The Rockies preview--by Troy Renck of the The Denver Post--is up. Mr. Renck also has a piece on his blog where he talks to the ESPN guys (Rick Sutcliffe, Orel Hershiser, and our very own Jon Miller) who all say the Rox are the team to beat. Talk is cheap, eh? The regular season has a way of making fools of everyone, doesn't it?
Silly me, I did not realize the Giants were still negotiating with Jeremy Affeldt. He signed a 2-year, $8M deal before last season, this gives him a raise to $4.5M for this season and adds an option year (2011), which bumps up to $5M or a $0.5M buyout. Affeldt was brilliant last season and a huge part or our success in close games. My red flags are (1) relief pitchers show a lot of variation from year-to-year, and (2) he walks a lot of guys (35 in 62-1/3 IP). In fact, Affeldt averages about 4 BB per 9 IP for his career. His success last year was due to his ability to get ground balls. His career GB% is 48.8, but the last three seasons look like this: 53.0, 54.4, 65.0. Affeldt coaxed 102 ground balls from 248 batters, only giving up 29 fly balls and 26 line drives. (Note that GB% is GB per balls in play.) He also stranded 86.4% of the runners he inherited, an astonishing figure (career 70.2%), and one that seems very difficult to repeat.
I'm not sure why the Giants felt it necessary to extend a guy who was under contract already and being paid a premium (for a reliever) wage, but they did. Then again, I'm often bewildered by our front office. Nonetheless, expect to see "Lights-out" Affeldt in lots of high-leverage situations in 2010, just like 2009. CHONE projects a 3.61 FIP, very close to his career-lows of 3.66 (2008) and 3.59 (2009). His career mark is 4.17, so maybe this is a case of a fellow learning to pitch to his strengths and getting better with age and experience. If Sergio Romo and Dan Runzler can complement Jeremy Affeldt and Brian Wilson, we could have a very good bullpen.