SF Giants -- a modern-day catastrophe

nattysez

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Sep 30, 2010
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The SF Giants are rapidly turning into the full-team equivalent of the Chris Davis contract -- a cautionary tale about long-term contracts and poor planning. Some fun facts:

They are one of the 5 worst teams in baseball, but have the 5th-highest payroll. Last year they were a bottom-10 team (73 wins) and had the #2 payroll.

Their highest-paid position players are essentially untradable --
Buster Posey has $69m left on his contract (including this year) and can't hit anymore;
Brandon Crawford has $45m left on his contract (including this year) and can't hit anymore; and
Evan Longoria has $75m left (including this year) and is a replacement-level player.

It's possible Brandon Belt could be dealt, but he has a 115 OPS+, $51m left on his deal (including this year), and can really only play first.

They owe Johnny Cueto $77m (including this year) -- he pitched 9 games last year before undergoing Tommy John surgery at age 32. They also have to pay Jeff Samardzija about $40m for this year and next (he's got a tidy 0 WAR so far this year).

They are running through OF like Spinal Tap drummers. By my count, Yaz's grandson is the 12th guy to play in the OF for them this year, and they haven't had major injury issues. More generally, Farhad Zaidi seems to have decided to treat his roster like a fantasy team this year. He is cycling through outfielders, catchers, and pitchers without any clear rhyme or reason, to the point that the team has started complaining about it a bit.

Worth remembering is their incredibly short-sighted "GFIN" pre-2018 off-season in which they traded for Longoria and Andrew McCutchen. The guys they traded for McCutchen would be regular players for this year's Giants. And their ridiculous overreaction/overpayment for Mark Melancon during the pre-2017 offseason after their relief pitching collapsed late in 2016 has also hamstrung them.

None of this is likely to improve in short order. They have one top-25 prospect and one top-100 prospect. Bleacher Report had them as one of the worst minor leagues in baseball.

Their best bet would be to sell off their entire bullpen (which has a few decent pieces) at the deadline (they've got to be praying that Mark Melancon entices someone to take on his deal) and MadBum, which will be a really controversial move among the remaining fandom that's made more difficult by the fact that MadBum strategically chose his no-trade list to mostly include contenders (Braves, Sox, Cubs, Astros, Brewers, MFY, Phils, Cards).

They are pretty much a worst-case scenario in modern-era MLB: too many older guys who got paid for past performance and too many high-paid mediocre starting pitchers. I'm very curious to see how they can pull themselves out of this, because the solution is non-obvious.

And, of course, I'd be remiss not to mention their best player. He has a 158 OPS+, leads the team in OPS and co-leads in homers, is a fan favorite, and is one of their (in his mind) best relief pitchers: the Panda.

Two last points:
(1) The main all-sports station out here had to concede the Warriors radio contract to their rival because their deal with the Giants required them to carry all Giants games, including Spring Training, which would've pushed Warriors games to their weaker affiliate. Oops.

(2) There was an article in the SF Chron today that said that a lot of the restaurants and bars around the ballpark are starting to suffer as the Giants' attendance drops. I can't imagine that's going to improve any time soon. https://www.sfchronicle.com/restaurants/article/Restaurants-near-Oracle-Park-endure-highs-and-13895277.php
 
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Jul 5, 2018
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The Giants are indeed a train wreck, but I would attribute their situation more to bad luck than "poor planing". Longoria was two years removed from a good season when they signed him, Cueto was an ace, McCutchen was coming off a good year and Posey was playing well when he received his contract extension. The Red Sox contracts with Pablo, Hanley and Castillo were far worse decisions. Pablo was coming off of a .739 OPS season and had a history of weight problems so his contract was the worst decision made by either team.

The Giants don't have good young players like the Sox have, but their picks have been near the end of the 1st round. Unless the Sox had insider information, they were lucky that Mookie didn't play for Tennessee.

The Giants are an example of what can happen when a big market team signs free agents to avoid a rebuilding phase.
 

heavyde050

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And Yaz's grandson gets his first ML hit, and he is promptly thrown out trying to get back to first base after he rounded and headed for second base. Or said another way - the 2019 Giants.
 

patoaflac

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He is 3 for 3 right now. Love to see a box score with a Yastrzemski in; alongside with Posey.
 

Danny_Darwin

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Their best bet would be to sell off their entire bullpen (which has a few decent pieces) at the deadline (they've got to be praying that Mark Melancon entices someone to take on his deal) and MadBum, which will be a really controversial move among the remaining fandom that's made more difficult by the fact that MadBum strategically chose his no-trade list to mostly include contenders (Braves, Sox, Cubs, Astros, Brewers, MFY, Phils, Cards).
This could save them, or at least help a lot. Relievers still go for a high price mid-season - just last year, the Padres got a top-ten prospect for Brad Hand. And obviously the Yankees' haul in 2016 for Miller and Chapman is paying huge dividends for them. Between Smith, Watson, and Dyson, they could get a few good pieces. They might even get an actual player for Melancon if they kick in some money.
 

Spacemans Bong

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Zaidi is cycling through talent because they all suck and he’s trying to find someone who doesn’t suck. The only one is Tyler Austin.

The Giants are in the shit because all of their 2014-16 core turned into pumpkins at the same time. Posey stopped hitting, Crawford stopped hitting, Madison Bumgarner went dirt bike riding, Brandon Belt keeps getting hit in the head, Hunter Pence got old, Johnny Cueto sucked. That’s like 20 WAR that just walked out the door never to return.

And taking an entire decade off from the draft isn’t helping. Joe Panik is the best player they’ve drafted in the 2010s by far.

The next few years are going to be lots of fun. It’ll probably have to get worse before it gets better, because there’s very little in the farm system besides Joey Bart and maybe Heliot Ramos.

There’s also a really sour attitude in the air about this team that isn’t helping. Nobody, from the front office down to Joe Fan, is taking this very well. I’m a little irritated by the empty seats at the ballpark, you can find seats for $6 online (and sometimes get club seats for as low as $15-20) and watch Major League Baseball in a beautiful stadium. The Giants aren’t even that bad at home, they’ve been about .500 the last couple years. The guys with rings are all the most popular players on the team - most people don’t even want Bumgarner traded - so it’s not like the fans are really screaming for full on tanking.

You really get the sense a large portion of the fanbase never stepped foot inside Candlestick Park for a baseball game and thinks the normal state of affairs is Even Year Bull Shit. I was raised in the Church of Bird, so I’ve never given a shit about the Warriors, and I’m looking forward to their inevitable decline and fall so I can hear the endless fucking whining emanating from the Chase Center or whatever it’s called.
 
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nattysez

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There’s also a really sour attitude in the air about this team that isn’t helping.
On top of everything else, the off-season issues with Baer having that physical altercation in public with his wife and the owner of the team donating to openly racist GOP candidates made it easy for some people to decide they weren't going to go to the games while the team is bad. Easier to maintain that kind of political stance when the team is so uncompelling.
 

Spacemans Bong

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On top of everything else, the off-season issues with Baer having that physical altercation in public with his wife and the owner of the team donating to openly racist GOP candidates made it easy for some people to decide they weren't going to go to the games while the team is bad. Easier to maintain that kind of political stance when the team is so uncompelling.
Definitely not helping at all, and this team is really the most boring team you can build. They’re old, slow, and bad at offense with no power. Below average starting pitching but a pretty good bullpen. So you can get two or three games a week where they actually look kinda decent, winning 3-2 or 4-3, but then they just look like ass on the other days.

Nonetheless, with 24,000 season ticket holders they’ve had games with as little as 4,000 walkups and days where it looks like there’s less than 10,000 fans in the park, and that doesn’t sit well with me. I had some more expectations of the fanbase.
 

nattysez

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For all the early-season criticism of Zaidi treating his OF like a fantasy team, it worked. He kept shuttling new guys into the OF until he found four guys who can play. Baby Yaz has been a revelation, Pillar has been great on defense, and Alex Dickerson and Austin Slater have been great.

The talk in the Bay Area is now whether or not Zaidi should sell if the Giants remain close to the second wild-card (I think most people are rational enough to believe that yes, he should). Baseball is hilarious.
 

nattysez

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49-49, 2 games out of a wild card spot. Seven in a row, and 13 out of the last 15 IIRC.

Zaidi’s not going to blow it up if they’re in a wild card spot on July 31, which may well happen.
The Giants may well be the first team to get really hurt by the lack of waiver trades. If they stay hot this week, then regress to the mean for the first two weeks of August (when they play the Nats, Phils and A's) and fall out of the wild card race, they'll regret not having made trades before July 31.

Edit: Guys with an OPS+ over 100 and 49 or more games played as of today:
Belt
Longoria (currently hurt)
Baby Yaz
Panda
Steven Vogt

So TWO of their every day position players have OPS+ over 100 (you can argue that Baby Yaz makes three, but he was close to being sent down a week ago). That number for the Sox is 7 (JBJ is under 100 and Holt hasn't played enough games).
 
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heavyde050

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The Giants may well be the first team to get really hurt by the lack of waiver trades. If they stay hot this week, then regress to the mean for the first two weeks of August (when they play the Nats, Phils and A's) and fall out of the wild card race, they'll regret not having made trades before July 31.

Edit: Guys with an OPS+ over 100 and 49 or more games played as of today:
Belt
Longoria (currently hurt)
Baby Yaz
Panda
Steven Vogt

So TWO of their every day position players have OPS+ over 100 (you can argue that Baby Yaz makes three, but he was close to being sent down a week ago). That number for the Sox is 7 (JBJ is under 100 and Holt hasn't played enough games).
If the Red Sox had the Giants’ bullpen, they would be much closer to the Yankees (I mean it would actually be a race for the AL East title).
I mean the Giants should sell if they get legitimate offers, but there is zero reason to just give MadBum away.
 

Spacemans Bong

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The Giants may well be the first team to get really hurt by the lack of waiver trades. If they stay hot this week, then regress to the mean for the first two weeks of August (when they play the Nats, Phils and A's) and fall out of the wild card race, they'll regret not having made trades before July 31.

Edit: Guys with an OPS+ over 100 and 49 or more games played as of today:
Belt
Longoria (currently hurt)
Baby Yaz
Panda
Steven Vogt

So TWO of their every day position players have OPS+ over 100 (you can argue that Baby Yaz makes three, but he was close to being sent down a week ago). That number for the Sox is 7 (JBJ is under 100 and Holt hasn't played enough games).
You're forgetting Alex Dickinson and Austin Slater as everyday players who are red hot right now. Dickinson is preposterously hot, although I think he's probably the best example of a guy Zaidi found who has actual big league talent. He'd have stuck on the Padres if he didn't miss two whole seasons to injury. That's the thing, this isn't the Giants team that opened the season. The outfield - hell, even the backups - is completely different, the bench is different except for Sandoval, and half the rotation is different.

I don't know where this is going, I really don't, but Zaidi would be insane to do anything but wait until the 31st to make his decision. The Cubs are a good team, the Padres aren't any worse than the Giants and a direct wild card competitor, and the Phillies likewise. That's seven pretty valuable games of data with which to make a decision. Go 6-1 and the Giants are probably in a wild card spot (possibly even the first wild card spot), and Zaidi has no choice but to hold. Go 1-6, and likewise it becomes an easy call to trade.
 

nattysez

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I don't love the chances of Austin Slater and Alex Dickerson OPS'ng 1.000 the rest of the year. Zaidi's theory on the OF was clearly to try to catch lightning in a bottle, and it's worked...for now. I hope I'm wrong -- it's fun to root for the underdog Giants even if their ownership group are terrible people -- but I think a regression is looming.
 

heavyde050

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It is probably the Red Sox fan in me, but Mike Yastrzemski looks like at least a platoon guy on a major league team.
He went to Vanderbilt (good baseball school), and just because he didn’t make it in Baltimore shouldn’t diminish the fact the guy plays good defense and has a decent bat.
 

nattysez

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Pretty nice work at the deadline by Zaidi. Dumped an untradeable contract for a minor-league pitcher and a meh reliever and turned two high-variance (to put it kindly) relievers into Dubron.
 

Spacemans Bong

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Pretty nice work at the deadline by Zaidi. Dumped an untradeable contract for a minor-league pitcher and a meh reliever and turned two high-variance (to put it kindly) relievers into Dubron.
Don't forget Sam Dyson for Jaylin Davis, a 24 year old outfielder with an 1100 OPS in AAA. And Tristan Beck from the Braves is an interesting prospect, far more interesting than we deserve given they're eating all of Melancon's contract. Average stuff except a plus curve, good control and command, does have some health issues. He might be a piece.
 

heavyde050

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Best deal Zaidi made all year was for Mike Yastrzemski.

He just hit his third homer tonight and has been a revelation in the Giants’ outfield.