Sunday, December 1, 2013

Vogie's Back

The Giants reached a deal with Ryan Vogelsong for 2014 and he seems to be the final piece of their starting rotation. With Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner at the head and the Tims in the middle, the fifth spot might have been a free-for-all among Yusmeiro Petit, Eric Surkamp, and a host of minor-leaguers. I think the only thing preventing Vogie from taking his turn will be his health, that is, I don't expect he'll be fighting for a job. (Chad Gaudin, I believe, is a free agent, and it doesn't seem like the Giants are interested.)

I'm happy with the move. I don't understand why they didn't just pick up his option instead of re-negotiating, but that's why Brian Sabean, Bobby Evans, and the rest of the crew run the roster, not me. Things look good, don't you think? Cain will be Cain again, like he was in the second half, and Bumgarner is only 23 and still getting better. That's a formidable 1-2 punch, and newly-acquired Tim Hudson is a perfect fit. This guy is a ground ball/quality start machine. Tim Lincecum is the big question mark for most people, but I'm not one of them. Last year I saw a guy recovering his form and mastery of the game. He may never again be The Franchise, but he'll be really good, and may even be great. The way this team works, any one of the four front men could be the ace for a series or a stretch--they've all been in that role and all have it on their résumés. And lest we forget, in 2012 Ryan Vogelsong was the best of the bunch in the post-season! It's almost always about injuries, and if the Big Five are healthy all year long I don't see why they can't be among the best in baseball.

I'm not worried about the rest of the pieces. They'll add some depth in the outfield and the bullpen, but the guys they got is the guys they got, and they're the ones they're going with. Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Marco Scutaro, and Brandon Crawford will all be there, as will Gregor Blanco, Joaquin Arias, and Hector Sanchez. Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo will be back, too.

What say you, mates? What do the 2014 Giants need to do before Opening Day on March 31st?

--M.C.

24 comments:

nomisnala said...

I think getting Gaudin back will be a smart move. He is a good pitcher and is a lifetime winner as a starter. He and Petit make a formidable duo for long relief, or fill in starter. I would like a decent hitting left fielder and would be willing to try Pill at first and Belt in left, as long as Belt gets some playing time in left perhaps in the winter leagues and in spring training.

nomisnala said...

Lincecum would become more formidable in the close games if he 1. does not walk so many batters, and 2. learns to hold guys on base. Perhaps he should just pitch from the stretch so he does not walk the leadoff batter from the windup as he has done so often.

Shankbone said...

I would say they need a backup to Scutaro and Sandoval more than anything else. So what will they do? Sign some more pen arms!

It would be nice to have a IF/OF guy who could play multiple positions. The only guys on the FA market with that profile are... A Hairston (forget which one) and Willie Bloomquist.

LF can be solved by a dumpster dive, a trade or one of our minor league guys stepping up. And Blanco is pretty sweet if you look at every metric except power/slg. And maybe BA. And Left handers.

I'm psyched for the Vogey signing. You look at Phil Hughes getting 3 years and you understand why it happened.

Zo said...

Hmmm.
Matt, Tim, Maddy, an ex-A and Vogie. Sounds familiar.

I read today where Francisco Peguero and Sandy Rosario have been non-tendered so will become free agents. I kind of liked Rosario. Didn't seem like he would set the world on fire, but a capable fill-in when we needed him.

nomisnala said...

One bad cog in the lineup can cost a bunch of games. Perez/Blanco can field, but unless Perez starts to hit with some consistency, the offense will suffer, we already have Brandon Crawford in the lineup. For a team without much homerun power, we need guys that can keep the line moving and to have two slots in the lineup with guys who hit approx. 250 or less, can be a real downer for a team without power.

ogc obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

I think the purpose of buying out Vogelsong and then getting him back was to give the team time and options.

Clearly, they like Vogelsong, else they would not have signed him back. The way I see it, the signing of Hudson enabled the Giants to resign Vogelsong.

As the Giants noted at the time Vogie was bought out, they said that they needed more time. I think the issue is that Vogie is a question mark to a degree, and so the key was this: who were they going to add to the rotation? As much as they might like Vogie back, if they were unable to sign someone who they felt was good enough to pair up with Vogie to represent an improved rotation, in the Giants estimation, then they would have to move on.

Think of it this way: if Vogie is a 2 out of 5, where 3 is average, then they needed to pair him with a 4 like Hudson. If they were unable to sign a 4, then they would have to get two 3's and let Vogie go.

Obviously, one bad cog in any lineup could cost a bunch of games.

The real question however is whether the current lineup as is will score enough to win with our pitching. If you look at the teams that score better than average, most have one bad cog (or more) in their lineup. That's because most teams don't have the money (nor free agents available) to fill up their lineup with good hitters. So for the Giants its LF, for other teams they have their bad cog too.

I'm not worried about Crawford, he was one of the team's leading hitters until he got injured, then was battling the after effects for most of the rest of the season.

However, one bad thing is that Perez has a reverse platoon, hitting RHP better than LHP in recent years. Could just be SSS, as he did better in his first seasons vs. LHP, still, something to worry about.

ogc obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Oh, and with the current lineup, assuming Blanco as the starting LF, works out to a 4.56 runs scored per game, based on Bill James handbooks hitter's predictions.

That gets the Giants to 86 wins with last year's pitching. Getting the overall runs allowed down to 4.00 gets us to 90-91 wins.

Assuming Hudson can get us something in the high 3's, Cain continues to be his normal dominant self that he was in the second half, and Vogie is improved, that looks very doable to me.

Ron said...

Dodgers continue to re-define 'overpay' - Wilson $10M/year w/ a player option for the 2nd year. That's quite a lot of money for a guy who isn't considered to be their Closer. Hopefully, it will backfire on them.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Thanks, OGC, I think that's a reasonable answer to the Vogie question. And I am not really worried about the lineup--I think a 4th OF type to pair with Blanco will work. And having Blanco around to spell Pagan in CF (or even Pence in RF) will be a nice bonus. He's a good player in the right role. Agree about BCraw--I think if he's healthy his bat will be fine.

Sandoval, to me, is the key. If he stays healthy, he's a real force. With a more mature Belt, healthy Pagan and Posey, and Pence in the mix I think the Giants will be fine.

LA has money to burn, Ron. Can't see how a few mil here or there will hurt them. And we know how valuable late-inning relievers are. The market is "inflated" because of the new TV deals. Get used to a new salary floor. What seem like an overpay is just the latest cost of doing business.

ogc obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Sorry MC, I was responding to nomisnala regarding the lineup.

Wow, no wonder Wilson was OK returning to LA, $10M and he gets to stay at home and rebuild his value further in the majors. More importantly for BWeez, he can do more off-beat entertainment appearances like he likes to do.

Plus, didn't Kenley have some sort of health issue - something about his heart - at one point? Wilson could grab the closer role at that point should that recur. So Colletti was smart to keep Wilson by overpaying him some, just in case.

In any case, this fits in with what a lot of saber say, you want to have your best pitcher going earlier if necessary, and now he can come in the 7th or 8th when the leverage point is very high with runners on base, and shut down the threat.

Zo said...

$10 million for a guy that pitched for about 2 months in the past 3 years? Sounds rich. Either Colletti is a genius or this is just another LA spend-fest because they can. Either way, it makes me wonder about whether our relief needs tinkering. Sabean historically has been good at not standing pat on relief, and some indications (such as how our starters' eras jumped this past year because inherited runners were not held) indicates that standing pat will not be enough. And Sabean, in his oblique way, indicated as much here: http://www.sfgate.com/giants/shea/article/G-M-expects-Vogelsong-to-start-sees-no-big-moves-5036576.php. Which still leaves us with left field. Even with the Hudson for Zito swap (which is really all the Giants have done), it seems as though one of the primary Giants needs has not been addressed, that is, what are we to do with left field?

This is from Zach Links at mlbtraderumors.com (10/17/13)(http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2013/10/offseason-outlook-san-francisco-giants.html).
The Giants will have to go out and find a left fielder or a first baseman, depending on where they slot Brandon Belt. Brett Pill is the understudy at first base and while he wouldn't be a terrible choice, San Francisco would probably look out-of-house for an alternative or competitor. Gregor Blanco's solid glove helped him to a 2.8 WAR, but if he's slotted as the every day left fielder, he won't offer much in the way of offensive firepower. If the Giants are going to spend, left field could be the place to do it. Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, and Jacoby Ellsbury will all be out on the open market and could play the position. Guys like Nelson Cruz, Curtis Granderson, Marlon Byrd, Corey Hart, and Mike Napoli could also be in play if they don't feel like backing up a Brink's truck.

Of those guys still available, I haven't seen the Giants linked with any of them. Still, Brian Sabean tends to operate out of the eye of the press, and I think that is a good thing.

Ron said...

Jeff Baker is apparently about to become the right-handed part of our LF platoon. This is Jeff Baker who's only topped 10 HR's during 2 seasons when he played half of his games in 2 of the most HR-friendly ballparks in MLB (Colorado & Texas). Not exactly adding a lot of thump to the lineup. On the other hand, not giving anything up to acquire him.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Gregor Blanco was a 2.1 WAR and 2.5 WAR player last two seasons. He's pretty good. He lacks pop, but he has a decent OBP, lots of speed, and a terrific glove. He could be the starting LF and things would be OK. The Giants don't need to get a star, just a complementary piece.

ogc obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Just an ugly rumor about Baker: http://blogs.mercurynews.com/giants/2013/12/11/winter-meetings-notes-sabean-on-the-rotation-williams-gets-a-shot-young-brett-bochy-and-giant-bruce-bochy/

Quotes just out his week that it is unlikely that Gaudin returns to Giants. Makes sense, bullpen and rotation are full, Petit was anointed long reliever in recent interview too. Plus apparently carpel tunnel syndrome is hell on a pitcher's career, from what I've read.

And in recent interviews, Perez is considered the current option for platoon with Blanco, they liked the way he hit after he came back up, plus he played GREAT defense, he basically led the team with 10 DRS (Blanco had 10 too with 6 times the innings played). He was basically fielding at a 6 WAR pace, plus whatever his hitting provides. If he can do that and just be replacement level hitting or a little less, that's a 5 WAR player-season.

M.C. O'Connor said...

One thing I've learned over the last few years watching the Giants is that OF defense makes a huge impact, esp. at AT&T. Perez was certainly impressive in his few chances last year. I could live with a Geoff Baker type (limited role lefty masher), it's always good to have a deep bench. I think the Giants have to count on a full year of Posey and an improved Sandoval to get the offense they missed last year. They are not going to sign any big names FAs or trade any of their young pitching studs (they will need those arms in 2015 and beyond).

A few pieces here or there will be moved around, but this is the team. I liked last year's team, and this is mostly the same guys, so I'm OK with it. Things didn't turn out well last year, but shit happens. If it happens again, there will be a lot of howling about Sabean, but not from me. He's counting on Cain, MadBum, the Tims, Pagan, Posey, Sandoval, Pence, etc. It's a good group. They have the talent to win and I say stick 'em out there and let 'em win.

Ron said...

Well ... it's apparently Michael Morse, instead. While he had a miserable, injury-plagued 2013, he is a more legitimate hitting force. He hit 15, 31, & 18 HR's playing in a more average hitters' park (Washington). He's not much of an outfielder, but that's where Blanco comes in. It's a one-year deal, &, if Perez lives up to his promise, then Perez could take over in 2015. Or, Morse could turn into a great acquisition & give us production for a longer stay in town.

ogc obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

$5M deal for Morse according to Pavlovic.

But saying he's bad defensively does not do justice to how bad he is. By UZR/150, he's -2 wins bad, basically. Though by DRS, he's roughly half a win bad, which is not so bad, so I guess it depends on which stat you like. And by the Total Zone rating on BB-Ref, he's basically average. That is about as wide a deviance as I've ever seen.

The silver lining there is that he was once considered athletic enough to play some games at SS, so hopefully his poor OF defense might be related more to lack of instruction and experience there, than stone gloves. He's actually OK at 1B. Plus, Burrell had horrible defensive #'s before, Huff too, but were OK in the OF with Giants, if I remember right.

ogc obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Well said MC, about the Giants and Sabean!

I think the offense will be better with health in 2014. Injuries just killed the offense in the middle of the season. For 2014, I agree Posey is a huge cog we missed, and Sandoval recovering from injuries didn't help either. If both do what they say they will do and get into conditioning that helps them stay strong all season long, we should be good there.

Also, we should get help in other ways from the offense. First off, Crawford was on his way to breakout season in 2013 when he injured his fingers. He was among the team leaders until that happened, OPS in 800's. Belt once he changed his grip jumped up a couple hundred points in OPS, so there could be a lot of upside there too in 2014, if he can sustain that all season long. Also, not as big a deal, but Hanchez is a much better hitter than Quiroz was, and him being healthy and in shape should yield gains there. Plus, Noonan got a lot of ABs but didn't do much, I think either Abreu or Adrianza should be better in 2014. And of course, Morse should be much better than the OF's we had in 2013.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I can live with Morse. I expect he will be mediocre in the field, but we have Blanco and possibly Perez for late-inning D. And Blanco will get starts vs righties some of the time. And Morse could be useful pop off the bench, as Blanco would be useful speed off the bench. 1 year, 5+ mil--that's cheap--and the Giants gave up ZERO prospects. I'm cool with it.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Beyond the Box Score has a nice take on Morse:

http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2013/12/10/5190968/michael-morse-a-bargain-waiting-to-happen-free-agent

LINK

Hat tip, Shankbone.

SIR said...

Now that it's final I want a new post - 20 comments ! I'm falling behind.

Shankbone said...

Is the RMC blogger machine brokes up? Or do ya'll just like this to be the placeholder for all 5MM or so one year deals?

Morse is a shot at power, he actually has nice 3 year stats on the ol' leaderboard, slotting in (with C Hart) with the big FA names. Yes, the defense ain't good. Up to the Giants to tame that Beast.

I'm OK, because they tried other deals, didn't get the right price for it. Something else could shake loose later in the season. Now a backup for 2b/3b that makes sense? That's a hard one.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I think Arias is still the go-to guy for IF backup.

nomisnala said...

My main point about two weak cogs in the lineup was how it would play with a team that has limited power. But with the addition of Morse, we hopefully can add to our share of 3 run dingers, to break open a few games. Also with Morse in the lineup perhaps they will not as easily be able to pitch around Posey. Posey has to be patient, and not try to do it all himself. I think this added to his late season slump. I would find him nicely working counts and get to 3-2, and then end up swinging at a bad pitch instead of taking the walk. He needs to know that the guy behind him, can often pick him up. He had shown himself to be a smart player, but last year, he was definitely pressing.