SF Giants: Why Andres Torres Makes Aaron Rowand's Contract Look Ugly

Andy BenschSenior Writer IJuly 29, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - JUNE 17:  Andres Torres #59 of the San Francisco Giants bats against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at AT&T Park on June 17, 2009 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

With Aaron Rowand currently limited to pinch-hit duty due to an injury to his throwing arm, it may in fact be time to rejoice for Giants fans.  Rowand, the Giants' everyday centerfielder, is now one-for-his-last-22 at the plate while racking up six strikeouts and zero walks.

Not exactly the production teams look for from their leadoff hitter.  However, some fans will look at his stat line and say that Rowand is a quality hitter in the leadoff spot.  To be fair, Rowand is hitting .294/.341/.468 as a leadoff hitter so far this season.  But a 17-game hitting streak in late May/early June has significantly raised those numbers to better than what the overall production has been.

Despite the quality line during 50 games at the leadoff spot, Rowand's numbers have decreased dramatically over the last month-and-a-half.  A couple days after the hitting streak ended, Rowand's season stat line was at .311/.376/.490.  But since that time,Rowand has hit just .203 (24-118) with just one more walk (4) than home runs (3) and an absurd 41 strikeouts.

The absolutely horrid stretch has dropped Rowand's numbers down to .276/.335/.440.  And the Giants are paying this guy 60 million dollars over five years?  Perhaps fans from around the league may think Rowand's season numbers aren't that bad, but when you see him play every day, you're almost guaranteed to see him strike out on a ball in the dirt in at least one of his at-bats.

Even if Rowand were to have a year with the Giants comparable to his last year in Philadelphia where he hit .309/.374/.515 with 27 HR and 89 RBI, you could argue that $60 million over five years is still too much money.  Now perhaps those numbers could be worth the dough, but that is besides the point because Rowand will never come close to those numbers while playing 81 games at AT&T Park.  It is truly a shame that Giants GM Brian Sabean expected Rowand to put up his Philadelphia numbers in San Francisco.  Has Sabean not yet realized that Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia has nearly surpassed Coors Field as the best hitter's park in baseball?

Now it goes unchallenged that Aaron Rowand is a great guy in the clubhouse and is an absolute "gamer" on the field.  Every baseball fan has seen the famous clip of Rowand crashing into the outfield wall in Philadelphia and making the catch while breaking his nose.  It is those kind of plays that have made Rowand a recipient of the Gold Glove Award.

However, is being a good clubhouse guy and a solid defensive center fielder enough to be an everyday player?  Rowand may have won a gold glove, but you would be kidding yourselves if you were to put him amongst the elite center fielders in the game today. Rowand has an extremely inaccurate arm (I have yet to remember him throwing out a runner at home in his time with the Giants) and his range is extremely limited in center-field.

The range issue is what brings me to the phenomenon that is Andres Torres.  If Torres were to play a full season, there is no doubt that he could win a gold glove.  Torres doesn't take a single pitch off and is backing up his fellow outfielders like a madman.  The guy has track star speed, as Giants broadcasters Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper pointed out, he should "have a baton in his hands."

Torres may not wow you with his offensive numbers: .253/.340/.494 in just 83 at-bats.  However, as of now, Torres has a higher on-base percentage and slugging percentage thanRowand on the season.  The journeyman centerfielder has walked in 10 percent of plate appearances while Rowand has walked in just six percent of his plate appearances.  Therefore, it no surprise why Torres has a better on-base percentage.
Now it is unclear whether or not Torres's offensive numbers can hold up over the length of an entire season because he is already 31 and barely cracked big league rosters throughout his career.

However, as a centerfielder hitting leadoff, Torres brings much more to the table than Rowand, and for much less money.  Rowand is making $12 million this season while Torres is making $400,000.

Yet Torres has a better arm, more range, steals more bases, compiled a better on base percentage and a better slugging percentage.  Granted, these numbers are just over one season, but it just shows how overpaid Rowand is with a career journeyman being able to offer more skills as a centerfielder.

Torres is probably not the long term answer in centerfield for the Giants, but if Rowand plays out his entire five-year deal in San Francisco, I may just go bald from pulling every single strand of hair off my head.