Sunday, January 10, 2010

Trying to Defend Travis Ishikawa over Adam LaRoche

For some reason, I'm just not thrilled about Adam LaRoche.

Look at any Giants blog, Bleacher Report article, and they all seemed to be thrilled about him. Adam LaRoche this, Adam LaRoche that.

But I just can't imagine he's that much of an upgrade over Travis Ishikawa.

Yes, I know, I am on the Ishikawa bandwagon. I have been since post-All-Star break. Before that, I was not on the Ishikawa-bandwagon. Why? I don't know. Giants first basemen have let me down in the past decade not named JT Snow. Remember Lance Niekro? Remember how he had a decent half-season and then fell off the face of the earth? Now you can understand my disdain with Giants first basemen prior to the second half of 2009.

But that being said, I saw a change in Ishikawa in the second half. I saw a guy who could hit with some power (and not in a hitter's park mind you) and was willing to work the count and not swing at every damn ball close to the strike zone. Now, is Ishikawa going to have a 10 percent strikeout rate like Ryan Garko? Probably not, but Ishikawa has power potential, and once he fully realizes what pitches he can take for power, and which ones he can't, this guy is going to be worth the wait. We started to see that in the second half. I don't know why Giants fans are willing to quit on him now so soon.

And yet, we hear Adam LaRoche. We hear Bruce Bochy wants to play Ishikawa in the outfield because he doesn't feel Ishikawa can be the everyday first baseman. Never mind that Bill James predicts that Ishikawa and LaRoche will have near identical BB/K ratios next season (0.46 for LaRoche, 0.44 for Ishikawa). Never mind that CHONE according to fangraphs believe they will have similar OPS numbers next season (.789 for LaRoche to .762 to for Ishikawa). And never mind the fact that Ishikawa will come millions of dollars cheaper (I know LaRoche is in desperate straits right now, but this is Brian Sabean we're talking about, and as well all know, Sabes loves to overpay regardless of the market).

The bottom line is that LaRoche is going to get the hots from Giants fans and management and Ishikawa will get buried because LaRoche is a big name in theory. I really wish Giants fans and management would try to see the optimism in all of this. I really wish that they would see that LaRoche has never really played on a winning team. I really wish they would not make the same mistake that they made with Joe Nathan. I really wish that they would know what is a good way to spend money and what is not.

There is still time I guess. Let's just hope those 20-plus home run numbers from LaRoche don't blind Sabean. If he thinks LaRoche is going to get those kind of numbers in AT&T Park. Giants fans have to be crazy.

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