Happy Thanksgiving to all!

I hope everyone has a great time today with family and friends! Best regards to everyone!

MLB.com has article out on Giants prospects

MILB.com has put out an article following up on their spring training prospect article. This is a great synopsis of the Giants best prospects plus a number of their recent top draft picks, including who didn't sign and why. It also gives a nice overview of the Giants entire farm system, going over how each team did plus the organizational leaders in a number of categories.

For Ishikawa, he noted that Travis hit .317 with 5 homers and 18 RBI in 101 AB vs. LHP. Which means he hit .272 with 17 homers and 61 RBI in 331 AB vs. RHP, which is not too bad either, just obviously odd that he hit LHP better than RHP since he is a lefty. Hopefully he can make the leap and push his RHP hitting up over his LHP. I wish they would provide this data somewhere.

But how can they have a prospect report on the Giants 2005 top prospects and not have something on Marcus Sanders?


Sheriff Ned to the Rescue: Part I

Ned Colletti, the sly dog, has learned well from the master. Sabean knows how to say things without saying things. Ned noted offhand that he has spoken with the Marlins but demured on what the conversation was about in a MLB.com news article. Then why bother mentioning it? Just say I've been speaking with teams.

I love this quote from him about his top aides in the Dodgers management hierarchy: "I really haven't given it much thought."

Of course, it is a little out of context, here's the entire quote, after indicating that the top front office aides he inherited remain in place:

"We're all pulling together," he said. "We're all getting to know each other. It's full-steam ahead. We have a lot of work to do together. I'm relying on them. They're part of the team. I don't have plans to do anything else. I really haven't given it much thought."

A Giants fan can take that last quote to two deliciously delightful conclusions. One, he truly didn't give much thought to it, which would indicate that he's a moron. Or Two, he was given very little power over shaping the Dodgers front office, which mean that he will be handcuffed by the McCourts before he can do anything. That means there will be cases of owner interference a la Steinbrenner and, if they don't see eye to eye, well, he loses.

I find the next quote to be unbelievable:

As he did when he was hired nearly a week ago, Colletti said payroll is not currently an issue.
"I've conversed with Frank and Jamie McCourt about who I think we need to help us," he said. "I haven't been told to slow down, stop, turn around."

He said ownership has not given him a payroll limit and he said he doesn't "have a need for a direct number right now."

No payroll limit? Puh-lease, McCourt is in debt to his eyeballs with the team, there is a limit there somewhere, he doesn't have deep pockets. Colletti is working off some number, probably last year's budget, so any moves he makes will take that as the target, at minimum, give me a break! Either that or Colletti has no imagination at all in terms of pursuing free agents. But it is nice tap-dancing for the fan-base to make it look like the McCourts aren't penny-pinching, and, don't worry, Sheriff Ned is in charge.

And he had to speak with the wife too about Dodger matters? I haven't seen his wife make any public statements yet. I haven't any indication that she is that interested in the Dodgers. Can't you just picture this conversation: "But honey, I don't like the way he looks, trade him away!" "But Kent is one of our better players..." "I don't care, I don't like the way his mustache leers at me"


Answering the Mailbag

I was reading through the latest Giants Mailbag on sfgiants.com and thought it would be good to provide my view on what's said there.
  1. Question on Eyre and payroll: interesting data point here, it reiterates the $85M payroll figure that has been bandied about frequently but mentions "maybe a little higher depending on offseason moves." That's a pretty good nugget of information, there's some hope that they might go higher. It also mentioned that Sabean said that if Eyre went elsewhere, he would look for a LHP on the free agent or trade markets. The bullpen is pretty full right now with Benitez, Hawkins, Walker, Fassero, Munter, Taschner, and Accardo, unless the Giants are not planning to count on one of the youngsters for whatever reasons, so we'll see how that goes.
  2. Question on Benitez and his arm: a pitcher's velocity is not just all arm, it is a combination of his arm, body motion, and legs that combine into his velocity. In the case of some elite pitchers like Nolan Ryan, he relies greatly on his legs to deliver his velocity, if I understood things correctly. Obviously, since Benitez came back too early to be 100% with his legs, his velocity should suffer in some way. Plus, as noted, psychologically one can't help but be tentative in pitching after suffering such an injury. I think it was a great show of how good a pitcher he is that he was able to come in without his best stuff and still do OK (3.92 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, .192 BAA, nearly 9 k/9, only 6 h/9 but a high 5 w/9 (all rough calcs in my head)). Given how he attacked his recovery regiment to get back early to the team, I have no doubt that he would be able to continue to recover during the off-season and come back with a strong season in 2006.
  3. Complaining about Nathan trade: just get over that. Every GM will make a terrible, fall on your face type of trade eventually, that's the risks of trading, it is not a reason to lose faith. You want a GM will to take calculated risks on, else you don't get the Jeff Kent's and the Jason Schmidt's type of trades. What's more fearful is the trend of the past series of trades: Ortiz, Livan, Nathan, F-Rod, all bad trades thus far in the ledger and probably won't get better. The Winn trade does look like a win, so that's a good sign but it's way too early, and the Hawkins trade is still yet to be seen, it could still end up looking more horrible as having him cost us the chance to resign Eyre, not just losing Williams and Aardsma in the trade. Basically, we essentially traded Eyre, Williams, and Aardsma to the Cubs for Hawkins as the money freed up for them allowed them to sign Eyre (to a surprisingly similar contract, which, based on past performances, don't make sense, Hawkins has been far superior in past performance).
  4. Question on Matt Cain in the 2006 rotation: Giants management has already said that Cain is in the 2006 rotation, which makes sense, he doesn't have much to prove at the AAA level and he can get valuable experience pitching at the MLB level, plus additional coaching from Rags and Gardy plus get to speak with Schmidt regularly. The writer notes the need for adjustment but as I noted in a prior post, he's already shown some ability to adjust as he has already faced two teams twice - Colorado and Arizona - within a month and was still able to pitch well against both teams, including an impressive outing IN COLORADO, going 6.0 IP, 3 hits, 3 walks, 1 R/ER, 4 strikeouts. Plus he pitched well against Arizona in the BOB in his first outing against them - 7.0 IP, 3 hits, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 R/ER - again, impressive because one would think that they would have pretty good reports on Cain from their AAA affiliate which played against him all season long, so the scouting reports for both Arizona and Colorado should have been pretty good and yet they couldn't do much against him. First time out, total of 12.0 IP, 6 hits, 5 walks, 1 HR, 3 R/ER, 6 K's; second time around, total of 12.1 IP, 9 hits, 5 walks, 2 HR, 4 R/ER, 7 K's. The lines are virutally identical, the first games included his game in the BOB, the second games included his game in Coors. He's extra special, as I noted in my KNBR post.
  5. Question on resigning Snow: as I've noted frequently this off-season, both here and elsewhere, Snow's power disappeared this past season - he couldn't hit for power on the road for the first time. Even in the years he was injured and didn't hit particularly well overall, he still showed some power on the road - not in 2005. So the Giants are not going to risk another season with him starting, they are looking for power LHH to replace him, as has been widely reported, he is only a backup plan if the Giants come up empty. Now about the statement that "Snow will likely be signed for 2006 just as an insurance policy and late-inning defense" on the bench, there is no way in hell that happens, even if Snow agrees to whatever the minimum is. There are only 13 position players spots given a 12 man pitching crew. Obviously 8 will be starters, leaving 5. One is taken by backup catcher, another by Alfonzo, another by Niekro (unless we get a good 1B; doubtful given Sabean comments and slim payroll left to use), another by Linden (or he is lost as he is out of options), then we need either a backup SS or CF, as we don't have a backup for either with this roster as currently composed. There goes all 5 open spots and we still need a backup SS or CF. So Snow is not going to be signed unless he's taking a minor league contract and playing at San Jose probably (so he could be near home).
  6. Question on Epstein being our AGM: too laughable, he's not taking a step down after leading the Red Sox to the World Series victory.
  7. Question on Cervenak: he's too old to be a good prospect, he's only coming up if Feliz is injured.

Matt Cain interview on KNBR Hot Stove Show, Thursday Nov. 17

Not a ton of information and the broadcast was not available on KNBR when I checked last night. Interesting tidbit I did not catch from any other source yet was that Sabean was looking for two starting pitchers, not just one, as most fans have been assuming from his public statements on what the Giants top needs this off-season will be that he was only looking for one.

There was also an interview with Matt Cain. He called in from Memphis, Tennessee, his hometown and home. He and Brad Hennessey and Jack Taschner have been talking during the off-season. He thought Eyre was a good guy in the clubhouse. What he did during the season has just started to sink in, that he was in the majors, etc.

Personal goals for 2006 (I was most impressed by his maturity and thoughtfulness; he said this without much, if any, hesitation, showing he has thought these through already):
  • stay healthy (particularly important after Jerome Williams came into camp two years in a row out of shape)
  • get better
  • lot of improvement to do (impressive, some would crow about their accomplishments - and Matt had some great ones despite only 7 starts - but he was "aw shucks, head to the grindstone" type of attitude)
  • need to throw strikes more consistently (walks are his one big flaw)
  • learned how to throw a slider last season, wants to continue to improve that pitch
  • want to throw his changeup better to lefthanded hitters
  • figure out how to pitch well even when you don't have any good stuff (how often will you hear a pitcher talk about doing this?)

The Giants did not tell him anything after the season ended about their plans for 2006 for him.

I think the Giants got themselves one gem of a person here, let alone starting pitcher. They would have to get one mega-serious offer to even consider trading Matt Cain, multiple starting players, etc. I would be greatly disturbed if the Giants trade him away at any point. I am hoping the Giants lock him in for a long term contract by the end of next season, if not sooner, lasting to his free agent year. As good as I felt about Ainsworth, Williams, and Foppert, my feelings for Cain outdo all of them, based on what I heard about and from them before they started pitching a significant amount of time for us.

Now if only my feelings for a player get translated into real results. :^) Hopefully Matt can deliver on the promise that his minor league and major league results presents so far and prove my intuition correct. Go Giants!