Thursday, June 05, 2008

Post-Post Post on the Post on Pick of Posey: Only Positives

Perhaps my pugnacious nature percolated upward and onward and perambulated upon my post on Posey.

I was thinking more about the drafting of Posey. As I noted, I was disappointed because he was not a difference maker whereas Smoak appears to have been one (30-40 home run power will do that). Posey will probably be a very good catcher for us, but he won't be a catcher who will lead the way for us offensively by driving in a lot of runs. Sabean said so himself. However, now I'm wondering if I succumbed to a knee-jerk reaction by posting immediately.

Not Thinking Long-Term Enough

Catcher is a key position and getting gold-glove defense there is critical to the Giants long-term plans with our great crop of pitchers that should only get better, barring any spate of the injury bug (which is ever present like the Sword of Damacles). We want good defense up the middle but it is a big plus to have a good offensive guy there too, something Jackson Williams is struggling to do just in A-ball.

And he's a smart guy, the account of his being drafted noted that he's got a cululative GPA over 3.8 and made the Academic All-America Team assembled by CoSIDA and ESPN The Magazine, which means that he is plenty smart and should be able to learn the nuances of calling games eventually assuming he has good teachers. Bochy being an former catcher in the majors can help him there, Kirt Manwaring, an excellent defensive catcher for the Giants in the past is our minor league catching instructor. He should be a quick learner and move swiftly up the learning curve.

(Side-Track: now this is what bothers me sometimes, the Giants (or any other MLB team) will be paying a multi-million dollar bonus to Posey to join our team, so wouldn't it be Giant Smarts to spend, say, $100K per year (or even $250K per year) to hire an ex-catcher, who is very good at what Posey lacks (in this case, calling a game) and have him travel as Posey's roommate so that they can talk catching all the time? Or if that is too much contact, at least he will travel with the team and be there for Posey (mainly, plus help out with the other catchers). Or if the hitter needs to learn fielding, have someone who is there to practice with him. Or if he can't hit lefties well, hire a left-hander to travel and pitch, much like how Bonds had that LHP travelling with the team and pitching to him (and now other people). Very small investment compared to the bonuses being paid and the total cost of the farm system, but should pay huge dividends by accelerating the learning curve. OK, back to the regular post...)

So Posey is definitely a fine addition to the team at a critical premium position and will bring nice power from that spot, though not difference making power. But I forgot to take the longer-term view on this.

2009 is Probably A Good Pick: Top 5 Again

Obviously, we aren't going to win a lot of games this season. We are already in line for the 7th pick in next year's draft and just a game away from getting the 5th pick again. If we end up selling off the vets, that is probably going to happen again, getting a top 5 pick, because if we were around .500 with the vets, we certainly are going to be much worse without them, barring any sudden burst of development and "figuring it out" on the part of their replacements from the farm system. So we are in line to pick up another good bat next season (and who knows possibly again in 2010), Smoak or no Smoak.

And next year already have some premium bats available (info from Saber-Scouting), like Mychal Givens, top 1-2 high school junior who is a SS, who has "true shortstop actions with above-average defensive tools" who won't outgrow the position and is a vocal leader and good student, Bobby Borchering, who is a power hitting switch hitting 3B, or Austin Maddox, 8th best prep in the country, best prep catcher since Joe Mauer who is excellent behind the plate and is likened to a Mike Piazza with a plus-plus arm. So what you ask? Well, Posey was previously a shortstop and if we need to, we can move him to SS and draft Austin Maddox, who could be a middle lineup hitter. And Borchering would fill that middle lineup need and the 3B need. So we should be in line for a difference maker bat next year assuming we continue to struggle to win games like we have been.

Me? Why Worry?

So why sweat over Posey not being a big difference maker? We could be picking up that hitter in next year's draft. Plus, Villalona is slotted to be a difference maker when he makes the majors, assuming he continues to do well, here are his month by month numbers in A-ball:

APR: .213/.273/.325/.598, 80 AB/HR, 41% XBH
MAY: .250/.299/.460/.759, 20 AB/HR, 44% XBH
JUN: .273/.333/.636/.970, 11 AB/HR, only 11 AB so far

If he continues to rake through June, he could be promoted to San Jose in July possibly.

Basically, we need players across the diamond and a Smoak would be redundant assuming they are still confident that Villalona will make it to the majors (if he is beating up on pitchers who are on average about 4-5 years older than he is, i.e. post-college age, and he's only going to be a high school senior this season, he has to be good; FYI, when Justin Upton was a year older than Angel, i.e. Angel's 2009 season, he was in A-ball and hit .263/.343/.413/.756 with 12 homers in 438 AB, not much better than what Angel is doing now and that's full season vs. about a third for Angel; and prospects about his age who succeeded in Sally League include Chris Marrero, Fernando Martinez, Andrew McCuthen, Jose Tabata and they were all older than he is) whereas getting a major league caliber catcher like Posey who will be plus at his position. We could end up with a McCovey-Cepeda situation again and have to trade off Smoak to get a position we need now.

So why not draft Posey now because we do need a catcher, particularly since Jackson Williams, who was our previous catcher du jour, is hitting horribly in A-ball, horribly!, so who knows if he's ever going to make the majors, and while Sandoval is doing nicely, he still has a lot to learn about catching. We need our future catcher and Posey fills that need very nicely and in a premium way, whereas Smoak, even if he develops, is only backup insurance if Villalona becomes a dud at some point, a risk that exists for all prospects, no matter how good they were in the minors.

Farm Depth

So where does the Giants stand today by position:
  1. They are set on pitching and have more coming out of the ears in coming years in Alderson, Sosa, Bumgarner, Buccardo, and perhaps Cowart, Snyder, Pucetas, Tanner, among others. They also have numerious relievers, like Ramos, Matos, Anderson, maybe Griffin, Joaquin, even starters who can't win a spot in the rotation.
  2. Now they have Posey at catcher plus Pablo Sandoval still developing (remember Posey could return to SS at some point and be plus offensively there too). Williams is lost offensively in A-ball so it doesn't look good right now except for as a great defensive backup.
  3. They have Villalona there, plus Bowker there currently with perhaps Ortmeier or Horwitz as platoon buddy until Angel is ready. Ishikawa is apparently suppose to get the call to AAA soon too (again, home: .233/.324/.378/.702; away: .333/.434/.458/.891, both in roughly 100+ PA, so if he can continue to hit well in June/July, they could possibly bring him up if Bowker continues to struggle offensively. They will lose him anyway next year because he will be out of options, so it's now or never. Plus Brett Pill, Anthony D'Alessio and Thomas Neal.
  4. We have Nick Noonan there eventually, plus Eugenio Velez and Kevin Frandsen for near-term. Maybe Matthew Downs too. And Burriss could play here if necessary too.
  5. We don't have anyone of note here, but Ryan Rohlinger was considered for the position before we picked up Castillo, and we control Castillo for at least another year I think, under arbitration rules. Maybe Matthew Downs here too and, I forgot, Pablo Sandoval too, he played 3B a couple of years ago.
  6. We have Emmanuel Burriss for now plus Sharlon Schoop who is suppose to be ready defensively years ago, but Posey could move here if necessary. Plus there is Charlie Culberson coming up.
  7. We have Fred Lewis looking really good right now plus if he continues to hit like this for power, he could be a middle of lineup guy, but maybe EME at some point and Bowker too if 1B is taken by whoever.
  8. Rowand is our very nice solution for a while, with Wendell Fairley down the line.
  9. Nate Schierholtz is the guy.
So we are really looking pretty good in our system, only weak at 3B and SS really, with CF as a potential area of weakness if Fairley don't produce fast enough (when is he ever getting into a pro game?). If we drafted Smoak instead of Posey, we would have to add C to that list, getting catcher covered in our farm system is a tipping point where we go from 5 covered positions vs. 3 unset position to 6 covered positions vs. 2 unset positions. That goes from one away from being equal (4:4) to three times (6:2) coverage.

And while we are looking for middle-of-the-lineup hitters, we have a number of good candidates internally already in Schierholtz, Lewis, and Villalona, and that's in addition to Aaron Rowand. We might not be covered now, but we should be within the next one-two seasons (2009-2010). And they don't have to be great offensive players at their positions, with our pitching, all we really need is a good offense, not a great one, to win a lot of games.

So really, I say that the Giants are looking for difference makers and yet staring in my face is Posey, who is one in his own way for our situation, by being a plus catcher, providing great defense plus good offense for the position. Rowand is plus now, and if Lewis continues to develop and mature, he should be plus in a year or two once he hit his prime physical years. Nate Schierholtz looks like he will be a plus in RF and Villalona should be a plus plus at 1B by 2010-11. That would be five plus positions offensively, with good defense at C and 1B, plus CF. Of course, assuming they continue to develop.

Posey Better Pick Than Smoak For Our Farm System As Is

Thus, the system looks a whole lot better with Posey drafted than Smoak drafted, and the prospect of selecting a premium SS or 3B in next year's draft, like Givens, Borchering, or Maddox (in his case, Posey plays C until Maddox is ready to take over, then move Posey to SS). In addition, there is a reason he was considered strongly for the #1 pick overall, he has a lot of talent at a premium position, whereas Smoak was so lightly considered (relatively to Posey) that he fell out of the top 10 picks.

So I'm feeling much better about the Posey pick now, and really like the next two picks as well, who know, maybe Gillaspie is the 3B to fill the empty spot above right now, and Kieschnick would give us some depth in the outfield as well. At least I didn't state that I would throw myself down the stairs if Posey was drafted. :^)

Posey was the correct pick, I had it wrong with my first post after Posey was picked.


  1. I'm excited to see some of the veterans hitting much better. It just increases our chances of dealing them off before the deadline. As of this minute Randy Winn is hitting .303 and Ray Durham is hitting .293. Much better than a month ago.
    Winn has a limited NTC to ten teams(I don't know which ten).
    Durham also has some sort of NTC and has a trade kicker of $200k.
    Don't know how much of either guy's salary SF would be willing to pay in a deaql. Hopefully none. It will be interesting to see though.

  2. Yes, Matt, very exciting to see Durham and Winn hitting so well, makes it much more likely that someone will offer a good prospect to us for either of them when misfortune hits them and they need that position (heck, Randy can play all three OF positions).

    I think Durham has the so-called 10-5 exemption, he has 10 years as a major leaguer and 5 years with the same team. I would think he would have no problem leaving us for a contender near the end of the season.

    Winn still has another year on his contract so they are not going to pay that whole salary unless (and that is for the 2008 season, no way they pay 2009 too, his contract is actually OK), the other team is giving up a really good prospect; same with Durham. In essence, they would be buying the other team's prospect. I would be OK with that because that money is sunk cost, you have to pay them that either way, whether they stay here or we trade him, so pay the money anyhow (unless they are planning on using the money on the farm system or something) and get a better prospect. At this point, they need more talent than more money.



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