November 2010

The Top 10 List of Non-Giants Who Should Be on Every Giants Fan’s Christmas Card List: No. 9, Paul Emmel

emmel.jpegPaul Emmel was the second-base umpire for Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Braves.

Emmel was the umpire who called Buster Posey safe on a steal attempt at second base on a busted hit-and-run play in the fourth inning.

Posey eventually scored the game’s only run on a two-out single by Cody Ross.

The Giants went on to win the series 3 games to 1. All four games were one-run game, so the value of one play that led to one run cannot be understated.

Replays showed that Posey was out. Even Posey admitted as much in post-game interviews.

poseysteal.jpgNow, a lot has been made about blown calls by umpires, especially in the postseason. But for the most part in the 2010 postseason, blown calls were not a big deal. This call may have been the biggest.

But it’s really hard to fault Emmel on this play. The throw from Brian McCann was high and to the right field side of the bag. Second baseman Brooks Conrad had to reach across his body to catch the ball. Normally, with an actual base stealer, that’s an easy steal. But because Posey is not the most fleet of foot and was only running on a hit-and-run play that the play was close.

Also, because of the high throw, Conrad’s tag came on the outfield side of Posey’s body, and Emmel was positioned on the infield, blocking his line of sight.

And no one from the Braves argued the call. Bobby Cox didn’t come out and get run out by Emmel (Emmel got that pleasure in Game 2).

But the bottom line is that Emmel made his call. It was the wrong call. And it helped the Giants. So thanks, Paul Emmel.

Christmas Card List

  • No. 9, Paul Emmel

  • No. 10, Bengie Molina

Uribe going … going …. gone! Now what?

Now, that Juan Uribe has left for Dodgertown, it’s time to get our heads around what that means to the 2011 lineup. Here’s how it looks like as of right now.

RF Andres Torres

2B Freddy Sandez

1B Aubrey Huff

C Buster Posey

LF Cody Ross

3B Mark DeRosa or Pablo Sandoval

CF Aaron Rowand or DeRosa (in LF, Ross in RF, Torres in CF)

SS Whoever the heck the Giants get to fill this spot

Hmmmm, seems to missing something, you think? And we don’t just mean a shortstop.

More Splash Hits discussed the options out there besides Uribe. Just look at post “Christmas wish list: A shortstop.”

Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News believes the Giants should be aggressive and try to secure a trade before Thursday’s non-tender deadline, when other teams will be better motivated to move players like the Rays’ Jason Bartlett or the Twins’ J.J. Hardy.

More Splash Hits is very concerned with the notion of trading away prospects when so many Giants are eligible for free agency after the 2011 season. Of the players listed in the above projected lineup, four could be free agents after next season … and that doesn’t include the shortstop position. It also doesn’t include pitchers.

It would be better to be patient, and wait and see what develops after Thursday’s non-tender deadline. 

Booooooo–ribe!!!! Uribe signs with Dodgers

JuanU.jpegWell, it’s happened. After driving up the cost for the Giants to re-sign Aubrey Huff, the Los Angeles Dodgers went and signed shortstop Juan Uribe away from the San Francisco Giants.

Uribe agreed to a three-year deal for a reported $21 million with the Dodgers on Monday. He’ll likely play second base for the Dodgers in 2011.

When More Splash Hits began seeing reports that the Dodgers were willing to offer a third year, we knew the party was just about over for the Giants retaining Uribe.

The reported $21 million deal is quite a haul for a player who played two years with the Giants (earning $1 million and $3.25 million) and arrived in camp as a utility player. Uribe played himself into an everyday player in 2010.

If there’s any good news, it’s that the Giants offered Uribe arbitration, which will garner the Giants a sandwich pick in next June’s draft.

Losing Uribe hurts. Losing him to the Dodgers hurts more. Oh, and Opening Day 2011 for the Giants: April 1 at Los Angeles. No fooling.

The Top 10 List of Non-Giants Who Should Be on Every Giants Fan’s Christmas Card List: No. 10, Bengie Molina

These selections are intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but this one is a bit more sincere.

Bengie Molina spent 3.5 seasons with the San Francisco Giants. And for most of the years, the Giants asked Molina to do things that he had never done before — like bat cleanup.

This was never more evident than in 2007, Molina’s first with the Giants. Early in the season, Molina found himself batting cleanup for the Giants on one of Barry Bonds’ scheduled days off. A career American Leaguer prior to ’07, the story goes that Molina chatted with Bonds before that game as asked the home run king “What kind of league is this that I’M batting cleanup?”
bengie.jpeg
Bonds responded: “It ain’t the league, man. It ain’t the league.”

But Molina responded with solid offensive numbers with the Giants. He had 19 HRs, 81 BI and hit .276 in 2007, 16-95-.292 in 2008 and 20-80-.265 in 2009.

Not only that, Molina played a solid catcher for the Giants and helped with the development of the Giants young pitchers like Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez. Remember, Molina was the catcher when Lincecum won back-to-back Cy Young Awards.

His teammates knew Molina’s value to the team. That’s why they voted to give him a World Series share and ring.

“He helped me mature and succeed. I’ve said time and time again that he deserves half of those awards that I’ve gotten.” Lincecum said of Molina and his Cy Young Awards.

“The things he’s done for me – for calling a game, to give me confidence throwing different pitches in different counts – really, really, really benefited me,” Cain said.

Unable to secure a multi-year deal in the offseason after 2009, Molina returned to San Francisco for the 2010 season. He hit well enough in the first month of the season, batting .344 in April. But his power numbers waned, with just 1 HR and 8 RBI in April.

Then in May, the batting average went south. By June 1, he was hitting .250. That made the decision to call up Buster Posey from Fresno that much easier.

And by the end of June, Molina was traded to Texas, having hit 3 HRs, 17 RBI, and .257 with the Giants.

Coincidentally, or not, the Giants lost the last five games that Molina played for them. They lost 8 of the 10 he played for them.

About a week after the trade to Texas, the Giants went on a stretch in which they won 15 of 18 games. That stretch basically matched Buster Posey’s 21- game hitting streak.  Also during that stretch, Pat Burrell hit five home runs. Both those things don’t happen if Bengie Molina is still on the roster.

Oh, and in the World Series for the Rangers, Molina hit .182 with one RBI.

So thanks Bengie for everything you did for the Giants … and also for everything you didn’t do in 2010. 

Coming Soon: Top 10 List of Non-Giants Who Should Be on Every Giants Fans Christmas Card List

So to help pass those chilly winter days of the baseball offseason, More Splash Hits is going to have a little fun.

So beginning tomorrow, we will start with some lighthearted posts poking some fun at those non-Giants who helped (not intentionally, mind you) the Giants attain their first World Series championship in 56 years.

We’ll call it “The Top 10 List of Non-Giants Who Should Be on Every Giants Fans’ Christmas Card List.”

Stay tuned.

U—ribe! In Dodger Blue? Just say no!

The San Francisco Giants’ pursuit to bring Juan Uribe back into fold seems to have taken an interesting twist over the weekend.

Last week, the Giants re-signed Aubrey Huff for two years, $22 million. And the Giants said they matched a deal offered by another team to get that deal done.
uribe.jpeg
Word has come in over the weekend that the “other team” was the Los Angeles Dodgers, who could have plugged Huff at first base and non-tendered or traded James Loney. They also could have started Huff in LF.

And now comes word that the Dodgers are going hot and heavy after another Giants free agent — Juan Uribe.

The Dodgers would look to plug Uribe at 2B, where non-tender candidate Ryan Theriot is currently playing. So the question is whether or not the Dodgers turn up the heat to sign Uribe before Thursday’s non-tender deadline. Or maybe they’ve already made the decision to non-tender Theriot.

It might be time for the Giants to get Uribe signed to a two-year deal in the ballpark of $16 million. The Giants would deeply miss his bat in the lineup, and it would make it worse to lose him to the freakin’ Dodgers.

And the Giants need to start thinking not just about 2011, but about 2012. Here are a list of current Giants who will be eligible for free agency after the 2011 season: 2B Freddy Sanchez, IF-OF Mark DeRosa, OF Andres Torres, OF Cody Ross, RP Jeremy Affeldt, SP Jonathan Sanchez.

If the Giants don’t sign Uribe to a multi-year deal, they’ll likely replace him with a player on a one-year deal (either signing a free agent to a one-year deal, or trading for someone who will be eligible for free agency after 2011).

So C’mon Giants. Let’s get this done. The alternatives are not good.

Christmas wish list: A shortstop

Now, that the Giants have secured Aubrey Huff to a new two-year contract, the next hole to fill on the roster is a starting shortstop.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean said talks with the agent of Juan Uribe are “active,” but also added the two sides were not “talking the same language yet, as far as ballpark figures.”

Translation? The Uribe camp wants more years and/or dollars than the Giants are willing to offer. At least, for now.

So now Uribe is looking to see what other teams will offer.

To date, the Cardinals have appeared to be the more aggressive suitors for Uribe. The Astros and Dodgers are also rumored to have interest, and we’d expect the Padres to get involved.

The Dodgers’ interest is curious. They have SS Rafael Furcal under contract for $12 million for 2011. 3B Casey Blake is on the hook for more than $5 million. But they could have a place for Uribe at 2B if they opt to non-tender Ryan Theriot.

So if the Giants don’t re-sign Uribe, what are the other options at SS?

A TRADE: The Giants have been linked to players who might be available via trade — the Royals’ Yuniesky Betancourt, the Rays’ Jason Bartlett and the Red Sox’s Marco Scutaro. If the Giants are going to replace Uribe with a player with lesser offensive skills (and all three would fit that bill), then at least you would hope the Giants would get a player with better defensive skills. According to FanGraphs UZR ratings (ultimate zone ratings) for defense, all three players rate below Uribe for defense. In fact, Betancourt ranked 62nd and Bartlett was 64th in UZR for the 64 shortstops with more than 100 innings at the position in 2010. These aren’t players worth trading for. The Giants also have been linked with trade talk involving Arizona’s Stephen Drew and the Mets’ Jose Reyes. First, these teams aren’t trading these players. And if by some unforseen change of heart, if these teams did shop these players, the price for them would be out of the Giants’ price range for talent. In other words, forget about Drew or Reyes.

IN-FRANCHISE OPTIONS: The Giants have Emmanuel Burriss, Ryan Rohlinger and Brandon Crawford as shortstops in the organization. Burriss was the opening day 2B for the Giants in 2009. But first he struggled to hit, then had his season ended by a midseason foot injury. He re-injured the foot last spring and did not return to playing until late in the 2010 season. So he enters the 2011 season on, forgive the pun, on uneven footing. Rohlinger has been up for a cup of coffee in each of the past three seasons and never hit better than .200. He did .311 for Triple-A Fresno in 2010. Crawford is said to have a major-league glove, but his bat is lagging. He hit .236 between Class A and AA in 2010. None inspire confidence.

FREE AGENTS: The class of shorstops is lean this offseason. Among the free agents with a better UZR ranking than Uribe are Cesar Izturis (10th), Jerry Hairston Jr. (15th) and Orlando Cabrera (18th). Uribe ranks (23rd). The Giants are also said to have interest in Miguel Tejada, who opened the season playing 3B for Baltimore and finished it playing SS for San Diego. At 36 with dimishing defensive skills, Tejada should only be a late alternative. And while we’re at it, can we forget about Derek Jeter? There’s a lot of posturing going on between the Yanks and Jeter’s agent, but that’s all it is. The Yankees know no other team will offer Jeter what they will offer. And there’s no way Jeter signs with a another team for $3-$5 million less per season than what the Yanks are offering just to spite the Yankees.

NON-TENDERS: Teams have until Thursday (Dec. 2) to tender contracts for players under team control for 2011. There may be some players who could become available if they are non-tendered. Topping the list of possibility is the J.J. Hardy, whose UZR is 5th in the majors. However, word has it that the Twins will tender Hardy a contract, even though they made a bid on Japanese shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who the Twins are looking at to play 2B.

Huff Daddy re-signs with Giants

The first major move of the offseason was made Tuesday (Nov. 23) when the San Francisco Giants re-signed first baseman Aubrey Huff to a reported two-year deal for $22 million.

When the news broke this morning, More Splash Hits had two reactions.

The first was: Great! Huff Daddy was a vital part of the 2010 World Series championship team.
huffdaddy.jpeg
Huff finished seventh in the NL MVP voting. He led the Giants in most offensive categories for players with more than 400 at-bats, including home runs (26), RBI (87), hits (165), walks (83), OBP (.385) and slugging (.506).

The second reaction was: Dude! That’s a boatload of cash!

If early reports of the cash value are accurate, it’s clear that the Giants paid a steep price to get the deal now. It’s really hard to imagine that Huff would have received a similar deal on the free-agent market.

Consider that two years ago, Adam Dunn signed a two-year, $20 million deal with the Nationals when he was 28 and coming off a 40-homer, 100-RBI season. Huff is 33 and coming off a 26-HR, 87-RBI season.

But the Giants viewed Huff as a key component to their offseason plans, and they didn’t want to wait around to see what kind of offers Huff may have received elsewhere. If this deal is what it took to get Huff back on board now, the Giants were willing to make it.

Here’s another way to think about it: Last year, the Giants spent $12 million on Edgar Renteria and Aubrey Huff. So in 2011, they’re taking the money they no longer have to pay Renteria and gave it Huff.

However, the signing makes the re-signing of Uribe appear less likely.

After seeing Huff’s deal, Uribe is likely going to want something similar. Surely, Uribe’s agents will compare Uribe’s numbers to Huff’s on home runs (24 for Uribe, 26 for Huff) and RBI (85-86). And they’ll also point to Uribe’s versatility to play 2B, SS or 3B and that he is three years younger than Huff.

But other numbers clearly favor Huff, like average (.290 to .248), OBP (.385 to .310) and slugging (.506 to .440).

I’d be surprised if Uribe signs for less than two years, $16 million. That may be more than the Giants will be willing to pay. They may instead decide to wait and see if they can get a better bargain elsewhere.

The Giants will hold a press conference later Tuesday on the signing, so we’ll update more then.

Decisions loom regarding Huff, Uribe

 Tuesday (Nov. 23) is the deadline for teams to offer salary
arbitration to free agents in order to preserve their right to draft-pick
compensation.

Two of the Giants’ free agents – Aubrey Huff and Juan Uribe -
are Type B free agents. That means if the Giants offer either player salary
arbitration for 2011, and the player declines arbitration, the Giants would
receive a so-called sandwich pick between the first and second rounds in next
June’s first-year player draft if the player signs with another team.

With both Huff and Uribe seeking multi-year deals in free
agency and with the Giants interested in bringing both players back for at least
2011, it stands to reason the Giants will offer arbitration to both. It also
stands to reason both will decline.

But stranger things have happened. We figured Bengie Molina
and the Giants were in a similar situation last year, and the Giants didn’t
offer arbitration. The move ended up paying off, as the Giants re-signed Molina
for a discounted one-year deal.

The process is somewhat of a gamble, as teams are often
reluctant to offer arbitration because they don’t want to lose cost control
over player contracts. But with Huff and Uribe, the move seems worth the risk.

Giants make roster decisions

The Giants made a series of moves this week to protect
minor-league prospects from being selected in the Rule 5 draft next month.

Players who have spent 4-5 years (based on the age when they
were signed) in an organization’s minor-league system are eligible to be
drafted by another club if those players are not added to their team’s 40-man
roster.

This week, the Giants added five players to their 40-man
roster: RHP Jose Casilla, RHP Steve Edlefsen, LHP Clayton Tanner, OF Thomas
Neal and SS Ehire Adrianza. The Giants also placed RHP Waldis Joaquin on
waivers and outrighted 1B Brent Pill to Triple-A Fresno, putting the 40-man
roster at 37 players.

That still leaves the Giants room on their 40-man roster to
add players by signing free agents, like re-signing players like Aubrey Huff or
Juan Uribe. The Giants could also create more room on their 40-man roster by
non-tendering players currently on the 40-man roster who are eligible for
arbitration this offseason. RHP Chris Ray, RHP Ramiro Ramirez and IF Mike
Fontenot are prime candidates to be non-tendered. The Giants have until Dec. 2
to tender players 2011 contracts.

Edlefsen, 25, is the most MLB-ready of these players. The
reliever went 7-2 with 2.38 ERA in 49 appearances for Triple-A Fresno last
season.

Casilla, the 21-year-old brother of Giants reliever Santiago
Casilla, was 4-1 with 1.16 ERA with 14 saves in 46 appearances at Class A.

Adrianza, 21, is a slick-fielding, but light-hitting
shortstop (.256) for Class A San Jose. Neal hit .291 with 12 HRs and 69 RBI for
Double-A Richmond. Tanner was 9-9 with 3.68 ERA in 27 starts for Richmond.

Also, in case you missed it, RHP Kevin Pucetas was sent to Kansas City as the PTBNL in the Jose Guillen trade. Pucetas, as you may recall, was one of the contenders for the No. 5 rotation spot for the Giants last spring, but ended up losing out to Todd Wellemeyer. 

Pucetas, 25, was 5-7 with 5.69 ERA for Triple-A Fresno last
season.

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