Turning on the Hot Stove: Giants Edition
I know I still don’t feel like talking about next season yet unless the words “defending World Series Champions” are involved. So I’ll reconcile these feelings by talking about what mix of players will help the Giants defend their World Series title. It may still feel strange to be able to say that finally, but I love it all the same.
The first item of news that probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone is that the Giants declined the $9.5 million option on World Series MVP Edgar Renteria, opting instead for a $500,000 buyout of his contract. There have been mutterings of bringing Edgar back as a utility player, which I know I wouldn’t be totally opposed to for the right price (think one year deal worth $1-2 million).
That said, it’d be great to see Edgar retire now, fresh off of his 2nd World Series trophy. He’s oft-injured, losing range at shortstop, and getting up there in terms of age (he’ll be 35 next August). My biggest fear is that he comes back on a small deal, hits under .200 in limited playing time and forces the Giants to DFA him midseason. I have enough respect for the guy that I’d want to see him go out on his own terms, not slinking out the back door.
The next order of business is Aubrey Huff. According to a report from the Associated Press, Huff would like nothing more than to return:
“Oh, absolutely, without question. I won a World Series here. I’ve been in last place my whole life. I won a World Series. The fans are crazy. You’d be an idiot not to want to come back here. I love it. I’ve been on five different teams. I liked them but I didn’t love them. I love this place.”
It’s hard not to want Aubrey back given his exploits this season. Put him on a cheap deal worth of a 33 year-old first-baseman (2 years, $5-7 million annually) and you can color me happy.
Other free agents next season include Pat Burrell, Juan Uribe, and Cody Ross, all guys who were integral parts of the 2010 championship. If Burrell and Uribe were to come back, it’d likely be on a short term team-friendly deal, while Ross would probably get multiple years and a healthy discount given his history as a utility player extraordinaire as well as his relative youth (he’ll be 30 in December).
In terms of the free agent market as it stands now, Brian Sabean came out and made it clear that the Giants wouldn’t be spending on the larger-name guys like Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford, and Cliff Lee. Even so, there have been whisperings that the Giants might try to free up some money by sending Aaron Rowand back to Philadelphia, which would also create a vacancy in the outfield.
Pitching-wise, this team is set for a long time. All five guys in the rotation are locked up for years to come (Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner, Zito), while minor leaguers Eric Surkamp (3.11 ERA, 9.59 K/9, 1.00 WHIP in 2010) and Zach Wheeler (3.99 ERA, 10.74 K/9, 1.45 WHIP) groom themselves for the Majors. The bullpen has the same luxury, returning at the very least Wilson, Romo, Affeldt, Ramirez and Runzler, with guys like Santiago Casilla, and Chris Ray likely to be tendered contracts.
On the whole, the future looks bright. Brandon Belt, considered by many to be one of the best hitting prospects in the minor leagues (.352/.455/.620, 23 home runs, 22 SB, among three levels in 2010), seems ready to try his luck at the next level. He’ll likely warrant a mid-season call-up should he continue to rake at Fresno. The only question is where he’ll play, as he’s split time between first-base and left field as a way to improve his versatility and speed his path to the Big Leagues.
Now that that’s out of the way, I can go back to thinking about how the Giants won the World Series. In case you were wondering, the Giants did indeed win the World Series. I can prove it. Go to ESPN.com. Pick up an issue of the latest Sports Illustrated. Go into the archives of Croix De Candlestick. It’s all there. Unequivocal proof that it really happened. Wow.