Monday, December 29, 2014

A tribute to Scutaro

Grant Bisbee at McCovey Chronicles has a nice piece about Marco Scutaro, posted on Christmas Eve just after Scutaro underwent spinal fusion surgery. Here's part -- 

It's too early to write a post mortem, but not too early to have a Appreciate Marco Scutaro Day.
The Giants have built a grand tradition of "OH NO OH NO HELP WE NEED A SECOND BASEMAN phew guess we just won the World Series", but Scutaro was the second baseman most directly responsible for a World Series win. Not only did he have the 14 hits in the NLCS, but he had the game-winning RBI in the World Series, too.
(An aside: Do you remember how awful he was outside of the NLCS? Seven hits in 36 at-bats between the Reds and Tigers series. No, you remember him getting 14 danged hits in the NLCS.)
Some players with more plate appearances as a Giant: Manny Trillo, Mark Carreon, Ramon Martinez. Willie McGee has almost twice as many. Those aren't exactly lifelong Giants. Most of them are blips who came and went before we could process it. Yet even though they were all around for longer, it's Scutaro who will forever be a part of Giants lore.
Forget the postseason stuff for a second, or at least pretend to. I like the guy. I really, really enjoyed watching him play baseball, but I also enjoyed his quiet, kid-in-the-back-of-the-class persona. Mind you, it's the kid in the back of the class who makes the most amazing snarky comments once a week. He's funny, charming, and cool. Just a delightful baseball player.

Friday, December 26, 2014

"We don't get to the postseason without him"

That's Bruce Bochy talking about Jake Peavy -- a truly masterful deadline move by the front office. Joe Panik and Jake were the keys to the Giants overcoming their mid-summer swoon.

Chris Haft of mlb.com reports that Peavy could have gotten more than the 2-year $24 mil he's getting to stay in SF...

 

"How could you not, as a professional athlete, want to be a part of what we have here now?" he said rhetorically. "I wanted to be in a situation where I felt I could win. Once you've won, it re-energizes you."
Peavy energized the Giants by winning six of his last seven decisions, accelerating their drive to the National League's second Wild Card berth. He was widely renowned as the season's best Trade Deadline acquisition.
"We don't get to the postseason without him," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Peavy, 33. "I don't think there was a better move in baseball."
Peavy's performance with the Giants offset his 1-9 record with a 4.72 ERA in 20 starts for Boston. Overall, he finished 7-13 with a 3.73 ERA in 32 starts. "I'm going to show up in Spring Training expecting to do even better than I did," Peavy vowed.

Monday, December 22, 2014

A tough 2015 for the Orange and Black

Look, I don't understand a lot of ZIPs projections on Fangraphs, but here's what they say about next year's team. I disagree with their evaluation that Pence is due for a decline because he can't run as fast??? --

Batters
With regard to their field players, San Francisco doesn’t currently feature so much a stars-and-scrubs sort of configuration as they do a Buster-Posey-surrounded-by-roughly-average-players one. Posey is projected by ZiPS not only to record the highest wOBA among Giants hitters by over 20 points but also to play slightly above-average defense at a position that receives the largest positive adjustment in the calculation of WAR.

Of some note, perhaps, is ZiPS’ seeming pessimism regarding Hunter Pence. After averaging five wins per season over the last two years, Pence is forecast to produce only half that figure in 2015. In fact, there’s probably less decline projected for ZiPS than one might think at first glance. Pence, for example, has recorded nearly 1.5 wins due to baserunning alone over the last two years after having posted mostly just average seasons by that measure before that. Even just applying regression here accounts for some of Pence’s seeming decline.
Pitchers
The San Francisco Giants won the 2014 World Series and they did it (ultimately) with a rotation featuring Madison Bumgarner, Tim Hudson, Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong, and Tim Lincecum — plus some combination of Jake Peavy and Yusmeiro Petit. That’s different, however, than suggesting that Bumgarner, Hudson, et al., are necessarily a championship-level rotation. Giants starters accounted for the third-lowest collective WAR among the majors’ 30 clubs in 2014, nor does ZiPS’ 2015 forecast call for much improvement in this regard.

One pitcher of note for 2015 — in particular for how projections might or might not be able to account for his unusual career and lack of arm speed — is right-hander Yusmeiro Petit. He recorded the second-highest WAR among all Giants pitchers in 2014 but also produced an ERA about a run worse than his FIP (a disparity he’s exhibited through his career). ZiPS regards that gap between his ERA and FIP as a real thing, thus rendering Petit’s projection less encouraging than it might otherwise be based on fielding-independent numbers alone.
Bench/Prospects
Neglected in the discussion of San Francisco’s batting core above but also the recipient of an encouraging projection is catcher Andrew Susac. His competence will allow Bruce Bochy to deploy Posey at first base for purposes of rest and against left-handed pitchers. Should recent acquisition Casey McGehee implode entirely, both Matt Duffy and Adam Duvall would appear to be potentially useful alternatives at third base. Among pitchers, right-hander Clayton Blackburn appears to be the most qualified among the Giants’ minor-league pitchers to prevent runs in the majors.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

McGehee says all the right things

Getting to go from Japan in 2013 to Miami in 2014 to the Giants in 2015? I'd be damn happy too. Here's John Shea's post for the SF Chron  

Spoke with Casey McGehee on a conference call and asked him about replacing Pablo Sandoval as the Giants’ third baseman.
“Obviously, Pablo was a tremendous guy. It’s no secret how people in San Francisco feel about him. Great player. I think if there’s any pressure that comes, it’s myself expecting to do my job every night. Pablo and I are different players. I’m not going to do the same things Pablo does. There are some things he does better than I do. There are some things I may do better than he does.  I’d be foolish to think I’ll step into Pablo’s shoes and completely replace him. He’s one of the guys, with what he’s done, who won’t be forgotten or  completely replaced in San Francisco with the amount of success he’s had, especially in the postseason.  My job is to go in and find my niche within the team and pave my own way, not try to pick up where Pablo left off.”
McGehee, 32, is from Santa Cruz County and grew up following the Giants and A’s, recalling the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and saying he idolized Will Clark and Matt Williams.
McGehee, acquired from the Marlins for pitching prospects Kendry Flores and Luis Casillo, is arbitration eligible for the last time and can be a free agent after the 2015 season.
He hit .287 with 76 RBIs but hit just four homers — one off Tim Lincecum in Miami on July 20 – in 160 games. On the conference call, manager Bruce Bochy said he could hit the newcomer fourth, fifth or sixth. He did have 29 doubles and a .355 on-base percentage and said he’d rather play in a park like the Giants’ than a hitters’ park.
“Home runs are fine and good, but I’ll take them when they come,” McGehee said. “My approach is using the middle of the field, keep the line moving, have good quality at-bats and not give away any at-bats, whether it’s a little dribbler to right field for a single or moving runners over, whatever the case might be. Just trying to take what the situation gives me.”
He added:
“Miami, obviously it’s a huge ballpark, not really meant to hit the ball out of the ballpark. AT&T definitely has a reputation for being more pitcher-friendly. I definitely feel comfortable in a ballpark that isn’t set up for hitting that many home runs. I think my approach works better in the bigger ballparks, so I’m looking forward to that.”
McGehee knew he’d be an ex-Marlin once Miami acquired Martin Prado from the Yankees to play third base.  He reached out to his agent and Michael Hill, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations and began imagining playing for another team. He said he secretly was hoping for San Francisco. He learned Friday that he was a Giant.
 ”One team that really jumped off page for me was San Francisco,’ he said. “I didn’t think too far ahead, but I really hoping San Francisco would be it. When I got the call San Francisco was where I was going, there was a little shock, but I was really excited.
“I found myself walking around with a smile on my face. I couldn’t be more happy to not only be in an organization that has had success that lasted awhile but it’s a chance for me to get back home. One of the things I’m most excited about is finally sharing some of my career and journey close to home with family and friends.”

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mighty Casey at third

 OK, I'm being sarcastic.  Casey has put up a 2.6 WAR in six seasons. He did have 76 RBIs last year in Miami on 4 HRs. When was the last time you heard of a starting third baseman with 4 HRs in a season?

Maybe Matt Duffy will be the third base starter by 2016.

The Giants replaced Pablo Sandoval with Casey McGehee and gave up two pitching prospects that  I have not heard of. Hopefully, they won't turn into the second coming of Madison Bumgarner

Chris Haft's story on mlb.com notes that Casey became expendable when the Fish traded for Martin Prado. It sounds like the idiot who owns the Marlins has decided to stop cheaping out for now.

The SF Chronicle's coverage on the deal folds in to their coverage on Jake Peavy. In other words, no one seems very excited by Casey. The Chron says he is not as "dynamic" as Sandoval. He went to Japan in 2013 and did OK last year in Miami....

Maybe this guy will be like David Bell, who played a pretty third base in 2002 for the Giants after getting traded from Seattle for the immortall Desi Relaford. He had 20 HRs and 73 RBIs that year then signed with the Phils.

The Giants then signed Edgardo Alfonzo to play third just in time for his career to go down the tubes.

Peavy back in the Orange and Black

Not a huge surprise but good to see, just the same 

Here's the mlb.com story --

ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweeted that the deal is for two years and Peavy will make $7 million in 2015 and $13 million in 2016. He will receive a $4 million signing bonus and has a full no-trade clause.
The 33-year-old Peavy went 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA in 12 starts for the Giants in 2014 upon being acquired from the Red Sox in a trade on July 26. He saw a second-half resurgence in San Francisco after going 1-9 with a 4.72 ERA in 20 starts for Boston.
The veteran then put up a 1-2 record and a 6.19 ERA in four postseason starts. Peavy's lone win came in Game 1 of the National League Division Series when he blanked the Nationals on two hits over 5 2/3 innings. He went 0-2 with a 12.79 ERA in two World Series starts -- Games 2 and 6. Peavy also was part of the Red Sox team that won the World Series in 2013.
Peavy, who was selected by the Padres in the 15th round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, has compiled a 139-111 record with a 3.53 ERA in 337 starts over his 13-year Major League career with the Padres, White Sox, Red Sox and Giants, winning the NL Cy Young Award in 2007 with the Padres.

Romo back in the Orange and Black

Two years for $15 million for that wacky slider.

Fox Sports is reporting this but it is on the Giants official site. As much as I detest Fox on their political coverage, their sports coverage is respectable.

Romo hit a rough patch this year. I was there when he blew back to back saves in mid-June against the Rox. You figured Ok, maybe he's losing it.

$15 mil says no, he's not...not even the walkoff HR in Game 2 of the NLCS.

I think some guys like staying in the same uniform. And this is a guy who now has three World Series rings.

I believe the other eight are Affeldt, Cain, Lincecum, Bumgarner, Sandoval, Casilla, Posey and Lopez

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Matt Duffy, starting at third?

Chase Headley has signed with the Yanks so rookie Matt Duffy is looking like he might wind up playing third a lot in 2015. MC O'Connor at Raising (Matt) Cain likes him a lot -- so much so that he's sponsoring Matt's Baseball Reference page.

Here's the post --

I really hoped that sprint home with the tying run in Game Two of the NLCS would have resulted in a win and would have become part of Giants lore. Since they lost the game, the moment will fade and come to its resting place in the dustbin of history. But I won't forget! I'm high on Duffy and hope he gets to be the third baseman soon.
Every year I sponsor (on behalf of RMC) a page on Baseball-Reference. I use the site all the time, it's my baseball Wikipedia. Back when Matt Cain was a nobody his page was cheap. Now they want $220. Last year I got Brandon Crawford for, I don't know, $60 or so. This year it is $160! Yikes, too rich for my blood.

So, Matt Duffy it is. Only forty bucks! Makes me feel good to be a part of B-R and it is nice to have the RMC name out there. I hope the price goes up soon as that will mean the former Dirtbag will be climbing the ladder to stardom.

--M.C.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Scott Boras on the Zito comeback

There's a John Shea story from a few days ago about the Giants would like to sign James Shields.

The most interesting part of this is the second half of the story where Scott Boras discusses Zito's comeback....no mention of whether a Giants deal would ever happen again....

Boras spoke of the “Giants formula” and the importance of having three elite pitchers in the same rotation — the Giants want someone to partner with Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain — to provide 45 to 50 wins and 600 innings.
“If you can get that out of your top three starters, you’re in the hunt. The Giants know this formula better than anybody,” Boras said.
“With (Tim) Lincecum leading it in ’10, Cain in ’12 and Bumgarner in ’14, they know the formula. It’s filled stadiums. It’s made them great. When Brian (Sabean) and (Bruce) Bochy sat down with me in 2007, when they acquired (Barry) Zito, to their credit, they told me what their formula was, and they’ve executed it. They really have.”
Meantime, Boras said Zito continues his comeback bid in Houston, where he’s working with pitching instructor Ron Wolforth, who assisted with Scott Kazmir’s comeback. Boras said the plan is for Zito to throw for teams in January with the hope of pitching in the 2015 season.
“He’s been working hard on his mechanics,” Boras said. “He doesn’t cup the ball anymore. His drive to home plate is a little bit different than it was. He has some new mechanical evolutions he’s been working on to really advance what he thinks will be effective.”
Zito, 36, won 15 games with a 4.15 ERA for the 2012 Giants and proved to be a difference maker in the postseason. But he went 5-11 with a 5.75 ERA in 2013 and didn’t pitch in 2014.
Boras insisted a Zito comeback is realistic.
“Remember, when Barry stopped pitching, he could still continue to pitch,” Boras said. “Even at that level, without any improvement, I felt he could still compete. So if he has added strengths and durability and more control, all the better. You’re talking about a guy who has a historic record under his belt.”
Briefly: Bochy said Bumgarner, who threw 270 innings last season, will be monitored closely in spring training. “We may need to lighten up on him a bit,” Bochy said. ... Hector Sanchez is playing winter ball but won’t begin catching until spring training and will be given a chance to prove he recovered from his concussions, Bochy said. Andrew Susac is the expected backup catcher.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Madison Bumgarner, Sportsman of the Year

Sports Illustrated has made the choice already. He's the first Giant ever to win the honor.

Per Henry Schulman's story in the SF chronicle --

Managing editor Chris Stone said those in the mix included Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, golfer Rory McIlroy and Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
Then, October happened, specifically Game 7 of the World Series, and Stone said there was “almost a unanimous consensus” that Bumgarner was their Sportsman of the Year.
“This one was different because it was rather sudden,” Stone said. However, he added, “The decisiveness with which we reached this decision was as decisive as I can remember the selection being, and I’ve been here 22 years and been involved in the process in some form or another in the last 10.”

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Welcome back, Travis Ishikawa

The Giants have signed him to a 1-year $1.1 million deal, which shows that some home runs are a little more valuable than others, according to McCover chronicles...


Let's inspect the Giants' bench plans. Andrew Susac is a lock, apparently, and I'd be surprised if Matt Duffy didn't reprise his role as a utility guy. Joaquin Arias has guaranteed cash, and there will need to be a backup center fielder if Gregor Blanco isn't on the bench.
That means Ishikawa is the first lefty off the bench, the power hitter sent up against the right-handed closer with two on and a three-run deficit.
Upon closer inspection, I'm okay with that. While I kept harping on the fact that Brandon Belt is a lefty, so he should have a righty behind him, it's not like the Giants are going to platoon him. And on the days Belt sits, Buster Posey was going to play first, anyway. They had a little freedom with their backup first baseman, then.
Is he the best possible fit? Dunno. Steamer doesn't hate him, and it's not like the Giants were going to find Matt Stairs in his prime to come off the bench. He has a little power, which is the primary qualification for the role, and he'll get standing ovations for the first month or two. It's possible there was a better fit -- still a fan of my Ryan Doumit idea, which would allow Susac to pinch-hit more -- but we're arguing about which Mad About You episode was the 34th best at this point. It's not worth it on so many levels.
Travis Ishikawa hit a million-dollar dinger, everyone. Good for him. Good for us. Good for everybody! Everybody except the Cardinals, which we're all okay with.

Why not Chase Headley?

David Pinto at Baseball Musings thinks he's a bargain at a 4-year $65 million deal...

Should we be surprised that Chase Headley‘s value shot up in an off-season chock full of big money contracts? If we take a weighted average of his WAR for the last three seasons, we get an average of 4.6 fWAR and 4.1 rWAR. Let’s call it 4.3 WAR. Since he’s over 30, we’ll figure in a 10% decline each of the next four seasons, for an expected total in that time of 13.3 WAR. Since a single WAR seems to be valued at $7 million this off-season, he should be worth $93 million over four years. So if a team can pick him up for $65 million, he’s a steal. At that price, he would be a great pickup for the Giants, who know him well since they play quite a bit against the Padres.
There’s plenty of room for the bidding to go higher.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Madison Bumgarner's October 2014

Lefty Malo makes the argument that it was the greatest single month by a pitcher

OK, it's a little stat-intensive but it's a good read anyhow

The basic numbers -- 52 and 2/3 innings, 45 Ks, 6 walks, 1.03 ERA

Here are the comparisons --

- Curt Schilling, 2001. Click through for the totals. I'll summarize them here: Better K/9 rate than Bumgarner. Same AVG against. Similar WHIP. Schilling might get the slightest nod because he was pitching in a hitter-friendly era, and four of his six games were in Arizona, a hitter-friendly venue.

-- Josh Beckett, 2003. He threw 42.2 mostly excellent innings, with a short-rest relief appearance in the NLCS and a short-rest shutout to clinch the World Series. In a hitter's era, too. Like Schilling, the K rate is better than Bum. More baserunners, though. If it weren't for one bad start in the NLCS, it could've been the best postseason ever for a pitcher.

-- Orel Hershiser, 1988. His playoff run was a lot like his scoreless regular-season streak: More balls in play than you'd expect, and nearly a baserunner an inning. That sinker was world-class, folks.

-- Randy Johnson, 2001. No question he and Schilling were the best teammate playoff combo ever. And his game-by-game stats were filthy. But at 11 innings fewer than Bum, we're at the far edge of comparable, I reckon.

Honorable mention: Deacon Phillippe threw 44 innings in the 1903 postseason---which happened to be all five World Series games for his Pirates, all within 13 days.

Headley in the Orange and Black?

 No mention of Matt Duffy in this evaluation of the club needs. For me, he's intriguing in that he showed some aptitude as an MLB hitter by going 16 for 64.


There was some Twittering yesterday and today about Headley...

Chase Headley may be the big addition to the Giants during winter if they cant' get Jon Lester. Chris Haft of mlb.com has this nice round-up on the team site....

Club needs
Rotation: It's difficult to believe that a team that has relied on its rotation for most of the last six seasons urgently needs at least one reliable starter to complement postseason hero Madison Bumgarner. But questions and doubts surround the rest of the staff given Matt Cain's elbow surgery, Tim Lincecum's inconsistency and Tim Hudson's age (40 next July).
The Giants will quickly begin a vigorous effort to woo another free-agent starter -- Max Scherzer? James Shields? Aaron Harang? -- if Lester signs elsewhere.
Third base: The Giants know they're going to miss Sandoval, who hit dynamically (if not always consistently) and improved enough defensively to become a Gold Glove candidate. And they know they can't replace him, so a reasonable facsimile might suffice. If the Giants don't sign free agent Chase Headley, they might look at trade alternatives and go for the Angels' David Freese, the Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman or the Reds' Todd Frazier. None of them, however, would be easy to acquire.
Left field: The Giants have employed a different Opening Day left fielder in each of the past seven seasons, so change at this spot is anticipated. Having seen glimpses of effective offense from Gregor Blanco, Travis Ishikawa and Juan Perez in 2014, the Giants just might try a platoon if they cannot obtain a player who would be a clear upgrade. Blanco and Ishikawa could divide playing time against right-handed pitchers, with Perez facing left-handers.
Third-base coach: Don't laugh. Tim Flannery, who recently announced his retirement, did much more than signal strategies to hitters and wave home runners chugging toward third. Flannery provided astute bunting instruction and helped first-base coach Roberto Kelly tutor players in baserunning. Since most or all of the organization's key figures will be in San Diego for the Meetings, this will be as good a time as any to evaluate the numerous candidates, all of whom likely will come from within the organization.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Lester is the guy for now

I know the Giants want Jon Lester because they've got a story on their official web site about him

I'd bet he'd go back to the Bosox though just for the familiarity

Just don't sign with the LOSER dodgers, OK?

Here's the top of the mlb.com story, which essentially says "watch this space"  --

BOSTON -- Jon Lester is approaching the final round of contract negotiations with multiple teams, and the left-hander could sign a deal before the week is out. However, there is no guarantee that will happen, and also no deadline, a source told MLB.com.
There's at least a chance it will be several more days -- perhaps even a week -- until Lester chooses his next club. The Red Sox, Cubs and Giants have appeared to be the top suitors, but WEEI.com, the website for a Boston sports radio network, cited "multiple sources connected to teams interested in Lester" indicating the Dodgers had entered the bidding for the left-hander's services. At this point, the situation remains fluid and hard to predict.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Ishikawa back in the Orange and Black?

 Travis did drive in SEVEN runs in the NLCS.



Chris Haft of mlb,com does a good analysis of whether Travis -- he of the walkoff winning HR in the NLCS this year year -- will be back....

Primarily a first baseman, Ishikawa played left field through much of the postseason, responding to an opportunity presented him by manager Bruce Bochy. The left-handed swinger also batted .333 (7-for-21) as a pinch-hitter.
"I think he fills a few more roles going forward from here and I think that's one of the reasons the Giants would have interest in bringing him back," Ishikawa's agent, Jim McDowell, said Monday.
McDowell also said that the Giants had not hinted what action they would take with Ishikawa.
"We know how that goes," McDowell said. "Stuff could happen today or tomorrow that could impact that and therefore we don't know. I think that he's a viable guy, even from a trade standpoint, where it might not make sense to non-tender a guy like that."
Giants assistant general manager Bobby Evans withheld comment on non-tender-related matters, indicating he would speak more after Tuesday's deadline.
Five arbitration-eligible Giants likely will be tendered contracts: outfielder Gregor Blanco, right-hander Yusmeiro Petit, first baseman Brandon Belt, shortstop Brandon Crawford and catcher Hector Sanchez.