Cody Ross in San Francisco: Nihilism?

One of Friedrich Nietzsche’s many frequently quoted lines comes from a posthumously published notebook: “Nihilism stands at the door: whence comes this uncanniest of all guests?” Whatever one makes of this in relation to Nietzsche’s thoughts on modernity, etc., the occasional gloss on the translation of “uncanniest” as “most unwelcome” brings to mind nothing more (for me, at least) than the Giants acquisition of Cody Ross from the Marlins via waivers, an acquisition which might understandably lead some to begin speculating that former Nationals and Reds GM and legendary outfielderophile Jim Bowden is working as a consultant for San Francisco GM Brian Sabean.

It has been speculated that the Giants put a claim in on Ross to prevent divisional rival San Diego from filling their own need at center field in the wake of Tony Gwynn, Jr.‘s injury. However, as Rob Neyer rightly points out, the Giants are far enough behind the Padres at this point in the season that they should be less focused on the division than on the wildcard. Moreover, with Andres Torres taking the bulk of Aaron Rowand‘s playing time in center field away, Pat Burrell filling the Mark DeRosa-sized hole in left field, and Jose Guillen coming over from the Royals in a waiver trade, the Giants seem to have really put themselves in a playing-time bind. This is particularly so because other than Torres (the only clearly good player of the bunch), all of the above-mentioned outfielders hit right-handed, which makes getting some sort of platoon system out of all these players problematic.

It isn’t clear at the moment exactly how the Giants intend to deal with the playing time situation. Still, although the move is initially puzzling, it is defensible. In purely monetary terms, Ross will cost them about a million dollars over the remainder of the season, but that isn’t too much given that the Giants are still in the running for the playoffs and the marginal value of a win is higher than usual for them.

While Andres Torres has shown that he should be getting all the starts he can handle in center (I’ll leave aside the disastrous Aaron Rowand situation for the sake of space), there’s plenty of room for Ross to play on the corners. They are currently manned by Pat Burrell and Jose Guillen, two players DFAed by the Rays and Royals, respectively, earlier this season. Burrell has hit well (.380 wOBA) in his 220 PA with the Giants, but FanGraphs readers should know by now that simply looking at a player’s current-season statistics isn’t a wise way to project future performance. ZiPS Rest-of-Season projection sees Burrell as a .350 wOBA hitter for the rest of 2010. Jose Guillen started the season with a bit of a bounceback in Kansas City, but to the surprise of almost no one, receded into mediocrity, and is projected for a .327 wOBA by ZiPS for the remainder of 2010. Ross, on the other hand, despite having a down (.319 wOBA) year in 2010, is younger and coming off of two decent seasons in 2008 and 2009, and ZiPS sees him as a .340 wOBA hitter going forward.

Even if one doesn’t think Ross offers much offensively, few would doubt that Ross might get to a few more balls in the outfield than the other two. Burrell and Guillen were primarily DHs in their recent time it the AL, while Ross spent more time in center than right, which should tell us something about what their respective teams thought of their defensive abilities. The statistics support this, and my projections have Ross as about 15 runs better in the field over either Burrell or Guillen over a full season, which at least makes up the offensive difference between Ross and Burrell, and making Ross the clear choice over Guillen.

One remaining factor in all this is that Ross is still eligible for arbitration for 2011 if the Giants want to keep him around. Whether or not he would be worth his likely arbitration number is open to question (even with the thin 2011 class of free agent outfielders), of course, but it’s worth noting. In any case, despite the Giants; uncanny scouring of the waiver wire for outfielders, it seems that the acquisition of Ross gives them more than nothing.



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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.


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DonCoburleone
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DonCoburleone
5 years 10 months ago

There has to be something happening soon regarding this shituation. I say there are really only 2 options for Sabean: 1) Just cut Guillen now cuz you’ve just upgraded his spot on the roster w/ Ross or 2) Find a reason………. uh, oops, i mean place Rowand on the DL with that “undisclosed injury” he’s been dealing with all season (wink – wink)…

Joltin' Joe
Guest
5 years 10 months ago

Guillen’s been good with the bat thus far, but when he inevitably cools off, cut him, stick Ross in RF and now you have good defense in 2/3 of the outfield.

This move wouldn’t be criticized at all if Guillen wasn’t already on this team.

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
5 years 10 months ago

I’ll admit, I only read this because you used the word “nihilism” in the title.

Ogre39666
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Ogre39666
5 years 10 months ago

Same here.

Jamie
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Jamie
5 years 10 months ago

Another right-handed hitting outfielder does not kill the Giants playoff chances; it only makes them stronger.

BillWallace
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BillWallace
5 years 10 months ago

I see what you did there.

monkeyball
Guest
5 years 10 months ago

I mean, say what you like about the tenets of Brian Sabeanism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.

gnomez
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gnomez
5 years 1 month ago

Too much WIN in this comment to handle.

monkeyball
Guest
5 years 10 months ago

You want a right-handed hitting outfielder? I can get you a right-handed hitting outfielder, believe me. There are ways, Dude. You don’t wanna know about it, believe me.

3rd Period Points
Guest
3rd Period Points
5 years 10 months ago

Obviously, you’re not an outfielder.

wily mo
Guest
5 years 10 months ago

with nail polish

EricR
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EricR
5 years 10 months ago

I can guarantee they will use Ross in the least ideal way possible. It would make sense to platoon Ross with Guillen/Burrell, but I guarantee he will somehow take playing time away from Torres. Giants are fully enamored with Guillen (more dingerz than Torres), to the point of apologizing for him whenever his lack of speed is apparent and hurts us. “Well you gotta understand he’s dealing with a bum set of wheels right now, but if he was healthy, watch out!” Kruk says this at least 3 times per Giants broadcast now.

Bruce Bochy is a man who still plays Rowand in center when he and Torres are both in the lineup, and when Rowand plays but Torres doesn’t, Bochy also bats Rowand leadoff!! Yes, not only does Rowand occasionally replace Torres in CF, but also takes his spot in the batting order. The man who is batting .239/.291/.386. That guy. Lead off. He bat Rowand/Freddy Sanchez 1-2 yesterday. The two worst hitters on the team were in position to get the most at bats of any player.

So you heard it here, they will choose the worst possible platoon split. Torres will get more “rest”, and Guillen will be given every chance possible to fail. The Giants organization does not begin to comprehend having a batting order of max efficiency, let alone platooning guys.

Squirrelmetrix
Guest
5 years 10 months ago

I agree. It’s an embarrassment of riches but none of the Giant’s OF’s demand to be played everyday. Ross is good insurance. If they make the World Series, Burrell can be the DH.

I wonder why the Dodgers didn’t claim him if they still believe they are in it. Maybe it’s because GM Ned Colletti is so dumb that he believes his team has a chance and he doesn’t know which players will help his team come back

ElJimador
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ElJimador
5 years 10 months ago

I had this concern also, but it’s worth noting that vs. the Reds’ lefty Wood, Ross will get his first start tonight… in RF, replacing Guillen. Which is exactly where he should be.

Giants 162-0
Member
Giants 162-0
5 years 10 months ago

Can we put a hit on Rowand??? someone go Nancy Kerrigan on his ass please so we can save Boch from resting Torres and giving us a better chance to win… i mean i Love Rowand the guy, hate the production

Paapfly.com
Guest
Paapfly.com
5 years 10 months ago

I have to agree that the Giants will almost certainly use Ross in a way that doesn’t help the team in any way, period. I think DFA’ing Guillen would be a wonderful solution. But giving away RBI’s – as valuable as we’ve established they are – would make Sabean cringe. Having Torres try and cover left, center and right with Burrell and Guillen out there is downright criminal.

Brian Cartwright
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Brian Cartwright
5 years 10 months ago

I agree, just cut Guillen now and play Ross.

cookie rojas
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cookie rojas
5 years 10 months ago

it’s hard to imagine a more peculiar nietzsche reference.

hitler was also inspired by nietzsche quotes. but the murderous and maleveolent nazi was highly meticulous, and most likely would have spelled his name correctly.

meanwhile, the giants continue to plant popsicle sticks in the ground and hope they grow to be trees…

The_Beard
Member
The_Beard
5 years 10 months ago

“I’ll play RF for your team for a thousand dollars. Guillen can’t watch though, or he has to pay $100.”

“Uh, I’m just gonna go find a cash machine.”

Falco
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Falco
5 years 10 months ago

I’m not sure if I”m reading this article incorrectly, but are you saying they shouldn’t have signed Ross?

Fergie348
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Fergie348
5 years 10 months ago

It’s pretty simple when you look at some numbers. That’s what this site is about, right?

Player A: .267/.318/.406 wOBA .320 UZR/150 13.7
Player B: .239/.291/.386 wOBA .295 UZR/150 6.6

They both hit right handed. They can both play CF.

And Player A is 3 years younger than Player B. What would you do?

Well, I’d keep the former (who is more than a win better than the latter over a full season) as a reserve outfielder and DFA the latter.

Unfortunately, the Giants organization won’t recognize a sunk cost when they see it. DFA Rowand and keep Ross for 2 years as insurance against performance regression from Andres Torres and an extra player until the big outfield bats the G’s have coming through the system are ready to play on the big team.

Fergie348
Guest
Fergie348
5 years 10 months ago

I got one – Rowand has had an almost crippling case of Nocanthititis this year. We need to put him in traction, burn his bats and perform some sort of Voodoo ritual over his cleats to try to rid him of this dread disease. And of course he’ll have to go on the DL for at least 30 days..

Sophomore Sleeper
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Sophomore Sleeper
5 years 10 months ago

Klaassen,

Markham Mennos … Let’s make a deal.

I know Billy Butler will look nice next to all your other Royals in 2011. Talk to me.

Sof

Rbone
Guest
Rbone
5 years 8 months ago

For all the speculation, we can take away from this that somebody upstairs knew something we didn’t.

www.PaapFly.com
Guest
www.PaapFly.com
5 years 8 months ago

I guess this one worked out alright, after all!

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