Thursday, June 02, 2005


SF In Desperation Mode

LA is in a major funk, but at least I can take some pleasure in the downfall of the Archnemesis...

As of earlier today, the Giants are 23 - 28, 9 games out of first place. They recently upgraded the bullpen by acquiring LaTroy Hawkins for two good pitching prospects. It's clear that this is a short term fix with a clear motive: hold on until Bonds and Benitez return.

To clear a roster spot for Hawkins, the Giants designated Matt Herges for assignment. I have not seen Herges nor Hawkins pitch this year, so I don't know how much of an upgrade Hawkins represents. According to the ESPN stats as of 5/30/05:

Herges, 21 innings, 6 Ks, 7 BBs, 2 HRs
4.82 DIPS ERA, 4.71 ERA

Hawkins, 20 innings, 14 Ks, 7 BBs, 4 HRs
5.35 DIPS ERA, 3.15 ERA

If Hawkins is an upgrade, the DIPS ERA doesn't show it. Historically, these 2 relievers have similar strikeout rates (about 6 per nine innings) and bases on balls, (about 3 per nine) with Hawkins a tad more prone to giving up the long ball. I realize that Hawkins throws harder, is more "established", and pitched in a hitter-friendly park, so the DIPS ERA may be biased. But according to The Hardball Times:

Herges, 21.3% line drives given up
Hawkins, 13.6% line drives given up

The average line drive rate given up is about 18%, so one would expect Herges and Hawkins to regress to the mean. If so, Hawkins is in trouble as balls hit in play are more likely to land as hits.

(As if to prove myself correct, Hawkins gave up 4 runs last night. Here's hoping that Herges catches on with another team and repeats as the next Nathan/Hermanson.)

The Giants are probably not done with moves. Their ship is sinking quickly, and need help immediately. According to this article,
General manager Brian Sabean, keeping with his here-and-now philosophy and realizing three NL West teams have better records, suggested Saturday's LaTroy Hawkins trade might be just the start. He's still focused on seeking a left-handed hitter, perhaps an outfielder, given how the Giants are 13-18 against right-handed starters.

"For us to hang in and get to the point where we could play with these teams, we're going to have to make a stand now and reshape the roster now," Sabean said. "That's really based on how you view the competition and what you're up against in the division and league."
The following lefthanded outfielders are those who I think may be available immediately at the right price. I considered salaries, team standings, payroll, and market size; this is an incomplete list, at best. Primo names such as Adam Dunn or Bobby Abreu are not included because I don't think SF has neither the payroll space nor the bargaining chips to afford them. Contract data is from Hardball Dollars.

PIT Lawton, $7.5 million in 2005
CIN Griffey, 10/5 rights, $6 mil a year til 2008, $57 mil deferred from to 2009 to 2024
NYM Floyd, $6.5 mil in 2005 and 2006
TB Huff, $4.5 and $7.5 in 2005 and 2006
SEA Ibanez, $4 mil in 2005 and 2006
TX Dellucci, $1 mil in 2005 and 2006
KC Stairs, $1.2 mil in 2005

The most improbable name on this list is Griffey, who would at least fill some empty seats while Bonds is out. As injury-prone as Griffey is, his salary structure is palatable in the near future since much of his payments are deferred after his contract period ends. Griffey may be willing to waive his 10/5 rights in order to bail from a team in ruin. A package including Alfonso ($7.5 and $8 mil in 05 and 06) and a top prospect might fit the bill for Griffey, 3B Randa, ($3.75 mil for 2005) and some help with Griffey's deferred payments.

As much as I would like to see Bonds, Griffey, and Grissom tripping over their walkers in the same outfield, a far more likely scenario is acquiring a one year rental such as Lawton or Stairs. However, no desperate move would surprise me at this point as long as there is a chance that Bonds will come back this year. The window of opportunity for the Giants is closing rapidly, and Sabean knows it. The Giants are willing to sacrifice their future for a short term gain, and are desperate enough to knowingly make a bad deal.

It stinks that LA has dropped to .500 right now, but the situation is far worse up north as the West Coast Mets scrounge for whatever they can get. It's a small consolation, at least.

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