Sunday, November 18, 2007

Giants "Aggressively" Pursues Miguel Cabrera

The Chron reported that the GIants have been more aggressive in pursuing Miguel Cabrera than the Angels or D-gers. This would undoubtedly mean that a top young pitcher would be included in the trade, with the Chron noting Tim Lincecum.

Giants Thoughts

I think the Giants should not pursue Cabrera. Sure, I would love to see Cabrera in our lineup, but at what cost? Undoubtedly, either Cain or Lincecum would have to be traded. That would greatly weaken our rotation. In addition, there has been packages from other teams quoted in the press, and assuming they are roughly accurate, the Giants would have to give up a huge package of Cain or Lincecum, plus Villalona, and others thrown in. I would not be happy giving up Cain, Lincecum, or Villalona.

I realize tha tto get good players like Cabrera at a young age, we would have to trade off our young pitchers at some point. But I think it's too son to trade off our top pitching, unless, that is, the Giants suspect future injury problems with the pitcher traded or that Lincecum will be expensive to sign to a long-term contract that buys out his arbitration years or that they think Bumgarner and/or Alderson would be ready to start in 2009. A rotation of, say, Cain, Zito, Lowry, Sanchez (maybe), and Correia would not be that formidable, requiring a better than average offense. And the addition of Cabrera would not make our offense better than average, rather, we would be lucky still to be average even with him added.

Then, on top of that there are other risks. One is that we would have to include another good prospect like Sanchez or Villalona to the deal. Another is that Cabrera might eat himself out of playing 3B, which is where we need him right now and for the future. More importantly, we only control Cabrera for two seasons and thus the trade would be a huge bust unless we sign him to a long-term, say, 10 year contract (probably at $18-20M per year average) because we would be losing all those years from the players we give up.

Maybe the Giants can put together a package that I could live with but I am prepared to hate it vehemently. I would rather wait a year or two to see how Sosa, Sanchez, Bumgarner, and Alderson turn out. If we have an abundance of young good starters (which we don't have now but is on the cusp of), we could have a great young rotation PLUS be able to trade off two of them for a top young hitter one or two years from now without harming the rotation.

Let's face it: with Cabrera or not, the Giants are not capable of being competitive unless a lot of things go their way in 2008. Zito would have to return to his A's form. Frandsen and Ortmeier will have to hit pretty much what they hit in September for a whole season. Durham and Vizquel will have to return to prior performance. Our young outfielders wuold need to play well as a group. Brian Wilson will have to take the closer role and make it his. And our newest starting pitchers would have to pitch to their potential and not like rookie starters. I can see some of that happening, but not all.

Alternate Scenario

I would like to note now that while the Chron reports strong, aggressive action by the Giants according to their source, the day before the Merc reported that their source said that the Giants do not anticipate being active in the talks for Cabrera. Putting these two together suggests that the Giants thought that the Marlins would insist on Cain or Lincecum, hence they would not be active, but then the Marlins was willing to think outside the box with the Giants and not ask for them.

The only way I can see this scenario happening is if the Giants are willing to take on Dontrelle Willis and his big salary in the deal, a la how the Marlins packaged Lowell into the Beckett deal, and if you look at what they got there, they did not get that much in the deal. Hanley obviously is great, but Anibal Sanchez was not that good a prospect, and the other two weren't that good either. While I think the Angels and D-gers can outdo the Giants in terms of quality prospects and could take on salary, I think the Giants can provide quantity that is still good and would be more willing to take on potentially wasted salary.

And just because the two teams have quality does not mean that they are willing to part with the players the Marlins desire. The names put out by the sportswriters are clearly better than whatever package the Giants could put together, but what if the Marlins are asking for players that the Angels and D-gers are simply unwilling to give up? It has already been reported that the Marlins want Howie Kendricks in a deal for Cabrera (and then they would move Uggla to 3B) and that the Angels will not let him go. I'm not sure who would be a deal breaker for the D-gers excatly, but Andy LaRoche (replacement for Cabrera), James Loney (Marlins are not totally happy with Jacobs), Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley (Marlins really need starting pitching) would probably have to be the set.

How would the Giants appeal to the Marlins over the other teams? First and foremost the Marlins must insist on players that the Angels and D-gers refuse to give up. As noted, for the Angels, Howie Kendricks would clearly be one, perhaps Brandon Wood is also off the table, which means they cannot provide the Marlins a way to replace Cabrera at 3B except for McPherson or Aybar and neither is good enough for a deal for Cabrera, and thus the Marlins would not get much from the next tier of prospects. As noted for the D-gers, LaRoche, Billingsley, Kershaw, and Loney would be the ones, as that would make the next tier of D-gers prospects worse than what the Giants can put together.

Second, the Giants would have to be willing to take on Willis and his expected big salary while the Angels and D-gers would have to be unwilling. That is possible because Willis was horrible last year and the Angels and D-gers need an upgrade in starting pitching and not take on an expensive question mark like Dontrelle. D-Train's K/9 has never been that good, but his BB/9 has risen to bad levels over the past couple of years, and his BABIP has usually been on the high side even though he pitches at a pitcher's park. But with his stats, he can expect to get a very high salary in arbitration for 2008 (he got $6.45M in 2007 so he's looking at $8-10M for 2008) and then he can become a free agent after 2008. If he has another horrible season like 2007, he could conceivably end up a Type C free agent (ranking is based on last two year's performance) and result in no draft pick conpensation.

However, the Angels and D-gers NEED an upgrade in their starting pitching, and as big their payrolls are, even they cannot afford to waste up to $10M on Willis plus take on Cabrera's big salary too. The Giants currently could swallow both of their salaries without much problem. Plus, the Giants might be willing to work out a deal with Willis for a longer term deal because he was a huge Giants fan growing up and might give a discount to get to pitch for his home team and to get some long-term security: if he repeats his 2007, even with his past, it will be hard for any team to give him a contract for more than one year and over $5M. So the Giants could backload the contract and have his salary not be so bad for 2008, plus add in performance bonuses that boosts his salary if he meets them (or have the player be able to opt out of the contract if he meets certain performance criteria).

Lastly, the Giants may not have a lot of top tier prospects, but they can provide a lot of valuable players because they have depth. Lowry is under control, and more importantly in the Marlin's eyes, cheaply (with his contract), for the next three seasons. Sanchez is a top pitching prospect who can start or relieve (the Mets were reportedly willing to part with Carlos Gomez for him - some have described him as Jose Reyes in CF). Throw in Henry Sosa, who had a great season in the minors this year (#2 prospect in Baseball America's ranking for his league), and the Giants can provide the Marlins with 40% of their pitching rotation for the next 4-5 seasons or so.

Then the Giants can also add in valuable position players. Eugenio Velez, recently making Baseball America's Top 20 in the AFL, has impressed with his stellar speed and line-drive ability, and he could possibly start at 2B and allow Uggla to start at 3B, or be a utility player getting significant AB's at 2B, SS, and CF. Then the Giants could also include Rajai Davis or Fred Lewis, who could start in CF, as they had Alfredo Amezaga starting in CF in 2007 and the best thing that can be said is that he doesn't strike out much. Lastly, with Wilson and Walker most probably the Giants setup/closer combo in 2008, we can include Brad Hennessey to the deal. He can start, relieve, or close and he's relatively cheap for 3 seasons. This multi-role is important because while they have a lot of bullpen candidates, they went through multiple closers last year due to injuries, so Hennessey can slide into a number of roles as necessary, and they still need starters, so if the bullpen is OK, Hennessey could be their #5 starter and not embarrass himself there.

Thus the deal would be Cabrera and Willis for Lowry, Sanchez, Sosa, Hennessey, Velez, and Davis/Lewis for sure, plus the Giants could throw in some more prospects, like Patrick Misch (though I would prefer keeping him), Nick Pereira, Kevin Pucetas (Most Spectacular Pitcher in the minors for 2007), John Bowker, Kelvin Pichardo, Clay Timpner, Travis Denker, Pedro Sandoval (they can use catchers), Brian Horwitz, Justin Knoedler, Adam Cowart, Joe Martinez, Waldis Joaquin, Dan Griffin, to help round out the deal.

This would not be wildly different from what Boston traded, Hanley was only rated the 8th best SS prospect at the time of the trade, Anibal was actually ranked higher, relatively, as he was 12th among starting pitchers, and in terms of overall prospects, Sanchez was 40th and Ramirez was 41st (ranking from Minor League Baseball Analyst; Baseball Prospectus had an even lower opinion as Sanchez did not make Baseball Prospectus's Top 50 prospect list and Ramirez only got an honorable mention). Again, I realize that quality-wise, the Giants would not match up to that with an offer of Lowry, Sanchez, Sosa, Hennessey, Velez, Davis/Lewis, et al, but they would certainly improve a number of positions on the current Marlin's roster, with Lowry, Sanchez, Sosa, Hennessey, and Davis/Lewis being an improvement over who they got now, and if they accept Velez as a 2B, then they can move Uggla to 3B (else we might be forced to include Frandsen, but it would break my heart to include him, his life story is too good not to have him start for the Giants, perhaps we could include Ray Durham but throw in his salary as well).

I know it's wild speculation, but I don't see any other scenario where the Giants can compete with the other teams. My bet would be that the D-gers would be the winners because they can include Andy LaRoche in the deal plus have a number of good pitching prospects that the Marlins might accept as they need starters.

1 comment:

  1. I have no problem with a deal for Cabrera, even if it requires a Cain or Lincecum to get it done. However, there must be one requirement....the Giants should insist on a window to negotiate a long term contract with Cabrera prior to the trade execution. This is the only way the trade makes sense for the Giants. It is imperative that Cabrera be tied up for more than 2 years. Hell, I'd give him a 10 year contract approching A-Rod money if that is what it would take to get it done.

    Cabrera is a special talent and is worth having to pay a premium. I am not concerned about the much over-hyped weight issue. Even if it continues to be a problem, he could be moved to 1B or LF where he could be just as effective and valuable to the Giants due to their lack of qulaity players at these positions. Players of Cabrera's talent don't come around every day....especially at his age (24).

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