Aurilia vs. Klesko
Someone complained about Bochy playing Aurilia too much over Klesko. So I posted my reply:
I would give Bochy the benefit of the doubt regarding Aurilia/Klesko. Frankly, Klesko was weak hitting until recently and even now he's not hit for much power.
He hit .282/.333/.359/.692 in April and thus didn't see as many games as we might have hoped for, but had put the heat on this month and gotten more play. He is hitting an OK .333/.419/.444/.864 in May thus far.
But still only a 111 ISO for the month, which is very little power. And that's the role we were mainly looking from him, though his high career OBP looks good in replacement of Bonds.
Aurilia, on the other hand, started out very hot, his OPS was in the 800's and reached 908 on April 19, but then cooled off since then. Still, he still has 12 XBH to Klesko's puny 4, and the only HR of the pair, in only double the ABs.
Unfortunately, Aurilia has been colder than Finley's bat since his hot streak, so he should start seeing more rest days coming up.
In fact, in 24 games in April, he played in all 24 and maybe started 22 of them (only 2 games with less than 3 PA), whereas in May, he has played in 12 of 14 games, but got 3 PA or more in 9 of them. So he has already been reduced from 22 starts in 24 in April, to 9 starts in 14 in May.
And if his bat continues to be this cold, and Klesko, Feliz (.280/.321/.460/.781 in May), and Frandsen (.471/.500/.647/1.147 since he returned plus two great starts) hot, he's probably going to see even less.
And Klesko has actually been killing LHP, not RHP, which is the reverse of what one should expect of this platoon hitter:
That's a pretty sad performance for a hitter who had killed RHP before, I wish I could see his RHP splits by month to map his progress (or lack thereof). This is a poor sign of future performance, his LHP hitting should go down a lot, and his RHP hitting has been anemic. He needs to boost up his RHP or he could find himself Lindened this season too.
Closers On the Roster
Next, I commented about who would close should Benitez be traded at some point. I also got a dig in on someone who suggested that we do the Papelbon in Boston thing with Lincecum:
Who let the Dodger/A's fan in here? Lincecum's no closer!!! He starts!!!
I think the best short-term option is Russ Ortiz. He was a closer while coming up our system and I think he closed in college too. That was a long time ago, but I don't think that should matter, should be like riding a bike in terms of attitude and personality for it.
Whether he still has the stuff he had then is the matter, and he claims that he's got it back, and the Giants evidently believe that too, so put him there if he's not starting, seems like a good reward for playing down his Wally Pipp role with Lincecum, and being classy about it.
The best long term on the roster in the pen is probably Hennessey once he gets used to it. Let him set up this year, then Ortiz will go free agent and maybe leave, and Hennessey would be first in line for it. But he would have to fight off Correia, Sadler, and whoever else looks good in spring. And should Ortiz fail in his try, then these guys will be battling for that opportunity, should it present itself.
I like Misch too. I think all the pitchers down below get chances to save, seems like every starter in Augusta has a save. He probably don't get many opps, if any, to save, with Wilson and Sadler there, but he's doing so well, I would just put him in there and see what he can do.
By roster, I assume the premise was who would the Giants chose right now based on the stats right now. No one in the minors are really doing that well except for Misch, among the usual suspects (Sadler, Wilson, Valdez - and he's not even back pitching yet, as far as I know).
And by long term, I think Hennessey has shown the most as of right now. I still hope that Wilson fulfills his potential as was projected for him, and become the closer of the future for us, much like Accardo is doing it in Toronto, sadly, or Aardsma in Chicago, but he's still giving up too many walks in AAA.
Yeah, Aardsma and Accardo are doing well in their new homes. I still think that the Giants had to do those moves at the time, to boost their still alive chances to make the playoffs. Hawkins pitched well for us while he was with us, and Kline, who we got for him, has been good as well. Williams, meanwhile, has bounced from organization to organization, and was in the starting 5 for the Nats this season, but just went on the DL, which is just as well, he was doing pretty crappy from what I remember. Aardsma has been doing nicely for the ChiSox, but it took him around 3 years to figure things out and meanwhile we've gotten good performances out of Hawkins and Kline (plus Lincecum's immortal words, "Take off your sweater next time," when Kline came up - nude - and gave a big bear hug to Tim while reporters were interviewing him after his first career win).
Hillenbrand was a horrible addition and it hurts from that standpoint in trading away Accardo. But you have to give to get and Hillenbrand is a professional hitter so the concept of getting him was the right concept for us at the time because 1B was killing us offensively, and while Hillebrand was not the greatest hitter, his career differential (and season) over our 1B choices was significant enough to take the leap. Not every trade is going to work out great, if you don't take any risks, you cannot never get the rewards (Kent, Burks, Schmidt).
However, the trade worked for us in that Chulk is still around and he has been a good reliever for us. While he's not the closer material that Accardo was and is, the point is that he is a perfectly good reliever, good enough to earn first chance at the setup position before blowing it but he's been good since. So at least we still have something to show for losing Accardo, Chulk mitigated the risk of losing Accardo for Hillenbrand so that if we lost Hillenbrand, it was not a total loss, like it was in the trade with Minnesota (another trade good in concept).
Still, the point of the trades is also that even a farm system as maligned as the Giants can keep producing viable relief prospects to replace the ones traded away. Perhaps not as good as the ones traded away - that is yet to be seen, Wilson was much more successful and quicker in the minors coming up than Aardsma or Accardo, plus there was the expectation that Valdez would be coming up soon - but the Giants have a bullpen full of players they drafted and developed plus two - Kline and Chulk - who they got trading other bullpen prospects. Only Benitez is not somehow related to the Giants' farm system.
The questioning of Bochy's usage of Aurila and Klesko got me thinking about how Bochy has been doing as manager of the Giants. I've been pretty happy with him thus far. Don't really have many things I can complain bitterly about.
As noted, I think he has been handling the Aurilia/Klesko situation well. I also liked how he sat Feliz down and been playing Aurilia at 3B, until Feliz started hitting. Hopefully Frandsen will get some starts at 3B too.
Speaking of Franny, that's one thing I wished he did better and allowed Frandsen more playing time at the beginning of the season. However, I understand why things went down the way it did. I think Bochy wanted to see how the vets played first, this being his first season with them. It is one thing to look at their stats and see them from the other dugout, another to spend every day with them and dealing with them. Thus Frandsen probably wasn't going to be seeing much time early on.
Normally, this would mean leaving Frandsen in the minors and having someone else on the roster. But in recognition of Frandsen's future with the team, Bochy kept him on the team and let him experience opening day and home opening day. Then they sent him down since he got rusty, get his confidence back with some swell hitting, and brough him back with the intention so use him more, now that Bochy has a better feel for his vets.
Like Feliz. I was impressed that he embarrassed Feliz in front of everyone and pitched batting practice to him and yelling at him to hit to the other side and yelling at him like he was a freaking little leaguer, learning how to hit. Then he benched Feliz a few times, playing Klesko at 1B and Aurilia at 3B. Unbelievably, Feliz has responded to Bochy, after a cold April where he hit .236/.257/.486/.743 with 14 K/2 BB in 72 AB, during May he is hitting .280/.321/.460/.781 with, incredibly, 3 K/3 BB in 50 AB.
Here's the perspective on his achievement this month so far (still only half over). In 22 months of at least 50 AB in the month, excluding this month (meaning out of 21 months), there has only been 1 month out of the 21 where he had less than 10 strikeouts, his first month with over 50 AB when he had 9 strikeouts. He only has 3 this month!!!. In contrast, he has had 15 out of 21 months where he had 15 or more strikeouts, and a number of them over 20.
Then there is the bullpen. Bochy came in with a reputation of creating these wonderful bullpens, of getting these nondescript pitchers who didn't do much of anything before and getting them to perform well. The classic example of this was Cla Meredith, who the 'Dres got last season as a throw in when they traded Mirabelli to the Red Sox. He was lights out and great, pitching for Bochy.
This season, the bullpen went into the season highly maligned, with our best hope for performance, Brian Wilson, sent down to AAA due to poor performance in spring training when he was pretty much guaranteed a spot in the bullpen and was in the running to become either setup man or closer if he did well enough (if he did well, I suspect the Giants might have traded Benitez; that can still happen just before the trade deadline if Benitez is pitching well enough and enough of our bullpen was performing well enough to have candidates for closer). I was one of the few who thought our bullpen would be OK, but I will admit I had my moments when I wondered too. But they have come through for the most part:
- Hennessey: 3.00 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, .247 BAA, 77% inherited left on (10/13);
- Benitez: 3.55 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .245 BAA, 40% left on (2/5);
- Kline: 3.72 ERA, 1.66 WHIP, .341 BAA, 89% left on (8/9);
- Chulk: 3.78 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, .297 BAA, 40% left on (4/10);
- Taschner: 3.97 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, .179 BAA, 69% left on (11/16);
- Correia: 4.34 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .209 BAA, 33% left on (1/3);
- Sanchez: 5.68 ERA, 1.89 WHIP, .286 BAA, 50% left on (2/4);
- Overall: 3.82 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 63% left on (38/60).
I have to think that the Giants will keep Lincecum around in almost any circumstances, other than getting totally blown out and looking like a total rookie. Even if he has a middling start, he has nothing to prove in AAA and Ortiz has already shown publicly that he can accept going to the bullpen if Lincecum is starting. Plus, Ortiz is an experienced bullpen guy and if he really has his stuff back, as he says it has, then he should be even better in relief for us, in long relief and potentially in setup and closing situations because he was a closer while coming up through our farm system.
So Bochy has done a good job thus far with the bullpen, both numbers and handling. He has left in pitchers so that he was not going strictly L/L or R/R no matter what. He has allowed Taschner to take on RHH and is open to having Benitez come in the 8th and pitching over an inning. This shows confidence in the relievers and puts less stress on them by not having them come into the game just for a batter and warming up every game. The pitchers have responded by pitching to their capabilities, they are all around what their career numbers would tell you, maybe a little better.
This is a huge difference over how Alou handled the bullpen and it appears to be working better. And yet Bochy does not shy away from using relievers, his usage of relievers are up there among the league leaders in the NL, but his handling of them does not appear to burn them out like Felipe did. And the bullpen has been very positive in their statements over how Bochy has been handling them, without knocking Alou. However, Krukow, in his morning show, while not criticizing Alou, per se, noting that it is just a matter of differing managerial styles, did say that he likes the way Bochy handles the bullpen and thinks that things are now better for the relievers in terms of stress on their arms.