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Saturday, February 03, 2018

Few questions remain, but offseason has sprung optimism

We're just a couple weeks away from spring training kicking off, and with the Giants fanfest coming up next weekend, things are really starting to heat up and the expectations for this team will be as high as ever. Fans are excited about the makeover the team went through over the winter, and to see the new faces making up 3/8 of the teams starting lineup (including potential all-stars Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria in particular).

While the team wasn't quite able to fill every single one of their needs (or at least haven't yet), they still made three huge additions that have most fans, including myself; optimistic that this team should be right back in the playoff mix in 2018. That said, they'll still need a lot of things to go right, even with their three big adds, in order to overtake the Rockies, D-Backs and/or Dodgers in attempt to birth another postseason appearance. Just getting into the tournament is so important to them because they don't always have the best regular season record, but something about this core, and their leader Bruce Bochy just clicks in October. Look no further as their 3 tittles in 4 postseason appearances since 2010 as evidence!

But I digress back to the areas they weren't quite able to shore up, or at least haven't been able to do so yet. When you consider them on the doorstep of the CBT which they don't want to go over though, it's really left them with limited options in terms of trying to add depth to their pitching staff. Ideally, they could use a serviceable veteran starter who could take the 5th starter spot and allow Blach to slide back into a role I think he's most comfortable in and that's doing a little bit of everything out of the pen, from coming in to pitch 3-4 innings in mop-up duty, coming in to get a tough situational lefty out and also filling in as a spot starter as needed throughout the year. I just don't like him starting every fifth day because I don't think he has to stuff to really fool lineups on a regular basis more than maybe one-time around. However, due to their financial standing, the only way the Giants would be able to bring in another veteran arm to add to the mix would most likely be via a minor league deal (much like the one they inked with Gregor Blanco a few days ago), and I just don't know what pitchers would be willing to take that.

If I'm Bobby Evans/Brian Sabean and Co., I'd be convincing guys like R.A. Dickey, Hector Santiago, Francisco Liriano and John Lackey to come aboard a potential contender at a discounted price with possible incentives. Any of those would all be welcome additions in my mind but the savvy vet Lackey probably has another decent season and I'd rate him atop the third-tiere starting pitchers. Francisco Liriano still has that nasty stuff that can win him 12-15 games while he strikes out a batter an inning but showed last season that he's just as likely to go wild and have a down season (5.66 ERA, 1.64 WHIP in just under 100 IP) but he obviously wasn't 100%. Only question with him is whether or not he can stay in the zone consistently. I'm just still not super keen on the idea of rolling into 2018 with two relatively big question marks filling out 2/5 of the rotation on a team that just made drastic attempts to their everyday bunch in order to get back to contending. I'd hate to see them treat the rotation/bullpen this year like they treated the outfield last year and just hoped and prayed that someone would step up and take left field, which obviously never happened.

So, Liriano and Lackey would be my two top choices because they've been the most consistent in previous years and Lackey knows how to win and has a tittle under his belt. Sure, he's about 47 years-old (I'm exaggerating of course, but only slightly).  I'd have Santiago right there too but he has major health concerns that cost him half his 2017 season and has left his future a little uncertain. Dickey is probably going to command too much money but if they could get him on the minimum then he and Lackey would be 1A and 1B options. Jaime Garcia and Jeremy Hellickson aren't as intriguing to me but if we're talking getting rotation depth for the low,  then I'd welcome either of those two as well.

With time running out in the offseason though, one of more of these options will likely be forced to take a minor league deal if they want a guaranteed job for this upcoming summer in this bizarre, slow moving offseason.

I personally feel a little more confident in the pen as is than mos do, as many Giants beat writers would prefer them to beef up their pen with any remaining free agent dollars, but I think those guys should be much better already. I mean, if Mark Melancon is pre-'17 Melancon, Dyson pitches like he did with the Giants in the second half, Derrick Law rebounds, Will Smith is fully recovered and back to his usual self and Hunter Strickland get's his head in the right place and comes with more consistency then this pen could be a very good one as they currently stand. Of course, there's basically a question mark surrounding every one of their guys down there, the upside is definitely there as well and cannot be overlooked. I mean, would a Drew Storen, Fernando Abad, Trevor Cahill or Zach Duke really provide that much upgrade to what they currently have? I don't really think so, at least not as much as Dickey or Lackey would provide to the back of the rotation.

One name that's still laying way down at the bottom of the free agent list and apparently garnering little to no interest publicly is former Giant Sergio Romo, who I would take back in a heartbeat on a minor league deal. Romo was terrible after signing with LA last winter, but was  then was dealt Tampa where he was lights out for the Rays. The 34 year-old posted a 1.47 ERA, 28 k's to 7 bb's over 30 innings while posting a ridiculous .88 Whip, showing he still has plenty left in the tank. Chances are he finds a big league job but he could see the revamped Giants and want to join and be a part of another run, even if it's in the minors to begin the year.

I really don't see the Giants completing any other moves before they get their guys in camp and start to assess what they have and areas they may need to improve on before the season, if possible. There should still be at least a few options out there on the market at that point so they should be in no rush to do anything. Eventually some of these guys are going to have to settle for minor league deals or Major League minimums and the Giants need to be ready when they do.

Blanco Returns to Giants' 4th/5th OF situation: I mentioned it briefly at in the post, but in case you hadn't heard, one the Giants' fan favorites from a couple of their world series teams rejoined the team a couple days ago, as Gregor Blacno agreeing to a minor league deal. He'll of course come to spring to compete with Gorkys Hernandez, Jarrett Parket, Austin Slater, Mac Williamson and Steven Duggar for the expected two outfield bench spots and should have just about as good a shot as any to make the club. And if he doesn't, he'll be a nice option to keep in Sacramento as I'm sure we'll be seeing him a bunch this year even is he doesn't make the squad outta spring (he's always been a Bochy favorite). This guy did play key roles in two of the Giants championships after all and aside from maybe Hernandez, he's the best defensive outfielder to be joining the team in Scottsdale in 2 weeks.

Of course the spring performances by the potential backup outfielders will determine who makes the opening day club, at this moment If I had to put money on two guys they'd be Gorkys and Jarrett Parker. Gorkys because I think Boch likes him and his ability to play center as well as pinch run and he hit over .280 in the second half last. As for Parker, the thing that puts him ahead of Blacno heading in is that he's out of options and unless the Giants figured out a trade scenario for him, I just don't see them letting him hit waivers because somebody will pick him up and this guy has Adam Duvall part 2 written all over him if that did happen. He's got the power that will translate in almost any ballpark if given regular time and he's around the same age as Duvall was when he was let go by the Giants and picked up by the Reds only to go on and have an All-Star season his first full year in Cinci. Therefore, Parker and Hernandez really do make the most sense but Parker needs to be productive in spring. Heck, with Hunter Pence missing the majority of he last 2 seasons, Parker could be in line for big playing time in order to keep Pence's hamstrings as fresh as possible.  ''

Ahh, spring training is approaching quick guys, and I'm extremely stoked. Probably the most excited and intrigued I've been about a Giants squad since the 2012 team with their all-world starting rotation, solid young core that added Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan then traded for Pence and Scutaro in-season to put them over the hump. It's still premature to call what they may need at the deadline this time around but I think the team should be good enough to be right in the thick of things come July and if they need that starter or reliever, or Austin Jackson isn't cutting it as the leadoff man, then maybe they make a couple of deals to put them over the top at that point. I don't think they went through this big offseaosn over-haul only to come up a tad short so if they're within striking distance or just feel like they need a shot in the arm come mid-season, this team has the fortitude to make the necessary move to  help increase their odds.

March 29th cannot arrive quick enough!
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 2:24 AM, Anonymous CarlsBad said…

    I didn't know there were so many free agents still out there... holy crap! Maybe we can swing a John Lackey. That would be tremendous. Yeah he is 39 but that dude has aged like win and if I'm not mistaken, he woulda been the Giants best starter a year ago based on his numbers? Not sure if he or Samardzija had more value but I know Lackey would have been at least second. He's the ageless wonder and maybe they can convince him he'd he a key missing piece to the rotation and if he joins then the Giants are lookin mighty strong. I'd live with this rotation for sure Madbum-Cueto-Shark-Lackey-Stratton. He has all that postseason experience with the cubbies too and was brilliant for them. I don't want Dickey. Maybe Santiago if he's passes a physical but problem is I don't think any would take a minor league deal.

  • At 9:42 AM, Blogger NillA Gorilla said…

    Awful lot of hope and optimism. Way too many hopes and prayers everything works out in bullpen and also Duvall was 26 when giants let him go Parker is 29 when you are pushing 30 and can’t establish yourself it’s time to cut bait. Even if giants stay healthy all year the brewers have gotten way better and they were like an 85 win team and the Rockies and D-Backs are strong and the cardinals got better. Giants should be a competitive team but I think fans are being lead to believe they are a playoff team when odds are they probabaly will be a 70-80 win team.

  • At 1:30 AM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    Gorilla, I understand what your saying. I don't think this team is "flawless" by any stretch or a sure fire playoff team at that. However, they've at least put some effort into getting this thing back on track this winter, which in my opinion has me "optimistic" to see how things come together in spring and April.

    Optimism doesn't mean that you think a team is on their way to a tittle or is perfect, it just means you have a good feeling about the direction of the squad and I'm optimistic for what they've done so far and expect them to be as aggressive as they were this winter during the season to fill what holes arise.

    For a team who's window of opp. is closing more each year, they've got maybe another 2-3 years max with this core and wanted to take another shot at making a tittle push in '18 while still staying under the CBT penalty. I don't think they have enough talent throughout the 25-man roster YET to be a legit WS contender, but they've revamped the lineup enough to do so. It's the pitching staff as a whole that I'm most concerned about but they always seem to find guys in-season when they need to that helps push them over the top.

    I'm worried about the back end of the rotation though, as I said in the post. I think they have enough relief arms that they should be at least OK without adding anyone else, but they're putting a lot on Stratton and Blach expecting them to be strong starters and throw 180+ innings each. That's where my major concern now lies.

    The ultimate key for this team which will decide their destiny though is their health. The reason why they were so bad last year is because they were hurt and banged up and didn't have the depth to overcome it. If Pence doesn't miss half the year with recurring hammy issues, Smith doesn't have lingering effects from his TJS and is ready to go all out by at least May, Melancon isn't basically useless like he was in '17, Brandon Belt doesn't hit .240 and miss a bunch of time, MadBum doesn't fall of his dirt bike and has his typical MadBum year, Johnny Cueto's nagging blister issues don't reoccur on the regular and they get at least league average production out of their 4/5 starters as well as their middle releif guys, then this team will be a playoff team. That's a lot that needs to rebound from last year but I wouldn't consider any of them far fetched by any stretch. You mix those guys' hopeful rebounds/improvements with the new guys they bolstered the lineup with and your looking at a very nice ballclub.

    So, yes, I'm excited to see this club get going and beleive they have the talent in place to make another run. I do think another pitcher will be needed at some point, but you never know. Stratton could very well go on to be the next big arm produced by the system and help solidify the back-end of the staff. Still, a fifth starter and another sure-fire lefty reliever to help Will Smith would be the two areas of most concern whereas last year we had left field, the outfield depth as a whole, the infield depth as well as the bullpen all major question marks.

  • At 1:42 AM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    And as far as comparing Parker and Duvall, it's just a reference/comparison. I know Duval was a couple years younger when he left the Giants but Parker has the similar power potential and I could definitely see him hitting 30 jacks in a season somewhere if he garnered regular time. I think that's what the Giants are scared off with him. It would suck to see him DFA'd, get signed by the Reds or Pirates or another lower budget team, tear it up in 2018 at the ML minimum with 2/3 of the Giants starting outfield hitting the market next year. Then again, we'll never know Parker's full potential until he does get that everyday playing time for a significant stretch, not just a few weeks.


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