Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Youth Marches On; Some to the DL

Various Giants news I wanted to cover:
  • Assignments for the off-season have been made:
  • Arizonza Fall League: Osiros Matos, Kelvin Pichardo, Kevin Pucetas, Alex Hinshaw, Emmanuel Burriss, Ryan Rohlinger, and Ben Copeland. Most of the top prospects on the cusp of making the majors end up playing here, so the competition is very high level, though there are a number of players who are question marks who the team sends here to see how they do against higher competition. I guess Kevin Frandsen will be playing winter leagues this off-season, to get ABs, while Burriss won't be playing for the Dominican team that drafted him.
  • Hawaiian Winter League: Waldis Joaquin, Steven Edlefsen, Buster Posey (!), and Roger Kieschnick. According to the Merc's account, player personnel director Bobby Evans says, "The pitching in Hawaii is essentially on a Double-A level. It's a great opportunity for a couple of guys in the draft who need to get caught up on at-bats." Also a nice treat for Posey, getting to spend time in Hawaii, but he lucked out in that the Giants were allowed to bring on a C and OF to the team, so they were able to chose him. If the assignment was SS, I suppose Brandon Crawford would have gotten the call instead. Baggarly speculates that "his performance here could influence whether he is assigned to Class A San Jose or Double-A next season." Notice he didn't say Connecticut, there are rumors the Giants might switch teams for next season (good riddance!). Wanted to note the reference to AA level, that was odd, because I could have sworn it was more A level because when Schierholtz was sent there a couple of years back, I had the impression he was facing lower talent. If it is AA, then this would be a good test of Posey, though given how well he has done in the California League playoffs with San Jose, I think it would be an upset if he doesn't start the year in AA; still Weiters did this route last season and he did very well there, so that will be a nice comparison point for us with Posey, Kieschnick too. Nice to see Waldis Joaquin get the call, he's a high potential pitcher derailed by Tommy John Surgery who appears to be regaining his stuff, so this is a good sign that he is back in the Giants eyes and getting more IP to make up the loss of experience when he sat out last season.
  • Velez drove in Sandoval for the winning run in yesterday's game. If you have Tivoed the news last night, re-watch Pablo Sandoval score the winning run. First, he was amazingly agile in running the bases given his husky body type. But more importantly, look at the way he scores the winning run, he astutely dives to the far side to touch the plate, just scoring a split second before the catcher reaches to tag him out at the plate. There was literally no margin for error there, he did it perfectly, like an Olympic gymnast, only he's built like a fire hydrant.
  • Zito strikes out 9 in 6 IP, striking out the side twice, including his last IP. Since he started his nice streak with his start on June 25, Zito has gone 7-5 with a 4.52 ERA, 7.5 H/9, 7.0 K/9, 0.6 HR/9, .223/.319/.361/.680, BABIP roughly .250, the only bad stat (and it's pretty bad) is his 4.6 BB/9, but that is how he has survived all these years anyhow with a higher BB/9, he was able to keep his BABIP lower than the mean that everyone is suppose to regress to. Still, he will need to reduce that down to the mid-3's to return to old-Barry goodness
  • The more significant number among those is his 7.0 K/9. When Zito was able to win during his early to mid-career years, he was able to keep his K/9 higher. He last reached this rate in 2004, when he had a 6.9 K/9 for the season. He had much higher K/9 his first two seasons, so he's not back to that Barry, but he is about the rate for his 2002-2005 period, when he compiled an ERA of 3.58 in the AL (equivalent to a 3.30-3.40 ERA in the NL, as the NL has a lower ERA due to lack of DH and getting to pitch to lousy hitting pitchers instead).
  • Zito won't lose 20, Giants won't lose 100. With his no-decision, Barry officially cannot lose 20 games, something a Giants pitcher hasn't done since the great Rube Marquard lost 22 in 1914 (he won 24, 26, and 23 games the three seasons before, 201 in total). With the four game win streak, particularly their first game win over the D-backs, the Giants are now 64-80 and the worse they can do is lose 98 games, so they will not "achieve" the loss total that many Giants fans had them pegged for. My prediction, I believe, was that they would be closer to 80 wins than 62 wins (i.e. 100 losses), so they will need to win 8 games out of the last 18 (or go 8-10) in order to reach that. I think it could go either way, but if they give Lincecum an extra start (probably last minute change of his last start to move it up a day so that he gets his normal days rest between starts, enabling him to start against the D-gers on the last day) depending on whether he has a chance to win 20 games or not)
  • Burriss to "DL", Lewis Soon to Join: Emmanuel Burriss, right after being annointed the starting SS for your 2009 Giants, hurt the accursed oblique muscle and will miss the rest of the season, but since it's September, they don't need to put him officially on the DL. However, as noted above, he'll be going to the AFL as he should be healed by then. Fred Lewis is finally going under the knive for his painful bunion (can you imagine how well he might have done if he wasn't bothered by it?) on Friday and will miss the rest of the season. According to Baggarly's account, he should be healed in time for spring training, though sometimes it could take as long as 6 months.

Also wanted to note some baseball news:

  • Derek Jeter passed Babe Ruth on Yankees all-time hits list. He just got his 2,519th hit, moving past the Babe for second place. Lou Gehrig is first with 2,721, which means that despite the long gloried history that is the Yankees, they have never had a player who reached 3,000 hits with them, not Ruth (started career with Red Sox), Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra, nor Mattingly. Jeter is only 35 for next season, and will need roughly 2.5-3 seasons to reach 3,000, so while it is not a slam dunk that he will reach it, the Yankees will probably stretch it out enough so that he can and then they can celebrate that and his career at the same time.
  • But will he reach 3000? The ominous thing is that his OPS+ this season is 103, the worse since he was 23 in 1997 when he had a 103 season. Since then he has been able to keep it above 110, ranging from 110 to 153, mostly between 121-132 for the 10 seasons in-between. In fact, he has declined from 132 in 2006 to 121 in 2007 to 103 in 2008. The end could be nigh for Jeter, he can definitely be able to play another two seasons but the third is questionable given this trend and the drop back to OPS+ levels not seen since his early days.
  • D-backs Falling Back. As a Giants fan, I'm torn. The D-gers just passed the D-backs like they were standing for first place and now lead by 2.5 games (maybe more after the Giants swept them), after the D-backs had led all season long. If the D-backs lose the pennant again, that could really get into their psyche and since they are mostly young guys, they could be haunted by this for the rest of their careers. However, if the D-backs don't win, then that would mean the D-gers would win, and I fundamentally have a problem with them winning anything, particularly since it could be Jeff Kent's last hurrah season. However, if the D-backs take back the lead and the pennant, that could give them a boost that would last for the career as well. Meanwhile, the 'DoRocks lurks in third place, much like last season, though they are only 4-6 in their last 10 games and 7 games back, close enough to dream but not realistically doable with only 17 games left for them. If they were to win AGAIN their confidence will become ginormous and with their young core, they could become formidable as well in the coming years. The 'Dres are too far back to even hope that they would pass up the Giants, let alone the leaders; heck, they are mathematically out anyhow. So, sadly, I find myself drawn to, not rooting for the D-gers to win, but for the D-gers, D-backs and 'DoRocks to lose (particularly since the Giants are facing the D-backs again in a week) and let the spit land where they land. I'm just hoping, whoever wins the division by default, loses big in the first round, and, particularly if the D-gers are in the playoffs, Jeff Kent has a nice big fat goose-egg as a send-off on his career, which, by the way, I don't think is Hall of Fame worthy, despite what other people say.

1 comment:

  1. Good news about the Fred Lewis surgery: the Giants are moving Randy Winn to LF and giving Nate Schierholtz most of the starts in RF, making him more of a full-time RF for the rest of the season.

    So Nate is getting a pretty good look in RF, there is still 17 games left in the season, so he will probably get to start around 15 games. That should be a pretty test run for him to show what he can do, though it would have been nicer if Lewis got his surgery at the start of September instead of now, that would have given Nate a whole month.

    But still, he got a number of starts once he got up here so it wasn't like he was sitting. Just it would have helped his preparation and mindset knowing he was going to get starts going forward, instead of wondering what's happening next.

    Still, not doing too shabby, he did get into 7 games out of 9, and has been hitting .462/.533/.731/1.264. Of course, he won't keep that up, but it's worlds better than doing what Veliz or Bocock or Ortmeier did this season once they were given the chance, which was flop.

    Thinking about it further, perhaps it was Nate's fast start that pushed the Giants to do Lewis' surgery now, both to give time to Schierholtz now plus to have Lewis more likely to be ready by spring training. In addition, if he does well in this audition, even if Lewis did have his recovery delayed into the season, it could be solved by having Schierholtz starting in place of him.

    And that could still support trading Winn, as Roberts would play LF in Lewis's absence while Nate takes RF. And if Roberts can play like he can, he would make the case that another team would take on his contract for the rest of 2009 (last season in contract) should an injury make them short.

    Which would leave our OF as Lewis, Rowand, Schierholtz.

    I would be greatly disappointed if Winn isn't traded this off-season, unlike last off-season (and this trade season) as there was still question marks about whether Nate is ready or not, it was not like he was dominating AAA last season. But this season has removed these question marks, I believe. And Winn has been great for us this season, despite all fans snark that the Giants have so many CF.

    More importantly, I think, is that this delays the clock on Nate's service so that more of his career will span the rest of young pitchers coming to the fore, Cain, Lincecum, Wilson, players I expect the Giants to sign beyond their arbitration years or I'll be upset.

    ReplyDelete

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