San Francisco Giants Baseball:
The Only Splash You’ll See
The Baseball Winter Meetings are going on right now in Dallas, Texas. Brian Sabean is there, examining all possibilities, checking his Christmas list, with that of all the available stocking stuffers out there in “Free-Agent Land.” Sabes has already informed us that we need not expect either a “big splash” or “sticker shock” deal happening, either in Dallas or anywhere else this offseason. The only splash you are likely to see this year, is that of a ball ending up in the cove.
Financial constraints, brought on by the fact that the Giants have eighty million dollars tied up in eight players, dictate that the Giants can either pursue that big bat, or they can try and sew up Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, they cannot do both.
Allow me to assure you that I am one hundred percent behind Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy. They have earned respect, and I would not presume to think I had a better handle on what was going on, than they do. That being said, I do get into Christmas in every, way, shape and form, so here is my Wish List.
*** Re-sign Matt and Timmy at any cost-they are the dynamic duo.
*** Get Buster back in the lineup, at any position.
*** Allow Nate Schierholtz to play right field for one full season.
*** Create a spot for Jeff Keppinger in the mix-he’s a gamer.
*** Get Brian Wilson back on the field as our closer.
*** Keep Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez in the bullpen, as precious commodities: left-handed pitchers, capable of silencing those deadly, big bats in the late innings.
There are many other possibilities for entry onto my list, but I want it to remain feasible. I am also making certain assumptions about the remainder of the starting lineup. There is the Panda at third, Freddy back at second and Melky Cabrerra in center. I am hesitant to pursue Carlos Beltran, because of our recent checkered history of signing veterans, only to see their skills rapidly decline. Still owing a passel of due-salary to Aaron and for that matter, Zito, the Giants must avoid that trap.
Aubrey Huff has had a career of up and down stats; you can check it out. Without fail, since he started his career, he has alternated between highly productive seasons, and lackluster ones. However, 2012 lines up as a productive year, and there are two available positions into which he could be inserted: first base and left field. I have too vivid of a memory of him trying to be the man, and stepping into some tough defensive shoes last season, only to end up looking overmatched. It takes more than heart to play the outfield at AT & T Park.
Meanwhile, the Baby Giraffe is maturing into a formidable hitting machine, and is in position to assume that left field slot, a guy who looked very comfortable last season, trying his hand at a new position. Brandon Belt showed us too many indications that he is ready to assume the mantle of consistency, to be ignored this spring.
I also believe that Brandon Crawford is the ultimate answer to shortstop, with a nod to Emmanuel Burriss, who has done everything asked of him. Burriss is a good shortstop; Crawford is a superior one. Bochy must find it a pleasant problem with which to deal.
The other leftover outfielders, Cody and Andres, will have to scratch and claw, to remain on the team, and we will rely once more on Madison and Ryan to produce in the starting lineup.
I know what you are thinking: What about that big bat? It comes down to starting pitching versus an additional rocket launcher. We have to figure that having Buster back will solve some of the offensive woes, and we have to assume that having both Keppinger and Freddie in the infield. is going to strengthen our fire power. If Nate and Belt can attain consistency over the course of an entire season, then I think last season’s poor offensive showing will prove an anomaly.
In any case, we watched the Phillies once more fall one step sooner in the playoffs, indicating that they are on the way out. We saw the Diamondbacks take advantage of an injury-plagued Giants team, and we saw an improbable late-season push by the Brew-Crew.
All I have ever asked of the Giants is that they be competitive. With the lineup above, I believe the G-Men will be able to provide an antidote for a rattlesnake bite.