Monday, May 2, 2016

One Month Check In With The Farm

Sorry no posting.  Home improvement projects and 2 kids playing baseball takes up all the free time.  I did get to go see Jake Peavy shut down the Marlins live, that was some fun stuff.  Unfortunately for the Gints, Peavy has been flat out horrid every other appearance of the year...

Mac Williamson seems like a good place to start, he just earned his 2nd promotion of the year after going back to Sacto and throwing down a 355/382/629 slash line with 4BB/10K/4HR/5 2B in 68 PAs.  Hopefully Mac gets some starts with Pagan tweaking a hammy, we'll see.  Pinch hitting is a tough rough business.

Williamson currently has the best OPS in the system, but he's joined by San Jose's Chris Shaw, who has got on track big time.  Shaw has a 359/420/590 slash line, you could temper that with "college guy in the California" but you can also spit some seeds and mutter "That dog'll hunt".  7BB/18K/3HR/9 2B in 88 PAs.  Shaw has some fearsome power, and apparently has really responded to Greybeard demands of "use this training program to get into shape"...

The Double-Ds!  Augusta has a bunch of hyped rookies yoots, but Dylan Davis and Dillon Dobson are the guys who are raking down in the Sally.  Dobson has a 297/353/571 slash with a system-tied-high of 6 HRs, Davis has a 308/409/590 slash with 4 HRs.  Davis is walking a lot more and striking out less than Dobson.  Both come with the huge caveat that they are 22 years young, and its low-A ball.

The Strikeout guys.  Jarrett Parker just had a 3 HR breakout, but he also has a system high 31 Ks in 86 PAs, one reason his BA is .203.  Manuel Geraldo is struggling as well, 28 Ks to a .176 BA.  My guy Ronnie Jebavy is continuing to be contact challenged, not a good sign, 27 Ks in 89 PAs and a .200 BA.  Hak-Ju Lee is striking out a lot but has a .308 BA.  27 Ks in 88 PAs, I'm not bothering to look up his BABIP but I bet its pretty high.  Dobson, Beltre, Lucius Fox, Fargas, Duggar and Ricky O round out the top 10 in Ks.  Are many of these guys working counts?  The BB top 10 is: Duggar, Davis, Fox, CJ Hinojosa, Gorkys Hernandez, Parker, Ricky O, Dobson, Fargas and Slater.  (Hak-Ju is 11th).

Los Gigantes aren't a walk first org. 

The biggest surprise so far is CJ Hinojosa.  He is putting up mad slash lines, 373/460/533 whil playing shortstop in SJ.  12BB/13K in 87 PAs, you have to like the small K rate and the even K/BB to go with high BA.  Very nice start for him, and the 2015 draftees are looking strong.

Biggest crash for me is Jebavy because I have high expectations for him. 

A peak at the Augusta Yoots slashes sorted by BA:
Tyler Brown 269/355/308
Jalen Miller 247/264/309
Gustavo Cabrera 227/261/318
Lucius Fox 218/358/345
Kelvin Beltre 208/269/347
Manuel Geraldo 176/222/206
Jean Angomas 203/271/281

Angomas and Brown are 21, Cabrera is 20, Miller/Beltre/Geraldo are 19 and Fox is 18.  Miller has played 2B, Fox SS and Beltre 3B with Geraldo and Brown filling in here and there.  Brown hasn't played much yet. 

Hard to tell with less than 100 PAs, I was expecting all these guys to struggle so I'm not surprised.

The Blue Chip: Christian Arroyo is hitting 284/333/370 in Richmond.  Quick!  Look up Crawford, Panik and Duffy's #s!

The Sleeper: Good old Rando Moreno is hitting 293/338/373 in Richmond.  Hey, thosa Christian Arroyo type numbers!  They've been splitting time at short and 2B, with Arroyo also trying out 3B (but no Outfield yet!)

Not to be a downer, but which 3B prospect will emerge?
Ryder Jones (20 games at third): 267/276/372.  I'm not walked obsessed for sure, but I do expect a lil bases on balling on occasion.  That dog won't hunt!
Jose Vizcaino Jr (14 games) 260/316/342
Jonah Arenado (splitting time between 3B/1B) 243/260/371
Beltre is playing in Augusta, recently promoted Conor G was playing in Sacto.

Giants appear to have a serious 1B prospect, and a myriad of middle infielders.  Catcher? Aramis Garcia is hitting 259/344/333 and Matt Winn is hitting 235/288/368 and just got moved back to Augusta.  Not sure what the Greybeards thinking is on this one.

Pitching?  The Giants don't develop pitching anymore, don't worry about it, just go look at next years FAs.

Phil!  Bickford! 33 Ks, 21 IP, 14 Hs, 4 BBs, somehow he's let in 8 runs on that (2 were cashed by his pen for sure after he opened with a perfect game that went sideways in the 5th).  K/BB of 8.25... well... that'll do just fine.  Can he build up endurance and then get to stepping to SJ?  Bueller?

Joan Gregorio.  The oft injured stringbean has a 0.773 WHIP fueled by a 4.9 H/9 and 5 BBs to 27 Ks over 22 IP. 

Tyler Cyr is the only reliever putting up gigantic K counting stats.  23 in 17 IP, he's been a workhorse in Augusta. 

Tyler Beede has good counting stats in Richmond, 4.00 K/BB, but has a elevated ERA at 4.71.  21 IP, 5 BBs, that's the nice part.  His H/9 is at 12.4 however...

Its low-A ball and a college arm, but maybe the biggest surprise of all has been Grant Watson, putting up a 0.92 ERA so far in 20 IP, 19 Ks to one lonely BB, 10 Hits and 19 Ks.  That's some good stuff coming out of UCLA. 

Other impressive K/BBs: Andrew Suarez, Michael Santos, Ryan Koziol, (Bickford), Dan Slania, (Gregorio), Jose Reyes, Cory Taylor, (Beede), Conor Kaden, Ryan Halstead and Jordan Johnson.

Jordan Johnson has been more impressive than Chase.  4 starts, 24 IP (3rd best in system), 2.62 ERA, 5.6 H/9, 5BBs and 19 Ks. 

Overall some very nice starts.  On the relief front Ray Black, Jake Smith, Caleb Smith and Matt Pope are putting up big K/9 ratios.  On the other hand, Blackburn and Stratton have been very hittable in the PCL early, Stratton has given up 37 hits in 27 IP, Blackburn has given up 30 in 22IP.  Matt Gage has been hittable in the Eastern, 25 in 20IP.  When you look over at Hs and then glance at ERAs, the numbers usually mesh up. 

Giants are just getting warmed up, it'll be interesting to check in next month, see who has leveled out, who has made some adjustments, see who gets promoted.  Overall, nice system grinding away.  Looks like there is going to be some need for bullpen arms for sure.

And how about that Tim Lincecum showcase coming?  If he's throwing 92-93 I don't see how the Giants don't go sign him up.  Exciting stuff.

Monday, April 11, 2016

My 25 Man Gigante Ninos Roster

I get asked for my top 10 for the Giants once in a while.  I don't think I have much to really add to the many top 10 discussions, but I do want to put some official thoughts down on the guys I think have the best chances to make the majors, and why.  So here goes: A roster is generally 25 guys, give or take. So here is my picks at each position to grind through the minors and do some damage.  You can't like everybody, but you sure want everybody to succeed. 

Lets take a quick overview of the system.  Last year there were 137 pitchers taking the bump, but this includes major league guys on rehab.  There were 138 hitters, and this also included rehap.   According to my rushed research, of those 137 pitchers, 129 actually took at least one plate appearance.  48 of these pitchers/hitters had some sort of major league appearance at some point.  So how many prospectos are there?  At any given time there are roughly 225 players toiling away in the minors for Los Gigantes.  That's 7 full teams with some taxi squad hi-jinx.

The 7 levels of ball: Dominican Summer League rookie ball, Arizona League rookie ball, Northwest League short-season ball (A-), South Atlantic League A-ball, California League High-A ball, Eastern League AA ball and Pacific Coast League AAA ball. 

Catchers (2 allowed): Aramis Garcia and Matt Winn.  21 yoots donned the tools of ignorance at least 20 times for the various affiliates last year.  Another half dozen took some reps here and there.  The Greybeards love their VZ catchers, and they love to spend high draft capital on catchers.  Its one of the reasons they are a slow steady conservative system because nobody gets excited about catchers.  Since 2007 they've taken Jackson Williams, Buster Posey, Tommy Joseph, Joe Staley, Dan Burkhart, Andrew Susac, Trevor Brown, Ty Ross, Aramis Garcia, Matt Winn and Cody Brickhouse early.  They also paid John Riley 3rd round money as an overslot draft pick.

Aramis Garcia - the Blue Chip - is in SJ now, he slashed 264/342/431 while learning the position across 2 levels.  He caught fire after scuffling and started throwing bombs all over.  He finished with 15 HRs in 447 PAs (14th most PAs in the system and 4th most HRs).  He has a line drive swing and a rep as an offense first catcher when he was drafted.  I'd see him as another type of chip and I excpect him to zoom, he is right at the cusp of the top 10 catchers in the entire minors, some California league home cooking might boost the breakout.

Matt Winn - the sleeper - when the Giants start promoting guys, pay attention!  Winn has a glove first rep but I think he's going to hit.  He is 23 years young, so he will not get attention from youth obsessed prospect writers.  His senior year at VMI he slashed 304/391/586 with 14 HRs.  Sure you can scuff at the Southern conference but those are nice numbers.  Winn gets promoted all the way to Richmond, I was still marveling that he got bumped to Augusta from rookie ball last year.  The Greybeards like this guy a lot.

1B (1 allowed): Blah, 1B is no fun.  The Giants rarely draft high for 1B, so we have to go look at Chris Shaw.  He is hands down the best 1B prospect and lets look at John Barr's drafting style: he goes after guys with top tools who have been beat up.  You see this again and again, Brandon Crawford dropping to the 4th round on lackluster stats, Andrew Susac dropping for Hammate Bone injury.  In fact, that was Shaw's deal.  He has pretty much consensus top power in the 2015 draft.  He definitely showed it in his S/S debut: 287/360/551 with 12 HRs in 200 PAs.  His glove and athleticism are an open question at this point, we'll see what the defensive wizard whisperers can dream up.  Shaw could sneak into top 10 all of the minors for 1B pretty easily.  The Giants under Barr have taken shot after shot at "light tower power".  If these guys had contact skills they would have gone in the first ten of the draft.  You take your chance when you can...

2B/SS/3B (5-6 allowed)... Ah, the middle infield.  The Giants definitely go the traditional route of drafting up the middle talent.  They tend to focus on guys the consensus says won't stick at SS and they happily take that hit to the bank.  And you really can't complain about Duffy, Crawford and Panik, all former and current SS's.  As everybody knows, the best athletes play SS in little league, HS, college, etc.  The Giants have a philosophy of looking at what a player CAN do, not what he can't do.  They also laser focus on the ability to hit.  There aren't a lot of crazy athletes in the Gints system, although they do take the chance on occasion (ahem, Gary Brown).

Christian Arroyo, Lucius Fox, Jalen Miller.  Boring?  Predictable?  Hey, lots of dollahz invested in those 3 yoots.  I'm going to unfortunately be more predictable and continue with CJ Hinojosa and Jose Vizcaino, Jr.  Both lads tore up the NWL alongside Shaw, and they are both in SJ now.  And I'll close with Trevor Brown, who is playing SS in Augusta alongside Fox and Miller.  I'd love to add Kelvin Beltre who appears to have a pretty good eye and hit tool but I want to see him stay healthy for a while first.  So that's my six middle infielders who might switch to 3B or the corner OF to boot.  And of course with the speed of Fox and Miller... maybe CF.

OF (4 allowed): Mac Williamson, Hunter Cole, Gustavo Cabrera and... drum roll... Ronnie Jebavy.  Now Austin Slater might be a nice pick instead of Cole, but I like Cole, liked him in college before the Greybeards called his name.  He hits for more power than Slater.  Both are searching for a position, Greybeards have them in the OF this year in Richmond.  And Jebavy is getting less hype than toolsy Steven Duggar (and got out hit for avg as well) but I think Jebavy is going to surprise.  Plus he's the one getting CF reps in SJ with a complete OF of CFs (Sabean's dream scenario of course).  Gustavo should be joining the lineup in Augusta in a bit, and that is a very exciting development.  Williamson just needs to stay consistent in Sacto and wack some HRs, he is likely to be first emergency call up. 

So that's my hitters, no real surprises.  Garcia, Winn, Shaw, Arroyo, Fox, Miller, Hinojosa, Vizcaino Jr, Trevor Brown, Williamson, Cole, Cabrera and Jebavy.  13 hitters.

So unlike the real Giants, I went hitter heavy.  Lets see about pitchers.

Starters (5 allowed, possibly a spot starter): Phil Bickford.  Bickford had a splendid debut in the Sally, striking out 10 and carrying a perfect game 4 2/3 before tiring.  I think he'll be in Richmond before the end of the year and way zoomed up lists.  Clayton Blackburn.  Blackburn should take over for Jake Peavy before too long.  We'll see how his velocity holds up against major league hitters.  I just think he can pitch, and he'd done it everywhere.  Sort of like Joe Panik, not spectacular, but he gets up and just belongs, and then the power starts filling in... Tyler Beede.  The Giants letting him unleash 4-seamers with the velocity bump is an interesting look.  We'll see what happens, its all about control with Beede because he's blue chip.  Jordan Johnson.  Not a sleeper anymore, you have to love the K's and the K/BB.  Big injury question but I'd take him over Chase Johnson.  Big test this year in the California league.    Andrew Suarez.  Gotta have some lefties here, and although he's older and a injury risk, he's also polished, and could add a tic of velocity.  Look out if he does, he won't take much seasoning.  And the sleeper lefty/spot starter is none other than Matt Gage, he might not have the best body ala Blackburn, but he can pitch.  That is a little left field but I just like his confidence and his ratios.

So starters are Bickford, Blackburn, Beede, Jordan Johnson, Suarez and Gage.  Leaving off Sam Coonrod is most likely a mistake, but this is a roster, yo!  You have to make choices.

Pen: Gotta go with the heat.  Ray Black, Rodolfo Martinez.  Derek Law.  And lets throw in some control with Jake Smith.  And more heat, lets give a "I ain't dead yet" shout out to Kyle Crick, who is back on the bump.  There are some really interesting young arms such as Caleb Smith and Cory Taylor and Tyler Cyr, so the last spot is really hard.  But I have to go with a lefty who is starting right now: DJ Snelten.  I'm tempted to say Tyler Rogers to alter the look of the pen, he has posted excellent K/BB ratios and is now in Richmond after getting a midseason promotion there last year.

The pen is Black, Martinez, Law, Smith, Crick and Snelten.  With the Giants big strength being pen arms you leave a fair amount of talent off the "roster".

Guys to watch: Is this the year Michael Santos puts it together?  Sandro Cabrera is a very intriguing name.  Kendry Melo as well.  Mac Marshall is a lefty that might be a mistake to leave off.  Having Matt Gage instead of Coonrod is silliness, I should change that.  But Coonrod is getting hyped way up prospect lists and while I thought that was a great pick, I don't know if I can see him zooming the way people are saying, I think he's going to take his knocks this year.  Crick had the worst qualified K/BB in the system last year.  Will he figure some things out?  At this point he's completely buried on prospect lists, I think he might make a rebound.

So those are the guys I like the best.  Its mainly an exercise in knowing who is who, what is going on in the system.  I do think Garcia and Bickford will zoom up lists, and I bet Beede and Shaw might as well.  You can see very clearly that this is a very good system, a sleeper system that has solid, solid fundamentals that just isn't "sexy" although Miller and Fox might change that perception, and don't sleep on Gustavo Cabrera as well.  There are a lot of big tools such as power, big fastballs.  So it should be a great year to see what's what with Los Gigantes Ninos.

Belt Wars Are Over: Giants Win

Great start to the season and the Giants pulled a little sneak with their oft discussed 1B Brandon Belt, locking him up for four additional years beyond his arbitration for a total of 6 years for 79MM.  So essentially the same deal as Brandon Crawford. 

Great deal for Belt, and a great deal for the Greybeards.  I couldn't see them committing "Freddy Freeman" moneys to their 1B, but I could see them going something close to Hunter Pence's deal.  Turns out it was a bit south of there.  Its still a big deal, the 4 years additional are 16MM a pop.  That is a significant commitment.

Belt has always generated a lot of in-fighting with Giants fans.  There are a couple of factions, the KNBR caller types who huff up about his strikeouts or lack of clutch hitting.  And then there is the saber crowd that loves his OBP profile.  I've always been snarky to both these factions, the cold hard fact is that Doug Mapson jumped up and down in the draft room until he got his guy.  Nobody and I mean nobody gave a crap about Belt until he busted out in the California league during 2010 and suddenly zoomed up prospect lists.

And from there it got pretty zany.  There were a lot of implications that the Giants didn't know what they had, that they wouldn't play Belt.  I can dig em up but if you're reading this you most likely have already read all those as well.  My response to that is "hell no".  In 2011 the Giants had to promote Belt due to a Cody Ross injury.  Aubrey Huff went back to the OF, it wasn't pretty.  Sabean was drawing the brakes on promotion, but Bruce Bochy wanted him in the lineup.  Belt had some rookie blues, and then he got injured on a HBP. 

The underrated part of Belt's game is his defense.  He was actually 2nd in GG voting last year as that award is finally becoming less of an entrenched "whoever had it last year" and "offensively based" award.  Belt is an amazing defensive 1B.  I'm quite certain the Giants know that, they quietly emphasize both sides of the ball without getting breathless saberdork articles or books written about their methods.  He has yet to truly break out, and yet his stats have been quite excellent.

Baseball Reference Link
2011: 225/306/412 103 OPS+
2012: 275/360/421 123 OPS+
2013: 289/360/481 139 OPS+
2014: 243/306/449 114 OPS+
2015: 280/356/478 129 OPS+

The 2011 and 2014 years are the outliers... and also the injury years.  I think the Giants are fairly confident they have a 280/360/470 guy on their hands with league best defense.  Could there be more in the tank though?  They have always pushed him to be more aggressive with his swings.  And that's been one of the "talking points" on the interwebz for these factions of Giants fans.  What is wrong with trying to improve your hitters?  The Giants preach a hit the ball first philosophy quite different than the A's or Rays.  And guess what?  Its paid off in spades in the past few years.  And it has NOT paid off for the A's or the Rays.  Give me your hackers, your three true outcomes, your contact guys.  Its a merry mix, and Brandon Belt is a good thing to have in the lineup.  The Giants are the ones with the correct philosophy, they are also the guys who have gone out and drafted the best infield in baseball, on offense and on defense.  Great time to be a Giants fan, big congrats to Brandon Belt on the contract (I can just see him getting talked down from Freeman money and then rebounding with "well make it 4MM more than Craw so I can have bragging rights") and please don't forget my oft repeated mantra: All credit to Doug Mapson.  None to prospect writers and internet fans who think they unlocked the secret to baseball with the OBP stat.  Viva Los Gigantes.  Great job Greybeards.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Assignments Ho!

Favorite time of the year to see what's what in Gigante land, minors version.  4 full squad rosters.

First off, the following have been released: RHP Eury Sanchez, personal favorite LHP Jack Snodgrass, RHP Nathanael Santiago, OF Shilo McCall, 2B Will Calloway, 1B Scott Price and a big one: 1B Brian Ragira.

The Giants also signed up RHP Dylan Manwaring (Yes, that Manwaring), who was released by the Braves.  He is a converted pitcher with low 90s velocity.

A couple quick hits on the released players: McCall was one of only a couple of youths drafted back in 2012.  Because his agent leaked some of the process at the time, we got a look at what the Giants were doing, as negotiations started in the 5th round.  The upshot of the whole thing is that young HS players can not work out just as well as the college ones the Giants favor more.  Contact was the main issue with McCall, he slashed 221/318/378 and couldn't get out of short season S/K ball.  206 Ks in 717 PAs.  Professional baseball is hard as hell.

Brian Ragira couldn't get past High-A San Jose.  He has 295 Ks in 1182 PAs, a slash of 260/330/416.  The Giants invested big on him in 2013, drafting him out of Stanford in the 4th round.  The dreaded Stanford swing syndrome?  Not hitting for enough power?  He did hit 33 HRs including 20 in 2014, but he regressed during a repeat of SJ in 2015.  I expect another team will give him a shot soon.

OK, so how about those August Greenjackets?  The big story here is its chock full of Yoots.  That doesn't happen a lot in Gigante land, so its time to get excited big time.  The middle infield is going to be Lucius Fox at short and Jalen Miller at 2B.  Welp, that's pretty much a mic drop right there, but there's more: CF will be Gustavo Cabrera.  Where will sleeper Tyler Brown play?  He hit the hell out of the ball in rookie ball (something the more hyped and larger drafted Miller did not).   You also have oft injured Kelvin Beltre, who might be a huge follow.  So this is a very talented team.

You also have Skyler Ewing repeating low-A, will he have a chip on his shoulder?  Dillon Dobson and Manuel Geraldo will round out the infield.  The rest of the OF is Seth Harrison (another chip guy?) as well as Jean Angomas, Dylan Davis (3rd rounder in 2014, he needs to move or he's the next Ragira type) and 28th round pick Ashford Fulmer from 2015.  Catchers are Matt Pare, Zack Bowers and Adam Sonabend.  That's a lot of undrafted catchers there to root for!

Pitching staff is equally exciting though, and this is why the Augusta team is such a big follow: Phil Bickford makes his full season debut, let's see what he can do.  Logan Webb gets the bump, and lefty Mac Marshall does as well.  That's a lot of young arms that were drafted high.  There are two other lefties besides Marshall: flamethrowing local boy Caleb Smith and 16th rounder from 2015 out of UCLA Grant Watson.  Heath Slatton has put up excellent numbers, he's a big follow for me.  You also have string bean Michael Santos, who battled injuries last year.  Big boy Cory Taylor is listed at 255, Ryan Koziol is listed at 165 is low man, Connor Kaden out of Wake gets his third season in Augusta.  Jake McCasland shared an agent with McCall, he gets a shot here.  Matthew Pope, Michael Connolly, Ryan Halstead and Tyler Cyr are the other righties.  Tyler Cyr might be the staff wildman, we'll see how he does on his BB/9 rates.

Overall that is an impressive mixture of prospectos, with Bickford, Fox, Santos, Miller, Cabrera and Webb all young, talented and highly thought of.  Definitely going to be fun to watch this team.

SJ roster looks pretty legit as well.  The Giants continue to stock up CFs, lets see who plays the position!  Jebavy is my pick, but you have Duggar (who had a great spring), Fargas as well as Junior Arias and Cristian Polino.  They should be very superior defensively.  The infield is repeat Brandon Bednar (who needs to move), and then 3 big names from 2015 draft who rocked short season S/K: Chris Shaw, Jose Vizcaino Jr and CJ Hinojosa.  These 3 guys are leapfrogging and knocking other guys out of the box.  Well... baseball is a competitive sport.  Richard Rodriguez and Jonah Arenado round out the infield.  But mainly its a watch the 1B Shaw, SS Hinojosa (advanced with little competition but he hit quite well) and 3B Vizcaino.

Catchers: Aramis Garcia, Ty Ross and Jared Deacon.  That's a lot of good stuff right there, Ross is superior defensively, Garcia is one of the biggest zoom candidates and Deacon is a great org guy drafted late.

Pitchers: Lefties are the big story for me, looking at Andrew Suarez and DJ Snelten especially.  Suarez might just zoom, you watch that guy close.  Mark Reyes gets the bump from Augusta, and Carlos Diaz makes it 4.  The righties are Sam Coonrod, who is zooming up prospect lists, and everybody's favorite sleeper Jordan Johnson who is no longer a sleeper, but has to stay healthy all year.  The flamethrower reliever to watch is Rodolfo Martinez, and Reyes Moronta keeps pace with Rodolpho so you got two RMs.  Org guy Jason Forjet comes along, and Martin Agosta looks to gain the title of Mayor of San Jose at this point.  Pat Young might be a pen arm long term, 13th rounder out of Villanova, he gets the promotion back to SJ.  Jeff Soptic is the token wild man, and Dusten Knight and Jose Reyes round it out.

Coonrod is the big ticket to watch, and I really like Jebavy and the rest of that 2015 draft class.  They should put up some big offensive numbers, just remember most are college guys in the California league so you have to temper through that lens.

Richmond ho!  The Flying Squirrels roster looks quite interesting as well.  Hey, Mike Kickham is back in black!  You have Chase Johnson and Joan Gregorio.  You have another well thought of lefty A Mejia starting for a full season after a suspension last year.  I like lefty Matt Gage as a sweet sleeper type.  You have your token wild man Kyle Crick, still might have the best fastball in the entire org... if he can locate.  Ian Gardeck has TJ now, Jake Smith gets the bump as he grinds along, check out those sweeet K/BB ratios.  And speaking of heat... Ray Black ends up in Richmond.  So there are some big fastballs.  Tyler Beede gets to start clean, he wore down near the end of the season but added more weight.  Pedro Rodriguez, Nestor Molina, Tyler Mizenko and Jose Casilla round out the crew.

Catcher is the big story, huge follow now is Matt Winn.  Apparently a favorite of Sabey Sabes, I think he might be able to hit while having a great glove.  Org guy Zambrano is still back as well.  The cool thing is Jeff Arnold is back from injury and ready to go again.  Love that dude, he's a glue guy who helps out younger pitchers.  Maybe this is the season Wild Stallion Crick settles down.

Big story of course is Christian Arroyo, who just hits the ball.  Will he end up in LF at the end of the year?  Stranger things have happened in Gigante land.  Ryder Jones tags along, and everybody's favorite zoom duo of Slater and Cole are listed as OFs, we'll see if they see time in the dirt as well.  Ricky Oropesa is the Mayor of Richmond, look out for grinder Rando Moreno, Myles Schroeder is the utility guy who continues to grind, and of course Angel Villalona is lurking around with his contact challenged light tower power.  Tyler Horan has some light tower power of his own, he gets the bump, lets see if he can bust out.  The vet OF signing is Carlos Moncrief as well as former Yankee Ali Castillo, because the Giants always have to tease with a couple minor league reclamations.

Sacto coming later!  Here's their roster.  The thing that stands out is its a mix of reclamation guys such as Hak-Ju Lee and Gorkys Hernandez, AAAA depth such as Chris Stratton and Clayton Blackburn (both of who might be more), and the power hitting duo of Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker.  With the addition of Andrew Susac, I have to say the Giants might have one of the most underrated loaded up AAA teams in the majors.  Lots of depth.

OF is old friends Ryan Lollis and Darren Ford as well as Williamson (my choice to go win LF later in the year and I'm not alone), Parker and Hernandez (who had a great spring and is the only true CF).

The infield is old friends Conor G and Grant Green not the novelist, Lee, Ramiro Pena, Juan Ciriaco and the lone true farmhand/young one Mitch Delfino.  Delfino had a rough Eastern, but he gets the bump anyways.  There is nothing spectacular about this infield, its sort of working class, but there is some major league/high minors experience there and that's what the Giants like to do.  And who can really argue with that?

Catching is solid with Susac, George Kotteras and Miquel Olivo.  That's a lot of major league experience there.

Pitching staff is also interesting, you have Blackburn and Stratton as the guys who have advanced through.  I think Blackburn will take over for Peavy by mid-season, Stratton has never been very impressive but he sure looked good in ST this year.   Lefties Ty Blach and Matt Lujan  as well as flamethrower Braulio Lara and grinder/sleeper Phil McCormick and post-hype sleeper Steven Okert.  That's a lot of lefties!  Jake Dunning and Derek Law might be the first call ups in the event of injury.  Or will it be scrap heap find Mike Broadway?  The Giants do a great job of having depth, and the bullpen depth is definitely there.  You also have Albert Suarez, Ricky Romano (another reclamation and another lefty), Vin Mazarro to really troll the A's, and workhorse Austin Fleet who pitches everywhere and often for Los Gigantes.

Overall I think the system is in better shape than its been in several years.  There are some athletic yoots who could be exciting, there are a lot of guys who can hit, there are a couple of power projects, there is high minors depth, there is a lot of depth for the pen, and there are interesting starting arms. 

The Giants have invested big at Shortstop with Arroyo and Fox, they also invested big in SP with Stratton, Beede and Bickford.  They take their shots at power bats and athletic can't quite hit guys as well.  Yes, it leans heavily college, but the more I watch everything play out the more I'm totally comfortable with that strategy. 

It would be nice to have a starting pitcher victory.  I wouldn't be shocked at all to see Christian Arroyo leapfrog everybody and start playing LF at 2nd and King.  Love Mac Williamson, but Arroyo is the real deal on the contact side, he is going to hit. 

And that's the rub - the Giants really value contact rate and the ability to hit for average.  I think its served them very well.  This current offense on the big squad... Its my absolute favorite since 2000 when the infield was Snow, Kent, Richie A and Billy M.  With Barry and Ellis Burks.  That was a great squad.  I think this one is better, much better defensively and will put up some serious numbers. 

Going to be a great year watching the big club and all the Lil' Gigantes! 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Dodgers TV Continues To Disaster - Team Might Not Be Far Behind

Here are a couple more articles on the Dodgers TV Debacle... Fangraphs puts their 2 cents down - not written by Wendy Thrum who used to do a lot of their business side stuff.  Their conclusion of "a greedy cable company got greedy" is half right... The team has always wanted every game on pay tv, and they spurned a less crazy offer from Fox that still would have given them a ton of cable moneys.

Jeff Passan has a take on it as well, his conclusion that the free market is at work - albeit in controlled manner - and Directv just doesn't have the incentive to budge.  Why?  Well... this Fresno Bee article has a couple great nuggets: first, Directv is still smarting over having to pick up the Laker channel, which they feel they massively overpaid for.  Second, there is a second (unreported on Fangraphs) multi year proposal now, locking in for a few years the rate before it... escalates again.

My point has always been look to the elevator clauses, because its not only the 2nd most expensive channel in our fair nation (after ESPN) during initial prices, the price escalation was designed to take it above ESPN over a number of years.  Why this doesn't get reported much... I don't know.  The Time Warner execs who created this deal... grossly overestimated.

So the question is... what are the ramifications of a deal over 25 years valued at 8.3 Biiiiillion dollarz?  Can that make a cable company go south?  What is the annual average on this?  332MM.  Is this the figure being paid out now to the Dodgers?  No, it is not.  They backloaded the deal.  Details are murky of course, but if Time Warner is losing 100MM a year through the first couple of years... its safe to say if things continue this route they're going to be losing quite a lot more later on.  Is it enough for them to pull the plug on the payments and then everybody lawyers up?  That's the question!

All articles point out that MLB advanced media has a ton of streaming tech, they might be in the absolute sweet spot of new programming on the web, not just for the boring old baseball.  But they don't want to kill this golden goose of cable subscribers being forced to throw down monthly fees. 

I do think the tipping point has arrived.  I've said this a few times, but $100 a month is just too much for the average American family.  Its too much for the "get off my lawn" crowd and its too much for millenials who have no interest in cable tv in the first place.  As cord cutting gets easier to stomach (and live sports is the golden goose - streaming platforms are the wave of the future - either a la carte or bundled by sport) there will be a title wave of cancellations.

So tv providers hang desperately to their internet connection gateways and bundle, bundle, bundle.

How bout them bums on the field?  Lots of knick ups.  Kendrick won't be available opening day.  Ethier (who had a good platoon protected season last year) is out for a while.  Seager/Puig/Turner/Grandal are all going to make opening day but have injuries that might bite.  The starting rotation is a mess, but Ryu might start batting practice soon.  There is a lot of hype about the Dodgers supposed depth, I don't really see it as such a strength.  Possibly the most worrisome of all is Scott Kazmir's reduced velocity, which is getting a slight shrug from pundits who are basically predicting a 4th NL West crown.

I predict the Dodgers fall and fall hard.  I don't think they have the starting pitching, I think their offense is severely reduced, I think their heralded rookies and almost rookies (Seager and Pederson) won't be all that and I think the pen isn't nearly as strong as some think.  We'll see how it all works out, but I think this is a weakened team, by a GM who likes to pick around the edges, in injury laden pools of talent looking for a miracle.  With all this rotten cable moneys?  Yowza!

It was reported last year that the contract would cost Time Warner over 1Billion dollars in losses for the deal over its lifetime.  If they've already coughed up 200MM in the first two years I have to assume that figure is completely wrong.  I'd put it conservatively at half of the deal, and halfway through (10 years from now) when they are supposed to be paying the Dodgers 350-400MM a year and looking at horrid red ink, things will get tight.  Again, these are the details that are murky and not publicly available.  But we can make some guesses.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spring Training Impresses - Giants Assign Some Dudes

Chris Stratton has looked like a different pitcher than the one who has grinded through the levels this spring.  He got a dent in his ERA after a couple of walks got cashed but he has put up some of the cleanest innings of any Gigante pitcher.  There isn't a prospect hound around that hasn't been frustrated or dismissive of Stratton.  This is a pretty big development.  He looks like a first round talent again. 

Hunter Pence is hitting bombs.  Pence and Matt Cain are healthy and good, the Giants are going.  Simple as that.  This is a huge development as well, I'm sure Pence wants to go iron man, his early small injuries were making fans a tad nervous.  Will Cain be stretched out enough to start?  It appears that is the way its going.  Clayton Blackburn is going to AAA, but Bochy made noise that he wasn't going until he felt good about Cain.

AAA guys like Stratton and Blackburn, as well as Ty Blach, and of course Chris Heston?  That's some serious depth.  Its not hyped the way the Doyers yoots are, but its pretty solid.  The Bums look like a mess to me. 

On that note: looks like Time Warner is lowering its sights... will it be enough?  LA times is reporting they are down 33% on asking.  But here's the rub - they are just trying to get their foot in the door...  The deal calls for huge elevator clauses to basically double the $4.90 a month asking price within 5 years.  What of that part?  (You don't get to 8 Billion plus by standing still baby!).  I suspect Directv will continue to pay lip service to wanting a la carte offering to their viewers, not putting it in the package.

Fact is the cable and sat TV companies are under siege.  Want to know why?  I have aunties in their 60s and 70s who know how to use Hulu.  Why does that matter?  Because a ton of Americans don't want sports coverage, and when bills are sitting out there at $100 plus a month versus a $10 or $20 monthly for using the internet on a smart tv... eventually the other shoe is going to drop.  The advent of Sling TV, which is basically a slimmed down 15-20 channel on the interwebz - including ESPN! - is another sign of compromise. 

You add in the fact that cable/sat tv menus and dvrs have clunky interfaces and nobody really wants to watch programming with ads... It'll get interesting.  MLB is in a great place by the way, they invested hugely in streaming technology and have a great platform to sell.  MLB.tv is a great product, one that for me as a primarily baseball fan makes it easy to cord cut.  As I have soccer crazy family as well... this sling tv option looks quite promising. 

One more little secret: Digital tv antanees will get you over the air broadcasts that are better quality than cable/sat.  Couple that with netflix and amazon prime, from my view the cable/sat guys are dinasaurs who's only leverage is the internet connection to your home.  So they are bundling like crazy hoping to keep that monthly up.

Back to Los Gigantes!  Minor moves: we have...
Released: RHP Robert Ramer, RHP Nick Vander Tuig, LHP Jarret Leverett, C Keiber Rivas, SS Hector Mercedes, OF Mark Nelson

Such tough luck for Vander Tuig, with TJ.
Going to Sacto: Derek Law, Chris Stratton
Going to Richmond: RHP Ray Black, RHP Kyle Crick, RHP Ian Gardeck, RHP Joan Gregorio, RHP Jake Smith, LHP Adalberto Mejia

Not that surprised about Crick, mildly surprised about Black, and Mejia... Well, I'd say that is a "how the Giants view him" move.  I've never been high on him, that looks very sideways to me.  Gardeck has the TJ to deal with, Jake Smith is grinding up the promotion ladder and how is Gregorio coming along?  He's sort of an Ehire Adrianza of pitchers at this point to me.  Not putting things together despite some raw athleticism and skills.
 
It was pretty crazy to watch the Cuba-Rays game.  Raul Castro, that sweet old man sitting next to Obama, spent most of the 60s and 70s putting bullets in peoples heads.  Over 2000 executions, he and Che Guevara would have contests.  I know something has to change, you have to move forward, and its exciting to open up Cuba... Cruise companies are salivating, everybody wants to get right back to the 1950s exploitation style.  It'll wipe out a lot of very interesting history, and it'll wipe it out quick.  I don't think I'll ever get there, to see the old American iron, the way it was... I'm quite sure there are a lot of mixed feelings down in Miami amongst the Cuban-Americans.  
 
Speaking of gentrification, this article really got to me.  San Francisco of my youth is gone.  Replaced by a bunch of entitled douchebags.   I only went to that park on occasion, I was closer to Mission Dolores and then the Presidio, but I know it pretty well.  Just a crying shame that a family lost a son.  
 
Denard Span is looking good, it appears his shoulders are OK, he's starting to hit stride.  Whether he will be a huge steal or a injury concern all year...  I guess Giants fans will watch with both thoughts.  Baggs comped him to Ray Ray Durham.  I could live with that... Wait!  I could live with the double digits HRs and some speed part, not the constantly injured part!
 
Getting close to opening day.  I'm predicting that they got with Parker as the 5th guy, and option Hernandez.  Why?  40 man issue.  Mac W will play every day in Sacto, at least until an OF injury.  On the IF?  Looks like Green is going down, so its really between Kelby and Adrianza.  I would go Kelby, I just can't get excited about Ehire, despite some hustle plays this spring.  And we have a backup catcher issue, Bochy noting that Susac is oft-injured, and Bochy is mad and not going to take it anymore.  Hey!  I said for a long time Crawford's biggest thing he needed to fix was being injury prone.  Susac is definitely injury prone.  All the talent in the world can't play if you're hurt.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Love Em When They Up

OGC doesn't write as much anymore, I can totally understand, life gets in the way, and after so much success you just get happy about things and don't really care as much.  Life is damn good - 3 rings, the best infield in baseball, all home grown, fun interesting players to root for. 

Love em when they're up is a nice look at one of the primary methods the Giants utilize: sticking to their guns with the opinions they form on players despite recent performance/ranking in the industry to go get sleeper players.  That's how most the infield was developed.

I like to put together a list of prospects, when I have the time it could go into the 40s-50s but mainly around 20 guys I think have an interesting enough profile that they might make hay in professional baseball.  That's one of the main reasons I have this blog, to just ramble on.  I read a lot, I sort through things, and its all strictly amateur and strictly for fun. 


The two players that I have found that I really liked that my favorite team drafted are Matt Duffy and Hunter Cole.  They are different players of course, but they share a late round draft pick, statistically inconsistent college careers, good results in the Cape Cod league with wooden bats and the ability to accept challenges the Greybeards hand out.  Will Cole join Duffy in the show?  Only the shadow knows.  But you have to respect a 3 level zoom.

Love em when they're down... It's always hard to keep a success running.  Brian Sabean has likened the Gints management philosophy to the New England Patriots - I think what he means is they like to look around the edges to find those pieces, they look for working class type players who do a few things well, possibly journeymen that can fit in in that place and time.  This isn't dissimilar to what the Raiders had going on in the 1970s actually.  We'll see how long it lasts, but the "plug and play" of finding the best guy you can find with the resources you have is readily apparent in all the different OFs and journeymen who have played on the various championships.

So while the Giants might overvalue proven experience, or perhaps overvalue college players, you also have to remember that those extra looks those extra 3 years can really show things.  Especially where they have been drafting in recent years, you don't get the prime choices for the best HS athletes/talents.  So you go in a different direction.  And the results are pretty damn good: fill in around your franchise player.  How about an entirely home grown infield, 3 of which never cracked a top 100?  That's a sweet, sweet, sleeper system.  John Barr has made some really nice picks, and its changed the face of the franchise.  The Giants used to be known for drafting pitchers almost exclusively.  Barr was hired specifically to change that.  I'd say he's done a great job at it.