Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lefty Relievers May Be Left Out

I will be catching up with the news of the weekend, nugget by nugget, starting with this one. I am using the Merc's Andy Baggarly for my source, but I won't bother linking as they expire soon anyway.

Lefty Relievers

Got a lot of contenders here. In addition to the incumbents Steve Kline and Jack Taschner (who still has an option and thus probably will start the year in Fresno no matter how good he does), there are perennial prospect Erick Threets (who has no options left) and newcomer Rule 5 Draftee Jose Capellan from Boston.

Kline finally realizes that his baseball life is starting to go down so he did something about it. Kline dropped 40 pounds in order to improve upon his performance in 2008. Both he and Taschner were horrible against left-handed hitters in 2007, and that's why the Giants are bringing in other candidates.

Barring a total meltdown, I don't see how Capellan don't make the team. The Giants PR machine has been talking about what a steal he is and Felipe Alou has been crowing about how mad Boston was over losing him. It would be bad PR and a black eye to admit they were wrong and return him to the Red Sox, he would take him back if returned.

And I don't see Kline getting the heave-ho too, as far as getting released as some fans posit. As poorly as he did against LHH, he was among the top 5 in the NL in lowest percentage of inherited runners scoring, which is the most important thing a reliever can do. That plus his vet savvy makes it more likely he stays. However, it is possible the Giants may decide to go with the young players and trade Kline to a team who could better use his talents. Like the Giants a few years back when they got Wayne Franklin, there could be a team at the end of spring training who needs a nice lefty reliever and would give us a nice prospect for him (as he's way better than Franklin ever was).

If Kline is kept, though, that would mean that Giants would have to waive Threets, particularly in light of the Giants talk about keeping only 6 relievers (so that they could keep another position prospect up), with Wilson, Walker, and Hennessey as locks there, barring trade of Hennessey (though I would expect the Giants to keep him around since he can long relieve). And Chulk probably has the 4th spot sewn up as long as he is healthy, leaving only two spots, which in this scenario is Capellan and Kline. Too bad, I've been waiting for Threets to show what he got, particularly since he's local, but it does not appear that it will work out unless Kline is traded away and Threets does great in spring.

This small 6 man bullpen also would probably mean that Randy Messenger is sent down as well. However, I don't know whether he has another option left or not, so he might be lost via waiver as well, unless they trade him. I expect the Giants to try to trade away any player they would have to waive so as to get someone for him.

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