After bringing the 40-man roster to a round number of forty, LHP Javier Lopez was brought back to the San Francisco Giants, given a raise in years and dollars to 3 years and $13MM. The past two years may have seen Lopez not surpass forty innings pitch in either season, but that hasn’t kept his games appeared numbers down even if we widen the spectrum to the last four years. If ERA is more your thing, I know you loved that Javy and the defense kept things under 2 for the first time in his career. However, what you should really care about is how he fared against lefties the most, since that’s what we know that’s the monster that Javier Lopez really is. You want to know about the stats Javy can control the most against LHH, and since he’s mostly facing lefties, as evidenced by only 26 of his 69 outings in 2013 consisting of Lopez going against more than two batters, you want to focus on that (but not his ERA against lefties). So, among pitchers that had more than 20 IP vs. LHH:
- .197 wOBA against, 8th-best in MLB (Francisco Liriano was 2nd at .151)
- .208 OBP against, 7th-best in MLB (Madison Bumgarner was 5th at .201)
- 1.53 FIP, 6th-best in MLB (Clayton Kershaw was T-3rd at 1.24)
That sort of Top-10 MLB talent on your roster is very welcome, and I don’t expect Bruce Bochy‘s usage of Lopez to be much different in 2014-2016 unless Javy transforms into some sort of two-headed monster that can also dominate RHH. This past season, I’m not sure you could qualify he really was any of that, even in a small sample size of 63 RHH faced. Within the 18 Giants pitchers that threw at least 10.0 IP, this is where he ranked within the same categories listed above:
- .321 wOBA against, 11th on team
- .361 OBP against, 12th on team
- 4.20 FIP, 10th on team
Those kinds of numbers bring out the words, “No thanks,” if asked about letting Night Train go against RHH for a long period of time in a close game. Bruce Bochy’s a smart in-game guy, though. We’d know by now if he didn’t know how to use Lopez, and we know he knows how to use the 36 year old Puerto Rican-American.
Here’s my collection of Javier Lopez GIFs. I know, I know, I really need to grow that collection. So many epic Javy moments.
Assuming the money is split evenly across three years, this brings the Giants to around $118.4MM on my spreadsheet. I do not mind this contract, even for a lefty specialist. The Giants do a pretty good job of printing money, but not to Dodger/Yankee levels, so I’m not worried that their pursuit of a high risk/high reward-type #5 SP or a LF platoon partner for Gregor Blanco has been derailed by all these signings.
The game ended 5-3, but the Giants had plenty of moments where their pitchers and their defense came through for them. Tim Lincecum had a stretch where he looked stellar, and then other moments where nobody knew where his fastball was going. After Jose Mijares loaded the bases off of a weak hit, a line drive, and a curveball for a HBP on Mark Ellis, George Kontos came in to save the day on what was deemed the biggest hit in win probability added for the Dodgers on this Matt Kemp double play:
Could Pablo Sandoval thrown home or to second and got the second out? Debatable. He did do the smart thing by getting two sure outs: one at third, and one at first as the Dodgers would score what would be their last run of the night.
So he decided to throw his 3-2 pitch and strut off.
“Dah! Dah! Dah! Dah! Dah! Dah! Dah! Dah!”
Matt Kemp went 0-for-the-series and Chad Gaudin was more than happy to be a contributor to the cause, and also had pretty good control in Wednesday’s outing.
I mean, look at that handsome defense
Even from that angle I get lost in his beautiful eyes
And one more angle for good measure
Good game, Luis Cruz, but not even close.
The Giants have an off-day today, then engage with the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday at 1:35PM PST at home in front of what I’m guessing will be three straight sell-out crowds.
With Spring Training happening now, prospect lists are coming out, from Baseball America and MLB most notably, fans start to compare farm systems and search within themselves how much that farm system matters to how they feel about their team. If you’re the Cardinals, you take pride in knowing the club you have at the major league level is of very good quality, and your farm provides plenty of promise. If you’re the Padres, you hold out hope for the future, because your farm has been good for some time while fans in San Diego have been left with a 2010 rush but not much else recently. If you’re a fan of the Giants, you’ve been given proof in postseasons and parades that the team at the major league level is worthy of being taken seriously, while the system may not be as top-heavy as it has been in the past, so you wonder how long the current MLB club can hold on until you will need reinforcements from the farm, not just on journeymen AAAA players.
While many of the Top 10 prospects of national lists have an estimated time of arrival in 2013, the MLB should expect to see plenty of new, highly-touted arms and bats before the end of the season, we’re not sure who from the Top 10 lists (or really any list) of San Francisco Giants minor leaguers that haven’t had their shot will crack the 2013 rosters AND be a useful piece.
Sure, Francisco Peguero could be useful here and there if one of the corner outfielders find the disabled list, but I haven’t seen a recent report that suggests he has the profile for an everyday spot. Gary Brown, the former number one prospect of the Giants could be that guy, especially with his strong second half he put up in Double-A Richmond. Roger Kieschnick‘s name got whispered last year by some fans, and he’s on the 40-man.
Conor Gillaspie has 48 PA across three different seasons, and you just hope he’ll be a good backup when the time comes, and you hope the same for the featured Fanfest kid Nick Noonan. All we’ve heard about Kensuke Tanaka is from Marty and his “Japanese feet.” Brock Bond has a cool name. That’s pretty much it when it comes to Giants prospects and who makes their living on the dirt.
The big names are all years away, although Chris Heston could be of use if one of the five go down. If he’s no good, then the Giants will probably draw from the AAA well, none of the others being prospects, mmmmaybe before checking in on Michael Kickham. Eric Surkamp is the wild card in all this, who says he’ll start resuming activities in July. Keep all this in mind as you consider whose contracts and service time with the Champs could be coming to a close after 2013.
If there’s anything we’ve seen with Sabean in the last few years, it’s that he’s got this, and this year he may not have to even trade any fringe major leaguers to shore up the ‘pen. Prospect Heath Hembree, still thought by Jonathan Mayo to be a potential closer, could start the year in Fresno and then force the issue after the first month of the season if someone in the bullpen goes down or gets consistently lit up. Perhaps Bochy sees that the front office calls up son Bret Bochy. Jason Martinez of MLBDepthCharts (who also wrote a “window of opportunity” article for ESPN that you should read) also has minor leaguers Jake Dunning and Fabio Castillo as other names to watch that haven’t had a taste of the Major League coffee yet.
Whose Swan Song Might 2013 Be
The Giants have about $70MM of their nearly $140MM budget committed to their rotation this year, but this could be the last year San Francisco pays to have two guys in Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito on their roster. Unless Ryan Vogelsong magically disappears this year, his $6.5MM option will be picked up, and the Giants will still be left wondering who to fill in to the 4th and 5th spots of the rotation with Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner still leading a formidable 1-2 punch out of the gates. Do they commit the money that comes off the books to pitching? Posey? (<–the right answer. your argument is invalid.) Other offense?
The Giants got Hunter Pence for his bat, but his price tag is also very high, but one wonders how much it goes down if he continues what he did as a Giant in the regular season in 2013. If it doesn’t, though, do the Giants put out? Andres Torres, Javier Lopez, and Jose Mijares might also be tipping their caps to SF when the last game ends.
The Future is, and has been, now
Since the Giants have had a stable of young arms (plus Zito), people wondered what would happen if a team drew San Francisco in a best-of-series. 2010 was pretty much what some thought could happen, even if it did with a group of misfits. 2012 was a different set of happenings because the Giants went from three guys they could rely on with Jonathan Sanchez either walking everyone or finding his release point in ’10 to now in three guys and omg what about Lincecum and Zito? Still though, if you have a good to great rotation, and a strong top three for the playoffs, life might not be so bad for you (part of the reason why teams like the Nationals and Tigers should scare you). After this year, the questions arise: Who will be that #4? #5? Who will pick up the offense for an aging Marco Scutaro? (I’m pretty certain he isn’t going to be hitting what he did from acquisition & playoffs throughout his contract time.) Can Gary Brown be an answer?
This doesn’t mean that this is the very last year the Giants will compete in forever, but I believe if Lincecum is let go (which could be the right move in the long-term), and another offensive piece is not found/brought on, 2014 will be a difficult year with some of the top prospects starting to knock on the door for 2015. Therefore, if any big injuries happen to the rotation, or to the offense in 2013, Giants fans could find themselves grumbling for a couple of years before they can realistically start dreaming of parades again. Hopefully, health will be on their side, and everyone’s side, for that matter.
The Giants got swept by the Nationals and could be a whole 1.5 games back of the Dodgers by the end of the day. The black and orange have lost 5 of their last 6, and the Giants are lucky it’s July before the break so that they have time to figure out what the heck they need to do. Here’s what I think some big complaints will be following tonight’s game:
#1: We have a closer problem
The people are right: we have a problem with the title “closer” because it’s a very flawed concept that is based off of the need to get saves, which is a stupid stat in and of itself for reasons I’m not going to dive into here. I personally do not know whom Bochy thinks is his best reliever is, but I know who it is and he bailed the Giants out of the 7th, and threw up a 0 for the 8th inning.
Here are some stats between Romo and Casilla coming into today’s game to help me prove my point for why Sergio is better than Santiago:
Even if you hate sabermetrics, I know you can see a difference in ERA, and K/9.
For those wondering how these two do versus left-handed hitters. Romo has been platooned by Bochy, but it’s not like that’s Romo’s fault. He does just fine, as you can see in his wOBA against.
Keep in mind you may not want to use your best reliever in the 9th, as the game might call for it in the 7th, like it did tonight. Too bad we don’t have two Sergios though we could’ve used the second one in the 9th.
#2: We lost because of Brandon Crawford, and Brandon Belt should’ve had that
To put the game on Brandon Crawford, while understandable in the moment, is pretty unfair. Should Brandon Belt have had that extremely low throw by Crawford? Yes. Does that put the game on those two? No. This was as team of a loss as team losses get.
Pablo Sandoval was 0-for-2 in 2 opportunities with the bases loaded.
Brandon Belt and Joaquin Arias left Angel Pagan on 3rd with 0, and 1 outs, respectively in the 7th.
Matt Cain made a huge mistake to Ian Desmond by leaving one up when Buster wanted it down, which really re-started the Nats’ rally.
The Giants left 11 men on base.
Casilla made an error on a sacrifice bunt, and you never know how the game would’ve been different.
#3: We would’ve won if that play had been executed!
You don’t know that, and I don’t know that.
#4: Bochy lost that game for us.
For all Bochy does, I don’t think he lost this one for us. With Cain and his 6.2 IP done with, Bochy brought in Affeldt to play the percentages, no problem with that. Affeldt doesn’t get anyone, so instead of Penny, Bochy brings in Romo. Definitely no problem with that. In the 9th, Arias moves to 3rd, Crawford moves to Short, Nate goes to RF, I’m fine with that. Casilla in the 9th, for the whole 9th — with the mess Casilla got himself into, if Bochy wanted to get into a platoon game with Javier and Penny, that bullpen wouldn’t have lasted extra innings very long if they would have even made it, so I didn’t have a problem with that. My biggest problem was with his lineup having Christian 1st and Theriot 2nd, and it worked out tonight. This means it could become the lineup vs. LHP, which makes me a little sad.
Some will disagree with the things I said and that’s fine. Remember, this is one game, and there’s 79 games left, and this team may look way different 30 days from now.
2011 Stats: 3-2, 2.63 ERA, 67 G, 61.2 IP, 3 SV, 54 K, 24 BB, 3.69 FIP, 7.88 K/9, 5 HR allowed
While the world tries to make out the logic that is Brian Sabean signing two lefty relievers in 2 days for about $9.25MM, let’s take a look at one of the two he signed! Already talked about how good the other one was, and because he got signed for $4.25MM, it was only logical that since Affeldt has some better stats here and there he should be paid more than Lopez, right guys? Right!
Jeremy Affeldt is a pretty good reliever, and even if he hit the market he would’ve been paid like one. Consider that he had a .144 BAA against LHH. Good, right? Hellz yea! That equated to 13 hits in 90 AB, but he did allow 7 BBs (grrrrrr…). What’s interesting is he saw more ABs against RHH mainly because he’s better than Lopez at getting them out. With a .248 BAA against RHH you’re just using him because you know you’re going to see 1 or 2 LHH in the inning, or because is sweeping curve and changeup is just flat out MONEY that night. We’ve seen and remember those nights.
Fun with choosing your stats: Jeremy Affeldt in his 25 AB’s with a full count held hitters to a .080 BAA. Nice! In 11 ABs with the bases loaded he held hitters to a .091 BAA! Sweet! However, his BAA was at its peak when the game was within 1 R at .277 (not nice 😦 ) Affeldt saw the bulk of his work in the 7th and 8th innings at 24.1 IP and 21.1 IP in 32 and 31 games, respectively and he’ll hold that role as long as there’s a power righty in the bullpen or someone with a no-dot slider in the bullpen. This was only his 2nd season with an ERA under 3 (the other in 2009 with a ridiculous 1.73 ERA in 74 G) so we’ll see if he bounces back up above it in 2012. If it does, I’d expect that to be the end of Jeremy in the Bay. I’m expecting it to hover around 2.90-3.00 this year.
2012 Status: 7th/8th inning reliever/set-up man. Not just a LHH specialist, but can be.
2012 Projected Salary: $5MM in his final year.
2011 Season Stats: 5-2, 1 SV, 70 G, 53.0 IP, 6.79 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 2.72 ERA, 3.16 FIP
162 Games and Javy Lopez showed up in 70 of them. Granted as those 53.0 IP show you, he wasn’t called on to do a full inning’s work in all of those. If he seemed a little off from 2010, it’s because he was downright insane during his time after the trade from the Pirates to the 2010 Champs. Seriously, he posted a 1.42 ERA in 19.0 IP and 27 G with the Giants in the regular season in 2010. But then again, that 1.42 ERA kinda summed up all of the Giants pitching in late 2010.
He made about $2.3MM in 2011 and now there’s news that the Giants have extended his services to an almost doubled $4.25MM a year for 2 years. Will he be worth it? Probably, but I don’t know I would’ve gone higher than $3.5MM for a middle-reliever that also acts and performs as a set-up man (sorry, Rafael Soriano). He’s great against LHH (.163 BAA, 1 XBH allowed in 104 PA in 2010), but for not being the primary guy to set things up for B-Ri, I’m not sure how big of a fan I am of the size of the contract.
Safe to guess Javy will perform though. It’s pretty hard to not allow ANY HRs in a season and just 1 XBH. That XBH was in a game that had more of a 4-run differential, too. The homie had a 1.05 ERA in the 8th inning showing up in 40 G and 25.2 IP. 3 ER total. That’s amazing. In 2011 though, and I know it’s a small sample size in 9, and 7 G, respectively, Javy had a 5.06 ERA against both the D-Backs and the Padres. He did though, have a 0.00 ERA in 8 G against the Dodgers. With the NL West having the potential to be extremely much more dangerous in 2012, he will have to be better next year, but there is something to be said for the difficulty of consistently performing against the same opponent.
2012 Status: LHH Specialist to be used the 7th/8th inning
2012 projected salary: $4.25MM
2011 is over for the San Francisco Giants. If you were like me, you celebrated midnight and changed the calendar to 2012 because the off-season has officially begun for the 2010 Champs. It’s no secret that what got the Gigantes to the ticker-tape parade was a wall of pitching dominance and timely hitting by gentlemen who would not shine the same way in 2011. The first order of business going into this off-season as Sabes said, is the pitching. With that said, let’s take a look at who’s on the list for 2012, arbitration eligible for a pay raise and who may be donning a different uni by the time Spring Training breaks:
Set Salaries in 2012
- Barry Zito ($19MM in 2012)
- Matt Cain ($15.333)
- Brian Wilson ($8.5)
- Madison Bumgarner ($450K in 2011, controlled through 2016)
- Tim Lincecum ($14MM in 2011, 2 years of arbitration left)
- Jonathan Sanchez ($4.8 in 2011, 2 years left)
- Ramon Ramirez ($1.65 in 2011, 2 years)
- Santiago Casilla ($1.3 in 2011, 2 years)
- Sergio Romo ($450K in 2011, 3 years)
- Ryan Vogelsong (Under Team Control)
- Jeremy Affeldt ($5MM option that could be declined)
- Javier Lopez ($2,375MM in 2011, Free Agent)
- Guillermo Mota ($925K in 2011, Free Agent)