Now that the San Francisco Giants disappointing season has wrapped up it time to look at what improvements the team can make in the offseason. Clearly the hype surrounding the current team was too high, and the GM himself said the “window of opportunity” for this squad has closed. Changes have to be made, and the under whelming play suggests that they should be on a grand scale. So here are the changes the Giants should make in order to contend in 2014.
Bench Pablo Sandoval
This may seem like a bold move, but Sandoval had a horrible season. Fourteen home runs is about half the total the Giants need out of him if he is hitting out of the clean up spot. He and Buster Posey are supposed to be the mashers of this lineup, but Sandoval’s underwhelming performance proved to be more of a detriment to the team than his contribution’s. This can be dropped from the list if Sandoval drops the pounds, but having an overweight player on the team is bad precedent for the other players. If he put up sufficient numbers with his current weight than perhaps all could be forgiven, but his weight clearly affects his level of play. The Giants have compromised with Sandoval for too long.
Start Joaquin Arias at Third
This goes hand in hand with the last one, and I think Arias is a player who could produce if given consistent at bats. He’s a slick defender and would be an upgrade at third, and he is also a base stealer. The latter is especially important on team that doesn’t generate a lot of offense. Playing small ball relies on speed and versatility, and Arias has both. If given the chance I think Arias can be an above replacement level player.
Sign Dan Haren
After a relatively disappointing season in Washington, Haren’s value could be in the Giants salary range. His end of the season numbers are encouraging, as he posted an ERA of 3.23 in the final three months of the season. Although this is the second consecutive year his ERA was above 4, and at 33 he could be on the down tick. But I think this would be a bargain move by the Giants. His numbers should improve at the Giants home ball park and he could either be a solid third man in the rotation or a back end starter. Either way, it would be wise of the Giants to take a flyer on Haren.
Sign Curtis Granderson
I am a bit hesitant about this one, but if its either Granderson or Gregor Blanco in left field, Granderson is the easy choice. He wont come cheap, but if the Giants can secure a deal in the two year range then they should jump at the chance to sign him. He’s just about the only left fielder on the market, so the Giants do not have many options when it comes to boosting their offense. But before a bevy of injuries, Granderson was one of the best players in the game. His speed has declined and his strikeout rate has increased, but this is still a player hit over 40 home runs and 100 RBI’s. If healthy, he can provide a large dose of offense. They may regret this signing if he continues to get hurt, but they could also regret another year of Blanco in left.
Make Brandon Belt the cleanup hitter
Its time to see whether Belt is going to be a major part of the Giants future plans or not. This is a player who clearly has a ton of potential and perhaps he has started to realize it. The second half of this season was the best Belt has played in a Giants uniform, and the team should put trust in him and go all in. Wobbling on whether he was going to be the every day first baseman was a mistake, one that clearly hurt his confidence. So the Giants should take the initiative the place the trust in Belts hands then he has no more excuses. Posey’s natural spot is the three, and its time the Giants stopped forcing Posey into a spot that he is not comfortable in. Belt’s got to be the four if the Giants are going to improve next year.