Monday, October 07, 2013

Your 2013 Giants: Official Off-Season Press Conference

The Giants at the end of every season has an end of season press conference to go over.  Baggarly kindly provided a transcript of it, which I pasted below and added my comments.  I was finally able to spend concentrated time on it this weekend, as I took a mini-vacation break, as my daughter had a fall break.

 Press Conference Transcript and ogc comments:

Editor's note: GM Brian Sabean and head coach Bruce Bochy addressed the media for 25 minutes in their yearly "state of the franchise" press conference on Friday. Below is a transcript of their comments.

ogc thoughts
It was pretty odd that it was scheduled for before the actual end of season, which would have been Monday, not Friday.  I thought it was because they were going to announced the signing of Pence, but it wasn't.  When it was announced that Sabean was flying out over the weekend to go with team scouts to check out the Cuban free agent, Abreu, then it made sense, he likes to be in the room with the reporters, and he needed to get going over the weekend to do his due diligence tire kicking with Abreu (So you aren't interesting in working for free?  OK, thanks :^)

What went wrong this year?
Sabean:
I think its pretty simple, we didn't have enough depth. Last year, we seemingly were able to overcome injury and lack of performance. We didn't do that this year. We didn't get any kind of life from the minor leagues, whether that was the fifth starter or what we went through in center and left field. Lack of depth became an issue, other than having our team on the field or the best team we could get on the field.
ogc thoughts

While it is true that they didn't have enough depth, and that some of the expected backup didn't arrive, particularly among the position players, both infield and outfield, it is hard to plan for half your lineup to be either out or playing injured, as the Giants were doing for the two months they were really bad, June and July, when Pagan, Scutaro, Crawford, and Sandoval were injured or playing injured.  Add in that Torres was, unbeknownst to the Giants, playing injured as well and that's 63% of the lineup messed up in some way, plus Posey, Pence, and Belt couldn't hit big in every game, leading to a lot of low scoring games.   It is impossible to have depth that covers 5/8ths of your lineup.
Also, we had pitching problems.  Casilla was out during that period, and nobody stepped up, in particular Kontos, who I thought was ready to step up, and instead he regressed.  Rumor had it that he didn't come into camp in the best of shapes, like many other players, so he was not alone.  Plus, Affeldt was having his issues, like many of his WBC fellow participants.  Ironically, the one player everyone was most worried about, Romo, was the healthiest and best performing.  
Where depth helped was when Vogelsong went out and Gaudin stepped in and performed very well.  But talent in the majors is not so that you can have more than one or two adequate backups at every position, and after Gaudin went down, the Giants could not really find anyone to step in.  Meanwhile, the Giants continued to start Zito and not take him out of the rotation, probably partly because nobody was stepping in to replace Gaudin, so how could they replace two in the rotation?
On ability to acquire more experienced role players:

Sabean:
We'll explore that. But you have to do the heavy lifting first. We have to get better talent, including re-signing our own talent. So that's where we'll start.
ogc thoughts
As we know now, Pence's signing was pulled off almost immediately after this presser, as Baer was apparently moved to agree to what Pence was asking for, even though it was far apart from the 4 years, $60M that the Giants reportedly had first offered.
Is Timmy on offseason to-do list?

Sabean:
Definitely. That mindset hasn't changed. That'll be our next course of action. As you know, we're talking to Hunter's folks now, and Timmy would follow suit.
ogc thoughts
As reported after the Pence signing, they are now working on Lincecum, and Tim has publicly said that he's willing to hear what they have to say.  They have also noted that resigning Lopez is a priority too.
Would you like to keep him?

Sabean:
Absolutely. That's why we would be talking to him. Nothing has changed since the deadline, when we didn't trade him. And that's the mindset.
ogc thoughts
The Giants basically have to try to re-sign him.  They only have two spots under contract, Cain and Bumgarner.  Zito is going bye-bye.  Vogelsong did not pitch well at all after returning, though I would note he pitched well then poorly, suggesting he might have tired.  In any case, what he'll do in 2014 is a big question mark, no matter how you want to look at it.  So the Giants need two starters to, one to fill a rotation spot, one to battle Vogelsong and ensure that our rotation is in good shape to start in 2014.
The Giants also love continuity, so trying to sign Lincecum makes a lot of sense for them to attempt.  Whether they are willing to go the extra year or millions of dollars to sign him, like they did Pence is the bigger question that is not answerable right now.  
As I noted in a post recently, the Giants have already announced that they will Qualify Offer Lincecum, which makes any team looking to sign him think hard about losing their draft pick.   So competing teams will probably avoid him, unless they have already signed another and lost their pick already.  And Lincecum probably has very little interest in joining a losing organization.  
Plus, this is a negotiating point, the $14M roughly QO could be accepted by Lincecum, and he might do that, Baggarly reported that an industry source stated that he can expect to get a 3 year, $30M deal.  One, Lincecum don't like to think that far out, two, against the $14M QO, that means he's only getting $8M for the other two seasons.  That gives the Giants a middle point, say, 2 yaers, $22M, with potential salary boosting thresholds for 2014 that could raise his salary in 2015 to the $20-25M level that he probably thought he was getting when he turned down the Giants 5 year, $100M deal that was offered when Cain signed his deal.
Which call-ups impressed the most?

Bochy:
We had a few guys that showed some good things out there. Hembree, the times he's been out there, I think he's done a nice job. Juan Perez was up here earlier, but he looks more comfortable up here now. And he's been getting better at-bats, and playing well on defense. So that's encouraging with the young guys. He's not a young guy, but Petit, he does have some experience up here, but he's been impressive. And he's doing what you hope from these guys, that you show that you belong up here. And that's how he's pitched. You look at a guy like Noonan, he hasn't got a lot of playing time, but he's done a nice job -- whether it's second or third base -- defensively. He looks more comfortable. Now some of these guys haven't gotten the playing time -- the Pegueros the Kieschnicks -- but I do like some of the things the guys I just mentioned have done. Dunning, I'd like to get him some more work. I think he's done a good job up here, not just in September, but earlier when he came up. It's going to be competitive in the spring, and these guys are doing what you're hoping -- some of them -- and showing that they belong here.

Sabean:
I'd say Hembree is the most intriguing to me. He's come a long way in a year, a long way.
ogc thoughts
Wow, both of them led with Hembree, so that's unanimity there.  And easy to go to, none of the  other prospects really shown like Heath did.  Perez was an easy #2, again, nobody did particularly well.  Petit I thought would have been the lead, though really, he's not a prospect.   Dunning also did well, and thus deserved mention too, but the bullpen is pretty set, with Romo, Affeldt, Casilla, Lopez, plus Mijares, Kontos, Machi, and Rosario battling for two spots (one last spot for long reliever), plus Hembree probably has a spot to lose in spring training, so for now, there is really only one spot right now for the four to battle for.  And the Giants have been bringing in guys as competition for bullpen spots every year, so there will probably be another name or two in the mix .
Noonan did nicely but wasn't much after his initial good start.  With Adrianza out of options next season, he and Arias are the probable MI utility guys, though Abreu might still be around and compete for that spot, so that leaves Noonan in AAA, assuming he still have options too.  Peguero and Kieschnick did not really play well enough in the majors, though OK in AAA, but will probably get to battle in spring.  Brown probably will be in AAA to work on fixing his mechanics to be consistently like it was when he was hitting in mid-season for a month, than how badly it was at the end of the season.
Petit to rotation?

Sabean:
I think he has a chance to be on our staff next year. That'll be on our team at hand, the depth we have, and/or with the manager and pitching coach. I think our best interest is with the talent. I personally would not want to see him pitch winter ball, but we'll discuss that.
ogc thoughts
Well, he has definitely earned a chance to battle for a spot next season, but Sabean non-commitment to him I think is a function of the need to sign another rotation guy and the possibility that Lincecum decides to re-sign with the Giants.  The Giants most probably will be bringing back Vogelsong (he commented, not sure where, that they won't screw Vogelsong by declining the option and then re-signing him at a lower amount.  Of course, the bad side of that is if they decide they don't want him, he'll just be DFAed), and with all those, then the only spot for Petit is bullpen, most probably long-relief.
Progress with Pablo?

Sabean:
You're amazed when you look at the scoreboard and see the stats. It hasn't been a full, or complete, or good year for him. So the sky is still the limit and we're still waiting for that. It's up to Pablo. We've seen the good, the bad and the ugly. He's on the last year of a contract and that either means stepping up for this organization and doing enough for us to want to keep him here, or get himself ready for free agency and move on. It's in his court now, we've done everything we could.
ogc thoughts
Giants basically saying that it's up to Pablo to get off his fat arse and be the player he could be by getting into great shape, they were reportedly mad that he came into the season out of shape and particularly about his comment that he got until next season to get into shape, which probably didn't win any points with management or ownership.  I have to wonder if he's going to be with us after 2014, even if he got into shape, I would think that any contract with have weight clauses, which other teams probably won't require of him, so he would bolt to another team in that instance.  And if he has another poor season, Duvall could be promoted by mid-season, if he's doing well, and Pablo could be traded. 
Minor-league evaluation:

Sabean:
We've got as much pitching talent in the lower minor leagues as anyone in baseball. I'm really encouraged by that. And we found that out during our trade exercises at the deadline. The dilemma is that they're at the lower level. And as you know, no matter where they finish, usually the formula is not to add more than 30 or 40 innings into the next year. We've got some guys that could move fast. I'm a big believer that if you're a strike thrower and you have a competent ability to use all your pitchers, that you might not have to pitch in Triple-A. Triple-A is not a good read for us, given the PCL. So our goal is to get some of these guys to Double-A and build their innings. And we may get a surprise. But it's more geared toward 2015 than it is towards next year.
ogc thoughts
Yeah, as discussed on DrB's and Shankbone's sites (links to side), we have a boatload of pitching talent climbing up the latter, most of them in SJ and Augusta last season (though Escobar did make it to AA and did well there as well).  That could be our next generation of starters and relievers in 3-4 years.  But the first, to Sabean's point, are probably not big contributors until 2015 at the earliest.
The Giants have been aggressive before with guys who strike out a lot in the lower minors (over 9 K/9, like Dirty, others), and Escobar did that, as well as others.  The talk about skipping AAA means some could make the jump to AA in 2014 and find themselves soon in the majors, depending on the advancement in IP and their performance.
Assessment of the rotation:

Bochy:
Well, when you look at our season, it's probably been an issue for us as much as anything, as we didn't quite have the stability from our starters as we're accustomed to. We had some guys have some rough years, some injuries. Vogeslong going down, Barry Zito had a tough time getting on track. I am encouraged by Matt Cain, and how he threw from the second half on. He just got better and better. I think, overall, it's been a pretty good year for Timmy. I don't think the numbers are indicative of how he threw. He's had some tough luck, and thrown some nice ballgames, where we couldn't get him a win. And you look at bum, probably our most consistent start, was good from day 1 all the way through the season. And that caught up us. Earlier, we were scoring enough runs to overcome their struggles, but even as we got into early June, they hadn't hit their stride and gotten on track and our offense slowed down. So I think, overall, you look at it as somewhat of a down year for our five guys.
ogc thoughts
Yeah, with Cain's struggles in the first half, Vogelsong and Zito most of the year, and Lincecum's up and down performances (kind of like a Zito with a much higher strikeout rate), the rotation had a down year, and yet their overall PQS DOM% was still in the 50's%.  Gaudin was a nice fill-in, Lincecum had a lot of DOM starts, but would just give up the key hit that turn that game bad for his ERA.  If we get Lincecum back, he's probably our #4 starter, which is to the next question's point.
Comfortable with No. 3 starter?

Sabean:
We need to add depth. I don't know how the market will play out. But we have another starter on our wish list -- per se -- with or without Timmy.

ogc thoughts
So here, Sabean shares that they are looking for another starter, whether or not they get Lincecum back.   This covers the Giants either way Timmy decides, to leave or return, allowing the Giants to pursue another starter without upsetting Timmy's side that they are moving on from him already.   And the implication of what's said is that they are not comfortable with their #3 starter and that Lincecum is not necessarily that #3 starter even if he is signed.  And the way he has pitched the last two seasons, he's not.

Wish list: One or two starters and a left fielder, in addition to returning Pence?

Sabean:
That's a good start. As you know, the market is not very friendly in terms of depth. And our budget is the budget. I would, to my point earlier, like to get the heavy lifting out of the way, and then fill it out as best we can. But conventional wisdom tells you we need more talent and we need more depth, and however we accomplish that, we're going to try to do that. I don't know how realistic the trade front is going to be. We got real lucky with that the year before. I don't know if those options will present themselves, but we'll be just as diligent that way, too. And not rely on a free agent market that's going to be very difficult to navigate.

ogc thoughts
Basically said that the trade market and free agent market will not be places to expect to find more talent and depth, which don't leave that many options, internally and light upgrades with lower tier free agents.
Future for Gaudin?

Sabean:
Chad's pretty banged up right now, so we have to asses where he's going to be this offseason and what that means going into the market.

ogc thoughts
DrB has noted that that carpel tunnel syndrome does not bode well for Gaudin's future.  Too bad, he pitched great for us while he was with us, both as reliever and starter.  I assume they are going to bring him back, and try to get him back to some semblance of health, but if he leaves, good luck and thanks!

Future for Zito?

Sabean:
Barry, it was good to see him get that start. It was kind of a twist of fate with Bum not being able to go. And as crazy as this sounds, it might to you folks, if I had to do it over again, I would have done what we did to sign Barry Zito. I think we've learned a lot from his time here. And our pitching staff has. And quite frankly, when we needed him the most, he helped us win the World Series. I find great satisfaction and solace in that. He is a great person, he was a great professional in a Giants uniform and he's going to be missed for a lot of reasons.

ogc thoughts
He didn't directly address it, but if he's going to be missed, that means no future for Zito in a Giants uni.  And that's fine with me, he's been one colossal roller coaster ride, and while he has never earned his contract, if you had asked a Giants fan at the time of this signing whether it would be worth giving Zito $126M if that would lead directly to a World Championship, we would have done it in a heartbeat.  And he did, he was a key contributor to the 2012 title and without him, we probably wouldn't have won it.
Thank you Zito, may you and your wife find happiness with all our money.

Lopez fit into heavy lifting?

Sabean:
Well Lopez, we still want to re-sign, so that hasn't changed. He's very key to our bullpen in his flexibility and how Bochy can use him late in the game in leveraged situations.

ogc thoughts
I don't see how the Giants don't re-sign him, probably 2 years at $5.5M per, I can't imagine that he would get the $6M per that Affeldt got, Jeremy can pitch well against all hitters, while Lopez is a LOOGY, albeit, one of the best around, hence he's going to get good money.

Vogelsong fit into heavy lifting?

Sabean:
We're still discussing -- maybe more so because of the budget, nothing to do with Vogey's next start, what it means and to the questions earlier -- how we can build the best and strongest pitching staff, because of what we're up against with the Dodgers staff or with the other four teams that made it into the playoffs from the National League.

ogc thoughts
Hmm, odd that he would bring up budget here, it would imply that the Giants might be looking elsewhere for starters and might let Vogelsong go find a job elsewhere.
Close to making international splash?

Sabean:
I don't know about a splash. It'd probably be a longshot, more the homework being done and getting more immersed in how that market works and how we can get involved.

ogc thoughts
How the Giants can go from a longshot to being the favorite to sign Abreu, according to the latest rumors, seems more like Abreu's side wanting to put some chum in the waters to get the other teams eager to overbid.  In any case, the Giants like to see defense, particularly from their firstbaseman, and Abreu seems like a DH in the making, so I don't see how he's going to end up with the Giants.

2013 season in general? [EDIT:  original had 2012, assume was mistake]

Bochy:
We're all disappointed in how the season turned out for us. We're disappointed were not heading into postseason. And the guys are too. Especially with what's happened here the last three years and the success we've had. Brian touched on some reasons why, I think it's a combination of a lot of things. You know, our pitching not being quite as consistent, our offense struggled, we had trouble catching the ball there for awhile. Now why? These are thing we're working on to get better as we go into the offseason and spring training. The grind that these guys have been through the past three years, it might have caught up with them. They've really been going after it hard, you know, maybe mentally and physically it caught up with them at times here. But I will say, they never stopped. Pence hasn't missed a game, you see the intensity he's playing with. And all of them. I like the way we've been picking it up here in the second half. We have played better ball. We've caught the ball better. We just came off a good series. We had a pretty good road trip our last trip. So it says a lot about them, that they want to finish this up on a good note, a positive note as we go into the offseason. So I do thank them and the fact that what they've been used to, and playing games that haven't quite had the meaning that they have in the past, I like the way they've gotten after it.

ogc thoughts
I guess it is a question that needed to be asked, but I don't know what response they expected to get.   The only piece of info I got from this response is that it confirms, for me, that the Giants focused more on finishing on a good note for 2014, than limping in and getting a great draft pick.  
Given that the odds, as I had calculated them in my study, was roughly the same no matter where they conceivably could have ended up when the month of September started (I recall, roughly 7th to 14th), I guess that was a good call to do, you really need to drop into the Top 5 to get a big jump in the odds.  Plus, DrB and Shankbone has been reporting that the consensus is that this is a deep draft, so again, playing to win didn't really cost them a whole lot, at this moment, though perhaps if they have an eye on someone by next June, being in single digits would be much better position to get such a player...

Will Hector be back in 2014 to back up Buster?

Sabean:
That's up to hector. He's certainly come a long way, he's had a good second half. I don't know how much winter ball he's going to play, and he maybe could use some playing time. It's really up to him. He's certainly got the talent. And we could use the games behind the plate to spell Buster. It worked terrifically in 2012 and it got better for us in the second half when he was locked into being the backup again.

ogc thoughts
Odd answer, really up to the Giants, but I get his point:  the rumor is that Hector came in out of shape, plus he injured his shoulder over the off-season, so it is up to him to come into camp in shape and ready to take on the role that he had in 2012.  Kind of like Pablo after 2010, this is their challenge to Hanchez to step up to the role they want him to take.

When did you realize the season was going south?

Sabean:
I think it was pretty apparent. For some reason, June 1 felt like Aug. 1. The professionalism never waned, the effort never waned, but the execution was lacking. There was a lack of performance, and I think that had to do with the physical and mental fatigue. Having said that, we got resourceful and we were able to get better as we moved along through the second half schedule. And if we win this series, it might not sound like much, but we'll finish .500 for the second half because we finished the first half 10 games under.

Bochy:
Similar to what Brian said, I think you look at June. Not to make an excuse here, but it seemed like once Pagan went down. I've always said this, that it's easy to recover from a position player going down than it is for a pitcher, but we had a tough time recovering from that. And with Scutaro -- dealing with his aches and pains, his back -- we missed that one-two. Those were the guys that we really fed off last year -- our catalysts -- guys that really ignited our offense. And we had a tough time overcoming that. We're not a team that relies on power, so that's when it became hard to stop. And we tried everything, we tried some different things in how we prepared, we just had a tough time stopping it.

ogc thoughts
Too many injuries to our lineup was our downfall, that is something I see missing a lot in discussions about this.  First Pagan, and while Blanco played well there for a while, before going stone cold, Torres did not hit at all nor play LF particularly well, apparently due to an injury that Bochy and the Giants were not aware of, so that was first.  Then, forgot order, but Scutaro had his hammer pinky, Crawford jammed two fingers sliding into a base, and Sandoval hurt himself sliding into a base (and kept on having injuries through the summer, keeping him in a state of post-recovery and trying to get his hitting stroke back).  That's over half the lineup, underperforming, and you can't expect the other three to hit every day either.    And the Giants saw fit to mention that. 

It is good that the Giants realize that was the root cause, because we were winning with our pitching early on even though it was not particularly good, heck, even Pagan was not particularly good.  But then the offense went stone cold for two months, particularly once 1-2 became non-performing, along with 7-8 (Torres-Crawford), and then Posey went cold as well, and that was that.  The hitters should be back next season as long as they get healthy and stay healthy.  Meanwhile. the rotation could take an infusion of talent, particularly with Zito leaving, that gives us a spot for a big upgrade in talent.

Pence's impact? Willie Mac Award winner?

Bochy:
A guy that wins the Willie Mac Award is the most inspiration, and that's what he is. He's really amazing, I don't know another player that I've ever had that's played every game, and not just played, but the way he plays, the intensity he plays with when he shows up every day. He's so popular in the clubhouse. He's full of energy. He's a baseball player. He just loves the game. The passion is there every day. He doesn't back off. There's a pop up yesterday, I don't know who else scores from first base on that but Hunter Pence. He didn't slow down a step. You know, he hits a routine two-hopper to short, and you can probably get the same time going down the line. This is a well-deserved award. It will be an honor for him, I hope he's not listening, because i don't think he knows he won this award yet. But I really haven't been around a player that can do what he does on a daily basis, every day.

ogc thoughts
Yeah, that was pretty amazing that Pence scored from first, I was thinking, "Hey, that's a Willie Mays move!"  He is a good leader, a good leader by example, and that is another part of the reason why the Giants paid him a bit more to stay with us.  Kind of cute that he let the cat out of the bag like that, one of the hazards of holding the meeting before the season ended.

Can you count on bounce back seasons from Scutaro, Vogelsong?

Sabean:
I don't worry about Scutaro. We really have to fill in the blanks with what went haywire with Vogey. He was so good for us last year, and that's the whole team. The effort that they put forth, and the energy they expended, you wonder the residual effects not only into this year but next year. And he's got some mileage. But this guy is a warrior. He's forever found a way to re-invent himself. And if anyone should get a pass about what didn't go right this year, it's certainly him. But I think Scutaro is going to be fine, I really do. We've talked long and hard about what we can do different in spring training to get ready for the season, because this coming spring training, it's really important for us to get it right and to come out of the gate fast and furious and become a factor again.

ogc thoughts
Sounds like they are going to pick up Vogelsong's option, based on what was said here, unlike above.  I mean, that's what is "getting a pass" means, though Sabean did say "should" get a pass, not that he will.  And sometimes warrior horses get brought out back and shot.  That will be one of the more interesting decisions this off-season, whether Vogelsong's option is picked up or not, and if not, do they renegotiate the deal (Baer said that they are not that type of organization, so it sounds like the decision is if we want him, we'll pick up the option, and if we don't  want him, they'll not use the option and let him go. 

Assessing Belt:

Bochy:
He's done what you hope your young players do during a season, and from year to year, and that's improve. That's what he's done. I think from Aug. 17 or 18, he's got the third highest batting average in the National League. He's made some adjustments and he's a better hitter because of it. And he's only going to get better. Now, as far as left field, it's nice to have a player like this that gives you flexibility. He's a good athlete -- he can run, he has a good arm, he played the outfield in college. So if that is something that can help this club, that's a nice option to have. You don't have too many first baseman who you can even think about doing that. Now I can't answer if he'll do it or not now, but as far as the future, this guy is a three-, four-, five-hole type hitter. I think his power is going to increase with these adjustments and I think he's really happy with where he's at right now. He still has some things to work on, but I like where he's at right now.

ogc thoughts
Only going to get better, so I hope that getting Belt signed to a long-term deal is part of the to-do's over the off-season, probably in spring as it has happened in the past.  High praise, good to know what they think, though there is a certain segment of the Giants fanbase that still think that they know what's best for Belt.

Future for Crick?

Sabean:
The problem with someone like Crick is that he finished here with 68 innings, not counting what he did in the playoffs. Even though he'll go to the Arizona Fall League, he'll be in the 100-plus range. Arguably, the next step would be Double-A next year and get him to 130-plus innings. Whether it's him or someone else at the lower level, that next wave is probably 2015.

ogc thoughts
Nice that he turned the question on Crick to the other pitching prospects, naming the next wave as 2015 probably.  And that makes sense, only Escobar is high enough and far along enough in building up their arms for a full MLB season, to maybe break through in 2014, the rest still has some performing and proving to do.  But they are close, very very close.

Still, nice to get their thoughts on Crick, good question.

Thoughts on murder at 3rd and Harrison:

Sabean:
It's sickening. I've got six boys of my own, some of them in their mid 20s. I just can't understand how -- sporting event aside -- society has gotten like this. It was away from the ballpark, but it seemed to be confrontation because, I guess, Giants fans of some form -- even though these guys were not the example of what we think of our fans to be, and probably didn't even go to the game -- got involved with somebody that happened to be a Dodgers fan coming back from the game. It's bizarre to me. I really feel, and we all feel, that it's senseless, and anything we can do as an organization, more so as an industry, the sports industry in general, to get people to realize that this is lunacy. From what I understand of the case, these folks were not part of our fan base and just looking for trouble, and you're going to have that element. That's pretty scary, because I live across the street. I walk these streets 24-7. I always thought San Francisco to be safe, so what's to prevent, as I'm walking alone at midnight or one of my boys are walking back from somewhere, something else couldn't happen. So, very disturbing.

ogc thoughts
Not sure what the beat writer was hoping to get out of this question, what else are they to say?

How do you balance overhauling the roster?

Sabean:
The longer you do this, at least in my position, you're forever surprised or scratching your head. I thought our chance to repeat in the short team was 2011. And that got sidetracked with Buster going down. I might have been the most surprised person in the world, or in the organization, that that we won last year, maybe more so in the fashion we won. And that team was retooled or redefined from the 2010 team. I didn't go into this year blindly, because what we were trying to do was get one more year from the group at hand in the window we were in. And it just didn't work, for a lot of reasons. So, to your point Baggs, we're going to look at any way and every way to not only get our people back who we think are important going forward and more so get a fresh look for this. And if that's someone from the outside that is within the budget, we'll do that. And if that means pushing some of the younger players, we're prepared to do that too. It's safe to say the window, with the group at hand, is closed. Now we've got to create a new window immediately. And that's the task at hand.

ogc thoughts
One window closes, another one opens....   Looks like one window was 2010-11, and they were able to squeeze out another in the 2012-13 window, but the next window starts 2014 but could be whole new window in 2015 depending on how many of their pitchers mature and matriculate to the majors.   For 2012, the biggest changes was the lineup, but for the next window, the big changes will be the rotation, with only two guys likely to return due to contracts (Cain and Bumgarner got contracts, but you never know), plus might lose Lincecum or Vogelsong, depending on how negotiations go, and with at least one starter most probably to be from the outside, Sabean's note that no matter what happens with Lincecum, they are going to get another starter.

There is one particularly interesting name.  I don't know what Kuroda's plans are, but if he wants to return to the West Coast, I would love for him to pitch for the Giants.  It will depend on what he wants in a salary and if the Yankees QO him, he can forget about finding another playoff competitive team to sign him, he is only interested in one year deals, and no team would want to lose a first round draft pick for one year of his pitching.  So he might get some interest by January, when there might be some teams who already gave up a pick to sign someone else, then they might not mind giving up a second round pick for him, but the Giants most likely is not giving up their first round draft pick when it is in the first half of the first round.  But for a one year deal, with no lost of pick, color me very interested in picking him up.

There are other interesting names.  Josh Johnson came back from injury to pitch well initially, then falling apart, so maybe the Giants take a flier on him.  But missing most of two of the last three seasons is not the greatest resume, so I would think the Giants would only pursue him if it's a minor league deal, and I think another team would give him a better deal.  Ubaldo is interesting too, but his great season probably puts his contract demands out of the Giants range, but if he's still around by January, his price might be down enough.  Ricky Nolasco had a great season, but 1) LAD probably resigns him, and 2) in any case, his agents will want something in line with what he did this season, and not what he did in the ENTIRETY of his career before.  But again, if he's around in Jan...  Lastly, Bronson Arroyo is a name that pops up.  It depends on what he wants, as he's 37 YO for next season, but just made $16.4M and he pitched as well as before.  He probably gets a QO, in which case, no, but if he's still around in February, maybe the Giants might be interested in a one year deal.  But he probably wants a 3 years deal.  

There are some tarnished stars too, who won't be getting such large contracts going forward probably, and perhaps a flier for low $ would work and that's our mid-rotation guy, maybe with upside.  I would not mind a flier with Roy Halliday, as he is recovering from injuries the past two seasons, and probably not going to get a lot of great offers, maybe a one year deal for $2-3M could satisfy him enough, though probably another team would offer more, but you never know, his numbers are scary.  But we picked up The Big Unit for a low one year deal, so you never know.  Dan Haren has had a number of bad years, though good to great K/BB, so he would be interesting too.  Roy Oswalt, wow, just batting practice numbers but meanwhile still great K/9 and K/BB, that's something the Giants could work with and he has not pitched much the past two seasons, a flier with him (probably more #5 starter) would not be the worse thing. 

Then there are those who get close but never quite get there.  Edinson Volquez has great K/9 but a bit wild, and the Giants have the pitcher whisperers in Tidrow and Raggs who maybe can help him make the jump.  His numbers are not really that great, so he should be available on the cheap.   But the Dodgers might work to keep him around.  Then again, they left him off the playoff roster so he might not want to come back.   Another is Phil Hughes, good enough K/9, great K/BB, but he just gives up too many homers, plus a bit too many hits.  The Giants seem supernaturally good at suppressing homers, so this would be a good place for him to end up, and talk with our pitching whisperers.  But he might want too much given that he's not that good but got $7.15M this season.  But his road numbers are pretty good, and his homer-itis has been all about pitching in Yankee Stadium, not on the road. 

I think I like Volquez the best right now, for overall view, combining performance and cost.  But in terms of pitching, Kuroda would be the best.  In terms of pitching and cost, Phil Hughes probably looks the best bet to take for pitching over Volquez (I credit Shankbone for pointing him out to me, else I probably would have passed him by in the list of free agents), but I'm worried he might get too big a deal for my tastes, so I expect Volquez to be the best deal overall.  I would probably be happy with any of those three as a pickup.  Haren is probably fourth then Oswalt, both have question marks that age makes worse (hence why Halliday is not included on my list here, though he would be a huge question market, bigger than these two, in my view) and I would be OK with their pickup, but still not feeling sure about our rotation with their addition. 

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