Big Questions

Today and tomorrow I will examine the big questions that face the Giants this offseason. Today is simply the questions, tomorrow I will do my best to prognosticate what 2013 might look like. Here we go:

1) What can we expect from Tim Lincecum: the question isn’t really should he start or relieve, the question is can he regain his old form? More importantly, can he reinvent himself from a guy with nasty stuff to a great pitcher?

2) Can the rotation back up this post-season performance again: There’s no doubt that the Giants pitched well enough in 2011 to repeat. However they fell short due to a plethora of injuries that decimated the everyday lineup. But, as good as the pitching was during the post-season, there are questions about everybody: Lincecum (see above), Matt Cain (did he get tired this year, can he continue to carry the Ace mantle), Madison Bumgarner (can he regain velocity and put together a full season of dominance), Ryan Vogelsong (will the real Vogey please stand up…was his bad August/early September a sign that the bottom is falling out or just an aberration), and Barry Zito (can he do it again next year).

3) Can the lineup stay healthy: This is an overly simplistic view of reality, but there’s no denying the fact that in the two years the Giants have enjoyed Buster Posey’s presence in their lineup from June through October they won the World Series and in the one year he was out during that time they missed the playoffs. More to the point, this post-season demonstrated just how dynamic the middle of the lineup can be with Panda and Posey there and at full strength. So, Pablo can you stay in the lineup all season?

4) Will the Giants make the same mistakes from 2010: After winning the World Series the Giants allowed themselves to throw some objectivity out the window signing Aubrey Huff and Freddy Sanchez to new deals. Both of those guys were on the field celebrating in 2012 but had absolutely no impact on the games the team played. After 2011 Sabean and company shaped up a bit and made some more objective decisions, but rose-colored glasses could affect how they go after the holes in CF, LF, 2B, and in the bullpen.

5) Will the Giants make a splash in Free Agency: More and more money will be available and that money should probably go to a Buster Posey extension and a few other things, but the higher-ups could get excited about the buzz a Josh Hamilton signing would make. Do they go that direction or stick to the script that worked so well in 2010 and 2012?

We will tackle some of the answers tomorrow!

(-SB)

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Looking Ahead (Pt. 1)

What, you think just because the defending World Champion (and they still are!) Giants are done for the season we have nothing more to say? WRONG! Let’s look at how next year’s team is shaping up.

Catcher: Buster Posey will be back from his self-imposed exile next season so this is a set position. As far as backups go, keep Hector Sanchez in AAA for another year and use Eli Whiteside or Chris Stewart. Both work fine in that role.

First Base: Here’s an interesting situation. Brandon Belt has apparently been moved to Left Field full time-ish while Brett Pill is going bonkers and Aubrey Huff has one more year on his contract. So what do you do? I would go with Pill as your starter and see if he can handle a full season, and use Huff off the bench to give Pill a break or to take over if Pill falls apart.

Second Base: Freddy Sanchez is supposed to be ready by Spring Training so there you go. However I really like how Jeff Keppinger played since he acquired him and hope he can stay around as a utility guy, or even the starting SS.

Third Base: Pablo.

Shortstop: With the hole of suck known as Orlando Cabrera and Miguel Tejada gone this is one of the Giants biggest positional holes. As far as minor leaguers go we don’t have much, which is why I think you’ll either see some combo of Brandon Crawford and Jeff Keppinger, or the Giants go after a free agent. Although I expect them to check in on Jose Reyes, he’s really not a realistic option. Jimmy Rollins seems like a much better, and cheaper option for San Fran, but he’s asking for 5 years and I would hesitate to offer anything more than 3. Crawford showed a very good glove and Keppinger is a better offensive player, so unless the Giants do something surprising, this could be our situation next season.

Right Field: I honestly hope the Giants make a run at Carlos Beltran, but I’m seriously doubting he’ll be asking anything reasonable, especially since he’s a Boras client. In that case I think the Giants use Nate Schierholtz again as their starting RF and maybe/hopefully bring back Cody Ross at an affordable rate, especially since they don’t have anyone that close to ready in minors for next year. Nate did pretty well this season though, and his arm is killer, so it wouldn’t be a bad option.

Center Field: Torres is your option here, if only to see whether it was this season that was an aberration or if it was last season. Other than him who do you have? Justin Christian?

Left Field: Brandon Belt. At least it gives him consistent playing time.

Starting Pitching: Ah this is where it gets interesting. Lincecum, Cain and Bumgarner are sure bets, as probably is Vogelsong (is he a free agent? I don’t know), but what to do with Zito and Sanchez? I honestly have no clue what to do with Zito, I would release him, but that’s a LOT of money being left on the table. If he was ok with it I would throw him in the bullpen (he can’t be worse than Runzler this season) and maybe use him as a 6th/spot starter. Jonathan Sanchez I would trade and the reason behind this is that the Giants still have next to nothing in terms of batting. Posey, Sandoval and hopefully Belt and Pill, which would be great if they worked out, if not, we’re going to have another season where the playoffs are out of reach. Maybe they can score a shortstop (The Marlins seem really really down on Hanley Ramirez, and yes I know that is super unlikely.) or another outfielder or SOMEBODY who can be a consistent hitter. Replace him in the lineup with Eric Surkamp and go from there. If he falls off a cliff then just call up Zach Wheeler. Wait a minute…

Bullpen: Wilson, Romo, Castilla and Ramirez need to stay along with Lopez. KEEP LOPEZ! Throw in Edelfson and maybe Zito or someone else and we’re fine. It’s a very solid bullpen the way it is.

Bench: Keppinger, Darren Ford for your 5th OF/Pinch running expert, maybe Manny Burris or Connor Gillespie for the infield.

Free Agents: Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes will not happen. Sorry. Jimmy Rollins? Maybe. C.C. Sabathia? I really hope so, but no way. You know who I would like to see? Michael Cuddyer of the Twins. Plays 1B, 2B, 3B and OF and is a 20-25 HR a year hitter, around 70-80ish RBI’s and is a career .272 hitter, but that includes two bad years in 2003 and 2008. Not a bad option and he would look good in Orange and Black.

(-NW)