So as the Giants heat up (15-10 in the past 25, but 7 one-run losses - shaky pen - 6 one-run wins as well - that's classic Gigante bezball baby) the real talk with Giants fans will be this offseason...
First up, great resource is Cot's Contracts, now part of BP, here's the Gigantes link: Cots Giants
The Free Agents: Timmy Lincecum (Getting the QO); Hunter Pence (Getting the QO); Javy Lopez; Andres Torres; Chad Gaudin.
Torres is most likely gone. Lopez will most likely get re-signed as long as there is a two year deal in the works. Look for the Sabes special of 2/12MM and lots of groans from the peanut gallery. Hey! The Giants know a helluva lot more about bullpens (minors, majors, indy ball and everything in between - if they deem the best bet to spend their bills on a LOOGY, they know best).
Pence will get signed up to some hugeness, most likely right after the season to gussy up our bad beat and focus on next year. If he doesn't, look out, because there will be teams interested, QO or not. Timmy is an enigma, and his agents (same as Pence's btw) have a history of going down to the wire.
Chad Gaudin is an interesting case. Would he be worth a similar contract that Vogelsong got? That might be rich for him. That legal stuff won't be an issue, I'll tell you that right now.
The Options: Barry Zito will get a sweet $7MM buyout. At the start of the year, if he pitched like he did in 2012, that option might have been picked up. Zito put forth his worst effort in the French Vanilla, but he is still Big Game Barry Zito. Ryan Vogelsong has a 6.5MM option, and I have to believe the Giants will pick that up, slotting VSG into the 3 spot until they have something to push him down the line. The Giants don't want to be in a position to replace 3/5 of the rotation I don't think.
The Arbitrations: Jose Mijares (Arb 3, already making 1.8MM and a prime non-tender or trade candidate); Gregor Blanco (Arb 2, already making 1.35MM and looking like a solid 4th OF with his amazing defense); Joaquin Arias (Arb 2, already making 925K and looking like a solid utility IF and obvious backup for Fat Panda's shenanigans); Tony Abreu (Arb 1, minimum, and he pulled a hammy as I typed that); and... Brandon Belt. Super-2. Will the Giants lock him up? He's currently 6th in OPS+ in the entire NL. There are only 2-3 1B who are outperforming him: Goldschmidt, Votto and Freeman. We'll see where that one takes us.
So its 5 FAs, 2 Options, and 5 Arb-cases.
The Young-uns: Brandon Crawford is the guy with the most time. The other guys are on a bit of a shuffle, including Hector Sanchez, George Kontos, Jake Dunning, Brett Pill and Nick Noonan. You've got your roll-players, backup guys and pen guys here.
The Contract Year Guys: Big big issue is one Panda Sando, enough angst has been shed on these pages and others. The obvious play is to let him get in shape, shoot for his contract year. I'm skeptical, but will have no choice but to root for it as it plays out. Frustrating inconsistent player who can really torpedo a season. Gigantes better have a backup plan.
Who else? Sergio Romo! I love his slider, I love his style, but I do think that he just doesn't have the frame or stamina to be a "real" closer. He's done a good job, but you see him wearing down, and with a slow fastball and that frisbee slider, there will be times when he gets hit. The obvious groom job with Heath Hembree has now started. Let's see how it all plays out. The Giants may surprise with more bullpen moves instead of the obvious move to LF. I bet there will be some rage, rage, against the dying of that light.
The Big Plans: well, they need a LF, a RF, and two starting pitchers. Or have to get creative somehow. So Pence is the first domino to fall. Then you have to deal with Timmy. My idea is to hedge against Timmy leaving by going hard after Phil Hughes on a one-year reclamation project contract. If you can get him, he either slots into the 5th spot or the long man/emergency starter. Who knows if that's possible, but Hughes is young. Let's take a quick gander at where the youth is in the FA market (which is crazy thin, an obvious trend in MLB the past few years only accelerated now as more teams have mad money from cable to retain their talent).
Age 28 FA: Delmon Young (who knew! He looks and runs like he's 36); Phil Huges, Joba Chamberlain.
Age 29 FA: Boone Logan, Eric O'Flaherty, Jarrod Salty; Alexi Casilla.
Age 30 FA: Tim Lincecum, Edward Mujica, Kyle McClellan, Juan Carlos Oviedo (Club Option), Joe Smith (who?), Brian McCann, Dioner Novarro, Kurt Suzuki (Club Option), Adam Lind (Club Option), James Loney, Kendrys Morales, Mark Reynolds, Jacoby Ellsbury, Chris Young (Club Option), Frenchy Frenchman, Scott Feldman, Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jaminez (Might void option), Josh Johnson, Scott Kazmir, John Lester (Club Option), Mike Pelfrey, Edison Volquez.
I'm stopping right there. Age/level is a debate about prospecting that rages some. But as Giants fans are very familiar with, aged vets vary widely in ability as they progress down that path. For many years, Sabean has depended on the tried and true aged vet to fill out rosters. This became an easy punchline after a while, but what snuck up on comedians was the fact that the Giants actually have one of the youngest cores in baseball. It got so bad that the additions of Pagan and Scutaro were actually really big deals, they helped stabilize the club.
So here's the rundown on the young part of the FA market: I like them Yankee guys, I think one or two of those pitchers would be a very nice addition to the club. The age 30 pitchers class has several injured reclamation guys who might be worth a tire kick. And then there are guys like Loney or Morales that would allow the Giants to shift Belt to LF. There is also the Cuban 1B FA Abreu. A guy like Chris Young could be had pretty cheaply, the A's won't be picking up an 11MM contract for a guy they've been platooning. So with just this small sample in the age spectrum there are some options, and lets face it, age is a big factor. You want the youngest guys you can get, within reason, because baseball is a young man's game.
Lots of talk about the starting pitching and more hitters, but Bochy also wants more depth on the bench. And that pen needs some help. I know that Casilla's numbers look good, but to me he is strictly 7th/8th inning low to mid pressure max. And Romo looks shaky as well. Affeldt really got untracked with injuries. The Giants need some answers in that pen. Boone Logan baby! With the Yanks up against some salary cap stuff, and really loaded down with old vet salaries, the guys who like to overpay might just get in there and make it interesting.