Sorry if you clicked on this article when it originally got published. You were probably excited to see some picture or video to remind you of the times you loved Aaron Rowand. The only time that was really the case was when he celebrated Edgar Renteria‘s Game 5 HR, or when he tackled Cody Ross to the ground in Arlington. I don’t think there are any other positive memories I have of him, and that’s really too bad. Nowadays when you say his name, you’re often met with a retort of “slider low and away and probably in the dirt. strike three.” Poor guy. Not his fault the Giants offered him the money they did, and there were stories abound about his work ethic trying to get things right, but it really just never happened. 2007 in Philadelphia would be his peak and the valleys seemed to solely exist in a San Francisco uniform.
Angel Pagan just yesterday got himself four more years and forty million, and his wife has been busy tweeting out pictures of their celebrating, and good for them. They seem like good people, and so when good things happen to good people, people like that. But this isn’t a character post, it’s a post about the first seven years of Pagan and Rowand’s career. By now, the baseball reference linker has done its work and you can go check out both of those guys’ career pages and you’re doing your own research as to how Angel Pagan will end up like Aaron Rowand. You’re comparing OBP, their average, you’ve noticed that they both play center field. In a moment of panic, you suddenly think they are the same person, and now you’re remembering the Giants had a chance to sign Shane Victorino for some reason… but they didn’t! And you’re back to feeling OK and ready to look at the pretty colors below:
Helps to know what you’re looking at, so let me explain: Pagan’s Year One (Y1) is his age 24 season in 2006, and Rowand’s Y1 is his age 23 season in 2001. The first few years of each of their careers are especially smaller sample sizes, but it’s fun to look at anyway because I like numbers and spreadsheets. Rowand’s Y7 is his career year with the Phillies, while Pagan’s is just this past year in the 2012 season.
Now we see we might be able to attribute part of Pagan’s bad year in 2011 to his BABIP, and where he was in 2012 is about where he should be in his peak years. The only problem with that is that by the time Pagan’s contract is done, his peak years will be behind him, so it would be reasonable to not expect 2008, 2010, 2012 levels. This every other year thing reminds me of someone… nevermind.
Here you might be wondering why Pagan’s wOBA is normally so much less than Rowand’s and what we need to recall is what kind of player both of these guys are marketed as: Defensive CF with some pop, and the normal leadoff CF with speed, much less pop, but more contact. Home runs will score you more points with wOBA than will stolen bases.
This is the area where we really start to see the difference in the types of player Pagan and Rowand are. Even in Rowand’s career year sure he was swinging a little more, but his contact was just about the same as it was the year before. Pagan, who swings a little more than Rowand, makes a ton more contact… and that’s outside the strike zone.
After you look at Pagan’s numbers, you’re not surprised that his swing rate, even in the strike zone, is lower than Rowand’s. The man swings at less than half the pitches he gets overall as you’ll see below, and when he does swing at pitches inside the strike zone, he makes contact. Marco Scutaro, who was known for his inability to strike out, does have a crazy high (like high-90s) outside of the strike zone contact rate, but Angel Pagan actually has a better contact rate inside the zone than our buddy who might be getting a slightly crazy post-WS contract. To talk about Rowand here, it looks like in 2004 he really had a good idea of the strike zone, yet his contact rate was kinda low. Interesting.
Pagan since the 2010 season where he had his highest rate has, like Rowand since 2004 within this chart, exhibited more patience in choosing what to swing at. I don’t imagine a 30-year old’s swing stats getting much lower from here, but I’ll worry if Pagan starts swinging at more than 50% of the stuff offered, since that doesn’t seem to be the approach that’s working for him.
Of course, Pagan’s money numbers relative to the team are estimates, ranging from $140-$150MM payrolls, but being one of the bigger guys on the roster like Rowand was, who knows if that had any psychological effects. Since I can’t really expand on that and would be just be getting the “point and laugh at” treatment from anybody reading, I’ll just leave those graphs there and you can decide if they mean anything towards Pagan feeling more/less pressure than Rowand.
After going through all of this, it should be pretty clear that Angel Pagan and Aaron Rowand really are very different players, and I probably should’ve compared Angel Pagan to other speedy CFs out there that have gone through the process. There have been tweets out there noting that Torii Hunter has been the only late 30’s CF to keep his position, so while that may not bode well for Pagan holding his spot in CF, it doesn’t mean the results he produces shouldn’t be better than what Aaron Rowand brought to the Bay.
Ideally I would write this post after the Lincecum/Cain situation is sorted out. But I’m bored. January 4th, college football is doing its annual kill-me-now-just-end-already portion of their season and baseball is still more than a month away — 40-something days I’m hearing. But as dumb as it is to try and forecast something that will happen in 2013, it’s not going to stop me from trying. There’s going to be so much that happens in 2012 that my predictions for the varying scenarios in 2013 will probably all be at least 75% wrong. I’m like Aubrey Huff at the plate. Take a look at what is on tap for 2013 as of 1/4/2012:
What you should take from this is all the “FA” notes you see next to the different names. Freddy Sanchez, Jeremy Affeldt, Aubrey Huff has a $2MM buyout that the Giants will inevitably exercise and Aaron Rowand and his absolutely horrible 5-year contract is finally off the books. You might be thinking: “Stuart, what about when the Giants win the World Series in 2012 won’t they pick up Huff’s option?” To that I say: “What, and sacrifice Brandon Be– ah shit, you’re right.” Brandon Belt as we know is the ugly duckling in the eyes of the management for some reason unbeknownst to us common folk. Oh by the way, Barry Zito makes $20MM in the final year of his even stupider contract (with a $7MM buyout in 2014). As you see, there’s $26.25MM committed to 2013 thus far (but to only 3 players). This leaves us roughly $100MM of rainy days to disperse to about 22 gentlemen. Here’s what I think it’ll look like if we live in Larry Baer’s world of keeping Timmy and Matty… and Brian Wilson:
The Matt and Tim numbers assume they were able to pull off some sort of deal without going into arbitration because if they’re not able to, then we could be looking at a $130MM payroll and we all know what that means: someone’s gotta go. You’ll see I made my own free agent signings in there and I may have not given MadBum enough in his first arbitration eligible year or Brandon Belt… I mean, he may be making $550,000. I probably overpaid for Erick Aybar and Melky Cabrera but the moment you think, “They wouldn’t overpay like that for Player X” I’ll just point out the Zito, Rowand and Huff contracts to you. Remember, we just won the World Series in 2012. We’ll probably hear that the 2013 payroll, much like the 2012 one, will probably be “maxed out” if we were to see something like that. However, if Lincecum or Cain is let go then we’re going to have some big changes in terms of what the roster will look like. Who knows if Surkamp will be ready or if Vogelsong will even still be around then. If the Giants don’t pick up prospects from a trade of Lincecum or Cain or even just let one of them walk and get draft picks out of them, 2013-2014 could be pretty rough on the Giants and we may begin to see the dark clouds come over AT&T.
Maybe I’ll do one of these again with scenarios of one of the two big stars leaving, but really there’s so much uncertainty with that, I might just wait until later to forecast something like that.
Going through my Twitter feed tonight and it’s not like tonight was unlike any other night — people calling Pujols a “traitor,” with talk of CJ Wilson nowhere to be found — but there was a thought put out that the Giants offense going into 2012 isn’t going to be any better. Immediately I thought of it as just more whining but then I wondered if I could see using 2011 numbers what we can possibly forecast to determine how much better, worse or the same the offense could be in 2012. It’s December 8th right now and the season doesn’t even start for another 4 months. Minus Aubrey Huff, here are the people that played the OF for the Giants as well as the two new additions to the OF. I’ll let you sink some of this in:
*There is no average for wRC+ listed since I was noticing inaccuracies with AVG and OBP and I decided I only wanted to keep the number of stats I could butcher at 2 at the most. Those numbers put together and averaged is 96, but I don’t know how accurate that is.
Keep in mind that Pagan is probably now the top of the order guy. He also stole 32 bags last year, which is 15 less than that group did in 2011 (Andres had 19 of them). I did recalculate the average Batting Averages and On Base Percentages so it’s possible the SLG and wOBA for the group might be off by a little bit. What’s notable is the two newbies don’t walk all that much, which might be OK for Melky, but Pagan will need to step that up especially since his OBP is right in line with what the OF was doing in 2011. His OBP was worse than Cody’s and for some reason it seemed to me like he was never getting on. Both of them strike out much less though, which is a very welcome sight after watching Rowand and Torres just get murdered out there (and as the numbers show, so did Burrell, Belt and Ross).
Going into 2012 this list will be without the names of Ford, Beltran, Burrell, Rowand, Torres and Ross and hopefully at the end of 2012 when you look up “Giants OF” Brandon Belt’s name doesn’t show up alongside with it. The big name of the group though is Beltran who had the biggest offensive impact and it is a shame the Giants won’t be able to scoop him up this offseason with the acquisitions of Cabrera and Pagan. Without Carlos’ contributions all the averages look pretty gross and so it’s easy to say that the 2012 Giants will be better than the 2011 pre-Beltran Giants. Of course, all this assuming the Giants don’t get hit with the DL bug as bad as they did last season.
But what about the 2011 with-Beltran Giants? I’d say they’re a little better because you have someone that can get on base more in Pagan, someone that can protect Posey and Panda in Cabrera and you have a Baby Giraffe that has grown up more and hopefully won’t get the lights abused out of him this year. It’ll be interesting to see how things will be different, but I’m comfortable with saying and hopeful that the group in 2012 will be better than the groups put out in 2011.
Yesterday we took a look at the pitching portion of the roster which I estimated to be around $90MM and the Bay Area News Group have posted their arbitration estimates for the whole team here and the numbers aren’t that far off from the estimates I shot forth. Now we take a look at the hitters that are set to come back (or are under payroll), arbitration eligible, and free agents. I’m sure you’re aware of the free agents on the item.
Under Contract in 2012
Aaron Rowand ($13.6MM, released in 2011 due to attitude and sucking. 2012 is his last year.)
Aubrey Huff ($10MM, has option for 2013)
Freddy Sanchez ($6MM)
Buster Posey ($575K in 2011, under control until 2016)
Brandon Belt ($414K in 2011)
Arbitration Eligible (Salary in 2011, Years of Arbitration Left)
Jeff Keppinger ($2.3MM, 1)
Andres Torres ($2.2MM, 2)
Mike Fontenot ($1.05MM, 2)
Pablo Sandoval ($500K, 3)
Nate Schierholtz ($432.5K, 3)
Eli Whiteside ($425K, 3)
Free Agents (Salary in 2011)
Carlos Beltran ($20.07MM)
Cody Ross ($6.3MM)
Mark DeRosa ($6MM)
Orlando Cabrera ($1MM)
Pat Burrell ($1MM)
Miguel Tejada ($6.5MM)
The big question on that arbitration eligible and free agent list is “who will be brought back?” Well, consider that we already have $31.5MM committed to the first category listed and that already puts the Giants at about $120MM of payroll. “Holy F***,” you say. I agree. So which arbitration eligible hitters are tendered? I’m going to guess 4 — Kepp, Panda, Nate, Fonty. However, I expect the Giants to trade Keppinger for something after tendered like a giveaway night that actually gives every fan a bobblehead so they don’t have to spend all day in line for an item that costs the price of admission. For the 3 that stay, I expect it to be somewhere around $5MM for all of them put together. Now that’s $36.5MM for our hitters. So now what? The payroll’s approximately $125MM and you want another hitter? God, you’re selfish. Oh, you want a leadoff hitter? What, have you been good this year or something? Oh, you gave your top prospect away? That was nice of you.
I’m not even going to guess who they Giants might go after. Some have said Coco Crisp. Just what we need, another mascot. Johnny Damon? Hasn’t played CF consistently in years. Andruw Jones? Fits the profile, I suppose. An Aaron Rowand-lite! Josh Willingham? Same as Damon. Jason Kubel? Might as well sign Beltran. Juan Pierre? That would be interesting, to say the least.
So I guess the question will be: How much will Sabes and Co. overpay for Coco and will they have the funds to bring Beltran back to platoon Nate/Belt? The possibilities are limited, and they are definitely frustrating to think through.