Monday, March 19, 2007

Larry Baer on KNBR This Morning: On Benitez

KNBR's morning show talked with Larry Baer this morning and while most of it was fluffy, Brian Murphy got some interesting info from Baer, or rather in what was not said.

Brian asked Baer about the closer situation and how it was going with that. Baer was loud in his silence about Benitez. He was noncommittal to Benitez, talking about going with the best player for the job. He did note that Benitez was throwing better and well, but basically dodged any question by Murphy to pin him on an opinion about Benitez and the closer position. When asked if Benitez might be trade, he then went on about how that's true for any player in spring, we'll know better when it gets closer to opening day.

He did also note that we have a nice crop of young relievers coming up and that is part of the equation as well.

My guess is that Benitez is traded as soon as any team offers the Giants something that they want, else they are going to go with him as closer. History being what it is, there are always teams eager to trade for even an overpriced experienced closer during mid-season when they are having a closer emergency - and at least 10 teams have that annually, even teams that thought they had everything settled, like the Dodgers, A's, Brewers, Rangers, White Sox, Reds, etc. in the 2006 season when injury and ineffectiveness meant that they needed closer help.

By then, it will be only half of Benitez's bloated salary and if he's really doing as well as HE thinks he will, then it should be relatively easy to trade him PLUS get a good prospect in return, whereas if he's not doing well, they could just put him back in the bullpen and promote Wilson, Sadler, Anderson or whoever is doing well at that time and has closer experience (and seemingly a lot of guys have gotten that experience with the Giants over the past few years in their minor leagues, including Taschner to the group above) or even Lincecum if they want to see how the wunderkind takes to the majors, but don't have a starting spot to give him.

And no, the Giants don't view Lincecum as anything other than a starter, but if they have an immediate need for a closer, they will feel comfortable doing that temporarily, like the Red Sox did with Papelbon last season. Just like Sanchez.

4 comments:

  1. As you know, Martin, my basic philosophy is that the brain trust, the GM, his personnel assistants, the scouts, the coaches, are in a better position to assess players than we are. There really seem to be two issues with Benitez, his attitude, particularly as displayed last year, and his performance. It seems to me management has a responsibility to talk to the player, after the displays he showed last year, and get some kind of understanding that is not acceptable. Then, I think management has to assess the player's impact in the clubhouse. Do the other players want him gone, or have they moved on and will accept him as a team mate. I think we, as fans, have to accep[t - or assume - that management does these things. And if so, and assuming those issues have been resolved, the question comes down to perfromance. Well, partly performance, partly long term decision making - vis-a-vis the fact that the contract is up at the end of the year. Thus, maybe getting something, if it is of value, makes sense.
    But, from my perspective, and partly based on your blog, I think it makes sense to start the season with Benitez, and see if he can increase his trade value AND one of our youngsters pushes himself into the closer's role. April, May, June may or may not be enough time for that. But dumping the guy now, when his trade value is low and when we have no clear alternative, seems like a weak move. Unless the clubhouse issues have not been satisfactorily resolved - but I have not heard a word on that. In fact, what I have heard is Bochy saying they have 'turned the page.'

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  2. And basically I'm in agreement with you. I don't see where I said that they are aching to trade him now; I noted, "My guess is that Benitez is traded as soon as any team offers the Giants something that they want, else they are going to go with him as closer."

    As you, I think they realize what Benitez's value can be when he is on. So I expect them to get equivalent value (whatever that is) when a trade is made - and I expect one to be made eventually, given all the talking up of how comfortable they are with Brian Wilson as their closer, the question is only when.

    But teams have made decisions based on spring training results. If another team believes that Benitez is back (Marlins), they will offer full value, and the Giants will accept if they agree that the offer is full value.

    Ande if no team see his value now, then yes, hold him until a team comes a-calling. And as I noted, someone will.

    You cannot take Bochy's word for "turning the page". What else is he going to say, "He's a cancer and I can't wait to get him out?" Only an idiot would do that (or get in a fight with a player - Toronto).

    Smart managers would say, "yeah, water under bridge, turn a new page, I'm giving him a clean slate, fill in your favorite cliche, I think he's going to be great and he's worth a lot to the team." That is, if you want him, show me da money/package, and you can have him.

    It only behooves the manager to do that, else the team gets nothing much in return for him, which means one less good player for you the manager. So you grit your teeth and smile and say that everything's fine and dandy, he's my man at closer.

    I do prefer the idea of waiting it out, because that gives our relievers more experience in MLB situations before being annointed "closer" but if a team is offering something good now, you got to take the deal, you never know, he could bend over at the buffet and herniate a disc or something.

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  3. Martin, I think you're a wee optimistic about the young guys. "Just like Sanchez," you say, but SAnchez wasn't a closer. He did well in middle relief, but his stint as a starter showed that batters adjusted to him quickly. He hasn't shown me that he could step into the closer role. Promote Wilson, OK, I can see that, but Sadler or Anderson? These would be experiments that a rebuilding team might afford to try, but the Giants (for better or worse) aren't rebuilding.

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  4. I'm not talking about Sanchez being a closer, I was talking about how he was placed in relief, which is where a closer is.

    Is that your observation of Sanchez or that's what you think because he was beaten like a drum while starting? I think what he did in the minors show his potential and it behooves the Giants to explore that potential, hence why they are starting him now. He won't be the first pitching prospect to come up and not do so well, but, really, you are writing him off after a few starts?

    I'm not being optimistic about the youngsters, rather I was trying to state that the Giants will use the jell-o on the walll method of finding the next closer, like they did a couple of years ago until they settled on Hermanson. Who knows how well they do, but I'm just listing the usual suspects who probably will get a chance if Benitez is sucking with us. And if Benitez is sucking, the team probably is sucking (as constructed, they cannot afford a lot of blown saves, which this portends), so for better or worse, that's rebuilding time.

    Besides which, if you haven't noticed, the Giants have been trumpeting Wilson as the closer and his qualifications are not better than Sadler or Anderson, at least to me; they just ran him up the system lickety split. So I don't think it is a big stretch to see them go with the other two, particularly Sadler after his AFL peformance, should Wilson falter.

    In addition, Sabean has been saying that this will be a period of competitive re-building, where they try to stay competitive but will integrate their young pitchers into the mix. No better time to do that than when you need a closer and you have 3 prospects with great closer experience ready for the next step.

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