On Friday while I was working, the internet was busy throwing around names and came up with the future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki as an option for the San Francisco Giants as they search for a Left Field platoon partner with Gregor Blanco that could hit LHP.
While Baseball Reference has both Ichiro and Brett Gardner hitting Free Agency at the same time (after the 2014 season), remember that Brett Gardner will be going into his age 30 season and is an everyday player while Ichiro is going into his age 40 season and is more of a platoon player, and is a bench player for the Yankees.
Looking at Ichiro’s overall numbers, you may be turned off right away:
|SEA (12 yrs)||1844||8483||295||79||99||438||97||513||792||.322||.366||.418||113|
|NYY (2 yrs)||217||795||28||4||12||34||9||31||84||.280||.310||.376||87|
Sub-.300 OBP, 75 OPS+, what really is there to see here? Remember that in this exercise we’re primarily looking for a platoon partner and someone that can play defense, and at least the arm of Ichiro has never been in doubt since he’s broken into the league. A look at his numbers against LHP in 2013:
Those are much more attractive numbers and ones that should make you feel better about bringing on an old guy to the team you love. For those wondering, his on base percentage against LHP the last four seasons from 2010: .340, .325, .291, .331 . His wOBA? .342, .290, .282, .329. If there’s anything we’ve established, it’s that you’re either getting a good platoon partner or a tolerable, maybe groan-worthy partner — and who says baseball isn’t easy to predict. The rumors as for whom the Yankees might want back for the aging Hall of Famer?
I wouldn’t trade Scutaro for Ichiro. They could probably get him for less.
— Dave (@gggiants) December 7, 2013
— Jed Weisberger (@jedleyq) December 7, 2013
Since Robinson Cano signed with Seattle and Eduardo Nunez becomes the starting 2B for the Yankees for the time being, the mallet-fingered Marco Scutaro becomes an option people are looking at. I think Dave’s right that the Giants could get the Yankees for less. Dare I say what kind of less — not really, because I’ve never been any good at that kind of predicting. What I know is two teams with money trading for a player, if it happens, you don’t have to be concerned about a team worrying about somebody willing to pick up the tab on the contract. As noted earlier, Ichiro is a bench player on the Yankees, so I think they’d be wise to unload him to a team that will use him to start 60-80 games and get some value out of him, even if that value happens to be some more bench players, or a bullpen arm.
My bias towards Ichiro is that I love him, so the heart says bring him on for maybe one last year for him, and get that Ichiro Giants jersey or shirsey I’ve always wanted to get. While I would have no worries about his defense, my only concerns would be about his offensive contributions in his starts, and with his consistency spoken about a little bit earlier, I am scared that he’s going to perform so poorly that the Giants take a waiver on a journeyman left fielder and waste at bats with him a la Jeff Francoeur. Nobody wants to relive Jeff Francoeur. I do want to experience Ichiro Suzuki, though.
Robinson Cano Stays Out of the National League, Could Be Problem Against #SFGiants in 2017 World Series
Robinson Cano and his five consecutive 25-HR seasons are on its way to Safeco Field in Seattle, where he will have zero competition for the title of Best Offensive Player on the Seattle Mariners, unless the Mariners get Carlos Beltran or Shin-Soo Choo, then Cano will have some competition. There are probably quite a few old-fashioned (and new-fashioned) fans that might struggle with the idea that Matt Carpenter was worth more than Robinson Cano in 2013, but Carpenter had a season for the spreadsheets, as they say. Back to Cano, he’s getting ten years, which is ridiculous, but if there’s a team that can do something stupid right now, Seattle is one of those teams. Paying and getting Cano will be smart for probably the first three to six years, but then after that who knows. Can he Barry Bonds baseball once he hits that later stage in life? The Magic Eight Ball is telling me “IT’S NOT LIKELY,” but what does that thing know? I got married, so in your face, “Magic 8.”
Robinson Cano may not be the ALDS MVP (it’ll be a thing then, tru$t me) or the ALCS MVP when the Mariners make it to the World Series once all their pitchers plus Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and David Price are pitching with their eyes closed against the upstart Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers (yea, still). However, all it takes is a short series for one person to make their mark on history. Ask Pablo Sandoval, Marco Scutaro, Cody Ross, or Edgar Renteria, you know they know. Here’s a preview from my 2017 World Series Preview — San Francisco Giants vs. Seattle Mariners: Everybody’s Cheering for Seattle.
Thanks, Dodgers, that was fun. Four games, and we thought you’d get at least two with Clayton Kershaw pitching Games 1 and 4 but no, you just got swept by Kyle Crick, Madison Bumgarner, and David DeJesus. That’s going to be a tough one to live down. Now the Giants have to face a team a little better on paper than them in pitching, and more impressively coming back from 3-1 down against Jarrod Parker and the Tigers. Pretty impressive, and Giants fans will remember how monstrosous the 2012 Champs were after they went down 3-1 against St. Louis. Remember how they used to be a thing? Poor #BFIB. The series even starts in Seattle, we all remember Robinson Cano’s grand slam in the All Star Game off of Craig Kimbrel, boy was that an impressive shot at Petco…
There’s your preview, because it’s still slightly believable, though totally October baseball, you know? Cano will still be good in 2017, and that’s going to be a problem even if the Mariners lineup still has Jesus Montero and Chone Figgins/totally Seattle Mariners player in it. This will be a series full of so many ups and downs, Giants fans will wonder if they should’ve signed Robinson Cano and ditched Marco Scutaro and forgotten about Joe Panik. Let this post be a reminder to you Giants fans in 2017: no, the Giants did the right thing in the offseason of 2013-2014. You’re going to see how bad the Mariners are in 2020, and it’s not going to look good. You’ll be glad Brian Sabean stayed out of it.
We all start as new fans sometimes.
Also should’ve used “are” instead of “is,” but whatever, I just thought “Berry Zito” instead of Barry Zito was a little funny. Could be that his autocorrect got the best of him…. Technology can just be the worst.
Ryan Vogelsong officially signed his one-year deal and went into what I consider to be predictable Vogelsong-isms that talked about his reactions to his option being turned down and how he has a chip on his shoulder, quotes that don’t surprise you, really. It was the non-Ryan Vogelsong portion of today’s press conference with General Manager Brian Sabean that got more Giants fans listening to what was going on.
On the bullpen:
Sabean said Giants board had full day of meetings discussing free-agent relievers vs. internal possibilities.
— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) December 5, 2013
I don’t really think the Giants need to look far to fill in some of their spots as I have faith in Jake Dunning and Heath Hembree to start doing work on an annual basis for the AT&Ters. On Brandon Belt playing or moving to Left Field:
A player playing his position that he’s practiced. Imagine that. This does bring up the point that I saw floated across social media that Belt probably sits when Buster Posey is “taking a day off” and playing first.
On the magnitude of free agent signings:
Funny how quickly money you’ve budgeted out for your team can disappear. It’s also funny how similar the team from 2014 is looking to 2013. 2014 will be the “We’ve seen this before” story, and it’s either going to be a lot of fun, or it’s going to be 2011 and 2013 all over again.
On possible Tanaka pursuit with rumored new posting considerations:
Sabean said earlier no on Tanaka. I asked again given the posting changes. He said he hasn’t received anything official on that. #sfgiants
— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) December 5, 2013
Plus, if the proposed $20MM max to post is approved, Masahiro Tanaka may not even make it over to the United States until his contract is up with the Japan Champions Rakuten Golden Eagles. His team has the right to not post, so any dreams you have of the Giants competing with a $20MM cap, I’d temper them, because that system is not an attractive offer for the NPB.
Back to left field:
Brian Sabean on LF: “I’m not optimistic that it’s going to be a big piece or something earth-shattering.”
— Carl Steward (@stewardsfolly) December 5, 2013
Given that “high-ticket” FA are out, we’re going to be looking much cheaper. The free agent pool really doesn’t have a lot to offer, so if there’s going to be a trade, your guess is as good as mine. A lot of people are still pretty surprised about how the Giants and Francisco Peguero aren’t connected at the moment. We’ll see what comes of all this, but getting a good platoon partner for Gregor Blanco would give the Giants some good outfield depth that they were missing in 2013.
In the end, this was a press conference full of non-surprising tidbits, at least for me, and I think for a lot of people. Hard to find a chunk of the fanbase that’s frustrated with $150MM of spending, yet here we are.
Monday provided the good times for teams to decide whether they would hold on to players on their 25-man roster, essentially tendering them a one-year deal that could go through the arbitration process, or non-tendering them, making them a free agent. Beat writer Hank Schulman gave a one-tweet rundown of whom you needed to get ready for:
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) December 3, 2013
So, with that said, let it be known that the Giants decided to tender Brandon Belt, Gregor Blanco, Tony Abreu, Yusmeiro Petit, and Joaquin Arias, while saying ta-ta officially to Sandy Rosario and Francisco Peguero. Some thoughts on the tenders (mmm… tenders…):
Belt: The most divisive first baseman on the planet because some thought he was going to be the second coming of Buster Posey and hasn’t been that (yet). Still, being an above-average MLB 1B with above-average MLB numbers make him a no-brainer to keep around. Plus, there have been rumors going around that the Giants would like to get a multi-year deal done with Belt, presumably to buy out his arbitration years through 2017.
Blanco: A joy to watch in the outfield and has decent enough splits against RHP to warrant him being in the lineup against them. Paying a couple mill to someone that can hit RHP and provide you with speed seems worth the money to me.
Abreu: A journeyman that played with four teams at the MLB level in five seasons. Defense isn’t rated as anything positive, and his offense is good against LHP, so while the Giants have no platoon going on with Marco Scutaro or Pablo Sandoval, Abreu’s bat can give some reason to give one of them a day off. For those that want to argue against Abreu’s ’13, his career numbers don’t suggest the 29-year old can keep it consistent.
Petit: He was one pitch away from a perfect game, but let us not forget he also had six outings of six or more strikeouts. In three outings he offered zero walks. In his eight outings, only one time did he not go five innings, and that was in his last start of the season. I do not mind the Giants taking a gamble on Petit to see how much longer he can mystify hitters, but I will admit, I’m not expecting much.
Arias: His value is with the glove, and his ability to play multiple infield positions, and not with the stick. You expect his .346 BABIP against RHP to stick when it’s been a career .298? Me neither. The Giants would be paying probably a little over a million if they held on to him to be depth on their bench. Pinching pennies, but you can get someone younger to do that for half the price. Looks like the Giants have their middle infield bench set as long as nobody else beats out Arias and Abreu for those spots.
To be frank I thought Sandy Rosario and Francisco Peguero were already gone so that’s why this move came as kind of odd to me. That’s what you get when you don’t go on your phone from 10pm-5pm every week day.
The San Francisco Giants, after signing Tim Hudson to a deal, decided to turn their focus on landing their #5 pitcher, be it Ryan Vogelsong, a different in-house option, someone on the market, or finding another pitcher in a trade. Apparently, the Giants have decided that Ryan Vogelsong was their best option:
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 29, 2013
The Giants rotation is now something along the lines of:
Originally the Giants had a $6.5MM option for him for 2014, but opted out, paying him $300,000 for the chance for them to explore their options for a better pitcher. Instead, it seems they could be paying more than their original option should Ryan Vogelsong first pass his physical to seal the deal, then summon his inner 2011 and 2012 seasons to earn more than what he was originally scheduled to earn.
2013 for Ryan Vogelsong saw him pitch in the World Baseball Classic and struggle in the regular season before coming back to being the Vogey we all know and love, before suffering a broken hand on a swinging HBP vs. the Nationals while he had a 6-0 lead on them:
The rest of the year he spent recovering and working to get that hand strength back, so even when he was reinstated and pitching again, he wasn’t the 100% Ryan Vogelsong we’ve been used to. What can you say about this deal? The Giants apparently didn’t like what they saw in Yusmeiro Petit, Edwin Escobar, or even Chad Gaudin enough to say to them, “You’re our #5 guy,” so if any of them are on the 25-man Opening Day Roster, it’s probably as a bullpen option. I know I can’t necessarily think of better, cheaper #5 options for the Giants that were out on the market, but I can’t say I’m thrilled or angry at this move. I’ve accepted it, and am OK with it. I believe the contributions Vogelsong can make for the Giants aren’t done yet, and this will be the last year he works his stuff with the Giants. If he can’t get that velocity back though while not improving his control+command, he’ll be pushed out of the rotation in favor of Petit or Escobar, should they still be around.
The Giants will now be turning their attention to filling out the rest of their roster, with their biggest goal of being acquiring a platoon partner for Gregor Blanco. Beat writers have said they expect the Giants to do so through trade, rather than free agency. The Winter Meetings, where baseball executives get together, will be held December 9-12 in Orlando, FL.
Were you expecting moves the night before Thanksgiving? Me, neither. Nonetheless, here they are:
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) November 28, 2013
Peguero was listed as the #10 prospect within the SF organization, but let’s not get that confused for a “top prospect,” overall. I will say, that their choosing of Peguero over Roger Kieschnick is interesting, but maybe there are some conversations we don’t know about between the Giants and Franky Pegs or Kieschnick.
The people at SB Nation’s Padres site, Gas Lamp Ball did an article on Jose De Paula earlier this calendar year and we find out a little bit about the kid from the Dominican Republic. Then there’s Erik Cordier, the guy who’s got a roster spot on the squad right now despite having no MLB appearances. This is quite the move, though it’s been a while since the Giants have had a flamethrower on their squad, even if there is no movement on his fastball. Here’s an interaction between pitcher Shane Loux, and beat writer Henry Schulman on the odd-ness of the move:
Then a former teammate of Cordier, Doug Mathis, that was playing with the AAA-Pirates squad weighed in:
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) November 28, 2013
So the Giants brought on a flamethrower, someone that struck out 28% of the guys he faced, and walked 12.1% of them in 53 innings pitched and 44 games. Perhaps the Giants figured if they had just signed Cordier to a Minor League contract that he would get picked in the Rule 5 Draft by an organization that needs a power arm, and so they gave him a MLB deal. I’m sure that was very welcome by Mr. Cordier and his camp, so we’ll see how this works out once camp rolls around. Or heck, maybe he doesn’t make it to camp and a move is made before then. Still, some interesting moves, albeit relatively minor ones for the time being.
While the thought of the Giants and Ricky Nolasco coming together was entertained during the regular season, the off-season didn’t really provide a lot of reasonable banter for the Giants and the recent Dodger, but mostly former Marlin joining forces. The Giants, while definitely concerned about their pitching, let it be known they wanted to build a bridge to their prospects that they expect to be joining the club in 2015-2016, so that largely means two- to three-year deals at the longest to any free agent pitcher looking for work. Any pitchers wanting four-year deals (and even a fifth year vesting option) can get the heck out.
So it makes it easy for a club like the Minnesota Twins, whose other pitchers in the five-man rotation included such names as Kevin Correia (on a two-year deal, for some reason), Sam Deduno, the contactable Vance Worley, and Andrew Albers, to offer a free agent like Ricky Nolasco a lengthy contract of four years and $49MM with a vesting fifth year option. The Twins pitching staff is made up of people National League fans mostly say “Who?” to for all but maybe two or three guys. A bonus for the Twins is that since Ricky Nolasco was traded mid-season, the Dodgers could not make a qualifying offer to Nolasco in an attempt to get a Supplementary Round draft pick had he signed elsewhere, and the Twins don’t lose a draft pick, either. For reference, should they sign a free agent that has a qualifying offer attached to them, the Twins would lose their second round fifth overall draft pick since their first round pick is protected.
The soon-to-be 31 year old Nolasco is a solid #4 pitcher, maybe even a good #3 pitcher on most major league twenty-five man rosters. His FIP in the last six years have all been between 3.34 (2013) to 3.87 (2012), while his ERA has been higher than his FIP in all but 2008 (3.52 ERA to 3.77 FIP). Nolasco has gone more than 185 IP in five of his last six seasons while only Correia was able to reach that mark for Minnesota in 2013, so should Nolasco’s relatively clean bill of health continue, he will be saving the bullpen some work. Other categories Nolasco ranked in 2013 compared to the other names previously listed on the Twins along with Scott Diamond:
- Games started — 33 (1st)
- K% — 19.7% (1st)
- BB% — 5.5% (1st)
- ERA — 3.72 (1st)
- FIP — 3.36 (1st)
- LOB% — 70.7% (3rd)
- Fastball velocity — 90.3 (T-3rd)
- Contact outside the strike zone — 61.2% (2nd)
- Contact inside the strike zone — 86.5% (1st)
- First strike % — 59.6% (1st)
- Swinging strike percentage — 10.6% (1st)
Now, this all assumes Nolasco will be the same through his contract years, which going through the latter half of his career, he’s likely due for some regression. This could be fine for the Twins as they wait for guys like Alex Meyer, Trevor May, Jose Berrios, and Ryan Eades to develop, and hey, the Twins probably aren’t going to be competing for a little bit, so Nolasco will probably have some intangible value as the new kids get settled in.
As for my thoughts on the value of the deal, a fourth year for Nolasco certainly isn’t ideal, and a fifth year could be annoying to the club should it vest as he goes into his age 35 season, but with the money having an Average Annual Value of $12.25MM and it being the Twins, you’re going to have to pay a little extra in money and/or years to get a free agent to look your way. Being at $46MM before the Nolasco deal brings the Twins 2014 salary up to $58.25MM. The Giants certainly will be looking for a fifth pitcher that requires fewer years and a lower AAV. This was a good get for the Twins, but I think the Giants did well to sit out this one. They have been connected to Bronson Arroyo and Ryan Vogelsong, and have said they would not sacrifice a draft pick to get a player.
Announcement of the signing was first made by SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo, the terms by Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan.
In the timespan of 1989-2000, the Giants had three different general managers: Al Rosen (’86-’92), Bob Quinn, Sr. (Dec ’92-Sept ’96), and Brian Sabean (Sept ’96-Present). Al Rosen saw the Giants of San Francisco win two division titles in his tenure and one pennant, Quinn, Sr. would see one winning season in 1993, and Sabean has worked with five division winners, one wild card winner, three pennant getters, and most notably and importantly two World Series champion teams. While I am not sure of the history of scouting, I imagine it can’t be too different from the way things are today when it comes to preparing for the Rule IV Draft. Playing around on Baseball Reference the other day, I was looking at some potential HOF players and where they were drafted, and if the Giants missed out on them. This turned into an exercise of seeing that the Giants did not catch their breaks when identifying future MLB talent with their first round picks. We start with Royce Clayton in 1988 and then there is a streak of players not hitting double-digit rWAR until Noah Lowry (miss you!) in 2001. Take a look at some of these names and for the Giants fans that remember all this, I’m so sorry:
|1988||1||15||*Royce Clayton (minors)||SS||19.4|
|1989||1||14||Steve Hosey (minors)||OF||-0.5|
|1990||1s||33||*Marcus Jensen (minors)||C||-0.7|
|1990||1||19||*Eric Christopherson (minors)||C|
|1990||1||15||*Adam Hyzdu (minors)||OF||-0.1|
|1991||1s||33||*Steve Whitaker (minors)||LHP|
|1992||1||7||Calvin Murray (minors)||OF||2.1|
|1993||1||6||Steve Soderstrom (minors)||RHP||-0.2|
|1994||1s||32||*Jacob Cruz (minors)||OF||0.4|
|1994||1||22||*Dante Powell (minors)||OF||-0.2|
|1995||1||16||Joe Fontenot (minors)||RHP||-0.8|
|1996||1||7||Matt White (minors)||RHP|
|1997||1s||49||*Dan McKinley (minors)||OF|
|1997||1||4||Jason Grilli (minors)||RHP||4.5|
|1998||1s||41||*Jeff Urban (minors)||LHP|
|1998||1s||38||*Chris Jones (minors)||LHP|
|1998||1||29||*Arturo McDowell (minors)||OF|
|1998||1||25||Nate Bump (minors)||RHP||-0.6|
|1998||1||19||*Tony Torcato (minors)||3B||-0.1|
|1999||1s||39||*Jerome Williams (minors)||RHP||4.3|
|1999||1||24||Kurt Ainsworth (minors)||RHP||-0.3|
|2000||1||21||Boof Bonser (minors)||RHP||-0.5|
|2001||1s||41||*Todd Linden (minors)||OF||-1.8|
|2001||1||30||Noah Lowry (minors)||LHP||10.2|
Hard to believe these days where some of these players were taken: Jason Grilli fourth overall, Jerome Williams in the supplemental round, Boof Bonser, Todd Linden, Tony Torcato. These are names I recognize so it makes it more interesting for me. I don’t know those names before that… Steve Soderstrom rings a bell, but that’s about it. This twenty-one pick gap in between first round picks getting double digit rWAR for their career is the largest gap the Giants have in their drafting history. Even in the last decade from 2006-2008 you have Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, and Buster Posey taken in consecutive years in the first round, so you can see how identifying potential MLB talent can be really important if you didn’t already recognize that. It’s way too early to drop the gavel on guys like Christian Arroyo, Gary Brown, or even Kyle Crick and say they are/aren’t going to be double-digit rWAR players, although that may be a fun bet to make with a dedicated baseball fan friend. Here’s to hoping the Giants draft more Lincecums, Poseys, Bumgarners, Clarks and Williams in the coming years.
Deadspin believes that the voting process for the Hall of Fame is ridiculous, so to try and “make a mockery… of the process” they set out to buy votes from BBWAA members, and they got one taker. They’re not sure what to do with that vote from here, nor will they announce whom sold them the vote until their vote has been cast and decided upon by Deadspin readers in some format. For those newer to the way things work in terms of which people get to vote and then some, Baseball Reference explains things pretty well:
Votes are cast annually by BBWAA members with 10 or more years of membership. Each qualified BBWAA member may select no more than 10 names from a pre-screened ballot of players who played in MLB for at least 10 seasons and had been retired for at least 5; players whose names are cast on at least 75% of the ballots are elected to the HoF, while players named on fewer than 5% of ballots are dropped from future ballots. In addition, if a player has been on the ballot 15 times without being elected, he is also dropped from future ballots.
Writers, once they get this privilege to vote, can retire, move on to another sport, and still vote for which players they think are fit for the Hall of Fame. It wouldn’t be to anyone’s surprise that an older vote may be comfortable in their ways of player analysis, or that a vote from a writer that has been detached from baseball due to retirement or covering another sport/subject would lose some touch with the changes that go on within baseball analysis. Last year there were 569 ballots casted, not including those that may have abstained or forgot to send in a ballot. These vote counts do include those men (women are generally just starting to get their HOF ballots so we know how they’re using their votes) that have decided they’re taking a stand against baseball for whatever reason — steroids, the game not being what it used to be, whatever their narrative is. You can see why baseball fans may be frustrated with all of this and why Deadspin has decided to try and take a stand. Deadspin will certainly not buy all the votes out there, but the precedent they’re setting is dangerous to what’s left of the reputation of the Hall of Fame.
What’s going to stop other companies, other news outlets, from buying a writer’s vote if they really wanted? It would probably take a lot of money, but there are quite a few companies out there that have stupid amounts of money and I’m sure they’ve spent their money on some stupid things before, and so that’s why I don’t think buying a Hall of Fame vote is out of the question for some institutions. Even if, hypothetically, you have 10% of the vote made up of sponsored votes, that’s 10% of writers selling out even though they gave so much of their life to covering baseball. Giving writers the right to vote and to watch them sell it off seems dirty. The same kind of dirty some people feel about steroids, about betting on baseball, about doctoring a baseball. Much as our opinions will differ on those latter topics, I believe Major League Baseball should take away any writer’s vote for life if it’s found they have sold it off. One and done. There’s enough bad analysis out there declaring what is Hall of Fame and what isn’t, I’d like to see anyone that’s willing to take someone else’s money to influence their vote have their ballot taken away.
Update: Apparently the Hall of Fame can decide on those kinds of consequences:
Quick point: the BBWAA does not choose or have power to exclude other groups from the HOF voting process. The HOF does.
— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) November 27, 2013
Maybe your opinion isn’t as strong as mine on this, but should there be consequences for a writer selling their vote? Make your voice heard in the comments below!