4.27.2005

"Slim and None"

What is Sabean's answer when asked about the chances of the Giants trading for another closer.

But is that the answer for the Giants chances for making the playoffs this year? No, I don't think so, but it sure as heck is going to be much harder to achieve without a closer. This is a huge punch in the gut. It is gut check time for the Giants pitching staff.

It is still too early to give up and the Giants are still close. What we need is someone to step up and do the job for us. Unfortunately, we don't have any obvious choices in the minors as Aardsma, who would have been the obvious choice, was so in need of development that the Giants took to making him a starter in AA to get him more innings, so we have no Chad Cordero or Huston Street in Aardsma.

As is abundantly clear to any Giants fan, the Giants don't have any obvious choices for the closer position on the major league roster either. On the trade market there are not many viable options other than Ugeth Urbina but Detroit is rumored to be asking for a young pitcher, either experienced like Jerome Williams (who they were rumored to have asked for last season) or a topline prospect like Matt Cain (who is probably the first name out of the mouth of any GM talking trade with the Giants). The most I would be willing to give up would be Brad Hennessey and another prospect, Correia?

There is a rumor that Feliz Rodriguez might be released by the Yankees because they have 13 pitchers and want to scale back to 12. While I would not make him a closer, I would try to get him because he could help with our setupman situation for the Giants since probably one or more of them will become the closer.

But looking at last year's staff stats, both Brower and Eyre have low OPS for their first 15 pitches. But they get a lot worse for pitches 16-30. Tyler Walker and F-Rod are pretty good for those pitches, near the top for the staff, but are pretty bad their first 15 pitches. Someone else who was good for pitches 16-30 and 31-45 was Brad Hennessey. Perhaps we can go back to the days where the closer would relieve for 2-3 innings at a time, he would be good in that situation based on how he pitched as a starter but I don't know if his mindset is ready for that. Also, he can't come into a bad situation, you would have to bring Brower or Eyre in first to clean up the situation then bring Brad in to pitch.

Desperate actions for desperate situations, perhaps it will take thinking out of the box to solve this problem. A caller on KNBR suggested that the Giants take Schmidt out of the rotation and a la Smoltz, make him the closer. Then the Giants would bring up Hennessey and/or Cain to pitch in the rotation. While that sounds interesting, I think the Giants should try other options first, like Brower/Eyre combo, to see if that works first. Then they could try the trade route by the end of May and then by the end of June, if there's still a problem, perhaps we can try the Schmidt route since Cain should hopefully be ready to come up at that time.

However, if we were to do that to a starter, I would rather go with Tomko instead of Schmidt. Tomko has a pretty good fastball that he could key on if he relieved. That was part of his success last season, focusing more on throwing his fastball instead of secondary pitches. In addition, he pitches OK for pitches 1-15 (.822 OPS), then is stellar for 16-30 and 31-45. Then we could bring up Cain at that point (assuming he is ready) or Hennessey to take his spot in the rotation. Because he is again inconsistent in his starts, his great second half last season was masked by the fact that he had a stellar month and two thoroughly ordinary other months. Perhaps if he had to focus on his two best pitches he can have more consistent success.

Oh, by the way, the Giants mashed the Pads, 10-3 to win the get-away series, as the Giants travel to lovely Pittsburgh for a three game series. The offense awoke with Feliz' 3-run homer to back Rueter's great outing for his first win of the season.

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