How fitting was it that the lights went out in the park during the game where the Giants lost to the Diamondbacks 15-2 on September 24th, eliminating them from any post-season play? So the hope number is finally down to 0, and the season is over. I’m already going through Giant withdrawals. Since I strive to be an optimist, let’s see if we can take home any positives from this season:
-The Giants ended the season with a winning record (86-76). This was in serious jeopardy during the month of August. Even my boy Dave Benz wondered, “What are the odds the Giants don’t finish over .500?” on his Facebook page on September 10th.
-They came in second place in the Western Division.
-This one really surprised me: They only lost 6 more games than last year.
-They didn’t give up at the end of the season, even once they were out of contention. I think they felt they owed that to the fabulous fans.
-Pablo worked his tail off over the off-season and turned in a remarkable performance this year. I think if he hadn’t been injured, he may have been in serious contention for MVP.
-Vogelsong had his Cinderella year, ending with a 2.71 ERA, 13-7 Win-Loss record, 139 strikeouts, and 1.25 WHIP. What a comeback after having not pitched in the majors since 2006.
-Buster found out exactly how loved he is by the fan base (my glass half full skills rock!).
-Eli got more playing time. (Sorry – that one is totally self-serving).
-Some of the kids looked really good this year, including Crawford, Belt, Pill, and Christian.
-There were worries that the pitching staff would be worn out after last year’s longer season and that they might not perform as well this year. They actually ended up coming back to pitch even better than last year, with an average ERA of 3.28 for the starters vs. 3.54 for last year.
-Bruce Bochy and Billy Hayes quit using smokeless tobacco (had to throw that one in).
-They set an all-time attendance record. I’m patting myself on the back for contributing to this! If you went to a game, pat yourself on the back, too!
If you have any positives to add to this list, please comment and let me know.
With the season ending, I thought it might be fun to predict who will be returning to the team next year (Hey, Pops – can you believe your daughter is doing this??). I was hoping to do this before there was any official news from the Giants, but they surprised me and had a press conference the day after the season ended. So my predictions are colored by what was said in the press conference. If you missed it, you can hear it here and if you don’t have time to listen, my boy Mychael Urban does a nice summary of what was said (Mychael Urban rocks!). I’m also including contract and salary info, partly because I was curious about this and wanted to find out for myself.
I’ll define a couple of baseball contract terms before we get started. First, there is arbitration. Players with at least three but less than six years of service are eligible for arbitration. As always, there are some exceptions, but I’m trying to keep this as simple as possible (there are enough details to do a whole blog about it). The player will make a case as to how much they should be paid, and the team will make a counter case as to how much they think the player should be paid. These are submitted to a panel of three professional arbitrators and they decide which of the two is more accurate, and they award the player a one-year, non-guaranteed contract at that salary. I need to acknowledge James Lincoln Ray for his basic, understandable summary of the arbitration process because this stuff gets pretty complicated pretty quickly. You can read it all here. Note that if a player has less than three years of service on a team, the team unilaterally decides on his salary. There are minimums, and during the 2011 season, the minimum salary was $414,500.
Another term is free agent. A player with six or more years in the majors who is not under contract for the following season is automatically a free agent. The team can offer the free agent arbitration. If they do, the player can either accept the arbitration or sign with another team. If the team does not offer arbitration, the player is free to go to another team. At any time, a team can make a contract with a player to keep them from leaving.
With this background, here’s the current 40-man roster and my comments on whether or not we’ll be seeing them next year:
Jeremy Affeldt – I was thinking he wouldn’t be back next year, but after hearing the press conference, it sounds like he definitely will. They better put a no BBQ clause in his contract. Affeldt is under club option, allowing the Giants to move him back and forth between the majors and minors. If they pick up his option, he will make $5 million (he made 4.5 million last year).
Madison Bumgarner – Madison has been playing in the majors for less than three years, and since his performance this year was stellar, he will definetly be in the 5-man pitching rotation. He made $450,000 last year – will probably make a little more next year.
Matt Cain – Luckily, Cain is under contract for another year, and is guaranteed to make at least $15.3 million next year (he made $7.3 million this year). He’ll definitely be back, and hopefully the Giants will negotiate a longer contract with him. He had a spectacular year.
Santiago Casilla – Casilla is arbitration eligible. With all the talk about him possibly being a closer in the future, I think he will be back. He made $1.3 million this year, and it is estimated that he will make $2.75 million next year (I’ve gotten the estimates from this site)
Steve Edlefsen – Not quite ready for prime time. I think he will be back in the minors.
Waldis Joaquin – Also not quite ready. Will be back in the minors.
Tim Lincecum – Tim is eligible for arbitration this year. You better believe the Giants will do anything they can to keep him on the team. He made $14 million last year, and the estimate is that he will make $18 million next year. There has been talk of trying to get him to sign a contract, but apparently he says he doesn’t want to sign for more than a year. This talk is scaring me.
Javier Lopez – Javi is a free agent. This one scares me as well. Javi has done a great job this year, but with the expense the team will have of keeping their awesome pitching staff around and getting a bat, I think they might let Javi go. I hate to say it, but that’s my prediction. He made $2.375 million last year.
Guillermo Mota – Mota is a free agent this year. Based on the same reasoning as Javi, I think he will be gone next year, even though he did a great job as a middle reliever. He made $925,000 last year.
Ramon Ramirez – Ramirez is eligible for arbitration this year. I think he will be back due to his strong performance. He made $1.65 million last year.
Sergio Romo – Romo is eligible for arbitration this year for the first time. He made $450,000 last year – what a bargain! He will definitely be back next year, and at a much higher salary. He had a spectacular year.
Dan Runzler – Runzler has not hit the 3-year mark yet. He made $418,500 last year. I think he will be back because he had a decent year filling in when guys were injured, and he is relatively cheap.
Jonathan Sanchez – J. Sanchez is eligible for arbitration this year. Even though he had his struggles, I think he will be back in the 5th position of the starting rotation next year. He made $4.8 million last year, and the estimate is that he will bring in $5.5 million next year.
Eric Surkamp – He started out strong, but faltered in the end. He will go back to the minors (Sabean even said this), and possibly come up if someone is injured.
Ryan Vogelsong – YES!! Ryan just came to the team, so he is ours! I couldn’t find salary info – I guess that’s because he just came up from the minors this year. I would assume his salary would be in the millions next year after his superb performance this year.
Brian Wilson – Brain is under contract next year (whew!), and will make $8.5 million (he made $6.5 million last year). You know he will definitely be back.
Barry Zito – Barry will be under contract next year for $19 million (!!!! – he made $18.5 million last year). There is no way the Giants will get rid of him and lose all that money. They will probably continue to use him as a reliever when there is a >7 run lead so we can’t lose. On a serious note, I really do feel sorry for Barry. From what I hear on the radio and TV, he is one of the hardest working guys on the team. It’s not his fault that his pitching is not what it was and that he was given a multi-million, 7-year-long contract. And he can’t walk away as the player’s union would be all over him. It must be depressing for him to be forced to go into a job every day where he knows he can’t perform. I am just hoping that something magical happens over the off-season and he somehow gets his mojo back so that he can end his career with some dignity. Come on, Barry! As Rob Schneider says, “You can do it!” I’m pulling for you!
Buster Posey – Just typing that makes me happy. I’m thrilled he’ll be back next year. He hasn’t hit the 3-year mark yet, and made $575,000 last year. Hopefully he can come right back in and continue his spectacular career.
Hector Sanchez – From what Sabean said, he will be back in the minors next year.
Chris Stewart – I think Chris will be the back-up catcher to Buster next year, due to his awesome arm.
Eli Whiteside – Eli is eligible for arbitration this year. Due to the above, I hate to say it, but I think my boy Eli will be gone next year. Keeping my fingers crossed, though. He made $425,000 last year.
Brandon Belt – I think he will definitely be on the team next year, probably playing in the outfield. Hopefully he can work on the hitting during the off-season.
Emmanuel Burriss – I love this guy, but I think he will be back in the minors next year.
Orlando Cabrera – Cabrera is a free agent this year. He made $1million last year. Due to his poor performance on both defense and offense for the Giants, I think he will be gone next year.
Brandon Crawford – I’m going out on a limb and predicting that Brandon will be on the team next year. His defense was beautiful, and hopefully he can get that batting average up over the off-season. And he’s got Ginny pulling for him!
Mark DeRosa – Mark is a free agent this year. Even though he struggled with injuries, he still had a super end-of-the-season. I love this guy. I’m predicting he will be back next year because of that run at the end and because he can play several positions. He made $6 million last year.
Mike Fontenot – I’m not sure why you don’t hear more about this guy – he rocks. He is eligible for arbitration this year. I definitely think he will be back due to his offensive and defensive skills, and his flexibility. He made $1.05 million last year, and it is estimated he will make $2.5 million next year.
Conor Gillaspie – Will be back in the minors next year, but I can see him coming up a lot to fill in for guys. Sweet inside-the-park homerun he made the other day.
Aubrey Huff – Huff is under contract next year and will make $10 million (he also made $10 million this year). Due to his under whelming performance this year, he has basically been given an ultimatum by Bochy and Sabean to improve next year or bye-bye. He will start with the team, but it’s on him whether he stays or not, and I think he will be mostly in the outfield. I read an interesting blog on Huff – you can check out Lee Seigel’s story here. Huff’s stats are much better in even years! His batting average is .294 in even years vs. .268 in odd years and he’s had way more RBIs and homeruns in even years. Keeping my fingers crossed that this holds true for him next year.
Jeff Keppinger – Another guy I love. He came in and performed beautifully right away. I think he will definitely be on the team next year, especially since he can play 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. His salary was $2.3 million last year.
Brett Pill – I think Brett’s strong performance last year, both offensively and defensively, will lead to him being the starting first baseman next year.
Freddy Sanchez – Another return I am looking forward to, though I am concerned about further injuries. Freddy is under contract next year for $6 million. They may break him in easy and have him share time at second with Keppinger.
Pablo Sandoval – DUH!!! Pablo is eligible for arbitration this year. And he will be back. He made $500,000 last year (another steal!), and it is estimated that he will make $3.25 million next year – worth every penny. What a super year he had. I’m still hoping for MVP next year.
Carlos Beltran – From what I’ve heard about Carlos’ agent, Scott Boras, Carlos will be too expensive for the Giants to afford. He was a super addition, though. Will keep my fingers crossed on this one. Carlos made a whopping $19.3 million last year.
Pat Burrell – Pat is a free agent this year. Sorry, but Pat won’t be back next year due to his injury and his lackluster performance. He even basically made his final good byes at the last game of the season. He made $1 million last year.
Justin Christian – I thought Justin had a good chance of being on the team next year due to his great performance and their need for a leadoff hitter, but according to the press conference, he is going back down to the minors. He definitely has a great career ahead of him, though.
Darren Ford – “The Bullet” will unfortunately be back down in the minors next season.
Cody Ross – Cody is a free agent this year. He’s another one I’ll be sad to see go, but I don’t think he’ll be back due to his poor performance this year. He made $6.3 million this year.
Nate Schierholtz – Nate is eligible for arbitration this year. Apparently, he is Bochy and Sabean’s golden child, and is guaranteed a spot on the team next year. If Beltran doesn’t come back, he will get his spot in right field back, otherwise he will be in left field. He has a fantastic arm, and his bat was on fire this season before his injury. He made $432,500 last year and is expected to make $1.75 million next year.
Andres Torres – Andres is eligible for arbitration this year. He is one of the nicest guys in the world, but unfortunately nice doesn’t win ball games. Due to his poor offensive performance this year, I think he will not return next year. He made $2.2 million last year, and if he comes back he is expected to make $2.5 million next year.
Please let me know if you disagree with me. It will be interesting in the next few months what moves the team makes. I remember last season how depressed I was when Uribe signed with the Dodgers. I used to love to see him raise his hands up in the air every time he got a home run. But that signing ended up being a blessing in disguise!
Now, on to the final spit counts of the season. I have two for you (and Stewart didn’t play in either game, so no new records were set!):
– Vogelsong 9
– Sandoval 7
– Fontenot 4
– Pill 3
– Casilla 2
– Cain 1
– Meulens 1
– Gillaspie 1
– Surkamp 1
– Kelly 1
– Romo 1
– Christian 1
– Whiteside 1
– Wilson 1
– Rosario 5
– Pacheco 5
– Smith 1
– Chacin 1
– Young 1
– Ellis 1
– Romero 1
– Lindstrom 1
Game Spit Master General = Vogelsong at 9
That’s a total of 50 spits during a 2 hour and 35 minute game for an average of almost 1 spit every 3 minutes.
– Surkamp 6
– Sandoval 5
– DeRosa 2
– Burriss 1
– Righetti 1
– Ford 1
– Keppinger 1
– Runzler 1
– Pill 1
– Ramirez 1
– Casilla 1
– Edlefsen 1
– Fontenot 1
– Pacheco 9
– Young 1
– Umpire – 5 (these were all attributed to the same 1st base umpire who was obviously using smokeless tobacco – WHY???)
Game Spit Master General = Pacheco of the Rockies at 9
Giants Game Spit Master General = Surkamp at 6
That’s a total of 38 spits during a 2 hour and 55 minute game for an average of 1 spit almost every 4.5 minutes.
The boys did not stop spitting after this game, even continuing to spit during the ceremony honoring the fans at the end.
I wasn’t expecting for today’s blog to be so long, so I think I’ll stop there and talk about the rest of the stuff I wanted to get to next time. But I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the folks at Comcast SportsNet and KNBR for all the baseball knowledge they’ve given me this season: Dave Benz, Scott Reiss, Leon “Bip” Roberts, Greg Papa, Shawn “The Blinker” Estes, Damon Andrews, Brodie Brazil, Amy Gutierrez, Jim Kozimor, Duane Kuiper, Mike Krukow, Jon Miller, Dave Flemming, Jaymee Sire, Mychael Urban, John Henry Smith, Marty Lurie, Brian Murphy, Paul McCaffrey, Eric Byrnes, Damon Bruce, Gary Radnich, Ray Ratto, Ralph Barbieri, Tom Tolbert, Bob Fitzgerald, and Rob Brooks. You all rock!! Special, humongous thanks to Dave Benz for getting the word out about my blog. Thanks to all of you as well for reading this and leaving comments. You rock! Blog frequency will be less for the next few months since the season is over, but I will try and put something up every couple of weeks. There’s always something going on in the off-season. And I already have a couple of ideas so we can all learn about what goes on during the off-season as well. And I need to tabulate the spit count results!! Maybe it will be more often than every 2 weeks after all! GO GIANTS!!