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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Giants Sign Miguel Tejada to Replace Uribe

Well, the Giants' front office are keeping Giants reporters (and us bloggers) occupied here early in the winter, as they made their counter-move to the Dodgers' signing of Juan Uribe within 36 hours of hearing news that the infielder wouldn't be returning to San Francisco in 2011.

I haven't yet had a chance to talk to anyone close enough to the team yet to verify, but something tells me the Giants had Tejada in mind all along as a backup plan to Uribe. Otherwise, I don't see how they could have acted so quickly. My suggestion in the previous post was to wait out the market and see what happens with arbitration eligible shortstops (J.J. Hardy, Yunel Escobar and Jason Bartlett were a few guys who may have been available via trade, or non-tender free agency), but they already had a plan. In the end, it's going to be Miguel Tejada who will be manning shortstop for your 2011 San Francisco Giants, as the Giants got him on a 1 year, $6.5 million deal. I know said I cringed at the idea of Tejada starting at shortstop for the Giants, but after looking at his deal, and really comparing him both offensively and defensively to Uribe over the last few seasons, it doesn't seem like such a bad signing after all. Maybe they catch lightning in a bottle again like they did with Huff last year and Tejada returns to that .313/14/86/.795 line he put up with Houston in 2009. Last year, Tejada's average dipped down to a career low .269 (20 points higher than Uribe in '10), but he still managed to hit 16 homers and drive in 71 runs, so when comparing his numbers to Uribe's, they really aren't far off. Miggy probably won't hit as many dingers, but will carry an average 20-30 points higher than Uribes, and bring roughly the same defense and may end up driving in more runs as he's more productive with runners on base. Uribe is slighly better defensively, as he's younger and may have a little more range and stronger arm, but I don't think the defensive fallout will be that noticeable. If the opportunity presents itself for Sabean to get a better option at shortstop (who knows, maybe he swipes Jose Reyes from the Mets, who are shopping him, or gets Hardy from the Twins) there's a chance Tejada ends up as a super-utility guy like Uribe was in 2009 as he brings the same versatility as Uribe.

Again, Tejada is what he is, a veteran on the decline who's best years are behind him, but he's still got some positive traits he can bring to a club. 2 years ago, I would have screamed at Sabes for this deal, but I do see some logic in this one. Look at how all Sabes 1-year deals turned out last season (Uribe, Huff and Burrell (in-season signing in May)). It's those 2+ year deals with the veterans where he's getting in trouble, and since he got Miggy without having to commit 2 or more years, I have to call that a win in itself. Tejada is going to be a nice clubhouse presence like Renteria and Uribe were, and he should be just about as productive, at about 1/2 the price the Giants paid the Uribe/Renteria duo in 2010 (roughly 12.5 million between them). Now, that said, I don't think Sabean is done adding to this infield and may find another guy more defense-worthy for shortstop. Right now, the backup to Uribe would be either Mike Fontenot or Emmanuel Burris, and neither of those guys are necessarily defensive wizards at short. Like I said in the last post, and since they've now singed Tejada, it wouldn't surprise me to see this move followed with the signing of a guy (Cesar Izturis?) to be that defensive caddy at short. Either way, with the winter meetings just 1 short week away, baseball hot stove is about to pick up, and the Giants now get to put their primary focus into finding a corner outfielder with some punch to take Burrell's spot. I think Adam Dunn would be choice under the right terms, but then read his agent was seeking deals starting at 4/$60M, which is probably 2 years and about $30 million more than the Giants would go.

I just hope that in the offseason after their first World Series win in San Francisco history, they're able to lure in somebody a little bigger than just Miguel Tejada. The two guys I see as perfect fits for this yard who are available but would come at a price are obviously Carl Crawford, but also Jose Reyes, who may cost them Jonathan Sanchez and Brandon Belt in a trade with New York, but if healthy, could hit 40 triples per-year at AT&T.
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Uribe Leaves Giants for Dodger Blue

Well, if you've been following Giants' news over the past few days, your no stranger to the fact that Juan Uribe was in talks with the Dodgers about signing in LA to play 2nd base. It looks like those talks are coming to fruition, as Uribe has now signed the deal and is just awaiting a Tuesday physical in the Dominican to wrap things up.

Uribe and the Dodgers have agreed on a 3-year, $21 million deal that will put Uribe in the Dodgers' infield along with Casey Blake, Rafael Furcal and James Loney. The 31 year-old figures to spend most his time at 2nd in LA, but as Giants' fans know, has the versatility to move around the infield. I'm not surprised Uribe is leaving, just a little surprised, in a middle-infield thin market, he signed so soon. He was a steady contributor for the Giants in his 2-year stint here, but I don't blame Sabes for not wanting to match the Dodgers offer of 3 years. 2 years at $7 million for Uribe would be doable, but that 3rd year is the killer. That's probably what Sabean was talking about when he said the parties weren't in the same waters during early negotiations... Never the less, Juan Uribe, the man who was so crucial for the Giants in the NLCS and World Series, will be an enemy next season, and not just a regular enemy either. In the same month as winning a World Series with the Giants, he signs with the Dodgers of all teams! After Huff signed his deal, I was hoping it would be a matter of days before the Giants announced an Uribe re-signing, because now the cupboard is pretty bare for them as far as shortstops are concerned.

We talked pretty extensively about the other free agent options at shortstop in our previous post here, so I don't need to run through the less-than-impressive list of names that remain available at the position now that Uribe is has gone south. And all I have to say to you Derek Jeter-dreamers; wouldn't you rather see that money go into Carl Crawford (who's 7 years younger and an ideal fit at AT&T Park)? I don't expect Sabean to make any knee-jerk reaction and go out and sign/trade for a middle infielder within 48 hours, in-fact, I think it would be wise of him to back off of the shortstop position for a bit now that the one plausible free agent is gone, and focus elsewhere. There are a few names on the arbitration list who may be available via trade or even possible non-tenders (though I doubt any club will just non-tender a valuable middle infielder in this market). I keep hearing the name Miguel Tejada thrown out there, and I just cringe, cause he'd seem to fit Sabean's MO. A veteran who can play the left side who may come cheaply and turn out to be a diamond in the rough, a la Huff and Uribe. The Giants have supposedly already had talks with him too, but if they did in-fact bring in Miguel Tejada, I doubt he'd be the only guy shouldering the SS load. I think Sabean would have bring someone else aboard who is a little more able with the glove(maybe his old pal in Baltimore, Cesar Izturis)... Again, we're still finishing up November, and the offseason is still young, but the shortstop options are few and far between, and the Giants lost their top-candidate Monday. I'm anxious to see what Sabean has up his sleeve after this one.
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giants Offer Juan Uribe Arbitration

Just Tuesday night, within 24 hours of the Giants signed Aubrey Huff to that 2 year/$22M deal, the team announced they will offer free agent infielder Juan Uribe arbitration.

Not much of a surprise, and smart move by Sabean, as Uribe was the lone Giants' free agent I expected them to offer arbitration to. Uribe is one of the premiere left-corner infielders on the free-agent market, with the ability to play both SS and 3B at respectable levels, with a solid line of roughly .266/25/80/.770 per-500 ab's and a knack for the clutch hit over the last two seasons. Just go back and look at the 2010 postseason and you'll see what Uribe means to this team. He didn't have great batting average, but it seemed like everytime he did get hits, he made them count. There are some negatives though, as he's a bit of a free-swinger and as a side effect, not too patient at the plate (though he did have a career-high 45 BB in 2010) and he'll strikeout his fair share. However, all things considered, he's certainly a guy you want on your team. He's not a great defender, but has OK range with good hands, a great arm and comes up with that occasional great play. Now, if he's demanding some gaudy number like 3 years/$30+ million like I heard mentioned on the radio the other day, then the Giants let him walk and receive a high draft pick in comenstation. Kind of a win-win as he's surely to sign somewhere or the Giants would take him back with open arms.

Money wise, I think I'd try and go a little lower than what Huff got (Uribe plays tougher positions on defense, but Huff had the better numbers offensively). Maybe a little less, like 2 years and $18.5 million. Go read over the list on the free agent/arbitration eligible list for 3B/SS and it's pretty dismal. Outside of Jeter (who, again, if the Giants are going to spend 18 million on a player, it better be Crawford) and possible Japanese middle infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka (who I am very intrigued with and the Giants have shown some interest in), and $9 million a year for Uribe starts to make some sense. I don't have any doubts in his defensive abibilties and I think he'll easily keep both those and his offensive punch for another two seasons. It seems like he's been around for a while, but he's still just 31. Look what Sabes gave Edgar Renteria after the year he had just finished playing with Detroit in 2008, and there's no way Uribe's that bad, plus he plays two other positions unlike Renteria (who I will always have a place in my heart for based on what he did in the playoffs with a torn bisceps muscle for the Giants, that took some cahones)... Speaking of Edgar, who's apparently deciding to play again, I doubt he has a future here, but if he doesn't find a job elsewhere, why not give him an invite to spring training on a minor league deal if he'll it. Wouldn't guarantee him anything big (maybe a 1 year/$1-2M just to say thank you for playoffs 2010 if nothing else). Not talking about singing him as your opening day starter at short, but wouldn't be a bad, cheaper replacement to Mike Fontenot (due a decent raise in arbitration and likely to be non-tendered), and a great caddy to Uribe short, if the can get both back. We took a look at some FA/Arb. Eligible SS's here in our last post, and it's not an eye popping list, so an Uribe/Renteria or Uribe/TBA (Manny Burris if he get's his health and 2008 confidence back, or another strong defender) isn't looking like that bad off an option right now if they chose to go down the Uribe-rout at short. And he's a Type-B free agent, so the Giants wouldn't be getting maximum compensation for him anyway.
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Huff's Back, 2 Years/$22 Million

Well, it was obvious both sides genuinely wanted to get a deal done, and they did so quicker than even I expected Tuesday morning, as the Giants signed first basemen Aubrey Huff to a 2 year, $22 Million deal.

My first thoughts were, good, Huff's back, but those were immediately followed by the wow! $22 million! Still, I think it's safe to say that the majority of Giants fans wanted Huff back, we all knew it would take more than 1 year, and at $11M per season, it's only about $2-3 more than I was expecting he'd get. The one spot where this FA market is stocked at is first base, with Adam Dunn, Carlos Pena, Paul Konerko, Derek Lee and Adam LaRoche leading the charge, but the Giants got a great performance out of Huff in 2010 and know he's not detoured from hitting at AT&T Park. If the Giants don't have Aubrey Huff in 2010, no World Series tittle. So did they jump the gun a bit and overpay a tad to get him back, sure, but after what he did for them, the versatility he brings and the presence he provides in that young clubhouse, I don't think this team could have stood to have lost him. Plus, like I said earlier, I think the Giants signed him with the tentative vision of him at first base, but Aubrey played a perfect left field in 2010, granted in just 46 games and has the ability to do so daily. His range is average at best in left, but he's better than Pat Burrell, who never seemed to be much of an issue out there. So signing Huff does still leave Sabes that option to add another bat at first if an un-passable opportunity presented itself.

And with that, the Giants have made their first move since the World Series, and Brian Sabean's attempt to build a tittle defending team is underway. As long as Huff doesn't go all Mark DeRosa on us and get all injury prone all the sudden, then I think he'll be just fine over the next 2 seasons. With the Giants now appear set at first base, it leaves left field and shortstop as the two remaining positions of need. As far as shortstop, the name of the week seems to be Jason Bartlett, as the Rays have prospects on his heels ready to take over, and Bartlett is set to make around $6 million in 2011. The 31 year-old shortstop had a Derek Jeter-like year in the Rays' in 2009, and was a key component to their 2008 success, but fell off big time in 2010. After carrying a .320/14/66/.879 with 30 steals and a near .400 OBP in '09, he fell down to .254/4/47/.675 with 11 steals and a .324 OBP.

It's not just his offense that took the dive in 2010 though, as his defense, for a 30 year-old, has taken a steep decline the last 2 years. He's an athletic, quick guy and I know 2010's lack of production (in all areas of his game) had a lot to do with some nagging health issues. He's a better player than what he showed in '10, but I wouldn't jump at the opportunity to bring him in here. I'm not going to get all into his UZR and Rngr numbers or anything like that, but in simple terms, Bartlett was the 3rd worst defensive shortstop in the AL in 2010 with the range-zone average of Miguel Tejada and Christian Guzman. Yes, he's had bad knees and had ankle issue in 2010, but I'm just not sold on the Bartlett and see him more as a 1 year wonder type deal with declining defense and he really isn't an attractive option. I'd much rather look into guys like J.J. Hardy, Yunel Escobar or Eric Aybar (though I doubt LAA lets him go) as far as arbitration eligibles who may be available. Now if Bartlet end's up non-tendered by Tampa (not likely, but possible), and Uribe's out of the picture, then maybe one a 1-year trial, a la Aubrey Huff, but noway do I give up anything of value for him, and certainly not Jonathan Sanchez.

Just read on Bagg's Blog that the Sabean had discussions with a free agent shortstop today and it wasn't Juan Uribe. Baggs' speculates it could be Jeter, but I doubt I think that if the Giants are going to spend $18 million on a player, it should be Carl Crawford. The other top FA shortstops aren't exactly what you'd call enticing: Cesar Isturis, Orlando Cabrera and Felipe Lopez. The one guy of those 3 who could have an upside is the 30 year-old Lopez who's got talent, but doesn't have the best rep as a clubhouse guy. The same was said of Juan Uribe when he first came over and look how that turned out. Lopez the kind of guy that could come here to SF and settle into a great clubhouse atmosphere and possibly turn things around (in '09 he hit .310/9/57/.810, just not sure he's an everyday shortstop). On a minor league, or 1-year, incenctive laden deal, he may just be worth a look (at worst, you get a cheaper version of Mike Fontenot).
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Monday, November 22, 2010

Giants Minor League Report: Hitting

Well, typically here at the Giants Baseball Blog, with high-praised youngsters like Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner and Pablo Sandoval coming up through the system the last 3 years, we've been doing a monthly minor league check-up on what's going on inside the lower levels of the Giants organization. However, since the team made the playoffs for the first time in 8 years, and ended up World Series Champs, it's been a few months since we've even thought of the Giants farm system.

Now, even though Posey and Bumgarner are now in San Francisco for good, there are still some names who Giants fan's will become familiar with very soon down in the minors, and this year, nobody was more noticeable than first basemen Brandon Belt. The 22 year-old tore up the minor leagues in 2010, eerily similar to the way Pablo Sandoval did in 2008. At three different stops, High-A San Jose, AA Richmond and AAA Fresno, Belt hit a combined .352 with 23 HR, 43 2B, 113 RBI, 22 SB and a whopping 1.075 OPS. He did most of his damage down in San Jose, where he hit .383 with 10 HR and 66 RBI in 77 games, before moving up to Richmond. His average took a bit of a dive up in AAA Fresno at the end of the year hitting .229 in just 49 at-bats, but he still managed to hit 4 homers and drive in 10 in his short 13 game stint with the Grizzlies. So far in the Arizona Fall League, he's picked right back up again, as he's currently hitting .382 with a homer and 16 RBI in 82 at bats. I think it's a pretty safe bet that he'll not only be the Giants' #1 prospect heading into 2011, but he may just find himself battling for a major league job this spring. I can see the Giants using the same approach with him as they did with Buster Posey, letting him get a final tune-up for a few months in Fresno, then depending on how that's going, bringing him up to San Francisco around June.

After Belt, the Giants system doesn't really have a player who's knocking on the doorstep of the major leagues. Francisco Peguero could find himself right behind Belt in the Giants' prospect rankings after the 2010 year he had though, as he showed why baseball people are so high on him. The 22 year-old did a little bit of everything for the little (SJ) Giants this year, hitting .329 and showing some pop production with 10 HR and 66 RBI, a ton of speed with 40 steals and 19 triples, while playing a gold-glove caliber center field. His patience is still the one concern with his game right now, and is probably what's kept him back. (he walked just 18 times in 534 plate appearances in 2010) It seemed like he was a little overshadowed by Belt's big year in '10, but he's one of the guys I'm most intrigued to watch heading into 2011. He'll likely start off in AA Richmond, where it seems like most Giants' hitting prospects not named Brandon Belt have struggled a bit. Pegeuro's not quite as far along as Belt though, and is still probably at least a year away from being ML ready (probably mid-2012 if he keeps progressing).

On the flip-side,Thomas Neal, Roger Kieschnick and Brandon Crawford all had expectations this year after tearing up San Jose in 2009, but none of them had very good years. I don't want to call Neal's year a total failure, as he winded up hitting a respectable .291, but he had only 12 homers and 69 RBI, a huge drop-off from his .337/22/90 year last season. Still though the eastern league is notoriously tough on hitters, especially power wise, so I'm not too concerned with Neal's drop off in the power department. Kieshnick (.251/4/21 in 60 games) and Crawford (.236/7/23 in 84 games) on the other hand, had years to forget in 2010, however both did have major injury issues and missed big portions of the season. Getting both of them on track in 2011 will be key for the Giants organizational depth.

While a few guys like Kieschnick, Crawford and Nick Noonan struggled, one Giants' farmhand who broke through with a big year with the bat, and I'm surprised wasn't moved up during the year, was Chris Dominguez. I really liked this selection when the Giants took him in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft. I thought he would be gone within the top-100 picks for sure, just purely based on that power potential if nothing else and had him ranked higher than any so called "Baseball Experts" (BA, Baseball Prospectus etc...) in our own version of the Giants top-20 prospects for 2010. He played in low-A Augusta all year long, but hit .272 with 21 HR and led the Giants minor league system with 101 RBI. There are some flaws in his game though, as he does strikeout a lot (133 in 558 AB's), but more worrisome for the Giants is his defense at third base, where he committed 32 errors at in 2010. I haven't talked to anyone close enough to the Giants about him yet to see if they have a plan to move him to left field or possibly across the diamond to first base, but he's not cut out for third base. Fellow '09 draftee Thomas Joseph (2nd rounder) had a nice power year as well in Augusta (16 HR in 436 AB's), but his swing needs some work too, as evident of his 116 strikeouts and .236 batting average. I'm going to be watching these two guys' progress under a microscope in 2011.

Next post, barring any breaking Giants news, we'll take a gander at some of the happenings on the mound in the minors and the future pitching prospects for the club, which has been left a bit bare now that Madison Bumgarner has arrived for good in San Francisco.
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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Giants Staying Quiet in 'Series Aftermath

Bruce Bochy just missed winning NL Manager of the Year, and although Giants' fans were a little upset about it, nobody really cared too much. Why? They're still basking in the aftermath of their World Series victory.

Celebration time is winding down though, cause key dates are creeping up on us quicker than every body's used too. Like I said earlier in the postseason, since the Giants played a whole extra month, it's making this offseason go by very quickly. We're just 2 short weeks away from the arbitration deadline in which teams must choose to tender or non-tender their eligible players for 2011 contracts. The Giants themselves have quite a few key components to their World Series winning team eligible for raises. Those guys include Postseason hero Cody Ross, Andres Torres, Jonathan Sanchez, Postseason bullpen hero Javier Lopez and Santiago Casilla. I'm assuming all will be tendered contracts, so I wouldn't worry about any of them leaving the Giants, I'm just really curious to see what kind of numbers Jonathan Sanchez and Cody Ross will end up at. I think it would be best for the Giants to avoid arbitration and sign both Ross and Sanchez to 2 or 3 year deals. In arbitration, Ross could get $7-10 million and Sanchez could get even more, so I think it would be in the Giants' best interest to just give each a small multi-year deal. Maybe something like 2 years/$15 million for Ross. Sanchez is a pitcher, and left-handed, so he's a more complicated issue. On the free agent market today, Sanchez could get upwards of $12 million a year from somebody, so a 2 year, $12-15 million deal for him wouldn't look so bad considering.

The other important date, one just 10 days away on November 30th, is the last day in which the Giants can offer their own free agents arbitration. It will be interesting to see what they do with Huff and Uribe if neither are signed by then. I think they should offer it to Uribe, seeing that the market for middle infielders is so thin and there's a very good chance the Giants will lose him. Either way, it would be nice to see Sabean make some kind of noise to show us that he's still not off in Hawaii or Paris soaking in the Series' win. Normally Sabean tends to be one of the more active GM's earlier in the offseason, so it is strange to see him sit so quietly, even though the Giants did just win the Series.

GBB's MVP Picks: With the league MVP selections just around the corner, I wanted to put in my picks before anything went official.

AL MVP: Josh Hamilton, OF Texas: The dude hit .360 with power and run production while playing a gold glove cf while carrying the Rangers to playoffs for the first time in years. Take him off that Texas team and they're a .500 at best ballclub. With, they almost won a World Series.
2nd Place: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
3rd Place: Robinson Cano, New York

NL MVP: Joey Votto, OF Cincinnati: Can't really decide between him and Pujols so I can't wait to see who wins this one. I'll go with Votto just because he really carried that Reds team and they beat out the Cards in the Central.
2nd Place: Albert Pujols, St. Louis
3rd Place: Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Buster Wins Rookie of the Year

The 2010 Giants got another reason to celebrate Monday, as their rookie catcher Buster Posey officially won National League Rookie of the Year.

Posey's biggest challenger was Atlanta's Jayson Heyward, but Posey managed to edge him out. The advantage Heyward had going for him was that he played with the Braves all year long and was on the opening day roster, whereas Posey didn't arrive in San Francisco until the end of May. Still, Posey was a more valuable player in 2010 than Heyward, even with that considered. Heyward had a nice season, hitting .277 with 18 homers and 77 RBI supported by a solid .849 OPS in 142 ballgames. Posey hit .305 with 18 homers and 67 RBI to go along with a .869 OPS in his 108 games, so even in the lesser amount of games, Posey and Heyward's numbers are nearly identical, with the batting average being the one separator offensively. Heyward also had over double the amount of strikeouts than Posey as well. Defensively, obviously, you have to give the nod to Buster as well, as he play's the most demanding position in baseball, and did it beautifully in 2010 (kid probably has a gold glove in his future). Heyward is a nice defensive outfielder as well, but plays right field, the least demanding position on the field. Not to take anything away form Heyward whatsoever, he had a great year and is going to be a great ballplayer. However, Posey deserved the award in every facet this year, so you cannot argue against that, and I'd bet Bobby Cox even tell you the same thing.

This award comes right on the heels of Brain Sabean winning Baseball's Executive of the Year award too, so November just keeps getting better and better for the Giants. Bruce Bochy should be right in the thick of things as NL Manager of the Year as well (he'd win it hands down if postseason were counted). With the World Series Championship, and all these accolades coming the Giants way, the Giants become somewhat of a mainstream team, or as much of one as a West Coast team can be. For once, the Giants are the best team in baseball, and with their relaxed clubhouse atmosphere and an easy manager to play for, the rigorous hitting environment of AT&T Park may not be so bad. Heck, Aubrey Huff's 26 home run year should ease the minds of any potential left-handed hitters who may be on their way here... Regardless, San Francisco is the place to be for a ballplayer right now, hitter or pitcher! It's just a shame that there are only a few free agents out there this year that I'd consider multi-year deal worthy and one of them (Carl Crawford) just won't be an option.
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Giants Need Pablo Slim and Uribe Back

This Giants team achieved greatness in 2010, but if you told me the Giants would have won the World Series with their team MVP from 2009 riding the pine, I would have called you crazy.

The Giants offense managed to have success in the playoffs despite getting much of anything out of the guy they centered their offense around coming into the season. As Sandoval gained weight over the season, his batting average dropped, and it got to the point that he was benched in favor of Mike Fontenot for a while there to start the playoffs. Granted, his benching led to the eventual heavy playing load on Edgar Renteria, and we all know how well that turned out, so luckily it turned out for the Giants. Still, this team needs Sandoval to be "The Panda" again in 2011, as they face an unsure future on the left-side of their infield. I'm not sure the .330, 25, 95 Sandoval is the guy Giants fans should expect, but I'd say somewhere split between his '09 and '10 numbers would be sufficient (.290, 20, 85, .800+ OPS). Again though, the issue with Pablo isn't really his bat right now. Tony Gwynn was a hefty guy and he could rake, but Sandoval is being groomed to be a 3rd basemen, one of the quickest reflex positions in baseball, and they need him mobile. That becomes the case even more so if they decide to bring back Juan Uribe to play short in 2011, as Uribe's a good defensive player, but the one area in which he lacks is his range.

Speaking of Uribe, one of the Giants postseason hero's is apparently gaining some interest around the league as the Cardinals, among others, are inquiring about his services. The Giants should really focus on him right away cause there aren't may other shortstops out there. I'd give Uribe 2 years, as he's flexible enough to move around and will always have value, but other teams are going to be throwing big dollars at him to play short or second, and it could complicate things. A shortstop with steady hands, a good arm, 25 hr-a-year power and a knack for the clutch hit is a nice commodity. With the saturated first base marked, and the paper thin middle infield market, Uribe is going to be a much tougher sign than Aubrey Huff if the Giants are intent on bring both back. And, if the Giants aren't able to bring back Uribe to play short, things get pretty iffy after that. The next shortstop on the FA list is Cesar Izturis. Since Brandon Crawford isn't ready, the job would then probably fall to Emmanuel Burris barring any trades. For these reasons, among others, Uribe has all of the sudden become key for the Giants to re-sign. And with the ball fully in his court, it's time to see if team loyalty really does still exist.

Parade Pics: Click here this site for some pretty amazing photos of the Giants World Series Parade and celebration!
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Giants' Brass Gets Back to Work

The Giants have only been World Series Champs for a little over a week, but the front office has already gotten back into work mode and have plenty of big decisions looming.

Brian Sabean and Co. have a handful of players, many of which were very key in their championship run this year, who are set for free agency, or due hefty raises in arbitration, they now need to focus on. None bigger than the red-thong totting first basemen that really took to this team and carried it on his back all year long, Aubrey Huff. Also facing unsure futures are shortstops Juan Uribe, Edgar Renteria and left fielder Pat Burrell. Then there is postseason hero Cody Ross, who's in for a hefty raise on his $4.5 million paycheck in 2010, probably upwards of $7-8 million in '11. I'd like to see the Giants just ink him to a 2 year deal and get it done with. He's got the versatility to play all over the outfield and we've seen what he does in the clutch, he's a keeper. Also do for hefty raises in 2010 will be Javier Lopez, Santiago Casilla and Andres Torres. As far as the potential free agents go, I think Huff returning on a 2-year deal in the neighborhood of $12-15 million sounds pretty reasonable. I also think the Giants will really push to bring back Juan Uribe, and he's a fan favorite here and really likes it here, so I have a good feeling about that happening as well. Uribe very well could end up the Giants starting shortstop on opening day 2011 if that is indeed the case. As much as we all love Renteria for what he did in the playoffs, he's just no longer cut out to play shortstop 150 times a summer. If he took a part-time, bench/mentor job kinda like Omar Vizquel is doing in Chicago, then he definitely could have some value, it's just a question of whether or not he'd want to do that.

The Giants also have a big piece returning to their infield/outfield mix next year that they have to keep in mind as well. Mark DeRosa should be back to %100, and will likely be as hungry as ever in a contract year and after missing out on the majority of a championship season. I know many Giants fans weren't too thrilled with what he did up until his injury, but I'm telling you, I think this guy is in for a big 2011. My guess right now is the Giants let Burrell walk, let DeRosa take over in left, keep Torres in center and Ross in right with Schierholtz, and the very expensive Aaron Rowand as your 4th and 5th guys. Again, this is way early and all, but I think that could be a realistic, financially stable move. If DeRosa comes back to his career norm of 18-20 hr, .275 avg and 85 RBI, then the Giants would actually be getting an improvement over Burrell in the lineup and the field. The outfield market this winter isn't too deep, with Carl Crawford (who's well out of the Giants price range) and Jayson Werth (who's a Boras client, and really not much better than Cody Ross at about double cost). The Giants just don't have a whole lot of places to stick players right now if they do want to try keep their 2010 team intact and possibly add offense to it.

The one guy who's now available again, who always intrigues me because of the power and the willingness to take 1-2 year deal, is Adam Dunn. Yes, he's not a defensive player, but neither was Burrell, and we made it through a postseason with him out there. If they were to upgrade, just imagine adding Dunn to this lineup, that's if of course he'd come here. In that crazy scenario, they could put DeRosa back into his super-sub role that he's been so good at, allowing DeRosa to do what Uribe has done the last few years here. What makes that idea even more ideal is that DeRosa has the flexibility to play the outfield as well. Boch has no problems finding at bats for hitters who are hitting, so I know he'd figure out a way to get DeRosa his 500 ab's, even as a super-sub. Then you throw Dunn in between Torres, Sanchez, Posey, Huff, Ross, Sandoval and Uribe and now your talking some thump. Very similar to the lineup the Giants won the Series with, except Dunn is much, much more dangerous than Burrell and would really change the dynamic of the Giants lineup. Not married to the idea, as I've heard some un-pleasant things about Dunn's attitude in the past, but things like that don't tend to show up in San Francisco. Again, it's early in the offseason, so our brainstorming on the making of the 2011 Giants are still in the early stages. The great part about it this year though, is we get to talk about what they need to repeat and carry a dynasty, rather than what they need to win the measly old NL West. Giants fans expectations have risen, and the Giants' brass know it!
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Thursday, November 04, 2010

San Francisco Celebrates Giants' Championship

The City of San Francisco and every Giants fan across the globe got a chance to Celebrate with the team on Wednesday, as the Giants returned to San Francisco and celebrated their first ever World Series tittle with a ticker tape Parade through the city.

It was certainly a spectacle, as tens of thousands (possibly even hundreds) flooded the streets of San Francisco to watch the 2010 Champs stroll through downtown on Cable cars with parade tape reigning down from above! It was a fitting way to end what was a memorable run by the Giants here in 2010, and I think I speak for all Giants fans when I say, I could really get used to this. The feeling is still sort of sinking in for me, but I've had this perma-smile on my face ever since Brian Wilson struck out Nelson Cruz with that nasty cutter in on the hands. The Giants outplayed every team they faced in the playoffs, and they absolutely deserved the trophy. As most players made a point of saying in the post-series interview, this Giants' ballclub really was the definition of a professional "team". They played well together, they pulled for each other, there were no ego's involved and everybody had one goal in mind. When Pablo Sandoval lost his 3rd base job in the playoffs, he didn't pout, or whine or cop an attitude, rather he kept the big picture in mind and focused on any possible way he could help this team win a championship. Because of that mindset, the Giants seemed to have someone new coming through each win, especially in the playoffs, and you could tell by watching this team, that they believed in themselves.

Just look at all the different guys they had come through in October. Cody Ross was really the MVP offensively for the hole playoffs for the Giants. First, he put the Giants in the NLCS with a huge game 4 vs. Atlanta in the DS by putting the Giants on the board with a solo homer in the 6th before getting the eventual game-winning, RBI single in the top of the 7th. Then he started off with a bang in game in the NLCS with 2 big home runs off Roy Halladay and gave Tim Lincecum enough support to beat Halladay in that big game 1 victory in Philly. Ross stayed steady throughout the hole postseason and finished with a .295 average and a 1.076 OPS to go along with 5 jacks and 10 RBI, both of which led the Giants during the playoffs. Then there was Freddy Sanchez, and his 4-hit, 3-double performance in game 1 of the Series off Cliff Lee, as he was a huge part of that game 1 win. Juan Uribe was huge as well, with his most memorable playoff moment coming when he drove in the NLCS clinching run against the Phillies. Ohh yeah, then there was that shortstop named Renteria we all know what kind of impact he ended up having this October/November. Yeah, he was overpaid during his time here in San Francisco, but I don't think we'll ever hear anyone complaining about that deal again in these parts, as that one swing of his earned him every last penny of that deal in Giants fan's mind's.

Then there was the pitching; Madison Bumngarner (2-0, 2.18 era in 20.2 IP), Tim Lincecum (4-1, 2.43 era, 43 k's in 37 IP) and Matt Cain (2-0, 0.00 era, 1.60 BAA in 20.1 IP) were all brilliant and Jonathan Sanchez was a huge part of that series win over Atlanta with a big win. The bullpen started out a little slow against Atlanta, but after that, they buckled down and got the job done. Set-up man Javier Lopez, who was acquired from Pittsburgh during before the deadline, was arguably the most important arm (outside of that crazy closer) and I'm not quite sure the Giants cruise through Philly without him. He was Ryan Howard and Chase Utley's nightmare, then had success vs. Josh Hamilton in the Series. Santiago Cassilla and Jeremy Affeldt each had some big moments and were key in the pen's success as well. The big story in the Giants pen though centered around "The Beard" and I think Brian Wilson became a great closer in this postseason (and I don't use that term lightly). He occasionally made things interesting, but the dude was basically perfect in October (and the one day in November). He gave up 1 hit in game 2 vs. Atlanta after coming in with no outs during the 8th with the bases and almost got through it without surrendering the lead. Even though that particular blown save really wasn't his fault, it still went on record, and I think that kind of fired him up. After that, Wilson was nails, going 9.2 strong innings allowing just 4 hits while striking out 13, capped off by the memorable inside cutter that got Nelson Cruz swinging and put the Giants on top of the world.

Another special part about this World Series win for San Francisco, was that all the players and management really made a point to dedicate this championship to the great Giants' players over their tenure in San Francisco. From guys like Bobby Bonds, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, all the way up to J.T. Snow, Barry Bonds, Will Clark, Jeff Kent, Rod Beck, Rob Nen, Kirk Rueter, Noah Lowry, Russ Ortiz, Matt Williams, Robby Thompson, Rich Aurillia and many, many more. There were many great ballplayers who dawned a Giants uni for multiple seasons who just couldn't quite reach their ultimate goal. To a lot of Giants fans, it felt like all of those guys just win the World Series too, and I'm sure in some ways those guys felt some since of victory as well. I thought that was really cool... Now, like Buster Posey said at the Parade celebration, let's enjoy this for a couple of weeks, they prepare to do it all over again next year, as I'm sure we can all get use to this!

Giants Notes:
Well, normally at this time, I'd be talking hot stove and be eagerly waiting for some Giants news, but I'd much rather keep talking on-field baseball throughout October like I did and that was really a treat. However, the games are now done, and the business part is already taking place as the Giants declined World Series MVP Edgar Renteria's $9.5 million option for 2011. That comes as no surprise as Edgar isn't even sure that he'll be returning in 2011 and if he does, it will likely be in a back-up role. The Giants also have some key decisions coming up with some other free agents, and we'll start getting into that in our next post.
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Monday, November 01, 2010

They Did It! Giants Win World Series

Well Giants fans, it's time to officially go crazy, as the San Francisco Giants are World Champs for the first time in history! Tim Lincecum was brilliant in a fitting end to a great run by the Giants, as they defeated Texas 4 games to 1.

There's not too much I can say right now, as I want to join the rest of the Giants' brethren in celebrating this thing, but how professional is Edgar Renteria and how nails was Timmy? Edgar, with the torn biceps muscle and all, just lit up Texas pitching in this series to win himself the MVP. And Timmy, well, Giants fans are well aware of this kids moxie by now, and that Game 5 start by Lincecum showed everyone in the world just how dominant this kid is! Every Giants fan on the face of the planet watched the game, so that's all I really have to say right now!!! This bunch has been amazing to follow, write about and cover, and I've been waiting for this moment since my first Giants' letdown after that heartbreaking end to the 1993 season.... We'll have much, much more on this series and the recap to the Giants memorable 2010 season in the coming days, but right now, it's time to celebrate and enjoy this, cause this is truly a once in a lifetime event, and what a way to celebrate out 5th anniversary here at The Giants Baseball Blog!
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