Monday, December 28, 2009

Mark DeRosa: MLB Swiss Army knife

Turns 35 in February. Became a full-time player in 2006 with the Rangers, making 59 starts in RF, 40 starts at 3B, and 26 starts at 2B. His 2008 slash line with the Cubs .285/.376/.481 (117 OPS+) is better than all 2009 Giants not named Sandoval. He had 80 starts at 2B, 53 in the OF, and 10 at 3B that year, his career best (.376 wOBA in 593 plate appearances), and was worth about 3.8 WAR.

Obviously we like his versatility. He seems like the ideal Boch/Sabes player--grizzled vet, some pop, a post-season resumé, NL pedigree, can play different spots, and hits anywhere in the lineup. It would be nice if it were a younger player with upside, but that's not our way. At least, not with position players. I like our young pitchers and their upside, but this "one-Aaron-Rowand-at-a-time" philosophy of lineup construction is a teeth-gritting affair. Aaron Rowand's career line? Glad you asked: .280/.339/.448 for a .788 OPS and 102 OPS+. And now Mr. DeRosa's: .275/.343/.424 for a .767 OPS and 97 OPS+. Toss in FSanchez and that is the very definition of "league average." In fact, the NL last season had an average line of .259/.330/.409, only a .739 OPS, so we've got surplus of average we can spread around!

I've been whining all along that we need at least a "league-average" offense to win. This assumes, of course, that our awesome pitching remains awesome. I don't abide by the "bloop-double-and-two-productive-out" school of run-scoring. Sure, it's cute and perky and all that, but three-run HRs are a LOT better, no matter how boring they are. So I think we need another serious bat to complement Sandoval. Matt Holliday just might have to take a 3-year, $40 M deal instead of the 6-year $80 M payday he says he wants, and if that happens there is no reason why the Giants couldn't court him. But I figure we'll sign Juan Uribe. He can play short if/when Renteria goes down, and can handle the other three IF spots. DeRosa would work in LF, assuming Lewis gets dumped and Project Velez is abandoned. That would give Olympic Nate his shot in RF, and we could keep Panda at 3B and give Ishikawa the bulk of the time at 1B. Fielding is important, and DeRosa would likely contribute better with the glove in LF than anywhere else, he's known as a below-average infielder.

Other than that, Swiss Army knives are pretty cool. I mean, when you are backpacking you can't carry a freakin' toolbox so you have to have a half-assed scissors, a half-assed carving knife, a half-assed Phillips-head screwdriver, and a half-assed file. Having them in one convenient package is very cool. (Personally, I'm a Leatherman guy, but that's a quibble.) But if you had a choice, would you buy a proper tool for each task or just a bunch more Swiss Army knives? The Giants are going the multiple Swiss Army knife route here, I think, in their continuing quest for "league-average." I'm reminded of that old saw: careful what you wish for.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

RMC wishes everyone a Really Merry Christmas!



Sunday, December 20, 2009

Buster, Buster, Buster

Buster Posey, right now, is the most important person in the Giants organization. Unless we have a secret plan to sign Matt Holliday, it is pretty clear that the Giants are "standing pat." There's some upside to that: Sabean can't fuck up and throw away another pitching prospect or trade Jonathan Sanchez for a mediocre has-been. And Jaysus-Mary-Joseph can we please not sign Johnny-Fookin'-Damon? We could get the same performance from Fred Lewis, could we not? For the record, I'd love to sign Matt Holliday, but the cement overshoes known as Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand most likely rule that out. I'm plugging my ears and going "nee-nee-nee-nee" over and over again thinking about the $15 million that Tim Lincecum will get in arbitration. At least that dude deserves his raise.

No, it's all about Buster. CHONE says Buster will deliver a .262/.339/.399 line in 122 games (100 hits, 50 runs, 21 2B, 9 HR, 40 BB, 73 SO). Not bad for a wet-behind-the-ears kid, eh? FanGraphs has both the Bill James and fan-vote projections for 2010, and they are more generous (.270/.331/.405 with 128 hits in 131 games, 25 2B, 11 HR; and .282/.359/.438 with 105 hits in 101 games, 22 2B, 11HR). Bill James says 43 BB and 86 SO, the fans say 41 BB and 71 SO. The fans like Buster and his stats translate to 3.0 WAR. That would be something. Only Tim Lincecum (8.2), Matt Cain (3.6), and Pablo Sandoval (5.2) contributed more than 3.0 WAR to the Giants in 2009. Juan Uribe was 2.9, just for comparison. Freddy Sanchez was a 3.2, 4.8, and 3.7 WAR player at his peak (2005-2007). Wouldn't it be swell if he could conjure up a 2010 like that?

Here's what John Sickels says about Buster (after grading him our only "A" prospect):

No-brainer. All he needs is playing time.

I think we know that. Let's hope the Giants do as well. So--now that we figure the Giants are NOT going to sign a hitter or two, Buster's 2010 performance becomes that much more important. So, what do you expect from Buster next year? Check out Brian McCann, Russell Martin, Kurt Suzuki, and Joe Mauer. Where does Buster project when matched up with these established backstops?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bud Humbug

Thomas Boswell in the Washington Post writes that Commissioner Bud Selig has appointed a 14 man committee to "analyze ways to improve baseball." Mr. Boswell writes, "After the various embarrassments of this year's postseason, piled on top of a recession-plagued year with sinking attendance, MLB has decided to get serious about correcting its problems, many of which have festered for years. From excessively long games to bad umpiring to World Series games in November to the intractable DH rule, Selig says, 'There will be no sacred cows.' " You can read the entire article here.

The committee will consist of managers Joe Torre, Mike Scioscia, Jim Leyland, and Tony LaRussa and executives and owners from Philadelphia, Toronto, Atlanta, St. Louis and Baltimore. Also, Frank Robinson. Mr. Boswell then lists 10 ideas for fixing the game, including more instant replay, a proposal to make mid-inning relief pitchers pitch to at least two batters, other proposals to speed up the game by a time-saving 15 or 20 minutes (Mr. Boswell apparently thinks this 15 or 20 minutes is "the elephant in the room," not scheduling games in November and not awarding the World Series home team advantage to the winner of the All-Star team. Mr. Boswell is very enthusiastic about this committee, comparing it to a "holiday gift."

Forgive me if I don't share Mr. Boswell's enthusiasm. Bud Selig has never done anything for baseball that does not involve getting more money from the public and stuffing it into billionaires' pockets. Starting games in November that run until 1 am on school nights on the east coast? As long as tv wants it, that is not going to change, unless tv decides that they want them to START at 1 am. Tony LaRussa on a committee to decide whether to make relief pitchers pitch to at least two batters? Has Mr. Boswell ever seen Mr. LaRussa manage a game? I could see how they could collectively decide how to make life less comfortable for the umpires, but you know what? I really could care less. I get burned as anyone when a call doesn't go the Giants way, but hey, we could make it like football and basically have the game be run by video (see stories about the Dallas Cowboy stadium on How boring. Speed up the game by 15 minutes? First of all, no one, NO ONE would then think that baseball would become lively if they think it is boring now. Second, how much do you want to bet that that 15 minutes would not be filled up with trying to sell you more crap. That is what the problem with the time in baseball is - the fact that playoff games take 6 hours because 3 and a half hours of commercials are crammed in.

Are they discussing revenue sharing and how they should set a minimum salary level if they want competitiveness? I think it is obvious that some teams make more money off of revenue sharing than they pay out in salaries, never mind ticket sales and tv revenues. How do the fans of these teams feel? Are there any fans on the committee? No? How unsprising. Are they going to address the DH? No, they are going to deal with crap that is marginal and then trumpet their "findings" while ignoring the stuff they should fix.

So, over your Irish coffees, what would you change about baseball games? What do you think should be changed that actually could be (in other words, a shorter season is a non-starter)? Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Watching, waiting

The Boston Red Sox, one of the best teams in the business, jumped on John Lackey to beef up their rotation and signed Mike Cameron to mitigate the loss of Jason Bay. The Philadelphia Phillies, defending NL champs, give up Cliff Lee but get Roy Halladay, keeping their edge. The newly-crowned New York Yankees lose Hideki Matsui and Chien-Ming Wang but pick up Curtis Granderson and re-sign Andy Pettite. Big teams, big players, big moves. These guys mean business. Another team that means business is the Seattle Mariners. Last year Seattle scored 640 runs--that's 17 less than the Giants. And that's in the American League! But they gave up only 692 runs, the fewest of any AL team. The Cubs, Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers, and Giants were better, and the NL champion Phils were close at 709 RA. The Mariners were 85-77 last year, respectable, but 12 games back of the division-winning Angels. So what has Seattle done so far this off-season? They just picked up the aforementioned Cliff Lee. Wow--that's quite a 1-2 punch with Felix Hernandez. And they signed Chone Figgins--taking a key player from their division rivals--to improve the lineup. If I was Mariners fan, I'd be excited, but I'd still be hoping to add another bat. Nonetheless, the Mariners think they have a shot at the title and they are going for it.

Meanwhile, your San Francisco Giants have improved the club for the divsion race next year by __________________________ (fill in the blank). I say we've improved the club by dumping out-machine Molina and (maybe) giving the job to Mr. Golden Spikes. Otherwise, I'm still watching and I'm still waiting.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

" . . . and soon fell out of favor. . . "

FanGraphs' RJ Anderson breaks down the Garko move. He thinks it is one of the silliest of the off-season. Even if you skip the story, look at the graph comparing Adam LaRoche's wOBA with Ryan Garko's. The blue line is "league average."

Grant at McChronic is just as bewildered. Garko was worth something when we acquired him--he was worth exactly one pitching prospect. Apparently that pitching prospect had almost no value because the Giants aren't willing to pay Garko $2 M or so next year (he was paid $466 K this year).

The Giants traded for Freddy Sanchez, who was hurt and couldn't play. We gave away a pitching prospect for a guy that could not help us. Then we gave that same guy $12 M for the next two years. No audition at all for FSanchez--he had the part already. The other guy we traded for, Ryan Garko, got an audition of sorts. But the poor lad took a fall on his first entrance and that was it. The organization wrote him off and never looked back. All it cost was another pitching prospect, and we all know the Giants lead the world in pitching prospects, so we shouldn't be upset if we use them up like kleenex.

I know that Ryan Garko is nothing special, but he's a reasonably competent major-leaguer who doesn't cost a lot and can deliver value with the bat. He sounds like the kind of player we need a surplus of, not the kind of player we cut loose. According to Extra Baggs, Garko "didn't have nearly the impact the Giants hoped and soon fell out of favor with manager Bruce Bochy."

Great. Our team is run like a junior high cheerleading squad. I suppose all will be better when we give $25 million to Adam LaRoche.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A proper Irish coffee

You'll need a proper glass, of course.

Whip heavy whipping cream to a thick froth that stands. Toss 1 tsp. table sugar in the bottom of a proper Irish whiskey glass. Add 1 oz. Irish whiskey. I like Jameson, but Irish whiskey and coffee is an alchemy of sorts. You'll have to find your own right mix. Fill that glass to within 1/2-inch of the top with fresh-brewed black coffee. I like Peet's. Regardless, use a full-flavored coffee, but not too roasted. Alchemy, remember? Add 1/8-tsp. of vanilla extract to the coffee. Spoon whipping cream on the top so that it makes a nice mound. Watch the lovely strands of cream make fractal curlicues down the glass. Drink. Repeat.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Thus Spoke Sabethustra

This Torres/Velez leadoff meme refuses to die.

Andres Torres' lifetime OBP is .290 (.343 in 170 PA in 2009, career .358 in the minors)

Eugenio Velez' lifetime OBP is .305 (.308 in 307 PA in 2009, career .342 in the minors)

This is ludicrous. Velez is versatile, so I understand his appeal as a utility guy. Torres is a terrific fielder, fleet baserunner, and has some pop off the bench. He's an excellent 5th OF.

But these guys are not starters and certainly should not get the bulk of the team's ABs. Obviously the Giants are not going to keep Fred Lewis around, despite his career .355 OBP, and I understand that. His limitations as a fielder, propensity for strikeouts, and lack of power doom him as an everyday player. With his age and pending arbitration (2011), the Giants don't see a future for him. But I think he could be useful as a stopgap leadoff hitter, and certainly could do a better job as a regular than either Velez or Torres. But that's not the handwriting I read--I expect the Giants will try to trade Lewis. Whether Fred could do the job at this point is moot. This Velez/Torres platoon nonsense is here to stay. Unless we want to throw 2 years and $30 million at Johnny Damon, that is. I don't figure that to happen, do you? Meanwhile, we have a serious leadoff hitter crisis, which is certainly no worse than our who's-the-other-guy-besides-Pablo crisis, and our FSanchez-is-our-2nd-best-hitter crisis.

Since we're having a crisis of sorts, I'm going to have a Xanax.

Have a nice evening.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

JV squad for you, Buster

The Brian Trust has decided that Buster Posey will start the year in AAA. Maybe. That is, most likely. In Sabespeak (via Extra Baggs): "That's our lean now. We haven't crossed that bridge yet." So, like, they are almost mostly sure, OK? I'm down with that, you know? I'm all about Veteran Savvy Clutchness and Gamerosity. And whatever Buster has, it ain't that. Hell, does he even shave? How can you be grizzled if you aren't even shaving? This time, I'm not going to knock the Brian Trust. They know what's best. They spent a couple of cases of coke money on this fella, and if they think Fresno's the place for him, then by gum so do I. Just because some hotshot 22-year old Golden Spikes winner and first-round draft pick thinks he's the shit doesn't mean he is. Who cares if this top-tier athlete with a superb pedigree wants to strut his stuff in The Show? Who does he think he is? The fookin' Six Million Dollar Man? This wet-behind-the-ears-punk don't know nothin' and the sooner he learns that the better he'll be. The nerve of that guy--building up the fans' hopes and all. Listen Mr. Junior Varsity, just because you're the best hitter in our system in the last twenty years doesn't guarantee you a job. This is a meritocracy--you have to earn your way to the bigs, Buster. And never mind what that David Pinto guy is saying.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tongues are waggin'

MLB TradeRumors says we are pursuing Dan Uggla, Nick Johnson, and Adrian Beltre.

ExtraBaggs has a look at options that wouldn't cost a draft pick: Orlando Hudson, Miguel Tejada, Jermaine Dye, and Johnny Damon.

Haft-Baked is stuck on Yorvit Torrealba.

Mr. Haft's regular piece on the website mentions Mark DeRosa.

My favorite line from that article is "After ranking 13th in scoring, 14th in slugging percentage and 16th in on-base percentage last season, the Giants realize that almost anybody would represent an upgrade." (Emphasis mine.) Now THAT'S a rebuilding philosophy!

I never trust the words that come out of Mr. Sabean's mouth, but he indicates he does NOT want to trade pitching (i.e., JSanchez, MadBum) for a hitter unless it is a "sure thing." (Like, er, Ryan Garko?) I feel the same way. I think we have to have both lefties in the stable. You could make a case that we have our 5-man ro already set with MadBum, and don't need to chase after old guys like Brad Penny. But I think Boch & Sabes would soil their nappies at the thought of a Bum & Buster battery every 5th day--much, much too young and lacking in veteran savvy clutchness for the big leagues.

The hot stove won't really start heating up until next week. Dust off those keyboards, lads, and give me some solid reasons for going after player X and player Y, or trading/not trading player A or player B. After all, we are looking to replace some stiffs with some not-so-stiffs, and expecting our historically awesome pitching to stay that way, so I don't expect any dramatic moves. Try to avoid those Euguenio Velez-for-Evan Longoria fantasies, mm-kay?

UPDATE: I would like the Giants to STOP messing with Pablo Sandoval. Give him a job--a permanent position--and be done. If he's our 3B, then don't chase a FA 3B. If he is our 1B, then stick him there and leave him there. He's our best hitter! Build the team around him, don't treat him as a fungible commodity and figure you'll "find a spot" for him. And FanGraphs takes a look at Joe Crede and Dan Uggla if you are curious about what people think of these guys.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bye-bye Bengie?

The Giants did not offer arbitration to Bengie Molina. I thought they might, figuring he was as good as gone and they'd get compensatory picks when he signed elsewhere. They decided to forgo that opportunity, and I'm not sure why. Did they think the free-agent market would be so soft that they might be stuck over-paying Bengie for another year? Despite his monumental out-making prowess, Molina has the HR/RBI numbers that might play well in arbitration. Were the Giants afraid Molina would accept arb and get a raise? I suppose we'll never know, as the stuff that comes out of Sabean's mouth is nothing but obfuscatory gubble for Chronicle readers and casual fans. Is this a signal that the Giants have finally cut ties with Señor Slow? I hope that's the case. After all, if you want to wallow in nightmarish paranoia, Bengie's free agency means the Giants can now join his list of suitors! I know, Sabes is going to trade Buster Posey for the big hitter we need and then re-sign his favorite hacker. Brilliant! Just shoot me now!!!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Buster Posey >> Joe Mauer !!!!!

Joe Mauer's career minor league line:

.332/.407/.426 (.833 OPS)

Joe Mauer's major league line:

.327/.408/.483 (.892 OPS, 136 OPS+)

Buster Posey's minor league line:

.327/.421/.538 (.959 OPS)

Buster Posey's projected major league line (based on my advanced proprietary algorithm):



Buster Posey is better than Joe Mauer!!!!

It's NOT projection! It's SCIENCE!!