Thursday, January 28, 2010

Which Giants Players Were Losers from Fall and Winter League?

The "Winners Post" got long, so I decided to split it up.

Like I said before, just because these players are "Losers" of Fall/Winter League doesn't mean that they buried themselves for next season. It was just something I noticed, plain and simple, and I just think numbers, regardless of the level, should be recognized. Do I think guys who were winners can tank in Spring Training? Yes. Do I think guys who were losers are capable of doing much better come March? Of course.

That being said, I also think vice versa as well, for I am an avid believer that some players are capable of transitioning solid Fall/Winter seasons into solid Springs and hopefully, regular seasons. You can't ignore numbers. I learned that in Business school. When you ignore numbers, you get a situation like Enron (the baseball equivalent would be Lance Niekro).

Now, onto the losers. I'll try to be gentle (and you'll want me to especially when you see who I put on the list).


Buster Posey:
Yikes! I blasphemed, right? No, not really. Posey had a really underwhelming 2009 campaign in Arizona Fall League. In 19 games and 71 AB, Posey posted a .225 batting average, a .683 OPS and hit only two home runs. That is not what Giants fans expected from Posey in Fall League, especially not after his incredible rise through the Giants farm system last season which saw him go from San Jose to San Francisco within the course of a 162 game season. Thus, after posting rather pedestrian numbers for Scottsdale, one can understand why Sabean may have balked at giving Posey the starting job and decided to re-sign Bengie Molina for one more season.

Of course, Posey didn't completely tank. He still posted a .345 OBP (thanks to his 13 walks drawn) and drove in 13 RBI. So, Posey didn't take a complete turn for the worse. That being said, Posey probably needed a strong showing this Fall to prove to Sabean he is ready for the starting catcher's position, and unfortunately, it just didn't happen for him in Scottsdale. Hopefully, he can pick it up in Spring Training and convince Giants brass that he is worth having up at the Major League level as a backup for the time being over Eli Whiteside.

Eugenio Velez:
Velez needs to prove this Spring Training that he is not just a "one month player" and that he can put up solid numbers over the full course of a season. Unfortunately, his performance in DWL play certainly didn't convince anybody that he can play a 162 game season for the Giants.

In 161 AB, Velez posted a .261 batting average, a .313 OBP and a .679 OPS. Furthermore, he only hit two home runs, drew 10 walks and managed to strike out 25 times. Basically, Velez proved to be the same player he has always been, only this is worse because this is Dominican Winter League and not the Major Leagues.

On the bright side, he did show some speed and a better propensity for stealing bases this Winter. He managed to snag 11 bases and was only caught twice. However, in order to be a contributor for the Giants, he needs to improve his abysmal plate patience, and this Winter showed that little progress is being made in the category.

Thankfully, Giants fans can rest nicely knowing that Mark Derosa will be starting in left field on Opening Day (barring injury of course) rather than Velez.

Jesus Guzman:
I know Guzman's gone, but I think his Winter League stats may explain why Sabean was willing to pull the hook on him to clear space for Molina. Sure, Guzman's stats aren't bad: eight home runs, a .290 batting average, a .851 OPS, eight home runs and 37 RBI. Those numbers should be pretty promising, right?

Well, I think you have to only look at two numbers to understand why Guzman was sent packing: 22 BB, 37 SO.

While those numbers aren't atrocious, they aren't comforting for an organization that is looking to upgrade over Travis Ishikawa (though I think Ishikawa can actually be a good option if you look at what he did in the second-half last season). Basically, Guzman's BB/K numbers from Winter League solidify the common-held thought by Giants fans: he's basically a right-handed Ishikawa, but without the glove.

Guzman may find a career with another team. He may find a career as a designated hitter, saving teams of his mediocre defense. However, after looking at his Winter numbers in VWL play, the Giants might have done the right thing by letting him go, especially after Pill's solid season in the VWL.

Osiris Matos:
Matos isn't gone? He's still on the roster? Well...he could make the Giants roster by Opening day, even though it's more likely Shannon Doherty will have a resurgence on television. Why? The guy simply struggles wherever he seems to pitch at.

In DWL play, Matos got shellacked, as evidenced by the 10 hits he allowed in six innings pitched. He also had a god awful WHIP of 2.33 and an ERA of 6.00 in his seven appearances in the Dominican Republic.

Let's face it, in order to make the team, Matos really needs to do something to wow the Giants. After a dismal Winter, I don't think he's capable of doing that.

Denny Bautista:
He's Pedro Martinez's cousin, right? So he must be good, right?

Well, he's going to be 30 in August, and he has bounced around the Majors, unable to live up to the hype that came after the Orioles traded him to Kansas City for Jason Grimsely (the Royals supposedly came up with a steal in that trade when they got Bautista at the time).

In many way, Bautista is just a roll of the dice for the Giants. Is he going to be good? Most likely not. However, the Giants have gotten lucky with these kinds of deals before. Keichii Yabu wasn't terrible, and Justin Miller proved to be decent for half the season in 2009. Could Batista be one of those guys. He could. He has a powerful arm.

That being said, a 1.96 WHIP and nine walks in 7.2 IP isn't going to help put him on that road to "surprise success" anytime soon.

Joe Martinez:
I know this is one more than the "Winners," but I couldn't ignore Martinez. Martinez is a class act, and his recovery from injury really is a great story. Nonetheless, the guy may not have that much of a future with the Giants unless he is really able to turn it around in Spring Training.

This Fall in Scottsdale, Martinez continued to struggle. He finished with a 6.08 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP in 23.2 IP. While he put up decent strikeout numbers (26) and low walk totals (8), he simply just gives up too many hits (31 hits) and too many runs (19).

The worst part of this mediocre AFL campaign is that these numbers came in Fall League against Rookies breaking into the league and guys with little big league experience. Martinez actually started a few games for the Giants last season.

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