November 2009

Villalona update

In a far more serious Giants legal matter, prospect Angel Villalona has posted bail in the Dominican Republic, where he had been held on murder charges, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Villalona, 19, still faces a charge that he shot a man to death during a bar fight in La Romana, Dominican Republic in September. Villalona posted bail of 500,000 pesos (a little less than $14,000 U.S.). Villalona’s lawyer said the the no-bail hold on Villalona had been relaxed because prosecutors could not pin a motive in the shooting.

A source says Villalona’s family paid the victim’s family 5 million pesos ($138,306 U.S.). Villalona’s lawyer denied the report. However, the prosecutor did say the victim’s family did sign a waiver stating it will not file a civil suit against Villalona.

Villalona flew home to visit his mother. On Sept. 18, Villalona visited a popular disco when the victim, 25-year-old Mario Felix de Jesus Velete, got into an argument with a friend of Villalona. A bottle-throwing fight ensued. As Velete tried to flee through a back door, prosecutors say Villalona shot him in the back.

But Villalona’s friends and family say Villalona wasn’t even in the bar at the time the shooting took place. They say another man did the shooting, and has since fled town.

Three years ago, Villalona signed a $2.1 million signing bonus, at the time the largest given by the Giants to an amateur free agent. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound first baseman hit 9 home runs with 42 RBI and batted .267 in 74 games for Class A San Jose. He missed about a month of the season with a strained quad.

Freddy Sanchez deal analysis

The Giants started their offseason moves by signing 2B Freddy Sanchez to a two-year deal for a reported $12 million.

It’s a deal that his mutually beneficial for the Giants and Sanchez.

For the Giants, they were faced with the decision of picking up Sanchez’s $8.1 million option for 2010. After trading away prized pitching prospect Tim Alderson, the Giants were almost obligated to pick up that option. Otherwise, they would have traded Alderson for 25 games from Sanchez would have been viewed a huge bust for the Giants.

So given that, the Giants got Sanchez for about $4 million for 2011. That’s one way of thinking about it.

For Sanchez, he gets $6 million a season for the next two season. If he had ventured into free agency, it’s uncertain what he might have garnered, given he was coming off an injury-filled season.

Sanchez says he’s ahead of schedule rehabbing for the shoulder and leg issues that cut short his 2009 season. Sanchez averaged 150 games played from 2006-08, when he batted. 344, .304 and .271.

Assuming he comes back healthy, the Giants get a professional hitter and some continuity at second base they haven’t enjoyed in a couple of seasons.

Lincecum update

Tim Lincecum reached a deal with Clark County (WA) district attorney’s office that will allow the Giants pitcher to close his case regarding a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge with a $250 fine, pending a judge’s approval.

So hopefully this will close this chapter and the Giants pitcher can move forward.

Lincecum busted for pot possesion

San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum is facing charges for misdemeanor possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia use after being stopped for speeding in Vancouver, Wash., last week

Lincecum, who is a native of Bellevue, Wash., and a former star at the University of Washington, was driving northbound on Interstate 5 through Vancouver on Oct. 30 when he was pulled over for doing 74 mph in a 60-mph zone.
When he was pulled over, the officer smelled the marijuana and asked Lincecum to hand it over.
The pitcher produced a bag with 3.3 ounces of marijuana from his glove box. 
Lincecum was cited and released. He paid $122 for the speeding violation. He is expected to be arraigned on Nov. 23 in Clark County District Court in Vancouver on the misdemeanor drug charge.
For more, see the story on The Columbian’s Web site by clicking here.

Lowery’s option declined; other moves

The San Francisco Giants made some moves this week to set their 40-man roster for 2010.

The Giants reinstated pitchers Noah Lowry (elbow/forearm), Justin Miller (elbow) and Kelvin Pichardo from the 60-day disabled list and outrighted the players to Triple-A Fresno. The Giants also declined a $6.25 million option for 2010 on Lowry, as expected. Lowry hasn’t pitched since 2007 with elbow and forearm problems. Because Lowry and Miller have more the five-year MLB experience, they can decline their assignment and opt for free agency.

Lowry’s agent, Damon Lapa, told Chris Haft of that his client will opt for free agency. Lapa said that Lowry is throwing three times a week and “is back to his pre-injury form.” Of course, MLB teams will believe that when they see it. That likely won’t come until next spring. At best, Lowry can hope for signing a minor-league deal with a team and get a spring training invite to show teams that he’s ready to pitch again in the big leagues. He just turned 29 years old last week, and teams are always on the look out for left-handed pitching. But given that, we’d expect to see Lowry opening the 2010 season in the minors.

Whether the Giants would be in the mix for Lowry’s services is uncertain. Lapa may have alienated his client with the team by claiming earlier this year the Giants had misdiagnosed Lowry’s injury. On the other hand, Lowry had been paid an average of $2.5 million a year the past two seasons for basically doing nothing on the field.

Miller had a solid season in the bullpen for the Giants, going 3-3 with a 3.18 ERA in 56 innings of relief. His season ended in early September with elbow inflammation. He has orthroscopic surgery on the elbow in early October. He told the San Francisco Chronicle that he expects to be ready to pitch next spring and hopes to re-sign with the Giants.

Pichardo, 24, missed most of the 2009 season, first by serving a 50-game suspension for testing positve for performance-enhancing drug, then going to the disabled list with a shoulder strain. Pichardo is apparently going to play in the Dominican Winter League.