Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Klesko Manifesto Destiny

Lefty has a nice post up on what the Ryan Klesko signing by the Giants could mean to the team. He even beat me to the punch on what it means to the 40 man roster, which I was thinking of writing about, in a follow-up post.

Anyway, Klesko was signed to a $1.75M contract with $2M in incentives running up to 550 plate appearances (that I did beat Lefty to with a comment on his first post about Klesko :^) and he was announced as a nice power lefty bat to have coming off the bench, playing some 1B and LF, giving Aurilia and Bonds some rest.

However, if you read this article in the SF Chronicle, both Sweeney and Aurilia were kind of taken aback by the signing and a bit insecure about what it means to them now that Klesko is signed. How insecure is that? I think both are overly worried, particularly Sweeney.

Sweeney will be the PH that he has always been envisioned. What, you can't have two lefty PH during a game? It just means that it will be that much less likely that Sweeney will be starting so many games. Is that a bad thing? As I noted on Lefty's, Sweeney's road numbers were still as good as previous years, he just had a really bad time in SF. Perhaps if he were concentrating on learning to hit in SF rather than worrying about his defense, he might come through for us in SF as well.

Aurilia, as he noted in the Chronicle, can play a lot of positions. One of the thesis that I've seen the Giants throw out is that Feliz got too tired and they left it unsaid, but that is probably why they think his hitting sunk in the second half, because he got no rest. And with no viable backup - Vizcaino certainly never got it going - Feliz was all they had. Now they have Aurilia and if Feliz is slacking, for whatever reason, offensively, Aurilia or Frandsen will get a lot of ABs there, depending on the circumstances.

And what circumstances are that? As Bochy noted in the Chronicle interview, basically, whoever is hitting. And that is the beauty of having Aurilia, Frandsen, Klesko, and even Sweeney. Feliz not hitting? Aurilia can take 3B if he is hitting, or Frandsen could. If Aurilia takes 3B, then Klekso can play at 1B. Klesko can also play LF if Linden isn't hitting, when Bonds is resting. Sweeney can jump into the fray if Klesko is not hitting either or if there is a physical ailment affecting him. Plus Vizquel was totally cold for a long stretch in 2005, Aurilia and Frandsen can jump in there if he goes cold, with Klesko/Sweeney taking over at 1B if Aurilia shifts to SS. And you never know about Durham and his hamstrings or other leg ailments.

In addition, Aurilia and Sweeney are overworrying over something that has never been promised to them. Both are considered backup players. Both were never promised regular time, other than the Giants have been saying that Aurilia is currently their 1B - most of the time - at the moment. And Klesko too has only been promised to be a backup player too. Basically anyone who is hitting, he's going to get a lot of ABs, so it would behoove anyone wanting ABs to start hot and stay hot.

Each have question marks. Aurilia appears to only hit in Cincinnati. Klesko is insurance of that. Klesko appears to be healed and hitting well again, but is he? And will he hold up? Vizquel is old and a habit of not hitting well in odd years in recent years. Feliz hit well first half and very poorly second half of 2006, so which will show up in 2007? Durham has been a walking medicine chest since he joined the Giants. Lots of scenarios, lots of solutions.

Now, about who to drop when Bonds is signed, I think that Ellison makes the most sense. He might get picked up, but we have Lewis basically ready to take over if that should happens. However, we have no 1B in the system ready and Ishikawa is viewed as, at best, a platoon 1B by some prospect experts and Niekro has so far look like the perfect bookend for him. There is also the strong possibility that something will be done with Matheny.

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