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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


  • At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I like the Theriot signing too. I always liked him and I think it was definitely needed. Do you guys think he'll end up starting at shortstop. Like you said, he was considered a pretty good player just up until last year when he struggled with the injuries and splitting time with Furcal. He'd still be starting in Chicago if not for Starlin Castro. He's been a starter his whole career and I like the move.

  • At 4:17 PM, Anonymous J-Bill said…

    I though Hensley was a starter. I never even knew they moved him to the pen and he had that great year in 2010. Guess I was too focused on the Giants run to be looking at other players on other teams. But jeeze, if he comes close to that 2010 season, or even puts up a 3.5 era and gives the team a bunch of innings, that's a good signing. He obvioulsy can also start too, so it gives the Giants another option there if Zito bombs again.

    I think both of the Giants signings today were good, low risk deals. Not huge names or anything, but should definitely help the team out. Now one more outfielder! I'd take Ordonez, or even Johnny Damon if he came cheaply. What about Orlando Cespedes or whatever his name is from Cuba? Is he still coming to America or what and anyone know where he'll end up?

  • At 7:33 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    Yeah, Cespedes is still floating out there looking for a home, but I don't think it will be SF, though he'd be a great fit.

    I'm hearing both Chicago teams and Baltimore are interested. The Marlins have been in on him since day one, though they turned focus to other players, they could go back to him. Also think the BoSox will make an inquiry, though they appear set with Cody Ross now in tow. My bet would be him landing with either the Cubs or Marlins with the Red Sox, White Sox, Nats or even Orioles possible fallbacks.

    Florida makes a lot of sense, with their free-spending and rebuilt team. Not to mention the rich Cuban/south American culture that's huge in south Florida, I'd think that would be his first choice too. But they have a stocked outfield with Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton already on the corners, so unless they want to move someone out of position to play center, I don't know that they have a spot for him there.

    My guess is it comes down to Cubs, Marlins or Nationals and that the Cubbies win out. They haven't done anything this winter and they need to rejuvenate the North side of that city and get that them excited for baseball again cause the Cubs have some great fans.

  • At 6:18 PM, Anonymous Fresno Grizz 559 said…

    So Giants opening day roster looks set then, assuming no one gets hurt and Posey and Sanchez are each there. Do you see them adding anybody else? I heard they're still looking to improve the team before spring training, and I think they need an outfielder.


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