Transaction Analysis – The Michael Tucker Trade

Another veteran gone: Michael Tucker finds himself the latest victim of the Giants' facelift. Tucker goes to the Phillies, along with a small cash amount, for a low level minor leaguer. What does this mean for the Giants?

Who The Giants Got:

Kelvin Pichardo, RHP, 19 years old
2004 – GCL (Rookie): 5-5, 2.79 ERA, 12 G, 11 GS, 58.0 IP, 41 H, 21 R, 18 ER, 5 HR, 15 BB, 62 SO
2005 – GCL (Rookie): 3-2, 4.17 ERA, 10 G, 9 GS, 54.0 IP, 59 H, 28 R, 25 ER, 4 HR, 3 BB, 37 SO

Not much can be found about Pichardo. He was signed by the Phillies as an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2003, and played in the Dominican League there before debuting on the Phillies rookie league team in 2004. He reportedly has a strong arm and has done well so far in his young career. However, while he has lowered his walk rate this year, his second in rookie ball, his strikeout rate has also dropped significantly and he’s given up many more hits.

Pichardo, while talented, is quite a bit of an unknown commodity and could become a breakout star or a small bust. One thing is for sure; he won’t have an impact on the major league team for a few years at the earliest. He will most likely be assigned to the Giants’ rookie league team in the Arizona Rookie League.

Who The Giants Gave Up:

Michael Tucker, OF, 34 years old
2005 – SFG (NL) – 104 G, 250 AB, 32 R, 60 H, 16 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 33 RBI, 28 BB, 48 SO, 4-4 SB, .240/.317/.372

$50,000 in cash

Tucker was a symbol of Sabean’s growing futility for many Giant fans. His very signing was a point of criticism, when Sabean intentionally signed Tucker hours before the arbitration deadline to intentionally sacrifice a first round draft pick. He was also the player most people associated as the consolation prize for not pursuing Vladimir Guerrero.

Tucker, for what it was worth, executed himself fairly well as a Giant. Working primarily as a starter in 2004, he hit .256/.353/412. What he was not was an impact player behind Bonds, something many fans wanted, and the starting job was given to Moises Alou for 2005. Despite having all three expected outfield starters miss significant time this season, Tucker found his playing time cut into by the emergence of Jason Ellison and Todd Linden, and Pedro Feliz playing mostly fulltime in left for Bonds.

He still had a role on the team as a pinch hitter, batting .357 in 28 at bats in a pinch hit role. He had two big game winning grand slams in April against Colorado. But his role was growing smaller as the season wore on, and more playing time was demanded for the younger players.

On the Phillies, Tucker will likely continue with a bench role, making use of his versatility and ability to play all three outfield spots and bat left handed.

Tucker is making $2 million this season, with about $350,000 left. The Giants included the cash to offset the remaining salary.

What It All Means:

Simply, the Giants are taking another step in getting younger. Tucker was one of many veterans who were underperforming, and in the meantime, young promising Jason Ellison was squeezed out of the outfield and Todd Linden wasn’t getting a chance to start fulltime when Moises Alou came back.

That’s the main gist of it. Pichardo is many years off from making an impact, and the $50K is a drop in the bucket. Pichardo actually could turn out to be a solid prospect, with good stats in rookie ball, but that’s hardly what this trade was about.

In the end, it’ll mean more time for Linden starting, and Ellison comes up from Fresno (though he was going to in September anyways). It also frees up a spot on the 40 man roster, which will allow another player from the minors to get a September callup. The other possible effect is that if/when Tucker left as a free agent, the Giants won’t get a chance at any compensation picks, although that was unlikely anyways, and Pichardo is the net effect of a draft pick anyways.

More than anything, you’ll like this trade if you think it’s a good idea for the Giants to get younger and give the kids a chance, and you probably won’t like it if you think it’s a white flag on the season, though it isn’t. The way Linden has hit since his callup, this may help the team’s slumping offensive production. Linden hasn’t overwhelmed, but he’s only gone 2 games out of 12 since his call-up without getting a hit.

In the meantime, if you’re going to a Giants game anytime soon, it might behoove you to print out the latest Giants roster. Without the names on the back of their jerseys, it might be hard to know who is whom.

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