Trying to dispell some myths about Aaron Rowand


The Associated Press

MoreSplashHits decided it was about time a Giants blogger gave Aaron Rowand a hug. He’s earned one.

Rowand has been the target of all sorts of rants from many folks who call themselves part of the Giants faithful. He’s even been booed by fans at AT&T Park … in a PRESEASON GAME for crying out loud!!

MoreSplashHits decided we should dispell some of the myth that have been passed around as facts by some Rowand-haters.

MYTH: Rowand has been terrible from the day he arrived in San Francisco.

TRUTH: Rowand was not terrible in his first two season with the Giants. He was an average player, maybe slightly below average. In 2008 and 2009, Rowand averaged 14 HRs, 67 RBI, .266 AVG. He had an average offensive winning percentage (the winning percentage a team of nine Aaron Rowands might expect to have with average pitching and defense) of .471 in those two years. That may not sound like much. But consider that the Giants team OWP in 2010 was .486.

But what drove Giants fans nuts is that’s not the production they expected to get when the Giants signed Rowand for $12 million a year. It also didn’t match his OWP of .638 he had with the Phillies in 2007 (but it was better than the OWPs of .459 and .437 he posted in 2005 and 2006).

And, of course, his OWP of .336 in 2010 was completely awful. However, if Rowand can return to his 2008 and 2009 production, he could be a servicable No. 8 hitter in the lineup or fourth outfielder.

MYTH: Rowand won’t play anywhere but center field

TRUTH: Rowand will play anywhere Bruce Bochy tells him to play.

This myth grew out of story during spring training when Rowand wasn’t happy talking about playing other outfield positions than center. Big surprise! He’s played CF his entire career. Here’s another surprise! Ready? He’s not happy about being a bench player. But that’s exactly what he’s become. Still, Rowand has been a professional and stayed ready to contribute when counted on. And what we have seen so far this season, Rowand in left field, Rowand in right field.

MYTH: Nate Schierholtz is clearly a better player than Aaron Rowand.

TRUTH: They’re really about the same player. In fact, Rowand may be a bit better.

Over the past three seasons, Rowand has had a wins over replacement player of 0.9, 1.0 and -0.2.

Schierholtz over the the last three seasons were 0.2, 0.0, -0.4.

In other words, Schierholtz plays like a replacement player.

Schierholtz’s offensive win percentage was .444 in 2009 and .400 in 2010.

In short, Schiertholtz has been given a chance to show what he can do as a big leaguer. And what we’ve learned it that he’s a really good fielder, but he has little power as a hitter and doesn’t hit for a high enough average to offset his lack of power.

MYTH: Rowand’s salary shouldn’t be factor when trying to decide the best 25 players for the roster.

TRUTH: What world do people who think this live in? Do they have mortgages? Jobs? Would these people, after buying a car that turned out to be a lemon and drained  their wallets with repair, simply decide to send that car to the junkyard even though it still runs and they still had two years of payments to make on it? The Giants are going to keep Rowand because of salary, because that’s the smart thing to do.

MYTH: The Giants should just cut their losses and release Rowand, similar to what the Cubs did with Carlos Silva or the Mets did with Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.

TRUTH: Silva had one year left on his contract for $11.5 million. Perez had one year left at $10 million. Castillo had one year left at $6 million. Rowand has two years left at $24 million. Do the math. It’s not the same. The best move for the Giants is to keep Rowand, hopes he turns it around and become productive enough to attract trade partners after this season, even if that means trading bad contract for bad contract. That’s what the Mets and Cubs did. And when it didn’t work out, they cut the players lose with a year to go on their contracts. The Giants may follow a similar path next season, but not this season.

THE BOTTOM LINE: MoreSplashHits is rooting for Aaron Rowand, just as every Giants fan should be doing. The better Rowand plays, the better it is for the Giants.

MoreSplashHits was actually hoping that the Cardinals would walk Freddy Sanchez in the 12th inning on Friday in hopes it would provide Rowand a chance to be the hero and quiet all those Rowand-haters.

Rowand’s had a nice approach at the plate this season. He isn’t trying to do too much, hitting to all fields. He’s 6 for 10 with five singles and a home runs (although Friday’s 12th-inning single would have been a three-run double if it didn’t end the game).

All three of his at-bats Friday were solid at-bats. He had a two-out single to center in the ninth that started the Giants game-tying rally. He had a sharply hit grounder to third that would have won the game in the 11th if not for a nice play by Allen Craig, an outfielder playing third base in Tony LaRussa’s five-infielder alignment. And then there was his game-winner.

Hey Bochy! Let’s give Aaron Rowand a start Saturday night against the Cardinals!

Think about it. It’s makes sense.

The Cardinals are starting a tough lefty in Jaime Garcia, who shut out the Giants on three hits last August.

So start the right-handed Rowand in right field, move Aubrey Huff to first base and give left-handed hitting Brandon Belt a day off to regroup and recharge. Plus, Huff can use a breather at first base with a day game on Sunday.

So what do you say, Boch? Give Rowand a start. He’s earned it.


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