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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


  • At 7:58 PM, Anonymous Stan Musical said…

    I'll take any of those guys if it means Barry Zito wouldn't be in the rotation... I don't know why the Giants will be expecting different results all the sudden, he's getting older and worse by the year. If he starts, I predict a 1-4 start with a 6-something era by May before they are upset they didn't add another guy for insurance.

    Another couple of guys to consider would be Freddy Garcia and Bruce Chen but I have no idea what kind of salary demands they have.

  • At 8:40 PM, Anonymous J-Bill said…

    Haven't considered Furcal as a shortstop option, didn't know he was a free agent until reading this. He's still such a great defender, but his health is a big question mark. He is only a year removed from a great year in 2010 and really helped St. Louis down the stretch this year. thing is, he's basically the 3rd SS on the list though after Reyes and Rollins, so some team's probably going to overpay for him.

    Same with Beltran. I want him to return, but somebody will overpay him after they miss out on Pujols-Reyes-Fielder.


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