Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Youth Movement Over after an unsuccessful 26 days...

Manny Burriss won the job today!!!!!!!!

Kevin Frandsen was cut today????????????????

WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Alright, so the Giants (namely Bruce Bochy & Brian Sabean) announced a few roster moves today and allowed some insight into their thinking as to the final roster shape... ... ...and in my wildest dreams, I didn't think this was possible. I thought...I mean I bought into...what i'm trying to say...


OK, i'll try to calm down a little and back up...

Kevin Frandsen & Jesus Guzman got their pink slip today, that is both are heading to AAA Fresno. Brandon Medders & Justin Miller were told today, thanks for your hard work, but even though we are likely to keep 12 pitchers instead of 11, you both aren't likely to be one of them...

Sooooo, the team's best hitter (Guzman-.412/.444/.922/1.366, 9 2B, 5 HR, 11 R, 15 RBI) didn't do well enough to make the team. Fan favorite and hardest competitor, who only suffered last year because of injury, hasn't been a minor leaguer since mid 2006 (Frandsen- .274/.333/.384/.717, 5 2B, 1 HR, 11 R, 6 RBI, incredibly solid defense with only 1 error) wasn't enough to stick as a backup, considering he can play all infield positions, and the outfield. (Hell, I bet he can catch too). So, if you have a minor league option and aren't starting, you can't stay up here huh?

How about pitching better than every other reliever in camp not named Brian Wilson? Does 12.3 innings, a 1.46 ERA, 3-1 record with 1 save, 2.5/1 K/BB ratio, 1.05 Whip, & 7.30 K/9 sound like a good enough spring to make the staff??? Not for Medders, he should have been better...Bam, go to Fresno...

No, Medders wasn't nearly good enough for you??? Well, how does this sound? In 7 games... 9 innings, give up 4 hits, NO BB's to 5 K's, 0.00 ERA... just in case you missed it, a 0.00 ERA, 0.44 Whip, & .129 OBA. Not that it's perfect or anything, I mean, I'm sure he could have thrown a few less pitches along the way. No, I think the Giants must have had better options since this wasn't good enough to get Miller into the rotation.

So, the Giants must have one hell of a team to pass on these young guys who fit perfect into A) the biggest offensive need. B) A Young and Strong clubhouse leader to lead the Giants through this Youth movement. C) Flexible movement from the bench. D) An Improved bullpen E) AN IMPROVED BULLPEN

Wait, I was just running down the list of what's left in camp and I'm a bit confused. Uribe & Aurilia are both going to make the team? What do we need two veteran utility IF's for? Velez & Torres are both going to make the team? What do we need two speedy type, pinch runner, 5th OF types? For that matter, what do we need 6 OF's for? When was the last time a team carried 6 OF's? None of this makes sense...

Obviously, right now, the Giants team should look like this: Lincecum, Johnson, Cain, Zito, Sanchez...Wilson, Howry, Affeldt, Miller, Medders, Valdez, Perdomo... Rowand, Lewis, Winn, Ishikawa, Burriss, Renteria, Sandoval, Molina... Frandsen, Torres, Guzman, Schierholtz, Holm...

But balancing roster spots is tough business. Still, it's hard to imagine that 5 of these players aren't going to be there. How does this happen? It's called Brian Sabean... After an offseason full of what I thought were good moves to put the Giants in the best possible position this spring, he then reverts back to his old self at the moment of truth. Where is the Youth Movement now?

It's not as if the youth hasn't done EVERYTHING asked of it this spring, or last season as well for that matter. Sabean still decides to go with the veteran presence. Bochy too!!! Uribe or Aurilia I could see, both played well...but both of them? NO WAY. One is on the downside of his career and the other's upside ended 4 years ago, at 26 years old.

I can only see starting off the year this way under the pretense of inevitable trades...but how likely is that. The FA market was flooded today with IF & OF alike. With guys like Sheffield, Jenkins, McPherson, Lamb, & Pena all available, many teams are going to be a little less likely to be dealt. Given the fact that many Giants had great springs, the likelihood is still there for a trade, but I wouldn't hold out hope. Velez, Uribe, & Aurilia all are probably on the block.

As for the others, it is true that everyday playing time is good for them, especially Guzman learning a new position, but there is something to be said for earning a job even if it is on the bench...

...As for the off season, how's that working out now? Renteria is hitting shitty...and blocking Frandsen....

Sunday, March 29, 2009

More Spring Cuts...and a couple of callups???

...And then there were 32...

With 3 games left in the Cactus league season, the Giants are having to make some tough decisions. Today they trimmed the roster down so that there are only 7 excess players in camp. A few positions are still up for grabs and wide open.

Buster Posey, John Bowker, & Osiris Matos were reassigned to minor league camp. While expected all along, it's still sad to see Posey go. He has been such a refreshing reminder of what is to come and outperformed everyone's expectation except maybe his own. Posey will head to Single A San Jose where he will work with a pitching staff full of exceptional talent including Madison Bumgarner & Tim Alderson. I find it hard to imagine that the Giants won't accelerate Posey this year. One indication the Giants are thinking about him as next years everyday catcher would be a promotion to AA Connecticut where he can learn under the tutelage of ex-catcher and current manager, Steve Decker.

Bowker more or less was caught in a numbers game as somany young players are excelling this spring, he needed to tear the cover off the ball to make opening day...He didn't... He still has been showing his power upside, but needs to work on his overall approach to hitting before making the jump for good. He should end up in AAA and have a chance to play everyday. Look for a midseason call up or two if there are a few injuries in the outfield or to Ishikawa.

Matos showed a lot of promise but was outperformed by a few not on the 40 man roster who deserve to make the staff, as well as the act the Giants only plan to carry 6 relievers. Matos should pitch in AA to start the season, but could find himself in AAA. Expect him to be the first right handed short reliever called up once someone inevitably gets hurt. Also, if the 11 man staff falters early, he could be the 12th man.

Another interesting move was the recalling of both Keiichi Yabu & Ramon Ortiz to compete for the long reliever spot out of the pen. Both had been horrible earlier this spring and were sent to minor league camp to work on their skills. Both had been pitching fairly well since the demotion so this call up may be in part on merit. I don't see either as a good option at this point nor do I think the Giants are actually intending on using them, but a second look never hurt anyone.

More over, this shows the Giants are probably failing in their attempts to acquire the long reliever the are after (for their price) via trade and are trying to show they have other options. They are also probably trying to push Justin Miller & Brandon Medders just a little more to see if they can muster another inning of stamina.

Expect one of two things in the next few days: A trade, or the announcement of a 7 man rotation to open the season. Ideally, the Giants would trade a few players for a quality long reliever & a minor leaguer or two. Look for Luis Perdomo, Merkin Valdez, Justin Miller, Brandon Medders, maybe Billy Sadler or Pat Misch, Eugenio Velez, & Juan Uribe to be a potential trading piece. Ideally the first four all make the team, but it is not likely unless they expand.

A 7 man bullpen makes sense to start out as it gives the starters a few extra weeks to build stamina and the team more time to find a trade partner. By late April, I fully expect to see a 6 man rotation. For now, it's hard to select who doesn't deserve to be part of the 6 out of this: Brian Wilson, Jeremy Affeldt, Bobby Howry, Merkin Valdez, Brandon Medders, Justin Miller, Sergio Romo, Alex Hinshaw, Luis Perdomo... and don't rule out Will Ohman in the next few days...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Trade for a Trade

The Giants have traded...

...A left handed reliever for a backup catcher...For a minor league pitcher...

Not exactly the eye popping news story most fans have been clamoring to hear this off season. Pretty certain most fans first...second...third...and fourth thoughts were hoping around hope that the Giants brought in a bat. Someone, anyone who might give us just a sliver of more hope for offense heading into the season, because really, that is all we really need. Still, I think this is a decent deal for the Giants.

Jack Taschner's days have been numbered ever since Jeremy Affeldt signed this off season. Even before that, the emergence of Alex Hinshaw last season allowed rumors to surface of his departure. Taschner's late season performance, combined with his fairly awful spring, made me wonder what he could fetch in return. He has shown enough promise in the past to make me think he has the ability to be a setup man, 7th inning, maybe 8th, but certainly a lefty specialist. His wildness...not so much. If you had asked this time last spring what he could fetch, I'm betting it was about a backup catcher and a low to mid level minor leaguer, so all in all this ain't bad.

Ronny Paulino, acquired from the Phillies for Taschner, is a solid backup catcher. A career .278 hitter with Pittsburgh, last year saw him struggle at the plate as a backup and dealing with a nagging ankle injury. As the starter the two previous seasons he was solid. While the Giants didn't exactly have a screaming need for an improvement at backup catcher, never the less he would have been one. The current backup, Steve Holm, performed very well in that roll last season, but had made the jump a few levels to get there, and only has most of last year under his belt in the big show. Paulino, at the very least, would have given the Giants a bit more experience as well as more proven hitting. One thing Holm brings that no one else not named Jason Kendell is, Barry Zito's trust. For some reason, Zito preferred Holm to Molina last fall and once the transition to his personal catcher was made, Zito pitched terrific...If for no other reason, that is reason enough to keep Holm around about 5 more years.

About an hour after completing the Taschner for Paulino trade, the Giants turned around and flipped Paulino to Florida for Hector (not Kevin) Correa. According to Chris Haft, at MLB.com, Correa was "the #3 prospect in the N.Y./Penn league in '07, earning allstar honors with the short-season Class A Jamestown club, going 6-2 with a 3.22 ERA in 11 starts". According to Baseball-Reference.com, Correa just turned 21 and has only pitched in the minors since 2006. It looks like a very short sampling in '06 in Rookie ball, then a full '07, followed by a very short '08 where he only pitched to 63 batters over 12 2/3 innings. In a google search, it appears he had shoulder problems last year forcing him out. Still, he was widely considered one of the Marlins top Prospects so if he bounces back from the injuries, the Giants could have made one hell of a deal. If he never pans out, they still don't come out looking too bad. Taschner was the third lefty in the depth chart, so he wouldn't have provided much in useful situations this year. Good Move.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The 40 man roster dilema

Really, if you look at the 25 man roster, the way things are shaping up, to field the best team possible it should look like this. Winn, Rowand, Lewis, Ishikawa, Burriss, Renteria, Sandoval, Molina as the starters, and Holm, Frandsen, Schierholtz, Torres, Guzman, Aurilia as the reserves. The problem here is 3 people get bumped from the 40 man roster. Given Velez and Aurilia can be interchangeable but the veteran leadership gives him the nod, especially since Torres can be the pinch runner extraordinaire. Combine that with the two relievers Justin Miller and Brandon Medders who should make the team, and the Giants have a huge, 5 person problem, with the 40 man roster. Usually teams can find a player or two out of spring who are injured to use on non-roster invitees for a while, but I can't recall 5 before. The only way around this is to either expose a player to other teams or make a trade. This is where all these recent trade rumors are coming from.

The front office must really be scrambling right now, trying to find trade partners. Jack Taschner's name has been floated out there, as well as Eugenio Velez, Luis Perdomo and Merkin Valdez. I understand Taschner, as even though he has struggled this spring had trouble since last spring since being called up, he still has trade value. Velez makes sense considering the spring he has put together as well as how he finished last season. Velez still has youth on his side and can play infield and outfield. Perdomo & Valdez, not so much. Good young arms are what the Giants need for the bullpen and both will be used this year. The problem with Perdomo is the rule 5 draft status. He shouldn't make the squad out of camp, so technically he needs to be offered back to the Cardinals. However, he has showed enough this spring to warrant the opportunity for a mid season call up so I see no reason why the Giants won't try to work out a way to keep him.. That would assume the Cardinals to agree to some sort of arrangement, which given the facct that his name has been mentioned in trade rumors make it likely the Cardinals are playing hard ball. Valdez, on the otherhand, should NOT be traded. He is what they need...he is what they are looking for, a hard throwing young right handed pitcher who gets guy out. With the injury history he has, combined with the promise he has already shown at the major league level, the Giants need to hold onto him and wait it out.

So then what are the options. Clearing 5 spots is tough. The Giants will be looking to stock the farm system with some mid range talent that ideally could be called upon mid season. Taschner, & Velez would clear two spots. I can see them dangling Aurilia & Uribe to see what they can get, & keeping the other one. Although this still doesn't help the 40 man roster dilemma, it could still bring in a decent minor leaguer. Other's I expect them to shop, Pat Misch, Waldis Joaquin, and Brian Bocock, but none of them are likely to bring much back, or find a trade partner at this point. A team like San Diego, financially in ruins and in dire need of pitching, may give us a bag of balls and a few In & Out burgers for Misch. A team like the Blue Jays, who are short on SS's, may want try to grab Bocock, but if they offer cash in Canadian dollars, were in trouble because I'm not sure Sabean knows the exchange rate.

Yesterday's news on minor league pitcher Kelvin Pichardo and his suspension for PED's couldn't have come at a better time. Now the Giants have 50 games to learn what they need to about one of these guys.

Noah Lowry should end up on another 60 day injury list, so there is another spot.

As of this morning, the Giants are at 37 players on the 40 man roster, so they are looking good. I expect a few minor trades are coming, but nothing exciting most likely. In addition to above, I expect them to acquire a long reliever, probably some teams 5th starter who have a number of minor leaguers pushing the major league roster. The Marlins fit this bill and Sabean likes to deal with them. Tampa too.

One interesting team is Detroit. They have both Nate Robertson & Dontrelle Willis looking like relievers opening day, and they need a lefty in the pen. Given, both of those two are lefties and have large contracts, but if they take on enough money,one of them could possibly fit here.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The World, Up-side-down

I'm sure you've noticed this spring the impressive hitting being displayed by the Giants Youngsters. I'm also just as sure you've noticed the slumping hitting show the Vets are putting on. But have you noticed the trend...

Here is the Offense, from a Major league service time point of view:

-Richie Aurilia, 13.027
-Edgar Renteria, 12.143
-Randy Winn, 10
-Bengie Molina, 9.077
-Juan Uribe, 7.089
-Aaron Rowand, 7.065
-Kevin Frandsen, 2.083
-Fred Lewis, 1.129
-Eugenio Velez, .162
-Emmanuel Burriss, .162
-John Bowker, .151
-Nate Schierholtz, .078
-Travis Ishikawa, .065
-Ryan Rohlinger, .047
-Pablo Sandoval, .047
-Buster Posey, 0
-Andres Torres, 0
-Jesus Guzman, 0

Now take a look at the team leaders overall offensively:

-Jesus Guzman, .404/.440/.872/1.276, 8 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 10 R, 14 RBI
-Andres Torres, .455/.510/.636/1.146, 1 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 15 R, 5 RBI, 4 SB
-Buster Posey, .421/.435/.789/1.224, (19 AB) 1 2B, 2 HR, 6 R, 7 RBI,
-Pablo Sandoval, .417/.440/.625/1.065, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 5 R, 7 RBI
-Travis Ishikawa, .327/.351/.655/1.006, 3 2B, 5 HR, 9 R, 10 RBI
-Fred Lewis, .341/.400/.659/1.059, 4 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 10 R, 7 RBI, 3 SB
-Ryan Rohlinger, .269/.269/.808/1.077, (26 AB) 2 2B, 4 HR, 9 R, 11 RBI
-Emmanuel Burriss, .404/.458/.463/.922, 3 2B, 11 R, 6 RBI, 2 SB
-Nate Schierholtz, .316/.409/.526/.935, (19 AB), 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI
-Eugenio Velez, .327/.352/.519/.871, 3 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 12 R, 9 RBI, 5 SB
-Richie Aurilia, .344/.475/.500/.975, 2 2B, 1 HR, 7 R, 3 RBI
-Kevin Frandsen, .333/.397/.474/.871, 5 2B, 1 HR, 10 R, 5 RBI, 1 SB
-Juan Uribe, .283/.283/.435/.718, 4 2B, 1 HR, 6 R, 9 RBI, 1 SB
-Bengie Molina, .283/.298/.413/.711, 3 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 11 RBI
-Aaron Rowand, .229/.260/.438/.698, 4 2B, 1 HR, 6 R, 9 RBI, 1 SB
-John Bowker, .226/.317/.377/.694, 2 2B, 2 HR, 9 R, 10 RBI
-Edgar Renteria, .235/.250/.333/.583, 5 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI
-Randy Winn, .240/.250/.320/.570, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 R, 6 RBI

As you can see, the inverse of the order almost holds true to everyone. As a matter of fact, Bowker is about the only significant displacement. What does all of it mean... Well, maybe absolutely nothing, but what is the fun in that. Actually, it could be a sign of good things to come... or maybe a sign of the bad...

Who likes a Pessimist? Yeah, I know, but it would be an injustice to not recognize other possibilities. The Bad... With all of the regulars hitting so crappy this spring, one could justify the nation wide argument that the Giants just can't hit, and the vets are showing their true colors early, getting up there in age, and have lost a step or two. The youngsters full of youth and exuberance, are only hitting well down in the warm desert air and once they get back to PacBell (I still have a problem with AT&T) Park, they will come crashing down. Along with that, the youth movement is too inexperienced to carry the hitting over all season...Yeah, but who likes a pessimist?

I think that this just means the Giants are in great shape. I don't worry too much when I see gamers like Molina, Winn, and Rowand struggling. It's early. These guys will find their stroke soon enough, and Winn seems to be on a roll lately. Renteria was already a question mark coming into the season and what he is doing now is already an improvement on the combined SS numbers from last season. Really, it's the top have that get me excited.

5 of the top 8 hitters, Posey, Rohlinger, Guzman, Torres, & Burriss weren't even expected to make the team and the first 4 of them undoubtedly weren't even really considered. The plan with Burriss, to get him a season at SS in AAA has blown up and Guzman & Torres are causing a major 40 man roster dilemma, as well as a few of the middle relievers. Posey and Rohlinger both won't make the team anyways, but have probably opened a few more doors for Brian Sabean and company. The reality of this whole thing is if the Giants want to field the best team they can out of camp, they are going to have to make a few trades...and not necessarily to get better hitting.

Guzman has earned a job on the 25 man roster. He has the hottest, and possibly the best bat on the team. He has nothing left to prove down on the farm. The problem is,where does he fit, and how to create a spot on the 40 man. Torres has also earned a job...at least he would be the best fifth outfielder. He is much older, and at 31, really doesn't need the minors to show what he has. He just needs an opportunity. He has the same issues Guzman has, how to create a spot.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Don't get used to the Long Ball!"

A lot has transpired over the last week down in spring training...

A triple play... Zito pitched a good game...A homerun hitter who says he doesn't hit homeruns... a reliever was cut...then resigned... a minor league trade with major league implications (I silently scream WOOHOO to this one)...Zito pitched a good game... the search is on for a long reliever... the offense is producing exactly to the inverse of their MLB service credit...the WBC...well, we have Sanchez back now, are any Giants fans still watching?...Zito pitched a good game... Sandoval is tough...the Manny & Franny show is heating up...Buster is making a statement...So is Madison...Timmy Jr is not... and Who's at Short?

Oh yeah, did I mention... BARRY ZITO PITCHED A GOOD GAME!!!

Well, it seemed like a lot as I was sifting through all the info, maybe it is anyway. Let's take a look.

Ryan Rohlinger started what turned out to be a triple play today on a ball hit by Oakland's Bobby Crosby. Not that it has any significance on how good the defense may or may not be, but noteworthy never-the-less. A Triple play just shouts Baseball at it's most basic,most fundimental level, as it is one of the most rare of all plays.

Travis Ishikawa broke out of his mini slumpin a big way today with 2 homeruns and a single, bringing his spring total to 5 along with 10 RBI's. As Henry Shulman pointed out, Ishi had 27 total homeruns last year, but when interviewing him after todays game, Travis said he's not a homerun type hitter and for the fans to not get used to it. I have news for you Travis, too late! You may not want the pressure, but you can't take away the fact that you actually hit 27 homeruns last year...11 more than team leader Bengie Molina. Fans have gravitated towards Ishi because he represents hope and promise and youth. No one is expecting Ishi to take the league by storm,or even be the 3rd best hitter on the team for that matter, but we do get to hope. Along with a defense that the Giants won't have seen since JT Snow (not that he will be that good), but a 20+ homerun, .260 BA season given 500 AB's is not too much to expect...and it will be an improvement overall.

Keiichi Yabu was released Friday after already being optioned to AAA 2 weeks ago. Yabu posted pretty good numbers last season for being plucked from obscurity and teetering on elderly. Factoring in his age of 40, the apparent need for Long Relief due to wanting to keep 11 pitchers, and the question of what to do with Andres Torres and Jesus Guzman, presumably he was simply caught in a numbers game along the lines of the 40 man roster...

Keiichi Yabu was resigned today to a minor league deal and thought as a possibility to rejoin the 40man roster later this season if the 11 man thing fails or injuries add up. I smell a change is a comin at the major league level, and not the pitching...

Lefty just dropped a tidbit at the end of his latest post that a minor league trade with the White Sox just happened. Apparently the Giants will recieve SS Sergio Santos for future considerations. Andrew Baggerly thinks he will be the starting SS at AAA Fresno...because Manny Burriss looks like he will make the team... Oh Yeah... I want to see this happen. It's tough, because Manny has shown enough promise at Short to make me believe he can be the SS of the future and a season in Fresno might be perfect for him, yet I want the Giants to win and win now.How can you argue with his spring and performance on the big club last spring...More on this later...

Suddenly, all the Giants off season bullpen work doesn't look like enough. From a group including Brian Wilson, Jeremy Affedlt, Bobby Howry, Sergio Romo, Alex Hinshaw, Merkin Valdez, Jack Taschner, Keiichi Yabu, & Billy Sadler, along with Brandon Medders, Osiris Matos, Justin Miller, Luis Perdomo, & Ramon Ortiz, I thought surely the Giants would have a quality pen out of the gate, maybe top 5 in the NL. Suddenly they are shopping though. An injury to Valdez last year isn't healed... Romo is hurt and could be out longer than expected... Hinshaw is running through sophmore struggles... Howry looks old (well, he kind of is) even though he's been effective thus far... Taschner seems to think walks are a good thing... Yabu is gone, kind of... Sadler is showing his minor league stuff, I think he forgot which camp he is still in... Ortiz really was washed up 5 years ago... and Perdomo looks like a rule 5 draftee for a reason... Now, the last three (Matos, Miller, & Medders) have been nothing short of unstoppable, but that is against late inning spring training hitters and there is the continuing theme of 40 man roster spots. Still, an out is an out... Let's see, that leaves us with a closer and two setup men, a minor leaguer with 20.3 total big league innings of so-so pitching, and two non-roster invitees. What to do with the staff?

This must be the reason why the Giants have recently been linked to Will Ohman, who wants about $1.75 mil for this year, plus incentives. I don't see the problem with that, MAKE IT HAPPEN SABES! As well as the daily rumors regarding wanting a long reliever. Indeed they would need a inning eater/spot starter who can chew up 4-6 innings if needed. They have a few options in Pat (ughh) Misch or Joe Martinez, but both would be better suited starting in AAA. I can see a trade involving a few of the players mentioned like Eugenio Velez or Jack Taschner. There is not much left on the FA market and you're not gonna convince Pedro Martinez to be the 6th starter, so a trade should be in order. On second thought, if they can't find a good match now and go with Ughh or Martinez, they may have plenty of options in a month or two with potential blockbuster trade chips...again, more on that later.

Have you noticed how the offense is doing. Staggering to me is WHO is producing, not as much HOW. I'm going to write on this next in more detail, but for now... The best hitters on the team are the guys making the least money and off the 40 man roster, followed by the guys fighting to make the team, followed by the guys who should be on the team,followed by the guys who make the most and we couldn't rid ourselves of very easily or at all... What I mean is, a potential problem.

The WBC... Puerto Rico is out... The Giants are together again... Opening day is 17 days away... ... ... Oh yeah, Team USA is still in it. Horray... Sorry to them though, I'd trade a WBC title for a World Series title ANYDAY... Still, I have to admit, it's been fun to watch.Any Baseball is good baseball...Well,there was that one day my sophmore year of HS when we beat Grant HS 43-1 in 4 innings. That wasn't very good baseball. But I am a fan of the WBC,I just don't want it interfering with my Giants. And then there is rooting against team USA for a few innings the other night until the Puerto Rican coach pulled Sanchez and made me not feel like such a traitor anymore... But I just don't think it's right the way it is. Something has to change in it. Not sure what yet, but I'll let you know when I figure it out.

Pablo Sandoval got popped in the mouth by a hard smash to third. This just in, he's tough. Afterward, Sandoval said he liked the experience. Awesome, my kind of attitude. He may not be the most graceful 3B we've ever had, nor the best, but at least we won't be able to attribute any mistakes to being scared of the hot corner. I mean, he's a freakin catcher for shit's sake, he shouldn't be scared. Still, with that attitude, I can see him getting much better.

"What's on Second?" Seems like that is the question of the spring. The most competitive job on the club at first seemed to have implications of one would start in Frisco and the other in Fresno. Not so fast... Emmanuel Burriss & Kevin Frandsen have performed so well, they have their own show now... "Manny & Franny"... Really, the fact is they have both performed remarkably well this spring and have put Bruce Bochy and his staff in a tough spot. Right now, there is no favorite. It is in a good way at least. They have also created a problem for Brian Sabean. Baring a complete and utter collapse, both players have earned a spot on the big club, something the Giants undoubtedly didn't expect. The plan all winter once Renteria was signed, was to have Burriss start the season at Fresno, and try to be the Giants starter there next year... Well, that plan is out the window now. Now the real problem is which players are going to be expendable, considering outside of the two of them, Sandoval, Ishikawa, and Lewis, the best offensive players have been the non roster invitees, Guzman & Torres. Stay tuned.

A noteworthy observation unlikely to have an impact on the opening day roster, but could totally change the dynamic of the team come November, and quite possibly July. Buster Posey is tearing up spring training, both offensively and defensively.... Madison Bumgarner is virtually unhittable, but in a smaller sample size from Posey... Tim Alderson is NOT!!!

Posey is looking like he may be ready this year after all. He wont make the team, but he is hitting .421/.435/.789 in 19 AB's, and has displayed more power than anyone expected, hitting a ball 435'. His defense has been even more spectacular, saving a run on a difficult block and another on a running catch. What is significant here is a hot start to the minor league season would likely prompt the Giants to let Molina walk after the season instead of trying for a one year deal. I could see them also looking to deal Molina come the summer as Molina likes it here and at his age, physical prowess, and the current FA economy, he will likely be a Type A FA and except the Arb offer to stay...Bumgarner could do the same. No one expects another Lincecum type vaulting through the minors, but if he gets hot early, and one of the pitchers goes down, I see the Giants could possibly make Sanchez, or,god hlp me, Matt Cain available....Alderson just ooks like a guy not quite ready for the competition. He will be better served on the slow track for this year. He has great stuff, but is nervous and unconfident this spring. Just as a kid should be when facing these guys at his age.

Zito dropped an interesting statement when talking about the infield. "Who's at Short?" Some of the reporters have taken it as a potential jab at Renteria, or a sign that maybe he doesn't own the job. I think those are a little overblown and it's more of Zito being surprised that all the questioning was good spirited and non confrontational after his good outing, as well as most of the questions being directed towards second. He's probably so used to defending himself, he tried a joke and it sailed right over their heads...But it got me thinking. Maybe Renteria isn't as long for this team as we thought. He really is only signed for this season, as next year is a team option. Given the Manny & Franny show going on, is it possible Sabean is rethinking the decision to sign Renteria. I think it's entirely possible that the Giants entertain offers for him this summer as they watch the season unfold, and if Burriss continues his play, we could see a deal, regardless of the teams record...

On that note, It is entirely possible the Giants trade Molina, Renteria, an Randy Winn this season, and still stay competitive...Maybe we will actually see the farm bare it's fruit in '09 instead of '10.

And last but certainly not least...Barry Zito pitched a good game the other day... 6 IN, 6 H, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 ER. I'll take that EVERY DAY!!! Scouts sound confused as to whether the radar gun was reading 81-83 or 83-85 MPH. Either way, not real fast, but i'll take the faster one if I get to choose. I'll be the first to admit, I'm a fan of Zito. I want his to win so bad. I think he can bounce back. I like his attitude and determination. He's a good teammate and a hard worker. He hasn't lost his ability due to being lazy. But he still has that contract and has to live up to it. Sure, the Giants would be thrilled to have a 14 win season with him as a 4th starter, but that isn''t what they planned on. Zito needs to keep working and trying, and we need to stay on top of him. We'll folllow him closely throughout the season and keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How the Giants offense is better, Part 3

Now 15 games into the Cactus League schedule, the sampling size is much larger, but the competition still close. Ishikawa is leading the way a first, but Bowker's bat is heating up a little. Sandoval is doing what he did last year, but Guzman is showing why the Giants can't forget about him at third. With Roberts gone and a 5th OF spot now up for grabs, Velez is showing why he deserves to make the team, but some guy named Andres Torres is saying not so fast...and then there is Second Base. Burriss and Frandsen are locked in a dead heat to win the job. Everyday it seems, one moves in front of the other, and then back. They have both been playing so well on both sides of the ball, it is surely going to come down to the last day of camp.

But besides the open jobs, the team seems to be hitting extremely well. All of those mentioned above are lighting up the spring, or at least hitting better than expected. Some of it is in garbage time, against pitchers who are the opponents equivalent of our Pat Misch, Ronnie Ray, Jessie English, or Kelvin Pichardo...versions of pitchers who either aren't good enough or just not ready to make a big league roster, and later in the games. But not as much of it is in garbage time as you might think.

Sure, the Giants do lead the majors in Homeruns...What?...huh...well, maybe it is more garbage time than I think. We do have guys tearing up the spring later in games such as Ryan Rohlinger, as Lefty pointed out here. But we also have guys hitting well early and those are the guys who count.

Here are the inning by inning scoring lines for the Giants:

Although the scoring is bottom heavy, specifically the 6th and 8th innings, it doesn't nescessarily mean it's only from garbage time. Teams often pitch starters only a few innings, 3-4, this early, but they also occasionally pitch a second starter following the first for another 3-4 innings, such as the case when the Dodgers started kershaw and followed him up with McDonald. Regularily teams pitch closers and setup men in earlier innings, such as the 6th, 7th, or 8th to ensure they face tougher hitters early on.

So far, the opponents starters Giants have faced are Sowers, Wolf, Grienke, Silva, Bush, Davis, Ramirez, Kershaw, Cahill, Moseley, Morales, Eveland, Adenhardt, Parra, and Feldman. Combined, the starters have pitched:
41.1 35 19 16 8 17 3 3.49
This list comprises opponents relievers who are either the closer, setup men, a few starters coming out of relief, or relievers from the previous seasons bullpens who are expected to make the team. Chulk, Herges, Weaver, Stults, Broxton, Mota, Soria, Batista, Villenueva, Rouch, Peguaro, Davies, McDonald, Elbert, Mota, Oliver, Bulger, Speier, Hirsch, Simmons, Speier, Aguilar, Donnelly, Mendoza, and Register Combined, these relievers have pitched:
33.1 49 30 25 12 22 5 6.76

As you can see, the Giants are having some success early on against the starters, and significant success against the relievers. Compare the starters numbers to those of the Giants and consider Sanchez isn't included here, and you can see how much better the Giants look. Lincecum, Zito, Cain, and Johnson in 12 starts:
30.1 25 10 10 10 29 2 2.90

Of the 23 homeruns, obviously that is somewhat of an illusion as only 8 have come against teams top pitchers, but then again, no one is arguing the Giants are apowerful team. As for the rest, it is spring and it is early, but all this is marred when you compare the fact that the Giants big 3 hitters, Bengie Molina, Randy Winn, and Aaron Rowand are struggling mightly.

Returning Vets: Winn, Aurilia, Molina, Rowand-
Combined, they are: 20-99, 6 2B, 3 HR, 5 R, 11 RBI, 0SB, and a line of .202/.261/.354/.615

Returning Kids: Lewis, Burriss, Velez, Bowker & Holm-
Combined, they are: 38-132, 7 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 27 R, 17 RBI, 8-11 SB, and a line of .288/.338/.447/.785

New Additions- Frandsen, Ishikawa, Renteria, Uribe, Sandoval, & Schierholtz-
Combined, they are: 35-114, 5 2B, 6 HR, 14 R, 17 RBI, 0 SB, and a line of .307/.336/.509/.845

Fighting for a Roster Spot- Uribe, Rohlinger, Torres, Guzman, & Downs-
Combined, they are: 39-108, 12 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 22 R, 26 RBI, 2-3 SB, and a line of .361/.384/.722/1.106

These last 5 are impressive, but the majority of the AB's have come against the lesser talent. Still, Uribe and Guzman have been tearing everyone up and are making for strong consideration this year. Rohlinger is doing most of his damage in the 8th and 9th innings and Torres is making a case for himself. Stay tuned for more.

First Spring cuts

As we approach 1 month since pitchers and catchers reported in this World Baseball Classic extended version of spring training, we find teams have more time to evaluate the talent in camp. That is why I did a doubletake when I saw the names of the first five players reassigned yesterday... 1 in particular... Pat Misch, Ramon Ortiz, Todd Jennings, Ronnie Ray... and Josh Phelps...Can you guess which one surprised me?

I get the first four, I mean, eventually another 25+ will be sent packing and this early spring movement allows for more concntration on thoswho might actually help the team this year.

Pat Misch has been incredibly inconsistent over the last 3 seasons of call ups, nothing appears to have changed in the last month, and he's not exactly going to beat out Lincecum/Cain/Johnson/Sanchez/Zito so why keep him around. Ramon Ortiz is trying to make a comeback at the big league level, but he hasn't been effective against MLB hitters in 4 years and looked liked he was advertised over his first few spring outings...washed up...so lets give more innings to someone who can help the bullpen. Ronnie Ray was a long shot anyway and with the non-Roster Invitees of Medders, Miller, and Beltran pitching so brilliantly, Ray had no shot. Jennings is behind Molina, Holm, Posey, Sandoval, Whiteside, and Williams on the catchng depth chart so with the loss of 3 pitchers, someone had to go...Josh Phelps on the otherhand...

Josh Phelps just doesn't quite make complete sense to me. He was brought in as a non-roster invitee, so his shot was long to begin with. But with no first baseman, no real power in the lineup, and his experience, he seemed like a guy who would actually have a shot. Phelps has more raw power than anyone in camp. He has never shown the ability to hit consistent at the major league level, but if he ever figures things out, he could be like a slightly lesser version of Adam Dunn. More like Adam Dunn at the 30 home run level than the 40-45 homerun level. Still, that's 14 more homeruns than anyone had last year...thatis IF he figures things out too, not nescessarily a given either. So why is his spring done already? Why is he among the first cuts?

For starters, look at his Spring line... 4 games, 8 AB's...and that's all... Or as the famous Ausin Powers once said about the 80's, "a flock of seagulls and an oil shortage. That's all." Bruce Bochy said after the cuts were announced that Phelps has been battleing a nerve injury all spring and he most likely wouldn't be healthy until after spring ends. OK, i'll buy that. If he really is injured, he has no shot. Still, it's dissapointing in a way. I didn't want to just hand the job to Ishikawa or Bowker, but keep pressure on them all spring.

Then again, both Ishi and Bowker are doing a fine job competeing against themselves so maybe in another month, we'll forget all about Phelps and have a hard time recalling if he was in the 2009 camp or the 2008 camp.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dave Roberts sent packing

Yesterday, the Giants severed ties with Dave Roberts, creating a much needed roster spot and playing time for the likes of Nate Schierholtz and likely Eugenio Velez. More importantly, the Giants ate $6.5 million still owed to Roberts for 2009. Not that this frees up any more money for this season, but it definitely helps paint the picture for the future a little more clearly. Now the Giants will have all of 2009 to see what Schierholtz can do.

Roberts had signed a 3 year $18 million deal back in the winter of 2006, was do to come off the books after this year. Still, he didn't exactly fit into the get younger and better plans. I'd like to say I called this as i've been refering to his immenent dismisal all winter, but I think everyone else saw it coming as well. Roberts was overpaid from the beginning, but in this economy, was grossly overpaid. Give Lefty credit here, he predicted if Roberts were a free agent this offseason, he would be forced to retire. It may yet happen.

The bottom line is Dave Roberts is now gone and the Giants have the room to try out some talent. If at some point this season, they have the ability to add another player via trade, they now have a clearer path to a roster spot. After this season, The Giants will now know better whether or not Nate Schierholtz can slide into Randy Winn's RF spot, they need to resign Winn, or make a run at a Matt Holliday.

Giants Beat The Dodgers

Sorry about the delay, as many of you know, this happened a few days ago. Still, I feel obligated to tell you (only because I love to say this) that the Giants beat the Dodgers the other day. I know it is still only spring training, but a win is a win is a win when we are talking about the Dodgers.

We are so happy here at Nuschlers News to announce a Dodger beat down that we are going to provide a year long tally of it, so stay tuned for more of these same headlines. Hopefully the Giants can run the table on them and make it 20 more. Next up, April 1st in another exhibition...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Manny fallout...

Manny Ramirez signed the today with the Dodgers. A 2 year, $45 million deal. It is $25 million this year with an opt out, both years have deferred money. This is basically the same deal he had on the table in November and it is essentially $5 million more than he opted out of to become a F.A.. So in the end, he got more money, but no where near what they were shooting for. It also seems apparent that NO other teams ever became involved in the bidding process. Not even the Giants...

Unfortunately for the Giants, their fans did become involved in the bidding process and Manny signing elsewhere may have bigger repercussions than Bill Nuekom or Brian Sabean ever envisioned. Kinda like CC Sabathia, except this time only worse. You see, losing out on an ace lefty starter isn't too bad when you have the pitching staff the Giants have, but losing out on the best power hitter in the game when when the best you currently have is the equivelant of Dan Gladden as clean up or when your fans are used to seeing someone in the likes of a Barry Bonds back there, is potentially dangerous.

Already, when the ink isn't even dry in Los Angeles, fans are calling up local radio stations complaining how the Giants made a huge mistake or heads need to roll. I heard one guy switch his allegiance to the Athletics after this (go then I say). But the reality is, fans are mad. It's not just that Manny signed with the Dodgers, but the Giants didn't really even try... No offer was made... Heck, by the sounds of it in Henry Schulman's latest write up, the Giants didn't even want him. I understand the objective of trying to force the Dodgers to overspend and lock up more money, but someone forgot to tell the fans they were just kidding.

Just for the record, I didn't really want manny, but deep down I did...or was it, I really wanted Manny, but deep down I didn't...I think i'm flip-floping more than John Kerry in 2004 right now. Actually, I said this: I think the Giants should sign Manny to a short term, incentive laden deal, but not to over commit which is what will probably be needed. In the end, he got more than I thought the Giants should go to. Still, the damage has been done and the Giants front office has some repair work to do.

Fans thought they might get offense this off season, considering they've needed it for about 4 years now. Edgar Renteria just doesn't scream "the offense is fixed". As I'm trying to lay out here and here, I think the offense will be just fine, but that's not the perception the fans have. And if things don't go right early, the Giants will be hearing the fans Manny beef not only on the airwaves, but in the box office as well. You see, Manny undoubtably would have brought more fans to the seats, more beverages and food purchased, more merchandise collected...hell, maybe a new line of marketing dreadlocks... But what Manny also was to bring was a lot of the fans on the fence BACK. The Giants have had 4 consecutive losing seasons and never in the history of the franchise have they lost 5. Not even in New York. Some fans are debating how to spend their hard few earned dollars in this piss poor economy and most everyone has less disposable cash to part with. The Giants are facing the probability that many loyal and devoted fans simply cannot afford to come to the ball park this year and not having a Manny Ramirez in the lineup is one more reason to stay away.

Some hard desicions are going to have to be made this year by many people and certainly the Giants will have a few. Here's hoping they start the season off on the right foot and find away to make an improvement trade versus a trade to save money because no one will show at the park.

Monday, March 2, 2009

How the Giants offense is better, Part 2

After 6 games this spring, the Giants are showing some life offensively. You have to look hard to find it, but if you look just right, it's there. The 2-4 record is misleading, but then again, isn't all of spring training? The guys who have the most to gain, seem to be playing the hardest. Second base is wide open, and only because all three vying for it are playing superb. Ishikawa appears to be putting his stamp on first, and Pablo is holding his own at third. As a matter of fact, the only ones really struggling right now are the Returning Vets. There is a breakdown here on what I'm refering to in this...

Returning Vets- Rowand, Molina, Roberts, Aurilia, & Winn-
Combined, they are 7-43, 3 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 Runs, with a line of .162/.217/.302/.519
Given that Randy Winn is still ofer the season, this will improve. Also, the chance Dave Roberts makes the squad at all gets slimmer by the pitch, and even if he does, he will be useless, so his total AB's will probably be negated. Also to note, Rowand, Winn, and Molina are all very experienced and professional, and there isn't a single expert out there who expects them to have a worse year than last season so we can expect improvements overall here.

Returning Kids- Lewis, Burriss, Velez, Bowker, & Holm-
Combined, they are 14-55, 1 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 9 Runs, with a line of .254/.280/.382/.662
Still not an imposing line, but only Lewis here really ought to see significant opening month action. Velez is playing his way into a key reserve role, but not likely to be a starter. Burriss is hitting terrific and making it very difficult to send him down, though I still see that as the only place for him barring an injury. Bowker is struggling, and his 2-13 makes this line look so much worse. The important thing to take from here is Lewis appears to be playing healthy and relatively pain free. Give him a month to get his confidence back in the foot and he'll be on fire.

New Additions- Frandsen, Ishikawa, Renteria, Uribe, Sandoval, & Schierholtz-
Combined, they are 22-69, 6 2B, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 10 Runs, with a line of .319/.356/.580/.936
A very good looking line there. It is a very limited sampling, but still nice to see. Remeber, none of these players with the exception of Sandoval, had any significant role on this team last year, and he only played for 1.5 months. Last year, Fred Lewis led the team with an OBP of .791. Pablo but up .847 in 145 AB's, roughly 1/4 of a full season. These are the players to watch this spring, here is where we will see if the offense is drastically improved.
In this group consist of the starting 3B, SS, 2B, & 1B, as well as the fourth OF and a role player who could see significant time under Bruce Bochy. It's important to understand that there are no exceptions here. If Renteria can produce his career low numbers last year, it's still a better line by far than the combined Giants 2008 SS. Sandoval replaces Jose Castillo and Rich Aurilia, not that Richie can't hit, but Castillo was a butcher and took most of the PT. Frandsen looks like he finally gets his shot now that Durham is gone.
The bottom line is these players will see significant time on the field and all have the realistic potential to far out produce those they have succeeded.

How the Giants offense is better, Part 1

So, the first week of Spring games is virtually in the books and the Giants are 2-4. On the outside, it may not look great, maybe not even good...but I'm here to tell you otherwise. At the end of last season the Giants had a few major...well, through all of last season, the Giants had a few major needs to address.

This offseason, they attempted to and appear to have done a good job. The bullpen was lacking consistency as well as about 5 effective arms. They added Howry and Affedlt. They needed 1 solid innings eater for a fifth starter. They added Randy Johnson. They lacked middle infield depth, or all infield depth. They added Edgar Renteria. They needed a power hitter, or any power, or any middle of the order hitter, or any upgrade offensively...they added...well, they didn't address this one small issue...Or did they???

Last season, the Giants started the year with Aaron Rowand, Randy Winn, Dave Roberts, Jose Castillo, Omar Vizquel, Ray Durham, Rich Aurilia, & Bengie Molina as the opening day starters. By the end of the season, only Rowand, Winn, & Molina were everyday starters. Unseated by players from within the system, the Giants found multiple success stories and quite possibly some very useful players for the next 5+ seasons. The same goes for the bullpen as well.

Going into this spring, most baseball observers say the Giants didn't do anything to improve. I'm here to tell you maybe they didn't need to. For the purpose of this spring, I'm going to break the players into 3 categories: Returning Vets, Returning Kids, and New Additions. We'll take a look at how they are doing and compare them to Last years players they are replacing. Also, we'll only look at the most likely and projected lineups. If that changes as we go, we'll change as we go.

The Giants likely opening day lineup should be:
1-Randy Winn
2-Edgar Renteria
3-Fred Lewis
4-Bengie Molina
5-Pablo Sandoval
6-Travis Ishikawa
7-Aaron Rowand
8-Kevin Frandsen/Manny Burriss

the bench is likely to consist of: Juan Uribe, Eugenio Velez, Nate Schierholtz, Steve Holm, Dave Roberts/Richie Aurilia/John Bowker

My money tells me that unless Burriss is the greatest show in Scottsdale or Kevin Frandsen gets hurt, he is destined to go to Fresno as a SS. I love his game and want to see him in SF full time, but Uribe is the writing on the wall.

The Returning Vets consist of Randy Winn, Aaron Rowand, Bengi Molina, Dave Roberts, and Richie Aurilia.

The Returning Kids consist of Fred Lewis, Manny Burriss, Eugenio Velez, Steve Holm, and John Bowker

The New Additions consist of Juan Uribe, Nate Schierholtz, Kevin Frandsen, Travis Ishikawa, Edgar Renteria, & Pablo Sandoval.

New additions are based off not playing with the team for more than the late season call up last year. Pablo, only because his was over such a short span. Fred Lewis I consider a returning kid because he wasn't the given starter going into last season and has only 1 full season under his belt.

Check back in regulary as we'll keep a running total this spring based on these factors.