Monday, March 30, 2015

Third Time Defending The Brass Ring

So what are the predictions looking like for Los Gigantes?

Fangraphs is doing their usual thing, predicting a sub-500 year and a 11 game trouncing by the Boys in Blue.  Ouch!

So let's talk about the Dodgers real quick.  The theory is that they have a stockpile of money that is unprecedented in the game.  They will use this to acquire anything in their way, especially starting pitching. 

My BS detector goes off big time on this one.  Did the Dodgers get David Price last year?  In fact, the Dodgers were so firm on holding onto the trio of Urias, Seager and Pederson, they stood pat.  And here is the rub with going after the big name players via trade: teams want your best talent. 

The Directv impasse hasn't moved a muscle.  For the second straight year the Dodgers will not have their games on for 75% of the city.  Its actually more, as games used to be on free TV, which a fair amount of the city still uses, despite the dominance of cable/sat providers.  Now despite the nod to Time Warner needing to pay the Dodgers their money, the heat comes on the other side as advertising dollars flee the paltry viewership numbers.  That is where the pressure will come, and it will get intense.  Because Directv hasn't lost subscribers, nor any other pay-provider.  Here's the money quote: "Time Warner Cable and the Dodgers' front office owe fans the simple freedom to see Dodger games on TV without obligating every TV customer to bail out Time Warner for its reckless overspending," DirecTV said in a statement. Kasten declined to comment. (LA Times)

The Dodgers will stay put with the no-new negotiation, they have no choice.  But eventually the entity that is Time Warner will not be able to keep paying the escalated costs.  And then it gets pretty interesting.

I'm in the area, I have, and I'll most likely go to a bar or the actual game when Los Gigantes play their hated rivals.  The problem the Dodgers have with the sports fans market here - there are a ton of transplants who have other rooting interests: the Yanks/Mets/Cubs/WhiteSox especially.  They, like me, have no need to watch the Dodgers and are happy plunking down for the interwebz version.

Enough about the biz of baseball, what about the team?  Ryu's injury is definitely a worry.  They are confident their 4 year deal with oft injured Brandon McCarthy will be fruitful.  While he has added weight and experience, I would be skeptical of getting a full year.  So its the Kershaw and Greinke show.  The pitching staff is in flux, with Jansen's injury.  Has Friedman done enough?  He got lucky with Brandon League getting injured, and he jettisoned The Beard as well as Dan Haren (eating 20MM smackaroos in the process)

The hitting though... I just go back to the hitting.  They lose Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp.  Kemp slashed 309/365/606 in the 2nd half of 2014, when he was fully healthy.  That is a BEAST.  I'm so happy Kemp isn't a Dodger anymore, he's always been a player I really admire.  I expect him, as a 30 year old in his prime, to go play with a huge chip on his shoulder and really stick it to the Dodgers.  The standard mumbo jumbo about his defense is a carricature at this point.  His defense isn't that bad, he just isn't a CF anymore.  In RF, I fully expect him to be about league average.  With one of the best bats in the league.  The Bums will miss those two a ton. 

They are putting a ton of confidence in a rookie I find extremely overrated, Joc Pederson.  Now lets note, he has more spring training home runs than the entire Giant starting lineup.  I'm trying to convince my 7 year old that spring training games don't count, but he's still on me about all this.  Let's see what happens after the first month, when a brutal book has been built.  Oh, by the way, they haven't been able to trade Ethier or Crawford, so they still have a 4-headed OF. 

The defense up the middle is definitely improved, but it comes at risk of age.  Just like with Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro, Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick are not spring chickens anymore.  Now they are both on one year deals, so its not the same kind of risk, but that doesn't matter to the moneybags team of MLB right?  I will be interested to see how much improvement is actually visited - I will say Rollins is leagues better than bad attitude Hanley Ramirez.

So while I'm skeptical of some of the Dodgers moves, and a lot of the hype over the new front office, I will give them credit for: improving their defense, cutting deadwood out of the bullpen and getting the clubhouse a little cleaner.  But I would caution the following: offense with holes, still problems leftover from Agent Ned and The Trade, a pen that is shambles and a strategy of being able to go out and get more starting pitching for moneys alone as unfeasible. 

Now... Los Gigantes?  Well, they will have the target on them all year.  Every team will play just a bit tougher.  You can argue that Sandoval-McG and Morse-Aoki are two downgrades, but there are counter arguments based on defensive metrics as well as OBP profiles that might signal improvements.  Like the much hyped middle infield moves of the Dodgers, these moves are short term.  The pitching is pretty much the exact same staff.  A year older, a year wiser?  It is definitely a duct tape and red ass move, depending heavily on veteran grit.  There is depth, but is there much upside?  I think the Giants ultimate success lies in the arms of Matt Cain and (don't laugh) Tim Lincecum.  And of course the fragile back of Angel Pagan. 

The Giants need to tread water until they get back Pence.  They need to be solid defensively, and they need that magic beans help they seem to come up with every year (Brandon Hicks, et al).  Vernon Maxwell appears to be the man this year.  But it still comes back to the fact they have Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey, as usual.  With those two, and a supporting cast, anything is possible. 

In 2011 there was a lot of noise about Brandon Belt, then there was injuries.  Lots of injuries.  They insisted on playing Rowand (because Torres wasn't up to his 2010 campaign) and Tejada (because they didn't have an answer at short and then Sandoval got injured). 

In 2013 it seemed like half the roster played the WBC, and most those guys had sub par and injured years.  Rest up fellas.  Did the Giants rest enough this offseason?  The hitting was suprisingly OK, and the pitching was pretty much uniformly awful.  So has Timmy got his mojo back after huddling up with Papa Chris?  Has Cain got all the spurs out?  Does Vogey have a little left?  Peavy?  Huddy?  (I love pulling the Bochy-isms, its easy with this crew). 

Some success will come from farm depth.  2014 saw Panik, Susac, Duffy and Strickland.  2 or 3 of those guys will start in Sacto, ready to come up.  Don't sleep on Mac Williamson, or Cody Hall or Derek Law.  Or possibly a late season move from a re-vamped Kyle Crick.  These salty vets are stop gaps for the next wave of pitching, the Giants are waiting to see which guys want to show them what's what.  And that's the exciting thing to watch. 

2014 was so damn cool, watching Duffy rake in AA, Panik rake in AAA and then see them move to big club.  We'll see what 2015 brings, each year is different, but the Giants are yet again extremely underrated, as is their farm system, which is actually in great shape to deliver big pieces.

Viva Los Gigantes!  Back to back?  Hard, but not impossible.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Some Kids Get The Bad News - Minor League Assignments Ho!

Baseball is such a tough game.  Hitting the ball is the hardest thing to do in sports.  And most players don't make it to the show.

Giants cut loose a bunch of kids, and there are some nice names there: RHP Brandon Farley, RHP Cameron McVey, RHP Kevin Pucetas, LHP Keurin Feliz, LHP Steven Messner, 1B Jonathan Jones, 1B Ryan Tuntland, 3B Sam Mende, 3B Adalberto Santos, SS Alberto Robles, OF Leonardo Fuentes, OF Tyler Hollick, OF Craig Massoni, OF Shawn Payne.

I like Payne a lot as a sleeper - grinder with some obp skills and pop.  I was hoping he would get to play 2B, the Giants kept him at LF and DH.  The Giants know best.  He stalled out at SJ.  I hope he gets a shot to latch on to another club and continue to grind.

A couple of Payne's 2011 draft mates got their minor league assignments: Cody Hall (19th round) is assigned to Sacramento, as are Chris Heston and Jarrett Parker.  Heston just took on the Bums starting 8 and came out unscathed.  He is the most likely candidate for call up if the red ass/duct tape trio of Huddy/Vogey/Peavy don't do well. 

Daniel Carbonell is the only owner of a AA assignment currently.  I expect him to be joined by Mac Williamson and Ty Horan for a very interesting OF trio.  And yes, I just got myself a spiffy Flying Squirrels hat.

San Jose assignments that are official: Derek Law, Ray Black and Joan Gregorio.  This is a big year for Gregorio, who has a great sinking fastball but has to stay healthy and get a more consistent delivery.  Huge potential there, but odds are steep at putting it all together.  Black (7th) and Law (9th) are part of the Giants LEGENDARY draft class.

Yes, LEGENDARY.  Here it is - go read this analysis of the Rays draft in 2011 on the Rays SBN site.  Notice there is one team - out of thirty - that keeps on getting mentioned?  They are just touching the big names, top 100 draft picks, and there are Panik, Crick and Susac.  You throw in these pen arms who will threaten the roster this year, and you have a home run draft class. 

Thoughts with Clayton Blackburn, who just lost his brother.  Baseball is 80% mental - you need the skills, but being able to keep calm and carry on when the moment is upon you is just a gigantic hurdle as well.  Blackburn is battling some injuries as well, he will have his work cut out, he might end up in Richmond to start.  He's starting to get beat up a little on the top prospect lists, but also continues to put up excellent overall stats. 

Giants have also released RHP Ariel Hernandez, and they traded for Jackson Williams, of the legendary 2007 draft class.  That Rays "load up the draft" was so hyped as the best thing ever, it hasn't brought any results.  The Giants 2007 load up the draft on the other hand... is among the best in history, if you look to the trades that brought the rings.

Here are some guys to watch very closely, that you might not see on the top 30 lists:
Catcher: Ty Ross - 12th rounder in 2013 out of LSU, Giants paid him 100K to land him.  He has a defense first shaky bat rep but I liked him as a top 5 catcher in that class because he can take a walk and has some pop.  That's a great backup catcher profile.  He slashed 246/313/347 in Augusta last year in 472 PAs/117 games, which looks pedestrian until you factor in for the Sally.  Look for him to land in SJ this year, yes that is a year behind for a college bat, he's 23 years young.  He will be overshadowed by Aramis Garcia, the 2nd rounder from 2014, at the position, but don't sleep on Ross.

1B: Skyler Ewing - 6th rounder in 2014 out of Rice, Giants have most likely decided to not try him at catcher because the bat is live.  He slashed 291/417/473 at short season S/K, with 36BB/28K - excellent plate discipline and 8 dingers.  That was a better result than 2013 4th rounder Brian Ragira, who had a good 2nd year at SJ, but has more swing miss to his game.  I'd expect Ewing to High-A SJ and Ragira to the Big Bad Eastern to see what's what.  1B is so tough, the pressure to be a bat is immense.  The Giants do not, I repeat do not, take high picks at 1B.  They value up-the-middle defense too much.  Of note: Ewing gets a nod in the MLB (Callis/Mayo) top 30 list at 21.  The Giants might have a steal here.  He joins Ty Horan as one of them there Cape Cod HR heroes.  The Giants are all over those types, as long as they can get em at value in the draft.

2B: Austin Slater - 8th rounder in 2014 out of Stanford, Giants are flirting with CF, trying to find a position for the bat.  Slater should have been a high pick bonus baby out of HS, but he had a bad break.  He kind of slouched around at Stanford, but he has a simple swing.  He's getting a lot of noise from the Beat Guys, and he torched short season S/K to the tune of 347/417/449.  He'll most likely be at SJ as well, meaning the first 3 profiles I've done are all Lil' Gigantes.  Slater can just straight up hit.  Thanks to the Stanford coaches for disguising that for a bit, allowing another value pick.  Baggs is on him here.  Slater was a SS in HS, 2B should be able to happen.  The Giants tendency to stay up the middle is showing through here.  As is their love for contact oriented hitters.  Slater gets the final mention in Callis/Mayo top 30, and he's a very obvious watch this guy closely name.

SS: Kelvin Beltre - pay attention when the Giants make noise about someone, as Bobby Evans just did with Beltre.  Signed for 650K, one of the highest bonuses paid in recent years by the frugal IFA operation of Los Gigantes, Beltre posted big #s in limited play.  You can't really take DSL numbers too seriously, you have to wait for Stateside action.  22BB/11K - he wasn't subscribing to the old "you can't walk off the island".  He isn't a whiz at short, but I will dare go this far: he is the best SS prospect in the entire organization, which is slightly indicative of some weakness there, no doubt, but its the same old "Giants think he can stick" saw... Which sometimes results in moving on over.  Speaking of moving over, Christian Arroyo will be at SJ, at shortstop, and he should be getting the nod, but that's obvious and boring.  Watch Beltre!  (He got a attaboy as well in MLB's list at 29 overall)

3B: Mitch Delfino - 20th rounder in 2012 out of Cal, he is just slowly grinding away.  He has a good glove for the position, he just took on SJ to the tune of 289/333/424, which will get a groan of "college bat not dominating the California" from most.  He is showing moderate power and the ability to make contact, has pretty decent BB/K numbers.  He is a grinder, and watch closely where the Giants place him, most likely the big bad Eastern.  Ryder Jones is another obvious name, but the college bat that grinds along is where its at.  You will not find Delfino on any lists, but its interesting to me he got the invite to ST,.  Somebody in the org likes him a lot.  The other sleeper to watch closely is Blake Miller, who has his utility role and big promotions going on.

OF: The trio of Williamson/Carbonell/Horan is going to be big, and they have the chance to earn promotions somewhere in California mid-to-late season.  I think they're going to make the Flying Squirrels very competitive.  In edition, look out for fast athletic IFA bonus babies Gustavo Cabrera and Mikey Edie to make stateside appearances.  That's my top 5.  I'm not as high on Dylan Davis as most, I don't think he makes enough contact to tap into the power profile.  Jarrett Parker and Gary Brown continue to grind along, they'll be a big part of the inaugral Sacramento team for Los Gigantes.  My sleeper pick: Hunter Cole.  He didn't put up big numbers in short season - 239/311/424 - but he was coming from a scorching cape cod that saw him signed right before the deadline as a huge value 26th rounder from 2014.  Athletic profile, his stats have trailed his potential all up the line.  I liked him a lot in the 2014 draft class, similar to Ty Ross.

LHP: Not a sleeper at all, Luis Ysla is my guy.  Bad mechanics!  Old for his level!  Who cares.  Lefties who throw that hard are few and far between.  Should be in SJ, along with Beede and Gregorio.  Wild hair flamethrower Caleb Smith (17th round 2014) is a lefty to watch.  And you know I'm going to drone on about Mason McVay, who should get to Richmond this year.  Watch closely where Christian Jones ends up.

RHP: I'll bet the Giants send Sam Coonrod to the pen very soon for good.  They are always drafting them relievers way up high!  Crazy Greybeards.  Two college arms I liked a lot are a bit tarnished, this is a big year for them, or it might be their names on the released list next year: Martin Agosta and Nick Vander Tuig.  Both excelled in college, got a little knocked for not having enough for pro ball.  Cody Hall has a big year ahead, I think he'll be in the mix if things break right.  Hall had a knockdown VWL campaign, and he just puts it on the black.  He gets that 2nd pitch right, he's another Gigante late round success story.

And that's what I've got right now!  Giants are starting to warm up a bit in a dismal spring campaign. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Los Gigantes Own The Worst Record In The Majors

Good thing its Spring Training eh?

5 wins isn't pretty though.  The hitting isn't really showing up yet.  Home Runs might be hard to come by, and that might be a big deal. 

Getting close to go time.  Angel Pagan, you there?

Bright spots:
Matt Duffy - Making it hard on the Greybeards, our boy is.  Hitting .387, just hit his 2nd HR of the season. 
Casey McGehee - Playing a solid 3B and hitting up a storm, .382 with 4 doubles.
Brandon Belt - the only power threat on the projected starting 8.  Is this the year he breaks out?

Not so bright spots:
Aoki.  Panik.  Ishikawa.  Adrianza.  Not a fan of checked swing strikeouts, he just strikes me as Manny Burriss part two.  My buddy called me Captain Obvious for pointing out his hitting woes.  Yes, he has a slick glove, but the Giants are in a bind on this with the roster rules. 

Pitching: Bumgarner looks about ready!  Timmy put on some weight.  I think Cain will surprise.  We'll see how Peavy/Vogelsong/Hudson do with the red ass/duct tape plan.  Plenty of veteran grit, that might surprise as well.

Santiago Casilla isn't quite ready.  Hopefully Romo is getting stretched out now.  You can't get too worried about the pen.

Sorry about the lack of posting.  Getting the kids baseball set up for the season has taken its toll.  And my stubborn lefty lad has finally embraced the simple concept of "Step and Throw" - added 20 feet of distance and some velocity.  That's more important to me than blogging, as my little tooth/jaw issue still is working its way out.  Lots of pain. 

I am getting the vibe that Maxwell might be able to pull a Hicks - provide good defense and power until the league figures out how to get the Strikeouts rolling.  He looked good yesterday.  I think he'll make the team, and Juan Perez will have to get his suitcase out for the up-down game for another year.  There is a very real chance the starting OF opening day will be Aoki in LF, Blanco in CF and Maxwell in RF.  Not exactly how they wrote it up! 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Draft 2015: Rhett Wiseman

The odds of Vandy Shortstop Dansby Swanson reaching pick number 18 are slim to none.  So instead of getting all huffed up, why not go look at a teammate of his?

Rhett Wiseman Vandy Profile

Here are the reasons the Gigantes will target the lad:

1.  Work Ethic.  Vandy won the national title, he was in the Cape hitting balls 12 hours later. 

2.  Scouts over stats.  You look at his stat line, nothing really jumps out.    He has a 2 to 1 K/BB ratio.  His power hasn't really set in yet.  He has some speed to his game.  He is a good RF.

3.  Standout student, former HS Player of the year.  He has a great 6th tool profile.  MA player of the year, he was drafted by the Cubs in the 25th round after teams shied away from the strong Vandy commitment.  Wiseman wasn't going to go large in the 2012 draft, so teams were trying to pick him off for mid six figures.  Vandy will keep their commits for those prices.

4.  Baseball-Football guy.  Here's an old profile, the Giants have been in on these types, Mac Williamson and Tyler Horan come to mind.  Notice the raves about defense, something that is always valued in Greybeard land.

5.  Just a gamer.  These stats really don't stand out a ton.  He hit a lot of home runs, triples and what not in high school.  He is a grinder.  This is the type of guy that drops to the 2nd or 3rd round for most teams draft boards.  The Greybeards tend to snap them up against consensus.

6.  If you want the cheap joke, he played the Cape, and the Giants love themselves prospects coming out of the Cape. 

I wouldn't be surprised if the Giants took a shot at Wiseman.  I'd be psyched.

Pablo Shoots Himself In The Foot For No Good Reason

Talking to Scott Miller on Bleacher Report, Pablo Sandoval decided to unload a little.  Choiciest cuts include: "Not hard at all," Pablo Sandoval told Bleacher Report during an early-morning conversation here the other day. "If you want me around, you make the effort to push and get me back." "I knew early in spring training last year I was going to leave," Sandoval said. "They didn't respect my agent. Contract talks, everything. The way Brian Sabean (Giants general manager) talked to my agent." and..."Only Bochy," Sandoval said of Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "I love Boch. He's like my dad. He's the only guy that I miss. And Hunter Pence. Just those guys."

Not exactly sure what Hunter Pence did that was so special.  Most likely the shout out to fans that they want to keep Panda during the ceremony, that might appeal to the ego of a 9 year old.  

We've hashed and re-hashed Sandoval.  The heroics are special, and there to watch forever (you did order your 2014 dvd set right?  right?)  But the grind of the season... descending slash lines paint a bad picture, before you get into the history of "bad bodied" ballplayers aging.  
2012 283/342/447
2013 278/341/417
2014 279/324/415

Now you do have to look around the league, and his OPS+ for these 3 years of descending are still above average: 123, 116 and 111.  And of course we all know the various hammates, rehab stunts, weight yo-yos and the like.  

Random thoughts: Pablo was on his way to pie Matt Cain post-perfect game, Buster Posey came in for a last minute snag.  There's a clue right there: how immature are you to go for a haze rookie style prank when somebody has just done one of the most special achievements of all time?

Bumgarner during 2013 gave Pablo a couple looks of death when Sandoval was scrapping in the field.  Sloppy, sloppy defensive work.  Work ethic is pretty important in all ballclubs, the Giants seem to value it just a little more.  Like Pence says: We want it more.

The one that rubs me wrong for some reason: Pablo throws up a thank you to fans on instagram, shunning the traditional take out a page in the paper.  One of those does cost money.  Its been widely reported that while he was publicly waving and talking about being a Giant for life during the parade, he was telling his entourage he was waving good bye.  Hey, I can see both sides on this one, you don't want to be harshing everybody's mellow during a celebration.  But its a bit insincere, you could have said "we'll see how it goes".

Ultimately Crawford's reply will most likely be all that comes out of the clubhouse: "If it were me, and I left an organization where I won three world championships . . I probably wouldn't be saying stuff like that. But that’s just me.” 

What did Pablo gain here?  The satisfaction of saying Brian Sabean is a big meany?  The Giants are always generous, the offer might have started at 3/40MM (leaked by Pablo's scumbag agent) but it got to 4/80MM with a 5th year option, and the Giants matched the BoSox offer.  You want respect?  How about training for rehab instead of boozing til 4AM in Santa Cruz?  The team, the organization and especially the fans have stood by all sorts of shenanigans and stayed loyal.  Pablo is now somewhere new, with some huge expectations.  The chances of him fulfilling those are slim in my opinion.  I think this is going to be a really sad crash and burn.  And Sando looks like a prime candidate to be one of those athletes who blows through all their money, filing law suits with ex-advisors and hangers on. 

The Giants have their wall of fame, Pablo is definitely eligible.  What will that look like in a few years?  The Giants, more than practically any org in baseball, have a "old timers" club where old greats are honored.  A fun, insanely talented, flawed and immature Pablo Sandoval made things a tad ackward going forward.  And for what? 

Sabean is definitely plain spoken.  But he's also said some extremely nice things about Sandoval over the years.   Recently on Tolbert and Ratto he implied David Ortiz 'recruitment' was a end around with tampering.  It was definitely a pretty public recruitment, aided by the Boston sportswriters dropping hints all over the place.  All I can say to that... be careful what you wish for. 

The Giants offered up the same deal.  That deal is most likely going to be one of the worst contracts in baseball, maybe as soon as this year. 

I'll try to hang onto the fond memories of Pablo - coming up and raking in 2008 was a breath of fresh air after miserable times.  But I also remember the frustrations, which boiled over in 2013.  This latest news shows yet again that he's a man-child, and the chances of him reaching his enormous potential are fading fast.  You have to have a tremendous work ethic.  Have fun partying with Hanley Ramirez.  And good riddance. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Roster Battles Loom

As every hard core Gigante fan worth her salt knows... Most of the roster is set.  As is their style, the Giants have a couple of farmhands trying to move up, a couple of journeyed minor league invites trying to move in, and so it goes...

The outfield: Hunter Pence, he who has paid off in trade as well as free agent signings (flags fly forever) will cover RF and the speeches.  Angel Pagan will attempt to stay healthy, anchor CF.  Nori Aoki will point his bat forward, and be the LF.  Gregor Blanco, he of the sweet gliding D, blazing speed with occasional poor baserunning decisions and underrated bat will be the 4th OF.  At least until Pagan gets hurt.

So the 5th OF is going to be... Travis Ishikawa?  Juan Perez?  Justin Maxwell?  Gary Brown?

Blanco will most likely get a lot of time being a spot starter as well as a defensive replacement for Aoki.  Perez has the best glove by far.  Maxwell has the righty bat and OF experience.  Ishi has the lefty bat and the ability to play a slick 1B.  Brown is sitting in the back of the depth chart, and that is the harsh reality of the majors.

The infield: Brandon Belt is in the best shape of his life, and Sabean has declared they are expecting big things.  What will happen this year?  Joe Panik will need to prove out against skeptics in his sophomore campaign.  Brandon Crawford will continue to fight that slow march towards a 265/340/420 slash line.  He gets hot, then he goes cold.  Underrated.  And over at 3B Casey McG will attempt to replace the Panda.

The backup IFs are going to be... Joaquin Arias?  Ehire Adrianza?  Brandon Hicks?  Matt Duffy?  Travis Ishikawa?  Adam Duvall?

The big thing with a couple of these players is options.  Adrianza does not have any.  Duffy does.  Perez does.  Ishikawa and Arias are on major league deals.  Maxwell is not.

Sometimes injuries have a way of  clarifying these things.  The Giants are following their tried and true formula - spring training counts a ton for those involved with the roster battle.

Catching is a bit more simple.  All world Buster Posey, the incumbent kid Andrew Susac and the recently recovered Hector Sanchez.  I have to think they will take it easy with Sanchez.

Starters: apparently the Giants have some starters: Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong.  Yusmeiro Petit.  7 dudes for 5 spots.  There might be a DL stint for Huddy, or maybe Vogey and Petit both bump somebody from the pen, where the position battle is going to happen.

Core 4 of Casilla, Romo, Affeldt and Lopez.  Joined by some combo of Jean Machi, George Kontos and Hunter Strickland.  Don't sleep on the following arms though: Steven Okert, Cody Hall, Derek Law and Ray Black.  As well as Erik Cordier.  The rub for the Giants is that Kontos, Machi and Cordier are out of options.  This creates a roster crunch, and teams will look to poach.

And that might be one of the factors reducing Adrianza and Kontos trade value.  Its hard to get equal value when the alternative is giving away on a first come first serve basis.

And if you want some more grist for the "they don't respect us" mill... it keeps on coming: here's Keri on Grantland: the Cubs?  Come on.  I predict this is the year the Rays completely crater.  Ranking the Rays ahead of the Giants, which happens extremely frequently in all aspects of the game, is absolutely asinine at this point in time.

I don't think many pundits have really looked at Pablo Sandoval's day in day out production the past 3 years.  The Giants do not have a mountain to replace.  They have a little hill, smaller than Camelback.  My prediction: McG will do a decent job, but they might have to dip to other waters.  Cough: Duffy.  The pen?  The Giants always have some underperforming part of the pen, then they go get somebody like Machi.  Building a pen on the fly is pretty easy when you have battle tested veterans anchoring.  Its a huge, and hugely underrated, strength of the club.

If you are looking for a weakness, the Giants yet again depend on Angel Pagan to anchor CF.  If he goes down, the scramble begins again.  Aoki is the latest plan, last years being Michael Morse, the year before the Andres Torres/Blanco platoon.  LF has been in flux for a long time.  Its also the Greybeards lowest priority.  They will mix match power and fielding, and they've won 3 in 5 with the OF being kind of a patchwork quilt.  Hunter Pence gives them a big huge anchor.  Hopefully Pagan can return to form.

The other weakness might be too many lefty bats: Belt, Panik, Crawford, Aoki, Blanco.  I think that's the big draw for Maxwell.  He has a decent shot to make the club as righty power.

And finally, the patchwork "grit and ducktape" rotation - don't underestimate those vets, but somebody will get hurt.  So they have some extras, and they also have Blach, Blackburn and Crick... Its not the sexiest rotation, but there is a good defense behind them, and they will red ass their way through to the trade deadline.

Ehire Adrianza had a great VWL.  He has struggled with staying on the field, hamstrings mainly, and he hasn't hit in the majors.  I think his bat is suspect but slick fielders are hard to find.  Its going to be very hard to let him go right away methinks.  I think Matt Duffy is perfectly adequate at SS/3B even if his natural position might be 2B long term.  I'd rather have Duffy for the very simple reason that he can hit major league pitching.  I do see the argument for Adrianza, and there is a reason he's been in the Gigante organization forever and a day.  (Seriously, go look up prospect lists for the last 7 years...)

Cold hard fact: Giants don't have many roster positions open.  That's the problem with spending a lot of time stacking depth in the minors.  You're not utilizing your resources.  I expect the Cubs to be cratering as usual in July, and they'll do some more sell offs to gather more prospects.  That's a losing strategy.  Stick with the winners.  Go Greybeards!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Our Heroes Who Slot In

Sometimes you gotta change it up a bit.  I'm home with my eldest boy today after a cracked molar operation for him, with my dental issues I was very thankful for our dentist taking a long careful time getting it fixed up, she watched for that nerve like a hawk.  What are we doing?  Watching the 2012 film.  That's what's up.

So we were sitting in the dentist's office, he starts asking me who scored the winning run.  Who drove him in?  What was the sequence?  I remember when I was young, I took great pride on remembering these things.  For kids, its important.  As you age, some things get a bit murky.  But I managed to dust it off.  Ryan Theriot singled.  Crawford bunted him over.  Pagan struck out.  Scutaro went oppo field.  Theriot scored.

That got me thinking... The Giants have these heroes who come almost out of nowhere, contribute hugely in key moments, and then they depart. 

The ultimate winning run in each world series.  While this might not matter for us hard hearted analytic types, for 7 year old boys dreaming of playing, its all that matters at times: 

2010: Edgar Renteria homers, Cody Ross and Juan Uribe score.  Only Ross was back the next year.
2012: Marco Scutaro singles in Ryan Theriot.  Scutaro was back, with a hurt back and a mallet finger to boot.
2014: Michael Morse singles, Sandoval scores, Pence to 2nd.  Morse has departed, as has long time Gigante Sandoval. 

What does this add up to?  A collection of players that are worth more than what their stats might show?  Nothing much?  There are a few players there who were signed for depth, and they provided some excellent play in the French Vanilla.  Especially Ryan Theriot - who did exactly what I said he would when he was signed: provide a scrappy at bat in a key moment. 

Keep your boys dreaming!  Moments count huge in baseball.