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Friday, December 30, 2011

Giants Depth Chart, Likely 2012 25-man Roster

With the new year just around the corner, this will be our last post of 2011, (wow how time flies) and we figured we'd just go with a basic State-of-the-Giants post and provide who currently holds or is most likely to hold one of their 25-man roster spots come opening day in April.

I know we're still 4 months away from games counting, but spring training is just 6 weeks out, and unless the Giants have something up their sleeve (yeah, I'm talkin about you Cespedes), it doesn't look like they're going to do much before pitchers and catchers report in mid-February. Speaking of Cespedes though, it's funny to mention his name because it almost seems like the market has disappeared for the Cuban slugger? I don't know what the deal is but I thought he'd had signed by now and gotten a decent deal. He'd be great in right field at AT&T and make fans forget Beltran in an instant. But enough about him, I talked about him at length in our Christmas Wish list post, so no need to keep beating a dead horse. Just thought it was peculiar that he hasn't signed on, nor has there even been much talk about 26 year-old Cuba Home Run record holder. Anyway, back to the Giants, where instead of home run record holders, they have guys who can run, hopefully pick it, and then they're really hoping that 2010 happens all over again for a lot of guys, Freddy Sanchez, Aubrey Huff and Angel Pagan in particular. I'd say Posey, but he was doing just fine before he took on that unnecessary collision with a man who doesn't deserve to have his name written on this blog. Anyhow, unless lightening strikes, and the Giants make a move for a position player who will actually upgrade the team, this is how the 25-man roster figures to make out come April:

Catchers
(3): Buster Posey, Hector Sanchez, Chris Stewart

(I think they carry 3 catchers to start the year because of Posey's injury. Sanchez provides some offense while Stewart is the late-inning defensive guy.)

Infielders (7): Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez*, Brandon Crawford, Pablo Sandoval, Mike Fontenot, Brandon Belt, Manny Burris

(Sanchez could end up starting the year on the DL, which I hope would open the door for Pill. I think Pill needs to play 2nd in spring to make this team somehow. Burris has leg up cause he can play short and Sabean and Boch are backing him.)

Outfielders (4)
: Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera, Nate Schierholtz, Justin Christian

(Only need 4 outfielders really, just because Pagan and Cabrera can play all over, and Schierholtz can play the corners as good as anyone in baseball. Also, Huff, Belt and Manny can play left, though it would be ideal to upgrade over Christian with someone like a Cody Ross who's still out there!)

Pitchers (11): Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Barry Zito, Guillermo Mota, Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Cassilla, Sergio Romo, Brian Wilson
Link
(Pitchers will probably go 11 to start things off, just cause Mota and Affeldt each have stamina to go back-to-back and give more than an inning, though they'll need to keep rotating fresh arms in if they decide to roll with 11, which I think is case until Buster's 100% and catching daily.)

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I just wanted to take a space to wish everyone a happy New Year, hopefully 2012 brings peace and joy to everyone who need and seeks it. We'll be back, and hopefully better than ever in 2012, when we have a promo going on in January and some other fun things coming up! May not post on New Years day, but certainly back to work Monday!

New GiantsCast up @ UnifySports.tv!
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Giants Continue "Thumb Twiddling"

I thought it was one of the funnier quotes I'd heard all offseason when I believe a Yahoo journalist described the Giants activity, or lack thereof, as them "twiddling their thumbs". Here we are, just days away from the calendar turning to 2012, and the Giants are the same team, add Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera, they were in early November when they lost all their free agents.

Sabean said early on not to expect any big splash signings or any earth shattering moves, but they haven't even made little signing yet to help fill the smaller holes on this team. Why they don't have another infielder yet is beyond me, unless they have some plan to trade for one during Spring Training. Also, rumors surfaced right after Christmas that Cody Ross and the Rockies were nearing a deal that would bring the outfielder to Colorado. It makes sense on Cody's part, as he wants to play in a hitters park if he's going to sign a one-year deal and since the Giants don't seem to want him, he's got to weigh his options. My beef here is with Sabean. Once Beltran signed with St. Louis, Cody Ross should have become a priority again for the Giants. They need another outfielder and the best, most versatile player with the highest upside on this market now has become Cody Ross (Cespedes technically, but yeah right). Also, the Giants have seen him when he's healthy and hitting and although he may not be a #5 hitter they really need, when Cody's on he's an above average #6 hitter, and a rock-solid defender. Plus, you Colorado knows his situation, they know they can go bargain shopping with him because he wants to hit there. Maybe I see Ross as a more important piece than the rest, but if the Giants are really going to try and win with 2010's formula again, they're missing one key ingredient. Give Cody Ross a 1-year deal and be done with this outfield! If he signs for 1 year and something like $4.5 million in Colorado, I'm going to break whatever breaks me the news. As you can see, he's still viewed as having starters value, getting ranked 32 amongst all FA's this winter!

I mean sure, I'd rather have Cespedes or trade for Quentin or Upton, but lets get real here, if Sabean won't pony up $26 mill for Beltran after giving away his top prospect for him months prior, I highly doubt he tries another one of those star-vet-for-star-prospect for a long, long while. Again, the only time he should engage in those types of talks is if he knows before hand he can keep the acquired player for beyond a year or two. He ends up making two mistakes with Beltran because of that law of thinking. Not only did the Giants fail to make the playoffs with Beltran, the Giants failed to keep him beyond the 1/2 season after parting with Zach Wheeler when Beltran was only wanting 2 years. I guess I could just keep going on and on about it and wondering why, but it's almost the new year and it's time to start focusing on whats ahead. Fact of the matter is, Cabrera is a good player just coming into his prime. An all-star game in his future isn't out of the question and he ads to their young nucleus. Pagan is better than Torres, simple as that (check baseball cards for both). They're going to need Buster to give them 140 games somewhere, and Freddy Sanchez to do about the same, but otherwise, things could be a lot worse I guess. At least they didn't deal Cain for some irrelevant Yankee prospect and Nick Swisher, which they Yanks were begging for all Meetings long supposedly.

We want to get in one more post before the New Year, our final 2012 Roster Prediction post, before we hit the final month and a half of the offseason. The Giants are certain to make other moves, nothing on the large scale of course, but they need an infielder, another outfielder and it wouldn't hurt to invite another catcher to spring either.... Also, my newest fear as a player Sabean pursues that joins the list of Ryan Ludwick, if for no other reason he could get him dirt cheap, Raul Ibanez. Rather have Ludwick, but I'd take either as a backup at $1-2M (though AT&T would sap his power).
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Giants Holiday Wish-List, Post Beltran

Well, it's been a pretty dissappointing offseason in the whole scheme of things for the Giants so far, and things probably won't change too much with the free agent market pretty much picked over. But it's Christmas time and the New Year is around the corner, so I thought I'd try and be optimistic for our holiday post before we take a few off for a few days.

First off, there are still a few players out there that could help out the Giants right now. If they truly are going to go 100% pitching and try and just dominate teams 2-1, they should look into upgrading their 5th spot in their rotation. Paul Maholm is twice as effective a starter as Barry Zito and and as long as he passed his physical (shoulder strain). He's 29 and could give the Giants some insurance in-case (god forbid) Matt Cain refuses to stick around and pitch for a team in which he deals each night yet ends up with 8-14 seasons! Or maybe look into Edwin Jackson, but only if he got real and brought his demands way down from 4 years to 2 maybe with an option, 3 at most. Cetainly wouldn't pay him more than $7-9 mill annually either, but resembles Cain very much and never has thrown in a pitchers park, while posting very respectable career numbers. Now, of course I'd rather lock Cain up for 5 years, but it wouldn't be bad thinking to not only upgrade the 5th spot, but give yourself some bargaining space/insurance for Cain's pending 2012 free agency. But not only are there names like Roy Oswalt, Maholm and Jackson floating around, looking for homes as January approaches, there are a few national positional-playing stars that haven't found homes that I believe the Giants should now make their top priority!

My Christmas wishlist. With what's left, and the young, athletic team they're putting together, I say the Giants should go all out and roll the dice on Yeonis Cespedes. Check him out here in the Cuban Pro League, just tearing up, and showing his athleticism. Trust me, it's a pretty incredible showcase. I think he'd definitely be worth a gamble as long as it's not more than 3-4 years and 8 or so million. I'd give him 3 years/$27-30 million in a hearbeat, it'd take him until he's 29 and he's right in his prime so you see what he really has! He looks like a pretty good bet for at least 20+ homers, with a nice average, good defense and speed on the bases. The dude is no joke and he's serious about wanting to be good, you can tell in his training. At least a few of his tools will come out at the big league level, if not all, and I say do it! Id'd make everyone forget about the lose of Beltran and giving up Wheeler and get them excited to see the next Vlad Guerrero/Andruw Jones (early years) type of athlete. They wouldn't need to break the bank on him and there is a very high latin influence that leads the Giants team! I really do think he's worth a shot. Now, I'm sure they're worried about pulling another Zito, having Cespedes end up a 4th outfielder and them eating it when they're paying him $10M to ride the pine, but that's what you get when you pass one Beltran. You need right-handed power, and Cespedes is the man!


If not Cespedes, I say go after the Yanks for Nakajima, as long as he won't cost more than $3-4 million for 2 years or so. They don't need him and probably only got him as a bargaining chip. Again, I've talked about him here plenty before, and see him as a perfect challenge for Crawford at short/insurance for Sanchez at 2nd. That's my wishlist Santa, two players who haven ever played a single Major League game! How about it Santa? Cespedes in right and Edwin Jackson our fifth starter come February!

Merry Christmas all, and again, I can't thank you enough for visiting The Giants Baseball Blog. We wish you and your family the very best holiday season possible and we'll be back with you after December 27th, as we'll be out of town for Christmas. As always, will have laptop, but not planning on posting unless something big happens or something comes to mind. Talk to you guys after Christmas!
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Beltran Leaves SF for New Champs

It amazes me that the Brian Sabean felt that Beltran's demands were un-reasonable and counted themselves out of the race so early, because I think the Cards just got themselves the steal of the winter. One the Giants will be kicking themselves for come next season!

Seems like teams that won Sereis' the previous season really get to Beltran, as he signs a 2 year, $26 million deal with St. Louis. He'll be their new right fielder, shifting Lance Berkman to first in Albert Pujols former spot. Certainly not going to fill Pujols' shoes, but this move makes the Cards legit World Series contenders again. Brings me back to my original thinking though, and I've been saying it all offseason, the Giants can afford Beltran, they need Beltran, but there must have been something there that turned one off to the other. Either Beltran didn't like the way the Giants management dealt with him or the Giants didn't like Beltran's nonchalant attitude, but it doesn't seem right they couldn't match or better that offer the Cards just gave him to keep #15 in the Giants outfield. A Beltran-Pagan-Cabrera outfield would have been much more fun to watch, but it looks like we'll indeed be relegated to the Cabrera-Pagan-Schierholtz/Huff rotation and that's not how champions operate, I'm sorry to say. I don't have anything else to really say about this move, I obviously thought Beltran was well worth the gamble and it will suck when he hits .310 with 25 homers and 100 RBI in St. Louis next season (I know, they have a better park to hit at, just saying). Rough day for the Giants. There just simply isn't anyone else out there that has that kind of impact. Cody Ross is looking mighty fine right about now!

The Giants have now given away their top starting pitching prospect, who's moving along quite nicely in NY have you, for a guy they just lost and won't even get compensation for. What a shame! Maybe they should just sign Oswalt or Vazquez (I'm sure he'd pitch in SF for a year) for the fifth spot and just pray to score 1-2 runs per night, cause that's what we're looking at folks!
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Giants Putting Too Much Stock in Returnees

I was thinking last night about who the Giants have added this offseason, and who they have lost, and to the surprise of many, the team that's supposed to be one of the top-5 earning teams in baseball has lost more than they've added this winter in terms of players.

They haven't signed a single significant free agent, and it's now to the point where there aren't even any more left. For some odd reason, they are hell-bent on staying away from Carlos Beltran even though they clearly saw what he could do for that lineup when he got healthy in September, and that was without Buster. They've lost Jonathan Sanchez, Andres Torres, Cody Ross(?), Beltran and they've basically replaced them with Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera. I'd say the Giants are losing the value end of that swap over. It's not surprising they've been so quiet, as Sabean's been distracted by a new infant son (who wouldn't be), but he's a professional and has been there before. They have failed so far to add any insurance whatsoever for their ailing second basemen who "hopes to be ready by opening day", or their "barely can hit ML pitching" starting shortstop. Anytime a player "hopes" he'll be ready, that's not a good sign. A confident player says "I'll be ready" opening day, even if there is the slightest doubt. Even if he did show up in late April or May again, it's almost a given he'd go down again at some point, he's just that type of player. You love him when he's healthy and playing, but he's getting older now and those trips to the DL are starting to pile up. A insurance policy like Wilson Betemit would be a nice target. Unless they upgrade their infield, there could be nights at AT&T that feature an infield from 3rd-2nd of Mike Fontenot-Brandon Crawford-Manny Burris when Pablo get's a night off or plays first base.

Now, that being said, I still think there is very little doubt they don't do something to at least attempt to help out the outfield and infield offense/depth. I was getting a strong Ryan Ludwick-vibe for much of December after Willingham and Cuddyer signed, and the Giants declared out on Beltran, but apparently Cody Ross has lowered his demands. I think Cody truly wants to be a Giant, and with the options that are out there, or lack thereof I should say, it may not be a bad idea. Rather have Ross over Ludwick any day. Cody's done huge things for this franchise and really never got healthy in '11. When he did, his finish in September down the stretch was big. He just seems to come up big when needed. Problem here though, is that the Giants publicly said they would not be re-signing Ross when they said the same about Beltran, but that's because Sabean and Ross couldn't get on the same page, whether it was playing time or money or years. Don't know what it would take for Cody to come back on a one-year deal, but if it were at $6M or under, I'd do it in a second. His 2 full seasons in Florida, his averages were .268/23/85! You put that in right field last year and the Giants win the West. He's got the potential to play above-average baseball when he's right (and he's had the winter to heal), he's a good defender at all three positions and he wants to be here. Wow, didn't realize I was starting to sound like Ross' agent pitching him to some team, but fact is, their are limited FA options and in the outfield, besides Carlos, Ross is Boss!

I found it interesting that even the national media has caught wind of the Giants inactivity and their fans disagreement with it with this piece from Yahoo! Sports! The 2010 World Series will forever be in our memories and will always be cherished, but like they said in the article, "The honeymoon is over!" Beautiful way of putting it. If the Giants start 2012 in a rough way, they're going to start losing some of those 2010 band-wagoners, and that would be a lot of dough down the toilet. If no other reason, they should pay Carlos Beltran to come back and help fill seats and keep selling out.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Monday, December 19, 2011

Final 2011 NL West Power Rankings

With the Giants staying quieter than a mouse on the player movement front, and nothing likely to be done before now and the first of the new year, I figured I'd do a "mid-offseason" version of the NL West Power Rankings and rank where each team is halfway through the winter. Remember, still a lot can change, but here's sort of the "State of the NL West Address" heading into 2k12:

1. Arizona Diamondbacks
: They were the best team at the end of the 2011 season and by more than many people, mostly Giants fans, wanted to believe. Not only that, but they're so young that they're only going to get better over the next few years. They added another potential ace in Trevor Cahill to go atop the rotation with Ian Kennedy (27) and Danny Hudson (24) along with the 23 year-old Cahill. Lost in the Cahill deal was their signing of gnarly set-up man Takashi Saito, who any right-hander in baseball will tell you they'd rather not face and is a nails set-up man for J.J. Putz. They have the young lineup with studs like Justin Upton (24), Stephen Drew (if he heals up) and Miguel Montero (28), that all they need is health and they're going to be extremely tough to beat. Now after typing this, I see they just grabbed Jason Kubel on a 2 year/$15M deal to split time in the corner outfield spots. They're really winning with all their moves. Average age of their starting lineup is 26, and these guys aren't raw, green player!

2. San Francisco Giants: Now, the Giants made their two big additions to their outfield, but they weren't exactly the type of additions that will swing the momentum of the offense on their own. They still need guys like Huff, Sanchez and Crawford to step it up big time and stay healthy. Also would be nice to see Brandon Belt finally start hitting in SF like he does in Frenso. Still though, this team has the best pitching in the division, even after AZ got Cahill, and with that bullpen and starting rotation, it's going to keep them in games no matter what. Still can't understand why they thought another bopper, like Carlos Beltran (still free), wouldn't have made enough of a difference! You put a motivated Beltran (who's never won a series), with a healthy Posey, Panda and the newly adds, and your starting to put together a versatile lineup, but they still need that big, 4th/5th place hitter. Until then, or AZ suffers a tough injury, they're 2nd in the West in my eye.

3. Colorado Rockies: Only reason I didn't put them ahead of the Giants is because their pitching is so suspect. I love their add of Michael Cuddyer and think he fits nicely in that yard. Also added Ramon Hernandez behind the plate and have an improving Dex Fowler in center, then of course TuLo and CarGo. Nice young makeup going on there. Pitching is still so raw though. Chacin is nails and reliable, but after that, it's boom-or-bust. Drew Pomeranz (center piece of Jimenez deal) should start in rotation and I think he'll be fine, but they need Esmil Rogers and Juan Nicasio to harness their great stuff!


4. LA Dodgers: Brings us to Los Angeles. They've been confusing me this winter. They gave Matt Kemp nearly $200 million, then went out and added a bunch of role-playing utility infielders. Don't get me wrong, Jerry Hairston's a nice player, but you have Juan Uribe, Adam Kennedy, Dee Gordon and Mark Ellis all vying for starting jobs. Looks like the Dodgers may have one of hte lightest hitting infields in baseball if it lines up like I think it will. It's a shame too, cause they have Chad Billingsley, Clay Kershaw and Ted Lilly, all three above average starting pitchers. They should be inquiring about Carlos Quentin or some power-hitting corner outfielder cause they need power in here in the worst way. Another option could be signing a first basemen (Derek Lee, Carlos Pena) and moving Looney to left field. Right now though, LA is looking up at the rest of the divisions.

5. San Diego Padres:
Say what you want about their inability to keep stars like Adrian Gonzalez, that trade they just pulled off with Cincinnati has to have Friar Fans feeling chipper this holiday season. Not only did the Pads get a pitcher of similar value to Latos (maybe tougher to hit when both are on), they also got a corner 1B/OF'er of the future in Yonder Alonso, a guy who should be good for 25 homers a year even in the spacious PetCo. Park. The Padres have no power and they got a potential power guy in Alonso and he should be inserted right into first base or left field as long as it doesn't cost Jesus Guzman his starting spot (their best hitting in the 2nd half of '11). Overall, Padres have improved though, just still not enough to be players in an improving NL West.

Roster Notes: In "earth-shattering" news, the Giants signed Manny Burris and Eli Whiteside to minor league deals Monday... Hardly a surprise to anyone I'm sure. Glad both are back as likely AAA'ers and insurance policies, I just hope to heck Sabean isn't serious about Burris being the main utility infielder.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Giants 2012 Roster Projection + MLB Notes

We've almost hit the Christmas break in Major League Baseball (when offices shut down for a few days), and most teams are looking for final additions to their roster at this stage in the winter. However, I still see some tinkering with the Giants' roster before spring training 2012 next February, and this is how I think the opening day 25-man roster will play.

Projected Signings: OF Ryan Ludwick (1 YR/$3.5M), C Ronny Paulino (minor league deal), IF Ryan Theriot (minor league deal) - Again, not my personal choices on signings, just guys I see fitting the Giants needs/budget/Sabean's weird obsession with mediocre, mid-aged players!

Opening Day Lineup:
CF Angel Pagan
2B Freddy Sanchez
LF Melky Cabrera
3B Pablo Sandoval
C Buster Posey
1B Aubrey Huff
RF Ryan Ludwick
SS Brandon Crawford

Starting Rotation:
RH Tim Lincecum
RH Matt Cain
LH Madison Bumgarner
RH Ryan Vogelsong
LH Barry Zito

Bench: C Hector Sanchez, C Ronny Paulino, 1B/OF Brett Pill, OF Nate Schierholtz, IF Mike Fontenot, IF Ryan Theriot

Bullpen:
CL Brian Wilson, SU Sergio Romo, LH Jeremy Affedlt, LH Javier Lopez, RH Santiago Cassilla, RH Guillermo Mota

So, there you have it, the lineup I could see easily rounding out this roster. Now, I think the Giants still want a RH-hitting outfielder and they aren't bringing back Ross. Problem is they really don't have space on their 40-man or their budget to do so. Though I'd DFA someone like Justin Christian for the right add. One thing you probably notice immediately is no Brandon Belt. I say unless he's starting 5 times a week at first, he should start in Fresno, Pill is also RH and can play some corner OF. They have to get creative though and guarantee some mid-range FA looking for work like a Ryan Theriot or Ronny Ceneno (about the only 2 still out there) a roster spot and legit at-bats if they take the minor league contract and compete with Burris/Crawford to possibly start at shortstop. That's incentive in itself, even if it's only a minor league deal.

Otherwise, Manny Burris backing up BC at short is about all they have right now, and as much as I like Manny as a person, I wouldn't just give him that job. Now, if the Giants did sign a Ludwick, I think Schierholtz would still get most time as the starter in right, but on opening day, I could see Boch going with the veteran (especially with the L/R/L/R combo he praises). The Giants probably see Ludwick as a RH-hitting outfielder who can at least drive in runs, threaten to go deep, and play a decent outfield, with a shot at starting if need be, though they'd again be looking like San Diego north if that became the case. You'll notice I used 3 catchers and only 6 relievers. I think that's how they'll start things off, at least for the first few weeks to see how much Buster can handle. Paulino just got non-tendered and was discussed last August. Nice hitter and has a good reputation as a backstop.

Bottom line though, is that after Cuddyer got $10M and Willingham $7M (ranted both younger than Carlos) it's being said that Beltran won't get much more than $10M per year (though not familiar with the source on that), on a short deal. WOW! is the only adjective I can think of in regards to the Giants bowing out with Beltran. I really hope that's Sabean putting on his typical not interested front, but It seems like they're sincerely out. If Beltran signs with the Nats or Rockies for 2 years and $20 million, I'm protesting at 3rd and King! My guess is he ends up in St. Louis 2 Years and 22.5 million w/3rd year, $12M mutual option to help pick up some of Pujols' slack.One things we never saw in '11 was Panda, Beltran and Buster all together in the lineup, and now with Cabrera and Pagan, that could really be a dynamic group. Simple as that!

MLB NOTES: Literally seconds upon finishing this post, click on the Yahoo Sports homepage to see that Jimmy Rollins has re-upped with the Phillies for 3 years and $33 million. Another guy who got less than he was originally hoping for (4 Years/$50M), and hopefully that further cuts down the salary demands on Beltran cause JRoll was much more valuable. Seems like Beltran's worth is closer to 2 years/$20 million based on that deal.... Also making MLB headlines was a blockbuster deal in which the San Diego Padres sent their ace Mat Latos to Cincinnati for Edinson Volquez and one of Cinci's top hitting prospect in first basemen Yonder Alonso. I could talk about this deal forever as I think San Diego robbed Cinci blind. I'd have even considered Latos for Alonso straight up. He's a top prospect who hit .330, 5 HR with 15 RBI supported by a .943 OPS in 98 ML AB's in '11. He's just the power bat the Pads need to help build around and Volquez in that park could return to pre-2011 form. Great deal for San Diego, now even the Pads are improving in the West this winter!
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Giants Failing in Attempt to Upgrade Offense

I just returned from vacation, only to find the Giants exactly where they were when I took off a week ago. I was under the impression that the Giants number one goal heading into the offseason was to upgrade their offense, but as we hit Christmas then January and most all the impact players off the market, it looks like the Giants roster is pretty much set.

Josh Willingham was the latest power-hitting outfield free agent to sign a deal with a team other than San Francisco, and I think Minnesotta got a steal at 3Yr/$21M. It's not like I was totally pro-Willingham, but I mentioned a few times here that after Beltran and Cuddyer, he's the most consistent corner outfielder on the market and I thought he'd get closer to $10M annually. The fact he only got $7M per season over 3 years in a skinny outfield free agent market is surprising. If I were Sabean, I would have offered him 2 years/$18 mill with a 3rd year $10M team option and I'd bet he'd have chosen the team that just won the Series last fall (he even had better splits in the huge Collesium). Then again, maybe the Giants didn't even want him, though I can't see why they wouldn't but are considering Ludwick. I've talked about this topic too much, so I'll wrap it up. It just seems like the Giants never even "kicked the tires" to use his own term, and certainly weren't willing to get into multi-year talks, which is understandable in some senses but not in all. Now, I'm getting that horribly strong Ryan Ludwick vibe again. Scrooge Sabean says their isn't money to go for Beltran, so that's dead, and I know he's got an eye on some sort of 4th/5th outfielder to challenge Schierholtz in right. It just seems Ludwick would be the cheapest and most eager to head back to the Bay. I wouldn't mind him so much if the had Beltran and Ludwick sharing right with Nate, but not so much with the current team. Cuddyer and Beltran still remain free, with Beltran now gauging interest from Colorado. I stick by my guns from day one, Beltran is the guy the Giants need, and regardless of what Sabean says, they can afford him if they really want him. I just don't think that's the case, which basically means he just gave Zach Wheeler to New York for the joy of it!

Also surfacing over the weekend was news that the Giants indeed are still interested in Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, if you believe Ken Rosenthal. The Yankees won the bid for him at $2.5 million, and could be looking to sign-and-trade him, very much like an NBA deal, if they do indeed come to an agreement with him. They have Jeter and Cano up the middle and will for years, so Nakajima doesn't really have a spot there. That's where the Giants name again comes up. Unfortunately though, Sabean didn't even know the guys name when asked about him in Dallas at the meetings, so it doesn't appear as though they've really been monitoring him, which really is disturbing. I've only seen bits and pieces here and there, but he reminds me of a more athletic, quicker Yunel Escobar, just with a threat to steal. The Yankees now have his rights and can deal him if they like what the Giants would offer. It's not something that's likely to happen, cause again, this is Sabean we're talking about and creativity just isn't his style, but if they could get him for something reasonable, why the heck not? I understand the Giants not wanting to throw dollars around at everyone out there, but common, this team is one of the richest in baseball and it can't seem to figure out it's offensive woes, year after year? I just really think Nakajima is going to be a nice player, and handles the toughest position in baseball well. If he signs as 3 year/$10 million deal, I'd send Affeldt to NY for him in a second!

Anyhow, it looks like the Giants are also out on any potential utility guys after bringing back Fontenot and declaring Burris their right-handed caddy to Brandon Crawford. I guess they wanted an offensive downgrade at short for some reason? I've met Manny plenty of times and he's an awesome guy, but he can't take up a spot on a 25-man roster, at least not with this team. Sabean should ask Ronny Cedeno and/or Ryan Theriot to come to camp on a minor league deal and promise them a spot on the 25-man unless they get hurt or tank. Not saying it's the baseball bible or anything, but in regards to Cedeno, respected Yahoo! Sports writer, Jeff Passan, has him ranked above Hairston, Furcal, Bloomquist and Gonzalez on his free agent list.

I've been meaning to put up our projected 2012 roster already, but it seems like there really won't be many more changes from what they currently have. We'll still jot down who we believe will fill out the 25-man (could be some surprises in there for you!) tomorrow.
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Giants' Facing Key Non-Tender Decisions

Checking in from not so sunny Southern California here, and instead of out surfing, I'm catching up on the non-tender buzz because the weather is that bad and the water is that flat.

Instead of sitting out on a surfboard doing my best Kelly Slater impression, I've instead been drawn to the curiosity of the non-tender sit going down in baseball tonight. Obviously, if your following the offseason closely, you know that tonight at midnight eastern time is the deadline for teams to offer their arbitration eligible players contracts for the 2012 season. N0t only the potential free agents that will hit the market, but more importantly just who will still be on the Giants roster come tomorrow morning. The big battle that every one's talking about is tendering either Jeff Keppinger or Mike Fontetnot to become one of the Giants 2 likely backup infielders. Between the two, Fontenot brings better defense and is the more versatile player, but Keppinger has him beat at the plate, hands down. That said, I don't think I'd tender either a contract if I were Sabean. Keppinger, with his track record, could command nearly $4 million, and I could see better options than Keppinger hitting the market after tonight. The Giants have plenty of other arbitration eligible players, but none in danger of losing their job. The one possibility being Manny Burris. Boch and Sabes have been talking him up, but that could be an attempt to build his value. I really can't see him and Crawford holding down short in 2012.

As far as some potential non-tenders that the Giants could look at, I mentioned Ryan Theriot back in November, and still see him superior to Fontenot with the bat if the Giants are looking for a tougher out off the bench. There are a ton of players up for arbitration who won't likely be let go by their respective squads, but there are always those few surprise candidates.

As for possible utility infielders that could be let go are Boston's Jed Lowrie and although a lot less likely, Miami's Emilio Bonifacio. I'd even consider a trade for either, though I'm not sure how Bonifacio's defense would handle playing most his time at shortstop. He'd be a tremendous insurance policy for Freddy Sanchez though, I'll tell you that much. Lowrie's a nice player too, and could actually be a decent starting shortstop for the Giants but I highly doubt Boston lets him just walk like the pundits are saying. Any 27 year-old who hits 9 HR and has an .971 OPS in just over 100 ab's has major potential. Ideal target for San Francisco even if he doesn't get released. There aren't really any outfield candidates I see that could be let go, outside of Garrett Jones, who'd make a nice 4th or 5th outfielder and first base option, though the Giants already have two similar players in Huff and Belt. The name I heard surface today was D-Backs 28 year-old lefty, Joe Saunders. Ahh, yes please. Saunders would be a nice challenge to Zito for the fifth spot and provide the team another left-handed option. If they're serious about shoring up their pitching, again, they need an upgrade or backup option for that fifth spot.

Either way, we'll know a lot more come midnight!
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Friday, December 09, 2011

Giants' Winter Meetings Review

After an extremely quiet first three days in Dallas for the 2011 Winter Meetings, things picked up at a record pace on day four. One of the games biggest stars, Albert Pujols, found himself a new home in LA with the Angels, and he was quickly joined by C.J. Wilson to really solidify an underachieving Angels squad from last year.

As active as it was Thursday, the Giants were quiet after their deal for center fielder Angel Pagan, and Brian Sabean and Co. are relaying information that leads one to believe the Giants are done making any impact moves for their starting lineup. I still expect a utility infielder to come on eventually, though Sabes and Bochy are adamant that Manny Burris will start the year as the teams utility infielder/right-handed shortstop option. I like Manny, and on a deeper team with better starters, I think he makes a lot of sense as a utility/pinch run option, but the Giants don't need anymore light-hitting players on this roster. If they indeed plan to start the season with an outfield of Cabrera-Pagan-Schierholtz, left to right, as well as having Crawford at short on a daily basis, then I don't care how much Buster Posey heals and Pablo Sandoval contributes, this lineup will be identical to the 2011 group. Now, there's still plenty of time in the offseason for the Giants to change their tune, they've done so more than once in the past, and if a guy like Josh Willingham or even Carlos Beltran can't find a destination they like, then maybe the Giants sneak in and make a play for one of them. But right now, Sabean is giving all indications they aren't even considering another outfielder now that Pagan's around. I liked the Pagan deal as far as the the value of the trade, but I did fear that Sabes would consider him the final piece to the offensive puzzle when they still have needs.

I do think Pagan is better than Torres and will be in 2012, granted he returns to his normal defensive self in center and hits closer to .300 than .250. However, because they've failed to address their number one need heading into this offseason, and now appear content with where they stand, I have a hard time giving them any grade above a C/C- for the work they've done since the offseason started. They've essentially added two, top of the order, speedy contact hitters with average OBP's, yet they still don't have a guy on their roster who's a threat to hit 30 jacks in a given season or a shoe in for 100 RBI like most winning teams have. Pablo could be that guy, but he's more of a gap-to-gap line drive hitter than a real big home run threat. Now I'm not advocating that you need a player who hits 30-40 HR's a year on your roster in order to win, but with the questions at 2nd base and Sanchez's health, your .200 hitting shortstop, and your first basemen coming off a .240, sub-.700 OPS season, your offense needs more tinkering than a couple of speedy singles hitters.

Anyway, with the Winter Meetings now concluded, the next big step on the MLB calender will be the arbitration deadline date which I believe is December 12th. The Giants have decisions on Jeff Keppinger and Mike Fontenot and it wouldn't surprise me if both were non-tendered. Also, after that date, their will be a whole new slew of free agents hitting the market, so it's conceivable Sabean is waiting until that market opens up before getting to serious with any free agents.

Now, I'm off to Southern California for a week, and will try to take a small break from posting during that time, but certainly check back as I'll have the laptop and if something noteworthy goes down, I'll be all over it. Regular daily/bi-daily posting will return next Thursday! Hopefully Carlos Beltran has signed and the Giants have traded for Alexi Ramirez by then! Hey we can wish can't we?
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Thursday, December 08, 2011

W.M. Day 3: Giants Finished for Offseason?

If trading for Angel Pagan really killed any shot at retaining Beltran or getting another adequate power bat in here, than I'm starting to dislike the deal a little bit.

Sabean said in a mini-conference after the Pagan deal was announced that he Giants are "tapped out" as far as resources in both trade and free agency, and he doesn't expect another significant move before next season. They essentially said goodbye to Cody Ross and have apparently stopped what little talks they've had with Beltran's camp, and appear to be focused on bottom-of-the barrel infielders. If they don't succeed there, they're fully content with Manny Burris and Mike Fontenot backing up Sanchez and Crawford. The only thing worse than the last few sentences I posted would be that the Giants are planning on dealing Lincecum or Cain, but they may as well if they continue to diminish their offense. If they enter 2012 with their current bunch, I actually believe they would have declined over the team they ended with in 2011, and that's saying a whole lot. Granted, Buster Posey will be back and Huff will improve, they'll have the .200 hitting Crawford at short full time, along with a light-hitting, defensive oriented outfield. A first basemen who's largely hit or miss and a 2nd basemen coming off a season in which he missed 2/3 of with an injury that could haunt him throughout his career. That's a lot of questions for a team 2 years off a Championship!

Let's all hope Sabean is saying these things to send a message to agents/teams that he doesn't need to make another deal, thus lowering the asking prices, cause if this is the team we get in 2012, I predict a mirror image of the 2011 campaign. Time for Mr. Sabean to get creative and get a shortstop like Nakajima or move for a guy like Willingham. This team needs hitters and/or a shortstop who can handle the bat. If they fail to add one or the other, it's going to be another nail-biting year in SF in which the Giants come up short!
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Breaking! Giants Send Torres to NY for Pagan

Well, this one caught me a bit off-guard, even though I knew the Giants were actively involved in trade talks. But judging by the package they gave up, and the player they're getting in return, I think the Giants made out ahead in the Torres/Pagan swap.

The main question I have though, is how this will effect the rest of the Giants offseason plans and their pursuit of a power bat. Just hours after our post suggesting the Giants could deal for more outfield help, they indeed strike a deal, but it wasn't for exactly the type of player they needed. So, this deal really could go either way, but as far as the players involved in the deal, I do think Pagan was the best, especially if he shows up in pre-2011 form. Pagan would now would appear to become the everyday center fielder, with Melky Cabrera slated to move to a corner spot. There's a chance Pagan could enter as a fourth outfielder if the Giants are serious about starting Huff in left and Belt at first, but I'd be surprised if he's not starting in center on opening day. As good and surprising a year Andres Torres had in 2010, Pagan's was equal and better in some categories. Angel is the more talented ballplayer with more upside though he's had some questions come into play about his passion towards the game recently in NY and that's something you'll never hear of Torres. Pagan is a switch hitter who's four years younger and hits better from the right side, which again, improves the top of the order. He hasn't spent much time at the leadoff spot during his time in New York because of a guy named Jose Reyes, but his contact average, high on-base percentage and speed make him an ideal candidate. Now I do think this deal could definitely benefit the Giants, but again, like with the Cabrera deal, it all depends on which Pagan shows up in 2012. The one thing this deal cannot do is allow the Giants to become content with their current outfield, because if they enter with what they have now, it'd be one of the worst in baseball!

To sum this move up in a few sentences, the Giants got themselves a better baseball player than Torres, and a solid leadoff candidate. Torres was most likely facing a non-tender anyway, so I see this deal as more of Ramirez for Pagan. Ramirez is a significant loss for the bullpen, but luckily they have the depth to overcome that. Another aspect of this deal is that it opens up a spot on the 40-man roster for the Giants to possibly sign an infielder or a corner outfielder without releasing anyone. Also with Pagan and Cabrera each explosive players, I think it would be wise for Bochy to consider using them in the 1-2 in the order and move Sanchez down to 7.

Bottom line, this deal is very similar to the Cabrera/Sanchez trade. As long as Pagan shows up healthy and hungry in his walk year, and they can adequately replace Ramirez in the pen, who was a solid middle reliever for them, I'm confident the Giants will wind up the winners in this deal.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Giants Still Testing the Waters

What promised to be a very active Winter Meetings in Dallas has gotten off to a very quiet start. Outside of Jose Reyes signing with Miami, and a few small scale deals here and there, nothing of note has surfaced in Dallas yet, certainly not for San Francisco.

Instead of looking for ways to add offense in any capacity possible, Brain Sabean and the Giants brass have been more focused on working with what they have and saving money for long-term deals for their young pitching. I agree that Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum's long-term status in San Francisco needs to be prioritized, but having it dictate their whole offseason planning and jeopardizing the potential 2012 roster shouldn't be the byproduct. Because it's the Winter Meetings, and every baseball writer, blogger and serious fan are staying glued to their team's twitter feed, plenty of rumors have surfaced. One of the ones that caught me by surprise on Monday were the reports that the Giants put in a bid on Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. I've seen limited clips of Nakajimi through youtube and highlight video and I actually do like him as a player. He's right-handed with a steady bat and good glove, and would appear to be a good fit as a platoon partner for Brandon Crawford, but the price for bidding and the eventual contract is too big a risk in Sabean's eyes and he immediately shot that rumor down almost as quickly as it surfaced. Instead, it's been the same cast of characters that we've been hearing for most of the last couple weeks like Alex Gonzalez and Ryan Ludwick as well as potential strategy for if the team stands pat.

One piece of information that I found noteworthy in the first two days of the Meetings is that the Giants are indeed open to trading for offensive help. It makes a lot of sense when you consider how thin this free agent market is with impact hitters, and the price the few are demanding because of it, but I just don't see the Giants stocked with enough young talent right now to make any significant deal without drastically dipping into their minor league depth. There has been talks that they are shopping relievers, but the one thing that is easy to come by this time of year is a relief pitcher, so it's hard to believe a Ramon Ramirez would have much return value. That said, there are certainly some intriguing offensive options out there on the trade market. The White Sox are supposedly entering "Fire-Sale" mode after dealing Sergio Santos to Toronto, and are now shopping Carlos Quentin. Another name that has been kicked around this week, as well as back before the deadline before the Giants nabbed Carlos Beltran, is B.J. Upton. The 27 year-old's average has taken a major dip in the last couple of seasons, but his power is developing and he'd be a terrific add to the spacious outfield at AT&T Park. However, the other piece of info I found interesting is that there doesn't seem to be a big market for Carlos Beltran right now. Apparently only a couple of teams have expressed serious interest, and although the Giants keep saying they don't expect him back, I still think he's their best bet at getting/retaining an impact bat this winter.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

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.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Sabean Looking into Gonzalez, Shortstops

The Giants may have narrowed their search for a new shortstop in a shrinking market, but it's hardly the guy you were hoping for when the offseason started up last month. After announcing Sabean and Bochy had their contracts extended through 2014, the Giants went public with their interest in free agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez.

First, the big news from this week regarding the Giants was the announcement of the renewal of both Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean's contracts through the 2014 season. At the conference call, we heard much of the same talk that the front office has been spewing out this whole offseason; "Pitching is Priority #1" and "We Won't Make a Big Splash in FA". These announcements should come as little surprise to any Giants' fan, but I'm a little unclear on what exactly Sabean means by "Big Splash" free agent. We all knew they weren't going to be in on Fielder or Pujols before the offseason even starter and Sabean made it quite clear that the top shortstops, Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins, won't be heading to San Francisco any time soon either. My question for Sabean and the front office is, however, what exactly constitutes a Big Splash signing? Do they consider Beltran a "Big Splash" signing, cause I do and if they're publicly backing off Beltran already, that would rub me the wrong way. Sabean and Baer have been so vocal this winter about wanting to shore up their pitching and lock up their young arms for the foreseeable future, yet what young pitcher on the rise is going to want to stick around a place where he'll struggle to hit double-digit wins, despite putting up CY Young numbers, just because the team can't figure out free agency for the life of them.

Onto the latest report surfacing from Giants headquarters, that they indeed are seriously considering bringing in Alex Gonzalez to split time with Brandon Crawford at shortstop. I hate this idea for more than one reason, and feared these two crossing each other's paths weeks ago. Gonzalez is still an adequate defender up the middle, but is one of the easiest outs in baseball. He's got power, but hasn't had an OBP over .300 since 2007. I fear Sabean just see's his 23 HR/88 RBI 2010 season and ignores his .642 OPS. The Giants don't need another declining shortstop with average power and no on base skill. None of these over-the-hill veteran shortstops have worked out in the slightest for the Giants, yet here they are, right back at square one. Sure, Renteria won a World Series here and had his moments in the playoffs, but it was Juan Uribe out there down the stretch. The problem facing the Giants though, is the lack of middle infield options on the free agent market, but if it's going to come to this, I'd just assume see them bring in Jerry Hairston as the utility guy and hand Crawford the job. The only veteran shortstop coming off a down year I'd consider, and only on a cheap one-year deal, is Rafael Furcal, just because he's got attributes that can help a club even when his bat is slumping.
_________________________________________________ Get expert matchup reports and predictions on every single MLB game at Doc's Sports click Here _________________________________________________
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