Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hot Stove Update: ChiSox Are All In; World Waits for Lester; Sabes Speaks

The Chicago White Sox continued to load up for a postseason run in 2015 signing RHP and former Yankee Closer, David Robertson, to a 4 year/$46 M contract, and completing a trade with the Oakland A's, who are obviously not at all in, for RHP Jeff Samardzija.  Robertson was one of the premiere setup men in baseball for 3 year behind Mariano Rivera before taking over the closer role for the Yanks last year.  His ERA actually went up by a run, but his peripheral stats and FIP/xFIP were still stellar.  He racked up 39 Saves.  Robertson gives the White Sox a much needed closer, albeit at a high price.  Pitching in the Chicago ballpark is no picnic, but probably easier for a RHP than Yankee Stadium with its short RF porch.  As for the Yankees, Dellin Betances probably takes over as closer while newly acquired Andrew Miller becomes the LH setup man.

The ChiSox also acquired RHP Jeff Samardzija from the Oakland A's as Billy Beane continues to burn his ship down to the waterline.  In return for Samardzija, Billy gets 3B/SS Marcus Semien, who will probably play SS for the A's, and a couple of prospects.  Samardzija may not be quite a top tier SP at this point, but he is definitely one of the better second tier SP's and his career still seems to be on an upward trajectory.  He must be excited for the opportunity to pitch for the team he grew up rooting for. He is projected to make $9.5 M in Arbitration by MLBTR and will be FA after 2015 unless the White Sox are able to sign him to a contract extension.  Given the emotional attachment, they might be the only team that would have a chance to keep him from free agency.  As for 2015, Samardzija will team with Chris Sale and Jose Quintana to form a very solid top 3 in their starting rotation.

Meanwhile, it's all quiet on the western front in the Jon Lester negotiations.  There are reportedly at least 4 teams and possibly 5 in on him.  The Giants appear to possibly be the team that impressed him the most, but I am getting the feeling that he will have to decide to take atmosphere, culture and team success over money to sign with them.  The suspense is building.

Brian Sabean came out of his bunker to say a few words yesterday:

OK, listen up gang!  Sabes once again said there is no discussion of moving Buster Posey off catcher.  "He is a franchise player, a franchise catcher" were his exact words.

Sabes once again threw some shade at his own farm system in discussing the Lester situation and threw some cold water on the Headley rumors, "you should not go by what you read that we're head over heels over Headley."  Wow!  When that gets back to Headley, I'm thinking he crosses the Giants off his list!  Sabes went on to say, "right now, it's all about Lester."  Sabes did not sound like he was desperate enough for Lester to start bidding against himself.  "If it's not Lester, we'll switch gears."

In discussing the Giants interest in Lester, Sabes went into the importance of fielding a strong starting rotation and threw some shade at his own farm system, which is does from time-to-time, while also moving on from Tim Lincecum. "At the end of this(2015 season) there is going to be a lot of attrition(in the rotation) and we don't have the big arms coming up."   Of course Sabes had similar things to say about the farm system before the trade deadline this year, but then turned around and had a meeting with the team veterans and told them the only help would have to come from the farm system.

My take?  It is true that there are no sure things coming along from the farm system, but that does not mean the system is bereft of pitching prospects.  Sabes goes to great lengths to tamp down expectations on the kids for their own good.  Signing Zito was a way of taking pressure off Matt Cain at the time.  Signing Lester would take pressure off whoever may emerge as the next wave of homegrown SP's and reduce the number of slots that have to be filled from within.

Madison Bumgarner was named SI's Sportsman of the Year for his extraordinary postseason run.  When asked about the Chevy man, Bumgarner gave an empathetic answer,  "he had a tough time, bless his heart."  Madison Bumgarner is a good dude!

As I suspected, the Giants named Roberto Kelly their new 3B coach with bullpen coach Bill Hayes moving up to first base coach.


  1. Most GMs are under pressure to win now, not the least for bringing in fans to the park, and making money for ownership.

    Is Billy making a mockery of that? 'I will build a winner when one of these years, teams in my divisions are all in decline?'

    Now that the media narrative is 'KS is winning with cheap players, my story is we're re-building,, in order to keep myself in the limelight.'

    Gotta have a different hook.

  2. Ok Lester not looking so good now, said to want Cubs or Red Sox, switch gears to Scherzer who the Tigers are rumored willing to go big on too? One of the better fallbacks, Lirano, is off the table too and Hammels was gone yesterday. The dominoes are starting to fall!

  3. What was the best free-agent signing? Not only for Giants, but for anybody in the last 10 years. It just seems like no matter who is signed as a free agent it will be for too much money and too many years? What is considered a success? For that player to out play the contract or the player turning the team into a contender? The media talks up players until they are signed a contract and then they reverse course and talk about the warts of the player and say how terrible the deal was. In your opinion what was the best free agent deal in the last 10 years or so. Beltre with Texas comes to mind, but I'm not sure. Interested on your take Dr. B

    1. Jeramy Affeldt? He has been an absolute staple in a bullpen that has won 3 rings, and has come up huge in all three World Series'.

      While he is not a sexy answer to your question, I think he has to be in the discussion.

    2. Really good question. I'll have to think about that one for awhile. Maybe write a post on it? It depends a lot on how you measure success. Is it team success such a winning championships? One of the WAR calculations? Some other criteria?

  4. Replies
    1. Bingo! You beat me to it. Best FA signing of all time, by far! Other names that come to mind include Greg Maddux, David Ortiz, Reggie Jackson, Vlad Guerrero, Rod Carew, maybe Pedro Martinez?

  5. There it is, Giants out on Lester. Plan B?

    1. I don't know whether to be disappointed or relieved just like I felt about Sandoval and Tomas. Had the Giants signed Lester, I would not have known whether to be ecstatic or frightened out of my wits.

    2. be relieved.....because the cubs are gonna give lester a 7 year contract

      sabey sabes has turned the corner


    3. I'll be honest. I'm relieved. When you're paying for FAs, you're paying for past, peak peformance that, most of them, never achieve again. Some do. But for every Barry Bonds there's at least one Barry Zito, maybe two...

      So maybe Lester is a Barry Bonds type of FA. But even if so, it's a team game and I count with a zero the number of World Series Championships we won with Bonds. Which is not an indictment of Bonds. It's a team game and one man can help drag a team to victory. But you still need good people in a lot of other spots to actually get there.

    4. Why do teams still pursue free agents though?

      We might have come in third, but our offer was still for a lot of money.

      And these teams are not complete idiots - the Giants, the Red Sox, the Cubs, the Dodgers, etc And those not in there bidding, might have if they had money or the need.

      So, why do teams do it? Pressure to win? Living in the real world, the non-Billy-Beane world of needing to field a competitive team to attract paying fans, and not being able to take even one single year off to re-build?

    5. I think Sabes actually articulated it fairly well in his own inimitable way. The Giants not only have an immediate need in the rotation but will likely continue to have needs in the future. At this time, talent they can count on coming up and filling the gaps from the minors is not there. So, the Giants are in the market for a longterm, ace level, addition to the rotation.

    6. @BuyLow...

      The name of the game is winning. The Giants have Bumgarner and four question marks.

      1. Will Matt Cain return to form? Or is 2013/2014 what we're going to get?
      2. Tim Hudson fell apart the second half of the season and doesn't fill me with confidence.
      3. Will Tim Lincecum's dad fix Tim's mechanics? I have my doubts.
      4. Who will replace Vogelsong? Or will we resign him? And if we resign him, does he 'get better?' Maybe. There were some numbers that said he somewhat snake-bit. But he's still a #5 inning eater.

      What we don't have is MLB ready starting pitching. We have 3 high-ceiling guys right now:

      1. Crick has control issues.
      2. Mella is still green.
      3. Beede is green and has control issues.

      Of the three, I'm betting on Mella because his BB have gone from 3.6/9 to 2.8/9 to 2.0/9 which means he's adding control to his swing-and-miss FB and his great change up (which may end up being a second + pitch).

      Then we have a handful of mid/back-of-the-rotation guys. Kickham been up twice and hammered-to-death both times. Mejia fell apart AND is on a 50-game suspension for diet pills. Blach could make it in 2015, even though he was in AA last year. Blackburn may, or may not, make it and if he does, I can't see him being anything but a #4/#5 guy. Chris Stratton is not looking all that hot, but it's still too early to tell.

  6. And here is Plan B:

    The Giants are all in on free agent starter Jon Lester, but they're hedging their bets and preparing for Plan B if Lester should choose to sign elsewhere.

    San Francisco has engaged in talks with the Atlanta Braves about acquiring All-Star outfielder Justin Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson, according to USA Today.

    The Giants have holes to fill in the starting rotation, in left field and at third base. Acquiring Upton and Johnson would patch up two of those holes, and still leave the team with some flexibility to pursue starting pitching.

    Upton, 27, is in the the final year of a six-year, $51.5 million contract and will be a free agent after earning $14.5 million this year. The two-time All-Star hit .270 with 29 home runs and 102 RBI in 154 games last year.

    Johnson, 30, hit .263 with 10 home runs and 58 RBI in 153 games last year after batting .321 in 2013. He is owed $16.5 million over the next two seasons.

    It's unclear what the Giants would give up in return, but the Braves are said to be willing to receive less if Johnson's significant contract is included in the deal.

    Back in 2011, Upton posted an interesting tweet in response to a question about which city he disliked the most.

    "I hate going to SF. The ball travels like crap there," he wrote.

    1. I like the Upton/Johnson idea, Mainly because it 1. Is not a long term commitment and 2. Would not cost a draft pick. I don't know what it would take to get a deal done. Apparently the Braves asking price goes down if the Giants are willing to take on all of Johnson's salary. I would actually be willing to trade any two prospects in the system in this deal.

    2. Sounds like Upton/Johnson deal is dead. Callaspo is gone. Jed Lowrie or Gordon Beckham might be considerations for 3B. Maybe the Giants could get just Johnson to play 3B for a bag of broken bats if they take on his salary for 2 years?

      Giants are reportedly looking for a platoon partner for Gregor Blanco. Justin Maxwell might already be the best fit there.

      Who has pitching to trade? Would the Padres trade Ian Kennedy to the Giants? Do the Giants have room for another Brandon, McCarthy? Masterson? Do they make a huge push for Scherzer and dumpster dive for 3B?

      Options are dwindling.

    3. I really have liked Masterson in the past when he was healthy and it sounds like we could get him on a short term low cost deal. I would like to see us take a flyer on him and another 2nd tier pitcher. I also like the idea of Upton and Johnson in a trade, the Braves are not going to ask for as much if we take Johnson's contract. Johnson had a really nice 2013, could be a steal. As for Lester, I really wanted him, sort of like that hot chick in HS that said no to me, now I hate that witch.

    4. Options that are options right now are dwindling, yes. But, except for starting pitching, new options which are just as appealing are going to appear over time. At least that's how it's always been in the past. If the Giants sign McCarthy or Masterson, they can see how the trade market develops. I think it's a good time for us all to remain both involved and calm.

    5. I wonder what it would take to pull off a trade with the Mets for Niese and Murphy with Murph sliding over to 3B? Sabes and Sandy Alderson have made two trades that I recall. Alderson won the Wheeler/Beltran deal. Sabes won the Torres/Pagan deal.

    6. Will Sabean trade for Wheeler (who is not on the market, but everyone has a price), among other options, now that Lester has signed with the Cubs?

    7. No, I do not think Sabean will trade for Wheeler.

    8. Giants now said to be in on Hamels, and Phillies looking to trade Rollins to LA maybe. Crawford, Crick, plus who gets it done for the Giants?

    9. Hard to see the Giants being able to put a package together for Hamels. Crick would be the logical starting point. Then maybe Crawford and Susac with a couple of high ceiling guys from the lower minors like Mella and/or Santos? Phillies are definitely not going to give Hamels away even with the receiving team taking on 100% of the contract.

    10. If the Giants did look into getting Hamels, they knew what they had to give up and were prepared to part with some major capital, if not sufficient.

    11. That would be a horrible price Dr. B. Forgetting whether Crick should be traded, there is no way I'd give up Crawford or Susac. Crawford, when rested, is one of the better SS in the league. He showed that last year. HIs drop off wasn't be cause he isn't good; it's because he was tired. While I like Duffy/EA, I'm not convinced (yet) they are starters and trading Crawford to me is acting like we have a luxury we don't have. Especially when we already have a black hole at 3b. As for Susac, same issue. Posey got tired and worn down; you can't let that happen, especially when we've lost two bats that at times were hot. Sure Panik and a healthy Belt lessens that, but a tired Posey would be bad.

      We have 4 starters (assuming Petit). I think you give one of the kids a shot or you get someone else who is much more signable for less and roll the dice that Blackburn gets ready quickly. Frankly, maybe you just let Blackburn be the 5th guy now.

      Just say no!

    12. I'd do Hammels for Crawford, Crick and Susac in a minute. We have a viable replacement for Crawford, Crick is still just a prospect and if you believe Sabean Susac is just a back up for the foreseeable future. To get a guy like Hammels, just say yes!

    13. I think that package would be a fair trade. Much as I like Crawford, I don't think you let him stand in the way of acquiring a pitcher like Hamels.

  7. Looks like Giants are asking about Gee of the Mets.