Aoki signing a solid low-risk move
|Giants introduce Aoki Tuesday|
No, it wasn't a big splash for Justin Upton, Yasmany Tomas or Ben Zobrist (who were all linked to the Giants at some point this offseason) but the Giants got themselves a player who's skill-set should translate well at AT&T Park. He may homer just a handful of times in 2015, but with his speed and contact ability, a 20-triple season may not be out of the question. He gets on base at an above-average clip, puts the ball in play with frequency and is lightening quick on the base-paths. He'll bring some versatility to the lineup as well, as can hit both atop the order or at the bottom. He gives Bochy a legit leadoff option on days Angel Pagan can't go and would be a fine 2-hole hitter if Joe Panik has some sophomore slumping in 2015. I kind of like the idea of having the speedsters 1-2 in the order but that stuff will all play itself out through spring training and the beginning of the year. He does have a higher OBP than Pagan the last few years too so he may end up in the leadoff spot with Pagan maybe moving down to third. Then there's the defensive flexibility with Aoki as well in the outfield where he's more than adequate at all three spots and provides a plus throwing arm.
So yes, the Aoki addition does improve the team. Ideally, the Giants would have found that big right-handed thumper to help fill the power void left by Sandoval and Morse but that's not part of Aoki's game. Heck, Blanco may have a little more pop than Aoki, but Aoki makes contact and drives the ball more regularly. Some are worried that Aoki and Blanco are too close to being the same type of player to make Aoki and big upgrade, but let's take a look at that real quickly. He surpasses Gregor in every aspect offensively and on the base-paths and they're close to a wash defensively, with Blanco getting an edge in range and Aoki maybe in the arm category. They are both somewhat light-hitting outfielders with great speed and good defense, but Aoki is clearly the better player. Plus, judging by Tuesday's press conference, I'm thinking he's going to fit right into the wide array of personalities that always seem to gel in the Giants clubhouse. I also thought it was cool how he wore his jersey when he appeared on CSN later in the evening with Brody Brazil to do an interview.
With Aoki's arrival, the big question I have now is what happens to Travis Ishikawa? The Giants just gave him over a $1M to return next year, but now with left-handed Nori Aoki starting in left and Blanco now sliding back into the fourth outfield role, they need a right-hander for that fifth spot. Juan Perez is penciled in there but Sabes could still go out and get a guy like Jonny Gomes to give them some pop off the bench and someone to spell Aoki against tough left-handed throwers. That said, there has been no indication made by the team that they're further pursuing outfielders.
Although they may be done adding to the positional part of the roster before spring, they still may still be pursuing starting pitching depth. It surfaced early Tuesday morning that Ryan Vogelsong reportedly close to a one-year deal with the Houston Astros (which apparently hit a snag cause it failed to happen). James Sheilds is still floating out there, someone the Giants apparently do like a lot, but have also let go as a possibility (especially after Scherzer just raked in over $200M.)...At this point, I think the Giants heavy lifting for the offseason is done.