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Friday, February 16, 2018

After active offseason, Giants report to Scottsdale

They're baaaack! After a strange, slow start to the offseason, The Giants were arguably the most busy team in baseball this winter, making three significant moves that they hope will help turn their fortunes around in 2018 after a dismal '17 season.

 The Giants have been lacking thump in their lineup really every since Pablo Sandoval left and Busey Posey and Hunter Pence (for different reasons) both have seen their power numbers plummet over the last few seasons. This winter, they were able to tune up their offense in a big way, bringing in former all-stars and MVP candidates in Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria, while also finding themselves a capable defensive and productive offensive centerfielder in Austin Jackson. Now all three additions are 30+ years of age so the Giants clear goal is to really go all out for another ring over the next year or two.  And while they were able to fix up their offense while also improving their all-around defense, the one area the team did not add to, in fact they subtracted from, was their pitching staff. Both their starting rotation and bullpen where issues last season and were contributors to the near 100-loss season, maybe not quite as much as the potent-less offense, but certainly an area of concern heading into the offseason.

Fast forward to this week when pitchers and catchers reported to Scottsdale to get the 2018 season's beginning stages underway, and they still have not been able to really find any sure fire upgrades to either the bullpen or the starting rotation. They, in fact, lost a starter who wasn't very good in 2017, but still has the potential to be solid #3 starter when he's on in Matt Moore, but giving up more was essential in clearing cap space for 'Cutch and 'Longo. By giving up their expected fourth starter though, it's created somewhat of a void in their rotation. Granted, based off last years numbers, Ty Blach, the guy expected to take Moore's rotation spot, was a little better than Moore was, but Moore has the ability to be much better than Blach. To me, Blach is best suited at doing what's needed out of the bullpen while bringing the ability to spot start rather than being penned into the rotation with 30+ starts in mind. Chris Stratton's performance down the stretch last season has basically positioned himself into the fourth starters spot, unless he absolutely tanks this spring. It's entirely possible that both Blach and Stratton struggle this spring as both are still pretty unproven at the big league level.

The Giants did bring in Derek Holland for extra support but he's a guy who's coming off the worst season of his career which made Blach look like Clayton Kershaw in comparison. So it's doubtful, unless Holland's down year was due to an injury that's all of the sudden behind him and he's back in 2013 form, that this guy really has any sort of role for the Giants, at least out of the gate. The team is also said to be looking at Tim Lincecum, who impressed onlookers with his recent workout this week. Although 33 years of age now, Timmy has pretty much had the last 2 seasons off, so he should be pretty fresh and his velocity, which sat between 90-93 MPH, was his best posting since 2013 if I'm not mistaken. I think it was 2014 when his velocity dipped below 90 on average though he was still touching 90-91, but if he is indeed back to above 90 MPH with the heater and he's got command of it and still has his secondary pitches, then he would be well worth a roll of the dice in my opinion. He's a guy who could join the battle for the final 2 rotation spots as well as present an option for long/mid-relief for Bochy. Nobody knows Timmy like the Giants do though, so if they see something in him that they believe will yield some results, you can bet that they'll do what they can to bring him back.

The only other name I think that's still out there that could make sense in the battle for a rotation spot is R.A. Dickey. We've talked about him at length already in previous posts so I won't keep beating a dead horse on this topic, but to me, he's the one other free agent out there who may take that minor league deal if the Giants guarantee him a rotation spot, while giving him a shot at a ring. Unless the Dodgers, Nats, Yankees, Red Sox, Indians or Cubs offer him a deal, then the Giants are probably as good a bet as any other squad to reach the postseason with their history and the moves they made this winter. I considered Lackey in the same arena as Dickey, but Lackey I think is too much of a hot-head and may not fit well into this clubhouse.


As for some relievers, there really isn't much left as all teams pitchers and catchers have reported to their teams camps. Kojie Uehara is probably the biggest name still out there but there's no way he's taking a minor league deal although he would be a nice add to the late innings of this bullpen. One name who may be able to come in and help out the pen though on a lesser contract like a minor league deal or a MLB minimum and someone who was linked to the Giants a few days back is left-hander Tony Watson (he actually just signed with the club and more about that below). With Will Smith coming back from Tommy John surgery and likely going to be monitored over the first weeks of the season (assuming he's ready by opening day, which the Giants are hopeful he'll be), and the left-handed options after him very un-inspiring, Watson makes a ton of sense. He's coming off a strong year for the Pirates and Dodgers, actually posting a 2.70 ERA for the Dodgers after coming over in a trade from the Pirates in July. The 33 year-old lefty has regularly posted ERA's in the low 3's throughout his career, never once reaching 4, and sports a 1.08 lifetime WHIP. So you can see why the Giants would be interested in him when you consider their in house options to be Stephen Okert and Josh Osich, both guys who've posted ERA's of 5+ throughout their brief careers in the bigs.

Anyhow, with spring training officially underway, the offseason (despite the majority of the top-100 free-agents still without homes) is officially over. And with the offseason coming to an end, it's only fitting we give the Giants an offseason grade.

They were a team that was banking heavily on trying to get Giancarlo Stanton and believed themselves to be the front-runners in those sweepstakes. However, when he declined the trade to San Francisco, if prompted Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans into action on their backup plans. Considering they basically turned the Stanton spurning into Jackson, Longoria and McCutchen, I'd say they actually came out better than they would have had they just landed Stanton and done nothing else. Not only for the future of the team but for 2018 as well. So I give them a solid A for doing all they could to upgrade their lineup with the resources they had even though I hated the fact they had to give up Christian Arroyo. However, again, they didn't do much of anything to help their pitching staff out as a hole. I don't think it was for lack of effort, I think they just prioritized offense early and got mixed up in the Stanton sweepstakes which took up a lot of their focus as a lot of the relievers found homes early on in the offseaosn. Then after obtaining Cutch and Longo, they didn't have the money to make a play for any significant starting pitcher. Now they are hoping a lot of their guys who under-performed in 2017 (either due to injury or whatever reason) rebound, but even so, they should have made a couple moves to improve their staff.

So, because of the lack of ability to get any pitching reinforcements whatsoever (I know it's easier said then done, the pen has been an issue for 2 seasons now), I rate their overall offseason any higher than a B. Now, if they somehow land Watson and Dickey in the next week or two, then that grade gets bumped up to at least a B+, but we'll have to wait and see. An offseason grade of a B isn't bad though, and if their guys rebound like they're expected to, then this team will be right in the wild card race.

One thing I can tell you though is that I'm extremely excited for opening day and to see this new look lineup in action. McCutchen still has MVP abilities, I think, and Longo's still going to hit 20+ jacks with 80+ RBI and play gold glove third base at the very least (as long as he's out there for 145+ ballgames). Jackson too should be a welcome addition in center, and provide much more range than Span had the last two seasons while also providing a bat with .300 potential, some sneaky pop and the ability to swipe a base from time to time. Those guys are what really have most of this fan base at least somewhat optimistic that this team will flip their fortunes around after a horrendous 2017, but all we can do is speculate until March 29th roles around!
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The Giants Baseball Blog
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1 Comments:

  • At 6:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Agreed, Watson would be perfect. They can't seriously go into this season with the exact same unit as last year and expect completely different results, can they? Even if guys are healthy, we need some new blood in here and some reinforcements. I'd be so down with Watson and Dickey if they could get Dickey on Minors deal and guarantee him a spot in the rotation. I'm sure that's all it'd take. Its not like a ton of teams are probably knocking down his door as there are still about a 8 starters ahead of him on the FA market still looking for jobs. Plus he's 43 so his options gotta be limited. If we could get both those guys though, I'd give this offseason a straight up A because at least they're trying to do this without just pissing away the future. They've done pretty good IMO.

     

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