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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Giants Cut Valdez, Focusing on Catcher

The Giants made a move Thursday to officially get their 40-man roster set after the addition of Aubrey Huff. The odd man out was Merkin Valdez, who was designated for assignment by the Giants, but should have no problem finding a home before pitchers and catchers report to spring training in a little over a month.

I was a little surprised to see Merkin get released, as I still think he has potential to be a plus late-inning reliever in this league, but he's suffered continuous health problems during his tenure with the Giants. 2009 was actually his longest stint in the majors in his career so far, and he didn't do much too impress the Giants' brass. He finished the year with a 5.66 era and a 1.72 WHIP. A lot of people close to the organization, myself included, expected big things for Merkin in '09 after he sparkled in his brief stint in the 2008 season ( 1.69 era, 14 k's and a .237 BAA in 16.1 IP). As the centerpiece in the trade the sent Russ Ortiz to the Atlanta Braves back in 2003, Valdez never lived up to the hype in San Francisco, and I think a change of scenery could probably do him some good. I'm not too surprised with the move either, though there were a few others that I would have rather seen DFA'd than Valdez. I don't think Ryan Rohlinger really has much of a future with this club, and the same can be said for Matt Downs. Even though Valdez struggled last year, he still has a power arm, and is still just 28 years old, so he very well could turn into a solid Major League releiver in due time, but it won't be in San Francisco.

The guy taking Valdez's roster spot, Aubrey Huff, officially joined the Giants on Wednesday. During the conference call that introduced Huff, Brian Sabean also hinted that the Giants are planning to enter serious negotiations with former Giant catcher, Yorvit Torrealba. The 31 year-old backstop is running out of options, as his contract demands placed him out of the Rockies plans and they went with Miguel Olivo to team up with Chris Ianetta. Torrealba doesn't really excite me whatsoever, even as just a stop-gap for Buster Posey. If Sabean wants to add a catcher so Posey isn't forced into a starting spot by default, I'd like to see them go after Rod Barajas. I think Torrealba's a good guy to have on a team and all, but he's a vastly overrated player. He put together a few clutch hits during the Rockies post-season run in 2007, but looking at his stats over the years, both defensive and offensive, he really hasn't been all that good. I don't want to start bashing Yorvit, but there just isn't one particular area of his game that is very good. His career average sits at .255, he doesn't hit for power or drive in runs, and he really isn't anything special defensively. I read somewhere a few days ago that Torrealba sports one of the lowest percentages at throwing out attempted base-stealers in the National League over the last few years. I know he comes to the ballpark each day ready to play, he's a positive presence in the clubhouse and comes up with the occasional clutch hit, but stats don't really lie, and his aren't that good.

Rod Barajas at least brings power, drives in runs and keeps teams from running crazy on him. Once Posey is ready, he could become a right-handed power bat off the bench and even play some first base. Barajas doesn't hit for a high batting average, but would bring nearly identical run production numbers compared to what Bengie Molina did. He also is a little quicker on the base-paths than Bengie. He's done a good job with Toronto's pitching staff, as he's caught Cy Young winner Roy Halladay and has helped develop some of the younger arms for Toronto, such as Ricky Romero and Brett Cecil. Not saying that I'd be excited to see Barajas join the team, I like the idea of throwing Posey into the fire and see if he responds like Pablo Sandoval did in 2008, but since the Giants seem insistent on adding another backstop, I think Barajas is the best options for this team right now. He'll provide power to a lineup that still could use it, even after adding Aubrey Huff and Mark DeRosa, he'll call a good game and can slide into the back-up role when Posey officially arrives full-time. I just see more positives in his game than I do in Torrealba's, or any of the other sub-par free agent catching options that are still looking for a home.
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6 Comments:

  • At 9:35 AM, Blogger King of Cali said…

    I like Merkin. I'm sure he will get picked up by some team. He's got great stuff. Just needs to learn how to get movement on his pitches.

    ~King of Cali
    All The Latest SF Giants Rumors!
    http://www.sfgiantsbaseball.net

     
  • At 12:05 PM, Anonymous hitnrun said…

    Bochy must think that Posey is not ready to take over, so they are looking at a vet. I agree that Barajas is a better choice over Yorvit, because of his power, and the ability to throw out runners at a better pace than Torrealba, although Sabean will probably sign Torrealba, since he hit the Giants well last year. Since they just released Valdez, now they need a right handed relief arm, are they looking at Calero? Not that excited about Chan Ho Park.
    Trevor, besides Downs and Rohlinger, don't they need to decide what to do with Frandsen or Burriss? They seem to have a glut of infielders who cannot hit.

     
  • At 4:14 PM, Blogger Schruender said…

    I bet Sabean knows something we do about the personalities of Barajas and Yorvit. A huge part of this signing is probably just trying to get someone to mentor Posey and someone who would understand that his role will change as the season progresses.

     
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