Covid-19 Will Finish a Lot of Baseball Careers Too

Posted July 5, 2020 by Burly
Categories: Baseball Abroad, Baseball History, CPBL, KBO, NPB

This is a baseball blog, so I’m going to ignore the 130,000+ Americans to date who’ve died of the disease and talk about the impact of the pandemic on the professional lives of professional baseball players.

MLB teams will not only be playing a highly abbreviated 60 game season (pending a negotiated 64 or 66 game season with expanded play-offs, which the owners very much want), but franchise rosters will apparently be limited to 60 players for 2020.  Major league roster limits will be 30-26 during the shortened season, plus a 3-player “taxi squad” in case someone on the major league roster gets hurt or tests positive.

That means only 30 players on the minor league squad.  That isn’t enough to play more than 3-inning practice games.  I haven’t heard whether the minor league squads will be playing against each other.  However, I don’t see how the minor league guys can be ready step into the majors if they aren’t playing games against each other.

The 60-man franchise limit means a lot of minor leaguers won’t be playing baseball in 2020.  Solid, roster-filler AAA players over age 28 will not be included as teams put together their 60-man, as teams will want more promising younger AA players instead, along with all the organization’s top prospects, to whom teams will want to give playing team even if they are initially in over their heads.

I imagine that every single player Class A+ and below who isn’t seen as a top prospect by his team will not being playing any baseball this summer.

For minor league players over the age of 28, a full year off is going to be nearly impossible to come back from, at least for position players.  A full year off at this age is not good for the batting eye or foot speed.

Players in the lower minors under the age of 25 can possibly come back from a full year off, but it’s going to stunt a lot of careers for players who might have been better than their draft pedigree.  And that’s even to say that MLB plays half-way-full minor league seasons in 2021.

The Owners have been fighting to reduce the size of the minor leagues dramatically, and the Coronavirus may mean significant reduction in leagues and levels when things get back to normal compared to immediately before the pandemic struck.

However, it’s been a good year for players from the Americas in Asia in 2020.  KBO and CPBL teams are well into their seasons, and NPB is now almost 14 games in, which probably means that every foreign player in these leagues has received a paycheck, which is more than a lot of pro ball players in the States can say.

And better foreign players are available to Asian teams because the American options have narrowed considerably.  I don’t think there is any way the Kiwoom Heroes sign Addison Russell for $530,000 for the rest of the season in any kind of normal year.

The CPBL should be able to find better foreign pitchers for their money.  Their bread and butter is the kind of 28+ AAA pitcher who isn’t likely to make any team’s 60-man franchise roster.

San Francisco Giants 2020 Draft Picks

Posted June 12, 2020 by Burly
Categories: Minor Leagues, San Francisco Giants

The Giants selected seven players (Overall Nos. 13, 49, 67, 68, 85, 114 and 144) in this Covid-19 Striken 5-round draft.

13.  C Patrick Bailey (NC State, age 21.)  Bailey looks like a legitimate 1st round pick, at least in terms of his bat.  In roughly 2.25 college seasons, he has a career slash line of .302/.411/.568, certainly fine numbers for a backstop.

There has been some comment regarding Bailey’s selection, given that the Giants used the No. 2 overall pick two years ago on catcher Joey Bart.  Giants President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi responded that you draft for ability, not need, and you can’t have too many good catchers.  Zaidi is certainly right that a team is foolish not to draft the best available player at their first round draft spot, because the odds of drafting even a 5+ WAR MLB player after the first two selections of the first round is less than 50%.

Bailey is a switch-hitter, whom the scouting reports like best for his power and plate discipline and less for his hit tool.  The scouting reports also seem to think he’s a true catcher and not a bat-first player who might get moved out from behind the plate as a professional.

49.  3B/RHP Casey Schmitt (San Diego State, 21.)  Casey Schmitt was a surprise to be taken this high.  He has a career college slash line of .295/.366/.408, with an .865 OPS as a sophomore and an .837 OPS in only 16 games as a sophomore.  That doesn’t look a future major league hitter to me, but his pitching numbers are better: a 2.48 career college ERA with 17 saves and pitching line of 87 IP, 70 hits, three HRs, 29 BB and 78 Ks. Schmitt’s batting and pitching numbers in the Cape Cod League in summer 2019 reflect his college numbers.

Zaidi apparently like Schmitt as an all-around good baseball player, and I certainly hope he will be developed as both a pitcher and third-sacker as a professional.

67. LHP Nick Swiney (NC State, 21.)  Swiney went 15-1 in college, and, while his 3.51 career college ERA wasn’t overly impressive, his 174 Ks in 115.1 IP sure is.  He was wild as a sophomore, but looked really good in four starts this year before the shut-down.  Some scouts project him as a major league relief pitcher, but the Giants are apparently hoping his fastball will gain velocity if he adds weight to his 6’3″ 187 lbs frame.

68.  SS Jimmy Glowenke (Dallas Baptist, 21.)  The Giants sure like Glowenke more than anybody else did.  MLB’s Draft Tracker ranks him only 171st.  He slashed .340/.433/.506 mostly against second-tier Missouri Valley Conference competition.  He did bat .296 (but with only a .727 OPS) in the Cape Cod League last summer.  MLB.com doesn’t think Glowenke has the range to stay at SS and sees him eventually being moved to 2B, because his arm doesn’t suggest 3B except in a utility role.

85.  LHP Kyle Harrison (De La Salle HS (Concord CA), 18.)  MLB.com liked Harrison more than MLB teams did, but he could be a good pick at 85 overall.  He’s also a local boy.  He’s listed at 6’2″ and 200 lbs.  MLB.com says he’s especially tough on left-handed hitters, although his stuff may limit his ceiling.  He’s a UCLA commit, but I expect the Giants will offer him enough money to get him signed.

114.  RHP R. J. Dabovich (Arizona State, 21.)  Dabovich had a 4.04 ERA and 64K in 64.2 IP in parts of two seasons with the Sun Devils.  MLB.com describes him as a two-pitch pitcher with a 97 mph fastball, so he’s likely to be a reliever at the major league level.

144.  RHP Ryan Murphy (Lemoyne College, 20.)  Pitched effectively at a small four-year school — career college 3.40 ERA with 215 K in 203.2 IP.  He pitched well in the New England Collegiate Summer League in 2019, but he’s small for a right-hander at 6’1″ and 185 lbs.  The Giants may be hoping to save some money on his slot signing bonus to offer to high schooler Harrison.

Hard to Get Excited about Labor – Management Negotiations

Posted June 9, 2020 by Burly
Categories: Baseball History

As a baseball fan, I’m finding it hard to get excited about the current state of MLBPA – MLB negotiations.  I’m an attorney with almost 2.5 years of labor law experience, so I can provide some incite about what is going on, but as a fan I just want the games to be played.

The players and the owners have a long and ugly history of fighting it out to get what each side wants, going back to 1966.  The players know that if they can stay united, the owners will typically cave before they do.  The owners are always trying to claw back profits from the players, and in recent years they have negotiated the parties’ collective bargaining agreements more successfully than the players.

I think the players are right that, if they can hold out while not receiving salaries, the owners will have to give in to a more labor-friendly deal, because the owners will lose more than the players if no games are played this year.  Owners lose not just this year’s revenues if no games are played, but also the values of their franchises, which are worth more than the actual single-season revenues.  Baseball is a profitable business more because of team sale-price values than actual yearly revenues.

The Owners always hope that the players are spending it as fast as they make it, but the true stars probably have enough sense to save enough to weather labor crises, and the true stars have the most power in the union because, in no small part, they are around for the longest time.  Even the marginal players largely support the stars, because the dream of improving just that much to become a major star is eternal.

The Owners want more play-off games and fewer regular season games, because play-off games maximize TV revenues and give the teams an excuse to pay players for fewer pro-rata contract regular season games.  The players want more regular season games so they can get more of the contracts they’ve negotiated.

In my mind, I’m seeing a compromise at around 72 regular season games, for which the players are paid on a pro rata basis, followed by expanded play-offs.  For 2020 only, a compromise in this area make sense.  Six teams get a first round bye, and 20 teams play a single game play-off to create 16 teams playing five-game series down to eventual Championship and World Series.  The players on teams that continue on through the play-offs make money, with the players on the 12 teams that don’t make the play-offs or lose the one game series getting essentially shafted.  At least, their likelihood of getting injured is reduced.

At the end of the day, it’s going to be an ugly season similar to Strike 1981, which I remember well, even if a deal gets worked out.  I just want to see enough regular season games played that the season and the post-season are not a total joke.  Anything can happen in a short series, and bad-to-mediocre teams can beat even great teams in a five game series, which the rounds before the LCS and the World Series are likely to be.

Notes on the 2020 KBO Season So Far

Posted May 31, 2020 by Burly
Categories: Anaheim Angels, Baseball Abroad, KBO, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays

We are now 23 or 24 games into the 2020 KBO season.  Here are my thoughts so far.

I wasn’t surprised to see Taylor Motter last only 10 games and 37 plate appearances.  He was cheap, but he didn’t look like a KBO hitter when the tightwad Kiwoom Heroes signed him.  A slash line of .114/.139/.200 didn’t take long to make up management’s mind, particularly since it’s likely that Motter was only guaranteed $200,000 of this $350,000 contract with the Heroes.

The Heroes caught lightning in a bottle with Jerry Sands in 2019, but Motter was a bridge too far.

The Heroes should consider Andy Burns, who is still only 29 and had two good seasons in the KBO for the Lotte Giants in 2017-2018.  His .833 OPS at AAA Buffalo last summer was good for a 2B who can fill in at third and also SS in a pinch.  You’d have to think that at this moment, Burns would probably be willing to sign for $250,000 to $300,000 at this moment, given the current lack of MLB options.

23 year old lefty and future MLB prospect Koo Chang-Mo is leading the KBO with a 0.51 ERA and in strikeouts at 38 (in 35 IP).  He’s not big, however, listed at 6’0″ and 187 lbs, so we’ll see if his arm can hold up under use as the league’s top starter.

Eric Jokisch and Odrisamer DeSpaigne are the best foreign starters so far and the best after Koo.  Jokisch was a better signing for the Heroes.  He’s only costing the team a $550,000 guarantee and another $150K in performance incentives.  That’s a bargain on a second year contract, after a 13-9, 3.13 KBO rookie campaign.

Odrisamer DeSpaigne is 33 this season, but he’s still got it as a KBO rookie.  His MLB career looks a lot like Dominican right-handers Hector Noesi and Esmil Rogers, except that Noesi and Rogers were both 29 when they joined the KBO successfully.  As a Cuban defector, DeSpaigne reached the majors late.  I think he’s a better pitcher than Noesi or Rogers, but his strikeout numbers don’t suggest he had major league stuff.  Maybe in Korea against lower-level hitters, he can really take advantage of his ability to pitch.  He’s five starts into the 2020 season, but hope springs eternal.

Cubans are big this year in South Korea.  32 year old not quite MLBer Jose Miguel Fernandez is leading the circuit with a .468 batting average, along with a 1.206 OPS (2nd), through 23 games.  Mel Rojas, Jr. is batting .409 (2nd) with an 1.149 OPS (3rd) 23 games in.

25 year old Mexican Roberto Ramos leads the KBO with 10 home runs and a 1.263 OPS.  The LG Twins apparently got it right in signing him this off-season.

Also still 25 year old Chris Flexen has a 2.61 ERA (5th) and 28 K (6T) in 31 IP.

I don’t recall having two 25 year old North American players succeed in the Asian majors in the same year for as long as I have been paying attention.  If Ramos and Flexen can keep it up, it will really open up some opportunities for both players going forward.

Now KBO veteran (just barely) Preston Tucker has a 1.007 OPS (7th), and rookie Aaron Altherr is starting to get hot and demonstrate his power potential.

Future MLBer (?) Kang Baek-Ho , age 20, has a 1.143 OPS so far, but he hasn’t played since May 21st, assumably because of injury.  24 year old SS Kim Ha-Seong got off to a slow start this year, and he’s still batting only .236, but has brought his OPS up to .809.  I read an article  on mykbo.net that sounded like Kim hadn’t lost any confidence but was trusting to the process in play, so there’s no reason to think it’s anything but a short slump when the hits aren’t falling or you’re just missing by that much.  We shall see.

Steve Dalkowski Passes

Posted April 25, 2020 by Burly
Categories: Anaheim Angels, Baltimore Orioles, Baseball History, Houston Astros, Minor Leagues, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers

News on mlbtraderumors.com is that Steve Dalkowski, aged 80, died today of the coronavirus.  Dalkowski is one of the most famous players in baseball history who never reached who never reached the majors.

Dalkowski was a smallish lefthander (5’11”, 175 lbs) who threw incredibly hard but had no idea where it was going.  Many players who played against him said he threw harder than anyone they’d ever faced.

In his first season in a 1957 Class D (rookie) league, he struck 121 batters in 62 innings pitched but also walked an incredible 129.  He was certainly the scariest pitcher many players ever faced because he just might kill you.

Three years later, he both struck out and walked 262 in 170 IP in what was then the Class C California League (an full season A league in today’s game).  He walked 196 and struck out 150 in 103 IP a step up the minor league ladder in 1961.

Dalkowski had his best minor league season in 1962 at age 23 for the Eastern League’s Elmira Pioneers, which played at what we’d call AA level today.  He only went 7-10 but had a 3.04 ERA and, while striking out 192 batters in 160 IP, he walked a modest for him 117 batters.

Earl Weaver, before his great Orioles days, was Dalkowski’s manager in 1962.  He told Dalkowski, a starter, to throw just the fastball and slider and to throw every pitch at the middle of the plate.  Even Weaver said Dalkowski threw harder than Nolan Ryan, and he saw plenty of both.

A 2013 article says, “On a $5 bet, Dalkowski threw a baseball through a wooden fence. On a $10 bet, he threw a ball from the center-field fence over the 40-foot high backstop screen behind home plate.”

The 2013 article says that “Nuke” LaLoosh from Bull Durham was based on Dalkowski, and Kevin Cosner’s “Crash” Davis was based on Dalkowski’s roommate and former SF Giants and  manager Joe Altobelli.  “Alto once quipped, ‘I didn’t room with Dalkowski, I roomed with his suitcase!'” which is an old, old baseball line.

However, Dalkowski’s control really hadn’t improved, it’s likely he blew out his elbow tendon in 1963, and he was a hard drinker, so he was out of organized baseball by the end of the 1965 season at age 26.  Aside from being small, Dalkowski had a compact delivery, but it didn’t improve his ability to throw strikes or diminish from his fastball speed, at least until after the injury when his fastball dropped to 90 mph.

In separate games in his career, Dalkowski struck out 21 and walked 21.  He is said to have thrown a pitch that tore of a batter’s ear, but he didn’t actually hit that many batters, a season high of nine in 170 IP in 1960.  Hitters were “loose” when they got into the box against “White Lightning,” meaning they were every bit ready to get out of the way.

Dalkowski had a hard life after baseball.  He still drank hard, which took his mind prematurely.  It says something about modern medicine that he lived long enough to be felled by the coronavirus.  He was 80 and had lived in a care home in New Britain, Connecticut for many years.


 

The Only Game in Town

Posted April 18, 2020 by Burly
Categories: Baseball Abroad, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, CPBL, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, KBO, Mexican League, Minor Leagues, New York Yankees, NPB, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays

Professional baseball is back — in Taiwan.

We are now six games into the 2020 CPBL season with the games being played in empty stadiums but broadcast on TV.  It is surely better than nothing for a baseball hungry world.

The best game pitched so far was former New York Yankee and half-season KBO ace Esmil Rogers‘ effort earlier today.  He allowed one run, earned, on six hits and a walk in seven innings pitched with 11 strikeouts.

I had questions about how Rogers would pitch in the extremely hitter friendly CPBL.  Despite the past KBO success, he’s now 34 and got hit pretty hard in the Mexican League in 2019, which was also an extreme hitters’ league.  CPBL teams love foreign pitchers with a history of success in the KBO and/or NPB, and so far so good for Rogers.

Former Seattle Mariner and SoftBank Hawk Ariel Miranda and former Toronto Blue Jay and KBO ace Ryan Feierabend both looked good on opening day, but neither reached the seventh inning nor got a decision.  Former San Francisco Giants farmhand, brief Houston Astro and former KBO ace Henry Sosa looked good in his first CPBL start of the young CPBL season, allowing one run in 7 IP on four hits and a walk while striking out five.

[Kudos to baseballreference.com — they are publishing CPBL stats for the first time this season — maybe my two emails over the last three or four years had some effect… but probably not, at least not by themselves.]

CPBL teams decided to spend more money on the four foreign pitchers each of the league’s four franchises can sign (three on the major league squad and one in the minors, with the ability to promote and demote foreign players without having to release someone for the first time this season) this past off-season.  CPBL teams decided to do this in part to get more attention from the baseball world, but more because the Lamigo (now Rakuten) Monkeys have completely dominated the league the last few seasons because they have a disproportionate share of the best Taiwanese hitters.  The other three teams realized the only way they can compete is by spending more money to get better foreign pitchers.

Even though the CPBL is going to lose money this season because fans probably won’t be attending any games this year, as the only pro game in the world as I write this post, teams’ decisions to spend more money to put on a better product may well pay dividends when a coronavirus vaccine becomes widely available.

The best game pitched by a Taiwanese starter so far is the three earned run, six inning outing with seven Ks thrown by the Brothers’ Huang Enci (黃恩賜) — the translations provided by Google Translate for Chinese names are not necessarily the conventional ones.  He’s 24 this year and appears to be a work in progress.

33 year old former Cleveland Indian C.C. Lee has six Ks in 3.1 innings pitched in two relief appearances, but he’s also blown a save, which happens a lot in the CPBL.  21 year old rookie (he pitched 18.2 innings CPBL major league innings across 16 relief appearances last season) Wu Jun-wei (吳俊偉) has struck out seven in three scoreless relief innings

Former Detroit Tiger Ryan Carpenter and former Padre/Mariner/Cub Donn Roach got hit pretty hard in their first ever CPBL starts.  I had my doubts about the Roach signing after a rough 2019 AAA International League season, but one start doesn’t prove much.

The big story at the plate so far is last season’s home run champ Chu Yu-Hsien (朱育賢), who hit five home runs in his first two games this season and is currently batting .692 (9 for 13) with a 2.538 OPS.  Aside from his league leading 30 dingers last season, he batted .347 with a .605 slugging percentage, which were only good enough for fifth and fourth best respectively, in the hit-happy 4-team circuit.  Here’s video of two of his 2020 home runs.

It’s worth noting that the Monkeys have scored 9, 15 and 11 runs in their three 2020 games so far.  Not surprisingly, they are 3-0 in spite of having allowed 8 and 10 runs in two of the games.  You know what they say — the best defense is a good offense.

Those Dodger Deals

Posted February 11, 2020 by Burly
Categories: Anaheim Angels, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins

The dust has settled, and two of the three big Dodger deals have been completed.  The Bums get Mookie Betts, David Price and half of the $96M still owed to Price in exchange for Alex Verdugo and two prospects, middle infielder Jeter Downs and Connor Wong.  It seems to me like a modest price to pay for one season of Betts and three seasons of Price, particularly when the Dodgers are desperate to win a World Series.

I can’t help but feel that the whole purpose of this move from the Red Sox side of things was to get under the salary cap amount for a year in order to re-load in 2021 or 2022.  Don’t be surprised if the Red Sox are in the running to pay Betts a huge free agent contract next off-season, once the Red Sox have resolved their salary cap issue.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers also traded Kenta Maeda, $10M on Maeda’s remaining contractual guarantee, and 20 year old catching prospect Jair Camargo to the Twins for pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol, corner outfield prospect Luke Raley and the 67th pick in the 2020 draft.  In Graterol and the draft pick, the Dodgers will get some prospects to replace Downs and Wong, and the Twins will get a good major league pitcher for $650,000 a year plus significant bonuses that Maeda earns only if he pitches a lot of innings for the Twins.  Except for the loss of Graterol and the draft pick, it’s almost a no-lose proposition for a Twins team looking to go deep in the play-offs in 2020.

The Red Sox wouldn’t take Graterol despite the obvious talent, because he’s already had one major arm surgery and he’s overweight.  He has closer stuff, however.  Maeda was obviously expendable after the acquisition of Price, and the Dodgers could essentially buy a very good, if not great, draft pick from the Twins with money the Red Sox sent along with Price.  Don’t be surprised if the Dodgers pay half of the money they will owe Price in 2021 and/or 2022 in order to trade him off a year or two from now, when the Dodgers will trying to get under the salary cap for a season before re-loading again.

Reports have it that the Joc PedersonRoss StriplingAndy Pages for Luis Rengifo deal with the Angels has fallen apart, but why exactly no one seems to know.  If the Angels thought the deal would make them better a week ago, I’m not sure why they’d decide against it simply because they had to wait a week for the other Dodger machinations to play out.  Rumors have it that Angels owner Arte Moreno was upset about having this deal put on hold, and it wouldn’t be the first time Moreno has inserted himself into player acquisition issues to the detriment of the team, in that Moreno is supposed to have a major driver of the Albert Pujols deal that turned out to be a disaster for the Halos.

There have also been reports that the Dodgers nixed the Angels deal because the final pieces of the Betts-Price deal were different than expected.  This doesn’t make much sense either, as the Dodgers now have one highly-paid outfielder too many and could assumably still use another young middle infielder.  Maybe the fact that the Dodgers beat Pederson in arbitration, thereby saving $1.75M in 2020, is the reason trading Pederson no longer seemed like a great idea.  The Dodgers may also have realized that throwing in Andy Pages, who had a 1.049 OPS as an 18 year old rookie leaguer in 2019, was too much without a second legitimate prospect from the Angels in return.

All that said, it’s still quite possible that a variation of this deal centered around Pederson and Rengifo goes through before Spring Training starts.

Mike Bolsinger Sues Astros for Sign-Stealing

Posted February 11, 2020 by Burly
Categories: Anaheim Angels, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, NPB, Oakland A's, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Toronto Blue Jays

Mike Bolsinger is suing the Astros for lost earnings as a result of getting hammered and knocked out of the majors by a bad outing against the ‘Stros, with the garbage can banging away in the dugout.  His lawyers certainly found the right plaintiff, a pitcher who got knocked out and immediately sent down with recorded audio proof of the cheating.  MLB Trade Rumors’ Jeff Todd has a good piece which mentions some of the hurdles Bolsinger will face in order to get to discovery, at which point the Astros will probably settle for some several million dollars paid to Bolsinger and his lawyers in order to prevent all of the Astros’ dirty secrets from getting a fuller public airing.

I think it’s likely that the Astros will try to get the case kicked into arbitration, although Bolsinger may have an argument that cheating of this type isn’t covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and thus not arbitrable.  However, disputes as to arbitrability are usually left to the arbitrators themselves to decide — courts love kicking cases off to arbitration in these circumstances, because labor arbitrators have more experience in resolving collectively bargained contracts and issues than state court judges.  Kicking cases into binding arbitration, where both sides are well represented by competent legal counsel also conserves state court judicial resources.

An argument I would expect the Astros’ lawyers to raise is whether a California State Court in Los Angeles has personal jurisdiction to hear this dispute.  As I understand it, most of the sign-stealing cheating took place in Houston, although wikipedia’s description of the methods used suggest they could also have been used on the road so long as the Astros could get a live video-feed of the game.  In any event, the day that Bolsinger got hammered happened in Houston.

Thus, it may be necessary for Bolsinger’s lawyers either to find a California-based pitcher to add as a plaintiff and/or to prove that the Astros were stealing signs in Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco or Oakland.  The lawyers picked L.A. because it has a more liberal judiciary.  Orange County is more conservative, but Alameda County, where the A’s play, would probably have been a better choice, because it would probably be easier to prove the Astros cheated at the Oakland Coliseum than at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

A 2017 U.S. Supreme Court case, Bristol-Myers Squibb, holds that to establish specific personal jurisdiction, the conduct complained of in the lawsuit must arise out of or relate to the defendant’s activities in the forum state such that the forum state’s court may only adjudicate issues deriving from or connected with the present controversy that establishes jurisdiction.  This is why I think Bolsingers’ lawyers need to present evidence that the Astros cheated in California and thus that a pitcher in California was negatively affected by the cheating to establish personal jurisdiction.

As I said, if the lawsuit gets past the pleading stage to discovery, I expect the case to settle.  If it did go to trial, Bolsinger would have a hard time proving damages.  While the outing at issue got him knocked out of the majors, he had a 5.49 ERA going into that game.  He’s also likely to find it nearly impossible to prove he would have made more after he was sent down by the Blue Jays, because he made more money in Japan the last two seasons than he would likely have made in the U.S. even if he’d been able to last a little longer in MLB.

I’m doubtful that any major league team will sign Bolsinger in the future.  They might if he was younger and better, but given where he is in his career, I expect him to be effectively black listed by MLB teams for committing the cardinal sin of suing them.

The 2020 Giants Won’t Be Good, But They’ll Be Familiar

Posted February 8, 2020 by Burly
Categories: Arizona Diamond Backs, Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers

The SF Giants signed Hunter Pence for a reported $3M plus incentives, and they just brought back Pablo about a week ago.  We’ll see if Hunter has one more year in him, and while I’m not too excited about the Panda, I like the fact that the Gints signed all-around infielder Wilmer Flores for his age 28 and 29 seasons at a total of $6M.

Signing Flores is a good move, but it’s not a great move.  It’s more of a signing I’d expect to see from the Royals or the Marlins.  Makes the Giants just good enough not to lose 100, maybe.

I’m actually hoping the Dodgers complete the Mookie Betts, David Price deal.  Even without them, the 2020 and 2021 Giants aren’t likely to compete with the Dodgers the next two years.  In 2022, David Price will be two years older, and Mookie Betts will be gone or an extremely pricey part of the Dodgers’ salary cap considerations.  It’s a win now, pay later strategy, and the Giants won’t be any good until later.

Committed to Rebuilding

Posted January 26, 2020 by Burly
Categories: Anaheim Angels, Pittsburg Pirates, San Francisco Giants

Absent a surprise signing of Nicholas Castellanos, the last remaining elite free agent, it seems clear that the San Francisco Giants are fully committed to a two-year rebuilding process, which will presumably and hopefully end when the Giants get out from under the bulk of their long-term veteran contracts at the end of the 2021 season.  Jeff Samardzija‘s contract comes off the books after this coming season, and the big contracts of Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Johnny Cueto can be gotten out from under by the end of 2021.

The Giants are still on the hook for nearly $15M to Evan Longoria in 2022, but that’s easy enough for a big revenue team like the Giants to handle.

The run of pennant contenders from 2009 through 2016 left the Giants’ farm system utterly bereft, so much so that nearly no one drafted before the 2017 Draft looks likely to develop into a player that could significantly help the Giants reach a future post-season.  With the team’s run of winning seasons having ended, the team has had good first round picks the last three drafts, whom they’ve actually held onto; and 2017 Third Round pick Seth Corry had a 2019 season at full season Class A ball at age 20 that elevates him to elite prospect status.

Heliot Ramos and Joey Bart should be ready for the majors by 2021 or the start of 2022, and the Giants will likely be drafting from a high position at least through the 2022 Draft.  Signing pitchers like Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly says only that the team is committed to not losing 100 games in 2020.

After making qualifying offers to Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, the Giants have 5 of the top 87 draft picks in the 2020 June Draft.  Giants fans have to hope that the team can turn at least two of the four picks after the first round pick into useful major league players.  The Giants have a history of underwhelming with their 2nd round picks, with the notable exception of Bryan Reynolds, who looks like he’s going to be a big star for the Pirates and is one of the many prospects the Giants drafted before 2017 who got traded away for runs at the post-season.

The Giants also essentially bought former Angels No. 15 overall pick in 2019 Will Wilson for Zack Cozart‘s $12M+ 2020 salary and grade-B prospect Garrett Williams, adding one more prime prospect to the mix.  I’m a little sad the Giants have already sought release waivers on Cozart and won’t give him a shot to be a back-up infielder for the Gints, even though I knew at the time they acquired him that the team was solely interested in acquiring Wilson.

It will be worth two more sub-.500 seasons if it means the Giants can actually draft and develop into major league stars a new, affordable core of young players, who can be supplemented with expensive free agents, once the existing big contracts come off the books two years from now.  The plan to rebuild obviously makes sense, and the team is going about it in the right way.  It’s just a matter of whether the team can succeed in drafting the right players and developing them, and also having the good luck of none of the most talented prospects getting seriously hurt.