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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


  • At 6:58 PM, Anonymous Nate said…

    What kind of money is Rollins asking for? I know Reyes is likely to get 100 million dollars which the GIants won't do, but Rollins may be a lot more reasonable. I heard on the radio that he may be looking for a 3 year deal or something?

  • At 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    While I agree that Barmes is the most promising guy available, I would want him strictly as a backup to Crawford. Shortstop, as bad as it was last year, was not the main problem with the Giants' offense - it was the lack of production from 3 of the 4 traditional power spots: 1B, LF, and RF. If we fix those problems, having a defense-first SS is absolutely no problem.

  • At 12:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Anyone know who might get non-tendered who can play short? I've been looking for a list on the internet but can't find anything.

    I'd take Barmes for sure and let he and Crawford battle it out.

  • At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Ken Portell said…

    I say give Jose Reyes 5 years/$80 million and call it an offseason.

    They could win with this:

    Reyes SS
    Sanchez 2B
    Sandoval 3B
    Posey C
    Cabrera CF
    Huff 1B
    Ross LF
    Schierholtz RF


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