Sunday, July 27, 2014

MLB Updates the Giants top 20

With the popularity of top prospect lists shining through, MLB has hired Jim Callis away from BA, combined with John Mayo (who is underrated IMO) and they're going to work, updating pretty quick.

So with Escobar and Hembree traded off, they put in Steven Okert and Luis Ysla.  I approve of that.

That lasted less than 48 hours though, now they have a new one.

It most likely won't last more than 72-96!

1-5: Crick, Beede, Susac, Mejia, Mella
not much argument from me!
6-10: Blach, Blackburn, Panik, Stratton, Garcia
Look at Joe Panik gettin' love.  Good for the boy from Yonkers.  I disagree strongly on Stratton. 
11-15: Okert, Ysla, Arroyo, Jones, Williamson
Hmmm... I like Ysla enough to push up.  Okert is looking good but he's a reliever.  Mac gets dinged for TJ.  It happens.
16-20: Law, Flores, Duffy, Gregorio, Kickham
Hmmm... Confession time: Law, and Flores, and Duffy are in my personal top 10 favorite prospects, and have been for 2 plus years.  I think they're all about 10 spots too late.

My list on it hurts too much to trade (and ignoring the fact you can't trade 2014 picks for a year)
Susac, Beede, Crick, Duffy, Ysla, Mella, Panik, Law, Williamson, Blackburn
Yes, I feel that strongly about Duffy.  You like that cat Ben Zobrist?  Yep, I just dropped that comp.

Next ten: Blach (underrated as usual), Flores, Mejia, Garcia, Okert, Gregorio (risky), Arroyo, Jones (Christian), Jones (Ryder), Mason McVay

These lists are always some sort of combination of results and upside.  For me, I think that top ten is the current best chance to make hay, and the next ten is the 2nd line.  Most prospects flame out in a noble charge at a childhood dream.  Its hard as hell to make the show.  And to stick.  Most prospects at this stage of the game (the Gigantes contending) will get sold off.  I wish them all luck when that happens.  I think the Giants hold onto a few though.  That's my guess at the hardest to let go, or the "no trade".  And yes, I think at this point in time, I'd rather have Robert Kaminsky in the system than Christian Arroyo.  But there's lots of time to iron that one out.

Giants Swept, At Home, Again, By Their Arch Rivals - Series Rundown #33

Speaking of guys who wore the jersey... and sucked... Photo: sons of johnie lemaster

Can't sugar coat this one.  The Giants just got whooped on.  Swept.  At home.  Again.  By the Dodgers.  It wasn't close.  Yes, two of the best hitters on the club are recovering, hopefully Brandon Belt and Angel Pagan are back soon.  Its still no excuse.

Greybeards: Hear me out: Do not make the mistake of 2011.  Dan Uggla is not the answer to any question you want answered.  This is Orlando Cabrera territory, and it needs to be cut out NOW, not later, before the season goes to pot.  The Giants didn't have much of a chance against great Doyer pitching, but they were in it until Sweet Biceps started batting the ball around.  You cannot afford a bad middle infielder.  Cut Bait.  NOW.  NOW.   Oh, and he struck out 5 times.  Because he's done.

Shank's Keys to the series: Donnie Baseball, a tier 2 manager at best, re-orged his rotation as he always does so the Gints get Kershaw.  We'll see how that goes.  The Dodgers are souring on their investment of Dan Haren, so they'll start thinking about David Price again.  The cost to the Giants for David Price or Ben Zobrist?  Crick, Susac, and 2 others.  Hmm...  I'm not feeling that actually, maybe that's being guilty of overvaluing what you've got, but Price is going to be obscenely expensive in salary as well.  This series will determine what both teams do at the deadline.  I don't see the Dodgers punting a season, I see them overreacting no matter what.  Will the Giants make some incremental moves?  Big moves?  It appears Scutaro will not be able to contribute even 2-3 times a week at this point.  The Giants need some vets who can give quality pinch hits at key moments during the stretch though, this Joaquin Arias stuff (yet another ground out with the bases juiced today) just isn't cutting it.  Moves need to be made.  When it gets to crunch time, the Dodgers most dangerous hitter is none other than Juan Uribe.  Treat him accordingly.  And try to get to Ryu when you have the opportunities.

That's a big old bunch of nonsense.  Hey, Donnie Two Times got his nickname before he was the regular manager.  Remember, Joe Torre got tossed, and Bochy came trotting out to take advantage.  The Dodgers suck.  They throw crazy money at all problems, and they still suck.  They have good pitching now though, because Stan Kasten insisted on it, and they are formidable.  We can still beat them.  As long as there are some competent fielders, somebody steps up to hit, and what not. 

The Giants should have taken the final game, and I want to see immediate changes because of it.  Wins are becoming precious, and you cannot lose games like this.  Joe Panik can strike out with the best of them, and he will not blow routine plays. Pat Burrell was a great story back in 2010.  Its time to quit with the lightning in a bottle stuff.  Also: for the record, I said the Giants biggest offseason priority was to get a guy who could play 2B/3B to sub in for injury Marco and flaky Panda.  That did not get addressed.  And the Giants are paying for it huge right now.

June 25 Dodgers 8, Giants 1
June 26 Dodgers 5, Giants 0
June 27 Dodgers 4, Giants 3

Good hitting: nobody.  Absolute chumps.  Give Michael Morse a couple days off Bochy, he's dead out there.

Bad hitting: everybody.  Maybe not Posey.  Sure, Kershaw is amazing.  However... the Giants had their chances, and they blew it up big time.  They're apparently ready to go bidding deep on Panda.  Well... How many extra base hits does the lad have this year?  I'll wait for the answer...

Good pitching: welcome Jake Peavy, you'll learn the drill. 

Bad pitching: We needed Big Time Timmy Jim, who's been on a roll, and we got the other one.  Vogelsong battled, but it didn't work out.  The pen?  Not terrible I guess.

Next series: The Pirates: Giants don't match up well against them, even though their starting staff is a bunch of popguns ready to get shelled.  Giants need to wake up in a huge way here.

Bumgarner/Worley - yeah, that Worley, the guy with the glasses with the Phils who dominated Los Gigantes
Hudson/Liriano - yeah, the million dollar baby from back when.  He's... healthy?
Lincecum/Morton - nobody, and I mean nobody, dominates Los Gigantes like bunk ass Charlie Morton... You can book that one as a loss.

Keys to the series: in order to win a series, you should try for an opening win.  With your best pitcher.  Who hasn't pitched well at home.  Hudson has been better of late, but ran into hard luck.  Go look up Charlie Morton's numbers if you don't believe me, I bet they shell a timid Timmy and the Pirates get out of here clean.  Its very frustrating to see a good team just turn off.  And its very frustrating to see a team that has extreme access to advanced statistical analysis on the defensive side abandon ship in pursuit of home runs that aren't coming.  Brandon Hicks can strike out with the best of them while making nice plays at the Keystone.  I wish Andrew McCutchen didn't lock up with the Bucs, he would be the prettiest guy in the league in French Vanilla, with apologies to Buster Posey.

Series Rundown Recap:
Giants have 19 series wins on the year, 12 losses, 2 splits.  4 series wins have been sweeps, 4 series losses have been sweeps

And to end: this sucked, and it sucked bad, but the season is just getting going.  You tell me we're 1 1/2 games out in late late July, I'm OK with that.  But the Giants need to make some more moves.  Beginning with an immediate termination of Dan Uggla's employment.  With prejudice.  

Baseball fans are obsessed with numbers - my series rundown #33 just screams out that Dan Ugglas is like Aaron Rowand - a guy who is done, needs to be gone, immediately.  Also of note: AJ Doubleplay was FISHING with Rowand when he got the call that the Cards wanted him.  Talk about a Dunce Brigade...  

Giving Up Too Early

With the Giants hurting pretty good, the bats getting cold again and the search on for some more position players...

Would a guy hitting 325/377/469 be something you'd be interested in?  OPS+ of 135, over 300 PAs on the year?

This guy.  The Giants traded him off for a pen arm, Jeff Soptic.  There were three main factors: first, the Giants have Pablo Sandoval firmly entrenched at 3B.  Second, Gillaspie signed a major league deal which stipulated he get called up to the show in his first year, which started his option clock for the 25 man artificially fast.  And third, he didn't show signs of being a 300 hitter in the show.  To be fair, it might be a fluke year, his babip is high at 368.  But he is doing great, which is nice to see for a former Gint's farmhand.

Gillaspie has a tweener label, not quite enough bat or glove for 3B as a regular.  But he also has a bit of a Billy Mueller vibe, just enough BA/OBP with some pop, hangs in and is a solid complimentary piece. 

The other loss over there in the White Sox land is Jose Abreu.  I know you'd be interested in 30 HRs with a 291/339/616 slash.  The Giants came up short by a year on the contract.  It was far from inevitable that he'd hit, there was some doubt.  He has been fantastic this year.

As the Giants focus on filling their pitching and throwing up the reclamation/patch work job on their holes, I keep looking at Chicago as a possible trade partner.  Adam Eaton is one of the few CFs who might be available and the Sox could use more pitching in their system.  The success of Gillaspie might make them more willing to trade with the Giants again. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Giants Trade For Jake Peavy - Give Up Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree

Pav's blog story link and Bagg's blog story link  and Shea's blog story link.

Thoughts: Giants went to the soft underbelly instead of going big dog hunting.  They may not have the steaks in the freezer for big dog hunting, and from what they are saying they don't want to mess with their base commitments next year (125MM and a Panda on the loose).  Just remember, the big dog owner in the partnership is the richest owner in MLB baseball.  If he wants to press a button, he can do it at any time.

Peavy: not the pitcher he was 4 years ago.  I thought he was a nice trade target a couple years ago, and he pitched quite well for the Red Sox during their championship season.  This year has been a bit more rough.  He has been able to eat innings though, and that's one aspect of what the Giants are looking for.  His H/9 and HRs are up a bunch.  Lefties have been swatting him, and he's given up 14 of his 20 HRs at Fenway, Camden and the Rogers center.  So the hope like hell is to get him back in the spacious ballparks of the NL West and see what's what.

Hembree: not the prospect he was hyped to be 3 years ago.  He has consistently not excelled at AAA.  The Giants are a prove out organization.  They need to see results.  Being the future closer brought some hype, but he really hasn't lived up to it - gives up too many hits.  The fastball is a big pitch, but it isn't supported by anything, the secondary pitches have failed to materialize.  Hembree has a bunch of other pen arms hot on his trail.  I figured he'd be traded this year as a throw-in.

Escobar: a big give up, he had big expectations this year and he has not answered the bell.  The Giants wanted him to threaten for the rotation, and he definitely has not done that.  But he is still very young, throws good enough heat from the left side.  Maybe his slider is too slurvy still, that was a big criticism.  He might be more of a De Paula type.  But he is very young, he has great control for a lefty, and he has a good pitching frame.  I'm sad to see him go, but I understand this part of the prospecting process: the farm has to be used to supplement the big club when you're contending.

Escobar was the #2 prospect pre-season on MLB/Mayo/Callis' list, and Hembree was #11.  Hembree had been ranked higher previously over the past 2-3 seasons.

In other news, the Giants did take De Paula and Noonan off of the 40-man.  They activated Dan Uggla (to predictable results last night) and old buddy Tony Abreu, the oft injured utility infielder.  They placed Marco Scutaro and Ehire Adrianza on the DL.  Scutaro wasn't ready for action, and Adrianza pulled his hammy again.

Hector Sanchez got clocked bad last night, he's got a concussion.  So he'll get DL'd, and the Giants will bring up Quiroz or Susac.  No word yet, my money's on the Young Gun.

Peavy is going to be paid 2.5MM 2MM by the Giants, and 2.5MM 3MM by the Red Sox for the rest of the year.  He is Matt Cain insurance, and gives the Giants more roster flex.  They want to aggressively pursue Pablo Sandoval this offseason it appears.  I'm not sure if this is a good use of resources, but I do love that Panda character a bunch, even if I criticize from time to time his lackluster play.

The Giants have enough pitching depth at both positions this doesn't hurt too much.  But they are both pitchers who are highly likely to be major leaguers.  But they haven't done anything to bust through to the big roster this season.

I am curious about Kyle Crick.  I think the Giants have to get something controllable back for a trade of either Crick or Susac.  If they call him up today, that might signal he's off the market.

EDIT: It looks like Susac is getting the call.  Awesome.  Congrats to yet another Kid in the farm system, grinding through and getting to 2nd and King.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Giants take 3 of 4 From Philly - Head Home For Big Balls Games - Series Rundown #32

Full Throttle Baby! 
The Giants took 3 of 4 from an aging Phillies team that looks to be a big hot mess.  John Kruk predicts Chase Utley is a Giant by the end of the weekend.  We'll see how that all rolls around.  But we do know this: Brian Sabean got a great trade with Hunter Pence, and he doubled down with a great signing of Captain Underpants.  Just a straight.  Up.  Gamer.

July 21 Giants 7, Phillies 4
July 22 Giants 9, Phillies 6 (14)
July 23 Giants 3, Phillies 1
July 24 Phillies 2, Giants 1

Shank's Keys to the series: Apparently the Giants are going hard for Chase Utley - maybe - he does have a big meaty slash line of 289/347/441 on the season.  But he's getting old and creaky.  Plus Sabean has been swearing up and down his budget is his budget.  I'm skeptical.  Still - who knew this one - Utley lives in SF.  If there's a team that will convince him, its the Gigantes with the big home crowds, the nice CA weather and the chance to take down a ring.  Amaro Jr won't decide whether to buy or sell though, it would most likely be an 11th hour thing.  But talk about a dramatic flight out of Philly if they could get him?  Mano!  Keys?  Hit some home runs Hunter Pence, make them Philly fans even more angry about your series of trades.  Just 3 years ago this would be a huge matchup, right now its kind of a mellow buzz.  It'd be nice to win two games at Citizens.

Bam!  It all circles around.  Chase Utley trade.  Hunter Pence home runs.  Angry philly fans.  Almost got a sweep!  Michael Morse might get some heat, but that was a hard running catch, and Utley cashed it like the professional hitter he is.  Go get em Sabes!

Good hitting: Pence.  Posey.  Pablo.  Like to see some extra base hits from the Panda.  Adrianza might be warming up.  And Adam Duvall hung tough against a tough lefty.  And Crawford came correct with a 3 run cashish in extras after Posey tied it up in the ninth like the All American Hero he is.

Bad hitting: when is Morse getting a day off?  The 3 K's were a bit worrisome but Hamels was dealing today, he got Pence to K 3 times as well.

Good pitching: Hanging tough, looking good, looking strong.  Timmy coming out of the pen?  Jazzes fans up something fierce.  That's good times right there.

Bad pitching: the pitching has been excellent. 

The biggest worry right now for the Giants is getting healthy hitters.  They have enough defenders who can sub in, but Belt's concussion is a big time concern.

And now... The biggest series of the year.  The Dodgers for 3 in the friendly confines of Pac Bell.


Keys to the series: Donnie Baseball, a tier 2 manager at best, re-orged his rotation as he always does so the Gints get Kershaw.  We'll see how that goes.  The Dodgers are souring on their investment of Dan Haren, so they'll start thinking about David Price again.  The cost to the Giants for David Price or Ben Zobrist?  Crick, Susac, and 2 others.  Hmm...  I'm not feeling that actually, maybe that's being guilty of overvaluing what you've got, but Price is going to be obscenely expensive in salary as well.  This series will determine what both teams do at the deadline.  I don't see the Dodgers punting a season, I see them overreacting no matter what.  Will the Giants make some incremental moves?  Big moves?  It appears Scutaro will not be able to contribute even 2-3 times a week at this point.  The Giants need some vets who can give quality pinch hits at key moments during the stretch though, this Joaquin Arias stuff (yet another ground out with the bases juiced today) just isn't cutting it.  Moves need to be made.  When it gets to crunch time, the Dodgers most dangerous hitter is none other than Juan Uribe.  Treat him accordingly.  And try to get to Ryu when you have the opportunities.

Series Rundown Recap:
Giants have 19 series wins on the year, 11 losses, 2 splits.  4 series wins have been sweeps, 3 series losses have been sweeps

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On Houston and Brady Aiken

Great article from BP - free - on the Brady Aiken situation with the Houston Astros.  

Here is a nice piece from BA on Unsigned First Rounders.

I'd point out that teams have risk as well as players, and delaying the gratification of a first round pick, especially high up, is a big risk for the team as well.  I posted a summary of most of those supplemental picks for missing on the signing in the comments.

My reaction is very biased.  I side with the players being drafted in a huge way.  The slotting system is pretty straight forward.  There seems to be a certain attitude that teams can do whatever they want, because the players choice if he refuses the offer is to re-enter at a later date with a much worse chance of earning similar moneys.  I believe this concept governed the Astros decision making in a big way, and ultimately they lost the game of chicken in a big way because Brady Aiken had enough.  The various stories that have leaked about the Astros, whether its trying to blackmail George Springer into signing a team friendly deal before he gets promoted to the show, getting their computer system hacked and leaked revealing trade talks with other teams or making bad bet draft picks like signing Mark Appel (underslot I might add) they are very, very far from a 2017 World Series championship.  There is no doubt that most of MLB would like to see them fail, and fail hard, for the way they are doing business.

The point of the draft is to secure talent, put that talent into professional training and competition, and then see what's what.  To play draft games and manipulate slots as the primary focus is a losing proposition, one that can be proven historically where top of the draft odds are 50-50 versus a 5% chance in the 30s and lower.  To lose out on the #1 pick of the draft for any reason is an utter failure, and should result in the front office being replaced.  This is a front office with BP staffers, who have have taken quite a lot of potshots at the Greybeards over the years I might add.  Well, drafting isn't so easy now that you're doing it, is it fellas?

There is a definite pattern of sabermetric based front offices playing chicken with high school bonus babies.  The Toronto Blue Jays have become notorious for these actions.  For me, its pretty simple: the high school draftee has a number, its been given pre-draft by the family and adviser.  The drafting team has decided to play a stare down on that number.  Well... the Jays have lost that stare down a number of times.  Is this a good thing?  I would say absolutely not.  Tyler Beede had a number, he gave it to them, they thought they could last minute chicken him out of it.  Same with Phil Bickford.  And ultimately that's what this is about with Brady Aiken, they use the excuse of a MRI abnormality on a healthy kid.  You couple that with their non-traditional pitching program that is drawing bad reviews and the fact they will most likely try to hold down salary at all stages of the MLB game, and there are a lot of reasons to tell the Astros to pound sand.

A dozen years after Moneyball, every team in the majors has an analytics department.  A dozen years after Moneyball, especially on the interwebz, there seems to be a huge perception gap in the capabilities and skills between "forward thinking saber savvy front offices" and the "traditionalist dinosaurs" of the game.  As a fan of one of those "traditionalist" teams, I point out the inconsistencies on these perceptions from time to time.  To wit: the books "Moneyball" and "The Extra 2%" have given a lot of attention to two franchises who are eager to share their story.  I can't shake the feeling that both franchises have excellent scouting departments, and have a very good skill in pitching draft and development.  That is what has carried them, not being savvy and sneaky with draft manipulations or any other advanced analysis.

This especially pertains to the draft.  As teams jockey around, the old Rays method was to empty out their bullpen and other class B players and secure compensation picks.  The new CBA changed all that.  Now the focus is on clawing back money from player A to get player B, a version of cutting in line that is viewed by most of MLB with distaste.  Well... I think its time to ask - who are the big success stories with draft manipulation?  I want to know.  Give me some names.  Because I've done a fair amount of research, and the only thing I can conclude is that manipulations are a big waste of time.  Take your pick as it comes, get the guy you think is best on the board, and get on with the game of baseball.  Stop trying to be the smartest guy in the room, as the Astros have done, you end up being the sucker at the poker table. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Stretch Run Commeth

99 in the books, 100 today, and then its 62 big smacks!  50 to see what you got, 50 to make adjustments...  Nine days til the trade deadline. 

AL East is pretty open.  Toronto is promoting Aaron Sanchez, their version of Kyle Crick, to join a staff that is expected to flag.  The Yanks just sent off a couple b-listers (although I like that DePaula guy he throws gas) for Chase Headley.  The Red Sox are starting to win, as are the Rays, but everybody is 4 down on the O's right now.  Both teams in the bottom of the East have 5 game win streaks, and will be reluctant to sell.

AL Central is looking like Tiger Town USA, but Cleveland and KC may not want to concede.  Hey, if the Giants wanted to go chase Big Game James Shields, that'd be alright with me.  Doubtful GMDM sells though.  Shields can be offered the QO, so he will demand something fierce if he gets on the market.

AL West is the power division.  Well, the Texas teams are competing for the first overall pick.  The Astros are a disgrace to baseball, and the Rangers have been injury knocked for sure.  Some of us thought that trading for Fielder and signing up Choo was a move that smacked of desperation and bad judgement.  The A's and Angels don't have much more in their farm to make moves, although Tommy Milone might be a pretty nice chip for Trader Billy.  The Mariners are in prime position to trade off their farm, and they match up better with the Rays than any other team in baseball.

NL East looks like a 2-horse race between the Braves and Nationals.  The Marlins are fading, the Mets are the Mets and the Phillies are trying to remain relevant with an aging core.  The Mets and Phils have some pretty nice trade chips, but a lot of uncertainty from their GMs intentions for the future.

NL Central is where the excitement is, the Cards have slammed back into relevance.  You have the Brewers trying to hold on, the Pirates and the Reds trying to climb up, its a pretty fun race.  And then you have the loser Chicago Cubs, tanking yet again for yet another high draft pick.  They definitely have the best farm system in the land, except its completely and horribly unbalanced on the hitting/pitching cycle. 

And the West.  Two horse Johnny, whomever beats up on common competition the best has a big leg up, and the head to head (NINE GAMES, most in MLB) are going to be crazy important and intense.  The Dodgers are a flawed team as are the Gigantes.  They refuse to give up their top prospects, and so they cannot make a trade.  No team wants a poo poo platter, they want the best guys.  The Dodgers have to field talk about Urias, Seager and Pederson alls the time. 

Its interesting to me that both the Giants and Dodgers have struggled at home, but been huge road warriors.  The Dodgers have a slightly better run differential, but its not something that sticks out as a much better team.  They do have more pitching depth, because they're paying handsomely for it.  Ditto for outfield depth.  The Dodgers can summon Alexander Guerrero for 2B if they want to try a lightning move for no cost.  Same with Peterson in the OF.  Nobody wants to pay the freight on those expensive OFs, which is why they still have them.  Plus one gets hurt like clockwork to boot.

The team that fortifies the pen the best might win.  Romo has been removed (and mano, how skinny does he look?  Something is not right in his personal life) and the guy who looks like he belongs in 1966 Santiago Casilla is on.  When things are going right for Casilla, he is filthy.  What I'm worried about is when the fires start blazing.  Brian Wilson loved those moments.  Not sure Casilla is.  But we'll see, you can always build up your career.  He has a great set of pitches to attack hitters with.

I think a lot of it will come down to pitching and defense.  Which is why Dan Uggla isn't the answer to any question we want to ask.  Keep the d up the middle good, get the hitting from all 4 corners.  Belt needs to stop with his jinxed season after this concussion. 

If Cain is going to be out, I think the Giants should seriously look at Big Game James.  That's a baller move.