Grading the San Francisco Giants' Moves so Far This Offseason
The San Francisco Giants have been one of the most active teams since the 2013 season ended. GM Brian Sabean has aggressively moved to restock the Giants roster, bringing back several familiar faces and adding two new free agents.
The Giants finished this past season in third place in the NL West, with a 76-86 mark. Sabean and the Giants are hoping to recapture the glory of their 2010 and 2012 World Series titles. Fortifying their roster is the first step towards that goal.
In addition, with the Los Angeles Dodgers spending freely with their endless vault of money, the Giants needed an upgrade in talent and have increased their spending. Failing to improve the roster would have likely doomed the Giants to another dismal finish in the NL West.
Let's take a closer look at the moves the Giants have made, both the additions and the players they have decided to let go. Grades will also be provided.
The San Francisco Giants have made several changes to their 40-man roster since the end of the 2013 season. Gone are seven players: Barry Zito, Andres Torres, Jose Mijares, Francisco Peguero, Chad Gaudin, Sandy Rosario and Johnny Monell.
In the case of five of the players, the departures made perfect sense because the player performed well below expectations or other players had passed them by.
The Giants paid Zito $7 million to move on, as opposed to exercising his option and paying him an additional $18 million.
Zito left on a positive note, showing his appreciation for the fans of San Francisco. Although Giants fans were not enamored with Zito's performance, they did come to appreciate his professionalism and effort.
Veterans Torres and Mijares were not offered new deals once their contracts had expired. Torres and Mijares were big disappointments this past year.
Rosario and Monell were also released, but not because of poor performance. They were passed by other players.
In the case of Rosario, Jean Machi, Heath Hembree and Jake Dunning all passed him and the Giants also have several good young pitching prospects developing.
Monell had a very good year with the Giants' Triple-A affiliate in Fresno. He hit .275 with 20 home runs and 64 RBI, which earned him a September call-up.
Monell will be 28 years of age in March and the clock was ticking on him as a prospect. The Giants really like Andrew Susac as a young catcher and Susac is four years younger than Monell. With Buster Posey and Hector Sanchez locked in at the Major League level, Monell just got caught in the numbers game.
The surprising departures were Peguero and Gaudin. Peguero has played eight seasons in the Giants organization and is still only 25 years of age. He is a career .306 hitter in the minors and has some big league experience over the past two seasons.
Peguero, Roger Kieschnick and Juan Perez all got the opportunity to play in San Francisco last year. Perez showed some very good flashes and will likely be the Giants' fifth outfielder in 2014.
Neither Peguero nor Kieschnick distinguished themselves, but it appeared that Peguero had the higher upside. If a decision had to be made, it was a bit of a surprise that Peguero was released and not Kieschnick. Peguero has since signed with the Baltimore Orioles.
The other surprise departure is Gaudin. For the first four months of the 2013 season, Gaudin was one of the Giants' most reliable pitchers. he excelled in relief and also did very well as a spot starter.
In 97 innings of work, Gaudin allowed 81 hits and 40 walks while striking out 88. He complied a 5-2 record, along with an ERA of 3.06 and WHIP of 1.247.
Gaudin is embroiled in a legal issue stemming from an incident in Las Vegas that may have caused the Giants to cut ties with him. The departure of Gaudin likely means that Yusmeiro Petit will inherit the long reliever and spot-starter jobs.
Departures Grade: B+
Following the 2013 season, Hunter Pence was set to hit the free-agent market. However, his heart was in San Francisco and when he and Giants' GM Brian Sabean were able to come to an agreement, Pence gladly signed without testing the open market.
Pence signed for five years and $90 million, which is a lot, but he may have received more on the open market. The market for top outfielders included Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and Curtis Granderson.
After these outfielders, there was a significant drop off. Heading into October, the Giants were in need of two starting outfielders and Sabean did not want to risk losing Pence to a higher bidder.
Pence had an excellent year for the Giants, batting .283 with 27 home runs, 99 RBI, 91 runs scored and 22 stolen bases. He led the Giants in home runs, RBI, runs and stolen bases.
Pence also played a very good right field and was a fan favorite with his constant hustle, passion for the game and work ethic. Pence earned his money by also playing in all 162 games for the Giants in 2013.
It's possible the Giants may have overpaid slightly for Pence or given him an extra year, but the alternatives if they lost him were not nearly as attractive.
Pence wanted to be a Giant and the Giants wanted him, so this is a good deal for both parties.
Hunter Pence Grade: A
After two Cy Young awards and four consecutive All-Star selections, the past two seasons have been very tough on Tim Lincecum.
Lincecum's velocity is down and he needs better command to consistently get opposing hitters out. Lincecum has to learn how to pitch and keep hitters off balance.
In 2013, Lincecum threw 197.2 innings, allowed 184 hits and 76 walks. The walks were far too high and often got Lincecum into trouble. He finished the year with an ERA of 4.37 and a WHIP of 1.315.
Lincecum still has good stuff as his 193 strikeouts prove. In addition, Lincecum electrified the Giants with a no-hitter this past season.
Lincecum is a treasured player for the Giants and their fans. He grew up in the Giants organization and has been instrumental in the Giants' two World Series titles.
From a marketing standpoint, there are more No. 55 jerseys at AT&T Park than any other number. As a goodwill gesture, it's understandable why the Giants would overpay for Lincecum's services. Although it may be understandable, the question remains if it was prudent.
The Giants' offer of $35 million over two years seemed excessive. Lincecum is a third starter at best and probably a fourth. Other starting pitchers with some track record of success, such as Ricky Nolasco, Scott Kazmir, Dan Haren, Scott Feldman and Hiroki Kuroda, all received less.
If Lincecum returns to top form, the contract details will be forgotten. However, if he struggles again this coming season, Giants GM Brian Sabean will rue the day he offered Lincecum such a lucrative deal.
Tim Lincecum Grade: B
If the Giants are serious about contending in the NL West, it was essential for them to sign Javier Lopez. He is one of the best left-handed relief specialist in the game.
Lopez is coming off a stellar year. In 69 appearances, Lopez threw 39.1 innings, allowed 37 hits and 12 walks while striking out 37. His 1.83 ERA and 1.068 WHIP are outstanding.
Lopez will typically come in with the game on the line to face the opponents' top left-handed batter. He knows his role and excels at it.
Opposing left-handed batters hit only .156 off Lopez and he allowed only six of 57 inherited runners to score.
Lopez signed a three-year deal worth $13 million. This is a steal compared with fellow Giants left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt, who agreed to a three-year, $18 million contract only a year earlier.
Lopez has been far more consistent than Affeldt, who struggled with injuries for much of the 2013 campaign.
Javier Lopez Grade: A
The Giants were intent on rebuilding the their pitching staff. When they had their greatest success in 2010 and 2012, it was the pitching that led the way.
In 2013, the Giants pitching slipped and the result was a record that was 10 games below .500.
GM Brian Sabean's biggest signing from outside the Giants organization was Tim Hudson. Although 38 years of age, Hudson keeps himself in good shape and relies on location, movement and savvy to get opposing hitters out, as opposed to velocity.
Hudson's 2013 season was cut short due to a severe ankle injury incurred while trying to cover first base. Prior to the injury, Hudson had started 21 games and compiled a record of 8-7.
In 131.1 innings of work, Hudson allowed 120 hits and 36 walks while striking out 95. His ERA was a respectable 3.97 and he had a good WHIP ratio of 1.188.
Hudson should benefit from pitching in the spacious AT&T Park. He should have a couple good years left, as long as he can stay healthy.
Hudson signed a two-year deal for $23 million. He will likely be the Giants' third starter behind Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain.
Hudson's veteran presence will also help the younger pitchers. He should be a great fit in San Francisco.
Tim Hudson Grade: A
The Giants declined the 2014 option on starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong. Instead of completing a $6.5 million dollar deal, Vogelsong became a free agent and tested the waters.
Vogelsong ultimately signed with the Giants for $5 million. He will likely start the season in the fifth spot in the rotation.
After returning over a month early to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, Vogelsong started the season very poorly then was injured. He returned and was a little better, but 2013 was a lost year for Vogelsong.
In 103.2 innings of work, Vogelsong allowed 124 hits and 38 walks while striking out 67. His 5.73 ERA and 1.563 were also too high.
At the age of 36, there are questions as to whether Vogelsong has anything left. A full winter of rest should help Vogelsong as he prepares for the 2014 season.
The Giants are hoping Vogelsong can return to his 2011 form when he had a career-best ERA of 2.71. If he can, this becomes an excellent deal for the Giants.
Ryan Vogelsong Grade: A-
The most recent move the Giants completed was signing free agent Michael Morse to a one-year, $6 million deal. Morse will start in left field and do some platooning with Gregor Blanco.
Over the past two seasons, Morse has battled injuries. He played in only 88 games last year, beginning the year in Seattle and moving to Baltimore in the middle of the season.
In 2013, Morse hit only .215, with an OBP of .270 and OPS of .651. In 312 at-bats, Morse hit 13 home runs and drove in 27 runs.
The Giants are hoping Morse returns to his 2011 form, when he hit 31 home runs and drove in 95 runs. That year, Morse had a batting average of .303, with an OBP of .360 and OPS of .910.
If Morse can come anywhere near those 2011 numbers, the Giants will have a steal. If he continues to flounder, as he has these past two years, the risk is minimal, as Morse is signed only for 2014.
This is the type of deal that has plenty of upside for both Morse and the Giants.
Given the list of available outfielders at a reasonable price, Giants GM Brian Sabean made an excellent deal with Morse.
Michael Morse Grade: A