The San Francisco Giants are in a four-way tie in being the 9th-worst team in the majors. The Los Angeles Dodgers are division champs.
One year away from a World Series Championship or not, yeah, Giants fans have a right to be pissed.
So what do the Giants change, when they seem interested or intent on bringing back so many free agents?
Hunter Pence is pretty much a shoo-in to return. The Giants want him back and he’s been rather surprisingly vocal about coming back. However, considering that Pence currently has the highest OWAR on the team (4.8 to Posey’s 4.7) and the highest home run total by a wide margin (25 to Belt’s 16), Pence hasn’t been part of the problem. So it’s not like that’s something to ***** about.
Javier Lopez has the team’s lowest ERA out of any regular in the bullpen by a fair margin (1.60 ERA). It’s hard to fault the team for being interested in bringing him back.
Then it starts to get dirty.
Tim Lincecum. He’s an iconic Giant. In a rotation of inconsistency, Lincecum will likely end up with more starts than any other. But he also had a 4.44 ERA, which is a bounceback from his 2012 season ERA of 5.18. He’s not an ace anymore. He’s probably more like a #3 pitcher, maybe a #4. But he’ll still want to get paid like a #2 pitcher, probably. And yet the Giants seem interested in bringing him back. How another overpaid contract for a pitcher when the Giants are about to get rid of the biggest albatross? I’m a sentimental guy, but even I am hesitant.
Ryan Vogelsong. It’s fair to say that the Giants don’t make 2012 without him. His comeback is one of the most emotionally satisfying baseball stories around, even if there wasn’t a World Series championship to top it off. But his 5.90 ERA was one of the worst among regular starters in baseball (Zito sits at 5.91 coming into today’s game). He suffered a broken hand, though he was better since coming back, a 4.73 ERA isn’t exactly good. But the rotation could end up missing three people…is it worth bringing back a guy we know who might get better, and have just a one year deal? That’s not ideal, but I’m not sure I like the free agent market…the American one, anyway.
Chad Gaudin? Let’s be honest, he’s been a very nice surprise. As a fifth starter, he was good…but he doesn’t exactly have a track record worth trusting. After his year, he may want a two-four year deal somewhere. He could reasonably get three. Do you want to invest that long in that track record?
Andres Torres? Well, he was signed to platoon with Blanco on a one-year deal. That platoon wasn’t even working well when it was a platoon. As a starter, he was brutal, and he surprisingly lost the ability to play corner outfield positions defensively. Honestly, this may be the easiest call…but it’s also not one that’s going to have a huge impact.
Can the Giants improve if they bring back four of these six guys? There might be a couple of bullpen guys (I’m looking at you Jean Machi) that they might option or drop. But even with that, how many spots could they effectively replace and improve?
That is what is most frustrating thing about this team. A lot of this team needs to be fixed internally. Part of it is getting healthier and having better depth. Losing Angel Pagan devastated the offense in many ways. Losing Ryan Vogelsong actually improved the rotation, but bringing Gaudin in destabilized the bullpen, which got worse after Casilla went down.
And that’s before you ask yourself…what about Marco Scutaro? A year older, a back creakier, and who knows what the long term effects of his finger will be. The drop off from what Scutaro is expected to do to what Joaquin Arias would do? And what kind of quality could you sign that would be willing to come in as a backup? This isn’t an Aaron Rodgers sort of deal…
Ugh…definitely a reason to be upset.