Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sabean Knows Youth

I keep on reading how Sabean is out of touch with building a team with young players. Obviously, I disagree but I think too many people cling to their image of the Giants when Bonds was playing here, so I feel the need to write.

Rebuilds Take Time Plus It's Been Happening

First, you can only rebuild so fast using the draft to rebuild, there is not that much obvious talent available. After the top 5-10 picks, random luck plays a huge role in whether you find anyone of value or not, unless you are good at finding and selecting prospects. I haven't seen proof anywhere that any particular team has an advantage. Thus, it behooves a team, as per my Phoenix Rebuilding Strategy, to play poorly enough to get a Top 5 pick while keeping most of the fan base in the transition. The Giants have actually been doing something like that, living off of Bonds homerun chase, but doing poorly enough to get good talent in the draft with Top 10 picks and a #5 pick this year. The luck of two Golden Spike winners falling to us helped too.

While people have been crying over the old vets he signed for the lineup, he quietly rebuilt almost the entire pitching staff over the past few years with young players who he developed from the farm system, starting with Noah Lowry. And in 2008, most of the position players were from our farm system (albeit not very good, but still numerically outnumbered the mercenaries).

Change After Bonds

Some continue to complain about signing old vets, which was the policy when Bonds was around. They lump the Rowand signing with the old vets who were signed to get Bonds one more try at the World Series. Rowand, however, was only 30 years old for 2008, so he wasn't exactly old, as 30 is considered part of a players peak years.

Thus, Sabean did not sign one old veteran the off-season after Bonds was let go, other than Yabu, when he could have gone after old fogies at 1B, 2B, and 3B, plus the bullpen and rotation (he even released Kline and his over million dollar contract).

Sabean Can Rebuild On Youth: It's Not His First Time

And he has rebuilt a team based on youth before: when he first took over the Giants. The rotation for years was filled with 20-something players, Ortiz, Estes, Livan, Rueter, then he added Schmidt who I believe was 29 when we got him. He acquired Kent and Snow via trades, kept Aurilia and Mueller both who eventually started, signed Hamilton, and of course had Bonds around. He was also the guy in charge when the Yankees got Jeter, Posada, Pettitte, Riviera, among others.

And now he found Cain, Lincecum, Wilson, Lewis, Sandoval, Burriss, plus maybe Bumgarner, Alderson, Villalona, Rodriguez, Noonan, Fairley, Pucetas, Sosa, Cowart, Rohlinger, Snyder, Mike McBryde, Dan Otero, Adam Witter, Thomas Neal, Jorge Bucardo, Hector Sanchez, Julio Izturis, Ehire Adrianza, Daryl Maday, and of course, Posey, Gillaspie, Kieschnick, and Crawford, plus Barnes and Quirate, Mike Loree, and maybe Aaron King, plus Jesse English, EME, and Brett Harper (if he sticks around) as a dark horses. I also like Matt Downs and would give a shout out to Hector Sanchez.

Giants Thoughts

Here is our depth, based on homegrown prospects and contracts after 2009:

C: Posey, Sandoval, Adam Witter, Hector Sanchez
1B: Sandoval, Villalona, Ishikawa, Bowker, Neal, Hector Sanchez
2B: Frandsen, Velez, Noonan, Downs
3B: Sandoval, Villalona, Gillaspie, Rohlinger, Downs
SS: Burriss, Bocock, Adrianza, Izturis, Cumberland
LF: Lewis, Bowker, EME
CF: Rowand, Copeland, McBryde, Richardson, Fairley
RF: Schierholtz, Kieschnick, Rodriguez
SP: Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner, Alderson, Snyder, Henry Sosa, Waldis Joaquin, plus Zito
RP: Wilson (closer), Romo, Hinshaw, Matos, Sadler, Espineli, Otero, Ryan Paul, Kelvin Marte, Brian Anderson, and any failed starter

We should have plus hitters at C and wherever Villalona plays, plus above average at LF, CF, RF, whereever Sandoval plays, and potentially average at SS and 2B.   That would be a decent offense, which is all we need with a rotation headed by Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Zito, and Bumgarner, with Alderson perhaps serving initially in relief until one of Sanchez or Zito is traded. 

Only relief appears to be a potential problem area long term and Sabean said he would try to acquire someone for that.  At least we appear set at closer with Wilson and perhaps setup with Romo and Hinshaw, though we probably need another 2-3 dependable relievers.  Maybe Barnes, Loree, Snyder, Sosa, Joaquin, Matos, Sadler, and Espineli eventually.  

It also probably wouldn't hurt to acquire someone for middle infield, as none of the 2B and SS prospects look like they will be good enough for sure.  However, based on small sampling in the majors, it looks encouraging for Burriss and Frandsen (assuming he returns to normal from his injury).  Noonan is the only one I would bet on for sure out of the bunch, but he's far enough down in the minors and in OPS to raise questions on whether he'll ever make it.  I also like Ehire Adrianza but he is far away from making it to the majors yet.  

We should be competitive in 2009 and contenders in 2010 if the players continue to develop. Plus it wouldn't hurt to sign a few more 16 year old phenoms to stock up for the mid-2010's, when the above guys either develop or drop out.  Not too bad for someone who supposedly don't know how to rebuild with youth.

4 comments:

  1. I am pretty sure you have already seen Bill James Projections for the 2009 Giants that Grant provided on Mccovey Chronicles. But if you have not here are the links.

    http://www.mccoveychronicles.com/2008/10/22/640580/bill-james-and-the-2009-sa#comments

    http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/35980/billjamesprojections2009hit.jpg

    Clearly Bill James agrees with you that the Giants have done a pretty good job of developing offense in house. Bill projects solid middle of the order numbers from both Pablo Sandoval and Nate Schierholtz; quality top of order numbers from Lewis, acceptable bottom of the order numbers from Burriss, Frandsen, and Velez; and quality backup numbers from Bowker, Ishikawa, and Holm. Overall Bill James' numbers project the Giants offense to improve and score 739 runs in 2009 (without adding any new bats) which is slightly above the 2008 NL average of 734 runs and 99 more then the 640 runs the Giants scored in 2008.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the links giantsrainman!

    Other than the Denker joke, the other numbers look pretty on target.

    I don't have a quibble with much, other than I think Burriss will be able to hit better much than .664 OPS. His low strikeout rate shows he knows the strikezone and is able to make contact with the ball consistently; now he has to focus on making solid contact and turning them into line drives that turn into hits. According to Carney Lansford, he thinks he can give Burriss instruction on hitting more line drives, which should result in more hits AND more power. While Burriss is skinny, apparently he is stronger than he looks and Carney wants to tap into that.

    I like our lineup and if some players can develop, we can have a nice offense without acquiring anyone, though I would prefer we look into obtaining a 1B/3B with proven power (or even 2B).

    It would be my guess that Sabean will kick the tires and find that nobody is willing to give us a lot for Jonathan Sanchez and prospects, unless those prospects are Bumgarner and Alderson. That's not going to happen.

    Had he not imploded later in the season, maybe, since his ERA was excellent until then, but that 5+ ERA has got to worry a lot of GMs.

    I think overall it would be better to do everything internally plus judicious free agent acquisitions (i.e. cheap and short but OK otherwise). And see what our guys can do with a full season, or at least starting a season.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I heard Buster Posey is back in Hawaii and went 3/4 with 4 RBI last ball game. Keischnick is doing well too. Love the blog keep it up. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks Anon, I try to do my best.

    Yes, Buster is back in Hawaii. El Lefty Malo covered this nicely on his website - http://www.leftymalo.com/2008/10/the_buster_conspiracy.php - so I didn't bother reporting it.

    He also has a follow-up: http://www.leftymalo.com/2008/10/the_buster_watch.php

    ReplyDelete

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