Thursday, November 12, 2009

Roster-bation: Initial Thoughts on Starting Lineup

The Giants starting lineup, as iffy as it looks, could also be considered pretty set, in terms of probability of finding someone currently with the Giants in the starting lineup. So I thought I would ruminate on the possibilities as the players line up for the free agency period.

Obvious Where Changes Could Occur

Since the Giants were OK with 4 young question marks to start the 2009 season, that gives us a benchmark with which to guess what might happen for 2010. I think that they will consider Rowand, Renteria, Freddie Sanchez, and Pablo Sandoval to be relatively sure things to produce at a certain rate. That could allow them to experiment at C, 1B, LF, and RF.

But 2009 was considered a year to just be competitive while 2010 was considered a year to contend, so that would suggest that the Giants would like to solidify one more position in the starting lineup, particularly since Renteria does have a bit of a question mark over him (I am hoping, but not hopeful, that Rowand was just struggling with performance anxiety as he struggled to perform up to the standards he had set before, and just need to get over his contract in 2010 and beyond). Thus they might look to acquire a starter at C, 1B, LF, or RF.

Catcher and Firstbase Are Relatively Set

Posey is ready, if not already, for the starting lineup at catcher. My guess is that he is ready but the Giants might do like the Orioles and hold off promoting him in order to control him for one more season. That would suggest that they won't go that route at C, unless the starting caliber catcher is willing to sign for one season - unlikely, though if Molina is still unsigned by spring training, he could possibly be signed for one season at a lower value than he had been seeking.

1B is loaded with two possibly OK players in Ishikawa and Garko, who both need extensive playing time to show what they can do plus who can only play one position, 1B, realistically. Garko could play LF on an irregular basis as he is very poor defensively there but could be the option there when the opposing pitcher is a LHP and they think that Ishikawa would do better than one of the OF left-handed options or Andres Torres.

OF is Most Likely Area of Acquisition

That leaves the outfield as the most likely spots to be filled by free agency or trade. Both Bowker and Schierholtz, the most likely starters right now, are no sure things. Bowker, as nicely as he did in 2009 in the minors, could still find things hard in the majors, like he did in 2008. Schierholtz regressed in 2009, not showing the average offensive capabilities that he showed in 2007 and 2008 in the minors (and briefly in the majors).

The other choices are not as good, though. Velez, Torres, and Lewis are possibilities but there are strong negatives with each of them. Velez's poor performance still in 2009 except for hot month is a big negative, as well as his relatively poor defense, though apparently greatly improved. Torres is a journeyman, unlikely to have suddenly figure it out. The fact that he struck out 45 times in only 145 AB suggest that he was just very lucky with his BABIP in 2009 and not the shiny new thing that some Giants fans believe. Lewis looks like a different hitter each year, while consistently walking a lot while striking out too much for a guy with little power. Plus he's getting up there in age, he'll be 29 next season, kind of late to finally figure things out.

Obtaining, say, a LF would increase the probability of production out of that position, while only requiring only one of Bowker and Schierholtz to actually figure things out and start in RF. I thought that Chone Figgins would work there, but he's a Type A free agent, and I don't think the Giants want to lose another draft pick. So my best guess right now is that they will keep in contact and then swoop on a free agent who is on the cheap but with some potential to either get on base or drive in runs with power, but still unsigned in January.

2 comments:

  1. I've got a good idea of a way we can see which one of us is right about the Freddy Sanchez trade. I say it was only a rental, and thus horrible, while you say it helped us sign him to a better contract, and thus OK.

    This is because you think Sanchez would get a lot more on the open 2B market than I, so we should set terms predicting the maximum contract a free agent 2B will sign for this offseason.

    If any second baseman receives a contract greater than a contract we agree upon, then if Freddy Sanchez were a free agent along with them, he would command about the same amount. If the Giants hadn't traded for him, they would have a more expensive contract than they have now. Then we can say you were right about the Freddy Sanchez trade because I underestimated the value of 2B in the current market, and the trade was pretty good.

    If no second baseman receives a larger contract, then if Freddy Sanchez were a free agent the Giants could have brought him in and trade made the contract more expensive for the Giants. Then we can say I was right because you overestimated the value of 2B in the current market, and the trade was horrible.

    Here's what I think is a good maximum contract prediction: {1 yr $6 mil or 2 yr $8 mil}. I made it worth a lot less than Freddy Sanchez's current extension. That means in our parallel situation where they don't trade for him, they can make sure that he signs with them by giving him a much better contract than anybody else without making it worth more than the current extension of {2 yr $12 mil}.


    Isn't this an interesting thought experiment? Please get back to me on this one and tell me what you think.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Significant upgrade can had if Sabean pulls off a trade for Dan Uggla and acquires Nick Johnson.

    Both have glaring shortcomings, as do other players. In these cases:

    1) Johnson's injury history.

    2) Uggla's defense or lack thereof.

    In Uggla's case we fans must surrender the notion that excellent defense tops excellent offense. It is better to have the latter than the former. Even the biggest butcher in the field can catch the ball 90% of the time as Fred Lewis has demonstrated.

    In Johnson's case, we fans must accept that to keep Nick injury free, he'll need a right-handed platoon partner. The leading candidates are Jesus Guzman, who deserves an extended look, and Ryan Garko.

    In Garko's case, we have a repeat of Uggla's defensive inadequacies, but if, as you posit, Posey is ready, why not stick Garko in there for a month? Despite his poor defense (everywhere it seems), he can hit. And he can play first and LF as well.

    So if--big IF considering the rumor that Sabean is interested in the ancient horror Johnny Damon--Uggla and Johnson were acquired, Uggla's position should be LF, thereby keeping Sandoval at 3B.

    Sandoval at catcher is out of the question. One doesn't put a valuable hitter like at at a murderous position like catcher.

    ReplyDelete

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