WHAT THE GIANTS GOT:
A.J. Pierzynski, C, 26 years old
A.J. Pierzynski is an all-star catcher with incredible statistics for a man with his relatively short career. He is a career .300 hitter, dipping below it only once in three years as the primary starter for the Twins. He bats left-handed though he throws right-handed. He was also a big part of the Twins recent playoff runs. He hasnt shown much power, hitting a career high 11 home runs last year.
What Pierzynski is becoming known for is a trait that is nicely entitled brutal honesty. He enjoys talking, both when behind the plate and in the clubhouse. Though hes not considered a clubhouse cancer like Gary Sheffield or Manny Ramirez, he can make some inflammatory comments and often can earn the ire of an opposing team, as he did against Oakland in the playoffs in 2002.
Pierzynski is an arbitration eligible player, and should get at least $2 million in arbitration, and possibly as much as $4.
PTBNL or Cash
The Giants will receive a player to be named later from the Twins minor league system or cash, which the Giants will choose from in the near future.
WHAT THE TWINS GOT:
Joe Nathan, RHP, 28 years old
Joe Nathan is a former starting pitcher prospect who made his biggest impact in the majors by becoming a reliever. After having shoulder surgery in 2000, he had a rough year in the minors starting in 2002, averaging less than 5 IP per start and finishing the minor league season with a 6-12 record and a 5.60 ERA. However, he had a strong September call up working as a reliever in the bigs, and started 2003 as a middle reliever. That took him to a strong 2.96 ERA and a 12-4 record, the winningest reliever in the bigs.
Nathan is a power pitcher with three legitimate pitches. San Diego G.M. Kevin Towers said that Joe Nathan had closer-type stuff after facing him in 2003. Nathan also has good control, keeping a 2.52 K/BB ratio, and averages over a strikeout an inning. As a reliever, he became a flyball pitcher, and got nearly two times as many fly balls as ground balls last year.
Nathan is an arbitration eligible player, and may get close to a million this year.
Boof Bonser, RHP, 22 years old
Boof Bonser was the Giants first round pick in 2000, but has suffered a slow ascent up the Minor League ladder, often taking a while to adjust to each new level. In this years Arizona Fall League, Bonser had a 6.16 ERA and a 2-4 record. He is still considered a top prospect and has all the tools to succeed.
Francisco Liriano, LHP, 20 years old
Francisco Liriano is considered a prospect with a high ceiling, being one of those rare combinations of being a left hander and a power thrower, but his professional career has been spent mostly on the floor, or at least in the trainers room, riddled with injury. His 2002 season ended in July, and he pitched only once in San Jose before missing all but the final three weeks of the season in 2003. If his health holds, hes got the ability to be a very good pitcher, but when it comes to pitchers, health is always an issue.
With Boof Bonser having gotten the label of being a headcase and having a slow transition between levels, and Francisco Liriano being a high risk/high reward type of an injured prospect, this trade may be a trademark Sabean trade, giving away pitching prospects who will have negligible impact on the majors.
The key for the Minnesota Twins was Joe Nathan. Nathan earned his time in the San Francisco bullpen, and threw well for most of the year, despite being one of several players to suffer uncharacteristic meltdowns in the playoffs for the Giants. Many teams look at him as a possible closer, and certainly the money setup man who can throw a perfect eighth inning. For the Twins, he makes the loss of either closer Eddie Guardado or setup man Latroy Hawkins easier to take. Playing in a smaller stadium and on turf may hurt his numbers, though. For the Giants, their bullpen has two solid setup men who could battle for the role in Felix Rodriguez and Matt Herges. Though Nathan was seen as a possible successor to Closer Robb Nen, the quick rise of minor leaguer David Aardsma and the acquisition of Herges, who nearly beat out Cy Young winner Eric Gagne for the Dodger closing job two years ago, makes that something Giant fans likely wont have to worry about.
The more intriguing aspect of the trade is how Pierzynski fits in with the Giants. The Giants have much more obvious holes at first base, right field and also at shortstop, and the Giants also had a young player who seemed ready to step into the starting role in Yorvit Torrealba, who is a lesser offensive player but could be the best defensive catcher in the major leagues. With Alberto Castillo also resigned, the Giants have three catchers on their roster. With catcher being the thinnest position in the majors, and several teams very willing to trade for a major league catcher, another move may be in the future, Two likely candidates are the Brewers (for Richie Sexson) and the Padres (for Ryan Klesko), who both have openly said they need a catcher, and are interested in trading big name players for one.
If Pierzynski stays with the Giants, his high average could land him in the 2nd spot of the order, which was settled into by J.T. Snow last year. However, his propensity to hit doubles may not be a good thing to have in front of Bonds (open first with runner on second: automatic walk), and he could also slide into the sixth spot, getting a number of RBI chances.
Despite the fact this trade seems to address a hole the Giants didnt have, its a fair trade for an All Star catcher, and those numbers dont hurt. It also gives the Giants a lot of flexibility and leverage on the trade market, and may make them the team that wins one of the many trade sweepstakes going on in the majors right now.
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