Friday, January 22, 2010

Molina Teleconference and Sanchez Shoulder Surgery

Molina has been officially signed by the Giants and there was a press conference earlier today. Reports from Baggarly's blog (and his news account) and John Shea of the Chronicle. Here are key points covered, including the surprising news that came out of a KNBR interview last night with Bruce Bochy, where he casually noted that Freddy Sanchez had shoulder surgery about a month ago and is on the bubble for making the start of the season.
  • Molina is officially a Giant, signing a $4.5M contract. Bengie noted that the Mets never offered a multi-year contract, else he probably would have took it, and only offered him a $5.0M contract (my note: most reports had it at $5.5M), so he decided that he would rather be where he was comfortable than get $500K more (my note: but apparently did not mention the $1.5M option that he could earn that most sources reported). He also said that he expects the Giants to be making the playoffs, unlike the Mets. He believes the Giants are "very, very close" to making something special happen.
  • Nice quote: "The plan is to move him down in the lineup, possibly sixth. "I never considered myself a fourth hitter. I thought I was doing them a favor," said Molina, adding he'll bat wherever manager Bruce Bochy wants him. "I can hit behind the pitcher if he wants me there."
  • Molina said he texted Posey and assured him that he wasn't there to take his job (though probably he did, unless the Giants signed another starting catcher) and offered to be there for him for anything. Posey then called back and they chatted. Sabean reiterated that Posey needed more seasoning in the minors, though he didn't rule out Posey starting the season as the backup catcher. Bu the expectation is that he'll get to start everyday in AAA and continue his learning with Steve Decker (former Giants catcher) who is now Fresno's manager (moving up the farm system). Baggarly noted that it's possible he will receive a promotion at some point this season. Molina said, "I said I'm happy to help out with whatever he needs. If they want to bring him up and do their thing, hey, I understand."
  • Sanchez had left shoulder surgery on December 23rd. The Giants Dr. Akizuki, who is on their staff, repaired a torn labrum and cleaned up an arthritic AC joint arthroscopically. Apparently the Giants did 4 MRIs on him before signing him, but like the medical shows, missed the torn labrum, which went unnoticed until Sanchez started swinging a bat again. He is expected to be out 10-12 weeks, meaning that Opening Day is in doubt, but the expectation is that he'll be 100% once he does take the field. I can understand the mistake, but when so many of them are being made, it makes you wonder what is going on with our training staff. The good news is that Sanchez is working his butt off to make opening day and it is encouraging thus far.
  • Juan Uribe is our starting 2B until Sanchez gets back. That's why we signed him, insurance in case some regular is unable to start or needs a rest. I was hoping the Giants might play DeRosa there instead and let two young players start in the OF, but I can see the merits of keeping DeRosa out in LF since he doesn't have the most experience out there (though over a season's worth of games in the OF).
  • They reported that both Burriss and Renteria were doing well. Renteria told the Giants that he's excited about where he's at. Hopefully that will translate to his hitting like he did when he was a plus hitter, that would be a boon to our offense.
  • The Giants DFAed Jesus Guzman to clear space for Molina. Sabean noted that any other acquisitions would come on minor league contracts with invitations to spring training, including additional right-handed relievers.
Giants Thoughts

Unlike many others, I have no problem with the signing, particularly since it would give Posey more time to get more experience in the minors. It should also give us one more year of control over him, plus the learning he would have done in 2010 would have costed us one year of control, while now he will get some of that learning in AAA before hopefully getting called up in July or August (or even September), and getting to play a little backing up Bengie plus learning from Molina.

I'm upset about Sanchez but I'll get over it (unlike others). He should only be out for two weeks, and that should not kill our chances of winning while he is out, because Uribe is a good enough replacement. Hey, one year Schmidt was out until May, and we came back and started winning and had a good year. As long as we don't fall too far behind while he is out, we should be OK.

Still, something has got to be done about the training staff, we seem to have all these unknown medical conditions that creep up on us, starting around when Bonds knee that was suppose to keep him out for a little while instead kept him out almost all season.

Guzman: hey, thanks for the excitement you gave us for a little while, good luck.

7 comments:

  1. Alfonzo's back, Dave Roberts' chronic ailments, Ray Durham, fatty Molina passing his physical, diabetic issues with Jerome Williams, FSanchez, Lowry's rib and arm ailments, Bonds' knee infection, and even Trevor Wilson's botched surgery are probably in the "sh*t happens" category considering the sample size.

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  2. Labrum surgery is actually not as simple as some people think. I have gone through labrum surgery myself and can tell you first hand that it can result in a very finicky surgery. I've also read that it has one of the lowest percentage of successful returns for (Tommy John is much more successful). It does bode well that he doesnt pitch (obviously) and is only playing second as opposed to across the diamond. Last note... labrum tears are extremely hard to identify via MRI. They usually have to go in arthroscopically to see what's going on because the tear just doesnt show up.

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  3. Thanks for the informed comment Rory!

    Your comment got me looking for info on-line.

    I found some info that supports what Rory says, like this one: http://mariners.scout.com/2/422181.html

    Says "labrum surgery is much more difficult to diagnose... The only way to properly diagnose a labrum tear is to perform exploratory surgery... "

    "But the list of successful returns of major league stars to the mound grows every season. ... A.J. Burnett ... Rafael Soriano ... But the labrum surgery has yet to become a part of the medical marvels as its fellow surgeries have done. The labrum cannot be rebuilt, is terriby complex to diagnose and just as difficult to avoid."

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18469567

    This one can be interpreted positively regarding his return. This study looked at 42 MLB pitchers with labrum surgery. The conclusion was that "most pitchers who were able to return to competition after surgery showed insignificant changes in ERA and WHIP and significant decreases in IP." That means that they could return to their former level of rate production, but they could not keep it up for as long.

    That's a problem for starting pitchers, but not as big a problem for relief pitchers, which those authors noted. Thus, to my thinking, even smaller problem still for a 2B who throws even less than a relief pitcher would during a game.

    OK, so, as Anon noted above, maybe stuff happens sometimes, and apparently this labrum tear miss is one of them. I would also throw out there Scott Eyre's undiagnosed attention deficit disorder, the number of players who needed glasses but didn't get them until they were doing poorly for a while, and the lack of support for prospects while in the minor leagues: their per diem limits them to cheap takeout or fastfoods, there is no nutritional assistance, and I would bet that there is no physical trainer help, as I recall there was a special training session for top prospects in the first offseason when Neukom took over, which implies that there is no training during the season.

    Why not give that to everyone, it is not like the top prospects are guaranteed to make the majors (vast majority even fail to even reach the majors), perhaps with greater support in the minors, more of the back end of the draft might start making the majors with greater frequency?

    And how much would it really cost the Giants to institute such reforms in the minor league system? And without these other players, their top prospects would not get the experience they need to develop, they (all teams) owe these players for devoting their lives for a number of years that enables the starting players to eventually make the majors.

    And all the better if it helps some of them to get their official baseball card when without support, it wouldn't have happened. Plus maybe Sandoval would have handled his weight situation long ago instead of waiting until now and perhaps shortening his career due to weight problems.

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  4. That ADD thing with Eyre (and the other 60 or so players who claim to suffer from it) is a scam. It is their way to get Addoral, Ritalin, Dextroamphetamine, Concerta. i.e. performance enhancing amphetamines. Usually the fringe players.

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  5. Anonymous, you're a dork. ADD is very common in this world. Watch out for Scott Eyre's 150mph fastball!

    OGC, I've read somewhere else that same thing about the per diem - and in this day and age, no physical trainer? I know they can't chase the players around watching what they eat, but such simple things as having some oversight and (haha) checking their sight seems pretty damn obvious.

    I haven't read deeply about Sandoval, but I have read about our lost (alleged) gun-toting prospect - loved those fast food burgers. One has to remember these are kids - I was living on pizza and beer at 22. Fine if you live a normal life, but their window is pretty small.

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  6. Did not say that ADD was not real, just that the disproportionate number of MLB "sufferers" is questionable.

    Over twice the national average.

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  7. Well, Anon, ADD might be disproportionate to the overall population, but have you considered that the MLB have professional trainers and doctors that these athletes have ready access to, while most regular folks would just suffer with ADD unknowingly until something makes them get it checked out?

    Also, do you know what amphetamines do? They don't make you better, per se, but they do allow you to be at your best all season long. Eyre's stats went up noticeably immediately, it was not a gradual thing, which would be true if his boost was only due to getting amphetamines, as the effects would only show up later in the season when you are "fresh" while non-users suffered typical fatigue. That is why I included Eyre in the list, his stats went up significantly once he went on it, which is not the effect one would get if it was simply a "speed" induced gain.
    Lastly, just because many major leaguers might be abusing it does not mean that Eyre was, you have to examine each case separately instead of throwing everyone under the bus.

    Marc, I read the exact per diem info on Garrett Broshius's personal blog (Giants prospect) - I should include it on my list - plus have seen it mentioned here and there elsewhere.

    I assume as much about a physical trainer, else why have a special session last off-season for their top prospects? And why is Pablo working so hard this off-season, if there was a physical trainer with each team, he probably would have been working to keep his weight off for a long time now, he is an amazingly focused athlete, dedicated to getting better, just he didn't know the right things to do plus didn't get any guidance.

    We were lucky with him, his weight didn't get in the way of him reaching his potential but what about those who gain too much early on and could have been another Sandoval but just got too fat? What about Villalona, he was especially vulnerable, given all the money he had plus the weighty issue from the get-go as well (I assume Sandoval has been like this too since we got him).

    Maybe if the Giants were working with prospects early on Jerome Williams would not have eatten his way out of the majors and we might have a greater rotation with him in it, or perhaps he could have been traded away by now for a big cache of prospects instead of losing Aardsma too for a declining Latroy Hawkins.

    And it is not just Villalona, with the small per-diem plus young men out on their own for the first time, particularly those in the U.S. for the first time, as you note, they would live on pizza and beer, any local fast-food, and they won't be eatting Subway's veggie sandwiches.

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