A Few Suggestions for “Fixing” MLB

The slow offseason leads to a bevy of other topics arising. The collective bargaining agreement is again at the forefront of talks. There are cracks in MLB’s foundation, and most people believe a player strike is coming. The two sides have three seasons to work things out, but they likely won’t. In the meantime, we can throw around different suggestions for “fixing baseball.” Here are a few of mine. None of them are really ground-breaking, but all could help solve an issue dragging down the game we love.

#1: Offseason Signing Deadline

It’s not just that MLB’s offseason has grown incredibly dull – and make no mistake, it has. Having the majority of your free agent class unsigned, including star players like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, with less than a month left until spring training is bad for baseball. Not all of this is on the teams though. Scott Boras, who claims to be all for the players, is essentially playing into the league’s hands by stalling the market. With Boras dragging things out for most of his clients, it’s pretty easy for GMs to sit back and wait until the last minute, when players literally have no option but to sign for significantly less money. And that’s exactly what’s happening, with no end in sight.

I’m not looking for wholesale changes here, but I do think there needs to be a free agent deadline for all parties to meet. New Year’s Day feels like a good date to me, as it’s basically the half-way point of the offseason. Once January 1 hit, there’d be a freeze on MLB free agent signings until one week before Opening Day. Under my scenario, there would be no limitations on trades, and I’m not sure I’d put a deadline on minor league deals either.  The hope is that November and December would be much more exciting for fans, and that most players would have some security entering the New Year.

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The Time Was Right

Some personal, non-baseball news to share here. I recently achieved what had been a dream of mine for many years, as I am now a published author on Amazon.

I began writing a sports history of sorts for my small-town high school as a graduation project, and continued to research and add to the story during my time at Chico State. All told, the project took nearly five years to complete, and it had been sitting on a flash drive since 2011. Now it’s available to the world, and I’m very excited to see where things go.

A little background: my little hometown near Chico, CA was never known for sports. We were the ultimate bottom-feeders in most programs during my childhood and high school years. Most of the records for football and basketball were owned by players from the 50’s and 60’s that nobody had ever heard of. I decided to research that era, not knowing it would lead to a full-blown novel.

For folks interested in sports at all, I do think the tales in this book are attention-grabbing. A school of 250 taking on state champions from Oregon, Nevada, and multiple prestigious Bay Area & Sacramento schools. Many of the events that took place still baffle me.

Anyway, I know many of you have loyally followed this blog over the years, and I thought maybe you’d be interested in checking this out. If you enjoy my writing here, I will say, it truly doesn’t hold a candle to the novel. That thing is by far my life’s greatest work.

It’s available in paperback ($15.99) and digital (7.99). I hope you’ll at least take a look inside the preview on Amazon!

I just really wanted to share this milestone with all of you. Thanks for your support over the years, and for keeping me motivated to write.

~ Cove Chatter (Kyle)

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January Trade Scenarios

Zaidi says a deal or two are on the way. Finally! Here’s a few ideas on what might be shaking out on the trade front.

Current Bumgarner status: Jon Morosi has officially irritated Farhan Zaidi over the Bumgarner rumors. Giants probably hold onto Bum now, if for no other reason than to spite the national media!

Players on the block: Will Smith, Tony Watson, Joe Panik, Evan Longoria

Potential Matches: Angels, Twins, Rays, Brewers

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Introducing Game Score WAR

I’m really excited to share a major statistical breakthrough with all of you. It’s a lot to cover, so I’m going to apologize in advance if something doesn’t add up. This is something I plan on referencing often in the future (via this blog, my Twitter account, etc), so I need to make sure I provide the background information here first.

Long story short, I found a way to convert pitcher Game Score into WAR totals… and I didn’t really even mean to!

Now, websites run by people who are a whole lot smarter than I am already do a fantastic job assigning wins to players with their own complex WAR formulas. I’m not going to pretend for one second that this “Game Score WAR” even approaches the sophistication of those models… but what I am going to tell you – and the reason why I’m so excited to share this – is that these Game Score WARs actually line up really well with both Fangraphs & Baseball-Reference. Like, it’s kind of blown my mind.

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The Giants Offseason Rumor Roster

Hey, it took a while, but we’ve finally got enough Giants rumors to fill out a 25-man roster. There’s very little chance of all these players ending up together next year, but it’s still fun to see what things might look like if they did… and I think we’re starting to get a more clear window into how Farhan Zaidi might fill out his first Giants team (barring any unexpected blockbuster deals, of course).

Free Agents

Josh Harrison, INF = this was just a whisper, and there’s nothing new to report. He’s still out there.

Yusei Kikuchi, SP = Giants are getting ready to meet with him and Scott Boras in LA, as are other teams of course. Zaidi has spoken highly of him, and Henry Schulman suggested the Giants may be at or near the top of his preferred list. It sounds like he’s the #1 target at this point.

Mike Fiers, SP = Giants are one of a few teams interested. Nothing new to report.

Troy Tulowitzki, 2B/SS = Zaidi and Bochy got a first-hand look at Tulo yesterday, and why wouldn’t they have interest in signing him? The more prominent question seems to be, why would he be interested in signing with them? The hometown angle and reuniting with old Dirt Bag Longoria would seem to be their best plays at this point.

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The Draft History of John Barr

It was announced last night that John Barr had been replaced as the Giants director of scouting and draft advisor. Michael Holmes comes over from Oakland to take on the role. Barr oversaw 11 drafts during his tenure, and saw plenty of mixed results. Here’s a quick look at each of those draft classes.

2008 | 5th Pick

#1 Buster Posey | 41.3 bWAR

#1S Connor Gillaspie | 1.0 bWAR

#3 Roger Kieschnick | -1 bWAR

#4 Brandon Crawford | 23.3 WAR

#13 Juan Perez | 0.4 WAR

Barr’s first draft class was easily his best, as he landed two future franchise icons and Gillaspie, who eventually returned to provide the organization with a couple magical October moments. As pitchers go, Eric Surkamp was the only one who logged any significant innings, albeit with nearly -2 career WAR. Still, Posey & Crawford alone make this one of the best draft classes in franchise history.

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Non-Tendered Free Agents: 10 to Consider

Scanning the list of players who were non-tendered by their clubs yesterday. There are definitely a few noteworthy names on the list. I pulled ten who I think could help the Giants the most next year, in order of my preference. There’s also a bonus name at the bottom. Obviously, most of these guys have some warts, and you wouldn’t want to fill a whole roster with them… but they’re also a group that’s seen success in the recent past, and are now likely pissed off, er, motivated, in hopes of landing a new deal and sticking it to the teams that gave up on them. A couple of targeted signings from this crop could end up proving valuable to Farhan Zaidi’s first Giants roster.

*Age listed is for 2019 season.

#1: Avisail Garcia, LF, Age 28 | 3-yr Avg: 466 PA, 109 wRC+, 17 HR, 6 BB%, 23 K%

Rationale: I’ve mentioned him a few times this offseason, and he’s one of my top choices as a risk/reward pickup. He’s athletic for a such a big guy (90th percentile sprint speed), and still hit 19 HR in an injury-filled, down season. It’s easy to wonder if his power would translate to AT&T, and this is why I would take my chances. He was in the 83rd percentile for average exit velocity and 90th for barreled-ball%. The Giants need more guys who hit the ball hard. Career .816 OPS vs lefties doesn’t hurt either.

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