Archive for the ‘San Francisco Giants’ category

The Demise of the Everyday Player

August 10, 2017

Years and years ago I read a piece by Bill James in which he argued that Cal Ripken‘s decision to keep his consecutive game streak alive was actually detrimental to the Baltimore Orioles’ ultimate goal of winning as many games as possible.  The article made a lot of sense to me: playing every single game, even by the very best players, means that the player plays a lot of games when he’s exhausted and/or has minor injuries, which can’t heal properly because the player is playing six days a week; under those circumstances, even the best major league players aren’t necessarily playing as well as the replacement-level player sitting in the team’s bench would.

[In fairness to Ripken, the Orioles’ true ultimate goal was putting as many cans in the seats as possible.  Being Cal Ripken, playing every game every day for a generation, probably was pretty good for Orioles’ attendance during that streak.]

Cal Ripken’s consecutive games streak is a record that probably never will be broken because it seems that MLB teams now agree whole-heartedly with what James argued all those years ago.  In contrast to the Asian leagues, where playing every day in leagues that play shorter schedules and have more rain-outs is still commendable, MLB teams have clearly decided that the occasional day off is more valuable than playing every single game.

Looking at the 17 full seasons from 2000 through 2016, the shift from playing every single game seems to have taken hold after the 2008 season.  In the nine seasons from 2000 through 2008, an average of 6.33 players per season played in all 162 games.  In the eight full seasons since then, only 2.5 players per season have played 162 games in a season.

Even players who manage to play at least 160 games in a season seems in decline.  In the 14 seasons from 2000 through 2013, an average of 13.6 players played at least 160 games per season.  In the last three seasons, that average has dropped almost in half to seven per season. The recent low seasons could be a result of a small sample fluke, but I don’t think so.

Just as teams have learned that using more and more relief pitchers pitching more and more total innings results in fewer runs scored by the opposition, teams have also learned that keeping their stars properly rested and their bench players sharp results in better won-loss results.  The good managers, and I consider the Giants’ Bruce Boche one of them, realize that keeping the stars fresh and the bench players sharp has a lot more value than riding the race horses until they inevitably drop.

For what it’s worth, Justin Morneau is the last player to play 163 games in a season.  Morneau’s 2008 Twins lost their 163rd game to the White Sox, sending the latter team to a brief post season and former team home.  The all-time record for games played in a season is Maury Wills‘ 165: he played all 162 regular season games and all three games to decide the pennant against the Giants.  That was the year Wills set then records for plate appearances and stolen bases in a season.



Heliot Ramos and Jacob Gonzalez Update

August 9, 2017

In what has been a bleak season for the San Francisco Giants at all levels, one bright spot has been the strong starts of 1st and 2nd Round 2017 Draft picks Heliot Ramos and Jacob Gonzalez in the Rookie Arizona League.

CF Ramos, age 17, currently has the fifth best OPS (.975) in his league, and the third best OPS among hitters under the age of 20.  3B Gonzalez, age 19, has the league’s 9th best OPS (.911), and the 4th best among hitters under 20.  Their batting averages are also high, which you like to see in your prospects.

We are only 35 games into the Arizona League season, and Ramos and Gonzalez have played in only 26 and 28 games, respectively.  Even so, it’s better to get your professional career off to a strong start than a slow one.

The AZL Giants are currently 23-12, with the league’s best overall record (the league plays a split season in spite of being a short season league), which is a pleasant change from the sorry records of the Giants’ full season minor league squads this year.

The best of the rest of the AZL Giants’ position players so far in 2017 is 18 year old Nicaraguan Ismael Munguia.  He’s hitting for average and has an .881 OPS after 24 games, mostly in left field.  He’ll have to hit to move up at that position, although there are suggestions he may have enough arm to play right field.

Weilly Yan (21), Camilio Duval (20), Franklin Van Gurp (21), and Keenan Bartlett (21) have all pitched well in terms of ERA and strikeout rates.  2017 3rd Round Draft Pick Seth Correy (18) has a 1.88 ERA and has struck out 14 in 14.1 innings pitched, but has been wild, allowing 13 walks.  Correy is obviously the best prospect here, with Duval, who is in his age 19 season and only just turned 20, the second best as of this moment.

Waiting for Draft Day 2018

July 31, 2017

The 2017 trade deadline has come and gone with the San Francisco Giants apparently making no more trades after sending away Eduardo Nunez five days ago. Sigh.

Grant Bisbee at the McCovey Chronicles points out that the Giants still have 31 days to make waiver deals, which should be easy for any Giants starter the team wishes to move, since their contracts essentially bar waiver claims.  Even so, I don’t see the Giants getting a big return on anyone the team might trade going forward.

The Giants are almost certainly a lock on top five draft picks in next year’s domestic and international amateur drafts.  The last time the Giants had a top five draft pick in the draft, they selected Buster Posey.  Their three other top five draft picks in the Draft era were Jason Grilli, Matt Williams and Will Clark.

The odds are good indeed that the Giants will get at least one player who will really help them next June.  Perhaps they’ll also be able to use their high draft slot to get some real talent in the later rounds too.

If the Giants don’t play much better in the first half of 2018, next July will be the time of the big fire sale.  Posey and Brandon Crawford will be 31 next season, and Brandon Belt will be 30.  The window built around this core will be closing rapidly, as will these players’ trade values.

San Francisco Giants Trade Eduardo Nunez to Red Sox for Prospects

July 26, 2017

Thankfully, the Giants traded Eduardo Nunez to the Boston Red Sox last night for two right-handed pitching prospects, Shaun Anderson and Gregory Santos.  Both Anderson and Santos look like Grade B prospects to me, but Nunez is only a two month rental before he becomes a free agent this coming off-season, so I’m glad the Giants pulled the trigger and got something.  Right now, the Giants need organizational depth, even if they can’t get anything more.

Anderson is 22 this year and a former 3rd round draft pick.  He’s roughly split the 2017 season so far between full-season A and A+ ball, not surprisingly pitching a lot better in the former than in the latter.  Anderson’s strikeout rates at these levels aren’t particularly impressive, but it’s hard to know, because he pitched only 2.2 professional innings before this season.  I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if his strikeout rate drops dramatically when he reaches AA.

I like Santos better as a prospect, mainly because he hasn’t even turned 18 yet.  He’s pitching very well in his second season in the Dominican Summer League, where he has an 0.90 ERA after seven starts.  His strikeout rates are not impressive, but he may still be learning how to pitch, and his strikeout rates may improve once he learns how better to set hitters up for his strikeout pitches, or he improves his strikeout pitches.  He’s listed as 6’2″ and 190 lbs, which sounds like he’s got a projectable body for this age.

The odds that either Anderson or Santos will eventually have a significant major league career probably aren’t great.  With Santos in particular, he’s got a lot of years in which to potentially blow out his arm before he ever reaches the majors.

Giants’ management has talked about “reloading” for 2018, rather than “rebuilding” this trade deadline, but this is much more a “rebuilding” move, as the odds are slim and none that either Anderson or Santos will contribute anything to the major league club in 2018.

Assuming the Giants intend to keep Brandon Belt, I was kind of hoping that a Nunez deal with the Red Sox might include Chris Shaw, a Massachusetts native and Boston College star, whose minor league defensive numbers suggest he’s an American League 1B/DH type, in exchange for at least one Grade-A prospect.  However, Shaw has gone cold again at AAA this past week, and it’s possible the Giants still value him more highly than anyone else does, since they drafted him only two years ago.

I hopeful that Nunez won’t be the only veteran the Giants move for prospects of almost any caliber before the trade deadline passes.  The Giants need all the additional young talent they can get and then some.

Maybe Chris Shaw Is the Trade Chip

July 20, 2017

The Giants need to be sellers this trade deadline, but they don’t have a lot to sell.  One player who could get them real value in return is 1Bman Brandon Belt, particularly because the organization has 23 year old Chris Shaw knocking at the door.

From everything I’ve read, though, Giants management sees Belt as part of the core of the team around which they wish to “reload” rather than “rebuild.”  Maybe the answer is including Chris Shaw in a deadline trade, rather than Belt.

Shaw, a former late 1st round draft pick, is currently batting .302 with an .871 OPS after 47 games at AAA Sacramento.  He’s very close to being ready, at least with the bat.

However, left-handed hitting 1Bman playing their home games at AT&T Park have to be able to play defense, because the ballpark robs them of much of their power.  Brandon Belt can pick it.  Chris Shaw’s raw minor league numbers suggest that he would be a major league liability on defense, whether at 1B or LF, where he has played exclusively at the latter since his promotion to AAA.

The Giants have a lot of starters (Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore) who might draw some interest, but who probably wouldn’t command much in return based on their 2017 performances and/or contract situations.  Perhaps packaged with Shaw, who is a legitimate A-level prospect to an American League team who could use him as a 1B/DH, the Giants could trade one of their pitchers and get real value in return.

If the Giants plan to keep Belt, then trading away youngster Shaw, as part of a package that brings the Gints more young talent, would make a lot of sense.

San Francisco Giants Bringing Back Pablo Sandoval

July 20, 2017

The Giants are bringing Pablo back!  It’s a move born of desperation on both sides, but as a Giants’ fan, of course I love it.

I’m doubtful Pablo has a lot left.  His inability to push himself away from the dinner table has taken its tole on his body.  But, on a minor league deal it’s a no-lose proposition.

Still, the Giants know Pablo, and Pablo knows the Giants.  Maybe the Giants will expend $75,000 for a year on a full-time personal trainer who can whip Pablo back into shape.  From what I’ve read, Pablo will work hard in the gym and eat healthy so long as he has someone working with him consistently (constantly).

Then, who knows?  The raw baseball skills have always been there.

I like this move for reasons beyond the obvious.  The Giants in the Sabean ERA have consistently rewarded the players who they developed and played well for them.  I strongly believe this faithfulness has more often than not brought out the best in their players and helped them break the San Francisco curse, not once but three times in five seasons.  Obviously, scouting and trading for the right players has helped too.

Fans in Sacramento will enjoy seeing Pablo suit up for the River Cats.  I also believe that having your minor league clubs within reasonable driving distance for fans to be able to at least see the major league squad a few times a season is good for the organization and the box office at all levels.

It doesn’t hurt to have the minor league squads pay for themselves.  The River Cats have the third best per game attendance despite having the 14th best record (out of 16) in this year’s Pacific Coast League.

As a final note, teams should be more willing either to pay for personal trainers or require the player as part of his contract to hire a personal trainer, at least in situations like Pablo’s.  Traditionally, teams have left it up to the players to get themselves in elite condition, since the player ultimately has more to gain or lose by the seriousness with which he takes his own conditioning.

Sometimes, though, you have a player like Pablo, with exceptional talent, but less than exceptional maturity and discipline, who needs a helping hand.  Personal trainers cost pennies to the dollars invested in elite players, so why not find a way to get them involved, at least so long as the player will work hard if he someone pushing him during his professional down time.

In Pablo’s case, it might have made, and might yet make, a real difference.

San Francisco Giants Sign Free Agent Amateur Jack Conlon

July 18, 2017

In something you don’t hear about too often, the Giants just signed high school pitcher Jack Conlon.  Conlon had been drafted by the Orioles in the fourth round of this year’s draft, but they didn’t like the results of his physical, and didn’t make him an offer in any amount.

If a drafted player does not receive an offer of at least 40% of the slot amount for his selection in the draft, the player becomes an unrestricted free agent when the signing period ends, and the team does not get a compensatory pick in the next year’s draft.

Conlon’s slot amount was $409,000, so the O’s needed to make him an offer of about $164,000 to get a compensatory pick in the 2018 draft.  Apparently, the O’s didn’t think he was worth even the 164K.

Although the number of his contract with the Giants haven’t yet been reported, it seems likely the Giants offered him at least 164K, since he had committed to play for Texas A&M.  A four-year college scholarship has to be worth at least that much today.

Baseball America ranked Conlon at 239th in their list of the top 500 prospects in this year’s draft, which is about the sixth round.  Clearly, the Giants are not as worried about the physical exam results as the Orioles were.

Baseball America suggests he’s something of a project, but he can touch 95 with his fastball and has a body that projects to being able to throw mid-90’s on a regular basis.  Good things are said about his work ethic.

Whether or not Conlon ever amounts to anything, the Giants can use all the extra talent they can get right now.