The Giants' season is over. The race ended after the Giants failed to execute in a do-or-die series against the Chicago cubs. The club ended the year on a high note, sweeping Arizona and taking the final series of the year from the Padres.
Now begins the long winter and off-season.
The club has some questions it needs to answer. What is going to become of Bengie Molina and Randy Winn? Both veterans are up for free agency this year. I, personally, would like to see them both go. Winn has had some great years with the Giants, but his lack of power and his pathetic batting average this year has made me want to part ways. I am not sure how I feel about Benjie Molina. What I really want to see is Buster Posey playing, however many people around the Giants community believe he needs another year down in the minors. I am a little skeptical about that: we brought up Pablo very quickly. Lincecum as well. At the most, I would suggest playing him in the minors until the All-star break.
That brings me to Randy Johnson. I really enjoyed having this great baseball player on my team. The fact that he got his 300th win as a Giant is very special and I am glad he shared that achievement with us and made it part of Giants history. That said, the man got hurt and basically missed half the season. At his age it is doubtful he can return to playing at the level he did before the injury. I suggest cutting ties with him. Where would that leave our rotation?
Well, I would suggest that the Giants resign Brad Penny. This guy is a thug. I love his in-your-face attitude. We need a lot of that in our club. I cannot begin to gripe about how much I hated seeing the Giants completely collapse once they ran into some trouble. Come-from-behind victories were few and far between for the 2009 Giants. With a guy like Brad Penny riling up the club, perhaps we would see more fight in them. I would like to send Johnson to another team while, resigning Brad Penny. If we kept Bumgarner up we could have a rotation like:
This would also give us flexibility to trade Sanchez to another team, perhaps as a package with some minor league prospects, or with Aaron Roward or Edgar Renteria, for a better bat. There are a couple possibilities for offensive production that come to mind, and that I think might be some good choices for the Giants.
Bradley might seem like a strange choice. I like to call him the Terrell Owens of baseball. The guy has been in numerous scandals throughout his career. He made inflammatory remarks about his current team, the Cubs, calling the fans racist and questioning why they have not won the World Series in over 100 years. He did not have a great 2009 season with the Cubs. He had a less than impressive .257 batting average and only 12 homeruns. However, looking at his 2008 year with Texas, he puts up very impressive numbers: .321 avg; 22 HR; .436 OBP; .563 SLG.
I do not know why Bradley's numbers dipped this year. It might have a lot to do with the fact that he is a drama queen: he was unhappy in Chicago and the way he play reflected that. Or perhaps he was unhappy in Chicago because his numbers are declining. It is difficult to tell what is causing what. There is also talk that the Cubs' GM would like to swap Bradley's contract for another bad one, so that he can rid his club of Bradley. The Giants could jump on that and offer up Rowand for Bradley. If that were the case, I would be all for it. I cannot stand Aaron Rowand that much.
In the end I am iffy on Bradley. I do not want a temper-mental drama-queen on the team who will risk ruining the great chemistry we have built in San Francsico. We also have a long and proud tradition in SF of acquiring 30-something players who have declining past their prime, yet still pay them the big-bucks (See Edgar Renteria). On the other hand, we might get lucky and have a great player who wants to be a winner.
Aoki is a Japanese star with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, who has expressed an interest in playing in Major League Baseball. Aoki has a combined OBI of over .400 in five seasons with the Swallows. He also is the proud owner of a career .332 avg and a three-time golden glove winner. There is no doubt: Aoki can field and he can hit.
The problem? He is Japanese. Players like Aoki, who are good enough to make the jump across the pond, usually come at a high-price, especially if they are the real deal. The other concern is that the good numbers posted by Aoki in Japan's league is not necessarily an indicator of how well he will play in the United States. It would be thoroughly embarrassing if the Giants shelled out good money for Aoki and he ended up a dude. However, if he became the next Ichiro, the Giants could be playing in the post-season next year.
I also think signing a big-name Japanese player could be a great marketing scheme. If the Giants signed him to a big multi-year contract, and the guy produced, he would become a fan favorite quickly, especially in a very diverse city like San Francisco, which also has a very large and proud Asian-American community. A Japanese star would put some buts in seats, no doubt.
Aoki is describe as a contact-hitter, which is exactly what we need on the Giants and at ATT park. ATT is known for suppressing homeruns, so I don't necessarily want the Giants to get another Bonds. I want the Giants to have a contact hitter that can place the ball in our deadly triples-alley. I have always yearned for a batter with Ichiro Suzuki's finesse, to place the ball in that gap. With Aoki as out lead-off man we might be seeine a fair amount of lead-off doubles and triples.
Defensively, Aoki is a great outfielder. He plays centerfield, which would be great for the Giants, since I would love to see Aaron Rowand off our team. If Rowand stays (because we cannot trade him away), then we could pluck Aoki in left or right field. All in all, I would love to see this guy in a Giants uniform.
This man needs no introduction. The Prince won the homerun derby in 2009, batted .299 in the same year, had 46 HRs, and owns a .602 SLG. The problem with Fielder is that he is so damn good, and proven to be a reliable player. Fielder will come a huge cost. I imagine the Brewers would want nothing less than a pitcher like Matt Cain plus something more for Fielder. Few Giants fans would be willing to give up Cain for anyone. In my opinion, Lincecum and Cain are simply untouchable. They are the cornerstone to the franchise, and if you trade them away you are ruining this team's near future. For the price, I think the Prince can go elsewhere.
What is so good about Upton? First off, Upton is a young guy. He would fit in well with the Giants' youth-movement. Because he is young and promising, I would not be opposed to signing him for a decent contract for three or four years. Upton has a career batting avg of .288 and a .410 SLG. Upton is also able to make contact with the ball when he should: 82.3% Z-Contact%. Upton also has post-season experience, and was part of Tampa Bay squad that made it to the 2008 World Series. Such experience would prove to be valuable to a squad of young guys making a playoff run.
So, what would we need to do to get Upton? I think the Giants could offer a package to Tampa Bay for Upton. If we sign Penny and bring up Bumgarner we could off Lewis, Sanchez, and Ishikawa to Tampa Bay. Sanchez will be a great pitcher soon, and perhaps his break-out year will be the next one. Tampa Bay may want to take advantage of that, and Lewis and Ishikawa, while not great, are decent players to cushion the Sanchez deal.