THIS IS AN AWFUL SIGN.
From a pure baseball standpoint, this isn’t the worst thing that could happen to the Giants. Johnny Cueto has a track record of being a premier pitcher in the league. He has carved up hitters for the last few years, and as his stuff has diminished he has become a more complete package of a pitcher.
If we eliminate his woes with KC in the second half last year, his resume is in line with some of the league’s elite.
^^^This is what the Giants beat writers, and upper management will be spewing at us the next couple of days. DON’T LISTEN TO A WORD OF IT. Let’s take a look at Johnny Cueto’s resume.
2008- 4.81 era, 174 ip, 176 hits, 158 so
2009- 4.41 era, 171 ip, 172 hits, 132 so
2010- 3.64 era, 185 ip, 181 hits, 138 so
2011- 2.31 era, 156 ip, 123 hits, 104 so
2012- 2.78 era, 217 ip, 205 hits, 170 so
2013- 2.82 era, 60.2 ip, 46 hits, 51 so
2014- 2.25 era, 243 ip, 169 hits, 242 so (Monster year)
2015- 3.44 era, 212 ip, 194 hits, 176 so
That is Cueto’s body of work. He has eclipsed 200 innings 3 times in an 8 year career. in 2 of the last 5 seasons he has been injured and left the seasons unfinished.
One of the big things we read about in the Shark sign was his innings workload. The Giants have not had a 200-inning pitcher besides Mad Bum since 2012. Even in the era of 5 man rotations and limited workloads, that is ridiculous. The Giants made a point of going after guys who have track records of sustainability. So how does Cueto fit in?
He doesn’t. The Giants inability to sign one industry recognized elite ace has lead us here. Don’t get me wrong, Cueto has been a stud in his good seasons. In those seasons he definitely fits the ace description. The argument can be made that those seasons point to a great pitcher who had a flub last year, and will return to form.
They don’t, and here is why. The Giants play in AT&T park. There is a LOT of real-estate to contend with in our park. While the home runs in The City have been way down since the Bonds days, this park will not be friendly to Cueto. People usually say that AT&T park is a pitcher friendly park for that reason. Johnny Cueto gives up an alarming amount of hits for a pitcher of his caliber. Let’s take a look at someone who is supposedly comparable.
2009- 128 ip, 119 hits
2010- 208 ip, 170 hits
2011- 224 ip, 192 hits
2012- 211 ip, 173 hits
2013- 187 ip, 178 hits
2014- 248 ip, 220 hits
2015- 220 ip, 190 hits
My point here is that Cueto, over the course of his career, has a much higher hits-per-inning than a comparable ace caliber pitcher. He gives up those hits, yet lacks the strikeout numbers that point to an ability to pitch out of a larger amount of situations where there are runners on base. Lets look at Tim Lincecum.
2008- 227 ip, 182 hits, 265 so
2009- 225 ip, 168 hits, 261 so
2010- 212 ip, 194 hits, 231 so
2011- 217 ip, 176 hits, 220 so
2012- 186 ip, 183 hits, 190 so
2013- 197 ip, 184 hits, 193 so
2014- 155 ip, 154 hits, 134 so
In the years that Tim Lincecum owned hitters in AT&T park, he had a very low hits-per-9 ratio, and struck out a billion batters. In the years that Tim has struggled he has allowed more hits per 9 and the strikeouts have shrunk. When Tim has allowed hits to batters he had the ability to strike the next guy out to get himself out of potentially hazardous situations. When he lost that ability, he lost his ability to pitch successfully in AT&T park.
Cueto does not have a pitching style conducive to success in San Francisco. I say that putting aside his second-half struggles last season. I could eat my words on this, but my prediction is that he will not pitch like an ace this year. An average year for Cueto is not what we are paying for, and now, to that point.
Cueto turned down a 120 million dollar contract offer from the Diamondbacks. Why was Cueto offered such a small contract in comparison to all the other big name starters out there? For some teams, maybe it was his poor second half, which would seem strange. Considering he pitched fantastically in the first half, and is one year removed from a second place finish in the CY voting. It may be that teams are wary of a guy whose velocity has decreased.
OR it may be that teams with parks with space for hits to drop, don’t like signing a guy for 200 million that has the potential to be a bust.
The facts are that we saw one offer of 120 million turned down by Cueto. There are reports that the Dodgers and Cardinals were in discussions with him but were wary of giving him more than the 120 million the Diamondbacks had already offered. That is three clubs that have recognized some sort of risk and offered to pay Cueto accordingly.
Reports out of the Giant’s camp say that the Cueto deal is WAY north of 120 million. WHAT???? Cueto’s price had been set. If no one was willing to go far over 120 million, why would the Giants do that? I’m envisioning something in the 180 million ballpark. 60 million more than he deserves. 60 million dollars that the Giants could use to extend some of their young stars who have been budding the scene these last few years.
We now have Pence, Posey, and Crawford under contract. That still leaves Panik, and Duffy. We have some promising prospects (Lucious Fox) waiting in the wings as well. To me, it would make sense to hold onto some of that money, if we are not going to get 1 of the few guys we initially targeted. Why out-spend the limited market on a guy who may bust on us. There is a very similar situation in Chicago right now.
The Cubs signed Heyward to a MASSIVE contract. They did this knowing that Bryant, Scharwber, Russel, and Soler are all going to need to be resigned within the next couple of years. There is no possible way for the Cubs to do that now. The difference in their situation is that with the Heyward sign, they could win the series next year. He unequivocally makes that team better.
Cueto has red flags all round him. A huge contract for a question mark, that limits our ability to sign our young core of guys, does not spell championship. To me it spells “No playoffs again”.
The Giants only made this signing because they missed out on everyone else. We are jealous middle schoolers now. “Oh, you want to go to AZ? Thats OK, I got a new pitcher now. His name’s Johnny.”.
Like I said earlier, though, this could blow up in my face. Cueto could pitch like an ace. With a return to form for Matt Cain, Mad Bum, and ace Johnny Cueto we would have one of the best staffs in baseball. It’s a risk for a reason. Good or bad.
Currently, I hate this sign. When it goes poorly, I am going to be the first person to jump on the “Fire Sabean Train”…admittedly, that will never happen. Evans is his patsy now.
If it goes well…well shit, I have one of the best staffs in baseball. That’s a wrong that I willing to wear.
If there turns out to be a good opt out option, I guess I don’t haaaaattteeee it. I guess I would adopt a wait-and-see mentality. If the money is more in line with what the industry has set. I’m back to hating this if it’s anything over 150.
EDIT: It looks like this is a 130 mil deal. Waiting on an option clause and we’ll see where I stand. Still don’t think he will pitch well, but the terms of the contract will at least be acceptable.