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How Flawed Free Agents, Poor Trades, and Cheap Player Signings Helped Derail the San Francisco Giants

Precious Resources: Money vs IP and ABs

Bad multi-year Major League Baseball player contracts are easy to spot several years after they’re signed.

With 162 games in the books each season, it only takes a year or two of evidence before public pontificators declare the winners and losers.

When we discuss long-term player contracts that went south, it’s usually all about the money. But for Major League Baseball teams, money is a renewable resource— and virtually every year they make more of it than they did the previous year.

What Major League teams don’t make more of every year are increases in the number of players allowed on their 25-man rosters. It’s always, like, twenty-five.

The moral is, a Major League franchise can waste money and then simply print and spend more.

But when you place less than league average players on your 25-man roster for any length of time, you have wasted precious, non-retrievable resources: at-bats, innings pitched, and infield/outfield defense.

Over the past four years the San Francisco Giants have shown a remarkable ability to hit the super trifecta of baseball mismanagement: signing free agents using flawed old school measurements; making brain-dead, “cross your fingers” player trades; and continually degrading their 25-man roster with inexpensive, less than league average players.

Credit San Francisco’s front office management with their ability to deodorize all this poor decision-making for the team’s slap-happy fanbase.

A couple of cute player stories (scootering to the ballpark, funny nicknames, etc.), coupled with an increase in ex-Giants players touting the party line on local TV and radio broadcasts, and (just like that!) everything is A-OK in Giants-land.

Signing Free Agents Like it’s 1999

Giants fans are confused about starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija. He’s got a cool nickname and they were told he was a great pitcher.

The Giants signed the free agent human home run machine for $90 million over 5 years in the 2015-16 off-season.

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

And since Samardzija rejected the White Sox qualifying offer, San Francisco also lost their  first-round draft pick (18th overall) in the 2016 amateur player draft.

At the time, General Manager Bobby Evans and the Giants front office were high-fiving each other and popping bottles of (likely off-vintage) champagne.

“This guy is a horse”, enthused Evans at the time, using the animal analogy so popular with San Francisco Giant GMs. “… we focused on him,” Evans happily stated, “as one of our top priorities.”

The question is why.

Here’s what Samardzija did as a member of the Chicago White Sox the season before San Francisco breathlessly signed him: he led all American League pitchers with 228 hits allowed; in earned runs allowed (118); and home runs allowed (29). His 2015 ERA was an eye-catching 4.96.

Naturally the Giants were like, “Where can I get me some of that?”

In his 58 starts as a Giant, Samardzija has a 4.20 ERA (4.67 so far in 2017), a 1.21 WHIP, and has allowed 1.2 HR/9. Which is potentially 4 HRs allowed every three starts, 39 HRs over 30 starts.

All of which has created the lame “Don’t look at Samardzija’s results, look at his ‘peripherals’.” (Which I thought only a doctor was allowed to do.)

By the way, the definition of “peripheral” is: “not relating to the most important part of something.” For pitchers, that most important part is referred to as “run prevention”.

One amusing sidebar to all this is watching the SF Chronicle’s luddite baseball writers as they desperately cling to baseball’s most discredited statistics (pitcher wins, saves, RBIs, etc.).

To rationalize Jeff Samardzija’s 8-12 win/loss record, they have to briefly join the 21st century and ignore their beloved, old timey “pitcher wins” stat.

San Francisco Giants pitcher Mark Melancon,  CEO Larry Baer, and smitten Giants GM Bobby Evans (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

I will only briefly mention one-dimensional free agent “closer” Mark Melancon, signed by the Giants in December 2016 for $62 million over four years.

At the time, Melancon made it clear to potential bidders that he had no interest in getting more than three outs, working any time other than the 9th inning, or coming into a non-save situation.

Which was exactly the 1990s version of a closer Giants GM Bobby Evans was looking for. So the Giants happily signed Melancon despite the list of things he wouldn’t do to help his team win.

Melancon has had several stints on the DL in 2017, and the Giants are easing him back into the bullpen by using him in non-save situations. Which must thrill him to death.

Trading Like it’s 1899

When the Giants picked up starter Matt Moore from the Tampa Bay Rays at the July 31, 2016 non-waiver trade deadline it was all about the money.

Moore would be under Giants team control through 2019 for a mere $26 million. If he could just manage to start every 5th day, San Francisco could declare victory in the deal.

Unfortunately, two things in the Matt Moore deal prevented front office high fives.

(Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

First, as part of the Tampa deal the Giants gave up their 4th best prospect, infielder Lucius Fox.

The Giants signed Fox, an international player from the Bahamas, for a record $6 million in 2015. Also going to Tampa was fan favorite 3B Matt Duffy (but no doubt he’ll be back).

Currently Lucius Fox, 20, is Tampa Bay’s 11th top prospect (Baseball America rates Tampa’s farm system 11th best in the Majors; the Giants are 24th).

The second setback in the money-driven signing of Matt Moore has been his performance.

In 38 starts as a Giant, Moore has a 1.45 WHIP, a 4.97 ERA, and a paltry 8.2 SO/9 in 217.1 IP. As with Jeff Samardzija, Matt Moore’s 4-12 record this season has the local baseball print media tip-toeing around their favorite useless pitching stat.

And his year and a half stint with San Francisco isn’t an anomaly: in his seven-year MLB career Moore has put up a 4.19 ERA.

To get full value from the remaining $19 million the Giants will potentially pay Moore over the next two seasons, they will have to watch him trot to the mound for another 60-68 more starts.

Now where’s that champagne?

Less Than League Average, Thy Name is Giants

San Francisco Giant fans inexplicably cheer and congratulate each other whenever their team signs dramatically inexpensive (and less-talented) players to the team’s 25-man roster.

And I think it’s great that the fanbase is looking out for the richest MLB ownership group in all of baseball (the Giants group is wealthier than the Yankees and Dodgers ownership groups combined, @forbes.com).

The idea goes something like this: “Hey, we’ve got nothing to lose putting Pablo Sandoval at 3rd base, because the Boston Red Sox are paying him and the Giants save money by only paying the league minimum” [currently $535,000].

Actually, to paraphrase Javier Bardem from the film “No Country for Old Men”, you have everything to lose.

Because, as noted above, money comes and goes (mostly for MLB owners it comes in ginormous waves). But every spot on a 25-man roster is like gold and every at-bat taken, or inning pitched, by a player on the 25-man roster is critically important.

At least, that’s the way winning organizations look at it.

As of August 25, 2017, Pablo Sandoval (.705 OPS), Gorkys Hernandez (.685 OPS), Brandon Crawford (.669 OPS), Jarrett Parker (.717 OPS) Ryder Jones (.590 OPS), Carlos Moncrief (.598 OPS), and Orlando Calixte (.443 OPS) are all on the 25-man roster and playing virtually every day.

And if the Giants had their way, re-tread Michael Morse (24 games, .556 OPS) would have been part of this team all season.

Are the Giants saving money putting these players on the field in 2017? Absolutely.

Here’s what San Francisco’s front office and their devoted fanbase are also getting. Out of 30 MLB teams, the Giants are:

  • 28th in runs scored (520);
  • 29th in on-base percentage (.310);
  • 30th in slugging percentage (.379); and,
  • 30th in OPS (.688)

But there is one thing that the Giants executive management group and I totally agree on.

Since they seem unable to be smart, and seem unwilling to leave the 1990s and join the baseball revolution that has dramatically elevated the game over the past fifteen years, it absolutely will take some magic for them to turn this mess around.

6 thoughts on “How Flawed Free Agents, Poor Trades, and Cheap Player Signings Helped Derail the San Francisco Giants

  1. send Larry to Sacramento and Bobby Evans to San Jose.

    get some young guys into the system who can find and develop young talent

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  2. All true and on the mark.
    Couldn’t help but thinking about a key component of the glory years who may have had much to do with setting the table for what was to become the 3 WS titles: Bill Neukom. Giants Managing General Partner from 5/08 to 12/11. We have never seem much written on his accomplishments while MGP we do know he was pressured by the Board to leave because of how he wanted to spend the big money after the 1st WS in 2010.

    While many of your columns are devoted to the building of this years train wreck it would be interesting to know how the authors (Baer and Sabean) worked the backroom to get him out. Based on the pathetic agenda set for 2018 and beyond, looking back MGP Neukom may have been the prime mover in helping the Giants to their first ever WS.

    As you have written It didn’t take long for the current regime to dismantle the chassis of the glory years.

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  3. Steve–
    I will respond to this comment by addressing each of your points.

    Here’s another side to the Giants story.
    Every one of the 4 stats at the bottom of your article are offensive stats. (This is the same team – plus Melancon – who were three outs away from taking the Cubs to 5 games in the NLCS.) How do you fix it? You improve your hitting. You sign either Jay Bruce or Justin Upton at a reasonable price, keep Pablo at 3rd making minimum wage, and keep Belt at first. That will beef up their home runs. If Span, Pence, Belt, and Crawford revert back to the mean of the career averages, this mess will be fixed. Slater and Jones are there as slump insurance on Span and Belt. They won three World Series championships without hitting but now, they’ve hit a wall. They are 30 games under 500. You can’t blame that on pitching. They are 3rd in quality starts. They are 15th in team era.

    So you protest that these are only “offensive” stats. OK Here are the Giants pitching stats:

    –The Giants are 16th among MLB teams with a 1.40 WHIP; and a 4.51 ERA. Which is terrible. So, yes, I also blame the terrible pitching.

    As far as “Quality Starts”. As I noted in a previous blog, “Quality Starts” is a completely bogus stat. Because…

    1. By definition a QS is three earned runs in six innings, a 4.50 ERA. As many have pointed out before me, that would be a startling new definition of the word “quality”.

    2. If a starter pitches 9 innings and gives up 4 ER, that’s a 4.00 ERA. Which somehow doesn’t qualify as a QS!

    3. In 2011 writer John Dewan, of Bill James Online and co-creator of Baseball Info Solutions, looked at ten years of ballgames where the starting pitcher went exactly 6 IP with 3 ER. In those 2,118 games the quality start team’s winning percentage was under .500.

    As far as keeping “Pablo at 3rd making minimum wage”, what does money have to do with offensive production?

    It’s great that you’re concerned with how much the Giants pay for their players and overall payroll. After all, they are the richest ownership group in Major League Baseball. They have more worth than the Yankees and Dodgers ownership groups combined.

    They can’t ignore hitting anymore. Bruce Bochy has had to win without it for years. Why? The giants build their teams around pitching and defense. For them, hitting is an afterthought. They are 25th in batting average and dead last in home runs. And that’s why they are in the mess they are in. That’s OK. The team will tweak that philosophy and get a home run hitter (Bruce/Upton) in free agency. They’ll drop Cain and possibly Moore and save 22M of payroll. They won’t lose their prospects. They’ll be smart.

    1. The Giants don’t have any quality prospects to “save”. So saving them won’t be “smart”. If anyone would take them, dumping them would actually be smart.

    2. Getting “one home run hitter” won’t remotely improve this horrible offense. Two impact hitters wouldn’t save this offense.

    3. In the Matt Moore trade (a player who you would just “drop”) the Giants gave up Lucius Fox, their 4th best prospect who they paid $6 million to sign.

    4. For championship teams, hitting should never be an “afterthought”.

    They don’t have average players. They have average hitters.
    They can play defense. Crawford is the best shortstop in baseball. He and Panik are current gold glove winners. Belt is a fine defensive player – as is Jones – and Pence has shown range into triples alley. Pablo and Posey are fine defensive players. Gorkys has good range and can play all fields.

    OK, let’s have Gorkys Hernandez start in center field for 162 games in 2018. We both can agree that he would set some amazing new records if that happens.

    Hernandez can’t get his OPS to stay above .675, and to me his defense has been very rocky.

    Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval are part of the offensive problem: too many players on the bad side of 30, who no longer have the power, range or speed to be starters.

    I agree that Brandon Crawford is one of the game’s best shortstops. But the very best? Not hardly. Andrelton Simmons of the LA Angels, Carlos Correa of the Astros, and Francisco Lindor of Cleveland are the top three in the game right now.

    But Crawford (241/250), Belt (241/268) , Pence (256/282), and Span (266/283) are all well off their career batting averages. Gorkys is hitting 265 now but started off very slow. Span had a slow start. Parker and Jones both have power but don’t hit for any average. Moncrief makes solid contact, is Bochy’s 9th inning pinch hitter, but is hitting 258.

    Then we agree. They all pretty much stink. The sad thing is the Giants have Denard Span for at least another year for $13 million. If you really want to keep him, adding the 2019 season will cost the Giants $21 million. What a bargain!”

    Horrible trades? Getting Moore for Duffy and an infielder who is now the Devil Ray’s 11th minor prospect makes for a horrible trade? How is trading a player who is now the 11th prospect in another team’s farm system a big loss? Duffy was a good player – very well liked buy the players and fans. But they had Nunez, Gillespie, and Tomlinson at that time. They were deep at 3rd. Jake Peavy was at the end of his career and Cain was pitching horribly. They needed to beef up their rotation. They wanted a young lefty. Moore had 17 wins in 2013. But so far, he has turned out to be a bust. He’s 4–12. He better pitch well in September or Stratton may take his job. That would save the giants 9M of payroll. Stratton had 20 strike out against the Nats and D Backs these past two weeks. His spin rate is ranked high in the league. The Nunez trade made sense. Pablo allowed them to make that trade. Again, they were deep at 3rd.

    A lot to cover here.
    1. Having Nunez, Gillaspie and Tomlinson is not being “deep” at third. None of them are MLB starters at third base.

    2. All due respect, Moore having “17 wins” in 2013 is a ridiculous old school MLB stat. Pitcher “wins” have nothing to do with pitcher performance; they have everything to do with run scoring by the offense, bullpen performance, and the range of the fielders behind the pitcher.

    3. But you’re willing to dump Moore even though you like him. Again, stop being concerned with how much money the Giants spend, and how much profit the ownership group gets at the end of each season. They’ve got the money-making part down cold.

    Dyson was a role of the dice that came up big for the Giants. (Based on tip from Buster. He caught Dyson in World Baseball.) They paid Dyson 3.5M. Frugal if you ask me. Pablo was another role of dice that came up big. He was a 95M dollar bust for the Red Sox who started producing as soon as he put on the orange and black. They got both Dyson and Pablo on the cheap. There’s nothing wrong with saving money.

    Of course, in this age of ubiquitous media no one knew anything about Sam Dyson. Only Buster Posey knew the “secret” that Dyson was a really great reliever.

    Despite the fact that Dyson’s combined 2017 WHIP with Texas and SF is 1.756, and his combined ERA is 5.40. Are things so bad for the Giants that they have make stuff up to try and make the fans happy about this mess?

    Samardzija is leading the league in fewest walks given up. He’s a flat out stud these days. They got him not only because he pitched a lot of innings, had good velocity, but because he would pitch in a pitcher friendly park, and be coached by Dave Righetti. They signed him for 90M over 5 years. Greinke signed for 206M over 6 years. Greinke has 6 more wins than Samardzija. That’s over 2M a win.

    Back to pitcher “wins” to define individual pitcher performance. It’s not just “old school” any more, it’s embarrassing.

    So here’s what “flat out stud” Jeff Samardzija has done as a Giants pitcher at their pitcher-friendly park: 59 starts with a 4.10 ERA. Truly, a new definition of “flat out stud”.

    Melancon has been hurt most the year. He’s now pitching the 8th and not bitching about it. Dyson took over Melancon’s spot while he was out. Dyson worked himself up the bullpen latter. Bochy wasn’t going to give Melancon Dyson’s job after Melancon missed three months. It didn’t matter what was in Melancon’s contract.

    Melancon doesn’t give a whit about what team he’s on. He just wants to be in old school “save” situations so he can improve his old school stats for his next contract.

    Question: why do Giants fans jump on less than average player bandwagons like Sam Dyson– players they never heard of before but all of a sudden they think these players are just awesome?

    The local media give the giants a walk? Every one of them speaks their minds.
    Yes their roster is degenerated but they’ve had a lot injuries and their farm system has not produced. They have to strengthen it. They tried every guy in AAA they have except home run hitting Chris Shaw. They’ll see him in the September call ups I assume. He’s only been in the organization two years. Only Slater and Jones have produced. Now they know what they have in AAA. And it’s not much.

    Listen to the ex-player media commentators on the Giants payroll. Every game the Giants lose is a fluke. Bad umpires, bad field conditions, bad schedules, injuries. One excuse after another, and no criticism of how this franchise has been run into the ground.

    As far as player injuries, the San Francisco Giants are only in the middle of all 30 2017 MLB teams in terms of injuries. So that lame excuse is out. And their farm system is just terrible.

    You know the name “Chris Shaw”, but Shaw isn’t even in the top 100 MLB prospects. Any other names– Slater, Jones, etc.– are players that wouldn’t even be in most other teams’ farm systems. The Giants minor league system and their poor player drafting system is a huge part of the problem.

    Their roster isn’t that horrible. It would be deeper if the team had less injuries. If Posey, Belt, and Slater were healthy, the roster would be better. Hundley has been a solid backup for Buster. He’ll make the roster next year. Pablo will probably start next year. Tomlinson is their best pinch hitter averaging 333. Parker is a dangerous hitter. Stratton may make the rotation next year. All those guys were signed on the cheap.

    Again, stop trying to save money for the billionaires who own the San Francisco Giants. They’re doing OK, and don’t need you to help them make more money.

    I agree with you about Nick Hundley. I really liked the Hundley signing– he is exactly the kind of player a winning team needs on its bench. Good defensively, good hitter. And Kelby Tomlinson is one of my favorite Giant players– young, smart, and talented. Either starting at second or on the bench, I like him a lot.

    Jarrett Parker is a 29 year old “rookie” who is a product of the Giants flawed farm system. He’s only dangerous if he accidentally loses his bat when he swings at strike three.

    I’m not happy about this team any more than any true fan is. They’ll just get a home run hitter and start him in left. And they’ll hope that Pence, Craw, Span, and Belt come to their mean career batting averages. If they do, they’ll be more than competitive. They can’t ignore hitting anymore.

    For the record here is Brandon Crawford’s career stats: he has a .708 OPS and a .250 batting average. So if Crawford gets back to his “mean career batting average” he will be less than MLB league average.

    Hunter Pence will be 35 years old in 2018. Denard Span can’t throw the ball from center field to second base. Why should Giants fans settle for these kinds of under-performing players?

    We certainly agree that this team needs an huge offensive overhaul.

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  4. While Rich has thoroughly dissected the most relevant parts of Steve’s response it was quite interesting to hear the thoughts of a truly loyal Giants fan ( wherever they happened to lead ). Regardless of further outcome the Giants recent record speaks for itself. The team owners and management are very wealthy intelligent people. While Baer and Sabean should be cut loose for the past 3 years and since they were not then ownership has its reasons ? The big reason: they are still making money !!! Lots and tons of it. The ballpark is paid for they have Mission Rock and other business interests at work. Money wags the tail. One of the only sad parts is Buster and Bum has to be subjected to playing with so many lower level talents after all they have contributed.

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  5. Richard – thanks for going through these points. Your responses are indicated with >>>>. And mine start with ****.

    Here’s another side to the Giants story.
    Every one of the 4 stats at the bottom of your article are offensive stats. (This is the same team – plus Melancon – who were three outs away from taking the Cubs to 5 games in the NLCS.) How do you fix it? You improve your hitting. You sign either Jay Bruce or Justin Upton at a reasonable price, keep Pablo at 3rd making minimum wage, and keep Belt at first. That will beef up their home runs. If Span, Pence, Belt, and Crawford revert back to the mean of the career averages, this mess will be fixed. Slater and Jones are there as slump insurance on Span and Belt. They won three World Series championships without hitting but now, they’ve hit a wall. They are 30 games under 500. You can’t blame that on pitching. They are 3rd in quality starts. They are 15th in team era.

    >>>>So you protest that these are only “offensive” stats. OK Here are the Giants pitching stats:
    –The Giants are 16th among MLB teams with a 1.40 WHIP; and a 4.51 ERA. Which is terrible. So, yes, I also blame the terrible pitching.
    ****Being middle of the ERA pack is OK. It’s a hell of a better than being last in home runs.

    >>>>As far as “Quality Starts”. As I noted in a previous blog, “Quality Starts” is a completely bogus stat. Because…
    1. By definition a QS is three earned runs in six innings, a 4.50 ERA. As many have pointed out before me, that would be a startling new definition of the word “quality”.
    2. If a starter pitches 9 innings and gives up 4 ER, that’s a 4.00 ERA. Which somehow doesn’t qualify as a QS!
    3. In 2011 writer John Dewan, of Bill James Online and co-creator of Baseball Info Solutions, looked at ten years of ballgames where the starting pitcher went exactly 6 IP with 3 ER. In those 2,118 games the quality start team’s winning percentage was under .500.
    ****I think quality starts are important to a guy like Bochy. Who proved he can win one run games playing the matchups in the final 3 innings of a game.

    >>>>As far as keeping “Pablo at 3rd making minimum wage”, what does money have to do with offensive production?
    ****Nothing. A player can earn all the money in the world and not produce.

    >>>>It’s great that you’re concerned with how much the Giants pay for their players and overall payroll. After all, they are the richest ownership group in Major League Baseball. They have more worth than the Yankees and Dodgers ownership groups combined.
    ****I’m concerned with them being frugal so they can afford the next big fish down the road.
    They can’t ignore hitting anymore. Bruce Bochy has had to win without it for years. Why? The giants build their teams around pitching and defense. For them, hitting is an afterthought. They are 25th in batting average and dead last in home runs. And that’s why they are in the mess they are in. That’s OK. The team will tweak that philosophy and get a home run hitter (Bruce/Upton) in free agency. They’ll drop Cain and possibly Moore and save 22M of payroll. They won’t lose their prospects. They’ll be smart.

    >>>>1. The Giants don’t have any quality prospects to “save”. So saving them won’t be “smart”. If anyone would take them, dumping them would actually be smart.’
    ****They have to improve their farm system. They have to start by drafting hitter – lots of them. Their best home run hitter is ranked 25th in home runs (Shaw.) Their best average hitter is ranked 40th (Hwang.) They have to change their philosophy to include hitting.

    >>>>2. Getting “one home run hitter” won’t remotely improve this horrible offense. Two impact hitters wouldn’t save this offense.
    ****I think two home run hitters could possibly save this offense. You have to start with power. They are only 3 points lower in batting average compared to the 72 win Milwaukee Brewers. But they are last in home runs and OPS. They need some thump now.

    >>>>3. In the Matt Moore trade (a player who you would just “drop”) the Giants gave up Lucius Fox, their 4th best prospect who they paid $6 million to sign.
    ****He’s got 5 home runs and hitting 240 in two years of the minors. They overpaid. The kid is a bust.

    >>>>4. For championship teams, hitting should never be an “afterthought”.
    ****Oh, but it was for the giants in their title years. Andres Torres? Blanco. Aubrey Huff. Arron Rowand. Michael Morse. In 2010 the were ranked 15th in batting average, 2012 5th, 2014th 10th. They are now 25th in average and 30th in home runs. They need to draft hitters.
    They don’t have average players. They have average hitters.
    They can play defense. Crawford is the best shortstop in baseball. He and Panik are current gold glove winners. Belt is a fine defensive player – as is Jones – and Pence has shown range into triples alley. Pablo and Posey are fine defensive players. Gorkys has good range and can play all fields.

    >>>>OK, let’s have Gorkys Hernandez start in center field for 162 games in 2018. We both can agree that he would set some amazing new records if that happens.
    ****That’s not an option. Gorkys at best is a late inning defensive substitute. But he’s got Willy May’s range. He showed it the other day. Great CF.

    >>>>Hernandez can’t get his OPS to stay above .675, and to me his defense has been very rocky.
    Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval are part of the offensive problem: too many players on the bad side of 30, who no longer have the power, range or speed to be starters.
    ****They have plenty of range, the team steals enough bases – they are ranked 17th, Pablo and Pence have power, they just don’t hit enough home runs – yuks.

    >>>>I agree that Brandon Crawford is one of the game’s best shortstops. But the very best? Not hardly. Andrelton Simmons of the LA Angels, Carlos Correa of the Astros, and Francisco Lindor of Cleveland are the top three in the game right now.
    ****He’s good enough to put up with a 250 batting average. You have to have strong defense up the middle. Actually he’s finishing this dismal seen strong.

    But Crawford (241/250), Belt (241/268) , Pence (256/282), and Span (266/283) are all well off their career batting averages. Gorkys is hitting 265 now but started off very slow. Span had a slow start. Parker and Jones both have power but don’t hit for any average. Moncrief makes solid contact, is Bochy’s 9th inning pinch hitter, but is hitting 258.

    >>>>Then we agree. They all pretty much stink. The sad thing is the Giants have Denard Span for at least another year for $13 million. If you really want to keep him, adding the 2019 season will cost the Giants $21 million. What a bargain!”
    ****They have to pay Span – but they don’t have to start him. They could move Slater into his position. I wouldn’t worry about the range in center until the late innings. That’s when you call in Gorkys. But I would not sign Span in 2019. His hitting has been way to inconsistent – I’m not sure if he deserves to lead off. I remember when Boch put him down in the order. It pissed him off and he immediately started hitting, his defense has been inconsistent, and he doesn’t steal bases anymore.

    Horrible trades? Getting Moore for Duffy and an infielder who is now the Devil Ray’s 11th minor prospect makes for a horrible trade? How is trading a player who is now the 11th prospect in another team’s farm system a big loss? Duffy was a good player – very well liked buy the players and fans. But they had Nunez, Gillespie, and Tomlinson at that time. They were deep at 3rd. Jake Peavy was at the end of his career and Cain was pitching horribly. They needed to beef up their rotation. They wanted a young lefty. Moore had 17 wins in 2013. But so far, he has turned out to be a bust. He’s 4–12. He better pitch well in September or Stratton may take his job. That would save the giants 9M of payroll. Stratton had 20 strike out against the Nats and D Backs these past two weeks. His spin rate is ranked high in the league. The Nunez trade made sense. Pablo allowed them to make that trade. Again, they were deep at 3rd.

    >>>>A lot to cover here.
    1. Having Nunez, Gillaspie and Tomlinson is not being “deep” at third. None of them are MLB starters at third base.
    ****Nunez was definitely a starter. Gillaspie and Tomlinson can hit.

    >>>>2. All due respect, Moore having “17 wins” in 2013 is a ridiculous old school MLB stat. Pitcher “wins” have nothing to do with pitcher performance; they have everything to do with run scoring by the offense, bullpen performance, and the range of the fielders behind the pitcher.
    ****So Davies (MI), Grienke, Kershaw, Bauer (CLE), Sale, Arrieta, and DeGrom are just average pitchers with a great offense and outfield? You’re making this too complicated.

    >>>>3. But you’re willing to dump Moore even though you like him. Again, stop being concerned with how much money the Giants spend, and how much profit the ownership group gets at the end of each season. They’ve got the money-making part down cold.
    ****I don’t like Moore. Too many walks, hit batsman, bad location. Stratton is better I think – in the 5th spot. But he has to prove himself. I’m for keeping Moore as a long reliever and spot starter. Stratton could slump. Moore could get it back. He can do it. He pitched well against the Cubs in game 4 of the NLDS last year. He held down a tough hitting team under pressure that night. Maybe Moore needs more coaching. Rags is the guy who can do it. He helped Samardzija.

    Dyson was a role of the dice that came up big for the Giants. (Based on tip from Buster. He caught Dyson in World Baseball.) They paid Dyson 3.5M. Frugal if you ask me. Pablo was another role of dice that came up big. He was a 95M dollar bust for the Red Sox who started producing as soon as he put on the orange and black. They got both Dyson and Pablo on the cheap. There’s nothing wrong with saving money.

    >>>>Of course, in this age of ubiquitous media no one knew anything about Sam Dyson. Only Buster Posey knew the “secret” that Dyson was a really great reliever.
    Despite the fact that Dyson’s combined 2017 WHIP with Texas and SF is 1.756, and his combined ERA is 5.40. Are things so bad for the Giants that they have make stuff up to try and make the fans happy about this mess?
    ****I don’t follow you. His era in Texas was over 10. Yet, Buster still believed in him after catching him in World Baseball. It only cost the giants 3M to test Buster’s belief. As usual, Buster was right. You realize, that players get hold and cold. It happened to Pablo. I think Pablo will have a big year next year.

    Samardzija is leading the league in fewest walks given up. He’s a flat out stud these days. They got him not only because he pitched a lot of innings, had good velocity, but because he would pitch in a pitcher friendly park, and be coached by Dave Righetti. They signed him for 90M over 5 years. Greinke signed for 206M over 6 years. Greinke has 6 more wins than Samardzija. That’s over 2M a win.

    >>>>Back to pitcher “wins” to define individual pitcher performance. It’s not just “old school” any more, it’s embarrassing.
    So here’s what “flat out stud” Jeff Samardzija has done as a Giants pitcher at their pitcher-friendly park: 59 starts with a 4.10 ERA. Truly, a new definition of “flat out stud”.
    ****Any playoff team right now would take him. He’s pitching well lately. He’s averaged giving up less than 3 runs his last 9 starts. He’s 2nd in innings pitched and 10th in Ks. He’s a rock. Rags has made him a better pitcher.

    Melancon has been hurt most the year. He’s now pitching the 8th and not bitching about it. Dyson took over Melancon’s spot while he was out. Dyson worked himself up the bullpen latter. Bochy wasn’t going to give Melancon Dyson’s job after Melancon missed three months. It didn’t matter what was in Melancon’s contract.

    >>>>Melancon doesn’t give a whit about what team he’s on. He just wants to be in old school “save” situations so he can improve his old school stats for his next contract.
    Question: why do Giants fans jump on less than average player bandwagons like Sam Dyson– players they never heard of before but all of a sudden they think these players are just awesome?
    ****They’ll jump on any player’s bandwagon when they deliver, for as long as they deliver. It’s a desperate search for productive ball players. When that players fails, he’ll lose his spot. The players know that. It’s big business. The team is worth 2.6B. Dyson’s numbers rigtht now are very strong: 12 saves, 1 blown save.

    The local media give the giants a walk? Every one of them speaks their minds.
    Yes their roster is degenerated but they’ve had a lot injuries and their farm system has not produced. They have to strengthen it. They tried every guy in AAA they have except home run hitting Chris Shaw. They’ll see him in the September call ups I assume. He’s only been in the organization two years. Only Slater and Jones have produced. Now they know what they have in AAA. And it’s not much.

    >>>>Listen to the ex-player media commentators on the Giants payroll. Every game the Giants lose is a fluke. Bad umpires, bad field conditions, bad schedules, injuries. One excuse after another, and no criticism of how this franchise has been run into the ground.
    ****I don’t buy it. I don’t hear Rich Aurilla or Sean Estes or Flannery or Kruk or Kipe not criticize the team when they screw up. They are supportive but critical when they need to be. They got to be subtle when they criticize the team. That they can do.

    >>>>As far as player injuries, the San Francisco Giants are only in the middle of all 30 2017 MLB teams in terms of injuries. So that lame excuse is out. And their farm system is just terrible.
    ****I’m having a hard time researching the injury situation. The Giants have had a truck load. They do every year. They have terrible luck with it. The one exception being 2010. Right now, on the MLB injury list, they just have the current guys on DL. They don’t have guys who have missed time over the season. That list goes on and on: Panik, Craw, Span, Slater, Bumgarner, Cueto, Melancon, and Arroyo. But it’s no excuse. You have to have depth. That’s why you need a good farm team.

    >>>>You know the name “Chris Shaw”, but Shaw isn’t even in the top 100 MLB prospects. Any other names– Slater, Jones, etc.– are players that wouldn’t even be in most other teams’ farm systems. The Giants minor league system and their poor player drafting system is a huge part of the problem.
    ****We’ll see what Chris Shaw can do in September. Slater is hitting 290. I don’t care what lists they are or are not in.

    Their roster isn’t that horrible. It would be deeper if the team had less injuries. If Posey, Belt, and Slater were healthy, the roster would be better. Hundley has been a solid backup for Buster. He’ll make the roster next year. Pablo will probably start next year. Tomlinson is their best pinch hitter averaging 333. Parker is a dangerous hitter. Stratton may make the rotation next year. All those guys were signed on the cheap.

    >>>>Again, stop trying to save money for the billionaires who own the San Francisco Giants. They’re doing OK, and don’t need you to help them make more money.
    Who are you talking about? Stanton?????? 280M?
    I agree with you about Nick Hundley. I really liked the Hundley signing– he is exactly the kind of player a winning team needs on its bench. Good defensively, good hitter. And Kelby Tomlinson is one of my favorite Giant players– young, smart, and talented. Either starting at second or on the bench, I like him a lot.
    ****Nunez was a good signing. So was Pablo. Melancon, Samardzija, Cueto were all good signings. The Giants have more talent now than they did during the championship years. It’s crazy I know. They got to get more power.

    >>>>Jarrett Parker is a 29 year old “rookie” who is a product of the Giants flawed farm system. He’s only dangerous if he accidentally loses his bat when he swings at strike three.
    ****Funny. He can hit a ball a long way. But he doesn’t do it often enough.
    I’m not happy about this team any more than any true fan is. They’ll just get a home run hitter and start him in left. And they’ll hope that Pence, Craw, Span, and Belt come to their mean career batting averages. If they do, they’ll be more than competitive. They can’t ignore hitting anymore.

    >>>>For the record here is Brandon Crawford’s career stats: he has a .708 OPS and a .250 batting average. So if Crawford gets back to his “mean career batting average” he will be less than MLB league average.
    ****You need to be strong up the middle defensively. Besides, Craw is hitting right now – for power and average.

    >>>>Hunter Pence will be 35 years old in 2018. Denard Span can’t throw the ball from center field to second base. Why should Giants fans settle for these kinds of under-performing players?
    ****The Giants fans shouldn’t settle for anything short of a playoff team. Pence and Span hit for just about the same average as does Puig and Bellinger ( 260 vs 263.) What they aren’t doing is hitting home runs (60 vs 21.) They haven’t drafted for home run hitters enough. They thought they could win on pitching and defense. They have. But now, they have become a last place team because they have no power.

    >>>>We certainly agree that this team needs an huge offensive overhaul.
    ****Agreed. They should start with power – as much as possible. But it won’t be easy. The owners will have to pay big for a slugger or two.

    Like

    1. SRA–
      Thanks for taking the time to do a thorough, albeit lengthy, response to my piece. I realize that long comments and long answers probably don’t engage people, but I appreciate the time, thought and effort you put in. (I’ll probably limit extra long comments/responses in the future.)

      Without dragging this on forever, I basically disagree that a getting couple of “real good” hitters will change anything for San Francisco. Their problems are systemic and deep and it will take more than throwing money at a couple of players to turn this around.

      And that’s the real problem. It’s going to take being really smart: not about how much they spend, but how it’s spent; about fixing a terrible farm system; and about an endless number of critical decisions that need to be made.

      This is just not a smart front office group. Nothing they’ve done in the past four years has been dynamic or impactful. In fact, it’s been just the opposite– things have gotten much worse.

      Eight years ago when the Giants plan was to win with pitching and defense, and just get by on hitting, other teams were already in the process of dumping that old school approach and moving to a “total team” concept. Exceptional hitting and pitching, backed up by a productive farm system continually feeding real talent into the mix.

      Let’s both hope the Giants wake up. It’s such a shame that they didn’t built a championship organization as a follow-up to that wonderful 2010 Series win.

      Like

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