Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Angel Pagan needs to become a bench player

Since coming over to the Giants in 2012, Angel Pagan had been exactly what they had hoped for when they acquired him from the Mets. He's been a fairly above-average starting center fielder and helped the Giants to two world series titles. 2015 has been a very different story. Like, one of the least valuable outfielders in MLB kind of different.

Here we are on August 11th, and Angel Pagan's .598 OPS has most of us wondering if there really isn't a better option (spoiler alert: there is). He's without a home run, putting together poor at bats, and showing no signs of returning to form. The story Bochy is pitching is this: Pagan is dealing with bum knees, and once (if) he manages to shake the discomfort, he believes that Pagan will rebound and start to regain his form. Even if we're to just take Bochy's word for it, here are a couple important problems with the 'don't worry it'll resolve itself' plan of attack.

Pagan is still being run out there every day as the leadoff hitter. The leadoff hitter part is especially important, because he is not getting on base. Since mid-June his on base percentage has hovered around .300, which not only is not good, but it's also going down from there - currently at .290. Even if hes' going to play every day in the hopes that he recovers, there's no need to continue to use him in such a critical role.

He's playing (poorly) in pain, while there are healthier options on the bench. White shark, anyone? Everything about his game has been better than Pagan's, and yet he's played just 13 games in the leadoff spot. His slash line as the leadoff hitter? Oh, well it's .365/.441/.577. Monday's game saw Aoki lead off and Blanco bat second, and hopefully that will remain the case until Joe Panik returns.

Fangraphs' version of WAR has him ranked as the second least-valuable outfielder in MLB among those qualified (third baseman-turned outfielder Hanley Ramirez ranks last). If you lower the qualifier to 250 plate appearances, he's still 4th to last. Case in point, Pagan needs a reduced role. And Bruce Bochy needs to realize the team will be better for it when he gets one.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Matt Duffy is outperforming Pablo Sandoval

Duffman is the hero we all deserve, after Pablo Sandoval's graceful departure from San Francisco. Casey McGehee was already penciled in as the starting third baseman, but Duffy's huge spring warranted a spot on the roster - thank goodness.

To date, McGehee has been nothing short of really bad, while his successor at the hot corner seems to be making more than just the most of his opportunity. He's in even filling the shoes he nor McGehee were expected to fill. I'll get to the numbers in a second, and they're pretty great.

It's important to remember that the Giants anticipated taking a hit in their offensive output from 3b at the start of 2015. They had every reason to believe that even their intended starter wouldn't measure up to the success that Pablo had for years. They also hoped to be close to on par defensively. But the failure of McGehee has, in short, led to the Giants looking better and more consistent at third base than they have in years.

Since his inarguable best year in 2011 (.315/.357/.552), Sandoval settled into a much more average but consistent player.

Here are his batting averages, on-base percentages and slugging percentages from 2013, 2014, and thus far in 2015, respectively:

             '13    '14    '15
AVG: .278  .279  .270
OBP:  .341  .324  .322
SLG:  .417  .415  .410

In a game this difficult with such a long season, that's pretty damn consistent. And no one's going to knock those numbers, in fact the Giants desperately wanted a few more seasons of them. And yet, here's Matt Duffy.

AVG:  .290
OBP:  .340
SLG:  .435

That's just the surface level stuff, though. Watching him play, it's actually kind of fun watching a third baseman who doesn't forfeit his own at bats with awful swings as often as he squares one up. It's fun watching Duffy play and much more rarely have to worry if he's up with a runner at first base and less than two outs. It's even more fun watching him play the position, because he does it better than the large version of the panda, and the numbers support that statement.

It's incredible to think that two years ago, he was putting up similar numbers for the San Jose Giants, and now he's manning third base for the big club. I appreciate what Sandoval did for the Giants, it's hard not to - but I am pulling for a $509k a year 568th overall pick to end up being a preferable option to a formerly loved and now loathed $17.6m a year fast food connoisseur.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Yes, you DO want Jake Peavy

Ah, classic Jake.

No, you're right. He's not James Shields or Max Scherzer (an astute observation). He's Jake Peavy, the man whose presence in the post-all-star starting rotation was unequivocally one of the biggest reasons the Giants ended up making the playoffs. Sure, he stank like you know what in the World Series - but that's the definition of a sample size. Prior to that he was a very comparable place-filler for the injured Matt Cain. And now, he has re-signed with the Giants to remain a part of that rotation for the next two seasons. The immediate reaction from the interwebs was a series of groans and remarks like "we have money for him, but not for Panda or Morse?" Thankfully baseball is so black and white. Here are the facts.

The Giants need starting pitchers. Pitching is what won them all 3 of their recent World Series titles. Naturally then, having a rounded out starting rotation should rank pretty highly on the list. Even still, this need was only addressed AFTER diverting all resources and assets to retaining Pablo Sandoval. It's said that the Giants offered Panda a comparable deal to that which he ended up taking from the Red Sox. Plain and simple, the Giants did what they "had" to do but Panda wanted a change. That isn't on ownership, and doesn't count as "not trying". Let's not even talk about why you don't really want Pablo Sandoval for that deal anyhow.

Getting back to it, Jake Peavy fills a more permanent spot in the Giants rotation that is littered with question marks. Will Tim Lincecum be a replacement level player this year? Does Matt Cain have any other random debris in his throwing arm? Is Tim Hudson going to pitch like you should probably expect from a 40 year old? No one knows. Peavy comes with a little more certainty than that, at an acceptable price, for a reasonable term. Even had he not excelled in his time with San Francisco this year, this would still be a favorable deal which doesn't restrict them from going after other, bigger names, while still providing what will hopefully be a great season for the price.

Do I want either of the other aforementioned free agent starters? You bet. But I also wanted to see the return of the starter who held a 2.17 ERA (161 ERA+) in his 78.2 innings, better than any of the starters not named Madison Bumgarner put up over any period of time this year. I've got a good feeling, let's at least see how it plays out a little before we randomly blame the signing for the downfall of failed others or heaven knows what else.

Hey, even if he flops, it'll only increase the amount of entertaining "emotion" we see from him on the mound.

Jake finds out he's only getting $24 million for Christmas