Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Frandsen Not Fizzling, He's Sizzling

Shame on me for not writing about Kevin Frandsen as a possibility at 3B in yesterday's post on Feliz: I've only been pushing for that for a few months now. :^D

Starting August 24th, when he came in mid-game, Frandsen has played in 21 out of 28 games, so he has been getting regular play for a whole month now. In 65 AB, he has scored 10 runs, drove in 9 and struck out only 6 times, with a batting line of .400/.431/.554/.985 and 2 SB (and a homer). This does not count yesterday's game, where he went 0-for-4 with a run scored and a walk. Still, pretty nice stats overall, the only thing to complain about is his lack of walks but that is relatively minor since he's keeping strikeouts to a low, his contact rate is a sterling 91%, which is elite status. When you are hot like this, you need to continue to be aggressive and get the hits, plus he was able to get walks when he wanted to last season, particularly in the AFL, so I think he can switch to getting walks when the need comes.

This great period is marked by his great hitting in September. He has played in 15 of 21 games in the month, and started 7 of the last 8 games. In 50 AB, he has scored 9 runs, drove in 5 and struck out only 4 times, with a batting line of .420/.444/.520/.964 and 2 SB. Again, this does not count yesterday's game, unfortunately baseball-reference.com has not updated their stats yet (still the best for baseball stats out there, they recently added minor league stats as well).

I would like to see Frandsen start in 2008, to see what he's got (so far, so good), and if we are unable to trade Durham away during spring training without paying most of his salary to his new team, I would rather play Frandsen at 3B, at least to start the season, perhaps Durham can recover to have a good season and be a valuable trading chip by mid-season. Then Aurilia could take over 3B as Frandsen shifts over to 2B.

Again, to my way of thinking, the Giants should not go all out in free agency to be competitive. Selectively sign only the best young hitters available, particularly if they are in the infield, and use our supply of OF prospects to fill in the outfield, while still pursuing a trade of Winn, though with Bonds gone for certain, there is not as much need anymore as there will be plenty of ABs for the young guys, but if we can trade Winn and keep Roberts, the OF could be Roberts in LF, Davis in CF, Schierholtz in RF, with Lewis getting a lot of AB across the OF, plus if Ortmeier is starting at 1B, he could play some OF if and when Aurilia starts at 1B.

Keep Roberts

Some have scoffed or pooh-poohed my thought that Roberts is the one to be kept because he can train our base-stealers. In yesterday's MLB.com article on Frandsen (which jogged my memory on Frandsen):
Fradsen [SIC] will be able to add baserunning to his resume pretty soon, too. Dave Roberts was giving him basestealing tips in the outfield before Monday's game, and Fradsen [SIC] looked like a quick study as he easily grabbed second in the third inning for his fourth stolen base of the season.

This is why I want Roberts around at least one season if not for his contract. We need him to spread his wealth of knowledge to as many Giants prospects as possible, preferably the speedsters in our system. To utilize speed properly, you need to learn enough technique so that you can steal at least 75% successfully, and the best can steal 80%+ successfully (and Roberts has been around there for much of his career). Else you become a Jason Ellison, full of speed but owner of a 65% success rate in 32 career steal attempts (21 SB, 11 CS).

Outs are so crippling, particularly when on the basepaths, that if we, as an organization, is going to devote ourselves to speed, we need to make sure that our players know how to steal bases using the best techniques around. And with apologies to Darren Lewis, who was a fair base stealer in his playing days (247 stolen bases but, whoa!, only a sickly 69% success rate, didn't know it was that bad, no wonder Ellison never developed), Dave Roberts learned from one of the masters, Maury Wills.

This shows from his career stats. Robert's career success rate is 81%, and over the past four seasons, it was 84%, with seasonal rates of 97%, 89%, and 86% in three of those seasons (he had a horrible year his first year with the Padres and Bochy, but has been excellent the past 2 seasons; that 86% is still in flux as he could SB or CS in the final games of the season). We need a player like him to teach our young speedsters how to properly utilize their speed on the basepaths so that they run into less outs when stealing. It is a significant difference between now having a runner on second when he was on first versus having one less out and base runner.

Just keep him around, we need to get our speedsters to be at their best.


  1. I agree, we have kids with lots of speed down in San Jose. When Antoan Richardson got on base the question wasn't if he would steal, but when and how many bases. I saw him steal third, before the pitcher could throw. The pitcher breaks out of his wind up half way through, and Antoan is standing on third.

    If these kids can learn from one of the best, keep him around.

  2. I would much rather see the Giants eat Durham's contract and get him off the team so that Frandsen can play every day at 2B. He is not a good enough hitter nor good enough defensively to be a 3B. The Giants need to determine if he is going to be their 2B in the future or not. The only way to do that is get Durham off the team so that Bochy doesn;t runt him out there 3 or 4 days a week.

    Roberts has to go also for the sme reason. The incremental value that his knowledge imparted to our youth is not nearly enough to warrant having him taking away time from other players who need to play. It's taking one step forward and 2 steps back. The playing time for Shierholtz, Lewis, Davis, Ortmeier and whover else they end up with is much more important. If you want to bring him back as a coach, I'm OK with that, but not as a player.

  3. Boof, I think the bigger question about Frandsen is whether he can hit well enough to play in the majors. If you are trying to compete seriously in 2008, yeah, you worry about things like whether Frandsen is a 3B-quality hitter (probably not, but if he hits like he has the past month, yes he is).

    I'm for using 2008 to develop for 2009, however, so I'm OK with Frandsen at 3B, as long as I find out how good a hitter he is, then I can put him at 2B in 2009 or move on to another prospect, we have a zillion speedy 2B prospects coming up soon.

    Meanwhile, while you worry about whether Frandsen is 3B worthy when he has hit and well at every level of the minors, you would rather worry about giving playing time to Davis, Lewis, and Ortmeier, none of whom have hit that well in the minors, even in AAA, until this year, if that. They are the ones we should worry more about whether they are OF worthy, particularly if they play a corner position.

    Ortmeier hit .262/.332/.430/.763 in AAA this season and .244/.288/.389/.677 last season. Lewis hit .286/.359/.537/.896 in AAA this season, .276/.373/.453/.826 last season. Davis hit .321/.390/.459/.849 in AAA this season, .283/.330/.348/.678 in AAA last season.

    Why the leap? It could be that they got better, that could always happen. But that's not probable. It is also possible that they are better hitters in the majors than the minors, but that's not likely either.

    Age and experience is most likely the reason. Rajai is almost 27, in a month or so, so is Lewis in a few months, and Ortmeier will be 27 for most of next season, the age when players go into non-prospect status, so it is very possible that they are that much more experienced than the other players in AAA, and thus doing better because of that advantage, much like how Brian Dallimore and Dan Geise and other older players totally dominate their young counterparts.

    To see how poor a result these players actually had in 2007, we only need to see the stats of this lovely 25 year old player in Fresno/AAA, but you won't be happy: .298/.337/.571/.908 with 33 HR in 503 AB. This prospect's name? Pedro Feliz, and you know how he turned out.

    Meanwhile, Frandsen didn't wait until he was an old prospect to do that, from age 23 to 25, he has hit in AAA, .351/.378/.543/.921 when 23, .307/.361/.444/.805 as 24 year old, .403/.506/.522/1.028 this season as 25 year old. And he's doing it at a position where offense is a premium, not in the OF where offense is necessary, particularly in the corners.

    Besides which, just looking at opening space in the outfield for our prospects to play, based on play this season, who would be worth more in trade, that is, would be most desired in a trade, Winn or Roberts? I think Winn would be more valuable by far, he has hit well all season long, he brought things up a notch in the second half, he can play all OF positions passably, and he is 2 years younger. The only minus is that he is paid $2M more, but better offense and playing positions, particularly since he doesn't have to platoon like Roberts does, should more than make up for that. In addition, he should get a better prospect in return as well.

    And just to be clear, I'm for giving Davis, Lewis, and Ortmeier an opportunity to play a lot in the OF, I want to give them a chance, I especially like Lewis and Ortmeier (I'm hopeful about Davis). But if you are going to worry about Frandsen without worrying at all about the OF, then it appears to me that the worry is misplaced or at minimum, disproportionate.

  4. I agree with Boof's first paragraph. Frandsen has improved leaps and bounds. I was high on him last Winter, but down on him by June/July. But, after getting sent down, he has been real comfortable, played very well and hit very well. As exciting a prospect as Velez is, I don't see him beating out Frandsen. Franny has potential for the future. Durham doesn't. I would like to see Durham go, almost no matter the cost.
    As far as Winn/Roberts. I really don't have a preference, but I think one has to go, which sets up a real nice competition between the survivor of Roberts/Winn, plus Lewis, Schierholtz, Davis. We have to hope that at least one, maybe two of those young guys force there way into the starting lineup - for '09 and beyond.

  5. Re: Winn/Roberts, my preference is that they both go. We are going to be offensively challenged next year, so why not just let the youngsters play and sort out who has the chance to succeed and who doesn't? Playing Robert and/or Winn every day does not accomplish that. I'm also hoping that by moving Lowry, Sanchz, Roberts, Winn, & Durham that we'd end up with 2 almost-ML ready prospects and one not quite ML ready prospect. These kids wuill need a place to play also. All the more reason to get these guys off the team.

  6. frandsen sucks, you're way to optimistic on this one.

  7. "frandsen sucks, you're way to optimistic on this one."

    Wow, that's real instructive. At least Boof gives me something to reason for or against.

    And how is it way too optimistic? I didn't say that Frandsen's going to be good, I said that he has earned a chance to start and see what he can do. It's not like we will have much going in 2008 anyhow, Magowan and Sabean's comments to the contrary, I don't see the Giants competitive enough to make the playoffs, let alone win the World Series.

    The point is that we need to see whether he's good enough to play or not, and he has played good enough thus far to earn that chance.

    Now, if you are saying it would be a waste of time to give him a starting spot, then I would say that it's not realistic to think the Giants can win it all next year, we would be lucky to be competitive, unless we somehow sign a future Hall of Famer who happens to be a free agent this off-season.

    Even then, I think the Giants need to think more about 2009 than 2008, and especially with how poorly Durham hit this season, he's hitting .218/.296/.344/.641, and none of that is even league average for a 2B. Frandsen is hitting .269/.326/.372/.698, which is much better plus he did it playing part-time, once he got regular play he has hit much better.

    So even if he "sucks", at least he isn't sucking as badly as Durham right now. He deserves a chance to show what he can do, he has done it at every level he has played regularly at, lets see if he can do it here too.

    And if he "sucks", as you put it, how so? In what ways?



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