Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

The Giants and the A's; Conjectures and Trades by Ed Stern

Interesting stories in today’s sports pages respecting both the Giants and the A’s. With respect to the Giants, the headline is “Forget about Guerrero, Sheffield as additions.”

Ray Ratto is of the opinion that the Giants will not spend the money needed to get either of these right fielders. He may be right. If he is, the sentiment recently mentioned here, that Sabean wants to win it all now, should be modified to “Sabean wants to win it all now, if it can be done within the budget.”

Let’s leave Guerrero aside for the moment. The Yankees will outbid anyone for him. Let’s dwell on the possibility of acquiring Sheffield. Ratto talks about a salary of between 9 and 14 million. If they went that route they would be able to carry Snow and their present slick fielding shortstop. They would have the strongest hitting team in the league, possibly both leagues. They would have an outstanding defensive club.

They would still need to come up with a fourth and fifth starter but that would not be an impossibility. They would have a lock on the regular season. There would be no competition worthy of note in their division, or in the rest of the league, for that matter. This would be a team which could easily match last year’s 100 wins and , in all likkelihood, better it. They would sell out 81 games at Pac Bell.

The alternative is to come up with a journeyman right fielder. They tried that these past two years. Last year they won 100 games with a right fielder who couldn’t buy a hit the last half of the season. They might do it again. However, they would be hard put to resign Snow and also go with a shortstop who is not strong offensively. The team would be weakened in the field. As was said, they could still win the division. But we are projecting such a team against the possibility of fielding a club which would be the most intriguing team seen in San Francisco in many a year.

Sheffield might be willing to defer salary until Bonds takes off for the American League. at which time they would have money to spare. This is management’s call, not Sabean’s. It is hoped that among management there are baseball fans. If so, the call may be easier.

With respect to the A’s. a couple of trades made the news today. The A’s get Kielty and Kotsay, giving up Lilly, Hernandez and Long. Long will not be missed. Hernandez and Lilly may very well be missed to a greater extent than Billy Beane anticipates.

The knock on Hernandez, as far as one tell, was only that he didn’t stand up to the baserunner coming into home plate in a tight situation as well as he might. No one questions his catching ability, his handling of the pitchers and, this past year, he hit better than he has in the previous seasons. They now need a catcher. They have a big hole there. If they are looking for someone such as Santiago, as was hinted at in the press today, they will be disappointed. He is far over the hill, both offensively and defensively.

Lilly was a very good pitcher, a left hander, at the end of last year. Toronto may have stolen him. Kielty, on past performance, is only a journeyman ball player, at best. He is a .245 hitter without much power. It was pointed out in the press that he is a patient hitter and Beane likes patient hitters. Patience may be a virtue, but after one is patient, one better get a hit once in a while.

Kotsay is a good player who will give the A’s some consistent hitting without too much power. He can also steal a base upon occasion although the A’s aren’t much for that kind of baseball.

The concern respecting these trades is that the A’s gave up too much in exchange for what they received. They clearly needed outfield help. Beane needed two outfielders who could hit and field. He may have received only one. Additionally, he may miss Hernandez and Lilly more than he thinks. Time will tell.


1 glenpark { 11.21.03 at 12:15 am }

Some people think Sheffield is close to Steinbrenner — he is a Tampa native, Gooden’s cousin, and both Gooden and Strawberry have been well treated by Steinbrenner. And Sheffield is a better fit in Yankee Stadium than Guerrero. Still, if Barry can influence the ownership, Sheffield is the better pick for SF.

As for Neifi Perez, he is a major talent in the field — he needs coaching, concentration and discipline at the plate. He gets himself out more than pitchers do. Snow is a great guy, a fan favorite — the question now is about his overall athleticism and how long he can sustain what he has going now physically.

Most people think Sexson will come to this division – Milwaukee wants a catcher, suddenly the Giants have four of them, including two good major leaguers — Sexson looked great last September when MIlwaukee was in Pac Bell, a deal for him would be awesome and keep him out of Arizona. Then right field could go to Cruz, Jr., Encarnacion, etc.

A really intriguing guy is Carlos Beltran – if the A’s or the Giants could get him I think his long term upside is as attactive as the big names. Somehow, Lilly and others for Beltran sounds a lot better.

The A’s moves are baffling unless one looks at the arbitration eligibility. Lilly turned everything around last year with Peterson, he stopped being an arm thrower ( a five inning guy) and learned to use his lower body. Most of all, he developed a fierce self confidence – his Game Three in Boston was among the best of the whole playoffs, right up there with anyone’s. He will be huge in Toronto — Kielty is supposed to be good, but so was Adam Piatt and Ben Grieve –Kotsay looks like Johnny Damon to me – sure, he will be a steady and solid center fielder, and maybe a good hitter — but he is 6 mill and Ramon was just too good to let go. Ramon came on huge last year, he and Peterson are now both gone, this is way too big for any one journeyman guy to replace. And the soul of the team was in both Ramon and Tejada –without them the team looks real flat. No word at all yet on either Guillen or Tejada.

My guess is that no one was taking T Long, and the A’s had to ship Ramon to get the deal done to move T Long. In the National League Ramon will have to throw more. As for Terrence, I wish him the best —San Diego did well in this trade.

The biggest transaction the A’s have made is among their principals — Wolff seems like the kind of guy who will impact the nature, the identity, of the franchise –whether this is good or bad for Oakland is up in the air, but he seems to be a proven performer in the business world, and someone worth watching.

2 Ed { 11.22.03 at 12:22 pm }

Sexson, as was pointed out, had a great series at Pac Bell last year. More important, he had a great year overall. He would be a good fit for the Giants for the foreseeable future. They would still need a right fielder with some talent. Cruz should be on the bottom of that list. He spent most of last year a completely demoralized hitter. It’s questionable whether he will ever be much more than that. As for the A’s, it may be that they have self-destructed by their latest moves. They still have to deal with the Tejada situation. It may be that, from Tejada’s viewpoint, the A”s have become a less desirable choice after their latest moves than they were previously. The A’s no longer look like a competitor and good players want to have a chance to win– despite A-Rod.

3 Anonymous { 11.22.03 at 5:23 pm }

I’m not sure why you’re so down on Cruz, other than his error in the playoffs. He’s an otstanding fielder and saved the Giant’s butts many times last year.

4 Ed { 11.24.03 at 4:59 pm }

For most of the year Cruz looked very much the same way Soriano looked during the playoffs. He had no idea where the strike zone was, it became clear that if he didn’t swing at a pitch it was going to be called a strike and that if he did swing at a pitch it would be a pitch he had no chance to hit. I place no emphasis on his dropped ball in the playoffs, distressing as it was at the time. Those things happen. A right fielder, however, should have more going for him than simply fielding his position well. Cruz had absolutely nothing to be proud of other than his fielding after the first four weeks of the season. That is simply not enough.

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