Wednesday, July 16, 2008

BA on Giants Signing of Rafael Rodriguez

Baseball America doesn't always make available free content, but this time they did on the Giants signing of Rafael Rodriguez.

As one can see from the handy list of the top bonuses paid, there is no guarantee that a big bonus is going to result in a good starting player. Failures include Wily Mo Pena, Joel Guzman, Byung-Hyun Kim, and Chin-Hui Tsao.

The good news is further confirmation of the general overall impression of Rodriguez's potential. They noted, "Rodriguez has good raw power and a projectable hitter's frame. A righthanded batter, Rodriguez has plenty of tools—he's an above-average runner with an above-average arm—but some scouts weren't sold on his hitting mechanics and overall feel for hitting."

In addition: "From a tools perspective," said one international scouting director, "you're not gonna find a better kid." That is a pretty good endorsement for his tools. Of course, as the examples above shows, tools don't always translate.

Giants Thoughts

Still, the importance of this move is still the same as before.

First and foremost, this is a continuation of the Giant's commitment to the International free agent market, with the second-highest bonus ever paid. This is a necessary tactic for any team, whether good or bad. This combined with astute selections in the draft will speed the rebuilding process.

Second, this is a continuation of the Giant's commitment to the farm system. People have incorrectly labeled the Giants as uncaring or disdainful of the farm system. Nothing could be further from the truth, just look at how the farm system's products defines the major league roster. This is a major investment in the farm system that should continue with the signing of Buster Posey.

Third, another highly touted position player has been added to the farm system. Obviously, the Giants need more position prospects who have high potential. Whether he conflicts with Nate Schierholtz in the future or not is immaterial: it is better to deal with the problem of two good players in RF than risk that we have no future power-hitting RF should Schierholtz falter.

The Giants re-building continues apace and looks better and better to this observer of matters of the Orange and Black. It don't really matter that most of their development has been in the pitching ranks: that is the hardest to find, hardest to harvest, and where, as I've been trying to show in my "Hey Neukom" series, true strategic advantage lies in building a baseball team structured to maximize their chances of winning in the playoffs, according to the latest baseball theories and studies have shown, and success is related to excellence in the pitching staff - starters, closer and bullpen - and defense, not to offense. Offense is necessary only to the extent that you can win with that offense and that defense/pitching.

With the addition of Villalona and Rodriguez, the Giants are continuing their re-build of their position prospects in their farm system. By the time they should be ready to join the majors, our starters should be done with their inconsistency problems and ready to win consistently with their stuff. Hopefully they will be enough to provide the offense necessary to win with our defense and pitching. In any case, our pitching staff right now is good enough to build around, now we need to fill the blanks in the lineup. We need at least three good hitters in the future lineup. Rodriguez is a good addition who may fill one of those blanks.

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