Saturday, November 30, 2013

Starters set for 2014

Henry Schulman of the SF Chron reports that Ryan Vogelsong has signed a deal for 2014

Chris Haft of mlb.com also reports that Yusmeiro Petit will compete for the number 5 slot -- 

Vogelsong, who will face competition from Yusmeiro Petit for the rotation's No. 5 spot, will enter Spring Training more physically refreshed than he was following the 2012 season. Not only did the Giants' surge to the World Series force Vogelsong to work 24 2/3 additional innings spanning four postseason starts, but he also threw more than usual in the offseason to prepare for joining Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Not surprisingly, Vogelsong's fastball velocity dwindled noticeably toward the end of last season, which he finished 4-6 with a 5.73 ERA in 19 starts. By contrast, he went 27-16 with a 3.05 ERA for the Giants in 2011-12. He made the National League All-Star team in 2011 and was the team's leading winner (3-0) in the 2012 postseason.

Petit went 4-1 down the stretch last year in seven starts. 

That included coming within an out of a perfect game on Sept. 7 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Vogelsong back in the Orange and Black?

That's what Henry Schulman of the SF Chron and mlb.com's Chris Haft are reporting -- most likely an incentives-heavy deal, which makes all kinds of sense. Vogey was amazing in 2011 and 2012.....

He had WARs of 3.2 and 2.0 those years. He won 2 games in the NLCS and another in the World Series.  

Here's the report -- 


But the Giants believe Vogelsong was affected by a short offseason then pitching in the World Baseball Classic in March. Team officials consistently said there was nothing wrong with Vogelsong’s arm.
If a Vogelsong deal gets done, the Giants’ search for starters might be over. After the Giants signed Tim Hudson to a two-year, $23 million contract, general manager Brian Sabean said he probably would sign Vogelsong or another starter, but not both, with Yusmeiro Petit, prospect Edwin Escobar and perhaps Chad Gaudin providing depth.
Sabean then could focus on finding a left fielder and adding bullpen depth.
The Giants added two pitchers to the 40-man roster Wednesday. They claimed 23-year-old left-hander Jose De Paula off waivers from the San Diego Padres and signed a right-handed minor-league lifer, Erik Cordier. He’s a 27-year-old reliever.
To clear space on the 40-man roster the Giants designated for assignment outfielder Francisco Peguero and catcher Johnny Monell.
The Cordier signing is extremely unusual. I can’t remember a team signing a minor-league free agent who has not played in the majors to a big-league contract. During a Twitter discussion about the signing, former Rangers pitcher Doug Mathis said he played with Cordier in the Pirates’ system in 2013 and that Cordier throws 98-100 mph.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Adios, Jose Mijares

I saw that he got cut from the 40-man roster and wondered if I could recall any of the games he pitched in during 2013. As it turned out, I could.

I was at the park on June 19 when the Giants lost in 13 to the Padres as Jose gave up two runs to a lousy Padres team in the top of the inning. It's one thing to get beat by Andrew McCutcheon or Paul Goldschmidt; getting beat by marginal guys like Jesus Guzman, Yasmani Grandal and Kyle Blanks sucks. 

What made it worse is that the game left the Giants one game over .500 at 35-34. They won the next two games but they were a few days away from a 7-game losing streak that essentially the season. It started with an ugly 7-2 loss to the Marlins, followed by 3-game sweeps by the dodgers and Rox.

It turned out that the 13th was a preview of coming attractions. I'm not saying it was all Jose's fault but it was a crappy inning to watch in a game that went 4 hours and 35 minutes. He was OK in 2012 and then got lousy last year. I'm not going to miss him. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"I love playing in front of a packed house"

That's what Javier Lopez told John Shea of the SF Chronicle in explaining why he re-signed in SF. What's not to like? 

He has three World Series rings -- one from 2007 with the Bosox and two with the Giants.  

He is 16th among active pitchers in games pitched --

Monday, November 25, 2013

The murky Sandoval situation

Chris Haft of mlb.com has this to say on the Giants web site --

Was last year an aberration or do you think Pablo Sandoval is trending downward? What should we expect from him in 2014?
-- Matt R., Benicia, Calif.

Anybody should wonder why Sandoval, 27, hasn't built upon seasons such as 2011, when he raised his batting average 47 points to finish at .315, or performances such as his three-homer game in the 2012 World Series opener. The fact remains that though Sandoval has improved his plate discipline, he's still a work in progress. Moreover, his fluctuating weight and vulnerability to nagging injuries have prevented him from establishing consistency. Thus, Sandoval defies trends. Anything can happen with him next year. I'd bet that he'll put up impressive 2014 numbers, since his three-year, $17.15 million deal is expiring and, according to social media, he appears to be improving his physical condition. Sandoval's unfulfilled promise explains the trade rumors involving him. But his tantalizing all-around game and contract status suggest the Giants will hold onto him in the belief that his impending free agency will motivate him to excel.

I think Haft is right on the money. Pablo had a WAR of 6.0 in 2011 and 4.3 in 2009. He was at 1.2 in 2010,  2.2 in 2012 and 2.5 last season. Baseball Reference says he had an exceptional year on offense and defense in 2011, when he was the 9th most valuable player, according to their metrics. 

He's at age 27, which is when ballplayers peak so we can hope.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The charm of Barry Bonds

Gwen Knapp has a longggg profile on Barry Bonds becoming a relatively anonymous guy who's into cycling and has become the boyfriend of cyclist Mari Holden. Knapp's take is that he seems to have become far more charming than in his days in the Orange and Black. 

I recall that Knapp had no problem smearing Bonds when she was at the SF Chron. Here's part of her story for the Sports on Earth site --

The first time Stan Conte, the former Giants trainer, saw Bonds after the trial, the two were waiting for a delayed flight out of the Burbank airport. Bonds couldn't have been friendlier. He yelled "hello," came to see Conte and stayed to talk for at least an hour, filling in the former trainer on his life, his love of cycling, his relationship with Holden, his desire to return to baseball and his belief that he still had a lot to offer the game. "We talked about the trial, and he said had no bad feelings toward me for testifying, and that he understood what my position was," Conte said. "I sure got the impression that he wanted to move on and that he thought people were not letting him move on."
As they sat there, Conte noticed a fairly shocking transformation in Bonds' lifestyle. In a crowded terminal, the slugger seemed almost anonymous. "To me, Bonds had always been one of the most recognizable faces in the United States," he said. "I'd been around him so many years, and I was used to people coming up to him all the time. And now, only a few people came up. But when they did, he was unbelievably charming."
 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

When did the Giants stop sucking?

I think it was this game on August 24. They were 56-72 before the game started and went 20-14 the rest of the way. OK, they were in a spoiler role by then but it was heartening that the good guys finally had a decent stretch over the last 5 weeks of the season. 

There's a lot to like here -- Lincecum won his 7th game. They beat a quality pitcher in Francisco Liriano with a big 4-run first that started with a Scutaro single, an Araias double and a Posey single. 

As for Tim, he struck out 8 and pitched into the 6th with 101 pitches  Bochy then used 6 pitchers for the vic --


Tim Lincecum, W (7-13) 5.1







101













Jose Mijares 0







2













Jean Machi, H (5) 0.2







7













Sandy Rosario, H (4) 0.2







15













Javier Lopez, H (10) 0.1







4













Santiago Casilla, H (12) 1







14













Sergio Romo, S (31) 1

          14

Done at 29

I'm still kind of amazed that Jeff Francouer appears to be done at 29. I really don't fault Brian Sabean much for giving Jeff his last shot. 

He got signed on July 9 and released on August 21, the same day that the Bosox beat up on Zito and the aptly named Mike Kickham for a 12-1 buttkick.   

In 2011, he put up 20 HRs and 87 RBIs in KC for a 3.2 WAR. Then he forgot how to play.

He wound up hitting just .194/.206/.226 with zero home runs and 12 strikeouts in 63 plate appearances with the Giants.

In a way, the Francouer signing symbolized the whole season. He was signed after one of the worst losses of the season, a 16-inning nightmare to the Mets, which the good guys lost 4-3. Posey got 5 hits, Crawford and Scutaro got 3 each and the rest of the team got 3.  

They were 40-48 at that point; when Francouer left they were 56-70, so they went 16-22 while he was on the team. Way to go, Frenchy!

Anyhow, the Giants went 20-16 the rest of the way so there is a bit of hope there...

Belt in left for 30-40 games in 2014

Lefty Malo picked up on this scenario earlier in the week, which seems to underline how crappy the Giants options are for left field next season. They somehow need to find someone who can play 120 games in left other than Gregor Blanco -- 

The Giants really need someone in left field who does one thing very well -- hit left-handed pitching with extreme prejudice -- and who runs around with a glove without embarrassing himself. Pat Burrell pulled off that neat trick for a few months. The trick now is luring someone who a) maintains peace of mind while hitting 400-foot-outs once every day or two; b) understands that his starts could hit a 120-game ceiling, even if he's healthy; c) doesn't mind getting paid with a little platoon pro rata in mind. Might be a tough order on the free agent market, which is why Sabean has talked about potentially filling the position via trade. 


By the way, Blanco got 511 plate appearances in 2013 and racked up a 2.5 WAR so he was hardly worthless. But the team scored only 629 runs while the opposition scored 690. Here's the rest of the motley crew who got playing time in the OF besides Pagan, Pence and Blanco -- (the numbers are age, games and plate appearances--

 
9 OF Andres Torres# 35 103 300



































































































































14 OF Juan Perez 26 34 97
















































16 LF Roger Kieschnick* 26 38 95





















17 UT Brett Pill 28 48 92





















18 LF Jeff Francoeur 29 22 63





















19 LF Kensuke Tanaka* 32 15 34





















20 OF Francisco Peguero 25 18 30

Friday, November 22, 2013

Why the Cards keep winning

So the Cards keep making deep runs into the postseason -- I'm still kind of amazed that the Giants beat them in the NLCS last year -- and here's a reason why: they just traded David Freese for Peter Bourjos of the Angels.

Dave Cameron at Fangraphs has a great analysis -- 

It’s hard to see any area where Freese is better than Bourjos. This trade will be sold as speed-and-defense for power, but Bourjos actually has a higher career Isolated Slugging mark than Freese does. This is an average hitting elite defender for a slightly above average hitting meh defender, only the meh defender costs more and is closer to the end of his career.
Moves like this are why the Cardinals are one of the best run organizations in baseball. They get younger, cut costs, set up their team for the future, and get the better player in return. Oh, and they got the Angels to throw in a prospect, even if not a very good one, just for the fun of it. The Indians spent $48 million to buy this skillset in an aging Michael Bourn last winter, but the Cardinals figured out how to turn an aging third baseman coming off a bad year into a nearly free version of the same thing.
The Angels needed a third baseman, I guess, but they traded a good player for a worse player who costs more. Anaheim keeps spinning their wheels, while the Cardinals keep marching on towards sustained excellence. Some things really do stay the same.

RIP Michael Weiner

Deepest condolences to his family and friends. 

It's humbling to read this long commentary by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN about what a fine man Michael Weiner was. The director of the MLB Players Association died of brain cancer at the age of 51 yesterday. Here's how Crasnick's post ends -- 

"I don't take any day for granted," Weiner told me that November afternoon in 2012. "Maybe this is a lot to ask, but here's what I look for every day: I look for meaning, I look for joy and I look for beauty; and I welcome any interaction with people that helps to support that."
In the course of his life's journey, Michael Weiner gave far more than he received. This is his ultimate legacy: The endless line of people who feel enriched for having known him.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

3-year deal for Javier?

That's what Bay Area Sports Guy is reporting -- 3 years for $13 mil. That's a lot of scratch for a guy who mostly is there to get lefties out. 

On the other, pitching is what gets you into the postseason...assuming that there's an alternative to starting Gregor Blanco most of the time. Per a comment on Baseball Think Factory --  One of three pitchers with at least 50 games pitched and an ERA under 3.00 in each of the last four seasons. (The other two: Grant Balfour and teammate Sergio Romo.)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A good deal about Hudson

Dave Cameron of Fangraphs likes the 2-year $23 mil deal for Hudson. 

Tim Hudson, in 2013, looked just like Tim Hudson in nearly any other recent season.
Even more encouraging, Hudson’s strikeout rate bounced back after a decline in 2012, so while he’s still not a big time strikeout guy, that potential indicator of eroding stuff simply doesn’t point in the direction of Hudson getting worse. He’s a strike-throwing ground ball guy who gets the occasional whiff, and that skillset seems to have not changed much at all as he’s gotten older.
That doesn’t mean he won’t get worse over the next two years. In fact, we should expect 38-year-old Hudson to be worse than 37-year-old Hudson, because eventually, skills do start to erode. But Hudson can decline from where he’s been and still be a very effective starting pitcher. Steamer projects Hudson as an above average starting pitcher for next season, expected to accumulate +2.1 WAR in 153 innings pitched. If he stays healthy and gets to something closer to 180, that would put him as something closer to a +2.5 WAR pitcher. He’s not an ace anymore, but he’s the definition of a mid-rotation starter.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Javier Lopez coming back

As with yesterday's Tim Hudson news, the beat reporters on the Giants are saying that the Giants are near a deal with Javier Lopez -- who's damn near unhittable against lefties.

He's one of the guys who pitched on both the 2010 and 2012 World Champs

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tim Hudson in the Orange and Black


All the Bay Area sportswriters -- Henry Schulman, Andrew Baggarly and John Shea -- have been tweeting that the Giants have a deal with Tim Hudson.

He's racked up a WAR of 55 in 15 seasons though it's been three years since he had an excellent year.  

Hudson came in 4th in the 2010 Cy Young voting, which Halladay won.  

Jay Jaffe at Sports Illustrated likes the deal, which is for 2 years and $23 mil. Here's part -- 

he doesn’t need to be the ace of San Francisco’s staff. That job is in the hands of Madison Bumgarner, with hopes that Matt Cain (4.00 ERA in 2013) and Lincecum (4.37) can rediscover at least some semblance of their prior form. There’s no guarantee of that, but the bar for Hudson’s slot is lower given that it’s either former teammate Barry Zito (5.74 ERA last year) or Ryan Vogelsong (5.73) whom he’s replacing as the fourth starter. The team turned down the latter’s $6.5 million option but may still be working toward bringing him back on a multiyear deal at a lower average salary, and it may still look to Arroyo or another outside option to round out the starting five.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Panda and Batkid

I could not resist looking at this video that Deadspin posted. I guarantee enjoyment

In case you're wondering, the Sandoval clip is from May 21, 2013 when they won 4-2 in extras.

What a great time it was -- The Giants were 26-20 at that point and in first place. Four days later, they beat the Rox in extras on an Angel Pagan inside-the-parker. 

They won the next day to go 28-22 with Gregor Blanco starting in center, then lost 3 in a row to Oakland as the season started to go down the tubes. Pagan wasn't back until September. They went 30-52 without him

Friday, November 15, 2013

Vlad in the Orange and Black?

Ten years ago, the Giants decided not to pursue Vlad Guerrero as a free agent, opting instead for mid-priced free agents. They had also let Jeff Kent walk away. Lefty Malo has a good post about "payroll concentration." Here's part of it --

 Reminds me of a story we used to tell our kids, back in the golden age of run production: "Barry Bonds And The Seven Dwarves."

That's mid-'00s slang for the situation the Giants created for themselves, trying to surround the then-mega-salaried Bonds ($18 M a year -- how quaint!) with a cast of solid, workmanlike characters. Or so the Giants tried to convince us. Ray Durham. Michael Tucker. Mike Matheny. Matt Morris. Slap some unwashed chin fuzz on those guys, and hi ho, hi ho, lovable World Champions from Boston.

There was a specific moment, if you could call an offseason a moment, when the BB+7D strategy came under the most scrutiny. After the 2003 season, Vladimir Guerrero was a free agent, and boy, did we want him here in San Francisco. Bonds in left, Vlad in right... Go Giants Go. Even though Vlad had just finished an injury-marred season, he was still awesome when he was on the field. For those of you who only know Vlad from his more-sad-than-comical right field misadventures in the 2010 World Series, please know this instead: for most of his career Vlad Guerrero was a baseball beast. 


 By late 2003, however, the injuries were already a risk, and the Giants shied away from Vlad, or from any other expensive slugger, despite the entreaties of Bonds himself. Head honcho Peter Magowan underscored the strategy the following winter, too:

"It's unlikely you'll see a $14 million player on the Giants next year in addition to Barry Bonds," Magowan said. "That's too much money for two players. I don't think that's going to happen, but I think we'll have opportunities to find good players (who) will help us."
Marquis Grissom. Moises Alou. Omar Vizquel. The Giants found several solid players who did good things. But the win-loss records trump all. Those pre-Lincecum years are looked back upon by Giants fans with as much fondness as the Russians have for the siege of Stalingrad. Jose Castillo, Armando Benitez, and if you were fast enough, a rat for dinner. 

But now? Payroll concentration? Blech. Looks like the Giants were simply ahead of their time.

Scott Cousins can go to hell

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Adios, Mark De Rosa

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Kyle Crick = Matt Cain?

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Yes, THAT Matt Cain

Anthony Castrovince has a long article examining what the Giants need to do for 2014. He makes nice point that Matt Cain should be fine and that the Gmen should spend the bulk of their money improving the offense ..

.
Remember all the fretting about Madison Bumgarner when he flamed out at the end of '12? He became an ace in '13. In his age-23 season, he threw 201 1/3 innings, compiled a 2.77 ERA and struck out 199. He was a bright spot among the bumbles and stumbles.
Matt Cain was one of those guys who stumbled, and maybe that was inevitable given his 2012 workload and his past propensity for inducing a low batting average on balls in play. But after he was done handing out home runs by the handful in the first half of '13, Cain, quietly, more closely resembled the Cain of old in the second half (2.36 ERA in 72 1/3 innings).
Finally, while we have every right to critique the money involved in Lincecum's two-year, $35 million contract (the Giants arguably could have just made him a one-year qualifying offer and crushed his outside market), the sentiment behind it is understandable. This was the deal that demonstrated how far ERA's stock has fallen in the minds of evaluators. Lincecum's expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) mark over the last two years is, according to FanGraphs, aligned with the likes of Mat Latos, Derek Holland and Jon Lester. Lincecum might never be the Cy Young Award winner he once was, but the peripherals tell us he can still be quite good.
All of which leads me to the conclusion that Sabean is better off working on the fringes of free agency, as it pertains to starting pitching, and expending the bulk of his dollars on an offensive upgrade.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Hasta la vista, Javier y Vogey

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Matt Williams makes us proud

Matt Williams was always a fan favorite and it was tough to take when he got traded for Jeff Kent. He's now managing the Nats. Baseball Musings' David Pinto has some good commentary -- 


I like Matt as a player. One of the many thing lost in the 1994 strike was that Matt was on pace to set the National League record for home runs in a season, which at that time stood at 56. He hit 43 home runs in 115 Giants games (he played in 112), which would give him a pace of 60.5 for the season. As we saw with Chris Davis this season, those home runs can dry up quickly, but Williams had a very good shot at the NL record, and a decent chance to catching Maris as well.
He’s the second Williams to manage in Washington. Ted Williams managed the expansion Senators in their final three seasons in the nation’s capitol, then in the first season in Texas. They had a good first year under Ted, then got progressively worse.
It will be interesting to see how Matt handles Ryan Zimmerman. Ryan has trouble throwing. Williams was known for his defense, so maybe he can help correct Ryan’s problems.

He played from 1987 to 1996 for the Orange and Black and had three seasons with better than a 5.0 WAR

He was second in MVP voting in 1994 to Jeff Bagwell. I will always resent Bud Selig for giving up on the season and cancelling the World Series. Bud the Dingbat.  

Sour grapes whine from Southern California

The LA Times is a decent paper -- particular since it dumped idiotic columnist TJ Simers (he sued). Unfortunately, the other main sports columnist is another idiot named Bill Plaschke, who engages in the worst form of sore loserdom by writing a whole column about Boston's David Ortiz being a drug cheater -- contending that since he played so well, he MUST be cheating.

It's no wonder that dodger fans are the most ignorant in MLB, given that their hometown paper supplies them with such drivel. 

Let's start with the headline: "Questions linger...." Uh, yeah, that's because you are raising them. It's a completely sour-grapes whine that's obviously manufactured because your precious dodgers gagged in the NLCS.

It's not enough that you have to act like the dodgers have a divine right to the World Series title. No, you have to smear a guy's reputation, too, with no evidence to back it up. You stay classy, Bill.

Friday, November 01, 2013

A whole big bag of Baggarly comments

MLB Trade Rumors has gone through a live chat with Andrew Baggarly's commentary on who the Good guys may pursue this offseason. Here are some of notable takes; I'm intrigued that Bronson Arroyo may possibly be coming to SF and that Vogelsong will probably stay   -- 

Ryan Vogelsong's $6.5MM option won't be picked up by the Giants but Baggarly thinks the veteran righty will re-sign on a cheaper one-year deal with incentives.
  • There is mutual interest between the Giants and Javier Lopez, and the money saved by declining Vogelsong's option could help the club afford the veteran southpaw.
  • The Giants are "probably not" realistic players for Masahiro Tanaka, as Baggarly figures that his posting price will exceed what the Giants are willing to offer, plus big spenders like the Dodgers and Yankees are in the mix.  Baggarly reported in August that San Francisco had an interest in the Japanese righty.
  • Brandon Belt could be approached about a contract extension in Spring Training but the Giants will just work out a one-year deal in the meantime to cover Belt's first year of arbitration eligibility.  MLBTR's Matt Swartz projects Belt to earn $2.4MM in 2014 and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes suggests that Allen Craig's extension could be a model for a Belt extension, though with some adjustments since Belt is a Super Two player.
  • The Giants are looking only for "reliable innings guys" in their rotation so the likes of Roy Halladay, Tim Hudson and Josh Johnson will only draw the club's interest if they're healthy.
  • Though the Giants are looking for a right-handed power bat and might trade prospects to get one, the club is unlikely to move the likes of Kyle Crick, Edwin Escobar or Adalberto Mejia.
  • When it comes to left field, the Giants may prioritize defense.  Baggarly expects San Francisco to look for a left fielder in a trade rather than free agency.
  • Baggarly hasn't heard Scott Kazmir's name mentioned as a possibility in San Francisco.
  • Mark Trumbo "has his admirers in the [Giants] front office."  While the Angels are known to be willing to move Trumbo for young pitching talent, I'm not sure the Giants are a good trade partner given that they're looking for arms themselves.
  • Given Marco Scutaro's age, Brandon Phillips "makes a lot of sense" for the Giants.  Baggarly makes it clear that he's only speculating, however.  Phillips is rumored to be on the shopping block but Reds GM Walt Jocketty recently denied that he's talked about Phillips with other teams.
  • The Giants are very unlikely to surrender their first round (14th overall) draft pick to sign a free agent who has rejected a qualifying offer.  This could have a major impact on the chances of the team pursuing Bronson Arroyo, who could be extended a qualifying offer by the Reds.  Baggarly feels that Arroyo and Dan Haren are the free agent pitchers who are most likely to be San Francisco targets.
  • Recent Pablo Sandoval trade rumors are "total scuttlebutt," in Baggarly's opinion.