Ricky Ledee has become fairly well traveled in his major league career since breaking through with the Yankee's World Series champion teams in 1998 and 1999. He was very highly thought of as a Yankee prospect, but was traded twice in 200, first to Cleveland and then to Texas. His promising numbers took a dip, and he began to get less and less playing time. He joined Philadelphia through free agency in 2002, and his numbers began to climb back up. As he fought for playing time with highly touted prospect Marlon Byrd, he peaked this year, with a .285/.393/.512 line before being traded from Philadelphia to San Francisco.
Ledee has best been used in the past against right handed pitching, getting almost no playing time against southpaws. However, this year, in his very limited time against left handers, he's batting better (.333/.467/.667) in those 12 at bats than he has in 111 at bats against right handers (.279/.389/.495). He is a talented fielder with some speed, though he does not often use it on the basepaths. He can field any position at an above average level.
Ledee has also been noticed for being a great guy to have in the clubhouse. In 2003, while ‘battling' rookie Byrd for playing time, Ledee was noticed going out of his way to help Byrd as he got off to a slow start. Ledee is not the type of player who causes problems when he isn't getting playing time, though he usually earns it.
Ledee is a free agent at the end of the year.
Alfredo Simon, 23, Right Handed Pitcher
Alfredo Simon was one of many latin players who signed under someone else's identity to appear younger and more appealing. However, despite having been 23 months older than he was thought to be, Simon's performance has helped his former team and likely his new team overlook the deception. Simon has been pitching in the Phillies system since 2000, and had posted a minor league career ERA of 3.40 over 4 years coming into this year, and matched that with a 3.44 ERA over 20 games this year, which has already exceeded his previous high in inning workload by 25%. He has 105 K's and 37 BB in 125.2 innings pitched.
Simon has been compared quite a bit to Giants top prospect Merkin Valdez, one of the most sought after names by sellers at the trade deadline. Like Valdez, Simon is tall and lanky, at 6'4 and 215 pounds, and he features a fastball that already hits the mid-nineties. What the Phillies were focusing on was his mechanics, and one expected benefit of that would be him pushing his fastball even higher. Simon also has a slider and changeup, but his delivery is so different on them that opposing batters use it to key on what they're getting. The Phillies were working on that, and it will likely be the Giants top priority with him. Simon also has had some issues with his temper, but that has calmed down as he has matured.
There had been considerations to turn Simon into a reliever, much like what has happened to Merkin Valdez, but Simon proved his ability as a starter just before his trade. The Thursday night before the trade deadline, Simon threw his 3rd consecutive complete game, and it was the first of the three where he had allowed runs (2 total, 1 earned). Simon had pitched extraordinarily in July, going 3-0 in 5 starts with a 1.42 ERA in 38 innings, while striking out 25 batters and walking only 8.
Simon's future, for now, still lies as a starter, though a move to the bullpen is not unlikely. The key for him is to get a consistent delivery with his slider and changeup. If he can accomplish that, his ceiling will be very high. He is expected to report to Class-A Advanced San Jose for the Giants.
WHAT THE GIANTS GAVE UP:
Felix Rodriguez, 31, Right Handed Pitcher (Relief)
Felix Rodriguez's stormy tenure with the Giants ended with the deadline trade to Philadelphia. F-Rod, as he was known, had been a fixture in the Giants bullpen since arriving in 1999, and he quickly teamed up with closer Rob Nen to form one of the most dominating setup-closer teams in the majors. A 2.65 ERA with 95 K's in 81.2 innings in 2000, followed by a 1.68 ERA with 91 K's in 80.1 innings in 2001 seemed to announce him to be a closer of the future, but he suffered through a rocky 2002 in which batters appeared to adjust to him. 2002 culminated in giving up the home run that cost the Giants what would have been the clinching victory in Game 6 of the World Series. Though Rodriguez rebounded with a 3.10 ERA in 2003, many San Franciscans never forgave him for being the Giants own personal Bill Buckner.
F-Rod features a quality 97 MPH fastball with minimal movement that can overpower many hitters. He has, at various times in his career, claimed to have also had a slider or a changeup or some other offspeed pitch, but it is rarely seen and even more rarely effective. Rodriguez's fastball is often enough for him if he can locate it, but when he can't, he usually gets into trouble. He also needs to regain confidence in throwing inside, something he lost in 2002 after hitting 4 batters with pitches. The flashes he has shown when he will throw inside are a marked difference to when he tries to nibble on the outside corner.
Rodriguez is in the final years signed before 2002. He picked up a player option for $3,050,000, and has another one for $3,150,000 for 2005. He also has a team option for $5 million, and would earn a raise if he becomes a closer, a possibility in Philadelphia with Billy Wagner injured.
It's easy to see why this trade was made, without looking at the outside implications. Every team the Giants called seemed to be inquiring about Merkin Valdez, and instead, the Giants picked up a prospect comparable to him, just a year behind. Plus, they received a quality backup outfielder, something the team has lacked for much of the year. The trade enabled several possibilities, including turning Simon around in a trade or perhaps keeping him and making one of the other ‘untouchable' prospects expendable. Plus, the Giants saved about a million dollars this year and got rid of a rather large contract for a now-hittable reliever, with F-Rod unlikely not to take his $3.15M option.
Unfortunately, no other moves were made, which makes this trade perplexing. On the surface, it's a veritable steal for the Giants, but no matter the history the Giants have had with F-Rod, the bullpen was the most glaring weakness the team had going into the deadline, and they essentially subtracted one of their most reliable pieces from it without making any other additions or adjustments, and went into the day after the deadline actually a man short in the bullpen.
Simon may make this trade worthwhile in the future, but one has to question the effect of the trade on the 2004 season, weakening the team's major weakness. The Giants undoubtedly needed an extra outfielder to spell a tiring Marquis Grissom in center field, especially with Dustan Mohr playing with an injury. The question is, how will an ever tiring bullpen react to losing its most steady producer?
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