Welcome to the inevitable.
Baggs drops some information on us:
Frandsen has another minor league option. Lewis does not. So at least the Giants have some flexibility with Frandsen. But if they’ve determined, for instance, that they’d prefer to start Matt Downs and Ryan Rohlinger in the middle infield at Fresno (and ultimately, when he’s healthy, Emmanuel Burriss), then they might prefer to give Frandsen a change of scenery rather than deal with any fallout by having him on the bench at Triple-A. (That’s all pure speculation on my part, by the way.)
I would rather the Giants hold on to Frandsen because he does have an option remaining — meaning they can send him back to Fresno if they want — but getting rid of Lewis in favor of someone like Velez, who would theoretically most likely make the team if Lewis is released/traded/etc., seems like poor planning. First, the case for Lewis. I’ll give you the cliff notes since I’ve written an inordinate amount about Fred over the time-span of BCB.
Fred Lewis is:
~ A career better than league average hitter with a wRC+ of 109. He struggles against LHP (wOBA of .298) but has hit RHP well (wOBA of .349).
~ A better than average left fielder. Yes, he looks hectic on defense occasionally, but remember that he’s playing against a largely immobile peer group in LF. Despite the weird routes, and occasional missed catch, Lewis sports a career UZR/150 of +10.2 runs in left field. The most common misconception about Lewis is that he’s a poor fielder, he’s not. His plus range and footspeed make up for any weird route and/or missed catch.
~ Prone to striking out. Lewis owns a career K% of 26.1% — meaning that he’s going to strike out in almost a quarter of his at-bats. But, he’s also likely to take a walk. He owns a career BB% of 10.1%.
~ A better than average baserunner. By Baseball Prospectus’ baserunning numbers, Lewis was +2 runs above the average runner in 2009 and +5.7 runs above average in 2008. Bengie Molina he’s not.
It all adds up — defense, offense, and baserunning — to a league average player. Or, someone that if given a full season of playing time we would expect to be a +2 win player. With the FA market taking a dip, generally guys are getting paid around $3-4M per win, meaning that Lewis would be worth somewhere (give or take) around $5-6M as an asset. He wouldn’t be a starter on a front-line team, but a team like the Giants hurting for offense (and defense to an extent) really can’t afford to throw out league average players. There’s a really solid chance that Mark DeRosa, playing LF, won’t outproduce Fred Lewis and I don’t have to tell you that paying the market price for production you already have in-house is a bad idea.
But, here we are. Lewis is almost already out of the organization and the Giants outfield situation doesn’t look exactly strong. If the team is committed to moving Lewis to another team, I would hope that it means that John Bowker will get the lion’s share of playing time as a 4th OF in the corners. He doesn’t have Lewis’ defensive profile, but his revamped hitting approach in AAA last year gives the team some hope that he can stick in the majors as a hitter. Only time will tell if trade/releasing Lewis is a good move, but for the moment the odds seem stacked against the Giants.
Hypothetical outfield makeup:
LF – DeRosa
CF – Rowand
RF – Schierholtz
OF – Bowker (or *shudder* Velez)
OF – Torres