Saturday, December 20, 2014

Your 2015 Giants: Giants Trade for 3B Casey McGeHee

Pavlovic reported that the Giants traded for 3B Casey McGehee ("mc-gee") for two minor leaguers:
Casey McGehee is headed to the Giants in exchange for minor league right-handers Kendry Flores and Luis Castillo. ...  it’s a pretty low-risk move. After rumors earlier in the day that the Giants were giving up Hunter Strickland or Matt Duffy, they ended up shipping out two pitchers who are not top prospects. 
McGehee was a league-average hitter last year by OPS+ (he was at 99) and he dropped off big time in the second half, but he still finished with a .355 OBP last season, he’ll come relatively cheap ($3.5 million in arbitration is the MLB Trade Rumors estimate) and he has a great nickname (Hits McGehee). 
MLBTR also had a good account at their site.  It noted his journey to Japan in 2013 and his second half falter.

ogc thoughts

I would not have been happy if we lost Strickland or Duffy, not happy at all.  I was a little shocked that Flores got shipped, as I liked him, and he has a high K/9 and great K/BB, but I trust the Brian Trust on the Giants to not ship off players who will turn out to be great (average maybe, but not great).  Still, only 22 YO, 9.5 K/9 and 3.50 K/BB in Advanced A ball.  I guess I have some bias, as I noticed him a couple of years ago while checking the minors.

I like McGeHee, partly because he's a local kid (born in Santa Cruz and went to school at Soquel).  If he can hit like he did in 2014, then he's a good addition, but if anything like 2011-2012, then no so good.  How someone can go from hitting 23 HR in 2010, in a full season, to only 4 HR in 2014 in a full season, I'm not sure.   Of course, he could have peaked early, had his prime season when he was 26-27 YO, it does vary, and some studies suggest that physical peak does come early, not around 28-30 as some other studies suggest.

But he has a good contact rate and a good walk rate, so at minimum, with good peripherals like that, I believe that he's a good hitter who can get on base a lot.  That's valuable almost anywhere in the lineup.  And with his high GDP numbers, maybe he should be batting 8th, where the pitcher can sacrifice him to second, and then the top of the lineup can work to get him in.

It was mentioned in the article that McGehee had a big second half falter.  Looking at his stats, it looks like he had a very high LD% all season long, which helped with his resurgence in the first half, but then apparently the line drives and balls weren't falling in for the second half, leading to a BABIP of .306 from July to September, and a batting line of .265/.332/.328/.660.  Unfortunately, we don't know if the second half was simply a regression to the mean from the first half, or a regression to his prior poor performances.

Still, there are still some positives to see here, a risk/reward type of situation.  At worse, he has opposite platoon numbers, with a better average vs. RHP, so perhaps the Giants are seeing a platoon situation here with Arias taking the LHP AB's.   Defensively, he's not all that good at 3B (he hasn't really played enough at 1B or 2B to judge, but he's been average there), so it could be situation where Arias comes in late games for defensive purposes.  If he can hit like he did last season, then that's a bonus.

Perhaps the Giants think they can "fix" him.  I looked into his stats and the difference between him early in his career and now is that back then, he could hit LHP, which only makes sense, he's right-handed.  Perhaps he needs some tweaking of his mechanics so that he can start taking advantage of his righty-lefty advantage once again.  That's risk reward too.

I would have been happier letting Adrianza and Duffy fight to win the starting role at 3B, but I guess now Ehire's on the bench and Duffy will start in AAA.  And if he can hit close to what he did in 2014, then that is good enough production.  And at worse, he only costs around $3.5M (arb yet to be determined), and then Adrianza and/or Duffy get their chances at starting at 3B, much like Adrianza got a chance at 2B in 2014.  And this is a typical Sabean move, get a vet to see if they can get a bounce-back type of year, but if not, then the young guys get their chance.

Now lets see what they do about LF, if anything.  Appears that the shopping is almost done.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Your 2015 Giants: Peavy Pickup for 2 Years, $24M

It as been reported that Jake Peavy re-signed with the Giants for 2 years, $24M.  No mention of incentives or bonuses.  Breakdown is $4M signing bonus, $7M in 2015, $13M in 2016, so there is some back loading there, plus some accounting stuff with the signing bonus (probably yields some advantage given how the MLB accounts for payroll for the luxury tax, would be my guess).

ogc thoughts

I had been previously not for re-signing Peavy, because of his problems in the post-season and my expectations on what he would be asking for (he was getting $14-15M in last contract and might want 3+ years).

But at $12M AAV and only two years, I can live with his limitations, as you can't make the playoffs without winning during the regular season, and he seems to be good at pitching very well in the regular season.  He had extreme problems pitching on the road for Boston, for whatever reasons, and hopefully it was the NL parks he grew up in as a major leaguer that made him comfortable with us, as well as having his buddy Bochy around as manager, and new buddies Bumgarner and Hudson around.

And assuming Bumgarner's arm is OK and ready for another run, Cain's body is as healthy as reported and ready to return to prior goodness, and Lincecum will get the mechanical guidance from his father that will keep him from going off the reservation too often and returning him back to the straight and narrow faster when he does, one could expect the final playoff rotation spot to be a battle between Hudson and Peavy  (or probably Lincecum, Hudson, Peavy battling for two spots, as I'm only hoping that Lincecum can deliver a season much like Hudson regularly delivers, a mid-to-high 3 ERA season).

Peavy is Fine as Mid to Back of Rotation Guy

For me, Peavy is fine as a mid to back of playoff rotation starter, better than having Dirty as our 4th in 2010, better than having Zito as our 4th in 2012 (though Zito pitched much much better than a 4th, so good for him and for us).  He's never had a DOM start in the playoffs, but have put together some decent starts, willing his way to OK results on occasion.

Plus, maybe he'll finally put it together for us in the playoffs by being our #4 instead of #2, as he was in this year's playoffs, less pressure and all that.  Plus, players can get better, Hudson actually had a spotty playoff record until this season, but whereas before he was the ace of the staff, for us he was back of rotation.   Playoff pressure is a much higher level of difficulty for major leaguers to get over and adjusted to.

The key things for me was his great DOM% and low DIS% (PQS metrics) during the last few years, and those were why I wanted him back in the first place.  His poor ERAs in spite of the good DOM% and low DIS% suggest that he suffered from a lot of bad luck in recent seasons, relative to his peripherals.  People point out the good luck with the Giants, but that could be regression to the mean relative to before.  He has averaged roughly 70% DOM (which is an elite level) and 11% DIS (which is very good), which should lead to really good seasons for any pitcher, and if he can do that for the Giants, I would be very happy.

Of course, there are (just like for FIP and other advanced metrics) who despite showing the best peripherals, don't get the results expected.  And maybe he is one of those.   But still, his 2012 season and his 2014 season with the Giants give me a lot of hope and expectation that he can still pitch at an elite enough level for us.  Again, got to win enough games during the regular season before we can worry about the playoff rotation.

Vogie Gone?

No word on what this does to Vogelsong, but my gut tells me that this is good-bye to a good Giant.   We don't have any space in our rotation or bullpen currently.

Evans did say in an interview that the Giants are still open to signing another starting pitcher, even though technically they have a full rotation with Bumgarner, Cain, Hudson, Lincecum, and now Peavy.  Most speculation seems to revolve around getting Shields, but I don't really see any chance of the Giants signing any good starting pitchers to the rotation, but they might pick up someone whom nobody else wants (Vogie?) for a low price as SP insurance (much like how LA has been doing it the past few seasons), though there is no space in the bullpen for such a tactic right now, unless they move Machi or Kontos.

If he has pitched his last, and it appears to strongly be so, then I want to thank him for all the great performances and for making the effort to return home and do well for us, I think all Giants fans will always be grateful for his loyalty to the team and for entertaining us with his great starts over the past few years.  I wish him all the best (except against the Giants, natch :).

Me Likey Rotation

If this is our set rotation, I like it.  There is some risk with all of the starters, but really, to my mind, nothing more than any other rotation.  TINSTAAPP rules the day, mostly, pitchers are fragile.
  • Bumgarner I think should be better in 2015 than 2014, for as good as his 2014 was, he actually started the season struggling, perhaps because he was trying to be the ace (his PQS was great in 2013, but his peripherals were even better in 2014).  
  • Cain has not been Cainer since his Perfecto in 2013.  And it turns out that he's been compensating for the chips in his elbow and ache in his ankle for years now.  With both healthy now, I don't see why he can't return to his prior goodness of 2011-2012, if not better at some point.
  • Hudson had a Hudson type of year.  Look at his career, look at his season by season numbers, he is like a machine.  I don't care how old he is, he does not rely on velocity to strike out guys, as long as he is healthy, he's going to get MLB batters out.   And with Petit around, if his hip is achy again, hopefully the Giants just DL him to get him healthy faster (plus less stress on his body), put Petit in the rotation for 2-3 starts so that he can prepare well for each start and do well.  
  • Lincecum is the biggest question mark but here is what I see.  Every year he struggles, but every year he has a period where he's as good as he's ever been.  You don't do that if your velocity is that low and bad now (as some speculates), your velocity can't suddenly be good after being bad during a season, without mechanical changes, and the record shows, in any case, his velocity to be steadily dropping and thus is not the reason he is suddenly good again.   You don't strike out around 9 per 9 innings without having your stuff still.  Last year he had a hiccup early, but ended it relatively quickly, and was one of our best starters throughout much of the middle of the season.  He had a good 3.65 ERA when he sacrificed his routine to save that long extra-inning game, and given that he was crappy afterward, he did something bad to his mechanics by doing that save appearance.  So I expect his Dad's major contributions to be two fold:  helping him to keep his mechanics in good shape so that he pitches well (he has reportedly stated that listening to Tim's starts enables him to know what Tim is doing wrong with his mechanics), and helping him to get out of his longer funks sooner than later.
  • Peavy, in spite of the shortened seasons on his record (injuries generally do hell to your PQS and DOM%/DIS% before you are finally DLed), probably has the best DOM% of the rotation over the past 6 seasons, and he continued that while he was with the Giants.  This is why I wanted him so badly for the rotation until I learned about his poor record in the playoffs then he continued to do poorly, which drove me to not want him anymore.   I'll admit to over reaction during the playoffs, in the heat of the battle.  Now, especially with the Lincecum revelation of him not working with his Dad since the 2009 season, I feel good enough about the rest of the rotation that I welcome Peavy back into the Giants fold.  
Then, there is Petit as backup.  I see a lot of people dissing Petit as a SP, but as I've noted here a number of times, his poor starts were when he was suddenly the emergency starter with no time to prepare much before the game.  When he has been actually placed into the rotation and allowed to act like a regular starting pitcher, his PQS has been very good, more than good enough for the Giants rotation, good enough to be the ace for many a team, and any team would be happy to have a SP with his DOM% pitching for them:  in 13 starts between 2013 and 2014 where he was placed in the rotation, 8 DOM and 2 DIS = 62% DOM/15% DIS.

Most teams would be happy to have a #3 starter with those stats.  We have one as our long reliever.  Now THAT is depth, nothing like the Dodgers, who had a lot of starting pitchers lined up, but guys like Maholm who are at best back of rotation starters.

I think a lot of people don't understand the concept of depth.  Just having a pitcher ready to step in is not depth to me.  Depth is being able to bring in someone and the rotation does not skip much of a beat with the change.  Teams rarely have that, but we had it with Bumgarner in 2010, Vogelsong in 2011, and now Petit the past couple of seasons.  Maholm allowed the Dodgers to limp along in the rotation, but he was no depth when Kershaw or Ryu were out, not even close.  And when the Giants needed a replacement starter, they were able to trade for one in Peavy, who was much better replacement starter than Maholm.  That's not always possible to pull off, but, again, having a Maholm stashed away don't make it a good thing either.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Your 2015 Giants: Romo Rolling Home, Signs with Giants

Per MLBTR, where I linked to their photo above (just seems appropriate for this post), he signed for 2 years, $15M, with some incentives, up to $1M based on games finished (in case he becomes closer again, I assume).

ogc thoughts

Wow, did not see that coming.  Thought for sure that he was going down to LA, which I assume his family - still die-hard Bridegroom fans - has been getting on him to do.  Plus there was the Colletti-Giants connection, though that part died the moment Sheriff Ned got bounced upstairs.  That's why I've not mentioned him much, other than that the Giants still professed interest.

Honestly, I thought that he was gone.  Giants typically get their guys signed quickly, and when not, the players are usually pretty open about wanting to return but wanting to test out the free agent waters.  Romo didn't say anything about wanting to return, that I saw.  Plus, being a closer was something I knew that was important to him, and thus I also assumed that he wanted to get a closer's job somewhere than be a set-up guy here.  Or at least get closer-like money.

And perhaps he did, but after all this time and the Winter Meetings over, perhaps there weren't any interested in him being their closer or at closer money, and if he's going to be a set-up guy anywhere, why not return to where he's loved, respected, and comfortable?  And the Giants typically pay well to boot, and they did, going above what they had paid to Casilla and Affeldt previously.

Feeling Good

Overall, I'm happy.  It probably means Strickland will be pitching in AAA in 2015 - I assume Kontos, barring a horrible spring, got the Gutierrez (and last) spot in the bullpen - and I was kind of looking forward to how he does.  But it really makes our bullpen strong in that there are a lot of good to great duplicate pieces in Casilla, Affeldt, and Romo, each with their own skills and strong points, and gives Bochy the luxury of going to another one quickly if one should happen to have a bad appearance.   Plus as healthy as Romo has been in his career, his elbow has always been achy and could breaky at some point.

Plus, now Strickland can be in reserve in AAA in case anything happens to the Big Three of Casilla, Affeldt, Romo, particularly since they are all on the bad side of 30 and getting older, as our bullpen is getting on the old side.  He would also get more experience as the closer in Sacramento.  And perhaps upgrade our bullpen should we make the playoffs again, taking over for Machi perhaps or the 5th starter, as the case goes.

Now the bullpen is Casilla, Affeldt, Romo, Lopez, Machi, Petit, and probably Kontos, though perhaps Strickland (Kontos has no more options and would be lost, though, if he were not on our 25-man, and he's been good enough that I don't think the Giants would do that, trade him).

I'm also happy because I think that Romo is a good guy with a good head on his shoulder.  I can still remember the interview he gave to CSNBA the year he came up, he earned a fan for life at that point (unless, of course, he ends up being a Bridegroom).   And the Giants bullpen has been deadly in the playoffs with them.

BWeez Begone

Brian Wilson was just DFAed by the Bridegrooms, $9.5M thrown away.  I wonder if his crazed historonics with the Giants prevent his return here.  Then again, he'll probably want to live closer to home and perhaps join the up and coming Padres, who can face both the Giants and Dodgers.


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