Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Outfield

Not so long ago, if you asked a Giants fan who belonged in the outfield in 2012, you would get all sorts of answers. I figured that if one could accept the premise that Carlos Beltran would not be returning, the starting lineup would be Melky Cabrera in center, Nate Schierholtz in right, and Brandon Belt in left. I'd ponder a world where Huff--started at first by a stubborn Bruce Bochy and/or front office-- would come out in the 7th, Belt would move to first while Cabrera moved to left, and Andres Torres would patrol center field. I had even pondered Grant Brisbee's argument that we ought to consider another season with Cody Ross. Just because he really pisses off the Phillies.

Maybe I even pondered the situation too much. Then the winter meetings came, I joined Twitter, and Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez were traded to the Mets for Angel Pagan. And it seems that since the Cardinals sunk the Phillies' chance at the World Series in 2011, and since the Giants will be fielding a team without Ross or Ramirez, well, the Phillies might not even remember why they used to get so wound up about playing against San Francisco, why Charlie Manuel would split hairs to prove to himself that Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain weren't great pitchers. And, while I am on the topic, as much as I'd hate to see it, I might feel a fleeting moment of joy if the Cardinals signed Ross. By the way, did I mention that I'm going to miss Torres?

Now, the outfield is set. Bochy and Sabean have hinted otherwise, but at the moment I can't imagine that they would trade for Pagan, after trading for Cabrera, without the intention of fielding him in center on opening day and beyond. The only person whose starting cred is actually endangered is Schierholtz, who was one of the few Giants who deservedly played his way into the lineup in 2011. Before I even start digging up stats, it's clear that last year was his best so far, with the exception of that season-ending broken foot. Stats or not, though, his job is in trouble due to that logjam at first base.

At least management is talking sensibly about sticking Huff in the outfield, and not Belt. Before the trades, I figured that Belt would get the most playing time in left, which made that seem like a good idea. With Melky and Pagan, Belt will probably fare better if Bochy figures he's got to pencil him in at first, and Huff in right or left field. With these kind of roster acrobatics, Schierholtz will probably fare better if he's a swell or magnanimous guy, because it could be long season of jogging out to right in the seventh inning. Either that or the crime-scene tape:

The real winner, I'd have to say, about this arrangement isn't who you would think. With two future free agents starting in that great expanse of AT&T park in 2012, I'd have to think it is  the up and coming--as in, dare I say it, the September call-up--Gary Brown, prospect extraordinaire.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Trade Rumors

Via Andrew Baggarly on Twitter:
Stanford guy, switch hitter. Would be fit for SF if BOS needs relief. RT nickcafardo A few teams asking about Sox utilityman Jed Lowrie.
I don't go too far on the trade speculation thing, but I have a friend who has been a life-long Red Sox fan. Which means I've watched a lot of Red Sox games over past few years. So I am familiar with Lowrie as a player, and familiar with the fact that Boston needs a serious overhaul in the pitching department, and not just a Zito-Lackey trade. There were rumors within the last few months that the Bosox might be interested in Jonathan Sanchez, but  that clearly didn't happen.  Of other pitchers of interest, I doubt that they would be interested in Ramon Ramirez a second time through, but trading for Jeremy Affeldt seems a possibility.

What would the Giants get in Lowrie? He had a good run at the beginning of the season (a .389 OBP in April), which more than likely caught some scouts' eyes, but finished the season, after some trouble with injuries, with a .252/.303/.382 (AVG/OBP/SLG) line. That is not exactly eye-catching, but for the Giants' shortstop dilemma, we should be thinking platoon. In that case, how did Lowrie fare against left-handed pitching? In 2011, with 117 plate appearances, he put up a .330/.353/.523 line, which is fairly close to his career numbers: in 314 PA he put up a .326/.385/.534 line. Within the context of other potential candidates for utility infielder, Lowrie's strengths play to the Giants' weaknesses, without the steep price tag.