Everyone has their own milestone where they give up on the season. But I prefer logic to have governance over that. One of the great tools I've seen for managing a baseball season I learned from Dusty Baker (and I've seen references to other people using this tool, I'm only acknowledging my source) during one of his interviews long ago.
One Game A Week, That's All He Asks
Basically, the rule is to make up one game in the standings per week. One of the best project management tips I have ever heard for breaking down a much larger project into an easily comprehended and calculated metric. That helps players get out from under a huge deficit in the standings and be able to take a breath and not be as nervous/pressurized about where the team is in the standings.
However, the flipside of that is if you are more games behind than weeks left in the season, then your team is in a pretty bad position in competing for the division title. And the Giants just passed that this past week, as they are now 10 games back (oops, 11 games...) and there are only 8 weeks (roughly) left in the season. While I never give up final hope until September and this rule is in effect, for me, now that we are behind by that much, looking ahead to next season while trying to be competitive should now be the focus.
I have seen a lot of people say that it has been over for a while - one in fact asked me to apologize for saying that the Giants still had a chance - so the above is the reasoning I use for guiding following my team. There is no apology forthcoming.
Frankly, some of them are those I've seen before who said the team had no chance in 2010 and 2012, that the season was over, further, are people I've seen in late 2000's decade saying that the Giants were done and going nowhere, and they were clearly wrong, so why would I listen to them now? And some were very rude to me but I've never gotten an apology nor do I expect one from people who are so delusional to think that people like me would now listen to what they are spouting off now about the Giants when they have been mostly wrong for the past six or more years about the Giants direction. Just because they think the sky is falling and it actually does one time does not make them futuristic savants whose latest missives I should heed.
Not that you should heed my missives either, I wholeheartedly believe in sharing what information I know so that if I'm as delusional as others, I get pulled back from the ledge as well. I think I've been in a good spot, the Giants weren't doing well, but there were some signs of improvement that I pointed out as positives for the future - and for all the Naysayers saying they called it, not all of you did because the pitching this last weekend was amazing and some of you thought they were done - that did not work out as I thought they might. It happens.
I still have some hope of the Giants getting back into contention for the same reasons I thought that they still had a chance. But we are so far back that we need to start at least figuring out some things for next season.
Lots of things happening, lots of things to consider. Here are the ones I can remember:
- Heston was DFAed and resigned with us, he's in AAA
- Hunter Strickland was DFAed and still has a few more days before we find out what happens with him, but given he has been out since early April, I don't see any team dropping someone on their 40 man to pick up a still injured player.
- Petit was surprisingly (to me) DFAed after his nice relief outing for us, so Shankbone's observation that Petit didn't have that great of stuff in spring training seems to be the best explanation of that move.
- The Giants picked up Guillermo Moscosco from the Cubs for cash or a player to be named later, which is why the Giants dropped Petit.
- Giants activated Arias and optioned Dunning, who did a great job for us, to Fresno.
- Brian Wilson had a nice session in front of MLB teams and a handful, including the Giants, are interested in his services and are serious contenders. Still don't know if he's mad at the Giants enough to not sign with them - it seemed like he had burned that bridge already though - or if he's cooled down enough to be open to it. However, a retweet by John Shea of a Tim Brown tweet noted that Wilson signed with Dodgers. Hard to tell if that was a big middle finger to Giants or just the Dodgers love for ex-Giants (Colletti) and/or big stack of cash they have burning in their pockets. Part of me was wishing he would return, but the poor homestand put the kibosh on that, he didn't work as hard as he did to return only to pitch for a non-contender.
- Vogie still appears to be on track to return sometime in the first half of August.
- Abreu was placed on the 15 day DL while Tanaka was optioned to Fresno.
- Pill and Kieschnick were both called up,meaning Arias is the only backup MI.
The beats say that the Giants are not looking to trade anyone specifically but are at the point where they have to listen to deals and see what they can get. Sabean has already pointed out that Lincecum and Pence will get qualifying offers, which means that they get picks, and that sets the minimum bar for what the Giants would want for them. Sounds like the Giants are unlikely to trade Lincecum however, while Pence is available for the right price, but the Giants appear to still want to resign Pence.
- Belt to Astros for Bud Norris (mere speculation, I think, due to Pill call-up)
- At minimum, the Giants were "hard in" on Norris previously, so that is something to note. And the Astros are looking for at least a top prospect, so that means, for the Giants, starting with Crick probably, maybe Blackburn would be OK too, to start.
- Lopez for prospects (more speculation since he's valuable to contender and a free agent after the season).
- Reportedly, Reds are interested in Pence, as well as the Yankees, Rangers and Pirates.
- Scutaro has also been subject to speculation as well among fans, due to his age and contract.
Not that I think that they will be bargains either, I expect to overpay some. In Lincecum's case, we just don't know what we are going to get. I don't expect him to get any deal over $15M per season, and when it's that close to the qualifying offer, I don't see why the Giants won't just offer around that much if he turns down the QO and why he won't resign in hopes of rebuilding his free agent value with the team for one more season. Meanwhile, I'm hoping he makes the transition in 2014 to pitcher from thrower, or if not, transition to a super utility reliever who pitches as short or as long and as often as he feels like it. I'm willing to overpay 2014 in case he's that close, and I think he is. If 2014 is another bad year, then I'll be willing to let him go.
Pence I think is way overpriced. Not that great defensively, and really, his offense isn't THAT great, though good. But the Giants offense cannot get any worse without hurting our chances in 2014 and frankly I doubt there is anyone out on the market that we can get equivalent production for cheaper cost. So I'm willing to overpay to $13-15M per year for him for 3-4 seasons to retain his offensive production.
Belt I still believe in. I understand some are frustrated, but just look at Matt Williams' arc, he took three seasons to figure things out, before busting out in his fourth season, so I would rather keep Belt to see if he can do that, he's actually hit much better than Matt did in their early seasons. When there is the potential for a Votto-like player, I think you just have to be patient with him. But Norris is pretty good too, so I would probably do that trade if it were available, but I have to think that they would want younger prospects for Norris.
Same with Sandoval. I understand why some want to trade him (particular Shankbone), but guys who are potential 900+ OPS hitters don't grow on trees and while an offense with Posey, Pence, Belt is good, it would that much better with Sandoval. I will put up with him and be OK with getting a draft pick for him when he leaves, that's too much risk to go long-term with him without a clause on his weight.
The two I am OK with trading are Scutaro and Lopez. Scutaro the Giants really only wanted for two seasons, and he's hitting well, so if someone wants to overpay for him, great, take the deal, but it is only for so-so prospects, then that's OK, I would keep him.
Lopez makes the most sense. He's a free agent and Mijares has done very well for us, so we have a ready replacement already. Some are hoping for a bonanza like the A's got with Reddick, but really, that was just a fluke, like the Mets trading Kazmir, you have to be in the right time, right place, right players, right desperation/stupidity. You don't hope to get such deals, you just fall into them.
Still, a shutdown lefty reliever like him was shown to be very valuable during the playoffs in 2010 and 2012, and a team might be willing to overpay some to get him. He's the only one I would push to trade and do it for the best offer out there. That would also free up space for one of our AAA relievers to come up and see what he's got.
With Moscosco in tow now, the Giants now have Bumgarner, Cain, Vogelsong, Gaudin, and Moscosco as the 2014 starting rotation, not great but not too bad either. The Giants can now enter into negotiations with Lincecum wanting him to return, but not needing him to return.