Julian: In the case of Torres, I think it’s a no-brainer that the Giants should tender him a contract. Sure, he’s had a disappointing season (though he’s still been worth 1.6 fWAR over ~350 PA), but he’s still a very useful player — even if only as a fourth outfielder (though, for the record, I’m on board with giving him regular playing time in 2011). Aaron Rowand’s gone, and Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, and Carlos Beltran will all be leaving for free agency — so the Giants’ outfield is going to be pretty thin entering the offseason.
Jonathan Sanchez is a tougher one. He, too, has had a disappointing season — though the drop-off’s not incredibly steep: he’s gone from a 100 FIP- in 2010, to 111 in 2011. I’m assuming he’d cost something in the range of $6MM through arbitration. With lots of questions surrounding Barry Zito (and Eric Surkamp, for that matter), I think the Giants should tender Jonathan Sanchez a contract. Whether they will, well, that remains to be seen. I think what Surkamp does in September will certainly play a role in that though.
Zachary: Keeping Torres for next year is a no-brainer, even though he presumably doesn’t fit into the Giants’ long-term plans. While it’s clear that we aren’t going to see a repeat of 2010, I’m optimistic enough to believe that he could rediscover his power stroke. With Beltran, Burrell, and Ross all seemingly leaving (or in Burrell’s case, retiring), the real question will be if Torres can fill a starting role. If everything goes right, he could be a 2-3 WAR center fielder who keeps the seat warm until Gary Brown is ready at some point in 2013. If he struggles, he’s still a cheap 4th outfielder who provides speed and defense off the bench, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The Jonathan Sanchez situation is a bit trickier. If we start by assuming that Lincecum, Cain, and Bumgarner are locks for next year, we’re left with Vogelsong, Zito, Sanchez, and Surkamp — four guys competing for two spots. Even though I’m not really comfortable predicting success for Vogelsong in the future, the reality is that he will stay in the 4th spot until he implodes. Next. Surkamp needs to prove that he’s clearly better than his competition to stay, and even then, he may kept down simply to preserve depth. Next. Now it comes down to this: Barry Zito gets paid no matter what happens. Would you rather pay Zito and Sanchez for Sanchez to pitch, or pay just Zito for Zito to pitch? At this point in time, I would keep Zito and cut Sanchez — but that’s debatable.
Grant: There is absolutely no reason to do anything drastic with Torres. He’ll be cheap and valuable, even as a fourth or fifth outfielder. But as far as him starting? That depends on what the Giants do in the offseason. I’m assuming Belt will be in left, even if Sabean has to tell Bochy to do it at gunpoint. While I appreciate what Nate’s done, I’m wary about guaranteeing him a starting spot in 2012. I think he’ll always be the perfect fourth outfielder, especially if they give him innings in center one of these years.
I’d feel much more comfortable entering 2012 with Torres as a starting CF than I would with Schierholtz as a starting RF. If Ross agrees to a small deal, I could be okay with a three-headed monster of Ross/Torres/Schierholtz in right and center. I’d much rather convince Beltran to stay, of course.
Sanchez is gone. I’m almost certain about that. They’ll trade him for a B-level prospect if they don’t non-tender him. He’ll make, what, $6 million or so in arbitration? The Giants aren’t going to want to pay that, but someone else probably will. I’m thinking Russ Ortiz for Merkin/Moss is probably a good comp. They’ll get something like that. Or a merkin made out of moss. One or the other.
2) Have the Rowand/Tejada DFAs changed your perception of Brian Sabean?
Julian: Sort of. As for the way he goes about building a team, no, my perception of him has not changed. But I think he has more of a willingness to “admit a mistake” than I’d previously thought, I guess. I’ve often heard arguments that Sabean wouldn’t release a guy like Rowand because it would mean he’s “admitting a mistake,” but this serves as a testament to the fact that that isn’t entirely true. One could argue that it was long overdue, but I nevertheless have more respect for Sabean than I’d have if he ended 2011 with Rowand/Tejada on the roster.
Zachary: My opinion of Sabean’s intelligence hasn’t changed at all, but I am glad that he showed more decisiveness than we’ve seen in the past. The Rowand move surprised me, but after reading about his stubbornness and habitual whining, it seems like it’s exactly what he wanted. Hopefully the front office will rethink their philosophies now that the poster boy for “gritty veterans” is finally gone. As for the other move — Jim Bowden could have figured this one out with his OPSBI’s. Tejada’s been playing at replacement level all year, and can’t even play the position he got signed to play adequately. In addition, his contract is a one year deal, and the Giants aren’t actually eating that much money — the whole thing just made way too much sense.
Grant: Nah. It’s telling that Baggs said that Sabean wasn’t really the one pushing for Rowand — that really did look like an unnecessary move from the start — but he’s still the same bag of pluses and minuses that he’s always been, and I still don’t trust his ability to tell a mediocre hitter from a bad hitter from a good hitter. Orlando Cabrera. Jose Guillen.
3) Which free agent would you most like to see the Giants target this offseason?
Julian: Jimmy Rollins. It’d be nice to have some stability at shortstop over the next few seasons, and I don’t think Brandon Crawford provides that. Of course, Rollins is 32 years old, so I wouldn’t feel comfortable with anything remotely long-term. Even a three-year deal makes me slightly uneasy, depending (of course) on the money. Anyway, he’s had a pretty good season — and still appears to be an above-average defensive shortstop with speed and a solid bat (I’m especially pleased with his BB/K, which is currently over 1.00).
Zachary: I’d love to see them make a cheap offer to David DeJesus. He’s putting the worst offensive numbers of his career, but he hasn’t been nearly as bad Oakland fans tend to think. He has the ability to take a walk, and unlike other “sluggers” on the market (Jason Kubel, Josh Willingham, etc.), he still rates well defensively. I’m inclined to give DeJesus the benefit of the doubt because 1) he may still be recovering from an injury, 2) half of his games are in Oakland, and 3) his playing time has been iffy due to the managerial situation. And while he’s not exactly young, it’s not like it would be a long-term deal. One or two years would be great.
Grant: I’d like Beltran to stay — it’d a good fit with years/money if he’ll take a two-year deal. A three-year deal is more likely, and that would weird me out a bit. I’d love to know what Jimmy Rollins would command. Is he going to be paid like a plus-defense shortstop with an MLB-average bat, or is he going to be paid like a former MVP who stinks of championships? If its the former, considering who else is on the market and what’s in the system, I’d think really hard about that.
Also, Pujols. Five years, $74 million. TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT, PAL. Final offer. I will only add three more years and $100M more, so don’t test me.