Friday, March 26, 2010

2010 Spring Transaction Lines: Extensions and Trade

Lots of news and further cuts.

Extensions

The big news is the extensions for Brian Wilson (2 years, $15M) and Jeremey Affeldt (bump up $500K this year, contract for $4.5M in 2011 plus $5M option for 2012 or $500K buyout). The key phrases are cost certainty (Wilson) and holding on to a good player (Affeldt's contract would have been over this season). The worry is that this would make it harder for the Giants to sign the hitter people think the Giants need.

People still worry about the lineup, but as I've been saying for a long while now is that a team built on pitching and fielding excellence - not goodness, but excellence - don't need much of a lineup to win with it. With Sandoval at cleanup (finally) in 2011, and Posey hitting 3rd, we basically only need average type hitters like Schierholt, Rowand, Sanchez, DeRosa filling up the lineup in order to win with our pitching and defense.

Plus, looking over the spreadsheet that Lefty provided, we got 9 players costing around $80-85M, leaving 16 at roughly $400K, pushing it to $85-90M. That leaves roughly $10-15M if they bump to $100M budget, which with a better economy and fast growth from MLBAM should be doable, which could get a good hitter if one happens to be available.

And at some point, we have to take the leap of faith that Neukom will come through with the money as he says he would if Sabean makes the baseball case to boost the payroll beyond the normal range. I'm hoping he has sugar daddies whose pockets he can dip into when the time comes.

Frandsen Traded

Frandsen has been traded (Baggs, Hank, Haft) to the Boston Red Sox for a PTBNL or future cash. Hopefully we get a player, as I still think Frandsen could have done something, but it'll probably be cash. The good news for him is that he'll be with his good buddy, Dusty Pedroia, who he has worked out with for the past 6 off-seasons. And the Red Sox, while apparently doing it out of need as Pedroia is having wrist problems right now, wouldn't have gotten him if they didn't think that he couldn't be a good backup guy, and who knows, maybe give Frandsen a chance too, since there is a DH there as well.

Too bad. As I had ruminated somewhere, Frandsen's window of opportunity was the 2008 season and he blew it when he blew out his Achillies tendon. With Sanchez signed for two years and Noonan possibly ready by the end of that contract, plus Crawford and Burriss could be ready by 2011, and Rohlinger already annointed the next Greg Linton/Steve Scarsone, there was no spot for Frandsen anywhere, and he apparently rubbed Giants management the wrong way with his behavior previously.

Still, I think he can be a usable major leaguer. He hit well all the way up the minors - not great but good for each level - and he hit well in the majors the one time they started him regularly and gave him an extended opportunity (late 2007 season). His low strikeout rate and his walk to strikeout ratio was very good, indicative of a prospect who could hit in the majors. He appears to have a good baseball mind and reminds me a bit of Pete Rose toughness, the average type player with no obvious plus skill (except for the subtle bat discipline) but is fine is all aspects.

And those are the players that the Red Sox (and Padres and A's) like to pick up, the guys who hit well in the minors but were never given a real chance to show what they got in the majors. Hopefully Frandsen will get some sort of chance with the Red Sox.

Wellemeyer Pretty Much Annointed 5th Starter

It was reported a few days ago that Bumgarner has been sent down, leaving just Todd Wellemeyer and Kevin Pucetas battling for the 5th starter spot, but as noted by a number of sources (like Hank) Bochy has all but named Wellemeyer the 5th starter. Pucetas has done very well but when battling against a veteran who is not that old and had done well previously, he pretty much would have had to almost no-hit every appearance and strike out a ton of batters to beat out Wellemeyer when Wellemeyer has done as well as he has with a 1.35 ERA this spring.

Plus, Pucetas did not do well at all in AAA last year. Many a pitcher has had a great spring training and then sucked once he pitched in the majors. So there is no guarantee that he would have well had he won the 5th starter spot. Not that Wellemeyer is a guarantee, but when a player has done it before, it raises the odds greatly that he can do it again if pitching well. So Pucetas is looking at either the long-man role, which would not be necessary if the 5th starter isn't starting, or starting in AAA.

This is where the Frandsen story intersects with this story: Wellemeyer is a non-roster invitee and the Giants need to clear a spot on the roster to include him on the 25 man roster. And as I noted before, to open up a spot would mean dropping someone of value, it would be a cut that hurts at least a little. Frandsen being traded clears a spot.

Coincidentally, most of the reports about Frandsen opening up a spot also pointed out that the Giants might need two spots, one for Wellemeyer and one for Mota. So it looks like Mota is closing in on a middle reliever spot in the bullpen.

Wilson Bringing Out his Curveball, Finally

As Hank Schulman blogged, Brian Wilson, emboldened by (or perhaps felt the responsibility with) his new contract and status, brought out his curveball recently in a game. His curveball, which has been missing during his Giants career, was considered one of his plus pitches when he was drafted by the Giants. With him recovering from TJS when he was drafted, I guess he laid off the curveball (or was told to), plus he saw that TV show where Mariano Duncan showed off his cutter and he fell in love with it, thinking he can be like Duncan and just throw one pitch.

Good. That's a sign of a great player. He has great stuff, 100 MPH capable fastball, good cutter, good slider, and now he's bringing back his curveball, like Lincecum when he added a changeup last season, adding on a new pitch even though he was doing very well with what he already had.

This is unlike Rowand, who signs a huge contract with us but then takes two years to figure out that he should start working out in the off-season and getting into shape for playing the whole regular season. All I can say about that is that at least he is doing it now, when we have the chance to do something to get into the playoffs and maybe go deep into it with the pitching we have.

Luckily, we didn't need his bat that much the past two seasons, though it would have been nice last season as that could have gotten us to the playoffs and given us some playoff experience. But I'm not sure how far we could have gotten last year with the lineup we had. I think we should have a much better chance this season, particularly if we will be able to carry Buster Posey on the bench or starting during the playoffs.

Additional Cuts

Rotoworld.com reported that the Giants optioned Darren Ford to AA Richmond Flying Squirrels and Francisco Peguero to Augusta, plus sent Jesus Guzman and Tony Armas to minor league camp for assignment.

Ford has been the eye-opener this spring, hitting, fielding, and running his way into the hearts of Giants fans. Unfortunately, he's already 24 years old, having spent 3 seasons in Advance A-ball, so he's too old to be considered a good prospect, but if he does well in AA this year, and AAA next year, he would only be 26 years old in 2012 if he makes the majors.

People worry too much about whether a prospect is a good player or not. I mean, of course, we all want that, but we also forget that every team needs their OK players who can play OK at a position for us, while our good players lead the way to the pennant. While I wouldn't mind having a good player at every position, I know that's not realistic either, and if Ford can be a nice leadoff hitter who plays great defense in our enormous CF at AT&T Park, that would be a great and more importantly CHEAP addition to the team.

So, so what if he's old for a level, if he's showing something in spring training, that means he has something that is good enough, and maybe he can do well in AA, then AAA, then the majors.

The guy to look at long-term at CF, though, is apparently Francisco Peguero. The Giants really like him, just added him to their 40 man roster this off-season, and Baseball America ranked him 10th among Giants prospects for 2010. He'll be 22 this June, so he's getting a little old to be a good prospect at Augusta, but if he continues hitting like he did last season, he should move up to San Jose by mid-season. He's got some good speed, plus arm, so he's great defensively in CF, is usually able to put the bat on the ball (though like many, unable to take a walk), but that is OK if he is hitting to get on base (.304 career BA).

6 comments:

  1. Hey OGC,

    Pucetas was outstanding in the first 4 months at Fresno last year(probably a Top 5 starter in the league at that point) and he claims his conditioning was a problem in August. Consider that he pitched in Arizona Fall League in 2008 also and that he skipped AA Connecticut altogether and maybe he should be cut some slack. Check his stats and awards at milb.com - up until that last month he had basically done everything they asked of him and won almost every award he possibly could have, from SAL starter of year, Single A Outstanding pitcher of the year, CAL League Pitcher of the Year, it just goes on and on and on. Not too bad for a 17th rounder out of Limestone College.
    I dont advocate that he gets the 5th starter spot over Wellemeyer as that doesn't make much sense but i think he may be a little bit better of a prospect than most SFG fans give him credit for. Supposedly has great vertical movement on the fastball.

    btw, good blog.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think your facts are wrong. According to ESPN, Peguero was optioned to San Jose.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for your comments. Last in first: I was just reporting what Rotoworld said that Peguero was going. I should have mentioned that he played in Augusta and raked there, so that was odd that he was going back, plus BA thought he would end up in San Jose. Thanks for pointing out what ESPN reported.

    About Pucetas, I would note that I was his adopted parent on McCovey Chronicles for two years, so I know what Pucetas has done. While it is not easy to have done what Pucetas has done in the minors, neither does that mean that he will necessarily do well in the majors. When I said that he did not do well, I was mainly referencing what I noted before, that his K/9 is very low.

    Pitchers who do not strike out a lot of batters can dominate in the minors but then end up being batting practice in the majors. You don't really know what they are capable of until they rise to every level and make the majors.

    Because he has done what he has done in Augusta and San Jose, I think that he can eventually be at least an OK starter in the majors. But 2009 was a disappointment compared to what he did before. As a pitcher who does not strike out a lot of batters, any stumbles along the way up the minors is a big disappointment.

    But your points are valid. He did skip a level and he did extra innings in 2008 because of the AFL. However, he pitched about the same number of innings in 2007 as 2008 if you add in the AFL, because he pitched less innings in 2008 at San Jose (not sure why, injury in June/July it appears). And 2009 was not that much more than what he did in 2007 and 2008.

    If his conditioning went out in August (and from the stats, it looks more like it went out in July), then that is on him, unfortunately (though I would not blame him entirely since the Giants don't pay minor leaguers enough so that they can work out and condition for the next season). Particularly since he is a big body person, if I remember right.

    The thing is, he was 24 last season, meaning that the previous two years that he dominated, he was dominating guys who were mostly younger and less experienced than he was, he as a little old for those leagues to be a good prospect, but because he dominated so much, that made him more of a prospect to consider.

    And don't get me wrong, I like Pucetas, and if Wellemeyer didn't do so well, I would have been pushing for Pucetas to the be the 5th starter (I was suggesting that he be the 5th instead of Bumgarner this season, even after Wellemeyer was signed, because Wellemeyer was not that good overall the past two seasons, FIP-wise; I tip my hat off to Wellemeyer, he got his velocity back and he did well, he earned it).

    And I still like Pucetas, only I don't know where he's going to fit in. Once Bumgarner joins the rotation, then we got Lincecum, Zito, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner in the rotation. The only way he gets in is if we trade one of them. Not that the Giants won't do that, but with a rotation like that, I would be tempted to run with it and see what happens.

    Lastly, thanks, I try, much appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Exciting news: According to Hank Schulman and Andy Baggarly, the Giants might be working on a Matt Cain extension as well, reworking his 2011 option deal and buying out his free-agent year(s).

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/03/27/SPO61CM29P.DTL&feed=rss.giants

    http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_14767626?nclick_check=1

    Baggarly's account also notes Peguero going to San Jose.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Schulman has a nice 25-man roster-bation in his blog: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/giants/detail?blogid=22&entry_id=60051

    Good stuff, give it a read, makes a lot of sense overall, plus he covers where he could go wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Just saw Chris Haft's Cain account, notes that it would be good since Lincecum's would be up around then too.

    http://chrishaft.mlblogs.com/archives/2010/03/rf_up_for_grabs_long_look_for.html

    That, and I think Baggarly's account also notes that Schierholtz is no longer the starting RF for sure, due to Bowker's superior hitting thus far.

    ReplyDelete

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