Friday, November 30, 2007


Friday Night Links

It’s very nearly time for my Friday afternoon nap, so before I conk out and surrender to dreams of Minka, let’s take a look at some stories going around MLB today…

--The latest Giant-related rumor is that the team is in talks with the Indians regarding their young third base prospect Andy Marte, or the guy formerly known as Baseball Prospectus’s number one prospect in 2005. The shine has rubbed off of Marte's blue chip status quite a bit after some regression at AAA and a hideous major league showing in 2006, but he’s just the sort of player the Giants should be targeting, a guy who still has tons of upside and who can be had at a lower price.

Marte probably won’t be the superstar many envisioned at first, but he’s still just 24, and wouldn’t it be neat to see him bust out in the black and orange after disappointing so many franchises for so long? Best of all, it would reduce Pedro Feliz to being merely a bad three-year-long dream. Or perhaps a nightmare.

--The Tigers today DFA’d first baseman Chris Shelton, who had a rocky career in Detroit, to say the least. Shelton was the flavor of the month in April 2006 when he hit 10 home runs to start the season, then completely crapped out and ended up wasting away in AAA while the Tigers rolled to the World Series. Jim Leyland was so down on him that he spent all of last season in the minors while Sean freaking Casey provided a .393 slugging percentage and all kinds of non-productive-y goodness.

Shelton now joins ranks of those souls known in these parts as the Easily Obtainable First Base Talent, a group from whence the likes of Carlos Pena and Jack Cust came last season. Shelton would be worth a minor league invite or something on the off chance that he can produce. His power slumped in AAA this year, but he’s shown good power in the majors before (Tyler Walker knows all about it) and I don’t really think he was given a fair chance in Detroit. Best of all, the risk involved is zero, because he’d probably cost pennies on the dollar, and therefore could just be tossed back into the muck if he didn’t pan out.

--Thought I'd talk a bit about the Hall of Fame ballot that came out this week. The two big Giant names on the newcomer list are Robb Nen and Rod Beck, who, as great as they were for the Giants, really have no business garnering even one vote. In my humble opinion, in order for a reliever to make the Hall of Fame, he has to be on another planet compared to his peers. Mariano Rivera, I'll buy. Bruce Sutter? Possibly. Nen and Beck? No way in hell.

Nen had two absolutely dominant years while Beck had one, and you need to be the best of the best for a stretch of close to a decade if you're a closer, at least in my mind. In these modern times when closers only generally pitch one inning per game, it's becoming even harder to make a Hall of Fame case for them. We'll just have to honor them ourselves and remember them as two pitcher who probably killed their arms trying to get the Giants to the World Series.

--As for the deserving Hall of Fame candidates, Tim Raines is the only one of the newcomers who really merits selection. Reading all of the arguments for Raines, you realize how awesome he was, and for a stretch of about five years in the 1980's he may have legitimately been the best player in the National League. Just check it out. Unfortunately, he had his best seasons while playing in obscurity in Montreal, and that might be enough to keep him out of the Hall.

The other guys I'd vote for if I had a ballot (someday, dammit) would be Bert Blyleven and Alan Trammell. The case for Blyleven has been made over and over again by statheads, but at this point it looks like he's doomed to fall victim to a historical misintepretation of park factors and win-loss record. Trammell, meanwhile, was probably the second-best shortstop of his era, but sadly he was overshadowed by the number one shortstop, Cal Ripken, and that might prevent him from ever being recognized.

--Random video, a quickie...

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Isn't Marte Feliz, Niekro, Calvin Murray, Linden, Ellison all over again?
Marte has way more potential than any of those guys ever had. He was rated as one of the best prospects in baseball just two years ago.
Is there a time during his professional career that Mr. Marte has lived up to his potential? He may have more of it, but he seems to have shown himself able to use it as well as the aforementioned. I wouldn't mind trading Messenger, Sadler, Taschner, Threets, Valdez, Alfonzo, Rodriguez, Denker, Ishikawa, Bowker, Timpner, Velez I've, as you can tell, gone thru the 40 man. I concede he is worth someone on the 40 man, but not a piece that we are counting on, such as, Correia, Sanchez, Hennessey. Maybe Marte has upside, but he also has downside. Fine, trade multiple guys with "upside" but no one who is currently contributing.
Correia and Sanchez are potential 5 th starters/bullpen help. Hennessey might be in the mix for closer this spring, but I wouldn't be surprised if Wilson is the favorite relegating Hennessey to a setup role. If we're depending on these guys, God help the little children, God help us all.

For what it's worth. I don't think the Indians even consider Hennessey for Marte straight up and laugh at the guys you've mentioned. They might think about Correia or Sanchez, but I wouldn't be surprised if they asked for more (i.e. some cominbation or Lowry). Why? The tribe's got a pretty decent pen, and no internal replacement at third near ready for the majors.
Of those three guys, I think the only one the Indians would want is Sanchez. Marte's stock has fallen far, but not that far. I can see Sanchez-for-Marte, or some variation, happening as a kind of challenge trade.

There certainly is no guarantee that Marte will pan out, but he still has a lot of talent and he'll be just 24 next season. The Giants have no shortage of young pitching, so I think it'd be a reasonable risk to take.
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