Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Should We Lose or Should We Win Now?

With apologies to the Clash:

"Should we lose or should we win now?
If we lose it could be trouble; if we win it could be double.
Come on and let me know, should we lose or should we win?"

That's the dilemma facing Giants fans today. The Giants are flirting with a top 5 draft pick in next year's amateur draft, a region that historically is much better than from 6-10 overall, and is "only" 4 games away from the first pick overall. With their current start of a stretch of 38 games in 38 days, that's going to be quite a gaunlet of games played, tiring out all our regulars, perhaps tiring out our starting pitchers then our bullpen.

I think that is part of what is motivating the Giants to get Ortiz and Misch ready to start. They will need a spot starter for the double-header against Pittsburgh, plus they conceivably could go to a 6-man rotation for a while to keep the starters fresher, during this period, by keeping the starters in their regular starting spot, every 6 days when there is an open spot in the schedule that week.

Should We Win?

In any case, August is about the time when Cain suddenly was untouchable last year and when Lowry is nearly untouchable the past three seasons. Add to that Lincecum seemingly over the hump in terms of adjusting, and the pitching rotation looks pretty good right now, with Zito and Morris our #4/#5 starters essentially (and unfortunately pitching like them too).

Plus position players are starting to heat up. Roberts now on fire after fixing his elbow and getting back into hitting shape, Winn catching on fire too again, Feliz on fire in July (is he finally learning to hit better, as he said he was working on during the off-season? He has 7 walks and only 3 strikeouts in July - when I checked last, he got a walk today against Atlanta. The closest he was to equaling them before this season was August 2005, when he had 10 walks and 14 strikeouts until 7 walks and 9 K's in May this year. And since becoming a regular in 2004, he has never had a month with under 10 strikeouts until May of this year and he is on pace to end up with around 5 strikeouts this month plus perhaps pass 10 walks in a month for the first time), and Bonds being Bonds. As the offense has shown in the past weekedn, they can score a bunch of runs even without Bonds contributing (Of course, part of that was due to the Brewers lousy pitching staff, other than Gallardo, who we luckily missed).

So we should not be El Stinko possibly in August and that would move our records upward, beyond the Top 5 picks, back towards the #10 pick we have gotten the past two years. And if Zito can finally pitch like he can, we might even get back within shooting distance of the division leaders. And if Morris is fine, just going through his first bad stretch of the season, then we could conceivably catch up with the leaders, much like the Chicago Cubs have over the past three weeks or so.

Should We Lose?

But now that we are in range for a top 5 draft pick in next year's amateur draft, I would like to get one, as next year is suppose to be full of college hitters, from what I recall someone noting. And the closer we are to #1, presumably the better the hitter we get. Who knows, maybe he'll be good enough to make the majors by 2010.

With the Giants looking to compete next season but with the intention to develop younger players who could contribute to the future, I'm hoping to trade a few of the veteran players we have to get some prospects, some who are close to the majors, within a year or two, some who are just low level but promising prospects. That should help counteract the positives I noted above and keep the Giants uncompetitive and still losing. I don't want them to lose, but now that we are here, getting the fourth pick, we may as well work towards keeping it.

Who Goes and What Happens

Morris is probably the main one I'm looking to move, both for salary and because he would probably bring the most in prospect talent. A good starter like him is hard to find in this market, he's not a difference maker but he is a good veteran pitcher and a lot of teams could use another starter. He's had a bad stretch but he is still better than most team's #4 (or worse) starter and could be a good #3 for a number of teams as well. Russ Ortiz would take his place in the rotation and Misch would be the spot starter/DH starter.

Durham is another one because that would save salary for next season too, like Morris, plus it would open up 2B for Frandsen, which is probably where he will need to play in the majors, if he should ever start. Give it to him now, he can start next year, and if he isn't the long-term answer, we have a number of players who can play 2B coming up the system and should be ready for a look-see by 2009 or 2010. I had toyed with the idea of him playing 3B, but I think we should just play Aurilia there, mainly because he is probably not tradeable.

As much as I like Klesko, I think he should be traded as there are teams that can use a 800+ OPS hitter at 1B like him and would be willing to give up something for him. Heck, if we can get a Kelvin Pichardo for Michael Tucker, as bad as he was hitting that year, Klesko should fetch an even better prospect. Not too bad for a cheap free agent pickup.

To replace him, we could promote Scott McClain, who is hitting a ton in AAA right now. He is 35 years old, so that would explain his dominance, but Niekro hasn't been doing anything since he was injured (again, sigh...). I would just promote Ishikawa, he has been raking in Advanced A San Jose since being sent there, showing the skills that he showed there two seasons ago and on the road in AA, plus he did well in his short stint in the majors last season and purportedly already is a good major league defensive 1B. Just let him hack up here but with our batting coach working closely with him.

If we can get anything for Vizquel, I will be torn, mainly depending on how many picks we would get for him if we let him go free agent and sign elsewhere. If we get two picks, a first rounder and a supplemental first, then I think I would let him go. If it is lower, then I would look to trade him for what we can get, and then promote Ivan Ochoa to play SS. He was playing nicely for us in AAA until his injury but unfortunately he isn't back yet so perhaps trading Vizquel will have to wait.

I think there should be teams looking for someone like Mark Sweeney, he is a professional hitter and we should be able to get a prospect for him. Again, if Tucker could fetch a good low level prospect, we should be able to get something good for Sweeney too. That would open up a spot on the roster for Ortmeier to be our 4th OF, which is the role I see for him going forward.

Steve Kline is a sweet reliever and I read one of the rumor headlines that relievers are hard to find: BINGO! He's doing well, he's signed for 2008, he should be able to fetch a good enough prospect. We have a lot of relievers in the minors who we could bring up, though none of them are doing particularly great, except for Misch, who is now a starter.

I think I would have rather they started Begg instead and put Misch into our bullpen. With his high K-rate in AAA, it would have been interesting to see what he could do with extended time in the bullpen with us. Then again, with his high K-rate, perhaps the Giants see him taking the 5th starter spot next year - assuming Morris will be traded away sometime between now and opening day 2008 - over Sanchez.

Now, if any of the free agent players can fetch us good draft picks in next year's draft, I think I would rather keep them and get the picks, but since I don't know where they rank or anything, I cannot say who would or wouldn't, so hence my thoughts above. Just nevermind them if we can get a first round pick for anyone.

Lastly, I doubt that we can trade Feliz for much, he has been so bad for so long. But he is having an amazing July, walks galore, he cut down on his K's drastically, he's hitting still hitting for power, he's hitting like we've been asking him to for over 5 years now. If he can continue to hit like this for the rest of the year, plus continue to play his great defense, I would actually be OK with re-signing him, that is, if there isn't a better 3B on the market.

A-Rod now seems likely to re-sign with the Yanks - reports have him buying a $25M mansion in Connecticut or somewhere near NY - so that dream is dead and I'm not sure I would want to sign Mike Lowell to a big long contract either. Another one year with Feliz so that we have a 3B would not be so bad, though many Giants fans would have a fit. But look at it this way: we have no 3B in the minors ready to play 3B, Leone has been pretty bad most months, he just had a great May (I think, or was it June). He would probably be just as bad offensively as Feliz and without the defense, but he would be cheap.

And if we are going to stink in 2008, the least the Giants need to do is field a good defensive team, particularly in the infield, so that the pitchers don't get too frustrated. Molina catching, Ishikawa and/or Niekro can provide that at 1B, Frandsen at 2B, Feliz at 3B, Vizquel perhaps at SS (re-sign if unable to trade), Roberts in CF and Winn in RF, plus mixing in Lewis and Schierholtz in there too as starters, not great defense from those two but you can't have them all good. And as I will write on in a future post, defense is a key element of successful teams in the playoffs (along with good, dominant pitching).

1 comment:

  1. And how can I forget Bonds?!? It will be interesting once Bonds passes Aaron: would the Giants entertain trading him?

    He probably won't pass Aaron before the month ends and the non-waiver trade deadline passes. But as he showed in Chicago, he can suddenly blast them out, so you never know.

    Still don't know if any other team would want his baggage, but if there are teams interested, he would be a great offensive addition, particularly to an AL team with a DH (since he complains so much about standing in the OF, this would give him a lot of rest).

    The only thing I can think of for keeping him - and trading him would certainly sink this season - is if we can get draft picks for him. But I don't recall if teams automatically get picks now or if we still have to offer arbitration. If we have to offer to get picks, it would be better to trade him now, presuming that the Giants had decided that he's not a part of their 2008. If they think they might still keep him, then a trade would not be good as it would cost us a pick.



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