Thursday, November 02, 2006

 

Crazed Giants Trade Scenario #1

Hey, it's that time again! The World Series has come and gone in a whirlwind of bad fielding and Eckstein-y mayhem, and we've got another six grueling months until Opening Day to look forward to. As we wade through the boredom and the large contract extensions being doled out to unsightly NBA players, we now have to set our sights on the raging fires of the hot stove season. And you know what that means. It's time for some loony trade proposals! Anyone who's ever ventured onto one of those ESPN team fan forums knows how this kind of thing usually plays out:

stickandBIGBALLSguy6969: dood, we should TOTALLY trade Misch, Neikro, Taschner, Jamey Wright, and Knoedler for AROD...we get the yanks to pay ALL his salary...no way they don't do it!!!

This then touches off a "debate" that consists of people being called queer, mothers being insulted, and the one inevitable individual who attempts to serve as the voice of reason, only to get drowned out in a sea of ROFLMAOs. I'm going to attempt the impossible here, then. I'm going to throw out a crazy proposal and then try to back it up with reason and sound analysis. If, after my arguments have been presented, people still don't agree with me, well, that's when the "yo mommas" will start to fly.

All right, let's do this. A reasoned and thought-out trade proposal by a guy on the Internet. We're in uncharted waters here, people...

Giants trade Matt Morris to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for Dallas McPherson and Mike Napoli.

Don't kill me. There will be two factions of Giants fans hating me for this one. There will be those who will call me a jackass for even thinking that the Angels would trade two power prospects for a crappy, overpaid veteran pitcher. Then there will be those who rip me for wanting to trade a viable innings-eater and veteran rotation anchor for two guys who combined to hit .238 last year with 130 whiffs in 383 at-bats. I can hear the message board denizens now: "You're off your rocker, Ryder! Off your fvcxing gord!!!!"

Just hear me out. The Giants, of course, would pay a portion of Morris's salary. I realize that in any trade scenario, whenever it involves a player fans want to get rid of (see Alfonzo, Edgardo circa 2005), the old "ah, we'll just pay half his salary" thing always gets thrown out, as if that's a deal-sealer that rival GMs just can't pass up. I'm no fan of this (the Giants would still be paying the guy about $9 million to pitch in SoCal, after all), but since Morris is overpaid it's basically a necessity. Call it atoning for a past mistake. Here are the pros and cons of this deal, as I see them:

PROS

With one fell swoop, the Giants could potentially fill two holes in their lineup with impact bats. McPherson could take over third base (or possibly first, in the event that the Giants sign Aramis Ramirez pleasepleaseplease), while Napoli could provide some offensive juice at the catcher position. Here are the 2006 lines for each player:

Napoli: .228/.360/.455
McPherson: .261/.298/.478

Here are the lines for the Elizier Alfonzo and Pedro Feliz, the Giants' starting catcher and third baseman in 2006, respectively:

Alfonzo: .266/.302/.465
Feliz: .244/.281/.428

The batting average on Napoli might have some thumbing their noses, but the important numbers are in those OBP and slugging categories. Even with a batting average 38 points lower, Napoli's .360 OBP still dwarfed Alfonzo's because of all the walks he drew. Napoli also smacked 16 home runs in 268 at-bats; that's a pace for about 30 homers given a full season of playing time. Even with the poor batting average and eye-popping strikeout rates (one every three at-bats...yikes!), a catcher who can rake 30 homers and get on base at a rate in the .360s has immense value.

With McPherson, it's kind of the same deal, only without the walks. His line looks a little like Super-Lance Neikro, but he has way more power and is still young enough to put it together. Scouts thought McPherson would develop 40-homer power. If that kind of power does manifest, and he starts to put fear into opposing pitchers, that sub-.300 OBP will go the way of the dodo. In the minor leagues, McPherson displayed the ability to take a walk and to hit for a high average, and usually that kind of skill doesn't just magically go away once a player hits the majors.

One major problem the Giants' batting order had the past two years was a lack of pop, and this move would go a long way toward curing that. Instead of the kind of non-production the Giants have gotten at the corners in the past few years, you have a guy who can hit 40 bombs. At catcher, you'd get a guy who could turn out to be a Mickey Tettleton-type, providing lots of walks and homers. Yes, Alfonzo had a good year, but I'm not sold on him as a long term solution due to his age and 74:9 K:BB ratio. Napoli is young enough (he'll be 25 next year) to fix some of those contact problems and become a major asset.

Perhaps most importantly, these guys are both cheap, making under $1 million, and when you can get production like this for pennies, you should take it. Plus, it would free up space on the payroll to spend big money on a marquee guy...like, say, Aramis Ramirez.

CONS

I'm not the biggest fan of Matt Morris, and his 2006 season could charitably be described as mediocre. However, there is something to be said about a guy who can go out there and take the ball for 200 innings and not get lit up like the night sky on Independence Day. At the least, Morris will probably give you 32 starts of reasonable quality and half a season of unkempt facial hair.

The Giants will have a very young rotation next season, with Matt Cain, Noah Lowry, and Jonathan Sanchez likely headlining the rotation. With all of the question marks that apply to pitchers so young, who knows how many innings they'll be able to go, or how effective they'll be? By trading Morris you give up a stable veteran, a guy who is
assured of giving you innings, and who can mentor the young 'ins during their rough patches. I'm a guy who thinks "veteran presence" is immensely overrated, but in this case I think there is something to be said for it.

As for Napoli and McPherson, well, the strikeouts
are a problem. With a guy like Napoli, if he can't make more contact or learn to hit the ball the opposite way once in a while, the power will be nullified and his value will collapse, impressive walk rate or no. He is in major danger of turning into a Bobby Estalella clone. The Angels have already seemed to sour a little on McPherson and, like I said, his major league batting line screams Lance Neikro. There's a chance that both of these guys could crap out and the Giants would be left with the same smoking craters at the catcher and corner positions that they started off with.

Taking both pros and cons into consideration, I still think it'd be well worth it. Sometimes you just have to take a chance. Think about it this way: in November 2003, the Twins took a major gamble by trading an All-Star catcher to the Giants for a middle reliever with one healthy year and a rap for not being able to get it done in the playoffs, a minor league pitcher with dwindling peripheral numbers, and another minor league pitcher who couldn't stay healthy for weeks at a time. We all know how that went.

It's the kind of trade, dealing a known commodity for a couple of unknowns, that may piss off the scribes at the Chron, like Sabean's Matt Williams trade in '97, but in the end it could pay huge dividends. It shows something that this front office has lacked when coming up with position players: creativity. I harp on this like in every post, but it still gets me. Instead of going out and finding unknowns with some potential to fill holes, Sabean will always settle for ol' reliable, the sage veteran. When said veteran OPSes .700, Sabean shrugs and gives us more politico bullshit about getting younger, as horrifying rumors of a Luis Gonzalez signing begin to swirl about.

What are the chances that the Angels will go for this kind of deal? I like to tell myself that they are quite good. Anyone who has followed the Angels for the past five years knows that they are enamored with high batting average/contact guys, and aren't particularly patient with Three True Outcomes guys like Napoli or McPherson. With a loaded farm system and viable alternatives at first base and catcher, the Angels might be willing to talk.

Of course, I doubt even the Angels would be blind to the value inherent in a catcher who can mash like Napoli, and they were high on McPherson once upon a time, so I doubt they'd give up on him too easily. Plus, with five solid options in the starting rotation (assuming Bartolo Colon is healthy), they probably don't need Matt Morris, or his salary.

So in the end, this is just a little pipe dream I had in between bouts of Dead Rising on my off day. I'm just looking out for my team, rolling around helpful deals in my head and thinking of ways to make this team better. You know, stuff that doesn't involve 38-year-old ex-DBacks. Hey, it's better than the usual Fred Lewis-for-Vlad Guerrero crap you usually see from foamy-mouthed assholes with a voice on the web. It's probably not a deal that will be made, but I can always dream.
I mean, if Scott Kazmir-for-Victor Zambrano can go down, then why not this?

When Pedro Feliz is back at third base next year, I'll close my eyes and pretend it's McPherson in the middle of a .290/.360/.550 season. When Mike Matheny makes his triumphant return to being an automatic out, I'll pretend it's Napoli, channeling Gene Tenace with a .250/.380/.510 line. With the way the past two seasons have turned out, and with the gloomy outlook of the 2007 season, maybe dreaming is all we Giants fans have left.

Comments:
Angels still have a rotation of:

Jered Weaver
John Lackey
Ervin Santana
Kelvim Escobar
Joe Saunders

And Chris Bootcheck ready on the farm so I doubt they would trade for a starting pitcher.
 
Good point, of course. Again, this concoction has no basis in reality...it's just me mind-vomiting on a computer screen on a boring Thursday.

If I were the Angels I sure as hell wouldn't do it, but I still think there's a chance they undervalue guys like McPherson and Napoli due to their unfailing devotion to the batting average god. It'd be worth a holler if you're the Giants GM.
 
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