Tim Kawakami has an article up for the Mercury News, and I don't agree with a lick of it. I've always thought it was unfair to dissect a column point by point -- it's unfair at best, arrogant at worst -- but I couldn't help myself. No disrespect toward Mr. Kawakami, but this helps me elaborate on some of my points:
Rios a pure power hitter from the right-hand side who can bat fourth and play left field-gee, that happens to be one of the Giants' massive voids.
Pure power hitter is a huge stretch. Rios had 24 homers last season, and he had 17 the season before that. Ryan Howard is a pure power hitter. Rios is a hitter with some power. He's still young, but he'll be 27 next season. You can't just assume that he's going to improve drastically, as he's at an age where some hitters plateau.
The Giants have some young pitching to spare, and the days of holding onto Tim Lincecum, or, if it gets to that, Matt Cain, just to say WE'RE HOLDING ONTO OUR YOUNG PITCHING... well, that's over for the Giants.
It isn't just to say "we're holding onto our young pitching." It's more about recognizing that 23-year-olds who average a strikeout per inning don't come around too often. He was blowing away MLB hitters 70 innings after he was in the Pac-10, and he's under the Giants' control for the next five seasons. This isn't your mother's Jerome Williams. More importantly, there is no way to build even an average offense by trading Lincecum
. It just isn't something that can happen this offseason.
Three consecutive losing seasons, leading to 71-91 in 2007, sort of tells you that. They have to rebuild their line-up, and it has to start now.
Absolutely. Completely agreed.
Lincecum is an incredible talent, but that delivery has "future shoulder surgery" written all over it.
I always hate this point. Why does the delivery suggest future problems? Most of the power in Lincecum's delivery comes from the legs. Different does not equal dangerous. Pitching is hazardous to the human arm. No one knows a whole bunch after that.
Rios had an .852 OPS in 2007, which would've led the non-Bonds Giants line-up.
(Randy Winn was the highest regular in that category, at .798. Dan Ortmeier, in limited at-bats, finished at .814. Everybody else was pretty pathetic.)
Rios had 43 doubles, which would've led the Giants. (Winn had 42.)
Rios was better than Randy Winn. I'll concede that. But "Hey, lets get someone better
than Randy Winn!" isn't a good argument. Rios would be the best hitter on the 2008 Giants. I'll concede that as well. But we're still talking about a modest improvement on Randy Winn's performance from last year. We all watched Winn. No one was screaming about a contract extension at the end of the season, as it wasn't the kind of offensive performance that a team would think about building around. If you're trading Lincecum for Rios, you're banking on a huge
improvement from Rios.
Maybe Toronto is a fairly friendly hitters park, but Rios had more HRS (24-16), more doubles, 52-point better batting average, 29 more runs, higher slugging percentage and more hits than Vernon Wells.
Wells had a horrible season last year. Offensively, it would make more sense to compare Wells's 2007 with Ryan Klesko's 2007. There are better ways to prove Rios's worth than by stacking him up against a teammate who had a terrible season.
The Giants weren't just a lousy hitting team last year. They were PUTRID.
-They were second-to-last in runs scored (683), behind only Washington.
-Even with Bonds' little final push, the Giants hit the second-fewest HRs (131).
-The Giants' slugging percentage of .387 was last in baseball, which is what happens when you keep playing Vizquel, Aurilia, Roberts and Durham.
Oh man, Durham. Durham and Aurilia probably were the worst two regulars in baseball last year, on the same friggin' team.
Agreed on all points. Even worse, the best player from that putrid offense isn't coming back. I still don't see how Alex Rios solves anything
. He's a nice player, but he doesn't come close to fixing an offense by himself.
The best teams are the ones who score a lot and get enough pitching to win.
The leading run-scoring teams in 2007:
-Red Sox 867.
Now, I know the Diamondbacks did a lot of things-getting to the playoffs, winning a round-with a lousy offense (712 runs, 26th in baseball).
But Arizona also hit 171 HRs... 40 more than the weakling Giants.
(Giants - Bonds) + Rios = Less home runs than the 2007 Giants. I still don't see how Rios fixes this awful offense by himself.
And did you see all those Dominant Great Young Arms Colorado used to get to the World Series? Err, wait, they don't have many young arms. They just got bye with a bunch of guys who happened to get hot.
Jeff Francis was a huge
part of that run, and the Rockies don't make the playoffs if Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales aren't on the team.
You can manufacture pitching staffs. Dan Haren was acquired in a trade and might be again. Chris Carpenter was signed by St. Louis as a free agent. Jon Garland just got traded.
What a weird argument. The Cardinals are still kicking themselves for giving Haren away, yet somehow his name is used as supporting evidence for trading a young pitcher away. Carpenter is one of the flukiest comeback stories of the decade, and Garland is a Ziploc bag full of average. It would make more sense to write "David Ortiz was picked up after he was non-tendered, Manny Ramirez was a free agent, and Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek came over in trades," as all of those players are on the same team.
But it's much, much harder to grab young power hitters. The kind of hitters the Rockies, Diamondbacks and Dodgers have right now.
First off, only someone stuck watching the Giants would think there's something magical about developing hitters like Alex Rios. I feel your pain, Tim. And, second, this argument invalidates the point of the entire article. Those teams drafted and developed those hitters. It took time and patience. This article could have been written in Colorado a few years ago, except it would have advocated a young-hitting-for-pitching trade. And it would have been a disaster.
The Giants' offense is a mess. Rios doesn't fix that. With Cain and Lincecum, the Giants have four or five years to build an offense. The Giants would have three years to build an offense around Rios -- a modest upgrade on last year's Randy Winn, remember -- though 2008 is most likely lost.
I just don't get what this trade would accomplish.