Monday, September 08, 2008

Burriss Named Starting SS for 2009

Or at least it is his position to lose: Merc's account.

Emmanuel Burriss is the first big winner in the Giants' youth movement sweepstakes.

General Manager Brian Sabean said Sunday that Burriss has made enough improvement in recent weeks that the starting shortstop job will be the 23-year-old's to lose when the Giants open camp next spring.

"He plugs that position as far as I'm concerned,'' Sabean said before the Giants' 11-6 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. "He's come a long way. He's more confident defensively, he's certainly done well with the bat — he's probably exceeded some expectations — and his arm's gotten better.''

Burriss is batting .358 (24 for 67) since mid-August...


Looks like he's learning from Carney Lansford on how to hit better. Plus, his defense was always a question mark coming up, some thought his best position would be 2B. But given the Giants plethora of options at 2B but paucity of options at SS (Bocock didn't hit well when he returned to the minors, in fact, he did extremely poorly at AAA; in the Giants season of "throw the jell-o to the wall and see what sticks" methodology to trying out prospects, Bocock didn't stick) as long as he is at least passable at SS defensively and can hit OK, he's got the job.

Also:

Burriss split time at shortstop with Vizquel for much of June and early July, but until recently his future appeared to be at second base. After more than a month at there, Burriss was in the lineup at shortstop on Aug. 29, and he's been the starter there for eight of the past nine games.

Asked if he feels like he's establishing himself as a major leaguer, Burriss said, "I feel like I'm working on it. They are putting me in the position to feel like that.''

Now the Giants are convinced he can handle shortstop. His development, especially as a hitter, convinced the Giants that he's a better alternative to seeking a free agent this winter.

So congrats to Burriss for his achievement, he has done very well since he got his chance.

SFGiants.com had their version of the events:

General manager Brian Sabean asserted Sunday that he's projecting Emmanuel Burriss as the starting shortstop as the offseason nears. The switch-hitting Burriss, 23, who has eclipsed 41-year-old Omar Vizquel as the team's primary shortstop, entered Sunday's series finale against Pittsburgh batting .355 (22-for-62) with eight RBIs in his previous 20 games...

Burriss' emergence will enable the Giants to focus more heavily on other priorities, most notably finding a power-hitting corner infielder. "You guys know the price of doing business in the market. You're not going to get a shortstop and solve your other needs, too," Sabean said.

Barely more than a month ago, Burriss was included among the crowded field of candidates for the second-base job. But since starting 24 games at second from July 27-Aug. 27, Burriss has made eight of his last nine starts at shortstop.


About the Giants 2B situation, Sabes had this to say:

Sabean was less definite about the Giants' chances of filling their second-base vacancy from within. Contenders include Eugenio Velez, Ivan Ochoa, Travis Denker and Kevin Frandsen, who's recovering from a ruptured left Achilles tendon.

"Franny's the wild card," Sabean said. "Anything he does this year, we won't critically analyze or evaluate. We're going to have to wait until Spring Training and see how it looks. Anything he does on the field, whether it's in instructional league or if we brought him up here for the end, would be a bonus."


The Merc added about the 2B situation:
Top among those needs is a second baseman. The Giants are taking a long look at defensively challenged Velez. Sabean said the club would not consider moving third-base prospect Gillaspie to second base in hopes of adding a power-hitting third baseman this winter, but said Kevin Frandsen will be in the mix even though he's missed the season with an Achilles tendon injury.

Interesting point here was the note about Gillaspie. There were rumors of moving him to 2B because it was feared that he won't hit or field good enough to man 3B. Obviously, with the call-up, he is getting his chance at 3B.

About Posey:

Sabean also sounded duly impressed after watching catcher Buster Posey play Saturday night with Class A San Jose in a California League playoff game. It was Sabean's first opportunity to see Posey perform in the flesh since the Giants selected him fifth overall in June's First-Year Player Draft.

"He was as advertised," Sabean said. "He caught and threw exceptionally well, threw a runner out easily, blocked the ball, caught third strikes." Sabean added that Posey demonstrated power, discipline and plate coverage while going 1-for-4 with an RBI single.

But Sabean said that the Giants won't summon Posey to the Majors, as they have done with third baseman Conor Gillaspie, their sandwich pick in this year's Draft.

"We've already got that position spoken for, at least for this year," Sabean said. "It would be counterproductive for the people here, not for him. He might have good experience here, but with Bengie [Molina], [Pablo] Sandoval and [Steve] Holm, there's no reason to experiment. We need to experiment more at third base."

Sounds good, plus Posey is a much larger investment, they are going to give him all the chance and time in the world to deliver value, whereas they didn't pay that much for Gillaspie, so they could be a little more rushed in evaluating him, because if he doesn't develop in three years, he's probably not the long-term solution there either.

11 comments:

  1. Finally! It's about time the Giants let some of their young position players get a consistent shot in the starting lineup.

    Who do you like to take over 2B? I'm rooting for Frandsen. I feel like he has never received a fair shot with the Giants. He has performed very well in every level in the minors. I really hope the Giants do not go out and get a free agent stop gap guy for 2B. It kind of sounds like Sabean is leaning toward using free agency to fill 2B though.

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  2. I'm rooting for Frandsen and if he can return to how well he hit for before, I think the job is his, there's no way Velez or Ochoa can hit that well, and Denker can't field as well as Frandsen.

    He did get a fair shot with the Giants, he got most of the ABs late in 2007 and did well with them. That basically won him a starting spot for 2008 until he blew out thi ACL.

    I believe that he is part of the reason the Giants kept 3B open this past off-season. If Durham as horrible, they expected Frandsen to take over and be the starting 2B. Otherwise, they kept 3B open so that they could start (and evaluate) Frandsen there. It wouldn't have been idea, but it would give him regular starting role and then if he hit well enough, then he would take over 2B in 2009.

    Sabean has not really indicated much of anything regarding 2B other than listing all the suspects we have battling for that position. The number one priority was "finding a power-hitting corner infielder," according to the sfgiants.com account (that's why you have to read multiple accounts, this point was not mentioned in the Merc's account, meanwhile the Chron makes it less definitive, noting Sabean saying "I hope that" when asked about Burriss starting, while also adding that Sabean noted about Sandoval "He'll be on the field somewhere next year as a starting player.")

    Looks like if they try to get a power hitting corner infielder, via free agency or trading (probably Sanchez if trigger pulled) while Sandoval will automatically get the other position.

    Though, I would not put it past Sabean to look to trade Benjie Molina if he can get a good deal back in return. In that case, then Sandoval would catch.

    I think Sabean will use Sandoval's flexibility to adjust who he gets and where.

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  3. The Merc's notebook noted more detailed info on Posey's day by Sabean:

    "Offensively, his first at-bat he showed power, second at-bat he showed plate discipline, third at-bat he showed plate coverage. He's a well round plyaer - as I said, as advertised."

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  4. Again, got to read several accounts to get the full story. Chron's Hank Schulman had the best quote of Sabean on Posey, plus information on the team's philosophy on prospects (though not quite always true, they mucked with Bumgarner's mechanics before letting him return to his old form after 3 horrible starts; he went from ERA around 9 to ERA around 0.90):

    Sabean called Posey's performance "a scout's dream. He caught and threw exceptionally well. He threw a runner out easily, blocked the ball and caught third strikes. Offensively, his first at-bat he showed power, his second at-bat he showed plate discipline, third at-bat he showed plate coverage. He's a well-rounded player. It doesn't take much to figure that out. He's got a lot of presence."

    Posey also has a funky, complicated swing. His stance open, he starts with the bat slung over his shoulder, the barrel pointing toward the ground. As the pitcher begins his windup, Posey briefly raises the bat parallel to the ground before lifting it to begin his swing. Busy swings like that often do not fly in the majors, but Sabean said the organization will leave it be for now.

    "A first-year player is pretty well hands-off, including going into spring training," he said. "We really don't care whether the guy stands on his head as long as he is able to get into position to be able to launch his swing. He's certainly able to do that."

    NOTE: I personally would love to see a batter try to hit a pitch standing on his head, but I guess that's me. :^)

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  5. Burriss may be done for the season. Strained oblique. It's mentioned at the end of the article about Lincecum's pitching yesterday (9/8) on sfgiants.com.

    If the Giants go out and get a power hitting 1B, which would probably be easier than getting a power hitting 3B, do you think Sandoval can handle 3B defensively?

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  6. I was going to post on this, but, yeah, not may be, it sounded like it's probably will be, from the account I read on the Merc. That's too bad, I would have liked to see him play the rest of the season and see how he does with the weight of being annointed the starting SS.

    Here's the account: http://blogs.mercurynews.com/extrabaggs/2008/09/09/burriss-likely-done-for-the-season/

    Most analyst scouting I've see on Sandoval show him as potentially average defensively at 1B and 3B, so based on that, I think he should be fine at 3B. As further evidence, the Giants have kept him there and regularly start him there, but earlier in the season, they gave Velez the shot and pretty much shut him down soon afterward with regards to 3B, he just couldn't handle the defense there.

    Here is BA's verdict (but from 2006's book, they didn't have him listed in either the 2007 or 2008 prospect book, they swung and missed on him): "Defensively, he got off to a solid start at thirde base, and he has the tools to stick there. His hands and arm are solid-average for the hot corner, though his range is somewhat limited. He's athletic despite a pudgy 5-foot-11 frame that never will look good in a uniform. If he styas in shape and grows into third base with experience, Sandoval could develop into an average defender with line-drive bat capable of hitting .300."

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  7. Martin,

    Thanks for your insightful blog. I am a frequent reader, but this is my first time posting here. I am in full agreement with you regarding Schierholtz ability to replace Winn next season. Schierholtz appears to be ready, although we haven't seen quite enough of him yet to be certatin. However, I wonder if the Giants have considered trying to trade Rowand, whose contract is even bigger than the one Winn will command, and re-signing Winn for a three year deal. Not very likely I realize, but it would be the best move for the Giants. Winn is an ideal ATT Park type player (gap power and speed). Rowand is not (gap power but no speed).

    I disagree with you when you say that Velez lacks the ability to land the 2nd base position next year, and not just because he has won the last two games for the Giants! I have watched virtually every Giants game this year and Velez can hit! The Giants wasted a bunch of time with Ochoa at SS and Burriss and 2nd when Burriss should have been at SS and Velez at 2nd. Velez' average may be low this year, but I would contend that the reason his average is low is because the Giants have massively mishandled him. He has never been given consistent ABs ALL SEASON, which are essential for any developing hitter. Velez has great gap power and with his speed is perfectly suited to playing at ATT park. Frandsen may indeed prove to be the stronger candidate, but Frandsen has yet to prove that he can hit in the bigs. He may prove himself yet, but in my mind, Velez has already proven himself with his bat. He just needs serious off-season work on his defensive fundamentals and baserunning. This is an easier problem to fix than the hitting.

    The Giants need to trade Molina in the off-season, retain Sandoval behind the plate, and acquire a free-agent power-hitting corner infielder. If Posey can win a big-league job in spring training, Sandoval can be moved to whatever infield corner is not acquired via free agency or a Jonathon Sanchez trade. If not, Sandoval should stay behind the dish. He is a premier offensive catcher, an merely average offensive corner infielder.

    Don't get me wrong, I love Molina, Rowand, and Sanchez. This is just what the Giants must do to win next year. With the depth of pitching the Giants have in the bigs and minors, they are only one or two key moves from winning their division next year.

    Would love to hear your thoughts.

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  8. I feel really good heading into next season with our young core of players. I'm actually pretty excited! Over the last couple of months we've seen what our young players are capable of.

    I think Ishikawa is vastly underrated. He did have a couple of bad games defensively but overall I think he's a better option at first than Bowker. He's shown some pop in his bat and given regular playing, I believe he'll project:
    BA
    .260 - .270
    HR
    20 - 30
    RBI
    70 - 85
    I see Bowker as more of a "off the bench power hitter". He has huge holes in his swing that he needs to fix in order to stay it in the bigs.

    I was really excited in spring training knowing that Frandsen had a good shot at starting at 2B, me being an SJSU alum and all, but I really believe this guy is going to tear it up next year. He's a very good contact hitter and has shown tremendous patience at the plate. I project him hitting:
    BA
    .280 - .310
    HR
    5 - 10
    RBI
    60 - 70
    I've heard a lot of people say that he doesn't have enough range at second, but you'd be surprised how scrappy this guy is. HE'S A GAMER.

    I see Fred Lewis growing more as a hitter next season. The Giants have given him a chance to hit in the middle of the order and hasn't dissapointed. I see him hitting:
    BA
    .270 - .290
    HR
    17 - 25
    RBI
    70 - 80

    Nate Schierholtz is a guy I've been waiting for a along time. I love Rowand but I just didn't understand his signing this last off season when Sabean said that we were going into a youth movement. Well this is the first year that the "youth movement" is actually taking place. Rowand is in his prime right now, but I feel we're stuck in a Catch-22 situation in which we need strong, veteran, vocal leaders such as Aaron, but at the same time give our young players a chance. With Winn and Rowand starting in center and right, you have players like Schierholtz, Lewis, Velez, that are switching off in the outfield.

    I know this is a long post but I also wanted to comment on our young pitching.
    It seems that Tim Alderson and Madison Bumgarner are on the fast track to the majors. They have both shown they can pitch. Personally, I think Bumgarner should have been promoted to San Jose. I believe that Bumgarner won the triple crown in pitching at Low A Augusta. He had:
    ERA
    1.46
    W-L
    15-3
    SO
    164

    Alderson was equally impressive with:
    ERA
    2.79
    W-L
    13-4
    SO
    124

    With the abundance of young pitching in our minor/major league system I think we should trade for a young power hitting prospect. The A's have a young hitter in high class A ball by the name of Chris Carter. He's only 21 and has shown power in all levels that he's played in. He hit:

    HR
    39
    RBI
    104

    but only hit .259 and struck out 156 times. With the abundance in pitching and lack of power, and our turn into the youth movement, don't you think this would be a good idea?

    I think we have plenty of bargaining chips with Lowry and Sanchez in the bigs and Pereira, Pichardo, Snyder, English, and Pucetas in the minors.

    If Alderson and Bumgarner keep pitching like this I see both of them making it to the bigs around the same time probably in 2010-2011. With that said we would have a young rotation of

    Time Lincecum
    Matt Cain
    Barry Zito
    Jonathan Sanchez (assuming he's not traded)
    Tim Alderson
    Madison Bumgarner

    The future is looking very bright.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for the compliment, your comments, BigWig, much appreciated.

    Sorry to say, as much as I like Randy Winn, he's 35 next season, his last contract year, so a 3-year would tie him up to age 38. Meanwhile, Rowand will only be 31 and still in his mid-30's when his contract is done. In addition, as well has he has played RF for us, most observers I've seen says that he is very good defensively on the corners but his range is lacking in CF, he is subpar there. And CF is where we would need him to play with Lewis and Schierholtz hopefully in the OF in 2009. And given Lewis's adventures in LF, that probably rivals Kevin Mitchell's antics out there, I would not want to see him in CF, if you put Winn in LF.

    And what is wrong with Rowand? Despite whatever limitations he may have in speed or whatever, he was still among the MLB's leader in Dewan's Plus/Minus Fielding Stat, he had a +21 over the 2005-2007 period, good for a tie for 9th in the majors. And Dave Roberts, who has a lot of speed, was rated a -19 in CF in 2007, 3rd worse in the majors (ironically Gary Matthews Jr., supposedly a good fielding CF was first with -26).

    Winn is the one who should go, he'll be easily to peddle (only one year to go; consistent average hitter with great defense and now stealing well).

    About Velez, I guess I didn't make my viewpoint well enough, but it is his fielding that I believe will cause him to not be a starter for us, I don't think he can muster up enough offense to make up for the problems he has on defense. Hopefully he can work on it during the off-season, but that has been his position (2B) for many years now and if he's still so lousy at it, I have little hopes that he will improve enough.

    Meanwhile, Frandsen is considered a good fielding 2B - "arm and range are excellent at second base" - while he also is pretty good with his bat. You say he hasn't proven anything but in his short time up with us the past few years, particularly at the end of 2007 when they did give him plenty of starting gigs to show his stuff, and he delivered.

    Meanwhile, Veliz, who got a similar chance to impress management in April, when he played in 27 games, started 19, and got 88 AB (90 PA), which is more than enough playing time to show what he can do, hit .250/.267/.386/.653, hardly what I would call a superior bat and he had just as much time to show his stuff as Frandsen.

    I will grant, though, that he has hit better with his second chance, once he got over his jitters in July, from August to now, he has hit .302/.309/.434/.743 since then, with only 6 K's in 53 AB, which shows a good bat in that way. But still, one walk, very poor OBP, the only way he is going to add value to any lineup is to get on base and then to steal a million bases. Because, as the old saying goes, you can't steal 1B. And a .309 OBP put him down in Pedro Feliz territory, not a good thing.

    Frandsen, last season, from August to the end of the season hit: .295/.347/.439/.786, and he only had 9 K's in 132 AB, which is excellent, plus he got 8 walks, with is also excellent, as you want to have as many walks as strikeouts if you want to be one of the better hitters.

    Better offense, better defense: Frandsen wins hands down. Now, of course, this is predicated on Frandsen coming back the way he was before, a big "IF". But he's clearly driven by the memory of his beloved big brother, to honor that memory, so he is maximizing his talents to the fullest. I would not bet against him coming back same as before, particularly with a clear path to 2B now that Burriss is the SS.

    I would have preferred keeping Molina, so that he could continue mentoring Sandoval next season, while Sandoval could then play a lot of 1B, 3B, as well as backup C, but his public crying over not getting to catch Zito left a bad taste in my mouth. I now would hope the Giants listen to offers for him and trade him for the best offer and let Sandoval start at C. Bochy could mentor him if necessary, he was formerly a MLB catcher.

    Also, history of the Giants show that personnel who openly complain about Giants or talk about leaving (Aurilia - openly asked for a 4 year, $32M contract and was miffed when the Giants didn't even negotiate, Baker, Kent, Shooter, Morris, Linden, Benitez, etc. ) tend to become former Giants soon afterward.

    Sandoval is average at best at 1B, but he would be at least average at 3B. Still, I agree with you that he is most certainly going to be above average offensively at C.

    I think Posey starting at C is a long-shot for 2009 opening game, but possible by mid-to-late season.

    While I like the idea of making a free agent splash for a 1B (no 3B is worth that, IMO), his salary would probably be so high that with Zito on the books along with this player, when Cain and Lincecum hit their free agent years, we might not be able to afford to sign them long term (unless Neukom brings in some big cash to help bridge the two periods, which is possible, he essentially promised that in his initial statements after getting selected).

    And I agree, I've seen saying here that I think the Giants can win with one or two more power bats in the lineup, and Sandoval is looking like one, with Schierholtz and Ishikawa exciting me about them powering up the lineup, at minimum against RHP. Plus Lewis says that he has been holding back, so I am anxious to see how he does as the #3 hitter in 2009.

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  10. Martin,
    You make a compelling case for Frandsen over Velez as the favorite for the 2nd base position. I am sure that you are right, he is indeed the favorite. I hope that he gets some ABs this season in the majors before winter ball, but it is not looking good. Thanks for the stats on Velez. I am surprised Velez's on base percentage is that low. I still contend that he has not been given a fair shake regarding consistent ABs, despite this spring, which even then was not an everyday role. I think that Velez could be a .300 hitter with speed and gap power, but you are right when you say he needs to work on strike zone discipline to merit a higher position in the order at this time. I think you have convinced me that he belongs in the back of the order, not the front, although it is painful to see him in scoring position with nobody but the pitcher to drive him in.

    I agree with you that the free agent acquisition (or trade) in the offseason should be for a 1B rather than 3B if at all possible. However, I am still a little bit nervous with Sandoval at 3B. I still contend that Molina should go in the offseason (although I love his heart and he has contributed in a major way this season). He looks terrible trying to block balls, usually using his glove rather than his body. Arm is good though.

    I will need to keep thinking about Winn vs. Rowand. I may be a bit high on Winn because of his great last month and a half, but I see three more productive years for Winn no matter where he goes. I guess that I thought that Lewis could play centerfield when his bunion heals, but perhaps that assumption is wrong. He has had some moments of defensive ineptitude in LF, but I think he is doing fine for a rookie. Although Rowand is an average to slightly above average CF, I think that his ability there is on the decline. I also think that his offense is fine in most parks, but not well suited to AT&T. Also, Rowand strikes out too much and hits into a fair number of DPs. He would be a good 6 or 7 hitter on a club which is not so offensively challenged. Rowand is a good player/leader, but I have serious reservations about his qualities as a player versus his relative cost, and I guess that is my main complaint... overpaid vs. what the Giants get in return. Saving costs on the likes of Molina, Rowand, or Roberts might allow the Giants to pick up that one or two key offensive pieces.

    Thanks for digging up all of the cool stats which you are constantly providing! Wishing you the best.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well, you could very well be right too, BigWig, as I haven't seen Velez hit much, but that's what the stats say so far. That plus Frandsen has been very good rising through the minors, while Velez has had his troubles coming up, though very nice season this year in AAA (but then again, he is already 26 years old, nearly past the prospect-worthy age. And he's had his troubles striking out against much lesser competition in the minors, so that don't bode well for the majors unless he can continue to develop.

    I'm OK with Molina going, you have made good points, just don't know that the Giants will do that. However, his latest outburst probably didn't win him any kudos in the front office, that could be the final straw as it was pretty petty and pretty public. Sabean don't like insubordination and Molina did it in spades with his outbursts (first Sabean, now Bochy). Sabean has tended to dump or let go people like that: Shooter, Kent, Baker, Morris, Benitez, etc.

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