Giants prospects news

Though spring training has barely started, there have been some positive/interesting news about the prospects, culled from local newspapers (San Jose Mercury, SF Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, Santa Rosa Press Democrat) , sfgiants.com, and Baseball America (care of Steve Shelby's site):
  • [Matt Cain]'s also lighting up spring training with the Giants, and though it’s early, he’s going to pitch his way into their crowded rotation if he keeps throwing the heck out of it like he has this spring…. I like Cain’s fastball command better and his knockout breaking ball [in comparison to the Indian’s Adam Miller and the Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley].” - John Manuel from Baseball America. This view was reiterated in a number of local newspapers as well.
  • When it was mentioned to Manager Felipe Alou that he was impressed with Cain last year in spring training, Alou smiled and said, "I'm more impressed now." Alou has noticed that Cain has filled out physically, throws harder and has developed a "tighter" breaking ball. Alou also related that a player -- who he would not identify, except to say that he was new to the organization -- said to him incredulously, "You tell me this guy's not on the pitching staff?" ...."I believe that's the kind of guy any organization would never, ever trade," Alou said. "Everybody has a good eye on that kid." [Damn straight, my opinion of Sabean will go into the dumper if Cain is traded unless we get, say, Vlad Guerrero in exchange, or someone like him]
  • Manager Felipe Alou was impressed with [John Bowker]. "I heard he was a good hitter, so he's already 1-for-1 with a double," said Alou. "We'll see him and the others later on."
  • "[Pat Misch] looked good out there and has complicated the inventory," said Alou. "Misch has three real good pitches, and you bring that stuff to a game in A or Double-A ball and he's going to get people out. "He has a shot at the Triple-A rotation [at Fresno] this year -- it's his to lose," said Alou. [Scouting report plus his stats have Misch at a more advanced development state than Lowry was when Lowry was in AA, though he still has to make a big leap to make the Majors]
  • [Erick] Threets looked powerful, despite giving up Bowker's double and hitting a photographer on a warmup pitch. The 23-year-old underwent surgery to repair a left shoulder tear and that cost him the 2004 season. "He was good today. He is real healthy now and more mature," said Alou. "It's going to happen sooner or later. He's going to see the light. He's scary."
  • [Another quote on Erick Threets by Alou from another writer] "He looks good this spring. We haven't seen the wild pitches and the hit batters. I'm not saying much about that kid because we want to leave it at what it is right now. We want him to surprise us. The feeling is that he's healthy now and more mature. It's going to happen sooner or later; he's going to see the light. He's pitching easier this year, not so much pumped up like he was before."
  • Minor league outfielder Dan Ortmeier received an engaged, hands-on lesson [from Barry Bonds] that lasted almost a half-hour. [Hopefully he learned something]
  • Who are some of the lesser known sleepers with amazing tools in lower levels not on the top 100 list that could potentially make large impacts? A: John Manuel (BA): Marcus Sanders is one of some good candidates.
  • Baseball America ranks RHP Matt Cain #13, Merkin Valdez #58, and Fred Lewis #78 in their Top 100 Prospects ranking for 2005.
  • Threets said he has smoothed out his delivery and he is having an easier time repeating it consistently. His triple-digit velocity hasn't come back, but he believes it will.
  • "... you have to stay with what you do. For me, that's hitting line drives.'' [Kevin] Frandsen, 22, resumed doing that fairly quickly during last fall's instructional league after a broken collarbone ended his promising professional debut. "He made a great showing,'' General Manager Brian Sabean said Tuesday, explaining why Frandsen received a non-roster invitation here. "Our guys are very high on his ability, as well as his work ethic.'' A 12th-round selection in last year's amateur draft, Frandsen hit .296 in 25 games with short-season rookie league Salem-Keizer before his injury. He'll probably begin the season with Class A San Jose or Hagerstown.
  • Alou said Jason Ellison has the inside track on the fifth outfield spot. Ellison has played two full seasons at Triple-A, so the Giants aren't worried about stalling his development by having him sit on the bench in the majors. The club may feel that someone such as Todd Linden, for example, would be better served to play every day in the minors.
  • [Mike Cervenak] has been held back for lack of a position. His defense at third base is not considered big-league caliber, and, at 5-foot-11, he is viewed as too small for a first baseman. But the Giants love Cervenak's bat and believe he could be a valuable corner utility player on a major-league team. His path to the Giants seems blocked, but stranger things have happened.

Additional thoughts on Giants picking early in draft

I posted this response on McCovey Chronicles and put together some additional analysis on how early the Giants have picked so I'm including it here now to go with my text in the post below. FYI, someone had noted the Giants prediliction of giving up 1st round picks and this was my response.

I had commented in my article (on Scout.com's Giants page) on the draft that the Giants are known for drafting ahead of scout's expectations, so I posited that punting a 1st round should not hurt them greatly.

But since you brought it up again and I found some data, I tried to analyze how "early" the Giants picked a player relative to Baseball America's ranking of the top 100/200/250 prospects. I posted my results on my blog.

With data from 2000 to 2004, I found that almost two-thirds of their applicable picks were early versus as expected (+/- 10 picks) or late (expected earlier) if the players who were not ranked were ranked 101/201/251. And depending on where the players would rank after the Top N ranking, anywhere from 25% to 54% of the picks were at least 3 rounds early. In any case, 50% of the Giants picks were at least 1 round (30 picks) earlier than the player was ranked in the BA ranking. Not quite overwhelmingly early but a large percentage is drafted earlier than scouts would expect, based on the BA ranking.

And examining only their first round picks, all 4 were early, on average 39 picks early. 3 picks were at least 1 round ahead, including one pick that was 2 rounds ahead. The other pick was about a half a round early and was the only one of the four that theoretically could not have been chosen in the second round with their second round pick (assuming they still had that and depending on how many supplemental picks are awarded).

What the hell, I checked their actual Round 2 pick positioning and half of them could have been picked in the second round. The other half would have been missed, and one of the two misses missed by just 12 picks so he could have possibly fallen by that much and actually gotten picked.

So while losing their first round pick could hurt them about a quarter to half of the time, saving the money in 2005 allowed them an extra $1.5M per 1st round pick, $0.6M per 2nd round pick, $0.45m per 3rd round pick, or $2.55M to basically spend on Vizquel. So instead of 3 draft picks and Deivi Cruz as starting SS and Cody Ransom as backup SS, we have Omar Vizquel as starting SS and Deivi Cruz as backup MI, and, most probably, they will miss the guy they would have drafted in the first round but most probably would be able to pick their 2nd and 3rd round picks in later rounds.

Giants Draft follow-up: Do Giants Draft Early

I was looking at the Giants draft data I had gathered and I realized that Baseball America comes out with a ranking of who the Top 100/200/250 prospects to draft are. So I thought I would test the oft-mentioned theory - which I mentioned in my draft article - that the Giants draft players ahead of where they should have been picked assuming the players were picked by how they were ranked, talent-wise. And what do you know: the Giants do draft way ahead of where the player is "expected" to be drafted at.

Late As Expected Early Early Early Early Early
(+/- 10) <30>91 ?
2000 0 1 0 1 0 0 1
2001 0 2 1 1 0 0 0
2002 1 0 2 0 0 3 2
2003 1 1 1 0 0 3 2
2004 0 1 0 0 0 1 3

The "Early ?" means that we don't know exactly how early. It could be greater than 100 but there are minimum Early for each. In 2000, it could be as expected or it could be >100. In 2002, one could be as expected and the another is at least 34 picks early. In 2003, one is early at least 48 picks and the other is early at least 78 picks. Lastly, in 2004, one could be as expected, next is at least 41 picks early, and the last is at least 71 picks early.

Thus, out of 28 picks, only 2 were later than expected, 5 were as expected, and the other 21 picks were all picked early by some margin. Taking the best case scenario for the question marks, we get:
  • 2 were later,
  • 8 as expected,
  • 4 picks were less than 30 picks early,
  • 5 picks were less than 60 picks early,
  • 2 picks were less than 90 picks early,
  • 7 were greater than or equal to 90 picks early.

That meant:

  • 25% were picked over 90 picks early
  • 50% were picked over 30 picks early
  • 64% were picked early
  • 29% were picked as expected
  • 7% were picked later

So the Giants do pick their draft prospects earlier than would be expected 64% of the time over the past 5 drafts. And half the time it is over 30 picks early. And a quarter of the time they are over 90 picks early.

And taking the worse case scenario, where all the ? is 90 picks early, we get early picks 75% of the time, with 54% over 90 picks early.

So the Giants are not only picking early, but often times (from quarter to half the time) are over 90 picks (or 3 rounds) early with their pick and half to three-quarters of the time they were at least 1 round early in picking the prospect. The Giants do draft their players early, often times much more earlier, than scouts would think.


A party to spread the idea of renaming SBC Park to Mays Field

I got this notice from an organized effort to rename SBC Park to Mays Field:

To all Giants Bloggers and Friends of Mays Field:
Mays Field Party: Sat., April 9th @ The Brickhouse Cafe
(Please help us spread the word by forwarding this message or linking
to http://www.maysfield.org/2005/03/mays_field_part.html. Thanks!)
We're planning our first Mays Field party of the season! It'll be at
the Brickhouse Cafe during and after the game on Saturday, April 9th.
And you'll get $1.00 off their usual game-day specials if you're
wearing Mays Field gear. Here are the basics, and more details will
be coming soon:
WHEN: Saturday, April 9th, during and after the 1pm game against the Rockies
WHERE: The Brickhouse Cafe
426 Brannan Street (between Third & Fourth)
San Francisco, CA 94107
DIRECTIONS: The Brickhouse is just 2.5 blocks from the stadium. Here's
a Google Map with precise directions, but it's easy to find:
1. From the corner of King & Third (by the statue of Willie Mays),
walk 2 blocks north on Third, toward Market.
2. Turn left on Brannan, toward Fourth. The Brickhouse is on the
north side of the street, just past an alley called Rich Street.
3. Look for a Mays Field bumper sticker on the front door!

WHAT: The Brickhouse has great food, a full bar, and a special deal
for Mays Field fans: anyone wearing Mays Field gear will get $1.00 off
their usual game-day $2.00 PBRs and $3.00 Micros. That's $1.00 PBRs
and $2.00 Micros, just for showing your support for Mays Field!
Watch www.MaysField.org for more details, and we'll see you on April
9th at the Brickhouse!

While I would love to honor Willie Mays in this way, I don't know what the odds are of accomplishing this because SBC/AT&T owns the rights for, what, another 19 years or so. The best I can see happening is maybe SBC Park at Mays Field, or something like that similar to what the Angels are doing to include Anaheim.


The entire 40-man roster is now under contract; let's "Play Ball!"

From sfgiant.com:

Players signed: The Giants signed 19 players to one-year contracts, the club announced Tuesday. The entire 40-man roster is now under contract.

Agreeing to terms were pitchers David Aardsma, Brian Burres, Kevin Correia, Jesse Foppert, Brad Hennessey, Noah Lowry, Scott Munter, Alfredo Simon, Erick Threets, Merkin Valdez, Tyler Walker and Jerome Williams; catcher Justin Knoedler; infielder Lance Niekro; plus outfielders Jason Ellison, Frederick Lewis, Todd Linden, Daniel Ortmeier and Tony Torcato.

Bobby Bonds up for election to HOF

Bobby Bonds is up for consideration for election to the HOF, as reported on sfgiants.com. I think Bobby Bonds deserves to be in the HOF and said so in a previous article I'd written for sfdugout.com. I hope he will finally get in, though it will be posthumously. I think it stinks when someone clearly belongs in the HOF and does not get in before he dies. That's what happened to George Harrison, who had a lot of hits and great albums before he passed away, only to get elected in after he passed away. What, his records sound better after he's dead?

Here is what I wrote about Bobby's credentials for those who don't want to read the whole article:

I still don't understand why Bobby Bonds does not get more credit for what he did in his career. It is not just a biased fan's narrow-minded passion. Bobby Bonds did something that no one else ever did: he did 30-30 for five years. True, Willie Mays could have done it if he had known that it was a big deal, but even if he did it, it would still be only Willie and Bobby at that time. Pretty exclusive company, no?

And that was a child's very simple - and yet strong - interpretation of Bobby Bonds' Hall of Fame qualifications. Today, there are all sorts of important significant stats that I can easily pull up on baseball-reference.com. Despite all the strikeouts and a career batting average of .268, he still had a high career on-base percentage of .353, which means he was selective enough to draw a lot of walks. In fact, he was in the top 10 in walks 5 times. His OPS+ was still near 100 when he retired, so he was still a productive player at the end, by even today's sabermetric standards, even if he was not a regular anymore.

For his career, he was in the top 10 in runs scored 9 times, in total bases 8 times, home runs 7 times, and stolen bases 11 times in his 14 year career. In addition, his last two years were as a reserve and his first was only for half a season, so these top 10's were actually done in 11 years. That was a long sustained peak in performance.

It shows in his career statistics. He is currently 77th for his career in home runs, but he was probably closer to 50th when he retired, with the players that passed him over the years after he retired. He is still 45th in career-stolen bases and was probably around 30th when he retired. He was probably recently nudged out of the top 100 in runs scored but is not far away, just 35 runs, so he probably was around 70-80th when he retired. He is still close to the 100th player in total bases so he most probably was in the top 100 when he retired.

In addition to that, while batting leadoff for many years, he still ended up with over 1,000 RBIs. His Power/Speed number was 386.0, good for 4th all time, with only his son, Rickey Henderson, and Willie Mays ahead of him. His 162 game average, according to baseball-reference.com, was 110 runs scored with 29 home runs, 90 RBIs, and 40 stolen bases. Not a bad season, eh? He was an offensive speed machine, a precursor to Rickey Henderson's brand of offensive mayhem at the top of the order, and yet he could also drive in runs, even from the lead-off position.

And he was also good on defense. He won three gold gloves during his career. He had 126 assists - an average of about 10 each year he was a regular - and 40 double plays in his career, about 4 each year he was a regular. How many rightfielders can do both today? His range factor was 2.18 versus a league range factor of 1.97, illustrating his great speed once again.

Bobby Bonds Should Be in the Hall of Fame

All in all, Bobby Bonds was a well-rounded player who unfortunately had the stigma of having the most strikeouts in a season twice which defined many of the media's discussion of him during and after his career. There was also his personal problems that some felt the need to dredge up with his passing but I also noticed that no one ever dares to mention the bad habits that Babe Ruth was known for but which was never reported because of the complicity of the journalists of his era, whenever the Babe is brought up in articles today. In any case, none of that should matter: all that should matter is what happened between the lines on the playing field.

Look at all those stats above and tell me how can he not be in the Hall of Fame. I don't know how many players exactly are currently in the Hall of Fame, but wouldn't you think that a player who ranked in the top 100 or better in home runs, stolen bases, runs scored, plus high in RBIs and one of the best EVER, in combining power and speed, should be in the Hall of Fame?

Best wishes to Jerome Williams father

As noted in the Trib, Jerome Williams father is seriously ill with complications from undiagnosed Hepatitis C and is awaiting kidney and liver transplant surgery in Oregon next week. He had already had a kidney transplant in November but his body began to reject the organ, necessitating another transplant. Best wishes to the Williams family for a successful surgery and quick recovery for Glenn Williams so that he can enjoy his son's (hopefully) long and successful pitching career with the Giants.

This could explain why he was placed last in the rotation. If he was placed any higher, he would face more pressure. However, as the 5th starter, he would not face as much pressure as a higher position.


Cain it be? A true, honest-to-goodness stud propect for the Giants?

I normally take pronouncements of Giants top prospects with a grain of salt. After getting spoiled by John "the Count" Montefusco's electrifying start and then living through prospects from Randy Elliott to Rich Murray to Mike Remlinger to Salomon Torres and being severely disappointed, I think I'm pretty immune to hype by now. Even Jesse Foppert and Jerome Williams, despite their top prospect rankings, I was more "Show Me" than anything else, though obviously I was hopeful and I did feel that they were good enough that they should not be traded, that the Giants should give them chances before trading them.

However, Matt Cain is the first in a long time of prospects to get me really excited about a Giants prospect (or perhaps it was just a lack of really exciting prospects :^). The latest news was a blurb in the Merc today. Alou was effusive with his praise for him in that notebook article, saying that Cain reminds him of Mark Prior and reminds hitting coach Joe Lefebvre of Tom Seaver. I know that he's not going to be like them but those are nice comparisions to throw around. It reminded me of an article where Baseball Prospectus found comparables for Jerome Williams stats and a good portion of them went on to become aces of their staff or were very good (Dwight Gooden was the name that I can remember), though obviously this was a statistical resemblance while Alou and Lefebvre were probably talking about Cain's pitching motion.

Surprisingly, though, the Merc's Giants reporter noted on his blog that depending what day it is, either Cain or Valdez is the #1 prospect of the Giants. I don't think that there is any question that Cain is the #1 prospect for the Giants entering the 2005 season, the main question is how far behind is Valdez. I'm no expert, but from what I've read about El Mago, Valdez regressed last year by losing the feel for his slider whereas Cain merely dominated, for the most part, in High-A and AA. Plus, Cain is slotted for the starting rotation, the main question being where he will eventually slot, Ace or 2-3, while Valdez still has enough question marks that he might end up as a smoking ace reliever instead of a good starter.

But good tidbits from that blog is that Alou is even more impressed this year and that a new player to the organization said to Alou "You tell me this guy's not on the pitching staff?" Hopefully that new guy is Matheny.