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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Giants need clear plan of attack for offseason

The dust on the miserable 64-98 season for the San Francisco Giants is starting to settle and as soon as the Houston Astros hopefully take care of the Dodgers in this Fall Classic, the work on righting this ship can officially begin.

Now, of course, the big question is where exactly do they start at? A team that was just 2 losses south of a 100-loss campaign typically will have numerous holes that need attention and this Giants team is in a very similar situation. The one difference is, they are just a year removed from a playoff appearance and still have the makings of a pretty strong starting rotation (although things could get tricky if Cueto opts out of his contract). The Giants top right-handed starter had hinted early in the season that he would be exercising his opt-out clause after the season, but a down year by his standards, and an injury-plauged campaign to boot had him changing his tune toward the end of the year. Now it appears as if he has intentions on sticking around and non opting out, although until he makes that official, anything can really happen. On the Giants end of things, I don't think they'd be heart broken if he did opt-out but I do believe they'd want him to stay in order to alleviate what would be another glaring hole if he did leave, and that's another top-end starter to team with Bumgarner. Samardzija was arguably the teams most consistent starter from April through September, but his ideal spot is right in that number three or four.

So, assuming Cueto does stick around, that would leave the Giants with 4/5 of their rotation all set. Matt Moore would line up as the fourth man, but he's going to have to do some work this winter to get back to his 2016 self as he just didn't have it in '17 (6-15, 5.42 ERA, 1.53 WHIP and a .282 BAA). All his numbers were career worsts for any season he pitched over 100 innings in, but he did finish the year with 5 out of 8 quality starts and certainly has the stuff to rebound like the Giants are hoping in 2018. With Madison Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija and Moore all penciled into the rotation, that leaves a spot open for Chris Stratton, who threw well during his run in September or open it up for competition within the organization. This is also an area where they could decide to go outside the organization for help. The Giants rotation, which had been a staple for this team since Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain came into their own before the World Series wins, was a major weakness in 2017. Granted, they were without their ace for half the year and received down years from Cueto and Moore, this is area I sure hope they don't overlook this winter.

There's set to be a ton of middle-end of the rotation starting pitchers on the free agent market this winter from the likes of Ian Kennedy to the guy I'd really like the Giants to pursue in left-hander Gio Gonzalez. Then there are injury reclamation projects in the form of Tyson Ross and Chris Tillman that could pay off big if they are healthy. So, the Giants will have plenty of options to fill in that remaining rotation spot without having to get into the Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, Lance Lynn etc... sweepstakes. Now, not saying that Jake Arrieta wouldn't be a perfect fit in this clubhouse and make this rotation the best in baseball, I just don't think the Giants are going to be willing to give another 30+ year old pitcher a triple digit (100M+) contact especially considering their ample positional needs.

I'm gonna start diving into that very subject next post, as the World Series closes out and free agency/trade season can officially commence, because the Giants could have a very different looking starting 8 come April next year. I'm talking about at least 2/3 of a new starting outfield (depending on what they decide to do with Hunter Pence and Denard Span, as well as a new third basemen. The third basemen part is a no-brainer, as their savior-to-be, Christian Arroyo, showed he's still got quite a ways to go before being handed any starting position, let alone an offensive juggernaut like third base. That's an area the Giants could inquire about via trade, as the only two significant upgrades on the market are Mike Moustakas (who's set up to get a huge deal after his career year in 2017) and Todd Frazier, who'd bring the power the Giants so desperately need, but also comes with a .220 batting average.

The options and decisions that Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean will be facing this winter will be quite the task. I just don't see them entering full-blown rebuild mode with a lot of the core from their last two World Series tittles still around and in their prime, but they do have an awful lot to do without the most payroll flexibility. Ideally, they'd need at least two impact bats to insert into the lineup, and they need to revamp that bullpen big time, something they failed to do last winter and that's really what started the downfall of 2017. Just look back at the very first series of the season in Arizona, where the Giants just couldn't hold a lead.

Since we're still a few weeks away from players being able to find new homes, everything right now is just speculation and brainstorming, and we'll continue to do so in our next post as we start to take a look at who the Giants could be bringing in to help out what was one of the worst offenses in all of baseball this summer. Giancarlo Stanton's name has been mentioned, and what a land he would be, but I haven't heard a whole lot of other names possibly linked to the Giants and I'll spend the next few days digging that up for our next post.

Personal Note: This is not Giants related,  but I just wanted to thank you guys for sticking around these last few months. The team was not very entertaining to watch or talk about and I'm sure that's why you guys thought the posting at this site took a back seat. However, my computers decided to all crap out on me at the same time as my PC started working when it wanted too then I spilled water on my laptop rendering that useless. More importantly though, I endured the toughest loss in my life to date, losing a close family member at the end of the season, something that's kept me away from posting until now. I don't want to make it too mushy but I want to dedicate this post, and every post on this site from here on out to my late father, David Cole. He was as loyal a Giants fan as anyone I knew, still getting excited for September games when they were well out of it and approaching 100-losses but he always saw the positive in things. The last thing he told me about baseball was how well he thought Samardzija threw in a game I believe that was against the D-Backs. The game had no meaning at the end of the year but he just enjoyed good baseball. He introduced me to the great game of baseball and took me to my first ever game at Candlestick Park as a rugrat back in the early 90's. He's the reason I became such an avid San Francisco Giants fan as a young kid and of course shaped who I am today. Dad, you'll be sorely missed but never forgotten. I love you for life and you'll be on my mind everyday for the rest of mine!*
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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Monday, October 02, 2017

Nightmare season comes to an end in SF

Well folks, we finally have in the books one of the most tumultuous summers of baseball in San Francisco Giants history, and now it's time to start righting the sinking ship. Problem is, this "ship" has a laundry list of problems that may not all be remedied before the 2018 season, meaning we could be looking at another long summer on the horizon...

Plenty of teams go through terrible seasons like the Giants just endured, but what made this one extra tough to swallow was the fact that this team had playoff aspirations coming in and still had that mystique of the three championships within that clubhouse. However, that mystique and the Giants mini dynasty they had going since 2010 has come to an end with their 98-loss season. Now instead of approaching the offseason like World Series contenders like they have the last 7 winters, the Giants will be looking at the 2017/18 offseason a little differently. I mean sure, in this day in age, a team can lose 100 games and bounce back into playoff relevancy the following year, but these Giants have a long, long ways to go and I think their main focus this offseason will be figuring out who fits into their plans in 2018 and beyond rather than pursuing that one star (Giancarlo Stanton) to come in and hope that player makes everything ok. This team needs power, they need more speed and they need better outfield defense, just to name a few. Add set-up man, another left-handed relief arm and I think they need more dynamic players throughout the lineup, including their leadoff hitter and centerfielder.

Again, we'll do more dissecting of the season coming up before free agency gets going in November and who they could possibly target, who I want them to target, who they should avoid and guys on their current roster that should and shouldn't return in '18. But strap up Giants fans Cause I'm hearing that some of the mainstays over the last 7-8 years could very well have played their last game uni. Those names are Hunter Pence, Hunter Strickland, Brandon Belt (Posey is about ready to take over first base Full-time). I think they'd love to find a taker for Denard Span and Pence and Span had a nice second half and may have caught some teams attention. It also bodes well for him that he has just next year Remaining on his deal so he's not a long term commitment and not too expensive. Pence on the other hand will be 35 for the '18 season and hasn't hAd a healthy, productive year since SF's last championship season in '14.

It's too early for me to even venture a guess as to who will be back and who on the way out, plus I still wanna do. Brief season review for the squad before we start getting into the free agent and trade targets the Giants may/should be pursuing this winter.

Also wanted to give props to all the diehards that stuck it out for the journey, it was more than frustrating at times and hopefully they reward the fans with a Stanton addition and more. Whatever they decide to do though, I expect some new key faces on the team come February for spring training.

Comment in our comment section with what you want to see Bobby Evans, Brian Sabean and Co. do to fix this thing! I'll be giving mine in an upcoming post, but next post we get into the season Review from what started the collapse and why they couldn't dig themselves out of the mess. We'll also give out team MVP, LVP (biggest letdown) and some other players that stuck out for one reason or another, so stay tuned!
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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