Giants decide to add Winn despite their struggles

By Jim Callis

July 30, 2005

At 45-58 and in fourth place in the hapless National League West, the Giants don’t exactly fit the definition of a contender. But they acted like a buyer and not a seller on Saturday, trading Jesse Foppert and Yorvit Torrealba to the Mariners for Randy Winn.

Winn, 31, will become San Francisco’s regular center fielder, but he’s not a significant upgrade over incumbent Jason Ellison. Winn hits for a solid average but not with an abundance of power or walks. While he has good speed, he’s not a very effective basestealer. And while he has good range, he doesn’t take good routes on fly balls and is a below-average center fielder. His arm is mediocre. In 102 games this year, Winn has batted .275/.342/.391 with six homers, 37 RBIs and 12 steals (in 18 attempts). He’s making $3.75 million in 2005, the final guaranteed year of a two-year, $7.25 million contract. The Giants can trigger a $5 million option and Winn can exercise a $3.75 million player option for 2006; if neither elects to do so, he’ll become a free agent. Winn is a lifetime .283/.343/.408 hitter with 55 homers, 375 RBIs and 136 steals in 935 games.

Foppert, a 25-year-old righthander, ranked as baseball’s best pitching prospect after the 2002 season. But he blew out his elbow and required Tommy John surgery as a rookie with the Giants in 2003, and his stuff hasn’t come all the way back since. Before he got hurt, Foppert had a mid-90s fastball, a hard slider and a nasty splitter. Two years after the operation, his stuff isn’t nearly as crisp, though he has been clocked in the low 90s this year, and his command isn’t as sharp. If he can bounce back, it would be a coup for the Mariners. Foppert has spent much of 2005 at Triple-A Fresno, going 3-1, 4.50 in 10 games (nine starts). He has a 41-27 strikeout-walk ratio in 44 innings there, with opponents batting .250 with five homers against him. He has an 8-9, 5.00 record in 27 big league games (23 starts).

Torrealba, 27, should become the starting catcher for the Mariners, who lost Dan Wilson to a knee injury and traded slumping Miguel Olivo to the Padres on Saturday. Torrealba had established himself as one of the better backup catchers in the NL, though he has played more sparingly since the Giants signed Mike Matheny in the offseason. Torrealba has batted .226/.301/.344 with one homers and seven RBIs in 34 games this year. Though he won’t hit for much of an average, he has decent power and draws his share of walks. A solid defender, he has thrown out seven of 17 (41 percent) basestealers in 2005. He makes $715,000 and will be arbitration-eligible for the second time this offseason. He’s a career .251/.318/.393 hitter with 13 homers and 75 RBIs in 220 games.