Monday, March 28, 2011

Your 2011 Giants: Projected 25-man Roster

With the Cactus League portion of Spring Training over, Andy Baggarly posted his projected 25-man roster and I thought I would comment.

Giants Thoughts

A major issue facing the Giants is fitting 26 major league players on a 25 man roster, plus there are players like Brandon Belt and Dan Runzler who deserve to be on the roster, sooner or later. Plus there is Guillermo Moto, who was a good reliever for us in helping the Giants win the 2010 World Series Championship.

Baggarly projects that Mota and Travis Ishikawa will win the last positions.  That means that he expects Brian Wilson to be ready by opening day and that Nate Schierholtz will be gone, probably traded since that is the rumor out there.

The roster Baggarly projects:
SP: Lincecum, Sanchez, Cain, Zito, Bumgarner (5)
RP: Wilson, Affeldt, Romo, Lopez, Casilla, Ramirez, Mota (7)
IF: Posey, Whiteside, Huff, Ishikawa, Sanchez, Fontenot, Tejada, Sandoval, DeRosa (9)
OF: Burrell, Torres, Ross, Rowand (4)

That fits what the Giants have said in the past week or so. One is that they intend to carry 12 pitchers, which brought to a head the issue that there are currently 14 position players signed, and apparently the rumor of trading Schierholtz appears to be real and he'll be the one gone.  There is also the news that Mota had provisionally made the 25-man roster (not sure what exactly that means other than he's on the roster as of right now, but that things could change, though unclear what that change could potentially be).

Consequences of Mota winning the last bullpen spot is that Suppan and Kroon (only Schulman has reported this, Baggarly has not yet) have already said that they won't accept a AAA assignment, while Vogelsong said this organization is where he wants to be and Runzler has another option they can use.

Should Wilson's injury recur, they could hold onto Suppan or Kroon longer, until Wilson returns. I would bet on Kroon, one, because Suppan has not been that impressive, either in spring training or the past few seasons, while Kroon has been a top closer in Japan. To my view, I think this would then buy time for Kroon to prove his worth over others in the bullpen, such as Mota or even Ramon Ramirez, as once Wilson returns, someone will have to leave.

However, I am most disappointed that Schierholtz is projected to be the one going first.  The most obvious position player to go, in my opinion, is Ishikawa, which is hard for me to say because I've been one of the few Giants fan supporters of Ishikawa over his career. Belt looks like the 1B long term, plus Sandoval, among other possible replacements, are in the system, ready to take over 1B.

In an ideal world, I think the Giants want to keep Ishikawa because he proved to be a valuable left-handed power bat off the bench, plus is great defensively at 1B, but that position looks to be covered pretty well going forward.  If they hadn't brought him up early, he might still have an option to be sent down to AAA and brought back in 2012, but unfortunately, they did.  But that's water under the bridge, and the reality is that he's the guy to go first.

As I noted on El Lefty Malo, the Giants should try to keep Schierholtz.  Like Rowand, he is injury prone but when healthy, he was a very productive hitter, a great RF.  We don't know how the OF will look in 2012 and I would prefer to keep him as a cheap potential starter.  Both Ross and Burrell are free agents, and both have to prove that they can continue to hit well, to boot, in 2012.  Torres, as great a story as he is, will be 34 for the 2012 season.  Huff is probably the LF by then, but he, like Burrell, also has to prove that 2010 was not a fluke season plus he'll be 35, just like Burrell.  Age and fluke results are big question marks with these potential starters for us in 2012, and Ross is not yet signed for that season either, although he expressed his strong interest in sticking around.

If Schierholtz is traded, that suggests that the Giants don't think that he'll get over the injury hump and/or that the outfielders coming up the system - Thomas Neal, Francisco Peguero, Gary Brown, Roger Kieschnick - will be ready enough, plus maybe that they are banking that one or two of the older players will still be performing at their high level still.  And that certainly is a possibility, I was thinking more of the worse case scenario with respect to the 2012 OF situation.

Rowand Not As Bad As People Think

As much as people point to Rowand as a sunk cost, they forget that he starts each season hot, when some sort of injury takes him down. As late as August 2008, his OPS was still near 800, which is pretty good offensively for a CF. Same with 2009. Both years, a horrible September ends a season which otherwise was relatively productive for a CF, but a mitigating factor is that he started off each season with some sort of injury, which we don't know whether it affected him later in the season or not. It could also have been that he was out of shape, as he finally started trying to get in shape before the 2010 season, though only via mountain bike riding, so I don't know how that improves his overall baseball fitness, hopefully it does or he'll be doing it for nothing.  We all know 2010, but forget that he took a pitch off his head. He started off hot when he returned but was not productive eventually, and I think that head injury, plus part time play affected his overall performance.

Overall, he has been above the average OPS for a CF for that season in 10 out of the 18 months he has been a Giant.  So he has not been that bad, just not good enough, and given that his defense is not as good as advertised, he was still rated slightly above average by both Fangraph's UZR, as well as Baseball-Reference.com's Rdrs.  That plus his offense being slightly below average (in terms of OPS) makes him an average player, and average players are worth something in baseball.

Of course, I understand that Rowand is not worth $12M per year, which is not what an average players gets, but he's not an unrecoverable cost either when he is about an average player.  He is nothing like Russ Ortiz when the D-backs dropped him, he was having all sorts of injury problems and wasn't even an average starter.  Rowand at least was average, with the caveat that when he's good, he's very good, but when he's bad, he's been very bad.  And that is the impression he leaves with most Giants fans because he ends the season on the steep downside, even though, if you examine his time with the Giants, he's been a valuable player about half the time.  I think injury and lack of conditioning contributed to his problems as a Giant.

Ideal Scenario:  with Ross out, Rowand hits like he has before, forcing himself into the outfield rotation with Burrell, Torres, and Ross when he comes back, plus then Huff should Rowand still be around when Belt is ready to come up.  With Rowand hitting well (hopefully) but healthy because he's playing less often, by mid-season a team will be desperate enough to trade for Rowand to be their starting CF, with the Giants chipping in $9M of the roughly $18M left on his contract.  At which point, the Giants can bring up Brandon Belt.

Or, if Rowand is not hitting well, then the Giants finally release him, knowing that they gave Rowand a good shot to prove himself, and wash their hands by releasing him and bringing up Belt.

Still, ideally, I would rather keep Schierholtz around because I think he can be an average producing RF, even if his HR power does not come, he can produce a lot with hits even though he don't walk much, and, once again, fans fall into the trap that just because he's not a good player, he's not a valuable cog of the team.  Not every starter is average, the way the MLB is set up, it is extremely hard to have every single starter on your team be above average, there will always be players below average.  That is why an potentially average starter like Schierholtz holds value for me.

Ishikawa, while I think he can be a very useful starting 1B for certain teams which gets their offense from other positions, is replaceable by Belt and a number of other players.  He is a useful player off the bench, but the 25-man roster crunch is so severe that if the Giants are unable to unload Rowand, even if he is hitting well, they would lose both Ishikawa and Schierholtz anyway.  I think you try to hold onto Schierholtz, who is relatively more valuable than Ishikawa for the Giants right now, first.

The Giants should hold onto at least one of them, in any case, because they can be valuable power bats off the bench, plus both have been good baserunners in seasons past, particularly Schierholtz, giving the Giants a power/speed/defense lefty combo off the bench.  Frankly, if I had the choice, I would think strongly about whether the Giants really want to hold onto Fontenot, although that would make it very hard for DeRosa to make it into games since an injury to either MI once he is in would force the Giants to play an OF as an MI.

But as the Cody Ross injury shows, sometimes things sort themselves out before you have to make a decision.  In any case, I'm excited that the season will start in a few days.

Go World Champion Giants!!!

10 comments:

  1. My post barely gets out and I found a report that Wilson is less than 50/50 to start the season with the team, he's looking more likely to be on the DL: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110328&content_id=17171934&vkey=news_sf&c_id=sf&partnerId=rss_sf

    That would buy the Giants some time to delay and see how things go with the position players, while also keeping the 12th reliever on the team too.

    Of course, Wilson probably would return relatively soon, so it is not like they can wait forever to make the decision.

    ReplyDelete
  2. If they trade Nate, I hope they get something good in return. Seems like Travis should be the one to go due to his lack of versatility and Belt playing 1B and all. Better yet, just release Rowand. Sorry to disagree wlth you OGC, but I really think Rowand is done.

    ReplyDelete
  3. OK to disagree, just our opinions.

    I think Rowand is basically done with Giants, I'm hoping he can play well enough that another team will have some interest in taking on him and some of the money for the contract. I think that he can, based on what he's done when relatively healthy.

    But yeah, we'll find out in regular season.

    Yeah, I hope they get something good in return for Nate, I think he can be OK in OF for us or someone.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey OGC, did you ever bury the hatchet with the Sabean/Bochy bashers at MCC, or are they still crying about your excellent post after the NLCS.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well, Nick, as far as I was concerned, their words were harsh, but I know there are a lot of idiots there so it was mostly water off my back.

    As far as Grant goes, he half-apologized, half-took another swipe at me at the same time, pretty much negating the apology as far as I was concerned. But he put my link back, for what's it worth.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes, good bye Ishikawa. The Brandon Belt era started, but don't get too attached to him, he could be the one gone if he's struggling when Cody Ross is ready. People forget, but Posey was south of 700 OPS when Molina was traded, after roughly 6 weeks of play.

    Ishikawa will almost certainly not pass through waivers, he has some value and I still think that he would be an adequate starter for the right team. Good luck, I'll be cheering for you, well, unless you join one of the NL West teams, particularly LAD.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Also, Runzler made the roster as well, probably because Wilson was DLed. He probably will go back to the minors once Wilson returns, after a week to ten days, as the team still have options on him.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I wasn't being sarcastic, OGC. I hate those peons as well. The thing I love about your blog is you look at things from the glass is half full perspective but you also back it up with outstanding analysis.


    MCC? well, they probably still think John Bowker getting traded was a terrible mistake. LOL. Also a very snarky, douchey bunch.

    Also, Belt making the team is another piece of evidence that MCC's mythical theory that Bochy and Sabez "don't play young guys" is a load of crap. They play GOOD young guys, like sandoval and Posey, Belt, they pass on below average players like lewis, Bowker, and Frandsen.

    Keep up the good work OGC!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sorry, Nick, I didn't think you were being sarcastic, didn't mean to imply you were.

    Really, I don't feel anything, other than they are rude, but I don't hate them, hating them not really worth my time, heck, they aren't worth it. They are like an irritating itch that bothers me once in a while. That's why I mostly read just Grant's posts and no one else, other than FLA-Giant, who DrB turned me on to.

    The problem with a lot of the people who are at MCC and complain is that they are not accountable for what they say there. Hence, they can be snarky and say all sort of stuff, but then they are the ones who cried about the Giants picking Posey instead of Smoak, which would have totally costed the Giants the championship last season because he wasn't ready but Posey not only was, but led the team to it too. At minimum, I would expect anyone there who ever suggested a trade of one of our stellar pitchers for a so-so power hitter (hello, Corey Hart and Armando Rios!) or saying that they made a mistake taking Bumgarner over a hitter or saying that about Posey and Smoak (and I'm aware of someone verrry prominent at MCC who wrote something to that effect), should have been first in line for my request.

    Oh well, yeah, Bowker and Lewis, they still love both, I'm sure.

    Yeah, well, the problem with a lot of Giants fans is that they are only focused on offensive players. The Giants have played a lot of young guys, they just happened to be pitchers. And yet up to even last year, all we ever hear about is how bad the offense is.

    It was, as I wrote long ago when a Mercury columnist complained about there being no era after Barry Bonds, the Era of the Pitchers which I've been writing about for a number of years now as the Giants rebuilt their team in the aftermath of Bonds.

    And yeah, the reason the other young guys did not get much of an opportunity to play is because they weren't GOOD young guys.

    Thanks, I will try.

    The Giants look pretty good right now, and I think they can survive the loss of one of their starting pitchers and still make the playoffs. It is both that they are that good now and that the other NL West teams aren't that good.

    About the only IF that would kill our chances is losing one or more of our starters, but I think we can limp into the playoffs with four of them plus a back-end starter in the #5 spot for, say, half the season, mixed with half a season of the injured good pitcher.

    Even if all the hitters regress as people and prognosticators think they might, because of age or whatever, the Giants pitching is so good that they almost made the playoffs in 2009 with basically the worse offense in the NL, heck, the majors, since AL has DH.

    So I'm not too worried about the offense, I think Pablo is back and paired with Posey in the middle of the lineup, the offense will be good enough to get our pitching into the playoffs.

    ReplyDelete

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