Tuesday, December 08, 2009

2009 Winter Meetings News So Far

There have been a number of reports out about the winter meetings: Haft, Baggarly 1, 2, 3, 4, and Schulman 1 and 2, plus a trade rumor regarding San Diego's Kouzmanoff. I will run through all the news I have available right now.


I'll start there as that's pretty exciting if true. However, I'm not sure what they would want back in return. The notice mentioned Fred Lewis and Kevin Frandsen as the trade offer from our end, and I agree, I would not be excited by that.

Then again, Kouzmanoff has not been that great in the majors, his OPS the past two seasons were low 700's whereas Fred Lewis has hit better than that during his time in the majors, even when he was struggling last season. Still, that's great power to get, it would secure 3B with Pablo moving to 1B (good bye Ishikawa and Garko), I think he was at least OK defensively, and even if he is in arbitration, he would still be getting only $3-5M according to the article (given his poor OPS, I would think that it would be closer to $3M, as the formula for the first year in arbitration is normally (if I remember right) around 40-60% of the average pay he would get as a free agent, and Pedro Feliz being about a similar player getting $5M at 3B, that would put him in the $2-3M range.

It is mentioned that the Twins might be in play, offering Glen Perkins, but I would rather have Lewis ALONE instead, rather than get Perkins. Pucetas at minimum, should be able to match what Perkins has done so far in the majors.

According to Baggarly, however, the 'Dres don't want Lewis. If Frandsen and Pucetas gets the job done, this would be an overpay over what the Twins are offering, but I would do the trade (of course, all speculation, don't know what the Giants are offering, if anything, it is a rumor after all). I would rather trade Martinez with Frandsen, if possible, as I like Pucetas.

Velez/Torres Lead-Off

Well, this would put a tight crimp into my thoughts on how the 2010 roster might fall out. If both are kept on the roster, then either Bowker or Schierholtz gets RF (with either Bowker returning to AAA or Schierholtz DFA?; I also read somewhere that the Giants were not happy Bowker left winter league and he wasn't happy about them ordering him to winter league).

Lead-off? Ugh! That would not be acceptable to me. I would rather leadoff with Bowker instead, or even Lewis. Velez is not the option for lead-off yet, after his hot return to the majors, after sucking early in the year, he cooled off totally.

To Aug. 9: .429/.458/.661/1.118, 3BB/10K in 56 AB with 1 SB and 1 CS (50%)
8/10 to end:.233/.282/.358/.640, 13BB/37K in 193 AB with 9 SB and 4 CS (69%)

So not only would his defense harm the team, his offense would not even make up for it. And there is a reason Torres was a journeyman when we signed him. He just got lucky this year with his hitting. Maybe he finally learned how to hit, but are we really going to bet on him learning? That would not seem to be the Giants or Sabean's way of doing things in the past.

This news does not make me happy with Sabean.

Marlon Byrd in the hand?

There is also talk about the Giants pursuing Marlon Byrd, which would preclude having these two as leadoff, though I don't know who would start otherwise, other than Aaron Rowand again. Plus, Byrd has benefited GREATLY from hitting in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the majors, his OPS in his three years there was around the low 700 on the road, so any deal he signs would be an overpay if they are basing it on his overall numbers, which is very nice, with Texas the past 3 years. He was roughly a high 600 OPS before Texas, which rings true with his road numbers with Texas, so NO THANKS, PLEASE!

Signing him for big money would not make me happy with Sabean either, even more so, as I think Velez/Torres should be able to do what Byrd did and for much less in pay.

Johnny Damon Lead-off?

Another possibility is Johnny Damon, who the Yankees would no longer need if they trade for Curtis Granderson, as rumored. He would totally upgrade lead-off and he has been decent defensively in the outfield, if I remember right. I only wonder what his price would be, but if the Giants are willing to pay it (and not prevent us from keeping our pitching in the future) I would be OK with an overpay, he's been a pretty good player, though getting old, so there is that risk.

Panda Clean-Up

But this does make me happy: Pablo Sandoval has been annointed the new clean-up hitter. That is where he should have been hitting at the end of last season except that Bengie Molina would have had a gamer hissy-fit probably and bemoan his lack of respect, and by the way, he's no clean-up hitter and did he mention that he deserves more years and more money?

Middle Hitter

With Sandoval crowned the cleanup hitter, now we need to settle 3rd and 5th. The team is apparently still looking and Sabean noted that there are more options in the infield than outfield at the moment. I would think that could change once it is learned which players were non-tendered. Apparently there are two "what-ifs" regarding 3B, so Sandoval, while clearly cleanup right now, could play at 1B or 3B.

Payroll: Low $90M

That is about what it was last season, though a slight raise, as I think they started with a high $80M last season. About what could be expected. Hopefully Neukom will open the purse a little more if Lincecum wins more money in arbitration than expected.

No Catching for Sandoval or Garko

That is good news to hear. I'm tired of Giants fans suggesting that we start Pablo there. He is too valuable to play behind the plate, we need him in the lineup for as many of the 162 games as he can, and if he were catcher, he would probably miss at least 20 games if not more if he is injured.
Garko, I would have been intrigued to see him hit there, but since it has been so long since he started, it would not be fair to him to try to start catching again, let alone be the starter, even if it is temporary until Posey comes up. In any case, I read somewhere that the Giants are not even sure they want to be paying millions of dollars for Garko in arbitration if he is platooning with Ishikawa at 1B. Sounds like the Giants have to decide whether Garko is the starter or not, and if so, then that means Ishikawa is gone. I would be fine with him being paid more and platooning, but it's not my money.

No Penny Pickup for Giants

It probably has already been announced already, but Brad Penny appears to have signed with the Cardinals for $7.5M plus $1.5M in incentives. He tried to get more years and similar money from the Giants, but they backed off and he signed with them.

That's OK with me. I think Pucetas would be adequate in the #5 starting spot, and perhaps be decent even, instead of just average. With Lincecum's payday possibly huge, I think we have to pass on Penny unless he's at a good price. That's not a good price.

Another pitcher who is noted as a possible Giants target: Brett Myers, late of Phillies, also part-time closer for Phillies too. I would love to have him as our 5th starter. Jason Marquis is also mentioned, but while he would be OK as our #5 starter, I don't want to be paying him very much to do so for us, under $5M, but I don't expect him to sign for so little. I would pay more for Myers.

The Giants are looking at some international pitching free agents as well.

They are also considering Bumgarner as the 5th starter, though they then would want a veteran reliever in the bullpen if that is done. I'm not sure what the connection there is, though. Because they expect him to pitch less innings?

Other internal options include Joe Martinez, who pitched nicely in the AFL and Kevin Pucetas, who is being asked for in trade conversations, which confirms for the Giants that he would be an OK option for #5 starter. As I noted somewhere, Pucetas' MLE would put him in the mid-to-high 4 ERA which would be great for a #5 starter.

Keeping Medders

Speaking of pitching, the Giants appear to be keeping Medders, by tendering a contract and offering arbitration to him, unlike Garko who is on the bubble. I like what Medders did in 209 and would love to have him in the bullpen again. He would push out someone in the configuration I had in a prior post, but that would be OK with me, he did well for us.

Uggla Trade?

Appears to be coming to a head, the Marlins are ready to unload Uggla to the highest bidder, but right now the Giants appear to not be among the front runners. Still, they could come in with a late bid and try to win him. I think I would rather have Kouzmanoff, if possible, especially if it is Lewis and Frandsen for him. About similar hitting, better defense from Kouz than Uggla, whether Uggla plays 2B or 3B.

But if, as Baggarly notes, Uggla's trade value plummets because the Marlins waited too long (see Twins botching of Johan Santana trade), and we can get him on the cheap, in terms of prospects traded, then it would be great to get him, even at the big price he would probably net in arbitration. He also noted that even if the payroll was used up in this scenario, Neukom could OK raising the payroll to fit him in.

Starting Catcher

With Posey pretty much dismissed at the opening day starter (with the caveat that spring training could change things), the Giants are now looking for a starting catcher who is OK with not starting should Posey prove to be ready. Hard to find anyone like that unless you overpay someone for 2010. Sabean said that he's taking his time on this, which to me means that they probably have a few names who they are targeting and they will keep close tabs on all of them, and once all but one is signed, he would work at signing the last catcher for as low as he can get away with it in January.

Trade Value of OF

A scout was asked about the value of Giants OF, and the answers are not surprising to Giants fans who follow the farm system closely: Lewis, None; Schierholtz, basically none; Bowker, some. I would argue that Schierholtz would be worth more than that, but not much more, so I don't have a problem with that assessment. Nate is doing well in Puerto Rico and so that is good to hear.

Burriss in Limbo

Emmanuel Burriss had setback to the same foot that kept him out most of the season. That is not a good sign as that is his main value as a ballplayer, his speed, and a recurring or hard to heal foot injury could end his major league career before it really began. Too bad, I think he had some promise to become our starting 2B, with great D, good plate discipline, and great speed and SB.


  1. Huh.... bad news about Burriss. I too thought he coulda been a contenda. And I was disappointed about Penny, but that's way more than he's worth. But then again so is Johnny Damon, probably.

    If it weren't my money (as it were), I'd get them all, but things are seeming.... all the same. Uggla would be killer, but I do think the world is waiting on the Bay/Holliday/Lincecum economic indicators. Not sure anything will really happen until then - except for trades, which the Giants really shouldn't do unless Sabean can really distract the Padres or others.

    Not feeling good about all this - but not feeling bad, which is good.

  2. Yeah, I'm in that mid-ground limbo too. 'Tis the season?

    I agree, probably nothing much will happen until Lincecum's salary is settled, and by then, the team would probably be too late to sign anyone good.

    Still, I don't think that would be the end of the world either. Unlike others, I like the team overall. I think we'll be in the mix again, though not a favorite to win. Is that really so bad?

    People worry about the catching position offensively, but Molina wasn't that great in 2009, and I think Posey can be about that good offensively, sometime during the season and do like Weiters did in 2009.

    And 2B should be a huge upgrade with Freddie Sanchez over what we got in 2009. SS should do, Renteria sounded like he was dealing with a lot of pain hitting with that rock in his elbow.

    And even Pablo 2010 would be an improvement over Pablo 2009, both because of maturity and experience and the fact that he hit for zero power the first two months, then was good to great the next four.

    While Schierholtz is no guarantee to be even good, I think that he should be able to match what Winn did offensively in RF last season, and hopefully do better than that, based on his prior AAA performances.

    Even 1B, with Ishikawa/Garko (for now, it appears), would be an upgrade, as 1B hit .71/.328/.405/.733 in 2009 overall, and Ishikawa hit higher than that once he got untracked in early May and Garko has hit better than that for his career.

    People forget that the players in 2010 are not the same players they were in 2009 overall, there are reasons why they can be expected to do better overall in 2010 than 2009.

  3. Sabean needs to consider signing a decent catcher to ba 2 year deal. I'd go for Miguel Olivo. Offer him 2yr/$6mil. Let him start this year, bring Posey up when ready, trade Olivo in the offseason if they feel like they don't need him.
    I'd consider three different options for the infield.
    1. Sign Nick Johnson.
    2. Tender Garko and platoon with Ishikawa.
    3. Consider Bowker at first. By default, you open up right field for Schierholtz or whoever else.
    I'd be shocked if they non-tender Garko. Sabean should've kept his mouth shut and tried to trade him first.
    I think it's safe to say that Kevin Frandsen's time is up with this team. I think Rohlinger could handle to super utility role.
    For the outfield, I have some different ideas.
    1. Offer Rowand for Bradley, straight up. Then sign Cameron(or a CF who can hit leadoff) for one year with an option. Move Bradley to left.
    2. Sign Johnny Damon. 2yr deal. Stick him in left. Maybe hit leadoff?
    3. Sign Xavier Nady, if he's fully recovered from TJ surgery. Stick him in one of the corners.
    Option one is my favorite. It's reasonable that Bradley could have a complete rebound year. Rowand is stinking it up every year. His contract is longer and costs more per year. The Cubs might not even consider it, that's how bad his deal is.
    About Lewis leading off, Bochy said that he tried him there and Lewis was uncomfortable and asked out of it. These guys don't get it. You can't complain on this team, they show you the door. And for Lewis to ask out of a vital role, then complain about playing time? Bye bye.
    The free agent pool will get much deeper in the Giants pereferred price range on Saturday, the non-tender deadline. Maybe some useful pieces will surface.

  4. I forgot my projected line-up if they did my top infield and outfield moves.
    1. M. Cameron CF
    2. Franchez 2B
    3. N. Johnson 1B
    4. Panda 3B
    5. M. Bradley LF
    6. Schierholtz RF
    7. M. Olivo C
    8. E. Renteria SS
    9. T. Lincecum P

    Looks a lot better than the current projected line-up. Bowker would be available to play RF, 1B and PH. Rohlinger or Uribe(depending on his price) back up 2B, SS and 3B. Whiteside to back-up Olivo. We could only keep two of Torres/Velez/Ishi/Garko. I'd assume Garko gets non-tendered or traded. It'd be tough to keep Ishi because he and Nick Johnson are both lefties. Velez can kinda play 2B and all the outfield spots, so he's more versatile. And younger. They also bseem to have some sort of obsession with Torres. Do they need six outfielders? Not really. I'd keep Velez. Rohlinger could probably play LF in a pinch.
    So the bench looks like this:
    E. Velez OF/2B
    J. Bowker OF/1B
    R. Rohlinger IF/LF
    E. Whiteside C
    T. Ishikawa 1B

    Hard to keep Ishi but he's a great late-inning defensive replacement and good LH bat off the bench. They could keep one more if they go with an 11 man pitching staff. Not sure if they will.
    As far as the staff goes, I'm OK with signing a guy like Duchscherer to be our fifth starter, if he comes on the cheap. If not, I agree that we start with Pucetas as our #5. MadBum should start the season in AAA. So If we sign no one, it looks like this.
    1. Lincecum
    2. Cain
    3. Zito
    4. Sanchez
    5. Pucetas
    B. Medders
    S. Romo
    J. Affedlt
    D. Runzler
    W. Joaquin
    B. Wilson

    That's an 11-man staff. Seems like I'm forgetting someone. Anyways, room for one more if they go 12-man, someone for long relief. Maybe Martinez, maybe MadBum. Sabean said he wants to sign a veteran (of course), maybe even Howry. Who knows. Let me know if I made any gaping errors. I'm on my phone so I can only open one browser window at a time so I can't check rosters.

  5. I'm all for Nick Johnson, always liked him - of course he has the obvious health questions. Healthy, hell yes.

    I also like Rowand for Bradley - on paper, both teams would jump at it. As I've posted, I think Bradley is more, shall we say, extroverted than wrong - but I don't really know. Interesting though that I don't recall any peep about his conduct in Texas. And he produced, even Texas-adjusted.

    I just have a feeling Rowand is what Rowand is - maybe he has one more all-star season in him, but overall, blah. One can argue without sounding too ridiculous that he's the Giants' 4th outfielder. He's not, but then again.

    OGC makes a good point though - already this really is a better team than a year ago. People are critical of Sanchez, but he beats the cast of thousands easily. Etc, etc.



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