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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Giants' new projected 25-man roster

Finally, on December 19th, the Giants have found their third basemen for the 2015 season. It wasn't a big deal like for David Freese, Pedro Alvarez or Ben Zobrist. Not even a Trevor Plouffe or Lonnie Chisenhall, who would have been at least interesting in a new league.

Instead, the Giants sent low-level minor league arms Kendry Flores and Luis Castillo to Miami for Casey McGehee. The 32 year-old third basemen hit .287 with 4 HR, 76 RBI and a .712 OPS in 2014, which won him NL Comeback Player of the Year honors. That's a higher average than Pablo Sandoval provided last year, but a huge fall-off in the power department. McGehee does have a track record of showing more power, including a 23 HR/104 RBI year for Milwaukee in 2010. The good part of this deal is the Giants didn't have to really part with any of their elite prospects, and that's probably what ultimately pushed them in the direction of McGehee. He does at least provide a better option at third than Arias and his right-handed bat will probably slot into the 6th spot in the order between Belt and Crawford. If this move were followed by a deal for a big bat in left, I'd be way more at ease, but chances are this will be it for the offense and runs will again be at a premium for the Giants' offense.

Now, with the return of Romo and Peavy coupled with the addition of McGehee, the Giants all of the sudden nearly have a 25-man roster now set for 2015. It's not going to be as flashy as I'm sure most were hoping, but nonetheless should find a way to compete as they often do with this core and under this management. The team could also still go out and find an upgrade in left seeing as they didn't part with any top-15 prospects even in this move, but I'm not going to bet on it. Maybe this spring or it could be their target for mid-season.

Here is what the 25-man roster is looking like after the last few moves this team has made:

Lineup:
CF Angel Pagan
2B Joe Panik
C Buster Posey
RF Hunter Pence
1B Brandon Belt
3B Casey McGehee
SS Brandon Crawford
LF Gregor Blanco

Bench:
C/1B Hector Sanchez
IF Matt Duffy/Marco Scutaro?
IF Joaquin Arias
OF Travis Ishikawa
OF Juan Perez/C Andrew Sussac

Rotation:
LHP Madison Bumgarner
RHP Matt Cain
RHP Jake Peavy
RHP Tim Hudson
RHP Tim Lincecum

Bullpen
CL Santiago Casilla
SU Sergio Romo
LH Javy Lopez
LH Jeremy Affeldt
RH Jean Machi
RH Yusmiero Petit
RH Hunter Strickland

No, not exactly as exciting as the roster heading into last year when that lineup had Panda and Michael Morse, but there's still time to upgrade. Hopefully they're not quite done cause I'm not overly excited about that bunch. A full year of Panik and (fingers crossed) Pagan/Belt would certainly be a step in the right direction, but again, outside of catcher, this team is lacking depth. They also don't have a bunch of pop outside of their 3-5 hitters either. Pagan, Panik, Crawford, McGehee and Blanco, who will likely make up 5/8 of the lineup hit a combined 14 home runs a season ago. They still have some tough outs in there and some studs like Posey and Pence but for a team without a lot of speed and power in the lineup, they're going to have to get people on base with great frequency in order to manufacture their runs.

The bullpen is identical to the one that one the Series' in the fall, so I think everybody is pretty comfortable there. It should be fun to see how Hunter Strickland does from the start (assuming he makes the team), but other than that, we pretty much know what we should be getting. The starting rotation, however, looks slightly different from the one that finished last year as they'll be getting a fully healthy Matt Cain, which will almost be like adding a big free agent itself. The Giants are hoping both a full year of Peavy in the NL coupled with a healthy Matt Cain will have this rotation back up to it's dominant ways. As of now, they have Tim Lincecum penciled in as their 5th man, and I don't expect that to change unless someone miraculously takes him off the Giants' hands in some sort of trade. Timmy's got a interesting year ahead of him though as he's due for free agency again after this season, and his days of commanding top dollar or anything close are done unless he reverts back into Cy Young form in 2015. Bobby Evans said after Peavy was signed that the Giants wouldn't rule out adding another arm if something made sense so they're not thrilled with the idea of Timmy in the rotation either.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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Friday, December 19, 2014

Giants hoping patience pays off

The offseason seems to really be heating up and despite all the action that's gone on over the last couple of weeks, one of the biggest markets in baseball and the reigning World Series champs have been one of the last to get going.

They did make their first notable moves of the offseason this week though, bringing back one of the most important components to their bullpen in Sergio Romo, and the guy they traded for last July, Jake Peavy. They re-signed Romo, to a 2 year/$15M deal. Romo is coming off a bit of a down year, as he started out strong in the closers role, but relinquished the gig part-way through the season to Santiago Casilla. Romo did start thriving again in the set-up role, and likely could have taken back over as closer had Casilla got into any kind of trouble, but it was never an issue. Romo will enter 2015 as the primary set-up man once again, but will be first in line should anything happen to Casilla. I like this deal a lot as Romo is still one of the best right-handed relievers in the game and the Giants were able to get him on just a two-year deal. With Casilla, Romo, Javy Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt, Jean Machi, Yusmiero Petit and a handful of other guys battling it out for that final spot (or two should Petit wind up in the rotation). Hunter Strickland probably has a leg up for it and would need to struggle pretty badly in spring to lose it. That means they'll be returning the exact same bullpen from last years championship squad.

They just now announced the Peavy signing while I was typing this up actually, so that changes my plans just a little bit. They're reportedly giving the 33 year-old right-hander a 2 year/$24M deal. Peavy was a guy who was clearly going to be atop the priority list with the way he pitched in the regular season after the trade. The former Cy Young winner had 12 starts with the Giants, going 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA over 78.2 IP. He posted a solid 58:17 strikeout to walk ratio while posting a 1.04 WHIP. Based off those numbers, the deal looks good, but the right-hander was surprisingly in-effective in the postseason for the Giants. He did have that one good start vs. the Nats in the NLDS but that was about it. He'll likely slot into the third or fourth spot in the Giants rotation come spring and it's not such a bad deal when you consider they didn't have to give up any trade chips and didn't end up giving James Shields or Ervin Santana some big 4/5 year deal. He's better than Santana, in my opinion, and is the same age as Shields with a similar track record. Peavy is a perfectly fine mid-rotation starter who clearly thrives in spacious NL West so this deal does make sense.

So, while Bobby Evans came out and said this move doesn't necessarily rule out the addition of another starter, the Giants full attention should now be shifted to the everyday lineup and the left side of the field. They still have all their potential trade chips available still, and without any starting caliber third basemen or left fielders left out on the open market, they may wind up making at least one trade in order to fill out their lineup. Obviously the apple of my eye was Atlanta's Justin Upton, although he's entering the last year of his deal and probably would want to explore free agency at the young age of 28 next winter. However, that possibility ended Friday after Upton was dealt to the Padres. He went on record of saying he didn't prefer hitting at AT&T Park, and maybe that's what made Sabean shy away, but he should soon find that AT&T is much more conducive to right-handers than Petco. By the way, I have a feeling the Padres are going to make some noise in 2015 after picking up a couple of all-star outfielders this week in Matt Kemp and now J-Up as well as up and coming star Wil Meyers.

But we return to the Giants, where only a few third basemen are apparently out on the block including Trevor Plouffe, Chris Johnson and Lonnie Chisenhall, none of which I'm sure get anybody too excited. Plouffe and Johnson each hit for power from the right side, while Chisenhall is more of a contact/average guy from the left side. Now, the one name who does intrigue me at the third base position if he is indeed available is Pedro Alvarez. The big left-handed slugger has legit 30-HR power, even though it comes with a .240 average, and I'd have no problem slotting him into the middle of the Giants order. Ben Zobrist from Tampa Bay has supposedly been on the Giants radar for a while now, and they could make Tampa an offer there. As far as the outfield market, I haven't head too many names being tossed around. One guy who I'm sure could be had and a player I've always liked to watch is Houston's Dexter Fowler. He's got some sneaky power, good speed and average and is a guy who can impact a game in multiple ways when he's on. He's a guy that wouldn't cost Kyle Crick, Joe Panik or Andrew Sussac either and could likely be had for a Clayton Blackburn/Gary Brown combo or something like that but that's just speculation on my part.

The Giants activity has certainly picked up in the last couple of days though, so an answer for left field and third base may come before Christmas, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Now that the trade market seems to make the most sense for them and their current needs, I expect them to continue their patient approach until something they can't pass up on presents itself. I do expect them to get a third basemen somewhere before spring training, but I'm not too sure about the left field spot. At this point, I can definitely see them at least entering the year with Blanco/Ishikawa sharing the duties and if they feel the need an offensive upgrade in season, that could be the area the do so at.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Giants should look to Scherzer

Well, so far, it's been a tough offseason for the Giants as they've failed at retaining Pablo Sandoval and came up short in the bidding for the top left-hander on the marker, Jon Lester.

In fairness to them, money was not an issue in either case, as they outbid both the Red Sox and Cubs for Sandoval and Lester, but the two just chose to take a different course. In Pablo's case, he wanted the bright lights and the challenge of playing for an East Coast powerhouse. I'm not quite sure why Lester choose Chicago over San Francisco though, as he's from the North West (Washington) and the Giants were supposedly offering more money than the $155M over six years that he signed for. But, instead of pondering what could have been, the Giants better get busy with plan B, cause they still have a lot of work to do and I expect the Lester signing to kick-start the starting pitching market. The other top guy out there, and the guy I originally wanted over Lester, is Max Scherzer, but the Giants were clearly more impressed with Lester so I'm not sure how serious they'd get with Scherzer. I just could see the power right-hander thriving in spacious AT&T Park, much like he's done at Comerica the last few seasons. The only thing is the 2013 Cy Young winner is looking for a deal in the $200M neighborhood. If they could get him in the 6 year/$170M range though, I'd go for it.

After Scherzer, things drop off significantly in the starting pitching market. James Shields, Ervin Santana (who they're meeting with Wednesday) and Brandon McCarthy are the next three in line, and none of those guys, outside of maybe Shields, would be worth a big multi-year deal. I am much more intrigued with the potential starting pitching trade market, with guys like Cole Hamels and Jordan Zimmermann heading the group rumored to be available but both would require a big package likely led by top prospect Kyle Crick.

Now as far as the efforts to replace Sandoval at third base and Michael Morse in left field, the Giants don't seem close to getting anything done, or at least they aren't making it public. We've all heard the expected Chase Headley rumors, but with I doubt the Giants will get into a bidding war for him now that he's the top third basemen out there. As rough as it sounds, I could definitely see the Giants going into next season with Matt Duffy and Joaquin Arias sharing third and Gregor Blanco and Travis Ishikawa battling it out in Spring Training for the lion's share of at-bats in left field. I could see the Giants signing a right-handed platoon option like Chris Denorfia for left field and maybe and maybe a second-tier third base option like a Mark Reynolds, but I don't see anything too flashy happening position wise this offseason. I think the Giants will try and put their resources into re-making that starting rotation into a strength and powerhouse once again, and a Max Scherzer signing or Cole Hamels trade would certainly be a leap in that direction.

Melky Cabrera and Justin Upton have been the two significant names linked to San Francisco in their attempt to fill the left field void with Upton rumors heating up Wednesday. The Giants have apparently also inquired about Braves third basemen Chris Johnson and may offer Atlanta a big multi-player package in attempt to obtain the two. I would be ecstatic if that came to fruition just cause I think Upton is a star and perenial MVP candidate who's just about to hit his prime. Not a huge CJ fan, but he'd definitely be an upgrade to Joaquin Arias over there.

Notes: As expected, the Giants tendered Travis Ishikawa and Hector Sanchez deals for 2015. Ishikawa may very well be the opening day starting left fielder, but if the Giants find someone else, he'll be a flexible left-handed bat off the bench. Sanchez's role is a little more unclear, however. Andrew Sussac really showed that he's not only a capable backup, but could likely be a starter in this league right now, and has leaped Sanchez on the depth chart. One of those two could very well be used as trade bait this winter too...With day two of the Winter Meetings in the book, the Giants have two more days to get something done before all the GM's and agents depart from San Diego and go their separate ways. I expect the Giants to make some kind of noise soon though. If not before the end of the meetings, then soon after.
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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