In Kline'd to be Angry; Sweeneying 1B

As announced all over the place, the Giants trade LaTroy Hawkins and cash considerations to the Baltimore Orioles for Steve Kline. I was ready to rip into the trade as a huge mismatch of talent but his record as a relief pitcher is comparable to Hawkins, from glancing at his splits and career numbers; when I get time during my vacation soon, I'll try to compare in a more detailed way.

However, one area where Hawkins shines like a lighthouse whereas Kline is a kandle, is in his K/W ratio - Hawkins had a down year last season but normally had 4.0-5.0 ratio, where 2.2 is considered very good, whereas Kline in two of the past three seasons his ratio was nearly 1.0, a ratio that is virtually unsustainable in the long run. So, according to stats compiled in Ron Shandler's 2005 book, a pitcher with his k9 and w9 rate of the past few years had an average ERA of 4.86, with his k/w ratio had an average ERA of 4.98 (with his k9 rate, ERA of 4.96), and with his k-rate 4.47 ERA. These two pitchers are at the extremes of the spectrum. That doesn't mean that Kline couldn't be a tail-end of the spectrum who could pitch like that and still perform well, but odds don't favor it whereas it is much easier for a pitcher like Hawkins to be dominating.

We Got Tom Sawyered

So just on talent, I think we are giving up more and therefore should have gotten a prospect from Baltimore to make up for that gap in talent. But, not only do we not get a prospect, we have to send some cash to the Orioles to make up for the gap in salaries as Hawkins makes more than Kline! Are you freaking kidding me?

Next, it was clear that the Orioles were not happy with Kline, as he did not perform as well as he had before. Plus the fans were not happy because he complained that he wished he never signed with the Orioles and that he would rather be with the Cards. Clearly he was damaged goods with the Orioles and a commodity that they would want to get rid of. Match that with their loss of their closer with no good option in their bullpen, the Giants should have been able to trade him to the Orioles for Kline without giving up cash plus getting a prospect back from the Orioles!

The Birds Tom Sawyered us: hey, if you give us your great pitcher and some cash, we'll give you this pitcher we were disappointed in and that our fans hate.

Giants Doing OK But Not Focused on Real Problems

That rant done, overall the Giants are doing OK with their moves in recent days. The bullpen is pretty good now, even with Eyre leaving, manned by Benitez, Worrell, Kline, Walker, Munter, Fassero, and Accardo/Taschner. They changed Hawkins and Eyre from the end of last season for Worrell and Kline, who perhaps won't match Hawkins/Eyre, but should still be very good in their roles and make the bullpen a strength of the team, with either Accardo or Taschner waiting in the minors to backup the possibility that someone falters.

However, the bullpen was not an big problem area for the team. The bullpen would have been OK as is because, even if one of the rookies faltered and had a poor sophomore year, there are pitchers in the minors who could come up and try to do the same as Munter, Taschner, and Accardo did in 2005, like Valdez, Simon, Sadler (if he's not Rule 5 drafted).

An area that was a bigger problem is the starting pitching, which currently would start Hennessey and Correia. They were close to getting Loaiza (lucky we didn't get him) and are hot on the trail of Matt Morris now, though the Cards are back in the pictures after losing out on the A.J. Burnett sweepstakes (crazy 5 year/$55M contract for an injury prone pitcher).

Then of course there's the elephant in the room, how Barry's going to do. If he's out again like 2005, the team could be sunk again, though if everyone else pulls their weight, it won't be the nuclear meltdown of the offense like in 2005 because we'll have Durham, Winn, and Alou being the main contributors and Vizquel, Matheny, Niekro, and Feliz (and now Sweeney) complementing them. They should be focusing on getting a good 1B to help pick up the offensive slack should Barry go down - Sweeney is a nice bench player but he'll probably be exposed if he played everyday as he's never been a starter in his career and only had more than 200 AB in a season last season.

Signing Sweeney

Speaking of Sweeney, we signed him today for 2 years, $1.8M. Seems like a fair salary for someone who will probably see a lot of ABs at 1B, OF, and especially PHing, even if the Giants do as I hope and get a strong offensive player for 1B. No great news but he's a solid player to pick up for our bench, especially since he's a lefty and will help with the Giants problems hitting RHP, especially when Barry is out of the lineup. Hopefully Sabean is scanning the non-tender wires for someone to pick up a lefty to boost up our 1B position.


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