Nice analysis, but I think the Giants aren’t done and will get another bat.
If Pablo and Buster hit like they can the Giants will have a much better offense, and remember this is Huff’s good year after a bad one.
Comment by Hurtlockertwo — December 20, 2011 @ 1:34 pm
This article gets it.
Comment by jp_on_rye — December 20, 2011 @ 1:37 pm
Good commentary Wendy. You’re absolutely right about 3 contracts crippling our offseason moves…well, that and the looming contracts of two pitchers whose best years are probably sitting behind us.
But from where I sit (which is two blocks from AT&T Park), the most frustrating part of this offseason has to do with the ownership group. First off, I understand that $140M isn’t chump change…we’re a lucky team in that we’ve got a lot of to (hypothetically?) spend. But the last two years have been incredibly good to the team. To paraphrase from the McCovey Chronicles, we’re sitting on an 81 game sellout streak, have a huge cable deal with great ratings, and won a god damn World Championship.
The frustration for me, is that as a fans, we’ve been willing to pour money into them, but they haven’t reciprocated. It seems like they’re happy fielding a competitive team, but the incremental investment that pushes us beyond that point isn’t going to happen. We’re the Cheesecake Factory of baseball…a decent product wrapped in a shiny package that people will continue to visit because they can tell their friends on facebook about their visit. And the owners will continue to take their cut. Meanwhile the Giants suitors will be left with a painful case of playoff blue balls…always getting close, but ultimately coming up short.
The Affeldt option was the dumb one. If the team thinks that Beltran is too expensive at 2/$20m, they could have taken $4m from Affeldt and suddenly you’re only paying Beltran $6m with a big benefit to the team. The year after next, Rowand’s deal is over so some of that could pay for Beltran’s second year. Overpaying for one lefty is one thing; to maintain both of them for little to no reason was baffling.
Well, you also have to remember that the Giants have to pay the mortgage on their stadium – and most teams don’t have that cost. Ultimately though, with all the pitching on the farm, why blow 9mil on two bullpen arms? Between that, and money that never should have been given to Huff, we could actually have a shortstop that hits and fields instead of just a kid that fields.
The 130MM hard line is some frustrating hijinx from the ownership group. Affeldt may turn out to be Brian Wilson insurance and they have definitely had trade interest in him, so I’ll hold off judgement for now. The argument for taking the LOOGY money and getting a hitter may be 2nd to the argument of taking the LOOGY money and getting a better 5th starter in the long run, but the scrap heap action will take place in January/Feb, so I’ll hold off judgement on that too. Zito definitely looms large this offseason, and the Giants seem determined to “get value” out of him, which will most likely be a fools errand.
Carlos Beltran has one huge advantage for the Giants: the bat. He doesn’t steal bases anymore and his fielding, once stellar, has regressed to some degree. The new additions will field and run the bases without the hold your breath aspect of 35 year old once injured knees. Do I still want him? Hell yeah, but I can understand the value judgment a little. It does reek of the ownership group pocketing the goodwill/ticket sales instead of going for a better team. I do like the additions of Pagan and Cabrera over the station to station aspect of Burrell/Rowand/Ross. And Posey and Sandoval will make themselves heard. Still, another good bat would have been very nice. I’m looking forward to the season, there’s a whole lot to like despite the rainy day fund/hard budget.
Comment by Shankbone — December 20, 2011 @ 2:11 pm
I can explain it for you… or at least offer a plausible explanation.
I think this article’s shortcoming is the assumption that free agent hitters want to sign with SF. Sure the Giants could have saved $9M on their bullpen but just becuase they would have $9M to spend doesnt mean that a 2 WAR player is sitting out there who would accept $9M to play in San Francisco.
Sabean could have come to the very reasonable conclusion that the most efficient allocation of his budget based on the wins he can buy on the market is pitching and defense.
I think you hit the nail on the head about the Affeldt/Wilson connection. Wilson’s elbow is a major issue no one wants to talk about. As to Cain and Lincecum, the ownership seems committed to the goal of long term contracts with both, so regardless of the ‘wisdom of the moment’, they seem to be retaining the financial posture to do such a deal. Finally, it’s clear to everyone, that Neukom’s departure has changed the perspective of ownership on profit and investment, and the calculus between them.
Beltran has buyer beware tattooed on his forehead. Given his numbers, he would have already found a home, were that not so. After his defensive performance in AT&T last year, I would have guessed that the official scorer and he must have been in collusion, given the difference between what the eye revealed and the statistics summarized.
Disagree on their best years being behind them re: Timmy and Cain. These guys are entering their primes. Look at the career curves for players as good as they were as young as they were without health problems: Maddux, Glavine, Clemens, Pedro, Cone, Schilling, etc
I’m guessing you must be referring to Timmy, as Cain has gotten a little bit better every year in his peripherals each year since debuting at age 20. Cain is the type of consistent, durable, workhorse that is worth the big money and building a team around. The two most similar pitchers in terms of peripheral stats, IP, and year-in-year-out consistency are Felix Hernandez and CC Sabathia. That’s pretty elite company. Matt Cain is obviously the type of player worth extending. That he is so underrated and may cost less than $20m/year would be great.
Meanwhile, Timmy blew the NL away in 2008 and 2009. He led the Giants to a WS in 2010, beating Lowe 2x, Cliff Lee 2x, and Halladay once. He was likewise great in 2011. But what of this so-called decline? His K-rate has dropped, sure. But have you noticed his delivery and what hitters say about it? Hitters talk about deception when they talk about Timmy. After a few years, the deception doesn’t have the same effect (this is why Keith Law doubts Brandon Beachy will be able to maintain an elite K-rate for much longer).
Meanwhile, Timmy keeps learning pitches. He has gained weight and strength. He still has great velocity. And he has stayed healthy. Look at any great pitcher with a comparable career arc–especially Glavine after he won his first Cy Young–and you will commonly see small, year-to-year declines in peripherals that may go on for a couple years.
But that’s the thing about great pitchers. They learn how to pitch more effectively. They learn new pitches. They get better and dominate again.
It is absolutely the best decision the Giants could make to extend Lincecum and Cain long-term and to consider them the guys on the roster that get the expensive FA salaries. Most of the team’s young hitters with talent: Panda (25), Buster (25), Belt (24) are still under team control for 3-6 more years and are just entering their primes. They have other complimentary pieces and pieces on the way in Gary Brown and Joe Panik who should be at least league average bats at up-the-middle positions (with the opportunity to be considerably better). They will soon have a very young, very good, and very cheap lineup.
They can afford to pay Lincecum and Cain $40m/year. That leaves $90m for the rest once Zito/Huff/Rowand are off the books. That leaves room for an elite free agent, like say a Joey Votto in a couple years. Or it leaves them the possibility to extend guys like Buster and Panda as they enter arbitration to keep them long-term.
The Giants are hamstrung by a ton of bad contracts; only the Cubs and Astros are really in the same league of awful contracts as the Giants. But they have five franchise cornerstones in Panda, Buster, Cain, Timmy, and Madison Bumgarner. Those guys will provide the bulk of the team’s WAR: 20-30WAR for all of them is a reasonable estimate if all are healthy over a full season.
They just need the other 20 guys on the roster to provide just SOME positive value, and have no guys that provide negative value, and you have a strong contender, that with its elite rotation and lock-down bullpen, is built to be a buzzsaw in the playoffs.
It’s disappointing the Giants didn’t get Reyes; he was a good fit. But I somewhat agree with the notion of cleaning the roster of bad contracts over the next couple years and earmarking the big money only for Cain and Lincecum. Those guys have earned it.
They were bad contracts, all of them, from the very moment they were signed.
I’d rather the team’s payroll be tied up in home-grown stars than guys who came from elsewhere only to dissapoint once they got paid. Even if Timmy or Cain were to become bad contracts in the final years (which isn’t a guarantee, mind you as they are both 27 and good pitchers stay good into their mid-30s), I wouldn’t really mind. They’ve earned it. They’ve provided enormous amounts of surplus value to this team, and I will love them for as long as they live because of it. If they’re making $20m to recover from Tommy John at age 35…don’t care. They’ve earned it.
Nobody is mentioning this when talking about Beltran, but last year was one of the very best of his career. I mean, his bat was amazing. He played 140 games as one of the best hitters in the league.
Can’t say I expect that going forward into his age-35 season. He had a 151 wRC+ in 2011, tying his incredible 2006 as the best mark of his career. His career line is still a stellar 124 wRC+, but that is what I would expect his age 35/36/37 seasons to more accurately be a decline from.
He’s also now a butcher in the field, and he’s pretty slow on the bases. He’s also old and very blase these days. Doesn’t care when rookies hit home runs, ambles slowly when the ball is rattling in the corner of triples alley.
Wanted, but no want now. If we could go back in time and get him, yea, that would be sweet. But he won’t get prettier.
It’s wonderful, Giant fans make fun of us for being bankrupt and going nowhere, but at least we can take comfort in Sabean being there for a few more years.
Comment by DodgersKings323 — December 20, 2011 @ 5:12 pm
I feel like Romo would be the insurance for a Wilson injury.
And I like Lopez more than Affeldt as a LOOGY.
I’m pretty sure the strategy is: keep the pitching strong and a full year of the guys who were missing will be enough to get to the playoffs. isn’t always the best, but it is what it is.
Comment by MrKnowNothing — December 20, 2011 @ 5:42 pm
Why wouldn’t free agent hitters want to sign with SF? They play in a beautiful park, that’s perpetually sold out, on a good team with playoff aspirations. SF is no Pittsburgh. Any free agent that got the best offer from SF would sign there in a heartbeat.
Comment by JohnnyComeLately — December 20, 2011 @ 6:04 pm
small comfort that is… since you have Sabean’s apostle as your GM.
Lincecum and Cain will either leave together or stay together. They can find money anywhere, but a winning team is a different story. With such an impotent offense, losing any of the ace SPs will implode the Giants’ ability to contend. Now, more than ever, the Giants need to show those two they’re valued enough to build a team around.
Beltran might be an injury hazard, but he could play LF and still be a massive contribution to the lineup like Bonds did in his last few good years. He’s affordable and at that position doesn’t displace any rising minor league stars.
Comment by Claude Delicious — December 20, 2011 @ 6:29 pm
And we can take comfort in that World Series we won last year.
Comment by Giants fans — December 20, 2011 @ 7:03 pm
well thought out, excellent analysis… good read. thank you.
Comment by sheila syracuse — December 20, 2011 @ 7:14 pm
This article is just a regurgitation of every negative internet meme that’s out there about Brian Sabean and the Giants.
There is no “window” that is about to close. The Giants have said it is their priority to keep the pitching intact. They have conserved their resources this offseason to make that possible. I believe it will happen until proven otherwise. The Giants don’t want to sign a big, longterm contract because they know that over then next 3 years they will have to spend big on Bumgarner, Posey and Sandoval in addition to the obvious Cain and Timmy.
They have Rowand, Huff, Sanchez,Cabrera and Pagan off the books after 2012. They can be replaced by Belt, Gary Brown, Panik and Frankie Pegs.
There is an industry wide shortage of “LOOGYs”. Saying they could have replaced Affeldt or Lopez with Sherrill is laughable. Sherrill is a gas can. Affledt and Lopez are kryptonite for LH batters and can also hold their own against RH batters.
50 of the top 100 OPS’s last year were by either LH batters or switch-hitters, yet only 24 out of the top 100 xFIP’s were lefthanded. There are a lot of naturally RH players who have learned to bat LH or switch hit. There are almost no naturally RH pitchers who throw left. There is a severe relative shortage of LHP’s compared to RH batters. Most managers prefer to attack switch-hitters in late innings by forcing them to bat RH because they don’t hit from that side nearly as often and are thus not usually as successful batting RH.
All that adds up to Affleldt and Lopez being well worth every penny they are getting paid.
Cabrera and Pagan of both offensive upgrades from what the Giants got out of their positions last year. Posey back will make them much better. Sandoval is a budding superstar. The team defense will be much better than last year.
I’m sure the sight of Carlos Beltran walking gingerly back to the clubhouse after every game with icepacks strapped to both knees cooled the Giants enthusiasm for anything more than a 1 year deal for him. It doesn’t look like there is exactly a long line of teams wanting in on that market either.
The Giants did just fine this offseason. Upgrades on offense and defense. Pitching is intact. No contracts for longer than 2 years. Resources conserved to keep their young core of homegrown talent intact into the future.
The Giants should be favored to win the NL West and are a strong bet to make the playoffs. They are as well positioned for the future as any team in baseball.
DrB, you’re high. Put Sherrill’s numbers side-by-side with Affeldt’s, and tell me that Affeldt’s base 2012 salary should be almost $4mil more than Sherrill’s. And Sherrill’s the gas can? Every big spot Affeldt pitched last year (all three of them) was viewed by most Giants fans — like me — with a strong drink in one hand and a bottle of Pepto in the other.
Look, I like the Cabrera and Pagan moves. They are smart. They begin to reshape our offense. We get younger and more athletic.
But a hairtrigger $5mil for a guy like Affeldt, who doesn’t play a $5mil role in our pen, is beyond stupid. For our front office to cry budget as loudly as they have been this offseason, they sure have spent free agent dollars badly. There’s no getting around that.
I agree with the statements here that the Giants are risking Lincecum and Cain jumping ship because the team didn’t make any huge offensive gains this off-season.
However, I’d like to think that Cain and Lincecum are both pretty smart. HOPEFULLY, the can see the writing on the wall, that:
(1) Right now, the triple albatross of Rowand, Zito and Huff are preventing the Giants from spending on any free agents.
(2) Rowand’s and Huff’s contracts are up after this season, Zito’s after 2013. That’ll free up a TON of money for free agency before the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
(One caveat, of course, is that Giants’ ownership plans to keep the payroll in the $130 M range and not just drop it by the amount of the albatross contracts once they come off the books!!!)
(3) The Giants have some INCREDIBLE homegrown offensive talent already on the team in Sandoval and Posey. I mean, seriously, Sandoval could put up MVP type numbers and Posey is a once-in-a-generation type player.
(4) Potentially, the Giants could have two more offensive superstars in Belt and Gary Brown, both of whom could come in to their own in the next couple of years. Big “if”s here, of course.
(5) The Giants, combining homegrown talent and a potential free agent signing or two in 2013 or 2014, could have a very, very solid offense in just another year or two.
Assuming all my assumptions are correct… and Lincecum and Cain are thinking the same thing… I’m hoping that they are both willing to muddle through one more year of below-average offense, sign multi-year contracts with the Giants, and start winning big-time in a couple of years!
People have to do crazy mental gymnastics to justify the Giants’ moves, and I think they do a good job of gleaning their motivations. However, claims like “we need Affeldt for Wilson insurance” (Romo; R. Ramirez was also better) or “Huff will bounce back” just don’t hold water, from fans or from Sabean & Co.
Comment by westcoast hero — December 20, 2011 @ 9:07 pm
So Cain and Lincecum will stay or leave together? Not very likely since Lincecum can’t be a free agent until after the 2012 season an Cain will be a FA after the 2011 season. If Cain signs a contract extension in the next 9 months then it will be a multi-year deal that will keep him in SF for at least 3 more seasons. If not then he’ll be playing for another team in 2012. Regardless of what happens to Cain, Lincecum will be pitching for SF in 2012.
Once and for all, the Giants don’t owe Rowand $13.6M in 2012. They only owe him $12M. His contract was for 5 years and $60M with an added $8M signing bonus. If you pro-rate his signing bonus over the 5 year contract you get $1.6M per year. Added to his 2012 base salary that would come out to $13.6M still owed him. BUT, per his contract, the Giants paid off the $8M signing bonus in 2 installments – $4M in 2008 and $4M in 2009. So, the Giants only owe Rowand $12M on the remainder of his contract.
Oops, off by 1 year.
“Not very likely since Lincecum can’t be a free agent until after the 2012 season an Cain will be a FA after the 2011 season…”
“Not very likely since Lincecum can’t be a free agent until after the 2013 season an Cain will be a FA after the 2012 season…”
Sherill is definitely a loogy. A better comp for Lopez than Affeldt. Good closers are getting about 10 mil/year on the FA market. So maybe a good setup guy deserves 5.
I think the M.O. here is to save a little payroll space for a trade deadline upgrade. Somebody will be on the market at a position of need. Could be shortstop, could Carlos Quentin, could be a starter.
If there was a perfect fit, they probably would have fit into payroll by now. Rollins a little old. Beltran a lot old. Reyes, Fielder too much dough.
It’s hard to bitch about payroll when it’s gone up step-wise each of the last few years. And the players coming off payroll have been mentioned. Hallelujah, Merry Christmas!
Comment by Scout Finch — December 20, 2011 @ 9:34 pm
Affeldt is easily worth $5M on the open market. If Giants had not picked up his option and tried to sign him for less, he would have almost certainly gotten a lot more than that as a free agent.
The only reason there were rumors of the Giants trading him at the winter meetings is because so many teams were asking about him.
People can grouse about an inflated reliever market if they want to, but that is what the market is, like it or not.
Why should Cain sign that extension? What does SF have to offer that other teams can’t? Players want to win and they want to make money, and SF can’t promise either to Cain. They won’t even be able to meet the market rates for Cain in 2012 because of Zito’s contract and arbitration to Lincecum and their young position players.
The Giants have to show those two aces that they can make money and win in SF. If Cain leaves, the Giants have no one to replace him, and that impacts their ability to win and increases the likelihood of Lincecum leaving. The offense is bound to get better, but that improvement might not be in time to convince the pitchers to stay.
Comment by Claude Delicious — December 20, 2011 @ 10:02 pm
Interesting, if true. I haven’t read this anywhere else.
And if you really want to nit-pick… now that Rowand signed a minor league contract with the Marlins who will pay him the league minimum $480,000, technically the Giants “only” owe him $11.52 M.
But whether it’s $13.8 M, $12 M or $11.52 M… it’s STILL going to a guy that under-performed soooooo badly that they released his a** last season. They’re paying nearly 10% of their budget for a GUY WHO ISN’T EVEN ON THE TEAM.
In fairness to Beltran he only made the switch to RF last year and he probably played CF everyday since he was 15. Based on the eye test, (8 or 9 times live and the rest on TV) he was at least passable in RF in the first half for the Mets. He wasn’t Lance Berkman that’s for sure. Now I only watched a handful of games after the trade so I’ll defer to the Giants fans who’ve called him a butcher, but isn’t RF in SF as brutal as it gets compared to playing RF in other stadiums? Also he didn’t play a single inning of spring training baseball. I think he can at least field the position at a league average level with another year under his belt, bum knee and all.
Comment by Scout Finch — December 20, 2011 @ 11:18 pm
Thanks, I couldn’t figure out why there was a discrepancy between Cot’s and others sources. Well done.
Comment by Scout Finch — December 20, 2011 @ 11:20 pm
take a look at FA left hand relievers before throwing out crazy mental gymnastics remarks. Below market in money? Maybe. Below market in years? Hugely. Romo is a great asset, Ramirez has moved on. Both those gents throw right. Wilson? Won’t talk to reporters currently. I’ll take the insurance, thanks.
Huff? That is a very good question. If you buy into even year he’s given up the reds and the coors tall boys. The main thing is he’s on notice and he won’t get the whole year to stink it up. And if you’re a Gigantes fan, go back and look at some 2010 highlights, cuz he is there. Big time. I’ll take the difference between the years happily. Or Belt. Don’t matter.
Comment by Shankbone — December 21, 2011 @ 12:50 am
How do you know that Larry?
Comment by Brian S. — December 21, 2011 @ 12:55 am
Position players don’t like the Bay Area because it’s too cold at night to get warmed up and hit well … pitchers generally do like it.
Comment by baycommuter — December 21, 2011 @ 1:28 am
So you can predict when players party too much during the off season? That must be a very useful skill.
Giants management said that Huff was not prepared for the 2011 season, having partied too hard (and he was not the only player).
And did you also predict his good 2010 season as well? That would be a better skill.
Comment by Obsessivegiantscompulsive — December 21, 2011 @ 3:55 am
I would prioritize the Giants spending over the next 2 years as:
1. long term deal for Bumgarner. see Rays.
2. extend/resign Cain
3. extend Timmy
4. long term deal for Posey.
5. only then sign any FA bat at >$10mil/yr
I think Bumgarner is the most valuable asset on the team at this point, and if they can buy out his Arb years + 1 or 2 FA years for anything remotely close to the Matt Moore deal it would go a long way towards saving a ton of money in the future for FA’s.
You can argue that Posey is more valuable and should be priority #1, but until he proves hes 100% healthy and a full time catcher then I owuld rate him a little lower.
Timmy is obviously the face of the franchise, and from a marketing perspective i can see resinging him being priority #1. But from a winning perspective, getting Bum/Posey to agree to team friendly deals is much more valuable to the success of the club.
Only after those guys are locked up (or after they are at least offered deals and decline) would I try to sign any big name FA’s. The only exception I would make would be if Cain or Lincecum explicitly demand offensive support or threaten to leave… but really, does that ever happen?
I didnt include Sandoval on the list because I think 1) of the young Giants stars hes the most likely to regress (perhaps permanently) due to fitness issues , and 2) just listening to all his interviews over the last couple years and hearing about his background and some of the off field stuff hes gone through, I get the feeling he is the most likely of the to remain a Giant even if he hits FA. He just seems to genuinely love the atmosphere and I can see him staying in SF for a long long time, assuming he stays healthy/productive.
Right field in SF is HUGE, and it has a lot of angles and a brick wall. It’s one of the toughest RF in the game, for sure.
Doesn’t change that Beltran just looked slow; he was incapable of making much in terms of great plays–his range was limited, and outside of his first game, he wasn’t apt to dive or risk his body to extend that limited range.
Oh, and by all defensive metrics, he was considerably worse than league average.
Money is not the only motivator. Cain did not grow up rooting for a team. The Giants are his team. He is also one of the few Giants players to actually live in SF. He also married someone local and is raising his child here, near his wife’s family. As long as the Giants are fair with him, he will stick around. And the Giants and Sabeans record is pretty good in arbitration, with most reaching a fair agreed upon salary. Only miss was AJ.
And there is another fact that escapes people: the Giants have been winning for the past few years now, and players today understand the team concept as well as players before, even if fans do not. Not winning is frustrating but in today’s saberized world, they know their WL is not the be all and end all.
Comment by Obsessivegiantscompulsive — December 21, 2011 @ 4:06 am
It is not optimism if it is true.
Comment by Obsessivegiantscompulsive — December 21, 2011 @ 4:11 am
FYI, Baggarly recently reported that Sabean was not responsible for the Zito or Rowand signings, which basically explained why he survived the palace coup and Magowan did not.
And this is true, it is even in Cots (or was when the contract was first signed). Drives me crazy seeing it too, though astutely noted that it is only $1.6M difference.
Comment by Obsessivegiantscompulsive — December 21, 2011 @ 4:17 am
Comment by Obsessivegiantscompulsive — December 21, 2011 @ 4:18 am
Right, because the Bay Area is an undesirable place where nobody wants to live. It’s why the cost of living is so low.
I wouldn’t count on Huff having a good year. Yeah, I thought this the last time he sucked for a year and the time before that, but he’s older and the likelyhood of him bouncing back is still low. Unless he has some kind of “enhancement” program he goes through every other year, his cycles make no sense. I’ve never seen a player have such extreme seasons, but I don’t buy that the changing of the year makes Huff good. Does he have a twin brother who spends every other year at a Caribbean resort? This would actually be a sweet deal. I wish I had a twin brother who was a good baseball player.
I was actually wondering what everyone’s thoughts were in packaging the albatross contract (Zito’s rotting corpse) along with Bum or someone of that ilk to take the $ off the books and investing it into tying down Timmy and Cain. The team that immediately jumps to mind are the Toronto Blue Jays, who reportedly bid $50M on Yu Darvish. $46M of Zito’s contract could go a very long way in helping out the Giants.
So their best players (the starting pitchers and Panda) are bound to improve and their prospects with just over one season in the minors betwen them (Brown and Panik) are bound to become stars. Nobody will get worse or get injured.
God must love the Giants.
Players like Barmes have signed for less money with less desirable teams.
Nakajima could have been sewn up in that price range, but Sabean doesn’t even know his name (he calls him “the Japanese shortstop.”)
Wise spending on average players and avoiding foolish trades could have improved the team.
I am a Giant’s season ticket holder and often come to Sabean’s defense. No one seems to remember that the first word in Free Agent is “Free”. These players can go wherever they want. Even though its been proven otherwise (including by Fangraphs analysis), players believe that AT&T Park is where hitter stats go to die.
Why does everyone assume these players would come to SF? I would bet money that Sabean called on Reyes and Beltran and was told these players had no interest in coming to SF (I know Beltran said he was open to it, but he was just keeping his options open and not burning bridges).
It’s my belief that the Giants are rarely on a premier free agent hitter’s short list of teams. Therefore, to get these players, the Giants have to overbid….perhaps to the point of where the MLBPA steps in and pressures the player to take the contract for the good of the union. If Beltran can get 2/24 from Toronto or STL, then it would probably take 3/40-45 to get him to SF.
I firmly believe that several factors (the Park, the weather, the city’s culture and politics, etc.) lead to the Giants not been on premier hitter’s short list of places to play. Therefore, to get these players the Giants must overbid, sometimes WAY overbid.
Yes, the Giants have had a couple good years of revenue. But their payroll also went up from $96M in 2010 to $118 in 2011 and now up to $130 in 2012 (per Cots). That’s an increase of more than 33% in two years. It’s nothing to sneeze at. Unfortunately, we can’t go back in time and undo the bad contracts (please retire Barry Zito). Per Forbes, the Giants dropped about 13% of revenue down to operating revenue. While it was higher than league average, it wasn’t outrageous.
If Sabean believed he would strike out in his quest for a hitter, then the money on shoring up the bullpen was not necessarily poorly spent. And I find it funny how eager everyone is to criticize the Cabrera acquisition. You’d think this crowd (the Fangraphs crowd) would be ecstatic about Sabean acquiring a player who just had his best year at age 26. Isn’t that supposed to be a 26 year old’s best season?
Comment by Sabean Wannabe — December 21, 2011 @ 12:21 pm
$9M for 1 War. Yup, that adds up to being worth every penny.
Save up payroll money for a player who might possibly conceivable be available for the last 1/3 of the season in a trade and give up their top prospect for him?
That’s the same wildly successful strategy the Giants employed last season, why not again?
Counting on players getting healthy is not a plan. Its wishcasting. The Giants have needed to improve their offense for years and have failed to do so. What makes them think 2012 will turn out any better?
Comment by Slacker George — December 21, 2011 @ 12:50 pm
This is a thoroughly good article that hits almost every point, Wendy.
Why aren’t you writing also for one of the SF newspapers or blogs?
One point I haven’t seen anyone bring up is that, whether you agree with the Giants strategy of locking up the pitching and praying for offense or not, they are going about it in reverse.
Instead of locking up the pitching first, seeing how much is left and then spending it wisely, they have by their own account suspended (or at least low-keyed) the negotiations with pitchers until late winter or even spring and already spent (not wisely) what little they expect to have leftover.
I know you were only using Bum as an example of a player to package with Zito, but trading 2/5 of the starters would leave a huge hole to fill without much available on the market or the farm to fill it.
Also, Zito has an absolute no trade clause which he has indicated he will not waive.
Still, I give you credit for creative thinking.
It does not make sense to almost everyone, particularly Giants fans, because they don’t understand the power of having one of the top defenses in baseball (defense meaning pitching and fielding).
When a team is capable of being one of the top 3 best at keeping runs allowed low, and consistently, they have done it for a number of years now, it reduces the run environment drastically for their games. I’ve been saying this for years now, see my Giants business plan, but use Pythagorean to see this for yourself if you don’t believe it. It does not take an awesome offense to win with the Giants defense, in fact, it could be among the worse and still win. With an average offense, they can be one of the top teams in the NL.
But fans, being normal fans, thinks the team is lousy unless every single position player on the team is above average.
The Giants don’t need that. They just need a healthy Posey (so far, so good) and a fit Panda (so far, so good), plus Pagan, Melky, and Huff hitting their projections, and they are probably good to go with their offense, as is. With Posey last sesaon instead of WhiteWart, the Giants at minimum would have been the wild card team and made the playoffs, people just don’t get that his loss was so huge. I think it also hurt in the clubhouse too, he’s a born leader.
Plugging in the expected starting players projects for 2012, the Giants lineup is capable of 4.30 runs scored. With the Giants RA from last season, that translates to 93-94 wins. Given that Arizona outperformed last season in being over Pythagorean and one-run victories, they have a huge uphill climb to reach that level of wins, even with the trade.
Another thing people don’t get is looking at lineup construction and not position by position performance.
Take Huff, who Giants fans inexplicably kicked to the gutter faster than you can say “2010 World Champion Giants”. Fan support of him shrunk to less than that thong he was wearing. He projects as a .329/.422 hitter for a .751 OPS. “That’s lousy for 1B” most would say. But that’s not the correct way to look at it, you have to see where he is batting, which in this lineup is now 6th. The average NL 6th placed hitter hit .318/.412 for a .730 OPS. That’s above average.
And if you go through the lineup using ZIPS projections vs. NL lineup averages, the Giants are around or above average in all lineup spots except for Crawford. And thus the lineup, if it performs to projections (and there are no more idiot baserunners), should get the Giants to at least 90 wins, which should be enough to get into the playoffs, and perhaps win the division too, if the other NL West teams stay around .500 or less, as I expect them to (AZ is the wild card because of their crop of good young prospects).
Plus, the team is set up for the possibility of poor performances, which the Giants have tried to do every season for the past few seasons. Should there be any problems in the OF or 1B, Belt is the insurance to step in and produce similar production, since many of the players can move around as necessary to accommodate him. Should Freddy Sanchez (or really, when) be lost to the DL, Mike Fontenot would be his replacement and he’s projected to basically the same offensively. Font also backs up SS and he would actually be an improvement offensively, though downgrade defensively. He also backs up 3B, but like C, neither are really covered.
But that’s true for almost any team around, there is no insurance when your best players are lost for any reason, so that is not a negative for the Giants, it is just what is.
So I think the Giants did what they had to this off-season: kiss the butts of our best two players, Lincecum and Cain, instead of courting outsiders. They are the keys to our future. Get them signed to nice 4-5 year deals, and then we can deal with the rest of the stuff, like Bumgarner (should get a deal covering all his arb years plus first free agent year), Posey and Pandoval (both should get signed long-term too and into free agency, though I suspect the Giants won’t do anything with Posey until they see him performing again, so that’s probably for next off-season, and most probably Sandoval too, because of his weight issues).
I don’t see the wisdom in this idea. Bumgarner is a top pitcher. As bad as Zito was his first two years, he was good the following two years, which people always seem to forget, and his poor 2011 season I think can be explained by him nearly being killed in a car accident (are drivers crazy in the Southland or what?) and then trying to pitch immediately right afterward.
Even if Zito is as bad as everyone thinks, the Giants the past few seasons have been able to have a top pitching staff in terms of ERA and RA despite having a #5 starter who did not do that well. Zito can at least fill that role for his money and the Giants won’t be harmed in the overall scheme of things. People also forget that most teams have a lousy #5 starter (if not #4 too) so having Zito around, if expensive, is the right choice, trying at all costs to trade him would be, as the old saying goes, cutting off your nose to spite yourself (or throwing the baby out with the bath water).
Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are going to play for the Giants in 2012 whether they sign extensions or not. Cain’s salary is already set. Lincecum’s is not. Cain’s extension does not have to get done until the season starts. Both sides will use the arbitration process to negotiate Lincecum’s extension. Meanwhile, there are 9 other players involved in the arbitration process that they have to worry about too.
Do you seriously think the Giants should have waited until all that got done to make their offseason moves? In fact, they did it the right way, getting modest upgrades in return for the salaries they wanted to get rid of anyway while conserving resources to make the necessary moves later on.
The Giants do not need to rush into big longterm extensions for Bumgarner, Posey and Sandoval, but they do need to avoid big longterm commitments of the kind it would take to sign a Reyes, Pujols or Fielder which would block them from being able to keep their own homegrown core intact into the longterm future. Again, they are approaching it the right way.
Midseason acquisitions took the Giants to a Championship in 2010. They fell short on 2011 due to multiple crippling injuries. Just because it didn’t work out last year doesn’t make it a bad strategy. You would think that on a site where Sample Size is God, people might understand that.
“This article is just a regurgitation of every negative internet meme that’s out there about Brian Sabean and the Giants.”
Agreed. It seems like entry level initiation into the Sabermetric club is to bash Sabean, Bochy and the Giants.
Comment by Sabean Wannabe — December 21, 2011 @ 2:05 pm
Good insight and debates of merit. I don’t see where having two left hand specialists unable to extend for longer stints can be worth 6-7 million of a budget. But someone must have. Trading players with attitude issues is good, but trying to claim the ‘ringer’ in the deal has more value than excising the attitude obscures the point.
Cabrera is, more likely than not, going to match his average production than the ‘career year’ in KC.
Pagan will bring his own unique attitude issues, but considering the lack of production last year, he is an upgrade provided he can recognize a slider before the break.
Pretending Sanchez and Posey will be just as good as before and last the whole season will get you long odds in Vegas
Comment by Gladtobehere — December 21, 2011 @ 3:12 pm
If Detroit can sign hitters, and they sign plenty, then no one else can use the “they just don’t like my city” excuse. It’s all speculation. A convenient excuse to use when Sabean makes a poor offer.
Comment by JohnnyComeLately — December 21, 2011 @ 3:24 pm
The Giants don’t need Cabrera to repeat his career year of 2011, that would just be a bonus. He just has to repeat what he has done the past three seasons, which basically averages out the poor 2010 and good 2011 to the average 2009. His 2009 is a big improvement over what the Giants got in 2011 from LF.
Pagan has a better history of producing than Torres, and that is why he is an upgrade over Torres. And, again, especially an upgrade over what the Giants got in 2011 from CF.
Sure, there is some uncertainty involved with Sanchez and Posey. Sanchez, though is only projected to produce as much as Fontenot, so the Giants should be covered there. Regarding Posey, hitting is hitting, I don’t see why his leg injuries should affect his hitting. And the Giants are planning on him playing at 1B to help keep him in the lineup. And the Giants don’t need him to repeat his prior performance to win, as long as he is still a good hitter, that should be enough for the Giants to compete and win.
I specifically said “premier” free agent hitters. The only one on Detroit who fits that category (aigned as free agent) is Victor Martinez (maybe Pheralta). Cabrera was acquired in a trade and signed an extension.
Besides, the comment was about the effect of AT&T Park. Hitters like four things….Stats…..the prestige that comes from Stats…..the money that comes from Stats…..and winning (or contributing to a winner with great stats). Whether warranted or not, AT&T Park has a reputation as being bad for hitters, whereas Comerica has no such reputation. And if you get outbid, you get outbid. Overpaying has not been kind to the Giants.
Comment by Sabean Wannabe — December 21, 2011 @ 4:09 pm
Yes, it is. Which means we should expect less of him in future seasons.
Also, one good season after several poor ones is more likely to be a fluke rather than an ascent to a new level.
I understood your comment. Let me rephrase. If a baseball player’s production is like a bell curve, won’t we see improvement up through years 26/27…..peak/prime production years 27/28 through 31/32…..then declining production after years 32? Isn’t this pretty much agreed upon out there? If so, then to automatically assume regression from a 26 year old is faulty logic. Maybe Cabrera has peaked, I don’t know. But here is a guy who was worthy of 500+ PAs on the highest payroll team as a 21 year old. Perhaps it has taken him a few years to harness is ability, his attitude and his effort and he’s just starting to put it all together. I’m not saying thats the case…again, I don’t know. It just seems to me that if any other GM in baseball traded a 29 year old head case who was wildly inconsistent for 26 year old who just had his best season, that GM would be lauded. But since it is Sabean, then it must be a bad move.
Comment by Sabean Wannabe — December 21, 2011 @ 4:27 pm
What happened with Pujols is exactly the reason that the Giants are smart to try to lock Cain and Lincecum up to long term deals now instead of waiting until the free agent frenzy comes. St. Louis didn’t want to sign an early extension and they lost their chance to negotiate exclusively.
Taken to an extreme, the Rockies made sure that wouldn’t happen with Tulowitsky. I think two years away from free agency is the right time to start pushing for a long term deal. The player gets extra security at a discount in future dollars commensurate with the amount of risk reduction. If only the G’s would do what the Rays have done with their young stars and lock up Sandoval and Posey early, as they are the cornerstones on the offensive side.
Comment by Fergie348 — December 21, 2011 @ 4:47 pm
If there is a logical reason to expect players to recover from their injuries, it is not wishcasting any more than looking at a low BABIP and thinking a guy go unlucky is wishcasting. The Giants had a crazy number of injuries last year and it is reasonable to think that was probably due to bad luck expect it to not happen again.
With the amount of space you have to cover, I’d say RF at china basin is equally as hard to play as center there. Watching Beltran try to cover ground last season to get to balls in the gap or down the line convinced me that he’s essentially a left fielder now. Schierholtz is the best outfield defender currently on the roster and I think he should get a real chance to play RF all year. If his wOBA is below .315 in June then maybe he goes to a platoon with La Leche. Otherwise, Nate in right.
Comment by Fergie348 — December 21, 2011 @ 5:03 pm
Several of the Giants core of young, homegrown players are still on an upward career trajectory. Brown and Panik don’t have to become stars, just solid starters at a low cost for several seasons.
Nobody has to have a career year for the Giants to contend in 2012. If, on average, everybody plays to their ZIPS projections, not an unreasonable expectation, they will have a high probability of making the postseason.
I totally agree. That is why I noted the bit about the offer being fair (according to Pujols wife, they were insulted by the Cards initial 5 year offer). My main point is just what you say, unless you know the man, hard to predict exactly what will happen.
However, whereas most other people just assume that Cain only cares about wins on his resume or that he’s fed up with a poor offense, I’m saying that there are other factors that could push him to stay, factors that have more basis in fact than supposition.
But he definitely has roots here, as I outlined. So I stand by my statement that as long as the Giants treat him fairly, he will stay, he has never shown any indication that money is the prime motivator in his actions (unlike Lincecum, where he has multiple times pushed for more money).
But, yeah, if the Giants somehow insults him with their offer, he could leave. But generally the Giants and Sabean historically have been able to work out deals with their players without much rancor or drama. So I put my faith that this will continue.
And if Sabean screws this up, I would be among those complaining. LOUDLY!
He was for 2010, so I have to think he learned his lesson, took his public lumps and will work out this off-season.
Prior to the 2010 season, local media interviewed one of Huff’s former coaches and he noted that Huff had reached the point where he couldn’t just phone it in on his skills alone, so he finally got into proper shape for the 2010 season. Just an FYI that, yes, this is a repeated story, apparently Huff is just that much of a big immature kid still (at least he was mature enough to realize that he had to properly get in shape; Rowand rode his mountain bike as his way to get in shape in reaction to him getting old and needing to take his fitness up a notch, and when that didn’t work, well, he did it again… Watch, he’ll finally get into actual proper shape this season and play well for the Marlins. Meanwhile, Sandoval went to a professional center last off-season, age 24 and put his two teammates to shame in getting into shape during the short off-season.).
So given the positive lesson of 2010 and the negative lessons of 2009 and 2011, hopefully Huff will apply it for 2012.
In any case, I don’t expect another 2010, that would be the cherry on top, all the Giants need from him is what ZIPS project for him, roughly mid-700 OPS, and the lineup would be fine. If he can reach his career average of .808 OPS would be great too, but again, not necessary. This potential uplift provides downside protection that the lineup will produce what it should produce given the projections, balancing off any bad luck or performance that might occur elsewhere.
I guess you missed that interesting post here a few months back where the writer took Huff’s second half stats, added it to the first half of the next season, and found that his stats have been remarkably steadily during his career.
My guess, now that I’ve gotten to see his up and down, he’s like a big kid, no self control, and it appears that he slacks off in some way after having a good year, resting on his laurels. Kind of like the phenomenon where the rookie has a great year then the sophomore jinx hits, where he either gets a little too full of himself, or puts too much pressure on himself, or whatever, except that he just keeps on doing it over and over again.
About whether he does well again or not, I have to say the same thing I said when we got him in 2010: looking at his peripherals, there is nothing to indicate that his skills as a hitter has decreased greatly. His strikeout rate, while high for his career, is not significantly worse than what he did from 2007-10, and his walk rate is still right about where he normally is. He just had really bad BABIP luck in 2009 and 2011. Which, given the info on him being out of shape, is really related to bad physical shape, leading to a reduction in BABIP.
I wouldn’t expect him to reach 2010’s height, but given that his peripherals are about normal for him in 2011, I don’t see why he won’t reach the projections of mid-700 OPS in 2011. His career OPS is just over .800, accepting some decline for age in 2011 is appropriate and mid-700 seems doable in this context.
So you are saying that we should just drop Posey because it is wishful thinking that he will produce? Franchez too? By saying it is wishful thinking, you are saying that the Giants should replace these players.
So it was wishful thinking on the part of the Phillies that Rollins, Howard, and Utley would recover from their injuries over the past few years, that it was wishful thinking too?
And the Giants did improve their offense in 2010, they were basically NL league average that season. Average wins a lot of games with our pitching.
Regarding 2011, most teams usually don’t do so well when four of their top hitters disappear for whatever reason (Burrell, Huff, Posey, Torres). I would love to see how well the Phillies would score if they lost Utley, Howard, Rollins, Victorino.
I said it was unlikely that Lincecum and Cain are declining.
I noted that players who already are quite good (Buster, Panda), and have showed potential at the MLB level (Belt) are just entering their primes. Most hitters have their best seasons between 25-30.
And I noted that Gary Brown and Joe Panik look to fit the bill as cost-controlled regulars who play an up the middle position: CF and SS/2B. I didn’t predict that they would be stars, just that they would provide value as league-average or better bats at important defensive positions.
The Giants have a really good core. They just need everybody else to not be bad.
Huff has a good chance of improving significantly on last year, but the Giants have made it clear he will be on a short leash this year and if he falls flat again, Belt is right there ready to take over.
Sorry, don’t buy Giants claiming to be poor and only budgeting 130 mill payroll…I live in the Bay Area and see how many Panda hats they have sold. They could acquire Fielder off Giraffe cap revenues alone. He’s the perfect masher to get them deep in the playoffs and pressing for a title every year for the next 5-6 years….but management still goes dumpster diving each winter and refuses to upgrade the offense…would be frustrating if I were a Giant fan but am not
Comment by Oakland1989 — December 22, 2011 @ 11:25 am
God, I love Giants articles. DrB and obsessivegiantscompulsive provide some excellent entertainment.
Most analysts and fans are missing the key ingredient in the lack of run production in 2011.
OBP by the top of the order … you can’t drive in runs when runners aren’t on base.
Pujols, Fielder, Beltran are not going to produce RBI when the leadoff and #2 hitter don’t get on base.
If Melky, Sanchez and Posey (in the 3 hole) all have +.350 OBP, then the batting averages of Sandoval, Huff, Belt and every other hitter in the lineup goes up measurably as does run production.
The question that should be addressed, will the top of the order get on base?
And for those that complain the Giants don’t spend enough payroll, make your opinion count, don’t buy tickets, don’t buy memorabilia … if you continue to support the team by giving them your money, you are enabling them to continue their spending plan … or buy your own damn team …
The Giants never said that they were poor. There are not a lot of teams putting up $130M payrolls. They also raised their payroll in the past few years, as it was $103M in 2009, so it has jumped up nearly 30% in the past three years.
Plus, most of the Giants money that they get from the panda hats and giraffe caps end up in the pockets of the A’s owners (and more), as essentially the money the Giants pay into revenue sharing ends up as the revenue sharing that the A’s get.
And perhaps the A’s can explain why they are pocketing $23M in 2010, and over $100M from 2006-2010 in EBITDA. Basically, the A’s have been pocketing the money that the MLB/Giants give them in revenue sharing money.
The cost of upgrading the offense, which you and most Giants fans don’t see, is that it could cost the Giants their starting pitching, by committing money to others leaving none for our pitchers down the line. Linecum and Cain will cost over $40M per year in the future. Sandoval will soon be reaching such heights, and Posey and Bumgarner soon enough down the line that adding a big salary for the long term will intrude on the team’s ability to keep this core.
I don’t know about other Giants fans, but I love this core and with this core we can win a lot of championships. Buying a big hitter today will just cramp the Giants ability to keep that core going, and I would rather bet on a 30 year old core player down the line than a 35 year old free agent pickup down that same line.
The reality is that Huff is here and while probably not an average 1B in production, within the Giants current lineup, he’s an above average 6th hitter. Luckily we have Posey and Sandoval around to pick up the slack that we are lacking in Huff. Or have you not looked at either’s OPS?
I would rather teach than entertain. I would rather that his day be brighten with the knowledge of the competitive advantage the Giants have with their strategy of focusing on pitching dominance, and the benefit thereof. And the knowledge that if the Giants can keep the core together and healthy, the Giants will be the team of this decade, the team of the 2010’s.
But if YUNO would rather stick his head in the sand and be entertained that way, then so be it.
Nice points. Don’t forget Pagan, I think the lineup could end up with Pagan and Melky up top, then Franchez 3rd, Posey 4th, Sandoval 5th, Huff 6th, Schierholtz 7th, Crawford 8th. That’s a good top 5, OK 6/7.
With what tehy have to spend, what they don’t have to spend and what they have to keep, it’s little wonder what the Giants did. Entirely predictable.
That said, the important question is: is it enough?
IF, and this is how Sabean is betting, there will be enough comeback from Posey, Sanchez, and Pagan, enough “hold” from Sandoval and Cabrera, improvement from Huff and Schierholtz, and a surprise from Belt, Pill, or Crawford, then everything will be fine.
If not, they really couldn’t do any better with the hand they have to play. There are only a couple teams in the NL who have better prospects although NO ONE knows how it will play out. I like the team going INTO the year, better than the 2010 team, but will they end as well. Now that would be terrific, but only one team will win!
I agree. The only thing I can add is that until the Zito contract is no longer and issue the Giants will not be serious players in the FA market. As frustrating as it may be, fans need to adjust to it and wait a couple more years and then see what happens. I do think Pagan, despite mediocre defense, will be a nice asset to the OF.
A lot of other people have a problem with the Giants signing Lopez and Affeldt, citing both the money and the lack of WAR.
Someone noted the issue about Wilson’s recovery from his injury and that is valid in terms of Affeldt. When he was signed, many in the saber community had been hailing him as a cheap closer material reliever, and he hasn’t really done much in his years with the Giants to change that impression. Also, CBS fantasy noted recently, “Affeldt’s stuff is good enough that he could probably thrive as a closer…” He’s backup if Wilson goes down or is ineffective in his return. But if he’s in the closer role, then who is the LOOGY? Runzler? Lopez then is the backup to the backup.
Now, some might then argue that Casilla was the closer replacement in 2011, not Affeldt, and that is true. How many Giants fans would trust Casilla in that role for the long-term over Affeldt though? Also, I felt that the Giants were more in a testing mode initially with Casilla to see how he handled that position, a free test drive.
In any case, many teams have multiple LHB to handle in the lineup. Having a one LOOGY bullpen means that you might get one, but then the other one could get you, or that same one could get you later should the game continued tied.
In addition, Giants fans in 2011 saw how effective having so many good reliever helped the team, there were many games the Giants ended up winning because the bullpen shut down the other team 5, 6, 7, 8 innings at a time.
About WAR, that is where my economics training kicks in. By looking only at WAR, it ignores the whole situation of where exactly the reliever is pitching. Is he getting good numbers mopping up in non-pressure games or he is constantly getting out the top LHB’s in the game in key situations in the game? WAR does not notice the difference in those situations. In economic terms, it views relievers as a commodity, but as we all know, there are qualitative differences that is ignored in such a comparison.
So yeah, $9.5M for two lefties producing 1 WAR would seem expensive, because this view treats all WAR as the same when they are not.
And where did people get 1 WAR anyway? The two pitchers together produced 2.2 WAR in 2011. In three of the past four seasons, Lopez has basically produced 1.4 WAR per season. Affeldt has been up and down, but has averaged roughly 1 WAR per season for the Giants.
Assuming a decline to 2.0 WAR in 2012 would basically be equivalent to the salaries they will earn in 2012 (actually above, as I’ve been seeing $5M/WAR for some calculations).
About Lopez vs. Sherrill, that ties into what I just wrote here about differences in quality. Lopez pitched in very high leverage situations (BB-Ref says 1.5 aLi; only Romo matched at 1.5 and Wilson led with 2.3) while Sherrill was pretty much in average situations (1.1 aLi). Also, Sherrill actually faced more LHB than RHB (81 PA vs. 68 PA), though Lopez was roughly even too (104 vs 118), so that boosts up his overall stats a bit too. To bring that ratio to equal Lopez, Sherrill would have had to face 24 more RHB, against which he was not as effective, which would have brought down his overall stats and thus his WAR too.
Looking at Sherrill, teams stopped using him in high leverage situations two seasons ago. Last two seasons, he has been used in mostly average situations (0.9 and 1.1) and his average WAR over those two seasons is -0.1 WAR. Lopez was put into much higher situations than Sherrill in 2011 and produced 1.3 WAR. By this angle, Sherrill is not a bargain at any price, while Lopez is a mild bargain ($6.5M in value produced if $5M/WAR) or perhaps the risk that he produces less is priced in.
Also, one has to question whether Sherrill’s usefulness as a pitcher is past. His BABIP the past two seasons have been much higher than the .300 mean most pitchers regress to. Now relievers are prone to wider swings because of much less innings, but still, that is .336 BABIP over 72.1 IP. That’s .264 BABIP over 72 IP to bring that to .300, or .282 BABIP over 144 IP. Not definitive, but definitely a bunch of smoke to add to why Lopez may be worth so much more than Sherrill.
Or putting it another way, his signing team thought that the risk that he might perform poorly is so great that they effectively priced him at a 0.22 WAR production. Or $600K over a rookie minimum player. There is little risk to the signing team at this salary, any type of MLB performance would be gravy.
Flip side of that is that no other team thought that he was worth the risk at $1.2M to sign him.
And maybe one can’t justify the extra $3M on performance, but is the goal here to be frugal with your money or to win? If the Giants had instead signed Sherrill for $1.2M, what could the Giants have acquired in terms of a player for that $3M, given that it appears that the rest of the money is earmarked for the arbitration players? This reminds me the dumb Giants move (forced on Sabean by the owner’s penny-pinching) to go with a bunch of mediocre players while passing up on Vlad (putting aside the assertion by local media icon Ted Robinson that Vlad hated Felipe and no amount of money could bring him here). Penny wise, pound foolish.
That $3M would not have gotten us anything, and even if the Giants didn’t pick up Affeldt too, that’s only $8M, again, what could the Giants have really gotten for that? That would not even be enough for Cuddyer or Willingham, and I like Schierholtz better than them (his defense is that good).
We could have let go of both pitchers, picked up Sherrill and still be short one LHP (or have to go with Runzler), dismantling a very effective bullpen, and not gotten much of an improvement in the lineup for $8M.
The Giants instead kept their above average bullpen pretty intact, which was a key part of their winning in 2010 and 2011, while forgoing a slight (at best) upgrade offensively. There is not really much value out there at even $8M, the Giants did the best given the situation in the free agent market and their own situation with arbitration players, I think.
Quite amusing. I am curious as to who the columnist would have liked the Giants to sign. Beltran? Reyes? Rollins? Fielder? Pujols? At what they got (or will get)? Really? All prime candidates for the winner’s curse. People seem to like to whine about albatross contracts yet whine that the Giants don’t give out another one. That seems to be lacking in the “internet meme” of “Sabean sucks… derrrrrrrr….. drool”. So who then? Clint Barmes?
I am also amused at using Pittsburgh as a comparative – yes, a major free agent destination indeed. Fine run of success.
And lastly I am amused that on a sabermetrics site that stats don’t seem to count for much, nor does zIPS, nor do most people seem to have a clue that WAR is woefully inadequate for assessing relievers. The Giants need Affeldt for all kinds of reasons, all stated above.
“Sabean sucks… derrrrrrrr….. drool”. Logic, realistic projections, and actually paying attention to last season say otherwise. The column and many of the comments assume that a stupid move (meaning, any move) is a good move, and operate forward on that assumption. I don’t buy “if they didn’t pay player X $YM, then they could have gotten someone else”. Someone who?
Not such a great analysis because I seriously doubt that either Matt Cain nor Tim Lincecum will resign no matter how much the Giants offer them because the Giants, in spite of their 81 streak sellouts at AT+T Park (third best attendance in the major leagues from that perspective) and their huge cable deal still refuse to spring for offensive power. Why should either Cain and Lincecum continue to be frustrated as their solid to excellent pitching continues to go unrewarded when they can sign with teams which will actually appreciate them? The contracts the Giants will offer will be outdone by ballclubs which fight to get excellent players. In the case of the Giants, the management knows that fans will support them come what may because going to the Park is the same as attending a San Francisco “Event”. This is what ownership counts on and, frankly, the owners are right. Why sacrifice profits by trading for outstanding ballplayers or by negotiating to sign the best when they can continue to rake in the profits by doing nothing or next to nothing? It’s business!
Comment by Robert Haymond — December 23, 2011 @ 3:26 am
Wendy right on. This SF Giants team is absolutely horrible. How can Brian Sabean justify getting a mediocre Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan. When you have to resign Eli Whiteside as well as Emmanuel Burris your in trouble. not to forget the scrub signings of Brian Burres, Eric Hacker, and Boof Bonser and Joaquin Arias and the savior, Gregor Blanco. Fire Brian Sabean and all his assistants. These moves are awful and 6th place is where we’ll be.
Comment by cameron datzker — December 23, 2011 @ 3:48 am
Perhaps the stars were aligned for us in 2010, and 2011 was one of major disappointment. With that said, I am not one in favor of going out and buying a free agent. I didn’t think Beltran was worth spending 26 million, which the Cards did, even given his injury history. We tried signing a free agent with Zito and Rowand with disastrous results. The other reason is: what does that say to the other players on the team when they are not paid the same. If they signed Fielder, what does that say to Belt or Pill or even Huff… we didn’t think you would ever measure up to so and so. If they signed Rollins or Reyes (Ramirez doesn’t seem to happy with the signing) what does that say to Crawford.
I also remember when they did a rash of other free agent signings, Alfonzo, Alou, Durham, Roberts… and so on and so forth. It never turned into a cohesive team. In fact Alou was quoted as saying he was never invite to go to dinner with anyone… everybody on the team goes their own way… not good. I like the way the Giants are going. BUILD WITH THE FARM.
Not to mention the fact that Beltean just signed with St Louis for 2 yrs $26 million. That seems like a steal to me. Beltran probably has two ggod uears left in him and could have helped the Giants offense significantly. I was expecting Beltran to ask for 4-5 yrs @ $15-18 million/yr. instead he only asked for 2 yrs. i think the giants could have found a way to pay for that considering the fact that they Good Ol Sabs gave up the best pitching prospect for him. Now that trade last yr looks like a rwally bad mive because we didn’t make the playoffs, lost the best pitching prospect, and didn’t even try to sign Beltran. I feel like Sabean didn’t even make an effort and instead went the safe conservative route like he always does. I don’t know how Sabean gives Aaron Rowand a 5 yr $60 million contract and Zito a 7 yr $126 million contract but won’t give Beltran a 2 yr $26 million contract. Once again Sabean fails on the biigest need for the Giants. It will be sad to see Cain and Lincecum both leave because Sabean failed to get them offensive support once again and both will likely have stellar Sub 3.00 ERA season and have losing records. I wouldn’t blame both for leaving.
Javier Lopez is EASILY worth 3 million more than George Sherril. He hasn’t done anything in almost 3 years. Lopez has been as good as it gets against lefties for the past 2 seasons… C’mon! You simply cannot even compare the two.
Yeah, Dodger fans make fun of Sabean but don’t usually remember the signings of Jason Schmidt, Andruw Jones, Juan Uribe, and I know there’s more I’m not thinking of. At least Zito won a few games and Rowand hit a couple homers, but those guys didn’t do either for LA. Why don’t you guys have another middle infielder? What, Uribe, Ellis, Hairston, Kennedy, Gordon, Sellers aren’t enough? Hey, congrats on Kershaw and Kemp, because that’s every Dodger fan’s argument.
Beltran is surely thinking that 3-4 more quality years can help is HOF chances. And as I’ve stated on numerous Giants’ articles, whether warranted or not, players think AT&T Park is where hitter stats go to die. Plus, considering the cold weather might do to his knees and cut back on his playing time, and that he is surrounded by a better lineup in STL, I will bet that SF was low on Beltran’s list and only an oversized offer would get him there…..an offer that might tie up too much money when it comes time to extend Cain, Lincecum, Posey, Sandoval, Bumgarner, etc..
Comment by Sabean Wannabe — December 23, 2011 @ 1:41 pm
Yeah, the team is horrible.
They have had a top 3 team in runs allowed the past three seasons, the only team to do so, and they have kept the core of all that, the pitching, both starters and relievers, plus made improvements to the defense. Horrible.
They have a great offensive core in Posey and Sandoval, the heart of their lineup, and great hitters. Now they have guys in front of them who can get on base for them to drive in, both Pagan and Melky know how to get on base, Franchez too. And they are together for at least 3 more seasons, if not more if Sandoval is signed to a long-term deal. Horrible.
They also have a manager in Bochy who is the ONLY manager in the past 20 years or so who can consistently win 1-run games. He has a huge plus differential there, statistically significantly over .500, which no other manager have on their record consistently over their career. Horrible.
In addition, they have a GM who knew which prospects to keep – Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner, Wilson, Romo, Posey, Sandoval – building a team where the core players are mostly farm bred – and which to trade. If it were up to the armchair GMs, we would have traded away Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez for a bag of magic beans or Alex Rios or Corey Hart, which ever is worse. And some would have chosen Smoak over Posey. Horrible.
The Giants are set up to dominate the 2010 Decade, all the owners have to do is open up their pocketbooks and sign up Lincecum and Cain to long-term deals and this great core (which hopefully will be supplemented by Belt, Brown, Panik, Hembree in a year or two) should be around to 2016 at minimum. Horrible.
How can you follow such a horrible team. You should go follow the Pirates or Royals, according to the saber-fashionistas are the ones to follow because they have it all figured out and their farm systems will soon blossom forth in baseball glory. They are not horrible teams at all.
FYI, Andy Baggerly, Giants beat writer extraordinarie, recently reported that several sources, internal to the Giants and across the league, said that Sabean was NOT the lead in pursuing Zito and Rowand. So he was not to blame for those bad signings.
Both were clearly marketing ploys and they paid for that lack of judgement (and so did the person who presumably was the lead, Peter Magowan).
I don’t know about Cain’s willingness to stay in SF long term, however Lincecum is committed. While he has maintained (through his agent) that he wants to stay with 1 or 2 year contracts when rumors were buzzing about an extension this off-season, it was Lincecum who put an 8 year extension (mlbtraderumors for citation) on the table and the Giants countering with 4 years. Lincecum is committed to stay in SF.
I just read an article about the Cubs’ plans for a complete and total rebuild; it would suck to see the Giants do this but I think it has come to that. We lock up our rotation, Panda, Belt, Posey, and then trade away the rest for pieces for the foreseeable future. This would be a pain period but you can’t have growth without this.
Comment by Frattyswag — December 23, 2011 @ 5:29 pm
Just read this article and all the posts. Unfortunately you guys are the only ones that are making any sense at all.
I could just regurgitate all that you’ve said but I’ll just copy/paste my last post from the most recent Baggs blog regarding bloggers complaining about:
-Lack of runs
-Amount of one run losses to Timmy/Cain
-Timmy and Cain leaving bc we aren’t signing a big stick
-Not spending bc we have money
-Crying about Sabean/Bochy
I hate to copy/paste but I can’t be bothered writing it out again and you’ll get the gist…
Will everyone just shut up about these 1 run games! What killed the giants last year was an August funk. That and losing their number 2 and 3 hitters before the middle of June.
We were 33 and 22 in 1 run games. That’s a .600 winning percentage or 97 wins in a regular season.
We were built for 1 run games. Dominant pitching (Starting and relief) along with a potentially great defense. We have a potential GG SS, speed in the OF even if Huff mans LF. Remember Barry playing LF? Yeah- we survived that.
Our team fell apart after the Phillies came to town. Beltran got hurt and was out for almost two weeks. Once he came back, it took some time for him to regain his stroke and by then it was too late.
I’m glad we didn’t shell out 26M to Beltran. He is a guarantee for 120 games or less in the next two years.
I (like everyone else) would love to get Fielder. But the reality is that we are saving our money for Timmy and Cain. And if you had your choice between those two and Fieler…you’d take Timmy and Cain. It will take 22M per year over 10 years to get Fielder. That’s what he will get. I don’t want to take that risk. It’s more risk than reward. Sure it will be great for the next couple of years…..but in 5 years when we’re all complaining about his weight and lack of productivity, well then it’s not worth it.
Stay true to what we are doing. Build a team with good defense and excellent pitching. A team that believes in what they are doing. A team that comes up together.
Remember the first part of last year before all the injuries? Remember when there was no game over until it was over? All the come back victories. I always believed that we’d win even if we were down 4 going in to the ninth.
We have a special team and I don’t want to start shelling out albatross contracts to guys that don’t deserve it. Pay OUR guys the money they deserve. We will need to pay Pablo, Posey and Bumgardner 50M each before we know it.
Sabes has laid the groundwork down. A plan for the future that won’t compromise us in 8 years. I have faith that (like when he first came in 97) every year we will be in the hunt to win the division/wild card. Then our Pitching will take over in October.
1997-2005 we were in the playoff hunt until the final 2 weeks of the season.
97- Division title
98- Wild Card play in game
99- Out of it with 10 games to play
00- Division title
01- Out of it final weekend v Dodgers (bonds HR weekend)
02- WC to WS
03- Best team in baseball only to lose to a hot Marlins team (like us last year)
04- Lost on final Sat to Dodgers and Astros beat Rockies on Final Sunday
05- Went in to 4 game series in SD with a chance to take division. Won first game on the JT triple to Giles in CF. Lost the next with a GS by Fasero to Hernandez and season was over with 10 games left
06-07 were the last bonds revenue years
08- re building
09- we surprise everyone and are in it until final 2 weeks which catapults us to
10- Division Champs….WS Chamos
11- We are in it until final week (WC spot)
So everyone needs to calm down. We have a strong game plan and road map ahead. I have all the faith in the world in Sabean (Look at the track record I just laid out for gods sake!) and Boch to get this done.
We will win the division and take care of business in the playoffs again
Comment by BigJanks — December 23, 2011 @ 11:51 pm
I believe that Mark in saying 2/$20M meant 2 years at $10M per year. So his math does work. Most often contracts are not for the same amount of money every year so contracts are general referred to by total length/total amount of contract if I am not mistaken.
Comment by Future Daydream — December 24, 2011 @ 6:57 am
Its not that the Giants are a sure thing or that Sabean is the greatest GM ever, it just seems like there’s this concerted effort to bash….even if the facts don’t support it.
Case in point. The Giants are obviously strong defensively (pitching and defense) and weak offensively. They are being ripped to shreds for not making the moves to improve offensively. However, the same is not said about teams who are strong offensively and weak defensively. Boston, Toronto and Colorado were all in the top ten in runs scored and bottom ten in runs allowed. Why aren’t they being shredded for not improving their defense? Granted, Toronto and Colorado don’t have the Giant’s payroll, but couldn’t Colorado have put Cuddyer’s money toward Buehrle or Wilson? And Boston just let a 3.0 WAR closer leave!
The Giants have enough question marks that they want to see who pans out first (Huff, Belt, Crawford, etc. as well as Posey and Sanchez injury retruns) and they can always seek improvement at the trade deadline. They obviously want to not commit a bunch of money so they can extend all their players nearing FA or arb. Plus, next year’s FA class is better anyway (Kendrick, Kelly Johnson, Bourn, Ethier, Upton, Quentin, Hamilton, etc.). Granted, some may get extended, but I think they Giants are better off sitting and waiting.
Comment by Sabean Wannabe — December 24, 2011 @ 10:34 am