Getting back to the blog on a Monday afternoon. You’ll have to excuse me if I discuss a few news items that are already a day or two old, but I wanted to hit on them regardless.
Our big news item of the day is a trade. The Giants cash in Ray Durham for two prospects in a deal with the Brewers. I’m using the term prospects loosely because the two players the Giants got in return for Durham aren’t really anything special, but then again, it’s about what the maximum return would be for a 36-year-old second baseman. Durham will go to the Brewers as a bench bat and occasional starter but because he can’t play anywhere else on the diamond, the Brewers options with him are limited. Still, for a team making a playoff push, Durham isn’t a bad piece to add.
In return for Durham the Giants pick up Darren Ford and Steve Hammond. Ford is a 22-year-old outfielder who is insanely speedy but offers little else in his bag of tricks. The Brewers drafted him in ’04 in the 18th round but he didn’t play pro-ball until ’05. Since his debut, he’s stolen a total of 193 bags. In ’07 he did well in the South Atlantic League while playing for the West Virginia Power. Over 224 AB’s he hit (.335/.390/.504) with 15 2B’s, 4 3B’s, and 5 HR’s. He was promoted to the Florida State League mid-season but struggled over 273 AB’s, hitting only (.231/.317/.308). The Brewers left Ford in the FSL to start this year and the results are shockingly similar to his ’07 run. His line of (232/.321/.307) is virtually identical.
Ford’s problem is that for speed guy, he K’s a ton. In his brief minor league career his K% has been over 20% at each level. When he crushed the SAL his BABIP was an unsustainable .429 and when he’s struggled in the FSL it’s been right around the normal level of .300. He’s walking some — a BB% around 11% in his two stints in the FSL — so he might have an idea of what the strike zone is. Ford was named the fastest baserunner and best defensive outfielder in the Brewers farm system by Baseball America. Ford will be a tough project for a team that hasn’t historically — in recent times — developed hitters well. He profiles as a lead-off hitter that can play a defensively solid center field.
The second player acquired for the Giants is 26-year-old LHP Steve Hammond. Hammond is your traditional crafty lefty without overpowering stuff. I’ve heard him described as a sinker-slider guy that needs to keep the ball down in the zone to have success. His career minor league numbers don’t look bad: 3.55 ERA, 474 IP, 2.72 BB/9, 7.58 K9. It should be noted that he’s struggled the most in AA and AAA. He hit a bump in ’07 in AA but pitched well enough in AA in ’08 to be promoted to AAA, where he hit a small bump in a very small sample size of just 17 IP — mostly due to being homer unlucky, giving up 6 jacks in those 17 innings. He should slide into the Fresno rotation and might get a look as the Giants 5th starter at some point in this year. I’m still not sold on Correia’s health and between Misch, Hammond, and Palmer the Giants have some options they can check out. Hammond’s upside is small to non-existent because of his age, but his role could be a 5th starter or long reliever.
Ray Durham looked toast after his ’07, but he rebounded enough this year to give the Giants something. I think if you told anyone last year about this trade they would have looked at you funny. After glancing over Durham’s career statistics, it got me to thinking how he ranked in the modern era — 1956 to the present — for Giants 2B.
Top-10 Offensive Seasons by Giants Second Basemen. Ranked by OPS+ and a minimum of 502 PA’s.
Cnt Player **OPS+** YEAR +----+-----------------+--------+------+ 1 Jeff Kent 162 2000 2 Jeff Kent 147 2002 3 Bill Madlock 144 1978 4 Jeff Kent 142 1998 5 Joe Morgan 136 1982 6 Robby Thompson 135 1993 7 Jeff Kent 131 2001 8 Robby Thompson 128 1991 9 Ray Durham 127 2006 10 Jeff Kent 124 1999
Hey, that’s not a bad showing at all. Durham cracks the Top-10 on a list that’s dominated by the best Giants 2B of all-time, Jeff Kent. Durham’s 2006 season has him at the 9-spot for the best season in the modern era for Giants second basemen. In addition to Kent, he’s in some outstanding company of Joe Morgan, Robby Thompson, and Bill Madlock. He also finished at just outside of the list at 11th and once again at the 18th position. If you lowered the requirements to 400 PA’s, Durham pops up a few mores times but not in the Top-10. Durham was a good Giant and I’ll be rooting for him with the Brewers.
Now that Durham leaves the Giants, second base is wide open. The Giants will probably toss out any combination of Denker, Burriss, Velez, and Ochoa at the position to see who sticks. I’ll give the nod to Denker for now — even though he’s not on the team — he’s the only one out of the group that has any upside with the bat. Denker’s bat still has questions, but Burriss, Velez, and Ochoa all have very weak bats. Burriss should be starting at SS. I don’t have much faith in Velez and Ochoa is Ochoa.
~ Watching Geno Espineli throw for the first time was awesome. A lefty that wears stirrups and throws from a cross-body sidearm motion? I’m sold. His stuff is average but he’s had good results in the minors. He kinda reminds me a little of Sergio Romo, not much upside stuff-wise, but gets results. I hope he sticks. But seriously, Dan Rohn, the Giants AAA manager, is one harsh dude. Geno is up because Yabu was sent to the DL with an injured finger. I’m starting to think the end of Yabu-san is getting close.
~ Bochy Hate ++. Sometimes I don’t mind Bochy but there are times when he drives me insane. So, you’re young ace is coming off a hospital visit where he was dehydrated. In his first start back you push him to 121 pitches and send him back out for the 7th after he was clearly gassed? Surprise! You’re Bruce Bochy. You’re head is enormous. What really gets me about Bochy is that most of his pitching moves feel purely random. One start he’ll let Matt Cain pitch a billion pitches and the next he’ll yank him by the 4th inning.
~ Fred Lewis has a bunion and might have to go on the DL. This means that Dave Roberts will be rushed back to fill his spot. Frowny face goes here.