Waiting for Boof
Blog devoted to the San Francisco Giants
     Wednesday, February 26, 2003
 

Future at First



Letter-writing campaigns and picket lines can only go so far. At some point, Giants' fans will have to accept this will be J.T. Snow's last year on the team, and that it might be a decent time to go window shopping for first base possibilities of the future.

Snow's defense, on average, saved the Giants fourteen runs per inning, so there's going to be some big shoes to fill. The list of free agent first basemen after this season is less than thrilling. Rafael Palmiero is the only player who could be considered a prize, but he'll be 50, and should probably stay in the A.L. with an option to be a designated hitter. After Palmiero, the next best first baseman free agent will be Fred McGriff. Eric Karros isn't that far from the top of the list. After years of a powerless J.T. Snow, the Giants would want lightning in a bottle; the free agents of 2003 are a belch in a hairnet.

So the Giants have two realistic options. They can hope Tony Torcato or Lance Niekro will be almost adequate for a year, and wait for the much more impressive batch of free agents after the 2004 season. The other option is to fill the hole through a trade, which is more likely considering Brian Sabean's track record.

The idea of filling the vacancy through the minors took a hit with the news that Deivis Santos is going to come to spring with a new age, and a new name. I'm going to guess "34" and "Agatha". These revelations most likely erased him from the team's long term plans. A 23-year old who holds his own in the Texas League, even if he doesn't walk, is someone to keep an eye on. If he's 26, however, then his hitting in AA wasn't very impressive at all. Maybe Torcato or Niekro will show signs of improvement in Fresno this year, but both are longshots at this point to be even average hitters by 2004, let alone average first basemen.

If the team really wants to secure the spot for the next few years, it has to get creative. It's easy to identify first basemen that would look nice in a Giants' uniform, but it's a little harder to find first basemen who can hit, aren't outrageously expensive, and have teams looking to trade them. Players like Carlos Delgado and Mike Sweeney make too much money. Richie Sexson will be available someday, but not just yet, and is likely to be overpriced when he is available.

Writing about a vacancy that won't come open for a year, anything can happen, but right now there's only one player that makes sense for the Giants: Derrek Lee.

The Marlins are suckers for young pitching, have two good first basemen coming up through the minors in Adrian Gonzalez and Jason Stokes, and know Lee is about to get pricey. I'd be surprised if he couldn't be had for a much more than a good young pitcher and a decent position prospect if traded after the season. If he were traded in the middle of the season, the price would be higher.

Pac Bell is a terrible place for left-handers, so if the Giants want power they should look at right-handed sluggers. With Lee, they'd get a young one entering his best years. He's never driven in 100 runs, and he's never hit more than 30 homers, so I don't see him requiring a contract out of the Giants' price range. There shouldn't be a huge list of possible bidders for Lee's services, either, should he become a free agent:

Teams with possible interest in Lee-

Anaheim
Baltimore
Boston
Seattle
Cincinnati
Atlanta
Los Angeles
Pittsburgh
St. Louis
San Francisco


Teams set at first and/or unwilling to spend -

Chicago (NL)
Kansas City
Arizona
Colorado
Detroit
Toronto
Tampa Bay
Chicago (AL)
Texas
Florida
Minnesota
Cleveland
Houston
Oakland
New York (AL)
Milwaukee
Montreal
New York (NL)
Philadelphia
San Diego

Of course, this list is very subjective, and more likely to be wrong than not. Casey Kotchman could develop perfectly for Anaheim, leaving them unwilling to tie up a long-term replacement. Maybe Prince Fielder or Corey Hart doesn't develop for Milwaukee, and they'll want to dip into the free agent market. But the main point - there isn't likely to be a huge bidding war for Lee - stands. That's without even mentioning the other first basemen who will be free agents after the 2004 season: Carlos Delgado, Richie Sexson, Jeff Kent, John Olerud, Kevin Millar, and others. Sexson should be the decoy the rich teams will scramble after, with Delgado not far behind.

If the Giants are interested, it seems like Derrek Lee could be had for a reasonable price. If they wait for a deadline deal to trade for him, the cost in personnel could be high, but it would be worth it if the team could sign Lee for his career peak. He's a consistent, healthy, and young power hitter who has already put up good numbers in an offense deflating park.

But if Barry Bonds starts to look like Todd Hundley in the outfield, forget you read this, because he'll finish his career at first. Then the speculation will begin for his outfield replacement....

posted by G at 1:09 AM





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     Saturday, February 22, 2003
 

The Bench



Bottom of the ninth, two outs, runner on third. Pitcher's spot coming up. Felipe Alou looks down at his bench. Neifi Perez sidles over, and says, "I'm ready, Skip." Pedro Feliz tries to make eye contact, straining to let his manager know he's the one for the job. Alou thinks for a moment, grabs a bat, and curses in French as he lopes to the plate.

Of course, I don't really believe Felipe Alou could outhit Feliz. Just against right-handers. The thoroughly uninspiring list of possibilities for the Giants' bench for 2003:

Damon Minor, L, 1B
Andres Galaragga, R, 1B
Yorvit Torrealba, R, C
Marvin Benard, L, OF
Tony Torcato, L, 1B/OF
Neifi Perez, "B", SS
Pete Happy, R, 3B

My ideal bench would consist of:

A multi-position guy who can handle shortstop, and swing the bat a little.
An outfielder with power.
A good defensive catcher; hitting is a major bonus, though not necessary.
A speedy outfielder, good for pinch-running and defensive replacement duties.
A player with a little pop, a little speed, and a little flexibility.

I'm cheating, because the bench I'm describing is that of the 2000 Giants. Ramon Martinez, Armando Rios, Doug Mirabelli, Calvin Murray, Felipe Crespo; now that's a bench. Any one of those five could hit a homer. Four could steal a base. Murray and Martinez could pound lefties, Rios and Crespo could pound righties. They were cheap and effective.

The current version is still up in the air, but looks to be unappealing. If they keep El Gato Grande they'll have a positionless wonder who could hit lefties well before he turned 41, and might be able to now. If they keep Damon Minor, they'll have a power threat against righties, but one who bats from the same side as the starting first baseman, and one who freaks me out when he grins at the plate.

I have no problems with Yorvit, as he's seemingly interchangable with Mirabelli, but has a much nicer future. Feliz can hit lefties, but has little use outside of being able to play third. If Galarraga makes the team, Feliz is redundant as a pinch-hitter. Torcato would be better off learning to work the count in Fresno, but if he makes the team he'd be a solid contact hitter off the bench. At this stage in his career, he seems like Kerry Robinson without the speed. Bernard is everything Rios was, but with little less pop and more speed. All in all, a solid fourth outfielder.

I'm not quite ready to talk about Neifi yet. Give it time.

There are wild-cards, like Ruben Rivera, or even Trey Lunsford in the case of injury, but it looks like the bench is going to come from five of the above seven players. Both Galarraga and Minor won't be on the team, unless Minor can play a surprisingly mean centerfield, which means the Giants will have bench power from either the right or left side. Neifi and Yorvit aren't hitters, and shouldn't come off the bench unless absolutely necessary. Of all the candidates, only Neifi can play multiple positions.

This is a projected bench with no real strategic advantages. It doesn't matter if they keep Minor or Galarraga, because either would likely bat against both the John Smoltzes and Billy Wagners of the world as the only power threat on the bench. The rest of the hitters aren't going to frighten anyone. The bench for the 2003 Giants is the team's weakest link, and, at the same time, should have been the easiest and cheapest problem to fix.

posted by G at 1:24 AM





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     Thursday, February 20, 2003
 

Woody? I don't see why not....



Kirk Rueter signed a two-year extension on Wednesday. I've professed my irrational attachment to The Eared One before, but I'm not sure of this deal. The easiest way for this team to keep costs down is to not overpay for pitching. With a pride of young pitchers ready this year, it seems a little goofy to throw millions at a guy like Rueter to stay until 2005. His ultimate upside is being an above-average pitcher. His downside is as a $5 million situational lefty.

However, the team now has a pleasant mess to wade through for the next couple of years. Jason Schmidt and Rueter are guaranteed to start if healthy and reasonably competent, leaving three of Ainsworth/Moss/Foppert/Williams for the last slots. Of those six pitchers, at least one is bound to fall to injury. If, say, Schmidt and Williams are injured, a rotation of Rueter/Ainsworth/Foppert/Moss/Jensen could still pass for a contender. If everyone stays healthy, however unlikely, and everyone progresses as hoped, the team will have far too many pitchers. There are worse fates.

What's more likely is that one or more of the above pitchers will be traded. Moss is the likeliest candidate, as he has a lower ceiling than the other options, a high perceived value, and a quickly escalating salary. Ainsworth is the prototypical Pac Bell pitcher, and I think the front office is keen to that. Foppert is as untouchable as a used condom crawling with red ants.

Williams could be the centerpiece of a blockbuster, but what positions are a question for the Giants? Edgardo Alfonzo, Ray Durham, Barry Bonds, and Todd Linden are being counted on for the next four years. Long term solutions for centerfield, catcher, shortstop and first base are what this team needs, with an emphasis on acquiring an impact outfielder in case Satan finds a receipt for Bonds' soul, and demands a refund.

I don't see Brian Sabean going for a young outfielder, even though the salary would be right. I also don't see many teams with major-league ready outfielders willing to part with them so quickly. Would the Mariners trade Chris Snelling for Williams? Maybe, but doubtful. Considering the Giants' pitching depth, it's a deal I would jump at, but Sabean might be hesitant to invest so heavily in "unproven" talent, and the Mariners really don't have a reason to make that trade.

With Rueter, the Giants have limited their financial flexibility, but gained flexibility in the way of possible roster movement. After an uncharacteristic free-agent binge, the team will need to reload with trades. If they can score two above-average, young players for the four possible holes in 2004 - outfielder/shortstop/catcher/first base - using pitching to secure them, it would be a team with tremendous potential.

Note: Because this is the most I've been excited about the Giants' future, they will most likely finish sub-.500 for the next five years. This will be karma for the team doing so well in 1997, when they had what appeared to be a bleak, bleak future.

Also, isn't it about time to rank the Rueter for Mark Leiter trade as one of the best in Giants history? Considering where the team was in their success cycle, and what Rueter provided, it has to be in the top five.


posted by G at 8:49 AM





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     Wednesday, February 19, 2003
 

Random Thoughts



1)Joe Nathan: Uninspired Bullpen Candidate. I wouldn't put Nathan on the team if it were a competition between him and Jeff Juden. Nathan is the owner of a 5.46 ERA in 556 innings above A-ball. I don't care if he's touching 92 again, he needs to have, at the very least, one decent season in the high minors before he is considered for a bullpen job in the majors. If he came up today, he'd be slotted right behind Greg Bruso on the organizational depth charts.

He's out of options, but would pass through waivers like a kidney stone shaped like Jason Kidd. Maybe he's a feel-good story waiting to happen, but he's much too risky for a team in contention.

2) Benito Santiago is not pleased to lose his batting spot from last year. Although he was arguably the worst number five hitter in the league last year, on a team where having a strong number five hitter is ludicrously important, he, uh...I can't think of a way to end that sentence. He had a surprisingly good year, and provided the Giants with a little offense from behind the plate. But Pat Burrell you ain't, Benito.

3) F.P. Santangelo, the type of player who could pull a .375 on-base percentage while hitting .160, is the new hitting coach for the San Jose Giants. I hope he's still around when Freddie Lewis makes his way through the system. If there's one thing the organization is lacking, it's someone pounding the idea of plate discipline into the heads of the kids. What would Lance Niekro look like if he had Santangelo as a coach coming up?

4) Just thinking about the Angels gives me gas, but Darin Erstad is one of the good ones. He listed the Dodgers as one of the four teams he'd refuse a trade to, specifically because he grew up a Giants fan. In related news, Scott Spiezio can still go fuck himself.

posted by G at 1:21 AM





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     Thursday, February 13, 2003
 

The Bullpen



Yesterday's stud reliever, Alan Embree for example, is today's walking seltzer bottle full of kerosene. He's so bad, he's traded for David Hasselhoff's cousin just to get him off your roster. Problem solved, except Embree is now a valuable member of the Red Sox' pagan, closerless bullpen.

Relief pitchers are a funny bunch. In 2000, I saw Robb Nen throw a bullpen session during Spring Training. He had surgery in the offseason, and he was pitching like Kirk Rueter without all that famed Rueter heat. He started that particular exhibition game, and was pounded. Obviously his career was over. All he did that season was finish with a 1.50 ERA, and 92 strikeouts in 66 innings.

Now Nen is coming off surgery again, and hoping his shoulder is just a big runny nose that needs to be blown every now and again. With everything cleaned up, he'll hopefully have his filthy slider back, as opposed to the ring-around-the-collar variety he showed up with last year.

Felix Rodriguez started slow last year, lost his setup job, disclosed an injury, heated up, and then ran out of gas in the playoffs. Actually, make that, "memorably ran out of gas in the playoffs." He's a better pitcher than Tim Worrell, so their roles should switch again. Both are good pitchers to have.

From the left side, Scott Eyre is not exciting, but he has a good history of getting lefties out, which is what he's paid for. Jason Christensen's elbow is being held together with duct tape and crossed fingers, so the team is leaning heavily on Chad Zerbe. An Eyre/Zerbe arrangement from the left side isn't going to give Todd Helton the heebie-jeebies and/or the willies, but they've both been consistently effective against left-handed batters.

In the wings in case of injury or Pooleitis, there's an interesting group of possible replacements. Luke Anderson could probably hold down a setup job, and Jeff Urban isn't a bad lefty to fall back on. The loser of the Kurt Ainsworth/Ryan Jensen battle will likely be the long reliever. Jesse Foppert has been mentioned as a bullpen candidate, which would be a smart way to adjust him to the majors.

Assuming Nen is at full strength, he will team with Rodriguez, Worrell, Eyre, Zerbe, and Jensen or Ainsworth for a nice-looking bullpen. The Giants should feel comfortable with the relief situation going into the season, but also keep in mind the Fable of Alan Embree.

posted by G at 4:29 PM





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     Wednesday, February 12, 2003
 

Random Thoughts



1) A comparison....

A lineup made from players discarded by the Giants this offseason:

Kenny Lofton, LF
Bill Mueller, 3B
David Bell, 2B
Jeff Kent, 1B
Reggie Sanders, RF
Ramon Martinez, SS
Tsuyoshi Shinjo, CF
Angel Pena, C

The 2003 Tampa Bay Devil Rays:

Carl Crawford, CF
Jason Conti, LF
Ben Grieve, RF
Aubrey Huff, 1B
Jared Sandberg, 3B
Toby Hall, C
Brent Abernathy, 2B
Rey Ordonez, SS

I'd take the ex-Giants, and I didn't even have to use my ace in the hole. No point to be made, really. It does give me an appreciation of how much of the roster Brian Sabean had to replace.

2) Henry Schulman, beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, noted there are "wild card" candidates for the fifth starter battle. The first is Mike Johnson. Yes, the Mike Johnson, who was voted unanimous pick as "2003's Most Likely Breakout Candidate" by the Johnson family.

The second minor league free agent, Brian Powell, would be enormously useful if the Arizona Diamondbacks decided to replace their starting lineup with that of the 1997 Brevard County Manatees. Because, let me tell you, Powell owned the Sea Cows back in the day.

3) In both the above article and another one for The Sporting News, Schulman drops Boof Bonser in the mix for the last pitching spot. Boof couldn't handle AA last year, so unless he developed a 95-mph knuckleball, he's not a major league pitcher yet . But if Boof has a great spring, is there someone in the organization pushing for him? Schulman knows the organization, so he's not just screwing up names like you'd expect from Glenn Dickey or Bruce Jenkins.

If Boof were to make the team, it would have a Joe Nathan, Part II stink about it. However, Nathan was the only prospect on a team lacking pitching, and Bonser is fourth on the organizational depth chart for right-handed pitchers. Mentioning Bonser as a candidate doesn't make sense.

For those of you scoring at home, Dickey referred to Rick Aurelia in the article linked to here. And Jenkins wrote about how Boof's silly name was a "disaster in the making", (I think John Sickels does most of his prospect work based on onomastics), and claimed Bonser pitched for Rice in the College World Series, even though the young hurler was drafted out of high school.

posted by G at 12:45 AM





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     Sunday, February 09, 2003
 

The Competition



If the Giants are blessed with good health, they will win the NL West. If Bonds goes down, they don't have a chance. If Alfonzo or Durham go down, they aren't going to do themselves any favors by playing Neifi Perez. However, there isn't a team in the NL West with depth, so the competition is in the same gondola.

What the other teams look like:

Dodgers

CF Dave Roberts
C Paul Loduca
RF Shawn Green
1B Fred McGriff
LF Brian Jordan
3B Adrian Beltre
2B Joe Thurston
SS Cesar Izturis

SP Odalis Perez
SP Andy Ashby
SP Kevin Brown
SP Kaz Ishii
SP Hideo Nomo

They've got good pitchers in Perez and Nomo, but who knows how Brown and Ishii will shake out? Perez didn't allow many hits at all last season, which is historically the type of thing a pitcher shouldn't count on. He's still a heck of a pitcher, though.

How the hell did this team win so many games last season? The entire infield was composed of players having bad offensive years. Thurston and McGriff should improve on Grudzndilnfiek and Karros, but they're not going to put this offense over the top.

Best case: Brian Jordan and Paul LoDuca come close to repeating their career years. Brown's back, and still an ornery SOB. Beltre finally breaks out.

My guess: Beltre breaks out, but the offense still stinks. Brown's finished.

Padres

CF Kotsay
2B Loretta
LF Nevin
1B Klesko
3B Burroughs
RF Trammell/Buchanan
C Rivera
SS Vasquez

SP Lawrence
SP Peavy
SP Eaton
SP Perez
SP ? (Nagy/Cordova/Tankersley/Jarvis)

That's an interesting set of players. I can see the offense doing well, and the pitching coming through, leading this team to a playoff charge. That defense looks terrible, though, and the bullpen's going to be without Trevor Hoffman for a while.

Most likely, next year's the year they really start to contend. But maybe, just maybe....


Diamondbacks

SS Womack
RF Bautista/McCracken
2B Spivey
LF Gonzalez
CF Finley
1B Grace/Overbay
3B Williams/Counsell
C Moeller/Barajas

SP Johnson
SP Schilling
SP Dessens
SP Kim
SP Batista

The one thing that terrifies me is if Byung-Hyung Kim makes the successful conversion to starting like Derek Lowe. Otherwise, I don't see it. I'll go out on a limb, and write that this team will be better at scoring runs than the Brewers, Pirates, and maybe the Marlins, but no one else. The two old-timers at the top of the rotation should keep them in contention, but I see them looking like the 2002 Red Sox without the offense.

Rockies

2B Butler/Belliard/Ozuna
CF Wilson
RF Walker
1B Helton
3B Hernandez
C Estalella
LF Cust/Kapler/Petrick/Payton
SS Uribe

SP Jennings
SP Neagle
SP Chacon
SP Stark
SP Cook

I dunno. This team could pound the bejeebus out of everyone in Coors and be so-so on the road, making for a contender. The pitching looks weak, to be generous, but it could be just enough. Could be, but won't be. The offense looks nice, but has a bigger downside than an upside.

My guess at the standings:

1. Giants
2. Diamondbacks
3. Rockies
4. Padres
5. Dodgers

Note: I never promised objectivity.

posted by G at 8:13 PM





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     Saturday, February 08, 2003
 

Random Thoughts



The 2004 lineup could be:

Durham, 2B
Aurilia, SS
Bonds, LF
Alfonzo, 3B
Cruz, CF
Linden, RF
Torcato/Niekro, 1B
Torrealba, C

With a staff of:

Schmidt
Moss
Foppert
Ainsworth
Williams

A lot would have to fall into place, but that could be a juggernaut. Counting on young pitchers is like hoping your insides won't corrode after a trip to Arby's; statistics and past history aren't in your favor, but there's never a dull moment. And we can look forward to a Tony Torcato and Lance Niekro platoon to continue the almost-mediocre stylings of J.T. Snow. Hooray?

posted by G at 4:25 PM





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Why the Russ Ortiz Trade Makes Sense



I was a little peeved when I heard about the Russ Ortiz trade, thinking he was going to be traded for an outfielder like Carlos Lee or J.D. Drew. He was eventually given up for a young pitcher, which is the only thing the Giants have plenty of. It seemed like a waste of resources.

But the trade was consummated in the early part of the off-season, and certainly looks better now. Ortiz was scheduled to make $4.4 million this year, which certainly isn't outrageous, but his 2004 price is $6 million. If he had arm troubles, or a poor season, the Giants were stuck with him, and $6 million can make a big difference in a budget. Just ask Brian Sabean about J.T. Snow.

That the Giants were able to wrest Damian Moss from the Braves was, in retrospect, astounding. The Braves couldn't give Kevin Millwood away, and the Giants snagged a young, cheap pitcher coming off a successful year for Ortiz. Now, Moss shouldn't expect to keep on having that kind of success unless he walks less, or strikes out more, but he is a reasonable risk to take. I certainly wouldn't trade him for what the Expos traded Bartolo Colon for.

The list of contracts the Giants can dump after this season is impressive. J.T. Snow, El Ballena Inmóvil Grande, Kirk Rueter, Marvin Benard, and Tim Worrell will free up about $20 million. Barry Bonds will get a $3 million dollar raise, as will Jason Schmidt. Edgardo Alfonzo's salary will go up by $2.5 million and Ray Durham's will go up $2 million, but there are no more substantial increases.

That's $20 million going out, and about $11 million in increases. Adding in the low salaries of the replacements for the departing players, it leaves enough to sign Rich Aurilia and, if he's worth it, enough to exercise the option on Jose Cruz, Jr. Or they can ignore Aurilia, and go after Vladimir Guerrero. Yeah, that's the ticket. With Ortiz making the salary he will in 2004, any additions would have most likely been out of the question.

The free agents for 2003 aren't the best looking bunch, and there's no perfect fit for the first base hole, but the Giants will have a few options. They'll have a few more than they would have with Ortiz, and that's why his being traded was a positive for this team.

Edit: Rueter's going to stick around. Have fun in a Yankee uniform, Vlad.

posted by G at 3:59 PM





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Shuffling the Rotation



Five rotation slots. Eight pitchers. It's not a bittersweet problem on the same scale as the Yankees, but it's interesting to think about.

Jason Schmidt

He's big, nasty and expensive. Expensive in the worth the risk sense, not the J.T. cost certainty sense. I love watching the guy pitch, even though he can suffer from brief cases of The Shawns. He could turn into Curt Schilling, but he could also turn into Dustin Hermanson. Good thing the team brought in Mark Gardner to coach. Maybe this Schmidt kid will learn to get some life in that fastball.

Kirk Rueter

I've been a Rueter addict since September,1997. It was the infamous two game series against the Dodgers, and Rueter struck out Todd Zeile in a crucial at-bat. He ran off the field screaming in triumph, with those big ol' ears of his flapping and flopping. I was sold. He won't be as good this year as he was last, but he'll always get a lot of slack from me.

Damian Moss


I don't know what to make of this guy. He gives up fly balls and walks, which would make Pac Bell a perfect place for him. But striking out 111 and walking 89 in 179 innings isn't going to work forever. If Righetti can help him find his control, even a little bit, he should be the equal of Russ Ortiz. If he starts to go Damian Van Mossingham...eek.

El Ballena Inmóvil Grande


He has value, just not on the Giants. The guy makes 2.5 million, so he's not exactly Mike Hampton. He can pitch 220 innings, and not be terrible. He could be the designated inning eater, and eclair eater, and chicken-fried steak eater, for a team with four young pitchers. If the Devil Rays plan on throwing Joe Kennedy, Dewon Brazelton and, uh, those other guys out there every day, their bullpen will overheat by May. Wheel Livan out there, and let him throw 140 pitches. Go on, he loves it. Every once in a while, he'll spin a gem too. That has value for a bad team.

The Somewhat Useful Ryan Jensen


The Somewhat Useful Ryan Jensen is a better fit for the rotation than Livan would be. He's young enough to inspire hope for improvement, no matter how slight, and he seems durable enough. His 2001 season in Fresno was outstanding, and he didn't embarrass himself last year. He shouldn't block Ainsworth.

Kurt Ainsworth


He's made a slow, steady rise since being a first round pick. I'd like to see him take the fifth starter slot, if only because I'm tired of waiting for him. He owns right-handed batters, but smells the joint up against the lefties, which means he should definitely ply his trade at Pac Bell.

Jerome Williams


He's barely 21, so there's no need to rush him. With the depth the Giants have, it'd be nice to see him dominate the Pacific Coast League before being handed a spot. It'd also be nice to see him do a Roy Oswalt impersonation in 2003, and make NL hitters look like idiots.

Jesse Foppert


Foppsy started pitching at the end of his University of San Francisco career, leaving him with little experience coming into 2003. I'd imagine he still needs work on the little things like pickoff moves, tipping pitches, and the like. Felipe Alou loves what he's heard, and is talking about putting him in the bullpen. Works for me. If he can get 80 innings in the majors this year, he can fill one of the two spots opened by Rueter and Livan's free agency for 2004.


So, how is this going to work? For 2003, I'll say:

Starting five-

Schmidt
Rueter
Moss
Livan
Ainsworth/Jensen

Bullpen
Jensen, if not 5th starter
Foppert, if Jensen is 5th starter

AAA

Williams
Ainsworth, if not 5th starter
Foppert, if Ainsworth makes the majors

For 2004:

Schmidt
Moss
Ainsworth
Williams
Foppert
(Jensen, if injury or suck-bug affects any of the above)

This kind of depth is nice to futz around with. With the other great arms the Giants have stashed away, it isn't out of the question for someone to catapult to the top of the depth chart with a Foppert-like year. It also isn't out of the question for torn labrums to start spreading like a rash. But the young pitching, combined with the long term infield solutions of Alfonzo and Durham, the development of Todd Linden, and the hopes of snagging a first baseman who can hit in 2004, all leave the future of the San Francisco Giants looking very interesting.

posted by G at 1:15 AM





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     Wednesday, February 05, 2003
 

Certainly New, Possibly Improved



Lineups mean nothing, really. That said, here's how I would stack the Giant lineup:

Durham, 2B
Snow, 1B
Bonds, LF
Alfonzo, 3B
Cruz, RF
Aurilia, SS
Santiago, C
Grissom/Benard, CF

Now, I know that J.T. Snow's clubhouse nickname is "6-4-3", and he runs like a drunken John Goodman, but he still would be my pick for the second slot in the order. His only above-average offensive skill at this point is his on-base ability, and that's not going do as much good at the bottom of the order. And if there's anyone who could use Barry Bonds behind him, it'd be the fading J.T.

Cruz and Aurilia are mirror images of each other, except I would be less surprised to see Cruz have the breakout year Aurilia had in 2001 than Aurilia himself.

Durham will be a real leadoff hitter, the Giants' first since Brett Butler. Durham's aptitude for getting on base has been slightly exaggerated, I think, but he's still one of the top offensive second basemen in the game today.

posted by G at 4:28 PM





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     Monday, February 03, 2003
 

Three Trades The Giants Should Make



1. Tampa Bay Devil Rays get: Damon Minor, Livan Hernandez, and $1 million

Giants get: Anything. Anything at all.

Why Tampa should do it: Damon Minor could fill the spot vacated by Steve Cox, and Livan can provide innings of almost-average pitching for about $2 million.

Why the Giants should do it: They would clear up the roster situation by tossing in Minor. Getting El Ballena Inmóvil Grande off the roster, and off the payroll, opens a slot for Jesse Foppert, Ryan Jensen, or Jerome Williams. I'd be surprised if any of those pitchers couldn't outperform Livan.


2. St. Louis Cardinals get: Felix Rodriguez

Giants get: Eli Marrero

Why the Cards should do it: With Dave Veres and Rick White gone, the Cards need a setup man.

Why the Giants should do it: Creaky Knees Santiago won't be around next year, and Yorvit Torrealba doesn't seem like more than a backup. Marrero would help the bench in 2003, and help the lineup in 2004. Trading Felix would decimate the bullpen's depth, but they would get under budget, and they could do the following....

3. Tigers get: Boof Bonser and Pete Happy

Giants get Franklyn German

Why the Tigers should do it: Relief pitchers are swell, but you win or lose with your starters. Bonser might need a year or two before he's ready, but he'd be one of the best pitching prospects in the Tiger organization. Feliz might actually be useful for the Tigers, who are sticking their collective fingers in their ears, singing "la la la la la la", and expecting Dean Palmer to play third.

Why the Giants should do it: The Giants have right-handed starters coming out of their ears, but lack a ready top-shelf relief prospect. German is young, cheap, and could slide into Felix Rodriguez' role. I doubt Nen will be back after this season, unless he takes a drastic pay cut, and German provides a fallback option. Getting rid of Feliz clarifies the roster even further.

posted by G at 12:54 AM





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     Saturday, February 01, 2003
 

No, No, I Meant the Big Litter Box



There's always room for The Big Cat on the team, I suppose. He didn't hit very well last year for the Expos, but he's worth a shot, if only because he's a popular player. I hope he is the right-handed power threat we need off the bench, but I've got a bad feeling this is going to turn out to be Eric Davis, part II.

With the signing of Galaragga, the roster situation is a little muddled. Here's my guess as to what the 25-man roster will look like at the start of the season:

Starters-

Durham, 2B
Aurilia, SS
Bonds, LF
Alfonzo, 3B
Cruz, RF
Snow, 1B
Santiago, C
Grissom, CF

Bench-

Benard, OF (L)
Perez, Wasted Spot (B)
Torrealba, C (R)
Galaragga, "1B" (R)
Torcato, OF/Emer. INF (L)

Rotation -

Schmidt
Reuter
Moss
El Ballena Inmóvil Grande
Ainsworth

Bullpen -
Jensen (Long relief)
Worrell
Eyre
Zerbe
Felix
Nen


That set up would mean that Damon Minor and Pete Happy would have to disappear. The only variation I could see would be for Torcato to go to Fresno, and Feliz to take his place. That, however, would leave Benard to be the best lefty pinch hitter, which is a disturbing thought.

posted by G at 11:13 AM





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