Sunday, March 09, 2008

Giants Fire Sale?

The MLB rumor site quoted Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sport reporting that the "Giants have informed several teams that they are shopping over a dozen of their major league and minor league players." Ken Rosenthal said some of the players include Ray Durham, Rich Aurilia, Randy Winn, and Steve Kline. The author of the site then actually called the Giants "and found out that Travis Ishikawa and Noah Lowry are both on that list as well." He suggested that this is a Giants fire sale.

Not quite because not every player who should go in a fire sale were mentioned. All the players listed make a lot of sense to trade because they are holding back younger players or is not as necessary anymore or both.

Durham out = Frandsen starting at 2B. Durham's horrid 2007 notwithstanding, he has had a very solid career, and a good spring could convince another team that he is back enough to obtain. The level of player we get back will correspond fully with how much the other team believes Durham is back.

Aurilia out = Velez as uber-utility guy. Aurilia had a horrible 2007, probably caused by a fender bender in spring training. But he's a relatively cheap vet who can play the whole infield and hit OK enough for a team to take him for a nothing prospect sent to the Giants. And the Giants are happy to oblige because they don't need him right now, except as 3B insurance, but there are others who should do OK at 3B, like Frandsen and possibly Velez.

Randy Winn was one of the few to have a good 2007, so the Giants should want to trade him because he could net a good prospect, unlike the others = Nate Schierholtz and/or Fred Lewis getting a chance to start in RF. They can't platoon since both are lefties, but they would be competing for playing time there. Or they could give Lewis the starting role for half a season, and if he can't hold it, bring up Schierholtz, or even Bowker, depending on who is doing better (though it appears that Bowker might be prepped as Ortmeier's replacement if Dan falters).

Steve Kline out = probably Jose Capellan being kept. Giants have a number of young good RP who are out of options or could be lost: Valdez, Threets, Capellan. The first two have been doing well, and the third, Capellan, comes highly recommended, Felipe Alou would lose a lot of face if they return him to the Red Sox because they got him in Rule 5 draft.

Noah Lowry out = Jonathan Sanchez or Pat Misch in. Both need to start in the majors to see how they do, but Correia looks good to go in winning the only open spot, and Lowry is the most expendable of the top four of Cain, Lincecum, Zito, and Lowry (obviously Zito's contract precludes any trade, and the Giants aren't trading the other two, no matter how many fans want them to).

Unfortunately, Lowry went under the knife Friday for surgery, so he's not going to be traded right now. I assume the Giants are kicking the tires, as Sabean would say, in order to set the table for trading him by mid-season.

Travis Ishikawa is a failing prospect and there are now other prospects looking to be the Giants future 1B. First, we have Angel Villalona, who most rate as being in the Top 30 (or better) overall among all prospects. So even if Ishikawa came up this year, Angel will take the spot in a couple of years. Then there is Dan Ortmeier who looks to be getting the chance to start there until Angel is ready, plus if he is OK at 1B, he colld always return to the OF. If Ortmeier falters, then John Bowker would next get the chance. And there are a number of college 1B who the Giants could pick in this season's amateur draft with their #5 pick overall.

Still, Ishikawa is a great defender and has considerable power plus walks a lot, and he really needs to start in AAA or he'll be lost by the Giants next season as he only has one option left. But they appear to like McClain and he plays 1B at AAA plus they are trying out John Bowker at 1B as well (he could also come up mid-season and start in RF too).

I think they should keep him because he has been severely bothered by the poor parks at San Jose and Norwich (see's series by Jonathan Mayo for insight on how bad these parks are for hitters), they need to see how he does in AAA, in more regular parks. But it is not like he's a sure thing, it is just that he showed a lot of power and ability to walk despite the bad hitting environment in San Jose and Norwich is just a bear to play in for almost any power hitter. There should be other teams willing to give him a chance, heck, even Todd Linden got picked up and Ellison was traded twice and was a glorified pinch-runner with each team.

Giants Thoughts

The names on the list above are no surprise to most Giants fans. What is surprising, at least to those who don't read here, is that Dave Roberts is not on the list. As I have been harping on, the Giants want Roberts around to teach tips to the speedsters we'll have up here in 2008 and 2009. The key to making aggressive basestealing work is to not get caught and Roberts steals both in quantity (23-49 while starting regularly) and quality (81% career success; 88% last two seasons).

There was only six names revealed in the two articles, meaning that about five to seven more names are on the list that were not noteworthy enough for the authors to mention. Here are some of my thoughts on who else might be on the list.

Given that the Giants list outfielders as a desire, I have to think that Rajai Davis and Clay Timpner are on the list. Rajai Davis was never much of a prospect, a AAAA candidate until he had that nice month with us before the league caught up with him. And Clay Timpner really only works in CF and we just signed Aaron Rowand to play CF for a long while. Maybe Fred Lewis is on the list too, though I would think he would be mentioned if Ishikawa was.

In addition, they are reportedly looking for set up relievers, so it could be that Brad Hennessey might be on the list as well. As nicely as he has done, in a wide variety of roles - starting, long relief, set-up, and closing - he does not have the power arm that Giants management likes, so he could be a case of selling high, after doing so well in 2007 in a number of roles, as well as oping a spot for one of the trio of relievers we would lose if not on the Giants 25 man roster come starting day: Merkin Valdez, Erick Threets, and Jose Capellan.

He could net a good prospect due to how well he has done, how flexible he can be in a variety of situations, and how much longer they have to control him. It could explain why the Giants started him recently in spring training. You know, show how valuable he can be to prospective teams.

I would also add Randy Messenger and maybe Vinnie Chulk as possibilities too. Particularly Messenger after his big blow up over his demotion the other day. With so many other good young relievers who cannot be sent down, the Giants could afford to trade these two while the trio are doing well and the two have some trade value as major league relievers.

Chulk would not get sent down in any case, but had a nice year last season and thus could net a nice prospect back. Messenger was just sent down recently, as the Giants still had an option on him, but, still, he did well for us until he busted his fist in the wall, which probably cost us any chance of getting anyone good for him in trade, but I would not mind losing him because he don't strike out that many batters on a K/9 basis. We need strikeout pitchers to be more successful in the playoffs and neither of them are stellar in that regard.

Oddly enough, the Giants are looking for backup catchers, which implies that they are not happy with Eliezer Alfonzo or Guillermo Rodriguez as our backups. Given their offensive show during the Carribean Winter Leagues, that suggest they are looking for a strong defensive catcher to complement Molina, whose defense has seen much better days. I like Alfonzo as backup, but given the Giants future relies so much on pitching, it would behoove us to pick up someone solid defensively as a backup catcher, for defensive purposes at the end of the game, plus he could see starts when Bengie Molina is struggling offensively, which is his only area of value-add.


  1. Here's the basic problem with the premise of a Giants fire sale: In order to have a sale, someone has to buy and they have to want what is being sold. Big news one wants this pile of crap that is being offered.

  2. I kind of agree with what Boof said, but there are a few somewhat desirable players in that pile of crap. There are teams out there desperately in need bullpen help if they want to compete, like the Braves and the Brewers. So that could build up some interest in Chulk, Kline, and Hennesey in particular, and maybe Messenger, but I doubt it. And also Randy Winn could fill up a #2 spot in a lineup with his ability to hit for average with someone like the Mets or the Mariners. And maybe he could play CF for the Braves, seeing as they need a decent one now that Andruw Jones is gone and Mark Kotsay sucks. I guess you could call this a firesale if it actually happened, but it won't come anything close to what the A's harvested from theirs.

  3. I pretty much agree with you Martin.

    I will say this, if Brian Sabean can get anything, and I mean anything, for Steve Kline, I'll be impressed.

    Threets K'd the side today and I can't see the Giants letting him go right now. With this team, they should take chances on players like Threets.

  4. Ba dum bum!!! Thanks, they'll be here all week...

    The point, really, is that they are now trying, now that they have a better sense of what they got with their young guys plus the vets have shown enough that other teams would be interested too.

    Of course the Giants won't net the same as the A's. What they did was the equivalent of trading Cain and Lincecum. The Giants hopefully aren't stupid enough to do that.

    The point is not that they will net a lot, the point is that whoever they trade will hopefully open up opportunity for a young player.

    Kline had one of the best success rate in keeping uninherited runners from scoring. He should net some prospect, though I would agree that if we get anything good for him, that would be impressive.

    Yeah, Threets, Valdez, even Capellan, even though he's not doing anything thus far.



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