Monday, October 31, 2016

Down on the Farm: Fangraphs' Top 20 Giants Prospects

Eric Longenhagen, the new prospect writer for Fangraphs unveiled his top 20 Giants prospects today.  I have to say Eric put a lot of work into this and appears to have done his own homework rather than just parroting what other prospect sources are saying.  I expect his list might be a bit different than some of the others, like BA.  I am pretty sure mine will be different, although it is quite possible my top 5 will be the same as his.  As always, be sure to read his commentary rather than getting hung up on the exact order.

1.  Christian Arroyo, IF, AA.
2. Tyler Beede, RHP, AA.
3.  Bryan Reynolds, OF, Short Season.
4.  Ty Blach, LHP, AAA/MLB.
5.  Andrew Suarez, LHP, AA.
6.  Steven Okert, LHP, AAA/MLB.
7.  Joan Gregorio, RHP, AAA.
8.  Sandro Fabian, OF, Rookie AZL.
9.  Chris Stratton, RHP, AAA/ MLB.
10.  Matt Krook, LHP, Short Season.
11.  Chris Shaw, 1B, AA.
12.  Jordan Johnson, RHP, High A.
13.  Heath Quinn, OF, Short Season.
14. Steven Duggar, OF, AA.
15. Dan Slania, RHP, AA.
16. CJ Hinojosa, SS, AA.
17.  Reyes Maronta, RHP, High A.
18  Melvin Adon, RHP, Short Season.
19.  Jalen Miller, IF, Low A.
20.  Garrett Williams, LHP, Short Season.
21. Sam Coonrod, RHP, High A.

Others(in order of preference):

Aramis Garcia, C, High A.
Kelvin Beltre, IF, Low A.
Johneshwy Fargas, OF, Low A.
Jacob Heyward, OF, Rookie AZL.
Ray Black, RHP, AA.
Mac Marshall, LHP, Short Season.
Gio Brusa, OF, Short Season.
Austin Slater, OF, AAA.
Clayton Blackburn, RHP, AAA.
Jose Marte, RHP, DSL.
Matt Gage, LHP, AA.
Camilo Doval, RHP, DSL.
Sandro Cabrera, LHP, Rookie AZL.
Charles Owen, RHP, Low A.
Jose Vizcaino Jr, 3B, High A.
Ryan Howard, SS, Short Season.
Brandon Van Horn, SS, Rookie AZL.

"Nowhere Man":  Rodolfo Martinez- velocity reportedly way down in the AFL.

Carson Cistulli's Guy:  Miguel Gomez, 3B/C/?, High A.

DrB's Comments:

1.  I like his top 5.  Those may well be my top 5 too.

2.  I understand Matt Krook's upside and think he was a great pick in round 4 or whatever, but man, you have to have a lot of faith in the Giants ability to teach command to put him in the top 10 Giants prospects!

3.  I will rank Quinn and Duggar higher.

4.  I will rank Austin Slater a LOT higher!

5. I think Jonah Arenado and Ryder Jones belong on one of these two lists somewhere.

6. Love that Sandro Fabian is #8 out of rookie ball.

7.  He seems relatively down on Tyler Beede.  I am more optimistic.

Giants 2017 Depth Charts: Third Base

At the beginning of the 2016 season, Matt Duffy appeared to be the Giants 3'rd baseman for at least the next few seasons.  Then he got hurt and then he got traded.  At this point, Christian Arroyo appears to be the Giants 3B of the future, but he's not quite ready to step in, so the position is in an interim phase with Eduardo Nunez and Conor Gillaspie either competing for or sharing the position.  Here's the depth chart:


Eduard Nunez, 30  yo- .288/325/.432, 16 HR, 40 SB.  Nunez is probably the full time starter with Gillaspie coming off the bench, but I could see a platoon or I could see Nunez moving to LF and Gillaspie starting.

Conor Gillaspie, 29 yo- .262/311/.440.  See above.  Gillaspie might have been the best hitter in the Giants lineup in the postseason.


Mitch Delfino, 26 yo- .242/.300/.312.  A very anemic offensive line for Delfino who has probably reached his ceiling.


Christian Arroyo, 22 yo- .274/.316/.373.  Arroyo could play any one of several positions in the majors, but 3B seems to be his clearest path given the Giants likely future needs.  This batting line is uninspiring at first glance, but the context is a very tough hitting environment coupled with the Giants asking him to play multiple positions.

Ryder Jones, 23 yo- .247/.291/.397, 15 HR.  Jones keeps chugging along.  15 HR's is fairly impressive considering the context.


Miguel Gomez, 24 yo- .267/.302/.500, 9 HR, 172 AB.  Gomez has done nothing but hit at every stop.  Still searching for a position to play.  Right now, it seems to be 3B.  I believe in the bat!

Jose Vizcaino Jr, 23 yo - .261/.336/.403.  Bat was heating up when his season ended early with an ankle sprain.


Kelvin Beltre, 20 yo- .250/.379/.406.  There appears to be a player here somewhere if he can just stay on the field for a full season.

Dillon Dobson, 23 yo- .273/.328/.465, 13 HR.  Drafted as a 2B, Dobson played about equal time between 1B and 3B this past season.  Those are pretty good numbers for Augusta.


Manuel Geraldo, 20 yo- .298/.333/.371.  Just my opinion, but I think Geraldo is one of the most underrated prospects in the Giants organization.  Has also played SS and 2B.  He might not have enough power to be a 3B prospect.


Nick Hill, 22 yo- .263/.330/.343, 17 SB.  Drafted as an OF, Giants moved him to the IF for his pro debut.  Might not have enough power for 3B.


Francisco Medina, 19 yo- .289/.386/.355.  Showed impressive power early in his pro debut in 2015, but not much since.  Is this line enough to get him to Arizona?

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Third Base Rankings

Third Base is another position that saw a dramatic resurgence on offensive firepower over the past 2 seasons.  The position features 3 of the elite hitters in all of MLB, Josh Donaldson, Kris Bryant and Nolan Arenado.  Those big 3 are backed up a by a health second tier.  Here they are, ranked by OPS:

Josh Donadson, Blue Jays- .953.

Kris Bryant, Cubs- .939.  Bryant will also have OF eligibility.

Nolan Arenado, Rockies- .932.

Matt Carpenter, Cardinals- .885.  Carpenter enjoys eligibility at multiple positions.

Adrian Beltre, Rangers- .879.

Manny Machado, Orioles- .876.  Went from 20 SB's in 2015 to 0 in 2016.  Also eligible at SS.

Jung-Ho Kang, Pirates- .867.  21 HR in 370 PA's.  Just sayin'.

Ryon Healy, A's- .861.  13 HR in 283 PA's.

Kyle Seager, Mariners- .859.

Jake Lamb, D'Backs- .840.  Will Lamb learn hit lefties?

Evan Longoria, Rays- .840.

Justin Turner, Dodgers- .832.

Nick Castellanos, Tigers- .827.

Jonathan Villar, Brewers- .826.  Comes with 62 SB's.

Jose Ramirez, Indians- .825.

Anthony Rendon, Nationals- .797.

Alex Bregman, Astros- .791.  8 HR in 217 PA.

Jefry Marte, Angels- .790.  15 HR in 284 PA.

Scott Frazier, White Sox- .767.  40 HR, 15 SB, .225 BA.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Scouting the 2017 Draft: JB Bakauskas

JB Bakauskas is a college RHP for North Carolina.  You may remember him from the 2014 draft when he was considered a first round taken out of HS, but wrote a letter to all MLB teams asking them not to draft him and stating his intentions of honoring his commitment to UNC.  JB was small for a RHP at 5'11", 170 lbs out of HS but hit the weights and put on 25 lbs of muscle and grew an inch or two depending on what scouting report you read.  His FB velocity jumped from a peak of 93 to 93-97 MPH.

On video, Bakauskas has a simple, upright delivery with a "step-over" stride.  I do not see any wasted motion or movement to divert momentum to home plate.  I would rate the effort as average.  He pairs the FB, which he commands to both sides of the plate with a hard downward biting slider and an occasional fading changeup.

Here are his stat lines from 2 seasons with UNC and 1 summer in the Cape Cod League:

2015:  5-3, 4.09, 72.2 IP, 30 BB, 67 K.
2016:  7-2, 3.10, 78/1 IP, 29 BB, 111 K.
2016 CCL:  0-1, 3.72, 9.2 IP, 2 BB, 17 K's.

Although he lacks ideal size for a high ceiling pitching prospect which limits his upside, the present is more than enough.  I'll take a point off for the lack of height and say he has a ceiling of a #2 SP.  Although all pitching prospects are risks, I see him as having a very high floor with a high probability of reaching his ceiling and doing so quickly as he already has near elite velocity with elite pitchability.  If I am the GM holding the first overall pick, I have to seriously consider JB Bakauskas as he will make the MLB team better within 2 seasons and likely give you at least 6 seasons of solid production.

Bonus:  JB is a Giants fan, but alas, he'll be long gone in the draft by the time the Giants pick.

Giants 2017 Depth Charts: Second Base

Joe Panik is the incumbent Giants second baseman, but is coming off the second consecutive year of significant missed playing time, this time due to a concussion from a HBP.  He struggled mightily in the second half of the season, but his bat came to life in the postseason giving hope that 2017 could be his breakout year.  At his best, he's capable of a .300+ BA with enough pop that I think he could get to 20 HR's.  On the other hand, if he gets hurt again or struggles at the plate again, there are options waiting to take his place.


Joe Panik, 26 yo.  .239/.315/.379.  See above.

Kelby Tomlinson, 27 yo.  .292/.370/.330.  By the end of the season, Kelby might have been the toughest out on the Giants roster.  Dude just never, ever gives up on an AB!  Not a lot of pop there, though, which will probably limit him to being a bench player.

Ehire Adrianza, 27 yo.  .254/.299/.381.  Adrianza's biggest problem is he just can't seem to stay healthy.  I don't see room on the 25 man roster for both Kelby and Adrianza.  I'd lean toward Kelby, but the options game may favor Adrianza.


Ali Castillo, 28 yo.  .309/.342/.354.  Reputed to be a defensive wizard.  He also hit a little for both Richmond and Sacramento.  I think he's a minor league FA, so not a lock to remain in the organization.


Christian Arroyo, 22 yo.  .274/.316/.373.  The Giants appear to be currently grooming Arroyo to replace Nunez/Gillaspie at 3B in 2018, but he also played some 2B last year and Joe Panik is not looking like a lock to be the Giants 2B of the long term future.

Brandon Bednar, 25 yo.  .286/.316/.371.  Tall rangy guy who doesn't look like a middle infielder.  He's probably an organizational player at this point.


TJ Bennett, 24 yo.  .284/.357/.482, 9 HR.  Big for  a 2B, Bennett was signed out of indy ball and hit very well for the SJ Giants.  Maybe he'll get a chance to show what he can do in Richmond?

Low A:

Jalen Miller, 20 yo.  .223/.271/.322.  Miller might be the most tooled up prospect in the system, but needs to hit in order to put those tools to use.  Augusta is a notoriously tough hitting environment.


Kevin Rivera, 21 yo.  .320/.352/.435.  A bit of a sleeper in the system, Rivera found some traction with a breakout season in S-K.  Can he keep it going at higher levels?


Michael Bernal, 24 yo.  .260/.337/.473.  Not particularly impressive numbers for a 24 yo college draftee in rookie ball.


Wascar DeLeon, 19 yo.  .268/.388/.309.  Came on strong in the second half hitting .316 over his last 10 games.  Will that get him to Arizona?

Nishell Gutierrez, 18 yo.  .226/.303/.269.  This line probably gets him a second season in the DSL.

Fantasy Focus: 2016 2B Rankings

Here  are the 2016 MLB second basemen ranked by OPS.  This was a banner year on offense for second basemen as no less than 13 keystoners OPS'd over .800.

1.  Daniel Murphy, Nationals- .985.  The Nationals recouped their entire 3 year investment back in Murphy's first year as his fWAR was 5.5.  He'll retain 2B eligibility in most fantasy leagues even if he moves to 1B for 2017.

2.  Trea Turner, Nationals- .937, 33 SB, 324 PA.  Turner made an impact in his rookie campaign playing mostly CF.  Will he move to SS, full-time 2B or become a permanent CF?

3.  Jose Altuve, Astros- .928, 30 SB.  Murphy hit for a bit more power, but the SB's give Altuve a lot more overall fantasy value.

4.  DJ Lemahieu, Rockies- .911.  Lemahieu gains value in OBP/SLG% leagues as he doesn't hit a lot of dingers or steal a lot of bases.

5.  Brian Dozier, Twins- .886, 42 HR.  How can you hit 42 bombs and not OPS over .900?

6.  Matt Carpenter, Cardinals- .885.  See DJ Lemahieu above.

7.  Robinson Cano, Mariners- .882, 39 HR.  See Brian Dozier above.

8.  Ryan Schimpf, Padres- .869, 20 HR, 330 PA.  BA was under .220 so gains a lot in OBP leagues.  Was he a Flash in the Pan?

9.  Jean Segura, D'Backs- .867, 33 SB.  Up and down career.   Can he maintain this production?

10.  Ben Zobrist, Cubs- .831.  Will keep 2B eligibility for at least 1 more season in most leagues. Might actually have more value as an OF.

11.  Ian Kinsler, Tigers- .831.

12.  Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox- .825.

13.  Neil Walker, Mets- .823.

14.  Jason Kipnis, Indians- .811.

15.  Rougned Odor, Rangers- .798, 33 HR's.  See Dozier and Cano above.

16. Logan Forsythe, Rays- .776.

17.  Cesar Hernandez, Phillies- .764.

18.  Jonathan Schoop, Orioles- .752.

19.  Javier Baez, Cubs- .737.  Will go a lot higher than #19 in most fantasy drafts after his postseason exposure.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Scouting the 2017 Draft: Tanner Houck

Tanner Houck is a college pitcher for Missouri.  He stands 6'5", 200-217 lbs. depending on the scouting source.  He is all arms and legs with high hips and oodles of room to fill out.  He has a FB that runs 96 MPH with command to both sides of the plate as well as a slider and changeup.  He drops down in his deliver a bit more with a longer stride than Alex Faedo and his arm slot is low 3/4 as opposed to high 3/4.  Scouts rave about the movement on his FB.  On video it looks like a 2-seamer with sink and armside run.  I also see a breaking ball that sometimes appears to have a tight glove side break, more like a cutter and a slower pitch that is a bit slurvy.

PG and BA have him listed as the top prospect in the 2017 draft and most early mock drafts have him in the top 10 rounds.  I like him a bit better than Faedo due to longer, looser arm action with more movement on his FB.  He also appears to have more room to fill out his frame than Faedo.  I think his ceiling is higher even though Faedo's college stat lines are a tick better in terms of K/BB.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Giants 2017 Depth Chart: First Base

The Giants are well covered at first base at the MLB level as Brandon Belt is in the early stages of a longterm contract with 1B serving as a convenient place for Buster Posey to get some easier innings as a sub and Conor Gillaspie having experience at both 1B and 3B.  There is also a nice progression of prospects in the minors which would fall nicely into place if the Giants feel Chris Shaw is ready to move up to AAA in 2017.


Brandon Belt, 29 yo.   .275/.394/.474, 41 2B, 8 3B, 17 HR.  Belt had the 9'th highest OPS of MLB first basemen and the 4'th highest fWAR.

Buster Posey, Conor Gillaspie- stats covered with other positions.




Chris Shaw, 23 yo.  .246/.309/.414, 16 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 232 AB.  Struggled to a .208 BA in the first month after callup to AA, but then slashed .279/.322/.505 in August.  I could see Chris Shaw eventually making Brandon Belt tradable, or he could be trade bait himself.

High A:

Jonah Arenado, 22 yo.  .254/.286/.422, 36 2B, 17 HR, 516 AB.  Arenado was an XBH machine for San Jose, especially after taking over at 1B full-time after Chris Shaw's promotion.  Critics don't like his OBP, but has time to improve his plate discipline.

Low A:

Dillon Dobson, 23 yo.  .273/.328/.465, 27 2B, 5 3B, 13 HR, 396 AB.
Skyler Ewing, 24 yo.  .241/.331/.410, 10 2B, 2 3B, 10 HR, 261 AB.

This was Dobson's first full pro season.  Ewing found some traction in the second half.


Ryan Kirby, 22 yo.  .265/.345/.397, 16 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 204 AB.  First pro experience after being drafted out of Univ of San Diego.  Seems to have more gap power than dinger power.


Beicker Mendoza, 18 yo.  .272/.300/.316, 114 AB.
Robinson Medrano, 21 yo.  .222/289/.352, 108 AB.

Converted OF's from the DSL.  Mendoza is 3 years younger and has room to grow.  Medrano needs to find some traction.


Angeddy Almanzar, 18 yo.  .294/.373/.438, 17 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 235 AB.  Best hitter on the 2016 DSL Giants squad and not close.  Should be ready for an Arizona assignment in 2017.

All of these domino pieces fall into place if the Giants think Chris Shaw is ready to move up to AAA and then everybody else moves up a level.  Nice clean progression of prospects throughout the system.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 First Base Rankings

Fantasy baseball first basemen by OPS:

1.  Joey Votto, Reds- .985.  More OBP than SLG%.

2.  Freddie Freeman, Braves- .968.  Tremendous season for Freeman.

3.  Miguel Cabrera, Tigers- .956.  Is Miggy on the trading block?

4.  Anthony Rizzo, Cubs- .928.

5.  Paul Goldschmidt, D'Backs- .899.  Down year for Goldy in power, but the 32 SB's help is overall fantasy value.

6.  Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays- .886.

7.  Brandon Belt, Giants- .868.  Only 17 HR's, but a .393 OBP.

8.  Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox- .866.  My friend won our league's championship because Hanley got red hot at just the right time.

9.  Carlos Santana, Indians- .865.

10.  Chris Carter, Brewers- .821.  Dingers!  Gains a ton of value in an OBP league vs BA.

11.  Jose Abreu, White Sox- .820.

12.  Tommy Joseph, Phillies- .813.  Projects to about 35 HR's in 600 PA.

13.  Mike Napoli, Indians- .800.

14.  Will Myers, Padres- .797.  28 HR's, 28 SB's.  Still getting better as a hitter.

15.  Chris Davis, Orioles- .792.  Another guy who benefits from OBP vs BA.

16.  Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers- .784.

17.  Brandon Moss, Cardinals- .784.

Sluggers with very low BA's but average OBP's will become much more valuable as my league switches to an OBP/SLG% format.  Goldy and Wil Myers give extra value with the SB's.  Myers is a riser with Tommy Joseph a potential breakout.  Adrian Gonzalez is in decline and I probably would not bet on Hanley Ramirez again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Scouting the 2017 Draft: Alex Faedo

Alex Faedo is a big college pitcher for Florida.  He stands 6'5", 220 lbs.  Scouting reports have his FB sitting at 92-95 MPH with a slider and changeup.  His windup and delivery are fairly simple, over-the-top with not a lot of wasted motion.  He comes straight toward the plate.  One scouting report mentioned that his delivery shows the ball early which may need to be altered in the future.

His stat line from 2016 is everything you would want in a college pitcher:  13-3, 3.18, 104.2 IP, 21 BB, 133 K's.  He played on the Collegiate National Team this summer and went 3-0, 0.56, 16 IP, 3 BB, 21 K.

He reportedly underwent arthroscopic surgery on both knees in September, but is expected to be fully recovered for the 2017 college season.

He projects as a top draft prospect in 2017, possibly as high as #1 overall.  I see him as a big-bodied innings eating 3-4 starter in the pros more than a dominant #1 or 2, but that's just me.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Giants Depth Charts: Catcher

We'll start our yearly depth chart analysis.  Remember, this is based on players who would likely take the place of an injured or traded player ahead of them which is way different than their ranking as a prospect.  You may have a top 10 prospect playing in low A ball, but that's not the guy you are join got call up to the majors to replace in injured player, usually.

The Giants have one of the best catchers in baseball and a capable backup in Trevor Brown, but beyond that, they are working without a net.  You have to go all they way down to high A ball to find a serious catcher prospect and the guys on the AA and AAA rosters aren't going to make anyone wish injuries on Buster Posey.  So, here we go:


Buster Posey, 30 yo.  .288/.362/.434, 33 2B, 14 HR, 6 SB, 539 AB.  Undisputed starter and one of the top 3 catchers in baseball.

Trevor Brown, 25 yo.  .237/.283/.364, 5 HR, 173 AB.  Backup catching is thankless.  They only get an occasional start and don't get used as PH very often.  Hard to maintain your timing in that environment.  Trevor Brown has his detractors, but he does about a well as you can reasonably expect a backup catcher to.

Tony Sanchez, 29 yo.   .200/.317/.340, 50 AB(AAA).  Signed late in the season, Sanchez got a callup in September to give the Giants 3 catchers on the expanded roster.  He didn't make an appearance.  Not sure what happens next, but I don't expect him to be on the Opening Day 25 man roster.


Miguel Olivo, 38 yo. played most of the season at age 37, then got passed over in favor of Sanchez when September roster adds came due.  He's still listed on the Sacramento Roster for what it's worth.


Jeff Arnold, Steven Lerud and Eliezer Zambrano split playing time for Richmond.  I don't expect to see any of them in a Giants uniform, ever.


Aramis Garcia, 24 yo.  .257/.323/.340, 2 HR, 144 AB.  Garcia is a legit prospect, but lost valuable development time after getting hit in the face by a pitch.  He's trying to get some of that back with an AFL stint.

Ty Ross, 25 yo.  .224/.289/.340, 4 HR, 259 AB.  Ross is a defensive catcher with occasional pop.  I could see him being a backup catcher someday.


Matt Winn, 24 yo.  .230/.325/.393, 13 HR, 331 AB.  (AA:  .250/.288/.411, 2 HR, 56 AB.)  Giants reportedly really like Winn's maturity and leadership behind the plate.  Kind of an all or nothing hitter with some pop.


John Riley, 23 yo.  .274/.369/.404, 3 HR, 146 AB.  Riley is a project who may be starting to get some traction on his career.  Has some toonder in the bat, but needs to cut down on the K's to make it usable.

Zack Bowers, 23 yo.  .226/.335/.342, 2 HR, 155 AB.  Probably not a prospect.


Jeffrey Parra 19 yo.  .275/.370/.375, 1 HR, 70 AB.  I'm pretty excited about this 2016 draftee out of HS . Nice numbers in a SSS in Arizona.  Has plenty of time to develop.

Cody Brickhouse, 20 yo.  .271/.417/.292, 48 AB.  A total of 7 players logged time at catcher for the Arizona League Giants.  Parra and Brickhouse were the two who appear to be true prospects.


Ricardo Genoves, 18 yo.  .256/.342/.333, 13 2B, 1 HR, 207 AB.  Genoves got a nice 6 figure bonus out of Venezuela.  Got off to a great start in the DSL before fading a bit.  Should graduate to Arizona in 2017.

The depth of the system, at least at the upper levels, took a hit when Andrew Susac was traded at the deadline.  Giants may need to scour the waiver wires and minor league FA lists for catchers this winter.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fantasy Focus: 2016 Catcher Rankings

The commissioner in my fantasy league announced at the end of the season that he plans to go from a standard 5X5 format to 6X6, replacing BA with OBP and SLG% while keeping R, HR, RBI, SB.  On the pitching side, he replaces W with QS and adds K/9.  The reasoning for OBP, SLG% and QS is fairly obvious.  His reasoning for K/9 is it potentially adds value to non-closer relievers making them rosterable in some cases.

The new changes significantly devalue leadoff hitter types who maintain a high BA and SB's but struggle to draw walks because of their lack of power and position at the top of the lineup.  Using using OBP and SLG as 2 of 6 categories also makes it easy to figure out who has value.  You simply have to look up OPS as a single category.  You can keep 1 eye out for SB's but since they are now 1 category out of 12 instead of 10, it makes it much more palatable to just punt the category.

With that background let's dive into the final 2016 catcher rankings.  I have simply listed the catchers with 200 or more PA's in order of OPS:

1.  Gary Sanchez, Yankees- 1.032.  How does a guy go from hitting 10 dingers in 313 PA's in AAA to hitting 20 in 229 PA's in the major leagues?  As a RH hitter in Yankee Stadium, no less!  I think Gary Sanchez is likely to be overvalued on fantasy draft day next spring!

2.  Jonathan Lucroy, Rangers- .855.  Big bounceback season for Lucroy.  Solid bet for 2017 too.

3.  Wilson Ramos, Nationals(FA)- .850.  Ramos had a great season that ended a week early due to torn ligaments in his knee.  Probably won't be read for the start of 2017.  Worth drafting and stashing on your DL.

4.  Sandy Leon, Red Sox- .845.  Leon was a surprise and likely a flash in the pan.  Stay away on draft day!

5.  Wilson Contreras, Cubs- .845.  Unlike Leon, Contreras is the real deal.  With David Ross retiring, he should be the undisputed full time catcher for the Cubs next year.  He will be valued highly on draft day and likely worth the investment.

6.  Evan Gattis, Astros- .826.  Gattis caught about 50 games last year so will retain Catcher eligibility for 2017.  Who's doesn't want 32 dingers out of their fantasy catcher?

7.  Yasmani Grandal, Dodgers- .816.  If he can stay healthy, Grandal may be just getting started.  Tremendous offensive potential here.

8.  Buster Posey, Giants- .796.  Down year for Buster.  Remains to be seen if he can find his power stroke again.  Still not a bad option.  Ranking here is more of a testament to how much deeper the catcher position has become in the last 2 seasons.

9.  Yadier Molina, Cardinals- .787.  How many more productive years does Molina have left?  He looked like he was about done in 2015 but had a nice bounceback in 2016.

10.  Tyler Flowers, Braves- .777.  The question here is how many PA's he'll get in a season.

11.  JT Realmuto, Marlins- .771.  The only MLB catcher with double digit HR's and SB's.

12.  Nick Hundley, Rockies- .759.  Any starting position player for the Rockies is going to have fantasy value just on the basis of the park they play in.

13.  Cameron Rupp, Phillies- .750.  Rupp had a nice season, but is he the Phillies' catcher of the future?

14.  Brian McCann, Yankees- .748.  The OPS is not so great, but still good for dingers.

15.  Welington Castillo, D'Backs- .745.  He alway seems to kill the Giants, but apparently not the rest of the league.

15.  Salvador Perez, Royals- .725.  Hits dingers but doesn't draw walks.

Scouting the 2017 Draft: Jeren Kendall

We'll try to get an earlier start on the draft coverage this year.  The Giants currently hold the 21'st selection in the 2017 amateur draft.  They are likely to keep that pick as Kenley Jansen is the only potential FA target who is likely to get a QO.  I don't expect the Giants to pick up any additional picks as they do not have any departing FA's who are worthy of a QO.  They could move up from the 21'st pick by a slot or two, but there are not a lot of QO worthy FA's this year, so I don't probably not much higher than that #19 or 20.

Let's dive into some scouting reports:

Jeren Kendall is a true 5 tool CF prospect who plays for Vanderbilt.  He goes 5'11- 6'0", 180-190 lbs depending on which report you read.  He B-L, T-R.  He committed to Vandy in 2014 after not playing much in HS.  He was  considered extremely talented, but raw.  PG had him with a 6.34 60 yd dash and under 4 secs to 1B.  His FB velocity off the mound was just 82 mph, but he was clocked at 93 on an OF throw. He gets high marks for his intelligence, even temper and hard work.  Here are his stat lines from his first 2 seasons at Vandy:

2015:  .281/.394/.530, 10 2B, 6 3B, 8 HR, 19 SB, 21 BB, 60 K, 185 AB.
2016:  .332/.396/.568, 16 2B, 8 3B, 9 HR, 28 SB, 25 BB, 62 K, 250 AB.

He projects as a true CF with more gap power than HR power, although he probably has 20 HR potential, with 20+ SB potential.  Downsides are he still needs to work on his plate discipline, he has not performed that well in the Cape Cod League and his power upside is limited by his size.  He is currently projected to be drafted in the top 10 picks, so it is unlikely the Giants have a shot at him.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Scouting the Offseason: 5'th Starter

This one probably doesn't even need to be written up.  The Giants have SP slots 1-4 locked up for 2017 with Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija and Moore.  They are not going to spend good money on a 5'th starter no matter what and they have a couple of in-house options with more waiting in the wings in the minor leagues.

Make no mistake.  Matt Cain will get his chance to win back a rotation slot, but he will have a short leash as the Giants seem to be itching to give Ty Blach a longer look after his spectacular late season and postseason success.  They also have Clayton Blackburn and Chris Stratton waiting for shots and if Tyler Beede starts the season strong in Sacramento, he'll be knocking at the door.  I think they will probably also find a way to keep Albert Suarez who did a pretty average 5'th starter's job last year when he was needed.

Oh, the Giants will probably bring in a guy or two on minor league deals just to keep people honest.  They always do.  Just who that might be would be like finding a needle in a haystack.  Last year it was Suarez and he had a terrible spring training, but ended up spending most of the season in SF.

So that's it for the offseason.  Barring a complete makeover of the team which there is not hint of coming from the front office, the Giants have a very short offseason shopping list, most likely beginning and ending with Closer.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Scouting the Offseason: Left Field

With the almost certain departures of Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco, the Giants have an opening for a new left fielder, a position that has been something of a revolving door since Barry Bonds played it.  I believe the Giants have this one covered.  In his end-of-the-season pressor, Bobby Evans as much as said that Mac Williamson and/or Jarrett Parker would get a shot at the job.  He went so far as to bring Adam Duvall's name into the discussion and went on to say that the Giants believe Mac and Jarrett have more power potential than Duvall.  OK, Bobby.  Then put your money where your mouth is.

Sean Bialaszek over on GGS-Giants makes the case for Mac to win the job.  Mac led the Giants last year in Average Exit Velocity off the bat.  He also hit about 30 HR's if prorated to 600 PA's.  Did you also know that Mac was the 13'th best defensive LF with at least 100 PA's in all of MLB, admittedly a SSS.  Mac's time has come.  He deserves the shot.  You could make a case for a platoon with Jarrett Parker and I'm OK with that to start the season.  I think Mac will gradually take over the position full time as the season goes along.

It's not like the Giants are working without a net by committing to the kids.  If both Mac and Jarrett tank, they could turn 3B over to Conor Gillaspie full time and move Eduardo Nunez to LF.  Nunez would not give you the power you crave out of LF, but he has decent power and is the top SB threat on the team.  He is obviously fast enough to cover the ground out there.  The Giants also have Austin Slater over in Sacramento who deserves a shot if nobody else steps up to take it.

But OK, maybe you still want the Giants to kick a few tires out there?  Here's a rundown on what's available by FA or trade.  It's actually a surprisingly strong list albeit with just one elite name.


Yeonis Cespedes, 31 yo.  Cespedes will opt out of his contract with the Mets, but he's…..not coming here!  I don't know if the Wilpons have the caishish to re-sign him, but someone will, and it won't be the Giants although I see the Giants brought up in connection with him in almost every Q/A out there.  He seems to want to stay in NY so the Mets may find a way to keep him or he could go to the Yanks, Dodgers, Cardinals, Nationals or some mystery team.  It won't be the Giants.  BTW, I'd be A-OK with the Giants signing Cespedes and forgetting about Mac and Jarrett, but I don't think they will.

Ian Desmond, 31 yo.  Desmond found the second half of his career in Texas as an OF.  He actually played mostly CF and played it well.  He went 20/20 again.  I would not expect that to translate well to AT&T Park and hope he doesn't come here.

Matt Holliday, 37 yo.  The Cardinals will buy out his option.  This would be a very Giantsy move to bring him in on a 1 year or 1 year+option in the tradition of Pat Burrell and Michael Morse.  He's a shell of his former self but could probably be a passable 6 or 7 inning option.  I would not be shocked if this actually happened, but again, my preference is to stay in house.

Michael Saunders, 30 yo.  Saunders had a nice season for Toronto, whose ballpark is not like AT&T Park.  He is also playing on glass knees.

Dexter Fowler, 31 yo.  Signing another CF and then putting one of them in LF is a very Giantsy move. They've had their opportunities to go after Fowler and have passed in the past, though.

Carlos Gomez, 31 yo.  I suppose he's an attractive bounceback candidate and should not cost a lot after the last 2 putrid seasons.  He showed he still has some toonder in the bat with a big September.  Extremely streaky, though, and I'm pretty sure the Giants do not need more streakiness in their lineup.

Jose Bautista, 36 yo.  Another attractive bounceback candidate even at 36 yo, but only at the right price and Bautista seems to have wildly unrealistic expectations about his value.

Josh Reddick, 30 yo.  Reddick is probably good enough defensively to take over RF and move Hunter Pence to LF, but I'm not sure how that would go over.  I also don't think the Giants need another LH bat in the lineup.

Mark Trumbo, 31 yo.  Hit 47 dingers this year and the Giants do need dingers.  Trumbo is a fairly one dimensional player, though, and the dingers might not be nearly as plentiful in AT&T Park.


Ryan Braun, 33 yo, Brewers.  Braun had a great offensive season, hitting .305 with 30 dingers.  He might not cost that much in prospects for a team willing to take on his full salary obligations.  Comes with well known baggage.

Khris Davis, 29 yo, A's.  Davis hit 42 HR's for Oakland.  He's up for arbitration and Trader Billy might let him go for the right return.  He's also fairly one dimensional and the power may not play in AT&T.

Justin Upton, 29 yo, Tigers.  Tigers GM Avila basically said the team needs to rebuild.  I'm pretty sure Upton has at least a partial no-trade and he hates AT&T Park.

Matt Kemp, 32 yo, Braves.  Kemp keeps getting traded with the trading team picking up part of his salary which may eventually make him a good value.  Hit 35 HR's for the Braves but basically can't play in the field anymore.  Probably needs to go to an AL club where he can finish his career as a DH.

JD Martinez, 29 yo, Tigers.  See Justin Upton above.  Martinez' D went off a cliff this year but he can hit.

I still want the Giants to give Mac the shot.  Worse case scenario?  Make a midseason trade for a power hitting LF.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Scouting the Offseason: Closers

After the debacle of their 2016 bullpen, which cost an otherwise very good team a shot at another championship, making sure that does not happen again in 2017 will be the Giants #1 offseason priority.   When you look at possible in-house options, you find several pitchers who might be able to handle that responsibility, but no sure things.  There are no flamethrowers on the farm who are ready to graduate and assume the role.  The Giants closer next season will come from outside the organization, which means a free agent signing or a trade.  Let's take a look at the options.  Depending on how they want to allocate their money, the Giants can afford to make a serious run at any of the available options.


Aroldis Chapman LHP, 29 yo.  We all know who Chapman is.  He is the single most dominant closer, heck maybe the most dominant pitcher, in all of baseball.  His FB runs 99-104 MPH and sits at 102.  He is able to command it.  He has secondary pitches that are at least good enough that you cannot found on the fastball in any count.  he can get a wild hair up his nose, but not very often.  His is big and strong enough to go more than 1 inning at a time.  He will be expensive as several big-money teams will be after him including the Cubs and Yankees and possibly the Dodgers.  What it would take to sign him:  $5 years/$90 M.

Kenley Jansen RHP, 29 yo.  The second best closer on the market.  Can blow a Save here and there, but will generally get the job done about 90% of the time.  Has proven he can go more than 1 inning in this postseason.  Dodgers will offer him a QO, but we don't know what penalties and rewards will be attached to a QO in the new CBS due out any day now.  What it will take to sign him:  4 yrs/$60 M.

Mark Melancon RHP, 32 yo.  The 3'rd of the big 3 closers on the market.  He's 3 years older and not quite as dominant as Chapman and Jensen and will therefore come a bit more cheaply.  The Giants made a run at him at the trading deadline and are publicly kicking themselves for not getting a deal done.  The Giants have a history of repeatedly pursuing players they like until they finally get them, one way or another.  Everybody is saying Melancon is the guy they will go after, and that might be right.  What it will take to sign him:  3 yrs/$45 M.

Brad Ziegler RHP, 37 yo.  Not a classic closer, but surprisingly effective with a sidearm/submarine delivery that gets a whole lot of groundballs. Giants and their fans know him well from his years with the Arizona D'Backs.  What it will take to sign him:  2 yrs/$16 M.

Greg Holland RHP, 30 yo.  Holland is coming off TJ surgery, but was one of the top closers in baseball prior to his injury with the KC Royals.  You may remember him from the 2014 WS.  Will come cheaper than other closers of similar talent and will probably be looking for a 1 year rebuild-value contract.  Will probably turn out to be  tremendous bargain for some team, but the Giants are probably looking for more certainty.  What it will take to sign him:  1 yr/$4 M with incentives.


Wade Davis RHP, 31 yo, KC:  Davis has a team option for $10 M with a $2 M buyout.  The Royals would definitely pick up the option, but they also might not want to pay the $10 M.  Davis is rumored to be on the trading block.  He's an elite closer, though, and there will be plenty of teams trying to trade for him.  He will cost a frontline prospect or two.  Chances of him coming to SF:  10%

Andrew Miller LHP, 31 yo, Cleveland:  Cleveland traded for Miller for the stretch run and it's definitely paying off bigly for them.  Question is do they want to take his contract into next season?  Again, if he is available at all, it would take a huge haul to get him.  Chances of him coming to SF:  5%

Cody Allen RHP, 28 yo, Cleveland:  Maybe Cleveland decides to keep Miller but trade the Arbitration eligible Allen whose salary will rise significantly above the almost $5 M he made this year.  Chances of him coming to SF:  5%

Francisco Rodriguez RHP, 35 yo, Brewers:  He's more guile than power now, but he can still close out a game.  Brewers hold option for $8 M.  They are clearly rebuilding and K-Rod would be a nice trade chip to get back some more prospects.  Chances of him coming to SF:  20%

David Robertson RHP, 32 yo, ChiSox:  Robertson still racks up Saves but also blows a few.  Probably still an upgrade from what the 2016 Giants and he has 2 years left on a big contract that the White Sox would almost surely be open to trading.  Chances of him coming to SF:  20%.

Kelvin Herrera RHP, 27 yo, KC:  Elite setup man who could move into the closer role.  Arbitration eligible but how much will his salary go up from the $2.6 M he made this year?  KC may want to keep him to replace Davis as the closer.  Chances of him coming to SF:  Less than 5%

Alex Colome RHP, 28 yo, TB:  A commenter brought up Alex Colome.  I doubt TB would trade their closer with 1 year of minimum salary left, but they may decide to sell high on him.  Would cost some prospects, but would not add anything significant to payroll.

Who do you think will be the Giants Closer in 2017?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

State of the Giants 2016-2017: Roster Needs

In a previous post, we ran down the Giants current 40 man roster including financial commitments and departing free agents.  Here we'll take another look at the roster to identify specific holes or needs that need to be addressed before next season starts.  We'll start by projecting assignments based on an assumption of no FA acquisitions or re-signs and no trades and then focus on the areas where no player is assigned or where an upgrade is needed.  As a bonus, we'll list the player's 2016 fWAR and league positional ranking by fWAR.


C Buster Posey:  4.0/2
1B: Brandon Belt:  4.4/6
2B Joe Panik:  2.1/14
3B Eduardo Nunez:  2.7/14
SS Brandon Crawford:  5.8/4
LF Open(Williamson/Parker?):  0.5/0.2
CF Denard Span:  1.4/14
RF Hunter Pence 2.1/14


C  Trevor Brown:  0.2
IF Conor Gillaspie: 1.1
IF Tomlinson/Adrianza/Beckham:  0.8/0.2/-0.6.
OF Gorkys Hernandez:  0.2
OF Williamson/Parker: 0.5/0.2


Madison Bumgarner LHP:  4.9/9
Johnny Cueto RHP:  5.5/4
Jeff Samardzija RHP:  2.6/45
Matt Moore LHP:  2.2/51
Open(Matt Cain/Ty Blach?)


Closer- Open
Derek Law RHP:  1.1/37
Hunter Strickland RHP:  0.8/63
Will Smith LHP:  0.8/69
Cory Gearrin RHP:  0.5/95.
George Kontos RHP:  0.2/177
Steven Okert LHP:  0.1/255.
(Albert Suarez?)


5'th Starter(probably in-house)
LF(possibly in-house)
Reserves and non-closer relievers(probably in-house, settled in Spring Training).

In future posts, we'll move on to Scouting the Offseason and take closer looks at each of the open positions and positional battles to see how the Giants 2017 final roster may shake out.

Monday, October 17, 2016

State of the Giants 2016-2017: Departing Free Agents

The Giants have 8 free agents coming off the current 40 man roster, 6 of whom have been key role players in at least 1 championship season and in most cases, multiple championships.  Ordinarily, you would expect a lot of hand wringing and calls for the Giants to overpay to keep the gang together for 1 or 2 more runs, but this time the departures represent an opportunity for the team to get younger and better.  The Giants have in-house replacements for all of the free agents and need the money saved from  their contracts to go out and get themselves a frontline Closer.  Let's break it down(I'll list the player, age, 2016 Salary/AAV in $ M):

Santiago Casilla RHP:  36 yo, 6.5/6.5.  Casilla has been a warrior through 3 championship seasons.  He actually had his best season by K/BB in 2016 and it's not close.  The problem is the 9'th inning seemed to get into his head.  If Bruce Bochy didn't lose faith in him, the fan base certainly did. It became impossible at the end of the season for Boch to even think about sending him out there for the 9'th inning.  Casilla could probably still be a very effective 7'th inning reliever, but you don't pay those guys $6.5 M.  He'll probably have to take a large pay cut in free agency, but it's more palatable with another team.  The Giants have plenty of 7'th inning guy on the roster.  Chances of Return:  5%.

Sergio Romo RHP:  34 yo, 8/7.5.  What a career Romo has had with the Giants, and an unlikely one at that!  Romo pitched effectively when he pitched in 2016, but spent half the season on the DL with a forearm strain.  He would have to take a huge pay cut to come back and again, the Giants have other options for the 7'th and 8'th inning.  Chances of Return:  20%.

Javier Lopez LHP:  39 yo, $5/4.3.  Another legendary Giant from the championship seasons, Lopez walking the lefthanded hitting Anthony Rizzo in the 9'th inning of the final game meltdown was a microcosm of his 2016 season.  He's a lefty hitter killer who couldn't get lefty hitters out, especially in high leverage situations.  Again, the Giants have younger, cheaper options from the left side in the bullpen in Steven Okert, Josh Osich and even Ty Blach.  Chances of Return:  5%

Jake Peavy RHP:  36 yo, 13/12.  Peavy was not a factor from midseason on.  He tried to re-invent himself as a long reliever with mixed success.  If he wants to continue his career he'll have to accept a huge reduction in salary and it will almost certainly be with another team.  Chances of Return:  Less than 5%.

Angel Pagan OF:  35 yo, 10/10.  Pagan actually had one of his most consistent seasons at the plate and set a personal record for HR's in a season.  There was talk that the Giants might be interested in bringing him back on a short term contract.  That probably evaporated when he didn't answer the bell for the final 2 games of the NLDS complaining of back spasms.  Whatever the Giants think of Pagan's health problems probably does not matter.  They need to go with someone younger and more reliable physically.  Chances of Return:  Less than 5%.

Gregor Blanco OF:  33 yo, 3.9/3.75.  Blanco was the best 4'th OF in baseball from 2012-2015 and played a major role in helping them win 2 championships.  He's coming off a down season at age 33 and is getting expensive.  Gorkys Hernandez is younger and faster.  Chances of Return:  10%.

Joe Nathan RHP:  42 yo, .5/.5(prorated).  Cot's contracts has Nathan down for a $1.5 M team option for 2017.  The Giants won't pick that up and Nathan will be a FA.  In September, with the bullpen in full meltdown, Bochy gave him one shot at a high leverage situation which did not go well.  Boch pretty much forgot about him after that.  I suppose there is a small chance he may be back on a minor league deal.  Chances of Return:  20%(minor league deal only).

Gordon Beckham IF:  30 yo, 1.25/1.25(prorated).  Beckham reportedly brought a breath of fresh air into a stale clubhouse in his very short stint with the Giants in September.  Alex P reports that the Giants would like him back.  I'm having a hard time seeing how he fits on the 25 man active roster, so I think it will be only on a minor league deal unless the Giants think he can play SS in a pinch.  Chances of return:  25%.

These departures will free up over $45 M in payroll.  Some of that goes to scheduled pay raises for current players.  Most of the rest will probably go toward bringing in a frontline closer as the Giants have younger and cheaper in-house replacements for each of these free agents.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

State of the Giants 2016-2017: The MLB Roster

The Giants continue to have a healthy core of players at the MLB level, a group that has gradually grown since 2010 with a healthy rate of turnover to younger players.  The team's core really formed in 2010 as a series of high draft picks arrived in the majors in quick succession to join Matt Cain who had arrived a few years earlier.  That core of Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Brian Wilson is now Posey, Bumgarner, Pence, Crawford, Belt, Cueto, Samardzijia, Matt Moore and Joe Panik.  As members of the core have aged or gotten injured, new ones have been acquired through trades, FA signings and farm system graduations.  The challenge for the Giants going forward is to keep adding as the current group inevitably ages and sees a decline in production.  Here is a summery of the complete roster(the numbers after the names include Age, 2017 Salary, AAV, Years left on contract- based on Cot's Baseball Contracts website):


Buster Posey C:  30 yo, $21.4 M, 18.6 M, 5 years(2022 option with $3 M buyout).
Hunter Pence OF:  34 yo, $18.5 M, $18 M, 2 years.
Brandon Crawford SS:  30 yo, $8 M, $12.5 M, 5 years.
Brandon Belt 1B:  29 yo, $2.8 M, $14.7 M, 5 years.
Joe Panik 2B:  26 yo, League Minimum, arbitration eligible 2018, FA eligible 2021.
Madison Bumgarner SP:  27 yo, $11.5 M, $7 M, 1 year + 2 team friendly options through 2019.
Johnny Cueto SP:  31 yo, $21 M, 21.7 M, 5 years(player opt out after 2017).
Jeff Samardzija SP: 32 yo, $18 M, $18 M, 4 years.
Matt Moore SP:  28 yo, $7 M, $7 M, 3 team friendly options through 2019.


Denard Span OF:  33 yo, $9 M, $10.3 M, 2 years(mutual option for 2019).
Eduardo Nunez IF:  30 yo, MLBTR estimated arbitration award $4.4 M, FA eligible 2018.


Matt Cain SP:  32 yo, $20 M, $21.25 M, 1 years($7.5 M buyout for 2018).
Ty Blach SP:  League minimum-ROY eligible.
Chris Heston SP:  29 YO(60 day DL)  League minimum(Likely to be released)


Conor Gillaspie 3B/1B:  29 yo, MLBTR Estimated Arbitration Salary- $900 K.
Mac Williamson OF(60 day DL):  27 yo, league minimum.
Jarrett Parker OF:  28 yo, league minimum.
Gorkys Hernandez OF:  29 yo, league minimum.
Ehire Adrianza IF:  27 yo.  MLBTR Estimated Arbitration Salary- $500+ K.
Kelby Tomlinson IF:  26 yo.  League Minimum.
Trevor Brown C:  25 yo.  League Minimum.
Tony Sanchez C:  29 yo.  Arbitration Eligible?(could be released).


Cory Gearrin RHP:  31 yo.  MLBTR Estimated Arbitration Salary- $1.1 M).
George Kontos RHP:  32 yo. MLBTR Estimated Arbitration Salary- $1.7 M)
Derek Law RHP:  26 yo.  League Minimum.
Steven Okert LHP:  25 yo. League Minimum.
Josh Osich LHP:  28 yo. League Minimum.
Will Smith LHP:  28 yo.  MLBTR Estimated Arbitration Salary- $2.3 M.
Hunter Strickland RHP:  28 yo.  League Minimum.
Albert Suarez RHP:  League Minimum.

FREE AGENTS(with 2016 Salary and AAV):

Santiago Casilla RHP:  $6.5 M/$6.5 M
Javier Lopez LHP:  $5 M/$4.3 M
Sergio Romo RHP:  $8 M/$7.5 M
Jake Peavy RHP:  $13 M/$12 M
Joe Nathan RHP: $500 K/$500 K(Cots has him listed for a $1.2 M club option)(doubt option gets picked up).
Angel Pagan OF:  $10 M/$10 M.
Gregor Blanco OF:  $3.9 M/3.75 M
Gordon Beckham IF:  Beckham made $1.25 M last year but was only on the Giants roster for a few days.

I do not expect the Giants to re-sign any of these FA's except maybe Beckham if they can get him on a minor league deal.  I just don't see a spot on the 25 man roster for Beckham unless they think he can play SS.


Clayton Blackburn RHP:  24 yo.
Kyle Crick RHP:  24 yo.
Joan Gregorio RHP:  25 yo.
Chris Stratton RHP:  26 yo.
Ray Black RHP:  26 yo(60 day DL).


The Giants have $135 M in Salary commitments to a total of 10 players with longterm contracts($149 M in AAV for Luxury Tax purposes).  They have an additional 6 players who are Arbitration Eligible with a total of $10.9 M in MLBTR Estimated Arbitration Salaries.  I expect the Giants to tender contracts to all 6. The remaining 9 25-man active roster spots would be filled with League Minimum salaries for a total of approximately $4.5 M.  League Minimum salaries and Luxury Tax cap could change with the new Basic Agreement expected to be signed at the end of the postseason.

With the only major position, Closer, that must be filled by FA or trade, the Giants should have plenty of room to make a very large offer or take on a large contract via trade and still be well under the Luxury Tax threshold even if it does not rise as expected in the new Basic Agreement.  With 7 expected departing FA's and several other marginal players on the 40 man roster, there should be no problem adding whatever prospects the Giants feel need to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft(which I hope will go away in the new Basic Agreement, but probably won't).

Friday, October 14, 2016

State of the Giants 2016-2017: Ownership/Management

So, after a couple of days of writer's block, we'll delve into where the Giants franchise stands at the end of the 2016 season and look at where they may be headed in the future.  I thought about writing up the entire organization in one post, but that task was too daunting to even get started on, so I'll break it down into sections.

The 2016 Giants made the postseason, barely, for the 4'th time in 7 seasons of the Golden Decade of the 2010's, but it was not a long run as they got bounced in the NLDS by a superior Cubs team that the Giants played tougher than you might expect due to some extraordinary starting pitching.  In any other decade, a season like this would be cause for celebration.  I mean, do you fondly remember the Will Clark years?  The Barry Bonds years?  Unfortunately, in a decade where even years are supposed to bring championships, simply making the postseason is disappointing which tells you how high those 3 championships have raised the bar.

The Giants are still owned by one of the more well-heeled ownership groups in MLB.  They play in a major market and have part ownership of the cable TV station.  I don't know if having part ownership of the TV station is a good thing or not, but it sure SEEMS like a good thing!  They also own the stadium which is almost surely a very good thing.  On top of all that, Managing Partner Larry Baer seems to be a more effective communicator to the less baseball savvy members of the ownership group as we don't seem to get that yearly angst over payroll limitations we used to see with Peter the Pink and even Daddy Neuks.  That may be due to the fact that all of MLB is swimming in money these days or it may be due to ownership discovering firsthand that winning championships can be very lucrative, but it sure is nice to know they are willing to spend when needed to upgrade the team.

It is not clear to me who ultimately calls the shots on the baseball side of management, but Bobby Evans has definitely assumed the role of spokesman for the front office team.  I am not aware of any signs of friction between Evans and Brian Sabean who seems to be in more of an advisory role now so in that sense, the transition has been fairly seamless.  Evans' had a strong first offseason, as he needed to bolster the starting rotation and landed two of the better FA values in Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, plus he upgraded CF from awful to adequate with the signing of Denard Span.  Let's also not forget some savvy under-the-radar pickups the Giants are known for in Conor Gillaspie, Albert Suarez, Gorkys Hernandez and several other minor league FA's who contributed when the wave of injuries struck.  Gillaspie and Hernandez look like they will probably stick around for another season.

Evans' mid-season trading record is a bit more mixed.  I like his aggressiveness in being willing to give up top prospects and even a young MLB player to get what the Giants needed for the stretch run, but he failed to land a frontline closer which even he has expressed regrets over.  Extra credit for getting additional controlled years on the contracts of all 3 mid-season acquisitions.  We'll never know what the Giants would have had to give up to get Mark Melancon, but Evans' sure sounds like it was within reach and he is still kicking himself over it.

John Barr continues to be the Giants chief scout and his drafts under Evans have been solid.  The Giants lost their first round draft pick to sign Samardzija, but this draft was deeper than it was talented at the top.  The Giants landed first round value in round 2 in Bryan Reynolds and at least 2'nd round value in round 3 in Heath Quinn.

Future Hall of Fame Manager Bruce Bochy remained secure in his role.  Most of the coaching staff will remain intact, but replacing longtime Bochy sideman Tim Flannery proved to be a difficult transition as Bochy and 3B coach Roberto Kelly reportedly did not always see eye-to-eye on baserunning decisions.  Kelly made several high profile decisions early in the season that were widely perceived as mistakes, but seemed to get better as the season progressed.  Grant Brisbee over at MCC made some fairly compelling statistical observations to support the notion that Kelly actually did a good job.  Flannery and Bochy were together so long and were so close you have to wonder if Boch will ever be completely happy with anyone else in that role, and Flan seems determined to not ever come back.

Hitting coach Hensley "Bam Bam" Meulens continued to preside over one of the most plate disciplined offenses in all of MLB.  It's not clear to what extent the power outage in the lineup falls on him.  Expect to hear a lot of calls for Barry Bonds to be brought back for some type of hitting coach/instructor role this offseason.  Pitching Coach Dave "Rags" Righetti gets high marks for helping Jeff Samardzija retool is repertoire on the run midseason, but Rags and Boch were not able to fix a bullpen that was completely broken by the end of the season.


Just a few notes about the postseason press conference by Bobby Evans and Bruce Bochy:

In a bit of a surprise, the Giants quickly announced that Roberto Kelly and Billy Hayes would not be returning as 3B and 1B coaches respectively.  While I am sure both of them could have done better at their jobs, base coaching seems to be far from the Giants most pressing problem in 2016(see comments above).

Evans agrees that the Giants need a power bat in LF but strongly implied that they will be looking to find that from within the organization naming Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker as the main contenders.

Sounds like the Giants really liked what they saw from Ty Blach and he might even have a leg up on Matt Cain for the 5'th SP slot next spring.

I think everybody agrees that the Giants top priority this winter will be upgrading at closer.  That will not come cheaply!

Although the Giants are still very high on prospect Christian Arroyo, they feel he is not ready to pencil into the MLB roster for next season and will likely start the season in AAA.  Both Conor Gillaspie and Eduardo Nunez will be back next with with one or the other or both manning 3B.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Game Wrap 2016 NLDS Game 4: Cubs 6 Giants 5

The Giants final game of the 2016 season proved to be a microcosm of the whole season, at least the second half of it.  The bullpen  blew the game and the season.  It's as simple as that.  Key Lines(averages are postseason):

Denard Span- 2 for 5, 2B.  BA= .267.  Span had 4 hits in 11 AB over the last 2 games with 2 doubles and a triple.  To my eye, Span played noticeably better with with more energy after he started platooning with Gorkys Hernandez in CF.

Conor Gillaspie- 4 for 4.  BA= .400.  Gillaspie was a valuable bat off the bench all season and he really came to life in the postseason.  Had the Giants gone on to win this series, he would have been my choice for series MVP.

Joe Panik- 2 for 3, SF.  BA= .600.  Joe Panik's bat came to life in the last few games.  A good omen for next season?

Matt Moore- 8 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K's.  Moore pitched like an ace and deserved a much better outcome to the game.  I think Pete Rose asked a really good question on the postgame show.  Why not let Moore pitch the 9'th inning?  Yes, he had thrown 120 pitches, but was coming off his easiest inning of the night and had thrown 133 in a regular season start.  He was pitching on 8 days rest and would not have to pitch again for 7 days if the Giants ended up advancing to the NLCS.  Bochy obviously knew the bullpen was gassed.  Why not give Moore a chance to finish it?

9'th Inning- Curious managing by Bochy here, reminiscent of Felipe Alou's frenetic pitching changes.  If Boch felt he could not ask Moore to go back out for the 9'th, why start with they guy who had thrown the most pitches of any reliever the night before?  Coming into the game, I felt there was no way either Law or Romo should be used after pitching 2 innings each the night before and it turned out that both looked completely gassed.  If Boch wanted to play matchup, he should have done it with Strickland, Smith and Kontos. Maybe Lopez.  I don't agree with Dave Cameron much, but I agree with his take that Smith probably should have been the guy to hand to ball to in the 9'th and let him finish it come hell or high water.  I guess the silver lining is there is now no way Evans and Sabes will be tempted to not rebuild the bullpen this winter, starting with a frontline closer.


So, that's it folks.  The season is over.  We can move on to rooting for the Dodgers to lose which is almost as satisfying as the Giants winning!  Stick around for the offseason.  I will post when I have something to write about.  I may go a day or 3 without posting anything or I might write 3 posts in 1 day!  We'll definitely do the one and only DrB's Giants Top 50 Prospects starting sometime after the Winter Meetings.  We'll cover offseason trades and FA signings.  I am hoping to have more complete draft coverage this year starting in the offseason and we'll probably do some fantasy baseball stuff.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Game Wrap 2016 NLDS Game 3: Giants 6 Cubs 5 in 13 Innings

Apparently "torture" is alive and well this postseason as the Giants repeatedly came back from the brink of elimination to win in extra innings.  Key Lines:

Denard Span- 2 for 6, 2B, 3B.  BA= .200.  Span looked pretty fast out there legging out the triple.  He added a nice catch in the OF for good measure.  Again, I think Span benefits from the rest he gets in a platoon with Gorkys Hernandez.  He scored 2 of the Giants runs in this one.

Brandon Belt- 1 for 4, BB, SF.  BA= .200.  Belt drove in 1 run with a long sac fly to cut the Cubs lead to 3-2.

Buster Posey- 3 for 5, BB.  BA= .385.  Posey seems to realize the power is not there and is content to hit the ball where it's pitched and keep the line moving.  He drove in Span from 2B for the first Giants run, then scored on Gillaspie's triple in the 8'th when the Giants took a temporary lead.

Conor Gillaspie- 1 for 6, 3B.  BA= .182.  Gillaspie strikes again!  He was robbed earlier on a blown call by the ump that was inexplicably upheld on replay when Anthony Rizzo clearly pulled his foot off the bag on a spectacular play by Javier Baez.  On the other hand, if Gillaspie had been safe there, maybe the chain of events in the 8'th inning would not have played out?  And what about the left-handed hitting Gillispie getting it done against Aroldis Chapman after Hunter Pence struck out? Chapman seemed to completely fall apart after that and so far the Giants have hit him pretty well.  He might have given up the tying run in Game 1 had it not been for a very bad call on a check swing strikeout by Gorkys Hernandez.

Brandon Crawford- 2 for 6, 2B, SB(1).  BA= .231.  Crawford drove in Conor Gillaspie with a much needed insurance run in the 8'th and later started the winning rally with a double.

Joe Panik- 3 for 4, 2B, 2 BB.  BA= .571.  Panik's bat came to life just in time.  Despite getting on base 5 of 6 PA's, he was not involved in any of the scoring until he drove in the winning run with a double in the 13'th.

Madison Bumgarner- 5 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 4 K's.  ERA= 5.40.  Bumgarner struggled through the 2'nd inning throwing 37 of his 101 pitches in that inning alone.  Ironically, it was a terrible pitch to his pitching counterpart, Jake Arrieta tagged him for a 3 run dinger, that put the Giants in a hole they almost didn't dig out of.  Credit Bumgarner for hanging in there and not allowing any more runs through 5 innings.

Derek Law- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.00.  A fired up Law was sensational, giving the Giants 2 innings of shutdown ball.  His emotion seemed to be contagious on the dugout.

Hunter Strickland- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 0.00.  Strickland was a dour as Law was enthusiastic, but he got the job done in the 8'th with several FB's that hit triple digits on the TV radar gun.

Sergio Romo- 2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K's.  ERA= 9.00.  Just when you think the closer role is stabilized, Romo shows why he lost it after 2012.  He walks the left-handed hitting Dexter Fowler to lead off the inning, then hangs a slider to Kris Bryant of all people.  You know those cars on the LF wall that Jeff Kent threatened to saw off if they cost him a dinger?  They almost saved Romo here, but the ball bounced on the top of the wall and skipped into the stands for a 2-run, game-tying HR.  Interestingly, Bochy left Romo out there for 2 innings and he retired the next 6 batters he faced.

Will Smith- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 0.00.  Will Smith was thought to be the Brewers closer coming into this season before he hurt his knee.  He's really settled down his game since coming to the Giants.  Is he a consideration for next season, or even the rest of this postseason?

Ty Blach- 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 0.00.  The Kid was sensational again and earned himself a postseason win for his already growing resume'.  Kid's gotta be the favorite for the 6'th starter/long relief role next season if not the 5'th starter!


The Win kept the Giants from being eliminated from the postseason in a series sweep.  They now trail the Cubs in the NLDS 2 games to 1.


Matt Moore gets the call in another elimination game today facing another tough customer in John Lackey.  Again, Moore's job is to not get behind early and give the Giants a chance to get on the board first.  He runs hot and cold but is certainly capable of giving an ace level start.


In other news, it was not a good day for closers as the Nationals bombed Kenta Maeda and Kenley Jansen to take a 2-1 lead over the Dodgers in the other NLDS series.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Game Wrap 2016 NLDS Game 2: Cubs 5 Giants 2

The midseason version of Jeff Samardzija showed up for this one and dug the Giants into a 4-0 hole they were not able to climb out of.  It was like the Giants lost the first 2 innings 4-0 and won the last 7 by 2-1.  Unfortunately, it was all one game.  Key Lines:

Jeff Samardzija- 2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  As I said in the series preview, to have a chance, the Giants have to get great starting pitching, and this one was definitely not great.  It's not completely clear to me if Samardzija didn't want to throw his secondary stuff as a strategy the first time through the Cubs batting order, or if he knew his secondary stuff was not good last night.  In any event, He threw, what, 9 pitches to Dexter Fowler, a guy who had a 13 pitch leadoff AB against him earlier in the year?  I did not see one offspeed pitch the entire AB.  By the time the count got to 3-2, Fowler was sitting dead red.  When Samardzija tried to climb the ladder, Fowler climbed right with him and clobbered it off the ivy in R-CF.  In fairness to Samardzija, there were a couple of bloopers by Jason Heyward and the opposing pitcher that contributed to the ugliness, but that first AB by Fowler pretty much set the tone.

I agree with John Smoltz' analysis.  While it is understandable that you don't want to show the opposing team your secondary stuff too soon, your first responsibility in a postseason game is to not let the other team get an early lead.  Plus, it's not like Samardzija  has just one offspeed pitch now.  He could have broken out either the spike curve or the split early and save the other one for later.

Ty Blach- 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K.  The kid looked great again, and why did Bochy pull him in the middle of an inning with the bases empty?  OK, there were a couple of RH batters coming up, but Blach hasn't had much trouble with RH batters either.


The Loss put the Giants behind in the 5 game series 2 games to 0.  They now get a travel day to regroup and will try to stave off a sweep on Monday, Oct 10 with Madison Bumgarner facing Jake Arrieta.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Game Wrap 2016 NLDS: Cubs 1 Giants 0

This game was a mirror image of the Wild Card game as Johnny Cueto was the more dominant of 2 dominant pitchers for 7 innings before making a single mistake pitch to Javier Baez.   For their part, the Giants offense failed to take advantage of opportunities.  Key Lines:

Johnny Cueto 8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 10 K's.  You can't pitch much better than that.  Maybe the HR pitch to Baez was just a mistake pitch, a random occurrence, but you have to wonder if Cueto was aware of the LH hitting Chris Coghlan in the on-deck circle and was trying to not walk Baez.  Or maybe he was a little too aware of the rising pitch count?  Coghlan is a good hitter, but Baez has otherworldly power and is the guy you don't want to give in to in that situation.  If you don't want to face Coghlan, well, that's what Will Smith is on the roster for.

Jon Lester- 8 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K's.  The Giants got the leadoff batter on in each of the first 3 innings and had runners at 2'nd and 3'rd with 2 outs later in the game.  And how do you get one runner thrown out trying to steal 2B against a pitcher who won't throw to 1B and how do you get picked off 1B by the catcher on a sac bunt attempt?

Aroldis Chapman- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  OK, here's where I'll complain about the check swing strike call which was one of the worst I've seen all year.  I mean, it's often a tough one to call, but that was not even close, even in real time.  If Gorkys is on first base, he just might have scored on Buster's double.  Unfortunately, that might be the closest the Giants come to scoring off Chapman in the series.


The loss puts the Giants down 1-0 in the 5 game series.  Historically, the winner of game 1 of 5 game series' wins the series 70% of the time.


Jeff Samardzija takes the ball for game 2 facing Kyle Hendricks.

Friday, October 7, 2016

2016 NLDS Preview: Giants vs Cubs

There really isn't any point in doing a player-by-player analysis here, or even a team stats by team stats analysis.  I'll save myself a whole lot of writing and you a whole lot of reading and just stipulate that on paper, the Cubs have a better team than the Giants.  But the Giants have been here before.  Anyone still remember 2010 and the Phillies?  The postseason is a different animal.  Fangraphs posted an analysis of likely playoff rosters and while the Cubs are still on top and the Giants still middling, it's already closer than the regular season stats would make it appear.

Which brings me to what I think gives the Giants close to an even chance of winning this SOB, Starting Pitching, or more specifically hot starting pitching.  Yes, I know the Cubs have really good SP's too, but I don't really care about them.  I knew Noah Syndergaard was a darn good SP too, but I thought that game was winnable because the Giants had a pretty good SP of their own.  Go back and read my Preview of the 2010 series against the Phillies.  I could pretty much cut and paste it here, cross out Phillies and replace it with Cubs and get away with it.  The key to the Giants winning this series is having 4 hot SP's who can lock down the Cubs in low scoring games where a mistake, a key hit, a hot  bat by an average player like Cody Ross oor Conor Gillaspie or a stray HR by a player like Travis Ishikawa, or Edgar Renteria, or Conor Gillaspie can win the game.  So, let's just skip to the Giants 4 projected SP's for the series and why I am bullish on the Giants chances.

Madison Bumgarner:  OK, I don't think we need to even analyze this one.  He just might be the best postseason pitcher of all time!

Johnny Cueto:  Cueto has been a co-ace all season.  In fact, if it weren't for Madison Bumgarner's long history of postseason heroics, I might even prefer Cueto in a must-win game!  Cueto has a history of fading in the second half and postseason, but he found an extra gear in September this year:  4-0, 1.78, 35.1 IP, 7 BB, 35 K's.  He had that groin twinge in his next-to-last game which was a bit scary, but came back to pitch 7 innings and strike out 11 against the Dodgers on the final weekend.  I'm assuming he's healthy and have every bit as much confidence in Cueto as I do Bumgarner and have no problem with him getting the 2 starts if it goes 5.

Jeff Samardzija:  Shark has had his ups and downs but re-tooled his pitches on the fly around mid-season by adding a spike curveball that became a true out pitch.  Then, in his final start he broke out a rather nasty looking splitter which he could use against LH batters to keep them off his FB, which still goes mid-90's.  Samardzija had a 2.76 ERA in August and 2.95 in September.  In his final 2 Starts, he allowed just 2 runs in 13 IP with 1 BB, and 20 K's.  So, Shark may not be a true ace pitcher, but he's been pitching at ace levels for the last 2 months, particularly his last 2 starts.

Matt Moore:  Another guy who runs hot and cold.  He's still young and a bit excitable and has gotten lit up when he was too amped, but he got that under control for the final Dodgers series.  In his final 2 Starts of the season, he allowed 2 Runs in 15.2 IP, with 2 BB's and 17 K's.  So he's another guy who has ace stuff and can pitch like an ace if he can keep his emotions in check.

So there it is.  I'll put up that starting 4 against any other 4 in baseball right now and take my chances in a series of low scoring games.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Game Wrap 2016 NL Wild Card Game: Giants 3 Mets 0

The Legend of Madison Bumgarner and Giants Even Year Magic went to a new level with one of the most dramatic games and finishes of this unbelievable 7 year run.  Bumgarner went mano-a-mano with Noah Syndergaard with Syndergaard appearing to be the more dominant pitcher, but Bumgarner matching him goose egg for goose egg.  Then Syndergaard dropped out after 7 innings and Bumgarner just kept on going to serve as his own closer after Conor Gillaspie hit a 3-run HR off Jeurys Familia in the top of the 9'th inning.  Key Lines:

Brandon Crawford- 1 for 3, BB.  Crawford opened the 9'th with a double to left-CF off Familia.  

Conor Gillaspie- 2 for 4, HR.  Gillaspie was the only player in the game with more than 1 hit.  When he came up with runners at first and second and 1 out in the 9'th, I thought there was a good chance he would get a hit and possibly drive in the first run of the game, but I never dreamed he would hit it out.  Yet another Giants draft pick and prospect who gets traded or released only to come back a hero years later.  What a story!  Ha! And what about Madison Bumgarner calmly walking up to him after he got back to the dugout and saying, "Conor, I appreciate the hell out of that!"  LOL Madison Bumgarner!

Madison Bumgarner- 9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K's.   So, Madison Bumgarner is suddenly a curveball pitcher?  I don't think I've ever seen him throw that many in one game before.  Not that he didn't also have his FB/Cutter combo, but he was able to keep the Mets off balance by using a pitch they had probably not seen much of before.  Also, the legend just keeps on growing.  What is it?  26 IP over 3 elimination game starts without allowing a run?  

Just an aside, I am not sure Bumgarner didn't intimidate the home plate umpire.  He and the ump had some words somewhere around mid game over the ump's, ahem, creative strike zone.  From that point on, I thought almost all the borderline pitches were called strikes for Bumgarner and almost all balls for the Mets.

Noah Syndergaard- 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 10 K's.  Ironically, it was Syndergaard who appeared to be the more dominant pitcher through most of the game racking up an impressive strikeout total and allowing just 2 hits.  Maybe the K's ran up the pitch count too much?  Maybe Thor just doesn't have the stamina that Bumgarner has, but his failure to go as deep as Bumgarner just might have been the difference in the game.  Oh, and he also reportedly told someone before the game that he was already looking forward to the Mets-Cubs series.  Uh, maybe next year?

Jeurys Familia- 1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  Familia had 51 Saves in 56 opportunities in the season.  I honestly thought the Giants only chance was to hang on until Reed and Familia were used up.  I think Syndergaard's velocity was a factor in the relative ineffectiveness of Reed and Familia. After seeing Thor's 99 MPH heat all night, Familia's mere 97 looked like batting practice pitches in comparison!


The Giants are the NL Wild Card Winners for the second time in 3 seasons. They did it on the road both times.  They now move on to the NLDS facing the team with the NL's top W-L record, the Cubs. With 4 SP's who can shut down a good team on any given day, I think the Giants have a great shot at this one.  Remember they only lost the season series 3-4 and 3 of those losses were by 1 run.  But more on that later.

2016 NL Wild Card Game Preview: Giants vs Mets

Pregame analysis of a single baseball game, let alone predicting the outcome just might be the silliest of exercises in writing about sports, but whattheheck?  We don't have anything better to write about so might as well try to break this one down.  So, how do I see this one shaping up?  Any single game analysis has to start with the starting pitchers and we have two of the very best going in this one.  While they may have different styles of pitching, both pitchers are true aces in every sense of the word, both have extensive postseason experience and success and are remarkably closely matched.  Here are their respective pitching lines for the season:

Noah "Thor" Syndergaard:  14-9, 2.60, 183.2 IP, 2.11 BB/9, 10.68 K/9.

Madison "Madbum" Bumgarner:  15-9, 2.74, 226.2 IP, 2.14 BB/9, 9.97 K/9.

Yup.  That's about as well matched as you can get.  Sure, after you adjust for park factors and defenses behind them and deviation from expected norms, Syndergaard has the better FIP/xFIP and higher fWAR, but come on!  Syndergaard may have the better DIPS, but it's not like Bumgarner's is chopped liver and he has the better defense behind him, so there!  They are evenly matched!

So how about those lineups?  Most analyses of postseason games and series focus on individual position matchups.  I am going to focus on team stats.  I think you will agree that there are some interesting similarities and differences here(league ranking is in parentheses):

Giants: .258/.329/.398, 1437 H(9), 973 1B(6), 280 2B(11), 54 3B(2), 130 HR(28), 715 R(19), 9.1 BB%, 17.7 K%, wOBA= .315, wRC+= 98, BsR= -2.6, Off= -18.2, Def= 83.4(2).

Mets:  .246/.316/.417, 1342 H(26), 865 1B(24), 240 2B(29), 19 3B(26), 218 HR(5), 671 R(26),  8.5 BB%, 21.3 K%, wOBA= .315, wRC+= 97, BsR= -7.6, Off= -27.4, Def= 32.9.

So putting those numbers into DrB's Number Cruncher and we get 2 offenses that are approximately equally effective, but get it done in wildly different ways.  The Mets hit dingers.  The Giants keep the line moving.  The Giants are slightly better baserunners.  While both teams play good defense, the Giants are elite defenders second in MLB only to the Cubs, while the Mets are merely good.

Then there are the bullpens and I'm not going to sugarcoat this.  The Mets have a better bullpen and it's not very close.  The Mets have an elite closer in Jeurys Familia and an even more elite setup man in Addison Reed.  Their next 3 guys, Fernando Salas, Hansel Robles and LHP Jeremy Blevins don't exactly stink.  The Giants bullpen has stiffened over the last couple of weeks, so the chasm may not be quite as wide as it looks, but I don't think Evel Knievel would try to jump it.  Let's just face it:  If the Mets have the lead after 6 innings, they are probably going to win.  If the Giants have the lead after 8 innings, they MIGHT win.

This is about as even a matchup as you will find in a postseason game/series.  Yes, either pitcher can have and has had a bad day, but chances are this is going to be a low scoring game.  If the Mets win, it will likely be due to Bumgarner catching too much of the plate and giving up a dinger or two.  If the Giants win, it will likely by due to a Met's fielding error or heads up baserunning play by the Giants.  If it is tied in the late innings and it becomes a war of bullpen attrition, gotta say I don't like the Giants chances in that one.

Still, this is very winnable for the Giants.  Bumgarner needs to avoid giving up the early dinger and give the Giants a chance to score first.  Whoever scores first will have a huge advantage.  The Giants then need to play excellent, error-free defense and keep the line moving, make themselves tough outs, force Syndergaard to throw a lot of pitches and try to get to him before Terry Collins has a chance to go to his bullpen.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Down on the Farm: 2016 Sacramento River Cats Season Review

As has become standard practice, the Giants used their AAA affiliate as an extended bench with the majority of position players having prior MLB experience and most of them helping out the MLB club at some point during the season with several players making valuable contributions.

Gorkys Hernandez, a well traveled, good field, no hit outfielder who was once a highly regarded prospect on the national level, ended up with the most AB's(437) on the team by a fairly wide margin.  He posted a surprisingly good batting line of .302/.381/.421 with 8 HR and 20 SB.  He has filled in ably for Denard Span when Span was hurting and has formed a nice little L-R platoon while putting on an impressive defensive show in CF.  Going forward, the Giants might want to consider a permanent L-R platoon with Span as Span seems to be thriving on the extra days off when they are facing lefty SP's.

Other post-prospect players with MLB experience who rode the shuttle between Sacramento and San Francisco includes Grant Green, Ramiro Pena, Jarrett Parker, Ruben Tejada and Conor Gillaspie.

Graduated:  Mac Williamson played 54 games with 203 AB's for the River Cats hitting .269/.314/.495 with 11 HR's.  He played enough at the MLB level to surpass 130 career AB's and is now officially graduated, although there are not guarantees he does not end up back in Sacramento to start next season.

Trade Bait:  Andrew Susac has struggled with injuries and defensive chops in his limited MLB carer.  He started the season with a bad wrist but recovered in time to post a .273/.343/.455 line in 249 AB.  He was traded at the deadline to the Brewers in the Will Smith trade.  He missed some more time with apparent injury after the trade and hit under .200 in limited action for Colorado Springs, the Brewers AAA team.

The Prospect:  Austin Slater was promoted midseason from AA and would now have to be considered the top position prospect from the 2016 River Cats team.  He got off to a slow start after the promotion but went on a tear in August to finish with a .298/381/.506 line with 12 2B, 13 HR, 33 BB, 53 K in 245 AB.  5 of those HR's came in one 4 game series in Reno, so you might want to discount the power just a bit.  Still an exciting season for Slater who has emerged as a legitimate OF prospect.

Starting pitching was more prospect oriented and was surprisingly strong all season:

Ty Blach LHP.  DOB:  10/20/1990.  6'2", 200 lbs.  Drafted in Round 5, 2012.  14-7, 3.43, 162.2 IP, 38 BB, 113 K, GO/AO= 1.22.  Blach had a particularly strong second half.  See full Prospect Retrospective from 2 days ago.

Clayton Blackburn RHP.  DOB:  1/6/1993.  6'3", 230 lbs.  Drafted in Round 16, 2011.  7-10, 4.36, 136.1 IP, 35 BB, 101 K, GO/AO= 1.19.  Disappointing season for Blackburn who appeared to be on the cusp of a MLB career after his strong finish in 2015.  He pitched well at times, but obviously got passed on the depth chart by Ty Blach.

Chris Stratton RHP.  DOB:  8/22/1990.  6'3", 190 lbs.  Drafted in Round 1, 2012.  12-6, 3.87, 125.2 IP, 39 BB, 103 K.  That is a pretty good line considering the environment.  You would like to see a higher K rate from a former first round draft pick.  He appeared in 7 games with the Giants, all in relief, with a 3.60 ERA in 10 IP.  I was impressed by his 94 MPH velocity in his relief appearances.  He may have a future as a MLB long reliever or back end SP.

Joan Gregorio RHP.  DOB:  1/12/1992.  6'7", 180 lbs.  6-8, 5.28, 107.1 IP, 43 BB, 122 K.  The K rate is great, but he gave up too many walks and dingers.  He may have the highest ceiling of all this year's AAA pitchers, but needs quite a bit more salt.  MLB future may be as a reliever.

Minor League Veteran:

Albert Suarez RHP.  DOB:  8/8/1989.  6'3", 239 lbs.  4-3, 4.34, 45.6 IP, 14 BB, 39 K.  Spent most of the season as a swingman/fill-in SP for the MLB club more or less playing the Yusmeiro Petit role with mixed success.  Given the struggles of Jake Peavy and Matt Cain, the Giants probably don't make the postseason without Suarez, but he appears to have been passed by Ty Blach on the SP depth chart and his long term future with the Giants is uncertain at this point.

Trade Bait:

Adalberto Mejia LHP.  DOB:  6/20/1993.  6'3", 195 lbs.  4-1, 4.20, 40.2 IP, 11 BB, 43 K.  Mejia pitched well at both AA and AAA levels, but was shipped to Minnesota for Eduardo Nunez.  Ty Blach's performance since being called up makes that trade a lot more palatable.  The Giants also have Andrew Suarez rapidly rising through the system who also probably made the Giants front office comfortable with trading Mejia.

Lefty Specialist:

Steven Okert LHP.  DOB:  7/9/1991. 6'3", 210 lbs.  Drafted in Round 4, 2012.  4-3, 3.80, 47.1 IP, 11 BB, 60 K's.  The K/BB is terrific, but after allowing 9 runs in 6 IP, over 7 appearances in early August, he was not looking like much of a prospect.  Okert got his ship righted with 8.2 scoreless IP with 1 BB, and 11 K's down the stretch in August to earn a September callup.  He has been terrific in September and is probably the Giants #2 lefty reliever now behind Will Smith.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Game Wrap 10/2/2016: Giants 7 Dodgers 1

The Giants jumped on Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda for 5 runs in the first 2 innings and never looked back as Matt Moore stifled the Dodgers lineup for 8 innings.  Key Lines:

Denard Span- 3 for 5, 3B.  BA= .266.  Span seems to be thriving in a platoon system and I think it's more than just him not facing lefty pitchers as much.  He looks like he feels better out there with the extra rest.  He's hitting .321 over his last 7 games and .308 over his last 15.  He looked faster in the OF too!

Brandon Belt- 2 for 4, 2B, BB.  BA= .275.  Say what you will about Brandon Belt and this season, but he set new personal highs in PA's(by a wide margin), doubles, triples, XBH's, OBP and RBI's and tied for his personal best in Runs.  He came into this game with a fWAR of 4.3 which has a dollar value of $33.2 M or almost half of the total value of the 5 year contract he signed at the beginning of the season.

Buster Posey- 3 for 5.  BA= .288.  Buster finishes the season strong.  Pitchers seem noticeably more comfortable with him behind the plate.

Hunter Pence- 1 for 5.  BA= .289.  Pence took a lot of wild swings in this series and Vin Scully rode him mercilessly for it.  He punched a single to RF to drive in an insurance run and later came around to score a run of his own.

Angel Pagan- 3 for 4, 2B.  BA= .277.  Pagan is steady as she goes. He had a slump early in September but came back strong in the last 2 weeks.  We'll talk about next season later.

Matt Moore- 8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K's.  ERA= 4.08.  He's been more dominant, but he was rock solid today. He gave up all 3 of the hits in the 4'th inning when the Dodgers scored a run.  He got out of it when Denard Span tracked down a long flyball at the warning track in CF by Joc Pederson.  That was the only time the Dodgers threatened all game.  Take away 2 disaster starts out of 13 he made for the Giants, his ERA in the other 11 was 2.63.  He gives the Giants a 4'th SP capable of shutting down an opposing team in the playoffs.  Not sure other Postseason teams have that kind of SP. Maybe the Cubs?  Of course it will only matter if they can get by the WC game where SP depth doesn't count for squat!

Sergio Romo- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.  ERA= 2.64.  Not even close to a Save situation.  Not sure why Romo was out there unless Bochy didn't want him idle for 3 days before the WC?  Anyway, once again, Romo looks like a new pitcher against LH batters!


The Win clinched sole possession of the final Wild Card playoff spot.  They finish 4 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West.

The Giants get a day off to savor their win before heading east to New York for the Wild Card Game on Wednesday, 10/5/2016 with Madison Bumgarner facing Noah "Thor" Syndergaard.   Win or go home!

Prospect Retrospective: Ty Blach

If you are a regular reader of When the Giants Come to Town, Ty Blach is no stranger to you, but after yesterday's sensational performance, I am sure there are a lot of people out there asking where he came from.  Well, here's the story:

Ty Blach was drafted by the Giants in Round 5 of the 2012 draft out of Creighton U where he posted a pitching line of 6-6, 2.69, 120.1 IP, 28 BB, 83 K, 2.09 BB/9, 6.21 K/9.  That is a typical profile of a polished college pitcher who often does well in the lower minors, but reaches his ceiling early and stalls out in the upper minors.

Blach did not get his first pro action until the following season, but the Giants gave him an aggressive placement in High A San Jose.  He dominated the Cal League with a line of 12-4, 2.90, 130.1 IP, 18 BB, 117 K, GO/AO= 1.17, 1.24 BB/9, 8.08 K/9.  The increase in K rate coupled with an extremely low BB rate seemed to point to a bright future.

I saw him pitch in the Cal League Championship series against Inland Empire on 9/12/2013.  His line in that game was 7.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, GO/AO= 12/5.  My own scouting report from that game said, "…..sturdy looking LHP who has an upright windup with a high 3/4 delivery. He kind of falls forward off the mound with an abrupt deceleration."  "…..a solid 3-pitch mix anchored by a 91 MPH FB."  "….lots of groundballs…."  Yep, that's pretty much what we saw yesterday at AT&T Park, right?

He moved up to AA Richmond in 2014 and saw a slippage of both his BB and K rate posting a line of 8-8, 3.13, 141.0 IP, 39 BB, 91 K, GO/AO= 1.07, 2.49 BB/9, 5.81 K/9.  The BB rate is still very good.  Just not as awesome as his Cal League numbers.  There are very few pitching prospect with K/9 under 6 that make it to the majors.

The Giants moved him up to AAA Sacramento for the 2015 season where his ERA predictably rose:  11-12, 4.46, 168.1 IP, 31 BB, 93 K, GO/AO= 1.46, 1.69 BB/9, 5.06 K/9.  Again, not the very low K rate.  The walk rate is again excellent and the groundball rate may translate to higher levels in the majors where he would to have to pitch in all those high altitude parks in the PCL.  Still, he was looking more like a AAAA pitcher than a major leaguer.

He had more success in 2016 back in Sacramento with a line of 14-7, 3.43, 162.2 IP, 38 BB, 113 K, GO/AO= 1.21, 2.10 BB/9, 6.25 K/9.  He really seemed to find another gear in the second half of the season with a line of 7-2, 2.02, 76 IP, 13 BB, 62 K's.  He gave up just 3 hits in 7 IP with 2 BB and 9 K's in his final AAA start of the season on 8/26/2016.

His future in MLB depends on his ability to maintain a FB at or above 90 MPH and to command it on both sides of the plate.  He has the ability to have a long career as an innings eating #4 or 5 starter with an occasional dominant start.  He also has an extreme outside chance of having a career like Tom Glavine, but I wouldn't count on it.  He certainly deserves to be in the mix for next year's Giants MLB squad and may well have just knocked Albert Suarez out of next year's 6'th starter/swingman role.  I don't know if he is postseason eligible, but if he is, he may have knocked Suarez out of that role for the postseason too!