A catch-all post for a couple of signings and moves that happened over the past week.
* Giants sign RHP Elmer Dessens to a minor league contract. It’s almost hard to believe that Dessens will be 40-years-old next year. At this point in his career, Dessens has traded starting for relieving with mixed-to-blah results. As a reliever he owns a career 4.30 FIP making him a way, way back end of the bullpen-type. His 2010 with the Mets is a prime example of why ERA can sometimes mask, or in Dessens’ case, completely disguise pitcher performance. Dessens pitched 47 innings with the Mets to pair with a sparkly 2.30 ERA, what’s not to like? In those 47 innings pitched, Dessens struck out just 16 batters while walking the same amount. That’s a Rueterian K/BB, but without any of the horseshoe magic. The control is decent, the K-rate is bad, and Dessens doesn’t have any other skills to offset the sub-4.00 K-rate. You can mark him down as another guy that if he’s pitched more than 10 innings in the 2011 bullpen, things aren’t going well.
* No, that’s not Adrian Gonzalez — but it is his brother! It’s got to be hard when your brother is Adrian Gonzalez, who’s most likely nearing a contract in excess of $140M-plus. Meanwhile, you’re Edgar Gonzalez and you’ve just finished a season playing for the Yomuri Giants in the Japan Baseball League. While in Japan, Gonzalez hit .263/.342/.457 in 327 plate appearances. While that’s an alright line, it doesn’t give us any reason to believe that Gonzalez discovered some mystic secret while abroad that will propel his game to the next level. Defensively, Gonzalez has played all over the diamond, but he profiles as a 2B/3B at the major league level. Over 10 minor league seasons, Gonzalez owns a batting line of .296/.376/.447. He’s not really a shortstop, so barring catastrophic injuries to Freddy Sanchez and Mike Fontenot, Gonzalez will most likely play his entire year in Fresno.
* Giants ink UTIL Justin Christian to a minor league deal. The key facts about Justin Christian: He’ll be 31-years-old next year, he got a cup of coffee in the majors in 2008, he appears to be speedy (287 career minor league SB), and he’s played a few different positions in the minors — at least a 100 games at 2B, CF, and LF. He mostly played in AA Trenton last year but he’s no stranger to AAA, playing 219 career games at that level. An interesting story about Christian is that he was never drafted, instead he started his career in Indy ball, playing for the River City Rascals before the Yankees took notice and signed him. Like Gonzalez, he’s not much of a shortstop, so it’s hard to tell if he’ll ever see any playing time on the 2011 Giants, but he probably has more upside (or at least usefulness) than Emmanuel Burris. Burris has never hit at any level and he’s unlikely to be able to handle SS in the majors. Christian gives the Giants a little depth at the UTIL position if they need to swap parts around.
Like any minor league deal, you can sum these players up with the following: If they see any playing time for the 2011 Giants, things are on fire and out of control. However, depth in the minors can sometimes be understated, and it’s not a bad idea to have any of these guys kicking around in AAA. I think Christian is probably the most interesting player.