Friday, December 5, 2014

Hot Stove Update: Giants Sign 3 To Minor League Contracts

The Gianrs signed 3 players to minor league contracts this week, one of whom is a guy who I have wanted them to take a flyer on for awhile now, Justin Maxwell.

Justin Maxwell is a 5 tool athlete who will be entering his age 31 season.  Maxwell came up through the Nationals organization, but has kicked around a bit in his MLB career.  He's a big guy at 6'5", 225 lbs and has played CF although at this point he is probably more of a corner OF.  He is an extreme 3 true outcomes player who either walks, strikes out or hits a HR in about half of his PA's.  As such, he often sports very low BA's which tend to be misleading about his true value.

His best season was with the Astros in 2012 when he put up a line of .229/.304/.460, 18 HR, 9 SB, 9.1 BB%, 32.4 K% in 352 PA for an fWAR of 2.0.  He got traded to KC in 2013 and between the two teams had a line of .252/.328/.436, 7 HR, 6 SB, 8.8 BB%, 29.8 K% in 262 PA for an fWAR of 1.1.  He had only 45 MLB PA's in 2014 due to injuries and no room on the KC roster.  His AAA line was .285/.352/.464, 8 HR, 3 SB, 8.6 BB%, 32.2 K%.

He's probably to end up like Jeff Francoeur, but he also has lightning in a bottle possibilities.

The Giants also signed LHP Nik Turley to a minor league deal.  Turley is a 6'4", 195 lb LHP out of the Yankees organization who has a nice K rate in the minors but got a wild hair up his nose in 2014.  He's project for the Giants pitching gurus.

Cory Gearrin is a 6'3", 200 lb RHP who fell victim to the torn UCL epidemic that hit the Braves.  He is 29 years old. He last pitched in 2013 with a line of 2-1, 3.77, 31 IP, 16 BB, 23 K.  In 2012 his line was 0-1, 1.80, 20 IP, 5 BB, 20 K's.  The Giants will rehab him from TJ and hope to catch, you guessed it, lightning in a bottle!

Love these signings!  Very nice upside, especially from Maxwell and Gearrin with zero risk.

Around the League:

The Yankees signed LHP Andrew Miller to a 4 year/$36 M contract.  Miller had a $40 M offer from the Astros but chose the Yankees for obvious reasons.  Miller was once one of the highest rated prospects around.  He was the #6 overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Detroit Tigers 4 picks ahead of where the Giants took Tim Lincecum.  Miller has settled in as a left-handed reliever who can face RH batters too.  He has put up solid numbers with dominant K rates over the last 4 seasons.  With the short porch in RF, the Yankees need a lefty reliever who can come in and shut down lefty batters late in games with the added bonus that they do not have to take him out agains RH batters.

He'll have more dominant K rates than Jeremy Affeldt, but Affeldt's ERA is comparable  over the last 4 seasons while costing the Giants slightly more than half of what Miller will cost the Yankees.  Still, for the Yankees, it's relatively low cost move that should help them more than a higher profile signing would.

The Yankees also swung a 3 way trade with the Tigers and D'Backs to acquire SS Didi Gregorius.  So Gregorius is the replacement for Derek Jeter?  Uh, good luck with THAT one, Yankees!  Gregorius may still have a decent enough ceiling, but the pressure on him in Yankee Stadium could be overwhelming.  The D'Backs got LHP Robbie Ray from Detroit.  He's a high ceiling SP prospect.  The Tigers got RHP Shane Greene from the Yankees.  Greene started 14 games for the Yanks last year with a solid ERA of 3.78 and a K/9 of 9.3.  It seems to me that the Tigers got the best player in this deal while the Yanks and D'Backs got guys who may have some upside.


  1. I just love minor league signings. (Not really any of these three guys, specifically, though). There is very little downside, and all sorts of room for value to develop. Especially in times when MLB free agents are aggressively being paid well beyond what I think is a "reasonable" contract. Virtually all the best talent is signing extensions. Those that hit the MLB FA market have some sort of strong drawback: age-31+, injury history, inconsistency, or a weakness (prone to SO, lack of power, limited defense, low innings pitched, etc.).

    Paying the massive premium, on contracts that are a couple years too long; just to acquire somebody that, as likely as not, is declining? Maybe lose a draft pick? No thanks. There are players out there who just *might* have something truly valuable to offer, for a lot less. Many with years of cost-control. I could name over a dozen players I like, but doubt m/any here really give a hoot- unless/until they sign with us. I know, most don't work out. And if they don't work out? Well, chances are they don't earn their call-up. Simple. It might be an issue if we were stocked deep in RIC/SAC with talent... Taking away playing time from top guys. We aren't. So they don't.

    I suppose you and I see things a bit differently. Miller is "low-cost," I suppose, in relation to the Yankees' overall spending habits. 9M AAV for a non-closer is pretty crazy, IMO. But Andrew Miller seems to be pretty special, so maybe worth it. When a rotation has so many question marks... Having a solid pen helps. A lot. We saw that. KC saw that. Teams saw the other side of that: LAD, BAL, OAK, ARI, CHC, CHW, DET, etc.

    Arizona also picked up a potential 2B, Domingo Leyba. He seems to be really legit, fast tracking his way through 2014. Stomping the competition. I'd agree w/ Ben Badler that he was the key piece ARI acquired here. I suppose a few still might classify Robbie Ray as "high-ceiling," but his shine sure is wearing thin. Greene definitely has *some* potential for DET.

    I find it totally ironic that Gregorius will now be a Yankee, even if he's only a platoon partner. CIN touted him as "The Next Derek Jeter" when selling him off to Kevin Towers. LOL. That's stuff one just can't make up. Too funny.

  2. With the track record of Torres, Casilla, Vogelsong and Blanco/Arias (as well as Chris Stewart to some degree) these type of low profile moves are essential to follow. During the typical dog days of Giants offense back in 2012 Maxwell's name came up to a certain extent. If he can defend well in LF, he can be a nice power threat off the bench, if he can breakthrough in camp.

    Houston's FO is seeing what happens in the real world as opposed to the BP/FG world of "I want to pay this player X because of his WAR score". Karma is tough stuff, boys! The rep is out there, and they'll have a hard time getting any premium FA, they will have to overbid huge. Reportedly they are in on Romo, but it'll take more money than any other team will offer.

  3. My favorite out of the old group of Astros was J.D. Martinez. He was released last March by the Astros and had a monster with the Tigers. 23HR to go with a .315BA. I was thinking at the time we should have taken a look at him but I am glad he got his career back on track.

  4. Sweet moves. I love a good dumpster dive. In fact, there are a ton more out there that i think the Giants should take flyers on. Why spend 65 million on Headley when you can sign Beckham or Juan Francisco or even Mark Reynolds for really really cheap? Shorter deals with more upside and less money should be the theme this winter. Medlen, Everth Cabrera, Beachy, and Banks should all be looked at and considered. Load up for spring training and lets see a competition for 3B and LF and the last spot or 2 in the rotation.

    I can't get behind signing Headley simply because of the money and the years. He actually reminds me a lot of Panda offensively and is maybe better defensively but without the Panda intangibles like .500 world series avg. and the ability to be the best player on the field at the biggest moments. He also looks like the type of player that could turn into Edgardo Alfonso and never show the promise he did for the one good year he had. All free agent signings are overpays but if we are going to overpay we should do it with someone who is more of a sure thing.

    That's why I'm ok with dumpster dives and I'm also ok if they want to sign Lester or even better Scherzer. The market is what it is and you can either buy garbage for too much or buy quality for too much. Either way you are paying too much so you might as well invest in quality. Garbage won't help you win and you won't be able to trade a guy like Headley in a down year where as Lester and Scherzer have a higher likelihood of being valuable towards the middle and end of their contracts either to build around and help the team win or to trade. We can't build around Headley and it is just too much money and years to hope he can put it back together.

    I'm also not opposed to trading Belt. If we can get a decent 3B it would allow us to resign Morse to play 1B and Ishikawa and Posey eventially would take over there. I had thought about Chisenhall a while ago but someone else mentioned Santana and I wouldn't be opposed to him either. If Cleveland gets Moss they most likely wouldn't need Belt but Chisenhall could be had for minor leaguers I would think. Belt for Josh Harrison would be sweet but not sure how it would add up. Another option that makes a lot of sense is Belt for Fister or Zimmerman. That actually might be the most realistic trade out there at this point if they were thinking of trading Belt. I know there hasn't been a lot of action so far but I think Sabes has a few interesting moves yet to make this offseason.

    1. Headley has a few warts, that's for sure, but he does give you elite defense and his bat has been as good as Pablo's, sometimes better. He also is not nearly as likely to eat his way to the bench. I think you could justify paying him up to Pablo money. Anything less expensive is a good deal, IMO. I would also be OK with spending money elsewhere, including Jon Lester or Max Scherzer. I would caution that the overall track record for large, longterm pitching contracts is dismal.

      As for the additional dumpster dives, I'd be OK with Beckham or Reynolds at the right price i.e. under $5 M X 1 year. I believe both Medlen and Beachy have had complications with their TJ's, so would have to be very cheap indeed. Cabrera has had both PED and legal issues plus he can't hit his way out of a paper bag. Banks is intriguing on a flyer.

      I do not see any of the trades you propose coming close to happening.

    2. Hey Doc -

      I'd be really interested in your take on this fangraphs article on Headley:

      I haven't followed enough of the indicators that this writer was talking about - namely, hitting flyballs with at a lower average and slg% - to know whether he was getting at an important phenomena, or whether these are the kinds of aberrations that any small, precisely-pulled set of statistics can be skewed to show.

      I'd been pretty high on Headley until the point I got into this article, being that he's outperformed Pablo in numerous categories over the last few years & has what I would have rated an under-appreciated bat. However, at this point I'm not so sure about 16+ AAV. That's a lot of resources.


    3. That article was written in July, right about the time Headley changed the grip on his bat back to his old way that he had previously gotten away from due to an injury. Headley's numbers improved after that. It's a great article up to the point it was written, but as with so many of these articles, if failed to account for physical reasons why those numbers were being generated and the fact that the player might make adjustments to correct the problems. This is why no matter what statistical measure you come up with, statistics can only go so far in predicting future performance.

  5. When the armchair GM post came out I couldn't think of what I really wanted or thought the Giants should do. I was torn on resigning Pablo even before then and about spending too much money on guys like Headley. Just reading over my post above I think i figured it all out and its all centered around trading Belt for Fister. If there were a trade that they could pull off that made sense and got them Fister and Ryan Zimmerman than I would be interested in that but since it isn't likely lets just say they get Fister and maybe Espinosa or someone of less consequence. That would get us the SP we need and push Petit or Timmy to the bullpen. Sign Morse for 2 years 18-20 million to play 1B to fill the hole Belt leaves. Morse also adds some of that team chemistry that we lose from Panda leaving. Trade for Chisenhall with any reasonable combination of minor leaguers excluding our top 3-4. Sign Alex Rios for 2 for 18-20 million to play LF. Fill in bench with guys off the non-tendered list or anyone who falls through the cracks. Cherry on top would be sign Moncada but that might be asking too much.

    So this is my 2014 SF Giants:

    Pagan CF
    Panik 2B
    Posey C
    Pence RF
    Morse 1B
    Chisenhall 3B
    Rios LF
    Crawford SS



    Bench is easy as Susac should be backup C and since we already have Blanco and Ishikawa we just need 2 INF out of dumpster dives or Arias/Duffy/Adrianza/Espinosa (from Belt trade). Middle of the lineup would be a little RH heavy and lots of pressure would be on Pence to hit cleanup and Morse to stay healthy. Rotation would be very good and I think Chisenhall would hit well in AT&T and probably put up very comparable numbers to Headley for much cheaper. Rios may have a good season left in him and he may not but Blanco can spell him on occasion and 2 years for Rios at 20 million is a pretty low cost investment if it doesn't work out.

    1. If it all hinges on trading Belt for Fister, you can pretty much wipe it clean and start over. Do you remember that the Nationals have a guy named Ryan Zimmerman who is moving to 1B from 3B next year? They have no use for Brandon Belt!

    2. I hadn't heard Zimmerman was moving to 1B. There were rumors about them trading Fister or Jordan Zimmerman at the end of the season and Ryan Zimmerman is far from a guarantee to start anywhere for them next year. When you look at what it takes to put a trade together I think there are more than enough variables in this one for it to make more sense than you are giving it credit.

      1. Belt is our biggest trade chip and expendable with Posey eventually moving to 1B whether management wants to talk about it or not.
      2. One of our needs this offseason that has been stated by our GM is SP and Fister would be excellent at AT&T and very reasonably priced next year and probably to resign.
      3. Washington just lost their 1B and Zimmerman has never played there before and hasn't shown he can be healthy or contribute for a full season recently. Belt being a LH batter I think would intrigue them as well giving them 2 lefty bats in the middle of their lineup.
      4. Washington has discussed trading one of their starters (Zimmerman or Fister were the 2 I heard).
      5. There are no PED or lingering injury issues that should derail the deal and in terms of talent I think it is pretty close value both on the field and definitely salaries wouldn't keep either team from doing the deal.

      You ask for people to have a take and not suck so do me a favor and explain why this deal in your opinion has no chance of getting done again.

    3. I just explained it to you. How much clearer to I need to be? The Nationals don't want Brandon Belt!

  6. Agreed. Belt for Fister is not likely. They like Zimmerman and after letting Laroche go they plan on penciling in Zimm at 1B. Sorry Pato. Belt is a
    Nice trade chip, but not to Washington.

    1. Belt to the Marlins for LHP Andrew Heaney would an interesting trade idea. What do you think Doc?

    2. Here is a partial list of teams that MIGHT be interested in trading for a 1B like Belt: Tampa Bay, Miami, Rockies maybe Oakland. I think that's about it. 1B just isn't that hard a position to fill.

    3. I don't think the Giants would do Belt for Heaney alone, but at least we are talking about a trade that has a ghost of chance of being interesting for both sides. I just don't think the Giants are ready to move Posey to 1B nor are they going to trade Belt so they can sign Michael Morse for more money than Belt will make. So not only do you need to find a trading partner who wants a guy like Belt, you have to overcome the obstacle that the Giants probably do not want to trade Belt.

    4. Heaney was garbage last year and is still at least a few years away from reaching his potential if he ever does so how does that fill our hole for SP? If the Nats are trying to keep their young core of guys like Desmond and Harper I could see them trying to trade Zimmerman in which case they would be in the market for a 1B. Last I checked there weren't a whole lot of good ones out there available so I could see Belt being of interest to them. Maybe Sabean makes a big splash and sends Crick, Adrianza, Carbonall, and Belt for Fister and Zimmerman! Nats get an option for after next year at SS if Desmond leaves and could use Carbonall potentially as Harper would rather play CF which means goodbye to Span. The money the Nats save from
      Zimmerman and Fister the Giants could absorb easily and it would clear room so the Nats can extend Harper or keep Desmond. Sounds like a win win to me. Giants fill 3B and SP holes they have mentioned they need to fill and the Nats are covered at 1B and have 3 prospects at positions of future need as well as clearing payroll.

    5. The Giants had a chance at Fister when Detroit trading him to the Nats for peanuts. Sabes whiffed on this one but so did every other GM. Now you want to back up the truck and unload prime rib for Fister?

      1. The Nats ain't trading Fister.

      2. They have 1B in Zimmerman. And after his performance in the playoffs you want this guy?

      3. Belt ain't worth much right now - wait until he can play a full season if you want to sell high.

      4. Posey ain't moving to 1B in 2015.


    6. Agree with Shark here. Anon: Sabes just does not make those kinds of trades.

    7. IIRC, MLBTR mentioned that the concern among some front offices was that Fister was losing velocity (or some other SABR stat that escapes my Luddite mind), hence the push to shop him (as Captain Obvious would state: JZim is approaching FA next season).

      Back to Fister - he is a Merced boy, and has pitched well at 4th & King when it counted...maybe if the Nats get nervous?

      Nah, the Nats are all in for the 2015 run - gonna be funny to make those DC types cry again next October...keep the Baby Giraffe in French Vanilla!


  7. DrB, I'd figure a couple more teams might be interested in Belt. 3 years of cost-control. Prime years Very good talent. SEA. SD and BAL come to mind. Maybe CLE or HOU, then able to trade Swish or Singleton/Carter respectively. Dunno.

    But, all along, I've wanted Matt Moore to be our #1 target this off-season. It would require a ton of context to explain why I think he could be available. I know... Hard for some to believe Moore could be traded. lol. Small market, budget, starting pitching isn't their biggest issue, risk of TJS complications, many other needs, track record of trading players away, wanting to trim payroll further, etc...

    I'm worried about the direction the Giants' moves can take us. Lester? Headley? Blanco starting in LF? Bench, depth, injury insurance? And I'm sure as heck not interested in trading Belt away for only one year of any player's control. Belt is more valuable than that.

    Just to entertain the thought of shipping Belt and re-signing Morse for 1B... No problem for those games when Posey makes Morse our threat off the bench and DH. Money & flexibility for other needs- both now and in the future. Might require Blackburn or Blach to make about 10 starts, until Moore is back from TJS. Or sign some lotto pick like Felipe Paulino or Rafael De Paula to sub in? Dunno. Who's on third? Better be lefty or switch. I'd be interested in Moncada for the long term as well. Just a thought:

    Bum - Cain - placeholder/Moore - Huddy - Lincecum

    Pagan S- Panik L- Posey R- Melky S- Pence R- Valbuena L- Morse R- Crawford L

    I'll put that at $170M in payroll (excluding Moncada's bonus + penalty). Valbuena would fit our timeline perfectly until Moncada is ready. Moore adds savings that could be used in 2016 to land a free agent starter a lot better than Lester (IMO). We *might* give up a little competitiveness in 2015, not even sure about that. But we don't add 'dead years' of contract on the back end of Lester/Headley deals. And that's the key for me. Instead of maybe a 1-2 year window, it could stretch out longer. Core of top-5 in the lineup, top-3 in rotation, and some bullpen. That's what I'd love to see most of all. I know, all this will never happen. lol. Oh well.

    1. Admittedly I am a rate amateur at this armchair GM stuff, but I just don't see Melky coming back to the team. Call it too much scar tissue, threat to chemistry or simply bad karma.

      I'm cool with Blanco as our LF, start Morse there on days Huddy starts. Let Ishikawa play there when we go on the road to Wrigley...

      I enjoyed reading your post though - good take indeed!


    2. Carmot,

      Wow! Hard to know where to start. Pretty much none of any of that has a snowball's chance in hell of happening, but that was some mighty fierce rosterbation there.

    3. Hey thanks, stranger. I think we're all "amateurs" at this stuff, here. DrB: yeah, I know. Chance of trading for Valbuena is less than 10%. Less chance we ever sign Melky back. Even slimmer chance we trade Belt at all. Almost none chance that we get *exactly* Matt Moore in return for Belt. And prolly slimmest of all is us spending 50M+ on Moncada. That about it? lol.

      But I can't follow any of this 'logic' that we're in on guys like Lester & Headley. We're gonna bust the CBT for these two? Seriously? That's insane. Push a $185M payroll this year AND next year? Both times, IMO, we still won't have a complete team. Are we seriously going to spend $215M+ in 2016 (to add Cueto and Heyward)? NOT.

      So, I'm trying to look for a way to spend reasonably and actually assemble a team that I think can continually compete. I don't think Lester helps us at that. Nor does Headley. YMMV. "Everyone" claims we have $42.5M coming off the books after 2015. TRUE. But they might fail to recognize we'll again have 3B, LF, two SP slots and Affeldt to replace. With many salaries escalating, we'll figure to be at a 155M starting point. Much like this winter.

      $30M to spend. Lots of needs. Sorry, it doesn't add up in my brain. Cheers.

    4. Why Lester, 3-6 fWAR, and Headley, 3-4 WAR, don't help is compete in 2015 and 2016, I don't understand. By 2016 we have a reasonable hope of adding young SP in Beede and Blackburn, say, or Blach and Crick, say. Slot in other names, as you like. We have a reasonable hope of having Okert or Law take Affeldt's place. We have a decent hope of Williamson's or Carbonell's entering our outfield. So one doesn't to my mind have to start making plans about competing year after year with so many unknowns as to player development, injuries, trade opportunities, and market vagaries as to render all these astute finaglings vain. One s dealing with so many contingencies that planning for 2015 with an eye to 2016 is all that makes sense. And for 2015 and 2016, I say Bring on Headley! Bring on Lester! Or come up with a plausible, prudent alternative, such as get Hammel and Masterson, find an outfielder who can field and hit (I suggested Aoki), and wait on 3B until sometime in the spring. Another plausible, prudent alternative? OK. But your overhaul looks to me neither plausible, as you yourself agree, nor prudent.

    5. I came on to share some of my views. Dang. I'm not ever trying to 'convince' others that my views are 'right' or 'more right' than somebody else's. They're simply my opinions, assumptions, conclusions, or whatever. I feel WAR is an oversimplified stat. *Maybe* Lester can be worth 3-5 WAR each of the next two seasons, sure. But his recent past (three seasons) don't show that kind of consistency. Headley being worth much more than 2 WAR each season? I'm more dubious on that one.

      Here's the way I see it... To maximize the value of Lester we need our other components to be working as well. We've lost Sandoval and likely will not have Morse back. That is a big chunk of our offense. The same one that won the World Series. That also went through a historic slump during the summer. And we don't figure to have Hicks, who helped us gain an early edge in our season record. Romo is likely leaving, too. Should we 'expect' Kontos or Strickland or another to be nearly as good in our 2015 bullpen? Vogey was mostly solid, can we "expect" that from Lincecum as our #5 again? That's a lot of question marks.

      Lessened offense and bullpen. Not maximizing what Lester can do to help us win games. Low run support, like Vogey and Huddy got. Unless we sign a solid 3B AND LF. That means spending BEYOND Lester + Headley, which... I don't see the Giants doing... So, that's the early 2 years of Lester's 6 or 7 year contract. Later, I'd expect some performance decline from him. Each year we need to replace more players, it becomes cumulative. The window of optimizing Lester's (and Headley's) value never seems truly open, as I see things. Not enough balance, not enough depth. A couple key injuries and we could look a lot like the Rangers did in 2014.

      You feel there is "a reasonable hope" on virtually every one of our prospects. You may, or may not, know much about me. I just recently started posting here. I follow the prospect scene fairly closely. I feel it would be highly optimistic to think each of these "works out." I like Mac more than guys like Peguero, Neal, Kieschnick, and other outfielders we saw crush A+ San Jose before. We've seen our recent haul of drafted arms struggle to make The Show. Otherwise, why have we played guys like Moscoso, Penny, Mota, Vogey, Huddy, Petit, Machi, Strickland, etc? You just earlier mentioned the "gamble" of other players, yet you feel "a reasonable hope" that all our guys will succeed? Okay, that's solid optimism, I guess.

      Headley would bat, what, sixth? After Pence? Then Crawford, then Blanco? Uhhhh. Paying a premium price on two guys I don't feel are all that exceptional isn't a wise plan for our future- as I see it. I understand Melky is unlikely to be back in orange & black. But the Giants put this idea out there, not me. He could bat anywhere from 1-6, a key thing if Pagan goes down or Panik struggles or anybody gets injured, yeah? Headley can't offer that. Blanco could remain our Pagan Insurance Policy. If Blanco is starting in LF, what is our back-up plan? Perez or Ishikawa starting games? Morse in LF? Rios? Javier Herrera, Gary Brown, or Jarrett Parker?

      Hammel, Masterson, and Aoki is what you find plausible? Having both Petit and Timmy in the bullpen? The front office already said Timmy will start. Aoki is worse than Blanco. That's our 2015 Giants? While also "waiting" on 3B? Well, I don't find that prudent. It's unclear to me how much Giants fans have actually thought through what signing Lester and/or Headley will actually mean. YMMV.

    6. Lester, Headley, and WAR. Lester has been better than 3 fWAR every year so far, consistently. Headley has been better than 2 fWAR consistently. He hits about as well as Sandoval, so if we were to get him he could be expected to replace PS's production. Will they? No one knows if Lester will get hit by a thrown ball and suffer a concussion, while Headley slices off a pinky trying to make a ham sandwich. But if one counts on players to do a lot, and to have a good bit of veteran savvy, they're likely to be expensive, which makes the area of contingency costly. To complement an expensive vet hiring, one needs to have younger, cheaper players. I offered a group of names from among whom I suggested that there's a reasonable hope of success for enough players to replace Affeldt and to fill an OF position. You, Carmot, think this is over optimistic, and maybe it is. But if the Giants' farm is so bereft that we can't come up with one good reliever and an outfielder, or players we can trade for a good reliever and an outfielder, we sure are in trouble.

      My suggestion of Aoki doesn't mean I think he's better than Blanco. I don't think we are likely to find someone better than Blanco, or if we do, find someone better than Blanco who doesn't imperil us financially. What Aoki offers, and others may too, is someone who produces more WAR than Morse, who can field, play more than one OF position so that he can spell Blanco or Pagan, has a high contact rate and good OBP, and can lead off when Pagan is inevitably on his sick bed. I doubt that we need more than that, given that we should add more offensive production from Belt and Panik than we got in 2014. As to the FO's saying that Lincecum will start this year, and I dare say he will until he goes decisively bust, and therefore that we do not need Hammel AND Masterson, please read Hammel OR Masterson.

    7. Carmot,

      I agree that there are many more question marks surrounding this team than most people realize. There are holes to patch, and I doubt that all of them are by April. Honestly, I wouldn't hate a Headley signing. The guy is a decent all-around player. But I just get an Aaron Rowand feeling when I think about a 4-5 year deal for Headley. Should they really spend $50M+ for a .265, sub 15 HR hitter? I'd rather spend the money on Melky, who I believe gives the team more versatility and production. Like you, I wouldn't have even considered him an option, but the Giants are the ones on record saying the interest is there to bring him back!

      Despite the risks that come with long-term contracts, I would still gladly take Lester. I think he gives this team a chance to have one of the better rotations in the league for the next few years. And I personally believe the Giants can absorb just about any contract they want at this point. If they're going to continually raise ticket prices year after year (making it much tougher for the "average" income-earning Joe like me to see a game), I expect the organization to bring in some impact talent to fill Pablo's shoes. That's Lester for me at this point.

      I know DrB has thrown the idea of a Boston trade around here a couple times this offseason, and I really feel like they could be a good match for us. Nava, Holt, Cecchini, Middlebrooks, Bradley Jr. Any one of those guys could be a useful player for this team, and you likely wouldn't have to break the bank to snag one (maybe two?) of them. I really like Cecchini, but that might make for one too many left-handed hitters in the lineup.

    8. I like Carmot's passion and although we all have our own ideas, at least he is coming up with some new ones and contributing which should be encouraged. The more I think about it the more I am against Headley but in favor of Lester. Lester will have trade value and actual value in 3-4 years where as Headley has all the potential to be Kevin Kouzmanoff or Rowand or Feliz or Alfonso or anyone else around his age who really hasn't proven anything other than one year. His trajectory is not good and at least with Panda there was a feel that he could hit 3 homeruns in a world series game or bat .500 at any time.

      Pablo also had all the intangibles that don't show up on the stat sheet where as Headley is pretty ordinary when it comes to intangibles. I and others have suggested Chisenhall as an option and maybe it is just because I suggested it recently but compare the years those two had last season and try to tell me that it wouldn't be worth trading say Crick or Adrianza or Blachburn to get a guy who is very similar to Headley yet younger, cheaper, and way more upside???

      Lester makes the most sense out of all "big" free agents out there. As I said before, all free agents are getting overpaid so we just need to make sure we are overpaying for one that is going to be worth it. Look what Headley was traded for to the Yankees this year and look at what Lester was traded for and that should give you a good idea of what the rest of the league thinks about these 2 in particular. If they sign Headley it will have a much higher chance of turning out like a Rowand deal (dollars, years, and potential to suck really do match up here) than Lester turning out like Zito!!

    9. I just think people are punishing Headley for unrealistic expectations. He put up a fWAR of 7.2 in 2012 which was never likely to be sustainable. He was 3.6 and 4.4 the last two years. Steamer projects him at 3.9 in 2015. Headley's peak was higher than Pablo's and his baseline is also higher. Any contract that comes in under Pablo's is a bargain.

  8. I just have this feeling that Belt is finally going to move to the next level this year, .305 avg 30 HR, that sounds about right, I want that to happen as a Giant not a Nat.

    1. If you project Belt's numbers from last year to 600 PA, he would have hit 30 dingers. Steamer is projecting 20 dingers in 595 PA for 2015. How about we split the difference and say he hit's 25 with about a .270 BA?

    2. I'll take it!!!


    3. DocB, Belt's got a lot to prove to "hit his numbers". First, he has to stay on the field (note keep Scoots off the field). Second, he has to become consistent, not a streaky TTO hitter. Third, he has to show he can make adjustments as pitchers adjust to him. I believe in Belt's potential, 2015 is his year to prove it out.

    4. Projections are projections. There is a reason why they play the games.

  9. To lessen the hazard of less-live years on Lester and Headley ca. 2018, we gamble on Moore, gamble on Moncada, and give up on the promise of Belt? We also shell out to the Cubs whatever we must for Valbuena, accept the hazard of less-live years from Melky C, and for that privilege surrender a 2015 draft pick in the teens. No, this will never happen, never, ever.

    1. That's cool. I understand that most, if not all here, will tend to disagree (or dismiss) my ideas. It's all good. Just thought I'd chime in. And I doubt many are familiar enough with future payroll to truly understand what is most likely to happen if we sign Lester and/or Headley.

      I see lots of ideas on Giants blogs or boards- that I think are outrageous. Move Panik or Crawford to 3B. Move Posey to 3B, 1B, or LF. Move Belt to LF. Start Adrianza or Duffy at SS. Susac needs to be our catcher. Let Timmy be our closer. Trade for Matt Kemp. Trade for Fister, Zimmerman, Zobrist, Longoria, Beltre, or D Wright. Or the generic standby, "get a #2 pitcher." LOL.

      Fact is, we continue on 'cycles' where we fill long-term needs with short-term solutions. IMO, that is far from ideal in so many ways. And it catches up to us. Because we traded guys like Wheeler, Escobar, and Hembree. Guys like Crick and Brown haven't produced well enough. Sure we've won 3-in-5 and I'm as ecstatic as the next G's fan about all this. But moving forward?

      Who thinks we're soon going to carry a $210 million payroll? And what kind of flexibility will we have remaining if/when a key player(s) goes down for TJS or injury? When Blanco is replacing Pagan in CF AND a pitcher is ineffective? We aren't the Yankees. I don't expect us to spend our way out of it. So, we could really, really, truly be "stuck." Still, I understand the consensus is "fans want Lester."

      Every player we sign is a "gamble." And I'd take prime years pretty much every time. The track record on 6+ year megadeals is horrible, even worse when signed as a free agent after age-29. I certainly wouldn't wish to "gamble" on Lester after one INCREDIBLE season. And if that fails? There are NO RESOURCES left to work from. Moore at $3M in 2015 would mean we could still spend. Valbuena (or other) could pretty much just be released without major consequence.

      I understand your selective bias, campanari. "The promise" of Belt, but "the gamble" of other teams' players. The "what we must give up" "hazard" and "surrender" stuff. It's part of why I receive dismissive responses. I truly get it, I do. Campanari, we'll just agree to disagree on what we wish for. But I believe we still share a common goal of wanting the Giants to be great. Cheers.

    2. We do share that goal, carmot. And I wrote a later response to you, which appears earlier in the sequence in the blog, which indicates why I am suspicious of planning for longer than a year or two, and offers an alternative that doesn't involve long-term on Lester. But I will stick with feeling that getting Melky and giving up a draft pick exposes us to a diminishing returns hazard just as getting Headley would. Melky's not a one year buy. I will stick with feeling that a pitcher coming back from TJ and a Cuban IF of 19 who has never faced an MLB pitcher are gambles, whereas Belt with his three year's record can be thought of as having his "promise" on a very different level of confidence. "Selective" is perhaps a tendentious adjective when there's a rational basis for thinking of these gambles and promises.

    3. I've actually never heard of anyone on one of these blogs predict a trade especially not any of the head scratchers we have seen even in the last few years! Who would have predicted the Donaldson trade just now or Lester or the trades the Dodgers pulled off for Agon, Craw, and Becket for nothing or Hanley Ramirez for Peanuts! Doug Fister was traded for a pastrami sandwich and a six pack of bud lite and his name was mentioned in trades end of season. Anything can happen but one question I have to ask is why are you so in love with Matt Moore? Injuries and inconsistencies is all he has to offer!

    4. Both Donaldson and several sportswriters expected him to be traded this offseason. Fister was projected to be traded. The surprise was how little Detroit got in return. The Dodgers trades were crazy at the time and I think you have to say in retrospect they did not work out.

  10. Watching carmot's roster gymnastics reawakens in me the sense that this offseason has so far been moving with an unusual rhythm for Giants fans. What I remember from the past was Sabean's making a couple of quick moves, signing a Hudson or Renteria or Pagan & Scutaro, making a trade or two perhaps, and then remaining pretty still. I don't recall all the raising of hopes--Sandoval yes/no, Tomas yes/no, Lester yes/no--and proclamations of various levels of interest (Lester, Headley, Santana, Cabrera) that we have been hit with this year. Most, if not all the hopes will be squelched, making the Giants look like losers or pikers or lucky bullet-dodgers or sturdy-minded businessmen, depending on what one's hopes were. But none of the public plays fits in with what I think of as the team's projected image as a group that studies its cards close to the vest and deeply shielded by those gray beards that Shankbone likes to evoke.

    Is this just my perception or misperception? If others share it, what has changed this year to change the team's offseason image? Compensation for the sailing off of Sandoval?

    1. For me, it's the monumental nature of what this off-season *means*. Massive implications, IMO. I tend to not believe the 'double-speak' of Sabean. History has shown he tries to "ply" the fans into a belief of "groupthink." I don't buy it. The kicking tires, going hard after a guy and conveniently having the 2nd highest bid (Abreu, Tomas, Sandoval, etc... Even Wilson, Uribe, Beltran, and others). Playing Uggla because, "there was no one else." All the talk of "expanding international scouting" and "we're in on all these guys." Oddly, we haven't heard mention of the Rainy Day Fund since 2011? Huh. Dear Sabean: It is YOUR JOB to create a good trade. I'm not at all interested in him saying it's too hard... "The asks were too high." WTH?

      Heck, at last year's Winter Meetings, Sabean said "the window is closed." He said the same thing directly after 2012. Oh yeah, last year Sabean said the biggest thing he learned from the miserable 2013 season was "we didn't have enough depth. We need to build more depth." Uh-huh, sure. At the 2014 trade deadline he said, "there are too many holes, there is no magic bullet" and "God bless 'em, they're not ready." In on Sandoval, Tomas, Lester, Markakis, Melky, Santana, Liriano, Miller, Moncada, Castillo, Abreu, yada yada yada... Yeah, and in 2013 we claimed Ted Lilly off waivers, tried to sign Mark Mulder last winter, and thank goodness didn't go get Rafael Furcal or Alex Rios this past trade deadline. Phew!

      I believe this off-season *defines* this Giants team more than any recent off-season.
      The decisions, the strategies. Because we (currently) don't have a Bumgarner or Posey or Wheeler in our system. Because we are now facing the CBT (Luxury Tax threshold). Because we have become accustomed to winning. Because we have so many needs to fill. Because we have a very, very good core intact to build from. 3-in-5 does build a lot of goodwill... And fans. And mucho dinero. Verdad.

      We've a heap of "fringe" guys. Do we use their value in trades? Or will they wither away like Cavan, Bond, Gillaspie, Harris, Otero, Fitzgerald, Westcott, and others? Will we make a big move? Maybe sign Lester. Maybe trade for a guy like Jay Bruce? Plouffe or Valbuena? Are we waiting to sign Jason Heyward? lol. If Sabean & Co. choose wisely, we can be set up for several years. If we choose wrongly, we could very soon end up old and with immoveable contracts- like the Phillies.

      I'm glad we didn't sign Sandoval to a 100M+ contract. I'd be relieved if we don't sign Lester or Headley. Time to get more creative, find better solutions. I believe they're out there. The truth will set you free. (cue X-Files music). lol.

    2. Love the Passion!! How about this one, sign Lester to make a big splash and help the team now and over the next 6 years and also Sign Moncada to help in a year or 2. If in 2-3 years we are a mess and have to rebuild at least we can trade Lester. As for filling all of the holes this team has right now, I have total confidence that Sabes will find cheap alternatives at every spot.

    3. I'm all for signing Lester if the Giants think they can afford it. I think they would actually get more value with a Headley/Hammel signing, but to each his own. I would not be unhappy with a Lester signing.

  11. OMG! This has really degenerated into what I don't want this blog to become! I am very tempted to just ax the entire discussion, but will instead try to address a few of the issues that have been raised(actually, mostly bogus issues, IMO):

    1. I am not beating the drum for blowing past the luxury tax threshold. If the Giants have the money to do it, that's great. I'm not at all counting on it.

    2. In my prior Armchair GM post, I did present a viable way of building a team that can compete for another championship and still stay below the luxury tax with moves that do not rely on pie-in-the-sky trades that will never happen.

    3. This is a "defining" offseason? I agree that the Giants are at a place where they are nearing the end of a cycle and will have to start replacing some of the core of the last 5 years, but defining? I think the Giants as an organization are already pretty well defined. If they make some adjustments in how they approach team building, that is probably a good thing, but they have already defined themselves!

    4. I will be posting some reviews of the farm system soon. The Giants are in good shape for the future. They have present young assets at the MLB level, they have more prospects who may well help in 2015 and they have a whole bunch with high ceilings who could break out at any time. The Giants continue to be as well positioned for the future as any team in baseball!

    So, I hope everybody can just calm down a bit.

    1. Sorry, DrB. You're right. I'm sorry to make you feel this way. In no way did I mean to hijack your blog or anything. It IS your blog. Feel free to axe my comments if you wish. I hope you don't take my words as an affront to your good works. You've invested a lot into your site, you shouldn't have to feel your blog has "degenerated" into something you didn't "want it to become." My deepest apologies. Cheers.

    2. No problem, carmot. I appreciate your enthusiasm and intensity.

  12. Axe it Doc. I pleaded the 5th and didn't want to get in between carmot and camp going back and forth. Lol