Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Travis Ishikawa Named to Topps MLB Rookie All-Star Team

As reported by Haft on, Travis Ishikawa was named to Topps' MLB Rookie All-Star Team. Congrats to Ishikawa for his award, that will always be on his Topps baseball card, and a nice capper to a nice season.

That said, I like Ishikawa, but it must have been a poor year for 1B, when you compare him to the other players named:

  • White Sox second baseman Chris Getz,
  • Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus,
  • White Sox third baseman Gordon Beckham,
  • Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan,
  • Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen,
  • Rangers outfielder Nolan Reimold,
  • Mets catcher Omir Santos,
  • Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson and
  • Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ

The only other "huh?" on the list for me is Omir Santos.

Not that I thought Ishikawa did poorly. As I have shown, he did pretty well after May 10, but the judging of how he did will always focus on his overall season and he didn't do that well overall because of how poorly he started the season. And most of the above did stuff that budding stars did. Ishikawa, at best, could be a competent average firstbaseman - nothing to be ashamed of, and that's good for a nice career in the majors, just ask JT Snow.

Giants Thoughts

As much as I would like to see the Giants improve offensively for sure by acquiring another hitter, the consequence of that would be the loss of opportunity for certain Giants prospects.

Getting a LF (or CF if Rowand agrees to move to LF) is the least intrusive and obstructive, as it would force Bowker to compete with Schierholtz for the starting RF position, but as nicely as both have done in AAA, neither is a slam dunk to do well if they were inserted as starters. I would still like to see how Schierholtz would do if given the chance, and I'm realistic enough to know that there's a significant possibility that he might not do well. Same for Bowker.

Getting a 1B, 2B (shifting Sanchez to 3B, and Pablo to 1B), or 3B (shifting Pablo to 1B) would be more obstructive as it would effectively end any use the Giants would have for Ishikawa or Garko, forcing them to either DFA or trade them.

Given Garko's history and right-handedness (where many Giants prospects are left-handed), plus the fact that Barnes was traded for him and Sabean said that he would not acquire anyone who is not part of the Giants future plans, I have to think that the Giants would not acquire an IF which would force out Garko (as well as possibly Ishikawa since has no position flexibility).

For that matter, there usually are a good number of available LF and while Ishikawa-Garko would probably make a good enough platoon team, only Nick Johnson would rank as high as the two of them in a platoon at 1B, and his big problem is that he is better but only when he is healthy enough to play for most of the season. Unless they are thinking of moving Bowker back to 1B, acquiring Johnson would probably result in both players being DFA, with Garko probably netting someone (though not as good as Barnes, I would bet) and Ishikawa being claimed by another team through waivers, and the Giants would only have Bowker and Jesus Guzman as 1B possibless should Johnson go down, as he has to some extent each and every season he has been a major leaguer.

For me, like for 2009, I would have preferred the Giants go and give the best prospects the chance to show what they could do, good or bad. That's not the edict that Neukom gave - he wanted to see enough improvement so that the team was at least .500 - and I understand his position as he needs to worry more about the business side and attracting fans to come see the games.

My 2010 Preference

For 2010, this would be how I would want to do things.

Obviously, the pitching rotation is the strength of the team. I would not diminish it with any trades right now. Lincecum, Zito, Cain, Sanchez is a pretty formidable rotation. For the 5th spot, I would prefer to see Pucetas get a chance to see what he can do up here, with Martinez in reserve.

The bullpen is another strength. Brian Wilson was superb as closer in 2009 and Jeremy Affeldt even more so as our main setup guy. Sergio Romo was mostly superb, except for a brief period where he was lost. Dan Runzler looks to also be in the mix for set-up duties, lessening the need to use Affeldt as much or in lower leverage situations. Merkin Valdez was OK too, and Waldis Joaquin looks like he will take a spot too. And Brandon Medders was a find. These are probably the seven we take to the season, and leaves out Justin Miller and Bobby Howry, both of whom did very well for us, but are probably gone in 2010.

The lineup, of course, is a work-in-progress. I would start with giving Posey the catching job but also signing a free agent catcher who is good defensively and hopefully a mentor too, ideally like Gregg Zaun. Brad Ausmus and Jose Molina look to be viable alternatives if Zaun really wants to stay near his hometown area of Tampa Bay.

1B would be a platoon of Ishikawa and Garko, though it won't be strictly by LHP and RHP. I would also play Garko in LF sometimes to get his offense if the LF is struggling, and Garko is the DH anytime we play against an AL team.

2B is Freddy Sanchez, with Frandsen or Rohlinger as backup.

3B is Pablo Sandoval, with Frandsen or Rohlinger as backup.

SS is Edgar Renteria with Frandsen or Rohlinger as backup.

LF is John Bowker with Torres, Garko, and Frandsen as backups.

CF is Aaron Rowand with Torres as backup.

RF is Nate Schierholtz with Bowker (someone else would take LF) and Torres as backup.

This would mean that Frandsen is DFA or traded if Rohlinger wins and Velez is DFA or traded, as there would be no space for either and neither can be sent back to the minors without exposing him to waivers. It is possible that Velez might shine in spring training and make a good case for LF, but I would just (in my mind, at least) have the above slotted and just announce my "decision" after spring training, justifying it any way that I can. It's time to see what Posey, Ishikawa, Bowker and Schierholtz can do playing pretty regularly, then adjust in May-June was needed.

I think the Giants are pretty much going to follow this route except that they will most probably pursue one of the second tier players who falls through the crack and finds himself without a team in the middle of January and willing to take a small contract in order to secure a starting position with the Giants. Then they would adjust the rest of the roster in reaction to this signing.

I think that there is also probably a good chance of them also signing a free agent starter to take the #5 rotation spot, also another guy looking for a spot and willing to take less. I would not have minded getting Brad Penny back, and who knows, he could find himself on the outside looking in and sign with the Giants for less in order to give the D-gers another slap in the face.

Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. This is essentially the same personnel that produced the league-worst results in almost every important offensive category last year. Seems like you are content with finish in 3rd place.

  2. I'm all for Brad Penny, and I agree with not screwing with the infield. I think Renteria will be better, and it's possible one of the Giants' 78 middle infield prospects could light things up.

    The OF... I like Nate, I like Bowker, I like Velez... but I'm not sure they add up to two good outfielders. Or frightfully, perhaps even one. I'm really tired of Chickenlittle naysayers whining, but the lineup does need one more good bat, and it needs to be an OF.

    And Posey better start the year as starter. Or be it by June. That not happening would be worse than any of the outcomes above.

  3. This is an approach roster-wise that I have supported earlier this offseason. In light of that, a thought- perhaps you could consider doing a series of "free agents this year- why not to sign them", explaining which factors make many of these guys on the market nonstarters.

    For me, at least, there are only a select few that should even be considered. They are: Gregg Zaun, Nick Johnson, Matt Holliday, Justin Duchscherer, Rich Harden, and Erik Bedard. I may be missing one or two but not many; my list is short.

  4. Hey Martin, BA released the top 10 Giants prospects list today. Aren't you a subscriber? Care to run down the list for all us po' folk who aren't members?

  5. I am surprised that Burriss is not listed as a possible for back-up IF duties.

    I still would like to see them bring back Uribe for a year/club option, but doubt that happens.

    Penny is probably too costly, and will get more years, elsewhere.

    I completely disagree with you on Velez. Of Velez, Bowker, and Nate, I think Velez is more of a keeper (he can play a couple of IF positions, too). I see Velez/Torres in one spot, Rowand in another, and a second-tier type FA as the third. That leave Nate, Bowker, and Lewis battling for the final OF spot. I lean a bit towards Nate there, with Bowker close behind. Lewis probably gets DFA's.

    I also think they'll sign a vet FA catcher who can mentor, and will be surprised if Posey starts the year as the #1 catcher. I sure as hell hope he improves upon his AFL numbers. Yikes.

  6. Matt, I'm a po' fan too, no, I've never subscribed, just passed on all the free stuff I could find.

    But I am planning on covering the Top 10 with my comments and thoughts, though I'm super busy with work, so this is probably not happening until next week, as this weekend I'm celebrating my anniversary with my wife.

    Here is the list for now and a link to BA's brief peek discussion about the Giants:

    1. Buster Posey
    2. Madison Bumgarner
    3. Zack Wheeler
    4. Thomas Neal
    5. Dan Runzler
    6. Tommy Joseph
    7. Roger Kieschnick
    8. Ehire Adrianza
    9. Brandon Crawford
    10. Francisco Peguero

    The list looks about right. Looking over the minor league Top 10's, I would add that Chris Dominguez and Darren Ford were probably close to making the list, just after Peguero.

    Off the top of my head, which is still spinning a bit after a long business trip, I would say that Nick Noonan is the one that jumps to mind who should be on the list. And despite his worrisome future, Villalona too.

    Noonan finally showed the discipline he was known for in the last two months of the season. That made me think of a couple of things about him. First, it reminded me what I've been saying, he's only 20 YO, very young, and except for the greats, you can't expect them to hit that well playing against much older, much more experienced prospects. Still, we don't need him to be one of the greats, many good to very good players struggle their way up the farm system and reach the majors and do well. That he was able to hold his own is impressive.

    I think that he will be the name that Baggarley regrets not adding to the Top 10, in a few years. But that's the nature of the beast, no one is ever going to catch every one, and I think his Top 10 lists have been great overall.

    I still think Villalona should be on the list, unless he knows something about Angel's legal status that we don't know. I don't think the murder weapon has been found yet, and once some palms have been greased (on the deseased side, I would think Angel would make a condition of payment be that their members be quiet), the memories of the witnesses will become cloudy.

    Assuming he returns back to baseball in the spring, I think that this experience should have matured him a bit, and if he has been using his time in jail wisely, he has lost some weight and perhaps exercised too. He's still a monster talent who just turned 18, if I remember right, and maybe this will give him that extra fire to do more, like how Sandoval is, instead of acting like a priveleged prospect, deserving of more.

    I'm also surprised by how high Runzler is on the list, given that he's a reliever. They must either think that he's capable of being a great closer or don't think that much about the rest of the Giants farm system (which is possible, that is a bit of a drop between Neal and Joseph then Kieschnick, I think).

  7. Chipower, thanks for adding your thoughts.

    If Burriss wasn't ready last year and then he sat out the rest of the season soon afterward with his injury, he's not ready to rejoin the majors in 2010. I think his injury is why they went out and got Freddy Sanchez.

    Plus, as I noted, there is not much space on the bench for the people I already named. Burriss was viewed as a starter at 2B, and now he has two years to get ready for that. Frandsen, for good or bad, is now seen as a utility guy, so he's the guy there for the next few years.

    Uribe would be nice, but he had a monster year that he hasn't had in years, whoever gives him a contract for 2010+ is paying for how well he did in 2009.

    Penny, no, I would not say that. He did horribly in Boston, only redeeming himself with SF. He only got a one year last year too. So unless someone drinks the Kool-Aid on him, he's getting another one year, similar money, and if he's holding out for more, we might be able to get him in January, after we find out how much we are giving to Lincecum, under a deferred one year contract for a similar amount.

    Velez can only play 2B. He's never really hit at any level, whereas both Bowker and Schierholtz have had good to great seasons in AAA, and at younger ages too. His MLE in AAA is probably no better than low 700 OPS, both Bowker and Schierholtz's AAA MLE are 800+ OPS, which is what an average OF can do.

    If he starts over Bowker and Schierholtz for the third spot (assuming the Giants sign an OF for LF), I would think that there is something screwy with our talent evaluation guys that need further purging and fresh blood beyond John Barr and whomever.

    There is no way Velez deserves to start over Bowker and Schierholtz, based on what they have done in the minors. He might get hot in spring and win, sure, but it would be like 2009, he would be hot initially then back to his low 700 OPS range. He is at best a Chone Figgins type who might grow into a position as he gets more experience (or more like a Pedro Feliz, he's more similar in talent than Figgins), but he's not ready now.

    I think Lewis is valuable enough to get us a prospect in trade, but not a great prospect, just someone the Giants like more than the other team. The only way we keep him is if the Giants don't sign a FA OF and Bowker just tanks it in spring. Then Bowker can go back to AAA, and the starters would be Lewis, Rowand, Schierholtz. I don't see him being a bench player on our team, mainly because I think he would become toxic on the bench. He probably needs a new environment.

    Posey was already tired when he was put in the AFL, after playing more games than he ever had. So I'm cutting him some slack on that one. Yeah, he probably is not starting out as the starter, and now that Molina has been non-tendered, I would put it as a possibility that the Giants might re-sign him if he's not signed and still looking for work in late January.

    Even with that, I still think they will look for a catcher capable of starting but who understands that Posey will be coming up at some point, like a Zaun. Even if we get Molina, Zaun would probably see more play since Molina slowed down so much late in the 2009 season.

  8. I really shouldn't be doing this, but Sickels had his tentative Top 20 released too:

    I like his list more than BA's, as he pushed Runzler down a couple of notches, plus added Stoffel, who I had forgotten about and shouild have listed. Joaquin, I like, but not sold yet. I'm also not as sold on Adrianza and Crawford, particularly Crawford. I see to see Crawford have a good 2010 to get sold on him. But they both are worthy of 10-ish ranking.

    Forgot about Brett Pill too, he should have been in the mix, I think, for Top 10-ish.



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