Monday, June 29, 2020

60 players

I don't understand all the new roster rules, but the teams have to list a bunch of guys to open the season, so here they are:

I know there are only 51 guys but teams were allowed up to 60 players, hence the title of the post.

Note that Heliot Ramos and Marco Luciano don't even have numbers! And Billy Hamilton is number zero, which is cool. He will be perfect for that put-a-guy-on-second to start the 10th inning rule. I believe the guy has to make the last out of the 9th, so I expect to see Hamilton pinch-hit with two outs when the Giants are tied! (That tie-breaker rule is only for 2020, although there is considerable momentum for a big change with extra innings, like calling a draw after 12 or some such.)

I should note that Hunter Bishop (Giants 1st-round pick in 2019) tested positive for the coronavirus. Also, some MLB players are exercising opt-outs for 2020, notably Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross of the Nationals and Mike Leake of the Diamondbacks. I haven't heard anything from the Giants about opt-outs.

Spring Training is supposed to commence on July 1st with the season starting July 23rd and 24th.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

60 games

MLB, as expected, imposed a schedule of 60 games to begin on or around July 24th. If the PA signs off on a couple of points (health and safety protocols for one) then the players will report to their home stadiums on July 1st.

The whole thing could still be scuttled if the COVID-19 infections continue to increase. Brewers pitcher Brett Anderson tweeted "What happens when we all get it?"

This whole thing has been a bad time for baseball. They might have been smarter to simply cancel the season from the get-go and then spend the time carving out a new agreement. Baseball shot itself in the foot and then shot itself in the other foot! I hope the games resume, I think some baseball (at this point) is better than none. But the sport--perhaps I should say the industry--did itself serious harm. All those pointless "negotiations" accomplished nothing. The players are still stuck with their plantation system and the owners get to put their heads back in the sand (or their heaping piles of moo-lah).

Anyway, GO GIANTS!


UPDATE: Here's a FAQ from MLB re the upcoming season.

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Designated Hitter

When there will be Major League Baseball again is anybody's guess. When the games do resume I expect one change to become permanent: the universal designated hitter. I used to be an NL purist. The DH was "an abomination" in my world. That world started in 1973! It was the summer--for me--between elementary school and high school. I'm 60 years old and will be 61 in November. I was 13-going-on-14 in 1973. That's a long time to hold a grudge!

Actually I had become indifferent to the DH issue some time around the new millenium. I'd watched enough post-season baseball in AL parks and seen enough live baseball (amateur and minors) to stop caring. Good baseball is good baseball, whether it is in Korea or Mexico or Cincinnati. The nail in the coffin for me was the 2010 World Series. My beloved San Francisco Giants kicked ass in an AL park in Texas and became champions for the first time. They did it again in 2012 and 2014, winning with aplomb under DH-rules in AL parks. I particularly remember Mike Morse--a perfect DH--making clutch contributions to the Giants remarkable Game 7 win on the road in Kansas City. Those were all great ballgames and were not in any way hurt by the presence of the designated hitter.

Believe me, I know all the arguments. After all, there has been a DH since 1973. Did I mention that? 1973. We've covered that ground, man. You've all seen the graphs:

wRC+ is one of those fancy-pants stats the saber-istas love, and I admit to being seduced by it, but you can just substitute "hitting performance" for the y-axis. It ain't pretty. We've been fortunate to enjoy the PEAK of pitcher hitting these last many years, namely Madison Bumgarner. His .188/.248/.349 over his last 336 PA (2015-2019) is right up there with the always stalwart Zack Greinke's .231/.258/.339 in the same span (334 PA), and super stud Jacob deGrom's .184/.255/.234 (337 PA). The Bumbino has 'em all beat with 13 long balls in the last five seasons (five in 2015!) versus only five and three respectively for the other guys. Fun fact: Bumgarner is 0-for-27 with 14 whiffs in the post-season.

And I will certainly miss Bum. He is fun to watch--all that cowpoke orneriness and snot snortin' is a kick (except when he starts fights with Yasiel Puig), not to mention the awesome performances. It will be a shame to silence his bat. After all, a .200 average may not be much but it is something. It is not .000! Having a one-in-five chance for a hit ain't that bad, really. But that's the BEST a pitcher will hit. Most won't come close to a .200 batting average.

We remember great moments at the plate by pitchers because they are rare. Those great moments hide the fact that pitchers mostly stink at hitting. Of course, that's why we get so excited! I also think the "strategy" argument is a tired one. Most of the time that a manager makes a pitching change there is little or no strategy in the sense that the decisions are obvious. Every once in a while he has to juggle some tough odds, but double-switches and all that don't require a Magnus Carlsen brain. Knowing when to pull your starter and how to get the best bullpen matchups late in the game are much more important than occasional "strategic" moves.

Ultimately the players want the DH and that is the deciding factor. What if the adoption of the universal DH encourages the growth of the two-way player? Is Shohei Otani a trailblazer? We already know that Farhan Zaidi likes positional flexibility and we've seen the Dodgers feature several players who play at different spots. That seems like a genuine trend to me. Versatility used to be the kiss of death for players--if you wanted to establish yourself you had to settle on a position. The Giants are making it clear they want the opposite from their young athletes. The more you can do on a field the better your chances of making the bigs. I guess what I'm saying is fear not the DH. In a few years you'll hardly miss it.

Obviously I'm here at home with no real baseball to write about. I hope you'll forgive my brain dump! Tell me what you think in the comments--please. Life, the universe, baseball, the DH, whatever! Let yourselves go!


Wednesday, June 17, 2020


Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred, Jr. issued the following statement today:
"At my request, Tony Clark and I met for several hours yesterday in Phoenix. We left that meeting with a jointly developed framework that we agreed could form the basis of an agreement and subject to conversations with our respective constituents. I summarized that framework numerous times in the meeting and sent Tony a written summary today. Consistent with our conversations yesterday, I am encouraging the Clubs to move forward and I trust Tony is doing the same.”
Jon Heyman claims the two sides are near an agreement for ~60 games (Buster Olney says 65) and an expanded post-season with full pro-rated salaries. The PA would have to waive its right to file a grievance. I think Manfred knows that the players have a good case against the owners and that was a road no one wanted to go down. Weird shit can happen in front of an arbitration panel.

Let's hope Heyman and Olney are right.


Sunday, June 14, 2020

The Un-drafted

Jack McGeary is an analyst with the Giants. He has a message for hopeful ballplayers. But first:
Context: The MLB Draft just took place, and instead of the usual 40 rounds, this year’s draft had only 5 rounds. In addition, there’s a $20,000 signing bonus cap for all undrafted players who sign with a team after the draft. To put that in context, 6th round picks from 2019 received bonuses anywhere from $237,000 – $301,000. As you might imagine, there will be fierce competition among teams to sign great undrafted players at a rate far below historical levels.
The above is from "On Joining the Giants." Here's more:
This post is primarily for undrafted free agents of the 2020 MLB draft who are weighing their options about which team they want to sign with. This is not objective–I’ll make my case for why I think the San Francisco Giants present an opportunity that no other club does–but I also want it to be a resource for any player thinking through this decision.
It is well worth your time to read. You'll get a sense of what a modern baseball organization is like and a little insight into the (we hope) new and improved Giants.

Now if the owners will pull their heads out of their asses and get something done with the MLBPA then we can have a baseball season. No matter what happens the PA will have to review its negotiating strategies. The owners are better at that stuff. The players have shown their solidarity but their leadership and their consultants/experts have most likely let them down.


Friday, June 12, 2020


In 2007 the Giants took Madison Bumgarner with the 10th overall pick in the June draft. Ben Kaspick posted on his twitter feed some screenshots of reactions (from the McCovey Chronicles blog) by Giants fans at that time:

You gotta love it. Here's more:

The moral of the story is that fans don't know jack! Perhaps it is better to say that I don't know jack and even "experts" are just guessing. The draft is a crap shoot and all you can hope for is that the guys doing the picking have worked hard and done their best. In a few years we'll know the results. Until then I'm happy to have new blood in the system.

Notables from the 2007 draft include #1 David Price, #2 Mike Moustakas, #5 Matt Wieters, #14 Jason Heyward, #27 Rick Porcello, #34 Todd Frazier, and #48 Josh Donaldson. There were 64 picks total if you include the supplemental round, and the Giants had FIVE more after the tenth (Bumgarner) pick. They were Tim Alderson (#22), Wendell Fairley (#29), Nick Noonan (#32), Jackson Williams (#43), and Charlie Culberson (#51). Those look like whiffs until you consider that Alderson was traded for Freddy Sanchez and Culberson was traded for Marco Scutaro.

MLB owners are assholes. Just in case you weren't sure which side of the labor divide I'm on!


Thursday, June 11, 2020


The Giants had seven picks overall, six on the second day of the draft:

#49 Casey Schmitt, RH 3B from San Diego State,
#67 Nick Swiney, LHP from North Carolina State (a teammate of Patrick Bailey),
#68 Jimmy Glowenke, RH SS from Dallas Baptist (a Div II school with Div I baseball)
#85 Kyle Harrison, LHP from De La Salle High School in Concord,
#114 R.J. Dabovich, RHP from Arizona State,
#144 Ryan Murphy, RHP from LeMoyne College (a Div II Jesuit school in NY).

Those are the FNGs along with yesterday's 13th pick, switch-hitting catcher Patrick Bailey from NC State. I suppose we'll get lots of post-draft analysis by all the experts and we'll get to find out whether they did a good job or not! Or we can just wait a few years and see who makes the bigs!!

Welcome aboard, newbies. GO GIANTS!


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Patrick Bailey

The Giants select NC State catcher Patrick Bailey with the 13th pick. If you wonder why the Giants would draft a catcher two years out of three you should take a look at the career arc of catchers! If I were running a ball club I would platoon at catcher. Never let a guy catch more than 100 games in a season, even better max him out at 81. Catching is too important and you can't expect guys to take that much physical abuse. MLB streamed the draft live for free, and the goddamn thing is a hideous spectacle, but I had to tune in--briefly--just to see what the Giants did.

Welcome aboard, Patrick!


Friday, June 5, 2020

No. 13

The Giants have the 13th pick in the draft. According to ESPN:
Day 1 of the draft will be June 10 at 7 p.m. ET and include the first round (37 picks). Rounds 2-5 (123 picks) will begin a 5 p.m. the following day.
There are lots of places to get information about draft prospects and whatnot. I'm not really interested in players until they become Giants, mostly because I have no scouting skills. One guy is as good as the next, until they aren't! I'll let the experts do the picking. I've learned over the years that I'm bad at prognostication.

I also dislike the draft, as you probably know, and think it should be eliminated. There is a good, short piece over at Beyond the Boxscore that sums up my feelings nicely. It is short. Go read it and then argue with me. (hat tip Baseball Musings).

At the same time I hope the Giants can sign some quality players! I hate having to root for a positive outcome for a system that stinks. But as a fan, of course, I hope number thirteen is lucky for the Giants.

I'm still optimistic that the increasingly acrimonious conversation between MLB and MLBPA is just hard bargaining. Both sides are digging in their heels, but I want to believe that is mostly posturing before they agree to compromise. I may be naive, or a bit too hopeful. If both sides want baseball to resume, they have to break the deadlock and find a middle ground. I assume both sides want baseball to resume and that both sides know the game might not recover if they don't settle. I have no idea what they really think, of course. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed!