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San Francisco Giants Notes
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The Giants called up Pat Burrell after five games at Fresno in which he went 5 for 14 with a homerun.  To make room, they designated Brandon Medders for assignment.

In fact, Medders has already been reported to have cleared waivers and been assigned to AAA Fresno, which is not particularly surprising given Medders’s 7.20 ERA so far this year and his recent minor arm problems.

I kind of wish the Giants had left Pat Burrell down at Fresno for the full two weeks.  I don’t think you learn much from 14 ABs.  Burrell was terrible for well over a year with Tampa, and getting him as many everyday ABs in Fresno as possible before you call him up wouldn’t be a bad thing.

In San Francisco, Burrell is expected to be mainly a bench player, although he will likely get a few starts right out of the gate to see if he can be the offensive shot in the arm the Giants need.  I’m not especially optimistic, although there’s still a chance that Burrell is simply a National League hitter who will get his stroke back in the Senior Circuit.  At his age, though, he may have already lost something he won’t get back.

I saw this article today which states that the Blue Jays completed the deal for former Giant Freddie Lewis for cash, possibly as little as $75,000 total.  Sure, the Giants had no room for Lewis, but not to take even a player to be named later seems like a mistake, if they received so little cash in return.

Lewis has an .862 OPS after 180 plate appearances as a Blue Jay in 2010.  Even if he doesn’t hit a lick the rest of the way, he was a tremendous bargain for the Jays if he only cost $75,000—remember the major league minimum is now over $400,000. 

The Jays would have had to pay a replacement level AAA outfielder (roughly .700 OPS) roughly that much to hold down Lewis’ roster space for two months.

Of late, you only hear about the players who have sudden jumps in performance when they go from the AL to the NL.  Lewis is proof that there are at least a few who have the big jump going the other way.  I still don’t have any reason to change my past opinion that the AL is the better of the two leagues, but they are close enough that there are going to be players whose skills better suit the style of play in one league than the other.

This last item doesn’t really have anything to do with the Giants, except that I argued all of last Winter that the Giants should sign the player in question because the Giants needed a right-handed hitting power bat, and he was cheap and originally from Sonoma County. 

Mlbtraderumors.com reports that the Reds have a 2011 option on Jonny Gomes for $1.75 million, which looks like a tremendous bargain considering his .885 OPS after 175 plate appearances entering tonight’s game.  His 2010 so far OPS is awfully close to his 2009 OPS of .879, so there’s reason to think it isn’t a fluke, at least compared to Freddie Lewis.

Small market teams absolutely need to take advantage of market conditions to make deals like these.  This past offseason was so bad for players that even after a fine 2009, Gomes couldn’t get a major league contract out of the Reds (or any of the other 29 major league teams) to bring him back. 

The 2011 option comes with a $50,000 buy-out if Gomes gets 200 plate appearances, escalating by $50K for each 50 additional plate appearances, up to $200K for 350 plate appearances (thanks, cot’s baseball contracts!).

Well, those are just absolutely fantastic terms for the Reds.  Gomes isn’t going to get 350 plate appearances this year unless he continues to play reasonably well, and even then the Reds can tender only $200,000 to get out from under a very reasonable $1.75 million contract.  I can’t see a downside for the Reds.

I don’t really see Gomes as more than a 350 plate appear a year platoon player, but at that price, he’s good one, at least through the end of 2011.  A team like the Reds needs to find it’s low-cost bargains where it can, and they appear to have found one.

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