The Giants just aren’t very good. It’s no exercise in logic either to come up with that statement. The results are right in our faces. The team continues to struggle and look bad doing it, not that you can look good struggling but every time I see the Giants squander a close game situation, I hear a deflating noise in the background. The air being let out of this team, slowly, but surely, deflating.
Not only is watching a team struggle no fun but watching old guys struggle is even more painful. Guys on the last legs of their careers (Vizquel, Aurilia, Durham) trying to grind out whatever they have left and bring it to the playing field to only come up short time and time again. I don’t necessarily think that Omar, Richie, and Ray are done, finito, stick-a-fork in ‘em but signs of life are weak. A common rallying point among fans is that “I’d rather watch a bunch of young guys struggle than old guys”. That phrase is something that I can agree on because it plants the tiny seeds of hope. The veterans are probably only going to get worse or at the bare minimum they are a known quantity. The younger guys still have promise on their side, which is refreshing. Playing the “kids” doesn’t always work out so well (Todd Linden) but at this point in the season what else do we have to lose? I would be thrilled to see Frandsen, Schierholtz, Lewis, Ortmeier, and whoever else get increased playing time.
I also hope that come trading time we’re into full fledged seller mode, complete with matching socks and pants, and that Sabean will spin off some of the older parts for the future of this team. That might be asking a lot but I think it needs to be done. I wrote a couple of posts ago that I doubted that anyone could see this team as a contender. That doubt has only increased as the Giants continue to tailspin, dropping 17 out of their last 23 games. The offense is back to the dumps (ranking 15th in the NL by runs and near the bottom in almost every other statistical category) and I get the feeling that Morris and Lowry are due to start regressing to career norms soon.
Briefly, back to the hitting, I was looking over some numbers this morning and I was shocked to actually see how bad our offense has been. I knew it was bad but the numbers really drive the point home. I was looking through the VORP’s of NL players by position that had at least 200 PAs. Here’s what I found for the Giants infield.
Infield Rank by VORP (200 PAs)
Only one word can describe the infield, disastrous, two of the five position players (SS and 1B) are actually producing negative VORPs and another two positions (3B and 2B) are toeing the line pretty closely. The only bright spot of the infield has been Bengie Molina’s performance. He only ranks behind Russell Martin as the top catcher in the senior circuit. Bengie’s solid performance can’t make up for the entire suckitiude of the rest of the infield. Let’s take a look at the outfield.
Outfield Rank by VORP (200 PAs)
It’s no surprise that Bonds is once again the Giants best hitter. Any one who criticizes Bonds as a problem for the Giants’ offense is crazy. He’s still the best hitter on the team and one of the best hitters in baseball. Winn has performed decently but you would ideally like to see more production out of a corner OF. Roberts got an asterick because of his injury, I had to knock down the qualifier to 125 PAs to get him in the stats. So you’ve got one of the greatest hitters of all time still performing pretty well, a “OK” corner OF, and a CF who has been injured for a good part of the season. I can’t be too critical of Roberts because of his injury and we don’t know his true level of performance yet. Bonds has been great and Winn has been OK.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
So, now that we are throughly depressed by the numbers, we need to figure out who has the most trade value to the Giants. I’ve put together a top 5 trade list for the Giants of who I think could be traded this year during the dead line.
1. LHP Noah Lowry – I think of any Giant on the team, Lowry has the most trade value. He’s young, left handed, and has had success already at the major league level. He’s signed to a very affordable contract that any team could take on if they desired him. A left handed average pitcher has great value in todays market and Noah is exactly that. Sabean has the advantage of being able to sit on Lowry this year and if no offers wow him, then he can just bring Lowry back next year.
I’m not thrilled with Noah’s peripherals and I think that if he’s ever to be moved this would be the time to do it. Selling when value is the highest is key. If Lowry does get moved for hitting, someone like a Jonathan Sanchez could take his spot in the rotation. If Lowry doesn’t get traded, it’s not the end of the world either. The Giants just need him to eat innings and be a back of the rotation starter which I think he can do, even though, like I said, his peripherals don’t thrill me.
2. RHP Matt Morris - Teams are always looking for pitching during the trading dead line and Morris could have value to a team needing rotation help. He’s a grizzled innings eater that has found success this year. Morris probably isn’t as tradeable as Lowry because of his age and contract (which has one more year after the 2007 season) but he could be a quick fix for a team needing pitching help. I think that one of Morris or Lowry will get moved, but not both. The Giants don’t have enough arms ready to step into the rotation for Sabean to move both Noah and Matt.
This is another great case of selling high. Morris has pitched solid this year but walks and the lack of K’s are a little concerning. Still, Morris could be a great addition to a team needing some stability in their rotation.
3. 1B/OF Ryan Klesko - Klesko could provide a cheap solution to a team struggling to hit RHP. This year Klesko has hit (.284/.376/.422) when facing righties. He’s only signed for this year making him attractive for a playoff run. He could be platooned at a position or even used as a bench player.
4. 3B Pedro Feliz – Yes, Pedro Feliz is truly awful and you might be asking yourself which dope of a GM would actually trade for this guy? Feliz could entice a GM that over values the HR and other stats like RBIs. He can play a lot of positions and is a top defender at third base. I could see someone picking up Feliz to take on a bench/utility role, which I think is his strongest ability. Stranger things have happened.
5. SS Omar Vizquel – For one thing, as much as I love Omar, I’m thankful that we didn’t give him the extension he was looking for before the season. Omar has looked lost at the plate this year but his D is still strong. A team with a floundering SS situation (Boston?) might take a shot with someone like Omar. He could also go to a team as a late innings defensive replacement.
I would like to see a trade open up a spot in the infield for Kevin Frandsen to get regular playing time. Hopefully, by the end of the season the Giants will be starting as many young players as they can, to see what they have for the next year. I’ve heard some call this year a “Stealth Rebuild” slowly adding in younger players around veterans. The hardest part will be finding the younger OF guys playing time, the OF is already crowded and it seems that most of our MLB ready players are outfielders. But then again, this is Brian Sabean would hasn’t had to rebuild since he took the reigns over and the “Stealth Rebuild” could turn into another “No Rebuild”.
The common criticism of rebuilding is that the casual fan will stop coming to the ballpark to watch a team that’s in a rebuild. I can’t speak for the common fan but I know that I would gladly head out to the park to watch younger players get a shot. The sad thing is that I’m probably in the minority in that regard and I wonder how much of the fan base will dry up once Bonds leaves for good?
Comment Starter: Who gets moved? Or, will the Giants even attempt a rebuild of any sort? And honestly, would you as a fan, support a rebuild? (ie: keep attending home games)