San Francisco Giants: 7 Realistic Moves Team Should Consider
Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on winning their second World Series championship in three years. The Giants celebrated with a fun-filled parade, with roughly one million fans joining in the jubilation.
There was, as expected, sheer adulation from the fans towards the players, but also from the players back to the fans. The Giants deserved it, and so did their adoring fans.
With the World Series trophy back in San Francisco, the Giants are well-positioned to contend again in 2013. The entire starting pitching staff will return, as will most of the core relievers. The offensive nucleus of the team is young and should be good for years to come.
As the orange and black confetti has now settled and is being brushed away, the Giants' management will soon begin looking ahead to the 2013 season. GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy will look at the roster and make some decisions on how to put the Giants in the best position to win it again in 2013.
The Giants went into 2012 with a salary commitment of roughly $131 million. That was the highest level in the history of the franchise.
As we look forward to next year, a big question will be what budgetary level the Giants' management group will give Sabean to work with. The Giants will save approximately $35 million with players, such as Melky Cabrera, Freddy Sanchez, Aubrey Huff, Guillermo Mota, Aaron Rowand and Mike Fontenot, all of whom will be off the books in 2013.
Out of that $35 million in savings comes about $15 million in guaranteed salary increases to players like Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Pablo Sandoval, in 2013. This leaves an additional $20 million for Sabean to work with before he reaches the Giants' 2012 financial commitment. I also expect some increase beyond the $131 million as we look forward to the upcoming season.
Let's take a closer look at seven moves the Giants should consider as we look ahead to next season.
7) Sign Ryan Theriot
Is Ryan Theriot a good luck charm?
He played with the world champion St. Louis Cardinals in 2011 and here with the Giants in 2012. Theriot is a "glue-guy" type of player and although he lost his starting job when Marco Scutaro took over at second base, Theriot remained a team player and great in the clubhouse.
Theriot also was instrumental in the defensive development of Brandon Crawford, who struggled in the first half of the year. At one point this season, Crawford led all shortstops in errors committed. Theriot, the veteran, helped to calm Crawford and that helped him settle in and play his game.
On one particular play, a double play grounder to Theriot, he flipped the ball to Crawford, but at knee level. Crawford is his haste to turn two, missed the throw and the Giants got nobody out. Theriot's throw was not ideal, but the Giants should have gotten at least one out.
Crawford hung his head and was visibly upset with himself. Theriot, seeing this, pointed at his own chest, letting Crawford know that the mistake was on Theriot. Crawford still hung his head and Theriot immediately yelled over to Crawford and again vehemently pounded his own chest.
Theriot clearly insisted that the mistake was completely on him. Crawford nodded and I believe this type of leadership helped allow Crawford to settle in defensively. In the second half of the season, Crawford was arguably the best defensive shortstop in the league.
Theriot was also productive when he did get the opportunity to play. He hit .270, drove in 28 runs, scored 45 and stole 13 bases.
Even though he rarely played down the stretch run, Theriot stayed ready and came through to start the series winning rally in the tenth inning of the World Series. He eventually scored the winning run on a single by the Scutaro, the same man who replaced him in the lineup.
Theriot is a consummate professional and a valuable man to have around. The biggest question is whether he would be willing to stay in a utility role. If he's willing to stay, the Giants should keep him. His salary was only $1.25 million, so he shouldn't be very expensive to keep. It really is up to Theriot at this point.
6) Offer Brian Wilson Salary Arbitration
Brian Wilson pitched in two games in April of the 2012 campaign. Then, realizing that his arm was done, he underwent his second Tommy John surgery. Wilson is a workout fanatic and fully believes that he will be back in time to start the 2012 season.
In 2010, Wilson gave everything he had to help the Giants win their first ever World Series title in San Francisco. He battled arm trouble in 2011 and his arm had not recovered enough for him to pitch effectively this season.
Wilson made $8.5 million this year and 2013 will be his final arbitration year. He can become a free agent in 2014. Since the Giants have Wilson under their arbitration control, they should make him an offer and try to re-sign him to a one-year deal.
Wilson will most certainly earn no more than he did this year, so if the Giants can get him for that amount or less, I believe it would be a wise decision. You can never have too many quality arms and a one-year deal will allow the Giants to see how Wilson comes back from the surgery.
In 2010, Wilson's last full year, he led the league with 48 saves, while blowing only five. He had an ERA of 1.81 and WHIP of 1.179. In the postseason, Wilson was even better, as he threw 11.2 innings, saved six games and did not allow an earned run.
One year contracts do not destroy your salary structure, it's the long, multi-year deals for huge dollars that kill you. Even if the Giants are wrong on Wilson and he cannot return, they have only invested one years salary in him. I believe bringing Wilson back would be worth the risk for one season.
5) Sign Jeremy Affeldt
Jeremy Affeldt rebounded from a subpar year in 2010 and has pitched very well for the Giants over the past two seasons. His contract has expired and at the age of 33, you can't sign him to a deal that goes too far out into the future.
However, Affeldt has kept his arm in good shape and has appeared in an average of over 65 games for the Giants in the past four years. In 2012, Affeldt appeared in 67 games, throwing 63.1 innings, allowing 57 hits and compiling an ERA of 2.70. His WHIP was a solid 1.263.
Affeldt was also very strong in the postseason. He appeared in ten games and threw 10.1 innings without allowing a run.
Manager Bruce Bochy did a great job utilizing his three lefties, Affeldt, Javier Lopez and Jose Mijares. Affeldt was the most valuable as he threw the most innings and was effective against both left and right handed hitters. Lopez and Mijares were used much more as specialists to get left handed batters out.
In 2012, Affeldt made $5 million. I would be willing to give him $6.5 million for one year or $11.5 - $12 million for two. If Affeldt is offered more than that by another team, the Giants probably would opt to let him go, albeit grudgingly.
4) Go After Another Solid Middle Reliever
The San Francisco Giants have typically used a 12-man pitching staff, which means there are seven relievers. Five of those spots look to be covered with Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez, George Kontos and Jose Mijares.
Casilla and Mijares are also arbitration eligible, but look for the Giants to sign both of them to very reasonable contracts.
Most likely gone are Brad Penny, Clay Hensley and Guillermo Mota. The Giants also will give a look to Dan Otero, Dan Runzler, Yusmeiro Petit and Jean Machi. None of these names excites me.
Runzler is probably the closest to sticking, as he has excellent stuff and can be overpowering at times. However, he is prone to injury, can be extremely wild and inconsistent. I just do not feel the Giants can rely on him.
With the uncertainty surrounding Jeremy Affeldt and Brian Wilson, the Giants would be wise to find another useful arm out of the bullpen. In addition, injuries to pitchers happen, so you can never have too much pitching.
Some free agent relievers the Giants might take a look at include Matt Belisle, Chad Durbin, Jason Grilli or Jon Rauch. All would come with a reasonable price tag and provide some valuable depth to the bullpen.
3) Sign Angel Pagan
Angel Pagan had an excellent year for the Giants. He came to the Giants from the New York Mets, in a trade prior to the season. The Giants gave up the very popular Andres Torres and reliever Ramon Ramirez. Here again, we see another excellent deal by GM Brian Sabean.
Pagan rebounded from a mediocre season in 2011 to hit .288, with eight home runs, 56 RBI and 95 runs scored. Pagan also used his speed to steal 29 bases and led the league with 15 triples. The Giants' offense took off in August when manager Bruce Bochy moved Pagan to the leadoff spot.
After the suspension of Melky Cabrera, Pagan really stepped up his game. He became a fan favorite and has said on many occasions how he felt the love from the Giants fans. He also stayed healthy and played in a career-high 154 games.
After a shaky first half of the year defensively, Pagan also improved his play in center field. He made several highlight reel plays down the stretch for the Giants.
Pagan made slightly below $5 million this past year and was a bargain. At the age of 31, he probably has one chance for a really big payday. That time is now.
The Giants would dearly love to have Pagan back, but his price tag may be more than they're willing to pay. Speculation has Pagan receiving offers in excess of $10 million for four or five years. The Giants are not about to pay Pagan $55 - $60 million on a five year contract.
The Giants' top minor league prospect is center fielder Gary Brown. He is likely one year away from making it to the Majors. For this reason, and also because much of Pagan's game is reliant on his legs, I doubt the Giants would go anything above three years for him.
The one thing in the Giants' favor is that Pagan loved his time in San Francisco and bonded with his teammates and the fans. If the Giants can secure Pagan's services on a two year deal for $18 - $20 million, they should lock him up.
Unfortunately, I think he will get more. The maximum I think Sabean will entertain is something around 3 years and $28 - $30 million. My gut feel is that won't be enough and we will all be sad to see Pagan depart.
2) Sign Marco Scutaro
When the Giants acquired Marco Scutaro from the Colorado Rockies, I felt it was a solid move. Scutaro is a veteran infielder who was initially acquired to fill in for the injured Pable Sandoval.
Scutaro played so well, when Sandoval returned, Ryan Theriot was moved to the bench and Scutaro took his spot at second base. Scutaro is the ideal number-two hitter as he's willing to hit deep in counts and can hit the ball to all fields.
In 61 games with the Giants, Scutaro hit .362, with 3 home runs, 44 RBI and 40 runs scored. His OBP was .385 and OPS was .859, which is incredible considering the lack of home runs he hit.
While the Dodgers made huge, costly deals, Scutaro became known as "Blockbuster" for his contribution to the Giants.
Scutaro quickly became a fan favorite and was also highly respected by his teammates. His approach at the plate taught the Giants hitters a lot about how to hit and helped them understand how opposing pitchers were trying to get them out.
Scutaro's outstanding play continued into the postseason, as he was the MVP of the NLCS. Scutaro also got the hit that gave the Giants the go-ahead run in the tenth inning of Game 4.
In the postseason, Scutaro hit .328, with eight RBI and 11 runs scored. He also played solid defense and gave the Giants a huge emotional lift as he played through pain after being steam-rolled by Matt Holliday in the NLCS.
Scutaro just turned 37 years old and at his age is not likely to receive any huge, long-term offers. He made $6 million in 2012 and I would expect him to get a two-year contract for $16 million from the Giants. I fully expect him to be in a Giants uniform in 2013.
1) Go After Two Outfielders and Make Sure to Acquire at Least One
The San Francisco Giants will undoubtedly exercise their arbitration control of Hunter Pence and sign him for the 2013 season. Whether they sign him for beyond the upcoming year remains to be seen.
With Angel Pagan a free agent and Gregor Blanco ideally suited to be a fourth outfielder, the Giants will need to fill two starting positions for the upcoming season. If they're able to retain Pagan, then the task becomes much easier, but keeping Pagan is no certainty.
The Giants have expressed interest in Michael Bourn, the speedy outfielder from the Atlanta Braves. Bourn's numbers are incredibly similar to Pagan, as he hit .274 with nine home runs, 57 RBI and 96 runs scored. He also stole 42 bases.
Bourn will likely command money in the same range as Pagan. His agent is Scott Boras, who Giants' GM Brian Sabean really dislikes working with. This factor may ultimately be the reason the Giants do not sign Bourn.
Melky Cabrera is another possible option, but the Giants must be willing to forgive him for his PED suspension and for leaving the club without speaking to his teammates. In addition, Cabrera was found to have lied about a bogus website and fake product, claiming that he was duped.
Josh Hamilton is a big-hitter that many teams will covet. He will be extremely expensive and will likely be priced above what the Giants are willing to pay.
Some of the other outfielders the Giants may consider include Scott Hairston, Torii Hunter, Nick Swisher, B.J. Upton, Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes.
With the Right Moves We Could See Another Parade in San Francisco
The San Francisco Giants have one of the best organizations in all of baseball. Team president Larry Baer, GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy run the operation, based on the budget allocated to them by the Giants' ownership group.
I expect the Giants to increase their payroll for 2013, as it will be expensive to retain their own free agents and also acquire two or three additional pieces to bolster the roster.
One thing is clear, the chemistry will never be the same, as every year there are new faces. 2012 was a magical year, but very different than 2010. Each team needs to find their own identity and the 2013 team will need to find theirs, also.
The Giants overcame so many obstacles this year and each hurdle only served to make them stronger and gave them more resolve. The Giants played the best when it mattered the most and they deserved the World Series title. Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants; winning never gets old.