Jose Dominguez, RHP, 24 yo.  MLB:  0-0, 11.37, 6 IP, 3 BB, 8 K's.  AAA:  1-2, 3.24, 33 IP, 18 BB, 39 K's.  Dominguez is a fireballer who can hit 100 MPH.  The pitch tends to flatten out and he has command issues.  His secondary stuff is marginal at best.  He has 2 drug related suspensions in his past, the last one in 2012.

Greg Harris, RHP, 19 yo, low A:  7-6, 4.45, 87 IP, 28 BB, 92 K's.  Nice K rate but marginal stuff.

Dodgers seem to get the best of this one as they get 2 potentially valuable bullpen pieces that can help immediately.


Deal #2:  Padres acquire minor league LHP Kyle Bartsch from the Royals for minor league OF Reymond Fuentes.

Reymond Fuentes, OF, 23 yo,  AAA:  .261/.337/.376, 13 SB, 17 BB, 27 K, 157 AB.  AA:  .324/.386/453, 4 HR, 12 SB, 16 BB, 37 K, 170 AB.  Fuentes came to the Padres along with 1B Anthony Rizzo and RHP Casey Kelly in the Adrian Gonzalez trade.  Fuentes hit .330 with 35 SB's in the minors last year but just .158 in a brief MLB callup.  Kind of tough to believe the Padres did not want him on their 40 man roster but that was the driver of this trade.  He profiles as exactly the type of OF the Royals are stockpiling.

Kyle Bartsch, LHP, 23 yo, High A:  5-5, 2.29, 55 IP, 12 BB, 52 K's, 7 Saves.  Nice numbers but scouting reports say fringe-average velocity.

Royals are the clear winners of this trade.  The Padres now have Andrew Cashner(acquired for Anthony Rizzo), Casey Kelly and Bartsch to show for the AGone trade.  I would say that trade did not work out the way either side hoped it would, although Cashner could be an ace pitcher if he can stay healthy for a full season and Kelly probably still has some potential.


Deal #3:  Cardinals acquire minor league 3B Ty Kelly for RHP Sam Gaviglio.

Ty Kelly, 3B/2B, 26 yo, AAA:  .263/.381/.412, 15 HR, 11 SB, 85 BB, 96 K, 456 AB.  Holy moly!  Just look at those K and BB numbers!  Man, I saw this trade and thought to myself that Kelly would make a nice target if Pablo ends up leaving.  Maybe one of the reasons the Cardinals went and got him was to prevent the Giants from getting him?  More likely he was not on the Giants radar at all, but it's fun to think about.

Sam Gaviglio, RHP, 24 yo, AA:  5-12, 4.28, 137 IP, 46 BB, 126 K's.  Nothing special here.

I would say the Cardinals were the clear winners of this swap of Rule 5 eligible players, although Kelly is blocked at both 3B and 2B in St Louis.

Friday, November 21, 2014

2015 Giants Depth Chart: Starting Pitching Part I

Despite winning their 3'rd championship in 5 years, the Giants come out of 2014 with their starting pitching looking more unsettled and precarious than it has in more than 5 seasons.  The roster as it currently stands has 1 ace pitcher and 4 major question marks with not a lot of help immediately available in the upper minors.

MLB Starters:

1.  Madison Bumgarner- 18-10, 2.98, 217.1 IP, 9.07 K/9, 1.78 BB/9.  Undisputed ace of the staff and one of the elite pitchers in baseball, especially in the postseason.  The best part he is still getting better adding in the high heater and the slow curve late as serious weapons late in the season and postseason.

2.  Matt Cain- 2-7, 4.18, 90.1 IP, 6.97 K/9, 3.19 BB/9.  We'll pencil Cainer in as the #2 until proven otherwise, but lots of questions in the wake of his early season ending elbow surgery.  Can he fully recover?  What will his velocity be like?  Can he succeed with the same stuff and approach he is used to?  We could be at a career crossroads for The Hoss.

3.  Tim Hudson- 9-13, 3.57, 189.1 IP, 5.70 K/9, 1.62 BB/9.  Will the offseason be enough to rejuvenate Huddy?  He was tremendous in the first half last year, kind of collapsed down the stretch and was clearly out of gas by the end of the World Series.

4.  Yusmeiro Petit- 5-5, 3.69, 117 IP, 10.23 K/9, 1.69 BB/9.  Petit took over Lincecum's spot in the rotation down the stretch and was tremendous.  He carried that into the postseason.  He may be the second best SP on the team at this point, but has a history of inconsistency.  Rags tweaked the curveball and made it harder and sharper.  Is that the key to a new consistency?

5. Tim Lincecum- 12-9, 4.74, 155.2 IP, 7.75 K/9, 3.64 BB/9.  Maybe it was coincidence but Timmy fell apart when Hector Sanchez went out with the concussion.  He seemed to get a bit stronger as the postseason wore on, but Bochy still clearly did not trust him.  $18 M says he will be back in the rotation  to start the season, but for how long?  He has steadily lost velocity each season and was under 90 MPH for his average FB for the first time last year.  Tough to see him turn that around and tough to see him as a finesse pitcher.

Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong are both FA's.  The tea leaves are telling me that Peavy is gone, but that Vogey will probably be back on a similar deal as last year.  Vogey might be the guy who goes to the long relief/spot starter role.


Chris Heston(RHP)- 12-9, 3.38, 173 IP, 6.50 K/9, 2.65 BB/9.  Heston is probably the 6'th starter as it currently sits, but it is almost certain someone will be brought in for that role before the offseason is over.  If not Vogey, then 2-3 minor league signs with ST invites.

Mike Kickham(LHP)- 8-8, 4.43, 148.1 IP, 7.95 K/9, 3.88 BB/9.  Kickham got worse as the season progressed.  At this point, his career seems to be going backwards.  Frustrating to watch because he appears to have good stuff.  Can he turn it around?  

Jake Dunning(RHP)- 0-3, 4.57, 65 IP, 7.06 K/9, 3.60 BB/9.  Dunning was exclusively a reliever until the final 3 weeks of the season when he got 4 starts.  The beat writers had been reporting that the Giants thought he might have a starters repertoire.  He went 3.60 ERA with 15 IP, 2 BB, 12 K's in those 4 starts.  Kind of a sleeper for 2015.

Austin Fleet(RHP)- 4-2, 3.95, 43.1 IP, 6.85 K/9, 2.70 BB/9.  AA- 8-1, 2.78, 97 IP, 7.14 K/9, 3.34 BB/9.  Fleet has been slowly and quietly working his way up the minor league ladder.  He held his own in the PCL which is a notoriously tough place to pitch.  Another sleeper candidate.

Kelvin Marte(LHP)- 1-2, 5.45, 36.1 IP, 5.20 K/9, 1.98 BB/9.  AA- 8-3, 3.83, 5.69 K/9, 2.38 BB/9. As you can see, Marte is an extreme contact pitcher.  I saw him pitch a couple of years ago with San Jose.  He had a FB that sat 90-92 MPH with a nice breaking ball and a solid changeup.  Longshot to be an eventual back of the rotation MLB starter.

Because of volume, we will cover lower levels in future installments.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Justin Hooper

Justin Hooper is a big(6'7", 230 lb) HS LHP from Northern California with about as high a ceiling as you can get in a draft prospect.  Despite his size, he is athletic looking and muscular as opposed to doughy looking.  His FB on the summer showcase circuit hit 97 MPH and he has a good hard curve to go with it.  He is just starting to work on a changeup, but it has already shown some promise.

He has a low 3/4 delivery somewhat reminiscent of Madison Bumgarner's but with less sweep.  He also  rocks back in more of a drop and drive style.  His release point is closer to his body than Bummy's.  There is some effort in his delivery, but not an excessive amount.  The drop and drive thing reminds me a bit of Clayton Kershaw except with the low release point.

BA has him ranked as the #7 draft prospect for 2015.  Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has him at #9.  Barring injury, I think he will easily go top 5.  For me, he easily has the highest ceiling of any of the 2015 draft prospects I have seen.  Personally, I have him as my current 1-1.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hot Stove Update: Giants Add 4 to 40 Man Roster

One of the most senseless events in all of sports, the Rule 5 Draft, is coming up in a few days.  Today was the deadline for adding minor league players who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft to 40 man rosters where they are protected.  The rule for the Rule 5 Draft is that prospects drafted out of college with 4 years of service and HS draftees and international signees with 5 years of service time can be selected by other teams in a draft order.  Selecting teams have to pay the team losing the player $25 K.  The drafted player has to stay on the selecting team's 25 man roster all season or else be offered back for $50 K.  Or maybe I have the $$$ backwards?  At any rate, it is a ridiculous exercise that yields a star player for the selecting team about as often as Halley's Comet comes around, in case someone wants to bring up Johan Santana.

At any rate, the Giants DFA'd Juan Gutierrez and added RHP's Ray Black, Joan Gregorio, Derek Law and Cody Hall to the 40 man roster.  Pitchers, especially relief pitchers, are probably the most vulnerable to the Rule 5 Draft process because the bullpen is the most likely place a young player might contribute right away even with unpolished stuff so these adds make sense if the Giants think they might be future contributors to the MLB club.

2015 Giants Depth Chart: Corner Outfield

The Giants have one corner OF spot locked down for the next 4 years and another that seems to be a chronic source of frustration.  The farm has some interesting possibilities for the not too distant future.

MLB STARTER:  RF Hunter Pence- .277/.332/.445, 20 HR, 13 SB, 7.3 BB%, 18.4 K%, 708 PA, 4.7 fWAR. Barring injury, Pence has RF locked down for the next 4 seasons.

LF  Open.

MLB RESERVE:  Gregor Blanco- .260/.333/.374, 5 HR, 16 SB, 9.2 BB%, 17.3 K%, 444 PA, 2.0 fWAR.  Blanco is a candidate to be the starter in LF.  He's averaged 3.1 fWAR/600 PA over the last 3 seasons.  If you limit potentially available starting LF to guys who are likely to do at least that well, the line is not long!

Travis Ishikawa- .274/.333/.397, 2 HR, 7.4 BB%, 28.4 K%, 81 PA.  Ishikawa had basically never played LF in the majors before the postseason.  The extra versatility makes it likely he will be on the 25 man roster in 2015.  He's arb eligible and may be non-tendered first.

Juan Perez- .170/.224/.270.  Love little Juan, but bless his heart, I do hope the Giants can find a better option for reserve OF next season.

AAA:  Mark Minicozzi- .298/.400/.470, 12 HR, 13.2 BB%, 22.4 K%, 370 PA.  Minicozzi is a minor league FA, but will probably be back.

Chris Dominguez- .274/.307/.460, 21 HR, 21 SB, 4.2 BB%, 27.1 K%, 528 PA.  Hacker Supreme!  Interesting tools but probably will never make enough contact for the bat to play in MLB.

Jarrett Parker- .278/.360/.456, 3 HR, 1 SB, 10.1 BB%, 25.8 K%, 89 PA.  AA:  .275/.370/.463, 12 HR, 11 SB, 10.7 BB%, 24.6 K%, 419 PA.  Parker is a 3 True Outcomes guy, so it probably should not be surprising that he seems to put up about the same numbers wherever he goes.  He does that in MLB with at least average D and he's a very valuable player.  Worry is the K's would balloon and the BA would collapse in the majors.

AA:  Devin Harris- .256/.310/.437, 13 HR, 7 BB%, 28.2 K%, 429 PA.  I like Harris a lot, but at age 27, you have to think his career is going to run out of gas somewhere in AAA.

Elliott Blair- .240/.318/.313, HR, 4 SB, 9.3 BB%, 25 K%, 108 PA.  Blair was a low round draft pick in 2011 and he keeps hanging around.  Again, at age 27, time may be running short.

HIGH A:  Tyler Horan- .321/.376/.670, 10 HR, 6 SB, 7.7 BB%, 26.5 K%, 117 PA.  Low A:  .273/.350/.481, 15 HR, 9 SB, 9.4 BB%, 23.3 K%, 417 PA.  Horan hit well in Augusta then kicked it up a notch after a promotion to SJ.  He was promoted to Richmond for the EL postseason which usually means that's where he will start in 2015.  Richmond will be the big test.

Chuckie Jones- .256/.326/.404, 15 HR, 17 SB, 8.8 BB%, 27.4 K%, 547 PA.  Chuckie Jones does a lot of things well.  Can he overcome the K tendency?  Is he ready to try AA?  Still has a little time at age 22.

Mac Williamson-.318/.420/.506, 3 HR, 6 SB, 13.0 BB%, 14.0 K%, 100 PA.  Mac would have been assigned to AA, but could not throw due to a torn UCL, so he went to SJ to DH.  He underwent TJ surgery after about a month and should be ready to play in the spring.  The Giants tend to be cautious with rehabbing players, so don't be shocked if he's back in SJ to start the season.

LOW A:  Rafael Rodriguez- .269/.309/.357, 5 HR, 3.7 BB%, 11.0 K%, 301 PA.  This was RafRod's best pro season, but barring an unexpected breakout, he's probably not going far.

SHORT SEASON:  Austin Slater- .347/.417/.449, 2 HR, 7 SB, 7.6 BB%, 12.9 K%, 132 PA.  I really like the early returns on Slater and think he has some power upside.  Can't wait to see what he does in 2015.

Dylan Davis- .200/.269/.341, 4 HR, 7.5 BB%, 24.7 K%, 93 PA.  After hitting .297 in 41 PA in Arizona, Davis struggled to make contact in the NWL.  Is pitching in his future?

Hunter Cole- .239/.311/.424, 4 HR, 7.7 BB%, 19.2 K%, 104 PA.  Interesting low round draft pick to keep an eye on.

Shilo McCall- .200/.269/.333.  Very disappointing season for McCall.  Not sure where he goes from here.  Probably has 1 more season at the most to get some traction on his career.

ROOKIE AZL:  Brennan Metzger- .354/.460/..500, 4 SB, 15.8 BB%, 7.9 K%, 101 PA.  24 yo but coming off a debilitating illness that cost him a full season.  Will need to move fast.

Byron Murray- .279/.347/.412, 8 BB%, 20 K%, 75 PA.  Love the upside of this 19 yo HS draftee.

DSL:  Jean Angomas- .286/.384/.383, 9 SB, 12.3 BB%, 8.3 K%, 204 PA.  Some speed and plate discipline.

Robinson Medrano- .268/.368/.373, 2 HR, 3 SB, 11.2 BB%, 20.7 K%, 242 PA.  Improved on his 2013 DSL season.  Will he get a call to the states in 2015?  I am intrigued by his size at 6'3", 180 lbs.

Carlos Valdez- .240/.333/.388, 3 HR, 2 SB, 11.3 BB%, 12.0 K%, 142 PA.  If he does not get called up to the states this year, he's probably done.

I am cautiously optimistic about Williamson, Horan and Slater.  I am cautiously hopeful about Chuckie Jones, Byron Murray and Robinson Medrano.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hot Stove Update: Billy Beane Signs Billy Butler

Has a nice ring to it, no?  In fact, I am not convinced that the name alliteration is not one of the main reasons this deal happened!  After striking out when he loaded up on pitching at the trade deadline last year, Billy Beane goes back to what he knows best, which is stocking up on DH's. Billy Butler is probably an upgrade on Nate Frieman for RH side of a DH platoon, but from the price, you might think Billy Butler is being brought in to DH full time.  That's OK if you are getting the 2012 version of Country Breakfast, but Butler's numbers have declined rather steeply for 2 consecutive seasons for no obvious reason.  You certainly can't blame his paltry .702 OPS from 2014 on a low BABIP as that was .310 although I admit Butler is a guy who sustained higher BABIP's for several years.  He's just a big slow guy who hits a ton of ground balls who can't play a position.  Perfect fit for Billy Beane and the Oakland A's!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Dansby Swanson

Before we get started on Dansby Swanson's profile, the Giants moved up to the #20 pick in the first round of the 2015 draft yesterday when the Toronto Blue Jays signed Russell Martin.

Dansby Swanson has played 2B for Vanderbilt the last 2 seasons, but is expected to take over their SS position for 2015 and is seen as a player who can stick at the position in the pros.  Here is his batting line from 2014:

.333/.411/.475, 27 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 22 SB, 5 CS, 37 BB, 49 K's in 282 AB.  As you can see, he is a contact hitter with gap power and some speed who can draw a walk.

On video, he has a short, quick swing with almost no load, kind of a RH version of Joe Panik.

BA ranks him #6 on their list of 2015 draft prospects while Kiley McDaniel has him at #7.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hot Stove Update: Stoking the Fire!

The Hot Stove got stoked to a white hot intensity level today as there was a major trade, a major FA signing and the announcement of the biggest contract in the history of not just baseball, but all of professional sports!  Let's start with the trade:

The Atlanta Braves traded OF Jason Heyward and RHP Jordan Walden to the Cardinals for RHP's Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins, a prospect who is a former first round draft pick, but who has also struggled with injuries and has yet to pitch above A ball.  We all know who Jason Heyward is.  He is the OF who was drafted in the first round the same year, 2007, that Madison Bumgarner was drafted by the Giants.  A lot of Giants fans, me included, desperately wanted the Giants to draft a hitter that year and Heyward was high on my list and a lot of others too, so there is always going to be that comparison.

Heyward is coming off a down offensive season, but he is a true 5 tool athlete who runs well and played excellent defense so his fWAR as an impressive 5.2 despite the relatively disappointing offensive stats. Heyward will provide a big upgrade on RF for the Cardinals for at least 1 season.  He is scheduled to become a FA at the end of the 2015 season and appears to be intent on testing the open market.

Granted, Heyward's offensive output in 2014 may well be his floor, but it has declined for 2 consecutive seasons.  Just for fun, let's compare Jason Heyward's 2014 numbers with an unnamed player we will call Player A:

Jason Heyward:  .271/.351/.384, .329 wOBA, 110 wRC+, 5.2 fWAR, 649 PA.
Player A:             .260/.333/.374, .317 wOBA, 107 wRC+, 2.0 fWAR, 444 PA.

The wOBA's ranked #42 and 54 among MLB OF's while the wRC+'s ranked #41 and #48.  Since fWAR is a counting stat, if Player A is normalized to 649 PA's the fWAR comes up to nearly 3.0.  The remainder of the difference is mainly due to a much higher UZR on defense for Heyward.  It turns out that Player A is Gregor Blanco who probably is closer to Heyward on defense than their UZR's would indicate. So, from that perspective, the Cardinals gave up Shelby Miller and a prospect for one year's service from a player who was slightly better than Gregor Blanco last year. On the other hand, as I said before, even at worst, Heyward is a significant upgrade on RF for the Cards.

The other piece coming to the Cardinals is Jordan Walden a hard throwing reliever who was once considered an elite prospect.  He should fit right in with the other flame throwers in the Cardinals bullpen.  I will just mention that Walden has a very unorthodox windup and delivery where he takes a skip step with his back foot that I do not understand why it is not an illegal pitch.

Shelby Miller is a solid young RHP who has at least 3 years of team control on his contract.  He will bolster a Braves rotation that has been decimated by injuries in the past 2 seasons.  Evan Gattis will move to LF with Justin Upton moving to RF if he is not also traded.  Christian Betancourt will presumably take over catching duties.


Russell Martin, a native of Canada signed a 5 year/$85 M contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.  Martin has always been an excellent defensive catcher with some power, but had a spike in his BA to .290 in 2014.  This seems to me to be an example of an undervalued skill, pitch framing, becoming so sought after, it may have become overvalued!  That and the shiny spike in BA from last year would seem to be the drivers of this large, long contract.  I will predict that this quickly becomes a bad contract for the Blue Jays.


On the other hand, it just might be true that there is no longer such a thing as a bad contract in baseball with the way owners seem to be able to sign mind-bogglingly enormous contracts any time the urge hits them.  That was certainly the case today as news emerged of a 13 year/$325 M contract between the Marlins and Giancarlo Stanton.  Stanton is the premier young power hitter in baseball and power is becoming an increasingly rare and valuable commodity.  Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs wrote a nice piece showing that Stanton will likely come close to producing to the value of his contract over it's duration, and may well even surpass it!  I would caution that Stanton has already been banged up a bit in his career and is already a negative defender in the OF, so those could be factors that drag down the value of his production.  In addition, the history of very large contracts is that they have never produced championships for the teams that sign them.  Perhaps the best thing to come out of the Stanton contract its that we will no longer be plagued by wildly implausible trade proposals for him on baseball oriented websites!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

2015 Giants Depth Chart: Center Field

It's been a long time since the Giants developed a homegrown starting OF, let alone CF.  That may be about to change.  A few years ago, OF was the thinnest position in the organization.  Now, it might be the deepest, except for pitching.  Center Field has become the territory of leadoff hitter/speed types, but there may be a few true 5 tool guys finding their way into the system.  True 5 tool CF.  What a concept!

MLB Starter:  Angel Pagan- .300/.342/.389/3 HR, 16 SB, 6.1 BB%, 12.8 K%, 413 PA.  Pagan is one of the better leadoff hitters in the game and a guy who really makes the offense hum when he is in the lineup.  He has had trouble staying healthy the past 2 seasons.  Hopefully he is 100% after undergoing surgery to relieve a nerve impingement in his back.  He has 2 years left on a 4 year contract.  His D by UZR has been negative for 3 of the past 4 seasons.  Is it time to think about moving to LF?

MLB Reserves:  Gregor Blanco- .260/.333/.324, 5 HR, 16 SB, 9.2 BB%, 17.3 K%, 444 PA.  Blanco is probably a better defensive CF than Pagan at this point.  On offense, he doesn't hit for as high an average but walks more so his OBP is about the same.  They are similar baserunners.  Although Blanco will occasional jerk one out of the park to RF, he does not have the gap power that Pagan gives you.  Blanco has run up 3 consecutive seasons with a fWAR of 2.0 or above and is one of the best 4'th OF in baseball.  Whether he should be a starter is controversial.  I will say that if he is not one of the 3 starting OF's on Opening Day, he once again likely will be by the end of the season.

Juan Perez- .170/.224/.270, 1 HR, 4.6 BB%, 22.9 K%, 109 PA's.  After one of the worse offensive seasons I can remember from any Giant, Little Juan's bat came alive in the postseason just in time for him to start Game 7 of the World Series in which he made a possible game saving catch in LF.  Very nice defensive replacement OF, but his bat probable does not play in the long run.

AAA:  Gary Brown- .271/.329/.394, 10 HR, 36 SB, 6.0 BB%, 20.0 K%, 596 PA's.  Gary Brown is an enigma.  He's got terrific tools, but has never quite put it together.  He is a contact hitter who strikes out too much.  A base stealer who gets thrown out too much.  He's got some gap power, but not quite enough to overcome the aforementioned deficiencies.  He seems to be ensconced way in the back of the Giants doghouse as he did not get a chance to play when Bochy was basically holding open workouts for the OF.  He went 3 for 7 in a few cameo appearances in September, but was mostly there because his crewcut topped head made a nice bongo drum for Hunter Pence.  I've had some harsh things to say about Brownie in the past, but right now I'm driving the Free Gary Brown bandwagon.  He can't be a worse option for 5'th OF than Juan Perez!

AA:  Vacant.  Tyler Graham played this position most of last season.  He's a minor league FA again.

High A:  Daniel Carbonell- .344/.390/.538, 3 HR, 7 SB, 100 PA.  Carbonell is the 23 year old Cuban emigre' who signed around midseason.  He was assigned to San Jose after hitting over .300 in Arizona. Talk about 5 tools!  This guy is build like a football wide receiver.  It seems like the only question is whether he will hit.  He's done that so far.  He kind of struggled in the AFL, but I don't pay much attention to AFL stats.  The kids don't play every day there and it is an extremely small sample size.  Does he go back to San Jose, or does he start 2015 in Richmond?  I am cautiously optimistic that Carbonell could turn into a true 5 tool CF by the time Pagan's contract is up.

Jesus Galindo- .268/.334/.379, 2 HR, 31 SB, 7.0 BB%, 19.6 K%, 445 PA.  Galindo's gap power improved significantly as his IsoP went from .049 to .111.  Should move up to AA in 2015 which could be crowded with Williamson, Carbonell and Tyler Horan also needing PT in the OF, unless Carbonell goes back to SJ.

Low A:  Chris Lofton- .250/.320/.351, 2 HR, 17 SB, 9.1 BB%, 22.5 K%, 308 PA.  Lofton just can't seem to get any traction on his career and may be running out of time.

Randy Ortiz- .259/.326/.290, 8 SB, 7.2 BB%, 23.9 K%, 180 PA.  No power with a high K rate is not going to get you very far in pro baseball.

Short Season:   Johneshwy Fargas- .240/.373/.329, 3 HR, 15 SB, 11.5 BB%, 13.0 K%, 208 PA.  Love, love, love this kid!  Speedy leadoff type hitter.  Just look at those K and BB rates!  Has a body that can fill out and add power.

Seth Harrison- .266/.298/.354, 11 SB, 4.6 BB%, 24.3 K%, 173 PA.  Not sure if Fargas was injured but it was annoying to see Harrison get PT instead at S-K.  Gotta either walk more or strike out less!

Rookie AZL:  Richard Amion- .267/.379/.385, 2 HR, 8 SB, 13.5 BB%, 22.1 K%, 163 PA.  Speedy OF from a small college program.  So-so start to his pro career.

Luis Lacen- .250/.321/.271, 3 SB, 9.4 BB%, 37.3 K%, 53 PA.  One of two kids the Giants drafted out of Puerto Rico.  Terrific size at 6'3", 180 lbs as well as athleticism.  Obviously a project, but the upside is there.

DSL:  Mikey Edie- .298/.424/.383, 2 HR, 14 SB, 9.5 BB%, 12.9 K%, 232 PA.  A bit on the smallish side, but has 5 tools.  Has been playing organized baseball since he was a kid, so is more advanced than some Latin American signees.  Can't wait to see what he does in the states.  My guess we see him in Arizona when rookie ball starts in June.

Wild Card:  Gustavo Cabrera- Great news that Gustavo participated in fall instructional league after recovering from a potentially career ending laceration of his right wrist.  If he has full function of his hand back, it is almost miraculous.  He is the complete package if healthy.  Again, I would think we will see him in Arizona in June.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Walker Buehler

Walker Buehler is a 6'1", 160 lb. Junior RHP for Vanderbilt who outpitched Tyler Beede both during the regular college season and the college playoffs and World Series.  His season line for Vandy was 12-2, 2.64, 102.1 IP, 31 BB, 111 K's.  He then went on to pitch a solid game for Team USA then went to the Cape Cod League where he won co-MVP honors with 3 scoreless starts and 13 K's in 15 IP.

His CCL scouting report in BA had him sitting 92-95 MPH deep into games with a heavy FB that induces GB outs.  He also has average to above average offerings in a changeup, curveball and slider.  He needs to work on consistency with all the offspeed pitches as he sometimes slows his delivery for the changeup and has to work to stay on top of he breaking stuff.  He throws everything for strikes.

The one big rap on him is his size, or lack thereof.  On video he looks a bit taller than 6'1" and he appears to have a strong frame that has room to fill out.  He does not torque his torso or take a huge stride like Tim Lincecum.  He generates his velocity with long arms with whippy arm action, but the delivery is smooth with all body parts pointed in the same direction.  He has some effort in his delivery, but not excessively so.

BA has him ranked as the #5 draft prospect and Kiley McDaniel has him at #4.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hot Stove Update: D'Backs Trade the Farm for……Jeremy Hellickson?

Whoa!  Dave Stewart completed his first significant move as the new GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks by trading away two prospects, Justin Williams and Andrew Velazquez to the Tampa Bay Rays for RHP Jeremy Hellickson.  My first reaction is that this is a terrible trade for the D'Backs and a great one for the Rays, but let's break it down.

Jeremy Hellickson is a familiar name to prospect watchers as he was a darling of the sabermetric crowd throughout his minor league career which featured a combination of high K rated(K/9=9-10) with low BB rates(BB/9=1.5-2.5).  He had a low-mid 90's FB.  "Hellboy" made his MLB debut in 2010 and went 4-0, 3.47, 36.1 IP, 1.98 BB/9, 8.17 K/9.  Expectations continued to run high for him.  He went 13-10 with an ERA of 2.95 in 189 IP in 2011 but his K and BB cratered to 3.43 BB% and 5.57 K%.  His success was dependent on holding opposing batters to a BABIP of .223.  In 2012 he went 10-11, 3.10, 177 IP, 3.00 BB/9, 6.31 K/9, BABIP= .261.  He went 12-10 in 2013, but his ERA ballooned to 5.17 despite continued improvement in his BB/9 to 2.59 and his K/9 to 6.98.  His BABIP allowed rose to .307.  He underwent elbow surgery for bone spurs and did not appear in 2014 until July.  He went 1-5, 4.52, 63.2 IP, 2.97 BB/9, 7.63 K/9, BABIP= .321.  Hellickson is an extreme flyball pitcher who has gotten hurt a lot by the long ball, although his HR/FB is not extraordinarily high.  The stadium in Arizona is not likely to give him any breaks in helping him limit HR's.

Hellickson has 2 years of arbitration eligibility left and Dave Stewart apparently thinks he will be healthy and continue to improve his K and BB numbers with a regression in his BABIP allowed which would make him a solid starter.  That is a lot of ifs, though.  Hellickson is clearly not the caliber of pitcher that James Shields was when the Royals gave up 2 good prospects for him.  Of course, the 2 prospects the D'Backs gave up are not nearly as MLB ready as Wil Myers and Jake Odirizzi, but I do like Williams and Velazquez a lot.

Justin Williams is a B-L, T-R OF drafted in round 2 in 2013.  He is 6'2", 215 lbs and has tremendous power potential.  He has put up impressive numbers in his first two professional seasons, but has yet to show the power he projects to have.  He hit a combined .351/.403/.437 with 12 2B, 5 3B, 4 HR in 320 AB's over 2 levels last season.  Oh, and he is still just 19 yo! He does not take a lot of walks but has kept his K rate right about 20% which is pretty good for a young power hitting prospect.  Personally, I loved Justin Williams before he was drafted and I love him now.  I would be ecstatic to have a prospect like him in the Giants system.

Andrew Velasquez plays SS and projects to stay at the position.  He is 5'8", 175 lbs and hits from both sides of the plate.  He was drafted in 2012 and is a year older than Williams.  He spent all of last year at Low A South Bend in the Midwest League which is usually pitcher friendly.  His line was .290/.367/.428, 18 2B, 15 3B, 9 HR, 50 SB, 10.0 BB%, 21.9 K% in 622 PA's.  I don't know about you, but those look like very nice numbers to me.  I would be very happy to have a player like that in the Giants system right now.

Personally, I think Dave Stewart gave up way too much in this trade for a pitcher who may be damaged goods and wasn't all that to begin with.  Williams may be still 3-4 years away from the majors, but this has the makings of turning into one of the all time bad trades in baseball history up there with Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio, George Foster for Frank Duffy and Jeff Bagwell for Rick Anderson.  Velazquez is not chopped liver as prospect either.

OF course, Hellickson might regain his form of 3-4 years ago and the D'Backs might sneak into the postseason and take it deep like the Royals this year, but I just don't see Hellickson as being nearly in the same class of pitcher as James Shields nor do I see the D'Backs with a bunch of high ceiling young players reaching their peak years in the near future.

Blast From the Past: Alvin Dark RIP

News came this week that Alvin Dark had died at the age of 92.  The story of the Giants history cannot be told without including Alvin Dark who was an important piece of the Giants pennant and World Series winning teams of the early 1950's, and who was their manager in San Francisco in the early 60's including a pennant winning team in 1962.  What was otherwise a great career may be overshadowed by a controversial, racially charged statement he made during the 1964 season.

Dark was born in Oklahoma in 1922 but grew up in Louisiana.  He was a two-way football and baseball star for LSU and what is now Louisiana-Lafayette.  The start of his baseball career was delayed by service in the Pacific Ampitheatre in WWII.  He broke in with the Boston Braves in 1946 and helped them to a NL Pennant in 1948 when he hit .322 and won the MLB Rookie of the Year award.

He was traded to the Giants after the 1949 season and enjoyed the peak years of his career as a Giant from 1950-1956 when he was traded midseason to the Cardinals in a 9 player trade.  Leo Durocher named him Team Captain before he had played one game as a Giant.  As a Giant, he hit .300 or better for 3 consecutive seasons, 1951-1953 and hit double digit HR's from 1950-1954 peaking at 23 in 1953.  During this time the Giants won the pennant in 1951 and a World Series Championship in 1954.  Dark hit over .400 in both World Series with the Giants.

Dark finished his MLB playing career in 1960.  His career line was .289/.333/.411 with over 2000 hits and 126 HR's.  His career fWAR was 35.6.  He was the first NL SS to hit 20 or more HR's twice.  At the time of his retirement, his SLG% ranked 7'th all time for SS's, and his 126 HR's was 3'rd to Ernie Banks and Travis Jackson.  Baseball statistician Bill James commented that Dark's service in WWII may have cost him a HOF berth.

Dark was traded back to the Giants from the Milwaukee Braves after the 1960 season.  The Giants knew his playing career was done, but they wanted him to manage the team.  Dark managed them to a NL Pennant in 1962.  In 1964, he was quoted in Newsday magazine complaining about the number of Latin and African American players on the team saying, "They are just not able to perform up to the level of the white player when it comes to mental alertness."  Dark claimed he was grossly misquoted.  Team Captain Willie Mays came to his defense as did Jackie Robinson who stated that he had a good relationship with Dark both on and off the field.  Dark remained the manager until the 6'th inning of the final game of the season when he was fired by Horace Stoneham as the Giants wrapped up a 4'th place finish.

Dark went on to manage some losing Cleveland Indians teams but was hired by Charlie Finley to manage the A's to their 3'rd consecutive World Series Championship in 1974 after the resignation of Dick Williams.  Dark was fired by Finley after the A's lost in the 1975 playoffs.  He wrote an autobiography published in 1980 entitled When In Doubt, Fire the Manager.  He died this week at the age of 92 from complications of Alzheimer's Disease.

Friday, November 14, 2014

2015 Giants Depth Chart: Shortstop

The Giants shortstop position is well covered at the MLB level, but then is one of the thinner positions at lower levels with the best hitters possibly ticketed for other positions at higher levels.

MLB Starter:  Brandon Crawford- .246/.324/.415, 20 2B, 10 3B, 10 HR, 10.5 BB%, 22.9 K%, 564 PA, 2.7 fWAR, #13 SS in MLB by fWAR.  Crawford overcame a brutal slump in July and August to become a major player down the stretch and through the postseason.  What makes his offensive numbers more impressive is the fact that he hit 7'th or 8'th in the Giants lineup most of the season where he became one of best in the business in those lineup slots.  He may benefit from some extra days off in the middle of the season, but otherwise has a firm grip on the starting SS position going into 2015.

MLB Reserve:  Ehire Adrianza- .237/.279/.299, 4.7 BB%, 20.8 K%, 106 PA.   Adrianza made some dazzling plays at SS in a reserve role.  His bat had come to life with a .333 BA in June and .318 in July before a bad hammy ended his season.  Not sure why this kid is not getting more buzz as a trade target. Maybe the Giants just won't trade him?

Matt Duffy-  .267/.302/.300, 1.6 BB%, 21.9 K%,    The Duffman excelled in a very demanding PH role after being called up from AA where he hit .332/.398/.444, 3 HR, 20 SB, 10.1 BB%, 15.8 K%, 417 PA.  Might not have quite the arm for throws from deep in the hole.  The problem for him is Panik grabbed 2B by the throat and does not appear to be about to let it go.

AAA:  Vacant.  Chris Dominguez was getting most of the playing time here by the end of the season.  I'm pretty sure Dominguez is not going to play SS in the major leagues, although the idea is fascinating.

AA: Kelby Tomlinson- .268/.340/.323, 1 HR, 49 SB, 8.9 BB%, 16.6 K%, 494 PA.  Tomlinson was surprisingly moved to 2B to give Matt Duffy a chance to play SS then moved back to SS when Duffy moved up.  This is surprisingly good offense for the environment from a guy who was a D first SS.  Should be the starting SS or 2B for Sacramento in 2015 depending on where Duffy is assigned.

High A: Ydwin Villegas- .205/.287/.298, 6.4 BB%, 25.7 K%, 187 PA.  Villegas split time between  High A and AAA for the past two seasons.  He reportedly plays MLB quality defense but has not hit a lick at any level.  At  24 yo, time is running out.

Low A:  Rando Moreno- .197/.260/.227, 16 SB, 5.9 BB%, 11.7 K%, 376 PA.  Disappointing offensive numbers from Moreno although he does make contact.  22 yo.

Short Season-  Christian Arroyo- .333/.378/.469, 5 HR, 6 SB, 6.7 BB%, 11.6 K%, 267 PA.  Arroyo was inexplicably moved to 2B in Augusta to start the season, with Ryder Jones moving from 3B to SS. By the end of the season, Arroyo was back at SS in Salem-Keizer and Jones was back at 3B there too.  Arroyo struggled at the plate and with injuries in Augusta but raked with S-K.  The early assignment at 2B would suggest that the Giants do not see him as a future MLB SS.

Rookie AZL:  Hector Mercedes- .296/.330/.469, 1 HR, 4.7 BB%, 24.3 K%, 107 PA.  At 6'3", 188 lbs, Mercedes has intriguing size.  For some reason I have a feeling he is not going to stick at SS and may be too much of a hacker to hit at higher levels.

DSL:  Manuel Geraldo- .251/.323/.338, 16 SB, 5.4 BB%, 20.8 K%, 259 PA.  Love Geraldo's size at 6'1", 170 lbs.  Tons of room to fill out that frame.  Love that he's a switch hitter.  Love that he hit .308 after the DSL All-Star game.  I'm going to be watching for him in Arizona next summer.