Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sweeney in for Frandsen: Taking the Fresno Train Down

Frandsen was sent down in order to call up Mark Sweeney yesterday. I feel sorry for Frandsen, but it should have been expected. He hardly played at all, and the writing was on the wall when Aurilia started at SS when Vizquel rested, that was suppose to be a time when Frandsen would get a spot start (that and Durham's all tooo frequent "unable to play/day-to-day" extended stints).

Meanwhile, the Giants don't want to eat Sweeney's salary if he is still productive as a PH and with Klesko forcing his way into a semi-starting position at 1B, that makes Sweeney the main LH bat off the bench, and Aurilia the backup 2B/SS/3B, though how that actually works in reality is that he starts at 3B and moves to the other positions when necessary, whereupon Feliz then takes 3B.

Klesko Reason For Frandsen's Trip

As I had noted long ago, with Klesko's return to normalcy as a hitter, he would force his way into 1B starts and LF when Bonds rests, cutting into Aurilia's and Linden's time at those spots, respectively. Then it becomes a situation of "should Feliz or Aurilia play". And most games, Aurilia will probably get the nod, as long as Feliz hits like he has always done. And with Aurilia freed of "having" to play 1B, that frees him up to backup the MI positions, which made Frandsen superfluous.

It probably, in hindsight, been better to skip signing Feliz and play Aurilia at 3B and Klesko at 1B. But Klesko really should never hit against LHP, so who then would play 1B, then, Niekro?

Actually, that would have been a logical choice too, but then the risks pile up like it did last season when they relied on Niekro as their starting 1B and had no backup when he was hurt, like usually, or non-productive, which is any time he bats against a RHP. What happens if Klesko isn't back to prior hitting prowess? What if Aurilia's 2006 was a Great American Apparition? What if Niekro really cannot hit LHP, like he did in 2006, and not pound LHP, like he did in 2005? Or is injured, yet again? This is a house of cards, much like the situation in 2006.

So as abberant the thought of doing this was, signing Feliz to a one year contract is an insurance policy in case any of the above happens. And the 3B free agent market was not that scintillating either. The best guy, Aubrey Huff, you would have been paying for his 30 HR history, and for 3 years, but he hasn't had one of those years for years now, and his defense is horrendous at 3B, bad for any team as devoted and dependent upon how their pitching staff does, for the pitching is truly the centerpiece now, Bonds or no Bonds. People complain, but who after that was good? Wes Helms? Mark DeRosa? As lousy as Feliz was and is, he was one of the better 3B on the marketplace, and the Giants needed a 3B.

Signal to the Market

That's probably why the Giants inquired, reportedly, with the Yanks over whether A-Rod was available or not. Though I can't imagine that couldn't have been anything more than for show than for serious negotiations, we would probably have to give up Cain/Lincecum plus Lowry, Villalona, and an army of prospects, probably starting with Sanchez, Wilson, Sadler, and others, gutting our already meager farm system. It was probably to broadcast publicly that they would be interested in A-Rod's services if he should chose to opt out of his contract this coming off-season and they are not afraid of his salary demands.

And with his still huge contract, I think at $27M per year, he's still looking at getting a pay cut in any new contract, but would make up nicely for it by probably getting a 7-9 year contract at $20-25M per annum. He'll be crying all the way to the bank with that new contract, and out of a situation in NY that probably isn't conducive to him playing at his best. And you know Boras, the more bidders, the better he likes it, and especially at such a high price tag, that already limits the number of bidders, so sticking with the Yankees is a very nice alternative.

But given that "Greed is Good" appears to be the mantra of Boras and anyone who signs Boras as his agent, and how JD Drew flew out of LA once they realized the market was prime for some big salary raises, I would be immensely surprised if A-Rod does not go free agent on the Yankees, with the probability that the Yankees won't be one of the suitors - else they would just sign him to an extension now and not worry about losing him. I think with the league flush with money, from the DirectTV deal, profits from their website, and money from the sale of the Nationals (plus no need to pay up to fund the Nationals), there will be another jump in salaries this off-season, comparable with last year, much above the usual 10% rise in salary annually. Whether the Giants get him or not depends on how much they want him versus other teams. I would bet that they won't, but then I never expected to them to sign Zito either. But given their stance against too much salary tied up in their top two players, A-Rod and Zito's salaries would not co-exist unless A-Rod is closer to $20M than $25M (since Bonds is probably at $20M right now, since it was noted that his bonuses are relatively easy to attain if he plays a healthy season).

And Back to our Regular Programming...

But I digress, as I am wont to do: Feliz, while we have to hold back the barf thinking about how much he is making, is insurance in case the house of cards falls again. He is a very good defensive 3B, according to advanced fielding stats at Baseball Musing (so is Niekro at 1B), so even if he doesn't hit, at least the pitchers can rely on him to make the outs that are possible and not give away hits. His hitting is actually OK the first half of seasons, so there is the hope that with rest and competition, he can be OK offensively throughout a full season.

With all these multi-position players, Feliz can be put in against pitchers he has done well against and put on the bench against those he stunk against and be a power bat off the bench and late inning defensive replacement. And the hotter hitting between him, Aurilia, Klesko, and maybe even Linden, on those days Barry sits, will get to play and the cold guy gets to sit. But not for very long, as Bochy likes to let all his bench players get into a lot of games.

The Circle of Baseball

Which brings us back, full-circle to Kevin Frandsen, as he was not getting into any games, let alone many, so he must have saw the sign of this along the way. It's OK, he's still young, and if he's going to be our starting 2B in 2009 (2008 if the Giants for some reason trade Durham), he's going to have to play everyday somewhere to prepare for that day, I'm not aware of many guys who start out as a utility player and then become a starter for years, other than Lou Gehrig for Wally Pip, and Frandsen is no Gehrig.

Hopefully this won't get into his head and make him a malcontent, but he has always seemed to have a pretty mature and confident outlook, so he'll take it on the chin, like he did with that fastball up and in last season, shrug it off, and run to Fresno, ready to play. If he can hit like he did in Fresno in 2005-2006, particularly like his short run in 2005 and his play in the AFL in 2006, he will make a place for himself on the 2008 roster, somewhere, perhaps even 3B next year, which happens to be his position in college, he moved to 2B when he got into the Giants system.

4 comments:

  1. I would have to disgree with your statement that Kevin Frandsen "is still young." 25 is not particularly young in professional sports, and by your logic he'd be given his first real shot at a major league job at 27, very very old to try make your first serious adjustment to a major league job. He's really at an age where he needs to be playing against major league opposition if he has hopes of a good major league career.

    BTW, going from utility player to starter isn't that unusual -- particularly in todays age of superutilitystarter guy. Mark McLemore did it, Chone Figgins, Melvin Mora, it's really not that unusual. Todd Linden's attempting a similar sort of transition as we speak. Much like the old bullpen to starter transition. Taking advantages of the opportunities that present themselves is a time honored way of earning your stripes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Not that I'm saying he's an Utley, but Utley got his first real shot at starting at 26. And I noted that he could get a shot at 3B next year, when he is 26.

    27 is old if you are a great prospect. As much as I like Frandsen, most prospect commenters say that he is a tweener, some say starter, some say utility guy. Player like that should just feel lucky to get any shot at all, particularly a starting job.

    Plus, I think the A's have made a great case that you can get very useful seasons from player who are headed into their peak 28-32 years, but hadn't done anything yet in the majors and yet are good starters for a few years.

    As I noted, I don't think that there are many guys who have transitioned like that. But you are right, in this age of superutility starter guys, started by that ex-A's who went to Detroit (Tony Phillips?), it is not that uncommon anymore.

    But I still think that there are way more players who go from starters in the minors to starters in the majors, than those who start out utilty and move on to being a starter. So it would behoove Frandsen to hit like he did in 2005 and AFL and force his way into the Giants plans in 2008, rather than be the utility guy in 2007 and probably be relegated to that role again in 2008, much like the Phillies kept on using Ryan Madsen as a great reliever, when he wanted to start, though he did prove last year that he's no starter, so perhaps the Phillies knew something about that.

    All I'm saying is that Frandsen, who has gone through more in his short life than most have, should see this as a silver lining, he most probably will not get a chance to win a starting job in 2008 anyhow, if he's on the bench all this season, but now that he got a taste of being on the opening day roster, hopefully that will motivate him even further to hit like he did in 2005 and the AFL, have a rock-em, sock-em season at Fresno in 2007, and force his way into plans for 2008.

    He has to do this sooner rather than later because the Giants have Burriss and Sanders moving up who are future 2B, and while 3B is open, he doesn't really have the power or speed to keep 3B for longer than one transition year as the Giants wean themselves off of Feliz in 2008 (or at least that is my hope). Assuming that they don't somehow pick up A-Rod or something, then obviously Frandsen is just screwed for 2008.

    And at worse, Frandsen is skilled enough that he could be another in a long line of good utility infielders, like Litton, Scarsone, and REM. A player like that can make a very good living for a long time and Frandsen is definitely a scrapper type. There is no shame in that, no shame in realizing your limitations. Given that he was considered by some scouts to not have much of a chance at a major leaguer career, he has already travelled very far in proving his worth. I think he will have a better chance doing that with a full year starting in Fresno (plus perhaps starting in SF when/if Durham is DLed) than sitting on the bench and getting into maybe 30-40 starts at 2B and SS.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Looks like this will just be a bump in the road for Frandsen, I got it all wrong. It was reported in the Merc today that Bochy said that Frandsen will be up again and he won't be down there for long.

    I guess the Giants are hoping to trade off either Sweeney or Niekro to open a spot for Frandsen again. I guess they decided that they are not going to just eat Sweeney's contract or just let go of Niekro without getting something in return.

    But sitting on the bench all those days at the start of the season didn't do much to make Frandsen's case for a bigger role in 2008 either.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Irrespective of when they bring him up, this is a good move. Sweeney was just down in extended ST, so he is ready to go. Maybe this will showcase him and we can get someone to take on part of his salary. And while that is cooking, Frandsen can get his batting eye sharp again.
    It would sure be nice if he were on the team now, tho, for if they in fact play a double header tomorrow, they will really need him. We may see Ortiz playing 2b tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete

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