Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap 03-31-2010

The Giants rested a lot of players today, but still topped the Hated Ones 6-2 in the Cactus League finale. Key lines:

Eugenio Velez- 3 for 5, 3B, SB(5). BA= .306. No way Velez is getting sent down!

Juan Uribe- 1 for 2, HR(3). BA= .286.

John Bowker- 1 for 4. BA= .304. Bowker started in RF again.

Buster Posey- 0 for 3, BB. Posey has cooled a bit.

Matt Downs- 2 for 4, SB(2)(Home!). If Travis stays, then one out of Downs, Velez, Bowker and Torres is going to have to go.

Horacio Ramirez- 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K's. Nice outing, but I see Fresno in his future, unless this was a a showcase for a trade.

Henry Sosa- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. ERA= 0.00. Henry making a case for sticking!

Alex Hinshaw- 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K. ERA= 2.35.

Waldis Joaquin- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K's, GO/AO= 3/0. Between Joaquin, Hinshaw and Sosa, I'd say Mota is in trouble. is reporting that the Rangers are trying to make a deal with the Giants so they can keep Ben Snyder, who they took in the Rule 5 draft. We'll see what gets worked out, but I'd guess it will be cash.

Fantasy Impact: Draft Day for Savvy Vets

My fantasy league has it's draft tonight. It's a 10 team, 5X5, H2H on Categories are Runs, HR, RBI, BA, Steals, W, K, ERA, WHIP and Saves. Each team has 26 roster spots plus 2 DL slots. The positions are C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, IF, 3 OF, 2 Utility, 5 SP, 3 RP, 2 P, 5 Bench. Lineups can be reset daily. 40 moves allowed during the season. It's a keeper league with each team designating 6 keepers, 3 position players and 3 pitchers to keep from the prior year. 6 teams make the playoffs. Winner of the playoffs is winner of the league. It's a small league, but very competitive. You have to know your stuff and be quick on the trigger to survive. The draft is a snake draft with the order determined by Yahoo's randomization.

Savvy Vets is drafting 7'th which means I have the #7, 14 and 27 picks out of the top 30.

My keepers are: Prince Fielder, Justin Upton, Brian McCann, CC Sabathia, Matt Cain and Tommy Hanson.

Here's a list of the top 30 available players by Yahoo rankings:

8. Mark Teixeira
23. Joey Votto
25. Ichiro
26. Dustin Pedroia
27. Kevin Youkilis
28. Jimmy Rollins
29. Pablo Sandoval
31. Ryan Zimmerman
32. Victor Martinez
34. Derek Jeter
35. Brandon Phillips
37. Kendry Morales
38. Mark Reynolds
39. Ben Zobrist
40. Jayson Werth
43. Robinson Cano
44. Brian Roberts
45. Aaron Hill
49. BJ Upton
50. Aramis Ramirez
52. Derek Lee
55. Curtis Granderson
56. Nick Markakis
57. Jason Bay
58. Yovani Gallardo
59. Adam Lind
60. Andrew McCutchen
62. Bobby Abreu
63. Nelson Cruz
64. Billy Butler
65. Justin Verlander

That is not the order of my draft board, but don't want to give away my secrets. I'll let you know how the draft turned out after it's done.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap 03-30-2010

Todd Wellemeyer did what a #5 starter is supposed to do, but the bullpen failed to do it's job and the hitters came up just short as the Giants dropped a 5-3 decision to the Cubbies today. Key lines:

Aaron Rowand: 3 for 3, 2 2B. Rowand seems to have made his peace with being more of a line drive hitter than trying to loft it out of the park. Let's hope he stays in that zone, because I think he can be a good leadoff hitter as long as he isn't trying to hit his way back to the middle of the order.

Edgar Renteria- 0 for 4. BA= .259. At one point, it looked like Rent's bat might be coming alive, but this is bad.

Mark DeRosa- 2 for 4, 2B, HR(1), Assist(Byrd at home). BA= .295. I think DeRosa will be a solid addition to the lineup.

Todd Wellemeyer- 7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 4 K's. Left the game tied after 7 IP. That's exactly the kind of game you want from your #5. Anything more is gravy.

Guillermo Mota- 0.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 1 K. Mota entered in the 8'th inning after Runzler had retired the first 2 batters. Let's hope that doesn't happen in the regular season! In fact, are there any votes for keeping Joaquin and Hinshaw or Pucetas over Mota?

Fantasy Impact: Sleeper Alert- Jaime Garcia

The Cardinals named Jaime Garcia as their #5 starter yesterday, then he went out and had another quality start against the Twins in a spring training game: 6 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 K's.

I had never heard of Jaime Garcia before this spring and I'm guessing a lot of other fantasy baseball players are in the same boat. Garcia is 23 years old, 6'2", 200 lbs LHP drafted by the Cardinals in round #22 in 2005. He worked his way up through the system, but missed most of 2009 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He came back late in the year with the AAA Memphis Redbirds to post a 2-0, 3.86, 21 IP, 9 BB, 22 K's record. He then went on to star in the PCL playoffs. He's always posted strong K rates when healthy. BA's Prospect Handbook ranks him as the Cards' #2 prospect for this year. He throws a low-90's sinking fastball, but his best pitch is a hammer curveball. He's added a hybrid cutter/slider to his repertoire.

He's had a strong spring: 0-0, 1.93, 18.2 IP, 5 BB, 16 K's, GO/AO= 2.64. As a starter for a very good hitting team, the Cardinals, Garcia is definitely draftable in deeper leagues and should be watched closely in shallower ones. Don't be shocked if he puts up some very big numbers. Remaining healthy might be the biggest concern.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap 03-29-2010

Jonathan Sanchez was overpowering today while Nate Schierholtz helped his cause in the battle for starting RF, but Bowker and Velez are putting up an heckuva fight. The bullpen barely hangs on for an 8-6 Giants win over the BrewCrew who are developing a nice little rivalry with the Giants. Not sure why, but it sure is fun! Key lines:

Eugenio Velez- 2 for 5, HR(1). BA= .291. Played 2B and CF. Trying to stay alive in a 3 man competition with Torres and Bowker for a probably 2 roster spots. If he can play 2B, it might just become 3 roster spots, but Matt Downs isn't giving up the middle IF spot easily. I do think Bochy really likes Pharoah, even if he gets frustrated with him at times, and will try to keep him on the roster.

Matt Downs- 1 for 1. BA= .368. Wow! 4 guys for 3 roster spots who have all given it great shots!

Nate Schierholtz- 2 for 4, 2B, 3B, BB. BA= .241. What a great comeback by Nate! RF should be his to lose, and this is exactly what he has to do to not lose it!

John Bowker- 2 for 3, HR(4), BB. BA= .308. Is the offense enough to overcome the defense? Do you move DeRosa to 2B and put Bowker in LF with Nate in RF?

Travis Ishikawa- 2 for 4, SF. Even Travis is showing some life here. Probably need his D for late innings.

Jonathan Sanchez- 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 11 K's, HBP(Fielder), S(2). Durty did it all today! Gotta love the HBP on Fielder whether it was a purpose pitch or not. Gotta love this little feud that just won't seem to die. Man, if Sanchez has the kind of breakout I think he's capable of, how much money are the Giants going to tie up in their starting rotation by 2012?

Joaquin, Romo- 1 IP, 1 R each.

Steve Edelfsen- 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K. Not too impressive except that Edlefsen came in with the bases loaded and got out of it with just 1 run allowed. Unfortunately, that 1 run was walked home, but still props for keeping his composure and getting out of it.

Wow! I have no idea how this roster is going to shake out. These kids just won't give up, will they? If I had to venture a guess, I'd say the Giants keep Torres, Bowker, Velez, Ishikawa and Whiteside as reserves with Buster and Matt Downs going to Fresno, but I'm not at all sure of that. DeRosa starts at 2B with Uribe as the utility IF, Bowker in LF and Nate in RF, at least until Freddy Sanchez comes back, which doesn't look like anytime soon as he has yet to face live pitching.

College Corner: Andrew Barbosa

Randy Fontanez of the University of South Florida, pitched a no-hitter Friday night against Notre Dame. As I was looking up Fontanez' season stats, I noticed a name I hadn't seen for awhile, Andrew Barbosa. Andrew is a 6'8", 235 lb LHP who the Giants drafted out of high school in 2006 in round 15. He chose to go to junior college in Florida where he put up decent numbers, and the Giants drafted him again in 2007 in round 48. He again didn't sign and went back to junior college. He showed flashes of brilliance, but battled injuries. It appears that he lost a year somewhere, but in the fall of 2009, he enrolled at USF with the intent of just being a student and not playing baseball. He met with the baseball coaches on the second day of classes, and joined the team as a walk-on. So far, he has the best ERA of the USF starters: 2-1, 3.13, 37.1 IP, 10 BB, 36 K's.

The Giants have a history of persistence in the draft if they like a player. They drafted Alex Hinshaw 3 times before finally signing him. Don't be surprised to see Andrew Barbosa's name somewhere near the bottom of the Giants draft list this June. Don't be surprised if he doesn't sign and goes back to school for his senior season. Maybe they can draft him 4 times?

College Corner: Tyler Holt

Just a quick note on Tyler Holt, who seems to be a popular choice for the Giants to draft late in the first round. The FSU CF hit for the cycle yesterday going 4 for 5. What's more, he did it in order, single, double, triple and finally a HR in the 5'th inning, that's right, the 5'th inning! Holt's season line now stands at .361/.481/.663 with 4 HR's, 5-5 SB's. 14 of his 30 hits have been for extra bases.

What would concern me about Holt is that while he seems to do everything well, he may not have any single dominant tool or skill. Just the fact that he seems to be able to get on base at a high rate plus plays CF probably makes him worth a late first round pick, you ideally like to see either more SB's or more HR's to go with the great OBP. His true draft level is probably somewhere in the supplemental round, but if the Giants like him and think he fits their organizational needs, I would have no problem with him as a slight reach pick at #24.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap 03-28-2010

Today's game was like an afterthought given the morning's announcement of the contract extensions for Wilson, Affeldt, and Cain. More on that later. The Giants pretty much sleepwalked through a 7-0 loss to the Padres, and you have to be getting the feeling that they are getting anxious to break camp and get on with the season. Some key lines:

Offense- Nada. 8 scattered hits and a walk. That's it!

Kevin Pucetas- 3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 K's. This was a test of character for Kevin. He started off the game allowing 3 straight hits, a HBP and a BB to drive in the second run. Then with the bases loaded, 0 outs and 2 runs already in, he proceeded to pitch his way out of it recording 3 consecutive outs without allowing any more baserunners to score. I'm not sure where this leaves him in the roster shuffle, but this might have been a more valuable experience for him than if he had breezed through 5 or 6 more innings.

Denny Bautista- 2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 K's. Gotta think this closes the door on his bid for a bullpen spot.

Alex Hinshaw- 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 0 K's. See Denny Bautista, above.

Wilson, Affeldt, Mota- 1 scoreless inning each. I still think Mota has this team made. I would say the final bullpen slot is coming down to Joaquin vs Pucetas with Casilla going on the DL and extended ST, or as insurance in the minors. Casilla was reportedly throwing in the upper 90's in his few appearances.

Notes: Of course, the big news is the contract extensions. Wilson and Affeldt were known to be done deals. Henry Schulman of the Chronicle sniffed out the Cain extension. I love these moves both individually and collectively:

1. I think Wilson is more likely to get better over the next 3 years than worse. Injury is, of course, a concern, but that is true with any pitcher. The time it took for the Giants to get from Robb Nen to Brian Wilson and the pain of that journey makes me want to hang onto him as long as he's healthy and effective. Even with the extension, he's less expensive than either Nen or Benitez were.

2. Affeldt I'm less excited about, but he's built up a track record for effectiveness and he's not old. It's a decent risk-reward ratio for the Giants

3. Love the Cain extension. This keeps the pitching staff together while the Giants bring their position prospects online over the next 3 seasons. It also buys a bit more time to develop pitching prospects like Bumgarner, Wheeler, Concepcion, Sosa and Tanner. Some may be disappointed that it only extends 1 season into free agency. You never want to commit more than 3 years to a pitcher unless you absolutely have to. This gives both sides security in the mid-term and flexibility for the long term.

4. I think this sends a great message that the Giants are able and willing to pay to keep their homegrown talent. Hopefully this quiets down the doomsayers who insist that the Rowand/Zito contracts will cause the Giants to lose their so-called window of opportunity.

5. The amount of $$$ being spent on the pitching staff may signal that the Giants are counting on replacing the current veterans on the team with talent from the farm system as the veteran contracts expire over the next 2-3 seasons.

I'll say it again. I love where this organization is right now. The Giants are as well positioned for the future as any team in baseball with a great core of young MLB talent, an outstanding farm system and an equally outstanding scouting department. It all starts at the top, and I think Neukom has done a great job as Managing Partner so far. Yes, that includes the Bochy and Sabean extensions.

Speaking of Bochy, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has ranked the 30 MLB managers and ranks Bochy at #16 out of 30. I think that's about right. He's not the best manager in baseball by any stretch, but he's not nearly as bad as some fans in cyberspace are making him out to be. His weakness, obviously, is game management. His strengths are maintaining a good attitude in amongst the players and say what you will, the man knows how to build and manage a pitching staff, especially bullpens. IMO, the rap that he won't play young players is unfair too, as he's brought several young players into the team over the last two years, and has given several more opportunities that maybe they didn't take full advantage of.

Baggs has a tweet that Bumgarner has worked out some of the kinks and was hitting 91 MPH consistently in his last minor league camp outing. This is good news. They need to take it slowly with this kid. He's only 20 years old and they don't have to have him on the MLB team just yet. Maybe he was just pressing a bit in MLB camp?

Fred Lewis has been out with a pulled muscle in his side. A trip to the DL might temporarily ease some of the roster logjam? He could spend up to a couple of months in extended ST until a need develops on the MLB club, the Giants find a trading partner for him, or they finally release him.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

College Corner: Friday Followup

Friday nights are special in college baseball. That's the night that most college teams send out their #1 starting pitcher and the matchups can be downright scintillating. Last night was no exception. Here's the rundown:

Deck McGuire, Georgia Tech, outdueled Matt Harvey, UNC, but only by an unearned run, final score 2-1: McGuire- 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 10 K's. Harvey- 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 6 BB's, 11 K's.

Drew Pomeranz, Ole Miss, bested Alex Panteliodis, Florida as Ole Miss won 3-2: Pomeranz- 7.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 9 K's. Panteliodis- 7.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 8 K's.

Thomas Royse, Louisville, might have had the most impressive night edging Connecticut 1-0 with help from Neil Holland: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 K's.

Barret Loux continued his impressive season as Texas A&M topped Missouri 3-1: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 11 K's.

Chris Sale, Florida Gulf Coast, gave up a lot of hits, but still got the job done: 8 IP, 10 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K's.

Corey Baker, my sleeper from Pitt: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 7 K's. Runs his record to 6-0 with a 2.89 ERA, 42 K's in 43.2 IP, the 5 BB's only gave him a total of 11 on the year, so the wildness was uncharacteristic.

Among the sophomores, Gerrit Cole pitched during the week and did OK. Taylor Jungman got shelled. Sonny Gray shutout Kentucky 7-0: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R 3 BB, 6 K's.


The shout out from BA jinxed Mario Hollands, UCSB: 6 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 5 BB, 3 K's.

My favorite senior from Villanova, Brian Streilein had another strong game: 9 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K's.

Anthony Ranaudo DNP Friday night, but pitched today and left the game after 2 IP. I take it that's not a good sign?

Also today, Max Bywater of Pepperdine, another one of my sleepers shut out SUNY Stony Brook, a team the shelled Cole Cook on Friday: 9 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K's. His season record stands at 2-3, 2.05, 44 IP, 13 BB's, 43 K's.

Speaking of sleepers, I think I've found a CF that I haven't seen mentioned anywhere before: Tim Ferguson, Jr. Ole Miss; He went 5 for 5, 2B, BB today. .354/.431/.515 with 3 HR's, 14-14 SB's. Last year he hit .358/.397/.520 with 2 HR, 18-19 SB's in just 123 AB's as he split time with another player.

Maybe after next weekend I'll do an update on the pitchers in BA's preseason college top 100 draft prospects.

Addendum: Apparently Ranaudo's 2 IP was by design. LSU is wisely bringing him along slowly. No new injury!

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap 03-27-2010

Today's game was televised in Southern California on Fox Sports West, so I got to see the Giants in action for the first time this spring. The winning formula fell just short today as a strong wind blowing straight in from CF hampered the hitters and some of the Giants younger hitters showed their inexperience as the Angels edged the Giants 4-3.

The matchup featured two soft tossing LHP's in Barry Zito and Joe Saunders. Zito was dealing for the first 5 innings except for a 2 run blast in the 3'rd inning by Bobby Abreu that somehow bored its way through the wind. Zito was visibly ran out of gas in the 6'th when he gave up an RBI double to Torii Hunter followed by an RBI single by Matsui. More on Matsui's hit later.

The Giants loaded the bases with 0 outs in the 4'th inning. Here's where the Giants younger hitters showed their inexperience against the wily Saunders. Buster Posey, Nate Schierholtz and Travis Ishikawa all struck out to leave the bases loaded and never came close to getting a hit. Those 3 went a combined 0 for 11 at the plate. Nate, who was hitting commando with no gloves again particularly looked lost at the plate. Nate was replaced in RF by John Bowker after his 3'rd AB, I would say an ominous sign for Nate. Bowker, in his only AB, crushed a pitch to dead center which would have almost certainly been a HR had it not been for the strong headwind. But, here's the thing about Bowker playing RF. Remember the game winning single to RF by Matsui? Torii Hunter was coming from 2B and there should have been a play at the plate, but Bowker looped a very weak looking throw that made to to about even with the pitching mound. I don't know if Nate would have gotten Hunter at the plate, but I'm pretty sure he would have made it close.

I know Bowker is hot right now, and he appears to have more power potential than Nate, but it's a long season. If the Giants were convinced that Nate was ready to take over RF, they need to give him a chance to work his way out of this slump and try to preserve his D in RF. Just my opinion.

The Giants 3 runs all came in the 5'th inning when they again loaded the bases and this time with 1 out, Bengie Molina crushed a ball to the base of the left-centerfield wall clearing the bases. Bengie is not small, but he does look to be in better condition than last year. I think the humiliation of the offseason has lit a fire in him and I look for a good season. He isn't young any more and will need more days off than he has been used to, which is where Buster may fit in later in the season, if not from the beginning. I just don't want to see Buster become a "Super Two" as a part time player, so it's probably better to send him down for the first two months of the season.

Panda is not thin either, but he definitely looks stronger and his weight looks better proportioned than last year. Hopefully that translates into perfomance on the field. He made a couple of nice plays at 3B today.

Key lines:

Andres Torres- 1 for 4, 2B, BB.

Bengie Molina- 2 for 4, 2B.

Posey, Nate, Travis, Downs- 0 for 15. Ouch!

Barry Zito- 5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 3 K's. Zito pitched much better than this line looks.

Henry Sosa- 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K's. Sosa came in with a runner on first and 1 out after Zito ran out of gas and gave up 2 runs in the inning. Henry loaded the bases, but got out of it. This is the first time I've seen Sosa pitch. He seemed to be able to get strike 1 with a darting fastball, but had trouble getting his secondary stuff over for strikes which forced him to come in with the fastball later in the count. Fortunately the FB had enough on it that he go out of the inning with no further damage.

Santiago Casilla hasn't pitched in awhile. Now comes word on that he has been sidelined with a tight back muscle. Looks like he is going to have to prove he's healthy and able to pitch well in the minors before making any MLB roster.

Fantasy Impact: Sleeper Alert- Adam Moore

I will differentiate Sleepers from Breakout Players by defining a breakout player as someone you expect to be good at some point in their career and you are just trying to time when they make the jump from the usual adjustment period to the MLB to that of a full fledged star. Sleepers, on the other hand, are players nobody expects much of but go ahead and blossom into good players if not stars. Garrett Jones would be an example of a sleeper last year, probably Ben Zobrist too, Jason Bartlett too.

Sleepers, by there very definition are difficult, if not impossible, to predict, because of people seriously think they might be good, then they aren't really sleepers, right? So we'll refine our definition a bit and say that a Sleeper is a player who nobody, or very few people thought had a chance to be good before this season.

Our first Sleeper Alert will be for Adam Moore, C, Seattle Mariners. With Kenji Johjima and Jeff Clement gone, an opportunity was created in Seattle that doesn't come along all that often for a young prospect who hasn't gotten a lot of attention. That's the "perfect storm" that may have lifted Adam Moore's career off the ground. Moore got a look last season and has gotten the bulk of PT this spring. He looks like the odd on favorite to win the starting catcher job with Seattle this season.

First the basics: BD- 05-08-1984. B-R, T-R. 6'3", 210 lbs.

What makes Moore a nice fantasy sleeper choice is that he's always been a good hitting catcher. Part of the reason why he is not well known is he basically only had one college season of record after starting out in JC ball and then tranferring from Nebraska to UT Arlington, a good program to be sure. His line from UT Arlington was a fine .350/.445/.563 with 10 HR's and 22 doubles in 254 AB's. The Mariners drafted him in the 6'th round in 2006 and played at two levels that first summer of his pro career: Short Season: .317/.348/.460 with 9 doubles in 63 AB. Low A; .267/.342/.430 with 7 HR's in 165 AB's, a pretty good line for the Midwest League, a fairly extreme pitcher's league.

2007 was a strong season in high A ball: .307/.371/.543 with 22 HR's. High Desert in the California League is very friendly to hitters so these numbers could be discounted. He continued to hit well the following season in AA in the fairly neutral Southern League: .319/.396/.506 with 14 HR's and 34 doubles.

2009 was not as impressive: AA: .263/.371/.411 with 3 HR's in 95 AB's. AAA: .294/.346/.429 with 9 HR's and 19 doubles in 340 AB's. He appeared in 6 games for Seattle hitting just .217/.250/.391, but the Seattle brass was impressed enough with him to not go after a starting catcher in free agency this offseason. Moore appears to be in line for the starting catcher job and has gotten the bulk of spring training AB's in preparation: .344/.447/.438.

I generally don't recommend drafting sleepers unless you are in a deep league, or a league that only uses players from the NL or AL. I do recommend putting them on your watch list so if one of your drafted players get injured or is having a terrible year, you are ready to pounce before other owners in your league.

What do you think about Adam Moore?

Down on the Farm: Kevin Frandsen Prospect Retrospective

The trade to Boston, ending Kevin Frandsen's career as a San Francisco Giant, at least for now, has to represent a disappointment for veteran Giants prospect watchers. Many of us had high hopes for him, not as a star on the level of a Pablo Sandoval or a Tim Lincecum, but as a solid player who would liberate us from Ray Durham's bloated contract. As with the passing of any era, no matter how small, a trip down memory lane helps to bring closure.

Kevin Frandsen's story was enhanced by a local flavor. He was a graduate of Bellarmine Prep in San Jose and attended San Jose State. Although the details would not come out until he started playing for the Giants at the MLB level, Kevin grew up a Giants fan. In fact, the family knew and was friendly with the Dave Righetti family. Kevin had an older brother who died at a young age from medical problems who was a rabid Giants fan. It was almost like Kevin was on a personal mission to live his brother's dream and not in a negative way.

He was drafted in 2004 by the Giants in round 12 at the age of 22 after a solid college career. He was a hit machine at San Jose State hit .317, .332 and .321 in his 3 seasons there. He had an OBP>.400 all 3 seasons, but half of his IsoOBP(OBP-BA) was due to HBP's rather than BB's. That was a trend that would continue as a pro. He didn't show much power, and his SLG% actually declined all 3 years. He finished with the school record in hits and HBP's. Frandsen signed quickly after the draft and was assigned to Short-Season Salem-Keizer where he went .296/.369/.439 in 25 games.

2005 was the season things really took off for Kevin. Jumped to high A San Jose, he thrived on home cooking and showed off his remarkable hit tool going .351/.429/.467. He showed doubles power with 22 in 291 AB's, but only 2 HR's. He showed some speed with 13 SB's, but was CS 11 times. Promoted to AA Norwich midseason, he held his own in a very tough environment for hitters with a .287 BA and got a late season promotion to AAA Fresno where he again tattooed the ball to a .351/.378/.543 line. Kevin's meteoric rise through the system thrilled a lot of Giants prospect watchers who were starved for a homegrown talent at the MLB level and were frustrated by Ray Durham's bloated contract and frequent trips to the DL. He started picking up nicknames. Prospecthound, if you are out there somewhere, I believe you simply called him "The Kevin".

Still, Frandsen had his detractors who were concerned that he didn't show enough power or draw enough walks. One website that posted daily minor league highlights would make comments like "Kevin Frandsen went 3 for 5 with 2 doubles, but he didn't draw any walks." It became almost comical. In retrospect, maybe they were right.

The 2006 season was good, if not as spectacular with a .307/.361/.444 line in AAA Fresno. Kevin got his first taste of major league action that season but struggled to a .215/.284/.323 line. The following season, he was too good for AAA with a .403/.506/.522 line in 19 games. With Ray Durham struggling in SF, Kevin got his chance and performed creditably finishing with a line of .269/.331/.379. Still, those of us who were wowed by his spectacular BA's in the minors were a bit disappointed.

It looked like 2008 might be the year Kevin pushed Ray Durham out of the starting 2B job, in indeed Durham was traded to Milwaukee that year mainly due to declining defense. It was not to be. Frandsen struggled all spring with Achilles tendonitis. He finally sat out a few days, but when he came back, he tore the tendon and underwent season ending surgery. Kevin came to spring training in 2009 thinking he would pick up where he left off before the injury, but the Giants felt he had lost a step or two in the field and were dazzled by the speed of Emmanuel Burriss. Burriss won the starting 2B job and Kevin got sent down to Fresno. He expressed his frustration publicly putting him further into the Giants doghouse. His line at Fresno was solid, but not up to his old standards at .295/.352/.438. He did convert some of his doubles into 13 HR's. After Burriss struggled and was sent down, Kevin was one of several players who went through a revolving door of 2B tryouts in San Francisco, but he again struggled to a .140 batting average. The Giants ultimately traded for Freddy Sanchez and Kevin's Giants career was all but over.

Kevin Frandsen's career minor league line with the Giants was .318/.381/.452 over 355 games. His career line at the MLB level was .240/.304/.341. I think the lesson to be drawn from Kevin's experience is just how difficult it is to achieve a career as a major league baseball player. It remains to be seen how he will do with his new team, but it's hard to imagine him as more than a seldom used reserve in Boston who has a former MVP as the starting 2B and a newly signed FA as the starting SS. Those guys aren't going to sit very often barring injury. Still Kevin Frandsen plays the game better than all but a tiny fraction of those who play it. Blessed with extraordinary eye-hand coordination, he can often make solid contact with a bat on a small round ball thrown at 90+ MPH while taking unknown changes in direction on its way to the plate. He actually played games at the major league level, which is more than 99% of minor league ballplayers can ever say. That he had a minor league career is more than 99% of college players can ever say, and that he had a college career is more than 99% of high school players can ever say. To those of us who never played at even the high school level, Kevin Frandsen is 1 in several millions. As a measure of just how tough it is to play major league baseball, that might not have been quite good enough.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring Training Update: 03-26-2010

Tim Lincecum had his strikeout mojo going today as the Giants used a, by now, familiar formula of strong pitching and timely hitting to down the LA Angels 5-3. Key lines:

Aaron Rowand- 2 for 3, 2B, 3B. Rowand just keeps rolling. I sure hope he's saving some of this for the regular season!

Edgar Renteria- 1 for 3. BA= .277. Rent has 7 RBI's in his last 9 games played and 9 on the spring.

Andres Torres- 1 for 3, 2 SB(2). Torres continues to show why he should be one of the reserve OF's if not a starter!

Buster Posey- 1 for 1, 2B. BA= .415. This is going to be very interesting come time to break camp.

Eugenio Velez- 2 for 4, Error. Velez started out at 2B in this game. No details on the error. I guess the Giants are looking at all MI possiblities before trading for a reserve.

Tim Lincecum- 4 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K's. Timmy ran out of pitches after 4 innings at 84. He probably could have gone 1 or 2 more innings if it was the regular season. Not as clean as we would love to see, but at least he had the strikeout mojo working.

Waldis Joaquin- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. ERA= 2.53. I would hope that Waldis is not under consideration as trade bait for a reserve MI rental.

Brandon Medders- 1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 0 K's. Two rough outings in a row for Medders.

Jeremy Affeldt- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. Affeldt gets back on track after his last poor outing.

Guillermo Mota- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. All but wraps up a roster spot, I would think.

Addendum: Now it's being reported that Timmy left the game with a cut on his right middle finger. No other details available. Rotoworld didn't seem to think it was too serious.

Spring Training Update: Trade Winds

Roster crunches throughout baseball has a bunch of teams looking to make trades, not the least of which are the Giants. These aren't going to change the balance of power in the NL West, but it makes for interesting speculation from roster watchers. Let's try to break it down:

The Giants are looking for a utility IF who can play both 2B and SS. That tells you something about both Kevin Frandsen and Juan Uribe and possibly about how long the Giants think Freddy Sanchez is going to be out.

The Giants are looking to trade Fred Lewis and Frandsen, which also tells you something about Frandsen.

The D'Backs would be willing to part with Augie Ojeda, but not for either FLew or Kevbo. The D'Backs are looking for pitching.

Joe Pun on mentioned that the Giants bullpen candidates are being heavily scouted by other teams.

Playing armchair GM for a minute, here's what I'd try to do:

1. Find a couple of teams that might want FLew or Frandsen. Be willing to accept a low-minors prospect with some promise who's struggled, kind of the same idea as Darren Ford. Who knows, they might get lucky again.

2. Trade a surplus bullpen arm or two for Ojeda or some other middle infielder who can play SS.

Of course, this begs the question of what happens when Sanchez comes back, but the Giants are anxious to win early this year as they feel last year's slow start might have cost them a playoff spot, so they may decide to worry about what happens when Sanchez comes back, when he actually comes back. Wouldn't be the first time the Giants have played it that way.

Farm Report: I recommend checking out Joe Pun's latest photo gallery from yesterday's low A/Hi A matchup against the A's. A couple of comments on the pics:

Edward Concepcion looks like a pitcher to me. Almost a perfect power pitcher's body. Nice looking form too!

I was surprised at how thin Wendell Fairley looks. I'm not sure where I got this idea, but I had him envisioned as at least slightly overweight, but in this pic, he looks like he has significant room to fill out.

Late entry: New round of options: Darren Ford to AA, Francisco Peguero to Augusta(I was hoping to see him in San Jose. Sometimes these assignments change at the last minute so we'll see). Jesus Guzman and Tony Pena to minor league camp.

Late entry: Now comes word that Kevbo has, indeed, been traded to the Boston Red Sox, of all teams! The Giants get either the proverbial PTBNL or cash. So, that shoe has dropped. Maybe I'll do a Kevin Frandsen prospect retrospective when I can put it together. It was a great story while it lasted. I wish him all the best with his new team. If anybody deserves to find a niche, it's The Kevin.

College Corner: Marquee Matchups

This promises to be the best weekend in college baseball so far this season with several great matchups on tap:

1. Deck McGuire vs Matt Harvey: Georgia Tech goes to Chapel Hill for an ACC showdown where Matt Harvey is finally starting to show the stuff that made him a highly ranked draft prospect out of high school 3 years ago. Meanwhile, with Anthony Ranaudo missing the early season for LSU, McGuire has been the top college draft eligible pitcher, although he may have been recently passed on some draft boards by Drew Pomeranz. Great Friday night matchup here.

2. Drew Pomeranz vs Alex Panteliodis: Speaking of Pomeranz.....Ole Miss hosts Florida in a great SEC matchup with Pomeranz, who has had a dominating early season against Panteliodis who has not gotten a lot of attention, but has pitched every bit as well as higher touted college pitchers this season.

3. San Diego vs Coastal Carolina: More of a team matchup than any individual players, but what a 3 game series against two great programs on opposite ends of the coast. Players to watch include Sammy Solis, Kyle Blair and Victor Sanchez of San Diego, Rico Noel for Coastal Carolina.

Mario Hollands, Sr. LHP for UCSB gets some love in BA's Weekend Preview. It's free content, so go look it up at Love his size and sounds like his fastball has taken a jump this year to go along with secondary stuff he was forced to use in the past. He's a guy who caught my eye in the boxscores. Nice to get some more info on him.

Checking in on my man, Ricky Oropesa of USC: Ricky's having a fine season so far with a line of .341/.432/.671 with 6 HR's and 5-7 SB's. USC takes on Stanford in a nice Pac 10 matchup this weekend.

Looking over the D1 baseball schedule today, there's a ton more interesting matchups around the country with draft implications: Virginia vs Clemson, ASU vs Cal, LSU vs Tennessee(Anthony Ranaudo gets a decent test), FSU vs Maryland, Texas vs Texas Tech, Louisville vs Connecticut, Miami vs NC State, Alabama vs Arkansas and Texas A&M vs Missouri.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap- 03-25-2010

The Giants followed an increasingly familiar formula to victory against cross-bay rivals Oakland A's with a solid start from the pitching, timely hitting and throttling relief pitching to grab the W 6-3. Key lines:

Aaron Rowand- 2 for 4, 2B. I think Rowand has had a key line in just about every game he's appeared in this spring. Let's just hope he can keep it going in the regular season.

John Bowker- 2 for 3, 2 2B, BB. Bowker isn't about to let to door he's wedged his foot in close, is he?

Bengie Molina- 2 for 4. BA= .390. Get the feeling that Big Money feels like he has something to prove this season?

Juan Uribe- 2 for 3, BB. Uribe played SS tonight with DeRosa at 2B. Do you think that just might have something to do with the way Bowker's been hitting?

Todd Wellemeyer- 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K's, GO/AO= 9/2.

Romo, Runzler and Wilson pitched perfect 7'th, 8'th and 9'th innings respectively.

There are rumors of an impending contract extension for Brian Wilson. I'm sure some will argue against it on the grounds that closers are fungible. Just remember how long it took the Giants to get from Robb Nen to Brian Wilson and how painful the interim was.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap- 03-24-2010 Split Squad Game 2

John Bowker may have won himself a roster spot tonight by driving in all 7 runs in the Giants 7-0 victory in the second split-squad game of the day, a makeup of a previously rained out ST game. Key lines:

Eugenio Velez- 1 for 4, SB(4).

Travis Ishikawa- 2 for 4. Baggs reports that he made a couple of nifty plays at first base too.

Buster Posey- 2 for 3, HBP. BA= .400.

John Bowker- 3 for 4, 2B, 2 HR(4). Leads all of baseball in ST RBI's! I haven't been the biggest Bowker supporter in the world, although I love to see all of the Giants prospects succeed. I just have always thought Nate Schierholtz had the potential to be a more complete player, and maybe he does. The Giants have such a dire need for more power in the lineup, though, that it sure seems like they have to give Bowker another chance to prove he can't get the job done after a game and spring like this. As Bill King would say, "Holy Toledo!"

Henry Sosa- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K's. ERA= 0.00 in 8.2 IP. I was really hoping to see Sosa stretched out to 3 Innings, but it's just good to see him healthy and pitching well.

Horacio Ramirez- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. I believe this is Ramirez' first ST appearance. It looks like he might be this year's version of Ramon Ortiz, a veteran reclamation project who will work on his game in Fresno and be an insurance policy againts injury in the MLB rotation.

Tony Pena, Denny Bautista, Waldis Joaquin and Felix Romero all pitched 1 scoreless inning each.

Jeremy Affeldt signed a contract extension today. This would have been his final year under the old contract. The new one gives him a $500K raise for this year as well as a guaranteed $4.5 M next year as well as a $5.5 M team option for 2012 with a $500 K buyout. With all the great bullpen arms coming up through the farm system, I'm not sure the Giants needed to do this, but Affeldt has been solid for several years and isn't old. If the kids kick the door down, it will create a good problem and maybe create some trade opportunities.

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap- 03-24-2010 Split Squad Game 1

The Giants suffered their first real bullpen meltdown losing to Cincinnati 10-3 as Cincy scored 7 runs in their last inning at bat against Jeremy Affeldt and Brandon Medders. Key lines:

Aaron Rowand- 1 for 3. BA= .452.

Edgar Renteria- 1 for 4, HR(2). Rent now has a ST line of .275/.302/.375, better than last year's OPS of .635, but still way off his career OPS of .746. Anything approaching his career line would be a big plus this year.

Jonathan Sanchez- 6.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K's. Nice effort from Sanchez to rebound from his last very poor outing. Errors by Uribe and DeRosa did not help.

Drew Biery, Brandon Belt and Brock Bond each got a cameo AB with Belt delivering a hit. I hope this was a reward for good play in the minor league camp?

Drew Stubbs hit his 4'th ST HR in the 7 run 8'th for Cincinnati. I have Stubbs as a likely 20/20 man for fantasy baseball. He may hurt on BA though. He's hitting .297 on the spring.

Homer Bailey was the starter for Cincy: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 0 K's. I have Bailey as a sleeper pick for a fantasy SP.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap- 03-23-2010

The Giants today cruised to another Cactus League win behind the strong pitching of Matt Cain and the hitting of multiple players. Here's the key lines:

Andres Torres- 2 for 4, 2B, 3B. All but wraps up a roster spot if he hadn't done so already.

Edgar Renteria- 1 for 3, SF. BA= .275. It's not much, but it's a start. The glory days are, in all probability, behind him, but a bounceback to near career averages would be welcome.

Pablo Sandoval- 2 for 4, 2 2B. Panda shows no ill effects of the sutured laceration in his leg.

Aubrey Huff- 1 for 3, 2B, BB. Another productive game from Huff.

Bengie Molina- 2 for 4, 2 2B. I think we will be glad the Giants re-signed Bengie. He just needs to hit lower in the order and take a few more days off so he doesn't wear down.

Kevin Frandsen- 1 for 4, BB. BA= .243. I don't know about Kevbo moving behind Downs on the depth chart. Not that Frandsen has earned anything, but Downs looked pretty lost last year in his cameo. I guess it has as much to do with his fielding range as anything. I can't see the Giants getting anything of value for him, maybe a young guy in the low minors who is struggling and has some upside, someone like Darren Ford?

Matt Cain- 6.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K's, GO/AO= 6/11. Must have had the heater going despite the low K's. He tends to get a lot of flyouts when the old 4-seamer is popping.

Juan Uribe has a sore quad. You know all those utility players Sabes signed over the winter? Well, he might just end up needing all of them. Sanchez is already out for opening day. If Uribe is too, who plays 2B? Downs? Frandsen? Me, I'd move DeRosa over there and let another OF play. Torres has certainly earned some AB's!

Bumgarner got his ticket to Fresno punched. That is probably what was best for him all along. As he put it, he's only 20 years old and still way ahead of the curve. Hopefully his mechanical and velocity issues will get worked out.

Speaking of Bumgarner, I will be watching AA Richmond closely this year to see if other pitchers suffer the same dramatic declines in K's as Sosa, Bumgarner and Alderson did last year. Maybe something in the instruction there?

Speaking of Sosa, Henry will get a split-squad start tomorrow. I'm glad to see this. I really hope the Giants use him as a starter in the minors this year. It's much easier for him to move back to relieving than back to starting. The Giants desperately need another high ceiling starter in the upper minors to back up Bumgarner. I wouldn't mind seeing Waldis Joaquin go back to starting this year too! Even if there isn't room in the MLB rotation in the future, it opens up some trade options and they can always move back to the bullpen if nothing else works out.

Around the League:

A couple of fantasy sleepers pitched well today and look to be on track for starting rotation gigs:

Felipe Paulino, Houston- 5 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K's. This guy has mid-upper 90's heat. Just a matter of time until he puts it all together. I remember the Giants raked him last year, but I was impressed by his stuff. He just had no command. He gets that and it's lights out!

Max Scherzer, Detroit- 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K's. Coming off another strong performance in his last outing. I have a feeling the D'Backs are going to regret trading him for Jackson, but maybe he needed a change of scenery?

Yesterday, Clayton Richards of San Diego, another sleeper nominee pitched 6 shutout innings after some rough outings. That probably locked up a rotation spot for him. He should be a decent bet for a late round draft given his career trajectory and home yard.

Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati- Chapman was lifted from yesterday's game with a sore back. Apparently it had been bothering him for a week and he neglected to tell anyone. Chapman had been lighting up radar guns and appeared to have a chance to crack Cincy's starting rotation out of ST. They might opt to be more cautious with him now?

Blast From the Past: 1984

There was an interesting article on The Hardball Times yesterday looking at historical pitching data(credit for linking the article):'t-know-about-starting-rotations

As measured by ERA+, the 1984 Giants had the second worst starting rotation IN THE HISTORY OF BASEBALL! Now, I'm not the biggest fan of ERA+ as a statistic, especially when used to compare one era to another, but the entry got me to thinking, "who were the pitchers in that Giants rotation, anyway?"

There are basically 3 eras in the history of my Giants fandom:

1966-1971. The Wonder Years! I was 10 years old when I discovered baseball and the Giants on the radio. I was lucky enough to get in on one of the more amazing periods by any team in baseball history. The last few years of Willie Mays' career. Willie McCovey winning some HR and RBI titles on his way to the HOF. Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry fashioning Hall of Fame careers. The Giants not winning a World Series! Those were days filled with wonder and dreams.

1972-1985. The Dark Years. Willie Mays traded and the end of his career. The dashed promise of of another great team built around Bobby Bonds, Garry Maddox, Gary Mathews, George Foster and Dave Kingman. Johnnie Lemaster. My family moved away from Northern California in 1972. I could occasionally find a broadcast at night, but the reception would fade in and out. I still tried to look up the boxscores every day, but I didn't always have access to a newspaper and it wasn't quite the same anyway. I went on to college, med school, marriage and residency. Not a lot of room for being a baseball fan in there. They had a pretty good team in 1978 with Jack Clark in his prime, Willie McCovey in the Indian Summer of his career, and a tough pitching staff led by Vida Blue and a young Rob Knepper. By this time I was living in Southern California and would catch an occasional TV or radio broadcast on the Dodger stations. The one moment that stands out in my mind from this entire era, for some reason, is Mike Ivie hitting a pinch-hit grand slam against the Dodgers in Candlestick Park.

1986-Present. Will Clark and Beyond. I will always believe that the drafting of Will Clark was THE watershed moment in the history of the San Francisco Giants. I know there have been several times when the team almost left town, but in my mind, Will Clark saved Giants baseball in San Francisco. Around this time, ESPN started showing a lot more games on TV, so it was a lot easier to tune into games and get to know the players better. Then came Barry Bonds, Pac Bell Park, the internets and finally, MLB packages on satellite TV. I had kids of my own who got to see the last few years of Barry Bonds' career. I had come full circle!

Back to the 1984 Giants and the second worst starting rotation in baseball history. Who were these pitchers? What was the rest of that team like? What was their W-L record? I couldn't have been good! I looked up the team's stats under Historical Stats on

The team wasn't all bad. It had three .300 hitters: Jeffrey Leonard, Chili Davis and what was left of Al Oliver. Dan Gladden hit .351 over 87 games. It had three hitters with 20 HR's: Leonard, Davis and Bob Brenly. Dusty Baker played on that team. Jack Clark went .320.434/.530 with 11 HR's but for only 57 games and punched his ticket out of town. Of course, it also had Johnnie Lemaster, the absolute worst hitter to ever put on a Giants uniform with the possible exception of Hal Lanier. All in all, it was a good hitting team though: 2'nd in the NL in BA, #3 in OBP, #3 in HR's, and #5 in Runs. As with the entire Giants history, one has to wonder what might have been had Jack Clark played a full season.

But, who were those pitchers, the members of the 2'nd worst starting rotation of all time?

"Wild" Bill Laskey was the workhorse of the staff pitching 207.2 innings. That produced a 9-14 record with a 4.33 ERA. Not bad by today's standards but that was a different era. Laskey wasn't much of a pitcher. He just threw the ball up there, let 'em hit it and hoped his fielders would catch it as his 71 K/50 BB will attest.

Mike Krukow was a member of that team. Krukow would go on to greater things after Roger Craig became the manager, but he wasn't very good in 1984: 11-12, 4.56, 199.1 IP, 78 BB, 141 K's.

Mark Davis would go on to have some good seasons and eventually cash in on a big free agent contract, but he was downright terrible in 1984: 5-17, 5.36, 174.2 IP, 54 BB, 124 K's.

I have no recollection of Jeff Robinson: 7-15, 4.56, 171.2 IP, 52 BB, 102 K's.

The 5'th starter was by committee and spread out over several pitchers. Mark Grant made the most starts at 10 games with a record of 1-4 and an ERA of 6.37. Atlee Hammaker was a bright spot making 6 starts with an ERA of 2.18.

All in all, the Giants finished with a 66-96 record. They scored 682 runs, but allowed 807, 60 more than the Cincinnati Reds who were the second worst pitching team in the NL that year. Even a full contribution from Jack Clark would not have saved that season. Clark got shipped out to St. Louis the following offseason for 4 stiffs. 1985 would be an even worse season before Will Clark and Roger Craig arrived to save the team in 1986.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap 03-22-2010

The Giants used a by now familiar formula to squeeze out a 5-4 win against the Rangers today in Cactus League action. Key lines:

Aaron Rowand- 0 for 2, HBP, SB(1). Rowand seems to do something a leadoff hitter needs to do every day.

Darren Ford- 1 for 2, 3B. Ford continues his Randy Elliott spring! Will have to keep doing it in AA during the regular season, but his stock with the organization has undoubtedly taken a big jump up.

Aubrey Huff- 1 for 3. Huff continues to hit for both average and power.

Nate Schierholtz- 1 for 3, 3B, BB. Nice bounce back game for Nate, especially taking the walk.

Barry Zito- 6.1 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 4 K's. Not quite a QS, but if he can do this in the first 2 months which are historically very difficult for him, we'll be OK.

Jeremy Affeldt- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K's. ERA= 2.57. I'd like to see fewer walks, but Affeldt seems to be ready to start the season.

Guillermo Mota- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. Nice bounceback for Mota who is back in the driver's seat for a roster spot.

College Corner: Hitting Update

Andy Seiler's latest mock draft has Christian Colon, SS, CS Fullerton, falling to #24 with the Giants. After this weekend, I think he will probably start moving back up most draft boards. While some of us have been targeting CF's for the Giants, and I would love for them to draft an athletic CF with power, Seiler has had shortstops Rick Hague of Rice and Christian Colon tabbed in his two most recent mock drafts. Let's take a rundown on the college postion players ranked in BA's preseason top 100 College Draft Prospects:

#6 Christian Colon, SS, CS Fullerton: .299/.413/.545 with 5 HR's and 7 SB's. Colon had a strong weekend to bring his numbers up to respectability. If he keeps it up, he should move back up near the top of the position player draft ranks.

#7 Zack Cox, 3B, Arkansas: .405/.489/.568 with 3 HR's. Possibly a bit shy in the power department so far, but Cox is having a tremendous season so far and shouldn't have hurt his draft stock at all.

#9 Bryce Brentz, OF, Middle Tennessee State: .350/.442/.663 with 7 HR's. Great numbers, but maybe not quite enough to keep his stock from slipping due to doubts about quality of competition?

#10 Rick Hague, SS, Rice: .268/.337/.427 with 3 HR's. I didn't like Hague much in the preseason and I like him even less now. Although he's been a bit better lately, he could fall out of the first round entirely, if not the first 2 or 3 rounds. Historically, Rice players who drop in the draft go back for their senior season.

#12 Jedd Gyorko, SS, West Virginia: .363/.441/.688 with 6 HR's. Now we are starting to get into Giants territory when you factor in HS talent. Another player who had a big weekend to boost his season numbers. Gyorko was already doing OK, but not great. I think the concern with him is he may not be able to stick at SS.

#14 Brett Eibner, RHP/OF, Arkansas: .306/.439/.673 with 5 HR's. It's not clear whether Eibner is going to be drafted as a pitcher or hitter. It may be that he is a tweener who is pretty good at both, but not quite good enough at either. I tend to believe it's easier to convert from hitting to pitching than the other way around, so I'd try him as a hitter first. Most of all, I'd probably draft someone else in the first round.

#15 Todd Cunningham, OF, Jacksonville State: .316 with 3 HR's, 3 Triples, 6 doubles, 13 BB's, 4 HBP's. I don't have a complete stat line, but .316 is disappointing for a guy who profiles as a corner OF from a smaller program. Still, he shows good plate discipline and half his hits are for extra bases. He's still in position to make a strong run before the draft.

#17 Jarrett Parker, OF, Virginia: .308/.396/..487 with 1 HR, 4 SB's. Gotta think his stock has slipped. Would be a great choice for the Giants in round 2 or even 3.

#20 Michael Choice, OF, Texas-Arlington: .375/.510/.750 with 7 HR's and 5 SB's in 7 attempts. Choice is playing CF, but I haven't talked about him before. Possibly some concern about strength of competition, but putting up great numbers. Not sure if he profiles to stay in CF in the pros.

#24 Gary Brown, OF, CS Fullerton: .466/.489/.716 with 2 HR's, 8 2B's, 12-14 SB's. Has gotten off to a huge start this season. may not have improved stock that much as he does not project to much power. Does just 1 BB, count against him with a .466 BA?

#26 Leon Landry, OF, LSU: .375/.427/.625 with 2 HR's, 8-9 SB's. As great as Gary Brown's season has been, I think I'd prefer Landry due to slightly more power projection and better plate discipline although his isn't great either.

#27 Austin Wates, OF, Virginia Tech: .444/.535/.708 with 2 HR's, 7 SB's in 8 attempts. Seems to profile more as a corner OF or 1B, but has been raking this year. Maybe would like to see more HR's?

#28 Micah Gibbs, C, LSU: .359/.432/.547 with 3 HR's. An offensive catcher from a big time program. The Giants wouldn't?....nah!

#29 Yasmani Grandal, C, Miami: .368/.511/.529 with 1 HR, 8 2B. Good defensive catcher whose main offensive skill seems to be an ability to draw walks. Not a terrible package.

#33 Tony Thompson, 3B, Kansas: I can't find any record of Thompson playing this year. Not sure what that does to his draft stock, but it's almost certainly not helping it.

#34 Cameron Rupp, C, Texas: .278/.395/.444 with 3 HR's. Starting to creep into Giants second round territory(#76) here). Texas has really struggled at the plate this year. I'd be very worried about Rupp's bat in the pros even if drafted in round 2.

#36 Rob Brantly, C, UC Riverside: .327/.381/.545 with 2 HR's. We seem to be in a run of catchers here. Another offensive catcher who bats lefty. Draft eligible soph makes him likely to go back to school.

#41 Derek Dietrich, SS/3B, Georgia Tech: .303/.452/.576 with 4 HR's. Maybe a bit disappointing for a guy who is very questionable to stick at SS? May be worth a 3'rd round pop if he falls that far.

#43 Hunter Morris, 1B, Auburn: .425/.462/.793 with 8 HR's. As much trouble as the Giants have had finding an offensive first baseman, I wouldn't be totally opposed to grabbing Morris in round 2. Apparently not considered quite an elite hitter, he certainly has been raking this year.

#45 Blake Forsythe, C, Tennessee: .200/.395/.333. Forsythe is having a miserable season. With as many college catchers vying for second round action, Forsythe's stock has probably dropped out of sight.

#46 Tyler Holt, OF, FSU: .348/.466/.580 with 2 HR's, 4-4 SB's. Gotta love the ability to take a walk. Probably has enough power to make it stick at higher levels. Would like to see more SB's out of a leadoff hitter, but I wouldn't complain one bit if the Giants took him in round 2, or even round 1 for that matter, but I think they could wait for round 2.

#47 Ryan LaMarre, OF, Michigan: Hasn't played due to injury, but his scouting video's are impressive. Could be a bargain if his draft stock falls due to the injury.

#51 Ross Wilson, 2B, Alabama: .308/.413/.554 with 4 HR's. Starting to get into 3'rd round territory here. I'm not a fan of drafting second basemen in the first 5 rounds but wouldn't be dismayed in round 3. Would prefer Gauntlett Eldemire who is listed at #54 or one of several college pitchers. Barrett Loux at #61? Maybe his stock has risen too much?

#54 Gauntlett Eldemire, OF, Ohio: .429/.514/.714 with 3 HR's, 6-7 SB's. Absolutely my favorite college player, not even close, and not just because of the name! I don't know if his stock has risen with his great stats, but would be the steal of the draft in round 3. Athletic player with great size who projects to fill out his body a lot.

#56 Mickey Wiswall, 1B/3B, Boston College: .263/.359/.563 with 5 HR's. The BA is disappointing. Not enough power shown to make up for lack of contact.

#59 Michael Kvasnicka, C/OF, MInnesota: .333/.443/.653, 4 HR's, 14 out of 24 hits for extra bases. Seems like a pure hitter type. Numbers are borderline for making it worth the investment of a high draft pick.

#64 Andy Wilkins, 1B, Arkansas: .303/.448/.697 with 7 HR's. Starting to creep toward 4'th round territory here, which might not be a terrible pick(kind of damning with faint praise here). Would make sense for the Giants only because they have had some much trouble finding offense at first base over the years.

#68 Victor Sanchez, 3B, San Diego: .276/.408/.431 with 2 HR's. Those numbers just won't get it done for a college corner IF. Guessing he'll go back to school if his numbers don't improve this year.

#69 Michael Olt, 3B, Connecticut: .343/.370/.642 with 5 HR's. A somwhat controversial player. Has nice numbers even for a corner IF, but I saw his birthdate and he might be old even for a college junior. May not be a terrible risk in the 4'th round?

#72 Cory Vaughn, OF, San Diego State: .323/.413/.452 with 2 HR's. Son of former MLB slugger Greg Vaughn. Plays CF with nice size and projectability even if the numbers are underwhelming. I could see John Barr taking a player like this in round 4.

#73 Kyle Parker, OF, Clemson: .414/.534/.829 with 9 HR's. Plays RF which hurts him with the scouts, but maybe with the premium currently being placed on CF's, a guy like this may become an undervalued commodity? Still, I'm guessing his draft stock has risen from the preseason vs a player like Bryce Brentz whose stock may be slipping.

#76 Cody Hawn, 1B, Tennessee: .288/.395/.530 with 4 HR's. Getting into 5'th round territory here. Again, not enough for a college first baseman. I can just here the Goldie Hawn jokes now!

#77 Joey Terdoslavich, 1B, Long Beach State: .294/.360/.456 with 2 HR's. Long Beach State has a home park that is notoriously hard on hitters, and Dirtbag hitters often project very well in the pros, but these numbers are still disappointing. As a draft eligible soph, he will probably return to school.

#78 Rob Segedin, 3B, RHP, Tulane: .439/.510/.780 with 3 HR's, 17 2B's! in 82 AB's. 21 of 36 hits have been for extra bases. Has not pitched this season so seems to be going for a hitting career and why not? .926 fielding % on 5 errors might be a concern. I don't know anything about his range. Might profile more as a first baseman in the pros which would hurt a lot. RS soph due to back injury in 2008. Obviosly over that now.

#82 Cody Stanley, C UNC Wilmington: .300/.417/.600 with 6 HR's. A lefthanded hitting catcher.

#87 Josh Rutledge, SS, Alabama: .387/.429/.627 with 3 HR's, 6 SB's. Not the son of former Tide QB Jeff Rutledge. Key question is whether he can play SS in the pros.

#91 Miles Hamblin, C, Ole Miss: .219/.333/.375. Not good numbers for a college catcher.

#94 Devin Harris, OF, East Carolina: .323/.384/.723 with 6 HR's. Listed at 6'4", 220 lbs. would seem to profle as a LF at best.

#95 Matt Den Dekker, OF, Florida: .358/.424/.506 with 2 HR, 7-8 SB's. A senior. Athletic CF with a bit of power who has never quite lived up to his promise. I could really see the Giants nabbing a player like this in a later round.

#97 Kevin Keyes, OF, Texas: .286/.360/.416 with 2 HR's, 4-4 SB's. If you haven't seen scouting video of this guy, I highly recommend it. Huge OF at 6'4", 225 lbs. Certainly makes loud contact in the batting cage! Numbers are disappointing so far, but again, I could so see the Giants drafting a player like this in round 6 or 7.

#98 Chris Bisson, 2B, Kentucky: .370/.469/.556 with 2 HR's. 2-6 SB's. Has missed some time this season. This type of player doesn't excite me too much, but not a terrible pick for the later single digit rounds.

#99 Mark Canha, OF, California: .377/.476/.565 with 3 HR's. I think I'd rather see the Giants take a Kevin Keyes or Den Dekker in the round 6-7 range based on upside than Canha.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap 03-21-2010

The Giants continued their winning ways with more great pitching and timely hitting to edge Arizona 4-3. Key lines:

Aaron Rowand- 1 for 2, BB. BA= .500.

John Bowker- 1 for 5, HR(2). Bowker making a push for a roster spot.

Brandon Crawford- 1 for 3, BB, SB(1).

Kevin Pucetas- 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 0 K's, GO/AO= 9/5. Pucetas had it going again today. He's matching Wellemeyer inning for inning, run for run in the battle for the #5 starter role, but it's Wellemeyer's to lose. Pucetas will be the backup arm at AAA.

Henry Sosa- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. Henry still has a 0 ERA. Nice to see a couple of K's in this game. I don't see him making the team, but he sure has had an impressive spring so far.

Waldis Joaquin- 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K's. Waldis seems to have steadied himself since a rough early appearance or two.

Joe Pun at has some nice pics from the minor league games today. Sounds like Timmy is still finding his release point?

Someone asked about Eddy Martinez-Esteve the other day. Well, Joe has a nice pic of his backside, but clearly showing the name on the back of his shirt. Eddy looks to be in excellent shape. I would think this is the year he moves up to Fresno and sees what he can do there.

Around the League:

Joe Mauer reportedly has agreed to an 8 year, $180 M+ extension with the Minnesota Twins. This will make my wife, who is a Twins fan happy.

Fantasy Impact: All Breakout Team

The Holy Grail in fantasy baseball is to land that breakout player. A player who other owners ignore and you draft late, or pick up on the free agent market, and he busts out to unexpecedly(to everyone but you) carry your team to the championship. So, who is this year's Ben Zobrist or Zack Grienke? I probably don't know any more than you do. It's always fun to try to predict who might have that big breakout season and make you look like a genius though. One disclaimer: You never want to build your team around hopes for a breakout season. It's always fun to prognosticate, but you are much more likely to get results from players who have established track records of productivity in the major leagues. Still, you also want to try to grab 2 or 3 breakout candidates late in the draft rather than settle for the mediocre proven production that may be still available. Here's my All-Breakout team for 2010. Criteria is that they are no longer Rookie of the Year eligible.:

Catcher: Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles- This one is a no-brainer. He's on pretty much everybody else's list too, so he's very unlikely to be a bargain on draft day. My only caveat is that I think his breakout will be so huge, it may be worthwhile to grab him right behind the elite hitters even if you already have Joe Mauer on your team. Wieters will probably out-perform a lot of utility players so you aren't hurting yourself by carrying two catchers. In the process, you deny another team the luxury of having a breakout, elite hitting catcher to compete with you.

First Base: Daric Barton, Oakland A's- First base was tough as there are very few first basemen who aren't already established hitters in MLB. Barton was supposed to be the centerpiece of the Mark Mulder trade to St Louis, it seems like forever ago as he has never been able to stick at the MLB level. He's going to get another chance this year as Chris Carter is probably not quite ready. Barton is having a strong spring and should win the starting job. He won't hit for the kind of power you want from a first baseman, but he'll hit for a high average with a great OBP and doubles power.

Also consider Chris Davis, Texas Rangers.

Second Base: Howie Kendrick, LA Angels- Kendrick's MLB career has been a disappointment so far. He had one false start with a demotion to the minors and several nagging injuries, but he ended up hitting .291/.334/.444 with 10 HR's and 11 SB's in 374 AB's. A full healthy season with an upward career trajectory could easily lead to a batting championship, with HR's and SB's in the high teens.

Third Base: Ian Stewart, Colorado Rockies- IStew was the darling of prospect watchers for years. He has shown prodigious power at the MLB level already, but is challenged t make contact and has been blocked at his normal position by Garrett Atkins so has been moved around a lot. With Atkins gone, he'll have a clear shot at the starting 3B gig in Colorado. With just a bit higher BA, he could easily put up 30-40 HR's.

Also consider Gordon Beckham, White Sox.

Shortstop: Stephen Drew, Arizona D'Backs- Drew was my pick for breakout shortstop last year, which should tell you something right there, but I'm not sure what. Drew has the talent and seemed poised for a breakout last year after a nice second half in 2008. Alas, he was plagued by nagging injuries and regressed. These kinds of players can keep on regressing and Drew appears to be possibly following the same path of a career full of nagging injuries, but they can also bust out bigger than anyone once they finally have a healthy season. Drew may be in a "perfect storm" situation where his normal development curve converges with a healthy season and enables him to play up to his prodigious potential.

Also consider Yunel Escobar, Atlanta Braves.

Outfield: BJ Upton, Tampa Bay Rays- Pretty much every thing I said about Stephen Drew could also be said about Bossman Jr. He stole 42 bases last year and we know he has the power potential. He is now a full year removed from shoulder surgery. Here's a player who might slip fairly far on draft day because he's disappointed so many times, but that could make him the bargain of the year.

Outfield: Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds- One rule of thumb in looking for breakout candidates is to look for players who were highly rated as prospects, but got off to slow starts in MLB. Some players just need to adjust, others may simply fall victim to small sample sizes early in their career. Bruce showed the power last year, was hampered by an injury and struggled to make consistent contact. Again, all it takes is health and a slightly better BA and he's putting up 30-40 HR seasons.

Outfield: Colby Rasmus, St. Louis Cardinals- At one point was a consensus top 5 prospect. Struggled a bit while the Cards promoted him aggressively. Put up good enough numbers last year that he's a good bet to show his full potential this year.

Starting Pitcher: Brett Anderson, Oakland A's- As good as he was last year, his peripheral stats suggest he might have been a bit unlucky. Combine that with his natural career trajectory, and you could easily have a Zack Grienke-like season. This is widely predicted enough that he may not be a bargain on draft day though.

Starting Pitcher: Jonathan Sanchez, San Francisco Giants- Another breakout that is being fairly widely predicted. Sanchez has the raw stuff to hang with anybody. Fastball in the mid-high 90's and emerging secondary stuff. He was terrific for the Giants last year after the no-hitter and has always had great K-rates. Just his natural career trajectory could easily take him to the next level this year.

Starting Pitcher: Phil Hughes, New York Yankees- Once one of the most highly rated pitching prospects in baseball, Hughes has struggled after an impressive start to his MLB career. He pitched very well out of the bullpen last year and could break big if he wins the #5 starting pitcher slot for the Yanks, as if the Yankees need another dominant starting pitcher!

Starting Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers- Another highly rated prospect who lost 2008 to an injury and was disappointing in 2009. Look for him to put it all together this year. Bonus is he's a great hitter for a pitcher too!

Starting Pitcher: Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds- Another highly rated pitching prospect who has been a huge disappointment in multiple MLB opportunities. Finally started to put it together last last season going 3-1, 2.41, 37.1 IP, 16 BB, 35 K's. in September and October. Probably the riskiest pick of the 5 pitching breakout candidates, but if he has finally figured it all out, he could become a dominant starter as soon as this season.

Relief Pitcher: Carlos Marmol, Chicago Cubs- Many observers believed Marmol should have been the closer from the beginning of last season for the Cubs. He actually struggled a bit in the setup role after a dominating 2008, but Kevin Gregg struggled even more as the closer and Lou Piniella made the change late in the season. Look for Marmol to become one of the elite closers this year with the position settled.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

College Corner: Friday Night Starters

For the first time this season, the sophomores did not dominate the pitching lines on Friday night, well, except for Danny Hultzen who is draft eligible. Probably the most impressive line was turned in by Ole Miss Jr LHP Drew Pomeranz who completely dominated a hard hitting Kentucky squad. On with the lines:

Danny Hultzen, So, LHP, Virginia: 8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 12 K's.

Drew Pomeranz, Jr, LHP, Ole Miss: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K's.

Matt Harvey, Jr, RHP, UNC: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 11 K's. Ideally you'd like to see fewer walks, but he's missing bats and should be moving up the draft boards.

Barrett Loux, Jr, RHP, Texas A&M: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 10 K's. Season line: 3-1, 1.78, 28 IP, 8 BB, 47 K's.

Chris Sale, Jr, LHP, Florida Gulf Coast: 8 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 14 K's!

Chris Hernandez, Jr, LHP, Miami: 9 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K's. Best game of Hernandez' career. Season line: 1-2, 1.97, 32 IP, 8 BB, 33 K's. He obviously hasn't gotten much run support.

Kyle Hald, Jr, LHP, Old Dominion: 9 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 10 K's. Season line: 4-1, 2.61, 38 IP, 6 BB, 42 K's.

Seth Blair, Jr, RHP, ASU: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K's. Against a decent Houston squad. Season line: 3-0, 2.89, 28 IP, 9 BB, 32 K's.

Corey Baker, Jr, RHP, Pitt: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 10 K's. Season line: 5-0, 3.19, 36.2 IP, 6 BB, 35 K's.

Don't forget about the seniors. They won't be drafted in the first 5 rounds, but could be nice later round pickups.

Daniel Bibona, LHP, UCI: 8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 10 K's. Season line: 3-1, 1.78, 35.1 IP, 8 BB, 43 K's.

Brian Streilein, RHP, Villanova: 8 IP, 10 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 K's. Season line: 2-0, 2.30, 27.1 IP, 8 BB, 33 K's.

Zack Osborne, RHP, Louisiana-Lafayette: 9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 13 K's. Season line: 2-1, 1.80, 35 IP, 6 BB, 40 K's. 6'5", 215 lbs. Like the size and the numbers.

DD Hanks, RHP, South Alabama: 8.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K's. Season line: 4-1, 1.40, 38.2 IP, 8 BB, 41 K's. Lost a pitching duel to Osborne.

Freshman LHP Matt Purke deserves mention as he has apparently moved into the Friday starter role for TCU. He was my early favorite for the Giants to draft last summer: 7 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K's. Season line: 3-0, 3.14, 28.2 IP, 5 BB, 33 K's.

Lastly, Senior Mario Hollands, UCSB followed up last week's 16 K performance another dominating game today against a hard hitting New Mexico State team: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 13 K's. He's got great size at 6'5", 205 lbs. Season line: 2-0, 1.89, 28 IP, 11 BB, 36 K's.

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap- 03-20-2010

The Giants got hitting early and late and got their customary stifling pitching all game to dominate the Cincinnati Reds 6-0. Some key lines:

Andres Torres- 1 for 2, BB, PO/CS. The pickoff notwithstanding. Torres would seem to be locking up a reserve OF position.

Edgar Renteria- 1 for 3, HR(1). BA= .265. Rent is rounding into form here.

Aubrey Huff- 1 for 2, HR(3), BB. Huff won't hit .400, but if he can even split the difference between his 2008 and 2009, he'll be a solid addition to the offense. He started a nifty DP in the field today too!

John Bowker- 2 for 4. BA= .275. Maybe we shouldn't write of John-Boy quite yet?

Nate Schierholtz- 0 for 4. BA= .242. Maybe Nate needs a day off? Is he opening the door for Velez or Bowker to take the starting RF job?

Todd Wellemeyer- 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K's. ERA= 1.20. Wellemeyer looks like he has the #5 starting pitcher job just about wrapped up. Pucetas will be the insurance down in Fresno.

Alex Hinshaw- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K's. Hinshaw hasn't allowed a run in 3.2 IP over 5 appearances. Does he have an option? I think he does.

Sergio Romo- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K's. ERA= 0.00!

Santiago Casilla- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. Man, I'm really digging what our bullpen is going to be this year, and I'm not even sure Casilla will get a spot!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap- 03-19-2010

The plot thickened in several battles for roster spots as the Giants edged the Indians 7-6 in Cactus League action today. Key lines:

Eugenio Velez- 3 for 3, 3B, BB, 2 SB(3), CS. Hmm.....Pharoah must have done some thinking after Bochy publicly got on his case after that 3 pitch game earlier in the week. Velez would appear to be back in the thick of things for an OF roster spot. Who is going to be the odd man out?

Edgar Renteria- 2 for 4, CS. Rent's bat is slowly coming to life as he's raised his BA from sub-Mendoza to .258.

Pablo Sandoval- 1 for 1. Not to panic. Sandoval left the game after being spiked and got 5 stitches in his leg. He might miss a game or two.

Aubrey Huff- 2 for 3, 2B, BB. BA= .393. Huff has never been a great fielder, but his career UZR/150 is about -4 which is probably good enough to make his bat worth it, if he continues to hit like this.

Buster Posey- 1 for 2, 2B. BA= .382. Game winning hit. It's going to be real tough to send him down.

Jonathan Sanchez- 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 K's. All 3 runs allowed in 1 inning.

Waldis Joaquin- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. ERA= 4.50.

Denny Bautista- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's. ERA= 3.00. I looked up Bautista's career stats....not a pretty sight!

Guillermo Mota- 0.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 0 K's. ERA balloons to 5.06 after a string of lights out appearances. One bad outing won't keep him off the roster, but.......

Dan Runzler- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K's, BS. Allowed 1 of Mota's runner's to score, stranded another.

Brian Wilson- 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's. ERA= 2.25. Mid-season form!

Freddy Sanchez is not expected to play in games that count until around the first of May.

The Giants were listed as one of the teams still interested in Wagner Mateo. The A's and D'Backs have also given him tryouts.

Around the League:

Billy Buckner and Chad Qualls of the D'Backs both got torched in a 24-9 loss to KC. I'm guessing the wind was blowing out in that game.

Cliff Lee has a pulled abdominal muscle. Flew to Seattle for plasma injections. It's not his arm, but abdominal strains can be extremely slow to heal.

Our old friend Brian Bocock was optioned to AAA by the Phillies who claimed him off waivers from Toronto this winter. Bocock was 6 for 15 in spring training games for the Phils.

Johan Santana got pounded by the Twins today and his spring ERA is 9. Yeah, it's spring, but it's starting to look like the Twins were smart to trade him, even if they didn't get all that in return.

Speaking of the Twins, they are reportedly interesting in acquiring Heath Bell from San Diego to replace Joe Nathan. The Twins obviously think they have a chance to go all the way this year.

Former Dodger farmhand Delwyn Young is having one of those Randy Elliott springs as he hit his 5'th HR today for Pittsburgh. Unlike Elliott, Young actually has a chance to win a starting job with the Bucs.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring Training Update: Off Day

Not much to say on an off day. I'll just mention an impressive performance by an A's prospect, and a truly homegrown one at that. Tyson Ross put up this line today against Arizona: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K's. His line so far this spring is 1-0, 2.70, 6.2 IP, 2 BB, 10 K's. Ross is a big pitcher, 6'6", 225 lbs, drafted out of Cal in 2008. Last season he split time between high A Stockton in the Cal League and AA Midland in Texas League, both fairly challenging environments for pitchers:

High A- 5-6, 4.17, 86.1 IP, 33 BB, 82 K's, GO/AO= 1.70.

AA- 5-4, 3.96, 50 IP, 20 BB, 31 K's, GO/AO= 2.87.

It's not hard to see that if Ross makes it to the majors, his ticket will be a hard sinking fastball. He certainly has the requisite height and size to pound the strike zone with it. If he can develop a secondary pitch or two to make batters swing and miss, he could turn into that rare combination of strikeouts/ground balls that is the nirvana of pitching. A nice looking prospect who I hadn't really noticed before.

P.S. BA ranks Tyson Ross as the A's #6 prospect. Their scouting report has him with a hard sinking fastball that sits at 93-94 MPH topping out at 97. He also has a 90 MPH cutter and a low 80's slider. His changeup is not as advanced. The change is probably what he needs to develop to become #3 or #2 starter in MLB.

Fantasy Impact: DH

Already confined to one league, DH is a role in transition and the ranks of pure DH's is getting smaller. More teams are rotating 4 OF's, and other starting combinations to fill the role. A lot of the old guard DH's have retired or are seeing their careers in decline. The big news this year is Vlad Guerrero losing his OF eligibility. He should be a good risk with high payoff as DH in Texas where he's play his home games in a ballpark where he has put up absurd numbers in his career. Hideki Matsui, David Ortiz, and Travis Hafner might be draftable in mixed leagues, but that's about it. I know I wouldn't take Jim Thome, Pat Burrell, Mike Jacobs, Andruw Jones, Mike Sweeney or Junior Griffey in my draft.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fantasy Impact: Closers

Just signed up for my fantasy league. My team, the Savvy Vets will be defending their league championship. I'll keep you posted on their progress as the season goes along. We get to keep 3 position players and 3 pitchers in our league. I'm pretty happy with mine: Prince Fielder, Justin Upton, Brian McCann, CC Sabathia, Matt Cain and Tommy Hanson.

Closers might be the most interesting position in fantasy baseball. At any given time, there are 30 closers in MLB, 1 for each team. Most fantasy teams have 2-3 RP positions, and another 2-3 P positions that can be either starters or relievers. Saves is the only category unique to relievers, and for all practical purposes only closers get Saves. Put that all together, and in a 10 team league, there are potentially 50 spots where you would like to have a closer and only 30 closers to choose from making Closers the position of greatest relative scarcity. It only gets worse in larger leagues.

What makes the position even more scarce is that there are only about 20 closers who enter the season secure in their role. This is where you want to start looking at potential "closers in waiting." A perfect example would be the LA Angels where Brian Fuentes saved 48 games last year, but they acquired Fernando Rodney, who saved 31 games for Detroit last year, in the offseason, setting up a potential co-closer situation or a mid-season take-over if Fuentes struggles. One way to deal with a situation like that is to draft both Fuentes and Rodney.

Injuries are always a headache too. Joe Nathan has been the most reliable closer over the last 6 seasons and is ranked #1 at the position by many fantasy mags and websites, except now he's come up with a torn UCL and suddenly the Twins closer situation is a free-for-all with Jon Rauch seeming the most likely candidate, but there is also talk of a trade with Toronto for Jason Frasor, which would also throw Toronto's closer situation up in the air! Now comes word that Huston Street will likely start the season on the DL. Do you draft Street anyway hoping he will come back soon, or do you grab the substitute for a few early season Saves and hope that Street's shoulder doesn't come around?

While you don't want to draft closers too high, you also don't want to follow the advice of waiting until the end of the draft to take them. They'll all be gone by then. Now, you can pick up closers during the season. There is always significant turnover, but every other team is trying to anticipate changes in the position too. You will end up using all your moves just chasing closers if you wait too long in the draft.

If you are at the end of a snake draft, you might want to be take the first closer in round 5 or 6, and go back-to-back to get a jump on competition. You can add a less secure closer and/or closer-in-waiting late in the draft. If you are in the middle of the draft, you can probably safely wait until the first closer goes and then jump in the next time you pick. Just remember, the difference between the top closer and the bottom one is miniscule. They are all going to get their Saves. Last year, Brad Lidge was the worst closer in baseball, by far. Yet, he got 31 Saves and I would not have won my fantasy league without him. You don't have to have the top rated closer, but you do want to have as many closers as you can get and use.

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap- 03-17-2010

The Giants continued their sleep-walk through the first 4 innings today before tying and then passing crosstown rival Oakland A's 6-1. Some key lines:

Darren Ford- 2 for 2, 2 SB. Ford is playing like a man possessed. He won't make the 25 man roster, but he's on the 40 man roster, so it's not a bad idea to plant a seed of remembrance into the manager's head just in case there is a need for a callup during the season, or it may get him an extra AB or two in September after the callups.

Juan Uribe- 2 for 3, HR(2). Uribe's bat had been awfully quiet.

Nate Schierholtz- 1 for 2, 2B. RF was his to lose, and he hasn't done anything to lose it yet: .308/.357/.615!

Barry Zito- 3.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 3 BB. Just getting his work in.

Todd Wellemeyer- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K's. Interesting that Wellemeyer would go in a 1 inning role with Pucetas scheduled for an upcoming start.

Henry Sosa- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K's. ERA= 0.00. Sosa isn't going away.

Santiago Casilla- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K. I think he has the inside track for the last bullpen slot, unless the Giants decide they have to keep both Wellemeyer and Pucetas.

Travis Ishikawa is expected to start appearing in some games soon. If Travis is ready for opening day, it will complicate Posey's situation considerably.

Another cutdown day. Again, no big surprises here: Craig Clark, Rafael Cova, Steve Edlefsen, Eric Hacker, Osiris Matos, Clayton Tanner, Dan Turpen, Craig Whitaker, Conor Gillaspie and Roger Kieschnick.

Around the league:

In a surprise move, the Nationals released OF Elijah Dukes.

Huston Street has a bum shoulder and will likely start the season on the DL. That throws two previously secure closer situations into states of uncertainty before the season even starts. The fantasy owner's nightmare!

Cliff Lee will start the season with a 5 game suspension for throwing a pitch over the head of another player in spring training.

Aroldis Chapman got the start today for Cincinnati and went 3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K's. Chapman has to have the inside track on the Reds' #5 starter spot. If he wins it, he should be drafted or added in fantasy leagues.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap- 03-16-2010

We've entered the dog days of spring training. It's too early to tune up for the season, and it's too late to feel the rush of being back on the field. The Grass isn't quite as green. It doesn't smell quite as freshly mowed. The sky is not quite as blue. THE GAMES DON'T COUNT! Aside from a handful of players fighting for a bench spot on the team, nobody really cares any more. Today, the Giants sleep-walked through a game they lost to Cleveland 7-1. Some key lines(actually, there were no key lines, but I have to write something here):

Eugenio Velez- 0 for 3. Pharoah saw exactly 3 pitches in 3 AB's. That's right, 3 pitches!! I suppose it should come as good news that Bochy was none too pleased and had something to say afterwards, "that's not going to get it done", or something like that. Velez just might have won Fred Lewis a roster spot today. We'll see.

Tim Lincecum- 4 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 4 K's. I guess 4 was Timmy's lucky number today. I wonder if he bought any lottery tickets and punched all 4's? With 2 Cy's under his belt, Timmy has earned the right to "round into shape."

Kevin Pucetas- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K's, GO/AO= 1/5. I believe Kevin now has 5 perfect innings in a row, although 0 K's and a GO/AO= 1/5 suggests that some of it is due to small sample size. Schulman is suggesting that Pucetas might be winning a job as a co-5'th starter/long relief man with Wellemeyer.

Cutdown Day: Brett Pill, Ehire Adrianza, Wendell Fairley, Johnny Monell, Thomas Neal, Nick Noonan, Hector Sanchez and Jackson Williams get the ax. No real surprises here. These guys were in camp to soak up the atmosphere and to get a chance to make an impression for future reference. I think Fairley and Noonan, in particular, had a couple of moments they can take back with them to the minors as courage/motivation for the future.

Steve Johnson, we hardly knew ye! A lot of Giants fans were rooting for Steve Johnson to make the 25 man roster. 2 tough outings out of 3 pretty much guaranteed he wouldn't, so the Giants did the right thing and put him off waivers where he was reclaimed by Baltimore who paid have of his $50 K Rule 5 draft fee back. This is just one more piece of evidence that the Rule 5 draft is just about the silliest exercise in sports. Maybe that can be a future post in itself?

Around the League:

Ryan Westmoreland, the BoSox #1 prospect who was found to have a cavernous vascular malformation in his brain, underwent successful surgery to fix it today. Gotta wish the kid the best, and a complete recovery.

Joe Nathan is going to test his elbow with the torn UCL. It's hard to imagine him pitching effectively with that bad boy. Do any readers know of any instances of pitchers successfully avoiding surgery with that injury? I know I don't!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap- 03-15-2010

Split squad again with two night games.

Giants win the 6 PM start against Texas 8-5. Key lines:

Andres Torres- 1 for 4, 2 BB.

Fred Lewis- 1 for 3, HR(3), 2 BB. FLew may be in the process of winning a roster spot, or at least increasing his trade value up from zero.

Buster Posey- 2 for 4, BB. Yet another multihit game for Buster.

Brandon Crawford- 1 for 4, 2B, BB.

Nick Noonan- 2 for 5, 3B. BA= .286.

Darren Ford- 2 for 4, 3B, SF, SB(2). BA= .500. The star of the game!

Madison Bumgarner- 3 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 0 K's, HBP(Josh Hamilton on the hand, had to leave the game). Reportedly got the FB above 90 tonight, but the results weren't there. I would say MadBum is falling behind in the race for #5 starter.

Brian Wilson- 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K. I love Wilson's ability to go more than 1 IP,

Clayton Tanner- 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K's.

Santiago Casilla- 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 0 K's. Casilla may be in a fight with Henry Sosa for the last bullpen spot.

Sergio Romo- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K's. ERA= 0.00.

San Diego trounced the other Giants squad 7-1 scoring all their runs in the 5'th inning against Osiris Matos and Dan Runzler. Nothing much to see on offense except Nate hitting a triple Other key lines:

Guillermo Mota- 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K's. Mota has all but locked up a bullpen slot.

Around the League:

Ramon Ortiz, fighting for the #5 starter job for the Choking Dogs put up this line today: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K's. Ortiz, has now appeared in 3 games this spring and put up this stat line: 1-0, 0.00, 9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 11 K's. Lest you think this is a fluke, Ortiz spent all of last season pitching for the Giants AAA affiliate Fresno and put up this stat line: 5-6, 3.05, 129.2 IP, 34 BB, 114 K's, GO/AO= 1.33. That line doesn't tell the whole story as Ortiz kept getting stronger as the season went along. By August, he was the best pitcher on the team and was nearly untouchable. It would be ironic and rankling if the Giants helped Ortiz figure out what was wrong and then had him make good on it with the Choking Dogs. Arrgh!!!!. I know the Giants roster, especially pitching slots, is crowded, but I thought he should have been in the running for #5 starter with the Giants this year. It seems like they could have found a 40 man roster spot for him somewhere. We'll see how it all turns out, but right now, it looks like the Dodgers have found themselves a nice #5 starter at the Giants expense.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring Training Update: Game Wrap- 03-14-2010

The Giants broke out the longball today, but were outslugged by the BrewCrew 10-8. Here's some key lines:

Aaron Rowand- 2 for 3, 2B, HR, HBP. The Gamer is hitting .500 on the spring. He'll sit for a game or two with a quad strain.

Edgar Renteria- 2 for 4. Rent is slowly coming to life. BA up to .238.

Aubrey Huff- 1 for 3, HR(2).

Fred Lewis- 1 for 3, HR(2). Bochy is reportedly pleased with Fred's increased aggressiveness at the plate. With Velez having an option left, could Fred be winning himself a roster spot?

Nate Schierholtz- 1 for 2, HR(1). Good to see Nate hit the longball.

Buster Posey- 2 for 2. Buster also gunned down two baserunners, one at second base and another on a pickoff throw to first. He also got picked off himself at first base. Buster has been cranking out the multihit games. He's making a decision to send him down for more seasoning awfully uncomfortable. It's not like he's been playing terrible defense behind the plate either.

Jonathan Sanchez- 2 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 5 BB, 0 K's. Hopefully this gets out of his system in the spring.

Henry Sosa- 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 K's. Sosa still has a zero ERA in 4 appearances. I don't see how he makes the team, but the Giants are getting a good look at him.

Affeldt, Hinshaw and Joaquin- one scoreless IP each.

Around the league:

Brian Giles is hanging up the spikes. I can't say I'm sorry to see him go, but he was a vastly underrated player on the field. He retires with the #50 OPS of all time, which either tells you something about Giles, or about the stat. Babe Ruth is #1, but Willie Mays is only #25 and Hank Aaron is at #32. I think OPS rewards walks a bit too much, but I can't prove it.

Nomar Garciaparra signed a 1 day contract with the Boston Red Sox so he could retire as a member of the organization he started with. His final stat line is .313/.360/.521. He started out like a surefire HOF'er, but injuries derailed his career early. In the end, I'm not sure he really wanted to play. He is only 36 years old, but seems a lot older. You will see him on ESPN's Baseball Tonight show as an analyst.

Down on the Farm: Evaluating Pitching Prospects

I thought some of you might like to know a bit about how I go about evaluating and ranking prospects. First of all, I am not a scout. I'm just a fan who likes to have an idea about what might happen in the future of baseball in general and the Giants in particular. As a fan, I might go about things differently than a professional scout would. I take my lists seriously, but they are mostly just for fun, and a chance to get a better idea of who we may see playing for the Giants in the future. I think there is more anticipation and a sense of drama when a player you have been following for years makes their MLB debut than when it's someone you've never heard of before, but that's just me. Here are some basic principles of prospect watching that I have picked up over the years:

1. Age vs Level of Play: You may have noticed that I always post the birthdates and minor league level when I do a prospect write up, and wondered why I go to the trouble. It is important, even vital, to know how old a prospect is in relationship to the players he is playing against. The basic rule is the younger the better. There's a vast difference between an 18 year old pitcher in low A and a 24 year old. A player's peak years are generally from around age 27-32. Even if everything goes perfectly for the 24 year old in low A, he's going to be a rookie in the majors at age 27 and still learning the ropes at a time when he should be in his peak years of production. That's to say nothing of the fact that there is probably a reason he is still toiling in low A ball at age 24! A corollary is whether the player was drafted out of college or high school. A 22 year old just drafted the previous summer out of college is likely to move up faster than a 22 year old High school draftee who has been in the organization for 4 years and still only made it to low A.

2. Size Matters!: You may have also wondered why I bother to post listed heights and weights on prospects I write up. Well, size matters, Tim Lincecum notwithstanding! The average height and weight for the top 50 ERA's among MLB pitchers with at least 162 IP last year was 6'4", 225 lbs. That's the AVERAGE! Again, there are always exceptions to the rule, and you never want to be too dogmatic about any one parameter, but most successful MLB pitchers are BIG! Notice that they are not only tall, but have big, strong frames. I would almost rather have a relatively short stocky pitcher than a tall skinny one. The exception is in very young pitchers with sturdy frames who just haven't filled them out yet. The reasons for the size advantage are not totally clear, but intuitively, you like the height for a feeling of dominance, the release point is closer to home plate giving a higher effective velocity for the same air speed of the ball, and you have a downward plane on the pitch, which is harder for the batter to drive in the air. The stocky build tends to give better stamina over the course of a grueling MLB season and career.

3. Velocity Rules: You can always point to successful MLB pitchers who don't bring 90 MPH heat, but the margin for error on these guys is miniscule and you don't often see them dominate for an extended time frame. This is where you have to look up scouting reports and maybe even go to a minor league game or two in order to have the information you need. My benchmark velocity level is 90 MPH. Anything less than that and you have a marginal prospect. My benchmark for elite prospects is 94 MPH or above. Lefthanders get a MPH or two break because it's harder to find LHP's with great velocity, but even they should be right around 90 MPH. Just think back over the last decade of Giants pitching prospects. They guys who have made it, Cain, Lincecum, Sanchez, Wilson have all had the great velocity as part of their game. Even Sergio Romo can get it up to 92 or 93 when he has to. They guys who have washed out, Hennessey, Williams, Foppert, and others have been guys who showed up thowing fastballs in the 80's. Noah Lowry, was the exception, but even he struggled when other teams started sitting on the changeup. All this is why Madison Bumgarner's mysterious loss of velocity is so alarming and disappointing. Hot tip: If you go to a minor league game, try to sneak up behind the pitch charters who are sitting behind home plate and pointing their radar guns with each pitch. You can easily see the readings in the red digital readout at the back of the "gun", and they are generally much more accurate than the stadium radar gun readings.

4. K's are King: The best performance measure of dominance for a pitching prospect is the ability to strike batters out, or miss bats to put it in a different way. Simply put, if a minor league batter can make any kind of contact with a pitch at all, an MLB batter is much more likely to hit that same pitch HARD! A pitcher who misses bats in the minors stands a better chance of avoiding solid contact even if he K rates are not as high once he reaches the majors. My benchmark for measuring Strikeouts is a K/9(strikeout per 9 innings) of 9 or more. This is more true in the lower minors than in AAA where I might drop the threshold to K/9=7 if other parameters are positive. This why the dramatic drop in K rates for Tim Alderson and Madison Bumgarner in AA last year were so worrisome, and why it compounds the worries about Bumgarner's velocity drop.

5. Walks are Wrong: I don't worry too much about walks in the lower minors, especially if the pitcher is still a teenager, but as they move up the ladder, it becomes essential to cut down on the walk rate. To survive in the majors, a pitcher absolutely can't afford to be putting runners on base, and/or pitching from behind in the count. In the lower minors, you want to see a BB/9(walks per 9 innings) of less than 4 and in the high minors less than 3. A higher walk rate is allowed with a higher K rate, but you still like to see the K/BB rate > 2 and ideally >3.

6. Keep the Ball on the Ground! Great strikeout pitchers often get a lot of their non-strikeout outs on fly balls. Fly balls are dangerous because the first prerequisite for hitting a home run is you have to get the ball in the air! A ground ball may go through the infield for a base hit, but it's not going to go out of the park! On the other hand, a fly ball that doesn't go out of the park, and isn't a line drive is a more sure out than a ground ball that might bleed through the infield. There are basically two types of pitchers in baseball: 1. High velocity, high strikeout, flyball pitchers. 2. Lower velocity, low strikeout, groundball pitchers. The Holy Grail of pitching is to get a high velocity, high strikeout, ground ball pitcher, but these are few and far between. One reason why prospect watchers were so high on "King Felix" Hernandez before he hit the majors was that he was a rare example of this pitching perfection. Roger Clemens was probably the ultimate example, although he was not an extreme GB pitcher. My threshold for ground ball "dominance" in a minor league pitcher is a GO/AO(Ground out/Air Out) > 2.
MLB pitchers can thrive with a lower ratio, but MLB hitters are better able to "elevate" the ball off the bat, so a prospects GO/AO is likely to fall as he climbs the organizational ladder. A minor league pitcher who has a low K rate(< 1) and a reversed GO/AO(<1) can be written off as a prospect with a high degree of certainty.

7. Don't forget ERA: ERA might be the most maligned pitching statistic in all of baseball. Yes, it's been overrated in the past, but it is treated with such disdain in sabermetric(the study of baseball statistics) circles as to be downright underrated now! ERA, for all it's faults, is still one of the best indicators, if not THE best of pitching success in a large sample size. If a pitching prospect consistently puts up great ERA's in the face of other negative indicators, there may be something going on that you just can't see in the stats and scouting reports. Warning! These instances are RARE! Matt Cain is an example of the rare pitcher whose results are consistently better than his "peripheral" stats would indicate they should be, but that's a whole other post! What is more common is that you may have a pitcher with consistently great "peripheral" stats, and great scouting reports who also consistently puts up ugly ERA's. In this case, a bad ERA should be a red flag that something is keeping this pitcher from realizing his full potential. Maybe it's lapses in concentration at key moments of the game. Maybe it's just inconsistency in location or ball movement. A consistently high ERA should never be ignored just because a pitcher's peripheral stats are good.

8. Know Your Leagues and Ballparks: The Giants have farm teams in multiple leagues. The Eastern League(AA), South-Atlantic League(Low A) and Dominican Summer League(Developmental) are relatively pitcher friendly. The Pacific Coast League(AAA), California League(High A), Northwest League(Short Season) and Arizona League(Rookie), are all much more hitter friendly. These effects have been magnified in EL and SAL by the Giants playing in ballparks that are extremely pitcher friendly. The hitter friendliness of the PCL and Cal Leagues are somewhat mitigated by a neutral park in Fresno and a pitcher friendly park in San Jose. It is important to remember these factors when perusing stat lines. A great pitching performance in AA for the Giants just doesn't mean as much as a great performance in AAA. One rule of thumb is that performances for pitchers in the AAA PCL translate very well to the majors, while hitting stats do not. I think this is a big reason why the Giants have had much greater success in developing pitching prospects than hitting prospects.

That's about it. No analysis of pitching prospects is perfect, even from professional scouts and sabermetricians. A fairly simple understanding of the above relatively few principles will give you a leg up on even the so-called experts in prospect evaluation, and will definitely give you a huge advantage in your fantasy league!