Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy have their work cut-out for them
San Francisco Giants' GM Brian Sabean did a great job at the trade deadline and immediately following. He brought in three players, all of whom are contributing for the Giants.
Marco Scutaro was the first acquisition and he has been exactly as advertised. The veteran utility infielder filled in admirably for Pablo Sandoval at third base and will also play second base and shortstop. With the loss of Cabrera, Scutaro could even find himself in left field at times for the Giants.
Scutaro has also hit very well as a Giant. In 19 games, he is batting .320 and has 15 RBI. He has provided the Giants with a big lift and fit in very well in the clubhouse.
Hunter Pence was the Giants' biggest acquisition. Although he is off to a slow start average-wise, hitting only .177, he does have 11 RBI in 15 games, including a dramatic three-run homer to give the Giants a win against the Rockies.
Pence is also under the Giants' arbitration control for one more season, so he is not a rental player. I firmly believe Pence will hit for the Giants and this was a great move by Sabean.
Shortly after the trade deadline, the Giants also picked up left-handed relief pitcher Jose Mijares on a waiver claim. The former Kansas City Royal has pitched well for the Giants. In five appearances, Mijares has thrown four innings and has yet to allow a run.
These three moves put the Giants in an excellent position for the stretch run. Now, with the loss of Cabrera, it will be up to Sabean to see if he can pull off a deal for an outfielder who can contribute in the final weeks of the season.
Potentially available players include Josh Willingham, Jason Bay, Alfonso Soriano, Corey Hart and Carlos Lee. Of these five, only Willingham and Hart really make sense for the Giants. Neither of these players will come cheap as the Twins and Brewers know they have Sabean over a barrel.
Willingham is signed through 2014 at $7 million per season. Financially, he would fit for the Giants. The only question is whether his creaky back would stay healthy for another two seasons. Willingham is currently hitting .261 with 30 home runs and 88 RBI. He will be 34-years-old in February.
A very good measure of Willingham's ability to hit in tough ballparks is in 2010, when he played for Oakland. He had 29 home runs and 98 RBI, playing half of his games in a very tough ballpark.
Corey Hart, I believe, would be the Giants' best option. He is under contract through 2013 for just over $10 million. Hart can play in the outfield or at first base, which would be valuable if Brandon Belt regresses.
Hart is currently hitting .265 with 22 home runs and 59 RBI. Both Hart and Willingham are right-handed pull hitters, which is good at AT&T Park. Hart would likely cost the Giants a couple of very good prospects, so he won't come cheap for Sabean.
If Sabean is unable to make a move to acquire anyone from outside the organization, the Giants are stuck with their usual suspects of Brett Pill or Justin Christian. Neither of them inspires much enthusiasm, although if Pill can get hot, he does have the power to make a difference.
Xavier Nady, who the Giants claimed off waivers, is currently playing at their Triple-A affiliate in Fresno. However, he has been woefully unimpressive with the bat. Nady is hitting below .200 at this point.
The other potential option is Roger Kieschnick, who is hitting .319 with 14 home runs and 27 RBI, in 204 at-bats. It would be asking a lot for a rookie to come in and be a major contributor, and I see Kieschnick as more of a September call-up.
The loss of Cabrera, who was also a fine defensive player, is a hole that will be very hard to fill for the Giants. How they do it will play a big role in whether or not this team can make the postseason.