Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Unbelievable! DeRosa's Wrist Surgery "Total Failure" But Risk Mitigation Key

According to reports from sfgiant.com and Extra Baggs, Mark DeRosa reinjured his wrist again, possibly a few weeks ago when Adam Wainwright hit him with pitches, possibly reaggravating it with "countless extra rounds of batting practice" as DeRosa worked to get his batting stroke back  In any case, an MRI showed that his ligaments were "flapping all over the place again".  He is not sure if surgery is best now or after the season is over.

Giants Thoughts

This is a recurring theme that I've been writing about for a while:  somehow the training staff is missing stuff like DeRosa's, Freddie Sanchez's injuries, Pablo Sandoval's poor vision, Edgar Renteria's elbow, Dave Roberts numerous injuries, Barry Bonds' knee, Noah Lowry's problems (which his agent said they might sue the Giants over, but so far no legal action), Edgardo Alfonzo's back problems, etc.

I understand calculated risks concerning players recovering from injuries, and perhaps the Giants have had a bad streak lately, but still, there have been a lot of problems the Giants have been having with injured players. And so I think it is OK to question what the training staff is doing.  It gets a lot of praise in the press and from the team, but the Giants have been missing a lot of problems with free agents as well as players on the team.  That is a huge dichotomy that needs to be explained to the fans.

Risk Mitigation At Work

Luckily, planning mitigates this problem.  The theme this season is taking risks on veteran players with question marks while having prospects who could be close to figuring things out.  DeRosa is definitely resting this series against the 'Dres and is pondering whether to operate now in order to be sure he will be ready for the 2011 season or play with the injury, which he was able to do, but not satisfactorily, in my opinion, last season for the Cards.

I think they should operate and get past all the possible obstacles to get him ready for the 2011 season, particularly since continuing to play would only yield a subpar DeRosa at best.  I prefer trying to get a fully functional DeRosa for the 2011 season than to struggle with a subpar DeRosa in 2010, then try to operate again and maybe have a subpar DeRosa in 2011 as well.  If they do it now, they hopefully can catch any other problems along the way and make sure that he's ready and healthy to play at 100% for the 2011 season.

Meanwhile, should he be out for the season, we have Bowker who actually has been hitting well lately.  And it appears that he would platoon with Torres in LF, should DeRosa be out for the season.   The two together should be effective in LF, as Bowker hits RHP better and Torres rakes against LHP.  And both have been good defensively in the OF.

And that theme of risk mitigation has recurred over and over again this season, unfortunately.  First Sanchez out until who knows when, but Uribe has been great in his stead.  Then there was Rowand out, and that was the one position we did not have a ready replacement for (at least in my opinion, I've never been a Velez fan, and he unfortunately did what I thought he would), so we struggled while he was out.  Renteria was next and that moved Uribe to SS and allowed Downs to start regularly.  And now DeRosa looks to be out and Bowker is there to try to pick it up in his stead.

Risk Mitigation Has Worked So Far

And that has worked for the most part this season.  The offense has been regularly churning out runs, except for that first week trying to figure out who would take over for Rowand.  They have averaged 4.67 runs scored per game for the season.  And if you take out that bad 7 game stretch while they struggled without him, the team has averaged 5.61 runs scored when the offense was working.

People may not like signing all these players because of the risks, but by getting all these vets, the Giants have a lot of players who they can mix and match in order to keep the offense running.  And that has worked despite all the various players going on the DL and the injuries that don't DL but certainly hampers things.  If they did not sign these players, Bowker's failure to start the season well could have killed the offense, as well as Sanchez and Renteria being on the DL, and now we will see how it works with DeRosa's injury.  And Molina sustaining his injury, should he need the DL, would have had Posey come up.

Young players will not produce for sure.  Even the best ones can end up struggling to figure out major league pitching.  Vets are a better bet overall, but you risk age-related injuries and performance declines.  By having the vets as the starters but young players as backup, as well as other backups (like Uribe), you reduce the risk that any one particular injury would hamper your team's offense.

But Depth Only Goes So Far

But you can only have so much depth.  No team can provide multiple levels of coverage, other than the Yankees and maybe Boston and the Mets.  So the Giants have been stretched thin with all the players on the DL, and it will be tested severely if DeRosa is declared out and Bowker is the starter for sure in LF, though platooning with Torres.

Unfortunately, a lot of the young prospects who might be considered for the jump to the majors from AA have not been hitting well.  In AAA, two of the three (Downs and Rohlinger) are up now and Posey has been declared not ready for the majors by Sabean recently.

There is also Joe Borchard, as a commenter noted, but he is 31 years old, plays corner OF so far, so perhaps he can be given the call-up, except he's not on our 40 man and we have no open slots so we would lose someone, and he is not hitting so well that he will be sure to do well in the majors.  31 year olds are suppose to hit that well, he is a classic AAAA player.  And the last time he was considered a good prospect was in 2003.

The only other hitter of note in the farm system close enough to maybe consider is Brandon Belt, but he's only in Advanced A San Jose and he only plays 1B where Huff has been doing well for us.  He should be promoted to AA Richmond soon, within the next month, since he has been absolutely hot for the Little Giants.  If he can continue to hit, he could be up with the Giants by late 2011 or be the starter in 2012 at 1B. He is left-handed and skilled defensively at 1B too.  And he did not strike out that much in San Jose and walked a lot, so that bodes well for him doing well in AA when he gets the promotion.

So the Giants are stretched thin now, particularly if DeRosa goes on the DL before Sanchez rejoins the team. They have pushed it to the limits so far.  And now we will need Bowker to start hitting, but the silver lining is that even if he doesn't hit, neither has DeRosa, and the team has been scoring runs pretty easily despite that, so perhaps with no pressure to produce, unlike the pressure he probably felt when he was starting in RF to start the season, he might relax and show us the hitter he was in AAA last season.

I would really like to see Bowker get most of the starts in LF while DeRosa is out, whether resting or DLed.  I wanted to see Bowker get to start in 2010 anyway, but did like the DeRosa signing if he was the hitter he is when he is healthy.  That is a sure upgrade if he's healthy and he can play multiple positions well.  But you have to take some risks, and now we at least have Bowker in reserve.  Now we need him to deliver some extra unexpected offense.

19 comments:

  1. I think that this is totally believable. DeRosa hasn't looked right all year and the Giants track record with injured players is not great as of late.

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  2. Great signings by Sabean rushing out to give multi-year contracts to Derosa & Sanchez who have contributed nothing to this team and probably will not for siome time to come.

    Well done, Sabes! Give that man another 2 year extension.

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  3. I agree Boof, I think Sabean does deserve another 2 year extension, on that we agree! :^p

    I knew this post would drag in comments like this, but I think the training staff has fallen down on the job many times before so I had to post this.

    Sabean is the person responsible for putting together the 18-13 team so far, plus putting together the great pitching rotation and bullpen.

    If you want perfection, you are in the wrong sport.

    Or rather, if you want perfection, then you will get the manager you deserve: someone afraid to do anything because if you don't risk something you won't attain overall greatness. Perfection means that you aren't trying hard enough.

    And the funny thing is that a lot of the people complaining about Sabean over the past 5 years said that he should be evaluated by the team's performance and if they are losing then he is not doing his job.

    Yet the team won 88 games last season and is 18-13 now, and been very good much of this season, and still there seems to be even more people complaining about Sabean.

    But I'm reaching the point where I don't care about educating the people who don't see what I see.

    I'm enjoying the Giants playing winning baseball. I'm enjoying watching this once in a generation pitching rotation that we will have for the next 4-6 years, roughly. I'm enjoying watching young players, including on the position side, Sandoval, Schierholtz, Bowker, Ishikawa, Downs, heck, even Rohlinger (I bet Frandsen wish he didn't open his big mouth now, if he would have played the good soldier, he probably would be the one starting at 2B right now, not Downs).

    If you all want to cry about Sabean's contract, that's fine with me, I would rather enjoy what the Giants are doing so far.

    Maybe this is a mirage and the team tanks at some point. Maybe there will be an injury that finally causes the team to collapse.

    But it has been an exciting season so far, and I can not understand how anyone who loves baseball could not enjoy what has been happening, could only complain when all this good is happening, it is not logical to me.

    Well, at least I'm enjoying the season...

    Keep on Trucking Sabean!
    Go Giants!

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  4. In case you're not aware, as the GM, Sabean is also responsible for the training staff and player evaluation, both free agents and farm players. If they've screwed up, ultimately Sabean is the responsible party.

    Clearly, there seems to be a disconnect between the evaluation processs for the washed up veterans that Sabean continues to bring to this team.

    I wish I could live in the same state of denail that you're in when you praise his work. You really don't think that the $30M he pissed away on DeRosa & Sanchez could've been used to bring a real player to this team that would contribute something? If this were just an isolated incident, perhaps I could turn a blind eye to it like you do.

    Repeated screwups with personnel and many years of no championships tells me that he's not going ever going to change his ways or his results.

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  5. Correction: he only pissed away $24M on those 2 bums.

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  6. Can't believe the team is doing so well and people are still bitching...

    Anyway, a couple of thoughts, pros and cons... if (if) Bochy can manage the lineup well, and I'm leaning towards that he can, there is no problem. OGC is right about rookies being unreliable, but I'm not so sure that they're any worse than the vets. This is a good thing. And having the luxury of Posey-bating is not a bad problem to have either.

    The other is, yes, what's up with the training staff? Okay fine, we can argue all day about signing older players, but, if you do, it would seem you would need to ratchet up the trainers. Risk mitigation at the least. I really can't get excited about the money part of it, but if you can end up increasing the vets playing time by x%, then these problems are reduced - a lot.

    Maybe I'm an ignoramus about sports medicine, but surely protecting a huge asset/liability (a free agent) is worth serious investment. Isn't it worth $1 million a year to take a look at Lincecum's lower back after every start? I would think so, but I don't think that's how it works.

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  7. If you want perfection...

    At least I understand your point of view Boof. Taking your point of view, I totally understand why you feel the way you do.

    However, it is not all black and white the way you paint it.

    For example, using your POV, at least Sabean has made it to the World Series, Billy Beane has never even gotten close to sniffing the World Series, the only time his A's even made the ALCS, they were swept 4-0. By your POV then, he's an even bigger loser than Sabean and should be fired first. I'm not a big Billy Beane fan, but I think he's a good GM and deserves to keep his job.

    And I do understand that Sabean is responsible for those areas. Where we differ is in how we react to the deficiencies in Sabean's leadership.

    I'm looking at the big picture, you are concerned about all the nitty gritty details. I see a team that is on the verge of making the playoffs and perhaps winning the World Series in the next 5-6 seasons, whereas you see every mistake that Sabean has made and want to see him fired, no matter how good a situation he has gotten the Giants into because, well, because it just bothers you so.

    I won't throw the baby out with the bath water. That's why I've been mostly cautious with my support of Sabean over the past few years, that's why I've been OK with 2 year extensions and not asking him to be GM for life, like Beane apparently will be. I've said that he should get two years and when those two years are up, there should be clear progress going forward. So far, so good.

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  8. Building a team is not a matter of taking over, make a few changes and viola, you have a World Series contender. You can't fix everything at once, and sometimes you are stuck with whatever the market has available for your needs at that time. That is a multi-year effort, and effort few fans acknowledge is necessary nor are they willing to go through the pain necessary to rebuild properly. They want it NOW!

    In addition, rebuilding a farm system takes time too. And when you are winning, you are handicapped by the draft system in place right now, you cannot rebuild with any certainty (at least there is no way to business plan for that).

    You have to lose, and typically lose big time (among worse 5 in majors), to gain the talent through the draft that will help you rebuild the team. Then you have to give time for those players to mature, typically.

    The Giants were lucky in a numberof regards with their rebuild. They got lucky that Lincecum and Posey fell to them, and they made a good pick with Bumgarner. However, he did select them, other teams had good reasons to avoid them, and the Giants could have done that too. He deserves credit for bucking the industry in that way. He also deserves credit for Cain, Sanchez, Wilson, Romo, and Runzler as well.

    So yeah, he blew big money on players who did not turn out. So instead, he could have picked up Jason Bay, who has been not worth what he is being paid either. So instead of complaining about Sabean signing DeRosa and Sanchez, you'll be complaining about him signing Bay.

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  9. And that is the problem I have with Giants fans in general. Basically, if the player is doing well, they love him, and if he's doing badly, he's a bum. Randy Winn went from savior to bum to good player back to bum. Zito was a bum but suddenly now it's "Barrry Baaarry Baaarrry" until it's boo again, perhaps, after yesterday's start.

    So yeah, I'm bummed that DeRosa could be damaged goods and Sanchez has been out, but Sanchez will return soon, and if he can hit like he has before, that'll be great because Burriss was horrible there in 2009 and so was everybody at 2B in 2008. Some good defense and decent offense and I'll be happy. But I won't say it's a bust until there is time to say so.

    Zito has been a bust. Rowand too. The contracts are long enough that they both could redeem themselves, but they have been busts and I don't know if what they have been doing will continue. I'll withhold saying that things have changed for certain for now, though will acknowledge that at least they are in the right direction.

    Right now, DeRosa is a bust, so I'll agree there, he would have to really do great in 2011 to change that contract and while I think he's a good player, I don't see great things coming.

    But Sanchez hasn't even played one play yet in 2010, so to call his contract a bust is just so pre-mature.

    The season is long, there is still plenty of time for him to produce for us. I'm patient enough to wait for that, and if he still doesn't produce, then I'll call him a bust. Not before.

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  10. And I don't deny those failures, I'm only saying that his successes outweigh those failures.

    Boof, it is you who are in denial, you are the one who don't see the good there is in the Giants right now, I've not seen one thing from you that is positive about this season: are we watching the same team?

    You say you want results, but an 88 win season last year and a 18-13 start this year isn't results enough for you yet. A rotation that should be the best in the majors for at least 5-6 years isn't results enough for you. It seems like it won't be enough for you until they win the World Series.

    And that is your prerogative.

    For me, I greatly enjoyed last season and I'm enjoying this season even more. I expect to enjoy the next 5-6 seasons and have hopes that the team will be dominant throughout the teens.

    And I don't have any great hope that I'll ever convince you otherwise. You are the ying to my yang, but hopefully I will open the eyes for someone who happens to come to my blog. I've always considered my blog to be a bottle tossed in the waves and know that I'm not the best writer, but hopefully some people will get my point and find value in it. And yet, despite our difference in opinion, for some odd reason, you still come back after all these years. I envy your tolerance, I wouldn't be able to put up with that.

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  11. In spite of any mistakes that might have been made in the past, the team is headed in the right direction, two steps forward, one step back. The key is building a team that has competitive advantage during short series, and I believe that the team is there now with our starting pitching. It is no guarantee, nothing in life is, but I like our chances with our top 4 against any other teams in any playoffs.

    Like I said, if you want perfection, find another team, find another sport, find another business. I want a team positioned to get to and to do well in the playoffs. That, I believe, has been accomplished, and yet, that is why they play the games.

    That's fine, I enjoy listening to baseball, following baseball, after all, I survived the 70's and 80's Giants where there was not a lot of winning to be had. Heck, throw in the 90's as well, for the most part, there was only that oasis of Uribe to Thompson to Clark that disappeared too fast for us fans.

    I think we are positioned to have a dynasty through out the 2010's. That, for me, absolves any mistakes that have been made along the way.

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  12. I don't make a big (or constant) deal about it, but:

    * the training staff appears to have problems that need to be fixed,

    * I don't think that the Giants will win the World Series because of Bochy, if they do win, it will be in spite of him, but his contract will be up after the 2011 season, plenty of time, in my opinion for the Giants to make hay in the playoffs,

    * I think the whole farm system could be improved, more money spent on helping develop players to make the leap from level to level, whether it be proper nutrition, exercise facilities, coaches to practice with players any time that they want to practice, major league quality pitchers (both RHP and LHP) to pitch to any player who wants to hit, heck, why not buy a complex to house all the players and feed them, like a boarding house, near enough to the park to walk to it and start practicing (or whatever baseball stuff they want to do)

    * give more pay to the players you think can develop so that they don't have to work during the off-season and can instead prepare for the next season. Sure, bonuses helps those drafted higher, but for the surprises in the later rounds, give him more pay so that they can devote more time to development and less to making enough money to live.

    * sell the Giants to someone with deeper pockets, whether Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, or any other billionaire residing in the Bay Area who is a big baseball fan, who could spend $100M like it was pocket change, like the billionaire who bought the Angels.

    * invest some money into the facilities that house out teams, make sure to make it a league neutral park so that our players are not handicapped by a park that reduces power greatly (Dodd Stadium AA), has a background that makes batters strikeout a lot (Municipal Stadium San Jose A+), is a pitchers park (Augusta's stadium). The Giants invested tens of millions in bonuses for our prospects, yet could not chip in $250K to move the fences in at Dodd Stadium and help with the situation there.

    * put more money into Latin American development, many teams have opened up facilities there, do that too.

    * think long term about finances so that we will never lose one player who we want to keep because of the budget. That's where the billionaire comes in handy.

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  13. Thanks for your comment Marc and Crazy Crab (and, heck, Boof too).

    Marc, in my opinion, because most of our hitting prospects have not been that great, they are worse than vets. But at least they are good enough that when/if the vets are not producing for any reason, we have a viable backup to conceivably have a chance to produce. And that is what I like about the 2010 Giants, we have a lot of good options to go to when one player or another is not producing.

    Yeah, just spend some more money on the sports medicine part of it, especially since we will soon enough be signing Lincecum and others to $100M+ long-term contracts. Just take the money we might have been spending on insurance, except that insurance companies won't take the policies anymore at a reasonable rate, and spend it on doctors instead.

    But yeah, I don't think that is how it works either.

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  14. I understand that we are on the opposite side of the fence on Sabean. You will never convince me that Sabean should not have been fired long ago for making the same repeated errors in judgement.

    However, just because we disagree doesn't mean that I can't listen to the opposing view and debate it without taking it as a personal attack. I don't view it as a tolerance issue. It's OK that people disagree and take opposite sides on issues.

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  15. BTW, I must clearly get your juices flowing............7 responses to one of my comments. That must be a record.

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  16. It was a long response, but 7 (6 really because the other one was to Marc and Crazy Crab) only because Blogger limits the length of a response (to like 4,098 bytes or something like that) and I didn't feel like playing around to find exactly what length works or not, I just chopped it small to get it done.

    I totally get listening to opposing views and debating it. I have an internal monologue going most of the time. Given that, by now, I'm not going to say anything much different from your point of view, for me, I just don't see the point, so you are the more tolerant.

    That's why I don't go by MCC as much as I used to. I love Grant's humor but I can't stand the usual crowd of commenters there. Same with Fanhome before, the crowd there made me cringe too, they seem to move over to MCC after Fanhome closed down, unfortunately. And the people there made it personal, many times, so I just had to move on and find another place where I can just comment.

    The length is also because it has been building up in me for a while, reading on other sites that have been attacking Sabean. I've been planning to devote a post to that, due to one particular attack on Sabean, but just haven't got around to it yet, but your comment set some of that free.

    DrB had a great (and succinct) response, and I should probably follow his example, and I'll try (and probably fail :^).

    http://whenthegiantscometotown.blogspot.com/2010/05/game-wrap-05-11-2010-padres-3-giants-2.html?showComment=1273726681184#c9191861624918091260

    It is his comment at 9:58PM, on May 12th. Basically, I should have just went with his last two paragraphs.

    Some day....

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  17. Jehovah's Witness ProtectionThursday, May 13, 2010 3:24:00 PM

    Where are the position players that SF was getting as a result of drafting pitchers all those years? You know, the ones Sabean would acquire because of the team's planned surplus of pitching.
    Only ones I can think of is off the top of my head are AJ and Freddie Sanchez. The rest of their 'hitters' come via free agency.
    What a mess.

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  18. What people still don't seem to get is that no matter what you do, it is a mess. The only way to totally rebuild a team via the draft is to lose, and lose horribly, for many many years. And as the Royals and Pirates have shown, even that is not all you need to do. Any rebuild is going to be messy and will require dipping into the free agency pool to pick up necessary parts.

    Building like the Giants have maximizes the resources for quicker rebuilding. Pitchers can be used in any of the 12 spots ultimately. The cream will rise to the top, and even failures as starters can became valuable contributors in the bullpen. That don't happen with position players.

    In addition, when you have a great pitching rotation, you only need an average offense to win with it. Proof of that is what the Giants did last year and has been doing this season. A team can sign average hitters via free agency plus the position players you do draft along the way, some will turn into players as well.

    If you want examples of great offense with OK pitching and how they did, you have the whole history of the San Francisco Giants franchise as an example of how great hitting teams cannot win when there is no pitching to back it up.

    And you can look at the success of the D-gers in the 60's for examples of how a great pitching staff can win with poor offenses. Or the D-backs with Johnson and Schilling leading their rotation.

    The thing is, you and others think the Giants have had a surplus but it has been my point that you need to build a monster rotation first, then anyone you have beyond that is surplus. Bumgarner or Wheeler might be that surplus arm, when they are ready to join the majors, the Giants have not had a surplus prior to this.

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  19. Boof and OGC, your back and forth is interesting. I tend to agree with OGC's view, but Boof backs up his points and presents a solid argument. Cheers to you both.

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