Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Is the sky falling?

Ok, so I know I said no more analysis until the spring games started, tomorrow... but something came out of the intersquad game toady I just couldn't pass up...Barry Zito looked good!?...$# huh, I'm not sure how to end that statement. Does anyone else know the appropriate ending to that statement?

Barry Zito looked good+/>!:;@

...huh, I've never written that one before...

Anyway, on to today. Zito was scheduled to start and pitch the first inning, against Randy Johnson. We was so sharp and good, his pitch count so low, they gave him the second inning as well. Zito's velocity appeared to be up and his curveball down. His change up was sharp and he only allowed a runner to first. The latter part I don't care about.

Wow! Could this be a sign of things to come? Did the offseason overhaul with Brian Wilson work magic onto him? I mean, from 2 pull ups to 19 in 3+ months IS impressive.

What's more impressive to me is the fact that he looked sharp. Zito has never been an effective early season pitcher and even in his great years with the A's, he struggled in spring training.

Did Zito finally put the time and effort into the offseason that might allow him to show his good form all year? Is he going to earn that money this year?

Only time will tell, but I tell you what, I'm encouraged. Judgement will wait until more games are played. For now, I'm going to relish in the thought that we might actually have a Cy Young award winner as our number 4 pitcher, and not the fact that we have Barry Zito of the last 2 years pitching there.

Oh, what a thought, what a difference a good Barry Zito would make...

Game time baby, The wait is over!!!

As I sit here tonight and watch the ground dry from another day of much needed rain, I wonder how I ever made it through another winter without a ball game. November thru February is such a long time to watch paint dry... water boil... grass turn green. I mean, let's face it, everyone loves Football, but it's not baseball...and they only do it once a week.

I love all sports. Well, not really. Basketball just doesn't cut it for me anymore, it's too star player dependent, not enough of a team sport for what they promote. Tennis doesn't cut it either, although I LOOOOOVE to watch woman's tennis, just can't get into the sport.

Thank god for the Amgen Tour of California this past week, because the cabin fever was starting to get to me. Oh man, only 24 hours to go...

The Giants first spring training game is wednesday, against the Indians. Timmy is supposed to start. For he first time in years, since Barry Bonds injury, I am actually excited about the product we get. I think this is a team that can win the division. They may not have a great record and may only win 85 games, but by george, they can make the playoffs...and anything can happen there, just look at the Cardinals a few years ago.

It's time to put projections aside, lay down the arguements on who should start and where the offense is going to come from. it's time to see what IS going to happen...

Is Noah or Jonathan going to be the 5th starter and the other traded? Now we get to see them duel it out.

Who should be the starting second baseman, Kevin, our Manny, or E-U-G-E-N-I-O? Let's just see if their abilities shine through.

Is Dave Roberts going to get cut? Albeit I think it's innevitable, now we get to see if he wants to prove his worth.

Fred Lewis, Nate Schierholtz? the future is not only here, but it's time to see the action

Can Pablo repeat AND play third? Does Jesus make the jump? What happens to Travis? How about the kids in camp, Buster, little big Tim,and Madison? So many more questions, a winter's worth...

Ahh, but so many answers are on the way.

The best time of the year is here.

Enough with the speculation, hold the conversation, quit staring out the window...spring is finally here.

Let's Play some ball

We'll get back to the scrutinizing in a fe days, it's time for Giants Baseball...Hum-baby

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Andy Marte and the case of the missing Third Baseman

In what has become the longest Hot Stove season in history, more headlines are appearing now with links to those who have been linked to the third base in San Francisco.

First off, the Cleveland Indians have designated for assignment (DFA), former super prospect, Andy Marte. His name has surfaced the past 2 off seasons as a possible target of the Giants. The other.....I still don't believe what i'm writing, but Joe Crede has signed with the Twins.

Let's start with Crede, since he's been the hot topic. I haven't found the official press release yet from the Twins so I shall withhold my excitement until I see official proof, but for now, the leaked info shall do. The Twins inked him for $2.5 million guareteed and $4.5 million in incentives...way below the $11 mil total he was looking for...still about $3 million more than what he is worth this season...but what to I care, HE IS NOT A GIANT!!!

As for Marte, the Giants need to jump all over this kid. He is the perfect ball player to take a flyer on. I'm not saying we should expect him to come in here and be the starting third baseman, nor do I expect him to make the team. No, for other reasons...back to the basics of reasons. ANDY MARTE IS A YOUNG 3B WITH POTENTIAL...and he fills a glaring need...

What is the Giants single biggest weakness, outside of the obvious fact that they have no real, proven 3, 4, or 5 hitters...Ok, so that is huge...but still, organizationally, the Giants largest problem is having someone who can play 3B. Look at the depth chart:

Pablo Sandoval- ok, so we are praying for this to work out, but does the word praying instill much confidence. Sandoval is a converted catcher to third, who was originally a converted catcher from third. So really what we have is a guy who the Giants thought not enough of at his natural position, so they immediately converted him to a position of need, then hit the jackpot in the 2008 draft their at the same time they realized this kid can mash and can't really play catcher liked they hoped...So why not try him back at third because of the rest listed below...

Richie Aurilia- alright, we all know richie isn't the 3B of the future but he may be a stop gap of '09. More likely, he'll see most of the time at 1B if he makes the team.

Juan Uribe- cut loose by the White Sox because he just isn't that good, Uribe can play a decent third, decent when you compare him to last years starter, Jose Castillo, but then so could I. Uribe is not a long term solution, but makes a decent backup to the left side of the infield. In 600 AB's, he might give us 25 homeruns, but strike out a league record # of times (no joke either) and bat around .220. He makes for the perfect type of player Bruce Bochy falls in love with and forgets about the kids, so I don't like him on the roster.

Jesus Guzman- a nice steal this off season from the A's, Jesus would make for the perfect situation if he can make the final leap to the bigs...moving Pablo to first... Jesus is only 24, yet is already in his third organization. He has hit really well at A and AA but struggled some last season at AAA. His Power is just coming into play now, so we don't really know what we have yet, but he hit 25 and 17 homeruns the last 2 seasons combined as well as 13 homeruns in the venezuela winter league this year. His defense has never been spectacular, actually more like suspect. He is a long shot to make the roster. The guy has a ton of potential but there is a reason teams have let him get away. This is like the praying for Sandoval, with Guzman, we are hoping he can have a breakout year. Again, I don't put much faith in the word hoping.

Ryan Rohlinger- at 25, Rohlinger made his debut last season out of neccesity, not merit. He had been in the minors only two seasons and played in A ball only. He had hit 18 homeruns in 2007, so he might have some power, but he has too short a sample and at too low in the minors to have confidence in what we might have. In his 32 AB's with the big club, all he showed is he is not ready. He looked lost both at the plate and in the field, and was subsiquently sent back down to AA for seasoning, where he performed nicely posting a line of .296/.358/.497/.855 and 6 homeruns in 44 games. He should start the season off in AA and if he can post numbers like that again this season, maybe the Giants have something for the future, for now though, we can only hope.

Conor Gillaspie- how in the world did this guy make the major league roster last season. One word, contract. Gillaspie was drafted in the second round in 2008, yes, last season. Somehow, he fanagled a spot on the 25 man roster last September, without ever playing a minor league game. Out of college, he was argueably a top 15 draft pick and some had him higher, as well as possibly the best 3B in the draft...then draft day didn't go as planned and the Giants landed him in the second round. Now, he is the most widely recognized player as the heir apparent to third base someday, yet his major league service time has already started. At 21 now, he should hit hit free agency barring the Giants from locking him up around about 26 or 27 years old. He projects as a good defensive third baseman, yet offensively, he is supposed to be a Billy Mueller type...you all remember him right. Hit's for average, no power. Damn, no power. In his Arizona Fall League, Gillaspie had, well, no power. So, here is a guy where the countdown has begun,but realistically, he is not supposed to be that middle of the lineup, third baseman that every team invisions having. He is not David Wright, no Ryan Zimmerman, not Chipper Jones. It wouldn't be an issue if the Giants can manage to secure even the faintest bit of power by the time Gillaspie is ready, which, concievably could be by the beginning of next season if projections pan out. As for now, he may be our best bet but it is way to early to tell. With him, I find myself praying again, praying he develops the ability to hit the ball far...

Thats it. No more serious third base candidates in the Giants organization. So, this is why I think they should take a chance on Andy Marte...

Andy Marte- only 25 himself, once considered a super prospect of the Cleveland Indians. Obviously, he hasn't panned out. But at 25, he isn't washed up. Josh Hamiltion took a while, given under very different circumstances. But still, why not. The guy has some power, yet isn't hitting for much average. .250-.260 BA in AAA. Not threatening.Maybe he needs a change. Maybe new coaches, or a new atmosphere. Who knows, but he would be cheap, a minor league deal and spring invite. If he doesn'tmake the team, he probably slips through the system and stays in Fresno. Maybe he succeeds there and can come up later. At the most, he is going to cost the Giants a minor leaguer in a trade, and not one we are worried about making a difference here at anytime. Maybe Brian Bocock for his 40 man roster spot. I don't know, but what I do know is this. We have a lot of words like maybe, praying, and hope here. None of them mean definate, none of them are comforting. But the more wehave, the better chance we have one pans out.

What good does it do us if Pablo can't play third, Jesus is no more than a AAA star, Conor takes 3 more minor league seasons, Ryan stalls out at AA, Richie gets hurt, and we are staring down the gun barrel of 200+ strikeouts by Juan...oh Juan...does anyone else think Sabean thought he signed the late great Jose Uribe when we inked Juan...sorry, different soapbox, back on topic...

What good does it do us when, or if, that happens and Andy Marte is thriving in say, anyone of the other 29 teams systems or worse yet, on their big club.

Now, Andy could just as easily be just another prospect who missed with the Giants too, but, wouldn't it be better to have one more option?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Giants sign Ramon Ortiz

Not to be confused with Russ Ortiz, the Giants have inked yet another veteran with quality big league experience to a minor league deal, Ramon Ortiz.

Most Giants fans probably remember Ortiz as that damned Angels pitcher who won Game 3 of the 2002 world series. All will be forgiven if he leads the Giants to a world series title this year...

OK, but really, what to expect from him. He pitched in Japan last year after bouncing between the Reds, Nats, Twins, and Rockies from 2005-2007 as a #5 to spot starter and long relief. He hasn't been good in a while; as a matter of fact, his numbers over that time period resembles Kevin Correia.

Ortiz spent the first 6 seasons of his career with the Angels and had early success. From 2001-2003, he went 44-33 with an ERA near 4, almost 2/1 K/BB, and Whip in the 1.3 range. Not bad but that was a while ago.

Ortiz is a long shot to make any roster this spring, but the Giants is pretty much the worst for him. I can't imagine he has visions of starting here so maybe as the long reliever and spot starter. Chances are he pitches in Fresno and gets a few mid season call ups. Competition there is between Pat Misch and...well Pat Misch. Unless the Giants decide to use one of Kevin Pucetas options for a mid season 10-15 days. Only time will tell but this is a good move. Worst that could happen is he sucks this spring and goes away.

Giants bring back Aurilia

The Giants have signed Richie Aurilia to a minor league deal with a spring invite today. I he makes the team, Aurilia gets $1 million. Ken Rosenthal broke the story and Henry Schulman confirmed it.

This is an excellent deal for the Giants. I have to admit, GM Brian Sabean is doing a good job this offseason, even if he is delaying the youth movement some. It's hard to argue against a minor league deal to a proven veteran, even though I did here. Even with my argument, I'm not exactly right to be upset. There is the definate chance Uribe, or Aurilia doesn't make the team.

What Sabean has done this offseason is set up some significant healthy competition this spring, with a great mixture of young home-grown talent and successful veterans. Last season, Aurilia signed a guarenteed deal, but had thesame opportunity. He was told at the time that he was viewed as a leaderoff the bench and was going to be used in spot starts and against lefty's. When camp broke, he was the starting first baseman. This was due in part to injuries and his play. He was told the same thing with this deal.

Richie had multiple similar offers on the table and had turned down a major league deal early on this offseason with Houston, so his reasons for being back must be more genuine than just money. One quote I read that is especially enlightening is this:

"I'm a Giant," he said. "I'm proud to have San Francisco across my chest. I want to retire a Giant, whether it's this year or the year after. I heard a little about (managing general partner) Bill Neukom talking about the 'Giants' Way.' Well, I'm the last Giant who was part of the teams that won all those years. I know something about the Giants' Way."

One last item, Aurilia can get out of his deal before the end of spring training if the Giants bring someone in that he's not happy with. Someone most likely meaning Joe Crede, who would basically steal most of his playing time or at least his roster spot come the end of camp.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

News and Rumblings from Fan Fest

Staring down the barrel of the beginning of another San Francisco Giants season, it was time to roll out the red carpet for the fans today. The annual Fan Fest went off without a hitch today and there were many tidbits to note dropped as well. In the winter of many moves, it's not surprising that a few more could be just hours away. Also, all of the newest players were in attendance as well as a few with high hopes. Here's what we learned:

-For Starters, Fan Fest is a great, fan friendly, family oriented environment. It was also cheap! Free Parking, Free Admission. You can't beat it.

-Brian Sabean reitterated the daily dose of Manny, saying they are still interested, they have been actiely talking with his agent, and it would have to be a perfect fit financially. 'he's not the silver bullet" and he has liabilities. All while laying out why the giants are probably out, club officials are open to a three year deal... huh??? So, it sounds like nothings changed.

-Speaking of Manny, at the same time, Sabean stated the Giants are OUT on Dunn and Abreu.

-The Giants are currently speaking with members from other teams about trades, but nothing seems to be different in asking prices. The Giants aren't as opposed to contract year players as once thought but the price remains drastically high. On that note,Brian Sabean stated the most likely scenario is the Giants waiting until the post all star trade deadline to make significant moves.

-The Giants reportedly have an offer out to Richie Aurilia for a minor league deal with spring training invite. Richie is "mulling it over" and very much wants to return.

-The Giants also apparently have an offer out to Joe Crede. It's unclear as to what the terms are. He is friends with Aaron Rowand and when asked about Crede today, Rowand had a big smile appear without comment. Stay tuned because I'm certain we will hear more about this in the morning. (I hope the Twins step up quick as I think this would be a baaad decision.

-Randy Johnson was a huge hit. He made Matt Cain look like a midget. Said all the right things, really seems to mesh well with the club. He said he's looking forward to working with guys like Lincecum, Cain, and especially Sanchez. Those damn lefty's sure like to stick together.

We'll cover a few more tomorrow but as I'm still sick, walked to much today for that case, and have to work in the morning, i'm going to bed.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Wil he/Won't he, Manny Ramirez, part 63

In the ongoing saga of "Where will he play?", it seems that the choice is down to two teams...

Wait, it's always been two teams...
Well, not really, the Giants have always been on the outside looking in, waiting. So really it's been the Dodgers against the Dodgers...
Yeah, but the Giants have always maintained that if everything worked out perfectly, they WOULD be in...

Well, maybe now,it really is down to two teams, or one for that matter. He could be the Giants for the taking.

What am I talking about you ask? As we all know, originally the Dodgers offered Manny a 2/45 deal with an option, Scott Boras never acknowledged it. Then, the Dodgers offered Manny arbitration, which considering last season he made $20 million, the least he could have received in Arbitration this off season would have been $16 million, again Boras didn't acknowledge the offer. Then, last night, the Dodgers offered Manny a 1/25 deal with a 48 hour window. This time, in less then 2 hours, Scott Boras said NO.

So where do we stand now? The Dodgers still have plenty of money to spend and the Giants not so much, yet the Dodgers still have holes to fill and the Giants not so much. At some point the Dodgers are going to have to go with plan B before all other options are gone. If the Dodgers wait until after Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn sign, after Orlando Hudson and Orlando Cabrera sign, the only options to fill their needs is either a trade, where they would be trading from a disadvantage, or signing Manny, where he would now be in a position of power. Neither work well for them. So the Dodgers are forced to make a tough decision, Pay Manny a lot more, or let him go, to possibly the Giants. As owner Frank McCourt stated today, it appears the Dodgers may be looking into Plan B.

So what should the Giants do now? It's a tough spot, yet I think they are doing the right thing. Standing on the sidelines with open arms, letting them know from the beginning, that if they want to deal a different way, the Giants are here to listen, might just pay off. So Manny didn't want $25 million, who would? So he didn't want 3 years and about $66 million, you wouldn't either. Nope, what you would ant is this...

If the Giants come at them with a 2 year deal it has to have a high total dollar value. What I think they want is $50 million guaranteed. The Giants most likely cannot do that, even in a good economy, so they need flexibility. They also need to make sure Manny stays happy, because there is no point going all in on him if he just goes all Boston Red Sox on you. So how do you find the happy medium? Don't forget Manny opted out of 2 years $40 million to become a free agent. It may not matter to you, but it does to him and if you want him, you have to realize that.

Well, the Giants are banking on Manny being the final piece to making a playoff push this season, so they have to assume he would also boost attendance, food and beer sales, etc...he would raise REVENUE. So, if that is the case, they would also have to assume that they could pay more money to Manny in that situation. So he would need a back loaded incentive laden deal, yet still guarentee enough money that Manny plays happy. Manny wants $5o million, give it to him.

Lets say:
2009- 19 million guarenteed, 2 million- 500 AB's. 1 million for 20 HR and 1 million for every 5 HR over 20. 1 million for reaching playoffs, another million for reaching world series.
2010- 19 million guarenteed, 2 million- 500 AB's. 1 million for 20 HR and 1 million for every 5 HR over 20. 1 million for reaching playoffs, another million for reaching world series.
Throw in another 1 million for MVP and 500K for WS MVP and you have a contract.

Total value, if Manny hit's his career average of 41 HR in 162 Game season, gets 500 AB both seasons, the Giants reach the World Series both years, and he wins all 4 MVP awards, that's 2 years and 59 million. Considering the revenue stream, that wouldn't be such a hit.

Now, I'm not advocating the Giants sign Manny at any cost, but a 2 year deal makes Giant sense. It's hard to argue against it, other than what to do with the other 5 outfielders? But that will work itself out. A 2 year deal would not hamper other moves for the future, nor would it cause the Giants concern over paying Tim Lincecum when he's ready for a long term deal.

So should the Giants pull the trigger? What kind of chain reactions would it set off? As much as I don't want him, I think the Giants would then sign Joe Crede...and hope...and pray...and pray some more, that his back holds together. Other possibilities are a Dave Roberts buyout, although I think that's a forgone conclusion no matter what happens, possible, but not probible Randy Winn trade, even less likely Aaron Rowand trade (although I like a Nick Swisher for Aaron Rowand deal). No, most likely Fred Lewis or Nate Schierholtz would be the odd man out in a trade, which bars the question...Is there anyway to keep them both? "Can Linden play First?" Sorry, I meant "Can Ortmeier play first?" What the...I meant Schierholtz...you know, for an offseason full of "change", lately, I really feel like I've been in a Fucking rerun of the Twilight Zone...