Let me write two things on the blackboard before class starts. That way we might avoid the inevitable grumbling, spitwad throwing, and angry mob forming so often associated with Giant fans whenever a San Francisco player is criticized.*
First, newly signed and former San Francisco Giants outfielder Andres Torres is known as a dedicated athlete, a wonderful teammate and is apparently just a really nice guy. Second, Gregor Blanco is an excellent defensive outfielder who made a number of outstanding plays during the 2012 season and playoffs. And I'll stipulate that he's also a nice guy.
Now, back to the reality of scoring runs, winning baseball games, and getting to the 2013 post season.
San Francisco just signed the soon-to-be 35 year-old Torres to a one year $2m deal to either, a) split left field with Blanco in 2013; or, b) be the 4th outfielder for this team. In doing so, the Giants front office just threw a large bucket of cold water on their offense. And it's old, previously used cold water.
For the record, the Giants cut Torres loose after the 2011 season, when he hit .221 with a .312 OBP in 112 games. He ended up with the Mets in 2012, quickly losing his starting job in center field and ending up with a .230 BA and a .327 OBP in 132 games.
Although he hit .286 from the right side of the plate, Torres will soon be on the wrong side of 35 and his weak arm and lack of power make him a poor candidate for the 4th outfield spot.
The troubling thing here is that for the first time in a decade the Giants have actually been assembling a legitimate offense, one that doesn't have to depend on the team's outstanding pitching to win ball games. The re-signing of free agents Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro, and the impending arbitration settlement with Hunter Pence, are all signals that the 2012 World Championship team's potent offense was being kept intact.
The single missing piece in the everyday line-up is a run-producing left fielder who can patch the gap between the 1-5 hitters and the 7 & 8 spots in the batting order. And neither Gregor Blanco and/or Andres Torres is that guy. (And when Brandon Belt hit 6th last year, the 7th/8th/9th spots became an offensive black hole.)
I noted before that free agent Nick Swisher was the perfect prototype. Last season with the Yankees Swisher had 60 XBH, 93 RBI, a .364 OBP. a .837 OPS, and was a hustling fielder who made only 3 errors in 107 outfield starts.
Swisher's $10m+ pricetag was apparently too much for Giants GM Brian Sabean after re-signing Pagan, Scutaro, and Jeremy Affeldt for a combined $78m (with additional paydays pending for a number of arbitration-eligible players).
Despite San Francisco's emergence in the past three years as a big market, big payroll team, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest they might know best when it comes to spending their own money. (Fans and writer/bloggers often view their favorite team's payroll ceiling as being located just beyond the international space station.)
Having said that, the news that the Giants apparently offered Ichiro Suzuki a 2 year $15 million deal seems to indicate additional resources are available in the vault at 3rd and King Streets. Suzuki ended up re-signing with the Yankees for $13 million over two years but he would have added a fascinating piece to the Giants' 2013 puzzle.
The best alternative to signing an everyday starter in left field is not an Andres Torres/Gregor Blanco platoon. There was a great missed opportunity to bring up a promising young bat from the Giants' farm system: outfielder Francisco Peguero.
Peguero is a right-handed 24 year-old extra-base hitter who has speed and center field abilities. A Peguero/Blanco platoon in left would have allowed the team to give Peguero enough big league at-bats to justify bringing him up. The potential payoff could be discovering that run-producer missing from the 2012 line-up (with little impact on the payroll).
I know the argument against this: the San Francisco Giants are a serious organization that has won the World Series two of the last three years and will likely be perennial post-season participants for years to come. They would rather go with veteran experience in left rather than experiment with an untested young player like Peguero.
The counters to that are that, 1) reliance on veteran players in key roles is a costly model that has not worked out well for the Giants organization the past ten years; and, 2) Brian Sabean has been known to be overly cautious in bringing minor league position players up to the big team. The delay in promoting Buster Posey at the start of the 2010 season is an example of the organization not recognizing when a player is ready to move up.
Despite that, San Francisco has been on a roll producing valuable home-grown position players like Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Belt, and Brandon Crawford. Let's hope Francisco Peguero's 2013 spring training makes it impossible for the Giants to send him back to Fresno.
*When John Bowker (lifetime .232 BA) was traded to Pittsburgh in 2010, and Nate Schierholtz (lifetime .727 OPS) was sent to Philadelphia in 2012, each time local sportstalk radio callers were frantic-- you would have thought the world ended and the Giants front office foolishly traded away quality hitters.
I think they will stay with Belt. Belt is also a left handed bat who hit 275 last year with 7 homer and 56 rbi's. Smoak may have hit 19 homers but only had 51 rbi's and hit a low 217. I think the team you see is pretty much the team of 2013 with two possible open roster spots both utility players for the bench. Possibly Peguero, Theriot, Gillaspie or Pill.
I heard from a baseball source that The SF Giants would like to acquire Seattle Mariners 1st Baseman Justin Smoak. The reason why is that Smoak is a lefthanded power hitter that hit line drive hits at AT&T Park. If We get Smoak he can be a good bat to have behind Hunter Pence.
Torres looks to be a good fit because he fits into the Bochy Ball strategy: he plays multiple positions so he can be part of a double switch; he is good on defense; he has speed; he knows how to steal a base and has good base running instincts; he is a selfless player; and he can hit in the gap. According to the records he was actually traded to the Mets as part of the Pagan trade not cut. With Pence, Pagan, Blanco and Torres in the outfield they still have room for Peguero on the 25 man roster and he too fits into the Bochy Ball mold. I see Peguero as their one minor league experiment for 2013. Which means what happens to Gillaspie nd does he end up like Cody Ransom? Panik seems to be the second base man of the future.
Both Bowker and Schierholtz had talent but were one dimensional in that they played one position (despite the first base attempts by Bowker he still was pretty much an outfielder) but neither could hit off speed pitching. Where are they now? Eventually, when you fish you have to cut bait. The one guy they should have invested in and kept was Cody Ross.
The Torres signing gives SF the flexibility to make a huge move at the trade deadline this year if need be. If they signed Hamilton or Swisher (who is not a good outfielder) and they bust there is a lot less financial flexibility to improve.
Also, Torres was still a 1.7 WAR player in 2012 in 434 PAs. Blanco had a 2.4 WAR in 453 PAs. Given 650 PAs between the two of them it's likely they'd be in the vicinity of a combined 2.5-3.0 WAR. Not bad for less than $3MM.
I agree that The signing of Andres Torres didn't help the horrible Giants offense. I think that this team needs a slugger who can protect Hunter Pence. I understand that The Oakland A's will make Outfielder Coco Crisp available. Coco Crisp would be a solid guy for The Giants, he hits alot of base hits and can swing a mean bat. When Coco Crisp plays a full season he can hit 15-20 homers and drive in over 80 Rbis.
With all due respect to the Giants Cove Guru, the December 17 blog was more like fingernails scratching on the blackboard. Arrgghh. So let’s look at the facts and put 2011 aside (when the Giants did not win the pennant, clogging brain cells for those who can’t move on).
Andres Torrres. I guess a nice guy. Gregor Blanco, WS and PG hero, a nice guy as well. But beside the point. For 2013, the Giants need to keep focus on what succeeded in 2012 and flush down the sour grapes of 2011 with the rest of the %#*&.
First, Torres. The statistics that Guru quotes are meaningless and omit the really important ones. Yes, he’ll be 35, and it is for one year – perfect; a guy who realizes his place (not a starter) and has to produce to get another contract. Torres is clearly slated to relieve Blanco in LF 30% of the time against lefties. Guru quotes the .2012 .286 vs. lefties, but omits the 2012 .382 OBP (a figure Swishie has never met, to be discussed below), and the .429 at ATT. Triples: see below.
Second, Blanco: Why not? Close to .300 in last month, but granted, a work in progress, who progressed significantly in post-season. Forget the stats, weren’t you watching in October?
Third, Swishie, the object of a major Guru man-crush: Not signed yet, but will get upward of $12-13M. Hasn’t hit 30 since Oakland, and has little power (5 HR’s in 2012) from the right side, about the same as Torres. Never really played left. And triples (remember, Guru, the proverbial alley, where Torres hit 8 in 2010 and 7 in 2012?): none last year, 1 per year for career. A classic overswinger, always going for the fences, no finesse. An average of 150 K’s per over his career. This is not an ATT prototype, unless the fences are coming in. In the clubhouse? The flake/cut-up approach is growing real old. Granted, Yanks such as ARod, Tex, and DJ, for whom Swishie’s antics became cumbersome, are old curmudgeons of the third degree, but do 2-time champs really need such a distraction? What, Buster needs a whoopee cushion from Swishie every day to get loose for the game? Let’s leave the zany-fest to Brother Pence, and avoid battling egos.
Peguero?: Where’s he going? He’ll be there if we need him.
Bottom line: ATT prescribes certain types of players. Speed, defense, quick bat to all fields (alleys preferred), workman-like attitude, equally comfortable in 2 or 7 hole. Giant’s win (won) on pitching, defense, team approach to hitting. The Blanco/Torres combo fits the bill for less than $2M. If Baer wants to drop an extra $10M, I’d prefer a $.50/beer price drop. Let Dodgers/Angels throw money at overpriced prima-donnas.
@hopsing Your comment is not based on reality. The Giants were/are solid in offense. Between the MVP Posey, the 3 bagger Pagan and the never ending hit machine that is scutaro, the Giants have more offense now than they had in the last 10 years combined. The giants needed a 4th maybe 5th outfielder, and they know torres and what he is capable of. He is obviously here to relieve blanco on vs LHP days. Blanco will be a great outfielder for the Giants, but he needs at least this next season to bloom into the starter he will be. a 1 -year torres deal makes a lot of sense. His "stats" were worse when he came in 2010, although i do realize that now that the giants are winning we have to deal with fake ass front runner fans like you.
@AlexanderMaunu @hopsing Wow, how stupid are you? Did you even bother to read his comment? You say that his comment is not based in reality, and then go on to argue the EXACT SAME POINT that the 1 year Torres deal makes sense. The only differnece is that hopsing uses facts and stats to back his arguemnt up (i.e. numbers that exist in realitiy) while you use nothing except your opinion.
Also I personally know hopsing, I have been going to games with him since I was a child, and I'm sure he was going with my dad before I was even born. If anyone is a fake ass front runner fan it would be your sorry ass... More offense than they have had in the last 10 years combined? Shows how long you have been paying attention, try 2004 when the Giants scored 850 runs compared to the 718 they scored this year...
To Alexander Maunu, Andres Torres is a scrub, not a good player.The Giants won the World Series last year and you definitely sign Nick Swisher. Swisher is a power hitter and brings a nice chemistry to this team. Acuiring Andres Torres, Javier Herrera, Colin Gillespie doesn't help you. The Giants need a power hitter in their line-up. No 5th and 6th Outielders.
@AlexanderMaunu @WillTheThrill86 @hopsing These are not the Giants of yesteryear. These guys play Bochy Ball, the one run, great pitching, great defense, run the bases, bull pen strategy. No one wins the world series every year except the Yankees of old when they were in fact two teams, the one in NY and the city wherever the A's were located who they dumped their old guys on and took the young ones from the A's, going back to when they got Home Run Baker from Connie Mack. 2004 was not a bad year but we no longer rely on big boppers but on guys like Torres, Blanco and Peguero. Statistics only matter when you are reading Who's Who in Baseball and waiting for something to do. In reality it is who has the best Team where the pieces fit together to fit the circumstances. Come on, even in 2011 we were in first place until we had a horrible August despite losing Sandoval in April, Posey in May and Freddi Sanchez in June and still finished with a good record. The probelm was the DBacks had a GREAT August and September.
@WillTheThrill86 @hopsing You admitting you know the moron shows your bias, which even further drives your argument, if you had one, into the ground. 2004, tell me was that offense so good they won the world series? The only measure of success in baseball is winning. Numbers don't mean anything, so keep standing by them while everyone else laughs at your ignorance.
@AlexanderMaunu AM, you obviously can't read. I was saying exactly what you are - that Torres is a good 4th outfielder, and that "a 1-year Torres deal makes a lot of sense" (your quote). Try to think. As for the "fake ass front runner", I first went to Candlestick in 1971, was there in 1989, and a season ticket holder for many years. Front runner this.
@hopsing @AlexanderMaunu Yes because runs scored is the only way of determining offense. I read your article and stand by everything said, your obvious flaming session proves what i said. "whah whah i was there in this year and that year..." means nothing. The offense in the last few years, aka why they have actually been in playoffs and winning is better. Runs scored in no way means better offense. Tacking on unnecessary runs and still losing and not making playoffs doesn't make your offense better. Stick by your meaningless numbers like so many other retarded blog flamers. Keep telling people how you went to games 30 years ago, when nobody except the broadcaster is even still apart of the organization. You live in the meaningless past and rage at anyone who disagrees with you. And i stand by my words again, it sucks for real fans to have to deal with the morons that success brings.... thats you.