Monday, July 23, 2012

Nate Not So Great: But I Still Like Him

I had been out on vacation and was going to write one big post to cover all my thoughts, but my work is crazy good right now, so I'll bite off one at a time.

Nate Schierholtz made news lately by complaining in an interview with Hank Schulman that he's not satisfied with the amount of playing time he's been getting and that he would welcome a trade.  He said that if he's not their guy, then maybe he should move on.

He didn't back off of it yesterday but gave a more team oriented comment instead.  Schulman noted in his blog that it was clear that the team  informed him that he appeared selfish with his original statements.

Giants Thoughts

First off, I don't really think that Nate is going anywhere.  The Giants love defense, or specifically, Sabean has loved defense since he first became GM.  He might have to hornshoe in guys with poor defense, to accommodate roster and budget realities, but mostly, in his comments over the years, it's clear he prefers good defensive players.  Nate is a virtuoso in RF.

The main reason I think he is going nowhere is because I see another round of competition for playing time in the OF in 2013.  There is almost no way the Giants sign both Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan, due to all the money devoted to the pitching, and most likely Melky will be signed, the question is how much (one item I wanted to cover).  Plus not much money for free agents, I don't think.

That means Melky got LF most probably, and Gregor Blanco will be the presumptive starting CF (perhaps in platoon with Justin Christian), and then Nate in RF, as nobody in Fresno is knocking down the door for the RF starting spot.  Francisco Peguero and Chris Dominguez isn't doing much there, and Roger Kieschnick, who put himself into position to challenge, got injured again, so who knows what he can do for us next season.  Plus maybe a journeyman OF, like Torres and Blanco before him.

Nate is just too valuable, as well as cheap, to trade away, unless another team really thinks he's as good as he think he is, and gives up more to the Giants in terms of a RF starter, who they can control for multiple years.  If teams really felt that way about him, then an offer like that might have happened before, and if that offer had ever been done, I would think the Giants would have gone for it, Nate has always been a tweener in terms of prospect potential, showing enough to warrant interest and continued opportunities, but never breaking out enough to hold the starting job.  However, the only type of trade I can see Schierholtz being a part of is one where both teams are giving up on a prospect, and seeing if they can do something with our castoff, like when we traded Salomon Torres for Shawn Estes, or Yorvit Torrealba and Jesse Foppert for Randy Winn..

A major league starter needs to be consistently good, or rather, not consistently really bad.  Nate has been great over up to a month's period of time.  If he hit like that all the time, he would be a star in the MLB and not needing to do such interviews.  Heck, if he could at least be replacement level during his down time, then the Giants could live with that.  But he's typically not and the Giants are forced to go elsewhere for RF starting.

That he didn't understand why he sat down for so long shows that he was being myopic and selfish.   Blanco had a monster May, much like the ones Nate puts out.  Like Nate, when he cooled off, he got the benefit of the doubt - if you go over Nate's usage patterns in the past, the Giants would give him chance after chance after his nice surge, but eventually had to go to another player as Nate was just cold.  Now that his cool off period has ran too long, plus Pagan is having a long cold period, Nate is getting his opportunities.

Bochy, contrary to popular opinion, likes static lineups, where he can write in the same names every day.  However, if a guy isn't hitting, he's going to mix and match.  If Nate had paid any attention the past few years, he would have seen that and realize that Bochy would probably start using him more again after the All-Star break.  He just needed to be patient.

The Giants believe in him, else he wouldn't still be around, unlike Lewis, Frandsen, Bowker, Linden (OK, he came back, but he was gone for a while).  He needs to realize that a MLB hitter can't be cold for an extended period and not get put on notice.  Bochy wants to win, and now.  I like that about him, and that is what changed my mind about him in 2010 down the stretch, you need a manager with that killer attitude to bring in the hardware, which he did in 2010.

This bit of hot hitting will get Nate some more opportunities.  Don't blow them Nate and you will have RF sewn up and Pagan and Blanco would end up sharing CF playing time.  I still believe in his abilities, but this lava hot and arctic cold can't continue if he hopes to start.  I think Bochy told him he wasn't starter's material to rile him up and get him motivated to get to this consistency level he needs to be a starter.  The Giants appear to be reaching the end of their string in terms of Nate as a starter, but he's still very valuable as a 4th OF because he can take over if there is any injury or cold stretch without much downside in production, so I don't see him going anywhere, unless the Giants get a very good deal.

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