This is the week that the San Francisco Giants were eliminated from the 2013 race for the National League West title. Soon they will also be eliminated from the NL Wild Card chase-- both the Giants and the New York Mets were recently 17 games out in the NL Wild Card standings.
Hangin' out with the Mr. Met mascot. That's the kind of company the 2012 World Champions are keeping these days.
So we're officially free to start seriously considering San Francisco's 2014 MLB season which kicks off in six months and three weeks-- on Monday March 31, 2014 in Arizona.
And there is every reason to believe the Giants can regroup and come back next year with a strong, contending team.
But before we dive into the good news about this team's future, there is one very large elephant that needs to be put on the table (followed by repeatedly pounding the table with our fists). Only then we can freely get into what this team needs to do, and speculation about what they will do.
The 2013 San Francisco Giants are 66-80, 20 games out of first place in the NL West. Their offense is 26th out of 30 MLB teams in runs scored with 556. To contrast, the Boston Red Sox lead all of baseball with 766 runs-- 210 runs more than the Giants. San Francisco is 29th overall in home runs with 89.
Giants pitchers are 21st of 30 MLB teams in ERA (4.05) and 20th in WHIP (1.32).
My point here is, what happened in 2013 wasn't a fluke. It wasn't a series of bad breaks that could easily have gone the other way. It wasn't an unlucky inning here or there that made all the difference between a good season and a failed season. This was a global, catastrophic, season-long implosion of stinky poo.
Sometimes it's hard to see the harsh realities. The Giants organization is in the business of being all positive all the time, so don't look there for anything other than the date of next fan giveaway day.
Same goes for the local broadcasters, who continue to sing the praises of Ryan Vogelsong (3-5, 1.62 WHIP, 5.82 ERA), or repeat for the 26th time that Tim Lincecum has finally turned it all around (9-13, 1.33 WHIP, 4.40 ERA). And I realize that's part of their job and I respect that.
But to understand the depth of the 2013 morass, we might start looking at the numbers and the statistical trending on our own. That way we might begin to fully understand how the Giants came to be 20 games out of first place. And that's our starting place to examine exactly where this team needs to go over the next six months to become relevant once again in the National League.
Let's begin with some breaking news: the retooling of the 2013 San Francisco Giants isn't just about getting a power hitter and a starter.
Sure, both the offense and starting pitching need serious help, but there's also a series of systemic problems within the organization that have to be addressed: the inability to make major trades, the lack of position players being produced in the minor leagues, the "cross-your-fingers" strategy of signing cheap marginal players and giving them critical roles.
All of which can be fixed, both short term and long term. And all of which I believe will be fixed.
Over the next couple of months The Giants Cove will conduct a four-way breakdown of what the renewed and retooled San Francisco Giants should look like:
> Offense. Scoring runs has been undervalued and neglected by the front office for years. There is no reason for this team not to have power hitters. Period.
> Starting pitching, which has long been the key to Giants success, is now sitting in the front yard up on blocks and getting old and rusty.
> The bullpen. If management really believes a solid pen is the key to winning, why did they allow the 2013 bullpen to fall apart?
> Outfield and infield defense. We all agree that excellent defense is important. But even the best gloves in the game can't begin to replace the lack of a serious offense. Sometimes you have to choose one or the other.
As we get closer to the 2014 season let's also agree to one very spiritually important commitment: there will be no whining about the Los Angeles Dodgers and their deep pockets. The San Francisco Giants are in the top 10 teams with the highest MLB team revenue, so their pockets are more than deep enough to get the job done if the desire is there.
Trust me. The San Francisco Giants' 2014 season will be all about success, not excuses.
I think one of the biggest issues for the front office this off season is how are they going to deal with Lincecum. Because of having two bad seasons in a row by his standards or anybody's else's standards they would be wise offering him a qualifying offer for the projected $14M. But then I say to myself that is a lot of money for one year to pay a guy that has lost some velocity, his confidence and even worse his demand of the strike zone. The big question would be would Lincecum accept the one year qualifying offer. If so he would be rolling the dice praying for a huge turn around in the areas mentioned above in order to sign a multi year contract with someone.
My thought still would be offer him the qualifying offer hoping he would not accept and we would pick up a top draft pick from a team that will make him a lower level multi year contract. I do realize the key word in the previous sentence is HOPING and that's a terrible strategy but on the other hand if Lincecum did take the offer I don't think the world would come to an end for the Giants. I also believe he would not want to go to the bullpen for any team full time. I feel bad about my thought because Timmy is one of my favorite Giants but in my opinion once a starter starts going South it is hard to get all the way North again.
There are 34 starting pitchers up for free agency next year and I have looked at the list and in my opinion it is a pretty weak class. I would however be interested in Matt Garza but he has a qualifying offer status attached to him. The other pitchers on the list worth looking at would be Arroyo, Feldman,Kazmir and P.Hughes. The Giants can also go the trade way for a starting pitcher but I am not sure the Giants would be able to put an attractive package together to get a one ,two or three guy without giving up the farm.
It is surely going to be an interesting off season for the Giants and the fans. Can't wait!!
I think the A's would be good trade partners. Josh Donaldson and Cespedes for Sandoval. G. Brown, Stratton, K. Flores and T. Blach or M. Agosta.
@maxwell623 Giants just signed Lincecum to a 2 year $35 million deal. OMG I can not believe SF would pay that much to a guy that is not the guy he use to be and hoping he will be. Terrible move. I do realize the market for SP is weak for 2014 but it is way too much $$$ for a 4 or 5 SP or a reliever. Thank god it is only for 2 years. Lincecum is just not consistent enough to warrant that big of a pay day.
I love the two Oakland players you listed but I think you are giving back too much from the Giants. I agree with Brown , Flores and Sandoval but not 3 pitchers. If Oakland would want a pitcher you could twist my arm and throw in Agosta. Cespedes has a 4 yr $36 million contract but I think SF would be willing to take him because he is very athletic with good power while Donaldson is young and does not have any weight issues and could fill the void at third and he plays other positions also.
Hey maxwell623-- thanks so much!
In 2014 Brian Sabean will hit 18 years as the Giants' GM and Bruce Bochy will have been the team's Manager for 8 years. You hope that an organization so used to doing things a certain way and so rooted in the past still has the ability to be flexible and creative.
Because that's what it's going to take.
The A's are one of a number of teams with whom the Giants could (and should) explore trades.
But that's the problem. The organization has a low rated minor league system but keeps a death grip on the few decent prospects they have. Getting MLB-ready players right now is the top priority; as opposed to gambling that prospects who have not played one inning in the Majors will fully develop and become starters.
I can't see Oakland trading Cespedes for any reason-- he's a power-hitting run producer, he'll get better, and he's signed to a cheap multi-year contract. Gary Brown's stock has dived the past year, can't see why any team would want him.
I think trading Sandoval would be the right move- he has value and he'll bring back value. His conditioning issues and ongoing injuries lowers his potential return but it may be that it's time he moves on.
I am on your side. Boy would I love to have a power bat in the lineup but I would be hesitant to sign him . I do not know a lot about the overall consistant quality of talent where he is from especially in the pitching department and for the money he will be asking for it would be taking to much of a risk. I would also prefer him to bring something else to the table besides a big bat. I do know the Giants will be spending some money this off season but for my money hopefully not for Abreu.
Abreu has "American League" written all over him and I'm guessing the Boston Red Sox, who need a power bat at 1B, would easily absorb a four year $12 million a year deal for him.
ESPN noted Abreu's potential is real-- he is a massive power hitter who could hit for average if he gets his act together. But there are conditioning issues that could make having both Abreu and Sandoval in the same infield very problematical.
And while 26 isn't over the hill it makes a five or six year deal dicey. I guess I'm saying I could see the Giants pulling the trigger because they, 1) have a need; and, 2) are prone to making contract mistakes with players outside the organization.
So as far as Abreu I kind of hope they don't pull that trigger. What do you think?