Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sabean Bashing: In-Crede-able But True

Rumors have been circulating that Joe Crede has been conditionally traded to the Giants for two prospects once he comes into spring training and is deemed healthy. I found a blurb here on MLB Rumors, which is the site that states the two prospects, and a post here on MLB Trade Rumors.

Apparently it is being driven by Brian Sabean's new right hand man, Ron Shueler, former ChiSox GM, and by new Giants CF Aaron Rowand, buddy of said Crede. This has caused a lot of consternation among the Giants fandom, as can be seen here at McCovey's Chronicles.

Your Stance on Sabean Is Showing

I was going to write a post previously on this, and never got around to finishing it. It seems like what people believe of Sabean leaks out into their commentary about what they think Sabean will do next. If they think he's stupid, they suggest that he'll make a stupid move. Then others would chime in and add something on top. It's like a crowd agitating to lynch someone.

But people are forgetting some facts in this situation. Like some fear a long extention at a high salary to Crede. First, given his Feliz-esque stats, and the Giants refusal to go three years, the most Crede could expect from the Giants is another year on top of his contract for 2008. Second, Boras is not going for a one year contract extension, particularly with his client playing in a park that damps down HR power, his one key offensive skill (sole skill really). He's going free agency after 2008 without a big money extension for many years. Third, by holding steady to a 2 year contract for Feliz, they show that they want to keep 3B open for other options in the near term, appearing to acknowledge that 2008 is a transitional year and 2009 is probably transitional year, but by 2010, we need our long-term solution to 3B in place.

As long as the Giants are trading players from their "OK to Trade" list (it has been reported previously that the Giants have a "Keep/OK to Trade" list, columns which are self-explanatory), much like when we traded Martis away (his stats that year was not that good and each month it got worse...), I would be OK with trading for Crede for a one year. I won't be happy but I would be OK.

I don't see that the Giants absolutely NEED to commit a full-time starting position to Frandsen. He's 26, don't have any really strong skills, and frankly has no speed and not much power, so his sole offensive contribution would be getting on base, mainly by maintaining a high batting average. He is a nice, average player and while we need players like that so that we can afford to pay the really good players, it won't kill our future to not give him a full-time starting position.

However, I really like him as a person and he has gone through a lot in his personal past to make it up this far. A nice feel good story like him becoming a starter in the majors would be good for the 2008 season, which the Giants at least has acknowledged as a transitional year, if not the rebuilding year that many of us Giants fans want to see.

So, for me to be OK with Crede coming in, I think the Giants sit him down and tell him, "Look, we know you want to do well before your free agency, and we want you to do well. We are planning on starting you in 5 out of every 7 games and give 2 to Frandsen. We are going to do the same with Durham in order to give Frandsen ABs, or about 4 games started out of every 7." In addition, if Crede and Durham do well, I want the Giants to trade both of them for good prospects, and if either are not doing well, I want the Giants to DFA them and start Frandsen instead.

Frandsen doesn't need to start every game of 2008. But he should be starting a majority of them and getting to show what he can do. Getting Crede should not get in the way of that plan and hopefully will lead to us getting a good prospect for Crede later.


  1. Hello Martin. I agree with you that a lot of the over the top criticism of Sabean is just prejudice and straw man slaying.
    That being said, I still have a hard time seeing how trading for Crede is part of any long term plan. It seems more of a detour than anything else. In fact, I think the criticism that this off season has been, largely, more of the same from Sabean. Other than pitching and Ort, there appears to be no commitment to young players; Frandsen, Davis, Schierholtz, Lewis all appear to be relegated to fighting for part time play. I really have a hard time believing it is Sabean's strategy to play Roberts, Winn, Durham, and Crede and plan to trade them (or most of them) in July. And the criticism of playing guys who are not part of the future that is routinely made on McC Chrons makes a lot of sense. To play these guys and win, say 83 games, rather than play DAvis, Lewis, SChierholtz, Frandsen, and maybe Velez and win 77 games seems to me pointless, planless, just 'more of the same,' try to win today rather than formulate a definite plan to go forward to '10 with. Clearly RWD&C are not important parts of the '10 team. DLSF and maybe V could be. And it makes great sense to find out sooner rather than later which, if any, of these guys can be counted on. That leads me to the conclusion that the stop gap for 3b is not really needed in '08. Don't give up any chips, play Frandsen and put Velez on the roster and see if he blossoms as a utility guy. To play devil's advocate to your argument about Frandsen's playing time, it appears he struggled thru '07 when he was playing parttime, which you are suggesting for '08. It wasn't until Sep when he began to play regularly that he finally started to hit. It seems to me all of DLF and V (not Schierholtz, tho his performnance ssays it is as good a time as any to find out) are of the age where it is time to determine if they are MLB players or not. I would think the better strategy would be to play these guys, get them 450-550 ABs and see what they've got. If, on the other hand, they're not ready, they should be playing full time in AAA (yes, I know they are mostly out of options, still, you have top make decisions, not hedge your bets).
    This is not the '00 or '04 team. Yet, the strategy does not seem radically different, tho the circumstances the team is in are radically different.
    I agree bringing in Crede is not a huge deal, but the totality of keeping all of RWD and resigning Omar + bringing in Crede is a strategy that is definitely different than getting rid of some/most/all of them and committing to DLSF and maybe V and/or Ochoa. I see direction and an emphasis on rebuilding, the future with the latter. The former seems more aimless, more win a few games, sell tickets and deal with tomorrow when it arrives. I don't see how getting DL&F 200-400 ABs and leaving Schierholtz and Velez in AAA is a plan for the future. Rather than be sort of aimless, and indefinite, wouldn't a better overall strategy be to openly admit 'we're rebuilding' (instead of saying we're going to play younger players, then bring in mnore established vets at the young players expense) and tell the fan base we're going all out to get ready for '09 - and then do just that. Rowan, Molina, and Omar on that team would give enough MLB credibility that, IMO, would keep ticket sales steady and the fan base happier than is currently the situation.
    Lastly, if your argument was going to be that Velez, Ochoa, Bowker, et al don't have much MLB promise, aren't real prospects, then shouldn't Sabean have tried to trade Durham/Aurilia/Molina/Roberts/Winn for a/some prospects? I mean, if at the end of ST the sum total of retooling for '08 was to bring back Omar (age 40), and bring in Rowand (32) and Crede (32) then what have you done to 'rebuild' for the future. How can you claim the object is to get to the WS when it looks like the real interest is winning (defined as an 84-78 record) enough to sell tickets?

  2. In order for trading for Crede to be a part of a long term plan, you have to assume that Sabean has a plan to begin with. I wouldn't give him that much credit. This off season has seemed to back that viewpoint up.

  3. Don't lecture me about the futility of winning 83 games over 77 games. I guess I assume most people reading here (and it seems to be about the same people, the visitor numbers are approximately the same over a long period of time) knows that I believe the best way to rebuild is to clear the decks of vets blocking the way and let the young guys who appear to have some skills play and see what happens, if we lose we lose, but hopefully we win. That's basically the way many players make the majors, someone gets hurt/ineffective, so in desperation you bring up someone and, wow, he's a real player after all. It the is Phoenix Rebuilding Theory that I've been pushing.

    I'm resigned that it's not happening anytime soon and possibly not in my lifetime.

    Since the Giants ignore my suggestions (like acquiring great players like Vlad etc. instead of filling the roster with mid-range filler), I then try to make sense of whatever moves they make and whether I think they are good or not.

    I do not think I'm the smartest person around, I know there's more than one way to build a team and win, and I especially know that I'm no expert at this, but I try to understand what Sabean/Magowan are doing and apparently thinking and see if there is any added insight that can be gleaned.

    They have clearly said that winning is the goal in 2008. They are not punting the season, as I would have. I agree with you on the Vizquel move, I had pushed to start Ochoa, but after looking at the stats and what we signed him for, I like the Rowand trade the more and more I think about it.

    It's one thing if we had an Upton (either one), Delmon Young, Jay Bruce, Evan Longoria, and signing Rowand meant that one of them don't get to start in the majors. Schierholtz is nice, but he does strike out a heck of a lot for the small number of walks he gets. And I keep on hearing about his funky swing mechanics.

    Maybe it's like DrB says all the time, if he can hit .300+, why not let him swing and get hits instead of a walk. Maybe it's a hole that the MLB pitchers will exploit. Now, he did hit well in the majors but didn't walk or hit for power, in his short and yet over 100 AB stint with us. But what if he never figures it out? There is a good chance that happens, Linden couldn't figure out his problems and he hit a TON in AAA, and there are plenty of AAAA player roaming around.

    For that you would pass on a potential 850-900 OPS CF for a very decent (cheap if he hits high 800 OPS) salary, and while it is long (5 years), it covers his 30-34 years, which are years where hitters are most reliable and steady (study in Ron Shandler's annual)? Nate is no sure thing, I would love to see him play, but we need to pick up a good hitter for good money if we are to ever get good again, no team re-builds strictly from their farm system, judicious free agent signings is a necessary evil. And 5 years should hopefully, HOPEFULLY, not be the length of time it takes for us to be good again, I hope by 2010 at the latest, 2009 at the earliest; 2008 would be beyond my wildest dreams, and yet, I had that same feeling in 1997 when Sabean took over, I was happy taking chances on the trades and free agents he signed, I didn't expect to be in a pennant race that first season with him.

    If I had my druthers, I would rather play Frandsen at 3B full-time. But it was not like you said, he did not play full-time when he did well at the end of the season, he started about 3/4ths of the games, roughly, there was 27 games, and he started 20 of them. That is roughly 5 games out of 7: I had noted the 4 out of 7, so lets give him a start at SS or 1B and that gives him 5 out of 7.

    So we can carve out the ABs necessary for Frandsen to get a lot of experience and see how he does on a regular basis even with Crede around.

    And the key thing on trading for Crede is that we give up prospects that our talent evaluators did not think enough of to want to keep around and hopefully pick up a prospect or two from another team that we do want to keep. I have no problem with that at all, as I said, we need more talent in this farm system, particularly position players. Getting Pichardo for Tucker and Denker for Sweeney were great moves on Sabean's part that I hope is replicated with Durham and whoever else is desirable by other teams mid-season. I would even give up Roberts like that.

    It is not like I think the Giants absolutely need Roberts. I'm sure many at MCC thinks so, but my frame of reference is that the Giants will not trade both Roberts and Winn off, the best you can hope for is that one is traded. Of the two, I think the Giants need Roberts more than they need Winn, plus Winn would net us more in prospects right now than trading Roberts. Win-Win-Winn as Randy says in his radio ad.

    The thing, again, is that we have no top position prospect who is a sure thing. So while I would rather play them anyhow, I can understand, given the edict to win, why the Giants would make such moves as they have. I am only glad that 1) Lincecum nor Cain were traded and 2) Feliz was not resigned. As long as they get a chance to play significant time in 2008, I'm OK with the moves.

    And I'm not fully happy right now. Either Roberts or Winn must go. I prefer Winn to be gone (nothing personal) but I would be OK with Roberts gone since that would free up some time (but not as much time as getting rid of Winn) for the youngsters.

    But as Sabean has said (and said in seasons past), the roster is fluid and a work-in-progress. So I'll save my outrage for when the season starts and things aren't like I would like to see them. Else, you go through all that emotion (like those people on MCC about Crede) for something that really is only a crappy rumor that sprung up because we need a 3B, they have an extra 3B, we have two former ChiSox personnel in Rowand and new advisor, their former GM Schueler.

    And the strategy is radically different. We would have signed Lowell to a 4 year contract for big money, as well as Rowand, had this been previous years. We would have gotten a proven 1B, and not even a Tony Clark type, a real starter. We might have beat out the Reds to Francisco Cordero, who I would peg as the closer Sabean would have went after this off-season. Ortmeier would have had no chance to start, though I think Frandsen would still compete with Durham for 2B, only he would not have a fall-back at 3B to play, as he does today.

    Worrying about prospects starting is only worth it when they are good enough to start without question. Our guys are not at that level.



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