- Winter Preview----San Francisco Giants:
Oh, the pitching...
What they need: Two power bats; a veteran catcher; a veteran, mid-rotation starter; a bat off the bench.
Free agents: LHP Randy Johnson; RHP Bobby Howry; OF Randy Winn; INF Juan Uribe; C Bengie Molina; INF Rich Aurilia; 1B Ryan Garko
Johnson hasn't retired and it sounds like he still wants to pitch; I think there's a chance he returns to the Giants at some point if he's able.
The veteran Howry was serviceable enough for the Giants in 2009; he could return on a 1-year deal.
To me Winn is one of the more underrated free agents out there. He won't cost a first round pick to sign and he's coming off a down season at 35 after years of consistent, if unsung, production; he'll be inexpensive. He can still run and catch the ball at a corner outfield spot and a change to a home ballpark with more inviting dimensions might wake up his 10-15 home run power. The Giants need a big basher at a corner outfield spot. Winn won't be back.
Uribe is a versatile utility infielder who can hit the ball out of the park; he'll get a job elsewhere where he'll get his 300 or so at bats and hit 15 homers. He won't be back.
Molina is looking for a 2-3 year deal elsewhere as the Giants are waiting for Buster Posey to be ready. Molina won't want to take a 1-year contract to caddy for a rookie unless all of his other options fall through. I think there's a chance that Molina's most avid pursuers----the Mets----grow tired of playing the game and repeat what happened when they were negotiating with Molina after 2005 and instead made a trade for a catcher rather than wait for Molina. Back then they traded for Paul Lo Duca; now they might trade for Ryan Doumit.
Molina had better take the 2-years the Mets are offering.
Aurilia is a loyal Giant, but the club could use a better utility infielder who can hit with more pop. I doubt he's back.
Garko was non-tendered after a disappointing stint following his mid-season acquisition from the Indians. He'll get a semi-regular job somewhere.
Players available via trade: INF Emmanuel Burriss; SS Edgar Renteria; CF Aaron Rowand; LHP Barry Zito
Burriss's star has fallen in San Francisco and there's nowhere for him to play, especially if the Giants acquire a bat to play second or third base as they appear intent on doing. Truthfully, he's not much of a prospect and is more suited to be a utility infielder with some speed.
It appears that the Lazarus-style comebacks that have been a hallmark of Edgar Renteria's career are over. After an unproductive 2008 with the Tigers, the Giants hoped a return to the National League would rejuvenate Renteria's career as it did when he went from the Red Sox to the Braves, but he appears downsliding severely. Renteria's making $9 million next year and they might be able to move him if GM Brian Sabean is creative and takes a bad contract back.
Rowand was signed by the Giants because they whiffed on any and all other attempts to acquire a big bat after the 2007 season. Rowand's a great guy in the clubhouse; can really get the ball in the outfield; hits clutch homers; and is a fiery leader on and off the field. The Mets and Cardinals could use him if all other avenues fail in improving their lineup. That said, he's guaranteed $36 million through 2012, making him a tough sell.
You want Barry Zito?
Manager Bruce Bochy came up with a strategy in using Zito that played out as follows: he'd let Zito pitch until he got into any kind of trouble regardless of the inning...and yanked him.
There were games in which Zito had given up two or three hits and got pulled at the first hint of a struggle. You could tell by the pitcher's body language that he wasn't thrilled with the arrangement, but Bochy didn't care and judging from Zito's penchant for blowing up without warning in recent years, it's hard to blame the manager.
In fairness, Zito's fastball was back around where it was in his heyday with the Athletics (88 mph or so; Zito never threw particularly hard) and if his contract weren't so heinous, someone would take a chance on him; but in a classic catch-22, if his contract were more agreeable, the Giants wouldn't be looking to unload a decent innings-gobbler for the back of the rotation.
Zito is set to earn...wait for it....$83 million guaranteed through 2013.
He's going nowhere.
Players to pursue:
Via free agency: 1B Adam LaRoche (Braves); LHP Doug Davis (Diamondbacks); INF/OF Melvin Mora (Orioles); OF Jason Bay (Red Sox); OF Jermaine Dye (White Sox); 1B Jason Giambi (Rockies); RHP Jason Marquis (Rockies); C Yorvit Torrealba (Rockies); 1B/3B/OF Aubrey Huff (Orioles); LHP Jarrod Washburn (Tigers); INF Miguel Tejada (Astros); C Miguel Olivo (Royals); C Brad Ausmus (Dodgers); INF Mark Loretta (Dodgers); 2B Orlando Hudson (Dodgers); 2B Ronnie Belliard (Dodgers); RHP Jon Garland (Dodgers); SS Orlando Cabrera (Twins); OF Gary Sheffield (Mets); 1B Carlos Delgado (Mets); OF Johnny Damon (Yankees); OF/1B Xavier Nady (Yankees); C Jose Molina (Yankees); RHP Justin Duchscherer (Athletics); RHP Pedro Martinez (Phillies); RHP Brett Myers (Phillies); LHP Erik Bedard (Mariners); RHP Ben Sheets; OF Matt Holliday (Cardinals); INF/OF Mark DeRosa (Cardinals); RHP John Smoltz (Cardinals); OF Marlon Byrd (Rangers)
The Giants need someone, anyone who can hit the ball out of the park. Actually, they need two someones, anyones who can hit the ball out of the park. There are bats available and the Giants have some positional flexibility in that it can be an outfielder at either corner, a first baseman or third baseman because they can shift Freddy Sanchez to third and Pablo Sandoval to first.
LaRoche would be a great fit for the Giants. He's underrated at the plate and a Gold Glove caliber defender. Delgado or Huff are lower cost options.
Bay and Holliday are perfect fits, but it's hard to see the Giants jumping in with Holliday after the way they were torched with another Scott Boras client in Zito; the only way it happens is if the market dries up completely for Holliday, but he faltered in the Bay Area with the A's and I can't imagine him wanting to go down that road again. Bay is said to not want to play in San Francisco and I think he's going to the Mets.
If the Yankees complete their negotiations with Nick Johnson, Damon is a very real option for the Giants. Dye played well for the A's in the Bay Area and would take a short-term deal. I have a feeling Dye's going to the Giants.
He can still hit and Bochy handled Barry Bonds who's a bad guy; he'll handle Sheffield, who has some quirks but is deep down a decent guy and well-respected and liked by the other players. The question is, can he still play the outfield? Why not if all other possibilities fall through?
There's a load of cheap pitching out there in a mutually advantageous deal. Bedard, Sheets, Martinez, Myers, Smoltz, etc. The Giants don't need a number one or two starter, they need a solid vet in the middle-to-back end----and they'll be able to find that relatively easily and reasonably priced.
Olivo, Torrealba or Jose Molina would be useful enough veteran catchers on a short-term deal to hold the position until Buster Posey is ready, possibly at mid-season. I'd sign Olivo.
Via trade: OF J.D. Drew (Red Sox); 3B Mike Lowell (Red Sox); LF Carl Crawford (Rays); 1B/OF Luke Scott (Orioles); OF Delmon Young (Twins); OF/1B/3B Miguel Cabrera (Tigers); OF Carlos Quentin (White Sox); 1B Paul Konerko (White Sox); 3B Jhonny Peralta (Indians); 1B Travis Hafner (Indians); RHP Joe Blanton (Phillies); 3B/1B Jorge Cantu (Marlins); OF Cody Ross (Marlins); 2B Dan Uggla (Marlins); 2B Luis Castillo (Mets); RHP Carlos Zambrano (Cubs); RHP Aaron Harang (Reds); RHP Bronson Arroyo (Reds); LF Carlos Lee (Astros); C Ryan Doumit (Pirates); RHP Chris Young (Padres); 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff (Padres)
Many of these are swaps of bad contracts like Drew and Harang. Would the Cubs be willing to trade Zambrano for Zito? The contracts are similar and the Cubs have seen and heard enough of their flighty righty.
What's Kenny Williams up to in Chicago with the White Sox? The GM/evil villain the vein of a James Bond film just traded for Juan Pierre, so who knows what he's thinking of doing with the oft-injured Stanford grad Quentin? One would assume that Quentin will be the full-time DH, but maybe he's going to trade him, in which case the Giants would be very interested.
It sounds like Uggla is heading to San Francisco; perhaps the deal could be expanded to include the underrated and feisty Ross.
Yes, I have Travis Hafner and his toxic contract up there. It's hard to imagine him being able to play the field and stay healthy since he can't even DH without getting hurt, but he's got $30 million guaranteed through 2012. Maybe a swap of contracts is feasible if the Giants think Hafner can regain his health and bash as he did with the Indians earlier in the decade.
- Viewer Mail 12.18.2009:
Kyle writes RE Huston Street:
I think Huston Street is a better closer than you give him credit for. I believe the Angels were looking at trading for him last year and I was quite excited at the possibility. I'd rather have him on the hill for the ninth than Brian Fuentes anyday.
If I had to pick between the two I'd probably go with Fuentes, but the difference is negligible during the regular season. I have absolutely no faith in Street in a big game given his gack jobs with the A's in the 2006 ALCS and what happened this year in the NLDS for the Rockies.
Gabriel (Capo) writes RE the Roy Halladay trade:
I think I'd have liked J.A. Happ and Donald Brown more than Drabek and D'Arnaud, but I don't complain for the prospects, except for the swap of Taylor for Wallace. Currently, there is no right fielder (José Bautista is an utility guy, not an everyday player) and the Jays have 1B and 3B covered. I do, however, complain about (read: abut) the money that the Jays sent to the Phillies. I cannot see it necessary in order to complete the deal.
All things considered, the Blue Jays did as well as they possibly could given all the obstacles in their path, not the least of which that Halladay had their organizational testicles clenched in his fists. Had they not anted up that cash, they quite literally might've gotten nearly nothing for one of the best pitchers of this era, so the $6 million was worth it to save them from a similar purgatory that the Twins met when trading Johan Santana.
Jeff (Acting Boss) at Red State Blue State writes the Halladay trade:
I'm going to be keeping an eye on who becomes the better player: Wallace or Taylor. I think this will be the piece of the trade we bring up years from now.
I have a feeling about Taylor. Don't ask me why. I think he's going to be a superstar.
Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Halladay:
Having Halladay and Lee would have been devastating to the competition. As a Mets fan you must be especially glad they didn't go that route.
In the afterglow of getting Halladay, there's a total lack of objectivity to what the Phillies just did---- essentially nothing to improve the club from what they already had in hand. Halladay will give them probably 15-20 more innings than Lee would have and will pitch deeper into games to save the club from having to worry about the still-shaky bullpen. All in all, they got a guarantee of having Halladay past next year when they didn't have that with Lee.
The Phillies would've been tough to beat had they combined Lee and Halladay; now, their issues in the bullpen and back of the rotation are still present and given Ruben Amaro Jr's strange decisions (Placido Polanco at third base?), I'm curious to see what he does to shore up those holes. I like the Ross Gload signing.
Sal at SportsFan Buzz writes RE Halladay:
We spoke a little about this concerning his head around the trade talks, but he had a solid September after a miserable (by his standards) August.
Think you are being a little too hard on the Phillies. While I would have kept Lee for 2010 and "see what happens" later, I don't think this trade starts their downfall. They have other problems (Rollins, who we spoke about, and other pitching questions) that need to addressed that if ignored we cause the plunge.
Look forward to having you on again. Let's plan for maybe late January when the FA dust settles.
They're probably not going to do anything with Rollins----no trade and definitely no extension----and the latter is going to fester with Rollins and he'll start flapping his mouth as soon as the spring opens and maybe before.
Doing it this way with Halladay may have made financial sense over the long term (now anyway), but they're not any better and it's a similar move as what the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets and others have made and failed in trying to maintain their positions as top dog.
Depending on how they try and fix the bullpen and back of the starting rotation, they have some gaping holes; most importantly, they have no idea which Brad Lidge is going to show up. If I had to guess, he'll pitch well in 2010, but he's such a basket case, who knows? The other acquisitions will determine the Phillies fate, but Amaro has pulled some head-scratchers this winter.
I can't wait for the free agent dust to settle----lots of ammunition for my next appearance. I'll come on anytime with pleasure. Presumably, the Mets will have done something by then(?). Maybe(?).
Then we get to a couple of "Anonymous" quotes.
"Anonymous" #1 writes RE the Phillies:
Keep wishing "Prince".
Um, take care in your tone friend. Putting quotes around Prince without leaving your name is a bad start with me.
I will keep wishing.
I'll keep wishing that those who have something to say to me will have the balls to leave their name.
One thing I have to acknowledge about the stat zombies/commenters who've come after me on Baseball Think Factory among other places is that they knew their place. Emerging from their primordial muck to attack me in other venues without having the courage to come at me on my own site shows a prudence that I can almost respect. At least they knew better than to take their shots on either one of my sites. The ones that did venture over were backhanded so severely and slashed to shreds without sorrow or pity that they were left to crawl back into their sludge and haven't been heard from since.
Next time you want to challenge me, leave your name or comment elsewhere, because I won't exert myself to come after you to get my figurative hands around your throat.
Anonymous #2 writes:
So, if youre the Phillies...you sit back and let Halladay get traded elsewhere, you keep Lee for the final year of his contract, and then in the winter when he searches for a contract he likes, he walks to a team with deep pockets, and then the phillies lose out on Halladay, and Lee...is this what you would have done?
No. I said clearly in the posting that the entire idea of getting Halladay was to combine him with Lee.
If it were me, I would've kept Lee and gone after Halladay. It didn't have to be either/or. This stuff about Lee not wanting to sign an extension sounds like spin doctoring to cover for what the Phillies just did.
If they were making this leap, they should've jumped in with both feet so they had both pitchers for at least 2010 and made themselves prohibitive NL favorites; worst case scenario, they could've offered Lee around at the deadline next year; they would've gotten the same prospects in a deal then if they were confident in making a long post-season run without Lee.
But that wasn't going to happen. No way they'd be able to sell trading Lee if they were rolling toward another pennant in July 2010.
This was a safety-first outlet. The Phillies are trying to cover all the bases, something that history has proven to be impossible and they're going to regret it.