Sunday, November 02, 2014

They Might Not Be Giants

The constant is change in the three recent San Francisco Giants world championship teams.  At the same time, the teamwork and clubhouse attitudes were at the core of the team's success.  Manager Bruce Bochy is known for his loyalty to his players, and GM Brian Sabean is known for going the extra mile to re-sign his best players.

Still, next year's team is bound to be different.  Among the free agents now are pitchers Jake Peavy, Ryan Vogelsong and Sergio Romo.  Jeremy Affeldt nears the end of his two year deal.  Position players include Michael Morse and the one everyone is talking about, Pablo Sandoval.

There was a lot of "this may be the last time in a Giants uniform" in the World Series, but negotiations start with Sandoval's uninhibited declaration that he wants to remain a Giant for the rest of his career.

Who could blame him?  Among the best fans in baseball come to watch "the Panda", he's a beloved player even when he's not playing all that well, his teammates and the culture of the clubhouse are nurturing and fun, and he's on a persistent winner.

Fortunately for the Giants, they've already signed Madison Bumgarner, or they might not be able to afford anyone else.

It seems likely that the Giants will want to resign Romo and Morse.  But Bumgarner's dominance can't long mask the problems the Giants have with their starting pitching rotation for next year.  Peavy and Vogelsong, as well as Hudson and Lincecum are big question marks in terms of coming back. Nobody knows how effective Matt Cain will be, coming back from his injury.  That's a lot of spots to fill.

The relief corps may also need to be refreshed.  Affeldt had a rocky season but he was stalwart in the postseason, so he'll be back.  Hunter Strickland demonstrated that he's not quite ready for prime time, so he probably won't, at least to start the season.

The rookies that the Giants would be nuts not to hold onto are Joe Panik, who can be their second baseman for the next decade, and Andrew Susac, who didn't play in the Series but showed signs of being a good backup catcher and pinch hitter, who can spell Buster Posey behind the plate during the season.

But this is going to be an active offseason for the Giants management.  Signing Sandoval is their first priority, but that's just the start.  The starters is where the real problems are.