Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Offseason Discussion I

OK, that's over.

(photo from

Regardless of what may happen and what may have driven this decision, the Giants need a third baseman and a left fielder, to fill at least 2 positions in the rotation, and probably some relief.  Discuss


Zo said...

So this is the way it works. You have a big auction every year of some art masterpieces, conducted by either Christies or Sothebys. There are always headliner names in that auction, a Renoir or a Van Gogh, maybe a Lucien Freud. No fair equating Pablo to a Fernando Botero. A limited number of people can really afford the headliner names, although there are others who may be able to afford some art who will increase in value as the market changes and as the artist receives more recognition. No one really knows exactly how high anyone else is willing to bid. But one thing is certain, the "big names" will score the big bids because there is prestige as well as future value at stake. That is the fundamental principle behind an auction, you have rich people who want to succeed against other rich people, and that produces a higher price. The Giants have been there, Zito is an example of overbidding so that the assembled throng would go, "Ooooh."

I kind of like what the article at mlbdailydish. Let the Yankees overpay for Chase Headley. That's kind of what they do anyway. Use the money saved to make sure we have a stunning rotation, 6 starters strong. Re-sign Vogie and sign someone else. If Matt and Tim 1 come back strong, so maybe we trade someone mid-season. I'm open to Yasmany Thomas, I'm open to putting Belt in left if that works defensively, or Buster at third if that works defensively and bringing in Susac. I'm open to Morse, who should be about the cost he was last year, I guess.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I think the Giants will be OK without Panda. His glove was really great this season and I hope the team has a good glove to replace him. The Giants had a good offense last year and will have a good offense in 2015 esp. if Posey gets a break from catching now and then. Pence, Pagan, and Belt are all solid. BCraw can hit and I think Panik can, too, so I feel good there a well. Remember our park suppresses the numbers and it's important to compare guys to league averages and not to some theoretical standard.

I like Morse and I think he showed his value to the club and would be great in the role he was originally signed to be. He had to play too many innings early on due to the injury to Pagan. With defensive help from Blanco and Perez he is perfect to start games and get a few ABs and alternate being a thumper off the bench. I'd happily take him back. Boch is smart and knows how to use him. Baseball is played by real players who have strengths and weaknesses. There aren't very many five-tool complete athletes who can hit and play D and run and etc.

Rumor has it Giants are interested in Lester. Wow, he'd be great with Cain and Bum. Dynamite trio there. I like our young relievers and I think guys like Kontos and Strickland can step in. Keeping Affeldt, Lopez, and Casilla will mean the heavy lifting is done and the rest can be "role" players.

Even if they pass on Lester I think we'll see Cain come back strong and a I said before The Freak will give us more than we saw this year. Huddy has some life left and Petit is still in the mix. I'd sign Vogie as well but even if not I've no doubt there are some guys out there that Sabes has his eyes on that can be in a 3-4-5 spot.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

I'm scared by the money, but if the Giants get Lester I would be so stoked about the rotation. It would be a three headed monster like we had in 2010 with Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner only better. And if Lincecum can get back to where he was - and he has shown he can over short stretches, so hopefully his dad's coaching will help him consistently do that - that could give us a four headed monster and Hudson, who would probably still be good, would be odd man out probably (or maybe Lincecum is the 2012 reliever of old).

I don't see Vogie resigning unless the Giants can't find a better SP to add to the rotation. And Petit got the LR role down, maybe if Vogie signs to be a reliever, but he'll probably want to start somewhere (and I would too if I were in his shoes).

Belt probably would be OK or better defensively because he can run some and he has played the position previously. Buster I have to think is slotted for 1B eventually, the Giants have been very insistent this season is stating that he's NOT moving to 3B (repeated again in the talks after the Sandoval signing), so I believe he has told the Giants he's not going there.

That's OK, I envision him and Susac sharing the starting roles at C and 1B eventually, with more and more games shifting to Susac as Posey gets older, until Posey is ready to call it quits as C.

I don't see that happening in 2015 though, I'm hoping Susac gets to start in AAA and work on his defense and hitting, then move directly to starting in 2016.

We have at least two good gloves to replace Sandoval at 3B. Arias is proven, look at any advanced stats and he's been better than Sandoval. Adrianza has to be much better, he's a whiz at SS and thus should be even more so at 3B. Duffy, not sure, but I think at worse, he should not be any worse than average.

MC, you made a lot of great points that everyone should remember.

I like Morse too, and not just for power, but he's a great hitter. Maybe he can play 1B and miss starts (he plays better defense there too) while Belt shifts to LF and get used to playing there.

I would bet on Lincecum giving us more, much more, than he gave us in 2012-2014, as long as his dad is working with him every start. If not, all bets are off.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Duffy starting at 3B next year?

Nice John Sickles write up on him.

Also Shankbone covered some of the same ground.

Am I under-appreciating what this guy might be able to do for the Giants?

Pablo was the best FA 3B option out there. Time for the Giants to solve that problem from within?

I this Lester thing for real? Man, I don't want to get too excited as he would require serious bucks for serious years. Just talk or serious wooing? What say you all?

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Given that the 3Bman could bat eighth, Duffman and Adrianza can compete for starts at third for a couple of months to see what they got. I like both guys bats enough that I would like to see what they could do. And both, if I recall right, did well enough to pique my interest, after getting over their slow start in majors. Then can trade for third if necessary.

I do not see how the Giants could sign Lester, but there they are, talking to him. It is exciting to think about, but probably a pipe dream. Then again, I thought Hudson would chose As instead, so who knows?

Zo said...

Yasmany Thomas is apparently going to sign with Arizona. I wonder if anyone told him he could be arrested for brownness in that state.

nomisnala said...

If it is about winning, good clubhouse, excellent manager, and World Series rings, why would anyone bolt to Boston for the same money? I think Duffy may be better than we give him credit for, but he may not have the power the giants would like at third. Moving Panik to third does not seem to far fetched, and looking for another option at second could work. We essentially lost a 300 plus lefty hitter, with a modicum of power. To replace that should not be under-estimated. Being that Lester is 30, and will take somewhat North of a long term contract for over 115 million, it seems unlikely, especially after what happened with the Zito contract. Where is Nelson Cruz playing in 2015? Lets face it, Pablo left the giants with a big void. It is not insurmountable, but the situation gives Sabean an unwanted roster filling dilemma.

nomisnala said...

A lot of the comments are just pure speculation and wishful thinking. Yes I think that the odds are good that Matt Cain comes back as good or better than ever. But with Timmy's decline, it is wishful thinking that he can sustain the quality of pitching through enough starts to be of any more value as a starting pitcher than replacement. At this time I would not mind seeing Petit and Vogie switch roles. I would try to sign Vogie with this in mind. Getting shares in 3 world series over the last 5 years mounts to approximately a million dollars. Right now the lineup looks like, Pagan, Panik, Posey, Pence, Belt, Arias, Crawford, Blanco. plus the pitcher. Why would Lester want to pitch with this lineup behind him?

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

You know what, most off-season is filled with speculation and wishful thinking: unless you are a psychic and know everything, everything is speculation and wishful thinking. So what is your point?

In my experience with Giants fans, I find a lot at both ends of the spectrum, some who think that Rich Murray is going to lead us out of our misery and those who thought that the Giants future was going into the dumper in 2007. You make projections, make some assumptions, some speculation and some wishful thinking.

So don't give us a blanket statement attacking all of our statements. What's speculation? What's wishful thinking? And everything has a degree.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

I'll start off as I get the feeling that you are aiming at some of my thoughts, particularly with your comment about the lineup.

I don't really care about talking about big, better, best. My formula for winning involves a great starting staff, great bullpen, good defense.

While I think we have the latter two, the staff, which at minimum is Bumgarner, Cain, Hudson, Lincecum, Vogelsong (he's there if the Giants want him), is good but not great.

I don't see Cain coming back as wishful thinking. All reports are that he's healthy. It's speculation on my part to bring up that he could be better than ever, but I shaded my language to indicate that. But if he's healthy, I don't see why he can't return to how he did previously.

Lincecum, he had a 3.65 ERA at the time of his save. That's pretty good. Something threw his mechanics out at that point, and he was useless until late. I don't see it as wishful thinking or speculation that had his father been helping him keep his mechanics in shape, he would have ended the season somewhere in the 3.65 ERA range.

And these iffyness are why I would be happy with Lester added to the rotation (though the contract would not make me happy).

However, given what Petit has done in the past for us, I have every confidence that if he were to become a regular starter, he would do very well for us, as I've studied his quality starts stats. Speculation backed by very good performances starting when he's IN the rotation, not an emergency starter.

Speculation, but with reasonable assumptions, I believe. Petit is what makes things feel good to me in the rotation.

Pagan, Panik, Belt, Posey, Pence I know is an above average lineup, I look at the NL splits enough to know that without looking. I've explained Crawford. I don't know why you put Arias 6th, nobody said that, so that's on you for making the lineup bad in that way.

Blanco is a fine hitter in the bottom of the lineup. We've seen him enough that it is not speculation to say that he does not do well under pressure as a hitter. You put him up in the lineup, he changes the way he hits, you leave him down, he does what he does and well, thank you. Also, nobody said he's starting, you are, so on you again.

I've described ways to keep the lineup above average, with the only speculation or wishful thinking being that players continue to hit the way they have hit before.

I prefer starting Duffy or Adrianza at 3B, both has shown a good bat in the minors, it would be interesting to see what they can do, and at worse, there's Arias, batting 8th in my lineup, where he's probably, based on his time with the Giants, a better than average #8 hitter, and great defensive player, much better than Sandoval in the past few years, better than Pablo was in 2014.

The Giants are probably going to acquire someone who is a good hitter in LF (or maybe even 1B), so the lineup should be much improved over what you listed. I can live with that, but I think Ishikawa at 1B and Belt in LF would work, as long as we got a good starting staff and bullpen. And that's informed speculation because I've studied how a team can win with average lineups.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

I just read your first comment. Just because you lost power does not mean that your lineup is broken. I've demonstrated how Belt, Posey, Pence is the power heart of the lineup. Sandoval was extra that was good to have but not necessary to win.

For example, we got .728 OPS from 3B in 2014, .618 OPS from 2B. I think that it is not wishful thinking that Panik can deliver something around .728 OPS for us at 2B in 2015, so to get similar production from 3B, .620-.650 would do the trick. I think between Duffy, Adrianza, and Arias, they can do that.

I would not play Panik at 3B. All scouting reports from before we drafted him said that he didn't have the arm for SS and was a future 2B. So it is wishful thinking that he might be able to move to 3B.

The thing that many fans don't get is that if you have power at other positions, you don't need to have power at 3B or any other supposed power position. And people want power from the corners, but 1) if you get power from a non-power, like we do from C and 2) you really need power from 3, 4, 5, that is, three lineup positions, and while power is nice from 6th, look at the league, average ISO was 141, 7th, 135. Crawford and Ishikawa could easily provide that power in those spots, Sandoval was nice but not necessary to deliver a performance like what we got last season.

And we underperformed last season. Bochy has AVERAGED 4 extra wins in one-run games in his career, and the team -4 in 2014. In an average year, the Giants would have been at 92 wins.

Brother Bob said...

I just read an article which made a good case for Chris Dominguez as the 3rd baseman of the future. He can also play the outfield and first base. Of course this is just pure speculation and wishful thinking.

campanari said...

Move Crawford to third. Golden Glove defense, less chance of injury = perhaps more offense. He certainly has the arm.

Adrianza is supposedly a wizard with the glove, and did start to hit better before getting injured in 2014. Putting him at SS should keep the defense strong; if he doesn't hit, then make a move at the end of April, say. This infield of Belt, Panik, Adrianza, and Crawford ought to give us defensive results comparable to this past year's.

I doubt that losing Sandoval will leave a hole in the lineup. He hasn't been a 300-plus anything for quite a while, not even in poundage, certainly not in BA. A fourth outfielder who can both hit and field might start in LF, with Blanco spelling him and Pagan, or might himself spell Blanco as starter in LF, as well as Pagan. Such a player can easily supply the WAR that the switch from Sandoval to Adrianza costs us, IF Belt and Pagan can play considerably more than in 2014, and IF Panik can keep producing as he did in 2014.

nomisnala said...

Pablo did hit over 300 from the left side. He also hit over 300 in total after his 5 week slump to start the season. When Lincecum wanted his father to work on his mechanics in the past, the Giants staff seemed to discourage that. Since they have run out of ideas they finally have given in, and will let Timmy's dad try to fix him. With bone spurs out of Cain's elbow, there is no reason to think that he will not be as good as he was with bone spurs in his elbow. The lineup I put in there, was basicly the lineup of players that are currently Giant's property. Obviously there is a decent chance through signings and trade the roster has a chance to look quite different in 2015, but part of the giants recent key to success it their continuity of personnel. Perhaps there are many reasons why this could work nicely for a team, including team spirit, with a reasonable infusion of young and/or outside talent. Pablo's departure will not be impossible to fill, but it will be difficult. I would love to see a rotation headlined by Bumgarner, Lester and Cain, but if we just look at last year, the Pads had great pitching, but without enough hitting, it does not even get you to 500 ball. I am not saying that the giants hitting is anywhere near as bad, but they may be only one core injury away from significant loss of run production. Of course it is all speculation, but when all of it is slanted toward the positive side for each player, it gets somewhat more optimistic than analytical.

Ron said...

Should we be interested in Jon Niese? Mets are apparently trying to trade him. He seems like a decent, durable Pitcher. They are also trying to deal Bartolo Colon (blccch!) & Dillon Gee (too injury-prone). Supposedly, their goal is to get a prospect or a 'role player' in return for each of these guys.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

I'll respond to the ones that I feel I could respond to.

Thanks for clarifying on the list of players, but since the first five players listed were in the order of expected batting, I was led to think otherwise.

I don't think the roster is changing much. I would be OK with no changes (other than re-signing perhaps Vogelsong and Romo), as I've outlined as possibilities, but I don't expect that to happen, I expect the Giants to make some moves, in particular SP and power in LF or 1B.

I agree the team favors continuity. For one thing, less moving parts means greater chance of repeatability and expected performances. Less chances of a Bradley/Ethier mistake where the departing top prospect performs better than the veteran player acquired.

Pads had good pitching, not great, in my initial look.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Niese is under contract for this year and next and then has a club option for both '17 and '18. Seems like, at 27, he's probably peaked and the Mets are looking to unload him to save money down the road and clear a spot for a youngster. His main value is that he is a lefty. The Giants already sent a prospect (Z.W.) to the Mets, I doubt they want to send another. And I think the Giants need their young guys like Duffy, Susac, and Strickland and etc and don't have anyone to trade that would net a starting pitcher. Plus I think they could get a similar value from Petit or Vogie (Niese was 1.7 WAR last year, Vogie 1.2 and Petit 0.9) so I don't see him as enough of an upgrade to give up a potential high-value piece for.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Perhaps I should have said Niese is hitting his peak which could mean he has a good chance of repeating his strong 2012. I still think he's not enough of an upgrade and that the trade chips aren't there.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Giants meet with Lester today.

Ron said...

I don't think that the Mets expect a top prospect for Niese, just a prospect - if they are looking for a 'role player' instead, that wouldn't imply 'top prospect'.

Vogelsong is way past it - I don't think that he should be a part of our plans. The probability that Lincecum will be a top contributor is much higher than it is for Vogelsong. Petit looks likely to get a good shot at being in the rotation.

I also do not want to spend the outrageous amounts being talked about on Lester. Signing Lester would also mean absorbing Peavy again. Scherzer is probably a slightly better option, especially because he wouldn't lug Peavy along with him.

So, my 6th Starter option would be a guy like Ervin Santana or Niese. Dave Righetti can Vogel-ize them & squeeze a number of productive years out of them.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Santana, at least, is a free agent. Much more likely for the Giants than Niese, who would only be available in trade. The Giants gave up Heath Hembree and Edwin Escobar for Jake Peavy, those were some nice trading chips. What do the Giants have to offer? Seems like the FA route will happen first, then trade candidates like Niese will get a look. Then again, he's pretty cheap ($16M for two years) if he delivers what he has done already. Seems like, to me, that the Giants don't have to trade to get that level of performance, they can do it with FAs and what they've already got.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

But boy, overall, Padres had pretty good pitching overall, plus good fielding, resulting in a Top 5 RA/9. No wonder they were looking for offense that won't cost them their pitching, plus looking to make a big offensive splash with Sandoval or Thomas, losing both must hurt them.

Starting pitching, as my initial look, was as thought, 9th in the majors in ERA, which is good but not great. But better than the Giants who were just above average, in 16th place.

SD Relievers were 2nd by a good margin (Seattle was first by a good margin as well). Giants were 5th, but basically tied for 4th, at 3.01 vs. 3.00 for Washington.

Lots of young starters for SD who didn't pitch full season, if they can repeat for a full season, they will be in position to be like the Giants were in 2009-2012, a top 3-5 RA/9 team that can win a lot of games with a subpar offense, and win the division with an average offense. If they can get a hitter, they can be very competitive next season. Nice catch, didn't realize that they were that competitive.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

I understand that being positive about all the position players is not a likely situation.

For me, that is balanced by the likelihood that the pitching will be that much better with Cain and Lincecum, and Strickland and Kontos.

But seeing how the Giants do things, I have to think that they will get a hitter in either LF or 1B, where there are hitters, but I don't see it happening at 3B. That will be the backup for the offense should (when) Pagan goes down again. But Belt, Posey, Pence, are young and should not be injured, again.

And the issue was never with Pagan going down, it was with him going down and then a whole bunch of other guys. With a young team, odds are they will stay healthy, relatively.

Ron said...

Excited to read that we may be getting involved in the Nick Markakis situation. Sounds like a good fit. Solid player, durable, good OBP, some power.

Zo said...

Markakis sounds like Michael Morse to me. Better defense. That just means Blanco doesn't get in the game in late innings.
Markakis: 14/.276/.342/.729
Morse: 16/.279/.336/8.11
(hr/ba/obp/ops). Markakis is 31, Morse, 32. Markakis is projected (at mlbtraderumors) for four years at about $12 per, Morse played for what, about half that?

Ron said...

Markakis has better wheels, 2 Gold Gloves (including 2014), & minimal injury history. He is much more valuable & more durable than Morse. He also strikes out at a much lower rate.

Blanco should get plenty of playing time. The assumption is that Pagan is just going to come right back in & play regularly. He is coming off of back surgery. I think that being super-optimistic about his 2015 contributions is not justified. I foresee a very measured approach to bringing Pagan back in.

Ron said...

Markakis Lifetime WAR 25, 2014 WAR 2.1.

Morse Lifetime WAR 5, 2014 WAR 1.0.

These are 2 very different players.

And, just to get this idea out of the way, the Giants can afford a top $ Pitcher, plus a guy like Markakis. It shouldn't be either / or.

M.C. O'Connor said...

My issue with Markakis is that he will probably require a multi-year deal as he is a bigger name and has a better track record. Going forward though, I don't see how he is much better than, say, Morse. Note that Morse had 51 XBH in 482 PA and Markakis had 42 XBH in 710 PA. The Giants got a lot from Morse! And the Giants would likely use him similarly, that is put Blanco or Perez in for the late innings. Markakis may be a better glove than Morse, but he's not at a Pence level. (And please don't cite GG Awards--we all know those are dubious.) The O's had a $17.5 M option on him and declined it--why?

Of course the Giants can afford anyone they want. The question is, do you want an aging OF for three or four years? I don't. The Giants got Morse off the scrap heap for one year. My guess is that they believe they can find 1-2 WAR production that way again. I could live with Markakis or a similar type for a two-year deal (like Hudson), but I think OFs with declining power are abundant and can be had lots of ways. In other words, why buy gold when bronze will do?

I'd rather the Giants overpay and give too many years to Lester than anyone else out there. I don't think they'll get him, but I'd take that risk for a proven star pitcher.

Ron said...

I haven't heard a peep about the Giants even being interested in Morse. I don't understand why, because he was good value, enthusiastic, & contributed when we needed him.

Given that the Giants can't be bothered re Morse, then it's clear that they've moved on in their thinking. Knowing the Giants, it probably means that they're thinking that the Blanco / Perez platoon is their #1 option. And, despite his small stature, Perez actually has a track record of some decent power (Lorenzo Cain knows a little bit about that) - he has 3 Minor League seasons of double figures in HR's & probably would have had a 4th, if the Giants had not called him up as much in 2014.

However, that plan depends upon Pagan being reliably healthy & effective. They need an OF for sure. Markakis is a good one. I get suspicious about perennial Gold Glove winners who accumulate them based upon reputation. Markakis has 2 GG's, spaced a few years apart. That seems more legit. At least it means that he's probably a very good OF.

He had a good 2014 in his first season as a leadoff man - in that regard, compare him to Pence, not to Morse. I like the low strikeout track record a lot + the frequency of walks. He hits a lot of 2B's, some of which would certainly be 3B's in our park.

He seems like a good fit, &, age-wise, he's about the same as the guy that we gave the 5-year deal to last year.

M.C. O'Connor said...

An Ishikawa/Perez platoon in LF?

M.C. O'Connor said...

Grant Brisbee at McCovey Chronicles gives his take on Markakis. Putting aside his trademark hyperbole and snark, I feel the same way. Not enough of an upgrade to commit years to. Like you said, Ron, the team has money. I agree. No use spending it on Aaron Rowand II, in my mind. At least for more than two years. I can live with anybody for two years.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

One, Giants are always kicking tires. This could just be another rumor Giants fans get their hackles off for nothing, which happens a lot at MCC and other blogs. I do not believe they will do Rowand II. Agent could leak name to drive bidding.

Two, it takes two to tango, we do not know what Morse is looking for. Now he got da trophy, maybe now bout da monee. Maybe he wants more than one year. I like him, but one year at a time.

Three, Markakis fielding stats are all over the place, but bbref only has bad or average. Lousy neg WAR, probably as bad as Morse, but looking at DRS, he has been average, so by that measure he is much better than Morse. Also, he has mostly played RF, he would need to adjust to LF with us.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

I have looked at his stats. Pass. Last four seasons have seen both lower BABIP as well as much reduced power. He is more like a healthy Pagan, which has some value, I suppose, but speed not his forte. Remember, Pagan is actually not that good a CF, would make more sense to find CF and move Pagan to LF than to get Markakis on long term deal.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

FYI, Fangraphs asked the same thing about Markakis:

They basically agree with those of us saying "meh".