Giants target 20 free agents and 4-6 teams for trades

SJ Mercury reported Saturday that Sabean said that the Giants have trimmed the list of 166 FA to about 20 pitchers and position players they will consider pursuing. The article also reinforced what we all know: the Giants top priority is finding a starter for the rotation, one who would make the rotation stronger, sez Sabean. He also noted that the Giants have identified 4-6 potential trade partners. These he will all pursue during the GM meetings starting Monday, though he "don't see that either route is going to be a surefire way of what we need to do."

The Merc mentioned Jeromy Burnitz, Brian Giles, Jacque Jones, Travis Lee, and Daryle Ward as hitters, names we all have noted before. A new one who just FA: Frank Thomas. Also, I've been toying with the idea of trying out Nomar Garciaparra at 1B.

The Merc IDed Burnett, Millwood, Morris and Washburn as out of reach. If the Giants can dip into their "Maddux" money, I think they could approach all of them except for Burnett. Other pitchers include Shawn Estes, Tony Armas Jr., Esteban Loaiza, Byung-Hyun Kim, Brian Moehler, Jamey Wright, Kenny Rogers, Kevin Brown, Joe Mays, Paul Byrd, Jose Lima, Jason Johnson, Scott Elarton (culled from list of 155 FA as of Thurs; not sure who declared on Friday or today).


The Giants Future Stars' War: The Hitters at San Jose

Welcome to my 200th post. Took me by surprise when I noticed it, didn't think I posted that many yet; I guess the old cliche holds, time flies...

This is the second in a series on the prospects in San Jose. The first one gave my introduction and went over my methodology and data sources plus discussed one thing I found from the analysis about age and how that pertains to Frandsen. Obviously, I appear to be wrong about Frandsen already; as I noted in another post, he's playing 3B in the AFL currently. But 2008-9 is still far off from now, you never know what may happen. For example, many don't remember that Mark McGwire was actually playing 3B for the A's but got moved to 1B when that prospect had some sort of problem (not hitting I think).

The Hitters

The following are hitters on the San Jose team who had more than 250 AB (that's approximately half a season plus it allowed me to include Frandsen):

Player BA OBP SLG OPS BB% Contact% BB/K AB/HR (sorry, blogger took out all my spacing for formating)
EME .313 .427 .524 .951 15% 83% 1.1 28
Ishikawa .282 .387 .532 .919 14% 70% 0.5 20
Frandsen .351 .429 .467 .896 8% 92% 1.2 146
Schierholtz .319 .363 .514 .877 6% 74% 0.2 33
Wald .293 .357 .493 .850 9% 71% 0.3 20
Bowker .267 .319 .414 .733 7% 77% 0.3 36
Timpner .291 .334 .397 .731 6% 83% 0.4 137
Jennings .288 .321 .395 .716 4% 859% 0.3 50
League .287 .352 .455 .807 9% 79% 0.5 34

{If you want to view this better, you probably can cut and paste this table into Excel and then convert the text to columns under the Data menu; I will gladly take any advice on how to better present tables in Blogger}

How the Hitters Measured Up

Here are the players who did well in each ratio (elite bolded) and those who did poorly in italics following the semicolon:

  • BA: Frandsen, Schierholtz, Eddy Martinez-Esteve (EME)
  • OBP: Frandsen, EME, Ishikawa, Schierholtz, Wald
  • SLG: Ishikawa, EME, Schierholtz, Wald, Frandsen
  • OPS: EME, Ishikawa, Frandsen, Schierholtz, Wald
  • BB%: EME, Ishikawa; Jennings
  • Contact%: Frandsen, Jennings; Schierholtz, Wald, Ishikawa
  • BB/K: Frandsen, EME; Timpner, Bowker, Wald, Jennings, Schierholtz
  • AB/HR: Ishikawa, Wald, EME

There are probably elite levels for BB% (perhaps 15%, in which case EME would qualify), Contact% (probably 90%, in which case Frandsen would qualify), and BB/K (I would actually think 1.0 is elite but Shandler did his studies on this and I got nothing better) but these are all guesses on my part, because I'm relatively new to these stats and don't have a feel for them yet, whereas I've been dealing with BA and AB/HR most of my life and OBP/SLG/OPS over the past few years. Perhaps next year.

How the Hitters Ranked

A number of players were in the 80 percentile or higher (16th or better out of 82 players with 250 AB or more):

  • EME was in the 80 percentile or above in all the categories above except for contact% and AB/HR; he was in the top 5 in OBP, BB%, BB/K, and 7th in OPS. And he was close in Contact%, ranking 27th, and AB/HR, ranking 31st.
  • Frandsen was in the top 5 in BA, OBP, contact%, and BB/K; he was also in the 80 percentile for OPS.
  • Ishikawa was in the 80 percentile or above in OBP, SLG, OPS, BB%, and AB/HR. However, he was near the bottom of the league in Contact%, a crucial metric to do well in. His BB/K is actually slightly above the middle of the league (ranked 30th), higher than one would think given all his strikeouts.
  • Schierholtz surprisingly was only in the 80 percentile or above in BA. He was close in two others, ranked 19th in SLG and 24th in OPS. However, he was near the bottom of the league in three key metrics - BB%, Contact%, and BB/K.
  • Only two other players were in the 80 percentile or higher: Jake Wald in AB/HR and Todd Jennings in Contact%. Timpner was close in Contact% with 83%, ranked 25th. And Wald was close in SLG with a ranking of 26th.


The three top hitters on the San Jose team were EME, Frandsen, and Ishikawa. Frandsen was in the top 5 in four metrics and EME was in the top 5 in three metrics. EME was also at or near the top in all eight metrics. Ishikawa was at the top in five metrics and close in another. In addition, Ishikawa was in the elite category in four metrics, while EME was in three and Frandsen was in two.

Surprisingly, Schierholtz was ranked high in only one metric (though close to two others) and, in fact, is near the bottom in three key metrics (BB%, Contact%, BB/K) and lower than one would expect in AB/HR after his homer spree at Hagerstown in early 2004. His disappointing show relative to the league echos the complaints about him posted on Baseball America and other minor league focused sites and general disappointment with his progress and abilities to grow beyond his flaws in his swing. He was in elite company in SLG, though,

None of the other hitters really performed above the league. Wald showed some HR power, which boosted his SLG, but, at 24, is old for the league, so his stats need to be viewed and downgraded in that context. Jennings showed off his bat with his high Contact%, showing why the Giants converted him to 3B from C, to keep his bat around, but he needs to have a better feel for the strike zone because he strikes out too much and walks too little, plus needs to start swinging with some lift, like Ted Williams taught in his book, as his SLG and HR power was very low last season.

Sabean is hoping that this group will be the core components of the next generation Giants and hence are trying to keep them together so that they would have better chemistry together once they made the majors. With Frandsen moved to 3B, the Giants could keep him with the group in AA next season, but that would slow his progress towards the majors, as he probably would be better off in AAA next season. But they might hold him back so that he could adjust to his new position in lower leagues.

But that's not too bad, eight hitters playing significant time and hitting well overall, though most of them had one or more problem area that made them poor hitting prospects. Hopefully they can win the league championship for Norwich next. Sabean also wants them to have a winning attitude, to know how to win, and what it takes to be a winner. Sounds good to me!


BA's thoughts on who Giants Might Draft

Just ran across this Baseball America Ask BA question that asks what's on many of our minds: who might the Giants pick with their 10th pick? Scroll down to the entry for October 5th, question by Danielle Silva of Oakland. Just before that, Jim Callis had already run down who they thought might be the first 10 players drafted and, oddly enough, BA forecasts Desperate times for the Giants at the tenth pick: they see Evan Longoria, SS for Long Beach State U., as the 10th pick.

Points to take away:
  • The 2006 draft looks underwhelming at the moment, though much can change after spring games. The scouts see 2006 as being thin on position players. My take is this is not a problem for the Giants who draft pitchers predominantly.
  • They see signability as a factor in the Giants pick.
  • They note that the Giants don't have any pattern to their picks, college vs. H.S., hitters vs. pitchers with their early picks.
  • Their best guess as to the top player in each of these categories are Evan Longoria, Oregon State RHP Dallas Buck, The Woodlands (Texas) High RHP Kyle Drabek, and Monsignor Pace High (Opa Locka, Fla.) 3B Chris Marrero.
Longoria seems like a good pick since we need a good SS prospect. But given the bias towards pitchers, Drabek seems like a more likely choice.


Further Thoughts on Dodger's Move to Get New GM

Overall, as a Giants fan, I am happy over the move. The firing can be spun either as an owner finally figuring things out and doing the right thing or as an owner who is a Steinbrenner wannabe with an itchy trigger finger; you can guess which way I prefer, though I believe it is too soon to say which it is. But the signs point to the latter - there are few owners who have ever been smart enough (and humble enough) to figure things out, most are like Michael Bolton in this anecdote that someone once told me: when unable to figure out how to ski, he reportedly pouted, "I'm a star, I should know how to do this!" or something like that. Witness the hapless Warriors, Clippers, Colts, Redskins, even DeBartolo with the Niners, he eventually forced out Walsh, how smart was that? Quick change after a bold move like hiring DePodesta just smells like another know-it-all owner.

Either way, when there is turmoil in the upper management ranks, there will always be confusion and fear among the rank and file employees, unsure over how the new GM will be. Management turmoil is usually not a good thing, especially when an outsider is brought in as the replacement. Witness how well the 49ers worked after hiring Erickson after Donahue orchestrated Marriucci's firing. While this is no guarantee that things will turn out horribly, it leaves open that possibility, especially with a novice owner being guided by Lasorda and Lasorda not proven to be a franchise builder either.

Else why has the Dodger's basically sucked in the bottom of the division since his last year managing? He supposedly has been guiding the owners since his retirement as manager. Hasn't really turned out that well, eh? In addition, as a saber-believer, I am happy that the Dodgers appear to be moving away from the use of sabermetrics with this move.

But, these are all my interim feelings until we see how McCourt runs this GM search and who he choses and why. Early money appears to be on Gillick for GM and Valentine for manager, but there must be a reason that no MLB team has hired Gillick for over two seasons and why Valentine is working in Japan. Plus I'm hoping for an extended circus of prospective GMs coming through the doors and making this a long and drawn out affair. However, given that Lasorda appears to be orchestrating the moves and influencing McCourt greatly, one would have to assume that his "recommendations" of Gillick and Valentine would carry a ton of weight.

My main hope right now is that Gillick will balk at hiring Valentine as manager and cause Lasorda and McCourt to go back to the drawing board in their GM search. My other hope is that given Gillick's bad experience in Baltimore with a meddling owner (he mentioned this in an interview), he will turn down the LA job because McCourt could not convince Gillick that he's not a micro-managing owner - which I would assume would be a hard thing to do when you fired your GM after only two years. Given Gillick's advanced age (late 60's; 69?) and legacy of excellence, my last hope is that he might prefer to go to a place like Philadephia, which, to me, is better poised with good prospects and good players than the Dodgers are. He doesn't have to time (i.e. too old) to turn around a team and I think the Dodgers are in such a situation because of the amount of change it experienced after its first division title in 10 seasons and its recent legacy of poor results.

Happy Halloween! Giants Rule! :^)

And why not? It's our colors that dominate today! I'm going out with my children as Darth Vader, my first new costume since I started going with Groucho Marx 3-4 years ago. Happy Halloween to all!


Argh! Eyre! Winn-win?

According the Merc's account of the five vets re-joining the team, the Giants made a multi-year offer to Eyre last week but, while Eyre said that he wants to remain a Giant, he felt compelled to gauge his value in free agency.

Holy shades of David Bell! That's basically what he said before he hightailed out of here for Philly and pulled off a Robby Thompson (career tanked after signing for the big bucks). And according to the Merc, the writer thinks he can command $2.5 to $3.0 million because Ray King, who they think is comparable, will earn $2.5M next year with a club option for $2.75M in 2007. And one player agent told the writer that Eyre will easily secure a rich contract if he shops around. The agent was quoted as saying, "I've already had conversations with several teams, and some of them are going to line up for this cat."

If that is what he could earn, I would prefer the Giants not take the chance and sign him because last year was a career year for him, pitching well against LHP and RHP, whereas he couldn't get RHP out before. If I knew that he would pitch again like he did in 2005, I would take it, but he's 34 I think and coming off a career year where he did something he's never really done before in his career. It looks like a case of paying dearly for peak value.

The other news, sort of, was that Colletti said that the Giants plan to speak with Winn's agent about a multi-year contract which could create more payroll flexibility by paying him more later. Winn's agent happens to be ex-Giants prospect (and I think high draft pick) Craig Landis, who hopefully doesn't hold anything against the Giants that his baseball career never flourished in the Giants farm system (or after).