Monday, October 26, 2015

111th World Series

The 2015 Royals remind me of the 2012 Giants. They don't hit many homers but they put the ball in play, don't strikeout much, run the bases well, and rely on their defense. Their pitching is very good without being spectacular and they have a lights-out bullpen. The 2015 Mets remind me of the 2010 Giants. They use their spectacular starting pitching to keep games close and rely on big hits to make the difference. They supplemented their roster late with a veteran power bat and got post-season magic from unexpected places. Needless to say I like this matchup. Jacob deGrom is channeling Tim Lincecum so far. When I told my brother that he said "deGrom makes Lincecum look like Don Draper." Well I wasn't just talking about the hair-do, also his dominant pitching. We'll see if he can go all the way. It's easy to like the New York starters. I usually go with the NL and I do like seeing lots of orange so I'll root for the Mets. But the Royals are impressive and nabbing consecutive pennants is a rare thing. That's a great team in Kansas City and I'd have no issue with them getting the big prize.

I hate making predictions. The more I watch post-season baseball the less I know about what it takes to win it all. If the Mets starters string together a run of big efforts then New York will win. But if it comes down to fielding and bullpens then KC will win. A short series, Mets. A long series, Royals. The best part is that I have no preference about the outcome. Just play some great games and we can all enjoy the final days of the season.



Zo said...

And then we can get on with over reacting to every unsubstantiated rumor that comes along!

M.C. O'Connor said...


I neglected to mention the main reason to root for NY: they beat LA. Thanks, by the way.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Jordan Zimmerman profiled.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Something not brought up on the excellent profile is a key point that DrB emphasized in his profile on Zimmerman, and which was first brought to all Giants fans attention when BWils noted the hard odds of returning, is that most players do not come back at all after their second TJS.

That is a huge risk to take on, especially with all the talk of $100M+ and 5-6 years deal that this profile (and others, to be fair) have noted for Zimmerman. That he is young is great, but so was Wilson when he was with us. The difference is that Wilson had his when still in college, while Zimmerman's is more recent.

I don't know what the record is of recurrence is, how long before the second, Wilson's was about 10 years later, and Zimmerman's was in 2010, so that would be the mid to back end of any long term deal like this. So any calculus with adding Zimmerman has to account for the fact that we might only get a healthy Zimmerman for half of the length of the deal. And that's true of any pitcher signed, but more so for Zimmerman given his prior TJS.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

I'm rooting for the Mets. Not because of NL, but because I don't want to hear even more talk about the Giants being lucky to beat the Royals in 2014. I'm getting really tired of seeing that type of talk about the Giants and I'm seeing it still in the comments on various boards. Still, was hard to chose given 2000's ignominious defeat at the hands of Bobby Jones, but I prefer that over hearing about how the Royals should have beat the Giants, that they were lucky (again).

It's making me sad and not very interested in following baseball right now. So what if Bumgarner was a key factor of the Giants winning? Koufax helped the Dodgers win, should we diminish their championships that he helped win? Gibson helped the Cards win, should we diminish their championships that he helped win? Not that he's HoF level equal to these two, just why does his dominance and brilliance mean that the Giants didn't earn their 2014 Championship, while Koufax and Gibson's dominance is OK to say that LA and St. Lou earned their's?

Great analogies about comparisons to 2010 and 2012 Giants! You can even add in Juan Uribe on the Mets for even more similarity! And they got Johnny Monnell on their 40-man! And, of course, Wheeler is there in spirit as well (if not body, can't imagine they wouldn't let him travel with the team, just sit in the clubhouse or a team suite, recovering from his TJS. And we don't win in 2012 without Crazy Horse Pagan!

While there are a lot of guys the Giants defeated previously in the playoffs, on the Royals: Royals, of course, overwhelmingly, but also Madson, Cueto, Volquez, plus Blanton, Infante (last two not on playoff roster though). Parallels to Texas 2010/2011 here as well, repeating right after losing to the Giants.

Go Mets!

nomisnala said...

Giants were lucky in 2014, lucky to have Bumgarner, and a cast of players that beat the Royals. The Royals had home field advantage, and the giants still beat them.

Zo said...

Possible Giants acquisition: Pat Misch.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

See, that's what I don't get. You say that it was lucky to have Bumgarner. But that's true about any player on any team, other than teams who had the first pick overall. So the Nats weren't so lucky getting Strasburg and Harper, they were first picks overall (I would also proffer that they purposefully tanked to get them, it was not luck at all with them for those two).

So that means each year, each Championship was lucky because they were lucky to have whomever did the job of winning the championship for them, they were lucky to have that cast of players, because no team is made up of first picks overall. Nobody who throws out "luck" realizes that this is the logical conclusion of that premise.

I wouldn't be able to enjoy any sport where you put it all to luck that any particular player is on your team. "Yeah, we won because of luck!" Don't do it for me.

How can you enjoy 2010, 2012, 2014? Bumgarner was on each team, we were "lucky" according to your philosophy/perspective. He won games in each World Series, won games leading to the World Series. And if you ascribe luck to Bumgarner, why not Lincecum, Cain, Posey, Ross, Huff, Pence, Scutaro, Sandoval, etc?

The whole point of any sport is each team picks their players and you play with who you got. So yeah, some luck involved, but everyone played by the rules, selecting in order, and when each team had their chance, they hit or whiffed.

Is that luck or is it skill? Well, when the Giants drafted Bumgarner, Sabean said right away, we expect him to make the majors in two years and he did that, basically. I call that skill because they saw that in him, and jumped on him once they had the opportunity. Though it was some luck that he fell to us since any other team could have selected him, this is how the game is played, and when it was Sabean's turn, he used his skill to select Bumgarner.

Of course, there is luck involved in baseball. Zito's bunt with two outs becoming a single, lots of luck involved there. In fact, sabers have shown that basically it is a lot of luck involved with where the ball goes after bat meets ball.

But having played some baseball, I know the way you swing governs your "luck". One glorious college summer, I got to hit batting practice during my "class" as there was not enough to play baseball, but enough of us (all you need was two) that we took turns feeding each other pitches through the pitching machine. After a while, I could see the ball spinning, just like the players on TV said they could (and which I had scoffed at), and I was able to time and hit them in a general direction that I was intending. Then in my college intramural softball league, I led off and was able to help my team to an 8-1 record by hitting 'em where they ain't, as that old baseball saying goes (Keeler if I recall right).

So I don't ascribe to the belief that the Giants were lucky in 2014. It's a slippery slope that people don't get, for some reason. Why bother watching something that is so luck driven? And road teams have won 7 game series before, if that is only luck, then why bother playing? Just give the trophy to the home team and be done with it.

Brother Bob said...

Luck is in the eye of the beholder. It's more of a feeling when something unexpected happens.

El said...

The Giants and KC are not lucky. They're good.

Both FOs executed by drafting, developing, and in/off-season signings that filled holes.

Both teams value deep, shut-down pens, excellent defence, and lineups that put the ball in play.

It aint sexy, but it's winning baseball.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Gary Player is reputed to have said "the harder I work and the more I practice the luckier I get." Once the ball leaves the bat or the hand it is up to the laws of physics and the baseball gods. That's the luck. Players can improve the odds by preparation, hard work, concentration, effort, desire, etc. etc. But no player in any team sport can control ALL the variables, hence the role of randomness. A front office can do the best job they can acquiring personnel and giving them the support and coaching to play their best but they can't control individual game or season outcomes. They can make their team have the best CHANCE to win, but the wins themselves can involve quite a bit of luck. That's why they play for six months, to try to "even out" the bad bounces, fluky plays, scheduling issues, injuries, etc., all those random accidents out there that happen in every part of all our lives. It does not take away from any team's accomplishment by noting the "lucky" parts. Not for me, anyway. You have to have talent, health, coaching, management AND luck to go along with execution and good ball-playing. I do notice that the Giants don't get the media love/respect at the national level that they ought to for the excellent work they've done building a winning team and accomplishing three championships, but I'm not surprised nor do I really care. I do note that Giants players like Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner are enormously popular and well-respected by fans all over, so that's something.

On an unrelated note, I think this might be the best baseball story EVER. I mean, we always used to joke about players bribing and/or coercing umps to get the calls, but we never really believed it. I'm not sure if I believe Dykstra, he's a wack-o, but goddamn it's a hell of a tale!

M.C. O'Connor said...

Congrats to KC. Royals were better, more well-rounded.

Brother Bob said...

I got all my predictions right, except for the Mets beating the Cubs. Yay me!

Zo said...

Remember 2000? The Mets were the hottest team in the majors - for about 3 weeks. They took out the team with the best season record in the major leagues, the Giants, 3 games to 1, then turned into the Mets when they faced the Yankees in the Series.

The Royals took 30 years to repeat. 30 years from the Mets last would year. And, seriously, they have a great young team. Let's hope the Giants can repeat on a bit quicker schedule.

Zo said...

Excellent comment in response to this article in the NY Times:

JamesDJ New York 18 hours ago

This is the end.

Let's face it: there won't be a next year. The Mets will never go to another World Series. By this time next year, Citi Field will be completely under water, a victim of climate change. The idea that there was once such a thing as the Mets, or the game of baseball, or humanity, will no longer exist. The Mets had this opportunity to prove themselves to the cosmos, as a fitting end to the saga of human accomplishment, but they failed.

This is indeed the end of the world.

No need to sugarcoat it. This is a tragedy, a calamity. The. Mets. Lost. Let that sink in and fully experience the sorrow, the pity, the disgust, the bottomless, harrowing grief.

The lives of these players, rendered completely worthless. The time spent. The money spent. The misplaced pride spent.

Why? Why do we exist? What is the point?

All is hopeless. Life has been rendered meaningless.

All is dust, a forgotten pastime, soon to rot under the toxic waves.

Everything is bad.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Nats hire Dusty. I think that's a "play it safe" move: experienced, well-known, well-liked guy, media darling, etc. I think they are fools, but we'll see. I'm not sure if the younger Bud Black would have been better in the long run, but they handled that whole thing so poorly which would not encourage me if I were a fan of the team. I suppose young ex-catchers like Hinch or Melvin or Ausmus (Girardi and Matheny I expect are untouchable) are few and far between but that is the kind of guy I would target if the Giants had to replace Boch. I can't believe the best they could do was Mr. "Clog Up The Basepaths."

Matt Wieters to get a QO from Orioles ($15.8 M). If that happens and he goes the FA route the O's would get compensatory picks. I think that prices him out of a backup role! I like the Giants backup backstop Andrew Susac better anyway and expect an enlarged role for him next season.

Ron said...

It's been a bit of a whirlwind lately, but a few comments on the end of the World Series & the aftermath:

- Matt Harvey: If you're gonna try to pull a Bumgarner & intimidate your Manager into leaving you in an important game, you'd better well bring it & succeed. The ONLY other alternative (the option he chose) is to suck & look like a doofy prima donna. It also would have been a good idea to show up on time for practice earlier in the playoffs to earn some points. Net result - look like a flaky doofy prima donna.

- Terry Collins: After putting up with all of the hoopla of Boras interpreting & interfering in the Harvey Innings Limit, he should have told Harvey to shut up & sit down & go cry to his Agent, if he didn't like it. However, having left him in to start the 9th, he should have had him right out of there, after the leadoff walk. Big mistake.

- KC Royals: Very deserving winners; would have won anyway, despite the Harvey / Collins / Duda / Murphy gifts. A really amazing Team to watch w/ a very big collective spirit. Could lose Gordon this year, but may not. Need more starting pitching.

- NY Mets: A good Team which possesses a fantastic starting rotation for many years - that's big. But, a lot of other holes or potential holes to fill. Aside from Familia, the bullpen is really weak. Cespedes is probably going elsewhere - seems like 95% of high dollar Free Agents do, particularly to Texas, Anaheim, LA, Boston, or the Cubs. Granderson is getting old. The jury is still out on some of their position players. May have a good future regular in Conforto.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Harvey was great. His manager should have pulled him. It was the best start of the Series for NY, it was silly to let it go to waste. And letting him pitch to Hosmer after the walk was inexcusable. Familia was their best shot at that point, even if he had already blown two saves. Man we are lucky to have Boch. Managers really make a difference in tournament baseball, mostly by limiting the number of fuck-ups.

KC clearly scouted Cespedes and knew how to neutralize him. He looked bad, unfortunately. And his gaffe on the bases and misplay in the field didn't help. I wonder if his post-season will dampen interest in his free agency. He's got a lot of talent and played the best ball of his career down the stretch but a team with their pitching doesn't need to spend huge dollars on outfielders. They'd be better off with an improved relief corps. If anything they've proven once again how easy it is to acquire a rental power bat for the final push to the playoffs.

I think the Giants should go all in and get Zack Greinke. I know that's an unlikely scenario, but he's an impact player and the best free agent out there.

Ron said...

Greinke officially opts out. So, the already decent-sized pool of available good or really good Starters just got bigger. This increases our odds of getting one or more of them:

- Now, we should really not waste any money on a mediocre player like Aoki. Better to save everything we have for a run at a difference-making Starter. We have good OF options without Aoki, including some youngsters.

- Greinke has a repertoire which probably translates well as he moves into the latter years of his career. He is also a good hitter, which is always nice. As unsavory a character as he seems to be (that cap being too big for his head thing is really irritating), he's now the best Pitcher available. He'll get paid a lot. We can afford it, but there is that familiar list of Teams who can out-spend anyone, so I don't think that our chances are super-high. Worth a solid effort though, as long as the time we spend in that endeavor doesn't end up diverting us from pursuing some other worthy possibilities.

- So, Zimmermann + Leake remain good uses of our money.

- Cueto or Price are not Greinke level, but are nice to think about, too. Signing either of them would probably still preclude us from also getting someone at the Leake level.

M.C. O'Connor said...

MLBTR talks about Leake and the Giants. The second article notes that signing someone like Zimmerman would probably involve losing a draft pick in compensation (if he gets a Qualifying Offer). I always forget about that quirk. I think I'd rather see dollars go out than draft picks!

I'm guessing the Giants are waiting on Aoki's health. If he's recovered from his injuries I think they'll pick up his option.

Zo said...

The Chronic yesterday opined that the Giants are likely to pick up Aoki's option (pending concussion clearance, and he reports that he feels fine) but not likely to pick up Byrd's option.

On a related note, apparently Aoki's wife much prefers San Francisco to Kansas City. In Kansas City, she had to drive to Chicago for Japanese foodstuffs.

Ron said...

So, we should re-sign Aoki, because it is more convenient for his Wife? Seattle has fantastic Asian markets, too. Aoki is not the calibre of player that a Team w/ our aspirations should be settling for. No pop, no positional versatility, & a poor defender in a spacious OF. Why are we even thinking about this? $4.5M for Aoki v. a combined $1.0M for Williamson & Parker? Seems like a no-brainer.

I wish him well in his remaining career on a middle-of-the-Standings Team (hey ... Seattle checks all of the boxes). As far as I am concerned, his SF Giant contribution was pretty unimpressive.

In my pitching analysis, I forgot to mention Iwakuma - he is the alternate Leake for me. So, a Zimmermann / Iwakuma combo would be awesome, too!

Zo said...

I read that Iwakuma is very likely to be re-signed by Seattle. It was from Andrew Baggarly (not the Chron) that I got the information about the Giants being likely to pick up Aoki's option. Perhaps you should express your opinion to him.

Ron said...

I have also heard that the Mariners are prioritizing re-signing Iwakuma, but a lot of people hope to re-sign their Free Agents & don't end up doing so. I think that Iwakuma would be interested in joining a good Team & staying in a Pitchers' park on the West Coast. He is very good & very consistent. He will probably be much cheaper than Leake, too.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Boch likes Aoki. Fits his top o'the lineup plans: good OBP, speed, spray hitting. I'd love for Parker to step up and be a major-leaguer, but you never know. At least you know what guys like Aoki can do. Maybe Parker displaces Perez and you have Pence, Pagan/Blanco, Aoki/Blanco, and Parker who played all three OF spots last year. If Parker pushes Aoki aside like Duffy beat out McGehee, great.

Ron said...

It's now a done deal: Giants decline options on both Aoki & Byrd, but state that they are open to bringing either of them back on a better deal.

Byrd, having been embittered by the Giants limiting his AB's down the stretch to avoid triggering an automatic re-up, is thought to be the more likely of the two to seek employment elsewhere.

Aoki (& his Agent) probably think that he's worth more than $4.5M, but the market will set the price, & the Giants could still get involved.

Time to concentrate on Starting Pitching, then see how much money we have left after that.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Susac looked like he was going to have expanded role in 2015 too, but his hurting wrist blew that plan out of the water. He still needs to recover from the surgery, as well as the surgery being a success, first, then we can hope he has bigger role in 2016.

Royals, from what I read in articles, made a lot of free agent bets that hit big for them in 2015, certainly better than forecasted. Generally FA bets don't work out that way, at least historically, so I would expect some fall back unless they can double down and hit 00 on the roulette wheel again. But deserving team, they did it again, and, unlike the Rangers, won it the following year. Would not mind seeing 2014 redux, mano-a-mano, playing for control of the decade!

Managers benefit from repetition, I think, at least sometimes they learn from their mistakes. Bochy losing the World Series with the Padres, that burned into his brain, seared really, and that served us well from 2010 to 2014. Yost clearly learned from watching the master last year, and applied them in this year. Torres had a really horrible managerial career before hitting it big with the Yankees (the money helped too :^). So perhaps Collins will improve too, though not everyone learns.

Cespedes probably didn't cost himself money, per se (that is, money he would have had based on his work before), but could have boosted his value, like Sandoval did, by having a great World Series. Speaking of which, reminds me of Sandoval, career-wise: great first season, seeding hopes for fans, down middle years as the thrill was gone, he has the contract, no reason to excel, then puts in a pretty good free agent year this season (Sandoval would have had better last SF season if he wasn't fiddling with his hitting per Miggy's idiot advice to work more walks, screwed up his swing for about a month; he hit pretty well after that). I predict he gets a long contract, great first season, middling middle, then great last season.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I'm surprised about Aoki. But flexibility is a good thing. I guess this means they are going to pursue an OF.

Ron said...

Don't think that they're prioritizing OF, but, if they are, Alex Gordon would be a good fit.

Ron said...

Current situation:

- Iwakuma may or may not get Qualifying Offer.

- Gordon will get Qualifying Offer.

Other interesting OF's available are Ah-Seop Son, Dexter Fowler, Denard Span. I doubt that the Cardinals will let Heyward get away. Rasmus is a flake. Justin Upton is a whiff machine, but does get BB's & has other good tools. Gerardo Parra, anyone?

M.C. O'Connor said...

I always liked Parra but he's not an upgrade over Aoki. And my vision is clouded by him killing the Giants when he was with the D-backs. I'm guessing he's not that player anymore!

You think the Giants will get in on the KBO madness?

From MLBTR (note that he is on the KBO Lotte Giants):

Son, who is represented by agent Rick Thurman of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, will turn 28 during Spring Training next season. He will be posted under the old, blind-bid posting system that still applies to KBO. As a reminder, that means all 30 clubs will have the opportunity to submit a bid of any amount to secure negotiating rights for Son’s services. If Son’s team accepts the bid — and the Giants could neglect to do so if they don’t think it to be a high enough price for one of their top players — that team would then have 30 days to negotiate a big league contract with Son and Thurman. If a deal can’t be reached, Son would return to Lotte for the 2016 season, and the MLB club that won the bidding would receive its money back.

M.C. O'Connor said...

MLBTR breaks down the QO stuff.

Signing David Price will not require surrendering a draft pick but signing Zack Greinke will, for example. I wonder how much that figures in a team's decision-making. I suppose if you get an elite talent like Greinke it's worth the cost but may discourage a club from signing a second-tier player.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Now that I think about it, what a bunch of crap this QO/compensatory pick stuff is. It is a vestige of the reserve clause days. Teams still have "control" over their draft picks until arbitration and free agency and then they get a kind of insurance coverage when they "lose" free agents. How can you "lose" a free agent? And this other nonsense of bidding for international free agents or Asian players or whatnot. Stupid. All players should be free agents until they sign a contract and they should be free agents without restriction after the contract is fulfilled. And they should eliminate the draft. Players should be able to sign with whatever team they choose. The draft is antiquated and contrary to the spirit of free enterprise. Of course MLB should lose its anti-trust exemption. That would make the game more responsive to the fans as it would no longer be a monopoly. Clearly there is a lot of great baseball in the world not covered by the MLB umbrella. They don't need nor do they deserve that kind of extra-legal protection.

Just another Friday morning rant. Apologies.

GO GIANTS! Sign the best goddamn free agents!!

Zo said...

I think the bidding for international free agents is a provision promulgated by Japan and Korea baseball. I do not think it applies to Latin American players.

Yesterday's John Shea article in the Chron had two statements with which I disagree. The first said that Giants fans covet Greinke. I am a Giants fan, I do not covet Greinke, even though I acknowledge that he had a fantastic year. The second statement is that the Giants long term contracts for pitchers, for Barry Zito and Matt Cain, did not work out. The characterization of Zito's contract is consistent with conventional wisdom, although I have to remind everyone that there would be no 2012 title without him, but Matt Cain? Really? Matt was hurt this past year, but wasn't he rather instrumental in a couple of world series titles? Does "not worked out" mean getting hurt sometime during the the contract?

Brother Bob said...

After Greinke the second man on my wish list is Alex Gordon, perhaps my favorite Royal. He reminds me of Joe Rudi, insofar as he's a white left fielder on a championship team and he's not the biggest star on his team but he's a damn fine all-around player.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

As much as I like the free markets, I'm for the draft, even though it might be to the Giants advantage to have a free market.

The whole reason the draft got set up was because the rich teams (cough, Yankees) would monopolize all the best prospects by just over paying the bonus babies, because they could. I guess today, the economics are fairer, but I suspect that the major revenue teams like the Yankees and Dodgers (and Red Sox, Giants, Cubs) would get more than their fair share in a free market.

For a view into how this is likely to be true, look at the Latin America IFA market. That is basically what you will get if you get a free market. One, the market will bifurcate between the huge bonus babies and the not as good, with more money going to the best prospects, not as much to the lesser ones. Two, the richest teams would get a lot more prospects than the other teams. See the Yankees and Dodgers for examples of that. Red Sox too has been very active as well.

The Yankees cleaned up last year, blasting through the maximum, that they couldn't bid this season, so that left the Dodgers to grab a lot of them.

The Giants also grabbed one of the top names (almost two...) and overspent as well, so they will not be bidding next season.

M.C. O'Connor said...

If ALL players who wished to play MLB were subject to the same rules I'd go for a draft. But the draft is just for US players. International players go to the highest bidder, as you point out. I think one system should fit all. Obviously the Giants have reaped huge rewards from the draft but they also scored a lot of Venezuelan players for example as free agents including signing Sandoval at 16 years old. Seems like there is a large enough talent pool in the world to support lots of teams. MLB could restrict the number of players any one team can sign in a year and cap the spending to "protect" smaller market teams. But that's probably a PhD dissertation, eh? Those kinds of things are interesting to me but not particularly compelling. I find myself more irritated by the monopoly and anti-trust exemption baseball enjoys and the demands of billionaires for publicly-funded stadiums and whatnot. Baseball should be a business like any other, subject to the vagaries of the market.