Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Jamey Wrong To the Rescue

OK, so the Giants have basically set their 25-man roster as they prepare to break camp. No big surprises. Well, actually one fairly large surprise, as Jamey Wright has beaten out Brad Hennessey for the 5th starter spot. More on that in a sec. Todd Greene also made the cut as the team's backup catcher, while Jason Ellison edged Todd Linden to become the team's fifth outfielder.

The awarding of a major league spot to Greene was about as expected as a McG film sucking. When he was brought to camp the backup catcher race basically became a formality, as Felipe Alou can't resist those lovable proven veterans. Hell, anything that prevents Yamid Haad from picking up a bat at the major league level, I am so down for.

Greene is an ideal backup. He's not a good enough hitter to be out there everyday, but if he's getting a start or two a week he'll give you some offense, and he's certainly not an automatic out like so many backup catchers scumming their way around the majors these days. Of course, when your starting catcher is backup quality as well, it kinda defeats the purpose, but I digress...

Moving on to the outfield battle, Jason Ellison beat out Todd Linden for the role of "fifth outfielder destined to be overused due to the geriatrics in front of him". Ellison has a ton of range in the outfield, has speed on the bases, and can hit lefties, so as outfield reserves go, he's pretty good. Under no circumstances should he match the 352 at bats he had last year, although with crazy Felipe these things are never a certainty.

Linden has nothing left to prove at AAA, and with no space on the roster, he's probably going to be dealt. What the Giants can get in return is an open debate. Linden beat the crap out of the ball at Fresno but has shown no ability to hit consistently in his trials in the majors. It took him a while to develop that power at AAA, so maybe he's a late bloomer, but it's hard to believe the Giants will get much for a 26-year-old non-prospect who looks like the second coming of J.R. Phillips.

Now we get to Jamey Wright. Ohhhhhh, boy, I did not see this coming, but I guess I should have. Lord knows I'm no Brad Hennessey fan. His combination of slop and high-wire traversing give me heart palpitations to no end. The chances of Hennessey being an above-average pitcher: very, very remote, but at least there's that 10% possiblity or so that he'll get lucky a lot or develop a new pitch. The chances of Jamey Wright being good: fucking zero.

I understand that fifth starters are way down the totem pole in terms of importance, but what the hell? I guess Wright made it because he's "proven", but that's silly. Wright is proven in the same way that Greg Ostertag is; yeah, he's been through the wars, but that doesn't hide the fact that he's going to get dunked on like ten billion times a year. With Wright you know what you're going to get: bad pitching and lots of early 3-0 holes. With Hennessey or Kevin Correia or even Merkin Valdez you might well get the same, but there's at least a chance that they'll break out or something.

Wright has at no point in his career been a servicable pitcher, and at 31 it's not like he's going to suddenly turn into Jason Schmidt. According to Baseball Prospectus's PECOTA, Wright's top comparable is Pat Rapp (otherwise known as "Pat Rappa the Rapper", or simply "Pat Crapp"). Rapp was never any good, but at 31 his game had pretty much fallen down a well and died. I think we can expect the same from Wright until June or so, when Hennessey will be called back up for good.

Maybe Wright will prove me wrong and grind out 160-180 decent innings. And maybe Monica Bellucci will show up at my doorstep in need of an emergency repair to her busted spaghetti strap. And maybe the brilliance of this blog will be recognized by Billy Beane and I'll get a cushy front office job with the A's. All these things have about the same chance of happening, but I don't know, I guess anything's possible. What I do know is that every single team that has ever given Wright 15 or more starts has been flat out bad. Do the Giants want to be the next one?

Time to reconsider your position on Wright? I watched Jamey pitch today and he did a very nice job. He mixed speeds and kept the ball down. He had the Braves hitting the ball into the ground (three double plays) and broke a couple of bats. The Braves had their A team on the field and they couldn't match up. Hope this is a good sign.
I'll reconsider when he does this consistently. Even today, he needed like four double plays to get him through seven innings; he allowed a ton of baserunners. I'll take the seven innings and the win there were all kinds of warning signs that he might not get it done in a closer game. This one was over after two innings.
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