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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Giants Land Zito, Re-shape Offseason

The Giants were definetely persistant in their pursuit of the top starting pitcher on the market, and there persistance paid off. The Giants signed Barry Zito to a 7 year, 126 million dollar deal on Thursday in a move that officialy has turned around what had been an uneventful offseason on the Giants front. Zito is getting big money, but I think he will be worth it. He is only 28 years old, and has never missed a start in his career. As I've said many times here, you don't worry as much about giving that type of pitcher a long term deal as you would with a power pitcher such as Schmidt. Zito has a good chance to be just as good or better than he is now 7 years down the line. This move gives the Giants a potential roation of: Zito, Matt Cain, Noah Lowry, Matt Morris, Jonathon Sanchez. A rotation which consists of 1 pitcher over the age of 28. Whether or not the rotation alone can carry this team into the playoffs remains to be seel, as they still have a terrible bullpen that has again gone untouched this year, but it does give the Giants an area of strength for the future. The eye is on 2008 and beyond when the Giants again should have some money to spend in free agency and could make upgrades to the lineup and bullpen. Overall, I have to give Sabean an A- on this move, the minus only because I do think he did overpay a little to get the deal done, but I have to give him the double thumbs up besides that. If Cain and Lowry continue to grow along with Zito, the Giants could have one of the best roations in the league for years to come. Now if only he could deal Armondo Benitez and get a few relievers in here to help out the bullpen.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sabean Has Yet to Address The Root of the Teams' Problem: The Bullpen

After the 2004 season, when the Giants had Matt Herges and Dustin Hermanson closing out games, it was apparant that the Giants needed a bullpen makeover. Sabean went out and signed Armondo Benitez after that season, and hasn't touched the bullpen since. Benitez has obviously been a bust, and the Giants bullpen gradually got worse in '05-'06. Here we are, entering the final month and a half of the offseason, and once again, the Giants bullpen has been untouched. The only move they've made so far has been resigning Steve Kline while most late relief options have already been plucked off the market. With Keith Foulke set to sign with the Cleveland Indians, it leaves nobody on the free agent market with succesful closing experience. It isn't just a coincedence that the Giants have missed the playoffs the last 3 seasons while their bullpen has ranked near the bottom of the league. It's amazing that most Giants' fans can recognize this, and Sabean hasn't. He's so caught up in trying to get another big name in San Francisco (Barry Zito, Marry Ramirez, Carlos Lee, Randy Johnson) but he doesn't understand that even with a Barry Zito or Randy Johnson in the rotation, this bullpen is still terrible, and the team would still struggle to stay around .500. I really think the Manny Ramirez chase set the Giants' back a bit. They wasted valuable time early in the offseason and at the winter meetings trying to swing a deal for Ramirez while all the decent relief help was being picked through. I am not trying to praise Ned Colleti, but I think we now know who the brains where between that pair.

The Giants have been involved in more rumors this winter than any other winter that I can remember, and they were once again brought up this week as a possible destination for Randy Johnson. The Yankees want to get rid of Johnson and pursue Roger Clemens and Barry Zito. Johnson would like to return to the west coast to be closer to his Arizona home. The Giants, Diamondbacks and Padres have been mentioned as the teams most interested in aquiring the Big Unit and the 16 million dollar salary he will earn in 2007. The Giants have publicly denied interest as they are pushing hard for Barry Zito, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot more of those rumors if Zito signs with the Mets. As we head into January, it looks like the Giants and the Mets are the two most logical fits for Zito, and it's looking more and more like he will choose one of those 2. The worst situation for the Giants would be if the Yankees can somehow pawn Johnson off on the D-Backs or Padres in the next week which would almost certainly put them in the Yanks in the drivers seat as far as bargaining. Word out of New York says the Mets don't want to give Zito more then 5 years while the Giants are willing to go 7 or 8. Scott Boras wants to wait this thing out as long as possible to try and get the Yankees involved, so a good move by Sabean would be to place a deadline on his offer to Zito. As this process draws on longer, chances of signing Zito get smaller for the Giants.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Giants Add Another Ex-Padre

The Giants have added a 4th (and counting) former Padre to their 2007 roster signing Ryan Klesko on Tuesday. The Giants had been dead quiet since announcing their re-signing of Barry Bonds about two weeks ago. Klesko now joins Dave Roberts, Rich Aurilia and Bruce Bochy as former Padre's now employed by the Giants and they may add another one. The Giants are still on the short list of potential suitors for David Wells who will likely choose between the Padres or Giants before the new year. I don't have much of a problem with the Klesko deal itself, a one year, 1.75 million dollar contract plus incentives, but I think the Giants could have used that money plus the money they gave Pedro Feliz and gotten a legit 1st basemen in Aubrey Huff. Entering the off-season, I had Huff high on the free-agency board, and I can't believe he is still hanging around. Huff, a guy who is entering his prime and a player who could make a difference for the Giants, is just sitting there waiting to be signed, while Sabean continues to give money away to players like Feliz and Klesko. Another reason I question signing Klesko is becuase the Giants' already have a left-handed 1B/OF on their bench in Mark Sweeney. On the bright side, Klesko is a player who has had a lot of success, and he has pride. Having him under a one year deal may not be such a bad thing. The Giants aren't giving him a huge base salary, and he will have to have a good season if he wants to earn his money and position himself for a job in '08. Klesko does hold a career on-base percentage in the .370's and if he can give the Giants 500 at-bats, he will probably hit 20 home runs and be a decent run producer. There isn't much of a risk in the signing, but all these little moves add up and take away from the possibility of the big move. This also ends all posibilities of the Giants adding another legit bat before the season.

There was a rumor flying around over the last 2 days that Russ Ortiz was going to sign a 1 year deal with the Giants, but that story was shut down his agent immediately. Ortiz can be had for the league minimum of $380,000 because he is still under contract with the Diamondbacks. Ortiz has been downright awful the last 2 seasons, but has been throwing better in winter ball and is looking for a guaranteed roster spot, something the Giants can't do at this point. I could still see Ortiz signing in San Francisco, but I think Sabean wants to focus on other players first. The chances Barry Zito staying in the bay area are becoming less and less likely by the day as it seems the Mets' are getting more and more interested, and I am starting to get the bad feeling that Sabean's answer to the loss of Jason Schmidt will be Jeff Suppan. Apparantly, the Brewers, Pirates and Giants are in the final 3 for Suppan. If that is the case and if the Giants really want Suppan, they'll get him. Pittsburh wouldn't be a bad place to pitch, but Suppan will likely see even the Giants have a better shot at winning than the Pirates. I think it will come down to the Brewers and Giants, and since he'll still be around when Zito signs with the Mets, the Giants will likely overpay and get him in response to losing out on Zito. I hope I'm wrong, but Sabean is becoming way to predictable.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Giants In On The Zito Sweepstakes

Once the Giants unofficially announced that they have agreed to a new deal with Barry Bonds, most people thought it would mark the end of any significant moves Brian Sabean would make the rest of the offseason. However, Sabean said the team did still have financial room for another starting pitcher, thanks to deffered money in Bonds' contract. On top of that, there has been whispers that Peter Magowan may allow the Giants payroll to excede 100 million dollars for the first time in franchise history. Last season, the Giants' payroll was around the 85 million dollar range. They are doing all this in hopes to possibly accomidate the huge salary that Barry Zito will command. Latest word on the free agency front has the Giants in hot pursuit of Zito, and there where even rumors they'd offer him 20 million dollars a year over 6 years. A very simalar deal in which they offered to Carlos Lee. The Giants real competition for Zito appears to be the Texas Rangers and the New York Mets. The Boston Red Sox could join that list if they lose out on Daisuke Matsuzuka. Zito has been quiet regarding the Giants situation, but as a native Californian, and a guy who's spent his whole career in the bay area, it would seem the most geographicaly appealing place for Zito. However, Zito plays guitar in the offseason, and many people close to him hint that his dream would be to play in New York, where he could showcase his talents on and off the field. Even if the Giants outbid, I still think it would be a longshot for the them, I expect him to be a Met. The Giants outbid the Astros for Carlos Lee, and where ready to do the same for Soriano, but both players decided against the Giants, and there is no reason to believe Zito won't do the same. As far as the money is concerned, If there is a pitcher, and a pitching style I would give $100 million to, it's Barry Zito. He's been nothing less than a mark of consistancy and quality throughout his career, having never missed a start in the 7 seasons. 213+ innings in 6 straight seasons, while holding a career 3.55 era. No, Zito isn't the overpowering 98 mph flamethrower that Jason Schmidt was in his prime for the Giants, he is a finesse pitcher a la Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. This is why I really wouldn't mind giving Zito big money for a lot of years. Look at how consistant Glavine and Maddux have been over their careers. I have every reason to believe that Zito will age like those two and be doing the same stuff Glavine is now when he is 38 years old. Zito's style of pitching will keep him healthy, and it should also keep him effective for years to come. The only small question I have with him is his inability to finish games. He hasn't completed a game in 3 years, but again, the "no missed starts" in 7 years has to cancel that out a little bit. I'd give it a 20% of happening, but if the Giants did land Zito, it would definetely brighten up what has been a glum, predictable offseason thus far.

The arbitration deadline has slowly creaped up on us, and one big name player has already been non-tendered, Marcus Giles. Giles appears destined to join his brother, Brian, in San Diego, but there are a few other interesting names who could be released. Joel Pineiro is isn't likely to be offered a contract by the Mariners. Pineiro had a terrible season last year, and really hasn't been very good since '03. But he is still only 28 and has a very live arm. In '02 and '03 this guy looked like a potential ace for years to come in Seattle. Some people think a change of scenery will do him some good. Another interesting name who was released Tuesday is Chris Rietsma. Rietsma was very effeciant for the Braves as a set-up man in '04 and '05, but started to struggle when the Braves moved him into the closers role. Rietsma was injured for most of '06, but he is a guy who would be low risk/high reward on a minor league contract. Shawn Chacon and Rodrigo Lopez are two other non-tendered candidates who are still young, have tremendous upside, but struggled last season. The list of potential position players are less impressive than the pitchers. Besides Giles, Brad Wilkerson and Jason Lane are the only two guys who could come in and have in impact on a team. Wilkerson would offer the Giants a left-handed option at first base and a caddy to Barry Bonds in left field. Lane could give the Giants a right-handed outfielder to insert into the lineup for Dave Roberts vs. tough left-handed pitching.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

2007 Mock Lineup #2

Well, the Giants are adding players at a very quick rate, and there isn't going to be too many wild guesses in this mock line-up, but I will through one possibility out there that hasn't been discussed.

CF. Dave Roberts (The signing would look ok, if the Giants can deal Randy Winn)
SS. Omar Vizquel
2B Ray Durham (Best giants signing of the winter so far)
LF. Barry Bonds (Even though they don't appear too close, the Giants will re-sign him)
RF. Geoff Jenkins (A longshot, but he is available, the Giants have inquired about him, and the Brewers want a leadoff hitting center fielder (Winn) since they got burned by Roberts. Could make sense for both teams)
1B Rich Aurilia (Nice, economical signing overshadowed by the Feliz nightmare)
C. Bengie Molina (His defense has slipped a bit, but there aren't many cathers as consistant with the bat)
3B. Pedro Feliz (This guy should give his agent 1/2 of his '07 salaray for talking the Giants into taking him back as the starting 3rd basemen)

C. Elizier Alfonzo
1B-OF Ryan Klesko (Bonds caddy in left)
1B-OF Mark Sweeney
IF Kevin Frandsen
OF Todd Linden

1. Matt Cain RHP
2. Matt Morris RHP (look for a reboud, but still not worth $9 million a season)
3. Miguel Bautista RHP (Will likely end up w/ KC or Stl., but he knows the NL west and is the type of player Brian Sabean loves)
4. Noah Lowry LHP (If he isn't dealt for a big bat)
5. David Wells/Jonathen Sanchez/Darren Oliver LHP (Giants have interest in both Oliver and Wells while Sanchez could be dealt)

CP. Armondo Benitez
RHP Guillermo Mota
LHP Darren Oliver/Scott Schoenwies
RHP Brian Wilson
RHP Kevin Corriea
LHP Jack Taschner
RHP Tim Worell/ Vinny Chulk

Again, I am going out on a limb on the Jenkins for Winn deal, but everything else seems like it is already done, or is very close to happening. I think it's a matter of days before Bonds is re-signed, then the Giants will turn there attention to something that hasn't gotten any of it yet this winter, pitching. The Giants are still at least a starting pitcher and a few relievers away from putting together a pitching staff and that's if Armondo Benitez is able to pitch this spring. Sabean needs to stop dreaming of Manny Ramirez and start assembling a pitching staff.
The Giants Baseball Blog