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Monday, November 28, 2011

Giants Slowly Assessing Free Agency

We're nearly into December, which tends to be the most active month of the player movement season in baseball, and the Giants have been extremely quiet since their Jonathan Sanchez/Melky Cabrera swap early in the month. However, I do expect things to take off here in the next couple of weeks with anticipated Winter Meetings starting up on December 5th.

Once the Meetings start, we're certain to see a flurry of moves and things start to fall into place, but I must say how surprised I am at the lack of movement early on so far. All the elite talents are still available and normally the dominoes don't fall until those guys sign. One domino who may be out of the Giants mix in 2012 is 2010 NLCS MVP, Cody Ross. The Giants failed to offer Ross arbitration before last weeks deadline, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the end of the road for Cody in the orange and black. Ross has expressed on numerous occasions that he wants to return and I believe him. His injury early then the rough stretch in July and August really weighed down his year. He did manage to get right and end on a good note, hitting .310 with 4 homers and 10 RBI in the final 13 games. Not to mention, the longer the offseason goes on without the Giants adding to their outfield dept, the better chance Cody Ross has at becoming a large part of it again in 2012, even if he's not a full-time starter. I personally think that if the Giants could improve their outfield to the point where Ross and Torres could be their 4th and 5th outfielders, that would be ideal, then use Ross like a younger, better defensive version of Pat Burrel. I would have no qualms about rolling with Schierholtz in right with Ross caddying, as long as they put a thumper out in left. (Carlos Beltran continues to make the most since for this team!)

If you look at this team on paper right now though, they aren't overly impressive, and it's not just starting players they're missing either. Not only are the corner outfield spots un-determined and questions surrounding shortstop and 2nd base, this team needs to add depth this winter as well. According to Fox Sports, the most recent name linked to the Giants in terms of utility guys is someone who could bring real value to this team in a number of ways in Jerry Hairston Jr. Not only does Hairston posses a streaky bat with pop and decent speed, the dude can play 6 positions on the field and plays all of them surprisingly well. When you think of an ideal utility infielder, Hairston is the guys that comes to mind pretty quickly and I think it would be great to have a guy like that support Sanchez in his return as well as insurance for Crawford and Sandoval. It would be wise of Sabean, if at all possible, to also obtain more of a natural shortstop to have in the mix too just in case Crawford tanks. Hairston can spot start and would be fine if they got him, but I was thinking more along the lines of a Ryan Theriot (depending on whether he's non-tendered). Another reason why the Giants probably haven't yet added a utility infielder or catcher yet is because they want to see the list of players that get non-tendered by the December 12th deadline. So if your waiting for baseball's hot stove to heat up, especially on the Giants front, you'll be waiting no more come early December. Time to stay glued to the MLB Network!

Up Next: 2012 Projected 25-man roster: Barring a big announcement or personnel move involved with the team, we'll be getting our first of two roster projections for next years Giants. It's still early in the offseason, but we always like to put up a roster prediction before December and the winter meetings, then look back in spring training and see how much we missed by. Again, the Projections will be based on players available that I believe the Giants and Brian Sabean would pursue. It is not necessarily the way I'd search for players or fill out my roster is I were in charge, just the way I see the Giants rounding out due to budget, players available, and positional needs.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Potential Fifth Starters for SF to Consider

After dealing Jonathan Sanchez away earlier this offseason, it opened up a spot in the Giants starting rotation. Barry Zito currently holds the spot, but the Giants haven't exactly give him a vote of confidence or made any kind of guarantee to him and could very well be assessing some free agent starters.

We all know that the team's top priority in free agency is to shore up their outfield and add some depth to their shortstop position, but one thing I think they're doing behind the scenes so to speak, is exploring some of mid-level starting pitcher options. After the success the Giants had with Ryan Vogelsong in 2011, they could find themselves again scraping the barrell for depth in their rotation, and there are a surprising amount of effective starters out on the market. Obviously they don't need to get in on the top guys like C.J. Wilson and Roy Oswalt, but this market is deep with 2nd-tiere starters who could fit very well at the end of a rotation. Javier Vazquez would be awesome for a year, but he's going to get $10 million or to keep playing and the Giants don't need to spend that kind of money on a pitcher. So the first name that pops up on the list is former Athletic, Rich Harden. The 30 year-old's injury history will likely limit him to a 1-year deal, and if someone gets Harden on an incentive-laden contract, they'll get a steal. I was secretly hoping for the Giants to add him during the waiver-trade period when he was placed on waivers and they needed a starter, but it never happened. Imagine a healthy Harden behind Timmy, Cain, Bumgarner and Vogey! He's probably the most talented of the 2nd-tiere starters and is also the youngest. The 2nd name that comes up is Chris Capuano, who had a terrific rebound season for the Mets last year. Capuano threw 186 innings with 168 K's and a 4.55 era with New York last season, although his 27 home runs allowed needs to drop.

After Capuano and Harden, I might look at Aaron Harang. The former Reds ace had a very nice comeback year with the Padres in 2011 after his era ballooned to 5.32 in 2010. Harang went 14-7 with a 3.64 era in 28 starts for San Diego in '11, and really took advantage of throwing in the pitcher friendly confines of Petco Park. He went 8-5 with 3.05 era at home, and I could envision the same success at AT&T Park if he were to pitch half his games here. Again, these aren't guys who are guaranteed successes, but based on the 2011 season they had, and the type of contract they'll likely receive, they all could be cheap alternatives to entering 2012 with Barry Zito as the fifth starter and nobody behind him. It's inevitable that somebody in the rotation will have to miss some time next year, and right now, the teams 6th starter is Eric Surkamp, who showed he still has plenty of developing to do before he can be counted on. As for guys coming off injury, Erik Bedard, Paul Maholm and Ben Sheets are a few who, if healthy, are mid-rotation arms in a good rotation. However, Bedard and Maholm will likely get more money elsewhere, while Sheets may be too big of a risk at anything more than a deal packed with incentives. If Sheets can throw though, and would take a one year deal to prove himself, San Francisco is certainly an appealing spot to go pitch.

Shortstop Update: The Giants made an effort to get Clint Barmes to play shortstop with Brandon Crawford and even offered him more money, but the Pirates offered him the exclusive shortstop duties which sold him. Barmes was intriguing because he has some pop, hits right-handed and is an outstanding defender up the middle. Now middle infielders are signing like crazy, and I just hope Sabean stays smart. By that I mean steering clear of Yuniesky Betancourt and Alex Gonzalez, who are both right up Sabes' ally (black holes in terms of OBP). The one vet coming off a less than stellar year, who I wouldn't be opposed to signing under the right terms is Rafael Furcal. His bat awoke for St. Louis after the trade while showing his value on defense and would be fine in a platoon situation with Crawford for a year and $4-6 million. Ryan Theriot could be an option to if he's non-tendered next month.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Beltran Still Makes Most Sense for Giants

With the Giants continuing their search for outfield help after acquiring Melky Cabrera earlier this month, they have to keep circling back to Carlos Beltran, as he still remains the best fit for the Giants outfield.

We just talked about Beltran possibly heading to Boston in our last post, and Brian Sabean has already gone on record as saying that Beltran would likely be out of the Giants price range. However, despite rumors of him close to signing in Boston, the fact that it hasn't happened yet could signal that he's still keeping his options open at this time. He fits so well with the Giants for a couple of reasons, one of which his contract demands aren't actually that outrageous. He's apparently looking for a 2-3 year deal and it's not like he tore it up so much in 2011 that he's going to command a huge annual salary. In this market, where mediocre players are getting multi-year deals, Beltran at 2 years and $15 million per season doesn't look so bad. Not to mention, if they miss out on Beltran, they're almost assuredly going to sink that money into another corner outfielder, and Beltran is the best one on the market. Another big reason why he fits so well here is because he's a switch hitter and effective from both sides of the plate, which really helps out the middle of the lineup. The Giants need another good hitter to go with Sandoval and Posey in the middle and Beltran is really the ideal fit. I know signing Beltran comes at a risk with his balky knees, but he showed me with his finish in 2011 that he can still put up big numbers in a hurry and his 5.7 WAR still proves his value. If he were asking for 4 years and $60M+, then no, but the fact is he just fired Scott Boras, and isn't asking for the moon.

The names after Beltran when talking corner outfielders is less than inspiring. Other names out there who would be cheaper options over Beltran, but also much less effective hitters, include Ryan Ludwick, Jason Kubel, Cody Ross and Grady Sizemore. Now compare the 2011 seasons between those guys and Beltran and again, you'll being realizing that Beltran on a 2-3 year contract isn't a bad option. I don't see them going after anyone else who will cost a whole lot of money, so money shouldn't be too much of an issue. They could be saving that money for a shortstop, but it won't be Jose Reyes, and I'd personally rather roll with Crawford at short and spend the money on Beltran than give Jimmy Rollins a 3-4 year deal. Then there's the fact the Giants dealt away their top prospect just a few months ago to acquire this guy, and they probably did so thinking they at least had a shot at retaining Beltran after the season. At the same time, the Giants are telling everyone who will listen that they're main goal this offseason is the secure their own players who are scheduled to hit free agency over the next few years. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain have been the most talked about, but there's also Pablo Sandoval, Brian Wilson and Buster Posey, who are all in line for big raises in the near future. They need to be careful with their money right now, no question, but they still need a bat and Beltran is their best option.

40-Man Roster Notes
: The Giants made some organizational moves Friday, assigning a few key minor leaguers to their 40-man roster and protecting them for the upcoming Rule 5 draft. Among the names added to the roster was former top-prospect Angel Villalona. If you remember, the 21 year-old was the focus of a murder investigation in the Dominican Republic. The charges have since been dropped though, and the Giants will be retaining Villalona and inserting him back into their system this spring. This is a big move for the organization, as they'll be getting back a bright young hitter who's just 21 and was one of the teams top prospects before the incident. I'd expect Villalona to start off in San Jose in 2012, and hopefully he puts the last two years behind him.... Other notable prospects added to the 40-man was outfielder Roger Kieschnick, infielder Charlie Culberson and reliever Hector Correa.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rumors Swirling Around San Francisco

While the Giants haven't done anything of note since their trade for Melky Cabrera earlier this month, it hasn't stopped the rumors from rolling in as MLB's Hot Stove heats up.

What appears to be the most likely of all rumors surrounding the Giants lately, is Carlos Beltran likely headed Boston on a two-year deal. Beltran said he'd prefer to stay in the NL but could very well see Boston as a spot with a legit chance at 2 World Series runs over the next 2 seasons. Add a healthy Beltran to Bostons lineup and they've got themselves a huge upgrade over J.D. Drew. This shouldn't be too surprising of news though, as Brian Sabean has already stated that he believes Beltran wouldn't fit into the Giants budget. Now the focus is turning to who may be replacing Beltran in right field for SF. The name of the week as far as free agent outfielders has been Grady Sizemore, who the Giants have apparently expressed some interest in. I like Sizemore, and don't think a 1 year deal with an option would be a bad idea, but I don't see Sizemore having interest in coming to the Giants. I think he wants to stay in the AL with a team that can hit so he can boost his value via a short-term contract. Seeing that playing for the Giants would mean changing leagues and moving to an average lineup in a spacious yard doesn't exactly jump out to hitters trying to make a comeback, it's hard to believe someone like Sizemore would make that move. Another name that was tossed around on KNBR on Wednesday who I think would love to get is Carlos Quentin from the White Sox. Supposedly Kenny Williams is shopping the power hitting outfielder and has had talks with an unknown NL team.

The only trouble with making a trade for Quentin or any other significant hitter now though, is that the Giants are really running short on trade ammo. I think the Melky Cabrera deal was their big trade of the winter and any other upgrade they make will have to come via the free agent market. That poses a bit of a hurdle though too, as most of the players who would be upgrades and players the Giants could use are either too expensive, or type A free agents who would cost them a draft pick by signing at this point. I think that's why they have had interest in Sizemore, cause he's got huge potential yet isn't a Type A free agent. Josh Willingham and Michael Cuddyer are two corner outfielders who are Type A's who the Giants probably like, but wouldn't want to part with a top pick in exchange for. Shortstops Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins are obviously type A players as well and if the Giants are pursuing one of them, they're doing it extremely quietly. Reyes looks bound for Florida, and Rollins would then become the premiere shortstop and I'd expect him to cash in on that opportunity. Speaking of speedy infielders, another name that was linked to the Giants this week was Seattle utility man Chone Figgins. Apparently the Mariners are over Figgins after his .188 average last season, but he's owed over 20 million the next 2 seasons and Seattle would need to eat nearly all of that to make him palatable for anyone. I doubt the Giants would have interest, though if they could send Seattle a bad contract in exchange, and use Figgins in the utility role, it may be worth a look.

Roster Note: The Giants did make a minor league move Wednesday, signing former Braves center fielder Gregor Blanco to a minor league deal. The 27 year old outfielder has had a couple of decent seasons for Atlanta and KC as a reserve and has a respectable .358 OBP in over 700 career at-bats.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Monday, November 14, 2011

Giants Facing Key Personel Decisions

The Giants took care of one of their big up coming arbitration cases by dealing Jonathon Sanchez to the Royals rather than sinking upwards of $8 million into him for 2012. However, they still have a few big decisions to make with players who were huge during their 2010 Championship run.

One of the big names who won't be facing arbitration, but someone the Giants must make a decision on is Cody Ross. It's no secret that Ross was a major disappointment in 2011 after winning NLCS MVP in 2010, but a lot of his slow start can be attributed to injury. Then after the Carlos Beltran trade, he seemed to become the odd man out. Still though, Sabean and Co. need to determine whether or not they'll give Ross the two-year deal he's seeking (likely for $7 mill per year). Right now, the only guy assured to be in the Giants 2012 starting outfield is Melky Cabrera, so they will definitely be exploring their options over the next couple months. Another key outfielder they need to make a decision on is Andres Torres. Now, Torres doesn't have the track record that Ross does, so he won't cost nearly as much as Cody as he hits arbitration, but he's still going to command roughly $4 million or so. If I were to bet on which one has the better chance at returning I'd say Torres hands down. He's a better defender than Ross and has that speed that could play well late in ballgames, even if he doesn't have a regular spot in the starting lineup. I feel that if they do bring Ross back, it will have to be as a starter somewhere, and I really want to see this team upgrade their whole outfield if possible. Cabrera was a nice start, and I think Torres is a perfect 4th/5th outfielder, but they still have at least two spots they need to lockdown.

Other prominent arbitration eligibles include Jeff Keppinger, Mike Fontenot, Nate Schierholtz, Sergio Romo and Santiago Cassilla. I don't think there is any doubt that Schierholtz, Romo and Cassilla will return, likely on 2-year contracts rather than going through arbitration. The question I'm wondering about is what they plan to do with Keppinger. He was a very solid player for this team after coming over from Houston in July, and with his versatility, I think he's got to be a priority for Sabean. Keppinger's return would make Fontenot expendable, as they both play the same positions, and I would definitely go with Kepp out of the two. Not only does Keppinger have a stronger bat, he can play the corner positions in the infield and could provide this club with the presence Mark DeRosa was supposed to. Not to mention, Freddy Sanchez is still very much a question mark heading into spring 2012. It's still uncertain as to whether or not he can make the strong accurate throws from up the middle and from 2nd base on double plays. He had major surgery on his shoulder and did it late in the season rather than right after the injury happened, which will likely cause him to take it easy yet again next spring. It would be very reassuring to have a solid vet like Keppinger on the roster as insurance.... The two big names to hit arbitration this year are Pablo Sandoval and Ryan Vogelsong. Both players solidified their spots on this team in 2011 and should receive multi-year deals before 2012.

New Giants Hot Stove Video Up @ UnifySports TV!
The Giants Baseball Blog

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sabean Must Upgrade Shortstop

Coming off their first big move of the offseason in obtaining Melky Cabrera from the Kansas City Royals, plenty of fans are wondering whats next! One of the biggest needs on the team lies up the middle at shortstop, where offense was non-existent in 2011.

Rookie Brandon Crawford had his moments, especially early on after his call-up, but had his batting average well below .200 for most of the season. His glove and arm at short are 2nd to nobody in the organization, and it's what kept him up at the big league level for so long, but when a guy is hovering around .200, that's a tough bat to keep in the everyday lineup, especially in the NL. The Giants had one of the leagues worst offenses last year and cannot afford to just hand the reigns over to Crawford until his bat improves. Brian Sabean said early on that the Giants are strongly considering sticking with Crawford at short for 2012, though that could just be strategy on Sabean's part letting any potential free agent know that they feel confident in the UCLA alum. That was proven by the fact that the Giants were the highest bidder for free agent shortstop Willie Bloomquist, who decided to return to Arizona for less money. I don't care what Sabean tells the media, this team needs to upgrade at shortstop, no matter who else they bring in to play outfield/first base, and I'm glad Bloomquist decided to return to AZ rather than coming to the Bay Area. This shortstop market does have some bargains who I think would be nice additions to this roster. I know everyone is talking about Jose Reyes and even Bay Area native Jimmy Rollins, but I don't think the Giants will want to spend the type of money for one of those guys and they don't necessarily need get one of those guys to upgrade the position.

Now, don't get me wrong, after Reyes and Rollins, there's a pretty significant drop off until the next free agent shortstop. One of the guys I believe would be a good fit, and a guy I was kind of hoping they'd get with Jeff Keppinger from Houston this summer, is Clint Barmes. The former Rockie and Astro is a highly underrated shortstop, and has a potent right-handed bat. I really do think that out of all the shortstops who will be looking for new homes this winter, Barmes appears the best fit for this team when taking financials into account. His career average isn't anything noteworthy (.252), but the last time he got 500 at-bats in a season, he hit 23 homers and drove in 76 runs. He's basically a guarantee for 15 homers and 60 RBI and will hit around .250. Imagine if the Giants had those numbers out of their shortstop position last season, while getting defense that's on par with Brandon Crawford's! I also don't think Barmes will cost too much and could probably be had for something like 2 years and $8-10 million or so. Outside of Barmes, a few of the names include Rafael Furcal, Jamey Carroll, Alex Gonzalez and Ronny Cedeno. Furcal had an intriguing last few months with St. Louis, but his bat did not show up in October and wouldn't pose much of an upgrade over Crawford at the plate. With the Giants interest in Bloomquist, one would assume they'll also inquire about Carroll, who's game is very identical to that of Willie's. Gonzalez is essentially Pedro Feliz at short, and Cedeno is a right-handed version of Crawford. So, unless they get Rollins or Reyes, or possibly wait for some non-tenders, you can start to see why Clint Barmes really does make some sense.

Also, with the recent trade of Jonathan Sanchez, it may prompt Sabean to look into other viable 5th starter candidates, and one guy who I think would fit in great would be Aaron Harang, who is coming off a big comeback season with San Diego. Another one is former Padre Chris Young. When he's healthy he's got outstanding stuff and is a potential #2-3 starter. Only problem with him is that he hasn't been healthy too often in recent years. Still though, If he's on pace to start Spring Training at or around 100%, I'd sat he's definitely worth a flyer. There are plenty of other guys too who would be upgrades to Barry Zito and insurance to the rest of the staff, but those two names jump out as potential steals on a 1-year contract.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Monday, November 07, 2011

Giants Deal Sanchez, Get Melky Cabrera

They started out a lot quicker than I was anticipating, but the Giants made their first move of the 2011/2012 offseason, trading Jonathan Sanchez to KC for outfielder Melky Cabrera.

It's a very run-of-the-mill trade and not one that has the Giants comunitty necessarily "buzzing". Never the less, one of the Giants biggest problems this season was that leadoff spot and center field, where Andres Torres failed miserably in his attempt to repeat 2010's performance. In comes Melky Cabrera, who had an all-star, break-out 2011 season that saw him hit .305 with 18 homers, 87 RBI and 20 steals, and he should immediately grab hold of one of the outfield jobs and likely the leadoff spot. What's a little concerning though, is that despite his .307 average, Cabrera only managed a .339 OBP, and he's never been a very high on base type of hitter so he's not a typical leadoff guy. Also, his defensive range suggests he's not a prototypical center fielder either. KC had him hit 2nd in the order quite a bit in 2011 and that seems to be a spot where he was most comfortable, but it's also a spot that Freddy Sanchez has all but nailed down. Therefore I don't see anywhere else for Cabrera to hit besides leadoff, where his OBP was only marginally better than Torres'. I'd like to see him hit lower, but still, even with the mediocre OBP, his strong bat should play well atop the Giants order, ahead of Sanchez, Posey and Sandoval. Also, taking into consideration what the Giants had to give up to get Cabrera, this really isn't a bad deal. Jonathan Sanchez had his moments in San Francisco, the big no-hitter in 2009, and a few solid outings in last years postseason, but I think we've all seen what Sanchez is and I don't see him changing a whole lot. He's closing in on 30, is a free agent after next season, and although he was traded while his value was low, it may never get any higher!

This will also likely bring an end to all the "will they trade Cain/Lincecum this winter" speculation. There is no way that Sabean deals two starters in one offseason with the lack of depth the Giants currently have. This also helps free up some money to help their pursuit of a middle of the order hitter. They saved themselves from having to dip into free agency for that and it probably saved them another multi-year deal to a mediocre talent like Coco Crisp. Again though, this does leave the rotation in a bit of a flux, as they appear to have their starting 5 lined up, but have little in terms of insurance behind those guys in case anything goes wrong. I see Sabean looking to the scrap heap, like he did last year with Ryan Vogelsong, in order to add some depth to the rotation. But what you need to take out of this deal, is that he got a 27 year-old all-star caliber outfielder for a pitcher whose value was falling off the map and may have been all dried up by the middle of next season. That's what gets this move a thumbs up! Worse comes to worse, they swap Torres back in and Cabrera becomes a tremendously versatile 4th outfielder. It's just too bad they didn't deal Sanchez when his value peaked, or after Vogelsong started dominating early in the summer.

And as promised, here is our first crack at how we believe the Giants' starting lineup will fill out over the remaining winter months:

2012 Lineup Prediction:

CF Melky Cabrera
2B Freddy Sanchez
3B Pablo Sandoval
C Buster Posey
RF Michael Cuddyer (3 year/$30M)
LF Brandon Belt
1B Aubrey Huff
SS Clint Barmes (2 year/$8.5M)
The Giants Baseball Blog

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

A Look Back at '11: How to Fix It

Even though their offense was dreadful, the Giants managed to keep the season interesting until the final week or so of the season, so they don't have too far to go to improve their chances at returning to the postseason next year. In the 3rd and final segment of the 2011 Season in Review, we take a look at what the Giants must do this winter to get back on top in the NL West!

As good as the pitching was, it's caused some people to start to question whether or not Brian Sabean plans to break up that fine staff in order to get more offense onto this roster. At the end of the year, it was put in papers that Sabean would "consider" parting with either Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain if it were to make a big enough offensive impact. I don't agree with that though, as good as this teams pitching is, they really don't have a bunch of arms knocking down the door to get to the big leagues like Cain, Lincecum and Bumgarner did. If they decide to deal one of those guys, it almost guarantees Barry Zito gets 30+ starts in 2012, and as much as the offense could improve, that doesn't sound like a reasonable plan to me. At the same time, they don't have the cash to throw at an Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, either of which would improve the offense 10-fold, cause they still have to pay Aaron Rowand next year and have a few more Barry Zito seasons left as well, and those 2 take up over $30 million of payroll. Still though, they have a little bit of cash freeing up and do likely have enough to get involved in a move for a guy like Michael Cuddyer or possibly a re-signing of Carlos Beltran. Either way, I definitely see Sabean adding to the outfield this winter.

As well as a reasonable big bat, this team needs a solid leadoff hitter, and a shortstop. As much as the Giants like Brandon Crawford's defense, I highly doubt they'll put all their eggs in his basket heading into 2012. With them needing both a leadoff hitter and a shortstop, one immediately thinks of Jose Reyes. The Giants had interest in him during the season, and I think had they dealt for him instead of Beltran, and gotten 2 healthy months out of him, they would have cruised back to the playoffs. The top of this team's order at the end of the year was a mess. I was hoping they'd even upgrade just marginally in a guy like Coco Crisp, but they failed in that regard. Now, that being said, I don't want them to give out big dollars to a guy like Jimmy Rollins. I could definitely see Sabean giving him Aaron Rowand money and his bat absolutely falling out in AT&T Park. I'd rather overpay for Reyes than give Rollins 4+ years any day. I have a gut feeling that Rollins ends up in orange and black though! If they don't add a leadoff hitter via shortstop, then they have to do so in center field. There's no way they can hand the job back to Torres after the 2011 he just had. I still think Crisp would be a reasonable gamble on a one year contract, or possibly even Juan Pierre for a season or 2.

Most of all though, this lineup needs to get healthy and in shape. They need Aubrey Huff to show up next spring as the 2010 Huff, not the drained, overweight 2011 version. They needs Buster Posey to be ready from the get-go and they need him to regain that daily role behind the plate. They need Freddy Sanchez to heal up and stay healthy for a full year to stabilize the top part of the batting order, no matter who ends up leading off for them. They also need the young guys like Schierholtz and Belt to step up their consistency. None of these are unreasonable things to ask, and all could very well happen in 2012. I do see Sabean adding to the lineup, but only a piece or 2, and they won't be Reyes or Fielder, but if these things I mentioned just above do take place, then they won't need to be Reyes or Fielder. It could be Clint Barmes and Josh Willingham, and this team would still be in fine shape. The talent's here already, and as long as they get a determined bunch coming in next spring, things will be just fine.

Up Next: First 2012 Lineup Prediction!
The Giants Baseball Blog