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Friday, December 31, 2010

"Giant" 2010 Comes to a Close

Well, with how things were looking at this point last year, I would have called you crazy if you would have told me the Giants would have become World Champs in the 2010 season, and as good as this year was to the Giants, all good things must come to an end. 2010 is in it's waning moments, bringing an end to the Giants memorable run in 2010, but also indicating we're only about 6 weeks away from starting it all up again, and this time, I think Giants fans will be ready for anything.

2010 was up-and-down year for the Orange and Black for much of the first half of the season, and even through a lot of the 2nd half, but as they often say in regards to a Baseball team especially, the regular season is a marathon and it's not how you start, it's how you finish. The Giants finished the year off strong, and cruised right the playoffs, without having to force any series' the full 5 or 7 games, and that's something we can never forget. Not only did the Giants win the World Series this year, they dominated the postseason with that pitching and clutch hitting, and showed you exactly why pitching and defense can prevail, when you have just enough offense. For the first time in their San Francisco tenure, the Giants will enter a year and a season in which they'll have the targets on their backs, at least for the NL teams, and after the quick and precise early offseason planning by Brian Sabean and Co., they have already put themselves in position as NL West favorites, and right now, there really isn't a team in the NL that I think can take the Giants in a postseason series.

Now, that all is moot unless the Giants make the playoffs, which they have to focus on first. As I said, right now, it seems like all NL West teams, outside of the Giants, are scrambling a bit as the offseason winds down. The Padres are nowhere near the team that they were in 2010, and the Dodgers seem to lose somebody important every time they add someone of significance, so they just seem to keep running in place. The one wild-card this division still has though are those darn Rockies, who got Jorge De La Rosa back to keep their rotation in place and have an plethora of young hitters throughout the roster, an area where they have the Giants beat. As good as Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt have the potential to be, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez are MVP-caliber ballplayers and have already established themselves at this level. Still though, right now, I think the Giants are an all-around deeper ball-club than Colorado, and still have the upper hand in the pitching department, by far. And again, there's still about a 7 weeks left before teams report to Florida and Arizona for Spring, and there are a lot of admirable free agents still out there. Sabean has said the Giants are still actively seeking a left-handed hitting outfielder, a infielder with versatility and strong defense up the middle, and possibly another starting pitcher/long reliever candidate to add some depth to the rotation, so stay tuned!

I hope everyone has a happy and safe New Year, and then time to go repeat in 2011!
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Giants Staying Quiet for Holidays

Ever since their flurry of moves at the end of November that really put a shape to their team, the Giants have been extremely quiet on the player transaction front.

After re-signing Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell, then obtaining Miguel Tejada to take over at short, Brian Sabean and co. have stood pat as they decide whether or not to add to what they've already constructed here. It's no secret that Sabean was seeking another infielder, one who could handle shortstop seamlessly. They made an offer to World Series hero Edgar Renteria (who has apparently decided he'll be playing again in 2011 after all) of $1 million to come caddy Miggy at short, but Renteria was "offended and hurt" by what he deemed was a low-ball offer from a team he helped win the Series. As I've said many times here, I'll never forget what Renteria did for this club in October/November this past season, and I will always have a fondness for him, but for him to get so upset at a real reasonable offer kind of disturbs me. Burrell is much more important to the Giants 25-man roster than Renteria would be, and he accepted the hometown, $1M gladly and I'm very surprised Edgar didn't do the same thing. Let's face it, Edgar Renteria made way more from the Giants in '09-'10 than his actual value to the team was. The dude made nearly $20 million over those 2 seasons, and was essentially a non-factor until the postseason this year. He should be darn grateful he was able to rake in that type of cash because had he been a free agent after the 2009 season, he would have been lucky to make 1/4 of what he did in 2010. Long story short, I don't think Renteria will get much more than $1M from anyone else, and after all the money he's made from the Giants, the right move on his end would have been to accept that deal.

As far as the Giants competitors down south, the Padres just pulled off a few moves that now make me wonder a bit why they dealt Adrian Gonzalez when they did. They got Jason Bartlett (who's going to make roughly $5-6M in 2011) for practically nothing from Tampa Bay, then added Orlando Hudson on a 2-year, $11.5 million deal. After the Gonzalez trade, I figured they were entering full-blown rebuild mode, but now they've just added two veterans who have the capability to be all-star caliber players. If A-Gone was still a Padre, and they would have been able to add the players they just added, they would have been a threat to the Giants next year, but now they look like a team going in two different directions. With that up-and-coming staff and dominant bullpen, they could have made some noise in '11 with Gonzalez, but luckily for the Giants, that won't be the case. One of the Padres' new acquisitions, Jason Bartlett, could have been a nice add for the Giants, especially after seeing what they parted with to get him. Not sure he would have taken kindly to playing 2nd fiddle to Tejada at short and he would be quite an expensive pine-rider for a team that already has $12 million sitting in one bench player. Tejada's natural spot is at short as well, but his range has declined massively, and I don't think he's a guy who can be counted on playing 150+ full games at shortstop, so they have to get someone else, or the Fontenot/Buriss duo has to step up. Again, I like the prospect of Cesar Izturis' glove and pinch-run abilities, but he's a Neifi Perez clone at the plate.

*Blog Note: Happy Holidays from The Giants Baseball Blog to you and your loved ones. Barring any big Giants news such as player additions/trades, we likely won't be posting again until after Christmas, so tune back on the 26th as we start preparing for the 2011 season! And as a gift for any true Giants fan, and as a way to remember the 2010 season and the memorable playoff run for ever, we suggest you get the Giants World Series DVD brought to you by Shout Factory, and Congratulations to those of you who won our 3 copies as a token for being such loyal readers!
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rowand and Renteria Talk

Edgar Renteria was a huge part of the Giants' success in October/Novemeber last season and he showed he still can bring some positive traits to a ballclub, even when he's not playing. However, his days as a starter are long gone and he'll have to accept a utility role if he decides to stick around.

The Giants apparently wanted him back in that role, but he said no to a one-year, $1 million deal that would have put him back in his comfort zone and back with a contender. He supposedly wants to go to Florida or St. Louis, but I don't know many GM's who are going to offer Renteria much more than a million bucks to come ride the pine for them. I think the Giants are his best bet. The same cannot be said for the Giants though, in my opinion. There are better, more versatile infielders out there who could come in just as cheaply as Renteria. I know Orlando Cabrera isn't exactly a guy who jumps out at you, but check his track record, and look at all the winners he's played. He plays better defense than Edgar and would be more adept at moving over to 2nd base or even filling in at 3rd than Renteria if need be. Now, I'm not even sure Cabrera would take a back-up/part-time role, but with a winner like the Giants, he may consider it. Then, again, the other name who I've thrown out so many times this winter is Cesar Izturis. He's not quite the offensive player Cabrera is, but he's Omar Vizquel-like with the leather, and I'm quite sure Giants fans would become fond of watching him come in late in games for Tejada to sure up the defense. Felipe Lopez is another, 30-or-under guy, although not a groomed SS, who can play all over and has produced in the past. So, in short, if Edgar is shrugging off a million bucks to come caddy Tejada at short and be a clubhouse leader, then thanks for the memories cause I sure wouldn't cater to his demands.

Onto the next rumor that I found floating around the internet over the last 24 hours; the Aaron Rowand to Chicago for Kosuke Fukudome. First off, I didn't really think much off of it, probably some random internet rumor started by a bored Chicago Cubs amateur blogger. Then, I did start to think a bit. This would actually be a tremendous move for San Fran if if they could swing it. Heck, I'd even throw in another prospect to get it done and here is why:

*First and foremost, Fukudome is a free-agent after the 2011 season whereas Rowand is on bored until after 2012.

*Contract wise, Fukudome's due $13.5 in '11 and Rowand's due $24 over the next two. That would probably mean the Giants would have to eat at least half of Rowand's '12 salary, which still isn't a such a bad case right now.

*The Cubs could use a center fielder to allow them to move Marlyn Byrd to RF where he'd be one of the better defensive RF'ers in the league.

*The Giants get their 4th outfielder and left-handed option behind Pat Burell in left, and a helluva defensive one at that (yes, better then Scheirholtz). I mean face it, Aaron Rowand will never be a starter on the Giants again and at $12 million over the next 2 years, that's one expensive pine-rider. Not too mention, Wrigley Field is nice on right handed hitters, and I could definitely see Rowand getting back on track there. It's not a likely scenerio, but the more I investigate it, the more it starts to make some since. Rowand would allow Byrd to move to a corner spot, and Fukudome could come in and be the 4th outfielder with the Giants. Just as long as the Giants aren't on the hook for all of Rowand's 2012 salary, that's the key objective of that trade scenerio.

Now, the negative on Fukudome is that he's got very little power (check his stats while playing in the hitter friendly Wrigley Field), and that would further dissipate at AT&T. What pop he did possess declined mightily since coming to the States. Still, overall, I see Fukudome as more flexible and a better defensive player who would give the Giants a left-handed bat they need on the bench. Again, it all comes back to whether or not the Giants could do the deal without having to cover Rowand's full $13 million salary in 2012. I think both could use a change of scenery, so if the money squares out, why not pull the trigger, and I'm speaking for both clubs. I don' t know, it's just my opinion, but does anyone here actually see Rowand reverting to pre-'07 form in San Franc, cause I sure don't. And how ugly would it be if Rowand stays on the bench while raking in $12 million in '11? Bochy said at the winter meetings that Rowand has re-focused his off-season plan so hopefully improvement is on the way. If not, and they don't trade him, we're looking at a $12M fourth outfielder. Not saying I expect a Fukudome/Rowand trade to go down, I doubt it will, just stating the positives for each party.

*NOTE: I apologize for the random, wacky spelling (which has since been fixed) in the originally posted article, I typed this post on a computer I wasn't familiar with and it did auto-fill in a weird, non-english technique and didn't allow spell check or pictures... It's all fixed now though as you can see... Thanks for barring with us and keep coming back for up-to-the-minute Giants jargon off-season coverage, all winter long.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Giants Minor League Review: Pitching

A couple weeks back, we started out 2010 Minor League Review by taking a look at some of the top hitters in the system from 2010. Now, since the Giants have quieted down over the last week, and with not much new to talk about on regarding possible free agent or trade targets, I figured I'd use today's post to finish off our 2010 Minor League pitching review.

Contrary to years past, the Giants actually have more promising young hitters in their system right now than they do pitchers. Their top prospect heading into 2011 will be first basemen Brandon Belt, who should be one of BA's top-20 as well. However, after Belt, there is a huge fall-off in terms of Major League ready prospects, both on the pitching front and the positional front. There are some young hitters who have upside like Thomas Neal, Francisco Peguero and Brandon Crawford, and you can read the report on them here, but as far as young arms, they no longer have that Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum or Madison Bumgarner waiting in the wings like they've had in years past. Their top pick from 2009's draft, Zach Wheeler, did OK in his first full year as a pro in 2010, but was far from spectacular, and made nowhere near the splash Bumgarner and Lincecum did when they first arrived. In 21 games (13 starts), Wheeler sported a 3-3 record with a 3.99 era. He threw 58.4 innings and allowed 47 hits while walking 38, good for a WHIP of 1.45. Granted, Wheeler wasn't 100% healthy, but in comparison to Bumgarner's first professional year at Augusta (15-3, 1.46 era, 164 K's in 141 IP in '08), Wheeler isn't even close. I was a little skeptical of the pick when they made it, I wanted either Alex White or Tyler Matzek, who have both started out very well with their respective clubs (as well as RHP Mike Leake, who's already a staple in the Red's rotation). That said, I still have high hopes for Wheeler, and I'm very confident that he'll have a big 2011 to put himself right back on radar. No matter what, I don't really see him making an appearance in SF until at least 2012.

Other than Wheeler, the Giants don't have any real national-known pitching talent know that Bumgarner has arrived in SF. I'd say the second best pitching prospect behind Wheeler at this point would be 23 year-old lefty Eric Surkamp (6th rounder from '08) who had a decent. Surkamp followed up a nice 2009 season with a solid start to 2010 in San Jose (4-2, 3.11 ERA, 108 k's in 101 IP) before going down with injury. Another young kid who made a nice impression in 2010 was 20 year-old rightie Jorge Bucardo. The kid dominated Low-A Augusta (9-4, 2.21 era, 95:33 K/BB ratio) before moving up to San Jose where he didn't fair quite as well, but still showed good signs. Othen than those guys, David Mixon shined in 2010 but it's tough to consider him a top-prospect cause of his age. Hacker, however, is the one guy right now who would probably be next in line for the Giants if one of their 5 starters were to go down, and that's the reason Sabean is searching for possible 6th starter candidates.

Big League Notes: The Vegas MLB Spread is already starting to compile, and for once, finally, the Giants have gotten some national attention. If you were to bet today, Vegas has the Giants as the 4th most likely club to win the World Series behind Boston, New York and Philadelphia. Not that this makes a difference in their actual chances whatsoever, just pointing out how an actual West Coast team is considered a legit possible 'Series contender. I guess that's what dominating the previous postseason will do for you.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Sanchez Has Surgery, Again

Freddy Sanchez finally started to show what he can do for a team when he's healthy with a nice 2nd half and solid performance in the playoffs, but once again, the Giants fragile 2nd basemen has gone under the knife.

Sanchez had surgery on his left-shoulder to remove a bad tendon, a procedure identical to the one he underwent last winter. That one, he had later on the in the offseason though, and it kept him on the DL until late May. The Giants are hoping he'll be ready for opening day after the operation was deemed successful, but they are expecting him to be behind in his spring training work, and may not get into many Cactus League games. That said, Brian Sabean said Tuesday night that the Giants would not be pursuing 2nd basemen in the free agent market, and that Mike Fontenot and Mark DeRosa would cover for Sanchez if he did miss any regular season time. Although this news may not require him to go after another second basemen, I think it's pretty clear now that the Giants want to add to their infield depth by getting someone who's familiar at shortstop and they've apparently targeted a few guys. They've expressed interest in free agent Orlando Cabrera, and have also talked to the Tigers about utility infielder Ramon Santiago. Both of those guys are better defenders than Tejada, and would be fine additions to the bench. Santiago has a little more versatility, but I Cabrera has started all his career, and regardless of the age difference, I think he's a better all around player.

The Giants are also in the market for another starting pitcher, not a big named guy like Cliff Lee or anything, but someone who they could use like they did Todd Wellemeyer last year, as a spot starter/long relief option (they're calling it a "6th starter"), and I don't think that's such a bad idea. As solid as the Giants starting rotation is, they don't have a bunch of depth in that area as of now. If somebody were to go down with injury, the Giants wouldn't have a clear-cut option who could come in and start games for them right out of the chute. Former Marlin lefty Andrew Miller visited the Giants' suite at the meetings last night, so he could be a realistic target for Sabean to fill that role, but I was hoping for someone a little better than Miller. Kevin Corriea wouldn't have been a bad option, but he just signed with Pittsburgh. Jarrod Washburn, Jeromy Bonderman and Jeff Francis could all be viable options for that role as well if they're willing to accept a relief job out of the gate. I don't think the Giants should invest a lot of money into this, but I do think it's necessary given the lack of depth after their starting 5.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Monday, December 06, 2010

Day One of Meetings Goes Quietly

With the flurry of action on the hot-stove market we've seen over the last week, I'm not too surprised that the Winter Meetings got off to a quiet start Monday in Florida.

I really didn't expect anything too earth shattering to take place just days after the Adrian Gonzalez trade to Boston, and hours after Jayson Werth was given "Barry Zito Money" to play in Washington over the next 7 years, especially on the Giants front. As I said in the previous post here, the Giants could enter the 2011 season tomorrow and be in good shape, so a move on their part is not at all imminent. That said, Brian Sabean gave warning to the press before hand that the Giants "would not be stagnant" during these meetings, and apparently he still is searching for help outside of the organization. Again though, after Burrell and Huff re-signed, and with Tejada now on board to play shortstop, the Giants are running out of roster space. The area I think Sabean is looking into now is depth at shortstop for this team. Outside of the 36 year-old Tejada, and Mike Fontenot, who's been a career-long 2nd basemen, the Giants don't have any other options at shortstop. Right now, Fontenot is penciled in to be the main back-up, but I don't think the Giants are content on that situation and will be looking to upgrade. Fontenot is most comfortable as a 2nd/3rd basemen, a role Mark DeRosa will fill in 2011, so if the Giants can find a better defensive option in the infield, they should take it.

Speaking of DeRosa, he could be in for some major playing time at third base in 2011 too if Pablo Sandoval cannot get back on track. I'm not too worried about Pablo right now, as he appears determined to get back to his pre-2010 form, and I think he's ready to take his conditioning very seriously as Bochy explained during his interview at the meetings on Monday. I don't think Giants fans should expect a return to the 2008/'09 version of "The Panda" in '11, but if he can get his confidence back, he should be a steady .300 hitter with power in run production. Maybe not 25 HR/92 RBI like in 2009, but at least 20/85 consistently. However, the Giants can't depend on that, and if he enters 2011 the same way he exited 2010, then they will need DeRosa, or Tejada, over at third. So, the Giants do have a few options who could play 3rd base, but again, they don't have many guys who can play up the middle. If Sabean does add to the positional roster during the next few days, something tells me it will be to acquire a middle infielder.

Werth/Berkman/Burrell Comparison
: After seeing the contracts that Lance Berkman (1 yr/$8M from Stl.) and now Jayson Werth (7/$126M from Wash.), how good does the Pat Burrell, $1M deal for 2011 looking now!? Burrell has a better year than Berkman in 2010, yet Lance will be bringing in 8-times the money Burrell will. I'd say Burrell is closer to Werth's value than Berkman's value to a team, and look at the money that Werth just got from Washington! I think Pat Burrell at 1 year and $1 Million guaranteed has to be considered as one of the "steals of the offseason" so far.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Friday, December 03, 2010

Giants In Good Position, Now What?

Now that Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff are back in orange and black, and the Giants have acquired Miguel Tejada to play shortstop, whatever Sabean does at this point will be just adding to the Giants' depth chart.

So, what's next for the Giants now that the Giants appear to have a usable lineup already on roster, as well as a stock full pitching staff? The Winter Meetings are just days away, yet the Giants have already done most of their work, and now that Adam Dunn is off the table, I don't see anyone out there in the Giants price range who could really come in and make a difference on this team. Sabean is apparently still active and looking for ways to upgrade the offense, but I just don't really see what they can do at this point. I'm still thinking a back-up shortstop could be on-tap, but the Giants tendered Mike Fontenot a contract for 2011, which would seem to indicate he's their back-up at this juncture. They've supposedly had talks about bringing Edgar Renteria back to caddy Tejada at short (though I don't really see that happening), but they're running out of roster space now. The only guys they non-tendered were Chris Ray and Eugenio Velez, and they have plans on bringing back all the rest of their arbitration eligible players. Their 40-man is about full, and they could already assemble a 25-man roster nearly identical to the one that won the tittle just 1 month ago, so yeah, I'd say they're in pretty good shape for December 3rd.

I was hoping somebody intriguing would become available among the non-tenders, but since the Giants are set at catcher (Russel Martin non-tendered by Dodgers) and the bullpen (Bobby Jenks and Hideki Okajima to name a few), there weren't many new options that opened up for this team via the non-tenders. That said, there was one outfielder who caught my eye when glancing over the free agent list again, who may catch Sabean's interest under the right terms. That player is Brad Hawpe. The 31 year-old Hawpe was basically an all-star caliber right fielder with Colorado up until last year, and his numbers weren't Coors Field-inflated at all (very similar road stats in career). I don't know if he's a Boras client, but if he's not, he probably could be had on a 1-year deal, just like Tejada and Burrell got, and he's coming of a year exactly like Aubrey Huff was in 2009. Hawpe could be a nice 4th outfielder/left-handed platoon option for Burrell/DeRosa in left field, but that would either mean Aaron Rowand would have to be dealt, or, more likely, it would cost Nate Schierholtz his roster spot. I like Nate, but if he's right, Hawpe is by far the superior hitter. I'm pretty sure they're out of options with Travis Ishikawa. If they do still hold an option on one of them, they realistically could put one in Fresno to start the year just to see how things fall into place. That's if they're intent on finding another bat, but again, at this point, they don't have to do anything, and that's a great position to be in.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

"The Bat" Returns on One-Year Deal

Giants fans who were waiting to see if Pat Burrell would follow Juan Uribe out of town, or stay put with Aubrey Huff and take the hometown discount, got their answer sooner than expected. The Giants announced a one-year pact with 34 year-old left fielder Wednesday evening, bringing Burrell's right-handed bat back to the roster for 2011.

He'll be making a fraction of the $9 million he made from Tampa Bay last season, I'm thinking closer to the $3-4 million range, and because it's a one year "discounted deal" as Baggs calls it, it's really tough to complain. If the Giants didn't get Burrell when they did last year, it's arguable that they don't even make the playoffs, let alone win the Series, so if you don't think this guy was big for this team, check again. He faded big time in the World Series, and couldn't hit the broadside of a barn, but the guy came up with big hit after big hit in the second half and early October. Burrell hit .266 with 18 HR, 55 RBI and a .876 OPS after arriving in San Francisco in early June, and he wasn't even a full-timer until July. Basically, he put those numbers up in half a season (289 at-bats) and you stretch that out to 400-500 at-bats like he'll get in 2011 if he's healthy, and you get some pretty nice numbers. Now, he may not even be starting come April, and could be very well be the team's fourth outfielder, or at least sharing some at-bats with Mark DeRosa. I don't think Sabean is done, and will try and add at least one more bat to this lineup somewhere. This market is deep with first basemen still, and if Sabean adds somebody at there, it could push Huff to left. Again though, I'm sure Burrell and the Giants talked about this and have some sort of arrangement in mind either way. Whether he's a part-timer, or getting full-time at-bats, your not going to get much more bang for your buck as far as power hitters go in this free-agent market.

As Hank Schulman wrote Wednesday night after the deal, this signing really opens the door for Sabean, and come Thursday night after the non-tender deadline, the Giants should have all kinds of options. They're entering the meat of the offseason in very good shape with a lot of work done already. They still have to hammer out deals with their own arbitrationers like Cody Ross, Jonathan Sanchez, Andres Torres, Javier Lopez and Santiago Casilla, but outside of that, I like where things are headed. Sabean could still add a first basemen, or a left-fielder, and I'm almost certain he'll bring in another, more defensive-minded shortstop to caddy Tejada. He also could do nothing at all and they'd be in fine shape to start the year (remember, Brandon Belt isn't too far away).

*NOTES: Burrell's deal apparently guarantees him just $1 Million, plus incentives, in 2011, and that makes this deal even more of a no-brainer (I was hoping for no higher than $3M). I mean, that's cheap for a veteran 5th outfielder or backup catcher, let-alone a guy who could start in left and hit 30 home runs for you. As I said in the post, your not going to get more bang for your buck than what Sabean just got with Burrell... Also just getting news that Adam Dunn is signing with the White Sox to a 4 year, $56 million deal. Makes a lot of sense for both, Dunn's a very AL-type player and should thrive in Chicago. The Sox will definitely be getting their money's worth if you ask me though, as Dunn's a machine and a sure thing for 40 HR/100 RBI each year, and you just don't find many of those guys around these days.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________