Miguel Tejada

Diving into the depths: San Francisco Giants


This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.

1. Tim Lincecum
2. Matt Cain
3. Jonathan Sanchez
4. Barry Zito
5. Madison Bumgarner
6. Jeff Suppan
7. Clayton Tanner
8. Dan Runzler
9. Henry Sosa
10. Shane Loux
11. Ryan Vogelsong

I don’t want to overestimate the Suppan signing, but before his addition, the Giants’ sixth starter was a guy who had a 79/64 K/BB ratio in 149 innings in Double-A last season. It’s going to be very important that the team’s top five stays relatively healthy once again.

1. Brian Wilson
2. Sergio Romo
3. Jeremy Affeldt
4. Santiago Casilla
5. Javier Lopez
6. Ramon Ramirez
7. Guillermo Mota
8. Dan Runzler
9. Marc Kroon
10. Waldis Joaquin
11. Alex Hinshaw
12. Steve Edlefsen
13. Casey Daigle
14. Ryan Vogelsong
15. Felix Romero
16. Shane Loux
17. Matt Yourkin

Because the Giants have two lefties guaranteed spots, they may well try Runzler as a starter this spring. If that happens, he’d start the year in the Triple-A rotation. … I’m very interested in seeing what Kroon has left. He always had a terrific arm, but command woes prevented him from establishing himself in the majors in his 20s. Now 37, he spent the last six years as one of Japan’s best closers. If he’s still throwing in the high-90s, he’s a sleeper.

1. Buster Posey
2. Eli Whiteside
3. Jackson Williams
4. Chris Stewart

First base
1. Aubrey Huff
2. Travis Ishikawa
3. Brandon Belt
4. Pablo Sandoval
5. Brad Eldred

Second base
1. Freddy Sanchez
2. Mike Fontenot
3. Emmanuel Burriss
4. Mark DeRosa
5. Ryan Rohlinger

Third base
1. Pablo Sandoval
2. Mark DeRosa
3. Mike Fontenot
4. Ryan Rohlinger
5. Conor Gillaspie

1. Miguel Tejada
2. Emmanuel Burriss
3. Mike Fontenot
4. Ryan Rohlinger
5. Brandon Crawford

The Giants’ big question headed into spring training is whether Belt can force the team to carry him after his outstanding pro debut last season. If he does make the team, we’ll probably see him at first base and Huff in left field most of the time. Still, my guess is that he’ll head to Triple-A for at least two months. … Sandoval’s status will be another hot topic, but assuming that he’s made an effort to keep his weight down, he should get every chance to hold on to his job.

Left field
1. Pat Burrell
2. Aubrey Huff
3. Mark DeRosa
4. Brandon Belt
5. Aaron Rowand
6. Nate Schierholtz
7. Thomas Neal

Center field
1. Andres Torres
2. Aaron Rowand
3. Darren Ford
4. Cody Ross

Right field
1. Cody Ross
2. Aaron Rowand
3. Nate Schierholtz
4. Mark DeRosa
5. Terry Evans

Let’s assume Belt doesn’t make the team. There would still be four locks for the bench in DeRosa, Rowand, Fontenot and Whiteside, leaving just one spot for Schierholtz, Ishikawa or Burriss. Rowand’s demotion would seem to leave Schierholtz with no role at all, but Schierholtz’s defense would make him useful in the right situation.

Red Sox sign outfielder Chris Young

Chris Young Getty
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Veteran outfielder Chris Young thrived in a platoon role for the Yankees this past season and now he’s headed to the rival Red Sox to fill a similar role, signing a multi-year deal with Boston according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

Young was once an everyday center fielder for the Diamondbacks, making the All-Star team in 2010 at age 26, but for the past 3-4 years he’s gotten 300-350 plate appearances in a part-time role facing mostly left-handed pitching. He hit .252 with 14 homers and a .773 OPS for the Yankees, but prior to that failed to top a .700 OPS in 2013 or 2014.

Given the Red Sox’s outfield depth–Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Brock Holt even with Hanley Ramirez back in the infield–Young is unlikely to work his way into everyday playing time at age 32, but he should get another 300 or so plate appearances while also providing a veteran fallback option. And it’s possible his arrival clears the way for a trade.

David Price said to care about more than just the money

David Price

Every year free agency brings with it its own set of politics and talking points and spin. Factors which are said to be more important to players than the money being offered.

And, to be fair, there is one big factor that is likely more important than money for many of them: winning. I truly believe players want to win. They say it all the time and there’s no reason to think they’re being disingenuous about that, especially the ones who have been around the game a long time.

I’ll note, however, that given how success cycles work in baseball (i.e. teams that aren’t close to being true contenders aren’t likely to be spending big in free agency anyway) that consideration often washes out of the system. Every year you hear of one or two losing teams making a big, competitive offer to a free agent, but it’s not that common.

What I’m talking about more here are the truly soft factors. Factors which often anchor hot stove rumors, but which rarely if ever truly stand out as determining factors when it comes to where a free agent ends up. Examples of these include geographic proximity to where the player grew up, his wife grew up, he went to college or what have you. Remember how CC Sabathia was going to play in California? And Mark Teixeira was going to play for Baltimore? Heck, I’m so old I remember when Brandon Webb was gonna break the bank playing for the Reds.

It’s pretty rare, though, for that to pan out. Sabathia and Teixeira went to New York. If Brandon Webb’s shoulder had cooperated it’s not likely he would’ve ended up in Cincinnati. Money talks for free agents, much louder than any of the soft considerations. Even when, like Mike Hampton and his Denver-public-school-loving self claimed that he signed with the Rockies for reasons other than the fact that they unloaded the money truck for him.

I think we’re seeing a new soft factor emerge. Today Peter Gammons reported this about David Price:

Cities are fairly strong as soft factors go, I reckon. Somewhere south of money and winning but north of “my wife’s family lives there.” Money can make up the difference between a fun city and a lame city, but if things are equal, going someplace you want to be likely is a factor.

But that second one — being able to hit — seems a bit suspect. This is not the first time I’ve heard that this offseason. Zack Greinke was said to prefer the NL because he likes to hit. I’ve heard this about other pitchers too. I question how important a factor that truly is — the actual hitting part actually affecting a free agent decision — as much as I suspect it’s a negotiating tool designed to get AL teams to pay a premium to get the guy to “give up” hitting. Or, more likely, that it’s code for “it’s WAY easier to pitch in the NL because I get to face a pitcher who can’t hit for crap 2-3 times a game.”

On some level I suppose this is all unknowable. I doubt David Price or some other free agent pitcher is ever going to hold a January press conference in which he says the following:

“Well, the money was absolutely equal between the final two suitors and, as you know, both made the playoffs last year and play in cities with copious cultural resources for my family and me. And, having plotted the two cities on Google Maps, I discovered that the two cities are each EXACTLY 347 miles from my Aunt Tilly’s house! What are the friggin’ odds?

Ultimately, though, I signed here so I could bat.”

Like I said, not likely. But wouldn’t it be something if that happened? If so, I’d probably cast a 12-inch statue of Mike Hampton and start giving out an annual award or something.

Player pool for MLB postseason shares is a record $69 million

television money

MLB just announced the postseason shares for this year and the players’ overall pool is a record total of $69.9 million. Nice.

That total gets divided among playoff participants, with Royals receiving $25,157,573.73 for winning the World Series and Mets getting $16,771,715.82 for finishing runner-up. That works out to $370,069.03 each for the Royals and $300,757.78 each for the Mets.

Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports that the Royals have issued full playoff shares to a total of 58 people, plus 8.37 partial shares and 50 “cash rewards.” In other words: There was a whole bunch of money to go around if you were in any way involved in the Royals’ championship run.

According to MLB public relations the previous high for the overall player pool was $65.4 million in 2012 and the Mets’ playoff share is the highest ever for a World Series-losing team, topping the Tigers’ share of $291,667.68 in 2006. Kansas City’s playoff share is slightly less than San Francisco received last year.

Here are the individual postseason share amounts by team:

Royals – $370,069.03
Mets – $300,757.78
Blue Jays – $141,834.40
Cubs – $122,327.59
Astros – $36,783.25
Cardinals – $34,223.65
Dodgers – $34,168.74
Rangers – $34,074.40
Pirates – $15,884.20
Yankees – $13,979.99

Marc Anthony gets into the agent business, signs Aroldis Chapman

Aroldis Chapman

There is a somewhat mixed history of entertainers and musicians getting into the sports agent business. Sometimes it works out (Jay-Z has done OK). Sometimes it doesn’t (Master P says “Hi”).

Add another one to the list. A pretty big one. Ken Rosenthal reports that Marc Anthony’s Magnus Media is getting into sports. And the company, Magnus Sports, just signed a new client: Reds closer Aroldis Chapman. From Rosenthal:

The company said in a news release that it will team with a baseball agency, Praver Shapiro Sports Management — and that the group’s first major client will be Reds closer Aroldis Chapman.

Praver Shapiro represents a number of Latin players, including Marlinsshortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, Cubs right fielder Jorge Soler, Reds pitcherRaisel Iglesias and free-agent third baseman Juan Uribe.

Chapman is on the trading block right now but 2016 is his walk year, and barring injury he’ll due for perhaps the biggest payday a closer has ever seen. Whether he’ll actually get it depends on the negotiating skills of the biggest salsa artist the world has ever seen.

Gentlemen: you have a year to get some song title pun/headlines ready.