Carney, meet the Giants. Giants, this is Carney.
The Giants have hired Carney Lansford as the new hitting instructor, effectively replacing Joe Lefebvre. Lansford was the 1981 batting champ in the AL when he hit (.336/.389/.439). He also had a cool mustache. And he hit more career home runs than Lefebvre (151 vs 31). He’s got to be a better coach, right? In 2006 Lansford was the AAA hitting coach for the Rockies minor league affiliate. I’m not huge on coaches but Lansford does have the credentials as a good hitter, hopefully he’s a good coach as well. If he puts a mustache mandate into motion I’ll like him even more. Imagine Omar Vizquel with a mustache? That’s a Giants team I’d pay to watch.
From the SFGiants.com article on the Lansford signing, some of the quotes aren’t exactly my cup-o-tea.
“He’s been on my radar for a while,” Bochy said. “I think he’s going to bring an energy to us and a presence to our club and help our hitters play the type of ball we want to play. That’s unselfish ball.”
By “unselfish ball,” Bochy meant moving runners along, taking a pitch or swinging and missing at one to help a teammate steal a base and bunting when necessary. Lansford made a habit of this, particularly while batting behind stolen-base king Rickey Henderson when both played for the A’s.
Unselfish ball is the same as can’t-hit-for-squat-ball. Early indications from the offseason are that the Giants are going to be doing a whole lot of bunting, hitting and running, and playing out all the other ideals of small ball. I don’t mind that sort of strategy but only when it’s kept to a minimum. Studies have shown that managers tend to do more harm than good when they employ such strategies because they overuse them. The fact that the Giants are willfully going to dive head first into an Ozzie Guillen-style of play for 2008 really concerns me. How many times do I need to see a failed hit and run or Rajai Davis getting thrown out because Bochy is trying to make something happen? I’m guessing about 4-5 times and then I’ll get sick of it.
From the same article:
“We’re not looking to become a Punch-and-Judy team,” Sabean said. “Nor is Carney going to be a Punch-and-Judy hitting coach.”
Good, but being a Punch-and-Judy team assumes that we have any punch at all. Randy Winn is our punch. And maybe Bengie Molina. That’s more of a “light hand-slap” than it is punch. Lansford’s biggest goal should be teaching patience to the hitters. It would be nice if Bengie Molina could walk more than 15 times a year.
The very-fast Eugenio Velez recently got some love from Baseball America. The source of the article is an unnamed NL scout who seems to like what he’s seen in Velez. Talking about his speed (sub 4.0 times to first base) and his defense, which confused me the most because Velez’s D has been criticized often. He was moved off of second base into the OF earlier but he’s getting more playing time at second now. The scout praises his hands, throwing arm, and range. Maybe he caught Velez on a good day? Because I didn’t get the impression that he was a defensive player during his short time with the Giants this year. Or, maybe, Velez has improved defensively? Either way, it’s nice to see some praise for Velez. I’m still not very high on him but he’s having a pretty good AFL showing so far (.303/.329/.461) with a league leading 14 stolen bases in 15 attempts. I would really love to see him get on base more, he’s only walked 3 times in 76 at-bats, to take advantage of his tremendous speed.
Speaking of the AFL, Nate Schierholtz is having a good showing, too. He just recently hit 2 HR’s in one game and has been making a lot of contact as usual. He’s hitting (.351/.373/.632) in 57 AB’s. But like Velez, Schierholtz isn’t walking much, he’s only walked once so far in the season. Nate has always been good about getting the bat on the ball but I think he’s going to have to walk more to really have success in the majors. Major league pitchers are going to be more likely to take advantage of a free-swinger than minor league pitchers. On a recent AFL video on SFGiants.com, Nate was interviewed and he stated that he’s trying to work on his plate approach in the AFL. At least he understands that he needs to be more selective and patient, now just for the results to roll in. I think Pedro Feliz still believes that he can swing at every pitch.
The 2007 NL Elias player rankings are out. Depending on how well the player has performed, they are rated either an A or B type player. A-type players, if offered arbitration, that sign with another team earn their original team 2 draft picks. One in the first round and a supplemental pick. The same goes for B-type players, but they only earn their original team a supplemental pick.
Here’s how the following free agent Giants ranked:
Barry Bonds – A
Pedro Feliz – B
Omar Vizquel – B
Ryan Klesko and Russ Ortiz did not receive a ranking, thus any team that signs them will not have to compensate the Giants via draft picks. It’s extremely doubtful that the Giants will offer Bonds arbitration because there is a chance he would accept and make a nice chunk of money in the process. Feliz is a interesting question to ponder. It’s been reported that he is looking for a multi-year deal, should the Giants offer him arbitration and hope that he rejects it? In such a scenario, they would earn a supplemental draft pick from wherever Feliz would sign. Vizquel will probably be offered a 1-year deal with a vesting option for ’09. I think the Giants will bring him back, even though he was one of the worst hitting players in the entire majors last year.
I don’t mind bringing back Omar so much, because it’ll probably (hopefully) be a 1-year commitment. But Feliz want’s a multi-year deal and I just won’t be able to stomach that. Like Grant posted today, carrying over 2 huge offensive black holes from last years team to the ’08 team is and would be a mistake.