Monday, December 28, 2009

Giants 3b/1b, Morrow, Gardner

The San Francisco Giants are apparently on the verge of signing free agent Mark DeRosa to a two year deal.  If it happens, the most interesting impact of this transaction won't be so much what happens to DeRosa's projected performance (AT&T Park has averaged a -7% park effect on home runs for right handed hitters the past few years) but how it affects Pablo Sandoval's long-term future at third base.

If DeRosa signs with the Giants, it looks like the 23-year-old Sandoval and his .330 average of a year ago will move over to first base to make room for DeRosa at third, a move that is often permanent once a player of any age makes it.  So, those who care about positional qualifications for a fantasy league, for example, may be looking at Sandoval losing that third base qualification by 2011, depending on how this all plays out in the coming days.

On a related note, I should mention that our latest edition of the forecasts listed Ryan Garko as being with San Francisco but actually this is no longer the case and will be changed in the next update.  Garko was non-tendered by the Giants earlier this month, making him a free agent.  I believe he'll be challenged to get as much playing time elsewhere as he would have had with San Francisco and we will be downgrading him appropriately, to just under 300 at bats unless he finds a team who needs a full-time first baseman.

In other news, Brandon Morrow's move to Toronto should really help him as he moves from a team that heads into 2010 with a locked-in closer and a relatively strong rotation to a team that is starving for pitching of any sort.  It doesn't look like Morrow's going to unseat the still uncertain combination of Jason Frasor / Scott Downs as the two-headed closer.  Rather, he'll likely be asked to stablizing an otherwise entirely unproven starting rotation.  It's not impossible that Morrow even ends up as Toronto's Opening Day starter.  As a full-time member of the rotation, I'd be forecasting an ERA around 4.00 with around 10 wins here and maybe 26-27 starts, accounting for the risk associated with a young pitcher who's never exceeded 70 innings in a big league season.

One other item of interest the past couple of days has been that Brett Gardner is rumored to be getting increased consideration as a full-time player for the Yankees, this if nothing new on the free agent or trade market pans out to replace Melky Cabrera.  I mentioned it last week in this space but if this proves to be the case, Gardner will end up forecasted to be a 40-50 stolen base type and to be more specific on the other details, think around a .260 average, 90+ runs scored and very few RBI opportunities, maybe 40 or so.  Working against Brett Gardner ever becoming the Yankees' complete answer to Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury is that he's actually almost precisely the same age and strikes out much more than Ellsbury.  Still, it's pretty hard to overlook a player who has already stolen 39 bases in the majors while being caught a grand total of 6 times (an 87% success rate so far), this in less than about two thirds of a full season's worth of playing time.