Mike Trout and the More Than $140MM Gamble

When we go to Las Vegas, one of the games we always look for is the Deal or No Deal interactive game. Not the slot machine, but the one where you have to spin the wheel and land on the briefcase in order to play the actual Deal or No Deal game. Once you start playing and you make your arrangement with the banker for a deal, at the end you have the chance to play Double or Nothing. You don’t have to play it, you can just take your guaranteed money and get the heck out of there despite the prospect of being that much richer. Mike Trout took his guaranteed money and got the heck out of there. While the metaphor to the game suggests Mike Trout could have got “nothing,” I know that’s not true at all, I just wanted to talk about the Deal or No Deal game. Trout could have earned in the neighborhood of $40-$60 million through arbitration, and after that is now anybody’s guess. If you’re paying the healthy Mike Trout of now to a free agent contract, maybe you go with a ten-year, $350 million deal and become a free agent at 36. Instead, Mike Trout signs a six-year extension worth $144.5 million and will become a free agent at 29.

I like Rosenthal’s point about the last three years of Trout’s contract, and while it’s nowhere near close to paying the $5-6 million per Wins Above Replacement might deserve in this current market, it sure as heck is a pretty darn good payday. If you went by the $ per WAR method, Trout’s market value would be in the $50-60MM a year range, which is stupid money, but it’s an idea of how good he’s been.

That Mike Trout will become a Free Agent at 29 instead of 26 did make some on social media upset Friday afternoon and evening, noting how big of a payday Trout could have missed (double the guaranteed money, $200MM more guaranteed money). While I agree he probably missed a PowerBall-sized payday, anybody that’s been paying attention to contract signings know that even if you’re in your thirties, teams will have no problem signing you to an irresponsibly large deal. Isn’t that right, Miguel Cabrera? Now, it’s not Miguel Cabrera’s fault the Detroit Tigers wanted to throw that money at him. Someone offers you that kind of guaranteed money to play baseball going into your age 31 season, you take it. With Mike Trout, the decision was a little more difficult at age 22. Even if Trout plays as 80% of the player he is now for the next six years, you don’t think the market will pony up a ten-year deal? Front offices don’t judge players by runs, runs batted in, and probably have better metrics than batting average to use, so they’ll take a look at the whole package. Hopefully, we’re beginning to be witnesses to one of the Top 15 MLB position player careers ever, and if that’s the player Trout becomes, he’s going to deserve a big ton of money at age 29.

I’d be worried for Trout if baseball were on the decline, but as it catches up to American Football in revenues, I think as long as Mike Trout keeps playing baseball at a Hall of Fame level, he’s getting his now and will continue to cash in later. What would have been interesting in addition to the contract Trout would have received at 26 would have been the contract he would have also received in his late-30′s. That’s probably a topic for the off-season when news slows way down, or in thirteen years when I’m in my forties. Oh my gosh, I’m going to be in my forties in thirteen years.

Tim Lincecum Taken Out By a Line Drive to the Leg, Doesn’t Know If He Will Miss Next Start

On Friday night at AT&T Park in a Spring Training game between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants, you may have heard the stadium go silent in the 4th inning. It happened when Daric Barton hit a screamer right back up the middle that went off of the left leg, Lincecum’s landing leg when he pitches. Lincecum did his best to stay up and walk it off, but it wasn’t happening, as he would fall to the ground, pointing to the back of his left knee as the Giants trainers tended to him. He was assisted off the field with a man on each side, making an effort to put weight on his left leg as he walked off.

If Lincecum’s out, as Baggs said, the Giants could load up on eight relievers, which means Derek Law could get some big-league time, which would be cool for him. Front office has given hints though that they’d want him to go down once Law’s at the MLB level. So, could Edwin Escobar get called up? I believe he’s the story like Law is, so no to that one. With Timmy’s statement, it looks like we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see where we’re at. So until then, enjoy the last thirty seconds of these Sweet 16 games.

Bochy: Chances of Marco Scutaro Breaking Camp with #SFGiants “Way Down”

When I was scrolling through Twitter on Sunday, a lot of fans were convinced Marco Scutaro would hit the DL at the beginning of the season. They live on Twitter a lot better than I do these days, and MLB Depth Charts had their back (no pun intended) with Scutaro projecting to start on the DL. This is probably as close to an official word as we’ll get before Scutaro is announced to start on the DL:

That means Ehire Adrianza and Brandon Hicks, maybe you don’t have to compete against one-another for the time being, perhaps you will both make it on to the Opening Day roster. Manager Bruce Bochy may not know exactly at the moment which hitter might be best for the 2 spot, but you will find plenty of supporters for Brandon Belt over the likes of Joaquin Arias and Brandon Crawford. Belt may not have been the best contact hitter last year, but he sure as heck did produce offensively, so why the heck not have him in the 2 spot? We certainly know Belt can be patient, even if he has his share of strikeouts. Expect Belt’s projected run total to receive a boost and his projected RBI to take a hit if he is indeed placed behind Angel Pagan in the order.

Until then, get well soon, Marco Scutaro.

Tony Abreu Released, Clears the Way for Ehire (or Brandon Hicks)

The San Francisco Giants released infielder Tony Abreu on Sunday morning. Abreu was out of options, as is Ehire Adrianza, whom I’d consider the favorite to nab the remaining backup infielder role on the 25-man roster. It’s Ehire, the 24-year old glove-first prospect, against the 28 year old Brandon Hicks, former member of the Braves and Athletics, who hasn’t played in the bigs since 2012. I hate doing this, but for your entertainment, here are their spring stats:


2014 SF 24 17 40 38 7 1 1 2 6 0 0 2 9 .184 .225 .421 .646 0 8.6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/23/2014.

Hicks (too many Brandon’s on the team)

2014 SF 28 20 48 37 10 16 7 0 3 11 2 0 8 9 .432 .532 .865 1.397 1 1 8.0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/23/2014.

You can see which one has had a better spring with the bat, and really it’s not close. The question for Bruce Bochy and company will be if they believe in Brandon Hicks’ bat enough to be a contributor for the 25-man roster. The glove of Adrianza is ready for the bigs, and being groomed as a shortstop will help his versatility in the middle infield. Hicks has spent time 2B, SS, and 3B this pre-season, with most of it coming at the middle infield spot. Hicks has put up decent MiLB numbers at the AAA level, but my question would be is that his ceiling?

I’d be surprised if the Giants released the 24 year old for Hicks, who probably doesn’t have much upside left. You could argue that with Joaquin Arias on the bench for defense already, that the Giants don’t need another glove, that a bat would be more important. That brings us back to the question of whether you believe in the bat of Hicks or not. Spring Training can a dangerous measuring stick, especially for Giants fans really strong on Hicks. Give me the defense, and whatever offense will be a bonus.

#SFGiants Beat Writers: Pablo Sandoval Extension Talks on Hold, Panda Wanted All The Money

Pablo Sandoval will be younger than 30 if/when he hits the Free Agent market after this season. As long as the Panda stays healthy, the Giants will very likely attach a qualifying offer to him, guaranteeing at least a draft pick out of him if they aren’t able to guarantee more years and less money in the bank by bringing him back. While beat writer Hank Schulman suggests the Hunter Pence deal could be a template for Pablo’s contract, another beat writer hears something else related to Hunter Pence’s contract:

Maybe that isn’t All The Money, but it is a lot. The Giants already have six players in 2015 that will get paid more than ten million in Matt Cain, Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey, Tim Hudson, and Angel Pagan, so I’m sure the club will have no problem giving off the front that they want to save some money. However, the market of those that could be there, doesn’t look too appealing. As Hank reminds us, Pence didn’t get an extension before the 2013 season, so let’s not pretend that this means this is the end of Pablo Sandoval and San Francisco. The risk the Giants run by not meeting the rumored sky-high demands, is that the demands will get higher if Pablo returns to 2009 or 2011 form, which really isn’t all that long ago, or asking too much of a player coming into his age 27 season.

If the Giants see a repeat of 2013 in 2014, I would hope the Giants look at trading the Panda because the possibilities from there can be pretty good, especially for finding some relief at the hot corner. Then again, I also hoped the Giants would have traded Javier Lopez in 2013 and that didn’t happen, but their asking price was also too high for the market. I expect the Giants to hold on to Pablo Sandoval in the end, perhaps six years with an option for a seventh at Hunter Pence money.

Bringing Together the Fantasies: Matt Cain Projections for 2014

Some people might be worried Matt Cain is finally regressing, that his luck has run out. Worried that his stats have fallen back to 2006 levels — the last time he pitched less than 200 innings and had above a 4.00 ERA. Even so, his walk rate was below 8% for the fourth year in a row, BABIP consistently around the .260 area, and his K% above twenty percent, among other numbers that might also tell you there’s not much to worry about. Giants fans will remember though that it was the home run ball early on in the season that was dooming Cain’s stats and probably made him a fantastic buy-low candidate after he’d given up nine home runs going into May. Yes, those nine bombs did match his overall 2011 total of HR given up, but consider that his total HR allowed the past five seasons from 2009 is 22, 22, 9, 21, 23, Cain ended up being in the area where we might have expected him, just with a bloated ERA and HR/FB%.

All this knowledge is pretty well spread out by now, so the only people that will be fooled by Matt Cain’s ERA and are not citing possible physical concerns are the people that don’t read up on fantasy baseball. Everyone is reading he’s a “buy low” and if he falls to you at the average draft position, you’re probably getting a good deal for the spot in the draft.

Other opinions on Matt Cain:

  • “He afforded a home run on 10.8 percent of the fly balls he allowed, an increase of more than 3 percent and a change that can influence a pitcher’s ERA by as much as a half-run… The smart move is to pick Cain assuming a mild rebound, anything more first requiring a sacrifice to Homerperflyeus, the Greek god of keeping fly balls in parks.” –ESPN
  • #2 on Jim Bowden’s “Undervalued guys to target,” including a sub-3 ERA projection from the former GM. Cain has only done that once in his career (2011).
  • 78% of Fantasy Experts connected with FantasyPros would draft Cain sooner than his #88 ADP
  • “You look at Cain’s peripherals, there are no real serious outliers. He just had a terrible start to the season. As for his low win total, blame that on the Giants’ offense… Cain is one of those players Fantasy owners might overlook on Draft Day coming off a down season, but don’t fall into that trap. He’s still a top 20 Fantasy starting pitcher.” –CBS Sports
  • The writers over at SB Nation’s Fake Teams have Matt Cain in their Top 25 SP overall
  • Some projections, including the Fans from Fangraphs thinking good things about Cain like they did about Brandon Belt:

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 9.08.36 AM

The fans, and some of the projections seem to agree with the numbers from PECOTA, where it listed Cain as throwing around 207 IP with a 3.10 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. Those would be very welcome numbers, and if he can pull that off with who knows who at second base and Michael Morse in left field for two-thirds of the game, that’s going to make life pretty good for fantasy owners of Cainer. The Steamer projections are the lowest on Cain, projecting a 3.75 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. Even the worst projections for Cain aren’t too awful, but they’re not the Matt Cain we’ve become spoiled with during his age 24-28 seasons. Yes, Matt Cain is entering his age 29 season, and the Giants can choose to utilize his services through 2018 at $20MM/year, except ’18 would be a $21MM team option. Neat that we get to watch what probably will be Matt Cain’s best years.

What I’m worried about for this year: do the injuries come back? Spring Training game performance reports have been positive thus far. What about the defense? ERA is dependent on a capable defense, and with Pablo Sandoval trimmer, Brandon Crawford healthier, and a commitment to Brandon Belt at 1B, the infield defense should be good. Left field with Morse is my only question mark, and if he gets injured, we know the Giants have plenty of gazelles they can replace him with.

My 2014 Projection: Matt Cain continues to steal our hearts and inspire tweets that only say “MATT CAIN” in them. There will be disturbing pictures of horses. It will be a good year. Twelve wins, 3.40 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 20 HRA. K% drops a little below 20% while the BB% stays below 8. He’s a good pitcher. I want to be like him.

Will I get to draft him: No. I’ll probably be drafting hitters when Cain gets picked up, so I’ll just watch Matt Cain win categories for my opponent in our head-to-head matchups. It’ll be a mix of great happiness and great sadness. I will regret not picking him up.

Bringing Together the Fantasies: Brandon Belt Projections for 2014

While trying to think of a title for this, all I could think of was a Ludacris track that probably everybody that’s written a Fantasy Baseball post has ever used or has seen cross their mind. A cliche title to be sure, but I enjoy Ludacris tracks. Anyway, this is about fantasy baseball, and this article’s on the lightning rod of the Giants fanbase, that being Mr. Brandon Belt. His 2013 started alright enough, then he would make some adjustments with his hands and his stance and all of a sudden the results would come.

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 5.02.18 PM

Average points from Weeks 1-17: 12.6. Weeks 18-26: 19 — a 66% improvement! I don’t even know what “Fantasy Points” mean, but a 66% improvement for a regular is pretty good. In the end, he put up a .289/.360/.481 with 17 HR and 5 SB. Is it Paul Goldschmidt or Joey Votto numbers? Absolutely not, but it’s still something and we wonder what Belt can do from here. FantasyPros do a decent job of gathering a good number of expectations from around the internet:

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 5.02.42 PM

PECOTA is even lower on Belt, thinking him for a .260/.350/.430 line with 14 HR and 61 RBI, most people really believing he won’t hit enough to drive in runs, and that he won’t have many runners to drive in. But maybe all these people have the right idea and I’m the one that’s naive on Belt. Interesting how bullish the fans on Fangraphs are on Belt while everybody/everymachine else refuses to give in to the optimism. Other opinions on Belt include:

  • “Belt is still 25 years old and could develop more power with experience, making him one of the more intriguing first-base bargains once the big boys are off the board.” –ESPN
  • #2 on the list of players “Scouts are buzzing about” from Jim Bowden
  • #5 on the list of players with the “Best Changes of Scenery” from Buster Olney
  • 85% of Fantasy Experts (FantasyPros definition) would draft Belt ahead of his average draft position of #142
  • “Belt finally seemed to break through in the second half last season and may have earned himself an everyday spot in the middle of the Giants’ lineup. He’s got decent power and can even chip in a few steals — think Eric Hosmer but cheaper.” — SportingNews
  • “Belt was a popular sleeper last year and — by early accounts — he’s going to be a trendy pick again… The most pressing question for would-be Belt owners is, “Can the Baby Giraffe increase his home-run output?” Really, what we all want to know is, can he hit 20?” –SB Nation’s Fake Teams
  • “Belt’s late-season surge is not enough to thrust him into the mix as a top 12 Fantasy first baseman, but he’s a mid-round Fantasy pick with upside.” –CBS Sports

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 5.03.17 PM

Man, fans really are bullish on Belt. If Belt gets a lot of time in the #2 spot, which, with Marco Scutaro out and old, may not be too farfetched of an idea, his RBI total will not see as happy times than when he’s in the #3 spot and people are getting on base for Brandon. With hits in the 3 spot will come the RBI, and even if the dingers don’t top twenty, the RBI will certainly be above seventy. He’s young, he will improve, and he will force the Giants hand to buy out his arbitration years. With that said, here’s one person’s opinion:

Brandon Belt’s 2014: 22 HR, 20.6% K%, .275 average, .380 on-base percentage, 78 RBI, 4 stolen bases

Will I get to draft him in the league I’m playing in: In a league with many Giants fans? No chance. I’ll probably get one Giant on my team, and I know Belt won’t be it.

Videos — Dads Ditching Kids for Baseballs: Probably Me Some Day

My wife says this will be me some day: a ball comes into the vicinity and I drop my kid for a $15 baseball. It’s ridiculous, illogical, and so, it makes us laugh so very hard when it’s not us. This will be me someday. After Chris Young‘s ground-rule double into the RCF grassy area, we were treated to this gem:

The legendary (and tiny) GIF of the best moment when the dad realizes what he’s done:

So great. This next one is probably my favorite. From a baseball game in Taiwan:

I mean…

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 7.02.37 PM

Nnnnno thanks.

This one’s pretty good, too. From a Marlins-Dodgers game:

Dad gets out of it by tickling his daughter? That daughter should have asked for an autographed baseball because dropping her is just… woo boy.

So let this be a lesson for you parents, because men aren’t the only ones that will fall victim to this. We’re just a heckuvalot more likely to do it. Duct tape your kids to you when you’re at a baseball game. Otherwise you will suffer the wrath of your partner, and it will involve much sadness. But as long as your kid’s OK, the public will be more than happy to laugh at you.

Two #SFGiants Games, Three Lineups, Lots of Future to Watch

Pre-game posts may be worthless to some, but if you were waiting for me to post something before the game so you could be ready for one of two San Francisco Giants games, then, hey, this post will have served a great purpose. On Sunday, the Giants will have two games: One versus the Los Angles Dodgers of Los Angeles at Camelback Ranch that will feature most of the regulars, and one at their home in Scottsdale for an intrasquad game where everybody wins as long as nobody gets hurt. First, for the Giants at Camelback:

They go against some kid named Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers still have another week of Arizona baseball before they head off to the southern hemisphere to play a couple games against the team from Arizona.

For the intrasquad game, you have a lot of Giants, present and future:

Or maybe some that will never make the 25-man roster, but let’s keep things positive:

2013 first round draft picks Ryder Jones and Christian Arroyo finish off the lineup with #1 Giants prospect Kyle Crick on the mound. You’ve noticed, of course, that the other starting pitcher is Madison Bumgarner. If you’re in Arizona and you’re a Giants fan, you have your choices of where to be today. Either game would be the right choice to attend.

Water Cooler Talk: Spring Training Stats Entering Sunday’s Games

The numbers of Spring Training can lead to some rather misleading analysis, but if there is anything interesting that you can make out of Spring Training statistics, it is picking the stat you are finding in a player and asking, “What part of this might actually be real?” Some bullet points out of the numbers you’re seeing from Giants camp:

  • If you’re looking at Sergio Romo, you know from the articles you’ve read that he’s been focusing on his fastball-changeup combo, not really his trademark no-dot slider. If there was a time to work on your secondary pitches, it’s during Spring Training. Bruce Bochy has said that Romo’s command has been a little off, which there are worse things to worry about in March, so I consider this a non-story. In the end, if hitters know to expect your inferior stuff, what do you imagine is going to go down?
  • Speaking of going down, Michael Morse has a .167 batting average in his twelve Spring Training at bats, but surely you remember that he got robbed on two shots and apparently recently he was also stolen of a hit on a liner to right field. What you should be worried about Morse is his durability, not his bat. Word from Saturday was Morse was day-to-day, and the word on Sunday is Morse feels no more tightness in his calf.
  • The legend of Mark Minicozzi, and I really recommend the Andrew Baggarly article on him. The journey that Minicozzi’s put together to chase the dream of being on the 25-man roster sounds like it could be made into a B-list movie if he were able to get promoted to AT&T if four of Marco Scutaro, Tony Abreu, Ahire Adriana, Joaquin Arias, or Joe Panik get injured. His fifteen at bats, two homers and .400 batting average are fun to dream on, but the reality in Minicozzi is he’s likely pretty far down the depth chart. Baggs notes he’s likely to start in Fresno.
  • Madison Bumgarner, Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum, and Matt Cain have a 0.00 ERA in a combined seven starts. If the Giants do really well in 2014, people may have their readers recall the Spring these guys were having. That’s all I got for that one.

More bullets to be added in later posts as the Spring progresses. Until then, let’s get ready for those two games today.


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