Monday, December 19, 2011

Eli Whiteside ... Really?

I assume that the collective lack of activity on the blog during the last few days is because we have all been reeling from the stunning news that the Giants have signed Eli Whiteside to a major league contract. Not a minor league contract, like the Marlins gave Aaron Rowand, but a major league, occupy a 40-man roster spot & block a perhaps legit player, contract. Let's mull this one over:

- Eli Whiteside's biggest claim to fame is his silly hairdo.
- In 2010, Eli Whiteside was the ultimate in 'right place at the right time'. He earned a lot of money, a trip to White House, & multiple valuable prizes for not playing a single inning of the NLDS, NLCS, & WS.
- In 2011, in a career high 236 AB's, he hit .197.
- In 2011, he was the worst hitter in baseball from July onward (when the Giants really needed him).
- His career OBP is .274.
- Hitting is his strong suit.

To put it plainly, if Buster Posey were to have some sort of setback (or merely needed a few days off), is Eli Whiteside a person you would want in-the-mix to pick up the pieces?

Having said that, here is my take on the catching situation:

Chris Stewart

- As I've mentioned, ever since the days of Tim McCarver & Steve Carlton, I've detested the notion of a 'personal Catcher'. Therefore, I detest the notion that Chris Stewart is Tim Lincecum's personal Catcher. The Manager has to put the best lineup on the field every day, & it is his decision based upon lots of factors. It should not the Pitcher's decision, & every Pitcher should be ready to pitch to every Catcher.
- Chris Stewart is almost as anemic a hitter as Eli Whiteside.
- Chris Stewart has a reputation as a great defensive Catcher, but that reputation seems to be based upon a handful of flashy throws. I remember an equal number of disastrously wild & ill-timed throws. I don't buy that Chris Stewart is a great Catcher.
- Chris Stewart is not the answer.

Hector Sanchez

- Hector Sanchez appears to be able to hit, so that offers hope.
- Hector Sanchez apparently is an OK Catcher, but nothing great.

There are no compelling reasons to keep either Whiteside or Stewart. If I were calling the shots, I would be finding a reliable veteran backup, plus sticking with Sanchez. If we go with 3 Catchers, Sanchez stays up. If we don't, Sanchez goes to Fresno.

Of course, now we have committed $600,000/$175,000 &, more importantly, a 40-man roster spot, to Whiteside, so, once again, we have tied up some resources on a player with little to offer.

(Affeldt $ + Fontenot $ + Mota $ + Whiteside $ almost gets you a Beltran ... would you rather have Beltran/Runzler/Burriss/Hembree on the ML Roster or Whiteside/Affeldt/Fontenot/Mota? This is a question in all seriousness, because we are already going to be paying Runzler, Burriss, & Hembree anyway. In my opinion, that trio is almost as good as Affeldt, Fontenot, & Mota, while Beltran obviously represents a significant upgrade over Whiteside.)


M.C. O'Connor said...

The Giants aren't going to squeeze dollars to sign Beltran. He's not part of the plan. Affeldt is. He's important. The Giants are built on pitching and are willing to pay for specialty guys.

I'm not excited about Whiteside, either, but catching talent in the universe is scarce, and you gotta stock up, even it is marginal. Hector Sanchez turned 22 in November. He's younger than Crawford, Belt, Gillaspie, and Burriss. All of those guys are still learning how to play.

The team is expecting a lot from Buster Posey and they don't expect they'll need much from the backup spot. (Eli, Stewart, Sanchez, they are just interchangeable stopgaps.) And I think Buster is going to deliver. I think he will make the single biggest impact and do the most to improve the team. (MadBum will be the next biggest.)

And yes, I'd rather have Fontenot than Burriss. I like MannyB, but he has yet to hit a ball past an infielder in his career. I'm sure it is some kind of record.

And don't dis on WillyMo.

nomisnala said...

I think 5 million for Affeldt was quite steep as was 4.5 million of Lopez. I like having these guys, especially when Affeldt is not in one of his lack of control slumps. They were quick to trade Ramirez, who was just as good as these guys but pitched from the right side. My guess was that he would have been cheaper. Giants spent top dollar for mediocre or poor talent, but will not even try to get a good deal on premium talent. Rollins was signed for 3 years and 33 million. Tell me that would not have been a decent move to sign for even a tad above that as he is a west coast guy and would have been a great addition. Beltran would be a great signing for 2 or 3 years. If Belt turns out to be Votto, then maybe we wont need Beltran, but if not, the lack of Beltran could mean the lack of playoffs, especially without a legit 5th starter.

nomisnala said...

By the way, Whiteside should have gone to Kansas City, as he is Jonathan Sanchez's catcher, and with Sanchez trying to get Whiteside to Kansas, Kansas said, sorry Jonny, we want you, not that minor league catcher.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Eli is a Deadhead--that has to count for something.

Ron said...

Mark, back in the day, we could count on you for outrage & vitriol. It was like the sun rising in the morning ... it was a given. [There was also a time that you could be counted upon for poo-pooing quality pitching in favor of the 3-run HR - gladly, that era has passed.] But, I do miss the vitriol era.

Now, you seem to defend nearly every decision taken by the Giants' Front Office, no matter how nonsensical it may be. The following are 2 of the most glaring recent examples:

"I think a guy like Javier Lopez is more valuable on the Giants than Carlos Beltran." (Yes, I know that you went on to say that you like Beltran.)

"The Giants aren't going to squeeze dollars to sign Beltran. He's not part of the plan. Affeldt is. He's important. The Giants are built on pitching and are willing to pay for specialty guys."

It occurred to me that you're just writing these things to be provocative. It also occurred to me that you actually believe this stuff.

Don't get me wrong - I love that the Giants are built on pitching, & I recognize the importance of specialist relievers. Tight, 1-0, games are among my all-time favorites. But, Javier Lopez & Jeremy Affeldt are not more important to any team than someone who is a starter & a heavy-hitting contributor to a team in dire need of heavy hitting.

Javier Lopez had 53 IP in 2011 & has a career-high of 59. Jeremy Affeldt had 62 IP in 2011 &, as a reliever, has a career high of 78.

In the new-fangled statistics, here is how it breaks down in WAR. Each of these players has played around the same number of seasons. The first number is 'Career WAR', the second number is '2011 WAR', the third number is 'Highest Ever Single-Season WAR':

Javier Lopez - 3.2 / 0.7 / 0.9
Jeremy Affeldt - 8.2 / 0.2 / 2.9
Carlos Beltran - 61.7 / 4.7 / 7.9

Now, stats are stats & nothing more. But, another consideration should be the differential in performance between a Lopez or an Affeldt & a comparable younger Pitcher compared to the difference in salary. I postulate that $9.5M for Lopez & Affeldt is a luxury on a Team with a total payroll of $130M, because Runzler & someone else young could do almost as good a job for a total of around $1M. New stat $AR (dollars above replacement) - Lopez/Affeldt are perhaps not $8.5M above replacement, but not much less than that.

I realize that the fact that we had our moment of glory in 2010 has had a mellowing effect on all of us. But, as I've expressed before, there was an element of luck & alignment of the stars involved in winning a title with the squad that we did. Certainly, there were some shrewd draft picks involving our starting Pitchers, our Closer, & our Catcher, too. There is no denying that. There is also no denying that we made some good veteran pickups, particularly in the bullpen.

However, with the exception of Sandoval (& it remains to be seen whether he is going to be excellent for the long-haul), we still have not developed a consistently successful major league IF or OF for some time.

Ron said...


As I've continued to rant about for some time now, winning & getting rich should result in spending in order to keep winning. The chances that we're going to stumble into another title are close to nil - it just doesn't happen often. We need to improve our odds by investing. We still haven't wrapped up Cain or Lincecum. Forgetting about Beltran, I'd rather have the differential of $8.5M back to put toward that.

If our Starters have to endure another season of constantly having to make the perfect pitch, they are going to get sick of it & leave. So, that makes the strategy of 'pinching pennies on hitting because the master plan is pitching' kind of moot. The only viable way to prevent that is to put some firepower in the lineup. Right now, we've marginally improved things, while counting on:

- A solid return by Buster (I happen to think that that one will happen).

- A solid return by F. Sanchez (less of a sure thing).

- Brandon Belt to produce regularly (maybe).

- Nate Schierholtz to produce regularly (maybe).

- Brandon Crawford to produce something (maybe).

We had the power to turn at least one of those 'maybes' into a 'near certainty'. We are going to count our money instead.

And, I disagree that Whiteside, Stewart, & Sanchez are interchangeable stopgaps. Barring a full-on maturing of Sanchez, yes, they are interchangeable. But, they are not stopgaps - they are garbage. A stopgap would be a veteran Catcher with some skills & savvy. The Phillies keep signing Brian Schneider for a reason - he would be a good example of the kind of player I'm talking about.

JC Parsons said...

Been quiet for awhile, but I figured I might chime in on this one.

Mark is right. Our pitching, even our relief pitching, is more important than a washed up old injury prone OK hitter (yes, I mean Beltran). Why so much love for the dude? He cost us WAY TOO MUCH and did nothing but guarantee we were out of it. He was and still is damaged goods. Our season effectively ended the minute he arrived...if you remember he went into a horrible slump and only recovered when we were out of it. He refused to play left, which was STUPID and hurt the team. Beltran is a horrible match to the team and I definitely would rather have Lopez and Affeldt (both of whom have helped win a world championship, something Beltran will never do.) Enough said?
I also totally disagree with the idea that 2010 was a fluke or "lightning in a bottle." Pitching like that is not a fluke. Last year was more of the fluke with rididculous injuries and carrer lows. As long as we don't over react and start trading pitching for mediocre hitting (hello, Angel and Melky) we will contend again. Any team with Tim, Matt and MadBum is a factor. Add in Pablo and Buster and we are OK!

Ron said...

Hi Jon! Hope that you, Robyn, Mark, Sue, Dan, Akemi, & Bob have a wonderful Holiday time! And, all of the other RMC characters, too!

Yes, Beltran was injured for awhile, but I don't think that I was imagining it when he was stroking line drives all over the ballpark - more line drives than the rest of the team put together.

I suppose that the main unanswered question is how $9.5M (on a poor under-funded team like us) is better spent on Lopez/Affeldt than on half a season of Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum. There's no comparison.

Getting to the post-season while on a roll is what it's about, & we did that in 2010. That is something hard to repeat. All that I'm asking is that we do something to try to increase the likelihood of it happening again. Paying 2 lefty specialists nearly $10M (almost 8% of our annual supposed payroll cap) on one day is bad math.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I like vitriol. I'm down with vitriol. But I gotta feel it, man. And I ain't feelin' it. I like this team. I really do. I really would rather have Affeldt and Lopez than Beltran. It's crazy, I know. But that's what it is. I'm laying down the truth, O my Brothers.

Shankbone said...

Hey Guys - my 2 cents. Love Beltran's bat for sure. But his baserunning has dropped to nothing as far as SBs, his defense looked pretty bad this past year and is a far cry from his youth. I think the Giants have looked hard at the situation, and are happy with the range, the ability to go to first/third without worrying about 35 year old repaired knees. Its a hard call, because when he was on, he looked good.

Total the money up, who knows. If some team snags him on a prove it deal Bad Sabean! Bad Sabean! But if he ends up getting 3/30-36, I can let this one go.

Pagan is better than you've heard. And Melky is trying not to wash out of baseball. Both guys are on 1 year deals and are heads above Coco Crisp or David Dejesus. Sabean moved sideways and maybe just maybe he moved up as well and finally got athletic as he has claimed he wanted to for years. I like the speed as opposed to station to station of Burrell/Ross/Rowand. Calculated gamble for sure, because Beltran hit well. But if Belt can supplement this new found speed?

M.C. O'Connor said...

Yeah, I agree with Shank. The moves (Cabrera, Pagan) were lateral. Both are younger than Ross, Torres, Burrell, etc. Both look like steady if unspectacular performers, but that's the OF m.o. in SF and it works for me. They don't have to be stars--just above average with some athleticism and versatility and durability. The stars on this club are on the hill and at 3B and C. And maybe 1B and SS down the road.

Beltran was a gamble for 2011, one I was behind at the time. It didn't work out, but that's what happens in real life. This is the big leagues--you gotta roll the dice. I think Beltran would be great to have, but he's not as important as he was last year when they had nothing at all. The only guy with 500+ PAs in 2011 was Huff (.676 OPS!). The rest of the team was out with injuries, yet they won 86 games. I think the biggest weakness on the team is a lack of power (I still loves me 3-run HRs), but that may come around. A little bit each from Sandoval, Posey, Cabrera, Huff, Belt is not unreasonable. A mid-season pickup will likely happen, too. As long as the arms are healthy and the 'pen stocked with studs I'm happy.

You want bad math? Zito/Rowand is bad math. And the "savings" when those guys come off the books for good is already pencilled in for arb and FA deals for core players.

Zo said...

JP rises like a Phoenix and speaks truth!

In MOC's defense, saying that the Giants are not going to squeeze payroll to sign Beltran is not parroting the party line, it is simply reading the very obvious tea leaves. And it was obvious from the announcement that they signed Melky Cabrera. It was Beltran or a bunch of other stuff and they went with the other stuff option. I find it fascinating that Beltran has not been signed, has hardly even been mentioned, and I scour MLB Traderumors regularly. It is not one of these Scott Boras drag-it-out-until-the-last-minute sort of things like Prince Fielder, he may be asking too long or too much or may just be viewed as AL DL material at this point in his career (although I saw some linkage with the Pujols-less Cardinals). I have to admit, I will be second guessing the Giants' wisdom if he signs for 2 years at 9 mil per, but that hasn't happened yet. We signed Affeldt and Lopez because good, left handed relief is hard to come by.

Here is something to make spirits bright:

Zo said...

Other relevant statistics. The first stat represents career WARLGP, the second is 2011 WARLGP, the third is highest ever WARLGP*

Ian Ross** 5.6/1.6/2.1
John Foster*** 3.1/0.4/1.3
Carlos Santana 22.7/4.0/5.1****

* Wins Against Replacement Lead Guitar Player
** An excellent musician I saw last night in a play.
*** A guy at work who plays guitar but is not really in a full time band.
****2011 stats enhanced by excellent rant against Georgia and Arizona.