Alfonzo traded for Finley of the Angels

Giants just had to make me post...

The prototypical "Give me your lousy contract, I'll give you mine" type of deal. Both players are owed $8M eventually, both players really, really, really stunk it up last season. Both players now get another chance with their new team. Finley said all the obligatory statements about being excited joining such a good team.

We all know Alfonzo's bad stats, so I'll go over some positives for Finley for the Giants. While Alfonzo was absolutely Neifi-ish for the Giants in 2005, except for hitting at SBC, Finley at least hit well against LHP, batting .271/.317/.441/.758, oddly enough since he's a lefty, but poorly against RHP, batting .201/.252/.347/.600. One partial season results but he did get 118 AB vs. LHP and 288 vs. RHP, so there was a significant number of ABs. He averaged a homer every 39 AB vs. LHP and a homer every 32 AB vs. RHP, which is a heck of a lot better than Alfonzo did against either. He also hit better on the road, but it was still bad, .236/.278/.409/.687 on the road, .204/.263/.331/.594 at home. The Angel's home killed his power, he only average a homer every 60 AB at home vs. a homer every 25 AB on the road, so his power was still around, just not his batting average, so maybe last year was a fluke - I'll have to look at his peripherals when I get a chance and see what the tea leaves say.

What If?

One thing I'm worried about is what the Giants will do next. I just assumed that Finley would be the backup when I first heard about the trade and thus I was all for it. However, I just had this ugly thought: now that Sabean thinks he has an everyday CF, could he trade Winn to fill other needs? Like starting pitcher or power lefty 1B?

I really like Winn and would not want to see him gone. However, it's known that the Giants offered a contract extension to Winn in early Nov and was suppose to finalize things during the Winter Meetings but we haven't heard anything yea or nay on the deal - I have to assume things are not going well. It helps that Jacque Jones signed, and he only got 3 years, $16M, so maybe Winn's demands won't be that bad anymore, something in the same range since they seem to be similar players, from my cursory knowledge of both players (please correct me if I'm wrong on this detail).

And now Finley comes in and he says that he's going into spring training looking to win a starting position. Well, with Bonds, Alou and Winn in the mix, his only real chance is beating out Winn. Thus, what if the Giants believe the same, that he's good enough so maybe trade Winn, like they did Hawkins (we should have gotten more in the deal!). With Ellison as adequate backup (in their heads; I would not feel the same), they might feel good about making that trade to fill other holes.

I guess it depends on who we get in the deal but right now, my faith in Sabean's trading ability is at a low ebb, buoyed only by the Winn trade, but there hasn't been many trades that worked out for the Giants for many years now, perhaps since the Schmidt trade. So I'm worried that we would not get equal value for Winn in a trade. Hopefully I'm just being silly but I'll keep my fingers crossed just in case...

FYI: during holidays, my posts will probably be infrequent

Unless, that is, my family or I get really sick, which would give me a lot of time on my hands.

Happy Holidays to all: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Kwanzaa, whatever your faith or beliefs that I'm not aware of. I hope everyone have a good and safe time celebrating the season and a Happy New Year!

And hopefully the Giants will find a lefty powerhitter plus a better #5 starter in their stockings this year!

Take care and Go Giants! - Martin


More on FIP and my Crush on Cain

Lyle brought up a good point in his comment so I thought I would answer him with a post since others may have the same question. He asked whether FIP could be used to project 2006's ERA for everyone.

This is all new to me too and I wouldn't term it ignorance, as Lyle put it, just part of the learning process. Sorry, I probably should have put in more examples to explain it than just spitting it out, but time is compressed for me right now as I'm juggling things, getting ready for the holidays and vacation.

I would not use the term "projections for 2006" to describe FIP, though they will certainly be used in that way; I will be doing the same and see how they turn out. From my understanding, FIP basically standardizes a pitcher's stats so that you can see what the "average normal" pitcher would have accomplished, ERA-wise, based on the stats. I think it covers most of the main rate stats sabers follows for pitchers except for HR-rate.

(Sidenote: there is "x-FIP" which does account for HR-rate which I left out. We all know ATT/SBC/PBP, i.e. Mays Field, affects HR rate so there is no use adjusting the FIP as long as the pitcher continues to pitch at SBC because most of them will have their ERA nudged upward. This also means that there should be a reduction in FIP for any pitcher joining the team, so Kline, Worrell, and Morris could well get a spike down in ERA due to the park - particularly Morris who has a homer problem the past two years - so hopefully so! :^)

So, the FIP gives you an indicator how far off the mean average performance that each pitcher did in 2005. In that way, it is an indicator of what the pitcher's "true" pitching performance was in 2005 and what we can expect more of in 2006. And thus better than the ERA in assessing each pitcher's "true" abilities as a pitcher.

But just like the ERA, it is biased by the pitcher's performance of that year, which could include any sort of reasons why his performance went down, like Jerome dealing with his Dad's health, Worrell dealing with family problems, injuries, pitching through injuries, or just plain dead arms, plus many other reasons which would mark that particular year as different from his "true" abilities.

So while FIP is a good, overall general guide to a pitcher's "true" abilities (and from what I have read, the concept seems sound and I have no reason at the moment to doubt it), it must be tempered in the final analysis to account for factors that might have affected it negatively or positively. I should pull up the 2004 numbers and present them as well - over time FIP should be a good guide towards a player's true abilities, but any one year's performance can be colored by a number of factors.

I wouldn't suggest following just one inidicator (and not that anyone else would either) as a guide to anything. It's better to open your eyes to various possibilities and let your brain guide you. FIP is one piece of the puzzle, from the way it is intended to be used, just one tool used to understanding how our roster as constituted might do in 2006. Say, I should calculate the average of 2004 and 2005 to see what that yields, that would be probably a better guide/projection towards 2006.

I mainly brought it up because I've found myself to be wildly enthusiastic about how Matt Cain was going to do in 2006 - I normally laugh at those who think "boy wonder will win the Cy Young, pitch 30 complete games, strike out 300 batters, and win 30 games" - but for the first time in over 30 years of following the Giants, Cain is the first prospect I've ever been wildly excited about. I feel as giddly as any guy would after a great first few weeks of dates where everything is clicking and going great, I have high expectations for Cain's future and I cannot help myself.

I feel that Cain can be the new face of the Giants after Bonds retire. He seems to be that good! So once I found anything that suggests that perhaps he's not what he seems, I had to put it out there, as I'm sure there are others who are just as wildly enthusiastic about Cain's future. But still, the FIP is not that bad for Cain given he's just 21 now, I would take that in a heartbeat from any young prospect who just basically came up. And hopefully he can outperform FIP and do even better, he IS only 21 after all, he should still be developing and improving.