San Francisco Giants: 5 Offseason Ideas to Overhaul Giants' 2012 Chances
The San Francisco Giants set out in April 2011 as favorites to win the NL West, and on a quest to win a repeat world title. Now that it is September and the defending champs have essentially played themselves out of contention, it is time to look ahead to see what can be done in the offseason to try again in 2012.
An unfortunate series of injuries has finally taken its toll on San Francisco, who has not been able to keep up with the pace of the red–hot Arizona Diamondbacks. This fate turns the focus away from the daunting task of making a miraculous comeback, to a number of looming questions that the team will face in the offseason.
Key players Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez will be back on the field, and the pitching staff will remain to be one of the best in baseball. This offseason is the time for San Francisco to capitalize on a window of opportunity.
Here are five targets that would put San Francisco over the top in 2012.
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When San Francisco parted with their top pitching prospect to acquire Carlos Beltran, they expected that he would secure their chances for the 2011 postseason. Beltran got off to a slow start, but is now hitting .318.
Beltran sustained a wrist injury that put him on the shelf for a short stint on the DL, and consequently the Giants' postseason chances slipped out of reach.
However, he could certainly fit in well to a healthy Giants lineup in 2012, batting somewhere in between Freddy Sanchez, Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey. If the Giants re-sign Jeff Keppinger as well, they will have created a very solid core of the order.
Beltran’s contract will be pricey, but it may be within San Francisco’s reach. They will have to weigh the risks of spending on an injury-prone 34-year-old when their money must be locked down elsewhere in coming years.
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His versatility in the outfield defensively is of value to San Francisco. The club will likely be parting ways with Cody Ross and Pat Burrell as their contracts end in 2011 as unsuccessful campaigns to find the magic that made them heroes in 2010.
Cuddyer is batting .282 with 18 HRs and a .347 OBP. Those numbers put into San Francisco’s lineup today would automatically give him the fourth-highest average, and tie him with Pablo Sandoval as the team’s home run leader.
San Francisco could use his power in their lineup. He would complement the defensive skills of Andres Torres and Nate Schierholtz (or possibly Carlos Beltran) in the outfield well with some offensive pop.
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Jose Reyes was one of the hottest names floating around at the trade deadline, but he didn’t go anywhere. However it is highly unlikely that Reyes will remain a Met in 2012 due to financial circumstances.
There are certainly very attractive aspects to obtaining Reyes, especially for San Francisco. 2011 has shown that the team desperately needs speed in addition to a bat. They have a gaping hole at the critical position of shortstop. Nobody has taken over this role successfully; it is currently filled by range-less veteran Orlando Cabrera.
The investment would surely make San Francisco a completely different team in 2012. The lineup will already be improved with the return of Sanchez and Posey to complement Sandoval. The addition of Reyes would certainly put this offense over the top, and simultaneously improve the defense.
The addition of a superstar like Reyes will call for a superstar contract. While the 27-year-old’s value has decreased due to injuries that further proved the risk of his inability to stay healthy, he will still command a hefty asking price.
Reyes would undoubtedly be an invaluable asset to this team. However, the price would leave little margin for error, as San Francisco needs to lock down some cash for the contracts of their most valuable pitchers, which are up within the next two years.
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The Giants appeared to be interested in B.J. Upton before the trade deadline. The Rays center fielder is batting just .233, but has hit 19 HRs, showing off some power that San Francisco would welcome into their weak lineup.
Interest in Upton at the deadline ultimately fizzled due to the fact that he certainly would not have been the player to rescue the Giants from their offensive problems and carry the team in 2011.
However, Andres Torres' contract is up at the end of the season and Upton would be a definite upgrade. While Torres was a major contributor in the Giants' championship season, he has been unable to stay healthy and duplicate those numbers this year.
Upton has the speed that the Giants value in Torres, as well has some right-handed power that the Giants are lacking. He is also just 26 years old, and for a defensive improvement that adds some pop into the lineup he would come at a relatively cheap price.
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While San Francisco’s greatest pitfall remains their offense, they will have to seriously consider targeting starting pitching help this winter. Both Jonathan Sanchez and Barry Zito have been disastrous in 2011. Neither has been able to remain effective or healthy.
Sanchez’ contract is up at the end of the season. It is unlikely that the Giants will sign the shaky lefty, or count on Zito as the fifth man in their rotation. Eric Surkamp was called up from Double-A Richmond and has been filling the role for the time being, but the front office may be interested in another option.
Wandy Rodriguez is 10-10 with a 3.47 ERA for the Houston Astros this season, which isn’t terrible considering he is playing for the worst team in baseball. Joining one of the best young pitching rotations in the league in a pitcher's paradise at AT&T Park could actually make him a very valuable No. 5 starting pitcher.
Houston is likely to part with Rodriguez as they continue to rebuild, and the Giants have the assets to acquire him. Rodriguez' 6-0 shutout of San Francisco a few weeks ago may have impressed the front office. However, it also may have diminished possibilities of this trade, highlighting the Giants' terrible offense.
While the starting pitching has not faltered down the stretch, San Francisco could benefit from solidifying the staff for 2012.