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Sunday, December 04, 2011

Winter Meetings Preview

We're just 24 hours away from the start of the Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings, and with many of the top free agents still looking for homes for the 2012 season, it promises to be a busy week.

Just how busy the Giants get this week though is anybodies guess. They have been extremely quiet since their trade for Melky Cabrera in early November, and as the offseason moves along, it's looking more and more like that was their big move of the winter. Their still is an outside chance they bring back Carlos Beltran, but Sabean isn't going to get into any bidding wars for the aging outfielder and that's what it would likely take to get him to return to San Francisco. Instead, Giants beat-writer Andrew Baggarly is speculating the club will look to a 2nd-teire free agent to help round out their starting outfield. The name that I immediately think of if Beltran is indeed off the table is former National and A's left fielder, Josh Willingham. The 32 year-old outfielder put up huge numbers in a spacious Oakland Collesiuem in 2011, with a career high in home runs with 29 and RBI with 98. His batting average didn't exactly shine, as he finished at .248, but he still managed a +.800 OPS due to his slugging and ability to take walks. He really reminds me a lot of Jeff Kent, and I think he would fit very nicely out in left field as a shoe in for 25 HR/90 RBI. He isn't the greatest outfielder defensively, but his career .262/.361/.831 line would currently rank 2nd to only Pablo Sandoval on the entire Giants roster, so there's no doubt he'd be an upgrade. He's younger and healthier than Beltran, and wouldn't cost as much. He'd also slot into left field and keep right open for Nate Schierholtz and possibly Cody Ross.

Another name Baggarly mentioned is Coco Crisp, who played alongside Willingham in Oakland last season. Crisp is nowhere near as productive with the bat as Josh, but has game changing speed and plays a gold-glove caliber center field. However, that's not exactly what this lineup needs. They need a #4 or #5 hitter like Willingham, who can protect Posey and Sandoval, hit the ball out of the ballpark and get on base with consistency. The part that comes into question next though, is what kind of money Willingham is currently seeking? The Giants will also be searching for a shortstop/utility infielder this week at the meetings, as they've been linked to two players in particular in Jerry Hairston and Alex Gonzalez. I've already voiced my displeasure towards the interest in Gonzalez in previous posts, so just scroll down for those thoughts. Hairston would bring much more value than Gonzalez as the Giants already have a good gloved, low on-base shortstop figuring to get tons of playing time in 2012. Also, Hairston could provide insurance for Freddy Sanchez at 2nd base as well as spell Panda at third. If they added Hairston, they wouldn't need to keep another infielder on the bench, and that's a value in itself. Another infielder who could be a wild card for the Giants is Rafael Furcal, though he'd probably be considered more as a starting option than as a utility/backup to Crawford.

Other than a power hitting corner outfielder, and a solid middle infield/utility player, the Giants could also be looking to deepen their starting rotation, and add a backup catcher at the meetings. Don't expect them to look into any household names, but this market is very deep with 2nd-tiere starters, and after the success they had with Ryan Vogelsong in '11, they'll certainly be scraping the bargain bin for pitchers they like. One potential target could be Jerome Williams, who went 4-0 with a 3.68 era in 6 starts for the Angels last year, his first MLB action since 2007... As far as backup catchers, the one guy I think would be a perfect fit in San Francisco for a year off the bench would be Jorge Posada. He's still got something left in the bat and would be fine starting a handful of games a month at catcher.
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5 Comments:

  • At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    IF your are going to use peoples names...have the courtesy to spell their last name correctly.

    You "kicked" Andrews' name the same way Jim Joyce kicked Gallaraga's perfect game.

     
  • At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Haha, he used an E instead of an A.... That really worth a whole comment on?

     
  • At 2:30 PM, Blogger Trevor said…

    All comments are welcome, even if it's a spelling complaint.

    Back to the Giants, news surfaced today that they're after Ryan Ludwick... My offseason nightmare was that this team would sign Alex Gonzalez and Ryan Ludwick, and they are looking like front-runners for both. Willingham is a much better player than Ludwick, and under the new CBA, won't cost them a pick to sign even though he's a Type A.

    If not Beltran, it should be an upgrade like Willingham or Cuddyer or nobody at all. Rather just role with Cabrera in left, Torres in Center and Schierhotlz in right.

     
  • At 12:42 AM, Anonymous hitnrun said…

    Trevor, is Willingham even interested in coming to SF? I am not sure he is the best answer, but I agree he is a better choice than Ross or Torres. Alex Gonzalez is another Miguel Tejada waiting to happen. How many times does Sabean need to get burned before he realizes that there are reasons why these 35 year old shortstops all get released by their former teams. THEY ARE DONE!

     
  • At 3:36 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    hitnrun,

    I read something earlier this week, think from Baggs or John Shea, that suggested the Giants would inquire about Willingham. Not sure if he'd actually come here or not (I think he would if the money was there), but as far as FA outfielders go, after Beltran and Cuddyer, I believe Willingham would be the guy to get. His track record speaks for itself.

    As far as the aging shortstops, I couldn't agree more. I'd rather roll with Crawford and upgrade other areas of the team than waste money on another sub-par hitting shortstop. A guy like Hairston, with his bat and versatility, made some sense, but not someone like Gonzalez.

     

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