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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Giants Banking on 2010 Recipe for 2012

When I look up and down the Giants roster, as is right now, it really reminds me a lot of the bunch they had entering the 2010 season. But instead of Buster Posey pushing for Bengie Molina's job, this year it will be Brandon Belt in the hunt for Aubrey Huff's first base job.

Now, being that the Giants failed to add any real legitimate power to their lineup, and haven't added a bunch of new personnel to their 25-man roster at all, in order for their offense to turn around in 2012, they need guys like Aubrey Huff, who were miserable in 2011, to get back on track. If he doesn't, and either Brandon Belt or Brett Pill outperform him throughout the spring and the early part of the season, I hope the Giants won't hesitate to make the switch to the younger, more valuable player, much like they did when they shipped Bengie Molina out of town to make room for Buster Posey in 2010. That move was one that helped catapult them into the playoffs and eventually to the top of the baseball world. Like the 2010 team, this team coming in may still be a player or two away from being legit World Series contenders, depending on how guys like Freddy Sanchez (coming off brutal injury), Posey and Huff all perform. If all of them are at the 2010 levels, than this team should have enough offense as is to be factor in the National League. The Giants' brass must have entered this offseason with that strategy all along, because not only did they fail to re-sign Cody Ross and Carlos Beltran who each got very reasonable deals, they ruled out those two players almost immediately after free agency began, and it appeared like they just never really wanted either of them back. All the while, we sit here in February and the team has just 3 true outfielders under contract.

Replacing the trio of Beltran, Ross and Torres enters the two newest additions to the starting outfield, Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera. Neither are bad players by any stretch, but both possess pretty similar skill-sets and neither is considered a middle-of-the-order power bat that the Giants really needed. Both are more top of the order type hitters that don't get on base at very high levels, so neither player is a perfect fit in the leadoff spot, though I'm assuming that Pagan will get that assignment come opening day. Pagan is another guy, like Posey, like Sanchez, like Huff, who the Giants are really hoping reverts back to 2010 form. Pagan had a very up-and-down season in 2011, which saw him start out miserably, then have spurts of good play, but not enough of them to overcome the bad start and ended up with a pedestrian .262 average and .322 on-base percentage, neither of which would be adequate for a leadoff hitter. The one area which he'll undoubtedly help out though is on the base paths, where he's got the ability to steal 40-50 bags a season if he stays healthy and gets on base. That's an element at the leadoff spot that this team hasn't really had since the days of Darren Lewis and Darrell Hamilton. Torres was as fast as they come, but his speed didn't really translate into great base-stealing ability like Pagan's does, and that should be an asset to a team that will need to manufacture a lot of their runs the hard way.

So in some ways this team differs form the 2010 squad with the young shortstop being handed the starting job and new and improved team speed, but some parallels are uncanny. They have Huff coming off a bad season like he was after 2009. They have the young guy pushing the veteran at first base instead of catcher this time around, and they have an outfield that's still very much up in the air in terms of where guys will play and who ends up in center. That outfield could also get another addition or two before opening day or early on in the year, much like the 2010 team went after Pat Burrell then later, Cody Ross.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Giants Sign SS Ryan Theriot to One-Year Deal

It took a lot longer than I was expecting, but the Giants finally added a little bit of depth/competition to their middle infield mix this spring by agreeing to terms with Ryan Theriot on a one-year deal worth about $1.25 million.

I like this move quite a bit, not because I expect Theriot to be a long-term answer at short for the Giants, but it gives the team depth in the infield when they really needed it and provides some competition heading into spring. It's a non-guaranteed deal, meaning unless Theriot beats out Burris or Fontenot in spring for an opening day roster spot, that contract becomes void, leaving him with plenty of incentive to show up rearing to go. Theriot isn't quite as good defensively at short as he was 3-4 years ago, but he's still the best option the Giants now have there besides Crawford. Again though, the best part of this deal is the fact that it ensures that guys like Burris or Justin Christian aren't going to be just handed a job do to lack of options. Lack of options or resources should not be an issue for this franchise when they have the expectations they do. Theriot was the starting shortstop for the World Champion Cardinals for most of last season, until they acquired Rafael Furcal because nagging injuries were hampering Theriot's range at short, but before last season, his defensive numbers looked a lot better, at least in terms of his fielding percentage numbers. And when you check the offensive numbers he put up in the first half with the Cards (.285, 91 hits, .331 OBP) you see the upside he has, and would be a huge step up from what the team was getting their in 2011. The last time he spent the full season in one spot playing everyday (with Chicago in '09) he put up very good numbers, to the tune of .284/7/54 with 21 steals and a .343 OBP after putting up a .307 average and .387 OBP in '08. Theriot's a proven tough out, who doesn't swing and miss a whole lot, and will get on base at a respectable pace. Is a he a great shortstop? Not by any stretch, but he's better than he showed towards the end of 2011, both offensively and defensively. For $1.25 million, the Giants could have done a lot worse.

Theriot was a guy who I mentioned a lot here when I discovered the frugal path the Giants were taking this offseason, because I knew he'd be cheap and he's got the potential to take the shortstop job if Brandon Crawford struggles out of the gate. Now, in a perfect world, Theriot doesn't need to become that starting shortstop cause Crawford will take that next step and become a decent hitter. I expect Crawford to start the year at shortstop no matter what kind of spring he has (unless he really tanks and Theriot shines) but with the Giants really pushing to get back to postseason in 2012, they won't have so much patience with him this time around, especially now that they have a viable backup. Now, I'm curious to see what other names Sabean and Co. are currently looking into. Xavier Nady is one that was tossed out today, but I'd steer clear of him since he hasn't done anything in years. There aren't really any outfielders left on the market, or at least any that make a lot of sense for the Giants to add, but he could be looking at potential fifth starter types. Edwin Jackson and Javier Vazquez are two guys who would be clear upgrades to Zito in the fifth spot, but I don't think Sabean is looking to spend that much. Rich Harden could be a bargain bin type guy, and I'd like him because he could come out of the pen too if need be, but I just don't see Sabean getting that big of a name. If they are still looking at outfielders, the one guy sitting out there who could play some right field for this team, in a backup role, platoon, or possibly even a starter, is Maglio Ordonez. No, he's no spring chicken at 37, but he is just a year removed from putting up a .303/12/59 line in just over a half of play in 2010 and I think still has some thunder left in that bat. For a deal similar to Ross' or Theriot's got, I'd certainly be interested in Ordonez's right-handed bat?

The Giants also inked 32 year-old reliever Clay Hensley to a one-year, $750,000 deal to essentially take on the spot that Ramon Ramirez has occupied the last year and a half. Hensley struggled some in 2011 with a 6-7 record and 5.19 era splitting time between the rotation and bullpen for Florida. However, in 2010, used strictly as a reliever, Hensley was one of the best in the game, recording a 2.16 era and 77 K's over 75 innings of work allowing just 3 home runs on the season in a pretty good hitters yard. He also recorded 22 holds and 7 saves for the Marlins that year, showing his ability to pitch late innings with the game on the line. The Giants now appear to have their 5-man rotation and 7-man bullpen all set though they still could add some arms to their invite list before spring reporting dates.

Also, again, if you guys haven't yet tuned into my interview from Thursday night with The Baseball Page's Phil Naessans Show, here's the link to it right here. It was one of the funner interviews I've been a part of during my time doing sports blogs, podcasts and shows, as he does his shows from Greece and it's really good stuff, so be sure to check it out!
The Giants Baseball Blog

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Giants Notes: Lincecum Signs, Ross to Boston

Well, even though I touched on it a little bit in our last post, I haven't really had a chance to get my thoughts out on the new Lincecum deal since he and the Giants agreed earlier in the week. Also, on the other end of things, the Giants missed out on shoring up their outfield by letting Cody Ross sign in Boston for only $3 million in 2012.

First off, obviously, wanted to talk a bit about Lincecum. I've already said here that I didn't expect him to sign a long-term deal that takes him through free agency, but it doesn't mean he wants to leave San Francisco like everyone is suspecting. I mean, if I were Lincecum, I'd probably do the same thing, even if I planned on eventually signing with the Giants long-term. Why take a chance at mitigating your value to just sign a deal? Granted, a 5 year, $100 million deal isn't anything to sneeze at, in this market, if he were a free agent, Lincecum could probably easily command a 8 year, $200 million deal. If he could get something like that in 2 years when he hits free agency, why would he sign a deal now that potentially takes a bunch of money from his pocket in the long term? At the same time though, you look at a guy like Matt Cain, who's made no bones about it, he wants to stay here, and he'll likely give the Giants a hometown discount in order to do so. People keep mentioning Jered Weaver as a comparable player to Cain and they do matchup very well. Weaver signed a five year deal with the Angels last year for just $85 million, which is probably $25 million less than he'd get on an open market, but he was more concerned with staying in Anaheim. What Lincecum's deal does do, is give this team financial certainty for the next two seasons, and now that they have that with both Sandoval and Lincecum, they can more easily assess what they can spend on someone like Cain, who'll be a free agent after the season.

I just see Lincecum as a guy who's taking his agents advice and going as close to year-to-year as possible until he'd be free to have teams compete for his services. He probably sees these 200 million dollar deals that are getting tosses out now seemingly every winter, and figures he's as sure of bet as any to land one of those when he's able and that means Lincecum will be more focused than ever over the next 2 seasons. Don't worry about Timmy, he's not going anywhere, at least anytime soon. On the other hand, we can't say the same about 2010 postseason hero Cody Ross, who Brian Sabean blatantly said would not be back after the season, then stubbornly stuck to his guns, even though Ross signed for only 3 million with Boston, less than 1/2 of what he made in 2011. I'm sure if you told Sabean back in October he could get Ross on a1 year, 3 million dollar deal, he would have been open to it, but instead it's like he wrote Ross off and never even bothered to follow up with him and see if they could come back to him later in the winter. I mean, $3 million isn't a bad deal for a league average 4th outfielder, let alone a guy like Ross who can be a legit starter and was one of the more clutch hitters the Giants have had recently. I'm having a bit of trouble getting over this one, cause right now, this team has now 4th outfielder, let alone one as versatile and talented as Ross. Heck, I kept saying all year that I think a healthy Ross would beat out either Pagan or Schierholtz for a starting spot, and at $3M, how does a team desperate for offense ignore that?

So yes, there was some good for the Giants over the last week, buying Sandoval and Lincecum through their arbitration years, but there was also some missed opportunities if you ask me. The Giants offseason business is now essentially finished, though they could still scrape the bottom of the barrel for spring training invites, and I think they could have done a better job at filling out their roster. There were some good players out there that went cheaply that could have been upgrades over players who will be on this teams' 25-man roster, and for a large market team with Championship aspirations, you look to improve your roster at every chance you get, whether it's adding additional outfielders like Ross to create competition or a utility guy like Jerry Hairston Jr. who could have really solidified the bench. The Giants were too content this winter, for a team coming off a putrid offensive season.

Again, be sure to check out The Baseball Page tonight, as I join Phil Naessens' podcast to talk about the upcoming Giants season and some of the things they did, and didn't do, this winter. I'll get a link posted up to the interview tomorrow, but they'll have it on their site tonight at 9 PM.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Monday, January 23, 2012

Lincecum Says No to $100MM, 5-Year Deal

If the Giants were counting on Lincecum giving the team a hometown discount, they may want to think again, after reports surfaced Monday that the ace right-hander turned down a 5 year, $100 million contract.

Now, that deal would have only bought Lincecum out of 3 years of free agency, and would have freed him up when he turned 32. At that age, he'd easily be up for another long-term, big money deal as long as he keeps up his dominant ways, so it is a little bit concerning. However, I don't at all see this as a sign that he wants out of San Francisco like everyone in the media is trying to make it out to be. All this really tells me, is that Lincecum isn't going to give the team a hometown discount, and after the numbers he's put up, he's got the right to do so. He's arguably one of the most valuable pitchers in the game right now, based on the fact that he's not only a dominant ace with 2 Cy Youngs already at 27, but a fan favorite who will fill up a ballpark every single time he takes the mound. If he were a free agent in this 2011-12 class, after seeing the deals Pujols and Fielder each fetched, it's conceivable to think he could have easily gotten that 8 year/$200 Million deal he's seeking, so why settle for 5 years and a measly $100 million if your in that position? At the same time, I think it was a perfectly legit offer from the Giants side, and I actually suggested the make that exact offer in our last post after the two exchanged arbitration numbers. They made the offer, and they couldn't get him to bite, and I'm not surprised by either of those happenings. It just tells me that, unless he's blown away by an offer, Tim Lincecum wants to go into free agency. Doesn't mean he wants out of San Francisco, in fact, I think he very much wants to remain a Giant. I think in the end, it may be a good thing too, as it gives the Giants financial stability over the next 2 years and gives each party a huge window of time to either hammer out something long-term. Tim's a great young arm, but you hardly ever see long-term contracts given to starters work out really well. Sabathia and Halladay have been exceptions lately, but outside of those two, there aren't many pitchers who've signed big $100 million deals and had it work out so well for their respective ballclub (Zito, Santana and Burnett are a few).

So no, I'm not ready to panic at all, and start thinking of scenarios in which you trade Lincecum just yet. However, if the Giants aren't able to come to terms with Timmy on a longer term contract by the time the 2013 season gets going, then you start thinking about the "what if's" and get into possible trading scenario's, but regardless, I just have a hard time seeing Lincecum in any other uniform any time soon, including the 2014 season. Whether it's 1-2 years, I still see the Giants buying Lincecum out of at least 1-2 of his free agent years. I wouldn't be surprised if they expanded on their offer of 5 years, and maybe added another $15 million or so onto the total. At the same time though, they need to keep in mind they have their other ace scheduled for free agency after this upcoming 2012 season, and they absolutely need to figure out a way to keep both. I mean, Brian Sabean has done next to nothing in free agency the last few years, outside of retaining Aubrey Huff, and the thinking was that they're tucking some money away to ensure they sign both Cain and Lincecum, and if they don't end up keeping both beyond 2013, I'd consider the approach Sabean's taken a complete bust. They could have spent $30 million or so and gotten themselves an all-star outfielder for another two years in keeping Beltran, but they decided to save that money for Lincecum and Cain. They could have went after Yeonis Cespedes or even Michael Cuddyer or Josh Willingham to get some more offense, but instead ruled out all impact free agents because they're plan to sign Cain and Lincecum.

To sum it up in a few short sentences I'd just say this to Sabean and the Giants' brass: You've shyed away from being active in the free agent market, really ever since the Zito and Rowand debacles, and you guys kept saying the long-term goal was to retain your pitching. And since you've passed on free agent, everyday players who can help your team now (when you know you have Lincecum and Cain) in order to ensure you have money freed up for guys like Lincecum and Cain when their time came, you better make darn sure your able to keep both of them long-term. If they fail to do so, that plan blows up in their faces and they end up blowing their window of opportunity while Timmy and Matty are still together. That's why I hate the strategy of putting, essentially, all your eggs in one basket, which is the approach the Giants are openly taking.

I also wanted to give you guys a heads up that I'll be joining Phil Naessens from The Baseball Page on Thursday night at 7 PM on his show, talking Giants baseball and the upcoming 2012 season. Be sure to check that out, we'll also be posting up a reminder Thursday afternoon as well as on our Twitter and Facebook pages so follow us if you aren't already!

NOTE: The Giants have come to an agreement with Tim Lincecum, buying out his last two years of arbitration with a 2 year, $40.5 million deal. This doesn't necessarily change the status of his long-term plans, though it is good to see the two parties come to an agreement on something, finally.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lincecum Now Last Giant Seeking 2012 Contract

After the Giants came to deals with nearly all their arbitration eligible players this week, including signing Sergio Romo to a one-year deal Friday, the teams final arbitration eligible player is also their biggest. Even though their preliminary figures were $4.5 million off, I still expect the Giants and their ace to come to terms before they'd be forced to go before an arbiter.

The Giants gave one of the premiere set-up men in the game in Sergio Romo, a one-year, $1.5 million deal. That's more than double what he made in 2011, but the right-hander has really earned it as he's become one of the games premiere set-up men. The only minor concern I have with Romo is his durability. At such a young age (28), you'd expect him to be able to take on more of work-load than the 49 innings he threw in 2011, but none the less, the 49 innings he threw in 2011 were pretty darn dominant. He ended the season with a 1.5 era, 70 K's, 5 BB's, and a 0.71 WHIP over those 48 innings, which are some pretty gaudy numbers. Anytime your over 1.5 K's per inning, that's something special, and Romo is right there, but what's even more impressive is his uncanny command. Five walks in 20 innings isn't bad, let alone 48, and when you couple that with 70 K's, the ratio is ridiculous. He gave up some big home runs during the 2010 championship run, but kept his composure enough to finish off well during the championship run, then just destroy National League hitters in 2011, his first as a full-time set-up man. Again though, he had some arm troubles in September that hopefully came from all the work in 2010, pitching until November, then all the K's early on in 2011. And with the signing of Romo, the contract the given to Sandoval and the one-year deals dished out to Nate Schierholtz, Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan in the last few days, the Giants have taken care of all their arbitration players except Lincecum.

I mentioned in the last post that I thought Lincecum would wind up at $18+ million, and I still think he' gets around $18-19M. As good as he's been during his young career, it's tough for any arbitration player to ask for north of $20 million, even one as accomplished as Lincecum. Heck, it's tough to net $20 million per year as an accomplished free agent in his prime, let alone a player in his arbitration years. That said, if anyone is worth it, Lincecum is, with his 2 Cy Young's and incredible numbers he's piled up since 2008. The thing I think that's holding the two parties up, is the Giants trying to encourage Lincecum's party to take a multi-year deal, like they were able to do with Pablo Sandoval. Whether it's a 3 year deal that buys out a year of free agency or a 5-year deal (which is what I think the club really wants to do), I think the Giants are trying to persuade Lincecum into taking one or the other, but I see Timmy sticking to his guns and taking only a deal for the 2012 season for now. It's just a question as to how much he'll end up getting. If I'm the Giants, I show some good faith now, hoping it comes back to help them in the end, and give Timmy his $20 million and let him set a new record. They don't have to go $21.5M like Lincecum's asking, but I bet if they offered $20M, Lincecum's agents would jump all over it. They shouldn't let the difference of $2-3 million bucks cause any ill will with their star pitcher when they're trying to sign him long-term.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Giants Agree to Terms with Pagan, Cabrera

Well, you can mark off the two newest Giants on the list of arbitration eligible players who still need deals. The Giants inked each outfielder to one-year deals and avoided any hearing with Santiago Cassilla by inking the reliever to a one-year deal as well.

Melky Cabrera, who the Giants shipped off Jonathan Sanchez for, ended up getting a one-year, $6 million deal, and will become a free agent after this upcoming season. After the season Cabrera just had, I have to consider Cabrera's figure pretty reasonable. Dude hit over .300 with over 200 hits, 20 homers, 20 steals, and had over 100 runs scored, all of which are very good benchmarks in terms of arbitration. With Pagan, the Giants may end up getting a steal at $4.85 million for 2012. It's been said more than once this offseason, as long as the Giants get a determined Pagan, and get him back closer to his 2010 form, then they'll have themselves a very affordable, legit leadoff hitter (something they didn't have at any point in 2011). So the Giants ended up locking up their two big offseason acquisitions for about $10M total, and that's not a bad figure. I honestly thought both would get at least 6 million, so this is a pleasant surprise and may free up some extra cash for another addition or two. We talked at length in our last post about the options that still remain for the Giants to upgrade their roster, and none appear any closer to deals now than they have all offseason. Cassilla, who filled in at closer at times last season for a banged up Brian Wilson, ended up signing for a very affordable $2.2M for 2012. All Cassilla has done since dawning a Giants uni in 2010 has rocked a 1.84 ERA and notched nearly a K an inning while filling in admirably for B-Weezy when the closers needed a rest or been shelved.

Now, the Giants did end up getting three, very key guys locked up and taken care of for 2012, but they still have some very important pieces still waiting to figure out their 2012 contracts. The two most notable are obviously, Tim Lincecum, who's bound for a record figure and should net around $18 million or more for 2012. Also, Pablo Sandoval remains without a 2012 contract, and while he won't be nearly as costly as Timmy, it would be in the Giants best interest to try and get him locked up long-term right now. I don't know what Pablo is looking for but I know he loves San Francisco and wants to remain a Giant, so he'd probably be very open to a long-term contract, which in the end, would probably cost the Giants less than going year-to-year through arbitration until he's a free agent in 2015. I'd try and give him a 5 year/$40 million offer and see if he bit. That would come out to be around $8M annually and keep Pablo in Orange and Black until he was a 30 year old, and buyout a year of free agency. It's a figure I could definitely live with, especially when you consider all Pablo has accomplished at his young age. He's been an all-star, he's had 3 really successful seasons in the bigs, granted one was only a two month stint, and he's still a ways away from even entering his prime (25 years old). As much as the Giants need Lincecum and Cain around long-term, they also need to make sure they have quality guys surrounding them, and Pablo should be right there after Timmy and Matty in terms of players needing multi-year deals. I really think that if the Giants play their cards right, they can probably get Pablo now for a fraction of a price that he'll end up costing them on a year-to-year basis through arbitration. He puts up another season like last year or 2009 and he can go into arbitration next winter and already start asking for double-figures ($10+ million).

Also hitting arbitration for the first time with Pablo, are Nate Schierholtz and Sergio Romo, and the Giants still have to figure out Mike Fontenot's figure for 2012. Of the three, it wouldn't surprise me if the Giants ended up giving Romo a multi-year deal after the success he's shown over 2010 and 2011. He's established himself as one of the leagues premiere set-up men as evident by his 1.50 ERA, 70 K to 5 BB ratio and a 0.71 WHIP over 49 innings in 2011.

NOTE: Since the post, the Giants have exchanged figures with Lincecum, coming up with a $4.5M difference ($17M to $21.5M). As I thought, he'll probably end up getting right around $18-19M. The Giants also signed Nate Schieholtz, knocking another off the list, to a very reasonable $1.2 million dollar deal. I thought he'd wind up getting closer to $2-3M, but I'll take it. I expect a resolution with Timmy soon as well..... Also, the team must have read my post, because literally hours after I wrote this suggesting they extend Pablo Sandoval, they sign him to a 3-year extension for just over $17 million which is huge in terms that the Giants won't have to deal with Pablo in arbitration any more. In all seriousness, I knew nothing about an impending extension when writing this, but I knew the Giants were interested as was Panda. This is a lot like the deal they gave Brian Wilson, only they're only giving Pablo about $5.75 million per season when I thought he'd get at least $5-6 million in arbitration this year, and possibly double that next winter with another .315/25/90 campaign. Great signing and deserving recipient!
The Giants Baseball Blog

Saturday, January 14, 2012

FA's Still Available Who Could Fill Giant Needs

Here we are, about a month to the day until pitchers and catchers report to Scottsdale, and though it appears as if the Giants offseason activity is probably over, there are still several players available on the free agent market that I believe could improve the team's 25-man roster.

Now, being that it is well into January, most of the premiere guys have already found homes, and the ones that haven't (Prince Fielder, Carlos Pena, Roy Oswalt) probably won't land in a Giants uniform. However, there are still just a few guys I've kept my eye on over the last few weeks, and if they approach February without homes, would certainly be worth taking a flyer on, especially on a short-term deals. Those players are:

Cody Ross, OF: Ever since the Giants struck out on Beltran, I've made it more than clear that I want Cody Ross back in a Giants uniform. So much to the point where I should put under the heading of the page, "Bring Back the Boss!" In all seriousness though, he's probably the most complete outfielder left out there, not counting the mysterious Yeonis Cespedes (still don't know where he's going to land, sure would be great in SF, but the Giants wouldn't spend on Beltran, so doubt they pursue Cespedes). Whether it's a 4th outfielder, or back as the starting RF, or if it's platooning with Nate Schierholtz, whatever the role may be, but the Giants have a huge need for another player with experience at all outfield spots who can knock the ball out of the ballpark. It also helps that he knows how to play right field here and is great in that clubhouse. I just have that feeling that whoever lands Cody Ross for 2012 will be mighty glad they did as I see a big comeback year for the 31 year-old (especially with the way he ended 2011). What I'd offer? 1 year - $6M, plus a full team option for a 2nd.

Ryan Theriot, IF: He and the next guy I'm going to mention are basically the only two infielders really left worth gambling on with major league deals. There are other guys I wouldn't mind offering an invite to spring training (like Jack Wilson or someone like that) but Theriot, while not terrifically gifted defensively, can handle the bat pretty well and has a ton of experience at shortstop and 2nd base. He's had some injury issues a bit the last couple of seasons, but the last time he was really healthy the whole year in '09, he had a respectable .284/7/54 line with 21 steals and a .343 OBP. He's not a guy who's going to be a game changer one way or the other, but he'd offer a solid veteran influence and insurance for both Freddy Sanchez and Brandon Crawford. What I'd offer: Spring Training invite with $2M guaranteed if makes team out of spring.

Wilson Betemit, IF: Now, this guy is only attractive because of one quality, and that is he can flat out hit right-handed pitching. Unfortunately for the Giants, the one infield spot he's probably least comfortable at is shortstop, where they really need a reliable backup, but he'd be a great guy to have coming off the bench or backing up Freddy Sanchez in case his injuries persist. I'd much rather have Betemit and Fontenot as the two reserve infielders over Fontenot and Burris, especially if you get Wilson at a discounted price for a year. What I'd offer? 1 year - $3M.

Edwin Jackson, SP: He's the one remaining FA not named Fielder who I'd actually give a multi-year deal to, but definitely no more than 3 and only if the price were really good. I mentioned earlier in the offseason about Jackson being a 2-part addition. Insurance in case Matt Cain decides he wants to pitch where he can get some offensive backing after 2012 when he's free. Also, it makes the Giants 2012 rotation stupid good which, in turn, would make their soft offense more palatable. I mean, if your going for the pitching/defense mantra, why not go all out? They'd have a Lincecum-Cain-Bumgarner-Vogelsong-Jackson rotation, all guys who bring it and are extremely tough at-bats. Not to mention Jackson's style is perfectly suited for AT&T, a lot like Matt Cain's (fly ball/strikeout guy). Now, it would certainly come at some cost, as Jackson should get close to $8-10 million per year. But based on age (28) and his last couple of seasons (49-41, 3.79 ERA, 1.29 WHIP since '08), I think he's worth it in this market. What I'd offer? 3 years - $24M, with 4th year team option.

Maglio Ordonez, OF: Now, Ordonez is a guy who I haven't really talked about much here this offseason, but isn't too far removed from being a very efficient hitter in one of the toughest hitters parks in baseball. Magg-Pipes is hit 12 homers with 59 RBI before suffering an injury that limited him to 84 games in 2010 and he never really got right in 2011. He'll be 38 by opening day, but for some reason, I see another year or two of killing left-handed pitching for Maggs, and if the Giants could get him on a dirt cheap deal to help out Nate in right, then why not? Better than having Justin Christian backing up Schierholtz. Rather have Cody though, but since they seem dis-interested in him, I wonder if Sabean would look at Ordonez? What I'd offer? 1 year, $3.5M + Incentives.

If all else fails, and the Giants aren't able to land one or two of the above mentioned five players, a few guys I would look to as last resort options would be outfielder Ryan Ludwick and maybe even infielder Willie Harris as well. As they stand now, the Giants have Justin Christian as their 4th outfielder, with the notoriously injury-prone Nate Scheirholtz penciled in as the starting right fielder. I know Brandon Belt figures to get some at-bats in the outfield, but even so, I think this team needs a cheap, right-handed bat that can hit the ball out of the yard and play the corner spots. Ludwick would give the team right handed option, for right field, though far less of one than Cody Ross and doesn't have camaraderie with this team like Cody does. Fact is though, Ludwick hit pretty well until he moved to Petco then was shipped to and used sparingly in Pittsburgh, plus he's a good RBI guy. Heck, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports!, who I think is one of the better national baseball writers out there, actually ranks Ludwick ahead of Ross in his FA rankings. Harris is like a swiss-army knife, and can do some different things at the plate and in the field. He's got some sneaky power (30 HR's as part timer from '08-'10), during which span he managed a .745 OPS, and gets on base at an above average rate (.351 OBP in 2011). He's a journeyman who's shown that he's a tough out, can run and play anywhere but pitcher, catcher and first base, and is the epitome of a utility guy and 25th man. I'd love to see him and Manny B. battle it out for a roster spot in March!

BTW, being a San Francisco sports fan, how about them Niners!
The Giants Baseball Blog

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ryan Vogelsong Signs 2-year Extension

What has been an extremely quiet last couple of weeks in the Giants world, they finally made some headlines as they retained their right-handed breakout star from 2011, Ryan Vogelsong for 2 more seasons with a third year option.

Seeing as the Pagan and Cabrera deals were each trades, this is by far the best signing the Giants have gotten done this winter, as they will have Vogelsong's services for the 2012 and 2013 season, for less than $4.5 million per. Now if he puts up numbers close to the ones he did last season, I'm not expecting a sub-2 era again, but 12-15 wins and a 3.50'ish era would be just fine by me as long as he keeps that WHIP under 1.30 and strikes out his usual 5-7 batters per game. The deal is such a good deal when you look around the league and see decent level mid-relievers making 4 million per season, and the Giants got a top-end starter, when on, for that price. Certainly the coup of the offseason thus far by Mr. Sabean, even though it was just a signing of one of their own players. Vogey burst onto the scene with a huge 2011 going 13-7 with a 2.71 era and a 1.25 WHIP. He also struck out 139 batters in just over 170 innings of work (remember, he wasn't put into the rotation until early May. Spread that out an extra month and you have 4-5 more starts and easily 150 K's and probably 15 wins, which in itself is a very good bench mark for a starting pitcher. Again though, Giants fan's shouldn't be surprised if his numbers dip a little bit in 2012, as the league has had a chance to adjust to him. Although still rock-solid (3.16 era in 2nd half), his post all-star numbers were a little down, or in some cases up, from before the break, so his start to 2012 will definitely be something to keep an eye on.

Now if only the Giants could get so lucky with Matt Cain and Timmy Lincecum. Cain is inked through 2012, but is free to sign anywhere he wants after the season, which is a scary thought, and Timmy is in the same position, just he won't be freed up until after 2013, giving the Giants an extra year to negotiate should they keep at a stand-still. Right now, I think the Giants really should be focusing on what the future is with Cain. I mentioned earlier in the offseason that giving someone like Edwin Jackson a 2-3 year deal wouldn't be so bad, giving the team insurance in case Cain were to bolt after the season, while ultimately strengthening the pitching staff. Think of a 2012 rotation with Lincecum-Cain-Bumgarner-Vogelsong-Jackson. A guy who'd be a #2 or 3 on a lot of teams would be this teams 5 and push Zito to the bench (or off the roster should he bomb in Scottsdale). Either way, if they don't think they're going to be able to get both Timmy and Matty signed (which I don't believe should be the case since this team draws 3.5 million fans per season and is one of the largest markets in all of sports), then they need to have a plan B. As much as I like Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, to me, is the present and the future of this franchise. He's probably going to age like Pedro Martinez and continue to be effective with that change-fastball combo well into his 30's, plus he's a freakish athlete (hence "The Freak") so no I'm not worried about Tim Lincecum breaking down when he gets into his 30's.

Speaking of Tim, the Giants do have some arbitration cases that have a deadline quickly approaching and have to figure out salary numbers for key players like Pablo Sandoval, Nate Schierholtz and Sergio Romo. There's no chance the Giants can lose any of these guys, but these processes can sometimes cause rifts between players and organizations if they have to go in front of an arbiter. I don't think the deadline is until early February, but the earlier you get 'em signed, the better in my opinion!
The Giants Baseball Blog

Monday, January 09, 2012

Giants Inactivity A Cause for Concern

I know Ronny Cedeno isn't going to get anybody excited or optimistic, but the 27 year-old was, not too long ago, a top prospect in the Cubs organization. Granted, he hasn't yet materialized at the big league level, I still think he's well worth the $1.15 million he'll make to back up Ruben Tejada for the Mets, and could have been a defensive utility guy the Giants could have used.

Sure, missing out on Cedeno isn't some big blunder by any means, but in the grand scheme of things, as I've said all winter, I wouldn't mind another option up the middle outside of Manny Burris and Mike Fontenot. Cedeno is a terrific defender, who's near gold-glove caliber at short and above average at second, so if your motto is pitching and defense (like the Giants), this guy would appear to have fit in nicely. Even though Cedeno had an off year with the bat in 2011, in roughly a full-season's worth of at-bats (616) spread out over '09 and '10, he put up a .258 average with 13 home runs, 59 RBI with 14 steals to go with that great defense. What really weighs him down though, is his low on-base percentage, which sits at .297 for his career. I could very well see this guy becoming a late bloomer, a la Jose Bautista, obviously not a power hitter like that, but becoming a .300 hitter or so eventually, and that would make him a pretty good player (I mean, he was a premium prospect just 4-5 years ago so he's got the talent). I'm sure Sabean at least inquired about Cedeno and tried to see if they could get him in on a minor league deal since the 40-man is full and they likely wouldn't want to cut anyone lose for Cedeno. It's not like he's the difference between the Giants contending and not, but again, I would have liked to see Sabean pro-active in his attempt to upgrade this roster, especially if you can get a middle infielder that can pick it and provide some competition for Burris and Fontenot heading into Scottsdale next month!

With Cedeno off the market now, it leaves the middle infield options dwindling down. With Freddy's uncertainty and injury-ridden past, and Brandon Crawford's greenness, the Giants seriously need to look into another option on the free agent market, and there still are a couple infielders waiting to be snagged. The two guys I like the most that are left, are Ryan Theriot, who could actually start at short for this team if Crawford proves again that he's not to hit at this level, and Wilson Betemit, who would be a sound insurance policy for Freddy Sanchez at 2nd, while also playing some 3rd base. He's another guy, who in 2010 and 2011 combined got about 1 season's worth of at-bats, and put up some sneaky good numbers (.290/21/89/.844 OPS). The only reason teams are scared off is because of the 29 year-old's sketchy defense (.947 fielding percentage in '11), but the Giants already have a bunch of glove-guys on their roster. A Betemit signing improves the bench tenfold, and yes, I would drop someone like Tyler Graham or Dan Otero off the 40-man in order to get him! They shouldn't do nothing and send Burris the message that he'll be on the 25-man roster in April, whether he shows up and hits .150 in spring training or not, that's just not what winning teams do. They stock pile all the good players they possibly can. Plus, they sure want Betemit back in Detroit!

That's my exact train of thought when I think about re-signing Cody Ross as well. Why not bring the guy back on a one-year deal when he's proven a clutch player already for the Giants? And don't give me that "it'll take away AB's away from Brandon Belt" crap cause if Belt hits ML pitching this year, he'll be playing, over Huff, Ross or somebody else, so don't even worry about that. I love Timmy, Matty and what the bullpen did, but this team doesn't win the World Series in 2010 without Cody Ross. Bring him back and upgrade the infield Sabes, or SF will be looking up at AZ once again! Also, while on the topic of spending money, if your looking for the best MLB picks, check out Cooper's!
The Giants Baseball Blog

Friday, January 06, 2012

Giants Top-20 Prospects for 2012: GBB Edition

Spring training is creeping up on us quicker and quicker now that the holidays have passes, as pitchers and catchers are only a little over a month from reporting to camp. During this time here at the Giants Baseball Blog (GBB), once the calendar turns over to the new year, we like to do our version of the Giants organizations top-20 prospects. And no, outside of the top-3 maybe, it's nothing at all like John Sickels' list. Anyway, here we go:

#1. Gary Brown, CF: The speedy, good contact, great fielding center fielder has been chattered about for the last couple of seasons as the heir apparent in center field for the Giants. After the .336/14/80 line coupled with 55 steals and 34 doubles and a .407 on-base percentage he produced in San Jose in 2011, the 23 year-old looks destined for big things. I compare him a lot to Jacoby Ellsbury, and I think the Giants would love it if he were 3/4 the player Ellsbury has become. Either way, Brown should start at AA, and depending on how he handles the higher levels, and the Giants outfield situation, we could see a glimpse of him later on in 2012 in a Giants uni!

#2. Joe Panik, SS: At first I wasn't ecstatic about the Panik pick, only because I wanted Brian Goodwin, who looks like best 5-tool athlete in this draft and projects out to be a 20-20 guy with a good average and tremendous defense. However, after watching Panik arrive in the Giants organization and just go to work on rookie pitching, I started seeing why the Giants were so high on a guy projected to go late 2nd early 3rd. He's a true shortstop who can really hit the ball and those don't come around too often. As long as he keeps on his path, Stephen Drew-type production is very reachable, with the possibility to be even better. Can't wait to see what he does in his first full year of pro ball!

#3. Tommy Joseph, C: The work Joseph did on his swing last winter certainly paid off in 2011. The 19 year-old catcher raked pitchers that were on average 3 years older than him in high-A ball, with a line of .270/22/95. The only part of his game that is still lacking a bit and keeping him from being an elite prospect is his plate discipline, but at 19, it's only going to improve. One situation that could arise involving Joseph, as with another guy coming up we'll discuss, is that Buster Posey has the Giants catching spot locked in for the next 5 years at least before he's moved out from behind the plate. Joseph would be 23-24 and right on track to take over, so I'd keep him behind the plate, but work him at first base 30% of the time too just in case. At his age and with his experience and accomplishments, he's on the cusp of becoming a "can't-miss" type prospect!

#4. Kyle Crick, SP: Now, normally I wouldn't pick a high-school pitcher who's thrown all of 80 pitches at the professional level (and in unimpressive fashion mind you), but I can't help but think of Matt Cain when watching this kid work. Just watch a little of this video, and notice the high school hitters almost scared to swing against this kid. Dude has such good stuff his catcher has trouble holding onto just his fastballs, they have that much movement! Reminds me of watching MadBum's scouting vids, and he sure turned out nicely! He has the sound mechanics already, just needs to work a little on control and his 3rd and 4th pitches. I like the kid though, maybe not like I liked Cain, Lincecum or Bumgarner, but this kid will be a good big league arm!

#5. Francisco Peguero, OF:
Injuries really hampered his 2011 season and probably kept him out of AAA and maybe off the Giants in September. They had Justin Christian getting time in center for goodness sake! Still, he followed up his outstanding '09 and 2010 seasons with another good one when he was out there. Split between high-A and AA, mostly in AA, he came up with a .312/7/46/ line with 12 steals in his 87 games. The problem that needs improving is the fact that he walked just 5 times in over 230 AA at-bats, something that has to improve tenfold in order for him to be a big leaguer and with his style of play (high average/on-base, average pop at best). I like Peguero, but of all the Giants top prospects, he's the guy I'd try and deal if they were to make another deal for a bat at some point this year.

#6. Andrew Sussac, C:
Sussac didn't play an inning in pro ball after being drafted by the Giants in the compensation round as he signed late, but this kid's got it all. I haven't seen much of him, but I here Buster Posey-lyte, not as athletic or as good with the bat, but a true leader, tremendous catcher and solid hitter. With his glove and leadership skills, I don't think there's anyway he doesn't make it to the bigs in a backup capacity at the very least. The Giants thought so much of him, they grabbed him that high when they already have Posey, Joseph and Hector Sanchez (all under 25), in their system. Never a bad thing to have a few good catchers in tow though, as we noticed in 2011!

#7. Heath Hembree, RP:
All Hembree has done in his short, two-year pro career in the minors has put up a 1.68 era in 68 innings, saving 42 games while striking out and even 100 batters! That's well over one-and-a-half batters per inning, and that's dominance. He's the clear heir apparent to Brian Wilson, and as much as B-Weez is loved in SF, I wouldn't be surprised if his days here were numbered because of Hembree's emergence coupled with the fact the Giants have many young arms that need big deals! He's only 22, so he's right on track having already dominated at the AA level. I'd start him in AAA as the Grizzly closer in 2012, and depending on how things go there, he could be a key member in the Giants bully by the end of the year.

#8. Hector Sanchez, C: Another catcher? Yep, that's three in the top 10. Sanchez burst onto the scene in 2011 in similar fashion to Pablo Sandoval's 2008, though his power numbers tailed off significantly in the 2nd half. Not saying Sanchez is the next Panda, but this dude has hit at all levels, and the 22 year-old can handle the duties behind the plate. He hit 12 homers and had 84 RBI and a .285 average in 396 minor league at-bats then had a nice cameo with the big club in September. Should actually start the year as one of Buster's backups, assuming they carry 3 catchers and don't add anyone else, while getting some significant PT if his bat proves worthy.

#9. Eric Surkamp, SP: The finesse lefty obliterated minor league bats in 2011 to the tune of a 1.94 era, 11-4 record and 170 k's in just 148 innings. That success earned him in brief cameo with the Giants in which he was very up-and-down, but it was mostly a problem with command, which is normally his bread and butter, so hopefully the butterflies are gone this time around. Will challenge for the fifth spot in the rotation in Spring Training but likely ends up as AAA's ace to start the year. If he can get control of that command again, which I think he can, he's got the ability to be a Noah Lowry-type (hopefully w/out the arm issues though). He turns 25 this summer, so it's about that time he shows he belongs in the big leagues.

#10. Ehire Adrianza, SS: Rounding out the top-10 is a guy I never really have given due respect to until I saw him play a bit in San Jose last year. I know the kid has a great glove and all, but I still didn't get why national publications rank this guy in the top-10 each year, but as he's getting older, his hitting is starting to come around. He hit .300 at high-A San Jose, and carried a .375 OBP in over 230 at-bats and that's the exact type player he has to be. High average, high on base, and his glove lead him to the big leagues. Has a lot of Elvis Andrus in him (minus the little power Andrus carries), and if he can just manage to keep hitting around .300 and getting on base, good things are going to happen for this kid.

#11. Angel Villalona, 1B: Now, I know what your thinking, how could you rank this guy who hasn't played in 2 years this high? Well, if you remember, before his incident (don't want to get into it) in the DR, the 19 year-old was the Giants top position prospect, and he returns to them this year at age 21, most likely more mature, bigger and stronger than ever with what he's gone through. In 74 games in high-A at age 18, he hit .267 with 9 homers and 47 RBI, after belting 17 HR's in the "Sally League" the year prior. He's just got that raw power, and big-time swing and as long as he's still there mentally (probably went though a lot last 2 years), he's going to be beast. I think he's going to pick up right where he left off in 2009, and it wouldn't surprise me the least if he's back in the top-5 in 2013's list.

#12. Josh Osich, SP: It's still a little uncertain on whether the Giants will use Osich as a reliever with that mid-90's fastball, but after he no-hit UCLA and beat Trevor Bauer, I think it's a given the Giants need to start him off in the rotation. Had Tommy John in 2010, so it was good to see him come back and have such a strong season in '11 for Oregon State. Has an above average changeup to go with the fastball, he just needs to refine his breaking pitches, but I think this kid has a huge ceiling!

#13. Rickey Oropesa, 1B: This kid has such crazy power, that it's amazing he lasted so long in the draft (116th player taken), but I believe the Giants got a steal. In his 167 games at USC, playing against premiere college competition, he managed a .331 average, 40 2B, 40 HR, 159 RBI, a .596 slugging and a .409 on base average. Those are some gaudy numbers for a kid who took the draft's number 3 pick (Trevor Bauer) deep more than once! Very athletic for a 6'3", 230 pounder so could probably play a corner outfield spot if organizational needs point in that direction, this team has tons of young catching/1B prospects as it is!

#14. Clayton Blackburn, SP: Another possible steal the Giants nabbed in the 16th round in last June's draft. Blackburn is a burly high-school righty who really was under the radar until dominating rookie ball in Arizona with a 3-1 record, 1.08 era, 33 IP, 16 H, 3 BB and 30 K's. That was good for ridiculous WHIP of a half point. The fact that this kid is 18 and already has that kind of command is a great sign. One part of Sickels' list I really agree with as he had him at #11.

#15. Chris Marlowe, RP: The hard-throwing righty has pure closer stuff. In 2010, he had an era of 2.84 and struck out roughly 2 batters per inning. In 2k11, the K rate stayed, but he got hit around a little and the era rose, despite allowing just 25 hits in 41 innings. Regardless, he got back on track in a short stint in rookie ball, throwing 3 shutout innings. Look for the 22 year-old to be a quick mover through the system due to his college experience.

#16 Jarrett Parker, OF: Drafted right after Gary Brown, but has been hardly as impressive. Still though, he came on strong at the end of the 2011 season for San Jose and ended the year with 13 HR, 61 RBI and 20 steals, despite his low .255 average. What saved his season though, was the fact that he can get on base, to the tune of .365, and with that low batting average, that's something to talk about. The thing about Parker, is he's already 23, and probably needs another year at A ball, but he's still got some time to refine the holes in his game. Good defender, good speed, average hitter who needs to work on making more contact!

#17. Joan Gregorio, SP: Granted, he hasn't really played at all above rookie ball, the 6'7" imposing righty, on size alone make him a guy to pick up for hitters. And in those 2 years in rookie ball, all he did was go 9-3 with a 2.61 era and a 1.13 WHIP in his 26 starts (The W/L record is so low because they limit the innings/pitches for teenage pitchers).

#18. Hector Correa, RP: The hard-throwing reliever with the good slider seemed to put it all together in 2011 after turning 23. He put up a 2.55 era split between A and AA ball, allowing just 53 hits while carrying a strong 81 innings (high number for minor league reliever). He probably won't ever be a closer or high end set-up guy, but Correa should have no problem becoming a fine middle reliever (a la Ramon Ramirez) as long as he continues on the path he was on in 2011.

#19. Mike Kickham, SP:
He's lefty and he's breathing, plus he put struck out a batter an inning last year, despite a 4.11 era in low-A ball. For a 22 year-old though, that's expected, I'm curious to see what he does this year though when he starts off in San Jose. Based on his stuff though, and, again, the fact he's a left-handed starter who can strike you out, he makes the top-20.

#20. Jesus Galindo, OF: Rounding out the top 20 is the speedy outfielder. Normally, I reserve a spot in my top-20 for Rafael Rodriguez, the Dominican outfielder the Giants gave nearly $3M to in order to obtain, however, his 2011 was dreadful, so in moves Galindo. He's more of a light hitter, but the just turned 21 year-old stole a whopping 47 bases and hit .276 in just 67 games in with low-A Salem, that alone got him onto the list.

Five That Just Missed the Cut: Connor Gillaspie, IF - Roger Kieschnick, OF - Rafael Rodriguez, OF - Seth Rosin, P - Charlie Culberson, IF

Note: I had to exclude Brett Pill and Brandon Belt from the list because of Belt's time in the majors in 2011, and Pill is 27 years old, though I still think he's got upside and should be given a shot (play him some at 2nd Boch!). If Pill were 23-24, I'd have him in the top-5, that's how much I think of him, and would like to see them find a way to get him on the 25-man (as of now, probably won't unless he has a great spring and can prove to play some other positions). Other than that, not too many surprises, just a lot of guys selected from the 2011 draft as you notice (3 of first 6 and 7 total), so this year was a lot of guess/projection work as to what some of these guys will do once they're swinging with or throwing against wood bats and playing every single day. The reason for that is the fact that the Giants minor league system (whether it be call-ups or trades) has taken a major hit the last few years.

Now my list is subject to change anytime between now and March 1st, but as of 1-6-12, these, in my opinion, are the Giants' top-20 prospects!
The Giants Baseball Blog

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Giants Notes: Huff, Schierholtz and Sanchez

It's been a while since I've just done a "Giants Notes" post, and just threw out random thoughts about where the team is right now. Since I'm in the midst of putting together my 2012 Giants top-20 prospect list, I figured I'd let go of so random thoughts.

First on the agenda, big news amongst Giants faithful this week is that Aubrey Huff is supposedly getting himself into the shape of his career. Not surprising since he's heading into another contract year, but it's very good to see Huff humbled by the horrible year he had last season. Anytime your OPS drops over 200 points in a year, you know you didn't do your homework that offseason. Whether it's the Pilates or the weight lifting that getting him "ripped", the Giants need the 2010 Huff to show up in order for this team to not be a total disaster offensively again. If Brandon Belt or Brett Pill beat him out for first base this spring, it'll be a flat-out nightmare, but I think Huff is going to be fine in 2012. Still would like to see him at spring training moving around and swinging before I make concrete numbers predictions for 2012, but I'd say a return to 20 HR's with 85 RBI and a .270 average would be just fine from Aubrey and not far off from his 2010 numbers. As far as the other two guys who will be battling him for PT, I love both of those guys too and would like to see them given a shot somewhere. Of course Belt isn't going anywhere (unless something huge is on the horizon), but maybe Pill shows up in AZ, tears the cover off the ball and the Giants can highlight him in a deal. Either that or give him a 2nd basemens glove and let him work as a utility guy. (Played 57 games at 2nd and played some 3rd in Fresno last season!)

Besides the first base competition and the new and improved Aubrey Huff, I'm curious to see just what transpires with the Giants outfield. I still think they need another right-handed bat with some punch who can play the corners, and I'd prefer Cody Ross to the options that are out there. I've already mentioned that here before, so I won't get into it too much but his talks fell through with the Rockies, now the A's are looking at him... If I were him, I'd almost return to the Giants on a 1 year/$2 million deal just to have a chance to play for a winner. Then again, if he goes to Oakland, chances are he'd be dealt to a contender mid-season anyway, and that could appeal to him. Ahh, the wonders of hot-stove baseball and all the possibilities. Either way, I think the Giants end up with Ross or Ryan Ludwick, as they need another guy who can play right and who hits right-handed to caddy Nate Schierholtz, if not push him for the starting job. I know Nate had his moments in 2011, but is so streaky that I don't know he'll ever be an everyday, 600 at-bat per year player. He's a guy you play when he's hot and put in for defense in my eyes, cause when he goes cold, he goes into deep slumps that can last weeks.

Speaking of unsure starters, I again wanted to voice my worries about Freddy Sanchez. Nobody hopes he comes back stronger than ever by mid-March, but he's still just an akward dive or throw away from another blowout. The Giants NEED insurance in the middle infield, and Mike Fontenot just isn't a guy who could take on that load if needed. I still like Wilson Betemit's bat but I just fear his lack of range would make Jeff Keppinger look quick. Still think, besides Hiroyuki Nakajima who the Yankees obviously don't want and have the rights to, Ronny Cedeno is the best bet as far as the best defensive right-handed bat (albeit a light-hitting one) off the bench up the middle.
The Giants Baseball Blog

Monday, January 02, 2012

Giants Beat to the Punch Again for Quentin

First post of 2012, and already a tad on the bitter side about this Carlos Quentin trade. Heading into the 2011/12 offseason, the Giants had really one main goal, improve the offense. What was lacking from that offense the most was a right-handed power bat who could strike fear in opposing pitchers, someone exactly like Carlos Quentin.

After getting beat by the Cardinals offer to Carlos Beltran, the Giants again missed a shot at getting themselves the outfielder they really need. Now, I was thinking Kenny Williams was bluffing on offering up Quentin earlier this winter, and was under the assumption he'd only be let go for a sure thing prospect and/or an already proven young player with big league experience. Because the Giants just traded away some of their better young talent and young trading chips in the last couple of months (Thomas Neal, Zach Wheeler, Jonathan Sanchez etc...) I figured a match between the two would be highly unlikely. "The Giants just don't have enough proven prospects or young players they are willing to deal in order to get Quentin" was my exact thinking. Then, after seeing the package the Padres had to give up to get him, two minor league pitchers with track records less-inspiring than Eric Surkamp's, I can't seem to figure why Sabean didn't want to or couldn't come up with a better package than the two arms Kevin Towers gave up. The supposed prize of the deal was Simon Castro, a BA top-100'er before 2011, but at 23 just posted an era just south of 6 in AA ball this year. The other prospect they got was lefty Pedro Hernandez, who probably projects out to be a MLB reliever, though the 22 year-old could end up a back-end starter if he ever makes it to the big leagues. For Quentin, I would have given them Surkamp and Peguero, or someone similar, (a better package in my eyes) in a heartbeat, but would have asked Quentin for an extension.

I don't know though, I don't know a whole ton about Quentin, I know he's a good hitter, but I'm not sure what kind of clubhouse guy he is, and I know ChiSox fans have bickered about his nagging injury problems, but he seems to produce year-after-year and is 29 years old. In just 421 at-bats last year he put up a .254/24/77 line and that was an off-year. Plus, you stretch that out over 600 at-bats and you have .254/34/112. Watch him hit 30 bombs for SD this season as those two prospects they sent Chicago shuffle between AA and AAA and never make a big league impact. A deal the Padres definitely won, and a deal that actually puts them on the radar heading into 2012. After getting Edison Volquez and Yonder Alonso, this team is going youth/power movement and they have some good young pitching. An outfield of Guzman-Maybin-Quentin with Venable as the 4th guy, and in an infield of Headley-Bartlett-Hudson-Alonso-Hundley is a very nice building block they have going on there in San Diego. Kudos to Josh Byrnes for not weighing his team down with huge contracts to aging (sports-wise) vets coming off career years. He's molding this Padre team exactly the way he did that D-Back squad that won the West in 2011 with the team he put together over the previous few seasons! I really like what they've done in San Diego and even though Kevin Towers stole Trevor Cahill from the A's, I still think San Diego, after the Quentin trade, has improved themselves the most!

The Giants were outbid/careless with their pursuit, or lack there of, and then went after guys like Pagan when they already had a similar player on the roster in Torres. I still like the Cabrera trade. I think he's a good ballplayer who's just finding his game, and I think Pagan is a nice player too, but instead of pursuing the power bat this team needed, like Quentin or Upton, or re-signing Beltran to the reasonable deal he got, they added two leadoff hitting-types with similar game. They lost what little pop they had in Beltran and Ross and now are expecting this team to score more runs!? This has been one of the toughest offseasons to be a Giants fan in recent memory. Very tough to get excited about this current bunch when there were options out there to improve!

Anyway, happy 2012 all, hope everyone was safe and had a great time! This will be year 6 here at GBB, hard to believe, but I'm glad it's flowing as well as ever and should be even better with new additions coming this year!
The Giants Baseball Blog