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Forgot to add:  great article, thanks for putting this all together, as well as pulling in comments from our minor league broadcasters, and putting up all the Top 10 lists out so far, great reference article as well as educational about Crick.  

In addition, I think Crick's going to have a good season in Sacto (oh, another reason to send Susac to AAA, that's his hometown, he might appreciate that), perhaps not good enough for many to appreciate, but wildness can work, look at what Dirty did for us for a few seasons, Sanchez helped us become relevant and was critical to us winning in 2010.  If Crick can deliver that one good season to help us win another one, it'll be all worth it.

2 months ago on Those who’ve watched Kyle Crick the most still think he’s the Giants’ top prospect


People need to remember some important facts about Crick.

First is that this is really only his fourth full season as a starting pitcher.  He was doing other stuff until his senior season.  Thus there are Little Leaguers who have more experience pitching than he does.

Second is that being able to strike out batters is a gift that can't be learned very easily.  He has that mystical "stuff" that high velocity pitchers seem to have to use to strike out hitters easily.   He's also wild, which minimizes the value of that stuff.

Third, that brings us back to the first point that he's very inexperience and thus not consistent with his mechanics, due to that lack of experience.  He can't always repeat his mechanics consistently.  However, when he is on, he does well.  If you look over his 2014 season, you will find games where he can't find home plate, but in half his starts, he had at least twice as many strikeouts as walks, a critical performance necessary to throw a good game and have a quality start.  Only the best pitchers can do that regularly.  

Fourth, meanwhile, wild or not, he regularly strikes out a lot of batters.  In 80% of his starts, he struck out a significant number of batters given his IP.   As he gets more experienced (and as his age catches up with the league that he is in), he will get more and more consistent in avoiding walks while striking out a lot of batters.  

Thus, overall, the key to remember is that a pitcher can still be very wild and still good in the majors because he strikes out so many batters.  Strikeouts make up for a multitude of walks because when one can pile up strikeouts, it reduces the number of balls in play and thus the number of hits.  He might give up an extra walk or two in a game, but because he strikes out so many, he gives up at least one less hit as well.  And one rarely walks in a run, but hits can and do result in RBI's. 

So while I'm not yet confident he will make it to the majors and be a #2 starter as some experts think is his best case, I still think that he's a significant prospect, I don't think his struggles have diminished my feelings about him being a prospect, and I still have hope that with further development and experience, he will figure things out and be a good starting pitcher for our MLB team.  And remember:  he's only 22 YO for the 2015 season, prospects generally don't fizzle out until they reach 26-27, so he still has a lot of time to develop before his prospect status gets dire, like Brown.

2 months ago on Those who’ve watched Kyle Crick the most still think he’s the Giants’ top prospect


@Eric I think Susac will be prepared by the Giants to be a starting catcher, good for trade value, but more as Posey's eventual replacement.  That would mean putting him in AAA to continue to get playing time and working on things (he still have things to work on).

2 months ago on Those who’ve watched Kyle Crick the most still think he’s the Giants’ top prospect


@pejofra I would also add that the Giants appear to be getting close to developing that OF, both Mac Williamson and Daniel Carbonell are getting good reviews as well as performing well.  Williamson probably would have taken the role that Ishikawa got in late 2014 had he not had TJS surgery and assuming he continued to develop and hit well in AA, he might have made the same jump as Sandoval did.

Plus Brown, while he hasn't hit in a while, has been very good defensively in CF, and he could take on Blanco's role once he runs out of options in a year or two.  He's not as good offensively, but he's very good defensively.  Even if he is replacement level hitter (that is, zero value), he probably can deliver 1-2 WAR just on defense alone, he has great speed and great instincts in the OF, as he was just a 2B before, but his college coach stuck him in CF and he was a great fielder from the start.

And given his bat speed, I still have hopes that he can still figure things out eventually, as he reaches his prime years in his late 20's.  A late bloomer, much like he was in college, not that good early on as freshman, OK sophomore season, then he exploded in junior season, leading to his first round ranking and selection.  I would remind people that his last college season was a better batting line than Evan Longoria put up in the same college conference just a couple of seasons before.

2 months ago on Those who’ve watched Kyle Crick the most still think he’s the Giants’ top prospect


@T Actually, Susac only lasted to the second round, when the Giants drafted him late in the second round.  

I was pretty excited when they did that, he was getting a lot of notice for late first round, early second round, so when he fell to us and we got him, I was pumped.  It also helped that he was a local boy (local enough, from Sacto area) and to learn that his boyhood team was the Giants brought up Crawford memories for me.  His broken hamate bone (same injury as Sandoval) sapped his power and enabled him to fall to us.  I guess it was just fate, just like Crawford falling into our hands, he was ranked as a Top 10-15 prospect before the season of his draft, but a poor offensive season made him drop all the way down to us in the 4th round.

2 months ago on Those who’ve watched Kyle Crick the most still think he’s the Giants’ top prospect


@pejofra Baseball is a humbling business.  Sure, the Giants haven't developed an OF.  Before Posey, they have never really developed a great catcher either.  Belt is probably the best since Will Clark.  Sandoval best since Williams.  

My point is that it is very hard to develop a good player at every position on the field all at the roughly same time period.  Find me a team that has done that in the history of baseball, develop good players for every starting position on the field.  Then add in the starting rotation.  I would bet that you would find that the Giants are and have been one of the best teams built on internal player development over the years.  

People focus too much on the negative.  Part of it is ignorance, just because a team has a weak position or two does not mean that they have a weak offense, look at any team above the league average and you will find that they have weaknesses too, just less than the ones below average.  Same with starting rotations.

Where the Giants have excelled is in having great starting rotations made up of great pitchers, plus a great bullpen and good defense (mostly), leading generally to a top defensive team, keeping runs allowed on the low side.  That allows them to carry weak offensive teams to win a lot of games, like in 2010, and to win a lot more games when the offense is better, as they did in late 2012 and early 2014.  

Sure, they haven't developed a good OF.  That hasn't really bothered them much in 2010 to 2014 so far, has it?

2 months ago on Those who’ve watched Kyle Crick the most still think he’s the Giants’ top prospect


@Pulgas de Brent Burns I've never seen one comment anywhere where a Giants fan was jealous of the A's.  We of course wanted a Worlds Championship but not because the A's had one, but just because we never had one.  

For me, the A's were just there, local, so I paid attention to them.  But I was never jealous of them, was happy for their success until it got A's fan head too large.

2 months, 3 weeks ago on The curious rivalry of the A’s and Giants


Here's my perspective.  I grew up a Giants fan in A's country.  I was happy for them while they were winning World Series in the early 70's and felt bad for them when things weren't going well.  I wasn't a fan - I would never wear that ugly split cap - but I would at least root for them

Then, things started to change.  For decades (80's and 90's), the A's had a billboard up that greeted every car coming off the Bay Bridge touting all their championships and rubbing it into the Giants fans wounds.  They might have continued it into the new millennium but by then I didn't take the Bay Bridge much anymore.

But yeah, social media has made it exponentially worse, from my experience, as A's fans have been pretty mean about things.  For a prime example, there was that guy's ad for Barry Zito on BB-Ref after he signed with the Giants, saying that "true" fans would want championships over a shiny park and garlic fries, there were lots of A's fans were like that before 2010 rubbing it in, he even kept it up until the 2013 season, at which point even he acknowledge the Giants goodness, even if there were still Giants fans who thought that they were lucky.  I understand good rivalry and ribbing, but they crossed the line repeatedly as far as I was concerned.

It didn't help when I was in line for the Giants first trophy that a boorish A's fan was loudly talking to his relatives who were Giants fans.  They were very nice putting up with their Uncle, but while they were a clean-cut middle-class family, the A's guy was wearing one of those satiny team jacket that looked like he's been wearing it since the early 1970's, and it looked like he hadn't cleaned it since then either, probably because it was so ratty that it would have fallen apart in the washing machine.  He proudly and loudly for everyone in line to hear that the A's had three of them trophies at the Coliseum (yeah, like you, I had to mentally count and I was right, the A's should have four of them, some A's fan!).

So where I am right now is I would be happy if the A's moved away and left the Bay Area to the Giants.  They carpetbagged into the region without paying the Giants any fees back then, so they may as well keep on moving.  I would be OK with them moving into the South Bay and San Jose, if they were to give the Giants some slice of their future revenues or some huge lump-sum payment ($100M seems like a good number, from what I remember from the Nats and O's).  The A's owner has pocketed over $200M since he took over, anyway, so he's got the money somewhere.

2 months, 3 weeks ago on The curious rivalry of the A’s and Giants


Thanks for the great interview, really enjoyed it!

Sounds like it was a lot of fun flying out and being part of the trophy's entourage, were you allowed to touch it?

And too bad you couldn't have fit in the Wilson question, but I was really happy to see you ask him about Sandoval.  He danced that line pretty well, as he usually does, he's good speaking in an open question setting like this, unlike Sabean, who probably figures his recent success has freed him from having to do PR work like this for the team anymore, hence why he's doing less and Evans is doing more.  I can appreciate that, I don't like taking open questions from the floor, I'm not good at reacting in the moment, I need time to think out my reply and cover every angle.

2 months, 3 weeks ago on Q&A with Giants CEO Larry Baer on Lester, Sandoval and more


@pejofra @BASportsGuy Over the past three years, Sandoval ISO of 144, Crawford ISO of 143.  Posey, Belt, Pence all have ISO around 180.

So, no, he don't have the power.

And people are forgetting, we don't have to replace him.  We still have a good lineup even without him, above average, with Pagan, Panik, Belt, Posey, Pence (and remember, Belt, Posey, Pence, Pablo was the lineup after Belt adopted the grip, even in 2013).  Crawford in 2014 would have been above average 6th hitter, but assuming the Giants pick up a good hitter for LF, he would hit 6th and Crawford would be an even better 7th hitter.

And 8th hitters are so bad in the NL that Arias, Adrianza, and Duffy were all close enough in OPs batting line that a good glove would make him an above average 8th hitter, in terms of WAR.

And Arias, Adrianza, and Duffy are probably good defensively at 3B.  Arias last season had better advanced fielding metrics on a seasonal basis than Sandoval.  Adrianza is such a whiz at SS that 3B should also be great too if he's put there.  Duffy I'm not as sure about, but he's a SS, so I would think that at worse he's not that far behind Sandoval defensively.

And I suppose you have forgotten that he got so fat in 2010 that the Giants benched him in the WORLD SERIES for Renteria, who was 1 for 16 in the NLCS.  

4 months, 3 weeks ago on Pablo Sandoval’s actions and words don’t mesh


@Tod in Austin This is exactly why this is called "Negotiations" and not "Show me Da Monay NOW".

This shows exactly how much inexperience in negotiation (and probably lack of training) that Sandoval's agents have, something I and others have been saying since the agent's stuff hit the fan in spring.  Instead of understanding that the player starts high and the team starts low, and NEGOTIATIONS brings them together, he got upset over it, said so openly to the press, and probably poisoned any good will the Giants had with Sandoval.

Which was fine with me, because while I like the original AAV, I don't want to be paying $20M for a 700's OPS hitter.  

They are very lucky that Boston suddenly fell in love with Pablo and had the wherewithal to pay what they want.  And I seriously doubt that the Padres rumored bid was even true, has the team even confirmed that it was?  It was totally out of character for them to do that, and they don't really have the money to spend that much on Pablo.

And given how this played out, I have to wonder if Boston had illegally passed information to Sandoval's team of agents before the free agency period.  

Still, no matter what, I'm happy with the outcome.   I love the Panda, but I don't want to pay $20M for 5 years for Pablo, as we haven't seen the Panda since 2009, he's been MIA too often to deserve such a big contract.  

4 months, 3 weeks ago on Pablo Sandoval’s actions and words don’t mesh


@Danielroc1 He's been in a slump since 2012, and he hasn't been the Panda over a full season since 2009 too, because of one thing or another.

It's like what happened to Pee Wee Reiser, great player when on the field, but for one reason or another, could not stay on the field, could not perform like he can over a full season.

4 months, 3 weeks ago on Pablo Sandoval’s actions and words don’t mesh


@Tod in Austin Totally agree!  The Yes-men took advantage of the Panda and got him to believe his hype.  I was kind of worried about that in spring when the agent said what he said about the 3 year, $40M original offer, that reminded me about what Albert Pujols said about the Cards first contract offer.

Which made me wonder if both the Cards and Giants did that intentionally so that no matter what they offer, the players would move on.  

Yes, speculation, but it does seem that way, no?

4 months, 3 weeks ago on Pablo Sandoval’s actions and words don’t mesh


@coredump Honestly, I think this is overblown.  How many Panda hats can be bought?  T-shirts?  I bought mine long ago, haven't worn them in years or felt the need to buy another.  I imagine that most people, except for the ones wearing the Panda costumes at home games, had bought their Panda-phernalia long ago.  

Speaking of Panda's, this is the second Giants player who developed a costumed following who has left the team in an awkward and kind of ugly way:  Melky had his Milkmen, and he left the team in an ugly way.

4 months, 3 weeks ago on Pablo Sandoval’s actions and words don’t mesh


@pejofra He's not the best.  He has had mid-700 OPS the past three years, that's certainly not the best, though I'm not sure who is better, well, at least Pence is better, and for more power, actually, now that I think of it.  

I'm going to miss him doing what the Panda does, but unfortunately for Boston fans, he hasn't consistently done what the Panda did since 2011.  He's been mostly Pablo the past three years, except for the playoffs.  So that's my warning to Boston fans, that Panda they saw in Sandoval's presser has been MIA a lot since really 2009, even in 2011, he broke a hamate and missed many games.

At this point, I think one can say, if it's not one thing, it's another.  For example, I had been pointing out that Sandoval shot his season in the foot by following Miggy's recommendation that superstars takes walks for the first month plus.  He hit close to 800 OPS the rest of the season!  Still, every year, it's something else causing him to do poorly, while he plays well the rest of the season.  Hamstring.  Hamate bone, twice!  Every year it's another thing.

Same thing that derailed Dirty.  He was ready to put it all together, but goes to the WBC, copies Johan - smart - but copies his throwing mechanics - stupid - which works for Johan because he's much shorter than Sanchez, but not for Sanchez.  Bochy skips a start, Righetti does his magic, and Dirty throws a no-hitter!

4 months, 3 weeks ago on Pablo Sandoval’s actions and words don’t mesh


Congrats on the baby!!!  Best advice anyone gave me was to drive the kid around in a car when they won't stop crying.  Most of the time, puts them to sleep (I heard a running washer/dryer works too, but the thought of that scared me), but at worse, your spouse gets some moments of quiet and freedom from responsibility (quite valuable, as I'm sure you are learning).  

4 months, 4 weeks ago on Waking up from a dream


The difference between 1987, 2002, and 2014 is that in 1987, we knew that we would be better off pitching Krukow instead of Hammaker (4 days in between starts), in 2002, we knew that we would be better off pitching Rueter over Livan (4 days in between starts), but in 2014, Bumgarner only has 3 days in between, and Hudson is no Livan or Hammaker, soft in the underbelly, or as Huddy noted before the Nats series, he has a pair hanging there.  

Or, at least hopefully that is the difference!  

And nice ending, you sure got me!  I would also note 2012's coming back from elimination twice.

5 months, 2 weeks ago on 10 predictions for Game 7 of the World Series


Nice recounting.  I was there too, but up in the cheap seats.  For a moment, I wondered what would happen if the top fell on the bottom.  I mostly had a similar experience.  I splurged and got a handheld TV at Radio Shack, to go with my radio.  I was watching the feed when the earthquake hit.  I recall the cheer that the crowd made and I stood up and howled too.  But like you, soon reality set in.  

Being older, I didn't expect the Giants to win, but was just hoping that we could win one, then there would be five games and I would be able to bring my Uncle to game 5, as he was a big Giants fan.  

Thanks for the reminder that it's been 25 years, take care.

6 months ago on Conversation @


Bochy explained why he didn't name his game 3 and 4 starters in the same interview:  he said that everybody will be available for bullpen duty during games 1 and 2, but that anybody can see what he did in the NLDS for a guess at what they might be.  

Hudson's hip looked pretty good the day of his start, did you hear something that was not publicly reported regarding his health?

6 months ago on Bruce Bochy doesn’t seem fully confident in Game 3 and 4 starters


Can't a player develop and figure some things out?  Panik was hitting roughly .500 OPS a little over a month ago, so what Sabean said back then was true.  And, for that matter, not that many days/games ago he was still roughly .500 OPS, so it was true for a long time still, up to this roadtrip.  And not that many days ago, fans were going crazy over Duffy coming up and doing something.  

And hopefully Panik is figuring things out.  The key thing is his contact rate and walk-to-K ratio have been good in his time up here, even though his batting line was not that good.  Not that I'm comping him to this other hitter, but Pedroia did the same thing in his early days, good contact and W/K ratio but poor batting line, before figuring things out in the majors.   For a closer example, Crawford started off his MLB career with good contact and W/K ratio but poor batting line too.  Generally, hitters with good contact and W/K ratio tends to be good hitters, but like the Normal Curve, there are those who end up not being all that good a hitter, after all.  

So, it don't mean that Panik is even the starting 2B for the near term, let alone 2015.  He needs to continue to show that these past few games of hitting is him and not all the oh-for's that he had before.  He's also going to need to hit for more power if he's going to stick as a starter, otherwise he's going to be the new Burriss.  And Hicks looked like the answer for about a month before he played himself out of the majors.  Panik has looked like the answer for, at best, this road trip.  For historical perspective, both Herndon and Gladden looked like the answer after a great half season of playing and ended up not being the answer at all.  

And I like his chances of being the 2015 starter, but it's all too soon to put that label on him, he's going to need to prove himself to be new and improved and not just going through a nice lucky streak the past few games.  Baseball's unrelenting stream of games have a way of exposing both talent and luck rather quickly.  But definitely enjoy the streak, much like we enjoyed Hicks streak early this season.

8 months, 1 week ago on Panik on fire, Sandoval in contract zone, Morse goes RBI-crazy, Giants win 7-3


@paperback writer I concur regarding Bochy.  

My research has found that he's one of the rare managers who can win close games, his record in 1-run games is statistically significant shown to be be above .500, which sabermetrics says managers regress to a .500 mean, so he's a rare bird.  Thus far in his career, he has averaged 4 games over .500 per season in 1-run games, so despite a near .500 career record, his managing has added four wins on average to the teams that he has managed.

Not so good this season so far, minus 3, but over his career, better than anyone else I researched in the NL, Dusty Baker was a far second, averaging roughly 2 games over .500, Cox was good for most of his career, but faltered near the end, LaRussa was never good at it, Torres was only good with the Yankees, bad with losing teams (Bochy was good with both good and bad Padres and Giants teams).  

8 months, 3 weeks ago on What now, Mr. Sabean?


Teams have shallow talent in their minors when they are mostly playing playoff competitive ball.  That's the way the draft works, the biggest and best talents are in the Top 5-10, and so if you are mediocre or good, you have much lower chances of drafting the talent you need in the minors.  That's why the A's had to sell off their best players about 5 years ago, they were competitive before and their minors dried up, and so he had to sell, sell, sell.  Most draft picks are busts at being significant contributors to the team, a good starter somewhere on the field.  Most good teams do not have much depth or success in the draft.

In addition, the Giants best prospects lately has rose fast.  For many teams, their Bumgarner and Belts would still be in their farm system, right now, about to get into the Big Show, instead of being 4-5 season vets as Bumgarner and Belt are right now.  And before that, Cain, Lincecum, Sandoval, Posey all reached the majors at a very young age.  Meanwhile, the Reds had Homer Bailey available forever in the minors, it took him a while to stick in the majors, but they had "depth" because he was there in the minors, available.  That's how good teams have "depth".

That's why the Giants depth is short, look at the Giants roster, see how many homegrown players we have as starters or significant players, and compare that to other teams, you'll see that the Giants have built from within much better than other teams.

Little depth is just a fact of life when you are competitive and has been good at rapidly developing the good players you do find and promoting them to the big show.  If you want depth, then the Giants would have to do what Houston and Chicago are doing now, Washington, Pittsburgh, Baltimore were doing not that long ago, which is lose and lose a lot.  Heck, the Giants did that in the late Aughts, too, just not as much, Sabean and gang was able to rebuild very fast unlike teams like the Rays, Pirates and Royals who had to lose for a long time to build up their farm system and MLB team.

The main criticism I would have about their player development is that other teams seem to find a lot of talent in the international free agent market.  Our best successes right now are Sandoval (great) and Feliz (not so great), and no real successes with pitching so far, though there are many percolating upward (Mejia, Mella, Ysla, for examples) who could change that.  An extra find or two would sure help.

8 months, 3 weeks ago on What now, Mr. Sabean?


@T  Bochy has said it twice now, with no mention of any other spot, and it makes sense:  it's not as dangerous as 2B physically, and he's still above average hitter there, while at 1B, he's merely average.  Posey is moving to 3B eventually, I would bet on it.

Belt has already progressed and surpassed Pablo, did you not see his 2013 season?  He's already ready.

Crawford at 3B is an interesting option, as that would open up SS for Adrianza.  With Crawford hitting better, that could work, he has the power to do nicely there.  But I think Posey's there eventually, so I was thinking Crawford at 2B, he would still be plus offensively there and even better defensively.  

1 year ago on Giants might not have room for Pablo Sandoval


@Bay Area Sports Guy @Scout6  Oh, that was the impression I got too, that it was your opinion.

I agree that it's not too late for either side, but if Pablo's side sticks to their Pence demand, Pablo better start hitting like it's 2009 if he wants that much money, because that was Sabean's point, based on past history and market precedence, Pablo is worth around the 3 years, $40M deal he was offered.  That puts him 5th most in the majors for 3B, almost middle in-between the big three and Prado, who is making $10M AAV.

Normal negotiations would have brought the two sides together and the Giants probably would have been happy with 4 years, $60M ($15M AAV), as that would put him just behind Longoria, Wright, Zimmerman, deals, which is just about the right place for Pablo, given what he has done so far in his career, probably a little too high, but it's a leap of faith the Giants would be taking there to sign him, much like Lincecum's deal.

Had he watched his weight this whole time instead of now, when he's fighting for a big contract, and played like he did in 2011, he could and should be asking for Pence as a base contract plus a little something something on the side.  It would have been a no-brainer.  

Instead, he got fat again, then had the nerve to say last off-season that he had two years to get fit again for his next contract, meaning screw the Giants for the next two (13-14) seasons.  I guess his agent finally got him to realize that he needed to get his act together BEFORE the 2014 season, and that's been his transformation since.  Who's to say he won't fall back again once he signs his big contract, he showed zero interest in earning the roughly $15M that the Giants were paying him for 2013-2014.  

So I don't believe when people say he's going to get signed easily by another team, the other teams are going to be hesitant already because of the above (remember, even without the hamate bones, he's missed a lot of time for other injuries too, plus ate himself out of the starting lineup), his behavior up to now, and his comment, plus his performance in 2012-2013 hasn't been that good, certainly not enough to warrant Pence's $18M AAV, but certainly good enough for something in the low to mid-teens.  It's one thing if you are a gamer like Elsbury, with higher peak seasons because of his defense, and doing that in recent seasons, and not like Sandoval, who hasn't done it since 2011.  This is a "prove it" year and he's going to need to shine if he wants the money.

The only silver lining I would add is that given all the walks he getting now, he's been working on adjusting his approach to hitting and that's interfering with him in his at-bats.  Once he gets that into muscle memory, he'll probably start hitting like he can and did before.  But it took Torres a whole season to learn his new mechanics, and Pablo don't have that much time....

1 year ago on Giants might not have room for Pablo Sandoval


@BAStatsGuy  The issue isn't annual payroll budget money:  they've already offered him $13.3M on average already, going to $18M isn't breaking the bank for them if they think he's worth it.

The problem is that he's asking for a lot more AAV money, basically paying him as the premier 3B of the majors (except for A-Rod) when he hasn't done that yet.  People seem to think that AL teams will throw money at him just because they can DH him.  True, they will probably offer more years, but they won't necessarily give him more than the $13.3M AAV that the Giants have already offered, that's already putting him as the 5th best 3B in the majors and frankly, he's been so injury prone, he's barely produce that on a WAR basis except in 2009 and 2011, which is a pretty long ago, which his agent don't seem to realize.  

The agent is putting Pablo in a bad situation going into the off-season if the starting point is Pence's deal, teams probably are willing to go 5 years on him, but $18M vs. $13.3M is probably a deal breaker for most teams.  Some think the Yankees are signing him, but they already got A-Rod returning next season, if I got the suspension timing right.  They need a shortstop (Hanley?  Make it so!)

This reminds me of the bonehead play that Aurilia's agent did, asking for a huge deal and the Giants let him go and moved on, and they waited so long that he ended up signing a cheap deal with the Mariners, in an "earn it" season, and when he flopped, he just got a series of those types of deal.  His agent probably could have gotten a nice long-term deal at a lower AAV from the Giants had they been more reasonable and negotiated instead of aiming for the Sun.

Which, to me, Pablo's agent did, reminds me of other athletes who hire a buddy or relative to be their agent, and it becomes a screwed up affair, meanwhile, he has a bunch of "yes" men fluffing him up, "yeah, you're the World Series MVP and former All-Star, you deserve a lot of money, like Pence!"  He'll be sitting with no deal by next spring training, much like I-Rod did before he signed with the Marlins.  If he's lucky, the Giants wouldn't have moved on yet, but Sabean don't like an open spot with no strong prospect looking ready to move up, so I doubt it.

1 year ago on Giants might not have room for Pablo Sandoval


Some additional points this article didn't cover.

First, Bochy said in the off-season that Belt would be playing 1B full-time, with a few days off, around 150 games, and that Posey will not be getting as many starts at 1B as he had in previous years, that they are shooting for around 140 starts as catcher.  Plans do change but I have not heard any from Bochy in the meanwhile.  So Belt's great hitting didn't change Bochy's plans, he was already planning on playing him a lot at 1B.

Second, every team works from a budget, even the Dodgers.  That they have a multi-billionaire who is willing to raise the player payroll early in his ownership to jumpstart what was a moribund operations was a move that he picked up from his neighbor billionaire who owns the Angels, but eventually they have also had to back off from the spending and starting driving free cash flow (until they got their big cable contract).  LAD will eventually have to do that as well, but with $150M coming from cable, they can spend much more money than the Giants can, who gets much less from their cable deal currently.  

The Giants, already being in a good position, don't need to run losses now anyway in order to win, now they just have to sustain that level of talent.  Plus, they are already 6th in payroll, so they are already spending commensurate (or close enough) with the size of their population base.  And they clearly are willing to add at least $13.3M to the payroll already, since that was their offer to Pablo and he turned them down, so they are willing to increase the budget and significantly at that.  Plus, that's only adding $5-6M to the current payroll, as Sandoval's already making $8-9M this season.

The issue, it seems to me, is not that they are unwilling to spend money, but that Pablo hasn't proven to them that he deserves the money that he's asking for.  Part of their reasoning, it seems to me, is that his demands are not in line with the market.  My research has found that he's asking to be the second highest paid 3B in baseball, better than Longoria, Wright or Zimmerman, and he hasn't even come close to their career production in similar number of years.  Getting fit over the winter won't make up for that huge gap.

And the irony is that if he had simply kept himself in the shape he was in 2011 and played at that level since then, he would have been deserving of all that money and maybe more.  He's the one who screwed up.  Because the Giants offered salary, as insulting as his agent made it out to be, would have made him him the 5th highest paid 3B in the game today, behind only A-Rod and the three above, and far ahead of the next guy, Prado.  That's still a great salary for a 3B in today's baseball, hardly insulting.  

It was that comment that made me think that Sandoval's agent is a novice at his job, who says that publicly in negotiations that you want to continue?  That's insulting plus he revealed what the Giants offered, something Sabean hates.  My belief right now is that for most of the next off-season, and perhaps into spring training, he'll still be a free agent with a QO, because of his high demands.  He'll probably have to sign a one year deal with someone, much like Aurilia had to do when he had his high demands, that's how I see him returning to the Giants, who could use a 3B in 2015.

Third, Posey didn't say that he's not interested in becoming a full-time 3B, he said that while his passion is to stay behind the plate, if management thought that moving him to another position would give the Giants a better change to win, he's open to it.    He loves catching but he's made it clear that he's aware of the downside of catching, stating that he would not allow his children to be catchers.  So when the time comes and the Giants want to move him, it sounds like he'll be open to it because him being healthy and able to hit is a key to our best chances of winning, and if catching is getting in the way of that, he sounds like he would move.  

The problem prior and still, is that we have nobody adequate for replacing Posey.   I believe that's why Posey has been hesitant to say anything, what is the use of talking about his future change if there is no one to take his place adequately behind the plate?  Susac is looking good for changing that equation, but he needs to do that over a full season plus show good defense before the Giants are going to switch to him at catcher.  BA still notes that he has work to do defensively, but has the tools to eventually be above average.  

Let's say it takes him 2014 to establish himself, 2015 to show that he's ready, then Posey would be 29 YO for 2016 season, approximately when position players are just reaching their physical peak, so at that point, he could move to 3B and be the full-time starter there with Susac taking over.  Plus, Hanchez has been developing himself, so there is that alternative should Susac falter somewhere along the way.  Perhaps they could share the position, with Bochy going with the hot bat or to gain key matchups.

The question in this scenario is then:  who plays 3B in 2015?  Obviously, if Sandoval signs, he probably is playing there.  Or if he bolts, we could sign the Mike Morse 3B version for 2015, in anticipation of Posey moving over, by then, we should have a better idea of where Susac is in his development.  Or if Scutaro is healthy enough, he could play 3B if there is someone ready to start at 2B after this long audition (Hicks in the lead for now).  And Arias is great defensively at 3B, so they should be able to carry his bat in 2015 if Crawford can consistently hit like he has all through 2014.  

Fourth, the Giants are fine with Belt in LF.  If they weren't, they would not have pursued Abreu to the point of just missing signing him as they offered the same contract as the ChiSox, but with 6 years not 7, as that would mean that Belt would be starting in LF instead.   He played OF when he was an amateur, and while he gets lots of rave comments about his defense at 1B, for some reason that has not been translating to the advanced defensive metrics, so him playing LF is not out of the question, I feel.

Lastly, I would add that I was disappointed that Belt was not signed to a long term deal this off-season.  Though perhaps that was because his side wanted to see what he could do this season before committing long-term, which I would understand.   He could be getting a big deal, Posey-lite, next off-season, if he continues to hit this well, and that might, to the author's point, make Sandoval too expensive to keep.

1 year ago on Giants might not have room for Pablo Sandoval


Love the sequence of photos, I never realized that Posey's knee touches the ground in his follow-through, I've never seen any hitter do that before.

I think it is the history of calls going against the runner for missing the base that gets umpires so interested in watching the runner, probably starting with the Giants own Merkle's Boner, when he didn't touch second base on the apparent game-winning hit by his teammate, which ultimately cost them the NL pennant.  You never know when the opposing team might see something and challenge the play, at which point the umpire needs to make the decision on safe or out.  Much harder to do so if the umpire wasn't paying attention.

1 year, 1 month ago on Buster Posey hits first Spring Training home run of 2014 (photos)


Oh, also, found confirmation, but Bochy has been saying all off-season that he wants Belt to play 150+ games at first base, so I would not worry about Hanchez's svelte figure factoring into more Posey starts at 1B.  It might factor into more Posey off-days, though, particularly in August and September if the Giants have a good lead, so that Posey is well rested going into the playoffs.  And maybe more Posey DH duties when playing at AL parks, so that they can keep his bat in the lineup while giving Hanchez more starts catching.  

1 year, 1 month ago on Brandon Belt and Giants avoid arbitration, agree to one-year $2.9 million deal


@Eric  Sure, it's a steal, but listing all those salaries without context makes that so.  

Belt is a Super-Two arbitration eligible player, controlled by his team, and the structure of baseball economics makes all players controlled by their team to be "steals" in a general way, it is acknowledged that the team is getting a huge discount in terms of salary during the 6-7 years they control a MLB player, though it gets less and less as he nears free agency.  

All those players you named were free agents (though is Lind in the last of his arbitration years?), and therefore getting market value (or close to it) for their talents.  Belt might get those amounts if he were a free agent, but because the team controls his rights, he gets much less.  And as a Super-Two, even less, though more than most players with two years experience, who are still getting near the MLB minimum, generally, even the stars.

Still, $2.9M is plenty of money for most people, Belt is not going to starve going forward, unless he's like Jack Clark and blow it all on cars, and be forced to wear Dodger Blue for the money.

1 year, 1 month ago on Brandon Belt and Giants avoid arbitration, agree to one-year $2.9 million deal


@T @ogc  I did know that he has more arbitration years left (3 to be exact, at the moment).  I recall Baggerly estimating 3 years, $21M in his chat today.  I would like to get some of his free agent years, much like Bumgarner, if possible, too.

1 year, 1 month ago on Brandon Belt and Giants avoid arbitration, agree to one-year $2.9 million deal


@Bay Area Sports Guy @jay That makes a lot of sense, both that Freeman's deal probably blew up whatever hopes that the Giants had of coming to agreement on a deal plus drove Belt's side away from the negotiating table so that they could assess what the deal meant for their client, exactly.   And that's a good point about letting him know he's valued, without giving up the farm and giving in on the salary.

1 year, 1 month ago on Brandon Belt and Giants avoid arbitration, agree to one-year $2.9 million deal


Good point about the reason why it took so long, trying to get a long term deal signed, but if that was so, then why not pre-agree to the $2.9M deal - should the LT deal not get done - before sending Belt off to Florida for the arbitration meeting and have him miss the first day of spring training?  Not arguing, but wondering and like I started off with, good point, I'm hoping you might have further insight.

1 year, 1 month ago on Brandon Belt and Giants avoid arbitration, agree to one-year $2.9 million deal


The way the Giants are talking, it sounds like they are sold if he comes in looking good and fit (enough).  The question is how much money Sandoval's agents will want from the Giants.  

I think $16-18M would be fair (I was thinking something close to Pence's deal would be fair and $16-18 covers that).

One important point you left out is that Panda's brother now appears to be living with him full-time as his full-time chef.  His brother Mike helped him lose weight mid-season, which helped Pablo look a little better later in the season (as you noted, he came in with a bad attitude about his weight).  And this continued into the off-season, and especially in Venezuela, where he had typically went to get fatter, not thinner, so the fact that he was finally able to do that on his own without Operation Panda, forcing him to do it, is a great accomplishment, I think, because I know how hard it is to lose weight.

Large body types probably do age poorly, but all reports I read on him while he was rising up the farm system noted his athleticism in spite of his body type, and I think that is what will enable him to be different from other large body sizes (like Fielder).   For example, despite his body size, he led the majors in DRS runs saved in 2011, the one year he was truly in shape, you don't do that at 3B without some athleticism, whereas Fielder's only possible position has been 1B. A better comparison might be Miguel Cabrera, another former 3B, who did very well relative to his career last season at age 30.

But to your point, I don't think I would be comfortable going beyond 5 years for Panda.   

1 year, 2 months ago on Extending Pablo Sandoval


I liked having Ralph around all those years when others didn't care for him, but now that he's gone, I'm OK with that as well, his schtick was getting old.  More than half of the time of his interviews, where I want to hear from the interviewee, is spent with him either setting up this long question or him opining his views.  Still, he got a lot of good info from the interviewees and I enjoyed them overall.  Plus, he would get fixated on an issue and won't stop, like the whole O.J. murder, repeating it over and over again don't do much for the audience.  Time for him to use his MBA (which he repeatedly mentioned...) and get into a good business with all the money he made.

And if he has problems with what the Giants did this off-season, all the more reason he don't need to come back, the issue was not the team, with regards to bringing back everyone, as the team, when everyone was in the lineup, was scoring and winning in April and September, the issue was that most of our lineup was affected by injuries throughout much of the season, and there were injuries issues in the pitching as well.

And it was not like the Giants didn't improve.  Hudson is a huge, huge improvement over Zito, particularly 2013 Zito.  Morse should be a huge improvement over Torres/Blanco in LF, at least offensively.  And Belt made adjustments that the team had been trying to get him to do, and he had a stellar second half after he made that adjustment.  Plus just being more healthy will be an improvement, the vast majority of teams do not do so well when they have so many key hitters and pitchers on the fritz.  Cain and Lincecum had great second halves, figuring out the problems of the first half, and should be good to go in 2014.

There is nothing wrong, also, with coming back with the players you got when so many of them are so young.  Half our lineup is under 30 YO and most of the others are around 30 YO.   Scutaro is the only old goat in the lineup.   And we also have a young rotation, Cain, Lincecum, Bumgarner, and Hudson pitches as well as he did as when he was young, so he's young in performance.  The main oldies are Vogelsong, Affledt and Lopez.

Plus, the Dodgers were incredibly lucky.  People forget, but they were deep in loss columns as late as June, even adding Puig and his offense didn't bring the team up to .500 while he was in the lineup.  It was Hanley's hot hitting, then their pitching suddenly all catching on fire and suddenly they have a rotation and bullpen with sub 3 and sub 2 ERA's collectively.  They have good pitchers, no doubt, but they ain't repeating that performance in 2014, they ain't THAT good.

All that should make the NL West very competitive next season, and the Giants should be in the mix, which is all you can really ask for.  

1 year, 3 months ago on Revisiting the radio “wars”


Great post! Totally agree that Zito deserves credit for helping us win in 2012. Let's not forget that he actually pitched very well thru much of 2010 as well, we would not have been in position to finally overtake the Padres if he did not pitch well most of the season, he just petered out right at the end. As the saying goes, it takes a village.

However, I would like to add that Baggarly reported a year or two ago that he found out that Magowan was the driving force to get Zito signed, not Sabean. Hence why he got pushed out while Sabean kept his job.

1 year, 6 months ago on Thank You, #75


Congrats on your baby!  Smart move to cut this off now, your time will be needed by your little one, best investment anyone can make in life.

Best advice anyone has given me about taking care of a baby is that a car ride is the best when the little bugger won't go to sleep.  Usually, you drive long enough, the baby will drift off to sleep, but at worse, your spouse gets some quiet free time to do whatever is building up on your ToDo list (or, more importantly, catch up on sleep) while you are out there driving.  This is particularly good when your baby is crying and you've tried all the things you are suppose to check (eat, burp, poop) and nothing is working.  Once on the road, I just sing along with the baby,  I usually tried to sing something soothing, like "Baby I'm here, don't you cry" (obviously sing something that's your style) but that's mainly to get past the fact that there's a screaming baby in the back seat.  :^)

All the best, I will miss your blog (did notice the dropoff) but totally understand.  I would say that I would monitor your RSS just in case, but with iGoogle being shut down soon, I don't know how I'm going to replace that great functionality... (one of the few things I would pay for, but wasn't given that option)

1 year, 10 months ago on All good things…


There are plenty of Duvall fans around if you look around.

There is nothing seriously wrong with repeating a level, and it depends on each individual situation.  It is Kevin Cunningham who has a problem with prospects repeating a level.

Panik has been a very good hitter, that is why anyone cares about him, and he's been clearly the 2B of the future since he was drafted, but there is no reason for the Giants not to play him at shortstop since that is his position as positional flexibility is a nice thing to have with a prospect, as well as that playing him at SS made him a much more valuable trade chip, should it ever had come to that.  And clearly Crawford was seen as the SS of the future, when he and Panik were on the same AFL team, it was Crawford who started at SS and Panik who had to move to 2B, that, if anything, was a sign of what the Giants thought of each player's future.  And as good as Crawford is defensively, if he didn't develop enough as a hitter in the past year, Panik could have pushed him off the position, so that is another reason why the Giants kept him at SS.  Evans' statement that Panik is the 2B of the future was as much a statement about Crawford as it was Panik, to my perspective.

1 year, 11 months ago on Minor League Mailbag: April 25


The sad fact of the matter is that the Giants are the one who discovered and developed Belt, so they do know that he is the best option around, despite what some Giants fans think.  If they didn't think that, they would not have kept him up all last season, they would have sent him down at some point to work on things.  

But sometimes a player needs a break to clear his head a little, work on his mechanics and batting stroke without the pressure of being in a MLB game.   The Giants used that to great effect last season with both Belt and Crawford.  This, in fact, has been his pattern:  he struggles, then he spirals and then is useless, striking out a high percentage of the time, the Giants sits him down some games and he gets into a groove.    It might be small samples, but a .237/.279/.289/.569 with 12 K's in only 38 AB's is pretty bad, and that is starting from his "hot" streak, starting with the 2 hits he had on April 10th, shows how lost he is.  And people like to point out small samples, but striking out roughly a third of the time is still a pretty extreme small sample.

Lastly, the commentary from the beat writers have been pretty clear:  Belt is a talented guy whose head is getting in the way of his talent.  It took him a long time to acknowledge that he needed to change last season, and when he did, he said that he figured it out by watching video, but that was the exact advice that Bochy and gang had been giving him from the start of the season, as reported by the writers.  Belt have clearly struggled to be consistent, but the Giants have stuck with him, showing their faith in his talent, but still sitting him down when he's struggling.  

Sure, his ZiPS ROS might say that he's the better hitter based on prior performances, but it has no insight into what is in the head of the player on that day, and that is where Bochy and gang comes in and provide their value.   A study in THT showed that hitters who came to Bochy boosted their offensive value by roughly 1 win per season, so that demonstrates that Bochy is able to help hitters get better.  My study has found that Bochy is a master in winning one-run games, he's one of the rare managers who actually has a statistically significant above .500 record, and he is currently averaging over 4 extra wins per year managing for his career, just due to his performance in one-run games, a stat made more significant by the fact that he just passed .500 as a manager last season.  He knows how to manage players to get their peak performances better than most managers.

Belt's a bit like Ishikawa, whose talent didn't show up regularly until he decided that it was all out of his hands and to allow himself to just play.  That got him from AA to the majors.  Belt's talent was good enough to get him to the majors, but if he can just "let it be", that can get him from the majors to super-stardom on par with Joey Votto, in my opinion (hitting, HR power, SB, defense), though that's a lot to put on him, how about we say that he'll at least be in the conversation.  

But having him grind it out doesn't mean that he's going to figure it out if he's doing the same wrong thing mechanically and mentally as he had been doing.  That is borne out in real life, how often have you tried and tried and tried to figure out a problem, but then slept on it and had it solved in the morning?  Many people experience that, just grinding it out don't make you better if there is no plan, no checks and balances to make sure he's doing things right and not just grinding it out.  Bochy is letting him play but then when he senses it is doing more harm than good for Belt, he pulls him back and gives him time to rest his mind and work on his issues.  

For those who think that just playing the guy will fix things, look at Gordon Beckham.  Or any other failed prospect who got a lot of playing time but never figured it out.  People like to point out Dustin Pedroia as an example of how playing the guys brings out his hitting, but they neglect to notice that his K% and K/BB was great while he was hitting poorly, the balls were just not falling in during April, but then the mean regressed and his May and rest of the year reflected his abilities.  When Belt is going good, he's not striking out a lot, maybe 15-20%, not over 30% of the time.

1 year, 11 months ago on The problem with benching Brandon Belt


great article and topic!

Yeah, just from Giants history - Nen, Romo - there appears to be a connection between sliders and possible future injury to the arm or shoulder. 

Chris had Liriano under the now injured part, his comment nailed it, though I would also add that Liriano's repeated patterns of injury was part of the reason why the Giants trade him, I think.  He was already suffering from a lot of arm problems when we had him and he was very young, so it was not a surprise per se that he was good, but more a surprise that he stayed healthy long enough to show how good he is/was.  I expected him to flame out before reaching the majors but to his and the Twins credit, he made it up here and was good for a little while.

But I think he belongs under the "be careful for what you wish for" category, as he has totally screwed up the Twins plans for years now, as they had had him written in to be the ace of the staff, only to have to DL him or whatever, I would say that his issues were a greater factor in their lack of success in recent years than Morneau's or Mauer's injury problems.  It's hard to replace the ace of your staff early in the season or heck, at any point in the season.

2 years, 1 month ago on Is Madison Bumgarner an injury risk?


I basically agree about Ramirez, I figure he's the favorite to win that last position.  But I would note that while Procter is old, apparently the report is that he picked up a new pitch while in Japan so that might rejuvenate his performance, even if he is old, as he is also experienced.


I think Gaudin is just here so that we can put him in AAA in case we need a starter, since we don't know right now what we got with Heston or Kickham in AAA.  

2 years, 1 month ago on Very Important Spring Training Opinions, Part I


Soptic has reached triple digits and rests in the mid-90's heat and has a plus slider.  Scouting reports are that he's closer material but needs to get the walks down.  Will he be successful like Brian Wilson or another failure like Threets?  Don't know, but Gillaspie was out of options so at least we still have something to show for him instead of just DFAing him at some point for nothing, so good point.  And the Giants were able to get Cain and Wilson to lower their walk rates enough, so they have had some success in the past with fireballing wildmen.

2 years, 1 month ago on Godspeed, ye wobbly-armed rogue


 @TSF I think you are thinking of Bill Mueller.

2 years, 1 month ago on Godspeed, ye wobbly-armed rogue


 @FoothillsRyan If you want to cap on any team's draft, you can pretty much pick and chose to find an example:  every team has a draft where you could have gotten a couple of better picks instead just after that particular lousy pick.  They clearly loved his hit tool and probably thought that they could work with him to teach him to play 3B or even 2B, at the time of the draft.  Most of the draft reports I read at that time noted that he was already iffy for 3B and thought that 2B might be a future position for him.  Also, some guys can work on it and become good:  Mike Schmidt wasn't that great a 3B but he worked hard and became a Gold Glover (which doesn't necessarily means that he became great, but I would think good at least).


Unfortunately, most teams don't know what they got until they get the prospect in and see him up close, personal, and every day.  That's when the Giants discovered that he's no 2B.  No draft report even noted that he was so bad that he couldn't play 2B.  


I would also note that when we drafted Posey, all the reports said that he had no power, that his main value would be his ability to hit and his great defense, yet he wanted a huge bonus (rumor had him asking for $12M and he eventually signed the largest bonus).  The experts thought maybe 15-20 homeruns once he reaches his peak, later in his career.  Turns out the experts were wrong there.

2 years, 1 month ago on Godspeed, ye wobbly-armed rogue


FYI:  the 20-80 scale is the traditional Scouting scale used to rate all prospects in a number of capabilities.  


Say, what # was Brown?

3 years, 1 month ago on Keith Law Names One San Francisco Giant In Top 100 Prospect List