2014 Here We Come!

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox, who officially give the Giants grounds for much hope as we head into the off-season. One of the ways the Red Sox pulled it off was through magical resurgences by pitchers who sucked. This is also critical to the Giants hopes for next season.

The other strategy was savy free agent gambles that paid off handsomely (if you consider gnarly beards to be handsome…also World Series titles). Mike Napoli, Johnny Gomes, Koji Uehara, Shane Victorino, Stephen Drew, David Ross, and Ryan Dempster were all brought in and contributed in some way.

So, who might be out there to help the Giants? MLBTradeRumors has their list up to date and so I’ve been checking it out and here are a few lists:

No Way, please NO!

  1. Curtis Granderson/Sin Soo Choo/Jacoby Ellsbury: These are three good players, but any kind of power they have will be killed by AT&T and they are going to cost much money. Don’t even kick these tires Giants…huge waste of time.
  2. Brian McCann: I like McCann but it sure sounds like it’s going to take a boatload of money to get him and, hey, I think we have a catcher already. Oh, no problem, just send Belt to the outfield and let McCann and Posey split time between first and catcher (even though McCann has never played there). Sure, sounds like a GREAT idea.
  3. Barry Zito: just making sure you are paying attention

Ok, But I’m not Thrilled

  1. Dan Haren: there are actually a lot of middling pitchers out there. My fear is that the Giants will look at some of them (like Haren), who have brand names, and throw some money at them with the hopes that the Righetti/Ballpark magic will make them good again. I do think there’s some magic in that combination but I hope they apply it wisely. I have a hard time believing Haren is a wise choice.
  2. Bronson Arroyo: Many people seem to think this is going to happen, done deal. I’m worried because if Timmy grows his hair out and Bronson is on the team, my wife will never watch baseball with me again. I actually think Arroyo is a good fit, but I’m also worried about the money and time commitment to get him.
  3. Nelson Cruz: the Giants have never shied away from left fielders with PED problems. I love Cruz’s bat, but there’s a lot of baggage and the dude gets hurt ALL THE TIME.  (Same can be said for Mike Morse).

Risky, But I’m Interested

  1. Ubaldo Jimenez: He’s was amazing, then he stunk for a while, then he was amazing again (but only for half the season). If we’re going to double down on the Giants ability to revive pitchers than I like taking my chances with U.
  2. Masahiro Tanaka: Some say: Ace, others say: Good pitcher. Either way, he’s going to be expensive. I have no problem with the Giants going for it on this one. The biggest risk is financial.

What I Really Want

  1. Carlos Beltran: There it is world. It all comes back around. He’s the prime candidate for a two-year, incentive laden deal, and oh how I would love to finally see him mash with Posey/Pablo/Belt/Pence. It’s probably not going to happen (boooo Yankees), but this is my heart’s desire.

Thoughts on trades coming soon…

(-SB)

Bon Iver

So, the Grammy nominations came out last night and it was hilarious to drive around this morning and listen to the top 40 station DJ’s here in Boston trying to figure out Bon Iver. Is that like Bon Jovi. How do you pronounce it? Good stuff.

Bon Iver is a band and the name of the band is play on the French for Good Winter. Which leads us to the question: what will it look like for the Giants to have a good winter?

I keep waffling between two extremes:

Extreme 1

Go all in and sign Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Beltran. Sure there are some risks involved…both guys are older and on the down side of their careers. The Giants will probably have to overpay in some way (dollars or years) to get them to come here. They have injury baggage. We will probably hate their contracts during the last year or two.

But, here’s the deal: The Giants have Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, and the pumpkin carriage Ryan Vogelson rode in on, for one more year. Now, they may have those guys for several more years if they do indeed get their contracts extended. But they might not. Cain could be pitching for the Red Sox in 2013. But for 2012 at least, spend the money to put a top-notch lineup out there. Rollins and Beltran will be good (enough) next year. Any maybe even a year or two after that. But all you know is 2012 if you are living on this extreme. So go for it.

Extreme 2

DO NOTHING. By as early as 2013 the Giants could have a completely home-grown, cost controlled everyday starting lineup with the “gold standard” pitching staff locked up for several years. Do not block or impede this vision with foolish contracts. By the end of 2012 all the veteran/bad contracts are gone (save Zito), so don’t mess this up.

What Giants-phile doesn’t want to see what could happen with a lineup like this:

  • Gary Brown CF
  • Joe Panick 2B (or Charlie Culberson)
  • Brandon Belt 1B/LF
  • Buster Posey C/1B
  • Pablo Sandoval 3B
  • Francisco Peguero RF (or Melky Cabrera if he sticks)
  • Tommy Joseph C/1B
  • Brandon Crawford SS (or Ehire Adrianza)
  • Don’t forget about the great mystery that is Angel Villalona

It could work/happen and the Giants could always supplement this with a shrewd FA signing next offseason. But don’t jack with this now by committing to some old guys for too long and for too much money.

What Should/Will Happen

What I think will probably happen (and, for that matter what should happen) is that the Giants will extend Cain, come to some short-term agreement with Lincecum (and we’ll have to do this all over again next year), and fortify themselves at shortstop (which is the ONE must, in my opinion, for the rest of the off-season). No idea who the SS stop-gap will be, but I am pretty sure whoever it is will have some warts (age, injuries, decline, etc). Can’t be as bad as last year, though.

I just don’t think the Giants can go in to 2012 with Brandon Crawford (as much as I love the kid) as the everyday shortstop.

So, what you think: what does a good winter look like for the Giants?

(-SB)

Week In Review (9/19-9/25)

Results:

1-5 (84-75, 9 GB in NL West)

2-1 L @ LAD; 8-5 W @ LAD; 8-2 L @ LAD; 3-1 L @ Ari; 15-2 L @ Ari; 5-2 L @ Ari

Another season, another failed attempt at a repeat champion in Major League Baseball. I will have a lot more to say about the Giants season in future posts, but for now thank you boys for a great 2010, and for hanging in for most of 2011 even after you lost your best player for nearly 75% of the season. In a strange way this has been one of the more memorable seasons in a long time, mostly because I have never such a deeply flawed team make a legitimate run at a division title. There’s something commendable about that.

Hitter of the Week:

Despite the 1-5 belly flop of a last full week of baseball, the Giants actually had some decent offensive performances. Torres gave us a “where has that been all season” .400 average and a home run, Sandoval hit when he was in the lineup (despite his shoulder), and even Mark DeRosa contributed a 4 for 12 week. However, let’s tip our cap to Carlos Beltran who I’d love to have back, but let’s face it he’ll be in the AL next year making some fantasy owners very happy. All he did in a Giants uniform was hit .335/.379/.576 with 7 home runs and 18 RBI in 41 games. A lot of people have criticized the trade and, yeah, it would have been great to have had in the lineup about 15 more times, but, hey, everyone got hurt this year! They brought him over to hit and he hit. The end.

Pitcher of the Week:

Hard to find anyone to get too excited about this week (Vogelsong got the only win but did it with an ERA of 7.20). I’ll give it to Sergio Romo for being so awesome all season and pitching in 3 games this week without allowing a run. Tim Lincecum’s season, though, pretty much tells the whole story. 13-14 with 217 IP, 220 K, a 1.21 WHIP, and a 2.74 ERA. A losing record. Unbelievable.

Looking Ahead:

Start the roster prediction engines, it’s time to speculate about what the 2012 Giants will look like. Early predictions have Jimmy Rollins coming home to the Bay to play short stop. In the near future we will wrap up 2011, look ahead to the winter, predict some playoff series, and enjoy October baseball.

Thanks again Giants!

(-SB)

Week in Review (8/29-9/4)

Results:

2-4 (73-67; 7 GB in NL West)

7-0 L vs. CHI; 5-2 L vs. CHI; 4-0 W vs. CHI; 6-2 W vs ARI; 7-2 L vs. ARI; 4-1 L vs. ARI

Well, this was the make or break week and the Giants broke. As I wrote earlier in the week the Giants actually broke back in May and it’s been remarkable that they lasted in the race as long as they did. Let’s face it, the division is weak, but Arizona is good (performing similarly to the way many thought the Rockies would play this year) and the Giants needed to be healthy to compete. They were not (24 DLs this year and their position player out for over 100 games).

To reiterate, there’s plenty to complain about: Sabean will take his hits, Bochy will too, certainly several players need to be accountable for what’s transpired, but I actually think everyone should get a hat tip for not folding in early June. Sabean did what he had to do to add (or subtract) to the roster (even if a few of the moves were questionable), Bochy managed with a lot of spare parts and duct tape, and some players rose to the occasion, came back, or emerged out of no where. 2011 should be remembered as the loss of Posey, but also for Ryan Vogelsong story, the return of the Panda, and the maturation of Madison Bumgarner (among others).

Someone tweeted this weekend (I think it was Rory Paap) that when Burrell went down (again) on Saturday that it was a metaphor for the season. Agreed. Too little, too late, too hurt. But that’s sports.

Hitter of the Week:

Carlos Beltran is a good player. He was great at one point (scroll about half way down to read Pos’s take on Beltran), and watching him play, even in his current-somewhat-diminished state, reveals how much better he is than anyone else in the Giants current lineup. It’s a shame he got hurt, and it’s a shame that most Giants fans will probably complain about this trade for years even though it was pretty sound. I actually think the Giants should consider going after him this offseason. Burrell and Rowand are gone leaving a potential starting outfield of Belt, Torres, and Schierholtz. Ross could come back but probably for around $6-7 million. Beltran for 2 years at $22-24 (similar to Huff) would not be a bad idea. Let Nate be the fourth outfielder and use Ford or a cheap FA to hold down the 5th spot.

Pitcher of the Week:

Another interesting twitter comment. GiantsNirvana asked his followers in the wake of Saturdays crushing loss who Giants’ fans would rather have for the next 5 years: Timmy or Matty? The majority of folks said Both. Which is, of course, the right answer but I was surprised that it was so close. I expected: Tim, Both, Matt. Matt Cain came up big this week and I think the move that will define the Giants for the next five years is whether they extend him this offseason or not. I think they should. I think it is a no-brainer. But the Giants ate a ton of money last week, and they may eat more with Zito in the not-t00-distant future. Can they keep both Cain and Lincecum long-term? Yes please, but if they decide they have to choose, who do you want? Hmmmmmm….

Looking Ahead:

There are several scenarios where the Giants are still alive. The Twins and Phillies are two recent teams to pull off a six or seven game comeback in the final three weeks. It can be done. These Giants are not going to do it. I hope they do, but I just don’t see it.

Here are the priorities: Crawford, Belt, and Torres play everyday as they represent some of the bigger issues the Giants need to consider this offseason: OF, SS, and leadoff. Let Hector Sanchez do the bulk of the catching. Limit Bumgarner’s pitch count to 100. Shut down Wilson, we need him next year. Give Brett Pill a couple of starts (read the last paragraph of Lefty Malo’s post for a good laugh).

Finally, allow Burrell and Ross to say goodbye to the fans who love them. I hope they both get a nice ovation at some point during the final home stand.

That’s about it. A fascinating season that I am afraid has come to its inevitable end.

(-SB)

5 Things

  1. Welcome to the show, Carlos Beltran. Stay hot (and while we wish that, let’s pass the “stay hot” along to Cody Ross and Jeff Keppinger).
  2. Two 2-run home runs. The Giants HAVE to hit home runs if they are going to make a run. HAVE to.
  3. Pat Burrell: 3 ABs, 2 walks, 22 pitches seen. Might not seem like a lot, but I can’t stress how important those kinds of at bats are and how much having a patient approach helps this lineup. Last year, with Posey and Burrell (and even Huff) providing this type of approach the Giants were able to wear down teams in ways this years squad can only dream about.
  4. Good job fans. The crowd was loud.
  5. Matt Cain is good at pitching.
(-SB)

Beltran Links

I’ve been dropping these in the comments of the last post, but thought I’d compile all the links here. Several different takes on the Beltran trade…overall most agree it was a good, had-to-be-done move but the price was high.

(-SB)

All In

(-SB) It is pretty much a done deal at this point: Carlos Beltran will be a Giant. There is a lot to say and process, and not nearly enough time, so I highly recommend reading this. I 99% agree with the author.

One issue that immediately pops up is the outfield logjam the Giants have. This may be curtains for Burrell. Some interesting moves still yet to happen with the roster.

Here’s the lineup I’d love to see the Giants use the rest of the way (with modifications obviously based on matchups):

  • CF Torres (Ross)
  • 1B Belt
  • LF Beltran
  • 3B Sandoval
  • RF Schierholtz
  • 2B Keppinger (Fontenot)
  • SS Crawford (Tejada if they have to)
  • C Whiteside (Stewart)
Last, here’s an article we were going to run today by Nick comparing Upton and Beltran:
——————-

Note: It now appears that the Giants have traded Zach Wheeler and cash for Carlos Beltran, so this article is a bit late, but my point remains the same.

The trade deadline is usually one of the most exciting, and most overhyped, parts of the baseball season. Fans are always following mlbtraderumors.com or the ESPN insider page for any minute details involving their team and whether they are buyers, sellers or completely blowing up the team for prospects. This frenzy of knowledge also affects fans of the defending World Series Champions. (Note: The San Francisco Giants are the current World Champions.) This year the trade rumors with the Giants have been all about finding a bat, any bat, even a little leaguer who is able to hit a change-up down the middle. The Giants even called me to see if I wanted to be the new starting Left Fielder, although sadly I had to decline. The Giants currently have one hitter (ONE!) hitting over .300, and that’s new acquisition Jeff Keppinger at 2B. Pablo is hitting well, but honestly that’s about all we have at the moment and somehow the Giants remain in first. Obviously the need for a bat is huge and the two names the Giants have been tied to in the last few weeks are Mets OF Carlos Beltran, and Tampa Bay OF BJ Upton. Both have pluses, both have minuses, so which one would be a better fit?

Beltran: With Beltran you have an experienced hitter who, at one point in his career, was considered one of the best players in all of baseball. This season he’s currently hitting .289/.391/.513 with an OPS of .901 along with 15 HR’s and 66 RBI, not an amazing season but a solid one, however the amazing part is with those exact stats, Beltran would be first in HR’s (Huff and Pablo would be tied for second with 9 (!)), first in RBI, beating Huff who has 47 (!) and his 61 runs scored would beat out Andres Torres for the team lead, Torres having scored 39 times. Seriously, how are we in first place again? As far as defense goes, Beltran has a WAR of 3.6 (yes I hate sabermetrics, but for the benefit of this discussion, and for those of you who enjoy those stats, I’m throwing it in here). It’s not a great WAR, but a good one and it’s better than Pat Burrell (1.0), Andres Torres (1.1), Aaron Rowand (1.1), Cody Ross (0.9) and Nate Schierholtz (1.3), essentially making him our best hitter and our best fielder in one fell swoop. Downside? His speed (he had 42 SB’s not that long ago) is essentially gone, he’s a free agent after this season, and we’ll probably be unlikely/unable to sign him long-term, and he’s been injury prone since he went to the Mets, although maybe the holy waters of McCovey Cove will heal him of all ills.

Upton: BJ is a much more interesting choice, not as good or as famous as his brother Justin over in Arizona, BJ is currently hitting .227/.307/.395 with an OPS of .702. His power numbers look better with 15 HR’s and 53 RBI with 23 SB’s. So he has speed and about the same power as Beltran, along with 47 runs scored. The interesting thing about Upton is he’ll be under team control longer, and is considered the better defender, along with a much larger upside than Beltran. Lots of scouts feel that BJ needs to get free from Tampa, have a fresh start and the promise that he showed early in his career (such as 2007 where he hit .300 with 24 HR’s and 82 RBI.) Plus the appeal of holding onto him for a few years instead of Beltran just being a rental player makes you like him a bit more. Unfortunately his downside is his performance as a whole and his cost would probably be higher than Beltran, especially since reports now indicate the Mets have lowered their initial asking price for Carlos.

As far as compensation goes you’d have to think that the Mets are asking for Zach Wheeler or Gary Brown, two prospects I really wouldn’t want to trade at all. The Rays are probably asking the same, and maybe someone like Jonathan Sanchez or Thomas Neal, another Giants OF prospect. Honestly I started writing this article thinking BJ Upton would be a better solution, and for some teams, like the Braves or even the Brewers, he probably would be, but for a team like the Giants who need offense and need it now, the numbers don’t lie, Carlos Beltran is the way to go. I just hope it’s not for Brown or Wheeler.

(-NW)