Friday, October 10, 2008

Purge of the 40 Man Roster

As reported on, the Giants have opened up a number of spots on the 40 man roster; they are now at 33, which means 7 spots are open.

The players outrighted or released, most expected, some unexpected, are:
  • Tyler Walker
  • Kevin Correia
  • Brad Hennessey
  • Eliezer Alfonzo
  • Geno Espinelli
  • Scott McClain
  • Ivan Ochoa
The Giants also activated Noah Lowry and Merkin Valdez. Lastly, Travis Denker, who had been waived, was claimed by the San Diego Padres.

As noted:
Each of the outrighted players can opt for free agency except for Espineli,
who has not been outrighted before and falls one year short of qualifying for
six-year Minor League free agency. A Giants spokesman said that the other six
have informed club management that they intend to pursue their options in free
agency, with the possible exception of Correia.

This makes sense. Hennessey is probably tired of not having a set role and being used in all sorts of ways. Walker probably is tired of the fans using him as a whipping boy, as much as he enjoyed pitching for his boyhood team. Alfonzo can see the writing on the wall, with Sandoval probably the main backup for the Giants and Posey on the way up. McClain enjoyed his time here, but isn't going to get a chance to even be a bench player, so he may as well kick the tires with other teams first. Ochoa has put in time like McClain, hoping for a chance, but the Giants probably made it clear that he has no chance to make the majors with them.

Correia, on the other hand, despite his public grumbling earlier this season, is comfortable here plus Bochy is his college roommate's father, so he knows he will always get a fair shake from Bochy. The main problem is that if Lowry is back, Correia's going back into the bullpen.

However, given Sabean's press conference, if the trade route is the best way to get another bat and Cain and Lincecum are off-limits, the best trading chips would be Jonathan Sanchez, which would open up a spot in the rotation again for Correia, and his competition would be Misch, Palmer, and perhaps Joe Martinez and Adam Cowart. Thus he could resign for something around $500K-$750K with the Giants and be pretty much assured a starting spot for 2009, which is the main thing he wants to do, start.

Also, I was shocked that Denker was waived, all he has done while a Giants prospect is hit well, so all I can guess is that he is really a bad fielder. But still, someone like that could be valuable as a trading chip to an American League team, one would think. Then again, his MLE for this 2008 season, as nice as it looks, was still only .243/.332/.381/.713, which is below average even at 2B, his regular position, and pretty bad at 3B, another position he could play. Also, his numbers were skewed to the Grizzlies home park, making him all the less desirable. Still, he was only 22, he should still be able to develop, one would think.

I don't have a great idea who the Giants will be filling the 7 open spots with. I don't know the rules on when a team has to add or risk losing the player. The two pitchers I mentioned above, Joe Martinez and Adam Cowart are obvious choices. I guess they might like to add Brett Harper to the 40 man, he did very well in AAA for them and is only 26. Matt Downs would be another prospect who may be added. Since Ben Copeland is playing in the AFL, one would think he would be added. Michael Mooney has done well in spurts and is in AAA now, so maybe him too. Adam Witter and EME, maybe, David Maroul and Antoan Richardson, outside shots, but could be in mix. Benjamin Snyder and Jesse English are possibilities as well, the latter because he came in with Cain and should be running out of time. Kevin Pucetas has done very well coming up the system as well.


  1. I was also surprised at the Denker move. I don't know too much about his defense, but if he isn't the greatest fielder, the move makes sense given the Giants desperate need for defense. I had gotten used to the Giants being well known for their defense and wacthing them play the shoddiest defense I've seen in recent years this past season was gut wrenching. Great pitching becomes mediocre with poor defense behind them.

  2. I'm glad you brought up discussion about the 5th starter competition, but I'm wondering why you didn't include Erik Threets into the conversation.

    At the end of the season he had 4 starts(AAA) where he put up the following #'s: 3-0 W-L, 21 IP, 16 H, 4 ER, 8 BB, 15 K, 2.62 GO/AO, .205 AVG against, 1.71 ERA

    From what I remember hearing, he sacrificed a little velocity for control and obviously had some success. I have him as my dark-horse for the 5th starter and I hope he wins the job in spring. I know it will be hard for the FO to flush $4.5M to DFA Lowry, but the man simply cannot stay healthy.

    If Erik can continue to locate his pitches and keep the ball on the ground, he could very well surpass any expectations we would have for a 5th starter.

  3. Bawla311,

    Eric Threets is no longer on the 40man roster. He was outrighted to AAA back in the summer. I believe this will make him a minor league free agent and therefore we have no assurance that he will return to the Giants.

  4. OGC,

    Check your sources. It was my understanding that the Giants expected to re-sign both McClain and Ochoa to minor league contracts. I would expect Leone and Harper to also be of mutual interest in re-signing to minor league contracts as they too are now minor league free agents.

    In addition, Palmer will now be a minor league free agent as well but I have not heard any indication on the likelyhood that he will or will not return.

  5. giantsrainman, why don't you check the date things are posted.

    I posted soon after it was announced on the Giants official website. You are quoting from the Chron, which reported on it the day afterward plus noted the McClain and Ochoa POSSIBLE re-signings, not that it was expected.

    About Harper, I only noted they would be interested in him, I didn't know what his status was, thank you for clarifying that he is a free agent.

    About Palmer, I only threw his name in there because he was OK at AAA, but if he's a free agent, obviously he could leave. But I wouldn't shed a tear over it.

  6. Luigino, please cease and desist using my former symbol I used in my former blog. It is not cool to steal from other people. It is very creepy that you just went ahead and took my virtual property and started using it as your own.

  7. BawLa311, I think Threets was only used as a starter to give him more innings so that they can evaluate him better. He's been a reliever forever, so I can't imagine them switching him back now.

  8. You'll have to give me your analysis of Mike Mooney. After his showing in Connecticut last season, I felt he would be a strong candidate to be released.

  9. Small sampling, Anon, on Mike Mooney, if you are focusing on his Connecticut - though I agree if he put in a full season of that.

    Admittedly, he did do very poorly in Connecticut and only so-so in the PCL, which means his MLE was pretty bad in those to parts. He did really well in San Jose, though, in about half the season, bouncing around the levels. Overall, he hit .241/.295/.492/.787, which is nothing to write home with, but .272/.342/.543/.885 with 10 HR in 173 AB at San Jose. Yes, hit poorly in higher levels but his BABIP were low there as well, so perhaps he just needs time to adjust to the new level.

    At 25, 26 next season, his prospect clock is ticking to an end soon, but he has shown a decent amount of power (18 HR in 2008) and plays RF, so if Schierholtz and Bowker do end up in the majors, they could push him to AAA to see if he can show he is worth a look in the majors in 2010. He at least greatly reduced his strikeouts in 2008, while also improving his HR hitting. Plus has shown decent speed, stealing in double digits.

    Not a big prospect, probably won't make the majors, but certainly someone to keep on your radar, he did do well in San Jose in 2008 and decent enough in limited play in AAA.

  10. Ooops, that's what I get for doing mental math, his strikeouts were about the same. Still, nice HR power at all levels, BA hit hard with poor BABIP in AA and AAA, could surprise if can develop further in AAA.

  11. Yes, Mike Mooney does have some "pop". I was in Bakersfield for the first game of 2008 and saw his blast in his first AB of the season. Later in the game he tried to run over the catcher on a play at the plate and spent the next month, or so, in Extended Spring Training.

    Out of all the Outfielders in San Jose last season I was very surprised when Mooney got the call to go to Fresno. He does have an extra year of professional ball under his belt, but does that work in his favor or against him?

    I would think a 5th round pick like McBryde would warrant more of a "look-see" at the next level.

    I think this is the hardest thing for me to understand and I hope you can give me your opinion. The Giants don't want to rush players yet they keep players on their minor league rosters that appear to have no future in MLB. Are they just filling out their rosters?

    Then when they make the trade with Milwaukee in the middle of the season, they pick up Darren Ford. He has speed but little else. I thought a change of scenery to the West Coast might spark some improvement but it hasn't happened yet.

    Switching to the infield --- I see no mention of Brad Boyer's breakout season anywhere on any of the Giant pages. He was squaring up everything he saw during August.

    This is FarmSystem by the way, having trouble with my password. I'm looking forward to future articles from you.

  12. Thanks for the good questions FarmSystem, hopefully I can answer your questions completely.

    Yes, you are referring to players some people call "organizational players", players who are there mainly because the Giants (and every team) have to field a full team to play each game. McClain and Brian Cooper are the epitome of an organizational player, and they sometimes get the bone of playing in a September call-up as a reward for long service to the team or in general. Brian Dallimore would be another I can name.

    McBryde and other prospects will be promoted as their production indicates they are ready for the next level. Being in San Jose, McBryde, given he was OK but not great there (.751 OPS is only OK in the majors and there is a huge difference between the level of pitching talent in Advanced A and the majors), probably would get promoted to AA for 2009. However, he strikes out a little too much right now, about 20% (or 80% contact rate), to maintain a .295 batting average, which is a major portion of his overall OPS, so he could see a hit in OPS at Connecticut just due to that, nevermind the difficulties hitting in Dodd at Connecticut for any power (of which he has so little, he's probably not that affected). He might stall there, as many players have done when promoted to AA.

    Mooney probably got the call because the Giants are not that serious about him, whereas they are cultivating McBryde, whom I've seen an expert say he's the fastest in the Giants organization, at least until Burriss came along. The prospects they are most serious about don't get promoted until the Giants think they are ready, generally, while the ones they are not as high on gets promoted when there is a need at higher levels.

    Sometimes that leads to a breakout year, like when Henry Sosa got promoted to Augusta and was lights out, at least for half a year. Most of the time, they will just shuffle around until they get tired of it and retire.

    They are the unsung heroes, to me, because without them, the minors don't exist to give the true prospects the experience to learn and develop and move up to the majors.

    The truth is the majority of players in the minors will never see the majors, and the vast majority will never get more than a cup of coffee, a September or injury call up that gives them an entry in the eternal baseball registry. Some never get the chance but most just don't have the talent to make it long-term in the majors. Nothing to be ashamed about, just the facts that the bar is very high to make the majors and there is only 750 of these positions available.

    Yeah, Ford and the other throw-in, were in the deal mainly so that the Giants got something in exchange for Durham; I'm sure they would have been willing to give Durham to the Brewers for nothing except them taking on his salary, but that wouldn't be approved by the commissioner, so the Brewers (or any other team) offers to the other team a list of players they are willing to give up in the trade and the Giants select the ones they like best.

    Unless they are very young, like Picardo and Valdez were when we got them, they most probably are prospects who stalled along the way up in some way and the team has pretty much given up on them, but the other team is willing to take them and give them a look see, to see if they can do anything with them. Ford I would not have expected much out of, he had struggled to hit just in Advanced A-ball for a year already when we got him, he's not going to change overnight. He strikes out way too much, but walks a hell of a lot, showing he can judge the strike zone but don't have the bat speed to hit the balls in the strike zone. The only way he moves up is if the Giants can figure out how to increase his bat speed, perhaps he's mechanically screwed up and the Giants think they can fix that or perhaps because of his speed, they think that they can do a Burriss and teach him to bunt for hits more often.

    Yes, Brad Boyer had a very nice season in 2008 in San Jose. Here is my take on him: he strikes out too much to maintain his great hitting in San Jose this season. He couldn't hit for much in 2007 and until he fixes that strike out problem, he's probably not making the majors. And I'm not sure why he didn't play a full season, looks like he was injured in April and then was out for half of April, all of May and most of June before coming back and hitting well again.

    The thing is, he's 24 years old and had not shown much until this season. However, that was some great hitting so he deserves some comment. However, for the non-prospect, it is like that state motto, he has to "show me" again before he gets seriously taken as an up and coming prospect.

    As a 2B, he will get consideration because the bar is lower in terms of offensive contribution, but Frandsen hit and hit well at each level coming up, whereas Boyer has not, and at similar ages. If Boyer can hit this well at Connecticut in 2009, then he will have definitely put his name into play and earn a promotion to AAA for 2010 and perhaps the majors. But, not being highly heralded in the draft nor doing well in the minors until this season, and briefly at that, most will take a wait and see attitude with him.

    However, given your scouting account, then I would give more credence to him perhaps breaking out, that it wasn't just a fluke. He definitely boosted his HR power a lot - mid-20's is when players get a power boost finally, like Niekro - still, only the very best hitters can keep hitting .348 like Boyer did in roughly half a season, and they usually strike out at least half that much. It is good that he started out hitting, was injured, then returned as if nothing changed, that is encouraging too, it wasn't just a good groove he was in all the time, there was a break and he continued it.

    The most encouraging thing is the walks he gets, that will boost him up the system as he has speed (and good base stealing skills) to get him stolen bases.

    And the oddity of 2008 is that he was able to boost his BA even though he boosted his strikeouts. Perhaps he wasn't being aggressive enough previously at the plate, taking balls he should have been driving, but now in 2008 is finally executing it, striking out more but getting more hits, particularly homers.

    That would be great as we don't have much at 2B atop the system (unless Frandsen comes back the same he was when injured) and Noonan will probably spend 2009 at San Jose, he was OK but not great at Augusta, probably will rise just one year at a time (nothing to worry though, he's only 20 next season, one level per year puts him in the majors at age 23 in 2012, only very good ballplayers make the majors before they are 24-25).



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