Affeldt should thank the Dodgers for his new contract

When Brandon League signed a 3 year, $21 million contract to re-sign with the Dodgers, I had written an article about the possible effect of contracts around the league.  I didn’t publish it because it was boring, but the overall summary of it is that one massive overpay can drive up costs for free agents around the majors, and now we’re already seeing it.
Jeremy Affeldt, who a few years ago, resigned with the Giants for 2 years, $8.5 million, and was barely considered worth picking up his $5 million option this year, not only got a raise, but for three years.  That’s what happens an inferior reliever gets more money than you did.
Just think.  One year ago, Huston Street  only got 3 years and $20 million despite being younger than League and being a proven effective closer.  Thanks to League’s contract, any proven, reliable closer like Street will cost at least $10 million annually, so the Padres can be thankful they got their guy a year earlier.
There’s at least a dozen relievers still on the market better than League that will command similar to what Affeldt got or even higher, something that has unheard of for non closer/ dominating middle reliever.  And for someone like Rafael Soriano, we may see a record contract for a reliever. And this will continue to drive up the Giants payroll, as guys like Romo and Casilla will make more in arbitration.
As for Affeldt’s contract, I like it.  The third year may be a bit too much, as we don’t know if he’ll still be any good in 2015 when he’s 36, but for now, he’s definitely worth the money.

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A look at the 2013 season

Now that the hot stove is underway, it’s time to look at the current Giants roster, the payroll, and what holes to fill.
First off, the Giants payroll was around $120 million this year.  Considering they went to the World Series, that should allow them to add another $10-20 million (they upped the payroll $20 million when they won in 2010), but of course, we can’t be too sure of that, so let’s look at it as if they’re keeping the payroll in place.

Expiring contracts:
Aaron Rowand 12MM
Aubrey Huff 8MM (10MM 2012 contract- 2MM buyout)
Melky Cabrera 6MM
Freddy Sanchez 6MM
Jeremy Affeldt 5MM
Angel Pagan 4.85MM
Marco Scutaro 1.7MM
Ryan Theriot 1.25MM
Guillermo Mota 1MM
Nate Schierholtz 827K
Brad Penny 376K
Total: 47MM

Salary escalation:
Matt Cain +5MM
Tim Lincecum +4MM
Pablo Sandoval +2.5MM
Ryan Vogelsong +2MM
Barry Zito +1MM
Madison Bumgarner +190K
Total 14.69MM

Arbitration eligible + 2012 salary:
Hunter Pence 10.4MM (3.15MM with the Giants)
Brian Wilson 8.5MM
Santiago Casilla 2.2MM
Sergio Romo 1.575MM
Jose Mijares 925K
Clay Hensley 750K
Emmanuel Burris 625K
Buster Posey 615K
Eli Whiteside 600K
Gregor Blanco 516K
Yusmeiro Petit
Joaquin Arias

So in total , the Giants have about $32 million freed up, not counting arbitration raises, so let’s look at the breakdown of each player that arbitration eligible, how much they should be expected to make, and what I would do:

Hunter Pence- The fact that Pence had a huge performance dropoff in 2012, particular after the trade, will help the Giants big time.  Had he performed like he has in previous seasons, he’d be looking at upwards of $15 million.  Each year he’s been arbitration eligible, he’s received a raise between $3 million and $3.5 million.  Considering his poor performance, he won’t receive that, but a small raise to something slightly above $12 million, or $9 more than what the Giants paid him in 2012.
It’s a given he’ll be back, but the question is will it be for one year or will the Giants attempt to sign him to multi-year deal?  Perhaps re-sign to two years along the lines of $25 million with an option for the third year.

Brian Wilson- this one is somewhat tricky.  Under CBA rules, a player cannot receive more than a 20% paycut in arbitration, so Wilson would be receive a minimum of $6.8MM in arbitration.  Considering he wouldn’t get that much on the free agent market, and he’s coming off of Tommy John, and that Sergio Romo has the closer’s job locked down at this point, I would offer contract along the lines of $4-5 million and non tender him.  If some team is willing to pay more than, let them.  Although because of his popularity and marketability, I see the team giving him that $6.8MM minimum, or a $1.7 MM paycut.

Santiago Casilla- considering that his salary has gone up approximately $900k each of the last two season, I see it following that pattern again, bringing his salary up another $900k to $3.1MM.  Perhaps add in an extra year to his contract, buying out his first free agent year, making it a two year/ $8MM contract.

Sergio Romo- This one is tricky.  I can see him getting something similar to what Wilson got after 2010 during his second arbitration year ($6.5MM in 2011, $8.5MM in 2012).  A big difference is that Wilson was making nearly $3MM more that year than what Romo made this year.  I can see Romo getting a raise of upwards to $5MM, which is approximately $3.5MM more than 2012 (which is the raise Wilson got after 2009 after he emerged as a top closer).  Romo has two more years before he hits free agency, so maybe buy out his last two arbitration years and first year or two of free agency.

Jose Mijares- For a first year arbitration coming off a good season, should get a raise but not too much.  Somewhere along the lines of an extra million or so bringing his salary to just under $2 million.  Let’s just say $900K to match Casilla’s annual raise.

Clay Hensley-  Considering the depth of the Giants bullpen and Hensley is a 33 year old coming off a subpar season, there’s really no point keeping him around, especially since he’d likely get another 500-750K.

Emmanuel Burriss, Eli Whiteside, Yusmeiro Petit- Goodbye.  Useless.

Joaquin Arias- A solid utility infielder making league minimum in 2012, makes sense to keep him around.  Wouldn’t command more than a 500K raise.

Buster Posey- this is one of the main ones.  You gotta look at Lincecum’s record setting contract after winning back to back Cy Youngs as the starting point.  Lincecum got a two year contract making $9 million in 2010 and $14 million in 2011.  I’d probably sign him to a long term deal, using Lincecum’s four arbitration years as the template.  From 2010-2013, Lincecum’s two two year deals add up to $63 million.  I’d like to see the Giants match that for Posey, and then add his first two free agent years for an extra $47 million or so, making it a 6 year/ $110MM contract.  On a one year basis, Posey will receive at least a $10MM raise and break Ryan Howard’s first year arbitration record.

Gregor Blanco- I think you gotta look at Andres Torres after 2010 as the template for this one.  Like Blanco, Torres was a minor league scrub who broke through with the Giants, helping them win a World Series and for his efforts got a $1.8MM raise.  Considering Blanco didn’t have nearly the offensive year Torres had two years ago and will likely be looking to be a backup next year, I say he gets about half that which would be $900K

Considering the estimated arbitration raises (based on one year deals):
Posey $10MM
Pence $9MM
Romo $3.5MM
Mijares $900K
Casilla $900K
Blanco $900K
Arias $500K

Non tenders:
Wilson $8.5 MM
Hensley 750K

So considering the arbitration numbers are all estimates, the Giants have along the lines of $15 million to spend, plus whatever the front office decides to add to the maximum payroll.  Here’s what we’re looking at:
C. Posey
1B. Belt
2B. ?
3B. Sandoval
SS. Crawford
LF. ?
CF. ?
Rf. Pence
Bench:
C. Sanchez
IF. ?
IF. ?
OF. Blanco
OF. ?
SP. Cain
SP. Bumgarner
SP. Lincecum
SP. Vogelsong
SP. Zito
CL. Romo
P. Lopez
P. Mijares
P. Kontos
P. Casilla
P. ?
P. ?

In order to keep this team intact, specifically Scutaro, Pagan, Wilson, and Affeldt, would cost a combined $30 million a year, or something along those long.  The backup infield and outfield spots could be filled from within (Pill, Noonan) or some low cost free agent like Theriot.  So right now, we’re basically looking at an extra $15 million added to the payroll just keeping what we have, with the need to find another outfielder.  I would bring back Melky in a second if it was a 1-2 year deal and not making more than $5-6MM a year.  Otherwise, who knows?  I’d make a run for BJ Upton.  He’s still young, fast, is good for 20+ homers, and has the possibility of a breakout season, and would be willing to sign a short-term contract so he could have that breakout year and cash in.  Maybe something along the lines of two years $20-$25 million perhaps?  Of course, this would mean a $140+ million payroll, or about the same increase as it was last time the Giants won the World Series.
I guess it all comes down to how much the front office is willing to spend.  Last year they were able to make the adjustments needed without raising payroll, hopefully they can do it again if the ownership group won’t open their purse strings.

Two In Three/ Introduction

Before I get into the post, I just want to do a little introduction.  As a die-hard Giants fan, I figure I would create this blog as an outlet for my thoughts, analysis, lists, rankings, random tidbits, and whatever else is on my mind.  Eventually, I will come up with some sort of catchy name, but for now, San Francisco Giants Blog will have to do.   I will try to post as often as I can about the latest news, games, or for now, whatever is going on in the hot stove.  I’ll also try to find a few contributors to help post their thoughts to add some variety to it.

Now, that that is out of the way, I feel like I want to put this second championship in three years into words.  I wanted to write up something similar, but just simply couldn’t find the right words.  Now I think I can do it.

For all my life, all I wanted was to see the Giants win one World Series.  It finally happened on November 1, 2010.  At the time,

This time, I think I have more perspective.  When the Giants won in 2010, I thought I would be satisfied for life.  I thought all the pain from all the heartbreak from over the years would go away, from winning 103 games in 1993 and not even making the playoffs, to blowing the 7-0 lead on the last day of the season thanks to walk off home run by Neifi Perez, forcing a one game playoff against the Cubs in which the Giants eventually lost, to losing back to back extra inning games to the Mets in 2000 followed by a one hitter by Bobby Jones, to game 6 in 2002, to Jose Cruz’ dropped fly ball, Steve Finley’s grand slam, and everything in between.  With each World Series win, the pain has lessened, but I now know that it will never fully go away.  I also now realize that no matter how many World Series the Giants win, I will always want another one as badly as I wanted that first one.

Knowing this has enabled me to cherish this one more than 2010.  After the Giants won it in 2010, I thought I would be riding that high the rest of my life, but once that banner was raised, the players got their rings, and the 2011 season was underway, it was back to business as usual.  Knowing what to expect will enable me to appreciate this next six months

I didn’t think 2010 could be topped, but this championship felt even better.  2010 will always be special because it was the first time most of us Giants fans got to witness a World Series title, but the way they won it this year, going on a roll and running away with the division, coming back from the dead twice, and then sweeping the World Series, has made it even more special.  On top of that, the 2010 regular season was mostly uneventful.  Can anyone recall anything memorable, other than the clincher on the last day of the season?  This year, we had a perfect game, dominated the All Star game with four starters, including the winning pitcher and MVP (and yes, I’ll still lay claim to that MVP since if it wasn’t Melky, it would have been Pablo, who should have won it anyway).  We saw the emergence of Buster Posey into one of baseball’s elite, complete with a battle title, comeback player of the year award, and the obvious MVP.

Anyone that is a vital part of any World Series team will have a special spot in the team’s history and it’s fans hearts.  But to think, a franchise that couldn’t win a World Series with McCovey, Cepeda, Marichal, Perry, Bonds, and countless other greats (and only one with Willie Mays), means that those guys that were a crucial part of both World Series teams deserve mention among the greatest Giants ever, and I want to give them all a special mention.

Starting off with Brian Sabean.  I’ve been as big of a Sabean critic as anyone, and with good reason.  After he won Executive of the Year Award in 2003, he made a lot of idiotic moves for a lot of years.  However, after building two World Series teams, it’s hard to say anything negative about him at the moment.

Bruce Bochy was another one I wasn’t exactly a fan of.  I wasn’t too thrilled when they signed him as manager prior to the 2007 season, and made quite a few questionable moves.  However, the way he managed the team during both post-season runs has established him as an immortal in Giants history, and the greatest manager the team has had since John McGraw.  And watching his managing compared to Dusty Baker during the NLDS shows how much better we have it compared to what we had to endure from 1993-2002.

There were 11 players that were on the post-season roster in both 2010 and 2012, the last person to have done that with the Giants prior was Hall of Fame shortstop Travis Jackson who was on the 1922 and 1933 World Series championship teams.   Guillermo Mota was pretty much along for the ride both times, Pablo Sandoval was a non factor in 2008, and Aubrey Huff was a non factor this season.  That leaves eight players that deserve special mention:

Matt Cain has been with the organization for over a decade now, and it has been special watching him move through the system from 2002-2005, and gradually improving each year since his rookie season in 2006 before becoming one of baseball’s elite pitchers this season.  As the longest tenured Giant, and signed through 2018 (which would make it 14 seasons with the team and 17 with the organization if he makes it to the end), already having won two world series, pitched a perfect game, and continually getting better, he has a good chance of his name being up there with the likes of Mathewson, Hubbell, and Marichal among the greatest Giants pitchers ever.

Despite his miserable regular season, Tim Lincecum is still the rock star of the team, as evident by the reaction at AT&T Park every time he warmed up the bullpen or entered in relief during the post-season.  And while he wasn’t the ace he was during his two Cy Young seasons or the first World Series year, the Giants likely don’t win the second championship if he doesn’t pitch the way he did out of the bullpen this year.

To think that Madison Bumgarner just turned 23 and has already done what he has done is unbelievable.  To put things in perspective, Lincecum was still in the minor leagues, while Cain was going through some serious growing pains.  He’s already played a crucial part in two World Series teams and just missed making the All Star team this year (not to mention was one of the best pitchers in baseball in 2011 after his horrible start.  He may have hit a rough patch down the stretch and into the post-season, but the fact that he has had pitched 15 shutout innings with 14 strikeouts in two World Series starts is remarkable.

Then there’s the bullpen.  Sergio Romo almost singlehandly cost the Giants the NLDS against the Braves in the NLDS in 2010 and didn’t pitch in any key situations after that, but they would not have won the division without him.  On top of that, the past two years he’s been one of the best relief pitchers in the game (arguably the best), the majority of the time being virtually unhittable, and once he emerged from the bullpen by committee as the ninth inning guy, the rest of the bullpen fell into place.  The trade with the Pirates for Javier Lopez in 2010 was crucial to the Giants World Series run that year, and has continued to be one of the premiere lefty specialists.  When it’s a late game crucial situation and the other team’s best left handed hitter is up, you know Lopez will get the job done when Bochy brings him.  Jeremy Affeldt is almost as good as getting lefties out but is equally effective with lefties.  He has hit some rough patches at times over the past few years, but his clutch pitching during both post-season runs will go down as something of Giants legend.  And Santiago Casilla has been top notch in the bullpen over the past few seasons, aside from his failed run as closer this year.

That brings me to the cornerstone of the franchise, Buster Posey.  He’s basically played two seasons in the big leagues (2011 doesn’t really count), and has arguably meant more to the team than any player since Willie Mays.  If he doesn’t break his leg last year, we may be looking at a three-peat.  We are truly witnessing the beginning of what is possibly a once in a generation player.  Considering he was still recovering from his injury during the first half, he should be even better next year, to the offensive levels not seen by any catcher other than Piazza (except unlike Piazza, he’s actually decent behind the plate and continually improving).  Factor in the Jason Varitek/ Derek Jeter like leadership, and we are witnessing the early stages of the career of someone who will (assuming he stays healthy) eventually become one of the game’s all time greats.

Overall, this is a very special time for our franchise.  One World Series win is special.  Twice in three years is surreal.  We may repeat, or we may very well never see one again.  All I know is I will continue to savior the moment like I have been.

P.S. I am looking for contributors on this blog to help me out.  If interested, just hit me up in the comments section below.

AL team

Now it’s time for the AL…
first, ignoring fan voting and the one player on every team rule:
Starters:
C. Joe Mauer
1B. Jason Giambi
2B. Ian Kinsler
3B. Alex Rodriguez
SS. Michael Young
OF. J.D. Drew
OF. Jermaine Dye
OF. Josh Hamilton
DH. Milton Bradley
P. Cliff Lee
Reserves:
C. A.J. Pierzynski
1B. Kevin Youkilis
1B. Justin Morneau
2B. Brian Roberts
2B. Dustin Pedroia
3B. Mike Lowell
3B. Evan Longoria
SS. Jhonny Peralta
OF. Grady Sizemore
OF. Carlos Quentin
OF. Manny Ramirez
OF. David DeJesus
SP. Ervin Santana
SP. Roy Halladay
SP. Justin Duchscherer
SP. C.C. Sabathia
SP. Felix Hernandez
SP. Joe Saunders
RP. Francisco Rodriguez
RP. Mariano Rivera
RP. Joakim Soria
RP. Jonathan Papelbon
By Team:
Red Sox: 6
Rangers: 4
Indians: 4
White Sox: 3
Angels: 3
Yankees: 3
Twins: 2
Royals: 2
Orioles: 1
Rays: 1
Blue Jays: 1
A’s: 1
Mariners: 1


Now factoring in fan voting and the one player on every team rule:
Starters:
C. Mauer
1B. Youkilis
2B. Pedroia
3B. Rodriguez
SS. Derek Jeter
OF. Hamilton
OF. Ramirez
OF. Ichiro Suzuki
DH. David Ortiz
Reserves:
C. Pierzynski
C. Ivan Rodriguez
1B. Giambi
2B. Kinsler
2B. Roberts
3B. Lowell
3B. Longoria
SS. Young
OF. Drew
OF. Dye
OF. Sizemore
OF. Bradley
SP. Santana
SP. Halladay
SP. Duchscherer
SP. Sabathia
SP. Hernandez
SP. Saunders
RP. Rodriguez
RP. Rivera
RP. Soria
RP. Papelbon

By Team:

Red Sox: 7
Rangers: 4
Yankees: 4
Indians: 3
Angels: 3
Mariners: 2
White Sox: 2
Twins: 1
Tigers: 1
Rays: 1
Blue Jays: 1
A’s: 1
Royals: 1
Orioles: 1

My All Star Teams- National League

With the All Star teams being announced later today, I figured I would post my teams, ignoring the fan votes and one player on every team rule
My teams, my rules
National League:
Starters:
C. Brian McCann
1B. Lance Berkman
2B. Chase Utley
3B. Chipper Jones
SS. Hanley Ramirez
OF. Pat Burrell
OF. Matt Holliday
OF. Ryan Ludwick
DH. Albert Pujols
P. Tim Lincecum
Reserves:
C. Geovany Soto
C. Russell Martin
1B. Derrek Lee
2B. Dan Uggla
3B. David Wright
3B. Aramis Ramirez
SS. J.J. Hardy
OF. Xavier Nady
OF. Jason Bay
OF. Nate McLouth
OF. Rick Ankiel
OF. Corey Hart
SP. Edinson Volquez
SP. Ben Sheets
SP. Johan Santana
SP. Dan Haren
SP. Carlos Zambrano
RP. Brian Wilson
RP. Kerry Wood
RP. Billy Wagner
RP. Brad Lidge
RP. Jon Rauch

By team:
Cubs: 5
Pirates: 3
Cardinals: 3
Brewers: 3
Mets: 3
Phillies: 3
Braves: 2
Marlins: 2
Giants: 2
Astros: 1
Rockies: 1
Dodgers: 1
Reds: 1
Diamondbacks: 1
Nationals: 1

Using the one player on every team rule, along with the winners of fan voting:
Starters:
C. Soto
1B. Berkman
2B. Utley
3B. Jones
SS. Ramirez
OF. Alfonso Soriano
OF. Ken Griffey
OF. Kosuke Fukodome
DH. Pujols
P. Lincecum
Reserves:
C. McCann
C. Martin
1B. Adrian Gonzalez
2B. Uggla
3B. Wright
3B. Ramirez
SS. Hardy
OF. Burrell
OF. Holliday
OF. McClouth
OF. Ludwick
OF. Ankiel
SP. Volquez
SP. Sheets
SP. Santana
SP. Haren
SP. Zambrano
RP. Wilson
RP. Wood
RP. Wagner
RP. Lidge
RP. Rauch
By Team:
Cubs: 6
Cardinals: 3
Mets: 3
Phillies: 3
Braves: 2
Marlins: 2
Reds: 2
Brewers: 2
Giants: 2
Astros: 1
Dodgers: 1
Padres: 1
Rockies: 1
Pirates: 1
Diamondbacks: 1
Nationals: 1
I’ll post my American League team shortly

Things are looking up

Giants 5, Dodgers 2
Today’s game was probably my favorite game of this Giants season.  Zito looking like he did in 2002, getting a win (at home), and a come behind win against the Dodgers.
What more can you ask for?
When the season started, I thought this Giants team was gonna be one of if (if not the) worst teams in franchise history.  With the franchise record for losses being 100 in 1985, one look at the roster prior to the season would suggest surpassing that mark easily.  Most people (including myself) predicted this team to be the worst in baseball this year.
After years of Brian Sabean risking the future for small short term gains, it finally started to catch up to the team a few years ago.  The last two seasons the Giants would have likely been the worst team in baseball had it not been for a guy named Barry Bonds.  Without Bonds, the downward spiral seemed to reach rock
Yes, this team is still a lousy team, but a hell of a lot better than expected.  Third place, only four games out of the division lead (and yes, I know it’s a horrible division, but still), and on pace for 72 wins is a lot more than expected.  What’s more, they’ve gone 22-20 since May 19th, when they were 17-29 and on pace for 60 wins, about as expected going into the season.
What makes things more promising is that, if you look at the performance up and down the roster, nobody is really overachieving, and on top of that certain guys who were playing over their heads earlier in the season (Fred Lewis, Aaron Rowand, and Bengie Molina) have come back down to what was pretty much expected of them, and yet the team has been playing better since then.
If anything, this team should continue to play better.  While nobody is playing above their heads, some guys should perform better in the second half.  Offensively, things will probably be about the same as the first half, with a slight improvement, due to Omar Vizquel.  While he’s never been a good hitter, especially at this point in his career, he’s a lot better than he’s been hitting and will likely improve upon his Neifi Perez-like stats in the second half.  And if not, he’ll likely lose his starting  job to Emmanuel Burriss, who himself is a mediocre hitter, but at least it’s a hell of a lot better than what we’ve been seing from Omar.
But look for the pitching to be a lot better in the second half.  Tim Lincecum is the real deal and, barring (god forbid) injury, will continue his dominance in the second half.  With Matt Cain, it’s not a matter of if, but when will he emerge into the ace we’ve been waiting for him to become, and it’s looking more and more like it will be at some point this season.  His rookie year, he would have become an instant ace had he not walked so many batters (over 4 an inning).  Last year, he cut down his walks, but the fewer strikeouts really hurt him.  This year, the walks remain down, while the strikeouts are back up (slightly higher even) to what they were his rookie year.  Mainly, he’s been having bad luck in that more balls in play have been falling in for hits, and that he’s been giving up a lot more home runs, which is essentially the result of one extra bad pitch every few games, something that can be easily improved upon.  What’s more promising is that, since April when he had 29 strikeouts to 23 walks, he’s had a phenomenal 78 walks to 24 strikeouts.  What’s been really killing him, however, are the occasional starts where he’s just gotten rocked, therefore skewing his percentage/ rate stats, and (which has been the biggest problem since his rookie year) the lack of run support and bullpen help, resulting in his weak records that fail to display his true abilities and performances.
Jonathan Sanchez is another guy waited in the wings to breakout.  While not as heralded a pitching prospect as Cain and Lincecum, the 25 year old pitcher’s stuff ranks among the best younger pitchers in the game.  And Kevin Correia is a little better than he’s pitching, and should be the best you can hope for from your #5 pitcher.
But Zito is the one who we’ll likely see the most improvement in the second half.  Over his last few starts, his velocity’s been back to what it was in Oakland, and his stuff has gotten a lot better as well.  While one would be dreaming to expect him to return to his Cy Young form from 2002, look for him to return to what he was his last few years in Oakland, which would be a really solid, reliable,  #2 starter, which in a rotation with Cain, Lincecum, and Sanchez, would make him a great asset (salary aside), especially for your #4 pitcher.  As for the salary, what’s done is done, and in a way, his salary is made up by the Giants paying the best pitcher in baseball league minimum.
Overall, this team still isn’t going anywhere this year, especially considering  at least one of the teams in the division that are heavily underachieving (D-Backs, Rockies, or Padres) will likely go on a second half tear, but at least it will be fun to watch this team continue to move in the right direction.  And an effort to continue in this direction, along with a strong system in the low minor leagues, this team has a decent shot at being once again a World Series contender in a few years (something that just a few months ago I thought would be a lot longer).  And who knows, one or two really good bats in the off-season, and a slightly improved bullpen may be enough to bring the Giants back.  All I know is, the Giants finally have a future to look forward to.