The Contra Costa Times has a article on Ray Durham and his no-trade clause:
He indicated that he wouldn’t stand in the way of a deal, particularly if the Giants plan to use him as a bench player. But he isn’t pushing for a change of scenery, either.
“I always wanted to be in the East or Midwest to be closer to my kids, but my intent is to come back here and help this club get to the postseason,” said Durham, who lives in Charlotte. “I want to be here. My job is to do what they pay me to do — what I didn’t do this year.”
From the article it sounds like Durham doesn’t really care too much if the Giants try to move him, but at the same time would like to remain in San Fran. Here’s some numbers to give you an idea of just how bad Durham has been this year. The numbers run from 2003-2007, his entire tenure with the Giants.
YEAR BA OBP SLG K% BB/K ISO BABIP 2003 .285 .366 .441 20.0 0.61 .156 .341 2004 .282 .364 .484 12.7 0.95 .202 .294 2005 .290 .356 .429 11.9 0.81 .139 .310 2006 .293 .360 .538 12.2 0.84 .245 .292 2007 .218 .295 .343 16.2 0.71 .125 .238
Since Durham arrived to San Francisco he’s been Mr. Consistent, hitting around .282 or slightly better and posting an OBP every year in the neighborhood of .360. Durham hit for power in 2004 and 2006, posting an ISO over .200 in each of those years. Being moved out of the leadoff spot could have prompted Ray to swing for the fences more and try to focus more on his power game. Durham has always posted a strong BABIP, hitting over .300 twice with the Giants and his career BABIP of .308 demonstrates that he’s been able to hit over .300 consistently.
Ray’s 2007, like the article states, has been his worst year ever. He struggled in the first half and crashed and burned in the second. Durham has been under the Mendozza Line in the second half hitting (.165/.256/.247). Those aren’t the numbers of a major league baseball player. Durham’s loss of 120 points on his ISO and decline in BABIP to career lows makes me wonder about his bat speed. Durham can’t seem to solidly connect on fastballs this year like he could in the past, resulting in him fouling them off or missing them entirely. Because Durham’s 1st half slide carried into the 2nd half, his trade value over the winter should be very, very low.
The Giants shouldn’t consider starting Durham in 2008. Frandsen has played better lately, even if better is a relative term when talking about Durham . Keeping Durham around as a $7.5M pinch hitter is absurd and should only be exercised if the team can’t move him. He can only play 2B and his defense has eroded even more in his age 35 season. His FRAA of -19 means that Durham’s defense has cost the Giants 19 runs this year. If the Giants try to move Durham they’re going to have to eat $5-6M of his 7.5M salary, at minimum. Or, it’s possible that the Giants could look to take on another teams bad contract, much like the Edgardo Alfonzo for Steve Finley swap a couple of years ago.
Possible Destinations for Durham
- Minnesota Twins – The Twins are a smart baseball organization so don’t expect them to be knocking the door down to get Ray Durham, but they’ve had some really poor production from their 2B position this year. After trading Luis Castillo to the Mets, Luis Rodriguez, Alexei Castilla, and Nick Punto have all played 2B this year for the Minnesota Twins. No one in the trio has been able to OPS higher than .600. Punto has mostly played 3B this year for the Twins but he’s been among the worst full-time players in the MLB this year. If the Giants ate a large chunk of Durham’s salary, would the Twins be willing to kick the tires on Durham? The Giants could send Durham to the Twins, while eating most of his contract, and receive back a low-level prospect. It could be a nice buy low move for the Twins.
- Chicago White Sox – How cool would this be? Durham could return to his original team where he played some of his best baseball. The White Sox traded their 2B Tadahito Iguchi to the Phillies earlier this year and turned the job over to Danny Richar. Richar had been a solid minor league prospect in the Arizona organization before he was traded to the White Sox this year for OF Aaron Cunningham. Richar has failed to reproduce his minor league success of (.293/.342/.442) in the majors (.202/.272/.355). White Sox GM, Kenny Williams, is no stranger to making quick moves to fix his baseball team and could look to upgrade his 2B position this winter. If Durham came cheap, he might give him a look.
- St. Louis Cardinals - The Cards signed 2B Adam Kennedy to a 3 year $10M contract last offseason. Kennedy would probably like to forget this year because he’s only hit (.219/.282/.290), way under his career numbers of (.275/.329/.390). The Cardinals might like to give Durham a chance to see if he can resurrect his career. This could be one of the tougher scenarios because of Kennedy’s contract, which has another 2 years left but Walt Jocketty must be upset with Kennedy’s performance and could look to upgrade at the position. Durham could be a cheap fix that could help the Cardinals if he can bounce back. Jocketty has dealt for veterans in the past.
The caveat with all three teams is that the Giants would have to eat up to 90% of Durham’s contract to move him. Teams just aren’t going to take a chance on Durham unless he comes really cheap. All three teams are closer to the Durham’s home of Charlotte, North Carolina than San Francisco and that could factor into Durham accepting a trade to one of these teams. Even with the terrible season that Durham has had, I think that I would take a shot on him for around $1M dollars and I think most GM’s might think the same way.
The Giants should let Frandsen head into 2008 as the starting 2B. Frandsen has slumped at times this year but has put together a decent 2nd half and a nice September.