Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Changes are a comin'

Lookout, things aren't going to stay the same for long. Problem is, there is not much room to tinker with the offense...but they are about to try...

After a miserable night at the plate today, in Coor's Field of all places, GM Brian Sabean must be grinding his teeth down to the nerves... After 1 Month... After 26 games... After a 13-13 record which the starting pitching has kept them in 22 games...After watching the offense produce one of the two worst starts to the year...Sabean is ready to make a move and tonight may just have been the final straw.

For a refresher, the Giants rank last in the NL in HR's, SLG, BB, RBI, Runs, 2nd to last in OBP, Hits, & fourth to last in BA, 2B. Actually, the only thing they have succeeded in is SB's & 3B...So what is the next move then?

First off, you can all but rule out a trade right now. It's too early. Teams usually wait until after the owners meeting at the end of May, and really early mid season trades go down in June. So for a team in dire need now, might have to give up more than want to this early. That means they will have to fill from within.

Options within are limited, as the most major league ready hitters usually make the team out of spring. Fortunately for the Giants, 2 guys are heating up in Fresno at the right time. John Bowker & Jesus Guzman. But who do they replace?

The obvious answer isn't so easy to come by.

Aaron Rowand, Randy Winn, Bengie Molina, & Edgar Renteria all may be trade candidates later on this season, but are firmly locked in for now.

Pablo Sandoval isn't going anywhere for a long time as he is part of the answer, not the problem.

Fred Lewis, while slumping, is here to stay. He may lose playing time, but not his job. He showed last year his hitting ability and they know it'll come back.

The pitching staff is currently at 12 with Sergio Romo due back soon. For the Giants to drop one pitcher for extra hitting on the bench, they'd actually have to give up two to get there. As Wilson, Howry, Affeldt, & Romo are locks, Miller & Medders have been about the most consistent pitchers, and Valdez is out of options, Matos is the only logical player to get sent down. So that leaves 7 ball players to choose from...

Manny Burriss, for all the flak he's taken for his slow hitting start, needs to play. He's shown great maturity and significant improvement in his decision making process as a second baseman. His defense is already in the top half in the league and as the everyday second baseman, he has the ability to be great. That's a far cry from what I was saying going into spring, and while I still think he could be the SS of the future, I don't think they can move him from second. As for his hitting, he has been the hottest Giant hitter over the last 7 games, he is 9-20, 2B, 2 R, RBI, 3 BB, HBP, 3 SB. That is .450 BA, .542 OBP, .500 SLG. Not bad, hard to ignore. Even more prevalent is the fact that both AAA second baseman, Matt Downs & Kevin Frandsen aren't running away from the league with their hitting and would both be a defensive downgrade. (That doesn't mean Franny shouldn't be here though). Actually, I think Manny is shaping up to be their best option at leadoff.

Juan Uribe & Richie Aurilia are both loved by Bochy and Sabean, as well as are highly regarded for their veteran presence. They have faith in Aurilia that is well deserved, especially since he's swinging the bat as well as anyone right now. They have faith in Uribe that...well, ummm...I actually have no idea why they have faith in him. He hasn't hit yet, not at all. He gets his due because he can play SS, but I don't see it. (actually, for my money, I get rid of him and bring up Kevin Frandsen and let him split B/U SS with Burriss, but this is not what they will do.) Uribe is safe for now, and probably will be through June.

Andres Torres is hurt and safe.He played his way onto the team and has shown no reason why they should second guess their decision.

Nate Schierholtz...Nate Schierholtz...Nate Schierholtz...what can I say you don't already ask for. He's about to get his chance. With Fred Lewis struggling, Nate is only a few days away from some significant PT. Lewis has a great track record in CO, so expect him to play tomorrow. I bet you see Nate start all three games in LA. Schierholtz is out of options and would definitely get grabbed by someone else, so don't expect any changes there unless more PT is the change.

That leaves 2 players...Eugenio Velez & Travis Ishikawa. Velez still has an option, so expect to see him go first. As a 5th/6th OF, he is expendable. As 2B is his only decent IF position and an unwillingness to lose Uribe, he is covered there. Kevin Frandsen makes a logical defensive replacement, but we're talking offense, not that Franny can't produce that. Ishikawa is a much stickier situation. To dump him would mean to give up on him completely as he likely would not clear waivers. After 4 years invested in him, I'm not sure the Giants are there yet.

This makes it seem as Velez is the odd man out. in that case, the two hottest hitters in the minors are Bowker & Guzman. Guzman brings the highest offensive upside, yet hasn't taken a major league AB, nor is he on the 40 man roster, so Bowker makes more sense right now. Both can play 1B & OF. Bowker's experience might just win out for now...

In other words, expect to see John Bowker on the major league roster by the end of the Dodgers series, with Velez MIA. If you see a 40 man roster spot open up, this tells me the Giants are feeling the pressure and we'll see Guzman up. If not then, he'll probably be up before June anyway. Also, don't be shocked if Franny makes his way up within the next month if not sooner...

As for the offense, stay patient and pray...Pray that the Giants can stay close,long enough to get their offense clicking, because what we see is what we're going to get.


DProfessor said...

I see Guzman coming up over Bowker and given a chance to platoon with Ishikawa.

Ishikawa's gotten abused by opposition pitching. I think Ishikawa has until the end of May to pick up his act.

If he is put through the waiver wires and gets picked up (doubt it), he'll be on the other team's bench or in minors. He's not a bad player, just not a starter.

Jim Ellis said...

You could be right. From purely an offensive production standpoint, Guzman should get the call. From an organizational standpoint, I see it being Bowker first...It depends on how Ishikawa is viewed within the Giants organization. If he is expendable, then by all means it's a non-issue, but if he still holds value...

Personally, after the improvement he has shown since the beginning of last season, I would like to retain him longer...If you had asked me this time last year, I thought he was never going to make it out of AAA.