San Francisco Giants: Gregor Blanco and Potential Outfield Solutions
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Even though the Marco Scutaro decision is currently stealing all the headlines, there is another key aspect of the team the San Francisco Giants have to address at these winter meetings: the outfield and Gregor Blanco.
Every position appears to be filled except for Gregor Blanco's left field opening. Since the Giants decided not to re-sign Melky Cabrera, and rightfully so, it has left a void in left field that was filled throughout the season by Blanco.
Blanco had a very good regular season filling in for Melky, stealing bases and playing great defense on his way to a 2.0 WAR season, according to Baseball Reference. While his hitting is still a large question mark, his ability to run the bases and defend should remain strong in 2013.
However, even though Blanco had a very strong postseason highlighted by big hits/bunts and great defense, the Giants aren't sure if he is a strong season-long option there.
Bring in an extra outfielder
With the extra money the Giants have brought in from the postseason, they can afford to spend a little more money on contracts. By contracts, I mean an outfielder who will be able to play every day.
Nick Swisher and Ryan Ludwick are players that immediately come to mind. This would push Blanco into a role that would suit him well: fourth outfielder who can come in for defense and pinch-running.
Swisher and Ludwick are below-average to average defensively, but their power would fit in very nicely in the Giants lineup.
Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 4, 2012Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Bring in platoon outfielder
The Giants would like to sign a low-cost player like a Ben Francisco or a Scott Hairston who can platoon with Blanco in left. Francisco hits better against lefties, but he does own much better power than Blanco, hitting 30 homers between 2008 and 2009.
Hairston also owns an .825 OPS against righties, so that seems to be an attractive option.
This assumes that Scutaro is signed and there are fewer holes to fill in a lineup that owns a bunch of high-OBP, contact hitters. With hitters such as Angel Pagan, Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence on board there is less incentive for the Giants to pony up the cash to sign a bigger free agent.
The Giants could also sign Swisher or someone like Adam LaRoche to play first base while starting Brandon Belt in left field, but that seems rather unlikely given Belt's late-season success.
Start Blanco full season
It doesn't appear that the Giants are looking forward to giving Blanco the full-time job as he failed to hit and make contact for long stretches midseason. However, if they think he will be able to provide enough offense to back up his excellent glove, they may do so.
This sides with the line of thinking given to Brandon Crawford, who doesn't hit well but handles his position very well. However, shortstop is a much tougher defensive position to play than left field.
If the front office does do this, they are also banking on Gary Brown to have a good fall league and beginning of the minor league season so they can promote the once highly touted outfield prospect.
That would be the best-case scenario because the Giants would much rather have Gary Brown play up to his potential rather than handing Swisher/Ludwick a big contract or platooning Blanco.
There aren't many great immediate options, but Giants fans will have to trust Brian Sabean. That's Executive of the Year Brian Sabean to you.
Brian Sabean is Baseball America's Executive of the Year. I was asked to write the story. Should be on baseballamerica.com soon.— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) December 4, 2012
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