Monday, February 29, 2016

Fantasy Focus: Know Your Closers

Most fantasy baseball leagues count 10 statistical categories toward determining who wins the league.  These 10 categories are divided equally between offense and pitching, or 5X5.  Most of these categories are somewhat overlapping.  Starting pitchers who strikeout a lot of batters also tend to get more Wins and to have low ERA's.  Batters who hit a lot of HR's also tend to score a lot of Runs and get a lot of RBI's.  Saves is the one category with the least overlap.  If you roster a Starting Pitcher who eats innings and has a low WHIP, you will get some wins and even get some K's out of him.  You can't roster just any pitcher and get Saves.  At any given time, there are only 30 pitchers in all of baseball who are likely to give you Saves.  Depending on how many RP roster slots your league has, those 30 closers can be a scarce commodity.

On the other hand, Saves is just one category out of 10, so you don't want to be expending your resources on players who are only going to help you in that one category.  Sure, Closers also get an occasional W and usually help out your ERA and WHIP numbers and even give you a few K's, but overall, you are rostering them for one reason, to win the Saves category.  One simple rule I have learned in my now 8 years of playing fantasy baseball is a bad Closer on a bad team is almost as valuable as a good Closer on a good team.  The main reason for drafting elite closers is job security rather than performance at any given time.  You don't want to be using 3'rd and 4'th round picks on the Craig Kimbrels and Kenley Jansen's of the world, nor do you want to be bidding $15-$20 for them in an auction.  So, it pays to always know who the current Closer is on all 30 teams and also who might become the Closer in the future in case of injury or poor performance. With that in mind, here are the current projected Closers for all 30 MLB teams:

Orioles:  Zach Britton- Secure.

Red Sox:  Craig Kimbrel- Secure, but Boston also has former closers Carson Smith and Koji Uehara on the roster.

Yankees:  Aroldis Chapman- Secure except for that suspension hanging over his head for alleged domestic abuse.  The Yanks also have Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller who would be closers for most teams on the roster.

Rays:  Brad Boxberger- Secure, but wasn't great last year.  Rays have a bunch of unknowns filling out their bullpen roster, but have no problems turning to one of them if needed.

Blue Jays:  Drew Storen- Shaky with Roberto Osuna competing for the closer's role.

White Sox:  David Robertson- Secure, but wasn't that great last year.

Indians:  Cody Allen- Secure.

Royals:  Wade Davis- Secure, although KC has several relievers who could do the job about as well.

Twins:  Glen Perkins- secure.

Astros:  Ken Giles- Probabably secure, but last year's closer, Luke Gregerson is still on the roster and he did a good job.

Angels:  Huston Street- Secure.

A's: Sean Doolittle- Secure, but a big health risk. Unclear who would take his place if injured, I would bet on RJ Alvarez.

Mariners:  Steve Cishek- Shaky.  Had a poor season last year and the M's also have Joaquin Benoit on the roster.  Keep you eye on Tony Zych.

Rangers:  Shawn Tolleson- Fairly secure, but doesn't throw that hard and many analysts think Keone Kela will be the Closer by the end of the season.

Braves:  Jason Grilli- Fairly secure if healthy but coming off an Achilles tendon injury and Arodys Vizcaino is a legit option.  Grilli is also a prime trade candidate come mid-season.

Marlins:  AJ Ramos- Fairly secure, but Carter Capps is pushing him.

Mets:  Jeurys Familia- Last year's big breakout.  Secure!

Phillies:  David Hernandez- Shaky.  Not at all clear who might take his place, though.

Nationals:  Jonathan Papelbon- Secure for now, but could be a trade candidate if the Nationals drop out of the race and if there are any more clubhouse issues.

Cubs:  Hector Rondon- Fairly secure, but the Cubs have a deep bullpen so he'll be on a short leash if he starts pitching poorly.

Reds:  John Hoover- Fairly secure, but Jumbo Diaz is pushing.

Brewers:  Will Smith- good pitcher, so should lock down the position, but Jeremy Jeffress is pushing and trades are possible.

Pirates:  Mark Melancon- Secure.

Cardinals:  Trevor Rosenthal- Secure.

Diamondbacks:  Brad Zeigler- Secure, but not a classic closer profile.

Rockies:  Jason Motte- Shaky.  Unclear who might unseat him:  Kevin Quackenbush?  Jake McGee?

Dodgers:  Kenley Jansen- Secure!

Padres:  Fernando Rodney- As alway with Rodney, shaky!  Not clear who might replace him, though.

Giants:  Santiago Casilla- Fairly secure, but Hunter Strickland is pushing.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

DrB's 2016 NL Power Rankings: #1 Cubs

1.  Chicago Cubs

Starting Position Players:  C  Miguel Montero, 1B  Anthony Rizzo, 2B  Ben Zobrist, 3B Kris Bryant, SS Addison Russell, LF Kyle Schwarber, CF  Dexter Fowler, RF  Jason Heyward.

Starting Rotation:  Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Jon Lackey, Kyle Hendricks, Jason Hammel.

Bullpen:  Hector Rondon, Travis Wood, Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, Trevor Cahill, Rex Brothers, Adam Warren.

Bench:  C  David Ross, OF Jorge Soler, IF Tommy La Stella, IF Javier Baez, OF Matt Szczur.

The Cubs pretty much have it all here, toonder in the lineup, a strong rotation a good bullpen and talent overflowing onto the bench.  Adding Dexter Fowler gives them a true CF, but may downgrade the lineup a hair by forcing either Soler or Schwarber to the bench but I guess that's a good problem to have.  If the NL Pennant was decided only by the best regular season record in the league, the Cubs would be the clear, almost runaway, favorite.  Fortunately, the Giants only have to win 3 or 4 games against them in a postseason series, or if things break right, they might not have to face them at all!

At any rate, I'm not completely sold that their bullpen is a postseason-quality bullpen, the last 3 members of the rotation have had their ups and downs over the years, and there is still a lot of K's in that lineup, so there are cracks in the wall if you want to look for them.  The Cubs are a serious team, though!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

DrB's 2016 NL Power Rankings: #2 Giants

2.  San Francisco Giants

Starting Position Players:  C Buster Posey, 1B  Brandon Belt, 2B  Joe Panik, 3B  Matt Duffy, SS  Brandon Crawford, LF  Angel Pagan, CF  Denard Span, RF  Hunter Pence.

Starting Rotation:  Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Jake Peavy, Matt Cain.

Bullpen:  Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez, Hunter Strickland, Josh Osich, George Kontos, Chris Heston.

Bench:  C  Andrew Susac, IF  Kelby Tomlinson, IF Ehire Adrianza, OF  Gregor Blanco, OF  Jarrett Parker.

The Giants start with the single biggest positional advantage in baseball with Buster Posey at Catcher.  While no single other player is the best at their position, the overall IF might be the best in baseball with every player capable of putting up a 4+ WAR season.  Pence and Span give them 2 more players capable of 4 WAR seasons.  LF is the obvious weak link.  Pagan moves over from CF but would have to have a major bounceback season to be as good an option as Blanco and neither Pagan nor Blanco gives you the power you want from LF which leaves an opening for Parker or Mac Williamson or maybe Kyle Blanks to step up.

The rotation got a major facelift in the offseason with the additions of Cueto and Samardzija.  Cueto at his best is good enough to be considered a co-ace and the 2014 version of Samardzija is close to that.  Health is the big issue with Peavy and Cain, so there may be opportunities for Chris Heston to get back in the rotation and/or Clayton Blackburn to step up from being the best SP in the AAA PCL last year.  More on Cain later.

The bench is open for some competition with Blanco probably being the only one with a secure spot on the roster.  Tomlinson is close to being a lock too.  Susac has to defend his backup catcher job from rookie Trevor Brown who showed some defensive chops last September, and from veteran George Kottaras.  Adrianza is a terrific defensive SS, but has shown no stick at the MLB level so far.  He gained so weight over the winter to try to be stronger at the plate, but he'll be challenged by Hak-Ju Lee who was signed as a minor league FA over the winter or the Giants could go with just Tomlinson to back up 3 positions to make room for Blanks bat on the roster.  It's also possible they could rely on Blanco to back up all 3 OF positions and make room for Blanks by dropping Parker.

Health is going to be the big key to the season.  The best predictor of injury is prior injury and several roster members were beat up last season.  Cain is probably the biggest concern.  He really needed to have a smooth, injury-free spring, but is already on the shelf after the surgical removal of a cyst on his right arm.  The good news is it is just a cyst and therefore should heal quickly and not cause lingering problems.  The bad news is it was apparently more than just a simple cyst on the surface of the skin because Cain reportedly returned to Arizona with his arm in a sling.  At any rate, he's supposed to start throwing again in 10 days and spring training is at least 2 weeks too long anyway, so he should be ready to start the regular season on time.  Pagan, Span and Peavy are 3 more guys who have to prove they are still capable of staying healthy for a full season.

This is the strongest Giants team on paper going into the season that I can remember, stronger, IMO, than any of the 3 championship teams.  As we say, though, there is a reason why they play the games and keeping everybody healthy all season will be the key.

Friday, February 26, 2016

My First 2016 Mock Fantasy Draft

I play in an auction league, so naturally, I did an auction mock draft on Yahoo.  Here's the team I drafted with what I paid.  The teams had 23 rosters spots and a budget of $260, 12 teams which ends up with close to the same total number of drafted players as my 10 team league with 26 man rosters.  I decided to try a stars/scrubs approach just to see what I ended up with.

C  JT Realmuto- $1
1B Paul Goldschmidt- $55
2B Jonathan Schoop- $1
3B Jung-Ho Kang- $1
SS Addison Russell- $5
OF Bryce Harper- $58
OF Gregory Polanco- $16
OF David Peralta- $1
UT Ender Inciarte- $2
UT Michael Conforto- $1
SP Madison Bumgarner- $28
SP Zack Greinke- $27
RP Santiago Casilla- $2
RP Will Smith- $1
P   David Price- $28
P   Stephen Strasburg- $25
P   David Hernandez- $1
P   John Lamb- $1
BN Kevin Gausman- $1
BN Robbie Ray- $1
BN Bartolo Colon- $1
BN Aaron Sanchez- $1
BN  Jake Peavy- $1 

DrB's2016 NL Power Rankings: #3 Mets

#3.  New York Mets

Starting Position Players:  C  Travis D'Arnaud, 1B  Lucas Duda, 2B  Neil Walker,  3B  David Wright, SS  Asdrubal Cabrera, LF  Michael Conforto, CF  Yoenis Cespedes, RF  Curtis Granderson.

Starting Rotation:  Matt Harvey, Jake DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Bartolo Colon.

Bullpen:  Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, Antonio Bastardo, Hansel Robles, Jeremy Blevins, Erick Goeddel, Sean Gilmartin.

Bench:  C Kevin Plawecki, IF  Wilmer Flores, IF/OF Eric Campbell, OF  Juan Lagares, Alejandro De Aza.

One of the best rotations in baseball, if not THE best.  Zack Wheeler is expected back mid-season.  Bastardo is a huge, very underrated addition to the bullpen which lacked a go-to lefty option last year.  Hansel Robles is a hard throwing riser who could supplant Reed as setup man by the end of the season.  On the offensive side of the ball, Conforto and D'Arnaud could break out, but does David Wright have anything left?  And was Cabrera the right upgrade for SS?  I'm ranking the Mets over the Dodgers and Cardinals mainly on the strength of the rotation which has 3 co-aces and pretty darn good 4 and 5's too.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

DrB's 2016 NL Power Rankings: #4 Dodgers

#4  Los Angeles Dodgers

Starting Position Players:  C  Yasmani Grandal, 1B Adrian Gonzalez, 2B  Howie Kendrick,  3B  Justin Turner, SS  Corey Seager, LF  Carl Crawford, CF  Joc Pederson, RF  Yasiel Puig.

Starting Rotation:  Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, Brett Anderson, Kenta Maeda, Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Bullpen:  Kenley Jansen, Chris Hatcher, Pedro Baez, Luis Avilan, JP Howell, Yimi Garcia, Alex Wood.

Bench:  C  AJ Ellis, IF/OF  Scott Van Slyke, IF  Chase Utley, IF/OF Enrique Hernandez, OF Andre Ethier.

Still a formidable team, but one look at that rotation tells you how much they are going to miss Zack Greinke.  Can Joc Pederson bounceback from his second half slump?  Will Corey Seager make the adjustment when the league gets a book on him?  Can Puig keep his head in the game?  Lots of question marks, especially in the pitching staff.  I know I'm a homer, but looking at that roster, I'm not sure #4 isn't too high a ranking!

DrB's 2016 NL Power Rankings: #5 Cardinals

#5 St. Louis Cardinals

Starting Position Players:  C Yadier Molina, 1B  Mike Adams, 2B  Kolton Wong, 3B  Matt Carpenter, SS Jhonny Peralta, LF  Matt Holliday, CF  Randal Grichuk, RF  Stephen Piscotty.

Starting Rotation:  Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, Jaime Garcia, Mike Leake.

Bullpen:  Trevor Rosenthal, Seung Oh, Kevin Siegrist, Seth Maness, Jordan Walden, Tyler Lyons, Jonathan Broxton.

Bench:  C Brayan Pena, 1B/OF  Brandon Moss, IF Greg Garcia, IF Jedd Gyorko, OF Tommy Pham.

The Cardinals won 100 games last year, but the ship is developing leaks.  I am not sure how much Molina and Holliday have left.  The Grichuk/Piscotty/Pham trio could be great, but still has a lot to prove and Kolton Wong did not have his expected breakout last year.  The starting rotation is formidable if everyone is healthy, but the top 4 are all injuries waiting to happen and even Mike Leake had an elbow twinge last year, which I think is the biggest reason why the Giants lost interest.  Top prospect, RHP Alex Reyes, will start the season under a 50 game suspension, but could be ready to help by midseason.  The bullpen looks OK, but it's interesting they brought in a 30+ yo from Korea and immediately penciled him in as their setup man.  The Bench is strong.  The Cardinals will probably make the playoffs again, but it's not as sure a thing as in the recent past.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

DrB's 2016 NL Power Rankings: #6 Nationals

#6  Washington Nationals

Starting Position Players:  C Wilson Ramos, 1B Ryan Zimmerman, 2B Daniel Murphy, 3B Anthony Rendon, SS Danny Espinosa, LF  Jayson Werth, CF  Ben Revere, RF Bryce Harper.

Starting Rotation:  Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Joe Ross, Tanner Roark.

Bullpen:  Jonathan Papelbon, Aaron Barrett, Shawn Kelley, Yusmeiro Petit, Blake Treinen, AJ Cole, Oliver Perez.

Bench:  C Jose Lobatan, IF/OF Tyler Moore, IF  Stephen Drew, OF  Clint Robinson, OF  Michael Taylor.

Jordan Zimmermann is a big loss for this team, but they are hardly bereft of talent.  If you look at Strasburg's second half split from last year, it is not unreasonable to think the Nationals have the best 1,2 starter combo in MLB.  Combine that with Bryce Harper and that's a heckuva core to fill out a team around.  The back end of the rotation is iffy.  Blake Treinen and AJ Cole will challenge for rotation slots.  Uber prospect, Lucas Giolito, should be up by midseason.  The bullpen was weakened by the losses of Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard.  You have to laugh at the Nationals picking up Petit.  I bet 2014 was replaying in their minds when they did that deal!  I like the pickups of Revere and Murphy.  I don't expect Jayson Werth to have much left in the tank, but Michael Taylor is a comer.  Trea Turner should be the SS by midseason.  Ultimately, though, the season may come down to Rendon staying healthy, which is always dicey.  Like the Pirates, I think the Nationals will win more than 81 games, but will miss the postseason.

DrB's 2016 NL Power Rankings: #7 Pirates

#7 Pittsburgh Pirates

Starting Position Players:  C Francisco Cervelli, 1B John Jaso/Michael Morse, 2B Josh Harrison, 3B Jung-Ho Kang, SS  Jordy Mercer, LF Starling Marte, CF Andrew McCutchen, RF Gregory Polanco.

Starting Rotation:  Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Jeff Locke, Jonathan Niese, Ryan Vogelsong.

Bullpen:  Mark Melancon, Tony Watson, Jared Hughes, Arquimedes Caminero, Neftali Feliz, Juan Nicasio, Rob Scahill.

Bench:  C Chris Stewart, IF/OF Sean Rodriguez, IF Pedro Florimon, OF?

The Pirates may have the best OF in baseball and Giants fans need no convincing of Kang's ability to hit.  The rest of the IF looks a bit shaky.  The rotation after Liriano does not look like it belongs to a contending team, but the Pirates seem to know how to get the most out of mediocre starters.  Vogey is probably just a placeholder for Tyler Glasnow.  Jameson Taillon and his 100 MPH FB could be ready by midseason if he can stay healthy.  The top 4 in the bullpen are solid, but the last 3 are shaky.  The bench looks thin and is not helped by the platoon situation at 1B.  Look for Josh Bell to take over 1B before the season ends.

The Pirates have a solid, contending team, but I'm not sure they have the pitching to make the final top 6 in the playoffs, so they are #7.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

DrB's 2016 NL Power Rankings: #'s 9,8- Marlins, D'Backs

#9  Florida Marlins

Starting Position Players:  C JT Realmuto, 1B  Justin Bour, 2B  Dee Gordon, 3B Martin Prado, SS Adeny Hechaverria, LF Christian Yelich, CF Marcell Ozuna, RF  Giancarlo Stanton.

Starting Rotation:  Jose Fernandez, Wei-Yin Chen, Tom Koehler, Jared Cozart, Edwin Jackson.

Bullpen:  AJ Ramos, Carter Capps, Bryan Morris, Mike Dunn, Brad Hand, Kyle Barraclough

Bench:  C Jeff Mathis, IF Chris Johnson, IF Miguel Rojas, OF Ichiro Suzuki, IF/OF Derek Dietrich

The Marlins have put together a competitive team and could be better than that.  A postseason berth is not at all out of the question although it is still probably a longshot.  They need full healthy seasons out of Fernandez and Stanton and need Ozuna and Realmuto to take the next steps forward.  They also need a better 5'th starter than Edwin Jackson.  Look for Adam Conley or Justin Nicolino before the season gets too far along.  Ramos and Capps will battle for the closer's role, but they are as good a 1-2 as anybody's bullpen.

8.  Arizona Diamondbacks

Starting Position Players:  C Welington Castillo, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 2B Chris Owings, 3B  Jake Lamb, SS Jean Segura, LF David Peralta, CF AJ Pollack, RF Yasmany Tomas.

Starting Rotation:  Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller, Patrick Corbin, Rubby De La Rosa, Robbie Ray.

Bullpen:  Brad Zeigler, Tyler Clippard, Daniel Hudson, Josh Collmenter, Silvio Bracho, Enrique Burgos, Randall Delgado.

Bench:  C Tuffy Gosewich, IF Phil Gosselin, IF Nick Ahmed, OF Gabby Guerrero, IF Brandon Drury

The D'Backs definitely made themselves more competitive by adding Greinke to the top of the rotation.  They hurt themselves in the OF and lineup by trading Inciarte for Shelby Miller, who could end up being the 5'th best starter on the team.  They added some bullpen depth with Clippard but don't have a classic closer.  I would include Socrates Brito in the bench mix, but MLB does not have his name in the Depth Chart.  The key to the season for the D'Backs may be whether Yasmany Tomas can take it to the next level and live up to the size of his contract.  Personally, I would not bet on that.

Monday, February 22, 2016

2016 Spring Training Update: No News Is Good News

This early in spring training, the only news worth mentioning is generally bad, so it's good news that there is virtually no news out of the Giants camp so far.  The only pitcher not taking his regular turn throwing is Sergio Romo, which seems like pretty much a yearly occurrence. Nobody seems to be too worried about it.

The best news I've heard is about Tyler Beede coming to camp about 30 lbs heavier, reportedly from working out.  He wants to have more stamina this season which he clearly needed late last year.  That is pretty much it.

Word is that Angel Pagan is going to make the move to LF and will like it, because refusing to do so would hurt his FA stock next offseason.

Something we are not reading about in the Giants camp is Pablo Sandoval's weight, which also used to be a yearly occurrence.  There are some rather unflattering pictures of Sandoval on the internet from the Red Sox camp.  Now, over the offseason, multiple Red Sox officials were quoted as saying that Pablo had been asked to lose weight over the winter.  When asked about this upon his arrival at camp looking decidedly just has big or bigger than last year, Pabs just shrugged and said that was news to him.  As far as he knew nobody from the Red Sox had asked him to do anything.  Whew!

Oh, and the Dodgers signed Cuban RHP Yaisel Sierra for about $30 M.  %$&* the Dodgers!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

DrB's NL Power Rankings: #'s 15-10- Braves, Brewers, Reds, Phillies, Rockies, Padres

I was looking at the Cubs and Giants depth charts and mentally comparing them.  I decided, whattheheck?  I'll just do my own power ranking of all 15 NL Teams.  Now, the tough part of that is there are 6 teams who, IMO, have essentially no chance of making it to the postseason in 2016 which makes it pretty boring.   I'll do those 6 teams first.  BTW, the AL is a much more balanced league right now, not necessarily better, but more balanced.  So here are the NL teams starting from bottom to top( I am using the depth charts from the team websites):

#15.  Atlanta Braves

Projected Opening Day Roster:

Postion Starters:  C  AJ Pierzynski, 1B  Freddie Freeman, 2B  Jace Peterson,  3B  Adonis Garcia,  SS  Erick Aybar, LF  Hector Olivera, CF  Ender Inciarte, RF Nick Markakis.

Starting Rotation:  Julio Teheran, Bud Norris, Matt Wisler, Wiliams Perez, Mike Foltynewicz.

Bullpen:  Jason Grilli, Arodys Vizcaino, Manny Banuelos, ??????

Bench:  C Tyler Flowers, IF/OF Nick Swisher, OF Michael Bourn, IF Kelly Johnson, IF Gordon Beckham.

I guess AJP has a Ring to his name, but in 2016 it seems like any team that has him on their roster at all, let alone #1 on a depth chart is in a lot of trouble!  The Braves are at the bottom of a teardown.  Looks like they will build around Freddie Freeman.  Inciarte is a nice get from the D'Backs who should be just entering the peak of his career. Olivera is a big question mark.  Garcia at 3B could really surprise, but probably won't.  Aybar at SS  is a placeholder for Dansby Swanson or Ozhaino Albies.  Mallex Smith should get a chance to play before the season is over and they have a whole shipload of talented arms on the farm.  Look for Bourn and/or Swisher to be released before the year is out.  The Braves are building for the future, but 2016 will be pretty ugly.

#14.  Milwaukee Brewers

Projected Opening Day Roster:

Postion Starters:  C Jonathan Lucroy, 1B  Chris Carter,  2B  Scooter Gennett, 3B  Aaron Hill, SS  Jonathan Villar, LF  Rymer Liriano, CF  Domingo Santana, RF Ryan Braun.

Starting Rotation:  Wily Peralta, Jimmy Nelson, Taylor Jungmann, Matt Garza, Chase Anderson.

Bullpen:  Will Smith, Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel, Blazek, Thornburg, ???

Bench:  C Martin Maldonado, OF Kirk Niewenweiss, OF Keon Broxton, IF ?, IF ?

The Brewers are starting their own teardown and more shoes could drop by the trade deadline.  Lucroy is definitely at risk to be traded and the Brewers are probably praying Matt Garza shows enough to draw some interest at the deadline.  I kind of like Villar as a sleeper at SS, but he's a placeholder for Orlando Arcia who is their top prospect.

#13. Cincinnati Reds

Projected Opening Day Roster:

Position Starters:  C Devin Mesoraco, 1B Joey Votto, 2B  Brandon Phillips, 3B  Eduardo Suarez, SS  Zack Cozart, LF  Adam Duvall, CF  Billy Hamilton, RF  Jay Bruce.

Starting Rotation:  Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafini, Raisel Iglesias, John Lamb, Jon Moscot, Brandon Finnegan.

Bullpen:  John Hoover, Jumbo Diaz, Tony Cingrani, Mike Lorenzen, ????

Bench:  C Barnhart, IF Ivan DeJesus, OF Scott Schebler, OF  Tyler Holt, IF Jose Peraza?

Another team in the middle of teardown.  The Reds would love to burn it to the ground by trading Bruce and Phillips which would give starting gigs to Schebler and Peraza.  Bailey is coming off TJ surgery.  Lorenzen will be given a chance to compete for a rotation slot, but I expect him to lose out to Finnegan if Bailey is ready to go.  It will be interesting to see what Duvall does with a starting gig, especially in that park.

#12  Philadelphia Phillies

Projected Opening Day Roster:

Position Starters:  C Cameron Rupp, 1B Ryan Howard, 2B  Cesar Hernandez, 3B Maikel Franco, SS  Freddy Galvis, LF  Aaron Altherr, CF  Odubel Herrera, RF  Peter Bourjos.

Starting Rotation:  Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Aaron Nola, Jared Eickoff, Vincent Velasquez.

Bullpen:  David Hernandez, Brett Oberholtzer, ??????

Bench:  C Carlos Ruiz, IF/OF Darren Ruf, IF  Andres Blanco, OF Tyler Goeddel, IF/OF Cody Asche.

The Phillies lineup has several breakout prospects including Maikel Franco and a lot of folks are sleeping on Aaron Altherr.  Galvis is a placeholder for uber-prospect JP Crawford.  Cesar Hernandez  could steal 40-50 bases.  The other side of the coin is any starting rotation headed by Jeremy Hellickson is in a whole lot of trouble!  Nola is a former first round pick who could be a future #2 and Mark Appel could move up fast if he can ever get his sssstuff together.  Jared Eickoff is a big time sleeper.  The Bullpen was stripped to get more talent for the farm, but it will eventually pay off.  The #5 starter Velasquez came back in the Ken Giles trade and has a serious FB with the potential to become an ace starter.

#11  Colorado Rockies

Projected Opening Day Roster:

Position Starters:  C Nick Hundley, 1B Ben Paulsen, 2B DJ Lemahieu, 3B Nolan Arenado, SS  Jose Reyes, LF Gerardo Parra, CF Charlie Blackmon, RF Carlos Gonzalez.

Starting Rotation:  Jorge De La Rosa, Chad Bettis, Tyler Chatwood, Jordan Lyles, Jonathan Gray.

Bullpen:  Jason Motte, Chad Qualls, Jake McGee, Christian Bergman, Adam Ottavino(due back from injury mid-season).

Bench:  C Dustin Garneau or Tom Murphy, IF Mark Reynolds, IF Daniel Descalso, IF Christian Adames, OF Brandon Barnes.

This team will still score a lot of runs, especially in Coors Field, but it will take time to rebuild the rotation.  Jonathan Gray is the first of several hard throwing pitching prospects who will come online in the next year or two.  The Rockies main focus this offseason was building up the bullpen.  It will be interesting to see how much difference that makes.

#10  San Diego Padres

Projected Opening Day Roster:

Position Starters:  C Derek Norris, 1B Wil Myers, 2B Cory Spangenburg, 3B Yangervis Solarte, SS Alexei Ramirez, LF Jon Jay, CF Melvin Upton, Jr, RF Matt Kemp.

Starting Rotation:  Tyson Ross, James Shields, Andrew Cashner, Brandon Maurer, Carlos Villanueva.

Bullpen:  Fernando Rodney, Jon Edwards, Nick Vincent, Drew Pomeranz, Kevin Quackenbush, ??

Bench:  C Christian Betancourt, IF Brett Wallace, IF Alexei Amarista, OF Travis Jankowski, OF Alex Dickerson.

The Padres are caught in no-mans land after a crash rebuild from last offseason went bust.  They are outgunned at the MLB level but they stripped their farm system in the process.  It seems to me that Travis Jankowski should start in CF with Upton as the utility OF and liking it.  Overall, its kind of a nondescript, motley bunch.  The good news for Padres fans is they managed to stockpile something like 6 draft picks in the first 58 or so, but help from that is a few years away.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Jim Davenport RIP

If there ever was a Giant for life, it was Jim Davenport.  Make that a San Francisco Giant for life.  Jim Davenport's rookie season coincided with the Giants first season in San Francisco.  He was a slick fielding third baseman who might have been a bigger star if defensive metrics were tracked back in his day the way they are now.  He could hit, but was not a guy who was known for his hitting.  By the time I became aware of Major League Baseball and the Giants and started listening to games, Davenport had lost his starting 3B job to the stronger hitting Jim Ray Hart and was more of a utility player.  Still, he got in his share of games and I have fond memories of listening to Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons describe his exploits on the field.

There are two things I remember about Jim Davenport from those days:  1.  I've always equated him with a .250 batting average, because that is what he always seemed to be hitting, and in fact, that is very close to his career BA.  He did seem to get more than his share of clutch hits out of that rather mediocre BA, though.  2. Speaking of clutch, I remember a pre or postgame interview with Lon where Davenport attributed much of his ability to stick in the major leagues to his success against the Dodgers, especially in his rookie season.  I looked up his team splits in B-R an sure enough, he hit 17 of his 77 career HR's against the Dodgers.

Jim Davenport went on to become a coach and minor league manager in the Giants system.  He was named manager for the 1985 season by his old teammate turned GM Tom Haller.  Unfortunately, the Giants hit rock bottom in 1985 and both Haller and Davenport got axed in an organizational housecleaning late that season.  Al Rosen and Roger Craig turned the Giants around, but in fairness, some of their success was due to players acquired while Haller was the GM including Will Clark.  At the time of their firings, it was whispered that Davenport was maybe too nice to manage a major league team and maybe Haller was too cozy with his cronies from his playing days.

Jim Davenport continued to work in various capacities for the Giants over the years and was a fixture at spring training.  It is ironic that he died on the first day of spring training this year.  Jim Davenport, Good Giant!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Hot Stove Update: Comparing the Offseasons of the NL West Teams

Here is my review and breakdown of the offseasons for each of the NL West Teams:


While Zack Greinke's opt out clause should have been an ominous sign for the Dodgers offseason, I think most Dodgers fans and most analysts of the MLB scene expected the Dodgers to simply pull out their checkbook, tell Greinke to write in whatever he wanted for an extension and go on like nothing had happened.  It was not to be.  The longer it dragged on, the more you got the feeling Greinke was not going to be a Dodger in 2016.  He did not sign with the Giants either, but he did sign with a division rival, the D'Backs, in one of the more disastrous free agent losses for any team in history.

The Dodgers scrambled while the offseason seemed to go from bad to worse.  They signed RHP Hisashi Iwakuma only to have the deal fall apart after his physical.  They were within minutes of making a trade for LHP Aroldis Chapman only to have that deal blow up when a police report of domestic violence came to light.

The Dodgers got their ship stabilized and ended up on some better notes, but did not come close to doing anything likely to overcome the loss of Zack Greinke.  In summary:

Losses:  Greinke, SS Jimmy Rollins.

Gains:  LHP Scott Kazmir, RHP Kenta Maeda.

Returning Free Agents:  LHP Brett Anderson(accepted QO),  2B Howie Kendrick.

Final Grade:  D.   The way I see it, the Dodgers still have a strong team, and could still be favorites to win the NL West, but this was a disastrous offseason!  They lost their co-ace to a division rival and replaced him with a guy(Kazmir) who has never really put a full good season together and a Japanese pitcher who might be good until he's faced opposing teams once or twice, but whose comps most closely resemble pitchers who did not make a successful transition to MLB baseball.


The D'Backs spent a shipload of money to pry RHP Zack Greinke away from the Dodgers and Giants, then sent a shipload of prospects to the Braves for RHP Shelby Miller.  They also added SS Jean Segura in another dubious trade and RHP Tyler Clippard as a free agent.  Did they get enough better to challenge the Giants and Dodgers in the NL West?  Probably not, and this offseason is not going to age well for them.  In summary:

Losses:  OF Ender Inciarte, SS Dansby Swanson(prospect), 2B Aaron Hill, RHP Aaron Blair(Prospect), OF Isan Diaz(prospect).

Gains:  Grienke, Miller, Clippard, Segura.

Retained FA's: None.

Final Grade:  C.  Getting Greinke was a major coup, but even his deal is unlikely to age well.  Inciarte alone would have been too much to give up for Miller and Swanson will make the D'Backs regret that trade much sooner than later.


The Padres were the D'Backs of last year as their new GM, AJ Preller traded away the farm in an effort to jumpstart the Padres fortunes.  It did not work out and they were faced with an offseason in which their only acquisition to play up to his cost, was now a FA.  They Padres lost OF Justin Upton and gained virtually nobody.  AJ was still busy trading, though.  In summary:

Losses:  Upton, RHP Ian Kennedy, RHP Joaquin Benoit, RHP Craig Kimbrel, 1B Yonder Alonso, 2B Jedd Gyorko, RHP Odrisamer Despaigne, OF Rymer Liriano(Prospect).

Gains:  SS Alexei Ramirez, RHP Fernando Rodney, LHP Drew Pomeranz, OF John Jay.

Final Grade:  D+.  Some of those losses are addition by subtraction and Upton and Kimbrel were always rentals.  They actually got a nice package of prospects back for Kimbrel.  Still it's hard to see how this offseason helps much now or in the long run.  The Padres will pay for the grandiosity of last offseason for a long time.


The Rockies have never figured out how to build and maintain a pitching staff that can survive Coors Field and they seem as lost as ever.  Their main additions this winter are in the bullpen, so maybe that is the key?  Seems unlikely.  In Summary:

Losses:  OF Corey Dickerson, LHP Rex Brothers, RHP Tommy Kahnle, 1B Justin Morneau, RHP Kyle Kendrick, RHP John Axford, C/1B/DH Wilin Rosario.

Gains:  LHP Jake McGee, OF Gerardo Parra, 1B Mark Reynolds, RHP Jason Motte, RHP Chad Qualls.

Final Grade:  D.  I liked the trade for McGee, but not much else makes sense here.  The Rockies are the same old team they have always been.  Mashers on offense, mediocre on D and terrible pitching.


I've already broken down the Giants offseason and given them a letter grade of A-.  Here's the summary:

Losses:  RHP Tim Hudson, RHP Tim Lincecum, RHP Ryan Vogelsong, OF Marlon Byrd, OF Nori Aoki, RHP Mike Leake.

Gains:  RHP Johnny Cueto, RHP Jeff Samardzija, OF Denard Span.

Byrd and Leake were rentals.  Hudson and Lincecum were non-factors by the end of the season.  Vogey is getting very long in the tooth.  As we have said, there are risks to the acquisitions, but a high probability that all 3 will be big upgrades.

So, the Giants are hands down winners of the offseason in the NL West.  The only question is whether their gains coupled with the Dodgers losses are enough propel the Giants past the Dodgers to the NL West title.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Spring Training Open Post

Pitchers and Catchers report today, always a major symbolic day in the yearly baseball cycle, but one in which not much happens.  We've completed the prospect lists and graded the offseason.  I thought we would celebrate with an open post.  Feel free to ask questions or post a comment about anything baseball related.  We'll see where it takes us.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Hot Stove Update: Grading the Offseason

As we all know, offseason grades don't mean a whole lot.  Last year, a lot of people thought the Red Sox and Padres were the offseason winners and look where they ended up.  As I like to say, there is a reason why they play the games.  Having said that, it's almost as fun to assign a letter grade or a score to something as it is to make a list, so I'll take a stab at grading the Giants 2016 offseason.

Offseason success means different things to different teams.  Some teams need to spend money on top players to fill needs and compete for a championship.  Some teams need to unload expensive contracts which may be preventing upgrades in multiple areas.  Other teams may need to acquire prospects with the aim of rebuilding for the long term.  This year, the Giants had a somewhat unique situation in that they had some very specific needs for dramatic upgrades in the Starting Rotation and Outfield while at the same time having the financial muscle to make it happen, a perfect storm of opportunity and resources, if you will.

Specifically, the Giants had to replace the retiring Tim Hudson in the rotation, but even after replacing Hudson, they still would have had a 3,4,5 of Jake Peavy, Matt Cain and Chris Heston.  If the Giants want to seriously compete with the Dodgers in the NL West, they could not go into the season with 3 of their 5 starting pitchers with the health and performance question marks of those 3 starters.  They had to land at least 2 SP's who could reasonably be counted as at least #3 starters.  There was also the OF to  address with potential upgrades in CF where Angel Pagan was coming off a terrible, injury plagued season and while his only potential backup was also penciled in as the starting LF.  The Giants had to either land a LF who could free up Gregor Blanco to either start in CF or be available for reserve duty or else land a clear upgrade in CF.  While a lot of Giants fans were hoping for either David Price or Zack Greinke, the ultimate price for those pitchers would probably have made acquiring the other two pieces impossible.  What the Giants were able to do was take slightly more total money than Greinke or Price got and fill all 3 of their essential needs instead of just 1.

Nothing is free, though and there is a reason why the Giants were able to acquire these 3 players for just a little more than what just 1 elite players would cost.  If Johnny Cueto had not struggled after his trade to KC, he would have commanded a payday darn close to what Price and Greinke landed.  If Samardzija had not struggled after being traded to the White Sox, his price would have been closer to the $130 M that Cueto got instead of the $90 M the Giants paid.  Span, of course, was coming off hip surgery which is always an anxiety inducing situation.  The Giants appear to have done their homework in each of these cases with very reasonable theories of why they are likely to bounceback.  If the Giants are right, they got 3 absolute bargains, albeit at a very expensive total cost.  If they are wrong, it will end up being a very expensive mistake.

One big drawback to a team spending a quarter of a billion, yes, billion dollars in one offseason is it may take away payroll flexibility in the future.  Amazingly, this is not the case with the Giants as they have approximately another $25 M in expiring contracts after this season then have Matt Cain followed by Hunter Pence's contracts expiring in 2017 and 2018 respectively.  In addition, it is unlikely that the Giants will have major needs on the FA market next offseason or even after the 2017 season.

Another downside to the Giants offseason acquisitions is the loss of their 2016 first round draft choice.  I generally hate to lose any first round draft pick, but the Giants currently have a very deep farm system which can withstand 1 year of a lost first rounder.  The Giants also seem to have become more adept in recent year at finding future impact MLB players in later draft rounds, which makes keeping the first rounder less crucial.  In this case, I think it is reasonable to regard the lost draft pick as preferable to trading 2 or 3 current prospects for a veteran player, which I think we all would have been OK with.

In Summary, I will dock the Giants a half letter grade for the risk factor in the FA signings and for the lost draft pick combined for a final grade of A-.  Nice work by GM Bobby Evans and the entire Giants management team!

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Dominican Dandies

I am more excited about this year's crop of DSL graduates than I can recall.  It's a really deep list with a lot of upside.


Manuel Geraldo, SS/2B.  B-S, T-R.  DOB:  9/23/1996.  6'1", 170 lbs.

.328/.383/.431, 11 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 18 SB, 21 BB, 45 K, 274 AB.

For some reason, Geraldo's stats don't come up on Fangraphs, so I don't have the BB and K percentages, but they are approximately 6.8 and 15 respectively.  Geraldo had a strong second half in his age 17 season on 2014 which I thought would be enough to get him to Arizona.  The Giants chose to have him repeat the DSL and he stayed hot all season.  He's definitely be in the States this year, most likely in extended spring training then the AZL.  Tremendous MI prospect, IMO.


Victor Concepcion, RHP.  DOB:  11/23/1996.  6'0", 170 lbs.

6-0, 0.42, 43 IP, 9.42 K/9, 1.47 BB/9, GO/AO= 0.79.

Another kid who was probably ready for Arizona in 2015, but was held back, probably to gain strength.  Excited to see him in Arizona in 2016.


Sandro Cabrera, LHP.  DOB:  6/22/1995.  6'2", 175 lbs.

6-2, 2.32, 77.2 IP, 9.97 K/9, 3.01 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.33.

Fairly tall, thin LHP who looks like he can fill out his frame.  A bit older when he signed.  He was in Arizona for instructionals, so I think we will see him in the AZL this year.


Melvin Adon, RHP.  DOB:  6/9/1994.  6'3", 195 lbs.

4-0, 2.48, 69 IP, 7.04 K/9, 2.74 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.48.

Another older signee who was in Arizona for instructionals.  Seems to have a high ceiling despite being older for his level.


Francisco Medina, 3B.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  3/20/1998.  6'1", 165 lbs.

.243/.307/.385, 7 HR, 5.0 BB%, 23.1 K%, 238 PA.

I don't recall any Giants prospect hitting as many as 7 dingers in the DSL before.  Young enough that the Giants might keep him down there for another season to work on his plate discipline and contact.


Sandro Fabian, OF.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  3/6/1998.  6'1", 180 lbs.

.269/.348/.364, 3 HR, 2 SB, 5.2 BB%, 16.4 K%, 286 PA.

Strong season for a 17 yo.  He might repeat the DSL while he gains strength.


Mecky Coronado, C/DH/OF.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  12/13/1996.  6'0", 180 lbs.

.340/.398/.440, 13 2B, 2 HR, 8.3 BB%, 13.4 K%, 216 PA.

No question this kid has the hit tool.  He just needs to find a place to play in the field.  We should see him in Arizona in 2016.


Jesus Tona, C.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  3/30/1996.  5'10", 170 lbs.

.313/.450/.500, 3 HR, 4 SB, 18.3 BB%, 14.6 K%, 82 PA's.

A bit older than your ideal DSL prospect, but so was Miguel Gomez.  Gotta love those numbers.  Will he come to the States or will the Giants want him to get more PA's in the DSL?


Beicker Mendoza, OF.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  2/14/1998.  6'2", 185 lbs.

.300/.354/.383, 10 2B, HR, 4 SB, 6.1 BB%, 19.2 K%, 198 PA.

Came on strong in the second half of 2015.  Like the size.  Not sure if he'll graduate to Arizona.


Jose Patino, OF.  B-S, T-R.  DOB:  12/11/1997.  6'0", 160 lbs.

.249/.324/.282, 6 2B, 19 SB, 7.2 BB%, 20.7 K%, 208 PA.

Speedy CF type.  Giants have tended to take things slower with DSL graduations of late and with some success.  I'll guess Patino stays put for 2016.


Jose Rivero, SS.  B-L, T-R.  DOB:  4/30/1998.  5'11", 158 lbs.

.204/.299/.263, 6 SB, 11.5 BB%, 21.7 K%, 157 PA.

Promising looking SS prospect.  Probably needs another year of seasoning in the DSL.


Brayan De Pena, OF/1B.  B-L, T-L.  DOB:  11/19/1997.  6'4", 195 lbs.

.185/.267/.278, 8.3 BB%, 36.7 K%, 60 PA.

Tremendous power potential.  Will probably end up at 1B sooner than later.  Would clearly benefit from more PT in the DSL before exposing him to the rigors of stateside play.


Hengerber Medina, RHP.  DOB:  10/12/1994.  5'11", 160 lbs.

3-3, 1.49, 36.1 IP, 12.63 K/9, 3.72 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.13.

Converted SS whose bat turned into cooked spaghetti noodles.  Sparkling numbers as a reliever.  This guy has to make it for his name if nothing else.  I am very much hoping to see him in the AZL boxscores this year.


Juan Rodriguez, OF.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  8/29/1994.  6'0", 175 lbs.

.363/.397/.512, 17 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 19 SB, 5.7 BB%, 9.6 K%, 229 PA.

Another older prospect who put up tremendous numbers.  In the old days, you could write these guys off, but more recently we've seen a few come to the States and do well.  Bring him up!


Luis Amaya, LHP.  DOB:  8/26/1998.  5'11", 160 lbs.

4-1, 1.77, 45.2 IP, 9.85 K/9, 4.73 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.05, 6 Saves.

Amaya's DOB is in that sweet spot that enabled him to play all of last season at age 16.  The Giants limited his IP by keeping him in the bullpen and he put up great numbers.  I'll guess the Giants take is slow with him and keep him in the DSL for 2016 at age 17, possibly moving him into a SP role.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part IX

OK, we'll wrap up the HM's with this post.


Kleiber Rivas, C.  B-L, T-R.  DOB:  6/22/1995.  5'11", 200 lbs.

R:  .273/.359/.394, HR, 9.8 BB%, 9.8 K%, 41 PA.

Rivas has always seemed to hit well when he's played, but he's only had a total of 247 PA's in 4 professional seasons.  It's pretty hard to get traction on your career at that pace.  I'd love to see what he could do in a full season of playing time.


Cody Brickhouse, 3B.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  12/23/1996.  6'3", 210 lbs.

R:  .208/.358/.245, 19.1 BB%, 27.1%, 68 PA.

Brickhouse was a HS catcher drafted in the 15'th round.  He played 3B in the few games in which he appeared in Arizona and is now listed on his bio page as a 3B.  Very SSS to go on here, but it looks like his inclination is to be a 3 true outcomes guy.  Love the size.


Kevin Rivera, 2B.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  6/12/1996.  5'11", 170 lbs.

R:  .292/.330/.393, 4.3 BB%, 19.1 K%, 94 PA.
SS:  .188/.235/.188, 5.9 BB%, 11.8 K%, 17 PA.

Big improvement in his AZL numbers from last season.  Extremely SSS in S-K.  Had to fight for PT in a crowded MI situation in the Giants lower minors.


Nathanael Javier, 3B.  B-R, T-R.  10/10/1995.  6'3", 185 lbs.

R:  .183/.202/.242, HR, SB, 1.6 BB%, 27.6 K%, 124 PA.

It's OK to sacrifice walks for contact, but if you don't walk and are also striking out a lot, that is no bueno.  Between injuries and suspensions, it seems like Javier's pro career is off the tracks and he needs to find a way to get it back on track.


Hector Santiago, SS.  B-R, T-R.  11/18/1997.  6'2", 180 lbs.

R:  .048/.130/.048, 8.7 BB%, 60.9 K%, 23 PA.

I included Santiago in the HM list mainly on the strength of his 12'th round draft slot.  As you can see, he was overwhelmed in his pro debut, but he did not turn 18 yo until after the season.  Love the size for a SS.


Trevor Brown, C.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  11/15/1991.  6'2", 195 lbs.

AAA:  .261/.319/.343, 17 2B, 2 HR, 6.7 BB%, 16.9 K%, 314 PA.
MLB:  .231/.279/.308, 7.0 BB%, 18.6 K%, 43 PA.

Hard to know what to make of Trevor Brown.  He was about as far under the radar as you can get until he suddenly showed up in AT&T Park after rosters were expanded in September and ended up as the #2 catcher on the depth chart.  He seemed particularly agile behind the plate and seemed to handle MLB pitchers like a veteran.  6 of his 9 hits came in a 3 game stretch, though.  It is unclear what his role will be if Susac is fully healthy this spring and even more unclear after the Giants added veterans George Kottaras and Miguel Olivo to the spring training roster.  Anyway, here he is.  I don't feel like he is a top 50 prospect, so I put him here in the HM list, which is in no particular order.



John Riley, 1B.  B-R, T-R.  2/14/1994.  6'0", 210 lbs.

Low A:  .207/.301/.311, HR, 9.7 BB%, 34.8 K%, 155 PA.
SS:  .246/.364/.377, 5 HR, 14.4 BB%, 28.4 K%, 229 PA.

Riley was a late round pick out of HS in 2013.  The Giants gave him a large signing bonus to keep him from college.  I think he has family connections to the Giants through Dave Righetti.  He's struggled to make contact in pro ball, but then just went off in August with a .320/.433/.520 line.  He's starting to get a bit long in the tooth for his level of play, but they say power hitters tend to develop late.  It looks like K rates are always going to be in issue for him, but the power potential is there.


We'll try to get the Dominican Dandies wrapped up tomorrow.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part VIII

Byron Murray, OF.  B-R, T-R.  7/26/1995.  5'10", 195 lbs.

R:  .272/.315/.461, 19 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 8 SB, 4.6 BB%, 19.3 K%, 197 PA.
SS:  .087/.125/.174, 4.2 BB%, 29.2 K%, 24 PA.

Not sure if he can catch or throw, but those numbers show hit, power, speed.  Those are serious numbers projected to 600 PA's.  The logical place for him to start next season is Augusta which will be a big challenge.


Jean Angomas, OF.  B-L, T-R.  DOB:  6/5/1995.  6'0", 170 lbs.

R:  .261/.317/.342, HR, 7.4 BB%, 9.9 K%, 121 PA.

Angomas' lines don't look to impressive except for his K% which he has kept below 10% in 3 pro seasons which is enough to make you not give up on him.  Fun factoid:  He is Edwin Encarnacion's cousin.


Jose Morel RHP.  DOB:  9/6/1993.  6'2", 190 lbs.

R:  5-1, 1.91, 33 IP, 7.64 K/9, 3.00 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.75, 1 Save.

Morel spent 3 seasons in the DSL despite pitching very well the last 2.  Pitched well in Arizona last year and should move up to Augusta for 2016.


Matthew Pope, RHP.  DOB:  7/5/1994, 6'6", 225 lbs.

R:  0-2, 4.91, 18.1 IP, 10.31 K/9, 4.91 BB/9, GO/AO= 0.94, 2 Saves.

JC draftee.  The first thing you notice is his size.  His numbers suggest that he's a power pitcher.  Giants love to draft and develop their power relievers.


Stetson Woods, RHP.  DOB:  1/15/1995.  6'8", 200 lbs.

R:  1-0, 6.00, 18 IP, 8.50 K/9, 7.00 BB/9, GO/AO= 0.89.

Big regression for a kid who looked so good in his pro debut last year.  He turned 21 yo in January?  Yikes!

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part VII

Dylan Davis, OF.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  7/20/1993.  6'0", 200 lbs.

A+:  .206/.295/.318, 3 HR, 11.5 BB%, 23.0 K%, 122 PA.
Low A:  .250/.322/.406, 9 HR, 9.8 BB%, 26.5 K%, 287 PA.

3 true outcomes hitter which does not necessarily get you a lot of love in the Giants organization.  Washed out of San Jose and seemed to find a floor in Augusta.  Does he get another crack at San Jose in 2016?  There is still the arm that can hit 97 MPH in his back pocket too.


Cristian Paulino, 2B/OF.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  9/4/1991.  5'10", 168 lbs.

Low A:  .299/.371/.467, 13 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 19 SB, 7.0 BB%, 20.9 K%, 187 PA.

Paulino has always had the tools.  I am not sure if injuries or poor fielding held him back from more playing time, but those numbers projected to 600 PA are quite tasty indeed.  Needs 500 PA's at a higher level to move into serious prospect territory, but the numbers suggest it's doable.


Grant Watson, LHP.  DOB:  7/2/1993.  6'0", 185 lbs.

R:  2-0, 0.68, 26.2 IP, 10.13 K/9, 1.01 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.50.
SS:  0-1, 4.50, 10 IP, 9.00 K/9, 4.50 BB/9, GO/AO= 5.00.

Senior draftee out of UCLA.  Way too advanced for rookie ball.  Not as effective albeit in an extremely SSS at the more age appropriate level.  He's a guy I liked in college, though and hope he gets his chances.


Fernando Pujadas, C.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  1/2/1992.  6'1", 180 lbs.

SS:  .275/.330/.386, 10 2B, 3 HR, 5.9 BB%, 21.3 K%, 188 PA.

Pujadas has been kicking around the lower minors seemingly forever.  Can he move up to higher levels and find some traction on his career?


Julio Pena, OF.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  12/13/1992.  6'0", 185 lbs.

SS:  .234/.274/.416, 6 HR, 4.1 BB%, 39.2 K%, 148 PA.

That is a pretty frightening K rate even for a 3 true outcomes guy and Pena doesn't draw walks.  No bueno, but the power make him somewhat interesting.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part VI

Brian Ragira, DH/1B.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  1/22/1992.  6'2", 185 lbs.

A+:  .251/.319/.391, 23 2B, 10 HR, 7.6 BB%, 24.9 K%, 434 PA.

Ragira looks incredibly athletic, yet spent last year mostly DH'ing for San Jose.  On top of that, his offensive numbers regressed at the same level from 2014.  Not a good place for him to be.


Angel Villalona, 1B.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  8/13/1990.  6'3", 257 lbs.

AA:  .143/.180/.179, 61 PA.
A+:  .249/.334/.447, 13 HR, 9.6 BB%, 21.8 K%, 293 PA.

His listed weight is a conservative estimate.  It's hard to make Pablo Sandoval look like he is in great shape, but that 's exactly what Villalona did when I got a couple of looks at him in the Cal League last season. The K and BB numbers have improved, albeit in his umpteenth try at high A ball.  His career is not going anywhere until he drops some weight and gets in better shape.


Tyler Cyr, RHP.  DOB:  5/5/1993.  6'3", 2015 lbs.

Rookie AZL:  0-1, 2.25, 4 IP, 15.75 K/9, 2.25 BB/9, GO/AO= 5.00.
Low A:  2-1, 5.60, 17.2 IP, 10.19 K/9, 2.93 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.83.

The ERA in Augusta is obviously a SSS BABIP job as the peripherals look great.  Cyr could be a fast moving relief prospect.


Dusten Knight, RHP.  DOB:  9/7/1990.  6'0", 180 lbs.

Low A:  7-3, 2.69, 73.2 IP, 10.51 K/9, 2.93 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.11, 3 Saves.

Old for the level but nice numbers.


Eury Sanchez, RHP.  DOB:  11/8/1992.  5'10", 170 lbs.

Rookie AZL:  2-1, 1.04, 8.2 IP, 13.50 K/9, 2.08 BB/9, GO/AO= 0.86, 2 Saves.
Low A:  1-2, 3.20, 19.2 IP, 10.53 K/9, 4.12 BB/9, GO/AO= 0.70.

Small righty whose numbers look like he throws hard.  May have gotten a late start on 2015 due to injury?

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part V

Carlos Diaz, LHP.  DOB:  11/18/1993.  6'2", 176 lbs.

Low A:  4-3, 1.63, 55.1 IP, 12.20 K/9, 2.77 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.42, 5 Saves.

Diaz has been hanging around in the low minors seemingly forever.  Had a great season out of the bullpen for Augusta.  Can this be a spring board to success at higher levels?


Tyler Rogers, RHP.  DOB:  12/17/1990.  6'4", 190 lbs.

A+:  5-1, 1.47, 79.1 IP, 9.76 K/9, 2.27 BB/9, GO/AO= 2.69, 1 Save.
AA:  0-1, 5.91, 10.2 IP, 12.66 K/9, 4.22 BB/9, GO/AO= 0.36.

Sidearmer with a high K rate to go with the great GB rate.  Good chance for a MLB career as a reliever.


Ty Ross, C.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  1/17/1992.  6'2", 210 lbs.

A+:  .244/.303/.332, 15 2B, 3 HR, 7.9 BB%, 21.5 K%.

Defensive catcher who might learn to hit.


Seth Harrison, OF.  B-R, T-R.  7/22/1992.  6'1", 195 lbs.

Low A:  .253/.301/.356, 6 SB, 6.3 BB%, 18.9 K%.
A+:  .212/.268/.307, 4 HR, 13 SB, 5.3 BB%, 27.2 K%.

Has some speed, but not a whole lot else going for him right now.


Tyler Horan, OF.  B-L, T-R.  DOB:  12/2/1990.  6'2", 230 lbs.

A+:  .215/.311/.392, 20 2B, 13 HR, 5 SB, 11.9 BB%, 24.6 K%, BABIP= .256, 396 PA.

Injuries may have played a role in a tough season after showing a nice combination of average and power in his first full pro campaign in 2014.  Can he rebound in 2016?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part IV

Jack Snodgrass, LHP.  DOB:  12/10/1987.  6'6", 220 lbs.

AA:  4-3, 4.14, 50 IP, 4.86 K/9, 3.60 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.41.
AAA:  1-2, 4.84, 22.1 IP, 8.06 K/9, 4.84 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.09.

Fringy prospect who has slowly worked his way up to AAA.  Might be best as a lefty specialist reliever.


Daniel Carbonell, OF.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  3/29/1991.  6'3", 196 lbs.

AA:  .146/.173/.194, HR, 9 SB, 1.9 BB%, 24.8 K%, 214 PA.
A+:  .279/.327/.419, 6 HR, 9 SB, 4.6 BB%, 18.1 K%, 282 PA.

Carbonell completely washed out of AA, but got his feet back under him in San Jose.  By the end of the season, he might have been the second best hitter on the team after Christian Arroyo.  Will he do better in AA this year?


Hak-Ju Lee, SS.  B-L, T-R.  DOB:  11/4/1990.  6'2", 170 lbs.

AAA(Rays):  .220/.303/.304, 3 HR, 20 SB, 9.7 BB%, 29.2 K%, 360 PA.

Lee was once one of the top prospects in the game.  Injuries contributed to his declining fortunes, but his approach is a problem too and it is related to the organization he was playing in.  As you can see, he's been trying to be a 3-true outcomes type hitter, an approach probably insisted on by the Rays management.  The problem is that approach does not work if you don't produce all 3 outcomes and Lee has no power to speak of.  Now that the Giants signed him as a minor league FA, he is in an organization that will foster an approach that fits his tool profile better, but will changing his approach that dramatically work at this late stage of the game?  Very interesting storyline for this season!


Phil McCormick, LHP.  DOB:  9/7/1988.  6'1", 184 lbs.

AA:  4-3, 2.04, 57.1 IP, 5.97 K/9, 3.30 BB/9, GO/AO= 2.33.
AFL:  0-0, 4.15, 8.2 IP, 6.23 K/9, 4.15 BB/9.

Makes up for a low K rate with an elite GB ratio.  Has been a lefty reliever who could go more than 1 inning.  He could continue on that path, become more of a lefty specialist or even start.  Fringy prospect, though.


Ricky Oropesa, 1B.  B-L, T-R.  DOB:  12/15/1989.  6'3", 225 lbs.

AA:  .254/.311/.424, 24 2B, 17 HR, 7.6 BB%, 25.7 K%, 499 PA.

Most of Ricky's HR's came during two hot streaks, but he ended the season tied for the 4'th most HR's among qualified hitters in the EL and 14'th in OPS.  Here's hoping he gets a chance to show what he can do in the PCL this year.  For those of you an social media, there's a video out there of Ricky taking batting practice in a batting cage with Matt Duffy looking on from the side.  If you see it, I think you will agree that Ricky really does look like he is in the best shape of his life.

Hot Stove Update: A's Get Khris Davis in Trade

The A's made a last minute trade before the start of spring training, acquiring OF Khris Davis from the Milwaukee Brewers for catching prospect Jacob Nottingham and pitching prospect Bubby Derby.  Here's a quick breakdown of the players involved:

Khris Davis, OF.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  12/21/1987.  5'11", 190 lbs.

2015:  .247/.323/.505, 27 HR, 6 SB, 10.0 BB%, 27.7 K%, 440 PA.

Davis is a 3-true outcomes hitter of the type Billy Beane loves.  He gives the A's some much needed pop in their lineup.  He's not much of a fielder, but Billy seems to have lost interest in defensive metrics of late.  The concern with Davis coming to Oakland is he racked up those 27 dingers in a fairly extreme hitter's park and he's not worth much without the dingerz.   His contract is controlled for the next 4 seasons.

Jacob Nottingham, C.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  4/3/1995.  6'3", 200 lbs.

Low A(Astros):  .326/.387/.543, 18 2B, 10 HR, 7.1 BB%, 20.2 K%, 253 PA.
A+(Astros):  .324/.368/.606, 6 2B, 4 HR, 3.9 BB%, 13.2 K%, 76 PA.
A+(A's):  .299/.352/.409, 9 2B, 3 HR, 6.6 BB%, 20.9 K%, 182 PA.

Nottingham is from my hometown of Redlands, CA.  He had a breakout season at the plate in 2015.  The rap is he may not stick as a catcher, but if he can keep the bat going, it's good enough to play even at 1B.  He gives the Brewers a potential longterm replacement for Jonathan Lucroy.

Bowdien "Bubby" Derby, RHP.  2/24/1994.  5'10", 180 lbs.

R:  0-1, 6.75, 2.2 IP, 6.75 K/9, 0 BB/9.
SS:  1-0, 0.78, 34.2 IP, 11.68 K/9, 2.60 BB/9.

Drafted out of San Diego St.  Nice pro debut but has a way to go.  Relatively low ceiling.

Overall, this trade meets the needs of both teams.  I will give both solid B's on the deal.

In other Hot Stove news, Mets RHP Jenrry Mejia drew a lifetime suspension for his 3'rd PED bust.  He continues to insist that he is as surprised as anyone and has no idea how the + pee test happened.  Gotta wonder about the mental health of a guy in that situation.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part III

Luis Pino, RHP.  DOB:  11/4/1994.  6'0", 175 lbs.

Rookie AZL:  2-1, 2.89, 18.2 IP, 9.16 K/9, 1.93 BB/9, GO/AO= 0.85.
Short Season:  4-1, 1.43, 44 IP, 4.09 K/9, 2.86 BB/9, GO/AO= 0.95.

The K rate kind of cratered after his promotion to S-K.  Is that a sample size thing?  We'll see where he turns up this year.


Tyler Brown, 2B.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  1/15/1995.  6'1", 180 lbs.

Rookie AZL:  .356/.422/.540, 9 2B, 2 3B, HR, 3 SB, 6.9 BB%, 16.7 K%, 102 PA.

Drafted out of the same JC as Phil Bickford.  He was a bit old for the AZL, but many 4 year college draftees do worse.  I'd guess we see him in Augusta this year and we'll get to see what he's really made of.


Dillon Dobson, 1B.  B-L, T-R.  DOB:  8/21/1993.  6'1", 220 lbs.

Rookie AZL:  .297/.347/.475, 15 2B, 6 3B, 3 HR, 2 SB, 6.8 BB%, 20.3 K%, 222 PA.
Short Season:  .182/.217/.273, 4.2 BB%, 16.7 K%, 24 PA.

Drafted as a 2B, but moved to 1B.  Way old for Rookie ball.  Expect to see him in Augusta in 2016 which will be the big challenge.


Kendry Melo, RHP.  DOB:  1/7/1994.  6'3", 210 lbs.

Rookie AZL:  2-0, 4.15, 30.1 IP, 12.76 K/9, 4.45 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.13.

Melo is a big kid who throws hard but had a wild hair up his nose.  He lowered his BB/9 from 10.50 in 2014 to 4.45 in 2015.  The Giants may try to make him a starter once he has a harness on that FB.


Dylan Brooks, RHP.  DOB:  8/20/1995.  6'7", 230 lbs.

Rookie AZL:  1-2, 2.25 ERA, 32 IP, 7.59 K/9, 2.81 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.79, 3 Saves.

Nice numbers after coming off a 50 game suspension.  Unfortunately, we get news that he has tested positive again this offseason and has to serve another 50 gamer.  I would say that does not bode well for his future.  No matter what you think of MJ laws, the rules are the rules and he knows consequences.  You get caught once, you get the benefit of the doubt.  Get caught again, and you might have a serious attitude or mental health issue.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Thoughts on Tim Lincecum

It is quite amazing that after the Giants made commitments totally a quarter of a billion dollars to just 3 free agents over the winter, the player everybody seems most interested in is one who has not played consistently well for several seasons, is a free agent and has yet to receive an offer of any kind.  That would be Tim Lincecum, whose hold on the imaginations of Giants fans is truly extraordinary.  I have lived through the end of careers for Willie Mays, Juan Marichal, Will Clark and Barry Bonds.  None of those transitions caused the kind of mourning and angst among my fellow Giants fans as what we are seeing with Tim Lincecum who also is known as Timmy, The Franchise, The Freak and maybe several other affectionate nicknames.

There have been a handful of watershed moments in the history of the Giants franchise going all the way back to New York.  It probably all began with the signing of Christy Mathewson, a college educated player in an era where the vast majority of players were little more than ruffians.  Then came the signing of Willie Mays ushering in an era that lasted for 20 years.  After close to 10 years of mediocrity and despair following the trading of Mays, came the drafting of Will Clark and an era when many readers here became Giants fans for life.  That was followed shortly by the signing of Barry Bonds as a free agent and the whole Bonds era which included the building of the current ballpark.  Then there was the drafting of Tim Lincecum after a brief but painful downturn as the Bonds era drew to a close.

Tim Lincecum was the most electrifying pitcher in college baseball in 2006, a year of unusually great college pitching, especially on the west coast and especially in the Pac 10.  His Friday night battles with the likes of Brandon Morrow, Ian Kennedy, Greg Reynolds and David Huff are legendary to this day.  Yet, 9 teams passed on him in the draft due to his diminutive size and unorthodox delivery.  The Giants scouting staff led by Dick Tidrow did their homework and grabbed him at #10 and with little concealed glee.  That selection was every bit as electrifying for the Giants organization and its fanbase as Timmy's junior season in college.  Even the Giants players, only half jokingly, quickly labelled him The Franchise.  Matt Cain had already made his MLB debut, but Timmy became the focus of the hopes of the fans.  He did not disappoint.  He spent far less than 1 full season's worth of games in the minors.  2007 was a learning year, but by 2008, he was the best pitcher in baseball and won the Cy Young Award in both 2008 and 2009.  The Giants won the World Series in 2010 for the first time since moving to San Francisco in 1958.

It wasn't just the award and championships that made Timmy such an icon.  It was his diminutive stature, the extreme delivery that required a gymnast's flexibility, the hair flying behind his cap on every pitch, the arrest for marijuana possession and the Let Timmy Smoke signs.  He wasn't just the best pitcher on the best pitching staff in baseball.  He was the embodiment of a bond that formed between the fans and the team that went beyond performance on the field to representing the defiant liberalism of the city and the region whether or not Timmy ever uttered a political word.  Giants fans absolutely loved him and fans of rival teams marveled.  I know I will never forget seeing a video of a Dallas,
Texas based news broadcast from the 2010 World Series when a reporter standing near the McCovey statue on the other side of The Cove blurted out "I smell marijuana!" as if he had just discovered a lost tribe in the Amazon or something.  To this day, after 3 World Series Championships and after several years of declining performances by Timmy, he's still the first name that comes up in any conversation I have with my friends who are Dodgers, Angels, Padres or Cardinals fans.

So, I suppose it is understandable that there is a strong sentiment that despite all evidence of Timmy's best years being long behind him, the Giants should sign him to yet another contract even after they spent $40 M over the past 2 years on a player who produced just 0.4 fWAR on the field.  Hope springs eternal.  While most fans and bloggers admit that signing Timmy to be a member of the 5 man rotation is unrealistic, I have read several who envision him taking on the long relief/6'th starter role despite the fact that the Giants have enough faith in Chris Heston to have let Yusmeiro Petit go over the offseason.  Others even foresee a future closer role for him in spite of that being the unlikeliest of roles for a soft-tossing RHP with poor command.  All of this envisioning is based, of course, on just 2 or 3 postseason appearances out of the bullpen in….2012.

While Manager Bruce Bochy and Pitching Coach Dave Righetti remain open to a Timmy return, the blunt spoken Vice President of Baseball Operations threw out a big dose of reality today by calling a new contract for Timmy a "longshot."  Brian Sabean was diplomatic enough to blame his pessimism on  the notion that Timmy would be looking for a SP role while the Giants would be able to offer, at most, a bullpen role.  More specifically, Sabes said the Giants already have a 6'th starter in Chris Heston.  He did say the Giants would send a delegation to see his long anticipated pitching workout whenever it occurs.  It should be noted that GM Bobby Evans is on record from earlier in the offseason saying the Giants consider the bullpen the deepest part of their roster and the part least in need of upgrading.  So there you have it!  Timmy is not coming back!

Now, before you get all indignant, please remember that Timmy is coming off fairly major hip surgery to correct a degenerative condition in the hip, and a promised pitching exhibition for scouts has been delayed multiple times and still does not have a definite date.  While his surgeon and agent express confidence that the surgery will restore Timmy to past performance, the evidence should lead observers to be less optimistic.  This is not a situation where his performance suddenly dropped due to a single specific injury.  Rather, Timmy reached this point after a long, slow decline that started as early as his first MLB season.  Here are some statistical progressions over the course of his career starting in 2007 and ending last year, 2015:

Average FB Velocity:  94.2, 94.1, 92.4, 91.3, 92.3, 90.4, 90.2, 89.6, 87.2.

K/9:  9.23, 10.51, 10.42, 9.79, 9.12, 9.19, 8.79, 7.75, 7.07.

BB/9:  4.00, 3.33, 2.72, 3.22, 3.57, 4.35, 3.46, 3.64, 4.48.

All of those series regress to approximately the same slope with remarkably little deviation.  Let's stipulate that his surgeon was able to repair something that was not right and he does get some improved function of his hip which allows some improved performance.  Where in those numbers is the  starting point for that, the place he is restored to?  I think we can all agree it is probably not to 2008-2009, and it's probably not even to 2010-2012.

Let's say that Timmy is ultimately willing to accept a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.  The most likely outcome of that is he will not prove to be an upgrade on currently available options which would lead to one of two decisions:  1. Keep him on the roster over a better option because of his history with the team, which would only tarnish his well deserved reputation with the fan base.  2.  Release him or send him to the minors.  Now, if you think there is angst over Timmy not being signed now, wait until he is released or sent to the minors!  That would be a huge embarrassment to both Timmy and the Giants, an enormous distraction as the team is trying to assimilate the newly acquired free agents and get the season off to a fast start.  Personally, I wish the best for Timmy.  If he does manage to resurrect his career with another organization, I will be happy for him.  The probability of that happening with the Giants is small enough, that I am more than willing to take that risk for avoiding the likely distraction of trying to bring him back.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part II

Pat Young, RHP.  DOB:  3/24/1992.  6'5", 200 lbs.

Low A:  8-5, 3.39, 82.1 IP, 7.00 K/9, 3.72 BB/9, GO/AO= 2.03.

Young is a big dude with a funky, nasty delivery.  He struggled in San Jose in 2014 and managed to find a floor in Augusta in 2015.  He allowed 0 ER in 6 IP in each of his last two starts.  If he can cut down on the walks just a bit while maintaining the elite groundball ratio, he should play at higher levels.  Probably a future reliever.


Nolan Riggs, RHP.  DOB:  5/22/1993.  6'8", 235 lbs.

Short Season:  4-3, 3.23, 61.1 IP, 7.19 K/9, 3.23 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.08.

The Giants like tall pitchers and Riggs certainly fits that description.  Solid performance for S-K should propel him to a higher level in 2016.


Ryan Halstead, RHP.  DOB:  5/13/1992.  6'5", 220 lbs.

Short Season:  1-2, 2.33, 27 IP, 10.67 K/9, 1.33 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.00, 8 Saves.

College Closer.  2015 draftee out of Indiana. Great numbers as closer for S-K.  I would think that gets him promoted to San Jose for 2016.


Cory Taylor, RHP. DOB:  12/14/1993.  6'2", 250 lbs.

2-0, 2.45, 33 IP, 13.64 K/9, 3.27 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.87, 1 Save.

2015 draftee.  Big body reliever with terrific K and GB numbers.  Looking forward to seeing what he throws with San Jose in 2016.


Dominic Mazza, LHP.  DOB:  7/28/1994.  6'1", 195 lbs.

Rookie AZL:  3-0, 1.27, 21.1 IP, 10.13 K/9, 1.69 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.11.
Short Season:  0-0, 0.00, 4.1 IP, 8.31 K/9, 0.00 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.25.

2015 draftee.  Forgotten starter for UCSB but put up nice college numbers.  I'm thinking the Giants take it slower with him and start him off in Augusta for his first full pro season.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: Honorable Mention Part I

We'll run through the HM's 5 or 6 at a time, no particular order.

Matt Lujan, LHP.  DOB:  8/23/1988.  6'1", 200 lbs.

AA:  9-6, 3.18, 107.2 IP, 7.36 K/9, 3.51 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.38.

Lujan keeps plodding along up the organizational ladder.  He had a 2.04 ERA over his last 10 appearances last year.


Mitch Delfino, 3B.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  1/13/1991.  6'3", 200 lbs.

AA:  .256/.316/.319, 12 2B, 3 HR, 4 SB, 8.3 BB%, 14.6 K%, 494 PA.

You want to see more power out of a guy his size and from a 3B, but those K and BB numbers are pretty solid, so don't count him out just yet.


Tyler Mizenko, RHP.  DOB:  4/9/1990.  6'2", 195 lbs.

AA:  4-3, 1.98, 50 IP, 5.04 K/9, 2.52 BB/9, GO/AO= 2.57.

Low K/9, but that's an elite groundball rate there.  Will that work at higher levels?


Mark Reyes, LHP.  DOB:  10/8/1992.  6'1", 185 lbs.

Low A:  9-6, 2.13, 139.2 IP, 5.74 K/9, 2.32 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.59.

Finesse lefty.  Finished the season with 6 consecutive QS's in which he did not allow more than 2 ER in any single appearance.


DJ Snelton, LHP.  DOB:  5/29/1992.  6'6", 215 lbs.

High A:  0-5, 4.84, 35.1 IP, 7.90 K/9, 3.82 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.35.
Low A:  5-6, 2.86, 85 IP, 10.06 K/9, 2.01 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.50.

Tall lefty with some upside.  He is taking the Jason Forjet route as he got sent down to Augusta after pitching not terribly in San Jose.  He should get another shot at San Jose in 2016.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Spring Training Preview: Burning Questions That Will Be Answered In Spring Training

OK, enough of leaning on the Top 50 Prospects and fantasy baseball for material.  Let's start talking some real Giants baseball!  There aren't actually a lot of question marks for the Giants heading into Spring Training, but let's see if we can dredge up a few just for something to talk about:

1.  Is Matt Cain's arm healthy?  This might be the single biggest and most important question to answer in spring training.  Matt Cain does not have to be healthy for the Giants to be good this year, but if he is…..oh baby!  I don't care too much about Matt Cain's spring stat line unless it's something truly horrific like an ERA north of 5 with a low K and high BB rate.  Anything better than that and the most important stat is whether he makes all his scheduled starts and makes his scheduled number of pitches in each one.  He does that, and the Giants are gonna be alright this year.

2.  Who wins the Starting LF job this spring?  The assumption going in is Angel Pagan, and it probably will be.  I'm just not completely convinced that Pagan is any better in LF than CF and I'm even less convinced that he is really willing to play the position.  I could see this going very badly and right out of the gate.  The question is, if it goes badly, how long before the Giants pull the plug, because Denard Span IS the CF and leadoff batter.

3.  Who wins the positional bench spots?  The standard NL bench is 5 players:  2 OF's, 2 IF's and a Catcher.  The guys who seem to have the best shot going in are Gregor Blanco, Andrew Susac, Kelby Tomlinson, Ehire Adrianza and Jarrett Parker.  That bench leaves some holes:  No back up first baseman other than Buster Posey.  No backup 3B unless Tomlinson or Adrianza take quite a few reps there in the spring.  There are a few contenders coming to camp too:  George Kottaras at catcher and Kyle Blanks at 1B and OF.  That still leaves no backup at 3B.  So, there is some stuff to sort out.

4.  Assuming the Starting Rotation of Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija, Peavy and Cain all stay healthy, do the Giants use their last bullpen slot to turn Chris Heston into a swingman or can someone like a Clayton Blackburn come in and win that role?  Most likely it will be Heston unless he is terrible in spring training, which could happen.

What burning question do you have about the Giants Spring Training?

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #49 Kelvin Beltre; #50 Gustavo Cabrera

Kelvin Beltre, SS.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  9/25/1996.  5'11", 170 lbs.

2014 DSL:  .235/.430/.441, 3 HR, 7 SB, 23.7 BB%, 11.8 K%, 93 PA.
2015 AZL:  .239/.375/.348, 1 HR, 3 SB, 14.3 BB%, 30.4 K%, 56 PA.

Gustavo Cabrera, OF.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  1/23/1996.  6'2", 190 lbs.

2013 DSL:  .247/.379/.360, 2 HR, 21 SB, 13.1 BB%, 23/6 K%, 229 PA.
2015 AZL:  .286/.375/.571, 3B, 12.5 BB%, 25 K%, 8 PA.

I wanted to round out the 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects with a couple of guys who would almost certainly be ranked a lot higher, possibly top 10, if they had stayed on the field.  They are both 5 tool players with tremendous upside, both have lost a lot of playing time to injury and both are still young enough to make up the lost time if they can stay on the field in 2016.  Cabrera has been particularly snakebitten, suffering a horrific freak injury to his right hand after his first pro season which cost him the entire 2014 season and threatened to keep him from ever playing again.  Then, in his second game of 2015, he ran out a triple, left the game and never returned for the rest of the season.  I have never seen a report of what the injury was.  Hammy tear?  Reinjury to the hand?  He was activated from the7 day DL and place on the Augusta roster on 9/24/2015, so presumably he's going to be ready to go in the spring.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Breadkout OF's- Michael Conforto, Mikie Mahtook, Aaron Altherr

Michael Conforto, OF.  B-L, T-R.  DOB:  3/1/1993.  6'1", 215 lbs.  Organization:  Mets

2015:  .270/335/.506, 14 2B, 9 HR, 8.8 BB%, 20.1 K%, 194 PA.

I've really liked Conforto from before he was drafted.  Woulda been happy for him to be a Giant.  Dude may not be the best fielder around, but the bat is legit.  There is no reason why you cannot multiply those counting stats by 3 and get a pretty close approximation to what he can do in a full season, well, that 's if the Mets don't platoon him somehow.


Mikie Mahtook, OF.  B-R, T-R.   DOB:  11/30/1989.  6'1", 200 lbs.  Organization:  Rays

2015:  .295/.351/.619, 9 HR, 4 SB, 5.2 BB%, 27 K%, 115 PA.

Mahtook is a 5 tool player I've liked since he was in college, I think at LSU.  No, he's not going to hit 54 HR's next season, and the Rays OF situation is very crowded, but gotta love what those numbers project to over a full season of play.


Aaron Altherr, OF.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  1/14/1991.  6'5", 215 lbs.  Organization:  Phillies

.241/.338/.489, 11 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 6 SB, 9.9 BB%, 25.5 K%, 161 PA.

Altherr might be better described as a Sleeper than a Breakout Candidate.  He's a big kid who has had struggles with contact in the minors, as you might expect for a guy that tall.  He's a 5 tool dude, though with excellent plate discipline and a manageable K rate.  He'll get to play with Philly rebuilding.  Could very easily end up with 20 dingers and 20 SB's.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #48 Steven Okert

Steven Okert, LHP.  DOB:  7/9/1991.  6'3", 210 lbs.

AAA:  5-3, 3.82, 61.1 IP, 10.13 K/9, 4.26 BB/9.

Last year at this time, Steven Okert was THE guy.  The guy who was going to succeed Jeremy Affeldt.  Then last season happened and Josh Osich rocketed past him to establish himself as that guy.  At first glance, Okert's numbers don't look that bad, especially considering he was pitching in the PCL.  Yeah, the BB's are up there, but so are the K's and a 3.82 ERA is actually pretty good for the PCL.  Then you  look at his monthly splits and realize he had a ghastly middle of the season.  After getting off to a great start in April, his ERA ballooned to 5.68 in May and was even worse with a 6.30 in June.  He got a bit better in July with a 4.76, but by that time Osich was on the fast track.  His 1.26 in August was back to his expected standards, but then he gave up 2 runs in 3 IP in September to finish on a not-so-great note.

If you look at his K rate, the league he was pitching in and his August numbers, you realize Okert still has it in him to be a top lefty reliever.  He also had a fairly big L-R split, so maybe his future is more of a lefty specialist than the multi-inning guy he looked like last year.  What he needs to do is forget about those bad months last year, get back into his groove and be ready when something opens up at the big league level.  One of the lefties could stink it up.  Someone could get injured.  The Giants have gone with 3 lefty relievers at times in the past or they could go with 13 pitchers for awhile.  There will be opportunities, but there will also be competition for those same opportunities.  2016 will be a pivotal season for Okert.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Breakout Shortstop- Addison Russell

Addison Russell, SS.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  1/23/1994.  6'0", 195 lbs.  Organization: Cubs

2015:  .242/.307/.389, 29 2B, 13 HR, 8.0 BB%, 28.5 K%.

Addison Russell has been an acclaimed high-ceiling prospect for awhile now.  I'm not sure what Billy Beane was thinking when he let Russell go to the Cubs in the Samardzija trade, but it is increasingly looking like Russell will make Trader Billy regret that deal.  Those are decent enough numbers from 2015 put up while mostly playing 2B.  The Cubbies liked Russell so much they traded away Starlin Castro to make room at SS for him.  He'll have Ben Zobrist helping him out at 2B.  The numbers the Cubs may be looking at is the BA which increased from .226 to .259 in the second half of 2015 and the K rate which dropped from over 30% to around 25%.  Add in that 2016 will be just his age 22 season when players are generally on a steep part of their learning curve and you have a real breakout possibility.

BTW, I also think Carlos Correa is going to break out, but he's going to be no lower than a 2'nd round fantasy draftee this year, so he does not need any publicity.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #47 Mac Marshall

Mac Marshall, LHP.  DOB:  1/27/1996.  6'0", 180 lbs.

Rookie AZL:  0-0, 2.57, 7 IP, 14.14 K/9, 6.43 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.44.
Short Season:  0-0, 6.59, 13.2 IP, 11.85 K/9, 6.59 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.25.

Mac Marshall has been on scouting radars since before the 2014 draft.  He was a later round pick by the Houston Astros out of HS, but had his promised over-slot bonus blown up by the Brady Aiken mess.  At first, he enrolled at LSU which would have prevented him from being drafted again for 3 years.  After about a month, he left LSU and enrolled in a JC which made him draft eligible for 2015.  The Giants took him in Round 4.  He showed flashes of brilliance but also inconsistency in throwing strikes.  He got promoted to Salem-Keizer, but was shut down and later re-appeared in Arizona for his last 2 appearances.  It should be noted that 5 of his 15 BB's came in 1 game. It should also be noted that all of this is a very small sample size.

Marshall throws both a 4 seam and 2 seam FB. He generally sits 88-92 with the FB but can crank it up to 94.  One thing I like about him is his best pitch is his changeup that has excellent drop and fade to RH batters.  For most pitchers his age, the changeup is just starting to take shape, if they have one at all.  Augusta would seem to be the logical assignment for him to start 2016, but it may depend on his command in spring training.  Ceiling appears to be #3 SP with ETA 2019 or 2020.  Some analysts rank him higher.  I want to see him show better consistency first.  Again, having 3 young pitchers like Bolivar, Webb and Marshall this low on the list tells you how deep the Giants farm system is, even if you think all 3 should be ranked a bit higher.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Breakout Third Basemen- Maikel Franco

Maikel Franco, 3B.  B-R, T-R.  DOB:  8/26/1992.  6'1", 180 lbs.  Organization:  Phillies.

2015:  .280/.343/.497, 22 2B, 14 HR, 7.8 BB%, 15.5 K%, 335 PA.

Maikel Franco had to wait until mid-May of last year for callup to the majors, a fact that he has filed a grievance with MLB over.  He pretty much raked from that point until August 18 when he suffered a wrist fracture.   He eventually returned to play the final 3 games of the season, so presumably he is healthy for 2015.  He looks like another player who just needs to stay healthy and accumulate the PA's to have his breakout season.  The Phillies won't be a good team in 2016, but that's mostly due to the pitching.  The lineup actually looks like it might not be half bad, so it should not drag Franco's R and RBI totals down too much.  The K and BB numbers are solid so unless the wrist injury lingers, he should be able to continue and build on the foundation he put down in 2015.  You won't draft him ahead of a Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado or Kris Bryant, but if you miss out on the elite guys, Franco should give you your money's worth and more later in the draft.

DrB's 2016 Giants Top 50 Prospects: #46 Logan Webb

Logan Webb, RHP.  DOB:  11/18/1996.  6'2", 195 lbs.

Short Season:  3-6, 4.92, 60.1 IP, 5.97 K/9, 2.39 BB/9, GO/AO= 1.67.

This line may not look to impressive at first glance but let me break it down a bit for you.  First of all, Webb was competing at age 18 with players whose average age was about 3 years older than he, players like Dansby Swanson, the #1 overall draft pick from an elite college program who could be in the major leagues as soon as this season.   The other take away point is Webb started the season slowly with a K/BB of 7/7 in 20 IP in his first 4 appearances.  After that, he struck out 33 against 9 BB's in 40.1 IP for a 7.38 K/9 and a 1.98 BB/9.  And don't overlook that excellent groundball rate.

I don't really have a current scouting report on Webb.  He hit 96 MPH in high school before the draft, but reportedly was lower after.  In several videos posted on the internet I would estimate that he was hitting the mid-90's with the FB, but it is very hard to judge velocity without radar gun measurements.  Those videos also show a terrific breaking ball with excellent vertical depth as well as a diving changeup that may be a split-change.

I expect we will see Logan Webb in the Augusta rotation this spring for his age 19 season where he will be pitching in a much more pitching-friendly environment with players approximately the same age as the NWL.  A strong 2016 season would really boost his stock into the upper levels of the Giants Top 50 Prospects.  Ceiling is hard to project at this point.  I would say he probably best profiles as a future #3 SP.  ETA is probably 2019 at the earliest, more likely 2020.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Breakout Second Baseman- Jonathan Schoop

Jonathan Schoop, 2B.  DOB:  10/16/1991.  6'2", 210 lbs.  Organization:  Orioles

2015:  .279/.306/.482, 15 HR, 2.8 BB%, 24.6 K%, BABIP= .329, 321 PA.

I last year's auction draft, I overpaid for Dee Gordon at $29.  He was worth every penny of that, but if I want him again this year, I'm going to have to pay a lot more than that.  So, I'm thinking about shifting gears away from Gordon's elite SB production to a guy who just might give me over 30 HR's from a position that does not generally produce anything close to that kind of power.  Jonathan Schoop is a big, power hitting 2B in the mold of Jeff Kent or Dan Uggla.  He hit 16 HR's in his rookie campaign in 2014 albeit with an ugly BA of .209.  Last year, he clubbed 3 dingers in the first 9 games of the season, then hurt his knee on a takeout slide.  He did not return until mid-season, but hit .287 the rest of the way.

The guy is a free swinger with minuscule walk rates, but OBP is not a category in most fantasy formats.  His BABIP was not insanely high last year, so there is a fairly good chance that his BA will hold up and the power is obviously there.  An injury free season would yield close to 30 dingers and this kid is still on the upward trajectory of his career, and a fairly steep one at that!  While other managers are overpaying for Dee Gordon, Jose Altuve and Robinson Cano, sit back and grab this guy later in the draft, but don't wait too long!