Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Get Erick Aybar to SF!

It's been a long time...

I've been interested in Erick Aybar for a long while now.  And I still want Aybar in the Orange & Black. I was the first to bring him up on Andrew Baggarly’s blog, Extra Baggs and on KNBR with Marty Lurie.  I believe he should be our #1 target acquisition this off-season.  I see more and more ways of doing this, how does this look to you?

SF Giants trade:
LHP Barry Zito ($39M + $7M buyout = $46M over 2-years)
LHP Jonathan Sanchez
3B  Conor Gillaspie

Since the Angels cut Scott Kazmir, they have no starting LHP in their rotation.  They also have virtually all RHP starter prospects in their farm system.  Zito could be a LOOGY (Lefty-One-Out-Guy) or long relief.  I imagine a rotation of: Weaver, Haren, Santana, Sanchez, Pinero/Chatwood should easily outperform  the rest of the AL West.  J. Sanchez even has a better 2011 ERA (4.26) than 3 of their starters used this year (Pinero 5.33, Chatwood 4.59, and Richards 8.22).  I won’t even be cruel and include Kazmir’s 1.2 inning 2011 season ERA of 27.00

The Angels had to make a splash after missing out on: Cliff Lee, Adrian Beltre and Carl Crawford, and they’ll be feeling this error for three more years (and $63M) if they can’t move him.  Why?  They will have premier rookie Mike Trout in LF, Peter Bourjos in CF, and Torii Hunter in RF.  That is an incredible outfield, I’d say a top-5 in all of baseball for 2012.  They’re effectively eating $21M/year unless an OF is injured.

Anaheim Angels trade:
SS Erick Aybar
LF Vernon Wells ($63M over 3-years)
+ $24M cash consideration to offset payroll

Aybar, I see tons of upside: speed, power, avg, OBP, OPS.  He’s also young, healthy, well below market value, solid or plus defense, a plus arm, and I absolutely believe he will grow into a premier shortstop in another year or two.  Maybe he can't have the Coors Field-inflated power numbers of Tulowitski, but he certainly could be in the same discussions as Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes for years to come.  I believe he could hit 35-40 2B, 10 3B, and 15 HR as a Giant and steal 30+ bases per season.  A lead-off and SS are two of the three major holes we’ll need to fill this off-season (other being CF).

Aybar isn’t even close to their only SS option in Anaheim.  Some thought Brandon Wood would win the job beginning 2011, he was (curiously) released and picked up by PIT.  They have Maicer Izturis ready right now to play SS (who plays a bit at 3B), their #2 prospect is SS Jean Segura who Scioscia wants to remain at  SS (not convert to 2B).  They even have another excellent SS prospect in switch-hitter Andrew Romine.

Left field we can have Wells and Belt platoon.  Huff and Pill platoon 1B.  After Huff is gone (in 2013) Belt and Pill could platoon if Belt doesn’t earn the job outright.  Schierholtz in RF.  Justin Christian or another (Tyler Graham or Francisco Peguero) take CF until Brown is ready, maybe mid or late 2012?

Aybar can also remain in our lineup long-term.  I don't see any other position player we might acquire have staying power into the future plans of our Gigantes.  Maybe by 2013 Joe Panik is 2B, Gary Brown in CF.  By 2013, if Brown leads-off, Aybar easily fits into the 2-hole vacated by Freddy Sanchez… Perfect!  Maybe by 2014, Posey is at 1B and Tommy Joseph (or Susac) is catching with Hector Sanchez the 2nd catcher.  Shortstop is the only position we could acquire a lead-off/#2 hitter and keep them in our long-term road map.  Not LF, not CF, nor anywhere else- unless Nate Schierholtz is basically released from RF.

I realize Wells isn’t Carlos Beltran or Michael Cuddyer or even Nick Swisher.  But if Belt, Huff, Pill, and Schierholtz have any sort of offensive numbers our lineup would look very strong.  Especially if right-handed Wells can add some much needed pop to our lineup.

We get production from Zito’s contract money (in Wells at LF), we likely can move Eric Surkamp or Justin Fitzgerald into the #5 starter role for 2012.  We trim the $6M-ish of J. Sanchez for 2012.  We get our starting SS of the future and lead-off hitter!  And we get a serious bat to deepen our lineup.  Sure, I get that Vernon Wells is slumping in 2011.  I'll take my chances with a right-handed bat that just might run into 30 home runs a year versus Zito sitting on a paycheck for two more years. That's my take on it, and I'm sticking to it.

Some of  the naysayers will naysay: "Nobody would want Zito, he's untradeable."  I beg to differ.  Consider that Vernon Wells had one of the most "untradeable" contracts in MLB and yet, the stealthy Blue Jays head honcho Alex Anthopoulos got it done.  How did he also get Napoli in that deal and keep him away from the Rays?  Seriously, how did he get Jose Bautista to sign for around $16.5M per?   He was also around when the Jays unloaded Alex Rios.  Is  A.A. up in the T-Dot a hypnotist or something?  Scary.

We have an incredibly high standard for pitchers here in San Francisco, as well we should.  Perrenially, we have just about the best pitching in baseball.  Not just starters, but bullpen, and closer too.  We might easily forget that most teams in baseball consider a 3.50 ERA "fantastic" and a #4 or #5 starter's ERA of 4.50 ERA to be "great".  Here with Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, and this year with Vogelsong, we say "phooey" to all that.

Here I give you, Seattle fans are asking for Zito in exchange for Chone Figgins.  They aren't contenders, you naysay?  Here, I give you exhibit 1B: maybe the Angels might actually WANT Zito.  If you can convince me they aren't contenders, come back and we'll talk further.

But wouldn't the Angels want to keep Aybar?  Don't the fans like his fantastic play and his team value?  It appears that even at the start of this season, there was little to no confidence in Aybar from Angels insiders.  They need a fifth starter, a lefty would serve them perfectly.  IMHO, J. Sanchez would be a perfect fit for Scioscia's leadership.  They are dumping money like it's going into an Orange County landfill with Vernon Wells.  They got depth like a scuba diver at shortstop.  It just works.

Why can we add Gillaspie to the trade?  He’ll have no place for us on the Giants.  Recognized as a below-average defenseman, if Sandoval ever moves to first, I’d bet Posey shifts to 3B.  If that doesn’t happen, Chris Dominguez is making a strong case he’d be in the wings waiting next in line.  The Angels appear thinner at 3B than other positions, with their prospects too.  They could look at Conor and maybe he’ll have a better chance at playing time.  It just works.

Heck, there MIGHT even be another factor in this trade.  If the large salary of Vernon Wells is shifted into something “productive” for the Halos (like a LHP starting pitcher), maybe, just maybe, the Angels become a top contender for Carlos Beltran as their DH and try to move the slipping Bobby Abreu (.254 avg, .720 OPS, 30 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 55 RBI in 562 PA this 2011 season) who has already vested his 2012 option.  Maybe they can ‘afford’ to pay him off, or trade him with a chunk of ‘cash consideration’ to offset his $9M 2012 salary.  Not sure they’d be willing to jump up in payroll enough, but they are looking like serious AL contenders from 2012 moving forward, so it could be possible.

Does anybody lose in this trade?  Methinks not.  I'm just sayin'...


Look, please don't get me started on another topic...  If we don't sign solid offense this off-season, we're going to lose our elite pitching staff rather quickly-like.  Yes, I know Lincecum's contract status, and I know that if he were to leave in a year or two (long story; but traded or walked...); I believe Anaheim would be his destination.  You read me right, not the NY Yankees, not the Boston Red Sox, and not  the Seattle Mariners.

You want to see an AL powerhouse to contend year after year with the 'Evil Empire' that is the Yankees?  Enter: Lincecum, Weaver, Haren, J. Sanchez, Chatwood/Santana.  Add Trout, Bourjos, Hunter, Kendrick, Trumbo, Kendry Morales, and Conger as serious bats. With a wicked DH like Beltran?  Oh dear, oh jebesus me.  Yeah, the Angels would pay-at-all-costs if Lincecum hit the market.  And, I think they'd get him.

Maybe the Angels would need a closer to really be a powerhouse; if young, hard-throwing (he's hit 102 mph) Jordan Walden doesn't continue to improve?  Oh, again, think of the Giants as Angels Farm North.  I think Brian Wilson will become available when his salary skies over $12.5M/year in a couple years, and Sergio Romo or Heath Hembree could take over.

Sincere thanks for your visit here.  Cheers.

Image credit: Erick Aybar from ALDS Game 2, 2010 from Boston.com.

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