Monday, December 31, 2018

The Giants Needs for 2019

MLB.com's Maria Guardado explains that the outfield is the biggest unmet need, followed by the starting rotation and a backup catcher

The final months of 2018 brought significant changes to the Giants, and the shifting order figures to expand in 2019, which will mark the team's first full year under new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi.
Zaidi has already begun putting his stamp on the Giants by bringing in a trio of front-office hires -- J.P. Ricciardi, Zack Minasian and Michael Holmes -- and improving the overall depth of the roster with the additions of outfielder Mike Gerber and two Rule 5 Draft picks, left-handed reliever Travis Bergen and outfielder Drew Ferguson.
But plenty of work remains for Zaidi, who is tasked with steering the Giants back toward contention following two consecutive losing seasons. Here's a look at three areas Zaidi will need to upgrade before the Giants head to Scottsdale for Spring Training:
1. Outfield
The Giants' biggest positional need remains unchanged, as they're still thin in the outfield, where they're hoping to add experience and offense this offseason. Steven Duggar, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Chris Shaw, Gerber and Ferguson comprise the Giants' current crop of outfielders, but Zaidi has said he'd like to make at least two more acquisitions on that front. Former Giant Andrew McCutchen and Michael Brantley are among the free agents who have come off the board in recent weeks, though superstar Bryce Harper remains available. The Giants have also reportedly inquired about Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar.

Hot Stove Tracker
2. Rotation
The pitching staff is another area of focus for the Giants, who are interested in bolstering their depth behind ace Madison Bumgarner. Johnny Cueto is expected to miss most, if not all, of next season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, and it's unclear what Jeff Samardzija will be able to contribute following a season marred by right shoulder issues. Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez emerged as two of the biggest surprises of the 2018 campaign, but Zaidi has said he's considering starting the young pitchers in the bullpen or in the Minors to help manage their workloads in 2019.

The Giants could seek to stabilize their rotation by re-signing Derek Holland or pursuing Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, but if they're unable to land an impact arm, they could simply stick with their present group and experiment with deploying their pitchers in more innovative ways, including piggybacking starters and using openers.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Remebering Stretch

A nice piece by Jay Jaffe at Fangraphs. Here is how it starts:

Unlike Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, who retired after the 1973 and -76 seasons, respectively, Willie McCovey was still playing in 1978, which means that I was old enough to see the tail end of his career, and to have more than an inkling of his significance. My father and grandfather, lifelong Dodgers fans, spoke with a mixture of awe and “ohhhh” regarding the towering slugger nicknamed “Stretch,” while my eight-year-old brain marveled at the back of his 1978 Topps card, which required a different, smaller font than the standard cards in order to contain every season, and every home run — 493 of them, 92 more than any other player in the set — of a career that stretched back to 1959. McCovey was power-hitting royalty, with a regal bearing and a uniform number (44) that linked him both to Aaron, whose home run heroics I’d already read about, and Reggie Jackson, whose exploits I’d seen on television.

AND HERE'S THE END --

The Giants honored McCovey by retiring his No. 44 and establishing the Willie Mac Award, given to the team’s most inspirational player as chosen by his teammates, and presented by McCovey during the season’s final homestand. The team kept him in the fold, first as a spring-training instructor, then as a special assistant to the general manager, and for the last 18 years of his life, as a senior advisor. Most of that latter period, alas, was spent in a wheelchair, the result of innumerable knee and back surgeries. A 2014 infection nearly killed him and led to the removal of all of the hardware in his knees. Through it all, he remained an upbeat presence, able to share in the joy of the Giants’ 2010, 2012, and 2014 championships and to serve as an ambassador for the team and the city.
With a couple leaguewide homer spikes now standing between McCovey’s retirement and the present, the former Giant is now tied for 20th on the all-time list, not only with Williams but also Frank Thomas. His total of 18 grand slams remains an NL record and is tied for fourth all-time. One can only wonder how many more home runs he might have hit while playing in a more hitter-friendly park than Candlestick (where his 236 homers were the most all-time), or in a more hitter-friendly era than the 1960s, or without Cepeda crowding his playing time, on two good knees. Six hundred homers doesn’t seem far-fetched.
Adjusted for park and league, he does still stand out, emphatically. Among players with at least 7,000 plate appearances, his 145 wRC+ is in a virtual tie for 39th with fellow Hall of Famers Elmer Flick, Willie Stargell, and Jim Thome. By our measure, his 67.4 WAR ranks 74th. Via Baseball-Reference’s version of WAR, he’s 14th among first basemen with 64.5 career WAR, 13th with a seven-year peak of 44.9, and 13th in JAWS at 54.7, matching the average for enshrined first basemen. He received 81.4% on his first appearance on the ballot in 1986, the sole player elected by the writers that year.
While the numbers testify to his greatness and his ferocious power, they only hint at the extent to which the gentle Giant was beloved by fans throughout the baseball world. This one will never forget having seen his swing, or crossed his path.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Travis Bergen in the Orange and Black

 He's a reliever and only costs $100,000 as a rule 5 draft pick. They also picked up outfielder Drew Ferguson. Farhan Zaidi has gone slow in the first five weeks of his job. I'm OK with that.

Yes, I copied this off the SF Giants web site

LAS VEGAS -- Earlier this week, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi joked that the team had enough vacancies on its 40-man roster to "take four or five guys" during the Rule 5 Draft.
The Giants were certainly more active than expected on Thursday, selecting left-handed reliever Travis Bergen from the Blue Jays and outfielder Drew Ferguson from the Astros during the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. Assistant general manager Jeremy Shelley, who has worked for the Giants since 1994, said he couldn't personally recall another instance in which the club made more than one pick during the Rule 5 Draft.
"We feel like between the center fielder and the left-handed reliever, you got two premium position-type guys," Shelley said before departing the Winter Meetings. "You're just looking to improve the overall depth of the roster. I think that's the biggest thing. With two picks, I think we accomplished that here in the draft."
Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000. Bergen and Ferguson will both be in big league camp during Spring Training and will be given the opportunity to compete for jobs.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Adios Hunter Strickland

The guy who gave could not keep his temper is gone.

Here's Chris Haft's story:

Demonstrating that Farhan Zaidi, the Giants' new president of baseball operations, won't stand for the status quo, the club announced Friday that it had declined to offer 2019 contracts to outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and right-hander Hunter Strickland.
Hernandez and Strickland became free agents.
The Giants also announced that second baseman Joe Panik and right-hander Sam Dyson signed one-year contracts. According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network and FanRag Sports Network, Panik and Dyson signed for $3.8 million and $5 million, respectively.
Left-hander Will Smith was tendered a contract and is thus considered signed for 2019.
Utility man Chase d'Arnaud also was not tendered a 2019 contract and became a free agent.
Neither Hernandez (2018 salary: $561,500) nor Strickland ($1.55 million) would have commanded exorbitant salaries, but the Giants' refusal to retain the pair reflects the team's determination to upgrade the outfield and bullpen.
San Francisco's well-documented offensive shortcomings directly reflected its lack of a productive outfield. Among the National League's 15 teams, the Giants ranked 10th in team batting average (.239) and 14th in runs per game (3.72), on-base percentage (.300), slugging percentage (.368), OPS (.667), home runs (133) and extra-base hits (418).
Hernandez amassed 15 home runs last season after hitting zero in 348 plate appearances in 2017. However, he hit .162 after the 2018 All-Star break, compared to .277 in the first half.
Strickland tied Smith for the team lead with 14 saves but might have sealed his fate when he punched a door after squandering a save opportunity June 18 against Miami. He broke his pitching hand and missed 50 games. Strickland's ERA was 2.84 before the incident and 6.59 afterward.
The Giants apparently maintained faith in Panik, a 2015 All-Star and '16 Gold Glove Award winner. Thumb and groin injuries limited him to a .254 batting average this year.
Dyson, meanwhile, inspired enough confidence to appear in a team-high 74 games of relief.