Monday, November 06, 2006

Pat the Bat, Handed on a Plate

The Merc had big news for Giants fans last Friday: Pat Burrell, maligned and unwanted hitter of the Phillies, whom the team has been trying to unload because of his contract since the summer, was reported by his agent to be not only be willing to waive his no-trade clause to be traded to the Giants, but would be willing to play 1B for the Giants as well, which was his position when he was coming up the Phillies farm system. He currently only had the Yankees and Red Sox on the OK to trade list but both teams apparently are full up with 1B/LF/DH that they were not interested at all in Pat the Bat (here's a nice biography of him, he's played baseball in a local SF Bay Area high school).

What more do the Giants need to know? Hopefully Sabean and gang are talking with the Phillies as we speak and working out the details of the trade. The Phillies really need to free up salary to enable them to get into the Alfonzo Soriano bidding and unless they want to be "stuck" with Burrell and his salary, they need to trade him post-haste so that they can make plans. In addition, with their surplus of OF that they currently have, they have an acceptable backup plan if Burrell is traded and Soriano is not signed.

And lucky for the Phillies, the Giants have plenty of payroll space. The talk has been of dumping Benitez to the Phils for Burrell, but that only frees up $5.4M of salary for the Phillies in 2007. In lieu of giving up additional good prospects to the Phils, the Giants could also send, say, $4.6M so that it frees $10M for the Phillies in 2007, with the Phillies returning the favor in 2008 back to the Giants to even out the money paid, but shifting the payroll from 2007 to 2008. And that works for the Giants too because the free agent crop right now is pretty sparse in talent, but the next offseason could see Vernon Wells, Andruw Jones, and others up for grab, so they could use additional money to bid on players in the next offseason, instead of spending it all in 2007 on multi-year contracts and not be able to bid on these superstars.

The Giants would probably still have to give up a minor prospect, but I would rather shift funds in the deal than have to give up any good prospects for him, though if pushed I would. In discussions on McCovey Chronicles, people have mentioned Linden, Anderson, among others as possible tradeable chips. I don't feel up enough on the farm system this season to speculate, other than I would try as heck to avoid giving up any of our top prospects. Linden I think should be given a chance to start with us at some point given the power he has shown. Anderson has been a great reliever in the minors, though some posters thought that trading him now would be at his highest value, as he's not a pitcher with a lot of stuff.

So with Pat Burrell handed on a golden plate like this, hopefully the Giants won't look the gift horse in the mouth too long and pick him up. The window of opportunity is open now but it will close fast once the Phillies don't need to unload salary as much as now, before the free agents can discuss salary with prospective bidders. It's the biggest nobrainer in the history of mankind. :^)

8 comments:

  1. Martin,

    Good post

    I like the shifting of cash idea, I hadn't thought of that and I would be a nice way to hold onto some of the farm system. I'd also like to hold onto Linden to see what he can do this year, he played well in the part-time role in '06. And I would like to see him get a shot to start.

    Heres to hoping Burrell makes his way to SF.

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  2. Yes, after the season Linden had in 2005, you have to see what he can do, though if it helps you get a star player then you have to consider it.

    I don't consider Burrell a star but if he's what the Phillies want in the deal, then I would probably grudging do it, but only if Benitez is part of the deal and no other prospects and no money shifting.

    They don't need our position prospects though, they have a number of OF prospects plus want to sign Soriano, so I would rather give up pitching, which we have a lot of.

    That's also the way I felt about Feliz, he hit pretty well that one year, we had to find out what he got. Unfortunately, his age was a lie and he's never really progressed, I'm ready to move on from him and get a pick for him.

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  3. Hello Martin. I asked this question on another blog, but have always enjoyed your isnight, research and, for the most part, patience. You and I are both fairly supportive of Sabean.
    So, giving Sabean the benefit of the doubt, why do you think he would try (assuming, based on recent sports reports, that he is) to resign Feliz. I am persuaded, I think, that Feliz is less than a replacement player, at the bottom of the list of 3bmen. I know there is no one in our system (and I wouldn't put Frandsen here) to play 3b, but why not get an Aurelia or Crede or even Ensberg, assuming they are all cheaper and will sign for fewer years?
    Secondly, Burrell is much more expensive than Hillenbrand. Assuming Hilly approximates his career numbers next year, why spend all the money on Burrell? Aren't they the same player (decent offense, below average defense)?

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  4. With Pat Burrell, you are talking about someone who has 30 HR power - 5 out of the past 6 full seasons, he has hit in a range of 24-37 HRs, whereas Hillenbrand is basically a 20 HR hitter, with a range of 18-21 HR in 4 of 6 full seasons. Burrell's 162 game average, per baseball-reference, is 31 HR, Hillenbrand's is 19.

    For their careers, Burrell has a .362 OBP (league was .341), .479 SLG (league was .434), and .841 OPS (league was .775), which is pretty good (OPS+ of 117), whereas Hillenbrand has a .325 OBP (sub-par and below average of .339), .449 SLG (average at .435), and .774 OPS (league average of .774 but OPS+ of 99). Burrell has had 3 seasons with a SLG above .500 while Hillenbrand's high is .468.

    And both played at offensive oriented parks for their careers, so I don't think adjustment is necessary for comparison.

    And while Burrell is expensive, if we get Benitez off our hands (which is my requirement for the deal at the moment), I think we're on the hook for around $18M, just slightly above what I think Hillenbrand will get, he made $5.8M last season, so he's probably looking for $7M per season or $14M over the next two years (though he'll probably be looking for more years; don't think he will get it).

    Now, will he get $7M per, I don't know, but that's what his agent should be thinking so, while most of us won't think he's worth it, this could stall negotiations with him into next year.

    I think the pursuit of Feliz, while most of us - including me - are aghast at it, the reality is that they need a 3B and there aren't many out there and you cannot just put someone out there like you can at 1B - some idiot before said that we should pick up Snow's $6.5M option solely because, quote, "the one-eyed king rules the kingdom of the blind" because Snow's the only lefty 1B out on the market that year. While that was stupid advice for 1B that season, I think it applies, unfortunately, to Feliz, partly because he is considered a good defensive 3B, and Sabean likes defense. And he's probably the best combo of offense and defense at 3B for this off-season, I don't recall who else was available, but that's what's sticking in my head right now.

    I would welcome Aurilia to play 3B, but he would cost the Giants their 2nd round pick, and given the deep draft, perhaps Sabean don't want to lose his draft pick, just yet, for an Aurilia. Also, I suspect that Sabean only want Feliz because he can play 1B, 3B, and LF, which allows him flexibility in who he can sign or trade for, he can still get a 3B, if the opportunity presented itself.

    Plus, we don't know what Feliz has offered to take in a contract in order to stay here, maybe it's enticingly low enough to keep Sabean interested.

    But as I noted on MCC, Feliz's agent's interview makes me think that they are far apart in terms right now, despite the encouraging word that the writer at sfgiants.com put out that Feliz will be resigned, because you don't put out words like "miracle" to sign before hand, unless you are far apart, so my hope is that Sabean, as part of his due diligence, must contact everyone. Heck, he even called Sheffield to ask if he would accept a contract under $10M, that's a call but pretty non-productive, no?

    So I would not worry about the "Feliz will be signed" warnings that others have been promulgating on the boards, at least for now. I see no reason to believe the guy at sfgiants.com, I have never seen impressed by him or his writing, thus far, and that's the only place I've seen any sign Feliz will be signed by the Giants but that agent interview clearly showed that the agent does not think the Giants and Feliz are close enough on terms to get the deal done before free agency begins, which then gives us the hope that Sabean will sign or trade for 3B talent and free us from the worry of Feliz in Giants uniform again, Sabean will move on if you try to leverage him or have high demands, like Beck and Aurilia learned.

    But who knows, just keep your fingers crossed and we can all communally and collective pray as Giants fans that Feliz doesn't get signed by the Giants for any outrageous contract.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh, and Crede and Ensberg are not free agents, we would have to give up prospects to ChiSox and Astros, respectively, to get them.

    Like with most decisions this off-season, they are good at the right price in terms of salary and/or prospects given up, but what the right price is, I don't really know the farm system so well this season, but I would be hesitant to give our any of our major prospects of the last pre-season plus Sadler, Anderson, Perreira, Tanner, Cowart, basically anyone who did really well this season.

    I think the Giants need to keep their best prospects, best that they can, and go for deals where they lose minor prospects and use their big budget to spend as a fulcrum to get players from other teams, like the Phillies, or any other team that wants to dump a useful but expensive player - at a reduced price to us, but still would free up a lot of cash for the other team to bid on Soriano or whomever.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Martin,

    Aurila gives us even more flexability then Feliz. Aurilia can play 2B and SS as well as 1B and 3B. All you gain in flexability with Feliz is LF but at the expense of 2B and SS (Yes, I know Feliz has played SS but, let's be real). In addition I think we will get better offensive production for less dollars from Richie and I do not see any defensive dropoff either.

    As I have stated in other threads, If the Giants want to mazimize flexability and talent while also keeping the dollars reasonable then the best choices I see are to sign both Rich Aurilia and Aubrey Huff. With these signings the giants will have two starters for any two of five available starting spots (1B, 2B, 3B, LF, RF).

    ReplyDelete
  7. Buy the way, signing Aurilia and Huff would fit in very nicely with trading Benitez for Burrell and re-signing Bonds. We could then choose between signing Matthews or re-signing Durham.

    CF/RF - Winn
    SS - Vizquel
    RF/CF - Huff/Matthews
    LF - Bonds
    2B/1B - Durham/Burrell
    1B/3B - Burrell/Huff
    3B/2B - Aurilia
    C - Cheap Defense!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey, yer preaching to the choir, if I had my druthers, I would rather have Aurilia.

    I was just trying to channel Sabean and wean out what I think he might say. The points I think Sabean might note for why he might want Feliz is:
    1) better defense at 3B and probably 1B; not sure what services say though
    2) younger
    3) lose a 2nd round draft pick for Richie

    But if it was me, I would rather have Richie than Feliz, period, for the reasons you state.

    I think I read somewhere that Huff is close to signing with Houston already. But even if not, I've heard that his defense is horrible, is that correct? If so, that would probably not sit well with Sabean, who tends to go for the defensive minded players, though he did pick up Winn, who has never been that good defensively, from the reputation I've seen.

    ReplyDelete

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