Transaction Analysis – Randy Winn

The Giants traded yet another of those pitchers who were ‘untouchable' not too long ago, and picked up Randy Winn, a Seattle outfielder to try and make a run at the division this year. Is Winn an impact player? Are we going to regret trading Jesse Foppert? And why haven't the Giants gotten a pitcher, as everyone knows is San Francisco's big weakness?

WHO THE GIANTS GOT:

Randy Winn, 31, Outfielder
2005: 103 G, 386 AB, 46 R, 106 H, 25 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 37 RBI, 12 SB, .275 BA, .342 OBP, .391 SLG

Winn is a switch hitting outfielder who has seemingly been the subject of non-stop trade rumors since he was acquired by the Mariners in 2002 in the controversial trade for manager Lou Pinella. Winn is a slap hitter, primarily a number 1 or 2 hitter in the lineup with questionable patience and little power, although he’s been hurt by playing in the cavernous Safeco Field in Seattle.

Winn, who grew up in the Bay Area and went to college at Santa Clara University, is a career .283 hitter with some speed. He’s had more than 20 steals each season since 2002, when he had a career high of 27. He was scratched from Saturday’s game in apparent anticipation of the trade, which marked the first game he hasn’t played this season. Winn has managed double digits in home runs each of the last three years, hitting 14 in Tampa in 2002 and in Seattle last year. So far this year, he’s hitting .275/.342/.391 with 6 home runs.

Winn has played both center and left field. He’s a good athlete, but has not developed an ability to track fly balls and take good routes to catching them. He has an average throwing arm.

Winn is making $3.75 million this year, with the Giants on the hook for about $1.25M. He has both a player option and a club option for 2006. He’ll make $3.75 million if he picks up his player option, but if the Giants take the option, he’ll make $5 million.

WHO THE GIANTS TRADED:

Yorvit Torrealba, 27, Catcher
2005: 34 G, 93 AB, 18 R, 21 H, 8 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB, .226 BA, .301 OBP, .344 SLG

Torrealba has been passed over twice by the Giants when the starting job has come open, the first time in 2004 in favor of A.J. Pierzynski, when Benito Santiago’s contract ran out, and then in this offseason, when the Giants let Pierzynski go and signed Mike Matheny. Torrealba has been a career .251 hitter, but is going through his 2nd sub par year, hitting just .226.

Torrealba’s reputation has been built on his spectacular defense. He’s got a great arm and is spectacular defensively behind the plate, throwing out runners at all bases. He’s also and enthusiastic player, firing up the fans with his energetic play. Most people figured he would get a starting shot somewhere at some point, as he’d been the subject of trade rumors on and off for a while.

Torrealba will be in his 2nd year of arbitration in 2006, and will be a free agent after 2007.

Jesse Foppert, 25, Right Handed Pitcher
2005:
MLB: 0-0, 3 G, 2 GS, 10.1 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 HR, 13 BB, 6 SO, 5.23 ERA
AAA: 3-1, 10 G, 9 GS, 44.0 IP, 43 H, 25 R, 22 ER, 5 HR, 27 BB, 41 SO, 3.50 ERA
A: 1-0, 3 G, 3 GS, 8.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 HR, 6 BB, 9 SO, 2.08 ERA

Foppert, a product of the University of San Francisco, has been one of those elusive prospects that the Giants have touted for the last few years but has not performed well in the majors. Coming up midseason in 2003, he had a 5.03 ERA through 23 games before he had Tommy John surgery. He missed most of 2004 while recovering, and then had struggled through much of 2005, especially with some persistent blister problems on his throwing hand, and then spending most of a month on the DL with a neck strain. In 2005, he’s put up a 4.50 ERA in 10 games at AAA, and a 5.23 ERA in 3 games in the majors.

Foppert has often been touted as having a mid 90’s fastball, but he and the Giants came under heavy fire from fans when he never touched that in the majors. The sources of those rumors remain a spot of dispute, with excuses ranging from hot minor league radar guns to the injury that led to TJ surgery in 2003 having affected his throwing all that season.

WHAT IT ALL MEANS:

A bunch of confusion, for the most part.

Randy Winn is one of those players you never know about. He’s not an impact player, but he’s not a terrible one, either. He gets a lot of praise and abuse for conflicting reports, and no one really seems to be sure if he’s a good player or not. And the reports of his taking bad routes to balls and having a bad arm may be more distressing than they normally would be, considering how Giant fans have had to watch the disaster that has been Alex Sanchez in the outfield so far this season.

This also brings up some painful memories from last season, when general manager Brian Sabean’s only deadline deal was trading a pitcher, Feliz Rodriguez, for an outfielder, Rickey Ledee, and a prospect when the team clearly needed pitching, particularly bullpen pitching. This year, there hasn’t been a big need for another bat, while the staff has seemingly found new ways to blow each game. It’s a little early to worry about this, as the Giants have some time left before the deadline to address pitching.

It does, however, bring up an interesting point. Even if you count out Barry Bonds for 2005, the Giants now have Winn, Michael Tucker, Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom and Jason Ellison in the outfield, with Pedro Feliz also having primarily played as an outfielder much of the year since Edgardo Alfonzo has been the regular third baseman, and the currently DL-ed Sanchez in the wings. 6 outfielders plus another player who has been using the outfield as his only place to play brings up some issues with playing time.

It would seem to suggest another deal is coming, as the Giants have been watched closely by the Twins scouts lately, who need another outfielder after Torii Hunter’s injury this past week.

The loss of Torrealba isn’t a huge blow. The truth is that he was wilting as a backup, as he’s a player who thrives on more playing time. He deserved a chance to play somewhere else and earn a starting job. The Giants called up minor leaguer Yamid Haad, who had been picked up as a free agent in the offseason, and have prospect Justin Knoedler also waiting in the wings.

Foppert’s departure is more of an eyebrow raiser. Foppert is the third pitcher who had worn the ‘untouchable’ tag within the past year who has been traded this year. Foppert has never really been himself since his surgery (although some fans would joke he’s never ever been himself if you listened to the hype) and has had little semblance of control this season. Foppert has also furthered the reputation the Giants have had of having a terrible farm system that can’t produce major league players, and he may join such names as Salomon Torres, Ryan Vogelsong and Kurt Ainsworth who never even have approached their hype.

It also shows the Giants are abandoning what had been a bit of their strategy the past two years, which is taking risks on young pitchers by having several minor league options. That worked to a degree in 2004 with the emergences of pitchers like Noah Lowry and Brad Hennessey, but has led to a carousel of pitchers put into and taken out of the rotation all season long this year.

Overall, this trade can’t be judged clearly without seeing if there is another deal before the trade deadline. Winn probably won’t hurt, and may improve some of the offensive production. Although Winn isn’t a left handed hitter per se, he’s a better hitter against right handed pitching, something the Giants have said they needed. This trade does perhaps give the Giants the breathing room with their outfielders to move one of those guys (or Feliz, or Alfonzo) for pitching. But if the Giants don’t, then they’re left with their biggest hole unaddressed for the second straight deadline, and they have too many outfielders than they can use, none of who will make a difference if the pitching remains unaddressed.



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