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Friday, November 28, 2008

Crede Could Help

Last spring, while the Giants were searching for 3rd basemen and before they landed Jose Castillo, there was strong speculation that Joe Crede would get traded to the Giants at some point. It never transpired and Crede went on to have a big first half before getting hurt and missing most of the second half of the '08 season. Now, roughly nine months later, Crede is a free agent and could probably be had on the cheap as he's trying to prove that his back injuries are a thing of the past. Due to the thin market at third base, and that being one of the Giants biggest holes, I actually would take a long look at Crede. Again, he's coming off an injury (a back one at that), so he's not going to be able to command a multi-year deal and is likely going to have to settle for a mediocre base contract with incentives until he plays 140 games in a season. He is a Boras client, so negotiating won't be easy, but I don't see teams lining up to sign him so a 1 year deal is looking more and more likely. Last year, Crede hit .252 with 16 home runs and had 52 RBI before the all-star break, but then got injured and only played in a handful of games over the second half. Those are basically Adam Dunn numbers if you project it out to 150 games and Crede won't cost a them 14 mill a year over 5-6 years like Dunn will. Not to mention, Crede actually has a position that he's above average at. Crede isn't a great player by any stretch, but if he's healthy, he'll play a solid 3rd base and produce runs on offense. Why not give him a one-year deal to see if he can stay healthy? They could come out with a starting 3rd basemen for a few years.

It looks like Rafael Furcal is drifting further out of the Giants' reach. Furcal was in Oakland just before Thanksgiving and apparently loved it. I still think the Giants could end up with Rafy, but I'd say there's %60 chance he signs with Oakland. If that happens, I really hope the Giants don't panic and overpay for Renteria. I'd rather see them give a one year deal to someone like Felipe Lopez than throw big money into Renteria. Lopez has actually been good with the bat in 3 of the last 4 seasons, and would provide and offensive upgrade over Omar Vizquel and Emmanuel Burris. The 28 year-old middle infielder can steal a base when needed even though he has room to improve defensively. Bringing Lopez aboard as a utility guy would be a nice add as he can fill in all over the infield besides first. Lopez has been overlooked a bit in this free-agent ss/2b class as he could be a potential bargain for any team willing to take a flier on him.

I also wanted to mention the "Mark Teahen to the Cubs" rumors that have been going on just because I can't understand why the Giants wouldn't have inquired about this guy. The Cubs have offered Sean Marshal (a nice reliever/spot starter) and Mark Fontenot (a utility guys) who are decent players, but certainly not "must d0" deal for the Royals. Teahen isn't a game changer offensively at this point, but has upside and could play third base for this team for years to come (although he's been playing in the outfield in KC). The 27 year-old is a bay area native and bringing a player back to his roots always seems to work out well. The Giants should be able to compete with the Cubs offer if they wanted too without having to give up any premiere prospects.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Monday, November 24, 2008

Giants Searching for Shortstops

The Giants appear to have shifted all of their focus at this point to bringing a new shortstop aboard and it looks like it will be either Rafael Furcal or Edgar Renteria. Brian Sabean has apparently been exchanging contract proposals with Renteria's which I hope is not too serious. I have made clear the risks associated with Furcal here in previous posts, but even with those risks, I still think he is clearly a better option than Renteria at this point. Furcal is a few years younger, therefore will likely get another large contract if all goes well during this one, so he will have motivation to continue to be a top shortstop. Renteria is a decent player, but his game is a lot like Randy Winn's (minus the speed) and the Giants don't need another "Winn" type player on this team. Sure Renteria may hit .300, but his offense has been in decline and his defense is starting to slip a bit too. Furcal is an all-star caliber player when he's healthy and Renteria isn't anymore. I'm still not advocating signing Furcal to the 4 year, $50 million dollar deal that he wants, but I am saying that I'd rather overpay a bit for Furcal than give Renteria a multi-year deal. Again, if both are equally healthy, Furcal is the superior player and it's not even close.

Another guy who has been mentioned as a target for the Giants is Milwaukee Brewers' shortstop J.J. Hardy. The 26 year-old could possibly fill a few roles for the Giants as he is a solid defensive shortstop and could also provide them with a potent bat that could hit in the middle of the order. The Brew Crew needs pitching and apparently the Giants and Brewers have had some dialogue regarding Hardy and possibly first basemen Prince Fielder. Any move involving Fielder would cost the Giants Matt Cain and more so I doubt that they were serious on him, but Hardy could be interesting. The Brewers have young Alcides Escobar ready to take over shortstop for them and if they can get the right arm, they would part with Hardy. The Giants may be able to pry him away from the Brewers if they offer Jonathon Sanchez and one of their young relievers. Hardy has gone from an all-glove, no bat shortstop to one of the premiere offensive shortstops in the league over the last 2 seasons. What's also impressive is that he hit a lot better on the road than he did at home last season, so it appears that his 20+ home run power would not be affected by the move. This is really the type of player that Sabean should be pursuing rather than these 30-something shortstops that want $10 million a year. If there is anyway the Giants could get him without dealing Cain, Alderson or Bumgarner, they should strike.

*Note: It's not official yet, but according to some sources, the Giants have signed Edgar Renteria to a 2 year, $18 million deal. Again, it's not official and the story broke immediately after I posted this article. I will have a full post on the move once and if this move is official.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Friday, November 21, 2008

2009 Mock Lineup #1

With rumors swirling around the league, and the Giants apparently in on everyone from the big names like C.C. Sabathia to relievers like Bob Howry, I figured now would be a good time to throw out a possible lineup projection for next year. Even with the recent reports that the Giants are serious on Sabathia, I would still give that about a %10 chance of transpiring. The Giants have greater needs than pitching and as good as Sabathia is, I would rather put that money into a guy like Mark Teixeira if they insist on spending. The Giants also have apparently stepped up their efforts in pursuing second basemen Orlando Hudson. Hudson is declining offensively and his defense slipped last year as well. I would rather sign Furcal who may bring more of a risk, but if healthy, would reap more reward. Here is a look at how I think the 2009 Giants could look heading into Spring Training in February: Jon

Signings: Rafael Furcal (3 yr. - $40 million), Paul Byrd (1yr. - $3.5 million), Bob Howry (1yr. - $2.5 million)

Trade: Jonathan Sanchez to Texas for Hank Blalock (Giants need corner infield offense, Texas needs pitching)

1. SS Rafael Furcal (Giants have been interested all along. He likely will end up with the Giants, A's or Braves)
2. LF Fred Lewis (Giants may want him in middle of the order somewhere, but a potential 1-2 punch of him and Furcal would be dynamite)
3. 1B/3B Pablo Sandoval (The team has plans of starting "Sandy" somewhere for his bat, likely a better fit at first)
4. 1B/3B Hank Blalock (Sabean has always had his eye on Blalock and could part with Jonathan Sanchez to get some power in the lineup. Blalock is now considered a 1b/dh though)
5 CF Aaron Rowand (Should be better in his second go-round in SF, but still only a 20hr-90 rbi type guy at best in this park)
6. C Bengie Molina (Back for the final year as a Giant and he's had a good run here, should be dealt though if the team is out of it at the break)
7. RF Randy Winn (Steady all-around player that could be dealt to open space for Schierholtz, but not likely)
8. 2B Emmanuel Burris (He is a very good defender, can hit a little, and is the fastest player on the team. Kevin Frandsen could also be considered)

RH Tim Lincecum ('08 Cy Young Award Winner should be even better in '09 if the team can upgrade the offense and pen)
LH Barry Zito (Had a decent second half in 2008 after a horrible beginning but there's still hope that he can get back to at least a respectable level)
RH Matt Cain (After his 3rd full season here, It's time to separate himself from a high upside pitcher to a steadily dominant one)
LH Noah Lowry (His health is still uncertain, but should be back at around full strength in the spring. Only problem is, he hasn't pitched a meaningful inning since August 2007)
RH Paul Byrd (Giants may want another vet if they deal away a pitcher and Byrd seems like a cheap, low risk choice)

CL Brian Wilson (For the first time since Robb Nen, the Giants are set at closer long-term)
LH Jeremy Affeldt (Has come into his own over last 2 years, should be one of the top lefty relievers out there)
RH Sergio Romo (Take away one bad outing which he gave up 4 runs, and his era is in the low 1's)
RH Merkin Valdez (Like Lowry, his health is an issue as a 2 week injury ended up being a season ender in '08, but if healthy, has closing potential)
LH Alex Hinshaw (Came on strong last year, but needs to attack the strike zone with more consistency this year)
RH Bob Howry (Former Giant could return to his first team as they are seeking veteran relief help)
RH Kevin Pucetas (The Giants are very high on the 2008 minor league pitcher of the year and are going to give him a good look in the spring)

OF-Nate Schierholtz (nothing left to prove in minors, could start cutting into Winn's playing time)
OF-Dave Roberts (In last year of deal, finally, but will be paid over $6 million to sit)
1B-Travis Ishikawa (could see significant at-bats when Sandoval is filling in for Molina)
C-Steve Holm (Sandoval will be main backup, but Holm likely will be on the roster too)
IF-Kevin Frandsen (supposed to be the second basemen of the future, but interest in Hudson shows Giants are skeptical)

Again, this is just speculation on what could fit into budget based on what's been discussed. The Blalock trade is just speculation and hasn't been discussed at all, but it's a deal that could work out well for both squads. The Giants are all over Furcal but could turn to Orlando Hudson or Edgar Renteria if they cannot land him. I can almost guarantee you that the Giants will sign at least one middle infielder and I'd that they'll add at least one more reliever. They have also discussed Juan Cruz as another right handed setup man, but a guy like Howry is a lot more realistic after signing Affeldt.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Monday, November 17, 2008

Giants Active As Free Agency Begins

The Giants made the first official signing of the MLB offseason which got underway Friday night. The team inked left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt to a 2-year deal, 8 million dollar deal on Monday. The 29 year-old went 1-1 with an impressive 3.33 era (1.77 away from Cincinnati) along with an impressive 80 strikeouts in 78 innings of work. Affeldt has really come into his own over the last 2 years, pitching his home games in 2 of the National Leagues toughest parks to pitch at (Colorado then Cincinnati), and is becoming one of the better left-handed set-up men in baseball. $4 million a year is a little steep for a reliever who isn't closing games but Affeldt has a rubber arm (former starter), is just entering his prime and in my opinion was the top lefty reliever available outside of only Brian Fuentes. The Giants also were in on Joe Beimel who has a combined 2.87 era over the last 3 seasons, but Affeldt is better at stranding runners than the former Dodger and can be used for more than 1 inning at a time.

Adding Affeldt now gives the Giants two solid left-handed relievers along with Alex Hinshaw, and now shifts their focus to adding another righty or two to go along with Brian Wilson, Sergio Romo, and, if healthy, Merkin Valdez. They have apparently had talks with representatives for Juan Cruz, who's likely out of the Giants price range now with Affeldt in the mix, as well as David Weathers and Bob Howry. I know Weathers brings a veteran consistency with him and is still effective at age 39, but I would rather see them go with what they have then bring another reliever on the downside of their career as they did with Tyler Walker last season. Same can be said for Howry, although he has more left in the tank than Weathers. Or I would rather see them invest in someone who has some upside like Brandon Lyon or Jorge Julio on incentive laden deals rather than give multi-year deal's away to aging veterans. I also am intrigued at the thought of looking into Mark Prior and convincing him to move to the pen. He's said all along that he's not interested, but since he hasn't been healthy in almost 4 years, and after witnessing Kerry Wood's success last year, he may be more open to it now.

The Giants are also busy going after everyday players as well, and one guy who insiders are starting to think will become an actuality is Rafael Furcal. I've mentioned Furcal here a few times and have brought up my fear of him becoming the next Edgardo Alfonso if he came to San Francisco. He's always been a good, sometimes great shortstop, but he's recently started to battle nagging injuries. I would not give the guy a four-year deal, but if healthy and if they can get him for 2-3 years at 10 million per, then he may be worth the gamble. At this point, and again if healthy, Furcal is still a top 5 NL shortstop and probably will be for the next couple of seasons. A potential top of the order that includes Furcal and Fred Lewis is also intriguing as those two can hit for average and power while causing havoc on the base paths. It looks like Furcal and Orlando Hudson (also has been linked to the Giants) are both commanding nearly the same amount of money and years and between the two, Furcal's upside is a lot higher than Hudson's so if Sabean is dead set on signing a middle infielder, I'd rather it be Furcal. And although it's not likely to happen, the Giants have said that they've approached both C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixera's agent about their services. While neither of those two are coming to SF, that does show me that the Giants new ownership may be a little more inclined to spend than we all thought. They aren't going to get Tex or C.C. but if they don't get either Furcal and/or someone like like Pat Burrell, Adam Dunn or Casey Blake, I'd be surprised. They feel that they are closer to competing in this division than people expect them to be and who knows, in the ever changing NL West, a couple of good add's could end up in a trip to October.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lincecum wins Cy Young Award

The kid certainly deserved it, and on Tuesday it became official. Tim Lincecum won the 2008 NL Cy Young award earlier today and won it in a landslide. He received 23 of the 32 first place votes and edged out Brandon Webb and Johan Santana to become the first Giant to win the award since Mike McCormick over 40 years ago in 1967. He had just received The Sporting News' NL Pitcher of the Year award as well as the NL's most outstanding pitcher award two weeks ago, so winning this award is no fluke. I had pushed for Lincecum to win this thing since August when he really separated himself from the rest of the pack. Lincecum's final line of the 2008 season looked like this: 227.1 IP, 18-5 record, 182 hits, 84 walks, 265 strikeouts, .221 BAA, 1.17 WHIP and a 2.62 era. Not bad at all for a kid who was pitching his first full big league season, what a way to start your career. Congratulations to Tim Lincecum as he made an otherwise boring season, watchable.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Friday, November 07, 2008

Giants Notes

Free agents still cannot officially discuss business with potential new suitors for another week, but there is already plenty of speculation going on in the bay area about what the Giants will do once the floodgates open. We've seen Mark Teixeira and Adam Dunn's name already thrown out there. Here are a few notes over the past week that have gained some headlines on the Giants front:

Giants showing interest in Rafael Furcal: I did mention Furcal here a while back towards the end of the season discussing him as the type of player Brian Sabean seems to covet in free agency (see Ray Durham, Edgardo Alfonzo, Dave Roberts ect.) as a player who can be dominant at times, but he's on the wrong side of 30 and injuries are starting to take their toll. Accroding to the Los Angeles Time, the Giants have already had discussions with Furcal's agent. Furcal would be a nice addition to any lineup and he's likely seeking a 3+ year contract worth 13 million dollars annually. When he's healthy, he's almost worth it, as he showed in the post-season, but the Giants have had limited success in free agency since 2002. If they could get him on a 1-2 year deal to show prove he's healthy, then I'd be all for it, but he's going to get offers elsewhere and I'm not convinced the Giants should get into a bidding war. However, if the next topic I'm going to discuss (Rowand)comes to fruition, then I'd be a lot more open to signing a guy like Furcal. It also would considerably weaken the Dodgers which is also a good thing.

Giants possibly dangling Aaron Rowand: This one caught me by surprise, and although the odds are against it happening, it does pose an interesting possible turn of events. The Giants have Nate Schierholtz rearing to go full time and prove that he can (or can't) keep an everyday job in the bigs, but he's being blocked right now by Fred Lewis and Randy Winn. If the Giants could deal Rowand, it would allow them to shift Winn to center and give Schierholtz right. Also, the free agent market is thin in regards to outfielders, especially in center where Ken Griffey Jr. and Mark Kotsay head the list. The Yankees were among teams that had interest in him last winter when he was a free agent and they are always willing to add payroll. Although Rowand didn't have the best offensive year in his first go round in SF, he has established himself as a clubhouse leader with the Giants already as well as a fan favorite in San Francisco with his all-out play. However, if the Giants have a shot to free up some payroll that could be spent in other areas, as well as opening up a spot for Schierholtz, I'd be all for it.

Giants possibly bringing Pat Burrell back to the Bay Area
: Pat Burrell has been on the Giants radar it seems for the past 4 or 5 years. He would fit in well at AT&T Park because he is a right handed pull hitter who's 30 home run a year power would not be affected by the spacious ball-park. But that's about where all the positives end with Burrell. At this point in his career he's a .250 hitter and he's not particularly clutch. He's also slow and immobile making him a below average outfielder and the Giants already have an abundance of outfield options. The only way the Giants could consider him is if they can make him a first basemen, which is notoriously thought as being an easier transition than it is. That said, it would be nice to have a 30 home run-a-year bat in the lineup somewhere as the Giants were dead last in all of baseball in the home run department last year. If the Giants could get Burrell on a home town discount (3 years, $30 million) and if he can play a halfway decent first base, he may be worth going after. There are some positives that he'd bring in addition to the low-average and subpar defense as he is pretty much a shoe in for 30 bombs a year, he does get on base a lot, and he has stayed healthy throughout his career.

Again, these are just names that have been written or talked about over the last couple days, so it's all speculation, but Brian Sabean said earlier in the week after the General Manager meetings that he will not trade Matt Cain(unless he's blow away by an offer) and may be more willing to dip into the free agent market than he had originally thought. So keep an eye on the guys above if that becomes the case.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Giants sign Phelps, Lose Vizquel

With the dead time between the end of the world series and the beginning of the off season among us, rumors of all kinds are starting to be thrown out. The Giants did make an actual move Monday, signing Travis Phelps to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. They also officially parted ways with Omar Vizquel as the the veteran shortstop filed for free agency and is not expected to resign with the team. The Vizquel move is not surprising as nobody expected him to be back with the club next year, now it should be interesting to see if he can find a starting job somewhere. The Phelps signing is a low-risk move that could end up giving the Giants a back-up first basemen, or just another player to be dumped during the spring. Phelps hasn't really done much since his early seasons in Toronto, but he just turned 30 years old so he is not completely washed up yet. The Giants already have Pablo Sandoval, Travis Ishikawa and Jon Bowker all ahead of Phelps on the depth chart right now so I wouldn't look for him to make much noise unless one or two of those guys ahead of him get hurt.

There have also been some articles put out in the chronicle recently talking about the possibility of the Giants pursuing Mark Teixeira. First off, with Zito and Aaron Rowand in the middle of fat contracts, I doubt the Giants will give out another one so soon, especially because the last 2 haven't gone so great thus far. The Giants do probably have the available funds to make take a legit run at Teixiera, but they have holes in this team beyond first base. As a matter of fact, with Sandoval and Ishikawa's emergence, first base looks to be a spot possibly filled with in house talent. Now, not saying I would take Sandoval over Teixiera, but all things considered, Teixiera won't make them a playoff team, and tying a majority of the payroll up in him Rowand and Zito over the next 1/2 decade doesn't sound like the best plan in the world. If this were the 2000-2002 Giants when he could have solidified a lineup and pushed them over the top, then it would make some sense, but not so much with this squad.
The Giants Baseball Blog