The San Francisco Giants came into this offseason knowing that their roster wasn’t good enough to compete with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West as well as the top teams in the National League, so they knew they would have to make moves. The first thing they needed to do was go after starting pitching because they only had two starters under contract. Also, that was something that fell off significantly as opposed to the last 3 years where they won 2 championships. The second thing that needed to be done was add a quality left fielder and a guy who would allow Gregor Blanco to be who he is, a fourth outfielder.
Adding pitchers is done according to Giants General Manager Brian Sabean. The Giants re-signed Tim Lincecum to a fairly hefty price tag considering the overall numbers he posted the last two seasons, but the Giants believe that he will improve upon those numbers now that he knows how to pitch without a great fastball. The Giants also added Tim Hudson, which was a very good signing. He’s durable and will give you around 200 innings and win anywhere from 12-15 games. He also provides veteran leadership in the clubhouse and will have a positive influence on all the Giants pitchers, especially Lincecum. The last piece of the pitching puzzle is a familiar face, Ryan Vogelsong. The Giants previously declined Vogelsong’s player option, with every intent of re-signing him for less money. It worked, as the Giants brought Vogelsong back for less money.
Even though the Giants have 5 starters there’s still questions about how well this rotation will be considering the rotation the Dodgers and some other teams in the National League have. The Giants are expecting that Lincecum will get his ERA down to around 3.5, which he is more than capable of. They also believe Hudson will be what his track record says, a guy who will have a sub 4 ERA and pitch 200 inning. Finally they are expecting that Vogelsong’s terrible season last year was a fluke and was a product of playing in last years’ World Baseball Classic. If everything goes as planned for the Giants in their rotation, then they will be competitive in the NL West and the rest of the National League as well. However, if things don’t go according too plan, it might force Sabean to make moves.
The weakest part of the Giants team last season was left field. The platoon of Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres didn’t work as planned. Giants fans have been clamoring all offseason for a new left fielder, as they should. Sabean and the Giants aren’t willing to pay the hefty price tags for Shin-Shoo Choo, Carlos Beltran or Jacoby Ellsbury.
It’s unknown whether the Giants are going to get a new left fielder or stick with Blanco and a platoon player. The question should be answered sooner rather than later as the Giants head to the winter meetings this weekend. Sabean has stated that he’s not expecting to make a big splash this offseason as far as left field goes.
Another interesting dilemma that’s been brought up a little is that the Giants would be willing to trade third baseman Pablo Sandoval if the offers’ right. It’s nothing new that the Giants have been fed up with Sandoval showing up out of shape and how injury prone he is. Sandoval could be the answer to the left field question. The Giants, if they choose too, could include Sandoval in a deal to get a left fielder and maybe a couple other players as well. The only problem with that would be finding someone to play third base to replace Sandoval, but if the Giants get to that point then they could easily explore their options.
The Giants have had an under the radar quiet type of offseason thus far. This is something that they have done in the past, as witnessed by the past two seasons they won the World Series Championship. They made little moves that weren’t flashy, but worked for the Giants on those occasions. However, it remains to be seen if that strategy will continue to work. The Giants certainly aren’t done this offseason and could easily add a couple new pieces to their team before the season starts.