That said, I like Ishikawa, but it must have been a poor year for 1B, when you compare him to the other players named:
- White Sox second baseman Chris Getz,
- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus,
- White Sox third baseman Gordon Beckham,
- Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan,
- Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen,
- Rangers outfielder Nolan Reimold,
- Mets catcher Omir Santos,
- Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson and
- Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ
The only other "huh?" on the list for me is Omir Santos.
Not that I thought Ishikawa did poorly. As I have shown, he did pretty well after May 10, but the judging of how he did will always focus on his overall season and he didn't do that well overall because of how poorly he started the season. And most of the above did stuff that budding stars did. Ishikawa, at best, could be a competent average firstbaseman - nothing to be ashamed of, and that's good for a nice career in the majors, just ask JT Snow.
As much as I would like to see the Giants improve offensively for sure by acquiring another hitter, the consequence of that would be the loss of opportunity for certain Giants prospects.
Getting a LF (or CF if Rowand agrees to move to LF) is the least intrusive and obstructive, as it would force Bowker to compete with Schierholtz for the starting RF position, but as nicely as both have done in AAA, neither is a slam dunk to do well if they were inserted as starters. I would still like to see how Schierholtz would do if given the chance, and I'm realistic enough to know that there's a significant possibility that he might not do well. Same for Bowker.Getting a 1B, 2B (shifting Sanchez to 3B, and Pablo to 1B), or 3B (shifting Pablo to 1B) would be more obstructive as it would effectively end any use the Giants would have for Ishikawa or Garko, forcing them to either DFA or trade them.
Given Garko's history and right-handedness (where many Giants prospects are left-handed), plus the fact that Barnes was traded for him and Sabean said that he would not acquire anyone who is not part of the Giants future plans, I have to think that the Giants would not acquire an IF which would force out Garko (as well as possibly Ishikawa since has no position flexibility).
For that matter, there usually are a good number of available LF and while Ishikawa-Garko would probably make a good enough platoon team, only Nick Johnson would rank as high as the two of them in a platoon at 1B, and his big problem is that he is better but only when he is healthy enough to play for most of the season. Unless they are thinking of moving Bowker back to 1B, acquiring Johnson would probably result in both players being DFA, with Garko probably netting someone (though not as good as Barnes, I would bet) and Ishikawa being claimed by another team through waivers, and the Giants would only have Bowker and Jesus Guzman as 1B possibless should Johnson go down, as he has to some extent each and every season he has been a major leaguer.
For me, like for 2009, I would have preferred the Giants go and give the best prospects the chance to show what they could do, good or bad. That's not the edict that Neukom gave - he wanted to see enough improvement so that the team was at least .500 - and I understand his position as he needs to worry more about the business side and attracting fans to come see the games.
My 2010 Preference
For 2010, this would be how I would want to do things.
Obviously, the pitching rotation is the strength of the team. I would not diminish it with any trades right now. Lincecum, Zito, Cain, Sanchez is a pretty formidable rotation. For the 5th spot, I would prefer to see Pucetas get a chance to see what he can do up here, with Martinez in reserve.
The bullpen is another strength. Brian Wilson was superb as closer in 2009 and Jeremy Affeldt even more so as our main setup guy. Sergio Romo was mostly superb, except for a brief period where he was lost. Dan Runzler looks to also be in the mix for set-up duties, lessening the need to use Affeldt as much or in lower leverage situations. Merkin Valdez was OK too, and Waldis Joaquin looks like he will take a spot too. And Brandon Medders was a find. These are probably the seven we take to the season, and leaves out Justin Miller and Bobby Howry, both of whom did very well for us, but are probably gone in 2010.
The lineup, of course, is a work-in-progress. I would start with giving Posey the catching job but also signing a free agent catcher who is good defensively and hopefully a mentor too, ideally like Gregg Zaun. Brad Ausmus and Jose Molina look to be viable alternatives if Zaun really wants to stay near his hometown area of Tampa Bay.
1B would be a platoon of Ishikawa and Garko, though it won't be strictly by LHP and RHP. I would also play Garko in LF sometimes to get his offense if the LF is struggling, and Garko is the DH anytime we play against an AL team.
2B is Freddy Sanchez, with Frandsen or Rohlinger as backup.
3B is Pablo Sandoval, with Frandsen or Rohlinger as backup.
SS is Edgar Renteria with Frandsen or Rohlinger as backup.
LF is John Bowker with Torres, Garko, and Frandsen as backups.
CF is Aaron Rowand with Torres as backup.
RF is Nate Schierholtz with Bowker (someone else would take LF) and Torres as backup.
This would mean that Frandsen is DFA or traded if Rohlinger wins and Velez is DFA or traded, as there would be no space for either and neither can be sent back to the minors without exposing him to waivers. It is possible that Velez might shine in spring training and make a good case for LF, but I would just (in my mind, at least) have the above slotted and just announce my "decision" after spring training, justifying it any way that I can. It's time to see what Posey, Ishikawa, Bowker and Schierholtz can do playing pretty regularly, then adjust in May-June was needed.
I think the Giants are pretty much going to follow this route except that they will most probably pursue one of the second tier players who falls through the crack and finds himself without a team in the middle of January and willing to take a small contract in order to secure a starting position with the Giants. Then they would adjust the rest of the roster in reaction to this signing.
I think that there is also probably a good chance of them also signing a free agent starter to take the #5 rotation spot, also another guy looking for a spot and willing to take less. I would not have minded getting Brad Penny back, and who knows, he could find himself on the outside looking in and sign with the Giants for less in order to give the D-gers another slap in the face.