3.06.2006

Rueter Retires and Wright Speculation

Thanks Woody

First off, I just want to give a heartfelt thanks to Kirk Rueter for almost a decade of excellent pitching for the Giants - he announced his retirement today from baseball. He had a few other offers but the only team he was interested in (besides the Giants, natch) was St. Louis, his boyhood team, and they didn't return the interest. He decided that it's time to devote his life to his wife and two children. And like he said, he'll always be a Giant no matter what.

He is one of the greats in the history of the San Francisco Giants, certainly of the time I followed the team. He was the bumblebee of baseball - baseball science couldn't explain how he could win so many games consistently over such a long period of time with as little "stuff" as he had and thus sabers have denigrated his accomplishments - but Giants fans have appreciated his competitiveness and his ability to rise to the occassion when it was crunch time.

He was the quintessential competitor and there would have been no limits to what he could have accomplishment if he only had more skills. Still, he finished with a 130-92 record (.586 winning percentage) with a 4.27 ERA by being a cunning pitcher and utilizing all his abilities, particularly his one good skill, keeping his walk rate below 3.0 (good pitchers have rate below 3.0) for most of his good years. Thanks for all the great memories Woody!

Giants Mailbag: Wright Stuff?

Rich Draper gave some interesting news in his latest Giants Mailbag, assuming it is true. In it he noted that if Brad Hennessey wins the #5 spot, Jamey Wright will head to the bullpen for long relief or spot starts. "Wright seems assured of sticking." That's shocking news from a number of fronts.

I know that Wright has said this spring that he'll do whatever the team wants, start, long relief, whatever, but I took that for spring time exuberance from a newbie because the bullpen is pretty set with Fassero as long relief/spot starter: Benitez, Worrell, Kline, Walker, Fassero, plus two of Munter, Accardo, Taschner for 7 in the bullpen, 5 starting rotation, and 13 position players (8 starters, 5 bench). If Wright gets the long relief position, that probably means Fassero becomes a LOOGY and Taschner's probably out since Alou had raved about Munter before plus, more importantly, you don't really need 3 LOOGY's.

The only other option is trading away a reliever. Maybe Sabean is hoping to trade Tyler Walker to a team desperate for a closer after the other team's closer burns out sometime during spring training. That is the only way I see someone traded, no one will touch Benitez with that contract, it wouldn't make sense to trade away Kline again, Worrell just signed and there's probably a rule on trading away a signed free agent, and you can't get much in return for any of the youngsters so you may as well keep them and put them in AAA to start the season.

In any case, despite Hennessey doing very well thus far, I still feel that the Giants long term looks better if they stash Brad in AAA this year and let Wright earn his way onto the 2007 rotation. With Schmidt potentially out the door and Morris, Lowry, Cain potentially a great 1/2/3 for the next couple of years afterward, the Giants need a good 4/5 for 2007-8 and if Wright can produce for the Giants what he did on the road for his career (near 4 ERA), he would be a great #4 with Hennessey taking #5. And he would be a great #5, as well, for 2006 if he can produce that.

Plus Hennessey would be a great insurance policy in case any of the starters flame out during the season. That is a strong possibility. With Schmidt's and Morris' poor health history in the past and Lowry and Cain still very inexperienced at the major league level, plus who is the real Wright, any of them flaming out would allow Hennessey to come up and the rotation won't miss a beat much.

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