Archive for May 2017

Another Day, Another Drubbing

May 10, 2017

I’m starting to strongly suspect that I will be adding Buster Posey‘s 2017 to my list of great seasons for terrible teams.  Buster’s home run today was the only thing that saved the San Francisco Giants from consecutive shutouts.

The 2017 Giants are dreadful, and I don’t think it’s too early to write off this season and say wait ’til next year.  It’s hard to believe a team could play this badly through 34 games and not really be  a bad team.  In my mind the only question is how many losses between 85 and 105 they’ll record this season.

Changes are in order, and I don’t see any benefit at this point of waiting to see if the veterans can somehow right the ship.  It’s time to bring up Joan Gregorio and Tyler Beede and plug them into the starting rotation.  Even if they get bombed, they’ll get some valuable major league experience, and it’s doubtful they’ll do any worse than whomever they replace (take your pick).

Dump has-been Justin Ruggiano and demote Gorkys Hernandez, who has proved he hasn’t got it, and bring up two of Carlos Moncrief, Orlando Calixte and Austin Slater.  They may not be any better, but at least they’re younger and might possibly have better seasons in the future.  Use the AAA roster spaces created to promote Chris Shaw and Miguel Gomez from AA Richmond.

It’s definitely time for some heads to roll.

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Gints Stink

May 7, 2017

I’m really starting to think the 2017 San Francisco Giants are just a good old fashioned lousy team. Yeah, yeah, there is still theoretically plenty of time for the Giants to turn things around, but losing back to back games by at least 10 runs is something lousy teams do.  And they were only 11-18 before the last two games.

The Giants have now allowed more runs than any team in MLB and scored more runs only than the K.C. Royals.  Given how early it is in the season, I put more stock in the back to back blow-outs in Cincinnati.

Great teams win a lot of blow-outs, and bad teams lose a lot of blow-outs.  The Giants during the recent run have more than their share of close game wins due to a strong bullpen and good defense.  This year, the bullpen looks pretty poor, and the defense isn’t keeping games close.

Right now, the Giants don’t even have much in the way of veteran talent to trade, in the extremely likely event they are sellers at this year’s trade deadline.  Buster Posey is a franchise player, so it’s hard to imagine the Giants trading him.  Johnny Cueto has a contract, with an opt out this off-season, which dramatically reduces his trade value.

Brandon Belt is playing reasonably well, and his contract is relatively team friendly, so it’s definitely a possibility he could be traded.  However, Belt’s power has been largely swallowed up by AT&T Park, so it may be hard to get his true value on the trade market.

The Giants also don’t have any obvious replacement for Belt, with former 1st round draft pick Chris Shaw looking like he won’t be ready until some time in 2018.  Shaw is presently slashing .306/.422/.529 after 25 games at AA Richmond.

If Shaw keeps hitting, I would expect him to be promoted to AAA Sacramento after another 15 games in AA ball if he keeps hitting the way he has so far.  Then, if he hits quickly at AAA, the odds go up dramatically that the Giants trade Belt in late July for prospects.

We shall see.

Drew Stubbs Out, Justin Ruggiano In

May 6, 2017

After a 2-for-22 start, the San Francisco Giants designated Drew Stubbs for assignment and called up Justin Ruggiano, as the Giants’ game of musical chairs continues.  I’m highly doubtful that Justin Ruggiano is going to solve the problem.

Ruggiano sure didn’t hit in 15 games at AAA Sacramento, slashing .259/.298/.352.  Both Carlos Moncrief (.327/.422/.455) and Orlando Calixte (.265/.314/.427) were hitting better than Ruggiano in the River Cats outfield, and I’d have promoted Moncrief, if the choice were up to me, since neither he nor Ruggiano was on the 40-Man until Stubbs got dropped.

However, not one of the current outfielders on the Giants’ 25-man roster currently has an OPS as high as .700, so Ruggiano should fit right in.  Anyway, he’ll get a shot at having one last major league hurrah at age 35.

In other news, the Arizona Diamondbacks promoted former Giant outfielder Gregor Blanco to the majors after what appears to be some minor league rehab.  Blanco got a hit in his first plate appearance of the 2017 MLB season.

I can certainly see why the Giants decided to let Blanco and Angel Pagan walk after the 2016 season, but it sure hasn’t turned out the way the Giants hoped.

What’s Become of Tim Lincecum?

May 4, 2017

Is Tim Lincecum‘s baseball career over?  Probably, but who knows?

I was wondering what Timmy has been up to today, but I can’t find any information since a February 23 mlbtraderumors.com post saying that he was planning a show case for scouts.  After that, nothing.  I don’t even know if the showcase happened, but I’d guess not.

Tim turns 33 in June, so he’s certainly at an age where retirement seems likely if his body isn’t healthy and pain free.  He’s made plenty of money playing baseball, which may mean that he has no incentive to play in the minors again, unless he’s really burning to keep playing baseball simply because he enjoys it.

Tim wanted to continue being a starter, and his options there are few, although an Indy-A Atlantic League team would have snapped him up in a New York second and put him into the starting rotation if he were willing to play at this level.

If he was willing to pitch out of the bullpen, then I’d have to think at least one MLB organization would have signed him, if he were healthy enough to pitch.

It’s still early May, so we can’t completely write off Tim taking another stab at professional baseball.  However, the silence is deafening and surely is not a good sign.

Last Place Blues

May 4, 2017

As of this moment, every team in the San Francisco Giants’ organization is in last place in its respective division in its respective league.  The major league club is 11-18; the AAA Sacramento River Cats are 9-17; the AA Richmond Flying Squirrels are 9-14; the A+ San Jose Giants are 12-15; and the Class A Augusta GreenJackets are 10-16.  Yeesh!

If the major league team doesn’t start to turn things around right quick, it would behoove the organization to be trade deadline sellers this year.  Years as contenders and buyers has left the organization with what appears to be a major talent deficit.  A new infusion of talent looks sorely needed.

What Do KBO Baseball Players Make 2017

May 3, 2017

Before the 2014 season, I wrote a post about the highest paid players in South Korea’s KBO.  The best paid player in 2014 (Kim Tae-kyun) made about $1.4 million, and he was the only player to make more than $1M in 2014, probably including foreigners.

The last three years have seen huge growth in KBO salaries, at least considering the starting point.  Early this past off-season, Choi Hyung-woo received the KBO’s first 10 billion won contract ($8.8M at current exchange rates) for four years of service, so $2.2M per year.  Later in the off-season, former NBPer and MLBer Lee Dae-ho signed a 15 billion won ($13.2M), four year deal, so $3.4M per year.

Meanwhile, foreign veteran Dustin Nippert signed a record-setting $2.1M one year deal, becoming the first foreign player to make $2M a year.  KBO Rookies Jeff Manship, Alexi Ogando and Carlos Villanueva signed one year deals for $1.8M, $1.8M and $1.5M, respectively.

As you can see, those are dramatic increases for top players from three years ago.  However, the KBO minimum wage was only about $25,000 three years ago, and probably still isn’t much above $30,000 now, if that.

I fully expect that KBO salaries won’t increase significantly in the next year.  Choi, Lee and Nippert are all special players in the history of the KBO, and more importantly, signings this off-season were huge because the KBO hoped to get a big bump by the National Team’s performance in the World Baseball Classic, with many of the Asian games played in South Korea.

Instead, the Korean team underwhelmed again, and attendance is down 8% early in the 2017 season.  That doesn’t sound like a recipe for any more record-breaking contracts next off-season.

What Do NPB Baseball Players Make 2017

May 2, 2017

Here’s a list (from a guy who has been providing a great deal of English language information on NPB salaries the last couple of years) of the 105 best paid players in Japan’s NPB in 2017.  From what I know about the subject, his numbers look spot on.

Three players are making 500 million yen (about $4.5 million at current exchange rates) this season: Ernesto Mejia, Chihiro Kaneko, and Dennis Sarfate.  Mejia is a slugger who hit 96 home runs for the Seibu Lions from 2014-2016, Kaneko is probably the best Japanese starter of recent seasons not to make a stab at MLB, and Sarfate is almost unquestionably the best foreign closer in NPB history.

Former NY Yankee Hiroki Kuroda made 600 million yen (about $5.4M) in 2016, but he retired after the season, perhaps in some part due to the fact that his team, the Hiroshima Carp, was reluctant to continue paying him this kind of money for merely very good performance.

The twelve players tied for 94th place on the list are making a cool 100 million yen, or $900,000, which is a lot less than what MLB stars make.  In fact, the average MLB salary in 2017 is reported to be $4.47 million, which is at least ten times more than the average NPB salary.  In fact, given that the NPB salary structure is similar to MLB (a relatively small number of very highly paid stars compared to a much larger number of players who make less than the average), I would guess that a majority of NPB players will earn less than $300,000 this season.

The numbers in the list apparently do not include performance bonuses, which can be substantial, particularly for foreign players.  By the same token, KBO teams, despite substantially smaller revenue streams, are now paying the best foreign pitcher prospects first year salaries of $1.5M to $1.8M, which is why some of the best available players from the Americas are now going to South Korea instead of Japan.