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Had to laugh at "All those things are technically true...". Bravo.
I'm just a caveman -- confused and frightened by your data science -- but isn't the better next-season performance of teams closer to contention simply indicative of GMs investing in their (perceived) window of opportunity? And conversely, teams farther away blowing it all up?
I never realized that Mitchell was slashing that kind of line pre-trade. Sabean has got his flaws but trade science isn't one if them -- the man is a straight-up bazaar swindler.
In recent years, BP's articles -- which is to say the insights, prose, and wit of its editorial staff -- have become a bigger draw for me than PECOTA. I'm obviously all for the process review and (presumed) improvements in your core analytical offerings, but let me take this moment to congratulate everyone at BP on a site that is delightful and thought-provoking far beyond the projections arms race.
85 is exactly what I guessed, so bully for me. And my rationale was simply: there's a solid starter at every position somewhere in the minors, plus a few 1.0+ WAR relievers who help more than you realize. Added up to slightly better than .500 proposition in my mind.
Your caveat about early-spring velocity is well taken, but the Kickham data aligns right-on with his scouting report.
I'll take the over on Melky. Even at a .285 BABIP he's been a more valuable player than PECOTA projects. He's good for 2.0 WAR.
"the Bourn addition" sounds like the next in the spy-movie series.
Genius. (Not a word I use often.)
Kudos to Matthew Kory for the existential mini-treatise on Cook.
Dynamite. I'd read another 300 pages of this, and I say this as a publisher. Get it done, Mr. Curto.
"...a Tenderloin..." Nice. SF toasts your poetry.
Bear in mind that a big part of the Giants' stand-pat "strategy" is forced upon them by dead-weight contracts.
Special award to the ballplayer with the most rap songs bearing his name as the full song title: Barry Bonds, with three, including cuts by Kanye and Drake.
This is fascinating work and begs the question: What *do* we know about the "injury nexus" for pitching? Surely some MLB teams have got competitive advantages here. (TB comes to mind, as usual.)
If Brian Wilson collects 30 saves somewhere, he'll win the award in a shoo-in.
Correction: Nats surrender 1-30. It's a difference of two picks.
Yeah, but that's a difference of three picks. Nats surrender 1-29, Yankees gain 1-32 (supplemental). That's a huge score for Cashman.
Giving Mark Reynolds 19 steal attempts is like ordering Pickett's Charge.
This is the first projection I've seen of Beckham as a potential 2-win player. Tampa's shortstop moves this offseason read more like a comprehensive kicking-to-the-curb.
I'm guessing the design credit for Chez Papelbon goes mainly to wife Ashley.
Colletti to L.A. is the best (and likely to be the longest-sustained) strategic shift the Giants have made in the NL West.
Let's not forgot the massive advantage to SF's broadcasting team, which should net the Giants at least +3 runs.
I dunno, certain metrics peg Sandoval as an elite defender. Defense truly is the dark continent of stats.
I had the same reaction to last night's x-mo cameraman, who really ought to be working for Michael Mann instead of Fox Sports.
Cain loves Darling like a rose loves the rainwater. Nice edge for his gameplan going in.
I'll be curious to see where Brandon Belt shakes out on next year's list.
Jay, I've really appreciated your work here and will greatly look forward to "Hit and Run." Best of luck on the new project.
Is Bauer at his ceiling already? No. 3, borderline No. 2 without much chance for progression beyond?
Kevin, when you ran the Padres list originally, I wondered where you'd eventually rank the organization and guessed mid-pack due to your lack of enthusiasm for the upside there. Meanwhile, I was thinking they were a top 5 system for major-league depth. Really interesting to see you ultimately slotted them on top.
Excellent article, Bradford. Keep these coming.
The website (and annuals) took great strides forward under Steven's stewardship -- best of luck to him at Bleacher Report. The pipeline of writing talent at BP is really exciting, so I've got zero concern for the brand's future. Everyone keep up the amazing work.
Love this format, love these writers. More, please.
Strasburg's ruled out for the playoffs even if they make it? I find that impossible to believe.
It seems pretty clear that the A's believe San Jose is a done deal. (Or done-ish, at the very least.) it will be extremely interesting to check in on Beane again in 3-4 years, with a stadium, a fan base, corporate/suite revenue streams, and a maturing crop of excellent prospects acquired this offseason.
This website is taking conceptual leaps that I fully applaud.
The only thing scarier than the Giants' infield Killers are the "remedies." Sabean has (characteristically) done nothing to upgrade this offense. How long, O Lord, how long?
Give credit where it's due on TOOTBLAN, which has been bouncing around Cardinals blogs for a while (and, indeed, was coined specifically in regard to Mr. Theriot).
I'm amazed that Darvish doesn't simply punt back to NPB for one more year and then hit MLB free agency next offseason as a 26-year-old, utterly unrestricted free agent ace. He'd double his initial payday, and still have a go at another mega-contract later (assuming he signed a five-year deal upon coming over). The math seems easy to me.
Has there ever been a satisfactory explanation for Marte's colossal bust? BP had me waiting for him like a cultist waiting for Hale-Bopp.
My eye was drawn to the array of little flags on the desk...there should be a Red Cross flag among them.
Five champagne showers? Division title, LDS, LCS, World Series....am I missing a celebration?
I'll be curious to see how you rank this system against others -- sounds like there could be eight or nine solid major-leaguers in SD's system, which I'd probably wager is a higher long-term WAR proposition than some flashier systems that have a couple crown-jewel pieces but little else behind those.
You're a fine writer, and a major credit to this website.
An absolutely wonderful essay, Steven. I was reflecting the other day on the transient nature of success in fantasy baseball when I gazed at my league-winning team of 2002 and saw the likes of Phil Nevin, Eric Gagne, and Rich Aurilia represented. Sic transit gloria.
Awfully nice sentiment re: Matt Stairs. One gets the impression that he will relish his Crash Davis-esque stature as a pinch-hitting titan...and good for him.
Yeah, but is Joe Panik going to make this equivalent list in a few years?
Percentage chance that Joe Ross makes it to the Giants? 50-50?
I speak as a third-generation Giants fan when I say that Sabean has said something really regrettable here. Almost dumbfounding, actually...particularly in the wake of the Bryan Stow tragedy.
Billy Beane is treading a much better path, by publicly instructing Kurt Suzuki to avoid collisions.
As the rappers say, "don't hate the player, hate the game."
Like any other thinking Giants fan, I've spent this off-season in a state of deep, near-monastic contemplation about The Meaning of The Championship. And I came to a somewhat similar conclusion as this essay's. It all boils down to that scene in any blockbuster action movie where the bumbling team member finally redeems himself by deploying a hidden talent to save the day when it was least expected.
As in, there's a nuke with a ticking timer and it's sealed behind an impregnable vault door, and all of our heroes are helpless and it looks like San Francisco is completely doomed. And then, amazingly, it turns out that the team's least-capable member -- the guy the audience can barely believe is allowed to be part of this squad -- KNOWS HOW TO HACK A VAULT-CONTROL COMPUTER.
Sabean, the dismal strategist, is a strong in-season tactician and in 2010 that was the skill that mattered. His moves over the late summer were Kasparov-like, minor tweaks in isolation that amounted to a division-stealing flanking maneuver in the aggregate.
I'd still cashier Sabean for any of a dozen progressive Assistant GMs around the game. But I will go to my grave giving the man his due -- when fate put the Giants into a car chase for the highest stakes, his was an inspired hand on the steering wheel.
Great to see your name pop up on BP, Grant. McCovey Chronicles is the indispensable blog.
Sabean's decision to hold Posey in the minors so long nearly cost the Giants their playoff spot. Hopefully they won't repeat the mistake with Belt. They need this bat in the big-league lineup -- to hell with arb-clock management, there's a world title to defend.
There's a much-larger-than-zero chance that Zito has already thrown his last big-league pitch for the Giants. They don't need to run a guy out there tossing 86 mph without any control. I won't be at all surprised if SF takes advantage of its World Series credibility with fans and eats the rest of that contract.
Britton ended up much higher on this list than on any other I've seen. Hail to the sinker, baby.
Honestly surprised at how good the Giants look here, and that's coming from an overjoyed Market Street parade attendee.
"...converting Lohse into baseball's most expensive fifth starter."
I think you forgot a certain Barry Zito of San Francisco, CA, who has a death-grip on this dubious honor.
The biggest single concern has got to be the paucity of regulars developed via the draft. Never mind Jeremy Brown -- how about first-rounders Bobby Crosby, Travis Buck, and Landon Powell? It's being generous to say the jury's still out on Cliff Pennington, who is looking decidely like a nine-hole hitter on a sub-.500 team.
Coughing up the MVP-caliber Carlos Gonzalez didn't help matters, either.
I have to chuckle at teams modeling themselves after the Giants. The Giants needed the Padres to drop 10 games in a row in September and then needed a win over those Padres in the final game of the regular season to avoid a play-in. The Giants eked out a postseason berth, and got hot in October. They're not a championship template...particularly considering the $30 million in combined Zito/Rowand salaries that essentially sat and chewed sunflower seeds for the entire playoff run.
Corey Brown's departure from Oakland is a bit rankling for this A's follower. I doubt he's much of a blip on KG's radar, but he looks like an appreciable loss -- and all the more so after Grant Desme's disappearance from the system in a poof of golden light.
I'm typically the last with any kind words for Colletti's regime, but I share the admiration for his rotation-building this winter...though the poker player in me wonders whether all of the NL West's GMs, in loading up on pitching, are missing the same trick of adding an impact bat to shake up the "all arms all the time" calculus of the division.
Boras clients have a demonstrable tendency to sign wherever the biggest money appears. (Werth to Washington, anyone?) If the A's present the winning bid, Beltre will don the green-and-gold in 2011. As a sweetener, Beltre has shown he's very comfortable on the left coast with prior stints in Seattle and L.A.
Which is why Beane ought to push chips forward and get him. The A's have the money. Beltre would be a mega-contract by Oakland standards, but not an outrageous one in the scheme of things. As Juice mentions above, the move is probably a net 8-win swing against one of your tougher division rivals. Spend, Billy, spend!
In any case, I don't mind Huff in RF -- he acquitted himself pretty well in his time out there. I'd gladly take the risk if it cleared way for anyone resembling a thumper at 1B.
Given SF's notoriously poor track record for graduating hitters to the bigs, I'm filing Belt in the "hopefully please maybe" category.
"A reasonable collection of moves," granted...but I can't help but be disappointed by the Giants' offseason. The division is so (re)winnable, and the offense so obviously screaming for a one more serious bat, that I can't help but wonder whether hitters' paranoia about AT&T Park prevented the signing of a Dunn/Lee type for a mid-lineup upgrade. (Though I suppose Lee might still be on the way, and would be a welcome sight.)
Am I the only one who thinks Jayson Werth is a better investment for this team than Crawford? Granted, speed ages well etc., but this lineup needs power and discipline, not to mention a defender who can handle the park's particularly tricky RF pasture. Bring Burrell back on a favorable deal and let him be okay-ish in LF. Huge net upgrade offensively and defensively.
"Alonso is more blocked than Finland in 1939." That's why I subscribe to this website.
My sentiments exactly. I think Sabean is referring (obliquely) to the drafting and development of Posey, but that's one good MLB hitter to show for over 10 years of drafting amateur hitters. It will be very easy to overcredit Sabean for this Series --- as overjoyed as I am by the result, it's painfully clear how many things broke right (and had to break right) for this to happen. Sabean essentially won the lotto.
An interesting defense, Eric. My argument for firing Moore next week comes down to his failure to arbitrage. Partially because KC enjoys the "advantage of time," the Royals are one of the very few clubs that stood to gain real benefits by acquiring talented "26th men" and giving them singular opportunities to reach their potential...the Fred Lewises and Kevin Correias of the world.
Instead, Moore filled those roster slots with the cast-off veteran dreck you've itemized in your essay. Young(ish) talent with (some) upside was freely available for those roster slots, and would have laid a much more interesting foundation for the minor-league graduates to join. This, to me, has been Moore's biggest failing.
Eric, It seems like it should be manageable for you BP rocket-scientists to devise a stat measuring a catcher's influence on overall opponent running game...i.e. a catch-all (excuse the pun) metric of steals attempted, steal success rate, bases advanced on loose balls, etc. No?
Hardly a definitive stat, but a pretty good indicator of "running game control."
Would Oakland's selection of Choice essentially replace the vanished Grant Desme?
"Buster Posey, 1B."
Leave it to the Giants to take one of the game's premier prospects at the rarest position of offensive contribution and instead make him...an average-ish first baseman.
Fair enough, I can live with that outcome.
Oh, and should've mentioned -- the List is one of my favorite BP nuggets. Keep up the great work, Jay.
My hunch is that, if anything, a sort of affirmative action might be getting underway in key markets with significant African-American or Latino populations. No club has come out and stated it, but the Marlins seem particularly attuned to the development and marketing of Latin players -- which would make perfect economic sense, given the makeup of the local populace. Jason Heyward is discussed in the most ambitious terms in Atlanta, not just as a force for winning ballgames but as a potential force for reinvigorating black audiences for baseball.
Will you be dividing the two leagues all season? I like having all 30 clubs on one Hit List.
Until May 26 or so, I can tolerate Posey in the minors on account of his Super Two potential. Starting around May 27, his continued absence from the SF lineup will be intolerable.
For the first time in a long time, my spidey sense is actually quiet. I think the Giants are fully prepared to make Molina a well-paid backup/mentor once June rolls around.
I think I speak for all Giants fans when I say---GAH!! Todd Wellemeyer is making starts while our "second Lincecum" tosses 86 mph in Fresno?
I know we're not supposed to worry much about who the fifth starter is, but, umm, this is a bit distressing.
Let me put forward a relevant definition of "the Moneyball philosophy": the constant, aggressive search for undervalued assets in the baseball talent market.
(This would be in clear opposition to the standard dismissal of the "philosophy" as being "draft college players with good OBPs.")
Lewis took a snapshot of the philosophy as it manifested itself in 2002. The constant, aggressive search for new value has moved Oakland down different (and superficially contradictory) roads than the specific one Lewis chronicled. In fact, I've often thought that Billy Beane, who reportedly regretted the spilling of his club's secrets in the book, has since come to hope that the book cost other franchises (Toronto?) years of competitiveness by following the 2002 Rules too persistently.
Scenario: Angel Villalona buys his way out of his troubles in the DR (restitution payment?), returns to organized play and hits like a man on the run from Death itself.
I like Rasmus' nonchalance in the face of Strasburg. Shades of Len Dykstra dismissing Steve Carlton's stuff without even knowing who he was watching warm up.
I'm curious about Bumgarner's red. The BP annual seems confident that his gas is going to return. What's the glide path usually look like for the "typical" fireballing young lefty who encounters a speed hiccup like this?
Can the Giants and A's launch a joint local cable network, with the Giants "exchanging" their territorial rights for a bigger piece of those TV revenues?
What do you make of Sacramento as a dark horse?
Abbamondi's concern is something I'd been wondering about recently --- I'm sure that a handful of MLB front offices are confident that they've already secretly figured out some proprietary defensive metrics that give them a huge advantage. If Field f/x essentially throws open the curtain to everybody, then all those investments fizzle in an instant.
I'm assuming that Bonds' ten-year "personal services contract" with the Giants is the same deal they've given Mays and McCovey, i.e. "sit in the press box every now and then and wave to the fans on the Jumbotron."
We're pretty much rearranging deck chairs, but your solution is fine so far as it goes. Bowker is the only one of these guys with any potential upside -- his minor-league results are pretty impressive -- so I'm all for parking him in left and letting the chips fall.
Agreed, Lewis is underrated in left -- but when he flubs a play it's truly horrific, and the memory stings long past the time when the objective metrics should be absolving him.
As per usual, Bochy and the front office will allow the results of meaningless sample sizes to make decisions for them. I'm guessing that at least three roster slots will be awarded on the basis of performance in the Cactus League.
Free Rickie Weeks? His 31.8 VORP projection looks even nicer after reading a paragraph about McGehee and Counsell.
I've been thinking along similar lines. Numbers (and acronyms) are broadcast death. Let's invent some slick visual representations that paint a story which:
A) Can be understood at a literal glance... and
B) Offer an inarguable truth that broadens the casual viewer's understanding.
No PECOTA card for Strasburg yet? I'm itching to see his comparables -- and expecting them to include a number of great-white shark-attack victims.
The Giles signing might mark a nadir of sorts in Ned Coletti's "character veteran" fetish. Giles is a 39-year-old wielding a wiffle bat. Every plate appearance at the MLB level will be another quiet nail in the Dodgers' coffin. It makes this Giants fan smile.
Where he belongs!
I was all for shipping Alderson for a bat, but not this bat.
What's a Walter Silva?
David Price isn't in the mix for Tampa's rotation? Wow.
Semi-obvious compromise: the Giants allow the move to SJ in exchange for Wolff's commitment to co-funding a two-team local baseball cable network of which the Giants earn the lion's share of profits.
Arizona is blessed and lucky to have such minds in its front office. The equivalent interview with my team's people would read more like, "We're looking for guys who make a different sound when the ball comes off their bat," etc.
There\'s more to say for the Looper signing than \"booby prize.\" Consider that just a year or two ago, a pitcher of his credentials would likely have cost a team $12 million per year on a multi-year deal. The economy-related corrections to the free-agent market have had the happy effect of obviating the kinds of contracts thrown at the Vicente Padillas and Adam Eatons in recent years. Milwaukee will get 30-ish starts from Looper for one-third the price that Texas will lavish on Padilla this year, which constitutes more than a small victory.
Christina, if you\'re still checking these comments, I just have to observe that Andy Marte was BP\'s pick for #1 among all prospects not too long ago. Has he really fallen to the point that he\'ll be waived by Cleveland and then *not* grabbed by anybody? Seems to me to be a horrid -- nay, catastrophic -- result for BP\'s #1 investment.
The Giants will be an embarrassment again in 2009, but consider the *other* Giants down the road at High-A San Jose --- by my estimation, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Angel Villalona, Tim Alderson, and Nick Noonan all playing for the same club. I might be down there more than at Mays Field.
P.S. I\'m not sure which is the more painful transcript, this interview or the Nixon Tapes.
I just feel that none of these thread comments have the fortitude necessary to be Hall of Fame comments. I just feel that they never rose to the occasion to win the big thread. Hall of Fame comments find a way to win those threads.
Terrific interview. I\'m dreaming of the day I can read similar comments from anyone in the San Francisco front office. This is like the Mariners showing up to the party with the hottest girl in town.
Now is the time to trade Jose Lopez. When the best remaining free agents on the 2B market are guys like Eckstein and Grudzielanek, Lopez actually starts to look like viable bait. The Branyan/Shelton platoon has got to be the plan for Seattle, who can probably coax something in return for Lopez as a reputed gloveman with offensive-breakout potential (however dim).
With holes at 2B and 3B that rate somewhere between gaping and interstellar, the Giants seem intent on dropping $10 million or more on relief pitching instead. Jeremy Affeldt and Bob Howry are already signed, and Derrick Turnbow won\'t come free. I hope Sabean is working on deals for Orlando Hudson and a body at third base warmer than Rich Aurilia\'s corpse, because if the Giants come away from this off-season without having upgraded these offensive basics, the relief corps won\'t have many leads to protect.
I agree -- as validating as this must feel for you (and for us), it\'s pretty much just business as usual for BP. It\'s *not* business as usual for the BBWAA, for which this really is a watershed moment.
I\'m proud of the BBWAA for its recognition that media is no longer a business of scarcity; as with so many other industries, the Internet has democratized it in wonderful ways. (The newspapers and magazines now enduring various stages of financial collapse are learning this the hardest way possible.) This realization feels obvious to a lot of people, but as I\'ve seen first-hand, the \"legacy media\" has been very slow to fully awaken to the fact. Credit is due the baseball writers who appreciated this inexorable reality and finally embraced it.
This is not a validation of \"the stathead revolution\" nearly so much as it\'s a validation of the plain truth that the Internet is at least as relevant a news source as the daily sports page, and within a generation the debate over its accreditation will look positively quaint.
That\'s a great concluding point about \"collusion.\" It\'s actually kind of amusing to imagine a world in which all 30 clubs make all their personnel decisions based solely on the projections of the BP annual every year.
One of the great themes of Billy Beane\'s career is that \"valuation innovation\" is cyclical, owing to the competition of the market. Beane punts on the overvalued assets (defense, speed, \"closers\") only until they dip back down to the status of undervalued again. Then he\'s happy to buy them, seemingly in the face of Michael Lewis\' paean.
Arbitrage is life (not OBP).
Incredible day, and long overdue. From rec.sports.baseball to the BBWAA -- that\'s an impressive journey. Congratulations all around.
It will be dismaying if the Giants come out of the postseason with Edgar Renteria and Hank Blalock as their lineup additions. While these two would undoubtedly be improvements on the spots they\'re replacing (Omar Vizquel and a swirling black hole that sucks at-bats into its maw), they\'re hardly inspiring, especially if the cost for Blalock is a young starter with upside.
The success of MLB Advanced Media has been an underreported story -- both in terms of its impact on baseball\'s revenues and as a more general digital-media victory. $450 million works out to more than 7% of the industry\'s revenues for 2007. Increasing iPhone/smartphone penetration throughout 2009 will open up a powerful new revenue stream for MLBAM, who have already delivered a killer app for handsets. (Apple thought well enough of the effort to devote a commercial to it.)
As is usually the case in any market conditions, innovation will out. Baseball has a first-rate digital arm to thank for a world-class effort in developing critical digital revenue streams.
I like Mayberry in the challenge trade. Stanford power hitters can be late bloomers, burdened as they usually are with the \"Stanford swing\" albatross. Carlos Quentin comes immediately to mind as a recent Cardinal slugger who figured it out within 10 minutes of his first organization change. My money is on Amaro coming out of this with the gold badge.
Factoid: Branch Rickey gets credit for the quote, but historians are pretty sure he cribbed it unashamedly from Mel Ott.
Now imagine how we Giants fans feel whenever we watch our club take the field without the numerous first-rounders that Sabean intentionally jettisoned with his signings of dead-meat FAs like Michael Tucker.
Is there any useful data on the \"sinkerballers on short-rest\" theory? Joe Buck seems almost to think it\'s a misuse of a sinkerballer to let him get the rest.
Cain\'s contract boosts his worth considerably. He\'s signed to an unbelievably team-friendly deal at just $4MM per year.
Nice to see the scout\'s ringing endorsement of Mike Cameron and his .327 OBP in the leadoff slot for Milwaukee. I\'m all for \"energy,\" but the occasional walk would also be a great thing to see from the #1 hole.