Thursday November 29th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky (Baseball Writer):
It is not an outrageous thought that the San Francisco Giants, coming off their second World Series title in three years would not have a problem signing two key free agents. Angel Pagan was a fixture at the top of the lineup throughout the year and played a big part in helping the Giants reach the playoffs and World Series. Marco Scutaro, a trade deadline acquisition, provided the Giants with the boost they needed to leave the Dodgers in the dust in the NL West. Not to mention, Scutaro caught fire in the NLCS against the Cardinals and wound up NLCS MVP. Signing both of these guys would most likely make the Giants favorites for a Wild Card at the least. It could be hard to compete with the Dodgers for the West after the blockbuster trade that they made with the Red Sox, but Scutaro and Pagan could help. So, how likely is it that both free agents sign with the Giants and return for 2013? Also, why has this team been so quiet in pursuing other Free Agents so far?
Unfortunately for most Giants fans, not very likely. I see the Giants signing one or the other. Angel Pagan, coming off a great season, will undoubtedly ask for more than he’s worth. The Giants also have highly regarded prospect Gary Brown waiting in the wings. He is suited to man centerfield for years to come. Pagan is probably looking for at least four years, and Brown will most likely be ready by late 2013 or 2014. Pagan would probably demand somewhere around $10-12 million per year. He has been a great fit for the top of the Giants lineup, setting the table for Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey. He led the league in triples and scored 95 runs, partially due to his great second half. Pagan’s speed is especially valuable in the spacious outfield of AT&T Park. Gary Brown also has great speed, so there will not be too much of a discrepancy in the defensive abilities once Brown is a Giant. What comes to my mind when I think about rewarding Pagan with a large contract is Aaron Rowand. The Giants made a huge mistake by giving Rowand a large contract after just one good year. Pagan, like Rowand at the time, has not had a streak of consecutive great years, so signing him for more than a few years could be risky.
Thursday August 23rd, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: Before the trading deadline, it was thought that the Oakland A’s were going to make a move. With the extra wild card in play this year, the team seemed to be a contender. Their weakest position though was at shortstop. There were a few options out there, some reasonable and some not, among those were Hanley Ramirez and Stephen Drew. Ramirez was very unlikely to be acquired by the A’s due to the nature of his contract, but he would’ve provided the most boost for the team. The story goes that the A’s almost had Ramirez all but acquired, with the Dodgers eating at least of his contract. But the A’s hesitated, and the Dodgers swooped in and agreed to take on all of the remaining dollars on his deal. With Ramirez ending up on the Dodgers, Stephen Drew seemed to be the most viable option left. Drew missed a large portion of the 2011 season with a broken ankle sustained on a slide into home, and made his 2012 debut around the time of the All-Star Break. In his short time with the Diamondbacks this season, Drew hit just .193 and was pretty disappointing. With the teams hierarchy going public with their displeasure, the writing was on the wall for Drew. It looked like Arizona would be able to get at least the same amount of production from a replacement, so a trade seemed imminent. For some reason the trade never got done, but the A’s kept at it.
Oakland was the perfect candidate to acquire Stephen Drew. So it was no surprise that Billy Beane finally got his man this week. Without a producing shortstop, the A’s had a very little chance at the playoffs. Sure, Drew only hit .193 this year, but he carries a career .266 average over his seven-year career. Plus he walks a ton. A stereotypical A’s hitter characteristic. In 2008, Drew hit .291 with 21 homers and 67 RBIs. If the A’s could get anything close to this production, they would be in very good shape. Drew will most likely keep hitting in the two-hole of the lineup, behind Coco Crisp. Once Drew gets settled and regains form, the A’s should get some good production from the top of their lineup, setting the table for the monster bats of Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes, and Chris Carter. Even if Drew were to continue hitting .193, he would still be an improvement from the overall batting average of A’s shortstops at .190. As long as he can walk and hit with some power. Drew will most likely be taking time away from Cliff Pennington and Adam Rosales. Given their combined numbers, that is a very good thing. The A’s also just sent the struggling Jemile Weeks down to Triple-A Sacramento to make room for Drew.
Wednesday August 15th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: Just a little while ago, Giants’ outfielder Melky Cabrera was announced suspended for 50 games due to testing positive for testosterone—a performance enhancer. This will put him out of action for the rest of the season.
For the Giants, this is catastrophic. They lost a .346 hitter in the middle of the lineup. They just acquired Hunter Pence and got Pablo Sandoval back from the DL, and the lineup was stacked. They got through one game with the best possible lineup, and then this. As a Giants fan, I can’t even think of the words to describe this situation. Apparently the testing was during the All Star Break. The Giants now have a tougher road to the playoffs, but I’m not sure their goose is cooked. Buster Posey has been on fire recently, and the return of Sandoval should provide a large boost. The major problem with Cabrera’s absence is the loss of a high-average hitter. Now the Giants will need to work harder in order to get runners on base for the power hitters. Cabrera was having his best season—even better than last. Now the Giants must hope to scrappily win enough games to snag a wild card. Gregor Blanco will be expected to fill in for Cabrera. The Giants recently signed Xavier Nady, so he might play a part too.
Monday August 6th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: Diamondbacks fans spoke out about our last piece on the Dodgers and Giants, so here’s one devoted just to the Dbacks. After last year’s run when they dethroned the world champion Giants, Arizona was poised for something similar this season. In the offseason, they acquired Trevor Cahill from the A’s. He provided some extra depth in the already-strong pitching staff that included Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, and Joe Saunders. With Cahill, Justin Upton, Chris Young, Aaron Hill, and offseason signing Jason Kubel, the Diamondbacks were ready to defend their NL West title.
Arizona however, started off a bit slow. Daniel Hudson needed Tommy John Surgery and Stephen Drew wasn’t quite ready to come off the DL. Catcher Miguel Montero went into a slump and Chris Young—after a hot start—was headed to the DL. While all of this was happening, the Dodgers were absolutely on fire. Matt Kemp was already on the fast track to winning MVP, and the team was in first place by a nice margin. The Giants were doing well too. With no competition from the Padres, the D-Backs were in third place. As the season went along, Matt Kemp was sidelined by a hamstring injury and the Dodgers faltered. The Giants kept pace and ended up passing the Dodgers to take first place. Meanwhile, the D-Backs rebounded and stayed in contention. At the All Star Break, the Dodgers led the West by half a game over the Giants and by four games over Arizona. The standings haven’t changed drastically over time, as now the Giants lead by half a game over the Dodgers and by three over the Diamondbacks.
Thursday August 2nd, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: Now that each team is for the most part set going into the final stretch, the NL West is up for grabs. The Dodgers were the most prominent buyer this year and the Giants didn’t stand idly by. Los Angeles acquired Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, and Brandon League, and the Giants got Hunter Pence. Before any deals were made, I would say the Giants had a better overall team. But after getting some of the best talent that was made available at the non-waiver trade deadline, the Dodgers might have grabbed a slight edge. Both teams may still make more moves before the year is done, but at this point the N.L. West race will be coming down to the wire.
With arguably the best pitching staff in the whole National League, the Giants have a great advantage in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. This year with Tim Lincecum in a bit of a funk, Matt Cain leads the strong staff including Ryan Vogelsong, Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, and Barry Zito. Heading into this season, Barry Zito was the weak link, going 9-14 with a 4.15 ERA in 2010, and 3-4 with a 5.87 ERA in 2011. Zito was left off the playoff roster in the Giants’ World Series-winning season in 2010. This year has been a good one for Zito—he’s 8-7 with a 3.89 ERA in 20 starts. The weak link in the pitching staff this year has been Tim Lincecum. He is 5-11 with a 5.62 ERA, but has shown some signs of coming out of his season-long slump. If he can replicate some of last season or his performance in the 2010 playoffs, the Giants will have no problem making the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday July 31st, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: What a busy day! Here are the last of the major deals that led up to the 4:00 p.m. eastern time deadline:
Hunter Pence to the Giants
The Giants and Dodgers are in a tie for first in the NL West as of today. Leading up to the deadline, the Dodgers have acquired Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, and Brandon League. With the Dodgers making such big moves to add to their offensive lineup, the Giants needed to get a big bat. Hunter Pence is the solution the Giants were looking for, hitting .271with 17 homers and 59 RBI. For Pence and cash considerations, the Giants sent outfielder Nate Schierholtz, minor league catcher Tommy Joseph, and minor league pitcher Seth Rosin. This year, Schierholtz hit .257 in 196 plate appearances. Joseph hit .260 in 335 plate appearances in Double-A, and Rosin held a 4.31 ERA in 56.1 innings in Single-A. I love this move for the Giants. Already with Pablo Sandoval (on the DL now but expected back soon), Melky Cabrera, and Buster Posey in the lineup, the Giants look good. Now with Hunter Pence, they will put up some serious competition to the Dodgers for the NL West crown. The Phillies also get some good talent. Nate Schierholtz never really made it with the Giants, so hopefully he will get a fresh start in Philadephia. Tommy Joseph also was a highly regarded prospect in the Giants organization, and he looks like he will be the catcher of the future. Read the rest of this entry