Crowded in the Outfield

The Giants have a problem. Actually they have a few this season, but the one I’m most focused on has to do with having too many Outfielders and not nearly enough roster space.

The Legendary Cody Ross, he of last years NLCS MVP-ness, will quite obviously return to starting in Right Field once he comes off of the DL, so the question is then which Giant gets bumped for the roster space? This might not be a huge issue if Andres Torres ends up on the DL, but at some point in the near future,the Giants will have one player on the roster too many. So who loses out? Let’s take a look at some options.

Aaron Rowand: Going into the season, Rowand was nothing more than a 5th outfielder who was making way too much money and couldn’t hit to save Buster Posey’s life. At the start of the season he was my choice to be traded (or rather given away for a dozen bats or something) or just plain cut. However something has happened since then. He’s actually hitting. Not great, not outstanding, but he’s hitting, which is something the Giants as a whole are lacking right now. His defense isn’t there anymore, but is he on the chopping back?

Nate Schierholtz: 4th outfielder who isn’t hitting well, but is filling in as the Giants late innings defensive replacement. At this point no Giants fan sees Schierholtz as anything other than an extra defender, but that’s totally ok. He’s young, got good defense and has no more minor league options,which is a big issue to consider when thinking about who is leaving the team.

Pat Burrell: Oh Pat. Pat, Pat, Pat. Burrell has a lot of things going for him. Last years heroics, a really cheap contract…and actually that’s about it at this point. Pat may have 3* home runs, but his offense as a whole has been lacking. He’s not great in the outfield and, as stated above, he’s on a super cheap contract, which means the Giants wont be eating that much money if they cut him loose.

Brandon Belt: Calm down Giants Nation. Yes I am mentioning sending The Chosen One down to AAA as a possible fix for the outfield problem. Multiple reasons why I think this: First, his offense hasn’t been all that great. He’s totally shown potential and has shown flashes of brilliance but I don’t’ think it would kill him to season a bit at AAA for a while. Second, Aubrey Huff, by far, should be a first baseman, not an outfielder. This move would let Huff go back to first, opening up room in the outfield. Finally, Belt has minor league options remaining, which means the Giants wouldn’t lose anyone in the process.

Mark DeRosa: Will not happen since he is owed a good deal of money and can play pretty much any position.

So what do I think? Honestly at this point it’s down to trading/cutting Pat Burrell or sending down Belt. I think Burrell getting cut is the most likely, Belt being sent down makes the most sense to me. But what say you readers? Feel free to opine!

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Quick Hit Opening Day Thoughts

– Lincecum looked good. Kershaw looked really good.

– Belt did not look like a rookie. Posey did.

– Sandoval had a couple of moments that made me say “this is a totally different player.” He had a few other moments where I thought it might have still been August 2010.

– Santiago Casilla did not inspire confidence that the bullpen can repeat last year’s performance. But, it was only one inning (sample size!).

– Every game I watch Pat Burrell play I look over at my wife at least once (probably more) and say: “I HATE Pat Burrell.” Usually, after I say this he does something beautiful (like hit a home run off Jonathan Broxton).

– No one likes to lose the first game, and no one ever wants to lose the Dodgers, but it was only one game, so no freaking out. Except for this…allow me to freak out over this: Are we really going to have to watch Tejada all season? There is no way he is the shortstop for 2011!

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Winter Inventory

February is upon us and pitchers and catchers are on their way south. Tim Lincecum told me on facebook that he is already en route to Arizona via SF. At this point, it seems fitting to put analysis to the side for a minute and just be fans.

This community post focuses on what we enjoyed last season, our impressions of the off-season, and what we are looking forward to once the 2011 season gets underway. Read it up and feel free to chime in:

Favorite Player of 2010:

  • Josh: Brian Wilson. Now I know that most of you would answer this way and let me be the first to say, you are correct. There is a right and wrong answer to this question and Brian Wilson is the correct response. Reason #1 for his brilliance is his interview skills. Do I need to elaborate? No. But I will. I’ve always wanted a player to interview the way he does. He is in this game for the good times and you can see that in the way he talks and acts. I respect that. I embrace that. I love him. Not in that way. Reason #2 is because he isn’t that great. Don’t get me wrong. He is darn good. I hate it when people say “More guts than stuff.” He has stuff, it just isn’t Mo Rivera stuff. I compare him to Maddox stuff. With Maddox, you know he won’t blow you away, he just hits his pitches and somehow got you out. (I still never understood how he was so successful with an 85 MPH fastball). Brian Wilson throws harder, but has the same attitude.  At the end of games, I’d have no idea how we won, but we did. He embodies the Giants season for me.
  • Tim: I know this seems obvious, but I just can’t help giving Gerald Dempsey Posey III this honor. (He’s just Buster to the rest of us). Seeing a 23-year-old kid come in and just take charge of a staff full of huge names was something to behold. He’s got the face of a 12-year-old, and the wisdom of a vet.
  • Jon: Andres Torres. The dude has all the entertaining attributes of a young kid that blew through the minors (speed, glove, leadoff skills, etc)…but he didn’t. Instead, he has an incredible underdog story now culminating in his early 30’s. He was given a chance, he took it, and he was one of the major pieces of the G-men’s World Series puzzle.
  • Steve: So many good choices…love Huff for the value, Posey for the potential, Torres for coming out of nowhere, the pitching staff for doing its thing, Uribe for his jazz hands. I could go on and on. My favorite player of 2010 though was Javier Lopez. Thank you Javier for making me look like a dummy (I hated the trade at the time) and for winning me over with your left-handed awesomeness. I never thought a LOOGY could inspire such confidence! Like Josh, I think Javy’s unexpected greatness represents what kind of year it was for the Giants.

Player You Are Excited for in 2011

  • Josh: Brandon Belt. Oh yes boys and girls, I’m talking minor leagues. I want to see this minx in the majors this year. Are you ready for some sexy numbers? Yes, they are minor league numbers so don’t put him in the Hall yet, but: batting average .352, OPS 1.075 (how the guacamole?), 23 HR and 112 RBI in 136 games last year.  He may need to marinate for one more year in the minors but I’m excited to see what he can do in September…Possibly sooner.
  • Tim: As far as explosive players go, no one beat Cody Ross down the stretch. He was knocking round trippers like his toothy smile depended on it last season, and the team really fed off of his energy. This guy seems to be the real deal, and it makes it even sweeter that no one wanted him, which made him perfect for our squad. I love his attitude, and his knack for clutch hitting, and I can’t wait to see what he does in the batters box and on the field this year.
  • Jon: Pablo Sandoval. To say the least, last year the Panda left his faithful fan base wanting. After an electric rookie campaign (well, not TECHNICALLY his rookie year which is why he didn’t win the ROY) we still have the sweet taste of a Pablo feast on our tongues. We just want a few more courses on the table this year. Let’s just hope the feast Pablo takes part in isn’t literal.
  • Steve: I’m looking forward to watching Matt Cain. The debate about Cain (is he lucky or good) rages on, and I hope Cain keeps sticking it to those who say it’s all luck. I was on the fence until the post-season…He gets people out, who cares how he does it. In a NL stacked with great arms, is this the year Matty moves in to the elite or does it all catch up to him and get a little ugly? I am looking for eliteness: a big 2011 for Matt Cain.

Best Move of the Off-Season

  • Josh: Miguel Tejada. Read my earlier post. The more I think about it, the more excited I get. I’m really looking forward to him at SS. I hope he gels well with the team.
  • Tim: Brian Sabean is doing his best to keep the world champs intact, signing Burrell and Ross to extensions. And yesterday, it was announced that Lou Piniella will be joining the organization. His passion for the game is unparalleled, and I think his fire-spitting personality will be a great addition to the team. I’m excited to see how he settles into whatever role he takes.
  • Steve: Obviously not a ton of moves to choose from, but the thing I liked was settling quickly and painlessly with all the arbitration eligible players. Also, Burrell for a million is a sweet deal.

Best Non-Move of the Offseason

  • Josh: Best off-season non-move was the avoidance of Pedro Feliz. It is well documented that I can’t stand Pedro. He has crushed my heart and soul with so many dang double plays. I saw that he was free, and something told me that Brian was going to pick him up. I would have been devastated. You can have him Royals. Good riddance.
  • Tim: Keeping the front office intact. Alternate Universe: Imagine if Bochy had been in his last year, and we had somehow not been able to re-sign him to be our skip. Who out there would be a capable leader? It would be great to have Dusty back in the dugout, but I’m gonna go with Terry Francona. Talk about an even keel! This guy is Teflon, and that’s what we would need to repeat this year. He’s proven he can win in a big baseball market, and handle the big names in the clubhouse. Lucky for us, we do have Bochy back this year, but if we didn’t, I would hope we could land someone like Francona. Kudos for keeping the leadership together.
  • Jon: I’ll give you a two-for and get myself kicked outta the Bay. Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria. Juan was worth some serious cash after his last two years, but the Giants would have been crazy to pay him more than the Dogs are giving him. 3 years @ $21 million, really? Edgar, you are forever at the precipice of Giants lore after your 3 run shot in the WS, but you’re old. Great dude I’m sure, but way too old to demand the kind of cash money you were looking for.
  • Steve: There’s a small part of me that would love to see Carl Crawford in the orange and black. Sometimes I fantasize about Cliff Lee. Also, what if the 49ers had drafted Aaron Rodgers instead of Alex Smith. Anyway, there is a part of me that says, open the wallet and go for it, but the best non-move of the offseason was not going crazy and keeping the band together. The formula over the past two years has been pitching, home-grown talent, and wiser/shorter contracts for useful vets. Keep it going!

Snow Day Link Dump

Giants-related links of interest:

1) While scrolling through some fox sports fluff  I saw this article…Andres Torres is the best center fielder in baseball!!!

2) Crazy Crabbers has a video that will warm your heart on even the coldest winter day…the last 27 outs!

3) I wanted to write about this but Bay City Ball’s got it locked down. Introducing my new favorite Spring Training invitee Marc Croon.

4) Brandon Belt was named one of MLB’s top 50 prospects. Of course, I’d probably like to see him higher, but he definitely belongs on the list.

5) ObsessiveGiantsCompulsive wrote an apologetic for Madison Bumgarner this week. Personally, I don’t buy the “country strong” argument, but I do hope he is right in his overall analysis!

6) Finally, McCovey Chronicles starts the batting order debate

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Spring Training Invites

here’s the list of the 22 players the Giants have invited to spring training. any thoughts?

obviously, belt is in there, who, along with crawford and mota, could be on the opening day roster if some things go right.

but beyond those guys who are you excited about? here are my three:

  1. Waldis Joaquin: actually was on the opening day roster last year. i still think there is some felix rodriguez in him yet.
  2. Tommy Joseph: he’s still a ways off, but a 19-year-old kid with crazy power=exciting
  3. Ryan Vogelsong: maybe we can trade him again for Jason Schmidt. seriously, though, perhaps he pulls a rabbit out of a hat and can be our “sixth” starter.

spring training invitees of interest, comment away!

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And we’re back (Giants’ ZIPS and prospects)

Back at it! Lots to say as we continue to reflect on the last year and look ahead to 2011 (which  is now here!):

First up: ZIPS has it’s predictions for the Giants up here

Really encouraged on their views of Pablo…if he fulfills this, it will be HUGE for the Giants. Also like their Belt projection. I disagree with their view of Runzler but maybe I’m just too optimistic.

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Update (1/5): Fangraphs has their top ten Giant’s prospects list up now. Check it out here (and just for fun, here’s last years)

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What are the Giants Doing???

the four of us will unpack this a lot more over the next couple of months, but as we head in to christmas the question in giantsland is: has the team done enough this off-season?

in a world where the red sox are acquiring big name players every two days and even middling teams like the nationals are willing to drop 9 figure deals into the laps of hairy corner outfielders, the giants have been buried by the headlines.

what exactly have they done? among other things, they’ve brought back huff for almost 4 times what they paid him last year. resigned burrell for a song (best contract of the off-season?). extended arbitration to a whole lot of guys (including important ones like cody ross, javy lopez, and santiago casilla, and not so important ones like mike fontenot). and, of course, signed miguel tejada to a reasonable one year deal that spawned a bunch of sabean-loves-old-guys jokes around the internet world.

a huge snore with one major caveat: the Giants Won the World Series.

there will be a few more moves here and there. there is some rumbling about bringing back guillermo mota, and maybe edgar renteria (or some other old dude) will help provide depth at SS, but, let’s face it, that’s pretty much it (unless the Giants pull a Phillies-style undercover maneuver and sign Beltre to play third base………..)

two schools of thought emerge:

1) the giants don’t need to do much, they won it all last year with these guys, give em a shot to repeat. (usually this line of thinking is accompanied with some of these logics: the pitching will be better because it is more experienced now…we didn’t get full seasons in 2010 out of posey, ross, burrell, freddy sanchez which will help the offense…hey, we still have mark derosa!…no one in our division is markedly better…etc, etc).

2) the giants are in trouble because they caught lightening a bottle last year, they have a small margin for error with such a poor offense, and if they were ever going to open the vault and GO FOR IT, this was the off-season to do it!!! no one repeats by maintaining the status quo.

there are still about 13 weeks to go before pitchers and catchers report so we don’t have the full picture of what everyone will do this off-season, giants included, but here is my initial response:

no matter what the Giants do this off-season (short of a red sox-esque shopping spree) the absolute key to next season is this:

PABLO SANDOVAL.

if pablo bounces back to anything like his 2009 season this Giants team will have re-acquired a beltre/werth type player by doing nothing. last year at this time people were so enamored by the panda (remember this line: .330/.387/.556) some were beginning to worry if the rubber chickens would make a reappearance at AT&T because of all the IBB he’d be getting. it remains one of life’s greatest mysteries that the 2010 Giants won the WS without pablo in the middle of the action.

2009 pablo means this will be a much, much more effective offense.

two more notes of lesser importance (but still important):

a) it will be interesting to see how the young pitchers rebound from the extra work. don’t freak out if they start slow, i think it is a definite possibility. seeing the big four come back strong and healthy next year is of significant import.

b) the wild card that is brandon belt. as i mentioned in my dynasty post, IF sandoval gets it together (and for the record i think he will have a good season), and IF belt is as good as advertised, then holy shoot the giants have a solid core to their lineup that is young and nasty, and every bit as good as what they could have gotten on the open market (and a whole lot cheaper, which, again brings up the question of value and that will be discussed at some point).

bottom line: no matter what you do in the off-season, you do some gambling. sometimes you bet on high priced vets, sometimes you bet on what got you there, and sometimes you keep an ace up your sleeve, which is what i’m hoping the giants have done with their young corner infielders.

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