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Friday, October 28, 2005

Giants First Off-season Moves

The Giants excercised their options on Jason Schmidt and Randy Winn on Thursday. LaTroy Hawkins, Moises Alou, and Ray Durham all decided to return to the Giants in '06 as well. Non of these moves should come as a surprise. If they wanted to get rid of Schmidt they would have done it in July. Randy Winn could do no wrong once he put on a Giants uniform. Brian Sabean wants to sign Winn to an extension before the '06 season starts. Winn will be making 5 million this year, and so he'll probably command about that in an extension. I'd say a 3 year, 15 million dollar deal sounds pretty good. Ray Durham is as fragile as they come, but when he's healthy he's an offesive force. The Giants need to figure out a way to keep him healthy, because he's sticken around for another year. LaTroy Hawkins may finally rebound now that he has a legit closer behind him and he will never be asked to close. He has such a live arm, but I can't help but think Felix Rodriguiz every time he takes the mound for the Giants. Moises Alou should be more productive next year with Barry Bonds around the whole season, but Alou has injury issues of his own. He missed significant time down the stretch and throughout the year due to nagging injuries. Sure he hit .320, but 19 home runs and 63 rbi was a huge drop off from his '04 campaign in Chicago. The Giants now have close to 80 million dollars already locked up for next year. They need to deal some contracts if they want to think about a left-handed run producer or a #2 starting pitcher. Sabean has a tough winter ahead of him. The Giants also re-signed lefty reliever Jeff Fassaro to a 1 year, $750,000 contract.

The Golden State Warriors start their season in less than a week and for the first time since they drafted (traded for) Antawn Jamison in 1998 I'm looking forward to Warrior basketball. This team has been terrible for so long, but after the trade for Baron Davis, it's like this franchise was reborn. They went on a tear last year to finish off the season. I tuned into games actually expecting the Warriors to win. Barron Davis is a stud and he's going to be an all-star. Him and Jason Richardson make one of the most exciting back courts in all of the league. Their frontline is on the rise. Mike Dunleavey is looking more mature and polished, and Troy Murphy is always good for a double double. Ike Diogu was drafted to provide some points in the paint and I think he'll fit in great. The Warriors are going to have a hard time keeping him out of the line-up. Mikeal Pietrus and Zarko Cabakaba are 2 bench guys that have tons of abitity. Pietrus could start for a lot of teams in the league, and he may be a guy who is used as trade bait in February if the Warriors need something. All in all I'm stoked for the season to start. If they were in the East, I'd put them as a lock to make the playoffs, but they're not, so they are going to have to knock off some pretty good teams to get there. If I had to guess right now, I'd say if Davis stay's healthy for 60+ games, they make the 8th seed.

Chicago White Sox are the 2005 World Series Champs as they defeat the Houston Astros in 4 games. I was totally wrong about this team. I thought they would choke in the first round and they ended up sweeping the series. It was the first time I got to take an extensive look at the Chi Sox and they are a damn good team. If they bring back Paul Konerko, they should be in the thick of it next year as well. With the White Sox winning it all, it now leaves the Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants as teams with the biggest championship droughts. I could go for an '06 world series match up that looks like this: San Francisco Giants vs. Cleveland Indians.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Coaching Carousel on the Horrizon?

The Giants recently invited all their coaches back for the 2006 season, but it doesn't look like a lock that they will all return. Last thursday, Giants' bench coach Ron Wotus was interviewed by the Dodgers regarding their Managerial position. Also, pitching coach Dave Righetti is on the Yankee's radar as a possible replacement for Mel Stottlemyre. I doubt Wotus will land the Dodger job, but New York may be a good fit for Rags. He had some of his most successful seasons in his career pitching for the Yankees. The Yankees haven't asked for permission to speak to Righetti yet, but If Raggs were to leave, it would open up a door for Mark Gardner to possibly take over as the pitching coach. I don't think a change would be all that bad. Outside of Russ Ortiz, there is no pitcher who came up under Righetti who has had a really solid career. As far as Wotus is concerned, many viewed him as next in line on the Giants managerial list, it's not too surprising he's getting calls. He's well respected around the game, but I think the Dodgers will get a higher profile guy to take over there in LA. The LA Times is reporting that Terry Collins has emerged as the favorite to get the job, but there are still interviews to be conducted. Either way, both coaches are expendable, so don't be too amazed or worried if the Giants let one or both of them go. Brian Sabean said he was surprised that it has taken this long for a team to contact about Wotus, and he wonders why more teams don't call about other guys in the organization such as advanced scout Jack Hiatt. Why would teams be jumping all over Jack Hiatt? In his 14 seasons here, he's churned out only a handful of Major Leaguers. I haven't seen an organization that struggles this bad developing hitters. This team hasn't produced an everyday player since Bill Mueller.

The Arizona Fall league has started and the Giants have a few players playing there who should be on the big league roster next season, I will keep you updated on what they do throughout the Fall. Jeremy Accardo, Justin Knoedler, Brian Burres, Kevin Frandsen and Daniel Ortmier are all playing for the Mesa Solar Sox. Frandsen, a 23 year-old second basemen, is considered the teams top infield prospect. He shot through the system last season starting in Singe A and ending it as the starting 2nd basemen for AAA Fresno. There is a solid chance he could be Durham's main back-up next season, and that means he should see plenty of time. There is little doubt Accardo will be on he roster opening day. The kid showed a lot of upside in his 1st year and many in the organization feel he could close some day soon. Burres, Ortmier and Knoedler are likely to start the year in Fresno, but as Knodler and Ortmier showed in September, they could be the first guys to be called up.

The NLCS is starting to get interesting. Albert Pujols did some legendary work in game 5. Great players play great in big games and Pujols showed it. I still like the Astros' chances even though it's headed back to Busch. You can't throw out 2 tougher right-handers in the game then they are set to do over the next 2 games. I can't see the Cards getting them twice. I'm also rooting for Houston now. Right-fielder Jason Lane went to the same high school as me and I think that would be cool if an old school alum won a world series ring. Either way this world series should keep us a lot more entertained then last years. Talk about a steam-rolling, the Cards were hopeless in the fall classic last year. Just as long as A.J. Pierzynski isn't celebrating when it's all said and done. I can't stand seeing this guy get praised for the heads-up play he made. This guy would rather play cards in the clubhouse then go over an opposing batting order, that tells you where his heads at.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Off-Season Can't Come Fast Enough.

Well, here we are, right in the thick of the Major League baseball playoffs, and for the second dissapointing season in a row, no San Francisco Giants. It's tough for me to become excited about the playoffs when the Giants aren't in it, but I'm a diehard baseball fan, so I still tune in and have interest. As much as it still hurts me to say, I was picking the Angels to go all the way this year, and still am even though they are currently down 2-1 to the Chi Sox and are without their ace for the rest of the series. If the Angels don't go, I predict the winner to come from the NL, I'm still not sold on the White Sox. The NLCS is very evenly matched, and tough to pick, but I think Houston's pitching may prevail.

Enough about the post-season for now. The world series is right around the corner, so that means we are inching closer and closer to the offseason. This is going to be a very interesting winter for Brian Sabean. Right of the bat, as soon as the series is over, the Giants will have to make decisions on Jason Schmidt who holds a 10 million dollar option and Randy Winn who holds a 5 million dollar option. Both are expected to return, and Winn is expected to ink a long-term deal before the start of the '06 season, but Schmidt is an intersting subject. He has steadily declined over the last year dating back to the end of the '04 season. He didn't pitch like an ace this year and didn't show he's worth the 10 million but the Giants don't have many other options, he's still their ace. Also, top lefty reliever Scott Eyre, J.T. Snow and Brett Tomko are all scheduled for free agency this winter and only Eyre looks to have a decent shot at returning. On the field, the position where I feel the Giants can improve most this winter is at first base. Lance Niekro emerged last year, but he still has big holes against right-handed pitching and has shown to be quite injury prone in his proffesional career. Snow would be nice to have back as a late inning replacement and part-timer, but I doubt he will go for that. 2 guys who may be available who I think fit in nicely are Lyle Overbay from the Brewers and Aubrey Huff from the Devil Rays. Either would be perfect in front of Barry Bonds and Moises Alou. Overbay may become very expandable in Milwaukee after the solid play of Prince Fielder. Of course everybody wants to trade Durham and Alfonzo, but there's a reason why that hasn't happened. Believe me, if the Giants found a taker for Alfonzo, they'd jump on it, but the guy plays like he's 55 years old and is becoming worse each year. There isn't much of a market there.

Pitching wise, I like how the young rotation is shaping up although I still think they need another veteran to come in and be a #2 behind Schmidt and in front of Noah Lowrey and Matt Cain. A few guys who are due for free agency who may spark some interest are Matt Morris and Jerrod Washburn. Both can eat innings and have some valuable post-season experience. Sabean knew he over-estimated his starting pitching last season, I highly doubt he makes the same mistake 2 years in a row. As far as the Pen, which was once this teams biggest downfall this season, could be the teams biggest strength next season. Benitez should be healthy and hungry and those youngters like Jeremy Accardo, Scott Munter, and Jack Taschner who really stepped up big this season, will be back for their first full seasons with the big club. If the Giants bring back Eyre, and LeTroy Hawkins can revert (somewhat) back to his Minnesota days, this bullpen could be the class of the NL.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________