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Friday, October 14, 2016

Giants' needs for 2017 quite apparent

I didn't really have the heart (or the time) to muster up a reaction post to Tuesday's heartbreaking loss to the Cubs, but I'm sure we all had the same sort of reaction and thoughts. It was a sadly poetic ending to what was an epic second-half collapse by a team that, outside that starting pitching, had no business being in the postseason. Most importantly though, it leaves the Giants and Bobby Evans with a clear "to-do list" for the winter.

A lot has been said about how Bruce Bochy handled that ninth inning Tuesday. Many people, including myself, would have liked to see Matty Moore go out there and at least start the ninth inning. I know the pitch count was way up, but he was pitching on 10 days rest and threw north of 130 pitches just 2 months prior while chasing a no-hitter with the Giants. Plus Moore mowed through the 8th inning and was looking as strong as he was all night. Once the move was made though, I wish he would have had the guts to go with one guy and ride him out. Whether it was Sergio Romo to start the ninth, Derick Law or Will Smith, I would have liked to see Boch go with a reliever and stick with him rather than go into that inning with the idea of playing the match-up game the whole time. In a sense, you can't really blame him, the Giants don't have a true closer, but I can't help but think that had he just left Law out there, maybe the next guy grounds into a double play. As soon as I saw the musical chairs being played with the bullpen I knew it was bad news, and that's all I can say about that game really.

Now, the game is done, the series is over, we've had a few days to mourn and it's time to move on. First off, Matt Moore was awesome in that game. He looked like MadBum 2.0 and in my mind justified the Matt Duffy trade with that outing and showed us that the 2017 starting rotation is going to have an extremely strong front-3, probably as good as any team's in the game. My guess is the 2017 rotation is pretty much set in stone with MadBum your ace, Johnny Cueto the two, Moore the three, Jeff Samardzija the four and Ty Blach the five. Matt Cain is still under contract and may be given a shot at the fifth spot but Blach not only finished the season with some strong outings, he threw very well in two NLDS outings as well which should cement his 2017 status on the roster. So, unless the Giants find some amazing bargain and get a quality starter to take a discount to come pitch for a contender. Maybe they add a lower level third wheel to the fifth starter competition (C.J. Wilson or Jaime Garcia would be interesting on one-year type prove yourself deals) but my guess is they won't even look at the starting pitching market. It's a good thing too cause the only FA starter that's maybe better than current Giants' fourth starter Samardzija is Jeremy Hellickson.

Instead, all of their attention will lay in the relief market as well as the outfield market. The Giants will be losing Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez and will need to replace those three with upgrades. They certainly need a closer and there are going to be some intriguing ones out there this winter. They also need to look at ways to upgrade their offense. Despite their starting rotation being a strong one, they can't bank on winning games 2-1 and 3-2 every night and they need to lengthen that lineup.

Luckily for them, they have upwards of $50M coming off the books and probably won't be retaining any of their own free agents. I could possibly see Romo returning if he takes a discount on a one-year deal but it won't be as a closer and probably not even as an 8th inning guy. He'd be a situational right-handed reliever to face predominantly right-handed batters and I don't know if the Giants will have a strong enough pen to carry one of those. As of now, the only people I'd say guaranteed spots in the 2017 bullpen would be Derick Law, Will Smith and Hunter Strickland. Everyone else will probably have to earn their way on, and that includes Matt Cain (despite his $20M price tag). As far as their outfield, the only two guys they have under contract are Hunter Pence and Denard Span, so they'll need a starting left fielder and hopefully an upgrade to Gregor Blanco as the fourth outfielder. I hope to never see Gorkys Hernandez forced into the starting lineup in a playoff game for this team ever again. I think their infield is pretty much set, with Nunez and Gillaspie both under team control and likely to return to shore up third base. Some are worried about Joe Panik's collapse but they'll keep rolling with him and maybe look to change only if Panik's hitting below .250 again through mid-season.

As far as the guys they could target, it's pretty early to say as we don't know who's going to re-sign where yet and who will or won't opt out of their contracts. Mark Melancon seems to be a popular choice amongst Giants' fans and pundits to be their next closer, but Kenley Jansen, Greg Holland (despite missing all of 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery) and Francisco Rodriguez are out there as well. Aroldis Chapman is also hitting the market but my guess is he'll be at the top of every team's list and will end up getting the largest contract for a relief pitcher in the history of baseball and the Giants may not want to get into that bidding war. Jansen most likely returns to the Dodgers on a deal similar to what Chapan gets, and Holland is still sort of a crap-shoot because he hasn't thrown since September 2015. This is why the 31 year-old Melancon seems like the best fit. If I had my way, I'd love to see Melancon signed to close and K-Rod brought in as the set-up man, though he probably will still be looking to close, coming off a 44-save season. It would be expensive to get two guys of that caliber but they have the money and the overwhelming need for quality at the back-end of that bullpen.

As far as the outfield market is concerned, that is much more thin and the Giants may need to go the trade route in order to fill that need. Yoenis Cespedes is the name that keeps getting tossed out, but he's going to want something the 3-year, $75M he signed last winter. He's the best all-around outfielder on the market and could easily get a deal similar to the one Jason Hayward signed with the Cubs last December. I wouldn't really want to go more than five years with the 31 year-old but I don't think the Giants would do 5/$150M. As bad as the Giants need one, I don't know that an outfielder with a career slash of .272/.325/.494 and has avoided the DL in just 2 out of 5 seasons in the big leagues is necessarily worth $25-30M per year but in this market he may get that. However, his big arm and bat and gold glove defense in left are pluses and his feel of the strike zone is improving. Also, he's coming off his two best years at the plate, is right in the middle of his prime (turns 31 this month), and his growing feel for the strike zone could mean his best is yet to come (look at how Jose Bautista thrived after turning 30). Add all these things up and you see why he'd be such in intriguing option and fit for the Giants.

Jay Bruce (though the Mets likely retain him), Bautista and Mark Trumbo are the only other big time hitting corner outfielders potentially hitting the market but their value really only comes through their power whereas Cespedes is far better in the outfield and will hit about 20-30 points higher than all of them. Bautista would be the main man if we're talking 4/5 years ago, but he's turning 36 this month and is coming off a very unproductive season. His best bet at this point in his career is to stay in the AL.

It's going to be a big winter for the Giants though, as they have the core guys still here and playing well and that starting rotation set for the foreseeable future, but they need that big bat, another decent role player and somewhat of a bullpen overhaul in order to get back to their championship-caliber level. Had they had a legit closer this year, they probably don't melt down in the second half like they did and probably are still playing right now, so that's certainly where you start if your Bobby Evans. This winter though, they need to cover all facets of the team or else next year it maybe it won't be the closer/bullpen that melts down, maybe Pence gets hurt again and their lack of depth and ability to score runs bites them in the rear. That's why I say never just assume your bench and bullpen will fall into place in spring. If your a team with Championship aspirations, you have to go into the year fully confident in all areas of your squad, from player 1 through 25.

We'll be on a short hiatus here at the Giants Baseball Blog, as there isn't likely to be any Giants' related news until after the World Series ends, but if something does pop up we'll be here. Otherwise, we'll be back in November once the offseason gets rolling and we can really delve into the free agent class and guys who could fit onto this team aside from the big names you've already heard. So enjoy the rest of the postseason if your still up for watching baseball after that. Hopefully the Cubs dismantle the Dodgers and go on to win it all to give us some justification to losing to them. The only way this season gets a little worse for Giants' fans is if the Dodgers are crowned 2016 Champions so I guess there is still something to kind of root for over the next couple weeks. Until then, it was a roller coaster ride in 2016 and I very much look forward to what the offeason has in store for this club with plenty of money to work with.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What about Carlos Gomez? He's great defender a lot of speed and 20-HR guy too. Could slide him into left and would be cheaper than those guys. Then maybe we could get two great relievers like Chapman and Melancon or something. With that rotation and two closers, I think the Giants would be great no matter who they put in left field.

  • At 6:55 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    Aside from his strong finish with the Rangers this season Gomez hasn't been an everyday level player since 2014. He's hardly a guy the Giants would want to sign with the thought in mind of giving him a starting job, but he's certainly a guy who'd fit the 4th outfield mold. He's a great defender and could be the new Blanco for the Giants and I would be glad to take him in that role but I'd rather have Pagan playing everyday in left than Gomez so he would not be an upgrade.

    The only other guy I would see as an upgrade over Pagan besides the guys I mentioned would be Ian Desmond but somebody will probably overpay him, a la Jason Heyward, cause he's the only real quality CF on the marker.

  • At 9:24 PM, Anonymous Jason Billingsley said…

    Desmond is interesting. I totally forgot about him. He seems like a Giant. He or Cespedes would be the only ones I could see coming here. I just don't see the Giants getting a guy like Trumbo who is only good for home runs. It's not their style really.

    I would be ecstatic if we could get two good late relievers like Chapman or Melancon to close and K-Rod to set em up and Cespedes for left field that would be awesome lineup:

    Span cf
    Nunez 3b -hopefully he rebounds
    Posey c
    Cespedes lf
    Belt 1b
    Pence rf
    Crawford ss
    Panik 2b

    Maybe swap Panik and Nunez depending on how Panik is hitting. That lineup is deep though, has some speed at the top and some pop in the middle and is strong from 1-8 as long as Panik returns to his pre '16 all star level which i think we all know he can.

    But I agree that they need to have some plan b's and c's. Chances are one or two guys get hurt and have to go on DL and the Giants need to have guys ready to step in. I think Mac and Parker are good backup outfielders, but we need backup center fielder, Gomez would be sweet but probably wants starting job.

    Not sure about infield though. They need to bring back Gillaspie. Kelby Tomlinson is not bad but I think we can do better. He should be our AAA guy to come up when someone gets hurt, not a full time roster player IMO.

    I don't think the Giants need a huge overhaul though they just need a few really good players and they'll be there. A good closer, good set-up guy and good left fielder and maybe 4th outfielder and we're right back in the hunt next year.


  • At 4:28 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    The thing about Desmond is his bat probably wouldn't play as well as Cespedes at AT&T. Cespedes has big power and would still be a 25+ home run player in SF whereas Desmond probably becomes a right-handed Brandon Crawford without BCraw's on-base skills. More like a .270ish guy who hits 12-15 home runs and drives in 70. The Giants don't really need another one of those guys and Desmond is going to get probably close to Cespedes money anyway because he can play short and center, two specialty positions. So Desmond probably isn't even on their radar.

    In the end the Giants may settle for a one-year deal with someone like they did with Michael Morse in '14, at least to start the year with. Matt Holliday would be a candidate for a low-risk deal like that. Again, it's going to be an interesting offseason and I'm not sure how things will turn out but I know they're going to prioritize the bullpen and hope to find a big bat second.

  • At 11:55 PM, Anonymous Giants Fan Dan said…

    IMO, Bobby Evans has been very hit or miss since taking over GM. Johnny Cueto is his one big win and looks like the Matt Moore trade was good, Nunez trade was Ok just cause he didn't give up a top prospect but that Will SMith trade still has me shaking my head.

    As for his singings, I Didn't really love the Samardzija signing and he had a pretty average year in my mind. Also why did they get Span instead of Fowler? Fowler is soo much better both at the plate and in the field and is younger? Was it a money thing or did Fowler not want to come here? I mean, Span was so miserable this year Bochy sat him for Gorky's Hernandez in that game one against the cubs.

    I hope they bring Sabean back in for more input this offseason cause I don't think Evans has the magic touch.

  • At 1:09 AM, Anonymous A-Walk said…

    Just my two cents:

    OK so I checked the free agency list and it's not high on closers but theres a lot of good relief pitchers. If they can't get Melancon, CHapman or Jansen then what are we going to do? Francisco Rodriguez I guess I'd be cool with as long as we don't need to commit to him for more than 2 years. Or else I would just say sign as many set-up 8th inning guys you can and hopefully one of them or Strickland or Law becomes the clear 9th inning closer.

    I disagree with Dan about Evans. Ithink he's done a pretty good job. I think it's hard to get good hitters to come here so he probably couldn't get Fowler and probably won't be able to get a left fielder with power either unles it's a trade like PEnce was. I agree they gave up a lot for Smith, which was really the only move that didn't work out, but nobody probably new he was gonna be so bad. I like Nunez, i think he came on strong at the end and sucks we didn't have him in playoffs.

  • At 1:12 AM, Anonymous A-Walk said…

    Oh yeah and Matt Moore trade was a great one i think because look at how weak the starting free agency pitchers are! Ivan Nova is the best guy are you kidding me? So instead of having to sign one of those mediocre guys to a stupid contract we have Moore now who looks like a damn near ace like Cueto and Bum are and I love the rotatoin now. IT sucks we lost Matt Duffy but NUnez is just as good I think just not the fan favorite like Duff was but give him some time.

  • At 12:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is rough watching the NLCS cuz i know the Giants coulda took the Dodgers in 7. I can't believe Chicago is struggling so bad. I mean if Montero didn't hit that lucky grand slam the Dodgers would probably be up 3-0 now. What a lame ass world series if it's Dodgers-Indians. Go Indians though if that happens.
    Call me crazy, but I'd rather have Kenley Jansen over the guy everyone thinks is the best reliever in the universe Chapman. Chapman seems like he gets rattled too easy. Jansen is nails. It would be like a double win too if they got him cause then LA would lose him.. I really think that's the guy the Giants should really go for. Plus CHapman just seems like a real dick and a primadona. Totally opposite of what the Giants players portray.

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