Tuesday, January 5, 2016

25 in 2014

You must have figured that I had the 2014 World Series on DVD as well and that I'd post something about that team. You were right. The Giants won Game Seven on the road. That doesn't happen all that much in the post-season. Something to savor!

Current Giants in italicized bold. *Starred players were on the 2010 post-season roster. †Daggered players were on the 2012 post-season roster.

There were 12 pitchers:

*†Jeremy Affeldt: retired.
*†Madison Bumgarner: signed through 2017 with options for '18 and '19.
*†Santiago Casilla: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Tim Hudson: retired.
*†Tim Lincecum: a free agent.
*†Javier Lopez: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Jean Machi: signed a minor-league contract with the Cubs.
Jake Peavy: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Yusmeiro Petit: with the Washington Nationals.
*†Sergio Romo: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
Hunter Strickland: pre arb-eligible.
†Ryan Vogelsong: with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Two catchers:

*†Buster Posey: signed through 2021.
Andrew Susac: arb-eligible in 2018.

Six infielders:

†Joaquin Arias: signed a minor-league deal with Arizona Diamondbacks.
Brandon Belt: third year of arbitration.
Brandon Crawford: signed through 2021.
Matt Duffy: arb-eligible in 2018.
Joe Panik: arb-eligible in 2018.
*†Pablo Sandoval: with the Boston Red Sox.

Five outfielders:

Gregor Blanco: signed for 2016, eligible for free agency in '17.
*Travis Ishikawa: a free agent.
Michael Morse: with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Hunter Pence: signed through through 2018.
Juan Perez: signed a minor-league deal with the Chicago Cubs.

The 2016 infield will be anchored by the Fabulous Brandons--Belt at first and Crawford at short--each sporting rings from 2012 and 2014. Joe Panik will be flashing his 2014 ring at second and Matt Duffy, be-ringed from 2014 as well, will hold down the hot corner. With Buster Posey behind the plate showing off three rings that's one hell of a group. Youth and experience (BCraw just edges out Buster as the oldest at 28) with a championship pedigree. Backup backstop Andrew Susac has his hardware, too. Buster, by the way, started every playoff and Series game. Susac got in two innings at the end of the 10-0 loss to KC in Game Six, otherwise it was Posey back there. The Giants will be very strong "on the dirt."

No slouches in the outfield either as the Giants greensward patrol is jewelry-laden. Angel Pagan was a stalwart on the 2012 team but did not make the 2014 post-season roster unlike his teammates Hunter Pence and Gregor Blanco. Those two started every post-season game in both 2012 and 2014. Pence played every inning and Blanco missed only the last two innings of the 2012 LDS (Xavier Nady! finished up). Again, you have to love the championship experience. Pagan is the old man at 34 with Pence and Blanco two years younger.

Pitching is the key, as we have learned, and the 26-year old Madison Bumgarner is the unquestioned ace, bedecked in rings (three, like Buster) as well as glory. Matt Cain, of course, was a stud for the first two championships but had to watch in 2014. The bullpen trio of Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, and Javier Lopez have nine rings between them (ten if you add in Lopez' time with Boston) and some life left for 2016. Losing Affeldt from the Core Four certainly hurts but I think the 'pen will survive and thrive once again. Note that the The Key Three are all free agents in 2017. Jake Peavy has had his post-season struggles but he earned his 2014 ring (and still has one from the 2013 Red Sox). Newcomer Johnny Cueto's last start of 2015 was a World Series shutout for his winning side, the Royals. Flash that sporty jewelry, man! Again, a deep and experienced bunch of champions. Lopez gets oldest man honors at 38.

Tim Lincecum pitched in all three post-seasons. Ace. Stud reliever. Mop-up man. I think the Giants should bring him back as a closer. Don't you think he'd be great at that? I think he should embrace his inner finisher. Pablo Sandoval is of course the other player who was there on all three 25-man rosters but we moved on from that divorce. His .344/.389/.545 line in 39 games (167 PA) is all-time great territory and will be fondly remembered. I suppose we are all wondering if he'll last in Boston--last year's abysmal .658 OPS was 133 points below his career mark. He turns 30 in August.

There you have it. Bring on 2016!



Zo said...

You have to throw strikes to be a closer. They don't have to be bullets (ask Trevor Hoffman), but they have to be strikes. If Tim can throw strikes, then I'm all for it. That seems like a fairly sizable "if" for now.

Ron said...

Well, the Giants have gone for my least preferred option, Denard Span. He has been a decent player at various points in the past, but has had some injuries & is very ineffective v. LHP. I always thought that the switch-hitting Fowler was the better option, assuming that the Giants were not going to compete in the upper echelon of OF's. Maybe, Fowler wanted too much $ or a commitment about being in the starting lineup that the Giants were unwilling to give. Span seems to be coming at a minimum cost of between $10 & 11M per year for 3 years.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Span signed for less than the pundits predicted. And as I've said many times "I'd take anybody on a 3-year deal." But Span ain't "anybody" and what the Giants needed was depth and Span gives them that in spades. Speed, good OBP, excellent contact hitter/line drive hitter, solid D, good fit for the team. He's a Boras client and a relative bargain. Go figure that! Fowler is younger but costs a draft pick. Seems like there's not a significant enough difference in talent or production. I'm glad the Giants stayed away from the high-priced outfielders as they would require in my view too many years on the contract. I think it's a dandy move. Giants have done very well in the off-season. 2016 is shaping up nicely.

Zo said...

Interesting that Cespedes is still unsigned. Perhaps he is asking too much in $ or time. I had read where the Giants were "interested."

M.C. O'Connor said...

Alex Gordon 4 years/$72M, does that set the bar for Cespedes? Is he a 5 yr/$100M player? He probably thinks so and MLBTR says he'll command 6/140. Yikes. No way I want to see the team make that commitment to an OF. Span is a "Giants" type--contact hitter, doesn't whiff much, speed, glove. A better Blanco, and Blanco is a good player. Hey, that's OK by me!

M.C. O'Connor said...

Well, I take that back. I'd give Bryce Harper a king's ransom for 10 years. Or Mike Trout!

campanari said...

Ron says Span is very ineffective against LHP. His career average against LHP is .274. That's "very ineffective"?

Span was my top preference because he was the only way through free agency to solve the CF problem, as to replacing Pagan, moving him to a less demanding position so that the Giants can get the most from him, and still leaving an inviting opening, in 2017, for Williamson et al. In LF. He is senior enough and stellar enough to give the team the best chance of moving Pagan without bruising his ego harmfully. He's a player who's much less likely than Upton or Cepedes to find AT&T frustrating because of its suppressing HRs, without any implication in that surmise that he's much less productive than they are. I don't put much stock in WAR projections for players who switch teams, therefore roles, home parks, and divisional competition; but Span's 2016 projections per Fangraphs run 0.5 fWAR or less below theirs, at I assume much less money and fewer years. The rationales in MC O'C's arguments for him are also, enthusiastically, mine as well.

JC Parsons said...

I've been waiting until all the moves were done before letting loose with the random insights/predictions/BS. Think it is all done now? Probably...maybe another reliever (or three) but I think it is time.

My prediction for the off season was basically: Leake and Zimmermann and fix everything else from within (except for those two or three interchangeable relievers mentioned above). Way wrong on the specifics, but at least I got the general categories right. Or perhaps I should say the Giants got the general categories right. Sure, it was pretty obvious what we needed, however that doesn't always translate into the offseason moves we get.

This year's actual moves are WAY more exciting than mine. Also much more RISKY. I'm a big Cueto fan, his upside is tremendous. After all, anybody that wins the LAST GAME of the year with a 2 hitter is a WORLD CHAMP and he fits right in with our own bejeweled MadBum. His crazy hair and Luis Tiant moves are hella fun to watch. When he is on your team. The Shark dude is harder to get excited about; last season was a nightmare and his last team and fan base seem very happy to be rid of him. He's got the crazy hair but apparently no fun to watch. Unless you like opposing team homers. However, it is real easy to see our ballpark, our defense, and our pitching coach make a big positive impact on his production. Even if he doesn't turn all his trends around, do we need him to? Isn't he our fourth starter, maybe fifth? I suppose I'm jumping the gun on Cain, but shit look at the title of the blog! Matt is Matt and I refuse to see him as anything but a top tier starter. Anyway, I digress. My point is that Samardzila just needs to gobble innings and hold down the bottom of the rotation. I like his chances for success in that role.

The Denard Span (cool name) acquisition is my favorite, or maybe tied with Cueto. He fits our ballpark and our future extremely well. The dude is a top flight CF, gold glove type. He better take over for Pagan on day one; I can't see Angel being bent about that. He probably should lead off too. I just watched his interview as a Giant and he sure said everything right. Defense, OBP, speed, and no dingers; exactly what I always say we need to have. Sorry all you dinger happy folk but this is the right guy for the next few years.

On paper, we are starting to look quite tasty. Of course, we will not get all those lovely "best case scenarios" and the moves we made ALL involve some substantial risk, BUT we sure as hell met our needs head on. Any disagreement on that? Now, the exact way we met those needs.....Any agreement on that?

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

I currently love the Span deal because of what it does for our offense and defense at a moderate cost plus no loss of prospects.

However, the note about his LHP decline got me to look into that. True, his BA is .274 and his OBP is .351, both good, but most of those were compiled early in his career. His 3 year record vs. LHP is not as good, I don't have time to calc exacts, but his BA is under .250 and his OBP is under .300 vs. LHP over the past three years. So that is certainly a problem.

If he is healthy and capable of delivering above average defense in CF, that would help make up for that problem, plus perhaps Bochy will rest him against tough LHP and start the fifth OF if he is a RHH, that would help ease that problem some. The Giants seem to have some magic about getting their LHH hitting LHP well (having a LHP throwing BP?), and maybe Crawford can pass some of Bonds' tips to Span as well.

But yeah, potential problem area, and this predates his injury, unless he's been dealing with the hernia since 2013.

Ron said...

Sorry to rain on everyone's parade, but, as pointed out, his BA against lefties has dropped badly. And, his defensive metrics are trending downward, too. He's about an average OF. So, overall a very slight upgrade over Aoki - not a big deal by any means. Not a bad move, but hardly moves the needle really.

campanari said...

Rain? I think we have some umbrellas. Last year he was ineffective against LHP in 69 PA. Since he was dealing with injuries and since the number of PA is so small, that stat isn't worth an isobar in the weather report, is it? Or should we have compensatory glee that in more PA he hit .335 against righties? In 2014, he hit .269 against LHP, five points lower than the career figure I cited and that ogc and Ron think misleading. It is true that he dipped badly in 2013 (.223), but in 2012 was at .275. Ron and ogc may think that two years at ca. career ave., one weak year, and one SSS + injury year represents a trend, but OK/not-OK/OK preceding the injury year doesn't look like trending to me.

As to the comp with Aoki, Steamer projects 1.0 fWAR for Aoki in 2016, with negative WAR offensively and defensively. It projects 2.6 at the moment for Span, with a slight positive defensive WAR and a 5.5 offensive WAR. Aoki played well for us till his injuries in 2015, and I advocated signing him in a couple of posts before the Giants did so, but Span is a decided upgrade according to past performance and projections.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Span is an upgrade over Aoki. One, he can play CF. Even an "average" CF is valuable as it is the more demanding and of course more important position. Aoki is also older. Span produced 3-4 fWAR/season from 2012-2014, Aoki has never reached that level. Span's recent injury, not his talent, is the risk for the Giants. He is clearly a better all-around player. As far as "moving the needle" if you get ONE player that creates more runs on offense and saves more runs on defense that is a big deal, especially for an already good team, even if they are modest improvements. Span, if healthy, will do that easily.

M.C. O'Connor said...

And JC, happy to hear you chime in. Getting Cueto gives the Giants the big 1-2 punch they lacked, much like LA had with Kershaw-Greinke, don't you think? And you nailed it with the Tiant vibe. Guy will be fun to watch! His signing made the team better instantly.

Whether Samardzija or Cain becomes the no. 3 is really irrelevant. With the Giants excellent run-scoring and great fielding, both pitchers ought to be able to deliver lots of quality outings. Looking for steady performance and fewer missed turns behind the aces. They don't have to throw shutouts, just reduce the frequency of disaster starts and keep the team in the game. If they attain ace-like outcomes, so much the better! Cain has the recent injury history so it's not surprising Samardzija is projected higher. And I am excited by him more than most. Think of how Ryan Vogelsong finally put his game together in SF and was a champion. Yusmeiro Petit also comes to mind. That's how I see this playing out. Others have pointed to Jason Schmidt undergoing the same transformation. I think that's the rationale behind the signing. They see a big, strong, talented guy with stamina and experience who just needs a better situation and perhaps a little mechanical tweaking. And don't forget you have Buster calling games and framing pitches--that's a huge benefit to a pitcher.

campanari said...

I'll add that I don't think that ogc's looking at aggregates for Span vs LHP works well, though I usually admire ogc's work and imagination with stats greatly. Again, as with BA vs LHP I am tossing out 2015 as a year when the stats are of much predictive help, because of both injury, which affects one's swing, and SSS. Span's OBP against LHP was .337, .374, .278, and .337 in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 respectively. The oldest and most recent of these numbers are OK, the second oldest very good, and the second most recent weak. In his career, Span has generally hit LHP less well than RHP, as is true of most left-handed hitters, but the ups and downs of his OBP against them, like the fluctuations in his BA against them, suggest that aggregates over some years ignore local causation (injuries of course, but also freaks of BABIP) and don't portray general trends in his skills. But it's the general trends that help one project future performance. If there's a potential problem with Span vs LHP, it's not decline or a weakness discovered when he moved from the AL to the NL, but a likelihood of local fluctuations that may or mayn't be unusual--I don't know--and that can't be overall planned for.

campanari said...

One further comment and then I'll quit, unless my arguments are challenged. In the same year that injured Span hit .197 against LHP in 69 PAs, injured Hunter Pence hit the same, .200, against LHP in 41 PA. Span hit only .223 against LHP in 2013, and in 2012 Pence hit only .235 against LHP. We have almost as much reason to fret about Pence vs LHP, then, as we have to fret about Span. Or, more properly, almost as little reason to fret about Pence as we have about Span, for in the surrounding years each of them did just fine.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Good point about his injured 2015 season affecting his LHP stats, as well as the SSS factor. And I've been wrong many times before, much to my dismay, I'm not perfect. :^D

Still, there has been a downward trend, first two seasons, roughly .875 OPS, then four of the next five seasons, roughly .700 OPS, but, while to your point, 2015 is SSS and injury affected, it is just as bad as it was in 2013, .539 in 2013, .543 in 2015.

I'll agree that some of it is BABIP luck, driving numbers up and down, but I think it's enough to say that you cannot say either way whether he's still good vs. LHP, or if he's at a lower level skill-wise versus LHP. Though it does look like his peripherals vs. LHP looks the same (would have to do exact calculations). It is a problem area because we don't know whether he is in decline or if, as you say it, it's just a BABIP blip.

Now, another thing that changed over the past three years is that he moved to Washingon and playing for the Nationals. According to the park factors, the park does not affect LHH all that much. Plus, he actually hit well in his first two seasons in Washington, but then did really poorly in 2015. So it could just be a coincidence

We probably will never know, because the Giants do try to teach LHH how to hit LHP better, seems to be in their DNA. Unless he does poorly, of course.