Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Trade Rumors: Giants Looking at Indians and White Sox

According to a recent rumor, the Giants were at an Indians/White Sox game scouting Jermaine Dye and Victor Martinez. I answered the V-Mart trade possibilities on Lefty, and here is basically what I wrote there:

I think V-Mart would require Posey or Bumgarner in the deal, ultimately. The Indians are not in a position of dumping guys just to get salary off their roster, they will only make a deal that gets them ready to battle in 2010, after all, they got Grady Sizemore still on the team. I don't think a package led by Alderson would do it for the Indians.

Look at last year's trade. About half a year of Sabathia (V-Mart has additional year), and the Brewers sent their #1 prospect, Matt LaPorta, plus #11 Bryson and #24 Brantley and Zach Jackson, who was #16 the year before. For comparison, the Giants equivalent would be #1 Bumgarner, #11 Waldis Joaquin (or they might want #13 Henry Sosa), #24 Matt Downs (or they might want #23 Thomas Neal), and last years #16 Nick Pereira (or this year's #15 Kevin Pucetas or #17 Travis Ishikawa).

Given their #1 prospect is a C, and looking over this list, plus fact that V-Mart is signed for another year, I think Bumgarner, Ishikawa (to replace V-Mart at 1B, platoon with Garko, perfect), Pucetas, and probably someone like Scott Barnes, would be what they are looking for in a package from us for V-Mart, based on what they got for Sabathia.

I know V-Mart is no Sabathia, but it's 1.5 years of low cost V-Mart vs. 0.5 years of CC, he plays both C and 1B, switch-hitter, might be able to sign him long term (Nero is agent, not Boras, not sure what that means), excellent hitter, hit same at home as on the road, power, he's in his prime, 30 this year.

Dye is a good hitter, but one must remember that he hits much better at home than on the road. In addition, he has played RF predominantly during his career, and his defense in RF is atrotious, costing 1.5 games per 150 games, a particularly bad trait to have with the Giants funky RF shape. Plus, then he would take away Schierholtz's only position, and put Winn in LF.

Giants Thoughts

Since Sabean and the Giants rarely give any information out, I think that the observers who saw the Giants at this game assumed that the Giants are looking only for a power hitter and then threw out the obvious names, like V-Mart and Dye. Neither fits because the Giants are not willing to trade what it would take to get V-Mart, and Dye don't fit our roster, though Sabean has always said that he would make the trade first, then figure out the ramifications later. And they could always play Dye in LF, but defense would be a problem there as well.

I think the Giants are looking instead for MI players, like Jhonny Peralta and Josh Barfield, who can play 2B. Barfield is extraneous to them now, a big bust of a trade, and they moved Peralta to 3B to play someone else at SS, plus Peralta will be a free agent, I think, at the end of next year. Barfield should not cost as much to get, but Peralta would be more likely to be good for us in 2009-2011 (contract has option to 2011, total of $14M over next 2.5 years) and hits for some power. He would probably cost us an Alderson, but not much more I think in top prospects, but probably would have to throw in another starter, Pucetas, Tanner. If Sadowski can keep on pitching well, they might take him.

In the ChiSox case, I would be interested in Wilson Betemit. Could play 2B, SS, 3B, totally wasted by Yankees and now ChiSox, had a lot of power playing in Atlanta and LA. Should not take much to take him off their hands and he's still young. They already have a nice SS in Ramirez plus Gordon Beckham could play the same positions as well and would take a starting position. Probably would take a mid-tier pitching prospect, I would think, Pucetas, Tanner, Martinez, Sadowski.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Baseball Draft Signings Moving Fast This Year: #5 Signed

This draft has seen a lot of quick signings in the first round, it seemed to me. Up to this weekend, 8 of the 32 first round picks have signed already:

  • #4: Boston College C Tony Sanchez, $2.5M (Pirates) vs. slot of $2.75M in 2008
  • #10: Stanford RHP Drew Storen, $1.6M (Nationals) vs. slot of $2.07M in 2008
  • #17: Notre Dame OF A.J. Pollock, $1.4M (D-backs) vs. slot of $1.63M in 2008
  • #21: High School SS Jiovanni Mier, $1.358M (Astros) vs. slot of $1.48M in 2008
  • #24: High School OF Randal Grichuk, $1.242M (Angels) vs. slot of $1.38M in 2008
  • #26: High School RHP Eric Arnett, $1.197M (Brewers) vs. slot of $1.33M in 2008
  • #31: U. C. Berkeley OF Brett Jackson, $0.972M (Cubs) vs. slot of $1.08M in 2008
  • #32: Sacramento State OF Tim Wheeler, $0.9M (D-Rox) vs. slot of $1.06M in 2008

That is one quarter of the prospects drafted in the first round, though two of them usually would not be in the first round, #31 and #32, there were two picks that moved from last season to this season.

According to reports, Selig had laid out the edict, er, suggestion, that there be a 10% reduction in the bonus slot. The above signings appear to be around what this reduction is, except for Storen, but the rumors on him was that the Nats had a pre-arrangement with him that they would draft him earlier than expected as long as he signs for less than slot.

The Nats figure to be signing WAAAY over slot for Stephen Strasburg, the first pick overall this year, and thus were looking to save some money. They still have the $4M they would have used last year on Crow before he declined to sign, plus now the savings on Storen (about $0.5M but I guess every little bit counts when Strasburg is looking to get a $20M+ package).

#5 Pick Signed

The latest news is really pertinent to the Giants in that the Orioles had announced on Saturday that they have signed Matt Hobgood, the #5 pick overall, to a $2.42M bonus, over the weekend. Last year's slot for the #5 pick was $2.5M (but Buster Posey was the pick so his signing bonus is not comparable) and, as noted, Selig recommends slicing 10% off, making the slot for the #5 pick to be $2.178M for 2009. Clearly, he signed for close to the slot for last year's draft but with a slight reduction.

The slot for the #6 pick last season was $2.4M. Since our pick, Zach Wheeler, is very comparable since he's also a high school pitcher like Hobgood, this signing would suggest that he should sign for basically around $2.4M, maybe for $2.35M, but the Giants in the past have not been that cheap about their signings, they were willing to go over slot, but how much over usually extended the time before signing, the higher the draftee wanted their bonus. With time value for money, even if he wanted $2.4M, one would think that he would be signing very soon.

Now, the way Wheeler seemed when he was interviewed right after being drafted was that he was eager to sign and get his professional career started. He doesn't have Boras as his agent, but I'm not sure who it is. He was not considered good enough to be considered for the #1 pick, and thus should not be expecting way over slot for his bonus.

This would all suggest that Wheeler should be signing soon and playing for our rookie league team soon

Analysis of Wheeler

Been meaning to post this earlier and separately, but the website, Baseball Intellect, which is run and written by Alex Eisenberg, did an analysis of Zach Wheeler recently. He has been analyzing the mechanics and skill sets of numerous draftees in the past couple of drafts.

Lots of good information on his pitching repertoire, and how good they are, plus, of course, his mechanics, as well as other notes on his makeup and intangibles. According to Eisenberg, he thinks that Wheeler will more likely become a borderline No. 2 starter, with the upside being that he could become a No. 1 starter if he can develop properly. Given the Giants success with high school pitchers during the Sabean era - Cain, Bumgarner, Alderson, even Jerome Williams before his physical/mental problems affected his ability - it looks like Sabean and gang has done it again with Wheeler.

Sabean's Future

I still find it amazing that there are still people carping on and complaining about Brian Sabean. For all the mistakes that many people blame him for in the past 4-7 years, they don't appear to be enjoying this season and/or understanding that it was him who put together this 2009 version of the Giants, nor appreciating the job he has done in putting it together. They would rather complain about the offense, which is among the worse in the NL and the majors, but more importantly has been doing the job with our pitching and defense, because, after all, that is the point of baseball, winning, and on that count, they have been doing a very good job, the Giants have the second best record in the NL and the lead for the wild-card spot for the playoffs.

I don't know if that is just Giants fans or all fans, but the glass is perpetually half empty. I used to contribute to the Usenet group for the Giants and there were a lot of unhappy people from 1997 to 2003, even though that was the best period for success for the Giants since the 1960's. They couldn't seem to enjoy the success, all they could seemingly do was focus on what was wrong with the team and how lousy Brian Sabean was.

As I've been saying for a number of years now, I think that Sabean has done a good job in rebuilding the farm system - once the team started losing and garnering much better draft picks (that is, picks with much higher odds of becoming a good player), that also helped too. I was among the few who were openly happy with the signing of Sabean to his current 2-year extension and he has not disappointed with his work last season and this season, in my opinion.

I think the Giants have been much more focused the past couple of seasons on creating opportunities for our better prospects at the major league level, particularly for the pitching staff, but also for the hitters. For example, they left open 3B for Frandsen, last season, which created a huge hole for them when he blew out his Achilies tendon and was lost for the whole season, basically, and kept Lewis as the starter even when Roberts returned, then this year gave Sandoval, Ishikawa, Burriss, and Sanchez the chance to win their positions. My main problems have been that we kept Randy Winn the past two seasons when Nate Schierholtz was ready for his opportunity and picking Burriss over Frandsen for the starting position this season. But I consider these quibbling, as overall, I've been very happy with what the Giants have been doing.
Based on how the team has been doing this year, I would hope that Neukom will sign Sabean to another 2 year extension after the season, with a team option for a third season. In fact, I would hope they get his name on the contract before the season ends so that another team can't sign him away, because I can see Sabean seriously look around if he is allowed to go free agent for even a minute, and that other teams would seriously look at him, and thus he would take his time to consider his options during the critical period when our management should be negotiating with free agents to fill any holes for the 2010 season.

The 2009 Giants are 40-34: Battle with Cards for Wild-Card Lead

Brew Crew Beat On

The Giants had a disappointing series with the Brewers - though with better closing we could have won the series, but Wilson has been very good up to now, so this is quibbling - but there were a number of good things to note.

First and foremost is Schierholtz's hot hitting. He looks like he might have Wally Pipped Fred Lewis for an OF starting position. In the 3 games series, he went 7 for 13 with a double and homer plus a homer stolen over the fence by Cameron, for a .538/.571/.846/1.418 batting line. Since he began starting regularly on June 11th, his batting line is .426/.451/.681/1.132 with 3 HR in 47 AB (again, remember, he should have had a 4th homer), starting in 12 games out of 17 (and playing in 16). It is something like this that makes me wish all the harder that the Giants had done what I have been advocating for the past two off-seasons: trade away Randy Winn so that Nate Schierholtz can start for us and be the power hitter that we have been lacking.

Second, and just as hot if not hotter, is Pablo Sandoval. Despite leaving yesterday's game early for a stomach ailment, he was 5 for 11 in the series with 3 HR, for a Bondsian batting line of .455/.500/1.364/1.864. Since the second game on June 4th, he has a batting line of .422/.489/.819/1.309 with 8 HR in 83 AB. Clearly, his power has started coming through once he figured out how to hit pitchers consistently.

The two of them join Travis Ishikawa, who has been hot since Bochy openly benched him for all of one day on May 10th. Since May 10th, Ishikawa hit .320/.400/.520/.920 with 4 HR in 75 AB. And for the month of June, he has hit .250/.289/.556/.845 with 3 HR in 36 AB.

So, yes, between the three of them, they have hit 14 HR in the month June (and would have 15 if not for Cameron). If they can continue hitting HR's, the Giants don't look like they will be so puny with homerun hitting for the rest of the season, particularly including Molina.

Thirdly, I forgot to note before that Rich Aurilia has been hitting better of late, he had a nice streak from May 15 to June 16, where he hit .282/.349/.410/.759, before an 0-fer brought him down on June 20th, but then he had a 2-for-5 on June 24th. People have been wanting to drop him, but unfortunately Richie has been distracted by thoughts of his father, who has had serious health problems for years now, but finally succumbed to them recently, as his health failed.

Fourth, I was impressed with how the Giants came back the next day to not only play well, but win, after such a devastating loss as they had gone through on Saturday. Many teams get sucker-punched by such a tough loss, and the aftermath is a lackluster game the next day. It is a sign of maturity and confidence that they shrugged off the loss and won going away the next day.

Lastly, I have to note Ryan Sadowski's masterful first start in the majors on Sunday. Against the powerful Brewers team that had just battered our pitching the day before, costing us two good leads and taking the victory away from the Giants, Sadowski, a good organizational soldier who was rumored to be soon sold to a Japanese league team, shut out the Brewers for 6 innings, giving up only 4 hits, plus 3 walks and striking out two, including the first batter of the game, his first batter of his major league career. He also got his first major league hit as well as his first major league win. All in a start that he didn't even know about until Friday when his AAA manager informed him of it.

According to what I learned from the radio, it has been quite a trip for Sadowski. When he was drafted by the Giants, he had not played any baseball for three years in college. He held a tryout for scouts - Tidrow was there - and based on that the Giants drafted him in the 12th round. He has never been a prospect that drew a lot of interest - heck, any interest - from the prospect hounds who know about such stuff. He has been what people call a good organizational player, a guy who is filling a spot on the minor league team so that our better prospects would have a team to play on as they progress up the minors to the majors. Only sometimes the dream comes true for these players, like Matt Palmer (and many others) last season, Brian Cooper a few years back, etc.

He got this opportunity because the Giants decided to skip Jonathan Sanchez's spot in the rotation in order to work with him and get his head and mechanics straight. Like it did with Matt Cain and Barry Zito, and with Lincecum, the threat of one, that got the pitcher off the treadmill, running in the same direction, and gave him a moment to reflect and go off on another direction. Sanchez came into the game in relief for the 9th inning and, after plunking Prince Fielder with a wild pitch into his wide side, Sanchez struck out the side. Fielder was mad but I can understand if Sanchez was a bit wild with his first pitch, after all, that is why he got sat down in the first place, and second, it being his first pitch, his adrenaline could have gotten the best of him there as well.

Now the interesting question is what to do next. It would seem a shame to send Sadowski back down, especially after his shutout outing, but with Aurilia gone on bereavement, it would appear that the Giants should swap Frandsen for Sadowski to beef up the bench for the series against the Cardinals, particularly with how well Sanchez pitched, he was dominating, from what I heard on the radio.

In addition, despite hitting his first major league homerun yesterday, Matt Downs has been scuffling. He has hit .212/.289/.333/.623 in 10 games, 33 AB and 8 strikeouts with that one homer. The good point is that his BABIP is .240, so perhaps if he can boost it up to .300, his batting line would be OK, but every hitter's BABIP is individual, there is not a mean around which he should regress to other than his career BABIP, and that hasn't been established for him yet. But since hitting is considered his forte, that would suggest that with enough time, he can eventually hit well in the majors.

However, the Giants are trying to balance winning with developing their young players. They have given him a chance because Burriss blew his and Frandsen was caught in between the period when he could not be brought up, opening up an opportunity for Downs. So the Giants will have to decide whether to give him more time or to finally give Frandsen his opportunity to start at 2B. Given that Downs started out OK then has been dropping the past two series, they could decide to bring up Frandsen to start, putting Downs on the bench until Aurilia returns.

Cards Series

The Cards are always tough and Pujols has been very hot. It's going to be a tough series, but we got our four best starters going against them, starting with Lincecum. I think that the Giants viewed the Cards as their main competition to beat because they could have started Lincecum against the Brewers in the last game of the series, but instead chose to call up Sadowski and allow Lincecum to be the first starter against the Cards.

Game 1: Lincecum vs. Brad Thompson.

Just inserted in the rotation about a month ago, he has had some pretty bad starts. Plus, he hasn't been particularly good in the majors previous to his season, though better this season. I would say that he's a good back of the rotation guy, but he's going against our #1 guy, and thus we should win this game. Lincecum is 3-0 with a 2.37 ERA in three career starts against the Cards, and has been just dominating the past three starts.

Game 2: Johnson vs. Chris Carpenter

Another reason not to muck with the order of the rotation is because then we pit Randy Johnson against Chris Carpenter, instead of having Cain face Carpenter. Not that Wainwright is a piece of cake, but Carpenter has been totally dominating since he got off the DL. Johnson has been pitching better of late, whereas Cain had his first bad start in almost two months in his last start. Also, Johnson, I think, will raise his level of play to match Carpenter, the greats ones can still do that for one start every so often, even at Johnson's age. We most probably will lose but it should be a good game where Johnson also have a good chance of winning.

Game 3: Cain vs. Adam Wainwright

Cain had a tough outing, but Wainwright has had a number of rough outings in his 3 of his last 4 starts, 4 of his last 6. I think that this is a good matchup of roughly equal pitchers, but I think that Cain will come out on top of this one, I think the last start is an aberration, he really seems to have turned the corner from being good to being great. This game will be a great test of that, whether he can turn it on and beat the Cards.

Game 4: Zito vs. Wellemeyer

Another reason why we don't muck with the rotation order: Zito vs. Wainwright would probably be a losing proposition. Zito vs. Wellemeyer, however, looks pretty good. Wellemeyer has a 5.68 ERA with only 55 strikeouts in 88.2 IP, but 40 walks!!! Plus 111 hits!!! Zito better beat Wellemeyer, it would be very disappointing if he doesn't beat him, though I understand that that happens sometimes.

Giants Thoughts

This series can swing from very good to very bad, depending on how things go with the starting pitching. I think a split is a very good possibility, what with games 1 and 4 looking like good bets, and I would take that easily, as that would make our road trip an almost even split, with us losing 2 of 3 at Milwaukee (I can't count Oakland as a road trip). With Houston (35-38), Florida (38-39) and San Diego (33-41) as opponents at home just before the All Star break, the Giants could boost up their record a bit at home, where they have one of the best records in the majors playing at home, assuming they can get out of St. Louis relatively unscathed.

With three hot hitters in Schierholtz, Sandoval, and Ishikawa, plus Rowand doing well himself, and Molina doing OK, the offense could be good enough up top to help our pitching win in this series. The lineup will be Rowand, Winn, Sandoval, Molina, Schierholtz, Renteria, Ishikawa, Uribe, and that would be pretty good given how well they have been hitting of late. And the Cards are throwing up all RHP, so our lefties should see starts the whole series. I think that given Winn's struggles of late, I can see Bochy sitting him down once, and give Lewis a start.

With game time coming up, it looks like the Giants are not making any roster moves, meaning that Sadowski and Downs will get another chance to impress the team's management. Sadowski will, for sure, because there is no reason to keep him up unless they are planning to give him another start. And that appears to be so, Andy Baggarly just reported that Bochy says that Sadowski is officially in the rotation.

With Uribe starting at 2B in today's lineup, Downs apparently has worn out some of his welcome - Giants facing untested struggling starter today, usually an excellent spot for a prospect like Downs to start, particularly batting 8th where Uribe is today. And apparently Frandsen has not done enough to warrant starting up in the majors. Apparently, since the Cards only have a four man bench, the Giants think they can get away with that too. I think that is easier for the Cards because they have such a good lineup - we don't.

With Sadowski annointed to be in the rotation, that would mean that Sanchez would be in the bullpen until at least after the All-Star break, at which time, one would hope he figured out enough to earn back his rotation spot. In addition, that would mean that Downs will probably go down when Aurilia returns and Uribe is our 2B until further notice. The only way this works for me is if this showcases Uribe and someone trades for him, giving us a nice prospect in return, then Frandsen gets to start the rest of the season.

Judging from the interview with a Brewers hitter on TV, it sounded like Sadowski had the upper hand on them because none of them had faced him before, and he first went with one pitch the first time around the lineup, then mixed in another pitch the second time around and adjusted to the hitters. I got the impression that the hitter was not impressed but tipped his hat off to Sadowski because he adjusted when he needed to.

Can he keep hitters off balance once he's a known quality? It was telling that he struck out two batters in his first two innings, but could not get another strikeout for the next four innings. It was also telling that Sadowski only had 45 strikes thrown in 85 pitches. A more discerning lineup could rack up more than the 3 walks he gave up to the Brewers, though neither Florida nor Houston are that great. I say enjoy the ride while you can, because unless he can adjust further, he's going to get hit on pretty quickly, once there are tapes and scouting reports filed on him. But I will hope for the best.

Meanwhile, I have to think that it's Downs who goes down when Aurilia returns. And that probably means Uribe will be starting at 2B, and perhaps Aurilia too, at least until the All Star break. Then the Giants management will re-assess and see what they should do next.

I still hope that give Frandsen a chance. Given all the comments I heard from Bochy earlier this season, I have to think so, they said that he would get his chance, only later, that he had to be patient with the process. And the Giants thought enough of him last season to keep 3B open for him, so since he has hit like normal in AAA this season, and even more importantly, played defense well at SS. So he should get an extended chance sometime this season because he's not getting any younger.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Giants are 39-32: Brew Crew Whew!

After that scintillating series against the A's, the Giants face the Milwaukee Brewers. The series probably hinges on what Bochy does with Sanchez.

Game 1: Cain vs. Yovani Gallardo

Cain is 9-1, 2.28 ERA but Gallardo is 7-4, 3.00 ERA. Going to be tough to win, he's basically the same home and the road: 2.97 ERA at home, 3.02 ERA on road. But one of Cain's improvements has been his good pitching on the road: 2.44 ERA at home, 2.06 ERA on road. Looks like we should win, but with the Brewer's lineup, it is really a toss-up.

Game 2: Zito vs. Seth McClung

Not only has Zito been scuffling lately, but McClung has been pitching well since he's been put in the rotation, 3-1, 3.24 ERA. However, McClung only has 27 strikeouts in 41.2 IP with a whopping 23 walks (though 36 hits) with 5 HR, so he looks like he's been lucky, particularly in light of how he has performed in the past. Looks like he will regress though should be good, around 4 ERA.

However, Zito is a flyball pitcher in a park that punishes those types of pitchers (or so says Dave Fleming on KNBR). Zito has been horrible on the road so far too. He also has a bad history in Miller park. However, 5 HR and 21 hits total in 14.1 IP would normally do that. He did have 10 strikeouts and only 5 walks, so he was OK in that way. I think that he should be better than his career, but that's not hard to do when his ERA there is 10.05 and his WHIP is 1.81.

But I still think he should be able to do better. He now has his fastball. He has a bit of his swagger back. He's been on a good streak of strikeouts per IP, which is when he tends to be at his best, overall. But he has to be a lot better to beat McClung, it appears.

Game 3: ??? vs. Jeff Suppan

We should be able to beat Suppan with anyone in our rotation, except Sanchez, because Suppan is 5-5, 4.65 ERA. There is really no one to bring up for a spot start, so the Giants, if they skip Sanchez, would be throwing Lincecum against the Brewers, which should be an easy win if so.

Giants Thoughts

Does not look good to win this series, it will hinge, clearly, on how Cain does and whether Lincecum starts the 3rd game or not. I think the decision on what to do with Sanchez will probably hinge on what the Giants have done in the first two games. If they are facing being swept, I have to think Bochy would skip Sanchez and start Lincecum, as we are battling with the Brewers for the wild card.

But we are also kind of battling the Cards too, as they could be overtaken by the Brewers, so if the Giants somehow had pulled out two wins already, he might pitch Sanchez anyhow and save Lincecum to go against the Cards.

Good to see both Ishikawa and Schierholtz in the lineup today: they are batting 5th and 6th, big RBI spots in the lineup. I think this is the 2nd or 3rd time Ishikawa has been put there recently. Uribe is playing SS and batting 7th, as he should, he's not that good a hitter, though he's been good for the past month or so. Winn is now batting 2nd, but he's been good against RHP so that's good. We could have a solid block of hitters up top: Rowand, Winn, Sandoval, Molina, Ishikawa, Schierholtz. Not like Milwaukee's lineup but we should be getting a lot of hits going, so who knows, it's not like they are winning that many games with their lineup now, just about as many as our lineup.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

How Sweep It Is!

As I noted after the Giants got swept by the Angels, this is a young team that is going to have it's ups and downs. I just didn't expect it against the Rangers. Feldman had a 3.70 ERA entering the game, and even if it is the Big Unit, and he's been doing better of late, still, the Rangers are a tough offensive team to boot. Cain, however, I expected to do well and probably win, but Holland showed why he's one of the Ranger's top prospects going into the season by shutting down the Giants, improving his road stats, which are way better than his home stats. Then Zito had a great outing, after many fans gave up on him again, and eventually triumphed over Rangers, against who he has been a ridiculous, like, 18-5. And he did it against the very good Kevin Millwood (think the Braves wouldn't like him back?).

Zito Starting To Roll

As I noted a couple of games ago, it was significant that he struck out more batters than total innings pitched, when he had 6 in 5 innings. He didn't quite reach that in the next game, but for pitchers like him, sometimes the balls bounce the wrong way and he's battered badly. Still, no walks, 3 K's in 3.2 IP. Now, with this game, he struck out 8 in 7 innings, and ended up with a 5 PQS game, a nice DOM start overall. That gave him 17 K's in 15.2 IP, with 19 hits and 8 walks.

Not great, but as I noted in this post, a sign that he is going good generally is his ability to occassionally go through at least 3 starts where he strikes out more than his innings pitched. He has typically been a second half pitcher, where he tires just enough finally where his off-speed pitches separates enough from his fastball that batters are fooled more often, showing up in more strikeouts and his being able to strike out more per innings pitched.

Other Notes
  • Aaron Rowand went 6 for 12, with a triple, 2 homers, 5 runs scored, 2 RBI. As much as I would rather bat him 5th right now, we need somebody who is getting on base regularly for us at the leadoff position. Winn would be the ideal guy but hasn't been doing it against LHP this season, and Renteria would be an alternative except that he has sucked thus far. Just DL Renteria and bring up Frandsen to start at SS, period.
  • Pablo Sandoval went 5 for 10, 2 doubles, 3 walks, but, oddly enough, no runs or RBI. Not good!
  • Fred Lewis went 2 for 6, with a key 2-run homer and a walk.
  • And the starters were very good again, overall, along with the bullpen, shutting down the Rangers for the series and saving games.
  • Matt Downs have impressed enough that he's going to get an extended run as the starting 2B, even though Frandsen is available Monday. I agree, Downs have been OK, may as well ride the good hand until he proves otherwise.
  • Jonathan Sanchez will start Monday against A's. Hopefully he's figuring things out, but I'm not holding my breath.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Paying Forward: Sanchez and Sandoval

I was going to do two different posts but, basically, both are two stories of paying forward so I put them together. First, I will cover how Jose Uribe's contributed to Pablo Sandoval's development. Then I will cover how The Big Unit is helping out with Jonathan Sanchez's development. I think this justifies every penny we are paying Randy Johnson, and leads me to say that if Johnson wants to pitch next year, we should re-sign him and let Bumgarner and Alderson spend a full year in AAA in 2010 in preparation for joining our starting rotation in 2011.

Uribe and Sandoval: Tying the Knot

Most of you probably don't know this but I got my start doing this sort of stuff by writing about the Giants for Fanhome (which then became Scout.com; the Giants section was called SF Dugout back then), which was fed out to Yahoo. Here is a link to my first article, which explained that Jose Uribe helped with Vladimir Guerrero's early development by coming by his neighborhood and donating nine gloves to the kids, which allowed them to play baseball properly. And the rest, as they say, is history, Vlad eventually was signed and became the great player that he is today.

Remembering the kindness of Uribe, Vlad has been paying forward, bringing not only gloves, but clothes and other equipment, as well as building a proper baseball field. As accounted in today's article by the great Andy Baggarly in the San Jose Mercury, one day he donated a bunch of his used footwear to a cousin of his, who happened to be in the Giants farm system, but when it didn't fit his cousin, he passed it on to a fellow player on that short-season team who did have size 11 feet, Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval told Vlad, when they were on the field together in this last series, that Vlad's shoes got him to the big leagues.

And that seems totally appropriate because there have been a lot of comments about how Sandoval's hitting reminds people of how Vlad hits because, while he swings at a lot more pitches than most hitters, particularly out of the strike zone, he's able to position himself so that he gets the barrel on the ball and get hits. After starting out cold to start the season (many new starters appear to get the yips early on before getting their bearings), Sandoval has been bringing things up a notch, little by little, culminating in his recently ended 10 game hitting streak, where he hit .471 including four homers.

He is now hitting .330, good for fifth in the NL, which is bringing talk that perhaps he can be a perenial contender for the batting title. People complain that he doesn't take walks (or balls) but as Bochy noted in Baggarly's article, Tony Gwynn never got a lot of walks either, because players like him and Sandoval usually can put the ball in play when they swing the bat.

Baggarly had a nice discussion on how the Sandoval is adjusting his batting tactics this season, per the Giants suggestions. Not wanting to kill their golden goose, the Giants don't want to discourage his "bad-ball brilliance" but rather, show a more discerning eye at the plate. That would also explain his slow start, as he worked on doing that instead of just swinging and hitting.

The stats Baggarly noted on show that he's improving. His pitches per plate appearance is up 10%, from 3.11 last season to 3.46 so far this season. He is also swinging at the first pitch much less as well, only 45% this year vs. 50% last year. In addition, overall, he is swinging at only 58% of pitches this year vs. 64% last year. The results: he is hitting .330/.373/.536/.909.

That's why walks are overrated by the Giants fanbase and sabermetricians, who parrot the Moneyball line about OBP. Ultimately, if you have the choice between two similar players with the same OBP, you want the one who has the higher batting average, which by definition therefore has a lower walk rate, because the batting average boost both OBP and SLG. That's the ying and yang of offense, you want to both get on base (OBP) and drive in baseruners (SLG). That's a nuance that escapes many: of course, it's better, given the choice, to take a walk rather than make an out, but if a guy can hit well and not strike out much at the same time, a low walk rate is not bad. It didn't hurt Tony Gwynn, nor did it hurt Vlad.

Of course, there are few who can hit like Gwynn or Vlad. But so far in his career (careeer batting line of .336/.367/.518/.885) and only at the tender age of 22 (he'll be 23 in mid-August), Sandoval is doing a pretty good imitation of them.

As noted by Baggarly, one of the fears has been that pitchers would adjust to his aggressive tendencies this season, and he would not hit like he did last season. I didn't think that would happen because teams have known about his aggressive tendencies since he first joined the Giants, and every year, at every level, the pitchers were not able to control Kung Fu Panda. In fact, he figured them out more often than they figured him out:

2006 - A: 17.0% K%
2007 - A+: 13.0% K%
2008 - A+: 14.3% K%
2008 - AA: 11.4% K%
2008 - MLB: 9.7% K%
2009 - MLB: 14.7% K%

And while his K% went up this season, it should be noted that his BB% has gone up too, making his BB/K rise from last year's 0.29 to this season's 0.39, and that a major league hitter who can keep his K% at 15% and lower is among the elite of the league. The batting average of hitters who can keep their K% between 10% and 14% average around .285 batting average.

And with his increase in BB%, he greatly improved his batting average potential. For hitters who strike out as much as Sandoval is right now, those who walk at 5% and under average only a .269 batting average, while those above 5% to 10%, average a .279 batting average. He is also hitting more doubles as well.

I would also note that his cartoon-ish high .367 BABIP last year - each hitter's BABIP is individual - is being repeated this year, as his BABIP is currently .361. If this is his normal level of production, he would be one of the highest in the majors right now and, as noted, a perenial contender for the batting title.

Mike Scioscia was quoted in Baggarly's article:
"I tell you, he's a special talent at the plate. On video, we saw him hit some balls a really long way. The thing I notice is he's got good balance at the plate. There are some things you can try to do, but you don't have the margin of error you might have with other hitters wh ohave soft zones. He's too strong and his bat is too quick. You can try to get under his swing, and we've done it a couple of times. But if you don't get it there, you've seen what can happen."
I think I'll end with Vlad's comment to Baggerly:
"Leave him alone. If he's hitting the ball like that, hey, let him hit."
Yoda Unit and Luke Sanchez

In a nice article by Andrew Pentis, it discusses how The Big Unit, Randy Johnson, is actively mentoring Jonathan Sanchez. That is one of the benefits that was discussed about adding Johnson to the team. I won't go through all the details - and there is a lot of great detail, so I recommend going there if you want that - but would note that Johnson is giving a ship-load of advice to Sanchez and being a hard taskmaster.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, but that would explain to me how Sanchez has been so up and down (mostly down) this season. He is thinking too much on the mound, and so he reverts back to his learning mode, which as Malcolm Gladwell noted in his article about choking and the art of failure. And that's not a bad thing in the long run, but has been pretty bad in the short run.

He is being driven by lofty goals. He wants to be like his fellow rotation mates - and that's a tall order with the current Cy Young winner, three Cy Young winners in total, and one (Cain) looking to be in the hunt for the Cy Young this season. He also wants to pitch 7 innings every time, but has rarely made the 7th, let alone pitch through it. And, so these goals could also be affecting him as well, making him think too much.

A player, including particularly a pitcher, need to be able to do everything that they do reflexively and subconsciously, using muscle memory, or they will get what people call "the yips". That is demonstrated when a catcher suddenly cannot throw the ball to the pitcher, launching towards secondbase, or an infielder who suddenly cannot throw to a base without throwing it over the fielder's head. I think this explains Sanchez's regression this year.

I think it will all pay off eventually, but "when" is the operative word. The team cannot wait much longer for him to start putting it all together. We have been good enough to still be over .500 even with him sucking so badly, but now that we are so close to the prize - a playoff spot, as they are only 1 game behind St Louis - the Giants are trying to shore up the weak points on the team. That's why Burriss was sent down to AAA so quickly, without waiting for Frandsen to be available to call up, and that is why Fred Lewis has become the 4th OF and Schierholtz has been seeing regular starts now - he has started in 6 of his and the Giants last 7 games.

I think that the Giants will skip at least one of his starts, that has been Bochy's M.O., and if he doesn't make enough progress, perhaps another one, and just let him relieve and get his mind back into order by giving it a rest. Hopefully that will be enough, but perhaps Johnson should also skip on his lectures for now until after the All-Star break, to give his pupil a mental break. Sometimes you are getting so many instructions that you feel overwhelmed.

That's what happened when I learned how to drive a stick shift. My friend, bless his heart, taught me how to drive, but was constantly in my face about everything that I needed a break and ended the lesson. I drove home and then just leisurely drove around my quiet neighborhood and, once the pressure was off, I was soon shifting very well (though once I burned some rubber and revved the engine, catching the attention of a couple of cute girls, who appeared to think I was doing that to impress them).

I think that Sanchez after the break will be more like the dominant pitcher he was last season, than the lost pitcher he has been this season. He has been pitching scared and thinking too much to let his abilities show, and the break will do him well. But I think that Johnson will have to be less of the stern teacher and more the supportive buddy to help with that.

Still, overall, based on the great reportage by Pentis, I would have to say that the Randy Johnson Experiment has been a great success. The details of how he has been tutoring Sanchez has been amazing. I was leaning towards letting him go and getting a draft pick for him, maybe, but now I think we have to resign him and let him work on helping our young prospects in the minors during the September call-ups (you have to think that Bumgarner and Alderson will be up here) and spring training next year. He, himself, hasn't been that great overall, but has been OK enough that we are winning games with him pitching and is worth the tradeoff in terms of him helping Sanchez reach his potential. I hope we keep him.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

You Win Some, You Lose Some: It Is What It Is

Yes, very disappointing to be swept after sweeping the A's. Particularly because we were set up to win the series, but it happens when you are dealing with a young team. They will have glitches sometimes. They had a big one in this series.

Still, we have some positive things to take away from the series. Schierholtz continued to hit OK. Ishikawa has continued to hit OK despite sitting on the bench for a long while. Sandoval is ready now to play 3B regularly, which is where he belongs right now. Downs had a nice debut.

For all the nice touchy-feely of Juan Uribe this season, his main value was his power and he has 1 HR in 122 AB and a 131 ISO. Not good, so he just belongs on the bench and allow us to play Ishikawa at 1B, Sandoval at 3B, and Downs/Frandsen at 2B.

It would be a bad sign to me (one that would influence me to vote no against Bochy) if Bochy continues to play Uribe more than occassionally, he should not play more than the young guys right now. The only reason he was playing was because we had nobody to play 3B. Even going forward, he should not be starting if 3B is free, Frandsen should be brought up to start at 3B in that case, he has proven himself in AAA to be healthy and back to where he was before offensively, if not better defensively.

Another thing I learned is that Sanchez should sit his next start. Partly because he hasn't done well. Mostly because that would mean that the A's would face Lincecum, Johnson and Cain instead of Sanchez, Lincecum, and Johnson. I would like to see the Giants sweep the A's again, and putting our three best starters against them would help with that. Plus, if we skip his next start after that, we get to pitch Lincecum in the St. Louis series, which is one of the better teams in the NL. Then put him back into the rotation after that, as we would be facing Houston, Florida, and San Diego before the All-Star break.

And that would give us one more Lincecum start that Sunday before the All-Star Game. That is good because 1) he will probably make the All-Star team, 2) if he starts that Sunday, he goes to the bottom of the list of pitchers to use for the NL manager, 3) I don't want him pitching in the game. More pitches on his arm and all that, plus if he pitches, then he might be affected physically since he would most likely be the first pitcher starting after the break.

Personally, I think he can do it, but why push it in this case? It is not like we are making the World Series, where it would matter. But the good news is that we have that Thursday off, so even if he does play, he would only go 1 inning and then pitch again 3 days later, instead of 2. So it is not bad if he plays, just ideal if he doesn't. But he probably wants the ball badly, and I suspect that the AL will tee off on him, as he has had the yips when he faces a new pressure situation, his first game in spring training, his first MLB start, his first opening day start, his adrenaline seems to get the best of him.

That is one reason why it would be great if we can get him into the playoffs this year. Even if we get in, we probably won't get deep into it, so if we can squeak in, then Lincecum could get the sensation of pitching in his first playoff game out of the way, and be dominant in seasons going forward. But I would not make any of the crazy trades that people are suggesting we do in order to win more games. 2009 is not about the playoffs, it is about seeing which prospect to keep going forward, and who to discard.

Right now, Sandoval is a clear keeper, but Lewis, Ishikawa, Frandsen, Sanchez, are all question marks. They all have done things in the past to deserve a chance to show what he can do, but all have been up and down, none has shown much (or enough in Lewis's case) consistency in performing at the major league level.

I think Lewis will eventually snap out of it, but meanwhile, give Schierholtz a chance to play while Fred rests and figures things out. Sanchez is ace material if he can put it together, so I'm giving him a long leash, though since stamina was an issue last year, skipping a few starts with him is OK with me. Ishikawa, we have nothing better, really, so just play him the rest of the season, unplatooned, and see what happens, mix in Frandsen at 3B and Sandoval at 1B whenever he is scuffling again. Frandsen, as I've written, deserves an extended chance to start, whether at 2B or 3B or even SS. But who knows, maybe he stinks in the majors. But we won't know unless we give them extended chances to start and fail.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fix the Mistake: Let Frandsen Start the Rest of 2009

First off, let me say that I think that Burriss is a legit prospect who probably will eventually do better in the majors than Frandsen. He plays great defense at 2B plus is good controlling his bat and not striking out too many times, plus getting walks now and again at an OK pace.

His main two problems is that 1) he can't hit for average right now, with a horrible BABIP, and 2) even when he does hit, he can't hit for any power, which is necessary for any MLB hitter who hopes to have a long career. These are two critical skills that he has not mastered well enough in the majors thus far.

Frandsen vs. Burriss

Frandsen lost the spring training competition but basically he was on the rise while Burriss on the decline by the time spring training ended. Burriss looked good beating up on the lesser pitchers who were pitching more often earlier in spring training, but as the spring progressed and the better pitchers pitched more and longer into games, they were figuring him out.

Still, I can see why the Giants decided to go with Burriss, though I still didn't agree with it. Frandsen only just recovered last fall and we had no idea whether he was fully healed (though it should be noted that he outplayed Burriss in the Arizona Fall League and though he lost to Burriss, he also batted well too, just not as good) and how he would physically stand up to play during the season. Plus Burriss had a nice end to the 2008 season, giving some indication that perhaps he can handle the job full-time.

Well, Frandsen, after his slow start, probably caused by the disappointment of ending up in AAA when he thought he would at least be a utility guy at the major league level, turned it up and is currently hitting .330/.378/.477/.855 in the minors, which is a MLE of .283/.321/.389/.710, which is not great but looks great in comparison with Burriss's current batting line of .242/.298/.273/.570. Plus, Burriss is striking out a heck of a lot more than Frandsen is. And Frandsen's defense has drawn raves in his short stints up in the majors.

The key thing about Frandsen vs. Burriss is that Burriss has not really hit well at any level in professional baseball. His hitting abilities are still a big question mark, other than we know he can avoid the strikeout on a regular basis better than most hitters. Meanwhile, Frandsen has hit at every single level in the minors, and over 3 years in AAA, he has hit .321/.383/.459/.842 overall with only 52 strikeouts in 532 AB and 9 HR, which is probably 9 more than Burriss would hit. He also had 29 walks and 24 HBP, which total more than his strikeouts.

Fix the Mistake: Call Up Frandsen and Send Down Burriss

Burriss is clearly struggling with the bat. Sure, he plays great defense, based on the sparkling plays he has done, but according to UZR, he's actually below average, trading off dependability and competitence for flashy, shining defensive plays. So he's hurting the team both offensively and defensively.

Frandsen is not looking like he's going to be that good a major leaguer, but he has shown glimpses that he could make the adjustment. We won't know whether he can or can't until we put him in the majors and give him a position to hold for a long period without fear of losing it with a short run of poor play.

One player I've seen him compared to is Dustin Pedroia, and Pedroia also did not do that great in the minors, particularly in the upper minors, but when he made the majors, he made the final adjustments needed to continue to develop and keep up his level of production at the major league level. That is what Frandsen has done his entire minor league career, so we don't know that he won't continue to develop if given a shot in the majors.

The one and only time he was given such a shot was in the last two months of 2007. From August 1st to the end of the season, Frandsen played in 43 games, started 34 of them, and hit .295/.347/.439/.786, with 4 HR in 132 AB, 8 walks, 9 strikeouts, 4 HBP. He delivered.

Burriss, on the other hand, has not delivered very often or for very long.

  • From May 25 to June 18, 2008, he hit .414/.528/.517/1.045 in 29 AB
  • From August 16 to September 8th, 2008, he hit .371/.463/.443/.906 in 70 AB
  • From April 29 to May 14, 2009, he hit .393/.460/.429/.889 in 56 AB
  • From May 23 to June 4, 2009, he hit .378/.395/.459/.854 in 37 AB

Clearly, when Burriss is on, he can be one heck of an offensive player, and that coupled with his speed would clearly amp up any offense. However, despite all the above nice stretches of hitting, he has been so cold otherwise that his career MLB batting line is only .265/.331/.304/.634, which is an OK OBP, but horrible SLG and OPS.

He needs to hit for more power, and whatever Lansford is doing with his batting stance to generate more power out of his apparently power arms is not working this far, in fact, it has regressed this season, to 31 ISO from 46 ISO last season. The average 2B in the NL this season has an ISO of 130, so he is almost 100 percentage points lower.

Therefore, the Giants need to admit that they made a mistake giving Burriss the starting job this season. They should have done that when Ishikawa was brought up by sending Burriss down and keeping Frandsen starting at 2B but didn't. They can still do it at any time.

Another option for the Giants is to shop Uribe around to another contender, though I doubt they will do that. They could trade him for a prospect, which is a pretty good return for signing Uribe to a minor league deal, and bring up Frandsen to take over that spot. Fransdsen's utility position was taken by Uribe, but the one silver lining of Frandsen going down and playing in AAA is that he has shown the Giants that he can handle the SS position defensively, and thus he could steal ABs at 2B, SS, 3B, and even LF, and play pretty much full-time, much like how Feliz got so many AB early in his career.

If he can hit over .700 OPS and play decent defense at SS, he could even replace Renteria after Renteria's contract is up. Or even give the Giants thoughts of trading Renteria to a contender if Edgar should heat up his hitting in the second half like he did last season. It does not take much offense to be average, the average NL SS is hitting .263/.322/.382/.704 currently and Frandsen's MLE is right around there. Meanwhile, Burriss is not even hitting replacement level for SS, let alone 2B.

Send Burriss down and, more importantly, bring Frandsen up. That alone could boost up the offense greatly, as he could hit 2nd until Renteria starts hitting again and be OK there. And the defense should not take that big a hit, in fact, it could be even improved with Frandsen there, as Burriss is appearing to be bringing his poor offense with him to his defensive position more often than not, given his negative UZR this season.

Then tell Frandsen that the job is his until after the September call-ups. That would give him a good 2 months to get settled in the job and see what he can do with it on a regular basis. It couldn't be much worse than what Burriss had been giving us during this season.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Giants are 34-28: Acing the Angels

What a great sweep! The pitching won the day - only 3 runs allowed - but the offense also came alive too, scoring 15 runs in the 3 game series for a clear and satisfying sweep of the A's, who has dominated the Giants for years now.

Sure, it was against a last place team, but the A's were winners of 8 of their last 10 games when they came in against the Giants, and had just won 7 in a row, against the White Sox, Orioles, and Twins. While they were not winning teams, both the White Sox and Twins were around .500 teams when the A's faced them, and the Orioles were not that far away from .500, certainly closer than the A's are now or was back then.

The heroes for the weekend were Pablo Sandoval and Nate Schierholtz. Schierholtz was a part of the 3 run rally that clinched the game for Lincecum, drove in a key run in support of Johnson, and hit the 3-run inside-the-park homer, with two outs even, that sealed the game for Cain, plus made a number of key defensive plays which helped get runners out on the basepath, while Sandoval went 4 for 10 in the series, bunting for the first Giants hit in Lincecum's game, which keyed the three run rally, contributed a key hit in the 3 run 7th that won the game for the Big Unit, plus hitting the 2-run homer with two outs that gave Cain a comfortable lead for good and taking a walk that led to Schierholtz's exciting hit.

Also have to point out Matt Cain's 119 pitch complete game with no, zero, nil, zilch, nada, 0 walks and 9 strikeouts, and only 4 hits given up (though one was a solo homer). He was still reaching 95 MPH in the 9th inning, showing his strength did not get sapped. He was locked in. Overall, he has a 2.39 ERA with a 9-1 record. It was his third complete game of the season, though only his second 9 inning complete game (he was credited with one for a rain shortened start).

Game 1: Zito vs. John Lackey

Even when Zito was going well, such a matchup would tilt decidedly towards Lackey. However, this year Lackey has a 6.61 ERA and been very inconsistent since coming off the DL in mid-May. He had a good start against Toronto two starts ago and a good one against LA four starts ago, but bad starts against the Rays one start ago, and Mariners three starts ago, as well as a bad one against the Mariners five starts ago. If he is alternating, he's due to have a good one against us, though not dominating like he usually does in seasons past. Batters are hitting .336/.381/.496/.877 against him.

Zito, meanwhile, has struggled a bit after a good stretch where he helped carry the team with his good pitching. In his last 4 starts, his ERA has been 5.09, but something key happened for Zito in his last start that hasn't happened thus far this season: he struck out more batters than innings pitched. During his career, that has been a good sign that everything is on the right track. So it looks like Zito should win this game, even with his recent poor outings, particularly since he has pitched very well at home thus far this season.

Game 2: Sanchez vs. Ervin Santana

Again, normally Santana would be expected to beat Sanchez, but Santana's ERA thus far is 7.47. He too just returned to the rotation in mid-May and has been inconsistent as well. Plus had a bad last start, against the Rays. Sanchez has been just as inconsistent, however, though commentators thought that Sanchez turned a corner in his last start, even though he gave up 7 walks in only 5.2 innings, because he battled and kept all the walks from scoring, giving up only a solo homerun. I would say that this start must be called a push, either could dominate and win, either could implode and lose.

Game 3: Lincecum vs. Matt Palmer

The former Giants farmhand, who was horrible in 3 starts for us last season, is 6-0 with a 4.11 ERA, which is great. If he had done that for us, the Giants would not have ever let him go. However, the way he pitched he should have lost at least 4 games, though I must admit that he had a nice few starts along the way too, so he could have a nice start against us. However, I think the pressure of facing his old team will get to him and Lincecum should win easily.

Giants Thoughts

Before checking out the starters, I thought that we might have a tough time against them, but Lackey and Santana are still going through spring training, and while they might finally have figured things out, here in SF, I doubt that both of them will figure it out, plus Zito and Sanchez have been OK and show signs of snapping out of it and performing well again. Add that to Lincecum and the Giants should win the series and perhaps sweep it if our starters can come through again.

Schierholtz will be given another start today plus Ishikawa might get to start at 1B, as Sandoval's arm may be recovered enough to play 3B again. If Ishikawa and Schierholtz can continue their hot streak of hitting, as well as Molina, plus Sandoval and Rowand continue to hit well, the Angels could be soundly beaten, much like the A's.

However, Renteria and Burriss have been dead weights on the offense, particularly Renteria batting in the second spot for the most part this season. He has been horrible there whereas when he was briefly put in the #8 spot, he hit well there. The only question is that if Renteria hits 8th, then where would Burriss hit, as he has hit even worse than Renteria for the most part.

Perhaps the Giants could go with a lineup of: Rowand, Schierholtz, Winn, Molina, Sandoval, Ishikawa, Renteria, Burriss and see how that goes, Schierholtz has actually stole more bases in recent years than Renteria and he showed his speed yesterday with this inside-the-park homerun (though it should be noted that the radio announcers said that in almost any other park, that would have been a legitimate homerun over the fence.

I would also like to note Pablo Sandoval's recent streak. After he hit .345/.357/.490/.847 last season, we all knew it would be too much to hope that he could match that and were satisfied with the projections that had him around .800 OPS, but after 57 games and 212 AB, he is now hitting .325/.368/.509/.878. So, not only is he hitting for more power, but he's also taking many more walks, while only striking out a bit more than usual. If he can continue to walk at this frequency, he can hit .300 (which is very possible since he does not strike out that often) and still generate a nice mid-.300 OBP that is good.

Since April 19th, he has hit .357/.397/.567/.964 with 6 HR in 171 AB (29 AB/HR or roughly a 20 HR season), driving in 28 runs in only 171 AB and 44 starts, and 11 walks vs. 21 strikeouts. And since June 4th, he has hit .436/.477/.744/1.221 with 3 HR in 39 AB (13 AB/HR or roughly a 40 HR pace). The Giants have gone 9-3 in this hot stretch.

Ishikawa has also been hot since May 11th, though he has sat for the most part since May 27th. He has hit .381/.469/.500/.969 during that whole period, with 10 runs scored and 6 driven in, in 42 AB and 16 games, 13 starts. He also connected for his first homer and stole his first base. Even since sitting for the most part, he has hit .250/.400/.500/.900 in limited play, only 3 games, 1 start, 4 AB.

Giants 2009 Draft: The Rest of the Draft

The Giants finished up the draft and below are the picks (culled from the article that covered the second day and the one covering the last day).

Round 4, Jason Stoffel, RHP, University of Arizona
UA's all-time saves leader (29) had a down year last season, posting a 4.67 ERA in 54 innings pitched. But as a freshman and sophomore he closed out the Wildcats' games ahead of 2008 first-round picks Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth, going a combined 9-2 and collecting 18 saves in 60 appearances. That had many around the game pegging Stoffel as a top relief pitching prospect. Instead, he wasn't even the first Pac-10 Conference closer drafted in his class.

According to MLB.com's scouting reports, concerns grew over Stoffel's conditioning -- he weighs 225 pounds at 6 feet, 1 inch tall. A dropoff in command -- his strikeout-to-walk ratio worsened from 79-to-15 in 2008 to 55-to-25 in 2009 -- didn't help either.

Stoffel said he intends to skip his senior season at UA to sign with the Giants -- clubs have until Aug. 17 to sign all of their Draft picks -- and added he's glad four of the organization's six Minor League teams compete on the West Coast. The Southern California native said being a closer in the big leagues is his ultimate goal.

"He's got a quality arm, he's been a part of a quality program," said Bobby Evans, the Giants' vice president of baseball operations "He's statistically maybe a victim of a few bad outings, but otherwise has a lot of ability and upside."

Evans said he expects the Giants Draftees with college experience, Stoffel included, will start their careers with the Class A Short-Season Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.

Round 5, Brandon Belt, 1B, University of Texas
The left-handed-hitting Belt led the Longhorns with a .336 batting average. He hit eight home runs in 57 games.

Round 6, Matthew Graham, RHP, Oak Ridge (Texas) HS
According to MLB.com's scouting reports, Graham can pump his fastball into the mid-90s but needs to improve his secondary pitches and his mechanics. The 6-foot-4-inch Texan has a "Roger Clemens-type body," the report stated.

Round 7, Nick Liles, 2B, Western Carolina University
Liles hit .367 and made the move from second base to center field midway through last season. In 56 games, he hit nine home runs and stole 24 bags. The Giants drafted Liles in the 2006 Draft's 29th round.

Round 8, Karl Benusa, CF, Riverview (Pa.) HS

Round 9, Evan Crawford, CF, Indiana
Crawford is simply a speedster. The right-handed batter stole 61 bases in 64 attempts in his three seasons at Indiana. He hit .323 his junior season.

Round 10, Jeremy Toole, RHP, Brigham Young University
In his one season at BYU, Toole went 5-5 with a 5.77 ERA in 14 starts. A season highlight: He threw a complete-game three-hitter against the University of Utah, striking out nine batters.

Round 11, John Eshleman, SS, Mount San Jacinto College (Calif.)
Eshleman was the second of three players from MSJC taken in the Draft's first 14 rounds. Eshleman hit .436, setting the program's single-season hits record.

Round 12, Christopher Heston, RHP, East Carolina University
As his team's No. 2 starting pitcher last season, Heston went 7-0 with a 4.17 ERA in 15 starts (17 appearances). He struck out 88 in 90 2/3 innings pitched.

Round 13, Shawn Sanford, RHP, University of South Florida
After saving a combined 22 games in the closer role in 2007 and 2008, Sanford moved out of the bullpen in 2009. In 10 starts (17 appearances) he went 5-4 with a 4.68 ERA.

Round 14, Brian Salsbury, RHP, Mount San Jacinto Junior College (Calif.)
Salsbury won 13 games for MSJC, whiffing 127 hitters in 111 innings pitched.

Round 15, Kyle Vazquez, RHP, Franklin Pierce University
Vazquez, selected to the Rawlings/American Baseball Coaches Association All-America Third Team, was his team's top starting pitcher last season. He went 8-1 on the mound, posting a 1.93 ERA. He threw three shutouts on the season, striking out 112 batters in 93 1/3 innings pitched.

Round 16, Ryan Cavan, SS, University of California Santa Barbara
Cavan already listed the Giants as his favorite big league team. Now he likely loves the organization. In one season at UCSB -- after playing at Trinity College in 2006, Chapman University in 2007 and sitting out in 2008 -- Cavan hit .341 and scored 50 runs in 49 games.

Round 17, Christopher Gloor, LHP, Quinnipiac University (Conn.)
Gloor went 7-4 with a 4.63 ERA in 12 starts this past season, retiring 81 batters on strikes in 81 2/3 innings pitched. "I was listening on the radio and waiting and when I heard my name, it finally hit me," Gloor said, according to his school's Web site. "I knew there were teams that were interested in me, and right before San Francisco's pick, my advisor mentioned that the Giants may take me soon. I'm excited to get started as soon as I'm assigned to one of their affiliates."

Round 18, Jonathan Walsh, OF, Coppell (Texas) HS
The switch-hitting Walsh mainly played catcher last season, though there are concerns about his future at that position, according to MLB.com's scouting reports. Walsh has signed a letter of intent to play collegiately at the University of Texas.

Round 19, Jason Walls, RHP, Troy University
In one season at Troy, Walls went 4-4 with a 4.73 ERA in 13 starts.

Round 20, Mitchell Mormann, RHP, Des Moines Area Community College (Iowa)
Mormann won 10 games in 13 starts last season, posting a 3.40 ERA. The pitcher could make for an imposing presence on the mound as he stands 6 feet, 6 inches tall.

Round 21, Zachary Wasserman, 1B, Lake Shore (Mich.) HS

Round 22, Andrew Biery, 3B, Kansas State University
Biery played shortstop in college but was drafted to man the hot corner. He played four seasons at KSU, finishing his senior year with a .329 batting average and nine home runs in 57 games.

Round 23, Adam Champion, LHP, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Giants fans will want the organization to sign this 6-foot-7 junior, if only for his surname. Champion did have a lopsided win-loss record (3-7), however, and sported a 5.60 ERA.

Round 24, Alexander Burg, C, Washington State University
Burg -- Seinfeld aficionados would say he has a nice "John Houseman name" -- played two seasons at Clemson before finishing his amateur career with two more at WSU. In 2009, he led the Cougars with a .346 batting average.

Round 25, Steven Rogers, RHP, Tulane University
The junior, who goes by his middle name, Taylor, had a 4.43 ERA in 14 games last season.

Round 26, Luis Munoz, CF, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy High School

Round 27, Kyle Mach, 3B, University of Missouri
The four-year player led the Tigers in hitting (.335 batting average) last season and struck out just 19 times in 224 at-bats. His grandfather, Phil Gagliano, played 12 seasons with four big leagues teams and won the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1968.

Round 28, Jamaine Cotton, RHP, Western Oklahoma State College
Cotton, who hails from the U.S. Virgin Islands, won 10 games in 13 starts this past season.

Round 29, Luke Demko, RHP, University of Rhode Island
Demko struck out 44 batters in 33 innings pitched in 2009, earning 11 saves in the process. The 6-foot-7 closer is listed between 260 and 289 pounds.

Round 30, Craig Westcott, RHP, Belhaven College (Miss.)
In 2009 Westcott put up all the numbers desired of a pitching prospect. In 17 starts, he went 11-4 with a 3.29 ERA and threw seven complete games (five shutouts). He also fanned 124 batters in just 90 1/3 innings pitched. His task will be to do more of the same against fiercer competition.
Round 31, Diego Seastrunk, C, Rice University
The junior can definitely hit, a line-drive machine from both sides of the plate. And there's no doubt about his makeup and his knowledge of the game. He just goes about it the right way. The question, and it will ultimately determine his Draft status, is if he can catch well enough. If he can learn the position defensively, he could be an everyday backstop at the next level and would obviously create a lot of interest on Draft day.

Round 32, Luke Anders, 1B, Texas A&M University
The junior is 6'6", 225 lbs lefty hitter.

Round 33, Jake Dunning, RHP, Indiana University (Junior)

Round 34, Brandon Kirby, CF, Lake Wales High School (R/R)

Round 35, Brandon Graves, LHP, Valdosta State University (Senior)

Round 36, Ryan Scoma, RF, UC Davis (Senior; L/R)

Round 37, Ryan Lollis, RF, University of Missouri Columbia (Senior; L/L)

Round 38, Addison Proszek, RHP, Gonzaga University (Senior; R/R)

Round 39, Kyle Henson, C, University of Mississippi (Senior; R/R)

Round 40, Jonathan White, LF, Vanderbilt University (5th Year Senior; L/L)

Round 41, Gary Moran, RHP, Sonoma State University (Senior)

Round 42, Nicholas Schwaner, 3B, University of New Orleans (Junior; L/R)

Round 43, Matthew Jansen, LHP, Purdue University (Junior)

Round 44, Joseph Lewis, 1B, Pittsburg High School (L/R)

Round 45, Kyle Kramp, RHP, Westfield High School

Round 46, Juan Martinez, SS, Oral Roberts Univeristy (Senior; R/R)

Round 47, Michael Ness, RHP, Duke University (Junior)

Round 48, Randolph Oduber, LF, Western Oklamhoma State College (Junior; R/L)

Round 49, Austin Goolsby, C, Embry-Riddle University (Junior; R/R)

Round 50, Kaohi Downing, RHP, Point Loma Nazarene University (Senior)

Scouting Reports

As usual, the prospects drafted after the third round is not so easy to report on unless a highly thought up player has a hiccup season and drops in the draft. Last year, the Giants pounced on Roger Kieschnick and Brandon Crawford under such circumstances. This year, it's Jason Stoffel, who actually had a full scouting report on MLB.com:

Stoffel entered his junior season as perhaps the top college closer in the class, a guy who closed ahead of 2008 first-rounders Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth at Arizona in years past. But his stock took a hit for much of the spring season as he was more hittable than in the past. He simply hasn't been as sharp, particularly command-wise, and there was concern about his conditioning playing a part in that. His power arsenal out of the 'pen will certainly get drafted, but it seemed unlikely to be as highly as was once thought.

Strength: He's got a power arsenal well-suited for short relief work and he's got a track record of success in college.

Weaknesses: He seems to have taken a step backward in terms of his results, command and conditioning.

Fastball: Stoffel's velocity has been up and down this season. He's been as high as 96 mph in the past, was as low as 90-91 and has been in the 92-94 range in most outings.

Fastball movement: He'll throw an occasional two-seamer with sink. Most of his fastballs are four-seamers with a little tail.

Curve: He throws a hard, overhand power curve, 80-84 mph.

Poise: He's very stoic on the mound. He's laid back, but you can tell he's poised on the mound and has pitched in a ton of big games.
Stoffel sounds like a find in the fourth round, just sounds like he just had a bad year, as he was very good in previous years, and he's coming to the right organization to help him work out his kinks. If he signs quickly, the Giants might work him up and bring him up in September. Another power arm for our bullpen in the future.

Another player with a scouting report is RHP Matthew Graham:

Graham, truth be told, is a project. But he's one that someone might like to take on, because he's got plus raw arm strength and can crank it up to 95 mph at times. The problem is he can't repeat his delivery, so it's not consistent. Neither is his command, or any secondary offerings. The best thing might be to teach him a second pitch, like a slider, and make him a short reliever. It's something the University of North Carolina might do, and it might be tough for an MLB team to keep him from honoring that commitment.

Weaknesses: He's just a thrower and doesn't really know how to pitch. He can't command the baseball at all and his fastball is his only decent offering.
A total project but the Giants have not backed away from such projects in the past (like Erick Threets). I don't know what his interests are, but if he wants to make it as a pitcher, again, one of the better organizations to be in.

Another draftee with a full scouting report is OF Jonathan Walsh:

Walsh entered the year as one of the better high school catching prospects, but those who have seen him haven't been that impressed. He does have some ability with the bat from both sides of the plate. His defensive skills are lacking and he might need to move to first base when all is said and done. If that happens, then his bat will really have to carry him. A team will have to seriously believe in his offensive upside to sign him away from the University of Texas.
He's not that great a prospect, for hitting and power, so to draft him means the Giants think they can develop him as a catcher, as the description of him as a hitter is not impressive enough to put him at 1B.

Diego Seastrunk is the last prospect to have a full scouting report:

Seastrunk can definitely hit, a line-drive machine from both sides of the plate. And there's no doubt about his makeup and his knowledge of the game. He just goes about it the right way. The question, and it will ultimately determine his Draft status, is if he can catch well enough. If he can learn the position defensively, he could be an everyday backstop at the next level and would obviously create a lot of interest on Draft day.

Hitting Ability: Seastrunk can swing the bat well and is the same hitter from both sides of the plate. He has excellent pitch recognition, allowing him to take pitches others can't hold up on. He uses the entire field.

Strength: A real baseball player, he knows the game and plays it the right way. His makeup is off the charts -- he volunteered to move behind the plate this season. He has some hitting ability from both sides of the plate.
Being drafted so far back in the draft, it appears that none of the teams think he can catch well enough. Still, he appears to be a good hitter, so perhaps if he can develop, he can, if necessary, move off of catching to another defensive position. He previously played 3B and that is a position of need in our organization, though it should be noted that the Giants announced him as a catcher, so that should be his position to start with. Still, nothing says he can't move there at some point, the Giants are not shy about switching players around to other positions. And he appears to have suffered offensively switching to the catching position, as he hit .331 during this freshman and sophomore seasons, but only .288 with 7 HR and 45 RBI in 61 games last season.

Giant Thoughts

The Giants appeared to have focused on a lot of catching prospects in this draft (5 drafted in total plus one who was a catching last season but drafted as OF), as well as their usual assortment of pitchers. They also went for more position players, drafting 24 pitchers and 26 position players, as well as focusing on college players, with 10 high school prospects. They normally end up drafting many more pitchers than position player during prior drafts. But I am not sure about their propensity towards college, other than I don't think they leaned one way or the other previously (unlike, say, the A's, who normally focused on college players in prior drafts). Also, while 5 are catchers, there are enough question marks on their defense that catching might not be their eventual position.

Jason Stoffel was the most prominent of the picks in the remaining two days of the draft. He could conceivably join the Giants in September if he signs quickly enough and picks things up quickly. Other better prospects who fell back were RHP Matthew Graham, OF switch-hitter Jonathan Walsh (the former catcher), and switch-hitting C Diego Seastrunk (who might eventually shift to another position). There were a number of other prospects with videos when the draft began, but when I tried to go back to list them, they were gone.

Baseball America ranked the following players among their top 200 for the 2009 Draft:
  • #12: RHP Zack Wheeler (Giants 1st round pick, #6 overall)
  • #49: C Tommy Joseph (Giants 2nd round pick, #55 overall)
  • #62: RHP Jason Stoffel (Giants 4th round pick, #117 overall)
  • #85: 3B Chris Dominguez (Giants 3rd round pick, #86 overall)
  • #141: RHP Matt Graham (Giants 6th round pick, #177 overall)
Typically, the Giants tend to draft their players higher than the Baseball America rank. Did not happen that much this time, only Wheeler was drafted before he was expected.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Giants Tied for First in Wild Card Standings: This Is How We Do It, Baby!

Felt the need to acknowledge that the Giants are tied for first place (though alone in first in terms of winning percentage; they have played two less games than St. Louis) with their great win last night. Literally, Tim Lincecum, the Kid, did it all: he pitched a complete game shutout (5 PQS, natch) plus drove in the first run, the only run he ultimately needed.

And all that just goes to show what I've been writing about over the past couple of years. A pitcher can dominate any particular game and when you have a pitcher like Lincecum who can do that pretty regularly, around three quarters of the time, he's special. If you can build a rotation that is dominant up and down - not all Lincecums, obviously, but strongly dominant pitchers like Matt Cain has been or Jonathan Sanchez has done in spurts - then a pitching rotation can dominate a series, from game 1 to the last game.

In addition, a pitcher who can handle the bat can help himself out during a season. As my analysis showed, a pitcher who can hit like a replacement level hitter can theoretically add at least a couple of wins above .500 to their record, each year. And if a team can emphasize that - much like when Livan was challenging his fellow starters to hitting contests when he was with us - then they can add a few more wins to their seasonal totals without doing anything else to their roster. It can literally be the difference between a 81-81 .500 team and a 86 to 91 win team contending for the pennant and the playoffs.

Step One completed: Win Game 1. Go Giants! Beat the 's!

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Giants are 31-28: F cing the 's

The Giants ended their road trip with a disappointment, as they could have been 7-3 with a win and Sanchez, while wild, was effectively wild and only gave up 1 run in his 5 IP. Still, a 6-4 road trip with two series wins is always a good thing.

The Giants face the A's and, unfortunately, face their two best starters, in Mazzarro and Outman, but at least they miss the other two good starters, Braden and Cahill, and get to face Anderson too, who has been their worse starter, at least among those in the rotation now, as they have been moving a lot of starters into and out of the rotation to find one who would stick.

Game 1: Lincecum vs. Vin Mazzaro

Normally I would say that the Giants got this in the bag, but Vin Mazzaro has started his MLB career on a hot streak, with two straight impressive shutout performances. A non-heralded rookie prospect (at least I have never heard of him, though he is clearly good, he was A's #8 prospect according to Baseball America), he did very well in AAA thus far this season and carried it over into the majors. And he beat two strong offensive teams, the Chicago White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles.

I will have to say that this is a coin toss, as we have Lincecum but Mazzaro has been on a very good hot streak. The good news, relatively, is that he is not a strikeout pitcher, he's a groundball pitcher, and thus at some point the ground balls will start going through for hits, he can't keep his BABIP so low, as he has his first two games, he will soon regress to the mean; whether it is this game or in the future, though, is the question.

Game 2: Johnson vs. Josh Outman

Outman has been one of the A's nice developments this season, another not as heralded rookie prospects. He has put together a nice string of good to great starts since they put him in the rotation again, after he got knocked around his first two starts this season, and has a 3.17 ERA overall. After having 3 bad starts in 4, Outman has had 6 good starts, going 4-0 in 39 IP with 2.31 ERA, 28 K/14 BB, and only 24 hits and 2 HR. Both those latter stats are abnormally low but the Giants probably won't do anything to his HR rate.

Johnson has been up and down, so we don't really know who we will get in this start, but he had a nice string of three good starts before a relatively poor start in his latest start, which he did on only 3 days rest plus the 3 runs were flukey in that it was the result of a 3-run homer to a rookie. I would have to say that I expect the A's to win, but wouldn't be surprised if the Giants won, probably 60-40 odds, I would say. And I would give the nod to Johnson if it wasn't that Outman has been so consistently good starting for a good long stretch.

Game 3: Cain vs. Brett Anderson

Brett Anderson was one of the A's wonder prospects who were suppose to lead the pitching staff while their revamped offense kicked butt. Neither has really happened, as Anderson has been a disaapointment and the offense was crippled by injured and underperforming vets (not unlike the Giants of recent years; yet you hardly hear any complaints about the A's failures this season). Anderson, with a 5.25 ERA and recent bad starts look like a lamb going to slaughter going up against Matt Cain, who is quietly putting together a Cy Young caliber season.

Giants should win this one easily. The only good point about Anderson is that he has not been walking very many batters but, while not a strikeout pitcher, strike out enough for a nice 2.4 K/BB ratio this season, while his BABIP is a bit on the high side at .310, so it could be just a matter of time before he puts it all together and pitch well consistently. Hopefully not against us, but with Cain going strong, we should win.

Giants Thoughts

The Giants have been playing well at home, going 5-1 on their last homestand, and averaging nearly 5 runs per game in that stretch. And they averaged nearly 6 runs per game in the prior homestand, but only went 3-4 due to poor pitching. That plus our three best starters over the past month or so, should lead to a series win, 2-1, over the A's, but the A's always play the Giants tough, so I wouldn't be surprise if the Giants end up losing 1-2.

Hopefully Schierholtz can pump some needed energy into the Giants side of the equation. According to Andy Baggarly and Chris Haft, Nate Schierholtz was like me, growing up a big Giants fan living in the East Bay amongst A's fans, and this series is a big deal to him, he is looking forward to playing against the A's: "I definitely was always a Giants fan". The Giants of recent years don't appear to have that fire, so Schierholtz could get a flame going being on the team this year. Hopefully Bochy will start him in a couple of games, and give Lewis more rest, Lewis is looking horribly in recent games, like yesterday, and maybe Schierholtz can add to his MLB HR career totals (no pressure).

They will need all the help they can get, as the Giants haven't won a season series from the A's since 2001. But with the Giants three best starters going up against the A's, it is their best chance to try to break that streak. And the offense has been pretty good playing at home, of late, as noted above.

Go Giants, beat the 's sses! While a sweep is not likely, it would please me to no end if the Giants could sweep them after they clawed their way back to respectability with their recent 7 game win streak, and 8 of 10 games; a sweep would set them back pretty good mentally. And I would be happy with beating the A's anytime, as that would piss off their fans greatly, but to do that now after the only good thing that has happened to the A's this season (i.e. the win streak), would be sweet.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Giants Other 2009 Draftees: First Day

This draft is different in that only three rounds were done the first day. The Giants only had two other picks (did not pick up any free agent compensation picks), the 55th and the 86th.

Giants Select C Thomas Joseph With 55th Pick

The Giants 2nd round pick, the 55th pick overall, was Tommy Joseph, high school catcher. According to the MLB description, he is quite the offensive find, though positionally he's a question mark at the moment:
In a deep class of prep catchers, Joseph hasn't gotten a ton of love, though his bat has been making more than enough noise. He's got serious offensive ability with light-tower raw power. He's more of a question mark behind the plate. He's got an above-average arm, but this was the first season he's caught and he lacks overall quickness. His bat likely will play anywhere, but if a team feels he can catch, he could sneak into the first couple of rounds.

So basically he's another EME, Pablo Sandoval, or Jesus Guzman, defensively challenged and looking for a place to play. According to the description above, this means that the Giants think that he could be a catcher, but with Posey looking to hold that position for the long-term future, I have to think that he's going to play 1B or perhaps LF, he has a great arm but no speed to mention, so 1B appears to be his best position to play.
His strengths:
Excellent bat with plenty of power, both now and in the future. Above-average arm could play behind the plate.
And that seems to be his key pluses, his ability to hit and his power:
Joseph destroys below-average pitching and really turns it up a notch against better competition. He can use the entire field. Has light-tower power to the pull side and shows it off in workouts. He should have plenty of power to all fields.
But his main weakness is his inexperience behind the plate:
This year is the first he's caught full-time after DH-ing and playing first base for most of his high school career. He does have some work to do defensively. Because he hasn't spent much time behind the plate, it left some to wonder if he can stay back there, especially considering his size (6'1"; 210 lbs) and lack of quickness.

Here is an interesting sidenote: he was a former teammate of Tim Alderson. I guess that is when the Giants found him and got interested in him.

The Giants just missed on a couple of players I thought they might draft. SS Mychal Givens, who had been linked to the Giants in a few of the rumors I had read, was selected just before Joseph, with the 54th pick. I was also hoping that they might select 1B Richard Poythress, but he was grabbed with the 51st pick, who has a lot of power too, and would have been closer to the majors since he's a junior in college.

In addition, Tanner Scheppers almost fell to us, he was selected with the 44th pick. Another who I saw some speculate that perhaps the Giants might select, was CF Kentrail Davis, who was selected with the 39th pick. And the one I was hoping to fall to us, but he got selected around where people were guessing, was Matt Davidson, selected with the 35th pick by Arizona.

Giants Select 3B Christopher Dominguez With 86th Pick

The MLB has nothing on him, other than that he is a senior with the University of Louisville. My research yielded that he repeated as Big East Player of the Year in 2009, only the second player in Big East history to repeat. He led his team, Louisville U, to its best record in school history, 40-14, capturing the Big East regular season title for the first time (I like this!). He finished the season with 21 HR, 75 RBI, and 17 SB, leading his team in each category, and he led the Big East in Total Bases with 158 and was second in HR, RBI and SLG, which was .721, and he hit .345/.441/.696/1.137 in total, regular season and playoffs. However, with 23 errors, I'm not sure if 3B is in his future.

Here is some personal info from his sport bio at school:
Born 11/22/86 in Los Angeles to Lazaro and Maria Dominguez. He is considering business as his major. Has one brother, Lazaro Jr. Would like to play pro ball after college. His family is his greatest influence on him. Major League, Cinderella Man and Men of Honor are his favorite movies. Likes to watch Baseball Tonight and Cribs on the tube. His favorite athletes are Bruce Lee and A-Rod. Mariners, Marlins and Yankees are his favorite teams.
I guess he will now have a new favorite team, the Giants.

He was highly touted by Baseball America when he came out of high school, as they rated him the top prep 3B and #11 overall prospect. And he was named as one of the 30 semifinalists for the 2009 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award (but did not make the final 5).

Like Joseph, he has special power, "light tower power" according to one site that I read.
OK, he did have a draft report on him FROM LAST SEASON, as apparently his star dimmed between the seasons, despite how well he did this season. It confirms that he got "plus raw power" but "has been very inconsistent with his overall hitting ability." According to this report, he moves pretty well in the infield and should be fine fielding at 3B, including having a plus arm. His strengths are his plus raw power and arm strength, but his weakness is that, while he's capable of doing a lot of things well, he does few of them consistently. His summary:
One of the bigger enigmas in the Draft class, Dominguez is eligible as a sophomore after red-shirting his freshman year back in 2006. Healthy now, he's been an impact player at the college level this season, but his performance has been extremely inconsistent. He'll look outclassed one moment and in a league of his own the next, leaving many a scout to scratch his head. Still, his size, strength, athleticism and potential all should pique someone's interest early enough.


Giants Thoughts

Like most prospects not drafted at the top of the draft, both are a work in progress with their main positives being their raw power and their arms. Looks like the Giants are trying to stock up with some potential middle lineup guys with these two picks.

I like both picks. Both have plus power, and look like they have a chance to develop and maybe make something out of themselves. As my draft study showed, the odds of such prospects becoming good players is slim - less than 5% of the picks studied made it - but their raw plus power is a strength that is missing from our farm system for the most part, a crying shame given the Giants history with Roger Connor, Mel Ott, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Jeff Kent, and Barry Bonds. The main power guys in our system right now are Roger Kieschnick and Angel Villalona, though Bowker has been blasting them out in AAA this season.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

2009 Giants Are 29-27: D-Backs are Back

Sorry I didn't cover the Marlin's series, but my internet access was not available on Thursday. The Giants are 4-3 on this trip, and could have been at least 5-2 if not better. And it will be tough winning the series against the D-backs.

Game 1: Cain vs. Billy Buckner

Should be like taking candy from a baby, Buckner has a high ERA, but he has actually had 2 good starts vs. 1 bad start. The good news is that he hasn't actually pitched that well at home and we are playing in Arizona this series. Should be a cakewalk, Cain has been dominant this season, hence his 7-1 record.

Game 2: Zito vs. Doug Davis

Both Zito and Davis have been pitching well this season. And Davis has been particularly good at home this season, while Zito has been relatively bad on the road this season. But he has actually had more good starts than bad on the road this season, especially after he turned things around after his second start. About even, but probably lose.

Game 3: Sanchez vs. Max Scherzer

Both pitchers are alternatively dominating and dominated. Strikes out a lot and walk a lot. Scherzer has pitched better than Sanchez overall this season, but Scherzer has also been absolutely horrible at home in 5 starts, 25+ IP, with a 7.46 ERA, plus lefties hit him harder than righties, and we have a number of lefty hitters who would like to feast on him. Then again, that balances his great pitching at home last season. About even, though Scherzer has been bad in all but one start at home, but Sanchez has been bad in Arizona before. Should be a wild high scoring game, coin flip on who wins.

Giants Thoughts

The Giants need to come out of this road trip with at least 6 wins, which means that they need to win this series, 2 out of 3. Looks to be tough to do, but possible. Else they end the road trip with a 5-5 record, which would be a disappointment, these were very beatable teams. However, the offense has not risen to the challenge, nor has the pitching.

Rowand's hitting streak ended with yesterday's game, at 17. Funny, just before he started his streak, many fans were calling for his head (again) and suggesting trades that would dump his salary. Now he's hitting nearly 900 OPS and not a peep from anyone. This is the Rowand when things are going well. This Rowand is totally worth the contract the Giants gave him. And he had earned the contract given him in 3 of the 4 prior seasons before the Giants signed him, looking at Fangraphs value calcuations.

Hopefully he can start another hit streak against the D-backs. Plus, this is a hitter's park, so the offense should be perked up this series, especially facing Buckner and Scherzer, both of whom had not done well at home this season, for the most part. The offense still has a lot to prove, and less time to prove it.

My thoughts go out to Travis Ishikawa, who will go on bereavement leave this series to attend his grandfather's funeral.

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