Monday, December 8, 2014

Duffy's Dash

I really hoped that sprint home with the tying run in Game Two of the NLCS would have resulted in a win and would have become part of Giants lore. Since they lost the game, the moment will fade and come to its resting place in the dustbin of history. But I won't forget! I'm high on Duffy and hope he gets to be the third baseman soon.

Every year I sponsor (on behalf of RMC) a page on Baseball-Reference. I use the site all the time, it's my baseball Wikipedia. Back when Matt Cain was a nobody his page was cheap. Now they want $220. Last year I got Brandon Crawford for, I don't know, $60 or so. This year it is $160! Yikes, too rich for my blood.

So, Matt Duffy it is. Only forty bucks! Makes me feel good to be a part of B-R and it is nice to have the RMC name out there. I hope the price goes up soon as that will mean the former Dirtbag will be climbing the ladder to stardom.



obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Yeah, I'll never forget that dash either, much like I'll never forget that no-hop throw Shinjo did from right-CF gap straight to catcher that threw out the runner where he was backing up the RF on the play, but I agree that it'll eventually go into the dust-bin of history.

And as much as I'll remember Ishi HR and dash/fly around the bases, I'm not sure that'll survive time either, as dramatic as it was, since it was NLCS and not World Series.

Great post!

Ron said...

So, the White Sox are now the Dodgers. How special.

Here are few random opinions:

- Chase Headley is not worth nearly the money being discussed (even the lower numbers). Forget it.

- Surprisingly, I have gone through a number of emotions regarding Lester. They have ranged from 'No', to 'Why Not?', to 'Hell yes!', but now I am back to 'No'. If (& only if) you can believe the numbers being talked about in the media, the price tag is just getting totally ridiculous. $150M+ & that many years for a 30-year old Starting Pitcher is too risky. We have get Ervin Santana & Francisco Liriano for that kind of money (not that I am advocating that double-move). He's a good Pitcher, but this is now getting absurd. Let someone else sink that kind of money into his contract.

- I wish that I was hearing some rumblings about our bullpen plans. With Romo & Gregorson out there, we should be making some kind of move. Hunter Strickland is not a reliable solution. Had any of us ever even heard of the guy before last September? He was not one of our touted minor league bullpen pieces. How is that, after some good September appearances against scrubs & some catastrophic post-season appearances, he is suddenly the savior of our bullpen? We need vets. If Strickland & Cordier mature during the season, then we can integrate them. But, right now, we could use some more vets.

M.C. O'Connor said...

The Giants aren't going to buy a player they can't "afford." Lester will set the market for Scherzer and so on. Free agency is the most expensive way to get talent. You want top pitching? Develop it or pay the market rate. Giants have money--think of how much they gave Timmy and they weren't competing for his services. And the Posey and Cain contracts are massive as well. Whether Lester is the right "keep up with the Joneses" move or not is impossible to say. Dodgers won 94 games last year with Kershaw and Greinke and Ryu. Add Lester to MadBum and Cain and you just might have the three-headed beast you need to match up. Yes I know the Giants were champs, but they were six games off the pace in the West. The only way to be SURE you make the post-season is to win the division and you have to build accordingly. I suppose what I'm saying is that the Giants know their finances better than we do and if they think Lester is "worth it" than so do I.

I think we could get a similar performance from Vogie that we could get from Santana. I like Santana but I think he's not that much of a cut above a lot of other cagey vets. Liriano, I think, is more talented, but his injury history is a concern. Only 160+ IP last two years. Good pitcher, though. Aaron Harang is old, but strikes me as a Sabes-Boch type, like Hudson, and he could chew up a pile of innings for a lesser commitment if they are looking for that sort of thing. Not sure I'd like watching him every five days! He's a BIG boy and the Giants would have a seriously stout staff.

I could live with Headley for two years, and the 4-yr $65M I heard he was being offered is pretty reasonable if you consider him a 3 WAR player. A "win" runs about $6M or more on the FA market so asking him to produce 11 WAR over 4 years is not out of the question. I think the Giants will find a youngster from within or without to take 3B so I don't want the 4 year haul with Headley. But he's a good player and is certainly "worth" the money.

I'm not sure about vets in the 'pen. They have Casilla, Lopez, and Affeldt for the big time moments. They need fresh blood otherwise. You have to have some patience with young players, man. You expect these guys to be experts the moment they step on the field. Failure doesn't define an athlete--what they do with it does. The post-season woes Strickland had don't have to be who he is, they can be the very experiences that make him tougher and smarter. Guys like Boch don't give up on players because they screw up--that's what makes him a great manager. He can see the big picture and take the long view. Strickland got noticed because he finally put his stuff together and starting getting whiffs after the Tommy John surgery. I don't know whether he will make it but the fact that Boch likes him is good enough for me. I'm not ready to bail on him yet after only 15 IP of ML time. (Plus he's from Georgia, another polite Southern boy!) Kontos is my go-to guy if they lose Romo. And I'm high on Cordier--another whiff artist who just might be hitting his prime.

Giants have been really good at stocking the 'pen over the years, I think they will be fine there.

Zo said...

The problem with Lester-type free agents is that they tend to command a price out of proportion to the talent they bring, measured by WAR or otherwise. Again, it is the auction mentality at play. A 3 WAR player does not get 3/5 of the money a 5 WAR player gets, they get like a small fraction. Also, consider the number of free agents that are on the market for a given position, that drives up the price (see: Pablo). My two cents: sign Liriano, sign Vogie, reinforce the pen (and I fine with Strickland although I think he needs to develop more), figure out third, get Belt some practice shagging flies, keep some powder dry for an acquisition from some team wanting to unload a contract mid-season. Mark has a point though, speculation about money is better done by owners who actually know something about it. I also think Lester sounds like Zito-land, and Chase doesn't thrill me, but at the end of the day, that is a pretty uniformed opinion.

Ron said...

Liriano is off the table - back w/ Pittsburgh.

As far as the bullpen goes, Lopez has been in a slow decline - he's still somewhat reliable, but much less so than previously.

I'm not saying 'throw in the towel' on Strickland due to a few rough outings in the post-season. I'm just saying that there is insufficient evidence to consider him a keystone of the 'pen. I'd like to see another solid veteran in there. We also don't know which Machi will show up next season: super-awesome regular season Machi or super-creepy postseason Machi.

Should we care about Asdrubal Cabrera? He's never played 3B regularly, but he seems like the kind of guy who could learn a new position. Switch-hitter, some pop, probably not quite as over-priced as some of the options.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Supposedly Omar Infante may be available, to. To me it is all about length of the deal for any of these guys.

Machi probably just ran out of gas at the end--career high in appearances and innings. I like his splitter. I think he'll still have a spot.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Brief diatribe, as an econ major, I've been aghast at how WAR value analysis has been done. I think it works for most, but when you get to rare players like Bonds, Lester, etc, that should result in higher $/WAR, due to scarcity of supply. Economics work for a commodity, similar goods type of analysis, which is the bulk of baseball players, but when you get to the best guys, rare as anything. People forget that the players are not commodities similar to each other, they are close enough generally to be comparable, but really, in true economic analysis, each is a unique product/service on their own.

That said, I'll be happy to lose the bidding, as fun and exciting as it has been, because such a large contract, especially for someone external, is kind of crazy. But baseball economics has gone crazy, long ago, so I try not to let it bother me as much.

Lester is not Zito, not by a long shot. Zito was already a low K, low K/BB pitcher for years before the Giants signed him, he clearly was not worth the contract he signed from the minute he signed it. Lester's contract, while crazy (see Japanese pitcher for Yankees this season) risky, is at least in line with what he's been producing recently, it is just a huge risk should injury or decline happen.

According to latest rumor, he has let the Giants know that he's leaning towards signing with another team, which Evans believes is either Cubs or Red Sox. Given all the hoohah when he was traded, about how he wanted to return (info that oddly/smartly has not been repeated during the bidding), I would bet Red Sox. And it appears that Lester has leveraged the other teams to get the best deal from Boston, as is his rights as a highly sought after talent. And if so, then it is my hope that the Giants mainly has done the bidding to push up the price for the Red Sox to astronomical heights due to them stealing Sandoval away from us.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

You may not have heard of Strickland, but I was aware from the time the team picked him up, just periphery though, no big deal. Where I perked up exponentially was after his TJS, the team chose to put him on the 40-man roster, even though he was recovering from TJS and could have made it through Rule 5 draft, and they noted at that time that they viewed him as a future closer. Yowza!

I forgive Strickland his poor playoffs. I feel he just put in over his head, but apparently Bochy thought it would be good experience for him. I will say, good for him, he bent but never broke, said all the right things a future closer should say. Next year, he'll get less pressured appearances and work his way up to playoff pressure situations.

The thing is, if anything, he's coming in as Gutierrez's replacement, not as a set-up man replacing Romo, if that helps to set your expectations. Anything he delivers above JC is bonus to me.

I see Kontos as Romo's replacement, and his performances in 2012 and 2014 suggests he's ready, though when you dig into his numbers, he is not an ideal replacement. But that is the price you pay in order to develop guys who can come in and be set-up men, few come up and be a K-Rod phenom, most need to work their way into that situation. Luckily, we got Affeldt, Casilla, and Lopez to help ease the two of them into more important roles, and Machi has been OK during regular season (very disappointed by his playoffs since he's the closer on Latin teams and playoffs there).

Plus, there is Okert, Law, Hall, all who should be pushing the edge towards the majors by mid-season or earlier, Okert could replace Lopez at some point. Though I would note that relievers are notoriously affected by SSS.

Unfortunately for Lopez, a lot of his stats and peripherals were down in 2014. But to show how things change, he was similarly down and out in 2009-2010, but being with the Giants changed him for the better. His biggest problems, based on plate discipline, is that hitters were making a lot of contact outside the strike zone, which could bounce back, but there was also a lot less swinging strikes, which might not bounce back. Oddly, had his second best ever first pitch called strike, which is very positive, and could suggest some very bad luck with hits on balls outside the zone. I'm cautiously optimistic that it's just SSS bad luck, but enough was down to make me wonder as well.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Absolutely, baseball economics is its own thing, being a closed system and a protected monopoly, and has to be judged differently than the way things work out in the "real world". Indeed, for the superstars, the numbers don't apply the same way. Bonds was worth whatever he was paid as he was the best player, and unique with no comps. Lester is the best AVAILABLE pitcher, giving him that market leverage, so he costs more than the value he can probably deliver.

Yeah, Lopez had some yips this year, but the Giants have him signed for '15 and '16 and I imagine he'll be Super-LOOGY again. If he ain't, then it's a problem, and Steven Okert and the other lefties in the system might have to step up. I feel good about the minor league talent in the pipeline.

Affeldt proved once again how amazing and valuable he is after that Game 7 performance. 38 BF in the post-season and only 5 hits and no runs, no runs in 2012 either. What a beast. He seems to get better with age. He is a FA in 2016.

nomisnala said...


Affeldt has been surprisngly good in the post season, but he can be problematic at times during the season. Relievers can have up and down years. Some are not consistent from year to year. I would like to have Romo back. He has the personality and the club house presence, and at time can get hot for a while and pitch really nicely. Romo and Lopez are yin and yang. I am hoping that Strickland can become a good pitcher but he has to stop giving up the home run ball, or he will be an extremely valuable commodity as the home run derby pitcher before the allstar game.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Affeldts issues in the regular season appears to be related to odd things, particularly all those injuries due to odd things, to my eye. When healthy and wearing his brace, he is lights out consistent, and luckily for us he has been both in the playoffs.

I would not mind Romo back but I suspect he wishes to return to his family's roots, if you know what I mean. Or closer situation and or money.

Strickland had very little problems with HR ball during regular season. Hopefully he can figure it out in playoffs. Remember, Bumgarners stats in playoffs were not the best overall before this season, he had hiccups a lot. Look at his minor stats and dream...

Brother Bob said...

Jon Lester is a Cub. Good luck with that, big guy.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Thought for sure he'd go back to the Sawx.

Cubs have some talent. Lester may actually be on a good team.

Ron said...

We're talking about the Cubs, here. For over 100 years now, some Messiah(s) were supposedly going to fix the Cubs ... now, it is Joe Maddon & Jon Lester, plus a few promising youngsters (plus, Peavy, I'm sure).

Here is the plain truth: just this off-season, they have been outmaneuvered by their own cross-town competitors, who, $ for $, have achieved much better value. A couple of minor injuries or down seasons from some of their position players, & this Lester thing will look like an idiotic move. A waste of a good Pitcher.

When the Lester money became stupid, I was thrilled that we were eliminated. I suppose he didn't figure his potential post-season shares into his economics because, if he had, he would have signed for any of the other Teams chasing him. As it stands, he will have enjoyable, relaxing Octobers, but will never win anything.

I am glad to hear that we are at least talking to Romo. Supposedly, Detroit is, too. With the Lester thing cleared up, I hope that the Giants can do some value business now, including signing Romo.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Six years and $155M for Lester sets the bar for Scherzer who, supposedly, wants $200M. How much of that is Boras talking, I don't know, but Scherzer did turn down a $144M extension offer this March.

Zo said...

The Cubs could be a very good team this year, or soon, and it looks like they see an opportunity in the NL Central. They have some young, powerful hitters, and maybe some good pitching will make them competitive. There is still the Cardinals, and Pittsburgh. Cincinnati appears to be on a down slope and there is Milwaukee. But the Cubs have to come from a last place finish.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

I thought the Sawx too! But after thinking about it, lots make sense about Cubs, history of futility (and so sense of accomplishment), already won multiple rings, GM who drafted him, up and coming offense, just picked up catcher (last item on Lester's checklist on teams?)

Unfortunately, while post-season shares matters greatly to someone like, say, Ishikawa, if I understand how they are paid right, that share don't even reach half of his regular paychecks on this new deal. It will be spare change, pocket change for Lester, a check to sign over to his significant other to go have some fun with.

Boras is always talking, it's never his clients voice, he's throwing it. (you don't want to know where his hand is! :^) He always wants the big money - and he don't always gets it, see Beltran, Carlos - and he's going to get it this time, Scherzer is wanted by at least Detroit and Boston (since they lost out on Lester and can't lose their first round pick), and the Yankees probably are going to jump in at some point, if only to drive the price up for Boston, and who knows, maybe the Cubs might go for the Daily Double and sign Scherzer too. Maybe LA too? Boras must be salivating, big time!

M.C. O'Connor said...

I always wonder what motivates guys at the top of the heap. After all, it ceases to be all about money when they get nine-figure deals. Lester has had a great career. How does he decide where to play? And what to play for? Maybe the idea that the Cubs stink is appealing, that is, he will get to be part of an historic turnaround. Ego is a big thing with elite athletes--they have to feel like THEY are THE ONE. Maybe Lester liked the idea of being the King of the Hill as opposed to one piece of a three-headed beast.

Or maybe he just likes deep dish pizza.

M.C. O'Connor said...

And then there is Madison Bumgarner.

Zo said...

I think it is about money. It is how these guys compete - who gets the most, not how much is enough. Thankfully, there is this:

M.C. O'Connor said...

I'm going to miss the big fella.