What To Make of Giants Turnover

From Izzy in the comments section:

Check the ’10 Giants lineup. Incredible turnover. Only starter from ’10 is Posey. Also, notice how the Giants, instead of whining about their dimensions and bringing the fences in, they build a team to take full of advantage of their field. Good defense, good pitchers and hustling ballplayers. Too bad the Mets and the old worn outdated GM and his cronies can’t show a vision. Getting one big prospect every two or three years ain’t getting the team from Queens to the WS. Go Giants, I still remember you in the Polo Grounds, you are just the NEW YORK BASEBALL GIANTS WEST!

Izzy makes a good point: the current, 2012 NL Champion Giants are quite unlike the 2010 NL Champion Giants.

Look first at the Giants’ postseason lineups from then and now:

Andres Torres – CF
Freddy Sanchez – 2B
Buster Posey – C
Pat Burrell – LF
Cody Ross – RF
Aubrey Huff – 1B
Juan Uribe – 3B
Edgar Renteria – SS
Angel Pagan – CF
Marco Scutaro – 2B
Pablo Sandoval – 3B
Buster Posey – C
Hunter Pence – RF
Brandon Belt – 1B
Gregor Blanco – LF
Brandon Crawford – SS

Let’s also take a look at the key bench players from each year:

You can argue that Pablo Sandoval was a starter for most of the 2010 regular season, but that’s still a massive turnover.

But the pitching staff has remained the same — hasn’t it? Let’s take a look:

2012 Starting Rotation:
Matt Cain
Madison Bumgarner
Ryan Vogelsong
Barry Zito
Tim Lincecum

Santiago Casilla
Jeremy Affeldt
Sergio Romo
Javier Lopez
Jose Mijares
Guillermo Mota
George Kontos

It should be noted that Lopez was on the Giants in ’10, but he appeared in only 27 games. Chris Ray and Ramon Ramirez were two other frequent contributors to that ’10 ‘pen, combining for 53 appearances between them.

Obviously, the pitching staff did not experience as drastic a turnover as the lineup, but still, there were changes in names and certainly in roles. Lincecum and Zito are the most extreme examples of role changes, and the bullpen went to a closer-by-committee after Brian Wilson went down for the season.

So what does all this mean? What can we learn from this “reload”?

What the Giants accomplished in two years reminds me of a marketing book called Do It Wrong Quickly. The premise is this: most companies spend a tremendous amount of time planning to get something right the first time, because it is too expensive to change. However, the author suggests that in the long run, it’s more efficient to “do it wrong quickly,” then fix it just as quickly. Essentially, the book explains that it makes sense to transition from a “plan then execute” strategy to a non-stop cycle of refinement.

Granted, the book is focused on website marketing, but I believe the principle can be applied to many other businesses — such as baseball. A constant “reloading” strategy is not unique to the Giants; Billy Beane has been doing it across the Bay for over a decade, and the Marlins (among other teams) have applied it en route to success.

What about the Mets? Couldn’t they use a similar plan to move toward the postseason?

Certainly, the Mets have had turnover since 2010, though it seems they may either be “doing it wrong not quickly enough” or “not fixing it quickly.” Take a look at the Mets’ 2010 vs. 2012 lineups.

Jose Reyes – SS
Luis Castillo / Ruben Tejada – 2B
Carlos Beltran – CF
David Wright – 3B
Jason Bay – LF
Ike Davis – 1B
Lucas Duda – RF
Josh Thole – C
Ruben Tejada – SS
Daniel Murphy – 2B
David Wright – 3B
Ike Davis – 1B
Scott Hairston / Jason Bay – LF
Lucas Duda – RF
Andres Torres – CF
Josh Thole – C

You could plug in Mike Baxter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Jordany Valdespin into any of the outfield spots for the 2012 lineup. And, you could argue that Kelly Shoppach and/or Mike Nickeas should be mixed in with Thole. Shoppach, actually, is an example of “do it wrong quickly,” in that the Mets gave him a 28-game audition to, presumably, determine whether he would be part of the starting catching mix next year. (If it were me, I’d have auditioned several catchers in 2012; it was pretty clear after 200 games of experience that Thole hit his ceiling.) Other examples of doing it wrong quickly — which don’t show up here — were the Brad Emaus and Mike Jacobs experiments. So there is evidence that the Mets were willing to trash concepts that don’t work out right away, but I’m not sure they’re as committed to the process overall.

How about the pitching?

2012 Starting Rotation
Johan Santana
R.A. Dickey
Jonathon Niese
Dillon Gee
Chris Young

Frank Francisco
Bobby Parnell
Ramon Ramirez
Jon Rauch
Tim Byrdak
Manny Acosta
Josh Edgin

Major turnover in the bullpen, not so much in the starting rotation. Of course, the argument is that there isn’t any sense in fixing what ain’t broke — the Mets figured out they had the makings of a fairly decent set of starters two years ago. On the other hand, there is the argument that maybe it could have become even better, had there been a commitment to change.

I’m not necessarily suggesting that the Mets would have been better off had they committed to turning over 90% of their roster in two years. However, I do believe we have the makings of a discussion here. After all, in 2010, the Mets finished in fourth place with a 79-83 record; in 2012, with a similar cast of characters, they finished in fourth place with a 74-88 record. Was it realistic to expect the same group of men improve drastically?

Later this week we’ll look at San Francisco’s turnover process, and compare it to the changes made by the Mets during the same time — as you may remember, there was a bit of overlap.


Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. norme October 24, 2012 at 11:39 am
    It seems that the main difference between the two teams from 2010 tio 2012 is that the SF 2010 team was a winning team. The Mets in both years were losers. So the Giants turned over a winning team and continued to win. The Mets turned over a losing team and continued to lose. Where do they go from here?
    • Joe Janish October 24, 2012 at 10:22 pm
      Except, the Mets didn’t turn over all that much.
  2. Andy October 24, 2012 at 11:49 am
    I’m sure the Mets would like to have improved the starting rotation as well. But with so many other problems and such limited resources, it wouldn’t have made sense to focus on their least weak spot.
    • Joe Janish October 24, 2012 at 10:23 pm
      Alternatively, maybe it would have made sense to deal from the closest thing they had to a “strength,” in order to build for the future.
  3. derek October 24, 2012 at 1:22 pm
    first things first…mets need a winning season to build off of b4 we can start talking playoffs and WS…08 was last winning season…but that wasnt the greatest way to end season and feel good about where they were going…unlike 1984, 1985 leading into the 86 season….

    if u look at the 2010 giants….they had winners…look at there roster…bunch of guys that had won WS, played in playoffs, had cy youngs, etc…

    the mets roster is void of guys with that exp….our young guys coming up havent won minor league titles.. our vet holdovers are from the team that collapsed…need to change the culture and win…and get guys in that are winners and lead…

    we needed to trade for carter and hernandez in the 80s…and as much as i like wright…we need to trade for a guy who has won and commands it from team….

    • Izzy October 24, 2012 at 6:15 pm
      I think its deeper than that derek. I think the entire Met org has no vision and no long range plan. Fro example, the giants gave Crawford the SS job. Well, he sucked for half a season. The kept him in the game and he figured it out at the plate and field. This while in a pennant race. The Mets…. Look at Kirk and Duda. Not in the race, when they struggled Collins gave them the boot and they both went to Buffalo to learn nothing about adjusting at the big league level. Secondly, Bochy and Righetti have shown they can work with vets and kids. Collins and company have shown nothing of the kind. The Giants have all kinds of hitters. Nobody is making all their players fit into one routine like the Mets have failed at. The Giants don’t have that much talent or payroll. What they have is an org that is flexible. Joe might call it do it wrong quickly, i call it knowing how to deal with the new baseball universe.
    • Joe Janish October 24, 2012 at 10:24 pm
      Derek, the fact that the Mets were void of winning ballplayers: isn’t that reason enough to turn over the roster and bring in winners?
      • derek October 25, 2012 at 11:51 am
        i think izzy is correct with mets vision and i blame that on wilpons..i know some people hate alderson and that is fine but think its more to do with wilpons…

        mets did stick with ike..i want to know whos idea it was to let him stay and not the others when he was struggling……im dont mind coming in last place as long as we r playing young guys and letting them get better, gain exp….but to stay middle pack it seems is the wilpon vision

  4. DaveSchneck October 24, 2012 at 11:20 pm
    Turnover or no turnover, I don’t see the big deal. To me, the key is the pitching. The had the best 12 in the NL in 2010, and they have the best 12 in the NL in 2012. By the way, they hit the fewest HRs in the NL. Pitching and D, that’s what it’s about. I hope Sandy Wilpon doesn’t deplete the pitching to find a few more long balls. IF they deal Niese, Gee, Dickey, or any arm, they best get back excessive value. Just spend a few $$$ for a competent CF/leadoff hitter, get a closer and go play ball. Hell, at a minimum they can DH Harvey in the intraleague games.
    • Joe Janish October 24, 2012 at 11:50 pm
      I think it’s enough of a deal to take a look and wonder if a turnover strategy makes sense — especially for a team whose roster hasn’t changed all that much through four consecutive seasons of losing seasons.

      If you keep showing up to a drag race driving your VW Beetle against Porsches, Mustangs, and Corvettes, and keep losing by several car lengths, wouldn’t you eventually consider ditching the Bug for something else?

      • DaveSchneck October 25, 2012 at 10:19 pm
        Definitely worth looking at the turnover, but my point is that the pitching and D is by far most important. Just look at the rag tag line up the Giants won with in 2010.
  5. mic October 25, 2012 at 2:44 am
    To me the key is management. Its always interesting to see how someone like Bochy and Righetti, et al; can get Pagan and Scutaro to play ‘up’ to their potential while Collins et al cant.

    Izzy is TOTALLY correct. Thole, Kirk, Duda et al are supposedly what 2012 was about. But they were harried, messed with and exiled. Remind you of 2004 and Jose Reyes? The Mets are enamored with role players and building role/platoon players. There is NO reason Kirk/Duda et al wont figure out big league pitchers with GOOD COACHING. Reyes will always hit his way, Pagan will always stand in a bucket. So, Ike will be a .260-40Hr guy at 1st…not a 300hitting -50HR/yr-GG winner.

    The other thing above…The organization is bigger than any player. Given the current state both financially and organizationally…I am afraid that David Wright and a 20M and yr salary does not fit.

    If next yr is truly developmental the Mets need to (use the above model) build around the pitchers…..Santana, Dickey, Harvey, Gee, Niese are a pretty good 5 to lead off….with Hefner, and Wheeler chasing. Plus Jenry and Jeury’s in a revamped pen with Bobby Parnal is not a bad start.

    Tejada and Ike, backed by Justin Turner/Lutz at 3rd, Murph and Jordy at 2nd are capable infielders, plus Wilmer is at least as close as Wheeler. Outfield, Let Kirk have LF or RF. CF looks like Den Dekker’s (eventually) but I’d have a stop gap option there. Bay is going to have a comeback yr (watch).

    Back to Dave Wright: This guy is possibly the best player on the market if shopped. He could re-tool the Mets by himself. A’ bobby bonilla’ type trade to Baltimore or the Bosox for example would stoke several fires, bring in publicity and good offer good potential return. My thoughts.

  6. Dave October 25, 2012 at 8:56 am
    Let’s look at the 2010 lineup in a different way:

    Andres Torres – CF – lightning in a bottle
    Freddy Sanchez – 2B – old (out of baseball?)
    Buster Posey – C – Star young catcher
    Pat Burrell – LF – old as dirt, out of baseball
    Cody Ross – RF – solid veteran pickup
    Aubrey Huff – 1B – old, lightning in a bottle, albatross contract
    Juan Uribe – 3B – old, lightning in a bottle, played < 162 games combined since 2010
    Edgar Renteria – SS – old, out of baseball

    Is it really that much of a surprise that a bunch of 30+ year old players on their last legs got shipped out of town?

    • Joe Janish October 28, 2012 at 2:59 pm
      No, it’s not surprising. What is somewhat impressive is replacing all of those oldsters with another set of championship ball players so quickly.