Saturday, July 19, 2008

Lose-Win Proposition: The Drive for a Top Five Draft Pick

Of course, I would never root for the Giants to lose. But when you are mired in a rebuilding, excuse me, "transitional" year, losing is the tonic for what ails you, as that will result in a good draft pick the next season, giving you another player who may lead you back to the promise land - the playoffs. So while I'm not rooting for the team to lose, as we lose veterans in trades for prospects (make it so Number One!) and unproven prospects take their places and, most probably, not do as well, losing will be the theme of the second half of the 2008 season.


And it won't take much as we are already in good position: we have the 4th pick of the 2009 draft at the moment, as D'Rocks passed us up today, raising us up from the 5th pick. As I've noted before, my study shows that in recent drafts, the best chances of finding a good prospect are among the top 5 picks of the drafts typically.


Here are the current standing (as of right when I checked the standings, there are still some games outstanding but I just wanted to write this post):


1 Nats 37 61 -
1 Pads 37 61 -
3 Marin 38 59 1.5
4 Giants 40 57 3.5
5 Rocks 42 57 4.5
6 Indian 42 54 6
7 Royals 44 54 7
8 Pirates 44 53 7.5
9 Braves 46 51 9.5
9 Astros 46 51 9.5


I don't have the tie-breakers for ties, so I just listed them this way. But I expect the Nats to do worse than the Padres over the rest of the season, and I've heard rumors of the Braves trading Teixiera, so I think they will do worse than the Astros.


For the Giants, until the recent losing streak - which of course coincided with the flu striking much of the team, so it appears that this losing streak was a lovely parting gift from Brian Horwitz, who was the first with it - they had basically been playing .500 after Dave Roberts went on the DL. But this bad losing streak is probably for the best, as it now clearly shows Brian Sabean (and the rest of management) that it would be futile to hang onto any veteran (or to trade for any) just to keep the team competitive this season.


Giants Thoughts


Speaking of trades, according to a number of articles I've read, including this one from the Chron, the Giants and Brewers have been talking trade for a while. Even though the Chron had just the other day said that there was no substantive trade talk between the team, this linked Chronicle article now says that the Brewers are looking at Durham and previous articles had mentioned Jack Taschner, though his performance was a bit lacking against the Brewers, plus that they pulled a minor league player and would be announcing a trade in the morning.


It also mentioned the possibility of a bigger trade of Rickie Weeks to the Giants. That one caught my eye. A previous Chron article had mentioned that the Brewers were looking for a lefty hitter and relievers. We have a lot of lefty hitters, Lewis, Bowker, Roberts, even Randy Winn and Ray Durham are lefties, though if they are going to deal Weeks, they would want a good young player in return, I would assume.


Here's my trade idea: how about Lewis, Taschner, and maybe another prospect (or even another reliever, though Lewis and Taschner might be enough) for Weeks, then also trade Durham for the minor leaguer pulled (speedster - sounds familiar - Darren Ford).


Before I hear the protests at my speculation, hear me out on this. We have outfielders galore, particularly lefty ones, but are lacking in middle infielders, particularly good ones. As much as I like Kevin Frandsen, he's at best a complementary player as a starter, and could end up a very nice infield utility player who can play multiple positions - nothing wrong with that, though I still think he can do more; still, he's unproven and we don't really have many choices there right now, just question marks like Jose Castillo, Travis Denker, Eugenio Velez.


As much as I like Fred Lewis, his defense isn't that great, which is a sad thing given he's been devoting himself to baseball for much of his life. And he's still not hitting for much HR power, but is good for getting on base and extra-base power and some steals, kind of like a lefty Randy Winn with poorer defense but better basestealing. He's never been considered that good a prospect on an overall basis, but has done well. Plus, he's not that young, he'll be in his early 30's by the time the Giants are ready to compete again, 2010 and later.


If Lewis is traded, Roberts would probably start in LF, so I can see the heckles on that, but then we would have Rickie Weeks starting at 2B for us. Rickie Weeks was a former top 5-10 draft pick (I think 5 but hedging), a former top prospect with a LOT of potential, but he's been unable to capitalize on all his talents consistently with the Brewers. In addition, he's been injury prone as well.


They don't have to time to watch and hope he figures things out, as they showed with the CC Sabathia trade, they are playing for now, this season, but the Giants do have the time to see if he figures things out. He is a much better prospect than Lewis ever was, and if the Giants can figure out how to harness that - it will be like getting another high draft pick on the team. It would also clear a corner outfield position for Schierholtz or a key free agent signing (lots of power corner OF usually available), whereas middle infield players like Weeks are not often available in the free agent market, especially not young like he is.

Anytime you can get a prospect like Rickie Weeks without giving up an equivalent level of talent (big assumption on my part, but I don't see the Giants parting with Bumgarner or Alderson for Weeks, or even Sanchez), you have to roll the dice and see what happens. Hopefully the Giants and Sabean can pull this off.

3 comments:

  1. Are we talking about ther same rickie weeks who bats 8th in the order. We want to rebuild. Not get a second base hitting Omar!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're way off the mark on Lewis' D, he's been a top 3 defensive LF in the NL all year long.

    He might not look pretty in the OF, but he's a solid defender at his position.

    ReplyDelete
  3. We are talking about the Rickie Weeks who last year hit .273/.442/.553/.995 with 11 HR in 150 AB at the end of the 2007 season. Think that wouldn't look good in our lineup?

    Chris, I think you've mentioned the same for me before: small samples. He has around 130 chances in the outfield, in part time play. I think ugly is as ugly does when it comes to fielding.

    Because, when you come right down to it, there is no definitive fielding stat out there yet - no fault on your part - and the best out there, I think, is the one available via Baseball Musing, which is based on the work of MGL. It is hard to tell, since Lewis was spread across the OF in 2007, but he looked like he was about average in 2007, so I will grant that perhaps he might be average.

    However, to call him a solid defender, based on about half a season of games when he was merely average last season (seemed that way looking at the regular fielding stats available via Baseball Reference.com as well) seems to be jumping the gun by a lot. Perhaps he has been solid thus far this season, but to declare him a solid defender is too soon to do. Even looking through his past evaluations for defense, he's only been noted as average.

    Just like how pitchers can look good over long stretches of the season, due to depressed BABIP (which implies that defenders are getting to balls at a rate higher than the mean) or despite poor K/BB ratio, defenders can look "solid" for stretches too, as you can see by how BABIP varies during the year and by pitcher.

    However, I will grant that Lewis has been having to adjust to different OF positions in the majors while he played mainly CF coming up the system, so perhaps he is learning to play LF well. But still, too soon to say that definitively, all you can really say is that he's been playing well thus far this season.

    ReplyDelete

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