Baseball's annual winter meetings got started on Monday in Indianapolis, and the Giants have been talked about just as much as any other teams as they search for ways to improve their meager offense.
The Giants enter the meetings in need of a couple corner outfielders, a corner infielder and a catcher who can bridge the gap from Bengie Molina to Buster Posey. Brian Sabean stated before he left for the meetings that the Giants would not get involved in the bidding for the top dogs on the free agent market, Jason Bay and Matt  Holliday. Not only would those guys cost the Giants their top pick in next Junes amateur draft, they're also both seeking deals in the neighborhood of the 100 million dollar range. Instead, Sabean is likely focusing on outfielders such as Jermaine Dye, Xavier Nady and Johnny Damon. I was a little surprised at the interest in Damon at first, but after looking at it a little longer, I've begin to see some logic in adding Damon. The Giants need a leadoff hitter, and Damon can do that and do it well, even if his power numbers wouldn't be as good in SF as they were in New York. As it stands now, they're leadoff options would be Edgar Renteria, Freddy Sanchez and possibly Fred Lewis. Eugenio Velez ended the year as the leadoff guy for the Giants and did a respectable job, but I don't think the Giants envision Velez as an everyday guy. So, looking at the free agent market, the best remaining leadoff option now that Chone Figgins has signed (4 yr., $36 million with Seattle) is Johnny Damon. Damon is coming off a solid season in which he hit 24 home runs, drove in 82 runs and scored 107 times at the top of the World Champion Yankee lineup.
If the Giants could get Damon on a reasonable deal, then I then it would make some since, especially if they can still manage to get a power hitter or two to fill out the rest of the lineup. I really like Xavier Nady and the potential numbers he could put up in this park. I'd take him over Jermaine Dye because Nady's younger and better defensively. Nady also could provide Bruce Bochy the flexibility to play him at first base when needed, and his best seasons are still ahead of him. The only question mark I have with Nady is his ability to play a full season. He's played over 125 games in a year just one time in his career, and the one thing the Giants cannot afford to do is add a player to a long-term deal who's going to hit the DL a couple of times per year.
There's a sleeper in the outfield mix that I think could help the Giants out, and that sleeper is Rick Ankiel. He's a left-handed bat which means his power numbers would take a bit of hit playing in SF, but he's a guy who's now entering his third full season as a MLB outfielder, and I think he could be primed for a breakout. He pulled an Aaron Rowand and crashed into the outfield wall at full speed which cost him a portion of his 2009 season. It was apparent that he wasn't quite the same player after coming back from that. His '07 (.285, 11 HR, 39 RBI in 171 AB's) and '08 (.264, 25 HR, 71 RBI, .843 OPS) seasons showed a player on the rise. He's also a sound defensive outfielder with one of the better arms in the game. He could spell, or platoon with Aaron Rowand in center field and can play either corner outfield spot.
As far as the infielders go, there are some options out there for the Giants. I'm sure most Giants fans have heard or read about their teams interest in Dan Uggla, and apparently Sabean  is working night and day to figure out a way to get the second basemen without parting with Madison Bumgarner, who the Marlins apparently covet. Adding Uggla to the mix while also adding a few outfielders could really turn the Giants offense. If the Giants can't swing a trade with Florida, some free agents who they may turn to are Adrian Beltre, Mark DeRosa, Miguel Tejada, Felipe Lopez, Nick Johnson and Adam LaRoche. Tejada, Beltre or DeRosa would play third, moving Sandoval over to first, or Johnson and LaRoche would play first, keeping Sandoval at third. Lopez is an interesting player because he could play both short and second. I don't think the Giants are really looking at him too closely, but he could hit leadoff for them if acquired, and provide insurance for the fragile and aging Edgar Renteria. The only guy I really like out of that bunch besides Uggla though is Adam LaRoche, and I know how left-handed power hitters shy away from coming to SF. Whether they make a move or not, I think we'll have a much clearer perspective on who the new additions could be after the Winter Meetings end on Thursday.
Daily Winter Meetings Postings: With the winter meetings in full-swing and running through December 10th, we'll likely be posting something each day throughout the meetings. We'll be having daily updates, monitoring the the happenings at the meetings. So check back tomorrow for more news and a look at some catchers that could be in the Giants' plans!
-Trevor Cole -The Giants Baseball Blog