3 Thoughts on the Winter Meetings #SFGiants

1. I meant to write about this during the playoffs, but didn’t get around to it. But, the Dodgers are scary. And we just saw why. They now have smart and savvy people calling the shots, along with boatloads of money. Imagine if the Yankees hired Billy Beane. That’s who the Dodgers are now. It’s the most special of all the sauces.

This is not to say that NL West race is over, or that the Giants are screwed. The Giants seem to have their own special sauce, and it takes great, thank you very much. And, as always, it’s important to remember that no one wins the World Series just because they made some moves in December.

But the Dodgers just got a lot better.

A lot.

2. On finishing second. It is frustrating that the Giants seem to be making a habit of being everyone’s second choice (see Lester, Jon, and Tomas, Yasmany, and Abreu, Jose). Every rumored name we keep hearing about (Brandon McCarthy, Ervin Santana, you name it) is getting snapped up by some other team.

Two points to make here: First, the Giants are thinking about the Jon Lester’s of the world, which means the team has resources and a willingness to spend. They didn’t lose out because they’ve had poor offers, they’ve lost because someone else was more appealing for whatever reason. Second, the Giants are very disciplined in this process, which is a really good thing. $120 million would have brought back Pablo and been a very stupid thing to do. They didn’t do it. Sometimes that no compromise attitude means losing the bid, but it also means staying within the game plan, and if I had one fear this off-season it is that the Giants would stray from the game plan.

3. What now? At the beginning of the offseason I wanted Pablo back and a couple of pitchers, primarily Ervin Santana. Both are gone. The hot rumors of the day seem to indicate that the Giants are pursuing James Shields. Also, Chase Headley is still available. If they get both of those guys for a combined total less than Lester’s money, that would be a huge win and represent an upgrade over my original hopes.

-SB

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3 Ideas, Or Life Without Pablo #SFGiants

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.

-SB

3 Thoughts on Today’s Wild Card Game #royals #athletics #mlbplayoffs2014

Maybe it’s because the Giants are in the Wild Card Game this year, maybe it’s because I know a lot of A’s and Royals fans, maybe it’s because I’m having a hard time getting into the football season, but whatever the reason I am pumped for two ridiculous baseball games here over the next two days.

Knowing as many A’s and Royal’s fans as I do I’m bound to tick off someone here, but I’d like to offer 3 thoughts on tonight’s game:

1. Big trades led to this moment. The A’s made several big trades this year, but the controversial move of sending Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox for Jon Lester will only be able to be fully appreciated and evaluated in light of tonight. If Lester pitches the A’s through this game, and if the A’s go on to make some noise, perhaps even get to the World Series, no one will moan and complain about this trade anymore. They shouldn’t complain about it anyway. The irony of the A’s moves this year was that they actually built a roster that could succeed in the playoffs (as opposed to strong regular season teams that weren’t designed well for short playoff series). Now, it’s time.

The Royals traded Wil Meyers to the Rays for James Shields. There were other players involved, but this was the heart of the trade. Big Game James gets an opportunity to live up to his name and bring joy to Kansas City that hasn’t been felt there in a long time. Many people thought it was a bad trade, but it made sense for one reason: this moment. No one will question the trade if the Royals win tonight and go on to make some noise in the remainder of the playoffs.

2. Someone will be very sad. All season the Royals fans expected the “other shoe” to drop and the bottom to fall out. You can still sense their reluctance to give their heart to this team. One thing, though, about not making the playoffs for 25 years (as depressing as that is) is they haven’t faced the sadness that A’s fans have faced since 2000. The A’s have lost in every conceivable way in the postseason over the last 14 years, and losing this Wild Card Game would only bring a new level of misery to the east bay.

3. And the winner is…I wan to pick the A’s so badly, I really do. I can see a world where they win this game, and go on to exact their revenge against the Angels and Tigers. It would be so, so sweet. But, all year long I have loved this Royals team. They remind me in many ways of the 2010 Giants. Strong starting pitching, unbelievable bullpen, just enough offense at just the right times. I think the Royals get an early lead and their nasty bullpen makes it stand up.

3-2 Royals.

-SB