Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fare Thee Well.

It’s been an interesting, but short run for me on this sports blog.
Thanks to the many, many who have come by for a visit (or twenty).

Sadly, I’ve 'lived' in inhumane circumstances for much too long.  And it will be ending later today.

It started with some schmuck who decided to try to steal my camera when I was working down at Justin Herman Plaza at the Embarcadero on a sunny noon-time in January 2008.  Long story short, I chased him down.  Got my camera back.  But severely dislocated my shoulder in the process.

Without medical insurance, I incurred over $30,000 of medical bills and debt.  I had no idea the SFPD would charge $3,600 to show up at the scene even though not one of the fire ladder company ever got close enough for me to read their name badge.  It took over two hours for the EMT to deliver me to a hospital to have my shoulder re-set in the third hour.

Instead of the SF Victims of Violent Crimes Compensation Fund helping me with my medical expenses (as they are set up to do), they involuntarily committed me to the psych ward of Cal-Pacific Medical Center for a week.  A large part of my medical debt, to be sure.  All for saying how much this "f***'ed up my life."

The SFVVCCP later denied furnishing me with any compensation for my assault (they are set up to fund up to $70,000 in medical and living expenses for just such an incident).  After losing all my work and clients as a pro photographer for nearly 4 months while trying to recover, I was losing everything to debt while without income.

To skip forward a long ways, my 'family' was ‘supposedly worried about me after we hadn’t communicated for nearly three years.  They decided to drill the locks on my apartment, and they had SFPD put me in handcuffs when I came in, took my dog, and brought a clinical psychologist; who in 4 seconds determined to re-commit me involuntarily to the psych ward at SF General Hospital.  That was the early January this 2011.

When I got out 10 days later?  I was wearing no jacket, no socks, had no wallet, no ID, no credit cards, and not even my apartment or car keys.  I was in just some throw-together clothes I was out to walk my dog for just a few minutes.  I learned I had been evicted, and lost everything I owned.  Everything.  Including $7,200 I had saved up in cash to keep paying my expenses.

I spent three full months sleeping on the street.  Homeless and penniless.  After 6 weeks, I finally found a sleeping bag.  Eventually, I had enough blankets, clothing and jackets to stay warm.  In mid-February, my ‘family’ decided to ‘help’ by putting me up in a $140/week sleeze ‘hotel’ in Chinatown.  They said their intent was to help me get back on track.

After the one week, I was broke again, having been given only enough for the one week's rent.  I spent my 40th birthday returing my room key and going back to being homeless, for the second time.

In April, my 'family' helped spend enough to get me an SRO room for rent.  I still had only two changes of clothes and no personal possessions from my previous life, after three months sleeping on the streets.  But I did get my dog back from the animal shelter.  Apparently, my 'family' charged me all of my $7,200 cash for that privilege.

Along with a $1 belt, one of the only things I bought was a small, very cheap $4 transistor radio to allow me to listen to the Giants games.  I had no possessions.  No work.  No friends.  My 'family' had taken away my life and stolen from me everything I owned.  My dog was sick and not able to ever be left unattended.  So, I took a little solace in listening to the Giants games and radio broadcasts to help while the slow days would go by me without further hope.

My 'family' somehow ‘supposedly’ retained possession of many of my things, but I have yet to see this.  Still, to this day I am without much of my $10,000 in photo equipment, some was returned damaged and destroyed, and my desktop computer was ‘given back’ to me in non-working condition.  I lost my car.  I lost my clothes, my work, my portfolios and samples from when I worked as a fashion designer for such companies as Tommy Hilfiger, Abercrombie, Triple Five Soul, and Avirex- almost all I ever owned.

They were giving me a couple hundred dollars to live on each month.  That stopped in July, after four months, when I refused a cell phone they bought for me and wanted to 'give' to me, but charge me $100 per month out of my $200 of cash per month.  The last time I had spending money for things like toilet paper, soap, dog food, and toothpaste was early in July.

I have been served with an ‘3-day to pay or quit’ eviction notice on Tuesday, October 4th.
No doubt, sometime later today, I will have police at my door.  Maybe I will be home.  Maybe the surveillance cameras will cue the management when I leave to walk my dog, and they will hurriedly take possession while I am already out.

The fact is, I have hardly even had 10-cents to my name for a couple weeks now.  Without any of the tools or possessions I would need to attempt to get my life back together, I am at the mercy of my 'family's' decisions.  And they have chosen to not give me any more money as of July, 2011.

I’ll be damned if I would ever go back to living homeless and on the streets.

I believe sports can teach each of us to enjoy the simpler things.  To persevere.  But this situation is something of a magnitude much larger than me.  I have enjoyed whittling away my lost time and occupying my mind with notions of what I would hope the Giants 2012 roster may be like.  Call it stupid or fantastical if you will.  But do not judge for me the limited ways I can spend my time.

I wish for the Giants to do well, and make all of San Francisco proud again.

It is not many people who know the time and the day that their time will come.

Apparently, I am one who does.

I will spend the rest of my time nurturing my dog, Kira, whom I love dearly and will be tremendously sad to be separated from.  She has brought me much joy when I have so little.


Image credits:  all photos are my own original photographs.

Giants vs. Yankees

One quick last post for me.

What if we really, truly could get McCutchen and Reyes?
How would this 2012 Giants to compare to the potential 2012 Yankees, for example?

I took two stats:

OPS+ and WAR for batters.
ERA+ and WAR for pitchers.

It gets just a little wonky comparing and extra pitcher and only 8 hitters in the line-up for an NL Giants team and one less bullpen pitcher and a DH for an AL Yankees team.

I did 'fudge' a little with Posey's, Huff's, Belt's, and Hembree's stats.  I projected a low-ish estimate for how well they might perform on this 2012 team.  Everyone else, I used 2011 stats for on the entire chart.

Take care to all.  Be well.


Friday, October 7, 2011

re: Jimmy Rollins

I'm shocked at how many Giants fans seem to think our 'answer' would be something like Jimmy Rollins and Coco Crisp for the 2012 Giants roster.  They are not a good solution in my opinion.

I feel pretty strongly that Rollins will command close to $12 million per year for 5 years.  If he's a lot cheaper than that, it is only signing with the Phillies.  Again, I will explain he has a marketable identity there; which is good (financially) for both himself and for the team.

I've not seen anybody put together info in this way.  So, I spent some time to create a data sheet.  I feel it is that large of a factor when anybody wants to consider Jimmy Rollins.  He's got the same agent as Albert Pujols, and if *somehow* he sees this, I doubt I'd become personal friends or receive holiday greeting cards from him thereafter.  J-Roll and Lozano ain't gonna like this.  It could cost Rollins MILLIONS in his contract year.

Yes, I am serious.  And no, I do not believe I am full of myself.

Please check the datasheet, and see if you can find a flaw in my judgements.

Rollins will start his 2012 season as a 33 year-old shortstop.  I don't think anybody can accurately 'anticipate' whether he will lose two steps in range before he turns 37 or whether his arm strength will diminish for plays in the hole.  After all, 37 isn't THAT old.  By forty, I think it hard to argue his range will decrease at least a little.  But I'm not here to try to foretell the future, whether he will be decimated by bad knees, or whether his range lessens.

I'm interested in his eyesight.  Many pro baseball players have at least 20/20 vision.  More than a few have 20/15 vision.  It can seriously be the difference between a young prospect that can swing the bat, compared to one that can consistently hit at the major league level.  I realize this is not so for every MLB player.  I am simply stating there are more MLB players with better vision than the 'average percentage' would be across other demographic groups.  Agree so far?

If you talk with any optometrist and/or opthamologist, they are likely to explain how our eyes 'age', the lens and cornea 'harden' and particulates over many years, and millions of 'blinks' can affect the delicate balance of systems and processes that control our vision.

Things like glare can increase from bright light sources- especially in the harsh contrast of dark nighttime environments, or while driving.  Minute details may become slightly affected.  It can start in a person's 20's or 30's, but certainly but one's 40's; it is not uncommon for one's eyesight to diminish at least slightly.  It maybe in many different ways, like peripheral vision or visual acuity (sharpness), or near-sightedness.  Or color vibrancy.  Whatever.

Check my datasheet:

Since 2007, Rollins average has increasingly more differentiated splits based on batting right-handed and left-handed.

Since 2007, Rollins average has increasingly more differentiated splits based on daytime games and nighttime games.

I believe he is becoming 'less valuable' as a switch-hitter.  And I would be very concerned about his batting splits for night games.

That's it.  And it is plenty.  More than enough for me to say 'no thanks' on the homecoming of Jimmy Rollins to the Bay Area. Especially not at $60M-ish over 5-years.

Perhaps some of you think this is only coincidence?  Or that there is no credence of anything 'wrong' with him.  Or my reasoning is somehow flawed.  I am not disputing his vision is failing.  It may not be.  It could be many things.  Perhaps.  I am simply trying to find a reasonable explanation for the stats I can clearly recognize.  And, at the end of the day; the only thing that matters is the performance- or what are deemed 'results.'

It seems Rollins' performance is diminishing when considered under these factors.

Now tell me.
Would Dan Lozano have cause to worry if team GM's see this datasheet before dealing with him?

No, I haven't made a similar datasheet for Erick Aybar (who?).  Or Jose Reyes (YES!).  Aybar's is pretty familiar territory for most switch-hitters IMO.  And I've already explained how remarkably well-balanced Reyes' splits are.  Those are about the only notable things you need to know.  Or feel free to check them out for yourself on B-R.


edit:  my apologies.  The "2011" splits on my datasheet are his "career" splits.  It was somewhat time consuming to put the sheet together.  No I will not be editing it.  You can check his 2011 splits here:

Image credit:  Jimmy Rollins from teamtobeat.wordpress.

Reyes & McCutchen @ $140 Million

Wow, life is just full of surprises.

Looking at my worksheets, I decided to play a bit more with the idea of signing Reyes.  I haven't been sold on Reyes being worth the salary draw I expect him to receive.  But...  Like I said.
Life is full of surprises.

I'm thinking of maybe giving him an average WAR of 3.8 for each of his 6 years, that's a 22.8 WAR.  At the standard projected value most people use of $5M per WAR, I get $114M.  Sure, he can be over 5.0 WAR, but c'mon, it's a salary year.  And he's also fluctuated a bit.  I'm erring on the low side to see how it equates.

And Reyes could actually be a good value proposition.

Then, I started to look at some splits.  He's very well-balanced as a switch-hitter.  And tends to hit slightly better against RHP.  That's a good thing, since well over 65% of starting pitchers are right-handed.  Maybe he's moving towards a 'very good' value proposition.

Next, I started to look at how I'd configure lineups, specific for vs. RHP and vs. LHP.  All of a sudden, it really, really hit me.

Jose Reyes has an incredible value proposition for the Giants.

No joke folks.  Maybe more so for the Gigantes than most other teams.  Me, the one that was never sold on Reyes.  Who didn't understand why people would jump for a 'guy' wanting a windfall after a hot year.  Who plays 120+ games per season, but isn't always healthy.

I've changed my tune.


Aybar who?  lol.

But for the $100+ million investment, I'd be sure to build Reyes a sauna and jacuzzi in his pad.  He needs good circulation in his capillaries and nice elasticity in those hammys.

Here's the important factor that sells me on Reyes.  He is incredibly valuable for moving up and down the lineup for match-ups.  He can lead-off or be a stud 2-hitter.  And once you open that door, you can really have a lot of latitude to create a nice lineup accordingly.  Use him for his average at lead-off.  Take advantage of his gap power, speed, and OBP in the 2-spot.

What's the big deal?  You can do that with any other players too.  Yes, you always can.  But it doesn't always work so successfullyWe have two top-tier switch hitters in Sandoval and Reyes.  And that makes all the difference in the world.  It's different compared to Sandoval plus Beltran, where it's just a question of who hits third and who hits clean-up.  Reyes secures a different 'type' of position in the order.  And then, there is Posey who is incredibly consistent at hitting both RHP and LHP, so he offers even greater flexibility.

I still want to trade for McCutchen.  Sell the pink slip to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.  Give the Pirates a luxury suite for our home games...  Oh waitasec.  Never mind that one.  lol.  Just get McCutchen in a Giants uni.

Well, for $140 million we don't get Wandy Rodriguez, but we get a filthy offense.  With this offense, I'd take my chances with any of our pitchers...  And that is a good thing.  And this is $140M for each year from 2012 through 2015.  But if the Giants front office and investors group want to spend the extra $17.5M over the two years of 2012 and 2013, put Wandy Rodriguez back into the 5th starter spot.  Sell the Astros on how they can save $15.5M over two years off Wandy's $23M/2-year contract by spending only $7.5M on Zito for two years.  Then we are just under $150M for 2012 and 2013.  That just might push this team over 100-wins per season IMHO.

I'm sure most of you follow here (web stats people, web tracking stats)...  So you've read my previous posts.  Where I've already explained the trade scenario I'd look for to land Andrew McCutchen as a Giant.  We sign Reyes and will lose a top draft pick.  That's okay in the scheme of things.

 Reyes & McCutchen $140M payroll worksheet:

As a Giants fan who followed through the 2011 season, you might not like to see I put Aubrey Huff 5th in the lineup on the worksheet.  Partly this isn't my thinking, it is what Bochy has shown and I'm just using my expectation there.  And check my next worksheet below on pitching splits for the actual lineups I'd send out anyways.

I have a feeling these lineups will surprise some.  Freddy not batting 2nd?  What?  Actually, Freddy's against RHP aren't nearly as good.  This is what makes Reyes so valuable actually.  I see the opportunity for A LOT of major rallies.  I'm talking 3-run or 4-run innings people.  A lot.  Did I already say that?  Yeah, well shove some more on.

Seriously?  You ask.  Posey in the two-spot?  Yeah, I would.  He's a .300 avg even against RHP and gets on base well against anybody.  His stats would likely go up even higher with Pablo hitting BEHIND him. He should see some better pitches.  And he will hit his fair share of home runs too.  I think 20+ easily each season.  I'm not saying that just because I'm a 'fan', I'm saying it because he has a sweet, flat, repeatable swing that goes for some power too.

I didn't know which way to layout the splits.  I used columns.  Maybe it's a tad confusing for some to not read the splits 'across' rows for the same year.  Oh well.  I'm pretty sure you'll get over it.

Projected Lineup Splits vs. RHP and vs. LHP:

What I love so much about the versatility here is that we'd have a bunch of hitters with a great OBP.  If you start to look at RHP vs RHB and all the other split scenarios...  It works.  And I think Reyes is the key that unlocks this.  Much better than Aybar (who?).  Having a hitter like McCutchen batting 6th and Sanchez 7th against righties is just fantastic too.

McCutchen adds a lot of flexibility too, just like Reyes.  He could be lead-off or a two-hitter against lefties.  He could be a wicked 6-hitter or 7-hitter against righties.  I just don't see Melky Cabrera, Adam Jones, Nick Swisher, or Michael Cuddyer being all that.  And let's say Freddy gets injured.  Or someone else.  We got depth.

Putting McCutchen at #3 ahead of Sandoval might not seem like a prudent thing to do versus lefties.  You're right, and it might not be.  But I figure if McCutchen hits so well against RHP and gets on base at such a good rate, you have more run-scoring opportunities for Sandoval.  And maybe he can be more patient, while Andrew is out there trying to find an opportunity to steal a bag.  It just might work.

It is hard to explain all my thoughts without using 75,000 words.  Goodness knows I've tried.  lol.  Basically, I see a lot of sustained rallies.  A lot of base runners.  Plus some nice speed.  Or, some nice 'plus' speed.  That equates to XBH's at home and AT&T Park South (Petco).  And stolen bases to set up RISP and stay out of double plays.  I can imagine some really crazy scores at Coors Field.  Can you see what I'm seeing?  Can you see what I'm saying?

I love the way guys can be 'slotted' into positions here to add protection to other batters adjoining them in the order.  Huff may be getting better pitches because Sanchez gets on base at nearly a .350 clip behind him. How about Sanchez getting on base a lot with great situational hitting, too; and Nate having a chance to hit one out to follow that up.  Does Huff 'protect' Sandoval?  If he gets on pace to hit 25 HR's he does, otherwise move him down.  Hell, put Eldred in then, and sit Huff.  We got depth.

I ain't gonna cut 'n paste all the batter splits.  But go check 'em out yourself on

There ya go, that is the link for Jose Reyes' career splits.  If you haven't ever used the splits tool...  Well, BR has the best toolkits that aren't made by Black & Decker.  Just click the "Splits [+]" box/link under the red "Standard Batting" and "More Stats" boxes.

$140 million per year, for each year from 2012 thru 2015...  wow.

We gotta find a team willing to pay $7.5M total for Zito's two years.
I used $106M/6-years for Reyes' contract:
20, 24, 16.5, 15, 15, 15.5.
I think it worth going up to $114M/6-years:
22, 25, 18.5, 17, 16, 15.5
which makes payroll $142M for each of the first four years.

Oh, have you asked yourself what I did with Brian Wilson, since he isn't traded for Aybar (who? lol)?  Let's look at our needs.  We'll need some pitchers, which is what we're great at developing.  But we'll need a few bullpen arms fairly soon-ish, especially to replace Affeldt and Lopez in a few years.  Maybe a stud 2B or RF prospect, since Nate is at arb-1 already in 2012, not that I'd want him gone though.

Damn, I wish we had enough 'valuable' prospects we didn't intend for the 40-man anytime soon to package with Brian Wilson to get Jeremy Hellickson.  Toss Tampa 3 or 4 prospects and Wilson, will the Rays bite?  That would be a major miracle.  Add Surkamp.  I wouldn't give up Adam Duvall though... What about a great prospect like switch-hitting Cavan, who I really, really like.
Brian Wilson
Eric Surkamp
Ryan Cavan
Charles Jones

Not a bad start.  Just a thought anyways.

Maybe we can still make a deal with the Halos.  They still need a closer, and I've written a lot about how Brian Wilson fits so perfectly for their situation.  Remember, we got trade leverage against Anaheim.  Find a way to grab any one of these three RHP prospects and I'd be a very happy camper: Garrett Richards, Steve Geltz, or Daniel Tillman.

Yeah, Wilson should be a pretty good trade piece, with a nice return.

I look through these lineups, and can't find a single bat I'd really want to replace.  I know I'm counting on Gary Brown and Joe Panik, but those are based on the accounts of those in the know, and are also insiders from the Giants organization.  I can't imagine if Panik turns out to be a great #2 hitter also.  We'd be stacked like the Yankees... With more speed, a better defensive outfield, a better rotation, better bench, and better bullpen.

All those who have wished for more 'small ball'?  You'd have plenty more of it, but still with140-150 home runs sprinkled in.  Y'all okay with that?

The 2013 to 2015 roster could be the highest scoring NL team in MLB.  Forget about me wanting 4.44 runs scored per game, that's 720 RS in a season.  This team might just push towards 780 RS, just maybe.  I am absolutely serious.  Not that they would have the most home runs.  Nah.  But top-5 in XBH's.  Top-5 in steals.  And lots of multiple-runs scored innings.  Heaps.  Did I mention this already.  Yeah.  Okay.

At some point we know we have decisions to make.  How long do we platoon Belt and Pill at first base before one player earns the spot outright?  What if Susac comes up quick and we want Posey at first base?  Believe me, those would be good tough decisions to make.  It would mean our offense is working.

Oh yeah.

Two rings in five years.  That's what we should be shooting for.
We got a perfect five-year window.  Remember?

Two rings.

Five years.

(that would make 3 rings in seven, does that equal a dynasty?).

We're bound to spend at least $130 million to field 'a team' anyways for 2012.  Might as well make it this team at one-forty flat.


Image credits:  Jose Reyes from  fantasyknuckleheads. Andrew McCutchen from crabcakesports.  Freddy Sanchez is my own original photograph, All Rights Reserved.  Pablo Sandoval is my own original photograph, All Rights Reserved.  Jeremy Hellickson from CFnews13.

Maybe Jose Reyes?

Sorry all, I thought I was done with roster projections.  Then I realized I had forgotten to post my Jose Reyes solution.  For all intents, it is the same as my previous McCutchen worksheet, but swapped Reyes for McCutchen and Melky Cabrera for Aybar.

And no more Wandy Rodriguez.  We'd have to make do with RHP Justin Fitzgerald (my preference) or LHP Eric Surkamp.  I still put a cash offset for Zito, in hopes some team would pay $7.5 total for two-years of his service.

I worked on a front-loaded contract for Reyes to make the total payroll $142M for both 2012 and 2013.  And I got $137M for both 2014 and 2015.  I wouldn't go over $18M for Reyes, I just think the value-scale drops way too fast there.

I used $105M/6-years: 18.2, 23.8, 19.5, 16, 14, 13.5.  That is an average of $17.5M per year.

That's about the max I'd want the Giants to spend on him.  And who knows?  Maybe teams are scared off by his hamstrings.  That is still a large contract, and he's having a career year in a contract year.

One thing I am certain of, it is easier to 'acquire' Reyes, he's a free agent.  But then, he's said he doesn't want to play in SF.  Who knows if he's suckering us for a bigger paycheck.  I'd still prefer we get Aybar, McCutchen, Ramon Hernandez, and Wandy Rodriguez.  That's my final answer.

My 2012 Jose Reyes & Melky Cabrera worksheet:

I think the 2014 year is the one I'd be excited for.  Anytime after Gary Brown takes the lead-off spot.  Reyes can help drive in more runs, and sustain more rallies for our 3-4-5-6 hitters, who would be seasoned veterans by then!

I also think we'll have a couple nice starters by then.  Not sure who, but they are in our system now, maybe Verdugo and Crick.  Maybe Fitzgerald and Sanford?  Could be Heston and Gloor.  Marte and Black?  Who knows.

I'm a fan of Melky, and think he'd do well here.  I'm not so sure about Reyes.  Not sure his vibe and attitude are 'right' for the Giants and for the city of SF itself.  Plus, we don't need to sign him to NOT play, if he's injured a bunch.  We've been there, done that.  Even got the t-shirts to prove it.

I just can't say enough about how much I think Andrew McCutchen would fit perfectly with the team's needs, his play, his ceiling, his vibe and attitude...  I think fans would love him here.  And he'd excite the clubhouse.  McCutchen and Aybar here?  Dang.  They'd prolly be throwing after-game parties in the dugout for ticket holders.

Romo could be wearing a surgical mask, gloves, and be giving tattoos.
Lincecum could be spinning on the one's and two's rockin' some sick AKG headphones.
Pill, Mota and Bumgarner could be the bouncers.
Murph could do all the party tricks.
Wotus would be doin' the robot.
Sandoval would prolly be on the infield grass doin' ballbreaker flairs and headspins.
Huff would be having a Zoolander "walk-off" with some hot mama-san or four from the bleachers.
Burrell would somehow find his way there to judge.

Rowand would probably be that guy, the one still hanging around; sitting in the bleachers,
while they turn off the lights in the park after the party is over.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Baseball is a Sick, Small World.

Any of y’all who have been following my rants here know I’m hoping we get Angels shortstop, Erick Aybar, here to be our future shortstop for the Giants.  In no way am I trying to throw Brandon Crawford under the bus, it is just a simple fact he isn’t ready, and we need a better overall shortstop.  Unless we acquire THREE serious bats, then I’d be more than happy to see Crawford’s defense cover the infield and win two or three Gold Gloves here in SF.

But my topic today is the Giants shortstop evolution.  What’s the term I am looking for?  Nepotism?  Or maybe incest?  Whatever, it is just a bit too weird for words.

But you know I’ll try to explain anyways.

Last off-season, the SF Giants signed Miguel Tejada for one year and $6.5 million to play shortstop at 37 years old.  Well, he got caught for lying about his age originally.  And he didn’t exactly tell the truth at Palmeiro’s trial…  But I digress…  Yeah, okay…  That didn’t work out so good.  Gee, who saw that one coming?  Ha ha.

Later on, we acquired Bill Hall from the Astros.  Well, we signed him after he was released by the losingest team in baseball.  Story was he was at home playing video games with his cuz or something when the call came in he’d be on the roster for the reigning World Champs.  Yeah, okay…  That didn’t work out so good.  Gee, who saw that one coming?  Ha ha.

Then we went back and shopped the Astros roster AGAIN, for Jeff Keppinger.  We gave up two pitchers: Henry Sosa and Jason Stoffel for Kepp’s services as a utility guy.  Basically a career .300-ish hitter, who almost never walks and almost never strikes out.  That worked out alright, I s’pose. Gee, who saw that one coming?  Ha ha.

Then we went and got Orlando Cabrera as our final move at the trade deadline for the 2011 season.  Ooops, there goes one of our top outfield prospects in Thomas Neal for a two-month rental on a 36-year old shortstop to supposedly take us to the playoffs.  Yeah, okay…  That didn’t work out so good.  Gee, who saw that one coming?  Ha ha.

Now, we go into the off-season still looking for a shorty, unless the Giants top brass feel Crawford is a lock for the job.  This is where Erick Aybar could join the storyline.

Really?  So, where’s the story?

Let’s start over again, with the Houston Astros second base position.  On 8/25/2010, the Astros claimed Giants 2B and infield prospect Matt Downs off waivers, after he was DFA’d.  This will always have a bitter sting to me, personally.  I saw Downs play for our G-Men and always thought he had one of the highest “baseball I.Q.’s” I’d seen in a long, long time.  From his positioning, to his heads-up base running, to a good eye at the plate.  More about Matt Downs here.

I’m not sure, but I think he never committed an error as a SF Giant.  He just didn’t hit well enough in his few-and-far-between chances.  In 2009, I said to a friend, “one day Downs will be a big league manager, whether he has a long big league career or a short one as a player.”  Yes, I still truly believe this.

I was bummed.  Mostly by the fact we got NOTHING in return for him.  Not a trade, not a draft pick.  Nada.  Niente.  Zip.  Don’t even get me started on Clayton Tanner this 2011 season, same dealio.  Bummer.

Well, Downs quickly rose to become the starting second baseman for the Astros in 2011.  He basically pushed Bill Hall out of that job.  Oh, ouch.  Yeah, okay…  That didn’t work out so good.  Gee, who saw that one coming?  Ha ha.

First we picked up the 100+ losing Astro’s cast-off in utility guy Bill Hall.

Jeff Keppinger was also on the Astros.  Downs hit something like 6 HR’s in 80 AB’s I think.  Downs basically kicked Kepp out of the 2B job too.

Next we picked up Jeff Keppinger.

Here is one of the sickest things.  Hall came over.  Then lost his job to Keppinger AGAIN.  Bill Hall got a Giants curse, big time.  Don’t know if dude will ever play pro ball again.  Got kicked by Downs, then Kepp.  Then traded.  And kicked by Kepp again.  Oh shizzle.  Don’t mention the Giants around Bill Hall and his family, it’s a very bad six-letter word for him.

You think that ends the story?  Nah.  Far from it.

We go out and get Orlando Cabrera from the Cleveland Indians.

Guess where O Cab played before Cleveland?  Yeah, the O.C. in O.C.  He was in Anaheim.

Damn shizzle, fer rizzle?  Yeah, fer sheezy, Parcheesi.  Uh-huh.  O.C. As he is known (and highly regarded for his younger days down in Orange County), helped groom Erick Aybar as the future Angels shortstop.  Hell, O.C. drives a black Hummer.  Aybar drives a red Hummer.  Am I serious?  Yeah, I am.

Think the story ends there?  Uh, no.

Well, Miguel Tejada is from the Dominican Republic.  He’s played in the Dominican Winter League almost every off-season.  There, he worked closely with fellow Dominican…  A young Erick Aybar.

I tell you it is a story of nepotism fit for the boardroom of a not-for-profit organization, or a story of incest perfect for a made-for-tv movie.  Or maybe a daytime soap opera (are they called ‘daytime dramas’ now?  I dunno).

Anyone remember that play when the Angels played the Gigantes in an exhibition game on a warm, sunny early spring day in 2011, in Tempe, Arizona?  Young, speedy, and talented Angels CF prospect Peter Bourjos bunted for a hit in the bottom of the fourth inning.  Aybar came up and had a bloop double to RF.

Tejada got the relay throw, and got caught totally off guard that Bourjos was rounding third (from FIRST BASE).  Tejada attempted to make a hurried throw to the plate, and it looked like he almost threw the ball at his own foot.  It was ridiculous.  Embarrassing for a former Gold Glover.  And should’ve been a premonition of what was to come of the Giants’ shortstop position for 2011.

There you go.  Now, the Giants just need to complete the circle.

We released Downs.  We got Hall.  We got Kepp.  We got Tejada.  We got Cabrera.  Now, we gotta get Aybar.  It just fits, in a sick-and-twisted way that would make Ren and Stimpy proud.  It's just the right thing to do.

Another side note...  Oh yeah, now?  Downs is playing 2B sometimes, 1B some, and even DH'ed at times.  If only we kept Downs, maybe we’d still have Henry Sosa, Jason Stoffel, Thomas Neal, and would’ve made the playoffs without having seen Hall, Kepp, and O Cab in a Giants uni.  *sigh*.

Oh yeah, 'nother lil’ side note to this too.  Keppinger came over to the Giants in 2011.  Beltran did too.  Although these were separate trade deals, an interesting note here.  Did you know Kepp has a history that relates to Beltran?  Yeah, the Pirates traded Keppinger and Kris Benson to the Mets for Matt Peterson, Jose Bautista, and Ty Wiggington at the 2004 trade deadline (July 30).  Well, a month earlier (June 24, 2004), Beltran was part of a 3-team trade that sent him to the Astros.

Wait, Kepp and Beltran were teammates in Houston for a quick minute?  Yeah, I think so.

So, Kepp was later sent to Kansas City from the Mets, whereas Beltran was earlier sent from KC to the Mets.  And you could say that the Mets replaced their traded Jose Bautista (part of Kepp’s trade), with Carlos Beltran.  Weird.  Weird.

I'm not sure if I wrote that all up in a way that makes any sense.  Don't worry.  There's no sense to be made from it all anyways.

I got a feeling the Mets might like a ‘re-do’ on that Jose Bautista and Ty Wigginton trade deal.  What do you think?


If I REALLY stretch this story, maybe Sabean wouldn’t have felt so desperate to go after Beltran, and we’d still have Wheeler too.  Or maybe if we’d had anything near Downs offensive production, the Giants would’ve spent their energy and prospects to trade for Ramon Hernandez as an improvement for our catching needs.  Yeah, maybe.

It’s a story that also ties in to Nate Schierholtz in my mind.  Two players both got in as part of lackluster platoons for limited AB’s over a couple years (Matt & Nate).  One had a chance to stay (Schierholtz).  The other was released (Downs).  Both proved they could play, and earned starting roles.

Hey, maybe Sabean and Bochy can LEARN that not all prospects should STAY prospects forever.  And you don’t have to be over 36 years old to help a team make the playoffs.  Here’s to hoping anyways.

Remember the week that The Panda ran wild in Colorado?  A cycle.  Two doubles, two homers.  All that jazz?  Well, Sandoval was the NL Player of the Week.  Yeah, Giants fans know this.

Who was the AL Player of THAT SAME WEEK?

Actually, Aybar was AL Co-Player of the Week; with none other than Justin Verlander.

Where else can you get a story like this one?  Ha ha.

Baseball is a sick, sick, small, small world.  lol.

To those who think I'm obsessed with Aybar or something.  It's not that.  He's the best available, and very, very good at his position.  No other player fits as well, IMO.  I would ask you to read:

Now go get Erick Aybar.


Image credit:  Matt Downs from

Ideal SF Giants 2012 Lineup?

I realize many visitors have been returning frequently, and following my writings.  I thank you for your interest and attention.  I can only hope that some of my thoughts may inform or spur further ideas.

I’ve now gone through many, many scenarios for what the SF Giants can do for 2012:  Albert Pujols.  Matt Kemp.  Jose Reyes.  Erick Aybar.  Nick Markakis.  Adam Jones.  Andrew McCutchen.  Jeff Francoeur.  Melky Cabrera.  Clint Barmes.  Michael Cuddyer.  Carlos Quentin.  Asdrubal Cabrera.  Jhonny Peralta.  Nick Swisher.  Josh Willingham.  David DeJesus.  Coco Crisp.  Jimmy Rollins...

Zito for Wells.  Zito for Figgins.  Zito for Peavy.  Zito for Dunn.  Zito for Lackey...  Zito for garlic fries and a beer.  Zito for President...

So many trade/acquisition alternatives.

I’m starting to narrow it down in my head.
Personally, I think Andrew McCutchen fits best for an outfielder.

The list gets too long to run through all the reasons.  But Kemp isn’t likely to be traded intra-division, especially to us.  Adam Jones is less disciplined at the plate.  Markakis can’t play CF for 2012.  Quentin, Willingham, and others simply don’t offer enough performance, consistency, and stability IMO.  While Cuddyer will certainly be a good acquisition for some team, his demand this off-season is simply too high compared to his ‘actual’ value IMO.

I’m pretty much left with one of my original choices, Melky Cabrera.  Who would be simpler to acquire, and work excellently for the Giants’ plans.  Another original consideration, Nick Swisher, would also be quite good, but he strikes out quite a bit, and the circumstances of him being available are a bit less likely (I think ONLY if NYY sign Beltran).  Both are Cabrera and Swisher are switch-hitters, I think Melky could have a bit more speed than Swish.  Both have reasonable arms from the field, but aren’t exactly Francoeur or Ankiel- or Nate.

When I really consider this, it becomes easy.  No, not just for the fact McCutchen is a bit cheaper or younger, though both factors certainly contribute to his overall value.  I think he has the highest ceiling- well above Adam Jones.  I think Melky might be very close to his own ceiling, though I believe he can maintain his performance for many years.  Swisher, I think it worth considering how much his teammates make him better, surrounded by prolific hitters up and down the lineup.

So, young, team-controlled, and highest ceiling...  But that isn’t really the clincher.  I’ve seen how McCutchen interacts with his teammates, how hard he plays.  His ‘vibe’.  And I can’t help but think his personality slots perfectly somewhere between Sergio Romo and Tim Lincecum.  A little ‘off-ish’ in the best way possible.  A cool vibe.  But his business is real, and he gets fired up the way I could see other Giants really digging.

Yeah, Andrew would fit the clubhouse.  Hell, he would MAKE that clubhouse.  And that is an absolute clincher for me.

I don’t care if we have to trade Jonathan Sanchez, Ramon Ramirez, Max Ramirez, Ehire Adrianza, and a center field prospect for him.  We might even need to add another valuable prospect like Chris Dominguez.  McCutchen would be worth it.  I’d trade nearly as much as I would for Matt Kemp.  Not quite, but fairly close.


Then I run through a pieced together lineup...

First concern has to be payroll budget.  I got to what I figure would be $139M. The depth of this team is much more extensive than my past $135M roster projections.  The Giants would have 5 incredible starters in the rotation.  Ramon Hernandez on the bench for catching duties.  Andrew McCutchen hitting lead-off or in the 2-hole.  This roster offers -by far- the most flexibility and fluidity, while still having significant offensive upgrades and key Giants players included.

I realize McCutchen probably has the most value at the very top of the order, batting lead-off or second.  I tried filling the SS position with Crawford, it works at $131M on my sheet.  But we got that lefty 5-6-7-8 thing I’m so not in love with.  Not just the LHB’s (left-handed bats), but who they are: Huff, Belt, Schierholtz, Crawford.  It’s just too weak for an NL team with a pitcher hitting 9th.  The top of the order is RHB heavy (McCutchen, F. Sanchez, Posey), while the bottom is LHB dominant.

Gee, go figure…

I’ve got the perfect solution…

…  wait for it

Erick Aybar.
Ha ha ha.  Tell me you dint see that comin’?

And talking about clubhouse presence.  I get a sense Aybar would quickly become a fave.  He's got that "Uribe up" thing going.  But in an even more fun way, and way more fervor.  I dunno if he's a prankster in the clubhouse, but I could see it...  Him even topping Huffs' antics.

2012 Giant starting lineup:
  1. CF  R  Andrew McCutchen
  2. 2B  R  F. Sancez
  3. 3B  S  Sandoval
  4. C    R  Posey
  5. LF  L  Huff
  6. 1B  L/R  Belt/Pill platoon
  7. SS  S  Erick Aybar
  8. LF  L  Schierholtz
RHP  Lincecum
RHP  Cain
LHP  Bumgarner
RHP  Vogelsong
LHP  Wandy Rodriguez

OF  R  Francisco Peguero
UT  R  Brad Eldred
IF/UT  R  Edgar Gonzalez
1B/other  Huff/Belt/Pill (tri-toon)
C     R  Ramon Hernandez

Aybar has hit all over the lineup, from top to bottom for Anaheim.  I think Aybar would fit well at the #7 spot, adding some speedy base running and pop toward the bottom of the lineup.  If somehow McCutchen doesn’t fit the Giants’ lead-off, Aybar is right there and ready to move up.  If Freddy goes down, Aybar could hit in the 2-hole.  If Brown isn’t quite ready for lead-off in 2012 and/or Panik doesn’t fit the 2-spot, McCutchen or Aybar can have to #1 and #2 locked up tight as needed.

But my guess is trying to get Brown ‘acclimated’ to MLB pitching while batting in the easiest spot, the 2-hole.  After a bit of seasoning, release the reigns and swap McCutchen & Brown in the one and two spots. That would be perfect, and we’d be a serious threat at the top of our order.

So, Aybar is a nice switch-hitter in the bottom of the order.  Whether Pill or Belt is in there, it won’t be unbalanced or left-handed batter heavy.  I could see Abar’s speed being worth at least 15 runs scored over the course of the season if he bats 7th- ahead of Nate.  Maybe he can score from second on a line drive, and not leave it up to the pitcher to drive him home.  Maybe a sac bunt from the pitcher helps him stay out of a double play if the lineup turns over- and sustains a few key rallies.

Yeah, and Nate has enough of a threat to hit one out, that pitchers would have to consider whether they pitch around him a bit.  One of the most curious decisions in all of NL baseball to me…  Does a pitcher want to face a pitcher to get an ‘easier’ third out in an inning?  Or decide to try to get the 8-hitter out so the pitcher starts off the next inning and lessens the overall scoring chance from the top of the order?  Yeah, Nate is a really solid (and perfect) #8 hitter.  And Erick would be perfect at #7.

What to do with Zito?
Well, I’ve really fallen in love with the idea of acquiring Wandy Rodriguez from Houston in a swap for Zito.

I’ve gotta figure the Astros are at least two years from building a team that seriously competes.  And by then, they also may be required to switch leagues and divisions.  So, they’ll have some maneuvering before they are ready to go forward.  In the meantime, maybe taking some payroll off their hands would be a prudent offer for them to accept?  It could happen.  I’m just sayin.’  They owe Wandy $23M over two years if they don’t pick up his $13M option for 2014.  Instead of $23M, they would pay only $8M total for Zito.

Sure, there may be some teams planning to make trade offers for Wandy, he is a consistent performer.  We might not be able to acquire Rodriguez, if another team’s trade package is more appealing to Houston.  Maybe we need to add a type-B prospect or two?  If we get the right cash offset price, I’d go through with it.

So, we send $38M (15, 16.5, 6.5) to Houston.  We restructure Rodriguez’s contract to a two-year with no option or a mutual option for a third year.  I’m hopeful we can get it to $25M/2-years (12, 13).  Now, we got more depth just in case Vogelsong doesn’t perform as well as we all hope he does.  I have a lot of faith that Vogelsong will continue to perform well, and is well worth a $7.5M 2-year contract.

But I also can’t help but think of the similarities to the story of Brad Thomas, I can’t find a link to the story, but if you are interested, look him up.  His story line eerily parallels Vogelsong’s.  And Thomas struggled in 2011, after a break-out season in 2010.

Still, Vogelsong is a different pitcher and person.  I think his mechanics are incredibly sound, and very repeatable.  I understand his work ethic is second to none.  I trust in him doing what he needs to do in order to be prepared for two more seasons of great pitching performances (and beyond that, too).

Getting back to Wandy Rodriguez.  He absolutely gives us the best chance to win as our 5th pitcher.

It seems clear from Sabean and Bochy that they aren’t really looking deeper into the Giants' farm system than Eric Surkamp.  I don’t know why.  I think Justin Fitzgerald would be the simplest choice to call up for 2012.  We may have a few others close to ready, but it sure sounds to me like it is Surkamp, J. Sanchez, or Zito.

I’d rather force their hand, and take the decision-making away from them.  Trade Zito and Sanchey for pieces we really need.  And we get a 5th pitcher who improves our chance to win each time, every time.  There is no doubt we would be overpaying for Wandy.  Not that he isn’t worth $10M and $13M per year, respectively…  But we are effectively paying (by my estimates) 12 + 15 (Zito) = $27M for 2012, and 13 + 16.5 = $29.5M for 2013, and $6.5M for 2014.  That is $63.  Which is $17M more than Zito’s $46M contract total.

But there is no way you can get a free agency arm better than Wandy Rodriguez for anything near $8.5M per year for a short 2-year contract.

If we have a pitcher ready by 2013, we look to unload Wandy at the 2013 trade deadline, or allow him to leave via free agency.  If none our our pitchers are ready, maybe we need that mutual option for 2014, but I’d seriously doubt it.  We have so many pitchers, I’m betting we can have two starters ready by 2014 (to replace Vogelsong & Rodriguez).

One thing I’m not crazy about is the platoon of Belt and Pill.  Belt has shown he can actually hit LHP better than RHP.  And I think Pill has a minor league career BA or .301 against RHP.  So, maybe I can wish for Bochy to just go with the hot bat and not screw things up too bad.  Not much else can be done.

Huff simply blocks them.  And both Belt and Pill happen to be in our system at the same time.  It happens.  After a season or two, I’m sure we can sort out who stays.  And Ricky Oropesa may want first base sooner than later too.  Same with Posey.  Who knows.

My Ideal 2012 SF Giants Lineup?

I realize I’ve used a lot of fairly high estimates in my worksheet.  I am aware Aybar got only $2M and $3M in his first two arbitration years, respectively.  I realize McCutchen may sign for less than a $60M 6-year deal.  And that I am ‘wiping out’ one year of league minimum pay for McCutchen with his 6-year contract estimate.

These are still just my ‘best guess’ estimates and how I might handle things.

I tended to go toward the high side in each case.  The projections I’m using, therefore, should be a ‘maximum’ for each year.  And one salary I might be off on, will almost certainly be balanced (overall) by another salary I was also slightly off on. Take it for what it is, replace the values with your own opinions.  It’s all good.  But I’ve tried to account for many details.  Like future salaries are likely to be higher ‘overall’ than they are now in 2011.

A player like Michael Cuddyer who now makes $10-12M may be worth $14-15M in 2016.  An arbitration case for Pablo’s arb-3 year may require $15M in 2104, although it might only be $13.5M right now.  If you are aware of how the league minimum salary scale works, I’ve accounted for that too.  I used 450k in 2012 (to simplify things, even though MY estimate for 2012 is about $440k), $470k for 2013, $500k for 2014, and $530k for 2015.  In the end, these are JUST ESTIMATES, people.

The idea of all my decisions is to make them appealing to BOTH parties.  We should WANT McCutchen to sign long term.  He should want to do likewise.  If we had to pay a player like him an $18M salary in an unbalanced payroll year, we could be in trouble.  Accounting for (oh, the puns!) salary raises in our contract structures is a tremendous help, we should utilize.  This is why I’ve put $16M of his salary in 2014.  Surely he won’t mind bigger paychecks early.  And we control costs for upcoming years when Sandoval, Bumgarner, and Posey all have higher salary draws.

We got a lot of the Giants players on the 2012 roster.  We add depth and hitting.  We got a 5th starter who should be a 3rd starter.  And we have a serious bench with power and average.

I have a feeling this is my final roster projection for the 2012 Giants.

It offers the most flexibility, adds bats, and expands well with our plans moving forward.  This is one of the simplest and most streamlined of all the roster projections I think I’ve created.  And I would be supremely happy if this is our Giants 25-man roster for 2012, even if I am no longer around to be able to see them.

I’ve no doubt that other prospects could get a chance to make these rosters from 2012 through 2105.  I’m not accounting for every decision, think of these players as ‘placeholders’.  Maybe Ryan Cavan replaces Edgar Gonzalez once Gonzalez hits his arb-3 year and becomes much more expensive.  Maybe Roger Kieschnick jumps quickly through the ranks and is fast-tracked to replace Eldred or even Schierholtz.  Maybe Culberson steals the second base job away from Joe Panik.

So many things, we cannot know.  I can’t tell which pitcher will make our bullpen first.  Or maybe we will have to sign a FA arm, like we did with Mota, Ramirez, Casilla, and others.

Actually, we could have Jose and Santiago Casilla,  Andrew and Sergio Romo,  and Brett Bochy all in our bullpen by 2015.  Wow.  Team functions could double as family reunions.  Fantastic. If we are really, really lucky, maybe Bruce would have to fly in from parts unknown (Boston?) for said reunions.  lol.

I’ve tried to piece a best-case scenario together.  But I’ve tried to also keep it grounded in reality.  This isn’t meant to be ‘fantasy baseball draft day.’  I believe I’ve been pretty thorough in justifying the how and the why I think these players can be acquired.  There’s no way I can account for everything.  Maybe a scouting assistant for the Pirates knows Salem-Keizer RHP Cody Hall from Southern U A&M and ‘asks’ for him as part of the trade for McCutchen.  Who knows?  Who knows.

Anyways.  I, for one, think this team would be exciting as all get-up to watch for 162 plus games.
What does the “plus” mean?

Playoffs, fool.  Go Giants!

Thanks all for your visits.  Cheers.

Image credits:  Photo of Sergio Romo is my own original photograph, All Rights Reserved.  He tried to break my lens, but he didn't...  The ball hit it, and 'slid off'.  lol.  Erick Aybar from  Wandy Rodriguez from rotoprofessor. Andrew McCutchen from sportsillustrated.cnn

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Free Agency vs. Trades for acquisitions.

Let me ‘reset.’  Let’s assume nothing.

The free agency market is pretty much a flop- like an octopus on a trampoline.  Reyes and Rollins as shortstops.  Cuddyer and Crisp as outfielders.  Maybe Carlos Quentin.  So, if the free agents aren’t great, maybe we gotta look at trades.

Trades are never just about what we want.  They are always about what others want.  Or, in other words, what we can get for what we can give.  I can make some ‘bad humor’ nightclub metaphors, but I won’t.  See, I’m all grown up, I’ve matured.

I also want to take another ‘fringe element’ (oh, with the nightclub metaphors again!) of trades vs. free agent signings.  At least in trades we can assess our talent pool and ‘somewhat choose’ who we send, and to whom.  We’d probably be better off not sending Brian Wilson somewhere within our division, for instance.  We target trade acquisitions that also fulfill specific needs.

There are times when it is impossible to project what our position needs may be 3-5 years out.  And whom of our draft picks actually turn into big leaguers.  What if we pick the ‘best available’ and have no middle infielders when we need them?  What if we continue to draft pitchers because we are so good at developing them?

Free agents work a bit differently.  Let us not forget that we are relinquishing (oh, big word!) our 1st round or supplemental round draft pick when we sign a free agent.  Right now, we should be capable of building a team to endure for a 3-5 year time-horizon.  So, many of our current prospects will simply stay ‘stuck’ in our farm system.  If Adrianza has trade value, it may be well to trade him while his value is solid.  If Panik shows up on the Giants and performs, and we acquire a shortstop; we’ll have very little need for Adrianza before he turns 28.

On the other hand, those draft picks could be invaluable.  Our horizon can project that we will need some replenishments by 2015 or 2016.  By 2016, we’ll carry a full roster of near market-value contracts (Posey, Sandoval, Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner) and whatever SS and OF we acquire in the mean time.  Concurrent to this; Brown, Panik, and all of our bench players would be in arbitration years.

If we draft well in 2012 and 2013, we can keep turning a balanced lineup like we have now.  Maybe one or two of our bench players have enough value to trade or release to free agency.  We get a couple more young, team-controlled prospects or a targeted ‘need based’ acquisition.

Those draft picks, I assert, can be much more valuable than the prospects we would be trading.  Even if a highly thought of prospect like Adrianza, Chris Dominguez, or Conor Gillaspie really become the real deal at the MLB level for another team.  It takes something to get something, remember?

So far, I’m talking hypothetically about position players.  I foresee a need for us to keep more of our pitching prospects.  For one, we are excellent at developing them ourselves.  Two, even if we can sign Casilla, Romo, and Lopez to three-year or four-year deals, we’ll need some new arms well before 2016.

There is also a thought we might need to unload one of our top-three starters at some point.  Otherwise, payroll could get enormous.  If guys like Fitzgerald, Westcott, Crick, or Black can really step into our rotation, we maintain a solid core to our rotation, or have trade leverage for other position needs.  And maybe a 2012 draft pick works out.

We’ve had a successful track record for draftees the last half dozen years or more.  Not with all, but with more than enough.  Nobody strikes gold with each pick, it just can’t be done.

What kinds of trade packages could we put together?
For whom?  A couple more ideas I’ll float out into the ether…

Adam Jones.

The Orioles tendered a one-year $3.25M deal for 2011 to Jones, his first arbitration year.  Do they start thinking about a long-term contract to lock him up through a couple FA years now?  Do they spend while they are still rebuilding?  Let’s try to grab him first.

Their closer, Gregg, isn’t cutting it.  Sorry for Brian, but I’d send ya to one of the losing-est teams, if I had to.  Yeah, it sucks, and it hurts me as much as it hurts you.  Well, no.  Not really.  But I don’t think Wilson deserves that for being such a great Giant.  Other than swapping B-Weezy it’s a similar trade package to others I’ve written before.  But let’s try sending Zito first.

  • LHP Barry Zito
  • RHP Ramon Ramirez
  • C   Max Ramirez
  • CF Christian, Graham, Ford, or Torres
  • $36M cash offset for Zito

For a couple years now, the Orioles have looked to complement their young pitching staff with some veteran stability.  Two words.  Not working.  Just before the 2011 trade deadline,

the Birds had a stretch of 22 consecutive games in which no starter pitched into the 7th inning.  And during that stretch, the starting pitchers’ combined ERA was 6.80.

Yeah, fer real, fo’ sho’.  They need starting pitching.
Expect the O’s to keep young Jeremy Guthrie their #1 starter, but after that?  I expect every slot from 2-5 is open for discussion.  From Guthrie’s 4.33 ERA, 95 ERA+, and 1.341 WHIP, here’s their end-of-season rotation:
  1. RHP Jeremy Guthrie: 4.33 ERA, 208.0 IP, 95 ERA+, 1.341 WHIP
  2. RHP Tommy Hunter: 5.06 ERA, 69.1 IP, 82 ERA+, 1.413 WHIP
  3. RHP Alfredo Simon: 4.90 ERA, 115.2 IP, 84 ERA+, 1.452 WHIP,
  4. LHP Brian Matusz: 10.69 ERA, 49.2 IP, 39 ERA+, 2.114 WHIP
  5. LHP Zach Britton: 4.61 ERA, 154.1 IP, 90 ERA+, 1.451 WHIP
How do these 2011 ‘bad season’ stats stack up?
LHP Jonathan Sanchez: 4.26 ERA, 101.1 IP, 84 ERA+, 1.441 WHIP
LHP Barry Zito: 5.87 ERA, 53.2 IP, 61 ERA+, 1.398 WHIP

So, we find out if they would accept Zito.  If the ‘ask’ for Jones escalates, we may have to offer Brian Wilson or LHP Jonthan Sanchez in this deal for Jones.  We make sure to inquire (with Anaheim) if the other pitcher can go to the Angels in a straight-up trade for SS Erick Aybar, or maybe with a RHP prospect I’ve mentioned before (Richards, Geltz, or Tillman).  Worse-case, we lower our LAA trade offer to Maicer Izturis to be our lead-off shortstop for a few years, instead of long-term as I’d expect Aybar would be.  Maybe Crawford has a longer ‘window’ to make our ball club then.

I like this assessment of Adam Jones and his tradeability.   It is pretty clear the Orioles have a ways to go before they MIGHT contend in the AL East.  I agree with the write-up, Jones’ value may never be higher than now.  If they don’t plan to keep/sign him through FA years, no time like the present to get value from him.  I wouldn't be willing to give up as much as I would for Andrew McCutchen.

So, let’s start with Zito in the trade package.  He’s a lefty that slots into the #5 spot easily, maybe the #4 spot in their current rotation.  He’d be a bit of a novelty as the ‘$126M arm’ in Baltimore.  He certainly can eat some innings.  Maybe he regains his form and gets below a 4.00 ERA as he is no doubt capable.  If not, they spent $10M for two years of his service.

If we have to send Sanchey?  He easily slots into the #2 or #3 spot in their rotation.  And has a lot of upside or ‘ceiling’.  He’s under team control for two more years, and cheap at $6M-ish for 2012.  I think the environment might be perfect for Jonathan.  Less pressure.  He’d have a stable role and place in their rotation.  Maybe he has a legitimate shot of winning a CY Young after he ‘relaxes’ and understands he is valued by his club.  There’s never been a doubt he has filthy stuff.  He needs a chance to harness it.  He can.  And, I believe in the right environment, he will.

Catcher: Matt Weiters is a stud, but no catcher can play every game.  He’s played 130 games in 2010 and 139 games in 2011.  You simply can’t give a back-up catcher like Craig Tatum 20-30+ games on your schedule.  Tatum doesn’t throw out nearly 40% of all base stealers (like Chris Stewart).  His slash line is far from “average”:  .195/.245/.230/.475, 33 OPS+, and -0.3 WAR.  Eight doubles and one HR in 299 PA’s.

We send Max Ramirez as part of the package.  A recent signee for the Giants, but I doubt he gets a serious ‘look’ for the big club with Hector Sanchez, Tommy Joseph, Johnny Monell, and Andrew Susac all in the system.  However, Ramirez was the #84 overall prospect pre-2009 by Baseball America.  In 45 MLB games and 140 PA’s he batted: .217/.343/.357/.699, 85 OPS+, and 0.1 WAR.  In 8 minor league seasons: .295/.389/.478/.867, with 2669 PA’s, 146 2B, 85 HR, 334 BB, 563 SO.

The fact that Max was signed ‘in desperate times’ on June 21st and not called up, being overlooked for young 21 year-old Hector Sanchez is quite telling.  If you’re wondering, Max has 2,669 PA’s in the minors.  Isn’t that ‘in the sweet spot’ of what Sabean and Bochy think you need to succeed?  What about our highly-touted 2007 draft pick Johnny Monell?  He now has 1,580 PA’s in the minors and played in community college.  Hector was drafted out of high school, but has 1,276 PA’s in the minors.  Huh.  Yeah, methinks Max Ramirez has no future in the Giants organization.  This isn’t any statement of whether I like him or not.

Outfield: The Orioles have an outstanding RF with Nick Markakis signed through 2014 on a big $66M/6-year contract.  Nolan Reimold in LF is serviceable or slightly-better.  Seeing how Reimold is still under team-control, his value is better-than-slightly-better.  Maybe they need to have a ‘flier’ for an option in CF.  Send Andres Torres, Darren Ford, Justian Christian, or Tyler Graham.  It seems clear (from Bochy, Sabean, and Baer statements), that these center fielders won’t be more than an ‘extra man’ on the 40-man roster, if they’re lucky.

Adam Jones for a #3 LHP starter (J. Sanchez) and two cheap, team-controlled prospects (C Max Ramirez and a CF: Torres, Ford, Christian, or Graham) that fill specific team needs.  They got UT players in both Andino and Fox, so I don’t think Manny Burriss has much value to them- especially since Burriss is looking at a $700k+ salary draw for 2012.

Not enough?  Maybe sign and trade Ramon Ramirez while he still has one more year or arbitration eligibility.  He’ll be cheap, and he’s a steady performer that has much more value in the Orioles pen than in our Giants pen.  He’s clearly performed in big moments.  But (IMHO), his time in SF is likely done anyways.  If we send a bullpen arm, they’re gonna ‘ask’ for Javier Lopez.  The answer is simple: “no.”  And he’s a free-agent anyways.  But we’re gonna have first-rights to bid for him in free agency (a 5-day window, if I am not mistaken).  Hopefully he wants to be here and we can pay him.  He’s worth keeping, that’s for sure.

The Orioles made a hard run at Teixeira 3 years ago.  And there is talk that owner Peter Angelos may be willing to spend this off-season.  They’ll need to sort out their front office first (take Bochy, please take Bochy!).  But the Giants could help them build cheaper and stronger if they want to part with CF Adam Jones.

Baltimore Orioles: Nick Markakis.

This gets interesting.
Markakis has a very large contract with over $43M remaining for 2012-14.  I know, any Giants fan sees a $40M-ish 3-year salary and is pre-conditioned to ask “can we trade Zito”?  ha ha.  Maybe.  But only if Zito is a small piece of the trade package, and we include a bunch of cash to offset this.
What I think gets interesting is the psychology behind this trade notion.  If we are pretty much ‘prepared to eat’ Zito’s $46M anyways, how much is it worth shaving off that plate?  Any?  As much as possible?  Only if it is over a certain percentage (like 40%)?

See here.  Markakis is a player with performance value.  Not so with Figgins, Rios, Dunn, Wells, Zito, or Lackey right now.  Let’s ask what we WOULD BE WILLING to pay for Markakis on the open FA market.  I’d say $8M on the low end, and $14 on the very,very high end; he does have a sick career .295 avg, .365 OBP , .818 OPS, and 117 OPS+; even if his slugging isn’t all that (.453).

So, I’d unbiasedly (isthataword? Lol) value him at $14M as a max/high salary.  Well, his salary is $14.3M averaged per year.  So, if we pay his salary at 100% and $0 for Zito, we saved $46M from eating Zito’s contract and ‘basically just signed Markakis’ for $1M more than I’d have his max value at. See, I’m talking psychologically.  That ain’t gonna happen.

Let’s say we ‘are willing’ to eat half of Zito’s $46 million.  That means we pay $23M to BAL.  How would Baltimore see it?  Are they rally gonna pay $10M, $11M, AND $2M for his buyout?  Nah.  They could almost sign Edwin Jackson for that kind of cheddar.

I’d say they might pay $11m total to take a chance on Zito.

That means we pay $15M, $15M, $5M.  Okay, maybe.  So.  Can we ‘pay down’ the value of Zito?  Absolutely.  Enter Ramon Ramirez, Max Ramirez, and Justin Christian.  If either of these prospects pan out, they save a heap while they are playing and still under team control.  Odds might not favor it.  But their worth is not nothing.  So that’s something.

Remember, Ramon is still under team control and a bit below market-value too.  That is a REAL value.  Maybe our hard offer is to pay $33M (14, 14, 5) so BAL pays 5, 6, 2 for Zito. Yeah.  Maybe.

Let’s now recall how Markakis’ contract is at the very tip-top of MY value scale.  Add that we are sending prospects to BALI’d make the hard offer: $31M cash offset (13.5, 13.5, 4) so BAL pays 5.5, 6.5, 3 for Zito, are losing a solid bat, and also shedding a large contract obligation.

My “psychological math” figures we save about $8M on the Zito contract.  Here’s how I figure it.

Add Markakis’ 43 + 31 (cash paid to BAL) = 74.

I’d say Markakis has a ‘realistic’ market value of $12.5M/yr for three years = 37.5.

So, take the total amount paid 74 – 37.5 (mkt value) = 36.5.

We ‘overpaid’ Markakis’ value by $36.5M.  Subtract that from Zito’s $46M contract.  That’s what we ‘saved’ from eating the whole Zito contract.  Or, in other words, what we ‘paid’ for Markakis if we had to eat Zito’s full contract anyways.  $9.5M.  Not bad.  And we got a hitter of choice, not some bat ‘just because’ they had a bad contract.

If we ate Zitos full contract at $46M anyways, we paid just $9.5M on top of that to add Markakis to our roster for three years.  Not too bad a result I’d say.

I know the reality says we spent ‘more payroll’.  After all, $74M is greater than $46M.  I get that.  But we can certainly justify that ‘at least some’ of that Zito money went towards Markakis’ salary, instead of ALL of it going into some flambĂ© concoction in Zito’s Beverly Hills kitchen or whatever.

No matter how you slice it (oh, the puns!), we saved $8-10M on Zito’s payout.  That pays for Ramon Hernandez for two years.  Or for Javier Lopez.  Or our entire bench of prospects.  Like I said, it’s not nothing.

Shopping Zito:

If we are simply planning to eat Zito’s contract, I think we can find at least two or three teams willing to take him at a very low salary rate.  If you evaluate the ‘type’ or ‘quality’ of starting pitcher that $3-6M/year buys you on the free agent market, it is likely around a 4.30 to 5.00 ERA.  Brad Penny or maybe Joel Pinero types.  Journeymen starters that aren’t ‘locked in’ at a 3.40 or better ERA.

If a team is willing to take a flier on Zito, they may get a return to form from him, in an environment where he helps contribute and isn’t harassed at every turn by media, fans, and (maybe) even looked-at-sideways in the clubhouse.  Then again, maybe not.

But for a team with low payroll, low budget, and not any serious thoughts of contending…  Not a bad ‘get’ for a cheap price.  Let’s review, we know his salary is $46M: 19, 20 +7 = 46.  If the Giants approached the Twins, Mariners, or Orioles with an offer to send $38M cash (15, 16, 7) to offset his salary?  Really, no takers?  Add a type-B prospect?  I think you may find a team for him.  Ask other teams like Toronto or the Chi Sox too.  Houston and Pittsburgh...

My point is, I think we can find a taker and save $6-10M from his $46M total.
I was surprised we didn’t try this with Rowand to be honest.

We ate the entire $12 million.  Could we not have shopped him first and offered up to $10M cash to offset his salary and found a bottom-feeder willing to pay him just $2M as a centerfielder?  For goodness sake, IIRC Florida had 37 year old Mike Cameron starting in CF until they released him around August.  That 2-mil could’ve helped set up Romo for his first arbitration year.

Even if we save ‘only’ $3M per year on Zito, that’s a lot of paper.  That is probably enough to pay Casilla each year of his contract instead of using a young prospect.  I’d say it matters.  It’s the difference between signing Ramon Ramirez again or Javier Lopez again.  Lopez is more important, wouldn’t you say?  Yeah, I’d say it matters.

For those who want to ask Zito to restructure his contract.  I doubt that will happen.  Look at how the Mets did with that.  They had a $21M salary obligation, and they are paying it off over something like 20 years.  It is costing them around $53M (total with 8% APR interest) if I remember correctly.  I forget who the player was.  Unless we can get Scott Boras to agree to a $1 salary for a 46 million year term, I don’t think we’ll do better.  Maybe Toronto’s Alex Anthopoulos could get that deal done, but not Sabean.

Some media ‘talking heads’ are saying maybe we should ask Cain and Lincecum to allow their contracts to be structured as ‘back-loaded’ contracts to allow 2012 payroll to be ‘lighter’.  Bullisht.  Cain drew a $7.33 million salary this year.  He is the VERY LAST player the Giants have a right to ask any favors from.  He’s a great Giant and has gone about his business.  He’s conducted himself in the best ways imaginable.  He is the player rep for the team, and a clubhouse leader.  The Giants could’ve offered to restructure his contract this year or last year, to extend him.  They chose to save and pay him this $7.33M for 2011.

And you know, that is really short-sighted anyways.  Some of the talking heads have no idea what they are saying.  They are just talking to talk.  2011 and 2012 are some of the BEST years to front-load a contract to.  (Actually, by my estimates, 2013 is the best year to load up salaries).  Posey, Sandoval, and Bumgarner are all WAY LOW in salary draws.  Once Sandoval hops from 3-mil to 7-mil to 10 or 12 mil, you can’t stack another heavy $24M salary for Lincecum on TOP.  Just so you pay him $16M in 2012?  These big salary jumps all stagger together too.  So, we got big payroll jumps coming down the road already.

Ridiculous hogwash I say.  If the Giants front office is that short-sighted, they need to save up their money for Lasik surgery before spending anything on payroll.  It doesn’t matter that Huff and Zito come off the books after 2012 and 2014 respectively.  Take a look at future salary projections for our roster and you’ll understand.  Sandoval will likely make $16-18M in 2016.  Posey, maybe $12-15M.  Bumgarner, I guess $13-16.5M.  With Lincecum at $21M and Cain at $20M…  You are talking a figure around $85M for these FIVE players in 2016.  2012 guys like Belt, Pill, Otero, and Hembree (by my projected rosters) are hitting their arb-2 year.  And 2013 guys like Brown and Panik are hitting their first arbitration year.

My point is YOU CANNOT BACK-LOAD contracts from 2012.

Trying to maintain ‘an illusion’ of a $130M payroll in 2012 will mean a $150M-ish payroll by 2015 and maybe a $160M payroll in 2016 if we retain our key players all the way through.  We spend $140M-ish now for a legitimate team, and can hover at $135-140M through 2015 and maybe 2016.

Some of these same press people are estimating we can sign Beltran to a two-year deal or for $30M for 3-years.  Or that J-Roll would sign here for $30M/3-years.  *chuckle*.  If Rollins signs that cheap, there’s no way Philly passes up on him, bet on it.  If he wants five or more years, or $60M+; maybe that’s how they part ways.  Beltran would accept less salary than Cuddyer in 2012?  Really?  $30 million for Beltran or Rollins in SF?  Yeah…  And 320-pound Niners right tackle Anthony Davis wears size 32 jeans.  Uh-huh.   

Saying Lincecum will take a ‘home-team discount’ and sign for $17M per…  Based on what exactly?  Us sucking?  Has he been spotted at The Citadel or Power Exchange or something?  He loves torture?  Has Matt Cain adopted the song “Loser”by Beck as his intro for 2012 Giants games?  This isn’t ‘okay’ and I hope they demand more from the front office.

Hell, I hope Cain and Lincecum pass a ‘list’ of players to Sabean and Baer.  Kinda like Beltran furnished a ‘list’ of teams he’d waive his no-trade clause to move to.  “Get us two of these players or we're gone.  I don’t care how.  Kidnap them if you have to.”  (No, that’s me being snarky, they wouldn’t say that…  Oh, maybe Tim would…  No, no…  That’s me being snarky again…).

It would be hella funny if the list included only two names on it.

But damnWe’d be in great shape.

Or we’d be flat-out hosed.


Image credits: SF Giants fan is my own original photo, All Rights Reserved.  Adam Jones photo is from Zimbio.  Nick Markakis photo from