Thursday, February 28, 2019

Who's Running the Show?

I honestly don't know.  We hired a guy, Farhan Zaidi, as President of Baseball Operations.  He was hired because he was an "analytics" guy.  And "analytics" tells us that long-term, expensive contracts are not a very productive way to build a winning ball club.  Because of that, we're not seeing so many of them and players and agents are whining about collusion.  Farhan Zaidi has had a big role in building a winning ball club, with that blue-ish team down in LA.  That team may be nearly unmentionable to Giants fans, but you have to admit, they have done a good job of winning.  Like, in the playoffs each of the past 6 years, in the world series the past 2.  I know, they haven't won it all, but they have been in a position to do so, unlike the Giants lately.

One of the reasons the Giants went out and got a shiny, new President of Baseball Operations, was that our previous GM, Bobby Evans, signed a number of players to long-term contracts that have not been very productive, and have certainly not made the Giants into a winning team.  Mark Melancon is a case in point, having pitched a total of 69 innings in his 2 years of service as a closer for $15.5 million per year.  You are, of course, familiar with others.  Injuries are part of it, perhaps a big part, but the fact is, the Giants have not been a competitive team the past couple of years.

So here we are, and word is that the Giants are offering Bryce Harper, a guy who's stats are the poorest in Oracle nee PhoneCo of any major league stadium, a long-term contract of, maybe, more than 10 years and more than $300 million.  How new is this "new direction"?  How "analytical" is this long-term deal?

This is today's bit from on the Bryce Harper shitshow.  I don't know what Bob Nightengale knows.  I honestly don't understand what the Giants are doing.  I don't know if Farhan Zaidi is running the team or not.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Spring Training Notes

Tomorrow is the first spring game, and here's the lineup:

via Kerry Crowley/twitter


Monday, February 18, 2019

Bochy to Retire

Bruce Bochy announced today that this will be his final season as a manager. That ends much of the speculation surrounding him, don't you think? He turns 64 in April and 2019 will be his 25th as a big-league skipper. He'll have over 4000 games managed by the end of this year and only seven other guys have done that: Connie Mack, Tony LaRussa, John McGraw, Bobby Cox, Bucky Harris, Joe Torre, and Sparky Anderson. That's some remarkable company! Only ten guys have three (or more) World Series rings as a manager: Casey Stengel, Joe McCarthy, Mack, Torre, Walter Alston, LaRussa, McGraw, Anderson, Miller Huggins, and Boch. Again, not a bad bunch to be a part of.


p.s. There's a season's worth of chances to say it, but I should have said it first thing: THANKS, BOCH!!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

A peek at the 'pen

Not much went well for the Giants last season but they did see some strong performances from the relief corps. Rookie Reyes Moronta dazzled with 79 whiffs in 65 IP, and kept a lid on scoring with 20 RA on only 34 hits. Look for the burly righty to see a lot of action in 2019. Well-traveled veteran Sam Dyson delivered 70-1/3 IP of similar quality relief without the 97+ mph gas of his younger teammate. Dyson, also a righty, was a closer in Texas in 2016 (38 SV). Lefty Tony Watson was picked up just before the season started and he was a mainstay, generating 1.8 bWAR in his 72 appearances, walking only 14 batters and allowing only four homers. His fellow southpaw Will Smith was equally dominant in his 54 games, becoming the team's closer down the stretch and earning the coveted Willie Mac Award. He missed all of 2017 due to Tommy John surgery.

Sophomore Moronta is obviously still under team control and Dyson is due for another year of arbitration in 2020 before becoming a free agent in 2021. Watson has a player option for 2020 and Smith is a free agent after this season.

Injury-plagued right-hander Mark Melancon is still around and is signed through next season. He was a star closer in Pittsburgh (51 SV in 2015) but has not been healthy for most of his time in San Francisco. Recent acquisition Pat Venditte (ven-DITTY) is a unique character in that he pitches both left-handed and right-handed. He's also a switch-hitter! I'm guessing he'll make the team if he has a good spring, he has just a little over a year of service time. Another left-handed arm to keep an eye on is Travis Bergen, he's on the 40-man roster, but has no big-league experience. Righties Trevor Gott and Jose Lopez are also new to the team, Gott came up as a 22-year old with the Angels in 2015, Lopez has yet to appear in the majors.

They'll be competing with some familiar names like Ray Black, Ty Blach (he made 13 starts in 2018), Steven Okert and Tyler Beede who are still in the mix. Derek Law was cut loose but still invited to camp. Josh Osich was also DFA'd and I don't know his status. Neither Cory Gearrin nor Pierce Johnson are with the team anymore. Chris Stratton and Andrew Suarez will be around hoping to be starters but one may wind up a reliever. Dereck Rodriguez made 19 starts last season and looked good, he may grab one of the spots again. The top four appear to be set with Bumgarner, Samardzija, Holland, and new guy Drew Pomeranz, but that's another post.

Check out Roster Resource for more details! No other news on the Giants front this weekend.


Saturday, February 16, 2019

New Old Faces

The Giants have signed several veteran ballplayers in the last few days to minor-league deals. Those come, it seems, with an invitation to camp and a chance to compete for a roster spot. The latest is Cameron Maybin who has been with several teams but Giants fans probably remember him best in a Padres uniform. He's a former first-round pick (2005, #10) and an established glove-man, primarily as a centerfielder. At 31 he's been in the majors a remarkable 12 seasons, debuting in 2007 as a 20-year old. Also in the mix is Gerardo Parra, at one time a rising star with the Diamondbacks, who plays all three outfield spots, and has spent the last few seasons with the Rockies, thus another familiar fellow. Versatile infielder Yangervis Solarte--who we've also seen with the Padres--is hoping to bounce back after a rough 2017, having been a roughly 6-bWAR player from 2014-2017. Both are also 31. There is nothing to dislike about these signings, they are the perfect players to add depth and to measure the youngsters against. All three are accomplished major-leaguers but don't take up a spot--yet--on the 40-man. I think this is the kind of stuff FZ cut his teeth on with Billy Beane in Oakland.


p.s. I neglected to mention Craig Gentry, a 35-year old outfielder, probably because he's not as familiar as the above group even though he spent two seasons ('14-'15) with the Athletics. He came up with the Rangers in '09 and has also played for the Angels and the Orioles. He is also mostly known as a glove-first type, logging 1972 innings as a centerfielder over his ten seasons.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Camp '19

The Giants started their spring today in case you missed it. It isn't a spring for fanfare, that's for sure. Expectations for the club are low and off-season activity has involved, mostly, the fringes of the 40-man. Gerardo Parra signed a minor-league deal, for example. He's got a shot to make the team as a corner OF. No disrespect to Mr. Parra, but that's the state of things.

The big fellows like Bum and Buster and the Brandons, as well as the free agents, haven't produced to expectations in the last few seasons.They are still here. Either management believes they'll bounce back or they are too financially constrained to do anything about it. Neither gives hope to the odds-makers. The consensus is that the '19 Giants will be much like the '18 Giants.

I think we'll see improvements from the big fellows, actually. A mostly full season of health from that group of players will mean a lot. The Giants are replacing Andrew Suarez and Chris Stratton with Jeff Samardzija and Drew Pomeranz. I think that will make the rotation better. And we already know they have a deep and flexible bullpen. That should be a team strength. Stephen Vogt, Cameron Rupp, and Rene Rivera have all been signed to minor-league deals. Backup catcher will be a key position with Posey coming off surgery and I suspect they will all be in camp along with Aramis Garcia. Joe Panik and Evan Longoria round out the infield, and it is anyone's guess what they will deliver, but I'm going to be an optimist and look for them to be more valuable to the team this season. Abiatal Avelino, Alen Hanson, and Pablo Sandoval are still around in utility and backup roles. Obviously there are serious questions in the outfield, all we can be sure of is that Stephen Duggar, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Chris Shaw, Drew Ferguson, Henry Ramos, and Anthony Garcia are in the mix. And the aforementioned Gerardo Parra, of course. I expect there to be a few more additions to the outfield group before the season starts.

Giants fans are still in the crash that followed the great binge of World Series euphoria. We've crashed and come down hard. Teams rise and teams fall and fans take the ride with them. I've been on the train this long, I'm not going anywhere. The Giants are in a weird place. They have to rebuild but they don't want to admit it! And they have a lot of talented fellows around who could indeed play better and have a competitive team but it is now back-to-back stinkers and the natives are restless.

Exhibition games start on the 23rd of this month and the real thing kicks off on the 28th of March. Much can happen in the next few weeks.



p.s. 25-year RHP Jose Lopez was claimed off waivers. Josh Osich was let go to make a spot.