Sunday, October 4, 2015

Game 162 Commeth

And now... the end is near...

Giants are wrapping up today, another odd year let down after the complete running of the table in the even.

Since 2009, when the dark days losing (4 years - spoiled!) stopped and the G's started competing its been a winning record every year except 2013.  The Giants finished 3rd that year, and they've had two division titles. And they've finished 2nd 3 times now.  Dodgers take it down, that's never a easy pill to swallow, even with 3 beautiful babies on the mantle.

Each year is different, and waiting for next year is always a mixed bag of excitement, regret and finally... acceptance.

Here are some things that stood out for me:

Yogi Berra passing.  Every time you say the name "Yogi" it just puts a smile on your face.  A true legend, an amazing ballplayer, a big time champion and the most quotable baseball player ever.

Matt Duffy winning the Willie Mac award.  Taking over 3B like a villain, hitting the hell out of the ball and becoming the third best iron man in B-ball already.  He's the first rookie to ever win, and that shows just how much his teammates think of him.  The Willie Mac is one of the things the Giants do that sets them apart.  I love it.  The fact Duffy won it... Is just so damn sweet.  To all the farm system raters, a total afterthought as they put the G's somewhere in deep double digits, he's only the 1st-2nd or 3rd best ROY candidate.

Tim Hudson and Jeremy Affeldt retiring.  Tim Hudson has had an amazing career, I am so happy he got to win a ring with the G's, just like he wrote it up.  Good Giant.  Jeremy Affeldt... I would go as far as to put him in Great Giant category.  I don't think they win a single ring without him, he has been one of the big links in the chain.  Just think, Johnny Sanchez is inciting  a brawl with Utley... the pens have to empty.  Gardner says "Not you!".  And then Affeldt came in and delivered the goods.  Affeldt is a huge personality, he'll be sorely missed in the clubhouse.

The future of Tim Lincecum.  Its been a rough ride the past couple of years.  But any Giant fan worth their salt has to wonder... what if this hip surgery was successful and he gets his velocity back...  Its a multi million dollar question.  And the most loyal front office in ball just might be the guys to go pay and find out.  That'll be a interesting to watch.

Hey, lets just check out Josh Donaldson right quick: 41 HR, 298/373/571 and a 8.8 WAR score.  Billie Beane traded away an MVP.  He paved the way for the Jays (to an extent, they have to figure out their pitching on their own) to move on up.  Lawrie being an equivealent hasn't held up, so now its onto hoping for Franklin Barreto to pan out.  The A's will pick 4th-6th next year.  The Beane brigade will have to twist up the story a little as the wins to budget charts will have to get readjusted, but he does avoid a 100 loss season by a couple games.

The Dodgers.  Still.  Don't.  Have.  Most of their fans watching.   Hilarious.  They have spent a fortune, they have their 3rd straight NL West title.  Will they fold again?  Will Greinke opt out?  Will Mattingly stick around?  There was a sweet rumor about Dusty taking over the other week... That would be incredible.  Anyways.... LETS GO METS!

Panik and Pence get healthy.  Please.  The Giants have a pretty fearsome offense, they need more shutdown pitching.  Brandon Belt quietly put up 280/356/478 for an OPS+ score of 129, more importantly playing in 137 games.

Games played is led by Posey and Duffy at 149 and 148.  Craw got in 142.  Belt is 4th on the squad.  All homegrown, all very good.  All under team control.  The "window" is the next 4 years.  Posey and Craw are now 28.  Belt 27 and Duffy 24.  Yes, Matt Duffy is part of the Giants core group.  Yes, he's one of the best 3B in baseball.  Yes, nobody would have guessed that at the beginning of the year.

The OF is still an issue.  Pence getting healthy should help, Nori Aoki should be back, hopefully concussion free.  Gregor Blanco continues his work as one of the most underrated OFs in baseball, playing amazing defense (with the occasional baserunning lapse) and a 291/368/413 slash.  And then there's Angel Pagan.  Who has been much better once healthy.  But he is now entering his final year of the contract.  He's played 71, 96 and 132 games so far.  He will be 34 next year.  That's a big question mark, as the defense (sometimes overly criticized) has perhaps lost a step.

Mac Williamson and Kelby Tomlinson to the rescue!  Tomlinson draws Duffy references all over the place (and by the way Duffy hasn't been caught stealing yet - I'm most likely jinxing him for game 162 but he's sneakily the best baserunner on the team and there's nobody I'd rather have on 2nd down a run in the ninth), and he could fit in as a super utility guy if he can hack CF because he might be even faster than Blanco.  But the big hopes are with Mac.  The Giants need a big bat.  Can they fill it internally?  That's one of the big questions.  Because I think the FA $ needs to go to a pitcher.

Hey, those who wanted Max Scherzer signed for big $ can come down and collect their Wookie Bobblehead.  Dude has been nails, 2nd no hitter of the year!  There's always a winner and a flopper.  Speaking of that, Jake Peavy has pitched quite well, I wasn't a fan of that signing, but it is only one more year, and he put up a 3.32 K/BB ratio (only G pitcher over 2 besides Bum), a 3.58 ERA (which converted to a ERA+ of 106).  Pretty good 5th starter. 

Giants need more than a 5th starter.  They need to give Bumgarner a Ace running mate.  That's the bottom line, or its yet another 2nd place finish and being classy putting up congrats to the frickin' Bums on the big screen.  And come on.... lets face it.... that's weak sauce.  We want to win.  Every year.

Pen looks like there are some great additions.  Hunter Strickland is learning on the job, Josh Osich looks legit, the farm will churn some more, and one of the best things the G's do is reclamation.  I'm happy for Casilla to get that option vested.  He is best used as a part of a Hydra, not being the man.  He says so himself.  Building a good set of arms that can complement each other is important, and the G's are the best in the business at doing it.

Can't end without saying... This is Posey's and Bumgarner's team.  They set the pace.  They are the core.  The window is wide open as long as they're at the top of their game.  Which they are.  This is where I get optimistic.  It's been a great 7 years as those two got little cups of coffee in 2009.  I'd say they have another 5 years to go make this joint title town again.  The farm will provide a lot of the support.  Its Bobby Evans and Co's job to go get a little more foundation, the bones need more support.  Get er done Sabes!

Thanks a lot for the comments and well wishes.  Its been a busy era for Chez Shankbone, just haven't had time to hang on the interwebz.  But we're still rooting for the Orange and Black.  Viva Los Gigantes!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Playing Out The String

Odd Year BS?

The Giants have a lot to be proud about this year.  A homegrown infield that is the envy of MLB.  The emergence of Joe Panik as a top ten 2B.  The emergence of Matt Duffy as a top ten 3B.  The emergence of Brandon Crawford as a top 5 SS. 

Injuries have been one of the big stories.

Another has been the aging rotation.  I call it Red Ass Grit and Duct Tape, and it just didn't work.  The Giants have turned from being a pitching centric program (with the rep in their draft and development to boot...) to being a hitting centric program.  In a pitchers park.

Hunter Pence and Joe Panik don't have the injuries, maybe the Gints muscle up and are still in contention.  But you look at the B-Ref page and the starting pitching tells a story.  High FIP scores (excluding Bumgarner), low ERA+ scores (excluding Bumgarner), and miserable Quality Start percentages.  Hard to get to that stat when you simply are not going six innings.  (Newcomer Mike Leake has gone 3 of 5 with QS's, and yes, his injury was ill-timed as well, coming on the heels of the trade). 

Rookie Chris Heston has pitched quite well, his overall QS percentage of 54% is actually above league average.  That's great for a 5th starter.  The problem lies in the fact that the Giants collected 5th starter types all over the place.  That is what Tim Hudson (A good Giant and a great career - oldest HR by a Gint pitcher since Steve Carlton and yes I barely remember that one as a yoot glued to the radio) has become.  Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are shadows of their former dominant selves, putting up miserable QS percentages in the 30s, devastated by injuries. 

Peavy and Vogelsong are more Red Ass and Duct Tape.  They are also both ideal 5th starters, gamers who can give you hidden gems, but also just seem too damn hittable through the lineup, especially the 3rd time, or that dreaded 6th inning. 

The pen is in flux, with Hunter Strickland looking very solid this year, and the wiley "core 4" showing a bit of Grey.  The Giants need some new arms, pure and simple.  They most likely have a bunch in their farm system.  But a reclamation project or a Jeremy Affeldt type signing would do wonders as well.  (I'm talking about the 2009 version, a "do it all" type of reliever). 

When the entire collection of 5th starter types in the rotation have given you 35 Quality Starts in the season (to date) versus Bumgarner's 19 and Heston's 14, you know that the pitching staff has become too damn old. 
Name/Age/Innings Pitched

The number one priority is to re-sign Mike Leake, to give you a solid #3, at that tier of talent that doesn't cost Ace moneys.  The Giants have liked Leake for a long time, there has been mutual chit-chat, I expect it to happen quickly.  The Giants don't give up a arm of the caliber of Mella for a rental.  (I loved that trade by the way - Mella looks like a 8th/9th inning type to me with injury problems affecting his consistency - great arm though). 

The number one priority Plan B but really Plan A1 is to go get an Ace on the market.  Hello Jordan Zimmermann?  He's 29 years young.  4 straight years of big innings, great stats, old school cool.  He reminds of... Matt Cain.  Be careful?  Johnny Cueto is the same age by the way.  He has put up big innings in 3 of 4. 

The Giants need to get out of the age 35-40 range and get back into the 25-30 range.  Now there are some guys on the farm that could help out.  Clayton Blackburn quietly had a great year, winning the PCL ERA title, which is a big accomplishment.  Tyler Beede is churning along, and recent draftee Phil Bickford had a great debut as well.  Could the Giants have another Heston up their sleeve? 

What is the fate of Cain and Lincecum?  They are huge parts of the franchise, and I wouldn't bet against Cain going to the pen and Lincecum getting a 2nd chance after surgery from the Orange and Black.  And Vogelsong refuses to go lightly into that good night.... or was it quietly?  Peavy will be given every opportunity by Bochy.  So there is only really room for Leake and one more... 

I hope its an Ace.  The Giants desperately need a 2nd arm to slot with Bum.  It is the single biggest move they can make.  Luckily for them, there is a lot on the market. 

And I do think the difference between the moneys between an Ace and Mike Leake versus the reward (as well as the risk) is such that you should make Leake the number one snap it up priority.  Leake can put up some serious numbers, and really help solidify the rotation.  But after that, the Giants need to be looking up, towards the top, not looking for more 5th starter rotation depth.  Between what they have on the payroll and the minor leagues, they have quite enough 5th starters.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

49 Miles to Go, Gotta full tank of gas, a half pack of outfielders, its dark...

And we're wearing sunglasses...

So Hit It.

Saw the Nats get eaten up by Kershaw last night live.  He was good.  I think the Gigantes might want to look at the guy who took the bump against him this offseason though, that could tie the room together pretty good.

I've been busy, got a new house, a honey do list, all kinds of silliness to deal with, and to cap it off i broke my laptop.  Now I have other computers, but the one I like to blog with, that has all my stuff, so to speak...

No excuse not for blogging though!  Thanks for the comments and best wishes, I'll start cranking things out again soon.

Go Giants!  Streakiest team in memory needs to get a couple breaks, get a couple guys healthy, get some starting pitching, get some bullpen pitching and point that fearsome offense where it needs to go. 

I like our chances, this is a great position to be in right now.  If the OF can hold together.  And Joe Panik gets back.  No likey the Utley rumors, but Panik's possible return might keep him away, as he wants guaranteed starting time.  Might have to fire up some of the 2010 NLCS for the hell of it before tonights game.

Go get em Vogey!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Top 20 Bonuses Paid to Current Prospects in the SF Gigante System

With the Giants spending big on the IFA front, I thought it'd be interesting to see a quick look at the big spending, the performance of the bonus babies (I generally consider $1MM as a bonus baby threshold, but high six figures gets pretty close).

Of note: the Giants current infield has the largest bonus in club history in Buster Posey (with the penalty MLB will exact for signing Fox over slot pool amounts the Fox deal will be the most spent in club history).  They also have a couple of 2011 Million Dollar signees on their roster in Panik and Susac.  They also have a couple of more unheralded types, Belt and Duffy signing for low six figures as well as Brandon Crawford at 375K back in the Posey draft of 2008.

They have also traded off bonus babies, or had them claimed.  Zack Wheeler, Tommy Joseph, Gary Brown, Conor Gillaspie, Tim Alderson.

Of note: the Giants didn't really start spending on development until the 2006 draft with Tim Lincecum, famously dumping picks in 2003-05 as well as not paying big bonuses while competing with Barry Bonds.  While all of these are post-2006 because its a current roster, they are also among the highest bonuses ever paid, as revenues have gone up, so have signing bonuses.

1.  Lucius Fox 2015 IFA $6,000,000
Going to suit up soon
2.  Tyler Beede 2014 14th overall $2,613,200
Highest level: AA Richmond, 104 IP, 2.92 ERA, 2.52 K/BB
3.  Rafael Rodriguez 2008 IFA $2,550,000
Highest level: High-A SJ, 250/301/333 career milb slash in 1559 PAs
4.  Phil Bickford 2015 18th overall $2,333,800
Going to suit up soon
5.  Angel Villalona 2006 IFA $2,100,000
Highest level: AA Richmond, 252/309/418 career milb slash in 2297 PAs
6.  Christian Arroyo 2013 25th overall $1,866,500
Highest level: High-A SJ, 309/357/454 career milb slash in 791 PAs
7.  Chris Stratton 2012 20th overall $1,850.000
Highest level: AAA Sacto,  361IP, 3.77 ERA, 2.28 K/BB
8.  Chris Shaw 2015 31st overall $1,400,000
Highest level: S/S S/K, 270/372/432 career milb slash in 43 PAs
9.  Gustavo Cabrera 2012 IFA $1,300,000
Highest level: Rookie, 249/379/368 in 237 PAs
10.  Aramis Garcia 2014 52nd overall 1,100,000
Highest level: Low-A Augusta, 238/335/423 career milb slash in 383 PAs
11.  Jalen Miller 2015 95th overall $1,100,000
 Highest level: Rookie, 378/452/405 in 43 PAs
12.  Andrew Suarez  2015 61st overall $1,010,100
Highest level: Rookie, 3IP, 0.00ERA, 3.00 K/Bb
13.  Kyle Crick 2011 49th overall $900,000
Highest level: AA Richmond, 322IP, 2.82 ERA, 1.74 K/BB
14.  Ryder Jones 2013 64th overall $880,000
Highest level: High-A SJ, 260/310/383 career milb slash in 1009 PAs
15.  Mac Marshall 2015 126th overall $750,000
Highest level: S/S S/K, 6IP, 4.50 ERA, 8.00 K/BB
16.  Jarrett Parker 2010 74th overall $700,000
Highest level: the Show!, 257/365/438 career slash in 2385 PAs
17.  Dylan Davis 2014 87th overall $650,000
Highest level: High-A SJ, 217/295/318 career slash in 347 PAs
18. Kelvin Beltre 2013 IFA $650,000
Highest level: Rookie, 240/426/427 career slash in 101 PAs
19.  Martin Agosta 2012 84th overall $612,500
Highest level: High-A SJ, 225IP, 4.44 ERA, 2.43 K/BB
20.  Logan Webb 2014 118th overall $600,000 
Highest level: S/S S/K, 29IP, 3.72ERA, 1.80 K/BB

Couple of things - I'm not worrying about inflation, that could tweak a couple of things obviously.  Second, the Giants have a dozen guys over a million bucks in the system currently, and some others who aren't on the list around half a million clams.

So how successful has this been?  Well, Lincecum, Bumgarner and Posey is a great foundation.  The plan is to supplement around the franchise players.  So the emphasis has been primarily college guys, which at the position in the draft the Giants have been picking might not be a bad bet.

Of these players in this top 20 though - 12 of them are being/were being picked as shiny yoots (counting the JC guys Bickford and Marshall as yoots).  Having the college successes of Panik/Susac graduate does change the list slightly.  Obviously the chances of success with Rodriguez and Villalona at this point are looking slim.  The big move to secure Fox is a new look, and its quite possible there is a Cuban or two in play right now that would change this list again.

Of note: BA released their top 10 midseason Gigantes.  the Link (pay and written by Baggs) is here.  The intersections of that list and this list: Beede, Arroyo, Garcia, Crick and Ryder Jones.  There are 5 guys with more pedestrian bonus slots that are highly thought of.  Of course 6 guys on this list are newly minted, the spending keeps going up and up.   We'll see what's what with them soon. 

And that's the rub.   Once you're in the system, no matter the bonus, you have to grind like everybody else.

NOTE: I maybe missing an IFA bonus or two.  But I checked my lists before I published.  The big missing component in development has been IFA, not only in the bonus lists but also the prospect top 20s.  Maybe Sabean and CO paying more attention will balance this out over time.  Lucius Fox is definitely a bold big move in that direction.

Update: I put in some stats for these players.

Giants drop 2 of 3 at home to the Mets - July Looking Disaster-ish - Series Rundown #28

Giants fall to 5.5 back on the Dodgers, the D-backs of all teams have caught up with them in the NL West, and July is suddenly a complete disaster with hurt outfielders, a very shaky bullpen and a team that is really, really scuffling.

Mets 3, Gints 0
Gints 3, Mets 0
Mets 4, Gints 1

Not enough offense.  Bullpen not shutting down things.  Just a big ol mess.  Giants continue to struggle at home, which shouldn't happen.  18 runs scored in July.  The Giants all-star duo of Crawford and Panik are struggling right now.  Angel Pagan continues to dip his AVG and OBP to poor levels.  Matt Duffy is scuffling as well.  Justin Maxwell is at the Mendoza line. 

Hunter Pence's return should help some.  The timetable on Aoki's return is unclear.  Blanco has been given 200 PAs and responded like a champ: 309/375/433. 

Jean Machi should not be on the 25 man roster.  George Kontos and Hunter Strickland have really stepped up, but the "Core 4" of Lopez, Affeldt, Romo and Casilla look long in the tooth and tired.  And injured.  Sabean needs to go work his mojo magic and get some new arms for the pen. 

As much as it'd be fun to dream on Johnny Cueto, the reality is the Giants have a logjam of veteran grit at the starting pitching position.  They will most likely hang with them and live and die with them.  Right now, they're a .500 team, and I do think looking at the overall stat lines of those pitchers tells the story.  Chris Heston has been completely league average, Bumgarner has been good but not great, and the Tims and Vogelstrong have been pretty shaky.  Peavy and Cain may breath new life into the staff, but it could be more of the same.

This current team is very streaky, and has had 3 different big losing streaks already.  Its still early enough to turn it around, but this losing streak in July has been fall on face worthy.  then again, some of these losses have been extremely and frustratingly close. 

Series Rundown Recap: 12 series wins (4 sweeps), 9 series losses (5 sweeps), 7 Splits

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Comings and Goings

The Giants made huge news taking down Lucius Fox, the switch hitting Bahamian dream-boat of a short stop for huge moneys (6MM for Fox, another 4MM in penalty box chump change to MLB).  The Dodgers were the rumored destination, so this is a pretty big coup for the Greybeards.

This makes some sense - the Giants have to pick their timing, but they have the financial muscle to go toe to toe with the Bums.  Whether they should in most cases?  That's another story.  Fox is definitely a big big name in the July 2nd sweepstakes, he's generally listed as the 3rd-5th best prospect in the class.   So its a big time get.

Goings: the Giants have released the following players in the past 4 weeks: Juan Gutierrez, John Bowker, Casey McGehee, Javier Herrera, Travis Ishikawa, RHP Kirk Singer, 1B Nick Jones, OF Carlos Cartagena, OF Nicoll Parra, OF Steven Neff.

Comings: the Giants have signed the following: RHP Ryan Koziol (NDFA—Illinois State), their draft picks 1-11th round (omission: Hector Santiago, 12th rounder is going to college).

Big names and big money have a slightly better chance of success.  I'm going to compile a list of prospects by moneys spent for the hell of it.  Fox is the 2nd most moneys spent in Gints history, after Posey.  With the arcane rules of MLB, he is actually the 1st overall.  Big expectations coming.  Exciting news though.  

Series Rundown Makeup - The July Skid Edition (#s 26 & 27)

Giants have had a combination of tepid play, bad breaks, bad bullpen and a whole lot of frustration that has really put the skids on the race for the NL West. 

The Dreaded Marlins almost injured Posey (innocent on this one, but its the frickin' Marlins) and killed the Giants softly:
Marlins 5, Giants 3
Marlins 6, Giants 5
Marlins 5, Giants 4

If Casilla doesn't have it, what is Bochy doing?  That walkoff was a crusher.

Then the Nats and Bryce Harper did their thing:
Nats 2, Gints 1
Nats 9, Gints 3
Nats 3, Gints 1

Jake Peavy pitched a whole lot better than every Gigante fan expected, that's for sure.  A rare Bumgarner stinker when you really need him to be the stopper. 

Giants are in danger of a huge tail spin.  They have to get their OF healthy and their pen healthy.  Trades might be on the horizon.  Missing Pence really changes the dynamic, and Aoki has been a very pleasant surprise, it was a big blow to lose him.

Maxwell hasn't been getting it done, and its time to face the fact that Angel Pagan hasn't really recovered from this back thing, he is operating at 60%.  It takes away all his threat of power, and pitchers have jumped on that.  So the OF is really missing some oomph.  Brandon Belt is doing the best he can out in LF, but he really shouldn't be out there. 

Giants also need to rest Crawford, Panik and Duffy so they are fresh.  So they need some support.  But without a good pen this is all kind of a fool's errand.  On the plus side, it looks like Osich might be the real deal, Strickland has been very good, and George Kontos has been a rock.  I don't know why Machi keeps getting run out there...

A tough luck loss to the Mets, the Gints are 5 games down, the coldest team in baseball with a 7 game losing streak.  They have to stop the bleeding, then get a win against the Phils, end the first half on a good note.  Bochy needs to manage with some urgency here.  And that starts with pulling his starters before they cough up the game.  But then again, he doesn't have enough of a pen right now, he's trying to squeeze from both ends.  Tough business.  (Bochy was listed by people in the game as the best manager in the game - Joe Maddon won the "want to play for" division, but Bochy got the big prize.)  He's not perfect, he's just very, very good.  He's better when he gets to the short game and starts yanking fools when they aren't performing. 

End the Skid! 

Series Rundown Recap: 12 series wins (4 sweeps), 8 series losses (5 sweeps), 7 Splits