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Weathering the 2013 Storm: How to stop the decline of the San Francisco Giants

Weathering the 2013 Storm: How to stop the decline of the San Francisco Giants

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With how the San Francisco Giants have been battling to stay out of the NL West cellar, it’s hard not too look forward to next year. In order to understand what moves need to be made, we must closely observe the 2011 and 2013 season. Both followed championship years with complete disaster. You cannot simply state that Buster Posey’s horrific injury or “bad luck” are the only reasons for an unsuccessful playoff run. To reestablish the Orange and Black as kings in the National League, the Giants must stop ignoring the warning signs.

Just like a car, as you ignore the oil temperature warning and have the check engine light covered up with tape, your motor will eventually give out. Following the 2010 season, the front office of San Francisco was determined to keep the core group that helped the Giants win it’s first world series in the Bay Area, while signing aging veterans to use as patch work. In 2011, with Posey lost for the season, the Giants relied on the likes of Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, Orlando Cabrera, and Miguel Tejada. It was evident that they were struggling to get the bat on the ball and on defense. This paved the way for young stars like Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. As the trade deadline approached, the front office panicked and traded away top prospect Zach Wheeler for Carlos Beltran. The Giants were able to move it’s top prospect because of the emergence of Ryan Vogelsong. Barry Zito’s injury allowed Vogelsong to make the most of the opportunity and made himself comfortable in the rotation. Despite finishing second in the NL West, much of the credit is given to the pitchers and defense. San Francisco failed to sign a power bat during the offseason and was forced to overpay for a rental. With the lack of hitting, the Giants simply couldn’t score enough runs despite quality outings. The valuable lesson was that the Giants had a weak farm system that lacked major league ready talent.

The San Francisco Giants used solid pitching and timely hitting to win it’s second world series title in three years. Following the 2012 season, the Giants locked up Angel Pagan, Macro Scutaro, and Hunter Pence. Leaving the San Francisco rotation and lineup intact. While in Los Angeles, new ownership was spending millions left and right. Making large investments and splashes gave the Los Angeles Dodgers the title of “Yankees of the West.” San Francisco has always emphasized the importance of pitching, but, did not address it during the trading period while Ryan Vogelsong, Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum struggled. The Giants used minor league arms for spot starts but overall received no help from AAA Fresno. The philosophy of timely hitting is dangerous since baseball is a game of failure and injuries. While Pagan and Scutaro spent time on the disabled list, their position’s were a revolving door, reemphasizing the lack of rotation arms. As September comes to a close and the Dodgers sits comfortably atop the NL West; the attention will be shifted to winter meetings and free agency.

The Orange and Black will need to be aggressive this offseason and go after the players they want. First order of business will be reloading the starting rotation with young arms. I highly anticipate the Giants to buy out the rest of Zito’s contract. Matt Garza is the youngest and is the top arm available, but, with his history of injuries, I do not see the Giants pursuing him. After a closer look, I believe the Giants should pursue Masahiro Tanaka from the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Japanese Professional league. He will be 25 years old in the beginning of next season and has recently won 21 games in a row. The 6’2 205 pound kid sports a JPPL ERA of 2.32, 1,284 innings pitched, and 1,210 strikeouts. He does not possess the pure strikeout stuff as Yu Darvish but he also won’t command as much of an investment. Tanaka is projected to be a free agent and will draw a bidding war. It’s difficult to discuss the Tim Lincecum situation because it’s unclear if he wants to remain in San Francisco and for how much. If the market value for Tanaka and Garza balloons, I suggest the Giants resign Lincecum or give him a quality offer. If all else fails Bronson Arroyo or Ricky Nolasco, if the Dodgers do not resign him, are good middle of the rotation options. I anticipate Chad Gaudin to receive a new contract and Yusmeiro Petit, an invitation to spring training with the opportunity to make the club. I recommended the Giants to decline Vogelsongs’ $6 million option and offer him a new one year contract ranging between $3-4 million. Now that the rotation is set, next order of business is a bat or two. With the success Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman, and Yoenis Cespedes are having, the Giants are looking to get a piece of the Cuban pie. I confidently believe Jose Dariel Abreu is a perfect fit for San Francisco. The biggest question mark surrounding Abreu is his athleticism. Naturally a first baseman, many believe he will remain at his position or become a DH. This move would force Brandon Belt to left field, which would provide an upgrade with the bat. San Francisco needs to lock up Hunter Pence longterm and if they fail to sign Abreu, pursue Shin-Soo Choo from the Cincinnati Reds. Rumors are swirling around stating that the Reds plan to extend Choo. At least expect a draft pick compensation to be attached to him, lowering his value. Regardless, Choo will still be signed, especially after posting a career line of .289/.389/.466 in nine seasons. The 31 year old is currently signed to a one year $4.9 million dollar contract but will seek a multi year deal. With how fast salaries are increasing and the ability of younger players to have an immediate impact, draft picks are highly totted. I would hate to see the San Francisco Giants lose a pick but if they sit on their hands, that would be the least of their worries.

In order to return to the postseason, the San Francisco Giants need to spend money wisely. With no pitching or hitting help in Fresno, the Giants will need to bridge the gap from the current to the future. The Los Angeles Dodgers have changed the way the front office will go about things. We can no longer sit back and hope inexperienced players and aging veterans will come up with those lucrative hits. In order to stop the Giants’ landslide, San Francisco will need to start spending.

Nicholas Montano
@CalGrownSFborn

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