The Giants need to get a big bat, why don't the Giants trade for Encarnacion or Cantu, just trade Sanchez, and, you know, if Sanchez goes bad, at least you have a big bat in Encarnacion or Cantu.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I Need To Scream!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm listening now to KNBR and I need to scream!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (that was a while ago, when I started this post; I finished it up during lunch; but it was cathartic! :^)
I normally like to listen to Brian Murphy but now I have wonder about his intellect after this.
This is not verbatim, but he basically said something like this:
And who says that Sanchez will go bad? What if Encarnacion or Cantu goes bad instead? As in, the reason why the Reds fans have pulled out their hair over Encarnacion's ups and downs, or the reason why the Rays released Cantu last year before the Marlins picked him up? Odds are, both of them are all they will ever be, but Sanchez, to me, is on the cusp of becoming a top of the rotation starter. In any case, Encarnacion, Cantu, and Sanchez all have their issues, but to frame a question like that? That's just leading.
I'll give him a break on this one, but this was just infuriating to me. Sanchez can be a top of the rotation pitcher when he is going good. He just had his first season as a starter and did well, until mid-season, when his arm appeared to tire. We need to see if he can put it together or is just flakey like Oliver Perez, another lefty with potential.
However, Encarnacion and Cantu are not going to be a top 5 thirdbasemen no matter what they do. They don't have that talent. Sanchez has that talent, not every starting pitcher can strike out a hitter per inning consistently like he can. There is still a lot of potential to tap there. Both Encarnacion and Cantu are defensive liabilities and neither appear driven enough to improve that area of weakness nor are good enough hitters to make up for that. It's like selling your cow for a bunch of "magic" beans: a huge loss in one area in hopes of fixing up another area.
Selling low just because you are "desperate" for something is not the way you run any business. Reducing talent significantly in one area to improve another area of the team marginally is what killed the Giants during the 70's and 80's. The George Foster trade is the epitome of that philosophy, but the fallacy is that, like the cliche about fingers in the dam, when you move your finger to plug up a hole, you now have water coming out where your finger was before and that could be a bigger hole now than the one you just plugged.
We are not in a position to be making wasteful trades in order to become more competitive (and should not want in any case to do that). We are rebuilding and selling low to speed up the rebuilding process is what puts a team into a downward spiral and a roller coaster ride of ups and downs but not really getting anywhere. I lived through that in the 70's and 80's and don't care to do that again.
The 2009 Lineup
Let's examine the lineup that Bochy listed out yesterday, which got Murhpy all hopped up:
Winner of Burriss/Frandsen/Velez 2B
The main problem is with Molina batting cleanup but that is understandable. Brian also had a problem with Sandoval batting third, questioning whether he is up for that after very little time in the majors. Here's the news, as I noted in a post recently: Sandoval spent most of his time batting 3rd in 2008 in the majors and, you know what, he didn't wilt. He also had a large percentage of AB at 5th too, and some at 4th.
Lewis was also mentioned. Lewis had a batting line of .282/.351/.440/.791. In the NL in 2008, the average #5 hitter hit .261/.337/.456/.793 and the average LF hit .271/.350/.453/.803. Not the best around, but an average player is actually pretty good, hence why the concept of replacement player is used to examine the worth of players.
Rowand was not mentioned, but let's examine him as well. He hit .271/.339/.410/.749 in CF and most consider it a very poor season. The average CF hit .267/.334/.426/.759, so he was basically average which is what a lot of people thought he was, average. The average #6 hitter hit .259/.331/.423/.754. So he is now where he should be batting, based on his hitting in 2008, and he could be plus if he can consistently hit well, as he does in short stints over the years, like the first two months of 2008 when he hit .342/.408/.549/.957 to June 2nd, or even his 2004 and 2007 seasons.
Ishikawa was also mentioned. He's batting 7th and the average 7th place hitter in the NL hit .259/.326/.406/.732, which is not a very high hurdle to hit. His MLE for the minors last season: .252/.331/.458/.789. His batting line in the majors in 2008: .274/.337/.432/.769. He benefited from playing mainly against RHP in the majors in 2008, so that batting line should go down a bit, but with such a low average to match, at worse he should be very close to average, heck, even Neifi would have been close to average at his "prime".
I would say that right now, the Giants lineup is shaping up nicely. It is not done by any means, but we have hitters who should be around the average for the NL at most lineup spots: Winn, Renteria, Lewis, Rowand, Ishikawa, and Burriss/Frandsen/Velez should all be able to match or slightly exceed the average hitter in the NL at their batting position, with the ones who are above, like Winn, maybe Renteria, making up for those who might be below, Ishikawa, maybe Lewis.
The major problems are 3rd and cleanup. Molina should not be batting cleanup. He is an above average offensive catcher in the NL, but he is woefully inadequate batting 4th. However, I understand why Bochy is doing this, and Molina has been relatively nice about biting the bullet on that one, of taking one for the team, because he has the mental wherewithal to not change the way he hits just because he's batting 4th, he's trying to stay within his abilities and doing what he can do, instead of trying to crank one out as most people think a cleanup hitter should do.
Molina ideally should be batting 7th, maybe 6th, as he would be a plus hitter in those spots. If Rowand is hitting the way he is capable of hitting, he would be our ideal #4 hitter, he can reach the .844 OPS the average cleanup hitter hits. But given his struggles, it would be folly to put him there now. Ideally, if we had an average 1B, he would be our cleanup hitter, but Ishikawa hasn't proven himself to be that yet, if ever.
Now, if Sandoval can continue hitting like he did in 2008, he would be our ideal cleanup hitter and our lineup will suddenly be looking average. He would take over cleanup, Lewis would move up to bat 3rd where he got significant ABs in 2008, Molina would move down to 5th or 6th (Rowand possibly 5th if he's hitting again would put Molina 6th where he belongs).
And while average is nothing to write home about, with a pitching rotation that could be very good, depending on what Sabean does about the #5 starter (like signing Randy Johnson) and how Sanchez and Zito capitalize and expound on the good things they did in 2008, an average offense would lead us to over .500 plus probably put us into division title contention because the other teams have been retrenching or could suffer huge losses if no replacements are found.
And once we are in the playoffs, our rotation could just shut down the other teams and we can move deep into the playoffs.
Also: As the CC Turns
According to most media reports, the Yankees have come to local Vallejo, even during the big Winter Meetings, to woo CC Sabathia, and reportedly he has agreed to a 6 or 7 year contract for somewhere in the $140M to $160M range. So the fantasy that the Giants might sign him is over.
As much as I wouldn't mind having him in our rotation, I am OK with this move. I think it would be a monetary overcommit to our rotation to have signed him. Save the money for next off-season and see if we could pick up a high priced slugger from a team cleaning out their roster (which is more and more likely with the economy looking worse with every bad economic news) or a free agent slugger who is worthy of such money. No hitter this off-season appear to be worth the money they are asking, but with one bad economic year under our belt (presumably) in 2009, free agents hopefully won't be asking for as much next off-season and we can make a nice signing.
In addition, we have a large number of up and coming hitters in our system, you never know if one should bust out like Geovany Soto did for the Cubs in 2007, he could become that hitter we are looking for. Posey is one obvious possibility, but we cannot write off Villalona either, he could be almost ready for the majors after the 2009 season, if he follows in Justin Upton's career path. Even if he doesn't, if he can at least do well, he could be looking to make the majors in 2011.
EME as Dark Horse for 2009-10
Unfortunately, the well is dry beyond them for 2009 and breaking out, though I would mention Eddy Martinez-Esteve here as a dark horse candidate for breakout. I have been having a pretty big argument on MCC about EME's (which I'm pretty done with now) prospects going forward. He had a pretty nice season in 2008 (low strikeout rate, and thus high contact rate, very high BB/K ratio) with only power his main negative (beyond his usual defensive liabilities) and I think he is flashing power now in the Puerto Rico Winter League (which led to the argument) as, even if it is small samples, he is flashing power now in a league where not everyone is flashing power (meaning the league is not some sandlot where even I could hit for power) and other more established hitters are not easily taking advantage of the lesser pitchers here (Justin Maxwell is having his struggles in this league; he's a top Nat's prospect).
In his season in AA, no matter how you cut his stats for the season, he was not flashing any power in any circumstances (I will note here that some did not agree, and if you have a problem with that, go post it on MCC) and, according to his stats, the only way he was showing any power in 2008 was when he was hitting flyballs. Thus, he has to hit flyballs to show power (i.e. extra-base hits), and that's true for most hitters I would imagine. Furthermore, if he is showing power now in the PR league, he must be hitting flyballs, and if he is hitting flyballs, he must be lofting them now, which started the argument. If you don't agree with me, fine, I've noted your disagreement or feel free to post on MCC, prospect #17 thread.
Schierholtz Hopes Fading
My hopes of getting to see Schierholtz start for the Giants in 2009 is fading but Sabean threw a bone out to fans by noting that Rowand will probably be getting more rest that will free ABs for Schierholtz to start (and not Roberts). That, plus normal rest for Winn and probably some rest at some point for Lewis, in case his surgery on his bunion causes any problems for him in his recovery or affected his stamina in any way, would give him 30-50 starts. Adding in DH starts (where Rowand and Winn would probably swap off on), that would mean somewhere around 50-75 starts for Schierholtz in 2009, assuming he gets all those gigs and Roberts don't get any.
After two years of getting nothing much from him but injuries, Roberts has no right to complain if the Giants bench him and use him as an expensive pinch-runner or pinch-hitter. Unless, that is, he's willing to void that last year for nothing back. Then he can mouth off all he wants.
50-75 starts would give Schierholtz about 200-300 AB, not the best but not too bad either. The only cloud on the horizon regarding that is Winn's agent is talking extension in the news and I'm hoping the Giants just take their chances and let Winn go (and get one or two draft picks for him). But we will see how that goes. They might want to sign him in order to have some stability in the lineup.
I'm hoping that they just take their chances and let Winn go into free agency. They could still sign him up then if necessary, and meanwhile, they can see how Schierholtz handles more play in the majors. If it follows his form up the minors, he should be starting to figure things out and starting to hit for power going forward. But since it is MLB pitchers, it could take a while longer too. It will certainly be interesting times, as the old Chinese proverb goes.
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