Friday, November 09, 2007

I Will Have Some of What Dave Is Smoking

I was listening to KNBR after lunchtime, driving home, and Fitz of Fitz and Brooks was on the air, talking with columnist Dave Del Grande, who I believe writes for the Contra Costa Times. Fitz asked what one move Dave would do if he were the Giants GM and he said that he would trade one of Cain or Lincecum to get two good bats to hit in the middle of the lineup for the Giants, because the offense needs that. He then gave an example, stating that we could trade Lincecum to the Rays for Delmon Young and either B.J. Upton or Carl Crawford.

I almost died laughing while driving my manual Civic on the freeway: fans always get pooh-poohed by the talk show hosts when they provide outrageous trades ("yeah, we could trade Pedro Feliz and Ryan Klesko AND Randy Winn and they will give us Johan Santana"), but Fitz didn't react at all to that outrageous trade. There is no way the Rays are giving up Young AND either Upton or Crawford. We probably could get one of them plus a nice but still developing prospect, but not what was suggested.

First Off, We Need a 3B

Plus, if we are going to trade for anyone, we are getting a 3B at minimum, in return. We have a good set of OF, both vets and prospects, so we don't need to pick up another, at least not until we traded off some of them to clear out space, else you are dealing from a position of weakness and the offers will be less than you could have gotten for them.

If we are giving up Lincecum, we should be getting Evan Longoria plus one of their MI/SS prospects coming up (they would want to keep Reid Brignac, so give us Ben Zobrist or Brendan Harris), plus a struggling formerly high prospect, like Joel Guzman, a former D-gers bonus baby (I think he got as much as Villalona got, but years ago) who had a lousy first season in AAA in 2007 (.689 OPS), can play 1B and 3B, lots of power potential but have only showed average power in the minors; he'll only be 23 for the 2008 season though, and/or Edwin Jackson, another former D-ger wunderkin gone bad.

Lincecum is a top talent so that's why we get Longoria in exchange, as he is a top talent too. But Ace pitchers are very hard to find and he has almost a full year of proven MLB experience while Longoria is good but still unproven (much like Kouzmanoff was good but unproven) so they have to give us Zobrist or Harris, one of two OK MI/SS prospects, not top line, but we only want an adequate replacement for Vizquel, plus a little high risk/high reward in Guzman and/or Jackson. I think that would be fair, though again I must state that I would not agree with Lincecum.

Proven is Better, He Sez

Dave also did the Sabean thing that fans and columnists deride and said that he chose to trade Lincecum because Cain is more proven. I will say right off that I don't know Dave's exact stance, but from my reading across the Bay Area, I don't think that there is one columnist around who thinks that Sabean should still be GM, or at least questions whether he's the right man for the job. And neither of them saw the irony that Dave was making his choice based on Cain's proven performance.

Much as I love Cain and think he's going to be an ace and the anchor of a rotation for years, I would keep Lincecum in a heartbeat if forced to chose between the two. Lincecum dominated the minors. Cain did nicely but struggled with his control while down there. Admittedly, Cain was a couple years younger than Lincecum when both were in the minors, but still, I think that Lincecum is the better pitcher, he just have better overall stuff, from what I have read and heard about the two of them.

Nyet: No Tradee LinceCain

Still, I cannot agree with trading either of them. Trading them is a similar to the dog trying to get the bone in the water, but ending up losing the bone in the water: you lose what you had before, trying to get something illusionary. We have a great situation with our pitching rotation with Cain and Lincecum in our rotation: two starters who can totally dominate the other team, both in keeping hits (and thus runners) down plus striking out a lot of batters.

It is idiocy to suggest that we trade off either one. If trading one of them would suddenly make our offense above average, then I would be for it, but even if we added Delmon Young and Carl Crawford to the team for Lincecum, we still have nothing at 3B (with the ugly thought that Feliz might return - <>) and 1B will be unproven, as well as 2B, with either Durham or Frandsen there, plus we will have an offensive sinkhole at SS again with the return of Omar Vizquel, who at age 41 for next season, can not be expected to have a rebound year, only players like Ted Williams can do that, and Omar, you are no Teddyball.

Omar Signing

Speaking of Omar, here is the official announcement of his signing. He is getting $5.0M in 2008 with a $5.2M team option for 2009 that vests to a contract under certain performance conditions (reportedly reaching 140 games played), else he gets a $0.3M buyout, making his total contract value $5.3M. The Giants are hoping that Emmanuel Burris or Brian Bocock ("their top shortstop prospects") will be ready to take over the SS position then.

Unfortunately, I read somewhere that Burris did not look good this season, and Bocock was not a top prospect last year, so it looks like of bleak going forward unless we can pick up a good SS prospect with our #5 draft pick in 2008. Don't know who is available though.

3B Is Next

In the press conference, Sabean noted that with Feliz going into free agency, he will concentrate on getting a 3B next, probably by trade. Surprisingly, Feliz has received "quite a bit of action" from teams seeking a third baseman, according to Sabes. In addition, apparently Feliz is looking for deal that could extend into a third year, which I interpreted to mean a 2 year contract with a 3rd year option.

Sabean then basically said that the Giants will not pursue Feliz "at this time" meaning that if they get desperate, they might re-open negotiations. Lets hope they don't get desperate. Though by that time, Feliz might be desperate too, and if the Giants really wanted to, they could start Aurilia at 3B, if push comes to shove.

He said that trade is the most probable avenue for getting a 3B. The article lists quite a number of 3B who might be available. The ones who seem most possible to me are Scott Rolen (feuding with manager, oft-injured, down year 2007, lots of $ for next 3 years), Troy Glaus (Toronto might want to clear out salary, play Russ Adams there instead and use money to get free agent), Akinori Iwamura (The Rays have the aforementioned Evan Longoria ready to move up; he could move to 2B, but they might want to play Harris there instead and flip Aki for prospects).

Ay, What About A-Rod?

The "A" word was mentioned (A-Rod) and the Giants appear to be taking the same stance as last year with Barry Zito: they will stay aside and observe what is happening, and reading between the lines, gauge whether A-Rod is truly interested or just using the Giants for leverage. The article noted that Sabean did not indicate his interest, but since it is known that Sabean and the Giants tried to initiate a trade with the Yankees for A-Rod a while back, I think it is pretty clear that the Giants (meaning ownership) are interested, but are waiting to see how the scrum gathering around A-Rod works out.

Lincecum Is Basically Unavailable, OK?

Lincecum was also brought up. While this writer noted that it was a qualified no-trade statement, I think it was pretty clear that Sabean is not looking to trade him, but, when you are one of the worse teams in baseball, you have to listen to every trade overture initiated by other teams for Lincecum. What Sabean said: "I am in no position to think that there's a trade out there that we would make to want to give up Lincecum. But when you finish 20 games below .500 and you're in last place, you have to listen."

So I think the author is being picky here. You never say never: if the Rays offered, say, Scott Kazmir, James Shield, Delmon Young, Carl Crawford, and Reid Brignac for Tim Lincecum, of course you trade Lincecum, but you also know that this trade would never happen in a million billion googol years. But for all intents and purposes, the Giants are not going to trade Lincecum unless they are overwhelmed.

People Don't Understand Management

That's what this writer and people I see posting on MCC always miss: Sabean cannot put everything out on the table as far as his intentions are because then the other side of the negotiating table will use that information against you. Sabean represents management, and you cannot go out there and say "Feliz is full of crap if he thinks he can get 3 years from someone", that's something you can do if you are anonymously posting your thoughts at your nearest blog.

When you do that, you can say whatever you want without consequence to yourself, so you get these "brave" souls who can rip you a new one with their rude and brutal comments, pretend that they didn't say something (they forget that the internet has a perfect memory), act like they know it all, and talk down to you like they are some high and mighty person.

You have to say something like what Sabean says when you are management, you never know when you are forced by circumstances to come back with hat in hand to try to sign the person you just disrepected openly. That will cost you, and you won't look good in the ownership's eye then.

As a public representative of the team, you are forced to say pabulum, give bland generic statements, because you don't want anything you say to come back to you, unless, that is, you decided once and for all on something, and then you can say "he's not coming back" with repercussions. I've made fun of that before, on MCC, but I know it's a dance that any public representative has to dance, that is, if you still want your job.

8 comments:

  1. Nice article, Martin. I also agree you don't trade Cain or Lincecum unless you get an allstar and a near allstar in return. The whole idea of drafting pitching with an eye to trading the surplus is, I think, to keep the premium pitchers, the #1s and 2s - then trade your surplus of 3,4,5s.
    I do hope we are settled in the OF, C, SS, and 2b going into the Winter. That only leaves 2 positions to worry about. I am not as worried about 1b, there seem to be quite a few possibilities there, starting with, perhaps, an Ort/Aurilia platoon. I am not opposed to parading thru our minor leaguers to see if somebody sticks (the throw it against the wall theory). Given where we are, we can afford to give Niekro, Ort, Ishi, and whoever other AAAA guys we have a shot.
    I don't think we can be so reckless at 3b, altho there are few good options and no great ones. With his weight problems and reported attitude problems, I do not see Cabrera as a great, anchor type option. I definitely would not trade either Cain or Lincecum for him, just based on attitude. And I expect that is what it would take. ARod at $30 mil would be OK, but I would have rather had him at SS and still try to get decent production out of 3b. Anything over $30 mil, tho and I don't want him. I will pass on Rolen, tho I agree that Rolen for Durham is better for us than having Durham, regardless how much he bounces back. My preference would be that we take a shot at getting the next Kouzmanoff, or the next Lowell or Rolen - a young guy would will develop into an above average 3b, tho not likely an all star.
    Despite our poor bull pen performance last year, I do think we have quite a lot of pitching to trade - even if it weakens us for '08 (as I am hopeful one of Alderson or Bumgarner will be ready by '09). And I think we have a fair number of guys who could be advanced to the major leagues even tho they are not quite ready.

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  2. I spent a fair amount of time looking into potential solutions at 3b. It wasn't a completely thorough assessemnt, more to give myself some general knowledge. What struck me is how few options there are. And virtually every option has huge downsides. ARod, for example is extremely expensive and has "issues." Cabrera definitely has issues and is rather poor in the field.
    I took a look at AAA players, and, boy, there is very little there. Many teams are playing 31+ year old AAAA guys (much like the Giants Leone). On the theory that it is pretty unlikely we make such a trade within the division, I omitted the NL west (altho Az and LA seem to each have multiple, desireable prospects - SD and Colo, except for Ian Stewart, don't have anything).
    If you skip Cody Ransom and Brian Buscher, there is very little in AAA. The Blue Jays have 28 y.o. John Hattig (762 OPS) and there is talk that they made unload T Glaus's near $13 mil contract (and, tho a health risk, I think he is very near the top of the list). The white Sox have a similar situation with Joe Crede and Josh Phillips. One of them, most likely Crede, is going to be traded. Crede is, as nearly as I can tell, an outstanding defensive 3b, with, before his injury and back surgery, good offense and power. Now, he's coming off back surgery (as glaus is coming off foot surgery) PLUS his congtract runs out in '08 - and his agent, Scott Boras has already told the Sox they want to try their luck in FA. so, he's, essentially, a one year rental. Cleveland's Marte gets a lot of talk, but even in AAA his OPS was a Feliz like 766 (doesn't a AAA OPS of 766 translate into about a 720 MLB OPS?). Cinci has 27 y.o. Aaron Herr who, despite his AAA 799 OPS hasn't been able to come close to beating out the defensively challenged Edwin Encarnacion. Detroit has 30 y.o. Mike Hessman (who has AAAA written all over him) w/ 896 OPS and 1 K in every 3 ABs.
    So, the likely targets seem to me to be the Blue Jays (Glaus or Hattig), White Sox (Crede, likely a one year deal), or, most interestingly, Tampa. They have last year's starter, Iwamura (kind of an average MLB 3b, but even that is pretty hard to find) or Longoria (AAA OPS of 899).
    I regard Cain, Lincecum and Wilson as untouchable (too necessary), so a Lowry + Sanchez + an OF prospect not named Schierholtz might get any of those players. A steep price, yes, but you can see what short supply there is. If it is not Glaus, Hattig, Herr, Crede, Iwamura, Longoria then it looks like we might as well play Leone and De La Rosa (or get one or two of the 4 or 5 AAAA guys that are out there. Or suck it up and give some critcal parts to Az or LA bums. Boy, would that be hard to swallow.

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  3. I don't get it. You would not trade for Rolen for age/injuries issues, but you would go after Glaus, who is basically the same player as Rolen (except not near his defensive equal) with the same issues. That really does not make any sense.

    To me, if given the chance and if the price is not too steep, Cabrera is the way to go, whether or not he stays at 3B or not. The guy is a bona fide annual all-star and (here is the key) IS ONLY 24 YEARS OLD. Why would you not want this guy? The attitude/weight issue really is a non-issue as far as I am concerned. The Giants managed to deal with a much larger attitude/weight/defensive issue over the last 12 years with pretty good results.

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  4. I agree Rolen and Glaus are essentially the same player. A case could be made that Rolen, tho a year older is just a bit better. But Rolen has had multiple shoulder surgeries (I am not sure the exact number) and it is my impression it is the shoulder that has ST Lo interested in trading him. To me, that is too big a risk. Glaus, I agree, also poses a risk, but his surgery comes after a trial period where they deadened the nerve in his foot to see if that gave relief. It did so they are confident the surgery to relieve the nerve will give lasting relief. I agree it is risky, it just seems the doctor and the blue Jays are more confident in his recovery than they are in St. Lo with Rolen.
    I would jump at Cabrera with any package that does not include Cain, Lincecum or Wilson. I just don't think it can get done without those guys. The Marlins want Howie Kendrick +++ from the Angels, they want at least one of the Yankees grade AA SPs, I don't see them going for Lowry, Sanchez, Correia, etc, etc.

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  5. Thanks for the research and info, Allfrank.

    First, I must note that the 'Dres have a nice siutation where Headley and Kouzmanoff are 3B and thus one is theoretically tradeable, but yeah, intra-divisional trades are pretty rare and I'm not sure how ready Headley is for the majors yet.

    I still stand by my position: suck it up in 2008, accept that we might not be competitive, trade only when the other team is overpaying, and don't overpay ourselves. We have overpaid plenty of times over the past few years, and while I didn't agree with some of them, I can at least understand why they chose to do so, it was just not an option I would have chosen.

    Boof is right, Glaus is a very similar player to Rolen, and I might add, his name has come up in the PED scandal before, so is it real or is it PED?

    However, Boof, I know that you know that if the Marlins are trading Cabrera, the price WILL be too steep, they know how to drive a hard bargain, and I wish the Giants could learn from that and do the same.

    They will want either Cain or Lincecum and that is a no-go for me. And without one of them in the deal, our prospects are not good enough to package, even if we threw in Villalona, Sanchez, Owens, Schierholtz, Lewis, and all the other top prospects into the deal, because other teams could easily beat that.

    But if it wasn't the matter of who we would have to give up to get Cabrera, yeah Boof, it's a no-brainer, Cabrera is one of the premiere players in the league today, with the chance of us signing him for his PRIME years long term. Any team that trades him away without securing a long-term agreement with him and his agents beforehand, though, is crazy, that's too big a risk to take on given the way Cabrera acted before (he had some issues with management previously, nothing big, but still something to watch out for).

    We cannot easily fix our team quickly except by spending a LOT OF MONEY on a free agent who can make a difference, and you know that there is only one free agent who can fit that role: A-Rod. And I will believe it when the press conference is happening where he is announced, else I think other teams can easily beat the Giants in terms of money and whatever else A-Rod wants from his next deal, unless he is a really big Robin Williams or Huey Lewis fan or really loves cable cars or something.

    It is not like we have enough extra pitching to rebuild our team quickly in one season, that is not realistic. Life is like that sometimes, heck, a lot of the times, you just have to accept your lumps and realize that there is no quick fix, in this case via trades. Trades are often just shifting deck chairs on the Titanic, though when you are that close, it can tip the scales in your favor that season, at the cost of the future. But we need to look to the future, not push it off any further.

    Trading any pitcher not named Cain or Lincecum will not bring us enough to fix the offense, by itself. And as you noted, there are not a lot of 3B prospects out there who would be good.

    Sudden thought: Teahen of the Royals used to be a 3B before getting pushed out by Alex Gordon, so that might be a good trade, give up Lowry for Teahen plus get a prospect we like from the Royals. They need starters (heck, Lowry is good enough that he would be an upgrade for any team) and Teahen, while nice, is only an average hitter (100 OPS+ for his career), whereas Lowry is a good pitcher, with ERA under 4.00 the majority of his career, so they need to throw in another good prospect then.

    And I guess that's mainly what I'm hoping for in a trade, a 3B, because we have plenty of options in the OF and I think Ortmeier and Aurilia are good enough for 1B (plus we have candidates in the minors in Niekro and Ishikawa, whereas there are no viable 3B candidates). Anything but another year of Feliz, if he thinks he can get a 3 year contract out of some sucker, I hope he laughs all the way to the bank, just not at our expense.

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  6. Once again I am going to jump in here and disagree with you. There is absolutely no way that the Royals are pitching in another prospect with Teahan to get Lowry. I am hoping that some type of deal can get worked out that will bring Gaithwright from the Royals to the Braves to play center. But that is a different story all together. Back to the Giants. I think ARod ends up in LA. That means that SF just needs to bite the bullet and give up Sanchez and some mid level prospect to pick up either Laroche or Abreu from the Dodgers. Preferably Laroche, if you are giving up Sanchez. I also think that an internal solution could be to just let Frandsen play 3B. He is an adequate fielder and will hit once he gets regular playing time. There is absolutely no scenario that I see coming up where it would be in SF's best interest to trade either Cain or Lincecum. With a rotation of Cain, Lincecum and Zito, I think you have a good shot of winning any playoff series, if you can do like Colorado and get hot at the right time next year.

    The biggest problem I see in SF is 1B. It is just very difficult to win in the majors without a solid offensive producer at that position.

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  7. Then you and I agree, twbravo, I've been saying all along that I would rather have Frandsen at 3B, that I think he should get a shot to see if he can hit in the majors (I think so but you never know) but given the Giants stated goal in the press conference of obtaining a 3B via trade, then I was throwing out the Teahen idea.

    I can see your point, but I guess I was just stating that if we traded for Teahen, I would expect something back, as I consider Lowry to be above average and Teahen to be about average. If they won't add, then I wouldn't trade.

    The goal is to find the team willing to give us what Lowry is worth. A pitcher who is regularly sub-4 ERA is worth a lot, look at Meche, Lilly, Vicente, they got $10-11M per year for mid-4 ERA.

    Historically, the D-gers and Giants have not had any big trades. I would jump at Sanchez for LaRoche, but I don't see that happening. Sanchez is worth way more than Abreu.

    I think the Giants can get by with Ortmeier given our strong pitching, as he hit about 800 OPS in two different stints with the Giants last season, but we won't know what he's capable of until he's given the chance.

    Sabean has been eyeing Gathright for a while too, so the Braves might have some competition for him, though with Rajai Davis, perhaps he is not interested anymore.

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  8. Hello Martin. I'm not too interested in Teahan. I don't like giving up one of our above average players for an average player, even if the player plays 3b.
    Let me ask some questions.
    1) My recollection is we have no trading history w/ AZ. Do you see any liklihood of a trade for one of their 3b prospects?
    2) Do you agree Tampa is almost certainly not going to trade Longoria? Even for a Lowry, Sanchez, + package?
    Do you agree, other than intra divisional prospects, the only AAA 3b prospects are Longoria, Hattig (Toronto), and Herr (Cinci)?
    3) I know you have a lot of minor league sources, how are the AAA 3b prospects - Wood and Brown (Angels), LaRoche (Dodgers, Hattig, Longoria, and Herr ranked?
    4) Don't you like Iwamura a whople let better than Teahan? And aren't they at about the same price? Problem is, I think Tampa plays Iwamura one more year, gives Longoria another year in AAA before bringing him up
    5) Why are people excited about Cleveland's Marte - and his AAA 766 OPS?
    6) How do Leone's numbers project for '08?
    OK, let me know when your homework is done...

    ReplyDelete

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