Monday, May 14, 2007

You Gotta Like These Kids!

Yeah, let's resurrect that old Giants marketing slogan, from when Will the Thrill and Robbie came up and energized the club. The youngsters certainly energized the team yesterday, as the Giants won 15-2 behind Matt Cain, another youngster.

Fred Lewis Cycles!

In particular, Fred Lewis hit for the cycle, going 5 for 6 (he also had another single) from the leadoff spot, scoring 3 runs and driving in 4 - he also struck out once. He was the 24th rookie in MLB history to hit for the cycle and first Giants rookie since Dave Kingman to do that (I remember him doing that, showing my age...). He is the 9th San Francisco Giants player to do this, Winn being the last one, and 22nd in Giants franchise history. He is also only the 4th in MLB history to hit his first career homer as part of the cycle (not only that, it was his first hit too). I got all this info from my daily Merc (gotta have my newspaper fix).

In addition, Kevin Frandsen had his first 4 hit game in the majors, going 4 for 5, with 2 runs scored and 3 RBIs and a walk. Normally a big talking point but overshadowed by Lewis's feat. Kevin probably doesn't mind because he got to start a game, which he hasn't done much of this season. Bochy has said that he should see much more regular play after his latest call up. Probably didn't see the need to rest the regulars early on, but then neither Vizquel or Durham has been burning up the league (neither has Feliz), so Frandsen will probably start seeing a lot of spot start duty at each of their positions, once every week or two, depending on circumstances.

Matt Cain, the baby of the group, went 6 IP, 5 hits, 1 R/ER, 0 HR, 3 BB, 6 SO, 89 pitches, PQS of 5 for the game. He got his second win of the season, though he probably would have liked to have spread 12 of those runs in previous games, which would probably change his record from 2-3 to more like 5-1. He has pitched in a lot of bad luck this season, in terms of offensive support. He even contributed to the offense, getting a single, driving in a run plus scoring a run.

Lastly, Eliezer Alfonzo went 3 for 6 with a run scored (2 K's though) and Dan Ortmeier went 2 for 5 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBIs.

So over half the lineup was young, with the only oldsters playing being Vizquel, Feliz, Klesko, and Sweeney, but still with an average lineup age over 30, though barely at 30.2 years (and including Cain at 22) . They did well offensively today, it was a pretty thorough trashing - as one might expect from a 15-2 final score. Vizquel set an MLB career mark with a double play this game, passing Ozzie Smith for the most by a shortstop ever.

Outfield Until Roberts Return

Bochy noted that the lefty hitting Lewis would start against most RHP while Dave Roberts recovered, which presumably means that Dan Ortmeier would get to hit against most LHP. I assume there will be a few games both will play, much like this one, when Winn or Bonds get a rest. A bit of hyperbole, but Bochy noted, "Fred has so many skills, both at the plate and in the field. This guy has the chance to be a special player. He's got talent written all over him. He'll be an everyday major leaguer at some point, no question."

Most prospect books I've read says that he could be a starting CF, but nothing special, just your average starter. But even that is valuable, even without considering the history of futility of the Giants developing position players. When he was just starting out in his pro career, I saw one prospect analysis say that the Giants envision him as a leadoff hitter but when his body matured, he could be a run driving hitter who bats third. But then he hasn't really hit that well in AA and AAA, particularly for power, just adequately, though he corrected the major problem that was mentioned early on, that he can't take a walk - he does that in spades right now. So he can get on base pretty well and has very good speed, and thus has been pretty good with the stolen base totals (but not success rate), but strikes out way too much to hit better than the .250 to .270 level (which is OK with a lot of walks) and has shown only low double digit power at best.

There hasn't been much speculation what happens when Roberts returns, but assuming he can hit adequately, I assume Lewis will get the uber-4th OF role that Linden was envisioned to get where he gets 300-400 ABs while Ortmeier will get sent back down to AAA. I consider this an audition for next year, in case Bonds doesn't return, or even Klesko, because then he would get the LF starts where Bonds skips to rest. I've seen some talk of trading Randy Winn, but he is a good player, despite what many people write about him, and probably is going nowhere, at least next year. Maybe year after when Schierholtz is ready?.

Speaking of Schierholtz, I've never seen Francoeur's minor league stats so perhaps this comparison is not apt, but they appear to be similar players. Takes almost no walks, strikes out too much for any hitter, but hits for a higher average than one would think, nonetheless, in spite of the strikeouts, plus hits a lot of homers, and both RF with rocket arms. I had thought that he might come up once healthy but if Bochy sees Lewis as lefty CF platoon, then Schierholtz can't come up as he doesn't play CF, unless Bochy switches Winn back and forth between CF and RF, and he was hesitant to do that previously when Linden was around, said he wanted to keep Winn in one place. So it will be interesting whether they keep Schierholtz down or if they bring him up.

About Roberts, it was reported that the surgery was successful and that while the Giants are sticking to the 6 weeks prediction, there was some initial predictions of 4 weeks as the normal recovery time for this (even in one of the latest announcements, it was noted as "4-6 weeks"), so he might be back by then instead, the Giants are probably being conservative, particularly since this is the trainer's first year as the top guy and he wants to beat expectations. In any case, Roberts says that he is going to work hard to get back as early as he can.


  1. I wonder if Lewis could play right. I know his fielding isn't by any means good, let alone great, but one could hope that his speed will help hide some of that. RF at AT&T is different, and I understand that. If Lewis/Schierholtz can platoon right and permanently move Winn to CF (until Dave gets back), the team can take an extensive (read: 4-5 weeks) look at Nate.

    Ortmeier has done a solid job on the field when he's been there. Maybe Bochy, Sabean, and Co. will wait for Nate's debut because of that. I just think theres really no better time than now to bring him up.

  2. I think it would be better to bring Schierholtz up and give him some extended time up here too.

    There has been some talk of moving Lewis to a corner spot, but looking at his stats for the past two seasons, he has mainly played LF and CF. He has one game in RF, this season. I would have to assume that most CF can switch to the other positions relatively easily, but since they keep on harping on his lack of baseball experience, relatively, I wonder if that would make any position change tougher on him.

    This might be Ortmeier's last chance with the Giants too, that could be the Giants intent as well and would preclude adding Schierholtz now. As Ortmeier is getting to the suspect age - 26 this season - while Schierholtz is only 23, the Giants might feel they can wait on Nate for now, as much as we see more potential in him than Ortmeier right now.

    Also BA is still high on his skill set. "... Ortmeier retains his prospect status because his tools are undeniable. He's a switch-hitter with a line-drive swing from both sides of the plate, above-average defense in right or center field, a plus arm and surprising speed for a player of his size [6'4", 214#]." Also notes his character: "He competes well, always hustle and is one of the most likeable players in the system." A lot to like.

    As far as Lewis playing RF, here's a quote from BA about his defense in general, don't look good: "He doesn't use his speed as well as he could on the bases or in the outfield. He takes poor routes to balls, prompting his move from CF to LF last summer." They also note his strong potential: "He has the raw skills (bat speed, strength, speed) to hit .300 with 20-25 HR and 30-40 steals annually." He just hasn't put it together yet, they say.

    The book I like, Minor League Baseball Analyst, notes on Lewis: "...solid range in CF with average arm strength". So perhaps RF is a stretch since you want a rocket arm there.

    Plus, given Schierholtz's success in AAA, albeit small samples, he's probably the RF heir apparent, which means you want to see how Lewis does in CF and LF, as his future lies there (as well as his experience).

  3. Besides the arm strength issue that Martin notes, Lewis' offensive game is much more likely to be of value (if it develops) in CF than in RF. That's already the problem with having Winn in RF so that switch doesn't make too much sense. Beyond that, I'm not sure exactly how you go about platooning two left-handed hitters which both Fred and Nate are.

  4. Doh!!!

    Very good zinger at the end there, yeah, they are both lefties so it would be impossible to platoon there!!!

    Good point about CF, yes, his value is much more in CF than either of the corner OF, that is true in general. But if he can't play it very well, as one comment I quoted noted, then there goes that, eh?

    And as I noted before, yeah, Winn has more value at CF, but he's still better than the average RF, OPS-wise, so I don't have a problem with him there, as long as he returns to his career OPS rate, which he appears to be doing.

  5. I forgot all about the handedness of Fred and Nate. Perhaps Nate would be better off staying down and getting to play everyday.

    What exactly is an "average" arm? Is Randy Winn's arm considered "average"? If so, then there wouldn't be much loss if Fred played right.

    I never did like the argument of value during the course of a season. Value makes total sense when you're actually constructing or meddling with the team. Yes, Lewis and Winn both have more value as CFs, but once you're into the season, does it really matter?



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