Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Savvy Vets Pieces Fall Into Place

Jake Peavy for 2/24MM, backloaded.

Casey McGehee for Flores and Castillo.

So its a band back together and a hitter dependent on babip who should be good for 260/320/400 as a base.  Peavy was horrible in the postseason but the Gigantes don't get there without his stellar work. 

Duck tape and grit until one of those pitchin' prospectos' break through.

Rotation: Bumgarner, Cain, Hudson, Peavy, Lincecum (Petit)
Looks about set.  I like the Peavy deal in the fact it takes Shields out of play most likely.  I'd rather have Peavy, the pick and the 2 year than Shields, the 5 year and no-pick.  Why?  They're the same age, its actually Shields 33rd birthday today.  Peavy does have 2100 innings or so comped to Shields 1900 logged.  Both are horsey vets, with Shields being the better bet going forward, but at what cost?

Thoughts on Hits McGehee: placeholds, in case one of the yoots (cough: Matt Duffy) wants to bust through.  If they are in contention, they can upgrade via trade (hard to trade though, unless you're one of these wild NL West gunslingers). 

Infield: Posey, Belt, Panik, Crawford, McGehee
Outfield: Pence, Pagan, Blanco
Backups: Susac, Ishikawa, Arias, Perez and...

Bullpen is fairly well set with Casilla, Romo, Lopez, Affeldt, Strickland and...

Might not be sexy, but the Gigantes have Posey, Pence, Cain and most importantly Madison Bumgarner.  I like their chances.

I subscribe to "Go big or go home".  At the price paid, Pablo Sandoval will most likely disappoint in Fenway, although that park almost always provides a bump.  Jon Lester would have been a great get, although at a big risk long term.  Beyond that?  Not much out there.  So these small moves are OK. 

Giants need to continue to mine reclamation projects, make a savvy trade or two to snag a guy in the 28-30 sweet spot a la Pence and Pagan, and they need to hit on a big ticket pitcher in the draft.  I'm ok with no splashes.  And I'm OK with holding on Duffy, Susac, Strickland and Panik.  They are good players, not flashy, but valuable.

I like Flores, he seems to have an odd/even year thing going on.  I expect a good AA year next year from him.  He has a chance to be a good 4/5 starter, but he needs more consistency.  He does throw strikes, maybe the pen is where he ends up.  Good looking kid.  Castillo is undersized and much further out.  They are C/C+ prospects, and the Giants have plenty of depth in that area.

McGehee is a NorCal native, I figured the Giants might have taken a shot at him coming back from Japan.  He stroked a HR off of Timmy last year, he's more of a doubles hitter now.  Hope he can continue to field well, hit for average and provide cheap coverage.  Because his contract will definitely be affordable.  Not a bad get, both these moves are a bit meh but they are vets who aren't THAT old, and should have something in the tank.  Yes, McGehee did drop off the 2nd half and he has a checkered MLB record.  But if he can't roll, he's easily and painlessly replaced.  That is the hidden value in the Giants strategy.

Peavy might be a bit pricier on the replacement scale, but its the same.  2 pitchers on their contract year, and for Hudson his last year in MLB most likely, and Peavy for 2.  Not the worst thing as the Giants tread water looking for that homegrown stud.  Tyler Beede, you lifting?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The New Sabes Special

Inflation is a bitch, man...

The Sabes Special TM is a 2/12MM contract.  It is given out to savvy vets.  Generally there is a big time injury risk associated with the Sabes Special.  Case #1: Mark DeRosa.  Case #2: Freddy Sanchez.

The 2/12MM is dead baby, dead.  WAR is a climbin', these times they's a changin'.  Now its a 2/15MM deal.  Sergio Romo baby!  Welcome back!

The good: Romo has a ton of closing experience, and the best slider in baseball.
The bad: Romo is slight of frame, has a trick knee, has low velocity.
The good: 3 rings, he contributed mightily to all 3.
The bad: sometimes the aged vet doesn't look so good in the morning light. Romo is no longer young.
The good: pen needs the depth, and Casilla/Strickland/whomever else might fail. 
The bad: Romo lets his personal life spill over.  I have a feeling that had as much to do with his hickups as mechanics or scouting reports.
The good: Romo is a character, this team needs characters.  Homegrown, and still good.
The bad: no more bads.  Romo in Dodger Blue would have hurt more than Schmidt/Kent/Uribe/Wilson/Velez combined.  Sorry, I'm an emotional Shankbone from time to time, and Romo is a Good Giant for life.  Enough with this go down south shtick, there IS a new Sheriff in town after all...

Michael Morse took the Sabes Special, new version, in a different town.  I can understand the Giants reluctance, they have Belt and Posey, and LF is too much adventuring.  He was a good signing, and on a magical October night, he was a great signing.  Personally I don't mind the defensive silliness, he gets out in crunch time, and he can put a rise in the ball.  Go Mikey Mo!  I hate that org you joined, but we'll cheer big time in the household as long as you're not playing the French Vanilla.  My eldest is pretty shook up about this one.

So is there room for another Sabes special?  I can't imagine Asdrubal Cabrera taking a similar deal until later in the season with no suitors.  Is a trade a comin'?   The Padres trade for Wil Myers, Sabean finally throws down a legit offer to Romo.  What is the world COMING to?

Good signing.  Romo is easily worth a win a season, and when its crunch time, Bochy has a weapon.  On a fan favorite side, Romo is way up there.  The Boy From Brawley Baby! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Punch Counterpunch

The Dodgers did a complicated set of trades that netted them a new middle infield.

The Giants talked with some pitchers.

The Dodgers shipped out Matt Kemp, getting some salary relief and a possible new starting catcher.

The Giants signed ex-Dodger farm hand Carlos Triunfel to a minor league deal.

The Dodgers signed a pitcher, instead of just talking to a pitcher, Brandon McCarthy, for 4/48MM.

The Giants signed a minor league deal for ex-Reds pitcher Curtis Partch.

The Dodgers picked up injury risk Brett Anderson to a 1/10MM deal with incentives.

The Giants signed Justin Maxwell to a minor league deal.

The Dodgers DFA'd former Giants closer Brian "The Beard" Wilson, choosing to pay him his 9.5MM to not pitch in Blue. 

The Giants had another post-season hero go somewhere else, with Michael Morse signing a 2/16MM deal with the dreaded Florida Marlins (Morse lives and is from Florida, expecting a baby and didn't want to DH - great for him, and he put up a heartfelt message to fans).

The Dodgers are looking to move another weak link in their pen with Brandon League, shopping him hard.

The Giants have yet to really talk or think about signing one of their bullpen links, Sergio Romo.

Contrast in off-seasons eh?  There are 4 new GMs in the NL West, and new GMs have to make moves.  But make no mistake, even though he's overrated, Andrew Friedman does know what he's doing, and his first moves are aggressively cutting out dead wood from Ned Coletti and the ownership's big moves. 

The Dodgers are paying 10MM for Haren to pitch in Florida or wherever his journeys take him.  Wilson 9.5MM.  Kemp they pick up a little less on an annual basis, 33MM was reported.  League might be next.  And they avoided the Hanley re-up like the plague.  What will be different?  The Dodger clubhouse. 

So what's what with Los Gigantes?  Are trades brewing?  The FA market has dwindled except for two big pitchers, Scherzer and Shields.  The Giants, who like to talk to all pitchers, have very pointedly said they aren't talking to Max.  Have they been informed that James Shields is Aaron Rowand's cousin and he credits cuz Warrior Spirit with making him a major league guy by teaching him how to work out?  Run away... run away...

Maybe the Giants bid on the Korean SS Jung-Ho Kang.  Every story about him emphasizes how small the parks are and how hitter friendly the league is.  He DID lead the league in HRs though.  Bids due on Friday!

So we wait.  The only thing I'm bummed about at all is Lester, I think he would have really tied the room together.  But you have to go compete against everybody else.  That's tough bidness.  No shame in losing.  What's the plan now Brian?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Those Monks, Those Lonely Monks

Wait... what?  Wheresa beard?  Photo: BA, back in the day

No deal for you!

Is Sabean out of touch with the new age Ivy League generation? 

Were these "pure baseball" trades going on today? 

Which team improved, for reals, and which teams shuffled deckchairs on the Titanic?

Where's the Giants currency at?  Money rich, prospect rich?  What are teams asking for?  Controllable MLB talent?  Pitching?  Top blue chip prospects? 

Sabean used to wheel deal like a madman.  Times have changed some, for sure.  But old timers way back in 1997 and the like remember... 

There's a reason there hasn't ever been a Sabean-Beane trade or a Sabean-Friedman trade.  (Both have acquired a Gigante for cashish one time for the inquiring minds...)

Should the Giants have had a Plan B ready when Sandoval said no go?  I'm pretty sure they had plenty of advance notice he was saying no.  Lester doesn't get the full court take it to 11 full court press?  7/160 wouldn't win it?  And so if they're only content to go to their evaluation, which is not what free agency is about, especially for the blue chip guys... what's next?

Not to worry... the special talent of the Greybeards... the dumpster dive.

They need to get a bit more though, because the NL West is improving.  The Padres made out well with the Matt Kemp deal.  They have good pitching.  They could be pretty decent next year.  The D-backs and Rockies are still a mess, and the Dodgers have shored some holes (but no bullpen work yet - and they took out their 2-3 best hitters, 140 and 132 OPS+ - its not all roses no matter what you read on the interwebz). 

But I can't escape feeling like the Giants haven't really played this right so far.  FA charming is hard, no doubt, and getting good hitting is hard, no doubt, but if you can't excel at one thing, you'd better go excel somewhere else.  So is it going to be more reclamation projects? 

Giants need a win, a big arm, or a out of nowhere bat that comes alive.  Right now... its a bit sad out there.

That being said, I just can't get that sad about having an offer above what Sando took, and an offer that was up there for Lester.  Maybe we need a bit more of that old Sabean charm to seal the deal?  Hmmm... reminds me of Anthony Hopkins playing Nixon.  Send in Bobby Evans with a rose.

Giants Waiting In Line For Matches

Hot stove went insane, trades all over the place as the Marlins, Tigers, Red Sox, Angels and Dodgers all retool. 

The Giants have moved their focus to James Shields.  One.  Thing.  At.  A.  Time.

I don't like the announcing they are not in on Max Scherzer, but Sabean and Boras have a long time grudge match going.  Boras cheerfully spun the reasons why they should be in on Scherzer.  And you know what?  I think he's right.  Having 3 big arms is a winning formula.

So now draft pick loving Gigantes fans have to sweat out the Giants going small with Ervin Santana (come on Twins, finalize that thing!) and Shields.  A 5 year deal with Shields would put him into the Ryan Vogelsong age bracket. 

If he can eat innings the way he has the past 5 years, he could be a good deal though:
2010: 203IP, 75 ERA+
2011: 249IP, 134 ERA+
2012: 228IP, 109 ERA+
2013: 229IP, 131 ERA+
2014: 227IP, 124 ERA+

1100 innings, with 3 excellent, one above average and one stinker?  Pretty nice actually. 

Will the Giants finish 2nd again?  In this case above others, they need to get him at a price, not an overbid.  I'd be OK losing the pick at a price, but not if you're going into 6/105MM territory and above.  The deal needs to be at or below the Sandoval offer.

Dodger moves?  I want to put something up, but they aren't done.  Kneejerk:
Rollins: vet, good guy, replaces a dreadful defender in Hanley R and improves clubhouse.  Good move.
Kendrick: vet, great hitter, replaces a inconsistent hitter and occasionally spazzy defender in Gordon.  Good move. 
Both of these are short term placeholders, although the Dodgers could re-up Kendrick pretty easily. 
The middle infield is much better defensively and doesn't take that much of a hit offensively.  They did not commit long term to either Hanley or Dee Gordon, I think Coletti would have, and I think that would have been a mistake.  Friedman is a better GM for sure. 

Trading Kemp - they have to eat 32MM, so the Padres basically get Kemp at 5/75MM.  I would like Kemp at 5/75MM so good for the Padres.  I think this is a clench teeth deal, they have to do something and Kemp is the only one that will let them free a long term commitment.  So they save 5/75MM to reallocate.  And they get a catcher who was hyped, came up short and was popped for PEDs.  Grandal doesn't scare the way Rollins/Kendrick does for me. 

There are more trades coming though, so its a wait and see.  They will be essentially paying Kendrick 20MM once you factor in the Haren deal.  Was this a cold hearted move?  Not really.  They called his bluff.  Just because Coletti gave out a option doesn't mean they owe it to Haren to keep him in sunny Socal.  I think getting rid of Haren from the rotation is a great baseball move for the Bums. 

They replace him with Brandon McCarthy.  He has a great twitter feed, he bulked up and added velocity, and had a healthy year.  I'm not sold on him, and I think 4/48MM is a pretty big gamble with his health history, but its peanuts to a 200MM team.  They've had so many DL'd pitchers in the past 3-4 years, what's one more. 

So I like the moves Friedman has done.  I'm not sure how much it'll improve the team by addition, but it definitely takes away some pieces that might be anchors.  He is tasked with removing some of the deadwood, and its challenging with the Crawford/Ethier parts being very hard to move.  Don't think he'll get any takers for Brian Wilson, but it would not surprise me to see Wilson next on the move.

The Giants have selected Brett Jackson, former top prospect of the Cubs and Cal grad, in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft.  Take that Friedman!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Draft Order As It Stands, Remaining QO's

So here are the only FAs out there that still cost the draft pick:
Ervin Santana
Melky Cabrera
James Shields
Max Scherzer

Should the G's be in on any of these?

I says hells no.  Santana is the definition of middle market mediocrity.  You can get his performance from any number of FA righties with less years, less money and no comp.
Melky is a difficult one, but I find his two best years suspect.  Maybe his game is built for the park, but again, too many years, too much money, and the comp.
Shields - has proven to not be a big game performer.  We just got through seeing our starters crumble under the big lights until the SI Sportsman of the Year came correct.  Years.  Moneys.  Comp.  No thank you.
Scherzer?  200MM?  No thanks.

Please don't go wasting the pick Greybeards.  It is so important to keep the pipeline open.  It gets harder down the draft order, no doubt, but this is shaping up to be a good little draft game lining up for the French Vanilla.

MLB link, its not updated to reflect Robertson's signing yet (Sox lose their 2nd round) and Liriano re-upping with the Bucs. 

Giants have 19th, 30th, 60th and 95th inside the top 100.  The Yanks take down Scherzer, they move up to 18th and 29th. 

EDIT: Twins take Santana off the market, they have a protected first round pick, so they lose their 2nd rounder.  It bumps the Giants comp pick up 1 to 32 (the Braves had a worse record than the Giants) and it bumps the 2nd rounder down to #59.  

3 more QOs to work out.  The Giants are in on James Shields, but don't want a lengthy bidding process.  They should not be in on James Shields with the draft pick trending up this way.

Execute Plan C

No Jon Lester for You!

Reports on bids are always a bit sketchy, but apparently the Gigantes stopped at 6/150 with room to talk a bit more, but no 7th year. 

And Lester gave them the Pablo: "It's not you, it's me".  He's a Cubbie, for 6/155, with a team option to take it to 7/170MM.  Don't underestimate the power of the Epstein? 

Thoughts: at least the Red Sox lost out as well?  This is a ton of cashish.  Lester is the top lefty, he doesn't cost the draft pick, he's been good in the postseason and he's been a horse.  That makes for a lot of cheddah.  When you have 3-4-5 teams competing, things get nutty.

I'm OK with the Giants not winning.  Bobby Evans (who is the man) had some great quotes.  "We did not receive a rose" and one with a little more spice when asked about coming in 2nd on Sandoval, Tomas and Lester: "We finished 1st in the most important area, though". 

Giants are the champions of baseball for the 3rd time in 5 years.  It's still hard to get FA's to come though.

I'm reminded of Sabean's bitter stalking horse comments from a few years back.  I think the 3 titles have eased everybody a lot.  The FA market is one where you pay for past performance hoping to get full value on a contract.  You have to overbid in AAV and years.  The Giants seem to want to hold the line on one of those two at all cost, and it costs them.  The over the top for them to win the bid was most likely 7/175MM, and that is insane.  Further, with Matt Cain getting the biggest contract on AAV and Posey getting the biggest contract period, rewarding an outsider with a bigger one is a huge deal, and a line in the sand they most likely aren't and shouldn't be comfortable doing. 

So what now?  Forget Plan B, just go to Plan C immediately!  (It's a line from "Weeds" btw)

I don't think Justin Upton and other Braves is a fit personally.  They already shot down that rumor anyways.  The Mets?  They're going to take a while to settle down from big claims for their 3 vet pitchers.  Go big for Scherzer?  With a 200MM demand, I doubt it heavily.   Justin Masterson?  The Gints did request med info. 

I'm happy the Lester signing is done, it was stalling all the hot stove.  And I'm OK with the Giants missing.  He would have been nice, no doubt, but the cost was getting extreme.  Two links here: first Verducci, who points out success rates for pitchers on years/age and second fangraphs Tony B.  As usual, a saber analysis offered up what he would pay, and its not in line with the real world of extremely limited supply, which will always make for some big overpays. I am pretty sure players want the years AND the moneys, haven't seen a player take more AAV, although Cliff Lee did a bit with his Philly deal.

Giants have to get very creative, and it most likely wont' be a blue chip type now that they lost out on Lester.