1. The Straightforward Approach:
The simplest way for the Giants to move forward is to get more pitching this offseason, perhaps bring in a cheap vet or two to fill some holes in the field, and let the season play out, leaving room to maneuver come July. Some possible names:
- My favorite pitchers this offseason for the Giants are “second-tier” guys who won’t break the bank but could do really well in San Francisco. Guys like Ervin Santana, Francisco Liriano, and Brett Anderson.
- This approach could also include the Giants returning guys like Peavy, Vogelsong, and Romo.
- For the lineup you’d probably see Alex Rios, Alberto Callaspo, and maybe even Chase Headley.
Not all of those guys will be here next year, but if you hear these kinds of rumors and/or see these deals get done, it means the Giants are playing it straight.
Pros/Cons: the ultimate pro here is the idea of bolstering the pitching staff. If the Giants do that I think they can play Matt Duffy at third (or whoever) and Gregor Blanco in left and be ok. It keeps things flexible, allowing the Giants to play Buster Posey at first more, and use Brandon Belt in left, getting Andrew Susac into the line more as well. The cons are that this is not going to feel exciting to a fan base mourning the loss of its beloved Panda.
2. The All-In:
The all-in will get fan’s blood pumping, utilize the World Series cash, and if everyone is healthy potentially provide a roster that could be the best in the NL. Who does this include?
- Jon Lester.
- Yasmany Tomas.
One or the other (or both!) of these fellas means the Giants have thrown all caution to the wind and are desperately pursuing that elusive repeat World Series title.
Pros/Cons: on the positive side this would more than make up for losing Pablo in the eyes of many fans. It is the kind of headline grabbing move(s) that teams like the Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers love to make. The two biggest cons are (a) this is not how the Giants typically operate. One fear I have is that their success will lead them to deviate from the kind of moves that have made them so successful. Going all-in could pay off, but it would also change the mindset of a franchise that has done too many things well recently to chuck the plan. (b) This kind of move would make it impossible to keep all of the Belt/Crawford/Panik/Bumgarner/etc core around. Someone will eventually have to go.
3. The Curveball.
The Giants could go a totally different route and make some interesting trades.
- What if they built a package around Brandon Belt for Cole Hamels?
- What if they worked something out with the Reds and acquired Jay Bruce and/or one of their pitchers (like the dreaded Mat Latos)?
- What if they cashed in any and all prospects to get a Jordan Zimmerman, or a Justin Upton?
The point here is that the Giants have money and they don’t have to spend it in free agency. They could take contracts off the hands of other teams.
Pros/Cons: the pro here is that the Giants get better in 2015 without having to play the silly free agency game. Brian Sabean has made some poor trades as we all know, but he’s also pulled off several incredibly lopsided trades in the Giants favor. Perhaps he has another rabbit up his sleeve. Negatively, the Giants would mortgage the future for the present. The Giants have an underrated farm system, but it is not as deep (or at least not perceived to be as deep) as other teams. There are many other organizations that could put together attractive deals for all the names listed above. Can the Giants do the same?
Conclusion: All of my recent posts should reveal where my thoughts are on this one. I think Pablo gave the Giants a gift by turning their offer down. The Giants now have flexibility to spend money in many different spots. I’m all about the straightforward plan, reinforcing the starting staff, and keeping things flexible for Bruce Bochy to sort out in April and May. There’s no reason to go all in at this point, and the Giants can make a trade in July when they have a sharper sense of what they really need.
So, bring back Romo, sign Santana or Liriano, take a flier on Brett Anderson, and if there’s still room, go find a glove to fill in at third base.
Shea on change in philosophy: http://www.sfgate.com/sports/shea/article/Giants-no-longer-avoiding-high-priced-free-agents-5918007.php?cmpid=fb-desktop