This is Keith Law's Blog on ESPN.com and my responses to it:
Rowand's not a Giant upgradeposted: Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The fact that the addition of Aaron Rowand probably makes the Giants a better club in 2008 should not be seen as an endorsement of the signing (When do we endorse signings then? When they make teams worse?). We're talking about a lineup where the fourth-best hitter is the "VACANT" sign hanging on third base. (I don't even know what that means. Is he saying Feliz was our 4th best hitter?)
Rowand is a dead-fastball hitter (true) with a complicated, high-effort swing (also true) that produces a lot of sound and fury, but a lot of swings and misses as well (true). His power is part real and part the effect of the hitters' parks where he's spent his entire career (56 homers at home versus 37 on the road) [I'd venture to say he doesn't have any real power at all... but that doesn't mean he's a bad hitter]. He's not enough of a contact hitter to predict high averages, and his batting average has fluctuated accordingly throughout his career. He is not patient, going after the first fastball he sees (or thinks he sees) [This is a completely unjustifiable statement. Keith Law has no idea about Rowand's approach. It's pure speculation.], never drawing more than 44 unintentional walks in a season (He swings a lot, yea... we get it). He's now moving to a bigger ballpark that's about as unfriendly to home runs as Philadelphia's park is friendly to them, and he's not going to make up for the loss of that power with good OBPs.
Jerry Crasnick just named the Giants' lineup (without Rowand) the worst in the majors as currently constructed, and lack of on-base skills is a major reason [The lack of hitting ability is the other major reason]. The Giants' offense revolved around Barry Bonds, who certainly won't be playing in San Francisco in 2008, leaving the Giants with a sort of baseball anemia. Bonds drew 132 walks in 2007; the rest of the Giants drew 400, with no one over 53. In fact, the Giants put fewer men on base in 2007 than any other NL club but Arizona, and that's including Bonds and his .480 OBP. If you don't put men on base, you don't score. Signing Rowand doesn't help the Giants on this score.
Here's what I have to say:
Rowand was not the best CF available in the free agent pool, but of the CF picks he was probably the best signing. Andrum Jones is basically more of a liability than an asset, and Torii is just way too expensive. Rowand is probably the highest value, even at his riddiculous signing price. He plays CF better than anyone that was available, and that alone would have won the Giants 5 more games last year. My hatred of Dave Roberts defense in CF is well documented.
Rowand is pretty quick, has a great glove and arm in CF, is only 30 years old, and is about the easiest guy to cheer for in the Bigs. That guy plays balls to the wall every day. He is well-known for firing up his teammates with his play and with his attitude. The Giants maybe didn't need a 17th out-fielder, but they did upgrade defensively and got a spark plug on the bench. I really do not disagree with signing him. Let Rowand roam around in CF and let Roberts platoon with Schierholtz in LF.