Sunday, December 31, 2017

ALEN HANSEN IN THE ORANGE AND BLACK ???

Grant Bisbee of McCovey Chronicles notes that he's been signed to a deal. Hansen has the tools but can't hit MLB pitching

Perhaps now that Bam Bam Meulens isn't the hitting coach will help this guy. I have not been able to figure out why Bam still has a job.

Here's part --

Seven hundred and thirty-two years ago, when last season started, the Giants had a stockpile of utility infielders. Do you remember Aaron Hill? Sure you do, but how about Jimmy Rollins, Jae-gyun Hwang, and Gordon Beckham? What about Orlando Calixte and Juniel Querecuto? Ramiro Peña? You forgot at least one of those players was signed or re-signed by the Giants last offseason, admit it.
This comes up now because the Giants are at it again. They’re acquiring all of the utility infielders.
The most impressive pedigree belongs to Alen Hanson, a 25-year-old infielder-outfielder who was a top-100 prospect as recently as 2015, according to Major League Baseball. He’s a career .281/.340/.435 hitter, and his 205 career stolen bases is a testament to his well above-average speed. Here’s what Baseball America had to say about him after last season, when they ranked him #19 in the Pirates’ system:
Hanson has been unable to convert his considerable tools into consistent production, though his athleticism still makes him intriguing as a potentially valuable bench piece. The switch-hitter is wiry strong and can hit the occasional home run, and he also has outstanding speed that makes him a threat on the bases. However, he does not always make solid contact. Hanson is not a strong defender and his attitude was questionable earlier in his career. However, he has embraced learning multiple positions.
Tools! Hansen spent a plurality of his time in right field last year, but he also played center, second, and third in the majors with the Pirates and White Sox. He also hit .221/.262/.346, which is slightly horrible, but a switch-hitter with this much speed, versatility, and pop will always get extended looks from teams looking to fill out their bench. He’s almost exactly a year older than Chris Shaw, for perspective.
He won’t be alone in The Fight to Unseat Kelby Tomlinson, though, as Josh Rutledge also signed a minor-league deal with the Giants. The 28-year-old former Rockie and Red Sock has over 1,200 major league plate appearances and a career 80 OPS+ (.258/.310/.384). Rutledge has a career .314/.371/.483 line in the minors, which is impressive, even when considering some of that time was spent in Colorado Springs. He played mostly second and third last year for the Red Sox, though he has extensive shortstop experience in the minors, too.
Chase d’Arnaud also signed a minor-league deal with the Giants according to Jacob Resnick of Mets Minors, which allows us to invoke the Rule of Three and consider this to be a flurry of offseason utility-infielder activity. d’Arnaud has 499 career major league at-bats with the Red Sox, Padres, Pirates, Braves, and Phillies, and a career .263/.333/.386 minor league line, though his .297/.363/.424 line in 194 Triple-A plate appearances last year was a bit more promising.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Austin Jackson in the Orange and Black

That's who Grant Bisbee wants the Giants to sign for centerfield, now that Denard Span has been traded with two prospects to Tampa Bay for Evan Longoria.

Here's the post --

 

With the creative shuffling that came with the Evan Longoria trade, the Giants still have enough money this offseason to make one more substantial transaction and get under the luxury tax threshold. They can trade for Andrew McCutchen or sign Jay Bruce or do something we haven’t even considered yet, like swoop on Yoenis Cespedes. They have options.
But they can start by doing something unexciting and eliminating one of their biggest holes at the same time. They can sign Austin Jackson, center fielder, to a short-term deal, and then they can attack the rest of the offseason. I’ve studied all of the players available for a while, and I’m pretty sure this is the correct answer.
I’ll take some questions from the audience.
Who is Austin Jackson?
He’s a right-handed center fielder with some power and defensive skills. Even though he had a rebound season last year (.318/.387/.482 in 318 plate appearances for the Indians), he shouldn’t be too expensive.
Check off all the boxes that interest the Giants:
  • right-handed
  • solid defense
  • a touch of power
  • coming off a very strong season
  • much cheaper than Lorenzo Cain
  • probably even a little cheaper than Jarrod Dyson
  • a free agent who won’t cost prospects or draft picks
  • would allow the Giants to bring Steven Duggar along at their preferred pace
  • won’t be on a contract that would prevent him from sliding into a fourth-outfielder role if Duggar is ready soon
No, Jackson isn’t an All-Star, but this all assumes that his contract would allow the Giants to still get an All-Star for the remaining outfield spot, too. As long as he isn’t getting $7 million a year, he’s just about the perfect fit.
Didn’t Jackson used to be bad, and isn’t there the risk that he’s bad again?
Not really. Before his mini-renaissance last year, Jackson hit .260/.311/.361 in 1,386 plate appearances from 2014 through 2016. His defense wasn’t Gold Glove-caliber, so that added up to a player who was worth about 1 WAR every season, on average. That’s a solid player.
Before that, though, he was a coveted almost-star, someone who could hit .300, lead the league in triples, and play jaw dropping defense. He had four years at that level before he dipped, and he was one of the more underrated and exciting players in baseball.
Last year’s renaissance didn’t come out of nowhere, in other words. It’s possible that his bat is coming around again.
If that’s the case, why won’t he make all sorts of money this offseason?
To be honest, I have no idea what his market is. I’m just guessing. He made $1.5 million as a part-time outfielder last year, and he might want to make $8 million as a starting outfielder.
But I’m looking through a list of teams who might want a new starting center fielder, and I’m getting this:
  • Giants
  • White Sox
  • Indians
  • Royals
  • A’s
  • Rangers
  • Brewers
Some of those teams have plans in place, like the Indians with Bradley Zimmer or the Rangers with Delino DeShields, Jr., and it’s hard to imagine any of them giving a substantial deal to Jackson to make him their unquestioned starter. Which means that they might have interest in him the same way that the Giants do, as a starter who needs to look over his shoulder constantly.
Of those teams, though, the Giants offer the best immediate opportunity to start. And those other teams could also explore players like Dyson and Jon Jay, as well as any number of left-handed hitters who wouldn’t fit the Giants’ platonic ideal.
I’m sold. Where is the petition?
There is a slight problem of Jackson being an individual with free will. He might not want to come to the Giants. He might prefer to be a fourth outfielder on a pennant contender like the Indians. Or he might take a one-year deal in a place like Texas to see if he can keep his numbers up and hit the market next year with even more momentum. It isn’t just a matter of the Giants selecting the Austin Jackson option on their next DoorDash order.
However, if Jackson were open to playing for the Giants, it really does make a lot of sense for everyone involved. The Giants would get better for next year; Jackson would have a chance to get 500 at-bats. Duggar could show up in the middle of his season if his play demands it, or he could take his time if he struggles offensively. The Giants wouldn’t give up prospects in a trade for Billy Hamilton or Adam Jones, and they would still have money to address the remaining hole in the lineup.
This is all null and void if Jackson is more expensive than I’m giving him credit for, and that’s fine. But assuming the market isn’t white-hot for him, he’s just about the perfect fit. While I’m okay with the Giants taking their time to see where the market goes, I’m also hoping they do this very specific thing.
The Giants should sign Austin Jackson and continue to address their lineup with their remaining payroll room. I don’t not believe in this team’s ability to improve substantially, somehow. This would help.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Jay Bruce in the Orange and Black

Chris Haft of mlb.com believes the Giants are the best fit for Jay Bruce as a free agent signing

The story is on the Giants home page. That's a sign that it's not a longshot

He's a solid player with 18.9 WAR in 10 seasons but the Giants would have to give at least 4 years. He's already 30. Here's the top --


SAN FRANCISCO -- At least one more major move seemed possible for the Giants following Wednesday's acquisition of Evan Longoria from Tampa Bay.
They appeared to be the favorites to sign Jay Bruce, who's among the top outfielders available in free agency.
Matt Sosnick, the agent representing Bruce, spoke candidly about the Giants' chances of forging a deal with his client.
"I think it works out as a perfect fit for the Giants, and we have to figure out the lay of the land, whether it works for the Giants and if it works for us," Sosnick said Wednesday on KNBR-AM, the Giants' flagship radio station. "I think if Jay ended up in San Francisco, he'd be thrilled."
Sosnick explained that after negotiations on Bruce's behalf with Houston unraveled, they focused on the Giants, who are intent on upgrading their offense. San Francisco ranked last in the Major Leagues in homers (128) and slugging (.380) and next-to-last in runs (639) and on-base percentage (.309) last season.
Bruce, 30, has exceeded 20 homers in nine of his 10 seasons and amassed a career-high 36 in 2017 with the Mets and Indians. His lifetime slash line of .249/.319/.472 is garnished by 277 homers and 838 RBIs.
A left-handed batter, Bruce has thrived at AT&T Park, where he has hit .293/.357/.526 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs in 130 plate appearances.
Bruce, whose 2017 salary was $13 million, likely could command a four-year contract from any of the five or six teams he's considering.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Longoria in the Orange and Black

I guess the Giants aren't counting on Pablo Sandoval for much of anything any more. They traded Christian Arroyo for Evan Longoria. That's a big deal but Grant Bisbee at McCovey Chronicles wonders if the Giants have any shot at all, given how awful the team was in 2017.....

Here is most of it ---

Here are the things that need to happen for the Giants to be a good team next year: Buster Posey needs to figure out how to hit for power in the second half; Brandon Belt needs to come back whole from his concussion; Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford have to rebound from disappointing 2017 seasons; the team has to find three major league caliber outfielders out of Hunter Pence, the big ticket free agent they’ll sign, whatever center fielder they scrounge up, and a gaggle of minor leaguers who spent all of 2017 not proving themselves; Madison Bumgarner needs to pitch a full season where he’s more effective than he was in 2017; Johnny Cueto needs to not only not get blisters but vastly improve on the way he pitched in 2017 even when he got over the blister problem; Jeff Samardzija needs to stop giving up so many homers; two young starters have to step up and pitch like decent major leaguers for a whole season; and the team needs huge improvements from just about every spot in the bullpen. That’s all before we get to betting on Longoria both staying healthy and performing like the player he was a few years ago instead of his 2017 being characteristic of the player he is now.


It’s every position. Every position needs to improve, and even if that happens, the team will still be fighting for a wild card spot because the Dodgers are so far ahead of them. You can quibble if you want and say that really, they could afford for 3 of those things to not happen and still be a playoff contender, but even if everything goes right, this is a team with a razor thin margin of error, and it’s pretty ridiculous to assume that everything will go right. There are injuries. There are surprise players on other teams who Giants pitching has absolutely no way to get out. One of these years, Buster Posey’s going to be an All-Star but in that Derek Jeter way where you’re like, “This is really for what he did a few years ago but I’ll take it.” That’s all coming.
And none of it happening this year is what the Giants are betting on. That’s what they’re giving up resources for. That’s what they’re losing Christian Arroyo (and Stephen Woods and Matt Krook) for, and that’s what they’re going to lose a bunch of money for when they overpay Jay Bruce (or whoever) to play the outfield. No, Arroyo is not a sure thing. But betting on him to be cheap and good when Johnny Cueto’s in Year 5 of his deal is a much smarter bet than betting on Evan Longoria to be good tomorrow.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Adios, Matt Moore

The Giants unloaded Matt Moore and his $9 million salary on the Rangers for two prospects. I guess they want to sign a hitter. Moore was absolutely terrible last year.

Here's what Grant Bisbee wrote at McCovey Chronicles:




The Giants traded Matt Moore and $750,000 in international bonus money to the Texas Rangers on Friday, receiving minor-league right-handers Sam Wolff and Israel Cruz. The deal is pending a physical.
While the idea of two minor-league pitchers is interesting, they’re unlikely to be prospects anywhere close to the top of the Rangers’ system. This deal was more about shedding Moore’s $9 million salary in the Giants’ continuing efforts to stay below the competitive balance tax. They were approximately $16 million below the tax before this deal, and this would allow them to afford a free agent hitter and still have some flexibility to make an additional move*.
* One caveat is that while Moore’s salary was $9 million, the average annual value of his current deal is at $4.25 million, and AAV (plus benefits) is how salaries are calculated for the competitive balance tax. But I wouldn’t expect them to trade Moore for that small amount of salary relief, so I’m clearly missing something. Still, hold off on assuming the Giants have exactly $9 million more to spend.
Moore’s 2016 season ended with him pitching brilliantly in the NLDS, and he wasn’t able to come close to that sort of outing in 2017, which was easily his worst in the majors. Moore led the National League in losses and earned runs, and while he still has a lively fastball and solid breaking stuff, his command was a continuing problem. I was looking forward to him turning it around next year, but that’s because I’m an overly optimistic fool who never learns. As is, the Giants preferred to have the additional payroll space to add a hitter, and that makes sense.
Who takes Moore’s spot in the rotation is an open question. Chris Stratton was likely the de facto fifth starter after his strong finish last year, which leaves Ty Blach, Tyler Beede, and Andrew Suarez as possibilities. There’s also a chance that the Giants will swoop in at the end of the offseason and nab a low-cost starting pitcher who’s been left behind. R.A. Dickey would be at least a little fun, but I could also see the Giants grabbing a boring-if-reasonable option like Ricky Nolasco or Hector Santiago in February. 


As a reminder: Matt Duffy didn’t appear in a single game for the Rays last year, so don’t scream about the Giants getting jobbed in the trade on his account. If you want to get mad, get mad that Lucius Fox is coming into his own as a prospect and he was the reason why the Giants weren’t able to offer Shohei Ohtani or any other international prospect more than $300,000. That was the real bummer of the deal, in retrospect.
Still, the Giants are getting two prospects back, so let’s hope one of them is the Rangers’ version of Luis Castillo, a low-level guy who unexpectedly blows up and becomes one of the better prospects in baseball after being included as a throw-in.
Israel Cruz is a 20-year-old right-hander who spent time starting and relieving for the Rangers’ rookie-league team. He threw 32 innings, striking out 42 batters and walking 16. He was the 30th-ranked prospect for them in 2015, and here’s how he was described during the 2016 season by Ben Badler of Baseball America:
Another guy to keep an eye on that I’m sure most people don’t know is Israel Cruz, a teenage pitcher who pitched in the DSL last year. Nice $30,000 signing who could follow in the mold of Jonathan Hernandez as an athletic, skinny, quick-armed pitcher with a good fastball.
Sam Wolff is a 26-year-old right-hander who converted to relief last year. He struck out 12.3 batters per nine innings between Double-A and Triple-A last year, though he also walked four batters per nine. He had flexor tendon surgery recently, and he’s likely sidelined until next May or June. He’s touched 100 mph in the past, and if you want to pretend like you can evaluate a player from one YouTube video, we have a lot in common!


Chris Shaw Staying in SF

Bruce Bochy gave an interview saying that the team should be ticked off about the 2017 season, which looks like we fans are going to have to get used to Chris Shaw in left rather than Giancarlo Stanton.

He's a big guy at 6-foot-4. Here's what MLB.com says --


Shaw established himself as the best college power hitter available in the 2015 Draft, leading the Cape Cod League with eight homers the prior summer and then hitting 11 in 40 games as a junior despite breaking the hamate bone in his right hand. After signing for $1.4 million as the 31st overall pick, he paced the short-season Northwest League in homers (12) and slugging (.551) during his pro debut. He struggled when he reached Double-A in mid-2016, but he made adjustments and hit well there and in Triple-A this year.
Shaw's big 6-foot-4 frame gives him a lot of strength and leverage, and he uses it to crush balls to all fields. His left-handed swing naturally gets long because of his size, so he probably won't hit for a high average, but he doesn't swing and miss excessively for a masher. He ran into trouble when he first got to Double-A when he expanded his strike zone, then showed more discipline in his return in 2017.
While he has a strong arm, Shaw's lack of speed limits his defensive value. After spending most of his time at Boston College in right field, he spent his first two pro seasons in first base and worked hard to become an adequate defender. With Brandon Belt ensconced in San Francisco, the Giants have played Shaw mostly in left field this year, but he doesn't have much range.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Guessing at the Stanton deal

Grant Bisbee of McCovey Chronicles says the most likely components of a Stanton deal are 1. taking on at least $250 million of his contract (99%); 2. Denard Span (85%); 3. Heliot Ramos (80%); 4. Chris Shaw (70%); 5. Tyler Beede (60%). He says there's little chance (10%) that Joe Panik will be traded. 

Here's part --


The Giants taking at least $250 million of Giancarlo Stanton’s contract: ~99%

This is the only reason the Giants are in the discussion. Their farm system is at least in the bottom-third of baseball, if not closer to the very bottom. One of the worst parts about 2017, other than all of the worst parts, was that there were comically few breakthroughs and positive developments in the minor leagues. For every Chris Shaw, who seemingly took a step forward, it felt like there were six steps backward.
No, the Giants are finalists because they’re willing to give the Marlins what they really want: financial relief.

The minor league field - 95%

These are the one or two prospects we haven’t heard a rumor about yet, the ones the Marlins’ scouts have taken a liking to. This is how the Giants ended up with Casey McGehee and the Marlins ended up with Luis Castillo. It’s how the Reds ended up with Adam Duvall. More importantly, this is how most deals get consummated without prospects that we remember
I was really optimistic about Felix Diaz and his changeup, everybody.
The Marlins and Giants have probably agreed on at least one name like Aramis Garcia, C.J. Hinojosa, or Garrett Williams. I’m not saying it’s one of those three, but that it’s one or two of the names below Heliot Ramos on this list.

Denard Span - 85%

Don’t laugh. It’s an accepted conclusion that even the Giants will get some money back, at least, but if they get $15 million in cash to apply to Stanton’s contract, that lowers their luxury tax figure by only $1.5 million every year. If they trade Span, they get that same tax figure lowered by about $10.3 million (the average of Span’s contract) this year, which is what they’re explicitly worried about.
Moving Span would help the Giants a ton, and the only hit to the Marlins is that they would have to pay this money in 2018 instead of spread it out over a decade. It’s either Span or Hunter Pence who makes sense in this scenario, and only one of them isn’t a fan favorite with a no-trade clause.

Heliot Ramos - 80%

I can’t see the Marlins not holding out for the Giants’ most desirable prospect. I can’t see the Giants moving on from Stanton in order to save him. The upside for a team with few prospects is that they don’t have to lose a lot of young players they’ll truly miss. The downside is that when they have one of those players, the other team can zero in on him quickly and not let go.
If the Giants are really serious about ending this competition early — and even though it feels like it’s been six months, it really is still early — they’ll have to part with at least one potential future star. This is the only one the Giants have to offer.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Stanton homers in SF

Fangraphs estimates that Giancarlo Stanton would still hit about 59 homers if he were playing all his games in San Francisco.

Here is part --

 

In San Francisco, Stanton might haved gained one or two, but lost two to three. It's iterestingly become the one place in baseball where the home run surge hasn't arrived, and while that's in some part due to the composition of the Giants' roster, it's also due to the fact that the ballpark on the water doesn't seem to be conducive to power. We'll admit upfront that we're just transferring Stanton's hits here, not adjusting for wind.
Still, "Triples Alley" in right-center field, 421 feet away with a 25 foot fence, might cost Stanton a home run or two. This June home run off Jacob Turner was projected at 398 feet and just barely cleared the 392 sign on the fence in Miami; it's probably extra bases in San Francisco (it had a 95 percent hit probability), but almost certainly doesn't clear the fence.