Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Travel

Baseball Savant has a feature about team travel distances. We all know that West Coast teams log the most air miles and this coming season is no different:

Here's a graphical look. You can run an animation on the Baseball Savant site for each club or for the entire league.

One of the features of the 2023 season is a series in México City. The Giants will face the San Diego Padres in Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú on April 29th and 30th. And yes, the Giants do play the Seattle Mariners, they have a home series with them July 3rd through 5th. That means they will travel to Seattle in 2024. If you have not looked at the Giants 2023 itinerary, you should. They open the season at Yankee Stadium!

It's Thanksgiving and that means travel time for many. Have a safe and happy holiday!

--M.C.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Roster updates

The Giants non-tendered several players who now become free agents. Perhaps the most notable is lefty reliever Jarlín García. He's been a mainstay of the 'pen, appearing in 58 games in each of the last two seasons, but his 2022 performance was a drop-off from his excellent 2021. He will catch on with another club. Relievers Alex Young (L) and Mauricio Llovera (R) were also let go as was infielder Donovan Walton. Jason Vosler was also notably DFAd (and since non-tendered) earlier. He hit well in 111 PA and was up and down from AAA multiple times but could not stick with the club.

The Giants avoided arbitration with Mike Yastrzemski by signing him to a one-year, $6.5M deal. Southpaw Scott Alexander, who signed a minors deal in May and was promoted to the majors in August, was inked for one year at $1.2M.

Joc Pederson comes back after accepting the Qualifying Offer ($19.6M). Evan Longoria is officially a free agent after the Giants declined their option. He could still return to the team as there is (reportedly) some remaining mutual interest. He says 2023 will be his final go-round. Carlos Rodón declined his option and rejected his QO and hits the open market as perhaps the most desirable FA pitcher. Although Jacob DeGrom and Justin Verlander are also free agents Rodón seems most likely to get a multi-year deal given DeGrom's injury history and Verlander's age. Brandon Belt is a free agent (he accepted a QO last season) and there's been no word about him so far.

The Giants traded a minors OF (Tristan Peters) to the Rays for IF Brett Wisely. He's a lefty hitter who slashed .274/.371/.461 in 500 PA at Montgomery in the Southern League (AA).

Arb-eligible players remaining include Logan Webb, Jakob Junis, J.D. Davis, Austin Slater, John Brebbia, Thairo Estrada, LaMonte Wade, Jr., and Tyler Rogers. The deadline to re-sign those players is in January, otherwise they go to arbitration. Webb, Rogers, and Wade are a free agents in 2026, Davis and Slater in 2025, Brebbia and Junis in 2024. Estrada is under team control until 2027.

RHPs Tristan Beck (AAA), Jose Cruz (A+), and Keaton Winn (AA) were added to the 40-man. SS Marco Luciano and OF Luis Matos were also included. Both will start the year at AA-Richmond. Lefty-hitting middle infielder Isan Díaz was purchased from Miami earlier this year and is also on the 40-man. He has ML experience (145 G) and will likely get a shot to make the team this spring.

MLBTR reports that the Giants are interested in free agent reliever Kenley Jansen who needs no introduction. They have also been linked to NPB right-hander Kodai Senga. I should note that the Dodgers cut ties with Cody Bellinger and he is now a free agent. He's only 27. Some team will take a chance on him. And I refuse to discuss Aaron Judge as I fully expect him to remain with the Yankees.

So, is there someone out there you'd like to see sign with the Giants? (Here's the free agent list.) What moves do the Giants need to make? (I say sign Webb to a multi-year deal and make a big-time offer to Rodón). 

--M.C.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Rule changes for 2023

Baseball will be different next season. Here's an article on mlb.com that breaks it down. The three big changes will be a pitch clock, a ban on shifts, and larger bases.

The pitch clock is a fundamental change. Baseball has always been a "timeless" sport and the introduction of a timer is unfortunate. I've always felt that the best way to improve pace-of-play was to give the umpires the authority to enforce the rules. Alas, people don't pay to see the umpires. They want to see their heroes and if their hero has to step out of the box and adjust his velcro straps after every pitch than so be it. No one likes to watch a pitcher take forever to throw, but if he's your guy and he gets the job done then it's hard to complain. But with nine-inning games routinely going over three hours something had to be done. Certainly we know that TV has the biggest impact. Commercial breaks are too long and there's too much time devoted to TV stuff like those abominable in-game interviews. If I could change one thing about TV broadcasts it would be to ban all TV people from the playing field and dugouts during the game!

In the end I think the clock is a good change. Pace-of-play is important. Pitcher-batter duels should be tense and exciting and not interminable. The news from the minor leagues is generally positive. Players have adapted to the clock without much trouble. Game times have decreased by 20-30 minutes. That's not a lot, but it's a start. At least this rule will actually speed the game up unlike the stupid three-batter rule which has not made a dent in game times.

Banning the shift is a mistake in my mind. I think a player should be able to position himself anywhere he thinks the batter is going to hit the ball. In 2023 all four infielders will have to be on the infield dirt when the pitch is thrown. Also, the SS and 3B have to stay on the left side of the infield and the 1B and 2B have to stay on the right side. We won't see Brandon Crawford or Evan Longoria in short right field any more! This move is supposed to create more balls in play. I'm not so sure. Some players will benefit, but the effect will be small. I think this change is to appease the fans. Baseball fans are traditionalists and they hate the idea that their favorite lefty masher hits a screamer through the 3-4 hole, something that's been a hit for decades, and the SS or 3B sitting in RF makes a play on it and gets the batter out. There will no longer be four outfielder alignments in MLB. That doesn't mean you couldn't move an OF over to cover that spot. Maybe we'll see an occasional LF scooting over to short RF!

The final change has to do with the bases. They will be a little larger. And second base has been slightly re-positioned to better align with the other bases. That re-alignment is overdo of course. The perpendicular lines (to the foul lines) drawn from outfield edges of first base and third base meet, right now, in the middle of second base. The base will be moved in, toward the plate, so that those perpendiculars meet at the outfield side of the base (the apex of the infield diamond), which makes more sense. (Here's an article with a diagram.)

MLB wants more stolen bases. The quants have shown that the risk/reward for steals is too low for most situations and teams have run less as a result. Fans miss speedsters and their daring base-swiping exploits. Maybe Billy Hamilton will get a job again! Also, throws to first base will be limited. That's a weird one. If base stealers know that the pitcher has used up his two pickoff attempts he will be more likely to run. I never had a problem with pickoff throws. I don't think limiting them will help the game. But I do like the larger bases, and I'm OK with encouraging the running game. We all know that pitchers control the flow--catchers don't throw out base-stealers if pitchers can't keep them close.

Overall I think the trend is for more athleticism. Pitchers will have to shorten their deliveries to keep runners honest. And they'll have to do my favorite thing: WORK QUICKLY! Whether this will result in better outcomes for batters is hard to say. Certainly middle infielders will have to work harder. That's going to put a premium on speed and agility for SS and 2B. Maybe glove-first guys will stick around longer and we'll see more late-game defensive substitutes.

Anyway, it's something to talk about. What do you guys think?

--M.C.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Outfield help

Take a look at the list of free agent outfielders:

Left Fielders

Albert Almora (29)
Andrew Benintendi (28)
Michael Brantley (36)
Kole Calhoun (35)
Willie Calhoun (28)
Aledmys Diaz (32)
Corey Dickerson (34)
Adam Duvall (34)
Ben Gamel (31)
Robbie Grossman (33)
Trey Mancini (31)
Andrew McCutchen (36)
Joc Pederson (31)
David Peralta (35)
Tommy Pham (35)
Chad Pinder (31)
A.J. Pollock (35)
Jurickson Profar (30)

Center Fielders

Greg Allen (30)
Albert Almora (29)
Jackie Bradley Jr. (33)
Lorenzo Cain (37)
Jonathan Davis (31)
Adam Duvall (34)
Michael Hermosillo (28)
Odubel Herrera (31)
Travis Jankowski (32)
Aaron Judge (31)
Kevin Kiermaier (33) – $13MM club option with a $2.5MM buyout
Jake Marisnick (32)
Tyler Naquin (32)
Brandon Nimmo (30)
Brett Phillips (29)
Kevin Pillar (34)
A.J. Pollock (35)
Magneuris Sierra (27)

Right Fielders

Albert Almora (29)
Luis Barrera (27)
Jackie Bradley Jr. (33)
Kole Calhoun (35)
Travis Demeritte (28)
Joey Gallo (29)
Ben Gamel (31)
Robbie Grossman (33)
Mitch Haniger (32)
Aaron Judge (31)
Nomar Mazara (28)
Andrew McCutchen (36)
Wil Myers (32)
Tyler Naquin (32)
Chad Pinder (31)
Stephen Piscotty (32)

Then go to FanGraphs and sort the leaderboard for outfielders. (I set a minimum of 300 ABs.) What you get is a list of 113 players. Free agent Aaron Judge of course leads the list with his ridiculous 11.4 fWAR. After the ~6-WAR group of Yordan Alvarez, Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, and Jeff McNeil you come upon another free agent, Brandon Nimmo (5.4 fWAR). That's a couple of guys that would help any ball club. Judge would require a massive commitment. FanGraphs thinks it will be about 8 years and $300M. Nimmo's projection is 5 years and $100M. (They also think it will take 5 years and $130M to get Carlos Rodón).

It's not my money. The Giants have plenty, it seems, so they should spend freely. Albatross contracts won't be a problem in four or five years because SFG Inc. will have gobs of cash flowing in from their many other subsidiary (real estate) businesses. At least that's what it seems like--who knows the real story? It's a private concern, not a public corporation, so we'll never know for sure what kind of wealth they really have.

Here's something to think about. The Giants have two players, Mike Yastrzemski and Austin Slater, that grade out at #34 (Yaz, 2.2 WAR) and #37 (Slater, 2.1 WAR). If you sort the list for "CF" instead of "OF" those two players are #13 and #15. Both players are still arb-eligible. Yaz is a FA in 2026, Slater in 2025.

It's hard to find good major-league outfielders. There aren't that many of them. And if you expect them to play centerfield you make the list even smaller. A CF platoon of Yaz and Slater is better than what a lot of teams can put out there.

What do you think the Giants should do to improve their outfield for 2023?

--M.C.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

'Stros seal Series in Six

The Philadelphia Phillies saw their magical post-season run end last night in Houston. They lost three straight games in the Series after taking a 2-1 lead. Astros pitchers were too good and they held the Phils to a mere three runs in the final 27 frames. The Astros were too good overall. That's a very deep club. Their hitters wore down both of the Phils top starters--Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler--and both of their top relievers--Jose Alvarado and Seranthony Dominguez. I liked the Phillies and was hoping for an upset but I'm not surprised that the Astros won. They were just too strong and had an answer for everything.

That's four World Series appearances in six seasons for Houston with two wins. Five players on this championship squad played on the 2017 team: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel, Justin Verlander, and Lance McCullers, Jr.

Now we can talk about the Giants!

--M.C.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

On to the Series

The Houston Astros dispatched the New York Yankees in seemingly effortless fashion. That's a team without any apparent weaknesses. They go to the World Series for the second straight season. The Philadelphia Phillies continued their magical run with a bruising take down of the feisty San Diego Padres. That was a tougher fight than the 4-1 tally would indicate. I like this Phillies team. Let's hope they turn the tables on the favorites. Bookmakers like the Astros: the moneyline -170. That's an expected win probability of almost 63%!*

In other news, Bruce Bochy comes out of retirement and joins the Texas Rangers as their new manager. It's a three-year deal. Boch is 67. Some guys just can't stay retired. That's sure not me!

Game 1 is Friday (5:03 Pacific) at Minute Maid Park.

--M.C.

 

*divide 170 by 100+170 and multiply the result by 100

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

LCS

In the National League the upstarts won. The defending champion Braves and juggernaut Dodgers were both bounced out of the playoffs. The NLCS is a wildcard affair. The Phillies took the first game from the Padres with great pitching and timely homers. I hope it is a seven-game set. I like that both teams were underdogs and found their groove at the right time. I've no rooting interest: either club in the Series would be fine with me.

Unfortunately the American League was boring and produced the Astros-Yankees matchup everyone expected. Yuck. I will be rooting for both teams to lose. The Astros are -180 favorites.

--M.C.