Offseason In Review: San Francisco Giants

Last but not least, the Giants conclude our Offseason In Review series.

Major League Signings

Notable Minor League Signings


Trades and Claims

  • Claimed Rule 5 P Steven Johnson from Orioles; returned 3/16/10
  • Acquired cash considerations from Blue Jays for P Merkin Valdez
  • Acquired a player to be named later or cash from Red Sox for IF Kevin Frandsen

Notable Losses


Giants GM Brian Sabean signed five position players to free agent contracts and extended four of his own pitchers.  Let's evaluate.

Sabean spent $34.75MM to secure DeRosa, Sanchez, Molina, Uribe, and Huff.  These five players combined for an offensive line of .266/.313/.431 in 2009.  Sabean has crafted a lineup with only one dangerous hitter in Pablo Sandoval; CHONE projections indicate that the Giants will again have one of the four worst offenses in the league.  The Uribe signing was defensible.  Molina wasn't terribly overpriced, though a combination of Buster Posey and a cheaper veteran would've offered more upside.  DeRosa, Sanchez, and Huff will need to stay healthy and exceed their '09 production to justify the signings.

Pitching should again be a strong suit.  Wellemeyer and Mota were decent minor league pickups.  Sabean did well to secure Lincecum through 2011 and avoid an arbitration hearing.  The Cain extension saved the Giants a little money in the short term, guaranteed his 2011 salary, and bought out one free agent year, potentially a win for both sides.  Sabean exchanged risk for cost certainty on Wilson, and can retain Affeldt for an extra year or two.  All four extensions made sense, and the Giants have a clearer picture of their payroll for the next few years. 

As much as I like the Giants' pitching, I don't think it will be enough to carry them past the Rockies and Dodgers to the playoffs.  The Giants haven't scored 700 runs in a season since Barry Bonds, Ray Durham, and Moises Alou led the way in '06.  Sabean's offseason tinkering doesn't convince me they'll reach that modest level in 2010.

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38 Comments on "Offseason In Review: San Francisco Giants"

5 years 4 months ago

I’ll be the first to say that the Giants offense is underrated this year and they will surprise people. I’m going to play the IF game here.

IF Aubrey Huff retains his 2008 numbers and IF Mark DeRosa has HR numbers he did last year with the average he had with the Cubs they will be alright and will score runs. Not to mention a healthier Renteria will be able to pull the ball now with a surgically repaired elbow, and that should translate into a better offensive line.

I’m going to say it here Aubrey Huff will be the free agent steal of the year if he produces 2008 numbers.

5 years 4 months ago

I love the “if” game.

If Thome returns to his 2007 form he will be the FA pick-up of the off-season. I mean $5m for an OPS near 1000.

The Giants are like a lot of teams … if all the “ifs” break in their favor then yes, they could have a decent offense. However, that is a heck of a lot of “ifs” and many are not likely (Huff/Renteria being the least likely). Using likely production, this Giants offense is just plain bad.

I also am still confused by the Cain extension. If my math is correct they basically bought out one year of FA for $15-17m.

5 years 4 months ago

One year of free agency which he would have gotten paid $15 mill by another team…

I’d rather keep him. It shows him the organization likes him and hopefully will make him want to stay. Nothing wrong with Cain being a career Giant.

5 years 4 months ago

It was more than just that, if you look at the incentives he could’ve earned in 2010 and 2011. Assuming they expected him to hit all the IP/GS incentives on his old contract, this new contract saves them about $1.5 mil over 2010-11. The slight downside is that they are now locked in for ’11 when they previously were able to decline that option in the event of a catastrophic injury.

5 years 4 months ago

tim- i will have to agree the offense isn’t the greatest, but with that pitching, plus a great bullpen in the west, will be enough to carry them. colorado i don’t think will repeat last years improbably run to the postseason, and the dodgers don’t have the pitching to compete. giants will either win the division or come up big in the wild card.

5 years 4 months ago

I think the offense will be improved from last year; Freddy Sanchez continues to be a question mark with his return pushed back to May, though a healthy Renteria could be a passable replacement in the 2-hole. Molina is batting 6th, where he belongs, and where his slowness will be less detrimental to the ballclub, especially how much roster flexibility they have, including speed off the bench in Torres and Velez. Rowand is due for an improvement and his ST performance and attitude seem to reflect this. The lineup, frankly, is better from top to bottom.

The main two questions that loom for the Giants are, ironically, pitching and defense, their two strengths last year. Will Sanchez, Zito, and Wellemeyer show more consistency this year? Can the bullpen keep the last three innings locked down as well as last year? Can Lincecum and Cain continue to improve their game? And will the Giants’ regression on defense hurt the pitching, namely through Aubrey Huff and Mark DeRosa?

I think that the Giants will put enough runs on the board this year if their run prevention stays roughly constant from last year. the lineup Rowand, Sanchez, Sandoval, Huff, DeRosa, Molina, Renteria/Uribe, and Schierholtz is really the least of their worries.

5 years 4 months ago

Giants never get any love from people outside the bay. Peter Gammons echoed similar remarks in a recent article he wrote. Giants aren’t a “sexy” team that the national writers like to be enamoured over.

Here’s the facts: The giants won 88 games last year….and improved over this offseason.
The Rockies nor the Dodgers did anything to improve themselves
If Brandon Web if healthy, the NL West with be the tightest race in all
of baseball.

……Besides, east coast writers are going to bed when our games are starting. If you watch this team everyday, and have been watching them every year you might possibly see that there is actully something to be exited about with the Giants.

5 years 4 months ago

Are you really playing the “east coast gives us no respect card?”

The Giants offense was terrible last year. TERRIBLE. They sign more middle-of-the-road free agents whose offense will be hurt–not helped–by AT&T. People need to realize that the team’s offense scored more runs than it should have based on its poor hitting stats, and that’s a bad sign for this year as these numbers tend to come back in line.

Hoping that the new acquirees will match their career bests is nothing more than late March blind optimism. There’s still very little position player help ready to contribute from the minor league system, so they can’t even rebuild. It’s another season out of the playoffs for the Giants faithful.

5 years 4 months ago

Hmmm… you are counting out a team that had 88 wins and bettered their lineup before the first game of the season??

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but the Giants were in it until late September last season. Dodgers didn’t take any strides to get better so the NL West is wide open this year.

5 years 4 months ago

What I’m saying is that last year’s team overachieved. Teams like that tend to revert rather than sustain. And you have to keep in mind that they stayed relatively healthy last year.

And do you really think that Huff (who was terrible last year), DeRosa (a decent player with a bad wrist who will be hurt by AT&T) and Sanchez (out until at leat May) really make them that much better?

I’m a Giants fan since ’73, but I can’t dress up this pig. This is a TERRIBLE offense that will finish at the bottom again. Let’s pray that Sandoval stays limber, because they’re one pulled hammy away from the cellar.

5 years 4 months ago

Aubrey Huff is better than Travis Ishikawa/Rich Aurilia factor.
Freddy Sanchez is better than Eugenio Velez/Emmanuel Burris/Kevin Frandsen.

They don’t need to be a ton better…they just need to hang with the Dodgers / Rockies.

5 years 4 months ago

Eeeexactly. And this is a team that really believes it can win this year. Attitude can make a huge difference, and I think the right attitude is what’s lacking in Colorado and Los Angeles. The Rockies and Dodgers are under more pressure than any franchise in the National League… And I’d contend that any team who steal the pennant from the Phillies is overachieving.

5 years 4 months ago

Everything you wrote here has absolutely nothing to do with my evaluation of the team. I’m not east coast, I watch their games, and I looked at numbers. The fact is that many players will need to significantly outplay their projections for their offense not to suck. Could happen, sure, but right now we’re looking at the info we do have instead of just guessing that they will hit better.

5 years 4 months ago

I’m not sure I said the facts i noted had anything to do with your evaluation. Two things that make me think you don’t really watch the giants:
1) You listed Brian Bocock and Bob Howry as notable losses… the only thing “notable” about Howry is the number “losses” the team suffered due his league leading walkoff pitches. As for Bocock, I hardly think anyone will know he’s gone.
2) In 2006 when Bonds,Alou, and Durham “led the way” with 700 runs scored, the team finished 76-85…

So, how did the giants improve 12 games with an offense ranked near deadlast, and without having scored 700 runs since ’06???

5 years 4 months ago

Tim, you just got pwned! very nice, kneehighlocator.. couldnt have said it any better myself.

and no we dont get any love from the East Coast “analysts”.. especially from that joke Buster Olney.

but can someone please tell me how the Dodgers and Rockies improved this off-season and why they are the “clear-cut” favorite to win the NL West…? please…? I have been waiting all off-season to hear this…

LA lost their best pitcher not named Kershaw (and who knows how he will do this season now that the league knows who he is).. Wolf was a HUGE loss, one that wont be filled by Padilla.. Manny is not the same player he was two years ago when he went on that tear at the end of the 2008 season after he was traded.. he will be more like the one that started out the 2008 season in Boston before he was dealt.

Colorado has question marks as well, mainly in regards to their pitching staff.. they lost their most consistent pitcher (and arguably their most important pitcher last season), Jason Marquis.. he had a great season for them and he wasnt replaced.. who knows how well Jeff Francis is going to rebound from the serious injury he sustained.. he hasnt pitched in over a year.

Its just funny how people are so quick to disregard the Giants when the fact is they won 88 games last year with an anemic offense, yet they were in the thick of the playoff race in September.. they have improved their lineup (while it may not be the drastic change people had hoped for) it is still an improvement.. I really hope Rent and Rowand get back to their old ways (which might not be too much to ask for considering Rent is supposedly healthy and considering the offseason Rowand had).. if they continue to struggle, I hope Boch takes his head out of his ass and gets Uribe in for Rent and Torres/Velez in for Rowand.

In regards to our pitching staff, I do think they can be even better.. just look at how bad Sanchez and Zito started the season and look at how well they finished.. I honestly believe Sanchez has “figured it out” and I cant wait to see his progression from ’09 to ’10 because I think he will take a big step this year.. ever since that demotion and then the no-no (really a perfect game in my book) he has been dominant.. Zito has been pitching better and better since he first came here.. I think he pitched the best he has ever pitched in a Giants uniform the second half of last season so I am excited to see if he can carry it over.. I think now knowing he is the number 3 pitcher on the team should help ease the enormous amount of pressure he was under after he signed that gazillion dollar contract.

I think we have a lot to be excited about.. and just keep in mind, the future is even brighter.. these FA pickups are all stop gap solutions.. we have a lot of promising young players coming up in the next year or two.. a lot to look forward to.

5 years 4 months ago

On paper the Giants are far better…not only by additions but by subtractions..

Bob Howry and Merkin Valdez were horrible. Replaced by Dan Runzler and Waldis Juoquin. Runzler has been F’n DOMINANT.

Randy Winn is gone. He was decent but too streaky, when cold he was antarctic. Bowker/Schierholtz should do better.

2B was a cluster F last year with rotating rookies failing. This year Freddy Sanchez/Juan Uribe make the position much better.

5 years 4 months ago

I don’t agree that they are better on paper. On paper their offense projects to be 14th rather than 13th in the NL, and their pitching staff projects to put up a worse ERA. Maybe you disagree, but CHONE projections are the best “on paper” you’re going to get, and they say the Giants are worse.

5 years 4 months ago

Huff and DeRosa have been pretty impressive so far. I’m not saying we are a W.S. bound team, but competing in the N.L. West is definitely a reachable goal.

Wellemeyer has been very good so far. Either way he will be better than Sadler/Martinez until Bumgarner is ready…

5 years 4 months ago


Last year, CHONE projected the Giants for 77 wins. As for PECOTA (who Baseball Prospectus promotes commercially as “deadly accurate”) — they had the Giants at 76 wins. Most people will say the Giants “overachieved” in 2009. That’s like saying the Pacific Ocean is wet. Anything that falls above or below the PECOTA or CHONE projections will be labeled as “overachievement” or “underachievement.”

None of the forecasters can predict with any real accuracy how teams will perform, because they cannot account for intangibles (injuries, trades, team chemistry, unexpected breakout seasons, clutch hitting, etc.).

In my opinion, the two main keys to the Giants’ success this year will be: 1. Jonathan Sanchez; and 2) John Bowker.

I believe Sanchez is primed for a breakout season. And if I’m right, there won’t be too many 3-game losing streaks going on in San Francisco.

I also believe that Bowker will break out in 2010. Good ol’ CHONE has him at .276/.351/.457 with 15 HR/62 RBI. Do your homework on Bowker and you will learn that he has dominated the minors. I believe 2010 will be the year that he “figures it out” and we will see a batting average closer to .290 with 26-28 HR and 85-90 RBI.

With a studly Sanchez and Bowker on board (not to mention the other upgrades the Gigantes have made), the Giants will definitely win more than 88 games in 2010.

That being said, 92-94 wins may not be enough to win the NL West with the Dodgers and Rockies still to contend with.

5 years 4 months ago

I don’t buy projections in general, and I find CHONE in particular to be pretty pessimistic on all counts. But then, it’s only as much as should be expected from statisticians. The Giants are much more cognizant of their offensive challenges this year, and have taken more time this ST to focus on manufacturing runs than last year. They know what they have to do, and as mentioned elsewhere they have unequivocal offensive upgrades at second base and the corner outfield spots, with fairly reasonable expectations for improvement at first, center, and shortstop. That’s six positions on an upswing, with the other two occupied by Sandoval and Molina, who is in a more malleable spot in the order.

If number crunching could tell us everything, teams wouldn’t spend so much money on scouting which, incidentally, actually goes onto paper rather than into an algorithm.

I mean no offense to you, but there are just too many variables to take projections and simulations too seriously… Especially if ZiPS can simulate a season where Josh Beckett goes 27-2. We should help ourselves to a big ol’ grain of salt.

5 years 4 months ago

Of all the reviews, blogs, and comments I’ve read about the Giants…how come EVERYBODY outside of the organization thinks Sabean is an idiot and poor GM, yet nobody in the organization sees it? It is so frustrating as a lifelong Giants fan to see him fail each year with FA, trades and evaluating players.

5 years 4 months ago

Sabean has screwed us every year since 2003, the year after we went to the series, had the best player in history, and he still couldn’t build around him. Sabean makes bonehead moves every year. If we don’t make the playoffs this year I can’t see him retaining his job. Nobody has talked about it yet but watch out for the possibility of a deadline move. This team is on the cusp and 2 months into the year we will see where we need to improve, but will we do it?

5 years 4 months ago

Sabean put together a pitching staff that was 2nd in the NL in last year that allowed them to win 88 games. That’s why he still has a job. If you look at his trade history it’s not as bad a you think. Snow, Burks, Schmidt, Winn, and Nen were players he traded nothing to get.

5 years 4 months ago

He also brought in Kent, which had as much to do with the 2002 run as anybody not playing left field on that team.

Moreover, we have Sabean to thank to reinvigorating the farm system as the Bonds era faded, an effort which will yield big rewards in 2012 and beyond.

5 years 4 months ago

I didn’t mention Kent because he cost Williams who was my favorite Giant once Clark left. That turned out to be a excellent trade. My point was he made excellent trades once upon a time. I didn’t mind the Garko trade because the team clearly needed a RH bat.

5 years 4 months ago


I am a lifelong Giants fan and I agree with your assessment. Three other points I would add are: 1, the Sanchez signing was spectacularly stupid given the question marks about his health and lack of market for 2bs, 2, replacing the aggregate contribution of Johnson/Sadowski/Penny will not be that easy – Penny was a big part of the team’s run in Aug/Sep, and 3, Sabean’s roster management is heavily impaired by the organization’s failure to make clear evaluations and decisions regarding players on the bubble (Lewis, Velez, Bowker, Schierholz, Ishikawa, etc.).

5 years 4 months ago

I think this is the first “Offseason in Review” series where one of first posts isn’t, “You call [insert name here] a notable loss?????”

You know who you are.

5 years 4 months ago

Noah Lowry is a notable loss from last year??? How do you figure?? He was an above average pitcher for one year, maybe two. However, he hasn’t pitched since late 2007, and unless I am mistaken, he has not signed with another team. The only “notable” part is the millions of dollars he is NOT receiving to bad mouth the Giants to the media!!

As for CHONE and PECOTA, if they were that good, WS trophies would be handed out in March when the ratings came out, all games would be regular season games would be cancelled, and we could spend our summers on a beach sipping cocktails. Doesn’t work that way though. They can not factor in things like injuries or suspensions (see Manny Ramirez)

For those of you that continue to bad mouth Sabean, it is obvious you have never been in upper management. Decisions involving several million dollar contracts are NEVER unilateral (translation: he doesn’t decide on his own). These contracts receive input from scouts, managers, vesting partners, owners and so on. Many times he is simply the spokesperson for the decision. If you want to throw someone under the bus for a bad signing, start at the top (ie those who decided that payroll with remain under 100 million even after the HUGE Comcast contract the Giants signed) and work your way down. The Giants have money to spend, but choose to be greedy. Sabean is a spoke in the wheel. He does what he’s told at work, just like you and me.

5 years 4 months ago

Wow. I guess my post above spoke too soon.

5 years 4 months ago

LOL…I read your comment yesterday and had to laugh. You were predicting thoughts that I was having.

I assumed though that you were talking about someone else; someone who is chronically stating “You call [insert name here] a notable loss?????” This is the first time I have visited this website in a few weeks, and the first response I had created in a few months.

5 years 4 months ago

He makes a great point. Lowry hasn’t been a major contributor in years. And CHONE and PECOTA are not “deadly accurate”, unless you buy the hype.

5 years 4 months ago

I have to say I disagree with this review. Not because I am a diehard Giants fan, but because this article is just tilted too much toward a pessemistic view. Nowhere in this article do you even attempt to think that DeRosa, Huff, Rowand, or Renteria might just IMPROVE on thier numbers from ’09.

First the Vets:
Renteria: Played almost the entire season at one of the most demanding positions mostly injured, and still hit .250 and was servicable on the field. I look to see him climb more towards his career splits even though he is getting older. And in the 8 spot, those numbers will be an improvment to what the Giants had last year in that spot.

Rowand: Shouldn’t have to talk about this, but he worked on his conditioning and plate approach all offseason and looks vastly improved at the plate and in the field even without look at the statistics of his scorching spring . Leading off might be a stretch, but I also see an improvement in his overall offensive numbers.

DeRosa: Everyone assumes that the guy will regress this season. Why? because he has a surgically repaired wrist? If he could learn to take advantage of right center at AT&T, then I could see his bat doing alot of good for the club. Also, left field will be easier to hit HR to than right.

Huff: All you hear about Huff is that his fielding will negate any offense he produces. Has anyone checked his fielding % at 1st? .993. HR’s might be down with that wicked right field, but his slugging % shouldn’t suffer and I think he has a resugent year in the NL.

Molina: I don’t expect this year to be as good as last. But, the rotation loves him and having his leadership behind the plate is a boon for the entire pitching staff. Oh and maybe he might just have a young kid named buster behind him to spell him every few days and provide some help at 1st as well. With that, I could see him actually lasting the whole year and not sputtering into Aug. and Sept. Also, he is how in the 6 hole, which will keep him out of the basepaths for the other run producers and help the offense score runs.

As for the noteable losses: I don’t have to go too far into that. The majority of the players on your list did not make notable contributions to the team. These include Bob Howry, Brian Bocock, Merkin Valdez, Noah Lowry, Randy Winn, and Rich Aurillia. Randy was the most productive, but I would have liked to see Nate Scheirholtz out there. He would have provided the same defense with more offensive upside.

Another thing I see going on, for those of you who say the Giants over acheived, how many teams consistantly play .700 baseball like the rockies did at the end of the year? Why are they considered to continue that without any regress?

I guess my opinion of the projections is this: They are projections. If I’m not mistaken, baseball was around long before the computer. I wonder how players were projected then? Maybe their performance in the spring. not their statistic performance , but there is a reason why there is a congregation of coaches in each organization. They are there to evaluate their talent and to field the best team possible. The offense was bad last year but not the worst and with the improvements to each position and a more consistant lineup, with a good showing from the pitching staff,(doesn’t have to be a repeat of last year)this organization can continue to build upon the success of last year and begin their emergence as contenders in the NL. Look for Sabean to make a push at the trade deadline if it is necessary this year.

5 years 4 months ago

You and I have pretty similar points, but I feel like I should call you out on Huff before some other basher armed with a sabermetric bludgeon does. Fielding percentage is not a very accurate indicator of defensive ability, and Huff has made some pretty sloppy mistakes in ST. I hope his defense continues to improve, but he bobbles his fair share of plays and then some from what I could tell from the webcasts.

FanGraphs posts his career UZR at first base – though he’s only started 320 games there across nine seasons, which is a bit thin for an accurate sample size – has him pegged at -6.2, largely due to a -7.2 rating for range. Our infield, as is, does not have much range, but what has me worried is his ball handling skills.

5 years 4 months ago

The only notable losses from last year are Justin Miller and Brad Penny, and there were a lot of questions about Penny fitting the team’s chemistry. The 2010 Giants boil down to this: They won 88 games, were fighting for a playoff spot until the last week or two of the season, and did this with terrific pitching and horrible hitting. The Giants have since added two significant bats (Huff & DeRosa) to the offense. They should be a better, more balanced team in 2010 than in 2009.

5 years 4 months ago

The key result of the Giants off-season is risk mitigation and marginal improvement.

Everyone is high on Posey. But the problem with most complainers about the Molina signing is that none of them ever consider the consequences when you are wrong. They don’t think strategically about the business operations about what if it don’t work like you think it will, they do not mitigate for the risks involved.

For example, everyone was high on Wieters last season and he was considered a better hitting prospect AND he hit better than Posey in the minors, and yet he struggled in the majors until the final two weeks with a sub-700 OPS. What if Posey is mid-600 OPS this season, think the Giants will really win with that and score runs?

Meanwhile, Molina is a pretty sure bet to be above 700 OPS, and he had clearly ran out of steam by season end in 2008 and 2009, so if Posey comes up mid-season, that’s win-win-win, Molina gets more rest, can hit better deeper into the season, Posey will represent no drop-off in offensive production hopefully (at least not as much as Whiteside) when he’s taking a start at C, if he’s hitting, he’ll steal LHP starts from Huff at 1B, plus he gets to learn from Molina how he handles the pitching staff, plus develop a relationship with and understanding of each starting pitcher without all the pressure of doing it immediately or you just screwed up the whole season.

Have anybody who blasts the signings look at what the Giants got from those positions in 2009? 2B was an offensive black hole. Sanchez, even at his lower stats of recent years, would be a huge improvement over that. Uribe too while he is there, even at his prior to 2009 badness. And anyone who talks of trading away our second best pitching prospect for Sanchez did not look at what Alderson did in the minors in 2009, they were buying his hype, the Giants sold high on Alderson. Sanchez at least won a batting championship once, Hudson could only hit well at home, what are the odds he can do that in SF? His road numbers stink, and his defense had been slipping in recent years. Then who else was there? Besides DeRosa, that is.

Huff was just a $3M gamble that 2008 returns. If it returns or is even close, we just boosted up the lineup offensively, and with Ishikawa coming in late game for defense, every little bit helps. If he doesn’t do well, then they still have Ishikawa around to take over and provide defense that would lead the league in UZR if he played a full season.

DeRosa’s value is in his ability to play multiple positions at high defensive value – see his UZR/150, for most positions he gains his team one win per season at his level of play – while being a good enough hitter. Good enough for almost any position offensively except for 1B.

So if there is any injury or very poor production anywhere, the Giants would have a great replacement ready, C or 1B, you got Posey plus Ishikawa at 1B, MI or 3B, Uribe is there for a game here or there, but DeRosa can play all those positions while in LF Schierholtz can step in and hopefully do what he’s projected to show (well, he would play RF and Bowker LF), plus if Neal, Ford, or Kieschnick have a breakout year in AA, they would be ready by mid-season to jump up. The Giants are covered for the most part.

Risk mitigation, of injury, poor performance, whatever, plus marginal improvements offensively, from not only the new guys, but also the guys there.

SS .658 OPS in 2009, Renteria should do better than that now that he doesn’t have an asteroid in his elbow, and maybe throw better too, helping his defense.

2B .611 (!!!) OPS in 2009, Sanchez should be a huge improvement and meanwhile, Uribe would be a huge improvement, even if he reverts back to his prior ungoodness (same for SS if Renteria sucks/DLed/whatever, risk mitigation again).

RF .694 OPS in 2009, between Bowker and Schierholtz, they should beat that and hopefully by a lot, and Schierholtz has been as good defensively in the majors as Winn was plus Bowker was good defensively playing RF in the minors.

C .692 OPS, mainly because Whiteside was so bad, and Molina tired out, but this year Posey will come up and give Molina rest plus hit better than Whiteside.

1B .733 OPS, either Huff will beat that handily or Ishikawa will take over because of his great defense.

3B .900 OPS, hard to believe but Sandoval hit that well in 2009 unable to see the pitches: he needed glasses. This spring, he has contacts and goggles, and he says he can see the pitches clearly now. That would help explain why he was swinging at so many pitches outside of the zone, the ball was a blur to him. Also, he didn’t start hitting for homers until June, so his OPS for the first two months was around .800 OPS and thus much higher later. So there is a good chance that he should be able to improve on that in 2010, since he should be hitting homers all season long.

LF .743 OPS in 2009, DeRosa, when not injured, beats that easily plus plays better defense than Lewis did in 2009, so that’s improvement either way.

CF .743 OPS in 2009, don’t know if Rowand can improve on it, he is supposedly in shape now and he hit great in spring, but obviously he’s doing horribly in the first two games. He’s the only spot that does not have great risk mitigation. But I wouldn’t expect him to play much worse, and if he is injured mid-season, we might see Darren Ford come up, he hit well in spring and defensively he’s good already.

I don’t know how you got so low a Runs Scored with CHONE – using the exact lineup and the actual numbers (Musing’s calculator goes to unlikely lineups) – plus I used the Giants 2009 #9 hitting stats, but I got 4.44 runs scored per game with that lineup, which is 719 runs in a season. Averaging across Shandler (Baseball Forecaster), Graphical Player, Bill James, CHONE, ZiPS, and Marcel, I get 4.48 runs scored on average.

That with last year’s overall defense – pitching and fielding – the Giants win 93 games. If they regress from 3.77 runs allowed, they still win 90 games at 3.93 runs allowed.

One can expect regression from Cain but Lincecum looks to be as good as always, and both Sanchez and Zito has the possibility of countering Cain’s regression and off-setting or better that. Wellemeyer is not great, but Johnson wasn’t that great in 2009 either, nor Sadowski or Martinez, people forget that Penny didn’t really start that many games for us, overall they were a collective mid-4 ERA, which should be doable for Wellemeyer, that’s roughly his FIP the past two seasons.

The bullpen, while losing good production from Howry and Miller, get great replacements in Runzler, Joaquin, and Mota, both Runzler and Joaquin has the stuff to become closers if that job were open. And Wilson, as good as he did last season, added back his plus curve that he had not used until this season for some reason, when he was drafted his curve was considered very good, but maybe his TJS spooked him about using it. But now he’s using it, so I would not expect any regression that might be forecasted for him.

And these are all reasons why projections, while good for mass analysis, falls down when you get down to the nitty gritty, I feel. There are always factors that the number crunching does not take into account (like Pablo’s improved vision or Renteria’s healthy elbow). And just looking solely at what is there obscures the fact that there were black holes in the lineup in 2009 that got filled with OK production.

And if you use Pythagorean with how well the Giants can keep their runs allowed, you will see that you don’t need a good offense to win with that, you only need an average offense, and the Giants look to have that in 2010, plus perhaps improvement in pitching (Sanchez, Zito, Runzler, Joaquin).

That, along with the Dodgers losing Wolf’s production and not replacing it and the Rockies losing Marquis’s production and not replacing it, plus their replacement, Francis, is out for at least a month, plus they just lost their closer, and the D-backs not getting back Webb for at least a month, means to me that the Giants should be right there in the middle of the scrum, battling for the division title in 2010, with a good chance of winning.

The key things are that risk mitigation reduces the risk that any bad news anywhere will sink the team’s chances and that incremental improvement in key black holes would be enough to boost the lineup to be able to win 90+ games. And that’s if they do as projected, if anyone overproduces, that pretty much gets us the division.

5 years 4 months ago

I would add one more thing. While truisms (like “you need good offense”) work in analysis generally, they tend to fall down when you get to extremes.

People get down on the Giant’s offense because it frankly is not good, but they neglect to realize that when your defense – pitching and fielding – is one of the best, if not THE best, in the majors, you can win with average offense.

The best way to see this is to build a table to see it. I have one at my blog, if you want to see how that works: link to

If you allow 5 runs a game, you need a top offense to win 90 games with that. Even with a middling 4.5 runs allowed, you still need to be in the top 3 offensive teams in the NL to win 90 games. But if you can keep your runs allowed to 4.0 per game, you can have one of the worse offenses in the NL and still win 90 games with that.

Another thing that people don’t notice is that the better defense – pitching and fielding – a team has, the less they need to score to win. If you look at my table, you will see that for every 0.1 runs rise in runs allowed, the team needs to score 0.11 runs in order to still win 90 games. Thus, any analysis that looks only at the team’s offense without accounting for the fact that you need less runs to win when you are good defenisvely will be off. The Giants, at roughly 3.8 runs allowed, can score 20 less runs than the Brewers and still win as many games as they do.

4 years 6 months ago

This is hilarious reading in hindsight… Just saying =) Go Giants!!!

4 years 5 months ago

Yeah, I just read all of the comments, it is pretty hilarious.