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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

2008 Mock Roster #3

There really hasn't been much going on with the Giants since they signed Aaron Rowand a few weeks ago and it doesn't look like much will happen until after the new year. Even though the off-season is starting to wind down, the Giants are nowhere near complete and Sabean is going to have to be active in the month of January in order to tune this team up. Here is my 3rd (and possibly final) installment of the 2008 mock roster postings, the first since the Aaron Rowand signing.

Trade: To St. Louis: lhp Noah Lowry, of Dave Roberts, of Fred Lewis and if Rich Aurilia - To Giants: 3b Scott Rolen, of/1b Chris Duncan and $12 million (1/3 of Rolens' remaining 3 years and $36 million)

FA Signings: 1b Tony Clark (1 yr. $3 million + incentives), Freddy Garcia (1 yr. $2 million guaranteed + incentives), Akinori Otsuka (2 years, $10 million + incentives, mutual option for 3rd year)

Lineup
RF Randy Winn
LF Nate Schierholtz/Rajai Davis
1B Chris Duncan
3B Scott Rolen
CF Aaron Rowand
C Bengie Molina
2B Ray Durham
SS Omar Vizquel

Bench
1B Tony Clark
IF Kevin Frandsen
IF-OF Eugenio Velez
C Elezier Alfonzo
OF Rajai Davis/of/1b Dan Ortmeier

Rotation
RHP Matt Cain
LHP Barry Zito
RHP Tim Lincecum
RHP Kevin Corriea
RHP Freddy Garcia/LHP Jonathon Sanchez

Bullpen
RHP Brian Wilson (closer)
RHP Akinori Otsuka
RHP
Tyler Walker
RHP
Brad Hennessey
LHP Jack Taschner
LHP Steve Kline
LHP Jonathon Sanchez/RHP Vinnie Chulk

The Giants were looking at free agent Kris Benson last week, which could indicate that a Lowry trade may still be in the works. If that's the case and they're looking to take on a project, I would rather see them take a flyer on Freddy Garcia, who is a legit #2 when healthy. I doubt the Cardinals are looking to part with Duncan, but they desperately want to get rid of Scott Rolen and if the Giants include Lowry, they might be able to pry Duncan away as well. They also have Colby Rasmus and Rick Ankiel who they have higher expectations for. The Cards also need infielders and could have interest in Aurilia who can play all over the diamond (also played well in the NL Central in '05-'06). Roberts would give them a capable leadoff hitter now that they've lost David Eckstein. I'm not an advocate of trading Lowry, but I think it's only a matter of time before it happens and getting a guy like Duncan in return would make it a lot less painful than getting a guy like Hideki Matsui. Duncan is only 26 and has the type of left-handed power that can hit 30+ home runs at AT&T Park. The trade of Roberts would open up a spot for Schierholtz and Davis. My proposed lineup, if healthy, would actually be a decent lineup and put up some runs. Not a ton of speed, but more athleticism than past lineups as Bengie Molina is the only guy who doesn't run well. The Giants have expressed interest in Tony Clark and in this scenario could mentor Chris Duncan at 1b. The rotation would still be a strength, even with the loss of Lowry. The bullpen would be stronger with the addition of a healthy Otsuka, but Sabean is ignoring the pen again this winter so I'm not expecting any big changes.

Previous mock rosters:
Mock #1
Mock #2

*The Giants Baseball Blog would like to wish all our readers a Happy Holidays!*
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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Giants Top 10 Prospects

Baseball America recently listed the Giants' top 10 prospects heading into 2008. The most surprising thing about this list is how many players it contains from the 2007 amateur draft. That just goes to show you how thin the Giants' farm system is when 4/10 of the prospects listed were in high school at this time last year. Here is a short rundown of the players who were listed and my quick take on them, as well as a few guys who didn't make the list but should be watched as well:

1. Angel Villalona, 3b- The 17 year-old is still at least 3 years away, but is the Giants' equivalent to what Miguel Cabrera was for the Marlins when he was coming up. He's playing 3rd now, but could move to first by the time he reaches the bigs. Easily the best Giants' positional prospect in the last 15 years and he's still just 17. Only Giants' prospect to make baseball's top 50 list.
2. Tim Alderson, rhp- Scouts feel the Giants' 2nd overall pick from '07 could be the first of the class to reach the majors. Has been starting, but could be a future closer because of wacky delivery and overpowering stuff.

3. Madison Bumgarner, lhp- #10 overall pick signed late and didn't pitch any professional ball this summer. Expectations will be big in '08 for the hard throwing lefty. The Giants expect him to be on a similar time frame to Matt Cain as far as reaching the bigs, which means we probably won't see him until 2010.

4. Nate Schierholtz, of- Always has hit .300, but power and patience haven't showed up at the big league level yet. He will get more ab's in 2008, but has to show improvement in those areas to be a starter at this level.

5. Henry Sosa, rhp- One of the most intriguing arms in this system. I really like the potential this kid has. The 22 year-old rightie has Francisco Liriano stuff, (2.44 era, 11 wins, 139 k's in 126 ip in A), and made the futures game in '07. He has the best fastball in the system and should be kept in the rotation.
6. Nick Noonan, 2b/ss- Another first rounder from the '07 draft had a solid season in the rookie league. Not much power, but a good contact hitter with a solid glove. Baseball America believes he's the Giants' most disciplined hitter in their system.

7. Eugenio Velez, of/2b- I'm surprised he made this list. He's a solid player and still has upside, but he's almost 26 and has moved past the prospect phase. Should bring value to the Giants as a super utility guy with premier speed in 2008.

8. Wendell Fairley, of- I really liked this pick when the Giants made it in June, I think this guy was one of the best athletes in the draft and should be a future star. He has Carl Crawford and Grady Sizemore type athleticism and potential, hopefully he can reach it.

9. John Bowker, of- 24 yr. old hit 22 home runs in AA last season and was the Giants top power hitter in the minors. Will probably start the year in Fresno and could get a shot at some point in '08 but he's got about 6-7 guys ahead of him on the depth chart right now.

10. Emmanuel Burriss, ss- The potential heir apparent to Omar Vizquel has a lot of glove and speed but has yet to show the bat to get him out of Low A ball. Had a good Fall League showing though and could be destined for a big 2008 season in AA.

Guys who didn't make it to keep an eye on
:

Travis Denker, 2B- Obtained in the Mark Sweeney trade in August. He has always shown a good bat with some power and a good glove. He's been compared to Marcus Giles because of his height and power potential. Excelled with San Jose after the trade (.400, 1hr 9 rbi in 7 games). Hasn't done much yet beyond single A, but is only 22 and still has some time.

Sergio Romo, rhp- The 24 year-old rightie had about as good of season as one could have in 2007. He dominated the California League for San Jose this summer to the tune of a 6-2 record, a 1.36 era, and a k/bb ratio of 106/15 in 66 innings pitched. Then he went on to the AFL and pitched even better against tougher competition. Could see the bigs as soon as the second half of the '08 season.

Kelvin Pichardo, rhp- Another hard throwing righty who struck out over 1.5 batters per inning in the low minors last season. The 22 year-old moved up to AA late in the year and continued throwing well. Still has some control issues, but has a very live arm with huge potential.
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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Giants Sign Rowand

The Giants made their first big move of the offseason Wednesday, signing Aaron Rowand to a 5 year, 60 million dollar contract to be the teams new center fielder. If you've followed the Giants closely this offseason, you could see this one coming. Rowand had a career year last season (.309, 27, 89, 105) and was a major part in the Phillies winning the NL East. I thought that Rowand was set to be overpaid this winter due to the way he played last year and to the fact that he was one of the top 3 outfielders available on a weak free agent market this winter. I really didn't want to see the Giants pursue him whatsoever. However, after seeing the terms of the deal, and comparing that to what Andruw Jones and Torii Hunter got, the Giants actually got themselves a real solid player for a decent deal. In comparison, Rowand is 2 years younger than Hunter, possesses a better career average and OPS, and he's signed at 2/3 of the price. The 5 years is a little too long, but 12 million annually for an all-star, gold glove center fielder who can hit and has just entered his prime isn't a bad deal. One of Rowand's best attributes is his all-around hustle and hard-nosed approach to the game. That is something that Giants' fans are going to notice about him right off the bat, and they're going to enjoy watching him play. There are some people who are concerned that his production was a byproduct of playing 1/2 his games Citizens Bank Park, but his home/road splits where actually very similar to each other. It's not likely that he's going to hit 27 home runs a year playing at AT&T Park(probably more around 20-25) but don't expect his production to see much of a drop-off besides that.

I have done my fair share of Sabean bashing this offseason, but I can't rip him to hard for this move. He did add another center fielder to a team full of young outfield options who should get a shot to play, but it goes a little beyond that. This offseason was working itself in a direction where the Giants were beginning to put themselves in a corner. They need offense in a bad way, probably more than any other team in baseball. Aaron Rowand was the last "impact bat" on the free agent market, and if the Giants had missed out on him they would have had to part with a Cain or Lincecum to get someone of his caliber through a trade. For those reasons, Rowand had a ton of leverage in negotiations with Giants, and they still got him for a relatively good deal. This by no means is a move that will save this team or reshape this offense, but they had to start somewhere and signing Rowand is not a bad start. The Giants did already have depth in the outfield but quantity doesn't equal quality. No Giant outfielder has the credentials or the offensive ability that Rowand brings. I also wouldn't be surprised to see the logjam in the outfield break up a little with a trade or two. There is still a lot of work to do before the team breaks for camp in February, but the team is better than it was yesterday and they now get to hang onto their 2 young studs.
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Friday, December 07, 2007

Lots of Talk, Little Action at the Meetings

The Winter Meetings came and went with very little action to speak of on the Giants' front. A ton of talk and rumors, but no moves materialized. The Giants did however offer Pedro Feliz arbitration and unless he gets his coveted 3 year offer from some team, it looks like he will accept arbitration and return to the Giants for yet another season. The Giants just can't seem to get rid of this guy. Now they have filled up a spot where they had a chance to improve at. Without having 3rd base as an option to acquire a bat, it also increases the chances of a Tim Lincecum/Alex Rios trade (which is still on the table) or a Noah Lowry/Hideki Matsui trade. This offseason is slowly getting worse as it moves along. At this point, Sabean should just hold onto his pieces and try his best to fix the bullpen. They're building around their starting pitching and the best way they can help that this winter is to add arms to the bullpen. Remember all those games that Matt Cain ended up losing or getting no decisions for because of the faulty bullpen? Rebuilding the offense isn't a realistic possibility this winter, but fixing the bullpen is. Why Sabean constantly continues to avoid fixing it is beyond me. There are still some decent relievers available who could come in and be upgrades. Jeremy Affeldt, Luis Vizcaino, Eric Gagne, Shawn Chacon and Ron Mahay are guys that could help this team. I'd take Affeldt and Vizcaino over Taschner and Chulk in a heartbeat.

I was just watching some extended video of Kosuke Fukudome for the first time and I wouldn't be opposed to see Sabean push hard after him. I didn't want to see the Giants dip too heavily into free agency this winter, but Fukudome is starting to make some sense. He's got lightning-quick bat speed, and although he's not real big, it's easy to see how he generates power. He's not going to be as dominant of a hitter in America that he was in Japan, but in AT&T, with his style of game, could still do well in the extra base hit department. I could see him hitting well over .300 with 20 homers and 40-50 doubles while providing gold glove caliber defense in right. He also appears to be a real patient hitter, and hits well to all fields. Some scouts say he will turn out similar to Aki Iwamura from the Devil Rays, who showed good contact but very little power in his first season in the US. He reminds me a little more of Hideki Matsui because of his bat speed, plus he's bigger and stronger than Iwamura. The Giants were said to be one of the top 3 or 4 teams in pursuit of Fukudome during the week in Nashville. If they could get him for a 3 year $35-40 million deal, it might not be that bad of a risk. It would beat trading away one of the franchises' cornerstone arms for a bat. He and Mike Lamb are the only free agent position players who I'd consider signing at this point. I'd look to Lamb only as a fallback if Feliz declines and they can't pull off a deal for a guy like Joe Crede or Edwin Encarnacion.
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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Winter Meetings Preview

Baseball's annual winter meetings start on Monday, and according the the Giants beat writers, the team is expected to be active. We should have a much clearer picture of what the 2008 San Francisco Giants will look like after the meetings. The Giants' main goal is to come out of the meetings with a middle of the order type young hitter without giving up Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and preferably Noah Lowry. Brian Sabean also said the team is trying to steer clear of the free agent market, so Andruw Jones (though I have a weird feeling he could be a Giant) and Aaron Rowand don't seem to be in the mix. I highly doubt they are going to deal Cain or Lincecum, even with all the Miguel Cabrera rumors flying around. Therefore, if they want to get a young and somewhat proven player, which would be ideal, the would have to part with at least Lowry. There are many of teams that would love to deal for a 27 year old, winning left-hander who is under contract for 3 more seasons. Not only that, but he was having a breakout year and was on pace to win 17+ games last season, before his injury, pitching for one of the worst teams in the league. Say what you want about his slightly high WHIP or low strikeout total, the fact is he gets people out when it counts, doesn't give up many runs and most importantly he wins. The Giants should have very high standards for Lowry, who in this market could very easily command a multi-year deal worth $12 million a year (currently due $12 million total over next 3 years).

The Giants are looking for a young 3rd basemen who can hit in one of the 3-4-5 slots. A couple 3rd basemen who I'd consider parting with Lowry for are Colorado's Garret Atkins and Cincinnati's Edwin Encarnacion. Both the Rockies and Reds are looking for starting pitching, and I'm sure they would be willing to part with either of those guys for a package that included Noah Lowry. The St. Louis Cardinals have also expressed interest in Lowry in the past and if the Giants could get Chris Duncan and another youngster (Brad Thompson, Anthony Reyes) for Lowry, than I'd also consider a deal like that. The Devil Rays have a plethora of young hitters, but after dealing Delmon Young for Matt Garza earlier this week, it's doubtful they are looking to deal another one. If the Giants aren't going to get a young player who they can control for a few years, then they should keep their rotation intact and consider letting their own players have a shot in 2008.
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