February 21st we were all so excited that Spring Training began, that games were being played. Our favorite players were back to throw, hit, and sign baseballs like only they could. Then February 22nd came and we got bored. Some of us made a pilgrimage to Arizona or Florida to get some action, others watched and saved money for the regular season from the comforts of our home. We rosterbated, read the prospect lists, looked at the depth charts, and we made predictions. Today is March 30th, and the end of Spring Training is near.
Today’s schedule has teams in multiple states, from the Phillies in Pennsylvania, the White Sox in Houston, the Padres in Texas, and the Rockies in… Utah. The goodwill games in more or less neutral sites are great publicity moves, and also mark a signal that we are almost there. Finally, when the Dodgers and Angels engage at Angel Stadium tonight, we will know that will be the last Spring Training game of 2013.
It’s time to play ball. Time to time the national anthems. To laugh at other teams and their rosters, their matchup choices, their lineup construction, their fans that don’t show up to the games, or that do and insist on doing the wave. To talk trash with our friends that are fans of rival franchises, whether cordial, or seemingly hostile. Time to put too much into small sample sizes, complain about playing time, and wonder aloud what the heck is going on with a player/team/franchise. To cry for the top prospect that could hang with the big boys, to cry out when the walk off hit comes through and we may end our night with sadness, or with joy.
It’s time for baseball to be back. We have waited, and we are about to be rewarded.
Posey would never be so arrogant to another baseball player like that, but no one’s surprised the Tigers kept Verlander, although maybe the money was a bit high. Gerald Dempsey Posey III, entering his Age 26 season, will be a Giant for the foreseeable future (through 2021 at the very least, a club option for 2022). You might be wondering to yourself like I was how often the Giants win with Buster Posey in the lineup, well thanks to baseball reference, I can tell you that they win more often than not when Posey starts games. A graph:
Let’s say you won 58% of the games you started in 140 games, that’s still 81 wins with twenty-two games left to go. The fact that Posey has been an integral part of a winning club should not be lost on anybody. Has he had some good fortune that he’s had the chance to work with guys like Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Ryan Vogelsong when they’ve got their stuff in check for the most part? Absolutely. Bengie Molina had to work with less, although still had a pretty awesome Timmy, Cainer, and MadBum was just making his presence known. Here’s a totally unfair graph of how the Giants did in Molina starts:
Even in 2010 when Posey came up, Molina saw half the games he started in being won, but 59% of Posey’s netting the Giants a W, and ultimately, Buster would be a part of a drought-ending team for the Giants.
In between 2010 and 2012, Buster has amassed 301 games at the catcher position, which is tied for 19th most in that timespan, yet he still has had the time to put up some pretty nice/interesting numbers. Among MLB Catchers:
HR: 6th (46)
BABIP: 2nd (.342) to Joe Mauer
AVG: T-1st (.317) with Victor Martinez
OBP: 3rd (.384) behind Mauer, and Carlos Ruiz
wOBA: 1st (.383)
wRC+: 1st (145)
fWAR: t-1st (13.2) with Yadier Molina
Consider that every player listed here and along with the HR peoples have played at least 60 more games at the C position than Posey with the exception of Martinez (272 G).
Other Notable Catcher Contracts
- Mauer with the Twins makes $23MM a year in a 2011-2018 deal.
- Molina has a 5 year/$74MM guaranteed deal that beings this year, with a $15MM option for 2018
- Miguel Montero ha a 5 year/$60MM deal that begins this year
- Brian McCann is making $12MM this year and will be a free agent in after this season unless the Braves sign him to an extension
I’d say most of these catchers are pretty important to their franchises, especially the top two, but I’m sure Buster Posey’s camp started talking about Mauer numbers from the get-go before Yadier’s name was brought up in conversation. Words such as “Two in Three,” “MVP,” “Rookie of the Year,” “Face of the Franchise,” were probably all used in conversations between the two sides.
Well, now we definitely have money to keep track of beyond 2019. Madison Bumgarner has options that can take his contract out that far, with guaranteed money that he’s owed in those later years, Matt Cain’s contract “only” goes out through 2018. Here’s what my Excel spreadsheet said about the payroll before the signing:
2013 — $138.33MM
2014 — $67.55MM
2015 — $55.5MM
2016 — $42.83MM
2017 — $32.33MM
2018 — $32.83MM
2019 — $12MM
If you’re going to fill up the payroll though, wouldn’t you do it on Buster Posey (if anybody) too? Of course you should. Here’s the payout:
Signing bonus $7 million, $3M in 2013, $10.5M in 2014, $16.5M in 2015, $20M in 2016, $21.4M in 2017-2021. option 2022 22M with $3M buyout.
My opinion on the contract
A nine-year contract, eight-year extension worth $167 million all told, if you want the whole thing averaged out, it’s $18.5MM/year. If you just want the extension, it’s $19.875MM. The option year has reported to be worth $21.4MM-$22MM, which would push the contract up to $188.4MM over the course of ten years. $7MM signing bonus (ka-ching!), and a $3MM buyout in that option year if things go all Barry Zito. Posey gets a full no-trade clause, and that shouldn’t be anything the fans or front office worries about for a while anyway. I Love this contract with a capital “L,” and think Brian Sabean and his team did a great job locking up their catcher (would have liked six years, but many fans thought this would be a ten-twelve year deal in the end). Assuming good health, Buster can probably make good on the value of this possible ten-year deal in seven years through $5MM per one fWAR. However, he may make it up sooner after he wins the Giants four straight World Series titles *winky face*
It is a wonder whether the Giants will be keeping Posey at catcher throughout the life of his contract, especially as long as Joe Torre stalls to not implement any new catcher safety rules. Regardless of all that, Buster Posey will be a Giant throughout the prime of his career, and that should make Giants fans very happy to have both a leader, and a bat in their lineup for years to come.
Luckily, Posey has given us an exclusive look at that in this commercial:
Time to get to work.
Tim Lincecum had his last start of Spring Training, and went 81 pitches across 4.2 innings, and how many earned runs or hits he gave up isn’t exactly what you should care about, but the velocity, and location of his pitches should be what you’re looking at a little closer. With that, I GIF’d a bunch of Lincecum’s pitches last night in case you missed his start.
Broken bat for a hit? No big deal. If Buster Posey is setting up at a spot and Lincecum hit it, that’s all I care about in Spring Training.
That 92 was the top velocity Lincecum would hit on his fastball.
4th inning and still able to hit spots was a good sign, although I thought he was missing his spots more often as the game went on.
GIF’d that fastball since it had a little run to it. So he’s still got that weapon, wondering if he’s just figuring out how to use it again.
Gotta have your breaking pitches, and if you’re going to leave them up like that, might as well make it early in the count. Ryan Vogelsong would approve.
This was happening a fair amount: breaking balls in the dirt. Buster made an effort for some of them, but didn’t go all out on the rest, just letting Spring Training do its thing. That’s going to be something Lincecum has to work on, is consistently having his breaking pitches start a little higher so his catchers aren’t tired by the 2nd inning.
Breaking Ball — Slider or Splitter
The key for Lincecum is to have this pitch start at a little above the knees so the hitter thinks it’s going to be a strike and then ho-ho-ho, son, look what just fell out of the zone.
That one was a beautiful pitch. I’ll have more of those, please.
Coco Crisp thought that was going to be a fastball.
So we see that Tim Lincecum is still there, but it’s a matter of him finding himself. Giants will need that Tim Lincecum this year because Barry Zito probably is not going to be white unicorning it in the regular season. Overall, the broadcast booth was pleased with the outing, and I gotta say I was, too. Fastball was a decent velocity, he hit his spots most of the ti–
Shut up, Yoenis Cespedes.
But yes, good final start of Spring Training.
Brandon Crawford plays pretty good defense
Angel Pagan is still playing World Baseball Classic defense
Not even sure how he got on the ground, but whatever. Really hoping that defense gets cleaned up for the regular season. I didn’t enjoy him doing dumb things in the OF during the WBC with Puerto Rico.
Easy it is to get sucked in to the Madness in March and forget about things like America’s pastime in the midst of a lengthy pre-season. The lull of mid-March about ten days before the regular season wears on everybody, so we have to find ways to keep ourselves interested, and hyped for what’s to come, like in this definitely not-bad video featuring plenty of stars like Justin Verlander, Robinson Cano, and Buster Posey, to name a few:
When I heard people promoting this video with Posey in it I was wondering how it could be that good because most of the Giants-produced commercials I don’t feel that much of a bond towards. Case-in-point, this fan & Ryan Vogelsong commercial:
Vogey is obviously the star of this commercial, and he doesn’t really even do anything except be mad. Meh.
Some injury news and scares from the outfield, first from Arizona, the home of grit and gamers:
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) March 22, 2013
The loss of Adam Eaton for that much time means the insertion of Gerardo Parra into center. Good for Parra that he’ll get regular playing time, and then probably force a logjam in the outfield when Eaton gets back from his injury… at least that’s what I expect to happen, unless Jason Kubel or Cody Ross get injured sometime in May/June. Sucks for fantasy baseball owners that have drafted Eaton already expecting some help in the runs and stolen bases department.
In a Spring that has been less than ideal for the Dodgers with Hanley Ramirez having had to go through thumb surgery and be out for two months (the surgery went successful on Friday, by the way), then the Dodgers press box people are going nuts because
Yasiel Puig is down in center field
— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) March 22, 2013
Especially for the people that think Yasiel Puig belongs on the 25-man roster, this caused a reasonably-sized panic. However
Puig just got the wind knocked out of him.
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) March 22, 2013
so that’s all over and nobody has to fret over that. Puig told Hernandez (and others, I’m sure) he thought he could play tomorrow.
In other Giants news and notes, Ramon Ramirez and Wilson Valdez were released from the club and Nick Noonan was recalled, so… so much for that immediate 2010 reunion of everybody on the 2013 Opening Day roster, I guess. Brandon Belt also destroyed baseballs of his own today, and Bochy says he might even bat the more awkward Brandon third or fourth in the lineup when Posey’s sitting. Progress! The bench situation still looks pretty bad for the Giants, so know that Brian Sabean and his team are looking for acceptable options for Bochy to use for late inning subs, pinch hitting opportunities, and spot starts.
News out of Dodger camp this morning was more towards the “bad” end than the “good” end in terms of when to expect All-Star Hanley Ramirez back:
#Dodgers: Torn ligament in Ramirez’s right thumb. Surgery tomorrow in LA. Thumb immobilized for three weeks. Expected back in about 8 weeks.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 21, 2013
Depending on how the two look, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a platoon of switch-hitter Nick Punto and LHH Dee Gordon at shortstop, or they could just go full-time with Gordon (sorry, Juan Uribe). This does make the Dodgers lineup one pretty-good-hitter weaker, but you’ve still got a talented 3-4 punch at the very least with Matt Kemp, and Adrian Gonzalez… even Andre Ethier when there’s a RHP on the mound. I don’t think this sets back the Dodgers too significantly in the time he’s out. In fact, the defense might even be better with Hanley out and someone else manning the premium position.
The blog’s been quiet for about a week, a combination of the celebration of my wife’s birthday, and some happenings that have demanded I take things seriously outside of the blog (nothing bad). People still check out the site despite the lack of news, and for that, I’m grateful that people give me the benefit of the doubt that I’ve been working on writing up this and that.
It’s been speculated on in quieter times, and now there appears to be talking going on:
Giants broach mega deal w/ MVP Posey. word is, decent-sized gap exists. but they are working on it. cbsprt.co/ZdST2E
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) March 20, 2013
Heyman wants 10 years, and I’m sure the Posey camp does as well. Different starting points have been suggested, whether it’s Derek Jeter‘s contract, or Joey Votto‘s, you can be sure that this will be a contract that factors into the Giants spending plans from now through the early part of the roaring (20)20’s. Posey’s reps are no fools, and they know the Giants will have money available, if not money freed up due to some not-so-minor details:
When discussing Posey extension, remember this: #SFGiants are done paying Bonds deferred $, and debt service on ballpark ends in 2017.
— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) March 20, 2013
“You don’t have to pay money on that anymore, you say? Well, my client will humbly accept your paying him that money,” his agent will say. With Posey guaranteed to be with the Giants through 2016, I’m not sure either party has to do this contract now, and how much money this will save just yet. If Buster keeps having MVP-caliber seasons, the Giants will save money. If Posey starts developing an injury problem, it will cost the money, but all long-term contracts come with risks, as evidenced by guys like Mike Hampton, and local favorite Barry Zito. Beat writers from the Giants know that this talking has been going on for a little bit of time, so the national media getting wind of this just makes it common knowledge now. My personal preference for the soon-to-be 26-year old: six to eight years, any amount of money the parties agree on I trust ownership to own up to. It will likely be nowhere near 6, and closer to 8-9, because 10 is, as my NorCal brethren would say, a hella long time.
We thought he had fallen off the planet. The Texas Rangers had found him? The Cleveland Indians were talking to him? We wanted full-time work? No one was able to talk to him. Then, Henry Schulman caught up with him…
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) March 21, 2013
… and Ryan Theriot, the scorer of the winning run in the World Series, is perfectly content with staying at home with his family watching his kids grow up, even at the ripe age of 33. His demands are simple, yet probably unattainable: regular playing time (starter’s role) for a major league baseball team. I encourage you to read the article because I always like it when the athletes we follow sound like good people, and Theriot sounds like good people.
Not so Wednesday-y news, but the Giants bench has looked bad, but could be looking better: Andres Torres is getting healthy, Gregor Blanco is reverting back to his old batting ways, Brett Pill is feeling better, but the Giants still are hoping Hector Sanchez is feeling better. Former Arizona Diamondback and now Pittsburgh Pirate John McDonald might have been a target of the Giants considering Kensuke Tanaka is not doing it in the infield, and nobody’s really been blowing away the field on the infield so far on the Giants roster. He would’ve been a solid defender to add, but oh well, no use sulking about it now.
My thoughts on the depth chart are this: While the bench may not look good in April-May, it will not look the same when the Giants are making their stretch run. Not that who’s on the bench doesn’t matter, but the stress that we can put into it might not be what it should be unless you’re managing this club.
Tim Lincecum has a blister on his middle finger, and it still isn’t well enough to wear the Giants staff wants him to pitch in a real live game. Today’s game against the Indians will make for his second consecutive start where he will get scratched, the first being Saturday’s split-squad game against the Cubs. Bruce Bochy drives home the fact that “there is still time,” and you may be thinking, and quite fairly so, “How much?” Spring Training is a little longer this year thanks to the World Baseball Classic, and at this time last year the games were just getting started, so news of so-and-so getting scratched for precautionary reasons is not new to early March. The Giants regular season schedule for the first couple weeks looks like this:
One day off in the first couple weeks will cure our desire for regular season Giants baseball, but it also means that the last day the Giants will need a fifth start is Wednesday, April 10th. So that means Tim Lincecum has nearly five weeks to get into game shape if he even needs like long, and I’m guessing he won’t.
Tommy John surgery, man, it can take you out, and Rafael Furcal is its latest victim, so look for Pete Kozma to take his place. If you have a fantasy baseball draft soon, don’t take Furcal. That’s my pro-tip of fantasy advice.
Trevor Rosenthal of the Cardinals has also been moved to the bullpen, meaning that competition to make the St. Louis rotation becomes that much easier for guys like Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller, two postseason contributors who are obviously already on the 40-man roster.
The Sandman will do a Chipper
Buster Olney is saying that on Saturday, Mariano Rivera will announce he will retire after this year, which will set off a farewell tour like what Chipper Jones went through last year with the Braves. For relievers with more than 500 IP, Rivera leads ’em all in ERA (2.05), FIP (2.65), fWAR (38.9), and yes, even those Saves (608). Truly a pitching great whose cutter we could marvel at, and in 2013, we’ll get one last chance to do so.