Archive for the ‘ Spring Training 2013 ’ Category

The End is Near

February 21st we were all so excited that Spring Training began, that games were being played. Our favorite players were back to throw, hit, and sign baseballs like only they could. Then February 22nd came and we got bored. Some of us made a pilgrimage to Arizona or Florida to get some action, others watched and saved money for the regular season from the comforts of our home. We rosterbated, read the prospect lists, looked at the depth charts, and we made predictions. Today is March 30th, and the end of Spring Training is near.

Screen shot 2013-03-30 at 8.28.16 AM

 

Today’s schedule has teams in multiple states, from the Phillies in Pennsylvania, the White Sox in Houston, the Padres in Texas, and the Rockies in… Utah. The goodwill games in more or less neutral sites are great publicity moves, and also mark a signal that we are almost there. Finally, when the Dodgers and Angels engage at Angel Stadium tonight, we will know that will be the last Spring Training game of 2013.

It’s time to play ball. Time to time the national anthems. To laugh at other teams and their rosters, their matchup choices, their lineup construction, their fans that don’t show up to the games, or that do and insist on doing the wave. To talk trash with our friends that are fans of rival franchises, whether cordial, or seemingly hostile. Time to put too much into small sample sizes, complain about playing time, and wonder aloud what the heck is going on with a player/team/franchise. To cry for the top prospect that could hang with the big boys, to cry out when the walk off hit comes through and we may end our night with sadness, or with joy.

It’s time for baseball to be back. We have waited, and we are about to be rewarded.

#SFGiants Sign Buster Posey to a 8 Year, $159MM Extension

Oh, Justin Verlander, you think you’re going to be the big news of the day? Buster Posey has some thoughts on that:

Posey would never be so arrogant to another baseball player like that, but no one’s surprised the Tigers kept Verlander, although maybe the money was a bit high. Gerald Dempsey Posey III, entering his Age 26 season, will be a Giant for the foreseeable future (through 2021 at the very least, a club option for 2022). You might be wondering to yourself like I was how often the Giants win with Buster Posey in the lineup, well thanks to baseball reference, I can tell you that they win more often than not when Posey starts games. A graph:

Screen shot 2013-03-29 at 10.26.03 AM

Let’s say you won 58% of the games you started in 140 games, that’s still 81 wins with twenty-two games left to go. The fact that Posey has been an integral part of a winning club should not be lost on anybody. Has he had some good fortune that he’s had the chance to work with guys like Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Ryan Vogelsong when they’ve got their stuff in check for the most part? Absolutely. Bengie Molina had to work with less, although still had a pretty awesome Timmy, Cainer, and MadBum was just making his presence known. Here’s a totally unfair graph of how the Giants did in Molina starts:

Screen shot 2013-03-29 at 10.35.12 AM

Even in 2010 when Posey came up, Molina saw half the games he started in being won, but 59% of Posey’s netting the Giants a W, and ultimately, Buster would be a part of a drought-ending team for the Giants.

In between 2010 and 2012, Buster has amassed 301 games at the catcher position, which is tied for 19th most in that timespan, yet he still has had the time to put up some pretty nice/interesting numbers. Among MLB Catchers:

HR: 6th (46)

BABIP: 2nd (.342) to Joe Mauer

AVG: T-1st (.317) with Victor Martinez

OBP: 3rd (.384) behind Mauer, and Carlos Ruiz

wOBA: 1st (.383)

wRC+: 1st (145)

fWAR: t-1st (13.2) with Yadier Molina

Consider that every player listed here and along with the HR peoples have played at least 60 more games at the C position than Posey with the exception of Martinez (272 G).

Other Notable Catcher Contracts

  • Mauer with the Twins makes $23MM a year in a 2011-2018 deal.
  • Molina has a 5 year/$74MM guaranteed deal that beings this year, with a $15MM option for 2018
  • Miguel Montero ha a 5 year/$60MM deal that begins this year
  • Brian McCann is making $12MM this year and will be a free agent in after this season unless the Braves sign him to an extension

I’d say most of these catchers are pretty important to their franchises, especially the top two, but I’m sure Buster Posey’s camp started talking about Mauer numbers from the get-go before Yadier’s name was brought up in conversation. Words such as “Two in Three,”  “MVP,” “Rookie of the Year,” “Face of the Franchise,” were probably all used in conversations between the two sides.

The Payroll

Well, now we definitely have money to keep track of beyond 2019. Madison Bumgarner has options that can take his contract out that far, with guaranteed money that he’s owed in those later years, Matt Cain’s contract “only” goes out through 2018. Here’s what my Excel spreadsheet said about the payroll before the signing:

2013 — $138.33MM

2014 — $67.55MM

2015 — $55.5MM

2016 — $42.83MM

2017 — $32.33MM

2018 — $32.83MM

2019 — $12MM

If you’re going to fill up the payroll though, wouldn’t you do it on Buster Posey (if anybody) too? Of course you should. Here’s the payout:

My opinion on the contract

A nine-year contract, eight-year extension worth $167 million all told, if you want the whole thing averaged out, it’s $18.5MM/year. If you just want the extension, it’s $19.875MM. The option year has reported to be worth $21.4MM-$22MM, which would push the contract up to $188.4MM over the course of ten years. $7MM signing bonus (ka-ching!), and a $3MM buyout in that option year if things go all Barry Zito. Posey gets a full no-trade clause, and that shouldn’t be anything the fans or front office worries about for a while anyway. I Love this contract with a capital “L,” and think Brian Sabean and his team did a great job locking up their catcher (would have liked six years, but many fans thought this would be a ten-twelve year deal in the end). Assuming good health, Buster can probably make good on the value of this possible ten-year deal in seven years through $5MM per one fWAR. However, he may make it up sooner after he wins the Giants four straight World Series titles *winky face*

It is a wonder whether the Giants will be keeping Posey at catcher throughout the life of his contract, especially as long as Joe Torre stalls to not implement any new catcher safety rules. Regardless of all that, Buster Posey will be a Giant throughout the prime of his career, and that should make Giants fans very happy to have both a leader, and a bat in their lineup for years to come.

What’s next

Luckily, Posey has given us an exclusive look at that in this commercial:

Time to get to work.

GIFPost: Tim Lincecum’s Final Tune-Up

Tim Lincecum had his last start of Spring Training, and went 81 pitches across 4.2 innings, and how many earned runs or hits he gave up isn’t exactly what you should care about, but the velocity, and location of his pitches should be what you’re looking at a little closer. With that, I GIF’d a bunch of Lincecum’s pitches last night in case you missed his start.

Fastball

Broken bat for a hit? No big deal. If Buster Posey is setting up at a spot and Lincecum hit it, that’s all I care about in Spring Training.

That 92 was the top velocity Lincecum would hit on his fastball.

4th inning and still able to hit spots was a good sign, although I thought he was missing his spots more often as the game went on.

GIF’d that fastball since it had a little run to it. So he’s still got that weapon, wondering if he’s just figuring out how to use it again.

Curveball

Gotta have your breaking pitches, and if you’re going to leave them up like that, might as well make it early in the count. Ryan Vogelsong would approve.

This was happening a fair amount: breaking balls in the dirt. Buster made an effort for some of them, but didn’t go all out on the rest, just letting Spring Training do its thing. That’s going to be something Lincecum has to work on, is consistently having his breaking pitches start a little higher so his catchers aren’t tired by the 2nd inning.

Breaking Ball — Slider or Splitter

The key for Lincecum is to have this pitch start at a little above the knees so the hitter thinks it’s going to be a strike and then ho-ho-ho, son, look what just fell out of the zone.

That one was a beautiful pitch. I’ll have more of those, please.

Coco Crisp thought that was going to be a fastball.

So we see that Tim Lincecum is still there, but it’s a matter of him finding himself. Giants will need that Tim Lincecum this year because Barry Zito probably is not going to be white unicorning it in the regular season. Overall, the broadcast booth was pleased with the outing, and I gotta say I was, too. Fastball was a decent velocity, he hit his spots most of the ti–

Shut up, Yoenis Cespedes.

But yes, good final start of Spring Training.

Other GIFs

Brandon Crawford plays pretty good defense

Angel Pagan is still playing World Baseball Classic defense

Not even sure how he got on the ground, but whatever. Really hoping that defense gets cleaned up for the regular season. I didn’t enjoy him doing dumb things in the OF during the WBC with Puerto Rico.

How I’ll Summarize Friday in Baseball

Easy it is to get sucked in to the Madness in March and forget about things like America’s pastime in the midst of a lengthy pre-season. The lull of mid-March about ten days before the regular season wears on everybody, so we have to find ways to keep ourselves interested, and hyped for what’s to come, like in this definitely not-bad video featuring plenty of stars like Justin Verlander, Robinson Cano, and Buster Posey, to name a few:

When I heard people promoting this video with Posey in it I was wondering how it could be that good because most of the Giants-produced commercials I don’t feel that much of a bond towards. Case-in-point, this fan & Ryan Vogelsong commercial:

Vogey is obviously the star of this commercial, and he doesn’t really even do anything except be mad. Meh.

Some injury news and scares from the outfield, first from Arizona, the home of grit and gamers:

The loss of Adam Eaton for that much time means the insertion of Gerardo Parra into center. Good for Parra that he’ll get regular playing time, and then probably force a logjam in the outfield when Eaton gets back from his injury… at least that’s what I expect to happen, unless Jason Kubel or Cody Ross get injured sometime in May/June. Sucks for fantasy baseball owners that have drafted Eaton already expecting some help in the runs and stolen bases department.

In a Spring that has been less than ideal for the Dodgers with Hanley Ramirez having had to go through thumb surgery and be out for two months (the surgery went successful on Friday, by the way), then the Dodgers press box people are going nuts because

Especially for the people that think Yasiel Puig belongs on the 25-man roster, this caused a reasonably-sized panic. However

so that’s all over and nobody has to fret over that. Puig told Hernandez (and others, I’m sure) he thought he could play tomorrow.

I can’t embed this video, so I’m going to link you to it, but Mark Reynolds absolutely lit up a baseball tonight. If you like home runs, you will enjoy that clip because wow.

In other Giants news and notes, Ramon Ramirez and Wilson Valdez were released from the club and Nick Noonan was recalled, so… so much for that immediate 2010 reunion of everybody on the 2013 Opening Day roster, I guess. Brandon Belt also destroyed baseballs of his own today, and Bochy says he might even bat the more awkward Brandon third or fourth in the lineup when Posey’s sitting. Progress! The bench situation still looks pretty bad for the Giants, so know that Brian Sabean and his team are looking for acceptable options for Bochy to use for late inning subs, pinch hitting opportunities, and spot starts.

The Internet Says: Hanley Ramirez out for 8 Weeks

News out of Dodger camp this morning was more towards the “bad” end than the “good” end in terms of when to expect All-Star Hanley Ramirez back:

Depending on how the two look, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a platoon of switch-hitter Nick Punto and LHH Dee Gordon at shortstop, or they could just go full-time with Gordon (sorry, Juan Uribe). This does make the Dodgers lineup one pretty-good-hitter weaker, but you’ve still got a talented 3-4 punch at the very least with Matt Kemp, and Adrian Gonzalez… even Andre Ethier when there’s a RHP on the mound. I don’t think this sets back the Dodgers too significantly in the time he’s out. In fact, the defense might even be better with Hanley out and someone else manning the premium position.

Giants Notes for Wednesday

The blog’s been quiet for about a week, a combination of the celebration of my wife’s birthday, and some happenings that have demanded I take things seriously outside of the blog (nothing bad). People still check out the site despite the lack of news, and for that, I’m grateful that people give me the benefit of the doubt that I’ve been working on writing up this and that.

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It’s been speculated on in quieter times, and now there appears to be talking going on:

Heyman wants 10 years, and I’m sure the Posey camp does as well. Different starting points have been suggested, whether it’s Derek Jeter‘s contract, or Joey Votto‘s, you can be sure that this will be a contract that factors into the Giants spending plans from now through the early part of the roaring (20)20′s. Posey’s reps are no fools, and they know the Giants will have money available, if not money freed up due to some not-so-minor details:

“You don’t have to pay money on that anymore, you say? Well, my client will humbly accept your paying him that money,” his agent will say. With Posey guaranteed to be with the Giants through 2016, I’m not sure either party has to do this contract now, and how much money this will save just yet. If Buster keeps having MVP-caliber seasons, the Giants will save money. If Posey starts developing an injury problem, it will cost the money, but all long-term contracts come with risks, as evidenced by guys like Mike Hampton, and local favorite Barry Zito. Beat writers from the Giants know that this talking has been going on for a little bit of time, so the national media getting wind of this just makes it common knowledge now. My personal preference for the soon-to-be 26-year old: six to eight years, any amount of money the parties agree on I trust ownership to own up to. It will likely be nowhere near 6, and closer to 8-9, because 10 is, as my NorCal brethren would say, a hella long time.

——————-

We thought he had fallen off the planet. The Texas Rangers had found him? The Cleveland Indians were talking to him? We wanted full-time work? No one was able to talk to him. Then, Henry Schulman caught up with him…

… and Ryan Theriot, the scorer of the winning run in the World Series, is perfectly content with staying at home with his family watching his kids grow up, even at the ripe age of 33. His demands are simple, yet probably unattainable: regular playing time (starter’s role) for a major league baseball team. I encourage you to read the article because I always like it when the athletes we follow sound like good people, and Theriot sounds like good people.

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Not so Wednesday-y news, but the Giants bench has looked bad, but could be looking better: Andres Torres is getting healthy, Gregor Blanco is reverting back to his old batting ways, Brett Pill is feeling better, but the Giants still are hoping Hector Sanchez is feeling better. Former Arizona Diamondback and now Pittsburgh Pirate John McDonald  might have been a target of the Giants considering Kensuke Tanaka is not doing it in the infield, and nobody’s really been blowing away the field on the infield so far on the Giants roster. He would’ve been a solid defender to add, but oh well, no use sulking about it now.

My thoughts on the depth chart are this: While the bench may not look good in April-May, it will not look the same when the Giants are making their stretch run. Not that who’s on the bench doesn’t matter, but the stress that we can put into it might not be what it should be unless you’re managing this club.

Tim Lincecum’s Blister and other notes

Tim Lincecum has a blister on his middle finger, and it still isn’t well enough to wear the Giants staff wants him to pitch in a real live game. Today’s game against the Indians will make for his second consecutive start where he will get scratched, the first being Saturday’s split-squad game against the Cubs. Bruce Bochy drives home the fact that “there is still time,” and you may be thinking, and quite fairly so, “How much?” Spring Training is a little longer this year thanks to the World Baseball Classic, and at this time last year the games were just getting started, so news of so-and-so getting scratched for precautionary reasons is not new to early March. The Giants regular season schedule for the first couple weeks looks like this:

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One day off in the first couple weeks will cure our desire for regular season Giants baseball, but it also means that the last day the Giants will need a fifth start is Wednesday, April 10th. So that means Tim Lincecum has nearly five weeks to get into game shape if he even needs like long, and I’m guessing he won’t.

Bird Movements

Tommy John surgery, man, it can take you out, and Rafael Furcal is its latest victim, so look for Pete Kozma to take his place. If you have a fantasy baseball draft soon, don’t take Furcal. That’s my pro-tip of fantasy advice.

Trevor Rosenthal of the Cardinals has also been moved to the bullpen, meaning that competition to make the St. Louis rotation becomes that much easier for guys like Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller, two postseason contributors who are obviously already on the 40-man roster.

The Sandman will do a Chipper

Buster Olney is saying that on Saturday, Mariano Rivera will announce he will retire after this year, which will set off a farewell tour like what Chipper Jones went through last year with the Braves. For relievers with more than 500 IP, Rivera leads ‘em all in ERA (2.05), FIP (2.65), fWAR (38.9), and yes, even those Saves (608). Truly a pitching great whose cutter we could marvel at, and in 2013, we’ll get one last chance to do so.

It’s about to get a little Minor League-y in here

Today’s Giants Spring Training lineup contains some familiar names in it, but not quite all of the ones that carried the Giants through the last part of 2012:

With the Giants sending off Pablo Sandoval, Marco Scutaro, Angel Pagan, Santiago Casilla, (but not Jose Mijares, and Andres Torres due to injury) to San Juan to Pool C’s WBC action, the Giants are four regulars less. The Pool D players from the USA (Ryan Vogelsong, Jeremy Affeldt), Mexico (Sergio Romo), and Italy (Tyler LaTorre) would see their last action with the big club today before heading out to represent their countries for the tournament if Bochy decides to play the ones not named “Ryan Vogelsong.” So when it’s all said and done, the team is down one back-up catcher, three relievers (four if you count Mijares’ left elbow impingement), two infielders, one outfielder (and Torres shouldn’t be gone much longer, maybe around Thursday when Tim Lincecum aims to return to the mound), and one starter.

Guesses as to who will pick up the slack with these guys gone?

Outfield: Top prospect Gary Brown

Infield: Kensuke Tanaka, who still needs to show he can handle Short if he wants to make the club, especially after a rough Friday; Brock BondJoaquin Arias

Catcher: Johnny Monell and Guillermo Quiroz should continue to keep getting looks from the big club

Starter: Yusmeiro Petit, last year’s one-game starter, and the guy who started for Lincecum on Saturday

Relievers: Take your pick with four gone (in no particular order): Heath Hembree, Sandy Rosario, Jean Machi, Shane Loux, Dan Otero, Dan Runzler, Chad Gaudin, etc.

Lots of names to choose from, and we’re still about a month away from the regular season starting. If you’re watching the games, this is your chance to really take a look at the guys trying hard to crack the 25-man roster, and you won’t even have to wait until the 5th/6th inning to see some of them.

Brett Pill has a .929 SLG%

Brett Pill has done pretty well in Fresno, so it should come as no surprise that he’s doing well in Spring Training (albeit a small sample size), where much minor league talent is showcased. It’s also Spring Training. If you are using Spring Training stats as your basis for why someone should be on a major league roster, and maybe overtake should-be-starting 1B Brandon Belt, well, get ready from those looks you give the crazy people.

If I may, I’m going to show you some stats from previous Spring Trainings. 2012:

Screen shot 2013-02-27 at 7.43.18 PM

I don’t know who Hague is, Boesch had a 77 OPS+, Duncan played in 81 G, Raburn just gets the three letter “LOL” from Tigers fans. Don’t worry, I see you looking at Jesus Guzman‘s name. I know what you’re thinking. Stop that.

2011:

Screen shot 2013-02-27 at 7.46.14 PM

A backup catcher, someone whose team couldn’t wait to ship him off to Seattle, a journeyman, a guy whose career is pretty much over (and wouldn’t have a good year) were amongst the leaders in Spring Training HR.

2010:

Screen shot 2013-02-27 at 7.49.33 PM

Giants fans should see one name on this list and say to themselves, “OK, convinced.” Also, I don’t want to keep doing this because they’re Spring Training stats, filled with pitchers and defenders that may not ever see a Major League stadium as a player. This same lesson applies for pitchers.

Is it possible that Pill has a breakout star-powered season? Sure, I guess. But based off of all the scouting reports done by people who’ve seen the kid, I’ll take their opinions over minor league stats and Spring Training stats 999,999 times out of 1,000,000. It’d also be a really bad idea to make a prediction based off of 14 AB. That’s like saying you’re going to get an “A” in a class because you got a 100% on a quiz that was open-note, open-conversation, and open-internet when you know the teacher is only trying to ease you into the term.

Not that I’ve seen anybody go gaga over Pill this spring, but just in case. Open this article every time you think Brett Pill should be the starting 1B.

Three Angles for an Angel: Luis Jimenez with the Slide of the Day

Maybe slide of the week. Possibly slide of Spring Training, but with so much time left, and so many baseball games left, maybe Luis Jimenez won’t be placed in 2013 Spring Training glory forever. The play came on a Jose Mijares pitch, drilled into RF where Roger Kiecschnick came up with a throw to Andrew Susac who tried to get him with the tag.

The original clip

If I were to imagine the ideal slide into home, I can’t say putting my face into home plate would be high on my priority list. P.S.: Nice backing up the catcher there, Mijares.

From the 3B side

He starts off thinking right, sliding and making a slight reach for home, just too much momentum forward with his upper body leaning directly into home plate

From the 1B dugout

This results in said faceplant, which actually could have been saved from raspberry-territory by Susac’s glove.

Thanks to Fox Sports for having every possible angle of this slide available, which really wasn’t necessary, but I appreciate their enthusiasm for providing every angle that might be reasonable for a regular season game.

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