Tuesday, March 31, 2009

25 man Roster Clearer: Frandsen Sent Down

Andy Baggarley reports that the Giants appear to have narrowed what their 25 man roster looks like, though there are still some question marks still, here on his blog. Here is the roster:
Starting pitchers (5): Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Randy Johnson, Barry Zito, Jonathan Sanchez

Relievers (7): Brian Wilson, Jeremy Affeldt, Bob Howry, Alex Hinshaw, Merkin Valdez, Luis Perdomo, long man to be determined (Keiichi Yabu, Ramon Ortiz are the top in-house options).

Catchers (1): Bengie Molina.

Infielders (6): 1B Travis Ishikawa, 2B Emmanuel Burriss, SS Edgar Renteria, 3B/C Pablo Sandoval, INF Rich Aurilia, INF Juan Uribe.

Outfielders (6): CF Aaron Rowand, RF Randy Winn, LF Fred Lewis, Nate Schierholtz, Andres Torres, Eugenio Velez.

Giants Thoughts

I'll cover some of the points made in his blog and other Giants websites.

First off, I am disappointed about Frandsen, but Burriss clearly earned the job, and I agree, it is better for Frandsen to be down in AAA and starting, instead of being up here and sitting, because Burriss should be pretty much playing every game, and Uribe will get most of the leftovers at SS and 3B, while Aurilia will cover 1B and others. Frandsen would be left to PH and PR duties. After missing all of last year, he needs to kick butt in AAA like he did last time and you never know which prospect who were starting might not perform and get set down or released, at which point Frandsen would come up and take their place.

Basically Uribe took the spot Frandsen would have taken, but Uribe can play SS well while Frandsen can only play it OK. I would rather Fransden prove himself as starter material in AAA and see if an opportunity up here opens up. I'm not wishing this on them, but the odds of all of our young starters doing well is not great, so a postion could open up for Frandsen within a month or two.

And the reason they are keeping both Uribe and Aurilia, who on the surface are similar players, is that both Ishikawa and Sandoval are potential platoon players. People don't realize, because of how great Sandoval hit last season, is that his minors L/R splits are even worse than Ishikawa's, who some think should be platooned. In a worse case scenario, both will need platoon buddy: with Uribe at 3B and Aurilia at 1B. If they release either now, should they need a platoon buddly later, it is doubtful any free agent available then would be as good as either of these players. Plus, the fans need to get off a few good "Ooo-Ree-Bay"s this season. :^)

Regarding Sandoval as the backup catcher, there are normally many extra days off early in the season. That is why they used to go with a 4 man rotation early, then go with a 5 man, to keep the other guys on schedule. Thus Molina, instead of having Sandoval take a start, would get an extra day off instead. So the Giants might not need to start Sandoval much at C until May or June. And how often do the Giants pinch run for Molina, anyway?

Even if they do, he's young, only 22, he can catch once every week or two early in the season and it should not hurt him much. For example, he caught for most of last season before coming up and his hitting was pretty good, as well as his defense was OK. So catching doesn't seem to get him too tired yet, he can still hit pretty well like that. And a start here and there, a inning replacement or three, is not going to set him back in getting used to playing 3B.

The problem is that people think that this means this is what the roster will be for the entire season. I can assure you that it won't. I doubt they plan on going without Holm (or another backup catcher) for the whole season. Giants management are smart people (not perfect, smart) and I think they did this to take a longer look at Torres and Velez.

Youth movement don't mean that you aren't smart about rostering, particularly since the Giants want to finish above .500 in 2009 (which I think is an attainable goal). So you keep a vet like Uribe, who is accepting of a reserve role now that he's older, and not a youngster like Frandsen, who like most won't do that well in a utility role, they need that daily start to keep up his batting stroke up.

I'm really surprised Miller and Medders probably will be sent down, while Valdez and a long reliever will be kept. I thought Valdez was having some physical problems, I thought he would end up on the DL to start the season. But when he's on, like he was early in last season, he has to be on the staff, no question, if healthy. Still, a long reliever over Miller or Medders, who did everything they could this spring? And Hinshaw was not that effective, at least, not as much as Miller or Medders.

But I have no problem with Perdomo. He came in and did well enough that we should keep him around. Sounds like he has a live arm plus a sinker and slider. And we could lose him if we tried to get him into the minors, apparently. He was also in high demand when we picked him in the Rule 5 draft.

Overall, I cannot complain much about this roster in terms of moves they made. The guys who won jobs with their play, got jobs, for the most part, except for Miller and Medders. And I expect Valdez to flame out quickly again, which will bring up someone, and I'm not sure about Hinshaw yet, though I expect him to eventually be a good reliever in our bullpen. And who knows what will happen with Perdomo.

15 comments:

  1. Compared to the McCoven you and Lefty are pillers of sanity. Thanks for a well thought out and reasoned review of today
    s rosterbation.

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  2. Agree with rainman. Also ignore clueless commentors (Adam). His site seems sloppy and um, well, craptastic

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  3. The only real issue I have with this roter construction is Aurilia. He really does not belong on this team. His time has come and gone and the roster spot would be better used with someone else who might have a future.

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  4. Thank you for the compliments, much appreciated.

    In an ideal world, yes, you don't need a Rich Aurilia, as much as I like him. Uribe would be a good MI alongside, say, Frandsen or Velez.

    However, with young players, you don't know what they can do. Unlike Tim K's absurd logic that "hey, the A's pitchers are young but so was Tim Lincecum, and the A's did well with Mulder, Hudson, Zito, ergo going with young pitchers will always work for them" (I guess he forgot about the Oakland 4 Aces of Todd Van Poppel, Steve Karsay, and I think Kirk Dressendorfer and Joe Slusarski), young players still have a bit of a mystery, even after all their minors and some major experience. Or do I really have to bring out Homer Bailey or Antony Reyes as examples?

    And, as I noted, a big question is whether Ishikawa and Sandoval can avoid the platoon level. Aurilia and Uribe can fill that role this year if needed. And if not needed later in the year, well, both are good complementary role players, and can be traded mid-season to a contending team that needs someone like them.

    If Frandsen had played last year and did well enough, then he could have taken Aurilia's role this year. But he missed most of last season, and despite a nice run in the AFL and spring, he's still a bit of a mystery that another year in AAA would help clarify. With another good year there, he will, plus push Burriss for the 2B starting job in 2010 as well, plus you never know with Renteria at SS, or Sandoval at 3B.

    Renteria could do as poorly as many predicts; then Burriss could take SS and Frandsen 2B. He could do as well as some think, like me; then he could be traded for a nice prospect or three, and Burriss could take SS and Frandsen 2B. Sandoval could prove to not gel at 3B; Frandsen could take 3B in that case, as long as Rohlinger don't lay claim first with a nice 2009. Ishikawa could fail, moving Sandoval to 1B; third base.

    So there is still a lot of possible scenarios that could work out for Frandsen. Obviously, this is not as clean as it was last season, when it was clear that Durham was leaving, either way, by mid-season, either DFA or trade, opening a spot for Frandsen at 2B, plus the Giants kept 3B open for him too, so he had two real opportunities that went to Castillo then Sandoval, Velez then Burriss. What horrible timing, what horrible luck.

    In any case, any team on the edge of busting out with their youth always rely on vets to help fill in where there are no young guys to take the spot. Aurilia, I think, is one of those, he murders LHP, hitting .321/.377/.526/.903 last year, and almost 100 point better than RHP in OPS for his career, hitting .284/.342/.494/.836 vs. LHP for his career.

    It's folly to think "Oh, young club, must make everyone young." Young does not equal good, young only is young, if the talent is not that good, and all teams do not have enough to fill in every position on their club with good young prospects unless they pick well and lose on an epic scale for 10-15 years. Even then, most teams fail. Vets fill the gaps, plus teach the kids what they've learned on how to win.

    I've seen young Giants teams with "stars" like Joe Strain, Joe Pettini, Rich Murray, David Green, Mark Grant, Mike Remlinger, Larry Hearndon, etc., young does not mean good, it means potential and that potential is defined by how well they do in the minors, and the Giants frankly have not had a lot of good clean position prospects flying up the minors in a long time.

    Our current prospects have flaws that might get exposed in the majors, but at least also have done well in the minors, and for them the only way we will find out is to play them. Lewis, Sandoval, Burriss, and Ishikawa have earned their chances. The other young players, not so much, besides Schierholtz.

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  5. The only problem here is that Frandsen is really not a young player any more. He is 27 and has nothing left to prove at AAA. It would be the same as making Schierholtz do another year in AAA. What's the point in that? They are ready for the ML and it's time to sink or swim. If they're not good enough now, then when?

    Aurilia and Uribe both on the roster are redundant.

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  6. "Aurilia and Uribe both on the roster are redundant."

    Yes, absolutely. Of the two Uribe is simply a much better player. I watched the ChiSox on WGN last year, and Uribe is an excellent bench player, and he can hit for power. He's much more flexible than Aurilia and has better speed.

    Aurilia, to me is a security blanket for the robot (Bochy). If Ishikawa needs a platoon partner, why not Guzman? Bad defense? Well, Fred Lewis was no defensive whiz either. He'd catch the ball, for sure, but would use his speed to compensate for lousy reads. Yet, after some tough love in the outfield, he's an adequate defender.

    I'm with you on this, Boof: Aurilia's redundant.

    Martin, just watch this guy Aurilia gobble up AB's that Ishikawa needs to learn to hit LH pitching better.

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  7. What can I say, sometimes life sucks. In this case, the Giants are trying to win, and their chances are greatly improved with Uribe and Aurilia around as backups than with Frandsen, who we are not sure of what he's capable of, frankly, because of his injury.

    That was a serious injury. That puts some question marks on him. He also didn't do as well as Burriss in spring when it counted. Small samples but that's the way it goes. He picked a wrong time to not produce like he had before.

    Hey, I like Frandsen and still have high hopes for him, but this is what is best for the Giants right now and for him too. Playing everyday and being ready to come up would be infinitely better than sitting on the bench and leaving people wondering if he can ever contribute at the major league level.

    If he can hit like he has in the past, even if it's not with the Giants, another team would then be willing to take him in a trade.

    But I suspect that he will be able to hit and hit well, and while I would love if everyone succeeds and do well, the odds of three young players - Burriss, Ishikawa, Sandoval - succeeding at the same time is probably slim and none. Somebody is going to suck, unfortunately and most probably, so a spot should open somewhere for Frandsen to come in and take the place of the poor performer, assuming he performs as expected in AAA. I don't expect him to last all season in AAA, he will come up at some point, as I expect Torres to wear out his welcome and the Giants bring up Frandsen to take his place on the bench.

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  8. DProfessor, you are missing the point. Lewis may look bad but most defensive metrics has him at league average or slightly positive. Guzman would probably be 10-20 runs below average, or 1-2 wins, you are missing the whole magnitude of the difference.

    What I've seen this spring is that Bochy has given Ishikawa a number of opportunities to hit against LHP and he passed those tests by getting hits frequently enough that I saw many mentions of that.

    I expect Bochy to basically baby Ishikawa by giving him most of the ABs and put in Aurilia against pitchers he has rocked previously in his career. That's essentially what Bochy has said about this.

    But you are right, we will see.

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  9. what would make more sense is to keep Frandsen and jettison Aurilia. He can do the same things, and perhaps better. There is just no good reason to keep Aurilia on the team. Keep Frandsen to be the utility guy he projects out to be anyway.

    In any case, this is a typical Sabean/Bochy move. It makes no sense.

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  10. I disagree.

    It makes much more sense to have Frandsen keep sharp by playing regularly plus give him more confidence that his body is back all the way, so that he can be ready if a spot opens up during the season.

    If he sat on the bench, that would be a waste of time for him, he would not see many AB as Renteria and Burriss should see most of the time playing with no rest, and Sandoval will probably play most games at 3B.

    Besides, if Aurilia was gone, then who would play 1B in place of Ishikawa? Uribe? He's never played there, and he's only 5' 11", at best. Frandsen? The one spot he hasn't played at probably. Then you are talking about shifting Sandoval over to 1B on the days Ishikawa sits and Frandsen plays 3B, when we want Sandoval to get as many reps at 3B in game conditions as we can. How does any of that make better sense?

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  11. It makes a hell of a lot more sense than keeping Aurilia on the team. Keeping Frandsen playing every day in the minors is not the aim here. He's ready or he isn't. If he is, he should be in the ML. If he isn't ready, at the age of 27 mind you, then why are they wasting their time with him? There's just no good reason to keep him down any longer.

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  12. Hi Martin,

    As always you make very compelling arguments. And what the heck, if I were really that good at figuring baseball's machinations out and reading the fututre, I'd be managing a team not teaching English.

    That said, I agree with Boof on Frandsen. He's not that young. If he can't hack the role he's best suited for--utility IF--then we should find out as soon as possible and move on.

    Btw, I think you misunderstood me on Lewis: I DO think he's a good outfielder, but he started out as below average. He got better via experience, which is why, at this point, the Giants should just let Ishikawa and Sandoval play as much as possible, even if the opposing pitcher is a tough lefty. The boys may pleasantly surprise us much as Lewis did last year. Otherwise, the Giants will get locked into their circular fallacy: They won't bat Sandoval and Ishikawa against LHP because they can't hit them, but they can't learn to hit them because Aurilia is hogging AB's.

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  13. Every AB that Aurlia gets is one less chance at our future developing. He's been a good Giant, but it's time that he join Dave Roberts on the DFA list.

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  14. It is interesting to me that the argument of getting a young player ABs in the minor leagues so he doesn't stagnate was most definitely NOT applied to Aurilia himself when he was young. He was forced into the majors at 24 with the injury depleted '96 Giants to the tune of 300 ABs, having only spent half a season in AAA (with little success). Performing quite inadequately in this trial by fire, he spent most of his age 25 season sitting on the Giants bench behind Viz II, and for his age 26 season an only slightly larger role was planned for him until he started hitting in April and forced his way into the lineup for 400 ABs. To recap: rotting on the bench at a young age without having spent a full AAA season, apparently didn't hurt Richie's growth.

    Before I rant, I should say that in fact I tend to agree with Martin by and large. It's not that big an issue and after it implodes changes will be made -- particularly true of the bizarre Torres/Velez situation.

    Nonetheless I will take a moment to declaim the inanity of spending any ABs, games, money, or uniform washing expenses on the execrable Juan Uribe. Whatever we can or cannot say about the uncertainty of Kevin Frandsen's potential performance, we know perfectly well that Juan Uribe is certain to be well down the sliding scale between awful and please gouge my eyes out so I don't have to watch this anymore.

    A six-year veteran, Uribe has been, by every possible metric imaginable, a terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible player for all but one of them (his fluky good 2004). Want to go simple (his career 80 OPS+), or more complex (the sub .300 wOPA, the massively negative wRAA, the NEGATIVE Win Values) he can be counted on absolutely to flirt with sub-replacement level stats any time he's got a bat in his hand.

    With a glove he was once upon a time an he was once upon a time an acceptably average defensive SS, but that time has gone (with his waist line apparently). He played his way out of the White Sox SS position with his 2007 performance (-2.5 UZR). Last year he played a surprisingly average 2B, but was absolutely brutal at 3B.

    Juan Uribe is the reason the term "replacement player" exists. Swinging a dead cat at random in any AAA stadium in America is likely to find you a player every bit as productive as Uribe. That Frandsen has to hang out in the bus leagues so that Uribe can draw a major league salary just seems wrong. Even if Frandsen is no better, than least we know his passion for the team's fortunes are unquestioned and that should count for something when you're talking about the 24th or 25th spot on the roster.

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  15. Thanks for pointing out how bad Uribe is. I thought he was OK based on his homers, but not only is his OBP pretty bad, so is his OPS, and he got the Chicago White Sox stadium boost, his road numbers are even worse. So as a player, Frandsen definitely deserves to be on the team over Uribe.

    However, Uribe is the only guy who can play a credible SS out of the reserves. What I would fear is a repeat of 2008 where they start Frandsen regularly at SS and then he blows out the Achilles.

    I suppose you could move Burriss there as necessary and allow Frandsen to play 2B, but Burriss needs to acclimate to playing 2B too.

    So, I agree with Roger, Uribe is a horrible choice for utility, Frandsen would be a better choice

    Still, I would rather have Frandsen in AAA now and starting. I know he can hit, but I think he'll be rusty if he sat on the bench, even vets have trouble adjusting to doing that. I want him to be ready should any of the guys flounder in their first try at starting regularly and the Giants look around for a starter.

    I don't think he'll be down permanently, I think he'll eventually be brought back up, I think the Giants like him enough to give him starts, it is just that we have young players at the two positions he can start at, 2B and 3B.

    Given how badly Uribe has hit before, I would expect that he'll probably non-hit himself off the team after a month or two, particularly since most players need time to adjust to AT&T.

    And, ultimately, we are arguing about the 25th guy on the team, not really that big a deal. That's not going to make or break a team. It seems to me that, all in all, it's often just an opportunity for those who don't like the GM to bitch about the him.

    Personally, I thought (and I assume you agreed) that Richie deserved to start years before he actually did. It was stupid that they kept on bringing in guys when he looked ready.

    And, if you give him enough AB, he's going to get into shape, I'm just talking about putting the player in a position to succeed, and if he's been sitting, I don't think that there are many who can just jump off the bench and hit like they normally could, they will be rusty. Then the question becomes, do we continue playing him until he warms up or put him down now? Often, if the team is competitive, they sit him.

    I want Frandsen's chances to stick as a starter to be maximized, and if the fates allow that someone fail and open a spot for him, I want him ready to grab the starting role and run with it, not be rusty for two weeks and make management question his abilities. I think he has the abilities, he just needs the chance. I feel his chances are maximized by playing in AAA and waiting for an opening.

    Look at his late season stats in 2007. When they first started playing him regularly, after he was sitting for a while, it took him about two weeks to warm up, and then he hit 900+ OPS the rest of the way. I don't think he can keep it up for a season, but I don't think that 800 OPS is out of the question for him, he has hit all the way up the system, and he has hit in AAA, more importantly.

    He just needs the chance, and I want to maximize that chance.

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