Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Giants to Trade a Young Pitcher

The SJ Mercury reported today (twice!) that the "Giants officials are coming to the realization they will have to trade at least one of their young pitchers to reconstruct the lineup this winter." The Merc noted that the success of Jonathan Sanchez and Kevin Correia have made the Giants management feel more comfortable about dealing a pitcher. I would give a link except it annoys me that they eventually take the link out of circulation anyway; just have a bookmark to their Giants page and go there when I mention them; or, hmm, maybe I'll just do that from now on! Doh!).

More importantly, the Update side-column on Lowry's Elbow makes the point that "Club officials said they continue to consider Cain and Lincecum untouchable." Amen to that, it is ridiculous for anyone to suggest that we trade either of them. Together, they could potentially be the nucleus of one of the best tandem's in Giants history and if Zito can keep it going, it could be quite an awesome trio as well, for many years to come.

So with Cain and Lincecum off the table, that leaves only one obvious choice to trade, which means nothing will probably happen over the off-season: Lowry. Zito's contract is still too large for anyone to take on unless the Giants pony up cash, and I don't see the Giants doing that. Sanchez could be one, but he's a big strikeout guy and still a bit erratic, so I see another team trying to low-ball the Giants.

Or they won't offer enough to make a big difference: the Mets reportedly offered Carlos Gomez, who some have described as having Jose Reyes potential in CF and he did well in the majors until he was injured. But we already have a OF full of prospects (albeit none as good as Gomez) and two CF already in Roberts and Winn (though Roberts plays excellent defense in LF). But even if we inserted him into the offense, he won't change the offense all by himself and make it suddenly respectable. We need more and Lowry, once he shows that he is healthy in spring training, would be the big draw to get two good position prospects from another team.

2008 Offense

Now Allfrank has been touting our offense for 2008 and, for a lot of it, I can agree with or at least see his logic (though I thought his numbers at Lefty Malo was off). But the way I've been trying to analyze the Giants chances year by year is by whether they can win the NL West crown and thereby make the playoffs.

Trying to see beyond that is futile, I think, even for the Yankees and Red Sox with their money-laden teams, except for trying to make your pitching and defense as bullet-proof as possible. I believe a troika of Cain, Lincecum, and Zito can make for a dominating run through the playoffs, but there is so much randomness in performances that to outright say one year or another that we're going all the way would be incredibly naive and disingenuous.

So each year, to me, is a matter of estimating how good the Giants are and then seeing how that fits against other teams in the NL West. In prior years, I wasn't scared of the other teams, so I felt that even if the Giants were no great shakes themselves, they had a good chance of winning the division still, if they just play to potential and be at or around .500. Then our chances are improved in the playoffs versus the regular season because Bonds would be in the lineup every day instead of sitting out a game or two per week.

But, to me, this season right now both the 'Dres and the D-gers look good enough - again - to be around 90 wins going forward and I know the Giants are not good enough to reach that without serious playing over their heads going forward. Hence why, as Anon noted, I was touting the Giants early in the pre-season but now don't see much going for 2008.

Before the season, I thought Vizquel and Durham were going to continue to be useful parts of the offense and that Klesko would show more than he did. None of that came true and they appear to be career ending type of suckitude, plus Roberts had elbow problems and Aurilia had neck problems. Hence why 2008 is clearly an offense that's going to suck, whereas I thought 2007, based on pre-season assumptions that proved false, would be better. I don't see why Anon can't see that.

The Real World

That's the real world, you make assumptions that appear to be valid, and when things go the wrong way, you adjust your thinking to fit what now appears to be the facts. Some may claim to have "known" that this was going to happen, but only if Durham could have had his normal .800-something OPS, we would be having a much better season right now, perhaps even not be in last place and close to the leaders. Add in a faster acclimation by Zito, Aurilia and Roberts being healthy for the year, and Vizquel hitting .700 OPS, we could have been up there.

But nobody predicted that Durham would have the worse season by far as a regular, heck, it isn't even an average season for anyone. It was a horrible season for anybody, it is bad when his numbers make you pine for Neifi Perez and he was the absolute worse. And nobody saw that happening.

Demanding, Sch-manding

The problem with some sports fans is that they set very high and very unrealistic goals for their team and puff their chests and crow about how "demanding" they are. I've been called optimistic but for the past few years, I've been calling the Giants a .500 team who's only in contention because the competition was so weak. I thought that was realistic based on the assumptions made.

Demanding doesn't make things happen (see Pirates and Royals). Nothing we do makes things happen. However, one can at least enjoy what we can and try to understand moves (or continue to lambaste them Vlad ). I have seen fans who couldn't enjoy the 2000-2004 period - that was about as good a period as there was in SF Giants history, particularly in the past 37 seasons - and I just don't understand that.

I Have Enjoyed This Season

I have enjoyed this season. Not because I'm optimistic, but because we had some nice performances from Lincecum, Cain, and some hope and excitement from Lewis, Ortmeier, Schierholtz, Davis, Frandsen, Sanchez, Misch, Wilson, Correia, and Hennessey. Winn and Molina also had nice seasons, and Roberts after he finally recovered from surgery. And of course, Barry's season of milestones. And given the twists and turns that Zito has gone through, to see him at a 4.41 ERA is pretty good because of his nice run since August started: 9 starts, 10 games, 58.2 IP, 39 hits and 18 BB, with 44 K's and 8 HR (6.0 H/9, 2.8 BB/9, 6.7 K/9, 1.2 HR/9, 2.44 K/BB) with a 2.61 ERA.

Of course, it sucks that we lost and lost a lot. And for all that we might still not get a draft pick not much different from last year's #10: today we have the 8th pick. However, we are only 1 game "ahead" of the 9th pick and is within 2 games of "rising" to the 3rd to 6th pick. So that will change day to day, with so many "vying" for a top 5 pick.

But the way I saw it early season, the way to enjoy the season was to enjoy the pitching staff, because they are the cornerstone of the future, they are the centerpiece. And for the most part, that has been enjoyable. I know the bullpen's not that great, but they did OK overall and there is hope with the way Wilson pitched at the end, plus Correia and Hennessey were steady influences again, much as they were in 2006, at least until Hennessey suddenly lost it all. The rotation was up and down, but how can you not enjoy it overall, looking at what Cain, Lincecum, Lowry did, plus Morris early and Zito late, and of course the turns by Sanchez, Correia, and Misch.

This is How I Do It

I come to baseball to enjoy it and this is the way I do it. You set certain expectations, plus look out for certain players. Was I happy all the time? No, but when you are hoping to have a .500 season, there's a good chance you are going to be a loser that season if some things don't go your way. And this season, there were a lot that didn't go our way, starting with Durham and ending with Linden.

So I don't focus as much on the winning in seasons like this, though I will always enjoy wins, but you pick through the remains of the game and see what positives you can see from it, much like how Lefty picks his PLODAG. We lost a lot of well pitched games, Cain in particular, but I could enjoy that our pitchers were bringing it overall, even if it didn't result in a win. And I enjoyed the nice performances that Lewis, Davis, Ortmeier, and Schierholtz gave in certain games during the season.

And it is encouraging to me that the bullpen was terrible in preventing inherited runners from scoring. Why? Because that means that if we can fix the bullpen with one or two key signings for 2008, plus key additions like Brian Wilson and maybe Tyler Walker, these runners don't score, the pitching rotation has an even better ERA, and the offense can still suck but win more games.

I don't need a World Series championship to enjoy the season, though I would love one that my dear Uncle who has been a fan since 1958 can see and experience. I enjoy what I can, when I can, and if that makes me an optimist, so be it, but to me, an optimist only sees blue skies ahead, and I see plenty of rain in the coffee for at least the next season, perhaps more.

2008 Looks Bad

We had only one player much above an OPS+ of 100 and that was Bonds, again by a mile. As much as I want to see our young OF play, he looks like a lock to be re-signed for 2008. I'm only hoping the Giants only pay him much less, like under $10M, and that it will be an agreed upon retirement tour, with celebrations and minimal play on the part of Bonds: enough so that he can reach his goal of 3,000 hits, but then we play the young players a lot, maybe half the time in LF (Bonds get some extra ABs from DH-ing).

And none of the free agents, including Torii Hunter look to make us that much better, particularly an OF free agent when we still got Roberts and Winn PLUS all the OF prospects. Ideally, we keep Roberts and trade Winn, start Schierholtz in RF and swap in Lewis and Davis in LF and CF with Roberts, depending on the matchups. But since Bonds probably is there, I'm hoping he just plays a light 90-100 game schedule, giving Lewis and Davis a lot of games in the OF, plus a few games in RF, as Schierholtz won't start the whole season.

And I'm encouraged that our young OF are all hitting respectably in their first season of MLB play. They all have OPS+ in the 90's: Lewis 96, Ortmeier 92, Davis 99, Schierholtz 91. Sure, you would rather have the Ryan Braun's and Hunter Pence's or Billy Butler's, but you need to fill your team with some average regular players somewhere in your lineup as well, then you don't have to go to free agency to fill empty spots on your team, you fill from within and maybe pick up the superstar off free agency.

The only free agent I see worth pursuing is A-Rod and we have about zero chance of signing him. Then again, I would have bet that we had zero chance of signing Zito as well and yet here he is. So you never know.

Plus pick up a nice set-up guy, to mix in with Hennessey, Walker, Wilson for the closer and setup roles, and try to solidify the bullpen so that the starters don't have so many runners scored after they leave. That alone could make our team a solid .500 team in 2008, which is still not good enough to compete with the high-80 win teams of the 'Dres and D-gers, but at least that's respectable. You have to start somewhere, and from where we are today, .500 is an improvement.

I Hope You Enjoy 2008 Nonetheless

And set your expectations low for 2008. I'm hoping the Giants chose to make it a rebuilding year and not sign many free agents, just key ones that would help the team in a significant way, like a tipping point, such as an A-Rod or a strong set-up reliever. Ideally you have young players all over: Ort at 1B, Ochoa at SS, Frandsen at 3B, Schierholtz in RF, Davis and Lewis seeing significant time in OF since Roberts platoons and Bonds is old and retiring, and hopefully Winn is traded (nothing against him, but we just need the space and Roberts can teach our speedsters a lot). Plus Molina catching, Durham at 2B (no one is going to take his contract without most of the salary paid for), and Aurilia getting regular starts across the entire infield: 1B, 2B, 3B, SS. But I can see Vizquel also getting a one year retirement tour contract as well, hopefully not more than the $1-2M range and we might be trading one of our young pitchers for a position prospect.

And watch and enjoy the pitching staff. With another year of experience for them, they should only get better in 2008, unless some injury bugaboo hits them, Cain and Lincecum especially. Oh, and hope that we sign Lincecum to a contract that covers him for the rest of his pre-free agent years. I think Wilson will be up the whole year in 2008 and hopefully he can close, but if not, I think Walker or Hennessey can do an adequate job overall and just hold the fort until we do develop a closer internally.

And we will have a ton of young players. We have a lot of young players who will be 27 years old and younger in 2008: Cain, Lincecum, Lowry, Sanchez, Correia, Messenger, probably Brian Wilson, maybe Misch, maybe Threets; Frandsen, Schierholtz, Ortmeier, Davis, probably Lewis. And some who are not very young but not old either: Zito, Hennessey, maybe Taschner, maybe Chulk, and the backup catcher, Alfonzo or Rodriguez. So the team is changing its stripes and slowly becoming younger. But I think that's a pretty good job of getting young while also trying to win with Bonds around the past three seasons.

2008 might not be a winning season but I look forward to enjoying it, particularly the young pitchers. Hopefully you will too.

17 comments:

  1. Hello Martin. Yes, I am looking forward to '08 and to this Winter. It is possible this Winter will be frustrating for many fans as there may well be very little activity out of the Giants. I think that would be good. By and large I am also in favor of going very sparingly in the FA market and p[laying many of our young players next year. I don't see much that pursuades me that will happen - particularly the sparing playing time they are getting this month.
    But, to '08.
    The OF: My major hope is that we don't bring in any FA OFs (nor Burrells, A Jones, T Hunter, et al). I can live with any cobination of our present OF - except if the usual starting OF is Bonds/Roberts/Winn. While they are certainly adequate - and above average as a group - I want to see lots of Davis, Lewis, Schierholtz. I am fine either way with Bonds. I would prefer to see one of Winn or Roberts traded, but don't have a strong preference. I understand your preference for Roberts, but there is also a good case to be made for Winn. I just think, for developmental purposes, we should trade at least one of them.
    Catcher: We're set
    The IF: This is the cause for our losing, last place season. As a group they were atrocious. It is easy to blame age, I'm just not ready to jump at that simple explanation. Plenty of other 30 and 40 something guys have produced very, very well around the league, even on our own team. So, I think it is possible that Aurilia, Durham, and Omar could all have the year (in '08) that they were expected to have in '07. I'm not counting on it. So, for solutions:
    1b: Ortmeier, w/ Aurilia as backup. I don't agree with the Ort critics who say he'll never be an impact palyer. He's had several impact plays this Sept while learning a new and very difficult position. Before I pushed him to the side I would want one hell of a prospect for 1b.
    2b: We're not at all set here and would look for a serrious upgrade. We may be forced to bring Durham back, but I would move him at all costs just to create room on the 40 and 25 man rosters. Failing a big trade, I would look to Frandsen and/or Velez, tho I am well aware that Velez has severe defensive liabilities. I am heartened to hear the staff is working very hard with his D at 2b this month.
    3b: We have to face the fact we have nothing in the system other than the Feliz/Aurilia tandem. I read with some interest the story on the Giants web site where the hitting coach is talking about improvements in Feliz's approach. I would not want to encumber the team with a long term contract and lose draft picks just to pick up another FA 3bman who is only 1 or 2 games better in Vorp than Feliz. And I would not want to trade pitching for adecent prospect. If we traded pitching I would want it to be for at least a league average young 3bman with excellent potential.
    SS: Another tough one. I think it is reasonable to expect Omar to hit 255-265 next year (he did hit 260 and 290 in June and July). We may have no choice but to risk it. I know nothing about Ochoa. I pointed out he only had 179 ABs at Frseno but you told me he was injured. I have read no scouting report, and know nothing about his skill set.
    All of these positions could use a serious upgrade. As I said, I'd like to see Ort and Frandsen/Velez on the right side. I would like to see us get seriously upgraded on the left side.

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  2. Martin and Al,

    As I have said in McCoven, I am not in favor of trading any pitching for offense. I just don't think we will get the return needed to justify the trade. I think we have too many pitching questions (Lowry's elbow, Sanchez's command, Misch's inexperience) to make the bet that we will not need all three options in 2008. I also think these questions are the reasons we will not get enough in return if we do trade one of them.

    I also am not in favor of spending any of our free agent money on the bullpen. Haven't we learned yet that that this dollar risk on relievers is rarely worth the performance results? Let our young arms continue to develope and mature. I believe they will collectively become an effective bullpen if we stick with them.

    This takes us back to the offense. Here I am against re-signing any of our free agents to be including Mr Bonds. We need all of the plate appearances that Bonds would consume for the continuing development of our young major league ready outfielders (Schierholt, Davis, and Lewis). I think it is unlikely that we will be able to trade either Roberts or Winn because their are just too many Free Agent alternates available to those who might be interested that will not cost them any prospect talent in return. Therefore we can not plan on giving their plate appearances to our your outfielders we can only plan on giving Barry's plate appearances to our young outfielders.

    Finally, I agree that the infield in the area that needs the most improvement and has the fewest in house options. Here I do not see trades as being the solution. I think our trade bait has too many questions to yield the needed help. I see free agency as the only viable option here and I disagree that A-Rod would avoid the Giants. I think A-Rod's desire to be loved would move him in the direction of the Giants. I think A-Rod's pride would lead him to believe he can solve the Giants offensive woes. I don't think A-Rod would be scared off at all by AT&T Park because it is really quite nutural for right handed power and only really supresses left handed power.

    What I believe the Giants need to do (and I fully expect A-Rod to opt out from the Yankees) is spend $40M/year to sign both A-Rod to play SS and Lowell to play 3B.

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  3. giantsrainman, I'm with you on that one. I agree, pitching should be not traded unless we are overwhelmed with two good position prospects for our bounty, in this case, I was touting Lowry, but if someone offered two good position prospects for Sanchez, I would be OK as well.

    But I agree with your point, I don't think anyone will offer two good position players for Lowry; I just wanted to set the price, but yeah, I don't expect anyone to actually meet it.

    Young players are always in question, but if we are not competing in 2008, but rather re-building, then it won't matter much if we have to bring up a AAAA starter and give him a shot.

    But I know your stance is that we can compete in 2008; I disagree, mainly because competitiveness revolves around A-Rod and I don't think we can sign A-Rod, and even if we do sign him, by the time we sign him, Lowell would not be available. But there is no use to signing Lowell first if we don't also get A-Rod and there's no way to guarantee that unless Boras is Lowell's agent too (is he?).

    I'm OK if we don't spend money on the bullpen and just go with our young guys, I like our young guys. I just thought that would be a high leverage way to greatly improve the team, and perhaps get us back to .500, without spending a lot of money ($3-5M for 3 years maybe).

    I'm OK with letting Bonds go, but given the Giants past record, I can see them signing him for his "Final Year Tour (tm)" and sell a lot of t-shirts. I'm just hoping it will be (relatively) cheap at under $10M and that they purposefully limit his playing time so that Davis and Lewis get significant playing time too.

    About Winn, I can see your point, but players of Winn's ilk is getting around $10M per year for 5 years right now, and he's only getting $8M per year for the next two years. So a team might rather go for a shorter, cheaper contract with Winn, and it's not like the Giants would want a good prospect in return, we could take a below AA MI prospect just to be rid of the contract.

    In any case, I agree that we need to open space for Lewis, Davis, and Schierholtz to play.

    About A-Rod, I think he's a greedy mercenary (and really, any Boras client is) and he's going to the team ponying up the most money. I see the Angel's billionaire falling over himself to sign A-Rod, a Latino star, to add to his stable of Latino stars, Vlad, Colon, Cabrera, etc. Not sure where they will play him, but Figgins can play everywhere so maybe 3B, shifting Figgins to another position again.

    If the Giants can sign A-Rod and Lowell, then I can buy your storyline, but while I expect A-Rod to opt out, I don't expect us to outbid the Angels (but hopefully we make them pay through the nose).

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  4. Martin,

    I am not sure you have got the right LA team for the number one competator for A-Rod. I also think the Angels would have a big problem with Vlad (he would want a simular extention) if they paid A-Rod $30M/yr so I just do see the Angels going after A-Rod.

    If I am right and the Dodgers are the primary competition for A-Rod then frankly we have no choice in my mind but to win the biding. Giants fans (this time season ticket holders not just the "lunatic fringe") will head for the exits in mass if we pass on A-Rod like we passed on Vlad under these circumstances.

    I do not know who Lowell's agent is. But, I do know that most teams see A-Rod at 3B (though I want him at SS) so I think he has to exit the market for the market to mature for Lowell. This is why I think we can get both. I think the Dodgers will not enter the Lowell market after losing A-Rod (they do have an in house option in LaRoche).

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  5. I ment "don't see the Angels going after A-Rod". Damm, I need to proof read better before I post.

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  6. Allfrank, I agree with you for the most part. Don't see much free agent activity, other than Bonds. If you believe in developmental purposes, then you must retain Roberts, look at what an average type of player with speed can do with good technique! If he can teach that to our young guys, and particularly to our SB instructor (I think it's Darren Lewis), think how much more effective our speedsters in our system will be.

    The point is not that age results in poor performance - that's what I've been arguing with others on for a long time, just because players are old does not mean they automatically will have a poor performance - but that once poor performance occurs at an advanced age, the odds favor that they are on the slippery slope to retirement. Bonds had a great performances in his 40's but he's unique.

    Vizquel was a plus offensive threat previously at SS, but he really stumbled this year, falling to the OPS of when he was a young player. That's a pretty big fall. His OPS+ was only this low in his rookie season. He's done offensively, in my opinion, and he's done nothing lately to change my mind.

    I have a little more hope that Durham might have a bounce back since he is "only" 35 years old. Mays, for example, had a steep drop when he was 36 and rebounded but never hit the heights he had hit before. So perhaps Durham could hit in the mid-to-high 700 OPS next year, higher than this year, but lower than his career would suggest, so I don't think he's tradeable unless we give up a LOT of his salary to the other team, even if he hits well in spring training, unless a team loses their 2B near the end of spring training and really needs Durham. I think Frandsen could do what Durham can do (or close enough), and for much less money.

    I'm also hoping that, while no injury has been noted for Durham, his groin problem from earlier in the season could have caused his poor performance, groin problems don't usually go away that easily and quickly, it could take to next season to heal properly.

    About Velez, frankly, if he hasn't really learned yet to play good defense, I don't see why he would necessarily suddenly learn.

    About 3B, if we are just focused on re-building and development, I would just play Frandsen there and live with some poor to average defense there just to get him ABs, assuming we are stuck with Durham. Else, who are we going to play at 3B?

    For Omar (or anyone really), you should be looking at his OPS than his BA for overall offensive performance. He hit for average those months but his walks were down leading to a slightly below average OBP most months, and a his subpar SLG was even more subpar.

    He is probably tolerable offensively if we bat him 8th, but he has been seeing ABs at 2nd as well, which I think is just plain wrong.

    I still stand on my position that we should rebuild in 2008 and only sign free agents who will make a big difference in 2009-2012 timeframe. To me, only A-Rod fits that description. If we can get good position prospects for any of our pitchers not named Cain or Lincecum, then we should do it, else we sit on our bounty until a team gets desperate enough to give us that.

    I would even be OK with trading Lowry AND Sanchez given the right prospects. Sure Misch is untested, but he was very dominating in AAA and it wasn't because of his fastball. And Correia should be fine as a starter, he did pretty well as a reliever, so he couldn't be any worse than any other team's #4 starter, which are normally in the 5.00 ERA range. Plus, we have prospects rising through the system who could be ready soon sometime in 2008, Blackley maybe, or even Matt Kinney, not a prospect, but not that old either. Or perhaps Nick Pereira could shine in AAA next season and be brought up mid-year.

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  7. It's OK giantsrainman, I understood what you meant.

    I disagree. Vlad was not all about the money before, so I don't see why he would suddenly demand a big extension.

    On the other hand, if he makes a big enough stink, the Angels have plenty of OF options, particularly if A-Rod plays 3B, then Figgins could go back into the OF, or perhaps Willits will continue to play well. So they could conceivable trade him away and get some pitching in return if they wanted, with A-Rod's big bat more than easily replacing Vlad's bat, plus Vlad's defense was never that good either, from what I heard from Expo fans.

    I can see the D-gers getting into the bidding and I agree that we cannot let them beat us to A-Rod. It was bad enough losing Vlad to the Angels, but to lose A-Rod to the D-gers, hell would break loose.

    Oh, Lowell's agents are the Levinson Brothers, so no link-up is possible.

    I would stick A-Rod at SS too, and that, to me, would be the Giants main attraction to him, a differentiator.

    Hey, I hope he joins, but I have to stick to my position that I'll believe it when I see it. Passing on Vlad hurt me too much to get my hopes up again like that, I really thought we would have the edge to get him, but I was wrong apparently.

    Not all teams needing a 3B can pony up $30M this season, though I guess they could get creative. But I think some don't want to commit so much to A-Rod and Lowell will be a relative bargain, particularly if everyone else is fixated on A-Rod.

    I like LaRoche, but even beyond him, what would the D-gers do with Nomar then? Loney appears fixed at 1B now, and Furcal at SS, do they move him to 2B and replace Kent there (I think he's a free agent if the D-gers opt out on him).

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  8. Martin,

    I will conceed that signing A-Rod is no sure thing and the probability of getting him is not that high. This does indeed mean we need to be prepared to pursue other options if this "Option 1" does not work out. Under these circumstances I would then agree to trade some pitching not named Lincecum or Cain. I would seek to do a couple deals like the deal that got us Snow from the Angels. I would target SS and 3B. This would indeed put us into a two year plan where we will need to add a big bat and maybe a big arm too by free agency in the 2008/9 offseason. What I don't think we will be able to do is try and turn Lowry into 1996/7 Williams to get a 1996/7 Kent and Vizcaino This would take a Cain or Lincecum not a Lowry.

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  9. Ideally....... the Giants move both Lowry & Sanchez and end up with 3 quality prospects. They don't resign Bonds and use that money to eat the rest of Roberts, Winn, & Durham's contracts and move them off the team in order for the youngsters to play. They commit to playing the youngsters and not some Bochyesque lineup that finds Aurilia, Feliz, etc. in the lineup every day. They find some nuggets (young ones) to fill the gaping holes in the bullpen. They sign A-Rod to build the next great Giant team around and install him at SS. They draft a real quality hitter with their first round draft pick, not a project (think Ryan Braun, for example).

    POOF.........dream over.

    Realistically......3 quality prospects for Lowry & Sanchez probably is a stretch. Magowan can't resist the Bonds Jones that he has and forces Sabean to re-sign him. Signing Bonds, for probably too much money, prevents us from moving the awful contracts of Roberts, Winn & Durham. Bochy can't make himself write the names of Ortmeier, Schierholtz, Frandsen, etc. on the lineup card every day. Of course, A-Rod wants nothing to do with a rebuilding project and takes the $600 zillion dollars that either the Yankees or the Red Sox throw at him. The Giants sign Vizquel & Feliz for another year. They draft another high school pitcher in the first round with a funky delivery.

    It was nice to dream, though.

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  10. Ryan Braun was picked 5th in the draft. If you want the Giants to not pick a project, but a real quality hitter, then they need a Top 5 draft pick or have a quality hitter fall to them at a later pick.

    So that's like telling a baby infant that it should go potty in a toilet, then getting mad at him when he doesn't. If Sabean doesn't have a #5 draft pick or better, he's probably not getting real quality hitter with their first round draft pick. The sure thing hitters in 2007 were gone when Wieters got drafted; he was my hope of the Giants getting a hitter and most draft pundits had him falling to the Giants because of the Boras factor, but unfortunately the Orioles screwed that up.

    Yankees have already made it clear that if A-Rod opts out, they will not pursue him because he would cost too much, because right now the Rangers are helping out. Now, they could change course and decide to try to sign him anyway, but that would be huge egg on their face to change course when they publicly made a point, multiple times, that they will not pursue him.

    Red Sox I can buy, except that they have a pretty high payroll, and I'm only aware of Lowell's contract ending. Are there others?

    Lincecum had a funky delivery and he's turned out pretty well. You have to admit that the Giants appear to know what they are doing with pitchers, so to criticize on their drafting a pitcher is being petty and argumentative.

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  11. Some interesting comments. I don't feel stongly one way or the other with A-Rod. But, it does seem we have only 3 directions to take for '08. One, obviously, is to stand pat, in some form or another. By this I mean we could bring back 2-4 of Durham, Omar, Feliz, Aurilia (I think Ort supplants Klesko).
    The second option would be to go all (or mostly) young, either with or without trading any pitching. For tarters, we have Frandsen and Ort. If any of Ochoa, Velez, Figueroa, are in the plans, this is nearly done and could be supplemented with a one for one trade, pitcher for MIF.
    The last is to bring in 1 or 2 FAs, and, as you've both noted, it doesn't make sense to go this route unless A-Rod is part of it. Despite the cost, I don't see how we are particularly hurt if we trot out Ort/Frandsen/Lowell/A-Rod as an IF. It just seems unlikely. I'm kind of with Martin, I'll believe it when I see it. I probably wouldn't be surprised to see them sign just Lowell (altho this doesn't make the most sense to me), to offset the youth, lack of power from Ort/Franny/Ochoa.

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  12. I wasn't being argumentative or critical. I was just stating what I thought would be ideal and what I thought would more probably happen given recent history. Take it for what it's worth.

    Oh, and by the way, # 5 might still happen. You never know.

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  13. Just curious, but why only focus on the Dodgers and Pads going forward. It doesn't seem a stretch to see them as the 3rd and 4th place teams next year. Indeed, it's looking more and more like the team to fear is more and more the Rox, who this year are featuring probably a top 2 finish in the ROY, MVP, and Cy Young races.

    Also, cherry picking alert, while Ryan was indeed the #5 pick, in that same draft Tulowitski was #7, Cameron Maybin #10, Jay Bruce #12, Jacoby Ellsbury #23, Matt Garza #25, Colby Rasmus #28, Taylor Bucholz a supplementary pick. Of course, that was a stacked draft and in general it's better to be high than not, but there's plenty of value there if you know where to look. Notable that the defending World Champs going into draft picked 3 players who have already made major league contributions less than two years later as they drive for another championship. It can be done.

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  14. Because the D-gers and 'Dres have been successful for a while now and have young stars who look ready to lead the way (Martin, Loney, Kemp; A-Gon, Peavy, Young) plus some soon (LaRoche, Kershaw; Antonelli, maybe Kouzmanov).

    The Rox? Please, they are up and down, up and down, but never up enough. This is their first year of putting together. They have a nice crop of young players. But if you look at their road numbers, you see that their hitters are not all that good. Only Holliday and Helton are above average still on the road. Hawpe, Atkins, and Tulowitzki are only OK on the road, OPS in the 700's, which is about average for their positions, maybe a little above average, suggesting a huge Coors effect.

    And Helton has not been the Helton of old for a number of years now. Sure he hits well still, but he is not that much better than the average 1B, and is not a great 1B hitter, though, as I noted above, he is still good.

    And who's winning the Cy Young on their roster? Aaron Cook, 4.12 ERA? Jeff Francis, 4.25 ERA but shiny 16-8 record that voters like? Or do you somehow think that Manny Corpas or Brian Fuentes will win the Cy Young? I don't think so.

    I was not cherry picking, the commenter gave my Ryan Braun as an example. Long timer readers know that I've studied the draft picks over an extended time period and found that the highest odds of finding a good player rests in the first five overall picks. When the picks get into the 20 range, the odds of a team actually GETTING a good player is about 11%.

    That was a pretty good draft year. I would like to note first that people thought that the A's picked pretty well with Crosby his first year but his stock is not so shiny anymore. All the players you mentioned are very good prospects. Unfortunately, some of them will probably find the MLB to be too tough and some of the rest will find that they cannot adjust enough to consistently be good.

    Also, you could be cherry picking as well. The odds I list is for the draft in general. Obviously, some years are better than others. To have as bad an odds of 11% (which essentially means only one of the picks from 20-30 will become a good major leaguer), there will be years where you have a lot, and years that are a shutout. It all averages over time.

    Just because a team picked some players one year and did well with them does not mean anything unless they can do it consistently.

    If they can't do it consistently, then it is just luck. It would be same as congratulating a monkey who tossed a dart into the newspaper and selected, say, Google on its first trading day, and saying what a smart investor the monkey is.

    Or how's this for an example: it would be like celebrating how smart the captain of the fishing boat is when he catches a lot of fish in a good year, but then conveniently forgeting to note how poor the catches were in other years.

    If you don't think this is true, compile the data like I did (I compiled 1,800 draft picks and categorized each of them, plus doublechecked a number of them) and give me some stats that I can understand then.

    Lastly, what's this about the World Champs? The World Champs are the Cardinals. For one thing, the only thing they are driving for is a ticket home after the season ends: they have lost 8 of 10, falling to 8.5 games back with 10 games left to play. They are done.

    And I've gone through their draft picks on Baseball-reference.com and the first draftee who has done anything at the major league level is Anthony Reyes, back more than two years, as he was drafted in 2003. So which team are you touting?

    And again, the point is not that it can be done. There are many things in the world that can be done - once. The point is whether this is a repeatable event if you know what you are doing.

    By touting how good they were by selecting "3 players who have already made major league contributions less than two years later" does not mean that they exhibited any particular skill, other than luck, unless they can repeat each year. I see that someone picked all the MegaMillions numbers and won hundreds of millions of dollars; should I hold you to that standard?

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  15. Oh, forgot about the D-backs. Right now, as nice a group of prospect hitters they have, they are all hitting way below average for a number of them, and the rest are right around average. Yawn!

    Their success this year appears to be tied to the bullpen, Webb, and Brynes. However, bullpen success is often tied to small sampling because of the limited innings they throw.

    So it's like Missouri, the Show Me state. If the bullpen can continue to do well next year, then I can buy that they are legit contenders. But one good year don't mean diddley to me, particularly when their RS and RA indicates that they should be more around .500 than where they are now, their rotation is not that solid overall, and their hitters are below average for the most part. If the hitters start showing their potential, I would take them more seriously, but just because they are good prospects does not mean that they will eventually do well. Particularly the ones who are suffering the most, like their CF.

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  16. Actually I meant I was going to cherry pick that draft. Oh, and yeah, Jeff Francis will get a lot of Cy Young votes. I believe Peavy is going to win it, but I won't be the least bit surprised if Francis ends up 3rd or 2nd. Holliday will end up probably 2nd or 3rd in the MVP. Tulo's almost certainly 2nd in the ROY.

    I've read your ideas on the draft many times and I just disagree with the conclusions you draw from them. For two reasons, one you're taking an average of all organization's values and clearly some are just better than others. Since sports is ruthlessly competitive looking at the failures of the poorly run organizations isn't really of value or insight. Second, and more important, we're talking about a huge reward ratio here. Yes, most draft picks flame out -- but the reward to an organization that hits them right is incalculable. That's like free production. It seems to me that you're drawing a conclusion that's comparable to this analogy: R&D in the pharmaceuticals industry takes up 100s of millions of dollars every year. The vast majority of those dollars will never return a penny to their company. But the one that does will return billions. Your conclusion seems to me to be that, since most dollars in R&D don't pay off, it's better not to spend them. Whereas the obvious conclusion that successful pharmaceutical companies reach is -- spend more and spend smart.

    Oh, and, of course I meant Clay Bucholz -- stupid brain.

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  17. OK, that's better, we can have a discussion so I can explain further.

    I've never said that it's better not to spend the money. I've said that it won't kill the farm system to skip it once or twice, three times max. It's like not buying a lottery ticket for the next drawing when you bought tickets for all the others before: sure you might have blew your chance at a winner, but almost 90% of the time (for the baseball draft) you just passed on a draftee who is not good: maybe average/useful, most most likely will never see a major league locker.

    I'm totally on board with the draft, that's your team's lottery ticket for a big name player. I'm also for more spending on scouting Latin America and Japan, plus throw in China, I think that's the next big area of future prospects.

    What I'm against is the idea that you can expect a team to rebuild from the draft when you are winning. The odds are totally stacked against that team.

    I've never checked any specific team's draft record, besides the Giants, Yankees, Braves, and A's, but I doubt that there is any team that is significantly above the mean in terms of drafting players and finding good players.

    People think Sabean is stupid, but, if you understand statistics, I've been meaning to work out the expected value of the drafts Sabean has worked on, and comparing what he accomplished against that expected value. With successes like Cain, Lowry, and Lincecum, while mainly having only 20+ overall 1st round draft picks, I think that Sabean is ahead of the game, and if Sanchez can reach his potential or Schierholtz can continue to develop, Sabean could be significantly ahead of the game, even with busts like Jerome Williams, Kurt Ainsworth, and Jesse Foppert, who all looked like they would be good at one time.

    Red Sox: money can make up for a lot of mistakes and help you keep your organization willing in spite of the odds against you with the draft (meaning internationally; they had two key contributors from Japan - when are the Giants going to get one for the bullpen???). Yes, they did pretty well with their 2005 draft with Ellsbury, Bucholz, and Hansen. They got Pedroia in 2004 and Cla Meredith. In 2003, they got Papelbon plus Murton (Cubs OF) who they traded. 2002 only Jon Lester. 2001, they got Kelly Shoppach and Kevin Youkilis.

    But who would anyone objectively consider to be "good" yet? Ellsbury has promise, but to say he's good is a bit premature still I think. Buchholz I would call good. Pedroia I would not call good yet, but he's certainly a nice ballplayer.

    But what we are talking about is good players. Out of all these ballplayers, I would say that Papelbon and Buchholz appear to be good, which is a good haul. The other guys are nice complementary players with some nice skills, but I don't think I would call them good yet, though Youkilis looks like he's finally breaking through this season. I would want to see another season before I would say that he's good.

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