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Monday, November 12, 2018

Back at it for the offseason, and plenty to talk about

What's up Giants fans! It's been a while since I've posted here at the Giants Baseball Blog, taking the most time away from posting that I ever have since I started this website back in high school over 10 years ago. I needed a break for various personal reasons and figured since the season was going in the same direction as 2017 and the talking points were becoming redundant, it was a good time to put down the keyboard for a few months.

However, now with the season done and the offseason is upon us and ready to start picking up in the coming weeks, it was definitely time to get back at it. Plus, the fact that the Giants just hired Farhan Zaidi to run their baseball operations in what will be the most pivotal offseason, in my opinion, that they've entered in quite some time (probably since the last front office overhaul when Brian Sabean came in and traded away Matt Williams prior to the 1997 season). I think Zaidi was a great hire for this club at this time in this era for multiple reasons.

Yes, the Giants are at a crossroads, with their front office and the team not getting the job done for multiple years now. I mean, take away a few months to start the 2016 season, the Giants have been extremely tough to watch since they last dawned their World Series banner in 2014. It was obviously time for a change and the Giants ended up snagging one of the most sought after and impressive baseball minds who has a very good grasp of the modern era of the game. Zaidi was hired earlier in the week to become the new president of baseball operations and really the ultimate decision maker with everything regarding how the team is ran. He was extremely successful as the Dodgers GM over the past 4 years, as LA reached the playoffs in each of the four seasons he was there, including a couple of World Series appearances, the last 2 seasons. Obviously this guy knows what he's doing and knows what it takes to win in this particular era of sabremetrics and advanced scouting tools.

The Giants previously had a more "old fashioned" approach to player personnel decisions looking more for players who were proven and would fit in and neglecting to really look at guys that had upside and a real chance to grow with some alterations or time. For example, they never really were the type to really go hard at any international free agents like a Yeonis Cespedes (who Zaidi is actually responsible for bringing to Oakland), or ever make trades for younger players who haven't quite hit their peak. Although it worked quite well for them upon opening AT&T Park in the early 2000's when they had solid, winning seasons for the first hand full of years in the new ballpark. Then, of course, it ended up working well during that 2010-2014 run in which they brought home 3 tittles in that 5-season span by adding veterans who were still good enough to do their part to go along with their impressive young players they brought up through their system like Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. Craw and Belt were more pivotal for the '12/'14 tittle runs but the other guys really helped out for all three of them.

Now the vets who they acquired during that span are all gone and many of the main core players who led those championship teams are no longer 20-something studs in the prime of their careers. Brandon Belt is still looking for that breakout year that we all know he's capable of, and Brandon Crawford's still as steady as they come at shortstop heading into his age-32 season. However, we've seen Buster Posey take huge steps back the last couple of seasons, basically becoming stripped of most his home run power and has now become essentially a .300  hitter with some gap-to-gap power that will hit you 10-15 HR's and drive in maybe 70-80 runs if he can stay out there for the full season. Not bad at all for a catcher and still one of the best in the game, but no longer the perennial MVP-candidate and guy you could count to be that hitter that carries a lineup like he did seemingly every year he was out there before his 30th birthday. Catchers take the most wear and tear of any positional player and it's no surprise that Posey has seen a reduction in power, but the vast pace of it is a bit alarming. All we can really do is hope that the last couple of years have been aberrations and/or injury-riddled seasons. He's still such a good catcher though, and with Belt tied in at 1B for the long-term, Buster's likely ticketed to continue behind the plate for at least another season or two.

These, among a ton of other things, not all of which we'll be able to cover in this post, but stuff we'll continue to talk about over the course of the offseason, will all be issues Zaidi will face now that he's clocked in as the main man in the front office.

The two most pressing issues for the Giants heading into 2019 with the idea of being competitive in mind is the outfield and really the pitching staff as a whole. However, it's not quite clear yet whether the Giants are going to go into rebuild mode and possibly deal off some guys like a Brandon Belt or if those whispers of a possible Madison Bumgarner trade come to fruition.

In this post, we'll assume that Bumgarner and the core all stay put, and the Giants look for a way to stay competitive next season.

 Is Duggar the guy they want in center field on a daily basis starting in 2019? I would have no problem with that if they surrounded him with some thumpers on the corners. Obviously Bryce Harper's name will surface, and I'm sure the Giants will at least inquire on him, but I highly doubt Harper would want to come hit at AT&T Park for the next 8-10 years, which will ultimately define his legacy as a ballplayer. However, if he views them as a place where he could come in and compete for a tittle on a yearly basis, he may overlook the few home runs AT&T would take away from him and jump at a Giants offer but I just don't see it happening. Plus, the outfield market is extremely thin on the free agent front this season with Adam Jones the next in line after Harper and he's 33 years old and doesn't fit the mold of Zaidi's plan to get "younger and more athletic". Manny Machado is the second biggest name on the market, and that guy's so talented I'm sure he could move out to left field without much issue and I'm actually more interested in that scenario, assuming Machado would agree to the switch.

As far as the free agent starting pitching options, it's not much more exciting than the positional players, and doesn't have anyone near Machado or Harper's caliber. Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel head up a thin pitching class, and although both would be great additions to the Giants' rotation, the team already has 40+ million dollars tied up in two pitchers who may not give them anything next season. Johnny Cueto's expected to miss most, if not all the year as he recovers from Tommy John surgery and Jeff Samardzija has all the sudden fell off the face of the earth, whether it was injuries or just pure ineffectiveness, after a really promising 2017 season. The Giants do have a couple slots filled already with MadBum and the youngsters, Andrew Suarez and Derrick Rodriguez, but after that things are very unclear. Plug in Keuchel and Corbin and your looking at a very nice staff, but also one that would be too unrealistic, salary cap wise, to make happen as long as both Cueto and Shark are still on the roster.

So you can see where Zaidi will have his work cut out for him, and how this may take a few seasons to really turn around, making a rebuild in 2019 completely logical. There will likely be some trade options out there but the Giants don't have a ton of high-end chips to work with in their farm system so that doesn't seem like a plausible route to take. I think it's going to become pretty clear what route they'll be headed in after they make a move or two, so we'll just have to wait and see. My guess is that they don't add any really big names this offseason, and head into 2019 with the same core as they had in 2018/ Then if they're a losing club, which is the likely scenario if they can't bring in a bunch of reinforcements, they could wind up dealing away some of those core guys like Belt or MadBum. Evan Longoria could also be dealt but he'd need to be having a solid season and the Giants would likely still need to pick up a nice portion of the money he's owed through the 2022 season.

What do I think happens this off-season? Like I said, the first move will dictate the whole course of the plan, not just for this year but also the years to follow. And since the free agent market is so thin and players will be way overpaid,  mixed with the fact they don't have a ton of money to spend and they don't have the necessary resources at the minor league level to obtain a couple of impact players, I just don't see them able to make all the upgrades they really need to turn things around. Also throw in the fact that Ziati said he wanted the team to get younger and more athletic really has all the earmarks of entering a possible rebuild. Hopefully not of the 4-5 year variety, but maybe 2 or 3.

I definitely want the team to try and compete every year, without a doubt, but it's just really tough seeing a scenario of that once again in 2019, hopefully I'm wrong and the the first move is Bryce  Harper signed to a 7-year, $280M which back-loads until Cueto and Samardzija are off the books or however they could swing it. Then somehow sign or trade for at least a starter and maybe a reliever or two as well as one more outfielder. Hey, it's certainly not likely, and Harper, being a lefty especially, likely wouldn't want to sign in San Francisco anyway, but that's best case scenario for the offseason. Hope for that it, but don't expect it.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 11:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Zaidi is good, but I think the Giants need a few seasons to rebuild. They have to do it with trades for younger players like your saying and like he said in his presser. They don't have the youth to rebuild from within like they did 10 seasons ago. I don't know how he's gonna do it but I think they got the right guy,

  • At 4:11 AM, Anonymous Jason Billinglsey said…

    Good hire, I agree. Also a big plus is that we yanked him away from LA which is a big loss on our rivals behalf. Im just hoping for all the best for this offseason, that's all we can do in the end anyway. I'm not gonna stress like some other offseasons even though it well tell us a lot about the future... BTW, big time stoked we still have Sabes too! Woo Hoo!!!

  • At 11:14 PM, Anonymous Tyler Kanoa said…

    Of course we all want to see them go for it again year after year but for the next couple seasons, I don't see how in the hell theyre going to do it though? I heard Alex Pavlovich on the 95.7 the game radio station the other day and he said he doesn't expect them to land any of the big names like Harper or Machado. I never thought about using Machado in left, but I love that idea actually. Like I would almost rather sign Machado to play left then sign Harper becuz harper is lefty and probably wont have the success that Machado could have because AT&T favors right hander power guys over leftys like Haroer

    SO sure, the idea sounds awesome and I'm sure any Giants fan would be extremely excited to have him cuz he's not over 30 and is not even in his prime yet. Thing is, he'd cost so much that they couldn't be able to add any other free agents leaving CF, RF, 2/5 of the rotation and some bullpen additions too...


  • At 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    OMG I really hope they don't trade Bumgarner. I don't get why they would even consider it? They don't have that much pitching depth and it would make them need to add more starters? I feel like that would be like trading the soul of the team. Try and trade Belt, Panik and Samardzija if they're trying to shed payroll, not their best pitcher and one of their best hitters lol.


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