January 2011

Sixth pact: Torres agrees to one-year deal

Outfielder Andres Torres agreed with a one-year contract for $2.2 million with the Giants, avoiding arbitration for the last arbitration-eligible Giant.

andres.jpgTorres had asked for $2.6 million, and the Giants countered with $1.6 million. We heard reports earlier in the week that it was $1.8 million. But if it were $1.8 million, then $2.2 is the midway point. And if that’s the case, the two sides would have agreed to a deal on Tuesday. With the $1.6 million number, $2.1 million is the midpoint. So then it makes sense that Torres would hold out for an extra $100K, plus he can earn another $100K in bonuses.

Torres’ deal puts the payroll for the 25-man roster right at $114 million. With a half dozen or so players who will earn slight raises when their contracts are renewed, plus potential bonuses, the payroll could easily sit around $115 million for 2011, a jump of about $20 million over 2010.

Spring training roster primer

Now that all of the Giants’ arbitration-eligible players have agreed to 2011 deals, now we can take a look at how spring training will take shape next month.

So MoreSplashHits has put together a projected 25-man opening day roster, along with a list of other players expected to be in camp in Scottsdale next month.

PROJECTED 25-MAN OPENING DAY ROSTER

STARTING PITCHERS (5): RH Tim Lincecum, RH Matt Cain, LH Jonathan Sanchez, LH Barry Zito, LH Madison Bumgarner.

RELIEVERS (7): LH Jeremy Affeldt, RH Santiago Casilla, LH Javier Lopez, RH Ramon Ramirez, RH Sergio Romo, RH Guillermo Mota, RH Brian Wilson.

CATCHERS (2): Buster Posey, Eli Whiteside

INFIELDERS (6): 1B Aubrey Huff, 2B Freddy Sanchez, SS Miguel Tejada, 3B Pablo Sandoval, 1B Travis Ishikawa, 2B-SS-3B Mike Fontenot.

OUTFIELDERS (5): Pat Burrell, Andres Torres, Cody Ross, Aaron Rowand, Mark DeRosa

REST OF 40-MAN ROSTER (14 players)

PITCHERS (6): RH Jose Casilla, RH Steve Edlefsen, LH Alex Hinshaw, RH Henry Sosa, LH Clayton Tanner, LH Dan Runzler

INFIELDERS (4): SS Ehire Adrianza, 2B-SS Emmanuel Burriss, 3B Conor Gillaspie, 2B-SS-3B Ryan Rohlinger.

OUTFIELDERS (4): Darren Ford, Thomas Neal, Francisco Peguero, Nate Schierholtz

OTHER NON-ROSTER INVITEES TO SPRING TRAINING (22 players)

PITCHERS (11): RH Jeff Suppan, RH Casey Daigle, RH Waldis Joaquin, RH Shane Loux, RH Felix Romero, RH Jason Stoffel, RH Ryan Vogelsong, LH Wilmin Rodriguez, LH Ryan Verdugo, LH Matt Yourkin.

CATCHERS (4): Tommy Joseph, Hector Sanchez, Chris Stewart, Jackson Williams

INFIELDERS (5): 1B Brandon Belt, SS Brandon Crawford, 2B Charlie Culberson, 1B Brad Eldred, 2B Nick Noonan

OUTFIELDERS (3): Gary Brown, Terry Evans, Juan Perez

Suppan signed to make Zito feel better about his contributions

Jeff Suppan?!? Really??
That was the other news Thursday coming out of Giants camp, as veteran pitcher Jeff Suppan signed a minor-league contract with the team. He will earned $1 million if he makes the major league roster.
Suppan is purely a back-up plan for the Giants, as their rotation is set with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner.
And the bullpen looks solid, as well, with Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt, Ramon Ramirez, Santiago Casilla, Guillermo Mota or Dan Runzler. There have been reports that the Giants are thinking about converting Runzler into a starter at Fresno this season.
For those folks unfamiliar with Suppan’s track record, here it is:
After going 12-7 with 4.12 ERA and pitching in the World Series with the Cardinals in 2006, Suppan signed a four-year, $40 million contract with the Milwaukee Brewers.
He then went (and for fun, we added Zito’s numbers)
In 2007, 12-12, 4.62 ERA (11-13, 4.53)
In 2008, 10-10, 4.96 ERA (10-17, 5.15)
In 2009, 7-12, 5.29 ERA (10-13, 4.03)
In 2010, 3-8, 5.06 ERA (9-14, 4.15)
In 2010, he went 0-2 with a 7.84 ERA in two starts and 13 relief appearances before the Brewers finally released him on June 7 and eating the rest of the $12.75 million he was making in 2010.
A week later, he signed with the Cardinals, reuniting him with pitcher coach Dave Duncan. Suppan put up decent numbers in St. Louis, going 3-6 with a 3.84 ERA in 13 starts and two relief appearances.
After looking at those numbers, we can say this about Barry Zito … he was not the least productive starting pitcher to sign a multi-year free-agent contract in the 2006-07 offseason.
Hardly a rousing endorsement for Jeff Suppan.
So the idea here is Suppan serves as a Plan B (or C, or D or …) if one of the Giants starters runs into health issues this spring. Suppan’s agent said his client would be willing to pitch out of the pen, and that they’ll think about an assignment to Triple-A when the time comes (kind of sounds like a ‘no’).
But his agent wasn’t asked the most important question regard his client’s chances of making the Giants’ opening day roster.
“Can he play shortstop?”

Five down, one to go with arbitration

OK, MoreSplashHits gets a “close enough” on the arbitration case for Javier Lopez.

The left-handed reliever and the Giants agreed to terms for a one-year contract for $2.375 million on Thursday, leaving the Giants with just one unresolved arbitration case.

MoreSplashHits projected a compromise of $2.4 million after Lopez submitted a salary request of $2.875 million and the Giants countered with $2 million.

Lopez earned $775,000 last season pitching for the Pirates and the Giants.

According to the Associated Press, Lopez can earn an additional $50,000 each for pitching 55 or 60 innings in the deal he received Thursday. He went 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in 27 outings for the Giants, who acquired him at the trading deadline from Pittsburgh.

Thursday’s agreement leaves Andres Torres as the only unresolved arbitration case. Torres is seeking $2.6 million, while the Giants countered with $1.8 million. Halfway is $2.2 million. Hank Schulman of the Chronicle reports the two sides are close to a deal.

Lopez’s deal leaves the Giants’ 2011 payroll at $112.145 million.

Closer look at remaining arbitration cases

Four of the six arbitration-eligible Giants players settled with the team on the first day that arbitration figures could be exchanged.

So you may wonder why then did Andres Torres and Javier Lopez not settle.

The answer is simple: Age.

Cody Ross is 30, Jonathan Sanchez is 28, Ramon Ramirez is 29, Santiago Casilla is 30.
andres.jpg
Javier Lopez is 33. Andres Torres will turn 33 on Jan. 26. Lopez and Torres have fewer years of earning potential, and need to be paid now.

The way the arbitration process works is simple enough. A team will look at a player and figure out what would be a reasonable salary, then offer an arbitration figure that is less than that. The player does the same, except the player will offer a figure that is higher. Then when the two teams come together, they’ll find a middle-ground figure that is close to what each side figured was a reasonable salary.

If the two sides don’t come together on an agreement, it’s because one side — or both — think they can make a strong case for their arbitration figure.

With Lopez, it’s a case of making up for lost time.

Lopez spent much of the early part of his career making small splashes in the majors with the Rockies, Diamondbacks and Red Sox from 2003-2007.
JLop.jpg
It wasn’t until 2008 that he started making some money through arbitration, making $840,000 in 2008 with the Sox and $1.35 million in 2009.

But in 2009, he was designated for assignment by the Red Sox and eventually optioned to the minors, where he spent the bulk of 2009.

This had an adverse effect on Lopez’s earning potential by limiting his service time. When he was released by the Sox after the 2009 season, it took him out of the arbitration process.

He signed with the Pirates for $775,000 in 2010. And while he had a solid season with the Pirates and Giants, he finished the season five days shy of having enough service time to be eligible for free agency.

The Giants offered Lopez $2 million in arbitration. Lopez countered with $2.875 million. The Giants will argue their number is closer to what other middle relievers are getting in arbitration. Lopez will likely point to his service time and argue what other middle relievers are getting in free agency.

We’re guessing the Giants were hoping to settle around $2.2 million, while Lopez was looking for something in the area of $2.6 million. Look for the two sides to settle around $2.4 million.

Now Torres is 33. And because he spent so much of his career as a journeyman minor leaguer, he has never earned more than $426,000 in a season. So he’s due a big raise, whether he earns what the Giants offered ($1.8 million) or what he proposed ($2.6 million).

That fact means the Torres probably feels he’s got nothing to lose, and much to gain.

This is his first go-around in the arbitration process, meaning he won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2013 season, when he’ll be heading into his age-36 season.

The McCovey Chronicles has a clever post about the Torres arbitration process. To read it, click here.

Bottom line here is that the Giants were probably hoping to settle at $2 or 2.1 million. Halfway is $2.2 million, but the Giants should offer Torres an early birthday present and give him an offer of $2.35 million and call it good. 

Giants sign Cody Ross, J-San, others to 2011 deals

Woohoo! Finally, some news from the Giants to report.

After the Giants made early offseason moves to shore up their 2011 rosters, we’ve been limited to chatting about Edgar Renteria’s rants of respect and watching The Panda’s waistline.
But Tuesday brought the first day the salary arbitration figures could be exchanged, leading to a flood of players signing deals for 2011 and beyond.
Cody.jpg
And, according to various reports, four of the six arbitration-eligible Giants signed deals with the team on Tuesday. And here they are:
  • Outfielder Cody Ross signed for $6.3 million, a raise over his $4.45 million 2010 salary. The NLCS MVP was acquired in a waiver claim from the Marlins on Aug. 22. He hits 14 home runs with 65 RBI and hit .269 last season.
  • Starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez signed for $4.8 million after earning $2.1 million in 2010. Sanchez was 13-9 with 3.07 ERA in 33 starts last season.
  • Relief pitcher Ramon Ramirez agreed to a $1.65 million, after earning $1.155 million last year. Ramirez was acquired in a trade with the Red Sox last season. He went 1-0 with 0.67 ERA in 25 outings with the Giants.
  • Also, relief pitcher Santiago Casilla reportedly agreed to a one-year deal for $1.3 million. Casilla made $400,000 in 2010, when he went 7-2 with a 1.95 ERA in 55 innings last season.
That leaves outfielder Andres Torres ($426,000 in 2010) and relief pitcher Javier Lopez ($775,000) as the other arbitration-eligible players who have not agreed on 2011 terms yet.
Based on Tuesday’s numbers, we would expect Torres and Lopez to agree to deals in the $1.5-2 million neighborhood for 2011. In fact, we heard the Giants offered $1.8 million to Torres, which sounds about right.
With Tuesday’s deals the Giants’ 2011 payroll sits at 110.545 million. After Torres and Lopez agree to terms, we’d expect the payroll to climb to $114 million. 

2011 New Year’s Resolution: Freddy Sanchez, work on bunting

freddy.jpgAt first glance at the stats, it may look like Freddy Sanchez is an adequate bunter.

Last season, Sanchez had eight sacrifice hits, tying a career high. He ranked sixth among non-pitchers in the NL for sacrifices. He had an 89 percent success rate on his sacrifice attempts, also a career best.

However, this success rate stat only includes bunts in play that did not advance the runner or bunt strikeouts. It does not include ABs in which a batter failed to get a bunt down early in the count, then later swung away.

There is not stat that we found for failing to bunt early, then swinging away. And MoreSplashHits can remember several ABs from Sanchez that went exactly like that, particularly in the postseason.

Sanchez led the Giants in SHs with eight. However, the Padres — attempt with similar offensive deficiencies as the Giants — had three hitters with seven or more SHs last season, led by David Eckstein’s 12.

When he was with the Pirates, Sanchez was often the team’s leading hitter and not asked to sacrifice much, only once attempting more than six. But as the Giants’ No. 2 hitter, he has been, and will be, asked to advance the runner with a bunt.

Sanchez knows how to handle a bat, evidenced by his success rate of advancing runners when he wasn’t bunting.

Last season, he made a productive out in 43 percent of his opportunities, well above the MLB average of 33 percent. He successfully got a runner home from third with less than two outs 63 percent of the time (MLB avg. 51 percent). He advanced a runner from second with no outs 49 percent of the time (MLB avg. 43 percent).

So Freddy, work on your bunting this spring. That is your resolution.

One more reason to hate the Dodgers

It’s not like we need another reason to hate the Dodgers, but here’s one.

During the Winter Meetings, ESPN proposed having the Dodgers and Giants open the 2011 season with a  game on March 31 at AT&T Park. It would be a change from the original schedule, which had the Dodgers and Giants opening with a four-game series in Chavez Ravine on April 1.
beatLA.jpg
So the plan was for the Dodgers and Giants playing at 5 p.m. game in San Francisco on March 31, then playing a four-game series in LA starting the next day.

MLB was on board. The Giants were all for it. But ultimately, the Dodgers said “No.”

Freakin’ Dodgers.

So now the plan is for the Dodgers and Giants to open on March 31 with at 5 p.m. game, but it will take place in LA. ESPN will carry the game as a third part of a opening day tripleheader.

All games in the series were moved up on day. Here’s the schedule:

  • Thursday, March 31: Giants at Dodgers, 5 p.m. (ESPN)
  • Friday, April 1: Giants at Dodgers, 1:10 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 2: Giants at Dodgers, 1:10 p.m. (FOX)
  • Sunday, April 3: Giants at Dodgers, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)

Monday, April 4 will be a day off. The Giants will play their home opener on Friday, April 8 with a 1:35 p.m. game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

We assume the Giants will receive their World Series rings on April 8. And the Giants had better not give Juan Uribe his ring until the Dodgers come to San Francisco on April 11.

For a complete look at the Giants, 2011 schedule, click here.

Report: Renteria to sign with the Reds

So long, Edgar Renteria, and thanks for the memories.

ESPN Chicago is reporting that the 2010 World Series MVP will sign a one-year deal that could be worth as much as $3 million with incentives to serve as a backup infielder for the Cincinnati Reds.

We had heard that Renteria’s agent was in contact with the Giants as recently as Monday, but clearly the Giants weren’t moving off that $1 million offer that made last month that Renteria described as “total disrespect.”

Of course, it was never about respect. It was about the going rate for an aging backup infielder these days, and it was about what the Giants had to offer.

We don’t know the specifics of Renteria’s deal in Cincinnati. It’s probably at $1 million to $1.5 million base, with incentives that could allow the deal to grow to $3 million. The Reds will use Renteria to backup starting SS Paul Janish.

Without Renteria on the Giants’ postseason roster, it’s difficult to say what might have happened last postseason, So thanks, Edgar, for that.

But here’s another point: If the Giants didn’t put Renteria on the postseason roster — and there was strong consideration of that you may recall — there’s no way Renteria gets this deal. Without his strong postseason, Renteria would be signing a minor-league deal this offseason, or he would have retired.

Good news for Pacific Northwest Giants fans

Just as the San Francisco Giants World Series Trophy Tour began its march through Northern California this week comes news that the Trophy will make a visit into the Pacific Northwest this summer.

Previously, Pacific Northwest Giants fans — of which there are many — thought the closest the Trophy would come to them is a late-February stop in Medford, Ore., as part of the two-month Trophy Tour.
timtrophy.jpeg
But this week, an official in the ticket office of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes said the Class A short-season affiliate of the Giants was making plans to bring the World Series Trophy to the Willamette Valley this summer. The only issues outstanding were securing a date for the Trophy’s visit and then buying first-class airfare, because The Trophy don’t fly coach.

Seven members of the Giants’ 2010 World Series roster played for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes — 1B Travis Ishikawa (2002-03), OF Nate Schierholtz (2003), P Jonathan Sanchez (2004), P Sergio Romo (2005), 3B Pablo Sandoval (2005), P Tim Lincecum (2006) and C Buster Posey (2008). Three other Giants who did not make the World Series roster also played for the Volcanoes — IF Ryan Rohlinger (2006), IF Emmanuel Burriss (2006) and P Dan Runzler (2007).

While there’s no word on a date for the Trophy visit, the Volcanoes are scheduled to open their 2011 home slate on June 22, and their home schedule continues until Aug. 28.

If the Volcanoes are clever, if they can’t make the schedule work, and if they can wait that long, a good time for the Trophy visit might be during the Aug. 10-14 series when the Spokane Indians visit.

The Indians are the Northwest League affiliate of the Texas Rangers.

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