Monday, October 1, 2018

End of Season Q/A

We don't do these too often but since we're at the end of the season, ask any baseball-related question:  The season, minor league season, state of the Giants, fantasy baseball, draft.  Go for it!

I will post questions during the day and answer tonight. Feel free to give your own answers in the meantime.

Go Rockies!


  1. How 'bout a rundown on your and everyone's fantasy season?

    1. My league went to a Keeper system where we could keep 4 players from last year, 2 hitters and 2 pitchers. My Keepers were OF Bryce Harper, 3B Jonah Arenado, SP Madison Bumgarner and RP Edwin Diaz.

      Here are the results of our Auction:

      1B, 3B Freddie Freeman $54.
      2B, SS, OF Dee Gordon $38.
      SP Jose Berrios $5
      C Welington Castillo $6
      SP Kyle Hendricks $20.
      SP Jon Lester $12.
      OF Domingo Santana $7.
      SP Zack Godley $17.
      SP Blake Snell $3.
      1B Kendry Morales $2.
      1B, 3B, OF Carlos Santana $10.
      RP Kelvin Herrera $16.
      OF Gregory Polanco $4
      SP Garrett Richards $7.
      SS Addison Russell $12.
      RP Cam Bedrosian $4
      RP Archie Bradley $6.
      1B Justin Bour $2.
      RP Hunter Strickland $1.
      1B Josh Bell $10.
      RP AJ Minter $1.
      SP Jakob Junis $1.

      I wasn't aggressive enough early in the draft and ended up with $22 on the table.

      My Savvy Vets team started off hot and was in first place around mid-season then slipped to 3'rd place by the end of our regular season. Got bounced in the first round of the playoffs and ended up 6'th. Here is my final roster after 38 40 allowed Adds:

      C Wilson Ramos
      1B Mitch Moreland
      2B Dee Gordon
      1B Freddie Freeman
      SS Tim Anderson
      IF Ben Zobrist
      OF Bryce Harper
      OF Carlos Santana
      OF Kyle Schwarber
      UT Nolan Arenado
      UT Jurickson Profar
      SP Kyle Hendricks
      SP Matt Harvey
      SP Steven Matz
      SP Miles Mikolas
      SP Tyler Skaggs
      RP Seranthony Dominguez
      RP Hector Rondon
      RP Edwin Diaz
      P Will Smith
      P Blake Snell
      BN Derek Holland
      BN Jhoulys Chacin
      BN Dereck Rodriguez
      BN Madison Bumgarner
      BN Joe Musgrove

      I use my bench as an extended starting rotation.

  2. 1) Other than Bumgarner, which established player on the big league squad is worth the most in trade? 2) Of the quality bullpen performances this year, which one do you think is most likely to regress?

    Andy in OC

    1. 1) I don't think we'll see Bumgarner traded in the offseason - for 2019 he's a 12mil pitcher in his walk year with something to prove after two injury seasons - beyond him your only trade bait are the young controllable players. No one will want Melancon or Longoria - maybe Melancon will bounce back after all the injury but Longoria is on the way down. Belt might be worth something, Watson or Dyson maybe. 2) I hope none of the RPs regress, any more REgression and they don't belong out there. We need PROgression! I hope Strickland is gone, he's just never materialized as the awesome closer he was supposed to become.

    2. Belt, Crawford, Panik

    3. Yes I forgot Panik - Crawford has a NTC and is born and bred in the Bay Area. Panik could be worth something if his gap power came back. Maybe Panik or Strickland are good throw-ins to help get rid of one or more of the bad contracts.

    4. 1. Belt because his contract isn't that expensive and doesn't go deep into his decline years, his injury history (while not great) doesn't really have pattern outside of bad luck, and his numbers are well known to be stunted by playing at AT&T Park. His rate stats are comparable to Hosmer, but you don't have to pay him $144mil/8.

      2. Sam Dyson. His numbers don't match the high blood pressure he'd cause by coming to the mound.

    5. So, what teams value the most is inexpensive, controlled contracts. Now, 1 controlled year of Madison Bumgarner is worth way more than the second most valuable trade asset on the Giants, but the next most valuable trade pieces would be the 2 young SP's DRod and Suarez. I'll just add that although I absolutely love DRod, there is a good chance that 2018 was the best season of his career, so I can think of worse trades than to sell high on him this offseason. Talk about turning a profit!

    6. About Longoria, I would like to see what he can do in his second season in AT&T. He actually hit great on the road in 2018, it was AT&T that killed him. And specifically, he was actually okay in AT&T early in the season, but after his injury, it took him until, like, the final homestand or so to start hitting in the park again. I'm hoping that he just had problems learning to hit here, and that his great road numbers foretell a better offensive performance for him in 2019.

      When a pitcher does as well as D-Rod did, while I agree that there's a good chance that 2018 was his best, I would rather keep him around and see what we got, because you aren't going to get back anything that will match what he did in 2018, but keeping him, maybe you do.

      I think Suarez had things to figure out in the majors, plus stamina issues late in the season. I think 2019 will be a lot closer to his mid-season performance when he was pitching really well, as he figures out how to minimize the bad starts.

      I'm seeing the relievers as the best trade chips, mainly because we have a surplus, and I think we can compete with a couple good offensive pieces.

  3. I look forward to the Q & A. This blog is one of my first stops every morning. Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into providing a great read for Giants fans everywhere every day during the season.

  4. What changes/improvements would you like to see the new head of baseball operations propose? Would you like them to hire someone with previous GM experience like Ben Cherington former red Sox GM?


    1. Hmm.....good question. Just off the top of my head:

      1. Re-evaluate scouting and development of international prospects.

      2. Re-evaluate how pitching is scouted and developed. The current obsession with trying to tame hard throwers with severe command/control problems is not working.

      3. Take a hard look at the wisdom of signing any player for longer than 3 years and more than $50 M including homegrown core players.

      4. I do not necessarily think hiring a strictly "analytics" GM who thinks like the 29 other GM's in the league is the best way to go.

      5. Evaluate John Barr's draft strategy and history. Might be time for a new Scouting Director.

      I'll leave it at that for now.

      Ben Cherington: He did a fantastic job of cleaning up the mess Theo Epstein left behind but then got right back into essentially the same mess himself. Maybe that was ownership driven? Maybe he's learned from the experience? Wasn't he the guy who signed Pablo Sandoval to a 9 digit contract?

    2. Maxing out the signing bonus penalties to sign Lucius Fox and then failing to sign additional high value prospects in 2015 was not wise. And then to your point about int'l scouting Doc, to give up on Fox in a What did they miss in the evaluation?

      I'm trying to think of one success story of the Giants trying to improve command/control of the with wild propects. Maybe Crick...kind of? Nothing is really coming to mind.

      Extensions have hurt, but really, the brutal beat down has been in the FA market. And that points the finger to the failings of Barr and drafting. The Giants can't have a run of top draft picks like this again:

      2010: OF Gary Brown
      2011: SS Joe Panik
      2012: RHP Chris Stratton
      2013: SS Christian Arroyo
      2014: RHP Tyler Beede
      2015: RHP Phil Bickford

      The failures of these drafts have lead the Giants to where they are today. No impact players have come up through this system since 2011. Especially pitchers.

    3. That is a pretty ugly list of first round drafts, huh?

    4. I don't know what happened to Gary Brown. I suspect there are off-field issues we don't know about.

      Panik helped the Giants win a WS, so I'm not going to call that a failure, but it's hard to see him bouncing back much at this point in his career.

      With Stratton, I think there just happened to be a big drop-off in talent between him and the pick just above him that went to the Cardinals, so that can be chalked up to draft position.

      Not sure if Arroyo is a bust or if Bobby Evans must made a horrible trade for Matt Moore. Well, it was a horrible trade but Arroyo may also be a bust. I'll add that I liked the trade at the time and have no idea why Moore's career fell off a cliff.

      Beede was a pedigree guy with command problems the Giants thought they could fix. As we've said, that strategy is not working.

      The Giants ignored Bickford's positive drug test, which is retrospect might have been a mistake.

      With each one, you can see the rationale for the pick but when you stand back and look at the list, yeah, ugly! Gotta hope Heliot Ramos and Joey Bart work out a lot better.

    5. The old international rules were ridiculous and we now know some teams that were having a lot of success were cheating. Hopefully the Giants will do better with a more level playing field. I really like what I've read about the 2018 J2 class.

    6. Yeah, it was too bad about Brown. He seemed like a nice guy.

      I remember reading a twitter from Brown when the Giants released him, thanking the Giants up and down. Being very positive and appreciative of his time in the org. He was trying to give away his Giants gear to fans as well. Seemed like a genuine, really classy reaction to what was probably a very emotional, difficult situation for him.

      Lifetime .429 hitter. Maybe I judged him too harshly. : P

    7. Have you seen a name linked to the GM opening that sounds intriguing to you? What about Mike Rizzo GM of the Nationals. He has a link to Brice Harper. I'm sure John Barr will be evaluated among others, but I've always thought that the GM was heavily involved with drafting the higher picks,I remember reading in Moneyball that Billy Beane was heavily involved with his scouts with their high draft picks, like Nick Swisher. Maybe the Giants should study how teams like the Yankees and Rex Sox continue to produce good young players while not going into rebuilding mode? Larry Baer doesn't want to rebuild.


    8. Do you trust Larry Baer making the right hire for the GM position considering he's not a baseball guy?


    9. One reason why Billy Beane was controversial early on was how he injected himself into the draft process which had formerly been left almost entirely to the Scouting Director. Sabean has been known to personally scout potential first round picks. After that, I think most teams pretty much turn it over to the Scouting Director.

      As for GM candidates, I would like to see a woman or a non-young, white male Ivy-League-educated type. Don't know if Baer and the ownership group have the courage for that. The risk for criticism is high if it doesn't work out.

    10. I read that Bobby Evans scouted Joey Bart as well. You're right Doc about the Giants needing to improve in the international arena. Maybe they need to pour in more resources to help. The Yankees have 11 international players on their 40 man roster led by Severino, Sanchez and Andujar. The Red Sox have 6 players led by Bogarts, Devers, and E Rodriguez. While the Giants have 3 players led by Morontha, and Gorkys. The Giants even traded for Avelino who was a former Yankees international prospect. The Yankees and Red Sox are 2 big market teams like the Giants who don't go in rebuilding mode. What's helping them is their success in signing impactful international players. Maybe the new GM will help the Giants improve in this area.


    11. Don't forget that the Red Sox and Braves have both been proven to be cheaters in the international market. There is currently a major federal investigation into other cheating teams with rumors swirling around the Dodgers. Maybe with newer, fairer bonus pool rules and a crackdown on cheating teams, the Giants can do better too.

    12. Thanks Doc, yes with the Federal Grand jury investigation going on looks like more front office people, besides the Braves GM who is banned for life, could be in deep trouble. Interesting rumors swirling around the Dodgers and Gabe Kapler during his time there. Hope the Giants are clean in this.


    13. There was an article about Gary Brown, maybe in the last year, where he's with an independent club. From what I can recall, the Giants wanted to change some things he was doing with his hitting but since he was still successful with it, he refused to consider the changes, even after he started failing with it, and it seems like he didn't see the light until no teams were interested in giving him another shot.

    14. Gary Brown has officially retired and gone back to school with a goal of getting into baseball management in some capacity.

      The story about him "refusing" to change his batting style is a gross oversimplification, IMO. I believe he did try to make some suggested changes, struggled with them and went back to what he was comfortable with. I think the Giants wanted him to drive the ball more when he had been successful slapping it around. He had a distinct pattern of going into a deep slump every time a teammate got promoted. He has admitted that he let things get to him.

      I don't think we'll ever know for sure why Gary Brown did not make it.

    15. Well, that's the answer right there then: slap hitter. Andres Torres was a slap hitter, and failing at it, when he learned to hit the proper way. Emmanuel Burris, while it was never made clear what he was bad at, Carney Lansford comments was that he loved the strength in Burris' wrists and wanted to change his hitting, but he learned from his Dad, a baseball coach, so there was no way in heck he was going to change the way he hit.

      Yes, I think he's now with the Mariner's front office, from what I recall now, thanks for reminding me. I was using his description of what he said was his problem with hitting, that was not my description.

    16. Just because it worked for Andres Torres for ONE SEASON doesn't mean it works for everybody. Most slap hitters are that way for a reason and if they start trying to hit HR's, they end up with a lot of flyball outs and strikeouts.

    17. Well, it's just not Torres, there are other hitters who were swinging wrong, like Justin Turner, JD Martinez, Chris Taylor, and others, who rebuilt their swings to hit like most major leaguers do.

      To your point, changing it does not guarantee success, yes, I totally agree on that point, but I think there's a strong reason why we see so many bad hitting, great speedy position players around: they were taught to be slap hitters. I think that famous hitting coach, Hrinik (bad sp!) who was with White Sox, I think he taught Wade Boggs, basically taught a slap style of hitting where you drive the ball towards the ground, to get the ball through the infield.

      But I think slap works for a very small percentage of the players who use that method, while using the correct method (which I'll call the Ted Williams method), has a much stronger record of success (one stat I saw noted that 90% of MLB hitters use this method).

      Also, I don't think that they are taught that because they couldn't hit with the other method, I think it was a lazy or misinformed coach who saw that the kid is speedy, and therefore makes him a slap hitter under the idea that this takes advantage of his speed. At that young an age, fielders aren't that good yet, and it becomes a workable hitting method, particularly given speedy players. Plus, it's not like the youth coaches know the Ted Williams method, vast majority of them are well-meaning fathers and mothers, who most likely aren't aware that correct hitting mechanics like Williams exists, and do the best that they can for their young child. I know I ran into those when I was coaching (though, really, my true purpose was to be another assistant because they need more coaches, I didn't know much either, other than hitting) my son's teams.

      And, don't forget, even with this incorrect method, Gary Brown had one of the best OPS in his College baseball conference over a 7-8 year period, even better than Longoria, which is probably why he held onto that method. And that's why I think, had he changed his methods, he would have been successful, or, at least successful enough that he could have been a great defensive CF for us, while hitting okay enough for the majors. He wasn't that good his first college season, got better in his second, then broke out in his junior season, showing an ability to adjust and get better.

      And sidenote: this launch angle thing: Ted Williams wrote about it in his book over 50 years ago. I'm just amazed that it's a thing now, I think it speaks to the lack of hitting knowledge across all youth leagues that this is a thing now.

  5. I guess the million dollar question is how the Giants are in this position today? The weekend series against the Dodgers hopefully obliterated any hesitation on the Giants FO to make drastic changes. While I don't want to exonerate the FO from blame, I don't think Sabean, Evans, Barr and company all of a sudden forgot how to evaluate talent. So I want to put numbers into what we generally know already, that the homerun revolution left the Giants behind. So drastic has that been?

    Here are MLB HR totals, MLB ave. runs, Giants, Royals, Mets

    2014 - 4,186; 4.07; Giants - 4.10; KC - 4.02; NYM - 3.88
    2015 - 4,909; 4.25; Giants - 4.30; KC - 4.47; NYM - 4.22
    2016 - 5,610; 4.48; Giants - 4.41; KC - 4.17; NYM - 4.14
    2017 - 6,105; 4.65; Giants - 3.94; KC - 4.33; NYM - 4.54
    2018 - 5,580; 4.45; Giants - 3.72; KC - 3.94; NYM - 4.17

    In 2014, Giants beat KC in 7 games where pitching was key. But ratings were low
    In 2015, KC repeats as AL champs and beats NY Mets, again teams with pitching emphasis, again low ratings
    In 2016, Cubs win, high ratings
    In 2017, Astros win, good ratings?

    No matter what MLB says, there was something that went on after the 2014 World Series that increased HR totals by nearly 700. But still, 2015 World Series featured another two pitching, defense oriented teams. This trend didn't seem to be going away. So MLB had to do something even more aggressive. And so in 2016, another 700 HR jump. Cubs win, ratings are up, and then another 500 HR jump. So from 2014, the last Giants WS and 2017, there was a 1,900 increase in homeruns! There's just no way an increase of 1,900 homeruns can be explained purely by launch angles and players TRYING to hit homeruns.

    That pretty much means it's an entirely NEW offensive environment, we can even say an almost NEW game. It's NOT the game Giants were successful at winning, closely contested 5-4, 4-2, 2-0 type of games where teams with strong pitching, especially shutdown bullpen, defense, and timely hitting were thriving.

    It seems like even MLB thought this was becoming too much so they put on the brakes a bit, so this year we see a 500 HR decrease.

    In the old environment, teams like Giants, KC, Mets could win with a league average offense based on moving the line as they say. That's not true any longer, you have to win 7-4 type of games now.

    There was no way anyone, even MLB, could have predicted this sudden change of run environment. I don't think As, Cubs, Dodgers, Astros, Yankees, Redsox knew this revolution was coming, they were just on that trajectory anyway and it happened to be that the change was so drastic. Now that Giants realize there's no going back, at least for the time being, they have to make the adjustment.

    My overall point is that there's no way Giants FO could have seen this kind of drastic change coming. Maybe they should have moved a little faster after their second-half collapse in 2016 that it wasn't really a bullpen problem, but a HR problem. So instead of doubling down on pitching by getting Cueto and Samardzija, they should have gone after the big bats. Even this year they could've pursued J.D. Martinez but didn't, instead they decided to spread out the investment in offense through McCutchen and Longoria. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. But really, no one could have predicted such a profound change almost overnight.

    1. Those are all excellent points. Thoughts:

      1. The September collapse happened after the Giants traded their top offensive player, Buster Posey electively ended his season early to get a head start of recovery from surgery and Steve Duggar messed up his shoulder. By the final weekend, the Giants were fielding a team of scrubs, plain and simple. The season should be evaluated on how things stood at the end of August, which was not that far off from contention.

      2. The dilemma for the Giants is how to compete with the power teams while playing in the most HR suppressing park in MLB. They might have to look for dead pull hitters from both side of the plate, but then that invites shifts and sacrifices BABIP and BA. They might look for players with a combination of high OBP and who can steal a lot of bases, but those players are hard to find and Instant replay as made SB's more difficult since coming off the bag for even a split second means you are out.

    2. Are you saying that MLB secretly juiced the ball, or wound them tighter or whatever, to make the game more exciting for fans? By the way, what would it take to bring in the outfield fences at AT&T - would they need league permission or are there minimum requirements, or what. Although speed on the basepaths and some players (pitchers) that can bunt or execute a hit-and-run could be the better solution.

    3. I believe there is strong evidence the ball has been "juiced" the last few seasons whether intentionally or not.

    4. Some studies have been done: the ball is definitely different during the homerun boosted years. Ironically, by a saber who pooh-poohed (strongly) the idea that the ball was similarly juiced during the steroids era (as evidenced by another saber who found a lot of evidence that 1) steroids don't do much of anything for hitting with power, 2) even if it did do something, there was no way the change in run environment could have resulted from steroids because the change was just as sudden as this last change, basically mid-season, and 3) that the ball was changed in composition, which some studies found to be true).

      I believe that since the MLB was caught with their hands in the cookie jar, they had to unofficially switch back the balls (they have claimed that they didn't do anything with the ball, but since people mentioned it, there were some superficial changes that don't do anything to the physics of the ball, so they claim), just so that they can claim that it was just randomness and not a changed ball that caused the changes.


    5. Changing the dimensions of the fence appears to be a team decision, like when the Braves brought it in (coincidently, while Aaron was going for HR record; fence when back out after him) or, more recently, the Padres, unhappy with their new park being a pitcher's park, moved the fences in.

    6. I totally agree with DrB's first point. Many people have been complaining like the Giants were this bad all season, when it was just the month of September (even though they like to add in the bad second half of 2016, they tend to forget this part of reality).

      Also, the offense was suppressed most of the season by the fact that, for whatever reasons (maybe Bochy is losing it? maybe he was forced by bad circumstances?), he was batting the wrong person at leadoff. I analyzed the lineup stats at one point and found that the lineup basically had the right people for an okay lineup that would win with good pitching (like we got after D-Rod and Suarez joined the rotation), but that he was batting the guy who should be hitting 7th at leadoff. I plugged the lineup stats into the lineup calculator, moving the leadoff stats to 7th, and moved everyone up one, and that would have added around 5 wins, from what I remember.

      If Duggar can be a steadying factor at leadoff, that would help do wonders for the lineup, I believe. And either getting McCutchen back (or a better player), in either RF, LF, or both, would be enough to win with the pitching we got. We still need a shutdown stud in the bullpen, but the guys we got are mostly good, overall, I think, needing a tweaking, not an overhaul.

    7. I would also add that two major saber studies of playoff success found that offense was not tied with winning deep into the playoffs, defense/pitching was. And in one study, they studied specifically the effect of homers, and did not find any statistical significance effects from homers (nor any of the offensive metrics that they tested; the closest one was stolen base attempts, which they figured was a sign of team speed).

    8. I don't think you can point to 10 year old saber studies to understand what's working right now. Pitching will alway be important, but the HR revolution is in full swing. You might want to check out the boxscores from last year's World Series. Both the Astros and Dodgers were HR hitting teams. They combined for 25 HR's in the 7 game series. Ignore HR's in today's game at your peril.

  6. It seems to me that it might be futile for the Giants to join the Launch Angle Party so late and in a park where it might be the most difficult in baseball to make that offensive strategy work successfully. Maybe it should not be a case of "If you can't beat them join them"- and when everyone else is zigging maybe it's time for them to try zagging. I don't know the best way to counter the uppercutting swingers aiming for the fences, but maybe a greater emphasis on up and in fastballs, split finger fastballs, down and away junkballs? And maybe having a team built around speed since that is not a featured part of most offenses these days? Field excellent OF defense since everyone tries to hit the ball in the air? But even with all the focus on hitting these days I think one baseball truism will always remain- good pitching will always beat good hitting. Perhaps it is time to get back to the draft philosophy that has worked in the past- draft good pitching, keep the cream of the crop for yourself and trade away excess pitching prospects to address other needs. I honestly don't know where the Giants need to go from here- I just hope the FO isn't as clueless or feels as helpless as I do right now as a longtime diehard fan.

    1. I just know you are not going to score a lot of runs playing station-to-station baseball. They need to find more power or more speed or both.

  7. While it would be detrimental to his value to announce his availability, the only question on Bumgarner is to which team he will be traded. This is not easy stuff, but it must be done. It should have been done last December when he had two years of team friendly control and other-worldly value, but Giants ownership was unwilling to let the baseball guys make tough decisions. Because of that failure, the Giants will need to move one or two other popular players to reshape the roster.

    There is absolutely no value in keeping Crawford, Posey and Belt around to toil on a team that will languish near the bottom of the NL West for the next several years. The Giants have to check in with Atlanta to see if the Braves view Posey as a guy that can lead their talented young core to the promised land. The Giants have to find out who might view Crawford and/or Belt as a guy that can be a big difference maker.

    These are painful decisions, but big changes need to be made to shorten the Giants stay in baseball purgatory.

    1. Yup much sadness to trade away players who brought glory to The City. It was sad watching Lincecum and Cain lose their stuff as well and to see Freddie Sanchez, Pat Burrell, and Scutaro succumb to injuries.

    2. Good points, but I read that Buster and Crawford have full no trade clauses and Belt has a partial no trade clauses.


    3. Crawford is the only one to worry about with the no trade clause, Posey will waive for a trade to ATL and Belt has teams he cant veto. Might just make sense to trade everyone but Crawford. His contract isnt horrible and he would be a decent draw for the casual fan. The rest of this team can and should be blown up. Get a top 2-3 pick next season and go for it in free agency after next year
      -Just a fan

    4. No trade clauses can be waived - Buster might choose to move back to Georgia and Belt to a short porch RF anywhere. But Crawford is from Pleasanton and was born a Giants fan - he might live it out in SF, shift to 3B one day...OR... Posey comes back with his new hip and hits 30+ HRs and plays 1B for 5 more years (Belt can still go to short porch RF somewhere)

  8. There may be no value in keeping all the players mentioned above but such a fire sale would be seen as world class panic and the rest of the mlb would take advantage like nobody's business. Also, real world considerations such as season ticket sales, merchandising, etc. just can't be ignored. Billy Beane created a culture where that sort of stuff is expected but the Giants would be crazy to go down that path, as it would be a serious P.R. problem. IMO.

    That said, I agree that some of the players need to be moved but I also think trying to move all players the same year is ill-advised because, like other sports, some prospects years are better than others; so parse out the moves to see which youngsters are rising to the top the following year. I was reading Bill James over 30 years ago but I still believe in the "ineffable quality of goodness," and that means even with declining numbers, Posey brings a special kind of leadership that is irreplaceable. Would be nice to have in the clubhouse dudes with rings on their fingers. Maybe the Giants will be clever in ways I can't imagine but where Bumgarner is pitching in 2019, 2020 will say a lot...

    1. In addition, historically, trades are usually done by teams that believe that there is something wrong with the players they are trading, per research that was done by Matt Swarz, first in BP and then duplicated in Fangraphs. Those studies found that teams generally know what they got and why they are trading away a player, whether veteran or prospect, knowing that there are issues with the players being used in the trade.

      Thus, teams should not trade players if they still believe in the player. So just trading Bumgarner does not mean that it will yield great prospects 100%, you are more likely to get iffy players in return, unless the other team is also clearly just dumping good players (such as when Miami traded players; Yellich looks great). This depends on the scouting being top notch, and the way people who are angry about the Giants FO right now don't even trust the Giants scouts to find good prospects, which I presume applies to other team's prospects too.

      Again, people denigrate the Giants drafting abilities. I ran up against this in the mid-to-late 2000's and I myself was also bad mouthing the Giants abilities, until I studied the draft success rates. Everyone has been sold a shining fantasy world reality that first round draft picks are gold, but really, the vast majority are fool's gold.

      I've been studying them again, and plan on publishing sometime this off-season, but the success rate (using 18 WAR as the definition of when a player is good, and thus a successful starting player) is around 6-12% for the range the Giants have drafted in, since they started winning again regularly in 2009 (thus, drafts from 2010-2017). Using a 9% success rate (average of that) and the binomial probabilities, there is a very high rate, about a 55% chance rate, that it would not be usual that a team will end up with nothing in that stretch (with the Giants punting a draft pick there as well). And that ignores that this bad stretch just might be a regression to the norm after the extreme success of the Lincecum, Bumgarner, Posey draft picks.

      And one would get a sense of this futility if one examines the draft record of any team that won regularly during any period of time one chooses from the past. Pick any team (I did long ago when I first investigated this, A's, Braves, Yankees, and another team) who is viewed as a great team in evaluating players in the draft. For example, I looked at the Yankees recently, and Judge is a great find, but the Yankees hadn't found anybody with their first round pick since the mid-2000's, about 10 years before finding Judge.

    2. I agree that some players can teach the next generation. And the Giants FO believes in that too, bringing in specifically Morris to teach Cain, Randy Johnson to teach Sanchez, Renteria to pass along his "ineffable quality of goodness" to the position players.

      So I really don't see the Giants trading off Posey and Bumgarner away, just because other teams trade away veteran players when they are rebuilding. Heck, they went out and signed Winn, Molina, Zito, and Rowand during the last rebuilding period. The Braves recent rebuild saw them keep Freeman around for the next round, and signed Markakis, it was not all sell, sell, sell, there were some keeping and buying.

      People like to point out Posey's power decline, but nobody acknowledges that even with his power decline, he's still one of the best hitting catchers around, particularly for OBP, which any offense needs. And Bumgarner has declined in peripherals and velocity, but he's still pitching great. And he was great until the last month or so, which is more a sign of fatigue, which is possible because he couldn't throw for two months early in the season, rehabbing his finger, and thus his arm was not as conditioned as it normally is. I still believe in his ability to throw, and while I won't throw a $300M contract at him, I don't think that's necessary in today's market, I think a 5-7 year deal, at $25-30M should be enough to sign him, particularly since he has openly stated that he wants to stay, ideally. And I think, assuming no freak accident happens again in 2019, he will show that he's never been gone, just suffering the after effects of injuries.

    3. A 5 year/$125 M contract to Bumgarner is a terrible idea.

  9. Looking for creative ways for the Giants to improve with what they have without getting into greater financial hole in the FA market:

    Doug Latta. He's the swing coach that turned Justin Turner around. He also worked with Mac last off season. He also seems to be a pretty big fan of Hunter Pence. I'm wondering if Pence is going to work with this guy on overhauling his swing this off season.

    Obviously Latta had great success working with Turner. And then not as great results with Mac. One thing I noticed when reading about this:

    Turner said he worked 4 months on overhauling his swing. The entire 2012-13 off-season. 5-days a week, 8 hours a day, 4 months.

    Latta said he worked with Mac for 1 month.

    Maybe a double-down for Mac this off-season? Latta talks a lot about muscle memory taking hitters back to their old swing. I wonder if Mac's old habits in the Mac after he came back from injury this year.

    Anyway, I realize that moving the Giants towards adjusting swing plane is kind of chasing trends. And pitchers are adapting a bit. They are pitching up in the zone more these days to counter this. But, it seems to be working right now. The A's made a huge effort to adjust hitters this off-season, with pretty solid results.

    Turner's success fascinates me. He had a tremendous increase in results at the MLB level. Turner was on a path to be out of baseball by 2014. Instead he is an absolute monster. In comparing good hitters who've embraced swing plane, and they seem to just attack their AB's. It's very different from the Giants contact first, put the ball in play, keep the line moving mentality.

    Is there a strategy and process where the Giants could do the same?

    1. Mojo, in my opinion you have identified one way the Giants could squeeze value out of their current roster: turn a mid-range prospect (Like Williamson) into a valuable asset through a new development approach. It's a long shot, and their may be other long shot candidates on the roster, but it sure make sense to look for players that might by one big adjustment away from contributing.

    2. Mac had a concussion and according to a blog written by his girlfriend he never fully recovered from the injury at least not during the season. I still have hope he can return to form by next season. That would be a huge boost for the offense but you cannot count on that happening. I like the idea of looking at Doug Latta's approach. Could be something for the Giants to look at for any hitter is struggling. (That's a long list , unfortunately).

    3. Pence has already stated that he wants to be back next season, and as part of that, he's working with Latta during the off-season to make permanent changes to his swing to improve things.

      I saw that blog on Mac too. Basically, he came back too fast, and suffered from further and greater concussion symptoms. Anyone looking at that video of him hitting his head knew it had to be very serious, I know I'm no doctor, but his head hit that wall hard, and frankly, the Giants handling of concussions has been pretty bad over the years, I know the science is still new, but the fact is that guys have come back way too fast, and by now, one would think caution would be the way guys like Mac are handled today, after all the failures before.

    4. Pence said he wants to play baseball next season. He did not say anything about coming back to the Giants. The sendoff he got pretty much tells you his time with them is over.

    5. Sorry, that's what I meant, thanks for clarifying, Pence is not coming back to the Giants, but wants to be back in baseball next season, and is working towards that.

  10. Since Posey and Belt have just had surgery, trading either would be selling low right now. I also v much agree with etrain about Posey’s leadership, as does management, which often consults him, it seems. Crawford, who’s getting towards the age where he will cover less ground, isn’t likely to be hugely valuable either, even if he were to be wheedled into waiving his NTC. As Baggarly (I think) has noted, the Giants’ player assets other than Bumgarner lie in precisely those whom one does not want to trade, such as Rodriguez and Suarez. Maybe Smith or Watson . . . But “blowing up” the team profitably will be very difficult.

    1. I see that DrB has made exactly this point about Rodriguez and Suarez earlier in this thread— my apologies for repeating it.

    2. No problem, Campanari. Thank you for reading and posting comments.

  11. 4:57 PM
    One thing that the Giants need to do is learn to manufacture runs. How many times did they lead off with back to back singles, then the next guy tried to get a hit and instead grounded into a double play or struck out instead of sacrificing? How many times a runner on third with one or no outs and the batter either struck out or popped out on the infield (both signs that they were trying for a homerun)? Baseball is a game of the little things. If you can't do them, your team usually won't win games.

    1. Giants were actually 10'th in MLB in Sacrifice Hits and 13'th in Sacrifice Flies in 2018. They were 17'th in runners left in scoring position and 14'th in GIDP's.

      So, It's hard to make a case that situational hitting or executing "small ball" was their big problem.

  12. I think a good start to the rebuild could be trading Posey to ATL for a few of their top prospects and then trading Belt and Derrick Rodriguez to Texas for Joey Gallo. Trade MadBum before trade deadline next year and Panik for peanuts and voila you have your rebuild with probably 4-5 quality prospects, a huge power bat, and a ton of cap space to work with.

    1. Buster Posey does not have any significant excess value left on his contract. Same goes for pretty much all of their big longterm contracts. You might be able to trade those players but you are not going to get "...a prospects..." for them. Also, the Rangers are not going to trade Joey Gallo for Brandon Belt and Derrick Rodriguez.

    2. Texas has some history with the Giants recently with a few trades. Who ever thought they would have taken Matt Moore off our hands! Gallo has massive power but bats .220 and is defensively challenged so maybe they prefer a guy like Belt who is strong defensively at 1B and can hit for power in that ballpark. Texas is never short on power either so it wouldnt be a huge hit for them to lose Gallo. I could also see them valuing Rodriguez more than any other team because of his dad. Young controllable pitching is rare and Texas needs starting pitching as much or more than any other team. Seems like this trade isnt totally out of the question

    3. They took Matt Moore because they wanted the prospect who was attached to the deal. So if they want D-Rod, they might take on Belt.

      But the huge difference there is Moore was at best, a one year rental, because there were team options involved, whereas Belt's annual contract is twice as big, and longer commitment, so they will probably want money as well as another prospect or two.

      And you say this as if Belt won't hit like Gallo for power once with the Rangers, while Gallo will probably struggle with hitting in AT&T.

  13. Panik made $3.45M past year and has 2 more years of arbitration.
    Is he worth it?
    If not to the Giants, certainly not to anyone else.
    Choices: release, trade, sign.
    It's doubtful they can get anything -- nada -- in trade: his performance and injury history are not appealing. But, yiou never really know unless you ask.
    In any event, he IS a "good" guy. For the Giants, he's not a drag. He plays (can back-up) the entire infield and "might" rebound some if he can get and stay healthy. He's not a risk (what's $3M these days?). They have a couple months until they need to make a decision. They could test the market and/or negotiate a new contract, then decide what to do.
    He'll probably neither help them much nor hurt them much (other than a 40-man slot) whatever happens.
    If he is traded it would be for someone the other team doesn't want.
    Posey, Belt, & Crawford: they are the team leaders on the field and off: they ARE the faces of the team. Just check the commercials.
    They more or less earn their salaries (they have the 3 highest WARs on the team) and would help transition to the future, mentoring their replacements.
    The 7 big contracts in place are onerous but sustainable AND limit the FO from making foolish and expensive trades and/or acquisitions. If someone wants to overpay for anyone the Giants have under contract, do it, but transition the young guys in as they are ready.
    Sort of explore, but standpat, and dumpster dive.

    1. Anonymous, the approach you outline above virtually assures an 85+ loss season in 2019, 90+/- losses in 2020, both of which are rather baked in at this point, but more importantly, significantly sets back the search for hope. Bold action is needed, and it is needed now. It will be painful, but the alternative, barring a miracle, is a team with NO HOPE of contending until sometime around 2023. Had the Giants taken a serious, realistic look at the roster 12 months ago and traded Bumgarner to the Yankees or Atlanta for a king's ransom, our conversation today would be very different.

    2. I agree, 85+ 2019 is likely, but will "bold action" -- if it is possible -- work?
      Since the 2014 Winner, there have been a lot of acquisitions, many of them quite bold, but with no cigar:
      Longoria, McCutchen, Melancon, Cueto, Samardzija, Moore, Span, Nunez, Smith, Leake, McGehee, Jackson, Dyson, Aoki, as well as some less bold.
      85+ losses in 2019 wouldn't be pretty, but it is an improvement, and perhaps something to build on.
      With Cueto coming back, and whatever happens with Bumgarner, the Giants might be able to sign some impact FA for 2020 to bolster the 2018-2019 "new" guys.
      Unless woefully overpaid, it's improbable that a significant FA can be lured in 2019. Without the young corps coming through, 2019 doesn't look especially hopeful.
      Woefully overpaid along with unwise bold actions is a lot of the current problem.

    3. Anonymous, I submit that the Longoria trade was in no way bold, it was just plain ill advised. Nice player, but four more years at $17 million per - very bad idea, and will be a drag on the franchise. To pick a few others: McCutchen was a move with some possible upside, with little risk, but hardly bold. I surely wouldn't call the Melancon move bold, just expensive. Nothing bold about Nunez, Jackson, Span or Aoki moves. The Moore trade was bold, and as much as I loved Duffy, I liked the risk/reward on that one. The Dyson move was smart, but has not worked out as well as hoped, I think. The Smith trade was a good one. The Cueto signing was surely bold, and the Samardzija move was too bold, LOL. But, NOT ONE of the moves noted are in the universe of where the Giants need to go.

      Anything short of a complete rework of the roster, and we will be leaning heavily on Dr. B to keep us entertained, because the product on the field will be sub par. Who wants to watch Posey and Crawford toil in obscurity on a team that struggles to win 75 games? Folks, that is where this ship is headed.

    4. What is "bold"?
      Sorry, my point above wasn't that everything the Giants had done since 2014 was "bold" (many were at least close to bold) but they tried to patch the holes which had hurt them the previous year with as "bold" acquisitions as they could.
      It didn't work, and the signings, trades, and extensions made to keep the Giants competitive exhausted their ability to be competitive at the playoff level.
      They are saddled with the contracts they have -- without completely giving away the future they cannot get out of the structure they built trying to compete.
      None of the large contracts is worth its expense to anyone outside of the Giants. It is worth more to the Giants because the names will put butts in the seats.
      Anyone who is tradeable for future (potential) value will hurt the team in the short run and not guarantee a positive result.
      In the short run, 2019-2021, unless the young guns who auditioned this year over perform while the pricey veterans hold their own with probable declining performances, the Giants are destined to "7-lean" years (2015-2021) until Bart, Ramos, et al become the core that the Giants enjoyed for almost 7 years (including 2016 was almost a fat year -- they did have a wonderful 1st 90 games and made the playoffs).
      I don't see a solution that gets the giants to playoff caliber until the young guys come on line and perform. What are your bold moves to reverse the trend?

    5. First, let's agree that we both want what's best for the Giants, and we both come to this blog to enjoy a friendly exchange of ideas. Time will tell how this all plays out. Having said that, one statement you made above pretty much makes my point:

      "Sorry, my point above wasn't that everything the Giants had done since 2014 was "bold" (many were at least close to bold) but they tried to patch the holes which had hurt them the previous year with as "bold" acquisitions as they could."

      It's time to stop trying to patch holes, the Giants need a new boat.

      I disagree with your that none of the Giants large contracts is/are worth the expense. Nine of the ten teams in the playoffs are going to spend the off-season trying to figure out where they can improve. The Braves, a team with a ton of arm talent throughout their organization might see Buster Posey as the veteran presence behind the plate that might get them over the top, and if memory serves me, Georgia is home for Buster. I think you could make a case that Brandon Crawford could have a similar impact on the right team. By most accounts Belt has value. Will Smith has value, for sure, and to a lesser extent, so does Tony Watson. If you buy into the idea that because of their ballpark, the Giants have to buy pitching and develop hitting, particularly power hitting, the Giants could trade Andrew Suarez or Derek Rodriguez. I would argue Ty Blach has some value as well.

      In other words, nothing should be off the table. I am not talking plugging holes bold, I am talking - sorry Larry - rebuild the franchise bold.

      Finally, you will note I did not mention Madison Bumgarner above. The reason is that keeping him is not even an option. Because, the Giants can't resign him. It would make no sense. I am speaking of one of my top five Giants of all time. But, he along with his way below market deal for 2019, is WAY, WAY more valuable to a true WS contender than he is to the Giants.

      Bold is turning the Giants' world upside down, and betting heavily on the scouting department to identify a bunch of lottery tickets that can be acquired through trades. Bold is recognizing the Posey, Crawford, Belt and Bumgarner on a 75 win team is worse, and more painful than watching a really young team win 65 games. Bold is going to the fan base and asking them to buy in. Bold is accepting the reality of a couple of really lean years, as a trade-off for hope. Bold is feeling the excitement of watching young talent develop, and sometimes feeling the pain of young talent washing out.

      No going bold is a 5-7 year wasteland with not only very few wins, but worse, with no hope.

      Bold is the way to go.

    6. I think with some creativity and better luck with injuries, the Giants could contend in 2019. They'll have to take some risks to do it and risks that didn't work out are what got Bobby Evans fired.

    7. The talent gap between the Giants and four of the five 2018 NL playoff teams is huge. The Braves, the Brewers, the Cubs and the Dodgers are simply way more talented, and the Braves, Brewers and Dodgers all have top-10 farms systems to fill holes and provide depth. The Rockies have a good farm system, but have some contract issues to deal with. The Padres have a boatload of young talent. I won't say the Giants couldn't content if a whole bunch of things go near perfectly, but the odds are long.......really long. Worse, one more year of kicking the can down the road and the Giants are digging deeper into a horribly ugly hole out of which they will need to climb at some point.

    8. The Giants are in a tough position. They are not in great shape for a full teardown. As you have pointed out, their only trading chip that would bring significant talent in return is Bumgarner. The rest are not going to bring much in return and the Giants would likely have to pick up a large portion of the salaries.

      A teardown/rebuild would likely take a minimum of 5 years with no guarantees after that. The Giants are not going to do that, so there is not much point in beating that dead horse.

    9. Doc, I agree, it's not likely the Giants are going to tear down and rebuild, and I know I am beating a dead horse. But, the immediate question facing the Giants is, who is the person willing to accept the GM job and take on this fool's errand?

      As for tear down, if the Giants were to take that approach, money is all it would take to get good returns for Crawford and Posey. Belt likely has standalone value, and lots of value if the Giants take back money. I think the Giants, if they got creative, could squeeze more out of some of their guys than you think. Just one guys opinion, and as you say, it's beating a dead horse.

    10. For the record I did say Large contracts (> $12M/yr), and there are 7 of them, and I said the players are not worth their cost to anyone else -- if money has to be sent along to trade a player, that kinda confirms they aren't worth their contract to the receiving team.
      Belt is a possible exception but at $17.2 M/yr on the north side of 30 with multiple injuries the last 2 years, IMO you would get long shot players in return for someone willing to take the risk.
      Atlanta hasn't done anything stupid lately and has young talent which will get better with experience, with or without Posey.
      Crawford has begun his decline but may get another GG because he is good -- just not as good, and he's unlikely to get better at 32 or 33.
      Perhaps one or two of the seven plus Bumgarner are going to have a spurt and improve for a year, but their general directions are all the same: down.
      If $200 Million won't buy a contender, will $220 Million?

    11. With this comment, I am going to put a lid on this discussion. Seems like there is more than 1 dead horse being beaten here.

      Notice: Any more comments in this thread will not be posted unless they significantly move it forward.

    12. Hopefully this passes your sniff test.

      I'm with DrB that the Giants can contend in 2019. As he astutely noted in his post, the Giants were basically a .500 team headed into September. But the pitching has been outstanding since June began, at one point they were first in the majors in ERA. With a good pitching rotation to build around, and relatively good bullpen, all you need is some offense to win with that in 2019, which is what they did in 2009-2012.

      The major problem with the Giants in the second half of 2018 was that there was mostly just two good hitters in the lineup, in McCutchen and Posey. Longoria was injured (freak injury) then recovering, then trying to figure out how to hit in AT&T. Both Belt and Crawford had leg injuries that held them back for most if not all of the second half. Duggar was starting to be an offensive contributor, then got injured. But the rest of the players did not hit for much at all.

      I think if the Giants can sign a good bat, and most of the hitters can play a good part of the season, the team can win with the pitching they got.

    13. How about Machado (he and Crawford can figure out how they'll play it) and a next-best Harper to get some pop in the outfield?
      (testing a different name -- does it work?)

  14. Larry Baer: "... the new front office will not be tasked with or permitted to rebuild the franchise."
    Thanks to DrB, we all knew this: It's not the Giants way.
    The 2010-2014 run came from within with savvy, economical additions -- signings and trades -- but the core was homegrown: Posey (of course), Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Sandoval, Wilson, J Sanchez, & Romo, then Belt, Crawford, & Panik. Rare was the HIGH cost addition decisive. Great trades were made for Pagan, Cabrera, Sanchez, Scutaro, Lopez, & Pence plus dumpster diving for quality relievers.
    You need the core to build upon: who are they to be? It's late for revival of to 30+ crowd, so it's coming up sometime, whether Duggar, Slater, Williamson, Shaw, & Jones develop until Ramos, Bart, and the recent picks arrive.
    I don't see Posey, Belt, Crawford, and the QUALITY pitchers, not yet anyway.

    1. “...will not be....permitted to rebuild.”

      The shear arrogance of that statement...

      The emperor is always the last to know he’s naked.

  15. According to a report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Ben Cherington has removed himself from consideration for the Giants GM job, though he is open to other opportunities. It may mean nothing, or it may suggest that the involvement of the Giants ownership group (we re-tool, we don't rebuild) is viewed as a rather unattractive prospect for talented baseball guys that don't want to be hamstrung by suits that just aren't good baseball minds.

  16. Where do you see this statement in Baer’s Annual Message, Mojo? Have you read it?


    2. This is a tendentious summary, not the message itself. Anyone who even dips into the turbid waters of MCC learns, or should learn, to go to the site writer’s source document(s) rather than trust what s/he finds there.