I’m a bit late on responding to the Giants deadline deals, but I wanted to briefly write a few words about the two relievers the Giants picked up.
Giants Lose: OF John Bowker, RHP Joe Martinez
Giants Get: LHP Javier Lopez
I guess this means the quest for the LOOGY is over. I’ll state up front that I don’t really love this trade for the Giants. My gut reaction is that the Pirates did very well while the Giants got a guy that throws baseballs with his left arm.
First, what the Giants lost: John Bowker has been a bit of a poster boy for the ‘Let the Kids Play’ movement. That’s despite already being 27-years-old — Bowker turned 27 this July, he’s playing in his age 26 baseball season — and never really hitting well over a couple of brief major league stints. Of course, Bowker’s appeal was his revamped hitting approach that he exhibited in 2009 while playing for the AAA Fresno Grizzlies. Yet, he struggled again in this season in less than 90 at-bats. It’s hard to totally write off Bowker at this point and I think the Pirates did well to acquire him. In addition to Bowker, the Pirates netted personal BCB favorite, Joe Martinez. The Pirates always seem hungry for starting pitching and hopefully Joe will get a crack. I think his upside is a +2 win starter in the NL — meaning a league average starter. He’s not a flame-thrower but he’s got good control, some groundball tendencies, and a nice 2-seam fastball. That might not sound glamorous, but if he’s a league average SP it becomes quite valuable. Considering that the Pirates will now control both Bowker and Martinez until 2015, I think it’s a solid pick up.
In return the Giants landed 32-year-old Javier Lopez. Lopez owns a career 4.30 FIP across 8 seasons and 282 innings. He’s a side-arming, baseball slinging specialist. His fastball doesn’t break 86 mph often and he’s primarily a two-pitch guy with a fastball/slider combo. His career walk-rate is 4.17 walks per 9 vs. a strikeout-rate of 5.54 strikeouts per 9. Underwhelmed yet? Lopez, being a LOOGY, is somewhat tough on left-handed batters. He’s held them to a slash line of .242/.336/.350 over his career. Going forward, for better or worse, he’ll be the go-to guy in the bullpen for tough LHBs. Lopez is also a FA at the end of this season, effectively making him a rental.
Bottom line: Can I say meh? Meh. Lopez is a nice addition to the bullpen, but not one that I would give up 4 years of control of both Bowker and Martinez for. Furthermore, I wonder if the Giants really had to trade for a guy with Lopez’s skill-set. Shouldn’t any GM be able to cruise the minor leagues and find a slinging lefty like Lopez on the cheap? I’m not so sure the Giants didn’t already have Javier Lopez in their system in the form of Geno Espineli (a side-arming south paw in Fresno). A quick look-see on minor leauge splits tells us that Espineli has held LHBs to a 3.37 FIP over his minor league career. Run that through the MLE conversion and it comes out to a 3.90-ish FIP against LHBs. Lopez owns a career 3.80 FIP against LHBs in the majors.
Giants Lose: RHP Daniel Turpen
Giants Get: RHP Ramon Ramirez
Ramirez is a much better reliever than Lopez and the Giants got him for much less. Go figure.
Daniel Turpen was drafted by the Giants in the 8th round of the 2007 First Year Player Draft. Currently pitching for AA Richmond, Turpen has posted a 4.09 ERA to go with a 7.5 K/9 and a 3.4 BB/9. Almost every minor league system has 10 Daniel Turpen’s floating around at any time. He’s the definition of a trade-able, low upside reliever. I’d love to know what the Red Sox saw in him. Ramon Ramirez is a right-handed reliever that works primarily off of a low-90′s fastball and a slider. He had an excellent 2008 with the Royals (2.84 FIP, 71.2 IP) and was then sent to the Red Sox in the Coco Crisp trade. Since joining the Sox, Ramirez hasn’t had the same success. He posted a 4.46 FIP last season and currently has a 4.62 FIP this year. Getting out of the AL East should help Ramirez some and he’s decent insurance for any one of Bautista/Mota/Casilla. The Giants will control Ramirez until 2013, making him a bullpen candidate down the road if he doesn’t crack this year’s ‘pen.
Bottom Line: Not bad. Ramirez is obviously better than Turpen right now and the Giants are in the ‘right now’ mode. It’s also a bonus that they’ll have him under control for a couple of more seasons if they want him.