Friday, March 30, 2012

Dave Flemming is a wise fellow

Dave Flemming drops some knowledge on twitter.

Basically, that is what it boils down to and for a team that wants to win this year, Brandon Belt gives the Giants the best chance to win, as Dave says. I couldn't have said it better or in any less words than was just done right here.

This is likely in response to an interview that Shawn Estes had with 95.7 The Game where he talked about the holes in Brandon Belt's swing.

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The 25 Man Roster Decisions

The Giants are coming down to picking the 25 guys that will start the season with the big league team. For the most part the big picture is set with the final spots coming down to just a few different guys.

First up the people we know will be on the team:

C- Buster Posey (Duh)
1B- Aubrey Huff ($11 million contract pretty much guarantees you a roster spot, plus he did Pilates in the off-season)
2B- Emmanuel Burriss (Freddy Sanchez is starting on the DL so this is the Giants best choice)
SS- Brandon Crawford (no other choice on the roster, probably no worse than last years short stops)
3B- Pablo Sandoval (Duh)
LF- Melky Cabrera (Lord Melkington shall save the offense)
CF- Angel Pagan (I think his leash is short with the crazy spring of Gregor Blanco)
RF- Nate Schierholtz (Another guy with a short leash who could lose time to Blanco)

OF- Gregor Blanco
DL- Freddy Sanchez (will he even play this year?)

SP- Tim Lincecum (Duh)
SP- Madison Bumgarner (Duh)
SP- Matt Cain (Duh)
SP- Barry Zito (With his money it would take a HUGE reason for him not to be on the team)
CL- Brian Wilson (unless an injury creeps up)
RP- Sergio Romo (unless an injury creeps up)
RP- Javier Lopez
RP- Jeremy Affeldt
RP- Santiago Casilla
RP- Clay Hensley
RP- Guillermo Mota

DL- Ryan Vogelsong

With all of these guys it gets the Giants to 20 guys and five spots left on the active roster. The Giants have also decided to carry and eight man bullpen for the first few games of the season (a big show of confidence in Zito) which means that there is one spot left in the bullpen and four spots left on the bench.

For the backup catcher spot it is likely either Eli Whiteside or Chris Stewart with Hector Sanchez not ruled out. This isn't something that I will get worked up in a tizzy about, Sanchez is probably the best hitter but is also young with little experience above A ball. Asking him to be the backup and also produce offensively with sporadic playing time.

The last three bench spots are down to Brandon Belt, Brett Pill, Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot and Joaquin Arias. Seeing as the 9am deadline to cut the Cajuns (Fontenot and Theriot) has passed with them both having guaranteed contracts now I will say it is pretty safe to say that they are on the team as the back up infielders. UPDATE 10:52am it looks like Mike Fontenot was released.

That leaves one two spots for either Belt, Pill or Arias (Sanchez could make it as 3rd catcher but I doubt it). Belt has the upper hand in that he can play a passable outfield and has logged more innings out there than the other guys which might help with the team only carrying four outfielders. Pill has the advantage of being right handed with some pop which might help with the regular roster being skewed toward lefties. Arias is a slick defender which normally would help but might not with the Giants really hurting to add offense and full of guys without much in the way of offensive skills.

If I were a betting man I bet Pill gets the nod for the last spot so Belt can get regular reps in Fresno especially with the Giants talking about wanting to mess around with his batting mechanics. With Fontenot released it probably means that both Belt and Pill can make the team. It will be interesting if that is the case what kind of playing time they give him.

All I can say is that it will be nice when regular games start and there is less worry about roster construction, I'm ready to start worrying about batting orders instead!

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

One of these isn't like the other...

Grant at McCovey Chronicles took a look at the Giants history of evaluating hitters and in the process posted a table that I want to take a look at further.

Giants since 2005:
2005: .319 on-base percentage (29th out of 30 teams), .714 OPS (28th), 86 OPS+ (29th), 649 runs scored (29th)
2006: .324 on-base percentage (28th), .746 OPS (25th), 90 OPS+ (24th), 746 runs scored (24th)
2007: .322 on-base percentage (28th), .708 OPS (30th), 82 OPS+ (30th), 683 runs scored (29th)
2008: .321 on-base percentage (25th), .703 OPS (28th), 83 OPS+ (29th), 640 runs scored (29th)
2009: .309 on-base percentage (30th), .699 OPS (30th), 82 OPS+ (30th), 657 runs scored (26th)
2010: .321 on-base percentage (22nd), .729 OPS (17th), 98 OPS+ (15th), 697 runs scored (17th)
2011: .303 on-base percentage (29th), .671 OPS (27th), 89 OPS+ (25th), 570 runs scored (29th)

One of the things that is harped upon is that you need to look at the bigger picture and not be fooled by small sample sizes. Is this the case here with Brian Sabean's track record of building an offense?

Excluding the 2010 lightening in a bottle year the best the Giants have ranked is 24th in any of the above offensive categories since 2005. The averages (including 2010) over the span are: 27th in OBP, 26th in OPS, 26th in OPS+, and 26th in runs scored.


It is hard to imagine that the offense will have a repeat performance of last season's historically bad team (seriously they were one of the worst offensive teams in the history of the proud franchise) but with this now laid out is it realistic to expect that this team will resemble a league average offense?

I really don't think so and with the Giants underwhelming off season moves that didn't do much to beef up the offense it will take some more lightening in a bottle and some career years to get back to that level.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Small Sample Freak Out

One of the things that has made Brandon Belt a special prospect compared to others that the Giants have had come through their system is that he has excellent plate discipline. Over his minor league career he has consistently posted walk rates north of 15 percent and over his multiple stints in the Majors last year posted a walk rate above 9 percent.

The Giants coaching staff saw this discipline (which must look extreme in the context of being compared to other Giants hitters) and thought that he was being passive and set out to get him to be more aggressive.

Being aggressive isn't a good or bad thing per se, it depends a lot on the player and what pitches are being swung at that weren't being swung at before and the type of contact that results. So if being more aggressive results in more strikes around the middle of the plate being swung at with solid contact then it is a good thing, if it results in more Aaron Rowand style flailing at sliders in the dirt, well that is obviously a bad thing.

Back to Belt, so far this spring he has said that he has made an effort to be more aggressive and it has been reflected in his rather un-Belt like walk rate of 5 percent. It hasn't hurt him too much because he has produced a .463 wOBA but I am still concerned about the scenario of him having bad luck with balls in play or his strikeout issues creeping up again and a depressed walk rate could really hurt his offensive value.

It is far too early to be freaking out about this because after all it is just 40 spring training plate appearances but let's just say that this is something that I am going to keep an eye on as the season moves along.

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