Sunday, March 23, 2014

Plan B for Scutaro; Update on Sandoval

Not Justin Turner or Daniel Murphy, that's OK, we'll talk about that later...

 One thing I wanted the Giants to do over the offseason was to have a backup plan to what ailed them in 2013: a gimpy Marco Scutaro who couldn't field too hot and a obese Pablo Sandoval who couldn't field too hot.  The 2nd situation has been taken care of by the promise of mad free agent moneys but the first is sticking around, perculating.

To the Giants defense, its hard to have a front line player as a backup.  You can't just go sign a free agent and say "you'll get in there at 2B or 3B, sometime soon".  Further, there weren't a lot of options.  It appears that the Dodgers Alexander Guerrero, who I definitely wanted the Greybeards to kick tires on, isn't ready for prime time.  Maybe the Giants did kick tires, there are a lot of rumors that they are in on a bunch of the Cubans.

Speaking of Cubans, Jose Abreu appears to be a pretty legit bat.  The Giants did get in on that, but were outbid by the White Sox, who have a better situation for him, with the DH and 1B in the AL, along with more Bread and more years.

So the big news off the wire is that Tony Abreu was given his release today.  Abreu was definitely not having the best spring after an injury plagued 2013.  Brandon Hicks is the big beneficiary here.  He is raking in ST, 432/532/865, clearly sustainable, and there is room for him on the squad if Scutaro starts on the DL, which is looking extremely likely.  Hicks has a good defensive rep.  His warts revolve around contact, a lot of strikeouts.  He hasn't been given much of a shot in the show, mainly being a pinch hitter, which is a rough assignment.  Hicks has a lot of pop in his bat, and a big frame.

Hey, the Giants have never shied away from hackers.  They might have found a flawed jewel in the rough here.  Having some legit pop off the bench, and the ability to stay in late for defensive purposes is a nice 1-2.

In Pablo news, apparently Pablo flashed up "The Pence" - 5/90MM to get an extension done.  Not sure if that's the start or a ballpark figure.  The Giants countered with 3/40MM.  That'd be "the lowball".  It's a business.  And Pablo is a crazy double edged sword.  Fan favorite.  A tad injury prone.  But really only broken hammates and a couple of pulled hammys.  But very inconsistent fielding, with the weight fluctuation.  But also can hit anything and a complete frustration to pitchers.  Has crashed and burned a couple of years, with his lousy conditioning.  World series MVP, he has a knack for coming up huge. 

Mainly with Pablo, he is 27 years young.  There just isn't any young talent like this in baseball hitting FA.  The Giants have nurtured him, promoted him aggressively, he has been hugely and inconsistently successful.  If he didn't have the weight and conditioning issues, as well as the lingering inability to really stay on the field, he would be locked and stocked right now for a long time.  Its going to be a long process.  And both sides are gambling.  If Pablo gets hurt again, he is going to be leaving money on the table.  If he goes bonkers, he's beating the Pence, because some team will go way over the top. 

I would be not quite OK with the Pence.  I think in the end I'd say OK, you don't have much choice.  But it's a pretty big gamble for the team.  Pablo has not filled in on his tremendous natural talent.  It could be he's finally getting a mature head on his shoulders.  Good, the Giants get him going, they might really surprise this year.

In the meanwhile, Adrianza is a light hitting switch hitter who can run.  Arias is a consistent SS/3B with a perchance for avoiding walks.  Hicks might be K prone, but he has power.  That's the plan B, Gigantes style.  And at this point, they have quite the track record with reclamation projects.  Its quite possible that Brandon Hicks is the next big name in lights, Andres Torres and Gregor Blanco style.

26 comments:

  1. Not really that much of a lowball offer from the Giants, if the market study holds up. A recent study, I think on Fangraphs 3-6 months ago, looked at $/WAR by position and found that outfielders are "overpaid" relatively to infielders, who get much less per WAR. Plus, as you know, negotiations always start with both sides on extremes and moving inward.

    However, from the way I saw it reported (I think by Schulman), Pence is the starting point from Sandoval's camp's view.

    I would agree that's the starting point if he had kept himself in fit shape from 2011 to 2013, but he didn't. Hopefully they are still open to negotiating during the season, but if not, I think he will find a sad surprise when he's saddled with the draft pick compensation and expecting Pence money (and more importantly, years) from teams.

    True, he is helping his market value by coming in fit, and especially if he hits like in 2011, but after four seasons of ups and downs, and particularly his very cutting remark last season about having two years to get in shape, meaning screw the Giants for the next two seasons, most teams will be cautious about tapping that, particularly since, even though he has no more hamate bones to break, he has always been beset by physical ailments that keeps him out of games and occasionally puts him on the DL.

    Fragile, fat (he may be fit now, but his image in team's minds is "fat", no matter what he does this season) free agents are not going to get 5 year contracts. Maybe with options that vest if he maintains a certain size, he might, but not guaranteed like Pence's. But yeah, there could be that one team willing to give up their pick just to get his bat, but as this off-season showed, it takes a long time to bring a team to go there and give up the pick for these top players with warts.

    The only silver lining I can hold onto is that it seems like Sandoval does like playing here and would like to stay here, much like Pence last season, so I still think the odds favor him returning to the team eventually, but there looks to be some bumpy roads ahead, and I agree that he's gambling too, if he either gets fat again or injured again this season, he'll be lucky to get any huge deal like Pence from anyone, and even 3/40 will look too high for many teams' blood. So we will see.

    Yeah, good point about Hicks maybe being the next reclamation project. I was speculating on Cove Chatter about risking losing Hicks when Scutaro comes back, as I still think Adrianza will not be given up on this season, but while reading your post, I just realized another thread that the beats have been weaving into their information: the possibility of going with 4 OF only, and carrying an extra MI. That's the only way it works, bringing him up now and letting him start, you risk losing him once Scutaro is ready and you need a spot on the 25, but that's when Perez (he seems to have the edge for that spot now, Colvin hasn't shown anything other than that he might be our 2013 Abreu for 2014, the utility guy out injured) comes in, he still has options, and as much as Bochy would like to have that 5th OF, the Giants need to protect 2B more, right now. And in the early going, hopefully Pagan will not be needing much rest, so maybe the Giants can get away with Adrianza in LF and Blanco in CF on occasion.

    And I still think that Adrianza will surprise, I think he's been behind in accumulating ABs because he's a SH, so hopefully he's going to see some starts here and there with Scutaro out.

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    1. Yeah, not that much of a lowball. I think that is the correct offer to float out there. Has Pablo earned anything else? Not really, the Giants are generous with their own players, often "overspending" to consensus (and WAR obsessed stat nerds calculations that ignore the narrow market and economic theory that is successful baseball players.

      And thank you for reminding me of "I have 2 years to get into shape"... I've been in a good mood about Pablo for about 2 months since he got back in shape... But that one really, really rankled. And I'm sure rankled his teammates as well.

      Hicks is not on the 40 right now. I think that may be a point in his favor, no service time concerns, if he's worth the roster spot some reliever can be risked on the waiver claim game that has replaced the Rule 5 draft as the main action.

      Last - bringing up Pence does offer a stark contrast right? Iron man Johnson on one hand, on a team that does value going out there every day, versus Panda's immature yet brilliant at times act.

      I think they're going with 5 OFs. With Morse there, its almost a given there is a sub a game easy. I think its Scoots to the DL, Adrianza/Hicks at 2B with some Arias sprinkled. Worry about the rest later on.

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  2. I think Sabes comments are pretty clear that if it were up to him, he'd get this done with Pablo. The brakes are being pumped by others in the organization.

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    1. Yep, or as I just read on your joint, its possible that they are putting this up as cover for Sabes statement about an offer if he is in shape.

      Unlike Matt Cain, I think the Giants can afford to let Pablo walk if the price gets steep. They have enough talent to get by. He simply has not earned the extension.

      I would float 4/60MM behind the scenes if I was the G's, but I would really be hesitant about a 5th year or more than 15MM per. And on Pablo's side, they're sitting there looking at the Choo/Ellsbury stuff, and then looking at the list of FAs... and licking their chops. Pablo just seems like an AL guy. But his side should be careful, and look at how the QO has sucked the life out of a few FAs contracts. All of these guys have warts, and Pablo has the crazy hitting ability and the youth on his side, but he has his knocks as well.

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    2. Most of Sabes' quotes on the subject came in December. He said that a switch-hitter who produces runs is a rare commodity. He went on to say that Pablo would have "no shortage of suitors, believe me, no matter his weight." He then added, that an extension for Pablo was "conventional wisdom, but I am only one voice."

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    3. He also said his potential is at "sky's the limit", but its all on him at this point. Basically - we've done what we could do, this is on him. He managed to be both complimentary and a bit fed up sounding at the same time.

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    4. Frankly, I can't tell if Sabean is speaking for himself or for the organization sometimes. It could be a case of creating a good cop/bad cop publicly with those statements he has made.

      Not sure what you meant by cover, Shankbone. But to follow up on DrB's comment quoting Sabean, just because he has a suitor does not mean that he will get what he wants. I'm sure the Twins had a lot of suitors for Johan, but ultimately that got scraps from the Mets. Beltran probably had a lot of suitors, but no one willing to give what the Cards finally gave him.

      And DrB made the good point on his site that while Sabean noted the extension, he never (and rightfully so) gave any details about what he was thinking in terms of years or dollars.

      The way I see it, I don't get the "brakes being pumped" comment. An offer was made, and as insulted as Pablo's agent was, it was a good offer based on the analysis of other free agent contracts signed over the five seasons in the study, in fact in line with Pence's contract, as I'll get into next. It is Sandoval's agent who is not in tune with what the market is offering, to my view, not the Giants.

      According to the WAR analyst by someone with cred in analyzing player value, Matt Swartz, there is a significant difference in the $ per WAR for 3B vs. RF. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/positional-differences-in-the-price-of-war-2/

      I computed the ratio between the two, roughly 1.357, and if you apply that to Pence's $18M per season you come up with a $13.26M per season for 3B, which is basically in line with what the Giants offered Sandoval, $13.33M per season.

      I think people need to remember that in business, nobody's first offer is the last offer, it is simply the opening offer that sets the tone for the negotiations, each side gives an outside the box number that you compromise towards the middle. The Giants gave a fair opening contract. I think they probably suspected that Pablo's side will ask for the moon, so they probably started on the low side to counter that, as meeting in the middle is a very common negotiating ploy. I think Shankbone's 4/60M looks like a good compromise between the two sides, but Sandoval's agent adding that Pence was a starting point was probably surprising to the Giants.

      Unfortunately, I don't think that Sandoval's agent is very savvy to react so angrily publicly about the Giants offer. And to say that Pence is the starting point, that's pretty stupid too, maybe another team would have been willing to pay more, but now they are going to stay around Pence's contract and will need to be pushed to give more. That's a very amateur negotiating ploy, in my opinion (not that I'm a professional negotiator, but just what makes common sense to me).

      And it would not surprise me if he is an amateur, I searched for his name as an agent, and it only came up for Sandoval. And I was surprised to see his name, as another recent article noted that Pablo's brother was his agent, so I would not be surprised if Gustavo happens to be a family friend who has been acting as his agent.

      And if they are amateurish in this way, they could end up being like that in the off-season and find Pablo without a team other than the Giants still interested in signing him late in the off-season, what with the draft pick and his outlandish demands. For me, this reminds me of Aurilia's agent who wanted 4 years at $10M each, or something crazy like that, and I knew he was gone. The only big difference is that Pablo is still very young, so he won't be embarrassed like Richie was, taking a low-ball contract with a team just to play the next season. But I doubt he's going to get a lot of contracts offers above 4 years/$60M, so hopefully he'll stick around instead. He might end up like I-Rod, taking a one year make good contract to earn a bigger one later.

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    5. Yeah, Shankbone, you got that right, Sabean was both complimentary as well as fed up in that statement. And that's true, the sky has always been the limit for him, but it has always been on him, and he's been failing.

      As a baseball guy, Sabean of course wants to extend him, a hitter like Sandoval is very rare. But the rub is that Sandoval has been like a child for much of his time as a major leaguer, so it's nice that he cleaned himself up lately, but his career has been up and down, as well as injury prone. And as Ellsbury learned, that won't hurt his signability, it just pushed it out some.

      Still, in Ellsbury case, it was not his fatness that caused his declines, and Pablo has been up and down a lot of times to not have it depress his free agent value. And the contract starts with his age 28 season (and really, almost 29 since he turns that on Aug 11), so a three year contract covers his 28/29, 29/30, and 30/31 seasons. The fourth year covers 31/32, when players start to fade. And fifth year covers 32/33. And players who can't control his weight will find it very hard to get a contract for his 32/33 season, I think, without weight targets that vest that fifth year.

      Had he done the trainer/cook option instead of saying, "I got two years to figure this out", he might be able to convince teams to shell out such a long-term contract this off-season. But one year of change is not going to convince any team he's changed for the better. He did that in 2011 then fell back. And he would not be the first fat player to fall off the wagon and get fat again.

      Plus, it is not like Ryan Howard or Prince Fielder, fat guys who performed even when fat, Pablo only performed when he was fit. When he wasn't fit, his offense (and defense) suffered a lot. Had 2011 been a starting point instead of a high point, he would have easily gotten more than Pence. He's kidding himself (and his agent is failing his fiduciary duties) if he thinks he can get more than Pence right now.

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    6. The Giants made a lowball offer, pure and simple. Short of getting injured again, and his weight ballooning during the season, Pablo is going to get many times that in free agency. As I see it, it was purely a PR move on the part of the Giants so they can say they tried to sign him to an extension and Sabean can say he was serious when he said he would consider an extension if Pablo came to camp in shape. Yeah, he considered an extension…..at an extreme team friendly rate!

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    7. Lets examine the data then, that's always illuminating.

      I found a database of 2014 3B salaries: http://www.spotrac.com/rankings/mlb/total/3rd-base/limit-25/

      $13.3M would make Pablo the 5th highest paid 3B in the majors for 2015. Is that lowball? A-Rod ($22M), Wright ($20M), Beltre ($18M), Zimmerman ($14M) are the ones above, Prado ($11M) and Longoria ($11M) are the next one down. That seems fair to me, based on what Pablo has done in his career, he's definitely above Prado and Longoria signed a long-term deal early so that explains that. Getting a Pence deal would put him up there with Beltre, 2nd in the majors, and if he gets more than that, as he expects, that would make him alone #2. He should not be the 2nd paid 3B in the majors, even if he's the second coming of Babe Ruth in 2014.

      Now, deals are sometimes backloaded (like Ramirez's salary in 2014), so lets look at it from the average annual amounts: https://www.baseballprospectus.com/compensation/cots/league-info/highest-paid-players/

      Looking only at current deals for 2015, he would be 6th. But Miguel Cabrera, now 1B, is in there, should I would bump that to 5th, behind: A-Rod ($27.5M), Wright ($17.25M), Zimmerman ($16.67M), Beltre ($16.0M). Next is Prado ($10M). Basically the same crowd of players, just up or down some. Also, Longoria has signed an extension starting in 2017 averaging ($16.67M).

      A Pence deal would again make Pablo the second highest paid 3B in baseball. Again, Pablo has not been the second best 3B in baseball. If he had kept himself fit his whole career, he would deserve that designation.

      Now, maybe he could get more than that in today's market, and end up higher than many of these players who signed before, some long ago. There are teams who have the resources to give him big money like that and not blink much, particularly LAD, which has tried to poach a number of Giants free agents in recent years and have a love for former Giants in general. He could get a lot more from the market.

      But the question being considered now is whether the Giants made a lowball offer. Based on current salaries for 3B in baseball, no, he was not being lowballed, 3B has not been valued that greatly, for whatever reason, the Giants offer would put him among the Top 5 paid in baseball in 2015.

      And as I noted, anybody familiar with business negotiations know that the initial offer will almost always be much below where they end up eventually. $15M, as proposed by Shankbone, would still leave Pablo as 5th in AAV but move into 4th in 2015 salary, if he gets $15M each season and it's not backloaded. Still about right to me, the Giants offer is eminently fair, to my view.

      However, Sandoval's agents view that Pence is the starting point seems totally out of whack with the market realities as defined by the current salaries and AAV contracts that 3B had signed in the past. Is Pablo the #2 3B in the majors? No, he's not, not by a longshot. And the $13.3M AAV offer by the Giants was definitely fair, it is roughly the midpoint between #6 and #4 in salary and AAV, it was NOT a lowball offer.

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    8. You can go on for 20 long paragraphs about how fair the offer was. The fact is that it is the absolute floor of what Pablo can expect to get in free agency and therefore a lowball offer. Not something that is going to entice him to sign early and take that potential payday off the market.

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    9. Oh, and ogc, I think you would agree that Brian Sabean knows the baseball free agent market very well, right? Here are his exact words re. Pablo: "There will be no shortage of suitors, regardless of weight." I will take Brian Sabean's succinct opinion over your 20 long paragraphs every day of the week!

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    10. One thing I was thinking about with Sabean's comments - he values hitting a bit differently than other GMs. The much mocked at the time Freddy Sanchez deal - "Former batting champ". Well, a hitter like Sanchez stands a chance against a control artist like Cliff Lee, a guy who would gut the Moneyball A's looking for walks lineup with a quickness. The Edgar Renteria deal was seen as a bust... until he came alive and delivered in the "clutch". That is also a much mocked concept. Well... Panda has delivered in the clutch. Sabean values that highly.

      And after 2010, very defiantly Tony Siegle basically said "take that Moneyball'. I think he was referring a lot to the middle infielders and the way they played.

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    11. I wasn't expecting a huge offer at this time from the Giants. It wouldn't be enough anyways, so you might as well start low. On DrB's I cut and pasted the various commitments to the big names straight from B/R. The big thing is these are all big time year deals. And while the money might be in line like your analysis OGC, I think the years are definitely lowball for the guy with the most shiny youth on his jacket heading into FA. And I do think there will be at least one GM who will throw down the moneys and the years.

      However... Pablo and his agent are taking a gamble, and if he gets hurt or puts up pedestrian numbers, he is going to be in for some serious hurt, because that QO is coming out to play, and we've seen what its done to the fringey FAs who used to be called "Type A" but might be more "Type B". Nobody really wants Kyle Lohse, they want him at a price. Same with Stephen Drew, Kendry Morales, Ervin Santana... these guys are the B team. Pablo might be viewed as the B team if he doesn't rock the house this year. In fact, he could start getting Morales comps if his defense slips. AL guy, DH guy, and then you have trouble.

      But he's in the sweet spot of age, teams will take a risk on the back end to shuffle him off, first to 1B then to DH.

      I said "cover" way up above because I think that the Giants had to put up something. But they're basically in wait and see, we'll pay for performance but we're not getting burned by another regression. But I agree with DrB this isn't a very competitive offer, its a lowball, the years are way too short. Is that wise? Well... most likely it is, based on past performances. He'll get better though. Should the Giants be the ones matching it?

      A lot will depend on Pablo's performance, hopefully stretching to the post-season.

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    12. As I explained above, DrB, if you ever care to read my comments before commenting on them half-cocked, of course there will be suitors: the question is not whether there will be suitors, I knew that there will be a lot of suitors, everyone here knows that, the question is how many of them are going to offer him Pence's contract. Given the history of 3B contracts, it don't seem likely.

      A suitor is everyone who kicks the tires on Sandoval. Sabean routinely kicks the tires with free agents, don't mean that he'll be actively trying to sign the guy beyond the initial sharing of information.

      And yeah, the industry is flush with cash. Still don't mean they will rain it on top of a historically fat and lazy player who don't care about fulfilling his contractual obligations.

      And I'll go on for 20 long paragraphs if the data is there, you were the one who said it's lowball: give me the evidence anytime, that's the way I prefer it.

      But that's fine, you have your opinion, I'll have mine, and we'll present both our views. I don't get everything right, but at least everyone can read my opinion and decide for themselves whether to believe your assertions or my assertions and stats.

      Shankbone, I'll admit that 3 years is on the low end, but to me, lowball means that it is unreasonable. A 3 year contract gets the buyer his 28/29 to 30/31 seasons. The fourth year is his 31/32 season, and that is around when players start to decline, in general, across all players. It is reasonable to be wary at that point, and especially for someone who has been a fat and unfit player for most of his career. And as a study showed recently, career peaks are happening earlier for players today, hence why teams would rather sign young players long-term than free agents. Peaks for fat unfit players are probably even earlier.

      Sure, Sandoval has a lot of good qualities, and that will get a lot of teams interested in him and kicking the tires. But he has a history of injuries and a fat body type that don't bode well for keeping him on the field. Even last season, no more hamate bones to break, he could only get up to 141 games, he missed roughly 15% of the season, looking at PA. He might seem healthy now, but you never know, he seemed healthy last season until he wasn't.

      Thanks for explaining cover, Shankbone. My understanding is that it was Sandoval's agent who released the offer information, not the Giants. But yeah, they had to put up something, if they were serious about their interest. Being wise with your offer does not connote to me that it was lowball. Low maybe, but lowball has a bad connotation to me, that it was unreasonably low. That is the connotation that I was refuting.

      This reported bid, to me, is reasonably low as a first bid. That's what negotiations are for, moving beyond that first bid and meeting in the middle. Bidding normally goes up, but not when the ask is so high, the Giants just said thanks but no thanks to Aurilia when he had his big ask.

      Sandoval, to me, likewise, is being unreasonable high. Has he produced like he's the Top 2 3B in the majors? At times, but the last time was 2011. Sure, he was the World Series MVP and did something very few hitters ever did. So did Gene Tenace for the A's, so did Jeffrey Leonard, but that don't mean he's the top player in the majors, players do get lucky/hot during the playoffs. I love Will the Thrill, but I knew he wasn't going to repeat what he did in the playoffs against the Cubs every time. He might do well this season, but there is a huge risk that he won't repeat. It's unlike Ellsbury, who delivers a lot of value via his defense, Sandoval except for one season, has been horrible on defense, his value is only his hitting, but when he's injured, he's just an average player for the most part, as he was last season.

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  3. The Panda is getting paid. The Pence + $20M. Stop whining or wishing, just Pay the Panda. That's what billionaire's money is for.

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    1. Regardless of how some other owners see themselves, I do not think Giants ownership sees itself as an unlimited piggy bank for players to withdraw salary from. They are operating the Giants as a business. So, who's whining and wishing?

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    2. Mr Monopoly Guy? He's installed some order in this thing. I have the feeling that they'd love to get a "deal" on Pablo, but given his extreme youth and flashes of super-star-dome, plus the crazy scarcity of true hitters on the market, its looking like pay up. Unless Pablo gets injured... and then the Giants slap the QO on him and his market gets a bit quesy.

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  4. Shankbone has held up the Cardinals' FO as an model to emulate; and it seems to me that based on what they have done, what they would do in the Giants' situation is give PS the QO, both to limit his market and to ensure that if he defects they get to bolster their farm with a supplementary draft pick.

    What I think they ought to be doing now is precisely what they are doing, waiting to see how he performs when he has the greatest financial incentive to do so. Is he going to be a 4-6 WAR player, as he has been a couple of years, or a 2-3 WAR player as he has been the rest of the time? Then they probably have to discount that performance somewhat, since history shows, I think, that lavishly paid FAs typically underperform. This guy has lacked the professional pride to make sure he plays up to his capacity, even when it would be financially to his advantage: why imagine that he will play up to his capacity when he's secure and rich?

    In addition, if Susac develops as he looks as though he well may, a lineup with Posey at 3B and Susac catching mightn't be so drastically inferior to what the Giants have now. And we won't know how Susac will develop till about the same time when we see how Sandoval performs in his contract year. The Giants, I would say, are wise to wait.

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    1. I think the Cards have an awesome FO for sure. But there is a little twist on this Campanari - I put them up as "best in baseball" and comp the Giants directly to them a lot, and the results surprise. The basic argument I put down again and again is the Giants are in the thick of that hunt.

      And I totally agree, the question is "why imagine that Sandoval will play up to his capacity when he's secure and rich". That is it.

      Susac and Sanchez giving the Giants options that are outside the box. And I personally think that Christian Arroyo might just be the 3B of the future, stepping in in 2016. Rushed? The Giants don't mind pushing their guys. Lets see where he gets assigned, and if its SJ I won't say its a shock at all.

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    2. Been meaning to ask this for awhile, but do you see the Gmen trading from the pitching surplus to fill 2b or 3b for the long term?

      Yeah we have Panik, but another bad year kind of kills his star as a starter imo. And Duvall is a super long shot as is given his skill set. Can't help but look over at Texas and see that they have Profar penciled in at 2b for the long run with Odor knocking on the door in AAA. Texas doesn't have a lot of arms anymore due to trades/graduations/injuries... we seem to have a surplus.

      3b would be harder to trade given positional scarcity and star power at the ML level. I doubt he ever finds his way out of Boston, but I would love Cecchini in Orange and Black. Doesn't wow with the long ball, but he seems a heck of a lot like Matt Carpenter who just tears the cover off of the ball. Get on base or whack a double. An 800 ops is and 800 ops even if it didnt come with the traditional 20+ HR powering it.

      I just hate the idea of payng the Panda big money. Dude is 28, he should have grown up a long time ago. I don't care what he says, he got in shape for the contract. No way he was going to play fat this year with FA on the horizon.

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    3. Good point about Cards: see what they did with Pujols (he has rumors about his age being older, which is a big deal for the 10 year contract he was asking for).

      The Giants all along has been riding on the hope that Sandoval will man up and give them another good season in 2014, and so far so good. I think they are and have been prepared to let him test free agency if it works out that way. I think Sabean's comments have been to "show some luv" to their star player, as they still hope to sign him long-term, but their opening offer makes me confident that they won't go crazy with their final offer for him either.

      I'm hopeful that something could be done by mid-season, but wouldn't be surprised if nothing happens because of the way his agent reacted publicly by spilling the years and numbers. If there is anything Sabean hates is negotiating in public. It also works to the Giants advantage because I don't think other teams think he's worth that, and even if he has a great season, they'll look at 2011 vs. 2010+2012-13, and wonder if he slides again. At $13.3M, that's roughly what he produced in his OK off-years, but $18M would be a huge overpay, and no team is going to risk that on someone who is off and on controlling his weight. The history of weight loss is that the person yo-yo's.

      Personally, I want Sandoval back, as that makes us a monster lineup, but with Belt coming into his own, and Crawford looking like he's ready to bust out, plus Pence being Pence and Posey being POSEY, our lineup should be good enough without Sandoval to win with our very dominating pitching staff. And with Susac looking good, ready to push Posey to 3B, that makes losing Sandoval palatable to me.

      And by mid-season, we'll know better where Susac stands in terms of taking over soon, that could change the equation regarding paying more to get Sandoval back. And getting Panda back don't necessarily mean we can't move Posey to 3B if Susac is good enough, we could move Belt to LF and Sandoval to 1B, where he has been a good fielder before.

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    4. The issue is never about how good the lineup is, the issue is always, can we win with this lineup given the good pitching we expect to get from our staff? If the staff is firing on all cylinders, we don't need a great offense to win enough games to win the division, it would be gilding the lily and winning the division with 100 wins. And while I love gilding the lily anytime we can, I'll understand if the Giants think Sandoval to too high a price for their blood.

      I think we are covered long-term by Posey at 3B. He can't and won't play C forever, but there is no use talking about him moving until we have someone worth moving in as C. And Bochy when asked, noted 3B, so you have to think it has been discussed internally, else why speak out? And I think we are getting to the point where Susac at minimum could platoon with Sanchez at C, and if he has a good season, be the starter.

      Panik, Adrianza, and Arroyo I think will be good enough at 2B between the three for our team to win with our pitching. And don't forget that some of the draft experts thought that Arroyo might make a good catcher, so there are options if Susac happens to be a AAAA player (but I was very encouraged by his AA offense).

      So to my view, Sandoval is a luxury, not a necessity, for the Giants to win going forward. I would love for him to be on the team, given his history and his abilities, he would make winning a lot easier. But if a team wants to be stupid with their money and bet on him staying fit (and I'm looking at you, Sheriff Ned), so be it, I'll take the draft pick and the memories and move on, I think the team will still be competitive enough even without him.

      And if we really need to pick up someone, as Sabean has shown with Franchez and Scutaro, we can pick up spare parts that help us out a lot via trade of prospects who have fallen out of favor, like Alderson and Culberson. I think the Giants will keep all the pitchers that they think are worth keeping, and trade away the ones that they don't think as much of. They have an excellent record of that so far in the Sabean era.

      And I don't expect the Giants to trade him away to get prospects. They are focused on winning this season, and having Pablo is going to do that, as they have nobody ready to replace his production in the minors. They will accept getting only a draft pick for him, if that maximizes their chances to win the Championship again. Only if he gets fat and not producing will they trade him, and even then, it probably would take Duvall or Panik breaking out in AAA for them to do such a drastic move. I would not bet on him being traded though.

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    5. Shankbone, I agree that the Giants have an excellent FO. My point was that letting him go oughtn't to be thought "cheap" or foolhardy, given that the strategy of playing FA dangers that way has a premier NL precedent.

      mistgl, I wonder if the corollary to "no way he was going to play fat this year with FA on the horizon" is "no way he is not going to play fat with a fat salary guaranteed." Is el hermano Sandoval at the limit of his culinary ambition, for that matter, in cooking low cal for Pablo year after year?

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    6. ogc, I'm with you here. Also, as to a monster lineup, if PS plays as he has in his 2-3 WAR seasons, then Susac or Susac + Sanchez has a good chance of equaling his production, as well as of preserving Posey from the damages of catching.

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  5. Oh, and I should add: I'm was more hoping to see a Belt extension done this spring over a Sandoval one, so maybe the team will make a different announcement at that luncheon....

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