Friday, November 7, 2014

Hot Stove Update: Pablo or Bust?

For a guy who should be basking in the glory of winning his 3'rd World Series Championship in 5 years, Giants GM Brian Sabean sounded like a guy who is sweating bullets, up a creek without a paddle, in a gunfight with a knife for a weapon, you can add any figure of speech you want.  Brian Sabean sounded desperate to get Pablo Sandoval re-signed.  He flatly stated it was the #1 priority. He would not even talk about any other offseason issue  He said there is no in-house replacement and any alternative solution will have to come from outside the organization.  Really Brian?  What did you think was going to happen here?   If there really is no alternative, then why didn't you get this done in the spring when Pablo's camp seemed to be motivated to get some kind of deal done, even if it was not the one you wanted?  And why would Pablo's agent, after hearing that public panic attack, not come back today with a demand for 8 years/$240 M?

Since Brian has told us there are no in-house replacement options, let's take a look at possible options from outside the organization.  First of all, the free agent market is so thin as to be virtually non-existent.    Here's what they boil down to:

Chase Headley:  Prior team- New York Yankees.  .243/.328/.372, 13 HR, 7 SB.  The Yankees reportedly want Headley back so the Giants would have to outbid them and nobody outbids the Yankees for a player they want.

Mark Reynolds:  Prior team- Milwaukee Brewers.  .196/.287/.394, 22 HR, 10.9 BB%, 28.2 K%.  Reynolds has turned himself into a positive defender, but is an extreme 3 true outcomes player while the Giants philosophy runs in the opposite direction.

Alberto Callaspo:  Prior team- Oakland A's.  .223/.290/.290, 4 HR, 8.9 BB%, 11.1 K%, .243 BABIP.  Callaspo is a plus defender at 3B, is a contact hitter out of the Giants mold and his BABIP suggests a bounceback season on offense is in store.  He would also come relatively inexpensively.  Only problem is his BABIP in 2013 was just .260 so there may not be as much of a bounceback inside there as it would seem.

Hanley Ramirez:  I only put his name in here because he is listed as a 3B on MLBTR's FA list.  Ramirez flatly does not want to move off SS, he's a huge injury risk and he would cost a first round draft pick.  I just don't see this one happening no matter how desperate the Giants get.

That's it, unless you think Donnie Murphy is a hidden gem that has been overlooked all these years.  It pretty much comes down to Alberto Callaspo or a trade.  So, what about the trade market.  I made a list of teams that appear to have multiple potential starting 3B:

San Diego Padres:  Yangervis Solarte and Cory Spangenburg.  Solarte was acquired from the Yankees in the Headley trade.  Spangenburg came up from AAA at the end of the season and had an impressive MLB debut.  Spangenburg looks like the Padres 3B of the future and is ready now.  Solarte seems to be an extreme contact hitter which the Giants seem to love: .260/.336/.369, 10 HR, 9.9 BB%, 10.8 K%, 535 PA for 2 teams.  Is Solarte available or would the Padres prefer to use him as a utility guy or move him to another position and keep a backup to Spangenburg?  If he is available, would they trade him to a division rival?

Chicago Cubs:  Luis Valbuena is the incumbent, but it does not seem like the Cubs can hold Kris Bryant back much longer.  They also have Mike Olt who has been a bust at the MLB level so far.  Valbuena hit .249/.341/.435 with 16 HR's but that was something of a career year for him and may not be in for a regression, especially if he moves to an extreme pitcher's park like AT&T.  Olt is an extreme 3 true outcomes guy with power but huge K rates.  I think Valbuena can play multiple positions, so the Cubs may want to keep him as a utility guy even if Bryant is the starter out of the gate.

Boston Red Sox:  The Sox already have a logjam at 3B and if they are the ones who end up signing Pablo, at least one of their current 3B options should come available.  Brock Holt is the current incumbent, .281/.331/.381, 4 HR, 12 SB, but he can also play OF, but the Sox have a glut of OF's too! Then there is Garin Cecchini who hit .258/.361/.452 in a short callup and .263/.341/.371 with 7 HR, 11 SB 9.6 BB% and 21.6 K% in AAA.  Cecchini can go back to AAA so again, the Sox may not be forced to do anything at all.  There is Xander Bogaerts who has a huge ceiling but who the Sox can't seem to decide whether he is a SS or 3B and he is coming off a disappointing season in 2014.  Lastly, there is Will Middlebrooks who is an extreme TTO guy coming off a terrible season.

Chicago White Sox:  Conor Gillaspie  .282/.336/.416, 7 HR.  Marcus Semien  .234/.300/.372.  Semien is more of a SS but is blocked by Alexei Ramirez.  On the other hand, the ChiSox could trade Ramirez to clear a space for Semien and keep Gillaspie at 3B.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:  David Freeze and Gordon Beckham.  Freeze is absolutely hated by sabermetric types, so that means the Giants might like him a lot.  The Giants may also remember that Gordon Beckham tore into them when they played the White Sox during the season before he was traded to the Angels.  The Giants tend to remember those things.  On the other hand, there is a lot of noise about other teams asking about Howie Kendrick and the Angels just might trade him for pitching and put Beckham at 2B while leaving Freeze at 3B.

That's it, folks.  Anyone else out there I am missing?

33 comments:

  1. K. Seager/ D.J. Peterson Seattle Mariners or Maikel Franco/ Cody Asche Phillies?

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    1. Not terrible ideas, but there is always the DH in the AL and the Mariners finally ditched Smoak at 1B. I don't see them dealing either Seager or Peterson. Phillies seem to want to hang onto both Asch and Franco and move Asche off 3B when Franco is ready.

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  2. Please keep Pablo I think if the Giant don't keep Pablo the fan bass will also go with him!!

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    1. Disagree big time, but I suppose that's something they're thinking about..

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    2. I have to agree. Bass are notoriously fair-weather fish with a strong affinity for Pandas. I wouldn't worry too much though. They don't get out to AT&T much and almost never purchase MLB merchandise.

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  3. DocB, that's the problem you aren't missing anyone. Slim pickens.

    My hope is whoever the Giants get if Pablo walks can at least play high caliber D. Watching Tenada boot away good pitching performances and games really undermined the Giants team strength. Hitting can perhaps come from other positions.

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  4. I wonder about the same - why no deal earlier, before the start of the season?

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    1. I think the Giants were hoping for him to have a mediocre year, then sign him at a reasonable price for the next 4 years.

      Kind of backfired on them.....IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY! Amirite?

      Also, the obvious choice here - that the Giants just do not want to acknowledge or lean towards: Posey at 3B!!!! My goodness, how much more sense does something have to make for a team, in order to get them to try something creative/risky??? Susac is ready, Posey has the body of a 3B + experience playing the infield, a massive organizational need, and Posey's splits while playing off Catcher are hugely improved. Seriously! I know it's "just not an option" for them, but Pablo being signed on for 6 years during a bidding war.....yikes x2!!

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    2. Thing is, Pablo did have a mediocre year. Look up his slash line. If anything it is slightly worse than 2013. He was better on D. There are two things driving this: The alternative market is nonexistent and his performance in the postseason.

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    3. All GMs are envious to want to learn the secret of going all the way, 3 out of 3, every time you get into the post season. Many will want his magic potion bat. If you are into, say, stamp collecting, often, the last one to complete the set will cost you a lot.

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  5. Maybe because he's too risky for the money they're asking? You're talking someone who can't show enough discipline to keep himself in shape and, while he talks the talk, the history is doesn't walk the walk. And that's never mind his three straight years of offensive decline that has left him, more-or-less, mid-pack in 3B offense. (13th 3B in OPS this year.)

    The real issue, at least to me, is that it's not a good market for 3B out there with just Sandoval, Headley and Ramirez being MLB-level third basemen. Couple that with no realistic in-organization replacements makes Sabean's spot a difficult one.

    But that it's a bad FA market for 3B doesn't mean the Giants need to over-react and mortgage the farm. Or that Sabean was foolish to not accede to the 5-year, $90 million demand.

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    1. I agree with not acceding to Pablo's earlier demands. I was just commenting on the fact that Sabes sounded kind of desperate to re-sign him yesterday. Well, if he's desperate now, why wasn't he desperate earlier. It's not like it was hard to see this situation developing from a long way away.

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  6. Credit to Shankbone - Trevor Plouffe of the Twinkies (may need to make room for Miguel Sano at some time)

    ps - Fire Sabean for all the reasons you cited in first paragraphs ;-)

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  7. Regarding Sabean's comments regarding Pablo yesterday, you gotta wonder...Is he trying to drive Pablo's price up so that the Giants can't re-sign him? Make the Sox (or whoever) overpay and be able to legitimately step back from crazy money?

    Considering the Pujol's situation in St. Louis a few years ago, it's a delicate situation letting a homegrown star go in the interest of the long-term success of the team.

    Extreme Longshot internal darkhorse: Scutaro.

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    1. Very interesting concept, if a bit tin-foil-ish. Do Panda a solid by building him up while also making it clear to the fanbase that it does not make sense to pursue him.

      I actually think that Duffy and/or Arias are not-horrible options. At least on par with Headley.

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    2. "….a bit tin-foil-ish." LOL!

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  8. Contracts are all about supply and demand and 3B is going to be a position of demand. We can't compare deals signed at different times as 1-to-1 as we would like to think. Pablo is going to get paid, whereas if it were another year with a few 3B available, maybe he'd get less. You have to pay to play.

    As for Posey playing 3B, it diminishes his value! I'm surprised why everyone is so excited about the idea. Posey's bat at 3B is not the positional strength as it is if he plays catcher. Add to it that it seems Posey has become an elite pitch-framer and game-caller and all of a sudden we're asking for more than just a position change. Moving a guy from SS to 2B (Panik) is one thing, but moving a Catcher can really change the makeup of an entire team. Be careful what you wish for.

    I think Panda is going to get 6yrs/$110mil. That's my gut. Red Sox can swing for the fences because if he gets fat and out of shape, his bat still plays with the RF porch as a DH when another fat guy who can't play a defensive position moves on (Ortiz). It'll be interesting and I think the process is going to get drawn out for a while.

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  9. What about Troy Tulowski--- he's from the Bay Area, is signed to a hefty contract that the rebuilding Rockies want to move and could extend his career as a third baseman. As much as I would like to see Pablo re-sign--- 6 years and $120 million is an easy decision

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  10. Troy trade from rebuilding Rockies: to a divisional rival? Refusal. Fear of ferocious regrets. From Giants' POV, ditto, once rebuilding Rockies' trade demands were made.

    To those of us who hope PS goes off to the highest bidder so that the Giants can spend freely on a good SP, a proficient LF, and maybe some bullpen bolstering, the furor about Sandoval looks like post-season silliness. Crawford at 3B and Adrianza at SS, or a trial for Duffy at 3B can make do until the Giants can come up with some reasonable alternative, if one is needed, next year. Sandoval's 3-3.5 WAR doesn't seem so hard to replace if Belt and Panik can play for a full year, and we get 2 WAR from the starter who takes Sandoval's place. It's hard for me to believe that most of the fuss isn't based on sentimentality (PANDA!!!) rather than on what would be best for the team as to wins and World Series returns.

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  11. I would not resign Pablo unless we can get him on a 5 year deal. Anything longer and it will surely be a bad contract. As long as he stays around the same size his knees will likely hold up another 4 years. That fifth year is suspect but long term contracts always have a chance to kill you on the back end.

    I say we play a little numbers game and try to maximize our strengths somewhere else to create the WAR at 3B. This could either be in the form of a SP or LF. I think a healthy Matt Cain and a healthy Angel Pagan could definitely add several WAR just right there. Bochy said the other day that Angel feels incredible and could play right now if the season was still going. very encouraging words. Cain going back to being a solid #2 would be a huge gift. I think we just need someone who won't kill us on defense. I have to say Trevor Plouffe (respect to Ryan above) sounds like a good start.

    Plouffe v Sandoval
    OBP .328/.324
    WAR 3.9/3.3
    dWAR 1.0/0.6

    For a team doing a huge rebuild over the last few years we could probably pry him away for a decent arm or 2. He is under team control until 2018 which makes tons of sense.

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    1. Someone over at MCC produced a list of third basemen by WAR over the last three years. Miguel Cabrera was first, and Pablo Sandoval twenty- first. To repeat, twenty third basemen were more valuable by WAR than he was. None of them, to be sure, sold more panda hats or produced so many gasps and giggles by swinging at pitches outside the zone.

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  12. I don't know there is anyone out there but i think we will survive if we don't sign him. I love Panda, but he was super mediocre during the season. And while he was Mr. Clutch in two of our Series, I don't know that it makes sense to tie up our financials or have an out shape 34 year old at 3B. Let's be real--we almost didn't make the playoffs b/c of Scutaro, and it was only when Panik got there that 2B was fine. We almost didn't make the WS or even win because of Pagan's bad back (not to mention Morse's injuries and relying on Travis--totally dodged a bullet that he only had one defensive breakdown). We lost a WS because of a certain relief pitcher's bad arm. My point is that winning a series is a lot of things, and not making it can be equally so. We won because of the team, not Panda. And whose to say we don't get there with next guy up.

    If he's willing to do a 6 year deal that has performance ties (weight related), that's one thing. But if he wants us just to reward him for his play, not at that term. I'd rather give Duffy (probably better D) or Duvall (maybe as good a bat) a shot. It worked out fine with Panik, despite many (even on this board) screaming for a FA trade.

    Frankly, more worried that Timmy will be our 4th starter and who plays LF than I am about who plays at 3b.

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  13. I thought Casey McGehee was a free agent? Btw, the just won the NL Comeback Player of the Year award. I'd be ok with him if he really is available. Now, grasping at straws: Converting Jed Lowrie to 3B? Injury prone, but decent enough bat. Converting Rickie Weeks to 3B: he has failed to live up to the promise he once held, but maybe a change of scenery could help? Korean SS Jung-Ho Kang might be posted. Good offensive numbers. At least average defensively at SS, but would figure to be able to handle 3B. Might be a bit pricey with combination of posting fee and contract, but still likely to be less than Panda.

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    1. I like the Lowrie idea a lot. He has enough bat for 3B and should be good there defensively too.

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  14. If we can get someone to play defense that is on par with Pablo I think we can make up the offense with a full season of Belt and Pegan. IMO Pablo is not even worth a Pence contract let alone 100+ million. I would just put Duffy at 3rd and sign Max Scherzer. With a rotation of Bum, Max, Cain, Hudson and Lincecum/Petit we would be just fine.

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    1. BTW, any news on Yasmany Tomas, I like that cat a lot, is it to much to ask for him and Scherzer.

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    2. MLBTR is reporting that the Giants are one of the teams that Tomas had a private workout for so I assume they are doing their due diligence and kicking the tires. Right now, though, the focus seems to be strictly on Pablo and nothing else is going to get done until his status is settled. Tomas might be signed with another team by then.

      I would be very surprised to see Max Scherzer in a Giants uniform next season.

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    3. Are the Giants even considering a player who would cast them their top draft pick? Should they? In the past, signing high-priced free agents has usually been a bad idea. Maybe this history applies to Sandoval too. Certainly seems like it ought to apply to pitchers, where injuries are so common.

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    4. I would be surprised to see the Giants sign a FA that costs a draft pick both because they seem to value their draft picks and because I don't think they want to spend that much on a FA unless it is to keep one of their own, such as Pablo.

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    5. It would baffle me to learn that the Giants couldn't focus on two things at once within that high powered front office of theirs.

      I have a feeling that, as much focus may be on Pablo right now, the SF front office has enough marbles to keep strict tabs on Tomas, Scherzer, and any other FA or trade piece that may be in their cross hairs through the early weeks. Pablo is the biggest offensive FA out there, and it may take all winter for him to decide where to sign. Were any front office to scorn all other moves to wait that one out...just doesn't seem like how the big league operates.

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    6. I agree, but that is how they seem to roll these days.

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  15. So Sandoval can not only choose whether to impoverish the Giants with his contract demands but also whether to dawdle them out of any other offseason action? I believe that Sabean said at the recent press conference that the team has a rapid response capacity in case some new situation develops an immanent deadline. What that means in practice, he must know; we fans don't, any more than we know whether the brouhaha over Sandoval exists for the sake of candor, negotiations, anticipatory placating of fans, or what. Whatever its source, it has been keeping attention focused on the Giants, their beloved (roly-poly, intense, stalwart, or whatever else endears us) cast of characters, and their hard-working front office. Without the Pablo drama, fans' post-WS fascinations might well have strayed to some other sport.

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    1. True, but last offseason Sabes adhered to an unusually strict stepwise schedule of priorities starting with Hunter Pence followed by Tim Lincecum and later by lesser cost needs. He has been quite vocal about sticking to that schedule and he's laid out another one for this offseason. I don't think I have ever seen that from any other GM of any organization up to now. Maybe that's how it is usually done, but just isn't talked about, but Sabean has been unusually forceful about his statements saying he will stick to his agenda in the order of perceived importance, usually based on the cost of each decision.

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