Friday, October 14, 2016

State of the Giants 2016-2017: Ownership/Management

So, after a couple of days of writer's block, we'll delve into where the Giants franchise stands at the end of the 2016 season and look at where they may be headed in the future.  I thought about writing up the entire organization in one post, but that task was too daunting to even get started on, so I'll break it down into sections.

The 2016 Giants made the postseason, barely, for the 4'th time in 7 seasons of the Golden Decade of the 2010's, but it was not a long run as they got bounced in the NLDS by a superior Cubs team that the Giants played tougher than you might expect due to some extraordinary starting pitching.  In any other decade, a season like this would be cause for celebration.  I mean, do you fondly remember the Will Clark years?  The Barry Bonds years?  Unfortunately, in a decade where even years are supposed to bring championships, simply making the postseason is disappointing which tells you how high those 3 championships have raised the bar.

The Giants are still owned by one of the more well-heeled ownership groups in MLB.  They play in a major market and have part ownership of the cable TV station.  I don't know if having part ownership of the TV station is a good thing or not, but it sure SEEMS like a good thing!  They also own the stadium which is almost surely a very good thing.  On top of all that, Managing Partner Larry Baer seems to be a more effective communicator to the less baseball savvy members of the ownership group as we don't seem to get that yearly angst over payroll limitations we used to see with Peter the Pink and even Daddy Neuks.  That may be due to the fact that all of MLB is swimming in money these days or it may be due to ownership discovering firsthand that winning championships can be very lucrative, but it sure is nice to know they are willing to spend when needed to upgrade the team.

It is not clear to me who ultimately calls the shots on the baseball side of management, but Bobby Evans has definitely assumed the role of spokesman for the front office team.  I am not aware of any signs of friction between Evans and Brian Sabean who seems to be in more of an advisory role now so in that sense, the transition has been fairly seamless.  Evans' had a strong first offseason, as he needed to bolster the starting rotation and landed two of the better FA values in Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, plus he upgraded CF from awful to adequate with the signing of Denard Span.  Let's also not forget some savvy under-the-radar pickups the Giants are known for in Conor Gillaspie, Albert Suarez, Gorkys Hernandez and several other minor league FA's who contributed when the wave of injuries struck.  Gillaspie and Hernandez look like they will probably stick around for another season.

Evans' mid-season trading record is a bit more mixed.  I like his aggressiveness in being willing to give up top prospects and even a young MLB player to get what the Giants needed for the stretch run, but he failed to land a frontline closer which even he has expressed regrets over.  Extra credit for getting additional controlled years on the contracts of all 3 mid-season acquisitions.  We'll never know what the Giants would have had to give up to get Mark Melancon, but Evans' sure sounds like it was within reach and he is still kicking himself over it.

John Barr continues to be the Giants chief scout and his drafts under Evans have been solid.  The Giants lost their first round draft pick to sign Samardzija, but this draft was deeper than it was talented at the top.  The Giants landed first round value in round 2 in Bryan Reynolds and at least 2'nd round value in round 3 in Heath Quinn.

Future Hall of Fame Manager Bruce Bochy remained secure in his role.  Most of the coaching staff will remain intact, but replacing longtime Bochy sideman Tim Flannery proved to be a difficult transition as Bochy and 3B coach Roberto Kelly reportedly did not always see eye-to-eye on baserunning decisions.  Kelly made several high profile decisions early in the season that were widely perceived as mistakes, but seemed to get better as the season progressed.  Grant Brisbee over at MCC made some fairly compelling statistical observations to support the notion that Kelly actually did a good job.  Flannery and Bochy were together so long and were so close you have to wonder if Boch will ever be completely happy with anyone else in that role, and Flan seems determined to not ever come back.

Hitting coach Hensley "Bam Bam" Meulens continued to preside over one of the most plate disciplined offenses in all of MLB.  It's not clear to what extent the power outage in the lineup falls on him.  Expect to hear a lot of calls for Barry Bonds to be brought back for some type of hitting coach/instructor role this offseason.  Pitching Coach Dave "Rags" Righetti gets high marks for helping Jeff Samardzija retool is repertoire on the run midseason, but Rags and Boch were not able to fix a bullpen that was completely broken by the end of the season.


Just a few notes about the postseason press conference by Bobby Evans and Bruce Bochy:

In a bit of a surprise, the Giants quickly announced that Roberto Kelly and Billy Hayes would not be returning as 3B and 1B coaches respectively.  While I am sure both of them could have done better at their jobs, base coaching seems to be far from the Giants most pressing problem in 2016(see comments above).

Evans agrees that the Giants need a power bat in LF but strongly implied that they will be looking to find that from within the organization naming Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker as the main contenders.

Sounds like the Giants really liked what they saw from Ty Blach and he might even have a leg up on Matt Cain for the 5'th SP slot next spring.

I think everybody agrees that the Giants top priority this winter will be upgrading at closer.  That will not come cheaply!

Although the Giants are still very high on prospect Christian Arroyo, they feel he is not ready to pencil into the MLB roster for next season and will likely start the season in AAA.  Both Conor Gillaspie and Eduardo Nunez will be back next with with one or the other or both manning 3B.


  1. Yes! You wrote another article. I say give the kids a chance in LF. Unless Matt Cain surprises everybody in spring training, the job should be Blach's. I think the big 3 closers are most likely going to stay where they are, with maybe the Yankees getting Chapman back ( Which would make Free Agency very interesting.). The Giants did try to get Wade Davis from KC, but he has been on the disabled list too much lately. Greg Holland, who was the closer for KC before Davis is coming back from Tommy John after not playing last season. He is a UFA, but I doubt the Giants will trust his arm. Maybe they go back to the well that is Tampa Bay. The Rays are not even close to contending and their farm system is kind of weak. Alex Colome had a great season closing for the Rays, is only 27 yrs old, and is under team control next season and has 3 seasons of Arb after that. What do you think?

    1. I tend to think the Giants will go hard after Melancon and if that doesn't work out, I think a trade of some sort will be the fall back option. I think they are willing to spend, but maybe not what it will take to land Chapman or Jansen. Plus, Jansen will cost a draft pick unless the new CBA changes the rules on that, which I hope it will. On the other hand, it sounds very much like closer is the only big dollar target for the offseason, so the Giants may be planning to go all out and try to outbid the Yanks and Dodgers for Chapman or Jansen.

    2. The QO is set at 17.2M. I am not certain Jensen will get a QO.

    3. Agree with you about Melancon. I personally would hate it if they had to trade multiple prospects again. But if your going to spend the big bucks after a free agent then get the most dominating one. Chapman would be outstanding in a Giants uniform.

    4. After that 2.1 inning Hold in Game 5 of the NLDS? Jansen will get a QO! It's a high salary for even an elite closer, but Jansen will get a multiyear deal on the open market with an AAV not that far below $17.2 M. 1. I don't think the Dodgers have to worry about him accepting it and 2. They would be happy if he did.

    5. I don't think Jansen gets a QO. Dodgers don't value him to that extent. Don't forget that Friedman runs that team and he has a very "next man up" mentality (or at least he did with the Rays).

      I can't see the Giants pursuing Chapman given the baggage he comes with. He's still not long removed from that domestic violence incident. How would the fan base feel about Jansen? It certainly feels like melancon or bust.

    6. I will be shocked if Jansen does not get a QO. MLBTR estimates Jansen will get a $50 M contract in free agency. Dodgers do not have to worry about him accepting a QO.

    7. The Dodgers QOed Brett Anderson last year.

      They value the compensation, and don't mind going over value $5-$8 million, especially if its just for one year.

      They will absolutely QO Jansen.

  2. What are your thoughts on Tomlinson and what kind of role does he play next season? Doesnt seem logical to keep him and Adrianza on the 25man.

    1. Bobby Evans all but said Conor Gillaspie is going to be on the team next year, which would make it very difficult to keep both Adrianza and Tomlinson. Adrianza is out of options and I think Tomlinson still has at least 1. Adrianza is probably the better defensive SS and switch-hits. Assuming no trades or significant positional acquisitions, I'll say Adrianza makes the 25 man roster and Tomlinson serves as depth in Sacramento to start the season.

  3. Some thoughts:

    1. Rotation: I'm about as happy as I can be with Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija & Moore and think that is one of the best 4-man groups in baseball. #5 needs an upgrade and I have heard/read a lot of positives have come from the clubhouse about Ty Blach and how he performed during his call-up. And if he can't do it, look at Stratton (someone I was down on for years, but seems to have finally come around).

    As for Cain... I had solid hope he'd rebound in 2014. I had reasonable hope he'd rebound in 2015. In 2016 I was pretty skeptical. In 2017 they either need to eat that last year or make him a long reliever who may end up playing/injuring himself out of a job.

    2. Closer: Restating the obvious (and have been harping on for years now), we're going to have to get one. While I had hopes, I'm not sure Strickland is cut-out for a closer. Maybe Law, but I doubt Bochy puts him in that high-pressure situation at this point in his career even if I think young talent in the bullpen needs to be the way of the future.

    3. Bullpen in General: Romo, Kontos, Smith, Strickland, Okert & Law seem solid. Maybe Osich gets back on track. Say goodbye to Casilla and Lopez.

    4. Outfield: I think Spann was adequate. Pence is still one of the best RFers in the game. Pagan came in 10th of LFers in WAR this year (shocking to say the least). But at 2.1 WAR, it's not like he was a huge difference maker. Blanco regressed in the field and at the plate, I suspect he moves on. I liked Hernandez in the field. Williamson isn't ready and Parker was weak in defense and might be a AAAA guy.

    5. Infield: I'm happy with what we have. GIllespie & Nunez can hold the fort at 3B as Arroyo develops. Tomlinson is a great utility guy. Brown needs to relieve Posey more. Hopefully Panik can get his bat back on track.

    1. Moses, keep in mind that left field tends to be a platoon position. I do value what Pagan was able to do for us, but WAR tends to be low for LFers (after the dozen or so top guys that don't platoon out there).