My first act as the Giants' general manager for a day is to thank a higher power that I have Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, and Madison Bumgarner in my starting rotation. With those four pitchers in tow, anything is possible, even a World Series championship with an otherwise ordinary roster, as the underdog Giants proved in beating the Braves, Phillies, and Rangers in the recently-completed postseason.

I won't get a World Series ring out of San Francisco's success in riding those four starters to the title two weeks ago, but my task during my day as Brian Sabean's understudy is to try to put the franchise in position to win another championship next year. After all, the Giants are allowed to be greedy after being in San Francisco for 54 years before finally winning a World Series.

The Giants have six players who are now free agents, and eight more eligible for arbitration. Thus, there is work to do, especially because the payroll isn't likely to rise much more than 10 percent over the $98 million it was on Opening Day last season.

The six free agents are right-handed reliever Guillermo Mota, first baseman Aubrey Huff, shortstop Edgar Renteria, infielder Juan Uribe, left fielder Pat Burrell, and outfielder Jose Guillen. Of those six, there is only one I feel is essential to retain, and it might not be the one many people might suspect.

The guy I would re-sign is Uribe, both because he has some pop, and because he can play second base, third base, and shortstop. Uribe's True Average was a lackluster .266 last season, but his 24 home runs ranked second on the team to Huff's 26. Because we need to have at least one player who can hit the ball out of the park, it's going to be Uribe because the other four free-agent hitters can be replaced internally.

The first-base hole that would be vacated by Huff could be filled one in one of two ways, either by making Travis Ishikawa the starter, or by shifting rotund third baseman Pablo Sandoval across the diamond while plugging Mark DeRosa—who lost most of 2010 to elbow surgery—-in at the hot corner.  While it would be tough to say goodbye to Huff following a season in which he had a .316 TAv and 6.1 WARP, both were career highs, and it's hard to imagine him replicating that feat as a 34-year-old in 2011.

Uribe would become the everyday shortstop in Renteria's stead, rather than playing the super-utility role. Though Renteria provided the winning hit in the World Series, he is clearly at the end of the line, and it is time to cut ties after he was already overpaid at $18 million over the last two seasons.

Finally, Aaron Rowand would be reinstated to the starting lineup in left field to take Burrell's spot, while Andres Torres, who replaced Rowand last season, would remain in center. Why dump Burrell after he had a .304 TAv in 341 plate appearances following his release by the Rays in May? Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I'd bid farewell to the easily-replaced Mota and Guillen, who is ensnared in a performance-enhancing drug scandal for the second time in his career after providing just a .254 TAv and a replacement-level 0.0 WARP in 139 plate appearances following his arrival in a trade from the Royals last season.

While nine arbitration-eligible players is a lot, the only one I would not tender a contract is infielder Mike Fontenot. His inability to play shortstop means that he can't replace Uribe as the primary back-up infielder, and I'll instead cast my lot either in-house with Emmanuel Burriss, or outside the organization with a low-level free agent.

Tendering Sanchez, Torres and right fielder Cody "The New Mr. October" Ross are easy decisions. I will also take a low-level gamble and retain all four arbitration-eligible relievers—left-hander Javier Lopez and right-handers Santiago Casilla, Ramon Ramirez, and Chris Ray—in an attempt to keep the bridge between the starters and closer Brian Wilson as sturdy as possible.

So, we've gotten through the free agents and arbitration-eligibles and what we've primarily achieved is subtracting three players who were regulars in the postseason. At this point, you have every right to wonder exactly what I'm trying to do.

Well, what I've done is set the stage for a big strike, one that might surprise a few people around baseball. I'm going to take some of the money we made by playing 15 post-season games, and some of the cash we saved by bidding adieu to Huff, Renteria and Burrell, and go to owner Bill Neukom's office.

First, I'm going to ask Neukom what the secret is to having such a full head of hair at his age. Then I'm going to hit him up for some extra funds so I can pursue a special player that would greatly help our chances of remaining a championship-level club.

After using the power of persuasion to get Neukom to agree, I'm going to put a full-court press on free-agent left fielder Carl Crawford. I'm going to sell him on the virtues of coming to a franchise that is coming off a World Series victory. I'm going to convince him that he possesses the bat, speed, and defensive ability that would allow us to leverage that young pitching into having a great opportunity to win multiple championships while playing in front of a great fan base in a crown jewel of a ballpark in one of the world's greatest cities.

Perhaps it's a pipe dream, but I don't think so. In fact, I believe it wouldn't be all that difficult to lure Crawford to San Francisco after spending his whole career playing in front of empty seats at Tropicana Field.

Adding Crawford to the lineup in left field would also provide depth, as Rowand or Torres could go back to the bench. It would give the Giants a lineup that looks like this:

C: Buster Posey
1B: Pablo Sandoval
2B: Freddy Sanchez
3B: Mark DeRosa
SS: Juan Uribe
LF: Carl Crawford
CF: Aaron Rowand or Andres Torres
RF: Cody Ross

No, it's not the modern-day version of Murderer's Row, and it may not even be league-average. However, it is good enough to support a great pitching staff and continue to give the Giants a good chance to play deep into October.

So when Crawford leads the Giants to a second consecutive title next fall, I'll be patiently waiting at the mailbox every day for my first World Series ring to arrive. It might only be made of cubic zirconia, but I won't complain, having spent just 24 hours on the job.

You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
I think this matches up pretty well with what Giants fans would like to see. Only question is how expensive Uribe would get on the open market. If the bidding on him gets into the $9M+/yr range, I'd duck out of that, take the sandwich pick for his Type B free agency, and look at lower level guys. The team caught lightning in a bottle with Huff during the year and with Ross in the playoffs. I think the key again will be to find pieces on the cheap during the season to increase Bochy's odds of finding that hot player at the right time. There should be plenty of Burrells and Ross's out there in the bargain bin. But I agree that Carl Crawford is the perfect fit at the perfect time for this team. You think 5 years/$100M does the job? If so, it should be an easy choice.
If I was satisfied with having Mark Cain in my rotation, I'd be on the horn asking Brian Sabean if I could send him a nice box of baseballs for Matt Cain. :-)
Forgive me if I'm missing the purpose of the article, but I'm hoping one of the few offensive prospects we've developed recently - Brandon Belt - will get a long look this Spring. With him at 1B, this could change the offensive landscape quite a bit. Regardless, the Giants are likely to once again have one of the most flexible lineups in the league with so many multi-position players.
Ideal world would have Belt at 1B, good Panda at 3B, and DeRosa being the super sub everywhere on the field.
No way I offer CRay arbitration. He is easily replaceable. Save that $1+ million.
You also left out ditching Rowand at any cost. He did the good veteran routine this year, but he will not be content with the same role next year.
You're correct to pass on Huff, but you didnt mention Brandon Belt as a reason. Let Ishikawa play for a couple months to delay Belt's arb clock then bring him up to stay. A stud in the making and much cheaper than Huff. Agree with you on Uribe, the ss market is very thin. I'm hoping the Giants make a play for the Japanese ss, forget his name. You gotta bank on Panda improving from 2010, and leave him at 3b where his bat has most value. No Rowand ever as a starter at any of the three positions period. An injury or offday replacement for Torres only. Need I repeat myself. And of course they should pursue an outfield corner very very hard you are right. I think they need to hedge against Crawford by engaging WErth actively too. Either one would do, Werth is better suited to hit bombs in that park and may come with a contract a couple years shorter. But those are the only two worth having, and they should, nay must, go after them hard.
As for the reliever arb eligibles they should pass on Ramirez and Ray, both suck. Ramirez has some utitlity as a roogy but they can do better giving a spot of theirs to Runzler and a waiver wire minimum salary claim. Agree that they should offer arb to Casilla and Lopez, both studs.
Crawford scares me. He doesn't have a ton of power, nor does he walk much. So much of his value lies in his legs, I'd be nervous about locking him up for 5+ years beginning with his age 30 season. The 4-7th years of his deal could end up looking ugly for whatever team signs him. Given that Werth will probably sign a shorter contract and has better 'old player' skills, I think I'd rather sign him if we are making a big splash with an OFer. Werth has power, walks twice as much as Crawford, and plays decent OF defense. If Huff would take a One year deal with a one year option, I'd jump on that. Try and get one more usable year out of the guy, and if he isn't performing, plug in Belt. If he won't come back on a one year deal, then it's Panda or Belt. Sounds like the Giants are taking a hard line with Pablo's conditioning, and I think it's the right approach. Tell him that if he gets fit-ish and plays okay in ST the job is his, with DeRosa in a super utility role. If he comes into ST out of shape, start the year with DeRosa at the hot corner.
"Rowand or Torres could go back to the bench" If the Braves get another outfielder, either Melky Cabrera or Jason Heyward could go back to the bench.
First thing I'd do is get Pablo Sandoval a personal trainer. Seriously. He's a lovable dude but the drop-off in productivity is alarming. Another half-season of that and you won't be able to get a grade-B double-A arm for him in trade. (And with an injury-prone DeRosa at third and Expando-Panda at first, I'm far from sold on letting go of Huff.)
I'm assuming that you're not even considering trying to move Barry Zito's contract. Not that it's possible, but you only mentioned the 1-4 starters, and Zack Wheeler is a few years away still.
I think most Giants fans would want Brandon Belt in the mix at first, if not at the beginning of the season, then soon thereafter. Especially if the alternative is playing DeRosa every day. Crawford is going to take such a long-term contract that I'm not sure I'd want to sign up for that. But he is damn good.
Banking on Sandoval is insane. He did everything he could to eat his way off the roster, even enjoying a breakfast of Cheetos and Mountain Dew during the World Series. They tried to get him in shape last year, remember "Camp Panda" ? Lotta good that did. Even if he is just going to be a bridge to Belt, that's not enough. Banking on DeRosa is also insane, but what choice to they have? Thanks Brian Sabean! Maybe trading for or signing players KNOWN to be injured isn't such a great idea (he did the same with Freddy Sanchez). Is there any indication that DeRosa's wrist is ok? What they ought to do is cut Huff, unless you can get him for just one year. Otherwise, he's gone. Also cut or demote the totally worthless Ishikawa, and sign a cheap LaRoche 1B type, anyone league-average to hold down first until Belt is ready.
huff will not take a 1 year deal
Uribe yes Werth over Crawford if it is similar money Huff---one year, Belt to follow Panda backup at 3b and 1B unless proves self Rowand no
The Giants won't completely pass on Huff -- he'll get at least a two-year offer. Some other GM will have to blow him away with an offer. Whatever he ends up getting, he likely won't be worth it, but as a long time Giants fan, every time I hear the word 'thong' or see Aubrey come up to the plate (in whatever uniform next year), I will have smile on my face.
they need to look into bartlett or scutaro as a one year stop gap to brandon crawford and hope the kids bat steps it up in 2011. Either one of those three guys can be gotten for a second tier prospect
Am I the only one who thinks Jayson Werth is a better investment for this team than Crawford? Granted, speed ages well etc., but this lineup needs power and discipline, not to mention a defender who can handle the park's particularly tricky RF pasture. Bring Burrell back on a favorable deal and let him be okay-ish in LF. Huge net upgrade offensively and defensively.
Given that the current team did in fact win the World Series, and the 2nd half additions were the primary reason, I'd be pretty reluctant to make major changes. They do need to find a way to resign Uribe as the Giants options at short stop are pretty limited. The primary task should be to try to find somebody willing to take on 1/2 of Rowand's remaining contract. They certainly won't find anybody willing to take on all of it. The savings from that, and from allowing Renteria to move on should allow the Giants to resign Uribe, Ross, Huff, and possibly Burrell and still stay under $110m. If Burrell doesn't have anything left, then hopefully Brandon Belt is ready.