Saturday, March 30, 2013

Here Come the Champs

I'm going to Opening Day this year. My lovely friend Deann and the baseball gods conspired to find me a pair of tickets for Friday's game. The Giants will take the field as the World Fucking Champions. It will be awesome. I remember the feeling from Opening Day 2011 (those tickets also courtesy of Deann!) and I want to feel it again. I've been a Giants fan since I was seven years old, and that was the best time I ever spent in a ballpark. The Giants were number one in the world! What could be better? Let's see, how about doing it again? Yeah, I think so. Stay tuned!

Buster Posey signed the biggest deal in Giants history and I think, after all the excitement has worn off, that you could call it "team-friendly." Sure, a nine-year deal for anyone is a huge risk. Ballplayers are mortal, and they break down. There is a good chance Johan Santana, for example, will never pitch again after his latest setback. But I think the Giants did the right thing with Posey. If you want to go "all-in" on a guy, he looks like the best bet. Obviously teams are swimming in money as these long-term deals for "franchise players" are becoming increasingly common. It's hard to put a value on wins, but one fellow argues that they are worth about $6M apiece. When you look at the final years of Buster's contract ($21.4M per year for 2017-2021) that's about 3.6 WAR (in 2012 dollars) for five seasons for a total of 18 "wins above replacement." I think there are two certainties: things will cost more in 2017, and the Giants can afford it. Here's a graph:

The Giants are willing to open their wallets and spend what it takes to compete. This year's $132M may not be complete, that's just what Cot's Contracts says the team is already on the hook for (all the numbers are from Cot's). Buster will be 30 at the start of the 2017 season. Through ages 30-34, Mike Piazza racked up roughly 21 WAR. Ivan Rodriguez, over the same span, 17, Jason Varitek 13, Jason Kendall 10, and Bengie Molina 6 (B-R). Rod Barajas, at age 35, gave the 2011 Dodgers 1.4 WAR in 98 games, and Yorvit Torrealba, age 31, gave the 2010 Padres 2.6 WAR in 95 games. If you can catch and hit near league average you are very valuable. Even if Posey moves to first base, you figure he can hit at least well enough to add 3 WAR, which would put him on par with a guy like Mark Teixeira (who makes over $22M now). I like the deal. It works for the Giants as not only is Buster absurdly marketable, he's only making $3.7M this season (Javier Lopez makes more) and $11.3M next season. Even if he winds up being "expensive" down the road, I think he will more than deliver on his "expected" value. I remember when I thought the Aaron Rowand and Barry Zito contracts would be anchors around the neck of the club, preventing them from spending money where they needed to. Then they won two World Series titles in three seasons. So, I don't worry about that any more.

Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner will be here through 2017. Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean will be around through 2016--that's a good thing. So will Angel Pagan. After that, Marco Scutaro, Jeremy Affeldt, and Santiago Casilla are signed through 2015. Ryan Vogelsong, Sergio Romo, and Pablo Sandoval each have another year after this one. The Brandons won't be free agents until 2018. The only real question mark is Timmy--this is his contract year, he will be a free agent this fall. I hope he is still a part of the plan. Speaking of plans, I plan to enjoy this club one hell of a lot.




Brother Bob said...

Wow, have a ball on Friday. I'm jealous. I don't think I've ever been to an opening day. Maybe in the 70s when we usually sucked and opening day was no big deal really. The first game of the season has to be sometime, right?
You know what I hate a lot? Those fucking military fly-overs at important games, like when a squadron of B52s happens to pass through all at once. What an immense waste of money, and how many tons of CO2 are being dumped into the atmosphere? Besides, we need to de-militarize America. Who are we at war with? Suicide bombers? You don't need B52s for them.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Well, they are F-18s, I believe. (B-52s are long range bombers.) Based out of Lemoore NAS these days? I'm pretty sure there are no more active fighter wings in the Bay Area. I know it's jingoism run amuck, but they are awesome. It's like the hand of god reaching down out of the sky. We got hit with one when the Park opened in 2000. Sheesh, I thought I was going to have a heart attack as I was not expecting them, and they came from the land side, not the Bay side. Man, those guys can fly. You gotta be one cool cat to handle all that speed and power and fly that close to another aircraft. I saw the USAF Thunderbirds at an air show when I was a kid and one of them crashed and was killed! I was really little. I think they found out later that the airframe failed under the stress of the maneuvers.

I've heard that the flyovers will likely be dropped at most events due to the "sequester" cuts.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Plenty of money in the MLB these days. The rich get richer, man, and the proles like us hang on to what we've got.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Giants keep journeyman catcher (31 years old) Guillermo Quiroz on the 25-man roster and only go with four OFs (Belt, I suppose, is the 5th). Interesting. Tells me Posey will get lots of breaks from catching duties, or that Hector Sanchez is not fully healed. Quiroz has 8 years in the bigs but only 100 games played.

Nick Noonan (!!!) is the final infielder, I imagine he's the go-to backup at 2nd base. He played a lot of SS in the minors so he's around in case anything bad happens to BCraw. You have to figure we will see a lot of Arias at 3B with Panda's wonky elbow.

Chad Gaudin earned the final 'pen spot. He's this year's Mota: mop-up man. Ten years in the bigs, over 300 games, 700+ innings, several dozen starts, and only 30 years old.

Shankbone said...

Thanks for busting out some 30 year old catcher comps. Buster seems to differentiate himself with his work ethic.

Enjoy the game! Should be pretty amazing.