Friday, June 08, 2007

Giants 2007 Draft 6 Pick: #22 - Tim Alderson

Much has been made of #22 Tim Alderson's unusual delivery: he always pitches out of the stretch. As far as I'm concerned, I thought that's great because I don't know how many times I see a pitcher have to throw out of the stretch and suddenly loses his control. Alderson never has to worry about that. His coaches make their high school's pitchers throw out of the stretch in their freshman and sophomore seasons, but allow them to throw normally starting their junior year. Alderson continued doing it, I suppose because of his height, 6'7", which normally would be very hard to coordinate and thus why a lot of tall pitchers are wild and lack control, but since it was working for him already, why mess with success?

Besides which, he never has to worry about losing his control. It's amazing, as his scouting report on MLB.com notes, "Alderson has plus, plus command. He issued his first walk of the season in this start while striking out 13. Dating back to last year, he's walked 9 and struck out 173." Now THAT'S control.

It also notes that his fastball normally is in the 89-93 MPH range, which is slightly above average and his curve has a chance to be a plus pitch in the future. In addition, his changeup is decent even though he didn't need to use it much in high school. And despite his height, 6'7", he is athletic and coordinated on the mound. They think that he has a chance to be a three-pitch, strike-throwing machine with a lot of deception in his delivery.

The fear with him, much like Lincecum last year, is that his unique delivery and unorthodox arm action will result in physical problems. Thus many scouts think that he would be better suited as a reliever, again, much like Lincecum. Ironic, eh, since Lincecum is so short relatively and Alderson is so tall. If they do end up together in the rotation, Alderson can be "Tiny Tim" and Lincecum can be "Big Tim". :^)

Giants Thoughts on Alderson

I like the pick. He would have been drafted much earlier based on talent if it wasn't for his unusual delivery. Of course, he probably ices his arm, unlike Lincecum, so the fear about his delivery is probably valid. However, I would think the Giants are going to work with him to reduce the probability of injury with his delivery.

I'm assuming the Giants don't want to use him as a reliever - though with up to 3 good pitches and pinpoint command, he could be a devastating reliever a la Eckersley - and keep him as a starter so that he can work on perfecting his two other pitches as they probably fast track him up the system. However, with so many good starters in the rotation, already and potentially, he could be switched to closing, much like Papelbon was, at least initially in his career, before they move him back into the rotation should they trade someone in the future. Or they could trade him to get a good position player in the future as well.

Focus On Pitching Good Strategy For Today's Baseball

As noted in the other post, this is the strategy I foresaw long ago regarding Sabean's focus on pitching: eventually, assuming you are good at what you do, you end up with a great pitching staff and logjams of talent will start to occur, creating surplus that can be traded off for position players. This is particularly valuable strategy over the past two years as mediocre middle of rotation starters, like Meche, Lilly, and Padilla, get $10-11M annual salaries. By cranking out pitchers like this, all at cheap cost and 6 year control, that is a great value to any team you trade with, and should net us valuable hitters straight up.

A pitcher like that - Hennessey, I've thought, could be a good middle of rotation starter, Sanchez is at least that, perhaps better - could save the team we trade him to, $8-9M per year on their pitching staff, so they would be more willing to trade off surplus hitting to us - like a Rangers, Angels, Tampa Bay, who cranks out hitters but not pitchers - and, frankly, I think they might give us extra too, like another low level prospect, it don't matter if you have a team of young hitters if your middle rotation starters are giving up 5 runs per game. In addition, we allow them to save money on their rotation which they can tend turn around and afford to pay a free agent or their own free agent-to-be's.

Classic Ricardian Economics

And this is classic comparative advantage economics, where you focus on what you do best and trade with someone who focus on what they do best, and we all benefit. So while I was bummed, and still is, about not getting a good hitter with the first two picks, unfortunately the better ones were taken early, so I'm glad that they decided to focus on good pitchers because there is a lot of benefits from that as well.

And as I noted, who is to say that Bumgarner and Alderson are not the ones who become good players and Dominguez, Mills, and Heyward never pan out? Lots of commentators scream that these three are better, but what do they know? Each of the three have problem areas that could derail their MLB dreams, they may never adjust and learn to overcome their problems, only Wieters, among the hitters, appear to be a sure thing, probably why the Orioles selected him.

There are no guarantees even for the 10th or 22nd pick of the draft. In all likelihood, as my study found, the vast majority of those picks (10-30) never amount to anything in baseball, couple are useful, and the rare ones turn out to be good players. We are extremely lucky (or good) to have three in such a short period in Lowry, Cain, and Lincecum. This draft will probably make or break Sabean and Company's reputation for developing young pitchers, assuming Magowan gives Sabean an extension after the season.

The Return of Sabean?

In recent comments, Magowan, while not outright saying Sabean will return and reiterating that the decision will be made after the season, praised Sabean for the draft, saying he "did a hell of a job with the draft yesterday. I think he's a well-respected general manager. What more can I say?" I think that means that barring a total collapse of the team, Sabean will get at least a one year contract and probably will get more years if the Giants can get it into gear and be competitive for the division title in the second half of the season.

3 comments:

  1. Oh, and why a team would give us more for our pitcher is that while a team cannot use an extra good 1B, 3B, C prospect on their roster - at best, he's insurance in the minors - for the Giants we can use the guy in the bullpen, see Jonathan Sanchez, Brad Hennessey, they both projected as decent starters at minimum, but now they are doing well for us in the bullpen, contributing to the team. For example, A-Gon couldn't do much for Texas as long as Teixiera was at 1B.

    So if they don't want to give us more, that's fine, we can use them in the bullpen if we want. They can continue to let their good position prospect waste time in the minors.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really love Anderson but it's still a hesitant love. I love the command and the potential 3 plus pitches but I fear that he could end up as just a reliever?

    I really hate the idea of drafting a reliever. I also get a little leery when you have to change guys mechanics (such as teaching Anderson a windup move, when his own motion is really unique to himself).

    I think at worst he'll be a solid bullpen member but I hope he'll be in the rotation eventually. I think Tidrow has commented that he thinks he's a starter, so that's a little comforting.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That's a fear for any pitcher, whether #22, #10, or #1 overall. There is rarely any sure thing.

    I don't get the impression that the Giants are going to change his mechanics. They let Lincecum do his own thing, so I don't see why they wouldn't let him continue what made him so successful thus far. Both Sabean and Tidrow said that he's a starter so they will exhaust that avenue before making him a reliever.

    ReplyDelete

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