Friday, November 28, 2014

2015 Giants Depth Chart: Relief Pitching

The Giants bullpen, like other aspects of the roster, is entering a transition phase as stalwarts who have carried them through 3 championships in 5 seasons age or get more expensive than their true value.  There will likely several bullpen slots open for competition come spring training.  Some people complain about how much the Giants spend on their bullpen, but unless they sign a high priced reliever this offseason, the total cost of their bullpen will be no more than some teams pay for just their closer!

MLB:

Santiago Casilla, RHP- 3-3, 1.70, 58.1 IP, 6.94 K/9, 2.31 BB/9, 19 Saves.  Casilla is the incumbent closer.  He did a solid job, but I don't think anyone was clamoring for him to close out Game 7 of the World Series.  He will earn $5 M in 2015 and has a team option for 2016.

Jeremy Affeldt, LHP- 4-2, 2.28, 55.1 IP, 6.67 K/9, 2.28 BB/9.  Affeldt, much like the Giants as a whole has alternated excellent seasons and down seasons.  2014 was an excellent season.  I'll say this about Affeldt.  Without him, I don't think the Giants win even 1 World Series in the past 5 seasons let alone 3!  He is coming into the final year of a 3 year contract and will be paid $5 M.  2015 will be his age 36 season.

Jean Machi, RHP- 7-1, 2.58, 66.1 IP, 6.92 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, 2 Saves.  Machi was terrific all season then kind of collapsed in the postseason.  Was he fatigued?  He seemed to suddenly start hanging his forkball.  He is not yet arbitration eligible, so will likely earn close to the league minimum.

Javier Lopez, LHP- 1-1, 3.11, 37.2 IP, 5.26 K/9, 4.54 BB/9.  Extreme lefty specialist.  Lopez had a down year.  Entering the second year of a 3 year contract and will be paid $4 M which may be a bit rich if he does not bounce back and kill lefty hitters again.

Hunter Strickland, RHP- 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 11.57 K/9, 0.00 BB/9, 1 Save.  His regular season line only shows a small fraction of the story here.  Strickland was used extensively in the postseason.  He had some spectacular moments such as saving the 18 inning game, but also gave up a ton of dingers.  Clearly has work to do before we can count on him for an MLB role in 2015.  Throws in the high 90's touching 100 MPH which Bochy clearly loves.

George Kontos, RHP- 4-0, 2.78, 32.1 IP, 7.52 K/9, 3.06 BB/9.  Has been maddeningly inconsistent looking great at times.  At other times gets slider happy and starts hanging 'em.

Erik Cordier, RHP- 0-0, 1.50, 6 IP, 13.50 K/9, 3.00 BB/9.  Throws even harder than Strickland, but has been wilder.  Will contend for a MLB job in Spring Training.

If the season started tomorrow, I think Strickland, Kontos and Cordier would be the back end of the bullpen.  If the Giants sign another starter, either Petit or Lincecum would slide into the bullpen and bump one of those 3 off.  Look for the Giants to bring in a veteran or two on minor league deals to provide competition in spring training too.  I don't think Romo will be back.

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AAA:

Brett Bochy, RHP- 4-4, 3.83, 54 IP, 7.83 K/9, 4.50 BB/9.  Son of the Giants Hall of Fame Manager.  Probably does not have enough stuff to be a MLB pitcher.

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AA:

Steven Okert, LHP- 1-0, 2.73, 33 IP, 10.36 K/9, 3.00 BB/9, 5 Saves.  High A- 1-2, 1.53, 35.1 IP, 13.75 K/9, 2.80 BB/9, 19 Saves.  AFL- 0-0, 0.75, 12 IP, 12.75 K/9, 0.75 BB/9, 1 Save.  Big, hard throwing lefty who gets his FB into the mid-90's backed up by a plus slider.  A near lock to be at least a lefty specialist in the majors and possibly a lot more.  Heir apparent to Jeremy Affeldt's role and could even become a closer!  Don't count this guy out of the competition for a roster spot out of spring training!

Cody Hall, RHP- 1-4, 3.14, 51.2 IP, 9.93 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, 11 Saves.  Hard throwing RHP.  Does not have quite the velocity of Strickland or Cordier, but may be a better pitcher.  Definitely better command than Cordier.  Could help by midseason and may be in the mix for a roster spot out of Spring Training.

Derek Law, RHP- 2-0, 2.57, 28 IP, 9.32 K/9, 4.50 BB/9, 13 Saves.  The BB/9 was surprising for a guy who walked just 4 batters in 2013.  In retrospect, it was probably a sign of his UCL going.  Underwent TJ about 2 months in.  Should be back around midseason.  Realistically, probably won't be a factor at the MLB level until 2016.

Josh Osich, LHP- 1-0, 3.78, 33.1 IP, 7.29 K/9, 5.40 BB/9.  Osich has never really gotten his career on track, mostly due to nagging injuries.  Left unprotected for the upcoming Rule 5 draft.  Small chance he may be picked, but this year's Rule 5 draft is chock full of bullpen arms who have hit triple digits.

Phil McCormick, LHP- 2-4, 3.72, 65.1 IP, 8.54 K/9, 3.99 BB/9, 1 Save.  Lefty who can go more than 1 inning at a time.  Needs to cut down on the walks a bit.

Dan Slania, RHP- 0-0, 0.79, 11.1 IP, 2.38 K/9, 2.38 BB/9.  Low A- 2-5, 3.99, 58.2 IP, 7.06 K/9, 3.22 BB/9, 12 Saves.  Numbers a bit disappointing to my eye for Big Dan but Giants gave him the late season promo to AA.

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High A:

Tyler Rogers, RHP- 4-0, 2.00, 72 IP, 9.00 K/9, 2.75 BB/9, 2 Saves.  AFL- 0-0, 2.13, 12.2 IP, 4.97 K/9, 1.42 BB/9.  Sidearming RHP was a workhorse out of the San Jose bullpen.  Should move up to AA in 2015.

Ray Black, RHP- 1-0, 2.75, 4 IP, 15.75 K/9, 4.50 BB/9.  Low A- 1-3, 3.73, 31.1 IP, 18.38 K/9, 4.02 BB/9.  Black has a long history of injuries but was healthy in 2014 and hit triple digits with regularity.  Added to the 40 man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.  I see no reason why he should not challenge for a 2015 MLB roster spot.  If he can stay healthy, wouldn't shock me if he was the Giants closer by the end of the 2015 season.

Stephen Johnson, RHP- 7-4, 3.65, 69 IP, 10.04 K/9, 4.70 BB/9, 1 Save.  Hit triple digits in college, but I don't think he does anymore.  Bullpen workhorse for SJ in 2014.  Should move up to AA.

Tyler Mizenko, RHP- 4-3, 3.48, 62 IP, 6.97 K/9, 2.47 BB/9, 14 Saves.  Extreme groundball pitcher.  has done a lot of closing in the lower minors, but probably does not have the stuff to be a MLB closer.  Could eventually be a long man, innings eater in the majors.

Bryce Bandilla, LHP- 0-1, 3.15, 34.1 IP, 12.32 K/9, 4.19 BB/9, 8 Saves.  Came back to SJ after washing out in AA and took over the closer role at the end of the season.  Should get a chance to try AA again in 2015.

Mason McVay, LHP- 0-5, 4.38, 72 IP, 10.38 K/9, 3.25 BB/9, 1 Save.  Big LHP who can go multiple innings.  I think he could still be converted to starter if the need arose.  Should move up to AA in 2015.

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Low A:

DJ Snelton, LHP- 4-1, 1.23, 29.1 IP, 9.82 K/9, 4.91 BB/9.  Big, tall lefty with great stuff.  Needs to cut down on the walks.

Carlos Alvarado, RHP- 6-1, 2.03, 62 IP, 7.98 K/9, 1.89 BB/9.  Tall thin RHP 25 years old.  Did not fair well in a late season callup to AA.

Jacob Smith, RHP- 3-5, 2.79, 58 IP, 11.95 K/9, 4.66 BB/9, 5 Saves.  Got hit in an extremely SSS after late callup to SJ.

Short Season:

Eduardo Encinosa, RHP- 4-1, 2.39, 26.1 IP, 7.52 K/9, 3.42 BB/9, 1 Save.  Big RHP out of Miami.  Has pitched well, but in very few innings since being drafted 3 years ago.

Eury Sanchez, RHP- 3-3, 3.48, 33.2 IP, 13.37 K/9, 4.01 BB/9, 14 Saves.  Small RHP, DSL graduate with big K numbers.

Rookie AZL:

Greg Brody, RHP- 1-1, 0.63, 14.1 IP, 16.95 K/9, 1.88 BB/9, 2 Saves.  College Closer, 11'th round draft pick out of Belmont.  Nice pro start in a very SSS.

Sam Coonrod, RHP- 1-0, 0.63, 27.2 IP, 8.13 K/9, 1.95 BB/9.  Hard throwing RHP drafted in round 5. Started 5 games out of 15 appearances in Arizona, but probably projects more as a MLB reliever.  Reputation for wildness so the BB/9 is encouraging albeit at a low level.

All in all, the Giants farm system has a generous supply of hard throwing, projectable bullpen arms with a nice distribution between RHP's and LHP's.  The farm system should provide a steady supply of bullpen pieces that can be supplemented by "dumpster dives" thus keeping the cost of maintaining the bullpen down while remaining competitive for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thoughts on Yoan Moncada

With the signing of Yasmany Tomas yesterday, the international buzz shifts to Yoan Moncada, an name that had been siphoning away some of the exuberance surrounding Tomas for awhile.  In fact, if you are still scratching your head over why Tomas deal was lower priced than had been predicted by many, Moncada may well be part of the reason.  Moncada's situation is a bit different in that he is just 19 years old.  His age and experience makes him an international amateur FA according to MLB rules as opposed to a MLB free agent.  More on that later.

Yoan Moncada is a middle infielder who has played both SS and 2B in Cuba.  He has a compact build at 6'1", 210 lbs.  He is a fast-twitch athlete who Kiley McDaniel reports has "plus-plus speed" and at least moderate power from both sides of the plate.  There is a highlight video out on the internet that mostly shows him diving for balls at both 2B and SS with a few batting sequences.  In one sequence, it does look like he gets down the 1B line in just over 4.00 secs.  His numbers at all levels in Cuba are very good.  Levels of play in Cuba are a bit confusing, but it appears that he has played 2 seasons at their MLB equivalent level with decent numbers i.e. .260 BA with high walk rates and approximately .450 SLG%.  As of the last report I could find, he had yet to be seen by many MLB international scouts, but has subsequently had workouts witnessed by scouts reportedly including Giants representatives.  It is generally agreed that if he was a draft prospect, he would easily be top 5 and probably be #1 overall.  He might need up to 1-2 years in the minors, but his level of experience in Cuba would suggest he would probably be almost immediately capable of playing at the MLB level.

From the videos I saw, he certainly looks both athletic, fast as heck and strong.  Although his body has been compared to Yasiel Puig's, he does not look as tall a Puig and his body not nearly as brawny.  I think he looks a bit thick in the middle for a 19 year old and would be mildly concerned that his body not only does not have physical projection but may actually have negative projection.  In other words, if he fills out any more, he will be overweight!  The other thing is you really can't tell about his defense from the videos as we all know that there is a lot more to defense than diving stops.  Diving stops in one game might be "past a diving Moncada" in another!  I'm not saying his D is not good.  Just that you cannot tell from the video highlights that are available.  The fact that he has already played 2B and that some scouts think SS may be the one position he cannot play adds to the caution here.  If he can't play SS, it would seem that both 2B and 3B waste his speed tool in terms of defensive value and he may be best used as an OF, not that there is anything wrong with that.

Now we get to the complicated part.  If Moncada were a MLB free agent, the bidding to sign him would probably go at least as high as Abreu, Tomas and Castillo and probably higher.  I'm thinking somewhere in the $80-100 M range.  The problem is that under international bonus pool rules,  all money has to go toward the signing bonus which has to be paid off within 12 months as opposed to a MLB contract in which the total amount can be spread out over 5 or more years. In most cases it has been over 6 years.  In Moncada's case, since he is so young, it could be extended for 10 years or more.  In addition to requiring everything to be paid upfront in a bonus payment, there is a 100% penalty paid to MLB for every dollar over the signing team's bonus pool, plus the signing team would then be only able to sign international prospects for $300 K or less for the next two years.  So, a signing bonus of, say, $30 M would actually cost $60 M!  Current estimates by most analysts are that Moncada will get a bonus in the range of $30-50 M for a total cost of $60-100 M which would all have to be paid within 12 months.  Obviously, not every team in MLB is going to be able, let alone willing, to make that kind of lump-sum payment.

The next problem with the Moncada situation is nobody knows exactly when he will become available.  He has been declared a FA by MLB, but still has to go through government clearance to come to the U.S. which can take variable lengths of time.  This makes it extremely difficult for teams to budget the kind of money that will be required to sign him.  For instance, if the Giants decided he was their guy, they might sit out the FA period going only for dumpster dive types in order to save up money to sign Moncada.  The problem is, that could come before spring training or after July 2, and there is no guarantee they would be the team that ended up signing him anyway, which would leave them with nothing to show for this offseason and a whole bunch of unspent money!

In summary, while Moncada looks like an exciting prospect, possibly the best in several years, I would be cautious about getting too irrationally exuberant about him for the following reasons:

1.  He may not grade out as high with professional scouts as with guys who write for websites.  We've already seen some of that with Tomas.

2.  The Giants have always adhered strictly to a yearly budget.  If a player gets too expensive for the current season's budget they will either pass or backload the contract to make the short term budget work.  They do not have that flexibility with Moncada.

3.  Sabean likes to wrap up his offseason business as soon as possible, so it is unlikely that he would want to hold back available money from the offseason for a future payment to Moncada, especially when there is no guarantee that Moncada would sign with the Giants at all!

It is likely that the only way Moncada wears a Giants uniform is if the baseball people are so blown away with him that they go to ownership and beg for them to break out the Greg Maddux/Rainy Day Fund money, or perhaps even borrow from future savings on the ballpark mortgage to sign him.  Maybe Yoan Moncada is worth all that.  Based on the small video snippets I've seen, I have to say I am skeptical.

Scouting the 2015 Draft: Nathan Kirby

Nathan Kirby is a LHP who goes 6'2", 190 lbs and pitches for college baseball powerhouse Virginia.  He had a tremendous sophomore season with a pitching line of 9-3, 2.06, 113.1 IP, 33 BB, 112 K.  Included in that line was a no-hitter against Pitt with 18 K's and just 1 BB.  He has also performed well in summer league competition.  He's a relatively rare power lefty with a FB that goes 90-94 with some tailing action and command to both sides of the plate.  He compliments that with a plus curveball and a a changeup that is rapidly becoming a plus pitch.  On video he has a smooth but powerful delivery with a 3/4 release point.  BA has him ranked as the #8 2015 draft prospect while Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs has him at #21.  He seems like a solid bet to be a future #3 starter in MLB.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2015 Giants Depth Chart: Starting Pitching Part III

We'll cover some pitching prospects in the deep minors, a few of whom may be the highest ceiling prospects in the Giants system:

Short Season:

Keury Mella, RHP- 1-1, 1.83, 19.2 IP, 9.15 K/9, 2.75 BB/9.  Low A- 3-3, 3.93, 66.1 IP, 8.55 K/9, 1.76 BB/9.  High ceiling pitching prospect who performed well.  Had a midseason shoulder scare but came back strong in limited action late in the season.  Could move up fast if healthy.

Tyler Beede, RHP- 0-0, 2.70, 6.2 IP, 9.45 K/9, 4.05 BB/9.  Rookie AZL- 0-1, 3.12, 8.2 IP, 11.42 K/9, 4.15 BB/9.  Very SSS due to pitching to the final game of the college WS.  Did not shake concerns about his control/command.  Should move fast as soon as he solves that.

Jason Forjet, RHP- 7-1, 3.10, 87 IP, 9.00 K/9, 1.66 BB/9.  Impressive numbers but at a lower level than 2013(high A).

Jose Reyes, RHP- 6-4, 3.89, 83.1 IP, 6.91 K/9, 1.73 BB/9.  Contact pitcher at a low level.  Odds are against guys with that profile.

Nick Gonzalez, LHP- 2-5, 4.06, 71 IP, 5.96 K/9, 3.55 BB/9.  Big LHP, but very disappointing numbers after a promising debut in rookie ball last year.

Ethan Miller, RHP- 5-3, 4.60, 78.1 IP, 6.55 K/9, 1.72 BB/9.  Ran hot and cold.  Had some very good games.  Enough here that I want to see more at higher levels.

Andrew Leenhouts, LHP- 3-4, 4.73, 72.1 IP, 8.83 K/9, 1.37 BB/9.  Improved on his 2013 numbers but at the same level.

Mella and Beede are the names to really watch here.

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Rookie AZL:

Matthew Gage, LHP- 2-0, 1.89, 33.1 IP, 8.64 K/9, 2.16 BB/9.  College pitching draftee will have to prove it at higher levels.

Michael Santos, RHP- 4-3, 2.56, 59.2 IP, 7.54 K/9, 1.96 BB/9.  Young RHP with tools.  Walk rate very encouraging, but would like to see a higher K rate.

There were several other interesting pitchers who may or may not be future starters including draftees Logan Webb and Stetson Woods plus holdovers Dylan Brooks and Rayan Hernandez.

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DSL:

Deyerbert Bolivar, LHP, 18 yo- 7-1, 1.77, 64 IP, 9.42 K/9, 2.81 BB/9.  Smallish LHP with nice numbers.  6 figure bonus baby.  We should see him in Arizona in 2015.

Alejandro Flores, RHP, 20 yo- 4-1, 2.86, 63 IP, 8.00 K/9, 1.71 BB/9.  Old for level but nice numbers.

Prebito Reyes, LHP, 18 yo- 3-3, 3.11, 66.2 IP, 6.48 K/9, 2.16 BB/9.  Bigger than Bolivar but not as heralded and numbers not quite as good.

Victor Concepcion, RHP, 17 yo- 6-1, 3.18, 65 IP, 10.38 K/9, 2.08 BB/9.  On the small side, but given age and numbers, worth following closely.

Hot Stove Update: Yasmany Tomas To Sign With D'Backs

The Yasmany Tomas watch is over.  The D'Backs agreed to a deal of 6 years/$68 M with an opt out clause at 4 years.  As you recall, Tomas is a Cuban OF with impressive power potential, but questionable just about everything else.  I wrote about him in an earlier post after seeing some video of him hitting a couple of 'taters.  I liked his swing.  I also said we don't know much more about him and we would have to trust the Giants scouts on him.

This is my current take:  6 years/$68 M is a lot lower than some of the earlier predictions about his price which in some cases was over $100 M.  Several big money teams who seemed to be interested backed off late, reportedly due to concerns about conditioning and weight.  He also struggled against good college pitching in an international tournament.  The Giants reportedly had 4 separate workouts with him and had personal connections to his agent, Jay Alou.  Given that Pablo signed with Boston, the Giants certainly had the resources to top the D'Backs price if they really wanted him.  I have to believe that the Giants talent evaluators just were not that impressed and they basically passed on him.

After the Hellickson trade, I have to say I am less than impressed with Dave Stewart's talent evaluation skills so I do not necessarily think this is a good deal for the D'Backs.  As for the Giants, we know they also have looked at Yoan Moncada and may have decided to use the Tomas resources on him.  Or, they may be more serious about a Jon Lester signing than we think.  In the end, if they let Tomas go for this price, I have to believe they were less than impressed by what they saw and I am willing to trust their judgement.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hot Stove Update: Tim Flannery Announces His Retirement From Coaching Baseball

Today, Giants 3B coach Tim Flannery posted a message on his Facebook page announcing his retirement from the position.  While he is retiring from coaching the Giants, he is not retiring from life as he plans to continue recording and touring with his music band, the Lunatic Fringe, as well as continue his charity work.  Prior to coming to San Francisco to coach 3B under Manager Bruce Bochy, Flannery had spent his entire baseball career with the San Diego Padres as a player, minor league manager and coach.  His playing career spanned 11 seasons, mostly as a scrappy reserve infielder.  He then went into managing and coaching and was the Padres 3B coach until 2002.  He remained out of baseball until 2007 when Bruce Bochy called and asked him to do "one more  ride" with him and the Giants.  The first season, was rocky as the Barry Bonds era ended in a metaphorical pile of rubble.  2008 wasn't much better and both Boch and Flan wondered how long the ride was going to last.  Well, it lasted 9 years and brought 3 World Series Championships, the only ones of the Giants San Francisco era.

Flannery was not just the Giants 3B coach.  He became part of the community, performing with his band which he even named after a local inside joke spawned by Brian Sabean's infamous "lunatic fringe" comment.  Ha!  Maybe Flan will name his next band the Cockroaches?  It was Tim Flannery who took the lead in raising money to help Brian Stow and his family after Stow suffered permanent brain damage in a beating in the Dodger Stadium parking lot.  Yeah, Tim Flannery may have spent his playing career in San Diego and started his coaching career there, but he was born to be the Giants 3B coach.

In retiring, Flannery wrote an eloquent farewell on his Facebook page.  You can read the full text on several Giants related websites.  I recommend sfgate.com, the article about Flannery explaining his decision.  Here are some key quotes:

"I've buried friends.  I've put friends in rehab.  I've watched marriages dissolve.  There is a lot of collateral damage in this lifestyle I've had for 35 years.  I'm going to send myself home safely."

"I had no desire to manage…..so then you ask yourself, what else are you going to do?  Keep coaching third till you drop over?"

"I need to stay home a little while and enjoy what we have just accomplished, or else it doesn't mean anything."

"I just feel like I did it in the baseball world.  I was as fulfilled helping the Stow family as much as anything I've done."

Then to me, this is his money quote.  I've read it at least 5 times today and I'm still getting tears in my eyes:

"With a heavy heart, I want to say something.  I left everything 9 years ago to chase a dream.  I left my home, my family to follow my leader and friend, Bruce Bochy, to fight another battle and bring a World Championship to San Francisco.  When I came here, I wasn't going to let anyone in on who I was.  I wasn't going to let anyone break my heart by getting too close to who I am.  I was just going to do my job and hide.  Well, of course that didn't happen…."

"Honored to be a Giant."

No Flan!  WE are honored that you are a Giant!

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I don't know if Tim Flannery plays this song in his shows, but it would be a good one for a guy who has been happy to play a supporting role his entire 35 years in Major League Baseball:

BEAUTIFUL LOSER

He wants to dream like a young man
with the wisdom of an old man.
He wants his home and security.
He wants to live like a sailor at sea.

Beautiful loser.
where you gonna to fall
when you realize
you just don't need it all?

He's your oldest and your best friend.
When you need him, he'll be there again.
He's always willing to be second best,
a perfect lodger, a perfect guest.

Beautiful loser…….

Bob Seger

The only difference between Flan and the character in this song is Flan is going out a beautiful winner!

Hot Stove Update: Pablo Sandoval To Sign With BoSox, Part II

In Part I, we looked at how the loss of Pablo Sandoval may impact the Giants.  In Part II, we will look at what the Boston Red Sox may gain from signing him as well as Hanley Ramirez.  A few years ago, the Red Sox went on a spending spree through free agency and trades that netted them Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, John Lackey and Josh Beckett among others.  It looked good on paper, but the pieces just did not fit together, in the clubhouse or the field.  The result was a last place finish with the architect, Theo Epstein fleeing the scene leaving someone else to sift through the debris.  Ben Cherington somehow managed to unload the malcontents.  He signed several role players to more modest contracts and the Red Sox bounced all the way back to championship.  Those role players were lightning in a bottle from stopgaps, though.  The plan was to gradually work in the prospects from one of the strongest farm systems in baseball as the stopgaps moved on.  The problem is the rookies were not quite ready and the stopgaps all regressed to about what you would expect from them and another last place finish ensued.

The Red Sox are now on another spending spree and already find themselves with pieces that may not fit.  First, let's look at the hard numbers.  Pablo Sandoval has averaged 2.7 fWAR over the past 3 seasons, 2.8/600 PA.  The Red Sox already had 4 in-house options who can play the position.  OK, we'll stipulate that Will Middlebrooks is a bust.  That leaves super-utility man Brock Holt who could take over the position and prospect Garin Cecchini who spent most of last year at AAA and played well in a small sample size with the Red Sox.  They also have Xander Bogaerts who may play SS, but has played 3B and played it well.  All told, I am not sure how much of an upgrade Boston just paid $100 M for.

Then there is the culture of the place.  Yes, Red Sox Nation has their lovable overweight dude in Big Papi, but Panda ain't no Papi.  While Giants fans in some corners would get restless when Pablo would eat himself out of the lineup, you could always find Panda hats scattered around AT&T Park.  There will be no reservoir of good will in Boston.  Let Pablo come in weighing 280 lbs and the first slump will turn those Boston fans into an angry mob!  Heck, he might not even have to come in at 280 lbs.  At his most svelte, Pablo has never been thin!  The comment that the option of moving to DH is part of what attracted Pablo to Boston as well as his brother's bristling at any weight incentives is not encouraging in terms of his intention to stay in shape.

Then there is the curious fact of the concomitant Hanley Ramirez signing.  Ramirez is a SS who pretty much everyone agrees cannot field the position anymore.  Is Ramirez going to displace Bogaerts and SS?  Maybe, but 3B is probably his best position now, except that is where Pablo is playing.  Most analysts think Hanley will play LF which means that Yoenis Cespedes is almost surely going to be traded, except how much of an upgrade in LF is Ramirez over Cespedes?  Even if Ramirez can play LF, will he?  I can just see him jogging after balls out there right now!

Even if you take the position that Boston has unlimited money to spend and doesn't care how much it takes for a 0.5 fWAR upgrade, these are still two head-scratchy moves that are not locks for even that much of an upgrade.