Friday, January 30, 2009

Giants Fan Fest '09

As the Hot Stove season is nearing a close, the 2009 baseball season is arriving. First on the agenda is the 2009 Fan Fest at AT&T park, Saturday, February 7th, from 1000-1500.

Fan Fest gives everyone a chance to see and meet the players, coaches, and management up close. Typically, a few legends of the past show up as well. Another benefit to Fan Fest is the beginning of single games tickets sales.

This year, the Giants have been busy during free agency, and fans will get their first looks at the newest members of the team, Randy Johnson, Jeremy Affeldt, Bobby Howry, and Edgar Renteria. I wouldn't be shocked to see both Josh Phelps and the newest member, Juan Uribe in attendance.

Others who will be there include Linceum, Cain, Bochy, Bowker, Burriss, Frandsen, Hinshaw, Lewis, Romo, Sanchez, Schierholtz, Taschner, Wilson, Zito, and Brian get your questions ready and hammer away at him. Also in attendance will be some legends of the past including Vida Blue, Orlando Cepeda, Carney Lansford, Mike Krukow, Dave Righetti, J.T. Snow, and the return of The Thrill, Will Clark!

Head on out and get your fix because for the first time in way too long the Giants are fielding a competetive team and are going to be exciting to watch...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Giants sign Juan Uribe

.......Did I just read my own title correctly???

.......The Giants just signed Juan Uribe to a minor league deal that could earn him $1 million dollars this season if he makes the team.........

...WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry, swore I wouldn't drop the F bomb on here...I guess I slipped....

...On second thought, I'M STILL MAD. What the.... is Brian Sabean doing??? Nice youth movement we have going here...

All right, I calmed down...a little...I mean, it is ONLY a minor league deal right? He MAY not make the team right? If not, the Giants aren't actually out the money right? So why the big deal then anyway? I mean, he has to bring something right? What does he bring?

Let's see:
He's an infielder(supersub)-check
He can play Short Stop- check
We need a backup shortstop- check
He can hit- (crickets)
He can run- (more crickets)
He has good plate discipline- ...........
Well, he has power- 20, 21, and 23 homeruns isn't exactly power, but i'll give you that he has hit a few homeruns in his past.

Seriously, check out his line, he's no upgrade.

OK, lets try to look at this objectively. Why really did the Giants feel the need to sign Uribe? The IF is not set in any way, but does have personnel with claims. Uribe can play 2B, SS, and 3B. Of the players most likely to make the team, only Emmanuel Burriss and Edgar Renteria can play SS so it is nice to see someone who can play there. Speaking of Burriss, this move all but seals his fate of playing in Fresno this season, even though this is a minor league deal. Back on track though, why else does Uribe make sense??? I can't find another reason.

Did I say he can't hit. He doesn't see a pitch he doesn't like and unlike Pablo Sandoval, Uribe can't hit those pitches either. He is 30 so he should still be in the prime of his career, not coming in on a minor league deal. He owns a career .253 average and spent last season backing up Joe Crede at 3B for the White Sox...Wait...How did...Ohhhhhhh, now I get it...

Joe Crede, that's it right there. Somehow, I knew Crede's name couldn't stay away from this. Uribe is a good option to back up Renteria, an aging SS who is hoping for a bounce back year, a good option to back up an inexperienced 2B (Frandsen, Burriss, Velez) who may falter and need to be benched, and a good option to back up 3B. Third Base, where the heir is supposed to be Sandoval, a converted catcher with 12 career games there, someone who GM Brian Sabean touted as the 3B next year. Because he has never changed his mind there (see Manny Burriss next years starter equals Edgar Renteria's 2/$18 contract). So maybe Uribe could make a good backup to say, a FA 3B who the Giants have been monitoring for 2 years now, who just worked out yesterday for Giants scouts, who buddy Aaron Rowand has been politicing over for a year now, who could mean the Giants move Pablo Sandoval to 1B to platoon with Travis Ishikawa. Enter Joe Crede.

It may may seem upsurd to get this worked up over a backup bench warmer but it's gonna cost something.
First, this almost guarentee's no Richie Aurulia this season. I'm OK with that in some respect, but not this one.
Second, This absolutely means Manny Burriss is in AAA ball this season learning the finer points of SS and trying to develop a little pop in his bat. Again, I'm OK with that as he needs to play, but I would have liked to have seen him get a chance to actually earn a job at 2B even though he should concentrate at SS.
Third, WHEN, not IF, he makes the team, who's left off the 25 man roster? Lets assume the Giants carry 12 pitchers, Lewis, Rowand, Winn, Molina, Renteria, and Sandoval. Also a backup catcher (Holm), 2 OF in Roberts (bad contract) and Schierholtz (Out of Options), Frandsen and Ishikawa as the penciled in starters at 2B and 1B. That leaves 2 spots open. Velez is supposed to be there and showed enough promise in the second half last year to warrant a job. 1 to go...Bowker and Burriss seem the most likely odd men out. Not that both couldn't use every day AB's this season but both showed enough promise to potentially be useful. Certainly better than Uribe. And don't forget about Josh Phelps. He who has arguably the most power of everyone going to camp this year, also on a minor league deal. As a first baseman, his opportunity seems to be down to having to beat out Ishikawa, it's one or the other maybe.
Fourth, this signing is a prelude. Prelude to the old ways. Aging vets coming off injuries and poor years seem to be the way to go now. Preview to the new ways, which are the old ways. Next up, signing Crede. It's going to happen in the next few days probably, maybe tomorrow. So then who goes? Velez? Ishikawa? Schierholtz? Frandsen? None can go back to the minors, they would have to be released if not traded. Is that what we want? We just got these kids here and now we are jettisoning them like a life raft on the Titanic...


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Thrill is back...

So, when I first started blogging about the Giants, my biggest dilemma was what to name the site. Some of you may have already heard this so I'll spare you, but the gist of it was central around Will Clark for many reasons. Mostly because he brought the passion and fire to the game that was needed and played it the way it is supposed to be played. Something that has been absent for some time around AT&T park. Something that needs to return to AT&T park...

As the Giants have finally admitted to needing a culture change AND a new direction from the surround and drown approach with aging vets to a superstar, they also have begun to follow up with that path. Without getting into a fire Brian Sabean rant or Sabean deserves an extension debate, it's hard to argue that he has made good moves this offseason that help the club next year while not mortgaging the future through development. The latest in the line of good moves comes not in the way of bringing in another but resufacing a legend of our time.

Will Clark may not be a Hall Of Famer, but to Giants fans, he's the favorite. The Giants have brought him in as a special assistant, meaning he'll be showing his face alot more. Specifically, Clark will be at many charity events and fundraisers, he'll be on the field during spring training and some practices, and he'll work with the minor league franchises to help fine tune the kids. This is where he can be most valueable. The Giants have been preaching that culture change tune for about a year now. This is what it means. Clark can pass on his views to how to play the game to guys like get the point. It's more important now than ever before because, as we all realize, the Giants actually have a good farm system...Why waste it. Guys like Conor Gillsepie might just need this. They are getting paid alot of money out of the draft now and can coast through the minors on talent alone. What they need are an approach and a meaning. Will Clark can kick them that way. And if he can't, well, I have no problem giving him a bat and letting him take some hacks. I bet he hits as good as Ishikawa does this year.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jack is Back!!!

Today, the Giants re upped with Lefty reliever Jack Taschner for 1 year/$835K. Taschner had filed for arbitration earlier this week, and happened to actually be a super two based on his position. It's hard to think of him as being in this position considering he has been in the Giants organization for 10 years now and will be 31 this spring.

Taschner had a good first year up with the Giants in 2005, in 24 games posting an ERA of 1.59 and a WHIP of 1.23. But then he regressed a little over the next 3 seasons, showing signs of inneptitude and brilliance, but all in all just inconsisent. Too inconsistent to be counted on in key sistuations, as the Giants found out the last few seasons. Fortunately for Taschner, the Giants have made 2 key signings (Affedlt and Howry), identified 2 key relievers in the minors (Romo and Hinshaw), and found their closer of the future (Wilson). This leave the pressure roles to others and allows Taschner to work on his consistency in earlier inning game time situations, and quite possibly his confidence.

With both Affedlt and Hinshaw as Lefty relievers, the Giants now find themselves in a somewhat unique situation, whereas they have 3 solid lefty options to go with this season, as most teams only have two and occasionally one. This gives the Giants the option of dealing one from a position of power if they so choose, and also possibly makes one the odd man out, as they may only want to carry two.

I suppose if there is an odd man out it will likely be Hinshaw to open the season at AAA for more seasoning because he regressed this spring, or the more likely scenario of Taschner being dealt. Taschner is the most likely to be traded, as Affedlt was just signed via free agency and Hinshaw is still very young and unproven. If he is traded, I see it in one of two ways, either he is included in a package for a hitter with the likes of Lowry/Sanchez, or a midseason deal once he has had the opportunity to showcase himself and the giants are clearly out of it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Who is your favorite Giant of all time...

Always interested in some good old fashioned debate...Let's switch it up a bit. I want to know, who is your All-time Favorite Giant? Not San Francisco era...Not who's the greatest ever, we all know that's either Willie or Barry...but who is YOUR favorite? We've had a poll going for a few weeks now and you have been answering, but I want more. Let's start another thread...

Is it someone off the current roster? Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain maybe, how about Brian Wilson, Barry Zito (I know, I know, but some people do), Bengie, Aaron, Randy...or Edgar (just kidding). Maybe they are all to recent, how about from the early part of the decade, Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent, Rob Nen, J.T. Snow? What about the 80's and 90's,we had some great players then...Matt Williams, Will Clark, Bob Brenly, Brett Butler, Robby Thompson, Rick Reuschel, Kurt Manwaring, Rod Beck, Dan Gladden, Chilli Davis, Jeffery Leonard...Maybe the earlier years, Vida Blue, Gaylord Perry, Orlando Cepeda, Tito Fuentes, John Montefusco, Jack Clark, Bobby Bonds, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal...I know there are others, so you tell me...

I have to go with Will Clark. I idolized him in my youth. His swagger, passion, intensity...and that swing. It didn't hurt hitting that grand slam off Nolan Ryan in his first AB, neither did the game against the cubs in the playoff. After Will, I have to go with Barry Bonds. He may be in trouble, he may be guilty, he may be disgraced, but by god, he was ours. And I rooted for him. I am not ashamed to say it. I poured 15 years into that man, watching every AB, running back from the beer line just in case he hit a homerun while I was there. I'm not about to turn on him now, after he is out of the game. He was and still is a first ballot HOF and better not get the McGwire treatment. I wasn't able to watch guys like the Willies, Juan, and Orlando, so hey fall a little short in my book. Tim Lincecum gets me just as excited as both Barry and Will did so I assume eventually he will be up there as well. And last, but most certainly not least, Rob Nen...Rob Nen...Rob Nen.

I can't say it enough...Rob Nen. He will forever be endowed to my heart. Not only was he the best closer the Giants have ever had, but for giving up his career for the chance at winning the World Series. For those who don't know the story behind it, in the fall of 2002, as the Giants were marching their way towards the World Series, Nen was diagnosed with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. A death sentence for pitchers. What Nen then did is remarkable. Instead of shutting it down and hoping for success in surgery, he powered through the pain and pitched with all his heart for the Giants and their fans. Nen risked, and probably caused further damage, from that October, and never pitched again. Thank you Rob...

Now, tell us, who do you like???

Monday, January 12, 2009

Swisher, Crede, Wiggy, Nady, and Manny. Who you want...

All right, so I've asked and you have answered. Let's see where we stand so far this off season:

Who should be the 5th starter? you guys nailed it with Randy Johnson @ 81%.

Recently, I threw out the What about Andruw? question and you overwhelmingly disagreed with me. 53% were just not interested and 33% think the Fat kid just can't play. OK, I get it. I was just thinking what if the other day but you all made great points, so I'll drop it. I'm not a fan anyway. (sent an email to the Giants saying please stay away just in case they were thinking about him)

Jake Peavy was linked to us by his own agents a few weeks back, so we asked what about Jake? This was split 44% No, 52% not at the expense of a top prospect. What it really says is No thanks, we don't want him.

Now on to the hot topics:
In a small, and fairly optomistic poll, we asked about 3rd base. Sandoval, Atkins (for Sanchez), Wigginton, or Zimmerman (for Cain). Mixed results here, but what was clear, no one wanted a trade, with only 11% for both. Sandoval was the favorite @ 44% and Wiggy the other 33%. Personally, i'd like to see a deal for Zimmerman, even though you don't like it. It may be one year premature still, as a Cain price tag is a bit hard to swallow until the Giants can better gauge the young guys.

I threw out Joe Crede in a poll, by the way it's still active. I wrote a piece on him and for those of you who read it, you know I'm not a fan of bringing him in here. Still, even through all that, you so far are 41% Hell No to him and a combined 57% for him. Sorry, but I've yet to read a convincing arguement for bringing him here. If you think you have one, let me hear it, I have a bad feeling they are going to be in on him in the end and if that's the case, i'll want to be on board. So bring it!!!

The Yankee's have been a hot topic all winter and of course, are once again trying to offload someone on the Giants. I asked which OF you may be interested in and Thank God you said absolutely not to Matsui and Damon. Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady are about 50/50 in your minds, and 16% of you so far want nothing to do with any of them. I personally like Swisher of the two. His contract is about right for him and he can only be better than last year. If the Giants get him, I can only imagine they would have to move a veteren contract at some point this winter, whether for him or someone else. We talked about it here.

A lot of names have been tossed around this offseason, whether it be via trade or F.A.. Many of you have weighed in and we've been talking about it pretty much all winter. We asked the question after the Giants signed Randy Johnson, if you could only get one more player, who would it be? Out of the possibilities, only Pat Burrell has been inked elswhere. At the time, he had only 8% of the vote anyway, so he wasn't exactly your first choice. Suprisingly, no one stood out far and away over the rest.

Swisher-22%, Wiggy- 17%, Beltre- 15%, Uggla-11%, Crede and Dunn- 8%, Nady- 7%, and go figure, Encarnacion and Cantu total 3 votes. I know there are a few other names floating around so let us know what you think. I still like Swisher for what he can bring to the longevity of the Giants,especially in 2010 and 2011. I know Beltre is what they need now and Uggla is more offense. Tell us what you think. This Poll is still up, so weigh in.

And finally, we covered the Big guy. No, not that big guy, he is still retired, err recovering from knee surgery and looking for a team. I mean the other big guy. Manny. He's been linked and unlinked, confirmed an offer has been made then confirmed and offer was not made. We asked what you think/want/desire. In two separate polls, one of them had 69% wanting to sign Manny, the other has half of you believing Manny is either about to sign or within a few weeks will sign, and 40% think Scott Boras is just using Sabean.

Me, i'm still torn. I do think Boras is trying to use Sabean but I also think there is mutual interest at hand. The question is really only whether or not Boras ever lets Manny take some sort of incentive based option deal or Sabean gets the owners to pony up another $75-$100 million. While I would like to see Manny in orange and black, I worry what the Giants will be able to,or more to the point, what they will have to do,to employ Manny on the current roster. Obviously there is a log jam and Fred Lewis must stay. Am I crazy? You tell me. I don't think so. It's your turn to talk.

Speak up now, or forever hold your peace...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Manny of updates...

Wow, what a week!!! It's been exactly 7 days since the Giants have been linked to Manny Ramirez. 8 days ago Manny's options seemed to be the Dodgers and, umm...hmmm...well, the Dodgers (maybe the Yankee's). Lets do a quick recap and figure out where we are...

Dec. 29- Jason Stark reported that THE DODGERS contacted Adam Dunn's agent.
Dec. 29- Ken Gurnick later added THE DODGERS were contacting Bobby Abreu's agent.
Dec. 30- Bill Shakin reports Scott Boras has called the Dodgers to talk about Manny.
Dec. 31- Ken Gurnick is now reporting Ned Colletti and Scott Boras are set to talk all things Manny.
Jan. 1- Troy Renck dropped a very small snippet in his column in the Denver Post. Last sentence to be exact. "The Giants, the NL West's most active team this winter, are quietly making an aggressive play for free agent Manny Ramirez, according to a major-league source." We can and have broken this sentence down in detail over the last week, and will continue to until he signs somewhere, but for now, to quote Bruce Willis "just the fax mam, just the fax".
Jan. 1- Henry Schulman is skeptical. It would have to be "very specific financial conditions."
Jan. 1- Jon Heyman thinks the Giants could be a huge threat to the Dodgers.
Jan. 2- Joel Sherman weighs in, Manny makes sense to the Giants for many reasons.
Jan. 2- Dennis O'Donnell says the Giants offered Manny a 4 year deal!
Jan. 2- Chris Haft writes the team downplays any offer to Manny.
Jan. 2- Henry Schulman can neither confirm nor deny the offer, but says at some point the Dodgers offered and had turned down a 3/$60 offer.
Jan. 2- OK, Henry Schulman finally got it. No offer has been made, but the Giants and Boras are speaking.
Jan. 3- Henry Schulman doesn't think this is just Scott Boras trying to drive Manny's price up.
Jan. 3- Ray Ratto thinks seems to be leery that Boras is using the Giants to drive up the price. giants will wait until corner OF market is "more clearly defined."
Jan. 3- Buster Olney finally weighs in. Says Rival GM's have serious doubts the Giants are serious.
Jan. 4- Jon Perrotto says the Giants are considering two offers now, 4/$100 deal based around a vesting and club option and 3/$63 without options.
Jan. 4- El Lefty Malo doesn't think the Giants have any shot at Manny based off Perrotto's outlook.
Jan. 4- T.R. Sullivan says the Rangers are not pursuing Manny.
Jan. 5- John Heyman says the Rangers "are considering a pursuit."
Jan. 5- Tim Brown thinks the Dodgers are holding firm and so is Boras.
Jan. 6- Ken Rosenthal states the most recent talks between Boras and the Dodgers were uneventful. But does think the Dodgers are "still the most logical fit."
Jan. 6- Jason Stark sites many "sources" as the Giants just can't afford Manny Ramirez, calling previous reports Baloney.
Jan. 6- Brian Sabean,in an interview with Rob Dibble and Jody MacDonald on XM175, said No offer has been made yet, have talked in parameters, are monitoring the situation, it would have to be a perfect fit money wise, not what they are looking for but he is "such a profound middle of the order hitter. Which we need."
Jan. 7- Henry Schulman responds to Jason Starks previous article, saying the Giants CAN afford Manny offering a Truth and Baloney segment (a must read as this is probably the single best assessment of where the Giants stand).
Jan. 7- And finally, Grant at McCovey Chronicles gave a very amusing play by play of events on a fictional day in the life of the Manny to the Giants drama. Funny thing is, it's not that far from the truth. Check it out.

So where does this leave us, lets condense even further...

The Dodgers want Dunn, then Abreu, Boras Calls Ned, Ned and Scott talk, some dude in Denver(?) says the Giants are hot after Manny (again ?), everyone in Giants land starts seeing visions of sugar plums and playoffs dancing in their dreams, A Giants beat writer is skeptical, a NY beat writer says it makes sense, the Giants offered 4 years, no they didn't but the dodgers did and were refused, Lefty thinks we have a shot, the Rangers are out, the Rangers are in, Scott and Ned are in a stare down, the Giants can't afford Manny, the Giants can afford Manny...

As far as I can tell, the only thing concrete about all of this is Manny is still a free agent, The Giants have a need, possibly the money, and the Agent may be using them...oh yeah, and somehow I have this sudden urge to grow deadlocks and root for another Power hitting left fielder with baggage! Shit, I didn't see that one coming.

And all this while Andrew Baggerly is in New Zealand. Check out his last sentence in his last blog,
"And if Manny Ramirez becomes a Giant while I’m abroad … well, I just might stay in New Zealand!" This was Jan. 1, before the first report came out...

No offense Baggs, but I'm kinda leaning toward you staying in New Zealand a while.

Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Andruw Jones anyone?

So the Dodgers just bought out Andruw Jones. They are going to defer his money over the next few years and so on and so forth. Whatever. Why? Because the dude sucks now, that's why. And theGiants almost signed him last year. Thank god for the youth movement huh...

The Dodgers are going to try and trade him, and his no contract now...and most likely won't be able to find a taker because, well, he sucks now. Why would I give up a low end minor league prospect for a guy when I can probably sign him for less than $1 million in a few weeks after they release him. hmmm....

Jones, he of whom blasted 41 homeruns in 2006, who was the Atlanta Braves pride and joy for 12 seasons, who has hit 371 career homeruns and is still only 31 years old, seems to be washed up. People in the industry seem to think he has a weight problem and no workout motivation. Well, that ought to do it. But is he really washed up???

Only one way to find out, and one lucky team is going to. Some team will end up signing Jones to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, or something very close to that. No matter what the dealis, it will be close to the amount of money Tim Lincecum willmake this season if he doesn't sign a long term deal with the Giants, and that will be less than $1 million.

So why not the Giants? If Jones price does fall to that, virtually nothing, only guarentee'd money if he makes the club out of camp, would you want the Giants to try??? What if he rebounds this year and hits 30 homeruns, bats .260 or better, is able to play center, heck left or right, can be a productive 4th or 5th outfielder??? Would you pay him $1 million dollars to take Dave Roberts spot on the pine???

To me, if he would sign here for that, i'd give him a shot in a heart beat. What's the worst that can happen. He sucks, we cut him, then never think about him again, and we are out 500K!!!

This is a deal they could do regardless of the rest of the offseason, regardless of any trade involving Sanchez or not, bringing a 3B in, signing a Burrell or a Dunn, signing a Manny, or clearing room for him. Chances are, the Giants may cut Dave Roberts and eat his $6.5 million even if they make no other moves this offseason...

So what would you do???

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Manny have come and Manny have gone, but will Manny be playing in San Fran?

This morning, Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post had a story saying the Giants have been secretly and aggresively pursuing Manny Ramirez since November.

Do you want him?

For starters, this is an out of market reporter identifying an unnamed source from MLB, never a vote of confidence on the accuracy of the information. It does however, raise the obvious questions...Do we want him? Who would have to go to accommodate him? How would the Giants keep him happy? HOW MUCH? HOW LONG? How does this effect the youth movement, more specifically Fred Lewis and Nate Schierholtz?

I have to admit, I'd love to stick it to the Dodgers and give them only a second round pick for Manny, as well as take the one guy who put them over the top last year. But I worry what the long term issues may be. Manny opted for F.A. with the idea of getting more than the 3 years he had on his deal. He wanted upwards of $22 million per. Now, he isn't going to get that 5-6 year deal he wants but at 36, he may get a 3-4 year deal. That puts him at 40+ years old when it's done and there has only ever been 1 Barry Bonds so why should we think we found another so soon. Realistically, Manny gets a 2 year deal worth $20+ million per year. The danger there is whether Manny can play happy at the reduced salary.

For Manny to come here, the Giants will have to move at least one outfielder, most likely Randy Winn. Dave Roberts is the obvious fans choice, and probably organization choice, to go. But at $6.5 million in his final year of his contract, and rapidly diminishing skills combined with increasing injuries, it will be hard to find a trading partner. The Giants would either have to take back a bad deal in return or eat alot of money. I could see the Giants eating maybe half. Even if they are to trade Roberts, that still leaves Aaron Rowand, Fred Lewis, and Winn so one more may have to go. Rowand, at 4 years $42 million still on his deal, would also be hard to trade but has some value. If the Giants traded him, they could move Winn to center. It's easy to see Winn being the most likely player to be moved but that raises another question...who hits leadoff. The Giants have already announced their plans to move Lewis to a more productive spot in the order, 5th, and Winn is the only other internal option for leadoff.

If the Giants can somehow convince manny to sign an incentive based deal for 1-2 years...something like 13-15 gaurenteed with easy incentives like 2 million for getting to 25 HR, 2 more at 30, 35, 40, 45, and so on. 2 mil for 100 RBI and another 1 mil for every 10 RBI above that, 2 mil for a .310 BA, with 1 mil for every .010 above that. Manny's career numbers are 35 HR, 115 RBI, and .314 BA. That would equal a salary of 22-24 million next season. Last year he hit 37 HR, 121 RBI, and .332 BA, or a salary of 27-29 million. It's alot of money but the production could be argued to be worth it.

I'm leaning to taking a flyer on Manny Ramirez, especially if it's incentive based over 1-2 seasons. I want to know what you think.

Do you want Manny?