With pitchers and catchers set to report to Scottsdale on Wednesday, followed by their first workout on Thursday, Spring Training is officially upon us. Finally, in our next post, we'll actually have some on-field happenings to discuss!
It was a relatively quiet offseason for baseball this winter, as the free agent market wasn't stocked with big name talent, but there was a big bat (Jason Bay) and a few aces (Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee) who will be in new places in 2010. It seemed like this years' market was flooded with players who either were injured or had sub-par years in 2009. With the market as shallow as it was, the Giants didn't get involved with any of the bigger names on the market, and wisely stuck to the second-tiere of free agents this winter to help upgrade their offense. They didn't trade for an Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder, or get involved in the Matt Holliday or Jason Bay contract talks, but they did bring in a couple of bats in Aubrey Huff and Mark DeRosa, who should definitely help their offense and won't hurt their budget. They also returned a few guys who were very key to last years success in Bengie Molina and Juan Uribe. With the addition of Huff and DeRosa, it will enable the Giants to move Molina down in the order, where his lack of speed is easier to place. Huff is coming off a down year and DeRosa is coming off of a rough 2nd half of last year, so they will have their doubters and definitely have something to prove in 2010. All that being said, I expect both to be positive additions to the team this year, especially at the salary they're being paid.
Other than Huff and DeRosa, there weren't many changes made by the Giants this winter. They recently added right-handers Guillermo Mota and Todd Wellemeyer on minor league deals and I'm expecting at least one of those guys to break north with the big club to start the season. Wellemeyer will provide insurance in case 20 year-old Madison Bumgarner isn't quite ready for the full-time fifth starters spot. Mota should take Bobby Howry's role from last season and provide an overall young bullpen with a veteran presence. The Giants could still be in search for another reliever or two, to add depth if nothing else, during the spring. There are still some arms that are desperately seeking employment as spring training begins, including relievers Chan Ho Park, Kiko Calero and Joe Beimel as well as starter Jarrod Washburn. Also, there is one position player out there who I'd like to see the Giants take a shot on, and that guy is Rocco Baldelli. He could give the outfield some depth and provide a right-handed option to spell Nate Schierholtz in rightfield. He's a guy who could really make sense for this team and could still be a stud if he can stay on the field, and he did finish up last season healthy. Jermaine Dye (bay area native) as a fourth outfielder/first basemen wouldn't be the worst addition either.
So, overall, I can't really complain about the Giants game plan for this offseason. To cap things off, they avoided arbitration for the next 2 years with Tim Lincecum by inking him to a 2-year deal, which was the perfect way to end the offseason. They didn't spend money that will handicap them in the future, and they managed to get some players in who should help them out if they play up to their career standards. They may not pan out, but if they don't, it won't be an Edgar Renteria/Dave Roberts like, multi-year mistake. I would have liked to see them bring in Xavier Nady and Adam LaRoche instead of DeRosa and Huff, but LaRoche wouldn't sign here, and Nady's elbow must not be at %100 cause he's a rock solid hitter, and he generated very little interest in a think free agent market... Are DeRosa and Huff enough to get the Giants into the playoffs? Probably not, but they will help, and if guys like Renteria, Rowand and Freddy Sanchez can rebound from last year, things will definitely be looking up for the Giants in 2010!
Trevor Cole http://giantsbaseballblog.blogspot.com/